Thursday, 16 October 2014

It's all in a name...

For some time I've been pondering a name for my cargo-bike. I was thinking it had to be a girl's name as aren't all vehicles named after girls?  Recently, my friend, Mikey, bought his first car and was looking for a name, in the search to procrastinate on my spring cleaning be the helpful friend that I am, I stumbled upon a first name that just fit. (I suggested Heather for Mikey's car in case you were wondering.)

Later that day, another friend, Rochelle, did one of those silly-fun Facebook quizzes "what's your hippie name?".  I loved mine.

Then came my *lightbulb* moment.  That's his name.  Sorted.

So maybe I've over-thunk that, but so be it.  And on that note, I'd officially like to introduce you to...




Clarence Breeze 

Pickle raiding his lunchbox on the way to playcare, while riding in Clarence Breeze.

Have you named your vehicle of preference? 

Cheers, KangaRue :)

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Freaking Out

That's how I'm feeling right now. I've got a major assignment looming, am only current on the current week of my university work (as opposed to ahead so I can actually *do* the assignment), the house is a mess, I need to find a second student placement (and believe me the first one was a struggle to find though it ended up awesome). Oh, and somewhere in there I need to be a mother and have a life.

I had the flu for almost three weeks. Which meant any advances I made, promptly disappeared. And then we had three public holidays in a two week period. Now for most people, this means extra study time... but as a solo parent, not so much.

So I'm feeling a little overwhelmed. I felt my anxiety levels rising quite dramatically this morning. So I've done some mindfulness meditation - I am a little bit in love with Smiling Mind at the moment. I've then cracked on with it, asked my tutor for an extension on the assignment, and I'm using this post to clear my head a bit before hitting the books again.

Do you ever feel like a huge wave is about to come crashing down on you? How do you manage the anxiety it produces?

Cheers, KangaRue :)

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Nailed It

I've been seething since the weekend. A parent of one of Pickle's friends told him "you'll have to stop Mummy painting your nails in a few years". I turned around and politely told this man that Pickle actually asks me to paint his nails and chooses the colour each time.

The "offending" toes - outrageous!
I'm allowing Pickle to express his individuality as he wants. He wants to put the pretty colours on his toes, like Mummy does. Is he likely to want to conform to gender norms down the track? Probably. But it will be his choice, not something I'm going to force on him.

Pickle has a tea set, he has a baby doll he nurtures, along with a myriad of stuffed toys.  Not to mention Lulu and Hermes, who are subjected to his attentions he also adores. He also has a Buzz Lightyear, dinosaurs, light sabers, laser guns and a train set. He plays with the lot, in fact the dinosaurs often have tea parties.

As a society we're (still) figuring out that girls/women are as capable boys/men - if I had a girl, I'd be buying her Goldieblox.  If you don't know what they are, there are some excellent videos on YouTube here and here, and a fantastic TEDtalk.

Can we do the same for our boys/men please? (But in reverse, if that makes any sense?) They can be - and indeed are - loving, caring and nurturing.

Picture from Stonewall UK - a great resource site
And what about Rainbow individuals? As a counsellor, I particularly want to work with children, young people and their families. The risk figures around mental health and suicide sky-rockets for Rainbow youth. By raising Pickle to be accepting of all people, I hope he'll be an influencer in his generation on acceptance of all people.

If I painted that man's toe nails, would it change his sexuality or preferred gender? I promise to get off my soapbox soon, but would really love it if you watched this video that asks the question gay people get asked all the time... and this mind-expanding TEDtalk about transgender youth.

As a girl, I think I had the best of both worlds, I had dolls (and cats) I dressed up, but I also climbed trees, and rode both a bike and a skateboard... I'd like for Pickle to have the same opportunities.

Do your boys paint their toe nails or play with tea sets? Do you allow your girls to build with blocks or train sets? 

Cheers, KangaRue :)

PS. Thanks for allowing me my rant!

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Pickle is Two-Twooot!

I wrote this post about six months ago. Then went looking for the invite photo, as I wanted to show off B2's fab handiwork - he did a great job encapsulating the image I had in my head, and managed to capture my rambling descriptions perfectly. But I couldn't find the image, and thinking it would eventually turn up I waited. And waited some more. And then didn't blog other stuff because I thought this should be posted first. So since Pickle's third birthday is rapidly approaching, and I'm already tossing ideas around about his party, here is the post about his second birthday, sans invite image (sorry B2).


I love birthdays. So when Pickle's birthday is approaching, I can't help but get excited about preparing his celebration.

For his first birthday, he had a Very Hungry Caterpillar theme... Invites, balloons and some of the food was themed. I tossed around loads of ideas for his second birthday, but decided that he would get more out of some of the themes when he was a bit older. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

I normally manage to stretch my own birthday celebrations out over a week. Pickle had a birthday month! With no less than three birthday cakes.

Pickle's 2nd birthday cake (Part 1) for playcare
Because we were going to be in Western Australia with my Outlaws on the actual day, his celebrations at playcare happened before we went. I decided to take the easy route for this one and use a packet. The first dairy-free packet I used was a disaster, so I had to make a second cake, so not the quick and easy option I'd hoped for. Purple icing and the sides covered with a mix of sprinkles rescued it though, and I was reasonably happy with the end result.

Nanna's marshmallow covered birthday cake
Off we went to the Outlaws. My MoL made a delicious orange cake - her normal recipe, substituted with Pickle'a dairy-free spread... But it was a little warm when she tried to ice it, and the icing ended up in a puddle. She did an awesome restoration with marshmallows - Pickle's treat of choice. I love this photo of him blowing out the candles.

We returned to Hervey Bay for his official celebrations. There are some great playgrounds here, one of Pickle's favourites being the train park (that's what the locals call it, it's official name is the Ernie Organ park). So with a fantastic location, a train theme seemed obvious. I found some Thomas the Tank engine loot bags, so it was just the invitation and cake that really needed theming.

I knew what I wanted as his invite in my head, but my computer capabilities limit me somewhat. BigTed's son B2 came to the rescue. Not only is he one of Pickle's favourite people, but he is a whizz technically and talented creatively, and he managed to translate my wobbly ideas onto paper with a great result.

I decided to bake the cake from scratch after my last "shortcut". My darling friend Chaz, is a chef, and had pointed me to a recipe for a dairy-free (vegan) chocolate cake for Pickle's birthday. It was a huge hit that time, and I surprised people by telling them it contained avocado. I kid you not. There is no dairy, but a gorgeous creaminess. I used neon colours in the dairy-free "butter" icing and decorated the cake with various Pickle-friendly lollies. Pickle was thrilled it was a yellow toot-toot (his favourite colour).

Pickle's train cake - not sure I'll be able to top this!
Even BigTed's big boys got into the action
We had a lovely day, we played pass-the-parcel, the kids played with his new toys, and the train playground *eventually* got a look-in. It was an absolutely brilliant day.

The final celebration came right on the end of the month. Our cats, Lulu and Hermes finally arrived from London.
We missed you!
After a couple of false starts, nine months had passed since we last saw them. Pickle was excited - he even had a sign to hold up at the airport! They've settled in really nicely and Pickle is learning to be quiet and gentle with them. Hermes was always his best friend, and he puts up with a lot of hugs and enthusiastic squealing.

Not sure I'll be able to top this next year! Shall I start thinking of themes now? (Ideas welcome).

Cheers, KangaRue :)

Thursday, 24 October 2013

I'm a cyclist. And a mother.

I've just got back from the Hervey Bay police station, after having a very near miss with another car this morning. There have been a number of incidences since I started cycling in Hervey Bay (after years of cycling on the much narrower, more congested and busier London roads). While the other incidences have been due to the lack of care and ignorance of the drivers, this one was reckless and possibly even malicious. Worse yet, I had 2-year old Pickle on the cargo-bike with me.

I follow the road rules. Unfortunately it appears that many local drivers aren't aware that cyclists are legitimate road users. That we are allowed to take the centre of the lane on a multi-lane road*. I had been keeping to the left even on multi-lane roads, but found the ridiculously close passing put me in more danger than if I kept to the middle of my lane, though I now receive aggressive horn blasts and abuse hurtled at me through open car windows.

Don't get me wrong, the majority of drivers are friendly, safe and welcoming. In fact, on the way home a car slowed down and waved encouragement - this was not the first time. In addition to favourable goodwill from drivers, I've also had enthusiasm from motor-bike riders and pedestrians; young, old and middle aged people.

So why, when it takes an entire 15-minutes to drive from one end of Hervey Bay to another, do some drivers have such an aggressive sense of entitlement on the road?

The Amy Gillett Foundation has a vision to eliminate bicycle related fatalities and is spreading the word about 'a metre matters'. There is currently an e-petition that will be put in front of the Queensland Legislative Assembly in four days time, advocating for a minimum safe passing distance - I would love it if (as a Queensland resident or citizen) you would please sign it. Aussies can also easily write to their MPs (templates and contact details).

Others have written more eloquently about a cyclist always coming off worse
in a collision with a motor vehicle - there's not only the unprotected impact, but the risk of being thrown into - under - the path of another car. Though I can't seem to find any links to the articles at the moment, unfortunately. (See update below).

I'm a single mother, caring for a two year old. Part of simplifying my life, not least reducing the exorbitant
costs of car ownership (purchase price, tax, insurance, petrol, maintenance etc) has been to go car-free. I'm also physically and mentally healthier, am introducing Pickle to a healthier way of life in an era of increasing obesity, and just generally enjoying our day-to-day life more fully.

How do we get a message out to drivers that cyclists are not only legitimate road users, but (in my case) also someone's mother, daughter, sister, friend???

Cheers, KangaRue :)

* this is not meant as legal advice; road rules can differ from state to state within Australia.

UPDATE: An incredibly well put article: In the US and the Netherlands, two children on bikes are struck by cars—and the responses couldn’t be more different.