christmas debrief

So. Today I packed away the Christmas tree and baubles, my mischievous little elf deciding that playing with her foam picture kit featuring a princess, prince, rainbow and a horse was much more exciting than helping. Despite having insisted that she would like to help. Anyway. It's all done for another year. I even vacuumed up the tinsel detritus and freshened the flowers. We need to go shopping for food, although the fridge is still full of Christmas cake, shortbread and stollen. There was also, for some reason, a Darrell Lea christmas pud (like the easter eggs, which are also delicious, although the pud has a little touch of white chocolate and a crispy green leaf on top, mmm). Maybe that's a new tradition in our christmas hampers from mum? Who knows, except that as G isn't eating sugar at the moment due to some dental issues, there's still an awful lot of sweet food just sitting there. Oh well.

Grace got so many presents it's lucky we did a clean out before and after moving. We made her open the presents from us first so that they got a look in. Even so the avalanche of gifts tends to make us both a little tense. Really though, it was all OK and the things she loved have been pretty well spread across the givers. Biggest hits so far were the doll from her Tasmanian grandparents and a book I bought her at the last minute from the social club book ordering service at work, Puff the Magic Dragon with accompanying CD. (Actually, if it comes up again I might buy another couple and put them away in my secret present cupboard for unexpected birthdays - very charming and would be a safe bet with the 2 - 5 set I think). There were some other gifts of note, the Gumby DVD Gerard bought over the internet from the US fan club which we watched together enfamille. Grace found the ones with bad dreams populated by the dough monster and robots a bit scary and decided that Daddy should have the DVD back. We've had a talk about bad dreams and that if scary monsters come, she just has to call out and mummy or daddy or nana will come and and protect her, with a stick (her words) if necessary. The portable white board from dad, the kooky fridge magnets from aunt betty and uncie mo have also been on high rotation. Although there has been some banning of textas for drawing on the furniture (I know, I am so mean). There are also some beginner embroidery supplies from mum and a whole lot of art supplies that I've put away for later. Gerard liked his videos, especially the Bruce Springsteen concert one and I love my book (The Slap, by Christos Tsiolkas) and the plants from mum and lance. And everyone likes getting a box of champagne (from dad and nina).

Christmas Day itself was quite chilled, despite the fact that we didn't get to sleep 'til quite late due to the neighbours very enthusiastic fireworks.The weather was beautiful and although I found my mum's partially in the process of being renovated kitchen somewhat chaotic and difficult, we all got fed, the children played nicely with each other and both had naps. I found that I still had a level of Christmas anxiety running under the medication, but maybe that's just Christmas for me as a mother. Last year I had made a mental note to do more in the month before Christmas and prepare in a pleasant way (eg making and sending cards, baking, making some gifts, selecting photos for the calender that may well becoming a tradition). However given that we've just moved and that we were hanging curtains the week before, I suspect a gentle preparation for Christmas this year would have been an unrealistic expectation. Just a little.

Anyway, as usual, we did nothing much on Boxing day. I love how the period between Christmas and Boxing day lends itself to utter idleness. Indeed I think it's one of the best bits of a good Christmas. Grace and I ate leftover sago plum pudding with cream for my breakfast and her morning tea. We watched dvds and went to the park. On Saturday, I slept in late again and then went to the pool by myself, swum laps and lay under a big tree reading my book. It was excellent to see all these people having fun at the pool. Indeed it was so excellent that I went back home and got Grace who had by that stage awoken from her nap.  She loved it and had a great time playing with some other kids. I thought of the walk we did around the pool last year and of her looking inside from outside and just got goosebumps. So we went to the pool again today. And I'd go again tomorrow if I didn't have to work. And sleep in late again if I could. And read books on warm days under the slow swirl of a ceiling fan. It truly is the life. Sigh.

But yes, Christmas this year was pretty good. Hope yours was too.

all the joy of the season

Just wanted to pop in and wish everyone who reads, comments and or lurks here all the best of the season, however you celebrate it (or not). At work over the last few days I realised anew how many people in Australia, well in Melbourne's inner west, don't actually celebrate Christmas. But still enjoy the spirit of the season and the opportunity to have a holiday. And maybe devise a Christmas of their own, taking bits here and bits there. Which is I guess what we do too. We're not religious but I've found myself reading Grace a nativity story or two which she loves because a) it's a great story full of meaning and depth and b) it features a baby. Very kid attractive. Especially as she hasa new cousin on the way in the next few weeks.  We've also been looking through a book of old paintings called The First Christmas from the National Gallery, London. This one is called The Nativity at Night by Geergen tot Sint Jans and was probably painted in  the mid 1400s.
I like how the light emanates from the baby Jesus and I'm reminded of how astoundingly special and magical it is when a new little person comes into this world. How spiritual the energy from a newborn can be. Even alongside the soreness and the tiredness and the weepiness. I find myself wondering if there's a connection to that time of our children as newborns that resonates with us in a particular way at Christmas and partly explains why mothers (and fathers too I guess) try so hard to make the best possible Christmas for our children. Why it's hard to stop with the presents etc. I noticed at work that when people talked about how they were going to spend the extra family tax payment, most of it was on something sensible like school costs or getting ahead/catching up with the bills, but there was also that delight in having a bit extra to spend on the kids at Christmas. Which seems to have made a lot of people very happy. And a lot less stressed.  So work was kind of cruisey in the lead up to the holidays, despite the busyness.

I could go on, but there's white christmas still to make, an excited child to bathe, feed and put to bed and raspberry vodka cruiser or two with my name on it in the fridge.

So may your Christmas be safe and peaceful, merry and delicious! See on the other side.

a bit about christmas and 100 things not about christmas

Homemaking is motoring along at a fine old pace, interspersed with some small moments of pre-christmas anxiety, noticeable, but dulled right down by the mood stabilisers. Sometimes I wonder if anything can really and truly move me these days. And I kind of miss my manic at the moment, but being able to sleep at night is a bonus, I suppose. Found myself saying to dad yesterday that I'm going through my list and trying to work out what I can get out of doing in the next few days, he laughed and said he understood that. Because I've decided to go on a solstice picnic today instead of baking and sewing and doing all the christmassy things I was going to do yesterday. Never mind, in the last couple of days we have put the curtains up, re-organised the shed and I've run a shitload of messages, cleaned the toilet to such an extent that I now know that the enamel is perished, done shopping and paid all the bills I could find. So there will be much less to do after Christmas, which is really the point of all this running around, if you think about it. Three days of as much idlness as possible before returning to work. Yep, I can see it's going to be one of those slack arsed Christmases, complete with lame presents. I don't mind lame presents either. Indeed in a way I quite like them. Tony, he doesn't care.

Anyway, I thought I'd do a bit of a meme. I saw this one at Leah's and it seems to be an australianised version of the one I saw the other night at Suse's. I've bolded the things I've done, italicised the things I'd like to do. Things in bold and italics are things I'd like more of.

1. Started your own blog (well der, who would do a meme except for someone who has a blog? Maybe this is so everyone can answer at least one question. Anyway blog number 6 is in the pipleine and seven is waiting in the wings - hopefully they'll be group endeavours).
2. Slept under the stars (we so need to go camping again).3. Played in a band. (heh heheh. I am the least musical person I know.)
4. Visited The Great Barrier Reef. (Several times. I plan to take Grace there for a holiday once she's old enough to snorkel and enjoy it. G says he'll sit in the car).
5. Stood under the stars in the outback, the real outback – think Uluru.
6. Given more than you can afford to charity.
7. Been to the Gold Coast’s theme parks – anyone, you take your pick.
8. Climbed a mountain (Mount Warning, to watch the sunrise on new years morning. It was steep and dark).
9. Held a praying mantis.
10. Sung a solo (see number 3).
11. Bungee jumped, jumped out of plane, been paragliding or hang-gliding, hot air ballooning. (No way, uh uh, not on my wishlist at all).
12. Visited Melbourne. (Nope, lived here all my life).
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea.
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch. Does blogging count? Photograpy?
15. Had a child. Raised a child. Worked with children.
16. Had food poisoning.
17. Been to the Snowy Mountains (and as a youngster been chased out of a high country cabin by feral pigshooters).

18. Grown your own vegetables.
19. Visited the Brett Whitely studio in Surry Hills, Sydney.
20. Slept on an overnight train or bus.
21. Had a pillow fight (yep, along with other boarding school cliches such as the midnight feast)
22. Been backpacking.
23. Taken a mental health day (more like a mental health month, last christmas).
24. Been buried in sand with just your head and toes sticking out (yuck, yuck, yuck).
25. Held a possum, kangaroo or koala – or any other native Australian animal.
26. Gone skinny dipping.
27. Been in a fun run (I don't think that's ever, ever going to happen).
28. Been on the Blue Mountain cableway. 
29. Seen a total eclipse.
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset.
31. Played, or watched, summer cricket (it's a constant background of life in summer here, I almost enjoy it now).
32. Sailed, kayaked or canoed our beautiful waterways (I had quite a thing for kayaking in my twenties until I tipped myself in a freezing river three times in a row).
33. Seen the Daintree.34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors.
35. Visited an Aboriginal settlement or mission.
36. Learned a new language.
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied.
38. Toured the Sydney Opera House.
39. Tried rock climbing (indoor or outdoor), abseiling or just simple bushwalking (again in my twenties that was the sort of thing I liked, it was kind of between two different stoner phases of my life - I do think about going bushwalking again. Rockclimbing or rock scarbbling for any length of time is not something I enjoy)).
40. Visit Queensland’s Gallery of Modern Art.
41. Been to the Tamworth Country Music Festival.
42. Sunbaked at Bondi.
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant (although a stranger once bought me a steak dinner in amsterdam, I was young and innocent and didn't have much money. It never occured to me that he might have had any motives beyond kindness and maybe he didn't, because he was a perfect gentleman).
44. Visited Broome.
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight (not that I can remember, but I have been to the beach at night, so maybe I have, my big memories are of netting in the surf at night as a kid and being terrified of the big waves I couldn't see coming).
46. Been transported in an ambulance (twice, the first when I fell of a motorbike I was learning to ride and broke my arm and the other when I had the post-natal psychosis and was being transported from the big hospital to the mother/baby unit. Let me tell you, that was a freaky trip).
47. Had your portrait painted.
48. Gone fishing.
49. Seen Tasmania’s old growth forests (some of what's left of them, and it was quite stunning to see how a little bit back from the road could be quite a different story to what you saw as you drove along. Such devastation).
50. Been to the top of Q1, on the Gold Coast.
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkelling.
52. Kissed in the rain.
53. Played in the mud.
54. Gone to a drive-in theatre.
55. Been in a movie.
56. Driven the Great Ocean Road.
57. Started a business.
58. Taken a martial arts class.
59. Visited Norfolk Island.
60. Served at a soup kitchen.
61. Sold Girl Guide biscuits.62. Gone whale watching.
63. Got flowers for no reason.
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma.
65. Gone jet boating.
66. Visited Port Arthur.
67. Bounced a cheque
(I hate to say this, but I done it on purpose once or twice).
68. Flown in a helicopter.
69. Saved a favourite childhood toy (no I'm quite unsentimental like that).
70. Visited the Australian War Memorial.
71. Eaten Caviar.
72. Pieced a quilt (just a dolls quilt so far, but I have plans).
73. Stood in Federation Square (umm, yes I live in Melbourne)
74. Been on the Murray River (camped on the Murray more than once, swam in it a few times).
75. Been fired from a job (twice, once because of a recession and once because I kept stuffing up the photcopier).
76. Travelled, or climbed, over the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
77. Broken a bone.
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle.
79. Seen the Three Sisters at Echo Point, Katoomba.
80. Published a book.
81. Visited St Mary’s Cathedral, in Sydney.
82. Bought a brand new car.
83. Been to Hermannsburg (yes, we were investigated by kids in the camp grounds and we visited the Albert Namitjera museum and met some people who know my relos in an obscure town in north west Victoria and who took us fourwheel driving to Palm Valley. It was during this drive that I realised I might be pregnant).
84. Had your picture in the newspaper.
85. Read the entire Bible.
86. Visited Parliament House.
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (I used to keep chickens for that purpose, the male ones given to me by a vegetarian friend who raised chickens for eggs. He grew up on a farm and said that if I ate meat then I should learn how to kill and dress it myself. It's not something I would do again in a hurry unless I had a good reason).
88. Had chickenpox.89. Saved someone’s life.
90. Sat on a jury.
91. Met someone famous.
92. Joined a book club (although I used to be in a writing group, the sort wher you read and critique each other's short stories).
93. Lost a loved one.
94. Saved a pet.
95. Been to the s
ite of the Eureka Stockade.
96. Swum in The Whitsundays.97. Been involved in a lawsuit.
98. Owned a mobile phone (who doesn't these days? Mine is very basic and I'm finally considering getting a plan and upgrading to a new handset).
99. Been stung by a bee (ouch, ouch ouch).
100. Read an entire book in one day.

Right. Off to get my day underway and make cards and bake some biscuits before going on said solstice picnic.

from here to there, from there to here

.... funny things are everywhere.*
So yes, we are here. And it's taken me a while to get back online, well to this space online anyway. My days just seem so crowded, with the house, learning where things go, finding new routines, work and family. And a post moving energy that swings between being fired up to get things done and an extreme lassitude. We're more or less unpacked. Except for a big basket of useless bathroom stuff, some toys and pictures in Graces room (which hasn't been done because she seems happy with what she has. I need to do a big re-organise to fit it all in, which I keep putting off) and a few decorative touches. Then there's the shed. Which will be fine once we get the curtains and cushions out and re-pack it. But we're waiting on curtain rods. Special brass ones, which G was pretty keen on and I like the sound off. Especially once they stop being so shiny and develop a patina. So we don't really have curtains yet. Just blankets hung in the tops of the windows. Which I find very disconcerting. Especially as I have to constantly explain to Grace that we need to keep the bathroom door shut so that the next door neighbour doesn't see mummy's bottom. I miss my curtains.

The old house has gone to someone who will love her and there were some intense moments returning to gather the things left behind in the rush of moving day. Grace hated it. Can't say I blame her. It looked dirty and empty. The second time we went back was after G had done a big clean up and although it was still traumatic for her, we did have some nice time sitting on the front step waiting for Jodie while G and Camo dismantled house at po-po corner for transport to the new house. The move itself was grueling. As was the day after. Thank goodness we had the truck and the two men. Who were pretty damn good. And quite reasonably priced. That night though, we had the worst home delivery pizza and chicken salad I have ever had, delivered late to three very tired and grumpy people. One of whom was a three year old. Not pretty. Luckily we have since discovered another home delivery pizza place that is OK and as a bonus will also deliver grocery items and alcohol.

Of course, Telstra totally mucked up the move order and we were without the internet for five days after we moved. Apparently the move order was made in good time and then cancelled five minutes later. By someone at Telstra (in my moments of extreme Telstra loathing, I suspect it was vindictive after my episode of being the snarky customer reading from the website). Anyway, I huffed and puffed and tried to complain properly but there's nobody you can complain to verbally or get a response from.  G did a little better and managed to get it connected a day earlier than it was going to be. Let me just say this (cue chairman kevin voice) once our exchange gets iinet, I think we will ditch Telstra and explore the world of naked DSL. Don't ask me what it stands for but basically it means you don't have a home phone line as such, but your phone is attached to your internet connection. Apparently it's much cheaper and faster. And I won't have to interact with Telstra. Massive advantages.

What else? The commute to work is like interval training. I run for trains and buses. Especially the funny bus that drops me at the end of the court. It only goes every half hour and I run to catch it in the morning and again from the train. There's lots of public transport, but none of it is that direct, or that convenient. I guess I was spoiled before, having a tram right outside my door.  And spoiled by being so inner city. Although I do quite like going on the train. It covers such a distance surprisingly quickly. And it's very nice to sleep without the sounds of trucks whooshing past, trams clanking and hoons arguing on the street. I also wake to sounds of birds in the trees. Perhaps I'll get fit too.

Gerard has been in power shelf building mode! In the last  week he has installed a big one in the study, one in the so called sunroom with hooks underneath for shopping bags etc and another in the toilet for toilet paper etc. He also helped me arrange a whole heap of existing shelves on my desk so they won't fall down. And affixed cuphooks, unblocked the kitchen sink, fixed the lawnmower and oiled the front door lock so my key doesn't jam. I've been in cleaning mode, washing nearly everything as I unpacked it. Even washed the white couch which was filthy. Our new house is much lighter than the old one, so you can tell. Hopefully this weekend I'll get to do the windows, unpack the bathroom and the last two boxes Grace's room and have a big rest. Which I need, work has been rather busy and intense too. More customers, kevin's christmas present and no extra staff, and I can feel this tight little knot in my shoulder from it. It's all really rather exhausting, But this new house is starting to feel like home. Especially when I walk up the street after a long day and return home. Now off to bed, to dream about my front garden plans which are becoming more and more rose filled. Perhaps we will have had enough rain to start soon. I wonder.

* from Wet Pet, Dry Pet a Dr Seuss book that was on high rotation at the time of moving, perhaps because it was one of the few books not in a box.