December 25, 2004

a momentary lapse of season

so... pumpkin ... it's christmas.

your dad is having trouble typing, as is should be expected at this time orf year.

it is about 839PM on christmas evening, and i am writing to you to say that i have not forgotten you on the most festive day of the year.

we had a fabulous time at your grandfather's house in Thornbury. We missed you but it was good that Emma and Ben were there. I think I should got to bed now, your mum has called a cab, to go to the airport in the morning, (at 1 farking am)) i will talk t you later.

ps i have had somee bereeeress//....\\\

love you.

December 20, 2004

Monday I've got Friday on my mind...

Today's the last Monday of the year for me at work. My day is filled today with tidying up loose ends, finishing off languishing projects and making sure I'll have a clean start when I get back in January.

Your mum's at home this week. She's doing much the same thing at home as I am at work. She's painting things and cleaning, getting the house ready for our guests. For your guests.

You see, apart from the fact that Lovely Lorraine and Jonny are coming to visit us at Christmas, for their first taste of Australia, there are other guests on the way.

Your grandparents, pumpkin, are coming to see you.

Now, let it be said here that I dearly love both your grandfather and your grandmother. That they have consistently shown me acceptance, genorosity and kindness. That they have welcomed me (along with my entire family) into their hearts and their home.

I'm terrified.

What if I'm not doing it properly? Heaven forbid they will decide I'm not being a proper husband or father-to-be. They might take Eve away.

What if your grandfather doesn't think I'm going to be a decent dad? What happens then?

It's all very scary, pumpkin, very scary indeed. I'm not sure that I'm really equipped for this.

Which brings us to the whole question. Am I prepared to be your dad? Certainly I'm trying to get ready for it, but I'm not sure that I'm going about this the right way.

In any case, I love you.

December 18, 2004

It's only rock and roll, but I like it.

Pumpkin, you just went to your first gig.

The Dresden Dolls are a loopy Boston based duo who use piano and drums to rock out. I think you'll like their music, but I'm pretty sure that you won't understand what the songs are all about until you're at least 17, angst ridden, and deeply involved in a love that has never before been experienced by any person living on earth ever, then have that love shattered into a thousand pieces of sorrow by an unfeeling and uncaring world.

As we arrived at the venue, having traipsed up many stairs into a dark, smoky, hot and steamy room, your mum looked around at the litany of cute little goths with waistcoats and bowler hats, pigtails and massive shoes. She poked me and pointed to a couple in much more ordinary clothes, and said in my ear "they don't look like they belong here". I laughed and looked down at my jeans and Blundstones. "We don't look like we belong here either", I said.

But we rocked out, pumpkin. I even threw the horns when Amanda and Bryan launched into an innovative, piano and drums version of War Pigs by Black Sabbath.

Long live rock and roll.

oh, and by the way,

your Dad still loves you. And despite everything else that happens in your life, Pumpkin, remember that at this moment, right now, your Dad remembers what it was like to be 17.

December 17, 2004

Ding dong merrily on thigh

Christmas cheer abounds at this time of year. There's tons of flashing lights and frazzled shoppers clutching frantically for the last box of quality street. People speak of Christmas wishes, happy holidays and family feasting.

For me, though, this Christmas is about you. About you not being here. About this being the last Christmas before you arrive. About this being the last Christmas we're going to spend without a child in our life.

This family hasn't had a Christmas full of children in quite a few years. Liz was the last child in my immediate family, and she turned 21 not too long ago. Requests, pumpkin, for gifts of Midori are not somehow as cute as handwritten notes to the fat man in the red suit asking for a Firetruck.

Of course, you already HAVE a firetruck, so there'll be no need for that anyway.

In any case, Christmas for me has for the last few years been about the food and wine, rather than concentrating so much on the presents. The phenomenal feasts that your Fantabulous Aunt Jann orchestrates are truly marvels to behold, and your Dad's no slouch with a turkey. I'm not sure, by next Christmas, that you'll be up to sampling some of the gastronomic delights on offer, but I assure you that in years to come you'll appreciate them. It's one thing to come from a family of big eaters, pumpkin, it's a different thing entirely to come from a family of big cookers.

There's around a week left to go until the big day. As usual, we're running behind time trying to get everyone's gifts organised, but I'm pretty sure we'll get there in the end.

\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\News Flash
\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\Your mum informs me that she just felt you kick for the first time. You want some turkey after all, I suppose. Hi there, kiddo, this is your father speaking. Be nice to your mum, we're going out tonight and I hope she can stay standing up for long enough to see this band.

Love you.

December 14, 2004

Nineteen, Nineteen, N-n-n-n-n-n-n-n-nineteen

So yesterday was an auspicious day, my punkling, We got to see you again.

The 19 week ultrasound was always going to be interesting. In our first one, at a little over 5 weeks, you were too small to see... At our second, at 13 weeks, you wriggled far too much to allow us to take a decent photo of you. The video we took at the 13 week ultrasound was similarly compromised, with some form of gremlin induced problem that wiped the entire thing when we watched it on our VCR.

So you see, pumpkin, we actually, until now, have had very little evidence of your existence that we could share with the world at large. Not that we need "evidence", I mean, no-one thinks that you're a pillow up your mum's shirt, but it will be nice for people to be able to see you.

We bought along your Glamorous Aunt Jann to see the fun, which I figured was only fair, seeing as how she was going to Take Your Mother Shopping, an event that is worthy of a post all to itself.

The process itself went off without a hitch, apart from the hiccups in my brain every now and then.

I think the stage at which I really started to freak was when the lovely ultrasound operator (Narelle this time) began the ultrasound. She put the device on your mum's belly (after thoughtfully warming the gel) and began telling us where your head was. I understood, to this point, that you were growing rapidly, but when Narelle said that your head was down below your mum's belly button, and that your feet were up by her ribcage, the enormity of the situation (and you) took me by surprise.

Apparently your 'pinhead longbody' tendencies are beginning to change, in favour of a more rounded and progressive growth spurt. This is good, but simultaneously terrifying in that you are getting exponentially larger with every passing day.

About 3/4 of the way through the procedure, I remembered that a trained ultrasound operator can easily tell a baby's sex at this juncture, and I asked Narelle if she knew if you were a girl or a boy. She smiled and replied with a resounding "YES!"

It was at this point that your mother poked me.

We had decided long ago, pumpkin, that we were not going to find out your gender until you pop out. That it's immaterial in how we're going to treat you, or what we're going to buy before you're born, and that for that reason we don't need to find out.

Having said that, being right there and having Narelle say that she knew right then was almost too much for me. I'm a big fan, pumpkin, of instant gratification, and your mother knows this.

Hence the poking.

Love you, whether you're a boy or a girl (and only Narelle knows).

December 09, 2004

always depending on the kindness of strangers


The amount of .....


Required in order to have a child is simply astronomical. I'm surprised the human race lasted this long. I mean without a bouncy bubby bassinet, how on earth did Winston Churchill's parents manage? We all know that it's obvious that such luminaries as Ghengis Khan obviously did not have a Phil and Ted's E3 stroller with optional pannier bags, or they would never have even considered rampaging through Asia and pillaging all that stuff.

With that in mind, my sweet pumpkin, we have been trawling various giant babystores (of which I have spoken before), but also, being thrifty folk, we have put out our feelers to see who wants to give what away.

This, pumpkin, is where freecycle steps in. Without wanting to get all evangelical about it, freecycle is an astonishing concept in which people, who have stuff they don't want, tell a big group of people in their local area about it. The chances of this disclosure hitting someone who wants the item in that area is fairly high, given the number of people who subscribe to the list.

So this is how it works, punkling. Someone FABULOUS posts to the list that they have a large box of baby paraphernalia, and that they're in the suburb that your dad works in. Your dad then responds, and is standing on their doorstep within a matter of minutes. They hand your dad a MASSIVE box of babygoods, he stumbles through a few words of thanks and gets on his way.

Thanks a million, Virginia

December 08, 2004

congratulations, you're still in the running towards being Australia's next top pumpkin

So Elliot had its first real stress test last night, pumpkin, and it stood up to the challenge admirably well. Harry and Liz came over for America's Next Top Model.

Now I'm fairly sure that, in the annals of history, 2004 will be seen as a year of not particularly good television. Certainly the offerings in the arena of 'reality tv', which is a new concept to us, having been born only a few years previous to your good self, have been below par.

America's Next Top Model, pumpkin, brings to us the absolute pinnacle, the epitome of good quality reality TV. There are people to hate, and people to love. People to throw things at, and other people to throw things at.

Apparently there's an Australian version in the works, but I'm not entirely sure that it's going to come close to the glory of the US incarnation of this particular TyraBanksian juggernaut.

It brings to mind for me, because my brain is constantly in parent mode at the moment, how I'm going to try to help you in your professional endeavours. How I'm going to cope if you decide to become an artist or an accountant, or a piano tuner or a postman. The simple answer is, of course, that I'll support you in whatever you want to do, but it's slightly more complicated than that.

I've talked to you before about the fact that your life decisions are your own to make, and that we're not going to attempt to influence them one way or the other, but that's a total lie. You CAN be whatever you want to be, with a few notable exceptions. You are hereby forbidden from being a staff member or member of parliament in a "family values" political party. The primary question to ask these people, pumpkin, is whose family they are talking about. Keep in mind that they are most certainly, in many cases, talking about families that do not include those of people we love.

December 06, 2004

You can't take my couch from me

So Elliot arrived on Saturday.

Elliot, the sofa (I'm pretty sure that it's too impressive to be called a couch) that has already been called "the beige suede aircraft carrier".

Elliot, the sofa that Purdey and Kudra are both mortified that they are not allowed to sleep on, or sit on momentarily, or look at funny.

Elliot, on whom four people can comfortably sit for an afternoon's viewing of Whedonesque sci-fi western episodes while munching on chocolate cheescake.

The problem with a massive beige suede aircraft carrier, pumpkin, is that it can look a little bare. This situation necessitated a visit to several purveyours of fine domestic wares later in the weekend in order to procure some soft furnishings to make Elliot look a little less... expansive. Soft furnishings were procured at Ishka, in various lovely shades of red, brown and pink.

It was Wordsworth himself, pumpkin, who said:

"For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils."

Given, pumpkin, this poem IS about daffodils, but it could just as easily be about the couch. Wordsworth could not have been so transported by his visions of nodding yellow flowers had he been lying on, say, a stinky uncomfortable couch that had been chewed by recalcitrant weimaraners, and was covered in bits of dog bone.

Love you

December 02, 2004

with apologies to banjo

There was movement down in Preston, for the word had passed around
That a pumpkin was most definitely on its way
And would change the Peeny Deenys - It would cost a million pound
So all the gang had gathered on the couch

All the mad and genius family, from their homesteads near and far
Were coming down to see the new cherub
For a family loves a baby, when it's the first of a new brood
And the grandmothers sharpened knitting needles with delight

There was Grandad Ian, who made computers in the old days
Out of wood and rocks and bits of fencing wire
But few could understand him, when speaking etymology
He would tell you stories night and day, not tire

And Grandad Jon from Lincoln way
Came down to lend a hand
He brought the kid the claret and the gold
A Bradford City baby, of that he was damn sure
And probably a striker, if he believed what his eye told

Now Uncle David differed
On this point, it must be said
A number 1 on navy blue was what he saw
And fullback or full forward his choice instead

Now Pumpkin's mum and dear old dad
Were at best unprepared
Pumpkin's coming with a vengeance
Of that they have no doubt
But how to cope is as yet in the air

So furniture is shifted
And walls festooned with paint
Toys and clothes come in from near and far
A baby's coming! a baby! a baby!
Good god, we'd better go and wash the car

But the pumpkin born in Preston
Wouldn't care about such things
The pumpkin born in Preston's dad thinks that pumpkin will abide
Without frills, lace, plasticky diverty rings

Pumpkins, said the little one's dad
Need nowt by way of gifted haul
They need some hugs, dry bums, full tums
Buckets of love from all and sundry
If they don't get it, be sure they'll call.

Love you.

December 01, 2004

operation decoration

We're painting your bedroom this week, pumpkin.

This painting of rooms lark is strictly your mother's department. One of my great failings as a human being is that I can't actually see very many colours. I'm not colourblind, by any stretch of the imagination, but the fact remains that I can easily differentiate only a fraction of the colours that your mum can.

When we stand there at the colour wall at Bunnings, she holds up cards with swatches on them. "Do you like this one? How about this one?". It's very frustrating for me to have to explain once again that, to my eye, they're all the same. So she picked the colours for your room. Unaided by me, apart from my idea that the colour should be "cool and warm at the same time". See? No help at all.

Once we got home (after a stop by your grandfather's house to borrow one of his many ladders), I was put in charge of painting the bits up by the ceiling that your mum can't reach. This was rendered difficult precisely because of the issue mentioned above. When you're painting one colour, pumpkin, over the top of another colour, and they both look to your handicapped eyes like they're the same, it becomes very difficult to tell where you've painted and where you haven't.

Of course, looking back, I should have realised that this would happen, and made allowances for it. I did not, and grumpiness ensued.

In any case, the room has now been almost entirely painted, and now that the paint's dry I can see that it's white. whitey purple. purpley whitey white. I think. The fireplace surround remains an icky green, so I think that's going to get done in the next few days. The time constraints being that very soon our overseas visitors will begin arriving, and it would be rude of us to not let them stay in the newly painted lovely room that has now had most of the crud in it removed.

(Thanks Freecycle!)

love you.

November 30, 2004

Hot in the city

it's very hot in my office today, punkin.

it's all i can do to stay awake enough to work.

you'll have to cope without me til tomorrow.

love you.

November 29, 2004

do the locomotion

It’s probable, pumpkin, that you are going to want to leave the house at some stage. More likely, however, that your fabulous parents are going to want to leave the house in order to fulfill some engagement on their social calendar. Regardless, the house will be being left.

Leaving the house with a baby, apparently, is vastly different to leaving the house prior to parentage. Currently, excursions begin with marshalling the canines outside, closing the door and finding my car keys. It appears that once you arrive, this process will take a considerably longer and more complex series of actions and equipment.

It is with the equipment that I am currently struggling. We made a trip on the weekend to the “giant unforgiving gaping maw that is the babygoods industry dedicated only to siphoning cash from new parents’ pockets” store. This trip was presented in the guise of a ‘research trip’, but ended up with the man standing and looking at the blonk, telling us that he wasn’t sure we could fit a baby seat in the back.

He wasn’t a nice man, though, so I’ve chosen to not believe him.

There are apparently several hundred accoutrement that we are obliged to purchase, at the rough equivalent of Liberia’s deficit. Devices that, when I was a child, were called “pushers”, are now apparently “jogger strollers”, are composed of space age alloys, have several configuration options, pneumatic tires and ABS brakes.

Of course, being a gadget freak, I’m quite excited by these developments, and gravitated directly towards the “created by a Swedish industrial designer and a physiotherapist, with seventeen configurations and ergonomically optimised" device; and was excitedly showing your mum all the fabulous ways it could be clicked and swiveled and zipped (having already done some research on the internet). Your mum, being the level head that she is (and being married to me and Knowing What I’m Like), reached straight for the bit that she thought was most important, the price tag.

Now pumpkin, I’m not a stingy man. I inevitably, when making large purchases, end up spending a little bit more than I had bargained, in order to make sure that I drive the value as hard as I can. And your mum will tell you that, for MANY purchases, I refuse to Pay Retail, and in fact say embarrasing things in Nice Stores like "come on, you can't do any better than that on the price?", so I don't necessarily pay very much attention to what's on the sticker, except as a reference for the commencement of bargaining.

And pumpkin. My first car was Very Cheap. So saying that this stroller jogger was more than my first car isn’t saying much. But this one was more than my first car AND my second car. Put together.

Love you.

November 25, 2004

the blessed relief of the blank page

People often talk, pumpkin, of a "clean slate", or a "new leaf". It's that situation that occurs so seldom in one's life, in which one can begin anew what one wants to undertake. This clearing off of commitments doesn't happen very often in the wider world (to the point of being nigh impossible), but it can sometimes be managed in a professional capacity.

It is this that I am faced with today. My desk is clean and my commitments are few. I have time (albeit only a few hours) to take stock and to think about the way in which I am going to attack the next things I need to do, and changes that can be applied to existing work practices to make them more streamlined.

This freedom is not something that generally appears in life. In life, pumpkin, one is more likely to be making decisions on the fly. To feel like one is taking chances without all the relevant information, and with potentially massive ramifications.

I turned to your mother last night in the car on the way home, and said in an astonished voice "we're having a baby!". This drastic realisation comes to me at random times, and with a wildly fluctuating range of emotions. Last night it was surprise, tinged with excitement.

It was like, looking at her beautifully expanding belly, I had been given an intricately wrapped present. Like YOU are the blank page at which I can look with satisfaction, knowing that it is my responsibility to fill you with ideas, with desire for knowledge and delight at new things.

Love you.

November 22, 2004

tin cans and a piece of string

It's likely, pumpkin, that you're not going to believe a large portion of this post. The concepts and devices mentioned here will seem as ludicrous to you as if I was speaking instead about using a piece of wood to fashion a workable microscope. I'm aware of this, and so I'm going to break it down into as simple a progression as I can.

Put simply, these are the facts:

Telephones, when I was a kid, were things that lived in buildings and were attached to walls. If you wanted to call someone, you would try to work out where they were most likely to be, and call that place and ask if they were there. If they were not, you would ask the person you were speaking to to write the fact that you'd called on a piece of paper, along with the number of the building that you were most likely to be in when the person you wanted to speak to was likely to return. Phew. Even writing about that is complicated. You're probably thinking 'geez, that sounds like a lot of work, why didn't you just send them an email or IM instead?

Here's the kicker, pumpkling.

No internet. None. I distinctly remember the first modem I clapped my eyes on, about age 9 (and remember here, that this was in the home of Grandpa Phil, so we were quite technologically advanced). It would transmit and receive data at the astonishing speed of 2400 baud (loosely translated, this is approximately 2.4 kbp/s) and was useful for precisely 9/10ths of stuffall. We used it to log on to 'bulletin boards', which were the distant ancestors of web pages.

But no email. None. Not until 1995 did I get my first email address (and I was one of the first ones).

As I'm sitting down writing this, I'm realising that even some of the things that I'm writing about, like cell phones and desktop computers, could be obsolete by the time that you get ready to use them. Who can say what form the internet will take in the year 2015 when you're 10? My trusty playstation will certainly be out of date, although I do promise to save a copy of Grand Theft Auto for when you turn 18. CD players, which were the cool of cool when I was about 10, are now all but gone.

It's becoming increasingly likely to my mind that by the time you get around to listening to your own music, the idea that one had to physically collect something and put it in a receptacle to play some toons or a movie or a game might be as old as the hills. That connection will be your birthright. That you will be able to get what you want when you want it, as long as you can pay for it. Or, more to the point, as long as I can pay for it.

Love you.

November 18, 2004

grandparental nomenclature

So, pumpkin, i wrote this post earlier today, but blogger ate it. I'm going to attempt to re-create the highpoints for you, but I warn that the pressures of work have worked their mojo on my brain, and that ennui may have a detrimental effect on what is to follow...

Last night, your mother and I went out to dinner with three of your grandparents, one of your uncles and one of your aunts. The conversation did not revolve ENTIRELY around you, but you made up a healthy portion of the evening's discourse.

The topic of 'what pumpkin should call his/her grandparents' arose, and we rose with it. Your grandad Ian decided that he would be called grandad, which was fairly straightforward and to the point. I think that this sort of a name will be difficult to confuse with other people's, and should present you with no great difficulty.

Your grandmother Linda appears to be fond of 'nana', but I'm sure that she's open to discussion if you decide that you're unhappy with this particular moniker. Your grandfather Phil wasn't around for this discussion, so we will await his thoughts on the matter at a later date.

Jann, the antipodean matriarch of the Penford Dennis Kowalski Kotsiris McConnell Skinner clan, says that she's FAR TOO YOUNG at the tender age of 42 (although I might add that she's been this age for the entire seven years that I've known her) to be called a grandmother, and that she would like to be called Auntie Jann. She also says that we are able to add modifiers to this name, and that such things as Fabulous Aunt Jann or Incredibly Glamorous Aunt Jann would be acceptable.

Apparently your mother's mum has been being called "Grannie Annie" around the office, but I'm not sure that she will be too happy with this. We will find out soon enough, in January, when your other set of grandparents arrive to feel your mum's expanding bump.

Love you.

November 12, 2004

working for the weekend

It's Friday arvo, pumpkin, don't expect a lot out of your dad except longing glances towards the door and the sunshine outside.

Picking up your grandmother tomorrow morning. Very excited.

Love you.

November 11, 2004

all present and accounted for

Your grandmother Linda is coming to see your mum's bump on the weekend. She is bringing some mystery gifts that I will tell you about later, some of which I know all about, some of which I do not. Your grandmother is one of the world's great gift givers. She is consistent in her desire to provide people with just the right thing, and will go to great lengths to procure said thing. It can be awesome to behold.

The thing about your grandmother's gift giving prowess is that it is not reciprocal. She, when pressed about what gift she would like for any occasion, will be more likely to answer "a card" than anything else. When further pressured, she will be likely to say that she wants you to MAKE her a card. This will, I'm sure, lead to some fun games with cardboard and glue in your early years.

My mother has an astonishing attachment to things that kids bring home from school. She keeps them all in some of the wide and interesting array of storage places that she has secreted about her mountain hideaway (picture provided for reference) and often brings them out at inopportune occasions.

There are cardboard angels on her christmas tree, pumpkin, that your uncle David and I made when we were in kindergarten. Mine is considerably less recognisable as an angel than his, but then I was always more into surrealism than he was.

Love you.

November 10, 2004

one legged man, wallpapering

It is true, my sweet and scrumptious punkling, that your dad is considered at his job to be what's known as a 'subject matter expert'. In this particular case, the subject in question is business documentation.

A title of this type, whilst useful in fostering a workplace environment that contains a good deal of change and variety in one's daily regimen, can have its drawbacks.

In business, as in life, it is difficult to plan your strategies for improvement if you do not have an accurate idea of your starting point. Regular updating of variables is essential to ensure that your attack is up to date and correctly targeted.

Unfortunately, pumpkin, the whole world has conspired against me to decide that such reporting must be undertaken in all instances on or around the first week of any given month.
The first days of November, then, have been composed for your dad almost entirely of:

Talking to two people about some figures, getting different answers then trying to figure out which one is right or indeed if they are both wrong

Composing lengthy documents that must at some stage contain a mixture of the wrong figures and the right figures contained at random places throughout said document

Printing a draft of the documents to show his boss, being told that the figures therein are 'not the right shape' and having to go back to the original number provider and ask for a new one

As I'm sure you can understand, this type of sustained workload gives little opportunity for the updating of pumpkindiaries.

This is, unfortunately, the way that all great projects are created. An architect will have a vision, and then lackeys will spend significant periods of time attempting to interpret the architect's thoughts into reality. Your father, pumpkin, is a lackey, albeit a well-paid and respected one.

Ultimately in life, with the exception of a very very few people, we are all lackeys. Even those of us fortunate enough to run our own, successful business, such as two of your three grandfathers, are lackeys, just to their bank managers rather than their bosses. The trick, pumpkin, is to get to the stage where you're a lackey to as few people as possible.

PS while you live under my roof, you live by my rules. This makes you my lackey by definition. Get used to it, I'm only doing it for your own good.

Love you.

November 08, 2004

equestrian follies, inglorious downfalls

Your father, pumpkin, was in his youth a fair to middling horseman. He used to be capable of not only remaining seated on a galloping steed, pumpkin, but of looking good doing it.

It became apparent on the weekend that this is no longer the case.

After substantial and sustained cajoling from your aunt Liz, your dad, who's not very clever, agreed to go horse riding on the weekend, at a place we used to go many years ago on the other side of Healesville.

Of course, never ones to do things by halves, your aunt and I decided that a two hour ride was out of the question, and that we would be far better off going on a 'half day' extravaganza. After arising at an ungodly hour on Saturday morning, I loaded up the blönk and made my way down the freeway to your aunt's house in the middle of a torrential downpour.

Our cousin Minka was also in attendance, and after stopping for a quick bowl of porridge, we hit the road. Thornton, where the ride took place, is on the other side of the Dandenongs, and so it was my theory that the weather should have been different once we got over the mountains.

I was wrong.

Once we arrived at our destination (slightly late, due to some roadworks halfway up Black Spur), the sky remained dark and forbidding, but remained dry for the moment. We saddled up and mounted up and set off on our way.

As we began, it became obvious to me fairly quickly that I was not the horseman I had been in my youth. A rising trot seemed to be utterly beyond my capabilities, and it was all I could muster to remain seated while I bounced about in a decidedly unglamorous manner. A short halt and the lengthening of my stirrups helped matters somewhat, but it was still obvious that I had No Business being in charge of a large, old, crotchety, cantankerous animal.

Once the cantering began in earnest, I was forced to ask the ride's leader for some advice in "how to feel like I'm in charge of what's going on". Adam, who was lovely, offered some advice that helped somewhat, but there was nonetheless a voice in my brain saying loudly "ow, this hurts, you used to be able to do this, ow, ow, ow, make the stupid horse stop ow, what do you mean you can't make it stop ow ow ow"

Fast forward through about two more hours of this running commentary.

As we began our journey back towards the farm, Liz decided that her back was beginning to hurt. After much urging, she was convinced to get off her horse and walk around a bit. This, pumpkin, was a mistake. On remounting, she slipped on some wet grass, and hurt her ankle. We told her that she didn't have to get back on the horse, and that we could get a car to come and get her out, but she was a real trooper and got back on.

Her ankle, however, was very painful, so she couldn't manage much more than a walk. Adam, who was, it should be said, lovely, said that he would stay back with her if I wanted to go for a bit of a canter. This was also a mistake. On deciding that the horse was going a little bit too quickly, I tried to convince it to slow down. It did so, a tad more quickly than I had anticipated, and your father, as the common phrase would have it, went arse over tit.

Your father now has a large, painful bruise on his bot-bot.

Hearing the ancient phrase running through my head, I knew that my primary goal was to get back on the horse. Of course, said horse was condescendingly walking up the track at a pace only slightly faster than my bruised bum could manage. After catching up with said mount, I regained my seat, and my composure, for long enough to catch up with the main group.

That's when it started to rain.


It was a long walk back.

Sufficient, pumpkin, to say that neither I nor your Aunt Liz will be taking you horseriding anytime in the near future.

Love you.

November 05, 2004

rainy day, dream away

It's raining today, pumpkin. Steady, soaking rain.

People around me are bemoaning their drive in to work, shaking drops off umbrellas, bustling about avoiding going outside. I'm happy.

Rain makes me happy, happy that I'm dry and warm, happy that the blönk is a safe car, happy that my herbs and vegies are getting all the water that they need. The sound of raindrops on the roof when I go to bed engenders feelings of snug comfort. I love thunderstorms too, the epic bangs and crashes, lightning strikes and pummeling rain.

I hope, however, that it rains itself out today, because tomorrow I'm going horseriding with your Aunt Liz.

The weekend should also see some gardening work, after miss Purdey decided that she didn't like my beautiful bathtub herb garden, which is to be replanted and augmented with an electric fence, and the beginnings of our thinking about how we're going to change the house around when you arrive. If possible I might also try to find time to go and visit Sam, who tells me he's looking forward to you arriving.

As you grow older, pumpkin, you will likely get used to the phrase 'three steps forward, two steps back'. This is the way that we live much of our lives, gaining tiny increments whilst much of our efforts are expended simply in maintaining forward momentum.

Love you.

November 04, 2004

the prodigal dad

So I've been slack, pumpkin. More slack than any dad has any right to be. I'm sorry. I feel bad about not talking to you for so long, if that helps any.

Lots has happened since last time we chatted, with a few major changes in the world and in our lives. I guess the last time I talked to you was before the long weekend, so I'd best update you on everything I can remember.

In Melbourne, where your mum and I live, there is a horse race every year. It's called, funnily enough, the Melbourne Cup, and whilst I have very little interest in horse racing, I am incredibly grateful for the fact that we are extended a public holiday for the occasion. Added to that is the fact that the race in question falls on a Tuesday. This means that, if one takes a day of annual leave on the previous Monday, one can take a full four day weekend.

A four day weekend, pumpkin, a double weekend, if you will, is, for an adult, the stuff of which dreams are made. A four day weekend means that one can accomplish all that one would accomplish in an ordinary weekend, of the cleaning, mowing, fixing variety, and still have a full weekend of leisure time left at the end. It also means that when one does finally go back to work, that one only has to be at work for another three days before it's the weekend again.

This is the way it should be always.

Of course, being in a high pressure, very busy, very important job means that I have to do five days work in those three days, but it turns out for the best, I think.

Over the course of the long weekend, your mum and I installed an electric dogfence, to stop miss Purdey and miss Kudra from digging through to next door to play with the rabbit. We did a truckload of gardening, and bought a new couch.

The couch (called Elliot, for reasons that remain a mystery), is the biggest couch known to mankind. The lovely Amber, who sold Elliot to us, gave us a special fabric protectiony thing that, she says, is guaranteed for the life of the couch. If, pumpkin, you are ever able to make a stain on the couch that we can't get off, then we can take it back, and they will replace the panel of fabric. This sounds like an awesome deal to me, no matter how much it cost, so I was careful to specifically ask if it covered baby vomit when we bought it.

Love you

October 28, 2004

Couch dancing

It's true, my punkin, that pregnancy takes a large toll on your mother. It is causing major changes in the way she looks, how she feels, and to a large extent, what she feels. The emotional rollercoaster that is her life at the moment has been referenced before in every pregnancy book known to man, but it is the emotional shift in me as a man that is captivating my interest today, and therefore will form the body of this dissertation.

Whilst not wanting to talk at further length about my adventures in the gym (I know some of our readers are already getting bored with that), I can say truthfully that feeling like I'm getting stronger is helping me to feel like I'm going to be emotionally prepared for your arrival.

Other things are happening too. Watching movies that would previously have had me cringing at their manufactured tearjerkiness now have me reaching for the kleenex as the symphony builds to its climax while the firetrucks circle the misunderstood ex-husband cradling his wayward gifted child who's been injured in the explosion of the virus manufacturing facility that was controlled by the corrupt vice president of the tinpot foreign nation hellbent on wiping out life liberty and the American way whilst simultaneously shifting $10 billion in counterfeit postage stamps to his South Pacific hideaway.

Any Law and Order SVU episode must now be carefully vetted so as to ensure that there are no babies or children being harmed, kicked, spat on, yelled at or otherwise traumatised, for fear of triggering a crescendo of weepage from the couch.

Elliot Stabler is the man of the moment, pumpkin, although he has awful tattoos

Speaking of tattoos, I am currently considering getting one to commemorate your birth. There's a couple of possibilities, depending on whether you decide to be a boy or a girl, but I can't share them with you now, because doing so would give away your name, and that's a secret.

Love you.

October 27, 2004

on the treadmill, watching the clock

Yesterday, pumpkin, was a very important day for us. We received our first concrete evidence (apart from how cruddy your mum's been feeling) that you are coming to join us. Although again replete with muumuus (this time green rather than pink), our 12 week ultrasound went off without a hitch.

It appears that you are posessed of the standard number of arms and legs, that your spine is strong and straight, that your brain is a good size and that there is 'excellent hemispheric development', and that your fingers and toes are in place. This is all excellent news.

You were, however, very wriggly. Extremely wriggly. In all the wrong ways.

The ultrasound operator wanted you to lie in such a way that she would be able to measure the back of your neck. You refused to. She pounded on the outside of your mum's abdomen. You wriggled around. In the wrong direction. She poked again. You wriggled. Back to the original position. More prodding, more wriggling.

You cannot dispute this, pumpkin, we have it on video, and may, if provoked, play it on special occasions.

Included over to the left is the one photo that we were able to take. Your mum's done some work to make it slightly more legible, but all I can say for now is that in my humble opinion, I think you have a distinguished looking profile, and that there is no doubt in my mind that you will be exceptionally good looking.

Love you.

October 25, 2004

Shaving with the hair straightener

Sometimes, pumpkin, you face a time in your life when you need to try and do something without the right tools. In moments of desperation later in your life you will find out that a 5 cent piece can be used as a screwdriver, and that a pair of needlenose pliers can be used for any multitude of tasks.

To write a webdiary to your unborn child, you need to have something to write about, but that thing can take many forms. Where you run into problems is when you have nothing at all to write.

We're having your 13 week ultrasound tomorrow afternoon, and I'm very keyed up about it. This is the first time we'll be able to say hello to you properly, and there's a lot of tests that we need to do to make sure that you're happy and comfortable. It also gives us a chance to count your arms and legs (two of each, if it's not too much trouble).

While I'm incredibly excited about seeing you for the first time, albeit on a blurry screen in black and white and fuzzy contrast, I'm also incredibly worried about the results of the tests that we're going to do. Still, I'm one of those people who's better than most at worrying about things that I can control, and letting go of the things that I cannot.

Having said that, I'm going to the gym tonight to work off a bit of nervous tension.

Love you.

October 21, 2004

stony miles

The upcoming weekend, my punkling, will be chockablock with things for your mum and I to do. The wedding of the Lovely Robyn and her man Mr Braden is on Saturday, so that should be lovely, and our friend Tracey's birthday party is on Sunday.

People's lives can seem sometimes to be made up of, respectively, milestones and the dead space in between them. Weddings, birthdays, funerals can seem to be markers that show us how far we have come, and what we have achieved. Whilst hesitant to use lines that have been massively overquoted in a million other places, a very famous father once told his then infant son in a song that "life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans".

There is a concerted effort among advertisers and makers of schmaltzy movies to convince you otherwise, but pumpkin trust me when I say that these days, these milestone days, are just like any other. It follows, therefore, that you should not treat them any different to other days. This is not true, and exposes the folly of my argument, but bear with me.

Anyone you ask will tell you that your dad loves a party. This is absolutely the case, and I'm not suggesting for a moment that we should not enjoy and celebrate the passing of years or the joining of two people. What I am telling you, pumpkin, is that the most important part about a wedding is what happens between those two people in the months before it and the years afterward. That a birthday is only of note because it lets us all stop and reflect on what has happened in the year beforehand.

Tiny steps, pumpkin, can take us miles and miles, but we should know that we've come a long way without passing a milestone.

Love you,

October 20, 2004

on further reflection

Having spoken to my "agent" (the fabulous MissJane, with whom we will be travelling to a wedding on Saturday), I've decided that the erstwhile publication that was the originator of the text you see above did not, in any case, deserve to have our diary published in it, and that, furthermore, Ernest Hemingway papered an entire room with rejection letters, and he was, like, famous and stuff. Also, let's face it, if the worst thing that happens is that I don't get this published, then that's not such a bad thing anyway, at least then you won't have to spend your whole life explaining to people that, yes, you are that pumpkin.....

In other news, your mum and I think that we have decided on a name for you if you're a boy. People close to us will know that your girl name was decided long ago, before we were even pregnant, and that we've been strugging for a while with your boy name. I'm not going to give too much away, but I think it would be fun if I give you a few clues.

  • You will not be named, in whole or in part, directly after any of your immediate relatives
  • Your first name will be "normal", easy to spell and say, and leave you open to as little playground teasing as possible.
  • Your middle name is likely (although neither has as yet been chosen yet) to be slightly more esoteric and probably of a different ethnic origin than your first name
  • Your first name in both cases has been around for at least 200 years
  • The "full" version of your boy name stems from Hebrew, and is in the Old Testament, but the shortened version that we will use is slightly newer, but was commonly used as early as 1847 in Ireland
  • Your girl name is old English in origin
I think that's enough for now. Hopefully we don't know anyone clever enough to figure all that out, of course there are some people who know already, but hopefully they can be trusted to keep their traps shut.

Love you.

October 19, 2004

a first for everything

Look pumpkin! It's our first rejection letter!!

Dear Bill,

Thank you for your email and for the proposal of a diary concept for
publication. While I believe the diary will be a beautiful keepsake for your
family, I would not be interested in it for publication. However, as you
say, there is a dearth of stories from the fathers perspective and we would
be interested in taking a look at any stories you would care to submit. Our
contributor guidelines are below.

Thank you once again and congratulations on your impending parenthood.

Kind regards,

October 18, 2004

dr pete says: operation pumpkin is a-ok

We went to see Dr Pete this morning. He prodded your mum a bit, and measured your current domicile, otherwise known as your mum's uterus, and said that it was exactly the size it should be. He tried to talk to you with a small ultrasound machine, but we couldn't hear you. He said it was probably because you were hiding from us.

On Tuesday next week, we're going to go to the ultrasound place, where we should be able to actually see you, and do a couple of tests to make sure that everything's going ok. Your mum's being having a really tough time of things lately. I think that this last 11 weeks or so have probably been among the most stressful periods in her life.

She's grappling with so much stuff at the moment. She's trying to come to terms with the idea of bringing a tiny, gorgeous baby into this world, and working out what we need to change in the way we live our lives in order for that to happen, and at the same time feeling like she's got PMT and a hangover simultaneously all the damn time. Now I know why it's women who have the babies, pumpkin. If men had babies, there would be a machine to do it for us by now.

I'm trying to do the best I can to help her and make her as comfortable as I can, but she's tired and nauseated all the time. Adding to that, she's hungry all the time, so the kitchen looks like a bomb's hit it most of the time, something I've never been particuarly good at rectifying.

I suppose that, in terms of the raft of new skills that I'm going to be forced to accumulate with your arrival, cleaning up the kitchen will be one that I can just add to the list, along with changing nappies, bottle sterilisation (I already know how to do this with beer bottles, it can't be THAT different) and learning new fangled nursery rhymes.

love you.

on the topic of names, I just want to let you know that, regardless of what your name is, it will be spelled correctly. There will be no examples of the type of crime against nomenclature that we see here:

October 15, 2004

*beep beep beep* oh no, the coins keep coming out

Throughout my adult life, pumpkin, I have collected speakers and screens. Anyone who has lived with me for any period of time will attest to the fact that, as my time in any particular abode draws longer, there will be more and more strange shaped boxes accumulating.

I have had, in the past, a tower of televisions in my loungeroom so that I could watch several programs at once, a stereo system in a refrigerator, and many, many, many speakers.

When I moved in with your mother, I was forced to reassess my speaker requirements, given her predilection to "not having a house that is filled with stupid, ugly wires going every which bloody way" (personally I can't understand what she's talking about). After many years of discussions and concessions, I have successfully infiltrated a number of speakers and amplifiers into the house, but just today I ran into a dead end.

After sourcing and pricing a very reasonable upgrade to the stereo system in the blönk, I was informed in no uncertain terms that this was not going to take place, and that instead, expenditure was to be concentrated on "SENSIBLE" things like, I don't know, paying the lovely Dr Pete the Obstetrician (who, although he is lovely, is also very expensive).

I'm unhappy, pumpkin, but I think it's probably time for me to get used to it. I was talking to Samuel's dad the other day, and we were reorganising when we were going to go over there and say hello to him. We noticed that it was the first time that Samuel's arrival had necessitated the shifting of their calendar to take his needs into account, and that this would be ongoing for at least the next 20 years or so.

Speakers, pumpkin, will not keep you healthy. They will not put food in your belly, they will not keep your bum dry. That means that, for the next fifteen years, they go on the back burner. I will upgrade the entertainment system in the blönk, make no mistake, but maybe not for a little while.

Love you.

ps NOT: Lorelei, Jakarta, Beyonce, Noelle, Heaven, Starr, Alyssa, Alexia, Alea, Abigail, Kylah, Kaylee, Madicyn, Kelsee, Myriah

October 14, 2004

The great escape, thwarted

It's tough, pumpkin, coming up with something new to write to you about every day. There's so much going on, both in the world at large, and inside my head, that everytime I sit down to write to you I have to somehow squish it down into something that's both palatable and readable. I try to make every entry in here about a single thing, so that I don't get sidetracked and try to spill my whole brain onto the keyboard (which apart from anything else would make an awful mess).

At the moment,we're trying to get everything set up for when you arrive. To that end, we're taking care of stuff now that we won't have the time, the energy or the money to do after you get here. When I say changes, I mean both physical and mental changes, in the way we live, and in the house that we live in. We're organising, weeding, painting, discarding, buying, decorating, destroying, building, planting and planning all at once. Each weekend we try to have a major project that we think we can knock over in two days, in between our social schedule.

This weekend will be all about making the house a bit nicer by putting the dogs outside. Now this has been tried before, but with less than ideal results. Having a dog who is a criminal genius has led to numerous and creative modifications of original specification in fencing and barriers, after many arrivals home at the end of a long day to find ever more creative methods of escape and destruction being employed by Miss Purdey and assorted cohorts.

This weekend, pumpkin, marks the end of all that. Lovely puppies who until now have led a carefree life of idyllic romping on their parent's bed will be banished to the backyard to think about their crimes. This will be managed by the installation of a special doggy fence that will stop them from tunelling through to next door to 'play' with the rabbit like they did at Christmas. What this also means is that the dogs will not have to go to the toilet in the courtyard anymore, which again, should lead to the courtyard smelling nicer.

I know this all could sound to you like me being selfish and just trying to get a lovely courtyard out of this deal, but the flipside is that the house will be just the same when we come home as it was when we left it. It seems a simple enough idea, but this is a very exciting concept for me, pumpkin, and I'm very much looking forward to it.

This will, of course, only last until you're old enough to be left in the house by yourself, at which stage I will prepare to once again return home and bear witness to destruction on a grand scale.

October 11, 2004

Performance report

Again, Pumpkin, I find it time to write to you, and feel like I don't have terribly much to write to you about. One of the things that happened to us over the weekend is that we got a chance to welcome one of your future likely playmates, and another one of them arrived in the world just this very weekend.

Samuel and Olivia are likely to be some of the first people that you come into regular contact with that are of or about your age, and knowing what I do of their parents, I can safely say that this is a good thing.

We got to meet Olivia this weekend, and she slept through the whole thing so I don't know if she'll remember it when you ask her, but she was helping her dad watch Bathurst (while being asleep, a useful talent I'm sure you'll agree, and one I hope you will emulate later).

We bought her a pretty outfit, but it's about eight miles too big at the moment. It's ok though, her mum says she's growing terribly quickly and will be able to wear it soon enough.

Seeing and holding Olivia was one of those moments that seem to occur to me more often these days than they did previously. I looked at her, tiny, sleeping and innocuous as she was, and began to think about the concept of you taking on that physicality. In many ways to me, and exponentially more so because I'm the parent who's not going through the carnival of joy that is pregnancy, you remain abstract.

I think that once your mum really starts to show (which isn't too far away), that this will begin to go away, but for now I feel like I'm really having trouble with the constant thought that you will be here soon. Having said that, I'm still working on the herb garden and the back and front yards in anticipation of your arrival. As I'm sure I explained to you before, the herb garden is my little "visible growth" project that I have taken on to parallel your development inside your mum.

I hope that this will help me to feel like I'm more connected with your development as it starts to accelerate over the next few months. Certainly it will make the courtyard smell better, so maybe that's enough.

Love you.



Zebrena, Nanzet, Jetti, Meander, Harmony, Vadan, Jayken, Tamree, Cheyenne, Shayla, . Luche, Velandra, Electra

October 07, 2004

Welcome to the Hotel Peeny-Deeny

I've started thinking, pumpkin, about your bedroom.

At the moment, in the bedroom we have identified for you, there resides a large bookcase, the spare bed and the ironing board. Also several computers that are "too good to throw out".

We're not sure what we're going to do about furnishing and/or decorating your bedroom (i refuse to use the word nursery), as with many of the "baby" things that are out there in the world, we shudder at some of the things that people perpetrate on their children in the name of fashion.

You won't be forced to endure a "themed" bedroom, but we will be sure to make it into a room that you can enjoy.

I'm of the firm opinion that you will enjoy some sort of audiovisual capability, but I'm sure your mother will "educate" me away from that, at least for the time being (don't worry, I already have a playstation put on one side for you), and insist on mobiles or some other such lowtech boring stuff.

Books will be a big thing. I know you can't read just yet, but believe me when I say that there are many people in your life (and one person in particular) who will be dedicated to purchasing you many, many, many books. This will, of course, necessitate a bookcase of some description, although I think that the dark wood, nine foot tall monster that lives there now might be a bit too much for you.

Your grandfather Phil has said that he has found you the perfect cot, although seeing as how it's in America, he hasn't quite figured out how he's going to get it here yet. Don't sweat it though, he's very inventive.

Your mum wants to buy a rocking chair to have in your room, but as far as I'm concerned. she can pay for it if that's what she wants, rocking chairs are expensive (at least more expensive than new speakers for the blönk are).

Either way, there will be no Bananas, regardless of their sleepwear. No Tank Engines, called Thomas or otherwise. No Teenage Mutant Power Rangers.

Classic Style, pumpkin. Classic Style.

Love you.

whoops i almost forgot.

Xev, Chiana, Nikita, Gia, Ravin, Gavin, Bailey, Ares, Adjutor, Audet, Kaytaquana, Alliwen, Camianne, Shaynelna, Karlakenya, Adanah, Leezi, Mays, Karjovon, Brandnel, Jaslera, Breedee, Tylee, Allikaylor, Tylera, Shairani

October 06, 2004

Changing bodies

Possumy Pumpkin,

It's interesting being in our house at the moment. Your mum and I are both undergoing experiences that are changing our bodies, and mean that we're hungry and tired basically all the time.

While your mum concentrates on making your elbows, (she's been saying that for weeks , I reckon she must have moved on to making something else by now), I'm working on getting fit.

While I've spoken to you before about the fact that I'm going to the gym and working on my fitness, I don't know that I've talked about why.

Along with the realisation that you're coming, that I'm going to be a father, has been a realisation that you're not going to be a baby for long. That before I know it you're going to be a toddler, then a young child, then an older child, then a teenager and a young adult. Along with that journey comes, in my opinion, a responsibility to be the best role model that I can be.

I was lucky enough as a young person to have two men in my life who I saw as father figures. It is through the combination of their examples that I know both who won Bathurst in 1981 (Dick Johnson in an XD Falcon) and the etymology of the word "telephone" (ancient Greek, "tele", meaning "long distance", "phone", meaning "speak"). The problem that faces me now is that I must distil all of the advantages I gained from this double upbringing and attempt to bring it to you.

Part of that is, I think, trying to make sure that I feel good enough about myself to be able to feel like the example I am providing you is worthwhile. It also means trying now, in this final six or so months before your birth, to plug the gaps in what I had planned for you. Going to the gym a lot and learning to speak French are the two things I have identified as being large changes to myself that I can make in a relatively short time.

In the life of a man, it is true that he spends an inordinate amount of time trying to live up to his father's legacy. Now that I am to be a father myself, I only hope that I can provide for you even a shadow of the paternal upbringing I was privileged to encounter at the hands of two very fine men.

October 05, 2004

Status Quo

I'm not sure, pumpkin of mine, that I have much to tell you today.

I'm at work, which is normal for this time on a Tuesday. I'm going to the gym tonight with Harry, and your mum is going to, as she puts it "stay on the couch and log some chick time" with the able assistance of Liz, some icecream, an unfeasible number of TimTams and some trashy television.

We have found a temporary solution to the refrigerator issue, albeit an old and busted 'loaner' fridge that is not anywhere near as pretty as our 'titanium model' that looked so NICE in our kitchen. It does, however, keep food cold and milk from going off, which the titanium fridge was not so good at.

It's difficult to know what I should be telling you about. In my writing I'm attempting to answer the questions that I think you will have by the time you're old enough to ask them. Will you want to know about football? Car racing? Bathurst is on next weekend, but are you interested in that? What about fashion? Loud ties are in at the moment, and pink is going to be huge this summer. Do you want to hear about gardening? I can post a photo of my new herb garden for you....

Instead of telling you about what's happening in the world, it may be best to tell you about what's happening inside me.

It's only in the last weeks that I have begun to imagine you being here with us. Rather than thinking about Eve's pregnancy as something that is occurring now, I'm beginning to see it as the precursor to you. To you as a baby, sure, that's immediately obvious, but more than that, I'm beginning to think about you as a child.

I'm wondering what foods you will intensely dislike (don't let appearances fool you, your dad refuses to eat peas, brussels sprouts and broad beans, and your mum won't go within 8 feet of baked beans), I'm wondering what your favourite colour will be. I am filled with a desire to see you as a person rather than a tiny lump in my wife's abdomen (although I know that's going to change soon enough).

Your mum asked me the other day if I thought you were a boy or a girl. I think for some reason that you might be a boy, but there's really no difference to me. If you're a boy you'll be loud, intimidatingly intelligent, precocious, prone to injuries caused through experimental play, have gorgeous big blue eyes, and thick blond hair, just like your dad. If you're a girl you will be loud, intimidatingly intelligent, precocious, prone to injuries caused through experimental play, have gorgeous big blue eyes and thick red hair, just like your mum.

Either way, we're on a winner. Love you Pumpkin.


We still haven't chosen your name, and in a continuation of this enormously popular feature, I present more in the names that will not be yours series:

Aelwen, Arwen, Briallen, Drudwen, Ceindrych, Ceiros, Cerian, Ce, Crisiant, Faleiry, Fflur, Eiddwen, Eira, Eiry, Enfys, Eswen, Eurwen, Gwennant, Gwennog, Gwylan, Gwyneira , Haf, Heulwen

also, can you PLEASE ask your assorted grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles and assorted hangerson who read this diary every day to start leaving some comments for you? thanks.


October 04, 2004

Listeria: Take Two

So, pumpkin, the fridge died again.

I'm trying to get someone to come and fix it, but these things are fraught with difficulties.

It is a sad fact, when navigating this world, that things that should be simple are often not, and that things that should be very difficult are often very easy for other people to do.

Food in our house needs to exist in two states - frozen or shelf food. This has created some interesting "filling and nutritious" meals from our lexicon of culinary delights, and looks (by the apparent total failure of anyone to do anything about getting our fridge fixed) like it will be continuing for some time.

In fact, if you'll excuse me for a moment, I'm going to pick up the phone and yell at someone about it.

More later.

October 01, 2004

Bear with me

It is likely, punkling, that in the first portion of your life, you will be gifted with any number of stuffed and fluffy animals and other objects. Most of these, particularly early in your life, are probably going to be bigger than you are, and quite likely frighten the crap out of you.

As you grow, however, you will become increasingly more attached to those toys that manage to survive your first few years without being a) chewed by the dogs b) buried c) thrown in the creek d) defenestrated from a moving car etc etc.

These toys will have names, bestowed upon them by you or us, they will carry a few scars into their middle years. I'm sure that at least a couple of them will survive an encounter with Purdey, and probably a couple will need urgent surgery to replace limbs, but hey, that's the way these things work.

I had some stuffed toys when I was very young that stayed with me for some time. One bear in particular, named Gark (that was the sound it made), I had well into my teens. Of course, I took it on a school camp and that was the end of it. My leopard, on the other hand, has survived all such attempts at homicidal activity, and it is still with us today, lurking in his lair at the top of the wardrobe. It is this toy that I will present to you when you arrive.

He doesn't have a name (other than Leopard, but then, if your name was Leopard, would you change it?), and his eyes were replaced by buttons about 25 years ago. His tail's been sewn back on more than a couple of times, and there's a few holes in his fur that I'll endeavour to get taken care of before you get here. Apart from that, though, I can attest to him being a worthwhile and excellent companion for such pursuits as watching TV, snuggling, and guarding sleeping infants from monsters.

We'll sew his tail back on if he needs it, we'll replace his eyes if you feel the need to rip them out. Leopard has survived 30 years with me, he can survive you.

Love you.

September 30, 2004

Nature vs nurture

It is a sad fact, my darling pumpkin, that regardless of how hard you try in this life, there are certain genetic barriers that will prevent you from doing some things that you might want to. Having said that, the reverse is true, and you will be inordinately good at lots of things without trying very hard at all. This can be a problem, particularly in early years, because it can lead to a lacklustre work ethic, but I'm confident that we can beat that out of you.

Considering your two primary DNA donors, namely your mum and I, we feel that the best way to cushion the blow is to inform you now about things that you might have very little innate ability to perform. These include, but are not limited to:
  • Putting on a duvet cover - this is one of your mother's own handicaps, and means that I have sole responsibility for duvet cover application in our house
  • Cooking rice - for all of the many and varied culinary delights that will permeate your life that have been made by me, I can safely say at this stage that it's possible you will inherit my abject inability to cook rice. Even with a rice cooker. That's automatic
  • Being sick - People of a Dennis persuasion are notoriously bad patients. Penfords, particularly of the Penford-Dennis variety, are infuriating. It is likely that you will drive us to distraction at least several times
  • Ball Sports - Whilst your Uncle Tom is a professional soccer player, your mother and I both have very little capability in the department of catching and throwing / kicking /hitting balls and such pursuits
  • Singing - Please do not hate us for ensuring beyond doubt that you can never pursue a professional singing career. We're sorry.
Whilst these may seem like fairly earth shattering failures in terms of your ability to exist within and interact with society at large, there are a few upsides that are associated with being related to your mum and I. Some of these are as follows:
  • Culinary capability - Your mum is one of the world's great bakers, and I am famous for being able to conjure edible morsels from even the barest cupboard (although in extreme circumstances I guarantee only to provide "nutritious and filling" meals that may have ... interesting tastes.)
  • Eclectic musical good taste - It can be stated without fear of contradiction that Evey and I have a music collection that contains gems from many genres, and we listen to it in an equal opportunity manner that can, as with the food we cook, make for some.... interesting combinations of CDs in the changer
  • Linguistics - Whilst trying to ensure that we don't go down the road of parents who badger their children with multiplication tables when the kids are trying to run around in the backyard with no clothes on and make a mud castle, we are both people who speak English very well, and several other languages very badly (this is not true, pumpkin, by the time you're born we will both speak French as well). It is likely that you will be at least bi-lingual in your first couple of years
There are numerous other attributes that belong to only one of us (which is why we make such a good team) and it is up to the toss of the proverbial coin whether you will grow up with any of these:
  • Balance - now this one could go either way (*chortle chortle*). Notwithstanding your father's little creek excursion of a couple of days ago, it is generally held that your dad has good balance. I can still, at time of writing this (although I'm not sure that the same will be able to be said by the time you're old enough to read it) rollerblade with some skill, and ride a horse at frankly silly speeds. Your mother, however, pumpkin, is not so blessed, although she is clever enough to not try walking across stepping stones when they're a foot underwater.
  • Colours - again, the probabilities here are polarised (*chortle chortle*). Your mum is a professional artist of some standing, and therefore can recognise, categorise and effectively use a staggering number of colours with astonishing skill. Your dad has trouble picking a tie in the morning, and has to ask your mum to ensure that his shirt/tie combination won't induce epileptic fits in his co-workers.
Having said all this, according to most literature, you have at least a 50:50 chance of breaking free from these handicaps and becoming your own person. Just don't say, pumpkin, that I didn't warn you.

Love you.

September 29, 2004

And as we wind on down the road....

It is true, pumpkin, that your parents are, to phrase it mildly, discerning in their tastes. We (ok, I) have been known to indulge in lengthy rants, spiked with profanity in most cases, concerning the relative merits of various entertainment options that I find do not meet the requisite criteria that I have so carefully laid down.

To that end, Your mother and I are likely, at least in your formative years, to have fairly solid ideas about precisely what constitutes worthwhile entertainment and what does not. Whilst it would be inconsiderate of us to point blank say what you can or cannot watch/listen to (once you are old enough to decide for yourself), we (ok, I) will be likely to have fairly strong opinions on what you are watching / listening to, and reserve the right to make disparaging remarks about it.

There are, however, a few ground rules that should be of assistance to you:
  • It is likely that any recording star who pays inordinate attention to their dancing is not going to be a major force in the evolution of music, although there are exceptions (see Madonna, Kylie)
  • Artists with only one name often have a similar creative lifespan (three months) as those above, although again with notable exceptions (again, see Madonna and Kylie)
  • Movies advertised as "feel-good" and/or "charming" (usually a movie that would otherwise be advertised as "feel-good", but is set in Europe or Australia) are generally simplistic, boring and derivative, and have few redeeming virtues, although again, there are exceptions (Mostly written and/or directed by Richard Curtis)
  • Jimi Hendrix is the greatest guitarist of all time. There are no exceptions
  • Yes it is true that your maternal grandfather, your uncles and I have a fondness for late 1960s English electric blues and heavy metal. This is because it's some of the finest music ever made, and you would be doing yourself a favour by listening to some real music instead of that bloody infernal noise.
  • Playing YOUR music loudly in the expectation that you will be able to drown out MY music is a mistake. My stereo is far louder than yours (at least until your mother yells at me)
This is really just a starting point for you. Soon, I will give you a definitive list of Movies You Must See By Age 21.

love you.

ps whoops i almost forgot today's episode of names that will not be yours (apparently a crowd favourite):

Denver Kade Lional Karson Lorne Cody Walker Royal Hunter Maverick Maarten if you're a boy, and not:

Calaya Tanith Branwen Delphine Faerin Gwendolen Magdalen Mairead Niamh Roisin SiobhanTalwen Fainne if you're a girl

September 28, 2004

Back to work again.


A three day weekend was had, and lo, it was glorious. Several interesting things happened, that I think you might like to hear about.

On Friday night, the lovely Robyn and Braden came over for dinner. The (lovely) Robyn arrived bearing many gifts, including tim-tams, a bottle of lovely wine, dessert and your first item of baby clothing!

We were astonished, and it was an occasion that enabled me in particular to, for the first time, see with my own eyes something that encompassed what size and shape you will be. Being able to picture you in this outfit was an incredibly powerful experience for me. The (of course lovely) pair of yellow overalls will be just the thing for helping your dad in the garden. (click on the left below your ultrasound photo to see them)

Your mum is just starting, it seems, to feel just the tiniest bit better. She has had a bit of a hard time of it in the last week or so, feeling very nauseated but at the same time very hungry. It's been a real struggle for her to keep you fed while she feels so sick, and to come up with things that she CAN eat that are nutritious enough for you. The cravings are now running full force, and we bought our first jar of pickles yesterday (I tell you what, pumpkin, for someone who's the size of a grape, you sure eat a lot). She's such a trooper, I don't know if I'd cope being as sick as she has been.

The big thing for this long weekend was always going to be mowing the lawn. I have been successfully avoiding mowing the lawn all winter, and it had gotten to the ridiculous phase in its growth.

Bright and early on Saturday morning, we fronted up at Bunnings, thinking that, as it was grand final day, that no-one would be wanting to mow their lawn and thus we would be able to hire a mower. No such luck, pumpkin. As we arrived, the guy behind the counter was phoning around trying to find a mower for the person in front of us in line, so there was no way that we were going to get one. I decided that the time had come to take the bit in my teeth, as it were, and buy a lawnmower.

Now you'd think that this isn't such a big deal, I mean it stands to reason that someone with a lawn as large as ours would have a lawnmower, but no such thing is true. For some obscure and persistent reason, there was some part of my brain that kept insisting that this was the final straw in the domestification of your father.

It seemed, to this voice in my head, that our wedding, the purchase of a 'family truckster', the failure to actually leave the house for weeks at a time, nothing had made any impact on the ideal in my head that I was still some kind of rock and roll highway child, but that buying a lawnmower would be the end.

Still, I took a deep breath and bought one anyway, and the results will speak for themselves. We will take back the backyard, pumpkin, and you will love it.

Love you.

more names that will not be yours if you are a girl
Jayln, Ammie, Kesleigh, Cydnee, McKayla, Brinley, Rebekah, Ashlee, Makenna, Mackenzie, Nikola, Quinn, Madaline, Kaitlyne, Tayler

if you are a boy, your name will not be:
Kade, Kacey, Kahil, Kahlil, Kaleb, Kane, Karey, Karl, Karsten, Kristopher, Keenan, Kyle, Kelly, Kendrick, Kinsey, Kirkland, Kyler, Kurt, or Kurtis.

September 24, 2004

The train keeps rolling on

It's Friday, pumpkin. I know that means nothing to you, but it means something to your mother and I.

We're having a long weekend this weekend, and planning to spend it in our garden, launching "Operation Take Back the Backyard". By the time you get here, it will be late autumn, and beginning to get colder. Right now it's the beginning of spring, and beginning to get warmer. With the passing of the seasons, the imminence of your arrival makes more sense to me, and I become more driven to provide a comfortable, safe place for you to arrive in.

This weekend, that means that I am going to mow the lawn, weed the vegetable gardens and move my Large Planter Box (otherwise known as a bathtub) to a new place with a mind to making it block off a section of the courtyard that the dogs are particularly interested in, and simultaneously create a tropical herb garden that will do something to combat the smell of dogwee. Time alone will tell me if this change will do any good.

The end result of all of this work is ideally that we will once again have a backyard that we can use in the summer months. There's going to be loads of people here at that time of year from other parts of the world, and it will be nice if we can show them a bit of the way we live in Australia.

Working in the garden for us this spring is something akin to how we feel about you coming. There's a lot of work that needs to be done to adequately prepare, and then there's work to be done in making sure that the seeds we sow get the things they need in the right concentrations, but at the end there's a wonderful result that is all the more exciting because we've created it ourselves. In a way, the planting that we do this weekend will mirror your own development inside your mum. So here's to you arriving this autumn to find a beautiful blooming jasmine vine on the bungalow....

Love you.

September 22, 2004

A parental manifesto

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all pumpkins are created equal, that they are endowed with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, parents are instituted among people, deriving their just powers from the need of the pumpkin to be housed, clothed and fed. That whenever any single parent becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the pumpkin to telephone its grandparents, and to complain loudly, although it is unlikely that this will do any good.

To that end, certain rules, rights and responsibilities have been crafted that are designed to enable the harmonious functioning of the household. They include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. Pumpkins must agree to remain cute until at least their third year, so that their father is not tempted to sell them when they misbehave later
  2. Parents hereby undertake to provide food, shelter and clothing to pumpkin, on the proviso that it is the food, shelter and clothing of parental choosing, rather than pumpkin's
  3. Pumpkin must agree to minimise the number of times that pumpkin undertakes activities specifically designed to induce cardiac arrest in caregivers to one per 24 hour period
  4. Parents agree to limit the number of comments referring to pumpkin's musical choices, although retaining the right to attempt to influence this by playing Jimi Hendrix very loudly
  5. Pumpkin must attempt to refrain from playing the following games with Purdey and Kudra:
    • Horsey
    • Ear pulling
    • Poking
    • Wakeup Hitting
nb: wakeup hitting is a game enjoyed by many, in which one quietly approaches a sleeping target, then begins hitting them, shouting "wakeup hitting! wakeup hitting!"

September 20, 2004

Aching and sore, but triumphant

Tonight, my embyronic one, I went to the gym, for what is, I think, the first time in 15 years.

One of the things I decided about getting my life into the shape that I want it to be before you get here is that I need to be fit enough to at least try to keep up with you. Coupled with the fact that I have recently gone up a pant size for the first time since I was 14, I decided that a regimen of exercise may be in order.

Now you know that your uncle David is immensely fit, and so I thought that my best bet would be to accompany him to his chosen place of worship and, as he would say, smash out some reps.

I can safely say that I think I feel better. Sure, my arms and back ache, but I feel like I made progress. One of the things about going to the gym that I have discovered in my tiny exposure to it is that you actually feel like your muscles have grown. I'm looking forward, when you arrive, to looking like I'm young enough to be your dad.

I read a comic website called Penny Arcade, that you're too young to read. One of the guys who writes it had a baby just recently who, in the photo he posted, is wearing a "onesie" (gosh, pumpkin, that's an AWFUL word, I'm glad you're the one who has to wear it) that says "I Can't Read" on it.

Seeing this made me think about what we're going to dress you in when you arrive, and luckily the internet has once again proven that it can provide an answer to almost any question.

I'm sure that, as a child blessed with several great grandparents, about nineteen grandparents and more than a few interested hangers on, you will be regaled with no end of amusing tshirts

and onesies.

Dad out.

September 19, 2004

Party favours

And so it went. The party of the century took place last night amid much fanfare, and as far as I could tell, went off without a hitch.

All of the usual suspects were in attendance, no doubt people with whom you will have the pleasure of sharing company in the not too distant future. Much food was eaten (one of the things you will notice about this family, pumpkin, is that we all love to eat. Some of us love to cook, too, so it's a good arrangement.

Your mother went home early, and your father stayed at the party late to take advantage of his rapidly dissapearing 'free time'. Let it be said that he took full advantage of the situation as it presented itself, and is therefore feeling slightly the worse for wear today.

The thing about these large family gatherings, pumkin, is that one gets a chance to see people that one only sees at these large family gatherings. Old acquaintances are renewed, and (particularly with our family) , there is a chance to get your head around who all of the 'players' are.

I'm too tired to write this, I'll edit it in the morning.

Seeya pumpkin.

September 17, 2004

boys and girls

According to all of the relevant literature, pumpkin, it is about now that you will be deciding whether to be a boy or a girl.

Personally, I can see little genuine reason for choosing either, given the enlightened society in which we are privileged to live, but here's a few pointers to help you make your decision.
  • Boys, it seems, are better at hand-eye co-ordination, enabling such pursuits as football and videogames to be undertaken more easily
  • Girls are able to see and differentiate between colours more effectively than boys, making them far better at dressing themselves and choosing which colour we should paint the living room
  • Men have greater upper body strength than women, which means that they are better at taking out the garbage and mowing the lawn
  • Women have a higher tolerance for pain, and more stamina than men, making them the perfect candidates for being pregnant, giving birth, and taking care of men
As you can see, the scales are fairly evenly balanced, so the whole thing's a bit of a cointoss as far as all that goes. I guess the bigger question is how your sex will effect your mum and I.

It's easy for us to say that as long as you're healthy, we're happy (that's Not True, pumpkin, you're expected to be highly intelligent and very pretty as well), but I don't have a preference as to your gender. Either way, you will be shown the spectrum of the wonder that the world has to offer you.

Your uncle Dave's going to take you to the footy regardless. (another expectation, however unrealistic, is that you will be required to barrack for Carlton) We will only ask of you that you don't allow anyone to place barriers on what you can and can't do because of your sex.

It's a fairly well known fact around the traps, my punkin, that your Dad owns a lemon yellow ballgown, and has been known to wear it in public. I guess what I'm saying here is that, if you need to be a princess every now and then, that's ok too.

Love you pumpkin.

September 16, 2004

of naming books and truffles.

So, my pumpkling, it's been some time since we last spoke. Events have unfolded thusly in the interim:
  • Your aunt and mother had their birthdays
  • I had my monthly work crunch
  • We went out for The Most Expensive Dinner I've Ever Had
  • We bought a "Big Book of Baby Names"
Your aunt Liz (we're going to have to come up with some kind of a numbering system for these two) had her 21st birthday, although her party is not until Saturday. Given that my Nana and Grandad will be at her party, I had to call them to tell them the good news about you so that they didn't inadvertantly hear it from some other source.

Of course, on being told that her first great-grandchild was on the way, your great-grandmother reacted in much the same way as your grandmother Linda. She paused for a moment and then proceeded to tell me that she would have to dig up her knitting implements and begin to make with the knitwear. Your mother has fairly strong ideas about knitwear, and I'm fairly sure that she's going to begin downloading knitting patterns willy-nilly and forwarding them to all and sundry along with colour charts and fabric samples in the not too distant future.

My work crunch occured much as normal, with frantic activity followed by tedium followed by more activity.

Dinner on Tuesday night was truly an astonishing experience. Now pumpkling, it is documented fact that your grandfather Phillip once stated pointblank that he would never take any of the children out to dinner again (admittedly it's my recollection that this was immediately subsequent to Your Uncle David putting a handful of his spaghetti into my coke glass). I think, therefore, that it may be some time before I take you to vue de monde (like maybe 20 years), but trust me, if it's still there, I'll take you one day.

It was the most expensive dinner that I've ever had (also one of the very best). I had one glass of (very nice) wine, and your mum drank mineral water, but let me tell you pumpkino, truffles, pheasant and foie gras do not come cheap. You can pay.

In a moment of weakness at the supermarket last night, I purchased a tome entitled something closely akin to "The Big Baby Name Book". We had a browse through its many pages last night looking for some assistance in choosing your moniker, and although we're still a bit confused as to exactly what your name WILL be, we can now safely say that it will NOT be any of the following:
  • Shaniqua
  • Blayze
  • Ace
  • Dhavydd
  • Abacus
  • Cobalt
  • Spruce
  • Fawnzelle
That is all for now.

Love you pumpkin.

September 10, 2004

early nights and ravenous hordes

Your mum's asleep.

She's going to bed earlier and earlier these days, her body's taken up with the business of fashioning you arms and legs, fingers and toes, eyes, noses (only one, please) and ears. She eats four or five meals a day, comes home, watches TV for about an hour and crashes.

I look over at her constantly to make sure she's ok, that she's comfortable, that she's awake.

It's her 31st birthday on Tuesday, an event that will likely almost be lost in the gathering behemoth that is your Aunt Liz's (my sister, not the puppydropper) 21st birthday party. I think we should give her one to remember, so I've made a booking at vue de monde, which is a french restaurant in Carlton. She won't be able to drink any wine, and we'll have to go home early so that she can go to bed, but I told them that she's pregnant and they're ready for the ravenous horde that your mum makes up all by herself.

I'm not sure what I'm going to get her for her birthday. She says she wants a watch, but here's a tip for you pumpkin, if you're a boy (if you're a girl you'll already know this): When a woman says she wants something, that means that that particular item should be included in the range of gifts that you provide.

Take my word for it. Never buy a woman just one present. Four or five is much, much safer.

We're going out to breakfast tomorrow with J and R, who are having their baby very soon. They got pregnant on their honeymoon in the Maldives, in January this year. Their baby will likely be one of your very earliest playmates, and I hope that you will become good friends.

Your mum says we have to go to Garth's Place, on High Street. She had breakfast there last week, and they had cherry pancakes. By the time your uncle Harry and I had finished looking at our breakfasts she had polished them off.

Your mum likes pancakes, pumpkin. Cherry pancakes doubly so.

September 09, 2004

of careful panic, followed by tedious waits, then pink muumuus

Sorry about the lack of a post yesterday, my pumpkin, things, as you will soon discover, began working against us.

Yesterday morning promptly at 830am (15 minutes early), we presented ourselves at the desk of the fine and lovely Dr Pete. Dr Pete, you'll be pleased to know, pumpkin, is your obstetrician, or rather ours. After a short initial consultation, in which Dr Pete outlined a couple of things in the increasingly complex series of 'things we must know', your mum told him about some pain she'd been having.

It turns out that the illustrious Dr Pete is every bit as calm and professional as we'd been led to believe. While making sure that we weren't too alarmed, he picked up the phone and muscled us in to an appointment at the ultrasound place down the road. Dr Pete, my pumpkin, was worried that you had taken up residence on the Wrong Side of Town.

After a leisurely breakfast on Lygon Street, and a couple of phone calls to respective places of employment, we were on our way to the ultrasound clinic for what is technically called a "viability and location" scan.

Your mother, after a wait that was probably brief, but to my by now fairly stressed out skull seemed to take about nine hours, was told to change into a gorgeous pink muumuu style gown, and we were off.

The lovely ultrasound technician, Maria, made sure that we were comfortable and then proceeded to take some pictures of you and your surroundings to make sure that everything was ok. It turns out that we had very little to worry about. Your place of residence for the next eight months or so is exactly where it should be, and there's a picture of it over there on the left if you want to click on it to see it properly. The big dark region is called your "gestational sac", and the small white circle within it is your "yolk sac". You're in there somewhere, but you're too tiny for us to see yet.

We can't wait.

Love you, pumpkin

September 07, 2004

Listeria: the silent annoyance.

There are many things in our house, pumpkin, that annoy me. Our two dogs, who you will meet soon enough, have an apparently inexhaustible capacity to produce destruction and carnage that I am sure will be seen merely as a challenge to you.

It is a fact that the wiring in our abode leaves much to be desired, and that many of our powerpoints are dodgy to say the least. Imagine my surprise on Sunday night when I opened the freezer to make your mother up a batch of my famous bolognese sauce (equal parts Neil Perry and Phil Kowalski) and found that nothing in the freezer, pumpkin, was freezing.

Operation "prevent the pregnant woman from ingesting anything that might be even slightly dangerous" commenced in earnest, and several lovely trevally fillets, along with about a kilo of premium mince and four chicken marylands, instantly became dogfood as if at the touch of some magic wand. The magic wand called "Listeria".

Installation of a hasty and ugly extension cord appears to have rectified the issue for now, but rest assured that the creation of today's dish, "Pasta Sausagenese", was not an isolated incident in your nascent childhood. Through the stomach of your fabulous mum, you will continue, for at least the rest of this week until we get to the market again, to enjoy "interesting and creative" highlights from my culinary skillset. It's probable that tomorrow night will feature "Tuna Pesto Pastabake", which earned three stars in the recent "Pantry Culinary Centre" awards.