29 March 2014

18 : I love you now more than I have ever loved you - Something Borrowed from my husband

I love you now more than I have ever loved you...

Those are words that everyone wants to hear 'I love you now more than I have ever loved you' from their life partner.  These are words that I borrowed from my own husband who spoke them to me today...  It's such a lovely thing to hear and to know that it is true, I feel the exact same way about him.  Despite life's furious attempts to cause hardship, stress and the inevitable threat to drift us apart we have conquered it all.  Life is so good right now, never easy, far from it, but so very good.

We have learnt so much from each other, and together, during our journey as a couple.  Being rewarded after a lot of hard work is so worthwhile, for us this is a second marriage and a very happy one.  Despite the demands of eight children, careers and financial stress we have only become closer.

I love having a partner that truly understands me, as much as another human possibly can, and the support and friendship that this type of relationship brings.  I now have a life raft to cling to in the middle of the stormy seas of life, a life which has always involved fighting hard to keep my head above water; being able to calmly tread water with someone by my side makes the impossible seem possible.  I have learnt so much about the world these past few years; learnt that it's not up to me to make everyone else happy and that I am in charge of how I allow others opinions affect me.  All I can do is be happy with myself and remember that I am in control of my life, which I am, being happy with yourself allows you to be happy together as a couple.  The secret to life is happiness and we have achieved that and will continue to work hard to maintain it.  We are stable enough to be able to pursue our own individual pursuits without threatening the other, as well as working hard side by side to get through day to day life and all of its many chores.  

Being happy is so much easier than being miserable, I highly recommend it to everyone!

Now if this isn't love I don't know what is!

20 March 2014

18 : Fish Fry - Something New

Bolivian Ram Fry

Six weeks ago my Bolivian Ram pair successfully hatched their first batch of eggs and now are the proud parents of approximately 30 fry!  The Bolivian Ram are also called Butterfly Ram due to their bright colouring, when they pair up they generally pair for life and fiercely protect their young.  Both parents take it in turn to care for both the eggs and the fry when they hatch.  They dig out little hollows in the substrate and protect their eggs from all other predators in the aquarium, it is amazing to watch them move the entire batch if they consider it suddenly unsafe.

Although I have had Butterfly Ram successfully breed before I have never had the privilege of seeing them make it this far; to be free swimming and no longer in danger of being eaten by any other tank mates.  They are still a while away from being fully grown and being able to find their own homes, however, I do think that the number I will be finding homes for will be higher than I could have ever anticipated.

Survival in the fish world is extremely difficult for such tiny little creatures, basically everyone in the aquarium wants desperately to eat you; often even your own parents.  However, these dwarf cichlids are different as they actually care for their young, it really is lovely to see the parents swimming together with their large brood.  Now they are swimming all on their own and are welcome in the tank among all their previous enemies. 

Bolivian Rams are native to Brazil and Bolivia and are found in rivers which are tributaries of the Amazon River.  They prefer slow flowing or shallow waters and enjoy plants in their aquarium with some open swimming places.  The aquarium should be kept at higher temperatures up to 28 degrees Celsius. Once the pair have fertilised their eggs it takes about 48 hours for them to hatch into wigglers.  The wigglers then feed off their egg sacks for up to a week and are highly vulnerable to attack, the parents often move them several times during this stage.  It is really interesting to watch them do this, they scoop the babies up in their mouth and place them carefully in the next shallow hollow they have dug out.  By the time the fry are free swimming they are ready to eat small morsels of food for themselves and swim extremely close to their parents. Once they begin to become adventurous and try and explore alone one of the parents will dash after them and retrieve the tiny fish in their mouth, spitting it back into the group until they learn to stick with their siblings. 

I had not expected these babies to have survived this long, it has been amazing to watch.  I had wondered if the parents would tire of relentlessly caring for them and protecting them day and night and either abandon them or turn against them.  However, it has been really nice to see their dedication pay off, my children have really enjoyed seeing the baby fish 'still there' and even growing into proper little fish.  Here are a few photo's of their development, although photographs don't really do them justice as they are so see-through this young.

12 March 2014

Kidspot VOICES OF 2014 Nomination

Thank you for my Nomination

I am very excited to announce that my blog has been officially nominated for Kidspot VOICES OF 2014! Thank you very much to everyone that took the time to nominate me, I am truly humbled.  This is the fourth year running for this blogging award, I am looking forward to hearing who will become a finalist and be a part of the next influential group of Australian bloggers for 2014. 

I am just really excited to be nominated and would be thrilled if I was actually selected as one of the finalists in the Personal and Parenting category. Thanks once again for the nomination and the continued support from all who enjoy my blog.  Have a fantastic day!

11 March 2014

18 : Newborn - Something Old

There are no such things as newborns...

I came to realise long ago that there are actually no such things as newborns.  I have always loved the idea of newborn babies, so much so that you begin to idealise a conceptual fantasy of what they really are.  You find yourself pregnant and longing for the day when you get to meet your brand new baby. However, you fantasize that you will actually get to look like the picture above at all times; just you and your baby sharing loving cuddles. Although this is actually a real photo of me and my ten week old son, I can well assure you that the reality behind the scene was of an upset crying little baby who was cold, hungry and scared.  The photo was taken of me comforting him ready for the 'family' shot.  I do love this photo and I love the premise behind it, however, perfect portraits like this do not represent the reality of life with a baby.

So why do I no longer believe there are such things as newborns?  Because technically they are actually only a newborn the very moment they are born. At that very instant they are indeed brand new and it is an absolutely amazing moment in your life, meeting your child for the very first time.  A truly magical moment. Then it is over; they become one second old, one minute old, one hour old, no longer a newborn.  Before you know it that wonderful tiny precious newborn bundle you have waited so long to hold in your arms becomes a one month old baby and so on; they begin to smile and think independently, to demand your time all the time, not just when most convenient to you.  You put on that precious new outfit you have imagined them in to pose for a lovely photo keepsake, then you discover with horror exactly what other parents joked about when they told you to watch out for 'number threes'...  Oh the mess!

Nothing ever turns out the way it does in magazines and movies, where there is a lovely baby all fluffy and in white enjoying being passed among family and friends.  The reality is after the first sticky beak and well meaning visits from family and friends, they begin to diminish after an amazingly short time.  From this time on the baby insists on only being held by you and only you, and will only be settled if held in an ever so special position or you will suffer their almighty wrath!  This is often for at least 23 out of the 24 hours of each and every day in those early days.

Once you get over the harsh reality that you feel you must have been the only mother in the world not to be blessed with the fantasy newborn you imagined; you begin to realise instead that there is a actually a special little individual that blesses your life in ways that you could never have imagined.  Yes there are many, oh so many, hard times and so called 'phases' that you seem to have to somehow get through before the next one starts afresh.  But what you don't get told, you get to discover all on your very own, is that your so called 'newborn' is actually an individual from even before they were born.  You never actually owned them, they were never an accessory, they are and always have been an individual miracle that you have the utmost privilege to watch grow day by day. Your children don't belong to you they are simply born through you, watching them grow and supporting them on that journey is truly a privilege like no other. 

So no I don't believe in 'newborns' but I do believe in the miracle of life; I am a very blessed mother that enjoys this opportunity every day, all day with all six of my miracles.

04 March 2014

17 : Until Death Do Us Part - Something Blue ...

Changing Partners

 The new pair (hiding) ...
Blue Turquoise female and Marlboro Red male

 Red Turquoise male with Blue Turquoise female
(pairing up as juveniles)

 First pairing (mature)
Marlboro Red male and Snow Leopard female... guarding eggs together

 Blue Turquoise female (mature) tending to eggs

Red Turquoise male (mature) taking his turn guarding eggs

Relationships are fickle in the fish world, even more so in an enclosed tank where you only have so many choices...  Many discus will pair for life, which is what the Red and Blue Turquoise discus in my tank did. However, with the recent death of the Red Turquoise male the newly widowed female Blue Turquoise has found a new friendship. The Red Marlboro discus originally tried pairing with the Snow Leopard female and managed several batches of eggs, however, they decided to part as friends quite some time ago and have been part of the general school since.  Quietly watching from afar, as the Turquoise pair successfully had batch after batch of eggs, the Red Marlboro male waited.  

Unfortunately life got the better of me recently and I had not been as diligent as I should have been about tank maintenance.  The high nitrate levels that resulted sadly caused the death of the magnificent Red Turquoise male and resulted in the ending of the pairing.  I felt awful on many levels, however, it has been some relief to see the Marlboro Red male take over where the Red Turquoise left off; becoming firm friends with the grieving widow.  It will be an interesting relationship to watch, I wonder if they will both try again for eggs or if they will just swim together and be apart from the others.  Either way it has certainly gone a long way toward making me feel better about my lapse in maintenance.  The tank is back in excellent condition with pristine waters and stable levels, with a new pair forming a bond that may well last for their lifetimes.

The new pair separate and hiding at the left end of tank...

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