her beloved unicorn

Last month at the Stitches and Craft show, I was looking around Sandra from Winterwood's stall, considering buying a felt animal kit. With the intention of making something charming and special for Grace's birthday. Never mind that there's a dodgy Steiner doll languishing unfinished in my handsewing basket that has been there for over a year. And then I saw the unicorn. It's so perfect, I thought, it will be for display only or I really won't be able to afford it (and for good reason, because it would have taken hours to make). Anyway, I picked up the little unicorn and he felt beautiful and soft in my hand. Grace would adore him. Then I saw he had a price tag and yes I could afford him (but unfortunately not as well as a Betty Jo brooch which had been my plan for a show treat - never mind, next time). So anyway, unicorn came home with me and lived hidden in my wardrobe until the day of the little girl's birthday. 

And I was right. She loves him. Constantly. Unicorn is already not quite as white as before. He likes eating gum leaves and very small gum nuts and sleeping under a hanky. She holds him in her hand or in the crook of her arm while she watches telly. Often he sleeps with her at night and has gone to childcare to be her sleep toy. Last night I spent some time googling unicorns and wikipedia says that according to legend the unicorn is fierce yet good, selfless yet solitary, but always mysteriously beautiful. He could be captured only by unfair means, and his single horn was said to neutralize poison. Personally, I worry about this one being small and as he is carried around everywhere, he might get lost. When I suggested to Grace that he might get lost, she said but then you could get me another one. To which I replied, this is the only unicorn just like this one. He's very special. A lady mummy knows made him by hand, and if he is lost, he is gone. She seemed to take that OK.

I have more unicorn research to do, but right now, we are very happy to have this little unicorn in our midst.

I like holidays

Yes I do. Today is the second day of my holidays proper, that is the second day I would have worked had I not been on rec leave. Somehow it's much sweeter than my usual long weekend. Yesterday I went to a morning tea that turned into lunch in beautiful gardens with some lovely lady bloggers. I had been totally mixed up about date wise. So on Sunday night, when I realised it was tomorrow, it was all OK because I was on holiday (and one of the days Grace attends childcare) and even though I had a mild laundry crisis and transient attack of the shys, it was all good.

As I approached the venue at the appointed time, I saw no-one I recognised immediately. Then Mary pointed her camera at me and I knew I was in the right place.Fairlie and Stacey were there already and Suse emerged from the caff and there were introductions all around. Stomper joined us later. As usual, meeting these women was excellent, the conversation went on and on. It was such a beautiful way to spend the first proper day of my holidays.

Three years ago (or thereabouts) when I popped through the rabbit hole and started blogging, I would never dreamed of how blithely I would go off to have coffee with women from the internet. But there's something about the reciprocity of blogging that makes it sit well with me. You already know whether you like the person you are about to meet. And if you are introduced to someone new by a fellow blogger friend, well it's a bit like meeting through mutual friends or at a party. And then you can go home and read their blog. Which is always a good thing.  I'm trying to say something here which is not quite coming out how I mean it. Something to do with being a reader - there are many blogs that I read and don't comment on or interact with beyond reading, that's normal I think - or a writer. Part of this blogging caper for me was always meant to be about the writing. A way to record my life, kind of like a cross between the handwritten diary I used to keep and something more formal. I thought originally that writing a blog might mean that I would one day attempt fiction again. I prefer blogging as a form to fiction, but I don't regard it as proper writing in the same way. Perhaps that preference comes from a certain laziness or desire for instant audience. Mind you, twitter and facebook seem to make blogging look positively considered (nonetheless Twitter is a good excercise in brevity for me). Or maybe it's that old pragmatic thing of being able to fit blogging into the rest of my week. And yet it has taken on a life of it's own. How strange life is sometimes.


Grace is four now. Wow, that blows me away. Her birthdays so far have induced in us this nostaligia for her tiny babyhood and all the other little stages up until now. While at the same time being pleased that she's growing up. It's funny to think of the tiny baby we tentatively drove home from the hospital as our lanky little chatterbox with a funny sense of humour, love of books, toy animals and dolls, 1930s cartoons and Madeleine, who really likes going visiting and holding hands. She seems so different from tiny baby Grace and yet totally the same person. Funny that.

Anyway, the party. Grace was very excited about having a birthday party this year and inviting her friends. We've been spending all summer hanging out in the park and going to the pool and visiting, so she knows a few kids around here now. At first we were worried about having the party on her actual birthday which was over Easter but as it turned out, most of the kids she wanted to invite were around.

Both photos by Magda

We cleaned up the yard, sorted out her play area, did a few things around the house and then it was upon us. I stayed up late the night before icing thecat cake and making lolly bags. Enjoying a sort of motherhood mania. In the morning after breakfast and presents (book and toy unicorn made by Sandra from me, dvds and toy cars from daddy - all loved and played with) we raced around trying to get everything ready. Note to self : : next time I have a party that starts at 10.30am, I am not going to have any food prep to do in the morning.  People came and bought presents, some with handrawn cards. The sun shone brightly. Nothing went quite as I planned and the kids found the easter eggs before the actual easter egg hunt was organised. Lunch was not as orderly as I imagined either. Nonetheless, it was heaps of fun. There was impromtu singalong music, games of statues and lots of playing in the playhouse and on the banging tree. Grown ups chatted, hula hooped, drank champagne (except for me - I didn't even think of it) and ate lunch. Afterwards we bought the cake out, lit the candles and sung happy birthday and Grace was rapt. She was sitting with her little friends and just so excited. It was all so heartfelt. Sigh, I felt really good too.

Despite the small portions of cake, lots of sugar induced craziness and running around ensued. Then the lollybags came out and there was lollipop and sticker craziness. Soon after that everyone went home and Grace curled up on her bedroom floor saying that she didn't want a nap. Ten minutes later, she changed her mind and we tucked her in for a proper sleep and Gerard and I set to cleaning. The party was mostly outside but the house looked like a tornado had been through it. Finally it was done and Grace woke up and played with her toys and watched a bit of telly, lucklily the telly ban ended just before her birthday. Later we had leftovers for dinner. I'm four now, she said.

Special thanks to Magda who bought her camera and took lots of lovely photos which she sent me that night and said I could use. If you check out my flickr set for the day, you'll see that most of the good ones have photo by Magda on them. Except the ones of Magda. Obviously. But seriously, what a beautiful gift for a mum. Because I was far to scattered to even set the iso properly. So thanks again Magda.

My holidays begin now

What a lovely feeling to walk out of work at fourteen minutes past five today knowing that I'm on holiday for the next five weeks. I haven't got all that much planned except for time at home, maybe painting the front windows and mulching the front yard, some serious winter wardrobe re-invigoration, hanging out with the girl and the man, just being in my 'hood and perhaps a very short camping trip. Oh, and a craft weekend! And some website work. But aside from that. Nothing much. Oh the joy!

Most of Easter was spent gardening and tidying up the backyard in preparation for Grace's 4th birthday party, which I'll post about properly when I've finished messing with the million and one photos. It was all so lovely and exciting. I can hardly believe that I'm now the mother of a four year old. How did that happen so quickly?

it was such a beautiful day

Last Saturday Mum and I took Grace to the zoo.She's been wanting to go for ages, to see the animals and find them with the map. But the last time we went, Grace was in that half nappy, half toileting stage and it was painful. She could go to the toilet, but she often wouldn't. Especially away from home. Or when there were other things she would rather do. And it was driving me nuts. And no matter how much I knew that Grace could well come to this late and it would just click (this happened with walking, she didn't walk until 18 months) or how people would say, oh but they all do it in their own time, I just did not want her to turn four and still be using nappies. Too ookie, for her and for me.

So, I cracked the shits (oh ha de ha ha) and went with a method I read in a blog or heard at a craft weekend (sorry, but I've forgotten where or from whom). I bought a big container of marbles and found a glass jar, not too big, not to small. Then Grace and I had a chat (the final in a long line of such chats) and I explained that I wanted her to do her poos and wees in the toilet and that her not being able to do this made it difficult for us to do fun things like go to the zoo. Then I told her that every time she did a wee in the toilet, she could put one marble in the jar and that a poo in the toilet would get three. But if she did poos in her pants she would have to take three out, and in a nappy two out etc. And that when the jar was full, mummy would know that she was good at doing poos and wees in the toilet and we would go to the zoo.

The first day, there was a little resistance. Then on the second day, we made sure that we reminded her to go at various points during the day and there were heaps of marbles in the jar. From then on the thing just sky rocketed and was wildly successful. There has not been one poopy incident and only a few wee ones since. On the second evening we forgot about the night nappy and have left it off since. Apparently at childcare she was comforting one of the younger kids who'd had an accident saying, sometimes kids do pooeys in their undies...  Grace has also learnt how to use toilets at other peoples houses and in public places and can be just a little obsessive about it. Which is fine (although apparently she ran screaming from the talking robo toilet at the big park). I am just so pleased and so is Grace. It's given her a real sense of being a big kid.

We talked about going to the zoo for the whole week before going and Grace told a number of people that she was going to the zoo because she filled up her jar with marble, one for wees, three for poos. For the big day of celebration, I made weetbix slice and ham sandwiches and we left nice and early. It was one of those glorious warm autumn days and we saw heaps of animals including some baby monkeys and the pregnant elephants, checked the map frequently and had chips for morning tea. There was a ride on the merry go round while Nana popped out for a smoke (no more smoking at the zoo) and lastly a stripey icy pole. By the end of it, we were all pretty tired and ready for a nap. Except that someone had left the parking lights on (probably me - although there is a little girl who likes to pretend drive given half a chance) and we had to wait for the RACV. The little girl said that she was very sleepy and once we found blanket, she was out like a light.

Now we just have to figure out what to do with the marbles. I suggested to Gerard that Grace could like, play with them and he rightly said, and yeah, we'll end up falling on the floor. Maybe they can be window ornaments for a while. But yes, I am so, so pleased. Finally.