The Red Lipstick Dare

Andrea from Fox in Flats dared us to wear Red Lipstick every day for a week.

I have never participated in one of Andrea’s dares before – but I hardly ever wear lipstick – in fact I don’t usually put on make up very often at all – so this felt a little glamorous and a little fun.  On some of the days I even found myself putting in a little extra effort  – putting on foundation and eyeliner as well.

I have never been really happy with my lips – I always felt like my top lip was too thin when I smile.  But taking pictures of my red lips every day was interesting – I have developed a new appreciation for my lips.  I guess I kind of do like them after all – and now know I like wearing lipstick too.

A confronting thing about the red lipstick dare was to actually take photos of myself – just to put on the internet for others to see. I have never really been confident with my body image and right now I need to lose about 20 kilos.  I usually spend most of my time taking pictures of the rest of the family and dodging getting pictures taken of myself because I usually feel that (due to my appearance) I ruin the photo just by being in it.

But I actually began to look forward to taking the pictures / getting Miss O to take a shot of me for the challenge – even though there I would be, on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for everyone to see, flaws and all.

A negative person could argue that perhaps I have become more narcissistic, however I like to think that maybe, just maybe, thanks to this challenge, that I have become a little more comfortable in my own skin, flaws and all.

The best thing about the red lipstick dare was getting to buy a new lipstick and lipliner seeing the creative ways everyone took pictures of their lips and it was uplifting to see how encouraging and supportive everyone who participated in the challenge was of everyones photos.  Want to see more? Head Over to Instagram or Webstagram to check out the #redlipstickdarefoxinflats pics.

Without any further ado, here are my photos from this week’s Red Lipstick Dare.

Day 1. Wow. I have never really looked closely at my own lips before #redlipstickdarefoxinflats

Day 1 – Hubby asked why I had lippy on. When I said it was for #redlipstickdarefoxinflats he shook his head, mumbled something about being insane & went back to bed. But it kinda feels nice to have nowhere to go & have lippy on “just coz”.

Day 1 – On the couch, watching tv, with lippy on. Pic courtesy of Miss O. #redlipstickdarefoxinflats

Day 1 – Thank you little Avon sampler! #redlipstickdarefoxinflats This got me across the line today : )

Still Day 1 – Any excuse will do for mummy-daughter selfies : ) #redlipstickdarefoxinflats

Day 2 – Ready For Work #redlipstickdarefoxinflats

Day 3 – Playing with Instacollage and Splash of Colour #redlipstickdarefoxinflats

Day 4 – Brand New Lipstick. I never thought I would like bright red as I usually go for more deep colours. But I was surprised that I like it. #redlipstickdarefoxinflats

Day 4 – Silliness just to amuse myself…. #redlipstickdarefoxinflats

Day 5 – Today i am accessorising with a necklace made for me by Mr J at daycare. #redlipstickdarefoxinflats

Day 6 – Stepping outside for a photo. I am really having fun with the #redlipstickdarefoxinflats Photo courtesy of Miss O.

Day 6 – Smiley Close Up #redlipstickdarefoxinflats Photo Courtesy of Miss O

Day 7 – A quick selfie before work coz everyone else is still asleep #redlipstickdarefoxinflats

Thanks to Andrea for setting the dare – and thanks everyone else who participated in this week’s dare.  It was a lot of fun.
Linking up with The Surprise Beginning for Simply the Best Saturday!

Pop over and say Hi to Lauren! She is gorgeous!

The Surprise Beginning

3 Little Bitches

As parents, we want our children to feel loved and secure. We want them to have confidence. To have friends. To be happy. But what should we do when we find out that they are not happy.

I was short and skinny child with brown eyes, thick eyebrows and short brown hair. The minute my hair started to get longer, I was taken to the hairdresser to have it cut. I didn’t have a choice in this. I felt like I looked like a boy. I felt ugly.

Although I participated in many extra-curricular activities, I was mostly always a loner at school. I never really quite ‘fit in’. I was never in the popular crowd. Even as far back as grade one, playing a game of hide and seek with my classmates, I went to ‘hide’ and was never found. I was in the middle of the playground crouching behind some kind of playground equipment. Eventually a teacher came along and asked if I was alright. At this moment I realised that the game had finished. Everyone had moved onto something else. I was alone. I had been forgotten. Or maybe I was never really included in the game.

When I was 10, I had a birthday party. Quite a few people from my class were invited. Only two people from my class sent back the rsvp and only one person actually came. Luckily for me, mum had invited my cousins and a couple of her friends had kids and they came too. Mum had made an awesome cake for me. I got some cool presents. I had fun. But there was something I was feeling – deeper under the surface – that I never talked about. Something that I was sad about. I wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t pretty enough. I would never be popular.

Over the course of primary school, I had a couple of close friends. They were never part of the popular group either.

Once I got to high school, things changed a lot. I was still ‘ugly’ and skinny, flat chested, with short brown hair and thick eyebrows. But I was thrown into a new group of people and for the first time ever, I had a group of friends. I wasn’t in the popular group by a long shot, but I had a group of friends and it felt great. I felt like I belonged.

Then about half way through grade 8, one day, I was ‘out’. I tried to join in with my friends and I was told I was out of the group. Just like that. With no warning. Needless to say I was devastated. I went home that night and cried about it.

Ironically only a few weeks before, one of the main girls in the group had invited me to a youth group event at the local uniting church. Now she was kicking me out of the group. I told mum about it and she told me to tell her that for someone who was meant to be a Christian, she wouldn’t even make a Christian’s bootlace. The next day, I confronted her in anger, and yelled at her, including my mums insult (even though I didn’t really understand what that meant until much later).

When Miss O was born, I worried for her and how she would navigate this world. But as she grew from a baby into a toddler and then into a young girl she was beautiful. Perfect with her fair skin, long golden hair and shiny bright blue eyes. Everything that I wasn’t. And more importantly, she was beautiful inside too.

By the time she had started Prep I had hope that she would be able to glide along and everything would work out ok. But I wasn’t prepared for the bitchiness that she was about to encounter at school.

I was shocked the first time she came home and told me that she was fighting with friends at school. In Prep. Doesn’t this stuff happen when you are much older? Not so! Apparently “I am not your friend! You can’t play with us” is very common!

Over the course of the next couple of years there were a few ups and downs with this problem. By the time she was in grade two she had a couple of lovely close friends. They had the occasional falling out, but it only lasted a day before they were best friends again. I breathed a sigh of relief that everything was going to be ok.

Then we had to move house to the other side of town. Which meant she had to change schools. When she started at the new school she settled in straight away with a friend. Then they had a major fight (the other girl punched her) and after that she began to say that she had no friends. I continually asked her teacher, and she assured me that she was fine socially and she hadn’t noticed any problems. Eventually things seemed to settle down.

The next year the whole class was in turmoil. There were a lot of disruptive children in the class and the teacher became unwell and had to be replaced by a relief teacher (this lasted about 5 months). Finally in the last half of the year they were given a new full time teacher. Miss O then started having problems with one particular girl in her class. I spoke to the teacher about it and she advised me this girl was a problem and they were dealing with it, delicately though because the girl didn’t have a great home life. At the end of the year, we were given a form for request about classes. I requested that Miss O be placed in a different class to this girl and hoped that this year will be better.

Miss O’s 10th birthday was in February (not long after school started) so I thought it would be great to have a party for her to establish friendships with the girls in her class as she did not know most of them. We invited all of the girls in the class (about 10 or 12 or them) as we didn’t want anyone to feel left out. To my absolute relief and happiness (but also my absolute terror) all of the girls wanted to come to the party and one by one almost all of their parents phoned to let me know their child was coming and was excited to be coming.

I took them all to the movies, before catching a maxi taxi and taking them down to the local water play park where we had a sausage sizzle and had the birthday cake.

I have to say this was one of the most stressful days of my life. The weight of being responsible for so many girls was overwhelming. The girls broke off into a few small groups and many of them refused to follow the few simple safety rules that I had laid out. It took all of my energy to not totally lose my shit and yell at them. I would have totally done it too but I didn’t want to embarrass Miss O. I will say that it really opened my eyes about the personalities of some of the girls in her class and I am very glad that Miss O is not easily lead and has chosen to be friends with the more sensitive and sensible girls in the class. Miss O seemed to settle in with her nicer friends.

Last term, Miss O began having various headaches, sore tummies and aches and pains and as a result had many days off school. Sometimes I was not convinced she was really sick and made her go to school anyway. But towards the end of the term I began to suspect that she was suffering from stress and began to let her have the days off if I felt she was genuine in her belief that she was sick. I emailed the teacher to let him know that I thought that Miss O was suffering from stress and asked how she was doing socially but he did not have a chance to get back to me before the end of the term.

On Tuesday and Wednesday we played hookey and went down to my Mum’s place as my nieces and nephew were visiting from Perth for the school holidays and were due to fly back home on thursday.

On Tuesday Miss O confided in her cousin that she is getting bullied by a group of girls and she hates going to school every day. Her cousin asked if she had told me so that I can help. Miss O said that she couldn’t tell me because it will only make it worse. After we went home that night, my niece told mum what Miss O had told her.

Mum told me the next day and it broke my heart.

It broke my heart becuase she is being bullied.

It broke my heart because all of the headaches and aches and pains and sore tummies now made sense.

It broke my heart because she felt like she couldn’t tell me.

She was suffering and she was hiding that suffering from me.

On the way home from Mum’s I told Miss O what I found out and I asked her to tell me about it. I told her that she should never be too scared or worried to tell me anything, that I am here for her, and that we will work something out to fix it so things don’t get worse.

It turns out that a group of three girls in her class (in my mind I call them the 3 little bitches) have been calling her names, “accidentally’ bumping into her, and making her feel worthless and life generally uncomfortable at school. They do it mostly when teachers are not around.

When we got home, I told my hubby and we had another long discussion about it. Miss O really wants to change schools. We said that we would consider it, as a last resort, but wanted to try some other things first. The first step was to be talking with her teacher. I asked would she mind if I went to her teacher and told him what is going on and said that I would make sure that he understood that she was afraid it would make things worse and that I would trust him to deal with it in a way that did not make it worse.

The next morning, we got to school a bit early and had a long chat with Miss O’s teacher. He was very distressed to hear about Miss O’s feelings and what had been happening to her. He was also NOT surprised when he found out who the girls were. Apparently they have been warned about this type of behaviour to other girls last term as well.

He gave Miss O some instructions on what to do if it happened again when there were no teachers about and promised us both that it would be dealt with. One day has now passed since the conversation with her teacher and it is too early to tell, but I am hoping that things will start to settle down for Miss O.

I want her to know how beautiful she is, inside and out.

I will move heaven and earth if I have to.

I want her to feel loved.

I want her to feel confident and secure.

I want her to be happy.

I want her to be free.

Mossman Gorge

Do you have a favourite place?

A place that makes you feel at peace – that makes you feel grateful to be alive?

A few months ago, our family re-discovered Mossman Gorge.  My husband and I both hadn’t been there for over 10 years, so decided to take the niblets there to check it out.

Since then, we haven’t been able to stay away.

The water is FREEZING but leaves you with the most AMAZING relaxed happy feeling. In fact, my husband is convinced that the water at Mossman Gorge has some kind of magical spiritual healing properties because he can go from being Mr Grumpy to to Mr Laid Back Dad as soon as his body is immersed in the water.

Mossman Gorge is a popular tourist destination and can be super busy at times – so we have found arriving in the afternoon about 3 or 4 pm is the best, as most of the tourists buses have been and gone and most of the other people are starting to leave.

We stay until it is starting to get dark and often find ourselves being the only people there – just breathing in the beauty and the peaceful serenity around us.

There is also a 2-3km circuit bushwalk at the gorge that takes you through some beautiful rainforest.  We finally did this bushwalk a few weeks ago and fell even more in love than we were before.

(The artistic nature pics were taken by the amazing Miss O on a dodgy $30 Kodak Easy Share Camera. The rest were taken by me on my iPhone)

Mossman Gorge is now officially our favourite place.

It’s a place that makes us feel so blessed to live in this part of the world.

When I am there, I feel like I am a part of something so much bigger than myself.

It’s a place that I can forget about the crises that plague my everyday life.

It’s a place where I can just be.

Rose Coloured Glasses

On Monday we decided to shrug off the housework, get out of the house and go for a drive. We visited the Mount Hypipamee National park and on the first leg of the journey we had a great time breathing in the beauty of dinner falls.

But the main reason for choosing the Mount Hypipamee National Park was becuase I wanted to take the kids to see the the Mount Hypipamee Crater.

The crater was formed as a result of a volcanic gas explosion and until recently, it was believed that it had an underwater tunnel connecting it to other waterways.

I had visited the crater when I was a kid, so for me the crater was an amazing, mystical place, and I wanted my children to experience that same sense of wonder.

[I even had dreams about the crater when I was a child. The most recurrent one was where Aliens were attacking the earth, and many of us (humans) descended into the crater going under the green sludge (in real life the green is just a layer of duckweed but in my dream it was green sludge) to emerge into a new, safe land, where we formed a resistance. Other times, the crater was just a part of the topographical landscape in dreams – particularly ones about volcanoes and lava, usually trying to escaping from the flowing lava and fireballs.]

So after we explored dinner falls, we climbed the relatively short but steep rainforest track to the Crater.

(So you don’t think I am totally unfit or anything I’ll just leave out the part where I was huffing and puffing by the time I got to the top. Future Post Alert – Did I mention that I am overweight and just recently discovered I have to lose 20 kilos? I have a plan to do something about this, I just have to work out what that plan is.)

Seeing the crater again after all those years was strange. I had seen the crater so many times in my mind’s eye, from the perspective of a young child. Now that I was here again, I had to take off my rose coloured glasses, and see it again for real.

Thank you to the kind lady who offered to take this picture for us. It feels nice to have a family pic.

The crater still was still beautiful. Looking at the sheer rock walls, the rainforest and into the deep abyss (from the safety of the viewing platform) was still a breathtaking experience.

But it wasn’t the way that I remembered it.

It wasn’t exactly the way my mind’s eye had made it out to be.

Of course, the crater has not changed. I have. I am taller. I am older. When I look at things now, I see them from a new perspective.

This got me thinking about the different perspectives we have about things in our past.

Movies that we watched. People that we knew. The things that happened to us.

The movies that were super scary or super awesome when we were kids, are not necessarily that crash hot when we revisit them as adults.

[Take Jaws for example. Worst. Movie. Ever. But back then it was really scary! Another great example of this – Electric Dreams – where the guy’s computer comes to life and tries to ruin his relationship and control his life – I watched that again recently and had a red mark from all of the head slaps I gave myself for putting myself through watching it again.]

The people that we knew back then that were super cool or the meanest horrible bullies are *usually* very different people when we meet them again later in life.

The things that happened to us, the things that we did as kids, both good and bad, are all things that we remember from a child’s perspective.

In a world where each day contained the possibility of a new adventure; when the dark contained monster; when each school day (particularly sitting there in maths) felt like it was never going to end.

Sometimes the way we remember things that happened to us or things that we did as a kid can also be totally different from the people that we experienced them with, depending on our age, our likes and dislikes, and many other factors. For example, the school bully will have a different collection of memories about their school lives than their victims do. Even siblings may remember shared experiences with completely different perspectives, and remember things that happened in a completely different way.

Sometimes its a little bit fun to keep those rose coloured glasses on.

I don’t want forget about how the crater was a magical mystical place for me as a child. I can still choose to remember it the way I did before.

I can choose to remember how good certain songs, cartoons, movies made me feel when I was growing up.

However, sometimes its healthy to let those childhood perspectives go, particularly if they are holding us back. If we experienced traumatic times in our childhood, it can be good to look at these things with adult eyes. Going back to process the things that happened to us with the wisdom and knowledge that comes with age, can help us to gain new perspectives, find new ways to cope and achieve a new level of understanding, so that we can begin to heal and move forward with our lives.

The final lesson that I took from my visit to the crater is about the way I parent my children right now and what they will think about me in 20, 30 or 40 years time.

Its my job to nurture them, guiding them to discover their path in life, hopefully shaping them in to beautiful, caring, loving individuals that go onto to lead fruitful, successful and happy lives.

This means that there will be times that they don’t agree with the decisions that I make for them. From their current childhood perspective, I may be mean, or dumb, or just not understand. It may literally feel like the end of the world if my 10 year old daughter can’t do something that I feel is inappropriate for her age.

I am not a saint and I am certainly not a perfect mum. I know they will frustrate me at times and I will make mistakes plenty of mistakes along the way. I work full time. In the hustle and bustle of life it can easy to be overwhelmed by schedules. I can’t always make it to the school assembly. I can’t always do things that stay at home Mums can do. Sometimes I feel guilty about that.

I can also do my best to listen, to love them, to talk to them about anything and everything, to make them feel important, and take an interest in their interests and in what they are doing, even if I can’t be there. I can do my best to make time to provide them with amazing experiences that they will remember for ever, experiences to let them know how much they are loved. These don’t have to be grand gestures. Sometimes the simplest things are the best.

Hopefully when my children are are older and wiser, looking back at their lives, without their rose coloured glasses, they will know three simple things.

I worked hard to make sure they had everything they need.

I did everything in my power to make them feel safe, protected and loved.

I love them very, very much, even more than life itself.