Wednesday, July 25, 2012

dear arthur: six months

my darling little boy,

you are six months old! how delightfully you are growing and learning!
this post is a little late because we've all been a little under the weather this week, but here goes...


you have had your 6 month immunization. you mummy was the brave one, and held you while the needles went in. you screamed, went bright red, and got very mad, but you calmed down soon enough. the next 48 hours were a bit rough for you, and consequently for us as well. you were restless, unhappy, and off your food. it was hard to watch you so uncomfortable, but we got through it, and you seem to be more yourself again now.

while we were at the doctors we put you on the scales. you weigh 10 kilos! that's a lot for a 6 month old, but exactly right for one of your length. you are just the size of the average 9 month old. i am so happy that you are such a big healthy boy.
you've outgrown your old hammock, so we've got you a new and bigger one. you still love to be bounced for your daytime naps.


the biggest milestone of this month is that you now have two whole teeth! your bottom left and right ones appeared within two days of each other. you don't show them off very much, but we can definitely feel them when you gnaw on our fingers - they're sharp!


you are grabbing at things with both hands now, and much more coordinated again that you were a month ago. you reach deliberately for things you want (including us!), and you rarely miss. once you've grabbed something, it invariably goes straight in your mouth, so we're having to be careful about what you get your hands on.


you have always loved it when we sing to you, and a song (or five) is still one of the best ways to calm you when you are upset or cranky. we have noticed that you are now starting to anticipate your favourite bits of certain songs - you start to giggle just before the parts that really make you laugh. you are so very clever!

this month, you have started to notice the cats. you laugh with delight when you pat orla, and you are surprisingly gentle for a little person who doesn't understand how to be careful yet. she, in turn, is very patient with you. we think you're going to be good friends.


sitting independently is very close. you seem to have the strength, and just need to master the balance. as soon as you see a toy or something else you find interesting, you lunge forward for it, and topple over. it's pretty funny.


breastmilk is no longer a part of your diet. you continued to refuse the breast in june, and while i expressed for a while, it was extremely exhausting. i'd have kept going regardless, but you distinctly preferred your formula bottles, and often fussed over the ones with breastmilk in them, so we decided to call it a day.
one of the things that makes me feel a bit better about this is the way you are embracing solids. you love your food, and you are eating a nice variety of different fruits, vegetables, proteins and grains. you have solids meals 2-3 times a day, depending on how they fit in around bottles, naps, and other aventures. you like to have your own meal when we go out to a cafe and it's fun to eat out with you!


you're learning to drink water from a sippy cup, and we think you're enjoying it, though you sometimes get annoyed that it's not the creamier and more filling formula in there. learning to tip the cup up to get the water into your mouth is tricky, but you're getting there.


you also like to use your teeth to gnaw on rusks. they end up on the floor more often than not, but they're fun while they last!


we are both still very much enjoying mothers group. we have been really lucky to end up in a group with some great mamas and adorable babies. you are the oldest baby, and i think you're the biggest too. you are just starting to get properly interested in the other babies, and you like to watch them as they play, or reach out for them. i am so pleased that you have this group of little people to be friends with as you grow, and i'm really grateful for the friendship of other first time mums.


you also love the little village of family and friends that we have around us. you continue to adore your oma, and you are very fond of the family friends that we spend most time with including your oddparents, chris and tom, and katie. you like to play with them, be held by them, and give them sloppy kisses, and it makes us really happy that you have so many other grown ups in your life who love you and want to look out for you.


you are a happy, cheerful, friendly little guy, who loves to play, and laugh. you have the sweetest nature, and we are loving getting to know you beter and better every day as you settle into who you are.


so happy half-birthday, little one! i couldn't resist making you a cake (don't expect one every half-birthday!), and celebrating a little, because this feels like a bit of a milestone. you've made it half way through your first trip around the sun, and we've done our best to make it a safe and happy ride. here's to the rest of the journey, and many many more solar circumnavigations.


i love you,
mama xxx


Friday, July 20, 2012

our really big party

this day was a really special part of our family story, and i decided i wanted to share it here. it was the 18th of april 2009, and we had what, to us, was as important and as precious as a wedding. at the time, i wrote a blog post about it on my old livejournal, so i thought i'd post it here too.
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all photos taken by friends, are credited in the flickr set linked below. 

sajee and i put our dresses, and various other supplies for the weekend into the car on friday morning and drove up to glen harrow. when we arrived at our cottage there was swing music playing, essential oils burning, and a fire crackling happily in the grate. it was just like stepping back in time. we unpacked...
 
 ... and then went up to the barn, where marg was working away in the kitchen, and where big trays of the most beautiful flowers in the world were waiting for us to play with. they came from chamomile farm, a herb and foliage farm that supplies to restaurants and naturopaths. the posies and tuzzie muzzies were full of fragrant herbs, rosehips, and delicate little flowers. i was just in love with them. we fished out all the lovely antique bottles, vases, inkwells and tins that we had been collecting, and then set to work with our nieces arranging the flowers in them. it was marvelous fun - i hope they remember it when they're older.

 
when we were finished, we put a muslin runner on each of the long tables, and then placed a few flower arrangements on each one. the effect was charming. even nicer than i'd imagined.

 
when we had finished, we briefly went to visit my mummy (who lives 1 minute down the road), and picked up the vegan friands that she had baked for two of our vegan guests – we had lots of vegan food organized for the day, but we wanted to make sure there really would be plenty, so mum agreed to help us out with that because she is awesome. after that we went back to our cottage for a bath, some quiet time, and a relax before heading out for a lovely family dinner with our parents and siblings. we followed that up with a nice big sleep. we were up bright and early on the morning of the 18th (a bit earlier than we would have liked!), and went to the hairdresser with mel (sister-in-law), and our mums. it was fun to spend that time together, and rhea at harrison’s was so bubbly and enthusiastic that she soon perked us up! she got the job done quite quickly, which was good, because we still had to pick up sajee’s best friend jennie (a gorgeous girl, and professional makeup artist), decorate the cake & gift boxes and get dressed. we managed the decorating...

... and when it was time to do makeup and dresses my best friend, bridie, came to get ready with us too. She helped me get my dress on, and pretty much kept us giggling the whole time. the four of us getting ready together was a really special time.

 
then it was party time!
we greeted all our guests casually in the barn, and sipped strawberry champagne cocktails as we milled about chatting cheerfully and exclaiming over everyone’s amazing outfits...


before we knew it, it was time for the ‘formalities’ of the day. because same-sex marriage isn’t legal in australia, we were pretty free to make this up for ourselves (an upside to injustice and discrimination...? hmmm...). we'd asked our gorgeous friend siobhan to be our m.c. for the day. she is so graceful and articulate, so we were thrilled she agreed. she directed all our guests to their tables, welcomed them, and introduced sarah. sarah is an old friend from uni, who now works for the registry of births deaths and marriages, so she was the best person to explain what the relationship register was. she was careful to make it clear that this didn’t mean we were married, and we still had a long way to go before we had equal rights, but she gave a good idea of what being on the registry meant, and also said some personal words that were really lovely. next, sajee and I said some words to each other. i went first...
sajee, you know i love you because i tell you so every day, so today i wanted to tell you, and the people who care about you, about the kind of love i have for you. that’s a very difficult thing to express in words, and in the end i had to turn to a better poet than myself, who described my love when he said: “love is not love that alters when it alteration finds or bends with the remover to remove it is an ever fixed mark, that looks on tempests and is never shaken it is the star to every wandering bark whose worth’s unknown, although it’s height be taken love’s not times fool, though rosy lips and cheeks within it’s bending sickles compass come love alters not with brief hours and weeks but bears it out even to the edge of doom...” sajee, i want you to know that come tempest or the edge of doom, i’m your partner and your person. i’ll stick by you, and i will love you fiercely, because you are magnificent. thank you for trusting me with your heart, and thank you for being trustworthy with mine.
then it was her turn...
as many (if not all) of you know, esther and I met through a love of music, i.e. choir. and we both love music. sharing music is very important to us and it is something we love doing. so, in honour of our mutual love of music, i turned to some of our favourite musicians to help me express what i love about esther and us and our love. it's like a very short mixtape. the book of love has music in it. in fact, that's where music comes from. some of it is just transcendental. some of it is just really dumb. but i, i love it when you sing to me. and you, you can sing me anything. - the book of love, the magnetic fields we sing. all the time. random little songs about making tea, sitting on the couch, checking our email, anything. i'm so thankful that I found someone who doesn't want to throttle me because I never shut up. and someone who loves to sing with me. and you can sing me anything. i will have you with me. in my arms only. for you are only my love. - in this heart, sinead o'connor we compliment each other so well - she makes the quilts, i snuggle under them. i bake the delicious things, she noms them (well, i do too!). she's my love and I'm hers and we fit, we go together. if there's one thing that i've learned in my life, love is good. and if you give it out, comes back to you ten times, love is good. - love is good, jigzag loving esther and being loved by her has taught me how to love, to love more and better and more constantly and openly. thank you. so, in conclusion, esther, you're my most special, my precious, the caprica six to my gaius, the susan to my david, so let's find ourselves a leopard and going looking for an intercostal clavicle. you are my love. forever.

we signed the register, which was witnessed by our two besties, and as we did, nix, dan, and esther grace played us the most beautiful song which nix had written especially for the occasion:
'you must be tired of sailing,' she said 'pull down the rigging and come back to bed.' but through the porthole the stars called me on and in the morning both they and she were gone. and i've been all around the world across the oceans and i learned that raw emotions are more trouble than they’re worth 'you must be tired of flying,' they said 'come inside and rest your pretty head.' but through the doorway i heard the owl cry went out the window and vanished in the night. and i've been all around the world across the oceans and i heard that raw emotions are more trouble than they're worth you must be tired you must be tied down you must be tied down you must be tired you must be tired you must be tied down you must be tied down you must be tired 'you must be tired of racing,' she said 'why not slow down and walk with me instead? you can't always be running away, but i'll come with you if you don't want to stay.' so we went all around the world across the oceans we went all around the world and we went all around the world across the ocean we went all around the world lyrics by nix williams: website | last.fm

our parents spoke then, and each of them had words of pride and support to offer us. we felt so lucky to be able to share this with them - we know that a lot of other queer people have to persevere without the support of their families, and we were so grateful for ours.
finally it was time for a toast from siobhan, and the cutting of the cake. my auntie had made the cake especially - it was a super-rich, organic, gluten free chocolate cake with tia-maria infused icing - and it was so dense that we could barely get the knife through it!
as we cut the cake, nix, dan and esther grace played us another song - it was an awesomely hilarious mash-up of "i kissed a girl", "owls", and "my name is potato", which are all songs that the five of us are particularly fond of. it was genius - those guys are hilarious.
"... you’re fond of her, she’s not an owl, you kissed a girl and you liked it..."
we then thanked our friends, and those who had helped us organise the day, and it was time to eat. the food was utterly divine: 
whole ‘shadows of blue’ cheese with marscapone-stuffed figs and Syrian spices 
whole ash-rolled cheddar & king island brie with selection of fruit and crackers 
asparagus with lemon myrtle dressing 
hand rolled vegetarian nori rolls 
hand filled inari 
baby filo quiches with pumpkin, goats cheese and onion 
salad of baby spinach, fetta, caramelized onion and pumpkin 
french-cut cucumber sandwitches, and tofutti and gherkin sandwitches 
flourless orange and almond cake 
layered light and dark chocolate mousse cake 
selection of gluten free cupcakes (including hummingbird, berry and others) 
meringues with rose cream and berries 
scones with homemade strawberry jam and frangelico cream
as the food was being nommed, we went and had some photos taken with just the two of us and then with our family. that was possibly the only mistake we made that day - our timing meant that we hardly got anything to eat! but we have some amazing shots of the day (mostly courtesy of amanda aka , and nett aka ), and they last longer than a full tummy!
the rest of the afternoon was spent in conversation with friends and family, listening to music, enjoying the setting, and generally having a lovely time. our dear jojo played a set for us, which was a joy and a delight (especially when some of our more coordinated friends busted some awesome moves on the dance floor). the other activity that took up a large portion of people’s time, and created a lot of giggles and conversations, was the guest book. sajee had the brilliant idea of getting a bunch of blank album pages from bookbinders, and setting up a craft table with coloured paper, stamps, fabric, glue, ribbons, pencils, etc., so that people could make their own guest book pages. we asked jen () to organize it for us, and to encourage people to participate, and she handled the job like a pro. the things people came up with were wonderful! there were cartoons, treasure maps, patchwork-style collages, and all manner of things in between. every single one had messages of love and support, and we have this amazing memento of the day now. it’s so precious. sajee is going to scan some of the pages soon, and we’ll upload the images as a flickr set.
t was all over so quickly - it was a whirl of loveliness and happiness. that night we ordered thai food and stayed in at the cottage. bridie hung around for a while, mike and mel dropped by - it was just a lovely winding-down time, after a beautiful day.  

here is a link to my favourite photos of the day: CLICK #1
and here is a link to the flickr group with all uploaded photos: CLICK #2.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

lucky

for the last few days, my friend kristie has been on my mind and in my heart more than usual. she has just celebrated the birthday of her son avery, still born one year ago.

i don't have any words for kristie. to pretend that i have the first idea of what it is like to lose a baby would simply be insulting, and to offer platitudes is worse than useless. kristie's experience is her own to share, and she expresses herself with heartbreaking honesty and courage on her blog.

all i can do is reflect on the ways that little avery has touched my own life.
he was born and died while i was pregnant with arty. his mama's grief existed in parallel with my hope and my joy. they taught me to be grateful. to take absolutely nothing for granted.


when arty cries in the middle of the night and i just want to sleep, i think "i am lucky that my baby has breath to cry."
when he is unsettled and my arms ache from carrying him, i think "i am lucky that my arms are full, and not empty."

lucky.

avery did not die because his family wanted him any less than arty's.
or because he had fewer people anticipating his arrival with loving expectation.
or because his parents were less worthy or qualified to care for him.
or because some cruel god or goddess deemed his time up.
or because he had less potential to be a unique and valuable person.

arty lived, and avery died, and there is nothing to put that down to but luck.

sweet little avery has given me the gift of an acute awareness of how incredibly lucky i am.

vale, little one. all love and strength to those you left behind.


Sunday, July 8, 2012

teething

for the last couple of weeks, arty's been working very hard on sprouting some teeth. he's had the brightest of red rosy cheeks, has been intent on chewing absolutely anything he can get his hands on, and in the last few days has also developed a snotty nose, a mild cough, and vomited a few times (i think because of the coughing causing a gagging response).


we've been able to see little tooth buds under his gums for ages, and today the first one broke te surface! it was on the bottom right at the front. i think the one on the left will be hard on it's heels (though if this process has taught us anything, it's that teeth are unpredictable, and turn up in their own time).
he's handled this so well so far. there have been times when he's been a little restless, clingy, and out of sorts, but on the whole he's still been his cheerful little self in spite of the pain.
i'm so proud of him.