Posts Tagged ‘friendship’


May 18, 2012

Babess was involved in a little contretemps at daycare this week.  We heard about it from her teacher first.  There may have been some provocation, but it sounds like Babess was more sinned against than sinner.

This afternoon she was telling us her version of events.

“There’s a boy called X, he’s my friend, and he was pushing, and shouting, and hitting…” emphasis added with very grown-up-looking hand gestures and a wry expression.

“Oh dear,” I said mildly, not wanting to add to the sense of drama but suppressing a smile at the theatrics.

Yes,” she huffed.  “He’s not a very good friend.”

© UpsideBackwards 2012.


April 12, 2012

Susan Niebur, 1973 - 2012 (photo credit: Kristen, @mommy4cocktails)

Every time I look at the stars, I think of Susan.  We used to talk about the different constellations we could see in our different parts of the world.  She longed to see the Southern Cross one day.  When I look up and see it, I like to imagine her standing next me, looking up too.

Every time I read about advances in cancer research, I think of Susan.  How she tirelessly advocated for new, better, different research, especially into metastatic cancers.  How she participated in clinical trials, and encouraged women to join the Army of Women for further research.

Every time we read a “The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That!” book, I think of Susan.  Her love of science, and her skill for communicating that, especially to children, and how she inspired so many mothers to encourage their children’s questions and help them find the answers.  She gave my kids a Cat in The Hat book, and it’s one of our family favourites.

Every time I hear of a new planet being discovered, I think of Susan.  For all my own interest in science and astronomy, I hadn’t really thought about what a planetary scientist might be or do until she taught me.  And now I can’t think of a more fascinating job.

Every time I taste Whittaker’s Dark Caramel, I remember the first day we met, when I gave her a block as a gift.  She offered to share it, but I told her to taste it first – after all, I can have it any time at home, but it’s not readily available in the US.  She did, and the most incredible look came over her face.  “You’re right,” she declared, “this is not for sharing!” and she tucked it into her handbag.  We both laughed.  I sent her a couple of “care parcels” later, and I know she did share them.

Every time I see a beagle, I think of Susan.  She loved beagles, and fostered rescued beagles.  If I ever get a dog (which admittedly is unlikely), I think I’d like to call it Kepler, after her beloved pet.

Every time I write a blog post, I think of Susan.  She was my very first, and closest, blog-friend.  She wrote a guest post for Kelley which sums up the sort of relationship brilliantly.  She also introduced me to lots of my other blog-friends, including Kelley, Stimey, Jenny, Marty and plenty more.

Goodbye, dear friend.  Thank you for all you taught me, and the friendships you have gifted me with.  You are always in my heart and mind, and I will never forget you.

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

Relay for Life 2012

April 1, 2012


Last night, Pearl and I slept rough in a local park.  Although, to be truthful, there was very little sleeping.  There was quite a lot of walking, and some running.  Pearl was very excited to be up and on the Relay track at midnight, walking with her cousin and young friends.  We each did our assigned three 30-minute shifts, and walked alongside our team-mates at various other times as well.  There’s something very special about walking the track with friends in the small hours of the morning, looking up at the stars, chatting, listening to the music.

Pearl & her cousin run a lap in the Relay For Life 2012

We decorated candle bags in memory of family and friends, and stood sombrely with all the other relayers during the touching memorial service.

Candle Bags

There were 13 hearts on my bag this year, 13 precious people to remember. That's two more than last year, and thirteen too many to have lost.

Our team had set a fundraising goal of $200 per team member.  Thanks to family, friends, Pearl’s badge sales, and my sweet-toothed colleagues who ate as much white-chocolate fudge as I could provide them with at $2 per bag, the two of us raised over $570 – thank you, everyone!  That money will help the NZ Cancer Society to:

  •  provide people affected with cancer with important support and resources
  •  fund the volunteer driving service (free service to those undergoing cancer treatment – they are picked up by volunteer drivers, taken to their appointments and the volunteers wait for them and take them home again)
  • operate the free phone line 0800CANCER – any cancer any question
  • offer counselling and support to people with cancer and their caregivers
  • help make schools SunSmart and work towards a smokefree NZ
  • support people with their accommodation when they have to travel for treatment
  • fund vital cancer research into the causes and treatments of cancer

(Info above provided by the NZ Cancer Society).

You can still donate here.  If you know our names in real life, sponsor us! If not, sponsor anyone, make their day!

Of course, Relay is not all sombre.  Far from it!  There were laughs and hijinks, entertainment and giveaways, impromptu performances and some truly execrable karaoke about 1am.  There were free massages provided, and a very welcome hot breakfast served by volunteers.

We came home exhausted, footsore, chilled, and feeling a bit grimy… and well aware that anyone undergoing cancer treatment feels a whole lot worse, for a whole lot longer.  But we’re also proud of ourselves and our team, and grateful for the support of friends, family – and blog readers! – for such a great cause.

Susan remembered on the big screen at Relay For Life 2012.

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

Farewell, friend

February 7, 2012

Today was Fainjin’s first day at school.  It was a good one, but I can’t blog about it tonight.  I am too sad.  Susan Niebur, Whymommy, died today (6 Feb in the US).  She was a wonderful person, and a great friend.

I will write more another time.

My deepest sympathy goes out to Curt, Widget, Little Bear (the same age as Fainjin), and to all Susan’s many many friends in “real life” and online.  We have lost a treasure today.

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

For Whymommy

January 24, 2012

Susan’s blog ToddlerPlanet was one of the very first I discovered, and quickly became my favourite.  What a great name for a blog, and I loved her pseudonym “Whymommy” too.

She’s a scientist, and a mum like me – her younger boy and my Fainjin were born just a few days apart.  She seemed like a kindred spirit, although I only knew her through her blog posts.  She was sick, but fighting hard, and she got better for a while and I celebrated for her and her family.

When I started my own blog, I wasn’t sure of the etiquette about linking up, and I write her an email to ask her permission.  She was very sweet to me, so welcoming, and even sent a tweet to her followers asking them to welcome me too.

But she’s like that.  Sweet, and generous, and open.

Our friendship grew, through comments on each other’s blogs, and emails and twitter, and finally last year we got to meet.

I had suspected that, given the chance, we would be firm friends, the sort who could chat a morning away over a cup of tea, talking about everything and nothing, enjoying each other’s company unreservedly.

And I was right.  We clicked.  There were no awkward moments, it was like we had known each other forever.  When it was time to go, we realised we would miss each other – and we’d only “known” each other for a couple of hours.  Except that we knew each other pretty well online for quite a while before that.

Susan is a writer, a mentor, an advocate.  She is a wonderful mother, perhaps the most present parent I have ever known.  She is funny and caring and kind.  She has taught me an awful lot, in ways she doesn’t know even know about – and more than likely in ways that I haven’t recognised myself yet.  If I had to choose one word to describe her, it would be grace.  She lives a life enveloped in that beautiful quality.

Susan is in hospice care now, at home.  She is surrounded by the love of her family and friends, and the hundreds or thousands of people whose lives she has touched through her writing.

If you’d like to add a message of love, please leave her a comment here.

Susan, dear friend, thank you.  For all of it.  The science, the kinship, the laughter, and even the tears.  This is not goodbye, I know you’re not ready for goodbyes yet.  I certainly am not!  But it is another beginning, another chapter.  May hospice bring you relief and comfort, and more good times with your lovely husband and children.

Much love,


© UpsideBackwards 2012.

Going Back

January 17, 2012

Fainjin finished at daycare just before Christmas.  He could have stayed on until he starts school in February, but we decided he should have a summer holiday like other school kids, so he has been hanging out with Pearl and playing with his Lego a lot.

Today, though, we needed to see the specialist about The Dad’s elbow, and it was going to be a long boring day full of long bus trips and waiting rooms.  We fixed Pearl up with a play date, and enrolled Fainjin back at daycare for a “casual day”.

He wasn’t all that keen.  “I’m finished at daycare!” he pouted.  Fair enough, too.  I tried to sell him on the idea of it being a special visit day, but he was still dubious.

Until we were nearly there, and he saw one of his friends also approaching daycare this morning.  They ran to each other, jumping and laughing with joy to see each other again.  Once we got inside, he settled right in.  The other kids made a bit of a fuss over him, glad to see him back, and he enjoyed their attention and being “the big kid”.

He had a much better day there than he would have if he’d come with us.

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

How did they know?!

January 7, 2012

Yesterday morning, Fainjin appeared in shorts and a singlet.  The singlet has a certain Disney character on it.  He said stubbornly, “I’m only wearing a t-shirt if it has [the same character] on it”.

“We don’t have a t-shirt with that character on it,” I told him.  He has plenty of t-shirts, I recently sorted out the kids’ clothes and was startled at the amount of choice our children have in the mornings!  He stared at me mulishly, then said he’d only wear his singlet.  No problem, that’s what summer is for.

Later in the day, The Dad took him to town to check our mailbox.  Fainjin still refused to put on a t-shirt, so he went out in his singlet.  They came back about an hour or so later, bearing a large box.  Friends overseas had sent Christmas gifts!

The children excitedly ripped into their parcels, and joyfully discovered a Disney t-shirt each.  Fainjin’s eyes went round and wide.  His t-shirt had that character on it!  “How did they know?!” he asked.  He put it on at once, before I’d even had a chance to cut the tags off.

The girls put theirs on too, and were thrilled with them, but Fainjin was convinced there was some mysterious magical knowledge at work.

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2011

I hope Santa visited but you didn’t peek, you remembered to leave out a snack, the Christmas Crocodile didn’t steal it, and you’ve celebrated with family and friends no matter how far or near they might be.

Merry Christmas!

Hyvää Joulua!

Joyeux Noël!

Frohe Weinachten!

Gleðileg jól!

¡Feliz Navidad!

Gaudete! Dies natalis est.

God jul!

Nollaig Shona Duit!

© UpsideBackwards 2011.

Happy anticipation

November 9, 2011

When The Dad arrived at daycare at the end of the day, Fainjin and his friend were bursting with excitement.  They were going to have a playdate, they said, and Fainjin was going to his friend’s house for a sleepover!

“We’ll have to talk to your Mums about that,” The Dad said to them, stalling for time.

Oh no, the Mums had already talked to each other and it was all set up, he was assured.  They were convincing enough that The Dad called me on my cellphone to check the story.  I have never talked to this friend’s Mum, I didn’t even know her name!  We must come and go from daycare at different times.  So The Dad had to break it to the boys that Fainjin was coming home that evening.  He was disappointed, but still confident that “another day” this might happen.

Apparently the friend was heartbroken, having genuinely believed that Fainjin was going to his house that very evening.  We are working on a playdate for this weekend – although a sleepover is unlikely at this stage!

Meanwhile, Fainjin has been telling me of all the marvellous things he expects to find at his friend’s house.

“Do you know, he has pet crocodiles!”


“Yes! And it’s very dangerous to go in their cage. So he will go in their cage and bring them out so we can play with them!”

Hmmm. Perhaps this had better be a supervised playdate…  On the other hand, I wonder what sort of pets Fainjin has claimed to have here?

© UpsideBackwards 2011.

Friendship, grace, and love

August 9, 2011

My very dear friend Susan, @WhyMommy, at ToddlerPlanet, is having a very hard time right now.  She is in a lot of pain.

Go Princess Army!! Team WhyMommy!

We had a great time together in the short time we had in Maryland, and she introduced me to some other lovely new friends as well.  I know many of you read her blog as well, and/or follow her on twitter, or perhaps even just feel like you know her because I have talked or written about her often.

She is a scientist – an astrophysicist, a little younger and a lot smarter than me, and her younger son was born the same week as Fainjin.  She is warm, funny, welcoming, thoughtful, charming, a great Mum to her boys and a wonderful friend.  She is also one of the most grace-ful people it has ever been my great fortune to call friend.

Please, if you can spare a minute, go over to her blog and leave her a comment, or send her a tweet.  Something cheering, a word of kindness (but not pity! never that).  She’s not writing much at the moment, but I know she is reading her comments and twitter.

Friends like Susan are a great treasure.  Let’s tell her how much we appreciate her.

© UpsideBackwards 2011.

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