Stormy clouds – week 65

Stormy clouds hung over Tween Two.

In full force he fought the demons that make him crack.break.fall apart.

It was the last week of term. The school production was in full swing with Tween Two taking on a  front and centre role.

He learnt the lines, he sang the songs; solos were practiced and practiced. He examined the life of his character.

The opening night was beyond spectacular. The crowds cheered at the incredible display of 70 children having the time of their lives; the stunning singing, the acting, the words.

The second night arrives; a few mistakes, a missed line, a yawn. Tween Two was primed and ready to deliver his piece. He missed a beat, memory went blank – eyes widened. The cast nudged in, a heart beat, just a fumbled word, phew… the scene moves on and words are remembered.

Sitting in the second row I noticed a physical change. A squaring of shoulders, a face turned to thunder. The tears begin to fall.

My stomach lurched, the play continued.

Its the solo act, the singing of a narrative song. Tween Two steps to the front of the stage, thick with glistening shine, chin out and sings.

The voice is clear, striking, moving. The crowd holds its breath, the tears continue to flow. He does it. He makes it through, not just as a struggle but as a sound byte that delivers one of his best.

Standing ovations for the whole cast and the lumbering thankfulness of a mother.

Backstage I gather my 10 year old into my arms, I wrap him in kisses and take him home.

I am so full-blown proud that he held it together, that he really, really understood what resilience really feels like. Its not just a word tossed about during class time, not just a stamp on a page that ticks the box.

Resilence is a physical, a mental and whole lot of guts to keep going, to stand up and stand out. Its a moment, a time that once strongly felt enables anyone to rise up and be counted.

And my mother pride saw the growing up of Tween Two, his gathering of inner strength and the breaking away of the boy that stood in his way.

The toughness of the moment led to a deep sleep that gave silver lining in the morning.



in the library

Jessica x

5 July  2015


Ps. On the cold June night when my second child flooded his face with tears in the middle of the school production, I did everything I could not to rush onto the stage to cuddle him. To watch your young child soldier on, to sing an incredible piece whilst flooding the floor with his tears of inner despair and disappointment was heart wrenching.

Reflecting back on this moment I still feel slightly sick. I’m also incredibly proud of his strength to continue on – I wonder what I would have done if it was me?

As parents in the thick of parenting we can forget that our children are tough, or can be tough in circumstances we can’t predict. We are lucky to be watchers and to share their path of discovery.

Merciful holidays…. and it begins all again next week.

What toughness have your children shown you?

Comments are always welcome. Please be mindful 
however that words can enlighten or dishearten.

A lone – week 64

I’m the lone female in the house, excluding our 18 month old Corgi Coco.

Coco is a definite kindred spirit and a lovely welcoming voice when I arrive home, and she has a perceptiveness that frankly scares me.

That aside, I am a lone in a house of two tweens, husband, rabbit and two gold fish (gender unknown!)

Tween Two is coming online. He is about to turn 10 and is showing the spirit and soul of someone firmly enamoured about social justice. The Prime Minister has become a pen friend, well friend is not the word, more a debriefer of the injustices coming through the Australian Government at this time.

This coming of age, of double digits feels strange, a growing up – yet so young.

I wondered where I was at 10? Tramping the plains of western NSW on a farm bigger than most cities, fat blue skies and the solace and knowing of being alone. Naive, yes! No exposure to the technologies of the day (were there any in the 1970’s?) although my parents did have a telex machine…

It’s the ability to grab and use any technology, to accept that it will be honest and good; to signup without thought of where all these details are stored, regurgitated and used for more advertising; targeting directly into inboxes.

Its not frightening, its simply overwhelming at times. As a parent of the 2015’s having grown a teenage life so far from this, it can be hard to keep up, to stay not ahead but simply on-par with what our 10 year olds are getting into.

We have open conversations about what tools are being used, about email addresses used to sign up; names and passwords.

As that lone female having the voice and keeping the voice across the growing up of boys is challenging and unique.

When the everydayness of the technology, I revert to the most natural of tactics. My most powerful cut through comes in the morning, the early hours when Tweens (still!) wander sleepily into the parental bed for a cuddle before their full awakens draws them back into a world that I don’t belong.

This is the true time of togetherness that no technology, age or lived in world of today will remove or encroach. Long may it last.


in the library


1 June 2015

Comments are always welcome. Please be mindful 
however that words can enlighten or dishearten.

Rolling across the calendar – week 63

Easter is rolling across the calendar and Tweens One and Two have lovingly stamped in their requests for the Easter bunny – should he still be visiting our house. Fortunately visit or not our pet rabbit Scamp (male, not the cuddly type) will create magic on the day!

Scamp in the garden

With Easter comes the end of term one – the first term of high school for One and a touch of senior leadership in junior school for Tween Two.

Tween One’s interim school report tells stories of “being connected to all the students, embracing school life and all it has to offer”. But what does this say about home – there is anger, filthy looks and scowling negativity.

I’m dipping into my resources – from Dr Spock* to Blessings of a skinned knee, to Raising Boys and my recent edition Tricky Teens.

The “attitude” I read comes from cortisol – the stress hormone that is released with adrenaline, making tweens snappy, edgy and antsy says teen expert Andrew Fuller. And given Tween One is heading into his 13th birthday, I’m thinking there is a mass of cortisol bouldering through his system.

The cure? Time and patience with some family rituals and routines such as eating together with conversation and no distractions, checking in on the sugar intake and upping the water. And of course sleep – removing the technology at least 1/2 hour before bedtime to allow the brain to begin the process of sleep.

What is all this negativity like for Tween Two and the rest of the family? It’s awful, but that’s for another post.

Happy Easter if this is your thing, happy holidays for Australian’s who tread the last of the summer days, and – those in the northern hemisphere – bold into spring with glee.


in the library





29 March 2015

*Yes I realise Dr Spock being a baby expert can’t offer much guidance about tweens but I just thought it could be something from the baby days…

Comments are always welcome. Please be mindful 
however that words can enlighten or dishearten.

One month in – week 62

It’s been a month of new adventures. Tween One has hit his new school with a blast of smiles, kindness and reaching out to new friends. And the tweens that have walked through our front door have been wonderful young boys on the cusp of a teenage life.

Back in the school yard, Tween Two has been dealing with a new enemy. Faced with a burgeoning passion and empathy for Australia’s growing population of refugees and asylum seekers – in particular the number of children now caught up in the detention system – Tween Two is struggling to fathom his life of freedom and those in Australia who are barred from entry.

It’s a tough gig to sell a nine year old who is articulate, well read and up on the nuances of government policy. His progressive school is fostering his desire to ask questions and importantly act. But how to act in this case is very tough indeed.

As a parent, I aim to harness the desire to seek justice for those that can’t (or unable), and I’m proud of the stance that Tween Two is taking. It does however poise some interesting antics in the playground with the wild and varied stance taken by children and adults (this is a passionate issue for many people in Australia).

How does Tween Two seek to understand that some people think its ok to put children behind bars?

This is one issue that Andrew Fuller’s Tricky Teens can’t help me with. Can you?


in the library





12 February 2015

Comments are always welcome. Please be mindful 
however that words can enlighten or dishearten.

Starting out – week 61

The school holidays are coming to an end and the Tween is about to launch into his first year of secondary school. It’s an exciting time for all of us. In the throws of this excitement, number two child has kicked over from child to tween – there are now two in a house of two! And it’s catching on.

Despite their tween antics, the boys do have a sense of humour. My christmas gifts were a pile of books from Tricky Teens to believe in yourself (with a few 1950’s themed “homemaker craft” books thrown in). A mixed message of “save me from myself” and “learn to sew”? I’m thinking we’re all going to be learning lots this year.

Holiday reading

Holiday reading from the Tweens

With Tricky Teens tucked in my bag alongside The Third Space, the coming weeks will open new thoughts and possibilities as we jointly take this parenting and tween pathway.

I think my biggest challenge this year will be balancing the stretching boundaries of Tween One with the nurturing that he needs. And the resilience of both of us to get through the ups, downs and carousel we have landed on in 2015.  With Tween Two coming online – its adding another fun ball into the mix.

I’m strong in the knowledge that I’m not alone in following the parenting journey…

in the library





26 January 2015

Comments are always welcome. Please be mindful 
however that words can enlighten or dishearten.

It’s over – week 60

It’s over. Seven years of primary (junior) school ended on a bright sunny Wednesday afternoon.

On the way out the school gate, the Tween got to say goodbye to one of the most influential teachers in his 12 years of learning. MrsQ stepped into the Tweens life when he was five, entering prep year (kindergarten). She taught him so many life long skills – from the obvious (counting, reading, social) but importantly a connectivity to a community beyond his family.


MrsQ with the Tween

It’s these outside family influences that will leave our tweens, teens and young adults in good stead as they face the world.

Having hung around the same primary school for seven years – there’s been tears and laughter, with way too much time in the principals office – moving on from this community has made me reflect on the dimensions that have become so important.  Most parents recognise that no schooling is perfect; that often the battles seem pointless and primitive – however what we do see is the stretching and growing of young children in small safe ponds. By pushing boundaries and making mistakes, not only do our children gain the gift of resilience we too as parent learn to trust in our child’s ability to bounce back and become the amazing tweens they are.

As we head into the week of Christmas and New Year, I wish you all a safe and prosperous time. Families and tweens can be challenging however by sticking together as a community that shares kindness, thoughts and a pathway beyond the drowning of everyday, we can make it through. I leave this year knowing that we can all go beyond being kind to show great kindness to others.

All love from my family to yours.


From my family to yours








20 December 2014

PS. As we head into 2015 and all the fun that the first year of high school will bring the Tween, I have placed a “jar of joy” on the shelf; I hope you do too.

Comments are always welcome. Please be mindful 
however that words can enlighten or dishearten.

The last times – week 59

I busted my ankle. Frankly what a shocker but every cloud is lined with silver. This (painful) downtime has allowed me to reflect on the seven years of primary (junior) school that is coming to an end.

I’ve been thinking about my involvement in the school life – from the school board to the playground antics – and how over that time there has been some real hot highs with the Tween and gut wrenching lows.

The beginning of life at school with so much learning and stretching – the desire to read so he could work out what our local graffiti artists were writing across our laneways (some classy stuff for sure!) – through to the top end of school frustrations at having to re-do work that the teacher rightfully said was “not good enough”.

The Tween has always had a fractious relationship with the Principal – a mutual feeling I think! – that I believe has been healthy in allowing him to work through the dynamics that as adults we deal with so frequently. By figuring out for himself, the Tween has developed a healthy attitude to responsibility for the good things and the times that he makes the wrong decisions –”the consequences of actions”.

As we enter the countdown of the last weeks of school, its been a challenge to keep up the motivation of learning and purpose. I so get it! I grew out of my primary school a whole year before secondary, which lead to frustrations and boredom.

For our Tween, he see’s the glitter of his new school – the gold tassels and bling of a bigger environment, new friends, on-site swimming pools, space, sport, language… and on it goes. There is no way the interest of primary school can keep up with that!

However until that final school bell at 1pm on Wednesday 17 December (which co-insides with Coco the Corgis – the Tweens dog – first birthday. What a birthday present for Coco!) it’s vital to keep him connected to the remaining days.

The main focus for us has been responsibility. Whilst he gets himself to and from school, we have looked to extend that into other areas; including coming up with ideas of how he will get to his new school next year (which will involve travelling in part with his younger brother).

And really, I would simply like the Tween to savour the moment – be present in the excitement of today.

All love



19 November 2014

Comments are always welcome. Please be mindful 
however that words can enlighten or dishearten.

Filling up the tween – week 58

There’s been more than the usual amount of basketball played in our house.

With the annual representative clubs working their way through 100’s of avid tweens and teens desperately wanting team selection – our tween has made the cut and is placed in a team for the third year in a row. It’s great news for him and as parents we brace ourselves for another 48 weeks of hectic friday night games plus 2 x a week practice.

And like most parents out there, this extra is added to the current schedule of school, sport, friendships and downtime, and of course some children-free time for the adults.

However it’s wonderful. As parents we want our children to extend themselves, have fun with life and generally be happy. And that’s what we have seen in our tween this week. The happiness as the tween settles into his new basketball team, the relish of coaching a group of nine year olds, and the refereeing he adds to the end of his Saturday line-up.

But somewhere along this crazy routine we need to ensure the tween is eating right. His growing body is being pushed and getting the balance right can be tricky. Whilst we have the “three meals a day” stacked with fresh fruit and vegetables, calcium and other nutrients for growing bodies, it’s the snacks in between that can be tricky.

The barrage of commercially packed snacks that are stacked with sugar, salt and a heap of numbers are tempting to snatch and grab during a busy week down the supermarket aisle. Keeping this at bay (yes, we have the odd slip-up here) is tricky and I’ve been playing around with a few tasty and better-for-everyone treats.

My latest not-too-shabby from the kitchen is a dark chocolate topped grain and seed slice. Using some locally made raw muesli that is packed with ancient grains, seeds and dried fruits, I have added some quinoa flakes and shredded coconut. Binding this together with honey, coconut oil and butter, and baking for about 30 minutes, I then top with melted 90% dark chocolate.

The result is a delicious packed-with-energy slice that the tween (and myself) love. It’s uber filling and as nut free can be taken to school.

Ancient grain and seed slice topped with dark chocolate

Ancient grain and seed slice topped with dark chocolate

Whilst the grain and seed slice currently has a “made in my kitchen” look, I’m sure with some refinement it will look more “commercially pre-packed”.

As baking, cooking and generally sharing recipes is really not my thing, I do highly recommend my friend and awesome journalist Carole Beck in her quest to feed her family and explore the parenting journey at Healthier Mummy.

All love



28 October 2014

Comments are always welcome. Please be mindful however that words can 
enlighten or dishearten.

Some distance — week 57

I’m in Berlin and my tween is in Melbourne.

After two weeks of family holidays in Asia, it’s probably a good thing to put some miles between us. That sounds tougher than I mean — I miss him, his brother and their father terribly. The airport farewell pulled my heart vigorously and I wondered what I was doing…

Back in Melbourne the tween has settled into the school routine with the added excitement of being in his last term of junior school, and more immediately, getting back into the basketball season.

Basketball is the tweens’ number one love.

It’s what he lives and breaths everyday.

The swish of a goal; the handling, the flip, the blocks and the “and ones”. There’s a life and a lingo that I didn’t know existed until four years ago.

As a player, a coach and a referee, the tween fills his Friday nights and Saturday’s with the resounding bounce of a ball.

It can be a wonder to watch when his head is up, a smile creases his eyes and the move maps across his face.

And afterwards, the flop on the sofa to recount his game plan, talk about his under 9 team he coaches and the calls he made as a referee. The excitement in the recount, the glow of a win, or the shadow of a loss.

What this love of basketball has really brought to my tween is a growing sense of who he is.

He spends many Saturday afternoons and early evenings hanging out with older kids (teenagers) at the courts between his refereeing games.

At first I was wary of what this meant but soon realised that these boys and girls are awesome; funny cool dudes that don’t fit the stereotype. They are great at being themselves and have unknowingly shown the tween that too.

And the vocab is a world to behold!

Who knew the poly-clad group would be our saviour?

All love



7 October 2014

Comments are always welcome. Please be mindful however that words can 
enlighten or dishearten.

Taking off – week 56

We are in Hanoi, having taken off for the spring break holidays to Hong Kong, Vietnam and Singapore.

The tween – having just turned 12 has flourished in our ever-changing daily environ. English by birth and a well travelled explorer he loves testing new food, catching the smells of the laneways and trying his luck (and bargaining skills) at the markets.

Whilst I am an a adamant “made locally and sustainable” shopper, I have to accept that the tween is working his way around a world that is not always congruent with his mothers’ purpose. He does well to balance the “cha cha” from the markets and paying a respectful price to the stallholders.

Hong Kong has found the tween smiling deeply at his new found centre of attention with mainland Chinese tourists loving his red hair and brown eye combination. Unusual in Australia, it is positively freakish in China. I’m thinking there will be many a family slide-show featuring the tween in his Rutgers t-shirt and Nike freeruns! It’s a small price for the kindness and happiness of others.

With this relaxed and uncomplicated mode, I have found the tween holding my hand (in public) and being affectionate.

Perhaps the release of being away from his “coolness” of the basketball court and the school playground has allowed this freedom of emotion to happen. It’s the change in environment that has brought out these wonderful secure traits and the connection with family that brings in the closeness.

Week one into the family trip has been awesome!

All love



22 September 2014

Comments are always welcome. Please be mindful however that words can 
enlighten or dishearten.