Monday, January 31, 2011

Ben's Baptism

Yesterday was a funny, sad, happy, funny, surprising, funny, entertaining, hot day. We left very early in the morning to drive up to Woodend for Ben's christening - considering he is Gertrude's youngest boy, to us it was a family occasion, as Ben is like a cousin to our kids. During the almost-two-hour drive, there were a few interesting little conversations with Jack about religion, church and God.

Religion is an interesting topic in our house - we have friends of all denominations, have taught children with many and varied religious beliefs, and have ourselves been raised with very different religious educations. Christian is a practising Buddhist, and has actually been authorised to teach Buddhism and Buddhist meditation. As a result, the religious education that our children receive in our house (more by osmosis than concentrated effort!) is based upon the principles of Buddhism - namely, to live well every day, to be mindful of your actions and words, and to be happy. I realise that this tiny nutshell in no way encompasses Buddhism, but these seem to be the dominant themes that occur in our family.

In the car, Jack asked where we were going, and why. I explained that it was Ben's christening day, and that we were going to church with Ben's family to celebrate his baptism. The conversation included questions such as:
Who is God?
Why can't I see him?
Where does he live?
Does he have a dog?
Doee he have eyes? (this one from Phoebalina)
What's a christening?
Can we run and play in the church?
What's a church?
When is it lunchtime?

I think I managed to completely mangle the answers to all of the above. Christian laughingly told me I had entered a theological discussion that had run away from me...I didn't hear him trying to answer Jack's interrogation!!!

Considering the sweltering heat yesterday, the kids were all exceptionally well-behaved during the service. Jack, Phoebe, Will, Kelan and Hamish all sat at a colouring-in table behind the last pew, and kept themselves pretty well entertained for at least half an hour. Ben kept running down the aisle, meaning poor Gertie kept running after him (he also decided to bite his mummy's shoulder while they were standing at the font - little rascal!!) Maisie had a few forays up the aisle, commando-ing her way along the carpet in her embroidered, lace-trimmed pink dress (that I was determined that she wear before she grew out of it!!). I wasn't too concerned about her getting dirty, until she discovered the open door in the vestibule...

The cutest moment of the day was when the baptism vows were being said, and Ben was being held by his parents. Will, his older brother, was standing uncertainly in front of the minister, looking a bit nervous at facing the congregation. Phoebe ran up the aisle (despite Christian and I hissing loudly at her to get back!!!), took Will's hand, and they stood holding hands, completely content, looking at everyone until the ceremony was finished. Then they walked proudly down the aisle like a mini bride and groom, smiling. Gertrude and I were so proud!! We can only dream...

We went back to Gert's place for lunch with the family, and had a lovely time. The only problem was, every time Gertrude, Esmerelda and I found ourselves in a group (which kept happening!), one of us got teary! And I have told you many, many times before - I am a very ugly crier. Seeing Gert's house partially packed up, and watching our kids play so well together, it was just all too emotional. The kids just love each other and there's never a squabble when they play. I had gone to Gert's house without realising that she would be moving to Queensland in just over a week - and it hit me so hard yesterday. I get thingy now just thinking about it. So what did Esmerelda and I do about it? We organised a play date for this coming Thursday!! Ahh, good old least we have Will and Phoebe's wedding to look forward to!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Ask and it will happen

After the debacle that was 2010, Christian and I are beginning to breathe more easily. However, I still seem to be expecting disasters (or not really disasters, but you know - things that are not particularly great!). The old adrenaline levels are probably higher than they need to be, and the little furrow between my eyebrows is not yet lessening as it should be. So quite simply, I decided to do something about this constant expectation of stress.

When I was in the city with Gertrude the other week, we were browsing in a book shop and I found a little box called "Ask and It Will Happen". It's a little green book and some tarot cards in a cute box, and the idea is that you think of something that you really want or need, and draw a card from the pack. If you apply the advice from your chosen card to your everyday thoughts and actions, your wish / need / want will come to you. Sound hippy and trippy and kooky?? Absolutely. I loved it.

Basically, the premise is that if you put good vibes and thoughts out into the universe, good things will come back to you. If you really want something badly enough, and put energy into asking for it in a positive manner, anything is possible - so I suppose in some ways it's like praying for agnostics!? Anyhow, dippy hippy things aside, I thought hard (and wished for some form of income in 2011 that would let me stay at home with the kids), shuffled the tarot cards, and drew. Now obviously, a part-time teaching position at a nice school within commuting distance did not jump out of the cards at me. Hardy ha ha. But I did get a card telling me to put my family and love first, and that money should come lower down my list of priorities. If I put the needs of my family and myself first, then any financial worries that I had would be taken care of. I read the card and decided to focus on being a good stay-at-home mum, and reducing our costs at home. If I could tweak the budget just a tiny bit more, and if we only spent money on the absolute essentials, then perhaps we would be ok.

I am not pulling your leg - that very same day I received two phone calls out of the blue: one asking me if I would tutor a high school student, and the other asking if I would consider cleaning houses. With just these two jobs, I will be able to contribute just under half of our weekly grocery bill, or pay for our nappies and petrol. Not only that, but we will have no before- or after-school care fees for Jack, as I will do the school run on time every day, we will have no daycare fees for the two girls, and I will be at home with my babies, which is what I wished for. No joke - I was stunned.

Regardless of whether or not the cards are magic, I loved the way they made me think about what is important. Just flipping through them, there are cards about being grateful, being kind to yourself, challenging youself to try new things. All sorts of lovely inspirational words, all about sending positive vibes into the universe. So without giving you all my secrets, here are a few things I have been grateful for today:

* The spontaneous kiss that I received from Maisie this morning, when she was snuggling on my lap watching Dora. The Mouse cuddles a lot, but bestows kisses rarely...but this morning she twisted around, planted a wet one on my cheek, and turned back around to dance along with Boots. Be still my beating heart!

* The love between Jack and Phoebe that was so apparent in the car park at Chadstone today. They were walking behind me and the pram, holding hands. They were having one of the funny conversations that very young children have, about who was their family. Phoebe asked Jack if Mummy and Daddy were her family, and he replied, "No. They're the mummy and daddy. They're in charge. I'm your family, because I'm your brudder. But we all love you." Skewed logic and all, I thought he was very cute!

* The feeling I had last night, standing next to my husband at a small drinks function with his new colleagues. He was so happy and relaxed in the company of these people, I know he will love his new school. After what he endured last year, he deserves to enjoy his job, have time to enjoy his children and simply be happy.

Right now, I am grateful for some excellent telly - the womens' final in the Australian Open. It's looking like it will be a great match! I am also grateful that the basket of unfolded washing is behind me where I can't see it...and that my husband has already done the dishes...and that I am already in my jarmie pants. Now there's a visual you most likely are NOT grateful for!!!!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Keeping the wobblies in check

When I get to the pearly gates and they're handing out the final report cards, I'm hoping that I at least get a passing grade for 'Parenting 101'. A credit or a distinction would be awesome - don't get me wrong! But my mummy L-plates have been getting so many dents in them lately, I reckon I'll be lucky to score a pass, and the comment, "Must pay more attention in class".

When you're pregnant, all you can think about is the birth; when you think about 'having a baby', you think about a snuggly newborn bundle who cries, eats and poos - not a toddler whose favourite word is 'no' and who can run faster than you, or a four year old who has discovered that pretending to shoot his sister with a cardboard cylinder gun gains both attention and shrieky noises.  Jack was such a placid baby that there was a picture of him in the dictionary next to the word "calm" (I swear I'm not making this up!) When he turned one, everyone warned us of his "emerging personality" (as far as I was aware, he already had one!), and that he would begin to challenge us. Nope.

When he turned two, everyone predicted a year of tantrums and tears, the typical "terrible twos". Instead, when my two year old son would get cross, or knew he had done something wrong, he would quietly go and put himself on the naughty stool. Seriously. And he would stay there until he was ready to say sorry (which retrospectively was fabulous, as by then I had a crawling Phoebalicious and it was all a bit too busy!)

When Jack turned three, I began hearing stories about children who didn't put a foot wrong until their third birthday. Seemingly calm children would turn feral overnight - this is what I should expect, given that Jack had to this point, defied the tanty odds. But no, he continued on his Zen way, removing himself from the group when he was angry, and returning when calm had been restored.

(May I just point out at this junction that Christian and I were always aware that none of this had anything to do with our parenting. We were just as stunned as the next person - especially given our fledgling parenting skills! Jack's placid personality, excellent sleeping habits, ability to eat anything put in front of him, and lack of screaming tantrums all came directly from him -  I can't claim any credit!!)

So when Jack turned four, the age when many toddler-related characteristics begin to fade, it came as a huge surprise when he began to throw massive wobblies. Now, to be fair, Jack's tantrums began with the emotional upheaval at the beginning of 2010, and so I don't blame him at all. It was his way of coping with the many upsets he experienced, and I only feel sorry for my little man. However, Jack's tantrums have been trotted out quite regularly in recent months, usually after a big day when he is exhausted or overwrought, and have been known to last for a few hours. Recently he has worked really hard on keeping his temper in check, and has managed to get a hold on himself if left alone in his room. We have tried just about everything to help him - speaking calmly, removing all of the toys from his room, holding him close, removing privileges, giving rewards, you name it, we've desperately tried it! But is would seem that other than a lessening in the duration of the angries, our parenting was just not making enough of a difference.

Today, I felt as though we had a small, albeit significant, win. The kids and I met Gertrude and her boys at a playcentre for what was a gorgeous day. My days with Gertie are now extremely limited, given that she is moving interstate in a few weeks, so today was a bit of a luxury. Jack and Phoebe absolutely love play days with Aunty Gert and her kids, so I knew we would have a lovely day together. I also knew that Jack would find leaving the playcentre difficult, so I worded him up as we drove in this morning. I told him he would get a five minute warning, a "one-last-thing" warning, and then we would say goodbye to our friends and go. If he threw a wobbly, there would be no more visits to a playcentre for a long time. As usual, he happily agreed, and throughout our three hours at Billy Lids, Jack was the perfect gentleman.

When it was time to go home, I gave him his five minute warning, and received a happy, "Ok Mum!". Five minutes later, I told him he could have one more turn on something, so he ran to the jumping castle and spent a few minutes bouncing. But when I started moving towards the pram and called out, "Ok Jack, it's time to go!", he ran in the other direction with the facial expression that I know so well. Undeterred, I packed the girls up and moved away. He ran up to me, sweaty haired, face flushed, hugged me and growled, "But I don't WANT to go!", and stamped his foot (which is still pretty cute, if you ask me!). I hunkered down, looked him dead in the eye and reminded him that he had made me a promise. Quickly, I asked him if he would like a drink for the car, and asked him to put his shoes on. For the first time in a very long time, my boy swallowed, breathed deeply, and held his anger in check. With a stormy face, he put his shoes on, held the door open, and walked out into the Camberwell street. By the time we got to the car, he was quite chipper, and he hugged Aunty Gert goodbye nicely.

Although to look at me you would only have seen a bedraggled mummy loading the car, inside I was doing the biggest happy dance - he had stopped his tantrum before it even started!!!!! My darling boy, whose screaming rages make me sick to my stomach with sadness, had let me know he was angry, and had held it together. I could not have been more proud if he had driven home himself (but gee, that would have been welcome too!) Now, I'm not crediting myself with this little success - the kudos should all go to Jack. But it's a significant win for our boy, and for our family, because it indicates yet another step towards complete recovery from the horrors of 2010. I know he was proud of himself too, because he told Daddy all about it when he came home. I know it might seem funny to be so proud of a nearly-five-year-old child not throwing a tanty, but he's come a long way, and dealt with so much...and besides, perhaps now I might be able to brave Woolworths with the three kids and a trolley again?? Perhaps not!!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Handy tips and tricks

Things I have learned (usually via my own stupidity):

1. Don't make a baby laugh raucously whilst they have a mouth full of Weetbix. The look of horror on your face will only make them guffaw even harder. At least wait until they have swallowed (or pulled the Weetbix out of their mouth with their fingers - although still messy, it's marginally better!) before beginning the joke, or tickling their toes.

2. Whenever you buy your child a soft toy (or they are given one by a well-meaning person), ensure that the toy is a) machine-washable, and b) easily duplicated. Never, ever make an irrational purchase of a teddy to keep a child quiet in a shop. I know this woman who was in Dollar Curtains with her 15 month old son (who had just learned to run) and her 7-month-pregnant belly. The little boy was running riot after being in the shop for too long, so I, ahem, I mean this anonymous lady clutched at the first straw available and paid for a teddy bear to keep Jack the child happy. Upon closer inspection of the teddy, it was a 'craft' bear not meant for small children. Unfortunately, by this time it was the adored darling of the child, and sleep was impossible without this particular teddy being present. To this day, we the lady and her husband live in fear of losing this beloved teddy, whose head threatens to fall off from too much loving, and whose fur rubbed off long ago. And PS. Dollar Curtains don't have those teddies anymore - and neither does anyone else!!

3. When toilet training your child, remove all rolls of toilet paper from the vicinity of the toilet. Failure to do so may result in the entire roll of paper being put into the toilet. Not only is this an expensive habit, but it can cause the blocking of the loo (and the subsequent messy unblocking of the aforementioned), and quite often means there is absolutely nothing to wipe the child's bottom with, since all of the paper is wet, soggy and contained within the lavatory bowl. Sigh.

4. A twelve-month-old baby reading an old copy of New Idea is unutterably cute. Particularly when she is pointing at the pictures and talking to them.

5. A baby's hands are magnets for dog food, cat food, bits of fluff on the carpet and tiny pieces of Lego. If your child When your child (there is no "if" about this one!) enters the "insect-munching" stage, you may need to develop a very strong stomach. Quite often, your reaction is more than enough to encourage them to investigate the taste of creepy crawlies, so choose your facial expressions carefully! I asked Maisie tonight what she had in her mouth (calmly and with Zen, of course!), and she removed the object with her fingers, shook her head and said "Na" quite solemnly, and delicately handed me a slater beetle. In two pieces. With legs still wriggling. I fought back the urge to vomit / the rising scream within / the need to laugh hysterically and replied, "Thank you darling! Shall we put him outside?" (Just in case you were wondering, she also said "Na" to that one!)

6. Resist the desire to fight the deluge of pink that comes with a three year old daughter (or whatever colour is their particular passion!) Submit to the notion that for at least a couple of years, everything you buy (or are requested / begged / pleaded with to buy) will be either pink, glittery, have sequins on it, be decorated with the visages of the Disney princesses, or all of the above. Good taste is not a factor when it comes to small daughters with opinions of their own. If it is coloured pink and is princessy in any way, shape or form, then it is desired and necessary. The sooner you learn this lesson, the better. You can work on their fashion sense at a later date.

7. A son about to turn five thinks he is very grown up. However, even with a new school uniform, a top bunk, and the ability to ride a two-wheeler, he is still your baby...even when his Superman costume is giving him special powers and blue fire that comes out of his hands. Cuddle him at every opportunity. Sooner or later, the Superman suit will be too small (and he'll be too big to fit in your lap) *sob*

8. Before leaving the house, make sure your kids haven't left any spills or dribbles on your back, front, pants, face or hair. Actually, scratch that. Before leaving the house, don't look in a mirror.

9. Always ensure your maternity bra is closed and your blouse is pulled down before answering the door. Trust me, the postman did not recover from THAT one easily.

10. Don't listen to a word I say (or type, for that matter). I still have my Mummy 'L' plates on (and would you take advice from someone who flashed the postman? Even if it was unintentional? The poor man needed therapy after that one) I'll let you know when I start to have a clue. I can only hope (for my kids' sake at least!) that this occurs relatively soon. Preferably before 2020, but that is a pipe dream unless someone tells me how to get three kids under five to sleep all night in the same room, without anybody waking up. Now THAT is an advice column I'd pay for!

The Lucky Country

An hour ago, my kids sat at the table in their pyjamas, eating Weetbix. We had the back door open, and there were magpies warbling in the bush block opposite our place. Other than that, it was quiet.

There are bathers and beach towels flapping on the clothesline, after our swim the other day. Next to them are Jack's school clothes, washed and ready for his first day. He will be attending a primary school that allows anybody to enrol, regardless of religion, gender, political preference or wealth. Apart from a small fee to cover excursions and books, it is free education, available to anybody who wants it.

I have just boiled a big pot of potatoes, ready to make a potato salad for the BBQ we are going to today. Even with the horrendous flooding in our country, food is still plentiful and readily available. I went to the supermarket to buy these potatoes last night. I went after dark, on my own. Nobody thought twice about a woman being out of her home without a chaperone, because it's normal. And safe.

I drove home last night with a car boot full of food for my children. The only thing that restricted my shopping was my own money - other than that, every food or product I could ever need or want was available. The road I drove on was safe, and smooth.

At lunchtime today, we are heading off to a BBQ with a great big group of friends. Sixteen children will be able to run and play in the backyard, and will probably have a high old time. Today being the day we celebrate our nation, there will be plenty of meat on the grill, drinks and laughs and good company. There will be absolutely no reason to fear for our safety, or wonder if there will be enough food left over for tomorrow, or fearfully watch our children if they play in the garden at the front of the house.

All of this - plenty of food to eat, clothes to wear, free education for all, friends, family, equal rights for women and a safe place to live - most of us take for granted every day. In fact, this is what we have come to expect - this is 'normal', this is life in our country. Wouldn't it be amazing if we could provide these luxuries for all people?

Happy Australia Day.

Monday, January 24, 2011

My whole brain

7am 24.1.03: Still asleep, alone in my little cottage near the beach.

7am 24.1.11: Finished breastfeeding Maisie; joined Christian in breakfasting with the team.

9am 24.1.03: Still in bed, probably cuddling my new kitten, Ernie. Or perhaps dozing. Definitely still in bed, though.

9am 24.1.11: Hopped in the car with Jack, Mouse and Narnie, and headed off to Chaddy for a little light window-shopping (Phoebs was at kinder - please don't call DHS!!) Had already washed the breakfast dishes, dressed three kids, hung out the washing and tidied the lounge room.

1pm 24.1.03: Went for a swim, as it was a swelteringly hot day. Probably actually sat down to eat my lunch?

1pm 24.1.11: Enjoyed lunch at Chaddy with Mum and the kids. (Definition of lunch: Spooning food into the Mouse's mouth, while attempting to stop her from wiping Vegemitey hands on passing strangers; helping Jack eat his sandwich and sit still at the same time; managing to swallow my own sandwich before the kids decide it's time to move on!) Maisie had her first ride on one of the many 'kiddie' rides dotted around the shopping centre - I think we may have created a monster!! Jack "zoomed" his matchbox car everywhere, including under the clothes rails in Gap while we were looking for a shirt for Daddy. His car drove down the escalator handrail, under tables, between sales assistants' legs...

3pm 24.1.03: Escaped the heat by going to get my hair cut and coloured in preparation for the new school year. Had a glass of wine while the stylist did his thing. Sat and thought about going back to work after Australia Day; painted my nails.

3pm 24.1.11: Was in the waiting room at the dentist's while Narnie had her check-up. Kept Maisie amused and out of the toilet while Jack took an embarrassingly long time in there. Attempted to corral the kids in the waiting room while they played "chasey" (Maisie's version of chasey is to crawl while giggling hysterically, with Jack crawling after her - invariably into places they should not go, such as dentist's rooms). Eventually one of the nurses brought out a big bucket of toys, which was great. Spent the rest of the time taking toys out of Maisie's mouth, and explaining to Jack that we were not taking the dentist's toy garage home. Drove Narnie and the kids home in peak hour (Mum and I chatted while the kids caught flies in the back seat).

5pm 24.1.03: Waited for my sister to come over before heading out to the pub to meet a colleague for a drink. Miffy and I had already planned on heading out on Friday night when a friend from work phoned to see if I wanted to catch up. It was such a balmy night we sat outside on the roof of Rosebud Pub, drinking and chatting.

5pm 24.1.11: Cooked dinner for the kids (early dinner after a big day); cleaned up after the kids' dinner; bathed and pyjama-ed them; breastfed Maisie while the big kids went to bed; let Maisie play on the floor while the big kids got up for toilet stops, drinks of water etc.; removed shoes from Maisie's mouth after she found them at the front door; cooked dinner for the grown-ups; ate dinner with Christian while Maisie practised her pulling up on my leg; settled the big kids once and for all; breastfed Maisie again, this time to a comatose state, while Christian went to the supermarket. All in all, a fairly standard evening!

8pm 24.1.03: Went with Miffy and my friend from work to a movie down the road from the pub. We had a ball at the pub - I could have bypassed the movie, to be honest - as I had not realised how funny this guy was and how much we had in common. I hadn't expected the night to be so fun.

8pm 24.1.11: All three kids are asleep; the tennis is hotting up on the telly; Christian is hanging out the washing for me (bless his cotton socks!) and I have a big pile of dry washing to fold, a big pile of dishes to do, and a blog that just won't quit...

10pm 24.1.03: Left the movies with my sister, and said goodbye to my friend. Realised that it was the best night I had had in ages. I couldn't believe that I had worked with this guy for a year, and had known him since high school, and had never really gotten to know him. Drove home with my sister, with a massive smile on my face and a little spring in my step.

10pm 24.1.11: Am looking at my beautiful husband, who has just made me a cup of tea and is sitting down to watch the tennis with me. It is eight years since our first date (which I naively didn't realise was a date at all!), when he sat through a movie he didn't watch, and I came to the slow realisation that I didn't want to say goodbye. I am still amazed that on a day that was so hot I was perspiring in a most unladylike way (it was so hot that the makeup slid off my face and I went to the pub bare-faced), I found my one true love. I am still amazed that we have not yet run out of things to talk about. I am still amazed at the stupid and numerous things we laugh at. I am still amazed at the beautiful family we have created together. I am still amazed that I managed to find my other half. We always joke that we are each other's "whole brain" (old, old, old TTFM Richard Mercer Love Songs and Dedications joke!), but he is my whole heart, too. And I still never want to say goodbye :)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The wispy-haired princess

This might sound ridiculous, but sometimes my kids are so cute my tummy feels like I'm being tickled (sometimes they're so un-cute I could scream...but that's another blog altogether). Lately, Phoebe has been doing and saying so many cute little things that she makes me want to pick her up and squuuueeeeeezzzzeeee her! Now, before I go on, let me just clarify: does she still go to the toilet on average 36 times a day, each time needing an escort, someone to keep her company, someone to wipe, someone to turn on the tap, someone to help her dry her hands, and someone to remind her 9 times to put her knick-knacks back on? Most definitely. Does she still ask the exact same question as Jack, immediately after he has asked it and it has been answered? Absolutely. Does she dawdle for so long over her breakfast EVERY SINGLE MORNING that everyone else has finished, washed their dishes, and moved away, and the milk in her bowl has completely disappeared making the Weetbix turn into brown concrete? Yes, yes, and yes.


Even with all of these infuriating characteristics, Phoebalina Ballerina has turned into the funniest, most affectionate, and ridiculously cute little girl. Or should I say, BIG girl - never, ever make the mistake of calling my middle child a 'little' girl. Even Santa was corrected (ever so sweetly) when he asked if she'd been a good llittle girl. Oh no - Phoebalicious is a big girl now, and when she is "bigger bigger bigger bigger" she is going to wear "special cream" on her face like Mummy, and wear "knocking shoes" like Mummy does when she is all dressed up.

There is absolutely no doubt that our eldest daughter dances to the beat of her own drum...and that she simply adores 80's music. Since I put my foot down and declared the car a No-Wiggles Zone, we have been listening to a variety of CDs (most of which are on repeat because I forget to change them before we go anywhere). Phoebe's favourite music genre is the 80's; Jack prefers 70's 'boom-chicka-wow-wow' disco (which often leads him to sing disturbing little riffs that sound rather like porn music...we have attracted many a raised eyebrow in Safeway!) Maisie Mouse will bop to anything with a beat, so typically we are all happy with Gold 104. (Currently the 'Eat Pray Love' soundtrack has been getting a beating in our car - particularly Track #3, which is sung completely off-key and with passion by the rug rats in the back seat!) However, when there is no music, Phoebe makes up little songs about whatever she may be doing at that very moment. We have heard little ditties about 'getting in trouble', 'putting my teddies into the naughty spot', and my personal favourite, 'the kids'. Since about November, we have been listening to a bastardised version of 'Santa Claus is Comin To Town', ad nauseum. It's so cute, Christian has recorded it for his mobile ring tone, and I can't help but smile every time I hear it coming from the toilet / bedroom / back seat / behind the wardrobe door.

All of our kids are real blondies, but Phoebs' hair is so fine, she has yet to join the pony tail brigade. Her hair is so short and wispy, we struggle to do anything with it, so the purchase of colourful hair elastics and clips to "do" her hair was met with wild excitement. Every morning, she chooses some "hair listics" that match her outfit, and I tug strands of hair into teeny tiny pig tails and pray they stay there. We have been coaxing her hair to grow for a few years now, so this morning's events were traumatic, to say the least. Jack and Phoebe were both given small toy cars with rubber wheels by Grandma and Grandpa for Christmas. While playing with them today, Miss P thought it would be a clever thing to drive her car over her head. Before you could say "bald patch", the wheels had become completely entangled in her hair and were pulling great chunks out. Christian grabbed it and stopped it before we had to cut her free, thank goodness, and luckily she only lost a handful of hair. But she didn't have that much to spare in the first place! She looked so ridiculous, standing there with big eyes while Daddy reversed the car out of her hair. I'd like to say it will grow back, I just don't know how long it will take!

Before the great hair debacle, delicious Phoebalicious was lying on my bed with me early this morning. We were just having a little snuggle before getting ready for swimming, and I was enjoying just having a moment with her. I was rubbing her back, and after a moment she wriggled, and said, "I only like a little bit of tickling, Mummy." So I stopped, and she took my hand, placed it on her arm and said, "But you can pat me here!" And for the next five minutes I was given specific instructions as to where I could pat her, when it was too tickly - it was the bossiest cuddle I ever had!! Apparently Phoebe likes to be cuddled, and you can tickle her with your fingertips for a few seconds...but only with permission, and only when she tells you! And this was all delivered with such a cheeky giggle that it was all I could do not to scoop her up and squeeze her.

This three year old madam is so funny, and so determined, and so obstinate, and so affectionate that during any one day I usually want to both throttle her and bottle her gorgeousness. How long will she be this cute? How long will she be so big and so little at the same time? How long will she play so well with her big brother, and fight so passionately with him in the same breath? How long will she desperately adore her baby sister? I hope, with every part of me, that the answer to all of the above is forever. But I wouldn't mind if she'd learn to go to the toilet by herself. That would be handy.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Hangin with my peeps

Woohoo!! Another double-posting day!!

Now, before you start to question my methods (or my madness, for that matter) let me just point out that last night was an exceptionally late night - and even though we got in from the circus at 11pm, that did not take into account the extra feed the Mouse needed to get all in all it was a veeeeeeerry late night, and I didn't blog. But wouldn't you? After your kids' first visit to the circus? I would. Which brings me to the double-blogging...

Today was just as exciting as the circus, and funnily enough quite similar in a way! Being an exceptionally lucky person, I went to two secondary schools, and in both I gained a very close group of friends. Today's story is about my first school - and a group of gorgeous people who have known me since I was a geeky 14 year old...As is normal amongst high school friends, my group has scattered all over the globe in the years since we left school. During that time, we have worked, gone to uni, changed jobs, had babies, travelled, introduced partners to the fold...and very, very rarely have we all been in the same place at the same time.

When it became clear that the gang was going to be in the same vicinity, at the same time, for the first time in a very long time, the most lovely Fleurbee sprang into action, and organised for us all to get together at her mum's place by the beach. Needless to say, the date was marked in red on the calendar. And so it was that when my tired kids dragged themselves out of bed this morning, and I informed them we were going to a pool party at Aunty Fleur's today, they found a new and seemingly-bottomless source of energy...

Assembled at the divine beach house today were: Fleurbee and her lovely sister Kirra, Kirra's friend Fiona, Kerry and Jeff, Kirst, Debs, Ky-Ky, Nat and Amar, Paulsa, Dels, Christian and myself, and our combined twelve children. That's right: twelve children. And boy, did those kids know how to party!! They all played so well together it was gorgeous to watch - from games in the garden, to games in the pool, they ran and squealed and had a high old time. There may have quite possibly been the beginnings of a romance between Jack and this space!! Goodness knows Phoebe was in heaven today, running around with all the 'big' girls, and Maisie happily went from one aunty to another...

Had I closed my eyes today (and removed all evidence of the young 'uns), you could easily have convinced me that I was 16 again. Being with my girls today made me so happy. There is nothing in this world like being with people who have known you for forever...who have seen you at your lowest...who have celebrated with you at your happiest...whose company reminds you that friendship is truly invaluable. Rather than being at a party making small talk with strangers, I was able to catch up on the news from friends whom I hadn't seen in years and years - but chatting with them was as easy as it was at the bus stop in 1992. We may have a few kids / travel stories / mortgages between us (and a few more wrinkles / grey hairs / creaky knees) than the last time we were together, but there were as many laughs today as when we used to sit on the old bench in the Senior School courtyard, wearing daggy school uniforms.

Thank you all for a magic afternoon - I came home feeling happier for being with you. My kids, I know, had a ball, and want to know when we are doing it again! And Fleur - a special thank you to you, for organising the whole shebang, and allowing us to traipse throughout your mum's house with wet feet and shouty kids. Love you lots, sweetie. And now that the circus is over (for the second time!), and all three munchkins are asleep, let's see how long I can stay awake to watch the tennis...???


Poor old Maisie Mouse gets dragged around to all sorts of places regardless of her preferred nap times or meal times. I would never have even thought about doing this with Jack - being the first, he had a rigid routine that we stuck to, rain, hail or shine! He was an easy baby since his sleeps were at the same time every day, his food appeared on the high chair with regularity, and his time in between these was invariably spent cuddling or playing with Mummy. When Phoebs was born, she fell easily into Jack's routine, and I must admit I didn't see any need to change it. They napped at the same time, ate together, played together, and went to bed at the same time. At any given point during the day, I would know what we would be doing, when to make appointments, when I could leave the house (with a minimum of fuss...relatively speaking, of course!) Easy!

Unfortunately for Miss Mouse, the activity levels of the household are considerably higher with three kids. And so, the poor little poppet tends to take her morning nap wherever she may be (in the car, in the pram, on my shoulder...), eats wherever I serve it up (in the car, in the pram, on my shoulder...) and has a rather ragged routine when it comes to bedtime. On an average night, the three kids have a bath, eat their dinner, and have a play, before the big kids go to bed and Mais enjoys her nighttime feed / cuddle with Mumma on the couch. She is typically settled for the night between 7:30 and 8:30, depending on how quickly Jack and Phoebe are quiet (three kids under five sharing a bedroom has whiskers on it, I tell you!) and how desperately she seems to need Mummy's special drinkies. Currently it is nearly 9pm, and she is sitting on the floor playing with the Wii remote, happy as a clam.

Last night was no ordinary night.

My beautiful grandmother, Argie, had very kindly given us some tickets to Silvers Circus. As you can imagine, tickets to the circus are a bit of a luxury when you're recently unemployed, so we were pretty chuffed!! I was so excited about it, I didn't even stop to consider the ramifications of such a late night...silly, silly mummy!!!! Our lovely friends, Arby Bec and Uncle Chrissy, invited us for dinner before the show, so the kids donned their Superman and Trinkabell costumes (as you do) and enjoyed a delightful dinner being completely spoiled. (And we even invented a new recipe, called 'Risotto A La Sink' by tipping half of our almost-cooked risotto down the plughole...but we saved some of it and it was delicious!!) To be perfectly truthful, I would have been content simply to sit and chat with Bec and Chris all evening, but there was a CIRCUS to get to!!!! Oh my lordy, the excitement was ridiculous.

I must say, I was pretty impressed with the performance - there was magic, and juggling, and tightrope-walking, and a guy balancing on a big circle-thingy that went around and around...and THREE motorbikes in one of those circular cage dooverlackers. Oh, how Jack waited desperately for the motorbikes. He loved the entire show, but it would have all been in vain if those motorbikes hadn't shown up...and for the final act, they did. Thank goodness!!! Phoebe watched the whole show with enormous eyes, danced to the loud music and flashy lights, laughed at the clowns, and attempted to imitate the lady on the tightrope by lifting her leg up to her ear (whilst still on Arby Bec's lap - thank heavens she was wearing underpants!) Maisie, bless her little cotton socks, watched about 10 minutes and then fell asleep on the boob, amidst explosions, loud music and flashing lights. She woke up in the car park at the end, and looked quite confused!

Despite the long drive home, our kids did not fall asleep in the car - which meant that their bedtime last night was 11pm. Just writing that feels scary!! Once upon a time, I would have kept them home if I knew it would be that late - but I am so glad we went. Even though they were all a bit fragile today, and the tears came a bit more readily than normal, all things considered they recovered remarkably well. And my little Mouse, for whom 'routine' is a foreign word, coped extraordinarily well with her late night..and is now (at 9:15pm)starting to flag!

I must send a big thank you to Argie for the tickets, as our kids had a fantastic night. They haven't stopped talking about the circus all day! And a special shout-out to Bec and Chris, who not only provided a delectable dinner for us last night, but also spent a great deal of the show allowing our two big kids to climb all over them, or escorting them to the toilet. Christian and I are very grateful!!! Now, if we could just get them all to sleep...(note to self: will be a primary school mummy in two weeks - must create more responsible bedtime for children before then. And more responsible bedtime for self. And more responsible telly habits. Just be more responsible, full stop. Sigh.)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The joys of summer

At this very moment, Maisie is playing on the floor wearing only a nappy (one of my all-time favourite things to watch, is a baby with a roundy little nappied bottom, with a pot belly and knees red from crawling...mmmm - gorgeous!!) Anyway, I digress: the Mouse is comfortable because she's nearly naked, basking in the breeze from the air conditioner; Jack and Phoebe are in shorty pyjamas, fresh from a bath that washed away the sand, sunscreen and salt left from going to the beach; and Christian and I are watching the tennis on telly. So what does all this mean? It's summer!

And I don't mean hot, sweaty, busy, too-many-things-to-fit-in-before-Christmas summer - I mean long lazy days, when the most pressing thing to do is decide what time to go for a swim. Jack's biggest dilemma today was whether or not to take his snorter, slippers and guggles to the beach (he decided against it in the end, as Narnie was bringing the new "kicking boards" she had bought for the big kids - too exciting!!) In our family, January means lots and lots of birthdays, so last night we had a double celebration for Aunty Miffy and Uncle Joshie, both of whom are turning 16 again this week (*ahem* *cough cough* *splutter*). We had a lovely night with the family, especially considering my brother is moving interstate this week. After all the excitement, the kids didn't go to bed until around 9:30pm, so this morning was a little slow!

What I loved about today was the kids played in their jarmies until half-past indecent o'clock; that we had fresh fruit salad for morning tea (and it was all in-season); that when we were in the car, the kids belted out "Land Down Under" at the tops of their lungs (and with every subsequent 80's track, Phoebe declared it was her favourite and her best!); that we were able to go to the beach for a swim this afternoon, and enjoy the clean, cool waters of the beach where I grew up; that my baby discovered the joys of making (and eating) sandcastles with a bucket and spade; that we came home for a dinner of salad and fish, and watermelon; and that Christian and I have a whole night of Australian Open tennis to enjoy without worrying about having to be anywhere early tomorrow morning.

I am completely aware that next week, a lot of this will change. My lovely hubby is returning to work after his extended sick leave, and there will be a palpable change in the household dynamic. Very soon, we will be entrenched in the morning school and kinder run, and these lazy days of eating drippy fruit in our nighties will be over - until next summer, of course!! But for now, I am thoroughly enjoying these slothful days...but hang on a sec - did you hear that? That was the sound of my bubble bursting...

As I was merrily blogging away, the Mouse was being productive in her own special way...and I suppose one of the greatest drawbacks of the beach is the gift that keeps on giving - that's right: sand in the nappy. Apparently it hurts. A lot. After I cleaned that one up, it became apparent that Jack and Phoebs were suffering from a common summer ailment: the "it's-too-hot-to-sleep-so-we'll-put-our-feet-on-the-wall" syndrome, common in young children around this time of year. This syndrome is usually accompanied by a generous dose of "it's-too-light-to-go-to-bed-yet-itis", and I would love to know if anyone has found a cure for this yet?!? We also appear to be afflicted with "there's-sand-in-my-bed-so-I-can't-sleep", and a tiny bit of "I-ate-too-much-watermelon". And so it would appear that I have missed much of Sam Stosur's match...oh well. That's my karma I suppose. Next time you hear me waxing lyrical about something, just remind me: the bubble has got to burst some time. And it will probably have sand in it.

Monday, January 17, 2011


There are certain dates that are easy to remember. The birthdays of the people you love, wedding anniversaries, public holidays (!). Whatever the reason for remembering a date on the calendar, you can be pretty sure there's an emotional link behind it. Today was not a birthday in our family, but the first anniversary of one of my luckiest days, so far anyway. Last year, on January 17th, I had a ten day old baby Maisie; a two year old Phoebe with a broken nose; a husband recovering from heart surgery; and a rather hairy ride in am ambulance.

When I woke at 5am on a Sunday morning to feed my little girl, I didn't realise the chaos I was about to unleash. Having given birth in an Australian hospital in the year 2010, I think I might be forgiven for assuming that all had gone well. I was already aware that, had I attempted to give birth to Jack during the early 1900's, neither of us would have survived - so needless to say I was pretty grateful to be a modern girl!! But it never occurred to me that "post-birth complications" could sneak up on you after five days at home. Now, we had brought Maisie home on a 45 degree day, so that entire week the air-conditioning unit had not been turned off. As I sat there feeding her, I began shivering in my nightie and thought, wow, we might actually have to turn that cold air down! But the longer she fed, the more my tummy began to ache, until I felt very, very ill.

When I crept back into bed at 5:45am, I was shaking so hard from the cold that my teeth were chattering. Christian woke up and asked if I was ok, and I told him that I just needed to sleep, and asked that he wake me for Maisie's next feed. Thankfully, my husband never does as he is told! He took one look at me, called the ambulance, and only managed to be dressed himself before they arrived. By this time, I was in agony and couldn't uncurl my body from the foetal position. Probably my most distressing moment from this day was being put onto the stretcher while Jack and Phoebe watched. They were both sleepy-eyed, clad in rumpled pyjamas, and neither of them said a word. Christian quickly asked Jack to take Phoebe's hand, and led them away so they could not see me leaving in the ambulance. For months afterwards, Jack was convinced I had "gone away in the ambulance" if I so much as disappeared to go to the supermarket...this still breaks my heart into little pieces.

We were not told how serious the situation was until days later, or how lucky I was that the ambulance wasn't delayed. I know how fortunate I am to have a disobedient husband (but don't tell him I told you that!) Even though it took me months and months to completely recuperate, I have only thought of this day on a handful of occasions in the past twelve months. There has always been something else to occupy my thoughts (and let's face it, the cerebral space is quite limited after three bouts of baby brain...) I didn't realise how much today's date would affect me. Although I know that I'm fine, and have been for some time, I didn't realise how emotional I would feel today. I didn't realise I would spend the day at Southland with my mum, acutely aware of how wonderful it was to be sharing this time with her and the Mouse. I didn't realise that I would become weepy, watching my children playing in their pyjamas before bed. I didn't realise that I would silently cry while feeding Maisie tonight, simply because she is so big, and so little, and mine to hold. I didn't realise that it would hit me, that a year ago today, I very nearly lost them all.

Now, you must be thinking I am an enormous sook, wallowing in emotional codswallop, etc, etc. But let me put it this way. Over the last twelve months, we have heard time and time again from so many people, "My goodness, but you've had a run of bad luck!" And you could most certainly look at it that way. However, you could also say that I recovered magnificently, and Christian's heart is patched up marvellously, and my mum is completely recovered, and all the horrible things that got thrown at us this year have actually, mostly, turned out pretty darn well. So when you think about it, we've actually had incredibly good luck. And the best thing of all, is that today marks the start of a new year since the "bad" luck began - meaning that we are officially entering a brand-spanking new period of time, in which it will ALL be good. And I will be free to weep over my children doing random things, for a very, very, very long time....until there comes a point where they turn around and say, "Mum! For goodness sake. Stop crying!!!!! You're embarrassing us!!" Oh, I can't wait for that day.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Will's birthday on the Thomas Billy

I'm double-posting today - how decadent!! But you see, we had such a busy weekend that I really have no choice but to separate my events...

As you probably already know, Christian and I palmed the kids off on Saturday to spend a rather lovely night at a friends' wedding. We stayed at the estate last night, and this morning enjoyed a leisurely breakfast in the restaurant - swanky!! After we collected the team - and may I just say, I always love the greeting I get after a night away from my kidlets...the cuddles are fabulous!!! - we took off to meet Gertrude, Esmerelda and the gang for Will's birthday party at the Puffing Billy (or Thomas Billy, as Phoebalina insisted on calling it!)

There was quite a few of us - Aunty Gertrude, Uncle Lucky, Will and Ben; Aunty Esmerelda, Uncle Murf, Kelan and Hamish; Aunty Cake, Aunty Ame, and us. The others had caught Puffing Billy at Belgrave earlier, and we met them at the picnic grounds at Lakeside in Emerald at lunchtime. I just love the fact that we Braemar girls have been friends for such a long time, and now our kids are great mates too. Jack, Phoebe, Kelan, Hamish and Will are quite the little gang now, and as they play so well together we can just let them run, pretty much. Ben and Mais tend to hang out near the mummies, but only because they can't move too far away just yet (although give Ben a few weeks and I reckon he'll be joining the big kids!!)

After a picnic and an icy pole, we took the train back to Belgrave, puffing and tooting all the way. The kids hung out the side of the train, dangling their legs and waving to people as we passed them (and a big thank you to Aunty Esmerelda and Uncle Murf for holding onto my kids while I couldn't!) Ben, Will and the Mouse fell asleep in various laps, and we arrived back at the station just in time to drive home for dinner. These days simply make me happy. When you are surrounded by friends, and the kids are well-behaved and happy, and the sun is shining, seriously, what else do you need?

Happy birthday Will!!!! Thank you for a gorgeous day, sweet boy. We love you!

Wedded bliss

Yesterday morning, I:

* woke early, showered, dressed, dressed the kids, and shovelled (nicely!) breakfast into their little kid-mouths
* ran around the supermarket with Maisie in the trolley seat, threw groceries into the trolley and ran through the checkout, all the while talking gobbledegook to the Mouse
* flew home, packed three overnight bags of clothes, made sure the beloved teddies and dollies were in the bags, and put everything at the front door to be put in the car
* continuously took the above bags from my children and put them back at the front door until I did my block
* took the team down to the CFA barbecue down at Coles to buy a fundraising snag (you've gotta love anyone who's raising money for the flood victims!) and scored a surprise visit inside the fire engine (totally not within our time constraints, but cool nevertheless!!)
* drove home, collected Daddy, all the bags, Daisy the dog and enough food to sink the proverbial ship
* dropped Daisy at my parents' place, dropped the kids at Christian's parents' place, and dropped myself into a happy place - the hairdresser's chair!!

We were off to a wedding at Morning Star Estate, which is where Christian and I held our own wedding reception. The morning was fraught with remembering and organising and packing, so when I sank into the chair at the salon, it was with great relief!!! The kids were fantastic when we left them with their grandparents - even Mais gave me a banana-ry wave and a "Ta-ta!" I didn't have any concerns about leaving them - I just needed someone to fix my bird's nest!! The hairdresser transformed my horrendous mess into a glorious up-do, Christian and I grabbed a coffee without a side order of smeared rusk, and before you could say 'bonbonniere', we were ensconced in our room at Morning Star, with 15 minutes to spare!

After a week of extremely doubtful weather, it was a stunning afternoon. The ceremony was held in the rose garden, amongst the vineyards in the estate. The bride, our lovely friend Reghan, was a vision in the most beautiful wedding dress I have seen in a long time. She looked absolutely gorgeous, and I was so glad for her that the day was so perfect. I had really been looking forward to this wedding, as we knew several of our close friends were attending, which foretold a great night ahead!!

I am a sucker for weddings, this much I know. I have always loved the flowers and the dresses and the pomp - I'm shameless. But since I got married myself, there's one other part of weddings that I absolutely adore. Watching the bride and groom exchange vows, I always get swept away with vivid recollections of my own wedding. I remember the magic I felt, telling Christian in front of our family and friends what he meant to me, and the promises I made to love him forever. I remember how different I felt after our wedding, as though the vows had somehow changed the air around me, so that we were almost physically bound together. I'm not sure if that makes sense, but I could sense a tangible difference in the way we were held together - it wasn't by a piece of paper, or a wedding ring, but the fact we had so openly declared that we wished to share our lives, for the rest of our lives.

So we witnessed Reghan and Derryn's vows in the garden, amongst the sunshine and the butterflies and the roses; we drank champagne under the shade of the vines; we enjoyed a lovely reception in the estate restaurant while the sun sank into the bay and sky turned pink and rosy. It was a perfect evening, and I am so grateful to have spent it with some beautiful friends and my husband, with whom I fall a little bit more in love with every day.

Friday, January 14, 2011

From the sublime to the ridiculous

Yesterday I spent a heavenly day in the city with the Mouse, Gertrude and Esmerelda. Apart from the delightful company, it was a special day in a few other ways: firstly, Esmerelda had been awarded her CPA yesterday morning (Congratulations, clever girl!!!), and secondly, it was one of our last days together before Gertie heads off to live in Queensland (Harrumph). We didn't care that it was pouring with rain, or so humid that frizzy hair was de rigeur...we had shops, we had other people to serve us lunch, we had each other. And Maisie had two doting aunties in addition to Mumma, all to herself!!

I was looking to buy a little story book about starting school for Mr.Jack when I realised that Miss Mouse had taken a shine to a miniature Miffy teddy. It was pretty cute watching her squeeze the living daylights out of it, so fierce was her love, until I realised she had dribbled all over it, and I had to buy it anyway!! (Oh who am I kidding, I was going to buy it for her anyway. Bad mother.) We trawled through all sorts of shops, Maisie in the pram, Maisie in Aunty Gert's arms, Maisie in Aunty Esmerelda's arms, Maisie in my arms...until we got to the lingerie department in Myer. It was in the ladies' changing room that the Mouse decided enough was enough, and she wanted DOWN. And it was in the ladies' changing room that my little girl decided to start crawling properly! She went this way, she went that way...she went and looked underneath another lady's door - whoops!!!

No matter how long I have with my girls (and it's never enough!) it's always exactly what I need to feel refreshed again. I must admit we got a bit carried away having fun, as before we knew it the clock had it's big hand on the four - which was definitely time for all good mummies to be heading home!!! When Mais and I arrived back at the mansion, Jack and Phoebs were bathed and fed, and I had a good-looking hubby in the kitchen to boot! This day was the sublime...

And now for the ridiculous.

I am definitely paying for yesterday. I swear to you, I am not exaggerating. It's barely 7:30 in the morning, and the conversations in this house have me completely, and utterly batty. It began an hour and a half ago, when Maisie woke for her early feed. Instead of lying there quietly and going back to sleep, she kicked me repeatedly in the torso as she fed. If I took myself away from her, she screamed - and then when back to rolling, grunting, and Karate-Kidding my stomach. What was that about? When her chatting and exercise became a bit too much, I got up...only to be greeted with a scream from the other room. That's right - Phoebe woke up screaming this morning. (On reflection, that now seems perfectly plausible...although at the time I was mildly disturbed!) Now, considering Daddy was trying to get some shut-eye amongst all this hubbub, I was telling the kids to pipe down. So what did my eldest daughter do? First, she went into the toilet and kept a (loud) commentary (seriously, the girl can stage-whisper with an imaginary megaphone). Then, she went into the bathroom, and yelled at the top of her lungs for her brother. Why? Beats me. There doesn't need to be a reason, apparently.

I managed to get them into the loungeroom and organised breakfast, while the noise-fest continued. I must have asked them to settle down 983 times by this point? All to no avail, of course. Imagine this - Jack, Phoebe, Maisie and I are sitting around the breakfast table. Maisie is Dad-dad-dad-dad-dad-dad-ing at the top of her lungs, interspersed with some vague yelling (I'm sure it's obscene language in baby-talk); Phoebe is simultaneously keeping up a stream of chatter directed at her English muffin, and Jack is bellowing at me about some Ben 10 watch he must have lost at Grandma's house and could we buy a new one? Please Mum? Because I lost my old one and I did liked it and you have to get me a new one please Mum? Please? Or a Woody and Buzz one? But Mum?

Oh how I was begging for ear plugs or a Temazapam at this point. I smiled sweetly (actually, it was definitely more of a snarl) and requested politely (or snapped, take your pick), "All of you! Stop talking, and eat your breakfast!" (before I take it and do something unspeakable...) There was silence for a beat, then, "Mummy, if Jack has a Ben 10 watch, do I have a fairy one?" And so it went on. Particular gems during this melee included:

Jack: Mum, I am all yoghurty inside my mouth.
Me: mmm hmmmmm.
Jack: Mum, do you want to see my yoghurt? (opens mouth wide to see the yoghurty goodness)
Me (tersely): No Jack! I do not want to see anything you are chewing!
Jack: I wasn't speaking to you Mummy, so don't get cross.
Me: You weren't speaking to me?
Jack: No, I was speaking to Phoebe.
Me: So when you address Phoebe, you start your sentence with "Mum"??
Jack: Ah, no. I must have been talking to you then.

Damn straight.

Phoebe: Mummy, my bottom hurts.
Me: Why?
Phoebe: Because I'm sitting on my toast.


Meanwhile, Maisie found (with undisguised joy) the bowls of dog food and water I accidently left on the floor after a rainy night. She also found the remnants of Daddy's potato chips, half a beetle, and something soft. All of which saw me pulling out the vacuum at 7:15am. When Jack and Phoebe started playing battering rams with their teddies and Maisie started her tired cry, I caught myself wondering if it was cocktail hour somewhere in the top it all off, the TV was having "issues" due to the weather, and wasn't responding to any of my pleas for help.

So Daddy has gone to the doctor's, and we are about to head out the door for swimming lessons. Apparently there are flood warnings for our local roads, and currently the rate of cats and dogs falling from the sky is alarming. I think I will drive exceptionally slowly, with some choice music cranked up to drown out the voices in my head...and those in the back seat. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


I have absolutely no good reason to worry. I am very, very blessed.

This morning, we took Maisie to have her 12 month immunisations. We saw a gorgeous nurse, who was kind, funny and gentle. She gave Jack and Phoebe bubbles to blow to entertain Mais and distract her from the pain. My lovely hubby was with me, ready to keep the big kids in hand and comfort our littlest one. Although vaccinations are painful, they are one of the ways I am able to ensure my sweethearts grow up happy, healthy and strong.

Somewhere in the world today, there is a mother with a sick child, ill with a completely preventable disease. She does not have the access to free and wonderful medical support that I do. And for that, I am incredibly sad for her, and extremely grateful for myself. I have absolutely no good reason to worry. I am very, very blessed.

After Maisie's appointment, we took Jack and Phoebe to the pool for the first of their week-long intensive swimming lessons. This is just one of the opportunities I hoped for my children when I was planning a family. As a small child I was given swimming lessons, and these continued until I was a competent swimmer who could relax and enjoy the water. Living in a coastal area, I feel it is my responsibility to teach my children water safety. It is also a great pleasure to provide swimming lessons for our kids so that they will grow healthy, strong, and be adept at both the beach and the pool. I am so lucky to sit each week and watch my children enjoy every minute of their swimming lessons - just another element of their childhood that I would not miss for quids.

In Melbourne this morning, a mother and her three children were found after a house fire. This mother was unable to save herself, or her babies, and now their childhoods are gone. I have absolutely no good reason to worry. I am very, very blessed.

After swimming lessons, lunchtime and a tiny (and not-so-quiet) quiet time, I took the kidlets off to visit Aunty Megan, Joshua and Aislinn. Josh and Jack, and Phoebe and Aislinn are as thick as thieves - they have all been great mates since they were very tiny. It was lovely to sit with Meegs and chat, while the big kids played and Maisie crawled all over the house finding things to put in her mouth. The big kids actually enjoyed an afternoon reminiscent of my own childhood (and I'm sure those of you who grew up in the 70's and 80's would remember times when the rules were a lot more relaxed than they are now...). Josh, Jack, Aislinn and Phoebe ran barefoot, in the rain, on the grass in the backyard, splashing in puddles, riding bikes, throwing balls, and basically having a squealingly-good time, for about two hours. When they arrived inside, dripping all over the floor, we put them into a warm bath, dressed them in dry clothes, and restrained them from going back out into the wet. Now that's what I call a good afternoon!

While our kids were running rampant, Megan and I kept an eye on the increasingly disturbing news from Queensland. All over Queensland today, mothers were desperately trying to keep their children alive and safe. Houses were being washed away, cars were smashing into each other unchecked, and people were being evacuated from the third largest city in Australia. What's worse, is that this scenario is worsening, and by tomorrow, thousands upon thousands of people will be homeless. Every time I see news of the floods up north, I start to weep - for the families who are stranded, for those who are missing, for those who are already lost...and I know that I have absolutely no good reason to worry. I am very, very blessed.

As completely useless as I feel right now, I am sending all the love and hugs and thoughts out to those suffering in Queensland. It almost feels treacherous, sitting in my safe, dry house, my children fast asleep, my clothes clean, my stomach full. With so much going on in the world that is tragic and awful and sad, it is hard to imagine where to start helping people. So I will bolster myself, think hard about loved ones I already have in Queensland (and several about to make the journey), and find a way to make a tiny difference. Tomorrow, I am going to pull all of the kids' outgrown clothes from the wardrobe and sort them to send to the relief effort. I will find whatever baby items Maisie has outgrown, remember her in them one last time, and send them too. I will sort through bed linen, baby blankets, and kitchen items, and give whatever I can. Because although we lost our jobs last year, and have ourselves been relying on the charity and kindness of our families and friends, Christian and I have much to be thankful for. I am so very, very grateful for the safety and well-being of my loved ones right now. I have absolutely no good reason to worry. I am very, very blessed, and will never take it for granted.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Spending time with Miffy, Whale and Joshie

I am the eldest of three, and have always had a great friendship with both of my siblings (especially when I was the only one old enough to drive...) Jack, Phoebs and Mais absolutely adore Aunty Miffy and her gorgeous man, Uncle Whale (looooong story!!) - they are the 'fun' parents whilst Daddy and I are the 'unfun' parents. Miffy has the uncanny ability to not only understand all of Jack's jokes, but she can add to the silly factor every single time. Whale can make Phoebe laugh simply by looking at her. And Maisie Mouse will go willingly to both of them, even if I am standing right next to them. Now that's love!!! (Cutest thing ever: watching Miffy and Mouse sharing birthday cake on Saturday. Awwwwww!!) Whenever Aunty Miffy and Uncle Whale are part of the festivities, you know there will be an inordinate amount of squealing going on!

My 'little' brother is a bit of a celebrity with my kids. Not only is Uncle Joshie 6 ft 5, but he has lived interstate or been backpacking overseas for most of the time since the kids were born, so his visits are greeted with ridiculous enthusiasm. Jack and Phoebe seem to be perpetually in a state of competition for Uncle Joshie's attention...however I think Maisie might be winning that one!

Tonight, I had the absolute pleasure of having dinner with my entire immediate family - my parents, Joshie, Miffy, Whale, Christian and the team. I can assure you, having everyone in the same time zone doesn't happen very often, let alone the same room. So it was with great glee that we met up to eat together (although we arrived at the restaurant just as the heavens opened, so we got completely and utterly drenched!). Considering how close we were as children, I miss seeing my brother and sister on a regular basis. I just loved sitting back tonight and watching Jack and Phoebalicious flit between their grandparents and aunty and uncles, and seeing Maisie bouncing in her chair with excitement. Considering how late the kids ate their dinner, they were exceptionally well-behaved, which made the evening even more enjoyable.

I was really grateful for tonight, as my brother is preparing for yet another move interstate - this time, to Queensland. Watching my kids crawl all over him, I was both happy that they were showing him affection so freely, and also a bit sad that we see him so infrequently. Regardless of age, height, or distance, he is still the little brother I desperately wished for and have always adored. Similarly, my baby sister is still my best friend, one of the first people I turn to when I need help, and someone who makes me feel happy simply by being around. Nights like tonight are too rare for my liking, but then again, perhaps that's why I recognise how valuable they are?

I can only hope that like my brother and sister and I, my three sprogs grow up to be good mates; that they are able to lean on each other when they need help; that they continue to make each other laugh; that they simply enjoy each other's company when they are old enough to choose their own friends. At this point in time, Jack and Phoebe are great little mates, and play constantly together which makes my heart turn to mush. Maisie is rapidly joining the gang, and will chase the kids around the house, collecting dirt and bits all over herself, laughing madly as she tries to join in the fun. I suppose that's why I chose to have more than one child (and was lucky enough to be able to do so) - so that they will love each other and support each other throughout their lives. After all, one day they'll have to work out who's going to have the granny flat for us in their backyard...or choose a nursing home...

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The festival of sand, butterflies and pink icing

Over the last two days, I have lost count of the number of times I have looked at my three kids and marvelled at how lucky I am. Considering we are wrapping up a two-day birthday extravaganza for the Mouse, they have been remarkably well-behaved!!

Maisie's first birthday yesterday was a wonderful day. Once again, Mais began her day with a snuggle and a feed in our bed. I couldn't help doing a happy-dance inside my head, as when she was born my in-your-dreams breastfeeding goal was to get to her first birthday. Daggy, I know, but it meant a lot to me - and the best part is, she's still going strong. I don't know what it is about nursing, but for me it's the ultimate cuddle. Given that I couldn't feed her big sister for more than 6 days, I am forever grateful for this second chance! (and a reprieve from washing baby bottles...)

Jack and Phoebe were very excited to give Maisie her birthday present - a bunny rabbit that they had stuffed themselves, with a recorded message from them inside it. So cute!! We had decided to take the kids to the beach early in the morning, as it would appear that Maisie is a born beach-bunny. There couldn't have been a better place to go for her birthday, and thankfully the weather co-operated. The kids had a ball, screaming and splashing and running through the waves. Maisie looked very sweet, sitting in a big pool of water and dribbling sand on her legs. It was unfortunate that after I had sunscreened her at home, she had crawled away...because as the day wore on, her sunburned knees became more and more prominent!

After a quiet afternoon at home (for the kids, at least - they played and watched a DVD, while I sweated in the kitchen baking party treats and Christian worked outside in the garden), we took the troops out for dinner. It was only La Porchetta, but they were so excited. We had a table upstairs next to open French doors, with a sea breeze coming in. We sang Happy Birthday to our little one, and she clapped her pudgy little hands and smeared chocolate cake all over herself (and the table and the highchair and the floor...) It was a lovely day, and our girl smiled from the moment she woke until she fell asleep in my arms.

This morning, it was all systems go! Maisie, not surprisingly, slept in, but Jack and Phoebs were ready and raring to go for the birthday party. I think they asked me every three minutes if it was time yet (Jack was asking because he had another party before Maisie's; Phoebe was asking if it was time for cake yet!) By the time Gertrude and her gang arrived, we had a clean house, party food almost ready, pink balloons galore, pink butterfly napkins and hats and loot bags, and an enormous, pink, butterfly birthday cake (which took me HOURS to ice last night, because it kept collapsing - seriously, who would have thought a cake could cause a near-nervous breakdown??)

Our little unit was full to bursting with people who love our Maisie Mouse today. Even though it was stinking hot (note to self: hot day plus oven plus lots of people = hot house no matter how high you crank up the cooler!), crowded and noisy, I think (hope) our loved ones enjoyed the day. I know for a fact that the birthday girl loved every minute. Although she snatched forty winks in the middle of the festivities, the rest of the time she giggled and crawled and nibbled on cake (and other tidbits she found on the carpet...), and I am so glad we threw a party for her. She looked like a little doll in her party dress, and there were soft curls at the nape of her neck. The only time she grew shy was when we all sang "Happy Birthday", and she turned her head into my neck. Other than that, I must say Maisie Elizabeth Rose took the fuss with aplomb. Thank you to everyone who helped celebrate Maisie's first orbit around the sun  - you know who you are. A special thank you to Gertrude and Esmeralda, who brought scrumptious baked goodies and love aplenty, and my lovely Mum, whose treats did not stand a chance!!

To Jack and Phoebe, I would like to say how wonderful you were this weekend. Your little sister is very, very lucky to have a big brother and sister who love her so madly. It has made my heart sing, watching the two of you celebrate Maisie's birthday with joy. I love you both to the moon and back to the beach.

To Christian, thank you for letting me turn our house into a madhouse full of pink butterflies! Without you, I would have been banging my head into a bowl of bright pink icing hours ago. Thanks for everything you do. Love you, babe.

And to my baby birthday girl, Miss Maisie Mouse. Every single moment being your Mummy is a joy. Words cannot express the happiness you have brought to this family, and how lucky we are to hold you in our arms every day. On this your first birthday, I wish you a lifetime of love, luck, happiness, and reaching for the stars. Happy birthday, my darling xxx

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The 364th day of joy

Tomorrow is Maisie Mouse's first birthday.

Today, she woke as usual at 6:30am and came into our bed for a feed and a snuggle, a holiday luxury I shall miss terribly when the school rush begins in a few weeks. We slept that way for about an hour, until I was woken by the sound of soft little hands clapping, and a baby song consisting entirely of the word 'Dad'. She was nestled in the crook of my arm, tucked in the length of my torso, and she was simultaneously so big, and still such a little baby. When she realised I was awake too, I was rewarded with a toothy smile and a honk on the nose. She hadn't tried to wriggle away, but seemed to be enjoying the cuddle and quiet time with Mummy as much as I was.

Tomorrow, we will celebrate our littlest girl's first year with hugs, kisses, presents and preparations for her small party on Saturday. I have no doubt she will revel in the attention.

Today, we have been on a family walk...eaten a quiet lunch...and now my sweetheart is having a long, relaxed, quiet sleep. Our little mouse has dragged herself all over the house this morning, chasing her brother and sister, determined not to be left out of anything! This afternoon we are off to the playground at the park to meet Narnie (my mum). I know that Miss Mouse, sitting high in her Baby Bjorn, will flap and jiggle and shriek with joy at the wind, and the sun, and the kids. And I will enjoy the sensation of her warm, heavy little body held so close to mine.

Tomorrow, I will undoubtedly be inundated with memories of her first day. Maisie spent her first 24 hours in the special care nursery. I did not get to enjoy any snuggles with my darling girl until the nurses brought her in for a feed...and then took her away again. We named her after Christian took pictures of her on his mobile, so I could see her face and decide on the name she would keep for the rest of her life. On the second day, I hobbled down to the nursery with a jar of expressed milk, dragging my drip behind me. When I reached the nursery, I burst into tears because I couldn't even find my own baby. After being scolded by the midwives for getting out of bed at all, let alone walking a significant distance, I was allowed to take my precious bundle back to the ward with me. Since then, she has rarely been out of my sight (clingy mother? yes indeedy. is there a support group for that? I don't really care!!)

Today, I can still say that she is 11 months old, which sounds little. I can pretend that she is not on the verge of becoming a toddler; that she is not desperate to walk and run on her own; that the ability to lie quietly in bed without her trying to escape will continue for a while longer! This morning, she was sitting on the floor playing with some of Phoebe's dress-up jewellery. I crawled over to her to gently retrieve them, and instead of clutching them tightly, she dropped the bling, threw her arms open wide and wrapped them around my neck. Even now my heart aches and my eyes prick with tears at the thought of my little mouse giving me such a big hug, all of her own volition. It was a golden moment of babyhood, let me tell you! I hugged her back, and murmured, "I love you Maisie-Mais". She looked at me solemnly, uttered, "Dad-dad-dad-dad" and hugged me again. I'll still take it!

Tomorrow, my youngest child and my last baby will be one year old. It will be twelve months since the first time I saw her sticky-uppy hair, her sweet little face, and her long, long eyelashes. It will be twelve months since Jack and Phoebe cuddled their baby sister for the first time, holding her gently and looking at her tiny features with awe. It will be twelve months since our family became complete. She has, without a doubt, made our family feel like a happy whole.

Today, I am relishing the fact that instead of crawling properly, Maisie sticks stubbornly to her strange commando-all-arms-and-knees-and-feet dragging all over the house (but my goodness, she's fast now!!). Today, I loved the fact that she allowed me to spoon-feed her at lunchtime while her eyelids got heavier, and heavier. Today, I enjoyed every second of our walk, with Mais in the pram calling out to the kids and Daisy, wriggling her legs and waving her hands. Today, I made the most of carrying her into her cot, putting on the Winnie-the-Pooh mobile, and tucking her in with her dolly, knowing that within minutes she would be splayed on her tummy, breath deep and even, eyelids gently closed.

Tomorrow, our house will be a hive of activity, preparing birthday cakes and other party food; hanging balloons (if we can keep them out of her screaming reach!); and generally enjoying the day with our birthday girl. We will be celebrating the fact that Maisie is healthy and happy; that she is growing stronger every day; that she will soon be running and jumping with the big kids; that she has a life ahead of her in which anything is possible. For the most part, I am enjoying having kids old enough to start doing things like swimming, camping and going places without a portacot. I am excited about our three children being old enough to do activities all together, and potentially having nights when everybody sleeps the whole way through! I will admit though, there is a teeny tiny part of me that is sad to see the 'little baby' years is no secret I am a sucker for small babies, with their clenched fists, milk-drunk sleeping faces, and the smell of a newborn baby's head.

Today, I have a baby girl just shy of her first birthday, who still has a pot belly, closes her fists to sleep, tucks her face under my chin when she's tired, and lifts her arms up to me with a smile on her face. Today, I have a baby girl who is a joy to be around, who adores her siblings, and who is still little enough to sleep on her belly with her knees tucked in and her bottom stuck in the air. Today, I am grateful for the gift of this first year with Maisie. Tomorrow, a whole new gift begins.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The good, the bad, and the temper of a mouse

Today was a busy day of good things... and not-so-good things. Here it is in a nutshell.

Not-so-good: The team did not sleep well last night, and took it in turns to come into our bedroom (or scream from the cot) for no apparent reason at all.

Good: We decided to take them out for the day, so we were out of the house before fatigue could grab hold or before they could murder each other.

Not-so-good: The roadworks on the way to the shopping centre were atrocious. Seriously. Enough is enough - I don't remember a time when there were no roadworks around here, and the roads are still very, very ordinary!!!

Good: We arrived at our local Westfield just in time for a lunch that I didn't have to make or clean up after. Nice.

Not-so-good: We chose a birthday present for Jack's mate, carefully considering age appropriateness, coolness factor, and price. However, when we went through the checkout, the lovingly-chosen present scanned at a much higher price than the one on the shelf. Put nicely, as much as Jack wanted to give this very cool pressie, we simply could not afford it. Daddy had a discussion with the returns desk, and was pushed to the side for around about 15 minutes (and no, I'm not exaggerating!!)

Good: Christian was finally given the difference after a "discussion" with the manager, and it turned out that the item was indeed meant to be at the lower price. Christian = 1, Big W = 0.

Not-so-good: The kids were very kindly given balloons by a promotional thingy - you know, the ones with lethal plastic sticks attached to them. The ones that immediately make you see eyeballs dripping on the end of them, but which would make you look churlish if you refused them.

Good: I have never seen a baby so happy about anything in my whole life!! After we removed the death-stick from her balloon, Maisie laughed her backside off at her balloon for a good 30 minutes, while I held onto it desperately and she batted it with her feet, whacked it with her hands, and attempted to bite it with her fangs. Laugh? You've never seen anything like it. She was shrieking so much people stopped to have a gander.

Not-so-good: After Maisie's balloon landed on the floor in the toilets, we removed it from her loving advances...and paid a heavy penalty. My baby daughter screamed horrible, eardrum-shattering, voicebox-ruining screams all the way from one end of the shopping mall to the other. And the stares I received were not pitying, but rather accusing...

Good: After casually strolling through the mall with a banshee on my shoulder, I turned Maisie around, looked her firmly in the eye, and said, "Stop. You are being very silly." (I didn't expect it to work, but what else did I have??) And amazingly, incredibly, and mercifully, she stopped! (And laughed, the little bugger).

Not-so-good: I had to find a formal dress for a wedding we are attending next week, and with very little money I was a bit anxious about finding anything at all.

Excellent: I found a dress, in the first shop we visited (thank the sweet, sweet Lord), for $39.95!!!!!!!!! What I want to know is, when do I wake up? Seriously - it's quite plain but it's lovely, it fits, and it was UNDER 40 DOLLARS. There is a God.

Not-so-good: The kids napped in the car on the way home, so bedtime was a write-off before it started...

Good: Christian hopped on the bike while I took Jack, Phoebs, the Mouse and Daisy on a flog-them-until-they're-exhausted walk, including running races on the local oval. I may be blonde, but it's not real!!!

Not-so-good: Maisie tried out her newly-acquired temper tantrum skills on us at bedtime, and I must say the newly paint-stripped walls look interesting.

Good: All three kidlets are asleep (or pretending to be), and I still have swishy, shiny new hair. Score.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Random things and shiny new hair

Today was full of random things. Lots of different activities, none of them linked to each other in any way, just random. Not bad, you understand, just....random.

First thing this morning, I abandoned the team (isn't it funny how in most families, Daddy goes off to work every morning and leaves Mummy with the tribe, and no-one blinks, and on the rare occasion that Mummy nicks off without a cherub in tow, everyone holds their breath and says, "Ooh. Will he be ok?" Of course Christian will be ok looking after our three kids. He might not do it every day, but he's their parent as much as I am. And despite having dashing good looks, he's not stupid, either. Seriously. The only thing Daddy can't do, that I can, is breastfeed!) So anyhoo, I tootled off to the hairdresser's this morning, leaving Daddy, Jack, Phoebalina and the Mouse in charge of a very serious errand: taking Daisy to the dog grooming lady.

When I returned at lunchtime (well, yes, let's be honest and say the hair appointment didn't quite last that long, but there were shops to browse in, and.....stuff to get at the supermarket, and, um...well of course the main point is that my hair looked GREAT!!), the kids were having quiet time, lunch was already cleaned up, and everyone was happy to see Mumma because she had been gone for A WHOLE MORNING. Maisie was so happy to see me she licked my shoes, Jack told me my new yellow hair looked bee-yoo-tiful, and Phoebe was conked out on the couch. My lovely hubby had taken care of everything. God I love him!!

At 3pm we went en masse to Maisie's 12 month check up with the health centre sister. In a nutshell, she's perfect (we suspected as much!), and weighs roughly the same as Phoebe when Phoebs was 7 months old!!!! It would seem that Miss Mouse has slipped a few pegs on the percentile chart, but is just 'petite' - nothing to worry about. As far as I'm concerned, it just means her clothes will last longer before she grows out of them. Other than that, she's a little bugger that gets into everything at light speed, all with a grin on her dial. (You can't get cross as someone that cute, and she knows it...)

We collected Daisy from the dog beauty salon, and she smelled a far sight better than when we dropped her off!! Came home, cobbled a dinner together from the contents of the freezer and the crisper (mmm.....I'm an enticing cook, I know!), and bathed the dinner-encrusted children. Since Phoebalicious has been a bit difficult to settle at night recently, I decided to take her, Maisie and Daisy for a walk (yes, I realise my baby and my dog have rhyming names. This is something that didn't occur to us when we changed her name at the 11th hour...truly, I changed my mind after she was born, and didn't even consider the rhyming implications - sorry, Mais! Never mind. My parents have a dog named Jack!!!).

So I left a rather grumpy Jack at home with Daddy, and went for a stroll with my girls. Phoebs kept up a running commentary the whole way ("Mummy, there's a cat! Mummy, there's a lady! I like that lady. Why is the footpath? Is that a red car? Wait for me! Mummy, I have a hat. It's Maisie's hat. I'm a big girl. Aren't I Mummy? I'm a big girl, aren't I Mummy?" And so on, and so forth. She looked very cute, in Maisie's pink and blue striped beanie, her 'Giggle and Hoots' jumper with owls on it, a blue nightie, pink trackies, purple socks and red and white polka-dot shoes. Part chic, part cute, and part odd-ball. Maisie Mouse fell asleep in the pram, Phoebs chattered faster than her feet would carry her, and we arrived home to find the boys playing Wii Golf. Naturally, Phoebalicious joined in, and it would appear that my darling daughter is scarily good at golf!! I could see Daddy's eyes light up...

Now all is quiet. Maisie has fed through my mastitisy boob (ouch!!!!!) and is finally, blessedly asleep; the big kids are snoring; and Christian has just folded the washing while I lazily blog away, new shiny hair flicking as I type. O, what a lady of leisure am I! O, what shall I do with all my excess time? Paint my nails? Iron? Sleep? I'll give you one guess (and it's not ironing!!)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy 2011!! What an auspicious date it is today - 1.1.11. Love it!

Having young children, I have not worried about New Year's festivities for a few years now (unless you count our visit to the labour ward last year - now that was a hootananny!!) So last  night's shindig at Gertrude and Lucky's place with a few of our nearest and dearest, and our combined sprogs was fantastic fun! We drove across to the other side of the city early in the afternoon - actually, at one point we didn't think we would make it at all. Bella, our little tabby cat, decided to wedge herself down behind the garage, meaning we couldn't bring her inside. Needless to say, we weren't going anywhere until Bella was safely in and away from potential fireworks, so it was with a stroke of genius that I went down the other side of the fence with a shovel, and whacked the fence at the exact point she was hiding! Christian said she shot out from behind the garage like a bat (or a cat!) out of hell, so into the house she went, and we were able to get the team on the road.

We had a pretty good run through the city, which meant that when we arrived at Aunty Gertrude's house there was plenty of time to run riot with the other kids. We cooked some snags for the children and set them up outside (and with a glass of wine in hand, I was already having a ball!). Jack and the other big boys had been playing in George the labrador's kennel earlier, and Uncle Lucky had been ribbing them about sleeping outside with the dog if they were naughty. When Jack asked for his third sausage, I said he could have it if he said, "Oh, most beautiful mummy in the world, may I have another sausage?" He laughed, and shook his head. Uncle Lucky said, "Say 'Oh Sir Lucky the Glorious, may I have another sausage?" Again, Jack shook his head and giggled. I suggested, "What about, 'Oh lovely Aunty Gert, another sausage please?" Nope, again he said no. Uncle Lucky tried again, telling Jack, "If you say mine, I'll let you get out of sleeping with George in the kennel tonight, AND I'll let you have a sausage." Jack looked him dead in the eye and quietly said, "Mine." I probably don't need to tell you we reminded Lucky all night that he had been owned by a four year old!!! Haha!!

The screaming banshees...ahem, I mean, the little cherubs were all bunkered down for the night by 9:30, which considering the excitement was a pretty good effort, I reckon! The grown-ups then had a chance to sit around and talk about subjects other than who was their favourite character from Bob the Builder, or whether they preferred Thomas or Percy. It was so lovely, having a glass of champers, chatting away with some of my oldest and dearest friends...but I think we'd all admit that the yawning began around 10:30pm! Funnily enough, the closer we got to midnight, the more New Year's Eve memories involving Gertrude and I began surfacing...especially one in which Gertrude, Ermintrude and I had woven approximately 20 helium balloons around ourselves, and got stuck in the toilet just as the clock was counting down to midnight...we popped free on the stroke of twelve! Ah, good times. (And just while we're here, I'd like to send a shout-out and congratulations to my dear friend Caroline, whom I spent the millenium New Year's Eve with in York, and who gave birth to her first son yesterday. Well done, Caz - now that's a special NYE!!)

After watching the midnight fireworks on the telly (in addition to the premature fireworks down the road which went off at 11:15...???), I'm sorry to say we all crawled into bed. But it was the thought of our little early-risers snoring away on their lilos that did it! Unfortunately, Maisie took the porta-cot-next-to-Mummy's-bed situation as carte blanche on the 3am breastfeeding menu, so I spent almost an hour convincing our wee one that sleep was what she actually needed. After a 6am start from Miss Phoebe, and a 6:30am feed with Miss Maisie, we welcomed the new year with breakfast for the Weetbixy masses. It was pretty cute, actually, seeing our combined kidlets sitting up together in their jarmies. Just like uni days at the flat, only without the hangovers or confused memories.

We waved goodbye to our extended family mid-morning, and found our way home for a very, very, very tired afternoon. In fact, as Daddy plays Wii Golf, and Maisie sits at his feet waving DVD cases, Jack and Phoebe are still trying to go to sleep after being over-tired all day. Irony, anybody? I must admit that although I am tired, it was the best way I could think of to start what will be a wonderful year. Thank you to our gorgeous friends for a fabulous night!! I enjoyed every minute. Now, if I could convince the two toonkynunks in the bunks and the littlest toonky at my feet to go to sleep, perhaps I could enjoy a little shut-eye myself?? Or do I have to put that on Santa's wish list for next year?