Finding The Happy

Looking for joy in all the right places


Mother’s group

TTT – Climate, Cinema, Community

The Handmade Shop in Civic has a hilarious Canberra souvenir section, with tongue-in-cheek heart-shaped lollipops that proclaim “Canberra Doesn’t Suck!” and badges that earnestly try to convince visitors how Canberra’s such a lovely place, “despite what everyone says”.

My 3 gratitudes for this week happen to be about this city once again.

1. Spring


Canberra winters, despite what Queenslanders and Darwinians moan about, are actually delightful. Friggin’ cold, but usually sunny – and that makes a huge difference to one’s temperament. I’ve been to Melbourne in winter and while Melbourne remains my most favourite Australian city (and while I still harbour not-so-secret thoughts about moving there one day), it has miserable winters.

So here’s what Spring in Canberra can start to look like. Bursts of colour, still coolish climes, radiant sun and cloudless skies. Also, dawg-awful hayfever… but let’s just focus on the positives for now, yeah?

2. Beauty and the Beast


Movies here cost an arm and a leg compared to Singapore, so it’s quite the treat for us when we bother making a date of it, and when they do something special like feature a Disney Princess movie every Saturday/Sunday morning for a month and a half. We only managed to catch the last one on Saturday. It was Arddun’s first time watching Beauty and the Beast, and we think she rather enjoyed herself, even though parts of it got quite intense.

We had primed her for it the whole morning. “Got a surprise for you, Arddun!” we said, as we got her dressed and into the car. “A big surprise!” And she got all excited when she realised we were going into the cinema. Job done! Such clever parenting. So we didn’t quite know how to react when Tony took her down to PappaRich for lunch after the movie, and she looked up at him while they were waiting for the table and asked, “Where’s the surprise, Daddy?”

3. That village feeling


Today pretty much summed up how my Mother’s group has become a bit of my village. Started the morning text-chatting with Carrie and commiserating over tired pregnant bodies… Received a text this morning from Fam who told me that our husbands ended up in a work meeting together by sheer coincidence… Bumped into Allie, Alex and Liam at the library where Arddun could enjoy an impromptu story-telling session on the steps… and ended our afternoon with Sara and Co., where Arddun had a ball with Jett and wore their dogs out by endless chases.

I love that I can start and end my day with these beautiful women and their bubs, that these friendships are effortless and genuine. I love that our children are playing well together, and that Arddun has all these surrogate “aunties” she can trust. I love that I can turn up at their homes with no make-up on and lousy hair, because we all first met when our bubs were two to three months old and we were all too sleep-deprived to work out whether our T-shirts were on back to front.

Good times.

Little bouncers at the Christmas party

Just got back from our mother’s group Christmas party – our third together! Birthdays and Christmases are our two major annual events, and we try to make each one a little special. The fabulous thing about having 9 to 11 families celebrate together each time, is that we get to split the bill 9 to 11 different ways. Which means we can splash out on stuff like this:

Jumping castle rocket thing
Jumping castle rocket thing. More impressive in real life. (Stolen from Jo’s Facebook page.)
6 toddlers in Jumping castle
Seven little toddlers, seven times the fun!

Here’a video of the little tykes in action:

This year, I volunteered to bring mango tea, an Asian salad (a yummy dish I learnt from my MIL), and a fruit salad.

Regarding the fruit salad: after I went a-hunting through Pinterest, I ended up making this:

Fruit salad Christmas tree
30 seconds to take photo of magnum opus before running out the door.

which went down well with the crowd at the Christmas party – both big and little peeps. If you’re wondering how to do this, I bought a 25cm-tall styofoam cone from an art shop, pinned lettuce leaves to it using toothpicks, used star-shaped cookie cutters for the rock melon, and then pinned down red and green grapes, blueberries, cranberries, kiwi slices, strawberries and blackberries using a gazillion toothpicks. Took me an hour. I’m no maestro on food decorating, so if I can accomplish this, it means it’s Beginner-level easy – just time-consuming. And stressful, when you’re trying to do this juuuust before the 3pm party, and it’s 2pm.

Managed to dress the little people up in cute Christmas clothes. Had less success keeping them on the couch at the same time for a photo:

Christmas costumes take 1
Take 1
Christmas outfits on sofa, take 1
Take 3
Christmas costumes take 3
Take 47
Christmas costumes, waiting patiently

Gave up and took a video instead:

But what we should have done was put Peppa Pig on telly, because that TV show has proven hypnotic powers:

Watching Peppa Pig
Peppa Pig = Toddler Crack

Other attempts at memory-capturing:

Eating together at small table
Sharing a meal together
Leila and Arddun squeeze into little red car
Two friends share a ride in the Little Red Car

And then there was a whole heap of rather incriminating photos that might get us all in trouble with Jumping J-Jays. But we had heaps of fun. xx

Friendly Friday: Introducing Ryan

So I thought I’d hand over the blogging reins once in a while to Arddun, and she decided that she’d like to interview all her cool friends. So in no particular order… except maybe alphabetical… here’s


Arddun and Ryan in the bumble bee car
Me and Ryan in the Bumble Bee car at The Marketplace

What’s your full name?

Ryan Pierce Auguszczak

What does it mean?

Ryan is the English version of Rian, which means “little king” in Gaelic. You see, my Mammy (an Irish mummy) has become very patriotic since she moved to Australia from Ireland so I’m actually very lucky I wasn’t called something like Conchobar. (Stop laughing – it is a real name over there!)
Pierce is after my Irish Grandad Pierce (Brosnan) and btw, that’s who I get my dashing good looks (and my modesty?), not to mention my bright blue eyes from… though I hope I can sing better than he did in Mamma Mia when I figure out this whole talking thing first. Of course… I am only 1 after all.

Only joking re the Brosnan part… my Irish Grandad’s surname is Wallace, which leads me to William Wallace and Mel Gibson in Braveheart and right back very nicely to my dashing good lucks and bright blue eyes!

Auguszczak is from my Daddy, who was born and reared in Australia but whose Daddy was Polish. This Grandad is an angel now and lives in heaven. I think he plays cards all the time there. My Daddy says he always had a very good poker face.

Yeah, but what’s your REAL name? The one your parents don’t know about?

My real name is Superbaby. It’s my alter ego. By day, I’m a normal 1 year old boy baby but when there’s trouble afoot, I wear my nappy on the outside and I can fly.

What is your secret power?

My secret power is that I can really walk and talk and read and write and do all that stuff. I just figure it’s a lot more fun to sit back and watch everyone try to get me to do those things. All in good time, my dears…

What’s your latest party trick?

I can poo on cue every time I hear my mammy grab her car keys. It’s amazing, really, this mind-over-matter business.

How would you describe yourself in 17 syllables?

B.A.B.Y – Brilliant. Adorable. Bouncy.Yummy

(Poetic license on dropping a few syllables, please? I am only 1 after all.)

Favourite food you cannot get enough of at the moment?

Chocolate. My Mammy won’t give it to me… and when she does, she gives me a tiny tiny bit and she eats the rest. I mean, hello? There’s not a lot to enjoy off a Freddo’s ear.

If they made a movie of your life, what would it be about and which actor would you want to play you?

A half Irish, half Australian super baby who invents a nappy that never has to be changed. It regenerates itself every 60 seconds (with no harm to the environment, I might add.)

I think Pierce Brosnan as a baby should play me. We can dub over the singing bits.

Are you a morning or a night person?

I love the morning… the daylight shining through the bars of my cot; the birds singing, a whole new day dawning where I can have wonderful experiences… Now, when will I be old enough to have a coffee?!

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve eaten so far?

I had a little taste of Guinness on St Patrick’s day (17th March 2012) when I was the grand old age of 9 months. My mammy thought it would be a cute photo ‘pretending’ to give me a taste of Guinness. But I am a carpe diem kinda guy so I went for it. They’re right… it’s an acquired taste.

Name one of your favorite things about someone in your family.

My big brother Daniel. I love everything about him but most of all, I love how he’ll always pave the way for me. He’ll do everything first so by the time it gets to my turn, I’ll get away with anything!

How do you take after your mother?

Blond hair, blue eyes… Gosh, pretty much all my good points! (Disclaimer: not at all biased.)

How do you take after your father?

I like to sleep a lot… and with reference to the question about my latest party trick, let’s just say I’m not the only reason we’re late for everything!

What’s the most useless thing your mother keeps in your nappy bag?

Lipgloss. I mean I like to look good, but…

If you could have permanent possession of any single object in the world, what would you want it to be?

A super fast turbo jet that can travel between Australia and Ireland in a few minutes so all my family on both sides of the world could see each other all the time. Actually, I think there’s one on sale in Toys r Us at the moment. It’s my favourite shop!

Current dream job?

Jedi Knight, cos my big brother Daniel wants to be one and I want to always be by his side. Plus, girl babies dig it!

If you had to choose the title of your autobiography tomorrow, what would it be?

RPA – My Secret Power

What’s your favourite TV show?

At the moment it’s my own face in the mirror of my play table. I just haven’t figured out how to change the channel yet!

What is the first thing you think of when you wake in the morning?

Mammy and milk. Actually, will it affect my inheritance if I say milk and Mammy?!

Who are your buddies?

As well as my big brother Daniel, in my short life so far I have been blessed to meet 10 other babies born around the same time as me.. By the way,  they have the same secret power as me. Oh the fun we have when no-one is looking! :-)

Sneak Peek

My mother’s group will be celebrating our babies’ first birthday tomorrow afternoon. So here’s what a few of us were up to late this evening…

Party balloons poster

TTT: A movie, a dinner, and flowers after

I remembered! Whoo hoo hoo! In previous blog attempts at setting a day of the week for a type of blog post, I’d sail right past the next week and face-palm two months later. But here I am with this week’s Thursday’s Three Thank-yous. Even if you’re not applauding the effort, I’m totally chuffed.

While I contemplated cheating again and splitting a thank-you into 3 parts, I ended up having quite the list. Here’s the three that have made the cut.

1) The non-movie afternoon

I’ve heard of mother’s groups that are total nightmares – and that’s bound to happen sometimes, when you lump a group of perfect strangers together whose only commonality is sudden parenthood and sleepless nights. And Before Arddun, the idea of getting together weekly with a group of women to talk Baby seemed slightly bizarre and, well, contrived. So I’m completely stoked about my mother’s group because we all get along swimmingly. No malice, no bitchiness, no competition. Just lots of support, laughs, and mutual bewilderment. Perfect.

Tuesday was long-awaited. It’s been months since I’ve watched a movie with Arddun in a cinema and while the home of her little friend, Leila, isn’t Hoyts, it’s probably even better. Huge projector screen, large cushy seats perfect for feeding or balancing a coffee on, and a humongous play area for the babies to entertain themselves between meals and sleeps. Plus, we were going to order in for once – so no bake-offs that won’t get eaten because we’re too busy yakking or feeding or putting our children to bed.

Well! We ended up not doing the movie because we had such a ball catching up. And then I stayed behind for a much-needed cup of tea while Arddun and Leila played. (By “play”, I mean that Leila would pick up a toy and Arddun would help herself to it and then crawl away, thankyouverymuch. Am now teaching Arddun the concept of not coveting thy neighbour’s Lamaze toy.)

I wasn’t kidding when I said that the best way to break the ice in Canberra is to become a mother. I am loving all these new friendships. Mother’s group meetings are much anticipated in this household, I tell you what.

2) Skype

After a comedy of errors, both my mum and I finally got Skype and running with BOTH web cameras and microphones and speakers (sorta) working. And so what did we do? Have breakfast/lunch together. Because Singapore is behind by 3 hours, mum’s having breakfast right when I’m having an early lunch. And then Arddun woke up to join us. Truly enjoyable, and it almost felt like we were sitting around the same dining table exchanging news. Now to get the in-laws’ Skype set up…

3) Feedback

I don’t usually get comments or feedback on my blog posts. I know there are readers out there, judging from the site traffic. But most of my readers seem to be lurkers. Whether they agree, disagree, laugh, cry, or want to hurl a shoe in my general direction is quite a mystery to me. Suffice to say, as much as the typing and posting is cathartic, sometimes it gets a little lonely. Like, Hello? Is anyone really out there? Or is it just spam bots, running around chocking up traffic points.

And then this week, I got comments and emails telling me how much people enjoy reading what I write. Some private, most left on Facebook, but still feedback. And it made my heart smile. (Daaawww!) The encouragement to GO AND WRITE A BOOK AND GET PUBLISHED! seems to be the common hymnal in some of the comments, and maybe one day I’ll find the guts and stamina to go sit down and write “for real”, but meanwhile there’s this blog. And if I’ve made you smile or think and you’ve taken the time to tell me… thank you. It’s heartening to know I’ve made a connection.

Discovering boys

For months, Arddun’s pretty much ignored all other babies and just honed in on adults. It’s a baby thing. I guess babies their age have nothing to offer in terms of entertainment – they’re equally immobile and have only one main mode of communication: bawling.

But then, Arddun got mobile. And her eyesight got better. And her sense of self and her surroundings got keener. And suddenly, other babies got interesting.

This is Enzo. We’ve met Enzo before – he was the the boy on the right who just missed out on getting his hand chewed.

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Went to Mother’s Group today and left her on the play rug with the rest of her mates while I went in search of delectable desserts to scoff my face with. (Didn’t have far to look. We eat ver-y well at Mother’s Group.) Apparently, my daughter belly-crept up to yet another boy, and then tenderly kissed his beautiful bald head. I missed the whole thing, and rather regretted my timing of the cupcake-scoffing.

Arddun, just so you have this on record: the first boy you kissed was Elliot. And he didn’t seem to mind. :)

Cute overload


This is my mommy's Mother's Group. They decided that it'd be ha-la-rious if all of us got on a mat in a flower formation, and promptly went nuts with the camera.
I'm Arddun, the one with the Marilyn Monroe-inspired skirt and the ribbon on my top that suggests I'm God's gift to mommy and daddy.
Arddun holding Alex's hand
There are 6 boys in this Mother's Group. The one in the green shirt? His name is Alex. Don't know him very well, and I'm still deciding if I want to be friends.
Arddun holding Alex's hand
I've decided he's cool, and worth hanging on to. But to be really, REALLY sure...
Arddun eats Alex's hand
Taste-test. Considering I'm teething and Alex didn't mind lending a hand, I think we're going to be very happy together.




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