Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Name Game

"The tests haven't come through yet?" I asked.
"I can't see them. Hmm. Kirsty Anderson. You're due April?"
 Blah blah 1981?"
"Ah. No. I was born in seventy eight."
The midwife plays around with the computer, and then quickly tilts it away from me. "Oh. There are two of you."
Two Kirsty Andersons, both due at the same time in the not-particularly-large country hospital.
I get a sinking sense of de-ja-vu.
When my Beloved and I rocked up at the (not-particularly-large) hospital when I was in labour with Poppet they nearly sent me away as 'Kirsty Anderson' was already in the ward.
It looks like it might just happen again.
I am feeling very un-unique.
I'm not quite like my brother, who shares his name with three other John Anderson's, and that's just in the family, not to mention the Robert Burns poem, John Anderson my Jo, John, but still, my name is decidedly common.
One of my Anderson Uncles married another Anderson, and my cousins ended up with Kirsty Andersons on both sides of their family. I actually held the other Kirsty Anderson when she was a baby and I was a seven year old. (And nearly dropped her as Superman was on and I hadn't watched anything like it.)
My name is that common.
So once again I'm thinking about names.
I didn't take my Beloved's name when we married. It didn't really seriously occur to me too. I'd have to have, you know, filled out forms and lodged applications and changed cards, and stuff.
Now, when I'm about to be the only Anderson amongst four differently surnamed folk, I'm feeling a little… left out. And as my Beloved's name is a lot less common, every so often I think I would be less likely to have doubles if I took his name. My Poppet is pretty much assured of being the only person with her name she ever comes across. Sprocket and Littlest might come across people with their name, but it's unlikely.
On the other hand, the fact that my Beloved and kids have a different surname allows them a anonymity that I like when it comes to social media. My Beloved is very keen on his privacy (he still has dreams of international sleuthdom) and I try to keep him out of photos and reasonably unidentifiable. If, in later years, the kids dislike having so much of themselves on the internet I find it comforting that when they're older no one will be able to google search and find photos or odd-bits they find intrusive.
But… I still feel a little left out. My girls and I share a middle name (yes, Littlest is already named) Rosa.
And every so often I wonder if when they're old enough to chose we might make that our legal surname. I'm not keeping my father's surname rather than my husbands surname out of feminist reasons, (more laziness and how it rolls off the tongue) and my mother's surname is just her father's name. Tracing back my maternal ancestors showed me just how annoying name-changing female genealogies are. But a brand new chosen name? That would mean something.
I'm not quite ready for it yet (and obviously the kids are far from being old enough to make such a big decision). But I'm pondering. Maybe as a non de plume to begin with?

What are your thoughts on names? The keeping of, the loosing of, the changing of? Have you found it hard with an unusual name, or a common name?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Her Mind Moves upon Silence (Memory Box)

Over the last few weeks I’ve neither spun nor toiled but moved slowly and lazed. ‘Real life’ is about to begin again (damn it) but these last weeks have given me a lot of thinking time.
And one of the things I’ve been thinking about is what I want to do with this blog.
After some midnight insomnia thinking I decided the main purpose is to serve as a memory box.
I want my little ones, and myself, to be able to look back and go ‘o yes, I remember.’
I want my wee ones to have a reasonably honest record of our thoughts and dreams and struggles and the magic moments of their childhood.
I want to remember. The little moments that get forgotten. The big struggles that get glossed over. When I’m old and doddering in some nursing home by the sea (I hope!) I want to scroll through and sigh and grimace and grin.
Of course, by then the Internet might have been thoroughly supplanted or destroyed (what? shock, horror, but yes, civilisations rise and fall, even our technology driven one and all my words might be megabits of stardust,) but if it’s not, I’d like the memories.
One of the most precious things I have is my own mother’s journal of my early days. It’s comforting to read the story of my own birth, to read about my early years. When confronted with my Sprocket’s speech delays it was so helpful to read about my own speech delays. And I’m okay now. Well, apart from the mumble.
I’ve loved (and been deeply moved) reading my grandmother’s record of her children’s early days. The funny things my mum and her siblings said and did. How they coped when my Granny’s son, my mum’s brother, died of SIDS.
I could keep it as a private journal and I’ve considered it. Why make something aimed at my wee ones into something Out There?
But publishing forces me to think a little more about what I write, to write more regularly. To craft more.
And it also seems safer. I still get a jab of sorrow when I remember the words that I wrote in the hospital after Poppet was born… and which then got lost when we moved house… If the house burns down, at least this little pocket of time, words and photos, is safe.
With that in mind though, there are things I’ve been shying away from that I want to make more of a focus. They’re central to our family, but I’ve refrained from writing about them, mostly because so many other people write about them so much better. But I’ll write my take, for our family.

Matters of health. Like the rest of the western world we’re struggling with cutting out the junk food and exercising more. I’ve read every book under the sun, but getting into habits of health, out of habits of ease and ‘treats’ is taking some work. Read a lot of work. Read it’s doing my flipping head in.
Matters of faith. I’ve tried to keep from writing about this. Mostly because I don’t feel like my faith fits in anywhere. It’s awkward. And ugly. And inconvenient. And petulant. And full of unanswered (unanswerable?) questions. I remember when I was full of joy and certitude and lightness. That time is not now. But maybe writing about it will help me find some answers, help others who are kicking at walls. I do know I need to start actually dialoguing, rather than navel-gazing.
Matters of addiction. Mainly to the Internet. (Although sugar is way up there. Way up there) Pinterest, scrabble online, idle blog-surfing - I’m looking at you. It’s a surprisingly hard habit to break. And for something that seems so innocuous, the effect on our family life… is not good.
Matters of magic. I want to capture more of these. The small moments that bring heartsease. The funny stuff that cracks me up. The fall of light. The fall of a wave. The sound of the rain on the roof. My children’s sleep-breathing. The lines of poetry that make my breath catch.
Matters of the mind. The things that are inspiring us. The books, the movies, the music, the exhibitions. The things that make our minds (and hearts) leap.
Matters of stuff. Sometimes it seems like we're just drowning in 'stuff.' I have dreams of a big truck pulling up and taking it all away. This year I aim to get rid of all the 'stuff' and try to shop simply and ethically. The thought of the kids, my beloved, or I wearing stuff made in sweat shops or eating animals that have been maltreated makes my stomach turn. If it takes a bit longer to source, or costs a bit more, it has to be worth it. But it does mean being more organised…  Now that's a nasty word. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Littlest (week 27)

Woohoo, Littlest!
We're finally into the third trimester. This is the homeward stretch. You're about thirty-five centimetres (a bit longer than a ruler) and your main task from now is linking up all those brain connections and laying down fat. My main task is trying to get something I can vaguely classify as exercise and keeping away from vanilla slices. And custard tarts. And fruit flans. And… Mmm.
I'm off to get my blood glucose taken today. (Is it wrong that I'm looking forward to sitting in air-con for an hour while I wait for the result? It's going to be 37c today and yesterday at 35c was hard enough to get through. Let's not start on Sunday which is supposed to be 40c…) On Thursday we have our midwives appointment. I am so looking forward to hearing your little heart thumping away.
You've been kicking and pushing a lot recently. I look down at my tummy and you make it into all sorts of strange shapes. I've felt little fingers and toes down in my nether region which were really quite ticklish.
This is the part of pregnancy that I really love. The sickness is gone, I'm still (sort of) mobile, my joints are not aching, I just get to enjoy feeling your little movements, knowing you're busy fluttering your eyelids and trying to stretch your legs. My centre of gravity and balance is completely skew whiff but I'm feeling very curvaceous and slightly smug - look, look, there's a little one in here!
Of course, all the less enchanting pregnancy ailments (which I won't go into for the sake of those who don't plan to/haven't had kids) make me feel a lot less smug. I'm glad it's the midwife, and not the obstetrician, I'm seeing this week because there are some things I'm just not comfortable talking to a strange guy around. Which is odd, as I see no reason to spare my Beloved all the gory details, and during Sprocket's birth it isn't like every man and his dog didn't get to witness everything and then some… but still.
I would have preferred the female obstetrician, but the midwife was very certain that I wouldn't (my Beloved knew that I would,) but we let ourselves be steamrollered. It seems ironic that it's so hard for females to be obstetricians - it's just such a non-family friendly specialty - the hours long and all over the shop.
We're all taking things slow this week, Littlest. The last week of calm before the big rush when everything starts up. Your big brother starts school, your daddy will be working in a big city hospital two hours away and won't be home much. I've a feeling over the next six weeks I won't be able to sit and coo over the wonder-that-is-you so much, but rest assured, I'll still be thinking about you, we'll still be talking about you.
I'm still busy sorting out your clothes, retrieving old clothes of your big sister's off her teddies and dolls and putting them through the wash, sorting clothes into sizes and storing them accordingly. It never fails to make me oo and aah over their smallness, their daintiness. You'll be in them soon(isn) little one.
I'm starting to lay things away for my hospital bag (although I'll try to resist packing it for about eight weeks, but it's hard...)
I'm also trying to resist writing up my birth plan for a little bit longer. My beloved tells me that he didn't come across any women with a birth plan on his six weeks on the obstetrics ward, and when he asked the midwives about it they said it wasn't very common. Never mind, I intend to be one of those (fussy) women. When I go back to work in a month I'll be looking up Best Practice and Evidence Based Practice and the World Health Organisation guidelines. (Seriously, it's my job to play with the databases). Of course, reading over the plan I wrote for your brother just makes me giggle. (If you want to give God a laugh, tell him your plans) I've been watching One Born Every Minute (something I only tend to do when actually pregnant, and when I'm past the sick bit) - both the British and the American ones, and find myself going 'well that's just silly', and 'hmm, good team work there," a lot. I hope it's just the hospital chosen in America but it does amaze me how many women still seem to labour on their backs and then go through the birth with their legs in stirrups. I got all excited recently when there was a birth chair in one of the rooms exactly like the one I was in when your sister was born - big and purple and plastic and looking very alien!
The sky is lightening little one - I'm writing this in bed, in the dark, by the light of the laptop screen. Your sister and brother sleep beside me - their room is a shoebox with absolutely no air-flow, so they were in with me tonight - we've the window open and the fan above steadily turning. Your daddy's out on the couch as it's just too hot to squash.
I'm about to get up and take the dog for a walk before the heat sets in. The birds are just starting to sing.
Good morning Littlest, grow well!

Sunday, January 26, 2014


- Away from the deep water, Poppet. Sprocket hauls his sister from the waters edge.
-Baby bump, week 26. Hard to believe there's three months to go!
-"I'm going to catch a mer-boy in my net!" Poppet chasing Sprocket.
-Poppet with her fishing rod. She rarely holds it for more than five minutes, but she likes the idea of it. A bit like me, really.
-Sprocket, about to plunge in with his net. He's happy to chase fish with his net for hours.
-Paperbark on the track back.
-Poppet, walking along the track.
-Our scorched back garden lawn, with fallen, cooked apples. I need to gather up the not-so-cooked windfall and make a crumble.
-Apples still on the tree.

We're taking things very slowly in the lead up to school and uni starting back. Sleep times and wake-up times are flexible. Pyjamas are staying on a very long time. Everything changes next week, but this week is the time for lazing.

Joining with the lovely Em of The Beetle Shack for sun-faded moments from our week. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014


Poppet - grubby faced (again!) eating kabana on the beach. I know as a processed meat it's not wonderful - but it's such an easy picnic food and they both love it!
Sprocket - threading his fishing rod. Both kids have taken to fishing with a vengeance, although their patience still isn't long. Sprocket's theory was he would catch a squid as he had a little squid lure and Poppet would catch a pink fish as she had a pink lure. I'm not sure what my Beloved was meant to catch with his pippi's (shellfish!) In the even we didn't catch anything, but we did have a lovely afternoon!

Joining with the lovely Jodi over at Practising Simplicity for a portrait of my little ones once a week, every week in 2014. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Less (can be so much more) On writing and Nanos

My aim this year is for Less.
Less clutter. Less junk. Less stress. Less rubbishy food. Less screen-time.
I'm fairly sure tens of millions of others are starting out the year with the same resolutions.
As I've started the year with a binge shop of massive proportions, checking out op-shops from Maleny to Mont Albert, Morwell to Morayfield, I'm not going too well on the less clutter. But on the plus side I shouldn't really need to shop much for the rest of the year. And I do have bags of stuff piled at the door to go back to other op-shops. It's a beautiful cycle. Sort of.
The other thing I've decided to do less of is… writing. Last year I clocked up over 150,000 words, mostly in three lots of National Novel Writing Months.
I loved the rush. The drive. The community. The sheer satisfaction of getting the words down. The thrill of spending dedicated time with my beloved characters.
I was also distracted from my kids, drank too much coffee, ate too much sugar and fat, didn't sleep enough and had spiralling stress levels from trying to juggle everything else while also finishing my novels (or 50,000 words of them) to deadline.
November? When my Beloved had his BIG, all important exams, I was just recovering from two months of morning sickness, which had immediately followed two months of bronchitis and sinuitis and my Beloved had various ailments?
I. Don't. Want. To. Think. about how stressed I was. I can feel my shoulders tense just trying to remember it.
Do I love thinking about the gorgeous gem of a story I wrote that month, gleaming on my desktop just waiting for a polish? Why yes, I do.
Did I love spending all that time with my characters, discovering unexpected plot twists and delving into new layers? Absolutely.
Was it immensely satisfying finally getting down a story I've been thinking about for o, eleven years.
Well, yes.
Do I want to do it again this year?
Not a chance.
This year, I'm taking it slowly. While I feel a pang, (or two, or twenty, or two hundred) for all the stories I'm desperate to begin, whose characters keep clamouring at me, write me, write me, I'm going to put them on hold for now. While I might write down the odd note, or scene or even chapter here or there, I'll block my ears and let them nag a little longer.
I'm still going to do Nano's this year. But I'm chopping them in half. In each of the three NaNo months I'm only going to write 25,000 words. And I'm not starting anything new. I'm just going to finish off the three novels I wrote in last years Nanos. Green Dragon Waking - a story of a world of wishes, a girl who dreams true and the turmoil that comes when a wrong is righted. Overly Caffeinated Werewolves -    a tale of a edgy barista who has to confront becoming a were-wolf queen, her sister's kidnapping… and the fact she inexplicably can't drink coffee anymore, and The Toad Lord - a retelling of the fairy tale of the frog prince set in Scotland in 1801.
I can't wait to step into my magical worlds.
But I'm so relieved to have decided to do less

Monday, January 20, 2014

Littlest (week 26)

Week 26 - Bribie Island. Dress thanks to a raid on Mum's closet. Maternity bathers thanks to Granny.

You are really getting quite big, Littlest. Your kicks and punches are much stronger now and I look back on the days when I went 'is that something? is that? is it wind?' and smile. You are now most definitely exploring the limits. I imagine your tiny little feet and hands as you throw yourself against your boundaries (generally in the middle of the night), and melt.
Littlest, it seems so soon till you come. It's beginning to seem so much more real. We're two thirds of the way through now, Littlest, the bulk of your growing is done, and now you're just getting the finishing touches and plumping up.
Your eyes are opening, fluttering, now, littlest. You have tiny eyelashes, and blink at light. I'm not entirely sure what you see in there, but maybe you're just experimenting with the new thing you can do.
I've spent the last few days turning the house upside down, getting rid of all the excess - the books we have double ups or aren't passionately in love with, the clothes that we've out grown, the broken toys and the unloved toys. Presently, it looks like a pack of demented monkeys has run through it, but I'm hoping that in a few hours when I actually bag up all the piles it will all come together.
Your Daddy said it would be crazy to start searching ebay for your cradle until we actually have room for it - and I had to agree. So I've lugged this here and that there, culled two boxes of books and three big bags of clothes… and voila. Room for you. Now to find the perfect little first bed for you…
Ah. Yes.
Nesting seems to have kicked in with a vengeance. And I've tried to be good, but there's an ever increasing pile of little clothes waiting for you.
Baby brain is still lingering. I'm missing trains and double booking days and had to seriously sit down with the calendar to make sure we don't miss anything important. With school and work and uni all starting in the next couple of weeks there's a lot to remember, not to mention dentists, hearing tests, training days, birthday parties, ooosh… so much to juggle!
Oddly, some parts of my brain seem to function just fine. I've become addicted to online scrabble and recently got one of my highest ever scores. With your brother it was sudoku I was addicted to, which has the advantage that you don't need anyone to play against… but scrabble… o the satisfaction of all tiles out on a double word score. (I think I'm even dreaming of scrabble… all tiles out on a triple word score… mm-hmmm…)
Your Daddy and I went swimming this week, just the two of us in the surf at the back of Bribie, and the light was so soft, so clear and the world was such gentle shades of blues and whites. It's been so long since we played in the water - diving under waves just after they break, feeling the water buck overhead, letting the cresting waves carry us up, flipping over the rising green. I always forget how much I love it. How there's nothing like it. I wonder if you could tell the difference, if the world seemed different to you, if you could sense the sea around?

Sunday, January 19, 2014


- Sprocket, holding one of his grandpa's pigeons. I think they're called squeakers. They're not the most attractive babies in the world, but they have their own charm. My Sprocket was enchanted.
-Poppet fishing. Shortly after this I caught my first fish in decades. I had to call for help to get it off the hook and then throw it back. But it was very exciting. The kids are loving all he fishing and yabbying trips.
-Sprocket. Shortly after this photo he fell off the edge of the jetty, chasing crabs. Luckily he was only a foot away from my beloved and was promptly fished out, but it was still a warning never to let the little ones out of sight.
-Another fishing trip. Lazy afternoon at Bribie Island.
-Frangipani. The smell intoxicates me.
-Unknown plant, but I am taken with the shade of green.
-Poppet, digging at Bribie Island, her tongue out in concentration.
-My father-in-law's pigeons, circling the house. The cooing of the pigeons was a constant over our holiday.
-Newly painted nails and sandy feet. A girly morning getting my toes done with my sister and mother in law. I'm in love with the colour, it's like having little mother of pearl shells on my feet. Then my beloved and I ran away to sea for a swim together. There is nothing as rejuvenating, enlivening and joy-making as playing in the waves, being held in six foot of curving green and then flipping down the far side… bliss!
-Poppet, stretching.

Joining with the lovely Em over at The Beetle Shack  for moments from our week. Our last week in Queensland for the year. I'm back in Victoria now, the kids and my beloved return in another few days and now it's time to start preparing for school and work and study and… breathe. Such lazy, lovely days! 

Saturday, January 18, 2014


My Poppet - dreamy and sleepy in Nana and Grandpa's garden
My Sprocket - just out of the sea and up a tree. Does life get better?

Joining with the lovely Jodi over at Practicing Simplicity for a portrait of my little ones once a week, every week, in 2014. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Goodbye Tropics (A heat induced ramble)

Yesterday I made the long journey down from the tropics of Queensland to the scorching heat of Victoria. While I am massively grateful I didn't endure the week of temperatures in the forties (and to all those who did, particularly those in areas around fires, my thoughts and prayers were with you, excepting my mum and brother who thought it was 'pleasant',) I was apprehensive about returning to my baked garden. 
I still can't quite bring myself to check on the worm farm and possibly see fifteen hundred fried worms. (The guilt, the guilt!) 
As I left our home-from-home in Queensland in the early hours of the morning, the cicadas were cicada-ing, the wind chimes were chiming, the pigeons were cooing and the air was moist and cool under a low grey sky.
As the plane flew over Victoria I looked down on a land dried to yellows and browns, the pale yellow fading into a haze of white heat and smoke. Stepping onto the tarmac beneath the high and unforgiving blue sky was like stepping into an oven - 40+ degrees. Knowing I still had a bus, a train and a walk from the station before I reached home, I meandered through the airport, making careful note of all the books I wanted to read in the bookshops. I have a list I'll share soon! (Thrills & Grins of palm rubbing anticipation.) 
I managed to miss my train at Southern Cross, checking out the new (to-me) shopping centre, but an hour in a cafe sipping iced tea is not such a hardship, although the poor air-con struggled and the sweat ran down my legs. My country train also struggled, jolting along the heat-buckled tracks at a snails pace, before giving up the ghost halfway home. We all had to get out and wait for the next train - but by the time it arrived I was so engrossed reading I missed it… I'm blaming baby brain. 
Twelve and a bit hours after I gave my little ones sleepy goodbye-and-see-you-soon-hugs in Queensland I hoist my bags over the gate of home while I racked my brain for the padlock combination, emptied the full-to-the-brim-letterbox and started as a huntsman spider ran up the local paper towards me. 
But I'm home now. About to commence making the house all 'shiny' for the little ones return. (Read, apply CPR to my poor roses and hydrangeas, rid the fridge of all it's past expiry Christmas stuffs, hide the evidence of their dead worms, and throw out and giveaway as many toys and clothes as I can so all the new Christmas goodies vaguely fit.)
I still have to meander up to the shops for food, but hey, frozen peas, tinned corn and olives is a healthy breakfast! 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Littlest (Week 25)

           Posing under the banana trees at 25 weeks pregnant. (Clothes thanks to St Vinnies & the Salvos)

Dearest Littlest,

You are getting bigger and bigger. You are about 35 centimetres long and if you were born now would have a reasonable chance of living. Your big brother asked how big you were today, and I showed him pictures on the 'net of how you're all folded up like a pretzel. There was a photo of a teeny tiny little premmie baby and it was so amazing to see how small, and yet how perfect you are.
You remain a night owl, only really waking as your brother and sister go to sleep. We tried to hear your heartbeat with the stethoscope a few days ago, but you were playing hide and seek. Maybe in a week or so.
You still kick a lot - especially once the sun has gone down - and recently had hiccups.
My milk has started to come in, which made me smile when I first discovered it. It's not really that long since it left - I still had some from Poppet in the early weeks of your growing. While Poppet's been weaned for awhile now, she was asking for 'sneaky milk' right up until a few months before you were conceived. I remembered how amazed I was when I first had milk when I was pregnant with the Sprocket. I'd always assumed there was just one milk hole that milk came from, you know, like a cow, so was a bit perplexed to discover there are many little holes, more like a shower head.
I have also started to waddle. Your Daddy assures me it is a very beautiful waddle, and that if he were a duck he'd follow me, but it is a definite waddle.
I went for an early morning walk this week, (and was entranced by creamy frangipani scattered on lush green grass) and didn't drink enough water - my blood pressure plummeted and I went all dizzy again. Reminder to self: Water. Water. And more water. And then more water.
Your Aunty Bec and I went on a big op-shopping expedition and I updated my wardrobe as clothes are getting a tad tight. Op-shops don't have a great range of maternity stuff, but I found lots of stretchy, elastic-y stuff that should see us through. Can I just say that there is a shocking dearth of skirts and trousers with elasticised waists? Someone should get onto that! Quite a few of the volunteers at the shops (God Bless them) asked when the baby was due, and then gave me pitying, startled looks when I told them we still have nearly four months to go. Only one actually informed me that I was large for my dates and you'd be a big baby. And I'm prepared for it. Your brother and sister were both over four kilos so I'm not terribly optimistic you'll be any smaller, but it's a bit depressing hearing a complete stranger state it.
You're kicking now, as I sprawl in bed, watching my tummy jump with your antics, enjoying the cool of the night and listening to Celtic Dreamland, the same CD I put your sister and brother to sleep to. Your daddy's out fishing, your brother and sister lie sleeping. The curtains are moving in the welcome breeze and all is still and quiet.
Goodnight my little one, grow well.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Sleep, Little Ones, Sleep

My little ones are generally good sleepers. Lights generally go off at 7.30 - 8 or 8.30 in the holidays - and they sleep until 6.30 or 7.30.
The catch is that they're both still in our bed.
And they are not quiet sleepers. My Poppet giggles and talks and even sings and dances in her sleep. If I get up to go to the toilet, or write in another room, I'll hear her plaintive 'Mama? Mama?' within minutes.
My Sprocket likes to sleep with an arm sprawled around someone's neck, a leg hooked over someone, just to ensure they'll stay put. He also has a preference for sleeping horizontally. My beloved and I may get eleven or twelve hours sleep (if we choose) but those hours are crammed into a very small space and often involve having an elbow jammed in our neck and a knee in our tummy.
It started out innocently enough, when Sprocket was a baby. He slept in his own cot until he was about three months old. At three months, he decided this was a travesty.
As we were living in the tropics at the time, I just shrugged. We got rid of the bed, I got rid of my pillow, we stuck with  a single sheet for covering, and Sprocket came into our bed. I figured without pillows, blankets, and with no major fall from the mattress to the floor, he'd be as safe as possible from SIDS. If he wanted to feed through the night I was fine with that - I was getting two long sleeps/reads during the day while he sleep-nursed and hardly woke for his night-feeding.
I was fine with it, but my Beloved talked to workmates, who shrugged when he worried about our nearly one year old in bed with us. It turned out they both still had their youngest kids in their bed who were four and five. As they were the head of vector control in the country and the World Health Organisation representative, we figured if it was okay for them, it was okay for us. Of course, in a developing country where most houses only have a couple of rooms, we were the norm.
Poppet stayed in her own cot until she was about two. Albeit, when she was about six months old we took the side of her cot down, and pushed it up against our bed, so although after each feed I'd put her back in her cot, she could easily crawl across to me when I woke, and I could reach out and check on her through the night. In the cooler weather of Victoria, we both rugged up, and again, made sure there were no pillows or quilts that might be a suffocation risk.
When we decided to move the little ones into their own room, and moved her cot through, we thought we would have all the space in the world. Not so. There was more space in our room without the cot on one side of our bed and Sprocket's little bed on the other, but neither kid had any intention of sleeping so far away. Winter came, it was cold. It seemed cruel to have them on their own in the freezing, uninsulated old house. And somehow, things stayed like that. It just seemed easier to put up with a bit of contorting, to know they were warm, and safe and Sprocket wasn't burning the house down in another room. And well, they were great little hot water bottles.
Now my Sprocket is getting older, and my tummy is getting bigger, it's obviously time for a change.
Up here, at their Nana and Grandpa's they have new bunk beds, beautifully decked in new linen. Every night I clamber up and read stories in the top bunk with my Sprocket, and explain again why they can't be in our bed (Sprocket finds this very perplexing, Poppet just accepts it). At close of stories, Poppet gets down, turns out the lights, gets into her own bed and we all listen to a very soft, Dreamland lullaby cd while the little ones fall asleep, and the Littlest one in my tummy awakes and kicks and summersaults. Breathing deepens, we can just hear the cicadas outside. For a little we talk about our day. And after a couple of false starts, I dispatch myself from my sleeping child, and lumber down the bunk ladder. Leaving my little ones asleep I waddle through to sprawl in a massive- seeming bed.
It. Is. Amazing. How much space there is. It goes to my head and I stay up way too late doing stuff that's just procrastinating while I enjoy stretching out.
Well before the sun rises our little ones start sleepily padding through to our bed. But that's okay. Baby steps. Poppet often sleeps the night through in her own bed. Sprocket… not so much. We're getting there.
As I write now, in the dark bedroom, at seven am, both kids have already come through, and lie on either side of me. Poppet is stretching into wakefulness, her gold curl in glorious disaray. She snuffles, yawns, tells me of her dream, pulls one of my arms around herself, threads her warm fingers through my own.
We're getting there.
For memories sake, I write this down. Sleep, lack of sleep is such a big part of our lives. I've spent so many hours writing in the dark in the early hours of the morning, a kid sleeping to either side of me. I want to remember, even while we move on to the next step.
My Beloved has already decreed Littlest, the wee one presently growing in my tummy, is never sleeping in our bed.
We'll see. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Stills from the Week

-Poppet with my friends two boys in Melbourne, at the beginning of the week. The change in colour between the dried landscape of Victoria and the lush green up here in Queensland now is amazing. Looking at the forecast I see Victoria is due a hot week and I fear for my poor roses with no one to water them…
-In the garden at Nana and Grandpa's, playing on the water slide.
-A cool, rainy evening when we went for a walk. The rain fell gently and the air was full of the sound of cicadas and the wild caw of cockatoos. There were so many mosquitos biting that my Poppet put her hands on her hips and said "We're not lollipops!"
-Flowers we saw on our walk.
-Poppet and I gathered these frangipani from the grass under a tree and brought them home to Nana. I do love frangipani. (I only learnt last year that in some places it's called 'plumeria'.)
- A mango fresh picked from Nana and Grandpa's tree. I had it for breakfast the following day and I think I'll remember the taste of it for the rest of my life. It was that good. That and the apricots I ate straight from the tree down at our coast house have been the most glorious things I've eaten all year (and I'm counting last year here too!) There's no surpassing from-the-tree fruit!
-Poppet, napping on her bed at Nana's, in the middle of a busy day.

Joining with the lovely Em over at The Beetle Shack for moments from our week.

Saturday, January 11, 2014


- Sprocket playing on the swings at Nana and Grandpa Sheba's house. We're holidaying up near the Sunshine Coast in Queensland now, and loving the rich greens and gentle light - such a change from the dryness and browner shades of Victoria!
- Poppet about to stroke a friendly horse that came over when we were on our evening walk. Poppet calls all horses 'unicorns' - obviously with invisible horns.

Joining with the lovely Jodi of Practicing Simplicity, for a portrait of my kids once a week, every week in 2014.  

Friday, January 10, 2014

Littlest (week 24)

Twenty four weeks now, Littlest.
You're about 21 centimetres long and just over half a kilo in weight. I find I'm looking at bags of flour and sugar and thinking 'Littlest is half as light/heavy as this!' You're still very skinny, but your brain, lungs and taste buds are all developing.
Your brother and sister ask every day how big you are, so I like to be able to say 'this big' and show them with my hands. We're going to have to look for a video for them to watch, although I've shown them pictures of babies 'on the inside'. They love talking about when they were the ones growing inside. Poppet has been telling everyone we meet, including random strangers, all about you.
You've been on your first plane ride, Littlest. The first of many, I hope and suspect. You were very good. Which is more than I can say for your tired, cranky, siblings! Okay, or your tired, cranky, mummy.
Baby-Brain has well and truly hit. (I don't care what the studies say. It's real.) As well as losing car-keys, forgetting to sunscreen my neck (I have a browny-red and peeling 'collar' now, which has been used as a deterrent to your brother and sister on going into the sun without sunscreen, hats and shirts) I also misread 'pm' for 'am' on our plane tickets.
But you are now in Queensland, Littlest. Warm humidity and intense green surrounds and very soon we will both be wallowing in the Pacific. You for the first time.
You remain a night owl. Every night I wait for your kicks and punches and every night they get stronger and closer together. I imagine what you're doing when I feel the double movements and then more in sharp succession. Is it just a series of kicks? A summersault? At any rate you're very active.
My first leg cramp of this pregnancy was last night.
I can't say I'm delighted.
I'd forgotten quite how horribly painful they are.
I am starting to make noises like 'Aoaoaoaooo," when I hoist myself up from sitting, my centre of gravity has completely changed, or possibly just got up and left.
At least lots of other pregnancy niggles are easing up and my main concern is how hungry I am all the time. I've been reading about how what I eat now influences your future food preferences so I'm trying to stick to lots of healthy things… a bag of cherries disappears in a blink of the eye, but I do find that if something rich and sweet is in front of me (say Christmas pudding or mince pies, and everyone seems to have leftovers!) they're too much to resist.
Anyway, littlest, you're six months old now. Only four to go until we meet you on the outside!
Grow well little one, grow strong.  

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

That Mountain

Many years ago, my uni job was assistant creative dance and yoga teacher for kids. It was a fantastic job. The teacher, an old family friend, was also an architect and as well as brilliantly creative dance ideas and a fantastic array of music ranging from Beethoven to Sculthorpe by way of African Sanctus, she always started the classes with a fifteen minute design 'centring'.
The mums would be around during the design (generally pasting coloured oddments of paper, inspired by various themes) and while I raced around making sure everyone had glue sticks, welcoming new people and filling the water jugs, I'd be covertly admiring them.
The mums were exactly who I wanted to be.
They seemed so happy in their own skin, so content, so stylish. And their kids would be flocked chattering around them.
There was one mum in particular I remember. She was lying on the carpet on her side, helping one of her boys, a three or four year old, with his design, while her toddler crawled over her. The curve of her body reminded me of a mountain, or series of sloping hills.
And I remember thinking 'that's what I want to be'. I wanted to be the timeless mountain my kids played upon, were sheltered by.
Fast-forward nearly eighteen years and I am that mountain.
And it's everything I hoped it would be.
And some things I hadn't considered.
It turns out I'm a mountain primed to erupt.
I hadn't actually taken into account that being climbed upon can be quite a painful experience.
While I love that my kids run to me for comfort, reassurance, nurture, I hadn't considered that along with that, in any one day I'd receive - with no maliciousness, or indeed thought at all - head-butts, elbows jabs to the throat, be kneed in the back (or tummy) and have my hair stomped on or pulled. And that's not even getting onto breastfeeding toddlers intent on doing sudden summersaults, with my nipple clamped between their teeth.
While I would like to think of myself as a calm, mellow type, the truth is that those who know me, know I have a tendency to react first, then think.
On kneeling to pick something up and having something solid land heavily on my back and put me in a stranglehold, I've a tendency to yelp. (A less charitable person might say screech.)
When I'm lying in bed in the early hours of the morning and suddenly an elbow rams into my throat, then a knee into my belly, then firm hands yank my face in the desired direction, again, I have a tendency to yelp and flail. Give me a moment, and I'll realise that no, I'm not under attack, I'm just being directed "It's morning mummy, wake up!"
But by then I've already tried to shake off the attackers and - yep, yelped (screeched).
Five minutes goes into calming down the little one who just hadn't thought they might need to be gentle. "No, mummy's not cross. It's okay darling. I know you didn't mean it. It was just a shock. Remember, you need to use your gentle hands. You need to warn people before you jump on them. You need to ask them and say 'please, may I jump  on you.' No elbows. Remember, no elbows. Elbows are ouchy."
It is possible that if my uni job had been helping with some contact sport, say, rugby, I'd be better prepared.
But unfortunately, I yelp if heavy balls come my way. And my co-ordination (not required for creative dance and yoga, perfect for those of us suffering from dyspraxia) is non-existence.
Instead, I'm thinking of trying meditation. If I can just become a little less nervy, hold off the shriek (eruption) for the extra two seconds I need to work out exactly what is going on (and you'd think by now my body would realise, as it happens every day, many times, but no.) We'd all be a lot calmer, a lot happier.
Let me just visualise a mountain, green, growing, nurturing, protecting, and definitely never erupting. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Stills (New Year by the Sea)

- One of my Sprocket's main loves. Crabs. He was delighted to scramble around the rocks looking for his beloved friends. Luckily, we managed to persuade him to leave them on the beach with their families rather than bring them home. Hopefully he won't discover crab-family dynamics for awhile.
-Sprocket walking through the water with a boat my grandfather made for me many years ago.
-The baby seal that turned up on the tip of the point. While I'm worried about it's survival without a mother it was a beautiful start to the New Year to see a seal. It's only the third we've seen here in thirty five years. (Which possibly does not bode well for it's future.)
-Poppet, playing with broken shells.
-A much loved curve of coast.
-Fish 'n' Chips.
-Makeshift cranachan on New Years Day. Every New Years Eve we make cranachan - a lovely Scottish concoction of oats, summer berries, honey, cream and whisky. This year I fell asleep with the kids and only woke two minutes before midnight, just as my dad was nipping out the back door to come around to the front door and 'first foot' the house. I don't know if you know it, but first-footing is when a man (preferably tall and dark), is the first to enter the house in the new year. He should be carrying food, drink and coal. Fruitcake, whisky and a lighter tend to be the staples. Having slept so long I didn't have time to make cranachan for the new year- but this was a makeshift porridge/cranachan for the first breakfast of the new year. Obviously without the whisky!
-'For you, Mummy.' Flowers from my Sprocket.
-Poppet. I'll just throw myself down on Great Nana's driveway and pose, shall I?

Joining with the lovely Em, over at The Beetle Shack for moments from our week.