Posts filed under ‘Gratitude’
It’s almost Christmas, and exactly one year since I started this blog! I have lots of big plans for next year, which I will fill you all in on in the new year. Let’s just say that things should get exciting around here!
But for now, let’s take a look back at the year that was.
In the year that I have been blogging, I have had:
45 blogs (this is the 46th)
11 stories (including 3 poems)
Not too shabby, but I will definitely be looking to improve all of those numbers next year!
Things I have learned in my year of blogging:
I love blogging! It’s fun, and it challenges me to come up with new subjects and story ideas and to post regularly
I am really bad at remembering to tag and categorise blog posts. I had to go through and fix a bunch of uncategorized ones just so I could find stories and things for the links below.
I need to make more time for writing. This is pretty obvious – I think no matter how much writing I do I can always do more!
Here are a few of my goals for 2012:
Blog more! Write more stories!
Publish stories for sale (more on this in the new year – exciting!)
Revamp website (all I have to do is figure out how!)
Let’s see how far we’ve come
Ah Rob Thomas – you never let me down. So now that I’ve brushed over some of the facts and figures behind blogging, let’s take a look at where it all began.
My first blog post, from December 24, 2010, was a basic introduction to me and my work – read it here. More exciting is my first story ever posted – Rainbow meets the Grumble Fairy, also posted on December 24. You can read that work of art (*cough*) here.
As for how I came to give my blog the name Squeaky Shoe Stories, I tell the story of that here (a hint: it involves a really cute little girl, a duck statue and a pair of squeaky shoes).
And that concludes the Concise History of Squeaky Shoe Stories! I hope you’ve enjoyed this little glance back through the past year. I know I have!
So thank you to all my readers, whether you’ve read every blog or just dropped in once or twice. This past year has been a huge learning curve for me, and I look forward to continuing with this little blog of mine in 2012.
MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!
If you read last week’s not-really-a-blog blog, you’ll know that I was spending the weekend in Brisbane to say what was likely to be a final farewell to my Uncle Joe.
He passed peacefully, with his family around him, yesterday.
It was the best that could be hoped for him. He was not in any pain, and to continue living completely bedridden and reliant on others for everything just doesn’t do justice to the person he was.
I am pleased to say that despite his state, he did wake up a couple of times while I was there, he recognised me and was able to talk for a few minutes. He knew I was there and he was grateful.
I was grateful too. It wasn’t easy making the decision to go, not knowing whether he would make it that far, or whether to wait to attend a funeral.
But I am so glad I made the choice I did, and was able to spend a few more precious moments with him before he left us.
Grief is hard, there is no denying that, but it is also a reminder of how precious life is, and how important it is to live while you are here. Whether living for you means jumping out of planes, or spending an afternoon curled up with a book, having big parties or just spending some quiet time with a few close friends, make time to do them.
Thank you to all of my friends and family who have shown their support over these past few weeks, it has made such a difference.
Right now I’m not okay, but I promise I will be.
I will be back next week with a very special story to share with you all.
This week featured one of the most dramatic nights of my 24-odd years. Tuesday was a fairly normal day, as far as days go. Matt and I were both recovering from a nasty flu, so at about 8.30pm I was curled up in bed watching tv when Matt came in to tell me that Ciara, our youngest dog, was having a sneezing fit. She’d already sneezed about 15 times when he came in to me, and she was not stopping. She was sneezing so much she barely had time to breathe between sneezes, which was freaking us out, so we brought her inside to have a closer look.
That was when we saw the blood. Yes, our dog was sneezing blood. Not good! I held her and got her leash onto her while Matt called the vet hospital at Murdoch University to get us in. We were so distracted that I nearly left the house without shoes on, and we both almost forgot our wallets.
In the car, Matt drove while I sat in the back holding Ciara, trying to keep her calm and trying (in vain) to minimise the amount of blood going everywhere. I got covered in blood, I looked like I belonged in a zombie apocalypse movie, but I honestly couldn’t care less – although the time she gave me an unexpected kiss right on the mouth in a gap between sneezes was gross!
Fortunately her sneezes did calm down in the car, and by the time we got to the vet she’d mostly stopped except for the occasional bout of sneezes.
We had a bit of a wait for the vet, so I had time to go and clean myself up a bit in the bathroom. There wasn’t much I could do about my clothes, but I got the blood off my arms, chest and face at least. Let me tell you, I got some weird looks from people in the waiting room!
When we got to see the vet, it turned out that all that drama was being caused by… a grass seed. Yep, Ciara had managed to inhale one and get it stuck up her nose where it was causing all kinds of irritation! They had to put her under to investigate and get it out, which is always a bit scary, regardless of how young and healthy she is. We went and waited at my parents house, since they live five minutes away, so I could clean up a bit more.
After all that, we got our (not so) little one home a little before midnight. She was as hyper as ever, after being given a shot of adrenaline to wake her up!
It was a stressful, messy and expensive evening, but all I can think is how glad I am that she’s okay. And also that we need to take better care of our backyard! It’s a desert in summer, but in winter with all the rain it got out of control. I definitely want to avoid this happening again!
Now, to reward you for reading this (can it really be counted as a reward?) here’s a blow-by-blow on how I got the blood stains out of the car upholstery. Because I figure that between pets, kids and drunk friends, this is an issue that everyone will have to face at some point in their lives!
Now, I had no idea about how to get blood out of a car, so of course I did some research first… by which I mean, I asked Twitter.
Of course, some answers were more helpful than others. I decided not to ask this guy how he knew that…
But I did also get a lot of great advice. The best tip was to use cold water, not hot. That was a big surprise to me! I would have used hot water, but apparently warm or hot water can actually seal in the blood stains, whereas cold water lifts it right out!
Also, I learned that using a dabbing motion rather than a scrubbing action would help to lift it out of the fabric rather than pushing it in.
So here’s what I did:
How to remove blood stains from car upholstery
Cold water (I used water from the fridge and added ice blocks)
Nappisan (just a little bit mixed into the cold water)
Large, two-sided car sponge (raised texture on one side, flat on the other)
Bicarbonate of soda
Mix cold water, ice blocks and nappisan in a bucket or bowl, depending how big a stain you are dealing with.
Fill spray bottle with cold water mixture.
Discover that spray bottle does not actually spray. Twist and turn nozzle every which way, even taking it all the way off, and observe that no matter what you do, the liquid in the spray bottle won’t make it more than halfway up the tube.
Abandon no-spray bottle and just use the sponge instead (warning – if you use this method things will get pretty wet, so make sure you have plenty of time to air the car out so it doesn’t get smelly)
Dip the sponge into the cold water, wring out and then dab the blood stain/s firmly until they fade and disappear. I found the textured side of the sponge worked best on the seats themselves, while the flat side worked best on the backs of the front seats.
For metal or plastic parts that have blood spatter, you can scrub (I found the textured side worked best here), and it comes off pretty easily. Just make sure there’s no blood on the upholstery around it before you do that, so you don’t risk scrubbing in some of the fabric stains while cleaning the plastic.
The worst area was the backseat behind the drivers chair, since that’s where Ciara was sitting. Matt had put down a plastic sheet that we keep in the car for the dogs, but she kept shifting around and moving it, so that seat suffered a lot.
I started there first so that the seat would have time to dry a bit while I did the rest. On the down side, it meant that when I was doing the backs of the front seats I had to sit in the wet patch for a while. Mmm, soggy butt!
Ultimately, cleaning the blood stains of the seats, headrests, doors and centre console (dogs can’t exactly cover their mouths when they sneeze, so despite my best efforts, the blood still went everywhere) took about an hour to an hour and a half – I wasn’t keeping track of exactly how long it took.
When I was done with the cleaning, I grabbed a box of bicarbonate of soda and sprinkled a thick coat over all the wet areas, to help absorb moisture and any smells, and left the car with the windows open to air it out. I’ll vacuum up the bicarb once the car’s dried a bit more, and hopefully it will all be good!
I haven’t tackled the carpet yet, but I did manage to keep that partially covered with paper towels and other things, so it isn’t quite as bad. Hopefully it won’t be a big job =s
So there you go – cold water, nappisan and a dabbing motion help to get blood stains out of car upholstery! I wish I’d learned that cold water trick before putting my bloodstained clothes into a bucket of hot water to soak… oh well, live and learn. Besides, a friend told me Kmart has $10 jeans at the moment, so if I have to get some new ones it’s not the end of the world.
And at the end of the day, I have two happy, healthy pups playing in the back yard, so isn’t that what really matters?
Ever had to tackle an odd stain? Got any nifty tricks for stain removal? What about doggy dramas? All of ours seem to happen with Ciara, I think because she’s so silly and carefree, whereas our other dog, Zayena, is a lot more calm and sensible.
- How to Remove Coffee Stains from Carpet (homeandrefuge.wordpress.com)
- Housekeeping Hints (khamillion.wordpress.com)
Yep, this little blog of mine has been in existence for six months today! Time, she does fly.
I had been toying with the idea of a blog for a long time before I started this, I even had the name picked out, but there was always a reason not to – I didn’t have enough stories written, I didn’t know if I could dedicate the time in an already reasonably busy life, etc etc.
Finally, I decided I would prepare a few more stories and then start my blog at the beginning of 2011. I was still a bit uncertain, but I started working towards it. Then, on Christmas eve in 2010 I was up late after preparing the house for guests the next day.
I had reached that point of being up past bedtime where I was too awake to sleep but too tired to actually do much, so I was slumped in a semi-comatose state in front of my computer on the Offbeat Bride forum.
Then I came across a non-wedding related post by a recently married member, asking people for the address to their blogs so she could keep in touch with other members outside of OBB.
For some reason, when I saw that post, something clicked and I realised that there really is no time like the present. If I had waited for January 1, 2011, would I have been any more prepared than I was at December 24, 2010? Considering we had Christmas family gatherings and other such things going on, probably not.
So I went to WordPress, signed up, and posted my very first blog. Ever since then, I have taken the strategic approach of flying by the seat of my pants. It’s like that with writing, sometimes my head is so full of story ideas that I just can’t keep up, other times I am completely sapped of all inspiration.
I try to strike a good balance between stories and blog posts, although sometimes after the longer ones (like my recent three-part monster story about socks, of all things) I tend to do a couple of blogs to let my poor tired brain recover.
I’ll also admit that sometimes I do have to really push myself to get stories finished on time, which can be hard for a creative-minded person.
I often worry that it will affect the quality of my work, and to be honest it probably does, but firstly it is good for me to get more experience with channelling my creativity to meet deadlines and secondly, the beauty of the internet is that I can always go back and edit! (in fact, my dad pointed out just the other day that in my first story, Rainbow meets the Grumble Fairy, I spelled grateful incorrectly. It’s one of those annoying mistakes I always make, but usually pick myself up on – clearly this time I missed it. Now that I’ve told you all that, I should go and fix it.)
If you ever do notice mistakes in my stories, don’t be afraid to tell me – either comment or email me directly on firstname.lastname@example.org. As a sub-editor by trade (yep, we make the same mistakes as anyone!) I know not to take corrections personally, and I really appreciate it when people take the time to give me feedback, whether it’s positive or constructive.
Moving forward, the next six months will most likely be more of the same – me busting my gut to try and bring you a new post every week (and sometimes failing – sorry about that chief!).
There are some other changes I’d like to make over time, things like a new website (ooh, shiny!), hard and digital copies of my stories (which will be properly edited – no greatful will make its way into print!), activities to accompany stories and other such fun things. I can’t wait!
Another exciting development that’s happening RIGHT NOW! (or a couple of weeks ago) is that we have passed 1000 views! In fact, right now I am sitting at more than 1100, which is almost 200 views per month, which is pretty super awesome considering how small this is at the moment. So, as well as squee-ing with excitement here, I also wanted to take the chance to say a very heartfelt thank you to all of my readers.
Writing children’s stories has been a passion of mine for a while, and it means so much to me to be able to share it with you all – and even have people come back for more!
So thank you, each and every one of you, for supporting me in this venture. To show my gratitude, here’s a link to one of my favourite songs that sums up how I feel right now: Thank You – The Whitlams (a warning to anyone sneakily reading this at work – it’s a YouTube clip, so you may not be able to watch it. It’s blocked at my work too, so I feel your pain.)
This week’s post is inspired by a wonderful woman who never fails to find new ways to inspire me. Julie is the mother of two of my best friends in the world, and she’s one of my best friends herself. They’ve been like family to me since I met them when I was about 11 at a rundown little campsite.
This year Julie committed to keeping a daily blog on gratitude. Finding something to be grateful for can be hard at the best of times, but for a woman whose entire family lives with chronic pain, it’s even harder – and yet, that only makes it more important.
It’s really easy to get caught up in the bad things in life, and sometimes that’s pretty understandable. When something really bad happens, sometimes all you want to do is crawl into bed and stay there for a week, a month, a year – however long it takes for the bad feelings to go away.
Unfortunately life doesn’t happen like that. You can hide all you like, but at the end of the day problems and feelings don’t just disappear. And while some feelings (grief, for example) may never completely go away, by only focusing on the negative we become oblivious to the good things in our lives.
At the risk of sounding preachy, even grief has a silver lining, for while we are sad, it means that person or pet made us truly happy while we were here. We are sad because they are gone, but those wonderful times will always be a part of who we are, the lessons they taught us will not disappear, and for that we can be grateful.
So, in honour of Julie, who has amazed me once again by continuing to find things to be grateful for even in a very dark time, I wanted to dedicate a post to a few things I am grateful for right at this point in time, and remind you and your little ones to take the time to acknowledge the things that are wonderful instead of getting caught up in the things that are not.
Long walks and cold showers
Today was a long-ish day, I worked a bit late in preparation for a surge of work that is bound to arrive tomorrow (my deadline to have it finished – also tomorrow!), so I arrived home just after my fiance, even though he’s supposed to finish an hour and a half after me.
Still, even though it was a bit later than normal and we had nothing prepared, we decided to take the dogs on a nice long walk – almost an hour! We got tired, they got tired, but it was a really nice evening for it, and spending time with our precious pets is something we don’t get to do enough.
By the time we got home I was pretty hot and sticky, and had to start dinner – it was already quite dark. But instead of dragging myself begrudgingly into the kitchen I decided to have a quick, cold shower first. It was just what I needed to brighten me up and put me in a good mood for cooking a delicious dinner!
Matt and I both love cooking, and especially experimenting in the kitchen, but we both work full time and sometimes it’s pretty hard to think up things that are creative, delicious and quick!
Tonight I had planned to cook a veggie curry, but realised we had forgotten to buy coconut milk. When we got home from our walk I started rummaging through the cupboards only to find a jar of Nandos Coconut Curry – perfect! All I had to do was chop the veggies, whack them in the pot with some lentils and cashews (protein!) and cook the rice – easy! And I have to say, for flavour in a jar, it was gooooood.
Ok, I already wrote about walking the dogs, but they are not the only pets we have! Matt and I are lucky enough to share our home with four beautiful animals – the two dogs (Zayena and Ciara), a kitten (Saphira) and a rabbit (Leonora). They all have their own individual personalities, and while they can all be annoying in their own special ways (stop jumping! stop chewing! put the ball down! OW, don’t use your claws!) they have added so much to our lives. Having responsibility for four such beautiful little individuals is just amazing.
I realise my other items have all been home and family related, however this is one that has been on my mind a lot lately. As a journalist who firmly believes in the role of the fourth estate (Wikipedia it here – yep, Wikipedia definitely has it’s place!) especially in times of turmoil, hearing about the situation in many countries in North Africa and the Middle East where people are being arrested and beaten simply for telling others what’s going on in the world is a good reminder of how good we have it in this country.
It is easy to take our freedoms in Australia for granted, and we are very lucky to have that luxury. That in 2011 there are still countries where people have no say in things like what they can wear, what they can do with their lives, what they can say and who they can say it to is a very scary thought. While it is easy to get caught up in our own problems, and understandably so, do spare a thought for all the people who are not so lucky as us to live in a country with all the freedoms that affords us.
To be as inspired by Julie as I have, visit her blog 365 Day Project, my way.
What are you grateful for?
Hi all, this is just a quick note to let you all know that the growth on Matt’s leg has turned out to be a burst blood vessel… or something. I kind of lost focus after the words “it’s not cancer”.
Whatever had happened, the wound was imitating the behaviour of a cancer due to dead capillaries or something stopping the wound from healing.
Matt’s feeling so much better since finding out, though he’s still hobbling around because the Doctor removed the entire growth to be on the safe side. He actually apologised for that when he told us, but honestly it is so much better to be safe when it comes to such things. Taking out a larger sample than necessary is much better than leaving it there to spread if it had been something nasty!
Thank you to everyone who sent us their best wishes, we really appreciate all the support we have been given.
This is the author’s blog I was planning to write for last week, but work and sickness got in the way. Ironically, part of it is about how sticking to a regular blogging schedule is good.
When I first had the idea to start a blog for my children’s stories I held off for a long time – I probably spent about 6 months actively thinking “hey, I really want to do this” before I bit the bullet.
Why the hesitation? Well, life does get in the way sometimes, and I was worried that I would start this thing and then give up or forget to write regularly. I didn’t think I could do it and I was afraid to fail.
Then on Christmas Eve I was up late, surfing the internet, bored out of my mind, when I thought “this is it”. And that was it! I posted my first story and mentally committed myself to posting a blog a week, with an aim of alternating between stories and author’s blogs.
Maybe I’ll still be doing this a year down the track, or maybe I’ll run out of ideas/motivation next week (but I don’t think so). But it doesn’t matter, because right now I am sharing something I love with whoever is happy to read it.
So what am I gaining from getting over myself and giving this blogging thing a red hot go?
Confidence, for one. I have confidence that I can keep this up – yes, I took a week off last week, but that’s ok because I’m back at it now. It’s the old “get back on that horse” analogy, and it’s true.
It’s also inspiring me to make time to keep writing. Whether people read it or not (though I really hope you do!), my stories are a big part of who I am. I have all these ideas, so committing myself to make time to sit down and write them is really good. While it’s frustrating sometimes to get to a Sunday evening and realise I haven’t made time to write yet, and have to sit down and push through it, I’m learning to get myself prepared ahead of time, and that too is a very good thing for me.
Another benefit is keeping my mind active and creative while working a day job that is very focused on left-brain thinking. Brainwork feeds the mind, but creativity feeds the soul, and to disregard one of those is to cut yourself short from your true potential or something. (sorry, not good at being inspirational as myself, I’ll let my stories do that!)
But lastly, it is a chance to tell stories – real stories, for all that they are fictional. While some stories are more serious or deeper than others, I hope that all of them can allow children and adults to take a little something away – whether it’s a moral message about treating others kindly or a deeper understanding of how other people live their lives, I think it’s so important to expose ourselves to things beyond our own experiences in order to keep learning.
There’s nothing more fulfilling to me than managing to capture a real person on the page, even if it’s someone I’ve never met, and tell their story in a way that people can relate to.
I have only been doing this a short time, but I hope that people can look at my blog and decide to push past those mental barriers holding them back from doing something important to them. Believe me, I am not always confident about my stories, or putting my work out for people to judge. It is hard, but it’s also very worthwhile.
I would love to hear from any other bloggers about their inspiration and motivation!