Sunday, November 27, 2011

Welcome to the world, Asha Jane xxx

If you could see me now, you'd agree that I am not ideally placed to blog. I'm not even ideally placed to write a shopping list, truth be told.

Right at this moment, I am in my pyjamas, in a hospital bed, doped to the gills. I have a drip in one arm. My abdomen is a mess of pain, following extensive surgery. Altogether, my glamourpuss status is quite up-the-putt.

So I apologise in advance if this post makes little, or no sense, at all.

But you see, I cannot let this day pass without marking it in some way. It would not matter if I wrote about today with a piece of charcoal on a scrap of paper. It would not matter if I scratched my words into the sand (no doubt I will return to say this much more eloquently in the near future anyway, but...)

Today, my little sister became a mother. I am so proud, I could burst. In a few days, when I an home and can blog with more than one finger and a muzzy, druggy head, I shall tell you about this wonderful day. But for now, all I need to say is this: At 1:50pm today, the divine Miss Asha Jane came into the world, weighing 10lb 4oz. I love you already, my beautiful little niece. And I cannot wait to meet you xxxx

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The day the boobies dried.

Maisie Mouse was being a bit of a grump this morning. Just a bit scratchy, a bit off. We had to drop Jack at the Kiss 'n' Go at the school gate this morning instead of walking him in, but we've done that before and she has never had a problem waving like a maniac from the back seat. We left Phoebalina for an extra day at kinder, and the Mouse didn't seem to have a problem with that, either.

But as we drove home to meet Aunty Miffy back at our house, Miss Mouse yelled. And whinged. And squirmed. Either she was not a fan of the classic "9 at 9" on Gold 104, or there was something bothering her.

I thought as I drove along, trying to ignore the tempest growing in the back seat. What could be troubling my littlest demon? She has recently developed an abiding hatred of having a dirty nappy (more than usual, as she's never been tolerant of a less-than-fragrant Huggies), and will throw a little tanty if I don't change her IMMEDIATELY. But she was clean and fresh, so that wasn't the problem.

She had been given a drink of "more" (which normal people call water) before we left the house (complete with an enthusiastic "Cheers!"), so she couldn't be thirsty. And she had devoured her brekkie as usual, so she shouldn't have been hungry. She had slept for twelve hours, only sleep-talking for a few minutes at midnight (which never fails to scare the bejeesus out of Mama...)

She had pretty shoes on (always a necessity for happiness, according to the rules of the Mouse), clutched a "Rora boop" (Dora book - well, duh!) in her big girl MaxiRider car seat, and had Mummy all to herself. So far, so good in the world of the Mouse.

As I negotiated the never-ending roadworks that are strewn from our house to the school, I wondered - when was her last breastfeed? Could she possibly be missing her special Mummy cuddles? Was it comfort that she was seeking?

This might sound absolutely terrible, but I couldn't actually remember when Maisie's last feed was. I can remember having it - it was early morning, snuggled in bed, and she was sleepy and more settled than normal. She fed for a long time while one little hand patted me softly (and with the notable absence of kicking feet and gnawing teeth). It was some time last week, I'm sure. But with my recent illness, the early mornings of working days and her new habit of playing with the kids in her cot in the mornings, I couldn't remember exactly when our last snuggle had been.

Just to tick the box more than anything, when we arrived home I scooped her up in a hug and sat on the couch. I opened my blouse and offered her a drink. She kissed my breast, pursed her little lips, and said, "No, Mummy. Bye-bye boobies." I asked her, "Bye bye boobies? No more?" She laughed and in reply, pulled my top down over my chest. And that was that.

And I couldn't have asked for a better weaning experience from my youngest baby.

I've blogged before about breastfeeding an older toddler, and how I relished it. Breastfeeding Maisie has been one of the triumphs of my parenting life so far, if only because it was so hard-won. Considering the obstacles we overcame to establish such a strong, long-term breastfeeding relationship, I enjoyed every minute. I didn't want it to be me who drew it to a close (unless it was as I was waving her off to uni - then I might have had a problem). In my happiest dreams, Maisie would make her own mind up when she was ready to wean.

It's been so gradual, there has been no pain. This might not sound like a big deal, but for someone who has always had enough milk for triplets, I was always cautious of this before with the other two. There has been no need to substitute other drinks of milk or extra cuddles - she just now goes to bed when the big kids do, and with the Mouse there's always oodles of tuddles. Most amazingly, there has been no tears. Certainly not from Mais, my happy little girl who is so sure of her own mind. And incredibly, not from me.

We are both ready for this. It is the right time. I can calmly and happily say that I fed my last baby for twenty-two months, and when she was ready, we stopped. It is one more step away from babyhood for my littlest girl, and I am proud of her for taking that step so confidently and with a great sense of humour. No doubt at some point in the future I will feel a pang watching another mother feed her baby. Right now, though, the only pang I feel is the one I get when I look in my underwear drawer and see my tired, five-year-old maternity bras. Urgh.

So I would like to thank the Mouse for being so gentle with her Mumma. For taking her time, and letting this chapter in our lives close quietly, and without fanfare. For letting me enjoy it for so long, but also be quite happy for it to end. For not following her brother's lead, and self-weaning abruptly from three feeds a day to none in one fell swoop. For giving me the chance to redeem my failure to breastfeed Phoebe (and yes, I know it wasn't anyone's fault; and yes, I know bottle-feeding isn't a failure; and yes, I've blogged about this before; and no, I'm not judging anyone. OK? Ok.) For being such an affectionate little bunny, dispensing so many kisses and cuddles that I didn't even notice that the special cuddles were missing until they were gone.

Thanks Mais. I love you more than space. I only have one teeny-tiny problem with all of this (and I hate to complain, but...) - if I can't stuff a boob in your mouth when you wake up loud and chatty at 5:30 in the morning, does this mean we'll have to get up? Or does self-weaning mean you're old enough to make your own Weetbix?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Just like wetting your pants in public

Weeing on a white plastic stick to see if your life is about to irrevocably change forever. Freaky.

Feeling another, unseen, human being continually roll and kick and hiccup and pummel you from the inside. Freaky.

Having a stretch and sweep. Freaky. *shudder*

Having so many blood tests and urine tests and *ahem* examinations in your nether regions that it all becomes routine. Freaky.

Not caring a whit that there is an entire stadium's worth of people watching your lady bits strain (unsuccessfully) to birth your child. Freaky.

Willingly staying awake for 48 hours to express milk and feed your newborn to flush out his jaundice, only stopping to sleep when the green demon floats across the room grinning at you. Freaky.

The whole colostrum / milk-coming-in / mastitis / colic / attempting to feed a starving baby that won't feed / bottles vs. breast malarchy. Freaky.

Learning how to function on two hours sleep. Freaky.

Enduring every medical procedure under the sun post-childbirth in an attempt to fix the destruction wrought by three little cherubs. Freaky.

Having a CT scan. FUH-REAKY. I'm sorry. I have had a lot of medical gear happen to me over the years. Adenoidectomy. Appendectomy. Tonsillectomy. Bowel obstruction. Bowel resection. Uterine ablation. All the palaver that goes with being pregnant and then squeezing a fully-formed human out of a protesting female body. Septicaemia. The eight (EIGHT!) attempts it took to insert a canula into my arm after nearly carking it in the ambulance. Colonoscopy. Gastroscopy. Colonoscopy again. Gastroscopy. Again.

But by far and away, the freakiest thing I have ever experienced was the CT scan. Most likely because it completely took me by surprise. There was no lead-up. I had no idea what it entailed. I went from sitting comfortably in the specialist's office, to being whisked downstairs for a CT scan within an hour.

The nurse that prepped me was gorgeous (not in a sexy way, although she was quite pretty I suppose? I dunno?) and explained what I would need to do, and the possible side-effects I would feel as a result of having radioactive stuff injected into my veins. I thought it all looked pretty easy (apart from the canula - those things are NOT my friends). I popped on the fetching white backless gown, lay down on the big white bed in the big white circly thingy, and had the *shudder* canula inserted.

When the radioactive stuff went into my arm, my face went warm, my hands went tingly and I wet my pants. No seriously. That's what it felt like. The fur-reakiest feeling I have ever had, including when I had my waters broken with a knitting needle. Well, ok. I didn't actually wet my knickers. But apparently it's a common side-effect, that the warmth of the radioactive meds makes ladies feel as though they've had a little accident. Someone bring me a Tena lady.

Now, you might wonder why I'm telling you this. The way I see it, someone needs to get a laugh out of it. Because I sure as hell didn't. Way too freaky for this little lady. Give me a public ventouse any day.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I love old ladies

There's something about elderly ladies that I love. Not in a kinky, dodgy way - obviously. This is a family show. What I mean is, I find women of a certain generation appealing (geez, this still sounds dodge) because of particular characteristics they all seem to share. Quite possibly, these characteristics are all in my head, but nevertheless.

I don't know if it's just me, but octogenarian ladies that I come across in the supermarket, the butcher's, the chemist, wherever, they all have the same twinkle in their eye. They're usually running some errand or other, and you can tell that they're still fiercely independent. Even more so if there is a stooped, gentle octogenarian gentleman/husband type accompanying them. In winter, they wear sensible knitted jumpers or cardigans with pressed slacks or a skirt. Sensible shoes. Proper handbag or trolley on wheels. Hair nicely brushed, jewellery on, usually face powder and lipstick at the very least. There's something undefinable that sets them apart as being capable.

I always run into them at the shops, because during the day when all the busy people with jobs are at their places of employment, it's only the mummies or daddies with little children and old people...ahem, I mean, the senior the shops. Next time you're at Woolies at 9:30 on a weekday morning, take a look around. It's always a veritable sea of toddler-toting trolleys, mums mumbling shopping lists, and grannies doing their groceries. And it's a hell of a lot more pleasant than the scene at 4pm, when tired schoolkids are added to the mix.

Lately, my littlest 'helper' has decided she doesn't want to ride shotgun in the trolley anymore. No, the Mouse has been quite vocal about her decision to run the aisles like Beebee. And I've got to say, she's pretty good about trotting behind me. She only occasionally gets distracted by a random Dora picture, which is completely understandable. Most of the time, both my girls quite happily run circles around the trolley while I throw the bare essentials in as quickly as I can.

What I absolutely love about the elderly ladies in the supermarket is that they always have a smile for a toddler. I don't think it matters if the lady in question had ten children, or none at all - the older the lady, the wider the smile. Every single time Maisie or Phoebe cross the path of an elderly lady, they are bestowed with a beautiful, understanding, patient smile. I don't know if it's the blonde curls or the cheeky grins my daughters both possess, but they always manage to elicit warmth from an old lady.

Today, both of my little princesses had immunisations at 9am, which meant that the weekly supermarketing was done under the cover of Dora and Diddles bandaids. Maisie needed the help of a bag of pikelets to get her through the ordeal (I paid for the packet at the end - yes, I know this is technically stealing, as my husband continually points out, but what would you prefer? Eardrum-popping screaming, or payment for an empty bag of pikelets? Yep. That's what I thought.) but overall, it wasn't too bad. We kept running into one lovely older lady who beamed at the Mouse and Beebee every time we crossed paths. Phoebe was quite enchanted, and did some ballerina dance moves to show her appreciation.

By the time we reached the chemist to get some antihistamine for Miss Mouse, I had a full trolley, a tired and sore big girl, and an armful of very sad toddler. There was one lady ahead of me being served, so I stood and waited. Without warning, I was surrounded by a crowd of ladies, all clutching prescriptions and enviro-friendly green shopping bags. But these were no octogenarians. These were at least ten years younger, if not more. Which, I'm sure you realise, is a completely different kettle of fish.

These ladies did not beam warmly at my offspring and feel sorry for their poor, sore little arms. These ladies did not see my plight of full arms and take pity. Oh no. These ladies wanted their drugs, and they wanted them NOW. While all four pharmacists and three assistants were suddenly too busy to serve, I watched as the crowd of women crept closer and closer to the counter. They were all eyeing each other, like sprinters at the starting line. One in particular was watching me, because she knew I was there first. And she knew I knew. And I knew she knew I knew. Um......sorry. What? Oh.

So anyway, the young girl asked the fatal question, "Who was next please?" Now, usually, I would have left it alone, and allowed the pushy oul one to go first. But I had a silently suffering Phoebalina next to me, and a weeping Mouse wrapped around my neck. So I did what any woman worth her salt would do. I thrust my hand up in the air (jostling poor Mousy around) and said over the other woman, "I am!" The sales assistant looked at me, and then the other lady, and seemed unsure what to do (because, in the interim, I had been pushed back with my cumbersome trolley, while the other one was in poll position). There was murmuring in the ranks. I repeated myself, saying very clearly, "I am next. All I waiting for is some Claratyne for my little girl. Thank you."

Some old biddy (well, she was!) up the back muttered about pushing in, and I turned around and said, "Yes, it's terrible, isn't it? I've been here for ten minutes. No one seemed to know how to line up behind me." I heard several sexagenarian noses get bent out of shape with that, but I didn't care. I'm sure I heard one octogenarian present snort with laughter, before she helped me move my trolley through the crowd. There was definitely a twinkle in her eye.

Now, I'm not saying that all 60 year old women are grumpy pusher-innerers. I think I just struck a bad bunch today (withdrawal symptoms from their diabetes meds, perhaps??) But generally speaking, I think the longer it's been since they themselves had small children to raise, the more tolerant they are. (Certainly, the 70 year old men in the supermarket are universally awful. Seriously!!! Watch them bump into a toddler, and wait for the child to apologise. I'll give them manners....) I love old ladies. Don't you?

Friday, November 11, 2011


The opportunity to wake up in my own home, after a night in a warm, clean, bed.

The ability to feed my children plentiful amounts of good, fresh food.

The right to drive freely in my own car, to my son's school, to leave him for a day of education in a safe, friendly government school.

To know that, while at school, my son would be treated exactly like every other child in attendance.

The opportunity to wash my own dishes, hang out my clean washing in the sunshine, and pick up the many toys my children possess, in my own time, in my own house.

The freedom to watch whatever I choose on the television, and read whatever I please in the newspaper (assuming, of course, that I agree to Dora on the box and to ignore my newspaper for three days of course...)

The right to walk down the street as I choose, without fear of reprisal or hate.

The chance to explain to my five year old son, the meaning of the poppy pinned to his school shirt. To tell him the story of his great-great-grandfather, who fought in the first World War, and who saw things I hope my son never does.Who came home to become a gentle, kind, wonderful father to my grandfather.

The ability to live in a town where I am not afraid of the police, or the rules. Where I am not afraid of someone coming to take my children away. Where I will not lose my house or my possessions because of my beliefs. Where I will not be persecuted for the colour of my skin, or my religion.

The opportunity to say thank you, again and again, to the many thousands of men and women who gave their lives so that we might live peaceful, safe lives. The opportunity to say thank you, again and again, to the many thousands of men, women and children who gave their fathers, brothers, husbands, uncles, nephews, grandfathers, friends, and possible futures, so that we might live as we do today. And to apologise, that for their sacrifice, they might be left with only memories.

These are the things I am grateful for, on this Remembrance Day. Lest we forget.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Daddy did bop!

It would appear that my little family has been perched on a precipice for some time now.

And it would seem that we have quietly tipped over the edge of that precipice, without an obvious movement. Without any panic, or distress, or fear. Which is better, I suppose, than trying to flee in the opposite direction, or resisting the inevitable pull of gravity. Without fuss or ado, my little family seems to have arrived in the Land of Big Kids.

I took a long, hard look at my beanstalk of a toddler this morning, and realised that Maisie is no longer a baby. Now, I know that might seem like an absurd comment to all of your lovely people out there in BloggyLand. Of course she's not a baby, I hear you mutter, shaking your wise heads at my ridiculousness. She's nearly two!

The thing is, you see, for the last five years we've been either a household with a baby in it, or a household who could have another baby in it. The baby years was a chapter that continued on, rather than a book that had been decidedly closed. And now that the Mouse is approaching her second birthday, and I most certainly am unable to have another baby, this is a fact that has slapped me rather rudely in the face.

Obviously, there are facets of life that are infinitely easier without a newborn in tow. And I do not need to be told how lucky I am to have mothered three newborns (and to have managed to get them the first years of life without significant injury...) I suppose I just hadn't really thought about the next phase in our parenting life before it was thrust upon us.

So I'd like to take this opportunity to celebrate the Mouse, aged 22 months, and the beginning of our household of "big kids". Yes, I baby her more than I should. And yes, I mourn the loss of her babyhood in a way I never did with Jack and Phoebe, because she is my last. Hey, does it make me a bad mother if I admit that I cheered for every milestone that the big kids reached? Not because I wanted them to grow up quickly, or stop being babies - but rather I was loving watching them grow, and I didn't get sad at the thought of them getting bigger and older. I thought I could have one more baby to relish the newbie-ness. Luckily for me, I did. It just meant that at some point, I would have to relinquish the last babyhood. This is that point.

In her own charming way, Maisie has gently forced me to acknowledge that she is growing into a big little girl. Firstly, there is her language, which is constant, expressive and often hilarious. She will often begin a sentence with, "Mummy? um...." as though she is thinking hard about her very important question. If something is good, she will ask, "aden?" for it again, 'cheeeeeeeeeeeeze!' is her favourite food, (as are 'titties', her unfortunate pronounciation for bikkies), 'Nernie', 'Charchie', 'Dizey' and 'Ella' are her pets, all dogs are woo-woos, all cats are 'mows', and most other animals are woo-woos. Except for pigs, which are some gutteral sound that I cannot spell. Cows and horses are both 'moos'.

When she goes missing during the day, Maisie can typically be found either playing Barbies on my bed, shouting into her 'phone' (which is actually the end of the cords to the blinds in the kids' room) on Beebee's "beb", or trying to 'love' Ernie (and the poor old cat isn't fond of toddler kisses on his back at the best of times). Currently she is charging around the house wearing Bonds undies with apples on them (or 'bopples'), a fluffy red jumper and Beebee's stripey sun hat. She is alternately pushing the dolls' highchair around like a pram, with the dress-up stethoscope placed lovingly inside, or wandering around moaning like a zombie with her hat placed over her eyes. Every now and then the hat comes off, which means it is thrust in my face with a wheedling, "Aden!". As we speak, Jack's Ben 10 shoes are being added to the ensemble....

In the last week, as I have spent much time sitting or lying quietly in the loungeroom, Maisie has discovered the delights of Beebee's brand-new Dorothy the Dinosaur tea set. Many times a day, I have a tiny pink cup shoved in my face so that we can smash cups together and say "Cheers!". She feeds her 'babies' with a fork and any container she can get her hands on. Sometimes, her top is pulled up to offer a 'boobie', but more often than not, the doll will receive a drink via a bottle to the eye region.

Maisie sings all the songs she knows pretty much non-stop, and the only way you can tell what she's babbling is the tune. We hear all the swimming lesson songs over and over, including her teacher's own little mantra of "paddle, paddle, kick, kick!", which comes out more like, "addle, addle, i! i!" Her beloved Teletubbies are known as the Uh-Ohs, and they are all called Titty-titty, and La La. Aren't they?

Her other passion, the Diddles, is growing strong. But forget actually naming Anthony, Jeff, Murray or Sam properly. According to the Mouse, they are all called 'Diddle', as is Henry the Octopus and Captain Feathersword. Dorothy in all her pink fairy tutu wonder is bestowed with "Awty". As she should be.

As if all this wasn't enough to show Mummy that the Mouse is actually a bona fide big girl, Maisie learned how to climb the ladder to the top bunk last week. And now does it as often as she can, whenever Mummy forgets to put the ladder up on top of the bed. She demands that we read books to her at bedtime, just like Jack and Phoebe (as long as they are about the Diddles, or animals. Or both.)

She has spindly, long legs that run and run, and a curly blonde mullet. She is only now growing into her Size 1 clothes, which is bizarre given that her big brother and sister started wearing that size aged 9 months. When she dances, she shrugs her shoulders and bobs her head. She can take the mickey out of the tap-dancing girl on the Teletubbies DVD. She adores drawing, especially if she is doing it with Beebee. Her bottom is her 'bum-bum' (which we deduced only after watching her imitate the kids on the DVD doing the boom-boom dance....sad, but true!)

Best of all, she has a great sense of humour. To see her laughing along with the big kids is an amazing feeling, especially when she has no idea what the joke is. Around the dinner table the other night, Daddy *ahem* passed wind rather loudly. Of course we all had a chuckle and Daddy excused himself. When all the laughter had died down, Mais took a look around the table and said clearly, "Daddy did bop!" Well. We were in stitches, not only because this was Maisie's first real proper sentence. The reaction she got was genuine hilarity, which only served to encourage her to repeat her first sentence again, and again. In the aftermath of her comedic success, she learned not only to blame others for her own indiscretions, but also to blame the dog. I am not encouraging this behaviour at all.

She might be my last baby, the littlest team member, and a stubborn little cow at times, but the Mouse has very gently ushered her Mummy into the world of big kids. We are still eight weeks away from her second birthday, but somehow Maisie has convinced me that the end of the baby-days chapter is a good place to be. Quite possibly, it might have something to do with the way she places her sweet little hands on Aunty Miffy's baby belly. After all, her cousin George is in there, growing lovely and chubby for Aunty Sal to have lots of baby-snuggles with when he or she deigns to come out....hmmm. Come to think of it, perhaps I don't have to give up the baby days yet. When I finally become an aunty (hopefully sometime this week?!?), I'll get to inhale that delicious newborn-head smell, wrap my arms around the tiny bundle of niece or nephew, savour the moment...and then hand them back when the crying begins.

So as you can see, my baby has grown up despite my insistence on keeping her in Bonds wondersuits. She now makes up little games and plays happily at them for ages. She brings me bits of fluff and things off the carpet to put in the 'bim'. The Mouse has very definitely become a happy, busy, curious little girl who has every intention of joining the big kids in everything they do. And it would seem that without anybody noticing, Maisie delivered her family safely over the precipice of babyhood. And she did such a good job of closing the chapter on babyhood, it didn't hurt at all.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Nonagenerians, tutus and a very flat tummy

Hey there Neglecterinos,
(Yes, it's true. I have contracted a slight case of NedFlandersitis....or quite possibly have gone slightly doolally. Whatever.)

So....*insert awkward silence*'ve you been?? Good? Good.

It's been crazy as usual around here. Which I suppose is normal (or even expected?). And quite frankly, I have enough to worry about with thinking about the fact I just labelled my own family stark raving bonkers without batting an eyelid...

If I gave you the details, most likely we'd both come away feeling a bit grotty and slightly how about I just summarise?? Paraphrase, if you like. And just to make it more palatable, I'll *ahem* "edit" some of the information.....m'kay? Not all of it. Just the bits that do I put this....tidying up.

So what's been going on with Team O'Toole this past week-and-a-bit? Well...

* Today, my Pa Bert is 91 years old. That's pretty amazing!! I told Jack and Phoebe that is was Old Pa's birthday today, and asked them to guess his age. Jack guessed 300. Phoebe guessed 68 (which I suppose is quite old when you're four...). Ninety-one candles is a big deal - more than most of us can fathom. Happy birthday Pa!

* I got all my hair cut off. It had reached my waist and was a nest of split ends, so I decided to be a grown-up and get it lopped off. Thank goodness for the Mouse's newfound obsession with the Muppets (and more specifically, thank goodness for YouTube on my iphone!!), as she watched "mee-mee" (Beaker to normal people) and the Swedish chef for the full hour it took Whitney to change my head.

Funnily enough, after getting five inches of hair cut off, not many people noticed....and those who did, asked me, "Did you have your hair cut?" Even Jack swore black and blue that I'd just tied it up. Maybe next time I'll do something drastic?!?

* Gertrude, Esmerelda and I spent one glorious night up in the city last weekend. We shopped (or to be totally accurate, we drooled in Zara), drank an uninterrupted glass of wine and actually held a conversation in which no one needed their bottom wiped (we hadn't imbibed enough vino to need help), and went out for dinner. And yes, you may throw things at the computer screen when I tell you that instead of going dancing or heading out to the pub, we went back to our little apartment to keep chatting over a cup of tea. But let's face it - we'd eaten a meal we hadn't had to cook, there were no dishes to wash, there were no children ANYWHERE, we were able to sleep all night (yep, that's right - 8 hours!!!), and when we woke up (of our own volition, and with no inkling of a Wiggle in earshot), we had breakfast and went window-shopping without a pram or a nappy bag even entering anyone's head. It was triumphant.

* My kids love dressing up at the best of times, but Halloween proved to be a new favourite in this house. Phoebe and Maisie have already spent the most part of the last month in their fairy dresses (over the top of their normal clothes, or their pyjamas, or sometimes just over a nappy or some undies). The Mouse is currently sporting Jack's old dinosaur pjs (the ones I will struggle to part with when she is too big for them, because all three of my babies have worn them) teamed with a fetching pink tutu. Phoebe managed to dress herself this morning in sensible trackies (pink velour, of course!) and a matching pink tutu. Obviously.

But even thought the girls are in costume pretty much every day, it was Jack who embraced Halloween with a passion this year. I tried to convince him to wear his Batman costume to the school disco last Friday, but he was determined to be a vampire. So I trawled the $2 shops and the Reject shop before I found vampire teeth ($1) and a cape ($4), which was the best five bucks I ever spent. By the time he had red biro blood "dripping" from his mouth, and black eyeshadow smudged around his eyes, Count Jackula was a knockout. He was delighted with himself, and even more so when some of the teachers at school didn't recognise him! All Christian and I could do was sit back and watch our baby emo with pride.

* Last week, I had an appointment with a surgeon. Let's just say that I contracted an illness as an 11 year old which was so rare I was used as a guinea pig to find a cure. The other little girl who got it at the same time as me died. At the time, my parents were told that the doctors weren't really sure what the long-term effects would be. As it turned out, apart from a suppressed immune system, there weren't really any obvious effects until my body began enduring pregnancies. Anyway, long story short, after 24 years of on-again-off-again minor problems, the last three months have seen me in increasing *ahem* difficulties. So off I popped to yet another specialist to see if he held the magic solution to my problem.

I've seen many, many doctors since I was eleven. I admire them greatly for their skill, composure and compassion. I even wanted to be one. Goodness, I wouldn't be here but for the assured hands and cool brains of two surgeons, at least. Unfortunately, the man I saw last week was not one of the compassionate ones. Qualified? Absolutely. Skilled? I'm sure he is. But he will not be laying one hand on me, not after completely dismissing me as a hypochondriac without examining me, or even listening to me. I'm sure the man was busy, but he could have at least read my referral letter.

* Anyhow, despite that little bump in the road, yesterday I had the first "investigative" procedure in an attempt to find out what's wrong with me (and no, people, obviously we're not talking about my head - it would take a team of people too many years to get to the bottom of my psychological issues.....let's leave the crazy alone, shall we???) Now, how to phrase this delicately...

I spent Melbourne Cup Day fasting, which was fine. In the afternoon I had to ingest some liquids which would help "cleanse" my insides. Well. I'm pretty sure my insides were scoured with steel wool. By yesterday morning, I was about as clean as anyone would ever get, with a thumping headache thanks to a ban on drinking anything, even water, for six hours before the main event. But boy, oh boy, was my tummy flat!!! Forget dieting. Next time I want to forego a girdle at a wedding, I'm going to do "Dr. Purge's Dramatic Diminishing Diet" (aka taking so many laxatives that your oesophagus attempts to exit the terminal end of your gastrointestinal tract) (And yes, I'm joking. I do not condone taking laxatives for dieting purposes. I do not condone laxatives, full stop. Dieting is evil. Being roundy is good. But holy moly, was my tummy flat!!!)

Even now, the day after the main event, I am still feeling the effects of the general anaesthetic and the magic purging drink. And I'm quite annoyed that even though I'm now allowed to eat, doing so makes me feel nauseous (although that may just be the irritating kid on Postman know - the doctor's daughter that speaks as though her nose is full of mucous?? I can't stand her. She makes me feel squiffy)

Anyway, so the girls and I are having a quiet day at home. Poor Christian has gone back to work for a rest. Phoebalina has been so good, making me endless cups of 'tea' and all sorts of meals with her toy tea set (served, of course, by a princess in a pink tutu). The Mouse has been less than impressed with the whole Mummy-lying-on-the-couch scenario, demanding "Up!" at me until I comply. Other than that, she's been dawdling around with her Duplo, shouting into her mobile phone and harassing Ernie. A normal day for Mais. She'll be right. As long as there's cheese in the fridge, Maisie is happy.

It will be quite nice, actually, having a day at home with the girls. Can't drive anywhere, can't do much. Just nursing my sore tummy and keeping the Mouse from climbing the bunk ladder (her newest and proudest accomplishment to date). As long as Aunty Miffy doesn't go into labour today, we'll be just fine...although wouldn't it be cool if Miffy's baby had the same birthday is his or her great-grandfather?? I guess I could call a taxi to get me there...