Playing musical blogs

13 Oct

Well, it’s very possible that this will be my last entry here for a few months. I’m jumping ship for a while to TravelPod, a travel blogging service where I hope to be documenting our forthcoming trip around Australia and New Zealand, and I do hope you’ll join me there:

I may or may not have a chance to make a final entry here looking back on the past three years and this beautiful chapter in our lives, and I haven’t quite decided whether I want to do any such thing (as you might have gathered from a couple of posts ago). My next post could simply be ‘hello Manchester, we’re here!’ and  take it from there.

But either way, do visit my travel blog and follow us on our travels, it’s going to be SO MUCH FUN!!



7 Oct

Guys, our kid is SO AMAZING! She is accumulating words at a rate of knots! In two languages! I love how you can be amazed by things that literally happen all the time, and a child learning language is definitely one of those things (growing a child in your body and birthing said child is another – happens all the time, still can’t get over the miraculousness of it).

And these early stages are just the best. Because they’re not quite getting it all correct yet, right? So they have special and unique ways of expressing themselves and sometimes only you can understand (and sometimes even you can’t understand and everyone gets frustrated…).

This weekend, pretty much out of nowhere, she suddenly started singing ‘happy birthday to you‘. It took us a few goes to work out what she was saying, but once we were on board it was heaps of fun just singing happy birthday and her doing the ‘TO YOU‘ bit especially enthusiastically. Good practice for my birthday coming up this week, no? Additionally, when she saw a loaf of bread I has just taken out of the bread machine this morning, she pointed at it and said ‘cake?‘ which was an understandable guess, but even more adorably, she followed it up with ‘happy birthday to you?‘ Broke my heart to have to inform her that no, this wasn’t in fact a birthday cake…

Marc thinks she has more Dutch words, I think she has more English words, so for fun I’m going to try to think of the words she says most often and categorize them by language…

Dutch: kaas, jam, aardbei, egel, fiets, mamma, de was, helpen, mooi, opa, oma, broekie aan, sokkie aan, tas, jas, een twee…, Nijn Nijn, kikker, doei doei, auto, navel, zitten, ontbijt, eten, poesjes eten, koppie thee, melk, alstuplease, op, mamma, bouwen…

English: bape (grape), bittit (biscuit), nanas (sultanas), nappy, shoes, hat, see-saw up and down, slide, swing, two four five seven eight TEN, rabbit, doggie, cat, dinosaur, duck, kangaROO, cow, horse, monkey, hippo, star, moon, snap (for a crocodile), bye bye, bus, tram, flower, balloon, carry, bag away, nose, eyes, toes, sheep, honey, pillar (for caterpillar), see you, towel, whale,  please, outside, inside, daddy, oh dear…

Equivocal: toast, yoghurt, hello/hallo, bookie, ball, phone, water, play-doh, bed, fish/vis, Lotte, Poddy, boat, apple…

I’m sure there are more I’m missing out, but wow, isn’t she saying a lot?? Guys, our kid is SO AMAZING (said every parent ever…)!




Feathers no more

21 Sep

I’d like to take a moment to reflect on the passing of…a pigeon. In an unfortunate turn of events, my second attempt at driving resulted in the demise of said winged creature, presumably because I snuck up on it at a crawling pace as it was crossing the street minding its own business and didn’t see me coming…. My yelling ‘what do I do, what do I do?!?!’ at Marc whilst vaguely remembering one shouldn’t swerve for wildlife (do pigeons count in this scenario though??) didn’t really get me anywhere and we watched in faint surprise as it disappeared under the bonnet and….we felt nothing (physically! emotionally I was worrying very hard). Unsurprisingly, Feathers was no match for our giant vehicle so his shaking off of his mortal coil didn’t even register as a faint bump…RIP Feathers.

But let’s look on the upside, I drove around the streets of Fitzroy and Northcote without hurting anyone human, without causing damage, and only mildly pissing off a few other drivers. Parking is kind of a disaster though, we’ll tackle that a bit more next time round or we’ll forever be stopping by the side of the road for Marc to get back in to the driver’s seat to park….

Lotte, of course, slept through the whole thing again. This is a bit of a pattern as we appear to be dealing with a slightly late 18 month sleep regression that involves refusing day naps, refusing going to bed and waking up at three or four and refusing to go back to sleep after that. Who took our baby and replaced her with this little night owl???!! I don’t like to turn to Dr Google too often, as generally I get far more conflicting information than anything useful, but on this point, apparently, the whole internet seems to agree: the 18 month sleep regression is a thing, it’s awful, and there’s not much you can do other than try to survive it. We were apparently lucky not to have to deal with a 4, 8 or 10 month regression so, should count ourselves lucky?

Only 2-6 weeks apparently….we’re assured we will get our baby back…we’re trying hard to believe….

PS – Marc was quick to point out he’s never killed anything with a car….like this is somehow a reflection on my novicehood – I’d be keen to hear whether being a relative beginner increases your chances of committing birdicide – any stats on this out there?


13 Sep

Sooooo, I drove our new car today. And am still alive. And Marc and Lotte are still in one piece. And the car likewise suffered no damage. WIN!!

For those of you unaware, this is:

a) The first time I’ve ever driven a car this big:













b) The first time I’ve driven in over three years.

c) Effectively the first time I’ve driven since passing my driving test – I repeat over three years ago.

d) A big deal!

Marc drove us out to Bundoora Park and I had a go around the relatively empty roads and car parks. My driving style, such as it was, could probably best be summed up as: extremely cautious. Personally, I don’t see why anyone feels the need to drive beyond 20k an hour, what’s everyone in such a hurry for?? Marc did suggest coming to a full stop before every turn was probably a tad unnecessary so, you know, lessons learnt and all that, but importantly no humans or cars were harmed during my maiden drive. And on a scale of ‘1 to divorce’ I’d say the trip didn’t even hit ‘trial separation’. Although Marc did swiftly shift into driving instructor mode and had me park ten times in the same spot to give me a feel for the size of the vehicle…. But let’s say that was fair enough. We did decide regular practice every weekend would probably be wise, or our trip round Australia is going to be really, really long…

And Lotte? She slept the whole drive so clearly she had no complaints. She loooooves our car!

P1020962 P1020963

We bought a car!

4 Sep

There are 8 weekends left before we leave. 8!!!

It pretty much hit me at the beginning of the week, when I contemplated the number 8 and realised we hadn’t found fosters for our cats yet. Who will love our kitties?!?! And just thinking about that sent me into a spiral of nerves and stress that did not abate until I had reactivated my account and drafted an extensive Manchester Move checklist.

Cuz otherwise, how would I remember that I should probably get all our medical records from our doctors to bring back to England? Or that I need to order enough contact lenses to tide me over until I can get an eye test back in the UK? Or that we need to lodge our tax returns before we go? Or that we should cancel our direct debit to the swim school before the end of the swimming term so we’re not paying for Lotte’s swimming lessons after we’ve left? How? How?

Lists are my friend.

And given a significant proportion of my to-do list is comprised of cat-related tasks, I resolved to cajole some friends into committing to cat fostering and get some quotes for kitty airplane fares (our most likely fosters are UK based). Can Nathalie find her cats a home and arrange their transport to their final destination? Stay tuned….

Meanwhile, Marc has been tackling Australia Roadtrip related details: car shopping swiftly turned into car buying on the weekend, and we are days away from picking up our very own Pajero – the first car we have EVER owned! Having never bought a car before, Marc’s anxiety levels over having made the correct decision have been fluctuating wildly and dramatically, though on the whole, we tend to land fairly solidly on ‘right decision, good choice.’ Now we have to turn it into our home for three months, so Marc is in full ‘kitting out your 4WD’ research mode.

My mind drifts back occasionally to that evening in Darwin when Marc first raised the idea of buying our own car rather than renting a car or campervan.  It was still early in our trip, we weren’t quite campervan pros yet and had spent a somewhat uncomfortable night sharing our not-so roomy rooftop-adjacent bed with a jetlagged Lotte the night before, so the prospect of campervanning for 3 months didn’t fill us with delight. And Marc had been thinking about our epic upcoming trip and saw it marred somewhat by restrictions on rental cars, such as not being able to go off-road much. The idea of buying took hold and wouldn’t let go, even when raising it with me resulted in my having a bit of a panic attack at the thought of us, inexperienced and with a baby in tow, taking on the responsibility of buying and kitting out a car for this purpose when we’d never done anything like it before. I got the shakes and everything! Yet, much like the idea of moving to Manchester was met with derision by Marc at first mention, this was another idea that settled over us and grew gradually to the point where we now OWN A CAR.

We’re nothing if not open-minded and adventurous….

Moving on…

25 Aug

Our Australian adventure is coming to an end. There, it’s written down, so it must be real because I’ve finally committed it to the internet, and we all know everything on the internet is real….

It’s been just over three years and I can still remember arriving in Australia, wandering down a less than inviting Smith Street on a drizzly afternoon, wondering if this was really the place we’d – fairly randomly – picked to live in for the forseeable future. However, my trepidation was extremely short-lived, as Melbourne welcomed us with open arms and quickly became a much-loved home. How bittersweet to realise that in a few months we will be moving on to pastures new.

In fact, I’m finding that I can’t describe quite how it is affecting me. Because we have so many reasons to stay (and just writing that tugs at my heartstrings). But ultimately, we think, better reasons to go. And that’s the crux of it really: thinking about staying in Melbourne is all about the heart, because we know and love our life here intimately and are so very emotionally attached. We love our home and our neighbourhood, we had our daughter here, we’ve made friends and had adventures. Lotte’s whole life has taken place here, and when we go, she’s unlikely to remember it (why does that sting more than I’d like to admit?).  Thinking about moving to Manchester, our soon-to-be new home, is much more of an intellectual exercise, with exciting new job prospects and internet house hunting all part of the fun. Of course, the big emotional draw is the proximity to family and the feeling we are returning to our home country (yes, yes Dutch by passport, English by nature), but we can’t feel as much about Manchester as we can about Melbourne.

So let’s not try. Let’s accept that this will hurt, that occasionally, on a beautiful weekend day after we’ve had brunch and played with Lotte in the local playground and ate an ice cream, we will say ‘why are we leaving again?’ That we might swallow a bit hard on Lotte’s last day at childcare when all the wonderful carers say good-bye and hand us a book with pictures they’ve taken of her over the past year. That we will look at our empty house once the movers have packed it all up and shipped it out and feel a pang of regret at closing the door on a wealth of happy memories. These things will hurt, and we will have to hold on to the idea that what is coming next could be better, will make us just as happy in a totally different way, holds untold promise. Because it could be, and will, and does. That’s why we’re doing it.

And what better way to ease the pain than to plan an exciting and unforgettable (c’mon Lotte, be one of those people that has flashes of memory from an early, early age) road-trip around Australia and New Zealand? Research into cars and camping gear is well under way, Marc has been plotting a route for weeks, and budgets are being calculated. This weekend we went to the 4X4 Outdoors Show and checked out the disconcerting array of touring and camping gear available out there. Cars, tents, communications equipment, water tanks, cargo drawers, camp cooking equipment, GPS kit – everything we could possibly need and most things we wouldn’t. We entered every competition there, so fingers crossed we win one of the cars on offer!

Even Lotte got into the spirit of things:


I’m really hoping I’ll be able to get into the habit of blogging regularly from our trip, if only to have a record of the fantastic experiences we are bound to have. With that in mind, I’ve resolved to start getting back into blogging starting…now.


25 May

Big day, big day, Lotte is FIN-ally saying ‘Mamma!’

‘Pappa’ and ‘Dada’ have been in use for weeks to address Daddy dearest, but every time we’ve gone ‘Lotte, say “mamma”‘ I’d get:


‘Say: Mammmma’


Then, today, I come back from the supermarket and as I’m putting groceries away, my little angel walks into the kitchen casually saying ‘mamma, mamma’ like she’d been doing it forever. And my heart was a little puddle on the floor.

What a neverending, wondrous delight a little person is. Every day gives us cause for celebration, who doesn’t want to live in a world like that? Our 16 month old blows on her food after watching me do it to cool it down. She can blow bubbles with the bubble liquid. She can stack cups. And she can pour water from a cup onto her bath Lego water tower. She loves putting the blue circle in the correct hole of her sorting box but has no interest in the other shapes. She eats snacks quickly until she has a small piece left which she then holds onto and eats very slowly, not wanting it to be finished. She looooves see saws and rocking toys (must acquire rocking horse soon), and swings and slides and steps, ohmigod steps are the best. Anything she can climb is the best. Tickling her belly button is THE BEST. She loves going to bed, and is so happy when we put her in she blows us kisses. She is learning to cuddle cuddly toys, though we can tell she does it because we’ve shown her and we react delightedly, not because she loves them. She’ll bring us most things we ask for. She’ll open and close doors if we ask her to. She puts things in baskets, drawers, cupboards, the washing machine, or dishwasher when asked. She brings us shoes and remotes when not asked. She loves Poddington. She likes washing her hands but not drying. My hair dryer freaks her out. Our touch responsive bedside lamps delight her. She loves blinking back when we blink at her. She knows where her nose is. Her words currently include:
Bubbles, cat, cow, baaaa (for sheep), kikker (Dutch for frog), turtle, no (nonono in an oddly Scottish accent) hello/hi, op (dutch for ‘finished’), bal, pappa/dada, and mamma. Also oh-oh, oh-dear, and oh-k.

You’d be forgiven for thinking we’re basically spending all our time obsessing over the awesomeness that is our daughter, and mostly you’d be right, but Life is not one to let you simply sit around making googly eyes at your offspring… It is forever asking you to pay attention and think fast by throwing unexpected balls your way. One such ball came rolling into our life a little while ago and has caused us to consider our options. The end result is yet to be confirmed, but as things stand, next year is going to be very interesting…..

Happy New Year!

4 Jan

Aaaaaaaand it’s 2014! Happy New Year everyone, hope you all celebrated in style. Our house was, of course, party central, with Lotte in bed by 6.30 and the two of us enjoying a barbecue feast followed by a high octane game of Super Scrabble whilst quaffing the sparkling wine. Good times…  Notable also, for it being Marc’s first ever viewing of Dinner For One – yay for European mainland traditions migrating to Australia! And yes, we totally watched the Vienna Philharmonic’s New Year’s Concert as well, only of course over here we’re watching it in our pjs in the evening rather than the morning….

So how to evaluate the year that’s been?? It’s been a ride, that’s for sure, and like the best rides, it was over before we knew it. We started out hugely pregnant, and (let’s all do the maths) ended here, with an 11 month toddler racing around our furniture. Just, how?

I’m not one for making the big New Year’s resolutions, but I think if I did decide to commit to something it would be to write down more of what is happening in our lives. If I’ve learned anything, looking back on the past year, it’s that moments are fleeting, and there’s only so much space in your head to hold it all. I can already feel some of the precious memories trickling out of my mind like so much sand in the wind…

In the first few days after her birth, Lotte had this way of holding her arms like a flamenco dancer and we’d shout ‘Ole!’ every time she did it. She also threw up her arms in an exasperated way which we liked to accompany with a hearty ‘Mamma Mia!’ When she started discovering her hands, and saw these little appendages floating in front of her, the look on her face read: ‘Mind Blown!’ When she was just beginning to explore the toys on her playgym, the monkey was the best because of the little balls inside, but the zebra was good for sucking on. For a little while she responded joyfully to Mamma singing ‘In een Groen Knollenland.’She would climb all over Mamma during family Skype sessions but take periodic microsecond ‘little rests’ by resting her head briefly on Mamma’s shoulder and popping her two fingers in her mouth. Pram Bunny came with us for a long time in the beginning, but was eventually replaced by Pram Octopus, which brought her great joy when she discovered she could squeeze one of the tentacles and it would make a squeaky sound. Similarly, her face lights up every time someone squeezes her playgym whale and it starts playing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. She loves duckies. She loves Weetbix. Everything must be pulled off the footstool. All tissues must be pulled out of the tissue box. Her bottom teeth coming in led to ‘duckie face’ for a while. When she sneezes she adorably scrunches her face together at the end. Lately she leans over to lick things in front of her. She loves having a fan waved at her. Feeding Poddington brings on the giggles. Hippo puppet brings on the giggles. Rough and tumble on the sofa with Daddy brings on the giggles. She hoovers up spaghetti but spits out watermelon. She likes swimming, but not the swim instructor. Splashing is fun, especially in the cat water bowl. Banging is the best (she is going to be a drummer…or a carpenter…).

For 2014: Must. Remember. The.  Little. Things.


23 Oct

It’s raining, and I’m huddled on the sofa with a cup of tea and a blanket draped over me to keep out the chill. It’s autumn.

Ok, no it’s not, it’s spring, but a mere two and a half years spent living In the Southern Hemisphere is not enough for my brain to equate a drizzly day in October with anything other than an impending winter. Never mind that it hit 31 degrees on the weekend, or that everything in our garden tripled in size over the past week, or that I’m investing a lot of effort lately in convincing Lotte that hats are de rigeur and there is no need to pull them off her pretty little head the moment they make contact. Today, for all intents and purposes, it’s an autumn afternoon, and I’ve purposely kept the tv off just in case Meyers start their Christmas advertising early and weird me out with people in swimwear trying to sell me barbecues for the holiday season.

I will swan about in cardigan and slippers (yeah, I’ve got this yummy mummy thing down), drink tea, check out all the spiced lattes and hat/scarf combos on my Facebook feed, and, I don’t know, cook pasta for dinner? Then I will hope for normal service to resume and summer to get back on track, because, as much as I like to wax nostalgic about the snuggly autumn days of yore, I can’t wait for days at the pool, trips to the beach, barbecues, picnics, shorts and t-shirts and my baby’s first holiday season – she’s too young to question the appropriateness of snowmen and mulled wine in 40 degree heat, right?

Don’t be bringing your plague into work

13 Oct

How parenting appears to work:

1. Other parents tell you all sorts of things that are going to happen

2. You acknowledge that, yes, realistically, all those things are likely, but somehow don’t believe those things will happen to you

3. All the things

Most recent case in point, the gloriously, infinitely dynamic Petri dish that is daycare. Did we accept that our little girl got a cold during her daycare induction, before I even returned to work? Fine, sure, they all get that…. Some other parents mumbled something about an average of 14 colds in the first year, but, you know, people can be so dramatic. Then there was the weekend of the mysterious fever. We were weirdly impressed that she managed to avoid getting a fever until she was 7 months (like our excellent parenting somehow kept her body temperature from rising? Strange things to be proud of that have nothing to do with your abilities is an entirely different blog post), but here it was, so we measured temperatures, kept her mostly naked and sat around a lot while she slept more than usual. FINE, we can deal.

THEN there was the weekend of weird clinginess (oh no, is this separation anxiety? Why does she only want mummy and not anyone else? Why does she only want to be held? Why doesn’t she want to play….oh…she’s sick…). It seemed innocuous enough, she was over it in a few days and didn’t even miss a day of childcare – okidoki then. Only….I did get a bit of a sore throat by the time she was well again…. Naturally I studiously ignored it for a few days as the pain got worse, my appetite left me and colour drained from the world, but eventually I submitted to the evil that is tonsillitis and curled into bed with a bucketload of penicillin.

Thank goodness Marc was all right….oh…oh no, strike that, just as I was recovering his throat started to hurt… Immediate visit to the doc for penicillin sadly did not prevent him being wiped out for a week (well, he was on the mend by Thursday, but folks at his work were strangely NOT keen on seeing him appear on Friday…. )

Well that was certainly fun, no more thank you please. Oh, you’ve got hand, foot and mouth tearing through daycare now you say? Ten babies out? Well, Lotte certainly doesn’t appear to have anyth……oh. That’s nappy rash, right? RIGHT? No? Hand, foot and mouth after all? Gotta keep her home? Well, ok then. Who needs to work anyway?

That was this past week. Can’t wait to see what next week brings!

At least she recovered quickly and managed to avoid getting blisters all over herself, so we didn’t have to rebook our portrait session at the photographer again (I’m looking at you, mysterious fever). Just as well we don’t do this kind of thing often, cuz these photographer types are good – not just at taking beautiful photos, but also convincing you to spend your life savings on wall art. We came home significantly poorer than we set off, but we’re very much looking forward to seeing the final pieces. Unsurprisingly, our daughter is the most beautiful, photogenic child on the planet.