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Karli’s birthday & appeal

October 18, 2010 Leave a comment

Brisbane turned on a beautiful day for Karli Dyke’s 9th birthday and appeal day at the Jube on Sunday. There was a great turn out and show of support for the family. The bands were awesome, although (perhaps, unsurprisingly) they couldn’t play any Miley Cyrus. (I did ask.)

A number of readers have asked me to report on the day and to provide details for the fundraising effort, so see below … I hope to get my hands on a book of tickets for the signed & framed Michael Clarke bat – message me please if you’re interested. If you’d like to make a direct cash donation:
Keith Foss & Pauline Campbell
Karli Dyke Appeal
Suncorp Bank
BSB: 484-799
A/C : 20-177148-5

The new-look Jubilee Hotel is a neat place for a $2 Sunday steak and $4 Corona, with no trace of its jelly-wrestling and topless girl past. It was a very nice way to spend an afternoon with friends.

Hip-hip HURRAY for Karli. May this year be a really good one!

Categories: Australia, Health, Life, Parenthood

Get your blues on this weekend

October 13, 2010 Leave a comment

If you’re in Brisbane this Sunday, October 17th, 2010, drop into the Jubilee Hotel anywhere from NOON (correction, not 1:30pm) onwards and support precious Karli by listening to some great bands! These awesome folks are donating their appearance fee. All we have to do is come cheer them on. Entry is free and kids are invited.

If you can’t get down there, but would like to buy raffle tickets or make a donation to the Karli Dyke Foundation, message Yours Truly and I’ll find out more details.

About a year ago, Karli was diagnosed with a form of leukemia. She’s the bravest little critter I know. This Sunday, she turns 9 and she’ll be celebrating in style. (Blues bands playing for your 9th party, how cool is that! I can feel a “Blues Brothers” quote coming on …)

Watch this space, as Karli and her super-mum Suzie might drop by and do a guest appearance on the blog.

The bands:
Transvaal Diamond Syndicate
Morningside Fats
Jimi Beavis
Andrew Baxter
Doug Ford

The venue:
Jubilee Hotel

I hope to see you there!

UPDATE: Big shout out to Spencer Howson on 612 ABC Breakfast for announcing Karli’s gig! [Friday 15 October 2010].

Craft: DIY hairclip hanger

October 11, 2010 Leave a comment

I spotted this beautiful hair clip organiser at the impeccably styled home of the Aunt-Who-Thinks-Of-Everything. It looks like something one could make …

And, that would be my 2,000 words on craft for the week. Enjoy!

UPDATE: Reader Anita has kindly sent in a picture of another:-

Categories: Art, Australia, Craft, Parenthood

Clare’s Memory Book: last call for stories & craft-lovers

October 8, 2010 4 comments

Today, Greg put up a message on the We Are Praying for Clare Mennis Facebook site, calling for Clare stories. His message is copied below. Admin will also be incorporating comments from my site. Shortly, a few of us will be putting together a memory book, for Clare’s boys – which will be bound – hence, this **final call** for comments / stories / reflections / condolences / prayers / well wishes for the family. Maybe you have some photos or other pictures or drawings for the family. It’s special for them to see their beloved Clare through the eyes of others.

Greg Mennis:- I would love to hear all the stories. This one was great “The children from a class in year one each brought a flower from home
and put together this arrangement, along with shells and blue pebbles,
to represent one of Clare’s favourite places: Sandgate” Greg
4 hours ago · Comment · LikeUnlike · Flag

Greg Mennis:- Thank you everyone for all the help, support and especially prayers during Clare’s illness and since her passing. Please share your memories of Clare and what she meant to you. I would like them all collected and bound so that when the boys want to they have something to remember their mother with. This means so much to me and the boys. Thank you, Greg
6 hours ago

As you can see from the photo below, this is what passes for craft at my house. I can make Christmas trees look like cheerful Daleks (the mean robots on Dr Who). So, in all, I might not be the best person to bring onto a craft endeavour. Knowing my limitations, I’m extending an invitation to anyone who is craft-oriented, to offer their services in the making of this special book for the boys. If you have bits ‘n bobs that might lend themselves to a memory book, or have a little time or talent for such a project, I’d invite you to contact Sarah or Genevieve on the We Are Praying site, or send me your contact details through the Message box and I’ll put you in touch.

By way of update (and so we don’t have duplication of effort), Cathy Dunbar’s Tupperware party last Saturday has scored the family some nice gifts, including:

a picnic set, a water cooler & tumblers, a serving dish, & additional tumblers. On top of that, Carmen Rooke (our Tupperware demonstrator and also a Mum at St D’s) put a call out to all the other Reps in her team requesting donations – & she’s had a great response….

The spirit of Mary MacKillop, who is canonised this month, is alive and well: let’s not see a need and do nothing about it.

Have a safe weekend, and please, send in your reflections.

UPDATE: Some very touching comments have come through – thank you. Others feel understandably daunted by the task, so I wonder whether they could perhaps help us with little details, like:
What was Clare’s favourite (and why, if you know):
prayer
children’s book
Christmas carol
movie
place in summer
activity in winter
holiday
winter dish
cake recipe (include it!)
colour
saying
perfume
piece of parenting advice
flower or plant in the garden
craft activity
outfit …
You get the idea. It’s the details that will make the boys’ memory of their mother vivid. Maybe the next playgroup meeting could pass around a piece of parchment and pens, to record these little things that made Clare the person she was. Think back to your own childhood and what you remember of your mother – her slippers and apron, her cooking, the things she said when you were naughty or nice, the sounds and smells of the family home ….

I’ve also had volunteers come forward to help out with making the memory book (thanks, Cathy, Anita & Rosanna) and photos (thanks, Sam). Thank you also to the readers, (many never having met Clare) who continue to offer their Prayers.

Categories: Life, Love, Parenthood, Religion

A note about Clare

October 4, 2010 9 comments

By now, children across Queensland have been safely reinstalled at school for the last term of the year and parents have uttered something that loosely resembles a prayer of thanks.

But at one school on Brisbane’s northside, the dynamic this morning was different. Parents found out that one of their number had passed away on Friday morning, leaving behind a husband of fifteen years (and one week) and four young sons: the eldest being in year 4, and the youngest around 2 years old. Clare died at 1 a.m. on Friday from complications following a bone marrow transplant for leukemia. She was diagnosed last year and had been in and out of hospital since, but everyone had always expected that she’d be home again soon.

Today, people were too shocked to say much of anything. (I’ve had since Friday to ‘process’ the news). But what I do hope is that when people find their words, that they share them with the family. No-one really knows the right thing to say, or when, or how to say it; but I suspect that the greater tragedy would be to say nothing at all.

Clare was in the year above me, both at primary school and high school. Even though we didn’t know each other during those years as such, we met again when our children started at the very same primary school together. All the way through school, Clare had a quick and generous smile for everyone and it was that same smile (and irresistible, throaty laugh) that greeted me almost two decades later. I suspect that Clare touched a lot of people without knowing, without even trying.

It’s not unexpected that people will say nice things about the recently departed, however, even if you tried, you couldn’t find a single negative thing to say about Clare. She really was that good. When she was in a conversation with you, she was totally in that moment with you. She gave herself over to her family, entirely. She gave herself over to her faith. And she never complained about anything, or anybody.

While she was in hospital, she didn’t let on how much pain she was in; nor how it felt when her own baby had trouble recognising her with tubes and without hair. No. Clare, in her usual cheerful manner, would send me a message asking how my new chickens were going. Clare was never dying: she was living every moment.

Clare was a truly magnificent person. I hope people find as many ways as they can to tell Greg and the boys that.

R.I.P. Clare.

P.S. If people would like to share their Clare stories or offer words of support – feel free to click on the comments box and I’ll ensure the messages get across when the family’s ready to receive them (or do it on Clare’s FB page if it’s ok with Admin). Sometimes, it’s easier to write it than to say it. And sometimes, it’s easier to read it, than hear it.

Categories: Life, Love, Parenthood, Religion

Thought of the day …

September 23, 2010 Leave a comment

I love the Italian proverb on these gorgeous little ice cream cups: After the game, the king and pawn go into the same box. Says a lot.

What I loved even more was the ice cream itself. Miss Six had American Chocolate – which we all enjoyed. I had Pistachio – which we all enjoyed. Miss Nine finished her Carmel & Hazelnut Gelato before I could introduce her to the joys of taxation (‘Mama Tax’).

Have a great Friday! If it’s not so great, ice cream helps….

Craft: fabric colouring set & recycled paper notebook

September 22, 2010 Leave a comment

Craft is something that other people do better than me.

I’m mostly appreciative of other people’s efforts (although please don’t send me any toilet roll dollies) and I know a winner when I see it.

It being spring carnival / school fete season, I thought I’d share two little projects which you might find inspiring. Since a hot glue gun is a weapon in my hands, I won’t pretend to know how to make these items, but will depend upon the picture-being-worth-a-thousand-words saying. So, my four thousand words on craft this week are as follows:

With thanks to readers Lee (for the colouring kit) & Joanna (for the purse-sized notebook).

Curly Question: Explain this to a nine year old girl

September 10, 2010 2 comments

Here’s a curly question for your Friday cup of coffee…. How do you explain this advertisement to nine and six year old girls, who happen to pick it up in the mailbox? It was the back cover of a new free mag distributed around Brisbane last week, called Brisbane’s River Wrap Magazine.

Arty, but too much?

The female actor has purple bruises on her face and upper body, suggesting strangulation… The man looks like he forgot to attend a few rehab appointments and didn’t make the cut for MasterChef – or is he advertising kitchen knives? (“Look Mummy, he has the same knife as you…” Hmmm). Or, could this be the cover of the new Spring-Summer catalogue for Relationships Australia?

Sex with knives doesn’t belong on the back cover of a free family magazine. We didn’t ask for it to be in our letterbox.

Thank you so much, Brisbane City Council and the Queensland Government for putting funding towards this – maybe you could have some guidelines on how grants-funded projects use the money in appropriate promotions? Just sayin’.

Review: Scrambled Egg

September 6, 2010 Leave a comment

Rarely does one use the word “delightful” these days without sounding twee, however, this book is delightful – and that’s a good thing. Children deserve stories that are uplifting. We’re getting a bit bored with eco-anxiety and parents-are-envirovandals type stories. Story-telling should be about story-telling; heavy moralising belongs elsewhere. Why depress kids? We should be inspiring love and awe and letting kids be kids.

Scrambled Egg is a beautiful Australian book. It’s simply gorgeous to look at and a good read. It’s about stepping up to a challenge (finding the mother of the lost egg) and problem-solving with the help of good friends. As a bonus, children learn about Australian native animals and the amazing outback.

Thumbs up. (Recommended for ages 2-10).

PS. Check out Wendy’s artwork – her emus and camels will make you smile!

Why Kids Need Ballroom Dancing

August 29, 2010 4 comments

ADS Winter Festival 2010. Image courtesy of reader Liz.

I’m a recent convert to the world of ballroom. I’ll admit to having been wary of it, thinking it was Prissy With Sequins and only for people who conform–not only with strict rules of dance, but also with standardised notions of what looks beautiful in a ballgown or suit. However, I cannot underscore enough, how surprised and delighted I have been with the reality of ballroom dancing for my child, as opposed to the stereotype I’d expected.

For years, I was Jazz & Tap mum, until recently, when the work far outweighed the returns – Miss 9 fell out of love with it all. It had become about raising the status of the dance school and a lot less about the individual children and the joy of dance. Besides, no matter how hard all the children might try, there was always a back row, and every performance was a group act with one or two favourites. Add to that, the fact that the performances could be complete disasters if choreographed inappropriately (as was the case at one local eisteddfod recently, where a dance teacher thought it okay for 7 and 8 year olds to faithfully replicate one of Beyonce’s sexy music videos.)

This is not to say that other forms of dance are no good or inferior to ballroom. Professional dancers need to be across styles. Some dance schools are better than others. All styles have their place, and time-poor and cash-strapped parents have to make difficult choices. That being said, society really needs to take another look at ballroom. It’s all about socialisation (or socialization, if you’re American).

If I had my way, it’d be made compulsory in Sports & Personal Education at least in primary school (acknowledging that it might be difficult to get some high school students to do anything, let alone dance. I have sympathy for teachers.) Not everyone can give their kids private classes, so instead of more tunnel-ball and t-ball, why not a term of partnered dancing?

It’s a tragedy that whole generations of children are growing up into people who don’t know how to dance with other people, but rather, copying aggressive music videos, dance against others. Life is a fight, seems to be the message. Dance which draws inspiration from gang wars, sweaty poles and domestic violence has its own place as a form of artistic expression, but it’s concerning that it’s taking over as the only form of dance expression that many people understand. Agro is the new cool.

Ballroom has the following benefits (especially for kids):
* increased confidence, not only within themselves, but also with interacting with the opposite sex in appropriate and respectful ways;
* co-ordination (dancing opposite someone is quite complex and more difficult than dancing in formation or alone);
* opportunity to build meaningful rapport with dance partners and others in the class, because it is face to face;
* develops an appreciation for collaborative and complementary effort;
* fun (we’ve found it a lot less pressure than our last big dance school, even with exams and comps);
* having a skill for life that comes in handy for social occasions which require something other than crumping, pirouettes or jazz hands;
* can start at any age (dependent upon individual circumstances); and
* there is no back row – everyone is front and centre when performing.

Ballroom students don’t do concerts–they do medals (tests) periodically and competitions (if and when they’re ready). The great thing about the tests and comps is that parents and guests are watching them–the kids are not taken away to a locked room down a corridor to face an examiner or panel of examiners, alone. Through and through, ballroom is a collaborative effort and is inclusive rather than exclusive. After the medal tests, there’s supper and everyone gets up to dance (if they want to).

There are children (and adults) of all shapes and sizes, from all walks of life. People don’t typically come with partners, in fact, most don’t. Partners are arranged for medals and comps as required, if there’s no permanent partner.

In terms of curriculum, I’d highly recommend that schools consider implementing some form of ballroom dance for the sake of the children and the society which they will grow up to lead. For parents who want to try something good for their kids – I say “give it a go.” For those on school committees – bring it up at the next meeting.

P.S. Thanks to Blair Pettard and Natalie Perry – both awesome teachers at Perry’s Superior Ballroom. Perry’s is available for in-school lessons.
[UPDATE: image removed for copyright/privacy reasons]

Please feel free to add your own comments or experiences and let us know if there’s a great ballroom dance school in your area.

[UPDATE: post edited for length & clarity. Comments regarding bullying deleted in acknowledgment of reader LD’s point that it can happen anywhere and is subjective. Furthermore, I can appreciate that with so few males dancing, finding a permanent partner for comps and being asked (or not) to tryouts is another whole world of pain.]

Check out some gorgeous pics by Brock McFadzean.