Thursday, January 24, 2013

How a movie put me into hospital

So I bet you're dying to hear how going to a movie landed me in hospital?

Let me explain.

This date, January 24, seems to be a significant one on our calendar. You'll see what I mean.

First of all, it would appear that our Huggies-free era may be in its' infancy. After nearly seven years of nappies on various bottoms (rarely mine), the potty-resistant Mouse made her first steps towards big-girl undies today. My Mum was looking after Jack and the Mouse, and she took them down to the beach early this morning to get a paddle in before the sun reached its' zenith. Apparently, at some point the Mouse was coerced by Narnie into having a go on the potty. Narnie must have some magical powers, cos Mummy has had Z.E.R.O. success with Toilet Training The Third Child ( heretofore known as TTTTC) So there you have notable January 24 fact number one :)

Right now, I'm in bed with Phoebalina, Ernie, and a whole lotta tissues, watching the tennis. If my girl weren't so miserable, it'd be lovely. But the reason why Jack and the Mouse were with Narnie today is that my middle baby went to hospital and had her adenoids removed. That nasty old general anaesthetic has knocked her for six. She is pale, a bit weepy and all bent out of shape. I couldn't be more proud.

Phoebs has dealt with snozz-related issues since she was born, and we've been waiting for this surgery for six months. I was so relieved that we were squeezed in by the specialist with enough time to recover for school. I was also delighted that any anxiety Phoebe had about her "nostrils" being removed was mostly alleviated by a new pink Dora nightie to wear to hospital.

We were at Frankston hospital at 7 this morning, and she was discharged about 4pm. Phoebs spent time playing in the toy room of the paediatric ward (I drank about 50 cups of air coffee), spoke to anaesthetists and nurses and doctors, and wore her hospital gown with aplomb. She wasn't too impressed with the hairnets required for the operating theatre, but quietly drew a picture while waiting for her turn. Every single person who cared for my daughter today was quite simply brilliant. They spoke kindly, made jokes to make her laugh, allayed her fears and kept her comfortable. And in return, my little girl was a very grown-up, quite tiny-looking-in-the-hospital-bed, five year old who was very brave (and quite stylish too).

It was our first time to have a child in hospital under a general anaesthetic, having surgery. So as far as notable fact for January 24 number two goes, I couldn't be more delighted that it's over. As far as I'm concerned, Phoebe's healthy new life starts today. Nothing will stop her now!!

Which brings me to the explanation of how going to a movie landed me in hospital. For you see, ten years ago, on January 24, 2003, I went to see 'Chicago' at Rosebud Cinema. I remember that I had a drink at the pub beforehand, and that it was about 42 degrees that day. And it was on that January 24 that I realised that the man I was talking to was really, really funny. And clever. And just...nice. Not the revelation I expected while talking to someone I'd known for quite some time, but then again, on that January 24 I worked out pretty quickly that I didn't really know this guy at all. And I really, really wanted to.

So, January 24, 2003 to January 24, 2013. One rather lovely bloke took me to a movie, and it turned into ten years, a sprawling, gap-toothed 6 year old, a growing-up-too-fast 3 year old...and a snoring 5 year old lady lying next to me in the bed, with a purring old-man pussy cat between us for comfort. I reckon that movie ticket was worth every cent.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Three candles for Maisie Mouse

To our littlest big girl, Maisie Mouse,

Today is your third birthday. You have danced endlessly, laughed with your whole belly, delighted in your Barbie birthday cake, been annoyed when splashed with cold water in the paddling pool, swung joyously on the playground swings, cut a wooden birthday cake and served it to your family, and unwrapped many lovely presents.

You spoke to your family on the phone, just like a big girl. When asked how old you were, you exclaimed proudly "Free!", while holding up five fingers. You changed your outfit approximately four times. You were so excited to see the pink balloons and bunting festooning the house in your honour. To see your face when we all finally, finally, sang 'Happy Birthday' to you (an event you had been waiting for for about a month) was priceless.

At three years old, you are a longer-legged, chattier, more stubborn version of your baby self. You can be the sweetest little girl alive, all sunshine and light and sharing...but woe betide anyone who tries to "share" the Barbie you are playing with. You adore Jack and Beebee to the moon, but you are completely aware that they both think the sun shines out of you. You know that they will give in to you 99% of the time. You have Jack twisted completely around your little finger, and Phoebs would give her last dolly to you. And frequently does.

You rarely stop talking (which in our household is considered entirely normal). You use a sing-song baby voice for Daisy and Asha (and the majority of your baby dolls who have been behaving nicely). You use a wheedling, persistant voice to get someone (ANYONE!) to put on a Wiggles DVD any chance you get. You have a cross, completely hilarious stern voice (scarily close to my own) that you use on anyone who must "Stay dere! Wait a minute. I tum back, ok? Stay dere", complete with hand actions and finger pointing.

You still speak of lot of curly toddler-gibberish, interspersed with comprehensible words. I could listen to you talk for hours...and quite frequently, I do. You sing incessantly, and in the past month or so have butchered several Christmas carols repeatedly. You never let the lack of a melody hold you back. We had a delightful few weeks listening to you sing "Baa baa black sh!t", and quite frankly, I miss your Mousian version of Happy Birthday. Although we originally thought you were singing "I poo on my head" (which brought enough mirth on its' own, believe me!), apparently you were singing, "Ah poo were where wet! Ah poo were where wet!" which translates directly into the standard, boring lyrics for Happy Birthday. The only reason we know this is because the tune stayed more or less the same. And you sang it, ad nauseum, whenever candles or cakes were spied. Clever little mouse.

You are a great one for giving me directions whilst driving ("Not dis way, Mumma! Dat way!") and pointing out places that you know ("Mumma! Look! Mine swimming!! Paddle, paddle, kick, kick!! Look!!!!" and "Mumma! Mine kinder!! Look!"). You have the scary ability to smell a playground (unseen by any adult eye) 10km away. Any sight of any water at all unleashes cries of "Bitch! Bitch!", which of course, means that you love swimming. Obviously. (Except recently, all water is now a "ribber". Even the bath.)

You say the sweetest things at the funniest times. Such as the day you were popping out to the shops with your Daddy, and you came to me at the kitchen sink and whispered, "Have fun washing da dishes, Mumma". Or when, any time I would go to the supermarket without you, you would insist I had been to the doctors. "Your tummy sore, Mumma?" You will grab my head in both hands, pull it down towards yours, and whisper things so softly into my ear that I cannot understand a word. Usually, messages like this end with "I you, Mumma". Which simply means, I love you Mumma. Which breaks my heart every single time. Even when you've just been a completely stubborn little cow.

You are such a Mumma's girl, and I love it. I think the fact you slept in our bed nearly every night for the first year of your life (the easiest way to keep you quiet while living with Grandma and Grandpa!) has spoiled both of us, because I still feel happiest lying with you in my arms. Yesterday you had a very high temperature and were a little bundle of misery. I stripped you off and placed your bare chest on mine, just as I did when you were tiny and had colic. I'm not sure who was calmed more - me, or you.

Whenever we are preparing to go somewhere, you always need to check where I will be. "I stay Mumma? I stay Mumma." Thank goodness you are now happy to go off to kinder. Considering that we have been attached at the hip for the first 2 and a half years of your life, I am eternally grateful that you will happily toddle off for a day at long as I come back! I love the fact that every single time I come to collect you from daycare, you barrel across the room and snatch me around my knees, bellowing at anyone who will listen, "My Mummy! My Mummy came back!", and then gleefully return to whatever you were doing before I entered the room. I love that.

At three years old, you are quite simply, a delight. A funny, affectionate, stubborn, whimsical, musical, endearing, dog-cuddling, cat-harrassing, sibling-dominating, delight. Without you in our lives, the sunshine would be behind a cloud. Being your mother makes me indescribably happy. Thank you for being you.

Happy birthday, my Maisie Maisie Mouse.

All my love,
Mumma xxx

Saturday, January 5, 2013

How To Make A Family

In an ordinary suburban house, people began to gather.

Family, friends, strangers. Early greetings were polite; muted; a touch awkward. To begin with, the two families were quite distinct and separate. After a while, the adults mingled quietly, almost hesitantly.

The children ran from one end of the house to another, oblivious to any chasm.

When everyone, adults and children alike, gathered for the imam to begin the ceremony, all was hushed. Even the tiny babies in the room slept noiselessly, lulled by the old man's calm voice.

The words, spoken in rapid but gentle Arabic, were understood by only half in the room. It didn't matter. The intent of those words was clear to all. When they were translated into English, the beauty of those words was appreciated by every person in that room.

By now, the smiles around the room were growing. If you listened hard enough, you could have heard a faint heartbeat growing stronger with every new exchange, every erupting laugh.

When the bride's father spoke of kindness, understanding, tolerance, a bringing together of two different cultures, and above all else, love, his words resonated. Of course, you could hear everyone thinking. It makes sense.

In Australia, we pride ourselves on being multicultural. On being the types of people to give anyone a fair go. To be tolerant, and fair, and to welcome people from all over the world.

And yet, while many of us love the idea of the availability of cuisine from around the world in central Melbourne, few of us venture beyond our own backyards to experience life as others live it. We are suspicious of those different from us. We do not automatically seek the good in others' religions or customs. It is still considered unusual for people of different religions and cultures to marry. There are, unbelievably, still those who think that we don't have enough room for refugees fleeing hellish lives.

Today, in an ordinary, average, Melbourne loungeroom, conversation billowed as a new husband and wife posed for photographs with their children. People who had been strangers that morning swapped stories and laughed; children played and ran up and down stairs in a blur of olive and milky white skin tones.

The heartbeat of a new family grew louder and stronger. It fed on the goodwill and kindness filling the house. It swelled with the hospitality of this groom's father, who was so very kind to all who entered his house. It was watered by the tears of the bride's mother, who had thought that her daughter might never be happy again.

This new family was born of a father and his two daughters, and a mother and her son and two girls. Today, this new family was held and nurtured in the hands of an enormous extended family, one made of two very different families who came together with the same objective. Observed by my son as they posed together for a snapshot, they were described thus, "Look, Mum. Before today, Anna had three kids. Now she has five. And a whole lot of uncles."

Regardless of religion, or culture, this wedding today was a beautiful occasion. On the surface, food and names and stories were exchanged; new acquaintances made; new experiences had. But underneath the pretty clothes and the comaraderie, the children present saw adults of many different walks of life practice love, kindness, tolerance and respect. And not one child there was surprised.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Worshipping at the church of Kikki K

Ok, ok, so I tried to be all cool and pretend that I'm the New Year grinch...but I can't keep it up!!

Although I still don't hold with all the resolutions and promises and suchlike, I'm still that "Ooh goody, it's a new week/month/year/school year!!!" geek I always was.

But you knew that.

And I might not have cleaned the house from top to bottom (only cos it's still looking pretty good after the Great Tidy Up prior to the family descending on Christmas Day) or cleared the pantry of stodge (that would be a waste, right?), but I have bought a new calendar. And filled it in nicely and carefully. And I may have been spending more time playing games on the floor than washing dishes (not really a resolution but a promise I made myself. Totally different.)

Oh, and I visited Kikki K the other day. Because if we're being completely, utterly, soul-baringly honest here, I loooooooove stationery. I adore being organised. And I go all flitty over organisational stationery. Ergo, Kikki K is my kind of shop. (Trust me, this is so totally NOT a sponsored post - ha! as if - but I do really love Kikki K, in quite a disturbing manner.)

And whilst I was drooling over admiring the lovely things in this lovely shop, and thinking of ways I could be organised AND stylish, I found something that I think may be quite useful. Or at least, I hope it will.

Even though I have been known to have a rant or two when things get a little rough (but I think anyone would be forgiven for going all Ranty McRant after "speaking" to Telstra), I like to think I'm a pretty positive person. Most of the time.

And after reading my first post of 2013 back to myself again, I realised that quite possibly, I had not been my most positive person. That, in fact, I was being a bit negative towards the new year, expecting 2013 to be as *ahem* roller-coastery as several previous, unnamed years (*cough* I'm looking at you, 2010 and 2011)

Which isn't fair. Not on 2013. Certainly not on the poor suckers who have to hang out with my sorry excuse for a person every day.

So I got myself a little somethin' in the Land of Kikki K called 'Think Happy, Be Happy'. It's a yellow spotty gift box containing a small book and some quote cards. Nothing ground-breaking, but certainly enough to kick my butt in the right direction when it starts to droop. In my ongoing attempts to be mindful, (quite difficult with a mind as unruly as mine) it will be helpful to have one quote a week to focus on and remind me of my promise to myself (again, not a resolution! Sheesh.) to remember what is good, and enjoy the moment. I'm not even sure what happened to that sentence but I'm sure someone out there will catch my drift.

So what is this week's quote?

'Do more of what makes you happy'

It's as simple (and as difficult) as that. Obviously, this means without tequila.

Perhaps someone should brace my children for an onslaught of Mummy-led Lego building time. Ha. But seriously. I think this is just as much about recognising what makes us happy as being aware of making time to do what makes us happy.

So in the spirit of this, today I have sat on the beach with my mum, watching my two girls frolic in the water and build sandcastles. I pegged out two loads of washing, knowing that in this 36 degree heat, it will be bone-dry in a few hours. I've spent the afternoon alternately reading, helping with Lego construction and watching the Muppet Show, and watching the Mouse play with her dolls house for ooh...three hours now. And counting.

Around tea time, we'll be heading down the beach again. I know that we'll come home sandy, salty and tired, but exhilarated. I know that time on the beach with my family, especially on such a hot day that we need to go in the early evening to escape the heat, is the very thing my soul needs. That, and to not go cold turkey on mince pies just because it's January 3rd. Question: If I eat a mango, does it cancel out the Christmas stodge? That would definitely make me happy.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The New Year Grinch

I think the biggest problem with a new year is the pressure.

It's such a squeaky clean slate, y'know? A fresh start, new beginnings etc. etc. I used to be one of those people who loved a Monday because it was a new week, a fresh start - you can imagine how unbearable I was with a New Year. Capital N, capital Y. Capital P for Pain In The Rear.

With a Brand New Year, you get a clean, new calendar (and after a few more weeks, beautiful crisp, fresh school-related stationery) and the chance to write in it with no mistakes or scribbling out (can anyone else see my OCD tendencies emerging here?? No??)

I would clean my house from top to bottom; chuck out all remaining Christmas-related sugar and stodge; fill in my pristine new calendar with birthdays and important dates with a nice pen, and embark on a skin-cleansing-every-night-exercise-every-single-day-puritan-diet-with-no-fun-stuff regimen that would answer all of my problems.

Then, somewhere between New Year's 2005/6 and New Year's 2006/7, I gave birth to Jack.

Which meant that New Year's Eve 2006 and New Year's Day 2007 were a totally different kettle of fish to previous ones. I did not have a hangover to recover from. My new calendar was shoved somewhere on the kitchen bench (probably under my breast pump). I was on maternity leave, so there wasn't any money to squander at the shops. And even if there were, a 7 month old baby kind of cramps your style in the changing rooms...

And clean my house from top to bottom? With a crawling baby? Ha!

So I guess that around the same time I was earning my motherhood stripes, something in my New-Year-psyche shifted. Rather than the New Year being full of promise and possibilities, it just seemed to me to be a day when getting a park at Safeway was impossible. A day that symbolised pressure - for whatever your particular goal was - to lose weight, to be more organised, to quit smoking, to simply be happier. It's January 1st, dammit! Be happy! Be thin! Stub out that ciggy! Stop drinking! Save money! It makes me tired just thinking about it.

I mean, come on, we've just had Christmas - the season to spend money we don't have (well, after all, God would not have put those dresses at 30% off in exactly the same shop that you needed to go to to buy for someone else if He didn't want you to have one, right?? Right????). It's the season to eat far too much 'sometimes' food, far too often (because it would be churlish and wrong to refuse lovingly-prepared party nibblies whilst socialising with one's loved ones and strangers at Christmas, right?) It's the season to drink lovely bubbly drinkies at said social gatherings (again, churlish comes to mind for those who say no thank you to the aforementioned beverages).

And after several weeks of shopping, spending, eating and drinking, how on earth are we meant to click our fingers and become clean-eating, teetotalling, hessian-sack wearing (ok, this might be going overboard slightly, but whatevs) puritans just because it's January 1st?

It's almost as if we're all in the middle of a massive sing-a-long, belting out glorious tunes with tinsel draped around our necks ("Tis the season to be jolly!" Alrighty then, maybe I WILL pop that third mince pie on my plate...right next to the pavlova...) when the fun police ram the door down, confiscate the merriment and jollity, and leave everyone standing around with some Nicorette patches, a family-sized calendar/organised and a Weight Watchers pamphlet in their shocked hands.

Or maybe I'm just a New Year grinch.


Ok. I'll just come out and admit it, shall I? I'm highly suspicious of New Years, and the promises that a New Year holds. Ever since New Years 2009, I have been waiting for a good 'un. Every year since then (when I was hugely pregnant with the Mouse), I have privately held high hopes for the incoming year...and been bitterly disappointed (except for when Mais burst noisily into the world. That bit was awesome).

So here it is, 2013. 2012 was, as expected, exceptionally average for the first six months. I was unemployed; our house was incomplete; my health was dodgy-as; Archie went to live on the farm with Farmer Brown. I guess it's safe to say that until around July, 2012 sucked arse. But from August on, 2012 was pretty good. If 2012 received a report card, I'd say that it had made a great effort to improve throughout the second semester and finished at a satisfactory level, however, it would still benefit from a more positive attitude and from not sending my dog to live with the angels.

2013: I'm looking directly at you. You have 365 (well actually, 364 since it's already the end of January 1st but anyway) days to prove yourself. It shouldn't be too hard to be an improvement on recent efforts. All you have to do not be completely shitty, and you'll win Year of the Year, hands-down.

Now, where's that new calendar of mine?