Week 191

Dear Genevieve,

This was a really big month for us with a number of changes but I think what made the most impact on you was not what I expected. Your father and I were devastated this month when we had to say goodbye to our dog Reuben. He came into our life before you did so you have known him as a member of your family your whole life. We always assumed that when it came to saying goodbye, you would be as upset as we were. It turns out that you weren’t. At all.

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Your father and I would tear up when we spoke about what was happening with you but you didn’t appear to notice. You didn’t seem otherwise concerned as though you were scared that we were clearly upset either, you just took it all in stride and were actually quite pragmatic about the whole thing. Your first question was who will be our dog now? When you thought a little more about the fact that eventually we would be getting another dog, you wanted to know if we could get a robot dog instead. You were quite excited about that idea.

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If you were a little older I might have questioned whether that request stemmed from the concept that a robot dog would (in theory) never die and therefore we as a family would never have to go through that again. I don’t think that Reuben’s death really bothered you though. You just thought that a robot dog would be really cool. Although I do think that on some level, Reuben’s absence did impinge on you a little. You know, amongst the constant bed changes and car travel.

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Since you father and I had no desire to hang around the house and be reminded constantly of what we were missing, we chose to take advantage of the fact that we were more untethered than we had ever been and we went on a holiday. We went to stay with some good friends. We went to stay with your Bepi and Opah. We stayed with my aunt and uncle. We are staying with your Grandad and his partner now and we will go and stay with some more friends before we make it back home. We have been out to see other people too. A friend in hospital, some cousins on both sides, and we will stop by to see some great grands on the way back south. I’m sure you feel like you have been dragged from pillar to post as you have been cranky and moody as much as you have been having fun with all these people. At the end of one of your tantrums when you finally calmed down, one of the things you told us was I miss Reuben. We do too kid. We do too.

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So despite the unfortunate circumstances surrounding our vacation, it was wonderful to get away and spend time together as a family. We went to the beach. We went to playgrounds and you and your dad got to cook your “tiger bread” which made you very proud. You even went to a new playgroup up at Swansea and quite happily joined in with the other kids which was cool. I know that you can talk the hind leg off a horse and that you are crazy and silly and loud when you want to be so sometimes I forget that you can be really reserved around strangers. Either that or you just ignore them (you opted to have a bath one evening with the cousin that you had just met but you both just sat beside each other, talking and playing individually and not together). I am sometimes concerned that you might appear rude because you seem sullen when you are encouraged to play with others and are more interested in amusing yourself. I was glad to hear you were happy to join in and play that day though. Maybe those other kids just became your “me time” so far away from home…

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Other than the obvious things that happened this month, you continue to amuse me with the things you say or try to say as it were. For some reason we are getting a lot of “hippee” recently. The “yip” sound of the exclamation seems to have escaped you so far as does the “hoo” in hooray. Whenever we sing the play school song, its hip hip array! And we went to see play school this month too. As it is their 50th year and you are now old enough to enjoy it, your father and I took you to a live concert. I think you enjoyed yourself. You wouldn’t get up and dance and shout out as the hoards of other children did but you did appear to have a good time. You were hungry and tired by the end though so I’m sorry about that. We were trying to cheer you up by finding out what you wanted so we could make it happen but at that point, you just didn’t have the words.

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Its not as though you don’t have the vocabulary though. When you are rationalising something out, you get quite a lot of words in there. You like to tell us and yourself and anyone who will listen really exactly what is happening, how it is happening and why it is happening. You seem to feel that unless a full explanation is provided, people might be unsure of just what is going down. The reason must be clear. And in this, I think you are very much my daughter. There is an analytical mind in there no matter how left of field your father thinks you can be. And its cute. You know, up until the point that we really want you to stop talking about something and just do the something that you are talking about.

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Alles Liebe,
Lexelah

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Month Eighty-Four

Dear Husband,

I want to say that this was a really shit month. Like the worst one we have had in a long time. The one in which we reached a new low and the one where really bad things happened. Starting with the fact that I got incredibly mad at you. Not just annoyed or peeved or aggravated but spitting chips mad at you. Livid in fact. Apoplectic. So absolutely furious that I had to leave the house and just walk away. A long way. To the other side of town. As quick as my legs could take me. And it took me at least forty-five minutes to work off the worst of my mad and get to a point where I wasn’t ready to punch you in the head. I then had to turn around and get all the way home again and it took me the rest of the long walk home (and becoming sufficiently worn out) to stop thinking of you as a sanctimonious jackass.

And it was over something dumb too. It was over tax invoices.

Having just passed the end of the financial year, we needed to invoice a place of business through your personal ABN. Something I had been asking you to do for a while. Something I had been reminding you about for even longer. Something I can only assume you had been putting off till the last possible moment. It wasn’t like you didn’t know you had to do it but I felt like all of a sudden, I was being made out to be the bad guy for trying to force you into something. And then the push back started. I didn’t realise what it necessitated. I was naïve and didn’t understand the work involved. I was clueless as to the sheer amount of effort and diligence it would require to ensure that all legalities were addressed and accounted for in such a task…I kind of felt like you were saying I was too dumb to have any idea what I was talking about.

Didn’t I know we had to have an accounting program? That’s the only real way to keep everything together, to allow things to be accurately communicated and collated at tax time. Invoices must have comprehensive information on them after all. Did I honestly think I could just open a template invoice in Word, whack an ABN on there and address it to someone with a name and street location?? What about tax? What about Super? What about Centrelink benefits? How was I going to take those into consideration? What on Earth made me think that I could issue an invoice in the middle of a reporting period instead of at the end of a reporting period?

You were totally on your high horse as Mr Judgy Judgepants and all ensuing conversations did not go well. At all. When you then produced an accounting software based invoice complete with receiving business addresses, multiple email contacts and ABN etc that did not have what I felt was the most basic and relevant information (ie. actual hours worked and rate of pay), I finally lost it. I told you I just had to leave before I would say something I’d regret. You said well at least you would regret it. That wasn’t your finest moment.

I’m not saying I was right. Well, actually, in terms of being able to issue an invoice in Word midway through a Centrelink reporting period and reserving 30% in tax to pay back at the end of the financial year, I’m pretty sure I am right, but in terms of my behaviour, not so much. I was snide, combative, defensive and I probably did as much to prolong the situation as I did to try and diffuse it. So I am sorry. Because that wasn’t the only crap thing this month. The pain of that particular day was nothing compared to having to say goodbye to Reuben. That really sucked.

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I know that we made the decision to put him down. I know why we made the decision. I know that the decision was even the recommendation by the vet but that really doesn’t make me feel any better about the decision itself. Like you, I asked myself again and again, are we doing the right thing? Are we doing a convenient thing? Is there a better way? Is there another solution in which I will not find myself in this situation? Which is probably why it really didn’t help having everyone else do the same thing.

I know everyone meant well but when the first response is have you thought about this or couldn’t you do that, its not really helpful. If they didn’t have the other information, I can understand why that would be the first response but the conversation would usually be something like:
We have to make this decision.
Why?
After talking to qualified professionals, because of a, b, c and d.
Oh. But can’t you just do c or d?
No. No we can’t.

Or rather, yes. We could. But I have just explained the reasons to you why we won’t. So when you who has no qualifications in animal behaviour or veterinary science suggest that I should question my second opinion or respond with something equivalent to well, I’m not in your situation so I really don’t know all the ins and outs – you will do what you think is best of course – it is no consolation to the loss of a friend whatsoever.

So that sucked arse. And I was as devastated as you. The only saving grace for me was that Genevieve just took it in her stride. We always thought we would have a distraught child when it was time to say goodbye to Reuben but apparently not so much. She was just very matter of fact. Reuben is not here anymore because he died. Just like that. And thus we had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad month. Except for the fact that we went on our first family holiday in, like, ever. Your mum was awesome in offering to take care of us so we could just be. Be out of our house. Be together. Be distanced from the broken routine that would remind us of what we’d lost. Be rested.

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I didn’t realise how tired and stressed we had become till we went away. Until we were on your mum’s schedule of kids should have a bath around 5:30 because dinner is at 6. Because after that, the kids would be in bed by 7 and all of a sudden, we were free. Free for adult time. Free for a movie or going for a walk or for anything. So what did we do? We went to sleep. We crawled into bed by 8pm on some nights and just went to sleep.

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It wasn’t an escape though, it was refreshing. I got out the camera every day to take stuff of the kids and we did stuff together. We didn’t watch hours of tv but spent time with each other. That shouldn’t be something that is harder to do at home than it is to do away but somehow for us, it is. We make way for distractions at home instead of making time for fun. I’d like to say that when we get home we will try to continue as we have been while we were away but we probably won’t. One day.

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In the meantime, as much as you started out the month infuriating me, the end of the month was awesome. I love having a family with you.

Familiarly yours
Your Loving Wife

Day 185

Dear Elliot,

Oh My Goodness. You can actually sleep through the night! I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it but you totally did between 11 and 12 hours straight. I must admit, I even checked on you at one point to make sure you were still alive. There you were though, sleeping peacefully. I wish I knew what it was that made it so though. In this strange bed (portacot) on a different mattress (foam) in someone else’s house (Bepi’s), in a new location (up the coast) when every semblance of a routine that you would previously have known has been shot to pieces (we are on holiday), you sleep through the night. Figures.

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And, I was mildly perturbed by the fact that in terms of offering me a break, you already seem to be in cahoots with your sister. I wasn’t actually able to enjoy your sessions of extended slumber as on the marathon sleep night and the neighbouring few where your shortest stretch of comatoseness was 6 hours, Genevieve suffered some extremely broken nights of sleep. So I was still up and down. Several times. It does offer me hope for the future though. Even if it is distant. Because when I say the future, I do mean weeks and perhaps months away from where we are now.

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Despite the fact that you so beautifully and swiftly graduated to a full night’s sleep, I am definitely not naïve enough to either assume that this will continue for the rest of the holiday or indeed return once we are at home. Some would probably say that you should believe in something to make it happen but I don’t think I have a defeatist attitude. I think I’m realistic. I’ll take it when I get it and be grateful and you will get there on a regular basis in your own time….and, you know, since I never got to take advantage in the first place, I never really had it so theres not much to miss.

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Any time you feel like doing 12 hours again though, try and pick a night where you sister is also out for the count for the whole night. That would be awesome.

Much love,
Mama

Day 170

Dear Elliot,

Or perhaps I should say Boo. Not as in Peek-a-boo. Or like surprise but merely hey there my little Boo Bear. You are now to be known and recognised as Boo.

Genevieve got known as Genibean from very early on as an alternative to her Christian name and she also has the (mis)fortune to additionally answer to Missy Moo, Crazy Pants and Chicken Noodle. You have at times been referred to as Chicken Pants (like that’s an actual thing?*) or as your father seems to favour at times, Mr Magoo. Your sister frequently repeats this as Mr Gagoo and won’t hear any correction but neither are names I ever use for you. I seem to have settled on Boo.

As names go, I don’t think its that bad. There are definitely worse ones. Your Aunt Ishy was known as Fruitbat for years so you shouldn’t complain. And who knows, it might not stick beyond your toddler years which I’m sure aren’t far away. On the other hand, it just may be like your shadow from now on. But no matter how big you get, I think there will always be a part of you that is my little Boo. Just saying.

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And I also want to say sorry about the Play School concert. In hindsight, we really should have brought the noise reduction headphones for you because you completely freaked out with the sheer volume of noise and rambunctious children. I am sure that you will enjoy that sort of thing one day but on this particular occasion, you found that somewhat distressing. We will do better next time. Promise.

Much love,
Mama

Week 187

Dear Genevieve,

We found a new favourite book this month. Naughty Mabel. Its about a French Bulldog belonging to a couple in the Hamptons. Written in the first person, the book depicts some of the escapades that “Naughty Mabel” gets up to all in the voice of a self-absorbed socialite. Its not a book I feel that I can do justice to unless I am reading in an accent that I can best describe as camp as a row of tents. It’s a lot of fun. And perhaps because I clearly enjoy it so much, you have requested it again and again.

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We have read this book almost every day since we got it and you have shown it to a number of family members which cracks me up. Not because you love the book too or you want to share the book but because you like to read it. And you have memorised a lot. I watched you sit at the bench with your Aunt the other day and as you turned the pages you said I am Mabel and this is my humble abode and five is the new three and later on, I was flabbergasted. I don’t think you fully understand either the humour or the vocabulary used in the book but I think its awesome to see a three-year-old use the word flabbergasted.

Another favourite this month was not so much a book as a story. Or stories. You have also fallen in love with My Naughty Little Sister. Nightly as you go to sleep, we leave either music or a recording of Winnie The Pooh playing on an iPhone. In the age of digital media and associated platforms, we can leave just about anything on repeat and without break. When I was growing up though, we had records and cassettes. I would go to sleep with books on tape that would stop after one side and I still have these within the house. I pulled out one of my favourites, Felicity Kendall reading My Naughty Little Sister, for you to listen to the other day and you were hooked.

Now when you go to sleep, you like to listen to the tales of My Naughty Little Sister and Bad Harry. You insist on picking which of the two tapes you are going to listen to and perhaps fortunately, you have not yet figured out that each of the tapes contains two sides. I only let you listen to one side per night because the thing it, you actually listen to it. You stay awake for the whole thing! You don’t fall asleep like you do to Winnie The Pooh or Dr Seuss, you enjoy each of the stories till the tape player clicks off and you let us know we can return you to the regularly scheduled program of sleepy-time sounds.

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Also part of your established bedtime routine is your prayers. You still favour the little book I gave you last month however you now like to say them all by yourself. Which would be fine except for the fact that you can’t read so you don’t know which one should be read on which day. As a consequence, you expect us to read the very beginning of each line so you get the right one but during which you will frustratedly interrupt with no. No to get us to shut up so you can recite the full line yourself. I find I am equal parts amused that you really want to do it “all by yourself” and irritated that you can be kind of rude about it.

Because in general, you do seem to be showing more attitude lately and have been displaying more characteristics that we would consider rude or selfish. You will still go into meltdown mode if we happen to turn off a Genni tv show. Even if we have already mutually agreed that this will take place after what you have been watching is finished. In order for you to actually get tv though, you have started to say I have been so nice today mum…what can I have? If we tell you that we are happy with you, we hear what do I get? I suppose we have brought it on ourselves because we like giving you things and making you happy but this attitude and sense of entitlement is not going to help you fare well in this life. And the constant what else is not going to help you fare well with me either.

You have taken to demanding a litany of options when you ask us a question like what can I have to eat? You are not content to only have a couple of options from which to choose and seem to be hanging out for a better option as though one will always present itself. What else, Mama, what else? There are times when this desire not to settle will actually help you to grow as a person. It will assist you in striving for new things and may help you imagine and create. I hope as a parent not to quash that trait in you. You should be able to question the world around you and be able to search for bigger and better. But sometimes, for my sanity as a parent, you can have a cheese sandwich or a yoghurt. That’s it.

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So with the coming of new stages in your life, we also see the passing of old ones. It struck me the other day that you no longer come and snuggle with us in the mornings. When I was pregnant, you used to wake up early in the mornings and come and climb into bed with us and go back to sleep. As much as it was occasionally frustrating with my huge belly, it was sweet that we had that time together as a family. You no longer just come in and rest with us though. You stay in your own bed until you are ready to get up and start the day. Or, you know, until you wake up cold. I swear kid, you are going to have to learn to stay under the covers at night in winter. Either that or we might have to start putting you to bed dressed like the Michelin Man. Its winter!

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The only other thing that deserves a mention this month is that whilst playing outside in a yard, you stepped on a screw which became slightly embedded in your foot. It was an unfortunate accident but you were terribly brave and have recovered well. You are my little trooper.

Alles Liebe,
Lexelah

Day 156

Dear Elliot,

There are so many times throughout the week when something you do will strike me just so or when I have the thought now this is different. Times when I want to say…

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Dude. Don’t bite. Your teeth hurt! You have two teeth now. You got them a little later than your sister but now you have two bottom teeth right at the front. I’m sure that the advent each tooth makes your mouth a little sore as before they arrived, you would clamp down more often than not when you were feeding. It wasn’t just the closed jaw though. Your mouth also felt…abrasive. It feels that way again now but I have not yet seen a new tooth through yet. I could really do without the biting though. That would be nice.

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I love watching you reach for things and try to figure them out. You no longer bat your hands around randomly as if in reaction to a spasm. Now you can reach specifically for what you can see in front of you. And put it straight in your mouth. My fingers. Your toys. The tassels on my hoodie. You love those. Your fingers are strong and when they latch on, they don’t want to let go. You use them to explore the world around you. Including your toes. You find touching them fascinating as well. You can see them and you can feel them at the same time as you grab hold. Its cool huh? Theres only so much give though because as flexible as you are as a baby, you are not a contortionist.

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People often ask me how I am sleeping with a young baby and usually, that is pretty well. You frequently sleep for between 3 and 5 hours at night. You feed without fuss and then go straight back to sleep again. What has changed over the past couple of days though is going down for that first stretch. I could usually gauge when you were that mix of tired and hungry that I could feed you just asleep but now its like the milk can only get you 90% of the way there. Oh, you droop your eyelids and start to relax but as soon as I pull you off my lap? Game over. You are awake. I then pace and pat and sing and sway. Get you to that stage where you constantly aaahhhhhh so you finally succumb to slumber.

We have tried to give you food a couple of times recently. Real food. Not that you seem at all impressed by this. From the look on your face, you’d think we were trying to poison you. Or at least trick you into something bad. You seem incredibly intrigued when we are eating. You follow the path of food to mouth frequently and watch in wonder as meals are consumed but when it comes to trying it out yourself, you are decidedly not a fan. Not of apple or pear or banana or anything else we have given to you. If you are not ready yet though, that is fine. In another month or so we might have another battle on our hands but for now, you win.

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One thing that hasn’t changed is your beautiful cheeky smile. The one you give us when you should be going back to sleep but have no intention of doing so. Your lopsided grin when your dad is making faces and it amuses you, your toothy grin when Genevieve is singing and dancing in front of you and it makes you happy. Your surprised giggle when your merriment is too much to still keep inside is also one of my favourite things. You are going to be a heartbreaker when you grow up. You and your dimples.

Much love,
Mama