Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day – the universal day of love.
Truth be told I’m not a huge fan of these commercialised ‘days’ … Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, V Day.
That said I won’t turn down a lovely bunch of flowers or these gorgeous earrings from my favourite jeweller (Note to husband, this is directed at you).
One man who is heavily invested in Valentine’s Day is Kooralbyn rose farmer Peter McKenna.
He produces red roses hydroponically. It’s his ‘retirement’ project.
Each year he turns out about 130,000 roses. You can order them online.
Peter recently told me the story of how he went from electrical engineering to retirement to roses.
Read his story by clicking the link below.
The Sunday Mail (Queensland)
Feb 9 2014
I’m not one of those mums who loves painting and play dough with her children. Nor am I one who savours those looooonnngg hours sitting at the park watching them play.
Sorry, I know it’s not very PC of me to admit this but admit it I will. Tell me I’m not alone in this.
There’s heaps of bits of parenting that I adore. Lots of it makes me laugh, but there’s parts of parenting that are a real bore.
What they don’t tell you in the baby manual is that it is exhausting, stressful and sometimes the rewards are not easy to see.
I wrote about this today for the Gold Coast Bulletin, inspired by new research that reveals childless couples are more happily married than those with kids.
Turns out they actually take the time to TALK (please explain?) and work on keeping the spark alive.
It’s true. Click on the story below to find out more.
The Gold Coast Bulletin
Feb 5 2014
When you’re a mum the worries never stop.
One my biggest concerns is ensuring my sons retain their innocence for as long as possible.
In our super-connected world it’s a tough ask, particularly when one wrong click on the computer can lead my digital natives to a world of porn, violence and other creepy stuff.
The eldest is hassling me for a new computer game – Grand Theft Auto 5. Apparently some of his mates have it. It’s rated R18+ but he tells me ‘Don’t worry mum, it will be okay, I’m cool with it.’
Well sorry buddy I’m not ‘cool with it.’
Happy to buy you Reading Eggs and Super Mario but be prepared for disappointment because your mum isn’t ever going to buy you a game featuring strippers, shooting, violence, drug use and swearing. The last thing I want is for you to see this stuff and think it’s normal and acceptable.
If I had my way the boys wouldn’t play computer games at all but life is all about compromise isn’t it?
For years my professional life has been about the news but when it comes to my sons I try to filter the news they hear. I hover my finger over the mute button, ready to pounce. Rape, child pornography, incest, abuse are my trigger words.
Sadly they’re a reality of our world but I believe my kids should be allowed to spend their early years blissfully ignorant of the awful people who walk along side us. Over protective much mummy?
These holidays our eight-year-old spent two weeks at a holiday camp with about 30 other children his age and older.
I was incredibly nervous sending him away.
He returned home exhausted but happy and immediately asked to go to another camp. Which he did. It was another five days of adventure and fun. Bushwalks, abseiling, high ropes courses, bunk rooms, rafting and camping out. He even survived gadget and TV free for a whole FIVE days!
I asked whether he’d missed his family and he replied, honest as his mother, ‘Not really.’ Then he saw the look on my face and added, ‘Well a little bit, but mum I was having such a great time.’
As is the way with boys (and men generally) it took some days to prise out of him what he’d seen and done and who he’d met.
Days later, as we were working together in the kitchen, he said, ‘Mum do you know a lot of the kids at camp don’t live with their parents?’
Who do they live with darling?
“With foster parents.”
He went on to tell me about a boy, just two years older than him, who can’t live with his dad because he’s been to jail and has done bad things, nor with his mum who is still in jail and will be there for life because of drugs.
According to my son this young boy doesn’t really like living with foster parents but he has no choice.
My initial reaction was one of horror. This is just the type of sad reality I had tried to shield him from.
Then I thought about it. Maybe the time has come for my children to realise that not everyone their age has life so easy. That the happy, secure family life they take for granted is not always the norm.
That a life where your biggest issue is that mum won’t buy you GTA5 is not a bad life to have.
So despite my initial shock I stopped what I was doing and talked to my boy about why so many children can’t live with their own parents.
This column first appeared in the Gold Coast Bulletin. Read my column, Family Matters, in the paper each Wednesday.
So you think you’re busy? Wait until you read the story of Mike and Margot Black. They give new meaning to the word.
This family grows seedless watermelons in two states on farms 3300km apart.
But that’s to challenge enough for Mike and Margot … they take their four children, three dogs and two cats along for the ride, splitting their year between their farm, Ruby Downs at Oakey in QLD and their farm Early Storms in the Northern Territory.
I enjoyed speaking to Margot who is full of enthusiasm, energy and has an incredibly positive outlook on life.
So often farmers are tagged as being ‘whingers’ but no one could throw such an accusation at Margot. She and husband Mike are in there having a go and making the most of whatever situations confront them.
“We choose what we do,” Margot told me.
“We don’t have to do these crazy hours or live this crazy life but we only live once and we want to make the most of it.”
The Sunday Mail (Queensland)
Nov 10 2013
It’s meltdown central here – both the boys and me. Tiredness is to blame. As is sugar (not to parents: NO MORE CANDY CANES). And scheduling.
I am turning into a scheduling ninja as I try to co-ordinate pesky old work with providing a fulfilling and interesting holiday program for my boys.
Movies, christmas craft workshops, theatre outings, holiday care and pool days are being fitted in around my interviews, writing days and the chores from my ‘other’ job as housekeeper extraordinaire.
My head feels like it could explode but I just keep thinking, ‘three weeks until holidays, three weeks until holidays.’
I know I’m not alone. Working parents everywhere are wondering how they will co-ordinate holidaying children and work.
It’s not until you have children that you realise how hopeless four weeks annual leave is.
It’s tempting not to work but then I wouldn’t be able to afford the extensive list of toys my sons declare they NEED. Definition of need: a requirement, obligation; lack of something wanted or deemed necessary; urgent want, as of something requisite.
I’m waging an internal battle with myself as I contemplate adding more ‘stuff’ to a house already brimming with ‘stuff’. It feels criminal to buy the boys more toys when they already have so many. If we add any more LEGO to our collection the good people at the Danish plastic company are going to offer us shares.
Nerf Guns, Mobilo, Hot Wheels … we have it all.
Alex will be in heaven if he can add to his Pokemon collection. The boys is obsessed by the colourful swap cards. Will not shut up about them. It’s a bit like his father and carrots.
My new year’s resolution will be to ban the P and the C words from our home. Wish me luck.
I wrote about my sons’ Christmas wish list in this week’s Gold Coast Bulletin. Link is below.
The Gold Coast Bulletin
Nov 27 2013