Tuesday, April 15, 2014

zwischen / in-between

Dear Olive,
I'm finding this period of waiting for my labour and my baby a deeply reclusive, emotional, and introspective time. One that is filled with a strange mix of frustration and calmness. I felt it as a definite shift around 38 weeks pregnant; I stopped wanting to be social, and instead just wanted to wait in private. Time to just be.

My lovely friend Jodi mentioned the concept of zwischen/between to me in a comment on my waiting, waiting post, and then beautiful Ash sent me the link to THIS article. I read it sitting on the grass at South Bondi, overlooking a calm grey sea. And I cried and cried.

PS For anyone who is thinking of texting "is there any news?" ... please don't. There's not. But we'll be sure to let you know when there is.

Sunday, April 13, 2014


Dear Olive,
Before two weeks is out, you'll be a big sister.

Linking up with Jodi.

Sunday, April 6, 2014


Dear Olive,
Sitting on the table, drawing. Your drawings have become more and more intricate and complicated lately. So much story on just one page!

Linking up with Jodi.

Friday, April 4, 2014

waiting, waiting

Dear Olive,
Tomorrow, I'll be 39 weeks pregnant; the house is spotless, curtains have been sewn, pictures have been hung. Baby clothes are washed and folded, there are unopened packets of newborn nappies in the garage, and a few cooked meals in the freezer. We even finished watching the final series of breaking bad last night.  I've nested about as much as I want to, and now, along with being immensely tired, the waiting has begun. I pretty much feel like just staying in until this baby comes out - which is altogether impossible with you around, needing so much more out of each day than I do. Rather ironically, just as I am hitting my least energetic phase, your energy levels are all of a sudden boundless, and there is no way of wearing you out anymore. Even more than your intense level of physical energy, it's the mental energy that wears me down the most. It's a constant barrage of ideas/questions/negotiations/creating/songs/stream of consciousness type conversations firing out at me all day long.  Even when you're playing alone, it's conducted out loud. As tiring as it all is, we're figuring it out. And I actually feel quite content in the waiting.* Perhaps I'm not yet ready for this baby. In any case, I surrender to my body to know when it's time.
PS I was at the birth centre having an appointment this morning when an amazing Mum was wheeled in on an ambulance stretcher; she was beaming, and holding her brand new, born at home in an hour baby. (After having a cesarean for her first baby.) What a woman!
*So far. I am well aware this may change extremely quickly after 40 weeks!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


Dear Olive,
Life's just one big song and dance.

Linking up with Practising Simplicity.

Monday, March 24, 2014


Dear Olive,
This week we've had Mum, how did you and Dad meet and mate? And You know, I didn't see Dad give you any sperm.

Linking up with Jodi.

Friday, March 21, 2014

preparing for birth

Dear Olive,
Tomorrow, I'll be 37 weeks pregnant. (And I've got my bloat on to prove it.) I'm feeling a little hurried to begin preparing my mind and body for my labour - but here we go! When I was preparing for your birth, there was one main thought that kept coming back to me ... I may not be able to control what will happen, but I can control how I handle it. And throughout it all (which, briefly, was a 17 hour, non-progressing, transfer out of the birth centre into the delivery ward to be augmented on cyntocin kind of labour which ended in a normal vaginal delivery), I managed to stay - more or less - calm and happy. I'm not sure how accurate this is, but my midwife told me she'd never seen a woman making jokes at full dilation before. The whole process of giving birth to you was just so extraordinary - an experience I still feel grateful for. And that is the attitude I hope to take into the birth room with me again this time: calmness and positivity. (And whenever they seem to be flailing, that's when I expect Shane to step in. You reading this, Shane?) 
Although I must admit, while I'm looking forward to this labour, there are some doubts creeping in (what if I can't handle it, what if I end up needing a cesarean, etc). So I'm turning to some trusted resources to help ensure I don't take them on board.
- Janet Balaskas Active Birth was hands down the most useful thing I read leading up to my labour with you. I borrowed a copy from the library a couple of weeks ago, and I'm finding it equally as inspiring this time round. (It's worth it for the awesome photos of women giving birth in the 80's alone.) "The whole process of conceiving a baby, being pregnant, giving birth and mothering is part of the sexual and spiritual life of a woman, and is basically rooted in the natural and undisturbed unfolding of a series of psychological events."
- Who can go past natural birth legend midwife Ina May Gaskin. She's got a tonne of great books, and you can watch her TED talk here.
- I'm trying to incorporate a little meditation and breathing practice into my daily life. (And actually, this is more like every other day kind of daily practice.) I did a calm birth course when I was pregnant with you, and I realised very early on in my labour how much it helped me to just focus on my breath through each contraction.
- On top of that, basically I'm hoping my body still holds the memory for what it did four and a half years ago!
As an aside, you've had this assumption that you'd be there, and I must say, at the beginning of my pregnancy, it felt like the most natural and obvious path; to include you in the birth. My brother and I were at my sisters birth and it was a terribly exciting and memorable occasion - but it was at home, and I suppose being at home, we didn't need any looking after, we just came and went as we pleased from the room. (It was also a very short and straightforward labour.) And as my labour looms, I've started doubting that having you there is the best plan. (Has anyone had any experience with having their older children at the birth? Especially those labouring in a hospital or birth centre setting?) I guess I had better hurry up and get my alternative plans in place! And just to bring relief to my friend Clare (thank you for the text), I'm off to pack my hospital bag.

Sunday, March 16, 2014


Dear Olive,
I've been really uninspired to take photos lately; I blame the lethargy of late pregnancy. But I did take the camera along when we went up to centennial park this week. It had been a pretty crappy morning and of course getting out was just what we both needed to turn around the mood of the day. We fed the ducks, and then we wandered through lachlan swamp - it's damp and muddy and wild and home to thousands and thousands of bats. I took this photo just before one of the bats poo'd on me - nailing me on my shoulder, my hand, and my camera. There was just so much of it, you assured me it couldn't be anything but bat diarrhoea.

Linking up with Jodi.

Friday, March 14, 2014

art safari

Dear Olive,
Sometimes I wonder why we live in a city. We pay all the exorbitant prices for housing and food, put up with the worlds most dreadful traffic and parking situations, yet we don't really take enough advantage of all the great things living in this city has to offer. Instead, we seem to treat Bondi something like a remote island, contentedly hanging around within its safe, familiar borders. So when my friend Susie offered us a couple of tickets to come along on an art safari, we immediately said yes. I'm so glad we did - it was so fun! You seem to really need these structured activities in your life at the moment; you certainly get a lot out of them anyway. We brought your cousin Poppy along with us and the two of you had a ball (you pretended to be sisters which was really sweet - there was a lot of hand holding). The class is run with just a small group of kids and there was a story, a gallery tour with hands on activities, and a craft session - all designed to get you thinking and talking about modern art. You enjoyed all of it, but YOU LOVE CRAFT. I can pretty much guarantee that you will always be the last kid standing at the craft table, and yes, this time, ever so predictably, the rest of the class had left the room and the teacher was packing up around us, as you finished off your picture. 
I really need to remember to get us off the island more often.
(For Sydney people, March is bring a friend for free month! See here for a listing of all the classes - there's lots of different classes for kids of all ages.)
PS You made the monster picture.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Dear Olive,
I've felt a little overcome lately with how illequipped I feel for proper, grown up parenting problems. When you have a baby, yes it's all consuming, and relentless, and bloody exhausting, and you tear your hair out (well, that which hasn't already fallen out post birth), desperately trying a million different techniques to get them to sleep ... but, really, it's pretty simplistic; if you feed the baby, love the baby, and keep the baby close, the baby will most likely thrive. When I had you, I didn't really give a great deal of thought to how to parent you beyond being a baby - certainly not much to how we'd successfully navigate through periods of problem behaviour. Which, admittedly, was rather short sighted of me.
Just four years on from the baby phase, things are feeling quite a bit more complicated. Here we are, trying to help a sensitive little person navigate the complexities of being four, without really knowing what it is we should be doing. And suddenly, what it is we should be doing, feels so very profound. There have been times lately when I feel terrified, because if I get it wrong, I actually have the potential to fuck up someone's life! (And if it feels this serious at four, goodness help us at fourteen.)
Faced with some pretty intense emotional and behavioural challenges from you in the past month, Shane and I have come up with a bit of a plan. We've formed a united and consistent front to set some boundaries for you. We're (somehow! and unbelievably!) remaining calm and firm in the face of your sometimes ridiculously outrageous overreactions. We're trying to make sure you feel understood, and listened to. We're talking a lot, and ultimately trying to arm you with alternative behaviour options for dealing with situations you find stressful, so you can learn to self-regulate. And, in just a couple of weeks, it's made a very noticeable difference to your behaviour. We're having a meeting with your preschool teacher next week, and we're reading a couple of parenting books. 
I think we're going to make it.

- Tearing blindly through a maze ... feels rather like parenting sometimes!
- After many recommendations for both, I finally ordered these books. I'm only half-way into raising your spirited child, but so much is resonating!
(Interesting extra reading on cultivating emotional intelligence - part one, part two, part three.)

Monday, March 10, 2014


Dear Olive,
I'll never stop loving you, Pepper! You tell her all the time.
Uncooperative is the word that springs to mind when I think about trying to capture your portrait this week. I said, no photos! has been yelled, countless times. Doors were even been slammed in my face - when I tried to photograph you in your room from the hallway. Saying good morning to Pepper proved to be just the distraction I was needing. Next week? Who knows.

Linking up with Jodi.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


Dear Olive,
On a grey old Sydney evening, we met up with Gui and Michaela Jorge at Nielsen Park. I roasted a chicken, baked a cake (this recipe - REALLY delicious) and we chatted and ate and and you tore around, mostly pretending to be a dog (you couldn't believe the dogs prohibited sign!).  
The photos they took, made me cry. The three of us, before we become four.

Monday, March 3, 2014


Dear Olive,
This weeks photo is kind of a cheat ... because it was actually taken two weeks ago, and not even by me*. But I really wanted to include it in as a portrait because I see so many things looking into your eyes in this photo; wildness and complexity and raw vulnerability. (Plus, having not taken any photos of my own, I was in real trouble anyway!)
* Photo by Gui & Michaela Jorge - I can't wait to share the rest of the photos they took tomorrow!

Linking up with Jodi.

Friday, February 28, 2014

the name game

Dear Olive, 
We need help! We're struggling to come up with a name for this next baby. With you, I came across the name Olive when I was about 14 weeks pregnant, and it was the only name I had for the rest of my pregnancy; there was smug comfort in knowing that if we had a girl, she'd be called Olive (and funnily, enough, we never decided on a boys name at all). You suit Olive, and Olive suits you, and even though it's growing popularity is a teeny tiny bit irritating (I'd never even heard of another Olive before you!), I still really love it. With this pregnancy, there's been no single name in my head the whole time. And the added complication this time, is that on top of Shane and I having to agree (which is tricky enough in itself), it feels like the new baby name somehow needs to match a little with yours. Unfortunately, prior to getting pregnant, my top names were all other foods. (I can't really have an Olive and a Basil, or an Olive and a Ginger, can I??) The other tricky factor is that we seem to know so many people with kids, that it feels a little as though all the good names have already been used up.
You've been of no help - you cried when we said we probably wouldn't use your suggestions of Rainbow Butterfly or Sparkles. My friend Claire, however, has been hugely helpful - sending me bunches of long texts, overflowing with name ideas (nicknames included!), many of which I adore. And now Imi is getting in on the name list action, sending me a long and comprehensive list too! (Thank you - keep them coming, ladies.)
While there are some definite front runners, somehow, we can't seem to settle on The One. (Well two, seeing as we need one for a boy and one for a girl.) Perhaps I need to let it go, that it's ok if this baby is just be "the baby" for it's first few days or weeks of life. THE name will come eventually ... right?

What names are you loving at the moment? Want to take a guess at our top names or help us out with some suggestions?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

last week in pictures: the coffs edition

Dear Olive,
You and I spent last week in Coffs. Shane was to come, but he got offered a big job and ended up staying in Sydney to work, instead. It was a bit of a mixed bag, our week. You got sick, which made me extremely tired. Then you got out-of-control-and-out-of-character crazy which made me extremely stressed. You were having these huge, on the floor screaming reactions, over seemingly nothing, and it made me question my parenting, all over again. All in all, it felt like a bloody long week. But there were lovely moments in there, too. (And I'm relieved to say, your behaviour has returned to normal since we've gotten home.)
1. I can pretty much rely on you to be asleep before we've even completed take off.
2. Dads garden grows pretty wild these days, but there's lots of loveliness in there too.
3. When I was younger, on a new years eve afternoon, I tore across this bridge and got an enormous splinter in my foot! I ran, crashing through the bush to where my parents were meditating to their friend playing the flute. No one could pull it out, so I had to wait while we packed up our picnic, drove back to Coffs, and it was cut out at the doctors.
4. Exploring the rocks and looking for tadpoles with Papa.
5. SUCH incredible beauty in the Australian bushscape.
6. You are so, so, so into animals. Seen here holding a caterpillar at the butterfly house.
7. And here, a butterfly.
8. Curly haired cousins.

Joining in with Ems weekly stills collection.