October 31, 2005

Birthdaypalooza Part II

It is a truth held to be self evident, punkin, that boys are loved by their mums.

Your mum loves you more than you will ever know, so much that she gets up two or three times in the middle of the night to give you sustenance, either physical or emotional, and asks nothing in return.

For many years, I was mystified by my own mother's requests for, on her birthday, "just a card". I didn't realise then, that a parent's love is overwhelming and all-consuming. That an acknowledgement of that love from your offspring is the greatest gift you can receive. That a smile or a laugh, or a cuddle, is worth every second you spend tearing your hair out and more.

Today, in this country at least, is your grandmother's 55th birthday. She won't mind me telling the world how old she is, she's proud of being that old. She's proud that she has raised three beautiful boys of her own and helped to raise countless other foundlings that happened across her doorstep.

My mum's always been the ubermum, the mum for a generation of kids. Her "mum action" is legendary, and she will mother anyone, anytime.

I think mostly it has to do with her inbuilt sonar for anyone having a hard time. She seems to have some kind of empathic sixth sense, an astonishing level of awareness for people who need her help.

This has helped her immensely in her chosen profession, that of librarian. Librarians are, by their nature, holders of a sacred trust, and your grammy is a proud exponent of that trust we place in them as a whole. She has an encyclopaedic knowledge of books, and agonises over the right book for any person as if it were a matter of life and death. She takes this responsibility very seriously, and woe betide the hapless neanderthal who fails to understand that a library is a place of peace and harmony.

Your grammy takes other things seriously too, punkin, which is a bit of a surprise in someone so lighthearted. She takes food and wine very seriously, two disciplines that she spent a long time fostering in her kids, which only started to pay off once we were well into our 20s. I'm not saying that I entirely forgive her the interminable eggplant casserole, or the 74th iteration of "stir fried scheisse", but I'm eternally grateful for Saturday lunch.

Your grammy and Grandad used to, when your uncles and I were much younger, arise early on Saturday mornings and make a pilgramage to the Queen Victoria Market to procure foodstuffs for the week ahead. On their return, the table would be loaded up with exotic sustenance from far and wide, and we would sit down to a feast of cheeses, meats, breads and salads. Requests were taken, but sometimes our descriptions left something to be desired, and they searched for months for "soft salami" before we all figured out that I meant liverwurst.

I guess what I'm trying to say here, punkin, is that I love my mum.

That your grammy loves you.

That it's her birthday, and this is her card. Handmade, after a fashion.

Love you mum.

Love you too, monkey.

Of course, your grammy's not the only person who gets to have a birthday in October, or even the only grandparent of yours. Your Grandad Jon celebrated his birthday just the other day. He tells me that he's only 43, but I'm not sure that I beleive him. Certainly I distinctly remember getting sorted to gift him a ride in a Ferrari for his 50th birthday, which is an episode that occured in the past, so let's take that with a grain of salt.

It could be time, however, for my special birthday gift to your Grandad, which is to lay to rest the rumor I so viciously circulated. Your Grandad did NOT play bass in Elton John's band in the seventies.

He played keyboards.

Love you punkin, and all of your many grandparents.

Happy birthday Mum and Jon.


Apparently we're having a problem with one of these photos. It's not blogger, it's flickr that's the issue. I'm working on it. In the meantime, enjoy a photo of your grandparents in many hues.

October 27, 2005

Oh sleep! It is a gentle thing, beloved from pole to pole*

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
Thankyou, punkin, for somehow knowing at which point your parents were about to break.

The very night after your mother lay in my arms, ready to cry at your proclivity to wake three times in the night, at midnight, 3am and 5am, you gave us a gift that will be likely one of the most wonderous you give us in these first few years of your life, handmade cards notwithstanding.

Last night, punkin, even before the onset of TopModel at 8:30, you went meekly to your bed, and slept the sleep of the just and the righteous and beautiful babies until 6:30 this morning.

This, punkling, was the greatest thing that you could have done for your mum and I. We were getting ready to investigate any and all methods of ameliorating your needs in this regard, including but not limited to bringing you in to sleep with us. Of course, this was a Last Resort, and it is with joy that I tell you, an unneccesary one. I don't know the reason for your sudden shift back to a full night's sleep, but I can tell you that it's directly linked to how I feel today.

And how I feel today is, without resorting to too much in the region of extraneous hyperbole, bulletproof.

I bounded from my bed this morning, ready to take on the world. Ready to face whatever fate and the furies wanted to throw at me. Then I got to work, but that's a whole nother story.

Speaking of stories. I need to talk to you about books. I know that your current usage for books, particularly "Babar Goes To The Doctor", consists of ascertaining their 'mouth feel', and feel it's important to let you know that they have other uses. What those uses are can wait, but this is just a heads-up.

Love you.

*Samuel Taylor Coleridge

October 23, 2005


Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
Bathtime is fast becoming a nightly ritual for us, punkin. It seems to be that, as you grow older, we need to provide you with a concrete point of transition between "daytime" (wakeup, boob, bounce, bounce, bounce, wriggle, bounce, wriggle, grizzle, sleep), to "nighttime" (wakeup, boob, bounce, grizzle, sleep).

The bath seems to be the best way to do this. It gives you an opportunity to spend some quality time with a parent, it gives you an opportunity to kick kick kick to your heart's content, and it lets us make sure that you're clean and ready to take on the evening's entertainment.

Because of the strange and bizarre architecture of our bathroom, someone has to get into the bath with you, which gives us a chance to really get up close and enjoy this time with you as much as you do. The next lot of photos to come up will show just how much you do enjoy it, and your squeals of joy while you kick and splash are, I know, just precursors to the joy that you will show when I introduce you to other pursuits.

We're moving house soon, a saga that will no doubt take up more column inches here in the near future, but one of the (many) things that I'm excited about in our new house is that the bathtub will be easily accessible. This means that I'm going to be able to let other people have a turn at what is surely one of the most fulfilling and rewarding things that you and I do together.

Love you.

October 20, 2005

Rice Cereal - Big Success

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
Pureed Carrot, not so much.

marvellous melbournian

dawn cityscape avec balloons
Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
Your mother, punkin, has expressed on more than one occasion her surprise at realising that, when you start to speak, it will be with an Australian accent.

More than that, punkin, when you grow up, you're going to be able to tell people that you're from Melbourne.

Far be it for me to lapse into jingoistic parochialism, but here's the deal. Melbourne is, pound for pound, the greatest city in the world.

I don't have a whole lot of empirical evidence on which to support this claim, so for the most part you're going to have to take my word for it, but I'm your father, so you should trust me implicitly anyway.

But wait. It appears that I have some supporters. The Economic Intelligence Unit (Unit of what I'm not exactly sure), suggest that, when examining cities around the world for 40 criteria, grouped under the headings of stability; healthcare; culture and environment; education; and infrastructure, Melbourne comes second in the world for "Liveability".

On further examination of these findings, however, we are presented with an anomoly. It appears that the winner of this survey (Vancouver), and the two cities with whom Melbourne shares second place (Geneva and Vienna) are all, punkin, places in which it snows.

This is not to suggest, punkling, that I am some kind of snow hater. I have been known, on more than one occasion, to involve myself in various winter sports, including but not limited to, skiing (badly), snowboarding (with slightly more success) and tobogganninnng (ask your Uncle Steve about how to build a tobogggan track, he's the world champion).

What I'm instead suggesting, Bramble, is that, in preference to living somewhere that has an annual snowfall, one should instead travel to a place that has an annual snowfall, so that one can enjoy the snow at one's own convenience. One should not have to "enjoy" the snow by shovelling it out of one's way in order to get to one's car and go to work. One should not have to further "enjoy" the snow by then shovelling it off one's car at 6am.

By using this carefully crafted and incredibly compelling argument to add several thousand points to the score of Melbourne, we find that it is in fact the world's most liveable city, and therefore a fabulous place to be born and live.

Love you.


The lovely and wonderful Kathy has extended an invitation to all and sundry Melbourne baby bloggers to a get-together. Details as follows:

The Inaugural Melbourne Baby Blogger Picnic

When: 1pm to 5pm
Sunday 4 December OR Saturday 10 December OR Sunday 11 December
Where: A central city location, TBC by email to respondents

Please visit her to RSVP, and/or to vote for a date.

October 17, 2005

Spring Has Sprung

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
I've been hesitant, Brambling, to talk about your tree. Mostly, I think, because I wasn't sure that when I repotted it that I'd done a sterling job on it, and it was looking rather a lot like a very tall twig for some time.

We mentioned this tree recently, your Grammy and I, when we were talking about Rae, and it is true that in fact, ensconced in Rae's snuggles as you were, you chose to not journey with us to pick it up. The genesis of this tree, though, goes back further than that.

Your Rowdy Grammy, Bramble, has a number of very good friends. Mostly, they are friends who share her love of good things to eat and drink, and have an appreciation for the finer things in life, such as a decent book and a lovely tree. Certainly, if it's possible to combine any or all of these (f'rinstance, combining a good book with a glass of lovely lovely wine), then all the better.

So when your Grammy's great friend Lola, having heard at length of the preparations for your arrival (your Grammy, punkin, in addition to being Rowdy, is fairly Loquacious), asked that she be able to buy you a tree, we thought that this was a Fabulous Idea.

Thinking about the kind of tree we'd want to get you, one that would grow with you, and be a source of enjoyment for many years to come, we had two major criteria. Firstly, it had to be a tree that one would be able to climb in years to come. Being that both your mother and I were inveterate tree climbers in our youth, this was our primary consideration. Lots of trees, however, fit this category, without providing further benefit to society in general, or to our kitchen. Which brings us to our second criterion. The tree had to provide a culinary benefit.

As a sidebar here, we should note that your mum and dad are great devotees of the joy provided by free homemade pesto, and that your dad doesn't like pine nuts very much. Discovering that we had a large walnut tree hanging over from next door's backyard provided a welcome respite from having to actually pay for something that I don't like very much, and I won't be betraying any confidences to tell you that the secret ingredient in our homemade pesto is walnuts.

So a walnut tree it was. A "Wilson's Wonder", to be precise.

As previously covered, after discussing the matter with Rae and Annie, we left you with them and your Grammy, and piled into the blonk with Grandad Phil to go and buy this tree. Finding the tree proved to be much less hassle than buying a pot for it, as we don't want to put it in the ground until we buy a house. Fitting a 12 foot high tree into the blonk also proved interesting, but fit it in we did, and got it home and planted it where it now sits, enjoying the spring sunshine.

Over the months since your birth, it's fended off a couple of dog 'explorations', a bit of not very nice weather, and a fairly cack-handed potting experience. In the last few weeks it's started to show the first signs of life, and I'm proud to report that it's standing tall and strong in its beautiful pot. When we make the move to our new house, it's coming with us, and I'll make sure to put it in a place where it can enjoy the coming summer months with us, with a view to one day lounging in its shade and watching you climb it (grab your dad some walnuts, kid)

Thankyou Lola, for providing this child his first horticultural experience.

Love you.

October 12, 2005

The cake in question

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
Truly an astonishing exercise in baking.

Harrowing Hiatus

It's fairly obvious, punkin, that your dad has taken some time off from posting. What may not be obvious to our dear readers (many of whom are coming through from FamilyMan), are the reasons for this. They are many.

First and foremost, these past days were spent in saying our final farewells to our great friend Rae. I won't talk too much more about this, other than to say that her service (titled The Raelogy) was one of the most touching experiences of my life. We laid her down in a beautiful spot on a fine day in spring, and as we scattered rose petals on her coffin, I could hear the raucous laughter of children playing in the school across the road. As someone who dedicated much of her life to education, I think she'd like it there.

Following this, your Unky Dave and I traveled on to a pub in North Fitzroy to have a drink and a laugh with many of the people who'd been involved, and your father had entirely enough to drink, a fact that he failed to comprehend upon returning home, where he demolished a bottle of cheap red wine. Bad Idea.

Of course, the intervening period between this missive and the last was not entirely composed of time spent saying goodbye to people.

On Sunday, we went to the birthday party of your mate Samuel. Fun was had by all, not least of which because of the Truly Astonishing Birthday Cake. Apparently I know the artist who put this great work of cakey sculpture together, and I will certainly endeavour to requisition something at least as impressive for your first anniversary of birth.

Speaking of anniversaries, there's something interesting that happened today. This day marks the one thousand and ninety fifth day since "Go Go Gadget Rings Day", otherwise known as the day on which your mum and I publicly announced our intention to spend the rest of our lives enjoying a cornucopia of delights together.

While I was awake at 4am this morning (thank you for waking me up and giving me time to have this reflective interlude), I pondered the best way to tell your mother that I treasured each and every one of those one thousand and ninety five days.

I wondered how best to express the overwhelming conviction in my mind, that if asked again who I would choose to spend the rest of my life with, the answer would be her.

That this answer would be unequivocal.

That you could ask me over and over, at least once for every one of the one thousand and ninety five days that we've been ensconced in matrimony, and it would be unchanged.

That her laugh, her smile, and her unbridled passion for life are the fuel that keeps me moving and motivated.

That I treasure every second I get to spend with her, and that those few tiny moments each day in which we sit together in silence are my most valued.

That every time I look into your eyes, I see her reflection, and it makes me fall in love with her all over again.

I love you, and your mum.

Happy Anniversary Evey.

October 06, 2005

What the heck? - A story in photos Part I

What the heck? - A story in photos Part II

Growing bigger, growing older

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
Whilst the rest of the world continues to make big changes around you, punkin (and rest assured, there is a LOT going on), you continue on your journey to becoming, as your Uncle Dave puts it with such aplomb, "a massive unit".

Of course, he's plotting for your elevation to a cornerstone of the Carlton back line, much in the vein of SOS, but my goals for you are somewhat more pedestrian, being of the "just be a good human being" boring old dad variety.

The chief very big thing that's going on is that we are soon to move house. You see, punkling, the world as we know it works like this. Houses are very very expensive. Like, much more than a pie. Because houses are so very expensive, (more than several pies), if you want to buy one, you have to borrow the money off a bank.

Well we use the term "borrow" pretty loosely here. What actually happens is that a bank rents you the money. In the great and glorious world that is capitalism, however, in order for one to gain access to these astronomical sums, one must first prove that one doesn't actually need them.

So, in order for us to purchase for your childhood years a lovely weatherboard house in an inner northern suburb with easy access to public transport and primary schools and kindergartens and milk bars, we must jump through several hundred administrative hoops and fill in about forty brazillion forms.

Having done all this, of course, there's every chance that the powers that be will laugh in our general direction and, pointing to my small indiscretions of times past (remember how I told you to pay bills on time, punkin?), say that there is no way on earth that we can be trusted with said astronomical sum. Never mind, punkin, that we'll be pretty easy to find if anything goes wrong, given that they will Know Where We Live.

In any case, if such a calamity occurs, we will simply again take up the charm and delight that is renting a house from somebody else, for such a time as to allow said indiscretions to... drop off the page.

Of course, this entire rigmarole is immaterial to you, whose chief problems at the moment revolve around how precisely you can fit your entire left foot in your mouth, and what on earth is this rice cereal business, it's a poor substitute for the 2005 Chateau du Boob, that's for damn sure.

Love you.

October 05, 2005

Rae and Grammy Linda

Rae and Linda
Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
Far be it for me to suggest, punkin, that it is somehow NECESSARY to have a bottle of red wine involved when one enjoys time with those we love....

It does, however, make for the easy flow of conversation and the further enjoyment of whatever fabulous nosh is on offer.

I spoke to Annie today. Annie is Rae's partner, an astonishing woman who you will get to spend considerable time with as you grow. She told me that the current thoughts around Rae's memorial service are fluctuating between getting a bright red coffin, or having a painting bee and asking people to add personal touches to what Annie called "that beautiful woman's final accessory".

Annie spoke about her grief, saying that she felt afloat in a giant ocean. That every now and then she'd feel like she was getting on top of it and then get swamped all over again. The overall impression I got, though, was one of relief. Relief that this woman she loved, who had fought so hard for so long, got a chance to close her eyes and rest. Relief that she got to go peacefully, in their bed, alongside her lover. That her final words had been asking Annie when they would go to Paris again.

It makes me feel some measure of solace, knowing that her thoughts as she was leaving must have been of visiting Paris in the spring with her partner.

Annie, Ben and Christian are asking that people make donations to the Breast Cancer Foundation in lieu of buying flowers, and that if people do want to bring flowers, that they bring a posy from their own garden. I think I'm going to put together a little bunch of herbs. The rosemary and the thyme are both flowering right now, and it strikes me that if I'm going to give Rae a bouquet to take with her, that it should be a bouquet garni. I think she'd like that.

Love you.

October 04, 2005

Vale, Rae Brady, Vale.

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
I have to tell you something, punkin.

Today I said goodbye to someone who you will never get a chance to know properly. Someone who held you close when you were very young. Someone whose capacity for love and laughter was unmatched by anyone I've ever met.

Rae was a rare and beautiful flower, sent to us by who knows what other forces. A shining light who shone on this world and all who were privileged enough to spend any time with her.

Rae was your Grammy's very good friend, and had shown your mum and dad (and, during the all too brief time you got to spend with her, you), an enormous generosity of spirit.

When good people get taken from us, punkin, we tell ourselves that we need to keep an eye on the big picture. That they are taken because they have a higher purpose, a greater duty. That God, or Vishnu, or Buddha has seen their great good works and has taken them unto his or her or its bosom. That their essence and soul will permeate the world, to bring love and light and happiness to millions.

That doesn't make it any easier.

So then we try to hold them in our hearts, because that's all we have.

Know this. Rae loved you. Rae loves you. Wherever she is now, she held you when you were very small, and passed on to you some of her spirit.

Some small part of her will live on in you, and me, and her kids Ben and Christian, and her wonderful partner Annie, and your Grammy and Grandad, and everyone whose lives she got a chance to touch.

Never miss a chance to tell the people you love that you love them. It could be the last chance you get.

Love you.

October 03, 2005


Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
It's a moment in every young man's life, punkin, when the joy and laughter that is a barbie becomes apparent. The beauty that is entailed in sitting around a hot bit of metal and searing hunks of flesh while imbibing lovingly crafted concoctions of hops and water is something that some people never realise.

Of course, the opportunity to use such an occasion to work one's wiles on members of the opposite sex should not be underestimated, and I have great pleasure in informing the world at large that you returned from your first such social soiree with a young lady's address clutched in your hot little, somewhat sweaty hand.

I'm sorry about the hat.

Love you,