WELCOME TO MY BLOG!

Thanks for stopping by! Let me tell you a bit about myself and how this blog came to be.

I started journal writing as a form of cathartic release from all of the stresses of being a mother of two young children, working, and day-to-day living.

I found that many of my journal entries were funny snippets of my day spent with my two adventurous and cheeky cherubs. Oftentimes, I’ve found myself in rather amusing and outright unbelievable situations. Of course, there have been times upon self-reflection where the entries speak of the darker moments in my life, like my struggles with mental health issues and parenting.

Journal writing re-awakened my love for creative writing and storytelling. I found a desire to share my words with others. And so after much deliberation, this blog was born. My very own blog journal!

If you choose to join me on my journey, you’ll probably read short stories based on my personal experiences in life and as a parent. Most of the time, they’ll be funny and relatable, maybe even inspiring! Other times, you might read some words that are hard for me to write but find the courage to share.

I’ll aim for a weekly post. Maybe even two! Subscribe to my email list if you want to be informed of any new posts. I hope you enjoy reading my words as much as I love writing them.

x Kathy

GROCERY STORE ANXIETY

A racing pulse
Many stolen breaths
Heavy weight upon my chest

A dizzy spell
Shredded nerves alight
A mental state of unrest

My eyes they seek
An invisible threat
That causes panic from within

A simple task
Once taken for granted
Now sends me into a spin

Copyright © 2019, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought destruction to our economy, disarray to our lives and death to our doorsteps. The mental health impacts of this crisis will be profound and long-lasting. I know that my mental health has suffered from the isolation, the fear for my family and friends, and the disruption to our routines. It isn’t so surprising that I experienced a panic attack while doing a grocery run.

https://knj.home.blog/privacy-policy/

THE MAGIC WAND

Have you watched ‘Bluey’? It’s our favourite animated children’s Australian TV series.

The main characters are Bluey, a six-year-old Blue Heeler puppy and her sister Bingo, a four-year-old Red Heeler puppy. Together, they go on adventures through their imaginative role-playing. The parents, Chilli and Bandit, often engage the pups in their games, supporting and encouraging their curiosity at the world surrounding them.

The show focuses on the importance of play-based learning, constructive positive parenting and emotional validation. It realistically depicts the modern-day nuclear family, with both parents working, sharing the housework and child rearing. There is no gender typecasting or parenting role stereotyping. The father is emotionally intelligent and portrayed as a positive father figure.

There is a great deal of resembalance between Bandit and my husband – in character not appearance! He is Bandit minus the Australian twang and goofiness. He has patience in spades, dives into role-playing with ease, and has the right balance of discipline and love. He’s funny, smart and a very hands on co-parent. He’s a great dad.

Bluey gives my children, Mandy (7 y.o.) and Henry (3 y.o.) lots of ideas to incorporate into their own imaginative role-plays. One episode in particular, called The Magic Xylophone, involving a xylophone that has the ability to freeze the dad, was inspiration for an ongoing game in our house.

Like the magic xylophone, the children have a special magic ‘wand’ that can freeze people. Saying the word ‘magic’ has the power to freeze and unfreeze. My husband takes his role-playing very seriously, never ever breaking from character… under any circumstances. It’s funny to a point. And then, it gets incredibly annoying. Especially, if the children refuse to unfreeze him and only they have the ability to wield this magic wand.

I could be talking to him about an important matter and the minute he is frozen, not even the seriousness of the conversation will make him respond. I could be needing a fresh towel and be stuck cold in the bathroom, and he would not break character to save me from catching pneumonia. Absolutely NOTHING will break him from character unless it’s the magic wand. It has gotten so annoying, that now I hide the wand and pretend it’s lost. Until the children find my hiding spot, wreak a bit of wand havoc and then it’s conveniently lost again.

Recently, I was on the phone with a medical receptionist, trying to organise the family’s influenza vaccinations. I had been quite anxious about getting an appointment and organising our injections to be performed in the medical clinic’s car park to avoid COVID-19 exposure. With the phone to my ear, I glanced over to my husband and asked if the available appointment worked with his schedule. To my horror, my three-year-old had located the wand. With a wave of his hand, an excited squeal, Henry uttered the five-letter word that I’ve come to despise. MAGIC! In a jiffy, my husband was frozen.

“Henry, unmagic your dad.”

Giggles. Giggles. More giggles. Two unrelenting kids. A frozen dad. No answer to my VERY important question.

“HENRY! Unmagic your dad.”

“Gary! Can you make the appointment or not? GARY!!”

All the while, the medical receptionist was huffing and puffing in my ear. She was talking of stock shortages, lack of appointments and pressured me to make a decision. If you can, imagine me with steam coming from my ears and nose. I lost my cool.

For the first time, my husband broke character and responded. I got my answer and made the appointment but at what cost? I broke the magic. I diluted the power of the wand. I destroyed their game of make-believe. The kids were mighty upset with me.

This was a game that brought two fighting siblings together, nurtured creativity and imagination, helped them share and co-operate and supported their emotional and social development. The magic wand was a powerful tool of learning. I had to fix the problem that I had created. I thought to myself “What would Chilli do?”

The next day, as I was sweeping the floor, Henry walked past with his magic wand. He pointed the wand in my direction and said MAGIC! I froze and to my delight, Henry yelled out to his sister “Mandy! Mandy, come quick! I froze Mummy.” Something that has never happened before. We ended up playing Magic Wand until we couldn’t keep the laughter in anymore.

“The magic is back!” I heard my three-year-old whisper to his sister.

I finished sweeping with a huge smile on my face. Who knew I’d be happy to hear that word again?!

Copyright © 2019, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

https://knj.home.blog/privacy-policy/

GRACE UNDER PRESSURE

My dad calls me every day, usually during his meal breaks. He works as a welder in a big factory and for the most part, his work is solitary. There might be a few words here or there with a passing coworker, but everyone mostly keeps to their own work section. I guess he gets lonely. He has a phone list of people he calls while he has lunch – mum, me (not my brother as he never picks up), his brother, his other brother … and another four or five brothers to choose from.

The phone calls are the same every day. How are the kids? What are you doing? Have you heard the gossip about so and so? As much as my dad’s calls can be annoying, they are comforting in their regularity. These days we talk a lot about the pandemic, which is to be expected. He doesn’t understand my concern with food or toilet paper shortages. His response to having no toilet paper? Ah, just go wash your bottom, like the old days. And to food? I have a stockpile of coffee. And lots of liver pâté and two-minute noodles to spare. Uh, thanks Dad.

Yesterday, my mum lost her second part-time job. She’s now jobless and not eligible for government assistance as my dad makes just above the family threshold for support. So now, my brother and I are supplementing her with a small income to help support my elderly grandma overseas. With spare time on her hands, my mum is now also calling me daily. My phone calls with my mum are slightly different than with my dad. Like today, my mum spent fifty-eight minutes giving me advice on wearing masks in public, cooking meals that the kids will definitely like, what foods to buy in a pandemic and what other measures I should undertake. My mum thinks I should be filling old milk bottles with boiled water in case the water gets infected. A bit drastic methinks.

After my talk with the parents, I felt unnerved and conflicted. I had one parent unaffected by the pandemic and another prepping like it was a zombie apocalypse. Fuelled on heightened anxiety, I went to the supermarket to restock on fresh vegetables and meat. I didn’t wear the mask, feeling self-conscious, and rushed through the grocery list in an effort to reduce exposure in the community. Staff were sanitising baskets; customers were wearing masks; there were no children accompanying their parents. Everyone was complying with rules about social distancing. There were green lines marking safe distancing for queuing. Fortunately, the shelves were looking less bare and there was toilet paper!

In my frazzled state, I didn’t check prices for anything. I just grabbed my listed items, chucked them into the basket and bolted to the cash register. It wasn’t until I got home and was reviewing the bill that I realised two heads of broccoli cost me ten buckaroos! We can’t afford luxury goods in this climate! Broccoli will have to go. I’m sure the children will agree.

We are heading into influenza season with winter and this COVID pandemic could last six months. If I can’t keep my wits about me during this time, I might be forced to take up my dad’s offer of pâté and noodles after all.

Copyright © 2019, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

https://knj.home.blog/privacy-policy/

COPING WITH COVID

The photo is of the toilet paper aisle at our local supermarket taken on March 3, 2020.

Late January, my entire family went to an all-you-can-eat hot pot restaurant to celebrate Lunar New Year. At the time, the outbreak of Coronavirus had begun to take hold in Wuhan, and Chinese authorities had just closed off its borders. The problem was largely affecting China, so we weren’t concerned about eating out and being in public spaces. The World Health Organisation had yet to declare Coronavirus a global health emergency.

And so, we celebrated with food and drink in the crowded restaurant. Several people sneezed on my sister-in-law as they walked past her to get to the food trays. We joked that she might catch the virus as a result. A few days later, we discovered that an infected man had dined in the same restaurant. Fortunately, for us, the man visited the establishment the next day, so we avoided being exposed to infected staff and surfaces. It was a near miss!

This close experience made me hyperaware and set me on a path. There had only been a handful of confirmed cases in Australia, but I had slowly begun building my pantry supplies, cooking and freezing meat meals, and preparing for the worst. My anxiety was heightened from the close call, and I became a prepper. I had been ready before the pandemic was even announced.

Fast forward two months and what has happened? People are panic buying everything. By the start of March, toilet paper, tissues and hand sanitisers were out of stock. Then canned foods, long-life milk, pasta and rice became hot items. Last week, meat, eggs and potatoes began to run out. Now, it seems people are stockpiling asthma relievers, children’s paracetamol and prescription medicines. These days, it’s not uncommon to see bare shelves in supermarkets, big crowds queueing at opening times, or agitated people yelling at staff.

Our family no longer participates in extra-circular activities like sports, swimming or gym (everything is closed or suspended). We don’t go out to restaurants or cafes. We don’t browse in shopping centres. We don’t go to parks or play centres. We don’t visit friends or extended family. We simply don’t go out, except for short walks for exercise and fresh air.

My husband is working from home. My three-year-old son has been pulled from childcare. I’m no longer volunteering as a classroom helper as the neighbourhood centre has closed to protect the community and staff. The only person exposed to public spaces is my seven-year-old daughter who still attends school as per the government.

The disruption to everyone’s routine is immense. Ever try keeping a three-year-old from barging into the study while his dad is on a video conference? Damn near impossible.

From a mental health perspective, these challenging times have, unsurprisingly, made me more anxious. The constant focus on Coronavirus in the news and social media have heightened my anxiety. I find myself reaching for the phone all the time, scrolling for any news on the pandemic. It is always at the forefront of my mind. There are nights where I can’t sleep, worrying about when schools will be closed. I think about worst-case scenarios – job loss, mortgage stress, maxing credit cards, children getting ill, hospitalisations, death. The list is endless.

Recently, my husband put his foot down and demanded I stop reading news on my phone. He insisted that it did nothing good for my mental health. I was exposing myself to massive amounts of negative information, mostly conjecture, that was making my anxiety spiral out of control. I was wasting all my energy and time on something I had no control over, and not keeping things in perspective. I was making myself miserable by trying to do the impossible – forecasting the future and preparing for unknown variables.

My husband encouraged me to redirect my focus on my health and well-being. That meant eating healthy, drinking more water that didn’t have caffeine, putting down the phone, going to bed early, going out for walks to get fresh air and trying to spend more time with the kids. All sensible and logical advice that I was not doing. We can try to put ourselves in the best health position to battle the virus, should we become infected.

So I’ve started walking instead of driving for school runs and hating every minute of it. I’ve reduced phone time and go to bed early. I started having breakfast that wasn’t just coffee. And whaddya know, I have begun to feel better. The sense of impending doom has lessened, and I’ve stopped feeling so panicky. The sight of bare shelves and people scrambling for toilet paper doesn’t make me want to rush in too for fear of missing out. I put back that pack of toilet paper that I didn’t need so that someone else has the opportunity to get one. I’m stepping away from the herd mentality. I feel like I have my anxiety under control.

Am I still scared about the future? Hell yes, but what can I do? The number of infected people will surely continue to rise. There will be overwhelming strain on our health system. People will die. I can only try to keep calm and live one day at a time. I’ll aim to keep in touch and blog our experience through this pandemic.

Keep safe and well everyone.

Copyright © 2019, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

https://knj.home.blog/privacy-policy/

THAT’S IT FROM ME FOLKS

Hello everyone, today marks one year since the inception of this blog. It’s been a journey of self-reflection, discipline and creativity. I’ve met loads of inspiring, supportive and talented writers. And I’m richer in spirit and mind from being a part of this blogging world.

This post is to let you know that I’m taking some time away from blogging. I’m struggling with lack of sleep (3yo poor sleeper), which is wreaking havoc on my mental and physical health.

I would rather write nothing than submit posts that are half-arsed and uninspiring. And because I am suffering from major writer’s block and lack of sleep, it’s better for me to take a break.

I don’t know when I’ll be back but I’ll still be lurking about, reading other people’s posts on the odd occasion.

See you all on the flip side 🤗

LEASHING THE BLACK DOG

Note: Life is hectic. I barely have time to scrape together a decent post for my blog, so it’s rare for me to enter writing competitions. However, upon seeing this month’s writing prompts for Furious Fiction, a story immediately came to mind and I wanted to write it. I share this story with you.


Thunder rumbles. Grey clouds blocks out the sun’s golden rays, darkening the sky and bringing forth a coldness that seeps to the bone. The wind picks up, blowing through tree branches, howling its warning. My eyes scan upwards, noting the turn of the tide. The hair on my neck stands up, prickles in fear. A cold sweat dampens my brow and my stomach churns with apprehension. It’s here. I can sense its foreboding presence.

Scanning the horizon, my eyes land on the ferocious beast as it stalks forward, taking calculated steps, eyes pinned on its prey. As it closes the gap, I can see his snarl, revealing razor-sharp teeth. The Black Dog emits a low and menacing growl. I know he wants to lunge and sink his teeth into me, to subdue and control me.

My heart races, my palms sweat, fear threatens to flood my mind. “Stop!” I force myself to take deep breaths. I won’t let my anxiety overcome and send me into a foetal position. I have trained for the next attack. Standing still in front of the door, I guard my post. A lone sentinel. The only protector to my precious soul, tucked safely behind that door.

Did I miss the warning signs? Did I become complacent? What triggered his advance? I rack my brain for the answers, but it matters little as the beast breaches all of my defences. One by one, the Black Dog smashes through, its leathery skin immune to the surrounding destruction.

I have a choice. To run and be resigned as its victim once more or grab the leash and regain control of this wayward Black Dog. As my eyes narrow on the reason I am constantly on guard, I decide this Dog’s reign of terror has run its course. I am stronger. I am healthier. I am wiser.

Keeping a tight grip on the leash, I approach the beast with a plan in mind. With each step forward, I feel myself growing braver as the Black Dog starts to cower. I stand tall, face him with unwavering eyes, and with the full force of my strength, I snap the leash on his collar. He struggles against my hold and I strain to contain the weight of his pull. Eventually, the beast releases a weak growl before he collapses on the ground, defeated. I lead him to the cage. I am exhausted but happy.

I lean against my door, thankful to have been successful in my guarding. Glossy tears fall freely down my cheeks. I bask in the immense relief. Albeit temporary.

Copyright © 2019, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

https://knj.home.blog/privacy-policy/

EXCUSES EXCUSES

I should be losing weight. I should have started my slimming down diet. I should be doing some form of exercise.

Why? No, it’s not to get healthy and fit. No, it’s not for any medical necessity. No, it’s not to be a good role model for my children. It’s simply so that when I rock up to my brother’s wedding next March, I won’t be the butt of my extended family’s ridicule. Sad, isn’t it? I can almost hear you shout… You’re doing it for all the wrong reasons! This would be true if I actually managed to begin the arduous weight loss journey in the first place!

You see, I have a litany of excuses that I am using to bide the time. I’m too tired. I don’t have time. I don’t have runners. I don’t have money to join a gym. I don’t have exercise clothing (That’s a lie… there are some tucked away from 2017’s pilate’s efforts.) I don’t like sweating, my face itches (Seriously, it does!). I have a whole year until I really need to get my act together. And so it goes on and on.

The real reason is I have no discipline. And because I have no discipline, adding lack of drive and laziness into the mix, means I probably won’t be losing any real weight. Have I mentioned that the minute I think about exercising, subconsciously my feet propel towards the pantry and my hand shoves bags of chips and chocolate into my unwilling mouth? It’s a problem. Thinking of a diet causes me to gain weight.

It doesn’t help that my husband tells me every second day that I should start doing the seven-minute workout in the mornings with the children. He thinks it’ll give me energy, and I’ll start to feel better about myself. Sigh. I know what he says makes sense. Somewhere deep in my rational mind, I know this to be true.

I’m just sick of the yo-yo dieting and the lacklustre exercising, and the eventual weight gain. I’m at my heaviest to date and I have gone up three dress sizes since having the babies.

What do you do when you need motivation but have none? What do you do when you should be disciplined but aren’t?

You put one foot in front of the other. You take one step at a time. You start low and go slow.

I guess I’ll start with that seven-minute workout.

Copyright © 2019, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

https://knj.home.blog/privacy-policy/