The Sydney seige

I am way overdue on a a lot of posts. Clearly, the new job has been taking up a lot of time.

Yesterday, at 10am, I went into an hour long meeting, and my phone started going a bit nuts with messages. Mostly from my husband. I tried not to look. They were a bit vague, didn’t seem like anything crazy urgent.

We came out of the meeting to an office full of stunned mullets. Tv going, people talking in small clusters, scrolling through news sites. Isis. Sydney. I rang hub in boots.

What?

Isis. Sydney. Hostages.

What?

In the next half hour, the tv channels spoke of suspicious packages and shut downs of george st, the opera house, or a possible ring of sites around the city.

What?

I tried to sit down and work. I messaged mum to say I was safe. We aren’t close close to the lindt cafe. We are six blocks away. But I just kept thinking “the people on 9/11 thought they wouldn’t be affected. And they were.”

I posted on Facebook to test the waters. Friends, family urged me to leave. Then the comments started, almost following a geographic line through the city, as one by one those in the city went into lockdown. They couldn’t leave. I asked my bosses boss what the plan was. I passed on about all the lockdowns. Nothing happened.

At 12:10, the boss said to me you have to leave now or you won’t be able to. I called it and left, fully prepared to walk home. When the ferry was running, I took the risk and caught it home.

The ferry was full of people. Jam packed. At that stage, most other public transport had stopped. So a lot of people took their entire staff and headed for the ferry. People were sharing information as they got it. I spoke to a couple who didn’t know what was going on, having just got off a cruise ship before catching a train home to Melbourne that night.

The city had an eerie vibe. It was too quiet.

I didn’t care what the issue was, or how extensive it was, I didn’t want to be in the city to find out. I wanted my mum and sister not to worry. I wanted to see my husband. I wanted to hold jman.

I worked at home with one eye on the news all afternoon, conscious that we wouldn’t have it on when jman was around. We watched it a little bit in the evening.

I saw in horror as the twitter feeds, Facebook posts, and comments on news stories turned racist and dark. Those with closet agendas just waiting for a chance to air their narrow mindedness, to bang on the drum of their ill conceived rhythm of turn back the boats.

I saw it turn again as the #illridewithyou hash tag went viral, with people showing solidarity with Muslims trying to peacefully travel public transport, pointing to a bigger theme and an understanding we are not in the days of the Cronulla riots: that that shit is never ok.

I checked and checked that friends, loved ones, were ok.

I was saddened, surprised, deeply regretful to wake to news of deaths of hostages. A barrister, wife &mother of three. Another young and selfless man died; the cafe manager (who it turns out went to school with a work colleague’s kids).

I’ve had a few moments like this lately. Where all the shit we are mired in day to day, the Christmas lists, the dumb niggles with people, the worries, they all turn to ghosts, to something less than shadows when a big bright light is shined on them. The big bright light of “life is short and people are precious”. The one that turns drab days into high colour relief with a mere flick of the mindset. When the “I’m bored” becomes “I’m alive”. Or the “you annoy me” becomes “you complete me”. These moments in life have a significance, a gravitas, that outweighs their discomfort.

Today was a sombre day in Sydney. Two people did not make it out yesterday. Fifteen others are changed forever. The racists have mostly been hushed, sticking their small minds back into small boxes. And all day, I couldn’t wait to get home. To hang out. To just be.

Sydney might have just lost her innocence in the last twenty four hours. But I hope the post seige Sydney will continue to rise out of these ashes, and a new wave of tolerance, of compassion, of open arms for other cultures will rise and rise and rise and flood everything else, carrying the racism far far away.

Tonight my hub in boots was feeling crook. He laid down early. And I fed and bathed and washed up solo, without a hint of hurrumph. I recorded my sons silly going to bed conversation that went on forever. Later, I’ll share it.

Now I think I’ll pop into the bedroom for a while, and watch my hub in boots sleep.

Sleep safe x

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Waiter!

I am in that horrible in between land where I haven’t finished one job, and the new job start date is two short weeks away. Mountains of packing, organising, and tying up loose ends are rearing into my peripheral vision. A lot lot lot of little adjustments to a “normal week” have to happen in the next two weeks so that we can vaguely hit the ground running, make daycare drop offs and picks ups, feed everyone, wear acceptable clothing and no snot trails to new office….you get the picture. I feel like I am being buried alive.

So far I have:
* been in to a marking day in my new offices, to see how the exam process runs and how well the exam is working etc
* formally resigned
* stupidly agreed to “teach out” one subject, so I’ll be doing two jobs for three – four weeks ( sigh, six weeks, seven weeks)
* interviewed a mummy nanny for our extra day of care
* tossed up as family daycare also decided to open on Fridays
* hired our mummy nanny and had a half day trial today
* got relatively on top of two technical areas connected to my new job, making me feel slightly less terrified
*stressed about the new job ( more formal hours, more formal supervision, no comfort zone of an old job I can do well where people already trust me to do my job well without presenteeism or explanation). Then stressed some more.

The main deciding factor on the mummy nanny for Fridays is twofold: 1. No lunch packing bag packing pyjama wrangling cereal shovelling drop offs or pick ups 2. A more relaxed and active friday for jman, hopefully lessening the impact of an extra day “in care”

But aside from pretty much abject terror about making it through the next two weeks and the what the hell have I done feeling about the new role and leaving my current one, there are two things killing me right now. No, make that three.

1. Freakin waiting.

I am SOOOOOOOO sick of waiting. I am normally incredibly patient with jman. But he is pushing my buttons. I am so sick of waiting. Waiting for him to be ready to walk out. Waiting for him to stop running around and agree to get in the car. Waiting for him to leave day care. Waiting for him to get in the car after daycare. Waiting for him to get out of the car at home. Waiting for him to come inside at home. It. Drives. Me. Mental.

The other day, I arrived at daycare at 4:20. At 5:40, I was able to start getting dinner. And daycare is ten freakin minutes away from home. We lose hours to his little button pushing pain on the assness.

It is making me really. Freakin. Angry.

I don’t want to get in the bath. I don’t want to get out of the bath. I don’t want to get dressed. I don’t want to get undressed.

2. Sleep.

Bloody bloody sleep. Once he’s asleep, we’re fine. He sleeps. But getting him to sleep. it is ridiculous. An hour is a good night. 90 minutes is pretty normal. And even though it’s light in the mornings at present and every other parent is dying for daylight savings to start, I can barely get him out of bed after all the stupidly late nights. I am so exhausted of an evening I just cannot make it through. I cannot maintain the momentum to keep pushing to get to bed at a reasonable hour.

3. The house.

The bloody house. Everything seems so disorganised and cluttered, and if am vulnerable to it because my head is already full. I need it to be more organised.

And we might be losing our lease, because the owner is thinking of selling.

We are in stupid limbo.

I do not need limbo right now.

I need an area of life that is concrete. Solid. Predictable.

And I’m not getting it.

Yesterday, hub-in-boots had a day off so I could have an extra day in the office to attend graduation and continue the great office pack of 2014. I woke up, showered, got dressed, ate breakfast, and left for work.

It made me realise what I need to feel less exhausted and overwhelmed.

A penis.

Yes, ladies, a penis. See, when you have a penis, you don’t have to dress a small person, feed them breakfast, dress and feed yourself, wrangle them into and out of a car. No no no. You do this crazy thing where you only get yourself ready. then you drive to work, directly to work. I know, I know, it sounds silly. But it’s true. Some people leave home and go to one other place, called work, then they go back home again. The end.

So instead of arriving at work feeling like you’ve already done 10 hours, you arrive fresh and ready to go.

Also, when you have a penis, you don’t worry about minor things like “where things belong “, or weird concepts like ” clean” or ” clutter”. You also do not have anxiety about ” being good enough to do the new challenging job”, because penises constantly tell their owners “everything will be fine”.

So for my birthday in 11 days, I’d like a penis. They seem really useful.

The Penski File

So.
After my “why don’t you apply for a promotion” post here, and all the mum barriers I discussed in this post, the universe opened a can of whoop ass.

I was headhunted.

Not by a hidden tribe of new Guinean tribesmen, no no. But worse. A recruitment consultant.

Anyhoo, he found me on Linked in.

He messaged me.

I may have ignored him.

He messaged me again.

I may have given a non committal reply.

He asked could he ring me.

I said yes.

He asked when.

I didn’t reply.

He rang.
He talked. I listened. And my “yeah yeah yeah, you’re recruiting for some dodgy private registered training organisation” shifted when I heard the employers name. In my industry, it’s a pretty important name.

And I stood on the lawn outside my office, sipping a cup of tea, and he mentioned the money and I snorted tea out of my nose.

But I can’t.
I can’t do it.
I have a two year old.
I have a two year old I almost lost. Five times. My two year old who almost never was.
I can’t do it.
I’m not good enough.
It’s too big.

Just agree to a conversation, he said.

He’s clever, this guy.
Just a chat, he said. (he read me well. Softly, softly catchee monkey).

So I met with him. He told me about the role.
Just have a chat with them, he said. You’d be great.
So I suited up, and bothered about my hair, and hub-in-boots took a day off, and I met with them. It wasn’t really an interview. It was pretty relaxed. I was pretty relaxed. Because I have a job. And I wasn’t thinking of moving. So it didn’t really matter what they thought of me.

Here I am, I said. I’m a mum first, I said. I wasn’t thinking of leaving, I said.
Can you do this part of the role?
Honestly? I think I’d be rubbish at that part, until I was up to speed.
How about this part?
Yes, well I was thinking in the future you need to do x,y,z and think about changes to a, b and c.
Tell us what you’ve done that is similar?

So I told them. About lecturing, about working to improve students’ writing, about conference papers I’ve written on education. About textbook materials I’ve written (after telling the publisher how rubbish their book was and they gave me a contract). About future plans. About problem based learning. About bringing the real world into the classroom.

Come back and meet another member of the team, they said.

So I did.
And I didn’t try that hard.

Have a tele conference with staff in Melbourne.
So I did.
And I didn’t try that hard.

Have the job, they said. Oh and here’s another $10k on what you thought we were offering. So…..that’s a 50% pay rise.

I don’t want it, I thought. Nothing is worth the loss in flexibility. Nothing is worth the loss of time with jman. It will be like old corporate. I’ll be overworked. I’ll turn into a nasty person. I’ll be stressed. I won’t see my husband or my child. It will be too hard. I’ll be trapped. I don’t want to have to suit up every day.

I don’t want to get the ferry to work on Sydney harbour and stop at the nice coffee shop in the 200m from ferry to office. No no no.

Playgroup, going to playgroup, factored in my decision. Because at present I’m in the office 3 days (one huge day) and work at home 2 days with a lot of flexibility around when things get done.

I had another conversation with my potential boss. She said she arrives at 9:30, after dropping 3 kids at school. She leaves at 4:30, then logs back on about 8pm to do work at home. She comes in four days a week and works the other one at home. Every other person in the team is a mum with small children that does some work from home. Every. Other. Person.
It isn’t all doom and gloom.

If playgroup made the decision, it would be costing $700 a session. Or maybe $400 for play group and $300 for another play date.
Which seems pretty stupid.
You can’t put a price on family time. Or can you?

But I’d still have family time.

You’ve never proven yourself in a new job, whilst being a mum.
You’re not good enough, technically.
You’ll never manage. You’ll look ahead and see the sameness of weeks stretching before you and freak. The hell. Out.
Your kid will hate you and you’ll get a divorce.

You’ll never get this opportunity again.
If this opportunity appeared out of thin air once, It can appear again.
My current workplace is firmly in decline. Less students, more teaching hours, bigger classes. Possible loss of office, parking and campus in future. Possible difficulties when EVERY SIX MONTHS I have to renegotiate my whole existence, my whole timetable, all childcare arrangements. I could be asked to teach any time between 9am and 10pm, five days a week, and only have a bit of wriggle room.
I don’t want it.
I could do it.
I have tenure. Tenure is like gold.
Tenure is like a handcuff.
Money. Money. Money.

In the new job, there are Professional colleagues. All professional colleagues. With money to throw at problems, not stupid policy restrictions and budget restrictions and nepotism to rival any industry. Not like here, with mysoginists three deep stuck in 1975 versions of gender. Not here, where the incompetent / lazy get rewarded, and stay, and the rest of us stand around and fix up their mistakes.

I ignore the things that annoy me in this role, mostly. Because there’s a point. There’s a point. I am bringing home good money, it is not stressful (mostly), and I can be a mum. Whatever I don’t like is irrelevant. Because I am doing it for a reason.
I am a happier person when I leave my ambitious self sitting quietly in a corner.
But I’m older now.

Maybe I could bring her out, for the ride, but not let her take over and turn into a stressed out egomaniac. Because I’m not really insecure anymore. Mostly. Even though I have doubts about my abilities. I look at them and go “Oh! There’s you being silly having doubts again. Oh well, just be quiet, doubts, and get on with doing the best job you can. Nope! Not perfect. Oh well. That’s ok too.”

So. Yes. Big decision time.

We’d need an extra day’s day care. Not available in current family daycare.

Hub-in-boots would swap to earlier shifts, to do pick ups, so I could just take it easy getting home. It is possible he could swap from a Monday-Friday week to a half day Sunday-Thursday week. It is possible.
I could do more online grocery shops.

Decision time.

I am wavering. I have wavered. And both times, I’ve decided no.

Then something has happened at work that made me go “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING? SAY YES!”

I am living liminally, on the threshold of leaving, on the threshold of staying, and I’m STUCK.

The universe opened a can of whoop ass.

And I’ve said yes.

Is the job beyond my skills set?  Is the job going to ruin our finely balanced quality of life? If you’re looking for me, I’ll be working on the Penski file.

Two is so becoming

Two is ridiculous!

PRETEND
“What you like? A babycino? You want marshmallow? Here’s your money”

Yes, we can play cafes, we even wait while the pretend cup fills up, but the money is never quite going in the right direction.

It started two weeks before his birthday, in a cafe. He made this horrible loud noise, sitting beside me. “What are you doing?”
“I’m an elephant, mum”. Yes, yes of course you are. And just like that, we’ve gone into pretend. Sure, we’d done pretend toast and cups of tea, but nothing like this.

This week he has:
* washed a “shirt” (face washer) in the “washing machine” (small bucket in the bath) and handed it over “here’s your new shirt all dry, mum.”
* ordered zucchini slice with calamari, schnitzel, mashed potato and broccoli for dinner (just a moment sir, the bistro will call you when your number is ready )
* driven in a “car” (box) to grandmas, then loaded all the animals (animal fridge magnets) in. When asked where he’s going ” to the zoo!”.

LANGUAGE

His language is ridunkulous. Just insane.
“You’ve got a drink of water. I’ve got a drink of water. Daddy’s got a drink of water”

“I was splashing, Aunty cathy. I splashed.” (His use of past tense is better than my students).

” look mummy! There’s a dump truck! A dump truck! Hello mister dump truck. Where did the dump truck go? Where’s he gone? Mister dump truck, where are you?”

“Oh wow, that’s delicious, mummy”

Revisionist sentences: “milk, mummy. A drink of milk. I would like a drink of milk. I would like a big drink of milk. A cup of tea milk, (milk in a mug not a sippy cup) mummy. Please, mum mum. Tank you.”

Gross motor skills / independence

He can walk up and down stairs without holding on, all of a sudden.

He likes to climb into the car seat, not be lifted in.

He can climb rope nets on playgrounds (mostly).

He is suddenly very cooperative about having his teeth cleaned, but allergic to high chairs. Whereas he used to quite like being fed when he was tired, this Is not a thing we do now. In fact, many things have rules. Like :THOU SHALT NOT BUTTER MY TOAST. I DO IT.

But he still runs like a little fairy called twinkle toes. Very funny.

WEANING

I thought I’d never say it, but I think we’ve weaned.

We’d been on a feed first thing in the morning in bed thing for a long time. There was a feed when you pick me up at daycare thing, but that passed a little while back.

He still quite likes grabbing at my boobs. “Mummy’s boobs. Mummy has boobs. I don’t have any boobs.”

And we had a half hearted attempt at a drink on request the other day, the first in two weeks.

I was at a a loss how to manage weaning. The only method that made sense to me was first, night weaning (via dad only settles in the night). That happened a long time ago , maybe at 8 months?

Then, the only thing that made sense was “don’t offer, don’t refuse”. It was the only “way” that seemed ok to me. Don’t get me wrong. There were times I thought oh for the love of god, stop!. But I never wanted to make that decision for him.

There was an undercurrent to it early on, because weaning would be needed for any subsequent goes at IVF. When everyone asked “what about number 2?

And I wasn’t ready, and he wasn’t ready, and I couldn’t force weaning on him. Especially not with an “other” motive. I needed to put a full stop on one sentence, in the right place, before I began another.

It turns out that full stop is probably the last one in that paragraph. And I think I’m (mostly) ok with that. And we’ve weaned. We’ve just about weaned. We made two years. I am so proud of that. Not to put down anyone else’s choices, but when most other things were the exact opposite of natural, this was one thing I really really wanted, that I saw as very important.

I was only ever aiming for three months.
Then six months.
Then a year.
Then the questions started. are you still feeding him? When will you stop? You can give him cows milk, you know (I did. I still do).
When it works for us.
Which turns out to be just after he turned two. Which was a lot longer than I’d ever thought.

FUNNY LITTLE PERSON

There are a lot more moments, these days, when I just stop, and look at him, and think you are amazing. You are just a funny little person, where did you come from? How could this be me, sitting here with you? hoe could this be me, singing Bob The Builder with you as we walk through a supermarket? (On a loop : bob the builder, can he fix it? Bob the builder, can he fix it? Bob the…. you get the picture).

For so long, as babies, they are becoming. becoming a sitter, becoming a babbler, becoming a crawler, a walker, a laugher, a talker.

Now, at 2, all of a sudden like a light has been turned on, I feel he has become.

In the back garden

So, leading up to jman’s birthday, In The Night Garden was still on at 6:30 of a night, often just was we were eating/ finishing dinner. Yes. I know. TV and dinner = bad.

But it got to be a bit of a thing. Jman always sits up to the table with us (note, we NEVER sat at the table before, but we decided it was important as a family thing once he started solids). Anyhoo , when it was on we would talk about the show, sing the songs, and, weirdly, we, the adults, got to quite like it.

One night, I suddenly went “hey, isn’t our yard a bit like the night garden?”. It’s green, it has rolling hills, it has trees, it has a corner with a pebble garden.

We freakin live in the night garden.

So I decided it would be kind of fun, and it would blow his tiny mind, if, for his birthday, I just night gardened up the yard. Because, you know. Planning a holiday, recovering from an ambulance trip, holding down a full time job, not enough of a challenge.

So prior to a fabulous holiday (there will be a post, I promise), I started collecting bits. I made the tardis like carriage out of a shoebox, a pad of coloured construction paper and glue. I also bought some old school pegs, red and blue felt, and whipped up a couple of pontipines.

Hub-in-boots thought they were excellent.

But the true test is a toddler, so I let him see it before the holiday, to see did he recognise it.

He nearly lost his mind! The pontipines house I painted out of an old red box that a gift hamper came in from a dear friend when I was on bedrest. There’s a nice poetry to that repurposing.

After the holiday, I lost momentum a bit. Anyway, below are very brief ideas of what I did to bring the night garden to the backyard…..wine helps. I’m a fan of wine craft. It’s like minecraft, only more social.
the pinky Ponk
THEIRS:

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OURS: (draft form prior to final pimping)

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Green balloon
Pink paper
Yellow paper
Small pink balloon
Pom pom
Glue

If you only do one night garden craft, make a pinky Ponk! Get a big green balloon. Blow it up. Blow up bigger than you need, then let it down slightly this stretching seems to make it less likely the balloon will pop.

Stick on spots of Pink and yellow paper, then make crazy propellers. I used orange craft foam ( from a junk shop), cut into petal shapes and sticky taped. (Sellotaped) on so they stand up.

I made a nose out of a pink balloon, and tied the two balloon “necks” together.

I stuck a big propeller on the back with a pom pom glued into its centre. I tied it into the tree from two anchor points, so it didn’t blow around too much.

DIY Ninky nonk
THEIRS:

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OURS:

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The tardis:
Shoe box (tall and thin )
Blue paper
Yellow paper
Straw
Cardboard
Pom pom
Glue stick

The pumpkin:
Large jar, preferably plastic
Green, yellow, red paint
Paintbrush

The teeny tiny house:
Little white box
Small piece of cardboard for little roof

The main carriage:
Something red and lantern shaped!
Something for wheels ( I used milk bottle tops mounted on satay sticks)
Pom poms for decoration

Tardis carriage:
I cut out little windows on three sides, and covered the shoebox with blue paper, and lined the windows with yellow. I added thin yellow stripes.

To make the roof, I used left over corrugated cardboard from last years invites, painted it red, cut two squares of slightly different sizes, then cut diagonals into the corners so it would fold into a roof like shape.

To space the roof pieces I glued old blocks in between the red rooves, and mounted it all with a straw. The straw had a pom pom sewed on one end and blue tack on the other. I stuck the roof on the main box, and left the shoebox lid so he could lift it off and put things inside,

To stop the kids ripping off the paper stripes, I sprayed this with several coats of varnish.

The pumpkin:
I chopped up an old giant jar of protein powder, painted it green with yellow windows topped with red dots, and that was the pumpkin shaped ninky nonk carriage.

According to jman’s second favourite show, mister maker, you can get paint to stick to weird surfaces if you mix it with “gloopy glue” (PVA glue). He’s right! It’s not perfect, but it works.

I cut vertical slits all around the bottom piece, then just sort of sat the top piece inside it, so the carriage could still be opened and approximated a pumpkin shape. Another idea is to use a paper lantern.

The little house carriage, I made out of an old box of labels, adding a roof via a piece of red shoebox I rescued from the recycling bin.

The Aladdin ‘s lamp style carriage I really struggled with. I used a cheap zip up red sunglasses case, attached milk bottle top wheels, and a pom pom, and connected them all with crazy pipe cleaners. You could also paint a banana!

I wanted him to be able to investigate the ninky nonk, so I made sure everything could open. Then, the night before the party, I hid little surprises in the ninky nonk, like dried apricots, little packets of biscuits Etc.

The pontipines

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10 old fashioned pegs, wooden
Red felt
Blue felt
Glue
Permanent marker
Box, large shoebox shape
Cardboard for roof and chimney
Black moustache material ( I used pipecleaner)
A straw
Needle and thread

I needed something quick and easy for the pontipines, given there are ten. They wear red trimmed in royal blue, and they all have slightly different outfits.

*For daddy pontipine, a black pipe cleaner made his moustache. His hat is a tall square of felt, glued onto a circle of red felt then glued onto his peg head.
* mummy pontipines binoculars I made from two straws cut off and joined, and looped it around her neck with a pipe cleaner.
* the kids I just sewed red felt, trimmed with curves of blue felt and glue

Their outfits I sewed together. One side was a sort of a rounded out triangle, the other side was similar but I included arms. So the arms were one sided, not proper sleeves, and I didn’t bother with hands. I sewed them with a contrasting cottoned just over stitching the edges. Quick and dirty! The hats were getting really annoying and not working, so I just stuck felt circles on their heads, and drew faces with sharpie pens.

When I was over making them, I left three. I told jman they were pontipines doing a nudie run. Naturally, these became his favourites. They are now missing in action. Along with the chimney.

I wallpapered the pontipine ” house” inside with old wedding wrapping paper. It needs a chandelier, and I may add a small Xmas decoration for this later.

The characters

I decided I’d make some characters and stick them around the lawn, and I thought the haa hoos were prime candidates given their big bold shapes and basic design.

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Originally, I’d planned to do these with balloons as suggested on the ceebeebies sites but I decided this was too risky if they all popped.

So I bought a roll of mixed colours A3 construction paper, and drew them over two sheets joined together.

Yellow haa hoo

Yellow A3 paper x 2
Sticky tape
Coloured dots
Large old cardboard box (optional)
Glue stick
Black marker, white paint

Lay the A3 paper out, joining the sheets together with a slight overlap. Draw a dodgy starfish, or an “x” with an extra “arm” pointing straight up. Draw the ends of each “limb” blobby and rounded.

Draw big eyes, big black pupils, and paint eyes white.

Go crazy with dots. Get toddler to help.

To make a standup character:

1. Cut out your paper figure
2. Glue this to cardboard, avoiding folds in the box where you can
3. Cut out, slowly, using a box cutter. Avoid toddler playing with box cutter.
4. Use Sellotape to stick a cardboard triangle-ish stand on the back, about 2/3 of the way up

Purple haa hoo

Use purple construction paper
Draw a blob shape, a bit like a basic babushka doll
Draw big eyes in black marker, and paint inside of eyes white
Paint large yellow daisies with darker yellow centres

If you wish to, turn into cardboard stand up figure.

Light blue x shape

Do another x shape, with rounded ends ( four limbs). Mark on eyes in black, paint white eyeballs.

Paint or stick on lighter blue dots ( small)

Blue blob

Use blue or red paper.
Draw a blob!
Cover the blob in a checkerboard pattern. So if paper is blue, cut out red diamonds and assemble them all over the blue blobby haa hoo.

There is another haa hoo ( a big ass daisy), but I got tired.

Iggle piggle and upsy daisy

So, for these guys I stole large bits of paper from a butcher paper flip board at work.

In fact, I needed large spaces to do it in, so I drew them at work! I thought these guys would look really dumb and be very hard but they were not. I am no artist.

Iggle piggle I felt would look more convincing if he was doing something, so he’s in a sort of dance-y position. I just sketched him free hand looking at a picture. I painted him blue ( cobalt blue mixed with white), and drew on his red hair, black eyes and mouth.

Upsy daisy is quite easy if you just concentrate on one element at a time, and get the colours right! Because they are simple, Childlike characters, they are easy to draw. If you struggle, some people on the net used and overhead projector to project and trace them onto big paper. I originally wanted to so this, but I think they turned out ok freehand. Another idea is find colouring in sheets on sites like ceebeebies, as the one dimensional simplified image is easier to copy.

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“Cooking”: eating the night garden!

Lowest level of difficulty:

Buy individual boxes of dried fruit like sultanas (or lollies)
Print out a nice night garden image
Glue it to the box

Subcontract out birthday cake to niece, who is very clever!

Medium difficulty: Makka pakka marshmallow men!

Get 4 small and 2 normal white marshmallows.
Create one long spaghetti “spine”
Break off two spaghetti “cross bars”
And a spaghetti leg brace

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Stick the two large together using your spaghetti spine. On top of makka pakka’s head, stick the spaghetti through a flattened out sultana.This is safer than toothpicks and more digestible. The head is “circle facing you”, the body is longways.

Using the first cross bar, insert spaghetti into makka pakkas head like the bolts on Frankenstein. Add sultanas on either side like ears.

Optionally, you can stick the sultanas on with icing.

Use the second cross bar through his body, to stick on small marshmallow arms.

Use the bottom of the spine spaghetti and the extra small piece to Stick on legs using small marshmallows ( circles facing you)

Draw on a smiley face with melted chocolate. Makka pakka!

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20140807-234402-85442719.jpgFiddly level of difficulty: tombliboos biscuits

I found some little teeny tiny low sugar gingerbread men we occasionally buy. Of course you could make your own, but i was short on time. I used coloured chocolate (white chocolate and powdered food dye works best), and piped on an overall colour with a very fine nozzle , let this dry for 10-15 minutes, then piped on contrasting dots and squiggles for hair.

The most fiddly part were the eyes. I tried a few things and settled on pre made icing writing tubes, using white then black dots for pupils. Don’t do them too large or cute tombliboo becomes scary Sid vicious meets alien. Well, mine did.

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I experimented with icing the tombliboos, but I’ve made a lot of handmade chocolates in the past, so I found chocolate easier. Go with your strengths, I say. The first batch looked like a “saw this on Pinterest, nailed it ” attempt! I got better. I didn’t paint on smiles, as on the little gingerbread faces they just turned into total freaks that would frighten the children. Keep it simple. This would be easier to do on larger biscuits, but I was trying to avoid giving the kids too much sugar or colouring, so the smaller the better for me.

Watermelon tombliboo house:

Hub-in-boots was along for the ride, and he brilliantly thought up a watermelon house. Of course, watermelons are out of season here, and he found the shop with the largest possible watermelons and didn’t check the price. $35 later….and he forgot to carve it!!!!

Sometime into the party, the tombliboo house appeared. It was way cool. Problem is, I’m not sure we got a photo! We ate a lot of watermelon. A LOT. OF. WATERMELON. We also had party number 2 at mums, and as you can see he’s getting hard to keep up with! More on life at 2 and holidays soon. X

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What if

So. Things have been relatively normal around here since Friday. Work, daycare, a rare night out to the movies…

It hasn’t been the easiest week. I drive past that bloody path, or nearby it, five or ten times a week, and without fail it makes me feel sick. Sick. I could actually vomit every time I look down on it from the overpass. I am so angry at myself that I couldn’t find a way to direct the ambulance better. I’m annoyed at myself, and, frankly, disappointed, that I wasn’t 100% there for jman, that I feel I lost it in his hour of need. That I couldn’t think up something more sensible to do than shaking him and shouting his name. That all I could think was “this isn’t happening, not “this is happening and you need to do something “.

This stupid dual thinking of being in the moment and outside the moment at the same time, disconnected from myself, from him. Hearing my stupid useless sobs.

I was bloody useless. And what if? What if he’d not started breathing? What then? What if? I think in essence all of this boils down to I am your mother this was very dangerous and to be a good mother I need to control ALL THE THINGS. to feel safe again.

I’ve done what I can since. I’ve complained about the emergency operator, though I haven’t heard squat since it occurred. I’ve notified his family daycare about what happened in case it occurs again.

I’ve booked an 8 night family holiday to the whitsundays (our first proper family holiday), because I’ve had a sudden lightbulb moment that life is bloody short.

I’ve been really frustrated with jman this week. Leaving the house is like trying to run through lava. He’s been waking up really aggressive and cranky (for him), not crazy bad, but just narky and uncooperative. He hates breakfast all of a sudden. And I’ve only just clicked about an hour ago that all of this behaviour might be head injury related. Derr.

After the observations in hospital, they did an ECG etc and everything was fine. The lumpy bump and graze turned into hardly anything at all, not even much of a bruise. They said he had a “reflex anoxic seizure” in response to the pain of the fall. He didn’t come good for a long time after that short (maybe30 second?) seizure. I didn’t recognise it as one at the time, and it was only when the ambulance officer described his son having one that it clicked. It was exactly as he described.

I feel at some times, totally normal.
At some times, I feel skinned. like I am walking around without skin, not just without clothes, without skin. Totally exposed and nothing holding me together. And I feel like there was a gossamer curtain between us and shittsville last Friday, that we only barely stayed on this side of it, that certain disaster is lurking. Because we’ve snatched it back from the brink too many times. IVF, haematomas, bad risks of downs, I feel like it is all back and currently happening all at once, like this has pulled out the drawer of the universes filing system of possible tragic events and they’re all just floating, free form, waiting for somewhere to land. I don’t know if it is possible to be hypervigilant and completely flatly without affect at the same time, but if its possible, that’s me right now.

I also know these thoughts are ridiculous.

It is hard to self care after events like these, when you are a mum. Because he just wants me. He’s clingy. And I feel as though I have an empty tank to start with. So I alternate between moments of really looking at him, thinking oh my god thank god you’re still here and oh my god why are you still here hanging onto my leg?

I’m going to follow up with a GP (dr) visit tomorrow, I think. His crankiness concerns me, as do the uneven pupils I spotted tonight. Another source of sleeplessness for me. The first night, we kept him in our bed so I could poke him and check him all night long. Since then, he’s slept really well, but he’s hard to settle and cranky on waking.

He was so happy over the weekend, though we were dosing him up with Panadol which may have helped. He was funny. His sentence making has made this huge leap this week. We’ve gone from “truck, mummy? Truck in bath?” To “I want the truck in the bath, mummy”. He’s testing out limits, and I can’t tell if the shouty shouty limit testing is “almost 2ness” or “head injury”.

“IPAAAAAAAAAD MUM,”
“We don’t speak like that here, jman. We speak nicely to each other.”
“Can I have the ipad please mum, please”.

I find it worse when I can’t see him. When he’s not in my face, I’m on the express train to “What If”, and I feel sick. My chest feels tight.

I’m looking forward to our holiday.

Just breathe

Every reflective blog post in the world cannot prepare me for today.

Every on top of my parenting game we’re getting out crap together assurance, it is nothing.

Today, after a few hours working at home whole jman played garages and made imaginary pasta dishes, we headed out for a big walk. We haven’t done it for ages, as he was in between able to walk a long way and willing to sit in the pram. it was a walk of the wear you out before you nap variety.

Today, we went for a nice combo of pram and running alongside the pram. Jman was cracking along, having a great time. I was walking along, ironically, thinking of all the other times I’d walked this particular path. Like when I’d just got off bed rest after five months, and felt like we would finally have a baby. Like when I ran this path, during IVF, burning off the stress running, listening to Gotye’s Eyes Wide Open. This path has seen a lot of changes.

And Jensen was loving the pedestrian over bridge, which looks down on six lanes of very exciting traffic. We left the road and followed the footpath through a bushy reserve to get onto the next bridge.

Then it happened. He was running. I was pretend running beside him, pushing the empty pram.

He tripped and fell. He face planted on the concrete. With an audible thunk .

I stopped and swept him into my arms. He was doing the silent, open mouthed, I’m really hurt cry. I was, cynically, using the open mouthed cry to check his teeth, scoped out his two face grazes and made plans to stop and clean them up with water and wipes.

Then he arched his back, almost in a complete U. He went very white. He threw his arms out, rigid and straight.

I leaned to lift his head back to my shoulder when it happened. His eyes rolled back in his head. He went limp. His chest stopped moving. I shook him. First aid course or no first aid course, I had absolutely no idea what to do. I screamed his name. I could hear the panic in my own voice, watching myself from outside, He eventually took a great, shuddering breath, but his head still lolled around, he wouldn’t make eye contact, and his eyes rolled backwards every few seconds.

Somehow in all of this, I grabbed my phone, which is often lost in the bottom of a big confusing handbag. Luckily I grabbed it quickly. I crouched down, cradling him in my lap. I dialled. But I was also outside myself saying this isn’t really happening. This isn’t real.

The woman on the phone was telling me to calm down, no, shouting at me to calm down, before I’d even said a word. She didn’t even know who I was calling about. My son. This son, who is not breathing.

So I’m sitting in the middle of a bush path, with Jman, head lolling, cradled in my lap. Trying to talk this idiot through where I am. I’m between two overpasses, but I’m nowhere, nowhere easy.

And I’m taking her through the directions, and time is passing. And he’s changing, minute to minute. A long time passes. And I hear a siren. Driving past. Driving past us.

It seems to go on forever. I’m telling him to look around, pointing out bird, planes. He is not responding. He is staring into space, or his head is lolling, or he is drifting off into a sleep I am not sure he will ever wake from.

There isn’t anything to prepare me for this. How can this be? The stupid operator is talking inane crap in my ear. She is distracting me from focusing on him, on his condition. I want to kill her. I want him to wake up.

And then a council van pulls up, with the ambulance following. Thirty minutes may have passed. The ambo runs down a grassy verge and jumps a six foot high cyclone wire fence to get to us.

And the council worker opens a gate on the fence. And eventually, I carry jman in my arms up the hill to the waiting ambulance. And he looks up, and speaks. “Ambulance! Police car!”. And I breathe.

And I breathe.

Finally, I ring hub-in-boots from inside the ambo. The council guy offers to drop our pram at home. They test his pulse, blood pressure, blood sugar. We head into emergency.

They observe him for four hours.
He has a late (missed) nap on the way home.
He is currently running around insanely and jumping on the bed.
I am currently drinking wine.

Just breathe.