I think I mentioned that a fourth hat was nearing completion for our winter weekend away.
Well, it was finished in the nick of time, all except for blocking. Not that it mattered, really. The kid refused to wear it. Refused to have anything on her head, despite the chilly temperatures down in Bundanoon.
It's the Stella Pixie Hat again, like the red one, except adjusted for the bulky yarn left over from this tunic. And that little band around the base is an applied i-cord - my first ever! I was quite pleased with myself, even though I put it on the wrong edge and now the messier grafted seam is on the top instead of the back. Oh, well. Let's face it, it might not be the most well-worn item in the accessories cupboard.
You can see how pleased she looks to have a new hat. I'm frankly surprised I managed to get any pictures of her wearing it, so determined was she to ditch it and run.
**WARNING - The following may cause nausea amongst some readers **
It began with the discovery of one of the twins sound asleep in a large puddle of vomit. I was hit with an overwhelming sour odour upon entering the room, alerted by the cry of her sister. Lola, still awake in the next room, found the whole thing disgusting and delightful, running around in mock-horror as I attempted to clean up baby and cot.
Pearl was fine the next day, eating breakfast with gusto and showing no signs of her previous night’s ordeal, so I declared it a 24-hour bug and hoped it was over.
That night, around midnight, we were awoken by Stella’s distressed cry. The Garbageman found her covered in spew. It was like déjà vu. We cleaned her up, wiped little chunks from her hair, stripped the bed and dug out clean sheets from the back of the cupboard. This one wasn’t quite as straightforward, however. Every hour for the rest of the night we awoke to her retching and crying. But like her sister the day before, she was hungry at breakfast and seemed all but recovered.
So I was hopeful our trip to the Southern Highlands, scheduled for that day, would not be impeded. I had started to feel a bit queasy, and by lunchtime it was clear Lola was not herself. Was this going to be a whole family affair?
We made the journey south without event until, five minutes from the village where we were staying, Stella started to cry and promptly hurled all over herself and her seat. I pulled over and grabbed some towels I’d packed for just this type of emergency. There was nothing for it but to cover the worst of the mess and drive on till we could put her in the bath.
By dinnertime, everyone seemed OK again. Not long after, however, the Garbageman started to look a little green. He took himself off to bed early but soon reappeared in a frantic race for the bathroom. Luckily he made it in time. He collapsed back into bed and I decided to snuggle in with Lola for the night, judging it the safer bet. However, just as I was drifting off to sleep, I heard her whimpering and instantly knew what was happening. Like Superwoman, I launched myself out from under the covers, grabbed her in my arms and raced out of the bedroom and across the living room, imploring her to hang on. We made it to the bathroom door before it all came up, and she continued to vomit after I’d dumped her, fully clothed, into the bathtub. She screamed too. “Get it off me! Mummy, get it off me!” I stripped her down then ran the bath for the third time that evening.
Meanwhile, the Garbageman, hearing the commotion, had leapt out of bed to see what was happening. All I heard was some muttering then a huge thud. I found him on the floor, his complexion yellow and pasty, looking a shade warmer than death. “Did you faint?” I asked. “I think so,” said he. It had started to feel like something out of a horror movie, or a bad comedy. I wondered how I would call an ambulance out to this cottage on the edge of this village in which we had no phone reception. I considered packing everyone up for a midnight drive back to Sydney and the safety of home, but the thought of more car vomiting was too much.
In the end, I settled Lola back into bed with a towel beneath her and a bucket on the bedside table. I had checked on the babies several times, and even went in once to see if the Garbageman was still breathing. I felt like I had to keep watch over them all and was struggling to fall to sleep. There was a final call before I drifted off – Stella bringing up the few pieces of plain pasta she’d had for dinner. I was getting good at this now. I heard the cry, ran into her room, grabbed her out of her cot and held a tea towel to her mouth to catch the mess. One less set of sheets to wash.
The next day was uneventful, at least in the regurgitation stakes. My nausea had passed and by dinnertime I was ready to declare us cured. Everyone went to bed without a struggle and I collapsed into an easy sleep. But at 1:30 in the morning, my time was up. After three nights of holding my babes while they chucked, cleaning up endless mess, washing load after load of laundry, shushing and comforting and reassuring, I found myself alone in a bathroom while they all slept soundly, chucking up my guts. Bleurgh.
I would like that to be the end of my sorry tale. There was, however, a final hurrah, not ten minutes from home on the return car trip. Lola again, this time all over herself. I managed to catch a lot of it in some towels, and again it seemed sensible to just get home and clean her up there. Of course, being Sydney, we had to wait at a few sets of traffic lights. I looked at my girl in the rear-view mirror, hair plastered down by vomit, bits stuck to her chin, her cheeks, her shoulders. The requisite screaming. I glanced down and saw a smear of spew across my sleeve. Just get home, I thought. Just get home.
And home it was. Home to another daytime bath. Countless loads of washing. Three car seats removed, covers stripped and washed, reinstalled. Please let that be the end of it.
This is a man who, for as long as I've known him, has never really felt the cold. Well, except for the time we arrived in London at the end of a freezing cold February. Oh, and a few days later when we travelled north to Edinburgh and Glasgow. And then there was dreary wet Amsterdam a few days after that. And sodden Berlin... But by the time we got to Madrid in mid-March, he was in T-shirts again.
An Australian winter has never touched the sides. He's the one rolling his eyes as I run around applying extra layers of warmth to the girls when he's about to leave for the park or a morning walk on the bay.
It's because of what he calls his 'Greek wool', an all-over coating of Mediterranean body-warming hair (All over, you say? Yep, I respond, pretty much) which means jumpers, scarves, hats and the like are all but redundant. Difficult for a wifey with a penchant for the knittingy things in life.
But we're off to the Southern Highlands for a winter weekend and I'm determined we'll all have warm heads. Three down, one a whisper away from completion and another (mine) still a pipe dream. Luckily, I have a lot of scarves.
'Twas a combination of all things good. Melbourne, a city I love, a city I have had so many fabulous shopping- and food-fuelled weekends in, a city I could live in if the stars aligned and I stopped making excuses. And friends. Dear women friends who go back many years and with which I share such a wonderful, creative, nurturing bond.
We worked out that it had been eight years since our last and original Melbourne sojourn. Some months previous, Aimee and I decided it might be fun to write and produce a musical. A musical about yoga. And why not perform it at the upcoming Melbourne Fringe Festival (it was 2003, I think). Easy-peasy, nothing to it. We gathered a pair of performer friends and an amazing production manager and launched ourselves in. Such bravado. Such naivety.
Within the space of a few months we'd written a play, complete with songs, and rehearsed it up in readiness for the festival. We tackled major roadblocks like they were mini-humps in the path. One conversation went something along the lines of - AMANDA: "I've just got the forms here for the festival. It says we need a venue and dates before we can register." ME: "Shit. I thought they provided all that." AIMEE: "Can you make a few calls, Amanda?" And that afternoon it was all in place. Venue booked, dates firmed, commitment in stone.
It was exhausting stuff, and I won't say we produced a masterpiece, but it was a great learning curve, our audiences had a few belly laughs, and it was enough of a success that we took it back into production for the Adelaide Fringe the following year. Four stars, baby, four stars.
The upshot of it all wasn't glittering careers in the arts, names up in lights, writing contracts, Tony awards. We didn't even manage to find a Sydney venue willing to give us a go. But what we had was an amazing experience undampened by the wisdom we gained from that experience, if that makes sense. We didn't know how hard it was to do so we just did it. I really should apply these lessons in everyday life...
Anyway, one of us has recently moved back to Melbourne from London, and another was back in Sydney for a few weeks from her new home in Hong Kong, so we decided a reunion was in order. Flights were booked, accommodation at Chateau Uncle was arranged, car seats and bassinets for the two small babies that would be accompanying us was hired. The itinerary included a bit of shopping, a lot of eating and then a bit more eating.
In the eight years since we were last in Melbourne together, there have been three weddings (with another around the corner) and six babies, two overseas moves and a couple of interstate ones. We may not be lighting up the stage with our creative genius but we're running homes and businesses, making families, production managing lives busier than we ever imagined they would be. And how lovely to take a tiny break from those lives, gather together and breathe for a couple of days.
When people ask, "How have you been?" I usually answer, "Busy." But this past couple of weeks we have been really busy. Insanely busy. Silly busy.
It's school holidays and, therefore, preschool holidays. So on top of last week's birthday fun, there have been play dates, park visits, winter indoor swims, movies, other people's birthday parties, house guests, a girls' night out and a date with a garbageman. And much, much more.
A dear friend is in town from overseas so we've had lots of get-togethers and catch-ups. Then my oldest friend came to stay from Queensland with two of her four kids. That's sweet new Olive down there in the photo. Best house guest ever! So in the space of a week, I finally got to meet two of my new babies - recipients of this and this.
And after communing with so many other kids in such a short space of time, all with Lola's requisite long-drawn-out "cuddle and a kiss" goodbyes, it seems she's been incubating a bit of a chicken pox virus and no doubt spreading the love. Itchy days ahead. And an unexpected extension of the school holidays.
I should be blogging about today's epic rainbow pirate party, but that will have to wait. I couldn't resist joining in again with the yarn along at this blog. I have a few things on the boil, as usual, and this may look like the same knit as last week because it's the same wool, but it's something new - for me this time. It's an Abalone, which has been on my to-do list for a long time, and I hope I can finish it before the end of winter.
The book is new - 'When God was a Rabbit' by Sarah Winman. It was a recommended read at my local bookshop so I thought I'd give it a go. It's a slow start, however, compared with the instant absorption factor of my last two books. So leave it with me. I'll work on the Abalone and the book and see if I can't raise my productivity levels.
But for now, the sugar high is leaving my system and post-party exhaustion has set in. Bedtime.
I remember clearly the moment I fell in love with you. The real you, I mean. I'd been in love with the mythical creature in my belly for nine and a half months before you arrived.
I'd had you for most of a day, most of which I spent looking at you with a puzzled expression. You didn't look like who I was expecting and I wasn't sure who you were. I think I might have been a bit wiped out from our big night and your unexpectedly madcap delivery after such a steady labour.
So it's true - I felt a bit nonplussed.
But then it happened. The visitors left, your daddy went home to get some rest, the maternity ward quietened. And I looked at you and felt it all come rushing in. You were so beautiful. And you were mine. Such grand love.
You're the one who made me a mum. How lucky am I! Happy four, funny face.