Wednesday, December 31, 2008

sprites in the garden

It's amazing how beautiful weeds can look when they have children playing in them. We have this wild weedy patch in the backyard where an old half dead mango tree used to be. There was no lawn underneath, just lots of horrible ground cover. The mango tree has been cut down and most of the undergrowth removed but now that the sun is on it, there is a jungle of weeds that we haven't got around to clearing yet. So..a bit of an eyesore. But the other day, my two girls and a neighbour were playing in it so I grabbed the camera. Suddenly, our weedy patch was transformed into a little fairy kingdom.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

On a slightly more upbeat note

In case any of my lovely friends are worrying about me, I thought I'd quickly add that after penning the last somewhat downbeat post, I went outside with the girls and played with the dog, watered the garden with Seasol (another job sort of done for the month), enjoyed the dusk and the cool breeze and had a chat to my neighbour across our quiet cul-de-sac street about having a relaxed Christmas get together on the footpath with the other families. My handsome husband (I love it when he can't be bothered to shave and looks rugged) came home to find three happy girls and a happy dog in the yard and put the fairy lights on the front of the house out of reach of the puppy's teeth.

So...that has all lifted my spirits. Sorry for whingeing.

The photo is of the girls at school last week. G decided to dress herself in gumboots, hand me down dress, hat and, most importantly, backpack and go to school. Her big sister was mortified when I got out the camera and asked for a photo in the school grounds. Sorry E!

treading water

Once again, I find myself struggling to keep my head above the murky waters of depression. I seem to have run out of motherly patience and energy to keep it all together so I am just plodding along, putting one foot ahead of the other (and ignoring my children while they eat biscuits after dinner and watch tv so I can have five minutes to vent on this blog). I should also be bringing in the washing, giving the neglected dog some attention, washing the dishes and bathing E. before my husband arrives home in 45 minutes. Not that he cares about domestic order. He says he would rather have a sane wife than a tidy house which is very kind of him. (And perceptive). concentrate on the are some photos of the biscuits we baked today. It should have been fun, I know, but I found the mess and the fights over whose turn it was to stir the mixture excruciating. (Oops....forgot to be positive again). However, the biscuits turned out ok and were cooling as the postman rode up on his motorbike with the mail, so the girls took him out a duck biscuit on a plate. He gobbled it up so he must have been ready for morning tea. E. saw some biscuits being made on Playschool that were cut out of biscuit dough using a big template of an animal, so we drew a horse on some baking paper and ....voila! One horse! He was even better when decorated with the new "writing icing" stuff I bought for E's last birthday.
PS There is a large rat (or perhaps some cute sort of native marsupial) living in our compost bin. It keeps scaring the bejesus out of me. I know all the things not to put in the compost to avoid rats and am following all the rules. Any suggestions on how to get rid of it without putting out rat baits?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The new fence is here. A whole new chapter of my life is about to begin! Yes....the puppy can now spend most of his time outside in the yard doing all the stuff that puppies like to do, instead of shut up in the laundry when one of us can't supervise him outside. He had just become a bit more adventurous and started to gambol off chasing birds and running on the road so the fence has been built just in time. It will also be safer for the girls to play outside although I have realised belatedly that the fence may be dog proof but it's not toddler proof. I guess my children still have to supervised the whole time. Sigh! When does this phase come to an end? G has started climbing on the TV stand as well. Very scary. Perhaps my husband might get a new TV sooner rather than later as the one we have is pretty old and quite heavy.

E. took some great photos of Kipper yesterday. I think she is a better photographer than me. I can't get Kip to stay still long enough for a good photo. He is so much bigger now and is getting longer legs and some feathering of his coat. He still has his gentle nature and puts up with some amazing wrestle holds from G. when she is trying to "give him a cuddle". I'm surprised he hasn't nipped her yet and hope that never happens. I spend most of my day saying (or perhaps yelling) "Gentle! Gentle!".'s all more love for the mix.

In the backyard

We seem to spend more time in the backyard lately which was the goal of creating some new garden beds and getting a puppy. It's so great to get the girls outside in the fresh air and away from the television. G. has started trying to ride on E's scooter now that E is busy with her new bike. She doesn't quite have the hang of it yet, but she is having fun practising.

We have harvested our first eggplants which seems like a miracle. I guess it is! We planted these little seedlings a few months ago and then the plants grew like topsy. Next came large white flowers, followed by purple eggs with thorny little hats on. S. grilled the first one (see picture) and put it on his gluten free pizza that he makes every week for work lunches. We have also picked lots of our silverbeet which I have been having in my weekend omelettes with feta cheese and semi-sundried tomatoes. Very tasty and such an amazing feeling to cook something you have grown. I had only ever grown herbs before.

We've been having some humdinger storms lately. Here's one brewing over our back neighbour's house the other weekend. We were working in the yard and had to quickly take cover when it broke. It only lasted about 10 minutes and then it was all sunny again so we went back out and kept on working.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

dress ups

On the last day of November we decided it was time to put the Christmas Tree up. However, when the Daddy was rummaging in the top of our cupboards, he called out "Look what I've found". It was the box with my wedding dress, organza wrap and veil. (I didn't wear the wrap and the veil at the same time....just wanted to make that clear!).
So the girls decided they would like to try the wedding gear on. It brought back lovely memories for me of trying on my mother's wedding dress and veil. I am a bit of a sucker for creating these little family traditions. At first, little G. was E.'s admiring bridesmaid but before long, she had the wrap around her own chubby shoulders. I'm so glad I grabbed the camera. So....probably in danger of turning my blog (which was originally to be more about my garden than my children) into an indulgent, nauseating collection of cute photos of my daughters. Sorry about that.

PS One of the photos is blurry because the flash didn't go off, but I sort of like it. Closest thing I'm going to get to creating an arty farty effect in my photography
PS G. doesn't have a dirty face. She has a bruise from falling out of our bed one night.

Friday, November 28, 2008

It's all good

Just a quick post to say that G's kidney scan is all OK and she doesn't need any more tests or antibotics. What a relief! Life sure is good when you get good news from a medical specialist.
Now there's just Emma's first filling to get through on Monday and I can relax and start thinking about Christmas.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Adventures in Hospital Land

G. (two and a bit) and I spent yesterday at the Royal Children's Hospital and Nuclear Medicine Department so that she could have a renal scan. I was kind of dreading it as it involved putting in an intravenous cannula and then having a small dose of radioactive stuff injected before waiting three hours to have a 45 minute scan. So....after a mad rush to get the puppy organised before being locked in the laundry, the children and myself breakfasted, dressed, toothbrushed, and sunscreened and out the door to take E. to school on time, G. and I headed for the hospital.

We fronted up at the children's casualty area as directed to get the cannula in which involved putting on the helpful cream first and then filling in an hour while it worked. I was loathe to let her play in the little indoor playground in casualty as a few years ago, we tried that with E. and we were back at the hospital two days later for 5 nights with Rotavirus (very nasty gastro bug). But of course, G spotted the playground straight away and was desperate to go in so I gritted my teeth and checked that I had a pack of nappy wipes handy. Eventually, a gorgeous Irish registered nurse and a very young, pretty, doctor put in the cannula with a minimum of trauma (well...enough to make G. pretty upset but not too bad in the scheme of things). Then we waited for a volunteer to escort us to the other side of the hospital to do the next stage. G. was exhausted from a restless night with a temp and runny nose so of course wanted to doze on my lap. When it was time to set off, I grabbed my bag of food supplies, spare clothes, etc, hoisted G. on my hip and pushed the stroller with one hand down endless corridors with the elderly volunteer. Eventually I asked if she thought she could manage the stroller which she kindly did. Then, when we were almost at our destination, I realised with a sinking feeling that I had left my little black backpack on the chair beside me back in kids' casualty. When we arrrived in the Nuclear Medicine Department, they rang to try and locate my bag and were put on hold for 20 minutes. So....sitting there with a miserable toddler and waiting for a radioactive injection in my darling's hand, I imagined the phonecall to my husband at work.... "It's me...(stifled sob)....can you come and get us? I've lost my bag with my keys, mobile and $200 cash). I told myself, it doesn't matter as long as G. is ok but I sure was relieved when after an hour or so, someone rang to say they had found it. Of course, by then it was too late to come home for the three hour wait between injection and scan but that didn't really matter.

There was another mother with a very sick little boy (and his big brother) in the waiting room. I looked at his bald little head, the nasogastric tube in his nose and his skinny little arms and my heart went out to them. I only had one day at hospital with my little girl and all over the world there are families spending week after week enduring all sorts of misery. all helped get my whingeing over puppy mess and sleep deprivation into perspective.

The main purpose of this post is to say how grateful I am for the kindness of the hospital staff. This is one time that I WILL actually buy a thank you card and send it. Because G. was unwell and dozy and I was stressed by the lost bag experience, a nurse who became my new best friend found an unused room for us with a big comfy reclining chair and brought us a jug of water, sandwiches and a blanket before turning out the lights and closing the door. Of course, G. promptly woke up before I could close my eyes so we filled in the next two hours reading Bambi ("Oh...that's a bit sad" she said) and Snow White and going for a big walk downstairs to buy "chippies". Eventually, my beloved little black backpack was delivered in a sealed brown paper bag (complete with $200 cash inside!).

Finally, we went in for the scan which involved strapping G. to a moving bed while a machine moved slowly in all directions around her. "Just like a ride at Chermie" I said encouragingly. My little girl lay perfectly still, holding my hand and watching a Hi 5 dvd for 45 minutes. I was a really proud mummy. Now...fingers crossed that the results are ok. I'll let you know.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Stuck for words

Just can't find any inspiration for blogging at the moment. Too much going on with storms as well as the normal juggling of day to day stuff - you, dog, housework, part time job, other people's children's birthday parties, trying to find and return those pesky library books, banking cheques, shopping for Christmas presents etc etc. And I have a husband who does a huge amount of domestic/parenting stuff.No wonder our mothers didn't expect to work after having children. Running a household takes such enormous time and energy. My mother met my Dad working in a bank and obediently resigned upon marriage. I guess it was hard to argue with a bank in 1960.

The nice thing about blogging and peeking into other people's lives and thoughts is that for every mother who is seemingly baking biscuits while whipping up a patchwork quilt and doing craft activities with her well behaved and designer clad children, there is another one who is muddling along, just doing her best and perhaps managing to squeeze in the odd moment of cooking or sewing or scrapbooking between cleaning up mess and breastfeeding bubbas to sleep. So hello to all the lovely mothers who confess their struggles in their blogs. It makes me feel a whole lot better.

Someone called Tammie made me laugh yesterday. She posted a photo of some gorgeous looking biscuits she had baked that were sitting on a pretty plate before confessing that the plate was only for the photo and that nobody in her house ever uses a plate to eat a "cookie". They just get stuffed into people's mouths while doing other things like vacuuming. ( I think that was the most ungrammatical sentence I have ever written, but hey, this is a blog, not an honours thesis).

Good things from today - catching up with some friends at a relaxed kids' party at the local pool (well, the pool near where my husband grew up); eavesdropping on my daughter and two neighbourhood friends playing "mothers" on our patio and hearing things like "I'm just going to get some petrol. Can you mind my baby?"; getting a phonecall from my big brother; having my gorgeous 13 year old niece sleepover last night and watching her patiently allow my girls to sit and lie all over her for hours on end; coming home to find that my brother-in-law has nailed a plank of wood under the back gate to keep the puppy from escaping. I'm a lucky woman, that's for sure.

So anyway....hello to any of my buddies who are reading this. Here's a couple of photos of my girls at Shorncliffe a few months ago to liven up this uninspired post.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Amazing images by Carleen

Here are the magical images I scored of my two daughters after the talented Carleen offered to "play around with them" for me. I especially love the one of G as she is a big toddler now and not that little baby any more. The photos were taken at Melbourne Zoo when we all went down for the Australian Breastfeeding Association conference in August 2007. mate Le has another giveaway competition on her blog. This time you could win some of Carleen's arty photos for yourself. So click here if you want to check it out at Le's very entertaining blog, Third on the Right.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Dog day afternoon

Despite my best efforts to stay calm and positive in the face of constant mess at the moment, it all became too much two days ago when the puppy started pooing OFF the newspaper in the laundry where he lives (until we get the bloody fence built!). The first time it happened and he walked around with little pooey footprints, I thought "Oh well....a little accident. How revolting but never mind". I dutifully cleaned up with the mop and bucket. Then, after school, I found one small head louse on my daughter's head so did the requisite combing with conditioner and fine toothed comb. This involved much protesting and bribing with leftover smarties from her sixth birthday party on Saturday. (We had two birthdays and two parties this week as E. was born two days after her Daddy's birthday. I think this contributed to my current state of lack of coping ability). Just when the hair combing was over, I discovered a fresh deposit with footprints on the laundry floor. I lost it and thinking "I have had a gutful of children and puppies", I started cleaning up again while dissolving into pathetic tears. I'm not sure it's good for my daughters to watch their mother stamping about with a bucket and mop while sobbing and saying unkind things to a small dog, but I was at least comforted by their supportive attitude. G. (only two years old, god bless her) brought handfuls of tissues to the childproof/puppyproof gate in the laundry doorway and said "Here Mummy". Afterwards, E. cuddled me on the couch and said soothingly (and a little accusingly, I might add) "He's only a baby, Mum. He doesn't know".

Not such a disastrous day compared to those who are dealing with war, famine or life threatening illnesses, but we ex-nurses have our standards and they don't involve head lice or dog poo on the laundry floor!

Here's a photo of my big girl with her puppy on her birthday, and the cakes she proudly decorated to take to school....and the treasure hunt for chocolate coins in the garden at her party.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

gorgey pendants

Check out the gorgeous pendants at this shop - one of which my mate, Le, is giving away at her blog..... I can't remember the last time I saw something I loved this much. I'm not really into jewelry but I do love beautiful things and these are such beautiful, quirky designs. To visit Le's blog at Third on the Right, click here.

Phew...I'm exhausted after all that tricky blogging cutting and pasting. Fingers crossed that it works.

Bye for now. (Hello big brother!)

love H

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Here's to friendship!

A big thank you to my buddy, Le, who has given me my first award in blogland. Not sure what to do next, but Le is going to guide me through it!

First....the goes...

1. Do you have the same friends since childhood?
I have an assortment. I have had my oldest friend, Kathy, since she could sit up and I couldn't. My other oldest friend is from grade 7. She moved into the next street and we were soon inseparable.

Now she lives in Sweden with her husband and two little girls. Hi Annie!

2. What do you value most about your friends?
Their patience when I moan about how hard my life is, when really I have a wonderful life.

3. Are your friends sounding boards?


4. What is your favorite activity to share with friends?
Eating chocolate (particularly if watching a good movie in a gold class cinema) I get to award my friendship blog to some other souls. As beginner blogger, I have made only a few cyberspace friends but that means I appreciate their visits all the more! Here's to you, girls!

Dee from Down Under - a very thoughtful "poster" and a welcome visitor
CGDK a friend of a friend who is generous with her help on all sorts of creative stuff

wee hour stitches my first blogging friend from halfway around the world!

Have fun passing this award along to your favourites. See you in blogland!

Friday, October 31, 2008

moments of beauty

It's been a bit of a challenging week - too many doctor's visits for various unpleasant things, getting used to a puppy in the house, several birthdays to organise , daycare arrangements falling through due to ill carers - blah blah blah. But there have been some lovely moments and I am trying to relax and enjoy them.

The new puppy has been mostly a joy and amazingly gentle and well behaved for a baby of just 10 weeks who must be missing his mum and his brothers and sisters. He is managing without the ticking clock at night but still finds comfort in a hot water bottle. Taking him outside regularly (he mostly lives in the laundry) is a bit of a challenge with no front fence and a toddler in the house who shrieks "Take me too. Pick me up. Prickles!". Several times, upon having to hurry home from school drop off in case of accidents in the laundry, my heart has sunk and I have thought "Oh...what have I done?". But my little girl melts my heart when she puts her face down near Kipper's and says in her gentle voice "Hello sweetheart". And when I asked my big girl if she would be in charge of Kipper's water bowl, she added "And I can be in charge of love".

In the midst of all the crazy cleaning up and buying pet mince and organising of the household, I stopped for a few minutes yesterday and sat outside watching little Kipper gamble (gambol?) about on the grass like a lamb. I suddenly realised, I can get stressed about the extra work of having a puppy, but then I can let that stress melt away while I sit on the step and do nothing in the sunshine.

Other moments of joy this week........walking to work from the station this morning in the crush of commuters, I saw the back of a little girl, holding hands with her Daddy. She was wearing fairy wings and a tiara and holding a sparkly wand. It was such a beautiful sight. And the flowering jacaranda trees are just so breathtakingly gorgeous. They make the city look enchanted. Purple flowers fell on our heads like lavender snow yesterday when we were walking to school.

The clincher came tonight as I was walking home from the railway station. I looked up and saw a gorgeous golden crescent moon in the sky like a boat, hovering below the evening star. I watched it all the way home and it gave my soul a little boost.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Kipper comes to live with us

The puppy came to live with us today. Mr Darcy that was has been rechristened Kipper by E. I think the dogs at the dog park will laugh a little less at that than at "Twinkletoes". So far, he has been exceedingly well behaved, apart from a few nibbles at my feet and E's shoes. He is heartmeltingly cute....such an endearing little face and very very soft ears like little brown silk purses. Yes...we are all smitten...although G. likes to keep her distance and occasionally says "A bit scary a me".
Kipper has been installed in his quarters (the laundry) and taken outside regularly where he has dutifully done his business. He put himself to bed about 7.15pm in his new cardboard box bed that has his blanket from "home" in it. I hope the smells of his six siblings are comforting him a little. At 7.45pm, the five year old had crashed (she was up at 5am with excitement) and we thought "Great. This is easy. Only the two year old to go". About 8pm, Kipper had woken up, done a wee on the newspaper and was whimpering for company. Every time I leave the room, he cries. So...I've done the age old trick - a warm hot water bottle wrapped in a t shirt and a clock wrapped in another one.
He has left his cardboard box, preferring to sleep on the old kiddy sofa that we put in the laundry so E. could cuddle him in comfort. I've moved the hot water bottle to the little sofa next to him and now all is quiet.

So...I'm going to clean my teeth and hit the hay. It could be a very long night.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The pangs and joys of a working mother

I went to work today for the first time in two weeks due to G's drawn out bout of tonsilitis. Poor wee thing cried when I left her with her wonderful family day care person. It sure tugs at my heartstrings to leave her when she wants to be with me. But....I know she will be ok in a minute or two and when I rang to check she was happily cutting out stickers.

On route to work, I read "Brideshead Revisited" for 25 minutes on the train. escape to another world for a little while - especially 1920s Oxford. I was a nanny for a short time in the 1980s in Oxford so could picture most of the action in my head of which streets they were wandering down etc. Mind you, being a nanny was a slightly different experience from "reading English" at Oxford. I used to sit next to well spoken English girls on the bus coming back from London and try not to turn green with envy. It all helped to motivate me to head off to University myself when I got home.

After my sojourn with Charles and Sebastian on the 8.20am train, I spent the next eight hours happily researching old buildings at work. Although I have been doing this for some 13 years, it is still a thrill for me to sit down with only an address and a printout of a map and start the detective work. One of my favourite bits is looking at the old postal records and finding out who lived where and what they did for a living. Occupations have changed so much. (Not too many blacksmiths working the city these days)

I also had 30 whole minutes to eat my lunch in peace and time to wander down to the shops to buy fruit toast or a choccy bar or a Nudie drink (or all three) if I felt peckish. Plus I chatted about work, life, travel and puppies with grown ups and didn't have to do any cleaning, tidying or clothes folding. Or bottom wiping. was a nice day. Then.... I came home on the train with my book and my (slightly frazzled) husband picked me up at the station with two little girls in the back seat who were pleased to see their mummy. And, best of all, Mummy had extra reserves of love and patience and their little faces seemed extra beautiful and their funny expressions seemed extra hilarious. And tomorrow, I get to do it for the second time this week and then enjoy a big weekend of puppy collecting. I'd better get to bed!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

News flash - we bought a puppy yesterday!

Firstly, thanks to the lovely people who sent "get well" wishes for my family. Husband and little G. are on the mend. And we get our car back with a new door on Tuesday which will be nice.

We had a very exciting morning yesterday - drove to Caboolture (a small country town just north of us) and chose a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel puppy. He is one of a litter of eight and they were all absolutely gorgeous. Ours is officially called "Mr Darcy" but our big girl has her heart set on calling him "Twinkle Toes"! I think the other dogs at the park may laugh when we call him that! Mr Darcy actually chose us which was gorgeous. He seemed to fall in love with E. straight away while the other puppies just wandered off to play. Of course, we all fell in love with him, too.

The fun begins next Saturday. Part of me is dreading the extra work, mess, responsibility etc but hopefully this will be outweighed by the fun stuff. I guess I may as well have two toddlers and get it over with!
Here are some photos. I'll try not to put the whole 58 on! (Or however many I took!)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Choosing to blog about happy stuff

As someone who tends to fall into the trap of dwelling on the negative, I have decided not to blog about the revolting day I had on Wednesday (involving another mother in a 4WD ploughing into my open car door at school dropoff, a husband in bed with flu and a toddler with worsening tonsilitis). I choose, instead, to concentrate on the pleasant time I had pottering in the garden with my little girl earlier in the week. is a brief garden update....

The veges in the first no dig garden are going great guns. The tomatoes are shooting upwards and the silverbeet and eggplants seem to be doubling in size every time I look at them. The coriander has gone to seed (as it always does) but I don't mind because it looks pretty, and hopefully, some baby coriander plants will pop up eventually if the seeds are happy where they fall.

The second little no dig garden is progressing in stages as I never find the time to put all the layers of ingredients on in the one day. So I do a layer of sugar cane mulch one day, scatter on some manure or blood and bone the next, water it in and then next time I find a spare ten minutes, I add the next layer of lucerne mulch. I'm also putting on some compost from our compost heap (very exciting to have one's own compost).

The compost used to be a messy pile near the back fence but is now cooking tidily in two beautiful black plastic compost bins that I bought last week at our gorgeous local garden centre. It's the perfect place to visit with small children. (The garden centre, not the compost heap). It has all the benefits of that ubiquitous fast food place - an undercover playground, cafe, clean toilets with a change table - but is so so much nicer and has added benefits like ducks, a cat or two, lots of huge water dragons and, of course, miles of beautiful plants and garden things to look at. Plus free advice about no dig gardens and compost bins.

I'm tempted to put flowers in the new no dig garden as I have a lavender and two gerbras in pots waiting for a good home, but I think I'll plant some more veges and herbs so we can eat more of what we grow. I have two friends who have made beautiful herb spiral gardens which have included lavender and nasturtiums so perhaps I could do that.

My little garden gnome with tonsilitis has woken up and is sad and feverish, so, to paraphrase the Two Ronnies, it's good bye from me and good bye from Hester's Garden.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Life, death and Paul Kelly lyrics

I have had brief discussions about death with E. before - usually when driving past the huge old cemetery near her cousins' house. But we reached a new depth of detail last week while driving in the car. As usual, we were listening to a Paul Kelly CD (signed by the man himself whose nephew went to our kindy!) which is the favourite car music for both girls.

E. particularly likes a song which we call "My baby lay dying" which I have always worried was slightly inappropriate but never mind - it has a lovely melody! Anyway....this day, E. asked "Mummy, why does he say 'she lives with the worms'?". Deep breath..."Mmmmm well....when you die, the real you goes to heaven and you don't need your body anymore so sometimes it gets buried in a garden and you can grow flowers on top". (I've always liked the idea of pushing up daisies when I die). I continued "And there are worms in the ground, so that's why Paul Kelly sings "She lives with the worms". The questions continued. "But why don't you need your body, Mummy?".

Luckily, for metaphor's sake, E.'s pet snail, Icky, had died a few days earlier. "Well... you know how when Icky died, his body disappeared and we just found his shell? Well, it's a bit like that". (I'm not terribly religious - more of a Mother Nature worshipper who keeps an open mind - but I can't help but revert to comforting religious images when talking to my children about death). E. continues "But...what's the real me, Mummy?" "Oh, all the bits about you that are special....your soul". "And my heart?". "Yep...that too". "But can't you come back to life?". "No one really knows, darling".

E.'s final thought on the matter was "I wish Icky could walk around on the clouds in heaven and fall back to earth again". Low and behold, a day or so later, there was great excitement when E. found a new snail in the garden. At first she thought it was Icky grown much bigger, but now she seems to think it is a new snail who needs a new name. Said snail is now living in a house made of princess lego and likes to escape regularly and perch on top of the turret. All is well in E.'s world and Paul Kelly is still singing...."My baby lay dying"...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Old fashioned childhoods

As a somewhat perfectionist personality (this doesn't mean my house is tidy - just that I agonise over its untidyness!) I constantly obsess over if I am getting mothering right. Thankfully, I know lots of other mothers are doing the same. I've just read Blue's lovely prose/poem (Sept 18) about parenting and it's good to know we are all in the same boat - just doing the best we can. (I'll try and put in the link but I'm still practising). (
So when we have a day without rushing, watching too much tv, eating junk food or playing on the computer I feel like a better mother. My memories of my childhood are so happy (apart from going to new schools, but that's another story). At six, I had the run of the tiny outback town where we lived. We also spent a lot of time on sheep stations, playing in shearing sheds and helping the jackeroos muster on horseback. My parents took us on many many picnics when we would make a fire in a dry creek bed and boil the billy for tea. When I was just a little older, we moved to a slightly bigger town which I was free to explore on my bike as long as I was home before dark. I'm not sure if Mum knew my friends and I were sometimes walking along the railway tracks out of town! Anyway...back to the present moment.
Last week during the school holidays, I swopped children with friends who also work part-time so that our 5 year olds could play with a friend for the day while Mum went to work. It's a great system. So, with my two girls and a young friend, we headed to a seaside town to play on the beach (in brown mud, but that's ok), climb some trees and explore the big playground. We had a great time getting muddy feet, sandy legs and dirty clothes. I tried to take some photographs to capture the children's joy at running free but soon realised that three children running in all directions needed my undivided attention. they are. Three happy children (and one happy mother behind the camera) at the beach.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Official time off for a mum!

Today I am having some official time off! After a few months of being a tired, ill and complaining wife and mother, I took matters in to my own hands and (with my husband's support) booked my darling toddler girl into a few hours of daycare on a Monday to give me some breathing space. Weekends seem to be a whirl of chores and social appointments rather than a time to rest and regroup, although S. and I are coming to realise that the more breaks we can give each other, the happier our family will be. I write, G. is with her wonderful home-based day carer, who also takes care of her and three other little ones on the two days I go to work. Luckily, there were no tears when I dropped her off (unlike when Daddy does it!) and, after 20 minutes of hanging about, I left her happily playing with fluoro coloured lego blocks on a mat outside in the shade. I now have a precious few hours to myself. What to do????? The choices are overwhelming. I did have visions of going to the movies to see The Duchess with Keira Knightly, but that seems a little selfish when the house is an absolute tip and there is a month's worth of paperwork to do. So....I am happily pottering at home, putting on loads of washing, tidying the kitchen, writing cheques, getting quotes for a front fence so we can buy a puppy for our long suffering 5 year old, etc. Of course, I couldn't resist a little blogging fix. I was thrilled to find I had a visitor from Mexico to my blog. Thanks for dropping in! Always good to meet another L.M. Montgomery fan.

Time to go and hang out the washing. Then I might skedaddle to the shops to exchange a birthday present from the gorgeous Peter Alexander pyjama shop. What bliss to look at pretty clothes for me without children demanding sushi and balloons.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Just saying hello

No profound thoughts to share today. Just wanted to say hello to anyone who is out there. I've read that blogging is addictive and it truly is. Not just the chance to express your own thoughts and in the process, clarify them, but the pleasure of dipping into other people's lives and reading about their experiences and having the chance to connect with them. I could wander about the blogosphere for hours (if there weren't clothes to fold, kitchen benches to wipe, small, warm bodies that need bathing and cuddling, cheques to get the picture).

When I set up this blog for fun on my birthday, I sort of forgot to save it in my favourites, so I googled "Hester's garden" to find it. (It didn't work!). By a strange and lovely coincidence, one of the Google results was a quote from the Anne of Green Gables series of books by L. M. Montgomery. By another coincidence, that weekend was the 100th anniversary of the first edition of the original book and there was an article about Prince Edward Island in the travel section of the weekend paper. Those books are old favourites and dear friends of mine. I often turn to them to reread favourite bits and, in my youth, when I had more time and pocketmoney, I used to trawl through second hand book shops and buy lovely old editions. I was fascinated by the way images of Anne changed as new editions were published over the decades. I have my own set of hardbacks from my 1970s childhood, a beautiful 1912 first edition of Chronicles of Avonlea with a watercolour plate of an Edwardian looking Anne, and some 1950s ones with Anne looking like something from an advertisement for household appliances. I also have a 1920s edition of Anne's House of Dreams where she looks like a flapper.

Anyway..... I think it was in Anne of Avonlea that Anne and Diana discover an old overgrown garden that once belonged to a girl named Hester Gray. I had forgotten all about Hester Gray's garden but maybe it was a subconscious influence on my choice of name for my new blog. I've just found the quotation so here it is for anyone who likes that sort of thing .....

Just before them, hemmed in by beeches and firs but open to the south, was a little corner and in it a garden...or what had once been a garden. A tumble-down stone dyke, overgrown with mosses and grass, surrounded it. Along the eastern side ran a row of garden cherry trees, white as a snowdrift. There were traces of old paths still and a double line of rose-bushes throught the middle.....Oh, how perfectly lovely!" three of the girls cried.

I feel inspired to go outside and weed my garden!

Monday, September 29, 2008

The farmstay weekend

Thought I'd write a few words about our recent visit to a farmstay for a weekend. Just an excuse to put some of my favourite photos on my new blog, really. I had been promising E. a stay on a farm for months and thought September would be a good time - hopefully a few baby animals to cuddle. We were not disappointed as there were calves, two enchanting black lambs (avid breastfeeders just like G.), and a youngish chicken who became the love of E.'s life while we were there. She even got to name her - Gingernut.

Of course, there were big animals too, including an ex-racehorse, Tess, who galloped past our cabin in a huge panic not long after we arrived. Luckily, E. managed to duck back inside our gate to safety after initially panicking herself (taking a cue from her mother who could see carnage happening) and darting towards the horse who was flinging her legs and mane in all directions. Thankfully, the goats, sheep, ducks, border collie and geese had calmer temperaments.

It was a beautiful place - with views down the mountain to our home town in the distance. The air was decidedly crisp (enough to give G. a mild case of croup at night) but Spring was in the air. We had a cosy cabin and a pot-bellied stove and enough Rocky Road to sink a ship courtesy of Fathers' Day presents from schoo
l and family day-care. Having spent several years roaming on friends' farms in my childhood, I was so glad to give a taste of it to my girls. Thankfully they didn't roam off by themselves like we used to do and play in the forbidden grain silos! All in all, it was a really special weekend.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Birthday bliss

I wasn't actually looking forward to today's birthday - my 43rd. I feel much better about it after getting my eyelashes and eyebrows tinted and putting a colour in my hair to cover the greys (you know - just those seven that have been getting me down). I usually (as my mother loves to mention every year) manage to spin my birthday out to encompass as many outings and treats as possible - a family get-together, morning tea with my girlfriends, a solo shopping trip or a massage. But this year... I just couldn't get enthusiastic about it. However, the day dawned (early, as it does with a breastfeeding toddler and a five year old who hates to sleep in and miss anything) and it was a beautiful spring day. After a couple of hours of secret present wrapping and card making, I was presented with some lovely clothes and truly touching works of art and kind words in shaky writing. Then we watered the garden and I started to enjoy myself.

The highlight came when my family returned from shopping with a huge bunch of flowers (chosen by E aged 5) and two helium balloons (G aged 2 chose one with ducks which says "Baby girl"). E handed me a soft parcel wrapped in tissue paper and said with great excitement "Happy Birthday Mummy. It's a dress". My girl had taken her Daddy shopping to buy me a dress and chose one she thought I would like because "it is cream and that's your favourite colour, it has flowers and lots of other colours, it has frills on the sleeves and a sash AND a petticoat!". What could a mother say but "It's beautiful Darling. I love it!". So I wore it out for my date this afternoon with her father with the memory of her shining face still with me. The nice thing was.....the girl in the icecream shop who served me a gelato (two scoops - blood orange and papaya) said "I love your dress!".

Taking the plunge own blog.... a little present to myself on my birthday. Part of me thinks I don't need another thing to juggle in my busy life when I already have my arms full (and am trying not to drop anything), but another voice says it may be very therapeutic and a great way to chat to friends and make new like-minded ones. I am.... another gen x girl with a husband who loves me and a part-time career and, best of all, two beautiful little girls who are the most gorgeous things growing in my garden. Gardening is on my mind at the moment as I have just planted myself two new flower gardens and my first ever no-dig vege patch. It has been well worth the effort as the sight of my blue, pink and purple lobelias, pansies and petunias lift my spirits every day, my "cream, pink and green" garden of freesias, daisies and double impatiens soothes my often jangling nerves and the little vege patch has coaxed my girls out of doors to help with the watering, pick strawberries for eating and balance on the bricks around the gardens. It makes me very very happy to see my daughters frolicking in the sunshine (in their hats, of course), making fairy gardens and ponds to put their ceramic frogs in, and, in Greta's case, enjoying standing in a bucket full of water.

A big thank you to my dear friend at Third on the Right (who will have to show me how to make a proper link) whose lovely blog has inspired me to have a go.
Another thank you to my patient husband, who, despite his migraine, has taken both our girls shopping to buy me another birthday present and give me some of that precious "me" time that all mothers crave. (Well...I hope we all do and I'm not just selfish!)

Time to see if this is working..... fingers crossed.