Remember December

Goodness, goodness me. I’m going to forge ahead as if I hadn’t just, once again, abandoned my blog for a few weeks.
I apologise for all phone pictures – Devin broke the on/off switch on my proper camera a month ago and I haven’t had it fixed yet.

Devin was not terribly interested in Christmas – when we put up the tree, he ran away and left me to put it together myself, and then when it came to decorating it, he sat underneath like this and played with the one light-up bauble that he has been enamoured with since he was four months old.

I made this felt tree to try to make things a little more interactive and exciting, but he didn’t play with it. At all.

We’ve had gross, suffocating heat over the past month. Very little rain, few breaks in the high temperatures. Before Christmas, I’d feel smug that we had entire sports fields to ourselves while everyone was busy shopping, but we’d all be dripping with sweat after ten minutes and would end up skulking back to the cool retreat of shopping centres, anyway. I stopped to take a group shot after one of our run arounds, and…

I don’t handle heat well. With temperatures in the high 30s and low 40s (Celsius), I’ve given up on the exercise routine I was doing so well with. I feel sick a lot, and my hair is driving. me. nuts. I have to put it up to get it off my neck, but wearing even the loosest ponytail gives me a pounding headache. I can’t afford a haircut at the moment, and I’m starting to contemplate just chopping it all off myself. I prefer my hair longer, but this is painful. (And that’s not purposeful ombre or balayage colouring – that’s just the remains of when my hair was red. Sigh.)

Speaking of hair, Jene’s is super long now. Longer than mine at its longest, I believe. We shaved it all off around January 2009, and it hasn’t seen a pair of scissors since.

I entered a competition on the lmnop magazine blog to win a nanoblock pack… and promptly forgot about it. A couple of weeks later, I received this package in the mail. Being close to Christmas, I wondered how I had accidentally ordered all these nanoblocks (and how on Earth I had afforded it). It took me about five minutes to realise where they’d come from. We gave the drum kit one to a local Christmas toy drive, along with some other things.

Devin finished his third term of music class, and held his record of never cracking a smile at anyone, ever.

I found a rather embarrassed Banana-sans-Pyjamas in the ravaged toy section of Big W.

Our Christmas gift to Devin was a doll (this one – it smells like vanilla and sweet things), a pram and some handmade doll nappies and blanket (made by a friend of Georgia of Documenting Delight). I asked Devin what he wanted to name the doll, he asked me for suggestions, and latched on to the very first name out of my mouth – Patrick. I regret it a little now, because although it was very nearly Devin’s middle name, I’ve come to associate it with Spongebob Squarepants. But, Patrick it is. I also made up the three little felt guys as a last minute addition.
My parents gave him a Slip n Slide and a trampoline (why yes, he is the first and only grandchild, how did you know…), both of which he was initially wary of. I had to show him how the Slip n Slide works, and then we resorted to just holding his hands and dragging him along it. The trampoline was still unassembled on Christmas Day – we showed him the picture on the box and said, “look, a trampoline!” and he responded with, “yeah, can I splash in the pond now?”

My sister gave me this sign, which is pretty much the perfect expression of how I feel about my life.

I managed to see the very last glows of sunlight on Christmas Eve.

And finally, on New Year’s Eve, I rediscovered a nursery that I’d forgotten about, and found that it had become a lovely, peaceful place to wander around, have a coffee and let Devin play.

Although Devin was not happy when Jene place him atop this stump.

September scenes

An easy post, my body is once again at war against hostile foreign invaders (cold/flu redux). And also harmless foreign invaders (pollen). Spring is my least favourite season.
If you’re into Pinterest, you can see my awesome taste here.
You can also find me on Instagram (I’m so ‘with it’) as ‘mielabelo’. Someone had already taken my preferred user name, and of course they have never used the account. Internet Problems.

August ends

I think I mentioned here that I recently made a rash decision to order an iPhone on a plan. It was a Big Deal, because I’ve never been inclined towards fancy phones, and I’ve been on the same prepaid number since 2005. (I was a little sad to let go of the phone number…)
Since I’ve had it, Devin likes to ask if he can “play with you, Mummy?” – but he doesn’t mean play with me, he means play with my phone. He only gets limited time on it, but his favourite games are the ones by Toca Boca.

This was Devin ‘reading’ Silverthorn by Raymond E. Feist. The cover features a man riding a horse, so Devin’s interpretation of the story was, “One morning, a horse came to get him…”
All of his stories begin with ‘one morning.’
(Ithoroughly enjoyed both Magician and Silverthorn, and I’m about to start A Darkness At Sethanon. I found myself close to tears in parts because I was just so happy – it was such a nice change from the cold, sweaty feeling I constantly had while reading A Game of Thrones.)

August saw some very cold mornings, and for a few days in a row we’d go outside to pull out the ice from Devin’s pool and then stomp on the huge shards. It was like glass.

This is a novelty to an Australian, ok?

But perhaps not to this poor fellow.

Back to the burnt gully. We’ve had some really windy days…

… but they have been beautiful.

Who did he buy the rocket for?

Devin’s favourite thing to do, ever, is dig. Just to dig. Anywhere, with anything. There are all these little holes everywhere around the property…

He also likes saying ‘magic’. There are a couple of sparkly hats around, and they are ‘magic hats!’
Jene told me he was bugging Devin in some (non-magic-related) way, and Devin, becoming increasingly frustrated, said, “Stop it… Stop it!… You’re not magic!”

Generally we three are not perturbed by cold (though I’m not a walking furnace like Jene and Devin are), and we go out in all kinds of weather, but this day was especially bitter and windy and I wasn’t in the greatest mood…


… And that’s how I felt about that.

And finally. Grandma and Poppy’s birthday present to Devin was this bike, so I set to work teaching him how to pedal, and actually, it only took him a couple of sessions to get it. He is very (very) much like me in that he is stubborn and easily frustrated when learning, so I can have trouble teaching him new things.
There were plenty of exasperated sighs and grunts and “I tan’t DO IT!!”s, but he did do it, and we were very proud.
And yep, he has fallen off, and crashed into the wall… I helped him up, dusted him off and (after making sure he was ok) explained that that sometimes happens when we’re learning something new, and he’d get better with practice. He got back on both times.

Overcoming anxiety and being rewarded with an awesome outcome…

… I could stop and think of a snappier title, but that sums it up, really.

Play School is an iconic Australian television show for kids. It’s been running since 1966 and is the second longest running children’s show in the world. Two presenters sing, dance, tell stories and make crafts on a variety of simple sets, with the aid of equally iconic toys with names like Big Ted, Little Ted, Jemima, Scrap and Humpty.
(Excuse the dry introduction, I’m trying to lay some background details.)
There are also often live Play School performances that tour the country – and they really tour it, they don’t just visit the capital cities. I remember my mum taking us to at least one of these, and of course we grew up watching the show on TV.
I knew there was going to be a show here, and I was so excited to take Devin, but by the time we had money to buy tickets, they were sold out. I was extremely disappointed; this is not a city where live entertainment abounds, let alone live entertainment for kids. Every time I saw a poster or heard mention of it for the next month, I would sigh heavily and relive the disappointment.

On Thursday, the day before the show, we made a spur-of-the-moment change of plans and went out to eat lunch, rather than stay at home. So spur-of-the-moment, in fact, that I had to drive all the way home and back (a twenty minute round trip) because I had forgotten my wallet. By the time we were eating it was almost 3:30pm.
Just as we were finishing and gazing around the shopping centre food court, Jene said, “Hey, that’s Jay Laga’aia.”
And so it was, just he and another man (actually Bill the piano player for the show) wandering around the (quite small) complex.
I stared and thought. Should I take Devin and speak to him? Maybe ask for a photo? This was a rare opportunity. I’d never encountered someone well-known before. But no one else was approaching him – did they not recognise him, or were they just as shy as me? My heart was pounding as I grappled with conflicting feelings of anxiety and urgency.
Jene continued to urge me to do it, and finally, as they were heading out the doors, I found myself walking in their direction almost without thinking.
I had Devin by the hand, and I ushered him ahead of me as I apologised for interrupting. I introduced Devin to Jay, and Jay to Devin. Jay asked if we were coming to see the show, and I said that we’d missed out on tickets, so we were saying hello now.
“Oh, no! Hmm, well, I’ll you what Devin – you bring Mum along tomorrow anyway, get her to give me a call, and I’ll get you both in, free of charge.”
At this point my hands were shaking uncontrollably and I could barely grasp the card he handed me. I could feel the familiar flush spreading from my chest to my face. I thanked him very much and said we’d see him tomorrow, and just as we were walking away, Devin asked me, rather loudly, “Who’s that?”
Double flush.
Throughout the encounter Jene had taken himself off out of sight, and the first thing he said to me was how red I was. Wonderful.
Regardless, I felt incredible. I could scarcely believe I had done that. Me.

That night, I suddenly realised I would need a phone with credit to make the call the next morning. Frustrated with credit recharges and possibly feeling the last pulses of adrenalin from earlier, I impulsively ordered a phone on a plan before arranging to take Jene’s mobile with me in the morning. This is noteworthy because when I made the call and it went to message bank, I tried to hang up – and couldn’t. The phone wouldn’t respond. Jay Laga’aia would’ve received a voice mail of me saying, “Ohhh, it won’t hang up, Devy!”, frantic tapping and fumbling, Devin whinging and me hissing, “Devin!”, before I finally resorted to switching the phone off.
I bravely turned it back on and tried again; this time when it went to voice mail, I was able to hang up, glory of glories.
(I didn’t leave a message because… well, I froze. I can hardly deal with answering machines in normal circumstances, let alone incredibly unusual ones like this.)
A few minutes later, Jay called back, and soon Devin and I were in the auditorium, waiting for the show to start.

Devin picked a Humpty and shared his Le Snack… while making faces. Because, I don’t know. He’s a three-year-old.


The show went for 45 minutes, which is just about perfect. You can see the emphasis is on imagination – the washing basket was a tractor and a boat.

Devin was becoming rather fidgety by the end, complaining that he was hungry, but I wanted to wait for an autograph and thank Jay again. We didn’t have a long wait in line – they were lovely and friendly to everyone but still moved quickly because they had another show to perform soon after. We reached Abby first, she signed a card for Devin and slid it over to Jay as he was finishing with the kids in front of us. When he saw Devin’s name, he looked up to find him and gave him the most enthusiastic greeting.

Though they hadn’t really been stopping for photos, he told me to put Devin up on the table so I could get a picture. Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t get Devin to look away from the signed cards, but he did at least nod and say “yes” when Jay asked him if he’d enjoyed the show, which is more than the blank stare that he usually gives people. I said we’d had a great time and thanked him very much, and we said goodbye.

After a quick regroup on the stage and a closer examination of the autographs, we headed out to get some morning tea at the cafe downstairs. (Well, eventually, after Devin had watched the glass-walled lift go up and down a few times.)
Just as we had almost finished, both of us feeling calmer and refreshed, I got another call from Jay. He said he hoped we’d had a good time, asked what we were doing for the day and told me what his day entailed, and passed on his best wishes for Devin.
Such an amazingly nice guy!

I felt incredible after all of that. Proud of doing something for Devin that resulted in a positive chain of events for both of us. I really can’t articulate how significant this was for me… All I can say is, the me of even three months ago would not have done any of this.

I felt so buoyed by the experience that I let Devin ride up and down the carpark lift (a novelty in this city) for a while, and when we got home I registered us both to volunteer for National Tree Day – which is a story for another post.

So thanks, Jay Laga’aia – your kindness had more of an impact than you probably realise.

Dev quotes, part 2

Devin likes to have a turn at my make-up when he sees it, so I put a tiny bit of powder on a brush for him to use on his cheeks. One day he examined the brush and decided he didn’t want it any more, so I told him to brush it on my cheeks.
“There. Nice and dorgeous,” he declared when he was done.
I didn’t know he even knew that word.

Dev: “Yook, a planet! A planet!”
Liss: “Oh, a planet.”
Dev: “Venus, it’s Venus! Venus! Venus!”
Liss: “Yes, Venus.”
Dev: “Venus coming, too. Him coming home with us.” (Because we were in the car and Venus was ‘following’ us.)
This was his reaction every time, as if each evening he was just astounded that Venus was there. Again.

“I take a picture of your… butt.”

Walking home from feeding our neighbours’ dogs, Devin told me out of the blue,
“Your name is Dewey.”
“Dewey? Um. Ok,” I said. (No idea where ‘Dewey’ came from.)
“You name sister.”
“Sister?”
“Yes. There’s a baby in your belly?” He gave my tummy a pat.
“Uh, no Devy, there isn’t.”
“Yes! There IS a baby in your belly!”

Matter-of-factly – “You’re not a dog, you’re Daddy.”

As I was  rubbing cream on his cheeks –
“What’s that?”
“It’s stuff for your dry skin, to make it soft.”
“Oh, yuck.”

After reading Tree Ring Circus –
Devin: “I read a book. Where the beginning?”
Flick, flick. There it is.
Devin: “Hmm… I tan’t sure what it is.”
Liss: “It says, ‘One seed in the ground, three miles out of town.'”
Devin: “Ohhh, that what you mean.”
pause
Devin: “This is difficult.”

Having told me earlier that he loves doing hard work –
Dev: “Bye.”
Liss: “Bye. Are you off to do more hard work?”
Dev: “Yes. Because I’m a man.”
Liss: “Hm.”
Dev: *hops on tricycle* “I’m going to ride on my big bike.”
Again, I don’t know where this ‘because I’m a man’ business has come from.

Devin: “You be a fire engine.”
Liss: “Ok.”
Devin walks away.
Liss: “Hang on, what are you going to be?”
Devin: “I be a person sitting here watching.”


“No, I have not two legs!” (In response to me asking if he would walk.)

Devin: “Delicious.”
Liss: “Your banana is delicious?”
Devin: “Yes. Everybody knows it.”
Later…
Liss: “Devin, you can’t open your door from the inside because the child lock is on. That’s because little boys and girls sometimes like to open their doors when their mummies and daddies are driving.”
Devin: “Everybody knows it. ”

Dev: “What’s his name?”
Liss: “Well, it’s a Triceratops…”
pause
Dev: “His name is Mummy.”

Watching me clean the rice cooker –
Dev: “Why you cleaning it?”
Liss: “Well, Devin, you tell me, why do we clean things?”
Dev: “Uhhh…. *silence*… I have two thumbs.”

And various other common phrases –
“But um…”
“That’s mines!”
“So what’s your plan?”
“Diggy hup.” (Giddy-up)
“Wallace and Gumpit/Dumpit.” (Wallace and Gromit)
“I stay here my own self.”
An “ayg” is an egg, a “borsch” is a brush, but a “paint brusher” is a paintbrush. Milk is “malk”, DVD is “deebee deebee”, and ant is “aunt” because he pronounces plant the same way as Jene (plahnt).
And “wocka-ded” is his own made-up word that he uses when he’s being silly.


Not that he would know anything about that…