Wednesday, 30 September 2015

34.5 years old and 7 months old

Joan's naptime ends in 10 minutes which seems like the perfect amount of time to quickly write a blog post doesn't it?  Ha.

Blair is away… still?  Again…?  I can't even remember anymore.  His swing just got extended by another 5 days which means that not only is he going to miss his dad's 60th in NZ, but will also be missing our wedding anniversary next week.  Yay for FIFO.  Yay.

I have been trying to plan a trip home to Adelaide to see various family members who haven't seen Joan since she was tiny, or in the case of one sister, since EVER.  But with Blair's stupid work schedule the trip keeps getting pushed further and further out.  Never mind.  They'll probably get to see Joan when she can book and pay for her own plane ticket.

One family member who did get to see Joan recently, albeit very briefly, was my mum.  Even though she is very old indeed, she has taken off for a safari in Kenya and managed a 2-day stopover in Perth on her way.  48 hours of baby-cuddling time and re-acquainting herself with the little munchkin who was only 4 weeks old last time they laid eyes on each other.  Also she got to see me, who was a very leaky (both tears and... other) non-coping new mother last time we laid eyes on each other.  I remember looking on the calendar at September and hardly believing we would get there.  

We've come a long way, baby.

Blair must have been home sometime since my last post because here he is in these photos.

Time to put your pants on, Joan
Can't look at this.  Will cry.
My little chunker munker is blooming as ever.  Shall we talk milestones for a sec?

  • Age: 7 months
  • Rolling over?  Sort of
  • Sitting?  Nope
  • Teeth?  Nope
  • Crawling?  Nope
  • Standing?  With support
  • Walking?  HAHAHA

She goes at her own pace, and although I admit to sometimes feeling bored and impatient, it's worthwhile remembering that in a couple of years she will be doing all of the above, and probably wearing me out in the process.

I feel like a broken record saying it, but am reminding my impatient self daily to just enjoy.  Remember how far we've come already.  And just enjoy what we're doing right now.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Delicious - and easy - chewy biscuits

Blair has only had four days at home in the past five weeks.  Poor guy.  Poor ME.  Poor everyone who I complain to endlessly about it.  So anyway, when he was due home for this tiny break I decided, BISCUITS.  Biscuits will make it better.

I adapted these from Jo Seagar's recipe for Chocolate Orange Biscuits in her book "It's easier than you think".  I can't find a link to the recipe so, buy the book.  It's full of great recipes.

Anyway, I don't care much for the combination of chocolate and orange, but the recipe instantly appealed because it didn't require me to use an electric mixer.  You just stir everything together in a bowl.  Easy!

75g butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup caster sugar
grated rind of one orange (I obviously omitted this)
1 egg
1/2 cup chocolate chips (I omitted these)
1/2 cup rolled oats (I used 1/4 cup quick oats as that's all I had, and 1/4 cup desiccated coconut because, COCONUT)
1/2 tsp baking soda (also known as bicarb soda)
1 cup flour
1 cup dark (or milk if you prefer, but YUCK) chocolate melts to decorate (optional)

Preheat oven to 180C.  Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Mix all ingredients except chocolate melts together in a large bowl.  Spoon walnut-sized balls of mixture onto the prepared tray and flatten with your finger.  Leave plenty of room between each for spreading (I used two trays to ensure they had lots of room).

Bake for 10-12 minutes (I baked mine for 10 minutes and turned once halfway through the cooking time).  Cool on the tray for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

For scientific purposes, I made sure to taste test one biscuit at this juncture and I can confirm that they are more than able to stand on their own, without the need to go next level and add the chocolate coating.  Chewy, slightly coconutty, perfect to pair with a cup of tea.

If, however, like me you always have to take things that one step too far, go ahead and melt the chocolate in the microwave (or however you prefer).  Spread the chocolate on the bottom of the biscuits.  Don't be shy.  Slather it on there.  You won't regret it.  You can make pretty patterns in the chocolate with a fork, but really, it's chocolate.  It doesn't need to be made more appealing.

Now that, my friends, is a damn fine biscuit.  Still chewy, still a bit coconutty, and still dead set perfect with a cup of tea.  But now with added chocolate.  And perhaps some magazines spread out on the floor on a Sunday afternoon.

Monday, 31 August 2015

When Blair is away...

When Blair is away, our days fall into a nice easy routine.  For me, routine is KEY to making the solo-parenting gig easier.  Yes, I have one child.  Yes, I have one child who can't yet crawl, walk, talk or particularly challenge me in any way.  Those of you with two or more kids please feel free to laugh at my Struggle.

Anyway.  With that out of the way, where was I?  Oh yes, routine.  

Blair has been home for about 30% of the last few months.  We all miss him terribly when he's gone, but we also have our little life just the three of us (that's me, the baby, and the cat).  Our days are divided up by Joan's nap times - still three a day, bless her.  We garden, we play and read books, go for walks, I sing quite a lot (oh motherhood, breaking down inhibitions daily), and make sure my babies get everything they need.

There's that lovely light
By late afternoon, we're drifting towards Joan's bedtime and the pace slows right down.  Joan sits in her swing and watches the birds settle into the trees, I usually crack a beer, and Biggie Smalls hangs out nearby pretending that he doesn't want to be seen with us.

Biggie Smalls having a contemplative moment in the back garden
Mama's little helper
Joan is, for whatever reason, most given to laughter in the afternoons and sometimes I remind myself how we used to spend the last hour before bed pacing the house while she grizzled and cried.  I remember asking her in exasperation once, "How many more evenings will we have to do this for??"  And of course now, I can't pinpoint exactly when it stopped.

I quite often look up from doing something in the kitchen to find that Joan is looking at me like this
Girl loves to read
And to eat books

And to sing
When Blair's away, I am of course in charge of the menu and get to eat far more of the small, mostly vegetarian meals that I prefer.  And pasta EVERY DAY.

One packet of salmon and one me.  A coincidence, I think not
This rainbow chard we grew ourselves!  I had no idea how cool it would look
So, this is a post about nothing, basically, and I have no idea how to wrap it up.  

So here is Joan.


Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Decorating for dummies

I FINALLY dug the camera out and took some photos around the new house.  Gosh it is still such a mess.  I can't wait until everything is put away at last.  I also feel, for the first time in my life, the urge to thoughtfully decorate this place, as opposed to my usual haphazard lack of styling.  More on that later, though.

Firstly, as ever, photos of the wee babe.

In the downloading of the house photos from my camera I found these shots which are from the beginning of July.  I really need to choose a few to get printed and framed of the hundreds of photos I've taken of Joan.  I was looking at my own baby album the other day and marvelled at the difference: the photos in my album go something like, 1 day old, 2 weeks old, 3 months old, 7 months old, first birthday.  As in, one photo for each of those ages.  Joan will have no such scarcity.  She'll be able to see what she looked liked for every day of her first year.  Which is, dressed in pyjamas 99% of the time.

Now let's talk house decorating!

I'm going to disclaim here that I don't expect any of the ramblings below to be especially interesting to anyone except me, but this blog is a diary of my life and therefore I'll be keeping track of the project as we slowly work through our list.

As I think I mentioned before, the first thing we did here before we even moved in was to have the flooring redone - bamboo boards in the majority of the house and a classic wool Berber carpet in the master bedroom and the front sitting room.  We skimped on neither the carpet or the boards and I'm glad.  I just love the colour of the boards and the warmth they bring to a fairly cold house.  I've always loved carpet in bedrooms and sitting areas and after the tiles of our last house, it feels a real treat.

This house is mostly pretty neutral - white paint throughout except for a few feature walls (which I can't stand!) in a horrible depressing dark grey.  I can't think what possessed them to choose such a colour.  The house desperately needs repainting anyway due to wear and tear and general griminess, but the grey feature walls put the grim in grimy.  See what I did there!!  Of course, painting once we've moved in is going to be a lot harder so it's not going to happen straight away.  We'll need to do other things meanwhile to warm the place up.

I'm currently obsessed with the blog of Jenny Rose-Innes and her classic decorating style.  Of course, my cold 80s house doesn't quite lend itself to that sumptuous style (and neither does our budget…) but there are definitely certain elements I want to shamelessly copy to bring some warmth.

I keep jabbering on about warmth and coldness in the new place, and I'm not referring to temperature, so let me explain.

The thing with our new place is, the sale was as a result of a divorce and from what we can gather, not an amicable one.  I'm not much of a believer in energies and things but undeniably this house has a cold feeling to it.  For want of a better descriptor, it feels sad.  The pragmatic realist in me says it's probably less about airy fairy energy and vibes, and more about the neglect, the grime and dust, the depressing grey feature walls, and the garden that is full of mean spiky plants that stick you with their thorns every time you turn around.  Whatever the reason, it's all crying out for some warmth and softness.  And perhaps a white sage cleansing ceremony.

Enter Prudence.

All the cute tinkling bells in the world can't cheer up this place
Spiky.  Unfriendly.  Neglected.
This is my list of TO DO for this house (not including the numerous boring maintenance jobs like replacing cracked windows, etc):

1.  Change horrible fluoros to downlights.  Blair is against this because he can't see the problem with the prison-style white fluorescent lighting but I will simply employ my usual persuasive technique of nagging until he buckles.

2.  Create welcoming entry.  This house does have a tiny little entryway which to my new decorating eye would really benefit from perhaps a dear little table with perhaps a dear little orchid on it, and perhaps a dear little dish for keys and perhaps some dear little objet d'art.

3.  New window coverings.  I'm thrilled to leave behind the less than charming office-type vertical blinds of our last house but the curtains here are pretty sad, the blinds don't work, etc.  For reasons unknown I'm not really fond of curtains so some kind of blind action it will be.  I'm quite partial to roman blinds, maybe?  But I'm yet to find a blind that works with sliding doors, except the dreaded verticals.  Any ideas welcomed!

4.  New kitchen bench tops.  I can't wait to say farewell to the speckly green laminate bench tops.  I don't know what the stuff I want is called, but I know I like it.  That should be easy to explain to a retailer.

5.  New back sliding door.  At our old house, due to the unfenced pool, we had a self-closing sliding door leading to the backyard.  It annoyed the crap out of me every day, except that now I miss it.  It was so handy.  It's so tiresome having to close the door behind yourself all the live long day.  Ain't nobody got time for that.  PLUS… the back sliding door here makes a hideous screeching sound AND the screen door is in shreds AND the locks have been removed/tampered with at some stage making me feel super happy and secure alone at night.

6.  Master bedroom robe.  There's nothing especially wrong with the robe except that it has very 80s brass-framed mirrored sliding doors, and inside there is masses of hanging space but no drawers.  Pardon me for saying so but I'd rather fold my t-shirts into a drawer than have everything crammed together on hangers.  So at some stage we'll be either painting or replacing the doors, and designing some kind of USEFUL internal layout.

7.  New bathtub.  We had a similar problem in our old house where the bathtub was some kind of afterthought - so low and tiny that it was clearly never designed with the thought of a relaxing soak in mind.  It may as well have a big sign on it saying FOR CHILDREN ONLY.  Which would be fine, except the bottom of it is actually below floor level.  When you have to keep a hand on your bathing child at all times, that unnatural pose starts to hurt a bit.  Especially if you are over 30 and your knees like to remind you that they are a 1981 model.  So instead I'm picturing one of those gorgeous high, deep, freestanding models.  Something I can soak in, and which doesn't require my core muscles to have core muscles when leaning over it to hold onto the baby.

Cleverly hidden in shadow - MANY WEEDS.  Cleverly cropped out - filthy pool due to non-working pool pump.
All the bokeh in the world can't hide the sad backyard
Dead plants, half dead plants, rotten pergola.  But LOADS of potential
I reserve the right to add to the above To Do list at will.  A lot of maintenance stuff that should have been done long ago is already underway.  Since my last post, we've also had the side fence replaced and the half-dead tree on the verge out front removed, AND I even remembered to take before and after photos!  Ok, well, the tree I might have missed the first chainsaw cut, but it's close enough.

The fence in this photo?  Already gone.  Not pictured: where it had fallen over and was leaning on the house (see below)

When it feels like everything is broken and dirty and ugly, it's moments like the one above in our bedroom that remind me why we even bought this house in the first place.  It has the potential to be such a lovely place to live.  There's just going to be a lot of Selling Houses Australia type action before we get there.  Luckily we are up to the challenge.

Friday, 14 August 2015

We're in!

Hey dudes!!

Oh my word, doesn't moving house SUCKKKKK.  I love the change of scenery and setting up everything in its new spot, arranging things on my kitchen bench and bathroom cabinet just so.  But it's those boxes of random crap that you throw together at the end of the packing process, nothing in them has a category and you have no idea where to put them in the new house.  My current solution is to put them in the spare room and close the door.  If you know me at all you know that this is a massive departure from my usual standards.

The other thing we're dealing with is the fact that we bought a house that's in fairly shabby condition.  It's about 30 years old first of all, and the previous owners CLEARLY were not into home maintenance.  The list of things to do is long.  Many of them we had to sign off on in the contract but plenty more have cropped up since.  The worst thing was having no hot water for the first couple of days: long sweaty grimy days of moving and unpacking, and no hot shower at the end of it all.

There were two big ticket items to sort out first - the flooring inside the house (you can sort of see the new carpet and floorboards in the photos above), and the paving outside.  Blair needed somewhere to park his boat out the front, and the pergola area out the back was on two levels for some silly reason.  So shortly after we moved in, we immediately set about fixing these issues.  I'm hopeless at remembering to take "before" photos so the photo below is more of a "during" shot, but am trying to remember to take photos of everything we do so we can remember how far we have come.  I found a bunch of photos I took of the old place when we first moved in and you do forget all the changes you've made.

We've torn down that shabby shade cloth, and fenced in the carport.  The carport has a roller door on the front but inexplicably was wide open to the street from the side, making the roller door pretty much pointless.  It was the work of one weekend to put up a fence, thereby making the backyard properly secure.

There's plenty more to do, and it's easy to forget that it took close to three years to feel truly settled and happy in our last house.  We've lived in this house for just two WEEKS.  It can be tempting to rush and try and get everything done straight away but I know from experience that it's only after you've lived somewhere for several months or more that things become clear. Where the pictures should go, how to arrange the furniture, what's missing, what works and, most importantly, what to change.

Now all this house talk is fine, but what about the baby?  Oh my god you guys.  She is so adorable at the moment. I feel like she turned five months old and suddenly became awesome.  She's funny and cheeky, and makes me laugh all day long.  She jabbers away to her toys, she growls and squeals with delight, makes herself laugh hysterically at nothing. 

She is just pure joy personified.

No, I cannot even DEAL with those dimples.

In terms of milestones she hasn't hit many yet - only rolled a couple of times and pretty hopeless at sitting up.  No teeth in sight, and no real signs of teething behaviour either.  When she was tiny and hard work I obsessively counted every week she got older and any milestone felt like such a triumph.  Now I'm so much more relaxed and happy to let her grow and learn at her own pace.  She'll roll, crawl, grow teeth, walk and talk when she's ready.

One milestone I can report is that she has started solids.   Loves her food and now has three square meals a day, in addition to her milk.  Hasn't yet met a food she doesn't like.

She sleeps thirteen hours straight (yes, THIRTEEN) almost every night.  It'll be a very rude shock to my system if she does start waking in the night again now!!

I'm sure we have many more rough patches in our future but for now we're just enjoying our sunny girl who's emerged from the cranky newborn of not so long ago.

So that's life at No. 14 at the moment.  Pretty good, all things considered!

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Why I can't wait to grow old

I've mentioned before that, since having Joan, I've never been more conscious of the passage of time.  I now realise that the whole rest of my life will be dictated by her and, universe willing, her sibling/s.  Their age, their achievements, the time that has passed since they arrived.

You hear over and over again from parents with grown children that it all goes so fast.  I'm happy to admit that I do look forward to a time when my kids are grown and gone and living their adult lives.  That's why I'm having children.  To see them grow, to watch them become the people they're going to be.  Unless they're going to be psychopathic serial killers.  That probably would not be so cool to watch.  Or deadbeat druggies.  Or bigots or any kind.  Or lovers of mainstream TV such as The Voice.  Blergh.

Hang on.  What was the point I was making?  Oh yes!  All this reflection on the passage of time has really got me thinking about growing up and growing old.

I realise that a lot of people my age in their 30s feel that their best years are behind them, and pine for their teens or 20s, which I think is such a shame!  I SO look forward to growing old.  True story.

Look, I was a seriously nerdy teen so it's not much of a surprise that I don't look back super wistfully on that time.  I was awkward and shy, and, frankly, very plain.  I'm still no great beauty but I don't care.  I love myself sick anyway.  And why is that?  Age.  Experience.  Realising that it doesn't matter.

My twenties were pretty hard, as I expect most people's are.  Hard lessons were learned about friendships, about loyalty, and about relationships.  Betrayals!  Heartbreak!  Ridiculously awful boyfriends!  All of which is pretty miserable at the time but helps you on the road to maturity, self-acceptance, and - dare I say it - inner peace.

For me, every year is better than the last, and not just because awesome stuff keeps happening in my life (although it does).  It gets better because with each passing year I feel better within myself.  I know myself better, I have more empathy for others, I learn how to handle situations better and what to let go of.  I genuinely want the best for others, and for myself.

Having Joan has taught me a HUGE amount.  What a humbling experience, and one that makes me want to crawl back to my own parents saying thank you and SORRRYYYYYYY.

I can't wait to watch my child/ren grow.  I am absolutely not one of those mothers who wishes they would stay small.  I can't wait to have conversations with my grown kids.  And I really can't wait until they have kids of their own and crawl back to me saying thank you and SORRRYYYYYYY.  

I look forward to moving into that phase of life where the "hard part" is over.  Blair and I will probably get a caravan.  We can live wherever we want, not where work dictates.  We can enjoy our grandchildren, and we will have lived through so much that not much can faze us anymore.  

Unless, of course, one of our kids is a serial killer.  That would be very very uncool.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

The month of June

Good morning, friends!

Here we are suddenly heading towards the end of another month.  Less than a week left of June and what do we know, the blog has remained idle for that whole time.  WHOOPS.

So, once again, let's catch up.  Firstly, as usual, let's discuss the baby.

Our petite little peach has motored into 00 sized clothing and I noticed the other day that she's almost too long for them already!  Our long-legged lamb.  She's also decided that she's all grown up now and will no longer be taking a dummy.  Luckily (or unluckily...?) she's discovered her thumb so it's out with the dummy and in with the thumb, thanks very much.  At least I don't have to worry about sterilising her thumb.  Right?

Along with her thumb, EVERYTHING now goes into the mouth for some comprehensive drool action.  She currently wears a bib pretty much all day to save the multiple clothing changes required when she soaks herself to the waist with dribble.  I wish I was joking about this.  It's gross.  No teeth visible yet, just litres of drool.

We're also in no rush to start solids, possibly the only ones left not starting solids at four months (or before!!).  Our CHN told us to wait until as close to six months as possible and I'm happy not to have the hassle of solids till then.  Plus, from six months we can do 100% baby led weaning which I'm all for.

Last time I wrote, we hadn't had any laughter yet, but not long after that Blair did elicit the first chuckle.   Oh what an adorable sound that is. Oh how addicted I am to making her laugh. Oh how hard she likes to make me work for it. 

Blair went away for work again this month which was barely a blip on my radar... Until it was. He was only gone for a fortnight but those last couple of days I think I officially hit burn out.  Everything was a LOT of effort and boy did those days drag.  It didn't help that Joan was going through (ANOTHER) exceptionally fussy stage.  One morning she cried so endlessly that I took her to the doctor who diagnosed her with colic, which frankly I could have diagnosed myself (the definition of colic being "unexplained crying in an otherwise healthy and thriving infant").

On that note, I want to have a tiny rant on the subject of contented mothers.  I've heard MANY times that contented mothers make contented babies.  I'm sure that is very reassuring and validating for those mothers who do have contented babies.  But for those of us with wilful, "high needs" babies, the implication that it is our fault that our babies are hard work does sting a little.  I absolutely agree that babies pick up on and react to their parents' mood.  But when I feel happy and relaxed and full of love for my child, and yet she cries and cries anyway, I refuse to accept that it is some vibe I'm giving off that upsets her.  

End Rant.

Anyway, once Blair got home I let him know that I needed some time out for myself, like, immediately.  After all, as you'll recall, I still needed new jeans to go with my new boots that I bought to wear with my new jeans.  So yesterday morning I took off BY MYSELF WITHOUT A BABY to the shops. Oh how I strolled.  Oh how I dawdled.  Oh how many pairs of jeans I tried on.  I did eventually get two pairs of new jeans and I declare them to be excellent.  I can say this with conviction as the stores had those horrible mirrors that show you exactly what you look like from behind.  Which reminded me that I need to do some exercise occasionally, and perhaps lay off the Marvellous Creations.

I was only gone for a couple of hours but it was just what I needed.  I came home to find my peachy baby sitting in her high chair watching Blair making breadcrumbs.  I don't think she even noticed that I was gone.

The cheekiest of monkeys

Being a baby is extremely serious business
In other MAJOR news...

WE BOUGHT A NEW HOUSE!  As discussed last time, we have made that "sideways" move to another suburban place.  I say sideways but this place is so perfect for us.  Grass in the backyard, a fence around the pool and only a few km to the beach.  There's plenty we can do to make it our own and to make it a really nice place to live.

We'll be moving at the end of July and I can't wait.  In the meantime however there is a terrifyingly long to-do list to get our place ready for sale, not to mention organising tradesmen for the new house to get stuff done straight after settlement.

Oh and Blair will be away for three weeks during this time.  I'll need to pack up this whole house, keeping the baby alive in between times.  Excellent.  We'll be fine.  Everything will be fine.

Totally do-able.

I just keep telling myself that this time next month it will all be over.

Oh wait.

No it won't.  This time next month we'll be right in the midst of the chaos.  It'll be fine.  Everything will be fine.  But if you don't hear from me again for a really long time, you know why.