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!

Monday, 24 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.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Summer days

We dived into summer and embraced days filled with sunshine and warmth and family that slipped past like beads on a necklace given a good tug by an enthusiastic baby. And from the start of holidays until the first day back at school this week I hardly picked up my camera or opened my laptop - shiny and new from its wrappings under the Christmas tree as it was. As we settle back into a new rhythm, with all my boys at school now for at least part of the week, I am taking a breath and finding there are now moments in each day when I can pause and look about me, and perhaps even write. 

Here are a few moments scavenged from our summer days. The camera never made it as far as the beach, which is where we spent most of our days, including an entire week camped at a favourite spot with old and dear friends.

We have been picking meals from our summer vegetable garden most days - and I am now sending the boys out to gather a handful of cherry tomatoes for their lunchboxes each morning. There have been bowls full of plums and nectarines from our garden and Grandma's - and many a plum cake too. 

Two new Pekin ducks - Duckie and Lucy - came to join our flock after Grant finished fox proofing the run. We were kept in a steady supply of eggs (the ducks are not yet laying) as we looked after friends' flocks while they holidayed away from home. But I am hoping to get some new chooks to keep our one surviving hen company this week.

We headed up the river in search of tadpoles, marching to the beat of the cicadas, during the last week of holidays. Not a tadpole was to be seen. Where the frogs in our garden lay their eggs I am not sure, but a new expedition will be setting forth soon to let the smaller members of our family watch the tadpoles magically transform into frogs as our days gradually soften into autumn.