Thursday, 29 December 2011

Christmas 2011

Our Christmas was full on and over-the-top, as usual, and the kids had a ball, as usual.

Every year I oscillate between acceptance and panic as the scale of our Christmas(es) with our many large, boisterous & excessively generous families dawns on me.

Every year, at some point, I try to hatch plans for what we could do less of; how we could reduce the avalanche of gifts; how it could be contained, somehow. And every year, at some point, I watch the sheer joy that it brings the kids and I surrender.

I have yet to find a balance...

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Melbourne - 3 month review

So it's been three months since we moved to Melbourne. That went fast!

I have to admit to having been very reluctant to move down here from Canberra. It wasn't that Melbourne didn't sound like a great city, with interesting laneways, good food, community gardens, lots of bikes, crafty people & markets, etc.

It was just that Canberra was working for me. We have a great group of friends - many with kids. My mothers group is awesome. Lil loved her school and has some truly excellent friends. We have heaps of family in Canberra and they gave us a lot of help and support - as well as being good company... I really didn't want to leave all that to move to a place where we knew no one (especially for Paul to start a job that involved a ton of international travel).

And yet... It has actually gone pretty well.

We've landed in a great spot. I really like our neighbourhood and I think we may live in one of the friendliest streets around.

Our immediate neighbours are lovely. The people next door have a 3yo boy, which thrills Lily, and they are super friendly (we just got home from a Xmas party at their house actually).

Next door to them are a couple who just moved to Melbourne, to spend more time with their granddaughters. They look after their two grandchildren (2yo and 4yo) twice a week and we now have a regular Monday playdate, which Lil looks forward to all week. Last Monday her and the 4yo played for five hours straight with no arguments. They were in and out of our houses and backyards. At one point we had them out on the footpath with bikes, scooters and toys. We were shortly joined by the woman who lives a few doors down and her two young kids and then by the next door neighbour and her 3yo. A spontaneous street playgroup! It was lovely.

The rest of the street is also friendly. Lots of people sit on their front porch and say 'hi' when you pass. Like K who lives a few doors down who invited Paul & Lil in for cookies and her life story, and told us to help ourselves to her lemon tree. She's lived here for 50 years, having moved into the house on arrival from Italy. Or V down the road who has lived here for 40 years (also from Italy). She often stops Charlie and I for a chat when we go out for our evening stroll.

The street has a Christmas party every year. They close off part of the street and people drag out tables, chairs, bbqs, music equipment, food, etc. they even hung a 'chandelier' this year. We went along with a gingerbread house to share (& dinner, dips & sparkling wine). Everyone was friendly. One person took Lil & I into their backyard to pick raspberries and told us to help ourselves anytime. Another proudly showed me his clumping bamboo. Lily made friends with some 'big girls' who played with her very caringly. It was a great night.

Beyond our street I've joined a new mothers group and it's truly fabulous. Everyone is so supportive and friendly, and, as a bonus, they all practice AP, which is pretty cool for me.

Plus Lil starts a new school next year and after four weeks of orientation I'm happy to report that I think it's a winner. One of the women from my new mothers group has kids at the school, including a daughter who will be starting with Lil. Last week we sat up the back of the info session and talked like naughty school kids. Old habits die hard.

Finally, well, Melbourne is actually a cool city. We have a cute cafe around the corner from our house that does great coffee and food. And this is normal! The food is good. The little shops are fun. The laneways downtown are cute... Plus there is cool stuff for the kids like the Collingwood Childrens Farm, the Zoo, kid space at the NGV, ArtPlay, etc...

So yeah. It's going better than I expected. Not that I don't miss everyone in Canberra...

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Letter to Charlie - 14 months

Dear Charlie

Last week you turned 14 months old. It feels as though you have really turned a corner and are now a fully-fledged toddler. You walk, you run, you climb, you explore and you communicate - though not so much with fully-formed words as yet.

As usual with these huge developmental leaps, it has been so fascinating to see more of your personality emerge as you have learned all these new skills over the last two months. You have a very keen (cheeky) sense of humour and it is a lot of fun to see you use it to make yourself and others laugh. You still have a fantastic laugh!

You are really into music and rhythm. Lily has been keen on Mary Poppins lately and you started copying her 'tap dancing' to Step In Time. Now it is your thing. When you hear some groovy music, or even hear someone say 'Step In Time' you tend to launch into a full tap dancing routine. You do it with such intense concentration and your little legs move incredibly fast. It is almost unbearably cute.

You also love to hear us sing and have recently discovered which books contain songs and, when presented to an adult, will lead to singing. Last night you snuggled up on my lap and insisted that I read/sing a song book of about 20 songs to you four time in a row. I was only able to stop when you starting dropping off against my shoulder. You were captivated.

Papa had to go to Africa for work recently and your grandparents came down to stay with us for a while. When Grandma Meg was here and Lil was at preschool we walked around the corner with you to our local cafe. I let you walk the whole way since you clearly didn't want to be carried and it seemed to open up a world of possibility in your mind. Since then you have been on ready alert for the front gate to open. When it does you try to shoot out so that you can go for a stroll in the neighbourhood. I often let you and just follow along behind you. You like to stop and the pick flowers the grow out from under the fences and generally give the street a fairly close inspection. I can see why you are keen on it.

Another passion of yours is watering the plants (and the pavers, the trampoline, yourself...). As soon as we get outside (which you beg to do as soon as you get up) you trot over and grab a watering can. If it has rained the night before you then use it to collect water from the cover of your sandpit. Otherwise you bring it to me (or Papa), saying "More?" until we fill it up for you from the tap. You generally start out by watering the veggies, but within minutes you also manage to water yourself thoroughly. It has certainly increased the laundry pile, but you enjoy it so much that I can't bring myself to refuse.

As always Charlie, it's been a pleasure hanging out with you. Your sunny, calm disposition brings a lovely balance to our household and it is so fun to watch you explore and learn so many new things every day.


Friday, 9 December 2011


Lil's preschool did a graduation concert yesterday. They dressed the kids up in caps and gowns, which was hilarious, if a little odd. Lil thought it was excellent.

Lil has also been doing a few practice sessions at her school in preparation for next year. While she's in her classroom I've been up in the library with the other parents hearing about what they'll do next year.

It's really making it hit home that we're about to have a school-age child. How on earth did that happen?

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Creamy cashew dressing

I'm currently obsessed with this dressing. It's truly delicious and very easy to make.

1/2 cup of cashews (preferably soaked first, but it's ok if they're not)
The juice of one lemon
1 tsp lemon zest
2/3 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil
Sea salt to taste

Blend all the ingredients together until smooth and creamy. Adjust water for desired consistency.

The better your blender, the smoother it will be, but cashews are fortunately pretty soft (especially when soaked).

Use on salads or sandwiches.


Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Christmas is coming

Lil has overcome her fear of Santa and is now all about him. She wrote him a letter and posted it in a special post box downtown. In it she asked for some new textas, a pen to write on boxes with, and a bucket and spade for Charlie. Joke's on me for buying her a camera!

Paul went to Africa for work and my parents came down to help us out (one at a time). While Dad was down he took Lil into Myer to meet Santa. She got to ride on 'Santa's train' after lining up for fifty million years. Apparently it was worth it.

On Saturday our new street held its annual Christmas party. They closed the street and people brought out tables, chairs and bbqs. There were also bands playing and children zooming around on bikes and scooters. We made a gingerbread house for the occasion. Lil was in heaven. Our neighbours are truly lovely.

On Sunday we went downtown again to 'Christmas Square' and Lil met Santa again. We got our photo taken (for free hurray) and he gave Lil some stickers and a DVD. She wanted to go back and see him again immediately.

I feel totally unprepared for Christmas this year. I'm hoping my brain will start to get on top of it fairly soon...


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