3

big school

Friday, November 7, 2014

Dear Olive,
You had your first transition to kindergarten day this week. The night before, you told me how nervous you were feeling about it and had a little cry that I couldn't come with you. I told you I was nervous too, and wished I could be there as well! But that I was excited for you, too. (And, really, how wonderful it is that you can express your feelings to me like that now.)
In the morning, I made sure we got ready in plenty of time and the walk to school was relaxing and enjoyable and we bumped into your one friend you know going to your school along the way. I just couldn't tell how you were going to handle it, and after standing around for ages, you just said 'bye Mum' and with a quick wave and no expression on your face, my tiny little girl was swept off in a sea of parents and children. I couldn't even see you walk into the building through the crowd; I just stood there weeping like an idiot. Except, all the parents were weeping, so that part was ok. Three hours later, you came pelting up from the playground, excitedly yelling MumMumMumMum and I knew immediately that you're going to do just fine at this whole school thing. (When you told me that you put your hand up during the teachers discussion about differences to mention that if we were all the same, we wouldn't be able to tell anyone apart, I wondered why I was even worried in the first place?)
I loved school, mostly the social aspect of it, but I am well aware that the type of learning environment offered in a state school in new south wales will not suit everyone. But I'm hoping we can make the most of it. And now we're both looking forward to it all getting started next January.

- This is one of the best TedEx talks I've seen Ken Robinson on how schools kill creativity. (He's got a heap of Ted talks which I'm planning on getting through - as much for his hilarious delivery as his ideas.)
12 things you were not taught in school about creativity.
- And - how unbelievably organised of me - I've started a "school lunches" folder where I'm saving lunchbox ideas. In there so far is this fruit whip, this article and how good do these look.



4

six point five

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Dear Olive,
Clancy has been with us for six a half months, and that beautiful bond you had with him at birth is steadfast. He is so close to crawling and I can see how that will introduce a whole new level of angst for you, and test your love in new ways. But for now, your lego remains safe - and so does Clancy. (On that note, he has been up on his hands and knees rocking and yelling for the past three weeks - he is as frustrated as hell, as am I.) 
As much as my heart aches for his newborn self (oh, the ache!), I'm loving this age. He is the happiest, jolliest little darling, and we couldn't possibly love him any more. His growing awareness of his body and movement, means we can share in the most gorgeous cuddles and play. And it's so beautiful to be able to see how much pleasure he gets out of our touch. Especially mine. Any old stranger can make this happy boy smile and laugh, but it is undoubtedly the Mum and Clancy show. No one has ever been more thrilled to see me walk back into a room. Ever. I remember feeling this way with you, also: it wasn't so long ago that he was a part of me, and that sense of connection remains amazingly strong for both of us. It is beautiful, and wonderful, and exhausting; I wouldn't want it any other way.
I loved every phase of you as a baby, watching you grow and learn was a gift, and I'm looking forward to enjoying Clancy do this, too ... only, I feel far less eager for him to change so quickly this time around. I know from experience just how fleeting this time truly is.
Please could he stay this way, just for a little while longer?

PS I had a bit of chuckle at this article, my Mum was well known for a bit of a fly off the handle (all for good causes, of course!), and particularly loved this description of motherhood "Motherhood seems complex, but it's simple, really. It's just beautiful, gratifying, unceasing effort."

Exactly two years ago, I was in an Oaxacan market in Mexico and quietly bought this little romper for the baby I hoped to have. And now, here he is wearing it.






6

f i v e

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Dear Olive,
It was raining when we brought you home from the hospital. You'd entered the world just four hours before, at ten minutes to ten am, and Shane dropped you and I off outside the building while he drove off to find a park. He seemed to take ages, and as you and I lay on the bed and looked at each other, I couldn't quite believe that I had grown this tiny, foreign, beautiful girl. I felt beyond lucky that you belonged to me, and I to you.
Five years later and I laugh at how small my dreams were for you that day. How could I possibly have imagined you up as you are today. You laugh loud and live big. You're hilarious, and smart, and an excellent drawer. You're enthusiastic, and social, and you love building lego (the girly, princessy type, thank you!). You're outspoken, and you wipe off my kisses (but that will never deter me). You love singing and swimming and dancing, and you are fierce in your love for Clancy. I have never ever seen anyone wear more clashing patterns and colourful ensembles than you. You're everything I hoped you would be, and ever so much more. And it wouldn't even matter, anyway, because if motherhood has taught me anything, it's been to let go of my expectations; I'm delighted and grateful to be able to just watch you be you, whichever way that takes you.
The night before your birthday, we left some balloons in your bedroom while you slept, and it was such a fun beginning to a great day of celebrating. There were presents and cake, and we had a few friends over for a birthday play date with musical statues and fruit wands. I was so excited to celebrate you and make a fuss, I know it's been such a huge year for you, in many ways you've taken a back seat since Clancy came along. But the way it's gone so far, five feels like it'll be your year. And it really does feel big. I nearly fell over when I watched you introduce your friends to each to other at your birthday playdate - as if you'd been introducing people your whole life.
Happy birthday, my darling girl, I love you.






4

baby food

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Dear Olive,
Clancy turned 6 months on the weekend just gone (I know! We can scarcely believe it, either). And aside from it indicating that we've all been loving him for half a year, it means he can start on food. It has always seemed sensible to me, to wait as long as I could before I introduced my babies onto solids - to allow their digestive system maximum time to mature. A friend told me recently that a baby is born with holes throughout it's gastrointestinal tract - an exquisite design so that antibodies in the breast milk can absorb directly into the babies blood stream. Isn't that amazing? 
There's a wealth of online resources about the growing nutritional needs of a baby, and how to go about meeting them through food - this article provides a great, easy to understand summary. And I found 'The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Care' by Sally Fallon to be an invaluable resource for feeding - and everything to do natural, nutritional health
So far, off my finger, Clancy's tried gently cooked egg yolk, and mashed carrots cooked in broth (he flat out refused to open up at all for avocado). I wouldn't say he was mad for either, and over four "meals" so far, I'd estimate he's eaten about one eighth of a teaspoon. In total. *sigh* It's a slow process. (Not to mention a terrible waste of good food.) I remember a midwife telling me when you were young that food was just for fun before one, and I think I'll be reminding myself of that in the months to come.

4

busy

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Dear Olive,
It could just be the culmination of two weeks of rain, but spring is here and this mornings sunshine has filled my heart with possibilities. After a pretty quiet winter (what a great time autumn is to have a baby), September is shaping up to be really busy. My next few weekends are jam packed with kids and adults parties, a friends art show opening (check it out here - AMAZE), and it's also my birthday this month. I'm thinking of leaving the kids at home with Shane and celebrating with a ladies dinner. The only time I've left Clancy was to go to the dentist; hardly a rejuvenating - or enjoyable - break.
Shane started on a new job yesterday, that will take him up to Christmas. (He's working on a movie starring Cate Blanchett and Robert Redford - so cool!) 
Life's taken on a few different incarnations this year, but it feels as if we're about to embark on another new normal. Hopefully an enjoyable one!


32

the birthing of clancy cash

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Dear Olive,
It was the Thursday before Good Friday and I was well and truly fed up with being pregnant, sick of receiving "any news yet" texts, and feeling pressure to produce a baby before Shane had a rare four days off work. I'd been noticing rhythmical tightenings all that day, but when I saw my midwife that afternoon, she seemed rather ambivalent about what they could mean seeing as they weren't accompanied by pain, so I tried not to get my hopes up. 
You and I went to collect Shane from work, and as we watched the bats fly out from Centennial Park, we both made wishes on the evening star. You told me yours (something about fairies - needless to say, it didn't come true), but I kept my wish to birth my baby that night to myself. (Now knowing now that my wish came true and yours didn't, you never tell me your wishes anymore.) We went out to dinner just the three of us, and all through dinner, I kept noticing the tightenings coming and going. We mused that it could be the last time we ate dinner as a family of three, and for that reason it felt like a momentous occasion, something worthy of a celebration. Although at the time, it seemed such a remote concept; that we would soon be four. We put you to bed after we got home, and Shane and I watched an episode of Game of Thrones. (Which, in hindsight, was the most ridiculously gory episode - the red wedding - hardly a gentle, relaxing lead into labour!)
I had two contractions during that hour that made me sit up and take notice, and at the end of the episode, I turned to Shane and told him the baby was coming that night. He didn't really believe me, and thought we should try to sleep, but instead we busied ourselves with packing bags (Shane) and downloading a contraction timer app (me). It felt exciting, but at the same time, the idea of labouring all through the night felt like a bit of a drag. Plus, the contractions were already a little painful and I knew they were going to get a lot worse! 
In the next hour or so I knew it was really happening, and I started to feel stressed out about what we'd do with you - the couple of local friends we'd organised to have you had all gone away for Easter. Shane kept insisting that we'd just bring you, but you'd become so emphatic that you didn't want to be there, and once my labour started I felt a really strong urge to not have you there, either. In the end, we called my brother, who came and collected you about 11:30. It felt like an emotional moment, waking you up and telling you the baby was coming that night. You cried, possibly with the enormity of the situation, but most likely because you'd wet the bed. Either way, we changed you, cuddled you, and you happily went off with Uncle Hayes in the dark of the night. 
I think my body let go once I waved you off, and my contractions started coming stronger, about four or five minutes apart. A bit after midnight, I called my midwife and told her I was in labour, and she suggested I stay at home for another hour. Shane put the plug in the bath, turned on the shower, and I hopped in. The water felt amazing, but I must admit, a part of me wanted to run away from what I was going through. In the dark room, I swayed and moaned and gripped the side of the bath. Over and over like a mantra I repeated what a friend had texted me ... loose lips, open mouth, fall into it. I realised I was carrying some fear; the contractions were hurting, even inbetween them I could feel pain radiating in my back and down my legs, and I was scared that perhaps my body couldn't do it on my own (after being induced after 15 hours of not progressing in labour with you), and I was frightened of what was still to come, too. I kept acknowledging the fear I was feeling, and consciously tried to let it go, willing my body to relax between contractions, breathing it out. A bit after 1, and with an overflowing bath, I told Shane I wanted to go to hospital. We only live about 10 minutes drive away, and I started to feel a bit nervous after I rang my midwife and she said she'd meet us there in half an hour. "Wait... what time can you get there?" I asked her, staring at our kitchen clock. She said she'd meet me there at quarter to two. That felt like an impossibly long time to me, I'd started to feel pressure building up in my bottom, and I tried not to panic. Shane said we could head straight up if I wanted to, but the time passed quickly, and we headed to the car. There was something so isolating about contracting in the dark of the night in the driveway. I kept my eyes closed for the car ride and gripped the back of the seat and it felt like it took a really long time to get there - in the short trip I had three contractions. We arrived at hospital and after the hilariously elongated check in with the hospital clerk equivalent of Basil Fawlty (are you sure you weren't born in England, Kellie?), we headed up to the birth centre. It was closed, but one of the midwifes from the delivery suite found us and let us in. She led us first into one room, but then changed her mind and took us through the same door that I laboured in with you; exactly the room I was hoping for. It felt like a fortuitous stroke of luck, getting this room again, but one that Shane and I acknowledged without talking. Shane immediately began running the bath and tried to cuddle me, to which I politely told him "not too much touching". (We laughed about that the next day.) Sandra our very lovely midwife arrived, apologising for being late. She checked my cervix, and when she did, my waters broke. She apologised again, knowing that I had really wanted to just let things run its course this time (after having my waters broken with you), but it didn't bother me at the time. She told me I was about eight centimetres dilated and as I hopped into the bath, she turned to me as she left the room and said "It really won't be long, Kellie love". In my mind, I thought but how long is not long! The contractions were so powerful, that between each one, all I could do was rest my head on the side of the bath. In the corner of my eye I saw Shane lingering around, not knowing how to help. I pointed to the chair in the corner, and he dragged it over and sat next to me. It wasn't very long before my body started pushing. I told Shane to get Sandra, because I was worried that I was still only eight centimetres. My body's pushing I told Sandra when she came in - even though it was pointless to worry because I could already feel the baby moving down. That's great! She said. So with her blessing, I pushed. And goodness, the feeling of that baby moving down was INTENSE. I looked at Shane in between a contraction, and said fuck this really hurts. It was not a sensation I remember feeling with you, in fact the whole labour was a huge deal more painful than what I remember feeling with you. But the pushing part, aside from the pain from the stretching, feels so powerful, and I thought of all the women who had gone before me, and how strong we are. I reached down and touched my babys head; it was the softest, loveliest thing I've every felt. It can only have been two or three contractions later when Sandra told me to look between my legs after the next one. I still at this point had no idea how long it would be until the baby was born, which seems strange to me now, seeing that I could feel the baby coming down. But all of a sudden, Sandra pushed the baby through my legs, and he came swimming up to me. I scooped him up out of the water and sat down. My labour had ended and sheer relief washed over me. It was immediately obvious that we had a son; I looked at Shane and he had tears in his eyes as he kissed me. Our boy was red and chubby and divine. And he was screaming! 
After a while, the cord was cut and the bath water, which had now turned red, was let out. Sandra helped me birth the placenta (I'd by this stage forgotten how to push!), and I got out of the bath and walked over to the bed. Shane and I cuddled our baby, and he fed for a long time. I had a tear which Sandra didn't feel confident stitching, so after about an hour, I threw on some clothes, and walked myself and my baby around to the delivery suite to be seen by a doctor. The labour had been swift and intense, but I felt amazing and almost completely normal. We were clapped and congratulated as we passed the midwives at the delivery suite desk.
While we waited to be discharged, I ate an egg sandwich Sandra found for me in the nurses fridge and read aloud Clancy of the Overflow; marvelling at the absurd possibility that this teeny baby boy in my arms could, one day, be a man. 
We walked out of the hospital with our new son (who was screaming again!) four hours after he entered the world. (And yes, we were those hopeless parents in the car park, battling to remember how to install the baby capsule!)
When you woke up that same morning at my brothers, you told them you'd had a dream the baby was a boy, even though you'd wanted a girl, and that even though you were disappointed, you loved him all the same.
Shane picked you up from my brothers after we'd had a quick sleep, and you ran through our door, yelling "Where's Clancy?". You kissed him and cuddled him, and I looked at you together and thought how blessed I am to have the two of you, and how amazing it is that the two of you now have each other.
Welcome to your family, Clancy Cash. We're so lucky that you belong with us.

5

melbourne

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Dear Olive,
Oh Melbourne, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. There's Smith and Daughters, Collingwood childrens farm, the NGV, the trams, my unreal friends there (who I miss!), Shane's family (wow, do they know how to cook a curry!), all the cafes, all the shopping, and all the food. The food! Even the weather was warm and sunny (it was basically exactly like Sydney). We rented a cute little apartment* in Fitzroy through airbnb, and it was non stop action for five days. And a super time was had by all.
(Clancy was sitting pretty in his new iBelieve pram - at times, so were you! We're loving having such an unreal pram to push around, amazingly it goes from stroller to bassinet in just a few clicks, so it's perfect for travelling with a young baby.)
*you've been bugging me for MONTHS to be allowed to try a donut ... imagine your delight when you discovered a bowl of them left for us by our host. Imagine my delight when, after a few bites, you declared it too sweet and horrible!

















1

road tripping

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Dear Olive,
Shane and I and you and Clancy, strapped into the car; 1,738 kilometres of Hume highway stretching out between here and there and here again. Featuring an old crappy yet charming motel (small beds, awesome carpet) where you discovered the terrible joy of sugary cereal! in a box!, lots of stopping by the side of the road (a couple of bush poo's), lots of great music, tons of laughs, and (as expected), a fair share of whinging and crying. 
It was so much more enjoyable than I expected. I'd do it all again tomorrow, in a snap.







4

the floury baker

Friday, August 15, 2014

Dear Olive,
One of the loveliest things about having Shane off work right now, is the number of meals we're getting to eat together as a family. We put away our phones and toys, put on some music, and try not to pay any attention to what you are - or most likely aren't - eating. (Your currently limited eating habits, however, are a whole other story!) This week has been extra special because we've had the delicious pleasure of dining on food from The Floury Baker, an online provisions store who now offers a home delivered dinner service. What a treat it was to find such a yummy package on our doorstep Monday morning! Anna Simamora makes all the meals with seasonal, Australian grown whole foods, without any preservatives or additives. The meals are frozen, then delivered to customers doorsteps all around Sydney. Anna's a professional chef whose food philosophy really resonated with me - she's all about flavour, texture, seasonal and sustainable produce. And her meals really do taste like hearty, home cooked food - albeit, hearty home cooked food cooked by a really great cook. (She also baked Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garners wedding cake once!) 
To celebrate the opening of their home delivery dinner service, The Floury Baker is offering free shipping on all orders placed before September 8 with the code dear olive. (Get the steak and mushroom pie! And the pork ragu! Actually, get anything, it's all good.)





1

cottage point weekend

Monday, August 11, 2014

Dear Olive,
We had a beautiful weekend away; bushwalking, fishing off a tinnie, hanging out with mates in front of the open fire, and eating waaaay too much good food. Sadly, our friends daughter ended up in hospital so a few couldn't make it, but the rest of us soaked it up. (Thankfully, it looks like our little friend will be ok. You made her a get well card that said "Dear Quincy, I love you. Naughty pain. Love Olive".) I found such a welcome inner quiet looking out onto the river through the gums. 
I haven't been able to go near the Hawkesbury without thinking about the traditional owners of the land ever since I read The Secret River a few years ago. It tells a devastating and haunting story of the first white people in that area and it's really had a lasting impact on me. Shane and I were moved to tears when we went past red hand cave on our bush walk and saw the hand prints left by the people who lived in that beautiful and rugged place first.









 

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