Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Fly, Little Chickie.

Ivy has been counting down the sleeps until school starts for the last fortnight.

We've been freezing lunches.

Constructing charts for morning routines.

And I have been trying to not pay too much attention to the little knot of panic that seems to have taken up residence somewhere between my chest and my throat.

These last few weeks, we’ve been living the final moments of the intimate bubble in which I've spent the last five years. A private little domestic world of babies and breastfeeding, toddlers and tantrums and toilet-training. Of wearing a track between the stove and the washing machine. Long days of baby illnesses and endless nights of broken sleep. My time spent almost entirely within these walls. This warm and wonderful and infuriating and precious place.

This nest.

Sweet firstborn Ivy is our first chick to flee. For five years, this little girl of mine has been my whole world. I have cooked for her, washed her clothes, nursed her flu’s and soothed her worries. All, I realise now, somehow preparing her for this next chapter. The part where she trots off into the yonder without me. Those beautiful little arms and legs that I have cuddled too many times to count have somehow, sneakily, grown so big that this morning they marched my little one into school. Marched her into kindy without a backwards glance at her teary, trembly mama, who stood clutching the next-biggest child just a little too tightly. All day I have been feeling ever-so-slightly sick.

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire, said Yeats. I love this. I’m so happy for Ivy to enter a learning environment, to light that fire, to start forging her own path. I am. I feel proud of this kind, funny, interesting and clever daughter of mine and I can't wait to see what kind of mark she will make upon the world. But within me is a battle. I long to send Ivy forth to fight (and win! please, god) her battles, and at the same time I long to wrap her in my arms, pack her in my handbag and shield her from all the pain that life, and the schoolyard, can bring.

I guess the wrapping and the packing and the shielding will have to happen, from now on, outside the hours of nine and three, except for the love that I can somehow squirrel to Ivy through the medium of her lunchbox.

One down.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Family Band and Screen-Free Weekends

We've been instituting a screen-free policy on the weekends. We lock the laptops in the shed and ban TV. During the week, by the time all small people have been fed, watered and squiggled down to sleep, hopefully an after-dinner parlour game played and won, and the washing-up vanquished (even if all the other housework is carried-over until the morning) we're left with just a small window for technology.

At the minute we've been filling that window with a nightly dose of Game Of Thrones (totally addictive, highly nerdy.) So blogging and other writing is taking a back seat. But in short, we've been arting and crafting, cracking down on some serious naughty attacks, feeding the baby some real food (such good fun) and preparing Ivy for school.


We've also been introducing baby George to the Family Band. She shows a real interest in the music, and so we think she's caught the gene for loving a nobby, musical good time. Huzzah George! By the time you're five you might even be rocking some Mick Jagger/River-dancing moves like your big sister.

Happy weekending, folks.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Postcard From My Liver

A note: when you are putting a disco wig on the baby it is time to go home from the party. Perhaps, if I may, a little past time.

Folks, let's file today under Experiments I Have Done So you Don't Have To. Perhaps you have been wondering lately whether you should throw back a few wines for the first time in about a year and then spend the following day with three small children? I know it feels like a fun plan. But it is really not.

Ivy chose this morning to badger my shaking, toxic fingers into teaching her how to make houses of cards. Yep. They all fell down.

But it was Teddy who took his naughty pills. He was happy for a while playing Babies,

and practicing his writing, pen clutched like a fat spear,

but mainly, he seemed to spend his day engaged in low-grade, domestic warfare. He weed on the floor three times. Copiously, freely. 'Why? Why are you doing this Ted?' I said. 'Because I am!' he replied with a little happy dance. Twice we caught him carefully dribbling on the furniture. When scolded he insisted 'I'm not spitting! Iss a spoo! Iss spoo Mum!' and when sent in disgrace to his room, wailed 'But iss a spooooooo' all the way down the hall.

Why he thinks that methodical, concentrated vomiting on the furniture is not naughty is a question for another time and perhaps a professional psychologist.

George has been a bit grumpy. But mostly perfect in every way as usual except for the part where she is a small baby who requires feeding and can't walk to the toilet or make Mum a cup of tea to ease her troubles. Today is one of those days where I long to be single. Oh, for Eggs Benedict at a cafe with two strong lattes and the whole Herald and a free afternoon in which to catch a movie or just go back to bed...

Still. Game of Thrones, Episode 1, on the couch tonight with the K-Dog. We have a date in ten minutes and I am very excited. It may just turn my whole day around.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Some Stern Bedtime Parenting and An Unfortunate Decomposing Lizard

Ivy has been upping the ante on bedtime shenanigans lately. The last three nights she has found reason after reason to emerge from her room and beg for time off her sleeping sentence. There's been a lot of 'I'm hot', some 'I'm hungry' and one heartfelt 'you need to understand, I'm just not up for it.'

Two nights she has pulled 'My eardrum hurts.' Now, Ivy is a seasoned theatrical actress. It's not her first time around the boards. She's been honing her craft since her early pre-verbal head-banging performances. By age five, she has developed a subtle style. Both Keith and I have fallen for the sickness at dinner-time ploy (and once memorably, refused to be fooled. 'Nope!' I insisted one night. 'Your tummy does not hurt! You will sit there until you finish your vegetables!' Sit there she did. Until she vomited with the beginnings of a gastro bug.)

You cannot sneakily pass a quick hand over Ivy's forehead to check for fever. She clocks it. And she knows, then, that she has found a chink in your armour. I went along with possible-ear-infection for a while but I knew Ivy was acting when she forgot which ear was hurting. 'Wasn't it the other ear before?' I asked as she held a cold washer to her face. 'It's....moving!' she said quickly. 'I think it's moving around.'

Teddy had been quietly watching this medical drama unfold. 'My regg!' he suddenly wailed. 'My regg is hurting!' Ivy looked at him with horror and then back at me. 'That's not real!' she shouted. 'It's not even real!' Ah yes, I thought. The day has come for the student to betray the teacher.

'My regg!' Teddy moaned, waving both legs in the air.

'That's it from both of you,' I said. 'No more banana work. Go to sleep.'

Last night, Ivy didn't go near the ears. Instead, she complained about the smell in her room. I went in to check. 'Oh, it's fine', I told her. But it did actually stink. 'Go to sleep.'

I went out to ask Keith if he'd noticed a smell in the kids room.

'What does it smell like?' he asked. I thought about it. 'Sort of like a cross between Dencorub and shit,' I said. 'Well, I did put Dencorub on Ivy's foot earlier...' he said. 'So it's just shit then,' we agreed. And we laughed. Like the evil parents we are.

The crying continued. 'It really stinks!' Ivy sobbed. ' I can't sleep in this smell!' Both Keith and I went in and turned the light on. We inspected the room but there was no obvious stains. We questioned Teddy but he denied poo crime.

'I think it's my foot,' she whimpered. Keith smelt her feet. 'Well, Ivy,' he said - always the meticulous scientist - 'you seem to have a small amount of foot odour but that's not the big stink.' I laughed. I couldn't help it. Poor Ivy was infuriated. Eventually she went off to sleep. This morning Keith found a rotting lizard in a bucket outside her bedroom window.

Ms McIntosh, this is your fifteen year call. Ms McIntosh, the Oscars stage in fifteen years.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

So Much To Love.

a. The goofy smile
b. The giraffe she loves so much
c. The vintage frock with collar straight out of an episode of 'George And Mildred'

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

They call Him 'Goggles'.

We're halfway through 5 days of intensive swimming school. This photo cracks me up. Teddy looks like a poolside gangster. 'Ey oop,' he's saying. 'This me gal. Darnt go takin er noodle, orright. Or I'll clock ya.'

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Home Alone

George is fast asleep and I'm waiting for the rest of my peeps to return from a night away in Sydney. It was my father-in-law's birthday party and I was very torn between going up to celebrate or taking the chance to rest at home. I'm glad I stayed here in the end. My thyroid is overactive again and I've really been feeling strange - anxious and tired and somehow at a distance from myself. I think visiting with lots of the rels - as much as I love them - would have taken energy than I have in the tank this week.

It was sweet having a full day to spend with George though. Reminded me of those times when Keith was travelling to Canberra and I spent a lot of time alone with baby Ivy. Right when I started this blog, actually.

Five years ago.

Holy crap.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Alive At The End Of The Day

This post was first published in Practical Parenting Magazine, December 2011. It was written after George was born, but before her accident, and before my thyroid disruption was diagnosed. It's funny -odd for me to reread this, a few months on. Seasons in parenthood are changing so fast for me now. My last thyroid blood tests show it's overactive again, which explains why I've been feeling weird and anxious. I have to re-test it in two weeks and then talk about options if it is still out of whack.

My mother-in-law came to visit me shortly after I gave birth to my third child. I sat in the middle of a towering pile of laundry – sleep-deprived, vomit-stained and overwhelmed. ‘Don’t worry, Rach’, my saintly MIL told me. ‘If you get to the end of the day and the children are all still alive, you’re doing your job.’ It was excellent advice. But I wasn’t prepared for how literally I would need to take it.

Our new daughter – let’s call her Pudding - is adorably, kissably perfect. The whole family agrees. But her three year old brother, T-Bone, loves her a little too much. In fact, it’s a little like having a Labrador puppy as a part-time nanny, and he’s in danger of killing her with the force of his affections.

‘My Pudding, my darling Pudding, my little baby Pudding’ he croons, while patting her with a technique better suited to tenderising a schnitzel. If she cries, he races to her bedside. ‘Don’t rurry Pudding! Don’t rurry!’ he shouts an inch from her face. He likes to replace her dummy, but his method is to grip the back of her head with one hand and jam the dummy into her mouth with the other, whether her lips are open or closed. Four-year-old Peanut, on the other hand, ‘helps’ by perching at the end of the bassinette and telling the baby at length about her jewellery. (I think of it as The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills method of baby-care.)

Mothering three kids under five has given me moments of absolutely transcendent happiness, but I admit at time I have gone a little nutty. Military discipline has become necessary. I’m not a huge shouter generally but yesterday I was driven to bellow at the children: 'You are MASSIVELY busted!’ The details of their naughtiness elude me but it likely involved property crime (Peanut took the good spoon) or actual bodily harm (T-Bone kicked me in the ears) followed by theatrical, high-pitched screaming. They both got sent to separate Time Outs before being recalled for a short lecture about behaviour in my Sergeant Mother’s tone. They both gazed at me calmly. 'Do you understand me T-Bone?' I concluded. 'Well, Mummy,’ he said. 'Did you know I has this penis?'

Another recent evening I found myself simultaneously trying to comfort a crying Pudding, coach toilet-training T-Bone through a difficult potty episode, ignore a Peanut tantrum and fix a recalcitrant Peppa Pig DVD. Inside my head the howls were deafening. 'Is you doing your best, Mum?’ asked T-Bone. Yes, I replied hopelessly. 'Well, is not very good', he said.

Today I left both kids constructing puzzles in the lounge room while I fed Pudding in my quiet bedroom and watched My Great Big Gypsy Wedding on YouTube. I thought everything was going really well until I emerged to find both children paused in a guilty tableau. Peanut had climbed a chair to turn the ceiling fan on High, and T-Bone was standing on a table trying to poke a broomstick into it.

Pudding is six weeks old tomorrow. In time, I might set my parenting ambitions a little higher, but for today, still alive at bedtime is good enough for me. And if you’ve managed that today, my readers, I’m proud of you too.

Friday, January 6, 2012

e.e cummings: revealed

e.e cummings
was not
i propose
a preeminent twentieth century poet
with an unmistakable
free verse

but rather
a breastfeeding mother
typing with one hand
in the middle of the night.

The Edge of The Pacific

So it's not the steamiest of summers. But nonetheless we are blessed to live in a little beach town. Every time we get down to the water, I watch my kids invent games, absorbed in the infinite creative universe a huge expanse of water and sand can inspire. Children are never bored at the beach.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

B @ At Home

The B @ Home website contacted me about being one of their 'Best Of The Web' bloggers. They said they were impressed by my colour-blocked bookshelves. Alas, the shelves don't reflect my everyday lifestyle quite as well as the posts My Overflowing Recycling Bin and Where's That Poo Smell Coming From?

Still, I said yes and here I am along with a couple of interesting blogs you might like to check out -I thought that Sarah Learns and Things For Boys both had a lovely vibe about them.

Hope 2012 is marvellous so far. Here, the kids are well, George is flipping herself over like a fish and the K-Dog is still on holidays. Today he reported that he has finished the outside jobs and was now available for any general donkey-work I wanted to direct him towards. His actual words: 'I serve at the pleasure of the President.'

What a man.