christmas day 2010

We arose at a leisurely seven o'clock and ate breakfast together in the kitchen before adjourning to the lounge for presents. This seems to have become a tradition, even Grace accepts that we have breakfast before presents. Everyone seemed pleased with their loot. Grace got a big box of lego, a heart shaped box set covered in sparkles, dvds galore and sundry pieces of tat from father christmas. The bindis in particular were a big hit. Along with the girlie books of stickers he must have got from the $2 shop near Preston market.

gerard and grace doing the presents on christmas morning

I gave G a cool rock book that he has already read (damn) and Grace and I got cd/dvd that wasn't the one he really wanted because that one isn't out on dvd yet except as a zillion cd/dvd box set for more than I thought was reasonable. Maybe I should have, but oh well. I on the other hand totally scored with one of the books that I have been looking at wistfully but probably wouldn't buy myself. Very exciting. Did you know that according to this book, all eucalyptus indigenous to the Melbourne area have cream to white flowers? Except that another book I have on loan, plants of the Merri Merri says that the variety I have planted can have pink flowers. Hmm, a thought that was with me all day and prompted a few discussions about planting indigenous gardens and whether it was tokenistic, futile or a good thing to do in a latte sipping way. Or indeed a plant based form of racism. We obviously over think things a bit, my family.


Before heading to my dad's for lunch G did a load of washing and I dipped some peppermint flavoured sugar in chocolate and we gathered up yet more loot and loaded up the car. On the way I couldn't help noticing all the agapanthas in flower in the dividing strip in Heidleberg. All I could think was weeds, pretty weeds. Sadly there are plants I like to grow in the garden that are also classed as weeds, so not a great thing to be thinking about when trying to be merry.

nina and dad at front door

Luckily it was very jolly at dad's. We mingled and snacked on all sorts of tasty things before feasting on ham and chicken (our family doesn't really like turkey) with vegetables and gravy followed by mum's pudding with spicy brandy sauce and lashings of cream. Yum. Yum. Then there was presents and once again the children scored. It was less crazy than last year and the toys have been much enjoyed. Grace loves her Barbie with the horse and her flipper set, or as she calls them, the duck feet . There was lots of sugar around and lots of excited children who crashed and ended up on the big cream couch watching telly.

gerard and cam

By the time we got home, Grace was asleep in the car covered in chocolate. She'd had a ham sandwich before we left so there was no need for dinner.  It was awesome having my sister Betty, Cam and the girls around. Felt like a much more natural Christmas to me. It was also awesome having Dad and Nina host Christmas and pretty much do everything. Thanks heaps!


Next year it would be nice to: Get the shopping, cleaning and making completed before the week before Christmas so there was more time for visiting, baking and gentle domesticity, have a list of gifts worked out earlier so I don't panic at the end, loosen up a bit and realise that there will always be enough. Our needs are pretty simple really and I should avoid getting love and care confused with stuff.

Other great things about Christmas this year: Christmas eve in the park with neighbours and guitars in the slowing light, having all the presents wrapped and ready to go before Christmas eve, Boxing day. How I love boxing day. I spent the whole day in my pyjamas playing with Grace's lego. Excellent.

How was your Christmas? I have loved reading and peeking into some other family Christmases this year. So thank you for that.

merry, merry and all that

Hi, there's a little moment of calm here while G and Grace have popped up to the shops for some last minute bits and pieces. Finally, I feel a bit organised. After a frenzied dash to norflands yesterday feeling panicky that I didn't have everything and some last minute sewing, the gifts are done. And I think they've all turned out pretty well.

star shadow

christmas elf

So yeah, my anxiety about stuff not being enough probably prompted my dash to the shops, but I'm cutting myself some slack here. I'm a tightarse most of the year and going just a little over my budget is OK. Last night I sat up with a movie and wrapped, so most of that is ready. I'm going to start making dinner soon, it's nearly 11.00am but we're planning on a very early dinner of nori rolls and chicken drummettes tonight, followed by a play in the park. With the cousins! Grace is so excited to be taking the cousins to dinner in the park to see her friends.

Yikes, they're back. OK must go. Merry Christmas to all who are celebrating, and all the best to those who aren't. See you all on the other side. xoxJ

they're here

We went and had dinner with my sister Betty and her family at mum's tonight. Fish and chips. Gosh, how the girls have grown since we saw them in August. Grace was very excited but hesitated and sat on my knee for a few moments. Then they were off. Racing around and being cousins. Grace talks about Ruby-Lee and Maeve and them being her cousins very regularly. More than I'd expected considering that we really don't do a whole heap of phone contact in between visits. Ruby-Lee apparently talks about Grace a lot too. They obviously feel something about their relationship that transcends distance. Which thrills me in a way that's hard to explain.

ruby-lee, nana and grace

I liked catching up too. It feels like the holidays have begun properly now. I've had a little resurgence of Christmas anxiety and I've spent two days cleaning the house. It was pretty dirty and unpleasant. I have this fantasy of a minibus of camp elves arriving with brushes, brooms and magic cleaning potions and totally sparkle cleaning the house while I relax with a coffee and a biscuit, but well that wouldn't get it done so I just got busy. We now have clean, but slightly streaky windows and clean sheets. All the main shelves have been dusted and de cluttered. The child's room has been rescued from the layers of end of term detritus and general slack arsed, let's just clear a pathway to her bed approach to cleaning.Three boxes of magazines and things we no longer need went back to the opshop. Some of the cupboards have been sorted, my sewing area is tidy, spider webs have been knocked down and the front porch hosed out.


I've done a big supermarket shop. The garden could do with some work, there's manure and mulch to spread, weeds to pull and seedlings to thin. However G resowed some lawn a while ago and has been cutting the grass nearly every second day this month and it's the best it's ever been. And we've tidied up the little outside sitting area. So yeah, I think we can call it done. Especially as I do still have some gifts to make and I guess given that it's only two days until the big one. I hadn't planned on leaving it to the last minute so I'd better get cracking with that. And some baking, if you can call making white christmas baking.  And hopefully we'll see the cousins again tomorrow or the day after. Then of course there will be the big, but hopefully fairly relaxed Christmas followed by a boxing day of extreme idleness. In a lovely clean house.

reasons to be cheerful - part one

I'm on holidays! Until the new year! Breathe out. Still a bit tired, but nothing some rest and relaxation won't fix.

My sister and her family are coming home for Christmas. The excitement countdown has begun.

Grace bought home her end of year report on Tuesday. We are so pleased and proud of her. Not only is she reading, writing, speaking and listening at a high level, but she scored an excellent for effort and class behavior. Her other results are great too. She might be one of the youngest in her class but she's certainly right into school.


And talking about reading, how cool is it watching your child grow into an independent reader? One night Gerard is reading The Enchanted Forest aloud to Grace. The next night she reads me a good few paragraphs first. Mostly Gerard reads and Grace and I listen. Oh, and how I'm enjoying going visiting up the Faraway tree again. Except for Dame Slap.

Christmas chalk drawings on the community art wall this morning. How I love that this art wall has become part of the scene.


I'm picking berries from the bushes I planted winter before last. Sure, they are threatening to take over the garden, but I think if I tip prune them and spread some manure around, we might get a couple of punnets every couple of days for a while. Yum.

I am thinking of going to Savers and Rathdowne Remnants tomorrow. Grace might come too.  Just because.
Christmas shopping pretty much done. Lots of easy craft and some cooking left to do. Nothing too hard. Next week should be pretty cruisey.

Gerard brought the calendars home today - oh my. I didn't think I had taken enough calendar worthy pictures this year and I always grumble inside about the cost of getting them printed. But once again, I'm very happy. Love the really simple layout and quality of the Michaels' calendar. This is the fourth year (?) I've done them and they feel a bit like a tradition.

since when did we start saying happy holidays?

Dinner in the park in spite of the weather. Actually a fair bit of time at the neighbour's place with lots of kids waiting for a gap in the weather, but it was good to see the kids in gumboots racing around the park in the long wet green grass. At the edges of the park, the grass is so long in places that the kids could hide in there.

I can hear bats outside. How I love watching them glide and swoop across the sky.

Hear Ian Dury and the Blockheads here.

christmas shopping

Today I spent all day shopping and running errands and I'm beat, but pleased it's done. Very. All that remains is to take Grace on an expedition to buy a present for Daddy - she's very keen on this, we'll go early and keep it short. I think she likes the bus trip most of all. As do I. Today I went in to town straight after drop off, picked up my glasses, got my hair cut by a young woman who asked me if I was married to my "partner" and seemed genuinely shocked I wasn't, ordered the calendars, picked up some art supplies and some gifts. Then after lunch I caught the bus to Northland, which was a lovely little journey through pockets of Melbourne I haven't really seen before. Norfland was surprisingly unchaotic and I braved toys r us and target to find the last items on my list.

*bourke st mall
It was really a pretty good day to go shopping. Beautiful mild weather, not too many people about and not too much frenzy. Although I did find myself at the end wanting to buy just one more thing. Sometimes when I give myself permission to shop, I start enjoying it and find it hard to stop. But stop I did and that's it for me. The rest is baking and easy sewing. And tonight, as I have already done all my ironing ready for work tomorrow I am just going to sit and knit before going to bed at a reasonable time.

Oh, and the haircut, it's a bit strange. I have heathen hair. Obviously..

spur of the moment kitchen table craft frenzy

This afternoon Grace and I went to a neighbourhood Christmas party in the rain. Grace was a little subdued after an incident with the Christmas tree this morning and a wobbly tooth that's freaking her out (perhaps because of her dental trauma after the scooter accident). When it started to rain a bit, she was keen to go home and on the way we collected some bark from the park and some paperbark from a street tree. All of a sudden it had come to me how I was going to make a tree on the Christmas tree stand G made for me last year.

I made a glorious mess. Met some spiders. Worked with scissors and a knife. Constructed a star out of fabric and beads from the stash, stiffened with one of my favourite craft materials, beer box cardboard. And t-da!

bark tree

We now have three trees on our mantel and the one in the corner. Making the bark tree was great fun. Better than making biscuits for the teacher or cleaning out the plastics cupboard. The biscuits can be made after work one night. I feel much more in the spirit of things now. Christmas shopping and errands day by myself tomorrow. It involves a detailed list and a new bus ride.Strangely, I find that terribly exciting.

goodbye grinch

Yep. The grinch has been with me and I'm thinking that if I write some of it down, name it, own it, then maybe I can move on and enjoy myself in the lead up to Christmas. Please feel free to skip this if you've moved past this stage in your preparation for the Christmas. I'm planning to post good things after this.

On Friday morning I had quite a detailed session with my shrink. She said that despite some issues at work and home, I seemed fine. And I said, yes it does look that way, but that's not how I really feel. There have been days when I have struggled to hold it together. Some awful low patches and secret tears. My actor is working really hard and she is very tired and getting a bit shaky. Oh, I am a good deceiver. Anyway, sitting outside last night watching the clouds in the night sky, I came to the conclusion that ever since my manic episode in 2007, Christmas has had an edge for me (and my little family) that is hard to shake. It's like each December, just as the weather heats up, issues from our respective families come out to mingle, play dirty and we both act like crap. I'm calling it the Recurrent Family Christmas Shit Cycle (RFCSC).

spider friend

Our culture surrounds us with messages that Christmas is fun a time of joy and giving, all pretty and sparkly and beguiling. Despite clear evidence to the contrary. Oh sure, some magazine articles acknowledge the stress of the season, but pretty much the sparkle dominates.  My rational side knows that that it's advertising and cultural compulsion and that really, everyone's Christmas truth is bit different. Some years are great and some not so great. And you can get yourself all in a tizz over making it just so and you still don't have much control over whether it will be one of the good ones. Or whether it will be one of the shockers that puts you off Christmas for a long time. Most likely there will be good bits and bad bits and the best bit is lying on the couch on boxing day watching dvds and eating leftovers. So anyway my control freak just goes into overdrive, I find myself wanting to clean compulsively and I don't sleep well and I'm cranky. Which I feel even more sad and guilty about because there is this little five year old who is all about the excitement. Although Grace did say to me the other day that if I bought her a present she didn't like, she wouldn't like me. Oh, the honesty of children. Anyway, it is only eight years since that we started having Christmases with both my mum and my dad and their respective partners. Obviously thinking about three families, mine, his and ours does me in. That's a lot of RFCS. 

bark and fabric

OK, so on top of the RFCSC, there is work. Each day at work I'm reminded how lucky I am to have a home, a stable family, enough money to live on. Even though by some standards we live on the smell of an oily rag, we really are very lucky and we don't go without. We don't have to decide between paying the bills or buying some Christmas gifts for the child. We have resources and space to make stuff, to generate good things that don't cost very much. I meet lots of people who have a fair degree of anxiety about providing a good Christmas for their kids. The least stressful Christmas at work was the one K Rudd was splashing the cash around. Sure people were cynical and knew the money wouldn't last but it created a whole different vibe.  You would think that a country of such vast mineral wealth would provide a public health care system that looks after the sick. And a state education that was so awesome that hardly anyone went private. What a great leveller of opportunity that could be.You would also think that we could have made some progress in dealing with the housing issue by now. But it is worse than ever. I rang a housing service on behalf of a young family who were dependent on the goodwill of friends and had lived in five temporary places in the last two months. The housing worker didn't laugh, but she might has well have. There is simply nowhere to refer people. My job is meant to be all about social inclusion these days but frankly, I think there are whole sections of our society that get a pretty rough deal. Obviously, shiny happy is not for everyone. 

Oh, and then there is the stuff about Christmas being women's work and responsibility. I got all bitter and twisted about that at beginning of December and cracked the shits. Now I have to admit we are being much more consultative about gifts and how Christmas will work. G is also being helpful with things like getting ready to put the Christmas tree up and giving me a fair amount of space and time to do some of the things I find difficult - like the Christmas Calendar. That's become a tradition of sorts and I do like it when it's done.

Well. Big sigh. That wasn't as bad as I thought. I actually feel better now. Thank you.


when the rain stopped

Sorting through my photos from November and as the thunder roars again, I'm reminded of a spell of lovely weather we had then. It stopped raining for a couple of days and the skies were blue. Everything of course, was verdant and green and kind of sparkly. That's one upside to all this rain, when the sun finally reappears the world glitters.

front yard


leanne's garden


more of leanne's garden

I took these photos on the way to pick up Grace from a birthday party. How I love a drop off party. Anyway, it was the day before the election I think. And I stopped to admire one of my favourite garden in the 'hood. It really is gorgeous. All natives and many plants indigenous to our area. The dianella (not sure of the variety) in the middle picture is one I've just started to notice and hopefully some little self seeded ones I got from another neighbour will flourish in my front yard and bush up the very non native irises. The little blue bell  in the last photo is also a favourite of mine. As is the dicondra. Both are found naturally around here and despite being delicate looking plants appear to very hardy. 

Oh goodness, here comes the rain again! Time for bed I think.

it never rains

This afternoon, sitting at my desk waiting for something, possibly the computer, I glanced out the window and noticed the sky was grey and there were splatters of raindrop on the footpath and thought oh surprise, it's raining. Again. People were rushing through the street. Or not. Because although it's wet, it's warm, not cold. Which is nice. So is the rain I suppose, although there have been garden casualties. Perhaps I need to let the ground dry out a little before I plant again. Which seems counter intuitive, but I did read that if the soil is too wet, the roots can't breathe or some such.


On the weekend there was an awful lot of rain. Again. And because the ground is already saturated it doesn't take much to flood the creek. I went for a look on Sunday and was remembering how a couple of years ago (2008?) we were so excited when the waterfall started running again. On Sunday it was loud and powerful. The ground was soggy underfoot. It was thrilling. The smell of the brown water reminded me of the creek from my childhood. It's a grand thing to have a creek nearby that you can go and check the weather against.

all the rubbish


The confluence was mighty too. Again, I stopped and stared. And tried not to think about the election result. It hadn't been declared then, but the writing was on the wall, as it was from about 7.30pm on election night. A woman with a baby on her back said she feared what might come down the river. All I could see was rubbish trapped up against the bridge which is sinister enough. It felt very apt to be staring at the flood. To be honest, the election made me feel pretty grumpy. Like I said on Facebook, most people I know vote Labour or Green and I get that. I also get that people vote Liberal, or national Party even, I just don't get this many people voting Liberal. From under my northern suburbs rock, I just didn't see it coming. We've been working pretty hard in the lead up to the election on the high school issue and we had great local press and some good coverage in The Age but this result is a game changer. Oh well, I guess we just keep on going. But I was sad. And then there is Christmas. Over the weekend, I realised that there are some things I need to do that involve negotiation and I woke up with a big knot of tension across my shoulders. But I'm going to crack the shits and get organised. Yes I am.