Friday, February 28, 2014


Sprocket - up a tree in the Exhibition Gardens after a visit to the Melbourne Museum. I'm amazed he had the energy after running through the museum all day. I considered it had been bedtime since about lunch.

Poppet - up a tree in a park near her Nana and Grandpa's.

We still can't return to our home because of the smoke in our home town, and I'm finding not knowing when we'll be able to go back hard, but we're trying to make the most of it by visiting lots of parks and museums in Melbourne. My Sprocket is missing a lot of school, but I'm worrying about that a lot more than he is!

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

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Clutter & Treasure

Hanging neatly on a rack at the back of the shop were six, no seven, dainty little vintage baby dresses. There was smocking. Lace. Ribbon. Hand-stitching.
The biro sprawl on the tags attached told me they were only a few dollars each. And despite my pledge to stop buying so much stuff… I knew that I was completely unable to resist.
While it's true that pregnancy plays horrible tricks on the hormones - prepare, prepare, prepare, of course baby needs one more little blanket, another pair of hand-knitted booties, a sweet little velvet dress that won't fit her for a year, it's also true that my inability to resist the allure of the thrift shop is sliding into dangerous territory.
I've banned myself from them until everything has found a home and I've de-cluttered, which is tricky seeing as I can't actually go to my house at the moment because of the smoke, and I'm surrounded by gorgeous op-shops whispering about their hidden treasures.
It used to be the kids kept me out of op-shops, as my Sprocket had a tendency to climb shelves and quickly become bored - now it's entirely possible to tell them they can choose one small thing, and they'll behave beautifully. (Mostly.)
Op-shops have come a long way in recent years. Most have eftpos. A lot have websites. Facebook pages. Loyalty cards. The Salvation Army even have a magazine called 'Salvonistas' with very funky photos. My Dad swears by the Brotherhood of St Lawrence, who now put all their books online, and deliver for free… often the next day. Talk about temptation! (Literally sacks of books arrive on the doorstep on a regular basis.)
Which all makes it even harder to walk on by.
But I can do it. Seriously. As long as I don't take that initial step through the front door.
Let's just take it one day at a time.
But what if there are little vintage dresses, just waiting for me?
Deep breath. One day at a time. I can do this.

Can you resist the allure of the op-shop? Any tips? Any good finds recently?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

'All I need is the air that I breathe' (and to love you)

There's an old The Hollies song from the seventies that's stuck in my head at the moment.
It's 'The air that I breathe,' with the catchy rephrase 'sometimes, all I need is the air that I breathe and to love you.'
I think I probably listened to too many golden oldies radio stations growing up, but it seems very apt at present.
The air that I breathe is not something I previously considered a lot.
In fact, I completely took it for granted, although I know in the bad old days London had a smog problem and other cities around the world have massive pollution problems. (Check Beijing at the moment, which the WHO has declared 'barely suitable' for life.) It's just not something I expected to worry about in Australia. You know, land of wide open spaces and clear blue skies.
I took it for granted, like clean drinking water, again, something that people around the world have greatly differing access to, and with dirty drinking water being a major killer in majority world countries.
With the coal mine on fire on the edge of our town, the air is currently nearly ten times the 'very poor' level on the Environmental Protection Agency charts and five hundred times as bad as in Melbourne. On the chart above - we're the place in black. (This is the chart I've been checking every hour for the last two weeks. It's become almost an old friend. The places tested seem a bit random, and they only check the South and East of my town, while we're in the North West, but it's not that big a town.) You can see the Carbon Monoxide reading is also 'poor.'
Not that I'm stressed or anything.
But we've left and are living with my parents in Melbourne, with no clear idea of when we can go home. In one way it's fortuitous, as my Beloved is presently doing a rotation at a Melbourne hospital, and it cuts his commute time by at least two thirds. No more four am alarms. Yay!  However, my Sprocket just started primary school and we've had to take him out.
We did try to go back for a couple of days, as the air reading last week was generally good, wind dependant - but on Sprocket's first day back at school I was picking him up from the neighbouring town where his school is, happily telling myself that our town might suck, but at least the kids were away from it at school and creche, when we passed a heap of emergency vehicles. As we hurried in the door of home (hardly able to breath for the smoke) my Beloved rang to check we were okay - there was a grass fire heading from the mine to the power-plant and the town with Sprocket's school and Poppet's creche, and the town had a 'leave now' warning from the CFA. He wanted to check we were safely home. The 'leave now' advice only lasted about forty-five minutes before they got the fire under control - metres from the power-plant, but now that town has 'severe smoke' advice as well. The thought of being on the other side of a fire from my little ones sealed the deal.
No one really knows when the fires will be put out.
Next week has a forecast of winds and high temperatures and while two weeks is the optimistic forecast the word 'months' is being thrown around.
There are coal fires around the world that have been alight thousands of years, including one in Australia at Mount Wingen in New South Wales that's believed to have been burning for six thousand years. There are mines that are known to have been burning since 1802. 
I've always been a big supporter of wind, solar and water energy, but I think I've just been radicalised.
Watching ash and soot collect in our house under air vents, keeping away from closed windows as the scent of the acrid smoke gets in the cracks, waking unable to breath properly in the night, putting out the rubbish wearing a face mask, trying futilely to get the kids to understand they just can't go outside, it's dangerous, and watching them climb the walls of our tiny house with cabin fever, planning to get away from it all and go to the beach… only to realise it's a high fire danger day and the road to the beach is in a high danger area, and decide not to… only to be vindicated when fires do break out along that road… these are things I am happy to leave behind us.
We're enjoying Melbourne and quality time with Nana and Grandpa. But I feel for the people who just can't leave, for the businesses that are going under, for the households which are much closer to the mine than we are, to all the brave people fighting the fire under horrible conditions.
So now we're just waiting, and waiting… waiting for the winds to change and the rain to come… it's a bit like being stuck in the Dr Seuss book with 'the waiting place'.
Hopefully one day soonish we can go home. For now we'll just enjoy the bright lights and clean air of the city. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Littlest (week 31)

Littlest, we had a party for you on the weekend. 
Not a baby shower, because hey, we have all the baby stuff we could possibly need, and party games aren't my thing, but just a 'hey, you're on the way and isn't it wonderful.' We combined it with my birthday party and  had a picnic in a park in the city and it was such a lovely afternoon. The weather decided to settle on perfection - being neither too hot or too cold but just right, the light was gold and dappled and all the kids played brilliantly. We had it near the Dolphin Fountain and, somewhat to my amazement no kids fell in, although Sprocket got his backside wet and threw his shoes in, but those are very minor things! 
You will be pleased to hear that you behaved beautifully, kicking just enough to let me know you were all right, but not enough to cause distress. 
I wore my 'back-up wedding dress', the one I got all those years ago in case at the last minute I outgrew the one that was mum and grannie's. I figured I'd never get another chance to wear a maternity party dress - although I'm considering wearing it as a nighty now, as it feels so comfortable and silky and it's such a waste to have it just sitting in a drawer. It seems strange to think that I'm at the same stage of pregnancy now (maybe a little under) as I was with Sprocket at my wedding! I definitely prefer the photos from this weekend - I let myself be talked into a make-up artist for the wedding, and the results were… scary. I distinctly remember looking in the mirror before we left the house and thinking I should just wash all the gunk off, but in the end I left it on and I've regretted it ever since! 
After the party we left your nana and grandpa's and returned home to our smoke-ridden town so your brother wouldn't miss any more school. Unfortunately, he was sick that night so couldn't go to school anyway. Both he and your sister came to my midwife's appointment the next day (they made a strong case that if your brother was home from school your sister should be too, to keep him company. I should never have let them persuade me…) and were very curious about what was happening. They loved hearing your heart and were interested to see the midwife check my blood pressure the same as Daddy does. We've moved on from the umbilical cord and are now talking about the amniotic fluid you swim in. Your brother wants to take you to the swimming pool to see how well you swim after all your time floating inside me. On the way in to school today we talked about all the things you will, and won't be able to do when you arrive. You will be able to feed and sleep and cry, hold their fingers and kick, you won't be able to talk or sit or walk for awhile. 
You, my littlest one, are presently still head down and your heart is doing just what it ought. 
I talked to the midwife about what to do about all the smoke surrounding us, but I still don't know if we should just pack up and move in with mum and dad until the fire's put out, or try to work around it. 
The air has seemed okay this morning - but Sunday night the stench of it woke me and it felt hard to draw breath… and when I did… it was acrid and smothering. 
I do hope it's not hurting you… the kids and I are going to pick up some of the air masks the council are giving out today. Not something I ever imagined having to do. O Little one, I do worry for you. We really haven't had any symptoms - apart from that one night - but checking the air quality every hour, so often it is deeply, deeply worrying. 
A big gust of wind has just blown up and I can see the ashes fly by, but at least there are still patches of blue. Thunderstorms are due tonight, and I'm looking forward to them washing everything clean. 
Grow well, Little one, not much longer now. 

Joining with the lovely TOI of Life of TOI and Erica of To the Sea for Blogger Baby Boom.

To the Sea

Sunday, February 23, 2014


-When Poppet choses her clothes it's all about the 'princess clothes' - in a favourite dress and her birthday tutu- she runs across the playground. The kids were playing with the two boys of one of my best friends and poor Poppet spend a lot of time yelling "Boys, boys! Chase me! Over here!" while they were monumentally uninterested.
-Poppet and Sprocket exploring in a park. There were many wonderful sticks and the occasional tree trunk Sprocket tried to hoist up.
-Sprocket, climbing up on the railings for a better look down into the pond for tadpoles and waterlife. We were lucky that my Aunt, who specialises in freshwater invertebrates was with us to point things out and find interesting things.
-Sprocket, playing cars with a friend.
-Sprocket, examining a cicada shell. He didn't want to be left out of the nail-painting on the weekend and his finger nails and toe nails are now a fetching shade.
-Poppet, with an old school friends little girl. She's so ready to be a big sister!

We've been in Melbourne the last week, hiding out from the smoke and fires of home. It's been lovely gulping down the fresh air and catching up with family and friends. Now we're back in our home town, unable to go into the garden, feeling sick with the smoke just going to the letterbox, and trying to explain to the kids why they can't climb out the windows and play in the garden like normal. We live for the times the wind changes and are considering returning to Melbourne… lovely as it is to be in our own home… fresh air has it's own (rather strong) allure. As my Poppet cried for at least half an hour when we left Nana and Grandpa's the kids are all for a return to the city… if it wasn't for Sprocket's school...

Joining with the lovely Em of the beetle shack for moments from our week. 

Saturday, February 22, 2014


Poppet - Listen to my words! It's been an unsettled week in Melbourne, staying with my parents while the smoke surrounds our house in Gippsland from the fires in the coal mine. My Poppet's diva like tendencies have come to the fore. (Although considering all the disruptions and change of routine she's been very good.)

Sprocket - Walking in the park with his stick, on the lookout for cicadas, tadpoles and all other things that creep, crawl and wiggle. Only reluctantly accepting he's unlikely to find piranhas in the streams and ponds. From this shot you'd never guess my little school boy still has his baby cheeks and still climbs into my (increasingly crowded) lap for comfort.

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

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Rose By Any Other...

In the early throes of morning sickness with my firstborn, I also came down with a flu-type cold. As well as throwing up I couldn't get warm, no matter how many quilts I bundled under, or how many jumpers I wore, or how many hot water bottles I clutched.
On mother's day, my first as a sort-of-mother, I managed to get down to the local cafe and actually eat something for brunch. As the car pulled into the driveway when we came home I only just made it to the bushes to throw up.
I spent the rest of the week in bed.
The sound of the sea through the open window was my great comfort. And the huge bunch of lilies my beloved bought me for mother's day. He'd left it a little late getting to the shops, so the lilies he got weren't quite open on the day, but watching them open over the week, the gorgeous scent filling the room and then the house, distracted me from the nausea and chills.
I thought of the name 'Lily' in thanks and appreciation.
But of course, we already had a girl's name and a boy's name picked out, and had had since forever. I'd decided on the names Caleb and Amaya when I was about twenty. I'd been reading name books for my writing since I was thirteen, so had gone through a variety of loves, but for nearly ten years, those names had stuck. Caleb I'd loved since seeing the movie Sarah Plain and Tall, wherein there's a gorgeous little four year old boy, and Amaya I'd seen in a name book and it had just stuck with me. It's supposed to mean 'night-rain' in japanese and arabic and reminds me of lovely nights spent listening to the rain on tin roofs and wandering outside in moist darkness.
Before my Beloved and I went out, when I was still trying to persuade him it was a Very Bad Idea, I brought up the fact that I already knew my kids names as a deterrent, thinking any guy would immediately run (fast) in the opposite direction. We were swimming in the warm sea off Honiara, Solomon Islands, and he just grinned and said 'that's odd, those are the names my kids are going to be called too.' When, during the next weeks, I saw that he'd created new computer game characters with the names of my kids I suspected he might be harder to deter than I'd thought.
So choosing names for our first two children was not particularly hard.
Caleb is always called Caleb. Amaya we often call Maisie, while she calls herself, and Caleb calls her, Maya, and she gets nick-named May-May and Maisie-Mu.
Come Littlest, our third child, the problems arose.
My Beloved and I knew absolutely what our baby should be called it were a little boy. Unfortunately, I was absolutely certain about one name, and my Beloved was absolutely certain about another. Thankfully, before war broke out, we discovered we're having a little girl.
We were both certain about a girls name - luckily the same one - and had been set on it since Maisie was born. Unfortunately, everyone else in the family hated it.
And I began remembering Lily. Short, easy to spell and say (although I have to try not to smile when Maisie kisses my tummy and says 'I yuv you yi-yi'' - but she will get her 'l's eventually,) not too popular, not too unusual. There are a lot of famous Victorian beauties with the name - Lily Langtry etc, and my dad did mention that when he was working in nursing homes and geriatrics, thirty years ago, the wards were full of 'Lily's' but names are always coming and going and that doesn't particularly bother me.
One of my great-grandmother's middle name was Lilias, and I have considered having Lilias, shortened to Lily, but the thought of always having to fill in the forms 'given name' and then 'called' put me off, although I often do it for Maisie.  
Lily shares 'Rosa' as a middle name with Amaya and I - both my way of claiming daughters with a different surname to me, and because of my deep delight in roses. It also reflects an old painting of two sisters - Carnation, Lily, Lily Rose by John Singer Sargent.
Our Little Lily Rosa Joy…
Voila, the story of a name…
I love name stories so I thought I'd share. I'd love to know how other people chose names or how your names were chosen.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Littlest (Week 30) Going Retro

Littlest - you're thirty weeks old today and I'm in shock.
Only another ten (or eleven) weeks to go. Just a few seconds ago it seemed like forever until we'd get to meet you and now it seems quite close.
You're getting very large now and are beginning to be quite cramped. You're also beginning to lose all the lanugo and you can move in time to music. You are beginning to react to light. I wonder when I write at night if you move towards, or away from, the glow of the laptop screen?
You're very much settled in a solid lump on my right side. I think the big rounding just below my ribs is your rump, and the movements I feel down below are your exploring hands.
After a stressful week we've fled our home surrounded by burning coal mines, to your nana and grandpa's in the city.
The sky here is high and blue, their garden richly green and shady. It's such a relief to be away from the smoke, ash and parched land of home. To wander in the garden, to stroll down to the shops, to breath deeply.
I feel a little foolish - the moment we decided to just pack up and leave the air quality in our home town improved almost two hundred percent! For the first time in nearly two weeks we could see the stars.
However, our decision was brought about by a Country Fire Association warning saying that high risk people (children, pregnant women and the elderly and the ill)  should try to take a break from the area, and as the wind could change direction again at any moment, I think we made the right decision. Smoke is not good for you little one, and here the air is clear.
I'm so sleepy now, as we came into the city with your daddy this morning, leaving the house when the moon and stars were still up, just before five, so he'd get to work in the city by eight am, but having all the worry taken away is more than worth the yawns.
We're missing your midwife appointment tomorrow, and I do regret not hearing your heart this week, but keeping you away from carbon monoxide does seem more important.
While stuck in the house on the weekend, kept captive by the smoke, I got your daddy to take some photos of your bump while I wore one of your nana's maternity dresses from the seventies. I love knowing that my mother wore this dress while I was growing inside, but it's not going to fit me for much longer! Your nana and my nana were both horrifically sick the whole nine months, twenty-four seven and lost weight rather than gained weight in their pregnancies. I, on the other hand, am feeling wonderful and haven't been sick since about week thirteen. I am however very hungry!
In this photo I'm sitting in a cain saucer chair -also from the seventies - in your nursery corner, that I found on e-bay, and the lovely joiners around the corner fixed for free. It's just like one from our family coast home that disintegrated. It always relaxes me and reminds me of hours spent staring out to sea.
Your brother and sister are very interested in your umbilical cord at the moment and how you receive everything you need through it - Poppet fed me blackberries and blueberries today telling me they were 'for Littlest's umbilical cord.'
Littlest, your daddy's just home from work, and your granddad's just finished putting dinner on the table so I'll be going, but it's so exciting we're three quarters of the way to meeting you.

Linking with the lovely TOI of Life of TOI and Erica of to the sea for blogger baby boom.

To the Sea

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Moments: Smoke & Ashes

-Valentines day lilies. I knew my Beloved was ultra busy last week and doing anything for Valentines day was the last thing on his mind, so I snapped up some bundles of reduced lilies at Woolworths ($3.60 a bunch -steal) and we got Malaysian takeaway for dinner. Bliss. The scent and smell of the lilies got me through a very stressful weekend. I'm addicted.
-I've started placing little 'bits' around Littlest's nursery corner. Here's the little angel watching over.
-For my thirty week pregnancy photos (thirty weeks tomorrow!) I thought I'd try to fit into one of my mum's maternity dresses while I still can! In keeping with the retro theme I'm in the '70s cain saucer chair in Littlest's 'corner'. Failing to comfortably curl up in it, but so excited that soon I'll be curled up in it with our little one on the outside.
-Poppet's nail-polish is coming off and she wants it re-done.
-Flowers in the window-sill. This is pretty much the colour of the outside world. The two open cut mines near us are both on fire, one's been declared a national disaster, and we had a warning on the weekend to stay inside because of increased levels of carbon monoxide. I've been checking the air quality website as frequently as the fire warning one. Basically it says bad, very bad. We are fleeing to Melbourne soon!
-The kids sleeping.
-Breakfast. Why do rice bubbles go everywhere?
-Poppet, clutching the magic 'pink princess hair de-tangler' before we head off to creche. 'Pink-princess spray' is the only way I can get her to let me brush her hair without shrieking and rugby tackles. A little bribery goes a long way!

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

A lot of indoor shots this week as the smoke hangs heavy around our place. My Beloved walked up to the station this morning and texted that the ash was like snow in the air. Our house, our garden, our car, my beloved roses are all covered in it and all windows and doors are tightly closed. If it is unsettling for us, I can't imagine how horrible it is for all the CFA folk fighting it. So far I think nearly twenty fire-fighters have been treated for carbon monoxide poisoning. Some people truly are heroes.  

Saturday, February 15, 2014


Sprocket - Asleep beside me when I awoke this morning. The kids are also still sleeping in our room as the heat hasn't left and their room is still too hot.

Poppet- uncharacteristically uncertain. Normally she knows precisely how the world should run, and will tell everyone, friend or stranger, at great length.

Photos were last minute and inside, so it took me awhile to get the light right. My camera charger went missing (finally found under my bedside table) so I couldn't take photos through week. We've also been holed inside a lot with fire and smoke and then carbon monoxide threats.

Outside the sky is still white and low with smoke and all windows and doors are shut. If we do step outside the air smells of coal-fire from the two coal-mines burning near us and ashes often swirl by. I've been reminded of all my ancestors who worked down the coal-mines in Scotland, fourteen hour days, often in narrow tunnels on their hands and knees, men, women and children.

I think I need more cheering thoughts! The promise of rain is in the air… so hopefully things will improve soon.

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

Thursday, February 13, 2014


 When they were evacuating the people a few streets from us, because of the fires, we packed the car.
All the essentials – twenty-four litres of water, woollen blankets, natural fibre clothes, boots - in case of the worst, but also the stuff we really didn’t want to lose.
It took a surprisingly short amount of time.
Laptops. Cameras. Documents. My wedding dress and cloak. Poppet’s christening gown. Some carvings from the Solomon Islands. Some old books from my Great Aunts.
Everything else… well… I’d miss the ‘stuff’, but I wasn’t going to try cramming it into the car.
If there were more options as to where to go, we would have gone in an instant. But with the main roads to Melbourne cut off, and the back roads uncomfortably close to fires, there weren’t. So we stayed, and checked and checked.
And waddling through the house as we waited, it surprised me how little the thought of losing all the ‘stuff’ upset me. All the books and knick-nacks and trinkets and clothes collected over a lifetime were little more than a shrug. More important was whether we had the dog’s lead and the phones were fully charged.
Even the stuff I did pack? If we’d been told we had to leave now, we would have done so without a blink. 
Not being particularly bothered about all my precious treasures – whether they’re heirlooms, or were lovingly gifted or gleefully collected from thriftshops… is both surprising and oddly freeing. Yes, I’m sure I’ll still be sad when they get broken, but I realised that if we’re told we have to leave it all and might never see them again, it’s not much more than a few heart tugs.
I’d always thought I’d be more upset if everything went.  Reading stories about people having to leave their homes and everything in them I always thought they must have been devastated. The immediate threat focused my mind amazingly. When it came to it, it was all just 'stuff.' Yes, I 'love' it. Yes, a lot of it makes me happy. But it is just 'stuff'. 
As soon as the heat and smoke clear, the iron tablets kick in with some energy, as soon as the fire danger lessens and I can go more than a few minutes without checking updates, catch up on the sleep lost over the nights we spent checking the fire updates, I’m doing a big cull.

It should be fun.
I'll just have another nap (or two) first. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Littlest (week 29)

Oosh, Littlest.

This has been a stressful week! I know that stress and smoke are both not wonderful for you, but we could avoid neither. With the fires so close to us (the evacuation line was two blocks away and there were fires all along the ‘demarcation line street’) we were all surrounded in smoke and I was somewhat stressed and sleep deprived. (Okay, I am still stressed, sleep-deprived and smoky. But I am trying to breath deeply and stay calm. Except of course, not breathing too deeply because, hey, the smoke.) 

While the real threat seems gone (unless the wind picks up) the coal-mine and 4,500 hectares are still burning on the outskirts of town and smoke hangs so thickly we can hardly see the surrounding hills. Yesterday and this morning the smoke cleared (except over the coal-mine)– but since then the wind must have changed.

You, however, Littlest, are growing well.

Sitting out on the veranda on the night of the biggest fire threat, in the cool and the dark, constantly rechecking the fire alerts and road blocks on my laptop, listening to the helicopters and sirens, while my little ones slept inside -  the dog barked, and you flung out both arms and both legs in alarm. It felt like I had a bucket-load of monkeys inside! It felt like you said ‘Mummy! What was that?’

You are getting even bigger, I can feel my belly stretching and if I sit up from lying without rolling onto my side first you make the oddest circus-tent shape. I should be oiling my belly up, but somehow stretch-marks seem the last thing on my mind. Do I care? Not really. They fade to silver anyway. Your big sister is worried about my belly button ‘going the wrong way’ - it's now most definitely an 'outie'.  I’ve assured her that it’ll probably return to normal when you come out!

With the heat and the smoke outside I’ve been dumping the kids and myself in coldish baths every day to try to cool off. (I’m not entirely sure about shared baths now that your big brother is a school-boy, but on the other hand I’m not averse that he realises that this is what real woman look like, as opposed to the ones you see in the media - airbrushed, made-up and photo-shopped. Of course, most women don’t have great bulging bellies…) They’ve been asking all sort of questions about you – who made you? Why did we decide to have another baby? Why aren’t we having a little boy? Why did we decide to have any children? Why won’t you have teeth when you come out? Why won’t you be able to walk when you come out? They tend to think everything about you is hilarious. They're also keen to steal your milk but I've explained that it's "Lilttlest's milk." They both still have strong milk-memories, so I see how it's tempting when we're in the bath and it's just there! 

We had a lovely day on Saturday – a trip to the beach to avoid the 40c weather at home, and enjoyed so much exploring rock-pools in the breeze, watching the small fish swim, the seaweed move with the pull of the tide, wading out to seaweed-skirted islands into the middle of channels and walking out to peer in deeper water.

Before we left I plunged into one of the clear green channels through the reef and it was such a relief to be cool and weightless and supple, to dive under and swim open eyed, to stretch and twist and hold my ankles behind my back in a basket, to float on my back between sea and water. Wading back to shore I could see the bottom of the water perfectly - the pale sand, the light shadows, the patches of seaweed, my own slow-moving feet. I’m already counting the days until we can  go again.

Last week the results of my blood test said my iron was low. The symptoms I put down to ‘baby brain’ are actually symptoms of iron deficiency – forgetfulness, dizziness, tiredness, breathlessness with the slightest exertions. Your daddy has been saying since before Christmas he thinks I’m iron deficient and I’ve responded by eating more parsley and cashews…not to mention steak… time to call in the big guns. I’ve got pills to take but I’m not supposed to take them within a couple of hours of eating and neither before or after dairy products. And… um, hello. Constantly hungry pregnant woman here. I’m always snacking. A handful of nuts here, a bowlful of cherries there, some yoghurt, and is that a rice pudding?… I’m still trying to find the right time to take the pills. Also… I put the pills somewhere very, very safe (out of reach of children… and obviously out of my memory). I’m still trying to remember where…That would be the forgetfulness! 

With the continued heat your brother and sister are still in the bed with me, while your daddy sleeps on the floor or couch. I can cope with an arm from one side flung over my neck, an arm from the other flung over my chest, but I draw the line at legs flung over my hips. Your brother and sister do not seem to realise it is hot and we are all sweaty and smoky, despite frequent baths and showers. I’m also not a fan of the casual neck-in-elbow as your siblings use me as a prop to sit up. It is feeling very crowded. 

Autumn…and you, my little autumn baby, come soon!

Joining with the lovely TOI of  Life of TOI and Erica of to the sea for Blogger Baby Bump.

To the Sea

Sunday, February 9, 2014


 -Studying the rock pools for crabs and fish. We saw a stingray in one of the channels - just a small one, but we watched 'River Monsters' this week and the kids were a little freaked. Oops. Might not watch it again… It was blissful swimming in the channels. Clear green, light refracted water with small fish swimming around our feet.
-Poppet, she had too be bribed to keep her hat on, and kept trailing it in rock pools and leaving it on rocks.
-Poppet painted her toe nails to match mine. I think she did a decent (artistic) job!
-Beach picnic. You can see the sand on the strawberries. They were sooo delicious.
-Week twenty nine. Our Littlest one is growing big! She is doing the most amazing kicks and punches. (In honour of Valentines day coming up this week I'm wearing the dress I wore seven years and fifteen kilos ago that I was wearing when my Beloved decided I was 'the one'.')
-Poppet. 'Enough with the photos, Mummy!' (But I love the light...) Poppet has decided she prefers taking photos to being in photos and keeps taking over my camera.
-Stuck in the house on Sunday while the smoke and ash of the fires swirled around and we listened to the sirens and the 'copters, Poppet played with a scarf. Two blocks from us they were told to evacuate so we were desperately checking for updates. All seems okay now though. Um, apart from the paper-mill and coal-mine being on fire and the grassfires skirting the town… So grateful for all the wonderful emergency workers.
-Mangos for breakfast. Our favourite.
-Roadside flowers.
-Smoke haze over our town. We went for a drive to fill up on petrol, get water and paper money and check how to get to the evacuation centre and which roads were clear, and took a quick snap. (We decided the Red Rooster around the corner where scores of fire trucks were stopped to re-fuel seemed a good option)

Joining with the wonderful Em of The Beetle Shack, and all the other wonderful bloggers sharing moments from their week.

Fire, Fire

One of my earliest memories is of waking in the middle of the night, when we lived in the heart of the city, and going into the garden with my parents and seeing the ash in the air and smelling the smoke.
It was the Ash Wednesday fires of 1983 and I vividly remember the stories of people futilely trying to out-drive the fires, of a friend showing me where the fire had licked her house's back door and then jumped the house, while all her neighbours houses had burnt.
Nearly exactly five years since the last tragic fires in this region, the fires are back. After a week of sweltering heat, we knew today would be a bad one and I'm so deeply thankful that so far no lives have been lost.
On Friday my little ones and I plodded our way up to the train station to meet my Beloved returning from the city. Although it was past six, the temperature was still over thirty five degrees, our arthritic dog panted the whole way up, and I wasn't much better as I laboriously waddled, the sweat trickling down my back. When we got to the station, the station master told us that all trains had been cancelled as a fire had crossed the tracks, as well as the freeway, but buses would be bringing passengers up around the fire. After waiting half an hour for the bus to return daddy to us, my little troupe and I made our way home to wait. Luckily, my Beloved made it home safely not long after, but not before I'd checked every fire alert website I could find.
Yesterday, going to the beach, we saw the plumes of smoke in the distance. Today, early thoughts of going to the beach to escape the heat were soon relinquished as we realised the fire danger. Thankfully we stayed put, as the road to the shore developed fires all along it, thought to be deliberately lit.
There are fires all around the outskirts of our town, one within a ten minute walk of us, and nearly all the roads out of town have been cut off.
While the ridiculous heat of the early morning has been replaced by a welcome cool, the winds are still strong and everything is hazy with smoke. The sky that yesterday was high and blue was today paper white and smoke hung thick as fog in the air. We watched as ashes flew into our garden, and had the car packed and ready to go by noon.
It still surprises me how little of all our stuff we chose to pack.
If it had been possible to get to Melbourne we would have gone without a second thought, but with those roads blocked, our place seems as safe as any. But we have our phones close, waiting in case of any evacuation text. We're checking the fire updates every five minutes. (Okay, maybe every two minutes. I do not foresee much sleep tonight.)
We're not hearing so many sirens now, not hearing or seeing so many helicopters overhead. Everything still smells of smoke.  Outside, even with the dark, the haze of smoke is clear and there's a glow in the distance that is unsettling. The light has been odd all day.
Our children slumber in a house reeking of smoke, but thankfully cool. We check and recheck the fire warnings and it seems things are getting under control. But we're thinking of, and praying for, all the people out fighting the fires, all the people manning the evacuation centres, all the people coordinating emergency efforts. We're thinking of all those people who have had to leave their homes, those whose homes have been burnt.