Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Taking stock: May/June 2016.

I know I should apologise for and try to explain my absence again, but we all know life happens, that we’re all busy with families and friends and homes and work. It’s the story of everyone, every day, these days. This blog hasn’t been a priority of late, but I’m getting back into the swing of it (as I say every post). It’s a little like the start of an AA meeting: Hi, my name is Louise. It’s been nearly three months since my last blog.

Things have been happening for me on the home and work front. Staff changes and absences at work have meant it’s been busy there. I’ve started setting up my own gig with the hope of one day moving into that more permanently. Probably. (Commitment isn't a strong point of mine.) I’ve been making plans for renovations (much to my boy’s dismay – his dream of a bar for downstairs seems to be moving further and further away). I’ve been writing other things and gardening and cooking and spending time with family and friends. I’ve been reading more and watching less TV.

The therapeutic gardening course I did was quite interesting – and almost all of the cuttings I made during it have lived to tell the tale.
 I'm planning on doing the advanced course when it's up and running. I’m not sure if it’s taking off as a 'new' industry or if it’s because I’m more aware of it now, but I’ve seen a few stories about therapeutic gardening and its benefits in the media and online lately. I like to think it’s the former and I can muscle in on it in its infancy.

I’ve also completed a magazine and newspaper writing short course and a how-to-become-a-freelancer short course, in addition to:

  • Making: Slow progress on the freelance/herbal career front. (Slow progress is better than no progress…)
  • Cooking: Potato and leek soup with cannellini beans; pumpkin, carrot and quinoa soup; lentil soup; ANZAC biscuits; dahl; silverbeet and zucchini frittata. 
  • Drinking: Lattes of the matcha, turmeric and chai varieties, green tea, lemongrass and ginger tea, and matcha white hot chocolate from Raw Trader (oh my!).
  • Reading: Just finished The Lake House and The Beast’s Garden. I've just started The Lightkeeper's wife and How to do it all. My boy also bought me a book about women going out on their own in business (the name escapes me right now). I don’t think I’ve opened Buddhism for mothers of young children since I last posted. Eek! 
  • Wanting: Less murder and rape and abuse and violence in the news and other media (actually just less murder and rape and abuse and violence in life, full stop).
  • Looking: At the big, fat raindrops clinging to everything outside, the orangey yellowy red autumn leaves, grey sky. My kind of day!
  • Playing: More music. 
  • Deciding: What to do with the bathroom and laundry downstairs in the way of renovations. 
  • Wishing: Offspring would hurry up and start already.
  • Enjoying: Reading – I've started reading more at the gym and in the evenings instead of watching trash. I missed it.
  • Waiting: For a tradie to arrive to give me a quote on said bathroom and laundry downstairs.
  • Liking: Peanut butter and honey sandwiches on Alpine spelt bread
  • Wondering: If I’m cut out for freelancing/running my own business.
  • Loving: Winter.
  • Pondering: Holiday locations for New Years’ Eve.
  • Considering: Braving the rain to pick some silverbeet to add to the lentil soup.
  • Buying: Chocolate, bliss balls, lots of organic winter veggies.
  • Watching: Have you been paying attention? and the original NCIS
  • Hoping: The smoothies and raw vegan cakes are as good as ever in Byron when we head up there in October.
  • Marvelling: At Mother Nature (still).
  • Cringing: When Little Red calls ladies men. Loudly. Repeatedly. In the supermarket queue.
  • Needing: Another cup of tea (as always).
  • Questioning: My intentions when I say I buy bliss balls for Little Red (and I scoff them).
  • Smelling: Lentil soup. 
  • Wearing: A hoodie, t-shirt, skinny green jeans, socks and a blanket. Nothing flash. My leggings, tracksuit pants and alpaca jumper have also been getting a work out of late (not when I'm at work, obviously).
  • Following: Veggie Mama more and more. Love her work.
  • Noticing: How quickly Little Red is growing up.
  • Knowing: I’m pretty blessed with all I have.
  • Thinking: I should really be working on setting up my freelancing/clinical work instead of writing this.
  • Admiring: My lavender bushes out front – they’re smothered in gorgeous purple blooms and smell divine.
  • Sorting: Out flights and accommodation for our Byron Bay holiday.
  • Getting: Excited about hopefully getting some renovations done at last. And raw vegan treats and smoothies and Byron.
  • Bookmarking: How to make a no-dig garden bed.
  • Coveting: A house and garden that is in tip top shape. A thriving freelance business. (I’m working on it…)
  • Disliking: Bad and sad news.
  • Opening: Many, many bags of manure and compost to make our new front garden.
  • Giggling: At Little Red’s attempts to delay bedtime. One favourite is her repeated requests for ‘big cuggles’ – which equates to a big group hug between my boy, her and me. Too cute.
  • Feeling: Peckish.
  • Snacking: Bliss balls, raw vegan cakes, ANZAC biscuits, peanut butter and honey sandwiches, the entire menu of smoothies at Nutrition Station in Wodonga last weekend (almost).
  • Helping: Little Red dress herself. (I am probably the least patient mother in the world.)
  • Hearing: The heater working hard to keep it toasty in here.

Friday, 25 March 2016

Taking stock: February/March 2016.

Almost two months have flown by at blink-and-you'll-miss-it speed. Everyone I know is commenting about how quickly this year is going. It seems to happen when you get older, though. When you're younger, days stretch out painfully between school holidays and birthday parties. But hit your mid 30s, and the years seem to speed up just as painfully. You wonder what happened to the footloose, responsibility-free bohemian/clubber/raver/indi rocker/Brit pop lover/jock who had all the time in the world, as you start looking for good schools, quality investment opportunities and the time to indulge in long-neglected interests (like art, music or going to the toilet without a toddler in tow).

Since I last wrote here, I have had a lovely solo mum's weekend retreat in Kyneton, where I drank a lot of tea, ate a lot of chocolate and cake, and did a little writing and reading, mostly from the comfort of an old-fashioned miner's hut with the most exquisite secret cottage-y garden. Sadly, I did miss my family. It was weird being on holiday without them. Not so weird that I won't do it again, mind you. 

I've also had my head buried among seemingly endless research grant applications at work. We've checked and submitted almost as many in the past three months as we did in the whole of 2015. We celebrated getting over the hump with whisky and treats last week in my colleagues' office. 

To help me work out what to do with my future self (and hone my literary skills), I signed up for a short course in magazine and newspaper writing. I also signed up for a short course in gardening therapy. I've been writing some short stories about gardening therapy, not realising it was an actual thing, but Google tells me it is, so I'm going to learn how to do it. For a couple of years I've been saying I want someone to pay me to play in my garden (while drinking tea and writing). This could be the answer to my prayers!

Despite its neglect of late, my garden is overflowing with tomatoes, thanks to the late warmth and rain. I have to make a big batch of tomato chutney before it all goes to waste. We're also getting lots of cucumbers, strawberries, silver beet and rhubarb, and a few late raspberries. And the way the beans are going, I'm expecting a bumper crop of those too. I'm always surprised at how well my garden produces considering how little effort I put into it. It probably helps that dad pitches in when he visits. He loves gardening even more than me.

My folks have visited a few times in the past couple of months, too. They have enjoyed countless tea parties, drawing and walks around the garden with Little Red. I don't think my dad can quite get his head around being summoned (very firmly) to drink pretend tea by an almost-two-year-old. 

And in taking stock news, I've been...
  • Making: Progress with things at home and work. Slowly.
  • Cooking: Potato and leek soup, egg custard, roast vegetable frittata, bliss balls, dhal and brownies with sweet potato or beans. 
  • Drinking: Matcha green tea lattes. My new obsession. Plus the usual excess of chai, wattleseed-flavoured black tea, peppermint tea, detox tea, dandy tea, and lemon grass and ginger tea. And many, many smoothies.
  • Reading: Big magic (still). I haven’t finished Buddhism for mothers of young children yet either. But I will not be beaten. It's just that not a lot of reading of grown-ups books gets done around here these days, sadly. This I want to change.
  • Wanting: A nap. 
  • Looking: Forward to Easter with my folks. 
  • Playing: Tea parties.
  • Deciding: What to do with work. (And how to stop eating so many treats.)
  • Wishing: Little Red would draw ONLY on paper. And not on herself, her clothes, the walls, the bedspreads, the floor, the kitchen cupboards, the dishwasher, the high chair, the iPad, the etcher sketch, the table, me…
  • Enjoying: The beautiful day today. The perfect amount of sunshine and warmth and blue skies, and cool breeze. 
  • Waiting: For Winter. It makes me ever so happy. 
  • Liking: Autumn mornings.
  • Wondering: How many matcha green tea lattes it’s healthy to have a day.
  • Loving: Doctor Foster. I started watching it this week and was hooked after just one episode. Not that I'm condoning it by any measure, but you have to kind of admire people with families who have affairs. My boy and I have discussed it and have no idea how on Earth you would find the time to romance or shag someone else between existing work and family commitments. 
  • Pondering: What to put on the home page for my new freelance website.
  • Considering: Getting up super early so I can do more me things, like write, walk, meditate and garden, in peace and quiet.
  • Buying: Too much chocolate and too many bliss balls.
  • Watching: Doctor Foster, The Doctor Blake Mysteries and Death in Paradise. I am hanging out for A place to call home to be released on DVD, and the new Bridget Jones' Diary movie to come out (I'm so making my boy watch that with me at the movies).
  • Hoping: The world isn’t too crazy and ugly, and retains and increases its beauty, for Little Red and her kidlets (if she has any). 
  • Marvelling: At Mother Nature. She knows just what to do, and when and how.
  • Cringing: At my extra padding courtesy of an excess of sweet treats to keep me going during the peak part of my working year. (Healthy eating/lifestyle starts again right after Easter…)
  • Needing: To write some more interesting and varied content for this blog.
  • Questioning: How smart it was of me to let Little Red play with the tub of dirty dish water and her watering can so I could finish this off in relative peace. I think her clothes have had more to drink than the plant pots up here on the deck. At least only one of her socks is soaked (I have no idea where she’s put the other one). #winningatparenting
  • Smelling: Not much lately. We have all had colds.
  • Wearing: A hoodie! Yay, for autumn! (Also other clothes, obviously.)
  • Following: House prices in my area. They’ve increased at a crazy rate. No way we’d be able to afford a place here if we were looking to buy now. 
  • Noticing: That everyone is into simplicity at the moment. I think it’s 2016’s kale.
  • Knowing: We should really potty train Little Red, but it seems a bit daunting. Mum was saying she wants new carpet so maybe we'll do it over Easter at her place.
  • Thinking: Of getting rid of my credit card.
  • Admiring: People with better time management than me of late (actually, always).
  • Sorting: Out my priorities.
  • Getting: On the Simplicity bandwagon.
  • Bookmarking: Peanut butter recipes, apparently. Out of the last five bookmarks on my phone, three feature peanut butter. This may be because I bought some roasted and normal peanut butter on special last week. The roasted one is especially moreish (especially by the spoonful).
  • Coveting: The inner peace, quiet and serenity that people who work with energy and natural therapies seem to always have. 
  • Disliking: How much bad news there is.
  • Opening: Too many bills. And big ones at that.
  • Giggling: At Little Red shushing me - the cheek of it! I was talking while she was watching boats on TV. She put her finger to her lips and said 'Shhhhush mummy. Mummy, shhhh'. I nearly wet myself laughing.
  • Feeling: Very tired of late, but on the up thanks to my naturopath and kinesiologist and a couple of good nights' sleep.
  • Snacking: Bliss balls ahoy! And chocolate, of course. (This blog is brought to you by The Chocolate Yogi’s Dreamy Chai.)
  • Helping: Little Red up and down the stairs. Still.
  • Hearing: Happy birds. They love this weather as much as me.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Taking stock: December 2015/January 2016.

We've been back from our somewhat epic European/Asian holiday almost a month, making it two whole months that I've been absent from here. I really need to prioritise my time better (although it seemed fairly important to binge watch the first two seasons of A place to call home at the time).

Whomever said travelling with kids was easy was either a whole lot more organised than us (and I like to think I’m pretty organised) or has angel babes who don’t scream with jet lag ALL NIGHT LONG for A WHOLE WEEK or throw themselves to the ground at tourist attractions, crying, while people take photos of them (note: these are likely the same people she pinched and punched as they passed by her minutes earlier). Despite the tantrums (and there were a few) and bad nights’ sleep (and there were many), Little Red was pretty good on her first overseas trip. At least half of our time was spent finding local kiddies’ parks or playing in them with her, but we did get some sightseeing, shopping and quality family time.

Since our return, we have spent a lot of time catching up with friends and family, and the house and garden (which the house sitters managed to keep alive despite the disgusting heat over Christmas). My boy and I have hunkered down into our new jobs and Little Red has moved into the toddlers’ room at day care. Admittedly, that made me a little sad. It’s also made her a little sad – she cries now when I drop her off each morning. Turns out she takes after her dad when it comes to change.

In other news, I’ve been…

  • Making: Excuses for doing as little as possible.
  • Cooking: Delicious (and ridiculously easy) vanilla bean cupcakes, to which I added some home-grown raspberries. I also made a healthy oat berry slice, some fried rice and a big pot of pumpkin soup.
  • Drinking: Lots of tea (dandy chai, lemon myrtle black tea, green tea, white tea, rooibos), fizzy water and the odd smoothie.
  • Reading: Just finished The Tea Chest (got about three-quarters of the way through it on our holiday). Giving Buddhism for mothers of small children another shot and quite enjoying it. Just started Big magic and am loving it.
  • Wanting: Ah, nothing changes. More quiet time, more tea, more chocolate.
  • Looking: Pretty tired – to say Little Red has been sleeping poorly of late would be an understatement. We don’t know why this is the case, but it’s not much fun (especially when you have to go to work in one of the busiest periods of the year). We’re thinking some sleep training is in order. On top of that, Indi and Bella have either been fighting through the windows with the neighbours’ cats or crying at our bedroom door to be let in. Kids and cats, hey? Who’d have ‘em?
  • Playing: At the park. A lot. 
  • Deciding: On my working future.
  • Wishing: Someone else would make hard decisions for me.
  • Enjoying: These few minutes of time out for myself (and my dandy chai – haven’t had one in a couple of months).
  • Waiting: For Little Red to wake up so we can hang out with one of my friends and her wee bub.
  • Liking: Working in the city one day a week. Mainly for all the smoothies, raw vegan treats and life it entails. I have actually put on weight since I got back from my holiday. Go figure!
  • Wondering: What to do on my solo retreat weekend away that starts tomorrow. (Yay!)
  • Loving: A place to call home. Days off work.
  • Pondering: How I can become a best-selling author and quit my day job to drink tea and write from my deck while admiring my handiwork in the garden.
  • Considering: The pros and cons of becoming a best-selling author so I can quit my day job to drink tea and write from my deck while admiring my handiwork in the garden.
  • Buying: Too many raw vegan treats.
  • Watching: I was watching A place to call home every single night until I ran out of episodes. Now it's Farmer wants a wife, the new series of NCIS and that's about it really. I need to do other stuff.
  • Hoping: They make a season 4 of A place to call home.
  • Marvelling: At Little Red’s ever-increasing vocabulary.
  • Cringing: At how whingy I’ve become of late.
  • Needing: To stop getting sucked into the procrastination tunnel via Facebook and random new stories about blackhead squeezing, the latest Die Hard movie or a new super food discovery.
  • Questioning: My self control (or lack thereof). Actually, I know I have little to no self control. There’s no questioning it. Who am I kidding?
  • Smelling: My deodorant. I’m not sure if I just picked up the wrong one or they’ve changed the recipe, but it’s a little stronger smelling than I remember.
  • Wearing: A long singlet top with Audrey Hepburn and her cat on it and a little orange cardi.
  • Following: Surprised by five. Incredible. (& good luck, lady!)
  • Noticing: The neighbour’s spot light that’s on outside (it’s 1.54pm so there’s no need for it). It’s been on for about five days straight. They’ve gone away on holiday I think but their parents are house/dog sitting for them. I should probably tell them it’s on in case they’ve forgotten.
  • Knowing: We all have it within ourselves to follow our dreams and passions. If we can find the motivation to get off our butts and do it.
  • Thinking: About our next holiday…
  • Admiring: Mum’s who cook properly every day.
  • Sorting: Out new menu options. Well, not really. But I should. That and a plan of action for our house and garden for the year.
  • Getting: Organised for the new year. Or intending to. There are a lot of things I want to get done. 
  • Bookmarking: Noisli.com
  • Coveting: Snow. We missed it by about two weeks on our trip and have come back to 40 plus days. 
  • Disliking: So much sport on TV. That the third season of A place to call home isn’t out on DVD yet.
  • Opening: Up to more people.
  • Giggling: At Little Red running around saying she loves everything. This morning it was my boy, me, Bella, Indi, tea and cake (she’s so my daughter).
  • Feeling: The love.
  • Snacking: Toasted spelt bread with honey and peanut butter, coconut ice cream, lots of fruit and just a wee bit of chocolate (of course)!
  • Helping: Little Red up and down steps (her latest obsession).
  • Hearing: Someone sawing something across the road. Ahh… the serenity.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Taking stock: November 2015.

The countdown is on until we fly out. In roughly four days' time my boy and I will no doubt be discussing what we still need to do/pack, probably in a rather heated manner. Thankfully, Little Red will be in daycare, so we can argue in peace without her hanging off our legs demanding bubbles or tea, or bubbles in her tea (the struggle is real).

A couple of weeks ago, my folks came to visit for their Little Red fix, and she delighted them with her large vocabulary, drawing ability and often violent tantrums. No seriously, my parents think it's hysterical, probably because I treated them to the same delights as a child. We also spent a lovely weekend away with my boy's family in Sorrento, where his parents lovingly called Little Red a Wild Child and told us she was very independent and feisty, and has endless energy. Yes, no question there. She also stared Santa down good and proper yesterday (I'm told she has inherited my 'look') and has developed the uncanny ability to wake from her nap the moment I finish my housework and make a cup of tea. Sometimes I doubt my parenting skills (until she demands tea, chocolate and a coaster for her bottle, that is).

It's been a full few weeks, with pre-Christmas festivities, work, harvesting the bounty from our garden, last minute travel bookings, and organising the house and garden for the house sitters (who we get to meet tomorrow). I've whipped the garden into shape (on the surface, anyway) and almost finished the dusting. I just have to convince my boy to clean the fridge and freezer now. Here's what else I've been up to.
  • Making: Lists. Lots of lists.
  • Cooking: Salad (it’s too hot to cook at the moment). A slow cooker version of a kale and lentil dhal without tomato or capsicum for my boy (it was cold last week). These two rather moreish slices for a pre-Christmas Christmas lunch with the in-laws – healthy peanut butter chocolate fudge and peanut butter rough. (They were delicious. I ate about four-fifths of them. Seriously.)
  • Drinking: Spicy chocolate rooibos tea, lemon myrtle-flavoured black tea, fizzy water, detox tea. I’ve run out of chai.
  • Reading: Not much. I’m the epitome of a working mum: time-poor and tired. But I have been flicking through the Lonely Planet’s Hong Kong guide book (at work, shhhh) and skimming the odd page of Buddhism for mothers of young children when I crawl into bed some nights (it’s actually an easier read than the first one). On the sidelines, waiting for the overseas trip, are The tea chest, Big magic and The lightkeeper’s wife. I’m pretty excited about these books and have high hopes that Little Red will sleep the entirety of each and every flight so I can read to my heart's content.
  • Wanting: More tea and chocolate. More down time. More interesting things to write here, but my wants are simple. 
  • Looking: Forward to a white Christmas (and Gluhwein).
  • Playing: Bubbles (still) and Talking Tom (iPhone ap that keeps Little Red entertained for minutes). As a side, did you know that in Aldi you can buy a Talking Tom soft toy that talks to you? They’re $50! I had to drag Little Red away from that aisle quick smart.
  • Deciding: What really needs to be done before we leave (and what can wait – like repainting the fire guard).
  • Wishing: I (and my boy) had more patience.
  • Enjoying: Spicy chocolate rooibos tea. Some peace and quiet.
  • Waiting: To see what my job will look like when I get back from overseas (if I have one). Still.
  • Liking: How much Little Red wants to help me.
  • Wondering: Whether or not I’ll ever finish a blog post in one go. It usually takes three or four sittings to complete one.
  • Loving: Our new family Christmas photos with Santa.
  • Pondering: A good daily routine that includes specific writing (and meditation and exercise) time.
  • Considering: Upgrading just my plane tickets to Business Class.
  • Buying: The bare minimum of Christmas presents for colleagues and neighbours (our family can wait until we get back for their exotic gifts from overseas (read: cheesy touristy airport souvenirs)). Lots of things to keep Little Red entertained on the planes. Herbs aplenty to keep everyone healthy while we’re away (my least favourite travel experiences have mostly related to travelling with my boy when he had man flu). 
  • Watching: Limitless and Quantico (not so taken with them anymore); Blindspot (I LOVE a show where girls kick butt); Home Fires (started watching it last night – it might grow on me). Can’t wait to watch Downton Abbey season 6. I will have to cram it all before the Downton Christmas Day special, which will be watched in front of the fire at my brother’s house, wine, whisky and chocolate in hand. (This makes it sound like I watch a lot of TV. I actually don’t.)
  • Hoping: There’s still snow when we get to England for Christmas (it’s snowed early this year) and that my garden is still alive when we get back.
  • Marvelling: At Little Red’s endless and speedy development. She’s one smart cookie. (I know, I know, every parent thinks that about their kid.)
  • Cringing: At my early attempts at literary genius.
  • Needing: To remember how to spell genius without spell checker.
  • Smelling: Pretty bad probably. I'm pretty sure I gave myself heat stroke weeding and pruning at lunchtime (hot tip: between 11 and 3, sit under a tree – don’t stand under the blazing sun pruning one).
  • Wearing: Short shorts, baggy singlet. It’s pretty toasty outside.
  • Following: I’m trying not to follow so much stuff online at the moment. It’s such a time and energy sucker.
  • Questioning: The value of a detox. I did one for three days the other week. I didn't prepare properly for it but seemed to manage ok. Apart from the lack of chai and chocolate.
  • Noticing: That Little Red is rather stubborn. (She gets that from her father.)
  • Knowing: I’m a good parent for not taking phenergen to drug Little Red on the plane.
  • Thinking: I’ll probably regret not taking phenergen to drug Little Red on the plane.
  • Admiring: My boy for working so hard to get his new job.
  • Sorting: Out the ever-increasing pile of recipes that I keep printing and have the best intentions of making in my quest to become The Perfect Housewife and Mother. They mostly just sit on the kitchen table and at each mealtime, I have to convince Little Red they’re not scrap paper for her to draw on while I feed her another piece of toast.
  • Getting: Equal parts excited and anxious about our trip (mainly anxious about the flying with a 20-month-old bit of it – the rest I’m super excited about).
  • Bookmarking: The aforementioned peanut butter-related slices, and this recipe for five-ingredient muffins 15 different ways. I’m clearly going through a peanut butter phase.
  • Coveting: A child who sleeps through the night. Every. Single. Night. That and patience.
  • Disliking: All the violence and gore on TV – real and fictional. 
  • Opening: Christmas cards.
  • Giggling: At the girls who went out of their way to make Little Red smile for our family Santa snap (well, they got her to stop crying at least).
  • Feeling: Tired. Little Red has more teeth on the move, which means she wakes up randomly during the night and it’s pot luck whether or not she (and the rest of us) goes back to sleep. 
  • Snacking: Chocolate Yogi frothy toffee and caramel chocolate bars. Actually, many, many different types of chocolate thanks to an early birthday present from my brother and his family. The aforementioned peanut butter-related slices. Smoothies. Rye fruit toast.
  • Helping: My boy prep for his job interview last week. Well, kind of. In the ad breaks of Limitless.
  • Hearing: Silence (almost). Little Red has been at daycare all day and I’ve been home actually getting stuff done. It’s been very quiet. Bliss.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Born to be wild.

After my puff piece on my Bella, in the interest of fairness, I should tell you a little about our other cat, Indi.

A little over seven years ago, after a relaxing weekend away in Daylesford, my boy and I stopped by a little 1970s blonde brick home in Broadmeadows (or what we affectionately refer to as Broady). Its garden was overgrown, the lawn was long and weedy, and there were broken bikes, scrap metal and hotted-up cars (probably Commodores) out the front. Now, Broadmeadows is not known for its gentry or curbside appeal, but more for its gang-related drug trade and occasional drive-by shootings and stabbings. (Or so the news tells us.)

My boy and I hadn’t decided to take up any illicit activities, but were there to take home a nine-week-old tortoiseshell kitten that one of my colleagues had told me about. The runt of the litter, we’d fallen for her feisty charms when she was just one-week-old, when she’d protested at us picking her up by pawing at us and trying to release a huge, open-jawed yowl that had only yielded a very, very, very faint squeak. We called her Indiana, after Indiana Jones, the great adventurer (and his family dog).

In the car on the way home, Indi clawed up my chest and stared out of the windows at the cars we passed, much to the amusement of the other drivers. At our little unit in Hawthorn, it wasn’t long before she disappeared. We found her fast asleep in her basket – she clearly already felt right at home.

Indi, somewhat like a dog (but more aloof), comes when my boy whistles. When she was little, she’d chase and carry foil balls around, playing soccer with them up and down our hallway. Sometimes we still find them under the couch and behind the TV cabinet.

Indi also thinks she’s our equal (but is more aloof). She’ll eat ice cream from a cone, takes up half the bed, and once I even saw her stand on her hind legs and, holding a twig of cat thyme in her front paws, walk across our courtyard. She (not I) was totally high on the stuff.

Indi is charming and friendly. When she chooses to be. In Hawthorn, she quickly made friends with our neighbours and their huge, grey fluffy cat, Winston. Each morning, Indi would run across our courtyard, jump the fence and bang on their back door until they let her in to see Winston (until then, an indoor-only cat). She would eat his gourmet food, race up and down their hall, then ask for them to both go out. She kept him out all hours, play fighting in our courtyard, chasing mice in the vacant lot behind our unit, and wandering along the rooftops, following birds and possums. She also introduced Winston to cat thyme, and the two of them would lie in the sun, staring at each other for hours, high as kites. It was a little like being back at uni, watching the stoners.

Here in our new home, she befriended a very old tabby, KC, who lived two doors down. He’d call her with the most agonizing, painful and extremely loud yowl, and she’d meet him in our neighbours’ garden, where they’d loll about in the long grass, watching the pigeons and parrots in the gum trees.

What Indi lacks in weight and size, she makes up for in spirit and courage. In Hawthorn, she fiercely battled the ginger cat who lived near us, unperturbed by the fact he was about four times her size. When my boy ended their first tussle with a quick squirt of the hose, she ran inside with the ginger’s claw sticking out of her head. Here, she patrols our garden each morning she goes out, doing a lap of the fence line before settling down in the sun for a nap or chasing geckos and mice. At night, she patrols our home, going from window to window to make sure it's all in order. And when the cats from across the street have the gall to sneak across her deck under the cloak of night, she fights them through the glass to let them know who's boss.

However, this courage doesn’t extend to birds, of which she has a particularly unfeline-like fear. 
We can usually pinpoint her location in the garden based on avarian activity. Birds gang up on her, squawking loudly and chasing her across the garden and in through the back door. She looks at us with confused embarrassment, as she slinks through the kitchen and downstairs to her domain. 

Nowhere near as openly affectionate or needy as Bella, Indi shows us she cares in her own way. Usually by sitting quietly beside my boy of an evening, back to him, letting him pat her. And while she’s clearly ‘his’ cat, if he’s away, she’ll sometimes show me the same courtesy.

An only child for several years, it took 10 months and Indi’s first head cold before she accepted Bella, who showed Indi such care and concern when she was sick that Indi couldn’t help but warm to her. Now they kiss and smooch and sniff each other with what seems to be genuine affection.

And as for Little Red? Well, Indi is curious and has sniffed her once or twice too, but we’re still waiting for the day she doesn’t flee when Little Red approaches her with a hearty “Hello”, arms flailing above her head in a wave.

Indi is not quite as feisty or adventurous as she once was (although her independence remains intact). In truth, she’s become a little quiet and nervy (I think it’s a tortoiseshell quirk, or perhaps it's just old age). She spends a lot of time indoors asleep these days, although she still demands to go out every day and will disappear for hours. She tires of the red dot game quickly, but sometimes I hear her secretly hitting one of Little Red’s balls around the dining room floor and I'm reminded of the tiny, wild ball of multicoloured fluff that we adopted seven years ago.

I don't know where the time goes. It doesn’t seem so long ago that we were driving to Broady to collect the runt of the litter, and laughing at her trying to jump up on the couch or from the couch to the coffee table when we got her home. The seven years since then have flown by, with so many changes (mostly good). And in that time, that runt has become ingrained within our family – naturally at the head of it.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Taking stock: October 2015.

I don't know about you, but the later in the year it is, the faster the time seems to go. (Unless you're 10 years old and waiting for the jolly old man in the red suit to visit and drink all of your dad's whisky in exchange for a new bike/Playstation/guitar/my little pony/whatever 10-year-old kids are into these days.)

So, with this in mind, my grand plans to regularly write here have taken second (or seventh) fiddle behind Little Red, work around the house and garden, work at work, and family and friends' functions, and the finite amount of time we all have in each day. But I'm getting there slowly, along with:

  • Making: New Year’s Eve plans for Hong Kong.
  • Cooking: Organic apples from the market to freeze for Little Red’s breakfast. Frittata for dinner. Beetroot from the garden to pickle for my boy.
  • Drinking: A big, big mug of strong, proper caffeinated chai to stave off my inclination for a nap. White tea. Green tea. Cider (it’s getting a wee bit warm for whisky).
  • Reading: Buddhism for mothers of young children (I bit the bullet and started reading this after I’d finished Don’t you forget about me, a pretty good trashy chick lit novel). I fell asleep two pages in. Not because it was boring, but because I am so very, very tired and couldn’t keep my eyes open.
  • Wanting: More sleep. More tea. More writing and reading time. Someone to pay me to sit on my deck and drink tea, write, read and garden.
  • Looking: Forward, ever so much, to hanging with my UK family. My cousin has set up this chat thing on Facebook for us all to update each other on important things like whisky drinking, what's for breakfast and tea, party plans, what we’re watching and so forth. It’s pretty fun (and pointless). My uncle and aunty have learnt to send pictures, videos and emoticons, and they’ve all ganged up against me not wanting to watch the new Star Wars movie. My brother also told me he’s all over making our Christmas booze (homemade bramble whisky, raspberry vodka and sloe gin). And we’ve planned to eat takeaway for Christmas lunch and dinner (a traditional Christmas feast at his place). I think I’ll need a good dose of St Mary’s Thistle (a liver tonic) when I get home.
  • Playing: Bubbles. Endless bubbles. Little Red’s fave thing to do right now.
  • Deciding: What posh hotel to book for New Year’s Eve.
  • Wishing: We were billionaires and could stay in the super posh hotels with stunning suites and harbor views that I’ve found online. (Not really. But they do look amazing.)
  • Enjoying: Little Red’s sleep time. She’s full of beans at the moment. My boy and I are completely exhausted.
  • Waiting: For the storm that’s due today, so I don’t have to water the garden.
  • Liking: Sitting here quietly on the deck, not too hot, not too cold, slight breeze in the trees, birds chatting, a hazy light over the treetops and across the land. It’s rather pleasant. Quiet and peaceful.
  • Wondering: Whether I’ll still be in my job at the end of the year (they still haven’t finalised or publicised restructuring plans). Ah well, it reminds me of this song I love.
  • Loving: 99 monkey’s hazelnut cacao spread. Nutella-like heaven and chocolatey nutty bliss in a convenient jar!
  • Pondering: Whether or not to refinance our home loan. All the experts say you should review it at least every five years, but it seems like rather hard work.
  • Considering: Whether or not to bite the bullet and start freelancing and clinical work.
  • Buying: All sorts of goodies from the market, including a big bag of apples and lemons, broccoli, eggs, 99 monkey’s peanut butter and hazelnut cacao spread, Lebanese and long cucumber seedlings to grow for Little Red, and a large soy chai latte for me. (That’s what happens when my boy leaves me to solo parent on market day!)
  • Watching: An array of trashy new US crime- and spy-related shows, like Limitless and Quantico. Also still loving 800 words and HYBPA. Actually, the latter are still my current favourites. Wanting to watch Indian summers and Home fires. They look right up my alley.
  • Hoping: Little Red has a big, big, big nap.
  • Marvelling: At my good friend’s new baby. She’s three and a bit weeks old, and so tiny and beautiful. I don’t remember Little Red being that small and fragile.
  • Needing: Motivation to do stuff (other than drink tea, eat chocolate and nap).
  • Questioning: Whether or not I need to fill in ALL of the points in this Taking stock template (I think the answer I’m looking for is: no).
  • Smelling: Like rosemary still, I'm sure (I whipped the hedges into shape).
  • Wearing: Happy pants and a singlet top (seriously, it’s almost summer – this is my standard uniform on any given day I’m not at work. And some days I am at work).
  • Following: A new Deepak meditation series starting in November. I was in the middle of one when I had Little Red, didn’t finish it, and haven’t done one since (they are a bit time consuming). Wish me luck!
  • Noticing: I can actually function relatively well if I go to bed before 10pm. Duh.
  • Knowing: I should go to bed before 10pm.
  • Thinking: It’s not long til our trip and I need to get a million things done beforehand. (See Needing above…)
  • Admiring: People who have the willpower to not eat everything in sight. 
  • Sorting: Out my tax return (finally).
  • Getting: Excited about the long weekend (in Melbourne). We’re spending it with my folks in Wodonga, which means I get to forget the mess here for a few days (see Disliking below).
  • Bookmarking: This four ingredient no bake banana bread blondie recipe and tourist guides on what to do while we’re in Hong Kong on the homeward leg of our trip.
  • Coveting: Child-free people’s spare time.
  • Disliking: All the weeds in the garden and how untidy the house is. I remember the glorious (pre-child) days of spotlessness, cleanliness, organisation, structure and spare time. Sigh.
  • Giggling: At the randomness of stuff Little Red does every day.
  • Feeling: Grateful. And hayfevery.
  • Snacking: On 99 monkey’s hazelnut cacao spread by the (multiple table)spoonful.
  • Hearing: A lot of birds out here. And people revving cars. It’s like I’m in a zoo or bird park or something at Phillip Island.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Taking stock: September 2015.

So, I'm going to try to get some structure and consistency happening here. My goal is to 'take stock' at the end of each month. Unless I forget. Then it'll be when I remember and have time. 

It's been a quiet month or so really. We've had several bouts of sicknesses, nothing serious. And many sleepless nights, which I consider to be very serious. 

My lovely parents came and visited us last week (even though it's really my turn to visit them  I couldn't face a three-hour car trip each way with a screaming toddler). They timed it perfectly to give us the love needed to help me and Little Red get over our respective bugs and sleeplessness. Parenting definitely gives you a new appreciation and love for your own parents.

We also spent some nice time with my boy's family, and his folks babysat while we had a hot date night. Hot date nights are fine in theory, but Little Red always seems to know... and decided to stay up most of the night crying, then wake early to start her day. 

I've also been:
  • Making: The most of quiet time while Little Red naps.
  • Cooking: Banana and coconut cake
  • Drinking: Peppermint tea. Green tea. White tea. My favourite dandy chai. The odd whisky... (In other news, I have evidence that proves Little Red is related to me. She can now say 'tea', and loves drinking it. I think it makes her feel grown up and special. I think tea makes us all feel a little that way, actually. She is also obsessed with visiting the veggie garden each morning and eating snow peas straight off the vine. Case closed.)
  • Reading: This Charming Man (I don’t rate it so far. Most sentences in the first part lack several things that my keen Editor’s eye considers to be vital, like subjects and objects. It grates. Even worse, I find the narrative in my head taking on the same literary 'quirk'. Annoying. I’ll have to visit my local library for another book this week in my continued attempt to avoid reading Buddhism for mothers of young children. Any excuse to visit the library, really).
  • Wanting: Someone else to do all of the work around the house that the cleaner doesn't. I would love a holiday from being a mum/home owner/home occupier. Being a grown up is tiring!
  • Looking: At the leaves sprouting on bare branches around the garden – nature amazes me.
  • Playing: On swings at the park. Little Red is obsessed with swings. It takes me back to when I was a little girl and spent hours after school and on weekends on the swings. There is something quite therapeutic about swinging back and forth, staring at the sky.
  • Deciding: Where to stay on our Christmas holiday… still.
  • Wishing: I didn’t have to go to work tomorrow.
  • Enjoying: The lovely sunny spring day.
  • Waiting: For our Christmas holiday. Two and a half months and counting – yay!
  • Liking: That I’ll be in the city for the next two weeks for work. I’m predicting it’ll be a massive pain organising us to get out the door earlier, but I’ll be sharing an office with a good friend of mine (I’m usually on my lonesome) and can indulge in healthyish vegan raw treats in schmancy city cafes (you don’t get those out in the sticks where my usual workday occurs). I might even hit my boy up for a lunch date or two now he's city based.
  • Wondering: How my gorgeous friend copes with three little kidlets – twin boys (six months old) and a girl (almost 2.5 years old). We had a lovely play date in a nearby park this morning. She’s a (very patient and loving) star. So is her husband.
  • Loving: That Little Red has slept through the past few nights. Recently it's been like having a newborn baby again, with her – and me – up all hours. Actually, it’s been worse than when she was newborn. Add to that various sicknesses and possible teething. Remind me why people have kids again?
  • Pondering: Whether or not to buy a new fridge, and how much longer our old fridge will last (it's got to be at least 20 years old now, and like most ladies of a certain age, is starting to leak). 
  • Considering: My career options/desires. Whether or not to have more cake. (The important things in life.) 
  • Buying: New bathers. Basic black to hide a multitude of (usually chocolate-related) sins.
  • Watching: 800 words. A quirky new Australian drama. It’s nice and light-hearted. Have you been paying attention? is still also getting serious air time. I just watched The Age of Adeline. It's a nice girly film, although the ending was a little weak.
  • Hoping: Little Red warms to eating more solid ‘solid’ food soon. 
  • Marvelling: At how just a year and a bit ago, Little Red was a mini, immobile blob, and now she's literally running around the house by herself, constantly carrying, doing, wanting and saying (that is, yelling) things. The poor cats.
  • Cringing: At The Bachelor/Bachelorette. My boy loves those shows. They make me want to throw something very heavy and sharp at the television. 
  • Needing: A massage. 
  • Questioning: Our ‘need’ for so much stuff.
  • Smelling: Jasmine and wisteria.
  • Wearing: Purple and white happy pants featuring elephants, a black singlet top and light orange cardi. Fashion 101 starts here.
  • Following: This ex-serviceman/Afghanistan veteran and his dog Trigger's big walk around Australia to raise awareness and money for post traumatic stress disorder. Go him! 
  • Noticing: How quickly time is passing. 
  • Knowing: How very, very, very lucky we are. We have safety, security, abundant food, clean running water, electricity, gas, warmth, cooling, beds, gardens, jobs, good free healthcare, travel, friends, family, love. The veritable works. There are so many other people who aren’t as blessed. Especially those fleeing Syria, who are putting it all on the line.
  • Thinking: I need to start ticking more things off my 'To do' list. 
  • Admiring: The lovely gardens in my area at the moment (especially mine). There are so many gorgeous flowers out, the grass is lush green, the bushes and trees are thickening, the bees are buzzing, the air is full of different floral perfumes. It's like a Monet painting, but sharper and more fragrant.
  • Sorting: Out my tax. Better late than never.
  • Getting: More sleep – yay! 
  • Bookmarking: This awesome interview Marie Forleo did with Elizabeth Gilbert (of Eat, pray, love fame).
  • Coveting: Nil.
  • Disliking: Yappy dogs.
  • Opening: Little Red’s first passport – it’s pretty adorable. As a side, she just pipped me at the post for how old she was when she got her first passport. I was almost a year older than her when I got my first passport, or technically joined mum on hers. Red also beat her dad by about 20 years.
  • Giggling: At the two big, fat ducks that just landed most unceremoniously on the deck roof. The roof is clear, so I can see the shape of their big webbed feet waddling along above me. They’re moving to the edge, surveying the landscape, wondering where to go for their next snack. Hopefully it’s into my veggie patch and they sort the snails out.
  • Feeling: A bit sore – I’ve hurt my back. Woe is me!
  • Snacking: See 'Cooking' above – Banana and coconut cake. It's totally addictive. Especially with almond butter and (sugar-free) cherry jam. I may be responsible for eating no less than half of it to date.
  • Helping: My work colleague interview people to fill a vacancy in his team. No matter which side of the fence you're on in an interview, it's always a bit icky. But more so for the person being interviewed, of course. I sit there for the half hour sending the interviewee peace and love, hoping it telepathically takes some of the edge off.   
  • Hearing: The next door neighbours’ inlaws’ dog yapping. Non. Stop. (Peace and love. Peace and love. Peace and love.)