June 24, 2011

and he married me

Golden Lane, Prague, 29 March 2005
He uses expressions like 'good lord', he loves soccer and not rugby, he likes to ride his bike, he never says no to pudding, he likes a good cup of tea after dinner, he doesn't wear jumpers even when it's cold, he thinks most 'fashion' is ridiculous, he loves the cricket and watches it with the volume down because he knows I don't care for it, he always asks whether we have anything planned before making plans of his own, he is an expert at settling Max when he's grumpy and at reading endless stories to our children, he wants to see the world with me, he makes the best train tracks for Ollie, sometimes he's too laid back, he can be frustratingly disorganised, he never ever raises his voice, he's always keen for a cuddle, he doesn't care much for separating colours from whites, he happily looks after our children when I am working late, he has no idea how much money we have (or rather, don't have), he is loyal, he is responsible but is still the kid he was when we met almost ten years ago, he is terrible with names and his memory is patchy at best, he is the big picture to my detail, he folds laundry without being asked, he does the hoovering, he procrastinates but always seems to get things done, he loves and lives for good design, he loves to read books by highbrow writers but can quote Futurama at the drop of a hat, he cannot live without coffee but gave it up without complaint when we were trying to conceive, he works hard at everything, he is funny (and not in a dad way), he loves his job, he gets cross with the pups but always has a pat for them, he is fair in everything he says and does, he cares about doing the right for our planet and for people, he reads the weekend papers from cover to cover, he knows more about most stuff than he ever lets on and five years ago today, he married me.

June 22, 2011

a sham!

All these posts about my sweet children, loving husband and perfect birthdays.  I don't write nearly enough about how thoroughly crap things can be and I think it's probably because I feel rather guilty complaining when really we have nothing to complain about.  We have health, enough wealth, a house, a nice one too, jobs to go to in this ailing economy and good people and fortunes around us, but boy there have been some challenging days recently and if you could see the carnage we are creating and the emotional turmoil that follows as a result, you'd say this blog is a sham.

On the feeling-guilty-about-complaining note, I'm also getting rather tired of having to justify to myself why I shouldn't feel stressed or unhappy or sad or any of those things.  Sure, I have plenty to be grateful for, but it's all relative isn't it?  In the scheme of my life, our lives, there are things that are hard to deal with, and just because they wouldn't be hard for someone else, why should it be me to put them into context rather than complain just like everyone else?

So, it might be a sham, but I don't particularly want to remember the day Ollie kicked and screamed his way to sleep, or the day I was an hour late for work because both kids decided to poop their pants as we were leaving the house and I invariably got it on my smart work clothes, or the time Will and I didn't utter a word to each other all evening because I was a miserable, hormonal and unreasonably stressed wife with nobody to blame but herself (and maybe her job) for her bad mood... no thanks.  I might not want to remember it but I will write about it every now and again, and I'm also going to be realistic about the relativity of it all because we're all allowed days on which to feel shit.  And in between those days I'll write about what is good in life.  Believe what you will, but the kids are sweet, my husband is loving and the birthdays are pretty much spot on.

June 17, 2011

michael brady

There is someone I know, or rather used to know, that I think about often.  We spent many a weekend together when I was at university and then when I moved to London.  He looked a bit like Leo Sayer and Alan Titchmarsh combined (and still does, as far as I can tell) and Colin Firth would probably play him in the story of his life.  We shared wine and food and cookies and ashtrays and a sense of humour, we played backgammon (I remember winning a lot) and I loved his oddball company, posh accent, and his curly hair.  His house was always freezing cold and I remember trying to warm a bottle of red wine on a lukewarm radiator in his Luton living room before drinking it anyway whilst sitting under a duvet.  He was there when I saw my first and only solar eclipse and we saw the dawn of this millennium together at his home in Cornwall.  In his own true style he put on quite the spread... and he wore a suit!

He liked to cook and whenever he came to visit he would bring cake.  I have been badgering him for a recipe for his Queen of Sheba chocolate cake for longer than is right (I did have it but I can't find it anywhere and I'm certain he's punishing me for losing it).  But one recipe (or receipt as he likes to call it) that I have is the one for his Luscious Lemon Cake - a better description doesn't exist.  I made it yesterday, and tweaked it slightly, but it was a good tweak (legal too, not like the additions we used to make to our cookies) and it was one he would approve of.

Over the years we have lost touch, although he's still around in cyberspace and of course it's not the same.  The memories of him and that part of my life are locked away in that museum of me, and in some ways that's where they belong, but I would love to share my life as it is today with him.  I still want that recipe and maybe if he's reading this, he might send it to me, although knowing him, he'll continue to keep it from me, because he'd think that would be funny.

Happy birthday Michael Brady.


I am sneaking this post in from my desk at work so there are no images to share.  It's Friday, a day that I normally spend with the boys getting ready for the weekend, but today I am here.  Will is at home with the boys who were a little on the whingey side when I left this morning, but to his credit, they had already had breakfast and he had already done the hoovering.  He takes it all in his stride, he does and I often wish I could be more like him. 

As a mother I am almost ashamed to admit that I love working.  I may have doubts about my job at the moment, but I still love working.  It's a balance that I crave, it's a part of my life that is predictable and ordered but challenging too and I like that I contribute to the financial security of our household and future and get to wear tights and lipstick.  I adore spending time with Ollie and Max but I find the chaos of having to run our house overwhelming at times and without the network of family support that we might have if we were closer to my parents, it's bloody hard work.  Being here, in the calm, ordered space that is my desk, being able to get things done, and make decisions that actually come to fruition is refreshing.  And then being with my children and flying by the seat of my pants, dealing with things as they happen and learning as I do it that I can make calm out of chaos is awesome too.  As is the ability of my children to teach me what I don't already know about myself. 

It's all about balance you know.  And husbands that love and support you.

June 13, 2011

m e l t d o w n

On Saturday evening, Will and I took the boys to a friend's 40th birthday party.  It was the first time we have attempted to break from the established dinner-bath-bed routine that we have done pretty much every day since Ollie was born.  Rather than putting them into their pyjamas after a bath at their ma-ji's house, we put on their best clothes (well, clean clothes) and off we went for a drive at night time to Uncle Tim's 'party-birthday'.  It was good fun, actually.  Hard for us to really enjoy ourselves what with having to keep an eye on each kid (seemingly not at all scared by the prospect of running far, far away from their parents) but they had a good time and Ollie was very charming, shaking hands and high-fiving anyone that offered.  He gave Tim (who's 'very old') a gift and ran around the place, sticking his nose into the Eskys and having quite the social time.  Max was an equal hit, that bashful look he has, the fluttering of those impossibly long eyelashes and that giggle that is so infectious.

And so we stayed for only a little while, bundling the boys into the car after a quick change into more comfy clothes as we made the hour long journey back to Brisbane, where we delicately lifted our sleeping babies from their car seats and tucked them safely into their own comfy beds before enjoying a glass of red wine.  

I have to say the evening was a hit.  I think this kind of socialising is good for them in small doses, and  there was even a funny moment at the end of the evening when they clearly wanted to leave and for a moment, Will and I were our own parents, prolonging goodbyes and starting anecdotes and sharing tales with people we were trying to say goodbye to while the kids wandered around shoulders slumped waiting for mum and dad to get their act together.  It was a relief for us to have done this kind of thing, having turned into social recluses the day Ollie was born (to this day we have yet to leave them with a babysitter for an evening), but the kids were tired.

Yesterday, being the day after the party, Ollie refused to sleep.  We had friends over in the morning that stayed a little longer than we had anticipated - no big deal except Ollie needed to sleep and just wouldn't.  By late afternoon, he was exhausted, on the very edge and definitely not in the mood for dinner.  So, it was bed time at 6.15pm and within moments he was asleep, until this morning, when at 7.30am he woke in the grumpiest of moods and has been like that all day, despite a trip on the train into town, seeing a cop car flash their lights (just for him), watching the boats on the river and playing with his beloved sticker book.  On the way home from a morning in town we had what can only be described as meltdown as we found his breaking point and the kid screamed all the way home.  All the way.  Screamed.  Meltdown.  

He is asleep now.  Both of them are, thank goodness and I'm reminded that as a baby, he was always very hard work when he was lacking sleep.  Together with his dogged determination to do everything himself (and I mean everything) which seems to have increased exponentially in recent times, we are all feeling a little frazzled.  I am hoping he wakes a little happier than he was this morning and we can enjoy a bit of this winter sun without too much fuss.  He did so well at Tim's party-birthday, but lordy, if I've learned anything this long weekend, it's that the kid still needs his sleep.

June 10, 2011

just me and ollie

I love, love, love to watch Ollie and Max paint.  It's maximum cuteness watching Max copy his big brother and hearing Ollie ask for the green paint first - every time.  That said, I can't wait until Max is less inclined to paint the inside of his mouth.  I know he's just exploring and I'm not expecting him to even paint on paper (although he gives it a good shot), but I draw the line at eating paint.  At the moment, whenever I get the paints out (or the playdough, crayons, chalk, pens etc) I have to watch Max constantly at the expense of interaction with Ollie.

So, when Max was asleep this afternoon and Ollie said 'want to do some painting', we did just that.  We made colours (orange and pink), did splodging (I had to say 'splodge' every time he splodged), we did finger painting (with blue and green, of course), and then we had the most fun of all, playing with a basin of warm, soapy water.

It was really enjoyable one-on-one interaction with Ollie that is rare these days.  It's great to do stuff with both boys and they are good kids that truly love each other's company, but when it's just me and Ollie (or me and Max), it's a different kind of communication.  There's no jealousy, arguing, throwing around of toys, or even noise. It's mostly quiet, interactive, gentle play and that thankfully reminds me that perhaps I do have the patience for this whole parenting thing... I just need to realise it more often.

June 7, 2011

leeks and ham jam

Me:  Ollie, what would you like on your toast?
Ollie:  Ham
Me:  How about jam?
Ollie:  I'd like ham
Me:  We don't have ham
Ollie:  How about ham jam?

It's been a while since we cooked anything new, despite this being a resolution way back when.  Yet again, we've fallen into the trap of roast chicken on a Sunday night, pizzas on a Friday and the usual bore in between, although last Sunday we did enjoy a slow lamb roast.  And although it's not technically a dinner, Will and I did jazz up the week with a dinner of gin and tonics, roquefort and baguette and a rather nice bottle of red wine.

But this week, we managed to make this beautiful, sumptuous recipe of slow braised leeks (using home made chicken stock) and pasta, courtesy of that guy Jamie Oliver.  It took a bit longer than I would normally have the patience for after a day at work but it was easy and actually now that I think about it, not really that time consuming (while the leeks are braising you can put the washing out, clean up kids' lunch bags and load the dishwasher).  Pasta isn't usually that great leftover, but this dish was a deluxe treat for lunch the next day.  So go on, try it, and see how easy it is to knock back a bowl or two after a long day doubting yourself and your abilities.

June 4, 2011

secret plans and clever tricks

Thanks to his current obsession with The Enormous Crocodile, Ollie keeps telling me, he has 'secret plans and clever tricks'.  I'm sure he does.  In the mean time, Max's quilt is coming together, slowly.  After such a long time deliberating over colours, I rather like how it's looking.  Will particularly likes the colours, and if you knew him, you would know that that is high praise indeed.
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