Smacking heads

Yesterday evening, as I was peering into the red, furious face of my eight-month-old baby, just before she vomited with fury all over me, as a protest against going to sleep, I thought to myself, sometimes, being a mother is a tough gig.

For three and a half hours I patted and shushed as she screamed and flailed like a small angry gnome. And when, unable to bear the hysterical wailing, I relented and picked her up, she stopped crying, looked at me and laughed.

Downstairs, everyone was eating spaghetti bolognese – everyone except me – as my pint-sized slave-driver ensured my plate went cold. Baby wept. I wept. “Go the F to sleep,” I pleaded. I might as well have been smacking my head against a wall, for all the notice she took.

It’s karma, probably. I wasn’t a perfect baby myself – nor was I an angelic child. I remember going to the park with Tutti, Fluffy and her friend Terri and thinking it would be a good idea to push the swing as hard as I could, with Tutti standing unawares in front of it. It smacked her right in the head. She sent me to sit in the car in disgrace, where I watched Fluffy and Terri play without me, and I cried.


Anyway. This morning the baby woke up all sweetness and smiles. The air was frosty but the sun was shining and I breathed a sigh of relief that night time was behind me (for at least another 10 hours) .

The baby was at her typical daytime, happy, bouncy best – not least because the incredibly kind folk at Fisher Price sent me a Rainforest Jumperoo for her to try and I can stick her in it and actually get stuff done while she squeals with excitement at the music, bounces on her tiny feet, spins little spinny things around and watches the flashing lights. Every day I put her in it and it’s the same level of excitement (she’s like a goldfish…). Being able to detach her from my person and listen to her being happy rather than screechy has revolutionised my day indeed.

Smiles. Brought to you by Fisher Price.

But now it’s night time (again). I’ve just sat down again after being almost deafened by screaming (again) and thrown up on (again). I’m pining for day time already, for the smiles and the squeals and excitable bouncing.

And one day, I’ll tell her the story of how she was terrible at sleeping and just about drove me crazy. Just as Tutti reminds me of how I caused her morning sickness that ruined her European holiday. And smacked her in the head with a swing.

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The fine art of receiving

Birthdays, Mother’s Day, Christmas, Valentine’s Day… A lot of emphasis is placed on the joy of giving. It’s not surprising, really – there’s almost nothing as heartwarming and love-affirming as giving someone you care about something you know will make them happy.

Birthdays in my family are a big deal. I’ve been known to start squirreling away little bits and pieces months in advance, from trinkets I find at the op shop, to things I’ve made, to small pieces of kitsch crap (‘booby prizes’ to keep it interesting!), to little treasures I discover in odd shops along the way .

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I made this hat out of fabric scraps and cushion stuffing, for my sister, for her 30th birthday.

I get a certain childish joy from pretending I’ve only bought the recipient an economy packet of tissues (beautifully wrapped, of course) then revealing that ACTUALLY I have ONE more thing, which upon being opened turns out to be ALL of the things I’ve collected, all individually wrapped, which spill across the lap of the give-ee who squeals with delight and faux-surprise.

BUT, knowing how to receive is every bit as important – sometimes more so – as giving. Receiving a present is the perfect opportunity for you as the give-ee to make the giver feel good about themselves for taking the time and effort to buy you something – no matter how you actually feel about whatever it is you’ve just unwrapped.

EXHIBIT A: Receiving a puppy.
Now this one is easy. You don’t even need instructions. Who WOULDN’T wail and weep with happiness after opening a box, to discover a warm, fluffy, waggy, licky, fuzzy ball of love inside?

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EXHIBIT B: Receiving a pair of socks.

Now, people like me love a nice pair of socks. Sometimes, the right pair of socks can make an outfit. Other people would rather die (yes, DIE) of boredom than even look at a pair of socks. Those people might unwrap a pair of socks and react like this:

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But what they should do, is react like this:

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EXHIBIT C: Receiving the ugliest, itchiest, most heinous woolly jumper your poor, bleeding eyes have ever been assaulted by.

You may react like this:

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But what you should do, is this:

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So you see, it’s simple. Making people feel good about themselves for giving you a gift is as easy.

All you have to do is pretend you’re unwrapping a puppy, every single time.

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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 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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My weekend with Ari Seth Cohen

There’s no denying that social media has helped the world become a whole lot smaller. You can reminisce with strangers, forge virtual, international friendships, connect with anyone no matter how seemingly unattainable or powerful or famous they are.

And so it was, that somehow, I made contact with the inspirational photographer, author and blogger Ari Seth Cohen, whose blog, Advanced Style documents the stylish outfits worn by women over 60, for whom the street is their catwalk.

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Tutti, Ari and Me in Paddington. Photo by instagram.com/pelle4scarpe

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Adventures in Metaphysics

After hermitting myself away for the past few weeks, neglecting my bloggy blog, going to work, getting home and working my butt off editing The Guru’s book, (while suffering from preggers-induced fatigue and evil heartburn that would make the fiery flames of hell feel like a balmy breeze ) I am delighted (and relieved) to say I’ve done it! The Cranky Guru – Adventures in Metaphysics by Paul L Bennett is just about ready to unleash itself on the world.

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Tutti and The Guru dressed for a black-and-white night on the town, on Saturday.

It’s never easy working on a project of this magnitude with a parent (especially when you live with them and there’s no escape from the constant barrage of “How are you going with the book? Are you going to finish it tonight? What? It will take two weeks? But I want it done in one! Are you working on it tonight? Good morning – I know you’re still snoozing and it’s 6.30 on Saturday but I was just wondering how the book’s going. So about the book… is it finished yet? Yes I know you’re on the toilet but perhaps we could have a meeting now through the keyhole.”) but we got there in the end.

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And even though I don’t agree with all of the Guru’s esoteric philosophies, I’m pretty proud of the fact that he’s managed to write something that is warm, funny, candid and engaging.

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I can’t wait for you all to go out and get your hands on a copy, but in the meantime, I shall tantalise you with the back cover blurb.

Are we merely victims of circumstance, or can we actually create our own destiny? Does time exist? Are past, present and future happening simultaneously? Are dreams real? Do our beliefs create our reality? The answers to these eternal questions and many more can be found within. Merging humour and real life anecdotes with esoteric philosophy, this book has evolved over thirty years of study and deep contemplation. It has been a journey of discovery unlike any other, offering assistance to all who seek  answers to living effective lives in ‘Earth School’.

Metaphysics, or the art of ‘Acting As If’, is the universal tool of creation. Its mastery, achievable by anyone with an open mind, will open doors you may not have previously imagined. Whether you want to be the master of your own success, heal past hurts, improve your relationships or simply find a greater sense of inner peace, one thing’s for sure: this book will defiinitely change your perspective. It might even change your life.

Love and light, bitches!

Ceci xx

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