Saturday, June 28, 2008

Red noses, red eyes

Yesterday was Red Nose Day. Every year I'll buy a pen or make a donation, but this year was different. Because on Monday one of E's little friends at family daycare was buried. He died of SIDS and that is the cause that Red Nose Day funds go to.
I couldn't let the day pass without doing something - neither could R, our carer. She hasn't slept properly since L died. I guess we just were looking for something, anything that could provide some kind of outlet for what we feel at the moment (her even more so than me - she loves all the children that she looks after like they are her own).
And so on Thursday we hit upon the idea of having just a small afternoon tea the following day - coffee and cake at R's house when all the parents arrived after work to pick up the children. We would all gather, eat a little, have a chat and make a donation to the Red Nose Day cause.
We let the boy's parents know we were doing this, and collecting money in memory of L, and they decided to come along.
Their grief is raw.
And how I admire them for getting up and coming out and visiting the place where, just weeks ago, their little boy used to be looked after, and seeing the other children who will grow up and play and laugh when their son will not.
They sat quietly at times while the rest of us talked about work, kids, daily life. But they also joined in, saying things like "L used to do that".
I wonder how I would react if I were in their shoes - would I have met up with the parents of the other kids at daycare if I had buried a child four days ago? I suspect I would not. And yet I realised as we talked that those poor people must go on, they have to remember that L was here. He was here. We knew him, we adored him. We will not forget him. Perhaps when you have lost a child who could not yet speak well, you feel an even stronger need to cling to his presence on this earth ... I'm not sure why I think that; maybe because words inform so much of what we perceive as individual character?
Arriving at R's place we all gave the parents a hug and said how sorry we were. The words are pitifully inadequate yet still we all, of course, offered them. There were lots of tears, but there was laughter too - it's hard to articulate, but in that kitchen there was almost this sense of solidarity, of a quiet kindness that goes beyond words. About 15 of us went, we all lingered, leaving only when the kids were ready to be taken home to bed.
To just be there is all we can do.
Last night I couldn't sleep for thinking about the pain those lovely people have had to endure, but today I feel a kind of warmth when I think of the dozen or so people who just came, looked some fellow parents in the eye, offered a hug and then sat and chatted with them.
It was only a small gesture, but I hope it has helped them ... if even just a little.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Flying high

The lady who looks after E recently visited China on a holiday and she came back with kites for all the kids. Yesterday we went across the road (we're fortunate enough to live one house from a large expanse of park) and flew it. E hasn't ever seen a kite in real life. He was most taken.

It was a reasonably windy afternoon and the kite flew without too much trouble (and despite the fact we used too-heavy twine as the string). It was up...

It was down ... and tangled (of course).

I'd forgotten how much fun it is to run as fast as you can with the wind in your face and a kite fluttering behind you. So much fun.

I think he liked it too.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Life sucks sometimes

It feels a bit wrong to sit here and write this post, treacherous almost. Because what I am about to write about - thank God - is not my grief, not my pain. I'm merely standing on the perimeter of it.
E goes to Family Day Care while I work and we dropped him off this morning to hear the devastating news the one of the little boys who also goes has died of cot death. He was 18 months old.
By 18 months you think you're out of the woods. Worse (if it could actually be worse - possibly not) is that it happened when the family were overseas on a holiday. It also happened in the middle of the day when the boy was laying down for a nap with his dad.
All of us who knew him feel heartbroken beyond words. But that is nothing compared to what his parents must feel. That we cannot know.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


One of the first projects I have in my new job is writing a rather large story on kitchens and bathrooms. The following piccies are not featured in it (for I am not that silly!) but they give you an idea of what I am spending my working hours looking at.

There's the amethyst bath - seriously. Now, amethyst is my birthstone but I'm not sure I'd like to bathe in a chunk of it. Distinctive or too OTT? What do you think?

There's the stone basin. More organic, more my style...

I dig this bathroom too...

And how 'bout a loo with a stripy lid?

So imagine the blow when I come home to my rented home and lay eyes on my teeny-tiny, extremely out-of-date bathroom:


Monday, June 16, 2008

Disturbing at the library

Occasionally I take E to storytime at the local library. He loves it. The librarian puts a heap of effort into entertaining the kids and the stories he reads are always fantastic.

But there's a problem. Nothing to do with the library or the stories: it's the mums.

Well, one mum in particular. I just can't bear to watch what she does to her little girl. The daughter is about 3 and every week this particular mother pushes (literally) the child forward in front of the group to do a dance or read a story or some other little thing.

I should add at this point that the girl in question is not especially outgoing or effusive. In fact, I would say she is quite shy.

Truly, it makes me cringe to see the girl made to do that sort of thing ... all so the mum can glow in the "oh, isn't she so clever" praise. I guess that, as a person who's always been fairly shy, I would hate that. And so I feel the girl's pain.

While that mum continues to go the storytime sessions I will not be going. I can't bear it!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


Ready to check this out? It's the most lovely setting in which to eat lunch. This is an old mill turned five-star restaurant in Montenegro. Spectacular food, unbelievable setting. Here's the full view:

Oh dear, the things we do for a moment's amusement on a rainy afternoon at home...!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Montenegro, here we go...

Until a few months ago it would never have occurred to me to travel to Montenegro. I mean, why would you? So little is known about the place - while we were planning our holiday there a couple of people asked me if it was off Africa (they were thinking Madagascar) and others thought it was in South America.
When Shaun's mum moved there I had to get out our dusty atlas from the bookshelf and check where it was. I studied history when I was in school, so I realised it was half the 'Serbia Montenegro' duo ... but little else.
I had so few expectations of what the place might be like. The guidebook I flipped before we went hinted at its natural beauty (got it in spades) but I guess with a country that's so close to Bosnia and Albania you do have to wonder...
So imagine how wonderful it was to arrive there and find this...

Shaun and I both nominate the place above as being our favourite in Montenegro. It's a small town called Kotor, and it boasts a very pretty Old Town. After a few hours of walking E around and around the cobblestoned alleys in an attempt to kept him to sleep (didn't work), we left him with his nan and trekked up to the top of the hill behind the town.
There's steps all the way up, past stands of cypress and olives, to the fortress that has watched over the town for centuries. It was a beautifully sunny day and there was something about our feet crunching up that rocky path that gave us a very strong sense of walking in the footsteps of ancients. As the path winds up, you pass a series of picturesque and (amazingly) unvandalised churches and shrines. The view from almost everywhere is postcard perfect.
Because not only do you look over the sweet red roofs and spires of the Old Town, you look out to an impossibly jade fjord.
Just magical.

Want to see more of Montenegro? Here are a couple more pics...

This is Petrovac. The water is amazing, but not as amazing as the view out to a small, rocky island just offshore that has a tiny little church perched at its peak. It was Orthodox Easter when we visited - loads of people gave E boiled eggs and (quite surprisingly) he ate most of them.

The following photo was taken on the day we drove up to the mountains. We thought it would be about 3 hours to get there, so off we go. Roadworks (x3) delay us but we got there in about 4 hours. We got stuck in a traffic jam and it took NINE hours to get home.
Yep, nine hours ... but that's a story for another post.