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Archive Category: Hastings House

    A much needed recap

      It has been such a hiatus in writing that I hardly know where to begin. The month of January 2010 passed by in a smear of fatigue and bustle. (As I am posting this in retrospect, let me say that if I had to relive the first trimester of this pregnancy again, I would elect to do it in a coma…which would be fairly similar to how I felt the entire time…) Small Z turned TWO! on 9 January – something I hope to write about in a very backdated post, my mother turned SIXTY! (Yes, they are parted by 58 years) And then we moved house.

      Ack. I have been quietly envying She-Who-Will-Not-Be-Blogged and her efforts to declutter her life in preparation for a house move that is undoubtedly looming in the near future. How thoughtful! How sensible. Meanwhile, M and I stayed in a state of utter denial as the days ticked by toward the date when we would have to scrape our sorry arses out of Warneet and get them, and all their associated accoutrements, on the road to Hastings.

      Let me backtrack for a moment (yes, this will probably be a long, rambling, expositional entry, feel free to skim). On 5 January I got a call from the agent of the only house I had applied for. I can’t remember if I’ve written about inspecting it prior to Christmas, but anyway – Small Z and I went to look at it, and there was another woman looking as well. Our direct competition. She was an older woman who worked as a nurse. She had lots of time to be chatty with the owner and the agent and talk herself up, while I chased after Small Z who was dancing around the Christmas tree singing ‘Jingle Bells’ and begging to swing on the clothesline.

      I assumed we had little chance. Chatty nurses without dependents seemed to trump us, even despite my wildly inflated yearly income and excellent references. WRONG! Nurse had dogs. We had kid. Kid trumped dogs. Yay us! It was when they called on the 5th that I burbled that we’d be HAPPY to move in on January 29th. Thrilled! While conveniently forgetting the 60th birthday monolith that was gradually subsuming everything and everyone around it.

      The other thing was, M had never seen the house. We picked up the keys on 29 January and went and had a poke through. Both M and I were underwhelmed, and seriously wondered if we had made the wrong decision. I forgot to mention before – one of the other things that happened on 5 January (besides a lovely day of boating in Cannons Creek)? Our current real estate agents had called and said, gobsmackingly, that the sale of the house had fallen through. They offered us another 12 month lease. After a sleepless night, I decided to knock them back. In my head, I’d already moved out.

      So anyway, the day after the big 60th birthday, M – with the help of DJ, moved all the heaviest stuff into our new house in Hastings. He spent the following WEEK moving everything else. I felt very impotent, but had little choice as someone had to look after Small Z. Now that we have been here for a little while, M and I are more than happy with our new surrounds. It has been about TWELVE years since I have moved into a clean house. And the difference it makes to morale is phenomenal.

      Our house in Queensland was almost a squat in desperate need of renovation, the trailer was, well, the trailer – a dirtier place could hardly be imagined unless…then you moved into the house with the view…and the disgusting walls/carpets/tiles falling off the shower. Anyway, our last house was really enjoyable for a year, and then it got old. This house is brilliant. The open plan means that I can see where Small Z is while I’m trying to do stuff, and, better than that, she can see ME.

      I can walk to things. Oh my god. It has been almost FIVE loooong years since we have lived somewhere that I can walk to STUFF. This didn’t matter so much when I was without spawn (oh, all those hours I just took for granted, stupid, stupid, stupid) but one long year with a baby who hated the car, as well as having no friends anywhere closer than an hour away was just… well, difficult. Now we can walk to the library, to playgroup, to the pool and most importantly, to INDIAN TAKEAWAY!! Obviously if we ever get our dream chunk of land, it will probably be isolated, but…it will be ours, and the spawn will not be quite so small…

      Bringing down the tone

        A telephone call from our new real estate agent a few days ago. How it should have gone:

        

“Hi Beth, this is Peter. I’m just calling to query you on the caravan in the front yard.”

        

“??!”

        

“Uh, the owner is a little concerned. It has an extension cord running out of it. We just need to know if there is anyone living in it? Also, it would be good if it could be eventually moved around the back, for cosmetic reasons.”

        

“Actually Peter, I’m glad you called. I was wanting to talk to you about a similar thing. But just to clear up your query, there is no one living in it. It is 14 feet long? M stays in it if Small Z is having a bad night. My mother stayed in it last week. But do I have a longterm sublet going on from which I am profiting wildly? Unfortunately I do not.

        

”What I wanted to bring to your attention was that I feel that the house itself is bringing down the tone of my caravan*. My 1962, egg-shaped, vintage, restored, fibreglass caravan. I was hoping that the owner might consider repainting the exterior of his very important investment property that was, until recently, his personal home LaMarque White (Dulux) with a blue metal flake finish around the window frames? This would work much better for me than the dark green house and the cracked aubergine and white front door.”

        
…Of course, what happened was that I spluttered incoherently, told him where the owner could stick his concern about the cosmetics of his property and forcefully informed him that no one was living in the caravan and it was no business of anyone but myself where on the property the caravan was located. Gah. 



        M and I immediately felt somewhat violated that someone (friends of the owner – who has relocated to Queensland) had been driving by, perving at our set up. It was this icky, spied on feeling. We felt instantly like we were in someone elses house, not our own. 

Of course, we have recovered our equaminity, but it wasn’t a great start to things.

        ————
        



*Suggested by L, who is good with acerbic responses.

        Somers

          This was our first foray to the closest swimming beach. Next time I’ll pack more snacks…
          It didn’t go too badly.
          Goddamn! Here I am posting something on the same day it happened! I feel that something has slightly shifted. Is this progress?

          Somers Beach, this morning...

          Sunny day, everything’s A-OK…

            A day that began with me going on a solo bike ride. Down the street. To get some milk and go to the chemist. Most of you won’t find this at all intriguing. But for me, being able to take off, on my own, and ride to SOMETHING that is not the park, the pier or the one shop, left me almost breathless with possibility. Or at least with a feeling of freedom – it felt like I hadn’t had that sort of feeling for a long while.

            This is how people must feel when they move from a small, slightly isolated locality? The thing about all the places M and I have lived over the past five years (- or is it SEVEN? Now I come to ponder it…) we have never lived anywhere we have intended to stay for long. In Hervey Bay, it was always…’when the house is finished’…and now it is… ‘and when the catamaran is finished’. There is always a longer goal.

            Of course, the longer goal is actually somewhere where we would really like to live for a good long while. Get a black faced sheep. Some chooks. You know, after we, um, win lotto or something. But anyway, for the meantime, Hastings is ringing my bells. The house moving has receded and my fatigue is improving. (Have I mentioned that that other January 2010 venture included nightweaning Small Z for the FINAL time? It was hard, but is now a total blessing.)

            Today was our best day so far. My morning bike ride was followed by some noodling around the house, some cleaning, M and Small Z in the garden putting up Oomoo’s sail, and then being visited by Mr and Master H for lunch. We then headed back to Somers beach, all in my car. Master H commented, while settling himself into the back next to Small Z and I;

            “This car is very 1980s!”

            So sage for an eight year old. I was delighted to inform him it was a 1981 model. Mr H’s head fitted fetchingly out of the sunroof. It was all good. Somers beach was a hit, the water was warm and our beach tent solid. M brought down the canoe/kayak thingy and took Small Z out on it (this is her most favourite thing to do since she has been two. Then we got to watch Mr and Master H cavort with the kayak thing in the waves, while rubbing life back into Small Z’s cold little body…

            We headed home to passionfruit gelati and cups of tea. If I could press repeat on the whole day, I would.

            From far away…

              Rescuing himself from the jaws of an impending flight on United Airlines with no personal video screen, a Sydney stopover, no laptop plug and the worst legroom of almost any airline, Small Brother wormed his way on to a Qantas flight that rectified all those complaints and had a spare seat next to him for stretching room. Haven’t seen him since late last June in NYC – though I have had a Skype-tour of his new apartment. As my amazon.com mule, he came bearing bees for Small Z, a few trinkets for M and Pikelet and a car bracket for my iPhone. We installed him in the caravan and he’s already been for a couple of swims…
              Flaked out on the slide

              Gathering

                Sunday I stuffed the slow cooker with kangaroo stew, made a cake and stewed some rhubarb. Late in the afternoon She-Who-Will-Not-Be-Blogged, She-Who-Will-Not-Be-Blogged’s partner and Small Brother came over. We drank tea, ate cake and blueberry muffins and then went for a long meandering walk to both show them around and tire out Small Z.

                The wind was chilly and Small Z was generally ebullient. We walked along past the marina, the pool, stopped for swinging at the park and then hit the main drag to pick up milk and soda water. Small Z played tigers-in-the-grass and Small Brother stumbled gracefully over an errant shot glass on the pavement. We must have been gone for almost two hours.

                A lovely night. The rain was occasionally tumultuous and we had to educate She-Who-Will-Not-Be-Blogged about a possible caravan window leak. Small Brother and I failed at trying to network our computers (Mac/PC). She-Who-Will-Not-Be-Blogged made crumble to top my rhubarb and Small Brother made custard to finish it off. It was a cookery metaphor for our gathering.

                Nattered until around 10pm when everyone began to fade, and in the morning we took turns having showers before heading off to reprise our breakfast of a few weeks ago at Merricks General Store. The rain hammered on and off. Small Brother paid for breakfast before anyone could stop him, for which we were all thankful but mildly frustrated.

                Head of the table

                A wander through Flinders, where we sheltered in the op-shop and kitted out Pikelet for the first three months of its life in a timely half price sale. We visited a gallery in between showers and saw some wild and wondrous teapots as part of the 6th Annual Melbourne Teapot Exhibition. They were lovely. A drive around bits of coast and to show She-Who-Will-Not-Be-Blogged and partner our favourite camping spot…and then it was time to begin driving back to keep an appointment with the parentals in Pearcedale…

                Mum had suggested a ‘family meal’ to get us all together in one spot, so we convened for lunch at a cafe near to the boat, so Small Brother could go and monitor its progress. It was good to kick back and not think too hard about when it might happen again. Next time, there will be an extra little tiny person present…

                The gathering

                I took Small Z home after lunch as she was fading due to nap-lack; M took Small Brother and mum to see the Very Large Catamaran. They were gone a long time, and I assumed they were just whiffling around and waiting for Small Z to wake up. I had put my phone on silent while I had tried unsuccessfully to get her down…and looked at it an hour later to find six missed calls from an unknown number.

                Mum’s car had broken down and Small Z and I drove to the rescue with our dazzling personalities and a length of blue rope. The blue rope was sufficient for Small Brother in my 300D to tow mum’s Datsun ZX with M at the wheel back to our house. This had prolonged the day a bit, but in the end mum and Small Brother headed back to her place in my car. I had to endure saying goodbye to Small Brother, which in my pregtastic state was even worse than normal. I continue to feel wrung out…

                Meanwhile, the RACV came and diagnosed the Datsun, and then towed it away last night. Small Brother is in town for another day or so, but not near here. New York has never felt more far away.

                Rainstorming…

                  Yesterday we got up and Small Z was skanky from the get-go. There was no way I was going to do what I had planned – which was attend my first ABA meeting. I met a woman in a cafe on Saturday, a meeting lubricated by the Labrador, who had met her before. She had a five-year-old and an eight-week-old (soooo tiny) and after a bit of a chat, we found we had similar experiences.

                  She had not had much luck with a mother’s group and said that she had found the local ABA meetings a good substitute. She suggested I come along and check it out. I thought it might serve me well for Pikelet – if only to have people to hang out with nearby who might also have tiny babies hanging off them in slings. So I had decided to attend, but will now have to leave that until next time…

                  Finally, finally I managed to convince Small Z to take a midday nap. Oh thank GOD for small mercies. Because I had forgotten that we had to journey to Cranbourne for her second swine flu shot (I can feel you wincing up in Northern NSW, btw). Mostly it is less about Small Z contracting swine flu and more about me getting it via her while pregnant or Pikelet contracting as a newborn.

                  As we left I was cursing for not parking in the shade (we are having an Indian Summer here) and I assumed the car would be baking – my least favourite thing. But it was not so. Looking up we could see a Big Fat Storm brewing in the sky and the breeze had cooled right down. We drove to Cranbourne, Small Z got jabbed and was a total tearless champ and then we went to the supermarket to get ingredients for playdough…

                  By the time we were driving home, the almost blackened sky had started to leak big drops of rainy goodness. With about 15km to go I could hardly see out of the windscreen because the rain was so heavy. There was also thunder…and amazing lightning. It felt almost sub-tropical. We were pounded with water…

                  When we got home, Small Z was thrilled by the rain and insisted on going out in it. I declined her invitation out into the backyard…here’s a video. I like how her little hand and then head stick out of the cubby;

                  And here are some photographs taken by Brooke Smith a few blocks away. They were in The Age today.
                  Hastings Pier

                  Hastings Boat Ramp

                  Love it late

                    A week in the trenches with Small Z enmeshed in the kind of cold that saw green conger eels of snot emerging from her hose nose every 20 minutes or so. Accompanied, of course, by the kind of interrupted sleep that comes with being not able to breathe properly. Couple this with a dead car and a looming inspection of our house by the real estate agent…

                    Yeah. That’s been the scheme of things. As of today, we have begun to blink in the light of a clean slate. M worked very hard researching our car and managing to take it apart and fix it for under $150 – it would have probably cost a grand and a half to take anywhere. The house is spotlessly clean and organised – M again, as I have been shackled by Small Z and my whalelike stature.

                    Today my mother turned up to look after Small Z while I worked. But did I work? No, I had had to reorganise her visit to the school/preschool she might be starting to go to due to her cold and it had to be this morning. As we didn’t get home until after midday, getting Small Z to sleep took a while, as did lunch…I got a total of just over two hours work done. On a day when I had files due for Monday. Poor M. I have had to call on him again to look after Small Z for a full day tomorrow so I can at least get my hours up. If I worked in an office this situation would not arise, and sometimes I whimper for the feeling of not having work hanging over me that I didn’t get to because of a Small Z tanty, or a house inspection, or my own lack of self discipline (notice that I put that last)…

                    And that segue-ways nicely into what my mum delivered today. A birthday present for me from She-Who-Will-Not-Be-Blogged. I SOOOO do not have a problem with ‘late’ presents. They are the best! A little oasis of acquirement when you think all celebrating has been finished off. I got a copy of a book I have been hanging out to get stuck into since I went along to see the author speak at the first Sleepers Crybaby Salon. Rachel Power’s The Divided Heart.

                    I’ve already read the introduction and the first chapter, which is by Rachel Power herself. (The rest of the book is made up of her interviews with other artists, writers and actors on the topic of motherhood and an artistic life.) It almost made me cry with recognition. Argh, it’s like she lived/lives in my head, but expressed it all far better than I ever could have.

                    On top of my book I also received a dark Terry’s Chocolate Orange, that I have hidden for emergencies, and some Madame Flavour tea, about which I have written before. But not only these – the most current issue of Frankie that contains fantastic vintage caravan photos. And have I mentioned that She-Who-Will-Not-Be-Blogged specialises in uber cool wrapping paper?

                    Part of my late birthday present haul

                    (With, but not part of, the birthday haul, were three bags of clothes for Pikelet. None of them sucked. Amazing for baby clothes! I would mention the name of the op-shop where she found such goodness…but then I’d have to kill you.)

                    Sedentary and Sick

                      M has been sick as a phlegmy dog for the past three days. Last night poor Small Z woke up at 3am and I almost burnt my hand off on her hot little head. So today there was no work for me, that will come tomorrow when hopefully M continues to get better. Instead we gently handballed Small Z to each other all day and basically did not leave the house.

                      Thank goodness we don’t have jobs that demand our presence or else. M showed Small Z something this morning and she looked at it in awe and said; “I can’t believe my eyes! As of tonight both of them seem to have improved considerably, so hopefully tomorrow things will be more normal. However, I can feel a tickle in my throat…do all my vitamins count for NOTHING!?

                      Plague of 2010. Snap, crackle and POP.

                        M has been sick for the past two weeks. Coughing like a hardened smoker, sore throat, the works. Small Z and I thought that we had missed out. We thought wrong. This is DISEASE! This is THE PLAGUE. Yesterday morning, after a bad night, I went and laid down next to Small Z and it felt as if my ear was filling up…

                        This is not good, I thought. This is not good at all. I sat up, but it was too late. My ear started to stab me with tiny pickaxes whenever I swallowed the wrong way. I was beyond soldiering on. I called the medical centre on redial until they opened at 8am (this is what you have to do to get an appointment) and booked in for 11.10am, barely believing I’d got one of the two doctors I’d asked for.

                        I was a zombie. The pain in my ear, coupled with the shovel-loads of snot in my head and my chest along with a cough that sounded like advanced emphysema, all gathered together to put me beyond speaking. Except for the yelping I would do when one of the swallows struck my ear. M (the best person to have on hand during a crisis) drove us all to the medical centre, where we had to wait for one of the longest hours of my existence because they were running over time.

                        I comforted myself that this was because the doctor is thorough and doesn’t kick you out when your 10 minutes is up. Small Z and M did so well. An hour is a looooong time in a crowded waiting room. Small Z would cough herself silly every now and again, and then bleat sadly, “Take my temperature? Medicine?” Finally we got in to the doctor. I cried at him. He, in turn, looked in my ear and then showed us all pictures of lookalike ears in a book – and then, for further comfort, scarier pictures of what ears look like when your eardrum bursts.

                        “It probably won’t burst,” he said, “But just in case it does, you’ll feel a bit of a gush and the muck will all come out. And if this happens, don’t get your ear wet for a month.”

                        “When you use the words ‘burst’ and ‘pop’ in the context of my eardrum, is that what I will hear? Will I hear a ‘pop’?”

                        I was so glad when he shook his head. Eardrum disintegration I could probably deal with, but building up to a big bang wasn’t in my increasingly limited repertoire. “Don’t worry,” he said kindly, “You’re not being a wimp or anything, this is a really painful thing.” I nodded mutely. Then he heard me cough. “I know you’re not smoking now with the pregnancy, but did you smoke before?” “No! This is the worst cough I’ve ever had!!” Then Small Z coughed almost in unison…

                        He examined her and said that if she hadn’t improved by Friday then to give her some antibiotics. He was impressed that she had never had any before. He carefully explained what I could take and I almost kissed his feet when he prescribed me some antibiotics that were in the same class of ‘this-won’t-harm-the-unborn’ as Panadol. Diagnosis? Bronchitis* and infected eardrum. Gah. We took the prescriptions straight to the adjoining chemist, where I gave them Small Z’s instead of mine and cried again when I realised I’d have to wait another ten minutes.

                        Finally it was sorted and M came over to where I was sitting with Small Z. He began gathering things together. I could take it no longer.
                        “M,” I said, in a tone that sketched a sledgehammer, “GIVE. ME. THE. DRUGS.”
                        He looked at me blankly, handed me the bag and then watched as I ripped open the box and threw back the first capsule. I was as desperate as a junkie.

                        The rest of the day I spent in bed trying not to move my head too much. The drugs didn’t really kick in until mid-morning today. It’s really hard to blow your nose without disturbing your ear. And the ear is weird. Crackles and pops and, if Small Z is being particularly loud, I get a little echoey kind of reverb. This has been the most hideous sickness that I can remember ever having. The ear pain took me back to 1992 when I had an infected wisdom tooth, but was worse than that. Oh god.

                        Obviously I am going to have to think of something lovely to bestow on M, as he has coped stoically with much sobbing in stereo from Small Z and I, as well as mountains of scary tissues and short tethers. And he’s going to have to stay home for the rest of the week as I haven’t been able to do any work yet and need to get two days worth in. If someone could send their private jet to take us all to Bali for the week, it would be wildly appreciated…

                        * – an umbrella term for a cough that sounds like a death rattle

                        This is how I currently speak…

                          An 80 Foot Whale

                            Nights like the last one have thankfully become few and far between, but coming on top of general whale-induced insomnia, it was particularly hard to take the screams for “PEACH AND WEET BICK” with much sympathy. And then there’s the first incidences of, um, shall we say, ‘elasticity with the truth’?

                            I suppose this comes with evolving as a human, but not until last night had I ever had Small Z tell me things that weren’t true. I mean saying, after she had used the potty with no issue, that she had to wee three more times… GROAN. And it’s not like my own bladder isn’t under strain. I find that getting vertical leads it to feel like it needs emptying, so she didn’t help… Needless to say I have now learnt my lesson and am happy to risk a wet bed.

                            Small Z has had it spelt out to her that there is no food in the night (unless there are extenuating circumstances). Usually she’ll do the yell for peach at about 2am and go back to sleep. Not last night. In the end we compromised on a bottle of cow’s milk. Which I went and got. Only to come back, have her sit up on my barely-there lap, and say, “I don’t want it.” At which point I nearly inserted it in her most handy orifice. Sigh.

                            All in all I was up out of bed about TEN times and was at the end of my rope. I got about four hours broken sleep. M came in at one point and I thought he was going to try and console Small Z (never a good idea) but instead he consoled me – and at that point I would have built the boat for him, I was so thankful. I even forgave him for asking me not to blog about Men Who Wee In Bottles. I suppose it’s a mothering given – that it’s rarely the the mama that gets the cuddles, because she’s usually dishing them out to the one who wants the WEET BICK.

                            Anyway, Small Z awoke this morning like a ray of sunshine and one of the first things she did was recite a poem from one of her favourite books Down In The Marvellous Deep.

                            “wouldn’t you love to be a whale and sail serenely by?
                            an 80 foot whale from the tip of your tail, and a tiny briny eye.
                            wouldn’t you love to wallow when nobody says ‘come out’?
                            wouldn’t you love to swallow, and blow all the brine about?
                            wouldn’t you love to be always clean?
                            and never have to wash, I mean,
                            wouldn’t you love to spout? oh yes!
                            a feather of spray as you sail away
                            and the rise and sink and rise and sink
                            and blow all the brine about
                            boom boom.”

                            In regard to elasticity with the truth, she has, of course, come up with interesting scenarios to explain certain things, but they have been so far-fetched that I somehow don’t feel that they count.

                            Me: Z, why did you get upset at Two Group the other day?

                            Z: Because I dropped a glass…TRAIN and it broke.

                            —-

                            Me: Z, how did you get that little cut on your chin?

                            Z: A Bengal piraña bit me. A REALLY big one.

                            Me: Right.

                            —-
                            Me: Z. WHY can’t you go to SLEEP?

                            Z: Because all the Tiggers in this house are bouncing too much.

                            Happy Father’s Day 2010

                              I took this last Wednesday when M went out for a couple of hours. Ran around like a loon. Small Z was such a trouper. I only just this second realised it appears that she has one leg. This is not correct.

                              After eight or nine poses she said gently, “No more photos please.” And we stopped. After hiding all the evidence and changing clothes again, there was a knock on the door. I was so wiped that the real estate agent standing on the door step (whom I had never seen before, and will now most likely never see again) didn’t even say hello, he just looked at me and said, “Are you alright?” Gah.

                              Not sure if the shape of Pikelet will help anybody in their boy/girl votes… As well as this in a frame, M also received The Cloudspotter’s Guide: The Science, History, and Culture of Clouds, a book Small Z and I thought he might appreciate…

                              M's Father's Day Card 2010

                              A weekend of beautiful weather

                                Ah, Spring. If there was ever a weekend to showcase perfect Spring weather, this was it. We had our first big social outing with Small D yesterday. Dropping past L&D’s house to introduce Small D and then continuing to a fantastic Grand Final – The Rematch BBQ with very old friends. We had a lovely time. The place was crawling with kids – with Small D being the youngest – followed quickly by Small O.

                                There was much yelling at the television and many chats outside in the sunshine. Small Z had a ball – there was a garden with lots of interesting nooks and a big trampoline. We lazed on the hammock and spent some time inside taking in the game. Very cruisy. We didn’t leave until 5pm…which to me, felt like almost midnight. Strangely, we had all had such a nice time that even getting to bed was relaxed!

                                Walking in the sun

                                Today, we went for a stroll to an overpriced garage sale a few streets away. There are not many lovely houses in this area, or gardens. BUT…we passed a showstopper on the way, and Small Z was beside herself with the colours and shapes. It made us so happy to walk past and look at it all – Spring in riotous colour! We need to plant more flowers at our house (and we did when we got home – seven sunflower seeds into a pot to plant out as seedlings).

                                The most beautiful garden in Hastings
                                Small Z and flower border
                                Planting out some beans

                                And this afternoon, we were invited next door for snacks and birthday cake in the front garden of our neighbours – their two year old, Jack, was celebrating. We had a lovely time…everything is easier in the sunshine.

                                Replay and repeat…

                                  One of the things that I love about my blog is that I can look back in time and get an idea of what was going on in my life all the way back to around this time in 2002. Because seriously, before that, there are YEARS about which I have not one CLUE about what the hell I was doing. Playing music, writing music reviews, doing a radio show… yeah, all that – but day to day, month to month? I have no idea.

                                  However, sometimes what I find in the past can be a bit disconcerting. This time last year? It could be, and in fact IS, happening right now!? In this post I am lamenting about my iPhone and going on about jailbreaking it. Which, is what I did last week… My phone has been stuffed since it’s been on iOS4, all calls – whether I’ve made or received them, drop out five to seven minutes into the conversation and the phone reboots. It’s intensely annoying.

                                  I hadn’t been able to jailbreak it again successfully until last week when limera1n was released. It worked beautifully and I happily welcomed my jb apps back into my life. Didn’t fix the issue though, and I don’t have the time to devote to going through the epic that is downgrading the operating system to 3.1.3 – which is what it was on when it used to work perfectly. I have found that a ba-million other people have the same problem. Has Apple raised an eyebrow? Nope. Cha-ching, they just watch the money roll in and appear to be doing nothing. Fuckers.

                                  On less angsty issues, the post also mentioned that Small Z and I had planted some sunflower seeds. Well, we did that this week as well. How odd that out of every week of the year I would do it in the same week two years running?! We had a lovely time putting the six little seedlings we’d grown into the ground, and also put in some seaside daisy seedlings. I then made scrambled eggs to use the crushed eggshells around the plants to deter slugs. M bought beer…for himself, and for slug and snail bait. Both approaches are quite effective…

                                  Watering in the seedlings...

                                  The other thing we were musing on this time last year was the impending end of our lease at the Warneet house. Our current one expires in late January 2011 and M is already worrying about having to move if the landlords do not renew our lease. I can’t see why they wouldn’t – but it would make things difficult, as the cost of renting seems to have gone up over the past nine months. Not to mention having to find somewhere again that would cope with three boats, four trailers, two cars and a beautiful caravan….

                                  Anyway – it seems that I am living a somewhat repetitious existence at present. Although I have never looked out of the kitchen window and seen a cockatoo on the bird feeder before…

                                  A visitor

                                  Labrador or Golden Retriever?

                                    I know that secretly, or not so secretly, that M sometimes misses Warneet. The fact that he could now be one of those dads that walked the streets with the pram on dusk unashamedly sucking on some low rent brew is a source of longing to him, I am sure.

                                    Of a night I will send him out at around 5.30pm to push Small DB in the pram while I get Small Z into bed and off to sleep. Inevitably he meanders his way to the bottle shop where he purchases a solitary longneck, the quality of which depends on our financial status, and so is usually Melbourne. (It occurs to me that you can listen to Melbourne Bitter Man the song too! Ha!) Being part labrador he also chats to the neighbours.

                                    I glimpse him through the windows occasionally, once Small Z has surrendered to slumber, pushing the pram back and forth while engrossed in conversation with the guy next door or the lady from down the road or the man from the unit at the back who only ever wears shorts.

                                    Although he never gets any ‘relationship’ style gossip, he does come home with bizarre nuggets of information. (Are labradors classed as retrievers?) A few nights ago he came in with a valiantly non-sleeping baby and said,

                                    “Do you know that me and Derek are both sixth children? And we both have siblings that are the next oldest with a gap of eight years? And our parents were really old (i.e. 40) when we were born?”

                                    He looked at me wide-eyed. “How weird is that?!”

                                    “But did he tell you how he and Bridget are going? Are they still separated?”

                                    “No idea.”

                                    I sigh.

                                    Last night he came home and his information on the woman down the road was almost David Lynchian.

                                    “Did you know that she had NINE children? And that includes TWINS? She said that it was so hard that she felt that her health never fully recovered. She had NINE children by the time she was THIRTY-TWO and that the worst thing was, it was the ninth one that was the hardest work. And she’d had TWINS. But that’s not all…”

                                    My mouth is agape. “It’s not? There’s something more than NINE CHILDREN?”

                                    “She had rheumatic fever when she was a teenager and overnight all of the nerves in her scalp died, she woke up with all her hair on her pillow and has been bald as an egg ever since.”

                                    Jesus!

                                    M looks smug, as he should. He has achieved much. On the other hand, although I am entranced, I can’t help being disappointed in myself that I never realised she wore a wig. I suppose it’s because I’ve always been diverted by her limp.

                                    “Did you find out whether the limp was because of the rheumatic fever?”

                                    “Not yet….”

                                    ___________________________________
                                    note: the labrador IS a retriever! I knew it!!

                                    note: I just listened to that song for the first time in easily 12 years – had COMPLETELY forgotten that M has a cameo on it – and you can hear my voice, laced with lust, talking into his answering machine… It was before I got my claws into him ;)

                                    Getting some Spring

                                      Heated

                                        One of those hot summer days where it didn’t get unbearable until after lunchtime. We spent some time in the garden during the morning. Small Z had some blue gloop…

                                        A hot summer's morning
                                        She looks like an extra from Avatar

                                        You say tomato…

                                          Just after Small DB was born, M and Small Z went to a church fete. And as well as picking up a swing set for forty dollars, M also got a whole stack of seedlings for about five bucks. There was bok choy, some leeks, and many many tomatoes. They planted the lot. We ate the bok and the leeks. And waited…

                                          We now have more tomatoes than we know what to do with!! And I have found myself feeling somewhat zen – twice in the last four or five afternoons I have taken Small DB out with me and fossicked for tomatoes. It is REALLY like hunting for Easter Eggs (minus the chocolate – which is fine by me, because those little Easter Eggs are always cacky cheapass milk chocolate…)

                                          Yesterday I chopped up a bucketful of tomatoes for the second time and chucked them in the slow cooker with some red wine and fried up garlic. The slow cooker, although not in season, is the fatigue-laden person’s friend – because stuff HARDLY EVER BURNS! Even when you forget it. Awesome! So I had that bubbling away, and then I went out on the hunt, passing by Small Z who was standing like a small thrilled monkey, in her very first ‘treehouse’….

                                          Tree house!!

                                          Small DB and I proceeded into the weird fenced off (for dogs we don’t have) section of the garden. It’s good for keeping the paddle pool in – there’s a gate. M has noticed lately that Small DB becomes very chilled when you lay her down outside on a rug, leaving her little feet and hands able to touch the grass. So that’s what I did.

                                          Have I mentioned that M neglected to ever stake the tomato plants? His method of gardening is kind of ‘if it doesn’t grow untended…let it perish’. So the tomato plants have gone totally apeshit. Helped along by being directly on the other side of the fence from the pile of lawn clippings M has been making for almost a year. The thing is, you have to assume ‘mission impossible’ style yoga positions to extract the fruit without crushing the plants…

                                          Secret tomatoes
                                          Tomatoes in the grass!!

                                          I have to reach my leg over to balance. One foot on the fence, and one on tippy toes trying not to squash anything important. And then I chuck the tomatoes out behind me, trying not to hit Small DB by accident. I got another bucketful…and she was happy…

                                          My mother picked a bucketload...

                                          Flow

                                            Although, as I type this, my eyes are heavy and the kitchen/dining room looks like a bomb has hit it, the day up until now has been a good one. Astonishing, as Small Z has a snotty nose and last night had little sleep, and Small DB is just recovering from the same cold, however – this is how our day went…

                                            Small Z came into the big bed during the night. At one point I awoke with her feet near my ear. There were many hissed imprecations for her to rotate. She eventually did. That actually hasn’t ever happened before – the upside downing….

                                            Small DB woke at 6.30am and I got up with her. Changed her, made porridge, did my exercises (really!!) put on the washing. M was already up, but I couldn’t find him. Realised belatedly that he wasn’t up, but had escaped to the caravan at about 6am to sleep…

                                            Small Z awoke at about 7.15am. She couldn’t go back to sleep, so I took her out to the caravan, where we both woke M. By the time breakfast was had, and Small Z was dressed and had done her Morning Wee – it was time for Small DB to go back to sleep.

                                            Small Z was snotty, tired and clingy – so I put her in the pram and Small DB in the sling. (And yes, Small Z looks pretty ridiculous in the pram – like I’ve stuffed a gazelle into it, but it’s easier than dealing with whingeing…especially when not feeling well…)

                                            M & the girls. Early morning.

                                            We walked to the main street. It was still only 8.30am – too early to get good bread from the Health Food Shop – so we went to the supermarket. Small DB conked out. We bought incidentals – snail bait, laundry powder, tissues, chicken drumsticks, a bag of passionfruit that were on sale (Small Z’s favourite), some liver (for my iron), cream cheese and pepitas…

                                            Hit the Health Food Shop for two loaves of bread. Small DB awoke – her naps are usually only 40 minutes. We walked home, Small Z clutching her bag of passionfruit and James the Train. Home at about 9.30 – put stuff in the fridge. Ate some pepitas. Made a cup of tea and gave Small Z yoghurt with two passionfruit – she was in heaven. Let her watch Five Minutes More

                                            Playmat

                                            Put out some of the washing. Small Z played on her swing and in the treehouse. Small DB hung out, watching everything, from the pram. I dug out some compost from the back garden and shovelled it into the wheelbarrow. The day was heating up. Took it to the front garden. Pulled a few weeks. Changed Small DB. Sat Small Z down to listen to an audiobook while I fed Small DB to sleep in the big bed. I was surprised when it worked.

                                            Night sky.

                                            Came back out, finished hang out washing. Small Z and I made ‘The Night Sky’ using black paper, glitter, clear contact, sprinkles and silver foil… I had to go and resettle Small DB about three times, but it paid off in the end – she slept for almost two hours. I attempted to make tzatziki dip, but instead ended up with cold soup. I even tried to (I know this is bad) thicken it with cornflour, but to no avail. Small Z ate some with a spoon and called it ‘soup’.

                                            She thrilled to reintroduction of cream cheese. We mixed it with avocado – this was a more successful ‘dip’. I ate some leftover pasta and had washed up everything by the time Small DB woke back up, with another audiobook back on. Thank you Postman Pat.

                                            Headed back outside with Small DB and planted out a couple of passionfruit seedlings Dad had bought us – Small Z stayed in the shade on the porch eating frozen blackberries. Today was hot. I was redfaced and sweating by the time I’d dug them in, moved some bricks around them and put down some snail bait – we’ve been resisting doing it for a year, and lost every sunflower seedling that Small Z and I grew… so it’s time to leave the beer behind and go with the hard stuff.

                                            Passionfruit. Planted.

                                            I was being lenient with Small Z and her screentime today – she sat down and watched an episode of In The Night Garden – her new obsession. Two shows in a day doesn’t happen to her very often. Small DB and I sat next to her, snacking and joining in now and again. I ate the cake left over from the weekend…and it was time to coax another nap out of Small DB.

                                            There was no feeding her snoozy this time – we both gave up on that, and I hissed at Small Z to bring in some books and threw Small DB in the hammock. Small Z and I invented the ‘Wonder String’ – a bit of wool attached to the wooden part of it that enables me to sit back and read to her, while comfortably bouncing Small DB.

                                            Happy Hangup.

                                            It was a lovely way to pass about 45 minutes – that’s how long it took us to get through the stack of books Small Z had brought in – it meant she also got a rest. I’ve been so close to getting rid of the Happy Hangup on several occasions, but I’m always glad I haven’t – it’s that one extra option for getting Small DB to sleep that is great to have when I can’t cope with the thought of her weight on me in the sling – she still sleeps on her tummy normally, but if the hammock keeps moving, it seems she naps well there now too! I have to remember that everything keeps changing and evolving – me included…

                                            She was still asleep in there when M got home. Small Z and I were making yoghurt, and I was also putting together some ‘button burgers’ (kangaroo mince, egg and spinach in bite sized burgers) for her dinner. And that was the day – by our standards, it was super-zen.

                                            Chicken little

                                              Our six-year-old neighbour came to the front door on Sunday night. She was holding a fluffy grey feather.

                                              “Have you seen a chicken that looks like this?” she asked, all gappy teeth and crazy fringe. “It’s called Thunder.”

                                              “Um,” I said, immediately concerned. “I haven’t, but if you wait a second, I’ll check the backyard.”

                                              No dice. No chicken.

                                              “Sorry,” I said to her, as she waited in the doorway. “No chook.”

                                              M, meanwhile, had begun flapping about the room and then almost ran to the fridge. He came to where we were standing, grinning hugely.

                                              “Does,” he began thrillingly, “Does your chicken look like this?” He flourished a plate covered in cling wrap with three cooked chicken drumsticks on it.

                                              My mouth moved. And I think it said, “I can’t BELIEVE you just did that.”

                                              Neighbour-child stood unmoving, looking mildly perplexed. I couldn’t figure out if this was because she didn’t know what that weird man from next door was on about, or because she was about to totally lose the plot because we had obviously eaten at least some of Thunder the Chicken.

                                              Thankfully, they found him hiding in a potplant not long afterward. And you would rightly assume that I am still giving M small kicks whenever I pass him in the house.

                                              —–
                                              N.B – this was all very timely, as I’d just finished Fat, Forty & Fired by Nigel Marsh, in which he tells his five year old son (who is on the other end of a telephone on the other side of the world) that happy clucking chickens are the same chicken that are also in sandwiches. And his son starts crying and drops the phone…. Nice one, Nigel.

                                              Pianissimo

                                                When I was around five or six years old I began having piano lessons. My grandma donated some money to buy a piano that I could practice on. My mum told me that she and my teacher went to a lot of different places looking for a good second hand piano until they finally found one. It’s an old, very heavy upright piano.

                                                I have memories of getting in the car with my mother after school when I was in about grade one or grade 2 and driving with her to somewhere out the back of Cheltenham for my lessons. I think I was about five. I was studying the Suzuki method. This involved listening to tapes of piano pieces at night as I was going to sleep and playing them on piano by ear (after I’d woken up, obviously). There was no reading of any music.

                                                I remember that I found it not too difficult to play songs by ear. I also have memories of playing at my first and only concert. I was so small that my mum had to come up on stage with me and sit there and facilitate while I played the seminal tune ‘Froggy Froggy Jump Jump’. I remember being so small and so scared that it probably put me off performing for another 20 years.

                                                After a while SWWNBB also began having lessons, but for some reason she did not have Suzuki but instead was taught to sight read music. Small Brother did this as well. We had a few teachers, the final one being Mr Pearl – he was into boogie-woogie and popular tunes. Our TV time was somewhat limited – Mr Pearl had trouble believing I had never heard the theme to ‘Cheers’.

                                                I always found it very difficult to play with my eyes in control rather than my ears. It ended up that I would usually play with a mix of both. However, I never really got the hang of sight reading for the left-hand and now just sight read for the right and jam in the appropriate chord with the left.

                                                Of course, there is one exception. I had a huge crush on a boy at my high school who was about three years ahead of me. He could play an awesome version of ‘Jessica’s Theme’ from The Man from Snowy River. So I dedicated myself to learning it, left-hand notes and all, until I could play almost perfectly. I dreamt of the time when he would be walking past my house. His ears would twitch towards the sound of my flawless playing and I would draw him in, sirenlike… In reality I would just ride my bike past his house with my long-suffering friend L, hoping for a glimpse of him.

                                                The point of this long-winded post is that 20 years after leaving the family home and the aforementioned piano in it, the piano has come to live with me! There is something that fills a little hole in my soul about having a piano in the house. I have barely had a chance to play and it’s been here almost a month. But it’s here, and that’s the main thing.

                                                Big thanks to my mother who chipped in a chunk of money towards the piano moving fees involved in getting it here.

                                                My Piano

                                                Bric a Brac

                                                  Today we went to an excellent bric-a-brac sale down at our local church run op shop. If I’d known how awesome it was I would have been more agitated about getting there on time. Instead, we stopped for coffee and wandered along at three-year-old speed.

                                                  We had missed out on all the really amazing bargains, including a fantastic rocking chair that I actually bought for five dollars- the money was ruefully returned to me by a man who told me it was already sold but had failed to have a sticker put on. I had seen one just like it on Making It Lovely the other day. Whimper.

                                                  There were a great set of bunk beds and a really beautiful fourposter little girls bed, trundle bed and lounge suite. I nabbed myself a big round art deco wall mirror in great condition. For the house we don’t have yet. It cost me Five Dollars! That was the kind of sale was.

                                                  I also bought some knives for the caravan and a cute little stabby cocktail onion fork, which is difficult to describe. Also, a wooden sword of file organiser – old school style. We scored a couple of books as well, including the classic ‘Dogger’, by Shirley Hughes.

                                                  Sharpen up!
                                                  Books

                                                  I recently found out that the pastor at the church bought our old house in Warneet and we spent a while talking to him and his wife about how we had enjoyed the house and what they plan to do with it. They’re not going to knock it down, hooray!

                                                  This Afternoon

                                                  We then went on our way to attend our very first working bee at the kindergarten. But there must have been a lot of early risers as most of the jobs were done by the time we got there. I was put on photocopying duty and collated some newsletters. As I was buzzing round the office I realised I hadn’t felt so useful in quite a while.

                                                  M went back later with the trailer and took a load of stuff to the tip for them. He then went back to the market picked up all our evil loot. I will have to dig out the mirror for a snapshot before we take it down to the shed to live…

                                                  The vortex

                                                    Oh, where to start. I am still trying to post pictures and words from our weekend away two weeks ago *groan*. I am typing (not dictating) this to just keep hanging in up here in cyber-land. I have had days recently where I HAVEN’T EVEN CHECKED MY EMAIL.

                                                    Great. SInce I typed that brilliant opening paragraph, a day and a half has passed. Yesterday was M’s birthday (Happy Birthday M!) – the least fraught of the many we have spent together. A lovely time. On top of that, Small Brother arrived from NYC to stay for almost three weeks. So it was a day full of family stuff, champagne, GORGEOUS weather, food, and hugging.

                                                    Of course, I was wrangling two small ones throughout, and somehow this is my excuse for almost no photographs. I took the Smalls to playgroup in the morning – it happens to adjoin the church run op-shop, and I picked up three dresses for Small Z, one of which she wore home. And I managed to make a secret birthday cake and ice it in the morning, and had some help with the sprinkles…

                                                    Early morning cake decoration
                                                    Finishing off the haircut I gave him
                                                    The new dress

                                                    Where have I been? Trying to tone down the stress content of my existence a bit. Trying to get just ONE days work done with my mother looking after Small Z and me (mostly) looking after Small DB for two days was just impossible. So then I had M home one day as well, looking after them both while I typed… It felt that my much loathed (but necessary) work was taking over my whole week…

                                                    My brain started leaking from my ears. M suggested that he would take Small DB on Thursdays while my mum is here, leaving me a solid day to type my butt off. Work is taking me a bit longer than normal, as I’m really trying to hone my dictation skills to save my back from too much sitting. Anyway – for the past two weeks this has been the arrangement, and my work output has grown, and my stress levels decreased. A win!!

                                                    M and I have had long, sometimes fraught, discussions about the Very Large Catamaran the progress thereof. If it is ever to be finished, he needs to put in more hours. I have told him to work late three nights a week. Oh gosh – the logistics of getting two anti-sleeping Smalls to sleep on my own… I won’t bore you, but it’s like cracking the Enigma code. I am finding that I have more stamina now that I am swimming every morning (you read it here first), and so this is extra incentive to keep going (as if the threat of chronic back pain wasn’t enough).

                                                    So that’s where it’s at. Or a bit of it, anyway… Today we had another vintage Sunliner caravan delivered to our door. M is doing it up. It deserves a post of it’s own… Goodnight.

                                                    Miss Zoe Evangeline. Flowered up!

                                                    The way home

                                                      Capped off by minimal serenity

                                                        Today. A series of meltdowns from Small Z. A seven-month-old who napped a total of ONE HOUR all day. And occasional moments of serenity.

                                                        I began the day on a kind of odd note. Having purchased my very first swimming cap I entered the pool looking like a large walking purple condom, or, more poetically, a walking purple tipped missile. (No innuendo please…) I was also wearing my knickers instead of my bather bottoms due to an organisational malfunction. I sped so fast from the change rooms into the water that no one would have noticed my butt being covered in black cotton instead of spandex.

                                                        I am up to doing 25 laps of freestyle and four laps of kicking along on my back. It’s the last four that kill me. Anyway, with my new purple appendage (ahem) I found myself feeling a little more, um – what’s the aquatic term for aerodynamic? That’s what I felt. But by the time it came to the end of my last laps I could feel all the water sloshing around my hair. The good thing was that my head, when lying on my back, was a lot more floaty – a plus!

                                                        However, I felt offended. I had paid ten dollars to keep my hair DRY. I spoke to a woman who was drying her hair in the changerooms.

                                                        “Do you wear a cap?”

                                                        “Yes.”

                                                        “Does it keep your hair dry? My hair is soaking.”

                                                        “It doesn’t keep my hair dry.”

                                                        “So…” I looked inquiring. Why would you look like a condom for no reason?

                                                        “…but it helps my head float. I think most people wear them to make their heads float.”

                                                        “Of course.”

                                                        Op Shop Loot. And progress?

                                                          I think today I had a taste of how lovely things can be with two Small People when Things Go Right.

                                                          About a month or two ago, Small DB turned into the Automobile Antichrist. A major blow to me, as I thought I had got myself a car-friendly baby *sob*. So yeah – anywhere that takes longer than 20 minutes or so is disastrous. My fingers are crossed that this might change.

                                                          I have, therefore, not taken her anywhere in the car for ages. Today I drove to Balnarring. I have tried a couple of times to go there with the two Smalls on my own. There have been meltdowns and spasms. But today? Today was just awesome.

                                                          Small Z behaved like a saint. We went to the op-shop on the proviso that she would get ONE thing. And here’s where the odd coincidence happened. [Prepare yourself for tangential warbling... ] Four months or so ago we went to E&D’s house and Small Z saw they had a toy seahorse that glowed and played music. She was captivated. I saw that Small O had some very cool things by Manhattan Toys – and I was captivated (on behalf of Small DB).

                                                          I then, as Small Z kept referring back to the seahorse over the weeks that followed, started investing in the idea that if she had one, she would wake at night, hug it, and drift sweetly back to sleep, lulled by it’s soft song, luminous glow, and gurgly water noises. Obviously, I am an idiot. However, I got online. Both the seahorse and the Manhattan Toys toy were $30 apiece. So I went to Amazon, where they were $13 and $10 each and had them sent to Small Brother. Dramas about shipping costs then ensued, and they arrived a few months later.

                                                          But the point of all of the above is that I SHOULD HAVE WAITED. If I hadn’t bothered with the seahorse and the cool baby toy (which neither of them give a toss about) I would have been rewarded by what I found at the op shop today. A Gloworm toy – which does exactly what the bloody seahorse does. And a Manhattan Toy thing. They were twenty. cents. each. *clutches head*

                                                          Anyway, as well as those fated objects, the Smalls got a cardigan each, M got a pair of trousers, I got a scarf, the caravan got a double bed sheet, Small Z got some boots and Small DB got some stacking blocks and a basket which will become her Treasure Basket – something that I read about in Barefoot Magazine and again online, here.

                                                          Op Shop Loot

                                                          We went and bought Small Z an apple, and me a sausage roll. I took Small Z across to the park. Small DB travelled on my back, and slept there for an hour. Although it is a bit exhausting carrying her, being free of a pram (which she will not sleep in) and having my hands free was excellent. It’s been a-g-e-s since Small Z and I have had fun at a park. I think it was this that really made me feel like juggling the two of them is starting to come together for me (watch it all fall asunder now that I’ve jinxed it).

                                                          We wandered over under the pine trees and Small Z found Small DB a pinecone, and then found one for herself. She occupied herself picking berries from a tree for ages. We meandered back to the grocery shop, scored some eggs, rhubarb, plums, mandarins… Then went to the butcher. And finally to a cafe, where Small DB woke up and we sat on a couch reading Where The Wild Things Are as the tail end (i.e. best bit of) The Blues Brothers played soundlessly on a large screen.

                                                          The lack of stress involved astounded me, which is why I wanted to record it here. We got home without a screamfest, and found that our vegies had been delivered… The coloured carrots look amazing…

                                                          Coloured carrots!

                                                          I had the bright idea of taking all the potatoes I wanted to peel for soup outside into the garden. We all sat in the sun, and the two Smalls were thrilled – Small Z used twigs to give her potato arms, while Small DB was charmed by all the peelings and the different shaped spuds. Kept them occupied for an unnaturally long time. A win!

                                                          Spuds.

                                                          Home time.

                                                            We are home. Left Ballina on an aeroplane yesterday at 10.50am and got into Hastings Railway Station just before 5pm. A long day. Both Smalls were exquisitely behaved throughout, despite Small DB only having an hour of sleep all day. Melbourne felt flat and cold. The air seemed dry.

                                                            We had come out of six days of sunshine. OK, so there were a few showers, but generally the days were warm. We swam! Our friends looked after us, installed us in their garden flat, and barely even rolled their eyes at the amount of times I had to run from the house to our lodgings to resettle Small DB when she woke a million times after being put down for the night.

                                                            It was laidback, easy and I felt better than I have felt for a while! How long has it been since I was compelled to dance in the car to a good song?! Too long. Getting back home, while not as bad this was not overly thrilling. As I am typing this hail is tapping at the window – today has been full of downpours, and I’ll be surprised if it has made it above 12 degrees.

                                                            I hauled myself up when Small DB woke at 6am this morning and was at the pool before 7am. I did 40 laps. M had requested that I try to start my swimming earlier so he can get going earlier in the morning. Despite this being achieved, his morning mood left a lot to be desired and quickly deflated my 40-lap feeling of satisfaction. I went from being OK with being home to actively planning on how to get aboard the next and nearest plane.

                                                            Both M and my mother helpfully suggested that my post on where we are at was full of Too Much Information. And again I wish I had begun this site anonymously. I have so little to fucking write about – the Smalls. And that’s about it. I do hope to occasionally post a little more than recitations about what op-shop I went to and how often my baby wakes during the night.

                                                            Maybe I am over-reacting and need to get another hobby. I have altered some information on this blog as requested – changes going back to 2005 *eyeroll* and will be getting attitude from M about my lack of grace while doing it. He feels his reasons are valid, and while that may be, I didn’t need to hear about it on our first day home from our holiday, which I had hoped would reboot and refresh us to get through the rest of the year.

                                                            The rest of this post has been cancelled due to ongoing crankiness…

                                                            Shambolic

                                                              I’m falling behind on my posting as behind the scenes I’m still writing about our trip away *sob*. You know. The one that feels like some faraway dream. Today washed all semblance of holiday sangfroid out of me.

                                                              ‘Sangfroid’. How I have often read it, but never used it in a sentence myself. There you go.

                                                              sangfroid |sɒ˜ˈfrwɑː| (also sang-froid)
                                                              noun
                                                              composure or coolness, sometimes excessive, as shown in danger or under trying circumstances.
                                                              ORIGIN mid 18th cent.: from French sang-froid, literally ‘cold blood.’

                                                              As I was saying. Last night, in amongst the probably four or five feeds for Small DB (it’s not so bad – I roll over, she feeds, we both go back to sleep) I had to change her nappy at 1am. At 2am M staggered in, wildeyed, and said he couldn’t take sleeping with Small Z anymore. He flounced off to the caravan.

                                                              I went in to Small Z, who drank a bucketload of water and went back to sleep. I lay there for 45 minutes. Small DB woke. I went and got her and brought her in with Small Z and I. Gack. Small DB awoke for the day at 5.30am and I had to whisk her into the loungeroom (instead of lying there playing dead for half an hour) so she didn’t wake the Other One. Yes. I have two children. Why, I am not sure….

                                                              Small Z was up by 6.45am and by 7.15am she had breakfasted and coerced me into making a cubby with her in the front yard out of a sheet, a curtain, a rake, a pram and a tree. The rest of the day was spent with me trying to function and remain both vertical and pleasant. We visited the park and cafe in Balnarring, came home and made some stupendously healthy (and quite tasty) muffins*, survived two huge face-offs with Small Z, ate too many of the aforementioned muffins and…

                                                              …just before I imploded I remembered the key to fatigue-ridden sanity. Change your environment. So we went outside. Small DB had a swing and picked clover, Small Z played in the treehouse and I savaged some dead tomato plants. Due to teething and her age and the aspect of the sun and the angle of the moon, Small DB was hard to get down tonight – and the laksa (the recipe is crap) for which I had held such hope, slowly became mutinous glutinous soup. And that’s the charitable description.

                                                              M just walked through the door, nude – as he does when he strips off his fibreglass ridden clothes at the front door (no neighbours have said anything yet, but I am patient) and said, “It was a bit lonely at the boat today.” I fixed him with a look that spanned millennia and told him not to complain about the thing I crave. A little bit of loneliness would have gone a long way today… until I fell asleep and forgot to relish it.

                                                              ____________________________
                                                              *Added 1/4 cup olive oil and 1 cup applesauce instead of vegetable oil. Plus handful of raspberries. Only 1/2 cup sugar.

                                                              Visitations

                                                                The longer the past week dragged on the harder it got to make it to the end of each day *yawn*. The beacon on the horizon was the visit of Mung and the boys, who stayed in the caravan on Saturday night. Mung has only met Small DB once, and she was so tiny then that she barely peeped the entire time he was here.

                                                                Things are different now. He now holds the record (besides the nana) of the person who Small DB has willingly stayed with the longest. She very much enjoyed him holding her as they watched M push the boys and Small Z up and down the footpath in the billy cart at some ungodly hour this morning. Have I mentioned that Small DB got her two top teeth through last Thursday?!

                                                                Oh my gosh. She doesn’t cry or whinge, but her poor little bum got so red raw that she has spent the last two days sitting nude from the waist down near the heater. Small Z and I raced to lie her in the only sunbeams that we’ve seen, and that seemed to help – as did Hydrazole cream. Poor little thing. However, she was enchanted to be at home and yet surrounded by more people…

                                                                Small Z had a good time too, although she didn’t seem to realise she was three-years old, in comparison to the five-year old Otis and almost seven-year old Luka… Mostly it didn’t really matter.

                                                                Zoe and Otis in the tree
                                                                Billy Cart on Sunday Morning
                                                                Billy Cart on Sunday Morning
                                                                Billy Cart on Sunday Morning
                                                                Billy Cart on Sunday Morning

                                                                We headed up to Somers later in the morning and wandered along the beach, almost knee deep in seaweed and kelp. I found, without knowing what it was, a shark’s egg. I also found a beautiful tiny sea urchin. Small Z was interested to observe the boys play fighting with sticks and generally behaving like… um, boys. And thus challenged M to a swordfight with sticks.

                                                                M & Small DB
                                                                Shark Egg

                                                                We finished up at the lovely cafe, which isn’t quite so lovely when it’s crowded with lots of people, but still – they serve stylish beverages….

                                                                Somer's Cafe

                                                                …and bloody expensive chips.

                                                                Today. Game, set, match.

                                                                  Laps swum? 40

                                                                  Liver consumed for iron levels? Yes.

                                                                  Vitamin C eaten afterward to make it absorb? Yes – kiwi fruit.

                                                                  Vitamin D? Today we had SUNSHINE! I sat in it with my tummy bared.

                                                                  Small Z Major Meltdown? We tried to leave the house without getting her toy turtle ‘dressed for the day’. Oh the screaming. The door slamming (that’s a new element). The stamping. Whatever. We survived. And moved on…

                                                                  Washing done, hung out, dried, sorted? Oh my god. It really is.

                                                                  Small DB? Two naps today. The first, a normal 40min – the second? EIGHTY MINUTES! This enabled me to have a lovely lunch with Small Z in the sun and read books on the couch. Bliss.

                                                                  Both Smalls bathed (I don’t bathe them often, particularly the littlest one, but it’s lovely to put them in together and watch Small DB splash hysterically) and asleep by 6.45pm.

                                                                  Did I mention the sorted washing?

                                                                  Big people’s dinner made. My half consumed.

                                                                  A blog entry. Hola!

                                                                  The only thing left to do are my back exercises, and then I can go to bed. I love it when it all comes together. It’s ridiculous how much better a sunshiney day makes me feel!

                                                                  A star sculpture
                                                                  A Daisy in the garden

                                                                  (And I just have to say – put down at 5.45pm – Small DB is still down TWO HOURS LATER. This is a big deal for me – particularly after the past month of FOUR TEETH…)

                                                                  Grapefruit…

                                                                    I was grumpy this morning. “Come outside!” chirped Small Z. I stumped out into the back garden. Somehow, a few mintues later, we were collecting grapefruit from where they had fallen on the grass, and Small Z was dragging me back inside to juice them. Not for her to drink, you understand, because she doesn’t get into grapefruit juice, but just so she can use the juicer. And the day started to improve…

                                                                    Small Z making juice
                                                                    Making grapefruit juice
                                                                    Small DB trying out a bit of grapefruit

                                                                    There are SO many more out there…

                                                                    Playgrouping

                                                                      I asked two playgroup mothers that I’ve become a bit chatty with to come over on Tuesday – that’s the day we usually go to playgroup, but it wasn’t on due to the long weekend.

                                                                      So we had three mums and six little girls ranging from six months to four-and-a-half. We had a ball. The three older girls ran around playing hide and seek, trampolining, doing songs on the piano and making things with fabric, while we sat around with the littlies drinking tea. Very civilised. And they both live in streets a block or two from here – there’s hope for my social life (and Small Z’s!!)

                                                                      Mini playgroup at home

                                                                      Ear buds.

                                                                        This is Friday. This has been A. Hard. Week. M still has mild lingering strains of his cold from a few weeks ago. Small Z spent Wednesday and Thursday with her head tilted like an inquisitive bird – her neck was stuck and painful. We thought she had slept on it at an odd angle, but she has since been commenced on her first ever antibiotics and it seems that it was some kind of infection.

                                                                        Small DB ran a temperature all Tuesday night and Wednesday. Thursday morning I woke up feeling like I’d been dragged on a rope behind a car. Sore joints, thumping head. Do I get sick days? I do not. So I typed. And then took Small Z to the doctor, which took over an hour. And then typed some more. I have sore bumps behind both ears that feel like I’m about to grow another set of backup ears. And I won’t miss them when they’re gone…

                                                                        Thankfully my mother was here to do kid minding or it would have all been way too hard. Small Z’s doctor also looked at me and said I should try and get on top of my lurgy with lots of saltwater gargling, hot drinks and analgesics. I’ve been doing all that. AND I swallowed a clove of garlic. Whole. Peeled first, of course. I have fond thoughts of that clove, somewhere in there, working its anti-bacterial magic…go clove, go!!

                                                                        Today Small Z had farm animals at kinder, and it was our turn to be the parent ‘helper’ for the day. I very much wanted to do it, but had extra work to do, and felt vile – so M went along *whimper* and I will go at the next opportunity. And I won’t take Small DB, as I planned to, but will ask M to take time off the boat to look after her. And that is how I sound when I’m feeling proactive!

                                                                        My extra work is done. Tomorrow morning I see my sublime new osteopath for whom I have left my physiotherapist in the dust. And then we have been invited to an afternoon ‘solstice’ party…in the NEXT STREET! Oh my god! Is this our first locally located social outing? After living here for 18 months? I think it is. How completely refreshing to be able to walk to a social engagement that is also happening at a kid-friendly hour! And there will be mulled wine. So things are getting better. Get thee behind me, week of crud! (Birth of Small Nephew is excluded from crudness – obviously. He was highlight.)

                                                                        Soiree

                                                                          In all the places we have lived over the past ten years, we have never really got stuck in, made friends and hung out with our neighbours. In Seddon it only happened as we were about to leave and we went to multiple BBQs with people we had lived alongside for five years.

                                                                          In Hervey Bay the neighbours over the road repeatedly asked us to BBQs, but the reality? There was no one there who shared our interests. We were focussed on getting the hell out of there. And the neighbours, I think, were just trying to find out what the hell we were up to.

                                                                          Back in Victoria, living in Hampton – we were sharing a house with our friends. Ha! The two years we spent in the Trailer, only on one occasion did we hang with our landlords (who also lived on the property) and avail ourselves of their often-offered tennis court.

                                                                          The house in Warneet? We knew heaps quite a few locals. Did we ever go to a BBQ? No, but we did go to a three-year-olds birthday party.

                                                                          Are you getting the picture? I am not a super-social person. I’ve never been great at parties – especially with people I don’t know. I never feel particularly interesting and don’t know what to talk about. But sometimes you stumble on people (hello, Mr H!) in such situations and realise that now and again, it’s good to push yourself and make the effort.

                                                                          It’s easier to do when you actually really like the people who take the trouble to invite you over! Jacinta, the woman I have met via playgroup, asked us to join them on Saturday afternoon. We have a shared interest in boats, an interest in alternative education and various other things.

                                                                          We went along. And had a lovely time. The food was to die for, I didn’t feel like a totally boring person, I spoke to more than three or four people that I’ve never met before: it was all easy and good. And the best bit? Having such a great time and then being able to WALK HOME. Every single one of our other friends live an hour away from us. It was a breath of fresh air… There is hope for us in Hastings. We might be poised to change our tune.

                                                                          Some like it snot.

                                                                            On Saturday night, more than usually irrational, you would have found me weeping in the loungeroom with silent fury at 3am because someone had STOLEN our pram from the front porch. I even began making an ANGRY SIGN that was going to read:

                                                                            TO THE PERSON WHO STOLE OUR PRAM. A GUY CALLED BECK WROTE A SONG ABOUT YOU. IT’S CALLED ‘LOSER’. NOW BRING THE FUCKING PRAM BACK.

                                                                            Hardly teeth rattling, but it was the best I could come up with in my state. I went back to bed, because making a sign at that time of the morning was too noisy. I lay there and fumed until just before 4am when I remembered M saying something like, “…and I’ll use the pram to take the good car battery down to where the car conked out.” Heaved a sigh and slipped into slumber.

                                                                            That was exactly what had happened. And this is the weirdarse person I have become, living in the slipstreams of teething and both Smalls with back to back colds. M worked at home last week, finishing off the Sunliner caravan he’s been doing up, which has thrown our days out a bit. But from tomorrow morning, we’re kind of back to normal.

                                                                            Now I sit here. M is still at the boat. So I have the washing machine running (which he loathes). Both Smalls have been in bed for an hour and a half. I’ve washed up. There’s pea and ham soup in the slow cooker, and I am feeling improved. I am typing this waiting for the inevitable 40min wake up that Small DB has been doing every night since her cold began (again) – EVERY 40 minutes. I was delaying my dinner until it happened, and how of course…it hasn’t. So off I go to eat. Perfect slow cooker weather. Did I mention I’ve been using them in the bedroom full of water with a dash of eucalyptus oil? They make really great humidifiers!

                                                                            Oops. I forgot to mention, in my most recent (and lamest) Links of Goodness post, the excellent site that is Grooveshark. Almost any band/artist you might want to listen to is there, you can make playlists, find whole albums, make your own virtual mixtapes…it’s all free. It’s totally amazing. We are loving it. Laurie Berkner is one of Small Z’s favourites. I’ve been prancing around to the hit laden Let’s Get Out of This Country by Camera Obscura. Not too recent – but excellent, nonetheless.

                                                                            On the way up…

                                                                              And brought to you at 8.30pm with a glass of red wine is this post. This week has been hard. I have been feeling like I don’t actually STOP very often. There are ructions at my work, which have resulted in me getting a lot more to do. M has had to stay home an extra day this week (today) so I can try and get through it all.

                                                                              It looks like next week will be the same. But for now, both Smalls are abed. Small DB has not popped up like a cork wailing every 40 minutes for the first time in over a week. It’s either an overheated room or she just might be getting over her cold. Whichever – I’m thankful.

                                                                              The colds. The snot. These are what have been preventing me from meeting my tiny new nephew!! I can’t believe I haven’t even given him a cuddle yet! He is apparently already far more of a little lump than he was. I am so keen to make his acquaintance. But not at all keen to be the one responsible for giving him his first cold. Tiny babies and colds? Dire.

                                                                              All week Small DB has been feeding by sucking for a few seconds, then detaching to breathe through her mouth. And repeat, and repeat. She has unintentionally bitten me a few times – you may have heard me shriek? Her colds stick around so long as she can’t get rid of all her snottishness, poor little thing. However, she continues to be bright and chirpy. We regularly fall on the ground due to her cute-overload. She has begun to wave and say Ba-Ba! (Bye-bye.) And loves to play her toy piano…

                                                                              The ongoing lurgy

                                                                                A few things. I continue to wonder at those bloggers with small children who seem to be able to post almost daily. I find it impossible (obviously) as much as I would like to do the same.

                                                                                The Smalls have been sick for a month. Small Z has only just stopped having an utterly hacking cough and her nose continues to run. Small DB got better for a few days a week or so ago, but then succumbed anew (after I took them both to the doctors for a prescription that it turned out I didn’t need – kicking self HARD). She has been again awash with snot – and has a cough that makes her sound like some very old man who has been living under a bridge during a flu epidemic. It’s dire. I can feel her little chest rattling in the morning – and the nights? The nights have been really hard – lots of waking up because she just can’t breathe :(

                                                                                Meanwhile, I did 29 hours of work last week, somehow. M was home for a few days to facilitate this – but I was still working when our lovely friends and their very lovely relations were here on Friday for lunch (sneaked off into the bedroom to finish off a few files) and then again on Sunday night after our houseguests had departed, leaving TimTams, a toothbrush and crocheting ephemera behind them.

                                                                                Today I only got two files done as we decided Small DB needed medical attentions. She was given a prescription for antibiotics – both good and bad. Bad because I hoped she wouldn’t need them for a few more years, and good because – well, if it’s a bacterial infection, it will send it packing. I just have a sneaking suspicion about that doctor – wondering if she hands out antibiotics like lollies. Anyway, something needed to give.

                                                                                Therefore (and here I harp on more about work) I have two more files to get done before Monday night. I should be doing them as I type these very words, but….

                                                                                Ooops. She’s woken up again.
                                                                                Goodnight.

                                                                                Domestic appliance bling

                                                                                  The beginning of the week tried, in its own way, to calm me down after the weekend that was. I have been browsing dishwashers on eBay intermittently all year. As the year goes on, I keep thinking, “What’s the point – it will be just another thing to find a home for when we move…” and then I am left with a pile of dishes at the end of each day BEFORE sorting out dinner…as well as dermatitis on my hands from washing things up here and there through the day…

                                                                                  Oh yes. A first world plight. Piteous. I agree. But still… I got an old Asko dishwasher for $41. I was somewhat shocked, as I didn’t think I was going to win the bid. M, with a long suffering sigh, went and got it for me and then pointedly put it where I asked him to and then left.

                                                                                  I fussed around a bit and realised I needed an extension for the inlet hose. So I threw Small DB in the pram and walked with the Smalls about five blocks away to a plumbing supplies place. The guy there treated me like I was complete pain in the arse, but I got what I wanted. Some hose, some brass screw on join bits and some hose clips. It has taken a bit of tweaking, but I have got it working – I have used it twice!! M (who washes up all dinner dishes every night) shuns it… I wonder how long that will last…

                                                                                  In other news, a few weeks ago M threatened to throw out our old Classic Scanpan. We had bought it about five years ago and its ‘non-stick’ had begun to beg to differ.

                                                                                  I am allergic to throwing things out and remembered that it had a ‘lifetime warranty’. I emailed the company and they gave me a free post address to send it to.

                                                                                  Just over a week later our brand new Scanpan arrived via courier, in a big box. The pan itself was in a velvet drawstring bag. M was beside himself.

                                                                                  He looked in our local homewares shop and found it there… for $330!!

                                                                                  Treehouse and worm pie

                                                                                    Those winter days when the sun stays out for a while are just like a shot in the arm for us. Small Z played in her treehouse that M built for her a while ago. I donated her an old antique pulley I had and she and I rigged up a basket so she can hoist her toys up…

                                                                                    Hoisting the trains into the treehouse

                                                                                    I had a bit of a hard time trying to find places to put the Small One while I tried to dig the compost. I tried the washing basket…

                                                                                    Daisy in the laundry basket

                                                                                    …and the life preserver…(you can tell she’s about to crack it just after I took this picture…)

                                                                                    Containing the baby...

                                                                                    I got to the bottom of the compost heap and found WORM PIE!! I put a few buckets of compost (and worms) on the passionfruit plant out the front…

                                                                                    Worm Pie!

                                                                                    Sunday with scones

                                                                                      Small Z began today by suggesting that she was not going to remove her pyjamas. She was instead going to layer her fairy dress on top of them. I have learned not to fight this stuff – does it matter if she runs around in this ensemble all day? It does not. We put her tent on the porch…
                                                                                      Sunday morning on the porch

                                                                                      Later in the day (after visiting Bunnings and having Small Z stage a force three meltdown in the carpark) our lovely visitors arrived for afternoon tea. Small Z and I had baked a carrot cake. Mrs H and Jack crafted some scones from lemonade, cream and flour… we paired these butter and a pot of strong tea.
                                                                                      Mr H & Small DB

                                                                                      Jack – who is to turn TEN on Tuesday, drew this lovely portrait of our family. He is so spot on!

                                                                                      There is ‘Distressed Beth’, ‘Normal Daisy’, ‘Confounded Zoe’ and…of course ‘Mark!’
                                                                                      (The reason I am so distressed is that he so perfectly captured my eyebags…)

                                                                                      wordless wednesday : swingset!

                                                                                        Keep this temperature fixed

                                                                                          Today the weather was sublime. We visited a new playgroup in Balnarring that Small Z adored – lots of equipment, shade, outdoor activities, and books on the inside. She loved it. The rest of the day was spent at home in and out of doors. It hit about 4pm and I decided to bust out of my girly-ignorance and figure out How to Use the Barbeque.

                                                                                          Hooked up the gas bottle, decided to go with its suggestion to use the self-igniting dial things. I figured it out in the end. Cooked up a whole lot of chicken drumsticks, spuds and red capsicum. Dinner for the Smalls – it was a HIT!

                                                                                          BBQ Dinner

                                                                                          Then it didn’t look like bedtime was going to happen any time soon, so we played Lions in the Meadow…

                                                                                          Lion in the Meadow
                                                                                          Grass crawl
                                                                                          Laughing in the long grass

                                                                                          It was between 25 and 27 degrees today. My perfect temperature. Gosh it was gorgeous. I just went and looked at the Bureau of Meteorology – holy crap – they now have a percentage ‘chance of rain’ on their site – I had to research this topic for far too long, back when I worked at RMIT. Took them a while…better late than never.

                                                                                          Tired Old Tuesday

                                                                                            Today I awoke after very little sleep, swam, took the Smalls to playgroup, annoyed Small Brother, blew bubbles, drank multiple cups of tea, yelled at Small Z on two occasions :( , medicated Small DB for teething malaise, bought two bicycle tyres that don’t fit and will be returned tomorrow, received a personal email from Katy Bowman – the excellent biomechanic (which made my week!) got both Smalls fed and down for the night before 7pm and am now typing this entry on my iPhone next to Small DB who has woken four times in 90 minutes. I am without lollies and tempted to cry.

                                                                                            Oh. An I also cleaned out our fridge. The interior now looks like an art installation.

                                                                                            Hanging baskets

                                                                                              Oh wonder of wonders! Small DB is abed before 8pm!! A whole hour and a half earlier than the past five nights! Is my relief not dancing out of that screen you’re looking at and whacking you about the head?!

                                                                                              A short recap. I began November like an awesome person and posted for many days – maybe even 15, in a row. But I have to tell you. It was a HARD month. The teething and the walking and the sick older child? None of those things was conducive to me managing to blog every day for a month. [Sigh]

                                                                                              …or put something on eBay every day – though I was more adept at that and sold quite a lot – goodbye baby hammock, baby capsule, cot, nappies, too small kid shoes, more nappies… Anyway. The month is over. It is now Summer. Christmas is trundling toward us on a downhill run – the only reason for my composure in that regard is that we are Kris Kringling this year, and so I am only sweating on a few presents instead of many.

                                                                                              Yesterday? We went to a clearing sale – some older guy was clearing out his Big Old Shed full of Big Old Stuff. M bought a fender. The boat kind – not the guitar. The friends we went along with bought a wooden dresser. Me? I dropped ten bucks on four aged cane hanging baskets. They needed repair and new hanging apparatus…

                                                                                              …and today the Smalls and I went to Bunnings and came home armed with potting mix and seedlings with which to do them justice. (Yes. We may be moving out soon. But if I allow that to rule my existence, nothing will ever be beautified…) It took a lot of wire. As we were working in the front garden, Small DB kept escaping down the street…running on her gleeful little legs. So cute, but so ANNOYING…

                                                                                              Once she was down for her nap, Small Z and I got stuck in. There was a fair bit of coconut fibre still in each one, so I kept it and added in newspaper for insulation purposes. We planted each one with a combination of cherry tomatoes, snow peas and lobelias…

                                                                                              The new (to me) hanging baskets

                                                                                              Hanging baskets - the contents

                                                                                              I am very happy! I used to have a lot of such things when we lived in Seddon – but having moved frequently since then, I haven’t really bothered too much. I did record back here about my aspirations for something better than plastic hanging pots – and actually, as I mine the archives, I did have a little pot-garden thing going on at the trailer…the remnants of which I still have!

                                                                                              Sorry about that tangent. We finished our horticultural duties and I got the Smalls their dinner. M came home early, and so my going-to-bed burden was eased…
                                                                                              Bedtime books

                                                                                              It’s been a little difficult with Small Z recently. She’s been sick, not getting enough sleep due to coughing, and also getting a bit lost in the mix with the attention that has been focussed on Small DB (I NEED to be focussed, or she runs off somewhere…). M and I made a particular effort today with a bit of extra TLC, and it was very much worth it. Her sunshine came back :)

                                                                                              My Twig Tree


                                                                                                (It looks better in real life…)

                                                                                                Christmas Eve Eve

                                                                                                  Sewn up Xmas Cards

                                                                                                  And further to my attempts to leave Small DB at childcare. We left here there with Small Z and it made no difference, as Small Z was too busy doing her own thing to be overly concerned with the welfare of her sister. The woman who runs the place held her for most of the time we were gone (30 minutes). When we got back I saw her sitting in her arms, not crying, but looking desolate. When she saw me her little face crumpled and my heart broke.

                                                                                                  The childcare woman said, as she had last time, “Don’t look like that. It just takes time for some of them to get used to it.” And when I didn’t pay enough attention to her words she stated, “I just want to slap that look off your face.”

                                                                                                  She said it three times. Interesting phraseology. I don’t like her and I still think she just tells me what I want to hear. I would have said something to her about it, but I was tuned out, comforting Small DB. I’m calling off the experiment for the moment, it’s not sitting well with me.

                                                                                                  Later in the evening the Smalls hung out on the street with the kids next door – Small Z trying to keep up with a very sweetly patient eight-year-old and Small DB trying to keep up with everyone… Later I made some Christmas cards and was soothed by having made at least SOMETHING!

                                                                                                  Christmas Eve Eve Street Scamper

                                                                                                  Signing off 2011

                                                                                                    Spent the last day of the year in a curious state. My mother stayed the night and was there in the morning. Of course…she’s reliable that way. I had arranged it so that I could disappear to Frankston and go to Savers – a HUGE op-shop of questionable origins – somewhere to spend my unexpected bonus from work. I have so few clothes that actually fit that each time I wear something out of the ordinary, Small Z says, “Is that new, mama?” Sigh.

                                                                                                    The morning began with prolonged wailing from Small Z. The dinosaur egg that she had received for Christmas had been put in water over night and had finally ‘hatched’. She had convinced herself that she was going to get a ‘real, live baby dinosaur that would talk to me and be my very own’. Fail. Because she was also hungry her shrieks went on. And on. And oooooon.

                                                                                                    My mother and I tired of it quickly. M petted her. I hissed that she should be fed. None of it boded well for my solo adventure, but I left anyway and hoped for the best. I didn’t do too badly!! From owning one skirt, I now have two more – plus two sleveless tops, a t-shirt and a pair of shorts. It came to $50 and I was pleased.

                                                                                                    Went to Petra Haircare and told them of my plans to rescue my hair (now tinted lavender as a result of my desperate efforts to de-brass-ify it). The lady barely contained herself from eyerolling and told me to go to a hairdresser because I’d probably break all my hair off. Not so easily deterred I found Hairhouse Warehouse and told them my story. They said my plan was a good one – so I bought some hi-lift bleach and 20vol developer with hope in my heart (and my head).

                                                                                                    All was serene on my return. Yay! The heat had just begun to hit. I told M to stay home the rest of the day. My mum headed for home and we dangled our feet in the pool. It wasn’t until around mid to late afternoon that Small Z started not to be able to turn her head. She screamed every time she looked to the right or jolted her neck.

                                                                                                    I dosed her with Nurofen and M said he would take her and Small DB for a walk while I did my hair. Could I have picked a worse time? Doubtful. Half an hour later, head mid-bleach, they came back with Small Z shrieking. All I could to was tell M to wait it out for another half hour until I was done.

                                                                                                    After calling the Nurse-On-Call line, I sent M and Small Z to a clinic in Frankston. Then quickly got Small DB into bed and had an HOUR, sitting with a glass of white wine and two cheese, ham, mustard and rocket sandwiches. Heaven. Except for the part of my brain that was worrying about Small Z…

                                                                                                    They returned quite quickly. It was thought she had a virus or a strain, but nothing more serious than that. We gave her more medicine and she finally went to bed. I had champagne cooling in the fridge for the End of the Year. It remains there. Small DB woke up at around 10pm – I went to settle her and stayed in bed. M saw in the new year with the rest of my white wine and an episode of Spooks.

                                                                                                    NYE 2011 - The Smalls and I and a kiss

                                                                                                    And…same time a year ago…just as feisty, but SO. MUCH. SMALLER! :)

                                                                                                    Daisy. New Year's Eve 2010

                                                                                                    Another beginning

                                                                                                      I began as I hope to continue. A little more zen, a little more mindful, and making conscious efforts to r-e-l-a-x. The Smalls and I did have a lovely day. I have updated the blog, done some stretching…and am now off to bed too late, but at least I’ve managed to get a few things done.

                                                                                                      Am trying to think of things to do In Order To Survive A Heatwave. Ah yes – my least favourite weather of all. A chain of at least four Very Hot Days.

                                                                                                      The thing that comes immediately to mind is roast chicken. I know. It seems inappropriate. But COLD roast chicken – for sandwiches – for some kind of salad, seems like a good prospect.

                                                                                                      My other food idea are the yoghurt and blackberry and strawberry and honey icy-poles I made about a month or so ago. A hit with Small Z and me. Except that I have three icy-pole moulds and that’s it. Problem.

                                                                                                      Small DB, on the other hand, should be thrilled with a cold grape, or two. Probably cold fruit of all description. So – the food side of things should not be too bad. But activities? Ack – what to do when it’s too hot to venture outside and our air-conditioner is portable and really only cools a small room? So far we have played in the paddling pool under shadecloth and tickled ice-cubes in a bucket. Tomorrow’s going to be ROASTING…eeek.

                                                                                                      I think I will rely on the bath, the computer, icy-poles and jelly… That’s right. I treat heat like a sickness… Happy New Year!

                                                                                                      Small Z is F-O-U-R

                                                                                                        I suppose that every birthday of Small Z will come as a particular shock to me. It shouldn’t. Time passes, right? But, oh dear, a four-year-old? It somehow sounds so much bigger…

                                                                                                        We – and most importantly she, had a lovely day. We were going to go to the beach, but the weather was too windy and cool so we stayed home. I’m so glad – because it was easier for everyone.

                                                                                                        Four Year Old!!!

                                                                                                        Small Z did not want a big party – she had her two small friends from playgroup. Both girls have little sisters, so they came along as well. There was strawberry raspberry jellies, mango icy-poles, pikelets, party-bags, trampolining, billy-carting, big high swings and playdough. It was kind of like playgroup on steroids.

                                                                                                        Triceratops Birthday Cake!
                                                                                                        Blowing out the Triceratops
                                                                                                        The tiny party.

                                                                                                        My mum and T came along. We missed SWWNBB and Small Brother. I cracked a bottle of champagne, and we ate some Balnarring bangers, potato salad and cupcakes. It was a good day. Happy Birthday Small Z – big love to you.

                                                                                                        Birthday riding
                                                                                                        Him, her and my caravan. Love.

                                                                                                        (I can already hear her a few years into the future, looking at this, saying, “So what did I get that year? What were my presents? What did you and Dadda give me? I don’t remember…”
                                                                                                        Well, future Small Z. From me and your Dad you got a really great bicycle helmet that should last a few years – a Humber of a bicycle helmet – you also got The Incredible Book Eating Boy and The Way Back Home, both by the amazing Oliver Jeffers. You should dig out those books Small Z, they’re gorgeous…)

                                                                                                        Terrarium and Garlic

                                                                                                          The relief that comes with looking after Just One Kid when you are used to constantly wrangling two? It is great. Small Z went out for the day with M to Phillip Island. Small DB and I noodled. I sensibly abandoned plans to deconstruct our food cupboard and instead napped when she napped (O Joy!)…

                                                                                                          We went op-shopping, read books, played on the trampoline, stewed apples, rolled lemons down the slide, discovered that the garlic cloves that Small Z and I planted long ago had, um, garlicked!! M had told me that they hadn’t worked and I was so dumb that I didn’t even check…until today. Woo!

                                                                                                          Homegrown garlic!!

                                                                                                          For ages there has been a big jar lying in our garden where I threw it one day because its base is tippy. Today Small DB and I collected pebbles and laid the jar on its side, put a layer of pebbles, a layer of compost and then some little succulents donated by our lovely neighbour…

                                                                                                          DIY Terrarium

                                                                                                          Today was like a deep breath – much needed after yesterday’s meltdown fest. Having Small DB to myself was very nice – she has just started putting words together, such as ‘bear book’ and ‘mama shoe’. It’s too cute… However, she has also developed ‘STOP!’ even when her ever-doting mother is singing to her – which can be a trifle disconcerting. I think she enjoyed being an only child today, and why not!?

                                                                                                          Riding on and Valentines

                                                                                                            Small Z, thanks to some presents from SWWNBB, has her bike fully blinged with Spokey Dokeys, handlebar streamers and a horn. People smile as she careens past them on the street. She has taken to riding to four-year-old kindergarten – has attended twice already. The teacher puts her bike in the shed until hometime. Here she is chasing M’s bum as he runs in front of her with the pram. If you look closely you can see his crazy leg-in-the-air run…

                                                                                                            Riding to Kindergarten

                                                                                                            After we dropped her off, M, Small DB and I went for a coffee in our favourite cafe… Small DB kept us running around after her…down the street, into shops…but we managed a little Quality Time…

                                                                                                            The Smallest Valentine with it's Dadda
                                                                                                            The Smallest Valentine with its Mama

                                                                                                            I had planned to make some kind of valentiney craft with Small Z during the afternoon, but friends dropped around. In the end, after the Smalls were asleep, I made M a bread and butter pud – he made me the best bacon and egg sandwich I’d ever eaten – and it was all good.

                                                                                                            More of the same.

                                                                                                              I could tell that things have been running downhill a bit when I went and sat on the porch today. Small DB had a cup of frozen berries. I had tea and a few squares of this excellent chocolate…

                                                                                                              I looked over at my pot plants and they were drooping and sad. Neglected. I jumped up and soaked them all. The combination of fatigue and constant rain over the past two days had lead me to forget them :( Small Z has had a rotten cough for about ten days. My throat is sore…

                                                                                                              One of Small DB’s impending teeth has broken through. Two more still coming. Two weeks ago she squashed her little thumb in the flyscreen door jamb – today it was the other thumb, in the front door. Screaming, ice packs, an episode of In The Night Garden to calm her.

                                                                                                              Me? I’m verging on Zombieland. Small DB is waking at least five or six times a night. I have not been helping myself and have been getting to bed at 10pm or later. Which doesn’t help when Small DB wakes up at around 10pm and says, in tiny but emphatic tones, “Done!” This means she wants to get up. If I try to persuade her otherwise she uses other words, like, “Door! Light! Chair! Lap! Sic!”

                                                                                                              Meaning, open the door, turn on the light sit with me in the chair, turn off the sleepy music. And if I persist in ignoring her, she screams. I don’t like her screaming, and I don’t like Small Z – in the next room, being woken up. So I bring her out, and we sit reading the same three books over and over. This is punctuated by me making hot drinks and whimpering brokenly, “Surely you must be tired by now? For god’s sake, it’s TIME FOR BED.”

                                                                                                              Last night when this happened we got to bed at 2am. Small Z wandered in with her nightlight sometime between then and when Small DB woke for the day at 6.30am. The odd thing is, I was so exhausted that I actually got a few hours of quality deep sleep. Even though, of course, sleep is for the weak…

                                                                                                              There has been no swimming for three weeks due a sore right shoulder and left knee. I have been trying, instead, to focus on my stretching. I am doing an online course with Restorative Exercise and it’s taking me a stupid amount of time to get through it. Going out of the house to swim for 40 minutes is far easier that setting myself up in front of the computer uninterrupted. Who would’ve thought it?

                                                                                                              As always I have a constant level of frustration – I am writing in my head as I go about my day. I have a list of blog topics that I want to write about. But I find it so hard. I’m only getting an hour – sometimes a little more – at the end of the day before I have to go to bed. I push it, stay up later, and then we ALL suffer. And thus I must now depart…

                                                                                                              Domestic discombobulation

                                                                                                                Discombobulated Dining Table

                                                                                                                Our dining table at a particularly cluttered moment.

                                                                                                                Watermelon Numero Uno

                                                                                                                  We plundered a watermelon. Our first one. It happened like this…

                                                                                                                  Cutting it loose

                                                                                                                  Watermelon - Picked!

                                                                                                                  Thank you, watermelon

                                                                                                                  Home grown watermelon

                                                                                                                  Watermelon being eaten by Small DB

                                                                                                                  It was lovely, but could have been a little riper. We’re not going to grab another until the end of the month… We kept the seeds so we can grow them again, somewhere… Many also turned up later in Small DB’s nappy, but that’s probably too much information. Over and out.

                                                                                                                  Catching up and hanging out

                                                                                                                    We have not seen our lovely friends with all of us present this year. And it’s nearly April. This is the kind of thing that happens when people are working, kid wrangling, and live over an hours drive apart. And it sucks. But we had a lovely day…

                                                                                                                    They arrived for lunch, and after some soup and sandwiches we set out for The Pines – Shoreham Beach. I have to say that if I won a lot of money, Shoreham would be a serious contender for my Victorian abode – the road to the beach is just sublime, full of huge trees and houses on enormous blocks – mostly old houses too, none of the new fangled Point Leo bling…

                                                                                                                    The carpark was chock full of surfers and their vehicles. M and Mr J went out for a surf while E and I stayed and hung with the four Smalls. FOUR!! And here’s some pictures…

                                                                                                                    M. Heading out for a surf. Point Leo.
                                                                                                                    The lovely Olivia Rose
                                                                                                                    Climbing the pines
                                                                                                                    He's turning 50 on Thursday. Seriously. Not bad at all!
                                                                                                                    Elijah. Looking very Tolkien.
                                                                                                                    Olivia Rose and her beautiful mama - Ellise.
                                                                                                                    M and his girls... Point Leo.
                                                                                                                    Ascending the pine...

                                                                                                                    Once we all got home, we just hung out and eventually decided that dinner would be a good idea. Of course, our Smalls were run ragged by that point and their wheels began to fall off. There was not a great amount of relaxation had – particularly, of course, by the mothers… But a wonderful and long overdue day. And now Small DB has improved in the car, we might actually be able to return the visit!

                                                                                                                    Administrative duties…

                                                                                                                      The past week has been something of a struggle – fractured nights leaving me a zombie by mid-afternoon, getting through the days from cup of tea to cup of tea. I have had some horror parenting moments :( Last night, however, must have been a little bit better because today I summoned a skerrick of zing…

                                                                                                                      With Small Z at kindergarten, as soon as the other Small was asleep I worked through my (blisteringly exciting) list that had been eating away at me. I knocked off getting the washing out, paying bills, a phone call to the bank, making chicken soup in the slow cooker, a handwritten letter to the Penalty Review Board*, collecting files together to be posted today… and then an extra hard burst of rain came and woke Small DB after an hour and ten minutes. Gah.

                                                                                                                      At least I got most of it done. Later on my mother called and asked me, again, what I wanted for my birthday and what were my plans for the day. I told her to get off my back and not worry about it, it was still a couple of weeks away. Oh, she said, really? Yes, I said blithely, and looked at the calendar. And blanched. It’s a week tomorrow.

                                                                                                                      AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH. That’s why M, my mother, my father and Mrs H. have all mentioned it over the past week. I have no plans. My only plans had been to repeat last year – which was to fly to Ballina and lob in on our long lost friends for a week of beachy wonder. My only plan at this late stage? I don’t have one, but I need to invent one. Fast.

                                                                                                                      And, note to self: today Small DB fell off a chair in the library, hit her head on the coffee table in our lovely local bookshop where I bought Small Z her first dictionary and generally fell over or off everything in her path. I have to devote a post to her before she grows up any further…

                                                                                                                      _____________
                                                                                                                      * You’re here? About the Penalty Review Board thing? Let me tell you of two instances where M has cost us unnecessary amounts of money. Both have only recently come to my attention. One involves $153 of dinosaurs and the other about $300 of kangaroo mince. Whoops, sorry…it’s bedtime. It will have to be in another post…

                                                                                                                      Low Key Birthday Me…

                                                                                                                        Today I turned thirty-nine. THREE NINE!! Doesn’t really matter what number it is. I feel the same. I do tend to love my birthday. I usually plan a ‘thing’ – whether it be a lunch or a trip to New South Wales… Not this year. Didn’t get it together – just decided to go and get an iced coffee at a cafe and see what I could scrounge out of Balnarring Op-Shop.

                                                                                                                        This morning in bed, Small Z turned to me at 6.53am and said, “Is it still night Mama?”
                                                                                                                        “No,” I said sleepily, after a night of 90 minute wake ups from her small evil sister; “It’s earlyish morning, I think…”
                                                                                                                        “Then HAPPY BIRTHDAY MAMA!” She gave me the best hug.
                                                                                                                        Small DB put her head up. “Hello Dohdie!” They began to giggle.
                                                                                                                        And so the day began…

                                                                                                                        M came in, took them both, and I stayed there until 9am – WHOA! That was a good bit… I got scrambled eggs for breakfast. My birthday gas bottle for the caravan was on the kitchen table with ribbon and cards :)

                                                                                                                        Birthday gas bottle.

                                                                                                                        We went out and hit the op-shop followed by a scones and jam and cream at a cafe.

                                                                                                                        At the cafe...

                                                                                                                        Had lunch at home. Mum supplied the quiche, salad and the birthday cake. Dad supplied the many oysters and some champagne.

                                                                                                                        My Mum
                                                                                                                        Cake!
                                                                                                                        My Dad
                                                                                                                        Small DB in birthday mode

                                                                                                                        Dad had driven here in my Humber, so I took it for a short spin around the streets of Hastings. It was louder than I remembered, and the new indicators were touchy. But it’s running well…we bonded…

                                                                                                                        My two cars

                                                                                                                        I scored a lovely handmade bag from my equally lovely friend and neighbour – and a kicker of a cast iron cooking pot (by request) from TD…

                                                                                                                        New HEAVY Pot...

                                                                                                                        .

                                                                                                                        Other excellent gifts included a cup (SWWNBB), quinoa, LSA mix, an Amazon voucher (!), some back copies of Back Yard Gardener, Chook Wisdom, and cold hard cash…

                                                                                                                        M cooked us a roast chicken dinner. I missed a call from New South Wales while settling Small DB back to sleep… They sang ‘Happy Birthday To You, You smell like a POO!’ I could smell the love… :)
                                                                                                                        And now I’m off to bed before 9.30pm so I can begin my second day of 39 not feeling too much like a zombie. Next year? I’m going to work on getting the band together for a one off gig/party – it’ll be time for a night of reunion rock’n'roll…

                                                                                                                        Birthday Huzzah!!

                                                                                                                          Saturday night. I did not expect anything, but our lovely houseguests – Mr, Mrs and Master H, descended upon us as planned. But instead of being fed pesto pasta – they showered us with champagne, Indian takeaway and the Most. Amazing. Cake. Looky….

                                                                                                                          My Other Birthday Cake. Sublime.

                                                                                                                          They are some of Small DB’s favourite people. They all have a mutual appreciation society going on….

                                                                                                                          Small DB & her friend Rie

                                                                                                                          Earlier in the day, Small DB and I walked to a garage sale. She wasn’t too excited at the prospect…

                                                                                                                          Hold MY HAND!

                                                                                                                          And then it began to rain. She refused to go in the pram and took off with the only umbrella…

                                                                                                                          DB Vs The Umbrella

                                                                                                                          We bought a $2 hardwood chair, that we took home in the pram. So it wasn’t all bad…we used it for our wondrous and doting guests. Thank you Mr, Mrs and Master H – my extended birthday was a.w.e.s.o.m.e!

                                                                                                                          Reboot. It’s Monday.

                                                                                                                            This time last week Small DB and I planted snow peas…

                                                                                                                            Ready to grow. Snow peas. #garden #autumn #planting

                                                                                                                            A week of growth…

                                                                                                                            A week of growth. Snow peas.

                                                                                                                            We got home from playgroup and I opened the clamshell sandpit that the wonderful T had delivered to us on Friday. It was perfect for a drizzly day… Both of them played together for ALMOST AN HOUR. Dear god…it was bliss. Thank you T!

                                                                                                                            Sandpit clam on the porch. It's a novelty. #rainy day #play i

                                                                                                                            It is Monday. The day where I take a breath and know, generally, how the day is going to pan out. The last few have had a beautiful rhythm to them. The morning is spent at playgroup, we come home and hang about a bit and snack. Small DB is coaxed to sleep once, twice…and then finally it sticks. Small Z and I get some time together for something…anything….

                                                                                                                            Today we planted out 23 cloves of garlic, saved from our successful planting last year. We dug some dirt. I was a princess, Paddington Bear, Daisy-Spell and also, occasionally, myself.

                                                                                                                            Bath, dinner, books, and then bed. Well, bed for the larger one at least. I’m sitting here being bothered by the other one…who’s idea was she again??!

                                                                                                                            Oh – and I found someone had got to my list-making page before me:
                                                                                                                            Every time I open a new page to start a list, she gets there first #4yo #saboteur #dinosaurtragic
                                                                                                                            So hysterical :)

                                                                                                                            Long lost

                                                                                                                              It was easily at least two months ago that I was due to catch up with my dear friend E. She and her Smalls and sometimes her Other Half have visited here far more than we have gone to them. Last time they came here I promised that we would visit their home in Emerald. We locked in a date for late May – after both of our birthdays…

                                                                                                                              Then I took the Smalls to Loch and realised that the drive would just be a disaster. There is no public transportation that would take us anywhere near them in less than three hours. I felt horrible, but I bailed…

                                                                                                                              And in the meantime my lovely friend became pregnant and the school holidays rolled around again. They visited us yesterday and it was SO GOOD to catch up! Our kids are almost exactly the same ages. Small Z and Small E are a month apart. Small DB and Small O are three weeks apart. It was gorgeous to watch them all reacquaint with each other…and it was particularly nice for me to have a WHOLE DAY to natter with my mate.

                                                                                                                              Actually – at the beginning of the day I had two extra Smalls to look after – which was great fun! They were still here when E and her two arrived – so we had a house full of kids. Noisy and chaotic and a good buzz going on. Complemented by cups of tea…

                                                                                                                              The band

                                                                                                                              A whole day to hang out together with mostly agreeable children…we even got some sunshine and a visit to the park. In regard to E and myself – our lives are spiralling in ways we that we could not have predicted. How things will transpire in the near future is also a little cloudy. We have a similar ethos and would love to live closer to each other, but reality has ruled otherwise. We have to take our time where we can grab it. I am hoping that I will be able to be more helpful when her new babe arrives – I *won’t* be pregnant this time!

                                                                                                                              On the porch
                                                                                                                              Playing

                                                                                                                              Feathery, Daphne and Grass…

                                                                                                                                In my new approach to my situation (subtitled: Don’t Wait Until the Boat’s Finished – DO IT NOW!) I went out last Saturday and bought us three chickens. Am thrilled with self.

                                                                                                                                Plans for this have been Small Z’s kindergarten teacher put us on to a free chicken coop that has been tweaked and downsized by M. I have bought straw, molasses, mixed grain, shellgrit and two heavy old saucepans for water vessels. We are now correspondingly poorer…but for a good cause.

                                                                                                                                One thing I hadn’t counted on was having to keep them (ahem) cooped up for a week…but of course we have had to – if we just plopped them out in the backyard they would have been totally discombobulated and probably have flown away.

                                                                                                                                So this week has been about giving them their little routine and keeping them confined to quarters. I am so longing for a still, sunny day where we can sit out the back and have some bonding time. The weather has been of fleeting sunshine, huge gusts of wind and general chill. Over it.

                                                                                                                                Chooks first morning.

                                                                                                                                The names? Each girl in the family got to pick a name for our new girls: Small Z’s is called ‘Feathery’, Small DB’s is ‘Grass’ and mine is ‘Daphne’. They are lovely – I am SO looking forward to having some chook time with them – the coop is a bit small to get in and cuddle them in any comfort. The funny thing is, I’ve been so thrilled by them that for a while, I forgot that they might actually lay us some eggs!

                                                                                                                                I thought that their dinner last night looked very pretty with Small Z’s additions of dandelions….

                                                                                                                                Chooks dinner. Gourmet!

                                                                                                                                Pictures of Feathery, Daphne and Grass to come, once they are free ranging…

                                                                                                                                Egg.

                                                                                                                                  Last night, I dreamt that one of the chickens had laid an egg… This morning the Smalls went to check on the situation. Our hens are young (have never laid before) and it is Winter (not a good time for laying).

                                                                                                                                  Hoping that chooks laid their first egg. #4yo #23mo #morning

                                                                                                                                  However…Feathery (the daffiest and flighty of the chooks), laid us our first egg. The joy and celebration! The Smalls argued over who got to hold it until I whisked it (sorry) away from them for few they would break it.

                                                                                                                                  EGG! An egg!!! #firstegg #cluck #4yo #23mo
                                                                                                                                  Egg!

                                                                                                                                  So perfect and so…well…alien. This CAME OUT OF one of our feathery pets! Totally awesome – but when I think about it…ODD.

                                                                                                                                  We fried it immediately and they ate half each while MWB looked on via Skype. I was pleased to see that the shell was quite robust – the level of calcium that they eat contributes to strong shells. You don’t want your eggshells soft as the chook can then become eggbound – not a place we want to go.

                                                                                                                                  I have great eggspectations for tomorrow morning! It’s shopping day and I don’t want to put eggs on the list!

                                                                                                                                  Acquisitions

                                                                                                                                    There is a habit that M and I share. Although we have little in common other than two Smalls and a dead astrologer, we love…we LOVE…a good bargain. But our tastes appear to differ from the norm. We don’t covet big flat televisions or cars that cost more than $5000 – no – we like old, well-made quirky stuff. Luckily – because we’re not exactly swimming in cash.

                                                                                                                                    Today we were in heaven. The church fete that is on once or twice a year was on this morning. The past two times we’ve been we have mourned arriving there late – all this amazing furniture and stuff sitting with ‘sold’ signs. This morning, Small DB helpfully began her day (with one eye stuck closed – conjunctifuckingvitis) at 5.45am.

                                                                                                                                    This meant we arrived as the market began, at 8am. In the first five minutes I had bought a retro laminex dining table ($10), four old-school chairs ($4) that match each other – not the table, two bedside tables with three drawers apiece ($4)…and as the morning progressed I acquired a glass jug, an old school ice cream scoop, two small glass bowls, a weird heavy glass vessel that looks like it came from an old blender or something – it has cup measurements down one side…an old blue suitcase (always handy…)

                                                                                                                                    Blue Suitcase
                                                                                                                                    Odds and Sods
                                                                                                                                    Tiny glass cup.
                                                                                                                                    Two yellow bowls - similar to Pyrex

                                                                                                                                    Not to be outdone, M got himself a lawnmower ($10), hose-reel, an entire brewing kit with extra cannisters of beer mix including stout/ginger beer/dark ale…I need to ask him what else he snaffled…

                                                                                                                                    The kids were in heaven as there was a petting zoo from our favourite farm, a free jumping castle, free face-painting and Small Z also did cupcake decorating. I walked past a STACK of old plates. There was a pink Johnson plate on top. “Are these for sale?” The guy nearby said, “Nah – they’re for people to smash – you get to throw balls at them for $1 a go…” He must have seen my face, and handed the plate to me… “Take it…” I did.

                                                                                                                                    This Johnson pink plate wa on a pile at the fete for people to throw balls at  I rescued it quick smart. #crockery

                                                                                                                                    And last but not lease, Small DB got a new set of wheels. Which is a big relief to me, as I’ve been bending over to steer her old bike too often over the past week – and now I have a handle….she doesn’t understand steering yet.

                                                                                                                                    New wheels

                                                                                                                                    Shed.

                                                                                                                                      Today gave the kind of weather that leaves me desperate for more. Barely a breeze and Spring sunshine beating down. I could have laid there, batting away children and drinking tea (well actually, I couldn’t but I could have tried to). Instead I buzzed about endeavouring to clean up some of The Shed.

                                                                                                                                      Yes. It earns its capital letters from the foreboding it fills me with when I even begin to consider the state of it. We could do so much with that space! Stick my small boat in it (I have not looked at that site for so long, and have just now realised I let the domain name expire godDAMNit!), stick a car in it, make it into an undercover and away-from-the-house playspace… the list goes on.

                                                                                                                                      However. It holds a fearsome array of crap. Of things we may NEVER use/need/ponder again – things like guitar leads, guitar amps, microphone leads, old wildly outdated stereos, masts, lifejackets, dead digital cameras, dead phones, a dryer, a chest of drawers, a mast or two, tools, old large wicker baskets, the recently acquired laminex table and four chairs and two side sets of drawers and AAAAAAAGH. It’s impenetrable. It reflects the internal workings of my skull.

                                                                                                                                      Today I just tried to tidy the bits around the door. Mostly mine. Should I throw my guitar leads away? Should I sell/donate my bass amp? When the hell will I ever use them again? But maybe…maybe they are the kind of things that I would have BEGGED my parents to keep? Maybe Small Z of the future might be interested? And thus the stacks of crud grow ever higher.

                                                                                                                                      Meanwhile, the Smalls had bubble wrap and a bowl of water to play with. They were still on a high from yesterday when they discovered ELEVEN EGGS from Feathery in a distant corner of the garden. ELEVEN days worth of eggs we had known NOTHING about. Sponge cakes and fritattas are on the horizon…

                                                                                                                                      Hanging with bubble wrap as I have a go at cleaning some of the shed. The weather is just sublimely beautiful. Am wishing we were away in the caravan...

                                                                                                                                      I put a new lid on the chook home with the help of Small Z and my only power tool. I do not own a drill bit – something that has left me incandescent with fury on more than one occasion. I managed it without one. But I’ve got a date with Bunnings in the morning. Some things just need to targeted for the mental wellbeing of all concerned.

                                                                                                                                      Crappiness

                                                                                                                                        I post this after a better nights sleep and it reads like the raving of a freak. But it’s how I felt, and so I shall publish and be damned…

                                                                                                                                        A day where I was less than stellar. Little sleep due to Small DB being unwell left me totally on edge. I screamed at Small Z when she accidentally hit me in the mouth. I now have an attractive blood blister on my lip. And again when she shouted in my ear. Even as I write this I can feel M reading at some point in the future and wincing about his offspring and how they are sometimes trapped with a harridan.

                                                                                                                                        Everything appeared to conspire against me today. There is something about my surroundings that make it impossible for me to just ‘be’. I feel as if I have spent the majority of time over the past two days simply tidying, fixing, washing, cooking, hanging out clothes… But it’s the tidying that really does me in. If I could get it all done in the first hour after breakfast…but I can’t. And I spend all day catching up. Its dire and demoralising.

                                                                                                                                        After I had shrieked again at Small Z this afternoon she sobbed, “I need someone to take better care of me.” There you go M – have you gone to jelly? I have written that in a small orgy of self-flagellation. My priorities are askew and my pre-kid self is shaking her head at me. When did it become so important to have ORDER? When I lost control of almost every other aspect of my life by becoming responsible for two Small people. That’s when.

                                                                                                                                        It may be that tomorrow I take a different approach. The Smalls watched no television show today. If I have another bad night I will prop them in front of a show, or two, in the morning and get this house straight so then I can function as a reasonable human being for the rest of the day. I sound vacuous, ridiculous and fixated. But I can’t help it.

                                                                                                                                        I suggested to Small Brother the other day that he ‘get someone in to clean’ and he barely took me seriously. If I won Powerball on Thursday? I would tell no one. And then I would engage some home help to come for an hour every morning after breakfast while the Smalls and I went for a walk. I’m not kidding. At the moment I feel like it’s a vortex of CRUD that I wage a daily battle against until after I’ve had dinner, when we both call truce, and go to bed.

                                                                                                                                        Which is where I’m going now. Forgive the whine. I’ve had it.

                                                                                                                                        One win? I made yoghurt in the slower cooker last night! I strained it through some fabric and it is just lovely – but my quest was to get TWO litres of organic yogurt for five dollars (that’s what the two litres of milk cost that I made it with). However, after straining it, I was left with a bit less that 1.5 litres. Now I have to google about and find out if this is normal, or I’m having teething difficulties. I’m trying to decrease the amount we spend on yoghurt. I usually make one litre of non-organic Easiyo stuff and that sets us back about $3.60… I need to think a bit harder about this whole thing…

                                                                                                                                        Yoghurt win! Drained it and it's creamily excellent. But not, however, as cheap as I'd hoped. Two liters of organic milk became just under 1.5lt yoghurt. Easiyo is cheaper... bit not as yum. #yoghurt

                                                                                                                                        Biscuits and a bike trailer pram…

                                                                                                                                          No bread. Low on milk. No *gasp* frozen berries. Time for the weekly shop. But, as I mentioned, I have Tantrum McBiteBite – she won’t go in the car (froths at the mouth and claws herself raw when strapped in) – she won’t go in the bike trailer (well, she will, but she won’t wear a helmet – straps – see above) and the pram is too small to do a proper shop. M suggested the bike trailer that we just bought from our departing friends – it’s heaps better than ours because IT TURNS INTO A PRAM!!

                                                                                                                                          Bike trailer pram!!

                                                                                                                                          I drummed it into them on the way there. ONE screamfest…ONE spasm…and I would leave whatever we had in our trolley right in the middle of the supermarket and walk out the door and home. Finito. They could tell I wasn’t kidding. And we survived. I fixed the dodgy front wheel with some gaffer tape and we trundled back home with Small DB and a four big full shopping bags. The bike trailer is SO light, it just worked like a dream…

                                                                                                                                          Back home Small Z and I took advantage of Small DB conking out for double time to make some brownies and a swag of Dark Chocolate Chip and Sea Salt Cookies. There is SO much sugar in these things – and they taste A-W-E-S-O-M-E.

                                                                                                                                          Although it was obvious that it HAD to be – today was better than yesterday. It really was.

                                                                                                                                          Xmas Scuffle

                                                                                                                                            We had Christmas on our own in 2009. My mother was overseas, SWWNBB was away, Small Brother was in London and my dad was somewhere. It was M, Small Z and I. And Small DB inside me like a tiny grain of rice slurping up champagne…but I didn’t know that at the time.

                                                                                                                                            It was lovely, it was quiet. There was a postal strike and most of the presents I’d ordered had not arrived. We ate seafood, quaffed the aforementioned champagne…dozed on the couch and went on a neighbourhood walk. Met a guy with a vintage caravan, chatted…

                                                                                                                                            Since that time we have moved house, Small DB has arrived and my mother and her squeeze have built themselves a new beach shack. Our future, as always, flickers in the unforseeable…but we have not yet had a Christmas in Hastings. There is some possibility that unless we do it this year…it might not ever happen.

                                                                                                                                            Cue: [November 2012] I suggest to my mother that we have Christmas here so M and I don’t have to schlep the Smalls to her place on Christmas Eve and then home again late on Christmas Day…with the prospect of driving to my dad’s place in the country the day after that.

                                                                                                                                            It is odd. Before I’d finished my first sentence she had scuttled under the couch with her hands over her ears. I could hear her chanting, “La la la, you can’t catch me, I’m the one with the Christmas tree.”

                                                                                                                                            I left it a few weeks and tried again. “So…about Christmas. It’s going to be here and I….”

                                                                                                                                            She disappeared again. Ostensibly to go to the toilet or something pedestrian. I wondered if she was attempting to avoid the whole scenario and we would arrive at Christmas morning both wondering where the other was.

                                                                                                                                            Eventually I made her a cup of tea and thus immobilised I demanded that we have Christmas in Hastings.

                                                                                                                                            “Well,” she muttered, looking defeated, “How big will your Christmas tree be? You’re not just going to use that one of Small Z’s – the one that’s a foot high, are you?”

                                                                                                                                            I waited. She sighed.

                                                                                                                                            “Fine. What do you want me to bring?”

                                                                                                                                            V-I-C-T-O-R-Y. Sweet sweet victory.

                                                                                                                                            So far she is bringing some happy ham, crackers (she’s a yank and continues to insist on calling them ‘bon-bons’ – we don’t intervene) and the plum pudding. Can you see my plan blossoming? I’m going to crank out a couple of salads, pretty up the Smalls, cash in the two-for-one shopping coupon on some New Zealand white wine and call it Christmas – without having TO GO ANYWHERE! :)

                                                                                                                                            [NOTE: Some parts of this post have been slightly fictionalised.]

                                                                                                                                            Christmas Eve 2012

                                                                                                                                              M went early to do most of the Christmas food shopping for me. I took the Smalls down to the library for fresh books and to the Post Office where a Large Box awaited me. About ten years ago or so the box would have come all the way from New York (I agree, I am thinking positively) but in this case Small Brother had called me about two days before and squeaked down the phone with some urgency, “Is Small Z still into dinosaurs? What’s her favourite dinosaur? What does Small DB like?”

                                                                                                                                              “Yes. Parasaurolophus. Threading beads,” I responded. In my mind I saw him throw on his ‘SuperUncleFromAfar’ cape and tap with feverish fingers onlinetoys.com.aud – how we love us the interweb.

                                                                                                                                              Thus, we collected the box from the Post Office on Christmas Eve. Hastings was abuzz with people all doing their last minute doodads. I bought my dad a mechanical apple peeler and also a cherry pitter (despite the fact he told me he had already invented the latter on his own) and went to the chemist.

                                                                                                                                              We strolled on an got some stationery supplies from the $2 Shop where they were giving away fried chicken wings and spring rolls. Got back to the car, strapped in the Smalls…and then gasped. I no longer had the Large Box. “The chemist! It must be at the chemist!” said Small Z, hoarse with horror at what I had done. “Run mama, RUN!!” I ran.

                                                                                                                                              Got to the chemist and stood there looking like a displaced racehorse, eyes rolling, breathing hard. No box. My mind, in a cool impartial way, began to try and figure out how I could gloss over the loss of the box to Small Brother and pretend all was well, despite having no idea of what it had contained. Then I spied it behind the counter, thanked the staff in an overly effusive manner, and left bleating ‘Merry Christmas’ carrying the Large Box back to the Thankful Smalls.

                                                                                                                                              An afternoon of pleasant chaos – making two salads, creating Christmas cards to give to our neighbours…the Smalls and I had a lovely time, and ate a Christmas Eve dinner. M had returned home again, and in the face of yet another meltdown from Small DB, appeared to lose all Christmas mojo (…something that continued for another day an a half.) I spent the night wrapping furiously but with some enjoyment.

                                                                                                                                              Christmas Eve 2012
                                                                                                                                              Christmas Even dinner time

                                                                                                                                              Happy Christmas 2012

                                                                                                                                                Christmas Day was quiet. My mother and T came down bearing armloads of happy ham, crackers, divine plum pudding, champagne, seafood…presents… The WORKS! We grazed and the Smalls revelled in the second wave of presents. Small DB developed a penchant for ripping off wrapping paper and her skills in that area grew as the morning progressed. She didn’t actually care much about what was inside the wrapping paper – it was all about the process.

                                                                                                                                                Small Z honed her taste for oysters, which both delighted and disappointed me – I am happy that she’s willing to embrace new things, but unhappy that I will have to share. My mum, when I finally managed to coax her away from the present pile and the tree and into the backyard, was particularly happy with the birdfeeder that M had constructed her.

                                                                                                                                                Prior to pouring my second glass of champagne I called my lovely friend E, to make sure that her baby didn’t plan on arriving any time soon. I was on call to be there to help (her previous labours have both been over 30 hours each). But there was nothing going on and she urged me to have another glass…

                                                                                                                                                The day finished with Small Z seeing her first ever documentary – the beginning of David Attenborough’s ‘New Life’. Although it blew her little mind, she asked questions throughout…but was thrilled to see one of the fossils she had been recently given on there. David Attenborough did not succeed in putting Small DB to sleep, but Heston Blumenthal’s Christmas Special took care of that…
                                                                                                                                                ————–

                                                                                                                                                More presents
                                                                                                                                                More presents
                                                                                                                                                Opening presents
                                                                                                                                                Opening presents
                                                                                                                                                Reading her Xmas book
                                                                                                                                                Ice cream cone!!
                                                                                                                                                The Pud and I

                                                                                                                                                I was the grateful reciever of: a portapotty for the caravan, a Kindle case with a light(!), an autobiography of Cyndi Lauper, four copies of Backyard Farmer, a subscription to The Monthly, some cash, silver earrings, a pottery book and some chocolates… :) Lucky me!

                                                                                                                                                You don’t have to put on a red light…

                                                                                                                                                  Eeeeep! I am sitting here looking different. Like I said – there is no more bleach going on my head. A little bit of reading. One short brain spasm. One swift trip to the supermarket.

                                                                                                                                                  I have bright red hair. That should be BRIGHT RED HAIR. So very bright. I am comforting myself that in order to head back to brownland, you have to go red when travelling from bleach blonde. So instead of throwing on the red and then putting on the brown (this apparently stops the green and muddy look) – I thought I’d have a red week.

                                                                                                                                                  But I will reassess in the morning. There are photos, but I’m too vain to post them. The first one shows bored blonde me, the second shows me bug eyed with dye all over my head and the last one looks like a matchstick. I lack product, so make that a fuzzy matchstick. I am a pseudo beauty-school-drop-out.

                                                                                                                                                  Wait until I get to brownland and begin that whole sad cycle of tinting my hair…and being startled that it turns black. Oh yes. Fun times.

                                                                                                                                                  Slip Sliding Away

                                                                                                                                                    Can’t even remember if I’ve written already about how big a chunk Christmas and all the associated hooha took out of, what I am tempted to refer to as, our routine. *boggle* The end of the structure that kindergarten gave our weeks… smooshed into Christmas (and the birthdays that bookend it)… yeah, well – it was all good…BUT…

                                                                                                                                                    It was only today that I realised how long it has been since a ‘normal(ish)’ week had occurred. You know – the one with me working on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and M at the boat all other days. He has marked (how weird it must to to have a name that is also a verb) the days that he has done boat-work on the calendar thus far this year – and it is scarily minimal.

                                                                                                                                                    Of course tomorrow is a public holiday and we have been asked to lunch in Emerald. And it’s the old toss up – do I ask M to come along because it will be more fun (and easier, wrangling-wise) or do I command him to STAY AND WORK ON THE BOAT?! It will probably be the former – because we all might be hit by a meteorite and at least then we would have seen our friends. Right?

                                                                                                                                                    Meanwhile – today was a home day of baking – biscotti and brownies – and making – pesto and a waterslide

                                                                                                                                                    It has taken five years, but Small Z has finally begun a phase that consists of her pouting, assuming a baby voice, and saying loudly, “I BORED.” I have so far resisted saying, “Well you better go to school then….” I figure I can definitely leave that one for my mother…

                                                                                                                                                    This is happening in the current context of her being unable to sleep and staying up until after 9pm. Death for kidfree time. Ruinous for five-year-old reasonableness and revolting when mixed with The Two-Year-Old-That-Won’t-Nap.

                                                                                                                                                    In the face of I BORED!! I put the hose at the top of the treehouse and announced I’d created a waterslide. It bought me an hour of excellence… :)

                                                                                                                                                    Z goes watersliding!
                                                                                                                                                    DB goes watersliding!

                                                                                                                                                    Matchstick head.

                                                                                                                                                      Oh whatever. Here’s a photo that my vanity deems acceptable for the interweb. Let me state that one of my parents failed to comment on it whatsoever (the other one is on a c-r-u-i-s-e, but would have definitely shrieked in horror) – and my office manager said nothing either (although I did look pretty annhiliated from almost zero sleep – maybe she couldn’t see the red hair because of the red eyes and bags? Michelle, my partner in file slavery – if you are out there, say NOTHING.)

                                                                                                                                                      It has thankfully faded a bit and the Smalls haven’t blinked an eye. Rawr. I still have no good hair product, but that has to change. STAT.

                                                                                                                                                      Matchstick

                                                                                                                                                      Mother’s Day. Six.

                                                                                                                                                        The night before my sixth (!?) mother’s day I went OUT AT NIGHT. I have done that maybe….five times in five years? Two gigs, one birthday, a homeschool meetup and…on this occasion, another 40th birthday party. I went by myself, as we had no one to babysit, but I knew that E&DJ would be there in case I needed people to prop me up. Enjoying oneself when you are at a party on your own really comes down to how confident you’re feeling in the first place.

                                                                                                                                                        I was very keen to go though, because my friend B is born the day after me – same year. And I never see her. Haven’t seen her since Small DB was about six weeks old. I was also keen to catch up with my old flatmate and his wife. I did all those things, and had a blast. I danced, chatted, snacked, drank a glass of champagne and sang ‘Happy Birthday’. I caught up with B’s parents and said hi to her brothers. And then drove the ninety minutes home again, feeling very happy – one of my top two nights of the year!

                                                                                                                                                        When I got home, M had locked the front and back doors. A Freudian slip? It was past 1am and I was loathe to wake anyone, so I snuggled down in the caravan. It worked well – they thought I’d stayed out, and thus I slept for an UNINTERUPTED SEVEN HOURS until 9am. Serious bliss.

                                                                                                                                                        A card from each Small. Some flowers from M. And then a day like any other, with him off at the boat. I did have to have a nana nap in the afternoon while the Smalls watched ‘Octonauts’, otherwise I wouldn’t have made it through. Obviously one is supposed to ponder one’s maternal state on such a day. So there’s this: The Smalls have sculpted me, slowly and surely, into a very different person than I used to be.

                                                                                                                                                        The focus of my existence has shifted. My job is no longer myself, but helping them to become resilient, compassionate, humorous and confident people. They are my works-in-progress, and I am theirs. I have had my brain expanded, my nose rubbed in my judgemental notions, my patience enormofied (yes, that is a word, now), my multi-tasking abilities honed and my power to survive on minimal amounts of sleep taken to a new level.

                                                                                                                                                        From where I am, on this sixth Mother’s Day, I can feel that things are getting a little bit easier. Three of my nights out have been in the past six months. The Smalls are happy to stay at my mother’s house all day. The baby years are evaporating week by week…

                                                                                                                                                        PS Reading back on last years effort (a scarily similar day) I have to say that GOSH I MISS HAVING CHRIS AND JESS AROUND THE CORNER. I now recall our lovely night of mulled wine and impromptu dinner :) …and the short walk home!

                                                                                                                                                        Bats. Innovate, not detonate…

                                                                                                                                                          The weather. We have had some respite. M and Small Z went to a solstice bonfire last night – I would have liked to go, but I couldn’t get Small DB into the car. She refused, screamed, and refused some more – and I suppose she knows her own score. She was exhausted – but I had hoped she would sleep there, in the pram, giving me a chance to nibble and chat. No dice.

                                                                                                                                                          Small Z slept in the next morning, having gone to bed at 9.30pm. We had a day of domesticity – three loads of washing out/in/away. Chicken noodle soup for lunch. Hair combing. Small DB and I planted more garlic that had started sprouting in our bowl, and then put some kale seeds around on top just to see what would happen.

                                                                                                                                                          Small Z became fixated on playing some backyard cricket, but was unable to find our bat. She was ranting, as Small DB and I played ‘find-the-wriggliest-worm’ and stomped inside. I know her. And I just knew what she was going to do. Sure enough, half an hour later she reappeared.

                                                                                                                                                          “I STILL couldn’t find the bat. So I MADE a new one.”

                                                                                                                                                          I smiled. “I knew that’s what you would go and do. Nice one.”

                                                                                                                                                          Z's DIY bat. She's an innovator.

                                                                                                                                                          We had a few hits with the bat – two bits of wood secured with ribbon and sticky-tape. It wasn’t going to hold up for long, so we bashed two nails into it to robustify.

                                                                                                                                                          We played cricket until she hit the tennis ball on to the roof where it rolled into the gutter. She then remembered the hula-hoop that has been stuck up on the roof for over a year…which meant she had to create a ‘Hula-Hooper-Off-The-Roofer’ – the longest stick in the world that was going to get it down…many sticks cobbled together with clothes pegs and hope…

                                                                                                                                                          The DIY bat. Game on!
                                                                                                                                                          Z and her 'Hula-Hooper-Off-The-Roofer' stick...

                                                                                                                                                          [I love her innovation and DIY aesthetic. I'm hoping I have encouraged it along the way. All those times when she wanted a particularly hideous toy from an op-shop we were in when she was three-years-old, I'd say - "Don't worry - we'll make one when we get home." Most of the time she would forget, but sometimes we would go home and make a dinosaur, or a pink Wot-Wot…]

                                                                                                                                                          While all this was going on, Small DB started demonstrating to me something I had never seen her do before. She was a GUN with a soccerball – kicking it into the goal from quite far away. I thought it was a fluke and asked her to do it a few more times. She nailed it almost every time. When she missed she would say, “Nearly! I nearly did it!” This is her tune at the moment – at any meal she doesn’t finish she pushes her bowl across and carols, “I didn’t eat it all BUT I DID WELL!”

                                                                                                                                                          DB kicks a goal. Woo!

                                                                                                                                                          I love these days where the sun kicks in. I didn’t realise until halfway through Autumn that the mirrorball I hung on our porch is to alleviate the Winter blues. It only catches the sun at this time of year, and fills the room with sunspot stars, early in the morning and late in the afternoons. If I go to live in a more tropical climate someday, I will miss the sunshiney winter days – where you get yourself inside by 4pm or begin to shiver.

                                                                                                                                                          On these days our bedroom catches the heat of the sun, and I try to close the curtains and trap it before the cold night air filters in. Thus far I’ve avoided putting the oil-heater in the bedroom – this has been helped by two summer quilts, three wool and two cotton blankets on the bed. Yes – I go to great lengths to avoid a doona.

                                                                                                                                                          The other night I was going to sleep in the caravan and messaged goodnight to M, still inside on the couch.

                                                                                                                                                          “Snuggle up in my sleeping bag with the doona on top – cosy!” he suggested.

                                                                                                                                                          I wrote back. “No way! I am totally toasty under Donna with the man-bag on top of me!”

                                                                                                                                                          Damn you auto-correct!!!

                                                                                                                                                          Chugging

                                                                                                                                                            A rainy morning turned into a sunshiney afternoon. My dad came for lunch and then he and M sailed the trimaran around to the boatyard for reasons too complicated to bother explaining…they involve the trimaran trailer, a trip to NSW and some sails. I’ll leave it there. Having had Small DB under the weather for two weeks has been like living in a vortex…

                                                                                                                                                            There was some scooting…

                                                                                                                                                            Scooting in the winter sun.

                                                                                                                                                            Some sitting around at the boat ramp…

                                                                                                                                                            High tide at the boat ramp.

                                                                                                                                                            And yesterday, unbeknownst to me, Dad had put my new front seat into the Humber. And it rocks…

                                                                                                                                                            My new front seat. Supersnipe.

                                                                                                                                                            Today I got some unexpected (but I suspect, sorely needed) self time – I had a cup of tea at a cafe while Small Z was at her sewing class, and now? As M is home at an hour that is most abnormal, he set me free…and I swooshed straight to the library to tend to my neglecto blog… :)

                                                                                                                                                            Bathing in a bucket in Midwinter…

                                                                                                                                                              This is for posterity. I love how she is just making up all her own words and songs. She went on like this for several minutes…

                                                                                                                                                              I was inside doing the dishes and I heard a s-c-r-e-a-m. There had been a few screams over the course of the day, so I didn’t drop everything and run.

                                                                                                                                                              I got to the porch and poor Small DB was saying over and over, “Get me out, mama. Get me out. There’s a THING. THERE’S A THING!!” She was pointing to what I discovered was a stick insect about two feet away from her. I picked her up and she was so scared she was rigid :( After I took her inside and calmed her down, Small Z and I took her outside and showed her where I had relocated the stick insect.

                                                                                                                                                              We got her to look at it and see how beautiful it was. She nodded and smiled like a pro. When we came back inside she stated, “That thing. That creature? It was walking. I don’t like things that walk. I like things that are DEAD.” And went back to what she was doing. I almost fell on the floor with silent hysteria. She’s obviously genetically linked to her aracniphobic uncle – she won’t go unaccompanied to the toilet for fear of a daddy-long-legs…

                                                                                                                                                              Small DB? She is THREE!

                                                                                                                                                                Small DB turned three on Friday. THREE!!! I could trot out the disbelieving descriptions but we’ve heard them all before. Suffice to say – I no longer have a two-year-old *sob* Both she and Small Z have turned three in this house. Strange for us!! Small Z turned three here a year after we had moved in.

                                                                                                                                                                There was a party to celebrate Small DB’s milestone. I had lists of things coming out of my ears – lists of Small guests, their siblings, their parents. A ‘little’ party with about four guests aged two and three immediately morphs out to include older and younger siblings and parents.

                                                                                                                                                                It was great :) I was keen for Small DB to have a really lovely party, firstly just because OF COURSE! But secondly because her last birthday was so pivotal for her – she talked about it every day for months and months afterward. Being the second kid, not so much is just completely all about her – but that was.

                                                                                                                                                                She began her day with these:

                                                                                                                                                                Daisy-Belle's chosen birthday breakfast. Peaches bottled by MWB.

                                                                                                                                                                Peaches bottled by MWB – she had been eyeing them off for a year…

                                                                                                                                                                Let me just record the menu for posterity (and in doing so, empty it from my brain). It was quite fortuitous that I was a bit behind with the catering. Small DB and I had made hommus the day before – the little ones were getting hungry, so I put out heaps of carrot and cucumber for them to dip in, as well as fruit ‘porcipines’ – oranges with sticks in them with strawberries, pineapple chunks and watermelon balls on the end – my mum churned these out like a party machine. (As well as having made tissue paper pom-poms with the Smalls the previous day – thanks mum!)

                                                                                                                                                                MACHINE! I haven’t mentioned the main thing!! As a member of the local toy library committee (my one official community committment) I get one free use of a mini jumping castle each year. Oh my goodness. M made friends with it immediately and it was a total hit! I don’t see much point in structured games for two and three year olds – they were much happier to bounce…and bounce…and bounce… And the older kids were equally thrilled.

                                                                                                                                                                Milly, Polly, Daisy and Kena

                                                                                                                                                                Whoops. Back to food. I’ll just list it. Raspberry orange jellies, allergy-free chocolate crackles, oven baked potato chips, sausages, colourful brown rice salad, chickpea and cucumber salad, gluten free brownies and of course – birthday cupcakes with strawberry cream cheese icing. And that paragraph basically sums up my brain last week.

                                                                                                                                                                Small DB spent the day being somewhat overwhelmed by the whole thing. She didn’t melt down, but her eyes were bigger than usual and she was a little bit edgy at times. She was super-happy to she her favourite Lucinda Rae :)

                                                                                                                                                                Daisy Belle and Lucinda's Rae :: Love

                                                                                                                                                                …and to have some reading time with the Nana…

                                                                                                                                                                Reading with the Nana

                                                                                                                                                                Everyone filtered away close to three o’clock – but our old neighbours who had journeyed from Kinglake stayed and we convinced them to sleep the night in the caravan – so we had an awesome opportunity to catch up, and also avoided that post-party slump.

                                                                                                                                                                Sweet Small DB is becoming a delicious, hilarious feisty three-year-old. I can hardly believe it. And if there’s anything that should encourage me to post more often it is this – because the past three years have snapped by so fast, I want records, RECORDS damnit! Records that help me hold on to and remember all the things that will otherwise swirl by… Happy Birthday Born-in-a-Car Baby – you’re the icing on our family cupcake.

                                                                                                                                                                DB3

                                                                                                                                                                Sunday Driving and Monday Downtime

                                                                                                                                                                  The weekend was supposed to be rainy. And thus I didn’t take the Smalls to go and camp in the country. The weather, however, had not read the forecast – and it was beautiful. BEAUTIFUL Spring weather. So yesterday we went for a drive. Went to a cafe for smoothies. I had tea.

                                                                                                                                                                  English Breakfast. A welcome break.
                                                                                                                                                                  The Play Tent

                                                                                                                                                                  A playtent in the sunshine. We had chips from our old local fish ‘n chip shop on the way home and took them to the boatshed to eat with M. Ate them one-handed, batting away mosquitos with the other.

                                                                                                                                                                  Big reads to Small

                                                                                                                                                                  We did a lot yesterday and this morning I felt sludge. Why!? It was the first uninterrupted night I’ve had in two weeks – I think my body is in shock! We were ‘supposed’ to go on our Monday nature walk today, but the thought of it made me want to keel over. Instead we have hung out at home. I have thrown out all of my paperwork circa 2002/3/4/5 except about five items. I discovered old lyrics long unseen and threw a lot of them out too.

                                                                                                                                                                  Small Z spent some time on the couch reading to her sister :) – doesn’t happen often. I spent the first half of the day on housework. The rain is now giving all the washing a second rinse… It feels like I needed a slow day – I am so thankful not to have had to do a school run at both ends of it…

                                                                                                                                                                  Seasoning. Flying fox, treehouse and mud.

                                                                                                                                                                    I don’t know how I’d go living in a place without proper seasons. The kind of tropical places where’s its all just wet or dry, hot or less hot. I would miss days like this, that start with a grey drizzle and end up sodden in sunshine – kids with their clothes off playing in the mud and feeding worms to the chooks. Putting the heater on low just as the sun goes down.

                                                                                                                                                                    I suppose what I’m navigating towards is the realisation that I’d prefer to live in a place where it was Spring and Autumn – I would be almost willing to forego Summer and Winter. There would still be enough hot days left in early Autumn to get to the beach, and enough grey rain in Spring to spend days at home in woollies with soup and toast…

                                                                                                                                                                    This was today.

                                                                                                                                                                    Daisy coming in for landing. Flying fox!

                                                                                                                                                                    In the halflight

                                                                                                                                                                      The moon is busting through the gap at the top of the curtains where the clothespeg is supposed to be. I have been dozing on and off since you woke up and wanted your top off.

                                                                                                                                                                      “Too hot. My top is not comfy.”

                                                                                                                                                                      “Sit up and I’ll take it off.”

                                                                                                                                                                      The top is off, and mine is off too, and we settle back down. But it is obvious we are both in the state of semi-dozing – where it feels like no sleep at all. Almost an hour later your little voice comes calm and quiet out of the moonlit gloom.

                                                                                                                                                                      “Mama, I can’t sleep.”

                                                                                                                                                                      “Neither can I,” I whisper.

                                                                                                                                                                      A year or so ago you would not have been able to explain yourself so well and I might have groaned with frustration at the intrusion, back when sleep was like gold dust. But now we share a cuddle in the dark.

                                                                                                                                                                      “Maybe it’s because there’s too much moonlight coming through the curtains,” I say. “I’ll fix it.”

                                                                                                                                                                      I teeter around on the bed, half nude, with the nightlight in one hand, trying not to step on the slumbering six-year-old. I peg the top of the curtains together. The room darkens.

                                                                                                                                                                      “I’ll try one more time to go to sleep, but if that doesn’t work, we’ll just get up. Okay?” you say, like the most self possessed three-year-old in existence.

                                                                                                                                                                      “OK.’

                                                                                                                                                                      Your little arm reaches out to my shoulder, to my chest. Touches and eventually relaxes. Under the blanket I read my Kindle, half of me living in Donna Tartt’s shellshocked New York, half of me hearing the wind and the soft breathing of my present. A train whistles – it’s after 5am.

                                                                                                                                                                      I lie and muse on coeliac disease, cancer, homeschooling, how long it took Donna Tartt to write ‘The Goldfinch” and remember reading somewhere it took her ten years. I wish for a cup of tea and wonder, yet again, whether it would be better to extract myself from the bed by wriggling down and out the end, or…

                                                                                                                                                                      As always happens, one of you stirs and I take that as my cue to sit up and ease out from between the both of you, collecting Kindle, blanket and slippers on my way to the kettle. It is 5.30am.

                                                                                                                                                                      Early wakening is something you read in psychiatric reports – a symptom of depression. I am not depressed. My brain is fizzing. My body is inactive. I pledge to myself that I will go to the beach and WALK ALONG IT. Although, as the next four days are awash with committments, I’m not sure when that will happen.

                                                                                                                                                                      I turn off the gas before the kettle hoots. The wind shushes through the trees and what sounds like a gang of tiny birds whistle through the dark mixing amongst a sprinkle of wind chimes. The day is about to begin. 

                                                                                                                                                                      Goldfinches - from Etsy

                                                                                                                                                                      – Goldfinch picture from Etsy



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