Thursday, 28 May 2009

Tucked Up in Bed

This week's exercise from Meet Me At Mike's:
I love being in bed. Love it, love it, love it. I like nothing better than to be in bed, surrounded by food and things to read.
The Princess and the Pea always seemed such a sad story to me. All those mattresses, and still not comfy!! It made being a princess seem a terrible drag.
I have a splendid bed. My friends gave it to me because it's too soft for them. It's just right for me, doesn't make my back sore, and it's plenty big enough for Sweeney to pile in when he likes, with books and toys and the cat.
I used to be able to sleep in all day if I had nothing I had to do. I can't do that now. I like getting up and doing stuff nowadays.
Making a nice bed for Sweeney has always been a pleasure. Sometimes it's been a very primitive affair, like the world's worst portacot we were given at a motel back when he was just a few months old. He took up hardly any space in it, and we cobbled together sumptuous bedding for him from our blankets and coats.
When he was sick with strep throat, he lay on the sofa at P Lane and let each of us cuddle him in turn. In a sense, it was bliss. Seeing him snuggled up with his Nana while she sang a song for him and Harper made me all happy inside.
I love how babies and kids look a little bit chubbier and shinier when they're all snug and asleep. So rosy.
I've slept in some glorious places. The bed I'm proudest of is the hammock I slept in on the verandah of our hut on the beach at Koh Chang. Every night dogs and other mysterious-sounding animals cruised between the huts and snuffled around under the huts. Mosquitoes drilled into any flesh that wasn't behind nailed-down net. The waves lapped in the distance, and I saw the sun come up over palm trees and white sand each morning.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Love in a Cold Climate

Oh, brrrrr. A southerly that made the news, rain that just beats on and on and on, temperature that refuses to jump too far into double figures. Sometimes Wellington's quite hard going.
When we got home this afternoon, we kept warm by doing chores. Genius move, it turns out. Chores that have been accusing me with their undone-ness for days were ticked off before dinner, then there was dinner, then I did more chores while Sweeney kicked back with his warm milk and watched Crufts on telly. Crufts!!
Sweeney's bed was freshly made when he climbed into it, his face was washed and his teeth were brushed. Even the cat was looking smart.
Sweeney's books and toys are all stowed, our shoes are all hung up on the shoe rack, clothes and towels are all folded and put away and the only dishes on the bench are from dinner. The washing's done and on the drying frame, Sweeney's bag is packed for preschool on Monday, the compost is in the compost bin, my bedroom is almost completely tidy.
The only shame of it is that there are still about a million chores that need doing, but that's tomorrow's business, I think. Right now, I'm off for some knitting in front of Poirot, until I go subzero ...

Wednesday, 20 May 2009


This week's exercise from Meet Me at Mikes! ...

About ten days ago, Sweeney and I came home from our day and as usual, I asked him what he felt like for dinner. Normally, the answer is "ice block" or "bubble drink", but on this day he asked for spaghetti bogwugrrh. I'm no superlinguist, or even a superlinguini-ist, but I figured he meant to repeat the delightful meal he'd had at KimberleyJoeHarper's earlier in the week.
To make the whole making-dinner part of the day even more abominable than normal, Sweeney really wanted to help. He had his chair out from under the table and planted up at the bench double-quick, then vied with me for control of the garlic and the biggest, shiniest, pointiest knife immediately after.
Whatever kitchen spirits were looking down on us at that moment, something made me give him the little board, a steak knife and half an onion, with instructions to get on with it and not hurt himself.
And so we went on. When all the chopping was done, he moved his chair in front of the stove and took ownership of my favourite wooden stirring-thing. He tried so hard to empty all the vegetables into the pan without any spills, then the meat. He stirred deliberately - "shrolly", which I've learnt means "slowly" - and hardly torpedoed anything out of the pan.
He was happy for me to empty the chopped tomatoes into the mix myself. Then more stirring, shrolly. Then he managed to stay careful of the pot of boiling water on his left, even while loading spaghetti into it.
I guess it's that he's a little bit older and understands consequences and follows instructions and all that stuff, a little better than he used to. And I'm a bit better at seeing what direction he's moving in most of the time, and keeping in mind what we need to be doing thirty seconds from now.
He was so pleased with himself - check out the big grin with the pots - and continues to be so through all of our joint cooking and baking exploits since then.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Do Nothing

So much has happened since my last post, and it's all happened through a fog of what's felt like a threatening migraine. I think it's over now.
Today I got my reading mojo back. I spent most of the day surrounded by unfolded washing and dirty dishes, reading The Mayor of Casterbridge. What a yarn. I think the media survey from last week made me so aware of what telly I actually watch, and what telly I just have on in the background, and what telly I let Sweeney watch, that this week we've hardly had the thing on at all. Well, it is only Tuesday.
To be honest, though, is it better, more worthy, to read, say, the Gaskell novels that constitute the Cranford series, than to watch the TV adaptation?? I guess I wouldn't get so much out of the millions of Austen adaptations if I hadn't read the books a bunch of times already, but I'd still enjoy them. But then there are the people who loved Lord of the Rings, and were near-suicidal at the films. And I'm having a few conniptions around the proposed casting for the Tintin movie, and I wouldn't rate myself as that rabid a fan ...
This year, I decided to read only what's on my shelves already. No trips to the library, no buying books, no borrowing books. It's May and I feel that this is the first book I have a real chance of finishing. Actually, I think this is the first book since I struggled through Charlotte's Web just after Sweeney was born, that I've felt like that about. Some Pig.
Sweeney's reading has taken a whole new direction. Amazing You emerged from his vast stockpile a few days ago. It's all about kids understanding their genitals, and has a lot of lovely illustrations and a reasonably no-nonsense style. I skim past the stuff about girls, and apart from being chuffed at the story of his dad cutting his umbilical cord, he glazes over at the stuff about how babies are made and end up on the outside of their mums. He likes the illustrations.
And On a Tall, Tall Cliff. I think I picked this up at The Warehouse for about 10 cents one day about a year ago because I liked the illustrations. Busby asks his friend Puffle to do him some extraordinary favours, and Puffle gets a bit ticked off, but does it, and it all turns out great. Friends trust each other and don't always need to understand exactly what's going on for things to still turn out great. It's a gem.

Friday, 15 May 2009


Remember? The time we heard an almighty catfight noise coming from outside and we went out to have a look, and Dad hissed at me, Mum and Kimberley to get back into the house. There was a wee kitten on the back step, his fine little guts open and outside his body, mewing with a small kitten voice, while our cat prowled and grrrred and circled him. Dad took the kitten and killed it, and was upset the rest of the night.
Remember? The night I complained so much about having to go to bed that Dad made me stay up until telly closed down. Thank goodness it was before 24-hour programming.
Remember? There was a loose brick in the steps to Nana's clothesline that was always loose, all my life at least. Undoing the ropes to bring the line down, hanging the clothes out, then tying the ropes up again. Seeing how high the lines would go, the cold wind off the river whipping the clothes and sheets around.
Remember? Playing at the Bristow's, spending most of the day running between the trees in their garden. Helping Jenny to feed the cats in the cattery. We were up in the tree house, and it'd taken me ages and a lot of summoned-up-from-air courage to get up there - I didn't want to seem like a little girl with Jenny and Adam - when Mrs Bristow called out to me from the house, that Dad was on the phone. Jenny and Adam must've known what it was about, because all of a sudden, everyone was shouting to me to hurry, and I freaked out so much that I didn't climb down the ladder, I just slid down the trunk and could feel the insides of my legs all skinned and sore as I ran to the house. Then Dad was telling me that I had a little sister, and it was the first time that words seemed too big to deal with right now. I wanted to tell him that my legs were sore, and that I'd climbed up to the tree house by myself, but I knew it wasn't the time.
Remember? Lying in bed, reading a book about Greeks with Mum. She explained to me about Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and Alexander the Great. The things I learned that day have come in handier than you'd think.
Remember? The taste of Nana's chops, Mum's roast chicken, Dad's bacon and eggs, Kimberley's dauphinoise, Martin's spag bol, anything by Ruth or Ginny, Fidel's eggs benedict, Colonial Cafe's apple shortcake ...
Remember? The day that Sweeney was born and his upper lip was so enormous.
Remember? The day that Harper was born and his nose seemed so enormous.

Check out other Remember? contributions from Meet Me at Mike's. I'm looking after Harper this afternoon, and he's reminding of how Sweeney used to potter around the house when he was that age.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009


Being sick is such a drag. One of my resolutions for the year is to keep healthy, and it only takes a day or three of feeling sub-optimal to remind myself of why it made the list. Sweeney's great, but outside of preschool, during the week, he only has me to play with, so I need my best game at all times. Thank goodness for Sudafed.
I'm taking part in a survey related to telly viewing and radio listening habits. I don't want to out myself as a viewer of utter garbage, nor do I want to lie to a survey, so I'm making an effort to clean up my viewing act. It's made me realise that I don't actually seriously watch much - more usually there'll be something on while I'm cooking or doing chores about the house, or reading blogs, or crafting, and I'm in and out of the room, or even the house.
Sweeney's been watching a programme called Yo Gabba Gabba in the morning. I know, I know, it makes me the world's worst parent, but the show itself's actually not so bad, and breakfast goes into his body, just like that. The alternative is for breakfast to take ninety minutes of sitting at the table with him, and reminding him, reminding him, reminding him to eat, so I'm all for letting telly help me out. This morning, Mark Mothersbaugh, one of my teenage heroes, was a guest.
And before anyone says that I should just let Sweeney not eat his breakfast in the morning, just don't go there, girlfriends ... we have a twenty-or-so minute walk each morning to preschool, and he needs a full tank of gas before we hit the road.
Speaking of preschool, today was Pyjama Day. The kids all came in their pyjamas, and the teachers were in their pyjamas. There was a slumber party area - bowls of popcorn, a dvd of the Bee Movie - as well as the usual things that go on at preschool. Sweeney was excited about wearing his pyjamas with his friends. For most parents, it was a dream come true - no arguments about what to wear today.
Here's Sweeney with his lovely friend, Olivia. In their pyjamas. Thanks, EIK!!

Monday, 11 May 2009

La Mer

Busy day. Sweeney and I whizzed out to Silverstream to see Sweeney's Grandma at the Home of Compassion. We joined her and Grandad O'Neill for Mass and a hot drink and a visit afterwards. Sweeney got a lot of attention, what with being the youngest there by about 700 years.
Picked up Harper for a bit of respite for his flu-ridden parents, and we headed out to see Sweeney's Granny - his great-grandmother - in Alicetown. The two boys pottered around at her house and got a lot of biscuits when they all thought I wasn't looking ...
Back to Wellington, and we did some running up and down Lyall Bay in the frrreeeeezing cold. Dropped Harper off and home to call my own mother.
Long story short - love you, Mum!! Love you, Kimberley!! Love you, Sweeney!!

Friday, 8 May 2009

Home on the (O)range

I've just made these glorious muffins and, I know it's silly to read too much into things, but I really didn't believe they'd turn out okay, but they have, and on such a grotty, chilly day where the most interesting thing I expect to be doing is paying the gas and power bill, which just kills me because of the trauma of having both the gas and power misbehaving, to have your muffins come out okay, when they went in all sloppy-looking like they did, feels like a triumph on the same level as emerging alive from Auschwitz.
Thanks, Louise, for the recipe!!

Thursday, 7 May 2009

I See Red

Sweeney cut preschool yesterday afternoon, we grabbed Bela and trundled out to meet Joe and Harper at Pataka to see the I See Red exhibition. It's the second time I've been to it - we went last year in Christchurch - and I still haven't seen more than about twenty seconds of the exhibition itself. There really is no point taking two excitable preschoolers, no matter how delightful you think they are, if you want to see the beautiful art. There's a lot of interactive bizzo for the kids, but even that didn't absorb them as much as running around in the lovely spaces and shouting at each other. Harper of course was his usual sunny self and happy to toddle about being chirpy and under control.
On the drive out there, they sat in the back seat and chatted. On and on and on until I was grateful for the terrible weather distracting me from them. Gorgeous, though. I realised I'd never heard Sweeney have a conversation of any length with another kid before. I know he has great pals at preschool, but I don't see a whole lot of that in action. It's usually him and me and/or other adults, or him and some other kid who's a bit older or younger to talk to him on exactly his level.
On the drive back, they sat in the back seat and displayed innumerable signs of tiredness. It was looking like someone was going to have be expelled from the car - I vote that it's me!! - but a bag of sultanas was located and previous chirp levels were restored.
Brilliant. Back at Bela's house, we all agreed that this will happen more.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Orange Crush

KimberleyJoeHarper have been helping out a whole lot with Sweeney the last few weeks, so to try to work my way back to some credit, I offered to do Kimberley's baking for Ronald McDonald House today. They're getting an orange cake. It's delicious, and easy, and it makes use of a couple of oranges in the bowl. Here's how it goes:

1 whole orange, washed and processed to a pulp (including skin), 125 g melted butter, 1 cup sugar, 2 med-large eggs, 1&1/2 cups self raising flour.

Process the orange first then mix in sugar, butter and eggs. Fold in the flour. Bake in the oven at 180 C for 35-40 mins. Also nice if you use a lemon instead of an orange.

It was chilly here this morning. I roasted some vegetables for soup, and that warmed the place up nicely. The weather outlook is for a drop to 11 degrees for the next few days. 11 degrees! Sweeney's determined to have either bare or wet feet at the moment, and usually both. We bicker about his footwear quite a bit.
He's sitting at the table drinking some warm milk and playing with his trucks, singing Twinkle Twinkle. So nice ...

Monday, 4 May 2009

Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want

Sweeney's theme of the morning ... At least he says Please.
About me, my favourite thing at the moment is Roses Lime Marmalade. I can't get Enough. It's on special at Woolworths right now, and I can't get Enough. Sweeney had a nibble of my toast yesterday and made like he wanted some and I ran through my rolodex-in-my-mind of reasons why that wouldn't be a good idea. Because, you see, if he had some, then there mightn't be Enough for me.
Oooh, we are a horrible pair, today. I'll feel better once I've had some marmalade and toast for my lunch.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

I Don't Know How To Love Him

Or I Don't Know Why I Bother. Good grief, I'm cowering in the corner while my child, who was sleeping gorgeously fifteen minutes ago, screams and wails and slumps on cushions.
No, wait, the noise is dying down, his head's no longer spinning. Those apple slices must be metabolising in him.
In other, happier, news, this is what we've been reading this week. I'm not sure what the message in The Cat in the Hat Comes Back is, but it's fun.
Willy and Hugh is lovely. Sweeney's got a number of books about boys being misfits, but gain acceptance somehow or other. Willy's a loner chimp and Hugh's a gorilla who runs into him. Long story short - they complete each other.
The runner-up in the misfit story category is called Oliver Button is a Sissy, about a boy who likes to dance, not play games with boys or watch sport on telly. He takes part in a talent show, doesn't win, but his parents think he's terrific and the kids at school who thought he was a dork show that they're really quite impressed. He's so used to being dissed, he takes the newfound admiration in stride.
It was a nice lull, but Sweeney's now insisting that he'll be going to bed in his clothes tonight. Time to go parent like crazy ...
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