September 30, 2010

no sleep for ollie

Today was a long day.  It started early, with Max waking just before 6am (now for the third morning in a row).  I was impatient, tired and short tempered.  The morning went along well enough but Ollie's refusal of an afternoon nap and my general lethargy slowly turned the day into chaos and this afternoon I shouted at Ollie when I should have talked to him gently. I feel so bad about it.  I went into the little guy's room after he fell asleep tonight to apologise.  

Sometimes, and more recently most of the time, I treat Ollie as though he's older than his almost two years. I don't really have a frame of reference but I think he's a smart little boy so it's frustrating that he doesn't respond to basic questions and is really difficult to reason with.  Just writing that makes me realise how ridiculous that sounds - reasoning with a toddler?  What am I thinking?  I forget he's just a little boy.  A baby.  He understands most of what we say to him but that doesn't mean he understands why he shouldn't jump on the bed next to Max, or why it's not funny to kick when he's on the change table, why he needs to have his nappy changed (although I think he's beginning to understand that the alternative is that he uses a toilet) or why his mama needs to spend time housekeeping, cooking, washing...

On balance, Ollie's day was a good one.  He's a strong willed soul and wants to be able to do everything his way and I can't blame him for that.  (And I see myself in his stubbornness.)  He's not so different from any other toddler, except that I'm his mum.  It's me that lacks patience, it's me that worries about getting too much done and it's me that forgets to have fun during the day.  And so, tomorrow we'll start again and hopefully do things better.  And have an afternoon nap. 

September 28, 2010

uniquely derivative

There's nothing original about this blog.  I don't claim to know anything about fashion, about what is new or interesting.  I don't write with any creative flair or about anything interesting to anyone but me and my photography is at best, acceptable.  But in a couple of months, it will be a year since I started this diary of all things and I have enjoyed the quiet time between me and keyboard immensely.  This type of blog is a fairly shameless egotistical self promotion (although I don't expect anyone reads it) but it's oddly cathartic too.  There have been times in the last twelve months when I've been lost in my worrisome thoughts, not sure about the direction to take next and confused over the countless tasks and lists I feel like I'm managing.  And then there's the blog.  A chance to write down what I'm thinking, order it somehow, write to the imaginary audience to provide some clarity and reasoning behind all the confusion I seem to feel and to pin point those moments that I want never to forget, and some others too.  It feels good to tap away at the keyboard, constructing and deconstructing sentences, thinking about what I really think, and then choosing what I want to say and remember (and other times, blurting the obvious), choosing images, taking inspiration from other bloggers but ultimately hoping that the things I choose to write about will be interesting to me.  There are also moments and feelings I haven't but perhaps should have captured, ones that I wish I had written about, times when I was feeling so joyous or irrationally lost... It might not be original, but like any new book, band, painting, recipe, this is my take and a record of the things I want to keep with me for always.

Long may it continue.

September 23, 2010


This week, Ollie's aunty and cousin came to visit.  We don't have much space in our house and I always wonder how we are going to squeeze everyone in but it always ends up being alright and it's a bit of a novelty getting the inflatable mattress out.   Ollie's cousin Emmanuelle (the girl of many nicknames, of which Emma seems to be the most popular) is six weeks younger than Ollie and was born in Paris.  She is kind hearted, sweet natured, she has a penchant for snacking and a very cute little vocabulary of French and English words.  Ollie, who is still of few words but really developing his language quickly, really enjoyed having her around and this morning seems to be a bit bored, plodding about the house wondering where all the fun has disappeared to.  He's not much of a mimicker but at lunch yesterday, Ollie listened as Manu reached for more bread and said 'encore!', thought for a minute, then looked at me and said 'a-core!'.  His first French word!  Hard to resist.

And in other, unrelated but still relevant news, Will and I start our tenth year together today.  Nine years ago, on 22 September 2001, and after more than a sensible amount of dithering, we managed to spend an evening together doing what we did best back then - hanging out in a London bar.  I am pretty sure that was the night I fell in love and nine years later we are married with two beautiful boys.  I never thought I could be so lucky.  Each year brings with it new challenges but each year seems to better the last. I have a feeling that this next one is going to be something special.

September 15, 2010

how are you?

It's hard to not feel so sorry for yourself when you have a snotty head cold and very little time to properly rest.  And I don't mean putting your feet up at the end of the day, I mean proper rest, lying in a bed/on a couch drinking nothing but hot, medicinal beverages and staying warm under a comfy blanket.  Yes, I feel sorry for myself and simple things feel like a trial - cooking a meal for Ollie which he'll reject anyway, getting both boys into bed with minimum fuss, collecting groceries... oh the bother!

But yesterday, I spoke to a dear friend that I have neglected over the last few months and found out that his mother is awaiting diagnosis of what is thought to be terminal cancer of the bone marrow.  It brought an entirely new perspective on the answer to the question 'how are you?'.  My friend is, as I expected, the bastion of his family, dealing with a situation that most adults will never have to encounter with dignity, integrity and heart.  He is a young, intelligent, happy and honest individual who deals with life's situations with humour and energy.  But this is a little different.  The most he gave away about the gravity of his situation was that it was tiring.  Tiring!  If I am complaining this much about a head cold, I cannot imagine how I would begin to cope with seeing a loved one deteriorate before me.

Our friends are the people we choose to share our lives with.  Our family are those we are given.  I am lucky that my friends and family are beautiful, diverse, intelligent, good, kind people that shape who I am.   I may not always agree with them but in one way or another, they teach me how to be better at what I do and remind me that when I have a cold, I should stop complaining and get on with life.

September 12, 2010

blue jay bathing

A (long) while ago I bought this beautiful hand painted canvas of Charley Harper's 1971 Blue Jay Bathing.  I love the colours and the mindless but meditative labour that will be involved in sewing tiny cross stitches into something we can hang on our walls.  Of course, I've had the canvas for months, but aside from the excusing myself from getting on with it due to lack of time, my main problem is that I just can't start a project without extensive research into the best way of going about it.  And that goes for anything.  Making a quilt for Ollie's first birthday took months, not because I couldn't find time, but because I would spend hours referencing and cross referencing as many sources of information as possible before making the first cut, sewing the first patch, even learning how to tie a quilters knot.

Anyway, I digress.  This project is no different.  I haven't embarked on a needlepoint project before, and in true personal style, I have chosen one that is intended for someone with more experience than I have.  I don't do things by halves, and together with my obsession for doing things right this means that it will most likely be months before this one is finished and adorning our walls.

First I couldn't work out which gauge of wool to use, and whether to use wool at all.  Who knew that genuine tapestries are stitched with wool?  And the gauge/type of wool depends on the weight of the canvas.  I didn't even know that the gauge of the mesh I have is 18:1, meaning there are 18 stitches per inch, which in turn means using a strand or two of crewel yarn.  I worked it out eventually, but not before I bought two yarns of differing thickness and sat deliberating over whether one looked too chubby and the other too sparse.  And then came the colour confusion.  The canvas I have is (to my mind) perfect and of course, I want to match the colours exactly.  You would think this would be easy when this brand of yarn I've found has over 400 colours to choose from.  (What this actually means is that it's approximately 400 times more difficult to choose the exact shade, depending on what time of day and under which conditions I'm looking at the canvas.  And by conditions, I mean light, not state of mind.) Finally, which stitch should I use?  The Purl Bee says to use the 'ultra simple basketweave' but I can't say it's that easy.  But I'm going to try.  It might mean even more time on the internet, referencing sources and watching youtube videos (what a great way to learn) but I have to get it right!

I'm pretty sure I know how good it will feel to work on this project and see it finished, so I'm glad it's finally happening.  And then maybe for the next project I'll be able to throw caution to the wind and just wing it.  (Maybe.)

September 10, 2010

normal behaviour

It's hard to believe the books and online resources that state so plainly that tantrums are a normal part of any toddler's behaviour.  Really?  The screaming, floor pounding, kicking, back arching, teary explosion is normal?

I never imagined I would the parent with that child, the one you'd see out with his parents, screaming for who knows what, seemingly with his parents wrapped around his little finger.  My first thought would be 'what a spoilt child' and then the second would be, 'why can't they do something about it?' but now it's different.  Now it's my child, who is actually a very sweet, kind boy and brother who likes to share, give and interact with others.  It's his turn to be that kid, the one that everyone stares at and then looks at you pityingly (or with disbelief) when he's flinging himself and his ear-splitting shriek around a shopping centre.  It's true chalk and cheese.  One moment he's happy, toddling around, making fun out of whatever he can find (anything except his actual toys), and the next he's behaving as though the world has come to an end.

What sets him off?  It's anybody's guess.  One day it might be having to put a shirt on.  The next day it might be because I can't read him the same story for the eighth time because his little brother needs to be fed (and it is actually now not possible to read and breastfeed thanks to Max's curiosity and distraction).  Or it might be because he isn't allowed to play with the contents of the fridge and it is almost always because we have to go back inside the house after being outside.  Every day I wonder what might set him off because some days, even having his nappy changed doesn't phase him and yet others...

It has been better since Ollie's language has improved.  He knows that saying 'peesh' (please) will get him most of what he wants, unless it is really very unreasonable and I'm pretty sure he also knows that whinging generally won't get him anywhere.  So, he often points to what he wants and says 'mama' (how I love that) or 'daddy'.  But the days when he doesn't want to eat, or when he's feeling a little under the weather, or when he is tired and easily frustrated, those days try us all.  (Admittedly there aren't many days when hunger/illness/fatigue isn't a problem, but we do have very good days too.)

And so it continues.  I hope the books are right.  Not because it will save my sanity, but because it really can't be that much fun for Ollie when he's having one of his moments.  And to all the young, childless people in the shopping centre who are enjoying a leisurely afternoon of shopping for non-essentials followed by a movie, drinks and dinner somewhere fashionable, he's not spoilt and we can't really do much about his tantrums.  But he's ours, and I'd trade dinner and drinks for an evening with him any day.

September 5, 2010

fathers' day

It's a good day when, even though it's grey and dreary outside, everyone is in a good mood and we can start the day with a lazy morning of pyjamas, coffee and presents!  We made no plans for Fathers' Day, choosing instead to let Daddy have a lie in while I read (and re-read) No Roses for Harry, Harry the Dirty Dog and Harry at the Beach to Ollie and Max.  The boys gave their beloved pa a most beautiful little hand drawn card and Tim Winton's Minimum of Two (chosen to settle the debate between us over whether we should plan to have more babies than our two.  I say yes!).  And, breaking the books-for-gifts-rule, we also treated Will with a ticket to the first test of the Ashes.

It's an even better day when your little boy asks for his crayons and he enthusiastically scribbles away, providing that glimmer of hope that he'll be a creative little soul, keen to express himself through delightful little drawings.  But when for the first time, he decides to colour in, actually colour in the wheels on the little cars he asked you to draw for him, it is something special.  I know he has such a long way to go, but it feels like such a step forward to see him concentrate on directing the crayon he's holding in his chubby little fingers with such deliberation.

Sure, the house is a mess, we are drowning under the laundry, we had tears and tantrums, and I cannot begin to work out how to get Ollie to at least try his dinner before refusing to eat it but when all is said and done, it's been a really rewarding day.

Happy Fathers' Day, Daddy.


Me:  Ollie, would you like to listen to some music?
Ollie:  (nods)
Me:  Giro Giro Tondo?
Ollie:  No
Me:  OK.  What would you like to listen to?
Ollie:  Pooh
Me:  Winnie the Pooh?
Ollie:  (nods)

(We appear to have entered the realm of the conversation.)

September 4, 2010

first taste

Five months old and the little man has just tried his first splodge of pureed fruit.  It was a reasonable success, although I think it left him feeling a bit bewildered.  I was really looking forward to this day, but now that he's moving on from only ever having had his mama's milk, it's made me feel rather emotional.  Perhaps it's knowing that we are very unlikely to plan to have more babies and this is it.  Each day that goes by, we are closer to something else and further away from the incredible experience that is nurturing a new born baby.

Whatever it is, I'm getting that heart-achey-singing-proud pain again.  Is this how it will be for the rest of my days?
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