This is what 65 (and 30) looks like

It’s Tutti’s 65th birthday today but in my opinion she’s ageless. Here she is with my little sister Fluffy when we were in Marrickville yesterday. A bright pop of colour to liven up this grey and drizzly Wednesday.

Happy birthday to the most stunning, funny, outrageous, creative, intelligent woman in my world. Love you Mummy! xx

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For my sister on her birthday

When I was four years old, a funny little baby came to live with us. My parents said I could name her whatever I wanted, and because I desperately wanted a dog, I named her Fluffy. Her birth certificate says ‘Sonia’, but we all still call her Fluffy, even at 30.

2015/02/img_5644.jpgFluffy was a screecher. It’s a wonder Tutti didn’t chuck her out a window. She screamed like a banshee morning, noon and night. I can still remember sitting on the green, foam, modular lounge, wrestling with baby fluffy as she pterodactyl-shrieked like a maniac, arching her back as if possessed. Even then, I loved my little sister. ‘There, there, Fluffy,” I soothed as I peered into her pink, furious face. “There, there.”

2015/02/img_5643.jpgFluffy has always been quite uncoordinated. She was never going to excel at any sport that required the catching of a ball (though come to think of it, neither was I). But she has been blessed with the most astounding creative spirit. I think the word for it is accomplished. She can sew like a master. She makes incredible clothes and hats and beautiful children’s toys; she is a brilliant and quirky illustrator and a wonderful writer to boot. If you have never seen the impressive body of work that is her Nun and Crocodile blog, then you ought to. Now. Run, don’t walk!

2015/02/img_5645.jpgWhen Fluffy could first talk, she called me Little Mummy, and I always took great pride in my role as older sister, to look after her, and out for her and give her advice and a bit of tough love. Sometimes you need someone to tell you to shut up. I am very good at that. And I credit myself with gifting Fluffy with her very own spirit animal. The Honey Badger. Honey badgers are fierce. They are the most fearless creatures in the world. They are crazy. They do not give a shit.

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 1.08.42 pmI have always thought Fluffy was better looking than me. She is definitely more photogenic and has an enviably thin waist. I’m not even sure I have a waist.  But I have never, ever been jealous. I am quite proud of that fact.

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Here is Fluffy, today, on her birthday, wearing a necklace I made for her.

Anyway, all that’s left to say is Happy Birthday little Fluffy. I have no doubt this next decade is going to be spectacular. Being in your 30s is the BEST. Until you turn 40. I hear 50’s good. Sixty’s the new 40 apparently. According to some of the ladies over at Advanced Style, being 80 is AMAZING!

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Love,

Ceci xx

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Sisters, reunited

A couple of days ago, my dear sister Fluffy arrived from London (where she lives) to celebrate her impending 30th birthday in Sydney.

2015/02/img_5485-0.jpg We’ve always been really good friends, but when I was 10 I clearly begrudged her for having the cute-factor that got her out of trouble at every turn. A point I made quite clear in this letter I penned to Tutti.

2015/02/img_54831.jpgDear Mummy, I’m very sorry although it was not all my fault. You have to understand that whenever you shout at Sonia or me, you always use my name or stare at me during a lecture so I feel blamed for everything. I feel parents should treat old & young kids the same. To try and make you forgive me I have tidied my room and used my best writing paper in this letter. I also hope that sometimes you won’t fall for her (Sonia) cute act as I know that in being 6 years she is cuter than me anyway. Sorry about the writing. Love, your misbehaved daughter Cecily Anna B.
P.S. I think the threats you give sometimes are mean.

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Oh DEAR!

Yesterday, I had one of those days. As Marnie was crying on my shoulder (and I was crying on hers) I took a picture of myself.  I’ve always thought it’s important to remember the less-good times so that the truly good times are dazzling by comparison. There’s no denying positivity is my default setting, but no matter who you are, there’s no escaping those days when it feels like life has bitten you on the arse. Life has really sharp teeth, in case you were wondering.

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Sad face.

Tutti bought me a scratch card the other day, so I dug it out, found a 10c coin and prepared to turn my fortunes around. “Hello, $100,000.” I said to the scratchie (but not out loud, because that would be weird). “How nice to meet you. Please get ready to make yourself right at home in my bank account. It’s pretty sparse at the moment, and could do with significant renovating, but I have a feeling you’ll love it there.”

I like scratching the $5 crossword scratchie, but it always goes the same way. The same fleeting blink of hopeful anticipation; the knowing prediction of the outcome.

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Damn you, Crossword. Damn you to hell.

I scratch a star. Then another. I reveal a Q, V, Y and other useless letters bringing me no closer to scratch card success. But all I need is an O, E and R and I’ll be $100,000 richer! I cross my fingers. I pray a bit. I scratch the next star.

It’s a fucking X.

An X! And of COURSE there’s no xylophone, xylotomy or xerox on my stupid scratchie. (There’s always a silver lining though, as there is in everything. In this instance, it’s that I learnt a new word. Propound. It means to put forward (an idea or theory) for consideration by others. I will probably never use it in a sentence.

Anyway. It’s silly that taking a 10c coin and scratching away at a piece of card that is probably never going to win me anything more than the amount of a coffee gives me enjoyment. And sillier still, is that whenever I occasionally buy one, I never fail to have this paragraph from George Orwell’s 1984 lingering uneasily in the shadows of my memory.

“The Lottery, with its weekly pay-out of enormous prizes, was the one public event to which the proles paid serious attention. It was probable that there were some millions of proles for whom the Lottery was the principal if not the only reason for remaining alive. It was their delight, their folly, their anodyne, their intellectual stimulant. Where the Lottery was concerned, even people who could barely read and write seemed capable of intricate calculations and staggering feats of memory. There was a whole tribe of men who made their living simply by selling systems, forecasts, and lucky amulets. Winston had nothing to do with the Lottery, which was managed by the Ministry of Plenty, but he was aware (indeed everyone in the party was aware) that the prizes were largely imaginary. Only small sums were actually paid out, the winners of the big prizes being nonexistent persons.”

 

 

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A Celebration of Love (and colour)

Tutti, the Guru, Matty, Marnie and I went to a wedding yesterday. It was truly lovely – a celebration of life and love and a brilliant excuse to get dressed up. (Not that one ever truly needs an excuse for that. Wear your best frock to the shops to buy milk, I say. Not that I do. I went out with Marnie the other day looking horrible. “At least put some lipstick on,” said Tutti, kindly ignoring the brooch of baby vomit on my T-shirt and my hair which looked at best like a curly, fluffy hair-nest, just waiting for a sparrow to take up residence.)

Anyway. We did what anyone does at a wedding. We danced and laughed and ate things and cooed over the bride who was wearing a sparkly, almost-60s-style shift dress and looked absolutely divine. In short? We had fun. But then, we almost always do.

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Here I am with my beloved Matty, wearing my Francis Klein glasses, outfit by Et Al Melbourne and flower corsage that I found in Tutti’s wardrobe (score!) Matty’s wearing his beautiful Clifford Gordon jacket that he last wore five years ago when we got married and skinny pants by ML Denim.

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What can I say about Tutti except that she is always a colourful feast for the eyes. I recently bought her that jacket from an op shop in Melbourne for the princely sum of $12 and yet it looks a million bucks.. Love her Miu Miu glasses, Alistair Trung skirt and bright sandals by Django & Juliet.

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Tutti the beauty.

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Giving good shoulder.

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The Guru and Tutti. I had probably just said something HILARIOUS.

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I art directed this shot. “Look romantic,” I said.

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Power pose.

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Even Marnie got in on the action, partying the night away. Well, until 10pm. Which is pretty rock’n’roll for a baby.

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Here are Tutti and Matty standing in front of a chalkboard of random words. #catatonic!

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Looking alert and economic. Apparently.

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The couple of the moment. Nathan and Elly. Wishing them a lifetime of health, happiness, laughter and all good things. It’s a bit of a photographic fail from an iPhone point of view, but you get the gist. They looked gorgeous.

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I bought myself a diary

Last week, I paid a visit to my spiritual home – otherwise known as Kikki.K – and bought myself a new diary. It’s pretty beautiful, I think you’ll agree. And it has stickers in the back. Really cute ones. And it came with daschund sticky notes, so there was no way any other diary was going to stand in its way. I got home and transferred most of the birthdays (but not all, because some of the birthdays from this year I’m not going to care about next – harsh maybe, but true) and then I sat and looked at my diary and flipped through its colourful pages and wondered what it would be filled with in the next 12 months.

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I always feel a mixture of excitement and anxiety at the beginning of a new year. I hate that when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, and fireworks explode and people start singing drunken, off-key renditions of Auld Lang Syne, I want to have a little cry. I don’t know why really. I resent my glistening eyes and the lump in my throat. I know it’s silly.

It’s probably a combination of the weight of expectation for the future, and a wistful wave goodbye to the 365 days behind me. So much can happen in a year.

Looking back, it’s been a good one. I made some wonderful friends. I ate delicious things. I got a Soda Stream (and for someone who loves carbonated beverages as much as I do, it’s been life-changing). Matty, Tiggy and I moved into the Tutti-and-Guru hotel, and our days are filled with madness and hilarity. I had a baby – a beautiful, blue-eyed, red-haired baby. And in the eleven weeks of having a baby I even wrote and edited a magazine (more on that another day).

There’s a lot to look forward to as well – there always is. Even when you’re having the crappiest day and you feel like sweeping the contents off your desk in a frustrated rage, there’s always the next day, and the next, and the tiny things that happen that inspire smiles and laughter and love.

I’m looking forward to being super creative this year. I’m looking forward to watching my funny little baby turn into an even funnier little person as she changes and grows by the day. I’m going to learn to crochet – I have always wanted to know how to do that. I’m going to buy Marnie wonderful picture books that I’ll read to her – and work on my own books too. And I plan to laugh, a lot. Not that hard when I’m married to one of the funniest (and most adorable) men I’ve ever known.

I can’t quite believe I have a 2015 diary, and that another year is about to begin. There’s been too much cause for sorrow in 2014 – especially given recent events. So I really hope that you all have a peaceful, safe and happy new year, with nothing but fun and good things.

Thanks so much for reading me. It really means the world.

See you soon.

Love, Ceci. x

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A Tribute to Tutti

Twelve hours before I gave birth to my daughter, Marnie, Tutti made me a midnight snack. Cheese and butter soldiers, lovingly stacked, Jenga-style, for me, her 33-year-old daughter, who has never grown out of thinking that toast tastes better, bite-sized.

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Marnie-in-utero and cheese toast soldiers.

In hospital, as I was pushing, feeling sure I was soon to expire from exhaustion, she held my heavy, anaesthetised leg, to help my baby emerge. Matty offered solid encouragement well away from the business end. (“Don’t go there, mate,” a friend had warned him. “It’s like watching your favourite pub burn down.”)

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In the maternity ward, where the food is not always edible, Tutti brought me my favourite Chicken Tandoori Za’atar toastie and a vanilla milkshake from Café Zivelli, so I could have a delicious lunch and feel momentarily removed from the dreary room, with the call bells constantly beeping and the babies wailing in corridors.

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This is what hospital food looks like.

When we came home with the baby, bleary eyed and shell-shocked, Tutti wielded her brilliant bub-soothing powers to quell the pterodactyl-shrieks of our perfect newborn, ensuring it wasn’t nearly as stressful as it could have been. And when Matty moved upstairs so he could get some much needed sleep to fuel his busy days at work, Tutti stayed up with me way past midnight until baby fell asleep.

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She’s done infinite loads of washing and ironing and grocery shopping and cooked delicious healthy meals and laughed in the face of endless vomming and nappy changing (the baby’s, not mine) and has been instrumental in ensuring that I don’t turn into a pyjama-round-the-clock-wearing, scarecrow-haired, makeup-free hermit. (The refrain of ‘Put some lipstick on!’ ever ringing in my ears).

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And I think that if I can be even a quarter of the mother to my daughter that she has been to me, Miss Marnie will be a very lucky little girl indeed.

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Tutti, me as a baby and Tutti’s mum – my darling grandmother Minnie, who Marnie was named after.

 

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Marnie

My daughter Marnie entered the world with barely a squeak. Barely a whimper.

One minute everything was going marvelously. I was lying in bed feeling utterly relaxed, delighting in the little green light that flashed every 15 minutes indicating I could top up my epidural.

The next, there were suddenly too many people in the room. Too many furrowed brows. Hardly a sound but for the slowing beep of the baby heart monitor. I held my breath. I may have prayed.

Marnie was not having a particularly good time of it, thanks to an entangled umbilical that had strapped her in like a seatbelt. And for all my red-cheeked, vein-popping, labour-intense pushing, she was not going anywhere fast.

The kind-faced obstetrician wielded the forceps. Don’t worry, just the small forceps, he told me. He could have been using giant salad servers for all I cared – I was blissfully oblivious to whatever contortions my nether regions were performing, thanks to the spectacular spell of anaesthesia. All I wanted was to expel my little baby from her womb with(out) a view and for her to be okay.

And then, finally, she arrived; sweet and squashed, foaming at the mouth. Silent.

She was placed on my chest for all of two seconds, then whisked away to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to have life rubbed briskly into her pale pink body; to be oxygenated and aspirated and hooked up to monitors and tube fed.

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Matty was no longer in the room since he’d followed Marnie to the NICU (quietly plutzing over his dramatic start to fatherhood). I lay in bed feeling shell-shocked and amazed that a human being had just been squeezed out of me.

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I didn’t get to hold my baby properly for a couple of days. The first time I met her, a good few hours after her delivery, I peered down at her in her plastic crib and stood awkwardly, unsure of what to do with someone so small and vulnerable – with her toothpick limbs and bobble head. I almost felt I should extend my hand with a formal ‘pleased to meet you.’ After all, we had only just met, even if she had lived inside me for the most part of a year.

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The WTF-has-just-happened? face. Seriously. WTF.

There were no sudden explosions of overwhelming love, or fireworks or thunderbolts. Rather, my adoration grew slowly, over days, over weeks; stretching, unfurling like a lazy dog in the sun.

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The many faces of Marnie

And now, six weeks on, I’m amazed at how I’ve adapted. At how I’m able to leap out of bed at 3am and 6am – with a smile on my face because my baby needs me and she’s incredibly cute. I’ve become a morning person and a night owl and everything in between. I’m exhausted and jet-lagged and I don’t mind at all.

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Being a baby = exhausting.

To see Matty with his daughter is incredibly special. He’s a wonderful father, as I knew he would be. And there’s no more devoted a big sister than Tiggy the dog, who looks concerned when Marnie cries, lies by her cot, gently nuzzles her ear and watches on adoringly with big, brown eyes. We’re a family now, and it’s inexplicably lovely.

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Daddy and baby. Carbon copies.

I’m mesmerised by Marnie’s every sound (perhaps not the pterodactyl screech that breaks through the sound barrier of acceptable decibels and could probably shatter glass – but still.) I could stare at her face all day. Her expressions are hilarious. I guess no kid of mine had a choice but to be at least a little bit funny looking.

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Funny faces. It’s in the genes.

Sometimes I have to pinch myself – to think that I’m a mother, with a blue-eyed, red-haired daughter. An impossibly sweet one, who fits perfectly inside a fine-china teacup.

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Just taking a little break

Hello lovely readers,

You may have noticed I haven’t posted a blog for the past couple of weeks. Well, I have a very good excuse. I pushed out a baby. It was pretty exhausting but I’m getting the hang of it now, caring for this cute little gumnut. Marnie is her name.

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Anyway, I will be back soon. Just not yet.

Thanks for stopping by.

Ceci x

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So… my baby is due today…

… but she’s under strict instructions to continue baking, because Tutti and I are going to the preview screening of Advanced Style, the movie named after both the inspirational blog and subsequent book by Ari Seth Cohen.

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I am so excited to see this film, not least because I have so much respect for Ari’s work. In this age where there’s such fixation on youth, it’s so refreshing to see age portrayed in such a fun, vibrant and vital way – which is exactly how it should be.

The platform Ari has given to wonderful women over 60 is nothing short of inspired. After all, you can bet they have more wisdom, style and sass than most women half their age. There’s plenty we could learn about living and loving life from the ladies of Advanced Style.

This is one movie you HAVE to see. In cinemas around Australia from October 2.

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