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.

Friday – this week I am grateful for …


Sleep is for the weak

This post is about sleep. I need sleep. I need about eight hours solid. I prefer ten but I haven’t achieved that since my early twenties. I have been short on sleep for a really long time. It shows. This week we have made significance progress towards getting back to eight hours of sleep a night for me. This Friday I am grateful that Benedict is finally ‘sleeping through’ the night. This means I can get into bed and then not get out of it until the morning. The proper morning; not 3am or 4am or 5am but more like 7am.

Read More

Bloggy blog blog blog

I have advanced linguistic skills. I can converse with the best of them. I’ve made conversation with the Deputy Prime Minister of Namibia (true), as well as many other people. At the moment though, on any given day, if you listened to me speak, you would think I had some sort of disorder or at least a vocal tic. This is because I spend the best part of 12 hours a day with a small child. So we don’t have lunch we have ‘lunch lunch lunch’, we don’t wear a nappy we wear a ‘nap nap nappy’ and we don’t sleep we have a ‘snoozy snooze snooze snooze’.
I don’t subscribe to the ‘baby talk’ concept. And yet I can be found in the supermarket asking the baby if he thinks ‘daddy would like muesli’. As if the baby cares what his father eats for breakfast!

I have tried, once I caught myself at it, to just talk in a normal way to Benedict. I am however, like the DVD that has a ‘pause’ when changing layers. By 7pm I am not always ‘speaking normally’ and continuing with the story. Sometimes, for a long time after 7pm, I am babbling incomprehensibly because I have been doing that all afternoon.

Do you see they cars? The black ones? The grey ones? Do you see them?

Of course he bloody sees them. He knows what a car is, and a cat and a dog and a bird. Tell me something I don’t know mama, the baby thinks as I go on about them! The experts tell you to tell the child what you are doing – describe your actions they say. This leads me to deliriously tell Robert how I am now putting the pasta into the pot; ‘see how it is boiling’ ‘see the steam’, and now I am going to stir the sauce ‘let’s get a spoon!’  And look! mama is now going to get really demented! She’s about to go outside and water the plant plant plants with a glass of wine, before she really loses her mind completely!

Friday – this week I am grateful for …

My gratitude is directed toward the few sources of soul soothing I have found in a difficult week with little sleep, lots of drama and not a lot of peace and quiet.

1. My mama friends (yes again!)

This week I have had so much love and support as well as practical help from my mama friends I can never really thank them enough.

2. Tizzie Hall

I never wanted to be on the sleep routine bus. Until I couldn’t take the night waking any more. We are in the early days but Save Our Sleep seems to be working. Fingers crossed I’ll be getting a regular eight hours soon. Bless you Tizzie with your calm advice – ‘never give in while your baby  is yelling at you’. I think I will have that made into a poster. We won’t be missing the 7pm sleep bus ever.

3. Coffee

Has saved me this week. That’s all.

4. Classic FM and the 100 countdown.

Some very aptly timed music that has provided a blissful few minutes interlude this week.

5. Meeting Robert.

Three years ago this week I met Robert. You can read about why I am grateful for him here – Three years and counting – open letter to my child about his father.

Three years and counting – open letter to my child about his father

Three years and counting

Dear Benedict,

Soon it will be the three year anniversary of the day I met your father. I started my new job on 5th November 2007. Remember remember the fifth of November, I thought, well if I don’t like the ACT Government, I can always blow it up.

I met your daddy for the first time on my second day of work. It was a Wednesday. The Tuesday was a public holiday – no one told me that. I started on Monday in an almost entirely empty office with most people, including your daddy, taking the Monday off. So after an exhausting and emotionally draining first day in my new job, I had a day off to recover. Then on Wednesday when everyone actually came to work, I spend the morning being introduced to people; whose names I immediately forgot. I was quite freaked out. I then rounded out the morning with an absolutely appalling sandwich for lunch because I didn’t know where to go.

In the afternoon I was sitting quietly at my new desk, reading a cheery card from your lovely Mamie who was a bit worried and had sent me a card and some lip balm (it’s windy in Canberra in the spring, she thought). Suddenly, there was a crashing sound close by. The sound of sheet metal being hit with something. I jumped out of my chair with surprise to see your daddy standing next to my empty filing cabinet. His foot had collided with the cabinet in his enthusiasm to cross the space between me and the rest of the office.

Hello, he said, I’m Robert. After a few pleasantries he wandered off again to his little windowless glass box about 5 metres away. As they say that was the beginning of the end.

Shortly after this day, he asked me out for coffee to interrogate me about what I knew about industrial relations. I think I passed – I seemed to be able to answer his questions ok. I didn’t know at the time, but he had done his research (smart man your daddy). He knew who I was – while I was still quite in the dark about him! He seemed to like me. So I started giving him a hard time.

I cracked some jokes at his expense. He asked me out for drink after work. Soon I was seeing him everyday. I didn’t want there to be another single day when I didn’t see him.

My darling boy, your daddy is a wonderful, kind, witty and generous man. He knows a lot of things – like where everything is in the whole world, the names of all the Australian Prime Ministers in order to Federation. He knows lots about books and has read a huge number of them. He knows all about how government works. He can cook – really delicious food, and his lemon tart is enough to make you grow out of your egg allergy quick smart.

Most importantly Benedict, your daddy knows what really matters in life. Love, laughter, fun and joy. He is loving. He has loved you since you were just an idea and not yet a boy. He is the best daddy a boy could have. I weep with happiness at having met your daddy.

Your mama x

Secrets about make-up for smart girls that I learnt from Belinda


This is a very frivolous post. It is about a frivolous topic. Even smart girls need to know a few things about make-up. It isn’t that difficult, you just need a few tips from Belinda.

My mother cannot wear make-up. She is totally hopeless and in all of my life I have never seen her apply anything more than lipstick. I did not, therefore, start life with the advantage of a good guide on make-up.

My first experience of using make-up was as an eight year old child, when I applied it to an adult family friend. She was very kind about it but I know now that what I did to her was hideous. No eight year old should ever be allowed to use liquid eyeliner. As I got older, I was ‘too cool’ for make-up because smart girls didn’t wear it. Then one day I wanted to and I really didn’t know what to do.  I read about it in magazines, but I knew that I didn’t really know what I was doing. So I faked it. I wore concealer and lipstick and that was about it. Until I met Belinda.

Belinda was the coolest woman I had ever met. Not cool in a trendy way but actually cool. She was one of those women who knew the rules and what to do but could just ignore them.  She could wear tie-dye and blundstones and not give a shit. She was trained as a hairdresser. And as a make-up artist. When I met her, Belinda had just had her first baby, Nic. She was doing the odd hair cut at home to bring in the cash. She used to charge me $20 for a cut. We would sit around, play with Nic, drink tea and chat. The pivotal moment was when I asked her what the other three colours were for in my Revlon eye shadow pallet.

‘What do you mean?’ she asked. ‘Well’ I said, ‘I buy these four colour eye shadows, and I use up the lightest colour and the other colours just get wasted.’ By this time she had a pretty pained expression on her face but she knew me well enough to know I had absolutely NO clue what I was doing. Belinda taught me some stuff. She needed hardly any encouragement – she’d been observing my woeful handiwork. Here are the things she taught me that you need to know.

First, before you do anything at all in the eye make-up department decide what colours suit you, based on your skin tone, and how ‘bright’ you want the make-up to be. There is a good reason Stila sell more ‘Kitten’ eye shadow than anything else – a pale pink beige suits just about everyone.

Now the tips. These are the gold lessons from Belinda. These take you from applying one colour eye shadow across your whole eyelid and adding mascara to actually wearing eye make-up well.

1. Get the right tools – buy some decent brushes.

Three essential make-up brushes

If you look after them you’ll have them for a long long time. If you ask me, you need about three. One wide flat shaped brush for the base colour, a stubby short bristled one for accent and drawing lines and a medium rounded one for blending it all together.

2. Use your eye-liner pencils horizontally – don’t hold them like your are about to draw. Hold them horizontally to your face. Drag the coloured point across your lash line so the colour goes down into the lash line and doesn’t just sit above it.  This gives definition without any sharp lines.

3. When you apply mascara – hold the brush close to the eyelid and then wiggle it through the lashes. Apply on the underside and the top side. Use the point of the brush to define individual lashes or to separate them. Mascara lasts only a short time – so do throw it away after 6 months. It is a germ factory.

4. Why there is more than one colour in the palette. The other colours are for definition.

Start with the neutral base colour all over the eye socket using a big brush. A flat brush is great.

Next wash a contrast colour along the crease of your eyelid. This is best done with a stubby bristled brush – if you use it damp it will give stronger definition. Define the arc of your eyelid. Rub it in along the crease to define that crease line – you can define the crease a lot. The stubby brush helps to draw the defined line. Then use the round brush with the base colour to then blend the lines together using tiny circles – otherwise you look like you have just drawn lines on your eyes. Good eye make-up is well blended.

Then line the rim of your eyelid – either with a dark colour for emphasis or with a lighter colour to open up your eye – good if you are knackered or have small eye lids. Use a small short bristled brush for this or an eye pencil held horizontally so the pencil colour is rubbed along your upper eye lid. You can also line the lower lid but for day to day I hardly ever bother. The trick Belinda taught me is to apply a lighter colour towards my lash line and a deeper colour in the crease – this makes your eye look larger. Nearly everyone does it the other way round.

5. Shape your eyebrows and then use a bit of pencil to define them. They frame your face.

6. If you’ve got no to time to do anything else, wear mascara and lip gloss.

(For me I would add also get some Nars The Multiple, Orgasm – YES that is really what it is called. You can use it as blush, on your eyes – actually any where. It is great if you’re looking a bit flat, haven’t got time to go all the way, and it still makes you look like you’ve made some effort.)

Finally for me the best thing I every did was buy a ‘Stila Smokey Eye Kit’.

Stila talking eye make-up

Stila talking eye make-up

This little gem is a make-up palette that speaks. It has a tiny chip in it that talks you through the application process.

It has a guide on the back to tell you which colour to put where and which brush to use. It is totally awesome. I use it when I am going out. You can use the techniques to apply any kind of colour or look (as they say).


That’s it. It isn’t that hard. You don’t need to know much to improve and if I can do it, anyone can.