Sunday, March 29, 2015

Our newest (furriest) baby.

 So here he is - Harry Haven Wolfe - the newest member of our family! The kids call him 'Wulfie' and I call him Harry. We're yet to see what his final name will be. (I've also suggested Felix as he's such a happy soul and I'm partial to Luke 'because the force will be strong with this one.')

He's eight weeks old and already massive with paws like little boats, but still the sweetest, softest bundle of fluff. I've never felt a dog quite so soft. I suspect 'Fluffball' will be a common nickname.

He's a very relaxed, laid back puppy, very happy to stay with the pack. He puts up with being picked up and carted around very well. He has just padded through to see me and is now examining the bedroom and giving Giggle-Bear a good morning lick.

The kids are enchanted. Adventure Boy fell asleep last night sleeping next to Harry on his pillow (I got extra large for growth) and during the day they don't want to be more than a few centimetres away. They've spent hours running with him in the garden and I have to keep reminding them that when he sits down it means he's tired and they have to let him rest - he's a baby.

When he gets a little overwhelmed he comes to sleep between my feet and I exclaim again over his amazing softness.

He's met my in-laws labradoodle - and perked up immediately. "Another dog! Whew - I'm not surrounded solely by furless half-lings. A normal being!" Sheba was desperate to play, but Harry was a bit too tired for that - it was a big day.

So voila - here is Harry Haven - aka Wulfie the dog of my children's childhood. Our gentle giant of fluff. I foresee many, many long early morning walks around the lake and twilight walks along the beach and nights I write into the dawn with him curled soft-as-soft at my feet.

Friday, March 27, 2015


Giggle-Bear - delighted to be crawling in the sand flats at the beach down the road. 

The Extravaganza - Joyous by sea. Her new haircut has grown on me. As this is her second self-given haircut I'm wondering if she has a career ahead of her in the same? 

Adventure Boy - Mud goes with young boys like coffee goes with everything. Beloved and I have long 'conversations' about the relative merits of Victorian vs Queensland beaches and let me say for the record that no Victorian beach I know of has a gazillion square kilometres of silt. Adventure Boy loves it. 

Joining with Jodi for a portrait of my kids, once a week, every week in 2015, 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Ten Months, Giggle-Bear

Dear-heart, you are now ten months (and quite a few days, this is ridiculously late) and the sweetest little bundle of cuddles and chortles and determination.

As you catapult towards your first birthday I've been going through old photos of when you were first born and all the months in-between and oohing and sighing and aahing and crying (just a wee tad, just the suggestion of tears, my last baby all grown up). From your tiny, perfect, just-out-in-the-world-and-smelling-of-newness-and-milk self until now, your very loud, humorous, easy-going self, each day you've been with us has been a blessing.

You can clap your hands now, and do so with great frequency and delight. You love waving to people as well. You make deep and meaningful eye contact with complete strangers and slowly, oh so slowly, start to smile, and then treat them to your overjoyed grin.

You think peekaboo is the best game ever and play it with overwhelming delight, giggling and giggling as you draw a piece of curtain or some clothes over your face and then take it away.

You remain devoted to water and whether it be sea, swimming pool or bath you twist and turn to be allowed to play and splash.  I quickly put your face under for half a second at the swimming pool to accustom you to it (your big sister hates putting her face under with a passion and it makes swimming lessons problematic) and not only do you love it, but you twist to try to do it yourself.

I love watching you hit the water with your chubby hand, watch the splash and then do it again.

Your face changes so rapidly I could just sit and watch and watch. You wear such an expression of reflection and judgement in repose, so serious and stern, and then something will happen to make you laugh and suddenly you're completely overwhelmed with joy and delight and deep gurgles and giggles.

We've turned your car seat around to forward facing as you were protesting so much about getting into it, twisting and arching and grabbing, and you are a lot more content being able to see more, and most particularly being able to see me. It's still not your favourite thing in the world, to be stuck in a car, but you can just about put up with it.

You love making all sorts of sounds, and you particularly love blowing raspberries but you're also trying out trills and growls and squeals, as well as saying mama and dada, hello and up.

You remain devoted to your siblings, and while your brother is casually fond of you, although generally preferring you in a different room, particularly if he has lego, your sister adores you and loves to carry you around and hold you. Sometimes, admittedly, you don't exactly want to be held and cuddled, you want to go exploring, but mostly you think she's amazing.

You remain devoted to blueberries and I've never met anyone as excited by broccoli as you are. Even as I cut it up to steam you start making urgent noises of desire. Presently, you are the most adventurous eater of all three of you - let's hope your tastes stay broad!

This is a time of great change for us - in the next three weeks, we sell one house, buy another and move in and… get a puppy. While my head is spinning with contracts and forms and things to sign and did I post that and why hasn't that arrived yet and are we sure we want that kitchen cabinet over there, wouldn't it be better over here, we are almost more excited about the new puppy. This will be (God willing) the dog of your childhood, my little one. He'll be the dog to watch over you, stay by you, through your earliest years. The breeder assures us of his gentle nature and we know he's spent his first weeks with other kids around. You are too little to understand, but we are all sooo excited and I know that you will love our new family member too. Soon… soon!

My little one, everything about you brings me the deepest delight - from the tuck of your little mouth to the dimples on the back of your hand. This baby year of yours has raced by far, far too quickly and I wish I could go back and re-live every moment of it that I got to spend with you.

I love the way you stretch right out just before you wake up, your chubby legs going straight as straight, your toes curling out and back, your arms raising straight above your head, your bottom lip pouting out. Then your eyes fluttering open, and then you look for me.

We make up silly rhymes (that generally end in blowing raspberries on your tummy or kissing your neck.

Lilli-Bear over there, Lilli-bear in her chair, Lilli-bear eating pear. Lilli-bear over there in her chair eating pear! 

Lily has the pretty toes, pretty toes, pretty toes, Lily has the pretty toes, yes, yes she does. Who does? Lily does! Lily has the pretty toes!  

And you laugh and laugh and laugh. You kick your little legs with delight.

Sweetheart, each and every moment of every day, waking or sleeping, you enchant us.

Photos from a nearby beach - enjoying the lovely breeze in the dusk at the end of a stinking hot day. You have mud on your face - collateral damage from your siblings mud-fight. You loved crawling in the shallows (and they stretched for silty miles in the low tide) but began getting chilled (true, in Queensland!) so I picked you up. 

Saturday, March 21, 2015


- My Extravaganza, unusually pensive. This morning she took the scissors to her hair. It'll be lopsided for quite awhile. I think she looks like a rather ragged-haired pixie. Poor love, she cried at the hairdresser when she saw how much had to be cut off to even try to even it out, which was a little odd given how much hair she left on the bathroom floor. I should have seen it coming - Rapunzel had her hair lopped off last night…

- Adventure boy. Climbing, as is his wont, wearing his wizards hat and carrying wand.

- Giggle-Bear. The mosquitos are so bad at present that when I take Giggle-Bear out into the garden to hang up the washing I hang a mosquito net on the line and tuck her under it. She comes up in horrible red lumps with mossie-bites, but she loves being outside. Look at the eyes on her and how big she is now. No more my itsy-bitsy baby but a little girl.

Joining with Jodi for a portrait of my little ones once a week, every week, in 2015.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Sometimes, the Book. A History of Ancient Britain - the book that was MEANT to travel with me.

A History of Ancient Britain by Neil Oliver

(Please note this is not a book review, but a gush about the wonders of the Right book at the Right time)

Sometimes, the book that you were meant to read at a particular time jumps into your hand, and it feels like magic.

Returning from Stonehenge, still a little drunk on the play of light and age of stone and the this-is-Stonehenge-and-I freaking-wrote-an-essay-on-this-nearly-twenty-years-ago-at-uni, I wandered around the gift shop determined to find the perfect encapsulation of the memory.

While in passing I picked up a rather funky drink bottle (you can never have too many drink bottles or sunglasses, or sun-hats or sunscreen, at least, not if you live in Queensland) I saved my real deliberations for the books.

I pored over the titles, from deeply academic tomes to New-Age dippy, willing the right book to announce itself.

And it did.

Beloved and I are long-time fans of Neil Oliver's History of Ancient Britain television series, and, with a little trepidation, I decided that just because he's a great presenter it does not neccesarily follow he's a lousy writer. It often does, but it doesn't always.

My punt paid off. Oliver's writing is just what I most enjoy - fascinating, witty, compassionate. Full of the kind of interesting detail that brings the past to life, but not too heavy, full of empathy, appreciation for subtleties, a keen eye to the romance of it all and a leavening dose of humour.

However, it isn't the writing alone that has me extolling the virtues (although that would have been enough to enthral me), it was how perfectly it mirrored my (brief and hurried) gallop through the United Kingdom. So many of the things Oliver wrote about had become deeply personal and others made sudden sense.

Obviously, the book had been in the Stonehenge gift shop for a reason, and Oliver discussed Stonehenge at satisfying length. Many new discoveries have taken place since I read about it at uni and I was delighted to read about them and gain new insight into the people-of-the-long-ago, the light-soaked landscape still at the forefront of my mind.

However, Oliver also wrote about the crannogs of Scotland, ancient round houses built over the water, with particular mention of the recreation I had seen on our (very long) search for snow and that had entirely stolen my heart.

There's even a photo of it in the book. And there's a photo of the torc found in Stirling, a reproduction of which Father Christmas had recently tucked into my stocking.

(Me with replica torc. Please note, white stuff in my hair is not dandruff. It is snow. After driving all day to see snow the day before, we got in the car to head down to England - and yes, this was A Bad Move, we should never have left Scotland - and it immediately started snowing. There is actually snow falling all around, you just can't see it very well in the photo.)

The real torc was found by a man who had only just got his very first metal detector and was trying it out beside his car before he started his real searching. The reproduction I'm wearing? well, Father Christmas got a decided nudge (elbow) at the National History Museum of Scotland.

I cackled (perhaps with a hint of hysteria) when towards the end of the book Oliver reflected that although he had read in many places that the Romans would have hated being in Scotland, he thought that many would have appreciated her wild beauty. He had travelled through Germany and Belgium after all.

Readers, I was on a train travelling through Belgium as I read that and a more boring, monotonous land scape I cannot recall. (And I have travelled through the flatness of Australian Desert for sixty non-stop hours.)  I also had a flu that was turning into a chest infection and was herding children totally over travelling, so possibly I was not in the best mood to appreciate it's dismal flatness, but yes. I looked out the window and it struck me how entirely right Oliver was. Any right thinking person would have been overwhelmed by Scotland's beauty, especially after travelling through the less naturally endowed low-countries.

It seemed like every page had something of interest I needed to tell Beloved about, or bookmark to use or reflect upon at a later date.

My copy, new just a few months ago, is now looking ragged and dog-earred and for some reason there's a chunk missing from the back cover (kids, I'm looking at you.) But I suspect I'll re-read it at least another three or four times.

And that's just this year.

The right book at the right time. Magic.

Saturday, March 14, 2015


AdventureBoy - leaping into life. 
Giggle-Bear - her o so infectious grin (and her rather flattering delight on seeing me!)
The Extravaganza - four going on fourteen. She's full of parenting advice for me. And statements that begin with "When I have a little girl…" 

Joining with Jodi for photos of my little ones once a week, every week in 2015.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

10/52 And the Great Re-naming.

Sprocket - boy with mud, big, beautiful eyes, and cane toad (just out of sight).

Littlest - Sitting with Daddy and taking it all in. 

Poppet - Princess dress, hillock and skateboard. Because that's how she rolls. Also enthusiastic spectator, a little in the way.

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

My little ones have grown a lot in the last little while. In fact, so much they've outgrown their old blog names. Soooo henceforth Sprocket will be (Drum-roll please!) Adventure-Boy, Poppet will be The Extravaganza and Littlest will be Giggle-Bear.


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

River Mouth - Maloolaba (Characters & Children...)

Looking at these photos from my birthday trip on the Maloolaba River, it struck me that my Poppet has started looking like one of my characters.

This wouldn't be so odd, if it weren't that I wrote the character ten years before my Poppet was born, in a fantasy book called The Language of Birds.*

Character wise, they could not be more different.

Jenny is reserved, almost shy, reflective, otherworldly and deeply nature oriented. My Poppet is outgoing, highly social, chatty and very of-this-world and, although she'll happily pick up a skink or pet a parrot, immersed in consumerism rather than nature.

Now I think of it, my Poppet's exuberance and friendliness is a lot more like Jenny's friend, Jack, although it's possibly a trifle immodest of me to compare my kidlet to a young godling. (Although she is fairly amazing. In my completely unbiased opinion.)

However, in these photos, my Poppet has a bit of Jenny to her, brought out by the nautical setting, as I do always see Jenny by the sea, and especially on boats. Jenny first appears in my story on a yacht on the edge of the world, at the very limit of the outermost outer hebrides of Scotland, the scene of her parents' murder.

Obviously, nothing like that has, or, God willing, ever will, happen to my Poppet.

But these photos of Poppet bring to mind the girl-of-my-fiction. The girl who is happiest walking the seashore alone, the girl who runs barefoot through the machair and knows the names and ways of all the seabirds.

The girl who finds the magical chalice that gifts her with the language of birds…

Child of my flesh and child of my imagination reflecting back at each other and both children of my heart. It is a strangely unsettling feeling…

(And yes. The white dress did get covered in tomato sauce. Of course.)

*Presently residing in a manuscript in a remote folder on my desktop while I mull upon it. I believe it probably needs another few years of rumination and three or four - or a heap more - drafts… Sigh. But it's no hardship spending more time with my characters.)