The Reason Why

I went up to Darwin last weekend to help celebrate my brother Tom’s 50th birthday. He’s a modest man but has a history of some fairly outrageous and/or hilarious outings. Some of those had to be trotted out as part of the formalities of the evening, just to remind him of that wild young soul who resides deep inside that middle aged, respectable, family focussed, coffee connoisseur.

This is the boy who was Tommy, with Ringo our dog.

Cute little blondie in his homemade shorts

He was taught everything he knows by our sister Lizzie who is only 13 months older than him. Seriously…once she started at school, she sat him down every afternoon and taught him everything she’d learnt that day. But he quickly became a long, lanky streak and Liz would never have the same control over him that she did in that first year of school.

Tom is strong!

Tom was always good at maths and eventually studied economics. Before that though Tom took to the road on his motorbike and rode from Tasmania (down near Antarctica) to Darwin. At one point when I was fanging around the countryside Tom and I decided to ride from Brisbane to Sydney, where I was living.

Tom’s bike (if I remember correctly) was something like a Kawasaki 750. We’d decided, in a moment of brilliance, to leave Brisbane about 7pm and ride through the night for the 10 hours or so it took to get to Sydney. Not one of our better decisions. We shared the riding, but the bike was really too heavy for me. Never the less, off we went into the dark of night. We did OK until sometime after Tamworth when I was riding and Tom on the back kept falling asleep. I remember the helmet he wore banging into my back as he’d drift off. I’d do my best to wake him up by elbowing him violently. Eventually in the light of early dawn we swapped again and took off with Tom riding. Only a little way down the road we blew a tyre. This is not too much fun on a bike and we were lucky in so many ways to survive that moment. I then had to hitch a ride with the tyre into the nearest town, wait for the mechanics to open, get it fixed and hitch back out – extending the trip by another few hours.  We made it by the skin of our teeth. So, so tired.

I took this photo a couple of years later when I and my fellow band mates stayed with Tom in his share house in Brisbane in 1985.

The Uni years, Brisbane

Tom has three kids and a step-son with his partner Lorna. They’ve been together for 22 years now. They are quite social, but don’t throw too many parties these days. This was one for the books. A milestone birthday with people coming in from all over the country to celebrate it with him and his family.

Party preparations were exhausting but ultimately worth it. A sit down dinner for 30 under the swinging lights and the stars in a bushy suburban back yard. Great food, including some pretty amazing cakes. Lots of stories and reminiscences, laughter and fun. One of the best moments was when Tom, in his speech told us how happy he was with his wife & life.

Here’s a couple of my favourite photos of the night.

the cocktail menu

 

Some of Tom’s family

the old and the young(ish)

 

pouring myself a glass of wine

 

party decorations – Tom’s shirt collection

Unaccustomed as I am…

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Snapshots of my Week

I’m back. I was so happy that I made it to the end of the blogathon. The following week I went through major withdrawals then I felt a bit depressed and had no energy for anything. I’ve just come through a hellish long weekend where L’s behaviours seemed to soar into the stratosphere and now, finally…I have rallied.

So here’s a snap shot of some of the things that have been going on in my world while I was away.

Baby J

I had to run from one room to another to intercept an interaction between my 10 month old boy J and my 5 yo L. I went running down the hallway to find the baby crawling towards me crying. In each hand he was clutching a $50 note. He had been rifling through my wallet (not somewhere you would normally find 2 fifties, but it was a long weekend and I had a babysitter coming!).

J is getting more and more adventurous and as a result is having a few interesting interactions with the other boys. This kid is built like a steam roller! He is already heavier than N (who is 2) and it won’t be long before he starts paying L back for all the pushes away he gets.

Meanwhile – he’s climbing and showing no fear whatsoever. I turn my back and he’s….

Mr N

There was nothing I could do to prepare him for what he was about to experience. All I could do was make sure he’d had a good sleep, something to eat and drink. I left the other two with the babysitter and we headed off on the bus to our performing arts centre.

There were a LOT of very excited kids there. There was an impressive sized area cordoned off exclusively for pram parking. There were mums and dads shelling out the big bucks at the merch stand. We made out way in and found our seats. After a bit of waiting the music got louder and before we could say ‘hot potato’ The Wiggles were right there in front of us. N was suitably impressed. He enjoyed himself, he clapped, he danced, he pointed his fingers and did the twist and couldn’t believe his eyes as the zealous guys in skivvys made their way into the audience and walked right past us!

It was exhausting to say the least and not just for me. Little N slept very well that night and dreamt of Captain Feathersword and his friendly pirate crew.

The Big Red Car – yay!!!

Wiggles sing Twinke Twinkle Little Star

My Big Boy L

I love him to bits but seriously, he took me to the edge last weekend. He’s escalating in all his obsessive behaviours – opening a shutting doors a million times a day, turning the kettle on whenever possible, playing with the stove, with all the hot water taps and of course the ribbon. He’s climbing the walls, literally. He was in his bedroom for about 2 minutes and when I went to check he was standing on a high cupboard about to take a swinging jump to hang onto the ceiling fan. He was stripping off all clothes countless times a day. He ignored every request, laughing as he ran in the opposite direction at every opportunity. And the screaming, oh please make me temporarily deaf so I don’t have to hear any more screaming.

I did everything I could to exhaust him and get him to a place where he could just relax and have some fun. We went to the park, we went to an indoor play centre so he could do lots of climbing, we went on a little bush walk and went to a wildlife park, we played, we mowed the grass (which he loves), we ran and jumped on the trampoline. I was worn out, but he could have gone another 20 rounds.

We’re off to the doctor to get some advice on the best way forward.

Where is he?

The invisible kid

Me

Next week I’m heading off for four days of child free fun. One of my younger brothers is turning 50, so it’s the gathering of the clan for a shindig in Darwin. I intend to sleep for as many hours as possible, to have a few drinks and see if I can shuffle out of this mood I’m in. Meanwhile, here’s a couple of photos from the early years and one of the super moon over my hometown. May it bring me super powers.

Family & Friends, Townsville 1963

trashing Dad’s work car

Brisbane Super Moon 2012
image credit: themarysue.com

2 years

A letter for your 2nd birthday

Dear N,

It was your birthday on the weekend. Another big milestone for you little man. You have been living with me for 18 months now – how lucky am I? At 2 you are a real little character: totally loveable, incredibly good looking, extremely intelligent, super musical and with a sweet and charming personality. What an amazing boy you are!!

You’ve had a very busy weekend. You had a sleep over with your cousins and a lovely birthday cake with them on Saturday (your actual birthday). After that you came back home and then on Sunday afternoon we had a birthday party here with your friends.

You had such a lot of fun even though it was a rainy day. There were 10 kids here all together and you made the most enormous mess. You drank lemonade and ate little sausages with sauce (your favourite!) and then we had the birthday cake. It was a chocolate monkey cake with chocolate doughnut ears and mint pattie eyes. Everyone stood around and sang ‘happy birthday to you’ while you ate the brown m&m nostrils and then they helped you to blow out the two candles.

It was so funny cutting the cake, some kids were saying ‘I want some eye’ or can I have some ear?’ and pretty soon there was just a few crumbs left on the plate.

We gave you a red ukelele for your birthday. You call it your ‘tah’, like guitar only easier to say. You were so happy to get it you sat down and played it for about 20 minutes non-stop – not bad for a 2yo boy! I sent a photo of you playing it to your mum and it made her so happy. You really love music and you are getting more and more interested in singing songs, dancing and playing any instrument you can get your hands on.

You have a few favourite shows. You love the Wiggles and anything they do will keep you entertained. You are just starting to join in and sing some of the songs and do the actions. You also love Fireman Sam. You often come up to me during the day to say ‘Wiggles’ or ‘Sam’ or ‘teeeveeeeee, teeeveeeeeee’ and hand me the remote control. I try to limit how much tv you watch, so we do lots of play downstairs in the garden. You love the sandpit, where there are lots of trucks and things to dig with.

You really love everything to do with cars and transport. Each morning as we wait for L’s school bus to come and pick him up, we all sit on the front step to watch the cars, trucks, bikes and people. Although our street isn’t too busy, we get enough traffic to keep it interesting. You name each vehicle as it goes by.

But your favourite day is rubbish day. When you hear the truck coming we must STOP EVERYTHING and run to the front door to watch the rubbish truck come to empty our bins. We wave at the driver and he waves back at you. We say ‘bye bye rubbish, don’t come back!’

What a wonderful little brother to L and big brother to J you are. They both love you so much. Sometimes L is hard to play with, but you don’t care and you just get in there and make him play with you as much as possible. Even though he often pushes you away, you love to give him a big cuddle and because you are a very clever little guy, you have worked out that if you cuddle him from behind, then he can’t push you away. So smart! You have a fun running game that you play together that involves running, screaming and giggling your heads off from one end of the house to the other. You also love to get in and have a good rough & tumble wrestle. Every, single time – you come out on the losing end. But that doesn’t stop you – oh no!

With little J you are very sweet and gentle. You stop to give him a kiss or to pat him on the head. You also enjoy sitting on him, which J doesn’t like at all, so it’s lucky you don’t do that too often. At the moment you are both enjoying playing in the ball pit. It’s a blow up contraption that holds a whole pile of balls. You guys have so much fun in there chuckling and rolling around, sticking your hand through the holes in the wall.

fun in the ball pit

Well beautiful, happy second birthday. Love you

Brother!

I felt the need to post today because, being February 29, I won’t have the chance to do this for another four years. So here we go.

Today, as I went to pick up baby J from his cot after his afternoon nap, N followed me into the bedroom. When J looked up and saw his (foster) brother through the bars of his cot, he was so thrilled, his smile just burst out of him. They reached out towards each other and touched hands. I smiled and thought, ‘brothers!’

They are not related. They share no genetic code. They are from two very different cultures on opposite sides of the world. But here in my home, they are brothers. In the truest sense of the word. Bound by love.

It’s relatively early days for these two with J only 8 months old and N about to turn 2 (on Saturday). There’s a lot of wrestling and rough and tumble that goes with being brothers. Somehow through all that body contact, that pushing and testing their limits a bond is formed and it is formative.

Together with L, they make up my crew. My noises with dirt on them.

Then I read this beautiful, heartwarming and hopeful post from Try Defying Gravity

I hope you do too.

Here’s to brothers…happy leap year!

three brothers!