Monthly Archives: December 2012

Panic

So, I guess it all started when I got a hankering to make a crochet bell.  One of my favourite decorations on my mum’s Christmas tree is a little red crochet lace bell and I wanted to see if I could make one too.  So I started trawling the Internet and found this pattern and then I dug through my shamefully oversized yarn stash and came across just the right amount of cotton yarn in a lovely turquoise colour.  So what if turquoise isn’t the most christmassy colour?  I’ll dress it up with silver – ooooh, and little clear buttons – and it will look a treat.

Nan's Stash

The yarn was in my nan’s old stash (well, actually, she was Mr Knightley’s nan, but she was such a warm and loving person that I like to think of her as my nan too.  The smell of the inside of the yarn bag when I first opened it made me cry and cry).  So THEN I got an idea:  what if I made the Christmas bell with Nan’s yarn and then gave it to my mother-in-law as part of her Christmas present?  Oh!  Yes!  Where’s my hooook??

So I got stuck into it on our drive to South Australia.  I was in Robe and up to the second-last round when I dropped my 3.5mm hook under the car seat.  Ack!  It never surfaced despite much grunting and scrabbling.

At Victor Harbour, I bought a new hook in a smaller size (it needed it – the first attempt was too big and flopsy) and started from the start again.

In Glenelg, I got to the last round and ran out of yarn!  Ack!

In Adelaide, I frogged a few rounds

As we drove through Keith, Nihill, Bordertown and Horsham, I had another go with tighter stitches (and then frogged a few more rounds and tried it again)

By the time i got back to Melbourne, I had a little blue bell, ready for blocking.

In retrospect, this probably would have ben a good time to check the instructions – but I’d only printed off one page and anyway, it was all too exciting to stop and do something as sobering as looking up the pattern.  As a result, the bell turned out a little misshapen and wonky.  And lame.  And I couldn’t find a silver bell anywhere, so I had to use a gold one (pilfered off one of Christopher Robin’s kinder Christmas cards), which wasn’t as good.

Wonky Blue Bell

Which would have been fine, I would just be giving it as an add-on to the main present, a quiet aside, hardly worth mentioning really, just a small bonus gift.

Except then Mr Knightley bought a miniature Christmas tree as the main present.  “And you can hang the ornament on it.” he added, cheerfully.

Nooooooooooooooooooooooo!

If I hang the wonky bell on the Christmas tree and give the present just like that, then the wonky bell becomes the FEATURE.  It says “Look at me!  Aren’t I clever?  I made you a lopsided Christmas decoration!  With its own tree: it’s that special!”

And it’s FAR too big for the tree!  It looks ridiculous!

blue bell on tree

Oh panic: the more I look at it, the more it seems like the creation of some kinder kid looking for a gold star.  The kinder kid who’s not allowed to play with scissors…

What am I going to do??

Stay tuned for the sequel…

What the?

Matilda and Christopher Robin are having a fight in the back seat.  Matilda is pretending to be Julia Gillard, putting on a voice and saying “Moi fellow oi-strayl-yens”.  Christopher Robin is pretending to be Tony Abbott, saying “No more Carbon Tax!  Your Carbon Tax is STUPID!”

Is this normal?  Is this how kids are supposed to argue?

Maybe I should ask Mr Knightley (news junkie) to ease up on the NewsRadio a bit…

Mmmmm…Bunting!

 

Today was a yuck day.  I’ve been feeling all sick in the stomach and the children have been all feral: watering the washing, emptying tissue boxes, scattering all manner of foodstuffs across the floor and then industriously walking them throughout the house, Harry has resisted all forms of clothing and Christopher Robin has resisted all forms of obedient behaviour.  We were late for school, we forgot half a dozen different forms we were supposed to return and Matilda’s hair was one enormous knot.  Annie was cranky all morning, and then when I finally got her to sleep, Harry decided to break into her room, climb into her cot and ride her like a pony.  And after that, he decided that a productive use of his time would be to pull up and destroy all the pea plants we’d been growing.  There is nothing for dinner and if there was I couldn’t be bothered cooking it.  Everything is a disaster and all I want to do is sleep.

At times like this, there is only one thing to do:  take photographs of bunting.

Oooh - Bunting!

I’m still fairly new to Blog World, but I’ve just cottoned on to something called “Work-in-Progress Wednesday” and I thought I’d give it a go.

bunting with shadow

I’m still getting the hang of taking decent photos.  I took my first lot in the shade and the colours were all wrong.  But when I put everything in the sun, I had shadows to contend with!

lovely bunting

So these little flags are on their way to becoming a string of bunting for Matilda’s room.  They’re made of cotton yarn which I bought years ago to make a blanket but never did.  I used the excellent granny bunting pattern from Hook Knit Spin and was first inspired by Lucy of Attic 24′s creation.  Lucy never did a “ta-da” post for her gorgeous bunting, but it creeps into the background of her pictures for me to gasp at.  You can get a glimpse of it in this post.

So, I’ve still got a while to go before it’s done, but it’s nice, portable work.  Good for swimming lessons and netball games.

OK, must stop hiding from my children (poor Mr Knightley – I practically pelted him with preschoolers the minute he walked in the door!).  I’ll keep you posted on all the bunting love!

Mary, Help of Kitchens

Mary Statue

I have a Mary in my kitchen.

Mary Statue

Isn’t she lovely?

I didn’t mean to make my first “God in the Mess” post about Mary.  I can’t imagine many of the people out there who read this are Catholic (well, Mum is) and I figure I’m pushing the boundaries enough, writing a ‘God’ post without coming out of the closet as a full-blown Catholic.  But here we are.  I have a Mary in my kitchen.

I know we’re talking about a piece of ceramic, here.   I don’t get all superstitious about it and bring her cups of tea or rub her head for good luck or anything.  But she’s there as a reminder.

Contrary to popular belief, we Catholics don’t worship Mary as a god.  We just really, really admire her.  She’s a good role model, I guess.  I had some vague idea that when I was in the kitchen at five o’clock, about to whack some one or other of my offspring with a saucepan (possibly because they burnt the roastdestroyed the laundry or were considering vegetarianism), I would stop, look at Mary, take a deep breath and put the saucepan down.

I was so excited when I first bought my Kitchen Mary.  It was exactly what I was looking for: simple yet special, traditional yet different.  Even so, when I first got home, I didn’t rush to the kitchen straight away.  Mary spent a lot of time in the plastic bag from the piety stall, wrapped in old parish bulletins.  You see, I wanted to wait until the kitchen was sparkling clean before I put Mary in it.  But setting to and cleaning the kitchen isn’t a straightforward task when you have little ones.  There are nappies and spills and bandaids and bath time and the kitchen mess remains.  Then it hit me (the profound thought, I mean, not the kitchen mess – though it WAS piled precariously high…): the thing I was doing with the Mary statue in my kitchen was exactly what I was doing with God in my life.

You see, I do want God in my life.  I’m sold on that point.  I’m a much better person, much more myself and I make much better decisions when I feel close to God.  But I’ve been keeping God out, just the same.  I guess, in the back of my mind I figured I’d become all spiritual when I “had it all together” or when I “had time to pray”.  It was like it was on my to-do list right next to “clear out the linen cupboard” or “tidy the random drawer”: we both know these things are never going to happen.

But God doesn’t want the perfect versions of ourselves.  God embraces our broken-ness and meets us in the mess.  So, with this in mind, I put Mary in the kitchen, mess and all.  The woman gave birth in a cattle shed, I’m sure she can cope.  You might be asking “Why Mary?  Why not a picture of God?”, well that brings me back to that thing I was saying about Mary being a role model.  I need to let God meet me in the mess and Mary was really good at doing that.  She changed baby Jesus’ nappies as a refugee in Egypt, and had to watch him die, naked and nailed to a tree, when he was an adult.   These situations weren’t tidy.  And she didn’t always have it all together (losing child in temple, anyone?) but she always let God in.

Plus, I don’t really like pictures of God.  They make him look all strange and beard-y.  Like Santa Claus on steroids.

So here’s my Kitchen-Mary in a candid shot (taken before I cleaned up the kitchen for the glamour shots above).

Mary in the Mess

Our Lady of the Sausages, pray for us in our hour of need.

Vegetarian Fail.

It all came to a head on Friday at 4:15pm.  Annie was crying in the highchair, Christopher Robin and Harry were practising extreme wrestling on the trampoline (“I wasn’t biting him, Mummy, I was hugging him with my teeth!”), I was desperately trying to get dinner together and Matilda was looking grave and pensive.

“Mummy,” she announced solemnly, “I’ve decided I want to be a vegetarian.”

Now, I can’t pretend I didn’t see this coming.  Earlier in the week, a sign at the butcher’s advertising “wild rabbits” sent a tired and tearful Matilda into hysterics (“you mean people KILL cute little bunny rabbits and then they EAT them?  That is just so MEAN!”) and no talk of ‘introduced species’ or ‘feral pests’ or ‘circle of’ bloody ‘life’ would calm her down.  The night before saw Matilda wide awake well past her bed time, wracked with guilt after eating a plateful of roast lamb (It was moist and nice and not at all burnt like last time)

So I knew Matilda had been considering vegetarianism.  I had already laid down the law that she couldn’t only choose to be vegetarian for some meals just to get out of eating them (like beef stew, which she calls “beef spew”),  I just hadn’t anticipated her making this commitment the day before shopping day – an hour before dinnertime – while I was elbow-deep in meatloaf.

So I scratched my head and had a think.  I had half a tin of lentils.  Surely that had to count for something.  Vegetarians are always banging on about lentils.  And I had a muffin tin.  Maybe I could make a mini- lentil loaf?

As I mixed the lentils with all the stuff I usually put in the meatloaf and added plenty of egg to hold it all together, I was struck with a wonderful vision of myself.  I could get really good at this!  I could be That Amazing Mother who whips up delicious vegetarian meals effortlessly for her mature, sensitive and intelligent vegetarian daughter.  I saw myself floating through organic wholefood markets buying bulk packs of tofu whilst hippies and hipsters alike nodded their approval.  What if I’m actually a creative genius in the kitchen, creating small miracles out of chick peas and eggplant?  I imagined myself on the cover of a glossy recipe-and-anecdote book, wearing a mildly ironic 1950s-style apron and smiling benevolently at the camera.  Of all things, I think putting out a recipe-and-anecdote book is a true sign that you’ve made it as a domestic goddess.

I wish I’d taken a photo of the perfect muffin-shaped little lentil loaf after I took it out of the oven.  It was truly a thing of beauty.  Matilda exclaimed at how pretty it was and ate it wordlessly whilst I radiated smug all over the kitchen.

The next day, Matilda was making herself a ham roll with extra ham.  ”I’ve decided not be be a vegetarian,” she said, “that lentil loaf you made yesterday was pretty yuck”

Incidentally, I’d be happy to publish the recipe if anyone is looking to turn their child off vegetarianism.

Maybe I could make a book…

Health Nurse Fail.

Earlier this week I was struck with a sudden panic: the last time I made an appointment with the Maternal and Child Health Nurse, I didn’t write the appointment in my diary.  And it was a double appointment for Annie and Harry!  And these appointments are really hard to make!!  What if the appointment is today? What if I’ve already missed it??

As soon as I got home I dug out the green book and checked the appointment time: not till Wednesday!  Phew!  I checked the book again yesterday – 1:30pm – easy!

Mr Knightley gave Annie a thorough bath last night and I made sure she was dressed in her most respectable clothes this morning.  I gave the boys an early lunch and then coaxed Harry out of the mud and into the bath for a righteous scrubbing.  Once I put Harry into his least raggedy clothes and locked the back door so he couldn’t get muddy again, I bundled the three of them into the car (after first sending Christopher Robin back to change his favourite (broken) sandals into respectable shoes with matching socks).  I figured I’d get there early so they could have a play at the park next door beforehand.

You can imagine my immense sense of smugness as I sauntered into the health centre at precisely 1:25pm.  I had forgotten nothing: both health books, bunny rug, change of jumpsuit, nappies, crochet workbag, phone, tissues, keys, three children, wipes – all there.

One of the health nurses approached me with a concerned look on her face.  Who was I there to see?  Everyone was out.  I faltered for a moment – I’d only seen this new health nurse once before and couldn’t remember her name.  She prompted me – was it Jenny?  Yes! Jenny!  Jenny was out.

The first few seeds of doubt started to edge their way into my consciousness.  Oh! But! I said with renewed confidence, I AM a little early (oh yeah!)…but perhaps I’ll just double check the appointment in my book.

So I pull out my book and take forever to find the stupid page.  And I take a proper look at the date for the first time. Oh no! I say, I’m a week early!

The nurse points again at the date with a kind smile:  I was also a month early.

WHAT is WRONG with my BRAIN??!!

The receptionist, who by now had joined the conversation, along with another health nurse, said I could come in and have a sit while the boys had a play anyway.  It would give me a chance to ‘collect my thoughts’.  They were all very kind (and, I suspect, quietly concerned).

MY BRAIN!  What is wrong with my BRAIN??

I sat down with my diary and worked at being organised for about ten minutes. Then we went home.

I can’t even explain how I can manage to bring daft-ness to a whole new level.   I made a cake once we got home just to give my confidence a boost (with a side-product of comfort food)

Hmmm.

Yellow Gumdrop Hat

hat and cream yarn

hat and coloured yarn

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you remember this dilemma?  I was not sure if I should go all understated and grown-up with the cream yarn, when really all I wanted to do was get my hands on that rainbow wool and play.  Can you guess which one won?Finished Hat

Of course!  It had to be the rainbow wool!  And it was just so delicious!  Usually I try to use block colours and avoid too much variegated busy-ness, but in this case I just couldn’t resist.  I even put some on the top of the hat, look:

top of hatHmmm.  It’s upside-down.  But that’s OK.  I just did a little experimental hooky and came up with this.  It’s just one round and put together with double crochet (US single) and picot stitches.  Happy to share if anyone’s interested (ooooh! my first original pattern online!)

baby with hat

And here’s my friend’s son, looking decidedly unimpressed with his trendy new acquisition.

I should have made it bigger!  It was a little on the snug side, but my friend loyally protested that it was the perfect size.  At any rate, he makes a very cute little gumnut baby!

Epiphany

Odd Socks

 

It’s easy to whine when you’re a full-time mum.  Our job often seems a relentless onslaught of menial tasks: wiping noses and bottoms, trying to catch disasters before they become catastrophes, and patiently explaining the necessity of trousers (again).

I probably should stop here and mention I don’t buy into that whole debate of stay-at-home versus working motherhood and who works harder/ loves their kids more/ has the most valid existence/ is the best variety of human being.  I think we all try to do what is best for our family according to our specific circumstances and anyone who suggests otherwise is generally trying to sell you something.  I say “full-time mum” sometimes because I don’t like the passive sound of “stay-at-home mum”, but I’m in no way suggesting that working mothers are “part-time mums”!  OK, end of disclaimer, back to the point.

I used to put a lot of energy into justifying my full-time occupation:  my job is so HARD, nobody underSTANDS, I work and work all day and yet have nothing to SHOW for it.  I was a victim of motherhood.  Somebody needed to call me a waaahhmbulance.

Anyway, one morning I had a bit of an epiphany (it was one of those magic mornings when I actually had time to pray)  It went like this:

  1. I chose motherhood, and if David Tennant offered me a ride in his Tardis (back in time, I mean, for those of you who are not also tragic Doctor Who nerds), I would choose it again.
  2. I need to own this choice, and put the same amount of work into mothering as I would a “legitimate” job.
  3. So many couples I know are struggling with infertility and would give anything to be knee-deep in nappies every day.
  4. Those who “get it” (how mothering is a tough gig, I mean) already get it and those who don’t “get it” aren’t going to be convinced by my ranting, so I might as well save my energy for better things.

I reckon I came back from my morning walk looking all beatific and saint-like.  Since then, I’ve tried to make a point of focussing on the positives of my job and not be so defensive (though I still manage to forget this and regularly host a local whine festival)

So now, when some well-meaning lady in the supermarket gushes about how lucky I am to be able to stay at home and play with my children all day, I smile and agree with her.  I am lucky.  I am so blessed.  My job is intense and it’s hard work and my basic needs for sleep and privacy in the toilet aren’t always met, but it does come with plenty of perks.

All of which has been a convoluted introduction to my next post (which I’ve posted first, so that people like my mum can read the posts in the right order)

Perks

Being a “stay at home” mum can be tough sometimes.  But it’s not without its perks.  Here’s what’s making me smile this week:

Pea Sprouts

Pea sprouts growing on my kitchen windowsill;

Waitress

Eating delicious imaginary cakes at Cafe Matilda

menu

Everything is gluten-free!

Mmmmm...Magazines

Two shiny magazines awaiting my perusal (they’ve been sitting patiently in their wrappers for almost a week now, but their moment will come!)

You might be thinking that last one doesn’t count as a perk – mums don’t get much time to read magazines, nor does the family budget always stretch to such indulgences (though I maintain one should always make room for small, sanity-saving treats) – but the perk comes from the amount of relish with which this particular indulgence is enjoyed when the moment arrives.  There are certain luxuries one just doesn’t appreciate before becoming a parent!  Showering in private is another such example…

So there you go.  I have it pretty good here and I’m so grateful that I have a husband who supports  me and is willing to be the sole breadwinner so I can endeavour to embrace all things domestic.   If you could see the state of my kitchen floor at the moment, you might think it less an embrace and more an awkward hug that you give your work associate at his retirement party, but, still, the intention is there…

Kate is Special

Just thought I’d share:

In the ‘recently deceased’ section of the parish notices last week, I read that longstanding parishioner Karen Appleby had died and there was a big funeral for her this week.  I didn’t know Karen at all but I knew Bill Appleby to be a tall, older fellow who I’d often see about the place.  I would nod at him and say “Bill.”  and he would nod back rather aloofly and this was the full extent of our relationship.

When I spoke to another parishioner about Karen and Bill, she said that they had lost a child many years ago and did a lot of ministry for parents who had lost children.  My heart went out to Bill and I realised why he sometimes seemed rather distant.

At Mass this morning, I saw him.  I always feel awkward in this kind of situation, but I know Mum’s always said it’s better to say something than to avoid the person and make them feel even worse.  I also knew from experience that it’s better to say something sooner rather than later because it will only get more awkward.

At the morning tea after Mass I found myself side by side with the man in question so I seized my opportunity.  I turned to him, gave him a little hug and said “Bill, I’m so sorry about Karen”

In the moments that followed, I discovered the following useful facts:

  • Karen wasn’t actually his wife
  • His wife is still alive and at home at the moment
  • This man was not Bill Appleby
  • This man’s name was Brian

I also discovered:

  • There may be another reason why this man was so unresponsive when I called him ‘Bill’ all these years
  • Sometimes ‘sooner rather than later’ does not avoid an awkward situation if soon is too soon to confirm a positive ID

He was really quite gentle and lovely about it.  It was like he wished he could be Bill for my sake but he could not escape the fact that he was in fact Brian and he did indeed have a live wife.

Whatever.  Just tell Bill I said hi.