#611 New neighbours, old neighbours

A pair of brothers, primary-school aged, live next door. Confident, direct, interested. They sat perched on the fence bordering our homes as I put up the washing this afternoon, baby girl on the ground floor trying to scale up our side of the fence to reach them.

“Can we play with her?” the younger one asked.

“Ahhh,” I stalled. I didn’t have any reason to say no, but I had a headache, I needed to start dinner, and I didn’t know where they would play… I hadn’t even met their mother, and so I couldn’t just unceremoniously dump baby girl on her to play with some older boys at her house.

“She’s having an early dinner soon, so I’m not sure,” I bluffed.

“Is that because she’s going to bed earlier?” (I told you, interested).

“No, not really…”

“Maybe we can come over and play after dinner?”

“Yeah.” Push things to after. “We’ll see what happens.”

I then took the washing basket in thinking it was all resolved and nothing would happen, while baby girl jumped on her trampoline and let off some steam.

Well then, I actually started on dinner. And about 45 minutes later, with things well underway, Hubbie home from work and now my splitting headache also far along, I was sitting for a moment on the couch, doing a Bold and the Beautiful catch-up, when something caught my eye out of the front window, some figures coming up the footpath towards the house.

Boys. Barefoot. Bowed heads.

But ready to play with Baby Girl.

I turned to baby girl who hadn’t yet seen them, and when I asked her if she wanted to play with them, here and now, she almost couldn’t believe her stroke of luck.

She led them to the backyard and they jumped away like mad, performing all manner of tricks in the trampoline.

The boys came inside, spoke to us. Looked at our nearby photos, played with her toys. They slam dunked on a basketball hoop we have hanging off a nearby door, and we asked them about their primary school.

They were really gentle and kind with baby girl.

They all played together, just perfectly. And the level of respect they showed to her, just blew me away.

Even besides the impressing me part, I was reminded, and led back to the good ol’ days when I was that young kid. At my neighbours’ house – and I had three friendly neighbour houses who I frequented daily back then – that I knew back to front.

I knew their lives and their families. They knew mine. It was the perfect, best upbringing. Four houses in a row, and all four houses with girls of the same age. It was the stuff of stories. Not even writers could write this stuff and get away with it.

But so too, it ended the way stories do. People grow up. Parents separate. Kids go to private schools and remove themselves. And soon they all moved away.

It doesn’t take away from my awesome childhood memories, and honestly, I have too many. I am still in contact with 2 out of those 3 girls, and even went to their weddings, and they mine, so I think that is a fabulous effort considered.

But I sometimes think, and ponder, how nice it would be for baby girl to grow up amongst that kind of setting. Neighbours her age, where they could spend their days together, outside as kids should, running and bike riding and playing hide and seek within a one block radius, ‘park permitted.’ 🙂

Freedom, and yet safety. Where the parents know each other, know the kids, and all can play together, alternating houses, and yet the parents can still tell their kids friends to ‘go home because we’re having dinner now.’ That kind of honest, direct, freedom.

I thought of all that today. I thought of what I had growing up, and I looked at what was happening now in our house.

The noise, the kids, the neighbours. Her new friends 🙂

The ball rolled over to me as I was chopping cucumbers. I kicked it back to the young boy who took it and slam dunked against the hoop.

Later, Hubbie interrupted their jumping party outside and told them it was now our dinner time. Baby girl waved them off, “bye boys!” while he hoisted them OVER THE FENCE.

Now that’s, a real neighbour. I freaking love it :):):)

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Photo by Shane Rounce on Unsplash

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#512 Bullshit stories to feed to your child…

…or as some like to call them, little white lies.

Up until a little earlier, I had no inspirational, sunshine-y, happy-go-lucky or renewed vigour for life post to mention here in this little gratitude blog of mine.

But then, as all the other nights before it, the bedtime routine happened.

And as I stood there, counting slowly, breathing deeply, and making occasional bribes to baby girl that all her toys would be gone in the morning, in between warning her that my angry face was going to turn on soon, something suddenly occurred to me.

Just like the sun rising from the dark horizon to fill the world with light, so too did an incredible thought emerge from my fury, giving me Hope that I could remove myself from this shithole.

A bullshit story.

I’ve mentioned this here before. You know, those stories we as parents tell our kids, to get, I don’t know, anywhere?

To get them to listen.

To get them to comply.

To stop them crying.

To shop them whinging.

To distract them.

Hell, to make life easier.

“We have to leave the beach now, because it closes at lunch time. It actually closes.”

“Yes the park is also closing for lunch, everyone is going home to eat.”

“You can’t leave the house without brushing your teeth. The shop people won’t let you buy a kinder egg if your teeth are yucky.”

“Paw Patrol will wait until you’ve had a nap, and then they will come on TV.”

“You have to wear a jacket on the trampoline (in 11 degree weather). It’s the Rule.”

And we get away with it because we can.

Why do we do it? Well as you can see from the above list, sometimes it’s for their sake – cleanliness or health. Sometimes it’s for convenience.

Sometimes it’s for OUR sanity.

And tonight once again it was the latter. Because for some reason, baby girl’s room was too dark. In amidst stalling with a variety of ways to not sleep, she kept pulling this nifty excuse out of her bag of tricks. And all I wanted to do was rest, and have some kind of ‘me time.’

She has two lamps in her room, albeit battery-operated ones, so perhaps the room was getting dimmer from the gradual battery strength lessening. However when I was getting her to finally lie down, and again she complained too dark, I just ripped out –

“We can’t have too many lights, you know why? The bugs will catch us. The bugs and spiders will find us because there are too many lights. So we can’t have too many lights. Goodnight!”

And you know what I got in return?

“Goodnight!”

Thank Fuck. I love Motherhood, but I also love that she is at an age to still buy these stories…

 

#503 Sister’s surprise visit

Today was not as I had to expected it to be – and not in a nice way. It was pretty devastating and heartbreaking to tell you the truth.

I was going to spend the day at home, with baby girl, on this sunny day on the 1st of July, feeling sorry for myself. Disenchanted about life and everything in it, questioning signs, asking for answers, and tearing my hair out in the mess of it all.

And then, fate, divine intervention, a sixth sense stepped in… what else can we call it? Oh that’s right.

My sister.

She must somehow know these things, sense these things. Know that somehow, somewhere, a part of me is crying out for help, support, a shoulder to sob on…

She came by, and it was the most unexpectedly happy moment of the day.

I did ask for help. I did ask for support. And I did have her shoulder to cry on.

And she said yes, yes, yes, with all of her heart.

Not all the day was doom and gloom. We both purged. We both laughed. We both went deep and delved.

And I caught this light-filled moment, light in every definition of the word, as she and baby girl jumped on the trampoline.

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♥♥♥

Thank you sis. I couldn’t live without your love. 🙂

#500! Rum balls

Bloody sweets, again? This girl is crazy, you’ll say. All she does is bake!

Well, I didn’t bake. I rolled. And it just so happens that by pure coincidence, this week is heavy on the sweet-making front, because my cappuccino cupcakes I made half for us, half for some family earlier on in the week…

and the rum balls I rolled today, is for a shared plate I need to take to baby girl’s kinder tomorrow, for their end of term 2 PAR-TAY…

(and a little for us too).

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I mean, it would be pretty cool if I had heaps of time to just bake, and roll, and cook, and spend a heap of time making sugary-sweet-time in the kitchen… but by the same token I’m more than just a creative kitchen enthusiast, and I don’t like to be defined by just one thing. I like to spend my time outdoors, taking in sunshine, reading, shopping even when the account kind of doesn’t allow me, and jumping on trampolines… with baby girl of course.

Of course.

Oh, and writing. That little hobby too 😉

It makes sense to talk about the things I do and what makes me happy today – after all it’s a monumental post, the big 5-0-0! Woohoo! I say, make the cake, and eat all the cake!

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Well, leave some for the kiddies too. They are child-friendly in case anyone is wondering, totally rum-less.

So what exactly am I grateful for today? A whole bunch of things. I am grateful for easy recipes like rum balls, yes. I am grateful for milestones. And a big shout out to Hope too. Hope keeps my feet taking one step in front of the other. Hope keeps my chin up when things are down. Hope keeps me a glass half-full gal, and Hope is there to tell me that everything eventually works out, and everything is for a reason.

Celebrating sweet things, big numbers, and things to keep us wishing…

Thanks to you all for joining me on this ride, and here’s Hoping this 500 is the tip of the iceberg for the lifelong Gratitude Journey I am on. 🙂

#491 Hubbie’s early homecoming

It’s harder to hitch a ride on the gratitude bandwagon when the days are cold and dreary, and hibernation becomes your key activity. Which is why it’s so important to look closely around you, and appreciate all the little words, events, and actions, surprises and glimpses of happiness that find their way to you.

As such, today. It’s not like Hubbie never comes home early from work. There have been times here and there where he’s been let off a little earlier than usual – because, Winter. Slow days, and when the job is done, well often there is no point sticking around, 3 men to do the job of 1 for the last hour.

So today, as Hubbie approached the front door a fair bit earlier than his usual hometime, and I waved happily at him while baby girl took her position of ‘immediate hide and seek’ game under the table, I was immediately appreciative of his early release from the work quarters.

Hubbie is home earlier, which means we have dinner earlier. We get to sit on the couch for a bit afterwards and just talk to each other, about deep issues and light-hearted things, anything random and significant that pops to mind. We don’t usually get to talk like this when we are working, so it’s a bonus.

It also means I might get 5 or so minutes to put my feet up and browse through my Donna Hay cookbook, getting ideas and inspiration in the midst of these quiet and low-key months ahead.

Or, I can also watch through the window at Hubbie complying to baby girl’s request, and see them jumping wildly in the trampoline against the fading evening light.

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Whatever my reasons are to be grateful to have Hubbie home earlier from work, whether they be small or big reasons, they are ALL worth it… and yet the biggest reason to be grateful, is the simplest one… just to have him home, with us. Just for a little bit more. That’s enough.

 

#481 The Trampoline

I mean, of course I was going to be grateful we had bought baby girl a trampoline, right?

Right???

Well….. (breaths out) let’s discuss the last week.

Firstly, last Sunday as we finished putting the ‘thing’ up over 3 hours, Hubbie said to me “I never had a trampoline as a kid,” and then proceeded to jump as high as he could in the middle of the mat while baby girl and I bounced around crazily around him.

“I know, right?” I said. “it’s like we’re fulfilling our childhood dreams through her!”

So bloody cool. When you give your kids things you never had as a child, you feel more than proud… you feel fulfilled. Special. You feel like you’ve come full circle, and now that you have a 10 foot trampoline in your backyard, you are somehow complete.

I had also thought, now that her day naps were mostly gone, that the trampoline would give me that little bit of ‘me’ time while baby girl went crazy outside, prepping herself for the most awesomest of awesome sleeps that night. I was like ‘this will be great, I can write again.’

Then on Monday, she was jumping… and wanted me to jump with her.

On Tuesday, I sent her out there on her own, and yet again – she wanted me to jump with her.

Wednesday I started work late, and sure enough, as Hubbie was checking out our gutters around the side of the house that morning, she was pleading with me: “please please!”

Now, I don’t know about you, YOU being any other person out there, or if YOU is a fellow Mum or parent, but I ALWAYS have shit to do around the house. Cleaning, food prep, washing, do this, sort that, we still have boxes here, catch up on writing, grocery shopping, and the list goes on and on and on. I don’t really have time for jumping. I wish that was all I had to worry about – how much bloody jumping I can cram into one day. But I don’t. I start with a rough list, and if I’m lucky I complete it. I don’t usually have time for much more.

Today, AGAIN. Now on all these other occasions I complied, and jumped with her for a little. I told her I was cold, sick, had to go to work, whatever. And all those times I wasn’t lying. But I also told her that she had to jump on her own – we had bought this trampoline for her to jump, not for Mummy to jump!

(Just thinking those words again makes me realise how lonely that thought is. Jumping alone).

I was going to try and sneak in some writing while she watched TV in the other room. And of course as soon as the laptop was fired up, round the corner she came, saying “Mama?”

She wanted to jump. It was after 5, and darkness was falling upon us. She only had a little bit of time left, and quite frankly I was concerned she would rope me into it.

“You can jump, BUT… Mummy is staying inside, alright? I’m not jumping. Just you’re jumping. Mummy is sick, she has a sore throat, she’s cold… ok? You understand me?”

She nodded obediently at me, just as she had every other time before eventually pleading with me to jump with her.

She headed out and I turned back to my laptop, and after a minute or so, she started to intermittently call out.

“Ma! Ma!”

It was more sing-song than anything, so I ignored it. But soon she came to the door again, knocking loudly, and opened it so I could see her.

“Jump?”

“NO!” I had had it UP TO HERE (the sky). I went over to the door and locked it behind her so she couldn’t go back out. “Baby girl you just don’t listen, you can’t always have your way!” I seriously was feeling under the weather, and besides, this girl needed to learn rules! This was not on, we couldn’t cave in every time she wanted something.

I headed back to the laptop with her throwing a tantrum behind me, yelling, and then crying in a pleading tone. As I sat back at the desk, she came from behind, and poked her head forward from the side, trying to get me to look away from the laptop.

I turned to her. These big, brown, pleading eyes, tainted with tears, a hopeful face, parted mouth, wishing and praying that Mum would not be upset, and Mum would come around and jump.

Fuck Me.

How could I say no? I followed her out and strictly told her I would stay seated on the mat while she jumped around me – I wouldn’t jump myself.

(What follows are some highly-skilled and photogenic shots baby girl and I took of each other)

And yet it was pretty fun. She jumped around me, into my lap repeatedly, and I ‘ate her up’ with kisses. We had an absolute ball, and then it turned dark, and it was time to go inside.

So in answer to my question… yes. Yes I am grateful we got her a trampoline… I just don’t know what we’ve created in the process.

A jump-a-holic, stubborn, cheeky and clever girl who will go to any lengths to get what she wants.

We’re in trouble.

 

#476 The Joy of Jumping

Today was a fabulous day. And the most of it was spent at home.

My wish of having a real low-key, family-fuelled and catch-up weekend at home was fulfilled these last two days. Last night was super-chilled, and likewise it was all about us three even before the blinds were opened on this lazy Sunday morning.

Cuddling in bed, even taking silly selfies! Laying about ’til 10am.

Then doing not only a fun but family-oriented task, but ticking off a huge, massive, GINORMOUS to-do that has been staring at us in the face since we packed the 3 large boxes into the garage about 3 months ago.

We finally put together baby girl’s trampoline.

It’s not that we didn’t want to – as always, it was lack of time and opportunity. Always busy, always working. You need two people to construct it, and finding a spare 2 hours to do it, when we didn’t already have plans or there was something more pressing, especially in light of daylight savings ending (pardon the pun), was proving really, really hard.

But today… we did it. 3 hours worth of constructing, some light snacks in between, baby girl stealing springs from us, and then nearly screwing up the poles in the final installation… but we did it baby.

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This girl, is going to jump to the sky in that thing. It’s not just the fact that I’m so grateful this big job is finally complete, but that huge yellow thing in our backyard, is tangible proof that today was enjoyed by all.

It was actually, the BEST day.