Friday 29 January 2010

Don't worry, think happy!

The lovely Holly Homemaker has started Operation Happy and I'm delighted to join her as I'm trying really hard to live in a positive frame of mind.

So here are 7 things I'm thankful for today:

* My friends. I have a great bunch of school friends who came to visit last night - they can make me laugh like no one else, some I've known since I was 5. I've also been fortunate to have a new friend come in to my life this year and I'm lucky enough to be spending her birthday with her today.

* My girls' sense of humour - they make me roll on the floor with laughter at some of their antics. I never knew that toddlers could be so purposely funny.

* Skip's dedication to me and the girls. He tries so hard to make our life better.

* Chinatown - full of fun, action, cheap clothes and delicious food.

* My mum - always ready to do whatever she can for my family.

* The weekend - a whole two days dedicated to the fun things in life.

* Having the opportunity to stay at home with my girls.

Wednesday 27 January 2010

Happy (belated) Australia Day

Like every other Australian, I celebrated the day with a backyard BBQ. Snags, salad, water fights and Triple J's Hottest 100 - this is pretty much how I've celebrated every Australia Day for the past decade or more. The only lowlight was an inability to find a bakery with lamingtons. Who thought it would be so hard to get a humble lamington on Australia Day?

I recently spotted this wonderful painting, below, again recently. While it's over a century old, it captures something really 'Australian' for me, a sense of 'home'. It might be the clouds, the colour of the trees and the water or it maybe because it's of a place where I grew up and spent many summer picnics, Father's Days, etc. Anyhow, I just wanted to share it with you. My Australia Day gift to you.

Monday 25 January 2010

Blog love

A little while ago I mentioned that I was a panelist for the Bloggies and had discovered some wonderful blogs. I'm a bit slow on the uptake as a lot of people have obviously already fallen for them.

It's been a treat to read and befriend bloggers like Pink Patent Mary Janes, Sharni, Quixotic, Box of Tricks, MummyTime Brenda, Edwina, Baby Mac Beth and the wonderful Alex (I hope you come back soon), plus many more. I never to expected to meet a cyberworld of friends, and that's exactly what these lovely ladies have become. In addition to these women who I have so much in common with, I've also now discovered a whole world of bloggers whose life is so wonderfully different and, literally, a world away from mine. Here are three of my favourite new blogs from far-flung corners of the world:

Susie's Big Adventure - follows an American woman who now lives in Saudi Arabia with her husband and son. A fascinating read.

My Marrakesh - another American woman who created her dream home in Marrakesh. She's recently visited Afghanistan and has the most beautiful photography.

Desiderata - a fabulous tour through Mumbai

Hope you enjoy these newies (and oldies) if don't already.

Princess la-la-la

Recently I've read a lot on the blogosphere about the Disney Princess invasion - Mia Freedman's written about it, one of my favourite bloggers BabyMac has also written about it. Anyone with a little girl over the age of 2 is probably well aware of the pink princess pandemonium. Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Belle and Ariel - The Little Mermaid all wrapped up into one pink package and branded on absolutely anything you can imagine -DVDs, lunchboxes, bags, books, clothes, plates, yoghurt, you name it.

I'm not sure how I feel about it. Sure I don't necessarily agree with the message of a prince coming to save a girl and then living happily ever after. I do, however, like seeing how it puts a smile on Lil-lil's face, mainly cause I remembering loving these stories when I was her age. I loved them so much that for a brief moment Snow White and all seven dwarfs were my  imaginary friends, which meant setting up the dinner table as I insisted a little difficult. Of course, in my day, there wasn't such an aggressive product push. I was totally into Princesses and 'happily-ever-afters' though, I also didn't need Disney as I had a real-life fairytale wedding with Charles and Diana I could swoon over. I remember watching the royal wedding and then a week or so later getting a pink dressing gown for my fifth birthday which I was convinced made me look like Princess Di. Let's face it, I think a Disney Princess was a better role model than Princess Di was for me. Di has a lot of similarities to a Disney Princess including the evil stepmother, though the Disney Princesses have a few less issues than she did.

I guess at the moment I'm not too concerned as Lil-lil hasn't become too obsessed with it all. She has a quite a bit of the stuff, but at the moment to her a Princess is a pretty girl who likes to twirl around and have adventures. The only films she's watched are Little Mermaids 2 & 3, which were about Ariel saving the day instead of being saved herself (though I'm not adverse to her watching any of the other movies). She actually loves Peter Pan at the moment as they fly. Goosey on the other hand just yells 'Mermaid!' every time she sees a Disney Princess, which completely annoys her sister.

I also hope that my girls have enough good role models in real life that they're able to indulge in a bit of fantasy now and again and, most importantly, learn to know the difference between the two.

How do you feel about Disney Princesses? Have you allowed your home to turn into a pink palace? Do the mothers of boys have similar issues to deal with? Is it Ben 10, Cars? Why is it we're so conscious of what our little girls watch/like.

Sunday 24 January 2010

Frivolous, fabulous frocks

All of a sudden my dismal social life is taking a turn for the better. In the next couple of months I've got a rush of weddings, engagement parties and at least three or four big race days (gotta love the autumn carnival). Which means I need to get some fab frocks organised.

Thankfully last year, I made some great purchases, thanks to a wonderful designer who works just steps away from my house. Sadly, a couple of race dresses were about the only fashions buys I made last year. I still think I new at least one or two new dresses to get through this rush (well, that's what I keep telling myself).

So, where do you go to frock up? What are your fashion secrets?

Friday 22 January 2010


I'm walking through Coles, tossing up whether to buy fusilli or penne while pulling warring kids, who are threatening to topple the trolley, apart. An elderly lady shuffles past and a waft Pears soap catches my nose. Wham! The inner-west supermarket vanishes and I'm suddenly five years old watching my Grandma brush her hair in her lilac bathroom. I can feel my fingers running across the rough tiles and the soft bath mat under my feet. Just as suddenly I'm back in aisle 3 again staring at the blue pasta boxes, but the memory of the bathroom is still pulsating in my mind.

Isn't it amazing how scents can transport you back to certain times and places? Events and trivial moments which have been banished to the far reaches of your mind can come rushing back in one small whiff.

I was recently chatting about this with some friends over dinner a week or so ago and since then I have had this happen a number of times. Washing my hands at work the Dettol soap sent me back to my brother's Vietnamese wedding. Ordering a roll in Chinatown took me back to my old job seven years earlier as soon as the smell of fish sauce hit my senses. Venturing into my aunt's bedroom the smell of musk oil sent me back to Christmas when I was about six.

Songs can often evoke similar memories, but never quite as strong or vivid as smells. Scents are like a time machine transporting you back years in a millisecond. Each and every time I smell Yardley's Honeysuckle soap, I'm suddenly 10 years old, lying in a hospital bed waiting to have my tonsils out. I can feel the stiff prickle of the new pink cotton nightgown my mum had bought me, I can see the little yellow stationery set my brother's girlfriend had given me sitting on the bedside table.

Do you have any scents that take you back to a time and a place?

Wednesday 20 January 2010

Check it out!

My local supermarket has recently got those new self-serve checkouts. At first, I was upset as I thought "What a pain that will be, it will take so much longer."

Now, I love them! Sad, I know. I love scanning all the items and putting them in the bags just the way I like. Mostly I just like the scanning part! Beep, beep, beep, beeeep. It reminds me of how much I wanted to be a checkout chick when I was three. I loved my little cash register and would rope in anyone who was willing to play. Now my girls have a fancy toy register that even has a scanner and a little microphone to do "price checks!". I still happily play shops with them even now.

I can also do the moves to the infamous checkout chick dance in my head as I scan all my shopping. Small joys!

Monday 18 January 2010

The stuff dreams are made of

Have you ever had one of those dreams where you're back at school or an old job, somewhere really familiar from your the past, but everything is a little strange. Your next-door neighbour is your maths teacher, your kids are studying the HSC with you and you keep thinking to yourself 'Didn't I finish school already?' . Yes? No? Maybe it's just my warped mind...

Anyway, I had a real-life experience similar to that today. I'm doing some freelance work on a title I used to work on a few years ago. The magazine is exactly the same, it's like I never left. The staff are all new though, the offices are in a different location and the magazine is owned by a completely different company. So there was a weird feeling of deja vu, but in place I'd never been before. To make things just that bit more odd, there were a couple of people I had worked with before but on different magazines. So while it was nice to catch up with old faces, it felt like it was in the wrong context.

The one thing that stood out was that none of it felt comfortable, it wasn't like slipping back into comfy old slippers. More like the dream: 'Haven't I done this already, I don't think I belong here anymore.' I couldn't shake the uneasy feeling.

So I managed to quickly answer some questions that I thought I would be churning over for quite a while. That odd feeling has given me the kick I need to move forward. Now's the time for challenge, not to go backwards or even round in circles.

Funny how life works that way and sometimes the answers that you think will be hard to find are served up to you on a platter.

Friday 15 January 2010

Sorry about the silence

I was humbled to be chosen as a panelist (even if it was random) for the Bloggies! I don't know how common it is to be chosen, but I have taken the responsibility very seriously and have been up to my ears in wonderful blogs.

I still have a way to go with the Bloggies, but I hope to get something of substance written for all of you over the weekend. I have been truly inspired by some of the new blogs I've discovered and can't wait to get back and write again! Maybe even introduce to some of the new wonderful bloggers I've found.

Take care and enjoy your Friday.

Wednesday 13 January 2010

When I grow up, I wanna be...

You think by age 33, married with two kids and 10 years working in a 'career', that I would be able to finish this sentence by now. But, nup I still have no idea what I want to 'do' with my life.
I don't mean that I haven't done anything yet, of course, I've achieved a lot. What I mean is, I don't think I've found my passion - the one thing that drives me away from family. [Edit: I just re-read this, I don't mean I want to be driven away from my family; rather I want something the drives my life in addition to my family... derrr me].

I feel bad writing that, as I have a job (when I do work) that a lot of people would love. Writing that makes me think of The Devil Wears Prada where Andrea is constantly reminded: "a million girls would die for your job". Sure writing and sub-editing for magazines is definitely not the worst job in the world and I do enjoy it, but it's never really fulfilled me or driven me to greatness. In all honesty, I just kind of fell into it.

I started thinking about all this again this morning while I was hanging out the washing. I was then reminded of it when I took the girls to swimming lessons and saw a lady wearing a jumpsuit. I don't normally get excited by women in jumpsuits, but this one had "Forensic Services" emblazoned across the back, plus she was carrying a cool looking suitcase, she strode like she was on CSI. Maybe that could have been me if I actually applied for that Forensic Science course, attended Uni for four years and passed it. Gosh, I'm now wondering why my local pool needed the services of a forensics expert...

I'm really envious of those people who have a passion, something they love throwing themselves into. Something that gets them jumping out of bed in the mornings. I also fill with anguish when I see people throw their dreams away to do something 'safe' or 'better' or 'cause "x" thinks I should'. I think to have a passion is one of life's greatest gifts.

I want to find something or combine my interests to create some sparks. I'm not just sure how yet. I love writing this blog, but I'm not sure how I make a living out of it? I love good food and wine (but am not a great cook). I like trivia (but I'm not sure you can make a career out of trivia nights). Hmmm I'm reminding myself of that Seinfeld episode where George is trying to find a job:

George: I like sports. I could do something in sports. Jerry: Uh-huh. Uh-huh. In what capacity? George: You know, like the general manager of a baseball team or something. Jerry: Yeah. Well, that - that could be tough to get. George: Well, it doesn't even have to be the general manager. Maybe I could be like, an announcer. Like a colour man. You know how I always make those interesting comments during the game. Jerry: Yeah. Yeah. You make good comments. George: What about that? Jerry: Well, they tend to give those jobs to ex-ballplayers and people that are, you know, in broadcasting. George: Well, that's really not fair.

Yes, I know, I have a lot of pop culture filling my brain (maybe why I've done so well working in magazines...). Anyhoo, I'll keep thinking. Maybe I'm just too spoilt for choice. Maybe I'm just a very indecisive person. Something to work on I guess. It is after all one of my resolutions - to find a dream and chase it.

Do you have a secret passion, something you'd love to do but would never in a million years? Do you have something that you're so excited about that you bounce out of bed every morning ready to tackle it? Have you always known exactly what you have wanted to do?

Tuesday 12 January 2010

Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans

I've always loved this lyric by John Lennon and it's been on my mind a lot. Yesterday, I wrote about my weekend expeditions to the beach. Beach bliss. I think the moments on the beach were enhanced by some lessons I've been learning from another blog Lessons from the Monk I Married , especially the post about appreciating where you are.

Like many of us, I've been programed to strive and achieve. Look to better yourself. Ambition. All these things focus on the future, but sometimes happiness and contentment can be found by just appreciating where you are. While we frolicked on the beach, I saw the girls so happily living in the moment. I was re-energised by the surf, sun and just knowing this was a special moment.

We're often led to focus on and cherish the big events and achievements in life, and they are special, but it's often the simple moments that give us the most pleasure and the ones that will stand out later in life. I'm trying really hard to turn off other thoughts and relish these moments. So when I was bobbing in the ocean, I looked at everything around me and soaked it all in. I didn't worry about what bill needs to be paid, what we would be having for lunch, had I remembered to call back so-and-so. I just lived. I didn't worry about if I wobbled too much in my swimmers, I chased the girls around the frothing shore and laughed. It was bliss.

So wherever you are, whatever you're doing - appreciate it.

Monday 11 January 2010

Summer lovin'

A burst of sudden summer heat meant we trekked down to the beach both Saturday and Sunday - pure bliss.

The water was crystal clear, the sand just right for building brilliant castles and the girls scuttled like crabs along the shore.

Moments of gold that will form lifelong memories. Moments that make sense of all of life's craziness.
Not bad for one little weekend.

Friday 8 January 2010

There's no place like home...

I've been think a lot about the concept of 'home' recently. A few of my friends are settling down and buying their 'family home', the place where they plan to spend the next 30-odd years. Most of my friends have come from having a home where they lived their whole lives, where their parents still live. This is a completely foreign concept to me. In the first five years of my life I lived in five different houses, in four different cities/towns, in three different countries.

Skip has had a similar experience growing up too. The longest he has ever lived in one house is the one we currently live and we've only been here just over three years. In the 12 years we've lived together we've had eight homes. So neither of us has this sense of attachment to a house. We both have fond memories and sentiments for certain homes we've lived in, but we don't feel a need to hang onto the actual house itself.

I have to admit when I hear my friends talk about creating their family home, it makes me feel uneasy. Maybe I have a fear of commitment, but I don't like the idea of settling in one place for the next few decades. I want to live in different parts of the city, different parts of the country and different parts of the world. For me, I don't feel like I've grown or achieved if I've been planted to the one spot for too long.

I, personally, don't think I need a permanent dwelling to return to to feel like I'm 'home'. I think I can make my home wherever I feel comfortable and where there are people I love. For instance, my brother and his family live overseas in a town I've never been to and I'm fairly certain that if I went and stayed with them I would feel a sense of being 'home'. I guess I'm really just summing up that old cliche: "Home is where the heart is."

Funnily enough, Skip and I do dream about building our own home one day. Maybe it will be a holiday home though or maybe the urge to settle in one top spot will overcome me.

Do you have a strong sense of attachment to a place? Is there only one place that will be 'home' to you? Or are you a citizen of the world?


Everyone should love the chudder

The other day I was on the phone to my mum, when I hung up the little voice of Lil-lil piped up and said: "I think you really love the chudder."

"Excuse me?" I replied.

"You and Grandma really love the chudder," she answered.

Had she developed a Kiwi accent and was talking about our love for cheese?

She piped up again: "Goosey and I love the chudder."

Then I realised what she was saying... love each other. Awwww!


Thursday 7 January 2010

Scrapppppy dooooo - it's award time!

Last week the very lovely Alliecat at In a Beautiful Pea Green Boat (this has to be one of my most favourite blog names) bestowed on me an award.

Apparently receiving this award means I have to share 10 honest (apparently also little known facts to those in my blog world) facts with you. Once that is done then I get to bestow the award on to 7 fellow awesome bloggers.

I thought being in the light mood I'm in this would be the perfect time to take part.

1) I don't like fruit. I hate the texture and the flavour of most fruits. I do love all vegetables though.

2) I really wanted to be a forensic pathologist for a long time, but then realised that I'm not really good with details...

3) I studied film as my major during my brief career at university.

4) I'm petrified of squirrels. Those nasty rabies-filled creatures....

5) Duck is my favourite meat to consume.

6) I don't like skiing or any snow related sports.

7) I appeared in the newspaper with Mohammad Ali when he was in Australia in the late '70s.

8) I love a cup of tea on a really hot day.

9) I would really like to be glamourous but fall way short of the mark.

10) I haven't been overseas for almost five years.

So, do you feel you know me completely now?

Any way, I'm going to pass the award on. Go and check out these fab blogs:

Potty mouth mama always something there that entertains me.

Pink Patent Mary Janes her food post always make me drool and she always adds a little sunshine to my day. It's also nice to reunite with her in the blogosphere.

I like to fish Travis is not only funny, but he gives a nice male perspective to my otherwise female heavy reading list.

Lessons from the monk I married I have only just discovered this blog, but Katherine has made me really think.

Quixotic Life I think we started blogging around the same time, I always love her take on things.

MummyTime a recent blog of note and a hotshot blogger who never fails to raise a smile. Despite what a bigwig she is these days, Brenda hasn't forgot the little people and still give great comments.

A Reservation for Six I always love delving into Rachel's life, she's always so honest - which is what this award is all about after all.

Costume drama

After the delving deep for the epic Sleepless in Sydney story, it's time to lighten things up a bit. The next few posts will be light, fluffy and cheerful (and not so wordy).

During the break I saw two movies - quite out of the ordinary for me, despite the fact I love nothing more than going to the flicks. The films in question were An Education and Avatar, which are worlds apart. I really loved An Eduction, besides being completely swept up in Nick Hornby's fab screenplay set in London and Paris during the early '60s, I fell in love with the divine costumes. I'm not one to often fawn over fashion but I can't get the gorgeous garbs out of my head.

Here are some pics to show you why

Pics: courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Wednesday 6 January 2010

Sleeping like a baby - part two

Picking up from where I left off yesterday....

I was in hospital after having Goosey and Skip arrived to tell me the news that Lil-lil had been a little angel and had been sleeping perfectly. I couldn't believe it! Finally at 21 months of age, she was sleeping. Just when I had popped out another baby who was sure to keep me up at night. On one hand I was happy I wouldn't be getting up to two babies, on the other hand I was upset - couldn't she have done that a week before? Even a month before?

At home Lil-lil was sleeping better, but once I came back she was still waking at least once a night. Thankfully she would only take a couple of minutes to get back to sleep, instead of the standard hour. Goosey was a 'good' baby, she ate and slept like she was supposed to. I even thought something was wrong as she would sleep for three hour stretches - that was unheard of to me. The only thing she did during the first three months that was ' bad' was have a very long arsenic hour in the evening and cry for about three hours, which is pretty normal.

The months past and Goosey was still sleeping three hour stretches at night. Never really got the hang of anything longer. Lil-lil was sleeping through about 2-3 nights a week. By the time Goosey was 10 months old, she was still waking about every 3 hours. By this stage I hadn't really had any proper sleep in 2.5 years. To say I was exhausted is an understatement. I simply dragged myself around, I wasn't really alive. I wasn't a particularly nice person to be around. Inside I felt completely hollow and scared. I didn't know what to do. I couldn't even think about what to do as I would just crumble into tears. Most of all I felt like a complete failure.

The nights would be so awful. Every cell in my body was crying for sleep, every dark hour awake was horrific and then the sun would be up and I would look at my two girls and everything would be OK again.

Things started to get worse. Unbelievably Goosey started sleeping less. Waking every hour. In the end I gave up and just lay on the couch with her every night, never really drifting into a deep sleep. During the day I couldn't concentrate on anything. Every task was monumental. I was the walking dead.

I had a wonderful GP who sat me down during one of Goosey's appointments and said: "You've got a healthy, beautiful daughter. I'm not worried about her at all. I'm very concerned about you." He thought I may have had postnatal depression, but said there was no way he could diagnose it with the sleep deprivation I was suffering. He said I had to get to Tresillian quick smart. I really didn't want to go. I'd been twice before, what were they going to tell me that was new? Was I that crap a mother that I had to go back to Tresillian yet again?

But at this stage, my body and mind weren't functioning. I couldn't lose weight as my body was so stuffed from the lack of sleep. I couldn't remember things. I didn't look forward to anything. My complexion was grey. I was a bitch to a lot of people around me.

With no other choice, I went back. It was the best thing I ever did. Lucy started sleeping almost immediately. I think her problems were me. I was so exhausted, I just didn't have the energy to help her. I needed the support of Tresillian. Which is essentially what they do - hold your hand while you work out the best way to encourage your child to sleep.

I met a wonderful friend there who had been through a similar story to mine. She's fab and I wouldn't have met her if I hadn't gone back. I also learnt I wasn't a terrible mother, just a very very tired one.

The most important thing I learnt sleepwise is this - all babies are different. People - experts and other mums alike - will give a one-size-fits all approach, but babies are all so different and respond to different things. What worked for Lil-lil was a disaster for Goosey. One baby sleeps through the night at 3 months, another will still wake at 3 years. You aren't a failure if you're part of the latter (just as you're not a success if you're one of the previous - just lucky!). If you're suffering with anything to do with motherhood, ask for help. We're not superheroes or martyrs. We're not helping anyone, least of all ourselves, by suffering in silence.

With regards to controlled crying - I know a lot of mums feel a lot of guilt over it, but I think you have to weigh it up in the individual situation. If parents are at breaking pointor the lack of sleep is creating a huge amount of stress in the house, then I think these things are worse for the bub in the long run than to be subjected to controlled crying. Of course some kids respond well and quickly to it and others don't. We tried with Lil=lil and it didn't work (yes, I was consistent, blah, blah, blah); with Goosey there was barely any crying and it worked really well.

At 13 months of age Goosey started sleeping through the night, most nights. Lil=lil started sleeping through the night most nights too. It only took 2 years 10 months. After a week of decent sleep, I woke up from the haze. It was like a fog had lifted, I felt so much better about everything. I became alive once more. Life is so much better. Every night when I tuck myself into bed, I'm so grateful to know that more than likely I'm going to get some sleep (except for last night when Goosey decided to wake three times, hey nothing is ever perfect!).

I would like to take this opportunity to give thanks to the friends that stuck by me and gave me support during this time, it wasn't easy. To my mum, who always helped as much as she could. Most of all to Skip, it wasn't easy but we made it and we've got a wonderful family.

Tuesday 5 January 2010

Sleeping like a baby

I've ummmed and ahhhed about writing this post. In a lot of ways the memory is too raw, I just want to forget. I don't want to bore everyone about something that I was essentially obsessed with for almost three years. I don't want to be too self-indulgent.

Then I realised that a lot of people are going through it. Writing about it may help others, it may also help people who aren't going through sleep deprivation to understand. It may also exorcise some of the demons that are still lingering from the whole experience.

So as a warning now - 1) I am going to be brutally honest in my account.
2) Feel free to ignore, I will be writing all about babies and sleep - not the most thrilling topics for some.
3) I'm probably going to be focusing on the negatives, but the whole of this time wasn't terrible.

So let us begin...

When I was pregnant with Lil-lil I heard terrible tales about babies who didn't sleep until they were well and truly toddlers. These stories filled me with dread, because I loooooove my sleep. Though I didn't truly believe that I would be one of these parents who suffered with sleep deprivation for an extended period of time. Hey, I used to write articles for parenting magazines about how to get your bub to sleep through the night. I would be fine.

When Lil-lil was less than 24 hours old, I was holding her in my arms as she serenely fluttered her eyes and started to drift off... only for her lids to flick wide open and hers eyes begin darting around the room. She must have done this a dozen times. The dread, though small, began to well in me. For the rest of my hospital stay, Lil-lil didn't really sleep much. Constant cajoling from the midwives didn't really help send her off to sleepyland. They all assured me once we got home and my milk had come in she'd settle down.

Once home nothing changed. She fed well, but never really slept much. Well-meaning advice ensued - wrap her; unwrap her; get her into a routine; just let her scream; just curl up and sleep with her. As well as not sleeping, she was never really a happy chappy. Then one day when she was about 3.5 weeks old she started screaming, it was about 7am. She continued screaming all day. I mean all day. The only time she was quiet was when she fed. The Skip came home from work at 5.30pm to find me wandering around the backyard - Lil-lil was screaming, I was weeping. I called the Tresillian helpline who asked me: "Have you tried rocking her?"
Skip and I then walked the streets and tried anything to get her to settle. At 8.30pm we took her to a local medical centre and a doctor examined her. His verdict - "Hmmmm, there seems to be something wrong but I don't know what it is." At 9.30pm she collapsed with exhaustion, 14 hours of screaming will do that to you. Breathing a sigh of relief I went to sleep, only to be woken two hours later to - yep, you guessed it - more screaming.

The next day I looked at my little doll (and yes, she was a little doll) and thought: "It's only taken me three weeks, but I've completely stuffed her up." I cried to my mum, my sister-in-law, anyone who would listen: "Am I doing this completely wrong? Am I just being a wuss? If I am, please tell me and I'll suck it up."
I was then on the phone to the early childhood nurse and requested an emergency appointment. They told me to wrap her tightly and give her a good burp. I then went to my GP who diagnosed reflux. Thank god, I thought. Maybe we can help the poor little cherub and we can all get some rest. We spent the next three weeks juggling medications to find something that suited.

During this time I did a day stay at Tresillian. They couldn't get her to sleep. The nurse told me that she'd only seen a handful of cases of true reflux before and that Lil-lil was definitely suffering from it. We meddled a little bit more with the meds and it definitely seemed to help her. She wasn't sleeping but she wasn't screaming. Life was an endless blur of feeding and rocking and patting and shushing. I thought there would never be a time when I wouldn't be holding her in my arms. After terrible nights, Skip would throw her in the car and take her for two hour drives so I could rest. I remember lying in bed and hearing the gate clink and Lil-lil crying - it couldn't be them, they only left 5 minutes before, but alas I'd look at the clock and two hours had passed.

Christmas 2006, we went away with family for a beach holiday. I spent the entire trip gently coercing Lil-lil to sleep. Christmas Day I spent rocking her. After finally getting her to sleep I walked out to find Christmas lunch over. Skip had made me up a plate. I remember thinking: "The whole world is moving and I'm completely stuck. I'm invisible." It was like being dead yet still alive.

After yet another night spent upright, the dawn peeked through the curtains. Exhausted I threw Lil-lil in the car and drove. I drove through the gorgeous countryside of the NSW north coast. I now look back and think that was probably one of the stupidest things I'd ever done. Drive at high speeds on country roads, so sleep deprived and with my 8-week-old baby in the back. I was desperate. The only other way I had gotten her to sleep was to carry her in the Baby Bjorn - fabulous that she slept, terrible that I couldn't 'sleep while the baby slept'. All this time I had comments like: "She's just unsettled cause you're stressed at being a new parent" and "You don't look that tired, I'm sure you're getting some sleep".

After we got back I was admitted to Tresillian residential unit. It was such a wonderful time. I felt so supported. I started to feel that I wasn't a complete failure. I got some rest. We got some routines happening. I believe Lil-lil had associated sleep with pain due to her reflux, we needed to help her get over that. It certainly did help, she slept in her cot for longer periods. It took a huge amount of work though. A lot of bending over the cot side, shushing and patting.

At home things definitely improved. I got to sleep for a few hours in my own bed! Bliss. Things still weren't great though, but they were getting better. Over the next couple of months I expected her to start sleeping longer. That's what babies did right? Apparently not mine. Lil-lil still woke many times throughout the night. I wasn't completely crazy but I wasn't far off the mark. Most nights I was up to her four or five times. As she got closer to 7 months I was getting ready to go back to work. Full time. I wasn't sure how I'd manage it, but manage it I would.

Once back at work, I was still getting up every 1.5 hours during the night before waking for the day at 5am. I would then trudge into work with my eyes hanging out of my head to write pieces like: "Five easy steps to get your baby sleeping through the night", "Your sleep problems solved!". I would write these articles feeling like the world's biggest fraud. So many people in real life would call and ask me about there baby's sleep problems. "You have a bad sleeper, so maybe you can help me??" I thought I would be the last person people would want advice from.

By this time the sleep deprivation had a massive effect on my life. I stopped speaking to people who were my good friends. Skip and I would just plod through life, getting through step at a time.

I then went back to Tresillian. Which again was wonderful. Lil-lil at 8 months started sleeping longer stretches at night. She still screamed whenever she had any inkling it was bedtime. It still took a VERY long time for her to settle to sleep. She still woke several times overnight. She still woke for the day at 5am. Around this time I stopped talking about sleep to most people. I had bored everyone. No-one really understood exactly how little sleep I was getting.

She continued exactly the same way until she 13 months. I then discovered I was pregnant. I was terrified. How on earth could I do this all again? I didn't think that I could. Everyone kept telling me: "Next time will be different. Don't worry, the next one will sleep." I had to keep believing this!

I started to get excited about the thought of another baby. Besides the sleep issues, Lil-lil was a gorgeous, clever little thing. I was still getting up several times a night, my back aching as my growing belly made it harder to settle her in her cot. I was completely exhausted and started getting ocular migraines regularly, they would get so bad I would be completely blinded for up to an hour. I was also secretly picturing me, Lil-lil and the new bub up all night together.

Goosey finally arrived and she was a little doll too, though completely different to her sister. While I was in hospital, Lil-lil decided it was time to sleep through the night. I couldn't believe it, her timing was unbelievable. Was there some force out there not wanting me to sleep a whole night ever?

This is the end of part one. Part two will contain the sleep shenanigans of number two and my descent into insanity. Until then, sweet dreams.

Wide blue yonder

Recently I have been feeling very blue. Not down or depressed. Just wanting/needing blue things around me. Which is why I fell for the new blossom wallpaper adorning my blog. I've also been buying blue clothing, too. It's funny how at times in your life certain colours makes you feel, well, right or secure or something.

Happily the skies are brilliant blue today, so that's a blessing as well.

I'm currently writing an epic blog about my sleepless years, so hopefully that will be up later today or tomorrow. Ciao for now.

Monday 4 January 2010

10 in 2010

I'm not going to reflect back on 09 (it's all a bit of a blur as I've already mentioned), instead I'm going to focus on 2010. I love saying twenty-ten, it has special something about it. Plus I'm amazed that we're actually in 2010 - in my mind I'm still partying like it's 1999.

So to kick off on a positive note, I'm going to do my top 10 things to achieve/do in 2010. If they're written down for the whole world to see, then I might actually have to get off my bum and cross some of them off the list. So here we go:

1) Eat healthy and drink less (or not at all).
2) I want exercise to be a regular part of my day (yawn... I know, I know all very boring stuff but necessary).
3) I want to pamper myself more - take more time out for just me; buy myself clothes; do my nails; spoil myself with a pretty bauble now and again; get my hair done regularly.
4) Take some singing/music classes. I have been wanting to do this for so long, but now I want to find a way to make it happen.
5) Have a beach holiday with my family.
6) Start a long-term saving/investment plan.
7) Finish my backyard (it's been a project in progress for two years!) and make it a lovely place to be.
8) Plan an overseas holiday for 2011 - either New York or France (or both!).
9) Cook a sensational three-course French meal for Skip (doesn't really go with number 1, I know).
10) Find a wonderful dream to chase and start chasing it.

Bye bye break

Well the holidays are over. The Skip is back at work, the kids need to get back into some sort of routine after the craziness of the past 10 days and I think there is a house underneath all this carnage.

The upside is that it's time to start blogging properly again!

We had a wonderful time off together as a family. The week went fast but we packed lots in.
Two couple friends got engaged which was VERY exciting and it meant lots of French bubbles. It's so exciting to see good friends find such happiness.
We also saw two movies - two movies in one week is a world record for us, especially since the last movie Skip saw at the flicks was The Dark Knight. We saw An Education (brilliant) and Avatar (amazing special effects, but an hour too long and I hate being hit over the head with a message - nothing subtle about this blockbuster). We also had wonderful meals out and even went to a wine bar and listened to jazz, oh so grown up. We went out on a boat, went to the beach, went bike riding, went visiting, caught up with old friends. All in all a blissful week.

But today it's back to the grind... and, of course, the sun is finally coming out.

Sunday 3 January 2010

Every cloud...

Rain, rain go away.... or if you're going to hang around please make the kids start playing nicely together so I can bury my head in a book or the papers.
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