May 29, 2011

a what in the where?

Ollie: I'd like a rumble in the jungle 
Me: I don't know what that means
Ollie: I'd like a rumble in the jungle PLEASE
Me: Yes, but I don't know what that is 
Ollie: How about a jungle in the rumble?

May 26, 2011

ready for those tiny little stitches

Another bout of tummy bugs and another stressful week at work.  I am not going to dwell on the negatives this week, despite feeling so sorry for Max who is sick again, and for myself, so deeply unhappy in my job and lacking the courage to make a change. Rather, I'm going to write about the excitement of having basted my third ever quilt.

The top has been sitting neatly folded for a few weeks now and I finally went out and picked up a cheap-in-the-sale set of flannelette sheets to use to back the quilt with (for extra cosiness).  Washed, dried, elastic removed from the fitted sheet, I basted the top, wooly batting and soft flannelette together and it's now ready for those teeny tiny stitches.

It seems a little superficial to write about something so insignificant, but since becoming a mum, there are so many of those tiny little moments that seem to make even the gloomiest days happy ones, sometimes it's overwhelming how much I want to document the littlest of things.  You never think you'll get so much joy from seeing your kid put his own shoes on for the first time (that happened, by the way) or from hearing your baby boy pointing to a bird and actually trying to say 'birdy' or from listening to the very explicitly detailed account of how the garbage truck deals with the rubbish in the wheelie bins or from from having an hour to yourself to just be, but you do.

Now that the weather is cooling off, I am reminded of our holiday to Tasmania almost three years ago when Ollie was in my belly, and how beautiful and cold it was in the midst of winter, especially on this day at the top of snow capped Mount Wellington when I only managed a few moments out of the car to take this photo and a few others.  It's nowhere near as cold as Tasmania was then, but with these chilly evenings I'm looking forward to sitting under that nice big quilt and watching it come together.  I'm pretty keen to make one for our big bed next, pinks, oranges and deep yellows, I think.  What is it about having incomplete sewing projects that just makes you want to start even more?

May 20, 2011

forwards... and backwards

It's been a busy couple of weeks.  Actually it feels as though we have never had more to do in such little time.  That's an exaggeration, but we are in the throws of working out where and how we will spend the rest of our lives and it seems (to me at least) to be all consuming, seeping into every moment that isn't spent just living, making us feel even busier than we are.

It doesn't help that my job, the one that pays the bills, the one that I've been doing now for over 12 years is getting me down.  I can't reconcile what I do with what I want to do and constantly thinking about it is exhausting.  My creative bones are aching, but I'm feeling stifled by lack of time, imagination and space.  Our house feels so claustrophobic, toys, clutter everywhere, there's always groceries to put away, clothes to fold, benches to wipe down before I can sit and just think about sewing, painting, drawing, even wrapping a gift more artfully than I invariably do.  I have never enjoyed living like this, preferring instead to see things in their place and neatly ordered.  If I know there's a drawer full of crap, it often irks me to the point of having to clear it out before I can stop thinking about it.  No wonder I never get anything done.

But I digress.  I wanted to write about Ollie, who's gone jigsaw puzzle mad.  I don't want this blog to become a brag of everything my kids can do but I think it's a new mum's entitlement to voice her wonderment every now and again.  After the success of the 24 piecer I wrote about, we bought this little duo of puzzles for him a week or two ago, and it is amazing to watch him sort through the 40 pieces into two piles of very similar looking 2" square bits before the first is done in a matter of minutes and he's saying 'time to do the other puzzle now'.  Crazy.  On the other hand, potty training has taken a complete nosedive and I can't remember the last day where there were no accidents or even when Ollie told me he needed to use the potty.  I don't know what to do about this, since we started so well I thought we were done - poos and all.  But not anymore.  Even reverting back to treats for success doesn't seem to be working.  It is so hard not to get cross with him (and I know it doesn't help) but we've tried regularly asking him whether he wants to go, not asking him and letting him take the lead, and just taking him to the potty every so often but nothing seems to be working.  Anyone else might be happy to just go with the flow (so to speak) but for someone who craves order in her life, this hugely frustrating.  I mean, the kid can work out what to do with 40 jigsaw pieces but can't tell me when he needs to pee?  Come on!

May 14, 2011

pear and almond cake

We decided to indulge in a proper afternoon tea today, with this recipe.  I added 1tsp of vanilla extract with the eggs (although the version of the recipe I have from this book states 1tsp almond extract).

The batter was way thicker than the recipe suggested it should be, but it didn't matter.  It didn't rise much but it was delicious.  The kids were quiet for all of the two minutes it took them to eat their slices.  Highly recommended.

May 12, 2011

awesome to the max!

First steps!  It's been impossible to cajole the little guy into walking (unlike Ollie, who found the whole process of learning to walk hilarious), and even now that he's taken his first few steps (officially on 12 May 2011), he's still more inclined to crawl and will be for a while yet, I think.

Walking, running, breakdancing... it all starts here.

May 10, 2011


I love a good jigsaw puzzle, me.  Before the kids, it was a treat to sit and put together a 1500 piecer but I guess these days those little pieces would just be a choking hazard.  It seems, however, that Ollie may have inherited my affinity for this kind of thing.  From a very early age he seems to have an unusual patience for  puzzles and things that go together and recently he's been doing actual jigsaw puzzles.

I am in awe of Ollie's ability to put this 24 piecer together in a matter of minutes, and the running commentary he provides whilst doing it is pretty much off the cute-scale.  I bought it for him a couple of weeks ago and figured he'd be interested in it to the extent of sorting through the pieces and transporting them around in his dump truck, but instead he sat down with us and we did the puzzle together, initially strategically placing pieces to make it easier for him and then gradually letting him do the thinking himself.  It didn't take long (maybe three or four attempts with us) before he was doing it himself.  In fact when I was taking these photos I had to work fast before it was all done.

I mean it's probably not that impressive, and kids do this kind of thing all the time, but I think it's amazing and kind of incredible to watch.

May 3, 2011

what's next?

When I moved to Australia almost eight years ago, it was for love.  There was no other reason that I had at that time to leave the place where I was born and the place that I had called home for 27 years.  England.

I had been living in London for five years, and I was loving life, my job, my friends, my freedom from studying and exams as I'd recently finished my post graduate studies and finally felt able to truly enjoy what London had to offer.  Will and I had been together for only 18 months, but together in the most together sense of the word and from Day 1, when I knew this was the person I wanted in my life above all others, and we both became the couple that I had always wanted to be a part of.  We holidayed and lived together within weeks of meeting one another, so that he should want to return to Australia to pursue his education meant that I had to choose where my own future would be.  And at that time, there was no question.  I was going to go wherever he went and in any case, it was only going to be for a little while, just while Will found his feet, and then we'd move back to England.  So I boarded the plane and I will never forget the way I felt when he came to meet me at the airport (a story for another time maybe) and my life away from England began.  Our relationship went from great to even better, my career took off, I enjoyed challenge after challenge at work, we became engaged and then married (though I don't think I will ever get over having the small wedding here that my friends and family weren't able to attend), bought our first home, I gave birth to our first child, and then very soon after our second.  All with the backdrop of Will's education and my homesickness that has never abated.

So, eight years later, with Will's architecture degree successfully complete, we are again at a crossroads, only this time the choice isn't so certain, and the mix of a young family, a global financial crisis and the uncertainty of what life might be like anywhere else means we are questioning whether it is still right for us to move back to Europe, or anywhere from the surety that is Brisbane and our life in the promised land of Australia.

It occurs to me as I write this however, that it's not our crossroads, it's mine.  I am the one that needs an answer to 'what's next?', and I am the one that has never truly felt at home here.  Will has always been the flexible, adaptable half of our relationship, happy to go along with whatever situation falls his way, almost letting others make the decisions for him, whereas I am the one that craves the anchor of a permanent home and the certainty that it might bring.  I feel ashamed to admit that love hasn't been enough for me, the yearning for the change of seasons, for Christmas in the cold, for an impromptu Sunday afternoon with my parents has been too strong, and the once blossoming career is now a burden as I struggle to regain the respect, belonging and influence I had before I became a mother.  My stagnant career (and my ongoing pursuit of a more creative path) and becoming a parent has made the draw back to England an even stronger one, not just because I want my family to see my children grow up, but because I want even more to have a sense of belonging, and I suppose I feel as though I won't have that anywhere except back home.

And so, on Friday evening as we drank champagne and I watched and loved and soaked up every moment of The Royal Wedding, amazed at my own wonderment (I knew I would love it, but really - photos of the telly?!) and the picture of happiness and excitement of the Duke and Duchess, I thought about my own partnership, the decisions I have made so far and questioned where my future will be.  My future, not our future, because even though I am a part of this family and inextricably tied to the boys and the man I love so dearly, I need to find my own way, my own path of contentment that will help shape my family's happiness, and find me in that place of my heart and mind that I can call home.

May 2, 2011

new friends and another big day

I have to admit to really not liking Thomas and his friends, that moody old Fat Controller and the repetitive nature of the stories which almost always start with an engine blowing his or her own trumpet, screwing up the delivery of whatever to wherever, being told off by the Fat Controller and then being put to rights by another engine.  Boring!

But Ollie (and I suppose Max too, although he's not nearly as vocal about it yet) loves Thomas, almost as much as he loves the Octonauts, and he can spend ages playing with his train set, linking up the trains and their cargo, pushing them through the tunnel and around the bend and up the hill.  He'll often ask for help putting his train tracks together (and his pa is the master of that game) and even little Max loves to plonk trains down at the top of the hill and watch them fly down the track.  It's so sweet to watch them play together, especially since it doesn't always end up with them bickering over who gets to play with which trains.

On Saturday we discovered that the postponed-because-of-the-floods Day Out with Thomas event at the Workshops Rail Museum in Ipswich was on for just a couple more days, and so today we decided to take the boys out to meet Thomas, his friends and The Fat Controller.  It was a total success, Ollie was such a good little boy, he loved clambering up into the trains, sitting in the driving seat, checking out the most awesome model railway (very cool), queuing to see Thomas, listening to the (slightly creepy) Fat Controller telling stories about Annie and Clarabel and toddling around, taking in the scenery, the history (maybe) and the awesomeness of the giant engines.  He really seems to be in his element at this kind of thing (lots to see and do) and not just because it was Thomas themed.  We didn't do much learning about the history of Queensland's rail, but there'll be time for that (and I get so excited about the places we haven't visited yet).

So, at the end of another long weekend, as we look through the hundreds of photos of the three days gone by, it feels like we did loads and kept on top of things and managed to have a weekend that was enjoyable and exhausting.  Again.

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