Hellooooo 2014!

   

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I'm baaaaack in all my pregnant and oversharing glory! We had a lovely summer break involving lots of beach time, digging in rockpools, mocktails,  fish and chips, wearing the same clothes until they stink of sunscreen and salt, naps, sandal tans and one very blond and tanned little chubster (Archie, not me). Arch was very spoilt at Christmas and is now the proud owner of a sandpit, a ukelele and a box of Duplo almost bigger than him.

I am still gestating another large human. We had a scan the other day that showed that the baby is already 89% bigger than most 20-week-old fetuses (feti?) so LOOK OUT LADY PARTS. Hopefully this baby doesn't feel the need to evacuate the premises along the same rough path as his large-headed big brother and require mama to need eight more stitches. There's only so much scar tissue one small and sensitive piece of flesh can handle.

Aaaand, there goes all my male readers.

(Joking! As if I had any male readers anyway.)

I don't really go for the whole NEW YEARS EVE PARTY PARTY PARTY thing, even before kids, because in my experience, pressure to have fun = no fun at all. Lee and I had a lovely couple of days hanging out and relaxing at home. New Year's Eve involved homemade gnocci with homegrown pesto and a 10pm bedtime for this little pregnant duck. I also don't really go for the whole resolution thing, but instead I prefer to thing about and maybe write down 'Stuff I would like to do this year'.

Things like date nights, embracing the whole gamut of pregnancy, birth and early motherhood, finish building my house. Less screen time, more baby time. Less sugar, more broccoli. More making, less faffing. More intentional doing, less freaking out.

I want to take more of the reins with our businessMake cooking and food more of a priority. Go to bed earlier. Consciously decide to really sloooow down at the end of the pregnancy and the first few months of motherhood, so I don't feel as useless and resentful. Ask for help and support and assistance.

Aside from the incoming addition to la familia, I have a few little projects on the go for 2014. My friend Tess and I have started a podcast which I'm excited about. I am choosing all the finishes and final materials for our house, which makes me so happy it literally keeps me awake at night. Archie at 19 months is a wonder- so much energy, so many feelings, so independent and eager and FUNNY.

Good times ahead!

 

Hot tips for toddlers.

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Ain't nothing like waking up to this face at the foot of my bed.

Most of the time I have no freaking clue when it comes to parenting. I don't know if anyone does, really. We are all just bumbling along, shell-shocked, exhausted and bewildered. I only have one and a half children, which hardly makes me an expert. But I have gathered some good tips and little things that help when I'm in the trenches with an empty fridge and cranky toddler.

Most of the time, kids are capable of more than you think. On a good day, Archie brings his high chair over to the bench at dinner time, gets his plate and bib from the drawer and carries his water bottle over and puts it on his high chair. He hoovers his dinner, mostly without help from me, then hands me his bowl when he is finished. I give him a cloth and he wipes his face and hands (I  help a bit with this) this wipes the high chair. If he has been really messy we wipe the floor together, while he usually eats the crumbs off the floor (lovely). He puts his bowl and spoon in the dishwasher, and we're done. While it's obviously great for his own independence and confidence that we have taught him to do all that, the best part is LESS WORK FOR ME. Kid doing more = mum doing less. Win win.

Television is your friend. Archie watches Play School religiously at 4.30pm everyday. This is when I either a) get dinner ready, b) do washing or c) sit on the couch with him and mindlessly scroll through Facebook and Instagram. Do not be afraid of the television. It is also a great way to distract them so you can do stuff like cut their nails or secretly eat cake in the pantry.

Toys are overrated. Archie's favourite things to play with include an old vitamin container with a screw-on lid, an old nappy box turned into a car, three big empty buckets and a soup ladle. He spends ages in the bath trying to screw on the vitamin lid, makes a huge show of saying bye to everyone before getting in the cardboard car and going for a drive, can literally spend hours putting dirt and water and leaves into the buckets and rides the soup ladle like a hobby horse. I try to rotate through his proper toys pretty regularly and pack away the ones he isn't interested in, so he doesn't get overwhelmed with several million options. Less is more, my friends.

Chillax about food. I swing between freaking out about how much Archie eats and trying all sorts of things to get him to eat more veggies and less cheese, and just offering him normal food and leaving it at that. Believe me when I say that the latter is easier, more effective and less stressful. Kids are weird. They can go a whole day on a cheesestick and one Cruskit, then eat like a freaking 6-foot teenage boy the next.

When a kid is sick, just do what you've got to do. Watch TV all afternoon while lying on the couch together and drinking juice. Drive around for two hours so the sick kid can sleep in the car. Have really really long, hot, steamy showers together to melt the snot away. Co-sleep. Just do what needs to be done.

Step away from Dr Google. I really need to remember this when the new baby arrives. When Archie was teeny, I would lay awake at 3am frantically reading the entire internet looking for that once piece of advice that would magically make the baby sleep, slow down my ridiculous milk supply, clean my house and allow my just half an hour to not be needed by anyone. This benefits no one. If you need advice, ask someone who is either a) a qualified medical professional who you trust and like, or b) a fellow mother who you trust and like. Do not take parenting advice from anyone with a name like mommylyfe1042 on an internet forum. Actually, don't take parenting advice from anyone on an internet forum.

Get all the help. I honestly reckon that the whole 'it takes a village' thing is spot on. Children are not just the property of the mother and father, but belong to a whole community. The parents owe it to the community to share the kid around, and in turn the community helps out. I really struggled with asking for help (and still do), both emotional help and actual can-you-pick-up-some-dinner-on-your-way-over help, but trying to do everything on your own is a recipe for a meltdown, and at worst, PND-town.

Book launches, smoked oysters and a very cute foetus.

photoThat is one good-looking foetus.

I had the scan and got to look at this little prawn this morning. The ultrasound lady said 'Oh there's his little legs' and I freaked out but I think she just said it out of habit or something because it certainly didn't look like there was anything going on in the nether region. We don't want to find out what we are having but I have such a strong boy feeling. He/it is a good size and everything looks normal. It looked just like a baby (well, duh) and was sucking it's thumb and kicking it's legs.  I told Lee that it looks just like Archie. Probably because of it's big belly and button nose. Very cute.

So I've clicked over into the second trimester, which hopefully means some sort of energetic glow will overtake me soon. I freaking hope so, because I have seriously lost my mojo recently. All I want to do is lay on the couch eating smoked oysters and lemonade iceypoles whilst watching trashy shit on TV and scrolling through Pinterest looking at furniture I can't afford.

I am trying to restrain my whinging to a minimum and am sucking it up. This last weekend I had a wanky architecture networking thing, a book launch (you can see Lee's bearded head in the photo on that link, and half of my face) , a Mums Gone Wild night out, a baby shower, a fourth birthday and a family BBQ thing. I wore the exact same outfit - a rainbow-coloured sack dress from Sportsgirl which will last me well into the hundreth month of pregnancy - to every single event as they were all for separate groups of friends. Winning. I was pretty much comatose by Sunday night (getting home at TWO AM on Sunday morning didn't help. Such a rager I am.).

The book launch was for a book my gorgeous friend Tess wrote called Conversations with Creative Women Volume 2. We provided stools for the launch and as a raffle prize. So many talented, lovely ladies (and gents) in one room! Afterwards, Lee and I went to Brunswick Mess Hall for dinner (at 9pm! Usually I eat at 5:30 with Archie so this pregnant lady was crazed and delirious by the time our spring rolls arrived) which was super-yum. I never cook anything remotely Asian at home but pulled apart the yummo papaya salad and decided I'm going to have a crack at making something like that. God I'm exotic.

In other news, Archie has FINALLY decided to say "mum!" when he wants something instead of just clawing my leg and yelling "Arrrrrrrgggh!" You don't understand how exciting this is.

Knocked up.

YOU GUYS!

Some (most?) of you are probably aware, due to the wonders of Facebook, but I am duffed. Knocked up. Bun in da oven. I am due at the end of May, which makes me about 12 weeks pregnant now. Hence the recent lack of content on this here blog and the general radio silence.

I am super duper excited/terrified about doing it all again. If all goes to plan, the bub will be born a week before Archie's 2nd birthday. And obviously I will be claiming the 'two kids under two' tag for that one week, coupled with many solidarity fist pumps with other mums in the trenches.

One of my oldest friends had a beautiful baby girl last Friday. We visited them yesterday and good lord, I'm glad I am already preggers because I was SO CLUCKY. I forgot how teeny tiny newborns are (granted, Archie was never actually that tiny. He went straight into clothes meant for three month old babies and into nappies means for crawlers. What a unit.) and how magic and special the whole birth and motherhood thing is. WE MAKE PEOPLE.

So, back to me. I am beginning to think that perhaps I do not do pregnancy well. Yes, I have been feeling pretty bloody shite. There has been much vomiting. There has been gagging over prenatal vitamins. There has been a hacking cough which led to me begging a pharmacist for pseudoephedrine and then imaginary-punching her when she suggested I try honey and ice cubes. I have eaten more McDonalds than I care to admit, and a tin of pineapple in one sitting.

I also started going to horrendously expensive and painful preventative pilates classes to hopefully stop the godawful pelvic pain hell that I went through last time. Because no 175cm thick-thighed heavily pregnant woman should have to use crutches.

So I already have a ridiculously large and truck-like double pram purchased off eBay. Picking the pram up from the seller's house made it fairly obvious that a) I need a bigger car and b) I need to work on my upper body strength if I ever want to actually use said pram. I folded it down as best I could, then had to take out the carseat and fold down both back seats to fit the freaking thing into my teeny hatchback. The seller lady was trying to help as I was awkwardly slamming the boot on the pram and sweating and nervously laughing. That was not my best moment.

So, high fives for more tiny people in my life!

What I've Been... Gorillas, Mexican food and Mark Tuckey.

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Digging. His new favourite activity.photo 2

Our market stall!

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Archie picked these and gave them to me. Heart. Melted.

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Rocking new shades.

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Just casually eating a zebra's tail. What?

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Obviously the safari jeep at the lion enclosure was waaaay more interesting than the lions.

Not doing... blogging. I have been a bit under the weather for the past few weeks so instead of writing this here blog I have been watching crap TV, working, napping and hanging out with my little man. Also, eating lemonade icypoles by the box.

Visiting... the zoo. Last Friday my awesome playgroup did an excursion to the Werribee Zoo. I hadn't been since Grade Three and all I remember was that it was really far away from home and there were no tigers. But oh man, has the zoo lifted its game! I didn't take the pram which was great until the last hour when Archie was well overdue for a nap and just wanted to stop to look at every freaking leaf and bug and blade of grass in the whole park. A highlight was when he smooshed his face up against a slightly gross tank with a tree frog in it and blew raspberries and licked the glass. I'm sure the frog really enjoyed it.

But we saw gorillas and rhinos and giraffes and lions and hippos. It feels like you are in a cage instead of the animals, as they all just hang out together in massive enclosures. Very cool.

Making... a skirt. Oh lord. I have quite a few circle skirts which are really comfy and swirly and easy to wear, so I have attempted to make one. It looks kind of okay if you don't look at the stitching or the waistband or the hem too closely.

Enjoying... Archie at 16  months. So much attitude. He has started being purposely naughty to get attention, like climbing up on his little table and then yelling at me so I look at him. Or putting tiny toys in his mouth, then when I try and do 'Parenting' and take them off him, he will look around furiously for something else to put in his mouth. Like his potty. Or a drawer. I lose it and crack up laughing. God knows how I will cope when he is actually doing properly naughty things.

Eating... Mexican feasts. Lee and I went out for date night on Saturday to a Mexican place and it was TERRIBLE. Like probably worst than Taco Bill. Granted, I probably shouldn't expect much from a suburban Mexican restaurant with giant novelty margharitas and a slushy machine full of luke-warm pina colada mix, but seriously, the food was gross and took way too long. I mean, that kind of Mexican food is just assembling, rather than cooking, right? Beans, salsa, guac, tortilla, sour cream, cheese. Maybe some beef or chicken. Anyway, on Sunday night Lee made a proper Mexican feast, with proper guac and endless sourcream. And Doritos Nacho Cheese corn chips, obviously. So authentic! So Mexican! So yum!

Excited about... our new house. GOD I canna wait to get in there. We put the fascia on the carport on Saturday, while my dad dug out the front yard ready for the new garden and the paving. We have submitted the plans, so..... now we wait. And build all the bits that we can without a permit, which is not much.

Also excited about... marketing. We had a stall at Rose Street Artist's Market last Sunday. It was really fun! We sold a few bits and pieces, including a kid's table and stool set to a cute 19-month-old named Oscar who lives in Northcote. We haven't really marketed or promoted the kid's range much so it was great to see people raving over the pieces. Lots of people took business cards and photos, and one lady with a shop in South Melbourne is interested in stocking the kid's range. Very exciting/daunting!

Pondering... business growth. I read with interest an interview with Mark Tuckey on the Design Files, as we always refer to His Tuckeyness when trying to be proper Business People. As in, "Well, Mark Tuckey has Instagram and Rachel Castle did his logo.  AND he has two showrooms. Maybe we need a showroom? And a better logo?" So it was interesting to read that he employs 45 people and doesn't have a background in furniture making. That is kind of obvious in the slapped-together designs (I still love you and your ridiculously overpriced unfinished furniture, Tuckey), but it kind of shows that people will pay hundred of dollars for what are basically roughly-sanded tree stumps, if you have a crack marketing and sales team. I don't really know what the point of this is, but it made me think.

Also, we have a photoshoot of the whole damn range in TWO WEEKS which I am obvs going to facebook, instagram and blog the shiz out of. So you guys have that to look forward to!

What I've Been... Almond butter explosions, Fringe Furniture and new rides

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Eating... Brioche french toast with rhubarb and ricotta. What now? Obviously I didn't make it. Lee and I had a breakfast date to A Boy Named Sue and god knows I can't go past french toast EVER. It was gooooood. They don't have high chairs so I was eating it one handed and wrestling a hyped-up toddler determined to empty the sugar bowl on the floor. It was still totally worth it.

Reading... Last Man in Tower by Aravind Adiga. He also wrote The White Tiger, which I think won the Booker Prize a while ago. That book was like a punch in the face while eating garlic naan, but in a good way. This one is a bit slower, but it creeps up until you find yourself wanting to go to bed at 7.15 to read it.  And it totally makes me want to go back to India one day. God, that place is crazy.

Cleaning... An entire jar of almond butter out of my handbag. Last Friday we went to playgroup as usual, and after we left I stuck my hand in my handbag and pulled it out covered in sticky brown gunk. My first though was POO! before I realised it didn't stink like Archie's usual baby turds. It was, in fact, a jar of almond butter that had somehow come unscrewed in my bag and emptied over everything. And god knows I have a ridiculous amount of crap in my bag (this morning when I was stuck in traffic I cleaned out three bottles of bubble solution, a harmonica, a toy hammer, four unmatched baby socks, all the usual diary-keys-wallet crap, a mini first aid kit and a very old cheese stick that concerningly still looked edible).

And so obviously, I just cleaned off the important stuff then ignored the situation until I got home six hours later and it had concealed into a solid musty lump of toys, tissues, lip gloss and hairpins stuck together with almond butter. High five, mama.

Visiting... Fringe Furniture. On that same Friday as the above incident, we went to Abbotsford Covent with my mate Sam to visit another friend who was managing the Fringe Furniture exhibition. Lee put a piece in Fringe Furniture a few years ago, and it always has cool stuff made by super-talented peeps. I like that because most of the stuff is not really commercially viable, there is more of a focus on awesome techniques and well-designed pieces.

Archie loved the Play Cube by Little Green Room, a plywood cubby-type-thing which I realised is actually designed and built by one of my old lecturers. Very cool.

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I was pretty impressed with the series of gorgeous hand-veneered skateboards by a designer whose card I promptly lost. They would look great up on a wall as an art piece.

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Excited about... My brother has bought a new house not far from our new house, which is RAD because we can ride to each other's houses and I can eat pizza with him and his flatmates and he can come to our house and do the gardening. Yippee!

Building... Speaking of new houses, Archie has some new digs and a new ride he would like to show you. Check out the awesome dashboard detailing...

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What I've Been... Bacon choc-chip cookies, running and shoes.

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I bought these ducks off eBay a couple of years ago, and still love them.

Pondering... Balance. There are times when everything seems to tick along nicely, and times when I am running around like headless poultry, doing lots but achieving little. Currently, I am working two days a week, co-running a business (I really need to stop linking to that heinous website), looking after Archie, renovating and project managing the building of a house, taking up running (see below) and occasionally high-fiving my husband and seeing my mates.

I love having lots of things happening. I love being productive and getting shit done. I want to do everything, feel all the feelings and see all the things. When Hannah ranted at the hot random guy with the fancy house in Girls about how she just want to experience everything, I was nodding my head.

But sometimes I would like to take my son and my husbo and live on an island with no internet and no Moreland Council Planning Department and no Bunnings and no elections and no money and no worries.

Eating... So. Much. Food.  I wrote an article about Huxtaburger for work last Monday (despite never being there to eat. Welcome to the world of journalism) and haven't been able to get them out of my head since. So when I found myself in Smith Street last Thursday, 20 minutes early for a meeting and absolutely ravenous, there was only one option. And dear god,  it was good. I probably could have had two, as they are not huge, but my Spanx were already pushed to their limit and I feared my pencil skirt would erupt like a sausage casing on a juicy banger, so I had to be happy with just one burger.  The chips were average, but the burger was divine.

In keeping with my American-themed eating habits this week, last night I made bacon and choc chip cookies. OH YES I DID! I had seen these around, mainly in the Instagram feed of my other (favourite) husband Henry Wagons and honestly, what dish is not improved with an extra helping of bacon.

There was heaps of leftover bacon from the week-late Father's Day breakfast we had yesterday, so I chopped some up and whacked it in some cookie batter. Obvs I left some batter aside for my vegetarian husband and clearly separated the bacony and non-bacony cookies, so as not to blemish the purity of his meat-free digestive tract.

They were amazing. The bacon is not overwhelming, but adds a little bit of saltiness and that pungent flavour that can only come from cured pig. DO IT, you guys.

Beginning... Running. So I have finally started the Couch to 5k program, despite having it installed on my phone for the last month, staring at me accusingly every time I swipe the screen. I have completed Week One so far, and am loving it. Mostly I love how gloating and smug I get to be after I go for a run, and wear my stinky running gear for as long as I can, to maximise the amount of people who know that I have just been running. Because I am a runner, you guys.  I run three times a week for half an hour, then spend a couple of hours being smug while swanning around in my Lycra, stretching and drinking water while sighing about my sore hamstrings.

(Also, I am fully aware of the juxtaposition of me showing off about running, straight after I wrote about eating bacon cookies.)

Watching... The Newsroom, Season Two. Oh, Aaron Sorkin, how I love thee. Snappy dialogue, complex characters, suspense and heart-pumping drama. I don't usually like shows where I have to work hard to keep up, but this is pure gold.

Thinking... About the business. Since I last wrote about it, we have had a meeting with a designer about getting a proper website built, started planning a product photo shoot and consolidated the furniture range. I have a to-do list the size of my arm, but it feels GREAT to finally be heading in the right direction, instead of just shrugging at each other while staring blankly at our dwindling bank account.

Winning... SHOES! I have decided to be someone who enters competitions. Not to go out of my way or anything, but just to enter the competitions which float onto my radar and which I am interested in. And you guys, I WON SOMETHING. And not just something, but SHOES!!!!!!!

I have drastically cut down the amount of blogs I read, but still check in on Fat Mum Slim sometimes because I like her voice. Also, she just had a baby and I love me some newborn photos. Anyway, I entered a competition on her site to win a $250 voucher for Bared Shoes and I WON! I had heard of the shoes before, because they are designed by a podiatrist so are comfy but also look good (A delicate line to tread (ha, get it). I'm looking at you, Kumfs).

And to make matters even better, they have a shop a few doors down from my office in Armadale, so I don't need to buy online and then anxiously worry that I've ordered the wrong size. Winning.

Have a great week, peeps!

Caitlin Moran's Advice for her Daughter

This is so freaking hilarious, and poignant, and honest, and REAL. I do love Ms Moran.

My posthumous advice for my daughter

Via The Times

‘Nine times out of ten, you probably aren’t having a full-on nervous breakdown – you just need a cup of tea and a biscuit’

My daughter is about to turn 13 and I’ve been smoking a lot recently, and so – in the wee small hours, when my lungs feel like there’s a small mouse inside them, scratching to get out – I’ve thought about writing her one of those “Now I’m Dead, Here’s My Letter Of Advice For You To Consult As You Continue Your Now Motherless Life” letters. Here’s the first draft. Might tweak it a bit later. When I’ve had another fag.

“Dear Lizzie. Hello, it’s Mummy. I’m dead. Sorry about that. I hope the funeral was good – did Daddy play Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen when my coffin went into the cremator? I hope everyone sang along and did air guitar, as I stipulated. And wore the stick-on Freddie Mercury moustaches, as I ordered in the ‘My Funeral Plan’ document that’s been pinned on the fridge since 2008, when I had that extremely self-pitying cold.

“Look – here are a couple of things I’ve learnt on the way that you might find useful in the coming years. It’s not an exhaustive list, but it’s a good start. Also, I’ve left you loads of life-insurance money – so go hog wild on eBay on those second-hand vintage dresses you like. You have always looked beautiful in them. You have always looked beautiful.

“The main thing is just to try to be nice. You already are – so lovely I burst, darling – and so I want you to hang on to that and never let it go. Keep slowly turning it up, like a dimmer switch, whenever you can. Just resolve to shine, constantly and steadily, like a warm lamp in the corner, and people will want to move towards you in order to feel happy, and to read things more clearly. You will be bright and constant in a world of dark and flux, and this will save you the anxiety of other, ultimately less satisfying things like ‘being cool’, ‘being more successful than everyone else’ and ‘being very thin’.

“Second, always remember that, nine times out of ten, you probably aren’t having a full-on nervous breakdown – you just need a cup of tea and a biscuit. You’d be amazed how easily and repeatedly you can confuse the two. Get a big biscuit tin.

“Three – always pick up worms off the pavement and put them on the grass. They’re having a bad day, and they’re good for… the earth or something (ask Daddy more about this; am a bit sketchy).

“Four: choose your friends because you feel most like yourself around them, because the jokes are easy and you feel like you’re in your best outfit when you’re with them, even though you’re just in a T-shirt. Never love someone whom you think you need to mend – or who makes you feel like you should be mended. There are boys out there who look for shining girls; they will stand next to you and say quiet things in your ear that only you can hear and that will slowly drain the joy out of your heart. The books about vampires are true, baby. Drive a stake through their hearts and run away.

“Stay at peace with your body. While it’s healthy, never think of it as a problem or a failure. Pat your legs occasionally and thank them for being able to run. Put your hands on your belly and enjoy how soft and warm you are – marvel over the world turning over within, the brilliant meat clockwork, as I did when you were inside me and I dreamt of you every night.

“Whenever you can’t think of something to say in a conversation, ask people questions instead. Even if you’re next to a man who collects pre-Seventies screws and bolts, you will probably never have another opportunity to find out so much about pre-Seventies screws and bolts, and you never know when it will be useful.

“This segues into the next tip: life divides into AMAZING ENJOYABLE TIMES and APPALLING EXPERIENCES THAT WILL MAKE FUTURE AMAZING ANECDOTES. However awful, you can get through any experience if you imagine yourself, in the future, telling your friends about it as they scream, with increasing disbelief, ‘NO! NO!’ Even when Jesus was on the cross, I bet He was thinking, ‘When I rise in three days, the disciples aren’t going to believe this when I tell them about it.’

“Babyiest, see as many sunrises and sunsets as you can. Run across roads to smell fat roses. Always believe you can change the world – even if it’s only a tiny bit, because every tiny bit needed someone who changed it. Think of yourself as a silver rocket – use loud music as your fuel; books like maps and co-ordinates for how to get there. Host extravagantly, love constantly, dance in comfortable shoes, talk to Daddy and Nancy about me every day and never, ever start smoking. It’s like buying a fun baby dragon that will grow and eventually burn down your f***ing house.

“Love, Mummy.”

What I've Been...

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Thinking... About our business. Lee and I have so many ideas but suck at following through with anything. We tend to go crazy with sketching and ideas and making random prototypes, then fizzle out when we get to the stage of actually promoting anything or contacting stockists. SO. I am going to get all businesslady and crack the whip and get sorted. I am getting our heinous website fixed, sorting out some sort of branding and actually getting this baby making moolah.

I've been reading the Biz Ladies stuff and the whole CWC website to help find the next step. I have applied for a couple of designy markets, which will give us a deadline to aim for and therefore help kick our asses into gear.

Lee is so freaking talented and clever, and we have a fully-stocked woodworking workshop, so there really is no excuse to not be making awesome things that people want to buy. Thumbs up for getting out of my comfort zone, yo.

Enjoying... The SUNSHINE. God, how much better is everything when the sun is shining? It is impossible to feel bad when it's warm and sunny and happy outside. Archie can go pants-free (his default outfit) and get his bum out and about; stuff is growing in the garden; and I don't need to wear thermals to screw on roof sheets on our new shed.

Wondering about... The whole girls-with-tools  thing. On Saturday, I was in the front yard of our new house, wearing jeans, workboots, a work shirt and a toolbelt, demolishing the front fence and digging holes. I reckon every second person who walked past - and there were quite a few people, as it was the first warm day in aaaaages - made a comment.

One guy said "You are very good with a hammer!". One guy just looked at me and laughed. Two older men stopped in front of the house and watched me for a while. Um, awkward much? It wasn't a sexy thing, or an objectification thing, because I looked like crap and was fully covered up. I just know that if it was a guy doing the same thing, no one would have batted an eyelid.

This probably makes me sound like a massive wanker, or really up myself, or super-sensitive, or whatever. But I just know that it was weird.

Impressed by... My dad and my brother completed the Kokoda Trail last week. They got back on Saturday, several kilos lighter, more tanned and slightly gutsier. The photos were super spectacular and the whole trip sounded insanely tough.

So I think I have to wait a few weeks before going back to whinging about my sore hip and back in front of them.

Pondering... Facebook. I do love social media for the way I can stalk keep in touch with everyone. But between facey, Twitter, Instagram and this here blog, it is kind of overwhelming. Instagram and the twits are by far my favourite mediums. I know that I don't HAVE to keep updated with all of it, but the temptation is there and I sometimes really just want to close my facebook account completely. And move to a cave in the mountains, Thoreau-style.

Forget Me Nots #2

photo 2 photo 3 photo 1 (3) Little things I don't want to forget about Archie at this age...

  • The other day he made me sit on his little chair and fed me a plateful of strawberries that I had cut up for his snack. He giggled the whole time and then gave me a big drooly kiss once he'd finished smooshing them into my mouth.
  • He also likes to feed me his lunch, then try and eat it out of my mouth, using his own mouth. As in, he goes in for the full-on pash. That is as gross/cute as it sounds.
  • He has learned to bend over in the bath and blow bubbles on the water. Sometimes he gets excited and starts lapping at his bathwater like a kitten. Cute, but probably not the healthiest thing to do. He has also started doing it in the pool, which is preeeeeety gross.
  • His teddy, Brian, is his absolute best mate. He takes him to bed for every nap and all night. I give Archie a kiss and say "nigh nigh!" then do the same to Brian. He grabs Brian, throws him over his chest and give him a huge cuddle. When he is at daycare, he hold on tightly to him the entire time and does not let go.
  • I found these little gumboots at Big W that look like dragons. We randomly spotted them in the women's sock section and he grabbed them and was enthralled. I had to leave them in the bagging area at the self-serve checkouts because the stupid machine was beeping at me and they were just out of his reach. He threw a massive wobbly until I could finally pick them up and leave. He carried them the whole way home, then wouldn't take them off once they were on. He spent the afternoon wearing a nappy and his new gumboots, and proudly showed anyone who visited buy marching up, stopping still and pointing at his feet. So freaking cute.
  • A few weeks ago, Lee and I were home alone with Arch and decided to have a family pizza party as a special occasion. I am the mealtime Nazi and only let him eat from a proper bowl in his high chair or at his little table, so eating sitting on a rug on the floor was a pretty big deal. It was super-fun and I was feeling like mum of the year until he realised he could walk around while eating and proceeded to walk all over the pizza, leaving Napoli footprint all over the carpet.
  • He is really into people's backs at the moment, like he has just discovered that if he stands behind someone they can't see him. So he thinks it is hysterical to come up and poke me in the back, or give me a bear hug from behind while I'm sitting on the floor. And I obviously always act super surprised and he dissolves in a puddle of giggles.
  • He has a few clear words, mostly duck, dad, mum, hat, yum, cat, and things like that. His favourite by far is to yell DAT! while pointing at stuff. He gets up the morning and I carry him out and he begins the commentary of pointing at the window. DAT! The fruit bowl. DAT! The cutlery drawer. DAT! When he wants something he points and waves and shrugs in a huge performance shouting DAT! DAT!!! as if his whole life depends on me passing him a piece of my toast. What a cracker.

What I've Been...

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Thinking... About spew. A tummy bug has gone through our house this weekend, like a freaking spewy monster of doom and carpet stains. I'm fairly sure the little guy brought it home from somewhere, either the germ-crusted kids at daycare on Thursday or from the Brunswick Baths on Friday. He likes to open his mouth and gulp the pool water, which was cute the first time he did it but is now just gross and concerning. On Saturday Lee and I were getting ready to go out for a date night, and the little guy was being extra cuddly. He looked a bit ashen and sleepy, and I thought he was just tired as he hadn't had an afternoon sleep and had a runny nose. Ha! Once again my supposed in-built mummy instincts were waaaaaay off.

He pulled a face and then projectiled all over me and the carpet and the floorboards and himself. I swear to god, that kid can put away some food, and also apparently shoot it out of his face at at least 30km/h. I just screamed HELP! while the baby exorcist in my arms emptied his guts everywhere. Poor little guy. He just looked completely terrified by what was happening and stared at me like "MUUUUMMMM what is going on in my faaaaaacce!"

And then the next day, Lee started getting queasy and upchucked in the porcelain throne too. I didn't want to share a bed with his green, spewy body so slept upstairs. But then mum got it on Monday and was waylaid on the couch all day with a bucket. Fun times all round! Fingers crossed I manage to avoid it, but I think it is probably inevitable. Oh, joy.

Eating... Despite being temporarily set back by a spew monster, we managed to have a date night on Saturday at a new restaurant in Warrandyte called Altair. It was pretty swanky and yum. I don't know if it's the whole Masterchef thing or just being used to eating out in the city more, but we have totally turned into amateur critics. Which kind of sucks, because the food was great and the atmosphere was great and it is in Warrandyte, not a tiny underground den in the CBD with a known chef and a Good Food Guide listing, so we should really cut the place some freaking slack. But our conversation goes like this:

"This lamb belly is great, but the beetroot is undercooked. The chef looks young."

"I know. The white bean puree is the ravioli looks better than it tastes."

"Ummm, why would you fill up the water and not take the empty plates. Seriously? Seriously. "

"The waitress is, like, twelve. And this room is all hard surfaces. The acoustics are shite. They should have put panelling on the ceiling."

Clearly, we are experts in the restaurant trade. And also, slightly asshole-ish.

Smiling at... I found these super cute comics by Phillipa Rice via A Cup of Jo. Oh gosh, they had me all smiley and feeling lovey towards my Manfriend. I love things that highlight cute, everyday little moments. Lee and I have a thing where whenever we are watching a movie or reading a book and some hideous flesh-eating monster or fugly old man or a donkey pulling a face appears, he will nudge me and quietly whisper, "That looks a bit like you." Cracks me up every time.

So when I saw THIS I smiled. I wonder if I can buy it as a print?

Watching... Orange is the New Black. YOU GUYS. It is so freaking good. I am pretty into Girls and New Girl and that kind of thing, so this is right up my alley. I have watched four episodes already and am so hooked. It's funny and dramatic and light-hearted and gutsy.

Planning... What the hell we are going to do with our house. I will write more about this some other time, because it needs about seven thousand words dedicated to it.

Visiting... Our new tenants. We went to see them on Saturday to fix a door, and they are super lovely and awesome. Two rad chicks with three dogs and quite honestly the biggest couch I have ever seen. They invited us to a party that night, which we politely declined because, um, super awkward much?

Sewing... my triangle quilt! I am super dooper stoked. I made it all on my own, with no help (well, maybe just some tips here and there) from my quiltmaster mother. It is meant for Archie's bed but I might not let him touch it in case of random emissions (see above) so we'll see. But YAY! Now I've just got to finish my awesome bunting quilt.

Fourteen Months.

photo (1) Dear Archie,

I have been thinking a lot about your little brother or sister. I'm not pregnant, but your Dad and I are planning on it at some point. You will be a great big brother, doling out cuddles and sloppy pashes to the new baby. Reading books to him and shoving food in his mouth the same way you shovel food into yours, fistfuls of porridge squashed in with a sticky little hand.

The next baby will mark the completeness of our family. But you came first, Arch, and taught us how to be parents. You demanded it. We were cracked open, vulnerable and humble. You made us realise that it is never about us, and really, it never was. We are just the stars and moon, forever pulled into your orbit. Circling around you, watching your every move like paparazzi. Bound to you with ferocious potency.

I can't even fathom feeling the same way about another baby. But I know I will. I will expand like a galaxy, filling up all the space around you and your brother or sister. Stretching and exploding like stars so that everything you both touch and breathe and think and feel is powdered with the moondust of my fierce mama love. And as the four of us all grow up and old together, we will orbit around each other like a solar system, spinning and turning and learning. Pushing away and pulling back but forever connected.

I love you, darling boy.

Love Mum

On the end of breastfeeding.

DSC_0010 Archer has been slowly weaning himself for the last few months. He has been having just an evening feed since about his birthday on June 7. I always thought I would breastfeed until he was a bit older, purely because I was lucky to have no problems feeding him and I loved our special bonding time. But I guess 13 months is quite a while to nourish a human from your body. How amazing are women? Boobs are the most awesome things ever.

We have had a bedtime ritual of dinner, bath/shower, reading books whilst breastfeeding, then in bed. He has being doing this same routine for all his life, and is a great sleeper (finally! He was terrible for the first six months or so until we sleep trained). But recently he is much more interested in reading books than feeding, and has bitten me a few times. God, the biting is painful. I keep telling Lee "Imagine putting your penis into a venus fly trap!" Just for some context.

So last Monday night I just didn't feed him. Lee read him some books, offered some warm dairy milk in a cup, then put him to bed. We are at the point now where Arch will point at his cot when he wants to go to bed, then grab his teddy and hop in with no fuss. It felt bittersweet (I'M FREEEEEEEEEE!!! / Sob!) because he doesn't need me for food anymore, but I guess he hasn't needed me for food since he began wolfing down solids six months ago.

I'll miss the little noises he made while he was feeding, and the crazed little wide-eyed head shake he would do when attaching, like he hadn't eaten for days. The pain of the first few months (breastfeeding hurts at first! And I didn't even have mastitis or low supply to deal with.) and the relief of let-down after I hadn't fed him for a while. The convenience of feeding in shopping centres, waiting rooms, restaurants, cafes, trams, lying down in bed, while carrying him around and in the early days, feeding him in his sleep.

Thanks, little guy. It's been great.

Thirteen Months.

Dear Archie,

Ah, lucky thirteen. I am not sure at what point I stop counting how old you are in months, and just start going by years? Probably at about two years, when the dramatic changes slow down slightly. Or not. We'll see.

The four weeks since you turned one have seen lots of huge changes. You started walking, for starters. It is a game changer, the walking. You began the week after your birthday with a few wobbly steps in the kitchen, which your nan was lucky enough to see. From there, we practiced walking together, waddling from me to your dad to your nan and back. The rounds of applause and cheers you got fuelled you to keep going, until you were walking laps of the loungeroom totally unassisted. And now you are a pro, waddling around in your new velcro shoes, carrying nan's slippers over to her on the couch.

You have ramped up the chatting too, and from the moment you open your eyes in the morning, keep up a constant commentary all day of pointing and laughing and sadface and shouting. You still have a fierce love of bananas, and will point at a picture of a banana in a book and shriek excitedly. You sleep with your stuffed dog teddy that your nanma made you, named Brian. Last week, you decided to scare me by having a three and a half hour nap, and I went in to check that you were still breathing and found you totally asleep, holding on to Brian's foot.

We went to visit your uncle Chris yesterday and he gave you your first haircut. He is a proper hairdresser so it turned out much better than what I would have done. He trimmed off the shaggy mullet that you had going on, and all of a sudden you became a little boy. My little pink baby is now a chubby, noisy boy toddler who loves trucks and books, hates wearing a hat or holding my hand, and is most comfy wearing his trackies and hoodie.

I love you, little man.

Love,

Mum

Forget Me Nots.

20130703-141134.jpg There are so many little things that happen everyday with Archie that I don't want to forget. I write his monthly updates but want to keep track of all the weirdo habits, cute stuff and funny things that he does everyday.

Here are some things from right now that blow me away with love for the little guy...

  • He has just learnt to spit food. Not just blurt it out in a splurty raspberry, but actually shoot a piece of mandarin six feet across the room, waddle over and pick it up proudly, then spit it again. Clever.
  • The walking slays me with cuteness. He is basically all belly and giant head, so he sticks his tummy out , gets his balance, then gingerly stomps along, swaying from side to side while pointing in the direction he walks.
  • He is obsessed with my tummy. He will pull my shirt up, poke his fingers into my tummy rolls, grab handfuls and then push his face into my bellybutton and giggle. He is pretty into Lee's bellybutton too, because it is like a freaking cave. Archie can't see his own bellybutton due to his, um, girth, so he is pretty fascinated with everyone else's.
  • Mum's vacuum cleaner is probably his favourite thing ever. He calls it the Brmmm Brmmm and will waddle up to the laundry to pat it and press the buttons.
  • He loves cushions and pillows, and pulls them all down off the couch so he can roll around on the floor in them and pretend to go nigh-nighs.
  • When he really wants something, he scrunches his shoulders up to his ears, points frantically and yells "ta! TA!" with the most determined look on his face.
  • If I ask him where his eyes are, he does this weird squinty blinking thing and cracks up laughing. Mental.

One.

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Archie turns one today. And I am feeling suprisingly nostalgic and emo about it all, so obviously I wrote a freaking behemoth of a post about it. Lee and Mum must be getting sick of me saying "And this time last year, I started having contractions! And now, I was vomiting two-minute noodles in the shower whilst singing the alphabet! And now, I was waddling through the foyer of the Mercy screaming and banging on the walls!"

Oh, the joys.

We have had a lovely day. The little guy was spoilt with new toys and had his first proper taste of cake with icing, so henceforth will not want to eat anything ever again besides cake. And bananas, because I'm pretty sure that if he had the chance, he would literally trade me in for a never-ending banana, such is the depth of his banana-ey love.

Oh, little man. You are my best thing. I know that every mother feels like this about their child, but, darling boy, the world shifted slightly the moment you were born. The moment that we separated and you stopped living inside of me and instead breathed and blinked all on your own. All that breathing and blinking lead to smiling and laughing, then rolling and crawling and sitting and waving and talking and standing and now, today, turning one year old. I feel as though I gave birth to you just yesterday.

But even though we are separate bodies, you are still part of me, little guy. You've got the bellybutton to prove it. You will read this one day when you're a teenager, taller than me, and roll your eyes and be all like, "Ugh, mum! Seriously." But it's true. I grew you inside of me and you are my precious extra limb, off into the world, and I will keep building walls to protect you, knowing that you will tear them down, asserting yourself, showing the world who you are.

Over the past year, you have grown into a sassy, cheeky, crazy little guy full of personality and giggles and noise. Your every emotion is plastered across your chubby face and you can switch from glee to an epic chin-wobble sadface in seconds and then back again. I am living in your world now. We both are, me and your dad. Your needs dictate the rhythms of our days and nights. You are my main topic of conversation and the first thoughts that run through my mind upon waking are of you - and not just because you also serve as my alarm clock.

You help to get yourself dressed and can feed yourself pretty much independently. I was sure you would be walking by now, but you crawl like a demon and until you can run everywhere, crawling is still the fastest way to get around. You are constantly busy, frantically flinging every magnet off the fridge then chasing the cat then trying to get under the couch then 'reading' a book at lighting speed then then then... You know when you see someone walking a dog, but it is clear that really the dog is walking the owner? That is you and me, little man. I am scurrying after you in the wake of the chaos, mumbling a chorus of "Careful!", "Watch your head", "Uh-UH!" and "No, no NO...oh, okay."

Your fearlessness scares me a little bit, but also makes immensely proud. You are ALL man and love to climb and throw and dig, but you have a tenderness and softness as well. You melt into me and hold on tight to my neck, your peachy breath tickling my ears. No one has ever made me feel as loved as you do. I hope you keep that softness and tenderness, little man. Boys who are comfortable being both tough and tender are a rare breed.

You can say Dave and Layla and Dad and Mum and Nan and ball and meow and book. Your favourite word is "Ah-da," which can mean "Can you please pick me up now Mummy dearest?" or "I am so happy right now!" or "Can you please pass me one of those delicious bananas?" depending on the emphasis and urgency of the situation. Speaking of bananas, we have had to hide them as you turn into a crazed man when you catch sight of one, hurling yourself out of the highchair or my arms to lunge at the fruit bowl. "Ah-da! Ah-DA! AH- DAH!!!!!!!!!" and then just start shrieking like a fire alarm until we give in to you.

Eating is still probably your bestest, most favourite thing ever. And God damn it, can you put away some food. You shove handfuls of Weetbix, mashed potato, zucchini fritters, toast, cat fur, carpet and soil into your gob indiscriminately. There is no fear of food and no concern about whether or not you'll like something. It all gets shoved in first, then if it is not to your particular tastes (I'm looking at you, avocado) you carefully take it out of your mouth with a grimace and fling the offending mouthful to the floor, while shooting me a look of pure contempt and disgust. Meals can take a while, because I invariably have to prepare a second dish after you polish off the first in 0.6 seconds and start flapping your arms and legs in unison like some sort of wind-up toy, while yelping and looking at me pleadingly like you have never been fed before ever, and are wasting away by the second.

I have SO MANY FEELINGS about your birthday. I am so proud of you and thrilled that we have made it this far. I love the little guy that you are becoming. But part of me misses the teeny, rumpled, pink newborn that you were. Tiny fingers balled into fists. Chunky thighs and ears like shells. Your little snuffly snores and soft fingernails. I miss all that. It's bittersweet, as I imagine all your birthdays will be.

I was a mother long before you arrived, but over the past year you have taught me how to parent. How to be YOUR mum. How to wrestle you into a nappy and how to muster endless patience and cook mush and read alphabet books and sing 'The Wheels on the Bus' in the car for a whole hour because sometimes the only thing that makes you happy is your mama singing loudly and out of tune about the babies on the bus going waa waa waa. You taught me that when you have sore teeth and a tummyache all you want to do is sit on my lap, hold my hand and watch Play School. We have grown up together, you and me.

Happy birthday my little prince. I love you, always.

Mum

x

Herding cats

Play School watching face Chubby grubby little paws

The face of an almost-one-year-old

I am writing this in my parent's study in my childhood home in Warrandyte. It is actually really good living here (I'm not sure why I am surprised). I get help with looking after Archie, Lee is closer to work, it is a bigger, warmer, cleaner house and mum and dad eat like freaking rabbits so Lee and I will probably lose like 15 kilos each.

We finally moved all our crap here. Except for Dave and Layla. They are being cheeky little mofos and refused to get in the cat cage, or even come within ten feet of me yesterday. So I have to go back today and lure them inside, then wrestle them into the cages. Awesome.

Mum has been looking after Archie a lot for the past few days while I was packing/unpacking/cleaning/herding pain in the ass cats and God I missed him. He has pretty much stopped breastfeeding during the day and only feeds before bed and occasionally during the night. I will write about all this one day soon. The whole ending-breastfeeding thing is so tricky and rife with mixed-up feelings.

Archie turns one on Friday. I have SO MANY FEELINGS about it all. We are having a little party on Saturday and I have begun preparing the cake extravaganza. Oh yes. Thursday is dedicated to cake-fest, Friday is his playgroup party with Cake #1 and then Friday afternoon is preparing for Cake #2.

Art for Archie.

For the little guy's first birthday, we didn't want to get him more toys or clothes or books or STUFF.  He already has a lot of toys and clothes and blocks and books and cute outfits and sheets and stuffed toys and random plastic things and trucks and instruments. So we decided to get him some art. Nothing too fancy, just something that will hang on his wall from now until he moves out at the age of 35, into a granny flat in the backyard because I, ah, have detachment issues. We don't have tons of cash at the moment (hi there, two mortgages!) so I don't want to spend a million buks either. Anyway, I have been scouting my fave local artists and illustrators and nothing eye-popping has jumped out at me, so I checked out the awesome site Signed and Delivered, which sells arts by local artists at relatively affordable prices.

These are on the shortlist:

That Was Radio Clash by Boo

You're the Anchor by Kelly AllenBefriend Your Blues by Eddy Sara

I also love this Ghostpatrol print:

And this one by Matte Stephens at Outre:

Mother's Day

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Yesterday was Mother's Day. It was my first Mother's Day, so it was kind of a big deal. When I was little, I would go to the Mother's Day stall held in the multipurpose hall at my primary school and get mum a flowery mug stuffed with cheap lollies, or some stinky soap in the shape of tiny blue shells, wrapped in an embroidered hanky. I'm pretty sure I never gave much thought to the meaning behind it. All it meant was that mum got breakfast in bed and a present, then she fed us and cleaned up and loved us just like any other day.

And yesterday? It was kind of the same. Lee made bacon and caramelised walnut pancakes, and I got a card from Archie. It was a lovely morning.  Then came the flurry of snot and tears and nappies and blocks and  tiny spoons and socks like every other day. And I realised that this minutiae is the real mothering stuff. Syringing baby Panadol into a sobbing mouth at 3am with one hand. Huge snotty smiles. Staying close to me in a crowd. Finding six plastic spoons and a wooden cow in my handbag. Googling 'baby stomach rash' during lunch.

I read somewhere that the original meaning of Mother's Day came about when an American suffragette founded a special day for mothers to oppose war. That woman, Anna Jarvis, gave birth to eleven children, but seven died in childhood. Imagine. How could you not be a heap on the floor, broken into a million billion pieces forever. It kills me that there are mothers walking around everyday who are grieving babies who didn't make it, mothers with chronically ill babies in the NICU, mothers who have had nine miscarriages, mothers whose bodies can't bear children, mothers who desperately want a baby but haven't met the right person. This whole womanhood gig is filled with heartache and pain and love. The collective love and pain and anxiety of every other mother who has had a human being pulled or pushed from her body. Breathed in the scent of her baby. Grieved for a baby. Soothed a sobbing child in the middle of the night.

I missed my mum yesterday. She is only in Singapore, and gets back on Wednesday, but I still missed her. And I thought of all the mums who are missing their own mothers on mother's day. Even though my mum was only a phone call away, I felt untethered and frantic and uncomfortable. I hope that Archer can always find my legs in a room to bury his face in, will call me with happy or sad or no news, will feel the sheer brute strength of my love and the collective love of all the mothers in the world. I hope that he can tether himself to me and know that he will always be able to find his way home.

Photos by The Itchy Eyes

Legs eleven.

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Dear Archer,

ELEVEN MONTHS. How did we get here?

You have assembled quite the bag of tricks now. Waving (usually after the person has left, but hey, you'll get there), blowing on hot food, standing wobble-legged on your own, doling out sloppy kisses and feeding yourself. You love to clamber up for cuddles and drag over toys or rocks or food to show me, offering them up with sticky hands, a gummy grin and stream of drool.

You are a champion sleeper, my boy. Hopefully that sees you through to adulthood and you don't jolt awake at the tiniest sound or lay wide-eyed in the wee hours next to your wife or husband and yearn for sleep. You go to bed at 7pm on the dot, and we don't usually hear from you until about 5.30am when you dad's alarm wakes up the whole house.

And nice work on the naps too, little man. Your morning sleep is a rock-solid hour and a half or sometimes two hours, and I am an efficiency machine during that time - writing, studying, cleaning, showering, eating, cooking and peeing on my own for the last time until your dad comes home. You usually have another hour or so in the afternoon to get you through the dinner/bath/books/boob/bed routine, then pass out in your cot, sleepy-eyed and floppy.

The epic bread-bun arms are still there, but you have lost the chunky baby fat and are becoming a little boy. Your hair is getting so long that it tickles your ears and you swat madly at it with flailing arms, before sticking a finger in your ear like a crazes archaeologist  And still just three teeth, but those three teeth are big and white and can do damage. You have the appetite of a burly 17-year-old teenager, and love eating sultanas, porridge, Cruskits, broccoli, chicken pieces, apples, yoghurt and blueberries. Yesterday I was feeling virtuous and made a dozen veggie rissoles that I thought would be your lunch for the next week- until you ate six of them in one sitting.

All the food is fuelling your mad race-crawling adventures around the house, thud-clunking with a toy in one hand, pulling yourself up on the couch and snuffling into the cushions in a frenzy of adrenaline. Any time you see something soft on the floor - a pillow, my handbag, a teddy, the cat - you dramatically put your head down to go nigh-nigh, and then crack up laughing. You still get a bit shy around new people, and prefer to stay close to me, but once you warm up will climb up on anyone's lap for a cuddle.

The next update will be your one year. I can't quite believe we survived this long, you and me. But what an adventure it has been.

I love you, little man.

Love,

Mum