Sunday, April 29, 2007

bad sleeps and bloodsuckas



My question for today is: can you be blamed for what you do in your sleep?

Keith woke up with the sniffles this morning. He says it's because all night long I kept rolling over and taking the doona with me, leaving him in the cold. It's not the first time either - apparently this happens most nights. I feel for his sinuses, but I can't take responsibility for the selfish personality of my sleep-self, can I? In my waking hours I am generally nice to Keith. Isn't that all a girl can do? I empathise with those Stillnox folk. At least I'm only stealing the doona, not making people out of bacon, or teaching Italian in the nude. I dreamed Keith was eaten by a shark last night and he dreamed we were posing as diplomats trying to get on a flight to South Africa.

Some time ago keith had a a dream in which I was really mean to him, making him sleep with his head up the other end of the bed. So vivid was the dream that it took him a day or two to forgive me.

Is this fair?

The magnificent Ivy is growing like a weed. Yesterday she fed every two hours. Now she's in a big car seat; eating (or wearing) real food, and sitting up (almost) on her own. Yesterday we went for a long walk through the bush at the end of our road. Keith and I both came home with leeches but Ivy was clean. Today she's been going wild on her new Jolly Jumper, kicking it like a tiny Riverdancer.

Check out the photo my uncle Bill sent of Mum and my aunt Jill hamming it up in their 60's backyard. They'd get arrested in Iran this week for scarves like that.

Friday, April 27, 2007

How Do You Help Your Baby To Make Poo-Poo


Sam and the beatuful 3-month-old Isabelle visited this week for a couple of days - a joyous occasion. We cooked, ate, discussed life, inspected babies, watched bad TV and laughed a lot.

Went to a mums and babies yoga class which was interesting, but far from relaxing. It's hard to find inner peace when the room is full of shrieking babies and mothers hissing 'ohhhh-kay. It's ohhhh-kay.'

Overheard while we had lunch afterwards at the Fireworks Cafe in Austinmer (also known as Newtown-By-Sea):

-But it's the only instrument that speaks to me.
-Well, you'll have to find something else that speaks to you like the glockenspiel.

Ivy is still not sure about the whole food caper (could it be the menu? I'm now feeding her sweet potato mixed with rice cereal and breast milk. Maybe if she could speak she'd tell me get the crap out of her face and give her a chicken burger).

She didn't poo for four days this week. Sam tried to help by pumping her legs and singing to the tune of 'How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria': How Do You Help Your Baby to Make Poo-Poo? It ended in a high soprano: 'How do you coax a motion from your child?' The therapy worked, because Ivy delivered a package unto us that was unlike any one she had delivered before. Ah...food poo. Here it where it is supposed to get smelly.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

water, water everywhere



It's all about water this week. Last night the rain hammered down relentlessly, a beautiful sound when you're tucked up in bed with a big warm body beside you, a small one safe across the room, and 120,000 litres of tank to fill.

I woke up several times worrying that the new veges would drown in the garden. The anxiety interrupted my dream about Sam's relationship with Tom Conti, the Greek actor that gave Shirley Valentine hot flushes. I kept quoting lines from the movie at him and Sam - 'Shirley, I don' wan' make love with you...' while both of them looked at me with the long-suffering expression that says 'Please. Stop. You're embarrassing yourself'. I am familiar with it from Sam, but Tom Conti's never given me that look before.

Keith dreamed we were reduced to working in a chicken factory.

On Sunday we went in to Sydney for a baby shower (good luck Chris!) and a farewell party (good luck Jase!) and missed a big water spout off Coledale Beach. Here's a picture of it taken from the local bowls club. What with that, the current rainstorm and that 15cm tsunami that shut the beaches down last month, the weather is getting wild around here.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

mummy bites ivy, daddy bites mummy

Ivy is still not sure about food but happy in other areas of her life - here she gets the giggles:

Friday, April 20, 2007

breakast at sweethearts

Ivy had her first solid food today - she's not too sure about it. Footage here:

Thursday, April 19, 2007

vacuum cleaner wars



Mum and Dad came to visit yesterday. We had an excellent day planting out the rest of the veges, playing with Ivy and discussing Howard's eyebrows.

Mum and Dad arrived laden with the usual booty gleaned from markets, garage sales and council clean-ups; producing goods from their boot like midgets from a circus car. This time the haul included a giant candelabra, a heater, a sewing box, some organic vege seeds, a jumper for Ivy, a lemon tree and a Hello magazine for my next bath.

Then the Dyson appeared. Mum and Keith have an ongoing heated debate about the relative merits of their vacuum cleaners (Mum's Dyson vs Keith's Miele). Knowing Keith was in Canberra, Mum lugged the Dyson down to gleefully attack my flea-rug. Unfortunately, along with her shirt, her glasses and her thermos, she left it behind when she went home.

I got her on the mobile. 'Are you trying to drive a wedge between me and my husband?' I demanded. I think she denied it but it was hard to be sure through the laughter.

I wanted to put the Dyson in Keith's side of the bed to await him when he arrived home at ten, but decided that was a bit gross.

The remarkable Ivy was 6 months old yesterday. She celebrated by taking three hours to get to sleep. My baby shoulder is much worse, with pain spearing up my neck and curving around my forehead. Last night I spent an hour on the lounge room floor at 3am, listening to the Reverend Popoff flog Miracle Water. Today Keith has been looking after me wonderfully, taking over Ivy duty when she gets wild and making toasted sandwiches and cups of tea.

Have an appointment with an osteo in Thirroul tomorrow - hope it works.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

mothers group




Mothers group this morning - my only friends in this burg. Mothers group is an interesting phenomenon - the only thing in common is that you all have a small person attached to you at all times. That shared experience is enough, somehow, to cancel out other differences of age, socioeconomics, politics and personality. A small baby does take over your existence so much that it almost cancels your previous identity - you become 'Mummy' - plus whatever you used to be, and whatever you become - but 'Mummy' first. Maybe that's why mothers groups are so important in the first months - its before you integrate 'Mummy' into the old you. Everybody's personality is a bit raw.

This morning was an Enjo party - the chemical-free cleaning products. These house parties are a bit scary.

The last of the pyramid-style parties I remember was years ago, when my friends and I got trapped in a Nutri-Metics cosmetics loop. (One party spawns the next, ad infinitum). The demonstrator was very earnest, and highly groomed - the problem was that the group of girls I had gathered were very naughty, and ill-groomed. We made the fatal decision to smoke a joint before she arrived and there everything went downhill. One friend was so paranoid about staring at the demonstrator that she spent the hour gazing loonily around the room. Another got halfway through a face mask demo before bursting noisily into tears. Face covered in cream she sobbed 'I'm sorry, but I've had my period for six months!" We all gathered around her, clucking soothingly and discussing our own menstrual difficulties while the demonstrator tried valiantly to continue her pitch on exfoliants.

I asked the poor woman halfway through if she'd like a drink of water. She said yes, so I went into the kitchen - but once there, was mesmerised by the table of food prepared earlier. I spent a good ten minutes constructing a fabulous sandwich and then trotted back out and sat on the lounge with my feast. I couldn't work out why everybody was staring at me.

Anyway, the Enjo party wasn't like that. Actually, I got quite excited about all the groovy products until the moment of truth arrived and i realised it would cost me something like 42 thousand dollars to purchase the system.

i love my cousins



On Sunday we went out to Bowral, where Keiths sister Deb, her partner Brendan and the two Thomas-loving, cubby-constructing, circus-trick-performing bundles of energy Liam (4) and Tim (2) live. Brendan wanted Keiths help laying some turf in the backyard.

Liam and Tim are beautiful boys, and have always loved Ivy. Since my pregnancy they've followed her growth and progress. They 'play Ivy' at home, where Tim is the baby and Liam plays Keith; and always love to see her. They gather around her, gently tickling her toes and bringing toys and pictures to lay at her feet, like she is a tiny goddess. (Which, lets face it..) Tim likes to stroke her cheeks and croon 'soooo cuuute' like an Italian grandmother.

Deb recently found a video taken at Christmas 2 years ago, where we had made a little movie with the boys. It features Keith as a Thomas merchandise thief, and me as a policeman. I chase Keith around the tree in the backyard in Benny-Hill style, until I catch up with him. 'Smack me!' Keith whispers under his breath, and the movie ends with a slapstick-style spanking.

At the time Liam, 2, was a little scared and confused. He runs for his life as soon as Keith the Thief appears. Now, though, they love the video, and want Deb to play it over and over. They even know all the words.

My back has been crunchier than an old mans underpants for days now, with pain radiating up my spine and into the back of my head. Problem. All I want to do is lie in the bath or on the couch, indulging in my own miasma of misery. Funny, it's not so nice to be around for Keith. ..and hard to do with a tiny baby.

I had a massage down the road and the therapist diagnosed me with 'baby shoulder'...it's what you get from carrying a fat bundle around all day. I felt much worse afterwards but better today - able to get on with things.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

fleas, poo and beetroot seeds

Today we planted seeds for English spinach and broccoli - and also bought seedlings for beetroot, eggplant and marigolds as companion plants. I look forward to planting out another bed tomorrow. The seeds are propagating in a box on the back deck.

It was a day of household chores. I wood-chipped and tamped down the toilet - a seriously gross job to me - but a polka in the park to Keith, whose job it is to rotate and clean out the pans every two months or so. That's a gig that requires elbow-length gloves and a stiff drink afterwards; and also that gets you off all other heavy duties for the day.

Ivy got bitten by another flea - the rage that welled up in me when I saw it merrily bounce away across the rug was immense. Fleas are different from mozzies because they bite in clusters, so she now has been attacked three times and has, currently, 5 bites on her little face. Bastards!

I'm trying to avoid the flea-bomb solution - I really don't want toxic chemicals in the house. So we've put a soapy bowl out with a light on it, which is supposed to attract them. I've hot-washed all her bedding and stuff... but saw them tonight, next to the couch on which I had piled 2 loads of clean washing! I'll have to wash it all again, in case the bastards got got jiggy and laid eggs today, while taking a break from feasting on fresh baby. The next step is to put boric acid all over the rug and then wash it. Or move...

Dinner has just pinged in the oven. Tonight it's what we call 'feminist pie'; a vegetarian shepherds pie that my right-on organic cookbook calls 'shepherdess pie'. It's yummy - veges and lentils with mashed potato. I'm trying to budget food and plan meals this week - the finances are looking pretty tight. No cocaine and strippers this month.

Keith is trying to get Ivy off to sleep next door. He's reading to her from the Dr Suess sleep book (featuring Banana's voice) , as she squirms, all wrapped up in her Wondersuit and cot-sheet swaddle; cute as a button, paw-paw ointment glistening where the light catches the crusty bites on her little face.

Its a domestic fairy tale... just with poo and fleas in it.

Friday, April 13, 2007

naughty buttons

Ivy has had a lot of nicknames in her short life. Apple, Squeaky Bobos, Little Chop, Little Cakes, Squiggles and Squirt have all come into play, and still make appearances from time to time. But the nickname that has really stuck is Naughty Buttons.

Its etymology can be traced in two ways. Firstly from one night way back in the early, psychedelically sleep-deprived days, when I asked Keith blearily 'Are her buttons open?' The second origin is Keith's irrational hatred of buttons, which helped the nickname to stick (all buttons, to Keith, really are naughty)... And he just made me remove the word 'fear' because it's 'only hatred'. He doesn't see that it is weird to have any psychological attachment to buttons at all.

'Naughty Buttons' has become not just a name for Ivy but a general expression of dissatisfaction with any person, place or thing. The other night a crime story was on the news while Keith and I pottered at different ends of the room. 'Naughty Buttons' we commented with disapproval at the same time.

Is this, I wonder, how words really enter the language? Perhaps, one day soon, sometime after 7.30, we'll see Kerry O'Brien take Howard to task over his treatment of the Hicks case. 'Naughty Buttons, Mr Howard', he will chide; with just the hint of a smile. 'You're a very Naughty Buttons'.

ivy and matilda get excited


Yesterday 4 month old Matilda came to visit Ivy. Lucky for me she was attached to 35 year old Lisa, who I haven't seen since Mati was 2 weeks old. We had a great day: lying around on the floor, having naps, breastfeeding - oh hang on, that part was the babies.

Lisa and I talked our ears off on all subjects known to man (and a few known only to woman). Mati and Ivy are the closest in age of all the babies born in the Great Boom, and seem the most similar in temperament too - they even talk and cry in the same language. When they were both sleeping; one would start wailing and we wouldn't know which it was.

It was so good to catch up with Lisa, who is recovering with grace and humour after a scary and traumatic start to motherhood. It was really fun to play babies together too.

Anyway - she is doing a great job. I am proud. And Matilda is too cute for words.

Check them out here for the next week or so (but be kind and don't mock the over-enthusiastic mummy-speak emanating from me and Lisa) :

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

ladies lunch

I met some new girls today and they were very cool. Jas from my mothers group (who reminds me of the lovely Lolo - sweet, warm, unpretentious, like a nice pudding) sensed my fish-out-of-waterness and invited me to lunch with her Stanwell Park buddies. They were easygoing and interesting too - an artist, a fiddler, a funny preggers buddy with a great 3 year old who called out 'Bye, Rach!' as I left. It was good - we laughed. I felt easy with them.

Tonight I put Ivy down to bed and tried to have a bath (my back has been feeling way crunchy ). She sang and talked and grunted until she drove me in to check on her. There she was, chewing her toes. She smiled up at me proudly... as well she deserved to. She had wriggled out of her swaddle (a big one), out of her PANTS, and had turned herself fully 180 degrees around in the bed.

Either she is exceptionally gifted, or exceptionally naughty. God forbid she doesn't become both. (Exceptionally naughty could be my curse. Shirin remembers when we were both pregnant I said to her 'I hope your baby has a big head'. Horrified, she replied 'And I hope your baby is just like you!')

Be careful what your friends wish for.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Easter excitement




Great party yesterday - all the gang from Sydney came down and we had an Easter feast. Ivy had a excellent time playing on the floor with Gabe and we ate, drank and made merry. Anthony is making a surprise video for another friend so we spent lots of Sunday filming short scenes of various bizzare behaviours. As my neighbours were waving from their driveway we were trooping out the back to film a dancing dream sequence; all in wigs, except for Richard in a turban. I hope they don't think we were about to sacrifice a goat. Ivy featured in a wig and pilots hat.

Keith has the death-lurgy, so stayed in bed most of the morning and then managed to get up. He did well to be social but missed all the preparation - cooking, cleaning, baby-wrangling. He had my full, supportive sympathy until he stayed up until 4.30 this morning watching the cricket.

I have spent the last couple of weeks expressing milk for Ivy so that I could kick back at wine time. At 8.30, when the bottle came out- refusal. A look on her face like I was trying to feed her polonium. I don't get it - Ivy will suck joyfully on her fingers or a dummy - isn't a a bottle full of milk a dummy with added goodness? No joy. Eventually Ivy just had to have breast-wine. She went off to sleep fine then - all as normal, although she woke up at 3am wanting to play. (At least she's a good-natured drunk). Off she went to Keith on the couch - the thing about the cricket is that it will send anyone to sleep.

We had great respite with the weather yesterday - hardly any rain, although it has been pouring down most of the weekend. Lovely full water tanks, and good juice for the carrots - which are starting to send up tiny shoots.

Today is a great day for staying in bed to read the papers, and cleaning up the kitchen in little bursts between cups of tea and leftover chocolate cake.

Friday, April 6, 2007

fresh veg

I had another funny dream last night. Keith asked if I would mind if he went out to practice picking up other women, just to see if he still had it. I said it was OK, but I was focused on other things - I had just won a fashion competition with a pink hat called 'Chase The Poof' and was feeling vindicated over Keiths mocking of my fashion sense. I wonder what my psyche thinks is happening in our relationship?

(Keith talked in his sleep last night too. He sat up suddenly and said loudly 'Adele Wallerby is ovulating again!' I love it so much when he talks in his sleep. It is like an unexpected show in the middle of the night. My all-time favourite was when I woke to the sound if him clicking his fingers and crooning a jazzy song in gibberish language).

On the topic of extra marital jollies though, the fruit and veg man in Thirroul cracked onto me this week. Fortyish, round, jolly, like a Greek Santa. I thought he was a family man - we had spoken about his baby daughter before. It was more than a little wierd but maybe they do things differently in the country. Heres how it went down:

Santa - Hellooo - hows that baby of yours?
Me - Great, thanks, really good. You've got one too, right?
Santa - Me, I've got three. Three families, you know, one after the other. (laughs heartily).
Me - (laughs politely) Oh, right. Good.
Santa - So hows the dad, your husband, hows he like?
Me - He's great.
Santa - He like the baby?
Me - Yes, he loves her.
Santa - Well, you can't trust that.
Me - Sorry?
Santa - I'd like to see you in five years. You look good.
Me - Can I just get the capsicum -
Santa - I've had enough of the one I'm with now. I'm ready to move on.
Me - OK....right(laughs nervously, moves at speed towards the door).
Santa - See you soon!

The problem is that I've developed an addiction to peppadew, sweet capsicum with fetta rolled in balls, and he's the only dealer in town. I talked to the women at the local deli but their suggestion was to make it myself. It seemed like a possibility until we deconstructed the recipe: roast the capsicum, peel those terrible sticky bits, marinate the fetta, etc, etc. Who's got time for that caper?

There is one solution. I could send Keith in to deal with the fruit man. He can learn some new pick-up tricks, I get my capsicum without the icky feeling inside, and the fruit and veg man is protected from his own evil demons. Result!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

outings and plantings



Big day today - trip in to the city to Family Planning, my workplace - full of women, so Ivy was passed around like a fancy toy. (She wets! She cries! She's just like real!) I think we're just reaching separation anxiety age. She'd be OK for a moment, than look for me and wail. It was sort of exciting. I felt so important.

Lunch with Sam, Matt, Shirin and Tori (big people) and Isabelle and Gabe (tiny people) was great. Back at the old cafe in Summer Hill where all that bacon and eggs fuelled Ivy as she knitted bones and connected neurons in my belly. Afterwards hung out with Sam and played babies on her floor. Ivy was in top form and laughed her head off at Sams rendition of the classic 'Where's Ivy? Wobble your leg...I'm going to pull your arms off. Yes I am..' etc etc.

Yesterday we planted baby carrots and lettuce in the first of the overgrown vege gardens we've dug up. I'm feeling more than a little inspired by Jamie Olivers new series. Keith is quite threatened by my deep and passionate love for Jamie - I think it encouraged him to come out and do lots of digging in his lunch break.

Keith hasn't used shampoo for four weeks now, in an experiment to test the theory that hair-cleaning products are just tools of evil drug(company)lords intended to fleece the gullible, self-conscious public. It's supposed to take 6 weeks before the natural oils in the scalp balance and and clean your hair. Thank you, Richard Glover.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

baby bulimia




Last night was Earth Hour, when lots of people in Sydney turned off their lights for a while to save energy. We had dinner and did the crossword. I got candle wax all over the rug. Im not sure how much energy I will expend trying to get that out.

Went to bed and dreamed I was going to a party with Jeannie Little. I was excited because all my friends were there. 'Look what I'm wearing! ' I laughed at some point, and showed them the edge of my nappy coming out of my jeans, like a geriatric g-string. Then a sexy girl I didn't know (but everybody else did) put out her leg to display black fishnets and red stillettos. Oh no... I realised. Wearing a nappy's not right.

Ivy is in great form today. She played in the washing basket for a while and practiced chewing her fingers. She really goes to town on those fingers. Sometimes she sticks them too far into her throat and gags - at those moments I wonder whether my excitement over her fat legs is causing her to become a baby bulimic.