Wednesday, 5 March 2014


What a strange and wonderful thing, to wake up in a hotel room cloaked in the anonymity of the big city, with a whole weekend before us to explore it with just one baby in our arms. We decided to take just the smallest of bites of Melbourne, walking around the streets and gardens of Fitzroy before the wedding that had taken us to the other side of the country. Wandering through shops and stopping to eat whenever the fancy took us - in keeping with the three hour time difference which we never really got on top of for the three days we were there. And I remembered for a moment the lure of the metropolis; the pulse of the big city which seems so far away now from the life in the country that we have chosen.

Thea helped calm my nerves by jostling for the microphone as I read some words I had penned for one of my oldest and dearest friends on her wedding day. I hoped the cute baby on my hip might distract the crowd. I always find weddings so uplifting. Who can help but be buoyed by the love and joy in the air? I still have the words of the gospel song we ended the ceremony with ringing in my head: "Love brought me here. Joy brought me here. I'm gonna sing while I'm here, today." I am still singing.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Big city threads

We're off to Melbourne on the weekend - Thea, Grant and I. And I am just starting to pull together all we will need for our weekend in the city, starting with an outfit for Thea to wear to her very first wedding. All those pretty dresses of hers are off limits while she is crawling - her knees get caught and she cannot get anywhere in a hurry. These simple sewn children tops and bottoms, a pattern by Wendy Hanson from Made by hand, should be more practical (but still pretty) I hope. Although I am looking at the weekend forecast and wondering whether I still have time to make a pair of long pants as a back up.

We are dropping the boys off at the farm and heading straight to the airport from there. I know they are going to have as much fun as we are, exploring the city with our little one. Tractors and motorbikes and chickens and cows beat urban cafes, shopping and adult conversation any day of the week in their opinion. It has been so long since we have spent any time away from our little town. It is going to be amazing!

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Ten months

And just like that she was ten months old. She has been out longer than she was in now. Long enough to learn to stand, unaided even for a second or two. To grow four teeth in two quick weeks - two for my birthday and two for Darcy's. To learn to crawl with one leg crooked up beneath her. Long enough to develop an allergy to grass (which I think she was actually born with, her feet turning red and rashy the first time they touched the back lawn when she was a few days old) - making crawling around the garden after her brothers a pastime fraught with danger. Long enough to learn how to wave and clap, and throw back her head when she laughs, crinkling up her eyes in imitation of her wrinkly parents.

My Dad forwarded a photo of Thea to his business associates far and wide with a brief caption: "She has her mum's crows' feet." "How rude!" I thought, while scanning the image of my baby girl for signs of any premature wrinkling. He was oblivious until a South African colleague pointed out that she had always called those strawberry blotches babies get on the napes of their necks and between their eyes stork beak marks. Storks, not crows! Thea still has her birthmark, but is showing no sign of crows' feet just yet. I, on the other hand...

Running around

It is the last week of summer but it feels like the season has already turned here on the south coast. The mornings are cool and misty and there is the slightest bight in the air that whispers to me promises of autumn. But the days are still hot and dry and if you slept in until the sun was high in the sky (which just does not happen in this house) you would never know that summer was nearly gone.

I crept out of bed with Thea just as the sun was rising yesterday, intending to slip on my running shoes and make a dash for the river before anyone realised we were up. But a procession of three tousled blond heads tripping out of the boys' room before I could reach the back door put paid to that idea. Instead they quickly dressed and negotiated how they were going to join me on my early Sunday run, while Grant took his turn at a weekend sleep in. Lewis hopped on his bike, Quinn climbed in next to Thea and Darcy climbed onto the couch, annoyed that he would have to share my company and preferring to forgo it entirely.

Down the hill we thundered and into the river valley, where the mist curled off the water like smoke, and spectres of pelicans loomed through the morning light that slanted sideways through the paperbarks. Across the old railway bridge, where the river opens out into the wide blue inlet, then back along the swampy eastern bank, the gravel crunching underfoot and the dried fronds of watsonia flicking against the sides of the trailer.

We were back up the hill and flipping pancakes before the mist had lifted, my mood and mind buoyed by the blood pumping through my veins; the water; the forest; the call of the birds as we tripped beneath the canopy and the chatter of my three year old as he named each one in turn. While more sleep would always be a welcome thing, getting up and getting out is surely the next best thing. It is my thrice-weekly therapy, this forest loop of mine.

While perhaps one day I will take my camera along with me on my run, I prefer to keep my hands on the handlebar and my heart-rate steady. So here are some shots of the kids turning the backyard into a waterpark on the weekend instead.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

birthday candles

After five years of birthdays our old beeswax birthday candles had burnt down to their stubs. I bought them the year Darcy turned one and they helped us to sing in every birthday until he turned six in the campground by the beach this summer. No home baking this year - just a generic supermarket icecream cake melting into a puddle after a night in the esky (alongside a nutella crepe stack I whipped up on the campstove while the kids were at their swimming lessons and I was hiding treasure in the bush and stringing pears from the clothesline). 

So when this book arrived (for my birthday - thank you Rachel!) and I had a recipe for birthday candles in my hands there was no holding me back. My previous foray into candlemaking had not gone beyond melting down the ends of old candles into a glass jar and sticking a bit of string in the middle. These required slightly more technical equipment - but not much. A roll of wicking from the craftshop; a block of beeswax from the meadery; an old tin from the shed. While the baby slept on the weekend I dipped and rolled - the soft honey scent of the beeswax drifting through the house on the summer breeze. The shapes that emerged from the pot were lumpy and organic, and not at all like the straight little numbers I intended, but I think I liked them all the more for it.

I was aiming to make 37 - for that is how old Grant turned today - but stopped at 20. And we could only squeeze eight onto the cake this evening, so I would say we are good for birthday candles for the next decade at least.  Which makes my head spin a bit just thinking about how old my children will be by the time the last one burns down. My baby girl turns one in two months' time. We will just take it one birthday at a time.