quiet surprises

Much to the annoyance of my mother, M and I aren’t married. We kind of skipped over that bit and got down to the business of being a family. I wasn't particularly opposed to the idea of marriage, in fact I really quite liked the idea, it's just that we never really got around to it and given that neither of us are particularly religious and civil law is really quite open about these kinds of things, it just didn't seem like it needed to be at the top of our priority lists. But a couple of nights ago we went someway to easing my mother’s angst.  On a picnic rug, watching the sunset over the Melbourne skyline Matthias asked me to marry him. A very nice bottle of Champagne and a ring took part in the merriment. Afterwards we celebrated at a fancy restaurant where they call you 'Madam' and 'Sir' and we woke my mother up to tell her the news (she was pleased).

There are still quite a few decisions to be made before we actually marry - deciding the when and the where being chief among them.  And by where I mean the continent and country, rather than backyard or vineyard. So far Austria and Australia are favourites but Boston is also a possibility although the idea of organising an event from the other side of the world with no one “on the ground” to be the go-to person kind of does my head in.

*Picture taken with my smartphone just after... aren't camera phones awesome!?!


Water fight

Emilia-7619.jpg waterfight_dyp waterfight_dyp_2 Emilia-7604.jpg
Around these parts the seasons have definitely shifted in favour of the sun.  In amongst the hustle and bustle of preparing for Christmas I am trying to stop and enjoy the small things; the first of the summer berries, a cool breeze on my neck at the end the day and the thrill of the first (of many) water fights shared between cousins up at my parents farm. Oh yes, I have a feeling that this summer is going to be grand.



Emilia and Me
For the kickass women of the world.
Those that are, and those that are growing up to be.
The daughters. The mothers. The sisters.
The fribblings – friends like siblings.
The wives, The girlfriends.
The aunts. The nieces.
The grand-somethings.
The young uns. The teens.
The women in your life.
Who love, lose, cry.
Laugh, heal, thrive.
Nurture. Create.
As. You.are
Stronger than you know.
More beautiful than you think.
Worthier than you believe.
More loved than you can ever imagine.
Passionate above making a difference.
Fioery when protecting those you love.
Learning. Growing, Not alone.
Warm. Giving. Generous.
Quirky, Sexy, Funny. Smart.
Flawed. Whole. Scared. Brave.
And so, so, so. much.more
Be Strong. Be Confident. Be You.
~Copyright: Tia Sparkles Singh, 2011
There might be a bit more of that kind of stuff around here. Hope you don’t mind. Mothering a daughter has brought out the feisty woman-lover in me. And for the record, it’s not that I don’t love men. I do. I love them to bits actually. But girls, we have so much work to do in the learning and self-loving to make sure we etch out a space in this world to talk about how we want things to be. 
This is my beginning.




This morning I woke up and went for a run. Just like that. Well, actually, it wasn’t just like that, because I haven’t run in almost 2 years and there will be aches and pains tomorrow and a few little blisters on unsuspecting toes but the important thing is that I ran. I put on my runners, turned on the tunes and shuffled out the door. It felt surprisingly good. For half an hour or so I forgot that I was tired, that our house needed vacuuming and that I hated my job and I just ran. Huffed and puffed my way around Royal Park, watched the sunrise over the city (my city!) and felt the prickling heat of what was to be a scorching summer day on my skin.

Ironically it also brought me back here.

I’ve found it hard to be here this year. I keep coming back in fits and starts. I really so very much want to be here but there has been so much going on and so many changes and well, I have a lot to say but a lot of it is the deeply personal thoughts of a half-enraged feminist Mama feeling just a little bit grumpy that there have been a few too many bumps in what was supposed to be a very smooth road this year.

But this morning I woke up and I went for a run. I stopped making excuses; I stopped saying “Maybe tomorrow”. I didn’t worry that E might wake or M would be disturbed by my 5.30am wake-up call, I just did it.  And it felt so good that I intend to do it again and hopefully soon; maybe not tomorrow but perhaps on Saturday or Sunday when the aches and pains have well and truly settled. One day I might even run in one of those Fun Run things.

And I’ll be blogging more too. No more excuses.


Just like that


And just like that she stopped being a baby and turned into a little girl - bangles and all.



Yarra Yerring Strange things happen when you move back 'home' after a long jaunt overseas. Things that took on monumental importance while away suddenly seem insignificant. Like the AFL grand final, for instance. In 2009 I convinced some poor unsuspecting Americans to join me in an Irish pub full of Aussie expats to watch St Kilda take on Geelong. The 2010 draw between St Kilda and Collingwood found me in a dark, dank Hostel basement pretending it wasn't two degrees and five in the morning but a sunny, spring afternoon in beautiful, football-mad Melbourne. Admittedly last year I can't remember what I was doing but I had a two month old baby and in all seriousness it probably wouldn't have mattered which country I was in, the game would have been a crazy blur in which I pretended that I knew that a) I was awake and b) what I was watching. 

Anyway, given all this, you'd think that this year I might have organised a BBQ or gone to a pub to watch the game on the big screen. That I would have been genuinely excited to be back in Melbourne on 'the last weekend in September'. Turns out, not so much. In fact, surprisingly I felt quite ambivalent about the whole thing and, with Emilia being too little and Matthias not having lived in Melbourne long enough to be indoctrinated into the game, we went wine tasting instead.
  Wine Tasting Yarra Valley View


Afternoon Tea

I'm all out of words tonight but I wanted to post again to keep the rhythm going.  E and I had afternoon tea with Mira and her Mum today.  Good company and deliciously strong lattes were the perfect antidote to a wet, cold afternoon.

And yes, she's just as cute in person.


Breakfast at the new Pad

Well, it took me a little longer to get back here than I thought. It's been a tough few months but slowly it feels like everything is settling down again.  The winter bugs that have been plaguing us all (and most especially E) seem to have disappeared with the advent of spring. We have a new home and for the first time in quite some while it actually feels like home.  It's 80% tiny workers cottage, 10% urban pad and 10% chaotic toddler warzone. There's still a bit of jostling about and the moving of 'stuff' before we are properly settled but it already feels right. There's a coffee shop around the corner, the market is a 10 minute walk, work a short bike ride. We've talked about selling the car... It's possible, perhaps, maybe that this might be the last move. For a little while anyway.



I am wondering if I can quietly return to this place without too much fanfare and hoop-lah?  If I could just start again, in the middle, without too many whats, whys or hows. The middle is really where everything begins anyway. More-or-less.

Turns out that Canberra wasn't 'our place'. We're city people really and despite our initial attempts at trying to make it feel like home, it just wasn't and was never going to be. In the end we moved. It was complicated and the details are still being ironed out. I'll miss Canberra's sunsets and endless horizons but I'm already loving having coffee at the the end of the street and a milkbar around the corner.  Like I said; we're city people really.

For a while I stopped taking photographs. I picked up my camera again on holidays. It felt good. I got my camera-eye back and I thought about blogging.  And so I thought, perhaps, that I'd return.  Camera in hand. Quietly. Slowly.



Right now the house is quiet.  Emilia is asleep.  Matthias is reading (although I think he is asleep as well).  It's one of those days today when the weather can't quite decided if it's summer or winter.  That in-between time when the air is warm but the wind blows winter, or visa versa.  It's the type of weather than reminds you that change is about and soon you'll be wrapping yourself up in scarves and wishing for openfires.  The last few nights the thermometer has been etching towards zero and this weekend I decided it was time to call it quits on our summer harvest.  Two beetroots, four potatoes and a couple of green beans.  Not even enough to make a salad! They're tiny too - the beetroot is about the size of my baby finger.  Our pumpkins got eaten by the resident possum, as did the cucumber.  I still have a few tomatoes sitting on the bush but they're not even looking like ripening. I think I'll have to find some green tomato chutney recipe for next weekend.  Oh well, better luck next year I guess.


eight months

Eight month photos with a narrative from Emilia.

Hey, this TV Tower looks different to last time.  I'm sure it used to be red. 
Yep, it was definitely red last time.  
Mama. Oi Mama!  You've given me the wrong prop.  
You're kidding me right?  
untitled-24.jpgYou really think you'll be able to trick everyone and just pretend it's the red one?  Or are you somehow going to suggest it's been green all along and just ignore the fact that at 3, 4 and 5 months I was playing with a red softie?  
Okay then. You're the boss.  Ready?  
Done and we're away. 

Time to go inspect the fluff that's building up on the carpet. 

Much, much later I found the red softie (in the car).
Emilia 8 months-27.jpg

Emilia at: seven months six monthsfive months,   four months>



Beamish and Tipper
Rowan and Otto
In amongst all the celebrations last weekend there was also quite a bit of gift giving to be done.  I think I've mentioned before that I've been having fun playing with all the patterns in Bambeanies.  It really is a wonderful book.  Twenty hats for toddlers and kids.  Rowan's wearing Beamish and Otto has Tipper.  Beamish is more-or-less a bog-standard beanie with a bit of i-cord fun at the top.  It was a quick and simple pattern which was great, as I ended up casting on a few times before I was happy with the size.  (Rowan has an adult-sized head and I needed to do a bit of fiddling to made sure it'd fit).

Tipper is a rectangle, knit on the bias, folded in half and sewn up to create a large square-shaped hat.  It doesn't look like much without a head inside it.  Truthfully, I was a little dubious it'd look any good at all, but I think the horns look pretty cute on a toddler.  It looks even cuter worn "sailor style" as Otto prefers although unfortunately I didn't manage to get any photos of that. They'll be more of these made, I'm sure.
Damsel from Bambeanies
And of course E ended up with her own. This one is Damsel. And yes, I photographed it before I'd properly sewn on the buttons and cut the ends.  But it is such a lovely hat that I couldn't resist.  It's still a little bit big for her and I'm hoping it'll fit through the winter.  Such a cute design and it manages to keep ears and neck warm without the necessity of ear flaps or pesky ties.  The pattern was also one of the best introductions to short-row knitting that I've found.  I've struggled and given up with short rows in the past but the instructions in Bambeanies were perfectly easy to understand and left me wondering why I'd previously had so much difficulty.  

I imagine that they'll be more knitting from this lovely little e-book in the months to come.  Hats, I've decided, especially kid-let hats are my favourite kind of knitting.



Dress in the wind
Good Table
After lunch nap
Rowan and Otto
38 weeks!

Sometimes you do get what you want. A long weekend and a very special birthday for my Mum had us hopping on a plane down to Melbourne and spending a wonderful Labour Day weekend with my family. The sun shone! We ate, we celebrated, we relaxed. I felt the warm embrace of family. It required an excel spreadsheet to coordinate cars, baby seats, sleeping arrangements and catering, but aside from a few frayed nerves when we realised that another trip to the shops was required because somehow a dinner's worth of meat got left off the shopping list, the weekend was pretty much perfect.



International Women’s Day. I nearly let the day pass. My womanly soul is weary and celebrating womanhood somehow feels disingenuous. I feel a bit battered and bruised and probably – while I’m being honest - a little bit confused about what this womanhood/motherhood caper is all about.

I’ve been back at work a month now. I’m not enjoying it. My working days have become so full of the ‘everyday’ that I have almost no time for anything else. I read this week in the newspaper that a study recently found that most women have less than ½ hour “me time” built into their days. I found myself nodding in agreement. I find myself choosing between sleep and just a bit of time for me– half an hour of knitting or five minutes more in the shower.

And I was so hopeful last year. Standing on the cusp of motherhood I was so optimistic and assured of my rights as a woman and mother. I was so sure about what I thought I wanted and I was quietly confident that society would help me out; turns out that I didn’t have a clue.

So in no particular order, here’s what I want: I want a career. I want to be heard. I want to cuddle Emilia and have her shower me with her sloppy, open mouth kisses a hundred times a day. I want equal pay and the rightful acknowledgment of my experience and qualifications. I want to stay home and nurse my baby and not send her off to childcare with a bottle. I want to make things; big vintage quilts, knitted cardigans and woolly hats. Mostly I just want to make things and give them to the people I love. Occasionally I want to sell them too. I want to dream; big dreams that might one day come true; dreams of a ‘forever house’ in a ‘forever town’. I want the sun to shine and the rain to stop, just for one day. I want to watch Emilia take her first steps and I’m terrified it might happen while I’m at work. I want to hear her say Mama and Papa and Ja und Nein. I want a full night’s sleep and a drunken night on the town. I want to wake up and be excited about my day. I want to lead. I want a clean house, fresh sheets and the ironing basket empty. I want Emilia to grow up knowing that she is enough; that she can say no (or yes) and that’s okay. I want Emilia to grow up knowing that she is a she and Australian and Austrian with white skin, blue eyes and dumpy legs and all of these things are as relevant and irrelevant as the next.

I want this day (International Women’s Day) not to matter anymore.
But the truth is, it does.

17/365 - knitting

I know that was a rather abrupt end to this post, but it’s kind of how I feel about the issue today.  And yes, I know that I can't have everything that's on my list. Well, at least not all at once.  But still, a few of those things should be possible, no?  So, get out and celebrate being a woman today; a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a mother. Talk about it, think about what you want. Dream big. It’s only by doing these things that we can hope to finally get want we want.



Morning Light
Knitting everywhere
Navy Knits
In the kitchen
The weather has turned decidedly towards winter around here. A week of constant rain.  It's all a bit glum really as we really were hoping for a few more summer days and a final trip to the beach before we packed away the bathers and towel for the year. Through the rain I've been knitting.  Knitting, knitting, knitting.  Nothing like rain, a cosy couch and some good quality knitting time to sooth the soul into winter.  A quick wander through my house today and I found five knits in various stages of "finished".  Yes, that's two hats sitting on the flour jar (it's the perfect shape for wet blocking), and that rather tiny ribbed square is supposed to be a beanie.  It's not finished, but I'm still not convinced.  I'm still working on Dad's jumper, but in the inbetween times I've been having fun with the hats in Bambeanies - finished photos to come soon - and perhaps, a proper review of the book (but just quietly, I love it.)


Seven months

Seven Months!

The milestones are tumbling at the moment. In two weeks I went from having a non-mobile, non-rolling kid to a sitting, rolling, bum-shuffling babe with two bottom teeth and a love of her own voice. Seriously, there is rarely a moment when she's quiet. She even hums her approval (or otherwise) while eating the food we dish up to her. Soft coo's for 'good' and high pitched whinging when we haven't quite got it right. Lately she's been waking up and practicing her 'da-da' and 'ba-ba-bas' at 2am in the morning. It's kinda cute until you realise it's two in the morning and actually you'd prefer to be sleeping than listening to your kid ticking off developmental milestones.

But even if she's kept me awake for what seems like all night and really, I'm pretty grumpy because this working-Mama thing needs sleep for it to function, one look at those cheeks and I'm done. 
Emilia 7 months-7.jpg

Emilia at: six monthsfive months,   four months, three months, two months


Favourite places

MacLaren Vale Sunset

So, that favourite place we visited? This is it. McLaren Vale on the Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia. The summers are magic there. Four days of looking out at this sunset while drinking a glass of red and waiting for the BBQ to be cooked. Even better, watching the same sunset looking out over the sea. Yes, we did that too.

And then spent the days doing this.

And this.

Yep, that'd  be - let's pretend to taste wine but really we're all staring at the baby who is hamming it up for the camera.

See, told you.

It was a pretty awesome long weekend which seems far too long ago now.  Never mind, I'll be seeing this lot again soon (yippee) - in two weeks we're heading down to Melbourne again to celebrate my Mum's "big" birthday.  They'll be more photos, more wine, more hands to cuddle and play with E.  I'm counting the days already.