I'm taking the pledge!

The Wardrobe Refashion Pledge

I Janet,

Pledge that I shall abstain from the purchase of "new" manufactured items of clothing, for the period of 6 months.

I Pledge that I shall refashion, renovate, recylcle pre-loved items for myself for the term of my contract.

I Pledge that I shall create and craft items of clothing for myself with my own hands in fabric, yarn or other medium for the term of my contract.

I Pledge that I will share the love and post a photo of my refashioned, renovoated, recylcled, crafted or created item of clothing on the Wardrobe Refashion blog, so that others may share the joy that thy thriftyness brings

Party people

Nothing like a deadline, no matter how small, to get me to finish a piece of sewing. Yesterday I made Grace a little pink jumper dress out of a second hand angora jumper. This project has been on my mind for some time as she has no festive clothes that are warm, and not many of her unscruffy wardrobe items match. Nearly every top or bottom seems to have a pattern or stripe or bit of decoration. And they're all nice on their own but clash with each other.
This little jumper dress will co-ordinate with some patterned trousers that have no friends & look cute with jeans too. She wore it today, to a one year old birthday party. Eventhough it has some inevitable flaws, I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out. The length is long enough for it to look like a dress but still short enough for a little girl who bumshuffles. I finished the hem & the bodice with a three step zig zag & a row of straight stitching either side. Decorative but plain & it helps the hem to sit better - useful with a stretchy knit.

Getting ready this morning was a liitle better the usual drama when it's the three of us. I'm used to getting out with a small child & counting back from when we have to leave. Today I found myself directing G, moving things along earlier so it's not a big mad rush at the end. He doesn't like it. But if I don't direct & delegate then he gets himself ready & I'm still trying to change Grace, pack her bag & put my shoes on while he's starting the car.

I'm turning into such a mum. I have even started a present drawer, like my mum had, keeping it stocked with paper & ribbon. And buying gifts well in advance. I forgot about cards though & didn't have time to make some. At the last minute, I stuck some of those spot stickers very randomly on a piece of colored card. I think it turned out OK for a quickie.

The party was fun. Lots of kids about Grace's age crawling or walking around. The hosts kept it very casual & unstructured, sort of like playgroup with presents & a cake. After a settling in time on my lap, Grace was social with both kids & grownups, which is a new development around people she doesn't know well. It's very lovely to watch.


I got some stuff done today but generally feel quite uninspired. Maybe it's the greyness of the sky & the way the cold creeps into your bones sucking out warmth & joy. I'm being a wuss. It's seriously not that cold here, compared even to other parts of Australia in winter (for example nightime central Australia or Hobart) & especially not compared to the northern hemisphere. I remember a winter I spent in London when I was 20. I was shocked to my core at the coldness & the dark, even during the day. When I came home, it was like a veil had been lifted, everything seemed so much brighter & clearer. I can't even begin to imagine what an arctic winter must be like.

At least houses in the UK were built for the cold, unlike our house here in Melbourne which is not comfortable in either very cold or very hot weather. We get both, but not for that long. It is however a great house in spring & autumn which sometimes seem endless. I guess I could go & buy another heater & chew up more brown coal.

Or, I could put on a hat. That's better. Now I can admire the window I cleaned while Grace was napping. It was filthy with road dirt & little hand prints.

The leadlight windows are one of the charming features of this house, the paint around them is not. Window cleaning is one of those things that takes me ages to get around to & when I do, I'm always impressed. Grace & I often sit at the window waiting for her dad. She can see him across the road, from the window seat or if she's sitting on my knee while I'm on the computer. It's a very exciting part of her day.

In the second year I was here, my friend Paul gave me the two silver birches as he'd bought more than he could fit in his garden. Over time the front garden has been transformed from lawn & hard clay to a fertile woodland with silver birches, native mintbush, ti-tree with groundcover of violets, ferns, agapanthas etc. It sounds a bit of a mish mash, but it's very low maintenance & always pleases me when I walk through the front gate. I moved into this house because of the big yard, but I never imagined that I'd live here long enough to have trees I planted mature.

Working through the basket

I'm making a valiant attempt to get through the piles of started projects sitting next to my sewing machine. Most of the simple, easy stuff, like mending, has been done. But I'm coming up against issues caused by my slackness with sewing. Example, the black cotton velvet trousers I cut out for Grace a couple of months ago & made up this weekend, are already too short. The rest of the material has dissappeared, possibly into a rag rug, so maybe I'll redo them with contrasting cuffs. She's growing so fast.. or maybe I'm sewing too slow. A t-shirt I bought at Savers a couple of months ago, is a bit loose. (Oh joy! I like this issue.) Anyway this t-shirt had annnoying three quarter sleeves that cut into my inside elbow, so I did this...

with some material cadged from sister Betty. I also customised some stretchie suits for Grace. Mum bought these brand new from the op-shop & although Grace wears real clothes during the day, these are still our favorites for bedtime.

Grace has long legs so I cut the feet off & put a cotton lycra band on them. I also don't like wearing clothes with advertising logos on them so, a quick applique & there you go. I've been doing these ever since Grace was little, otherwise she'd wear them for about a week before growing out of them. Only a few more tasks, then my basket will be empty..


This weekend I've been trying to settle a design for muppinstuff that I like. And boy oh, boy what a frustrating process it is! First, getting my head around working with digital images. For two days the program I'm using seemed to be inhabited by nasty elves meddling with the layout so nothing ever looked the same & I could never get back to where I thought I was. Then suddenly it clicked & I can work it, enough to muddle through & start building some knowlege.  As for the page itself, there seem to be a million problems I can't resolve eg: getting the banner to sit even with the columns, getting the banner to show completely in the about page, or for the visiting list to alphabetise. I've read the help & figured out, I think, how to do these things in Typepad, I've saved, republished & cleared the cache on my computer but it just doesn't seem to be working.

At least I'm ahead of where I was a month ago, when I was sitting at the computer while Grace napped, casually surfing the net for something meaningful about motherhood. The first mommyblogs I found weren't that interesting. Then I happened on dooce & I thought ah, blogs, thats where it's at. This is great! Reading through dooce's archives, I happened on Melbournes' very own Loobylu . And like Alice through the rabbithole, I found myself in a whole new world. Online will never be the same again.

So thank you to dooce & Loobylu! By the way Loobylu has a new site Kiddley which looks fantastic. Independent and commercial, but in a totally good way. I can't wait until Grace is old enough to get crafty so we can try out some of the ideas. Anyway, check it out.

I have managed to do other things this weekend, some sewing of UFO's, some mending & a trip to the Vic market to buy a new pair of ugg bootees. The old ones were feral, being at least three winters old. And one of those winters was Grace's newborn time, a period of much ugg bootee wearing, vomiting, milk dripping & assorted grot. I managed to find the exact same style, only to find that they are the last pair, never ever to be made again. I've been wearing this style of ugg bootee since the late eighties, when I bought a pair to make getting up to write before work bearable. My new ugg bootees are very warm & very fluffy. I might even wear them for another three years.

we have pictures

My task for the next couple of days is to learn how to post pictures. This is one of my fabric friends.

one perfect day

We've just had the the best day in ages, me an' Impfey (Grace). I can't believe how much I got done, how little Grace cried & how much fun it all was. Yay! At last.

The day started pretty much as usual with me hiding under the doona while G got ready for work. Happy sounds alternating with mournful cries indicated that Grace was ready to be released from her cot. Got up just in time to take Grace to wave bye bye to Daddy as he got on the tram. I'm trying to make a ritual of daddy coming & going so she learns that people go away & come back.

Anyway after Grace's breakfast, I got a load of washing on - have to take advantage of the nicer weather we've been having, then I started making my breakfast. This is where the trouble usually starts. So today I gave Grace a second breakfast (she was about to graduate to 2 weetbix & bannana anyway). I gave her some fruit & a couple of spoons of my yoghurt, apple & oats with the nuts picked out. But I didn't help her eat it, just gave her a spoon, in case she wants to move up from hands. It was fabulous, it took her ages to eat & we had conversation, funny smiles, a little food throwing (at the cat) but no tantrums and no tears.

After breakfast, I hung the washing out, rushed around doing cardio cleaning - bathroom, washed floors, dishes etc. Grace happily played with the newspapers in the recycling, emptied out the plastics cupboard & generally got involved with the housework until she went down for a nap about ten. At eleven I was finished cleaning for the day, had packed her stuff for creche & was ready to go to the gym.

Grace awoke with a smile & was beaming as we walked out the door. When we got to the gym, her cries were soothed by the presence of her new friend.. the blankie. She didn't cry when I left her at creche, didn't cry when I came to get her & apparently hardly cried at all in the middle. The day was getting better & better. Oh, and at the gym when I weighed myself I had lost a whole kilo!

In the afternoon we got out in the garden. It was a little smoggy, but fine & warm enough for sandals. I weeded & mulched the bed around the lemon tree as Grace bumshuffled around getting dirty & having an awesome time. Her whole being seemed to vibrate with excitement while exploring the garden.

I gardened a bit more while Grace napped & then just as the weather was cooling down, Dad came round to help with the scanner software. We all hung out in the study & although Grace was still a bit shy around Dad, she warmed up gradually. As the grizzles approached, blankie came out to help. Later G & I had homemade pizza for dinner. Yum.

These sorts of days have been pretty rare lately & I have been doubting myself as a mother. There's been lots of talk about Grace & creche & about her fear of separation. It has also been said, more than once, "she has to learn that the world doesn't always revolve around her". When G & I talked about this, he said that being told this was a really unhappy memeory from his childhood, that it used to make him feel worthless. Later I thought about this and realised it is an absurd thing to say to a small child, because of course their world revolves around them. Does it change much when we grow up? I don't think so.

I'm trying to think of kinder ways to express to Grace that she doesn't always get what she wants. Like, its mummy's turn to have breakfast, shower etc. And questioning some of my own behaviour. As a new mum at 41, I'm pretty set in some of my ways & maybe life will be happier for all of us if I can bend a bit. For example, my issues with Grace in the morning had a lot to do with me wanting to have a quiet breakfast & read my book while she played at my feet. I've been reading over breakfast for 20 years or so, not being the happiest butterfly in the morning. But Grace wants interaction. She's learning that meals are not only for eating but can be social too, and demands to be part of the action. I can either try and read with a screaming child at my feet & have a shit day or read some other time & have a pleasant breakfast followed by a pleasant day with my daughter.

As for the separation anxiety at creche, I noticed that she was reaching into her cot for one of her blankets after one of yesterdays' meltdowns. We now have something from home, from her space, that we can take into the world where things can get a bit scary for Grace. She can touch the rough wool & the satin trim, wrap herself in it if she gets cold. Hopefully it helps her to remember her little room & her home.

So our world is feeling OK again, until the next drama. I'm learning that we tend to cruise along with a mixture of good & not so good days. That's fine. Then something comes along that throws us into a spin & we have many more bad days than good until we learn what works in the new situation. Then it's OK again.

5 o'clock in the suburbs

The first year I lived in this house, about 15 years ago, I thought that the family next door must be really unhappy or somehow dysfunctional. Often I would hear a small child crying, most often at the end of the day. Sometimes I'd be think maybe there's someone I should call or something I should do. But then the endless dramas of the busy, selfish, childless & weird life that I used to lead back in those sharehousing days would suck me back into the vortex, and the sounds of a small child crying would wash over me.

Tonight Grace & I were in the front room, waiting for G to come home. Grace was being fussy, alternating between my lap & the floor with her new found comfort item, the blankie. Then I noticed that distinctive odour. I checked to see whether it was one of her foul farts, but no, it was the fifth crappy nappy for the day. Lucky me. So we did the change & G came in just as we were finishing up.

I took the nappy outside to scrape in the toilet & then I heard the child next door crying. And the kid over the back fence and dimly a baby two doors down. It was all around.  The sounds of tired small children at the end of a big day, waiting for their dinners, bath & bed. And I imagined the other mothers (or other carers) tired & stiff necked like me.  Possibly like me, waiting for their partners to come home and help break the bubble.

mum's the word

Happy Mothers' Day to all for yesterday! Wasn't such a great day for me, cumulative lack of sleep, dreary weather, small child issues & a feeling that the old black dog of depression was sniffing at my heels didn't really inspire celebration. Not that our little family is that great at celebrations, which is a pity. I have some great memories of outings with my mum & my nan when she was still with us. Mostly visiting gardens, & not only on Mothers' Day.

This year I had hoped that G, Grace & I might go on a day trip somewhere, get out of the city, refresh our eyes. G wasn't keen & honestly, the weather was so drear, it probably wouldn't have been very fun. We did, however, go to Coburg Trash'n'Treasure market & had about half an hour outside before it drizzled. Not a great market, but I did get some old magazines, Family Circles from the mid 70's & boy oh boy are they weird. And not in a good way.  I also got Grace a big bag of mismatched wooden & plastic blocks which we are now tripping over on a regular basis.

So I'm trying to think of some good ways to ward off the evil black dog, without resorting to drugs. All of which, in my opinion, have side effects that suck; weight gain, loss of libido, loss of intelligence, feelings of being on drugs etc etc. It's good to know the drugs are there, if I really need them, because sometimes that's the way it goes. My GP reckons that excercise is the most effective treatment for mild to moderate depression, which is part of why I try to go to the gym 3 times a week. This seems to work better than walking. But walking doesn't require a hard to get spot at a creche, which Grace seems to hate.

She did settle well for some of the time & we didn't have the afternoon of excessive clinginess like last week. That was so bad, I thought of giving up going to the gym until she passed this stage. Everyone seems to be telling me that we need to keep going to childcare regularly, so it will pass, but I'm not so sure it works that way. Maybe it's totally natural for Grace to want to be with me, G or her Nan and I should wait until she's ready. If after a week or two, I don't see happier childcare time, then we'll go to plan B.  

It's a complicated cycle, depressed mother = unhappy small child. I'm sure Grace picks up on my moods and they influence how she acts. The worst thing is when I stop being available to her, eventhough I'm always up for a cuddle after a fall, I stop being playful & doing the fun things & well, I'm just not as present. So I'm going to try & build in a play session to our routine so that when I don't feel like it, it's still there, it's habit. And remind myself that presence is important.

Habit has worked to some extent with the housework. I do as much as I can in the time allocated, then leave it till next time. Regularity of the routine does seem to build up to a cleaner, nicer house and better meals. Being busy has always helped with the depression. As does writing. It's good to have found a way back again. I've been looking at lots of other blogs, mostly women & mostly writing about some or all of the following; motherhood, craft, gardening, domesticty, sewing, op-shopping. And not a few featuring depression. There's so many great blogs out there & compiling my list of favorites is going to be tricky. Already my favourites are overloaded with sublists & categories. How to choose?

Hopefully by the time my free trial time is up, I'll have mastered the art of the list & also will have learnt how to use my handme down digital camera & scanner acquired on the weekend from Dad's pile of worthwhile but superseded stuff. Love giving older technology a home. I'm planning a handmade masthead & a more graphic style. Then I guess once we get that under control, it's time to stop being a needle in a haystack & seek to become an active part of the blogospehere.  And I need to find time for the sewing, gardening and more sleep...

my life in pictures

Over the last day or so, I've been sorting through & albumising my photos. The last time I did this must have been sometime in 2000, as there were pics from our Tasmanian odyssey in summer 2000/01. It was a fantastic trip but few of the photos do it justice. Except for this one.

Ttaken on the road to nowhere on the West Coast. This is an isolated 3 or 4 hour drive through the Tarkine Wilderness & the Western Arthurs from Savage river, where we camped by the river near blackberry bushes that were home to many big black snakes, to Marawah in the windy north west. I like this picture because it says so much about our life then. The humbleness of our car, the roughness of the road & how happy I look. That was a fabulous trip, visiting friends & family of G in Hobart, lots of little road trips & the nine day West Coast adventure.

Later photos & road trips have a degree of sadness about them. There's pictures from the south coast of NSW in 2002, several months after we lost our son (at 20 weeks). I was pregnant again when we left, miscarried on the way, pregnant again when we got home at Christmas only to loose that pregnancy too. Then there's the photos from the family reunion in spring 2003, new job, yet another pregnancy loss.

Understandably there are some gaps until the next big trip in 2005. We were recovered & happy again so I took 6 weeks of work & we did the big central Australia trip. That was so much fun! Uluru is so worth visiting it's hard to explain. It really is as awesome as the pictures & so much more besides. Many other places were great too. The pictures hardly do them justice. Actually, very few of them do, I think I need to learn a bit more about how to get the colours to come out right. But the story of our trip in pictures reminds me of all the good things in our life & that we came home pregnant with Grace. Not even trying to. Just shows what a change of scenery, fresh air & relaxed lovin' can do, even with old farts like us.

Next will be sorting through the photos from just before and after Grace was born. This I am looking forward to. Grace loves it when I sort photos on the big coffee table in the lounge, lots of discard photos to scatter, books to flick through, stuff to grab. Thankfully she wasn't as clingy today, hopefully it is not just because it is the weekend & we are both around. The photos have already got me thinking about going camping again. We considered it last summer, but just couldn't organise it. Camping with a small child, hmmm... We must be crazy but I've heard it can be done.

grey floating day

Today just sort of floated by. Nothing that was planned came to pass. A visit to see R & new bub was postponed till next week, the gym didn't ring with a creche spot. Any pressing housework had been done earlier in the week & I really didn't feel like washing windows or sorting out a cupboard. Sometimes I do, & until I get that feeling, extra tasks wait. As long as there is food to eat, plates to eat them off, clean clothes to wear & the floors are not a total sea of filth our housekeeping, beyond an hour or two in the morning to do the basics, is sporadic. If it looks OK, it is OK. I thought about weeding a garden patch, but it too can wait, the new winter seedlings are in, so again nothing needs doing really urgently. I like that our garden is a bit shambolic.

Grace was very clingy again today, she had to sit on my knee snuggled into my neck while I was faffing & reading other blogs. Even after had big cuddles & some stories on the comfy chair in her room. Normally that would be enough & she would shuffle off on Gracie missions of chaos around the house, coming back to check me out every so often. Maybe she's getting sick or teething or something. I'm looking forward to her being able to tell me what's going on.

So with time to whittle, I decided that I needed to get out. Melbourne weather is turning grey & grim. Not much fun for walking unless you're in that sort of mood. So we drove to the Op shop. It looked like the material had gone out yesterday so all the best bits were gone. Still, I got some green vyella, orangey red silk & dark red velvet. Unfortunately, the material is put out very randomly. Once it used to go out on Wednesday morning, but all the fabric heads found out & it turned into a bit of a bun fight. Which is probably why they changed it. Still there are bargains & interesting pieces to be found there from time to time. It's not really as though I need more material.

We bumped into a friend from mothers' group, without child. It's always funny seeing people I know mostly as mothers without their children. Sometimes when I go out without Grace, I feel like this big part of who I am is missing. That the person on public display, is incomplete. Other times it feels like freedom.

The best part of the day was when G came home. I held Grace up to the window to watch him come down the path & make funny faces. Immediately, the house felt lively and as it got dark all the greyness of the day dissappeared into cosy homelife and I felt happy again.

an afternoon in town

I had the opportunity to catch the tram into town by myself this afternoon as G was home sick(ish) from work today & available as co-parent. Lots of errands which all got done, cash from medicare, some absurdly expensive but cute soft soled shoes for Grace, a present for a one year birthday party, some new tee shirts & a new book for Grace. But no tights for mummy. Why oh why can't I but a pair of opaque tights in a large size? I'm tall, but also about a size 20-22 so ordinary tights just don't do it. I can buy clothes, boots, undies all with various degrees of success but not tights. I tried department stores, specialty shops & larger lady shops. Nothing. It never ceases to amaze me how as a society we are swamped to the point of suffication with all manner of goods to buy, yet so often the thing that you really want is elusive.

I've found somewhere on the web that sells plus size tights but it seems ridiculous that I can't buy them locally & have to have them sent from the US. Maybe I'm missing somewhere really obvious.

baby blanket

Today hasn't gone exactly as I planned. I thought I was going to have a quiet day with my mum & Grace trying to get through my ever increasing pile of sewing, mending, remaking etc so that I can work on more exciting projects. Like the blanket for our bed made of old dressing gowns. Which I imagine to be pieced like patchwork but sewn together so it doesn't need to be backed. So it can be washed & dried on a sunny Melbourne winters day & then back on the bed.

As it turned out, G was home with a coldy fluey type thing & one of my stepsisters & my step dad came for lunch today as well as mum. It was a hoot, all crammed around our small kitchen table, so no-one could move around our small kitchen. We don't sit much at the dining table in the sun room, maybe because it is mostly set up as my very ace, very light sewing space. Even though it is actually very easy to transform back into a dining room. The kitchen is warmer & cosier.

I did get some sewing done. I made two baby blankets. The first, a prototype which will be used as Grace's stroller blanket has many flaws. The binding didn't work as well as I hoped, the applique is big & clumsy. It's OK, the material is pretty special, I think, and it will do. I think I need to get a foot for applying binding. The second, using the bigger piece of the special material, is a new baby present and turned out much better. It has some rough patches & some flaws, but not too bad considering the limitations of my skill & equipment. Despite this, I think R will like it.

Sometimes I think I'm very harsh about the things I make, but often there's always such a big gap between how I want it to turn out & what I end up with. This morning I was rushing, when really I needed to calm down, do test patches, consider, iron, pin, baste before zooming ahead & then having to spend time unpicking. At least I had the sense to make the prototype before starting on the present.

a day in the life - may 2006

I've decided to have a category A day in the life to encourage myself to try a different sort of writing. Banal, realistic, rambling maybe. I think sometimes that it's through banality that some of the best stuff emerges. We'll see.

Monday morning. I wake up to the sound of G turning off the alarm on his mobile phone. As I do most weekday mornings. It's annoying but less annoying than the ring & I understand the need for an alarm even if you always awake before it goes off. Then I go back to sleep until almost 7.30 when he came into get dressed for work. Grace is stirring, he says. I hide under the doona but then force myself to get up, put on my dressing gown & ugg boots. I go in, say hello & open her curtain & go out the back door to the toilet. (yes, we have an outside toilet, we don't mind, the view is great & it's one of the reasons this house is cheap to rent) It's bloody cold. The coldest morning yet, I think. This time last year it was still warmish.

I get Grace up just in time to wave Daddy off. This has become part of our weekday ritual & seems to have improved the early part of the week when she misses him terribly.  Weetbix with milk & bannana follows. Bannanas are terribly expensive at the moment, due to the cyclone in Queensland. Someone must be doing well though, $2 each and rising. Each week, I debate whether to buy them, but they seem to go so well with Weetbix, which incidentally I can't stand. I almost gag when Grace eats them, but she seems to like them, particularly with bannanas. Today she does well with putting the spoon I load into her mouth, not so well with loading the spoon. I can't bear to see her eat Weetbix with her hands. Almost any other food yes, but not Weetbix, so I guess it will be a while before we can eat breakfast together, both eating at the same time.

After her breakfast I put her on the floor to play while I have mine. Grated apple, oats, yoghurt, sultananas, a few walnuts, a teaspoon of honey & enough water to make a loose consistency. Yum. I eat this almost every morning & almost never get sick of it, especially when apples are in season. I also have stovetop espresso coffee & milk, orange juice & soda & my pills. Thyroid pills, multi vitamin & the disprin to stop my blood clotting if I were to get pregnant again. Not that we're trying, or trying not to. I would love another baby but at my age (42) chance would be a fine thing. But I take the disprin just in case. It worked last time & has become almost talismatic in preventing early pregnancy loss, even the losses unrelated to my blood issues.

As I eat my breakfast, Grace plays with the recycling (dangerous items removed), strewing paper everywhere. She trys to catch the cat for some ear pulling but he's having none of it. At about half eight, the gym rings to say they have a childcare place in the last morning session. Oh goody. Not. I thought I might get out of it today. Grace bumshuffles towards me, the smell says it all. I change her nappy. It's a stinker. Everything goes in the bucket & I take it out to the toilet for the scraping. Women I know who also use cloth nappies all bemoan the scraping but I think I've become quite efficient at it. Grace has stuck her head out the cat door & is crying. If it wasn't so awful it would be funny, actually it is kind of funny in an awful kind of way. After sorting out the nappy soaking for the day & washing my poor cracked hands with the gentlest stuff I could find, I go back to the kitchen to finish ny now cold coffee. Grace sits on the floor in the scullery pulling out pots & pastics. She's happy now that she can see Mummy. Oh god, not another small child separation anxiety day.

I get dressed in my daggy gym outfit, do the mountains of dishes, fold washing, pick up, wipe down, put Grace to bed for her morning nap, look up smocks on the web, consider whether I could do one for Tie one on , sweep the Cotoneaster berries of the front path, talk to my Dad on the phone about a piece of furniture he's unloading, make Grace's creche snack, put the mountains of dishes away. Grace has woken, oh shit, I'm running late for the gym, the vacuuming will have to wait. Get Grace up, dress her, plonk her in the stroller, chuck on beautiful tweed coat that makes even my gym wear look stylish & head off. We walk fast & Grace is excited, but this changes once we get to childcare. The tears start the moment we enter that room.

The lovely childcare ladies push me out the door & I can hear Graces' howls in the corridor. This is not fun at all. They stop. I still feel awful. Then I remind myself that a) they will come & get me if Grace doesn't settle b) I need to do this to loose weight & improve my health so I'll be a good role model c) I want to be around for as long as possible d) I need time out e) Grace is being well cared for & f) this will never get better if I don't stick with it. I do quite a good workout & enjoy it once the anxiety settles, even though I haven't lost any weight since last time. When I get back to childcare, 5 minutes before the end of the session, thinking I would be early, all the other kids are gone & Grace is in tears again. Apparently it starts once mums start collecting their kids & everytime the door opens she gets upset. My little girl, an ocean of emotion. Oh well, I'll just have to try & collect her earlier next time. By the time we are half way home, Grace is enjoying the walk despite the cold & seems to have forgotten all about the horror that is childcare.

This doesn't last, Grace becomes discombulated when I have a shower. Normally she just watches from the doorway or plays on the floor, throwing plastic toys into the bath. Today she just cries. Afterwards I sit down with her in the rocking chair in her room for a cuddle, but she's not really interested. I make lunch, low fat chicken stirfry. I keep the marinated chicken in the freezer, so it makes for a really easy lunch. G is a vegetarian & I'm not, so I try to eat flesh foods for lunch a couple of days a week. To keep my iron levels up, as I find my life tiring enough without being borderline anemic. Grace happily eats a bit more lunch. She really likes the spicy chicken pieces. These are picked out. Other bits get thrown to the cat.

During Grace's afternoon nap, I once again wipe up, wipe down etc. I clean an old lamp that I use for making things during winter nights in front of TV. Yesterday, it blew a fuse when I turned it on. Tomorrow I'll take it to get rewired. It's a beautiful old desk lamp so it's worth doing. Then I start the vacuuming. Mid vacuum I pause to check out the rag rug basket I started to make last night. I love making rag ruggy things in winter. It's a great way to use scraps & old clothes. When I get a digital camera from Dads' pile of no longer up to the minute technology, I'll post a photo.  I go back to vacuuming & I'm afraid she will wake up in terror at the vacuum but she doesn't & I get the whole house done except for her room. I start blogging. I'm not allowing myself to check out other blogs until I have done my own. This prevents faffing & makes me write truer to myself ( I think).

Grace wakes up & needs lots of snuggles & a story before she is ready for independent play. I don't mind, I quite like it when she is snuggly. We have a chat & she astounds me with the conversational tone of her burbling. Then we go into the study, I give her half a muffin & some water  & she plays happily on the floor with her books and toys ( & not with the cabling, the hard drive or daddy's bass guitar) until I see G get off the tram across the road. I hold Grace up on the window seat to look out the window, she gets so excited that her whole body vibrates.

G reintergrates into homeworld & puts on some music. We debrief in the study. He'll bathe Grace while I schnorfle around in the study then we'll all hang out, maybe watch Neighbours of which G is a long time fan. I'm kinda into it now too, it's hard not to be after six or so years. Then Grace will go to bed & I'll make dinner. I'm thinking mild vege curry with eggplant, cauliflower, peas & rice. This is a good Grace meal. We freeze lots of little containers for her evening meal, because it's too hard to eat & feed her at the same time. I always try & have lunch as a social meal with Grace and I think as soon as she can mange a spoon it'll be time for family dinners too. After dinner, I might watch some TV & make my basket, or sew or go on the internet. Then it's off to bed for lots of zzz s before doing it all over again. But Tuesdays are different...

what's wrong with supernanny?

I love watching Supernanny, it's regular Friday viewing in our household. With Grace all tucked up in bed & something yummy for dinner, it's a secret pleasure for the parents. Part of my pleasure is the (not so) secret glimpse into the life of other families, more dysfunctional than our own. Mind you, we only have one small child, & we have only begun discipline thing; please don't pull mummy's hair/nose/face, that will hurt Tony (thecat), etc. Another benefit is the way it provokes Gerard & I to discuss parenting issues, such as the naughty chair, the amount of toys & stuff kids should have, how dads fit in the picture an\nd the list goes on. Supernanny's come up in conversation at mother's group & it seems other parents watch the show & do the same thing - clarify & discuss parenting values. And squirm.

So what do I think is wrong? It came to me last night & it's been creeping up on me these last couple of weeks. Where is the support system for the mothers? Last night we watched a mother with 7 children from 3 marriages, her husband absent during the week & off to Iraq in the near for 18 months. Her house as Supernanny pointed out was chaotic & dirty. The mother looked to be on the on the edge of losing it. The issues this family, & in particular this mother were facing, went so far beyond the bad language chart & family routine imposed by Supernanny that I felt uncomfortable watching. And, I have a very high discomfort tolerance for reality TV. The sheer workload of doing the washing & keeping house for this number of people would overwhelm almost anyone. No wonder it looked a mess. It also looked as though this woman might be seriously unhappy or depressed and under the circumstances, who wouldn't be. Supernanny did her usual gentle/tough routine & some of the things she addressed seemed genuinely helpful; getting the kids to help sort laundry, encouraging them to praise each other & breaking the cycle of negativity.

What I would have really liked to see her address, though, was the issue of what the mother needed. There was this awful scene of Mum was sitting on the couch, seemingly oblivious to the kids running riot until she snaps at one of them. I felt angry about the way this was bought up later. The question that I thought should have been asked ... Does she ever get some time out for herself? Even just an hour or two a week is something to look forward to & refreshing. Where was time out for mum in the family schedule? And the housework. Instead of all the toys, could some of the family income be used for some cleaning/washing help? Do they do this in the US? I know of ordinary income people in Australia that do. Where was the support for this mother? You know the sympathetic ear from a friend, relative, mother's group, playgroup, doctor, counselor, telephone support line. Parenting is not meant to be done in isolation.  If you look on the Channel 4 website Supernanny there are some links to parenting advice & information about UK services that address just these issues. It's a pity Supernanny doesn't address them on TV.

Interestingly, G was quite critical of the absent father & thought he should help out & participate more. And not go to Iraq. Maybe they didn't have much choice. I'm lucky I think. G is very encouraging of me having a break and happily spends large chunks of time with Grace while I go & clear my head. We also have a sleep in day each on the weekend and I can't say how much I look forward to sleep in Saturday! Not that I slept in that much today, as I wanted to go the op-shop & look for some fabric for baby presents. It was fantasticly soothing, a couple of hours by myself, browsing books in the op-shop & two fabric shops. When I came home, Grace was so excited to see me & vice versa.

happy, happy news

Today I got a phone call from a friend I don't know too well yet. We were in the middle of another slightly stressful smallchild day. Grace has developed extreme separation anxiety, making visiting  gym & creche stressful for us both. As the only child there, she had the full attention of two very lovely childcare workers. However once she had eaten the nice bits of her lunch, I had to be summoned from the gym for cuddles & reassurance. Apparently, if I go regularly, she will adjust, it's only for an hour & ten minutes, but oh my oh my her distress, my distress. Anyway, I had just finished lunch & was consulting my favorite toddler book, Robin Barker's The Mighty Toddler for reassurance that I wasn't being a horrible mother, & the phone rang.

I had planned to ring this friend today as I thought she would having her baby soon, & might be finding that last bit of waiting difficult. R is the only person I know who has a worse obstetric past than I do & it's something we have bonded over. She's been trying to have another baby for quite a while & I understand the obsession & the way it can twist your head. Anyway, she rang to say she had had her little girl on Saturday morning, a bit earlier than expected but the doctors weren't leaving anything to chance. R shared the story of her daughters' birth & it was good to hear. Mum, bub & dad are all well & back home together. The news has made me so happy I feel like crying.

We are going to visit next week, so I'll have to hurry up & make a gift. I've been tossing some ideas around in my head for the last week or so, thinking that I had until mid May. I remember when Grace was born how touched & surprised I was with the gifts & cards. They came from every corner of our life. Even from friends of my parents. I think because Grace was the result of my seventh pregnancy & because we lost our son at 20 weeks, that people especially wanted to share our joy. Maybe it's always like this when a babe is born, and maybe I just didn't really get it until Grace arrived.

Grace & I spent the late afternoon in the garden. I turned the soil in bed number 1, mulched, limed & organic fertilised. Planted seeds of spinach, broad beans, coriander & snowpeas; seedlings I raised of broccoli & lettuce. It felt so good to be out in the dark afternoon gloom, planting with my daughter. Even if she still likes to eat dirt & grass. It's such a good thing to share. Reflecting on R's news & the joyful happiness in her voice, I remembered  those first weeks. Giving birth to Grace, although the pain was unspeakably shocking , was the highest, most ecstatic and awe inspiring moment of my life. As I got to know her, sometimes the passion & tenderness caused time to melt. Other times the tiredness, washing & inability to get anything done without major organisation seemed all to much. It was such a precious & intense time that seemed to go on forever. Then suddenly, it was Easter time and we were celebrating Graces' first birthday. Now that time seems like a distant country we visited all too briefly.

For R & her man, and the new little person they've made; Congratulations & lots of loving thoughts out over the ether.

I'm so tired, I might vomit

I've been sitting on the computer, looking at other blogs, looking up topics in the help, reorganising the favorites. You know, faffing. As you do when you are just so tired. When I have been in that early stage of pregnancy, I thought I would never know tiredness like that again. Then when I had a newborn I thought, this must be it. Surely I could never be more tired than this, ever. But today, after a few nights of not enough, not so good sleep & with a very active small child hell bent on finding every flaw in our baby proofing, I reached yet a new level. When the checkout lady at the supermarket asked me how how I was, I said, of course, "Fine thanks, how are you?" Really, as I watched my little pumpkin asleep in her snuggly stroller, I thought "I'm so tired I might vomit."

I wasn't going to blog tonight, but actually I've been really enjoying it. In a previous life, I was a faithful journal keeper & short story writer. So it feels good to have found a way back to a form of written experience. My goal is to try and do a little every day, even if like tonight I really don't feel like it. There. It's done, now I can go & hang out with co-parent & freshly bathed infant.

fitness reassessed

Today I had my fitness reassement at the local gym. I'm not doing too well and have not lost any weight since January, have also not maintained fitness previously gained, therefore sliding down from fair to poor again. On a more positive note, have lost about a centimetre on most girth measurments & have not cancelled gym membership. I quite like going to the gym, it makes me feel better mentally & I do need to loose weight. I've been big most of my adult life and I'm just tired off it. Besides I'm 42 (yes another older mother) and I want to be around for my daughter & her children if she decides that way. And this mothering business is hard work, I need to be fit or at least fitter.

Before I started going to the gym late last year I had really stacked on the weight & was heavier than when I was pregnant. This was due to a nasty little drug Zyprexa that I had to take as a result of getting post natal psychosis when Grace was about three months old. This drug is great for bringing you back to reality, which I needed, but it slows your metabolism and increases your appetite by stimulating the release of prolactin (just like with breastfeeding, except that your body is not using energy as with breastfeeding). It's a total bummer of a side effect, especially as I had been really careful not to put on too much weight while pregnant and had gradually started loosing afterwards.

At the first reassement I had lost 11 kilos & lots of centimetres (pretty much all the Zyprexa weight). But I went to the gym 3 times a week because Gerard was between jobs & always available to co-parent. ( I also got to sleep in more often, bless him) Now I have to compete for creche places under this crazy system where you have to ring on the dot of 8am the week before the day you want & it's first in best dressed. If you ring early you have to ring again & will probably miss out. It's not that I'm not up at 8, but what with Grace getting into the recycling or Gerard's vinyl or something else that I didn't think to baby proof & getting the washing on & playing referee between cat & small child the minutes just slip on by. And what's more this all before my breakfast & coffee.

Then there's the dieting. We eat a moderately healthy diet. Gerard's a vegetarian so we eat lots of beans, vegetables, fruit & grains. We try not to overdo the oil, cheese or chocolate. He's naturally skinny but has been happy to go along with the low fat thing as long as he can have avocado. I hate the dieting, I like to cook & bake which together with my heavy Anglo/Germanic genetic ancestry is probably how I got this way. It's interesting to note that on my fathers' side of the family anyone older than a teenager who is even close to slim works really hard at it. So I have accepted that it will be hard & that I probably won't ever be really slender. However I also want Grace to have her best chance at not being fat or overly neurotic about her weight which means I need to set an example with the diet & excercise.

Did I mention that I hate dieting? Maybe it is that constant edge of hunger that I hate most. It seems so very unnatural when we live in such an abundant society.

the kindness of strangers

Today I travelled by old fashioned tram with narrow high steps to an appointment across the other side of time with Grace in the buggy & no Mum or Gerard to help me. Normally if Grace & I are PTing  we use the buggy friendly modes of transport; ie the train, the low floor bus and/or the low floor tram. And we walk alot.

This is also the first time I have had to take Grace with me to see the shrink because a) I don't have to go very often anymore as I am not mad at the moment, b) Gerard is now working fulltime so I don't have a co-parent constantly available & c) I wanted to use my Mums' weekly visit as an opputunity to have a fitness re-assessment at the gym without having to compete for a creche place. I'm also getting used to taking Grace with me most places, this is what most mums have to do & strangely I feel better about myself as a mother for doing it too. Besides, Grace does love an outing!

I decided to take the old fashioned tram because it is a long but convenient trip. Almost door to door in fact. And it was pissing me off that I have a tram that stops almost outside our front door that I don't use very often. When I was pregnant, my Dad generously offered to buy us any pram we wanted, with all the bells & whistles.  So I spent hours test driving, researching, even to the point of asking people I saw with prams what they liked about theirs & how tram friendly they were. I even spent an afternoon(at about 38 weeks) hopping on & off trams, measuring doorways. But the clincher was when I saw a woman alight from an old tram unassisted with the Mountain Buggy that I thought the most stylish. I was impressed. So a Mountain Buggy is what we got. However, although it is great for walking about our suburb which has really, really crap paving, negotiating the tram was never as easy as it looked (particularly with the pram set up when Grace was a little baby).  And the buggy needs to be wiggled through the front door of our house!

Any way, we walk a few stops up so that I can by a ticket from the newsagent & sit to wait for the tram. I look at the others waiting for the tram, an elderly lady and a rough looking guy who'd come out of the TAB. The tram that I just missed was a semi modern one with wider doors, the one that pulls up is the most old fashioned there is. I lock the front wheel of the buggy, take a deep breath & prepare to struggle. "Wanna hand, luv?" the guy says almost as he is lifting the front of the buggy up the steps. He disappears almost before I can say thank you. Grace loves the tram, checking out the three year boy sitting opposite with his mum, burbling to anyone who will meet her eye. When we get to the end of the line, everyone gets of very quickly but I'm not worried, I know I can get down the stairs without time pressure. The driver walks past & grudgingly offers to help. "These aren't built for trams, are they," he says. Everywhere else we go that afternoon, there always seems to be someone to help us up or down steps, even when I could manage easily enough on my own. selves.

When Grace was a month or two old I became quite obsessed with not being able to get on the tram with her by myself & searched the Yarra trams for information about travelling with a baby in a pram. I thought there might be times when we couldn't travel, for instance. There's something in my memory about a rule like this, back in the olden days. (Ah the olden days, when we had conductors!)  However the only mentions of parents with prams were in the press announcements for the low floor trams. I called the customer line & made a complaint. Someone rang back to inform me that it was the job of the driver to help me, if they didn't have an injury such as a bad back preventing them from doing so. "But how would I know, I asked?" The customer service officer suggested that if the driver was unavailable then maybe another traveler might help.