Thursday, 30 July 2009

Morning Fog

What is going on when you have a morning off and you wake up at 5.30am and no matter what you do, there's no more sleep? I lay there with my eyes closed until I heard Kimberley head out and the neighbours start moving around next door, then I got up and had a quiet, all-by-myself breakfast.
Nice to walk to preschool in a leisurely manner, rather than the usual semi-frantic loading of Sweeney and all his stuff into the car, arguing over what music we should be listening to, hoping against hope that no-one's blocking the street today etc etc. And that's just the little bit between breakfast, dressing and cleaning up, and actually getting on the road to preschool.
Got a little inspired by praire mouse's account of knocking up some chicken soup, so ... I knocked up some chicken soup for my dinner. With broccoli, carrots and noodles. Perfect food. Sweeney laps this stuff up, but he had dinner earlier with the neighbours.
Yes, he's been out for dinner a few nights this week without me. Who knew three years old was the new black? Neighbours are clamouring for a go at him right now. You know how it takes a village to raise a child? Well, I'm mobilising my village so that Sweeney doesn't have to be tethered to a power pole outside his preschool when I have to work late. He had a great time with Kate and JB last night, and tonight with the Ls next door.
Thanks, neighbours!!

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Things'll Never Be the Same

Status report for the week so far. Yes, I know it's only Tuesday, but it feels like ... Thursday, maybe.
  • The behaviour chart is working great. Well, when I say that, I mean that Sweeney's motivated by the idea of a sticker turning up at the end of a bit of tooth brushing or toy tidying. I put a wild card task on the chart - to leave preschool nicely each afternoon - and tonight, when it looked like he was going to melt down and exit the building kicking every bit of the walls he could reach, I reminded him of the sticker waiting for him at home. Calm prevailed. How does this sit with the idea that we don't bribe our kids to behave well? I'm hoping that eventually the memory of those happy days peeling stickers and putting them onto his chart will be all the incentive he needs to get him to wash his face and brush his teeth. My own face and teeth have never had so much regular attention, to be sure;
  • Tomorrow is Pirate and Princess Day at preschool. Sweeney's pretty excited about it. His outfit is genius, if I do say so myself. Possibly not how real pirates have ever looked ... ;
  • We've got a fresh houseguest this week - Kimberley's sleeping here for a couple of nights. Sweeney's perplexed - she came over after he'd gone to bed last night, and left before he woke up this morning, so I don't think he really believes that she was here;
  • I went retail-nuts yesterday and bought Sweeney a duvet and pillows, to fill the beautiful duvet cover and pillowcase the W-Ds gave him for his birthday. For a month now, I've seen it every day and thought the pattern was of vintage cars, but no, it turns out it's jeeps. Jeeps!! Jeeps from every angle - top, bottom, cross-sections, the whole bit - and a few spark plugs and come cogs and gears and what-have-you. Sweeney loves his Thomas blanket, but he luurrves his Jeep duvet;
  • We had Loafapolooza at the M-N's last night. Chicken loaf - yum - followed by banana and berry loaf - superyum. Sweeney came out with some spoons for our dessert, and when I asked him who the extra one was for, he said "that's for my dad" and all the air left the room for a second or two. Then he and Bela resumed running through the house making animal noises;
  • We had spaghetti bolognese for dinner tonight. A lovely woman gave me a bag of kiwifruit yesterday, and Sweeney and I ate lots afterwards. Felt nice to sit at the "big table" and eat and chat together, and not have to do a single Encourage to get him to pile through his food. I tried to explain to Sweeney that too many kiwifruit might make his poohs hurt through runniness etc. He said to me "Mum, my poohs don't hurt. They just smell" and he popped another spoonful into his mouth.
'Nuff said

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Running Up That Hill

Okay, the guests have all left, the travellers passing through Wellington have all passed through, and Sweeney and I are back to how things were before ... everything that's been happening started to happen.
Yesterday we had lunch and an outing to the Weta Cave with my dad's brother Mal and his partner Lesley. They were over from Nimbin for Lesley's dad's funeral in Hastings. Sweeney got all helmet-ed up and he rode his bike down to meet up with them. When he'd finished eating hardly anything for lunch, he rode his bike around the paved area by Sweet Mothers. Brilliant.
Then we went out to Miramar, checked out the wee Weta museum and Mal and Lesley watched the behind the scenes film while Sweeney and I explored the neighbourhood outside. Also brilliant.

In other news, two things happened to me yesterday:
  • I felt my knitting mojo returning. Yesterday, Sweeney wore the jersey Kimberley made for him before he was born. It has brown, red and purple stripes. Terrific. I've got to learn how to knit on circular needles and finish off the spectacular red and brown hoodie I started making for him about 200 years ago; and
  • I dipped into Growing Great Boys, for a bit of a refresher on a few things. I'm still feeling a bit other-worldly, preoccupied with my own thoughts, and think those behaviour reward charts might be one way to keep Sweeney's teeth brushed and face washed.
And I got a migraine, the first in ages. Always feel reborn and truly nifty the morning after a migraine.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

And Dream of Sheep

If you've read Kimberley's blog - and you really should, because she's an actual writer - you'll know that her boy Harper's having a bit of trouble with the snoozing right now, and it's driving them mad. Over here we have a slightly different issue arising. Tonight I put Sweeney to bed at 8pm, with a cup of warm milk and a pile of stories, just like usual. I usually leave him to it for a while, and sometimes I go back after 15 minutes to find he's already asleep. If he's awake, I read him stories, then it's lights out.
Tonight he booby trapped his room. Flipping ingenious, I have to admit. I heard him get out of bed, but I stayed away, because he often gets up for a few minutes. When I went to see how he was getting on, he'd set up a pile of blocks right beside his door, so they made a huge racket when I opened the door.
And woke him up.
Which, he told me, was just what he wanted.
"Read me a story, Mum??"
Well, okay, sure ...

Monday, 20 July 2009

Sunny Afternoon

Tonight we had my cousin Doug, over from Sydney, over for dinner. Lovely. He got to meet Joe and Harper for the first time, and see Sweeney for the first time since he was born. He was observant enough to remark on the difference in Sweeney between then and now.
When I say dinner, I mean that Joe brought pizza over. Sheer genius. In any event, Sweeney was a little overawed by a new chap in the living room, and made a few attempts to share his Cars stickers with him, but I think a little of his new shyness came over a bit.
In other news, I had a nap today. The sun was streaming into my room. I love that. As I lay in bed thinking nap-type thoughts, I heard Sweeney outside making horrid spitting noises at Frank and Arthur next door. Then Dad telling him not to be so horrid. Then Frank and Arthur next door arguing over a car. Then Sweeney noisily opening and closing a door with Harper on the other side. Then a van parking outside and two men chatting swearily about something. Then Sweeney running into my room and running out again. Then the two boys running up and down the hallway outside my room.
And so it went on until it was time to get up, have a shower and go pick up Doug for dinner.
Mmmm, refreshing ...

Sunday, 19 July 2009


I've got a new wrinkle. On my forehead. I noticed it on Friday and I've given it a few days to make itself at home. It's right in the bit of my face that's been doing that frowning thing you do when you're assimilating bad news. Maybe I've only just noticed it because I'm not doing that anymore.
In other news from the weekend:
  • I totally went for it and made English-style roast chicken with all the trimmings, from How to Eat. KimberleyJoeHarper came over for dinner and we all pronounced it alllll riiiiiight. Even the children wound each other up by snaffling bits of each other's dinner from their bowls;
  • I totally went for it and stewed apples to make fruit rice custard for dessert, but I forgot about it, and in any case the spuds wouldn't brown and dinner was way later than it should've been. So they're baking now and we'll have them tomorrow;
  • Kimberley and I invoked our passes out last night and went to a movie. It was Summer Hours, at the film festival. With all due respect, avoid it. The coffee and pastry afterwards at Deluxe was magnificent, though;
  • Sweeney tried out the training wheels on his bike. We took him and Harper down to the rehab building at the end of the street and let them tootle around. He's riding a bike, for goodness' sake. I still remember when he couldn't hold his own head up, he was so teensy.
  • Sweeney implored his Grandad to play cars with him almost every second he was awake. His Grandad took him for walks, read him stories, fixed some toys and investigated some weird rear wheel action on his trike. And played cars, of course; and
  • I totally went for it some more and cleaned our downstairs - kitchen, living room, sunroom and the stairs. No big deal, you say. Anyone who knows me knows that this is a big deal. Unfortunately, running two small boys over the area a few hours later returned it to its pre-totally-going-for-it state.

Good weekend.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Beautiful Day

An intermittently sunny day today - so good after a grotty week. I think we've all had enough of the gloomy bits of the last few weeks, so here are some good things that've happened this month:
  • I've spent time with lots of great people, some of whom I haven't seen in ages;
  • a bunch of us have put a lot of effort into looking on the bright side of life ... and, ahem, death;
  • Sweeney's grown another centimetre;
  • Dad made me two bacon sandwiches today;
  • Mum made me a bread and butter pudding on Wednesday;
  • Sweeney says "okay, Mum" sometimes when I ask him to do something;
  • I've lost 2kg;
  • Sweeney's first ever child care person, Sue, came to the funeral. We haven't seen her since March last year;
  • I made it through a death-defying hangover yesterday without taking a nap or biting anyone's head off;
  • Sweeney and I have both shaken off our colds;
  • I had some delicious drinks with Liisa last Friday night at a variety of delightful bars;
  • the cat's decided to sleep somewhere other than with me. Brilliant - she's a real bully and pushes me out from underneath the duvet.;
  • I got to see an episode of 30 Rock this week;
  • Sweeney got to spend time with his Nana, Grandad, his Aunty Catherine and his cousins Katie and Philip;
  • Sweeney got to spend time with a gazillion people who told him how much he looks like his dad;
  • I've got a new respect for hospices;
  • Father Anthony told me that he rates Martin's odds of getting to heaven are running at 100%; and
  • today it was intermittently sunny. On Monday it's supposed to be totally sunny.

Thursday, 16 July 2009


Last post about Martin. The funeral was yesterday, went off lovely, respectful, dignified, emotional. Didn't lose it nearly so much as I thought I would, but I did get rather drunk at the party afterwards.
People were so nice. The turnout was big and diverse, just as it was for all of Martin's parties. People told stories about him, exchanged episodes that demonstrated what a nice chap he was, mused on how Sweeney's going to go from here on.
Anyway's here's some edited highlights - good, bad and sad:
  • The sitting room at Wesley Road being converted to a scene from Hansel and Gretel - so many sweet things - without the witch-related yukkiness;
  • The living room at Wesley Road being converted to a child care facility with Kimberley in the centre, covered in other people's children;
  • The band playing Martin's music in the back yard, but without Martin doing the singing;
  • Meeting people I'd never known from Martin's previous lives, and his most recent one;
  • Meeting people I've known from Martin's previous lives;
  • Meeting up with people who're constants in my life, but I didn't expect them to come to the funeral;
  • Martin's dad talking about him at the mass - not hiding the tough bits, emphasising the wonderful bits;
  • Withstanding a number of assaults on my parenting, or lack of it, after a number of drinks - people teasing me about my son's smelly bottom, and later, about my son's bare bottom. I'll never know why he took his pants off and ran through the house;
  • Martin's oldest friends and brothers carrying him from the church and then from the hearse, and lowering him into his grave;
  • Martin's male friends and family members filling in his grave. It's an Irish thing. Very emotional. Sweeney tried to wield a shovel, which would've made good theatre, but he made do with emptying a trowel full of dirt;
  • Feeling like I've stored enough hugs and cuddles to last me until the middle of 2015 at least;
  • Sweeney asking for more time with his cousins, Katie and Philip;
  • Finding that it didn't take much asking to get Travis to take his shirt off to show the kids his tattoos;
  • The photomontage Catherine, Katie and Philip put together - photos of Martin from babyhood right up until just a few months ago. A great jumping-off point for people to share stories and memories;
  • Standing at the graveside, listening to Sweeney and Bela do a call and response over the crowd - "I want to see Bela", "I want to see Sweeney"
Hangovers all around, it seems, from the conversations I've had today. A big thank you to my dad and sister for wrangling Sweeney when I ran out of steam, to my mum for the delicious dinner afterwards, to Catherine for thinking way ahead and getting Sweeney a Magnadoodle, to Denis for letting us give Martin a sendoff he would've enjoyed being at. And to everyone who turned up.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Sweeney's Dad

Martin's dad called at 1.15pm to say that Martin had died a little earlier. Gently, just eased off the breathing and wound down.
Lost my mind. Regained my mind. Lost it again.
Headed to the hospice and sat with him for a bit and cried with his family and Rex and Kimberley, then to the airport to pick up Dad and pick up Sweeney from preschool. Toffee Pops, cups of tea, fish and chips.
Everyone is so kind. I'm so sad. Sweeney and I went outside and had a look at the sky tonight, to catch a glimpse of its new housemate.
Here's how I best like to remember Martin.
See you in the soup, Sport!!

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Man in the Moon

Sweeney and I spent a few hours with Rex and Martin tonight. Sweeney played with the simply enormous digger and the rather noisy tractor on the floor, sang some songs, chatted to us and then melted down when he wasn't allowed to clean out the biscuit trolley.
Time to go. But before that, it was blissful. Every now and then, Martin made a noise that I choose to interpret as him telling us that he could hear us telling stories about him, and he wanted to tell Sweeney what a great song he was singing, or what a hilarious thing he'd just said, or what a good job he was doing banging his digger against the bed leg. Hurrah.
Anyway, the questions have moved on. When will Dad wake up? When will Dad get out of bed? When will he pick me up from preschool again? So tonight we had a little session about how none of those things will be happening again, and in fact, he's going to go away and we'll never see him again. We were looking outside at the night sky. Long story short, the word on the street is that Martin's moving to a new flat.
On the moon.
I don't know quite how we got there, especially as I actually had a plan that went another way, but as our chat meandered, I figured that these were things that Sweeney could grasp - he knows Martin's moved house a few times in the last year, and he takes a lot of notice of the moon.

Not exactly hilarious, I know, but much more fun than the last few days. Thanks to everyone who's sent kia kaha-type comments and emails and phone calls!! I can feel chirp levels rising ... oh, and the photo is of Sweeney at home tonight, just before bed, saying Cheese!!!

Tuesday, 7 July 2009


Things move fast sometimes. I look back at the last several days and they're a blur of car rides, meals on the run, phone calls, emails and texts, and finding where the cups are at the hospice, rejoicing at finding they have a copy of Andrew Morton's biography of Madonna on the shelf. Sweeney's ticked off at having so little time at home, which is nice, but can't be helped right now. There's a bag of books and cars and drawing supplies in the car all the time now.
I've seen the interaction between Sweeney and Martin devolve over the last two weeks. Of course it has between everyone and Martin, but Sweeney's my boy, and I've always been astounded at and impressed by how gorgeously those two get on. Most mornings Sweeney asks me if his dad's getting better, and I tell him no, his dad isn't going to get better. We visit every day and his dad is increasingly ill, and now heavily sedated, and therefore remote.
Yesterday Sweeney kissed him hello and they made faces at each other, and silly noises, for a few seconds like they always did. Then Martin sort of pulled back and disappeared into himself, and Sweeney kissed him again, but there was no silly face or noise, just Martin drooping and on his way to sleep.
Last night, Martin was in a chair, half-snoozing, with Michelle giving him a cuddle, and I set Sweeney up with his cars on the floor in front of them. He used the texture on Martin's blanket in his game, being careful to keep from hurting Martin's feet. Martin's gaze focused on Sweeney for a second here and there, and every now and then he said his name.
When I see it written down like this, I question my decision to give Sweeney as much time with his dad as possible through this process. What does a little boy learn from this?? Are either of them getting anything out of this? Am I putting Sweeney through something vile that will lead to him turning up on Crimewatch?
I don't flipping well know, do I ...
Priority for tomorrow - find, do, see something hilarious and write about it. No more serious posts for a bit, I think.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Far Away, So Close

We're having a great couple of days, what with visiting people and the harmonious mucking around at home and having people visit us and the lovely messages from people arriving through the weekend. And our colds are on the way out. Thinking straight for the first time in days.
Yesterday Sweeney and I visited the hospital and the ambulance arrived to transfer Martin to the hospice soon after we arrived. We saw him and his dad to the ambulance, then home for dinner and a long session of playing with the remote-controlled battery-operated crane. I don't entirely get how someone can enjoy a thing that turns around in a circle quite so much, but Sweeney loves it so.
Headed to Martin's new digs after breakfast, loaded up with snacks, cars and books to keep Sweeney occupied. Palliative care is such a shift from clinical care - everyone is so completely, impossibly Nice. Smiling but not laughing, no giggling. No sharp edges anywhere. Not that hospital staff aren't nice - they're just not as Nice. It's a whole level of Pleasant I've never struck in such numbers before. The staff are much more forthcoming about things - no, Martin's not up to going for a walk, yes, he can have as much juice as he likes, yes, we're giving him morphine for his pain - that sort of thing. Offering information, even - practically had to get paid informants in place when he was in Wellington Hospital, unfortunately.
He has a room to himself, with access to a lovely courtyard. There were a million finches mucking around out there this morning. There's a view over Newtown, but Martin's not using it right now. He's having trouble talking and is sore and sleepy. The carpet makes the place seem cosy and it muffles the crash-bang! of Sweeney's car games. Ladies with tea and coffee came around and forced cheese scones on us. And like I say, there's this air of Kindness over the whole place that just makes you want to hang out. Even parking is easy.
In other news, all this black-shadowness is made easier by cleaning bits of the house, I find, or immersing myself in Sweeney's stuff. Haven't read him so many stories ever, I think. Yesterday we spent ages chasing each other around the garden - Sweeney told me we had a mission to perform. I still don't know what it was, but it required a lot of running and giggling.
And the sunroom is pristine, for the first time in ages ...
Ooh, and I won speckledegg's giveaway - a Temari Ball. Hurrah!! Something pink with flowery things on is just the ticket, right now. Thanks, Lucy!!

Friday, 3 July 2009

La Vie en Rose-Coloured Specs

Was reading this post from All This Trouble when the phone rang and it was news that there was a meeting scheduled at the hospital re Martin this afternoon. Long story short, he's being moved to a hospice tomorrow.
All the crying has certainly helped to clear my congested head. I guess this is the downside of salvaging your friendship when your relationship breaks down. Picked up Sweeney and we went back to see Martin, but he was in a deep sleep and I'm embarassed at all the crying I did there today, so was happy to skedaddle.
I'm a bit nervous about how the next bit of our lives is going to go. Thanks for all the support and encouragement from everyone who gave support and encouragement!!
In other news, we had terrific cottage pie and vege at KimberleyHarperJoe's. So nice how Sweeney and Harper get on. Kimberley read to Sweeney for ages.
We got home and sat in the car outside the house, with Madonna playing really loud, while Sweeney sat on my lap and played with the steering wheel. Not sure if I was indulging myself more, or him ...

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Seesaw, Margery Dawe

Our visits to the hospital have given Sweeney a new nursery rhyme - Seesaw, Margery Dawe. So nice. Those children's tiles are working out lovely.
This morning I woke up and couldn't smell the coffee. My nose and my entire head are congested. Finally have to admit I've got a cold. Grotty. The upside is that I'm attributing my malaise in the last few posts to the cold, not an onset of Bleakness, and it makes me feel a trillion times better than I felt yesterday. Spurred me to get in supplies for containing the cold before it goes stratospheric - lots of soft tissues, hot Panadol drinks, water. Sweeney's cold seems better, though.
He made a helicopter yesterday out of a tissue box and some ice block sticks. There's a blue squiggly drawing on the side, which is apparently me. I've never been on a helicopter, but now I'm kind of interested. I don't wear blue very often, either, so maybe I'll wear my denim skirt tomorrow.
We had macaroni cheese tonight, from Nigella Express. It truly is Express, no white sauce, just an egg custard-sort of arrangement with lots of cheese and pasta. Sweeney falls on anything with cheese, so dinner went like the Indy 500.
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