I’m going to try…

I say that so many times for so many reasons. I’m going to try and restart that exercise program (after hurting my back in Jan!) I’m going to try and incorporate more vegetarian/vegan meals in to the menu (apparently the rest of the family’s opinions matter more than mine!) in April I said “I’m going to try and do a monthly Blogging challenge (tick) and a monthly art challenge where you do some form of art for a given prompt. (BIG ✅) not only did l do both the blog and art, I realised how much l’ve missed both of them!

So this month I’m going to try and do both again! So I’ve decided to try #kickinthecreative’s monthly challenge for May it’s called #bloomingmarvellousMay and each day of May you can produce a piece of art, any size, any medium anything goes and you post it and add the hash tag so that the gals Sandra and Tara from Kick in the Creatives can find your work. Some people take photos, some use real flowers in their submissions, some even write poetry on Blooms really anything is open. Does any one want to join me?

My first submission was called “Violet Avonia” these names as previously discussed are family names but l only found out yesterday that apart from Violet being a flower Avonia is a flowering succulent and her surname Campion is a flower as well! We have a bouquet of beautifulness!! So I thought in honor on Violets birth “I’m going to try and paint a Violet” despite only getting three hours sleep and being a bit like a zombie l think this turned out ok!

1st of May submission “Violet Avonia”

Then l wondered about the names of the other grandchildren and how l can make them into works of art for this challenge I’ve got some great plans.. follow along if you like! Today I’ll be creating for Violet‘s big sister Scarlett, then I’ll work my way through the rest of the Grandchildren that gives me a weeks worth of inspiration then l’ll be looking for suggestions so if you have a favourite flower yell out and l’m going to try and do a whole months worth! I’m not saying they’ll all be good! I’m not promising they’ll all be on paper or in water colour or paint, I’m going to try and mix things up!

I’m going to try and get back into regular writing and creating of art because part of me felt lost last year when it all went away! I’m going to try to find my way back!

Remembering My Soul Sister…

Today my heart was shattered.

Today heaven gained a new angel with beautiful shining wings but us left behind are crying for her loss.

In 2012- I signed up for an art class called “Painting the Goddess within” and how lucky was l to meet my own Goddess! We met by commenting on art things and realised we thought similarly and then we were partnered in an art swap! We each had to do a piece of art and send it to each other and so l had to add her as a Facebook friend so that we could exchange addresses.

We became Facebook friends on 5th Feb 2013

Carrol was a very loving, caring and sharing lady. So when she told me that she was going on a cruise and it was leaving from Australia l jumped at the chance to have her in the same country and spoke to the Bloke about having a few days off work so we could fly to where ever they were going to be in hopes of meeting my Soul Sister in real life! Unbeknownst to me her beautiful husband Willie took an extra step and planned for them to come to Victoria my own state so we could meet in person! Carrol and l chatted often counting down the days, she was overjoyed when we welcomed Grandchild number four into the world and her favourite sign off was “I can’t wait to hug that baby girl!”

So finally the day came and we went to the airport bright an early to be sure we didn’t miss them! I worried “What if l don’t recognise her!” My Bloke said “You’ll know her!” And sure enough l knew her! We wrapped each other in a big hug and then wrapped Willie in one too. I apologised “Sorry Willie but lm a hugger!” We spent the morning at our home and then took Carrol and Willie around the corner to meet our daughter Jasmin, son in law Brett and grandchildren Chase and baby Aria. Carrol got her wish to hug “that baby girl”

Carrol and”That baby girl” Aria!

Carrol got on the floor and laid down beside Aria on the rug and just touched her hand and spent time chatting to her. We eventually dragged her away and went for lunch. Soon it was time for Carrol and Willie to check into their accommodation and so we delivered them safely into the City. I had to work on the Monday doing exams but we held a “Welcome to Melbourne” party on the Tuesday as it was a public holiday for Melbourne Cup, the horse race that stops a Nation. I invited all the family and my real life Bestie because she’s my first Soul Sister and she needed to meet our new “Sister”

My Besties!! Deanne and Carrol, all my best parties are in the kitchen and these two proved that point!

We had a great day getting to know Carrol and Willie and for them to get to know all the people we love, people we had so often spoken about. I made Carrol and Willie adoptive Grandparents to our baby girl Aria!

Aria has American Adopted Grandparents!!

Although we spoke some more during their stay in Australia that was the last visit l had as l had unfortunately had to work the rest of that week.

Carrol and l spoke regularly on Facebook messenger and l called a few times. Sadly not often enough.

In 2019 when Carrol’s health started deteriorating and she was feeling miserable we cried together. It was then l made the plan! I’m going to America to see Carrol, maybe an impending visit would cheer her up and l’ll time it so that l can be there for her birthday. So l asked my Bestie Deanne if she would like to come. And then l included a visit with two other soul sisters one also in North Carolina and one in Indiana! All these women had strong friendships with me all had the love of art in common as well as many other things, so l thought maybe l can get them all together. I introduced them all to each other in a group chat along with my Texan Soul Sister who was then living in the UK. These strong women all got on wonderfully and so we started arranging how we could all meet. In the end it was decided we, Deanne and I, would fly to NC and visit with Carrol, then drive over and collect Dea and then us four would drive to the Smoky Mountains and JoEllen would drive to there from Indiana they worked out it was about half way. We’d spend a four day “Soul Sisters retreat” and then Dea and Carrol would drive home and we’d continue on with JoEllen and fly out of Indiana.

So Deanne and l booked our flights, got our visas and made plans, all paid up, JoEllen’s husband booked our cabin in the Smoky Mountains and l had even prepared a song play list on Spotify, we were all set to go and then…


Lockdowns started our flights were cancelled, we were not allowed to leave our suburb a 5 kms radius, much less our State, or Country. And just like a puff of smoke there went that dream!

And now the whole reason for going to America is gone. The world is a greyer place today without my Soul Sister Carrol.

Willie, Carrol, me and Rob. Tuesday 1st November 2016
Carrol gained her angel wings today!

Carrol l’ll never ever forget you. But at last you are pain free! Sleep well my Soul Sister till we meet again!

#AtoZchallenge “Y”

Y is for…

Yawn” excuse me for yawning but l slept terribly last night, well, l started off sleeping okay until suddenly at 3:36am l was awakened. At first l thought it might be Amber in labour, it sounded like someone walking up the stairs to my bedroom but no one was there.. weird! Usually when l can’t sleep a good yak (To talk persistently and meaninglessly; chatter. Prolonged, sometimes senseless talk; chatter) will usually tire me out but at that time of the mornings who is there to talk to! Which then reminded me of that silly song in the 60’s “Yakkity Yak” don’t talk back!!

So when my mind switches on you never know what’s going to happen and somehow l got it into my head, to make a yam pie. But where in Australia would l even find a yam?? (the edible starchy tuber of a climbing plant that is widely grown in tropical and subtropical countries.) probably subconsciously thinking about the yummy apple and pear pies l’d made last night!

After l got through imagining the ingredients l might need to make a Yam pie, 1/2 a cup of rich yellow butter chopped, sugar etc. I went through the plan of cooking it in my head so then l decided to Google Yam Pie recipes.

Yes! there were several different recipes, apparently Yams are also called sweet potatoes which l know we do have in Australia! Apparently you need to add the egg yolks one by one mixing them carefully but not over mixing, the recipe will yield six servings plenty for the family that are likely to try it!

Do you think you’d be brave enough to try a yam pie? So l put the question to the children tonight over dinner, the youngest son refused flatly but he wouldn’t even try my apple and pear pies!

And now a confession.. apart from Amber being due to have a baby any minute and me waking up at 3:36am none of the rest happened!

#AtoZchallenge “x”

How to use “X”

I’m in a fiX about how to add “X” to my family theme..

So l looked online and l found the word Ox, and wondered which child that could relate to? Strong as an Ox could relate to my Star Son!
But is that labelling him and putting him into a Box
As sly as a Fox could relate to Kit, there have been days when we’ve suspected but never could prove!
Mr Fix it has been attached to my Bloke more times than l can recall, lm always running to him to Fix something for me usually my eXcel spread sheet which records the number of pages l read each year!
Mix could also relate to stir and Star Son is what in Australia we fondly call a “Shit stirrer” when he stirs up people to get a response whether for good or evil!
Have you got Wax in your ears?!” Is a common phrase around here because they’re all so busy doing other stuff they either tune out or plainly ignore me and when l have to repeat myself more than once l’ll often ask them to “clean the wax from their ears!” It’s a skill which lm rather good at to be surrounded by a houseful of people and be able to tune out and do your own thing!
Another phrase we like is “I have an Axe to grind” (To have a grievance with someone, especially where one feels the need to seek damaging retribution.) meaning it’s going to hurt to hear it but it’s time you know!
Six comes after five but l was happy to stop with five children even though it’s an odd number, l didn’t want to push my mental health limitations.

I have been known to Flex my muscles occasionally l try not to be the nagging over baring Mother but sometimes you just have to!!

Texas is a place l’ve always wanted to go, one day post Covid l’ll get there. Next to Texas is Louisiana and that has been on my hit list for a long time too!

I started an Exercise program at the stat of the year. I am the laziest person l know, but in order to live a long healthy life and keep up with my Grandchildren l made some decisions to look after me first for a while. So January l started an Exercise program for women over 50 and l was really enjoying it l got myself into a little routine and was going great guns until our instructor asked us to add light weights. As soon as l started l thought to myself “this might not be a good idea” but l pushed ahead and hurt myself! My back was strained for weeks! Lesson to myself “listen to that little internal voice

Another thing we love to do is Explore, since we can’t go overseas we travel locally, and last week we had the car in for some front end work age got a snorkel and a two inch lift and a bull at all things to help us go off road and explore even more, but we had no vehicle and so we went on public transport and explored the city of Melbourne!

I think that’s enough “X” words!! Phew and this blog is done!!

#AtoZchallenge “W”

W is for Will (iam)

Today you will meet my final family member. I should just stop at W since l have no idea how to tie X,Y and Z into my “Family” theme.

William John Hine yes repeating the “John” name for my Dad, but also William is a family name. Unbeknownst to me l had a full blooded brother who was given up for adoption. It was a closed adoption because the Mother chose who his parents would be. She named him “Wayne” another W! His new parents named him William! I didn’t know anything about him till the day of my 25th birthday my Dad had died only 7 months earlier and l had told the Mother “it took two of you to create me and my Dad is gone l won’t celebrate my birthday!” so we just went to my sisters for dinner and the phone call came. This is a whole other story and not really mine to share BUT l still fully believe my Dad from Spirit sent my Brother to me on my birthday to help me get over his loss! And my brother William looks like my Dad!

So the “William” name was in my family but also The Bloke had a Grandfather called “John William” so we just reversed it to “William John”

Disclaimer- William was not planned although in hindsight l should have expected it and was not as shocked as l could have been because in 1992 a Clairvoyant told me l would have four children. When l had number three and he was a boy my first husband got “the snip” and we laughed about how wrong SHE was! The last laugh was on me when recovering from gallstones and gallbladder removal in 2001- l fell pregnant with Star Son!

I had gestational diabetes with Amber and then again with William, Amber was 9 pound and Will was taken two weeks early on January 23rd 2002 weighing in at a hefty 9 pound 4 ounces! Thank goodness those Dr’s decided he was cooked enough they said he would have easily have been 10 pound!

Four days old home from hospital my Buddha baby!

So when William ( at birth we called him Billy it seemed like William was such a big name!) was born everyone thought he had bruising on his face from the forceps he was rather stuck l even heard the Dr mumble “He needs to come out we can fix a broken shoulder!” He had shoulder dystocia ( Shoulder dystocia is a birth injury that happens when one or both of a baby’s shoulders get stuck inside the mother’s pelvis during labor. In most cases of shoulder dystocia, babies are born safely. But it can cause problems for both mom and baby.) he was also a bit shocked and who could blame him being pulled out like that so he went right to special care!

He was checked over and deemed all good and so allowed to come in with me to stay and feed, the hospital staff assuring me “the bruising will fade” At his six week check up the bruising had not faded and perhaps even darkened. So a specialist appointment was set up and off we went. Turns out it was a birth mark! It was in fact one called “Cafe Au Lait” ( Café au lait spots are a type of birthmark characterized by flat patches on the skin. They are light brown in color but can darken with sun exposure. These marks are distinct because they often have irregular edges and vary in color.) No understanding at that time why or how or what treatment he could have, more appointments and more testing. The removal of said birth mark because it included his eye was deemed too risky for someone so young and we could have followed up later in life but we decided when he was old enough to understand he could make his own decision and we would support him in that. And so we had this beautiful healthy boy with a marked face!

The Bloke used to wear a belt buckle with the Phantom Good sign on it and it used to always press into my stomach as he hugged me and l had joked “Be careful the baby will be born with a good sign seared into his face!” I regret those words all the time!

Reading his “Big Beat Magazine” while Mum was Secretary and Treasurer of a rock n roll club!

As “Billy” grew his fun personality started to shine and he would ask “Why didn’t any of you have this mark?” Pointing to his face. I quickly came up with a story.. “When the angels were bringing you to us, you were so heavy her wing accidentally brushed your face and left that mark” we told him it made him special and showed him the little mark on the back of Amber’s leg saying “Look how much more special you are Amber’s is so small!” So he was content with that. One day we were in the shops and a mother and a little boy about Billy’s age were next to us and the little boy said “Why is that boys face all dirty?” His Mother looked over and turned bright red and quickly shushed her son and then my “Star Son” piped up and said “It’s my birth mark the angels wing touched me when she brought me to Mum and Dad and left this mark!” The other little boys eyes grew wide and he said “Oh wow! An angel touched him Mum” the other Mum looked at me embarrassed and smiled. But right then l knew he’d be fine!!

Billy with Jock and Tanny his Paternal Grandparents on his first birthday.
Meeting his first kangaroo
When he turned two we got Avalon as a wedding present. Two babies together.
A few months later our cat had kittens and we kept “Carl Purrrkins” and they enjoyed afternoon naps together.
Three generations of Hine’s Jock, Billy and Rob

William was always such a happy boy and when he was three. I pulled his big brother Jarrah out of school to “home school” him, he needed more one on one time than the school could offer and so l did it myself but what to do with Billy? I gave him exactly the same supplies Jarrah had and l sat him beside Jarrah at the table and the three of us began homeschooling. Both of them thrived! The girls would come home at school and ask Jarrah and Billy “what did you do today?” And they would relate how we had studied the phases of the moon and spell the planet names or something similar in the end the girls wanted to stay at “Mums school” too! By the time Billy went to Kinder as a four year old, he could read, write his name and cut and paste like a pro!

Homeschooling age three!

At Kindergarten his teacher was a first year teacher and young and she loved her “Willeee-am” (She always seemed to stretch his name out!) l asked him as l enrolled him “What do you want the other children to call you Billy or what?” He replied “l’m William John Hine” and so for Kinder he was William! Crystal his teacher was proactive about his birth mark and so when the children started asking questions she invited me to join in the discussion which William lead, about his birth mark and to get the awkwardness out of the way, a few other parents were also present and William stood up in front of the class and told the children about his birth mark, no it didn’t hurt, nope you can’t rub it off, yes you can touch it! They all rushed forward to touch his little face. As we left that afternoon and other children sang out their Goodbyes l heard one little boy telling his Mum all about William’s birth mark and how the angels wing touched him! Will never had a day of bullying due to Crystal’s “getting it out in the open” and lm thankful to her for that!

What a stunner! About four years old!
Turning Seven!

At Primary school registration l asked him again “What would you like to be called?” He replied “Just put down Will” and from then on he’s been Will! Because he went to school with most of his kinder friends there was never any teasing about his birth mark. It wasn’t until he decided he wanted to play football that it became an issue!

I had thought l had escaped that dreaded “Sports Mum” title. Amber had played a season of basket ball but was too injury prone to continue and none of the others were into sports either playing or watching and then came Will.. he seemed to be left handed and excel at all things sporty and so he started off at “Aus kick” an hour on Saturday mornings, The Bloke joined in as a coach and that was their time together, occasionally Tanny (The Blokes Mum read about her at letter F!) and l would go and watch them train but it’s winter and cold.

His first ever camping trip he’s 10!

Then he decided he wanted to play for “real” and because he loved it so much and was good at it, l became the thing l never wanted to be “Sports Mum” and l’d walk him down to training and I’d walk laps of the oval while he trained and then the Bloke would pick us up on his way home from work. Then on Sundays there would be games against other teams. I hate the cold, I’m a “Hibernate all winter type of gal” until Footy cane along, suddenly l was the Mum on the sidelines cheering. He told me off after one game because l was “cheering too loudly” I embarrassed him and so after that l’d clap and silently cheer. And l never told the umpire how to umpire either because he hated that in the other sideline mothers, some were very aggressive and loud! And he would say “Mum lm so glad you don’t do that!” One Mother, one time commented that l never got involved in Wills game and so l told her “Will requested me not to make a fool of myself by yelling and screaming” she was quite taken a back, l never did make friends of the other parents at football after that! Because Will was the smallest on his team his Under 9’s coach had nick named him “Big Will” and it stuck right through his football career which lasted until he was 17 years old. He broke himself. He did his ACL, his MCL and his meniscus in his knee, total knee reconstruction but more on that later…

He’s always been a bit of a daredevil
Weekend trip to Bright in winter brrrr!
Happy Day! He got his learners permit to drive

On the football field was the only time he copped some flack about his birth mark, he even spoke to us about having it removed and we explained to him what the Drs had said but that was all those years ago and by now laser technology had improved and we told him “Would you like to go and see someone about that? We’ll support you in whatever decision you make!” In the meantime the Bloke had been playing around with photo shop and taken away Will’s birthmark and l really hated it! But we showed Will who quickly said “It doesn’t even look like me!” One year in school photos the photographer had flipped the image and it took me ages to figure out where Will was in the photo and what was wrong with this photo? His birthmark was on the wrong side! I hated those photos too! One particularly rough football match a few kids in the opposition team had started mouthing off in regards to his birthmark and he told me so l told him “it’s just because they’re jealous you are a better player” they were trying to throw him off his game. BUT his big sister Jasmin was having none of that! And when the game was over boy did she let loose! We had to restrain her so that she didn’t go to the other team and cause trouble. She emailed the club and let loose with a barrage of complaints. But also some of that opposition team members had reported those couple of boys who had been saying stuff and they were made to apologise and the coaches came to apologise but that was not enough for Jasmin. Look out when Big Sisters get involved!!

In April of 2019 first game of the season, he had been on the field for 20 minutes and he got tackled and down he went, l sat there silently urging him “Come on Wills get up mate!” But he didn’t get up and they carried him off the field. As his Mum l wasn’t allowed into the coaches box but Dad as team manager was so he came back to report “Oh he’s strained his knee he’ll be ok” at half time when the rest of the team went into the club rooms Wills was left sitting in the coaches box with an ice pack so l could go sit with him and l knew it wasn’t “just strained” but who want to listen to Mum intuition?!

Really loooong story short he had broken his ACL, MCL and Meniscus the trifecta of knees! He ended up going in for surgery on May 1st as a seventeen year old l could go with him and l stayed by his side as much as possible. He was released from hospital two days later and seemed to be mending.

Pre surgery reassuring me he’s ok!

But on Mother’s Day it went dreadfully wrong, he spiked a temp and couldn’t keep anything down by Tuesday nothing was helping and he passed out and l was frantic we got him into our Dr and she thought it was the Flu so gave him some anti nausea meds and sent him home, next day he saw his own Dr who took one look at his knee and said “Get him straight back to the hospital” within an hour he was in ER and so dehydrated they couldn’t get a vein to get a drip in. My Poor Star Son!

When you’re a mother you have to put on a brave face when your child is ill or hurt. I remember when Billy was about two years old (he was still Billy then) and l had taken him to the supermarket and he had been behaving so well l treated him to a little mesh bag of Easter eggs. On the way home l notice he had started drooling and his eyes had gone all red and watery and he was making a little coughing noise and it suddenly hit me “Oh my gosh is he allergic to something?!” So l quickly called the Bloke who is allergic to nuts but not peanuts or almonds. And l explained what was going on asking him “Is he having an allergic reaction?!” Seems like he was soo almost ran home with him in my arms asking Rob “What shall l do?” We got him through that and when l read the label l saw “Praline” when l googled praline it said hazelnut “l almost killed my child” l wept and moaned but only after he was fully recovered! He never knew the heart stopping fear all he knew was “Mummy carried me home and gave me an icy pole!”

So when he is seventeen and in hospital surrounded by Drs and nurses all trying to do different things to him, lm wringing my hands outwardly but inwardly screaming “this is my baby fix him!” Ok so he’s six foot tall and solid but he’s STILL my Baby! Within an hour he was back in surgery having his knee drained of infected fluid and that night we both again spent the night in the hospital. At three AM the next morning the nice sister came in an offered to make me a hot drink or food because my mind is churning about how sick my baby is. You can read that post Here there are a few posts after that but it was a nightmare!

Now my “Baby” is over six foot tall, he’s stacked on muscle and is a builders apprentice. He’s had a fourth knee surgery because the original graft failed probably due to the infection present so during Covid lockdown October 2020 he had the fourth surgery but all went smoothly and only a few weeks ago he got the all clear to be a teenager.. except Mum said “No football!!”although technically now an adult at 19, he can do what he wants to do- so if he chooses to go back and play football l have refused to attend l cannot go through that again! He drives and has a life but he’s always and forever going to be “My Baby” simply because of his birth order!

Will and Bree together four years. We ALL love Bree!
Sometimes he still gets silly with his Mum!

#AtoZchallenge “V”

Letter V has not yet arrived!

We’ll letter “V” here you are and the one l wanted to introduce to you Grandchild number 7 is not here yet! Technically she’s not due until April 30th but we all hoped she’d come early and my guess had been yesterday Anzac Day, alas she’s not here yet.. if she arrives before the end of this challenge l’ll come and do a second “V” posting.. if she’s really late l’ll do a “Welcome to the family” post on baby “V

So instead.. what to do? As usual l went to “Dr Google” and asked for a list of family words starting with “V” l’ll relate some of those into my family.. let’s start!

First up is “Vacation” Great family word since ALL of my family love a good Vacay– although in Australia we call them Holidays! The Bloke and I tend to wander off on “Vacations” for our birthdays and our Anniversary so that’s twice a year at least since l married him in his birthday! One memorable “Vacation” in more ways than one was a family trip we took to Rarotonga, l wrote about that a few days ago, another memorable “Vacation” was when my cousin Lee (read about her in letter L) was going on a “Girls trip” with her daughters to meet some friends in Bali, I’d never even had Bali in my sights until Cuzz mentioned it and l wondered out loud if maybe l should come?!she said “Of course!” And we had an awesome time! The next year l returned with my husband for my birthday in October and then again the following February/March for our wedding anniversary which brought us home into Covid lockdown. We both love the Indonesian island and will go back again when it’s safe to do so it’s just a six hour flight from home and there’s many more places we’ve yet to see!

V” number two is “Valuable”- Before my husband retired, time was valuable and so we would try and cram as much as possible into our weekends, plus his four weeks off over Christmas. Always a camping trip or at least a weekend away. Family time is Valuable because Children grow much too quickly, and you don’t get to pause time and re-do it, so in Autumn we’d always find a park and roll around in and throw autumn leaves because we could! In Winter it’s Football season and too many of my weekends have been spent freezing on the edge of a football field watching “Star Son” play. Spring when the nights are less frigid it would be time to plan our longer trips interstate. And Summer well always surrounding water either fishing on a river bank or looking for creatures in rock pools at the beach. Happy memories for me at least!

Number three- “Values” (Your values are the things that you believe are important in the way you live and work) My number one value in raising a family is honesty and trust. I guess they’re similar because if you can’t believe what someone’s telling you how can you trust them. One thing l’ve always told my children and now lm telling my Grandchildren “Tell me the truth and l’ll help you fix it but if you lie how can l help you with that?” I especially wanted my daughters to learn this because l didn’t want them telling me they were at someone’s house and sneaking off to some other place. I tried to explain to them that if they were injured or missing and lm looking at someone’s place instead of somewhere different how can l get them help. Thank goodness these days for mobile phones l just text them and they text back with wherever they are. Another value l have stood by is respect- you don’t have to agree with everyone all the time but be respectful of their choices.

V” number four- “Variety”- Variety is the Spice of life.. who had heard that saying? I have many times. I like routine and having a child with ADHD and ODD meant that routine and same same all the time were important to him and to our family running smoothly. It’s only been since he left home that we have been able to add some variety but even now- living with a 29, 19, and 7 year old, there are certain meals they will eat and so we’re still somewhat stuck in routine BUT when the Bloke and l go out either travelling or camping “Variety” comes into play! I can cook different vegetables l can try new foods, vary our meal times, variety comes in then!

Number five “V”- Vigilance, oh yes! I have been accused of being over Vigilant , is it a fault in my Mothering skills or is it an inborn trait? I don’t know but l do remember when each of my children were babies those first few nights they slept through the night, l’d creep into their room to see if they were still breathing, if l couldn’t see their little chests rise l’d touch them to make sure they were warm! And feeding, gosh l was like an Eagle eyed thing watching them learning to eat so they wouldn’t choke on my watch! My Vigilance did not however prevent ADHD and ODD. Maybe lm just very cautious?!

V” number Six- “Volunteer,” l love feeling needed and so lm usually one of the first to raise my hand. Like when the Rock n Roll club needed help- well my husband Volunteered me for it but l loved it! Learning new skills and volunteering to do the Radio show and the Rock n Roll dances. We helped with a fund raiser “Push for Polio” to raise money to help immunise third world countries. We did all the decorating and setting up and packing up of the venue. I always volunteer to help decorate themed parties for Grandchildren, then l usually dress to match the theme! Food- always volunteer to bring food.

Number seven “V” is “Vow” When l found out l was going to be a Mother, l vowed l would not Mother the way l was Mothered. So l went out and brought myself a journal and made that Vow in it to always remind myself. So far l can state l have not Mothered like MY Mother, lm not saying my ways perfect in fact l can promise you each Child will tell you I’m flawed to them in one way or another BUT the one thing l swore l would never ever do is lie to my children and l can guarantee l never have! When they ask hard questions they always always get honest answers and if l don’t know l’ll find out or admit l don’t know. But never ever will my children say “She lied about that!” And that is why my shelf full of journals is an open shelf, they all have access to my deepest darkest thoughts and feelings. So far none have read them but they’re sitting there waiting. There are NO skeletons in my closets!

Tomorrow is “W” and you’ll get to meet my last family member and youngest child. I’ll explain why he’s called “Star Son” Happy Monday everyone.

#AtoZchallenge “U”

U is for Ursula

Although not actually a person “U” was always going to be “Ursula” and she is our camper.

My Bloke has a habit of naming inanimate objects and even plants and trees! We once got a wisteria plant for a gift from my In-Laws and the Bloke promptly named it “Wanda”- after the 50’s singer Wanda Jackson. Then we got a totem apple tree and we called her “Bella”

When we got our first Volkswagen Jetta she was promptly named “Jennifer” and the Bloke’s nephew has her now! When we upgraded we got a Volkswagen Highline Passat and named her “Heidi” then we got a box trailer and called her “Matilda” and had a sign writer put on the back “Waltzing around Australia with Matilda” we carried all our camping gear in it including “Tamara” tent and then when Star Son got his tent he named it “Trent” our Daughter and Son in law now have all of that stuff.

When we upgraded to a camper trailer we researched it thoroughly and decided on an Ultimate camper. We viewed them and l told the Salesman “You know the rules.. if you name it you keep it” he laughed and said “So what have you named it?” The first thing that popped into my mind was “Ursula” he laughed and we went home but the seeds were planted.

A year or so later we were in the position to order her and scheduled pickup date was September 2016. But in order to tow an Ultimate camper we needed to upgrade our tow vehicle- so we got “Priscilla” Prado, our dynamic duo!

Priscilla Prado and Ursula Ultimate- our dynamic duo
Ursula Ultimate, Priscilla Prado and Star Son on hand over day we drove to New South Wales to collect her.
Our Sign writer friend made us name stickers!
January 2021 Lake Lancoorie Vic
Ursula all set up in Gadds Bend Victoria.
Nov 2020.

Our standard of camping has definitely improved with Ursula’s arrival. We’ve been accused of “Glamping” and that’s ok. It doesn’t matter how you camp just get out there and do it!!

We’ve camped all the States and territories of Australia and still have lots more to see. Now the Bloke’s retired we plan to spend longer periods of time on the road and seeing more of our country.

And now we say “Home is where we park it”

#AtoZChallenge “T”

T is for… travel

T has had me stumped about how l can tie this into family. But l guess l can use travel because we’ve done some as a family and also our adult children now like to travel.

If l had to choose only one form of travel it would be flying. I love to fly! I love the small seats, l love being strapped in and l love knowing when l step out if that plane Adventure awaits!! l wonder due to current circumstances when we’ll enjoy that kind of traveling again?!

Having a family usually means money is tight and so the luxury of flying is not something l ever expected to do with my children. When the first three were small, one year we caught a train to New South Wales to Tumbarumba near Wagga Wagga and stayed with some friends for a week. That was a huge adventure!

Mostly travel was by car, so we’d pack the children into the car and head to Queensland to visit our relatives, three days to get there with over night cabins in between, lots of “l spy” and “Spotto” games enroute, lots of bathroom breaks and picnic lunches in parks and play grounds so that little legs could run and climb and wear themselves out.

Then when we were in the Rock ‘n’ Roll group one year we put all five children and ourselves into a plane and flew to Queensland for a festival, we helped on the stall selling things and went to some concerts, and then had a few extra days there as a family holiday in a cabin in a holiday resort, with pools and playground a child’s idea of heaven!

Tasmania 9th Feb 2021

As the older four started to grow up they started heading out. When Jasmin turned 18 she and three girl friends went to America! I eagerly listened to her plans and helped her pack her suitcase and cried as she left because l wanted to go to Las Vegas and San Francisco too! And maybe also because she was flying from my nest. Kit has been overseas a few times Israel, The Netherlands and New Zealand.

When Star Son turned ten, we had a trip to fly to Cook Islands to Rarotonga our first overseas trip together. The Bloke, Star Son and I. We had his birthday at home but then we had to cross the international dateline and so it would be his birthday again, so the Captain announced it on the plane and everyone sang Happy Birthday to him! We were going to Rarotonga to meet a penpal of mine. This would be a prime learning experience for a ten year old boy. We learnt to snorkel, and saw coral eating fish! He learnt to speak the local dialect with help from the staff at the resort he was able to tell the bus driver where we wanted to go! The bus driver was so shocked! He asked if Star Son went to school there! He tried local foods and learnt to swim and had his first Mocktail (no alcohol) l really feel like it was a great learning curve. He kept a journal along side mine to share with his class when he got home, his teacher was very impressed with his “Rarotongan Adventures”

Tasmania 2021

While most of our travel has included at least one child and a lot of it has been involving camping, we have been very fortunate to visit every state and territory in Australia. More than a lot of people l know.

I once read a quote that said “Travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you rich” and l totally agree.

Star Son is now 19 but when he was 16 he told us “Do you know Mum and Dad you’ve wasted six months of my life with this camping crap!” I felt sad that he thought all our travel adventures were crap and so l asked him “What about that morning we watched the sunrise over Uluru? And what about that day we did the whale cruise and saw all the seals in South Australia? What about playing down ball on wave rock in Western Australia? and that time for my birthday when we did the Crocodile tour down the Alligator river in Darwin- when you hand fed that six metre crocodile?” He shrugged and said “I’ve had enough” he’s not been camping with us since. It took a while to adjust to life without children.

Star Son has recently introduced his girlfriend Bree to camping and they go with another couple and spend weekends away. He FaceTimes me to show me his camp sites and send me photos of their adventures and for someone who a few years ago thought camping was “crap” he’s doing alright. We’ve lead by example.

Tasmania 2021

Now The Bloke and l are planning to do our kind of travel. Mostly it’ll be car trips and camping because we love that freedom but we’re also planning (after Covid) trips to USA and Egypt and parts of Europe, boat, plane, train and car. However you travel just do it!!

Perry Sandhills- New South Wales- April 2021

#AtoZChallenge “S”

S is for Sweetpea

Letter S is for Sweetpea, l’ve spoken about her in plenty of posts but today you get to meet my girl. Scarlett Olivia Hamilton. Sweetpea or Baby cake.

Scarlett was born to daughter number two Amber, (you can read about her in letter A) On November 21st 2013. Amber had a great pregnancy and although l called her being in labour she was not convinced until the Dr said “You’re not going home” how did Mum know? Because her symptoms were the same as when l was in labour with Jasmin (read about her in letter J) and although technically Scarlett is Grandchild number two, with Inara (read about her in letter I) being born first, we have no contact with Inara and so really Scarlett is my first born Grandchild.

Jasmin and l were with Amber while she was in labour, Jasmin was two weeks away from delivering Chase (yep read about him in C) so she stayed with Amber until they decided to try forceps and then they asked Jasmin to wait outside. Let’s not traumatise the pregnant woman!

Scarlett Olivia Hamilton took her own precious time to join the family and when she did Amber wasn’t feeling so good so the midwife wrapped her in a towel and said “Here Grandma! Hold this!” And l have been holding her ever since! She was only a tiny thing 6 pound something oh and she was angry! Clearly not happy at the interruption to her plans! So l walked her, l rocked her, l welcomed her to our family and l told her that l was always always going to be here for her no matter what! And then l sang the “Sweetpea” song.

Ohh that face!! She is the image of her Mum at that age.

I stayed in the hospital with my daughter and Scarlett for the two days before they were allowed home and then Grandpa came to collect us. He was so careful carrying that precious cargo!

Amber has been a single parent from the start but we’ve all had turns in raising Scarlett, it’s like a small village in our house and she knows that all of us will help her out.

Grandma and Scarlett- Christmas morning with silly glasses!
Her birthday was a Fairy theme so Grandma was Queen Fairy! She was so excited to see my costume! Her little face really says in all!

Some have said that l’ve bonded with this child more than others and yes l guess that is true since we live together. So when she wants to know something or learn something lm right there to teach her or assist her. She’s my favourite Art Student and she picks up things super quickly. We read together most nights and have been doing so since she was born. And though parenting skills improve and evolve sometimes a good cry and a Grandma hug fix it all!

Christmas morning in bed huggles before opening presents!
Grandma, Scarlett and Mum- Yoga practice during lockdown, she wasn’t convinced at how good yoga is but she loves Downward Dog pose!

Though she be but little she is fierce- Oh, when she’s angry, she is keen and shrewd!
She was a vixen when she went to school.
And though she be but little, she is fierce.

A quote by Shakespeare- a mid summers night dream. Suits our pocket rocket. She’s little and delicate looking but get on her wrong side and she’s loud and expressive she’s even been known to let fly with words we didn’t know she knew! And we stand there with our mouths hanging open in shock before l usually have to leave the room to laugh at her use of that particular word so perfectly placed!

One day she was having an argument with her Uncle Will (meet him at letter W- keeping the best for last LOL) and both their voices got louder so l came out of the laundry to be judicator and was just in time to see her throw up her hands and stomp her little foot and yell at him “Will you just bloody listen to me for a minute?!” I turned around and went back to the laundry she can handle her own!

But with such swings of temper come frustration and tears and we found that so especially during lockdown when she had to do distance education. It took all of our skills to try and get her through distance education lessons and we had to take turns her Mum and her Grandpa and l at playing “good cop bad cop” every single day one of us was a bad cop. Until one day we ALL threw up our hands and stormed off to different rooms for a break. In the end she came to me crying and being a grandma it’s easy to forget that just three minutes ago she was a devil child l took her in my arms and snuggled into my recliner and just as l did at her birth l sang “Sweet pea” and held her and rocked her and soon her body relaxed the muscles less tense, still l kept singing and then the tears stopped and still l kept singing and then l felt it that huge sigh that says “I’m done fighting it” she was fast asleep and Grandpa snuck into the living room and said “You’ve still got it Grandma!” Indeed l have!

Life is hard whether you’re young or old, she doesn’t process things maybe like other children, so if taking the time to sit and hug and reassure her that lm still, I’m always here for her is what it takes then that’s what l’ll do! Because the day Scarlett Olivia was born l became a Grandma and l never grew up with one so lm being for my grandchildren what l wish l had when l was growing up. Someone that’s on their side all the time!

My Fridge photo gallery- top row- birth order Inara, Scarlett and Chase. Second row- Jasmin’s wedding with Amber, Jasmin and I, Rob and I at the wedding, Chase and Scarlett after her and l had a mud fight! People were horrified but her little giggles were like music!

#AtoZchallenge “R”

R is for Robert and Rafiki

Well now we’re getting to the juicy stuff. R is for Robert and Rafiki.

Robert “no middle name” Hine. (We always say his Middle name is Trouble because when he comes to me and says “Hun l had an idea!” We all groan out loud and then l ask “How much will this cost?) aka “The Bloke” for my readers who are not Australian might not appreciate his name “The Bloke” ( Bloke is a slang term for a common man in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. The earliest known usage is from the early 19th century, when it was recorded as a London slang term.) but l don’t class MY Bloke as common. When l first met him l thought he was way above my league l guess if you put a crisp white shirt and tie on anyone they’re above my league. And l told him so and his reply was “But lm just a regular Aussie Bloke” and it’s just stuck. When we were newly “dating” he introduced me to his long time friend TJ as “This is my new Sheila

(sheila– A girl or woman. This word first appeared in Australian English in 1832 with the spelling shelah. It was initially used in Australia to refer to a woman of Irish origin, but from the late 19th century onwards it became a general term for a woman or girl)

Then of course he went to work and told them all about “His Sheila” so much so that they actually thought my name was Shiela and not Kim!

Rob in short is my husband and we are as different as chalk and cheese and you know that old saying “opposites attract” true! It just somehow works. He dragged me up a few levels and l’ve calmed him down a bit!

Rob is the middle child, he has an older Brother and a younger sister. Rob was born on February 29th 1956- when the Olympic Games were in in Melbourne. Rob is a leap year baby and so l married him that day in 2004! Rob has a wicked sense of humour although not always appropriate. I do a LOT of eye rolling. Rob is a trooper, he doesn’t like flying but he knows l do and so he’ll book trips with flights because he knows it’s my happy place!

Early on in our relationship we went down to the shops and we’re waiting to cross the road he wasn’t paying attention and went to step in front of a car l grabbed his hand and kept holding it. He suddenly realised “I don’t do public displays of affection l don’t think I’ve ever held hands walking down the street” from that day on he holds my hand whenever we walk!

Stopping to smell the magnolias in the Hobart Botanical Gardens. Because l stop to smell every flower l can.
This cork tree came with this sign
My Bloke hugged the tree because it told him too AND he says “It’s older than me!”
This year was a leap year and so he had a birthday AND an Anniversary and we spent a romantic night in a fancy spa apartment in Hobart.
Sight seeing in Tasmania

He indulges me maybe a little too much, but he tells anyone who suggests l am a spoilt Princess “She gives as good as she gets” Marriage is a partnership and we decided early on we wouldn’t let our children come between us. When we first stated dating l told my cousin “He’s too good for me l’ll give it six months” we were “Just friends” and here we are 21 years later. It’s getting better!

Next in our list is our second Grandson Rafiki Jack Hine. Rafiki or as he calls himself (and Grandma thinks it’s super cute) “Feeki” is the son of our Eldest Son Kit and his partner Esther. You can read about Kit in letter C for Christopher and Esther is under letter E.

You can read about the lovely way Kit and Esther surprised us with their announcement. We have been blessed to live close enough to be able to offer support and be on call when needed.

Rafiki Jack Hine was born 29th July 2018. Named Jack after Rob’s Father and it’s one of the few times l’ve seen my Bloke cry!

Our Boy “Feeki” is a free spirit he has the most infectious little giggle and blonde curls. Usually when we go to visit we take some treats, depending on the time of the day Grandpa will take chocolate muffins or profiteroles and so now whenever Esther tells “Feeki” Grandma and Grandpa are coming to visit he squeals “CAAAAKE!”

It was the worst during lockdown when we could only drive in a 5 kilometres bubble. Because Kit, Esther and Feeki live in Castlemaine which is about an hour or so away. Rob checked in at least weekly but not seeing them for so long was terrible it’s always a worry that they’ll forget who we are. The other Grandchildren live within the 5 km bubble so we would walk and meet somewhere and visit a park or just walk together.

So there are family members RobThe Bloke” and RafikiLittle Dude” second Grandson. That’s it for R… but tomorrow is S and more to come!