A Meaty Issue

I have been a vegetarian since I was eleven. 

I watched a documentary on abattoirs and, having been a fervent animal lover my whole young life, this was enough to turn me off animals as a food product. I now knew the reality of the sausage roll on the plate in front of me (golly it was hard giving up those sausage rolls, though - my favourite!).

As years have gone by, I have learned much more about sustainable and ethical farming and meat production, and have relaxed my formerly fundamentalist stance on vegetarianism. I occasionally eat fish and, during my pregnancy with Tiger, I ate some red meat as I felt it was necessary for her development.

And, now that she is developing outside of me, and have commenced solids, she is eating meat again.

I have no problem with this whatsoever. Just as I would not impose any of my spiritual or political beliefs on Tiger, I won't impose my food choices either. I will endeavour to feed her only organic or at the very least ethically produced meat as she grows up, and sustainably caught fish. When she is old enough to talk to me about it, I'll openly discuss it with her.

But. Here's the thing. What do I do myself? Knowing what I now know about the realities of food production, I am aware that it's probably better for me to eat kangaroo meat than soy products, the production of which can have a serious negative environmental impact, and fruit and vegetables sourced internationally are also a problematic issue.

I should eat meat. Particularly if I'm going to feed it to Tiger. I need to model behaviours for her. How do I explain that Mummy doesn't eat animals because it makes her feel bad (rather than any logical rationalisation), but she is perfectly happy for you to eat it?

I don't honestly know if I can bring myself to be a meat-eater, but I know that to be a good mother it's something I need to think long and hard about before Tiger is old enough to have a conception of what's really going on at dinner time.

I'm not asking for advice here (though if any of you have gone through a similar issue I'd love to hear your thoughts). I just want to do the best for Tiger. It's just one of many of these issues I know I'll have to consider as she grows older.

Until then, she remains, as always, lovely.

~ Love, Miss Cackle x


Sublime Happiness ... and Sneetches!


It doesn't take much to make me sublimely happy.

Last night I had one of the most beautiful moments in my entire life. And the moment did not occur in a fancy restaurant. It did not occur in an exotic location. I wasn't wearing designer clothes. I was in my pyjamas and I was sitting on the couch in my home in a regional city in Tasmania. I wasn't hanging out with celebrities or luminaries.

I was with my Tiger and her Daddy Bear.

And we weren't drinking Moet and partying with the rich and famous.

We were reading Dr Seuss.

Tiger and Daddy Bear and I curled up on the couch together and Daddy Bear and I read about Sneetches and beaches and a naughty monkey and how some had “stars upon thars” and how some didn't and Tiger giggled and cooed and loved every minute of her little family and the couch and stories and love.

She felt how much we adored her and she was utterly, serenely blissful in the comfortable cocoon of our love.

It was simple. It was beautiful. And if I could spend every night doing just exactly what I did last night – Tiger, Bear, couch, Dr Seuss – I would be ridiculously happy.

I am such a lucky girl. It was just sublimely lovely.

~ Love, Miss Cackle x


The One Thing I Need To Stop Now I'm A Mum

Last night I read a great post on iVillage UK on Ten Things You Need To Stop Now You're A Parent.

I agree with all the suggestions on the list, completely. And the only one of them I'm all good on is "Being a potty-mouthed driver". Um, but only because I don't drive.

Of course I need to stop being too proud to ask for help. I'm working on letting go of having an even vaguely tidy house and yes I need to realise I'm not going to have good hair for the next, oh, eighteen years. But then I never really had good hair to begin with.

I've already sort of drifted away from friends who "don't get" the way I'm parenting Tiger (or, in actual fact, have downright criticised the way I'm looking after her). The partying thing was easy. I got over being a social butterfly when I was about twenty, and gave in to my inner homebody.

The item on the list I most need to come to terms with is the last one. I need to stop berating myself for not being perfect. 

In fact, I need to stop with all the negative self talk. Full stop. I need to stop hating on my appearance. I need to stop telling myself I'm worthless and talentless and generally a failure at everything I attempt. I need to stop thinking that I need to stop talking because people don't want to hear what I have to say.

I need to stop hearing every criticism as "you suck at ALL OF THE THINGS".

I want Tiger to have a strong, capable, self-assured mother. Because I want her to be a strong, capable, self-assured girl. So I need to model it for her. Starting now. 

Maybe I need to start telling myself I am lovely.

Because I want Tiger to know that about herself.

~ Love, Miss Cackle x


Affleck, the Oscars and getting back up

Usually, The Oscars is a Very Big Deal for me. 

I studied acting. I love film. I REALLY Love awards ceremonies and I am a SUCKER for a good musical number.

Most years, before now, I've put a total ban on any sort of media during the day, so I can watch at night with no spoilers. It used to be pretty easy, in the days before social media, when all I had to do was avoid the radio and TV news bulletins.

Now, with Twitter and Facebook, it's near impossible to miss the winners. Luckily, this year, I knew I wouldn't be watching, so this Live Tweeting and Blogging was actually really fun to catch up with during Tiger's naps.

I did catch the very end of the ceremony, breaking my "no TV on while Tiger is awake" rule for only the second time (the first being the Grand Final).

What I saw moved me to tears. And yes, I know, I cry at Huggies ads on TV but ... Oh Golly Gosh, Ben!!!

His speech made me sob. Especially this quote: "It doesn't matter if you get knocked down in life. All that matters is that you gotta get back up."

Lately, life has knocked me down a few times with a Very Big Stick. And I like to think I've not let it beat me. I like to think I've kept on keeping on: writing, mothering, wife-ing and just, generally, living.

When Tiger is older, I do want to watch The Oscars with her. Not just because it's fun watching the pretty frocks, but because - behind all the ostentatious glitz - there is a message that resonates with me: That the arts are important, that they are worth celebrating, that it may not be rocket science or brain surgery, but a wonderful film or book or piece of artwork can elevate us from the gloom and blackness. It can save a life.

And, occasionally, there is a speech like Mr Affleck's that contains a gem of wisdom. "Just keep on getting back up" might not exactly be Plato or Socrates. It might be "Life 101", but it's a message I want Tiger to take to heart as she gets older.

I want her to be (like the best animation winner) Brave.

And I hope I can model it for her.

I hope I can keep on keeping on. I have faith I can, because my little girl needs me to. And she is lovely.

And jeepers, isn't Ben Affleck too? Oh golly gosh, the man is GORGEOUS. 

But Tiger and I won't watch The Oscars for the eye candy, obviously ... *

~ Love, Miss Cackle x

* We may watch it a little bit for the eye candy. 


Look Who's Talking!

In the past couple of days, Tiger has started doing a very curious thing ...

No longer are her "vocalisations" a gorgeous blend of squeals, shrieks, gurgles and the occasional "Hi". 

Seemingly overnight, Tiger has begun Proper Big Girl Talking! Suddenly, we are having long conversations! Tiger is saying "bub", "yeah", "hello", "hey", "yum" and even the occasional ...


Yes, it is true. The Holy Grail of early motherhood has been achieved. TIGER IS SAYING MUM!!!

There may or may not have been some coaching leading up to this point. 

A couple of days ago, Daddy Bear and I were marvelling that our Tiny Tiger was eating sandwiches.


She'll be going to her leaver's dinner and moving to Paris before we know it.


But also ... GO TIGER! You are hitting this life thing out of the park. Soon, you will be telling ME that you are lovely.

And, in the meantime, we need to start working on saying "Daddy".

~ Love, Miss Cackle x


I am not a natural mother

I do not have a maternal bone in my body.

This has always been the case. While my darling friend (and now new mum also), Auntie S, was mooning over Anne Geddes photographs in high school, I was making scrapbooks of pictures of cats, pigs, cows and rabbits. I always felt much more of an affinity with animals than humans. And I definitely felt more of a connection with animals than human babies.

I mean, what did you do with them? And why on Earth would I want to hold them? I'd drop them. I'd BREAK THEM. And then you might never invite me to your house again.

The first time in my nearly-thirty years of life that I ever held a baby was six months or so before Tiger was born, when I had a brief and ginger cuddle of The G Man, my friend Auntie J's son. I did it under duress - not because he wasn't a delightful child, but because ... see the point above: 


I didn't, of course, but then I only held him for about thirty seconds before passing him back to my much-more-capable-with-these-things Husband Bear.

I wasn't clucky at all until about, oh, a year before falling pregnant with Tiger. And even when I did decide I wanted a child, I never wanted a baby. I didn't see myself cooing down at a gurgling infant. I pictured myself watching Spice Girls DVDs with my offspring when she was twelve or thirteen.

But then, something magical happened. 

The moment I fell pregnant, I fell in love.

The moment I saw that little blue line on the white stick, I found my maternal bone. I found hundreds of them. When we nearly lost (what we then referred to as Plus One), again and again, my Mummy Instinct kicked in, big time. Gosh darn did I adore this little thing, growing inside me.

When we found out she was a she and called her "Tessa Tiger" for the first time - oh Heavens, I never felt any love as huge.

And then, when she threatened to leave us again, bloody heck did I hold on tight to her and will her to arrive.

When she first kicked inside me, and rolled, and hiccuped ... Yeah, I got it. I got the "wanting to be a mum" thing. I already was a mum. I loved the girl inside me - who now sucked her thumb and wriggled to music - more than anything. Ever.

And then she came.

Oh. My. Giddy. Aunt.

Nothing like it. Indescribable. Heart bursting.

I may not be a "natural mother", but I am her mother. And it is the loveliest thing I've ever done.

~ Love, Miss Cackle x



I never quite understood what other parents were on about when they said feeding babies was a messy business.

I mean, sure, bottle feeding can lead to little milk spills. And when we did get on to solids, there were a few dropsies until Tiger got the hang of things. But then it was pretty simple:

  1. Put pureed food in Peter Rabbit Bowl.
  2. Scoop out pureed food with Peter Rabbit spoon.
  3. Put Peter Rabbit Spoon in Tiger mouth.
  4. Repeat second and third step until food gone.

Of course, some ended up on the bib, but not all that much. Feeding Tiger Solids FTW!

But then ...

It was time for Tiger to Get Involved.

Now she is a Very Big Girl, Mummy is not the only one feeding Tiger. Tiger has started FEEDING HER LITTLE SELF

And Oh. My. Giddy. Aunt.

You would think a rusk would be a pretty mess-free food, wouldn't you? After all, it's just kind of a solid biscuit thing, right? Like, maybe there might be a crumb here and there but it's dry. It's pale. It's just a big chunk of solid. It should be a Neat and Tidy food for Tiger to feed herself ...

Yeah ... nup.

Rusk Is The Devil.

Especially as Tiger has decided the Purpose of Rusk is to Rub Rusk All Over Face.

And if Rusk wasn't bad enough, all the websites suggest you Spread Stuff On Rusk. Like cream cheese and mashed banana and All Of The Other Messy Things.


Yes, okay, other parents. I give you this one. Feeding baby is the Messiest Thing Of All Time.

But you know what? It's also fun.

Who would thunk it? Mess is actually kind of lovely.

~ Love, Miss Cackle x


Whose Baby WINS?

So. Apparently Alyssa Milano's baby was talking at four months.

And Jessica Simpson's nine-month-old can whistle.

And Beyonce's Blue Ivy is some sort of child genius prodigy thing. I can't remember which variety of genius she is, exactly. because I Actually. Do. Not. Care.

I have never felt at all competitive on Tiger's behalf. At all.

So your baby slept through the night at two months? Yay for you!

So your son was disco dancing at six months? Awesome! Good job little Bee Gee!

So your daughter could read Beowulf at one? Excellent! Can she translate it for me?

Tiger will do things in her own sweet little time. And I will periodically check with the GP to make sure that her own sweet little time fits on some sort of curve and we don't need to be worried.

Meanwhile, I will feel joy in my heart when she is fascinated by a grasshopper, or squeals with delight when she first tries creamed corn. And when she smiles as I kiss her fuzzy little head, I will feel happier than ever before. Not because she is Winning At Being A Baby, but because her happiness is more important to me than any achievements.

I will also never enter her in the Bonds Baby Search. Because I gave birth to a human being, not a doll.

And that human being is doing just fine, on her own little time frame.

In fact, she's lovely.

~ Love, Miss Cackle x


The Most Important Thing I Do With Tiger

Tiger and I do many important things together.

We have CUDDLES.


We play with GRASS.



Yesterday, we spent a full half hour WATCHING A GRASSHOPPER.

But the most important thing I do with Tiger is ...

We read BOOKS.

LOTS of books! Every day, Tiger and I read at least five or six of them. We read Tiger's favourites every day - like Alison Lester's Growl Like A Tiger and Emily Gravett's Orange Apple Pear Bear. And then we cycle through some of our other loved titles, like Possum Magic, The Children Who Loved Books (the image above is from that beautiful story) and Grandpa Green and the picture book of Bob Dylan's Forever Young (which Tiger finds HILARIOUS. No, I do not know why).

Every day, before every nap, we also read The Sweet Dreams Book. 

Daddy and I no longer need the book as we know all the words.

Some of the books make Tiger laugh. Some make her calm and pensive. All of them are very important in our relationship. Sharing my love of reading with her is the most beautiful part of our relationship. 

I hope that, when she is older, we can continue to share this passion, as I do with my parents.

But for now, it's just the most glorious part of my day, snuggling with her on the couch and telling the stories of Hush and Grandma Poss, of Hairy MacLary, of the hippo who just loves eating cake.

And of course, it is very important that Tiger is in clean clothes*, has her nappy changed and is fed good food, but I like to think that, when I read with her, I'm feeding her soul and imagination as well. And isn't that just as important.

What about you? What is the most important thing you do with your child?

PS Here is Tiger with her favourite book. Isn't she lovely? 

~ Love, Miss Cackle x

* Tiger ALMOST always has clean clothes. Except after a play in the garden or eating a banana sandwich.


On Child Care and Well Meaning Strangers

Yesterday, I was asked by a Well Meaning Stranger (WMS) when I am going to put Tiger in child care.

It's not the first time I've been asked this. It seems to be a common assumption these days that mums will return to work at some stage, often before their little ones have started school. I always have to consider my answer carefully. You never know exactly what the questioner's own circumstances might have been; whether they put their own child in care or not. I usually say "I don't plan to put Tiger in child care, but I fully support mothers who do! I'm just not qualified at any job that would cover the child care fees!"

It's part of the truth. My wages in former jobs as a bookseller and barista probably wouldn't justify the cost of putting her in care. 

Usually, people leave it at that - they take my answer as being the whole truth and they move on to asking me whether Tiger is on solids and if she's walking yet.

But yesterday, the WMS took it further. "Don't you think that's a bit selfish?" she (why is it always a "she"?), asked.

I have to admit I was a bit gobsmacked. Selfish? How was my decision to be a full-time parent a selfish one?*

"I mean, keeping her all to yourself? Preventing her from interacting with other kids?"

Now I was speechless. Floored. Because I had no answer for that one. I'd really not considered that angle before. And, I have to admit, the whole truth of why I want to parent Tiger full-time IS a selfish one. I miss her when I'm away from her even half an hour. Whole days? Unthinkable.

But am I damaging her by making that selfish decision? SHOULD she be interacting more with other kids, and developing independence away from me?

What do you think? Was the WMS right? AM I selfish?

~ Love, Miss Cackle x

* I am not in any way suggesting here that being a working mum or dad is selfish either. As I always say, you do what works best for your family. I was put in child care at a young age, my husband was not. Neither of us suffered from this. I loved day care (we were allowed to eat small packets of chips and play Alex Kidd - win!). My husband loved making honey with his mum. Both alternatives work!


We Can Make Sandwiches

Tiger has had her first sammitch.

I know, compared with the big asteroid (meteor? Comet? Conspiracy by Obama to prove global warming?) thingie that zipped past Russia the other day, the national election and the imminent arrival of my New Josh Ritter CD (squeeeeeee), this is not enormous news.

But, in our house, it is BIG. For some reason, I always had "sandwich-eating" in my head as the moment when Tiger would become a Proper Person. Not when she crawled (which she is doing, still in caterpillar style), walked (sort of, with help from Daddy and Mummy or her rocket ship), or talked ("hi", "hello", "yum", "yep" "not-mum-yet"). "Sandwich-eating" just seemed like such a Proper Person thing to do. 

A Big Person thing to do.

And she did it. Messily, with much bemusement, but she did it. A whole half of a mashed narnie sammitch.

When we went to the supermarket, later, Daddy Bear and I had Much Fun picking other sammitch ingredients for Tiger. Tomorrow, she has hummus. We'll also try avocado and cream cheese.

I am, as always, so proud of my Tiger for the cool-as-a-cucumber way she handled this next big milestone.

Gosh she's adaptable.

Gosh she's easygoing.


~ Love, Miss Cackle x


When Things Are Not Lovely

A glorious friend of mine has been diagnosed with Post Partum Depression.

I'm so utterly, utterly proud of her for seeking help. It's just another way she is The Most Awesome Mum (and also PERSON) Of All Time. She recognised a problem and she darn well got that problem sorted. Like a boss. Her gorgeous kidlets are super lucky to have her.

When I was pregnant, I never for a moment thought I'd be at risk of PPD. I just knew that, if Tiger made it into the world, I'd be so gosh-darn grateful that I'd be happy for ever and ever and ever.

But that's the thing about PPD. It's not "being sad". It's a chemical imbalance. It's an illness, as real as cancer or pneumonia or diabetes. It just happens that the illness occurs in your brain, and people - for whatever reason - feel differently about illnesses that happen in your brain, as if it wasn't just another organ that can become sick.

I never did get Post Partum Depression, but I have suffered horribly with what I call PPA - Post Partum Anxiety. I don't think I've slept properly for the past nine months. I lie awake, listening to Tiger breathe, terrified that if I let myself fall asleep she'll forget how to do it and stop. When I do sleep I have nightmares about her dying. I spend the hours when she sleeps during the day thinking up ways she could get hurt.

It's illogical. But illness doesn't follow logic.

I haven't sought help for my anxiety from a medical professional. At the moment I'm managing it myself. But I know if it got any worse - if it got to the point where it was endangering Tiger - I'd be there in a flash. Because that's what strong women do. They seek help.

Which is why I admire my friend so much. She's a brave, beautiful woman, an incredible mum, an inspiration.

She's phenomenally lovely.

~ Love, Miss Cackle x


We're Just Doin' Our Own Thing now ...

... and that's okay!

Cosmo Jarvis' song "My Own Thing" is a personal favourite of mine and Tiger's right now, and not just because of its jaunty, happy-making melody. 

Tiger and I like the message. 

Because the thing is, for the past nine months (yes, my baby is NINE MONTHS OLD. OH GOLLY), we HAVE been doing our own thing. And that's okay.

We've muddled along. We've found stuff that works. And yeah, it might not be exactly what the parenting books and websites and so-called "experts" tell us to do. It might not be the "right" way, the "correct" way (or even, oftentimes, the "easy" way), but heck, it's turned out okay.

My girl is happy as all-get-out. She has a (knock on wood) cast iron constitution. She is determined and feisty and wicked and loving and sweet ...

And yet we still have people admonish us in the supermarket for buying formula. We still have other mothers tut-tutting about the evils of bottle-feeding and how Tiger MUST be suffering because I didn't have that crucial "breastfeeding bond" with her in the first few hours (never mind the fact that, due to Tiger's prematurity, I wasn't allowed to even touch her for the first few days, let alone breastfeed her). We still have "well-meaning" strangers asking if Tiger shouldn't be in a pram, rather than a sling.

We're still at the mercy of judgment from "medical professionals" because Tiger doesn't self-settle.

"Mummy wars". They suck. But you know what? Tiger doesn't know what a Mummy War is. She knows she is fed when she's hungry, and played with and read to and she gets enough sleep and LOTS of cuddles. She doesn't know she's suffering because I didn't persevere with breastfeeding her when it exacerbated her reflux and caused her to scream for hours. She doesn't know she's hard-done by.

She thinks we're doing just fine.

Because we're just doing our own thing. And it's more than okay.

In fact, it's bloody lovely.

~ Love, Miss Cackle x


Valentine's Day, Tiger Style

I have never been into Valentine's Day. 

When you're single, Valentine's Day seems to taunt you, rubbing your nose in the love that you DO NOT HAVE.

When you are coupley, V Day is all about PRESSURE. Pressure to do the love thing "right". And, as we all know, there aint no right way to do love. And if there was, it certainly wouldn't involve a bunch of supermarket flowers and a Whitmans Sampler.

When you have a baby, though, the day takes on a new meaning. Because, when you have a child, love itself takes on a new meaning. For the first time, this year, I loved Valentine's Day, because I know now I have the best kind of love there is.

And sure, the day was full of poo incidents, grass-from-fist extractions, gummy eyes, messy rusk cleanups and endless readings of Tiger's current favourite Emily Gravett book (actually, we both really enjoy that last one), but it was by far the best Valentine's Day I've spent.

I'm in love with my girl. And it's lovely.

~ Love, Miss Cackle x



According to our Parenting Book of Shadows, at nine months, Tiger will "begin to get annoyed about stuff".

I'm paraphrasing here. The PBoS puts it much more ... delicately. But the meaning is the same. And, oh boy, am I beginning to see it! Especially when it comes to Things Tiger is Holding.

Me: Tiger, we might just take SantaMouse (i.e. Favourite Toy. Possibly not a mouse. Possibly an elephant. We have never been entirely sure.) so we can have out breakky.
Tiger: Oh. I do not THINK so, Mummy. MY SANTAMOUSE.

Me: Tiger, can I just have the spoon so I can feed you your dinner?
Tiger: Are you actually kidding me? MY SPOON.

Me: Tiger, I don't think you should be eating that clump of grass.
Tiger: Oh yeah? Watch me. MY ACTUAL GRASS.

Tiger is just starting to get little ideas of what is HERS and what she WANTS and what she will be MIGHTILY ANNOYED IF YOU TRY TO STEAL FROM HER. Thankfully, she also has quite a short attention span and is easily distracted. So MY SHOE, WHICH I WILL PUT IN MY MOUTH can quite easily be changed to MY TEETHY NECKLACE, WHICH IS QUITE SAFE TO PUT IN MY MOUTH.

It's brilliant, watching her begin to assert her independence and individuality and - oh gosh - AUTHORITY. Whoda ever thunk we'd get this far.

MY baby is LOVELY!

~ Love, Miss Cackle x


The Little Things

The one thing I've learned in my thirty-and-a-half years on this planet is that happiness does not lie in the Big Things. You don't achieve it by winning the lottery, or becoming famous, or getting That Job or That Man. You definitely don't find it in a shiny new iPad or flatscreen TV.

The joy of life is in the little things.

It is in watching peach juice dribble down Tiger's chin, from a peach we picked off a tree in our garden only moments before.

It's in observing her glee and curiosity as a bird bobs close to us as we sit on the grass.

It's in her wonder at the feel of tree bark beneath her little fingers.

It's in seeing her determination to get THAT toy, THAT book, THAT computer (whenever Mummy tries to get on it for a moment).

It's in sharing a cider with Daddy Bear, when Tiger is asleep for the day. It's in watching the tenderness on his face as he holds her while she falls asleep.

It is in watching Tiger bobbing up and down on her Granda's lap, pulling her Poppy's beard, riding horses with Gran or sharing a story with Grandma.

It's in seeing her meet her cousin for the first time, watching him stroke her face and her poke him in the ear.

It is seeing her form a tentative friendship with our cat.

It is her gazing up into her Great-Nan's blue eyes.

It's in her squeals of happiness and trembles of excitement at starting a new day.

Little things. Tiny happinesses. Moments that won't make the front page of the paper, or the television news or Wikipedia.

But they're the stuff of life. They are the moments that make up our memories and our souls.

Tiny things equal big happinesses. 

The best thing of all, of course, is her smile, so big it seems sometimes that her little face can't contain it. The fact that, often, it's something I do that makes that glorious smile emerge?

That's the biggest happiness of all.

~ Love, Miss Cackle x


My Kitchen Actually Does Not Rule

So yesterday I failed again at being a "proper mum". 

So far, I have failed at the following: sewing, singing nursery rhymes, cleaning and Knowing Stuff.

Yesterday, I added to my growing list, cooking.

Tiger is a little gourmand - something she inherits from her dad, not me. She enthusiastically noms in to every new food experience we offer her. Until yesterday, when I decided to Attempt The Cooking.

Tiger quite likes the Rafferty's Garden brand of Big Girl Food (no, this is not a "sponsored post". We just like that brand. Is it wrong to mention them? I think, as this is not the ABC but a Blog Of Little Brain, it's probably okay), and one of her favourite flavours is vegetable risotto.

So, in a fit of "I-can-do-that-despite-a-lifetime's-evidence-to-the-contrary", I thought, "Risotto? How hard can it be? It's just rice and some other bits and pieces, right?"

Right! Well, for everyone except me.

For me, risotto is hard. For me, risotto is two spectacularly failed attempts and one ...

Well, let's just say I didn't make Tiger eat it. Because I ate it. And it was traumatic. My risotto did not look like the Rafferty's Garden risotto. Neither did it look like the picture on the food blog from which I pilfered the recipe.

It looked kind of like papier mache made from newspaper - grey, watery and sludgey. 

I fed Tiger a peach instead.

I won't give up, though. I will continue on my quest to be a Proper Mum. Daddy Bear is going to give me a lesson in risotto. And in the meantime I'm going to trawl the internets for Recipes for Dummies.

I will, one day, knock this Mum thing out of the park.

Until that day comes I am going to continue watching My Kitchen Rules and hoping that they (the not-nice people at any rate), make some Very Bad Food, and Manu and Pete are Very Disappointed. Because then I'll know it's not just me.

And tomorrow, I will feed Tiger more peaches. And bananas and custard. Because even I can't muck those up ...


Thankfully, despite mum Un-Mumness, Tiger continues to be lovely. 

~ Love, Miss Cackle x


I have been banished.

I am sitting outside, with my computer, while Daddy Bear hugs Tiger to sleep.

I am meant to be "working" but I can't concentrate. I miss her. I miss her soft, curling limbs, so trusting and safe in my arms. I miss her smell, that smell that is so uniquely "Tiger". I miss her little snuffling breaths.

I miss the way she shifts as she moves in and out of sleep cycles, and wondering what she's dreaming of.

I miss the Tiger-and-Mummyness that we share.

When - WHEN - will I see these moments away from Tiger as a reprieve? When will I value "me-time", the way everyone says I should? When will I not feel like I'm breaking when she's away from me for even a moment?

I'm supposed to want to "get away", aren't I? I'm supposed to yearn for the life I had before motherhood. I'm supposed to want to shut myself in the bathroom alone for an eternity.

I don't. I want her.

And yes, before you say it, when she's older I will give her freedom and independence and autonomy - because I know how important it is. I won't stifle her, because I know how damaging that is. And, besides, I want to see her grow into herself, assert herself, become a new, more grown-up Tiger. I will do all that, for her ...

But I will still miss the smell of Tiger, whenever I'm away from her. I still won't feel complete until we are together.

Because there has never been anything in my life so wonderfully lovely.

I'll return now to my "work", and to wishing she'd wake up darned soon so I can have a cuddle!

~ Love, Miss Cackle x



Yesterday, a very lovely thing happened.

It more than made up for the unloveliness of the previous couple of days. It was, in fact, so lovely it brought a tear to my eye.

Tiger met Cousin B, otherwise known in the family as Little Ford Man. 

It's a meeting that was long overdue, as LFM was born five months ago (golly how time flies!!!). 

The occasion was his mum's thirty-first birthday barbecue. On this same date a year before, Brynner's existence in his mummy's belly had been announced, and Tiger was just starting to make her presence known by rounding out her Cackle Mummy's belly. It was a day of much joy as we realised not one but two precious little people were going to join the family.

A year later, Tiger is big and bonny and bouncy (and ohmigosh NOISY!!!), and LFM ... 

Oh heavens he is precious! Dressed like James Bond in a supercute little "tuxedo" tee shirt, his little elf ears adorably pointy and his big hazel eyes so calm and placid, he was quietly curious about his cousin, whereas Tiger was OH GOLLY GOSH EXCITED!!!

As LFM's Mummy and I brought our two tiny ones together, the moment became magical. LFM and Tiger explored each other's faces and limbs with their hands (Tiger, of course, being Tiger, poked Brynner in the eye and the ear. Brynner was much more gentlemanly). They made little coos at each other and regarded each other with such reverence and curiosity, as if they knew how important the other one was. I knew then they would be lifelong friends.

I am thoroughly in love with LFM, and I know Tiger is equally smitten. 

I can't wait to see them grow up together. Tiger might teach LFM about dinosaurs and rocketships. LFM will return the favour, educating Tiger in automobiles and ferrets (his parents breed the gorgeous animals). 

Today, I am full of joy. LFM is superb. My Tiger is, as always, lovely.

Stuff the people who do unlovely things. When there are Little Ford Men and Tigers in the world, who gives a fig about anything else?

~ Love, Miss Cackle x


A Very Not Lovely Thing happened

You may have noticed there was no new blog yesterday.

That is because a Very Not Lovely Thing happened to me and Tiger.

It happened while Tiger was having her nap. It was a windy day in Ditch Town and so, when I heard a bang coming from the back of the Candy Pink house, I thought something had blown over on the back porch, or that Mephy Danger Gordon had knocked something sideways during one of his jumpy adventures.

I wasn't scared. Until I heard footsteps coming up the hallway.

Yep. Somebody was in our house. And, having only just emailed Husband Bear and not having heard the car in the driveway, I knew it wasn't him.

And then I heard the not-Husband-Bear banging around in the lounge room. And I knew: This person was not a Nice person. This person was a Home-Invading, Robber-type person.

So, of course, I freaked. Inwardly and quietly, obviously, so as not to alert the Not Nice Person to my presence. And then I very quietly called HB. Who freaked. And called the police. And, somewhere in amongst this freaking-and-calling, Tiger woke up and started making her traditional Squeals Of Waking Happiness.

Which, obviously, the Not Nice Person heard (she is LOOOUUUDDD). 

And, thankfully, he freaked. And scarpered.

Long story short, the police then arrived, we discovered the NNP had emptied my wallet of cash and taken my house keys but nothing else. 

The police didn't find the NNP. They suspect "he" (I assume this, though, of course, I'm being horribly sexist here), was just a kid, after money or small items he could quickly pilfer, who took advantage of our seemingly-empty house and my (stupidly and unusually) back door. When he heard there actually were people in the house he freaked out at the thought of being caught and bolted.


Because you have no idea the thoughts that were running through my head as I sat, terrified, in that room.

The poem I wrote afterwards (while still in shock, so please cut me some slack), might give you some idea:

In that moment,
As we huddled,
Curled against the darkness,
All within me
Was yours.
My own blood belonged to you.
My own limbs existed only
To run with you to safety.
In that moment,
A thousand voices cried
Your name,
So loudly I thought
They would hear
They would come
They would know.
I was certain their ears would prick,
Hear my heart
Beating in time
To your dream-quickened breath.
In that moment,
I thought, "be silent, for her.
Be still, for her.
Don't let them come."
In that moment I was
An eagle with you,
Nested beneath my wing,
A tiger with you,
Tucked beneath my paw.
I would have pounced,
Would have clawed,
Would have rended flesh from bone,
To make you safe.
In that moment,
I didn't think
Of what would be done to me,
That you kept breathing, 

Kept dreaming,
Kept being.
"Hush little angel," I whispered.
"Don't say a word."

The thought of Tiger being hurt is the worst thing I can possibly imagine. We were very lucky yesterday. So, perhaps, I should say that the Thing that happened was Very Lovely Indeed.

~ Love, Miss Cackle x


Attention, Please!

 My Tiger has turned into an attention addict.

Seemingly overnight, my quiet little girl has become ... a PERFORMER!

Tiger seems to have discovered that the things she does can evoke a REACTION in Mummy and Daddy and, by golly, does she live for those reactions!

Look at me crawling! 

Look at me sitting up!

Look at me blowing raspberries!

Look at me banging my bowl on my high chair tray!



I LOVE this new Tiger. I love the utter glee she feels when Mum and Dad laugh or clap or smile at her. I love that she is coming to understand cause and effect - if I do this, this happens. I love watching the thought processes as she realises, "Ooh ... If I drop my rusk, Mum has to pick it up for me. This is FUN."

Tiger is really growing up, and she is growing into a clever, cluey, vivacious little girl who has inherited her Cackle Mummy's live of performing, along with her Daddy Bear's fierce cleverness - a lethal combination, probably, but oh golly gosh, I'm loving it. My girl is headstrong, feisty and the brightness in her eyes is addictive.

I love Tiger the Attention Seeker. She is just lovely ...

I am getting pretty darn tired of picking up rusks, though :o)

~ Love, Miss Cackle x


Easy Like Tessa Tiger ...

Today's post is less "post" and more "question".

It's a question for parents and all other people who look after Very Small Humans.

See, the thing is, being Tiger's mum, right now, is super easy. She is the most laid-back, happy, chilled, contented little sweetheart. People in shops, the doctors, randomly on the street, comment on how blissed-out she seems. And it's true. The grumpiest she gets is a bit of a growl if she drops her rusk.

But it wasn't always the case. When Tiger was younger and had reflux, her sore tummy meant that every feed left Tiger in intense pain, and it was horrible seeing her suffering. For about a month, my heart contracted with pain as I watched my gorgeous girl in terrible agony. They weren't easy times.

But for the past, oh, five or six months, parenting Tiger has been effortless. Which leads me to ask ... Is this as good as it gets? Is this three-to-nineish-months period NORMALLY the easiest time in a child's life? Will it all end the moment she hits ten months? Or will Being Tiger's Mumovich be smooth sailing until she becomes a sullen teenager who Hates Me So Bad?

So my question is this: What was the "easiest" time in parenting for you? What was the hardest? Can I expect a horrible time in a year? Or will life be simple until age nine?

I'd love to hear your stories. What were the Easiest and Most Challenging stops on the Parenting Express in your family?

Tiger would love to know, too. Just so she can sit back and smugly declare, "Yeah, I'll always be the awesomest Tiger that ever there was. At no point shall I ever be THAT CHALLENGING."

We'll see ...

But for now, goshdarnit she is lovely!

~ Love, Miss Cackle x



Something that has happened that is Kind Of A Big Deal for me.

Yesterday afternoon, I looked in the mirror. It's something I don't actually get to do all that often these days - looking after Tiger takes precedence over looking after my appearance. 

Not that I ever really spent that much time on my appearance. I was always the girl who'd chuck on some clothes, slick on some lipgloss and a bit of mascara and declare, "I'm done," hours before any of my friends put down their hair-straighteners. But, since Tiger, I'm often halfway down the street before the thought hits me, "Did I wash my face today or do I still have yesterday's mascara halfway down my cheeks?" (yep, I'm bad at cleaning my makeup off, too).

But yesterday I had to take Tiger for a checkup and I always make sure to check my appearance before I leave for anything baby-related, just so the doctor doesn't clock me as an obvious Deranged Person and call in Child Services.

So anyway, it was during this rare mirror-check, that it happened.

Or, rather, the inner voice spoke.

And, for the first time in my life, it said this:

"I like you, wonky nose. I like you, alien eyes. I like you, little double chin". 

Up  until this point, I'd always been nonplussed about my appearance. I'm not beautiful. I'm not particularly elegant or striking or even all that interesting-looking. Sometimes this fact got me down but, mostly, I just consoled myself that I'm a good person and Daddy Bear loves me, so what do I care if I'm not Scarlett Johanssen?

But, now ... maybe it's because I see pieces of me reflected in Tiger, or maybe it's just because I'm getting old, but I suddenly don't wish to look any other way. I may not be a blonde beauty but there are enough of those, anyway. I'll stick to being me, because there is only one person in the world who gets to be Tiger's mum. 

And, you know what? She loves my face. She loves stroking it, nuzzling it, staring at it. She thinks I look okay.

And now, I do too. 

And it's a lovely feeling.

~ Love, Miss Cackle x


Millions Of Peaches ... Peaches For Free!

My big girl.

I know I say ALL OF THE ACTUAL TIME how much I can't believe how quickly Tiger is growing up, but I really, really, really felt it yesterday.

Daddy Bear and Tiger emerged from a little turn about the garden, with a very precious find.

A lovely, ripe, fuzzy (in a way that reminded me, sweetly, of Tiger's funny, fuzzy little head), straight-off-the-tree peach.

And, after he took a bite himself, Daddy Bear held the gorgeous little fruit to Tiger's gorgeous little mouth.

And she opened up.

And took a big bite with her two little teeth.

And then she gummied up the bite of peach and she swallowed it.

All. By. Her. Little. Self.

Later, (after stealing a few Very Big Girl licks of a special ice cream treat in the park), Daddy Bear chopped up another peach and Tigesy FED IT TO HERSELF WITH HER OWN LITTLE HAND.

Daddy Bear and I are already planning sandwich fillings, and how Tiger might have a couple of small bites of our dinner when we go out as a family for Valentine's Day.

Because she is Big Now, so she can do that, you know. 

And, in the meantime, we have a tree positively bursting with peaches. 

Millions of them. For free. For Tigesy.

How lovely is that?

~ Love, Miss Cackle x


Housework Blues

I hate housework.

I know, I know this isn't a revelation to anybody who has seen any of my houses, or known me for any extended period of time. And I know that there probably aren't many people in this world who actually do like it, but I don't just not like it.

I actually, actively, intensely loathe it.

I hate vacuuming. I hate dusting. I hate doing washing. I hate washing up. I hate cleaning the toilets. I hate putting the bins out. I hate ironing.

Don't even get me started on changing the bedsheets.

Seriously. Don't.

I actually lie awake in my bed at night, dreading having to do all of it the next day.

And I do, actually, resent the fact that, as part of my Mum job title, I have to do it. I mean, while being a mum is never hard work, it is a full-time job. Plus, I'm meant to be a full-time writer as well. And on top of it, I have to be a cleaning fairy?

It sucks.

Or, at least, I thought it did, until  realised something. 

I realised what the alternative would be. 

The alternative to having to do housework would be having to do out-of-house-work. 

And I fully, fully, fully support parents who go off to work. After all, I do work. I'm just lucky that I get to do my work from the home. With Tiger.

Yep, I hate washing and washing up and dusting, but, when I do it while singing and chatting to Tiger, it's much less horrible.

Everything is less horrible when done with Tiger.

So yes, I am being a complainy-pants, when really I have nothing to complain about. Because vacuuming might not be lovely. But being with Tiger is. And, if that's the trade-off, I'm happy to take it.

~ Love, Miss Cackle (who still hates housework) x


I'm a Mum

I'm a mum.

Not a "domestic engineer".

Not a "home duties specialist".

Not a "house manager".

Especially not a - love you to bits, Nigella, but still - "domestic flipping goddess".

I'm a mum. I don't need to invent some fancy title for it, to make it sound more "legitimate" than it is. Because it already is legitimate! Why do I need to make up another name for what is, without question, the most important job I've ever done?

I've been a checkout chick, a bakery assistant, a "geeky cards and assorted other geeky things" seller, a systems support librarian, a land tax advisor, a school librarian, a university "liaison" librarian, a cinema projectionist, a bookseller, an author ...

NONE of those jobs is as important as what I'm doing right now.

I'm spending my days being the primary carer for an ACTUAL HUMAN BEING. An ACTUAL, HONEST TO NON-DENOMINATIONAL-DEITY PERSON.

Her life is, literally, in my hands. 

And oh golly it scares the living livingness out of me, on a daily basis. This little gorgeous person's happiness and health is up to me. That's what being a mum is. Being entirely responsible for the everything of this tiny actual person.

Oh. My. Golly. Gosh. Is there anything bigger than that?

I mean, sure, I've never worked as a brain surgeon or a rocket scientist or an army sergeant or any other job where actual lives are actually dependent on my actions. In my previous positions, the worst that could possibly happen was that a bunch of cinema-goers might have a slightly blurry movie experience, or a child might not absolutely love the book Grandma bought for their birthday. 

This is the most important thing I've ever done. For every mum and dad out there, this job is the most important job we will ever do.

Mum. Dad. Those labels don't need "legitimising", or "snazzying", or "bettering" in any way.

I am proud that my job title is "mum". And I am thankful that raising Tiger never, in any way, actually feels like a job. It feels like a gift, a privilege, an opportunity.

It also feels so very, very scary. I hope she's happy. I hope she's healthy. I hope that I do a good job of this most important job of all.

Because she deserves it.

She deserves for me to excel at this job called Mum. I hope I can.

~ Love, Miss Cackle x