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Monday

My New Year's Resolution


My New Year's Resolution is pretty simple this year:

Be.

Just go with the flow.

Just exist and breathe and be happy for what I have.

Take a leaf out of Tiger's book. Smile lots. Sleep. Eat. Be curious. Enjoy new experiences. Be brave. Laugh about stupid things.

In the words of Michael Leunig:


Because I have this:


This is Tiger. She's on a horse.

And she wasn't scared. She just thought, "Oh. This is a big thing. This is possibly the biggest thing I have ever seen. But I will get on it and it will be fun!"

Tiger knows how to just be. She exists in the moment. She just rolls with it (literally - she is the roly-poly-est pudding that ever there was).

And that's what I'm going to do in 2013.

Hopefully, it will work.

Hopefully, it will be lovely.

Happy New Year, everyone!

~ Love, Miss Cackle x



Sunday

My Bogan Baby



I have a baby who loves flat screen televisions.

I have a baby who loves big speakers.

I have a baby who loves sound systems and X Boxes and Playstations and ALL OF THE THINGS THAT FLASH AND SPARKLE.

I have a baby who had the highlight of her little life yesterday, shopping in Harvey Norman on a Sunday afternoon.

Daddy Bear and I had grand plans for this little baby - bushwalks and fishing and riding horses and feeding ducks and hunting for bugs and swimming at the beach. She would be a nature baby, an outdoors baby, a girl who was thrilled to be amongst the animals and plants.

We never expected that we'd have a baby who was SO EXCITED BY AN ELECTRONICS SUPERSTORE.

But, for Tiger, Harvey Norman was like a carnival; like a circus; like a fairytale castle. There was noise and shiny things and things that went bleep!

IT WAS THE BEST DAY EVER!!!

There was squealing.

There was kicking of legs.

There was giggling and blowing bubbles and waving of hands.

Yesterday, on a Sunday afternoon, in a shrine to the bogan dream of enormous televisions and thumping surround sound, my Tiger was in ecstasy.

And you know what?

Who cares. It was lovely.

~ Love, Miss Cackle

Saturday

A Movable Tiger

... Tiger


Oh golly. It has begun.

It used to be that you could leave Tiger on her playmat and quickly run to the outside bin with a stinky nappy, or to wash your hands or grab a glass of water and you'd come back and she'd be approximately in the same place, chewing on her Sophie giraffe or rolling her tinkly ball.

Now?

Notsomuch.

Now, if you leave Tiger for more than, oh, fifteen seconds, she is halfway to China.

Or at least all the way across the room.

And no. She is not crawling yet.

You know that scene in The Exorcist where Linda Blair goes down the stairs upside down, with her belly in the air and her head and feet on the floor?

That's how Tiger moves. Belly in air, head on floor,pushing herself backward with her feet. She can cover HUGE distances very quickly with her ... unique moving technique.

And Daddy Bear thinks it's hilarious watching hermakingher strange way around the room. But me?

I'm thinking ...

CORNERS!

and HARD THINGS!

and THINGS THAT FALL DOWN!

and MAKING ALL OF THE THINGS SAFE AND SQUISHY!

It has begun. I no longer have a little baby who doesn't do much. I have a big girl who does ALL OF THE THINGS. And oh golly gosh it's lovely and amazing to watch.

But also ... gah!

~ Love, Miss Cackle x

Friday

Family



On Boxing Day, Tiger hung out with her Great Nan A.

Great Nan A is in her eighties but is still - especially after a recent hip operation - a formidable force of nature. She is the kindest, most resilient, most generous and brave and good-spirited person I know. And, as my little Tiger hugged this woman - who gave her her middle name - and stared up at her with eyes the very same bright blue, I saw my Nan's face reflected in my little girl.

And I was overcome.

Because if Tiger has even a quarter of the strength and gentleness of this incredible woman, I will be so proud. 

Great Nan A has four children, nine grandchildren and - almost instantaneously over the past two years she has gone from no great-grandchildren to five, with another on the way in February. The "L" family is a tight-knit, loving one and I am so glad Tiger will have many cousins (second-cousins, probably, but who cares about semantics), close to her age to grow up playing with, just as I did. 

I am so grateful that Tiger has so much loving family surrounding her, on both sides. She has doting grandparents, uncles who are completely charmed by her, cousins, second cousins, great-grandmothers ...

And, of course, a mother and father who feel so blessed to have her in their lives every single day. A mother and father who will devote their lives to making this little thing every bit as happy as she has made us. 

And we will have a loving family around us to help us every step of the way.

And I have been taught all I know about family from my Great Nan A. To her, family is the most important thing, and it is to me too. Stuff achievements. Stuff success. Who cares about money.

Family. Love. That's what important. And Tiger has both in abundance. And so she is rich and blessed.

As am I. Because I have my little family, but I have my big, complicated, extended family too. And every member of that family is just lovely.

But my Great Nan A is the best of all.

~ Love, Miss Cackle x

Thursday

A Very Big Few Days



Christmas is over for another year.

It's awfully hard to believe that this time last year we were just telling our family and friends about a tiny bean-size Tiger battling away in Cackle Mummy's belly.

And now ...

Miss Tiger has had a Very Big Few Days. We went on ... a holiday!

We went to STAY WITH GRAN AND GRANDA ON THE FARM WITH HORSES AND DUCKS AND CHICKENS AND STUFF! HURRAH!

Tiger has been here and there before this, but only for a night. This time, Tiger was going away for a WHOLE FOUR DAYS!

And Cackle Mummy was a tad stressed. How would Tiger cope sleeping and eating and playing in a Whole Different Place for four days? How would she cope with different noises, different smells, changing routines?

How would she cope with ALL OF THE CHRISTMAS STUFF?

In the end, of course, Cackle Mummy did not have to worry one tiny little bit. Tiger ate. Tiger slept. Tiger RODE A HORSE (Yes, actually). Tiger did not mind one jot being cuddled by All Of The Lovely Family People.

She had a super dooper Christmas, being (of course), Little Miss Centre Of Attention and getting All Of The Things. She received many books, a few special toys, a wonderful stamp set to frame, her first Big Girl Peter Rabbit eating set and sooooo many hugs! I am surprised Tiger did not come back in the shape of a hug! She spent all day being Very Much Squished. She hung out with Gran L and Granda C and Poppy S and Grandma V and Uncles Lil Bro and A, and Annie Cat and Sammy Dog and was loved by all and loved them so hard back.
 
The next day, Tiger went to see her amazing Great Nan A and was squished all over again.

And then, TIGER SAW HER FIRST LIGHTHOUSE!!! 

And the NEXT day, Tiger did in actual fact ride a horse. She is the cleverest and bravest and most resilient Tiger there is.

And now Cackle Mummy knows Tiger Can Travel ...

Oh the places we will go!

I am SO proud of my little girl. She charms the socks off all she meets, she loves new experiences, she is curious and good-natured and happy and just generally All Of The Awesome.

I hope you all had wondrous Christmases, especially those of you with new little ones. It makes it all the more special.

And time spent with family really is what Christmas is all about. Now I have Tiger, my family is complete.

And life has never been more lovely.

~ Love, Miss Cackle 

Saturday

Taking a break

 
This will probably be my last blog post for a few days.

Daddy Bear, Tiger and I are going on a road trip to stay with Granda C and Gran L for Christmas. It's Tiger's first long stay anywhere and she is ALL OF THE EXCITED about her little holiday, especially as it will involve HORSES AND DUCKS!!! GAH!!!

Gran L and Granda C live on an idyllic property in the country, the sort of property Cackle Mummy would like to raise her Tiger on, if the stars align, so this will be a good practise for Tiges. She'll be a Country Tiger for a couple of days!

Also, on Christmas Day, we will be joined by Poppy S, Uncle Lil Bro, Uncle A and Grandma V, and hopefully there will be a trip to see Great Nan A as well! A big few days for Tiger! And also her first encounter with ...

WRAPPING PAPER! OH! ALL OF THE CRACKLE!

We have not gone crazy with presents for Tiger this year, and have asked our family to do the same as a) Who actually remembers the presents they got as a child? Really? And b) What Tiger values is hugs and songs and stories (so there MAY be a few booky gifts), not material things.

We are going to have all of the fun as a family this Christmas, at a beautiful place, with all of the people Tiger loves.

I hope all your Christmases are just as lovely.

~ Love, Miss Cackle x

Friday

FEET!



Tiger has discovered her feet.

This is a Very Big Deal as they have become her New Favourite Plaything! They are a miraculous plaything, as they are ALWAYS THERE, no matter WHERE Tiger is (unlike her cube or Sophie the giraffe, which are sometimes GONE - a Very Sad Thing). 

Feet are there when Tiger is in her Sitty Uppy Thing.

They are there when Tiger is having a Nappy Switcheroo.

They are there in the kitchen, the bath, the CAR.

OH THE FEET THEY ARE THE BEST TOY EVER.

Also good are the legs, the sleeve and Mummy's Hand (which currently doubles as a teething item), but the FEET ...

If only grown-ups could be made so happy by such small things. It would mean an end to all war, violence and cruelty. If we could only retain our ability to be made happy by our own toes, just imagine how lovely the world could be.

Perhaps Tiger can spread her idea for world peace far and wide, and end all the nastiness that exists in the world ...

Well, she could if she'd just leave her feet alone for one minute. 

Watching Tiger making new discoveries, working out the world and becoming more and more delightfully curious is one of the loveliest things in my life.

~ Love, Miss Cackle x

Thursday

FFS Friday (Plus My Top Reads and Listens for 2012)


 I thought I had nothing to FFS about this week.

Sure, I was sick, but you must all be utterly weary of hearing about that (I do moan, don't I?). Plus, the shining parts of this week far outweighed the erky parts.

That is, until this morning, when I received my daily blog update from the wonderful Poppy S. Usually, these posts lift my spirit. Today, notsomuch.

You see, today, Poppy S blogged his top movies of 2012.

This is something Poppy S and  I have both done since I was a teenager. We rate our favourites throughout the year and compile them into lists to exchange as the year draws to a close.

During the time I worked at The Arty Movie Place, it was all I could do to narrow my list to a top twenty, with honourable mentions.

But this year ...

This year I have not watched a single movie.

FFS

For the first five months of 2012, I was pregnant and in too much pain to sit up for the two hour duration of a cinema trip.

And then ...

This is where this post turns into a Not Really FFS post. Because the reason I've watched no films in the second half of 2012 is that I have a far more entertaining and wondrous diversion right here in my own home.

Her name is Tiger. And I would gladly not watch another movie for the rest of time, in exchange for one of her cuddles or smiles.

Also, 2012 has been a wonderful year in books and music, and these pleasures have replaced movies as my top hobbies.

So, without further ado, here are my top reads and listens of 2012:

Books
  1. Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore – Robin Sloan
  2. Bright's Passage – Josh Ritter
  3. Friday Brown – Vikki Wakefield
  4. The Fault In Our Stars – John Green
  5. Let It Snow – John Green, Lauren Myracle, Maureen Johnson
  6. Every Day – David Levithan
  7. Holier Than Thou – Laura Buzo
  8. Wonder – RJ Palacio
  9. The FitzOsbornes At War – Michelle Cooper
  10. Welcome To Normal – Nick Earls

    Music

  1. Museum – Ball Park Music
  2. Take The Crown – Robbie Williams
  3. Babel – Mumford and Sons
  4. Bringing In the Darlings – Josh Ritter
  5. The Sound of the Life of the Mind – Ben Folds Five
  6. Spirit Bird – Xavier Rudd
  7. The Winter I Chose Happiness – Clare Bowditch
  8. The Best Imitation Of Myself – Ben Folds
  9. Born and Raised – John Mayer
  10. Love Interruption – Jack White

Tiger would like to add her top picks, which are as follows

Books
  1. Diary of a Wombat - Jackie French   
  2. Christmas Wombat - Jackie French
  3. Hairy MacLary From Donaldson's Dairy - Lynley Dodd
  4. There's a Hippopotamus On Our Roof Eating Cake - Hazel Edwards
  5. Growl Like a Tiger - Alison Lester
  6. Each Peach Pear Plum - Janet and Allan Ahlberg
  7. Who Sank the Boat? - Pamela Allen
  8. Pete the Sheep - Jackie French
  9. Sebastian Lives in a Hat - Thelma Catterwell
  10. Forever Young - Bob Dylan
Music
  1. Up All Night - One Direction 

Don't judge her. She's only a baby.  

And sharing books and music with my little girl - and Poppy S - is worth missing out on All Of The Movies.

It's one of the loveliest things in my life.

~ Love, Miss Cackle x

PS. For some ACTUAL FFS Friday, please pay http://www.dearbabyg.com/ a visit!

Wednesday

Thankful Thursday

It's been a poo of a week for Cackle Mummy.

Glandular fever is not all of the awesome. In fact, it is all of the Actual Yucky. It is can't-get-out-of-bed-can't-even-move-everything-aches-can'trememberhowtomovemylegsohmygollygosh awful.

I'm thankful that Tiger has a Daddy Bear who dropped everything to be Primary Carer for two days while Cackle Mummy lay in bed and moaned a lot. I have no idea how other mummies - mummies who don't have Daddy Bears around - cope when they get that sick.

Yesterday was the hardest. Daddy Bear had to go back to work and Cackle Mummy didn't really feel much better. 

But there was a Tiger.

And holy macaroni is she a beautiful Tiger.

She is a Tiger who laughs and rolls and chats away to me in Tigerish and can almost-almost-almost sit up and lies in my arms and looks up at me with the sweetest eyes I've ever seen and smiles and strokes my cheek and makes me feel like I'm not such a complete failure as a mummy after all.

These are the eyes. This is my girl.


No matter what was going wrong in your life, how could you not be thankful for that?

She makes me happy, just by being her little self. Because her little self is All of the Actual Lovely.

~ Love, Miss Cackle x

Tuesday

Parenting Fails and Wonder Weeks



This morning I discovered I have failed in yet another way as a parent.

It was while reading Tiger Christmas Wombat, in which Jackie French's famous marsupial goes on an impromptu adventure with some strange, antlered creatures, in search of EVEN MORE CARROTS (he never knew there were so many carrots IN THE WORLD!!!).

I looked from the sleigh on which Wombat catches a ride, to Tiger, to the charity Santa sack we have hanging on out mantelpiece and ...

I gulped.

Santa.

I forgot Santa.

I'd love to blame it on my illness-addled mind, but the reality is more embarrassing.

See, it's not that I REALLY still believe that Santa still exists (*cough*). It's more that I did not realise until that moment that ...

I AM SANTA.

Gulp again.

This realisation shook my world a little bit. 

It's Mummy who eats the carrot. Mummy who drinks the milk. Mummy who tiptoes to the Santa sack after Tiger is asleep. ME WHO MUST NEVER BE DISCOVERED DOING THESE THINGS!!!

It's an enormous responsibility. Especially for someone who is UTTERLY INCAPABLE OF BEING STEALTHY!

Also, there is the added responsibility of Remembering To Buy The Santa Present.

I failed in this.

Thank you, Christmas Angels, for Christmas Wombat. Thank you, Angels, for six more days to right my parenting wrong.

And while I'm on the subject of thank-you's ...

This:


My dad wrote a beautiful post about his year that was. I am honoured and humbled to be featured. Thank you to the man who was my Santa for so many years, and is now the best dad, supporter and friend a girl could wish for.

Just like his granddaughter, he is so very lovely.

~ Love, Miss Cackle x

Monday

Scratchies



Tiger has a new trick.

It is called: SCRATCHIES!!! And it involves, well, scratching. Specifically of her nose and sometimes chin. With her tiny fingernails.

HARD.

Until, sometimes, there is blood on her little Tiger face.

Cackle Mummy and Daddy Bear are usually very encouraging of Tiger and any way she chooses to express her little self. We clap when she rolls. We cheer when she pushes her little self up while on her tummy. We even applaud "burpies".

But Scratchies? We are notsomuch happy with this new game.

We are now filing Tiger's little fingernails every morning. We are re-filing, if needed, after bathies. We are mittensing for every nap. 

But still, somehow, Scratchies are happening.

Tiges now has two war wounds on her little nose and one on her little chin. She looks as if she has been crawling through a particularly brambly bramble patch. And, while Daddy Bear keeps assuring Cackle Mummy that a scratch here and there is NORMAL, Cackle Mummy hates seeing blood on her baby. 

Even if her baby seems blissfully unconcerned.

But then, Cackle Mummy reminds herself that it is only a scratch. That there are parents in the world dealing with much worse injuries and illnesses and even, as we have seen so tragically over the past days, the loss of their precious little ones.

It's only a scratch.

It's normal.

And Tiger DOES NOT CARE.

And, somehow, the Scratchies only serve to make Tiger look even cuter. They're little battle scars. They make her look tough.

And she will get more Scratchies, bruises and scars as she grows up (especially if she has inherited her Uncle Lil Bro's daredevil genes). She will fall from trees. She will trip on her laces. She will taunt Mephistopheles Danger Gordon until he whips out his ninja claws. 

It is all normal. It is part of life. Part of experience and, even though CM will wince whenever she sees blood on her tiny girl, it will mean Tiger is living and experiencing.

And that is lovely.

~ Love, Miss Cackle x

But PS. HOW DO OTHER MUMMIES AND DADDIES DEAL WITH THE SCRATCHIES???

Why there was no blog this morning



This morning, HB got up to feed Tiger.

This morning, he played with Tiger and she napped on him and it was HB who sang to her and hugged her and stroked her fuzzy head.

This morning, I couldn't get out of bed.

The lurgy finally won. My ability to cope and function completely shut down and I literally could not move.

But I couldn't sleep either. I kept thinking about my tiny girl and wishing I was with her. I couldn't feel right again until I was. And maybe that's a problem,but it's one I don't know how to fix.

And so now?

Now, Tiger is napping on me again, doing her little snuffle-snores and wiggles, and I feel whole. And HB is taking care of the mundane stuff - dishwasher and bottles and washing and lunch and coffee. And it might be more sensible for me to be in bed, but with Tiger is where I'm meant to be.

Amongst everything that seems hard and wrong and tiring and sad right now, she is the magic. When she woke up, earlier, on Daddy Bear, she looked over at me and she smiled and I knew nothing could really be bad as long as there was that smile in the world. And those little feet and even the scratch she has on her nose from her fish-fingersing fingernails that, despite being cut and filed every day STILL MAKE THE SCRATCHIES!!!

 My girl, in her completely-inappropriate-outfit-chosen-by-Daddy and her funny, mad little laugh, and her zombie noises and her hands that look like she's hula dancing, and which fascinate her so much right now ("These THINGS ... What ARE THEY? Are they MINE???? HOW DO THEY MOVE???").

My girl, who rolled twice in a row this morning and looked so gosh-darned shocked and proud.

She is magic. And gah. Yes. I am still sick, but I'm happy too.Because now, after the very generous rest that HB allowed me, I feel up to sitting with her, and stroking her head, and holding her little feet. I feel ... not well, but whole. Content. Like the world is a bit more right.

I adore my girl. She is all of the lovely and every bit of the magic and I am the luckiest.

~ Love, Miss Cackle x

Saturday

CHAIR!!!


 SOMEBODY got a new Thing yesterday!

SOMEBODY, who is now a VERY GROWN-UP SOMEBODY, in addition to her VERY CUTE pair of DINOSAUR SOCKS* (Aspiring paleontologist Daddy Bear is exceedingly proud), and tee shirt featuring a monkey and the slogan, "Let's Go Bananas", is now the proud owner of ...

A HIGH CHAIR!!!

Yes, that is right, my teeny tiny baby is now a Big Enough Girl to sit up to eat her dins!!!

And sit up she did last night, as Cackle Mummy fed her her Yummies. And she looked so very proud of her little self. So proud that she was now a Big Girl. 

And yes, it took a bit of working out (particularly as Tiger is very fond of trying to feed herself and this new feeding arrangement makes it easier for her to do so), but, despite the Food Everywhere Possible (including down Mummy's top and in her hair), we had ALL OF THE FUN!

And Cackle Mummy was so very proud of her Big Girl. She is so adaptable and eager to do Different Things. 

Watching her grow up is so very lovely.

~ Love, Miss Cackle

* As modelled elegantly below:
Model's own socks

Friday

I'm hugging Tiger more tightly today

 I was going to write about lovely things today.

About how Tiger and I banded together as Mummy and Tiger Baby to get through a tough sick day yesterday. 

About how Tiger's smiles and cuddles and funny little noises got Mummy through, as they always do. 

I was going to write about how Tiger is almost crawling; is working out new ways to access and play with her toys; how we snuggled in bed with Daddy Bear this morning, and how it was bliss.

But then I turned on the radio.

Twenty seven dead. Kindergarten children. Five-year-olds. 

My mind can't focus on anything else. My fingers won't type other words.

I'm just hugging Tiger all the more tightly. I'm valuing what I have all the more highly. My heart is breaking for the parents of those precious children.

Cuddle your children today, parents. Tell them you adore them. Kiss their little feet. Sing them a song. Read them a story. 

Love them. Love them so hard you think you'll break them.

I can't write anything else.

~ Love, Miss Cackle

Thursday

FFS Friday



I know this blog is meant to be about lovely things, but today I just need to vent a bit before I get to the loveliness. Please don't be angry.

The thing is ...

I have glandular fever.

Yesterday morning, a week of faintness, strange chest pains and difficulty breathing culminated in The Least Rushed Trip To Emergency Of All Time.

It is impossible to rush to Emergency with a baby. It is impossible to rush ANYWHERE with a baby.

Before we left, we had to wait for Tiger to wake up, take her milk and then her "yummies" (happy code name for "solids"), pack two more feeds, a change of clothes and nappies, change her, change her again when she did a Stinky Malinky (happy code name for "poo"), load her and her bags into the car ...

All of this meant if it actually had been a real emergency I would probably have been dead. But at least Tiger would have a clean tee shirt if she spilled.

Anyway, to cut a long and boring tale of hospital tribulations short, We arrived, I was rushed in because I was woozy, I had many tests, over many hours, and was finally told I am not dying but I do have advanced glandular fever and there is no treatment except bedrest.

Bedrest.

With a seven month old wiggly Tiger to look after.

So, basically ... FFS.

Also, the toilet is completely broken. So I now have to arrange getting that fixed while "bedresting" and looking after Tiger. FFS.

Also, I'm meant to organise a builder and plasterer to fix up the candy pink house before it goes on sale. While "bedresting" and looking after Tiger and organising a plumber. FFS.

Also, in order for the builder to do what he has to do, we have to completely clear out the spare room. Which is currently filled with furniture and boxes. Depending on when he can come, I may need to do this myself. While "bedresting" and looking after Tiger and organising a plumber, builder and plasterer. FOR FISH FINGERSING SAKE!!!

Right. Thatisall. Having got that off my (still very sore) chest, on to some loveliness.

Tiger.

Yesterday, Tiger was the Best Baby Of All Time.

While Cackle Mummy was being poked and prodded at the hospital, Tiger hung out with Daddy Bear, napped and woke and played and fed and napped and woke and got changed in a weird bathroom, and played, and all of this without a single grizzle. For hours.

All of the above Fish Fingersing stuff matters not a jot when compared with the Lovely That Is Tiger.

I am so thankful for her. Today and every day. She is the bee's knees.

~ Love, Miss Cackle

PS. For more FFS, go to Dear Baby G

Wednesday

Thankful Thursday



Today, I am thankful for so many things.

I am thankful for friends and family who take the time to ask how I'm going, and care about the answer.

I am thankful for a husband who worries. Even if it annoys me that he worries.

I am thankful for sunny days.

I am thankful for the people in shops who chat to Tiger and seem genuinely interested in her. Especially the people in Cotton On Kids, who always take the time to have a natter about how she's going.

I am thankful for the people who read this blog, and take the time to comment, either here or on Facebook or Twitter.

I am thankful for my dad's blog posts, which bring a smile to my face every day.

I am thankful for other bloggers, like Dear Baby G, Kate Says Stuff, We Heart Life, House Goes Home, Mrs Smyth Gets A Life and Sleepless Nights, who make me feel like I'm part of a community, even though I only know one of them "in the real world".

I am thankful for dill pickles. My new favourite food (and no, I'm not pregnant again).

I am thankful for advent calendar chocolate.

I am thankful for books I can read on my netbook while Tiger sleeps on top of me (thank you, NetGalley!!!).

I am thankful for Josh Ritter and Clare Bowditch, whose music gets me through the hard times.

I am thankful there aren't many hard times.

I am thankful for the people who care; the ones who keep caring even though sometimes they don't get much in return.

I am thankful that, every morning, I wake up to a gurgling little girl, alive and happy and in love with life.

I am thankful she's sleeping on me now, hugging tightly.

She has made my life lovely beyond all thankfulness.

~ Love, Miss Cackle

Tuesday

A blog and a change of heart



My dad has just started blogging. And oh golly is he good at it! Every day I look forward to his posts on The Blue Room, Riverside Drive, knowing he'll make me laugh, ponder the world differently, or just marvel at the wonders of nature in his lovely photographs. 

Some days, his posts make me cry.

Today was one of them. A novel he was reading led, as it often does for my dad, to a reminiscence about his long and marvellous life in teaching. He spoke about a young Downs Syndrome lad, named Daniel.

"Daniel was, for the years he was in my world, the school mascot if you like. One of my reasons for staying on for so long at my rural tenure was the fact that students could remain with us right through from kinder to Grade 10, and Daniel was, by the time he left, one of these few special ones. He was special in so many other ways too. He was a ‘character’, you knew he was about. We worked a curriculum around his needs; the fact it was a farm school was always useful, and Daniel had some responsibilities in that regard. I was part of his daily routine. As soon as he was off the bus he would be in to me, sitting at my computer in the school’s library. He was most interested to find out what I had repasted on over the last twenty-four hours and to gather my thoughts on how my beloved Hawks would go at the weekend, or debrief about their last match. I would receive pats on the back if they lost, high fives if they were victorious."

The other school children doted on Daniel. He was a valued member of the community. Later, he was to return to the school as an assistant to the groundsman. That's the way schools like the one my dad worked at operated. 

The blog made me sob, with joy that people like Daniel exist, and that people like my dad exist to nurture them.

"The Toms/Daniels of this world, like the rest of us, all have their foibles," my dad says. "They, though, do wear their emotions on their sleeves, reward kindnesses given with so much love in return, and their openness brings out the best in humanity."

These words brought on the tears. They also provoked a sense of regret, that I hadn't valued enough something I experienced a couple of days ago.

I was trying to settle a sleepless Poss after her hospital stay and was walking towards The Tram Place. About a quarter of the way to my "turning around point", I felt a presence at my side. There was a very small, very squat person trailing me. 

"You got a baby there?" she asked. 

"Yes," I replied. "She's sleeping."

"Sleeping baby right. Sleeping baby. Windy today, isn't it? Isn't it windy?"

"Yes. Very windy today."

"Very windy. How's your baby?"

"She's sleeping. She's been a bit sick."

"Oh, that's no good. That's no good. Windy, isn't it?"

And so it went the entire way up the Very Long Road and almost back home again. She nattered away and I made quiet replies, all the time trying to settle Tiger. At the time it was frustrating as all I wanted was a sleeping baby. I did not want to converse with a small person about the wind for forty five minutes.

Dad's blog has made me look at this journey differently. It made me see it for the strange but lovely experience it was.

I hope I encounter the small person again, on my way to The Tram Place.

I'll talk to her about the wind again, or Tiger, and this time I won't be frustrated. I'll marvel at her openness and try and give the same to her. It might make her day. I'll let it make mine.

Because this time I'll realise how lovely it is.

~ Love, Miss Cackle

Monday

A confession



I have a confession to make.

Sometimes, I miss being pregnant.

And I know that must sound very peculiar to those of you who know what my pregnancy was like - two threatened miscarriages, blood clots, one threatened preterm labour, months of contractions and hospital stays and nausea and sleeplessness and, eventually, a terrifying emergency caesarean six weeks before Tiger was meant to come into the world.

And it's true, this isn't the pregnancy I miss. I miss the pregnancy I was meant to have.

I miss months of happy anticipation. I miss buying lots of tiny clothes and toys - something we never did, because we weren't ever certain Tiger would even get here. I miss having a baby shower. I miss maternity clothes. I miss poring over pregnancy books. I miss prenatal classes. I miss pregnancy yoga. I miss being treated like I'm special and important and goddessy. I miss relaxing on the couch. I miss relaxing.

I miss having time for my body to be well and rested before the tiredness and stress that would be wrought on it after Tiger's birth.

My pregnancy was seven and a half months of pure terror. I don't think I ever felt calm in that whole time, even as I told myself that being calm was best for the baby (somehow telling myself to be calm always has the opposite effect).

I miss the joy that pregnancy is supposed to bring.

And before you all say, "But look! You got your Tiger. She is well and happy, so it was all worth it!"

This is obvious. And this is how I feel every single day. I feel so utterly grateful every day that my Tiger came out of all of that trauma healthy and beautiful and as utterly, incredibly awesome as she is. I would go through all I went through - and worse - over and over and over again if it meant she would exist. My daughter is amazing. I would jump in front of a bus for her.

But that doesn't mean, just sometimes, when I see friends experiencing all of the bliss that should come from growing a little person inside of you, I don't feel a pang of wishing I had that. It's that wondrous anticipation I regret not having, more than anything.

But then, I look at my girl, who this morning decided she wanted to hold ALL OF HER TOYS AT ONCE AND WAS NOT GIVING ANY OF THEM UP TO MUMMY EVVVEERRRRR and the regret and missing fades away. I will not ever get that joyous pregnancy. But I won't ever get to be a supermodel either, or an Olympic athlete, or a child prodigy. I need to look forward, not backwards. I need to look at all the years I have now with my Tiger. 

I need to stop being so fish fingersing selfish.

Because she is the cat's pyjamas and no nine months of bliss could equal even a second of staring into her tiny face and seeing that little mouth open wide into an ecstatic grin.

She. Is. All of the lovely.

~ Love, Miss Cackle x

Sunday

Just Another Magic Monday



It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.

And, for the first time in many years, I'm super dooper excited. Because it's not JUST ANOTHER Christmas. It's TIGER'S FIRST CHRISTMAS!!!

It's almost impossible to believe that, this time last year, Husband Bear and I were deciding whether to tell our family that I had a Tiger inside me. We'd already nearly lost her twice and our chances of keeping her were still very small.

We decided to tell everyone. We decided to tell them all at once, on Christmas Day. We bought a tiny hat and we put it in a bag with some of her ultrasound photos. We made sure it was the last present on the pile. We'd instructed my Lil Bro to play Santa and when he reached the Tiger present he said, "Who's this for?"

I said, "everyone".

HB had thought it would be amusing to let Lil Bro pull out the hat and images and for the news to slowly dawn on our family.

Instead, of course, me being me, I blurted, "This time next year there will be another member of this family," and I promptly burst into tears. Knowing it was more of a hope than a fact. Knowing that Tiger's entry into the world was still so uncertain - it would become even more uncertain in the coming months.

Now it is almost "this time next year" and Tiger is here. She made it. She exists and she is big and beautiful and feisty and funny and, occasionally, a ratbag (which I LOVE). She is her own, incredible little person. Without knowing it, she brings so much bliss to all the people who were at our house when we announced my pregnancy. And this year I am looking forward to bringing joy to her on her very first Christmas day.

And this doesn't mean lots of presents. Indeed, HB and I are intending to buy her only one toy and a book. She doesn't need "things". That's not what love is. Love isn't what we buy someone. Love isn't fancy clothes or expensive gadgets. Love is having her family around her, hugging her and kissing her and telling her she's magic.

Oh, and maybe some Christmas paper. I know she's going to love playing with that.

The magic in my Monday is Tiger. That she's here.

This morning I watched as she rolled around on her mat, picking up a toy, looking at it, deciding she didn't feel like playing with that toy, throwing it away and picking up another. She used to just play with whatever toy was closest. Now, she's choosy. It's amazing to watch.

My girl is so lovely. It's not her job to bring me happiness but oh golly she does.

She makes every day magic.

~ Love, Miss Cackle x

Saturday

A small act of kindness



Yesterday was another difficult day for The Little Family.

After her hospital visit, Tiger was still unsettled and having trouble with her little tummy, and noisy work in the garden meant sleep was even more hard to come by.

After a few hours of trying to settle her poor little girl, Cackle Mummy decided to try another tactic: walkies.

As we walked down our street - something that is usually done with apprehension as it has been a place of Danger for Tiger and Cackle Mummy in the past - a lady was getting out of her Big White Car.

The lady waved at Tiger and Cackle Mummy and introduced herself, saying she'd been meaning to say "hullo" for awhile, as she often saw The Little Family walking by.

The lady then asked if Tiger and Cackle Mummy might like some strawberries, freshly picked from a friend's garden.

Absolutely chuffed, Cackle Mummy said, "yes, please!"

"Don't take them with you now," the lady said. "You don't want to be carrying them with you while you walk. Pick them up on your way back through. I'll leave them on the verandah."

And so Tiger and Cackle Mummy continued their walk, down to the Tram Place, and had a little sit in the park (Tiger did not sleep at all, what with life being All Of The Exciting). We then toddled back to our street.

We stopped in at the house of the lady and saw that, on the verandah, there was not only the punnet of strawberries, but a bottle of water, a Christmas-wrapped parcel and a note.

The note told Cackle Mummy and Tiger that the house of the lady was a safe house, and if Tiger and Cackle Mummy ever needed to stop in and have a drink, or change a nappy, or just have a rest, they were very welcome.

Cackle Mummy knocked on the lady's door and told her that what she had done was the kindest thing Cackle Mummy had experienced in a long time. 

When we got home, Tiger and I opened our present to find a lovely card, drawn by Tony Ross, and a CD of The Nutcracker Suite. "The little one will like the music," the lady had said.

Tiger and I sat on our back verandah in the sun, with our strawberries and our music and we thought about the lady and how a little kindness can make the world of difference.

Suddenly, the difficult day didn't seem so difficult after all.

Suddenly, it seemed utterly lovely.

~ Love, Miss Cackle x

Friday

My Brave Tiger



Yesterday was not a happy day for my Tiger.

Something went wrong in her little Tiger belly, causing much sadness and pain. This pain was horrible enough that my Tiger lost consciousness while battling it.

A terrified Cackle Mummy and Daddy Bear took their little girl to hospital for only the second time in her usually healthy little life.

At the hospital, some kind nurses and a simply wonderful doctor gave Tiger a good checking out. They decided that something in Tiger's new Big Girl diet had caused the pain, and the loss of consciousness was a reaction to the pain and nothing more serious.

The fact that Tiger smiled and giggled and wiggled the entire time she was at hospital might have had something to do with this diagnosis.

I'd like to express my thanks to everyone at the LGH who dealt so gently and kindly with my girl. They were obviously busy but took the time to make Tiger feel special, even as she felt at her worst.

We took our little brave darling home with instructions to keep a close eye on her and check in with a GP next week.

I was so very proud of Tiger yesterday. Despite having no sleep, she was happy and cooperative with the nurses even as they took blood and listened to her chest with a cold thermometer and wrapped monitors around her little toes. She never grizzled once. 

My girl is tough.

Cackle Mummy wasn't so tough. Inside, her heart was shattering in a million tiny pieces for her little girl. There is actually nothing in this world worse than seeing your baby in pain. It is something I don't want to see again for ... well ... ever. But I learned a lesson in parenting yesterday. Even though I wanted to scream and cry and call all panic stations, on the outside I stayed calm for my Tiger because I knew I had to hold it together for her. I'm guessing I'll do this many more times as she gets older.

I just want to say a heartfelt thank you to everyone who expressed concern about my girl yesterday. I gave her every one of your messages and she knew how loved and valued she is. I am so grateful to the little community - online and in "the real world" - that we have wrapped around us. When your child is sick it can feel like such a lonely, scary time. Your words made me feel as if I wasn't alone. And that helped immeasurably.

Meanwhile, after we were discharged, I took Tiger for a walk to settle her and, when she woke again, we went to the park and sat in a sunbeam. Tiger played with her new toys and smiled and giggled and I was in awe of her. No time for feeling sorry for yourself when there are toys to play with and trees to look up at.

And last night we went out to Former Employer Bookshop and had our portraits drawn by Talented Illustrator Friend (AKA Miss B), and Tiger charmed everyone at FE Bookshop with her sunniness and sweetness, and I was so proud again. I have done nothing to make this girl the utterly incredible little thing she is. It's all her. I am so unbelievably blessed.

My girl is not only lovely. She is the loveliest.

I am the luckiest.

~ Love, Miss Cackle

Thursday

FFS Friday



Most weeks, I have trouble cobbling together a list of things that make me go "Fish Fingers Sake". Usually, life is pretty darn awesome, with my Tiger and my Bear.

But this week was erky.

Erky enough that I have a WHOLE ENTIRE LIST of Fish Fingery Things!

Hurrah-slash-boo!

Here is my list of erk:

  1. The neighbourhood urchins have take to rocking our roof. And they seem to have an innate sense for when Tiger is sleeping. FFS
  2. Our tumble dryer is broked. And yes, it's Summer and I'm hardly using it but still. Poop. FFS
  3. Our toilet is broken. FFS
  4. Our lawnmower is broken. FFS
  5. We have none of the munnies to fix all of the brokens. FFS
  6. Tiger has a drool rash. It is hurting her poor little self. FFS
  7. Tiger also seems to have a bit of a funny tummy. Also hurting her little self and meaning sleep is not really happening all that well. My heart breaks for my poor little mite. FFS
  8. It is very warm outside. It is very cold in here. *shakes fist at dodgy insulation* FFS
  9. They have changed the recipe of my favourite curry sauce. It now contains gluten. Which is all of the bads for my coeliacy tummy. FFS
  10. I am sick. Again. And this is a bit of a weird sick. My legs periodically go numb and my chest feels all weird and I am exhausted and my throat is very sore. Please don't tell me I'm dying. FFS
Thatisall. Now I look at it, I feel like such a grumpy gremlin for all of the FFSness, but it does feel good getting it out!

There has been so many sunshiney things in this week, though, to counteract the Fish Fingers stuff. I've gone to the park with Tiger and Christmas shopped and hung out in cafes with her. I finished edits on a manuscript. I went to a wonderful book launch this time last week, and I'm going to a book shop Christmas night tonight. Also, despite her travails, Tiges has been nothing short of awesome. 

AND she received her very first prize, thanks to Dear Baby G (who also has some FFSness at her site).

Here she is playing with one of the bits. She has SO MUCH LOVE for this roly poly thing!

 
So life is good, really, and family are coming to visit us tomorrow and, despite the few things that are a bit Fish Fingery, really, everything is lovely.

~ Love, Miss Cackle

Wednesday

Thankful Thursday



Today, I am thankful for Clare Bowditch.

I am thankful for Robbie Williams.

I am thankful for Josh Ritter and Mumford and Sons and Archie Roach and The Cat Empire and Nick Cave and Ball Park Music and Ben Folds Five and Bob Evans and, yes, even One Direction.

I am thankful for the YouTube clips sent to me by dear Poppy S when he makes a new discovery. I am thankful that his first instinct is to share these discoveries with me.

I am thankful for car trips listening to Pain of Salvation and Ayreon, Moonsorrow and Sonata Arctica.

Most of all, I am thankful for lying on the carpet beside my poppet as she wiggles to Katy Perry and Pink and Take That. My Tiger is being raised on an eclectic musical diet of country, metal and bubblegum pop. No Wiggles or Hi Five in this house. Her lullabies are The Beatles and Cat Stevens. Her play music is cheesy pop songs and indie rock.

I am thankful that, over the past few sick and stressful days I have been able to soothe and entertain my baby with music, calming and cheering myself at the same time.

I am thankful that Poppy S gave me the gift of a love of music. There really is nothing like the power of it to lift up the soul.

And, as always, I am thankful for my Tiger, for being so understanding and sweet while Mummy has been at less than her best. She is the greatest comfort and solace. She is the music that stirs my tired heart to joyous beating. 

She is lovely.

~ Love, Miss Cackle

PS More thankfulness can be found at http://www.weheartlife.com/

Tuesday

Tiger would like to tell you something ...


If Tiger could talk, this is what she would be saying this morning:

"Yep, so, you remember how my mummy said yesterday that she is a bit sick? And you also remember how my mummy tells you All. Of. The. Time how completely awesome and wonderful and gosh-darn lovely I am? Well, just to further prove it, last night I did something a bit super-amazing. Just because I thought Mummy could do with the extra sleep, I SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT! And not just in the silly way they tell you about in the books. None of this 'sleeping through the night is ten pm until four am' rubbish. No. That stuff is for normal, un-awesome babies. I slept FROM EIGHT PM UNTIL FIVE AM! Yep, that's right. I am the most incredible baby Of. All. Time. Presents of squeaky and tinkly things may be sent to me care of Mummy. Thatisall."

Oh, Tiger. You are the loveliest. In return for the marvellous gift of sleep you gave me (although, to be honest, I didn't sleep that much more, as I lay awake waiting for hungry noises. But this is not Tiger's fault), you may, today, have ALL OF THE CUDDLES.

I love you, my darling poppet. Every day you are lovely, but today you are especially so.

~ Love, Miss Cackle (and Tiger) x

Monday

Struggling through


Today, I will be struggling through.

At the risk of sounding like a hypochondriac great auntie, "my health" has "taken a turn for the worse" (golly, next I'll be sending off for some Butter Menthols and a mug of Horlicks!). 

The badness of health began yesterday, and poor Tiger had the most dreary and dull day she has ever experienced in her tiny life. Stories were told in a voice that made Alan Rickman's seem hyperactively enthusiastic. Songs lyrics were changed to "I'm so sick, sick, can I go to bed?" (Baa baa black sheep) and "In the lounge room, the chilly lounge room, the mummy sleeps today ... please?".

"Play time" consisted of Cackle Mummy lying on the floor and passing Tiger rattles or, more often, putting rattles just out of reach and saying, "Come on, Tiges, you can roll that far. Mummy is too tired".

Our daily dance around the living room was less dance party and more "dinner dance at the local retirement home".

No wonder Tiger was excited to see Daddy Bear at the end of the day.

And today I feel a little bit worse.

So the wombat in Diary of a Wombat was much more laid-back than usual. Scarface Claw was a docile pussy cat. Koala Lou didn't really care much if she made it to the top of the gum tree or not.

And yes, I feel like the worst mother of all time, but I don't know what else to do, apart from struggle through.

And be grateful for the fact that my Tiger seems to have an innate intuition for when I feel less than my best and becomes even more delightful. I am so lucky that, even when Cackle Mummy is doing the worst job ever, my girl is quite ridiculously lovely.

~ Love, Miss Cackle

Sunday

Magic Monday


It's easy to get bogged down in the yucky things.

Even if you try your darndest, as I do, to pay attention to all that is lovely and magical about the world, some particularly trying days life just gets on top of you.

I had one of those days yesterday. A migraine, a broken tumble dryer, a sore chest and a lingering feeling of erk conspired to make me, well, a bit of a grumpy gremlin really.

But then, Tiger, Husband Bear and I went for a walk in the sunshine. We went to the park and we sat below a tree and we watched as our little girl gazed up at the dappling light between the leaves and played with grass and was fascinated by sticks, and HB and I chatted about this and that and enjoyed our little sunbeaming nook of the world ...

And the erk faded.

Later, we went coffee-shopping and for a drive down the beautiful, sparkling river and then we went supermarketeering and, in all of this, there was so much magic.

It only takes a small thing - a sunbeam or a smiling baby or, in Tiger's case, a particularly enthralling stick - to turn a frowning day into a smiling one.

This morning, for me, it was my little girl doing her valiant best to sit up all by her little self. She's close. I think she could do it, but she loses confidence after a while and hurls herself backwards with frightening velocity. So we only try it when Mummy is there to catch her when she falls. This morning, though, as we read together while the sun rose, she sat up by her little self for the full duration of Hairy MacLary's Bone.

She's getting there, my brave, determined, clever little poppet.
And watching her as she does is perfectly magic.

I'd love it if you'd share some of your magic with me and everyone who reads this blog. You never know, it could be your magic moment that makes someone else's day a smiling one.

And wouldn't that be lovely?

~ Love, Miss Cackle x

Saturday

Am I Less of a Mother?



I do not look like a mummy.

It seems like such a very silly thing to be concerned about when you think of all we've been through: the frightening pregnancy, the emergency birth, the weeks of tiny Tiger fighting to grow and be strong, the breastfeeding issues, the illness ...

The fact that I do not look like a conventional mother? It seems ridiculous that it even enters my consciousness. But it's true and it does and, for some reason it breaks my heart a little bit.

I am thin. Not emaciated thin, but definitely "gee, you're so tiny" thin. So thin that the office lady at my old school (where I went this week to conduct workshops), commented, "You still look exactly the same as you did when you were thirteen. Still a string bean".

So thin that, when Tiger was still new and very small, people would often say, "No wonder she's so small. Look at you!"

That hurt. Because I already felt as if my body had failed Tiger. And now it was as if all these comments confirmed it.

Later, I was so thin that a so-called "breastfeeding expert" commented that the reason Tiger and I were struggling to feed was because I didn't have "adequate fat stores".

And yesterday, a well-meaning and lovely stranger said, "She's such a big baby! I would have thought she'd be tiny, considering the size of you. You don't look like you've had a baby at all! You don't look like a mother".

And even though I knew she didn't mean anything bad by it, that comment stung as well.

Because being a mother is all I want to be. And I want to look like one.

I put on nearly twenty kilograms in the thirty two weeks I was pregnant. I loved it. I loved feeling - for the first time in my life - "womanly".

A week after Tiger was born, ten kilograms were gone.

And now, another five and, despite trying as hard as I can to "maintain my fat stores", I am now nearly as small as before I fell pregnant. And I no longer look "womanly".

I am, in Husband Bear's words, back to being a "runt".

And yes, I know it's stupid to care. And yes, I know Tiger doesn't care at all what I look like, so neither should I. And yes, I also know that now I'm not breastfeeding any more the weight might creep back on. 

I hope it does.

And it's not something I think about every day - really only when it's brought back to my attention by a passing comment - but it is always there, hovering in the back of my mind: 

I am less of a mother because I look this way.

And, worse, I will be a bad role model for Tiger if I continue to look this way. Because what if she sees me and thinks she should be thin too? What if she thinks this is an ideal?

I'm going to try not to think of it. I'm going to try, instead, to concentrate solely on my Tiger. I am going to watch her as she obsessively blows big, gloopy, noisy bubbles and I am going to remember that what I look like doesn't make me the mother I am. And it's not all about me. 

It's about her.

And she, literally, couldn't care less what Mummy looks like, as long as she's smiling.

And smiling I do often. How could I not, when I have a little girl who is so unfailingly lovely?

~ Love, Miss Cackle