Monday, February 28, 2011

A night at the opera

What a jam packed weekend! A new baby. A long overdue and lovely visit from one of my gorgeous nieces. A relaxing afternoon incorporating some shopping and consumption of home made, deeelicious sweet treats... courtesy of hostess with the mostess Laura, at her Intimo party (thanks Spunky!) AND a tremendous night at the opera with my Mama.

It's been some time since Mama and I took ourselves off to the opera. From memory, it was the year I was pregnant with Angus. Actually, as I recall VERY pregnant. For whatever reason we have put one of our long standing traditions on hold, for well, three years. Attending the opera and ballet used to be our special thing. A chance to catch up over lunch or dinner and then witness a spectacular display of dramatic flair and enjoy the most splendid vocal and instrumental talent on offer. It might be cliche, but it is the greatest all-round feast for the senses. So it was nice to be able to kickstart it again with one of the classic spectacles, Carmen.

We have seen Carmen before, albeit many years ago, so it was great to see a whole new production, with a fresh, sexy (yes, sexy) and modern perspective. Those voices. WOW. Not much more to say about those, as they are just pure perfection. The music, so rousing, yet entrancingly calming. The story, so passionate, though utterly tragic. Tragic beyond words. Opera certainly captures despair and woe, along with exaltation and merriment. Cleverly bundled into one, three act performance. Carmen most definitely ticks all the boxes.

I am very much looking forward to our next rendezvous inside the magnificent sails of the Sydney Opera House. Elegant and picturesque in the light of the setting sun, on a balmy Saturday in February. Too good a photo opportunity to miss. 


Friday, February 25, 2011

Welcome to the world Little One

Oh! How I love a newborn. Feather soft skin. Tiny scrunched up faces. Spontaneous gurgles and squeaks of contentedness. Perfectly proportioned... everything. And the smell, ah the smell. Then the wonder. Wonder at how a miniature human being forms all it's precious bits and pieces. Then gradually grows, filling out those bits and pieces, as the days, weeks, months pass by. Until the day that delightful babe is born. Such a spiritually enriching event. It is quite frankly too awesome for words. So on that note, I'll simply say it is so nice to finally meet the sweetest little princess, who graced our world, at precisely 11.58pm last night. Sofia Elizabeth Mangan. Daughter number two for my friends Angela and Malcolm. A sister for the lovely Lilly. And a little ray of sunshine for us all.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Great Australia Clock

Today really was a gift from above. Brilliant sunshine, gentle breeze and a delightful few hours in the city with my Mama. As soon as Angus was delivered to preschool (and joy upon joy, no tears, only smiles, from both of us this morning!) I boarded a bus bound for the city with my cheeky companion Felix. It was his first bus ride and he couldn't have been more nonchalant, in fact I'd say it was approximately 45 seconds into the trip before he was snoozing soundly.

Mama and I have been enjoying girly days in the city for as long as I can remember. The earliest memories I have are from about the age of four. Two in particular stand out. The time we went to see ET on the big screen (and I sat on her lap for a fair chunk of the movie, apparently scared and very upset for ET not being able to find a way to "go home") AND my first ever pantomime experience, being Puss In Boots. You never hear anything about Puss In Boots anymore, I can't even remember what the story is about. But it must have been memorable, as I have very happy recollections of that day. We have had countless unforgettable city excursions since then. We are (and always have been) like a couple of best friends. In alot of ways I was very fortunate to be born right at the tail end of the family. Only girl after six boys and a surprise baby at that, my Mama mistakenly thinking her baby making days were behind her. When at 39 years of age, along came little old me! Therefore we have a somewhat divine bond.

Today was all about nice, quality time together. Little bit of shopping, lots of chatter and a yummy lunch in the elegant Queen Victoria Building. Lovely! More beautiful childhood memories spring to mind of the giant clocks gracefully suspended from the ceiling of the QVB. We just so happened to be sitting right next to The Great Australia Clock while having lunch. Which meant we were lucky enough to catch the ritual midday gongs. There is something almost calming about the rhythmic sound of a bell chiming. With each loud echo you almost feel momentarily transported to a bygone era. This clock has a great deal of historic significance too, with 33 picturesque scenes, from both Aboriginal and European perspective dotted right around it. With the midday sun beaming down, through the glass ceiling overhead, it would have been remiss of me not to capture a small fragment of it's beauty. Another memorable day in the city, etched in my mind.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Can't stop the shop

I have myself a slight addiction of late. Well, that's not entirely true. I have always had this addiction. I'll satisfy my craving anywhere I can. Boutiques, department stores, supermarkets, stalls, fetes, markets, online, even party plan (yes, I'm looking at you Tupperware, Intimo, Learning Ladder and the like). You name it and as sure as the sun rises in the East and sets in the West, I'm up for a look-see and more than likely an investment in it. If I could do this til I drop, I would. But the truth is I wouldn't drop, because whatever my mood, I just can't. stop. shopping. 

My main weak spot is fashion. Dresses, skirts, shorts, pants, tops, bags, underwear, accessories & shoes. I love them all! Since I became a mama, I have a whole new fashion fascination, in the form of goodies for the tiny tots. Boys AND girls, as so many of my friends are also in the breeding phase. I'm just a retail junkie. Regardless of what it is I'm procuring, I'll always experience the same familiar rush. A burst of adrenalin. An edgy excitement and then a touch of panic, at what I have outlaid. I will point out right here that I never, repeat NEVER spend beyond my means. I don't believe in plastic debt. So although I am a self confessed addict, I'm a controlled addict. At this stage anyway.

My addiction has been laying dormant on the fashion side for a while now. During pregnancy, I might buy myself a couple of key items, but nowhere near the amount I indulge in when I'm my 'normal' size. So right now, I'm in the danger zone, as I slowly, slooooowly, bring my body back into a decent (ok half acceptable) shape. I'm not overly a designer labels gal. I admire them with consummate appreciation, but invariably it will be the cheaper knock off that I bring home. In saying this, there are a scattering of fancy schmancy pieces in my wardrobe. Wayne Cooper is an old favourite of mine, he designs THE best dresses ever. I wore one of his to a wedding last year, post baby body and all. It still made me feel a million dollars. Gotta love a dress that makes you feel so good, at a time like that.

However, this little addiction/obsession/fixation, needs the reigns pulled in quick-smart. We are officially operating on one wage now, while I'm still on maternity leave and will be until at least July. I have been watching our bank balance gradually dwindling and being the financial controller of the household, I know it is I who has to manage this successfully. I know I can do it. All I need is to remain staunch when I see a massive sale on my favourite brands and ignore the pretty packaging (or whatever it is these marketing/advertising guru's use to hypnotise suckers like me). I will be strong when the gorgeous new season colours and styles hit the stores. I won't be swayed by the latest toys for the kids or enticed by the heavenly scents as I pass by the fragrance counter. I will start all of this restraint right after my day in the city with my Mama tomorrow. Straight after I pickup my special offer of a FREE Clinique gift bag (with purchase over $60). Afterall, beauty products are a must have item. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Jealous much??

It is safe to say that Angus has gone through one hell of an adjustment period since his baby brother came along. His blinding jealousy has manifest itself in various forms. Over many months. Involving many people. The most recent chapter in the epic saga of 'Take my baby brother back where he came from', is around photographs. Angus completely flips out (and I mean FLIPS out) if he catches me taking a photo of Felix that he is not going to be in. He's not even keen on photos taken of the two of them together anymore. This is a big change, as he used to repeatedly urge me to "take another photo of us mama", at every opportunity.

I have a few theories for this target of new found jealousy, which seems to have sprung up out of nowhere. 
1. Felix is changing all the time - He is more mobile, more active and gets involved in absolutely anything he can get his hands on. Angus doesn't want me capturing a record of these wonderful developments, of which I might show to Daddy or Nana or Pop or anyone! when they are sure to be totally impressed with what Felix can do. 
2. Felix is growing cuter by the minute - This is plain for all to see. Including my perceptive eldest son. The last thing Angus wants are more cutie pie shots of baby brother to outshine his own adorable little face. This would explain the shrieks of "throw that photo of Felix out" and "we don't need anymore photos of Felix" and "take a photo of MEEEEEE!" he hurls in my direction, every time I even look at my camera. 
3. OR, it is entirely possible that this is just another jealous phase we have entered into and much like the infamous "stop kissing boobie Felix" stage we went through when I was breastfeeding, this one will also run it's course. 

I do wonder at what point I'll stop laughing along with this recent phase and ask myself whether we've got a full blown issue developing here. Though I think I'll give it some time yet. Besides, what would I do without magic moments like the one I captured today. Angus darting full pelt across the room and launching himself in front of the lens, just as I was about to snap a cheeky pic of Felix on the quiet. Amazing how he seems to know when I'm doing this. Golden memories of little green eyes. Right... here.

Monday, February 21, 2011

There's something about Miranda

I think it's fair to say, that I might just have a big girl crush on Miranda Kerr. Is it the fame and fortune? Not really. Is it the jet-setting, globe trotting, star power lifestyle? Uh Uh. Popularity? Nah. Movie star husband? Afraid not. Is it the breathtaking beauty, to-die-for body and mind-blowing career she has forged for herself? Well, ok, it could be partly to do with this. But in all honesty, what I am most in awe of, is this down-to-earth Aussie gal's ability to keep it so real. I have always liked her and I am not easily impressed, when it comes to famous people. I appreciate individual qualities in most actors, singers, supermodels and the like. But rarely do I sincerely like what I see in these people.

When Miranda gave birth to her first child at the beginning of the year, I was blown away by the delightful photo she released of herself, breast feeding her newborn son. This captured a most (if not THE most) precious moment between mother and baby. Then so very endearing was her choice, to unveil this much sort after first baby pic alongside her own article about the birth, on the Kora Organics blog page. What. a. gal!

I'll admit I am quite the avid follower on Miranda's Facebook page (along with 400,000 or so other fans). Herein lies the key to the big girl crush I refer to. What I find most incredible is that she actually writes to her fans at this location. She takes the time to acknowledge people who adore her, to answer questions and offer valuable advice on health and beauty. She has a heart of gold and an endless measure of charm, providing hope and above all else, confidence, to so many. I seriously find it hard to imagine a person in her amazing position, being so positively natural and sharing quite so much of themselves. Yet she is and she does

And so this little crush confirms to me one thing I have found to be comprehensively true since the day I became a Mama myself... that motherhood is indeed a universal leveller. 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

First Word

It's official! My baby boy has delivered his very first word. A decidedly enthusiastic and distinctive... "MAMA"! I will always remember Angus' first word... "Dada". I can recall feeling stoked for Scott back then and quietly hoping that he would utter my name next. It took him a couple of months to finally say it and I was thrilled. So hearing Felix screeching "Mama" over and over, to all who will listen, leaves me positively tickled pink. This weekend has seen the clarity improve and the frequency increase. For the past week or so, he has been unwell AND teething, so everything that comes out of his mouth has been a sad, high pitched wail, at times resembling a "Maaaaaaaa. Ma". But now, it is unmistakable and I am relishing in the sweet tones of "Mama", ringing in my ears.

I have a feeling it may have alot to do with Angus, as Felix is forced to listen to him calling out to me, day in, day out. He is bound to latch on to words that are mentioned no less than 150 times a day. When Angus was a bub, I would be dropping the Dada word around him constantly. "Dada will be home soon", "Dada's on the phone", "Dada loves you so much". I guess it's all about repetition with first words. Admittedly, Felix's first word has come as a lovely surprise. I can't see myself ever growing tired of hearing my name in those squeaky baby coo's. Ahhh, bliss.

Felix will be seven and a half months old tomorrow. The time insists on galloping past and these precious milestones are reminders for me, just how quickly they grow up. He is so exceptionally sweet natured, even when he is feeling miserable, he still manages a smile or a giggle or a cheeky squint of his big brown eyes. He is at a beautiful stage, being content to stay sitting on the floor playing and observing. He rarely protests from this position, so I plan to just enjoy his easygoing temperament, while it lasts. Now that his first word has been mastered in the vocabulary, I'm looking forward with great anticipation, to the next one.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A Sad Farewell

In February 2002, Scott and I moved in together. The parents of Scott's best mate Steve, offered us a 2 bedroom apartment, with an amazing backyard, five minutes stroll from Coogee Beach. The apartment was attached to the main house on the property. I had never lived out of my family home before and it meant massive changes for a wide eyed, 23 year old me. Unlike many of my friends, I had no real desire to flit the nest and I probably wouldn't have for at least a few more years either. I was content, my parents were great to live with and I was paying a measly sixty buckeroos per week for board. It was a pretty sweet arrangement. But along came this too good to refuse opportunity. Absurdly low rental, no lease and no bond to speak of. Certainly a great incentive to take our relationship to the next stage, without the usual pressures of moving into a rental property. There was a period of significant adjustment on my part, not so much living with a boyfriend for the first time, more so missing the home I had always known. Missing my Mama

Prior to moving in, I had only met Steve's parents on a handful of occasions. Andy and Betty were a wonderful couple. Friendly, intelligent, kind, incredibly resourceful and generous to a fault. Both of them just a couple of years younger than my parents. They loved a chat. My, they loved a chat. Thankfully, so do I. They were THE perfect landlords. Although not once did they ever treat us like we were tenants. So for the next two and a half years, we called this place home and we loved every aspect of it. We moved out in July 2004, only months before our wedding, as we found a top little unit that we decided to buy, just down the road and still in Coogee. Betty fell ill with a cancerous brain tumour, that same year and required a full time live in nurse, who moved into the apartment we had been living in. By Christmas 2006, Betty lost her fight with cancer, which had spread to various other parts of her body, in just two short years. For Andy and the rest of the family, losing Betty was utterly devastating, the heart of their home taken away much too soon. Andy, who had always enjoyed travelling, for work and pleasure, threw himself into as many research trips as he possibly could. He ventured to Antarctica, South America and Europe. He worked long and hard. Trying to heal a little of the pain. In 2009, another cruel blow, Andy was diagnosed with cancer of the kidney. He struggled to cope with the realisation of his own mortality, not quite three years since the death of his beloved wife. But he fought the battle all the same. After sixteen long, harrowing months, Andy lost his fight last Sunday evening. He was to turn 70 this year, in June. 

Yesterday, we said goodbye to a father, a grandfather, a father-in-law, a brother and a very dear friend. A man who kept a brilliant garden and breathtaking home. A man who accomplished so very much through his scientific research. A man who raised two successful children and adored his five young grandchildren. A man who loved cricket, classical music, good food and fine wine. A man who (along with his darling wife) indirectly contributed to the foundations built by my husband and I all those years ago, when we were just starting out. Without their benevolence, we would certainly not have been able to afford the hefty deposit on our first home, nor would I have felt quite so cared for in my first home away from home. Like so many others, we feel privileged to have known Andy and are comforted by the fact that his legacy lives on in our great friend Steve and his family. A rather poignant and fitting verse read during Andy's service yesterday:

Don't Be Too Sad
~ John W Tease ~

I've lived my life
I've tried my best
The memories I hold dear,
Are experiences I have known
Of happiness and tears.
The love of my family
The care of of my friends,
The good times I've shared
Right to the end.

I've travelled life's byways
Seen children grow up,
Experienced life's living
And drunk from love's cup.
I leave you with memories with thoughts of you all
I'm no longer with you
But your mind will recall,
The good times we shared
The laugher we had,
Please cherish these memories
And don't be too sad.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Hard Yards

I think I can chalk today up as one of THE most difficult days I have experienced as a Mama. The boys are both still sick, I am sick and as irrational as it may seem, I spent a good portion of the day cursing preschool for all of it. My rational mind of course realises that it is not exclusively preschools fault. Although Angus has never been this sick continuously in his 3 years of life. This morning specifically takes the crown for hideousness. Angus worked himself into such a lather over a TWO HOUR period (no joke) that he fell asleep by midday. Only to wake up thirty short minutes later, even more morose and equally as vocal as before.

Ironically it all started over panadol and my refusal to let him have some. It is strange how children find taking medicine either painfully repulsive OR peculiarly fascinating. We seem to be going through the peculiarly fascinating stage right now. But this is where lessons need to be taught and as I endeavoured to explain, panadol is not a treat. In the end it became more about me making a point to him, as his tantrum almost warranted some mild sedative intervention. Regardless, I stood strong. Or more like stood weak, with a strong mind. By early afternoon, I was at my wit's end. I knew we needed to get out of the house. A few more hours of the nonsense endured throughout the morning and we both may have required hypnotic therapy.

I buckled the boys into the car and headed straight for the park. I chose a park nearby where we used to live in Coogee. I thought this one would be especially good for today as it is quiet, overlooks the ocean and no one is ever there, at least on the occasions I have been to it. Feeling as physically zapped as I did, I was in no mood for park chit chat. How awful that sounds. Well, it did the trick and slowly slowly I witnessed my pent-up little spring of a 3 year old, unwind. We played for about an hour and a half. We all needed this time so very desperately. This evening we were in a much calmer space. Scott is working late, so I made a point of working through dinner, baths & bedtime early and methodically. I have been up to the boys every night this week, averaging about 3 hours sleep per night. So I am thinking I may just hit the sack myself sooner than later. You need every bit of strength you can muster, when you're on the frontline. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Domestic God

It would seem I have a little shadow. It is nothing new to be followed everywhere when you're a mama. Nowhere is sacred. The number of Mama's who remark to me so often that they never get any peace and quiet. Even in what is supposed to be the most private of places, it is still access all areas for the kidlets. For a good 12 months now, Angus has been evolving into a fine example of domesticity.  I put some of it down to spending the two days a week with my parents when I returned to work. My Mama in particular, is so patient in letting him learn and explore anything and everything when it comes to household chores and the garden.

I noticed his domestic qualities initially through his enthusiasm to assist with vacuuming. From here it has branched out to mops, cloths and cleaning products, of all things (I have explained possibly 10,000 times about poison and how it is not for 3 year olds to be handling... semantics in his eyes). He loves hanging the washing out and especially likes the clothes horse... as naturally, it is more his height. Then the obvious progression... placing said clothes into their rightful locations. The waste management almost has to be left to him exclusively, or it can cause quite the scene. I have been known to sneak out to the bins while he's in the shower, to avoid any 'incidents' over who gets to take the rubbish out. Washing up dishes is another passion. Along with his little blue IKEA foot stool, which he carries everywhere, enabling him to be quite dexterous in making his way to the sink, turning on the tap (cold water only) and rinsing off dirty cups, plates and lately, Felix's bottles. Just try stopping him!

Now if I was a tad more skilled in the kitchen, I think I may even have a budding junior master chef on my hands also. Alas, I'm fairly basic with my chosen meals, I do like to whip up an impressive cake or dessert however. In any case, my little domestic god is ALWAYS right by my side. Be it peeling vegies or baking a batch of cupcakes, he is in his element when in the thick of it all. At times his intense participation creates added hard work on my part. Just recently, he has taken to holding my wrist whenever I need to chop, peel or dice. It proves very tricky, as not only am I trying to prepare meals successfully, I am also nervously keeping the chubby little hands of a 3 year old at bay. But once more, try stopping him! He is mightily determined and super persistent. At the end of the day, I'm quietly in awe of him and all he has mastered on the domestic front. Plus, I may as well enjoy it, as it will no doubt be a short-lived phase. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

My Special Valentine

We don't 'do' Valentines Day around here. In 2004 (the year we married) I received a lovely bunch of long stemmed red roses, with a beautiful card from my husband-to-be. Twas precisely the last time I received a Valentine from him. In fact every year since we were married we go about the same little ritual. About a week (or a day) before Valentine's Day, Scott will check with me in a very matter of fact tone "we don't do Valentine's, do we?" And that is just fine by me. In my eyes, it is completely and ridiculously overrated. A TOTAL waste of money. Not to mention, just another day where hopes and expectations are set to be dashed, if cupid misses the mark. Who really needs a day like that!? 

So this Valentine's I was lucky enough to spend the day with two adorable cherubs. Well sure, they're my boys and that's who I spend all my days with, but it was love, love, love all the same. Poor baby Felix has been rather poorly these past few days. I think he may have been hit with a double whammy of the residual head cold and a couple of cruel, new teeth poking through his tender gums. He was MISERABLE last night. From around midnight onwards he lay wrapped around me, his tiny face buried deep in my neck. Just how Angus did when he was teething. Every few minutes he would twitch and writhe in a moment of pain. I felt very tired and helpless around the 3am mark, as I knew short of a dose of baby panadol, there wasn't much else I could do to appease his discomfort. 

Angus slept well, but hasn't managed to shake his constant runny nose (thank you preschool) yet either, therefore all three of us were a little bleary eyed today. However, the day did not go by without a special delivery. One day last week, while watching the Morning Show and feeding Felix, a TV Shop commercial came on. It is one I have seen no less than 500 times, so I started to tune out. BUT. Thenfor some unknown reason, it tweaked my interest on this particular day. Could have been the fact that I have had a very poor body image for the last 5 months. Maybe something to do with not being able to fit into ANY of my pants or jeans. Though, I'm absolutely certain in the end it was the idea of owning a piece of equipment guaranteed (?) to help rid my tummy of it's folds and flab, while acquiring a killer set of abs, in just 3 short minutes per day... sure it can! So, very unlike me (in fact my first ever TV infomercial purchase. Honestly!!) I dialled and ordered myself an Ab Circle Pro. 

Despite my initial concerns that I was the quintessential desperate housewife purchasing dust collecting rubbish from a tacky daytime TV commercial, after the shock wore off, I was mildly excited. I'm sure the delivery guy felt bad for me when I appeared at the door this afternoon, cranky baby on hip, chatty & snotty child at my side. Instead of delivering a crisp box adorned with shiny ribbons, containing dozens of delightful blooms and mouth-watering choccies, here he is, requesting the signature of an exhausted mama, taking possession of her shiny new Ab Circle Pro. For a non-participant in what is an exceedingly over commercialised love fest, I couldn't be more chuffed with my delivery this Valentine's Day. Right on TV Shop!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Cheap & Cheerful

About two and a half years ago, a tradition was born. It came about thanks to a rather providential occurrence, being the formation of my mother's group. Being first time mama's, we were eager to share in the experience of motherhood with people who knew exactly what each of us were going through. So six from the wider group of mama's, decided to begin the tradition based on our mutual love of good food, good wine and good conversation. Only months earlier perfect strangers, then before we realised, we were w(h)ining and dining together on a monthly basis.

We originally labelled these nights as Cheap & Cheerful, due simply to the fact that we like to keep it as simple, hassle free and fun as we can. No need for swanky venues with a chef hat rating. Just nice, relaxed places that are reasonably close to home. There are certainly no shortage of mouth watering options in the area we live in, so we enjoy quite the cross section of foods from basic pub meals to more exotic cuisine. The best part is we get to catch up with each other sans babes. Always resulting in good solid discussion. With no interruptions.

Last night was actually our first gal's dinner for 2011 and we found ourselves back at one of our fave Lebanese restaurants. Boy, did we eat our weight in dips and breads and salads and meats AND vegetables. A lovely Oyster Bay white to accompany our delicious meal. Then customary of course to round off the night with an indulgent serving of Baklava. Always tastes better and removes some of the guilt when it's shared. So that's exactly what we did.

As per usual, alot of our chit chat revolved around the kids, the hubby's and our work. All of the girls, bar myself, were born and bred overseas. All from either the UK or The US, as are all of their hubby's. This brings about an entirely new layer of challenges that I haven't had to face as a mama. These gals are majorly homesick for a great portion of their lives and seem to live for their next trip home or when home visits them. Listening to each of them speak last night made me feel really fortunate that I do not have to walk in their shoes. I am raising my boys here in Australia, where ALL of my family reside. Where almost ALL of my long term friends reside. The same goes for Scott with his family and friends. I have literally no concept of how difficult, how much of a struggle and emotional pull these gals must go through every single day.

Hearing them speak so frankly, I began to fully appreciate the bond we have formed over these past few years. I know they feel the same way. In fact probably even more so than I do. In some ways, our support network that started as a mother's group, then evolved into a circle of mama's getting together for a cheap & cheerful night out once a month, has become a close knit band of friends. Sharing, supporting and understanding each other as though we'd known one another all our lives. Needless to say, we are looking most forward to our next gal's dinner, sometime in March and as always, a few much loved catchup's penciled in with our adorable babes in tow.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Home among the gum trees

The first time I saw our house I knew it was for us. It was a feeling. A GREAT feeling. I have come to realise that when a gal gets a feeling (and a strong one at that), come hell or high water, nothing is going to alter that feeling. It works out remarkably well that Scott is more than happy to relinquish any choices to do with the home to me. With the exception of the actual location of course. That one, we need to be in agreement on. 

I can clearly remember walking through the front door and thinking how narrow it was. Being a terrace house, there wasn't much chance of it being anything other than small and I did know this. I had already done my online research thoroughly. Seen the measurements. In turn, measured our existing furnishings in our equally tiny apartment. I actually even snuck off on a Saturday morning, an eighteen month old Angus perched on my hip, while Scott was playing golf. I recall not being too concerned about viewing it on my own, as like so many other places I/we had looked at, I didn't hold out a great deal of hope that this was "the one". That was until I stepped inside.

Apart from it being in all round excellent condition (particularly for a dwelling built circa 1885), it had a true sense of coziness about it. A place I knew I could call home. As I wandered through, I was completely blown away by the magnificent gum trees towering sky high just past the courtyard. Creating an almost country like scene, from both the kitchen picture window and one of the upstairs bedrooms. If I had not already known this place was actually within a 5km radius of the city, I would have thought it was miles from anywhere. Those incredible gums. Stretching so tall and proud against the backdrop of blue sky. 

Fast forward 18 months to the present and my original romantic illusions are somewhat plagued. I feel now I have learnt five key things about trying to acquire your own little piece of country... in the big city: 

  1. Gum trees lose their leaves ALL. YEAR. LONG - our courtyard testament to this, flaunting a permanent gum leaf carpet. Perfect if we owned a pet koala. Not so perfect for trying to keep a paved courtyard looking fresh and clean. LOTS and LOTS of maintenance. 
  2. Gum nuts drop twice the quantity AND twice as often as the leaves do - Unfortunately they are nowhere near as delicate under foot either. Not to mention they have an artful way of lodging themselves into anything and everything! Socks, undies, shoes... the list goes on.
  3. Eucalyptus isn't always an alluring native fragrance - as un-Australian as that statement may be, during wet weather, sweet eucalyptus scent transforms into a determined pungent stench. Similar only to that of a territorial tomcat, who is yet to be desexed. Quite repulsive.
  4. If the wind is a-blowing, the gum tree will be a-swaying - we have experienced a handful of gale force wind storms, each and every time leaving us praying that the giant limbs teetering over our yard, will in fact stay connected to the main trunk of the tree. NOT plummet down through the roof of our bathroom or kitchen. The clean up after such storms once again exceeds the general leaf/gum nut clean up... two fold
  5. Finally, a fairly obvious lesson I have learnt... massive trees have equally massive root structure - it took me three plumber visits and over $5000 in repairs, in our first year of living here, to fully fathom the damage tree roots can do to the sewer line/drainage of a built up, suburban based terrace house. OUCH!
Scott, myself and our neighbours have often wondered why trees of this size and structure were ever even planted in the middle of suburbia. We've discussed it at length and contemplated a solution to our 'lessons learnt'. Essentially they are on public land, which just so happens to be land at the foot of our properties. Probably the result of someone's whimsical dream way back when. A way of providing shade, a sanctuary for bird and other wildlife, a little piece of country within the city, maybe? It's anybody's guess. But looking out of my boy's bedroom window on these summer evenings, as I close the blinds on the day, I can actually see why someone would want to create this type of setting. It's peaceful and bright. Appealing to the eye. It is the view I fell in love with the very first time I laid eyes on it. Hard lessons learnt and all, I do have a soft spot for those pesky gums.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Under The Weather

It seems both my boys are not sparking on all plugs at the moment (my Mama has long used this expression for when my brothers or I are not well). It started off with a few sniffles and a bit of congestion in Angus. Overnight it seems to have hopped on over to baby Felix. Poor little mite woke this morning with a very wet nose. So sad to see him this way. He still manages a smile, a chuckle, even a cuddle. It is hard to tell that he's unwell at all. Except he's nowhere near as ravenous as he usually is about his vegies and he's a wee bit cranky. Oh and of course, nose running like a tap! I feel so fortunate that this is only the second time Felix has been unwell, ever. In saying that, I still don't like it and can't wait until both my little boys are back to their buoyant, cheeky best.

Given poor health and a gloomily overcast morning, I made an executive decision early, that it would be a stay at home day. Always fraught with disaster are the stay at home days. During wet weather spells, I simply dread being stuck inside all day. Not that we find it hard to keep ourselves occupied, but the mindset of being cooped up, without fresh air pumping through our lungs. Makes me feel quite nauseous thinking about it. However, considering two young sickies and a mama with a somewhat scratchy throat herself, it seemed the right decision for today. 

To my surprise, it actually wasn't as bad as I'd mentally prepared for. We ploughed through lots of housework, something Angus is only too happy to partake in. We played and chatted. We did lock horns a couple of times, but this is to be expected on stay at home days. We made ourselves a slapped together lunch of cheese, olives, jatz, raisin toast and fresh fruit. Unconventional, yet fulfilling. Most importantly, Felix napped precisely when he needed to, often a benefit of being at home.

Hopefully my boys can kick this summer nasty really quickly (and maybe not share it quite as much with Scott and I in the meantime) so that we can all get back to feeling on top of the world. Much like Angus in these pictures taken last weekend during the scorching hot heat wave we all endured. Cavorting around, cooling off, under the hose at Nana & Pop's place. Nice to witness my son enjoying the simple pleasures I also indulged in, growing up in this glorious quarter acre piece of paradise.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Dancin' the night away

I don't get out often. Sounds a little depressing to start off like this. I actually mean out on the town. With the gals. Kicking up our heels. Without a care in the world. These days a nice satisfying dinner, trip to the movies or play date with all the kiddies, is more on my agenda. All of which definitely good stuff. However, there is something that every once in a while I simply LOVE to do. If the opportunity arises, be it a birthday, wedding, concert or even a hen's night. I am in my element and feel completely and unashamedly liberated, when I am dancing. Wild. Crazy. Sweat inducing. D-a-n-c-i-n-g

Saturday night undeniably belonged to the ladies. Or hen's as it were. My beautiful, dear, childhood friend Kristy, being the chief hen. For once, it was a hen's night consisting of all good clean fun. No sleazy stripper in sight. No ridiculous pranks or dares. Just a bunch of old (and I mean long term, not age) friends livin' it up in the big city. Back in the day, long before marriage and children and mortgages, night's like Saturday were a weekend ritual. We all met in high school (some 19 years ago... yikes!) and a few of us don't get to see one another near enough nowadays. But I'm a firm believer that time will always stand still for good friendships.

So we conquered The Rocks, glasses topped full of our chosen poison. Talking, giggling, squealing and I may have mentioned... DANCING. Around midnight, we decided to take a short stroll a little further uptown to one of Sydney's oldest and most established pubs, Jackson's on George. It is old school dingy, despite evidently undergoing a little makeover since I was last there. But just as I remember, it delivers a good mix of dance classics. Modern and not so modern. We melted through a stifling Sydney heat wave, but it failed to deter us from carving up the dance floor. Feeling eighteen once again. Well, almost eighteen. Few more wrinkles and grey hairs. Slightly less stamina. Though it sure did transport us back to a fun loving time. We made it into the wee hours of Sunday, so I guess we still have "it" in some capacity, for a bunch of thirty somethings anyway. Oh! how I enjoy a boogie with friends.

My fabulous friend Rach captured these golden moments during her snap happy frenzy. A couple of them are utterly cringe-worthy. But wonderfully memorable all the same.

Friday, February 4, 2011

A week of firsts

This week we had one major first, which seemed to consume alot of my thinking space. It was at the forefront of my mind for much of the week. When it wasn't at the front, it lingered at the back. Essentially, it controlled my feelings, actions and mood. With all the trepidation, the tears and at times excitement, I am glad we now have this particular first behind us. It made this one feel like a terribly long, drawn out week. We're all worn out. Over it. In need of some down time. Though I remain filled with promise that each week will indeed get easier. Step by step. Preschool will become a customary part of our lives. 

Another first this week, has been in the personal achievement category. My first proper exercise session of 2011. Actually it was well before Christmas since my last true workout, by this I mean a full blown sweat fest. It has made me feel rather gloomy at various stages, being in a fitness lull. I made a deal with myself that as soon as Angus started preschool, I would incorporate exercise into at least some of the spare time I have without him. So during both two hour orientation mornings and today, I hit the pavement. Working Felix's morning nap in nicely, I walked approximately 5km on each of the days, while he slept. Three power walk stints in five days. Mildly impressed with myself over that. 

By far the most enjoyable first of this week happened today. Felix experienced his very first ocean dip. His adorable smile spoke a thousand words. He was enraptured. Angus was a bit older when he took his first step into the sea. He was guarded and slightly more reluctant than Felix was today. It's a shame I was unable to freeze frame the enthusiasm on his chubby face during, but I did manage to take a cheerful shot as he was drying off after his swim. Amidst what is reported to be Sydney's longest heat wave on record, it felt thoroughly fitting to plonk the little guy into one of Coogee's most glorious ocean pools. A perfect spot for the little ones. Truly a moment I will treasure forever. I think I could get used to more of this one-on-one time with my seven month old companion.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Day One... Tick!

Today was Angus' first official day of preschool. It went pretty well. Though I think it is going to be a little rough for a while. I cried. AGAIN. Not in front of him today. But as soon as I walked out the gate, my throat constricted and the all too familiar salty discharge filled my eyes. I felt an unmistakable sense of emptiness as I drove away. It felt too easy, too lazy almost, having to handle just the one baby. It's only been seven months and already I've forgotten what it's like to be a one child woman.

So with my new found "freedom" (so everyone keeps informing me), I hit the local Baker's Delight, to select a tasty array of goodies. Not all for myself. I may have been miserable, but comfort eating only gets me so far. Instead I took them straight to a friend's place, to share over a few laughs and a nice catch up with some great mates. The four of us, each with a babe under one year, take every opportunity to get together when we can. It's always good therapy and today it was just the ticket for me. A few hours with the gals eased me through the first day without my little man.

Of course, I was the first parent to arrive for pickup. I had little doubt I would be. I was SO excited to see him and I think the feeling was mutual. He literally jumped at me, very nearly bowling me over from my kneeling position. With that, I felt whole again. I know it will get easier with time and who knows I might even look forward to sending him on his merry little way one day. But for now, I'll be the first mama hen to arrive at the gate for pickup each afternoon.

So today I am thankful for a great many things. For wonderful friends, who are always there and take the sting out of arduous moments. For Baker's Delight, who bake just about the best spinach & feta twists and choc mud scones I've ever tasted. For my second born, Felix Andrew, who gives me joy and hope in the fact that he's only a baby and I still have a few years left to nurture, cherish and smother him with love, before he heads off to preschool. And for the little preschooler called Angus, who's contagious sparkle never fails to bring light into my life. Now, even more than ever.