Monday, December 30, 2013

Two not so tiny things

I don't want to see The Desolation of Smaug. I didn't enjoy The Hobbit, so have no interest in seeing Part Two. What I do want is a few hours to myself. I live with Connor's Rumination Syndrome* 24/7 and sometimes I need a breather. Perfect. This week I bought Bones Season 8 for myself and Lee has taken the kids to see TDoS.

However, the idiots at Target forgot to unlock my DVD so I just had to walk to Blockbuster and ask them to open it. This takes about 20 minutes so no biggie, but what I didn't anticipating was the two discoveries I made during the walk.

Every few days Lee and I push the kids out the door and send them twice around the block. Sometimes we tell them to report back to us with 10 tiny things they found while out. Connor always argues against it with "But I feel sick," but I counter with "Then throw up. You're outside, so it doesn't matter. Go, find me something new."

Today while out walking I did my own version of looking around and found two splatters on the footpath. Immediately, I knew what they were. My reaction to seeing it proved that it really does matter when Connor vomits outside. I feel so awful right now, but I can't stop the walks. Connor spends a lot of time lying down next to a bucket. He needs the exercise and fresh air. I'm doing the right thing, but it just goes to show that in some cases even the right thing hurts.

*And yes, I do know Connor also lives with it 24/7 and he doesn't get to call a time out. But every night he falls asleep and is fine for the next 8 hours or so while I spend at least a portion of that washing the walls, and the floor and his sheets and at least 3 towels. So let me have this.

Friday, December 27, 2013

One, one pitch, hahahahaha

Today I did something I haven't done in a long time. I committed properly to writing a short story. I made a pitch to FableCroft for their Cranky Ladies of History anthology and now I have to wait and see what they say. It feels pretty scary, I have to admit, to put in writing an idea that is still young and new. Writing has, over the past 5 years or so, become more of an ideal to attain rather than a bedrock of my life. Uni, judging, full-time work, sick child, they've all conspired to draw my focus elsewhere. As a result, I feel I've lost the knack of story-telling, of threading daisy chains of sentences together, in order to make something complete and new.

But, I've done it. I have a cranky lady whom I love and whose work inspires me. I've researched her life and works and feel I can do some good in getting her name out there. I've written up my pitch and have committed to writing about a woman whose works have brought closure to many.

Now, leave me alone. I'm off to write! Oh, and if you see me on Facebook, tell me to get back to work.

Have a lovely day.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Big uh four five

I'm turning 45 in 2014. This seems somewhat significant so I've decided to compile a list of 45 things to do by the end of the year.

Here's my list. It'll be interesting to revisit this page at the end of the year to see how I go. I also look forward to posting each attempt and its accomplishment.

  1. Learn how to make ice-cream from scratch without a machine. I like the idea of ice-cream but am rarely impressed with what I eat. This was the same premise that got me into making muffins and look where I am now.
  2. Make a Swiss Roll from scratch. One of the few happy memories I have from my childhood is watching my parents making Swiss Roll together. I loved seeing my parents united in something good and I certainly enjoyed the cake. 
  3. Read 45 novels. It's reading. What's to explain?
  4. Read 45 short stories. Yada yada with some ditto attached.
  5. Nag Lee mercilessly to get the lounge-room painted. Most of the house has been painted for about 18 months now. The lounge-room is patched. It's time to get tough on my husband's butt.
  6. Save $1000 for a holiday for the family this time next year. After the events of 2012 and 2013, we need a break, desperately.
  7. Paint my nails black. It's a thing I've always wanted to do but have never had the courage.
  8. Plant a herb garden with at least 4 herbs. I love using fresh herbs in my cooking, but they're expensive. Planting my own makes sense, and it's something I can turn into a science project with Connor.
  9. Write a poem and submit it. I deride poetry at every turn, and yet some of my favourite work that Lee has had published have been poems. It's time to have a go.
  10. Complete a course in something unusual. I do have an idea for this, but this is the kick to get me signing up for it.
  11. Complete, edit and submit a novel. Yeah, I'm a writer, and I have started plenty of novels but have never finished one on my own. This is the year that changes.
  12. Take my kids to the beach by myself. I'm terrified of the beach at the best of times, so usually I send Lee and the kids off without me. If I do go, I take a book and refuse to look up. It's time to meet that fear and take the kids without Lee.
  13. Sew myself a skirt. I sew skirts for Erin and shorts for Connor. It's time to do something for me.
  14. Spend an entire week Facebook free. Yeah, I'm supposed to be doing that now, but I'm still lurking, still posting the odd thing that amuses me, still making comments. This will be a total black out. No reading, no checking for messages.
  15. Make a donation to a worthy cause. I'm not normally one for donations, but this year I shall give money without expectation of something in return (ie a red nose or a sticker or a receipt.)
  16. Organise a photo of all my children and grandchildren and us and have it framed. Just because it would be lovely to have a memento of our family.
  17. Organise the CD library into order. We have well over 200 DVDs.It really needs doing and this is the time.
  18. Clean out the walk in robe. Four years we've been in this house. It's time to bring order to our room.
  19. Have friends over for a night of interactive movies. Because life can't only be about cleaning and cooking.
  20. Take the kids out star gazing. We should all admire the beauty above us at some point.
  21. Take the kids to the beach for sunset. We should all admire the beauty in front of us.
  22. Take the kids to smell roses at least once. We should all stop to smell the roses.
  23. Have a professional massage. I give massages all the time. It would be nice to get a proper massage in return.
  24. Clean the front windows. A door-to-door salesman made a snarky comment last week. He was right.
  25. Declutter 45 things from the house. We could do with thinning our possessions back a little and I'm the one to make it happen.
  26. Send a message in a bottle saying hello in four languages. I like the idea of reaching out to other people across the ocean.
  27. Plant a time capsule of myself. I like the idea of reaching out to the future.
  28. Swing on a swing. It's been way too long.
  29. Play a full game of hopscotch with my children. It's such a connection.
  30. Reconnect with an old friend that I haven't spoken to in years. There are two candidates. I know which one I'm more interested in speaking to.
  31. Make a three course meal with Lee. I adore my husband and love spending time with him. Cooking an entire dinner and then sharing it with him would, I think, be a wonderful experience.
  32. Write my will. Lee and I have been talking about this since day one of our relationship. This is a priority. It probably should be number one and I'm embarrassed it's so low on the list.
  33. Take both grandchildren off their mum for an entire weekend. Connor is my priority and I find it hard to think about making time for my granddaughter. Now a new baby is coming. I want to be part of my grandchildren's lives in a way that my mum wasn't.
  34. Do the Mother's Day run. I used to do it and it felt great. I have 5 months to get ready.
  35. Kiss Lee at the top of the Bell Tower. Any excuse to kiss my beloved.
  36. Create a piece of jewellery. This is the year to explore my creativity and I love jewellery.
  37. Clean the internal doors. The more we paint, the dirtier they seem.
  38. Mow a lawn. I always get the men to do this, but I think I should give it a try. Once.
  39. Plant lavender. I say this every year, but never do. 
  40. Watch an Alien movie. I got through the first 2 or 3 and really want to see the one with Winona Ryder.
  41. Declutter and sort the filing cabinet. Another of those chores that have been on the 'must-do' list forever that really needs to be addressed.
  42. Get the carpets cleaned. You're probably thinking we live in filth. It's just that some things are done more often than others.
  43. Take a tour. I don't know where, but a tour shall be taken.
  44. Wash and shine the car. Another Lee job that I'm willing to do. Once.
  45. Write a living letter to all my children, telling them what they mean to me. Just for love's sake.
Well, it's taken me over an hour to complete, but it's done. This is my year ahead. Let's see how it goes.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Crystal ball gazing.

My kids are amazing. Connor and Erin are celebrating the first day of their holidays by helping me do some cleaning. I'm cleaning out the fridge and freezer while Erin cleans and scrubs the pantry and Connor (who is having a Particularly Bad Day) is cleaning the lounge-room and vacuuming.

This is lovely in and of itself, but what I'm particularly enamoured with is their conversation. While listening to "The Time Warp" the conversation turns to sad songs. Erin turns and asks me "Do you have to have your wedding song as a funeral song?" I say no, not at all. "Great, because I'd really like 'Running Up That Hill' for my funeral song, but something different for my wedding." She goes on to tell me why she loves this song and what it would mean to her to have it played at her funeral. (and it must be the Placebo version.)

Ooookay. My 12 year old is thinking so far ahead with her life that she's thinking about death, but is hazy about the "happily ever after".

Continuing with the theme, Connor offers his preference. "I've decided on 'Hoppipolla'"* he tells us. "It's got me through a lot, lately, and I want people to be happy and sad at the same time."

Now, I have to admit, Connor's choice doesn't surprise me. Earlier this year Connor asked first me and then a doctor if he was going to die. Yes, we assured and reassured him that he wouldn't, but I know he's thought about it. I just hadn't realised how much.

The direction of the conversation would have worried me but for one thing. Within 2 minutes, during "American Pie", they were discussing the names of their future children. Erin has decided on Bridgette and Bethany Battersby. Yeah, notice the surname. That, I'm told, is deliberate. "My daughters will be having my surname, whether I'm married or not."

I'm quietly proud. I really don't believe women should change their surnames when they're married but my daughter has carried this belief a step further and is embracing it for her daughters too. Whether she holds onto this view in the face of the future Mr Not-Good-Enough-For-My-Daughter's own belief system remains to be seen, but at least she's thinking about it.

Oh, and Connor has decided on Jordan, Isaac, Sarah and Bethany. Again, I'm quietly pleased. Connor isn't thinking about death ALL the time, and if you know my son, you'll know that this is quite a relief  :) (When asked about the two of them each having a child called Bethany, they shrugged. "I don't see how it will be a problem," Connor said, and Erin agreed. Alrighty, then.

Here's to all possible futures.

*I wanted to embed the videos for both songs but it would only let me put in one or the other, so I decided to use links instead.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Well, that was a total fizzog

I love having Connor home. We get to hang out and play games, and do school stuff and watch Bones together. Sometimes, however, we have to go out.

Today is shopping day. Connor was having a great morning. No vomiting and a bright smile gave me hope. Anticipating the humidity, I gave him a small drink of water (about half a cup) with his lunch then headed out.

5 minutes in and Connor ran away from me. He came back 2 minutes later, only to disappear again. And again. And again. By about the 6th take off I was ready to cry. Of course, I knew where he was. He was in the toilet, vomiting.

Water sets Connor off. It's one of those things we know but can do nothing about. The boy is a human from Planet Earth. He needs water, it can't be helped. Sometimes a Chupa Chup helps. Today it didn't. After 25 minutes I called it quits and hunted for a checkout. Two closed up as I approached them and it was all I could do not to smack the operators up the backside of their heads. Reminding myself that my son's illness was not their fault, I stamped around, looking for service Finally I found someone willing to take my purchases and managed to get it through. Connor disappeared 4 times.

Now, he's sitting in front of Ben 10, sucking on a barley sugar. He's sweaty and pale and his smile has gone. I have to get out sometimes, I just have to, if only for my own sanity, but most of the time I just can't. Sometimes I wonder if Connor and I will ever be 'normal' again.

Monday, December 16, 2013

'Tis the season to be criticised for not conforming to society's rules

I really hate this time of year. Don't we have enough to deal with? It's hot, it's humid and the shops are full of grumpy, angsty people who constantly tell anyone who'll listen "I'll be glad when it's all over" and yet are shocked and even angry when you answer with "I don't celebrate." How dare I turn my back on this high holy day of consumerism and act like it doesn't matter? What is wrong with me?

In short, nothing. This is my decision. Yes, it is religious based, but let's face it, my spirituality is quite low at the moment, so I could go back to the whole festivity thing and no one would really notice. But still, I choose not to because it doesn't feel right to me.

That's my choice. Having Christmas is Lee's.

My husband loves celebrating the season with lots of presents, decorations, food and time with the family. Every year he tells me he's only giving one thing to each child, but each week in the lead up sees another item join the growing pile. He loves finding something perfect and buying it for the person he thought of when he saw it. Things get Aiden-heavy for a while, then Erin-heavy, then something new arrives for Connor or Blake. Or me.


I don't celebrate at all. I don't buy anything at all (sort of. There is a proviso, which I'll discuss later.) I don't buy presents specific to that time, I don't buy paper, I don't wrap them up. I don't hand out cards, or wish or return greetings (beyond a "thank you. Enjoy your week/weekend). I do make White Rocky Road which I give to Lee to hand out at his whim, but that's another story. Lee and I have, over the course of our marriage, learned the basic art of compromise. He buys the presents but asks my opinion. We don't have a tree or decorations. I help with the cooking in the lead up, but have a total day off on the 25th. I accept his presents but he wraps them in non-festive paper. I buy things for him and the kids when I have the money and give it to them the moment we're all at home. Lee does not wish me a Merry or Happy anything and I don't either. We just love each other and our family and that's all that's important.

Except for one thing.

My childhood was spent in total poverty. We had very little and had to make do with the small amount we did have. Christmas was, for us, opening the few things we could afford then heading off to Nanna's for cold meat and salad for lunch. Here were the real presents, the pillowcases of stuff that she'd accumulated for us throughout the year. There were lollies. Lots and lots of lollies. And sultanas. And boxes of biscuits. And pencils, textas, books, sharpeners in the shape of apples, erasers in the shape of ballerinas, pencil cases in the shape of well, pencil cases, all pretty, all lovely gifts, all designed to make the school shop a bit easier for my Dad.

One year things were so bleak for Dad that he could only afford one present each for Raymond and I. Even before I opened it I knew it was a book. What I didn't know was which one. There were worlds of possibility in that wrapping and for a few moments I held the unknown universe in my hand.

 It was "Mr Midshipman Easy". Not exactly the most promising book for a girl who loved fantasy and science fiction, but a book anyway. I opened the cover and made the real discovery. It had come second hand from the Good Samaritans and had cost Dad 20c. That was the year I really came to understand just how poor we were. I never asked my dad for anything financial again.

I did get other books that year from my Nanna, but it was "Mr Midshipman Easy" that stayed with me as a treasure. I told Lee this story early in our relationship and we both cried over the sadness of it. Lee suggested we do something similar, in order to keep in mind that it's not the present that's important, but the love that goes with the choice. So, every year, Lee and I scour the second-hand book shops and buy That Book, the one that shows just how much we mean to each other and the place of books within our lives. Over the years Lee has bought me books about strong female role models ie female Gladiators, women who approach the world full on (Ladies who Lunge) and Betty White. I have bought Lee books on Soccer, on the men of the Stuart dynasty and islands that didn't exist. I don't have anything solid in mind when I buy for him, only that it celebrates some aspect of his personality. It's not a Christmas present, but an acknowledgement of where we (separately) came from and where we're going together.

The year is rapidly drawing to a close and I look back on the year that has been the many years before that. Does it matter that I don't celebrate a designated societal holiday? No, it does not. Does it matter that my husband (who is a very giving man all year) becomes even more exuberant one day a year? No, it does not. Do I care that you think I'm bad because I don't say "Merry This or Happy That?" No, I do not. And do I care that you think I'm bad because I accept my generous husband's generosity all year round, including on the 25th? No, I really, really, really do not. All I care about are the people in my house and their happiness each and every day, whether socially designated or otherwise.

Have a wonderful day, everyone.

Parenting, when surrounded by dummies

Oh. My. Goodness. If there's one saying guaranteed to make me want to throw an adult through a window, it's the term "I can't believe they make you get a licence drive a car/own a firearm/catch fish, but not to be a parent."

For cracking ice, people. Look, here's the thing. If adults had to apply for a licence in order to have a baby, no one would get one. No one. We make mistakes every single day. My older kids will tell you the mistakes I made with them that I avoid now. My younger kids will tell you the horror I inflict upon them that I didn't with the older. Parenting is not a perfect art. There is no course you can take to prepare you, no life lessons you can undergo to make you an expert, no uber-experienced role model that you can call on to know every answer to every question. You are, to all intents and purposes on your own. You muddle along doing the best you can with the information you have and IT'S STILL NOT ENOUGH! You live and learn every moment of every day and then, when you think you have a handle on it, they change the rules on you.


I have five children aged between 9 and 22. When I was pregnant 23 years ago, I had my mother giving me the benefits of her wisdom based on multiple years first as a mother and then as a step-mother. She'd had me young (17) and knew it all. I listened to her advice and then gently advised her that modern medical thinking and child-rearing practice had changed and it was different now.


Fast forward 12 years from that day and I was pregnant for the fifth time (fourth live baby). I went into my ante-natal classes fairly confident that I'd have something to teach the others. I was an old hand at this. I knew it all.



Modern medical thinking and child-rearing practice had changed and it was different now. I'd sailed through my first pregnancy eating soft cheese for the calcium, pate for the iron, raw egg for the protein. Now these were all banned to me. Yes, my unborn fetus had survived, but that was luck and if there's one motto I hold dear when it comes to my children, it's "Don't be lucky, be safe."


Another nine years on and my daughter is about to have her second child whilst raising a toddler. As a mother who had the same age gap in her first two children, I want to tell her the best way to do things, the best ways to handle her pregnancy and her almost-two year old. I have, after all, raised two families two different ways. I know what works and what doesn't. Don't I? I certainly know what worked for me yesterday, but I also know it possibly won't work tomorrow. It's not just the rules that change, but the children with it. If anyone needs a licence to enter this world, it should be the baby. "Sorry, kid, but you can't be born until you can demonstrate an ability to sleep through the night, eat on (parental) demand and only cry for a readily-confirmable reason. Until then, back you go."

Finally, when it comes to judging the licencing merits of parents (any parent at all, whether pregnant, post-natal or more experienced than Nadya Suleman) here's something you really do need to know. The past few months on Facebook have taught me something valuable: Do not give expecting, new or experienced parents unsolicited advice. I don't care if your parenting experience comes from having 22 children of your own, or from once watching an episode of The Young Doctors while high. Don't give advice to parents if they haven't asked for it. They resent it and will happily slap you down in public for giving it (yeah, I learnt that the hard way, both as a receiver and a giver). When a parent rants on any forum, whether it be Twitter, or Facebook or their LJ account, that's all they're doing. Ranting. Blowing off steam. Taking a deep breath before getting on with it. They're not asking you to step in and take over. So, now I leave them to it. They'll work it out. We did. I did. I still am.

So, please, never ever say parents need a licence to have children. Honestly, most of them need a medal for getting this far. Okay, if not a medal, at least grant them the opportunity to have a good lie down and a moment to themselves. It really is a hard job and one that needs to be recognised as such.

Next week: I shall be tackling the equally thorny quote "They only have children to get benefits."

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Making my boy smile

There is a special place in my heart for people who go out of their way to make my sick boy happy. A big thanks to the McMinns for travelling an hour in the heat yesterday to have lunch with us. Not only did they provide rumballs and mint fudge (YUM!) but they also gave Connor a full suite of Garry's Mod games and Kris spent a large portion of a very hot day installing Steam and the games onto my temperamental lap top.

Connor doesn't have a chance to play with real children anymore. He's just too ill to go out. So, the opportunity to do something new and fun at home means the world to him and that means the world to us. Good company, good conversation AND kindness to my child. Yeah, these friends are keepers.

Friday, December 13, 2013

It's my party and I'll cry if I want to

I'm 44. I'm not pregnant. This should be a good thing, right?

Generally, I like being a woman. I'm living in an age where the rights of women are no longer questioned, where our voice is heard, where it's expected we can travel through life with the same ease and power of men.

In theory.

My period started yesterday. Periods, just in case you weren't aware, suck. If you're a woman and you're not aware of this, then woo-freaking-hoo for your good luck. For the rest of us there's cramping, chocolate craving, fluid retention, sore breasts and a need for alcohol that borders on abuse.

Oh, yeah, abuse. Let us not forget the insane need to yell at stupid people because they posted a stupid update on stupid Facebook.

Really, it's so unfair. I'm 44. I'm not having any more children. I know that, you know, my husband's sliced and diced testicles know that. So, why should I have to suffer through periods? There should be a point where you can 'opt out'. I don't mean menopause. That's a whole different kettle of trauma. I'm just suggesting a way that women of a certain age can choose to turn off the period hormone without side effects. I tried the Mirena implant and went from basic depression and anger during PMS to full on despair and fury during both PMS AND ovulation.

The other thing about it is the uncertainty. My husband has had a vasectomy, so no more little Battersbys for us. Again, that's the theory. My first husband also had the snip. Twice. Yeah, ask us about Blake. Yes, as happy accidents go, he's the best, but I can tell you, one post-vasectomy pregnancy and you never trust the op again. It's been a year since Lee's vasectomy. If my period is more than 5 minutes late I'm down the doctor demanding a pregnancy test.

Which brings me full circle. I'm 44. I'm getting older and my cycle is changing. Menopause is closing in and I'm getting later and later each month. Paranoia is growing and my family bites their nails to the quick as I wait for those telltale first spots each month. I just wish we could opt-out and do away with periods all together*. Then the world, for women, really would be a better place.

*Yes, I have read Connie Willis' "Even the Queen". Sounds like Utopia to me.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A proud day in the Batthouse

Erin got an award today, for outstanding achievement in Indonesian. I went along to the awards ceremony but didn't stay much longer than hearing her name and watching her receive the piece of paper that proves my daughter to be a linguistic genius. Connor was pretty sick throughout, so we had to wave our congratulations and run.

Erin is, in a word, amazing. She's extremely bright, quite sporty, talented at drawing and totally gorgeous. But more importantly, she has a generous heart. It is very easy to take Erin for granted. She cleans up with being asked, she makes coffee without being asked, she kisses her brother hello and good-bye without being told to (they both actually do this), she offers to go to the shops for me when I can't go and makes lunch for her dad most days. If I had to pay Erin in actual Australian Dollars, I'd have to ask Bill Gates for a loan.

So, I'm just going to put it here, for all the world to see: You're a credit to our family, Erin and we're extremely proud of you.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

It's the End of the Year. Again.

I'm a bit over the constant chatter of Facebook at the moment. I feel as though everyone's talking, but no one's really listening. People are shouting for tolerance while being extremely intolerant to the thoughts, opinions and belief systems of others, so I've decided to take a bit of a break. My sister-in-law, Amanda, reminded me that I haven't blogged in a long while, so I've decided to spend my time blogging our life rather than throwing it into the overly-cluttered ocean that is Facebook.

So, it's the end of the year. This time last year I looked back at 2012 and thought "I can't wait to put this year behind us. There's no way 2013 can be as bad as this."

Yeah, I know. Famous last words and all that. It has been an absolute dog of a year and I'm feeling the need to peel back the layers and see the various issues that made this year so awful, as well as the actions that saved it.

My Big Fat End of Year Meme

1. What did you do in 2013 that you'd never done before? 
I fell in hate. Deeply and forever. There's one person in my circle (sort of) who makes me furious whenever I come into contact with him. I think he knows how I feel because he stays the hell out of my way. He should be family, but I shall never ever consider him in that way. I've had violent boyfriends, an ex-husband, a brother-in-law who is not exactly a beacon of shining light in this world, and yet I've hated none of these. This man, however - yeah, I hate him.

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year? At the beginning of each year the family sits down and works out what they'd like to achieve by the end of the year. Mine were: 

  • Write a novel. Well, yeah, sort of achieved. Connor's illness compelled me to tell him a story each night, which I wrote down. This turned into "Peter Brown Loves Dinosaurs." I haven't edited it, though, and it sits in my computer largely ignored But it has led me to writing "Treckie Travers" which is the next novel I'm currently writing and reading to the kids.
  • Live a healthy, vegetarian lifestyle. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. No.
  • Sew Erin a skirt by the time she returns to skirt. Yep. She doesn't really wear it, though, so I don't think she likes it.
  • Read 40 novels. Thanks to the Aurealis Awards, I currently stand at about 60. So, yeah, that's probably my biggest achievement.
  • Walk/ride to school with the kids 2/3 of the school year. Well, here's the thing. Connor got sick. He's so sick he can no longer attend school. Erin used the opportunity to gain independence and started walking to school with her friends. So, no.
  • Make 6 new recipes. Yep. Achieved, and in doing so discovered the joy of Parmesan Chicken Bites. A big family favourite.
So there you have it. Half achieved, half attempted but not finished.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Plenty of people I know on Facebook gave birth, but no one I'd say I'm 'close' to. It's not like we have coffee together.

4. Did anyone close to you die? No. My mum died at the end of last year. At one stage Connor asked us if he was going to die. Thankfully, no. He is ill, but it isn't directly fatal.

5. What countries did you visit? The past. A lot.

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013? Connor's health returned to him. His illness is difficult on the family, but it's awful watching him suffer every day.

7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? Amanda's party in May. It was the very first day Connor started vomiting. I look back at that first episode and shudder. I had no idea what was coming. I clearly remember saying to those present; "Oh, it's nothing. It'll pass." Seven months and it's only gotten worse. Multiple hospital visits. Hundreds of tests. One very sick little munchkin.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Managing to home-educate Connor despite the worst circumstances. Not only was his coordinator satisfied with all we achieved, she commended Lee and I for our efforts in keeping his education going.

9. What was your biggest failure? Giving up uni when it all got too hard. Connor takes up pretty much all my mental energy. I have so little left over to give to anyone else, let alone myself. And yet, it's not a failure I regret.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? I was hospitalised for 24 hours with a suspected heart attack. It turned out to be Costo-Chondritis, an affliction that kept me in bed for 2 weeks. The pain was incredible.

11. What was the best thing you bought? My gym membership. It's my release. I'm not losing weight, but I do get to leave the house for an hour most days and just regroup my mental energy.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Connor has faced a difficult year, and yet he has remained cheerful, funny and an absolute joy. He has days where he can vomit 40-plus times, but he just keeps going. He has become afraid of going out, but he makes the most of being at home. My little boy has been a constant delight for us all. 

And, of course...I couldn't have kept going without the constant support of my beloved, Lee. He walks in at night and pushes me out the door. I go to the gym while he organises the kids for the evening. Once the kids are in bed he gives me his full attention and we talk, watch TV, write, read, whatever, but we do it together. He takes one day off a fortnight and uses it to take over Connor's school day and, once again, I'm pushed out the door to do whatever I want. I love my husband so much.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed? I hate this question. I want to talk about the behaviour of one quasi-family member who just appalls me with his attitude but it's a touchy subject, so I'd best leave it alone for now. I just want to say that when you have a family, they should be the focus of your world, not your own ego. Also, a little respect to those around you wouldn't go astray. It's one of those things that you have to give in order to receive.

14. Where did most of your money go? I'd love to say on holidays away, but nothing as fun as all that. The car and the mortgage eat our money.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Lee's novel contract for Magwitch and Bugrat. The novel is brilliant and I can't wait to see it in print. Going to Margaret River with Lee earlier this year to attend Battcon. It was wonderful.

16. What song will always remind you of 2013? "Vincent" by Don McLean. My favourite quote this year comes from the Doctor Who episode "Vincent and the Doctor" in which Vincent says to the Doctor "We have fought monsters together, and we have won." This quote sums up the family's year as we've worked together to keep Connor positive in the face of his illness (actually, most of the time it's him who keeps our spirits up). Every time I hear "Vincent" I am reminded of this quote and the strength it gives me.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:i. happier or sadder? ii. thinner or fatter? iii. richer or poorer? 1)Sadder. Last year was pretty difficult with my mother's death and the loss of my job, but I knew I'd get over it eventually. This year we're working against Connor's illness (Rumination Disorder) and we're at the point of thinking we'll never seeing an end to it. 2)Fatter, but only a little. I'm eating a lot more and it's showing. 3)Poorer, but again, only a little. This year feels much the same as last year.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of? Nothing, really. I had the year I had and dealt with it appropriately. I would have liked to spend more time with Cass and Aisla, but Connor has to come first. He just does. 

19. What do you wish you'd done less of? Complaining on Facebook. People see it as a free-for-all for offering advice. I don't want advice. You name it, Lee and I have done it. Sometimes I just wanted to rant, but people find it hard to accept that. 

20. How will you be spending Christmas? I have no idea. The Triffitt kids are all independent now, so they make their own plans and we're expected to fall into line with that. Erin and Connor are spending the day with the grandparents, which probably leaves Lee and I on the couch, sharing a bottle of Moscato and watching "Whitechapel" or "Ripper Street."

21. Who did you meet for the first time? The McMinns. Kris and Kim, you helped save our year. 

22. Did you fall in love in 2013? I answer this the same way every year, but that doesn't make it any less true. My husband walks into the room and I still get a flutter in my stomach. Seeing him fills me with happiness and I just want to push everyone aside, just so I can be with him. We go to a party or a convention and even though we start off circulating, we end up looking for each other just so we can be together. As long as our relationship is solid, the rest of existence feels doable.

23. What was your favourite TV program? This year Lee and I discovered two shows that quickly stole our evenings. Yes, there was Broadchurch, and we enjoyed it well enough, but the real winners were, for us, Ripper Street and Whitechapel. Each is amazing in its own way, but Ripper Street will forever be the show that featured the most heartbreaking scene in television history. All I'm saying is: Season Two, Joseph Merrick. 

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year? Oh, yes. But again, delicate.

25. What was the best book you read? I read many fantastic books this year but I think my favourite is one that I can't talk about because it's an Aurealis Awards Nominee. Keep an eye on my Goodreads.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery? Aiden got me listening to Sabaton and I found I really, really like their sound and message.

27. What was your favorite film of this year? A tie between The Croods and Catching Fire. Both absolutely blew me away. I now own The Croods and will own Catching Fire once the box set of the trilogy comes out. 

28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 44. That's it.

29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? If I'd finished uni this semester, but I'm not going to regret the decision to defer. Connor needed me and I met that need.

30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013? Lee's oversized t-shirts. He never complains when I steal his t-shirts and for that I'm grateful.

31. What kept you sane? My visits with Cassandra. We had our problems in the past, but we got through them and now we spend quality time together. Yesterday I taught her to make muffins my way and it was wonderful.

Lee and the gym also helped keep me sane. 

32. What political issue stirred you the most? The refugee situation. Refugees are not criminals. I don't know why this message needs to be repeated.

33. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013.  I don't think I learned a life lesson this year. We kept our heads above water, that's all we could do.

34. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
This was Connor's favourite song this year because he said it makes him feel sad and happy at the same time. Every car trip features it at least once.

From Hoppipolla by Sigur Ros

Og útilykt af hárinu þínu
Ég anda eins fast og ég get
Með nefinu mínu

I engum stígvélum
Allur rennvotur (rennblautur)
I engum stígvélum

Og ég fæ blóðnasir
En ég stend alltaf upp
Hoppipola - Sigur Ros. 

So true. Connor's nose has been bloodied over and over this year, but he still gets up, no matter what.

So, that's my year. Yeah, it was hard, but I read lots, spent heaps of time with my children, built up my relationship with my daughter, took up knitting, invented and cooked up batch after batch of muffins, discovered new ways to combine cornflakes, parmesan cheese and chicken, cooked cupcakes for my other daughter to take to school, attended Crime Scene, watched the Dr Who 50th Anniversary Special at the cinema, started to write several novels, made new friends, helped my sons move out into their first rental, rediscovered songs I'd forgotten about, and kept my relationship with my husband and children alive and fresh.