23 February 2014

The End of Summer

February has nearly gone now. We had friends over for a very low key BBQ, but even the lowest key BBQ still involves somewhat complex food options given allergies and preferences. Nina made signs. A very Nina thing to do.  Grace made a flower sculpture and Lily drew a picture of a grumpy sunburnt mummy. We went to a soccer tournament for Nina and braved the cold and wet and were then completely taken by surprise when sun came out and we all got burned.  For my birthday we went to N2 and watched them make our gelati instantly by adding liquid nitrogen. It was a lot of fun but I don't think it was the yummiest gelato around. Lily caught up with her now-also-four-year-old friend, Yvette. I love watching these two youngest of four interact - both sweet and strong willed - a good match for each other. 
Last weekend the two older girls joined Craig and me for the MegaSwim at Fitzroy Pool. It's always a good day (or night and day) even though it was a bit chilly this year with threatening skies. Nina and Ruby each swam 1.2km which was a pretty good effort and raised $520 for MS.
And there has even been the tiniest bit of sewing : 
A little baby quilt made from my Charley Harper fabric.  It's a total cheat's quilt as the top comes in this pattern and I just quilted parallel lines around the squares. Once again I was amazed at how the binding changes a quilt. I had been thinking a red or orange binding or perhaps a dark grey but that just wasn't right. I ended up going for a brown with off-white spots from my stash which off-sets it all just right I think. The back is a simple beigey sort of linen in that shade somewhere between grey and brown. All up it was a pleasingly quick and satisfying project.
And finally we have had much drama over the past weeks with Ruby, who, like many an eldest child, tends toward the anxious. We insisted that she try out for District swimming, given that she is a good swimmer and that confronting those things that make you anxious in a safe environment where nothing hinges on the outcome would be a good step.  We had many tears and angry protestations about how much she didn't want to it.  We had many discussions about our reasons for making her.  Anyway she participated and got through to the District competition, much to her dismay! We had another week of nerves and anxiety, another week of talking and practicing techniques to calm her nerves, and today she came third in the freestyle relay. She's pretty pleased and I feel vindicated - not because she got a ribbon but because the nerves between the first round and the second had definitely reduced and I do think she's realised that she can still perform, even when she feels anxious. Funnily enough she was happy to sing before the whe school last year with 2 friends, something most people would find more nerve wracking. 
We've been back a month today, and I do feel that something has shifted.  The possibilities seem endless suddenly, and that's rather lovely.  It's nearly autumn, my very favourite season and tonight, right now, all is good. 

11 February 2014


It's been slightly disorienting leaving behind the ritual of putting on thermals, donning gloves and scarves and hats, throwing in extra mittens for Lil, making soup, drinking hot chocolate (bemoaning the lack of loose leaf tea), to now find myself waking at 4am to the smell of smoke in the air from distant bushfires. All day today Melbourne was in that strange haze the presages bad news on the radio of houses burned and lives threatened. I turned 12 on Ash Wednesday in 1983 when the smoke and dust turned the sky dark in the middle of the day. 

We went to friends for dinner last Saturday. It was still 39 at 6.30 as we walked down Hoddle Street to their house.  I took whipped cream and fruit in a cold bag for the pav I'd made so it didn't melt off on the way.  We sat outside in the airless evening sweating and intermittently spraying each other with the mist pump.  Our own mist pump smells vaguely of garlic from a long ago anti-cabbage moth concoction we'd used on the broccoli, when we still tried to grow broccoli.  By the time we left the girls were fractious with exhaustion but the hot night didn't abate and sleep was elusive. 

The girls have slipped back into their roles as gatherers of 'fairies', makers of tea parties, mixers of potions and wreakers of havoc.  I've been trying to get the house in order, or, more accurately, establish a new order for the house. Sorting out cupboards, filing art work and putting a decade or more of photographs (old fashioned photos printed from film!) into albums. It's been rather lovely revisiting those years, seeing myself pregnant (again and again and again), holding newborns who somehow look exactly like the people they have become, falling in love with these adorable, chubby cheeked, cheeky eyed, worried browed, newly toothed then newly toothless, growing girls of mine.

Last week I ventured back to work.  I'm trying to maintain a professional distance, trying to keep work as just one of the many things in my life. It's easy at the moment but I know this will be a challenge. A colleague wisely said to me today to make all my life changing decisions now, before the perspective granted by my long holiday vanishes. Quickly, he urged, it'll be gone next week.      It's something I've always prided myself on, my ability to switch off, establish boundaries, stay detached, but this past year really tested me. I have to remind myself sometimes that, even in the concrete jungle, the sky is still blue when you look up. 

01 February 2014

Home Again

We arrived home to Summer in full swing. It's hot hot hot, and looking like it will remain so for the foreseeable future.  Home is sandals and sprinklers and stone fruit and snags for dinner. It's catching up with old friends and old dogs, starting school, losing teeth.  Already winter, snow, ice skating and thermals seem a bit like a dream. Life resumes as normal, though perhaps something has shifted, perhaps something, maybe just something small, has changed. We shall see. 

The three oldest girls started school with high excitement to see friends again.

Lily strode off to four year old kinder holding a bouquet of gum flowers for each teacher and not looking back- until we got to the door and her confidence faltered. 

Craig almost immediately entered straight into the thick of it, with 3 interstate trips already lined up and a full court appeal the day after my birthday. Bluergh.  

I sensibly took the week to get everyone settled back in and to unpack from the trip. We had tenants in our house so there was a lot of unpacking to be done. After three months of living in 1 pair of trousers, 2 skirts and a dress, the ridiculousness of having wardrobes bulging with rarely worn clothes struck home. A large boot full was offloaded to the op shop. 

We are walking more. Partly because our clocks have not yet adjusted and we are all waking early, giving us time to get places without driving. But also being without a car altered the default - the kids are always slightly surprised when we drive now. I'd like to keep it that way for as long as possible.

I'm reminded daily of what a truly fortunate life I live. I'm clinging as hard as I can to this time, to notice more the things I love about my life so I can remind myself in the moments when I forget.