Thursday, 23 December 2010

But no thanks

I brought Berry the remains of her hot chocolate and asked, "Do you want your marshmallows before I throw this away?" And she said, "No, you can eat them if you want." 
Temptation by slightly-preloved marshmallow is not in my repertoire, but I appreciate the thought....
. . .

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Vanilla Twilight?

. . .

I'm so glad I listened to Owl City's Ocean Eyes over and over and over when Man-show was a baby.

Even two years later I can put him on my shoulder, hit play, and watch it kick in like a very, very magic sleeping pill.

. . .

Friday, 17 December 2010

All I want for Christmas...

Yesterday a giant, mysterious, red-papered box appeared on our doorstep, and the kids got their Number One Christmas Wish early.

After nearly seven months away, Nathan came home from Afghanistan – arriving just in time for the Little Jesus Festival (Berry's preschool Christmas pageant).

Berry played the part of an angel, and she was beyond elated that her Daddy was there to see her.

So whatever Nativity angel was known for waving, leaping up and down, giving thumbs-up, miming hugs and blowing kisses – Berry was that angel.

She was a bit distracting, but I think the Baby Jesus understood.

. . .

Monday, 6 December 2010

Factory second

Berry finished a Toy Story 3 colouring page and I told her, somewhat absently, that she'd done a good job.

"Yeah," she said, "but I kind of phoned it in on that one."

. . .

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Saturday, 4 December 2010

I'm here. And sheepish.

Does it help that I feel guilty for not posting? That I've felt guilty for the entire month of November? That I did manage to post over on the Sweet Olive Press blog and that I was busy busy busy with printing and the odd bit of child-raising? (Odd truly being the operative word...)


How about some Halloween pictures...

Man-show kept shouting, "I'm scary Buzz Lightyear!"

Buzz Lightyear isn't scary, of course, but it really annoyed Berry – and isn't that the #1 motivation for any little brother to persist with something?

Buzz and Ariel worked out how to get lots of prizes at the preschool Fall Festival...

...and neither of them kept their costumes kosher for more than ten minutes.  Buzz wrenched off his hat (hood? hat?) and his hero gloves, and Ariel ditched her tiara, which was all the more annoying because it was special and sold separately.  When I found "I paid good money for that" on the tip of my tongue, I knew it was time to take a deep, deep breath and try not to turn into my parents.

No offense, parents.

. . .

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Pumpkins. Everywhere.

This year we went to two pumpkin patches.

We went with Berry's preschool group to the pumpkin patch at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, same as last year.  And this year we also went over to the one at First Presbyterian in New Orleans... it's on Claiborne and not especially fancy, but it has a special place in my heart.

In October 2001, three months after I left Australia, I got a birthday letter from my mum along with a picture that I had drawn for her when I was five.  I was struck with such homesickness that I had a bit of a falling-apart right there in the attic bedroom. Wanting to cheer me up, Nathan took me out to the First Presbyterian pumpkin patch. I'd never been to a pumpkin patch before – so it worked, and I still love it.

The kids did not love what is inside a pumpkin. The picture above shows the first and only time Berry dipped the spoon in.  Man-show's expression could conservatively be called pained.

They were, however, pleased with the end result. The jack-o-lantern above was our first... he looked slightly tired by the day before Halloween, so I carved another (below) to look more sprightly on the day.

The kids loved them both.

Friday, 29 October 2010


Man-show sniffs the air: "I smell a carnivore."

He would have been so handy in the Mesozoic Era...

. . .

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Private talk

"Mommy," Berry says, "Today I had a long little private talk to David."

"What did you talk to him about?"

"About him being mean to me.  I said how would he feel if I was being mean to him. How would that feel."

. . . . . .

Unfortunately, I think David might've had a crush on Berry.  His "mean" behaviour consists of pretending to be a wolf and chasing her around the playground, and using a crazy voice whenever they talk. 

I guess Miss Assertive just torpedoed the crush...

Sunday, 10 October 2010

I hate this plane and ALSO!

I just picked up my iPhone to text Dawn and instead I stumbled on this hastily-entered list of appalling things my frustrated two-year-old said on our four flights back from Australia, now three weeks ago.  Oh, I had completely forgotten!



"Hey everyone!  BOOTY!"

"You stupid, raisin!"

"You stupid, mommy!"

"Can I get out the plane?  Can I get out the plane?  Can I get out the plane RIGHT NOW?"

(Mou-mou is Mickey Mouse.)

(Mommy is both amused and aghast...)

(Disclaimer: "Stupid" was his first attempted Shock Word; not approved in our house.) 

. . .

Thursday, 30 September 2010

In which I find success

Tonight I found Man-show climbing dangerously on the dining room table. I caught myself and instead of getting mad, I asked him whether he was bored and if he'd like to show me his truck book.

So we sat together on the couch for twenty minutes perusing, in great detail, First 100 Machines.  When we finished he said, "The end! Thank you mama!"

For a little, precious while, I am free of mother-guilt.

. . .


Man-show's new strategy for avoiding sleep: at high speed, he jumps off the bed, shouts, "I be right back!" and vanishes down the darkened hall on his new kick-scooter.

. . .

Monday, 27 September 2010

Far away

Nathan's been in Afghanistan for more than three months now (much as I try not to keep track).

This is one of the pictures Berry drew while we were in Brisbane.  She imagined herself, little man and her Daddy standing together next to our house.

She had a bit of a cry that day.

"I'm just homesick," she said.  "Also I'm Daddysick."

. . .

Sunday, 26 September 2010

While I wasn't sleeping

I owe this blog a lot of posts, but wow does it take a long time to unpack two months' worth of luggage for three people, and to sort out two months of mail and a kids'-birthday-mountain of presents... and don't even get me started on the jet lag.

I did, however, find a few minutes to order in two of the three foods the kids loved best in Australia – Milo and SAOs. Ten packets of SAOs, actually, probably because I was ordering at 1am.

Weetbix will have to wait for another day.  And so will the blog posts.

. . .

Monday, 13 September 2010

Not enough

Oh Sydney, stop having so many things to do.

I can't get to them all, and it frustrates me, and makes me think up wild schemes like staying for a month, or immigrating.

Once again we barely scratched the surface.  Wave-chasing and sandcastles; fish-n-chips at Manly Wharf, which turned out to be enough seafood to feed a footy team; a sunshiney ferry trip and the Opera House in all its glory...

...and Taronga Park Zoo.  We didn't even get to the zebras and tigers, an oversight Berry is unlikely to forgive or forget.

We did see the snakes though, appropriately under the tank stand...

...and the seals and the penguins, the wombat (just one, and ornery at that)


... and the monkeys and the pelicans...

...two angry emus, some wallabies, one koala, three giraffes and many kangaroos (lazy, don't let anyone tell you otherwise)...

...the peacocks and the elephants were a major hit.  Later I asked Berry her favourite part of the zoo.

"The ice cream!" she said.

Feeling crestfallen that I could've just taken her down the street for a Paddlepop with the same effect, I asked more pointedly: "What was your favourite animal at the zoo?"

"Oh!" she said. "The koawallabies!"

(That, my friends, is how new species come to be.)

There are no pictures of my blissful spa time at the famous Missy's Place, the fantastic dinners we did have, nor the shops and restaurants I wanted try but didn't quite get to...

...but we'll be back.  Don't make me resort to wild schemes.

. . .

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Does not play well with others (sometimes)

Little bear has Man-show's toys.

Oh wait.  Nope.

[Scrabble scrabble scrabble grab.]

Little bear had Man-show's toys.


. . .

Friday, 10 September 2010

Bad Blogger: Chaos Edition


Usually when you have a blog, and you go to the other side of the world on holiday, you write a little something every day to share the wonders and adventures of the place you're in.

I prefer to become paralysed by imagined pressure, failing to write anything at all until a good 30 days in; then I try, unwisely, to unload it all at once.

Here, I've made the unloading even more random by uploading my pictures in no particular order and being unable to shuffle them. I'm going to just write stuff underneath them, and hope you stick with me. 

Good luck to us all. Let's begin.


First of all, I love being home so very much.  Australia is such a novelty – which is sad in one way because it must mean I don't fully belong anymore, but happy because everything old is new again.  The shine of it! Kookaburras laughing when I wake up early. Magpies singing as I walk to the gym.  Lemon gum and eucalyptus on the air, Weetbix for breakfast and Australian news on the TV.  Did I mention the amazing coffee??  Yes, yes I did.

My "Australia radar" malfunctioned at first, going into overdrive.  See, back home (which home? America-home) I have a constant scan going on for all sightings and mentions of Australia and Australian things. I didn't realise this until I got here and my brain kept shouting, "Hey! Hey! An Australian accent!  Hey! They just talked about Brisbane on the news!  Hey! That's Powderfinger on the radio! Hey! An Australian flag!  Hey!  A koala sign!  Cuuuute!"  I've become accustomed to it after six weeks, so that I don't spin out anytime someone mentions Melbourne or Milo, but the fun endures.

You know what else is new again?  My friends.  I have connected and reconnected with dear friends, and I just love them so much I want to take them home with me.  It's unreasonable that I can't just drag Australia and America up alongside each other. Why does continental drift take so long, and go in the wrong directions?

Here above: Kristy and Gerrod. I'd actually never met them before this day at Brother Espresso, but they shared a flat with my brother and sister-in-law in London so we were meant-to-be lifelong friends. I'm pretty sure Gerrod knows when my grandparents' anniversary is and how to spell my sister's middle name and stuff like that, so – we're tight. Also, they're funny (the picture at the top of this post? that's me losing my composure next to Gerrod for at least the fourth time).

Here's Kirsty (above), my best friend from Grade 8. I went a whole 19 years without seeing her until we discovered each other on Facebook last year (kudos, Facebook!)  We've been scrambling to make up for lost time ever since, and it's a joy. 

Kirsty's little boy was born the same week as Man-show, so our kids get on like a house on fire. Without the kids, we went to an extra-special-fancy girls' night out with Jodi, who made our trio in Grade 9.  Neither of us had seen her in fully 20 years, and six hours out together barely scratched the surface.

That's Jodi's death-by-chocolate... I blame the borrowed camera for being bad at close range – not me. It's never me.

I have been going to some great restaurants here, that reminds me.  And did I tell you?  I went to the incredible Valentino Retrospective at the Gallery of Modern Art.  It was an amazing exhibit; seeing those iconic gowns together in one space was inspiring. Berry and Mika were keen to find the most-princessy dresses – there was a heated debate over which of them would "get to wear" the pink caped evening ensemble from Winter 1990/91...

Photography was super-strictly forbidden inside the gallery, so you'll have to take my word for all that. But here are the girls standing by the V.

And with that, I've worn myself out.

More randomness soon, featuring animals, the Opera House, midnight at McDonald's, fairy bread, and how awesome it is to see my family.

. . .

Wednesday, 8 September 2010


If you look really, really hard, you can see the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge through the plane window.

I took the kids down for five festive days and (when I don't need a Panadol and a sleep so desperately) I'll show you some more pictures.  And words, since people seem to like blogs to have words... 

. . .

Wednesday, 25 August 2010


Dad lifted Man-show up on to the giant antique McCormick-Deering that lives up the back paddock.

Man-show grasped the steering wheel with both hands. 

"Okay!" he said, "Now push."

. . .

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

I'm not obsessed

Gallery of Modern Art : South Brisbane
After swearing all my life that I never would, I started drinking coffee a couple of months after Man-show was born.

I thought it was simply a way to stay upright.  In Australia – where coffee really is coffee – I've realised it's soooooo much more....

Brother Espresso, downtown Brisbane
Merlo espresso beans : vintage Bushells jar : my parents' place
Noop : Gumdale
Three Monkeys : West End

Monday, 9 August 2010

Don't try this at home

We survived.  More than 8660 miles, I survived wrangling two kids in a plane – well, three planes – by myself.

Aside from three low points, the trip to Australia was about as decent as I could have asked for.

Low point #1: trying to get a place on the very necessary shuttle from the domestic terminal of LAX to the international terminal of LAX at 9.30pm, shuffling along a narrow traffic island besieged by blaring traffic with the stroller, the carry-on luggage, a weeping Berry and fifty other passengers. And the shuttle swept past the stop without so much as a pause.

Low point #2: on the flight to Auckland, two of our three in-flight entertainment units malfunctioned. Sadly the entertainment unit is essential for entertaining a toddler on a 14-hour flight, but the crew did try... they got it fixed after about eight hours. Man-show slept well which was a real bonus. Berry, not so much.

Low point #3 (the worst): the trip from Auckland to Brisbane. Man-show was really, really over the flying. He didn't shout or cry, but he was bored out of his head and started asking "Are we there yet? Can I get out?" on continuous loop starting about 15 minutes into the trip. He couldn't understand why he wasn't allowed to kick the seat in front of him.  Wasn't it put there specifically for kicking?  I basically had to lie on his legs. Uhhhh.

But we're here, we're done, and we don't have to do it again... until late September.  Heaven help us.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

All mine

In my daydreams, these dresses belong with me.

In reality, between the oil and ink of my studio and the chaos of my kid-raising life, they belong nowhere near me.

But one day – one day – I will meander along cobbled European streets in a dress just like the one on the right. Mark my words.

. . .