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Friday – this week I am grateful for … being by myself

Today, for the very first time, I left my child with strangers. Dropped him off and walked out. Read More

The Finkler Question – part two – why I hated the Man Booker 2010 prize winner

Last night was bookclub. We discussed The Finkler Question. I have already declared my hatred for it. I won’t finish it. What did the rest of us think? Read More

The Finkler Question – part one – why I hated the Man Booker 2010 prize winner


Books. Notice how close they are to the drinks.

It is not often I do not finish a book that I commence. Once I start, I am committed to finishing. I have finished one or two books I really didn’t enjoy. I have finished some of the most difficult books in the English language or in translation to English. War and Peace, Ulysses, Infinite Jest, Fox in Sox, to name but a few. I mean I’ve finished Mason & Dixon by Thomas Pynchon. I have finished books that are emotionally difficult to read. Books like What is the What, The Book Thief, Outside Over There by Sendak.  Late last year, I read Room by Emma Donoghue (incidentally also shortlisted for the 2010 Booker). That’s a difficult book, at an emotional level, yet I finished it in two days. I have rarely started a book and abandoned it. Dead Air by Iain Banks, looms as one I can immediately recall not finishing.

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A massive rant about consumer goods

Lovely cup of earl grey tea in an heirloom cup and saucer

There are a very few things that I am especially particular about. The rest of things, I am only mildly particular entirely obsessive about. The very few things are extremely important to my day-to-day well-being and overall happiness. They include; earl grey tea, in a nice cup, sometimes with a saucer, proper bread, Violet Leaf hair balm (oh how I wish I were a part owner of that one), good chocolate.

These few things are the things that I always buy. I need them. I have my specific kinds, brands, a handful of suppliers that I like.

What is going wrong at the moment, is that the specific brands and kinds I have used for years – without changing or stopping or going off them – are changing themselves.

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Duplo toilet and how it won me a fantastic friend

I just returned from a trip to Sydney. Was fantastic – but more about that later. One of the highlights was meeting the wonderful @mamabook. I have known her for a while now, but we have only just met. This story is brought to you by the magic of Twitter.

Duplo toilet and basin

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Friday – this week I am grateful for … scrabble

It is day nine million of the school holidays. The rot has really set in. The Talking Boy is back with us. He is known as ‘the talking boy’ not only to distinguish him from the boy who doesn’t yet talk, but also because he never stops talking. Ever. He talks, nay shouts, even in his sleep. He talks about movies, computer games and most recently, he talks without cease about cars. Fast expensive cars. All the time. He talks through every tv show, every movie, every conversation. Read More

Friday – this week I am grateful for a plan that comes together

Those who know me well, really really well, will know I love a good plan. Better yet, I love it when a plan comes together; just like Mr T. It has been difficult, during my first year of motherhood, to adjust to the reality that my plans are no longer entirely in my control. Read More

The Ballets Russes – National Gallery Australia

Today our mothers’ group met at NGA. We had a cup of coffee while the kids wreaked havoc in the cafe then we were off to the Ballets Russes exhibit. The best part of this is that there is a Family Play Room inside the exhibition. It’s all ages, with arty themed activities – staffed by child friendly staff. The big kids were guided by staff in drawing with lovely pencils on beautiful black stock paper and sticking coloured tape on the walls to make pictures. The little kids rumbled with the fabric covered foam blocks. There are shape sorters and magnetic shapes in all sizes and colours to stick on the walls.

After our kids had had enough of being trapped in their strollers, we parked in the Family Room. One of my best mama friends and I took turns to watch kids while the other gazed in amazement at the costumes – stunningly beautiful. The kids enjoyed it, the mamas enjoyed it.


The highlight for Benedict, was the newly completed fountain out the front. It has a cascade of water down the face of black granite. The face edge is exactly one year old boy armpit high. As soon as Benedict was freed from his stroller, he walked straight to the water and plunged both arms into the fountain. He was instantly soaked to the skin. I took off his shoes, his outer layer of clothes and he alternated between splashing in the fountain and playing with the gravel to the amusement of the cafe patrons and staff. Well most of them. Some people gave disapproving looks. Several arty old chaps thought it was the funniest thing they had seen in a while. I just smiled and drank my coffee.

Friday – this week I am grateful for … being on holiday


Beach loungers - Cook Islands

This week marks the end of the first week of the year. We returned from our lovely holiday to the Cook Islands and, after completing the mammoth eight loads of washing, I started to relax. I mean properly, like I haven’t relaxed for, well ever.


One of the many fine features about my lovely man is that he is a good relaxer. He works hard. As hard as anyone I know. But when the work is done, boy can he relax! He knows how to just plonk himself on the couch in front of the cricket, or with his book, or with nothing at all, and just relax. He can do it for hours. He will be perfectly contented. He won’t wriggle or fuss, or need a tea or to have his pillows fluffed, he will just relax. Occasionally, he will look up, see what’s happening and then go back to what he was doing. It is beautiful to watch. It impresses me no end. I am especially envious of his capacity to relax, because I can’t.

I don’t do a fine line in lying on the couch. I don’t do one thing – I can’t single-task, only multi-task. I will make attempts to lie on the couch, but by the time I have assembled tea, book, chocolate, phones, blanket, pillows, put the cat in or out, shut the door, turned on the light and remembered to do something like turn on the washing machine, the time for relaxing is expended and there is no relaxing to be had. Or I will sit or lie down, only to then not be able to do one thing. So I read a bit of the book, flick through the magazine, glance up at the eddies of dust and need to remove them, send some messages, file my nails and drink my tea, think of something else I need to do and go do it – and all of these pursuits become totally unsatisfying.

In fact so bad am I at relaxing that I have decided to make it one of my new years’ resolutions. I started the year well. I went on a proper holiday. To a proper holiday place.

I did holiday things. I did no jobs – well nearly no jobs. I had daytime sleeps – three of them. I went swimming. I had a lie down on a banana lounge – at the beach!!! Off to a good start.

I need help to continue. I need to be encouraged to NOT do everything right now. I need to just read my book. To savour my whole cup of tea in a cup and a saucer while it is hot and delicious. I need to learn to better concentrate on doing just one, and only one, thing at a time. Please remind me.

This week, I am grateful to have my man show me how to relax. To set a fine example to me of just doing one thing, of lying down and not moving for a while. I am very glad we can be home together for a little while.


Cook Islands



Friday – this week I am grateful for …

Tonight I am going to the same party I went to last year. It is the same party that Robert has been to every year except one, for the past twenty years. Tonight there will be a spring in my step at this party. Not only because I will see friends and have good conversations and perhaps a glass of bubbles in my hand while I chat. But also because this year, at this party, I will not be 40 weeks pregnant. Not being pregnant is what I am grateful for today.

Being pregnant is great. You get to make another person. From scratch. It’s exciting and nerve-wracking. But at the 40 week mark, it is all a bit much. It’s too much for you, it’s too much for your man, it’s too much for everyone. You completely lose your sense of humour. You are hot (especially last year during the heat wave that was Canberra summer.) Your feet hurt. Your back hurts. Frankly, every bit of you hurts. And you just want the baby to come. Now. Preferrably with minimal pain and fuss.

Last year, this party was on the 18th December. My brother’s birthday. My estimated due date was the 21st. I was convinced it couldn’t possibility take much longer. Surely the baby was cooked and ready. At the party, last year I remember people gasping when they saw me side on. I remember being assisted up tiny steps by well meaning guests. I remember the host practically carried me up their steep driveway at the end of the evening.

As it turned out, he wasn’t quite ready. Benedict was born at 40 weeks and 6 days, on the 27th December.

This year, I will not be wearing my ode to a Grecian urn dress – gorgeous empire line pale sage green.  I’ll be wearing a bright red dress with my ‘congratulations on having a baby’ earrings. My other accessories will include a gorgeous nearly one year old child on my hip and my fabulous man by my side. This week, I remember how far I have come in one short year. Cheers and merry Christmas.

Friday – this week I am grateful it is almost the end of the year

2010 has been one of the longest and most difficult years of my life. It is, without doubt, the year I have had the least sleep. I am tired to the bone. Tired in a way that a week of solid nights’ of sleep will only partly remedy. I read the lovely Kerri Sackville’s blog post The Never Ending Weary. I was nodding furiously and wishing I could be in bed while reading it. Kerri has carefully categorised her tiredness. My tiredness is just the kind you have in the first year of your child’s life, with the added extra of one or two other complications life throws at you, simultaneously. Read More

Friday – this week I am grateful for …

Whimsy, books and parity with the US dollar

This week I received a lovely parcel. It contained the following wonderful books; The Finkler Question (Howard Jacobson), Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (Dai Sijie), Sir Vidia’s Shadow (Paul Theroux), and Room (Emma Donoghue). All of these books I have looked forward to reading. I have been searching for copies of Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress and Sir Vidia’s Shadow, in Australia for well over a year. Now maybe I wasn’t looking in the right places or maybe I was distracted, but parity with the Australian dollar and the search for music by Elizabeth Mitchell threw me into the giddy world of Amazon.

On a whim I searched for all the books from the list in my notebook. The notebook that goes everywhere I go. It is full of dreams, notes, little reminders. It has lists of books I want to read – to remind me to look for them. Two of the books in the parcel where on the list, but I couldn’t find them. So I searched Amazon for all the books on the list and I found them all. And they were cheap. A completely beautiful hardback of the Balzac for less than I would have paid for a paperback here. Also 2010 Man Booker Prize winner, The Finkler Question for $5.99. Ridiculously cheap.

So I am grateful for books and online shopping this week. I look forward to plowing my way through them. I finally feel like I have a little bit of time for reading. I feel too, that my maternity leave (seems ridiculous to call it that now that the baby is nearly a year old – maternity seems a lifetime ago) is slipping away. I need to start to think about re-entering real life. Working life. But it will never be the same. I am already starting to look for options, for ways out!

I am grateful that my books were so cheap. I am grateful for having found Elizabeth Mitchell and her music which my boy just loves. And I grateful for a few more afternoons after 2pm where I might be able to snatch a few precious moments to read and enjoy some books.