Thursday, July 31, 2008


We have been celebrating:

It was Gaye’s birthday on Friday, and unlike the huge todo we had for her 40th last year, this year involved the presenting of a present that she picked (much to Thomas’ horror) and an afternoon tea with just the four of us after school.

That night thou my sister came and babysat and Gaye and I went out to dinner at a local place and chatted (mainly about the boys of course) which is something we haven’t done in an age. Afterwards we wandered to our favourite local bookshop and bought a book each to read. Gorgeous.

On Saturday Gaye, Al and I (Thomas was playing soccer) headed off to Burrawang to celebrate a friend of Gaye’s 40th birthday. It was a fairly low key event and there were a multitude of kids under 5 there. It was pleasant and I always find it good to get out of Sydney for a bit.

This is a very good friend of Gaye’s who she has known since she was in her early 20s. I always find it slightly amusing that although they are very very nice to me this set of friends treat me like the ‘new girl’ even more than six years in. The ‘old girl’ (or perhaps in their minds the real girl?) was also there as her friendship with them also dates back decades (Gaye and she met each other through this friend). She is a nice woman and I always enjoy having a chat to her. But I also feel like we are both being watched very closely.

The last week has seen a real improvement in Dad. A real reason to celebrate. His infection seems to be clearing and his state of mind (perhaps the most reassuring) seems so much more positive and forward thinking. He and Mum have decided that it is not worth the improvement in the odds (about 4%) to undertake the torrid path that is chemo. So we are just doing the wishing and praying and hoping thing for the next … oh …five years or so that nothing turns up in the regular checks.

Today there is another celebration as Gaye has officially completed her Masters. Should she be the sort of person to go to the ceremony today would be the day. She isn’t doing that. But even so it feels significant today. Particularly as she managed to complete the thing with a ‘D’ average including HDs for her last subjects. Pretty bloody impressive while working, building a business and raising two boys me thinks!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Update on Dad

I have been trying to get up the nerve to write about my Dad. But the very act of writing makes it more real and so I avoid - even thou I often feel much better for writing about things in my life.

I spent the end of last week with him. I can't tell you how hard is was to leave him drive back to Sydney, I had a little weep between Goulburn and Mittagong!

He is okay, but it was such a shock to see him - he has lost 11 kilos and he wasn't large to start with. Frail. Gaunt. Are the words that come to mind. And old.

My Dad is only 65, and my hope is that this will be an illness he gets past and over. I was a bit inspired (as his he) by our long term neighbour and friend who is now 5 years clear of bowel cancer. This is my plan for Dad too!

But right now - it is hard to see him in pain, worn out and without his usual umph.


And so we begin again another term and this term another teacher (and a new haircut, new school shoes, new lunch box and more pencils). Thomas has had such a lot of change this year, but he was originally thrilled at the thought of having a male teacher…nine days in he is not so sure as he is finding him very strict (strickt). And so, we are talking regularly about how nice his previous teacher (who he complained about regularly!) really was after all.

Starting the term and the daily during the week challenges of balancing getting to and from school and work, doing homework and sport and music practice has been made considerably easier because shhhh (don’t anyone say a word) Al is sleeping. All night. Regularly.

This meant that we have all had so much more energy and general goodwill in our home. I have even joined (in fact pretty much offered to run) the brand new band committee at school.

Our new found energy is best demonstrated by the fact on that on the weekend we headed out on the weekend for our twice annual trip to Ike@.

It always starts like this …

Me: we have no tea towels have to remember to buy some next time we go to Ike@.
Her: must remember that broken lamp in our room to and replace it next time we go
Me: and didn’t we want to get some more of those covers for the cushions?
Her: Hmmm we will have to go soon

This conversation is repeated occasionally building to often until we have a list of things (wrapping paper and ribbon, tea towels, tea light candles, hand towels for the bathroom and other things that for some reason we break regularly – like bedside lamps) that we tend to buy in bulk from Ike@.

We always get there somehow like this …

Eventually there is a tip over conversation.

This weekend’s was like this:

Me: We really should get Al a small set of chair and tables that we can have him sit on so he can be doing his drawing and eat snacks there.
Her: Yeah I think that is a good idea, but I didn’t really like those ones we saw (at the local furniture place)
Me: Me neither. I think the ones from Ike@ are so easy to look after. We don’t want to feel fussed about what happens to it.
Big him: Don’t forget you promised we could get a rug for my room, they have nice ones at Ike@ don’t they?
Me (in an aside to her) Gawd I think we promised that 2 years ago
Her: (grimace) You could be right
Me (in a louder voice): Shall we go in the morning?

When we get there it is always like this:

Me: (as we drive into the car park) Gawd we aren’t the only ones here are we
Her: No what were we thinking on a Sunday morning
Me: I think I had this idea of whipping in and out
Her: That isn’t an idea it is a fantasy. A fantasy. We really need to check in with each other about these things before we actually head out in the car.

Followed by:

Walking around the long winding pathway, dizzy with the options and quantity of people and stuff that is Ike@
Big him: Hey Mum can I take Al down the slide?
Me: Did you bring the list?
Her: (grinning) Nup
Me: (grinning) me neither


Her: Is all of Sydney here?
Me: Pretty much
Big him: I can’t decide between the orange or the red or the cream one with long bits (shag)
Me: Poor carpet deprived child needs shag

It always ends like this:

Me: God I have to get out of here I will never get those lost hours of wandering in the wilderness that is Ike@ back in my life
Her: Nup they are gone, vanished
Big him: Oh no we forgot X Y and Z, shall we go back?
Me and Her: I need 12 months to recover first darling
Big him: Jinx

Then we get home, we put the things we have bought away or put things in the things we have bought. We look at Al on his little stool and chairs and think ‘how cute’ we pull out non-stained non-falling apart tea towels from the draw. It fades...We forget. And then it starts again….

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Taking up the challenge

I am taking up Lois' challenge... nice thing to do really sit around and think about what I like about Gaye...

Where did you meet?
We met at work and we were both going through separations from long time partners and we bonded over that. I remember her as the first person that seemed like one of my friends – everyone else seemed so straight and old. She was much more senior than me and I was so impressed that she had worked her way up the ladder to that point at her age.
How long did you date? Hmmm that is complicated really we were a bit on and off at first – what is dating exactly? Is it before you say ‘in a relationship’ or before you move in? We were in a relationship about three years before we moved in together.
How old is she? Gaye is 40 thou she doesn’t look it. People are forever asking me how much older I am than her…and I am 18 months younger.
Who eats more? She does but she is also much thinner.
Who said, “I love you” first? I imagine it was me. I am much more emotionally forthcoming and I was much more sure of my feelings earlier than she was. To me the feelings part of it was straightforward. I don’t remember when I told her but I clearly remember when she told me. We were camping.
Who is taller? I am much, but most people wouldn’t notice as Gaye almost always wears heels. The first time we kissed when she had her shoes off I stopped and said ‘wow you are much shorter than me huh!’
Who sings better? Me – Gaye is enthusiastic but not all that tuneful. Apparently one of her earlier partners used to ask her – very gently and nicely – not to sing for a bit from time to time. She sings to Al all day and night and he loves it. I hope to hear her singing all my life.
Who is smarter? She is – she used to argue the point I was ‘cause I had a Masters and she didn’t. But now she has one of those (with a D average at that) and the truth of it is she has all the sorts of smarts – traditional academic smarts, good ideas, common sense, ability to see the big and small picture, keeping things on track and is very intuitive with people.
Whose temper is worse? Mine is a more regular visitor to our lives. I am more likely to get grumpy or impatient and tend to be loud about it. But is short lived. Gaye’s bad moods come much less often but they have incredible staying power. She is quiet and controlled with her temper. Much more scary than me!
Who does the laundry? We have so much washing it is hard to tell. But most weeks mainly me with plenty of input from Gaye.
Who sleeps on the right side of the bed?At home Gaye – but that is because I sleep near the door
Who pays the bills?Gaye – she has been sorting out our finances since we lived together. We sometimes talk about swapping.
Who cooks dinner?Gaye mainly, thou I do it too but increasingly less often. She can whip up dinner in a moment. We share when we are having visitors.
Who drives when you are together? Gaye usually, but sometimes me. She will always do most on long haul trips.
Who is more stubborn?Hmmm – depends on the issue. I have a couple of issues around Thomas that I am completely unmoving on. Gaye has more staying power than me on everything else thou.
Who kissed whom first? She kissed me. I am such a sop it still makes me feel a bit swoony when I think of it. She said ‘I don’t think I can let you go home without kissing you’ and then she did.
Who is the first to admit to being wrong?That would be me – but I am most usually in the wrong!
Whose parents do you see the most?Mine – they live closer but we usually see hers for longer stretches of time.
Who proposed?Can’t be getting married in this country so no proposals for us. We have discussed if we would get married if we could and that has been initiated by both of us at different times.
What’s her best physical attribute? See I could say her eyes – they are blue and sparkly and warm but actually I think it is the way she carries herself. One story demonstrates this well I think.

Gaye is a bit of flirt and a chatter-up of people (this is like all people the bloke at the grocery store, the newspaper seller). She also ‘notices’ people – well women. I am a bit hopeless in relationships and only really ‘see’ my partner in that ‘woo hoo she is a bit of hottie’ sort of way. In the early days of our relationship I would tease her about the flirting and she would point women out to me who she thought were spunky.
Anyway when we were living in different cities she was in town for work for a week or so and staying with me. We left for the day both dressed in suits and went to our different meetings in different parts of town. Her finishing time was unclear so we agreed to meet up at home and go out for dinner locally. I decided to leave work early and was in town walking to the station. As I walked along a woman in jeans, a white shirt, heels and a leather jacket walked across the road in the other direction (back towards my work place) in front of me about 4 blocks away. And I thought – hmm she is a bit of spunk! (I then felt completely mortified because I had never had that feeling before and I wondered if it meant something).
Course it turned out to be Gaye, changed and come back into town to meet me as a surprise. She was to far away to really see and I wasn't expecting her so I think it is just the way she carries herself. I often notice it when she is walking towards me from somewhere or standing at the kitchen bench. It is just yummy...
Who has more friends?Gaye – she has a lot of friends and they are all over the country. Se forms really solid friendships with people that she is careful and respectful of.
What are you most proud of her for?Lots of things she lives her life with integrity, she is kind and just. She is an amazing mother and showed real resilience around following the realisation of that dream. But most proud? Probably the way she has taken and accepted Thomas into her life and her heart.
Who has more siblings? Me I have two she has one.
Who wears the pants in the family?Hmm – generally I wear the actual trousers; Gaye likes a frock (over the pants of late with her boots) or a skirt and heels. But in the other sense – Gaye I think, she is definitely the leader, inspirer and decision forcer! Without her strength of conviction I would still be avoiding change and deliberating.

Feel free to take up the challenge yourself...let me know if you do

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

See it is funny now but then I was just shocked

Thought I would share my end of term conversation with a woman from school. It seems a bit funny now - in fact it was my story of choice with the g&l friendly crowd I was out with on Saturday night and we all laughed about it. I even rang in and told it on the forum (when they discuss modern good manners) on 702 when a same sex parenting issue came up. But at the time I was, well, gob smacked.

I am used to people asking me how we got Al and/or who had him. And although at first I was a bit shocked by people's brazen-ness just walking up and asking - I have stopped saying 'same as you egg and sperm' or 'picked him up in woolies' and just started saying in as matter-of-fact tone that I can muster 'our beautiful boy was made with the help of IVF, Gaye carried him or (for kids) he grew in Gaye's tummy' sometimes I add 'he has a donor he can trace if he wants to when he is older' and sometimes I say 'she tried for such a long time to have him, he is a bit of a miracle' because I have decided that is what I want Al to hear about his conception and I want it to be matter-of-fact in his life. Not something curious, to be hidden or whatever.

Anyway...this day this woman let's call her MM (mother of boy- same age as Thomas- separated from his Dad) who has known me - through school pick ups for the past three years or so comes running up to me in the school yard one day. Apparently she ran into Gaye walking Thomas to school with Al the day before and so the next day when I am picking Thomas up with Al in my arms she comes running up to me and says 'so is this your little donor baby?' Can I just repeat that I was HOLDING the baby. He was in my arms in hearing of being called a 'donor baby'

I was speechless and I think my face must have dropped about ten kms. I certainly took two steps backwards and muttered something like 'erm this is my baby Al' she followed me reaching out for the baby saying 'oh yes of course he is yours too, don't get me wrong I have no problem with it I even thought of it for myself' (again how strange is it that people who hardly know you want to tell you that they are okay with your decision to have a child this way) I kept walking backward pulling Al close into me and said something like 'really' in, I imagine, a rather cold tone. She kept on 'I think it is amazing I have no problem with it' but my expression must have completely put her off and she quickly moved away when I made some excuse about needing to find Thomas' teacher. She has avoided me ever since - probably decided that I am rather oversensitive.

Afterwards I so wished I had said 'and how is your intercourse baby going anyway?' Anybody got any other good comebacks?

Saturday Night

On Saturday night we went to the 40th birthday party of one of my oldest (as in longest known!) friends. I have celebrated his 18th, 21st, 30th, wedding and now his 40th with him. He and his lovely wife have seen me through my hardest and best times as well as just all the normal stuff. He is a good man and I am proud to call him my friend.

Soy was keen on a party that was reminiscent of our youth and had beer, fried food and friends and didn’t involve the kids that we all have now. It was kind of like that but rather more sophisticated, as the beer was boutique, organic and preservative free and the bar snacks were multi-national and weren’t served with tomato sauce.

It was the first time in a little while Gaye and I had been out together without the kids and we caught the bus into town in a way that reminded me of my young days out with Soy. Aunty Lou was our babysitter for the night and had a fabulous time with the boys - so much so she rang the next day to book us in for another time.

Despite of his wish to be kid free for the night the impact of our kid status and age was very present as (a) everyone arrived right on time and (b) most of us left by 11:30 to get home (for the babysitters).

I haven’t drunk beer since my last trip to Darwin about three years ago and the three beers I drank haunted me the next day. Gaye and I spent most of Sunday trying to convince the boys that quiet games would be good right now, removing ourselves off the couch and away from the newspaper only for a bike ride and a dog walk on what was a beautiful sunny day.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


Of late I have been doing quite a bit of questioning of myself. What am I good at? What do I like to do? What do I want to do? And how would I do it?

Largely these are questions about my career and work. I have been working in human services work for more than 20 years now, and part of me feels very over it. And I feel more than a bit lost about what my next step will or could be.

Two women friends of mine have, in the past few years, completely re-invented themselves in terms of career and even work/life balance (I could go into my feelings about that term but will just use the shorthand for, well, short). These women have impressed and inspired me giving up careers that could only be described as “successful” by most markers, but for them were ultimately not all that satisfying. One has followed a life-long dream to study art – and done bloody well at it too. One has joined her husband in journalism and turned his consultancy into the ‘the family business’ and is doing very well at that as well. Other friends have continued to move up the ladder in their chosen careers or undertaken more study and Gaye shifted focus a few years ago away from service provision to a more influencing position and started up her own consultancy.

For a while now I have felt a bit bored by my work and rather stifled (which is more my boss than anything). I have realised that I can do all this without really engaging my brain. I applied for jobs and done well enough (eli lists and even got one). I considered going out on my own and I thought about joining Gaye’s business.

But none of those things really appeal to me.

Late last year a wiser and more experienced person suggested I write in a journal everyday about what I like to do, what I am good at and how I would like to change the world and see what fell out of it. (I like to write and run workshops on things, I am a good planner and I enjoy that and I am organised and I would like the world to be more socially and environmentally just- hmmm helpful)

My friend who is now an artist suggested I think back to the things I loved when I was younger and make a list of those and see if that led me anywhere (history, cooking and photography FYI).

I am suddenly aware that I really like to do things that actually aren’t that much use when it comes to having a new career. It is not that I don’t have skills. I know I do. I have worked my way to a reasonably senior position. I am trustworthy and competent. I don’t mind implementing change, I write reports, evaluations and plans very well (so I am told). But what I like to do (and get to do) is read books, talk to people, potter around my home, bake and cook. What I like to do (and don't get to do enough of) is sing, play my piano, spend time with friends, go to the movies, make photo albums and garden. And although I don't want to do this sort of work anymore I know I need to do work that is about people and making the world better...

I think that part of the problem is that I never really looked past what I would do once I got to this point (actually a couple of points ago!) cause by then I planned (assumed I would be) to be a parent and a mother of like four kids. I thought that would be taking up my time and energy. But as it turns out my big boy is away at least two nights a week and my little boy has a fabulous and capable mother at home already.

So that leaves me with unthought of capacity to do other things I am just not sure what to do…and no idea of how to even find them…

Monday, July 07, 2008

Growing and going

This weekend we moved the boys rooms around (again!). When we first moved in Thomas was given the choice of either of the two children’s bedrooms he chose the one at the end of the house. Originally we had hoped to renovate the house in such a way that we would end up in this room but the Council wouldn’t let us expand it so it became a choice for one of the boys. In my opinion it is the nicest room in the house, sunny and light. Al once he arrived slept in with us.

When Al moved out of our room at about eight months into the bedroom next to ours Thomas was very keen ‘brothers sleep together Mum!’ to sleep in with him so there was a bed shift about and the sunny light room became a study/spare-room/playroom in theory. In actuality it became the place we stored washing and cleaned up before we had guests.

Thomas really liked sleeping with Al (and I think sleeping at the same end of the house as us, this is Sydney so the other end is only about 10 mtrs away but still this is much further than he has slept away from us in his life) but it meant that Gaye (and I but not as often) was jumping out of bed on school nights to resettle Al as quickly as possible so as not to disturb Thomas. Thomas is a heavy sleeper, but when he did wake up he would migrate into our (thank goodness) king size bed, while Gaye or I tried to settle the baby. So then once the baby was resettled there were three in the bed…

Not really sustainable…but both of us really loved that they loved being in together and so we put it off, until last Thursday night when it all became too much for us and we moved Al’s cot into the sunny light room.

So this weekend was spent turning the boys rooms into ‘tween’ and ‘baby’ places.

Thomas’ room has lava lamps, a couch that turns into a bed for sleepovers and makes a great place to read and play, a desk for drawing and there is a request in for a rug…

Al’s room has trains and mobiles and is a completely toddler friendly place that he can play safely in a couch for stories and a lovely window view for those day time moments in the cot.

And although I can’t report that it has had much impact on Al’s sleeping we both feel pretty happy about the rooms as do the boys (well Al shows no ill effects and Thomas has expressed pleasure).

And in my ongoing recording of language development here are some of the funnier things Thomas said this weekend…

“Woo hoo it is Battle of the Chores (Choirs) tonight”

“Gaye if you were as fat as someone on the biggest loser would you choose to get fit or just die?”

“Mum if you could rub this hardly (opposite of softly) I am sure I could get the pen off”

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Ups and Downs

Gaye just rang and said that Al took his first two steps. How gorgeous is that…how sad am I to be sitting behind a desk rather than at home watching that. It is especially good since he has had a dose of a tummy bug after his asthma scare which found us back in hospital and him about half a kilo lighter. He took two steps and then took a face plant, so was sobbing in the background when she rang.

I did leave work for lunch today to go and watch Thomas in the Althletics Carnival for half an hour. I saw the long jump. He did pretty well, thou I don’t think we will see ourselves at the Olympic stadium watching him anytime soon. It is the last day of term for him today which is probably a good think as he is clearly exhausted. He got into a scrape at school yesterday and was punched in the nose. He didn’t respond in the same vein – thank goodness – but sigh, this part of parenting is hard work.

The C word

Well Dad has cancer. It is a Duke’s B so not the worst kind but still it is cancer with a 60% chance of survival. He is doing pretty well at the moment considering – one week after very serious surgery his wound is infected so he is still in hospital – but is off the serious drugs and able to walk around and get out of bed.

I am going to Canberra next week to spend time with him once he gets home. Mum will need help then.