Wednesday, September 30, 2009

My dad would be so proud

Tonight while tidying the kitchen, I noticed a sudden and potent foulness had crept into the room. I inquired with Markus about its source, and he shifted the blame to the organic fruit and nut bread he's been consuming at lunchtime. He went on a bit about how it sneaks up on him five or six hours later, that thankfully it doesn't last long but "boy am I glad that I'm wearing some fairly sturdy jeans!"


I am too much of a perfectionist to be content with what I draw and paint, but I really need to get over that. I am so inspired by Geninne's journal pages, and I am delighted every time she decides to share them.

Issues of jealousy

Yesterday was the first day of school holiday after a long weekend, which means our girls-who-thrive-on-routine had their routines all thrown to the wind. To make things extra fun, it was very cold and rainy for most of the day, so I couldn't do as my wise Grammaw would have done and kick them both outside to burn off the steam and energy. Both of them woke up in moods, and they competed heavily throughout the day for first place in the "Let's Drive Mama Nuts" category. During Ellie's last school holiday, Ellie was thrilled to be home, and baby Stephanie and I were thrilled to have her home...but Stephanie is older now. She's getting to the age where changes in routine are less welcome. While Markus was home for the long weekend, she was happy that we were all together. When he went back to work but Ellie didn't go back to school, was noticeable for the first time ever that she resented Ellie infringing on her territory. She fussed, she complained, she had a shout or two. Ellie took the cue that this must be the agenda for the day, and she took it to the next level. They started to squabble. Neither wanted to engage in any activity I had thought up. Both were furious that I resisted their intentions to run around half-dressed in the cold rain. On top of all that hooey, we were scheduled for a rental inspection. Forgetting to eat breakfast in my get-it-done frenzy, I spent nearly three hours in the morning scrubbing, scouring and cleaning for all I was worth, blood sugar dwindling to rock bottom, making me more frustrated than usual about kiddie mess and generally P.O.'d about my day...only to get a bit more P.O.'d (and a bit relieved) when the inspection was canceled at noon.

I called two girlfriends mid-afternoon, hoping to commiserate a bit about wild kids and gross weather. One perkily related that she didn't mind the weather at all, since her kids had been with her mother-in-law since breakfast. She'd been to the gym, shopping and had cleaned the house...and she had another 30 minutes to go before picking them up. The other girlfriend had an easy morning too with her older son in school that doesn't break for holiday and then he came home to take a long nap with her younger one in the afternoon. She was going out that night too. I was jealous. I started forming a long list of gripes.

I was jealous that my friends had breaks from The Crazy.
I was jealous of the whole kids-at-the-mother-in-law's thing.
I was jealous about kids seeing extended family at all.
I was jealous that people who aren't renting don't have inspections.
I was jealous that their houses weren't invaded (or not, as it turned out today) by strangers who inspect your housekeeping along with checking for damage to the property.
I was jealous of people with more stable weather, because it was seriously unpleasant to keep forcing my cold, tormented little monkeys into shoes and socks again after two gorgeous weekend days of warm sun and sand.

The list of beefs grew as the day wore on and the kiddie challenges mounted. I wasn't going to write about it because I was in a seriously foul mood by dinnertime, and really who wants to read all about that? But this morning, I was still thinking about it, so I decided to share.

Most of the crud from yesterday is cleansed from my mental palate. I know why yesterday was hard, and I can't really blame the girls for it. They always struggle to readjust after a weekend, and this one was extra long. The unpleasant weather was a hard adjustment for them too, after such nice days. They were cold and grumpy and not in the mood to share Mama's time and attention with each other or even with Mama herself. But I keep thinking about something from my pre-inspection cleaning spree. I was down on all fours scrubbing the baby Stephanie food smears from all sorts of creative places, and I got to some handprints on the back door that wouldn't come off. They were made with paint on her hands as she grasped the door to help her step her way inside after an art project, and really, I so badly wanted to keep them.

So today, I remain a bit jealous of people who live in one place, who raise their children in their home, and who get to keep the tiny unexpected treasures their little people leave behind. Parenting does have a dark underbelly of Crazy, but there are so many gifts and joys that deserve much more attention. I love those little paint smudges at baby Stephanie level. Rental inspections or no, they will stay until we move.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Look what I made!

Yesterday afternoon, I made a dress for Ellie. My first-ever dress! Sewn without a pattern! And it's CUTE! I know that's a lot of little sentence fragments and a lot of exclamation points, but I am more the slightly proud of my accomplishment (my only other sewing to date has been one pair of pajama pants and two library bags). Ellie sat beside me for almost the entire process (which tells you right there how quickly it goes), asking "Is it done now?" with every pause of the sewing machine. Ellie was very anxious to try it on, though she was less than eager to model it for the camera. After two dozen attempts, I finally got her to smile for this shot:

Ellie practically lived in her two jersey smocked sundresses from Petit Bateau last year. She wore them until the elastic smocking came loose in a few dozen places. How excited was I when I found simple instructions on Martha Stewart and a video tutorial! Heather Ross is the presenter. The patterns for the child and adult versions are available in her latest book Weekend Sewing (which I really want to own!), and they are also available online here and here. My first attempt was made with cheap fabric from Spotlight, the Wal-Mart of Aussie crafts and homewares. I wanted to make sure I could figure it out before moving on to good stuff. I used ribbon from my stash for the straps, and I love how it looks. The dress is super-easy and really cute! Now that I know how it works, I plan to buy some nicer fabrics and make two each for the girls and one or two adult versions for myself for our upcoming trip to Bali. Hooray!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Baby Stephanie and the unexpected

Our time at the river on Saturday felt almost magical. Thanks to the opening of the Perth Royal Show, everywhere we went was a ghost town. The streets and shops were deserted. The day was so lovely, a tremendous treat given the past several weeks of general weather yuck and sick blah-ness. The sun was warm; the wind was minimal. The sand was the perfect damp for making "kuchen" (German for "cakes"; what Ellie calls sand shapes with make with plastic molds). Baby Stephanie was very happy to settle down in the sand for a play. Markus's attempt to push her along in the kayak was met with tears and wailing, we suppose because it just felt unfamiliar. Baby Stephanie is the most peaceful baby we have ever known. She is a peaceful, calming, happy presence almost all the long as nothing unexpected happens. The unexpected is almost always unwelcome and the source of great upset.

I offer Exhibit A: Contently watching Papa and Ellie come in from a little paddle

The contentment continued for over an hour, happily shoveling and shifting sand from one spot to another. She wandered to the still water's edge and just looked and looked. She was so beautiful that I reached for the camera.
And then there's Exhibit B: As I moved to take her picture, a series of (very small) waves came ashore from a distant motorboat. This was unexpected...and unwelcome.

I clicked just in time to capture a moment that was so terribly sad and so sweetly funny. Poor wee one.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

We celebrate "the good ol' days"

33 trips around the sun! It was only fitting that sun decide to come out and help me celebrate today. The day could not have been more glorious. We grasped the opportunity for the season's first kayak time at the river without shoes (that last bit is the most important if you ask Ellie)! We started the day with cake for breakfast (I made coffee cake last night so it'd be ready), complete with candles and the birthday song. Ellie has learned a birthday song at school that we can't quite identify. The lyrics sound something like this...

You (something something) your baby ways...
...(something something something) days

(if I wanted to more accurately portray volume at which this is sung, the chorus would be in size 24 font with the others in size 8.)
The reason I tell you this is because this morning, Markus asked Ellie if she knew what day it was. She instantly perked up and shouted, "Mama's birthday!" quickly followed by, "Are we going to sing about the good ol' days?"

Yes, we are. Except the good ol' days are now too.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Meme to come

I've been passed a meme from the lovely Oz Mummy about my 10 happiest memories...ever. The memories that instantly sprang to mind are the most hiliarious (to me) unexpectedly happy moments in recent years. They are stories, not just moments to list, and well, you know I don't do the short version. Watch out for coming posts refering to the happy memories meme, and we'll eventually cover 10. Thanks, Oz Mummy, for the side-splitting trip down Memory Lane! We've had a blast with this already!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A worrisome complaint recently overheard

"I'm really starting to be concerned that my four-year-old son is an underachiever."

Big girl

Two weeks ago, our Ellie turned four, and this number has been in hot debate ever since. For most of this school year, her closest friend has been a sweet girl who is six months younger. She and Ellie bonded at the hip, with an unfortunate result of a lot of undesirable-to-us younger behaviors in Ellie. Then, her friend was away on holiday for three weeks. Ellie spent that time playing more and more with some of the older kids. One of them turned 5 three days before Ellie turned 4. Since that day, she has been raw-ther insistent that she is FIVE. We'll take it, because before she was insisting she was THREE and man, some days I was so done with her being three, if you know what I mean.

Now that she is four (FIVE!), Ellie is invited to stay for the full day at school. The "half-day" runs from 8:45am - 1:30pm (they eat lunch together as a class and then play on the playground until pick-up). The "full day" runs an additional hour and a half beyond that. We're giving it a trial run on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Ellie is so excited to stay with the big kids, but it is a long day. Last Tuesday was the first try, and she did great...though her tiredness was evident. On Thursday, she was teary-tired before we even reached the car. I kept her home Friday thinking she was getting another cold, but in retrospect, I think she was just worn out. I talked to her (wonderful!) teacher, and she reported nothing but enthusiasm and great behavior during the school day. With that in mind, we're giving it another go this week. Yesterday, she did fine. Although she was tired, she held it together really well all afternoon. Tomorrow will be the last full day before a two week school holiday. I can tell she is ready for a break!

We'll actually be enjoying a three week school holiday, because we sneakily planned a trip to Bali at the end of the two week break. All of the Aussies will have left, none of the Europeans will have arrived, so we should have the run of the place!

Monday, September 21, 2009

One of the myriad reasons why I married him

He's such a groovy dancer.

Winter weather continues

Cold, gale-force winds came roaring in again from the ocean today. Yikes.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Cuteness overload

I flipped through my photos to see what we were doing one year ago, and I came across this video (technically one year and three days ago). The cuteness is too much for this mama not to share all over again.

Friday, September 18, 2009

What a week!

After nearly two full weeks of yuck, it seems the antibiotics are finally paying off! I am feeling much better, and I think this year's big sick is almost behind me. Good thing, too, since Ellie started coughing hard during the night last night (kept her/us up for 3 hours); she's working on her next cold. Rumor has it that winter will eventually stop, and the idea is all the colds and whatnot will go with it. Most of the time, I am content with whatever weather we've got (unless it's strong, cold, nasty wind), but I will be so happy to see the sun again. We've gotten so spoiled in the past year with sunshine that all these days of dampness, greyness, and wind are getting us down. It's been too long since we've had two days of sunshine to rub together, but I'll be ready for it when it comes!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Diagnosis: sinusitis

I felt so absolutely rotten today that I dragged myself into the doctor's office, expecting the routine "you have a cold/virus/something icky" and "that will be $65, please." This time, we got a bit further than that, with an experience that would actually pass for an exam and a diagnosis of "acute sinusitis", accompanied by a prescription for 10 days' worth of antibiotics. Fun, fun, fun! But the good news is I shouldn't be contagious. I'll take my silver linings where I find them.
It sure is hard to manage wee ones while experiencing fever, congestion and general misery.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Secret to a Happy Marriage

In my first draft of this post, I wrote "I'm not going to pretend I have the answer (though I think Markus and I are doing pretty darn good)" before carrying on with the next paragraph, but that's pretty lame. If you are interested in my brief take, carry on; if not, skip on down to the last paragraph. In keeping with the style of the posts that inspired this one, I'll upload a photo of Markus and me soon. I searched through and realized today that I don't have any of us just as a couple since we were just a couple (pre-kidlets).
The truth is that I don't know the secret, but I believe it's critical to start with a strong foundation. Although we've only been married for five years, we've been a couple for nine and friends for thirteen. In our lifestyle (living internationally and moving frequently), often your spouse is the only person you have, so you'd better have the right one. Markus and I have experienced in the five years of our marriage many things that some couples don't experience in 20, but we're still together and don't want to be any other way. I think it's because we value and respect each other, and we don't take each other for granted (guaranteed relationship poison). I say "thank you" when he takes out the trash even though he does it every time; he always tells me our meals are delicious, even when I make him scrambled eggs.
Before I got married, my hilarious friend Meg told me to remember that marriage is a choice you make every day...but she didn't stop there. She said,
"You choose to be married every day. To love him anyway, every day. Like when I get up in the night to pee and my a** splashes in the toilet because he forgot to put the seat down AGAIN and I think that's IT, I'm going to KILL him, it's OVER...and then I remember our children and how sad it would be for them to grow up without a father because of a toilet seat, and I choose not to kill him, to love him anyway, to be married every day..."
This story is a lot funnier if you know that Meg looks like the most lovable elementary school teacher on the planet (which she is); she also used to pinch my behind on the way out of staff meetings. That's Meg.

I wanted to share with you a series of blog posts I found here. The woman who writes this blog is away on her honeymoon, and she asked her friends and fellow bloggers to share their advice for a happy relationship. One of them also linked this powerful essay from the New York Times. I enjoyed reading all the posts and looking at the sweet photos, and I hope you will too.

Flavours of Chittering

Today, we drove out into the hills to attend the Flavours of Chittering Food and Wine Event in the Chittering Valley. Getting anywhere out of Perth seems to take forever, so it was a bit of a haul...but worth it. The dark clouds over Perth dissipated as we drove away, and the warm early spring sunshine revealed some beautiful views of the green hills and the early season wildflowers.

The event centered around a food market that opened at 10am, and we knew it would be best to be there as early as possible. Thanks to the early risers in our house, that was no problem. We got there as things were slowly gearing up. There weren't many stalls, but what was there was lovely.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to make much of it. My cold has given way to a nasty sinus infection. In addition to serious pressure in my facial bones (I feel like I've been punched in my left eye), I cannot really taste or smell anything. I did enjoy looking, though, and I bought quite a bit from the organic, biodynamic produce guy who makes the trek each week to the Mt. Claremont Farmer's Market. His produce has amazing flavor, and his garlic is huge and so delicious that you could practically eat it as a side dish. There were also some people from alpaca farms there, and we had some good talks about alpaca fleece, felting, knitting and dyeing. They had brought some of their alpacas with them, and they made the cutest little noises. I now want some alpacas of my own. Someday. What was interesting about the yarn they had available was it was labelled by name of the alpaca, and each yarn felt different. Funny if you consider that most yarn you buy from a shop is a total mix-mash of different sources, whereas with a small farmer you really know what you get and what you like. I liked Aimee's fleece best.

We stayed quite a while since we were fortunate as to run into one of Ellie's favorite friends from school. They had fun playing on the playground, eating gingerbread cookies from a local bakery, and watching the animals. Before too long, though, we were done and headed off to Stringybark Winery further down the road for lunch. It was a good call, and again timing was on our side. Although it was almost completely empty when we arrived, all but three tables outside had been booked in advance, so we were fortunate enough to snag a table and get our food before the crowds from the festival arrived.

Although Markus and I each had a glass with lunch, I can't tell you if the wines were good since both of us are stuffed up and taste-impaired. Stephanie really liked the ice cream with chocolate sauce we ordered for dessert.

Despite the fact that I felt horrid, it really was nice to get out of the city to do and see something a little different. The girls were beautifully behaved at the market and the winery, and the scenery of the hills in the early springtime was peaceful and relaxing.

We'll be going again next year.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Because I'm crazy, that's why

This cold Markus and I have had has been a doozy. It has knocked us both on our behinds, which isn't such a good thing when there are two busy wee ones feeling super-fine and necessitating constant energy consumption. At this point, neither Markus nor I have much in the way of symptoms (no more coughing, sneezing, sniffling, thank goodness!), except for the fact that we could both happily flop onto the couch and nap for hours at the drop of a hat. Despite this, I'm going ahead with Ellie's cake sharing playdate with more kids than matches my good judgment...and I cannot cancel. I could, but I just can't. Markus and I both felt so lousy on her actual birthday that the least I can do is let her play and sugar-rush with her friends this afternoon. It's a Friday. The week is nearly over. Surely, it will all work out, right? Let us only hope the weather cooperates to some degree and does not dump rain on us. Lots of littles sugar-rushing in the backyard, in the cubby house and on the trampoline is no problem; move that inside and oooo....I'm trying not to think about it.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Le Christening of Le Creuset

There were two big ticket typical wedding gifts that I hoped to receive but alas did not: 1) the coveted KitchenAid mixer and 2) Le Creuset's gorgeous enameled cast iron Dutch oven. I now own the latter. As part of a promotion for Julie&Julia, there was a rare sale on these beauties, and I seized upon the excuse to make one my own. Mine is a lovely blue, and its first masterwork will be cashew and carrot stew from one of my favorite cookbooks. I will turn around this grey, yucky day with some hearty vegetarian yumminess made in my lovely new cookware. Hooray!

In like a lion...

It's transitional time for the seasons. Down Under, that means winter is shifting over into spring. As a Northern Hemisphere person, I find myself relatively untroubled by the spring-in-September thing. It's confusing, but I chose to ignore it. September has always meant fall, back to school, cooler nights...and here, that's just not so. I guess it's not bothering me because (if I disregard the calendar), it's all part of the normal flow. Ellie has been in school for several months now, starting with the end of summer/fall transition (ignore the fact that this happened in February). It got cooler, then colder, and now it's slowly becoming spring. We've seen several honeybees flitting about, and the tree over the cubby house has turned the neon green of new leaves.

A lot of our local friends are complaining about the winter this year. It's been pretty wet and often wild, though I'm not bothered by that either. I don't mind cold weather and I don't mind rain as long as the sun comes out to recharge my personal solar panels. What I do mind is wind. Today is yet another day of ghastly, beastly wind blowing in hard off the ocean, and I hate it! It fills our ears, buffets our bodies and gives me a headache (and puts me in a foul mood too, apparently). The school run is misery in such strong wind. I'm still sulking from drop-off this morning, and I'm starting to whimper about pick-up in a few hours' time. When I get tired of rain, I can console myself that it's good since we live in a drought-prone area. Good for the farmers, good for the plants, good for the water table. But this wind and I do not get along. So, I turn back to the calendar and spin the dial by 6 months to put it in terms I understand. September Down Under is the Northern equivalent of March, and the saying goes "March roars in like a lion but goes out like a lamb." I've got the lion now and there's no love lost...but I sure am looking forward to that lamb.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The big bellyflop

Let me illustrate this cold in my head with a metaphor.
This morning, I am strolling casually along the length of a diving board, smiling. I reach the end and start to bounce, gently at first and then a couple of really good jumps up high in the air before launching off...into a painful bellyflop. Yow.

Last night after the girls went to bed, my cold felt so bad I was afraid it was actually flu. I was awful and collapsed weakly into bed before 9pm. This morning, I was relieved to find that it was still just a cold. My head was full of fuzz, but I felt mostly okay. I carried on with my day and even enjoyed a walk with a friend after school drop-off (that was the length of the diving board). By the time I got home, I knew I had reached the jumping off point. I played with Stephanie, tidied, and updated the blog from the weekend (bouncing)...before the big leap off into the big bellyflop of ick.
Thank goodness Markus could come home early. He took the girls out to play, and I passed out in bed.
My gorgeous redhead girlfriend made us dinner. It is a sign of how ick I feel that I accepted her offer gratefully.
Now I'm sitting here in a fuzzy post-hard-nap state, feeling thankful for support where it can be found when it is most needed.
Right now, my greatest need is for more tissues.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Happy Birthday, Ellie!

Today, our big girl turned 4!
I have been asking her for weeks what she'd like to do for her birthday, and her answer has consistently focused on cake and balloons. She wants cake and balloons, and maybe a few friends to share it with. She didn't want a party. She didn't want games. She didn't want any particular presents. She wants cake and balloons. We love her less-is-more thinking.

Of course, as the day drew nearer, I started to wonder if more would be more. Was I planning enough? Should I have invited more friends? It turns out my worrying was moot. Markus had arranged for the day off today, but he would have been home sick regardless; this morning, his weekend cold was even worse, and now I've got it too. Any party we might have had would have been cancelled. It was a bummer. I still did the cake and lots of balloons while Ellie was at school, and...WE HAVE ONE HAPPY BIRTHDAY GIRL HERE!

I need to trust her choices. Less really is more. Of course, less can actually be more if you gather all the balloons Mama carefully tied in various spots and relocate them all to your chair.

Ellie had so much fun decorating Lolo's cake (Lolo always shares Ellie's birthday). The only regret she's expressed is wishing she could share cake with some friends, so we're going to have a cake-sharing party on Friday with a few playmates. I wish we could invite everyone she likes, but that would be way too many kiddies hyped up on sugar for this mama to handle. We can always do it in waves if need be. I like cake anytime.

The circumstances surrounding Ellie's birth were so epic. Her birthday has made us look back and marvel at all that has passed in these four years of her life. She has been through so much, and she's unlikely to remember much of it. In many ways, that's a good thing. There's just been too much! But we are also thankful for all the good we've experienced in these past four years, a lot of it due to the blessing of her. We love you, Ellie! Happy Birthday, sweet girl!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

No respect

The girls were playing with party balloons from a friend's birthday yesterday, and I jumped on the opportunity for a science lesson on the principles and applications of static cling.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Wanna go pee-pee!

In the past week, baby Stephanie has become fascinated with going potty. She wants to do everything we do (especially what Ellie does), and now she wants to use the potty too. She tells me "wanna go pee-pee", takes me by the hand, and leads me to the toilet, where she maneuvers the kiddie ladder/seat into position and tries to climb up. I've been amazed. She loves to go potty! The thing is, she is terrified of sitting there bare-bummed. The first few times, I de-pants-ed her and plopped her down, and she screamed and writhed like you would not believe. Leave the pants on, and we're in business. Okay, whatever makes her happy. She really does like sitting there. She knows toilet paper is involved, so she always requests some, which she then uses to polish the right handle of the ladder/seat before shredding it into satisfying little pieces to scatter on the floor.

Today, she didn't want to nap. I listened to her in her room, having a talk with herself and a bit of a shout at me, for a while before going to set her free. As soon as I opened the door, she smiled widely and announced, "Wanna go pee-pee and have kay-kay!" Kay-kay is baby Stephanie speak for "cupcake". She's a girl who knows what she likes.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Oh my yum, hot buttered rum

Markus caught Ellie's cold, so last night I offered to make him a hot toddy...only we don't have any whiskey or brandy in the house. The only liquor we have is rum, so I made hot buttered rum instead. This was such a popular drink in New Orleans in the "winter" (doesn't really get cold there for long), but I somehow never tried it. How unfortunate for me! It is soooooo good and must be shared with you. I can't tell you if it helps with colds since it lacks the toddy's lemon and honey, but it's so yummy that really, who cares?

Hot Buttered Rum

1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch ground cloves
1-3 oz. dark rum (recipe was for 3oz, but we are light-weights)
boiling hot water

Cream together butter, sugar and spices. Place in refrigerator and allow to resolidify. This step is important, because otherwise they will separate when you add the hot water.
Once the butter/sugar mixture is solid, scoop 2 Tablespoons if it into each mug. Pour rum over, then fill the mug with boiling hot water. Stir well, and enjoy enjoy enjoy!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

First sewing project

Every Tuesday is library day in Ellie's class. Despite our girl's love of books, she has never come home with library books, and I couldn't understand why. Recently, her teacher held a class meeting for the parents, where she talked about upcoming events and reminders on certain school protocol issues. One of those reminders was to please be sure to send the child to school with a library bag on Tuesdays. Library bag? What's a library bag? I had never heard of this before. I asked around, and everyone looked at me like I was joking...until they remembered that I'm not from 'round here. In Australia, every child has a library bag. It is so culturally ingrained that no one thought to mention it. It's not in the school list of requirements, even though something equally obvious like "lunchbox" is. Library bags are relatively cheap. They look like slightly undersized pillow cases with drawstring tops. I suppose the idea is to give library books a protective sleeve and a special place. The day after the class meeting, one of the moms brought her son's library bag to me, saying she was sure I wouldn't want to buy one so I could take hers home to measure it and make my own. Darn tootin'! She knows me! First sewing project: library bag!

I already had a collection of small cuts of cute fabrics that I started two years ago, when the sewing bug first struck. I just hadn't had the sewing machine until now. For Ellie, I chose the fabric with pink flowers and ladybugs (of course!). Then, I carried on and made a second library bag for her friend who is having a birthday party this weekend. Ellie wanted to give her a book, so this made the perfect homemade wrapping and a unique, personal gift. I know they are just simple drawstring bags, but I am sooooo happy with how they came out. No pattern, no practice, but no mistakes! Hooray!

Sunday Chutney

(image from
We have two expat girls in our home. That means they live in countries that are not the home countries of their parents, and in their case, their parents have two different home countries (or three, since Markus really has two of his own). I grew up living in different places all the time, but at least the country was always the same. Ellie has already lived in four countries, and she hasn't quite made it to her 4th birthday. Stephanie has lived in two. When we heard Sunday Chutney performed during the Babies Proms in Sydney, we knew it was a must for our collection. I had to special order mine since they don't keep books on shelves for more than a few months here, and it just came in today. This book is Mama's for now, but it will be shared and loved by all when the girls are older. If you have an expat girl in your house or know one who might like to feel a little more understood, she must have a copy of Sunday Chutney. Today.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Sew, Mama, Sew!

Last Friday, I bought my first sewing machine! Of course, the excitement of that was quickly buried under news of fungus, so I only just opened the box this morning. It's ridiculous how thrilled, crafty and capable I feel just trimming fabric for my first projects (on the other hand, it'd be a shame if new things didn't feel thrilling, right?).

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Two sleeping angels

Ellie has had another bad cough for several days now (started over the weekend). Unlike most colds, this one has left her a remarkably happy camper. There has been a conspicuous lack of fussing, whining and complaining...basically, all of the behaviors we all feel like exhibiting when we don't feel good. Yet there is that awful cough when she lays down. It has been really bad at night and noticeable in the mornings, though during the day she's been quite okay so we carried on as usual. Yesterday when I picked her up from school, she sagged sleepily against my leg, so although she was smiling, I felt her little forehead for a fever and bingo! This morning, she wandered into the kitchen sleepily but again with a smile, happy to entertain herself peacefully with coloring and books. As the morning went on, I realized I had no interest in packing her lunch or asking her to get dressed. When she asked an hour later if she had to go to school today, the most obvious answer was no. The weather has turned grey, windy and cold again, and it seemed a perfect day to snuggle in at home. We had a really pleasant morning. The girls were so sweet to me and to each other, and the time just flew as we took care of a few errands before lunch. When we returned home, baby Stephanie went down for a nap and Ellie asked for movie time. I peeked in on her close to the end of her movie and found this

which prompted me to capture a picture of this

Did you notice the missing sock and bootie? I always lament the lack of time to get things done, and now that they are both sleeping, I just want to be still and soak up the peace so as not to wake them. My two sleeping angels. I am so blessed.

Day maker

Baby Stephanie's vocabulary is exploding, and she says new words every single day. It has been astounding and thrilling to witness. This morning, she slept in and I heard her chirping to herself some time after 8am. I wandered back to her room, pushed open the door and was greeted with a smiley "Good morning!" from the happiest 18 month old around. The first words from her mouth today were new ones, and they made my day!

Fungus (no longer) amongus

Today, our on-the-ball real estate agent sent two teams of dudes to our house. The first duo were professional damp guys. They took one look at the layout of the extension and did their best not to giggle into their clipboards. Let's just say they were only surprised this hadn't happened before now. The short version of their lengthy analysis is they think the whole extension is doomed for the long term (huge jacaranda tree roots run beneath it), though just the study is a goner for now. The second duo came to rip out the carpet and the built-in bench along the wall. They noticed immediately that the concrete floor beneath was totally soaked. When they finished, it was their turn to laugh.

The built-in bench was done to cover old cement stairs that must have led to the backdoor before the extension was built. That would mean the floor of the study is an old patio and thus would be an unsealed concrete slab. Um...yeah. We could tell before we moved in that the extension was put on for bottom dollar, but this is just sad. Consider the housing market here. If this house went up for sale, they would ask over AU$3 million. With a slip-shod extension built onto an old unsealed patio.

This whole thing is leaving me remarkably cheerful. After Katrina had her way with my dad's house in Ocean Springs, the #$$%^ contractor had his way with us, drawing out the renovations and repairs for two tortuous years and doing only half the quality job I needed because I wasn't there to supervise him. In the meantime, lost money, lost time, lost opportunities to make things was an ordeal. When I discovered the mushrooms here on Friday, I started having Katrina flashbacks and tensed up big-style. However, now that the carpet and the mushrooms are gone, I find myself completely relaxed, and I'm just thankful that the bill won't be mine this time.