Sunday, December 16, 2007

on the road

Well, we're home from our campervan travels, wet and dirty, and slightly in need of a holiday. These pics show Ivy out to dinner in Cooma, camping and at her last music class of the year, just being at one with the bubbles.

We spent a couple of days in Charlottes Pass for a geek retreat with Keith's workmates. It was a beautiful Alpine summertime scene: lots of wildflowers and stark, spectacular scenery. Ivy the champion rock-eater was in her element. Then we headed in through Braidwood and up the coast home, sleeping in a couple of National Parks. Eventually we got rained out. We got a couple of walks in and played on the beach with Ivy but mostly we hung out in bed in the back of the van watching Ivy divebomb around the mattress and climb us both. She loves to pinch Keith's nipples hard, like they are chocolate drops. He stops her and says 'No!, shaking his she's learned to do it and shake her head at the same time.

Of course, we packed the wrong clothes, in standard holiday style. For the beach... and not the snowfields. Ivy's one sloppy joe lasted through several meals during which Ivy would perform her favourite trick (blowing food out of her mouth like a tiny volcano). She got a bit of a cold, so with her runny nose, dirty face, filthy top and flies on her eyes, she looked like the front cover of a governement health pamphlet entitled 'The Future Of Our Nation?'

Keith and I had a good time but our usual campground antics- playing guitar, reading books, drinking by the fire, were all a bit stymied by the fact that we couldn't really put Ivy down anywhere. Camping with a baby, we've decided, is hard work.
Luckily, its nearly Christmas!! Merry merry Chistmas everybody, and big love and kisses to you all.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

paws for thought

Critters are emerging from the cracks of my life. Firstly, I've been finding poo pellets around the kitchen. I'm almost sure it isn't Keith and I know they're not mine. I like to think they belong to the Kitchen Rabbit, who hops around at night while we sleep, just being cute. Not to rats, or anything, who might drag thier slimy tails creepily across, I don't know, say, the BABY's FACE. I am cleaning up a lot. I will move onto the next phase when I see a tail - a little white fluffy one.

Human critters in the guise of ex-boyfriends are also appearing- three in the last month. Two 'casual' texts and one Facebook stalk. It's not spring. Is some form of morphic resonance occuring in the minds of men?

Stay alert, sisterhood.

Friday, November 30, 2007

what a Ruddy great weekend

Oh frabjous day!

I have made fire!

I can jump puddles!

Insert your own yelp of excitement here. To plagiarise Bianca Martin (she won't notice, shes' just completed 48 hours of labour)... It's about Ruddy time! Jubilation and champagene all round.

It's been a while, but funny things have happened. Here are two: 1. In Canberra I overheard a young male student tell his friend 'I totally have to get hold of some mescaline so Josh and I can take a spirit walk.' 2. In Thirroul last week an otherwise unremarkable nanna had made the bizare sartorial decision to team a t-shirt with her slacks and Dr Scholls that read in giant fluoro letters 'Me Love You Long Time'...Oh dear. You had to ask yourself how much time she had left to love in.

Saw Sam last week in Canowindra. Great to play babies. Ivy didn't cry too many times at being climbed by Isabelle. I surfed their cable TV and felt a bit sick after over-indulging in 'The Girls of The Playboy Mansion', 'Doctor 90210' and 'What Not To Wear'. We made the 5-hour drive home on Sunday to get in twenty minutes before the neighbours were arriving for a party. Threw some pate on a plate, blew the dust off the wineglasses and we all proceeded to get quickly pissed in honour of Kevin.

Ivy dislikes sleeping currently. We hope it will pass. Otherwise she is growing like a weed, loves to turn the lights on and off and can obey the command 'put it on your head.'

This week we welcome another two lovely baby boys - Xavier and Auden. Big congratulations to Cindy, Pete, Bianca and Rich.

Tonight I'm cooking a zucchini pasta fresh from the garden and we've got Knocked Up on video - we laugh every time we remember David Stratton's review of it on the Movie Show. He was very disgruntled as he complained 'Throughout the whole film, Katherine Heigl never took her bra off.'

Saturday, November 10, 2007

tomatoes, socks and politics

Babushka and Pop have just left after a short visit. Their round trip to see Sam, Chris and Isabelle in Canowindra and then us on the way home now takes about a week, once they stop at every junk-shop, Vinnies and gourmet deli on the way.

Ivy loved all the extra love and attention and we had a great time planting out the tomato seedlings - 20+ pots of lovely Romas. I hope they all survive long enough for me to get bottling.

I got a giant tick on my neck which is still throbbing like a bastard though.

What else to report? Ivy went to her first political forum - see photo. She certainly looks happier than the local Greens candidate. I went out for a night on the town to celebrate Lucys medicine exam results and had a wild time with all my buddies, which was so good for the soul.

Pregnancy and Birth magazine have commissioned 3 articles - great news. I have been feeling like I would never work again.

Keith is in great form; playing the piano and talking to himself as I write. He woke me up chattering loudly in his sleep last night... so very funny. Ivy is full of beans as always. She's started music classes which the other kids seem to get more than she does. While they were drumming and dancing along, she was trying to pull off and eat her own socks.

the passions of ivy

When not crawling around the floor with Mummys bra, Ivy is obseessed with socks - pulling them off, eating them, putting them in the mouth of others and on her head.

Ivy is madly in love with Keith, throws herself out of my arms to get to him, and races off down the hallway at top speed if the baby-gate isn't up, to crawl into his office and gaze lovingly up at him.

kitchen cupboards
These are the Forbidden City to Ivy - if a door is open her eyes widen with the thrill of exploring new territories, and she races acoss the floor to them. Even though they are always closed before she gets there, she doesn't get upset - just sits back as if to say 'Next time, you're mine...' and then returns to her Tupperware drawer, where she keeps all her treasures (dummies, orange segments, bits of fluff and socks).

the metal thing on the supermarket trolley
Ivy loves to chew the sprocket that connects the pay-trolleys to the line. If stopped, she is furious. If I can't distract her with other objects, I try and clean it with a baby-wipe and let her chew, avoiding the glares of horrified old ladies.

astrid the peace loving dog
Made by Aunty Sammy, Astrid is Ivy's sock puppet bedtime toy. When Ivy goes to bed now, she does laps of her cot for up to an hour; Astrid in one hand and sock in the other, until she finally wears herself out and sleeps where she drops.

Last, and most importantly, Ivy loves her books, especially Spot Goes To The Farm, and the ratty, single page left of the board book featuring babies doing different things - babies take a bath, babies play with toys, etc. She will carry it everywhere and brandish it above her head excitedly. "Check it out, Mum! They're babies! And they're in the bath! Babies in the bath, look! LOOK!'

Monday, November 5, 2007

new photos of naughty buttons

The camera is back from its lengthy holiday, and so here are some new pics of Ivy, Isabelle and Babushka from our shopping trip last week. Now there are about 5 hours distance between us all, the meetings are very special. Isabelle is bigger and stronger than Ivy, who is in the bottom 10th percentile of her height/weight division. Funny, she doesn't feel like a featherweight after I've picked her up for the fortieth time in a day.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

great moments in housework

The other night I dreamed that I was working at a car wash and trying to clean all the cars with bicarb and white vinegar. You may be unsurprised to hear that my customers were not happy. Clearly an anxiety dream...and about the housework.

What has become of me?

The housework has piled up around my ears this week because of the rib-and-dignity fracturing incident at Ivy’s birthday party last weekend.

Hepped up on goofballs, and unable to do much but make little yelping noises, I wondered a few things: A) Will ‘Mum, you are soooooooo embarrassing’ actually be Ivy’s first words? B) when you can’t lift, bend or breathe without squawking, how can you clean the house? which leads me to C) when did housework take over my life?

It doesn’t seem so very long ago that I lay in the bath eating chocolate and discussing the 2006 runaway publishing success ‘Speed Cleaning’ with Keith. It features, amongst other tips, how to clean oil paintings with female urine. While the washing up languished in the sink, we discussed the science of housework with interest. I thought we were on the same page until a few days later when Keith commented that maternity leave was going to be great considering that you could, after all, clean the house in 15 minutes a day. Only weeks away from giving birth and facing a profound shift from work-life to domestic life, I looked at him in horror. Was it starting already? That whole man-woman, me-fry-bacon, you-hunt-pig thing? Even from Keith, the man who says the novel The Women’s Room changed his life? Later, he said he was joking, but I was there. We agreed to differ, just like on who dumped who in 2002 (hey! catchy!)

As I write this I’m looking around Keiths office. He is a full-time academic, and spends half his week in this room, which currently houses a desk covered in wooly socks, a pile of bedding from the last time we had people to stay over, an empty cardboard box, an overflowing suitcase, a wet towel, a pile of washing and a pile of shoes. His Canberra office, where I have no jurisdiction, is even worse – last time I went down I puzzled at the collection of thirty or forty orange juice bottles in his in-tray. ‘What?’ he responded defensively. ‘That’s my recycling!’

Since Ivy came along, and I stopped working in order to burn the home fires, there’s been a profound shift in our domestic arrangements. Keith is working harder than ever to keep us stocked in bicarb and vinegar, and I have taken over most of the housework and the care and maintenance of the tiny leader of the opposition.

Housework is a bad profession. It has its small satisfactions – a fresh tea towel, a pile of folded washing, talk-back radio, the gleam of a washed floor, the rewards of a full pantry or a well-cooked meal. Caring for a baby is full of small satisfactions too – games and giggling, watching new connections spark, the warm intimacy of sharing a routine.

However, unless you are one of a set of Mormon wives, or blessed with multiple personalities to keep you company, running a house is a lonely job. When you go about your daily duties, you are on your own. There is no team to support you in tackling a really bad nappy, no supervisor to discuss other ways in which you might have steamed the pumpkin, no drinks at the end of a good week of sorting out the wardrobe.

I used to work as a sex educator. We didn’t eat as well, and the oven never got cleaned, and certainly Keith had to do more of his own washing, but the post-work conversation was much more interesting. ‘Guess why syphilis is on the rise?’ or 'I got a condom stuck during a demonstration on the banana penis today' beats ‘Guess what we’re having for dinner?’ Hands down, every time.

This new relationship dynamic is a work in progress. We are both still working, just the jobs are different. I looked up ‘happy housewife’ on the net and ended up at a site that declared passionately ‘help us take our conservative values to the White House’. My old-school feminist laptop shut down in protest. I am not sure where my templates are. I will never manage to be the 50’s model that freshened her makeup and rehearsed interesting snippets of conversation before her husband came home. (And not about sexually transmitted infections). I do try to make sure the undies that hold back my ponytail are from the clean pile, and aim to get my legs waxed every solstice. I have a supportive and thoughtful partner in Keith, who is navigating with me this new relationship terrain. At the end of the day, we both clock off and share the care of our little one. And when she goes to bed, we will talk about academic politics (for him) and bicarb soda and radio moments (for me). And after that, we will talk about how much my rib hurts.

Monday, October 15, 2007

ivystock 2007

Ivy's first birthday party on the weekend was swinging good fun. We scored fantastic weather - not too hot, not too windy, and heaps of Ivy-lovers turned out to celebrate her first year of life. Keith put on his engineers hat (and love beads) and constructed a tent city on the hill above Sharkies Beach and we hung out there, an amorphous, teeming mass of infants and grandmas, hippies and her-pies (although that didn't come out right) all playing pass-the-parcel, pass-the-baby and pass-the-beers.

Thanks to everybody who made the big drive down to spend time with us. It was a freakin' way-out, groovy party, and just what we needed to set us up with some warm, lovely memories as we head into what will be surely be a nasty, evil election campaign full of naughty buttons behaviour.

The women's tug of war got serious. Even though we cheated and lost (take note, kiddies), I injured myself bouncing off some spiky bit of Leane. It doesn't hurt all the time - only when I breathe. I took my foolish injury up to the hospital yesterday. The doctor thinks that although the x-rays were clear there is 'probably' a rib fracture, in the same way that I 'probably' only have 3 or 4 years before Ivy develops a conscious sense of shame and realises how embarrassing her mother is.

Click here for my Herald story - it come out today.

If the link doesn't work (IT, like motor function, is not in my skillset)- try searching the SMH site under 'composting toilet'...

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

beautiful ivy

Here Ivy shows off her waving skills, crawls with cuzzy Isabelle and shares lunch with her buddy Chelsea.

Skills wise, I'm proud to brag she is an early pointer - a communication tool babies usually grasp later. Also, from a very young age she has laughed at the incongruous -believe it or not, a baby milestone. Perhaps she will be a especially vivacious Sale of The Century spokesmodel.

However, both times I've let Ivy crawl around without a nappy recently she has laid a big egg on the floor. Today was bad - when I noticed it, she was also eating something with a naughty look on her face. I don't want to follow the train of thought any further.

She may be an accomplished pointer and humourist, but also a poo-eater.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

wollongong, forgive me

Wollongong,I feel very guilty about yesterdays attack on you. I feel like I got a cute puppy for Christmas and then kicked it the first time it pissed on the carpet.

Lets make up, Wollongong. Look, Keith doesn't wash his hair and the last time I shaved under my arms was in 2005. I've got no right to be dissing your trackie dacks and daytime drinking.

I think yesterdays rant was a reaction to the hour I spent in the HCF office, Wollomgong. Ivy cried while the one-finger-typing, supercilious assistant slowly found inventive new reasons to dismiss every medical receipt I had collected over the last year.


No excuses, Wollongong.

Lets try again.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

i hate wollongong

Yesterday Ivy and I reluctantly travelled to Wollongong to perform one of those painful and ultimately unsuccessful errands that make up some of the 10, 000 sorrows in the Korean proverb on life. There are 10, 000 joys as well. But you wouldn't know it in Wollongong.

What a hole.

Every kid looked like they had been raised on trans fats and high-fructose corn syrup; every teenager looked on the verge of a pregnancy featuring Holiday 50's and no ante-natal appointments, and every adult looked terminally ill, criminal or both. Was there a bogan festival I didn't know about? Was it just my mood? Is Wollongong really a circle of Hell that Dante missed?

I hope that I have just been chancing upon the badlands and that theres a whole other Gong full of shiny, happy people without shifty eyes and skin fungus. I was relieved to get back to my own burg where the kids might have worms but at least they eat brown bread.

In others news, Ivy has fallen in love with her jar of nappy rash cream and is only happy when fondling or chewing on it. Yesterday I went into her room to put some clothes away. She had a sudden spasm of joy that nearly made me drop her; arms and legs flailing with excitement - she had spooted the Sudocream on the changing table.

Also, my article is out in this months Australian Parents and I sold a story to the Herald this week, for their new Eco section. And we dug a pumpkin patch.

Congratulations to Nikki and Brian who have brought little Ethan William into ther fresh air this week. Welcome to the world Ethan!

Friday, September 28, 2007

house and garden

Some more of Brycos photos while our camera is still in hospital. Here is the groaning orange tree, with half its fruit still on. This bohemoth is 80 years old and delivers scores of kilos of oranges. I am hunting down recipes for marmalade and orange liquer but not sure how many I'll get to this year.They are Ivy's favourite thing to chew on while she's teething.

Looking back at the house to the Hills Hoist you can see the rosemary bush that marks the edge of the vege garden.

The beautiful Ivy, of course, mid bum-shuffle, and one of Keith's of a master craftsman. If you could see the details you may be moved to tears, knowing the beauty of what Man can create given time, brains and just a touch of Aspergers. (Keith thinks this should read 'just a touch of class'. I stand corrected).

GetUps climate change ad

GetUp is trying to raise enough funds to get this ad on the air - watch and donate at the end if you like.

Friday, September 21, 2007

keith and jen in germany

Some photos from keith's visit with his sister, Ivy's lovely Aunty Jen, in Bavaria. They caught up for a few days after the Milan conference.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Limoncello and The Day After

Even our hair looks hungover in this photo. Scientist Bryce came to stay on the weekend, armed with a bottle of Italian Limoncella. Excited to have big-person company I drank much of it and tried to start a debate on what form the final apocalypse would take. It pains me a little to remember trying to discuss peak oil and end-of-days while Keith and Bryce, eco-scientists both, sort of looked a bit embarrassed for me and nodded encouragingly.

As I write Keith is playing blues on the piano while Ivy shakes her head like a dog (blow, cat, blow!)

Friday, September 14, 2007

it's all my side of the bed, mummy

Well, the big Daddy is home, safe and well, if jetlagged and smelly. He's off again this morning to Canberra- but just for one night, and then home for a week.

Ivy has been sick all week with a yukky virus - erupting a bit (both ends), really lethargic and sporting a scary florid rash. There have been a couple of trips to the medical centre, including one where we were given instructions on how to extract a urine sample from a baby. (Lets just say it involves a bag with sticky edges and a lot of luck - and we never managed it). The nurse instructing us had the following exchange with Keith:

Nurse - So you just need enough wee to cover the base of the specimen jar - not heaps.
Keith - OK, so just cover the bottom?
Nurse - (leaning in with the earnestness of the health professional) Ah, well, actually there are three holes. You want to make sure you get the bag over the top two, and then...
Keith - Um, I get the anatomy... I meant the jar...

How we laughed.

Ivy has taken to sleeping in our bed while she's been sick - no fun for us. She likes to curl in close to me, driving me closer and closer to the edge of the bed, or else spread out sideways, head in Keith's belly and feet kicking me. In her first few feverish days, she was waking me every 45 minutes, and wouldn't let me turn the bedside light off, so I would spend all night contorted uncomfortably under lights, with frequent kickings. Geez I felt for David Hicks.

new habits:

1. Baby sleep cycles last about 45 minutes, and Ivy used to wake up, grizzle and squirm for a while and often go back to sleep. Now she's taken to sitting up in her cot after each short sleep, but can't get down again, so stares at the door, or faces forlornly into the corner and whimpers until somebody appears to rescue her.

2. I don't know if it's a Piagetian developmental stage or a complex manipulational tool but Ivy has started throwing everything off her high chair tray and then peering over the side at it for long periods. Like a dog with a bone, there's method to her madness though - yesterday an ominous silence led me to her sitting on the floor chewing on a piece of vegemite sandwich she had 'stored' under the couch.

3. Mimicking coughing - an odd and impressive trick Babushka has taught her. This increases the total of conversational tools at Ivys disposal to: brrmmmmm brmmmmm, dadadadada, cough cough, ai-ai-ai-ai, and applauding herself.

In short, shes nearly back to her bouncy, bonny self. And as soon as we catch up on the sleep, the washing and the gossip, Keith and I will be too.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

only one more sleep

Missing Keith so much. Here's a couple of photos from the last week for him to check out in his Hong Kong layover. Nikki took the park ones at a picnic last week and the moody Joplinesque number is by the talented Shirin - how lucky I am to have a photographer buddy.

The garden is looking good after lots of rain. Planted some cucumbers, more spinach, more lettuce, and I'm seeding out tomatos, eggplants and capsicum.

Tomorrow night the great unwashed one is home - we may never let him go away again.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

hi daddy

While Keith is in Italy, Ivy and I are staying in Turramurra, which, with the arrival of Sam and Isabelle, has very quickly become a crazy baby-hotel at high season.

Mum and Sam went to the shops looking at wedding shoes (just like de-facto shoes but less slutty) and I had the babies alone for an hour. It was mayhem. Sam came home as I was changing Ivy's nappy on the floor and holding Isabelle up with one hand while singing maniacally 'We don't hit or grab our friends...(doodah, doodah)...' When Ivy wasn't taking Isabelles dummy out of her mouth and sucking on it, Isabelle was taking big gummy bites out of Ivy's face.

Mum and Dad have a 70 kilo retriever called Max, a gentle giant who has been forced to the bottom of the pack and is looking very depressed, banished out of the action. No other option though. Keith is his particular favourite but most of the family have nearly been sexually violated by Max at one time or another.

Watched mums secret show of shame - the Bold and the Beautiful - which ended with the heartfelt lines: Í can't believe you've implanted my mothers eggs into my ex-husbands new wife.' Dad is off playing scientist Stanley Milgram in a National Geographic Channel tele-movie today. The shoot was in Newtown, and he drove the campervan so he would have somewhere comfortable to sit and read his book at lunchtime.

Great picnic on Monday with Lisa, Nik, Matilda and baby bump. Nikki is only weeks off birth and the baby is doing Alien-style gymnastics against her big belly. So funny to think that the next time I see her she'll be plus-one.

Finally managed to speak to Keith today. From getting up at 4am in Coledale to hitting the sheets in Milan, his journey took him 52 hours. He sounds so tired. He rang last night at midnight. The mobile jerked me awake, so I leapt out of bed, tripped over the baby-gate, landed on the dog (fortunately not in a sexy manner), missed the call and woke the baby.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

poo bum dicky wee wee

This week the Premiers office has been caught making a Wikipedia entry stating simply 'poo bum dicky wee wee'. Generally people scoffed...but it made me miss working in an office. Some standout good times:

1. The April Fools day at Family Planning when the whole team emailed the boss requesting maternity leave.

2. The Dr Phil website we found at AQA containing soundbites you could play over the phone. We spent all afternoon ringing everybody we knew and playing Dr Phil on the speaker: 'I want you to get serious about your life!'and 'Stop talking -and start living!' Most just acted confused but Dad said 'Listen, mate, I'm giving you three seconds to state your business and then I'm hanging up'.

3. The time at AQA when Dim and I told our workmate that a doctor was coming in to test our spines the next morning and that she should wear her swimming costume under her clothes to work. (She did).

News from the ranch: Ivy is all well, but very clingy - weaning is finished and she is not happy. Theres a lot of crying and pulling at my top dejectedly (and thats just Keith). After having successfully removed the dummy from her life, its back -and what a passionate affair Ivy is having with it. She wails without it, looks desperately for it, and sucks on it like a cold beer on a summers day (or a warm boob in the springtime).

Other than that she's in great form - eating, eating, eating. She's a slow-chewing gourmet like her Aunty Sam, preferring a selection of things laid out on her tray. She thoughtfully picks amongst them.'I think I'll start with the prune here...followed by that lovely bit of watermelon - no, don't like it, drop that out of my mouth now - I've just seen a lovely little vegimite sandwich to suck on...and perhaps a little cheese - oh joy! I've found an old bit of banana down the side here, nice and to finish, I'll suck on this old BiLo docket I've hidden down my sleeve...'

We've been crafty in all this rain. I've been sewing bags and a dress for Ivy and Keith has put up his bookshelves. (The camera is busted but I'l add a picture soon). The sun burst out and inspired a frenzied attack on the vege garden. Eggplants, beans and tomatoes in; carrots and snow peas all finished. We even planted two apple trees - a new pink lady that fruits in warmer areas and another one to pollinate it.

Fake Fathers Day coming up this week (Keith is off to Milan for a conference this weekend and will be gone for 2 weeks). We'll miss him so much.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

the discovery channel

Rain, rain, rain. Its hammering down like a donkeys overbite.

Ivy is much better. Crawling around the place like Baby GI Jane on a mission, discovering drawers to open, cords to pull, piles to topple and all manner of things to eat. The recycling bin is popular, and so are books and magazines - she's recently figured out how to turn pages and now can sit studiously for ages reading. She's also started clapping, and spends a lot of time saying 'Bwah!', with a snorty, dramatic sigh.

Today Keith is planning to finish the bookshelves he's building for the kitchen and go for a surf in the rain. He says he doesn't mind if he gets wet. (He can sit on his board and relive the dream he had last night in which he was Art Garfunkels new keyboard player). I'm going to make some bread, read my Salinger bio and and sort out some house stuff. Other jobs on the list - the toilet, the greywater filter, the gutters - are shelved because of the rain. Forced into a lazy least, as lazy as we can manage with our tiny commando.