Dear Finn

If this blog were a pet, it would be a neglected, mistreated and very sad one, and its plaintive howling would have the RSPCA banging on my door. So in the nature of all sad and howling things it's all about learn to sing or die. It's evolution, baby.

To recap:

I started this blog on your first birthday, as my brain (and memories contained therein) was slowly destroyed by short sleeps, strong gins and the constant repetition of washing chocolate paste off walls, clothes and floors. At least I hope it was chocolate paste. I stopped writing this blog at the end of 2010. Not sure why, perhaps there was a little bit of loss as to what there was left to say, perhaps a wee bit of boredom, but mostly I suspect the appearance of your brother and your sister and your triumphant morphing into some sort of triangle of devilishness had much to do with it. With three small chocolate paste wielding evildoers there was not much time left for blogging, and by then the PC was mostly taken up by your growing addiction to anything screen. Youtube and Burnout Paradise mostly.

But life of course continued on. I did not blog about your first day of school Finn or Holly. I did not blog about your trip in the ambulance Tas, when I thought your teeth had gone through your chin and your grandparents were blithely sailing around Moreton Bay. I did not blog about your two trips to the ED Finn, nor your Dad and I getting married, nor your addiction to Minecraft. I did not blog about many small and menial details of our lives, which is probably the most unfortunate bit as that is where the fun is, and probably the stuff that my addled brain is most likely to erase.

But here we are. We have spent the last three years in our beautiful house in Brisbane. We have painted walls, planted a garden, drank many a wine, had many a dinner party and entertained a host of friends. The neighbourhood had BFFs, dogs, a park and Henry. We loved that neighbourhood and that house.

So of course, we left it, and moved to Sydney. Two weeks ago today.

Last weekend we went to a Kirribilli park under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, just across the harbour from the Opera House to listen to Christmas Carols and to watch the sunset. It was stunning and quite surreal. Sydney is full of these sorts of iconic structures and I find it hard not to be a gawking tourist. There were of course many other gawking tourists as well, including those ones I find rather hard to understand, those ones who like to take photos of you three, when they have no idea who you are and seem to not need to. They even like to pose in the photo with you. Maybe they like the smell of chocolate paste. You amusingly loudly asked why that lady was taking photos of you, your Dad replied because you're all so beautiful (I suspect it might be the blond).

We seem to have packed a fair bit into our first two weeks. Mountains of polystyrene and cardboard have travelled to our door, been thrown around, stomped on, cut up, drawn on, used as cubbyhouses, thrown off the balcony, and moved upstairs to be discarded. Somewhere underneath that mountain was the actual item purchased...so far a bookcase, coffee table, TV, entertainment unit, kettle, toaster, rubbish bin, coffee press, mattress, computer desk and vacuum cleaner. Your Dad was able to pass many of these off as birthday presents for me, since they arrived on my birthday which was also last week. 121212. Henceforth known as World Appliance Delivery Day.

You have made instant friends (as only 7, 5 and 3 year olds can) with an 8 year old boy upstairs. He is also mad keen on Minecraft, Skylanders and throwing cardboard boxes off balconies. It was one of those eyes meeting across a crowded Creeper-infested MacBookPro type things. Heavenly.

You have been to your future school and tried on your future uniforms.

Tas has been to an orientation at his future preschool and you rapidly determined that many of the kids had older brothers and sisters who possibly also liked Minecraft and would probably enjoy throwing things of balconies. You wanted their numbers for playdates for more eye meeting heavenly Creeper-infested joy.

Today, Mayan be the end of the world as we know it, but I still need to get some stuff done. With a Dad as addicted to mailorder as yours is, there are many trips to the post office. There was much wailing about boring, need a rest, tired of driving around, why? whyyy? WHHHYYY? ...to the extent that my inner strength folded up and slunk away. I've decided that those mothers that leave their kids home alone aren't the terribly neglectful creatures I thought they were, they're the smart ones. They knew damn well if they took their kids with them to the pokies, they'd be there for hours, when in fact if they leave the kids at home, they can lose their grocery money in 1 hour instead of 4. And what a peaceful hour that would be. Practically a holiday!

But enough of this fairytale holiday dreaming.

More important than anything, me, moi, your genius and loyal fan Mum, managed to buy mosh pit tickets to Bruce Springsteen in Brisbane in March. Yippee. We are going back to see our friends, our neighbourhood, your cousins and possibly our house. As much as I love this iconic laden land of ours, I can't wait to see Brisbane again.

As always, ever loving you and always here.

PS I would've included some photos, but I need a re-tutorial on how to do the scripty html thingo to embed them! Next time.

Picture perfect

Dear Finn

Yesterday you and Holly were writing notes, mostly to Dad, that you could leave under his pillow for him when he got home. It then progressed to drawing pictures of people. You drew a picture of two people, one of them you, and one of them Dad. You labelled them carefully so that Dad would know which one was him and which one was you.

You then stopped. You looked intently at your drawings and realised what was missing.

"Oh Dad has lots of hair on his tummy doesn't he?"

I haven't stopped laughing yet.


Dear Finn

The other day you were rubbing your Dad's nose with your finger. Your Dad was somewhat suspicious about the smell emanating from said finger, and thence from said nose. Unfortunately for him, his suspicions were confirmed far beyond his horrified imaginings when you told him proudly that you'd wiped your own bum when you did poos. You were very excited about the fact that you got a little bit of poo on your hand and EVEN a little bit of poo on your pyjamas! But that's OK you said. Uh huh. I think the things your Dad said are best not repeated.

It's a bit of a sad fact of my life, our lives, that this blog is getting harder and harder to write. Not that I don't have things to write about, it's just that I never seem to find the time, if I can say that without sounding totally pathetic and whiny. When I started this blog, 4 years and 99 blog entries ago, it was to document the small daily parts of your life that I was sure (correctly) I would never remember. I started it the day you turned one. So for four years of your life and the entire lives of your siblings I have been trying to create a string of memories that my mind is incapable of forming for more than five minutes or so. I read the older ones and already don't recognise my own voice, so I'm hoping you will read these when you are older and see that your Mum did at one stage actually like to spend time with you and wasn't always preoccupied with nagging at you to get dressed and put your shoes on, or constantly involved with folding, hanging out or bringing in washing. Life in this last year has (mostly) become a long series of repetitive minutiae, with only holidays or visitors to remind us that we still form a small part of a larger universe.

So in thinking of you reading this sometime in the future...I hope the future Finn won't take this the wrong way when I say I am looking forward to you hugely going to school next year. And your sister to kindy. And your brother into some kind of soundproof container (yet portable and stylish).

To illustrate: we have just got back from a trip to the supermarket followed by an excursion to buy a new fish for our Mr Siamese Fighter to glare at through the glass partition. The whole way was....I want to hold something, can I hold the yoghurt? (followed by a girlish echo) can I hold something? I want to hold the Weetbix, punctuated by random squeals from the front of yon pram holding as yet non-speaker. He undoubtedly thought he was articulating quite clearly which premium grocery items he would like to hold, hence the squeals getting louder and louder in disgust at maternal non-compliance. I was shuffling things around from small hands to big hands with such speed (as the Weetbix went from Item du Jour in one second to leprous the next) that at one time I fell into the daydream I was at the circus juggling the cereal aisle with the crowd. Shopping while juggling just ain't fun anymore.

So then...onwards to the fish store. I thought I had worked out the perfect compromise....there was to be one fish chooser and one fish carrier home. Of course you confound me (why would you not?) and you and Holly both decide that fish carrier is HOT and fish chooser is NOT. Ug. But then on your own behest (while I was lying in the middle of the road willing a truck to run me over), you decide to share both the choosing and the carrying. Absolutely astounding in your naivety if you thought Holly was going to have anything to do with compromise, but good one for trying. I've since erased the journey home from my memory, but be thankful we now have new fish at home, in tank, alive. It's a miracle, praise be. By the time you read this we will no doubt have repeated this process many many times. We don't seem to have too much luck with fish.

But that's all by the by. By next year this need for shopping with all of you beloved children of mine will be a thing of the past. Yay! Closer to present day, your Dad has been away for THREE WHOLE DAYS. And now he's back. I am EXTREMELY happy. And so are you. Double Yay!

love Mum.

Under Pressure

Finn: Dad, how did Tasman come out of Mummy's tummy?
Dad: Tasman came out of Mummy's vagina.
Finn: Noooo, that's just silly!

Finn, future gynaecologist, aged almost 5 years

Pressure, pushing down on me
Pressing down on you, no man ask for

Yesterday as we were lying in bed at the end of another day, your Dad turned to me and said I was his rock. I was sure he meant that I was some wondrous piece of carbon well on the way to becoming a diamond, or at least some sort of sharply dressed igneous, but what he really meant was that I was the rock on the edge of the precipice....the rock holding him back from leaping off. Lucky I'm so fat and heavy I said. Can't get around me and can't push me off either.

We joke of course, but this last year has been and continues to be tough. It's been a pile of house-building, house-moving, children raising and work pressure. An exhaustion-inducing mountain of stuff that seems to extend higher the more we climb. In hindsight it is easy to see that there are many reasons for our exhaustion...trying to build a gigantor complicated house and have a third child in the same year, having three kids under 4 in a region where kids don't go to school until they're 6, having three kids at all. I look back at the sentence I just wrote and see how lucky we are compared to many. We can afford (almost) that gigantor complicated house. We have three lively healthy kids. But all I really feel is....tired.

Tasman, you are now 15 months old. Walking, giggling, cheeky. You know exactly how to wind up your sister....you think being told NO! is funny, you sleep well, eat well and are mostly toddling down the bright side of the road. I love you to bits and you annoy your Dad intensely. This has less to do with the fact that you are too young to be sent out to work to pay off the bank, and too young to litigate for the return of his youthful hair colour and more to do with the fact that to see him is to love him and to love him is to cling to the hairs on his legs or his chest so tightly that separation is impossible. This makes you unbelievably happy, your Dad, less so. I don't understand it myself, this wish he has to achieve things, to get something done for himself, without Limpet Boy attached. I mean really...who needs to make a cup of tea or go to the bathroom? Where do you get these crazy over-reaching ideas I ask him?

For me Holly, it is you. My own personal demon, my little devil in short shorts. See, we're already stuck in that horrendous playing favourites thing that parents say they're never going to do and seem unable to avoid. You are almost 3 and are absolutely certain that your small self is the centre of the universe. You are demanding, petulant and whiny, destructive and funny. The fastest way to get you to do something is to tell you you can't. Your father even when enraged by your coating your hands in the plaster that he has expressly told you not to touch....or having to turn the pc back on for the umpteenth time because you slam the keys randomly (having expressly being told not to) says he finds it all endearing. I would dearly love to lock you in your room for the next 18 years but your Dad (after swearing under his breath) chuckles and calls you delightful. He is so illogical and you make me so mad. He then has the nerve to tell me that you are very like me. All of your pouting when you don't instantly get your own way, and your high priestess preciousness, and your cheeky grin. What rubbish I pout. I've a good mind to flounce away and not be his friend any more.

You Finn are the soul of good child, which is good and bad. I can sense that far too easily you could get lost in front of a TV or a computer game and not noticed for a wee bit too long. You try to be good, you're immensely empathetic and curious and you're generally happy. You love kindy and your bike. You are almost 5 years old.

Finn and Holly are in the bath.
Holly: Look Finn has got a penis!
(Holly bats Finn's penis to illustrate her point)
Mum: Holly, Finn's penis is his private parts, and we don't touch people's private parts unless they want us to.
Finn: But I want her to touch my penis.
Mum: (dazed and confused) Um. No you don't.
Finn: Yes I do.
Mum: (having absolutely no idea what to say) No you don't.
Finn: Yes I do.
Mum: You really don't want Holly to touch your penis.
Finn: Yes I do, I need Holly to touch my penis.

Finn, future shower taker, aged almost 5 years.

This is ourselves
Under pressure

Under Pressure - David Bowie, 2003 A Reality Tour
Gail Ann Lovely Dorsey indeed.

Home sweet home

Dear Diary

Well it has been a while since our last conjugal visit I see. I could use the excuse that I lost you in a box somewhere as yet unpacked, and largely it was your misfortune that I found the box with gin in it before I found you...but as you well know eDiary, that would be a load of hogwash. Perhaps I should just stick to the better late than never line and have done with it. I'm here aren't I?

A lot has happened in the last couple of months. Well one big thing...we moved house, hopefully for the last time. We left that crappy piece of Yeronga real-estate with its dripping taps and baked on grime and moved to our brand new house in Highgate Hill. Which is possibly slightly unfair to Yeronga as a whole. The area is lovely with its many parks and proximity to cafes...but yet again we seemed to have struck the landlords who have such a resistance to spending money to fix anything they make certain members of my family look like spendthrifts of the worst order. Them crazy Scots genetics! But never mind, it was only ever for a year and here we are, no longer there.

First BBQ in the new house

So a new house, with working plumbing and a garage connected to the house, an ensuite and a BBQ courtyard. I love it and find it stressful in equal measure. I'm not sure why...the pressure of keeping something looking new might have something to do with it along with the wish to have everything the way we want it. Renting you don't trouble yourself with dreams of feature wall colours or landscaping projects because there's no point. But when you own, and the only thing holding back your dreams is your lack of time or money or your sobriety level...it all becomes a bit more unsettling. It's taken me at least a month just to settle down and stop worrying. I was lying awake at night having anxious thoughts of blinds and curtains. Stressful little mind wanderings about garden paths and paving stones. It was horrible. And then we went away for a long weekend to North Stradbroke Island for a mate's wedding...I hadn't even realised I was stressed until I lay down on the couch...no cell phone coverage, no TV worth watching, nothing to do except hang out with friends, watch the kids turn a bathroom into a bubbly lake, have a few wines and breathe the sea air. I chilled out and it's been much better ever since.

Straddie spa bath

So here you are Diary, to hear the latest stories of me and mine. Going to people's weddings is always interesting. This time slightly more so because Finn (aged 4.5) wanted to know all about it...what getting married was and what a wedding was. His Dad explained to him that when two people loved each other really much and wanted to spend lots of time together they got married. And then he had to reel off a list of people who were married....like Oma and Opa, Grandma and Grandad, Kev and Liz, Collene and Phil, Ally and Bob and soon (then) Jane and Wilko! We waited for the inevitable question about his own Mum and Dad but it never came....wipe sweat off brow over that one! Hmm tricky. I can only surmise that his Dad would have said something along the lines that he was still waiting for someone who dressed a bit more like an airline stewardess and breathily uttered the lines "Another cognac, Dr Dinger?"

We always discuss the weddings we've been to, and wonder how ours would go should we ever attempt it...but it's never quite right. This latest wedding was lovely with its small number of guests, wonderful food and beautiful setting overlooking the sea...but there was still that pesky photographer with his direction of poses...a nightmare for someone as wary of the limelight as I. And then there's family issues...I would offend my family (that's you Dad) by not inviting 80% of them, and Marcel would confuse his family by getting married at all. After three kids and 10 years I can almost hear the big collective WHY? So I shall continue on my free and easy "single" ways for a while yet....dancing along my shelf, gin in hand, laughing at poo jokes with my very happy and beloved bastard children.

So our new house....it has a backyard with terraces and not much else. There are a couple of mounds of soil/rotting leaf matter put there thoughtfully by the builders which I never realised until now would be like the bestest thing ever to play in, nest in, scratch in...that is if you're a brush turkey. If we were in NZ that turkey would've made a lovely soup sometime on the second day. But here...beautiful Aussie native that he is...we're not allowed to touch him, move him or harass him.

I have done a wee bit of harassing I must admit, sometimes a few rocks have even accidentally left my hand at high speed heading towards him but it doesn't make much difference. Like most Aussies, he thrives on abuse. The other day Finn took it into his own head to deal to the turkey:

F: "Mum, there's that bloody turkey. I'm going to throw some rocks at that bloody turkey. That bloody turkey."
Rock throwing. Somewhat inaccurate.
F: "Mum can you throw some rocks at the bloody turkey please?"
M: "Finn please don't talk that way."
F: " What?! I said please!"

Holly has been loving the new house. Due to mountains of rain when we moved in, it was surrounded by mud and gravel and has easily reachable taps for the world's shortest 2.5 year old. Within a day of arriving here, both Finn and Holly realised they could reach all necessary opening and closing, on and off devices necessary for mischief...devices largely well out of their reach in an old Queenslander. They played in the mud until they looked like minstrels, trooped through the house discarding soaking clothes as they went and turned on the shower. You could follow the trail of muddy footprints along the hallway carpet, muddy handprints up the stairway walls and find them chuffed to bits in the shower...the door wide open, mud and water and steam all combining to turn the white bathroom into something quite a lot less so. They were having a lot of fun.

Happy as a pig

Holly has had a few regression problems with her toileting. She was pretty much fully dry when we moved here and has since gone back to weeing on the carpet, couches, where-ever she happens to be. She has been very resistant to going to the toilet when asked, and no amount of chocolate or other bribery seems to make any difference. Her Dad had a bit of a talk to her yesterday which seemed to resonate somewhat...she came up to me and told me she was going to go wees in the toilet, and that I would be so happy and proud of her. And whatever he said seemed to do the trick as yesterday and today she trotted off happily to do her business with no accidents. There were lots of hugs and kisses and "I'm so proud of you"s. I asked him later what he'd said to her thinking he might have come up with some genius gentle-reasoning psychological parenting speech. Apparently it was just that, he'd threatened that Mum would put all her undies in the rubbish and put her back in nappies. Back to the old good Dad bad Mum routine....never fails!

Holly channelling Posh Spice

Holly has even today improved on her previous toileting by cleaning up after herself. Upon pooing she is happy to jump down and grab the toilet brush to scrub up any mess she may have left on the bowl. Unfortunately she didn't think of flushing the toilet first...leaving a toilet brush rather more covered in poo than it might otherwise have been and a toilet bowl that looked as if the household has severe dysentery. Still I can't complain. Hugs and kisses and "I'm so proud of you"s.

Tas had his first birthday in the new house on the 6th of March. It was very poorly planned, to the extent that we weren't going to do anything at all, since his Dad was overseas and the house looked like something half organised...the sort of state that might be reached when someone starts unpacking boxes until they find the gin and then stops. But Grandma thought that something ought to be done for the other children (them who like birthday cakes, opening presents and blowing out candles) so she baked a cake and I decorated it and thankfully we have some nice friends who bothered to buy Tas some presents as no-one in his family did! I apologise in advance, third child for all other future uncaring and thoughtless events you will undoubtedly suffer...your mother is a stinky poo-bum.

Tasman turns one

So here we are. In our new house, thinking of such things as insect screens, irrigation plans and a front fence. Must put that washing line up, phone the pest guy, phone the lighting shop and chase up the handrail guy. Might think about some suitable "hide all hand-print" wall colour for the stairwell. To buy: a coffee table, some bar stools and bench seat cushions, a bigger bed and some new towels...but not until we have some cash.

Maybe I'll just forget about it all and go for another long weekend on Straddie. Anyone want to house sit?

Tasman channelling his maternal Grandad