Friday, December 24, 2010

Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes

The Poppet's feet are amazingly entertaining. 
She curls up her toes and then points them. 
She touches one foot with the other and then looks at them in astonishment. 
She stretches her feet out so that they go in all different directions, and then she curls them in again. 
She brings her feet together so that just her toes touch and then she brings them part again. She curls her toes up, and then uncurls just one set of toes. 
She flexes her feet at right angles and then relaxes them. The toes on one foot are often doing something entirely different than the toes on her other foot.
She finds them fascinating. 
I find them adorable. 
They are small and perfect, a pale almost translucent pink and soft as petals. They are slightly chubby with tiny wrinkles and tiny nails. There is often a large gap between her big toe and all her other toes. 
Thoughtfully, she holds one foot and twists it in and then out. 
Consideringly, she rubs the sole of one foot against the bridge of the other. 
Baby's feet are enchanting. 
Which is one of the many reasons why Mem Fox's book for children Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes' is such a hit. 
This was one of the first books my son ever loved - a gift from friends from the Solomon's who came to stay with us in Vanuatu and brought amazing gifts - including my little boy's favourite books - Baby Boo... and Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes. Brilliant Strike Rate. And they were Board Books. We've already replaced Baby Boo twice. Now it's Ten Little Finger's Time to be replaced with a glossy new copy. 
It's been well loved. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Siblings Sleeping

My children are sleeping side by side on my bed.

They fell asleep with their legs entangled and while they have now disentangled, the Sprocket has reached over in sleep to gently rest one hand on the Poppet's face.

There is nothing that I can think of that has made me as happy as watching the deep-sleep breathing of my children as they sleep, side by side, turned in towards each other with the Sprocket gently touching his little sister's cheek.

I suspect that in the future there will be times when they do not get on so well as they do now, when the Sprocket is just past two and the Poppet is four and a half months.

Even now the Sprocket is less than impressed with the Poppet's habit of pulling his hair (it's a tactile thing, she means no harm). An the Poppet is a little apprehensive when the Sprocket is less than careful in his exuberant leaping.  More than once I have had to restrain him from jumping on the Poppet. It is carelessness, not maliciousness.

But on the whole, my Poppet thinks that her big brother is the most entertaining and wonderful thing in the world (after the milk) and her face lights up when she sees him and she giggles and grins and smiles and sings and if she could, I am sure she would turn cartwheels. The Sprocket thinks this is fairly cool, and smiles shyly in return and will, on request give her kisses. If she is in her cot crying he will look at her with worry and lead me to her. If they are nursing together he will give her arm little pats.

In years to come when they squabble and argue, kick, punch and back-stab each other, I hope I will remember this evening.

There was a massive Queensland storm today with sheets of thunder and lightning and the sky turning green. The temperature suddenly dropped from ridiculously hot and muggy to pleasant. The world outside our window is now drenched. Cicadas are singing and frogs are croaking and my babies lie sleeping side-by-side in golden light.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

There was a time...

There was a time, and I remember this time, that I could have a shower by myself. All by myself, with no one else inside the shower with me. With no squirming toddler, with no dirty plastic truck.
There was a time, and I remember this with even more nostalgia, when I could go to the bathroom all by myself. 
I remember this. 
I could sit on the toilet without trying to grab for the toddler climbing up the change table to crawl along to the bathroom sink to play with the taps. 
Or lunge for the toddler turning on the shower to flood the whole room so that he will then slip and look at me accusingly. 
We are presently staying in a granny flat. Which is great. Except for the granny-bathroom. Which has a hospital-style shower with no distinct edges. 
Every time you turn on the shower the whole bathroom floods and it takes four or five towels to de-flood it. 
The Sprocket loves to turn on the shower. 
I tried not bringing him into the bathroom with me once. 
I thought hey, just for a few minutes he will be alright out of my sight. 
I was wrong. 
I came out and he was sitting in the kitchen sink. 
I don't know how he got there. I just know that he was there. Within reach of my husband's super sharp knife, of the kettle, of the compost bin he loves to up-end.
The Poppet is just about to start crawling. She is pushing up her little butt and flailing her little legs. 
She thinks the Sprocket is the most amazing, the most wonderful, thing in the world. (After the milk) 
Soon she will also be turning on showers and climbing into sinks. 
There will be two of them. 
I am feeling very tired. 
And I am remembering the time I could go to the bathroom all by myself

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Bounce - How Champions are Made by Matt Syed

Bounce, How Champions are Made by Matt Syed

This is a must read. 
This is one of those books that I am going to force my husband to read and that he will enjoy. As soon as they can read I will bribe my kids to read it. I will even consider crocheting cushions with quotes from it. 
And at present I can’t crochet.
Its premise is fairly simple – There is no such thing as innate talent – there is just hard work and determination – oddly enough, seen in practice this is a mind-blowing theory.
I nearly didn’t borrow this book because a.) it’s mainly about sportspeople and b.) it’s written by a sportsman and as one of the great unable-to-catch-a-ball-if-it-jumps-into-my-open-hands-and-clings I generally have a casual disdain for professional sportspeople.
Don’t they have a life?
Do they really want to look back and say well I swam up and down for 7 hours a day 7 days a week for 17 years…
But… this guy can write. 
And he can find those bits of information that make you sit up and take notice and think and then apply it to your life and your kid’s lives and come up with wow. 
I see how this applies to this and this and this and that. Bounce is one of those books you have to stop every few pages to TELL someone about.
One of those books you thrust on other people and say here, read, honestly.
But first – let me admit my bias – my kids. 
This book provides compelling evidence that it’s not in the genes, it’s not DNA that produces child geniuses and sports star, it’s just practice.
10,000 hours at least to be precise… of practice.
This is interesting for me – I’m not a dunce at maths - I’m just dead lazy.
My complete failure to learn French, Spanish, Latin, Tongan, Pijin and Bislama was just me not putting in the effort… Hmmm.
My failure to get anything like a decent sound out of the piano, the recorder the guitar or the violin - also, just laziness. I will admit that if Shakespearean sonnets in Tongan didn’t roll of my tongue or Chopin preludes didn’t issue forth from my instrument in say - 10.5 hours, I was done.
I'd tell myself it wasn’t my thing. I'd say o well. I'm just bad at learning languages and not musical.
I admit… I still find it hard to believe that if I just practiced I could learn how to dance… (Also tried… Scottish, Irish and ballet…)
However, my loss is my kids gain, which is more important. 
They can achieve whatever they want… as long as they practice.
As long as they get in those 10,000 hours…
But… and this is the killer… the kids have to a.) want to do those hours – preferably finding them fun (laps anyone?)
And they have to be actually learning stuff in those hours, constantly challenging themselves and heading beyond what they think is possible. 10,000 hours of auto-cruise doesn’t do it.
They have to be willing to fail fail and fail again – and see this not as them falling on their backsides, but as learning.
The Sprocket is a month shy of two. 
And my husband and I have been pretty chuffed, because, let’s not beat about the bush, he’s a musical genius. 
Give him his little fake electric guitar and he’s stamping his feet and he’s nodding his head and he’s strumming those non-existent strings. 
He’s going to be a rock-star for sure.
The first rock-star ever without an alcohol problem. 
Yep that’s my boy. 
Smug much, yeay.
And then I got to thinking about it.
He’s already been to 4 music festivals.  3 if you count the in-utero one.
He’s listened to Sudanese, Irish, Scottish, Ni-Van, Solomon islander and East Timorese bands…. Live.
He’s already watched the Woodstock videos – on a mega mini- movie screen.
In the morning while we’re waiting for our coffee to hit we show him youtubes of Clapton, Louis Armstrong, the John Butler trio, Capercaillie, Silly Wizard.
This one we don’t admit often, but the kid was born to Enya (I know, even the attending doctor said to keep it quiet, and I remember him saying this even as I did my best to bleed out all over him.) 
I think it was Caribbean Moon.
It is possibly not surprising the Sprocket spends a lot of time each day on the piano and his various guitars, ukuleles, saxophones, Xylophones and drums.
So far he’d have a good three or four hundred hours of actual playing under his belt and about a thousand hours of watching and listening.
So… another 9,900 hours and he’ll be a child prodigy!
Which is an interesting thought, but even more interesting is how the concept applies to other things – medicine and firefighting were two examples from the book. Business.
That old business of Robert the Bruce and the Spider (Try, try and try again) is obviously (according to this rather well documented theory) more relevant than any genetic input.
This books manages to make the rather old fashioned sounding virtues of dedication, persistence and experience sound cutting edge.
Read it.
Below is a video of the author talking... interesting. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Christmas Shrub

Our Christmas Shrub is now up.
Right up, being safely out of reach of inquisitive hands, on top of the fridge.
Please note the word shrub. I went into Bunnings to look for our Christmas tree in order to have a receptacle for some very sweet decorations. Pink, to match all of the Poppet's clothes.
And fell in love.
I'd eyed it off before, but this time when I saw it, I just knew.
Partly because the little Christmas trees Bunnings were selling were too small for my christmas decorations and because they had the potential to turn into massive great trees when planted.
Partly because my shrub smells divine and came decorated with 3 flowers.
It's a gardenia and brings back memories (yep, sweet nostalgia) of Tonga where they used to make leis out of them.(Although frangpanis were more common)  I've been wondering for years what flower it was - and now I know.
Whenever I got a lei (hmmm that sounds dodgy) I'd hook it over my bed-head or door knob for a few days until the flowers were brown and shrivelled, just to drink up the scent. Let me just say that a small room full of a few hundred gardenias on a string - smells like heaven, rich and heady and opulent.
So, not pine, but the house is still full of a scent of nostalgia.
I'd like to say we decorated our Christmas Shrub as a family, but, it was just us girls in the end. The Poppet supervising and myself placing. The Sprocket was running around shouting about trucks (what a surprise) and then over at his Nana's doing his usual tricks (stealing her walking stick, upending her cat's food...) and Ron was in bed with the Leurgy.
But hey, us girls got it done.
My family haven't had a traditional Christmas tree in awhile. When I was little we would cut a branch down from the pine tree at the bottom of the garden and it was always a massive great thing that had to be placed in a bucket and filled with bricks and was always, always lopsided and shed everywhere. Although again, it smelt divine.
Later, we took to buying a fruit tree and decorating that, and then planting it after Christmas.
My great aunts had a denuded Eucalyptus branch that they had painted gold (or maybe silver)
And when I lived down at the beach (sigh. sniff.) I use pieces of beautiful driftwood to decorate, which my aunt referred to as a 'Christmas twig.'
I figure the tradition of a Christmas tree hasn't been around that long, I'm happy to tweak it a little. Technically I'm thinking an olive or palm tree would be more in keeping with Bethlehem, but pines do bring to mind many beautiful memories of the festive season, and most particularly the ideal of a white Christmas and gentle falling snow. And sleigh-bells and warm plum pudding and custard and roasts and mmm....
Sniff. Nostalgia.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

St Nicholas and The Good Master

Recently I re-read the two books that have my favourite Christmas Stories. They're both by Kate Seredy and and I believe are based on the author's childhood in Hungary. The Good Master was first published in 1932 and is set just before the first world war while The Singing Tree is set during the first world war.
The Good Master is about a young boy, Jansci, who lives on a horse ranch and his cousin Kate (the screaming imp) coming to live with his family.
For someone who likes nostalgia (ahum) this book is gold. The illustrations are beautiful and the stories a delight. Nothing major happens, but the details of farm life, of Easter and going to the fair are beautiful and there is lots of kid-friendly humour throughout. (Kate deciding her cousin is a girl because he wears skirts, and pushing him off the cart so she can drive the horses springs to mind) 
As a kid I read and re-read this book hundreds of times. I could imagine nothing better than to wear the beautifully multi-skirted, embroidered dresses that Jansci's mother made Kate from flax and to ride horses across the hungarian plains, pausing to listen to shepherds tell amazing stories.
The Good Master also has the most lovely description of why we give presents at Christmas that I've read. And I am determined to read it to the Sprocket and Poppet as soon as they ask any questions about Father Christmas.
On December 6, the children get into the sleigh to pick up Mikulas (Father Christmas) from the trainstation. Mikulas comes bringing presents for all the children of the village, which Jansci and Kate get to leave on their windowsills. Finally, they come to the last house of the village, where the poorest children live, but Mikulas's sack is empty except for Kate and Jansci's presents... And Kate and Jansci give up their presents (this is fiction!). Sniff.
Once home, Kate realises that Mikulas is actually her father in disguise, and they talk about who Mikulas really is - a Bishop in Russia who did so much good in his life that he became the patron Saint of children. Below is Kate's father's description of Mikulas's day and Christmas Eve.

"His day, which is December 6 became a holiday in Russia. They celebrated by giving each other, and especially the children who Saint Nicholas loved so much, beautiful gifts in his name. The habit spread all over the world. In some countries he comes on Christmas day. To us he comes today. We believe that on Christmas Eve the Christ Child walks on Earth and leaves gifts for everybody."
Kate looked up. "He does, really, doesn't he daddy?"
Kate's father smiled. "He does, really, Kate, my dear. He comes and puts love and tenderness in our hearts, so much love for each other that it overflows and turns into gifts we find under the Christmas tree."


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Advent Calendar

On the day before Advent I finally brought an Advent Calendar.
And spent the next day veering between delight that I finally have an Advent Calendar that I’m happy for my children to grow up with, to bring out year after year until it’s faded and tatty looking and the embroidery starts to unravel, and disquiet that I started off Advent with an act of consumerism.
This was particularly jarring as I’m always bitching about how Christmas has been turned into the festival of buy-now.
I had plans to make a Calendar (although that would have involved buying the template and paints and brushes and glue and gold sparklies and etceteras, but the labour would somehow nullify that) but that fell through when Spotlight was out of templates and I could find no one else who sold them…
And then, at literally the very last moment, on the day before Advent, when I was just looking at an email catalogue from Oxfam, I found THE ONE. Hand-embroidered with individual pouches for little goodies, with a suitably festive design, while thankfully lacking any Santas. And hey, Oxfam = automatic reduction of consumer guilt. So I didn't feel bad about buying the embroidered stocking for the Poppets first Christmas or... Uh-um. Yes.
While my relationship with Christianity comes under the ‘it’s complicated’ status, I resent Christmas, a time when we celebrate the birth of a persecuted, Jewish refugee, born of a single mother (of ‘it’s complicated’ status), being turned into a corny blitz of excess.
And yet, whilst I resent the hi-jacking of a religious celebration into a commercial mockery, I’m just as guilty myself. The kids will only be getting a couple of presents each in their stocking, but I’m already looking forward to the food and drink of Christmas dinner, of dressing the kids up for it, of making Christmas pudding and watching with awe as my husband demolishes obscene quantities of prawns.
If we get to Church on Christmas day, (and with the two little ones this is a big if – all the local services start at 9.30am and I’m lucky if I’m out of my pajamas by then) we’ll be on a good thing.
If we find a quiet time in the day to reflect on why we’re celebrating, on the babies today who are being born in hardship, uncertainty and repressive regimes today, on the meaning of Christ in the world, we’ll be lucky. It’s likely to get lost between the wrapping paper and the wine.
But now, now I have the perfect Advent Calendar, and when I put a chocolate in day one for the Sprocket, he ate it with glee. He doesn't get it yet. He just gets the chocolate. But there's many, many Christmases to tell him all about it.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Smile Like Cocaine

The way my Poppet’s smile affects me, so my insides turn to fluid and my mind to mush, so that I would be quite happy to spend all day just staring at her, nuzzling at her neck or playing with her toes to make her smile, has been scientifically proven. 

A baby’s smile affects it’s mum in a similar way to cocaine or nicotine, bringing on a rush of dopamine. 

I have a greater understanding of drugs now.

She is, quite simply, perfect. And I am, quite simply, addicted.
I know that all mothers think this about their baby (and each one is, of course, right) but the way my Poppet looks at me, saving her best smiles for me, her brows raising in question and then her whole face lighting up as if to say – Oh mummy look! Isn’t this wonderful
Aren’t you wonderful!
The joy and delight, the awe and mischief, all caught up in her tiny face, is nothing short of miraculous.
Of course, the Poppet’s big brother, the Sprocket’s, smiles affect me in a similar way, but the smile takes on a different context when it’s shot over a shoulder as he empties the coffee jar all over the floor (as he has carefully climbed up onto the kitchen bench having pulled out the oven door to use as a step) 
There is an element of exasperation mixed with the amusement and love. I think the memory of all those smiles is embedded, but it takes awhile to dig to when you’re woken up at 5am by sharp little teeth in your shoulder… just because, or he’s watering the couch with pink milk.

But sometimes, when we’re walking along or reading a story, my Sprocket will look up at me with the self same smile, (O mummy, isn’t it wonderful!) he looked up at me with when he was a baby, the smile that’s just between the two of us… and my insides turn to mush again.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Two years ago...

Heir to Sevenwaters
Julliet Marrilier 

It's two years ago today since I first read this book and I'm feeling all nostalgic. 

I saved this book for two months after I bought it, carefully hoarding it in my hospital bag. Marillier is such an evocative and entrancing writer that I try to savour all of her books and being somewhat naive back then, I saved Heir to Sevenwater to ready during labour with my firstborn, the Sprocket. 

Obviously I had a lot to learn. 

I didn’t end up reading Heir to Sevenwater during labour (being too taken up with, oh, you know, the pain,) but the following night when I couldn’t sleep due to flashbacks of feeling vast gushes of blood pour out of me, of people pounding on me to try to stop the vast gushes of blood, of the sheer agony of someone pushing a needle through places where, let me be clear on this, needles should not go and yanking, repeatedly, of spewing forth fluid from nearly every orifice, of my baby crying and crying and me unable to hold him as they tried to stop the bleeding and stitch me up, I read it.

My beautiful baby was sleeping in his clear plastic crib beside me, his perfect face, round, small-featured and doll-like, framed in his swaddling, but whenever I tried to close my eyes, images of gore assailed me, so I gave up and lost myself in Marrilier’s World instead.

And she didn’t fail me.

Vivid and beautiful, based on myth and folklore but deeply Marrillier’s own, with yet another brave heroine, Heir to Sevenwater was well worth the wait.

Reading in the early hours of the morning, attached to a catheter and a tube for a blood transfusion, feeling floods of warm blood every time I so much as blinked, Heir to Sevenwater saved my sanity.
Along with Clodagh, I fell in love with the hero. I fell in love with the mythical ancient irish setting, and mostly I fell in love with the changeling woodland baby, who in his vulnerability and imperfectness seemed to reflect my own state. Awkward and needy and wild, the changeling babe is impossible not to love.

My love for the little changeling babe became intermingled with my love for my own new babe (although I have to say that apart from their babyness I do not think they bore many similarities, my baby being large and plump and soft and warm, with fingers that constantly moved like little sea aenenomes and an endearing ‘arf-arf’ as he tried to cope with all the milk, and the changeling baby being, well, twiggy)

So yes. Two years ago today, I read this book.

And it will always make me remember that time and smile, even while the tears prick at the back of my eyes, as it reminds me of my son when he was first born, and those special hours and days together, when we were first falling in love.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Nostalgia Gone Wrong?

This morning my husband was looking through music clips on Youtube to play to the Sprocket while we waited for the caffeine to hit so we could stumble into the day.
- Hey - find Dragonstea, I said.
Let me note that this song has considerable meaning to my husband and I. 
In the long ago time when we were first getting to know each other we used to dance to this song in humid night clubs in the Solomon Islands.
We googled the song and the title turned out to mean "Under the Linden" tree in Romanian. 
My beloved's much-loved grandmother is Romanian so we went Ooooh. The rest of the lyrics didn't make a lot of sense, but we figured that was a translation flaw. 
When it came time to chose a wedding 'waltz', this is the song we chose, (although I can't say it much resembles a waltz, or that our dancing in any way resembled waltzing!) and it was one of the songs that I had on my playlist when both our kids were born. It was one of the 'fast' songs that I used to get me up and moving during contractions.
Anyway, being the obedient husband that he is, my beloved found the song and we played it.
The 'eurodance' in the credits should have given us the first hint that perhaps it wasn't what we thought it was.
We were expecting a fairly 'sweet' clip.
Um. No.
Think Camp. Think very, very Camp. Think Euro-Camp. Think white jeans and crotch-thrusting.
Within seconds of the clip starting we were furrowing our brows, seconds later we were giggling uncontrollably, much to the bemusement of the Sprocket, who liked the aeroplane and was already dancing away.
Our wedding (okay our life) was somewhat ramshackle and unorganised.
It makes sense this is the track to our bridal waltz.
Still love the song.
Still brings back all the best memories.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Winter of Our Disconnect

The Winter of Our Disconnect. How Three Totally Wired Teenagers (and a Mother Who Slept with Her iPhone)Pulled the Plug on Their Technology and Lived to Tell the Tale by Susan Maushart.

Some writers are just brilliant. 

And sometimes they come up with brilliant ideas as well. And sometimes they inflict these brilliant ideas on their family, to the benefit of all mankind. 
Maushart is one of those writers, this book describes one of those ideas, and I have added her family to my list of favourite-non-fiction-literary families (the Maushart’s are presently topping the list along with the Durrells of My Family and Other Animals and Maj and Callan in my all time favourite blog Pretty All True)
The Winter of Our Disconnect is Maushart’s account of herself and her 3 teenagers switching off all their electronic media for 6 months. (And their electricity for the initial 2 weeks so the remaining time felt better by comparison)
Funny, engaging and very, very pertinent this book made me re-think my own (media) addictions and re-examine my ideas about how I want to raise my kids. 
While I know it’s impossible to raise the Poppet and Sprocket on a deserted island with only the classics, Maushart’s discoveries on living in RL (real life) especially about face-to-face contact, family meals, sleep and reading, resonated long and loud.
One of the most interesting points was Maushart’s own media addictions and her ruminations about why she thought they were so strong and how she battled with them.
Can I really expect my kids to go outside and climb a tree if I’m too busy checking my email to come outside and climb it with them?
Or stand strong against the lure of the 'net when I’m guilty of cyber-stalking (come on, it hardly counts, I just wanted to check out if Kirstie Allsop’s husband is worthy of her… and it turns out he’s just her partner and they’re not married ‘cos he has issues. Which would be fine except it sounds like she’d quite like to be married so… now I’m a little sad…)
But I digress.
Basically, it would make me very happy if you would all go out and read the book.
And then talk about it with me.
Because it’s just so funny. And good. And yep. Necessary. Especially if you have kids, but even if you don’t.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I tried the Sprocket on some new books last night. With great excitement I got out some of the ones I’ve had stored away for him for… well, since before he was born.
They were for my work.
Sort of.
I thought I’d see if he’d enjoy Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, (Mo Willems) because, hey, it’s about a bus. And I find it hilarious. But I knew it was a long shot and I wasn’t surprised when he lost interest after a couple of pages. I’ll try again next year.
And then I tried We’re going on a Bear Hunt, but although he loved yanking on the tabs (We have the pop-up-version) the story didn’t grab him.
So we went back to his current favourites.
Where is the Green Sheep. Which has been in his top 5 for over a year. Which is very, very impressive. Full kudos to Mem Fox.
And the under sea one that makes noises. And the puppy one that makes noises. Babies in Art. The Sailor Dog (although I never get to finish this one, which always leaves me somehow unsatisfied.)
And of course… the mini-mover books.
These are tiny (or toddler sized) cardboard books that have a photo of one thing and its name on each size. There is a book of Aircraft, a book of Tractors, a book of Boats, a book of Cars and a book called Zoom. They came in a little box with a handle that my Sprocket likes to carry around.
We can read each book ten times in a row.
Which is odd, because each book only has about ten words and the Sprocket is convinced that each and every thing in these books is a  
TRRRRUCK! anyway.
-Container Ship
- Look darling, Tugboat
-No, this is called a helicopter.
-No, hel-i-cop-ter
(Repeat x10) 

I sometimes wonder if I’ll be a better children’s librarian now that I’ve had my own kids, and I’ve come to the conclusion, not really (although ask me in a few years and I might have changed my mind.)
I’ve always been around kids and I’ve always loved children’s books – but there is this one exception.
I don’t think I ever fully realized some boys complete devotion to and obsession about trucks and trains and things that go broom.
Oh, I had some idea but I failed to comprehend the mouth falling open, the adoration, the wonder, as the 200th truck that day roars past. As we look at the pictures again and again and again.
I live in a world full of trucks now. I understand.
Brooom Brooom Brooom!

A Watched Pot

My Beloved hands his phone to me as he leaves the house. He is going to get money to pay the lawnmower men and buy comfort food as he is all un-good about not hearing about whether or not he got into his course.
Pretty much as soon as he is out of the door his phone starts ringing.
I glare at it.
I am all distracted and less for answering his phone, however I am incapable of letting a phone ring in case it is something VERY VERY important.
I decide to look at the caller ID to check if I can be bothered. Gotta love how phones now tell you who is calling. I am not nostalgic for the old phones that do not have this function.
It is an 03 number.
And then there is a 5 number.
And that means that it is a number from country Victoria.
And that means that it is very likely from the Medical School.
And if they are ringing it is probably to tell my Beloved that he has been accepted. I decide that it is very likely that this is, indeed, a VERY VERY important call and I do not know why this was not my first thought when his phone started ringing.
-Beloved! Beloved! I bellow.
With the phone in one hand and the baby over my shoulder I run to the door and try to catch up with him. I am afraid the ringing will stop before I reach him, so I stop and answer the phone. Gulp.
And the young girl calling was all like is blah blah blah there and I have to say no, he just went out, he’ll be back soon though – can I take a message. The lawnmower men were very loud and I was walking out the door to see if he was still there but the space where his car should be was empty. And of course no, they will not leave a message.
So they say they will ring back and I ask if he can ring back because I am less for waiting (any more) for the phone to ring. And they say yes, and give me the number, which I of course ignore because it is now in the phone.
He is likely in. And… And.. And… Hysteria is all bubbly inside me. Wow. Yay. Yayness.
I am going to be (probably) Mrs. Doctor Dear just like Anne of Green Gables.
If my hair would turn red, life would be perfect.
There is always dye.
I walk outside. I walk inside. I need to tell someone or the top of my head will pop off with all the fizz. But there is no one to tell and we don’t know for sure yet and…
Why did he go out now!
Of course, if he had not gone out now, and if he had taken his phone, I am sure they would not have phoned, because a watched pot never boils.
I lose the phone. I re-find the phone.
I decide to walk down the street to meet him. I start walking, with Poppet over my shoulder and the phone clutched in my hand. 
It is very strange knowing that I will remember this walk in detail for the rest of my life. That the sky is grey and the weather muggy because there is a storm coming. That there are orange flowers and birds in the park and the Poppet is wearing a white and pink cotton sleeveless, legless onesie with pink ribbon on it.
I reach the end of the road and do not see the car coming and I am not good at waiting. 
I pace.
I see the car coming and my beloved stops and I see from his face that he does not realize why I am there, which I find amazing.
I thrust the phone at him.
-It was a 03 number. I’m fairly sure it was the uni. They wouldn’t leave a message.
And his face just changes.
-Get in
-No, no, I can’t. No baby seat. You can call from here.
-No credit.
So he takes the phone and drives back down the street and I think. O. By the time I get home we should know.
I have to take many big breaths and tell the Poppet all about what a momentous occasion it is.
As we reach home my beloved comes running towards us. But it isn’t written across his face whether he’s really in or not.
-So? Are you in? I yell.
He doesn’t reply. Then he starts doing giant moon leaps. And then pirouettes.
I take it he is in.
And soon he reaches me.
-I’m in.
And we start kissing in the street and Poppet is amazed.
This is the culmination of…
3 months of prep for an exam.
An 8 hour exam.
A Multiple-Mini-Interview.
A flight interstate for the interview.
A couple of months of jumping every time the phone rings.
Several thousand hours of waiting. And way over-analysing. And waiting.
Many bitten nails. 
And now we know.
And we have 7 weeks to move intestate.
And we will be students for four years.
Or my Beloved will be.
This has been his dream for years, and now he’s finally getting it.
And I am so so happy.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Sun Egg and Goldie Beatle

The Sun Egg – Elsa Beskow 

Floris Books, First published Sweden 1932 as Solagget (with two dots I don’t know how to do over the ‘a’.)
This book is a recent discovery for me although it was first published in 1932. (I feel very behind the times.) 
My Aunt and Uncle sent my daughter, the Poppet, this book when she was born and although I never read it as a child, it’s the kind of book that you read and think ‘aaaw’, and wish that you had. 
The story is whimsical and the illustrations enchanting and as soon as the Poppet is old enough (and probably before) I will read it to her. Hopefully again, and again and again.

A large orange egg has fallen into the wood. “It’s an egg!” decides the elf. Soon she and her friends find out what it really is; but not before the sun egg is lost and the elf begins one of the best adventures she ever had.’

I know that the Poppet and the Sprocket will love knowing what the ‘sun egg’ really is, and enjoy imagining flying on the bird like the little elf. 
The illustrations bear some similarity to Cicely Mary Barker’s flower fairies but are executed with more verve and humour. (Not that I’m knocking the flower fairies, who get big nostalgia ticks in my book) Think an adventure of Thumbelina.
I think one of the reasons that I so love The Sun Egg is that it reminds me of the stories that my great grandfather used to tell. His stories were always about ‘the goldie beatle’ who would come and shrink you, and whoever was with you, down until you were tiny, tiny, tiny, as small as a beatle and then you would get on the goldie beatle’s back and head off for an amazing adventure.
I miss those stories.
I doubt I’ll be able to re-tell them as well as Great Grandad could, but hey, I’ll try.