hippy stuff


by Lori Dwyer on July 19, 2013 · 12 comments

My daughter loves birds. She always has done, since she was tiny.

Her aunt bought her a budgerigar a few months ago; a pretty, sweet, pale blue bird that had been hand-fed but not hand-raised. While comfortable enough with people, you can’t touch it.

The bird’s name is Star. Star is most definitely a male bird. But my Bump steadfastly refuses to accept this. “No, mummy. Star is a girl birdie!!!” So Star has been given official pronoun status.

As much as my daughter adores her bird– she sings and chats to him, enquires about his day and if he’s “okay”, hugs his cage to say goodnight– there’s something about keeping a bird in a cage that feels shameful and sad.





My dad kept birds when I was a teenager– I remember feeding tiny ugly baby birds with a spoon, their spiky quill feathers just sprouting and their beaks huge compared to their scrawny bodies. But that felt different. Those birds were either outside, together, in conjoined cages, or hand raised and kept inside as companions; almost flightless but free to roam by foot, or on a human shoulder– for hours each day.

They say Leonardo DaVinci made a habit of buying caged birds and releasing them back into the wild.

I don’t think breaking my daughter’s heart like that is an option here. And Star seems happy enough. He chatters away to himself, plays in his cage. He sings and squeaks. He’s taken to imitating the sound on rubber-soled shoes walking on our vinyl floor.

But occasionally, during the day when I move his cage to sit it in the sun streaming through the lounge room windows, Star will hear the calls of native birds in the gum trees outside. And he’ll respond, loudly and furtively.

The sound gives me a funny pang of hurting somewhere deep in my guts. It makes me ask questions about myself.



Little Kids and Material Possessions.

by Lori Dwyer on July 17, 2013 · 23 comments

We seem to have so much… stuff.

It’s been almost two years since we first moved into the TinyTrainHouse. Which means, really, it’s been two years since we had a big clean-stuff-out session. And in that time, our material possessions have multiplied; as though someone added water or fed them after midnight or did something equally irresponsible.

Practical, beautiful, functional, necessary. I’m out of practice at culling things. But we have a long way to move, and the less we take with us, the better.

The main problem is that it’s no longer just my stuff. My children are now old enough that their possessions seem to truly belong to them now. The grown far more attached to material things than they were two years ago- I think that’s just a sad consequence of growing up.

Making the decision of what comes with us and what gets left behind- recycled, re-use, redistributed, or just plain thrown out- no longer feels as though it’s entirely up to me.

It would be good, indeed, to break my children’s (hearts) belligerent hold on possessions, on owning things. To teach them that all this stuff is just that… stuff. That it’s not worth being so attached to.

At the same time, I don’t want to force them to give up anything. I know my weakness- I think it’s every mother’s weakness, really, and compounded when you’ve watched your kids lose more than what any child should have to.

I don’t like to see pain in my children’s eyes. Even if that pain is connected to something that’s not worth anything much.

I’d never make them give up any possessions they truly adore. It’s just junk, really, that we’re cleaning out. But you have so little that you’re in control of, as a kid. Wanting to control what you do have is probably quite normal. And they’re about to be picked up and unceremoniously dumped out of their comfort zone anyway…

I don’t know. If anyone has any advice for getting little kids to part with ‘stuff’ that’s just stuff… please feel free to share.



A Good Place To Start.

by Lori Dwyer on July 10, 2013 · 17 comments

Seven months in, and spending time with The Most Amazing Man In The Universe is still awesome.

It happens as often as we can squeeze a visit in, which is surprisingly quite a lot for two people who live so far away from one another. We’re both seasoned interstate travelers by now, and know every shortcut, bathroom, and dodgy food kiosk in both Sydney and Melbourne airports.

I go to him, and soak up my time in Melbourne, scarcely able to believe I’ll be living there soon.

More often- flying North on the weekend being much cheaper in flights than a trip South- he flies up to see me, and spends the weekend with my kids and I. A lot of the time we don’t even do that much. We just hang out.

But I think both of us are hyper-aware of the fact that, in another few months, the time we get to spend together as just the two of us, doing whatever we like, will be severely limited by the presence of two little people and very few babysitters.

So we make the most of what we’ve got. We spend whole weekends wrapped up blissfully in each other, the outside world fading away to an unobtrusive hum, any problems firmly placed on the backburner of life’s cooktop until we absolutely have to deal with them again.

No doubt, it’s going to suck a lot when the realisation hits that we have to do Real Life together, too, not just the fun parts. And that the fun parts might no longer be as secular and bubbled in happiness as they are right now.

But we melt into one another like butter. We revel in loving, in being in love. It’s nice to feel like a good person, and to see that feeling reflected in the person you’re with.

The Most Amazing Man in the Universe is good for me, and the effects of that are evident. I smoke less, drink more water. I eat healthier than I ever have in my life- while I can’t see myself emulating his vegetarianism anytime soon, he encourages me to take care of myself. And takes care of me, for me, when I refuse.

I’m not naive enough to think it will always be this blissful. But we’ve both come from places that allow us to see this awesomeness for what it is. Neither of us take the other one for granted.

And that, if nothing else… that’s a very good place to start.