Thursday, October 28, 2010

Moving Part II

Oh my goodness me, what a crazy week!! So far I have packed during every spare minute, and have yet to see any progress in diminishing the stuff we seem to have accumulated...

On Wednesday I collected the keys to our new home, and have gradually been taking toys, food and cleaning products in preparation for tomorrow. Bright and early tomorrow morning, I must be at the unit with my three little munchkins to meet the locksmith, the man delivering the new couch, and the man delivering my new washing machine. All of these things are very exciting, I admit (and I am soooooo looking forward to relaxing on my new couch, watching my new telly, while my husband does loads of washing in my new machine...well, a girl can dream, can't she??) but I am not really looking forward to waiting for the deliveries in an empty flat with three kids. So I just bought heaps of food!!! Result.

I was so sick of packing and cleaning and sorting today that I threw the kids in the car and met up with the gorgeous Casey and her beautiful kidlets at a local play centre. Jack, Phoebe and Jaz had a ball screaming around the centre, while Maisie Mouse and Kayde bopped and dribbled in baby bouncers together. It was so nice just to sit and chat while the kids played, and to be honest I could have stayed all day!! But what goes up must come down...and indeed the kids did crash in a big way once they left the playcentre. Oh lordy, did they crash! I must have spent the majority of the afternoon putting out spot fires while the big kids took turns having tanties and getting into strops...only Miss Mouse was happy, rolling around on the floor and practising her backwards crawling (this is, of course, after she spent an hour screaming in a foul temper at 3am when I wouldn't pick her up...multiple personalities, anyone??)

Anyway, it is late, and we have just arrived back home after taking yet more stuff to the unit. The kids are all fast asleep, but I know it is only a matter of time before Maisie wakes and realises that Mummy will not be picking her up for I will leave you with one giggle for the day. This morning as I clicked everybody into their seat belts, Jack said sweetly, "Mummy, your shoulders are turning into ones like Daddy's." "Sorry, what now?" I replied. "Under your shoulders is black and spiky, like Daddy," he said. I explained that all grown-ups have hair under their arms, but that ladies sometimes shave it away, and I had not shaved it this morning (Shower? Check. Washed hair? Check. Maisie in the highchair eating her breakfast in the bathroom so that I could actually have a shower at all? Check!) He thought about this for a moment, and then asked if the hair kept growing. When I said that it did, he said, "So, you could have hairy wings under your arms, then Mum? Cool!" Yes, Jack, I could. And perhaps if I continue to shower while your baby sister eats her breakfast in the bathroom, and you and your other sister run wildly around the house, then my hairy wings may appear sooner rather than later! Wish me luck that sometime soon I may be able to shower alone...and for longer than two minutes!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Moving: Part I

What are your Sunday nights normally like? Usually I love Sunday nights - typically I manage to get dinner on the table at an early (ish) hour, we get the team into bed ready for another manic Monday, and then I enjoy the Sunday-night smorgasbord of good telly. At the moment I'm loving Offspring and Junior Masterchef...Sunday nights have previously seen me glued to The Biggest Loser, The Good Wife, you know, that sort of telly. Love it.

This week, however, I was deprived of my usual relaxed evening. Now, it wasn't all bad - I DID get to spend the time with my lovely husband. As you may or may not know, we will be moving into a rental house this week while our dream home is being built. We have been relying on the hospitality of my in-laws since the beginning of the year, but due to ongoing delays with the house build, we decided to find our own digs. Most of our worldly goods and possessions have been holed up in storage since April, and herein lies the problem that faced us on Sunday night. When my beloved packed our entire house into a tiny storage area, he did not anticipate that we would be removing any of the furniture (or other crap) out until we moved into our beautiful, (but increasingly elusive) new home. As such, the few things we will be needing this week when we move into the rental, (such as beds, the fridge, aka stuff we cannot do without!!) were located at the very, very back of the storage room.

So. My lovely man and I decided we would pop down to the storage facility after the team were safely in bed (obviously Grandma and Grandpa would be with them - please don't call DOCS!) and rearrange the furniture to make it easier on Saturday. It was only after we had removed EVERY SINGLE ITEM, that is, our entire house's contents, that it was revealed that the job was bigger than we thought. And so it was that rather than watching Offspring in a recliner, with a cup of tea and a baby clamped to the boob, I found myself steadying furniture while my husband pretended to be Bear Grylls, wrestling with a clothes dryer balanced on a fridge. We moved beds, mattresses, the BBQ (which is probably bigger than most people's kitchens), filing cabinets, tall boys, a washing machine, a fridge, a dryer, and many boxes of stuff...all of it really, really heavy!!

We sorted it all out, put the items we wouldn't need at the back of the room and placed the stuff to come with us on Saturday at the front. It was like doing a gigantic (or ormous!) jigsaw puzzle. I will admit it was very satisfying to close the roller door on a tidy, arranged storage unit - but as it was midnight when we finished, I didn't really stop to think about it too much! We arrived home to a squalling baby, so of course I sat up and gave Maisie Mouse a feed. We crawled into bed at 1am. Of course, when I woke on Monday morning I realised that the hard work was only beginning - I have to pack up our belongings at home now!! How can three children have so much stuff?? Stay tuned!!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Things that go bump in the night

Christian, aka the love of my life, introduced me to horror movies when we had only been dating a few weeks. And when I say horror, I mean horror - his favourites are Japanese movies like Ring and The Grudge. Even though I know they're just stories up on the big screen, they give me nightmares and I inevitably end up watching through my fingers. Call me soft, kooky, whatever you like - I believe in ghosts and nothing you say can convince me otherwise!! We had been to see Paranormal Activity at the movies when I was pregnant with Maisie, and it took me three nights to sleep without watching our bedroom door. So when the sequel came out, Christian was uber-keen to see it...while I was reluctant, to say the least. Besides, I thought, how often do we get to go to the movies? Once in a blue moon?? Ha.

Last week, Christian's parents offered to watch the kids for us, so we went to see 'Eat Pray Love'. It was wonderful and I love love loved every minute. We even bought the soundtrack the next day! (and may I say, the kids have boogied along to the soundtrack in the car for a week now, and seem to enjoy it immensely). So I didn't actually think for a minute that we would be seeing the inside of a cinema for at least another 6 months. However, this weekend we were offered babysitting again (I think they are anticipating grandkids-withdrawal symptoms when we move out this week), and you never knock that back, do you? So off we trooped to see Paranormal Activity 2. This time, however, I put some conditions in place. I don't think Christian thought I would actually make him stick to them, but if he wanted me to accompany him to the movies, I would go on the proviso that a) he would not laugh at me when I watched through my fingers, b) he would not insist on telling me what I had just missed in gruesome detail, and c) he would get up with me for Maisie's night feeds. Fair enough?

Well, the cinema was full of teenagers who screamed and laughed and gasped at every loud noise, which actually helped alleviate my anxiety!! To Christian's credit, he did not laugh at me when I sat for a good ten minutes hiding behind my hands, and he didn't tell me a thing until I asked. I managed to miss the really, really, really scary bits, but the audio was enough for my imagination! When we arrived home, Maisie Mouse was having a good yell, so I was able to feed her and forget about the horrors of the silver screen for a little while...and then we all went to bed.

When Maisie woke me around 1am (calling out for a night feed she really doesn't need anymore but which I seem unable to stop), my normally comatose husband surprised me by asking if I wanted the light on. Now, since I have been getting up in the dark, alone, for night feeds for as long as I can remember, this was something new! Like most mums, I have spent hours sitting on my own in the gloaming, feeding or just holding a wide-awake baby. I have seen more movies than is healthy for my over-active imagination, meaning that I probably would not be surprised if I came out of the nursery to find a lady in white sitting on the couch...just kidding!! But when you are sitting there at night with nothing but your thoughts and the gulping of a thirsty baby, all sorts of things pass through your mind. I think about shopping lists, people I need to phone, jobs that need doing, the practicalities of getting a double stroller and a four-year-old through K-Mart without carnage, the funny things that kids have said or done recently - for example, Phoebe announced solemnly yesterday, "Mum, I've done a poo. A ormous poo. It's simply ormous. It's huge." When I had stopped laughing, I realised that I would have to clean up the "ormous" there's a horror story for you!! I suppose I am exceptionally lucky to have such trivial matters to mull over in the wee small hours, as opposed to real (or imagined) horrors, such as a sick child (or a demon in the house, for that matter!) Sometimes I might get caught up in worrying thoughts, which almost always feel much worse at 3am. And as far as unusual noises are concerned? I try to not to pay any attention! (although there was one night when Phoebe's musical bus kept turning itself on...another blog, anyone??)

Maisie only had a short feed (again, I know I should wean her off this feed, but it's just so much easier and quieter to feed her back to sleep...bad mummy, bad mummy!), and I really enjoyed the company. Christian surfed Facebook on his phone (and was quite disappointed at the lack of new status updates during the early hours of the morning) and we chatted - if only night feeds were always this social! I settled Maisie back in her cot and fell almost immediately into a dreamless sleep - thank goodness!! My darling hubby on the other hand, had nightmares all night - karma, anyone??

Tonight being Sunday night, I know the chances of having company during the wee hours will be very slim. It's not fair to expect Christian to sit up with me and then get up at 5:30am for work...but I tell you what, I will not be shy in waking him if I start hearing funny noises, or seeing black shadows creep across the walls...and perhaps I might wreak vengeance of my own sort in the near future - isn't there another Twilight movie coming out soon? That would be enough to give any husband nightmares!!!!!

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Now I know this might seem a little ridiculous, but I don't normally reflect on my day until after Team O'Toole are safely tucked into their little beds. So today's early blog was simply a result of my blog-fast this week, and as a result I have found myself with more to say about today! Put simply, there were a few incidents this afternoon that I really want to remember...and some that I hope I might be able to laugh about one day. Perhaps you might be able to laugh at them a lot sooner than that.

When the kids woke from their naps (Jack didn't nap, he lounged in a chair and whinged about the girls being asleep and WHY couldn't he go outside and ride his bike, WHY Mummy, WHY Mummy, the girls would be ok if you left them to come outside with me, PLEASE Mummy, PLEEEEEEEEEEEEASE), I decided we needed to get out of the house again. So soon, I hear you ask? Well yes, I know we went out this morning for our lovely playdate, and on any normal day this would have been more than enough activity, thank you very much. However, it was warm and I was a bit restless, so I slicked sunscreen (or scun-scream) on them all, went down the high street, bought icy poles (yes, I am the best mum in the world, I know!) and went to the playground. Maisie had a ball screaming with laughter at the kids, Jack and Pheebs burned off plenty of energy, and I was not in the house staring at the unfolded washing. Score.  (I was also not hanging out wet washing in the abnormally hot weather. Oh well.) As we were leaving the park, Jack chose this moment to depart from his position next to the pram and ran about 100m ahead, straight towards a road. I yelled like a banshee at him to stop, and eventually he turned around and came back. Ironically enough I think he expected praise for coming back - the strips I tore off him for taking off like that didn't seem to make an impact! A little shaken, we returned home, and I put Toy Story on just to calm my nerves and keep them all in one place for a while.

I shouldn't have been surprised at the mess Maisie created at dinner time, as her newest trick (which she is inordinately proud of!) is to shake her head when you say 'no'. She also shakes her head when you don't say 'no'; basically, she shakes her head whenever it pleases her, but particularly when you are trying to feed her. Last night I introduced her to avocado, which she enjoyed immensely, along with her vegetable mush and some bread. Trying to get spoonfuls of food into Maisie's mouth while she shakes her head and sways with glee in the highchair is like trying to throw shovelfuls of mud into a hole the size of a 20 cent piece that is 100m away. While the hole moves constantly. And you have a bad throwing arm. You get the idea.

After feeding time at the zoo, the kids were wrangled into their jarmies, Maisie feel asleep on the boob, and the big kids waited for Daddy to get home. Now they are asleep (or pretending - it's hard to tell) and Daddy has gone down the street to get a DVD to make us laugh at the end of a loooooooong week. Perhaps I should have just videoed the kids this week, and my attempts at keeping house? That would have been funny enough I'm sure!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Play days (aka ignoring housework)

It's been a funny old week, in more ways than one! Quite clearly I have developed an addiction to blogging, as since my laptop has been sick I have felt a strange itching in my fingers in the evenings which can only be attributed to an absence of typing inane thoughts. It's probably just as well my blogging-capabilities have been curtailed this week, as I have had to begin a new course of medication to treat an old problem. One of the side-effects of this medicine is drowsiness, so I have been popping off to bed much earlier than normal to cope with Maisie Mouse's night feeds. You might ask: how am I blogging right now? Well, it's the middle of the day, so a) the meds are not in effect, b) the kids are either asleep or having "quiet time", and c) I 'borrowed' my mother-in-law's computer!! Never mind I am typing on the kitchen bench surrounded by the debris of lunch. I am blogging. Happy days!!

This week has seen many interesting moments...Maisie Mouse cut a second tooth...we received a date to move into our rental property...Phoebalina started wearing a tiny little top-knot in her (admittedly still wispy) hair...Jack's kinder started preparing for Prep transition...and I have made a rather lovely discovery. Christian and I have moved around quite a bit in the last few years, and this combined with a stint working overseas and living in the city while at uni meant that I lost touch with a lot of high school friends. Through the wonders of Facebook I have found many of them again, and even though we are spread all over the world it's still nice to touch base with them once in a while. However, as I'm sure you know, being an at-home Mummy can be a little bit isolating at times, especially if your closest friends are not so close with regards to location. So I was absolutely delighted to arrange a playdate with two girlfriends I haven't seen since Year 11, and their kidlets. (Seriously, you have no idea how excited we are to move back home. I get bouncy just thinking about it!)

After a pretty awful day behaviour-wise yesterday, I was a little concerned that the girls would see the less-attractive sides of Jack and Phoebe today. No fear. The kids all mucked in together like old mates, and to be truthful I don't think we heard a peep out of any of them, other than when morning tea was put on the table! It was so lovely to see Hayley and Sandra, and to be honest I could have chatted the day away if we didn't have little people to consider. I came away feeling so happy and re-energised, and I can't wait to have another play with them - with or without the kids!!! Haha. It may be a lifetime since high school (and by the by, I drove past our old stamping ground this morning and saw the Year 12's all dressed up for Muck-Up Day - they looked more than a little lost, and so very young!! Actually quite glad it wasn't me having to go through all that again) but it really doesn't matter. What is important during these years raising our children, whether you work or not, is to maintain the links between friends. I receive so much love and support from my friends overseas and throughout Australia simply through the internet, it's just a pity we can't actually be in the same place. I benefit from the same love and support from my friends within travelling distance - the difference is, we can plonk our kids together to play while we catch up!

And now that I have indulged in a morning playdate and the kids are stirring from their naps, there is a kitchen bombsite awaiting my attention...does anyone feel like an afternoon playdate??

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Awwwwwwww Factor

I'm afraid I have been rather remiss over the last few days with regards to my blog, however, the catalogue of memories has been maintained!! On Friday we had a hootananny with some gorgeous friends - the kids ran wild with their chums, and I love love loved catching up with two of my closest mates from work. After spending the day chatting with the girls, I must admit I am quite looking forward to being back in the thick of it next year (I just need to find a way to smuggle Maisie into my classroom...). On Saturday, the big kids went out for the day with Grandma and Grandpa, and I caught up on housework. Yes, yes, I know I should have been resting etc etc., and I tried to have a nap when Maisie and Daddy were asleep. However, the five minutes I got were not quite enough. As Maisie is teething, the booby has been on-call more often than not, and so I'm afraid my sleepy-time had to happen with a little girly on the breast. Never mind. With Jack and Phoebe out and about, I got quite a bit done, and poor sick Daddy had a big rest. So that was good!

Sunday saw us doing our usual thing at swimming lessons, and as Daddy was still full of bronchitis I was the lucky parent to be in the pool with both of our girls for their lessons. We were very proud of Phoebe, as she was put up into the next level, and from now on won't be needing Mummy or Daddy in the pool with her! It is a little sad (for us) that she will now swim independently, but I am so excited for her. Luckily we still have Maisie Mouse to splash violently and push water up our noses every week for a little while longer.

When we arrived home yesterday afternoon, the kids were pretty tired and Christian was feeling quite awful, so we had a very quiet evening. It was a fairly standard weekend but still lovely in it's own way as the five of us spent time together without manically rushing around trying to achieve the unachieveable. Last night I was thinking about my neglected blog (and my sick laptop, which is the reason why the adventures of Team O'Toole have not been avidly described for the past few days...) and it became apparent that there have been several moments of undeniable "awwwwwwwww" moments over the last few days. You know what I mean - those times when your kids do or say something and it's just so beautiful, or funny, or sweet that all you can do is tip your head on one side and say "awwwwwwwww!" Pathetic, I know, but true all the same!

* Yesterday morning Phoebe ran in breathlessly and exclaimed, "Daddy! There's a beetle stuck upside down in a spider's web and you have to help him!! You have to get him out!!" How gorgeous is that? Of course, Jack then added dryly, "Yes, because otherwise the spider will suck it's blood out like in 'Charlotte's Web'." Thanks for your help, Jack. That really helped your sister's hysteria.

* Last night I was holding Maisie on my hip, talking to Christian, and she put her little hand on my face, pulled me around to face her, and planted a big kiss on my cheek. I looked at her and said, "Thank you darling! Do you want a kiss too?" And she turned her chubby pink cheek towards me so I could kiss it. Awwwwww!!!!

* I overheard Jack and Phoebe playing today, and Phoebe was getting tired. Jack asked her, really gently, "Do you know where your Lucy is, sweetheart?" What a little gentleman! He makes me so proud.

* This afternoon after lunch, I found Phoebe asleep in her Daddy's lap. Both of them had their mouths slightly open, and were snoring gently. Awwwwwwwww!!!!

* While the girls were asleep, we allowed Jack to go outside on the driveway to ride his bike. I looked out the window and saw him circling the drive, narrating his own riding with a little song. He had a dreamy smile on his face, and he was singing loud enough to be heard by the neighbours, with no inhibition or embarrassment whatsoever. He looked so little and happy that I wanted to bottle that moment.

* Phoebe had disappeared, and I found her wearing only undies, a t-shirt and a bike helmet (?), very carefully putting her babies to bed underneath Maisie's swinging chair. One of them must have started crying, as she gingerly picked it up, cradled it's head and started crooning to it, lulling her doll back off to sleep. When she spied me watching her, she put a finger to her lips and whispered, "Ssssshhh, Mummy. Don't wake my baby. She's so tired, poor thing." And then she kissed the doll and tucked her back into the makeshift cot under the chair. My heart might break, I think.

Just a normal weekend, with many normal and not-so-gorgeous moments (Maisie discovered biting nipples is funny; Jack needed to use the toilet in The Good Guys and sat and sang while he ahem, did his thing; Phoebe continued her quest to enter the Guinness Book of World Records for the highest number of poppies done in a public place) Yet I know that I won't remember the yucky smells or the embarrassing moments (the grazed nipples, however, are another matter...) in a few years. What I know will stick in my memory are the little gems when my kids just made my heart melt. When they are teenagers, I will remind them about how they used to greet Maisie every morning with "Hello precious girl!", how they would kiss the top of her head and put their downy cheeks together, how Jack would drop everything to help Phoebe learn how to push the pedals on her new bike, how I could stay for hours and watch Jack and Phoebe while they sit, so close their legs touch, bike helmets on their heads, heads both cocked to one side, watching Play School together. In the course of one normal weekend, I found myself close to tears so many times simply because it feels as though my heart might break with love. I would give anything to bottle these moments, and yet I don't want to live my life looking through a video lens. And so instead I will bore you all to tears with my awwwwwwww moments....and hope that there might be many more.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Maisie Mouse and Trinkabell: Poo-Machines

Little Miss Phoebalina Ballerina has just recently begun the exciting process of toilet training. Although I know many children begin this journey around the age of two, neither of us has been particularly fussed to start any earlier. Apart from anything else, the complicating factors of a new baby sister, the unsettling emotions following our home invasion, and the move into Grandma and Grandpa's house have all managed to put potty-training onto the back-burner. However, within the space of a week, Phoebalicious turfed the dummies (something we were dreading, as she was practically a high-dependency unit all by herself) and decided she wanted to wear undies like a big girl. And I have to give her credit, as she surpassed the potty altogether and went straight to sitting on the big toilet. As a matter of fact, the majority of this past week has found Phoebs sitting on the toilet, doing a million teeny-tiny wees and using enough toilet paper to bring a tree-hugger to tears. She loves the whole process of removing her undies, dragging the stool across the bathroom, singing whilst sitting, washing her hands with far too much soap, and doing it all over again, ad nauseum. We haven't quite progressed to number twos on the toilet yet, but I would have been stunned if we'd reached that point already.

During our gorgeous day with Gertrude and her boys yesterday, it became apparent that Phoebs was having a few...ahem...issues with her bowels. Rather than dealing with the problem in one fell swoop, we received little parcels no less than five times whilst visiting our friends. By the end of the day, I had cleaned my poor little girl up about eight times, and it was clear all was not well in her tummy. Still, she soldiered on, insisting on removing her nappy to go to the toilet despite a red raw botty. Today we were once again catching up with Gertrude and her little family before they went home from their holiday. I had hoped we would bring fewer brown smells to the group than yesterday, but no. This morning, in addition to my potty princess having frequent visits to her porcelain throne, Maisie decided to add her tuppence-worth to the stink in the house. So I pretty much ran from pooey nappy to pooey undies (and then Jack joined in and I had to wipe his bum too!!) several times, until all I could do was laugh. This afternoon, while dressed in her 'Trinkabell' costume, Phoebe giggled, "Mummy, I'm Trinkabell Poo-Machine, aren't I?" Obviously that's not a moniker I would use in public, but it was still pretty funny (and pretty apt!) I think Maisie surpassed her big sister at the end of the day, however, by filling her pants with such supreme effort that it came out of the neck of her skivvy. And no, I'm not exaggerating. And yes, she did laugh - a great big belly laugh that continued long after her emergency bath!

I am crossing my fingers that Phoebs feels a lot better in the morning, and that her bottom starts behaving. She has been so excited about being a big girl and using the toilet, I want her to experience the success she deserves. With any luck, things will improve and we'll go back to running off to the bathroom every ten minutes with glee, to produce a trickle of wee-wee. And then, my only problem will be getting her out the door to go to tomorrow's playdate...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Joined at the hip

Gertrude and I have been best friends since high school. To be perfectly accurate, we have been friends since our year level coordinator asked her to have a BBQ to welcome the new girl before the start of school, and I'm pretty sure that's when the laughing began. We lived together for three years while we were at uni, having waaaaaaaaay too much fun. We went to England together and lived above the pub where I worked for a short time (which was apparently very intriguing to the male clientele of the establishment!!). We shared a hen's night, have been each other's bridesmaids, been pregnant together twice, laughed together, cried together, and shared so many wonderful times. She is more a sister to me than a friend, and I hope she knows she is part of my family. I remember joking with Gertrude once (on one of the many rambling walks around Melbourne we would do during our years at uni) that when we grew up and got married, we would have to live next door to each other, and would force our children to be best friends too. Unfortunately, we did not quite manage to acquire houses next to each other (despite my best efforts at trying to convince Christian the commute wouldn't be that bad), and in actual fact we live quite a drive away from each other. I won't complain about this though, as her husband's work takes her interstate every few years, so simply to have her in Melbourne is brilliant! However, we spent the day together today, and I am quietly very excited about something we saw.

Between the two of us, Gertrude and I have five children (gosh, that sounds a lot when you put it that way!) Jack is the eldest at four and a half, Phoebalina is three, Max is almost three, James is 11 months and Maisie Mouse is 9 months. Our kids have always played well together in the way that very young kids do (I think probably due to the fact that Max is fairly quiet and he allows Jack and Phoebe to be the noisy ones!!). Today, however, there was a new level of friendship between our little people. Jack was at kinder, which made the kid-wrangling today slightly more manageable. From the moment we arrived, though, Phoebe and Max were pretty much inseparable. They jumped on the trampoline together, hugging and giggling. (No worries about Phoebe holding her own, though - she allowed Max two hugs, and when he went in for a third she said imperiously,  "No! No more hugs!" and held up her hand to stop him. Poor Max!) They played quietly inside while it was raining. They sat side by side in the cafe and ate their chippies together...although this peaceful act may have had more to do with protecting their own stashes of chips...When we went back to the house after lunch, they settled down to watch Postman Pat together. They were perfectly happy with each other's company, which made me wonder...maybe Gertrude and I could be mother's of the bride and groom together one day!! Why not? It's possible!!!

And if Phoebe and Max didn't pan out, Max was also pretty taken with Miss Maisie Mouse (some people would call this fickle. I call it social networking!). He was so gorgeous, lying down on the floor with her and smiling away, trying to get her attention. It could totally work!! And Phoebe is already so obsessed with little James that she has named one of her baby dolls after him (except it's a girl doll and wears a pink sparkly suit. Never mind.) If Phoebs' and Max's friendship didn't persevere, there's no reason at all why we couldn't have a double wedding between Phoebe and James, and Max and Maisie...

Oh, I know I'm being ridiculous. But I must say it was simply gorgeous today, to sit and chat with my best girly, while our children enjoyed each other's company. There were no squabbles, no one was left out, and nobody wanted to go home! Quite truthfully, I could do it every single day (I just need to try a bit harder to convince my darling hubby to move interstate...) I realise that our kids may not always be good mates, but for the moment it's lovely that they play well together. Gertrude and I have spent so many of our important moments together, I don't think anyone would begrudge me a little daydream about our kids getting married one day...who knows - we may yet still be joined at the (replacement) hip, watching our mutual grandchildren play together!!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Queen of Disinfectant

I think most new mothers express a desire for an instruction manual to explain their new baby at one point or another. Having been a mummy for over four years now, in my humble opinion postnatal women should be discharged from hospital with a kit containing rubber gloves, plastic bags, a face mask and PineOCleen. Never mind learning how to burp a baby properly, or top and tail, or swaddle tightly so that they feel safe and secure. During prenatal classes, we should be taught how to mop up spills and bodily fluids - this is a mother's bread and butter. Tonight's blog is dedicated to my children, but a special mention goes to my darling Maisie Mouse, who continues to amaze me with her inventive ways of covering me with the products of her digestive system.

Over the years I have cleaned up hundreds of vomits. Jack was a projectile vomitter extraordinaire - thanks to his reflux and allergies, the poor little bugger would bring up his dinner every single night as soon as I lay him in his cot. This is no exaggeration - one night I went through fours sets of cot sheets before I had to make his bed up with beach towels. One night when he was really tiny, I put him down in his bassinet, crept into bed, and in the dark heard an almighty vomit. We leapt out of bed, threw on the lights.....and nothing! There was no spew, not a single drop, and Jack was just lying there blinking at us. It wasn't until months later when we were moving house, that we moved the bassinet and found a dried trail of vomit on the wall. He had spewed THROUGH the wicker holes in his crib. Now that's impressive! Since that time, Jack has vomitted on me more times than I can remember - in my face, down my cleavage, in my hair, into my crotch...but mostly down my cleavage. Let's just say I have become an expert in removing lumpy vomit from clothes, floors, couches, car upholstery, pets...

Vomit is pretty horrible but there are some fluids that make you want to liquid baby poo. I'll never forget the first 'atomic' nappy I experienced when Jack was tiny. I knew something was awry when my normally regular-as-clockwork baby hadn't pooed for two days. Stupidly, (first-time mother ignorance!!) I popped him into the Baby Bjorn and went supermarket shopping. It was while standing at the register with a full trolley that the heavens opened...oh my goodness, but it was warm. Jack gave a happy little grunt, went back off to sleep, and the warmth crept up my chest, and down my legs...To this day I don't know how I got home, but let's just say I didn't go back to that particular Safeway for quite some time. Both Phoebe and Maisie have had their fair share of atomics. All I will say is that I have become adept at running a bath, while holding a wriggling baby under one arm and my nose in the other!

Maisie Mouse has taken after her brother in the projectile stakes, and some may even say she has surpassed his lofty standards! As a tiny baby she would do the standard milky spews, always managing to miss the cloth being held under her chin and splashing the floor, couch, me... Since she has been unwell with bronchiolitis, her vomitting has been triggered by coughing fits. Typically we clean up at least one spew a night, so I am fairly well-attuned to the sounds that precede a splash-attack. Recently Maisie has caught me out with some tricky manouvres, and I have copped it in the eyes and mouth a couple of times. Tonight, however, she upped the ick factor by several degrees. She had a really good breastfeed and was drowsy and relaxed. I started to carry her to bed when she started coughing violently, and I ran to the tiled area before the retching began. Foolishly, I thought she was spent and stood up to wipe her mouth. As I turned to speak to Christian, a stream of warm vomit made a direct beeline into my ear canal and my hair, and began dripping down my neck into collar. Maisie laughed and clapped, and I started laughing hysterically because it just felt so revolting! Even after a shower, I still feel squishy (you can't pour PineOCleen into your ears, apparently) and a bit mank. Maisie must feel brilliant, because she went straight off to sleep!! Never mind. I will clean up their messes, their bodily fluids and their germs, because one day, one day, I will be an old lady, and then it will be their turn to clean up mine!!!!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Pyjama Day

What a magnificent day it was today. We had a lovely morning just lolling around in our jarmies - I'm afraid I was a little slow off the mark this morning, as Maisie Mouse had given me a battle royale going to sleep last night! Poor little girl has been very unwell for so long, but there comes a point when all babies need to go to sleep, and all mummies have reached cracking point in terms of sleep deprivation! I have slept so many nights lately with a little girly tucked under my arm, and as much as I love the cuddles, and understand that she just needs her mummy, I am not functioning during the daytime anymore. So I insisted that she went to sleep in her own cot last night, and it took a while to convince her that she would be ok. As a result of this, the team and I weren't that concerned about getting dressed this morning. The big kids watched Play School (or Circle, as we call it) and played intricate imaginary games. I put on several loads of washing and pottered around in my nightie...the poor neighbours might start needing therapy soon! Phoebe took great pride in doing wees in the potty every five minutes or so, and would then spend the time in between wees trying to put her shorts back on again. Maisie eventually rolled out of bed and had a little play, before going back for another nap! Little witch.

When we eventually got around to donning clothes, the kids played outside in the sunshine while I pegged out the multitudes of washing and Maisie rolled on a blanket on the grass. We had lunch, Phoebs had a little catnap, I folded washing. We ventured out of the house only once, for a trip to the chemist to get eyedrops for Maisie's conjunctivitis (ask a three year old to pronouce that one!) It was a lovely, lazy day, and do you know why? Because we didn't need to do anything, or be anywhere, and days like that are numbered for our little team. It only dawned on me recently that with Jack starting Prep next year, we will no longer have days that start slowly. Even when I am not dashing madly off to work in the mornings, and the girls do not have to run into daycare, we will still have to be up to take Jack to school. As I plan to be completely dressed at the school gate (well, most of the time, anyway!), we won't be able to cruise gently through our mornings as we generally have on the days when I don't work. I realise this probably makes me look like a complete sloth...but I suppose it's just a lovely little bonus of being a stay-at-home mum. Some of my favourite times with my kids have involved just hanging around in our pjs, fuzzy bedhair in abundance, snuggles on the couch with stories, and a relaxed atmosphere that only comes from a completely empty schedule. When Jack starts school in February, even a completely blank calendar will have the school run written on it.

Don't worry, I know there's a silver lining - if I am up, dressed and in the car every morning by 8.15, I'll be more likely to get organised in terms of housework, grocery shopping, bill paying...

Gee, I'm going to miss our pyjama mornings.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


What a weekend! I'm afraid blogging moved a fair way down the list of priorities during the last two days, but that doesn't mean I wasn't thinking about you...

On Friday night, Christian and I went up to the city for the 3rd Annual Gala Ball held by the Warwick Foundation. We had been invited by the divine Anna and her gorgeous husband Adam - otherwise known as the custodians of mad roosters (update: the nasty rooster is now chasing people in the big chicken coop in the sky...I can't say I'm devastated...) to attend this swanky do, and you all know how excited I was. I managed to get the house organised, finish the washing, wangle my way through a hairdresser's appointment with the two girlies in the pram, and get gussied up in time to leave with Christian on Friday arvo. When I was dressed and had put on makeup and some beautiful (borrowed) bling, Phoebe gasped and said, "Mummy! You look like a lady!" (Funny that. I always thought that's what I was...) Jack looked me up and down, and remarked, "Oh, Mumma, you look beautiful. I really like your black eyes." Apparently, that's what my eyeshadow looked like! Let's just say my children don't see me tricked up in posh gear and lipstick very often.

The Warwick Foundation is a fundraising organisation for young people with cancer, so as well as a dinner there was a silent auction and various other fundraising activities on the night. It's incredible, really, the prevalence of cancer in our society, and the majority of us have been touched by it in our families at least once. But the day-to-day nuts and bolts of living with, and dealing with cancer are usually glossed over to prevent causing offence or upset. I was blown away by the honesty and bravery of this room full of people, both the people fighting cancer and the carers, family and friends who support them. To be perfectly truthful, I felt a bit useless sitting there, as I wanted to jump up and DO something to help...but I had no idea what I could do. My grandfather was not a young man when he died of cancer, but he certainly looked at the world through a young man's eyes. I thought about what he would have suggested I do, given the fact I am a humble teacher and not a top oncologist. Pa was 76 when he died, and I know for a fact it was nowhere near enough time for him. I also know that even though I have nothing in my experience to compare with cancer, if Christian had waited an hour to call the ambulance, or if there had been some other delay, I would have run out of time at the age of 33 when I contracted post-natal septicaemia. And so, in a room full of young people all courageously facing the battle of their lives, what could I do? What would they suggest to those fortunate enough to have their health?

I'm sure that both my Pa, and all of those facing this horrific disease would tell me to take life by the horns, regret nothing, and be grateful for that which has been graciously bestowed upon me. I did a bit of a blog-trawl this morning before we went out for the day, and funnily enough there were many mummies out there in blog-land today describing the things they are most grateful for. And so I decided to make a list of the things that I am grateful for at this point in my life, in honour of those who bravely shared their life experiences with me on Friday night.

* I am grateful for having a wonderful man to love, who is a fantastic husband and a beautiful father, and who has shared my life for nearly 8 years. I consider every anniversary a bonus, and the only reason I tell him I love him every day is because I mean it, and I don't want him to ever wonder how I feel about him.

* I am grateful for being blessed with three children who are healthy enough to eat me out of house and home, have brains that work well enough for them to be cheeky and hatch cunning plans, and who love their family fiercely enough to have no inhibitions whatsoever in terms of their behaviour! (By the by, the hairdresser on Friday asked if I'd had them close together to "get it over and done with". Ah, no, as a matter of fact I was lucky to have any of them at all...and I'm trying to make every moment last, not hurry their childhoods up and out of the way!)

* I am grateful for an amazing collection of family and friends who are always there to support me, laugh with me, cry with me, share with me, give me reality-checks when necessary, and go shopping with me for shoes when things get really tough.

* I am grateful for having a job I enjoy, a safe roof over my children's heads, pets I can love and nurture, and to live in a place where I can simply enjoy a normal day, being a housewife...ahem...domestic goddess.

Sitting at the dinner table on Friday night, I realised in a moment of clarity that tomorrow is not promised. Regardless of health, wealth, age or gender, none of us can take the chance that we have all the time we would like. The time to be happy is now. I will not necessarily be happier when I am getting more sleep, or I am earning more money, or when I have lost all my baby weight. I will not feel more contented if I find the bottom of the ironing basket, or completely de-cluttered the house. I refuse to be stressed over delays in the construction of our new house, as we have a perfectly functional roof to live under in the meantime. At this particular point in time, I have a husband, children, parents, siblings, grandparents, cousins, aunties, uncles, parents-in-law, brothers-in-law, and an entire extended family overseas, and many wonderful friends to love. I have much to be grateful for. So tomorrow, when I get up after a night of broken sleep breastfeeding a sick baby, with a persistent cough myself, and the kids are squabbling, and Christian is at work for another 13 hour day, and I have housework coming out of my ears, and I end up wearing an absurdedly long t-shirt in an attempt to cover my mummy-tummy, I will smile, and be grateful. Because how sad would I be if any of these elements were missing from my life? One thing is for sure - I don't want to miss a moment, and I'm going to enjoy every single one.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Speed humps and champagne

Tonight's the night - Mummy and Daddy are leaving Team O'Toole in the capable hands of Grandma and Grandpa and heading out with...wait for it....grown-up friends!!!!! As I'm sure you already know, I have been dealing with a rotten, stinking cold since Tuesday. However I am determined not to let that ruin my night (and besides, it's been so long since I had an alcoholic beverage I reckon I might be a Cadbury's chick tonight...). So the preparations for this evening's festivities have not yet gone quite to plan...I was supposed to deal with a few body-maintenance issues last night but a little lady who woke early for her night feed put paid to that. It did not help that she woke again at 1am and called for room service, leaving me wide awake at 2am!! Why do head colds always feel so much worse at 2am?

So here I am, mid-afternoon, Team O'Toole all fast asleep in their beds. And what have I achieved so far today?
* A shower (excellent start!)
*Clean hair and shaved legs (already waaaay ahead of expectations)
* Folded three baskets of washing, put on two loads of washing (not related to night out, but still necessary!)
* Put Phoebe on the toilet for wees approximately 32 times (why, oh why did I start toilet training yesterday??)
* Cleaned up one accidental poo in the undies (enough said)
* Breastfed Maisie twice (thought I'd top her up before the big separation)
* Cleaned the kitchen after breakfast, morning tea, and lunch (and you probably can't tell anyway)
* Blown my nose approximately 196 times
* Put kids in the naughty spot three times

And now I'm sitting here with an hour and a half before my blow-wave appointment (yes, I'm going all-out tonight!!!!) thinking about all the things I need to do, such as:
*Put away folded washing before Team O'Toole wake up and destroy it
* Hang up wet washing before it dries in the basket and smells funny
* Brush washed hair before going to hairdresser's
* Clean kitchen after afternoon tea
* Breastfeed Maisie again
* Potentially put Phoebe on the toilet for wees every five minutes after she wakes up and remembers the joys of toilet paper
* Blow my nose every three minutes until I have had two champagnes and forget to do it anymore

The question is, will I get through my list this afternoon? Will I go to the ball minus one glass slipper? Will I care about any of this after a few glasses of bubbly? The answers to all these questions and more, coming your way tomorrow. And now - I hear a little voice coming from the nursery...and the voices in my head are getting louder in their clamouring for champagne......

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Social, sniffly Sal

I'm sure it's obvious to all and sundry by now that my social life is fairly quiet. Most likely there are some people out there who think I have entered the twilight years already, so infrequent are my forays into the realms of evening entertainment. So it was with giddy glee that I began to plan for a night out with some gorgeous friends of ours (Anna and Adam of mad-rooster fame, to be precise!). When Christian and I received our invitation, I realised that I had nothing to wear, so of course I would need to go shopping (and when I say "nothing to wear", this time I actually mean it. Unless I was to attend a cocktail function in jeans and a stained maternity t-shirt, or perhaps trackies?) Christian moaned and groaned and made all the usual noises about me being let loose in a shopping centre, and then smiled and said, "Go on, babe. Get something nice." What a sweetheart!!

I knew it would be no small feat to find an outfit that a) fitted, b) didn't make my breastfeeding boobies look more enormous than they already are, c) was comfortable, and d) was reasonably priced, so I decided to go shopping on Tuesday when I only had Maisie with me. I dropped the two big kids off at kinder and daycare (I always feel like the biggest hypocrite leaving Phoebe in daycare and then going shopping...even if it is only one day a week, I still feel like I'm cheating!) and after a quick appointment at the doctor to check Maisie's asthma, we headed off to the shops. Maisie always loves going shopping, as there's crowds of people she can shout at and watch, so she's always really good. I tried on lots of dresses, skirts and blouses, including the ones suggested by well-meaning shop assistants that made my chest look like the front of a battle ship. Surprisingly, I found a lovely outfit that was not ridiculously expensive and covered most of my lumps and bumps, so I was pretty chuffed. It was while I was looking for shoes that I began to sneeze, but I didn't think anything of it. Just before we left, I stopped to buy some water as my throat felt a bit sore, but the airconditioning in those joints always makes me feel stuffy. During the drive back to kinder to pick up the kids, I realised my head was becoming really hot, and my sneezing grew to the point I was driving through witches' hats in roadworks with my eyes closed for two or three sneezes at a time! (By the by, is it just me, or is there an epidemic of roadworks at the moment? You can't drive anywhere without doing 40kph on horrible bumpy gravel) I refused to acknowledge the obvious, and drove resolutely home with the kids in the back seat, sneezing every few minutes and feeling absolutely dreadful.

Yesterday I felt like death warmed up (and thus, no blog last night!). It is just a head cold, but unlike days of yore when I could either have a day in bed to knock it on the head, or go to bed early after work with a pharmacy of cold and flu drugs in my system, these days I have broken sleep, I cannot take anything to make me feel better because of the breastfeeding, and I can't find anybody to be a substitute Mummy while I am ill. Bleurgh. But because this will be our first completely child-free night out in almost a year (and a pretty swanky one at that!) I am determined to enjoy every minute! Today I still look absolutely dreadful with a streaming nose and a puffy Jabba-the-Hutt neck. (I am a glamourous creature, I know!) So to detract from my less-than-appealing physical attributes, I went hell for leather in the beauty department - something I haven't done in a long time.

Tonight I left my pyjama-clad children with Grandma and Grandpa, and scooted down the high street to get my eyebrows waxed. On my way home I stopped in at K-Mart and bought new mascara, a lippy and some nail polish. As soon as I get off this machine, I'm going to file my ragged nails, attempt to chainsaw the overgrowth on my legs, and wash the baby vomit from my hair (I'm telling you, I'm a glamour puss!!) Tomorrow I'm getting my jewellery cleaned, and I may even get a chance to paint my nails...but I'm not holding my breath. Once upon a time, this would have been the lead-up to any normal weekend. These days...well let's just say that Christian may not recognise the woman who goes up to the city with him tomorrow night - with any luck I'll have clean clothes on, washed hair, some semblance of makeup...that's about as much as I can hope for! And even if my stinking cold is still hanging around, I am going to have a ball, of that I am sure. It will be brilliant to spend a night with our friends without even having to think about unexplained tantrums or nappies. And I am definitely looking forward to spending time with my husband, whom I don't see nearly enough. I hope he knows how much I appreciate my new threads (and all the bits and bobs that were 'necessary' to complete the look!) And I know that when we arrive home after our night out, I will go straight to the nursery to check on my babies, to listen to them breath and inhale their baby scent, for I will have missed them terribly! Typical. And that is why, despite all the excitement and preparations and declarations that THIS time I will maintain a beauty routine, that my social life is so decrepit. Oh well. At least I know how pathetic I am! Bring on the bubbly!!

Monday, October 4, 2010


Once again, it's rather late at night and I should be getting ready for bed...but I seem to be addicted to this blog! It's free therapy, I guess...and I know that if I don't put my thoughts into cyberspace I'll just lie in bed thinking them anyway, so why not make someone laugh at my misfortunes?!?

The kids and I were heading into the city with Grandma today (my MIL), so it was action stations. Being the first day of Term 4, Christian was off and away by about 6am. Maisie woke for an early feed and promptly fell asleep in my bed, which suited me fine. I was actually doing well for time (initially), as the big kids were fed, dressed and not killing each other by the time I went for a shower (one of the perks of living with the in-laws is the extra eyes when you need to do something tricky like shower, or go to the toilet without a toddler in tow). I was supposed to pick Grandma up from the shops at 9.15, but when Maisie was still asleep at 9am I knew we were in trouble. I wanted to phone my grandmother, Argie, as it was her 83rd birthday today. Even though we saw her yesterday for her birthday, I wanted to wish her a happy day, so I woke Maisie, dialled Argie's number, got Mais into the highchair and began shovelling Farex in her mouth. My mistake was allowing a jovial Jack to entertain his baby sister while she was having breakfast. Before I knew it, Maisie was laughing so hard she was spraying Farex and spit all over me, the highchair, and Jack. Brilliant. Just to seal the deal, she then sneezed violently so that a fine coating of cereal and opaque bodily fluids covered her little growsuit, meaning that I would definitely have to change her before our departure. At this point, Jack tripped over some unidentifiable object whilst standing perfectly still, and banged his elbow on the wooden table. His howls of pain brought Phoebe to the kitchen, and her mirth at seeing Jack's tears brought a fresh round of sobs. In his infinite wisdom, Jack then decided that a hug from Mummy would make him feel better, and wiped his tears and snot onto my blouse. I must say, I looked quite fetching with a veneer of Farex, sneeze particles (snot), tear drops and the products of a runny nose (more snot) covering my previously acceptable attire. (I don't know about you, but I usually chuck on something clean in the morning and hope that not many people see me. When I'm heading to the city, it's a lot harder...when you are simultaneously trying to hide a mummy tummy, and trying to breastfeed discreetly, blouse choice is critical!) Argie quite graciously let me get off the phone at this point (I think she was laughing pretty hard, to tell the truth!!) Somehow, I found another clean shirt, rubbed the wrinkles out with my hand, cleaned Maisie up, consoled Jack, made three Vegemite sandwiches, remembered to put the double pram in the car, strapped three kids in, and went to pick up Grandma, all the time wondering if it was beer o'clock yet. (It hasn't been beer o'clock for oh, about 5 years now, but the drought's gotta break sometime, doesn't it?)

Anyway, we had a lovely day in the city, with only one meltdown between the three of them! Is that some sort of record? They all took it in turns to have a little nap in the pram, Mais had a go at shouting at strangers from the Baby Bjorn, I bought some lovely new measuring cups in the shape of Matriouska dolls, and I didn't have to clean the floor after our lunch. Score! What made this day golden was the fact that when we arrived home, tired and footsore (or raring to go and full of pep after a nap in the car, take your pick), Daddy took Mummy out for Thai, leaving the three musketeers with Grandma and Grandpa. So I didn't have to clean the floor after dinner, either!!! Now that's what I call a good day!!!

Saturday, October 2, 2010


I miss my friends. If I had my way, I would see every single one of my friends, every single day. It would be ridiculously busy (but imagine the girly catch-up sessions!) and impossible to schedule, but a girl can dream, can't she? Regardless of whether I see my girlfriends on a weekly basis, or throw quick emails back and forth every year or so, each and every one of them has played a valuable part in my life, and continues to do so. I am fortunate enough to have friends I went to primary school with; friends I lounged around with at good old Hastings High; friends who shared Year 12 with me at Braemar College; friends I lived with like sisters while at uni; friends I went to Melbourne Uni with; friends from the days of working at David Jones; friends from Indian Head summer camp; friends from backpacking across Europe; friends from living in London; friends from Deakin Uni; friends from teaching at Rosebud SC; friends from antenatal classes; friends from playgroups and kinders; friends from teaching at ICA Casey, and friends who happen to also be my family. So many wonderful people who have given me so much love and support, and whom I don't speak to often enough.

Let's face it, life happens when you're having fun. And s$%t happens when you're having children! I know that everyone is busy - we have jobs, partners, hobbies, sports, pets, passions, illnesses, endless, endless washing...and the truth of it is, more often than not I don't actually know where my days go. Certainly next year, when I am back at work, there may be a fair few days of sending the kids out to school or daycare in unironed clothes...with unwashed hair...with lunch orders because there's nothing in the pantry...and teaching by the seat of my pants...simply because there aren't enough hours in the day. And as a result of this, my tenuous links with my beautiful girlfriends suffer terribly. So today I decided to write a special message to all of you, simply to let you know that I think of each and every one of you often, that I miss you, and I am sending love, kisses, and glasses of the good stuff out through the airwaves. I can only apologise for neglecting to contact my favourite people more often... and please know that I am sorry. As disorganised as I am, as scatterbrained and preoccupied as I can be, one thing is certain: I am very aware of how lucky I am to be surrounded by gorgeous friends, and I love you all very much.

When we move into our rental home in a few weeks, it will be too tiny for a massive party (and for those of you who knew Christian and I before Team O'Toole included Jack - yes, we are moving back into our old unit!! The two-bedroom one!!) But given the year we have had, and the fact that since living in our current digs I have not ventured very far, very often, I am more than ready for a season of socialising. If you are willing to endure the combined charms of my three sprogs for a short period of time, let me know! I am sure there is a playcentre / park / pub able to cater for the children's energy and any beverage-requirements we may have. Better still, I'm sure a few girls' nights out could be arranged...just let me know, one way or another, and I will be there. Hand on my heart. Because that's where you are xxx

Friday, October 1, 2010

Letting go

Do you ever have days when the only thing that keeps you going is your kids? Even on their grumpiest, stickiest, naughtiest days, my kids still manage to make me smile...most of the time. This morning, one very short phone call made me exceptionally upset, and I am working very hard to lift my mood even now. Without going into gruesome detail, in February this year we experienced a frightening home invasion. There were weapons involved, and Jack witnessed things a three-year-old shouldn't see. The police did not respond appropriately and the men involved were still in our local community, so we sold our house and moved, simply to feel safe again. I have spent a great deal of time this year feeling angry about being displaced from my home, and all of the changes that were forced upon us as a result of leaving a town we had lived in for nearly three years. Looking on the positive side of life, we will eventually (when the builders decide to finish a 6-month-long smoko) have a house in a beautiful area, somewhere we have always dreamed of living. We have graduated from counselling, the nightmares have subsided, and my children remind me every day of what is truly important. Most significantly, I have wonderful family and friends who have kept me focused and grounded, and I know that this will one day be a blip in an otherwise very fortunate life.

To be perfectly honest, the only times I get jumpy these days is when I hear men shouting in the street, so I thought I had recovered pretty well from the whole incident. However, this morning we were told by our lawyer that as far as the police were concerned, no offence had occurred at our home (other than a broken pot plant) and therefore we were not eligible to be considered as 'victims of crime'. I'm sorry, but what exactly constitutes a victim of crime? Was it not enough to have our home forcibly entered and be witnesses to acts of violence? Was is not enough that my child needed therapy to recover from the actions of these stupid men? Should we have been hurt more extensively? I was never concerned about receiving financial compensation, but rather I wanted the police who failed to protect and support us to be held accountable. So today's phone call shook me considerably because it suddenly became very apparent that our experience was to be swept under the rug. Although I am still upset by this news, I realise how lucky my family to have walked away from this situation. So I spent some time today thinking about all that I have to be thankful for, and as usual my children provided me with a lesson or two!

Due to Jack's ordeal in February, he has developed an extraordinary repertoire of stories about getting rid of "baddies". After several sessions with our lovely psychologist, Jack learned some coping mechanisms to deal with the nightmares he was having. He can now make up the most fabulous tales about how he fought the bad men, and won - usually accompanied by the contruction of some magic sword or another. I love the fact that his sense of humour has won out, and that he has shown incredible strength of character in the face of a pretty awful situation. From Jack, I have learned that all I need to do is envisage myself as the strong person in the scenario and the battle will be mine. I suppose I could win any stoush if it meant defending my children!

Phoebe slept through that night, and was relatively unaffected by it all. But she still had to cope with stressed parents and moving away from the only home she'd ever known. Thankfully, she is a happy and funny little girl who manages to make us laugh every day. Simply by putting her shoes on every morning she manages to make me smile - she always, without fail, puts her shoes on the wrong feet. I never correct her, as it is one of the tiny things she does that makes her Phoebe. She also makes up little songs throughout the day, usually without a tune, or any rhythm, but always with a sweet little message about someone she loves. From Phoebe, I have learned to live in the moment, and simply enjoy the company of my family without worrying about what tomorrow may bring.

Maisie was only five weeks old when all of this happened, and she worked exceptionally hard to bring my milk supply back when it almost dried up through stress. My darling baby girl has never known anything other than the gypsy lifestyle, as we had packed up and sold our home before she was 12 weeks old, and have been living out of boxes ever since. In the next few weeks we will move into a rental home, and will probably not be in our new house before Maisie turns 18 months old. Throughout all of this upheaval, the one constant Maisie requires to be happy is her mummy's arms. She is definitely a mumma's girl, and gives me delicious wet kisses by sucking on my face with glee, pulls back to laugh at me, and then lunges in again to suck the other cheek. At nearly nine months old, she is growing perfectly and learning more every day. Tonight, she learned how to kick both of her chubby little legs simultaneously, in order to create the biggest splash possible in the bath. From Maisie, I have learned that children do not need anything more than the love of their family. It does not matter whether the roof over your head is your own, or a rental, or your parents-in-law's; it does not matter if all your carefully-laid plans have to go out the window; all that is important is that your family is safe, and your children have the love and security of their parent's arms.

I need to thank my children for teaching me what is important. I want to thank my husband for doing whatever was necessary to make me feel safe. I hope to walk across the threshold of my new home sometime in the next twelve months, and forget that I was ever without a home to call my own. I need to let go of the feelings of anger and hopelessness that have engulfed me today, and embrace the strength, and happiness, and love that my children embody. And I hope that in return, I might be a source of comfort, warmth and security for my children and husband when they need it, wherever our multitudes of boxes and belongings may finally find a place to be unpacked.