Thursday, August 28, 2014

blind date

Today I started, and completed, a home DIY project.

I say I, but in fact I had help.

On the weekend I took down the horrifically ugly kitchen blind, worn and torn and caked with 35 years of cooking grease (you can just about see it, as well as the exquisite tiles this kitchen is blessed with, here).

I dug through the fabric stash and found this piece from IKEA, sent to me by Julie in 2008! I've had it all this time, never finding the right application, but clearly it was waiting for the day it perfectly matched my orange 1970's kitchen units and spoke directly to the vast array of birds (including many herons) we see out this window. Stash synchronicity - don't you love it?

My Mum then stepped in, with smart advice about using Vilene (miracle of the gods!) and her sewing supplies (I have none) to measure and cut and stitch. We whipped it together this morning (thanks Mum!) and I came home to iron it and tack it on.
I even cut the tacks to the right length!

But of course it wasn't that simple, and of course it wouldn't actually roll when I put it up, and of course Husband had to spend an hour this evening swearing and battling the 35 year old mechanism to get it to work.
It's never as easy as it looks for SouleMama is it ....

However it is there, ready for the spring sun which sears through that window just when we're preparing dinner. It's the only time of year we really need a blind there, but it's crucial. And now it's pretty too.

A very productive project at a time when I really needed one. Life's been feeling a little aimless of late, it was good to get something DONE.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

the big one

It finally came.

'Mum, there's something I've been meaning to ask you for years. If a lady wants to have a baby does she just decide to get pregnant, or is there something she must do first?'

Thanks to Sir David Attenborough she's had the science down pat since she was 3. She's known all this time about ovaries and that she's born with her lifetime supply of eggs. She knows about menstruation, she knows that animals mate, she even knows how twins come about. She was just missing this key piece of the puzzle.

Luckily I've had my answer ready for years so despite also making school snacks and with 5 minutes left until we had to race out the door, I think I gave her a fairly coherent, simple and manageable answer.

She was suitably amazed. Her eyes got the slightly glazed look she has when turning inward to absorb new and fascinating information, and then she came back to earth in a rush - eyes shining now, and rushed off calling: 'Steeelllaaaaaaa!'
Info that astounding has to be shared right?
And while there's a part of me that felt her sister, at just 4 and a half, was maybe not quite ready for the low down, I certainly wasn't going to ask Frieda to keep it a secret. My biggest goal on this is to make sure the space exists for both girls to ask me (or each other) anything, anytime, for ever.
Channels of communication = open.

What broke my heart a little bit though, was overhearing this conversation later ...
Stella: 'Feeda, we can't marry each other hey?'
Frieda: 'No silly!'
Stella: 'And we can't marry the same person hey?'
Frieda: 'No, of course not!'
Then Stella: 'But Feeda, we'll still be friends hey?'

Oh my baby, that gradual realisation that she and her big sister won't always live in such comfy unison, sharing a room, a life, a home.
Big moments for small people.

There's been some follow up questions, and age-appropriate books have subtly been introduced. For a few days it was a hot topic but that's petered out, for now.

Someone said I made it seem so easy, talking about sex with my children. It wasn't particularly, but it also wasn't as difficult as I'd anticipated. I've got girl children (though it really shouldn't be any different if they were boys) and they've got to grow up this crazy world - it's terribly important to me that I give them as many tools with which to do that as possible. I think a healthy, open policy on sex talk is one of the best they can have.

Which is why I was so disturbed to eavesdrop on a conversation on Facebook this morning. A mum had been asked The Big One and fluffed it. No judgement there, it's a really hard talk to have, but what freaked me out were some of her friends responses as to what they'd told their kids.
Ranging from 'you're too young to know', to 'mummies pray and then Jesus brings them a baby'!

And we wonder why there's so much sex confusion and mismanagement in the world ... oi vey.

Monday, August 25, 2014

little sticker

I've got a collage piece in progress which is consuming me ....

... so I couldn't have been happier to hear, on Saturday afternoon, 'Mum, can we collage too?'

Within minutes I'd set them up with boards, magazines, snacks and handed out some basic instructions.

Frieda started off strong, with a great sketch of a cat (just like Mummy's) with Table Mountain in the background, and she cut and stuck up a lovely blue sky, but then her enthusiasm waned and she drifted off.

Stella however started with no sketch, no concept, and worked non-stop, all by herself, to produce this masterpiece ...

Two Happy Girls At Night.

With fireworks, a meringue moon, some inspired grass-work, skillful cutting and a time-saving decision to 'actually colour in the sky black because sticking will take forever'.

I think I'm going to frame it.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

the daily commute

Frieda goes to school 6 suburbs over, right round the coast in a whole different climate zone. Not ideal, but it is a super little school (emphasis on little in a time when all our urban schools are getting bigger and bigger), and well, this is the drive ...

Whales, surfers, dolphins, weather, ships, boats, a working harbour, waterfalls, rock slides, tides and once, a submarine. It's a lucky kid who gets an education such as this to and from school.

And lucky parents who have to 'endure' such gloriousness twice a day.

(How lovely is that house? With its garage at the end of the road, a shady walk up to the door and the mountain in the backyard?)

There's another route down below, which winds along right at the coast, the sea on one side and rows of beautiful houses on the other. But that has been closed for 2 weeks for road repairs, making Boyes Drive the only (and very slow) option.
The advantage of all the traffic has been the chance to linger over the views, take note of the vegetation and mountain streams more closely, and sneak these camera phone pics.

I get as hassled and impatient with the school run as the next commuter-parent, but I never once do the drive without a deep appreciation for its beauty, and how lucky we are to be able to experience it.

Monday, August 18, 2014

hello sun

To be honest, it's not like we have a serious dearth of sunshine in winter here. Every year I'm reminded that it is in fact winter which has the perfect days ... still, warm, golden. Such a magical quality to the light.

But it does pass low on the horizon in the winter months, and just this weekend, in a later, longer sunset then we've been used to, I noticed the light creeping into parts of our home which have been shady and cool (if not outright cold) all season.

Here comes the sun da da da da ...

Welcome back.

Thursday, August 14, 2014


You know, just another magnificent rainbow. Le sigh.

Two years ago, when this house was flirting with us and we were hanging around down this end of the world a lot and hoping and hoping everything would work out, it was during the season of rainbows.

And each time I saw one I chose to think of it as a sign, a new beginning, a pledge, a promise of magic and dreams come true.

It is this time of year, indecisive and restless, which brings them.
The days can't decide if they're sunny or rainy, winter or spring with sudden bursts of full summer, catching us unawares and flushed in wintery layers.

The world feels restless, and so do I.

That big job has spoiled me for this more sedate life. I loved my break at the end of it, the winter holidays with the girls and friends and home projects - the general catching up.
But now they're back at school, the money is spent (mostly all wisely - I'm such a grown up, yawn) and I'm ... restless.

This morning I decided to do something about it. So I scrubbed the shower. And the inside of the bathroom cabinet. And sorted out my shoe cupboard. And you know, I can't stand to admit it, but I feel better.

The heavens herald the sunshine after the gloom with a mystical arc of light and energy. I heralded mine with a scourer and some elbow grease.
Same intention, less impressive execution.

We do what we can right?

Thursday, August 07, 2014

email from Frieda

My first!

Sent from my Mum's house. I added the 'y' for clarity.

I thanked her for it and then had a message in return:

Love you Frieda but you are too cheeky but I still love you Frieda

I look forward to a long and constructive correspondence with her.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

it's not about the dinosaur

Who gives a 4 yr old a glass jar to walk around with anyway?, I asked myself as I picked up broken glass from the parking lot in the rain outside the pizza restaurant on Monday evening.

But as we'd raced out the door (perpetually late we are) she'd insisted on bringing her Grow-in-Water Dinosaur and as I'm all about encouraging paleontology but not as interested in soggy car seats, I'd acquiesced on condition that it be decanted from the plastic cup it was 'growing' in to the handiest seal-able container - an empty glass jar.

You know what happened next.

What's awesome about parenting for a while though, is that one feels no qualms about walking into a restaurant with a handful of broken glass, asking for a bin and also a glass of water please.
No ice, it's for the dinosaur.

He watched us eat pizza and then got carried carefully home in the palm of her hand to be returned, slightly fuzzy, to the cup from whence he came.

Yesterday I noticed Frieda scooping lake water with the same cup, and had a pang - all hell would break loose if that dinosaur was dehydrating somewhere.

I underestimated that big sister though - she's clearly as committed to paleontology, respecting each others interests, science and keeping her younger sibling from freaking the fuck out, as we all are.

Pity that cheap-ass dinosaur, tended so well and so long, refuses to actually get any bigger.

Nevermind, I think the whole experience moved way beyond him anyhow.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

I believe in rainbows

Science, logic, meteorological fact. But actually - magic, hope, mystery and just 100% awe-inspiring beauty.

From my bedroom window this morning.

Monday, August 04, 2014


It's pouring rain outside, no surprise I've been pinning soup recipes for the last few minutes.

Life goes on.

My Mum's older sister turned 70 last week.

She was born in 1944 London, in the middle of an air raid. I can't begin to imagine how my grandmother felt, bringing her first child into that world.

Life goes on.

I cried in my car on the highway when I heard about the Gaza ceasefire. Actual tears. Because I knew it wouldn't hold. I think it lasted all of an hour, if that.

But apparently, for some, life goes on.

A full, beautiful, life full of little girls and home improvements and lovely times with friends. Crafty afternoons and colourful homes and beloved's birthdays. Dragon costumes and puppy antics, half price pizza and wine while the children play. Inspired ideas and clean bed linen and snuggling with cats and movies in bed.

It has to right?