Thursday, December 13, 2012

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas...

You'll have to excuse the super-corny-Christmas-carol title of this post, in my defence I am singing in the choir for the Hobsons Bay Christmas Carols this year so I have carols on the brain.

Being at home I have discovered allows for a much more on-top-of-things approach to Christmas than is my usual method. I have a fridge full of cumquat and orange marmalade, and all the presents ticked off the list bar two. Even The Mouse getting gastro at Playgroup this week hasn't slowed me down, she's sleeping quite a bit between doses of Hydralyte.

Here's a quick photographic overview of the stuff I have made (rather than the bought presents) for posterity:

 Marmalade: I always forget how long this takes to cook, but turned out yum so who cares.

Senor Pulpo (that's Mr Octopus to you): Slightly odd looking, but still cute (I think?) this little guy is for the new little guy due in April to my brother. I even put a rattle inside him. Hopefully, even if his parents don't like the toy, El Nacho Libre (my brother has a weird sense of humour) will love chewing on him.

TM and her cousin 'little Zo' are getting clothes. 

I even made myself a wreath (Merry Christmas me) for our wall as our place is too small for a Christmas tree. I think it looks nicer in the context of the room than in the above photo.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Suffering TMT and PMT

Tomorrow The Mouse is eight months old. And it does sound old. Compared to one month, or six months, it sounds A LOT closer to one year old. And yet, she's so tiny!

Tiny and yet, sitting so well by herself, wriggling herself around on the floor like a caterpillar, and growing teeth. This is called 'TMT' (The Mouse Teething) and it's not so fun for anyone. I am very grateful that she seems to have inherited my high pain tolerance, or maybe just being a month older than the other babies in our Mum's Group makes a difference to her understanding of what's going on? However, getting up every two hours through the night is starting to take its toll on me and, yesterday's crazy chocolate cravings aside, today it's also 'PMT,' which means mood swings and feeling bloated, just in time for the first 38 degree day of Spring.

Last night I lay in bed, and it must have been something about the way I was lying down but, I got nostalgic about being pregnant. For me being pregnant was like an extra-long Christmas Eve. I know that makes it sound like it was all rainbows and good times (it wasn't) but there was that quiet thrill of excited expectation. A growing secret shared body feeling, so alien and yet so a part of me. The wondering and the imagining 'what will she be like?' For me Christmas Eve, more so than my birthday, has always been like that - 'what will tomorrow bring?'

I had to trust, every day that things were going how they should be, but every day there would be a wriggle or a bump to say 'I'm coming... expect me.' It was simply a matter of waiting.

I didn't love being pregnant, it was physically and emotionally simply a 'waiting expectantly.' And I do love being a mum; there's still waiting, still trusting, and there's still things to look forward to. But last night I felt, for a short while, a grief for the loss of that going to bed moment when: I would get comfy, then The Mouse (called Chilli Pepper in utero) would get comfy, and, aware of each others presence we would go to sleep, like every tomorrow was going to be Christmas Eve again.

Monday, November 12, 2012

A taste of summer

I love Apollo Bay. I have been going there almost my entire life, and it's just one of the best places on earth - for me. I qualify this statement with 'for me' because the reason I think it's so great is intensely personal, I'm not trying to claim it is amazing for everyone. Besides which, I think you should all not go, in fact that's probably best (you wouldn't want to be disappointed,) leave the place to me.

Unlikely? Yeah, probably.

We went down for the Melbourne Cup long weekend, not being horse racing enthusiasts much (at all.) Raven, her two kids, Moth, and Lola and Nonno came as well.

And, well, as promised Franklin did bake bread and it was yummy. He also made cinnamon cookies and was enthusiastically assisted in both these endeavours by little fingers and many questions - 'why?' and 'can I do it?' predominantly.

Tiny toes were dipped in the super-cold ocean. This proved both a tickly and confusing  sensation, which required a nap on mum in the sun fairly soon afterwards, to recover.

As we were there with family, Franklin, TM and I slept in my old room. This prompted much gazing at the ceiling and marvelling at how much life can change and yet, not.

Standing on the beach I played on as a child, holding my daughter and looking out at the most familiar landscape of hills and sea was honestly, kind of mind blowing. How did I get here? How did she get here? How does time pass so quickly?! What will the future look like? Will she stand on this beach with her daughter some day?

Way too much reflection and romantical-type thinking went on. I'll admit it here - I needed that nap on the beach to recover, just as much as TM.

Drawing, maybe it's a thing I CAN do after all these years

I remember thinking while I was in Uni, that if I was going to be a good illustrator, I probably should be one 'by now' and that maybe I should peak my self-expectation at drawing for my kids, like my mum did.

I'm very glad I didn't do that. I love drawing and experimenting with textures and mediums. I have had many opportunities to draw and illustrate for my work over the years, and throw in a few drawing courses and an interest in photography and I can look at my handiwork and know I am better than just being able to accurately draw a horse or dog or flower for my kids.

I have recently done two drawing as presents for friends. The first was the image we used on my friend's baby shower invitation. There's certainly a few mistakes in there, and I haven't quite worked out how to come to terms with not being able to ctrl-z or edit curves and line weights. The down-side of being a graphic designer using a pen and paper? Also, I'm not sure what the code is with re-drawing - does a drawing still have a soul when it's the fiftieth clone of your first attempt in which you accidentally (gasp!) coloured out of the lines?

If I was working and had access to CS5 (Adobe Creative Suite 5) I would've used Photoshop to make the invite look better, but maternity leave has left me with just Illustrator 10 (!!!!) on my 4-year-old laptop so 'bumps and all' was how it had to be. As an aside, this totally blows. Limited to this way of working has not been very conducive to a peaceful household. Sorry Franklin!

This one was for some friend's who just got married, I think it turned out super cute. I hope they liked it, I haven't heard yet (the wedding was just on the weekend)

If you would like to hire me to draw you something, or as an illustrator, please contact me!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

7 months

TM is 7 months today, she's sitting really well and Grandma says she's about to crawl. She's certainly mastered moving backwards, but like a lizard, not on all fours.

Today she refused to be fed by me, from a spoon, but rather fed herself. A sign of things to come?

We're heading off to Apollo Bay for the long Melbourne Cup weekend, with some cousins and Lola and Nonno. Franklin is promising to bake bread for us. Yum!


So, TM (The Mouse) hit an age where, when you'd give her a toy she'd take it, turn it around until she found the manufacturer's tag and suck on that. Toys became a vehicle for the tags, and not at all interesting in and of themselves. Toys without an interesting tag, were not interesting toys. She's actually still in this phase, so that's about a month, a month and a half? I assume toys will be interesting again soon, for their own merit, but in the mean time I realised why people make those toys with ribbons poking out all over them.

So I made my own too. Verdict: She totally loves it.

It was especially useful when we were at my Oma's funeral this past month, because it's a quiet toy and it helped keep TM occupied throughout the service.

I actually sewed a cellophane bag into the guts of the toy too, so it makes a soft crunkle-y noise. I used ribbons of different sizes and textures and even a strap I had with a press-snap in it, which makes it easy to attach to the pram or whatever.

In case it's at all useful, below is a list I thought up of useful-slash-essential toys for the post-three-month and pre-nine-month old baby.

1. Two fabric (or plastic if you have to) books. The one The Mouse loves is brightly coloured and has a mirror in it and different textures etc.
2. A soft toy with a bell in it, something easy for small hands to hold on to.
3. 'Sophie le Giraffe' - pretentious but useful and very cleanable. All the waffle they write up on the box about this toy has proven to be factual for us, I would recommend it.
4. Those colourful and differently textured plastic links, cheap and super useful. Also good for affixing a blanket to the pram canopy, and a bit nicer than pegs and they'll stay on better.
5. Teething toys, simple soft plastic filled with water, perfectly sized for putting in mouths.
6. Something that rattles, and crinkles - like a Lamaze toy but nothing too huge (ie. it's easy to hold onto.)
7. Something with ribbons and tags like the toy pictured above. I say, make your own, but I'm not sure everyone else collects ribbons like I do...
8. A ball, or something that rolls but is easy to grab. We don't have anything like this, and I'm wishing we did.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Hospital Fishtank - a belated 6 months update

I was full of lovely emotions heading into The Mouse's 6 month-aversary. I had big plans of making a cake and a little speech around the family dinner table. Of shedding a few joyful tears and wondering about the clarity of hindsight. It was such a lovely day all planned out in my head.

Instead, we woke up at 4.30 in the morning to a groaning and crying baby. So sure, she went back to sleep for a while before we figured out what was going on, because after all, she is who she is. After her post 4.30am nap, we realised she wasn't moving her left arm. 

Now to 'time travel' to the night before, you have to know we were running late for an engagement party and we were bringing TM. I had put her in her pyjamas, my mum had just shown up to get a lift with us to said party and I was hurrying. I pulled out the puffiest (think duvet style) coat TM has and scrambled her into it. About the time I pulled her left arm into the coat, she started wailing. Now, we all thought she was tired already, so this just confirmed it and in the end I put her to bed, my mum stayed with her and off to the party Franklin and I went.

Turns out I had pulled her elbow out of its socket when I was putting her into the coat. Turns out it's amazing she slept until 4.30, let alone let us put her back to sleep again.So, instead of the day I had planned in my head, we put our child gently-gently into the car, and gently-gently drove to the hospital.

The new Children's Hospital is lovely, and thankfully due to the AFL Grand Final being the day before, the emergency room was also empty. The nurse fixed up TM's arm in a snap (probably the worst analogy I could've used there) and we were home in time for church.

Happy 6 Months My Mouse.

Author's Note: I have been writing this post for a whole month now... and I just shook my head at myself. I'm having trouble finding the way I'm writing things, and what I'm writing interesting. Don't get me wrong, I love my baby and I even kind of love writing about her here, but at the same time I think I'm hitting the facts from the wrong angle at the moment. Hopefully it's not forever.

Monday, September 17, 2012

5 months and counting

I finally made it back here to post about the 5 month mark because I thought of a quirky-slash-funny way to look at the developments of the past month. But now I've forgotten what it was.

So, that's not awesome.

I guess you could sum up the past month in three points, teething, eating and sleeping. There are still no teeth officially, but they are making their presence known and Franklin and I have come to the conclusion that they're getting ready to pop out all at once in a 'never before seen medical phenomenon' kind of way, every parent wants their child to be special, clearly we're no exception. I do secretly expect them to pop out two at a time in the usual way, but it's fun to dream big.

We have well and truly started solids, which out of context means nothing and sounds hilarious, but when I say 'we' I mean 'The Mouse' and when I say 'solids' I mean what the is technically called mushed up fruit and vegetables, and the occasional meat product.

The sleeping part is less interesting, so let's just say we're re-adjusting a little.

In more interesting news, I have started on a play-mat slash quilt for the bottom of the pram too. I got Sair to help me with the initial setup and layout, and so now I'll sew it together and then take it back to Sair to help with the quilting bit and binding to finish. My aim for this quilt is that it would be kept in the pram or the car and used as a playmat or to sleep on/under and be frequently in the washing machine. The batting is just polyester so should wash well. Let's see how I go finishing it...

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Four and a half months, or, Losing my hair

So what happens when you finally get through the first harrowing 3 months of your child's life? Your hair starts to fall out.

I'm seriously considering emailing Basil to warn her I may have none left when she gets back to Australia. I'm sitting here typing and tumble weeds of my hair are rolling past me, and I swept today! I shower at the pool and debate not washing my hair as I'm embarrassed about how much hair will end up in the plug hole and I don't want to have to fish it out cause, well, ew.

I have joined a Mum's Group, a new one, due to my back going and it seems that no one else is losing their hair, so clearly, I'm losing enough for them too. I didn't really have any idea of how MUCH hair I have (had?) until it started coming out, and then kept on coming out. I have a new appreciation for what it says in the bible about God numbering the hairs on your head. That's quite a bit of arithmetic these days I'm sure!

I have managed to start sewing again - the fateful dress for my niece aside, I have almost two pairs of baby shoes done, they're just waiting on velcro bits and for me to stop writing this. Exhibit A and B. Also I'm making a pattern for a dress from a Country Road one we inherited from Franklin's boss' now ex wife (we're not expecting to inherit any more clothes now..)

It's because I need to use my BRAIN! Now I'm getting sleep at nights (Thank You Apollo Bay and my Mum!) I'm finding that there's a part of my brain that is itching for exercise. I can understand mums choosing to go back to work now. Organising and problem solving were a part of my every work day, but sorting laundry doesn't really cut it in comparison. So we'll see; maybe I'll freelance a bit, maybe I'll just sew (yay!) or maybe life will throw me a new curve ball.

The Mouse is great by the way. She smiled at the 'baby in the mirror' for the first time yesterday, hasn't rolled over yet really, loves cuddles and going out, and people, and books, and her cousins. I'm enjoying how she is starting to really know me and know me from others and I guess you could call it 'love me back' - its nice and warm-and-fuzzyish.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Little Dressed Up Miss

So it took me a week, and nearly broke up my marriage (slight exaggeration) but my niece got her birthday present at her actual birthday party, and it turned out great.

I bought the pattern off Etsy, from PetiteKids and the fabric years ago at an Akira remnants and fabrics sale in the GPO. Aside from some severe frustrations with the lining fabric I had, and thanks to a generous friend who gave me some brown cotton fabric to use instead, this dress was great fun to make and I'm really impressed with how easy the pattern was to follow.

My sister-in-law is honour bound to give the dress back once my niece has out grown the dress, so I guess that makes this gift more a loaner than a present...

Friday, June 22, 2012

Laughter (Month 3)

The Mouse laughed her first laugh today, for her Nonno (grandpa) after a bath (which she cried through) It's such a cute laugh, totally a chuckle.

I stood at the bottom of the stairs and listened and cried, because I can't climb the stairs and so I missed it.

I am currently an elderly person. I am using a walking frame and (gasp) a commode to go to the toilet.

On Monday I got up out of bed and my back spasmed. It kept spasming over and over until we called an ambulance and they gave me drugs to numb some of the pain. Then they made me get off the bed and climb down our stairs and go to Williamstown Hospital. It was much worse than labour, much more painful, for a point of reference for those who know what labour is like.

I have only just started to be able to walk and get, by myself and with minimal pain, in and out of bed.

The hardest part is not being able to look after the Mouse. We have moved to my parents-in-law's house and I now have plenty of time to read books, wash my face and moisturise! It's funny how you wish you could do these things while you're healthy and looking after your baby means you don't have time, but when someone else is caring for her because you can't, you realise you don't really care about the state of your face. It'd be much nicer to be able to rock her when she cries, and be there for her first laugh.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Mother's Group

So, The Mouse and I went to our first Council sponsored Mother's Group today. The 2pm start fell nicely between feeds and The Mouse slept through most of it.

My observations from today:
1. Every single woman was wearing jeans. I secretly assume we're all still wearing our maternity jeans, mostly because I want not to be the only one. I also secretly assume most of us chose jeans today instead of tracksuit pants because, typically women dress for each other.

2. It takes two to make a conversation. When you run out of questions to ask someone there's an awkward silence where the other person is supposed to question you back. I used to feel like I must be to blame for the lack of conversation, but now I feel that it's only fair to expect the other person to show a little interest in me in return for my interest.

3. Plenty of mothers formula feed their babies. Some by choice, some due to illness, some who don't like to share their reasons very loudly. I heard that the official stats are about 5% of babies are formula fed. In my Mother's Group there are 12 women, and 4 formula fed babies that I noticed. That's one third, and I was concerned I might be the only one or that they might be suss about how we ended up there.

4. Breast feeding is not easy, even of you have a nice amount of milk (not too much, not too little) The general consensus is that the hospitals gloss over many of the details and difficulties, the pain and the steep learning curve.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Month two!

So, maybe I'll average one post a month here? This morning's post is courtesy of a very-small-Mouse sleeping past her expected time to eat. I'm wondering if she isn't a bit more attached to her 'routine' than we realise as she's on the path to re-set her eating times to closer to what's been usual for the past week. Eh, who knows?!

I've become much more used to my new life, still not exactly used to the sleep deprivation but things are much more steady.

I've even sewn some bibs out of old t-shirts and toweling. They're quite cute actually, even though they're sometimes crooked and unevenly stitched. If the Mouse wasn't currently asleep on my lap I would take a picture but as it is, you'll just have to believe me.

Centrelink has finally gathered themselves together to pay my parental leave soon, two and a half months in, so our financial knuckle-scraping might ease off. The worst part has been that we're not used to being short and keep thinking we can afford stuff. The best part is we're being inventive and creative with what we do have and I'm pleased to know we're up to the challenge, even if our minds are a bit slow catching up.

She stirs! And what cute stirring. But no, she's not awake yet.

Yesterday was Franklin's birthday. We saw lots of family, ate lots and laughed quite a bit. This year's 'chocolate cake with green icing' was delicious and the 'green' was a frog.

I'm feeling a bit like I should be making the most of this sunshiney day and hanging the clothes out instead of sitting here under the Mouse... I'm pretty sure she'll wake up if I put her down but time to find out I reckon -

Thursday, May 03, 2012

One Month In... or And Life Will Never be the Same Again...

So... a bit of radio silence from me on this blog - can you guess why? Well, yeah, I never got to even consider going away for Easter because Matilda Angelina, from here on referred to as The Mouse or just Mouse, was born on the 30th of March at 12.10am. A full two weeks early.

She's wonderful and definitely a gift from God. I can take no credit to take for how amazing and perfect she is. Right now she is one month old, is 'sleeping' (I can see waving hands from where I'm sitting..) in her bassinet and snorkelling away through a stuffy nose because she has a cold. Poor little mouse.

I had planned so many posts to this blog for the two weeks I was supposed to have before she came - as it was we hadn't even finished the nursery! My lovely mother, BaSiL, and my brothers did that for us while Franklin, the Mouse and I were in hospital. I didn't sew anything. I didn't read up on what it is like to have a newborn in your house. In fact, instead of having two weeks to feel like I 'had it together,' the Mouse came and I've spent the past month learning what not having anything together ever-at-all feels like. Sure, I've occasionally patted myself on the back about something, but honestly, the next day (or minute) I had to take my pats back and start again.

Franklin is much more the 'confident parent' and it's not without a twinge of nerves that I farewell him every day he goes to the office leaving just the two of us at home. It is amazing to me that the Mouse is a month old, I feel a definite sense of accomplishment just having helped her be alive for a whole month. The last week of pregnancy was a bit stressful with her being underweight, Franklin and I hurrying from scans to appointments and finally being told she'd have to come early as she wouldn't survive labour at full term. When we brought our tiny (skinny) baby home from the hospital it was on a tight feeding regime with instructions not to let her cry as it would use energy she needed to feed. The relief on our faces when the Maternal Health Nurse weighed her and she'd put on weight! Finally!

So now we're on track and getting used to each other and used to not sleeping all that much (that's just me actually) and learning to ride the ups and downs. Franklin and I are nutting out our new relationship, there have been some ups and downs there too, but at the end of the day when we're both in bed it's all good. Also, amusingly, we've started patting each other (in our sleep) when the Mouse cries and we wake up either patting or being patted. It's nice though, it makes it easier to get out of the warm bed and venture out into the cold night to feed the baby. The twenty steps between bed and baby can be quite a challenge. Once you're in either place it's great, but the journey between is cold and it can feel like a prohibitive distance at times.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Goodbye sweeties...

Today is Shrove Tuesday and the first day of Lent. Franklin and I are going to have pancakes for dinner tonight in order to farewell sweet things for the month. I wonder how I'll go? Is it wrong to be thinking I'll fail before I even begin? I think Franklin will do well, I'll just have to remember and not tempt him by baking cakes.

There are a few bumps in the road I can already see - the baby shower (I was looking forward to sponge cake and scones), Saturday is raspberry jam making day, I STILL owe BaSiL a Tim Tam cake and I STILL owe Karli a Mint Choc Chip cake.

I wonder if they could wait another three weeks until I've finished work..? They've waited this long (sorry friends) they probably could.

Thinking about finishing work has made me think about Easter holidays and about Easter 2011 and how fun it was and about these:

(home made hot cross buns)

And this:

(epic easter egg hunt)

And, I'm starting to wonder if it's a bad (crazy and insane) idea or a genius idea to go to Apollo Bay for Easter even if it is the week before the baby is due...

Friday, February 10, 2012

Time to have a party!

So, probably I've written down somewhere how awesome my family is. Being pregnant and so very tired this week, I'm feeling more than usually appreciative of just how lovely they are. I am truly blessed to have these people in my life. You should meet them - they're great people.

This week I have had the pleasure of posting out Baby Shower invitations designed, printed and cut to size by my youngest brother and BaSiL, who happens to be his lovely wife. It was extremely nice, and actually relaxing, to address and stamp envelopes for this party knowing that such lovely people are organising this afternoon tea on my behalf.

How cute are they!? SO cute. And the fact that they're in what I'm coming to see as 'his fonts' makes me giggle.

On top of that, this weekend two of my brothers are picking up furniture for the nursery for me while I attend the second of two birthing classes at the hospital.

I have ordered 'snaps' from the US (via eBay - my very first purchase!) to finish of this, the first of many bibs I plan to sew.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

A mad dash recap of Christmas 2011 and January 2012 holidays featuring probably too many photographs

Check this out:

First there was Christmas lunch where Franklin's job was to make dessert and my job was to drive us to the in-laws and back, eat lunch including my once-a-year indulgence where turkey becomes a vegetable (it's a Christmas miracle! ... I'm sorry turkey) and consume much dessert. Franklin made fruit-surprise pies. The 'surprise' being which fruit your pie contained due to, well, no one measuring amounts properly and last minute fruits being found and thrown together. They were yum!

Second, there was a lot of rain. And a bit of waiting until the rain stopped to go and get in the car and drive to my folk's place for dinner. Franklin and I were on entertainment for the evening and we kicked it off with a joint craft project heavily inspired by Lovely Design's activity here. While LD's are much, much prettier than ours, everyone had fun decorating them and they looked very nice hanging across the living room.

Then there was more food, games, drinking, laughing and presents including: a full dinosaur costume for the nephew; my awesome camera bag; Franklin's camping chair and many other lovely present-y surprises.

On the 27th we packed and on the 28th we jumped in the car and headed off to Aire River camping ground. We started with four of us, gathered 12 people somewhere in the middle of the 10 days and finished with seven. Highlights, in a vaguely ordered way were:

Jaffles hot from the coals, damper (mostly) cooked in a camp oven eaten with butter and honey. Heavenly food stuffs.

Long walks to the beach on sandy roads. Seriously, 20 minutes walk (more if you're pregnant) each way to the beach on a dry, hot, sand road only suitable for 4-wheel drives brings you to a wild but secluded bit of ocean to sit and watch the sunset, soak in the cool breeze, chase waves and let off some pre-NYE fireworks. Totally worth it, and good for your core muscles.

Beautiful sunset skies that went on forever, becoming glorious star-filled skies when the sun finally gave up showing off.

Major relaxation times with lilos good for both naps and cruising on the river.

Fishing, fishing and fishing, not catching much and being eaten by mosquitoes while you're at it. This was not an activity for me, I was at base-camp reading one of the 6 books I had brought and enjoying a complete lack of nasty mosquitoes and flies and bugs.

Polaroids. Enough said.

The Boat.

The Boat's Maiden voyage. Look Mum - she floats! Unfortunately she leaks, is very hard to paddle, and unfortunately didn't bring success any to the fishing adventures.

And that just about wraps up the holidays except to say that after we camping at 20-something weeks pregnant for 9 night and 10 days, we drove half an hour to our holiday house and had the NICEST showers, ate a lovely lunch with the American cousins and continued relaxing for a few more days. Sleeping in beds, having access to clean running water and a flushing toilet and luxuries I really appreciate. My back did not play up, the baby did not suffer any ill effects from eating camp food, and I managed to not gain any Christmas weight! All told, it was wonderful, if a few nights camping too many to have been perfect.