Saturday, 31 March 2007

week 7 (or: I can't think of a witty one liner but I don't care)

I had my 6 week check up with my obstetrician yesterday. It was kind of sad to say goodbye to someone who has been a part of such momentous events in your life, someone who I'm only likely to see again if there is something wrong with me. It's been nice to have a relationship with a medical provider which isn't based on sickness.

But the good news is that everything is healed and looking normal. It was also nice to be greeted no less than 6 times yesterday with "gee, you're looking good" (raised eyebrows). I choose not to take offence at the suggestion I normally don't look good or can't be expected to look good, and interpret these surprised words as a sign I have recovered from birth and am dealing with infancy better than most. Yeah, that's what they meant for sure, I'm freaking fantastic.

I also spent quite a few hours in Lygon Street before and after my appointment. This precinct is known as little Italy for its extensive selection of Italian restaurants and history as the home of multitudes of Italian migrants in the 40s and 50s. It also happens to be home to the Royal Women's Hospital where my babes were born, and thus also to multitudes of O&G practices and thus is preggers and baby central.

I always loved going to my prenatal appointments so I could visit this fecund world, where big bellys are de rigeur, prams the norm and crying babies looked upon kindly. Going back after the birth everyone appreciates your prize and you get more oohs and ahhs than anywhere else in Melbourne. There is also a lot of appreciation and discussion of baby clothes, sling/wrap/baby carrier styles and all other baby issues. I felt like such a dab hand as everyone (complete strangers as well as the team of doctors, midwives and support staff who have come to know us) raved over Wil's hand knitted jumper, hand sewn leggings, cute hat and hand made carrier. I felt totally on top of things and that felt really good. I even managed to balance Wil on my knee at an outdoor cafe in the freezing wind and breastfeed whilst sitting on a stool. With my bosoms that's a real feat.

I came home exhausted after carrying Wil commando style for something like 6 hours, and was greeted with this. Noise and diesel fumes and a whole lot of dirt.

We spent last weekend clearing the yard of plants ready for the excavator. I collected some seeds to help when we finally get a garden back.

The back of the house went from thisto this and behind the deck from this to this to this. Come spring there will be a lot of work to do, and between now and then a lot of dirt and mud (if it ever rains) to keep out of the house. I guess this means we're doing the extension for real now.

I also started a new knitting project. I gave up on the cowl. It was just too boring to knit and since I have a rule to never start a new knitting project until the last one is finished, I pulled the whole thing out and rewound the wool and put it away for another day. Instead I've launched into another hoody, this time for Wil. I scored all this lovely Debbie Bliss cashmerino aran from Simmy so I know I will have enough this time to actually get the hood done, which is very exciting (thanks again Simmy!). I am loving the speed with which the aran weight knits up and I'm remembering all over again what a delight this pattern is to knit too - all in one neck down raglan sleeves. LOVE IT!

Now speaking of delightful gifts from bloggy friends I have to share this amazing package I got from Shula in exchange for the 50's bathing suit. Some lovely fabric and fibre. That orange and brown fabric is just magic and the silk thread is so vibrant and soft and shiny - I just love it.

But I reserve my sheer delight for these handmade goodies. A funky ted for Wil and a super sparkly embroidered and sequined Cindy for Amy. Cindy was made in India based on an original design by Shula's amazingly talented girl Mym, and both the design and workpersonship of the execution are truly exceptional. Amy wants to frame it for the wall because she's worried someone will 'touch it' and 'hurt it', but I'm sad to think it might lose some of it's magic behind glass, so I'm still ruminating on this one (did anyone else watch the house of obsessive compulsives? I cannot use the word ruminating anymore without thinking about the desire to confess to crimes...).

In other news I am terribly excited because we've just finalised our third craft weekend (if you missed them one and two were fabulous). Though these get togethers have always been child free I got a dispensation to bring Wil, which means I may not get much crafting done, but at least I get to go. I am setting modest expectations for myself. Trying anyway.

Anyway, that's my whole Saturday morning gone so I'm off to shop for a great big dinner tonight with old friend and many kids. I'm doing a roast in celebration of the frigid weather and because it's easier than thinking. Whew. Oh and news on the give aways will be coming next week. When I have 5 minutes to think.

Monday, 26 March 2007

when I was one I was just begun

A year ago today I started this thing with blogger. At first I was as giddy as a schoolgirl, so in love. But I felt guilty too. I was leaving behind my original blog and while it was far from perfect, we'd been places together. It was when I was planning my overseas stint in early 2005 that a friend suggested I start a blog for the people back home and (I kid you not) I asked what a blog was. Could that have only been 2 years ago?

Blog #1 was where I'd started out and it was witness to my learning curve, both as a blogger and as an expat in Thailand. What an amazing time I had there. So much to see, so much to do. Isolation from home, friends, family and other distractions freed me up to explore new frontiers. That and procrastinating from my real job, writing my Masters thesis.

I was lucky to have a hot house period - both literally and metaphorically - sitting at my sweltering desk day after day oscillating between the dense interior world of academic research and the vibrant exciting world of travel and exploration that awaited me with every trip out the front door. I had a lot to blog about and the time and inclination to explore.

My crafting really blossomed too - mostly because circumstances forced me to use unfamiliar materials and minimal infrastructure, but also because I discovered a crafting community through blogs. Like so many before me I started off with Loobylu, sadly now defunct, and from there the world exploded with inspirations from far and wide. Bit by bit I slid into being a craft blogger first and foremost.

So I moved over to Blogger because my MSN host was (let's be honest) a dog with fleas. I felt really constrained by the technology and hampered from joining the blogging community, largely because commenting was virtually impossible. So I was excited to be going from sole operator to part of something bigger, but the move to blogger also signaled that I was moving on from a time that stood out as one of the happiest and most fulfilling of my life.

I feel sad I can't download the old blog and keep it and maybe even upload it here for posterity and the occasional walk down memory lane. I still remember what it was like writing that first entry after we arrived in our new home, trying to catch hold of everything while it was still fresh and foreign enough to be noticed. Trying to let everyone know what it was like all those miles away from home.

But when you move on from something you also move to something and it's been a great year here. I've made some new friends, in the flesh as well as virtually and I value comments from readers beyond words. The very idea that people read what I say thrills me still - even after all this time.

And I've settled into my blog voice. I don't stress so much about what I am doing here and why. I post crappy photos and don't apologise that they are all I have to offer. I've (mostly) stopped feeling guilty that I don't have time to respond to everyone's comments (especially when people don't link me to their email addresses - oh please do!).

And life is full off the screen too. I am thankful every day for my gorgeous new boy, as well as my amazing not so new girl and my ever surprising, ever surpassing partner in crime. I try to find a little time for crafting, and try not to be unhappy if I don't. I try not to buy too much fabric and I try to enjoy what I do. Ditto for eating and other bad habits.

I'm a little short on time so I'll skip the rest of the sentimental stuff and just say I'm happy. And happier still to be recognising that here. Remind me of it later if I crap on too much about the shitty bits.

To mark this momentous occasion and to say thanks to all of you who read, whether you be commenters or lurkers, and to compensate for comments unacknowledged (see I said mostly not guilty) I'm giving away some presents. The three dolls at the top of this post are up for grabs.

There's Red, a tall wood, wire and felt doll. She is a fun doll to play with because you can move her arms and legs, make her sit or stand or commit obscene acts if you feel so inclined. I suspect she'd be up for just about anything the cheeky minx.

There's Natasha, a small wood, wire and felt doll. She seems a bit iron curtain to me, and if this was 1950 I'd think she might be a sleeper (, and I'd stay alert but not alarmed. If you don't live in Australia that probably means nothing at all to you so I apologise for being so parochial.

And then there's Gretchen the good witch. She's soft and still and inexplicably soothing. Suitable for all ages and heathens.

Now you don't need to have commented before, or have a blog to go in the draw. But you do need to comment here and now (come on! it doesn't hurt to say hi - I won't bite! honest), tell me which doll you'd like and give me your email address. I'll draw the names out of a hat or similar vessel.

I'd like the dolls to go to loving homes, not just be trophies for greedy net trawlers so please don't ask for one just for the hell of it. Do feel free to leave witty jokes or anecdotes for my amusement or tell me why you read my blog or want my dolls, or anything else that's on your mind. I love to read whilst the baby screams...it makes a pleasant change from singing happy birthday to me...

*Don't rely on sign in links - please type your email address in your comment!

Saturday, 24 March 2007

week 6 (or: the great escape)

I've been doing a few things I don't normally do. It's something to do with trying not to do motherhood the same way twice I guess. It's not conscious choices so much as an instinct for change, an implicit acknowledgement that some of the choices I made when Amy was a baby probably contributed to me finding it all too hard.

I've been out to dinner at friends. I made a proper dessert (pecan cheesecake which is really delicious and terribly bad for you - recipe anyone?) and took a bassinet and didn't feel stressed at all. Except knocking back the offer of champagne. That was hard.

I went shopping on the other side of town. Being a non-driver, a (mostly) non-shopper and dedicated Northern suburbs resident, I find the upmarket shopping strips of the Eastern and Southern suburbs all a bit scary. So full of gorgeous expensive things. Things I can't afford and don't need. Things I forget as soon as I'm out of the shop but which, while present in my field of vision seem to be suddenly essential to my existence.

And everyone is so nicely dressed and their clothes are ironed and their hair and make up are done. I keep expecting the fashion police to tap me on the shoulder and send me home to my side of the river or at least tell me to brush my hair and put some lippy on. I think it was having a beautiful six week old baby strapped to my chest that got me the free pass.

There were a couple of places I'd been wanting to visit for a while so my mate the felt dealer and I made a day of it. It was such a trek to get to them (you Melbournians will know about the explosions in the Burnley tunnel - I couldn't have picked a worse day to head across town on the roads. And the weather? The hottest March day for something like 60 years - just great for schlepping around with a baby!) I did a little purchasing.

First stop was Patchwork on Central Park. All I can say is we are all lucky I don't live near this shop. I felt giddy in there.

Next stop was AK. Holy crap. I am so deeply in love with this place, I could happily have bought every single thing they make, from the giant felt dolls to the tiny felt animal finger puppets, the toy yurts and sculpted felt wall hangings to the hand knitted baby clothes and felt toy boxes. I managed to restrain myself to these two tiny people and a kit to knit a doll. You'll be seeing more of her in the future.

On the way home we made a quick stop at Zakkaya, which is actually quite local for me (I used to live just around the corner), but for reasons I can't explain I've never been there before. My first step in gender stereotyping, some gorgeous trim and a little ceramic dish.

Lots more to say but I'm out of time! Monday will be my blogaversary here on blogger so I'll be trying to make the time to do a witty and engaging post that reminds you all of why you bother to come over and read my words and look at my pictures. I'll also be sharing the joy with a give away or two to thank you for tuning in too so I hope you'll all come by and say hi.

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

I can see clearly now the rain has come

It's been a long hot summer, but the temperature is dropping fast down here. We've even had some rain, although the drought is a long way from over. I let Amy choose her fabrics and styles because I think she should be able to wear what she likes. Even if it makes me feel nauseous and like I have been poked in the eye. It feels really weird to be working in corduroy after a seemingly endless season of muslin and the lightest possible cottons.Both patterns are from Ottobre magazine and while they don't include seam allowances (a recipe for disaster when I'm cutting out - I always forget to add them), the patterns in this mag are really good. They are straightforward, fit well and actually work. It's a little bit pricey, but I'll be renewing my subscription. I love that I can just pull out a year's worth of them to find something from any season when Amy needs a new garment.

I also have a copy of the grown ups mag because it includes sizes for big women, but I am yet to make anything from it.

Saturday, 17 March 2007

week 5 (or: most people I know think that I'm crazy)

5 week old baby? The onset of reflux and projectile vomiting in said infant? The entire family coughing up lungs all night and suffering from wicked sore throats? Well then you'd better install a new window, fill the house with plaster dust (again) and make a lot of loud noise to ensure no day time naps can be had.

Do a spot of sewing to keep your mind off it, and ensure said fountain of milk spewing baby still has clothes to wear.

Record your special bathtime moments with crappy camera in poor light.

Spend lots of time in neighbour's house getting cute gifts and letting other people make lunch for you and your child (thank you Tim and Katerina!)

Go visit the out-laws and watch the cousins paw over the boy
and get more cute gifts. Love your work Cath!

Spend lots of time looking at spunky little boy. Change his clothes again, sponge down the couch, change your clothes and do another load of washing.

Tuesday, 13 March 2007

thirty days

It's time for a sleep - I'm whacked and on the way to getting buried by the cough that's plagued Amy for a week now. But before I go -
Some sewing - necessitated by Wil's incessant hurling. I am loving that Ottobre magazine! Doesn't the binding on the hem look great?

I normally shun artificial fibres, but playtime with Wil seems to end in the same place every time - the washing machine - and the Noah's ark animal embroidery is really quite OK for a cheap commercial fabric. So here's an easy wash fast drying play mat for Wil's floor time. But I couldn't bring myself to invest the time to do a lot of handwork so this is just a machine job. Lucky he's not fussy.

The definition of love.

Some extra milk making calories. Because, you know, I need them.

Friday, 9 March 2007

two posts in one day!

Left overs for lunch. A fabulous casserole thing with chicken on top of piles of thinly sliced potatoes and red onions, flavoured with mustard and wine and green olives and almonds. A really really good recipe.

And because I'm just loving giving away (the bathers are heading off to Shula - enjoy!), I'm offering up this papoose baby carrier. That's a young Amy in there - ah the memories.
It is similar in style to the baby bjorn and can carry babies of all ages facing in or out. It's super adjustable and I chose it over the bjorn because it has an optional waist strap that helps distribute the load better, a bib attachement that means a chuck from baby doesn't ruin mum's clothing and back pack style easy open clips. It's fully machine washable.

If it's so great why am I giving it away? Well, it just isn't any good on me. I think it's the boob thing. Or my height. There's something about the way it sits on me that means the baby's head is stuck in my cleavage - which could well be a SIDS risk. For the less well endowed, or taller woman I am sure it would be just dandy.

Same deal as before, let me know if you could use it by leaving a comment and your email address.

mission accomplished

For years I have been meaning to do this.I have had several incarnations of my own recipe book from giant envelopes filled with scraps of paper and magazine cuttings to neat binders with everything glued in. But at some point they always failed me. Increasingly too I find myself wanting to use a recipe electronically - to blog or send to a friend, or just to satisfy my inexplicable urge to reorganise.

So when D brought home a scanner from work for a visit I went to town on all my cuttings and got off my arse and typed all my hand written notes. 190 pages later I have achieved Nirvana in the kitchen.

Best of all I can redo it all at the drop of a hat when I find I no longer care for the A5 binder format, and I can add new recipes in a snap. And I can pass on all those fabulous things that are just begging to be shared, because recipes should be shared.

I take requests!

And here's something else that should be shared, pictures of cute. We're approaching week 4 at high speed and the boy has grown another 2cm in the last 10 days. As the child maternal health nurse said, imagine where we'd be if he wasn't also a chronic vomiter! I'm sure I will live to regret letting a snot filled coughing Amy get so close and personal with Wil, but how can you hold back sibling bonding? And who would want to?

It's hard to stop myself making constant comparisons but Wil is an easier baby than Amy. He's quite happy to have time on his own, staring at the sky, and shows no inclination at all the stand up which Amy was doing from about week 2 (get me outta here! take me places! show me stuff!). He's still an infant, and still demanding, but when I put him in the hug a bub he inevitably goes to sleep. Magic.

And isn't this gorgeous? A little fire truck beaustifully hand crafted from wood. A very thoughtful present from my felt dealer, thank you Sandra! You can see the whole range at her shop.

It's all going so well that I'm planning craft weekend three (remember one and two?) and some clothes sewing for Wil. I might even get the play mat finished. I can dream can't I?

Oh and thanks for the Freecycle tip. What a fantastic thing! With the aim of stopping stuff ending in landfill. Praise be. But even before I got to Freecycle (which I've joined anyway and plan to use EXTENSIVELY) I got a taker for the maternity clothes so I posted off an enormous 5kg parcel to Perth yesterday. I feel positively elated that someone is getting a whole new wardrobe, someone I know has been as tortured by plus size clothes shopping as me. So I hope they fit and I hope she likes them and I hope when she's done she finds them a new home and they go on spreading joy.

And speaking of spreading the joy I've decided it's criminal to hold onto the 50's swimsuit. It's a size 38 (an aussie size 14 or so?) and made from a thick only slightly stretchy nylon fabric. It's in very good condition, I'm guessing hardly worn. So if you think it would fit you and you'd like it, leave a comment and we'll see what we can work out.

Sunday, 4 March 2007

week three thoughts

1. The little sample tub of nappy rash cream they gave us at the hospital when we had Amy lasted her whole infancy. Wil's one is almost finished at the end of week three. I can see this is going to be an issue.

2. For the first time in I can't remember how many months I wore button up trousers today. When I should have been napping this afternoon I boxed up all my maternity wear. Yippee. Except I keep forgetting I need to unbutton to pee.

3. After three weeks of abdominal pain I've been rationalising as after pains, normal post surgery side effects or codeine induced gut ache, they suddenly ended in an explosion of pain followed by a resurgence of post birth blood loss. Since I had no blood loss at all after about day 4, I'm either in the early stages of post birth hemorrhage or I am getting my first period. Three weeks after giving birth? Are there no free rides in this life? Pretty much the same thing happened four weeks after Amy was born (though I don't remember the pain bit) and when I rang the midwife in alarm she said, "Suzie, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's probably a duck." Bummer.

4. In the last 24 hours I've overhauled the spice collection, which is quite substantial. Exactly why I should be doing this on six hours of broken sleep a night is a mystery. I've written before about my storage vessel fetish and the spice collection has long been a site of my more anal manifestations. A housemate once remarked that the way I collected small matching bottles by choosing the same Italian fruit juice for lunch everyday just so the spice rack would look good was bordering on the obsessive. I told him he should consider himself lucky that I confined by fetish to the spice rack and left the rest of the house to disorder. Put that way he quite happily agreed.

5. Because of 2 above I also had to clean out the dresser of maternity clothes, forcing a bit of a reshuffle and the rediscovery of various specialty items long since lost from view. It tells you how bad this situation was that my sister rang me today completely embarrassed that she had discovered the garnet ring I inherited from my grandmother was still in her possession after I gave it to her for safe keeping when we went to Thailand in 2005. Don't worry I told her, I hadn't even noticed it was missing. I just assumed it was buried under all the other shit.

6. Because of 5 above I rediscovered the most fabulous vintage 50's swimsuit I inherited from D's grandmother. It will never fit me in the lifetime, but I love it so. What the hell should I do with it?

7. I am trying to work out whether I should be thrifty and alter the maternity trousers I made to be regular trousers, or whether I should just celebrate being free and ditch them to the op shop, or whether I should try and find a home for them. Plus size maternity is so hard to come by I just know there is someone out there who needs them badly. Can I be bothered finding them??

8. I actually did some knitting today.

9. When emptying the recycling into the bin outside with D, Amy discovered one of her hundred or so weekly drawings going out in the trash. She cried so hard we had to make a big deal about how incredibly good it was that she found it again after if was accidentally lost. Lordy, there's a hoarder coming my way.

10. I am not getting nearly enough sleep but I feel unreasonably happy. How can that be?