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Finding The Happy

Looking for joy in all the right places

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anniversary

Ten Years

Ten years ago,

Kiss at wedding
We chose each other to be family

Since then, we’ve cooked in three kitchens

Kitchens montage

Travelled to Singapore so many times we’ve lost count

Singapore montage

Gallivanted through parts of Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales

Travel montage

Farewelled two loved onesPhotos of Mum and Cuz

Made two beautiful babies

Children montage

Loved and laughed

couple montage

We didn’t get much chance to make it a big celebration this anniversary. Visits from family overseas and interstate was one reason. And then there was the rather tiny matter of birthing a whole other human being and being severely sleep-deprived as a result.

And yes, part of me wants to knuckle down and get real Deep and Meaningful about my marriage at this time of year. Part of me wants the big fanfare to mark this significant milestone. Ten years! It should mean something. I want to tell him how he’s changed me. I want to tell him how I never want some things about him to ever change. I want to tell you that there were rough bits and boring bits and tough bits, but they were few and far, faaar between the absolute comfort and joy and love and certainty and assurance I get to enjoy every day. Every. Day.

It’s been a real privilege being a wife and from that, a mother. Ten years! Thank you, God.

Bouquet of red roses
120 red roses over 10 years
Arddun playing with knife and fork
Some percussion entertainment while we wait for our anniversary lunch to arrive

Arddun close up

Atticus sleeping in capsule
Sleeping prince while we wait for the food to arrive
Arddun's apple juice
Arddun’s la-di-da apple juice

 

Arddun's gourmet carbonara lunch
Arddun’s gourmet carbonara lunch
Tony with long glass of beer
The man whose name I took as my own
Long glass of beer
Enjoying a long glass of ice cold

Close up of Tony's ring

 

Happy 10th Anniversary, Tony. I love you.

Photo of Tony Velle silhouette

To everything – turn turn turn – There is a season

Since I last wrote 147 days ago, our family has gone through stuff – some big, some small, but all significant in their own way. I realise that the longer I put off writing it all down, the further away the reality of catching up will seem, and then Arddun will grow up one day, learn about this blog, and wonder why I stopped bothering to chronicle our lives when we all know how shocking my memory has become.

So in no particular order, here are the salient points.

My mother’s first death anniversary

I think the anticipation of it being a big hairy emotional day became bigger than the actual event. Our family here in Australia took it real slow. I had Arddun for the day, and we did things together – went to an indoor playground, pottered around the neighbourhood, did some grocery shopping.

I spent a lot of time thinking about the everyday things I remember doing with my mum when I was a kid – the travelling to and from her students’ homes, wheeling the TV into my parents’ room to watch Cinderalla and half of Snow White while she was teaching at home, a LOT of window shopping, that time in the elevator when my mother unconsciously put on an Italian accent to explain directions to a couple of tourists…

Part of me still wonders if I should have made more of an effort memorialising the first anniversary, except I still haven’t shaken off the feeling that we are parted only for a little while and that she is just a Skype call away. That is, until I actually log on to Skype and realise that she’s not there.

As long as she is in my everyday, she stays immortal. Beloved.

Got Tupperwared out

Bizarrely, February and March became really successful Tupperware months for me – to the extent that I got second-level Star Demonstrator for both months. (Which just means I got a shiny gold two-star pin, because I sold a crazy lot of quality plastic.) Could have gotten Star demonstrator in April too, except I had an equally bizarre spate of party cancellations in the last week, which stuffed up my targets and rewards. But that is how the cookie crumbles.

Went to a Tupperware conference at the Four Seasons in Sydney, got to cross stage to receive lots of goodies for hitting targets, and ended up forgetting one of my reward bags when I returned to Canberra so I’m rather miffed with myself for that. The conference itself felt like a rock concert that went on for 7 hours. Lots of pom-poms, lots of piccies, lost my voice.

More than anything, it was just lovely to dine out with a gaggle of women sans child, and to dust off my high-heels again.

Got surprise part-time contract

Not much would get me out of the bliss of mothering full-time during the day, so when a particular job with an international Christian NPO floated into view, I sent in my résumé  thinking nothing of it but half hoping, and got tickled pink when the national director called to have a chat.

Long story short, I’m now doing a web project until August, and work twice a week with a couple of hours snatched in between my full work days. And even though I had been doing some freelance editing work since Arddun was a year old, this part-time job has really awoken me to the fact that women who work part-time are insanely organised. Or schizophrenic. Probably both.

Before Child (BC), I worked full-time – and I worked long hours. I’m not averse to hard work. But until I started doing, effectively, THREE jobs (all-day mother and housewife 5 days a week, part-time web project manager, Tupperware evenings and weekends), I hadn’t realised how much discipline I had lacked as a full-time worker.

It’s one thing to be completely immersed in the one job and do plenty of overtime. It’s quite another to not have that luxury of one job leaking into all other areas of your life.

Because every time I’m at any particular task, I now have to be completely present – heart, body, mind. Because that’s all the time I am allowed to dedicate to that task. Miss that window, and I have no pockets of time left to make up for it because another job is owed my time. I speak for myself, of course, but my work ethic BC involved sacrificing my personal time (and sometimes, time with the husband) to finish work in the office. I can – and will – no longer do that.

Do you know how blinking hard it is to switch from one completely different job to another? That is probably the most exhausting part of my current work-life balance, but I’m also loving it. I have three completely different jobs that require very different soft and hard skills from me, and I’m loving the challenge. I also like to think I’m growing from it.

Got job change

Tony also had a job change a couple months ago – a real God’s timing moment, because things are very tight in the public service. For a little while there, it meant that on my work days, Arddun, Tony and I would be in different suburbs but in another great chess move, Tony got additional duties which meant he could be back in the same business park as Arddun’s childcare, on the days he needs to do the school drop off.

Got visitors

Tony’s mum came down for a visit, and got to spend some quality time with all of us – especially Arddun. Always a blessing to have her around; it just brings such a deep-sigh-aaaahhhh comfort to be with family, where it’s all about the companionship and the catching up, and you can lean on one another.

Adrian, Audrey and Sophie just came and left too… my family in spirit, if not in blood. Again, just deeply satisfying to be with them. The joy and glee of being in the same continent again – and this time in my home – was already something I had been looking forward to for months.

So… when are the rest of you coming over to my turf, hmm?

Got knocked up

A hundred and sixty-three of you stopped by one of my Facebook posts to scream about the fact that I’m now with child again. Second Bub is 17 weeks old today, and this pregnancy has sailed by. I forget a lot of the time that I’m pregnant – until I have to find something big and warm enough to wear.

All that they say about second pregnancies are true. My body had inflated in 2.5 seconds flat, like a pop-up tent. The baby, my phone app tells me, is now the size of a turnip but I look like I swallowed a rock melon whole. This baby is also a savoury baby – Tom Yum Soup is probably the one thing that strikes all the happy notes because it’s sweet, sour, salty, hot. So unlike Arddun, who made me down tubs of mango yoghurt and who now eats cheddar cheese in 1cm-thick slabs just like her father.

We’re happy that our family is expanding along with my waistline, but the timing is rather tricky because

We’re building a house

Or rather, we’ve been planning to since September last year and we’ve only managed to sign everything that actually says we are this week.

So think about it: we have to de-clutter the current house we’re living in to prepare it for sale (hah!), possibly pack and move to another place before our new house is finished (hah hah!), and then move into the new house after Second Bub greets the world (sob.)

Yes, there is a lot to do. But after the logistics of 2013, I’m all “Bring It On!” Might just be the second trimester talking. I suspect I’ll be less enamoured by it all come September, when I approach Waddle Station and have to face the prospect of packing or unpacking boxes.

Arddun turned three

On the 15th, we celebrated Arddun’s third birthday with a low-key backyard BBQ and a Peppa Pig cake. And then we celebrated some more by spending the actual day bouncing around at Flip Out with her friends, and having the yummiest ham and brioche toastie in homemade bread at Dream Cuisine with her BFF Leila.

Pictures to come. Have not synced technology appendages to the Mothership in a while.

Our little girl can now officially play with toys that have small pieces. Actually, our little girl can already do that – and so much more. I want to dedicate a completely separate post to the individual she has become, so I’ll leave you with some photos that befits the title of this post. Being all poetic and all.

Arddun making autumn leaf pile

Arddun about to toss autumn leaf pile

Arddun tosses leaf pile

Arddun twirling in falling autumn leaves
To everything, there is a season. And I loved spending the season with you. xx

An anniversary

One year ago, I woke up to find a text from my mother, telling me that she had to cancel her flight to Canberra because she was experiencing acute pains around her diaphragm.

Unknown to both of us then, it was the beginning of the death setting in.

I’ve been dreaming about her a lot this week. She’s always alive, healthy, strong. Sometimes, she had already gone through the death and we sit and talk about present things and present times, and I’m filling her in about what we’re doing about her house, and what’s been happening since we last caught up. In my dream last night, she had just gotten out of the communal shower at a church camp while I was waiting for her in our room, so I could get my turn. She was telling someone I know about how she had survived her cancer, and how she had never experienced such pain as she did until it reached her hips and legs. In that dream, I had the foreknowledge that she was about to get her second round, and she was going to die from it – but she didn’t know that yet.

I miss her from the deepest core of my being.

Our baby girl is 2!

It’s quite mind-boggling to us, her parents, that on this date 2 years ago, we welcomed our munchkin and she looked like this:

Arddun just born
Bright light! Bright light!

And her first mutual scrutiny of family ties with Tony looked like this:

Brand new Arddun with daddy
“I am your father” moment

And then last year, on her first birthday, she looked like this:

Arddun with the chickens
Duck and chickens

And then – whooshka! She turned 2, weighs a hefty 14.6kg, and stands about 90cm++. And she is more entertaining than ever.

Arddun and mummy with cheese
Taking the whole “say Cheese to the camera” thing a little too literally
Arddun and Tony ring a ringa rosies
What started out as a prayer for lunch soon turned in Ring-a-ring-a-roses.
Arddun in purple coat holding banana
Purple fashionista
Arddun at Big Kids table
Guest of Honour at the Big Kids table this evening
Waiting to blow out candles
Suddenly Shy during Happy Birthday song, after rehearsing about eleventeen times on the way over… (Also, sorry I chopped off her friends’ heads.) 
Arddun's second birthday cake
Happy Birthday, Irresistible You

2 anniversaries in 1

Happy Wedding Anniversary to Us! It’s been eight years, after a quick check at what year I’m in, and actually counting on my fingers. We didn’t celebrate officially today, because we thought we’d lump it together with our upcoming long weekend that starts this Thursday and goes on until 2 January.

The best long weekend, ever.

So yes, it’s been pretty low key. Arddun and I did normal things. We had breakfast. We built towers with wooden blocks that Arddun delighted in destroying. We read lots of books. I cooked and cleaned and prepared for a work meeting. Arddun drew pictures on the floor while lying on her front and singing a smooshed version of Baa Baa Back Shee and A-B-C-D, with some occasional jazz tangent I don’t hope to understand.

Arddun lying on floor and drawing with crayons on mat.
If she could whistle, I believe she would have.

The highlight of the day… well, there were 2.

Or rather, 2 dozen:

Roses from Roses Only
Surprise! A beautifully wrapped bouquet of 2 dozen long-stemmed roses.

Also, Arddun made 2 really successful voluntary deposits in the White Seat of Poetry and Prose. It’s tragic, but true: it actually made our day as parents. It was the highlight of my day, after the roses. I am not kidding. I wish I was. Fantastic way to mark her 18th month, I thought.

Even if she did stand up straight after, looked at what she left behind, and with a half-shake of her head, said “Oh no! Oh dear. Oh no.”

Month Eight

Standing tall and calling loud
You do both your parents proud
Crawling here, reaching there
Fearless lunges off the chair
Climbing anything that’s “stable”
Pushing prams and chewing cable
Standing every chance you get
Terrorising Leila’s cat
Doing laps around the pen
Watching Wiggles now and then
Playing independently
Seeking jiggles on my knee
Interacting with your toys
Hugging dad and kissing boys
Eating like it’s all the fashion
Trying new foods with a passion
Growing teeth and chewing more
Rice cakes, mango, meat galore
Laughing, clapping, every day
Always with so much to say
“Mum-mum-mum” and “ba-ba-ba”
“Oh look there, a zoom-zoom car!”
Chasing after vacuum cleaner
Once so scared, but now you’re keener
Finger-play and Peek-a-boo
Not a fan of Gymbaroo
Crawled through tunnels, kept the pace
Hated covering your face
Learning how to throw your voice
Across the room – your favourite choice
Testing bound’ries, making mess
Learning “no” does not mean “yes”
Once so helpless, now so bold
And you’re only eight months old!

Month seven

Clearly, we need an action plan for the months going forward.

Photo 1:

Taken literally a second after I plonk her on the seat.

Photos 2 to 9: monthversary pose phail

   
   

Boundless, boundless energy interrupted only by two naps – if we’re quick enough to catch you after the first yawn and third eye-rub, and right before the drop off the cliff into Screaming Feralness (also known as the Point of No Return of sleep.)

You are a baby kisser, did I mention that? Except now, with your new-found crawling and climbing skills, you march over to where other babies congregate and with both your chubby hands, will proceed to grab a bald head and kiss/chomp its eyebrows.

You have learned to embrace me and the world – your arms thrown open in trusting innocence whenever you need a hug or a lift, your mouth stretched wide as soon as you realise there’s pumpkin or fruit to be had. You smile at strangers, always. You watch them in fascination and smile a little and a little, your penetrative baby stare boring the sides of their faces like a tiny beam of warm sun until they finally turn, and behold! Megawatt smile. You grin so hard, your cheeks turn rosy and taut and your eyes almost disappear, such is your focus on delighting your new friends.

You are fearless. You sit, so you must now crawl. You crawl, so you must now stand. You stand, so you must now walk. One flat foot forward, and then another. Wibbly-wobbly, but oh so determined. The tiled floor is hard and unforgiving, and yet you never seem fazed for too long. I have a little lamb, for everywhere I go, Arddun is sure to follow.

You are SO much fun to have around, truly.

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