Archive for April, 2008

This time last year

It is 1.20pm on April 30.

This time last year I was screaming in pain, calling for an epidural, just three and a half hours away from giving birth to my son.

Right now, I am gathering scans and referrals, just three hours away from accompanying leigh to the MS Clinic.

Count your blessings, people. You have no idea where you’ll be this time next year.

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A gift for two

Hugo mostly puts himself to sleep but he does like to be rocked before he goes down for the night. Over the past few weeks I have been thinking that once he turns one, it will be time to break that habit and let him learn to go to bed at night on his own.

Last night was the very last night before his first birthday. I was rocking him in the dark and listening to his breathing settle into a relaxed rhythm and feeling the weight of his little body in my arms. And I was thinking about how the privilege of rocking our children to sleep is such a shortlived one.

Hunter is only three and a half and already it has been years since she allowed – much less needed – me to rock her to sleep.

And I stood there in the dark enjoying that quiet moment with my boy and I decided that this does not have to end yet. The time when he won’t want to be held will be here before I know it. Until then, I have decided to be thankful for those bedtime snuggles.

So, tonight when Hugo goes to sleep, he will be one year old and in my arms. It’s my birthday gift for both of us.

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Year of Living Hugo-ly

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The Year of the Hugo

In two days my baby will turn one.

I remember when Hunter reached this age how we were all marvelling at how grown up she had become, and how she really wasn’t a baby any more at all. It’s so different with your second baby, when you have an older one in the house to remind you what being a big kid is all about. Hugo still seems so little, and very much my bubby.

He’s my cuddly teddy bear who still makes funny little sounds and falls over 20 times a day and laughs at things that no one else understands. And his mummies are still the centre of his world – for now.

The Year of the Hugo has been a pretty fabulous year, on balance. I can’t believe 12 months have zipped by. I am feeling a bit teary just thinking about it.

Leigh is completely bamboozled by my nostalgia and my frequent proclamations about the bittersweet nature of a first birthday. As far as she’s concerned, growing and learning and getting bigger are all the exact things he should be doing, and seeing him right on track is perfectly fabulous.

And it is. But I still wonder at how my teeny tiny needy baby grew so fast, or how my funny little baby who didn’t want to eat any food for months can now demolish a sandwich, or how that little creature who couldn’t make any sounds apart from crying can call out to me and squeal with delight and ask for “more more more”.

I feel like I have already forgotten so much of that first year, and it’s not even over yet. Here are some of the bits I haven’t forgotten, and hope I never will:

- The way he looked right after he was born. He was covered in blood and slime but he was so peaceful and calm. He just nestled quietly against my chest, looking around with eyes that were not-quite-focussed

- The pain of early breastfeeding. Yikes, I did not expect it to be that bad second time around!

- That first sweet little smile, after three weeks in the world.

- Our worries about his squishy little misshapen head. We worked so hard to reposition him for months and now his little noggin is just perfect.

- All his other firsts so far – first time he rolled over, first time he sat properly by himself, first time he crawled, pulled up, first words. And the more recent firsts – first steps and first efforts at climbing on the furniture (rather too successful for my liking)! Even though he’ll take two or three steps we’re still waiting for him to really start walking. If he doesn’t do it in the next two days it will have to go in the highlights list for next year!

I also remember the bone crushing tiredness of those early weeks (there’s no sleeping when the baby sleeps when it’s baby number two!) and the heart wrenching cries when he’s been sick, or jabbed or has fallen over. And I have lots of memories of his glorious baby laugh. My favourite memory is of all of us at a Hungry Jack’s restaurant for the neighbour’s birthday party. Hunter was blowing a whistle and Hugo was laughing so hard he had tears streaming down his face. Everyone in the place was laughing with him because it was just indescribably cute to see this little baby cacking himself over something so utterly un-funny.

I remember many, many sweet moments when Hunter has kissed him and told him she loves him and shared her toys and food and affection. I also remember lots of moments when Hunter has been consumed by jealousy and our family’s coping resources have been stretched dangerously thin.

It’s hard to believe so much Hugo has been crammed into one year, and it’s hard to believe that just one year ago we didn’t know this fabulous little man.

Thanks for a great year, kid!


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Another from the Hunter archive

Quote of the week last week:

“This place is so booooring”


Toys R Us.

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Tantrum champion

Hunter’s a world-class-wobbly-chucker but she managed a doozie the other day, even by her standards. I am not sure if i can do it justice in writing but I will do my best.

She’d been pretty good and leigh told her she could have a biscuit. Leigh got out the biscuit container and held it out to Hunter.

And Hunter flipped out.

“I didn’t want you to hold it there!!” she wailed, red-faced, tears springing forth.

Leigh, taken aback, brings the container down a bit, assuming it was too high for Hunter to reach.

“NOOOOOOOOOOOooo, not there! I want it HIGHER!” she cries.

Leigh lifts it higher.

“Not THAT high!” she screeches, throwing herself to the floor and heaving great sobs.

By this point Leigh and I were both laughing out loud. It was beyond ridiculous. Leigh was so sidetracked by the histrionics that she didn’t even realise that she was following along, inching the container up and down at Hunter’s whim. It was hilarious to watch her meekly moving the container up and down in ever decreasing increments to meet Madam’s wishes, before eventually realising what she was doing and withdrawing the offer of the biscuit.

We still don’t know what it was all about, but it was the best tanty we’ve seen in a while (not by much, though – the one she threw when leigh wouldn’t say “please jelliments” before entering the bathroom and the one when she went crazy at 2.45am because she didn’t like the pants I chose after she wet the bed were also great efforts).

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My biting boy

Hugo is still in the midst of his very lengthy biting phase. I am out of ideas! I’ve followed all the standard advice – keep it low key, don’t give him attention, avert disaster if I can, blah blah blah

It’s not working.

A couple of months ago he bit me on the left boob and it took forever to heal. After weeks of being unable to feed him in the cradle position (and instead having to hold him in a very awkward fashion to get him in a football hold) I finally started feeling better. About a week or so ago I was celebrating being able to just feed him without any pain.

Then a couple of days later he gave me a bite on the right side and it’s so sore that I am wincing every time I get dressed or get in the shower, let alone when I actually try to feed him. Feeding is ridiculously painful. It’s like having a badly-latching newborn again.

I saw a great description somewhere of what it’s like to breastfeed with butchered boobies. I think it might have been in the Baby Love book. Imagine you fall over and skin your knees, then three hours later you fall over and skin them again then three hours later you do it again – etc. The result is that it hurts a lot (duh).

Anyway that’s only part of the problem (albeit it a very sensitive part!). He’s also biting everything else, and Hunter’s getting in on the act too, lest she miss out on a nanosecond of attention.

I think I posted the other week that Hugo had chomped on the couch and left little toothy holes in the leather. Well, he was at it again the other day and Hunter joined in. Now we have big toothy holes in the leather, too.

Add to those all the toothy indents and bruises on our legs and chests, shoulders and bellies, and it’s all getting tiresome.

I wish I could think of some miracle approach that would break the habit – preferably before he completely amputates a nipple.

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Actual reno progress. No, really!

A miracle happened today. The assessing officer looking at our development application actually completed a site visit! But wait – there’s more! He actually told us what paperwork we will need to supply in order to get a construction certificate!

The fact is, the site inspection only happened because leigh rang and politely enquired as to the reason for our two month wait (and the only reason she rang was because I told her I have DONE my bit and am sick of chasing people around on this – but that’s a whole other story).

At any rate, it’s done. The last time I spoke to the council guy he was blathering on about us probably needing to put a waterproof membrane over the existing concrete. Well, today it was pouring (again) and the guy got to see for himself that the concrete was bone dry and thus already suitably waterproofed. I am glad it was raining when he was here because I just know he never would have believed us if we simply told him it always stayed dry.

He’s also been going on about us needing ‘structural details’ to apply for the construction certificate (the piece of paper that lets us actually start building, once the development is approved). I’ve asked several times what, exactly, he needed us to supply but he’s always talked in circles. Today we managed to pin him down and get an answer.

He needs a diagram showing in detail how the new roof will connect with the existing roof so as to keep out the rain. He needs details of the posts and beams that will hold up said roof. And he needs something to say the wall timbers will comply with the building code. We could have organised all this weeks ago if he’d just told us, but now it looks instead like we’ll be getting the development application approved first, with the construction certificate lagging behind for who knows how long.

Oh, and he also tried to tell us we’d be required to install a rainwater tank because of the size of the extension. When I pointed out that we were not actually altering the size of the house AT ALL he looked perplexed and said he’d need to get back to us.

Anyway, for now I am just happy for some progress. the rest will take how long it takes. One of the upsides to having absolutely no idea how we’ll pay for this is that I no longer feel so pressured to get things approved!


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Back to the Books

After much tail-chasing I finally have confirmation that Griffith Uni will give me credit for 15 subjects, leaving me with nine to complete. This is fine by me – I’d need to do at least eight anyway because I need a literature and composition major in order to get into the teaching course.

Really, though, they do love to make it difficult. The university has a long list of requirements for establishing an entitlement to credit. You can’t just give them a transcript. Oh no, you have to provide subject outlines that show the level of study, contact hours, method of assessment, textbooks used…

And of course my old uni does not keep that info at my home campus so a few weeks back Hunter and I made a FOUR HOUR round trip to the Richmond campus to make photocopies from the archived handbooks. It goes almost without saying that the handbooks did not include half the required information and that, indeed, that information is not archived anywhere at all.

So a couple of days ago I emailed Griffith with a list of completed subjects and an overview of my dilemma.

And yesterday someone emailed back to say that since I was only applying for elective credit, I did not, in fact, need any documentation other than the transcripts.

Gee, guys, thanks for not mentioning that anywhere on your website, the OUA website or the application for credit forms! I have not had anything better to do recently than to chase after non-existent documentation that I don’t even need!

Anyway, at least it’s sorted – almost. I still have to formally apply for credit, which I can’t do until I formally register in the program, but I am planning to do that today.

I’m still undecided on how to spread the study load. I could finish in a year if I take on a full time load, then I’d have another year (or is it 18 months) to go with the teaching degree. That would mean I’d be done when Hugo was about three and a half. Or I could stretch it out a bit and finish up when he’s five and at school.

I’m finding my current job hard-going (hard to make enough money without really killing myself and I am constantly stressed about it) so the idea of finishing sooner is appealing. On the other hand, I really need time to work so maybe a lighter study load will be better.

Decisions, decisions!

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Damn you, Aussie Home Loans

I just got off the phone with someone from our bank. He called me to follow up because he hadn’t heard back about our loan application (which is, of course, on hold till council can get its act together).

He told me that since I am now self-employed, I require two years of business financials in order to apply for a loan. The assessment will be based on the amount of income I made from my contracting work over the past two years.

It will not take into account the fact that the reason I was doing very little contracting work was because, hello! – I had another job! My contracting hours have gone up since I left the other job (duh) and I am sure my agency director would be happy to give me a letter stating that she can guarantee a minimum amount of work but Bank Dude said it won’t make any difference.

This sucks! I am making the same amount of money as I was before – maybe more!

Basically, we’re screwed. I am pretty sure we won’t be able to borrow what we need based on Leigh’s income and my contract-only income average over the past two years. We need both incomes to be realistically assessed to meet the criteria for more money.

What are we going to do now?? We’re living on top of each other. We have no room for ourselves let alone any visitors (and we get a lot of visitors). Hugo does not have his own room. We have kids at both ends of the house so we basically have to sit down and shut up from 7pm so we don’t wake one or the other. We can’t use the study after Hugo goes to bed because the study is next to the makeshift room he sleeps in.

We’ve been dealing with it because it has felt like a temporary measure. Now I suddenly feel like a pauper who can’t care for her children.

Crap crap crap.


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