Sunday, February 26, 2012

How to Toddler Proof Your House

I have been considering this a lot recently as my person and possessions are rapidly being destroyed by little people. 
This might not apply to all parents of toddlers, I myself have witnessed toddlers whose parents are able to keep ornaments on lower shelves and similar wonders. I go to their homes and they say 'oh, this room is fairly childproof' and I look around and think - you have a different species of child. 
This is for those of us with spirited toddlers. (Read destructive.)

Step One: 

Lets start with the biggies.
Pack away all ornaments you have spent the last 20 years collecting. These will be smashed. 
Remove all mops, brooms and curtain rods from the house. These will be used to swing around until they come in contact with a window, a person or some ornament you thought to be well out of reach. 
Remove all curtains and blinds. Curtains will be used to swing on and climb up while blinds will be pulled upon. The cords on blinds really are a life-hazard.
Remove all bookshelves. These make great ladders. Even if screwed to a wall the books will end up as a pile on the floor, the shelves will be climbed and the books hurled. 
Remove all beds. These are merely climbing devices, used to jump down on unwary people. 
Remove all doorknobs on kitchen cupboards. These will be used to climb up to get the things you thought were safe. Like the specially sharpened Global knives. You will come across said toddler later with the sharpest knife stuck down the back of his nappy for easy access. 
Remove all chairs, laundry baskets and storage boxes. These will be dragged around and made into a tower to get to all the places where you have stored precious and/or dangerous object. 
Remove all dog and cat bowls. Water and food will be blended and then up-ended. 
Don't even think about owning a tool kit. No matter where you put it, the contents will be found and said toddler will be found lunging at someone with a screwdriver or carefully scraping all the paint of the walls with it. 
Remove all sunscreens, lotions, potions and soaps with spray functions. These will be used to 'decorate' the walls. 
Laptops will be ruined. Just accept it. At present mine is missing 3 keys, has a crack in the mousepad and a dent in the case. The kind people at Apple fixed the screen for me after it was jumped on the last time. It is not yet 18 months old. 
Don't even think about PCs. 
I would go on. But basically, I think I'm saying that what you want to do is to find a nice cave and carefully pad the walls. Sleep on mats. Eat raw, un-cut food and wash in a stream.

Spirited (read destructive) toddlers and the 21st century do not mix. 

*Oddly, as yet my Poppet, despite reaching toddlerhood, shows no destructive tendencies. She is too busy collecting shoes. If I have another child and it is a boy I am dressing it in pink and lace and it will only be allowed to play with dolls and teddies. 

*O - did I forget to mention coffee machines? Let's just say our coffee grinder, as of this morning, is 'somehow' full of dishwashing liquid. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Is social media eating your time/life up? 

I know it's changing the shape of mine. I find myself wondering what I did pre-internet with all that extra time that's now spent on facebook, reading blogs, emails, online writers groups and pinteresting. 

Read? Tidy? Cook? Get on the phone and talk to real people?

I've been thinking about how 'present' I am for my family. I'm always wondering if there's a new (and brilliant) chapter to critique on scribophile. If the perfect image for a story (that'll totally re-invigorate the novel I'm working on), or that window I saw in a book 10 years ago and fell in love with - you know, the window, has turned up on Pinterest. If there's a new blog update that will change my world. If I have an email to tell me something... life-changing.

So I'm going to start with one day a week. With no internet. None. 

On Saturdays you won't be able to contact me via email or facebook or skype and I won't so much as glance at my blogroll to see what's changed. There will be no pinterest.  

I will be spending quality time with the family. 

When the Poppet poos on the floor and the dog tries to eat it up while I'm going for the disinfectant and cloths, when the Sprocket climbs out the window and starts dancing on the car, when the Poppet is head-butted or I'm elbowed (accidentally) in the throat (again)by careless toddler climbing, I won't reach for pinterest and a lovely soothing image of a dew-soaked, sun-soaked dandelion, or a 2000 year old underwater stone lion. 

I'll just get on with it all. 

I'm not sure how I'll deal. 

Hopefully, it'll be better for all of us. The house might get clean. And we should spend happy-sunny-bonding time and make lots of memories. (That don't involve mummy checking her iphone again as we go down the slide at the playground for the 50 zillionth time)

And hey, there's always wine. 

I have of course chosen the easiest day of the week. The one with the gym and the beach and my beloved at home. If it works well and I find we like the quiet-in-my head and the being-in-the-moment, real-life, as opposed to virtual-life I might aim for a weekday as well. Gulp. 

Anyone care to join me? I dare you! 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

House of Many Ways

The rain came down and we took refuge in the library, and although I knew I shouldn't, as I always lose books or the dog eats them, or the kids get goo on them or tear the covers off, I saw a Diana Wynne Jones I hadn't read, and pounced.
House of Many Ways is about a young girl house-sitting a Magicians Magical house and searching for a secret to save her kingdom, as well as finding herself gainful employment as the Kings Library Assistant - among many, many other things - including evil lubbocks disguised as normal people, deceitful princes and wonderful witches. 
House of Many Ways claimed to be the sequel to Howl's Moving Castle, which I love, although I was curious as I had always thought that Castles in the Air (another LOVE) was the sequel to Howl's Moving Castle
And... House of Many Ways was inventive and playful and fantastical, with a lovely library-assistant as the main character (always something to make my librarian heart sing) but... the hype was too big. It didn't quite live up to my shiver-happy expectations of a book with Howl and Sophie in it. 
For one thing, Howl and Sophie were minor characters at the very end (although I did enjoy Howl's appearance) and for another it seemed to lack the - I think I'm looking for exuberance of the two first books. 
Howl's Moving Castle and Castles in the Air I found to be enjoyable, fantastical romps. This one seemed heavier. Less rompish and more like hard work - interesting hard work. But without the same light touch. 
But maybe I just read it on a bad day. Maybe I let my expectations spoil me for it's true worth (and there were some wonderful scenes and characters)? 

Have you ever had author let down - the first books in a series are great - the last... not as great? 
Do you give them a second read - a second chance to love them on their own merits? 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Goodnight, Sweet Dragon

A short time ago I tried to start another blog, just to cleave out some head space to think about my writing, rather than the kids. 
And then I slowly realised that trying to keep two blogs going means that I'm never going to get round to you know, actually writing
So I merged my writing-me space blog, Dragons of the Deep, into this one.  All the blogs from there are now here. But... sigh. Sniff. Get out the hanky. I miss having my space. 
So this blog will now be a lot more about writing, and, as in life, I'll try to work out the balance between my-time and kid time. 
(Move over kids, mummy needs some room!)
I suspect my idea of balance means that the house will turn into a tip, the garden a jungle and the beds mountains of laundry to sort. But that's okay. (Sort of!) I read a nice inspiring quote recently about a true artist having a messy house. I must be a very true artist. 
My first Dragons Blog was here. There aren't many others. 
Goodnight, sweet dragon. Your time will come. 

How do you cope with the your-time, kid-time balance? 
How do you keep your mind alive in nappy-land?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Happy Dance (Sleep is Good!)

I've been thinking about this for awhile now.
Night-weaning my Poppet.
Something to do with sleep (that's a biggy) and those tiny little white things called 'teeth'.
Most particularly, my Poppet's teeth. My Sprocket is quite fond of telling the world that "Ghee has shaaa-arp teeth," and speaking from experience, so does the Poppet.
During the day she's pretty good when she's feeding about not sinking them in too deep.
This is not the case at night. As she gets sleepier the teeth get deeper, and to be honest, they don't need to get that deep to have me worried.
From about 2 or 3 in the morning my Poppet is of the opinion that a nice, long, comforting sleep feed is the ticket. We have had many debates about this. "Mummy's tired sweety. Let's wait till morning."
"Milk! More! Mama!" (Repeat with growing desperation for 3 or 4 hours.)
As her cot is attached to our bed without a separating bar it is easy for her to search for her milk and yank away all obstacles. There are nights I feel like a Victorian Virgin clutching at my Pyjama top and whimpering "Noooo. Let's just sleep. Honest, sleep is good."
And last night we finally did it. We got through the night with no sleep feeds AND she only woke once and after only the briefest questing and flailing of hands, she went back to sleep. (It is possible that I threatened to move her all of a foot over to Daddy's side of the bed.)
The night before? Ah. That was a different story. Not a lot of sleep that night. But no milk either. So that's two nights in a row. And we might (might) have cracked it.
We did a similar thing with my Sprocket, albeit at a slightly younger age. When he was 13 months and I was pregnant and he was feeding all night and I was like a zombie we went cold turkey and in 3 nights he was over the night feeds. Although that all went caput when the Poppet came along and suddenly it was milk-city.
Sleep. Uninterrupted sleep. Oh, how I love you!
How I'll feel in another year or so when my Poppet stops nursing for good... I don't know.

How did your weaning go?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

'Always Ourselves that We Find by The Sea'

Recently, we've made it a 'thing' to drive down to the sea every Saturday. It's a bit of a drive, but the kids are great in the car, and we all know that it's worth the time spent driving. 

It's the highlight of our week and everything always seems washed clean and new when we're playing in the surf or running along the sand. 

During those moments in the week when everything feels overwhelming, being able to count the hours until we're at the beach again makes it all sort of do-able.

Knowing that if things get too much we can get in the car and drive, and we'll be at the ocean makes things seem so much better. 

I love discovering this new coast, going down new tracks and discovering new inlets and bays and hidden treasures. 

And then there's the familiar - the scent of brine, the delicious blowsy smells of the australian coastal flowers, the changing light and horizon, the feel of the sand, the feel of the sea (surprisingly warm for this State!) 

So I'm linking with the wonderful Maxabella and Kidspot(a little late!) with a great big GRATEFUL to the regenerative wonders of nature, and most especially the beach and the sea. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012


I'm getting ready to send one of my books out into the world. Which is always nerve wracking. Should I do one more edit? Maybe if I just changed this word - or that word. Maybe a fresh pair of eyes would pick up something I missed... 
So anyway, I'm getting ready to send stuff off... but first I need a stamped, self addressed envelope to include with my query letter. 
But as I intend to send my first query to America and I live in Australia, you can perhaps see my difficulties. They don't sell American stamps in Australia. I know. I googled. And asked at the Post Office. 
I could maybe get international reply coupons. But to be honest they just seem like a lot of hassle as the recipient would then have to go to the post office and flaff around to work them out. And I would prefer not to be thought of as hassle-author. 
I decided to cut to the chase and go to US post online. I got all excited when the site got me to fill in this whole rigmarole before buying anything and I could put that I lived in Australia any my postcode and everything. 
And then when I was all logged in I went to buy some stamps and it was a no-go. Only for people who live in America. And now the US post are spamming me.
I tried filling in their 'problem' bit, and explained my problem and abut 10 days later they emailed to say well no, I can't buy stamps online anymore, but if I'd like to phone them during office hours... 
And by that time I'd already ebayed my stamps. They arrived very promptly with a little note saying 'Thanks Kirsty'. It made me happy. 
So the moral of my tale? If you, like me, live outside the US but need US stamps for your SSAE, ebay rocks. 

(*Pretty stamps, aren't they!)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


“Mama. Stay,” my Poppet tells me. 
We’re on the trampoline, lying in the dappled light under the walnut tree. Her arms are around my neck, her nose squished to mine. This is our time. The Sprocket is at childcare and everything is moving slower and more peacefully.
I try to extricate myself again.
I still need to put the washing on the line and put another load in. The recent rains means I’m way behind.
She puts her hand out in the universal ‘stop’. 
Stay, mama.”
‘Stay’ is her word du jour.  A few nights ago when the Sprocket had been unwell with a flash temperature, she had bitten him. For the second time.  And her daddy had come over to take her into the other room so the Sprocket could cling to me in peace. And she had held up her hand "Stay, daddy." 
Note to self: We really need to watch how we talk to our Issy. Maybe 'Darling dog, please plonk yourself down on your backside until we tell you to desist'? 
But I remember in the shopping center this morning.  I’d just ducked into the baby section to look at winter pajamas as the nights are getting chillier and my Poppet won’t sleep under covers. 
And everything in the baby section was too small. 
My baby is 18 months and I've lost my excuse for going into babywear.
Everything went all blurry and I pushed the Poppet out very quickly.
Of course my Poppet’s still a little baby. Sure she can walk. And talk. And climb. And draw. And is a master manipulator. But she’s still my baby.
And so I stay on the trampoline and squish my nose to hers and we point out each others noses and eyes.
Stay. Can everything just stay as it is.
My little ones are growing up too fast.

*But I wouldn’t mind if my Sprocket hurried up and got over the I-will-destroy-everything-in-sight stage just a bit quicker. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Ten (more) Things of Giggles and Sweetness

One. My Poppet at the beach running up to every dog with squeals of excitement, stopping a few feet away and plonking her little backside down on the wet sand (presumably so they don't knock her over) and then wiggling her toes with happiness. 

Two. My Poppet telling our dog 'Issy, down! Issy, sit!' in exactly my dog-will-you-for-once-do-what-you're-told tone. 

Three. My Sprocket insisting on feeding me grapes - with his teeth. Note to self. Ensure Sprocket does not witness mummy and daddy kissing. I think he might have the wrong idea. 

Four. My Sprocket and Poppet dancing with their daddy to 'We will Rock You.' My Poppet doing her favourite dance step - the flap. She flaps her arms like a little fledgeling and giggles uproariously. 

Five. My Poppet's joy when we play her favourite song 'Somewhere over the Rainbow.'  

Six. My little ones insisting they want all their clothes off when they go on the trampoline and then running around like little savages - squealing and chasing each other. 

Seven. My Poppet telling me off for saying the little plastic figurine of Puss-and-Boots has boots on. 
'Shoes, mummy!Shoes!' Obviously it is Puss-in-Shoes

Eight. My Sprocket's amazing honesty. (This is sort of bitter sweet.) 'Why is Poppet crying Sprocket?' 
'I hit her on the head with the stick.' Honesty is good. We are working on the stick bit. 

Nine. My Sprocket and Poppet's newest game. They stand on our bed and Poppet gives Sprocket a tiny tap on his tummy - and Sprocket flops backwards like a tree being felled. They think it's hilarious.

Ten. My Sprocket telling Poppet that she can't have any of his chocolate treat because it is 'yucky medicine.' Hmmm. We might have gone wrong somewhere!  

Thursday, February 9, 2012


Inspiration springs from many strange and wondrous places.

Doing a degree in history was one of the best things I could do as a writer with an interest in fantasy. Stories from the past are - to one living in the now - often completely fantastical.

The mindset of people living in the Kingdom of Sumer was definitely not that of our own. If a young girl from Ur were set down in 21st Century Melbourne she would think be convinced that she was on a completely different planet.

While it is the lore and history of the 'Celtic' countries that make my heart sing, I have long been fascinated by the countries circling the Mediterrenean that planted the seeds that Western Civilisation grew from. 

The places where cities and writing developed are endlessly enthralling. Who was the first person to ever write something? How did it begin? How did it take off? 

The Russian Steppes where linguists believe the pan-european language originated is also a place my imagination lingers... and some DNA tracing suggests my maternal ancestors were there around the right time... (Yes, I am that navel-gazing that I checked...!) 

The Roman Empire is an endless source of inspiration for fantasy novels. I will be forever grateful to Rosemary Sutcliff and, more recently, Lindsey Davis, for their wonderful works that bring the time in all its vast complexity, alive. The book I am working on now I began when I was studying Classical Societies in high school. Reading about the dreadful emperor Caligula who was given the moniker'little boots' because as a child he ran with the army, inspired one of my characters. My 'little boots' is a bit different though. She's female for starters... 

We visited the British Museum a few years back and spent nearly the entire time with our jaws wide open. The images stay with me yet. And I couldn't help wondering how many other hundreds of thousands of writers had been inspired by the same treasures.

Are there particular times or places that inspire you? 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Writers Group

I've finally joined a writers group.

And you know what?  It's fun.

I had all these reasons why I shouldn't bother - too time consuming, I wouldn't find anyone writing stuff I liked, I wouldn't find anyone who liked the kind of stuff I write, I'm better off just reading...

But... I joined an online group this week and almost instantly found a book I loved reading. It was tightly paced, brilliantly atmospheric, with believable, likeable characters and a fascinating tinge of fantasy. (Steampunk? - the fantasy was against a very Victorian setting.)

I get to read a brilliant book for free and then say what I think about it?


True, I read through quite a lot of first pages and synopsis that weren't quite my cup of tea. But even that was a learning experience.

I hope that the author found my critiques useful - I didn't actually find much to really critique - it was already very well edited and I thought the story read brilliantly as it was. So my critique was more a rave about how much I enjoyed it!

The only bad thing is that the book isn't finished yet, so I'm going to have to wait to see what happens and hope the end lives up to the early promise.

Waiting isn't my strong spot.

First critique done... soon I'll have to think about putting up a chapter of my own.

Now that's scary! 

The Depths to Which we Sink

This is a shameful confession. 
I've taken to bribing my Sprocket. 
Not just any bribe. I've been bribing him with television. (And here I was, he wasn't going to watch it till he was say, 25!) 
He can chose one abc iview show (Octonauts, Angelina Ballerina, Thomas the Tank Engine, Fireman Sam) for every story he listens to. 
He used to love stories. As a baby we'd read through them every day and he'd coo and cuddle and bring me his favourites.
I think I 'read' him his first little black and white story (especially designed for baby's eyes) when he was two days old. I read him poetry in the womb.
As a toddler he's too busy trying to discover new ways to scale the walls or pretend to be a superhero. (Generally involving large sticks, dangerous implements unerringly unearthed, or some of his daddy's and my much-loved-objects-rapidly disintegrating) 
I'd try to read him a story in bed and I'd find he'd be using my shoulder as a foothold to climb up on the bed head and from there go on to swing on the railings of the Poppets four poster cot. And sometimes climb right up on top of it. 
And I used to be a children's librarian. 
It seemed so easy back then! 
Of course, on reflection, I only saw the kids whose mum's dared to bring them into the library and weren't afraid they'd start climbing the shelves or de-populating the shelves of books. 
And the thing is - it's been working. 
These last few days we've been reading more stories than we have in the last few weeks. 
Yesterday we read Alison Lester's Magic Beach 3 times, Animalia twice, We read half of 'Children Just Like Me' and a rather bad choice on my behalf Walk With a Wolf' (If I'd checked it first I might have realised you don't just walk with the wolf, you go with it as it hunts and kills an old and lame moose. Beautiful illustrations. Might put it away for when the kids are adults and able to deal with trauma. As it is I fluffed a lot of pages. 'Moose sad mummy?' - 'Ah - um the moose is sleeping''. I know. Cop out!) We read Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Did you See?
I am loving it. 
I have a kid tucked in on each side and a book in front of me. 
Now why didn't I think of it earlier? 

*Please don't add up the time he's been sitting watching tv!   I'm thinking of it as a neccessary... and peaceful - downside! Soon we will work on two books per show....

Monday, February 6, 2012

Books, Books, Books! Vive Le Libre!

'So it was in late September, three years later, that I sat in a bathtub alone, my wedding dress hanging on the door. I was washing my hair, dunking it back into water I had mate fragrant with Minnesota honey and California cream, letting it rock from side to side, feeling that good mermaid hair feeling. I was conjuring up my favourite mermaids of all, the rusalki...'

A Mermaid's Tale, A Peronal Search for Love & Lore, Amanda Adams

I've just finished reading A Mermaid's Tale A Personal Search for Love and Lore by Amanda Adams, which was truly lovely. 
A Mermaid's Tale describes Adam's lifelong quest for mer-people, being a very personal exploration of the myths and meanings surrounding different mer-people. The factual is interwoven with her memoir (possibly with some poetic licence - I'm not entirely sure if her friend really was a selkie) and has some delightful  bits from her past in it - (Spoiler alert!) 
The part when Adam's first boyfriend dumps her for not being 'deep enough' for failing to share his interest in UFO's is giggly-teary. Her description of her teenage longing to be a mermaid and imagining a tail as she took long steamy baths brought back to me all the intensity and longings of being a teenager and I loved when she described her first meeting with her husband as they dived in the Dead Sea.
My only gripe was that as the book was supposed to be a tale of 'love and lore' I would have loved to have read more about her meeting and relationship with her husband-to-be - I thought that was very scetchily done - especially as the whole premise of the book seemed to be that it was her thoughts the night before she married - would marriage mean giving up her dream of a mermaid tale and all the implications thereof? 
But then, I'm a sticky beak. 
I will be re-reading this book again soon because the language is beautiful and I was too busy hurrying to get to the romance to savour it...
'A Mermaid's Tale' vividly, beautifully, brought back to me the night before my own wedding when I was in our rickety old beach house which seemed to be floating in the dark, having a last un-married candlelit bath and listening to the breakers on the shore and thinking this is it - and being beautifully content. My little flipperling was summersaulting inside me and the world was a wonderful place. 
Adams was move ambivalent than me about her forthcoming nuptials (not having a wee one within might make a difference there - my commitment was already well and truly made!)

Books on the 'to read next' list are

Lili Wilkinson's Scatterheart
Journeys in a Small Canoe, The Life and Times of a Solomon Islander by Lloyd Maepeza Gina 
(Reread) Lady Gregory's Complete Irish Mythology.
Some more poetry - particularly Mary Oliver.

I'm also going to try to work myself up to reread the first book I ever wrote ... 20 years ago now... - which could be painful or warm-fuzzy like or giggleworthy or all of the above!

But I'm looking for another book to call me...

Mining the Past

We watched Neil Oliver's wonderful 'A History of Ancient Britain' (Episode One  - the Iron Age)* tonight and it reminded me all over again of what a treasure trove of inspiration there is to be found in the past. 

My dad's a historian, as was my grandfather, an uncle - oh and I studied history for my undergrad.  If I'd applied myself a bit more I would have done another semester of Latin and got a major in medieval studies rather than just plain history. Unfortunately, languages are not my forte.

In this episode Oliver explored ancient trading roots - going with the archaeologists to search for the copper ingots of a ship sunk of the coast of Cornwall and then going into an ancient copper mine. 

The copper mine was the thing that gripped me. 

a. it had me cringing because Oliver had to slither and twist through the tiny tunnels with all the weight of the rock above him. It turns out I'm claustrophobic. 

b. the mine was a running concern for fourteen hundred years. That is a serious length of time. That is longer than the English Language has been around. By quite a large margin. Think of all the stories that are to be found in that mine! (Hmmm. I will try to avoid all the possible bad puns about 'mining the past' - except of course the title!)

and c. There were a lot of coal miners in my dad's family in Scotland until the mines closed down. My great-grandfather died at 45 of coal miners lung and I saw on an old Scottish census that one of my maternal ancestors was listed as 'coal-miner'. The thing that really tore my heart was that she had a six month old baby who was being cared for at home by her teenage daughter. 

Working down the mines was horrible work. I went down a mine in Yorkshire when I was fifteen and seeing the tiny tunnels that the men, women and children crawled about in in the dark, sometimes with not even enough room to go on their hands and knees, was horrifying. (Rich people at the time complained about the conditions - it was hot down there and men and women used to work without their tops on - scandalous! I would have thought the explosions and 7 year olds working 14 hour days more scandalous but there you go.) 

Oliver's series is... imaginative - there's a funny criticism here
basically saying he's making up a whole heap of stuff about what the prehistoric people were feeling that there is no possible way of us knowing. 

But for those of us looking to be inspired for our writing - his grandiloquent eloquence (especially in that lovely Scottish accent... sigh)is very taking. 

Now I wonder... in which book can I use a labyrinthian copper mine? 

Sunday, February 5, 2012


Source: via Kirsty on Pinterest

Pinterest is my latest addiction.

But it's for my writing.


For those that don't know Pinterest is a way of putting digital images on a virtual mood board.

So rather than having a big corkboard hanging up above your desk and cutting out pictures from magazines, you find pictures that speak to you on the net and 'pin' them on your pinterest boards. Other people are doing the same and you can chose to re-pin their pins as well. You can follow people with similar tastes and see all their latest pins - and then re-pin them.

Sounds dull?

But o you should see some of the photos... they make my heart sing. And how lovely your boards end up looking! It makes me go all warm and toasty inside just thinking about them!

People chose the themes of their boards - common ones are dream home, wedding, dream garden, my style, but I find them great for my writing in that I can create a board for each of my stories and pin photos that depict the mood and scenes that are close to what 
I see in my head - and give me ideas for new ones.

I find this really helps me clarify the mood that I am aiming for. Seeing the images helps so much with my descriptions.

Crystalising, clarifying, making your heart just clench with awe (some of the iceberg photos and ones of the sea..) - and just plain giving a buzz...

Did I mention it's addictive?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Twice as Long on the Outside as the Inside

You are eighteen months old now, my little Poppet.

That means you've spent twice as long out in the world as you spent growing within me.

I did not think it was possible to love you more than I did when you were first born and I could hold your soft, warm head in the palm of my hand and your tiny fingers clung to one of mine.

But every day as you become more and more you, I do seem to love you more, impossible as I thought that to be.

At eighteen months you are an enchanting, assertive, creative,  adventurous, talkative, friendly, courageous, helpful and loving little delight.

You love to draw and start demanding 'draw, draw draw' as soon as you catch sight of pen and paper. 

You follow your brother around lovingly, and when he is not in sight you call 'bruva, bruva' plaintively. If he is sleeping you do your best to wake him.

On the other hand you are very quick to plop down on your bottom when he races past. You will attempt to grab food from his mouth if it looks particularly nice. Despite the fact that he is twice your size. You love to play 'chase' with him on the trampoline, and to play 'mummy and daddy monster.'

You love the 'playgrou' and could sit in a swing and be swung for hours. You will go down a slide again and again, even if you do always overshoot at the bottom and fall on your (luckily well padded) behind. 

You still love stories, particularly small ones or ones with soft things you can touch or things you can make squeak. 

You are the dress-up queen. You are constantly bringing us shoes to put on you - even if you have shoes on already. And woe betide us if you see any shoes out shopping. "Shoe, shoe, shoe," you squawk like a little bird. You don't have such a great idea of size. At present you are trying to put your brother's croc on over your little red shoe. "Shoe, shoe," you are telling me (As in, mummy, this shoe!) 

This morning you were experimenting with your brother's Buzz Lightyear undies as a hat. Later with your pyjama bottoms. You still love all creams and put them on happily. You like getting dressed and having little clips in your hair. 

You communicate beautifully. When we go out you wave at everyone and tell them 'Hi-ya' or "Hur-roo," in a lovely little lilt. You wave goodbye to the playground, the shops, dogs that we see, people that we meet. 

You love to give kisses, but as you learnt to blow a kiss first you give them with big puffs of air! You love to give hugs too and will come up and lay your head against us or put your arms around our neck. You hug Issy too, and you would hug the Sprocket but he is too quick. If I say 'gentle hands' you will softly stroke my cheek.

You have so many words - new ones every day. Dinosaur was this week. Grandpa, pretty, dirty, book, cold, hot, flower. I keep meaning to count but I know I would miss half! 

You look like a little elf girl - with a halo of blonde hair and eyes that we still can't work out the colour of. They have a streak of brown. But they have a dark blue rim and sometimes look green and sometimes blue and sometimes grey. 

You have not got your brothers long dark lashes or low maintenance hair. Them's the breaks little girl. Your little ringletty curls are so sweet I hope you won't find them a drag later on. Your face and voice are incredibly expressive. You do mischief and joy particularly well. 

At present you are being very independent. You want to walk. You want to walk by yourself. You want to do stuff and go places and if brother can do it, you want to. This is a little worrying as the Sprocket climbed up a tree branch onto the top of the rather high shed yesterday. And later got stuck 7 feet up the cypress tree. I am not that tall so getting him down was tricky. One climber in the family is quite enough, my angel-baby. 

You still love fruit. Particularly watermelon and honey dew melon, grapes and strawberries. I am not sure but I wouldn't be surprised if you could eat a whole watermelon in a day. 

We call you our 'May-May-Mu', or the 'May-May-bird', sometimes 'Maisie-Mu'. None of these are that close to your name. But you seem to call for diminutive nick names.

It is so hard to write up the magic that is you - you are lying on your back at the moment, stretching your legs up in the air, grinning and calling for Issy. Now you have gone in search of 'bruva'. 

Our Poppet - you are our joy. 

The Sea

A beach trip today.
What is is about the sea that makes us feel more alive, alert, exultant?
As if our brain is being swept of debris and spring cleaned.
I have a theory that people are most themselves by and most especially in, the sea. More reflective of the deep inner-them.
Much of my writing has an oceanic focus and I write within the sight and sounds of the sea.
I wonder why? Is it some memory of the time when we were still sea slugs? Those millions of primal years?
Is it the consistency of blood and salt-water being similar?
Is there any credence in Elaine Morgan's aquatic ape theory (I suspect not as it hasn't really been heard of in a while and scientists tend to be thorough. Sigh.)
Today we frolicked in the shallows and then I swam underwater out beyond the breakers. A glorious high-sky blue day with sandcastles and ice-cream.
And to be held in water, to swim open eyed through that other, under-world.
Was a gift.

*Side note - my beloved hates the feel of sand. Odd. I love it. Even odder - he still loves the sea and swimming. The world is made of many such contradictions!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Smiling? Nah - Grinning from Ear to Ear

We all played hooky today.
Drove away this morning leaving the house looking like a herd of demented monkeys had attacked (I'm looking at you here Sprocket - although admittedly the rest of us might have played a small - okay largish - role.)
And we went to the beach. 
Such a glorious beach day. 
Clear high high blue skies that seem so typically, beautifully Australian, the short trek through the low growing coastal bushes, the long clean sweep of pale sand,  and then the sea...
We went a little bit further along the coast this time and ended up on a surf beach with small gentle waves just right for toddlers. 
My little Queensland poppet clung to me like a limpet in the water- not yet accustomed to cold southern waters - but my Melbourne born Sprocket revelled. (Odd as the Sprocket spent his first two years near warm Pacific Ocean while my Poppet has spent most of her life in Victoria, I'm saying it's an in-utero thing.) 
And it was good that we were both enraptured. So often I spend my days not having a clue what planet my Sprocket is coming from. His brain seems to work in incomprehensible, but highly destructive ways. 
In the ocean I know what brings that pure joy to his face. 
He learnt about waves and how to go over the just cresting waves and turn your back to the broken waves. He held to me as we jumped them together. 
We built sandcastles and did all the kids stuff. 
And at the end I got to run into the water just me, and dive under out beyond the breakers and swim open eyed through the underwater world of shifting green and fluid light.
Just for a few minutes. 
But it was like a gift of sapphires and emeralds - only far better and more beautiful. 
Smiling? - nah - I'm grinning from ear to ear. 

*Sidenote. But the house still looks like it was ravaged by crazed apes. Sigh. 

Linking up with the Lovely Maxabella to be grateful - for sea and for family and the memories when they come together!

A Glass of Water

It's the wee hours of the night. 
I drank a glass of water before I went to sleep so that I would be sure to wake and cleave out some 'me' time for writing. 
It doesn't really happen during the day. 
Sure, sure, I know
I make time for Pinterest and facebook Scrabble (o yeah, and Words with Friends) but those are just moments throughout the day, often with a kid on one hip, or one breast, not the sustained head time I need to get into the head space of writing. 
It's dark, I'm sitting in bed with the deep sleep breathing sounds of the kids surrounding me. (No kidlets, this is my space, special to mummy, scram! Yes, of course I still love you! Mwah!) 
This new blog is to be where I write about my writing - the things inspiring me, the things I need to work through. I'm hoping it helps keep the spark alive. Helps me become more focused. 
I've had a bit of a hiatus from my writing. 
When I think that the year when I was most dedicated and best at keeping to my ordained schedule (carefully scribbled into my diary as to how many words I expected myself to write each day, then each month, and then ticked off) was 1995... and I was still in high school. That the last year I really settled down to it and wrote was ... let me think, count back on my fingers...2003.
My year by sea. Just writing.
Ahem. Gulp. 
I want to start doing that again. It's a little trickier now. 
But you know what the thing is? 
Writers write
That's what distinguishes us from non-writers. 
We write. We sit down with a pen, or in front of our computer and words (worlds) come out. 
I read recently that Nora Roberts said "I can fix a bad page, I can't fix a blank page." 
I need those pages (good or bad) to come flowing again. 
Editing all my many (good) or bad pages from the past counts! 

*Just before I woke I dreamt that I had fallen down the side of a train and was hanging to a door knob or window or something (no, I don't know how I managed that!) - I think it was an old black steam train - as it shunted through a tunnel from one platform to another. Everyone had seen me and was yelling at the driver to stop - but as of when I woke, he hadn't and was tooting along, all oblivious, with a jaunty little train driver cap on. He might have been whistling Both the kids were clinging to me. 
Do you think it means anything? 
Or is it just that I'm really really over Thomas the Tank Engine
(Some of those stories are so annoying! have you seen Polly and the Pingy Pongy Washing? Don't. I had to watch it 3 times this week.) 

I will leave you to go do some editing. Sara and the Seven Beasts tonight - tense changes here I come! 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Ten Things of Giggles and Incredible Sweetness

One. The smile on my Poppet's face when she wakes and stretches in the morning. As she opens her eyes and first looks for me she smiles as if the world is a joyous and delightful place.

Two. My Sprocket when he sees his daddy or I make something or do something he rates as good (Recently painting cupboards and fireplaces) "Wo-ow! Mummy did it!" "Wo-ow! Daddy did it!"

Three. The softness of my Poppet's curls tucked under my chin as she sleeps in the curve of my arms.

Four. My Poppet and Sprocket running around the trampoline together (their 'jumping castle') shrieking with glee as they flee from the mummy (or daddy) monster.

Five. My Poppet's 'shoe' song as she gathers up all the shoes she can find. Well, chant really, there's not much of a tune. 'Shoes, shoes, shoes, SHOES, shoes, shoes..."

Six. The fluting tone of my Sprockets voice as he thanks his daddy or I from saving him from being stuck up a tree or on a monkey bar or giving him something. "Thanks mummy," "Thanks daddy", "Thanks mummy and daddy!"

Seven. My little Queensland baby clinging to me on a 33 degree day in the sea. "Cold. Mama. Cold." My Sprocket (born in Victoria!) is meanwhile wallowing about like a little seal!

Eight. My Sprocket telling me off for telling the Poppet off for tipping all of her water (on purpose) out into the car. "Mama's naughty! Bubba's not naughty! Bubba is good."

Nine. My Sprocket telling me "I a little boy. I a good boy." (He has recently gone up to the 'big boy' room at childcare.)

Ten. At night my Sprocket lying in bed beside me with his arms around my neck. Whispering: 'I love you, mummy'.
(I suspect it was Shrek induced as he had recently seen Shrek and Princess Fiona declare their love... but... o my little boy!)