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Tuesday

Deadlineroonie ...



Hullo!

This is just a very short post to say ... um, well, I won't be posting. Not for the next few days at least.

I am, as we say in the mummy-slash-author industry, a trifle busyish.

But, as of next week I will be free as a bird and blogging like ... a VERY BLOGGY THING.

So, I'll just toddle off now to hyperventilate into a paper bag immerse myself in my editing.

I'll see you on the other side. And, in the meantime:

Just because.

Sunday

The More Things Change ...



I'm listening to John Mayer.

And yes, I know that admitting this may be met with many eye rolls and head shakes out there in Cyberland. After all, John Mayer hardly has the hipster cool "I-liked-them-before-they-existed" cachet of the uber-cool wunderkinds you're probably listening to. Like The National or ... whoever.

But I like John Mayer. Same as I like Robbie Williams and The Spice Girls and Travis and a thousand other possibly daggy bands that you would also like if you realised they are MADE OF AWESOME. 

But I'm digressing here. My point (and I do have one), is that I'm sitting here listening to John Mayer's 2003 album, Heavier Things, and I am reminiscing. Heavier Things came out at a pivotal time in my life. I'd just finished my first uni degree, I'd just left a relationship I'd been in since I was sixteen, I was deciding what to do next, where to go, where to live, who to be. I look back at my life then and think how very much has changed since.

I completed two more degrees.

I met the love of my life.

I bought a house.

I worked as a librarian, a barista, a cinema projectionist, an art seller and (my favourite), a children's bookseller. Then ...

I had three books published.

And then, the biggest thing of all, I gave birth to the most incredible creature who ever existed.

So much has changed. And yet, on Tiger's first birthday this week, I got messages, cards and well-wishes from the girls who were my best friends ten years ago and still are today. They were my rocks when I was going through that time of upheaval. I still don't know how I'd cope without them.

So much has changed. And yet, yesterday, I spent the day with my family - the people who matter to me the most. The people who took me in and picked me back up as I put the jagged pieces of my life into some semblance of a new whole.

So much has changed. And yet, yesterday, I talked books and music with my dad. I laughed with my mum. I made fun of my little brother. I soaked up the sheer joy that is my dad's partner, Tiger's Nana L-L. I hugged my nan as hard as I could because she is the most incredible person I've ever known. 

They are the Tigers and Tigresses behind me. They are my people. I love them so very much.

So much has changed and yet, it is still the same. I am still the same. I'm still partly broken, still not entirely whole. Still floundering, still unknowing. Still so small and uncertain. And yet, I'm different, too. I have a new strength, now I'm a mum. I have a new wonder at a world seen through her eyes. I am renewed by her.

And as I listen now, home from a beautiful weekend with all the people who matter most to me, to a singer who might be daggy, but whom I love despite (or perhaps because of), it, these words resonate with me:


"Well I never lived the dreams of the prom kings
And the drama queens
I'd like to think the best of me
Is still hiding
Up my sleeve"


I was never a prom queen. I was never cool. I always thought my "real life" - the time when I would become the superhero awesome person I was destined to become - was just around the corner (possibly heralded by a fairy godmother or, like, Hagrid maybe).

In 2003, I was waiting for "the real world" - my real life - to begin.

Now, I realise this is it. I'm living it. I'm glad of everything I've been through. All of it has contributed to the person I am today. And I am blessed to be this person, living this life, in this moment. But, as things change, and stay the same, and move and transform and grow, I'm increasingly aware that this moment is all we have.

And it's lovely. 

~ Love, Miss Cackle x 

Wednesday

This is a VERY IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT! THIS IS NOT A DRILL!



Ahem. Tiger and Daddy Bear and I have something to announce.

And it goes a little somethin' like this:

Tiger. Is. ALL OF THE ONE!!!


This is Tiger. She is one.

Thatisall. We are off now to have the sort of adventures only Big People have. This may or may not involve ice cream and crunching in leaves.

You may now recommence usual activities.

~ Love, Miss Cackle x

Tuesday

I'm really glad I've got you in my corner ... *



Being a Tiger Mummy is the best thing that ever happened to me. I have never felt so utterly, heart-wrenchingly, perfectly, blissfully, elatedly, huge-smilingly, bouncingly, floatily, heavenishly happy ever. Ever. 

Not even when I met Paul Kelly.

Not even when I met Melina Marchetta.

Not even when I saw Josh Ritter play live on stage in Oxford.

Not even when I went to Hogwarts.

Not EVER. Tiger is it and a bit and the cat's pyjamas and the bee's knees and the duck's guts and I love her more than hot chips and tomato sauce.

But, as every parent or carer knows, there are challenges to being responsible for a Whole Human Being.

Tiger is a very, very, very easy baby to be around. She is cheerful and funny and well-behaved and generally effervescently happy ninety nine percent of the time. So what is my challenge?

In one, little but very scary word? 

Anxiety. 

It's taken me a long time to say this. But it's true. The way I wake up in the middle of the night, bawling my eyes out because I'm worried she'll die; the way I don't sleep at all, most nights, nearly a year after her birth, because I'm worried if I do she'll stop breathing; the way I have actual panic attacks thinking of all the ways the world could hurt her?

That's not normal.

Except, of course, it is. Because I'm not alone. 

According to the Beyond Blue website, "Anxiety is the most common mental
health condition in Australia. On average, one in four people – one in three women and one in five men - will experience anxiety at some stage in their life. In a twelve month period over two million Australians experience anxiety." (http://www.beyondblue.org.au/resources).


I do my best to keep my anxiety from Tiger. I think it's a testament to my ability to do this that she is such a happy girl. She hardly ever cries, is very sociable and secure and independent. This is because she knows she is loved, is cuddled lots and made to feel special. And (though it is difficult for me), I make a point of not being a "helicopter parent". I do my best to keep her safe, but I want her to explore and have adventures. I do not for one second believe my anxiety is affecting my ability to parent her well.**

But it is affecting other areas of my life. And I don't want it to any more.

So I'm working on that.

But the purpose of this post is to thank every single one of you who have helped me - most of you without knowing you were doing it - to combat my anxiety daily. A phone call, a text, a Facebook comment - all of these are much bigger helps to me than you know.

I love you all. And I want you to know, if you are one of the millions of Australians who have anxiety, you are normal. You are not weird or crazy or weak. In fact, you're probably stronger than most people because you have to deal with this on top of all the other stuff this messed-up world throws at you. So be kind to yourself. And, everyone else? Be kind to each other. Be gentle with the people you come across, because you have no idea what they're dealing with.

Smile.

Wave at babies when they wave at you. It makes their mother's day.

And thanks again, everyone. I'm really glad I've got you in my corner ...

More information and a scary new video featuring the super-spunky Mr Ben Mendelsohn, can be found here: http://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/anxiety

~ Love, Miss Cackle

* With lashings of thanks to the incomparable Mr Bob Evans for the quote.
** Also, I made biscuits tonight. For those of you who know me and my supernatural ability to burn water, you'll know that this is WIN!!!

Sunday

My first Mothers' Day



This morning, I didn't sleep in. 

I was up, like every morning, at a quarter to five, writing and editing.

This morning, I didn't get breakfast in bed. I made breakfast for my family.

This morning, I didn't get flowers and chocolates. I did get a packet of gluten free pancakes I'd been coveting (at $8 a pop they are well outside of our limited budget).

This morning I didn't get shipped off to a spa or a massage parlour while Daddy Bear hung out with Tiger. I hung out with Tiger while poor Daddy Bear had to work.

And we had the best day.

We wandered in the park and crunched in leaves and ate a cheap lunch together at Morty's and we read ten books and we played "ta" and peekaboo and she slept in my arms and I kissed her little head a thousand times and we sat together by the fire and I whispered to her that I loved her more than all the stars and planets and blue sky and hot chips and tomato sauce. 

And then, when Daddy Bear came home, we went supermarketeering, which is one of Tiger's very favourite things to do, and we bought ingredients for her first birthday cake, and party hats and balloons and then we came home and Daddy Bear put Tiger in a silly hat and she crawled around creating mayhem and now she is eating banana sandwiches and going "yum yum yum".

This morning, I didn't sleep in. 

This morning, I didn't get breakfast in bed. I made breakfast for my family.
This morning, I didn't get flowers and chocolates.

This morning I didn't get shipped off to a spa or a massage parlour ...

And to all the mothers who did, I hope you had gorgeous days. But I had the best one. Because I spent it with my little girl, utterly grateful and privileged to be in her company. I spent the day thinking of how close we came to not having her at all and how phenomenally lucky I am that she is in the world. I spent the day stroking her fat little legs and kissing her funny feet and rubbing my cheek on her fuzzy head and saying, "thank you," to the universe that she is mine.

That's Mothers' Day for me. Because having a child is not a burden, it is not a trial, it is the biggest privilege you can ever be given. And to have one as special as Tiger?

I have no words for it. I am supremely blessed. And every Mothers' Day all I want is her, and to keep feeling this grateful.

~ Love, Miss Cackle x

Friday

That's the planley, Stanley



I've never been good at making plans. Or keeping them. Or being, in any way, organised like other grown-up people are.

I'm notorious for forgetting coffee dates, turning up late to appointments, clean wiping from memory all memory of having made any plans to meet people. I was like this Before Tiger. Now, I'm utterly hopeless.

I'm the queen of the "I'll deal with it tomorrow". It's not a procrastination thing, not really. I'm actually really good at knuckling down and working hard. I never miss a deadline, never turn in work I'm unhappy with. But when it comes to making plans for the future, I'm always a bit ... overconfident. I think, "It's in a week. I'll have myself together by then. I'll be on top of things. I'll deal with it then."

And then I forget about it. Usually until a reminder on my phone goes off if I remembered to set one. At which point I am usually not on top of things. Or, more often, when I get a call asking where I am. Which is usually not where I'm meant to be and not close.

Tiger and I live a fairly "in the moment" existence. Today, on a whim, I took us to crunch in leaves in the park, and we stayed there for an hour. On other days we might go tot he museum or the Seaport or to see the monkeys, or for long walks, or we just lie on the lounge room floor, playing with blocks for hours. And Tiger has this special magic power where minutes turn into hours and, before you know it, a day is gone. Little things seems immense and exciting to her, and they become so for me too. I can spend what feels like hours with her, staring at birds or the clouds, or building block towers and knocking them down again. This is my life now, and I love it. Apart from the couple of hours a day I spend before she wakes, writing and editing, I'm at the mercy of a Little Person, and I love it.

But all of this means plans are not my friend. Weekends are an exception because having Daddy Bear there makes me kick myself into gear and do all the things I meant to do during the week. But otherwise ...

All of this is a big, long-winded way of saying "sorry". I'm sorry to anyone I said I'd catch up with and didn't. Sorry for being late. Sorry for being distracted. I'll get the hang of this "being grown up" thing one day. I'll stop being so utterly enthralled by my little girl that I lose whole days.

I'll get there. That's the plan, anyway.

 ~ Love, Miss Cackle x

Wednesday

Little Lion Man



For Leo

In your mother's arms,
You are a lion,
with courage a badge on your
small, strong shoulder.
And they encircle you,
your pride,
growing in numbers as they learn
of your mastery.
You command small diggers,
You have learned new languages.
"No," you say, with authority.
You steer your army through
wilderness where rogue
kangaroos treat you as king.
You are not tiny to them,
but a big and fearsome thing.
You are Leo.
You are awesome and mighty,
and there is no hospital room
big enough to contain the roaring
of your spirit.
You are Leo,
and there are no white coat
pale enough to fade you,
no too-bright light dazzling enough
to shade you.
In your mother's arms,
you are a lion,
one spoken of across vastness.
You are a warrior,
whose name is intoned in awed whispers.
And your mother is a lioness behind you.
In her arms you are safe,
but do not forget,
even as she rocks you to contented sleep,
you hold within you the strength of thousands,
you hold within you a roar that will echo
for a thousand years.

Monday

Lose Yourself



Today, Tiger and I got lost.

Not deliberately. Not in a sort of Zen "losing oneself in order to find oneself" sort of mumbo jumbo.

We got actually, terribly, horribly, no-good-ly lost. In Launceston. Yes, Launcestonians, I can hear you all snorting with derision into your cups of Earl Grey (or Darjeeling or Orange Pekoe. I don't know why I picked Earl Grey. Maybe just because I don't like it, so I think all people who snort with derision must drink it). I mean, how can you get lost in Launceston? It's approximately as big as the backyards of people who live in the richer suburbs of Sydney. It's miniscule. It barely deserves the title of city. Really, it's a one-horse town with delusions of grandeur.

And, indeed, after living here for a total of six years (with a spell in Hobart in between stays), I didn't think it was possible. I thought I knew this town like the back of my hand.

Nope. Got lost. Even with the help of Google Maps. Google Maps can eat my bonnet. It has no idea what it's on about.

We were looking for a foodstore, which apparently has one of the best gluten free ranges in Launceston. 

It may well do. After forty five minutes of looking for it, as opposed to the twelve Google Useless Mapspants said it would take, traversing some of the highest hills in Australia, I did not care one jot for gluten free sections. I just wanted to go to bed.

But the thing is, Tiger loved it. Tiger had a grand old time, walking up New Streets and seeing New Things. And, on the way back (where there were fewer hills or, at least, ones that went down, not up), I started to enjoy it too. The part of Launceston we were in was actually very pretty, full of old houses and sweet gardens and parks. 

It was, I decided, an Adventure. And as Tiger squealed and exclaimed, I found myself having fun being lost. Or at least not quite found yet.

So it was sort of Zen, in its own way, in the end. And maybe symbolic. In my own life, I'm trying to take a path less travelled by. Maybe today I took the first steps. I got lost and I let myself enjoy the newness of being lost; the wonder of it all.

Tiger does that to you. She makes you believe in magic. And possibility. And hope.

It's a shame she doesn't come with built-in Google Maps.

~ Love, Miss Cackle x

Saturday

Hold your little ones close



It's all too easy to get bogged down in the little things - in the petty minutiae of life.

It's all too easy to focus on the annoying, frustrating things. The stresses and the worries. The not-enoughs and the too-muches.

It's too easy to think life is hard and the days are long and the rewards are too few. 

But the days aren't too long. Life, it seems, is far, far too short. And the ones we hold dear are only with us for the blink of an eye.

Parenthood has its trials and its challenges. But, in the end, it's an utter privilege. To love and be loved by a precious, precious little human being - new to the world and besotted with its wonders. This is the most marvellous gift we could ever be given. Not money. Not possessions. Not achievements. To love someone like this ... it's what matters. Love is what matters.

And it's easy to forget that, in this busy world, as you run from this place to that, wishing life could just be easier. 

And then something happens - something horrible - that makes you remember just how lucky you are.

That something horrible happened today. Not to me, but to someone I've known for a long time. Someone I respect. Someone who has gone through the most unimaginable horrors and is the most courageous person I know for enduring them.

And because of that, I am counting my blessings, not my curses. I am holding my own little one close and telling her how much I love her again and again. 

Every day I am grateful for Tiger. Today more so than ever.

Hold your little ones close, people. Hold everyone you love close. Because life is very, very short and it is those moments you have with the people you love that are the abiding things.They are the meaning of us.

~ Love, Miss Cackle x


Thursday

Watch your tongue!



Tiger has discovered her tongue.

Or, more specifically, she has discovered how to stick it out. 

The first time she did it, I called HB in a panic, sure she was having some sort of anaphylaxis and her tongue was too big to fit in her mouth. We decided to "keep an eye on her", just in case. After an hour or so, we determined she wasn't having an allergic reaction.

She just liked sticking her tongue out.

Since then, the tongue business has become a "thing", like her constant waving and smacking of lips together to make a kissing noise (cute when she does it to us, a bit disconcerting when she does it to the scary looking biker dude in the alleyway behind the Birchalls car park). It's just one of the ever-growing little bag of tricks she is developing.

And I know, I KNOW it is "rude to stick your tongue out", but by golly she looks cute when she does it, and I can't help being a teensy bit proud at how quickly she worked out that I was doing the same thing she was doing, when I stuck my tongue back out. And so now we stick our tongues out at each other.

And I swear I will stop when she's, I don't know, whatever age you're supposed to start being a strict disciplinarian. But for now - just as I hold yelling competitions and laugh at her pop-offs and when she says "bum" - I'm going to keep doing it. Because I may be thirty-one, but I still laugh at pop-offs. I still take great pleasure at poking my tongue out behind the backs of nasty people. I still, on occasion, pick my nose.

And I turned out okay. Kindness is vastly underrated. I think, sometimes, "politeness" is overrated. If the alternative is fun.

And Tigesy and I? By golly we have fun. And it's lovely.

~ Love, Miss Cackle x

Tuesday

Strange Days Indeed*



Mama never told me there'd be days like this.

Some days are easy. Some days are zen-like, calm, unassuming, floaty, sunshiney, Xavier Rudd song kinda days, where's everything goes smoothly and according to a plan, if you have one, or blissful, carefree, no-plan, if that's the way you roll.

Other days are like today.

Other days are new strollers that don't want to work and bus drivers who berate you because the new stroller won't work and other mothers who tell you you shouldn't be using a stroller at all and others who chastise you for not getting one sooner.

Other days are a pounding headache and a sad little teethy child and a blown lounge room light globe and a whining cat and washing left too long on the line so it goes damp again and a lost favourite teethy toy and a spilled drink and a stubbed toe and a STROLLER THAT WON'T FIT IN THE FRONT DOOR.

Strange days indeed.

But, at the end of it all, there is Tiger, and there is Bear and there is a Xavier Rudd CD on the CD player, and she smiles and giggles and he hugs me and Xavier is ... well, how can you be stressed while listening to Tiger?

And besides, we are only specks in an enormous universe, and our problems are dust and ash and tomorrow is a new day.

~ Love, Miss Cackle x

* Most peculiar, mama.

Sunday

Cafe Culture, Tiger Style



Today, Tiger ate a sammitch.

"No big deal!" I hear you cry! "For Tiger hath eaten many a sammitch hitherto, and during, her Little Existence!" (And no, I don't know why you are all speaking in pseudo-Shakespearen dialects. But this is my blog. And so I decree it so).

This sammitch was different, though. This sammitch was not a prepared-by-Mummy homemade job.

OH NO!

This sammitch was a prepared-by-some-other-sammitch-making-person CAFE SAMMITCH!

YES! TIGER DID EAT OF HER LITTLE SELF A CAFE SAMMITCH! 

This is a FIRST and also a VERY BIG DEAL. 

Of course, it is not the first time Tiger and I have cafe-ed together. Tiger is a veritable connoisseur of cafe culture in Launceston. But this is the first time Tiger has actually eaten a little meal prepared in the cafe. It is the first time she has eaten anything not made by Mummy.

She is now, officially, a Lady Who Lunches.

And, can I say, if you are ever going through Campbell Town (Tasmania), do go to Burger Me. The service was awesome, the food lovely and inexpensive and they had plenty of gluten-free options for me, and were happy to make a Small Person meal of a cheese sandwich for Tiger. 

All in all, it was a super lovely day for the Little Family. We caught up with Grandma V (and Tiger was presented with her very first hand-knitted scarf, along with many precious Grandma cuddles), saw ducks, and went to not one but two Big Person eateries (the other was The Red Bridge Cafe), which thrilled Tiger with its many mirrors, fans and other Little People to look at. 

It's wonderful being able to have these little trips with Tiger now. She is no longer a baby, but is a Big Girl. Next thing we know, she'll be ordering paella and Wagyu beef and pork belly and duck confit, and remarking on the smooth mouth feel of her creme brulee.

Or she'll be happy just going to a nice cafe that does awesome toasted sammitches. Whatever. Tiger goes her own way.

And it's lovely.

~ Love, Miss Cackle x

Friday

The moment my heart exploded.



Today, Tiger and I were going on a Very Ordinary walk in our Very ordinary city.

As if our wont (or, at least, it WAS - read on *sob*), Tiger was travelling in her Baby Bjorn on my tummy. We've walked together like this ever since Tiny Tiger was big enough to fit in this most wonderfully ergonomic of baby transportation devices (thank you again, a million times, to Auntie N for gifting it to us - you've no idea how valued it has been).

We love the Baby Bjorn because we can cuddle as we walk, and whisper to each other, and I can hold Tiger's tiny hands and she can see the world from an Even Bigger Person's view.

And, up until today, it has been the perfect way for us to move.

But today, something bad happened. Today, as we were on our Very Ordinary walk, crossing a busy street in the middle of the Launceston CBD, when we were hit with quite some force from behind. A woman was racing up the hill, dragging behind her a shopping trolley. The trolley bashed into my legs and I hurtled forward, my feet becoming tangled in the trolley.

I can only thank all the powers of good in the universe that I managed - with some difficulty - to stay upright.

The woman kept running up the hill.

The Tiger Mother within me (and a hefty shot of adrenaline), caused me to scream after her, "You could have killed my baby"!

I then promptly burst into tears.

And it may not be true. Tiger might not have died if I'd fallen forwards with force, but she would have been horribly injured. And the thought of what might have happened if a car had whizzed around that corner, not seeing us sprawled on the road ...

My heart exploded at the thought of it.

And tomorrow, sadly, we are off to buy a stroller. 

~ Love, Miss Cackle x

Wednesday

That awkward moment when ...



Today, I had my first cringey moment as a mummy.

Don't get me wrong. I know I will have many more in the future and I KNOW I will have many worse. But today was my first. And for that it deserves to be recorded.

Oh and also, it involves monkeys.

So for those of you who don't know, there are monkeys in City Park in Launceston. Japanese Macaques, to be precise. Yes, the ones with the red bottoms. 

I grew up longing for and counting down days until trips to Launceston, to see my Auntie Shirley. And to see the monkeys (oh, and to have hot chips at Deloraine. For some reason this was a Very Big Deal). Auntie Shirley never got to meet Tiger (sadly. She would have loved her), but I couldn't wait to show Tiges the monkeys.

Today was not her first meeting with the Macaques. It's something we do on a semi-regular basis. but today was not meant to be a monkey day. Today's trip to the park was a spontaneous let's-get-off-at-this-stop-today whim, and had more to do with my sudden desire to take Tiger down a slide for the first time than doing the monkey thing (why does that sound wrong? Oh, that's right. Read on ...). 

And, as an aside, Tiges went down a slide for the first time today. After a little scare when I didn't think we'd make it down the slide at all (Tiger grabbed the rails at the top of the slide and jammed her little feet up against them too, and shook her head, determined she was NOT GOING DOWN THAT THING), we made it and she LOVED it - a surprise to her little self and a joy for me!

But back to the monkeys. And the awkwardness.

So we decided, as we were in the park already, we may as well say G'day to our monkey mates on the way out. It was quite busy at the monkey enclosure today, being school holidays and the day before a public holiday. So there were kids milling, tourists photographing, a group of elderly ladies oohing and aahing.

And me and Tiger.

And I - as is my wont - was narrating the whole scene to my little girl. Perhaps a touch loudly. Tiger has inherited my inability to modulate my speaking volume. It's a family curse.

"See that baby one there?" I exclaimed. "Remember we saw him last time having a drink from his mummy?"

"Look at that one!" I cried. "He's picking bugs off the other monkey there! What a good monkey friend to have! One who picks bugs off you!"

And THEN!

"Look at that one, Tigesy!" I roared. "He's chasing the other monkey! I wonder why he's chasing the other monkey! What could he possibly ... Oh. That's why he's chasing the other monkey. To do ... Okay, we'll talk about that when you're older."

Cue giggles from old ladies, school children and tourists alike, as I turned beetroot red and made a mental note to deal better with animal ... canoodling the next time I encountered it with Tiger.

After all, I will teach her from an early age about sexuality and procreation and the birds and the bees and the - ahem - monkeys. I want her to be informed but ...

Today wasn't the day. Not with an audience of maybe fifty sniggering onlookers.

Today was the day for beating a hasty retreat and planning to talk much more quietly the next time we're in the vicinity of any animals who may or may not experience their natural urges in our presence.

Auntie Shirley would have found it hilarious.

~ Love, Miss Cackle x

Monday

Rock on, Chrissy




Somehow, farewell doesn't seem the right word. Or Rest In Peace. She would have hated that. 

Rest In Chaos, more like. In Delight. In Noise. In Revelry. In Thrills.

In a Wild Rumpus.

Actually, no rest whatsoever would probably be more her style. No rest for the wicked, they say, and Chrissy Amphlett was wicked in the very best of ways.

As a kid, I idolised her. Her feisty attitude, her fire, her anarchy, her "I-don't-give-a-toss". I loved her stage outfits, sang along to her songs before I knew what the words meant (and with more fervour once I did).

She was a pioneer. A trailblazer. A visionary. The kind of woman I wanted to grow up to be.

I wanted to be a rock star too.

And of course, I didn't turn out anything like Chrissy Amphlett. I'm not a rock star. I'm a shy, hermit writer.

But in my head, I'm her. In my head I'm a warrior valkyrie, howling my lungs out at the night sky, dressed in fishnet stockings. 

And of course I hope Tiger finds her idols in scientists and writers and philosophers and charity workers and doctors and politicians (there are some good ones). 

But I hope just as much that she finds someone to look up to like Chrissy, who was a bit mad, a bit free, a bit boundless.

A real Wild Thing.

Don't rest in peace, Chrissy. Rock on. And I'll play Tiger a few of your songs, so you can live on in her and all the other children of women who loved you, and are secret valkyrie warriors inside their heads.

Have a fabulous time, where the wild things are.



~ Love, Miss Cackle x

Saturday

Blerkity



Right. So. The "flu-like illness" I may be struck down with "2-3 days following" my hospital visit?

Yes. That.

But oh golly gosh. This is no ordinary flu. This is, surely, a mutant master race flu sent to me from the pits of Hell to kill me slowly and quietly. I can honestly say, I feel ...

No, I can't even put into words how I feel. Because the ones I chose would almost certainly be very NSFW.

I just need to say, thank heavens to Betsy and all that is good and pure and holy that today is a weekend and Tiger can hang out with Daddy Bear while I moan and writhe and quietly melt into a pool of gloopy, pain-filled yuck.

But the worst thing of all is, while Daddy Bear looks after Tiger, I miss her, and I worry she will forget-and-or-hate me by the time I'm well again. 

Irrational yes, I do know that. But good golly I just want to be back on form so we can be Team Mummy Tiger again.

Hopefully tomorrow. If you could cross all digits for me, that would be most lovely.

~ Love, Miss Cackle (moan) x

Thursday

Tiger Magic



Thirty years ago, on my first birthday, I received a copy of a new release picture book.

The author was Mem Fox. The book was Possum Magic.

On Tiger's first Christmas, her doting Uncle R bought her a copy of the very same book. 

And today, Tiger went to her very first party - a birthday party for Possum Magic.

There is something, well, magical about that. There's something uniquely marvellous about a timeless book, as loved by mother as daughter. It is a kind of immortality, this making of books. I am privileged that it is my profession. I won't live forever, but my books are a small part of my soul that I will leave behind. Not everybody gets to have that honour.

When Mem Fox passes from this earth (hopefully not for a huge number of years - she has far too many stories inside her to flee from us any time soon), she will leave behind something miraculous. A book beloved of mothers and daughters, fathers and sons. A book whose words are intoned, learned, repeated as a kind of mantra of childhood. A book whose mentioned foods are now a sacred feast, the eating of which transports us back to the first moment we knew their thaumaturgic power. 

Today, Tiger ate a tiny piece of her very first Vegemite sandwich, a miniscule sliver of lamington.

And there it was. A brand new visible tail. Maybe not visible to anybody but Tiger, but it was there. 

Happy birthday, Possum Magic. You were important to me. You are important to Tiger. Thirty years on, it is a privilege to share you with my darling girl. It is a ribbon that connects us. When I read you to Tiger I don't feel thirty-one. I feel small and new as she is, and full of wonder. And magic.

~ Love, Miss Cackle x

Tuesday

*Those* mothers




Tiger and I often go for a walk at about the same time Ballet Pickup is happening at the ballet school down the street.

What this means, essentially, is that our fairly working class street is transformed, for half an hour or so, into what I imagine Toorak in Melbourne looks like. Except without the mansions. Or swimming pools. Or tennis courts. In fact, only the cars and children are like Toorak - enormous, shiny, mega-designer-brand four wheel drives and little sprogs named Giselle and Camilla.

Oh, and the mothers.

By golly, *those* mothers. 

Those mothers, in their uniforms of designer skinny jeans and Very Expensive riding boots and cashmere jumpers and puffy ski suit vests; their caramel-streaked hair (no doubt zhoushed by some Very Expensive colour specialist cum yogi in a temple in Tibet, while drinking Champagne From Actual Champagne and having crop circles made on their backs with little hot coconut shell thingies and their feet pedicured by ... llamas. Or something), tied back in sleek ponytails; their faces "nude" (i.e. smeared in Very Expensive Nude Makeup. Possibly made from caviar or similar).

Those mothers talking to their Little Princes and Princesses as if they were mentally-impaired guinea pigs with an aversion to voices louder than a VERY ANNOYING WHISPER.

Those mothers nearly running over me and Tiger in their STUPIDLY BIG CARS because, evidently, no child is important apart from THEIR child.

Those mothers telling those OTHER mothers about the giftedness / perfectness / robotness of their PERFECT ANDROID CHILDREN who, presumably, never throw tantrums, wee in the bath, pull their siblings' hair, think murderous thoughts about their mothers ...

Those mothers. By golly. Those mothers.

I am so flipping glad I am not one of them. I am so flipping glad Tiger is not an android child. When I look into our shared future, I see no big four wheel drive monstrosities, no puffy vests, no designer llama pedicures ...

I see a tiny house somewhere rural, with goats and chickens. I see martial arts lessons, so Tiger can be a superhero kicking serious baddie bum. I see not giving two actual hoots whether Tiger is more advanced in phonetics or calisthenics than Tarquin or Persephone. I see fun. And not Structured Play kind of fun. Messy, muddy, chaotic kind of fun.

The kind of fun *those* mothers could never have. Because it might ruin the cashmere.

And yes it might sound like I'm being smug or patronising, but I don't care. One of *those* mothers nearly squished me and my baby today in their stupid car. Another one refused to move her conversation out of the middle of the footpath, so Tiger and I didn't have to walk on to the road. Another one whisper-yelled at her poor little Princess, "Grace, remember, we don't skip in public. We walk. Don't we?"

Yes. Actually.

I'm sorry if it sounds like I'm being unkind about *those* mothers. 

Actually, I'm not. Because they don't give two hoots about me. And that suits me just fine.

Because I don't want to be them. I like my life better. 

It's messy and it's imperfect and it's flawed and it's LOVELY.

~ Love, Miss Cackle x

Sunday

The Tiger Phenomenon



I've noticed a curious phenomenon occurring on the streets of Launceston.

There seem to be more smiles than usual, directed at the general vicinity of me and Tiger.

Actually, that is an outright lie. The smiles are not directed at me at all. They are focussed wholly on my gorgeous girl. 

Tiger, it seems, makes people smile.

And I hear them whispering, too: "She is so cute", "Look at those big eyes", "What a gorgeous baby".

And None of it - the cuteness, the gorgeousness - should matter a jot. I always swore I'd love Tiger to the moon and back even if she looked like the wrong end of a Sharpei dog. And of course I would have. But I do love that just the sight of her brings joy to the day of a complete stranger. And I know that it's not just Tiger's appearance that causes that jubilation: It's the feisty curiosity in her sparkling blue eyes, it's the cheekiness of her grin, it's her soul that's shining through that makes people chuckle at the sight of her.

She has a breathtakingly beautiful soul, my baby girl. And this city is a brighter place for catching sight of it.

~ Love, Miss Cackle x

Friday

And amid all the chaos ...



The past week has been a bit of a whirlwind. 

A newly VERY MOBILE Tiger, coupled with a hectic social calendar (she is SUCH  a little social butterfly ... tiger ... thing, my girl!), a couple of handyman visits and a flu jab ...

Just as an aside: Flu jab.

Oh my golly gosh, my girl really is a Valkyrie warrior. I was so worried she'd be Very Upset by her flu needle, what with her being Older and More Aware Of Pointy Things and associated Hurty-ness and all. But NARY A WHIMPER. Tiger just looked at her leg, went "oh" and went back to trying to eat her own foot. Courage, thy name is Tiger.

Anyway, back to what I was saying: all of THIS stuff made it one of the most tornado-like, crazy-busy, life-on-fast-forward weeks in Tiger's Little Life.

We both had barely time to catch our breaths. 

But this afternoon, after a truly gorgeous day (we saw Lovely Miss S! Tiger was Very Excited about this!), we retired to our bedroom and Tiger fell asleep in my arms. In the darkness, and the rare quiet, I took her tiny hand in mine and I held it for the hour during which she slept, snuffling in my arms.

And the tornado subsided. The world disappeared, and we made our own world, of Tiger and Mummy. I listened to her breathing. I held her, and everything was utterly, infinitely perfect. While she slept I softly, secretly, kissed her fuzzy head and I knew, as always but more intensely in that moment, that I would never feel anything like this. It's not love. That word feel woefully inadequate for what I feel for her. It's something for which there are no words.

That dark hour, that holding-of-hands. That there is the meaning of life. It is the thing we spend our lives searching for, struggling to name. It is the thing that fills the hole in our soul.

~ Love, Miss Cackle x

Wednesday

And another Oh Golly!



Tiger has made another Little Wisdom Decision.

She has decided that, as she is now a Very Big Girl, she does not want Mummy to feed her ANY of her meals. In FACT, Tiger will ONLY eat her foods if Tiger is feeding the food to HER LITTLE SELF!

No more mashing. No more purees. No more spooning foods into little mouth. Tiger is piloting this ship now. 

So. Finger foods, it is.

So tonight Tiger had for dinner a bucket of chicken and some chips from KFC.

Or not.

Actually, we offered her some peeled and seeded tomato, cheese stick, carrot sticks and pasta.

Tiger ate the cheese sticks.

She mushed everything up. Then, she actually picked through all of the foods and extracted the pieces of cheese.

She, it seems, likes cheese. The rest? Notsomuch. She DID eat a bit of pasta, and she put a bit of carrot in her mouth before spitting it out, so we have hope.

Tomorrow, I think I might offer her less choice. I think that was my fatal mistake. Have I learned nothing from being Gen Y? Too much choice is the DEVIL. It messes us up and means we're still living with our parents at age forty, crying because we can't decide between different brands of squeezy hand soap.

Tomorrow, Tiger will have cheese stick and carrots and she will sit there until she finishes and ...

Oh my golly gosh I really am a parent now, aren't I?

And, actually, I'm loving it. When we were trying our guts out to bring Tiny Tiger into this world, I told God or The Great Spirit or The Stars or The Master or whoever was listening that, if she just arrived in my arms alive and healthy, I'd never moan about pooish nappies or teething grizzles OR PICKY EATING.

I'm not moaning. I'm loving every second of this, just as I love every other Little Life Stage Tiger goes through.

Picky eating? Not crap at all. In fact, it's just lovely*

~ Love, Miss Cackle x

* But I hope tomorrow she eats her carrot.

Monday

Super Tiger



So. Not content with the little achievement of, you know, LEARNING HOW TO WALK AND ALL, Tiger has also, in the past two days, decided to (in no particular order):
  • Crawl. Properly. Like, not the peculiar (but endearing) caterpillar crawl she's been doing for the past three or four months.
  • Climb over things. Mostly Mummy. Nothing is an obstacle any more to Tiger getting what she wants. Especially Mummy.
  • Eat a Cheese stick. Admittedly, Mummy did play a part in this particular skill, but still, Tiger decided all by her Little Self that she was going to eat it and not throw it on the floor (which was the fate of Mummy's poor steamed broccoli. Sob).
  • Self-settle in her cot at night time. Go girl!
  • Say "Dada"! Yes, finally, Tiger has got the "Dad" thing down pat. "Dada" is very relieved and happy.
Mummy is exhausted. As I mentioned, ALL of these GIANT CHANGES has occurred in the space of forty eight hours. I have whiplash! It's as though Tiger saves up all her AWESOME SUPERPOWERS and reveals them all at once, for maximum impact.

I swear tomorrow she will reveal she can fly.

In the meantime, I am adoring this crazy, chaotic new stage in Tiger's life. She is just brilliant. 

Utterly lovely *

~ Love, Miss Cackle x

* Also a bit scary. But lovely nonetheless.

Sunday

Oh My Acual Gah



So you know how I freaked out a tiny bit when Tiger started rolling ...

And how I had just the teensiest of moments when she started crawling ...

And how sitting up was kind of a big deal ...

Well now. What could have happened to make all of those momentous occurrences seem like piffly little non-events?

Oh yeah.

WALKING!

ALL OF THE WALKING AND THE PULLING OF LITTLE SELF UP ON THINGS AND OH MY ACTUAL GAH I THINK I NEED A BEX AND A GOOD LIE DOWN.

Except I'm not entirely sure what a Bex is and, plus, I have a ten month old baby who is WALKING. As if I can ever lie down again.

What a marvel she is, my little girl. At Christmas she was still only rolling sporadically. Now she is practically Usain Bolt.

And I am rendered both awestruck and impotent in her wake. Soon she'll be cooking her own dinner and driving herself to work and I will be made completely redundant.

As long as she still lets me kiss her little feet and rub my cheek on her little head I'll be happy.

In the meantime, I'm off to watch my daughter practise for her first marathon ...

Oh the scariness. 

Oh the loveliness.

~ Love, Miss Cackle x

Friday

Hair!




"Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair
Flow it, show it
Long as God can grow it
My hair"

Tigesy has never up until this point been a hirsute baby.

No. That's not true. She was born with a fine head of brunette hair. And then ...

It went AWOL.

By the time we brought her back from the hospital, we had a baby as bald as a badger would be if badgers were, in fact, bald (where on EARTH does that expression come from? Badgers are COVERED IN HAIR). 

We got used to people asking if she was a boy. Because hair equals male, obviously.

We got used to people commenting on her lack of follicles ("Do you worry that she won't grow hair ever?" Um. No. Not high on my list of priorities).

We got used to rubbing our cheeks on her little fuzzy skull. Because, while there was no actual hair there, there was fuzz. And it was GLORIOUS.

We got used, in short, to having a baldy baby.

But THEN ...

In the past two or three weeks, it hath cometh! ALL OF THE HAIR! This time a couple of weeks ago, Tiger was boiled-egg bald. Now, she has ... well, not MASSES of hair, but by golly it's a huge improvement on what she did have. And Mummy gets a little lump in her throat when she looks at it. Because Tiger has The Lovell Swirl, a strange, tornado-like cowlick at the back of her head, that both her mummy and her Uncle R share and detest. 

But it looks so cute on her.

And, while Cackle Mummy is mourning the loss of the cheek-rubbingly-magnificent fuzz, she is also so very proud of her little Tiger for producing this fine head of Tiger furr. 

And she can't wait for a little bit more. Because by golly she is positively ITCHING to put a bow in that stuff!

How lovely will that be?

~ Love, Miss Cackle x

Thursday

Things I Love About Tiger, #575,689



Tiger has very big feet.

I have been saying this ever since she was born. Daddy Bear refused to believe me and, while she was Very Tiny and in five-zero gro-suits that swum on her miniscule frame, the truth about her enormous plates of meat COULD be ignored, if one was determined to do so.

But I knew it. My baby was a bigfoot.

Just like her mummy.

I have always had big feet too. I squeeze into a size nine now, mostly because nine and a halfs are rare as hen's teeth, and I refuse to go into the Truly Massive territory of a sixe ten.

Tiger hasn't inherited much at all from me, appearance-wise, apart from a dimple, big eyes and a small double chin. 

And the feet.

Tiger is now wearing size zero clothes. We tried a pair of size four boots on her at Cotton On Baby. They were too small. 

She is now in socks designed for a two year old. She is ten months old.

Daddy Bear has finally had to acknowledge it: Tiger is a large-footed lady.

And by good gosh I adore those feet. Like the "strawberry" birthmark on her head, they make my little girl quirky. If it wasn't for these tiny "imperfections" (which I prefer to think of as "superpowers"), Tiger would be just too conventionally cute, with her chubby, rosy cheeks, rosebud mouth and enormous blue eyes.

Plus, her feet are something she got from me. Proof she came from me. I like that.

And also, you should see them. Her beautiful big feet are stroke-able, kissable, nuzzle-able. Not actually certain any of those are actual words, but I know this one is:

Tiger's big feet are just LOVELY.

~ Love, Miss Cackle x

Wednesday

What Tigesy Did Next ...


And then the next night ...

Tiger did NOT sleep through the night. In fact, she did not sleep very much at all. But in the morning, Cackle Mummy and Daddy Bear observed Very Red Cheeks and a surplus of drool.

So more teeth may be on their way (already??? But we only just got the last lot!!!), and this may be why we had the Worst Sleep Of All Time.

And she has slept all night once, so she CAN do it - and just knowing she's capable of it is enough. Now we know that, whatever she does is just fine. She'll have yucky nights and good nights, just like we all do. Good golly, I have just as many sleepless nights as I have restful ones, and that was true long before I had a Little Person dictating my sleep schedule.

Tiger is not a machine. She's a Very Small Human. And tonight she might sleep all night or she might wake every hour like last night. Whichever is fine. "Sleeping Through" is not the parenting "holy grail". Tiger smiles and giggles are what I aim for. In five years' time, I won't even remember these sleepless nights. 

Tonight? We'll see. Whatever Tiger does is Just Fine and Lovely.*

~ Love, Miss Cackle x

* Last night, Tiger did sleep through the night. She is still sleeping, snuffling away on her belly with her bottom in the air. I could not love my little girl any more.

Tuesday

All through the night



I don't want to speak too soon ...

Or jinx myself ...

Or jump the gun ...

Or count my chickens before they hatch ...

Or put the horse before the cart ...

Or draw a line in the sand or beg the question (sorry, those two were just for Daddy Bear) ...

BUT ...

SOMETHING has happened.

*whispers* Tiger slept through the night.

*Runs away, hides behind the couch, blocks ears and says "lalalalala" very loudly* 

Not sure why. Just feels like the thing I need to do to MAKE IT HAPPEN AGAIN ALL OF THE TIMES.

Thatisall.

Also, Gah.

Thatisall.

 ~ Love, Miss Cackle x

Monday

What Easter Means To Us

The Smallest Bilby and the Easter Tale - Nette Hilton and Bruce Whatley


The Little Family is not a religious one. We are not "conventional" in our beliefs.

We will raise Tiger to be respectful of the observations of others, to be questioning, curious and open-minded about the issue of belief. Cackle Mummy and Daddy Bear may differ on our ideas on spirituality and God, but we are united in the decision that we will tell Tiger what we believe, but encourage her to make up her own mind.

Because we are not practising Christians, we did not go to Church over the Easter weekend.

Instead, we did visited the place that's most important to us. Or, should I say the places. Because there were a few, with only one thing in common: there was family there.

Family is our Church. Family is what matters most to us. And so it was only natural that we spent this rare time away with those we adore.

We went on Easter Sunday (after a special Easter breakfast treat of chocolate custard), to stay at (code name) Scotland Place, on the coast where we grew up. We dropped our gear and then nipped out to visit Auntie I, Uncle K and LFM (Little Ford Man), who were also being visited by Poppy S and Nanna L-L. While Tiger and LFM couldn't hug like they did last time, because of Tiger's cold, it was still fun watching their fascination with each other. And Tiger got hugs and beard-pulls with Poppy S AND membership to a special Tiger club, courtesy of her proud grandfather.

After many cuddles, we returned to Scotland Place. We walked around the paddocks, Daddy Bear rowed on the dam, we shared a beautiful meal together and then we watched our version of religious programming together:

Doctor Who.

We spent the next day in happy companionship with Gran and Granda, Sammy the dog, Annie the cat, Pedro, Belle, Jedda and Benito the horses, chickens, ducks and a few crazy turbo chooks.

Then we headed back to the Ditch, where we met in the Gorge Grandma V, Uncle R and his gorgeous partner, Spunky Miss S. Brave Uncle R and SMS went on the chairlift, while the rest of us visited fairies in the Fairy Dell, and Tiger had her very first go on a swing.

It was emotional saying goodbye (Tiger cried when Uncle R had to leave), but the beauty of family is that it is a kind of faith. Always there, always strong, always a place to call home and a comfort in the darkest times. 

Tiger has the best family. While she does not have a godmother and godfather, she has them all to guide her on her little path. It may not be conventional, but it will be utterly fabulous.

~ Love, Miss Cackle x

Friday

The sweetest things



Who would have ever thought that the sweetest things in life would be ...

Tiny hats with rabbit ears

Little striped scarves

Fleecy pink miniature boots

Baby-sized jeans with the cuffs rolled up

A pink duffel coat, just the right size for a Tiger

Sandwiches cut into crustless squares

Wiping a little snuffly nose

Peekaboos with towelling bibs

Tickling sweet baby feet until laughter comes

Four perfect white teeth

The feel of the softest fingers in the world, stroking your cheek

The sound of the word "Mum".

Who needs money, cars, clothes, gadgets, fancy restaurants, posh hotels, expensive food. All I want is my Tiger and all her little sweetnesses.

Nothing else is important.

Nothing else is as simply, blissfully lovely.

~ Love, Miss Cackle x

Wednesday

Flu, Goo, Poo ...



There is no actual poo in this post. It was just alliterative. 

Okay, that's a lie. There has been poo in the past few days, of course, but it's kind of paled into insignificance when compared with the other *stuff* oozing out of my Tiger.

Snot, mainly. Also, eye gunk. Soooo much eye gunk. Oh and enough slobber to flood Launceston.

Tiger has caught my flu. And is teething. All at once.

AND ...

It's not so bad, really. Crazily, bizarrely, DISTURBINGLY, Tiger seems completely nonplussed by all of the gloop and sore gums and such. She's in absolutely sky-high spirits in fact, despite the fact that a tooth actually cut through today and her little body is the snuffliest and gunkiest it's ever been.

She had a bit of a funny day yesterday, napwise, but that's about the extent of the drama.

I say this with all fingers and toes crossed, of course, but so far my little Valkyrie Warrior Superhero Rockstar is just powering on.

Meanwhile, I want to crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head and eat chocolate until my own flu dies a hopefully swift death.

I swear, this little girl is my hero. She is so courageous and happy. From now on, I'm taking my cues from her. 

Flu? Poo to you, flu. Goo? Poo to goo too! Life is awesome and beautiful and SWEET and full of laughs and sammitches and butterflies and flowers and birds and CUSTARD.

Flu! We see you! And we are not taking any notice of you. Because we are warriors. And we refuse to acknowledge anything in this life that is NOT LOVELY!

So there.

~ Love, Miss Cackle x (and Tiger the Valkyrie Warrior)