December 30, 2005

Ave an Avo!

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
It seems the boy likes avocado.

More later, when the temperature drops below the imperial century. It's too hot to think.

December 27, 2005


Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
It is interesting, Bram, to look at this photo. It is interesting to see the sheer amount of plunder that a single day's work can accomplish. You're almost lost in the middle of all these toys.

Never mind, we've strategically "stored" many of them, so that you won't be too overwhelmed, and you'll be able to acclimatise to them slowly.

Now then, where was I?

Ah yes. Lunch.

As always, the PeenyDeeny clan put on a feast of epic proportions. Following an entree of prawns and oysters (of which you did not partake except as an observer), we moved onto the mains. Several salads, UnkyDave's DoubleCooked LambShoulder, an entire salmon and Grandad's Ham, combined with your old man's effort at the turkey (free reg required) ensured that no-one was ever going to go hungry. Certainly you had a crack at both the potato salad and some of the salmon, and pronounced both of them fit for Bramble Consumption, a high accolade indeed.

After the table was cleared, in a maneuver closely resembling the first days of the Battle of Hastings, chairs were pushed back, belts undone, and the serious business of present giving began.

To say that you, by this stage were slightly the worse for wear would be an understatement.

To say that you are a child who likes to be part of proceedings would similarly do little to serve the truth.

To say, then, that you were by this stage overdue for a nap? That would be about the size of it.

More later.

Love you.

All Presents and Accounted For

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
Opening presents on Christmas Day, pumpkin, is a task best undertaken with expert help.

It was thus, then, that your mum and dad gave you a hand with unwrapping the many and astonishing gifts that you received on this festive day.

The bounty was astonishing. Surpassed only by the feast.

We woke (early) on Christmas Morning, after going to sleep (late) on Christmas Eve. Late due, more than anything else, to the chorus of barking dogs in our neighbourhood (not least of which our own). I'm convinced that, in our house move, we have somehow created a situation in which the dogs who live in this area are now at the perfect equidistance to each other to create some kind of doggy barking resonant frequency. Like signal fires, punkin, each one sets another off, and another and another, but then the last one faintly hears the first one and starts again.

In any case, sleep was eventually obtained, and Christmas Morning was upon us.

Unky Dave made the scene complete, and we sat down (with cofffffeeeeee) to open stockings and to give Unky Dave his Giant Present.

There had been some discussion around the title of Largest Christmas Present, but once we got to your Grandad's house, it was obvious who the winner was. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

We managed to get all of the techamanology working well enough that we could spend some time talking over the intermawebnet with your grandparents overseas, although it was not without its small issues. It was great fun to be able to see them, and I'm sure they thought it was fun to see you.

It was immediately after this that your Unky Dave set off for his house (apres a quick bacon sarnie) and your mum and dad set upon the cooking for the big day ahead.

Having just moved into a new house, its no surprise that we're not 100% across all of the little foibles and quirks of our new kitchen just yet, most particularly the fact that the oven has decided it wants to be a HOT oven, and that if you dare to turn it down below about 200 degrees, it will just go out.

It would be unfair to suggest that I had a tantrum.

Let it be said that the oven and I had what would be recognised around the world in any language as a frank and open exchange of views and ideas. That I was frank, punkin, and open, when I informed the oven of my requirements in the roasting of turkeys, and that I would not hesitate in the slightest to reduce said oven to its component molecules should it continue to fail to meet my needs in this area.

Eventually, the oven and I brokered a compromise, whereby I would not set the oven to under 200 degrees, but the oven would in fact stay cool enough to properly roast a turkey. This was accomplished through the clever strategy of opening the oven door every fifteen minutes through the two hour cooking time of said turkey, and might I say it worked a treat. Of course, it could easily have been a complete disaster, but there you go.

So with literally minutes to spare before the 2pm deadline, we were out the door, turkey safely ensconced in a layer of foil and a layer of esky, Bramble safely ensconced in his carseat.

To Be Continued.

December 25, 2005

Joy to the World

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
Liveblogging Christmas day. If I wasn't such a massive geek, I'd be surprised at myself. We've already done the first video hookup with both the USA and the UK, but there's always time for more webcam fun.

Your mum's Martha Stewart work with the stockings was much appreciated by all, whilst their contents were both a revelation and a joy. The highlight of mine would have to be the motorised automatically rotating lollipop. Every dad needs one, don't you know.

We'll be adding to this post as the day goes on....

Love you.

December 21, 2005


Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.

I don't know, punkling, that I was prepared for this.

I don't know that I was ready for this.

I don't know that I was in a position to be ok with this. To walk into the living room and see you standing up in your playpen.

Grinning at me.

You're supposed to be an INFANT, punkin, you're supposed to be all helpless and needy and, you know, NEEDY.

For me to feel like I'm somehow superflouous to proceedings, punkin, for me to feel like my presence is no longer required, well let's just say I thought it might take a little bit longer than this. Like maybe until you were 14 and I am the uncoolest man in the world and oh my god why won't I let you paint your room black and have a snake.

(Having said that, bramble, I'm more than likely to let you do both of those things, provided you give me a decent argument in favour of them)

The last few days have been a real trial for us. Christmas is marching towards us at a great rate of knots, the Great AirConditioner Saga continues unabated (along with it's lesser known sequel the Great Dishwasher Saga), your mum's got some sort of a cold and you've picked up some strange rash.

You spent last night tossing and turning and waking up every hour or so. I got up to talk to you at 430, when you woke for what seemed like the 25th time (but which may have only been the 22nd or so) and we spent twenty minutes chatting in the loungeroom. I tried to give you a drink of cool water, but you're not interested in eating or drinking anything that doesn't come out of boobs.

I think it's really starting to take a toll on her. I managed to feed you some pureed pears last night, but only through the clever means of waiting until you opened your mouth to wail and then shoving some food in. Whilst effective in achieving my aims, it wasn't a strategy that was particularly fun for either of us.

Love you.

December 19, 2005

Strength and Honor

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
It's no secret, punkin, that I've let my gym responsibilities slip considerably since you were born. The finely sculpted pecs and arms package that was beginning to take shape early in 2005 has seemed to slip southwards in the wake of a regime heavy on the lack of sleep and sedentary couchtime.

Clothes that had previously made your dad look like some kind of antipodean adonis started to betray the burgeoning behemoth at his waistline. For the first time in over 10 years, bramble, I seriously considered going up a pantsize. This is, of course, unforgiveable.

So back to the gym went your old man. Old being the operative word. Several times during the carefully constructed lightweight and easy on the system back to working out workout, my eyes crossed and I could feel my muscles getting ready to fail me.

I got so used to feeling strong that I think I failed to notice it all fading away. Weights that used to be not difficult to lift had suddenly become impossible to move. The number of chinups that I could do had plummeted. My bike leg was in serious danger of being truncated. Only halfway through it, I turned, breathless, to your uncle Harry and showed him my heartrate. I didn't know they went that high in people who weren't suffering cardiac arrest.

But I finished it punkin. I smashed it out.

And despite the deep pain and aches in all of my major muscle groups for the next two days, I'm going back tomorrow night.

Because I'm not going to be the dad who pants at the side of the soccer field and watches his kid run rings around the bouncing dog.

Because I'm not going to be the dad who drives everywhere.

Because I'm going to be the dad who teaches you to rollerblade, and ride a bike. I probably won't teach you how to kick a footy, because frankly I'm not very good at it, but I'm planning on being the dad who can lift you up with one hand for at least a little while to come.

Love you.

December 16, 2005

Festive Us

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
There are a very few days left to go, punkin, until your first Christmas.

Naturally, given your status as Most High Exalted Grandson, GrandNephew and Great Grandson, gifts from afar have been taxing the systems and logistics of the local mail delivery experts, and our tree is beginning to develop a siege mentality.

We went on a shopping trip to find some stockings to hang from our mantelpiece, unfortunately it seemed that we left our run a little late, so your mother (who is, it should be said, immensely talented) decided to whip out the sewing machine and make some herself.

Christmas morning looks like it's going to be a very special time for us. Your uncle Dave is going to come by to open stockings with us, and he and I are currently workshopping a technology solution that will allow grandparents of the overseas variety to participate in this ceremony via the joy of the interwebnet.

This photo also serves to show off your two newest toys, being your bottom teeth.

You're immensely happy with them, a point which you do not hesitate to prove by biting anything and everything you can get your chubby little fists on, including me.

We also seem to have discovered the solution to the problem of you refusing to eat mashed up stuff off a spoon. It seems (no surprise here) that you are not of the opinion that you should be FED, rather that you should be in charge of the food acquisition timetable. For the purposes of this particular photoshoot, this involved allowing you to use your hands to disseminate your pureed carrot as you saw fit. Luckily, everything involved was of the wipe clean variety.

Love you, even when you're covered from head to toe in mashed carrot.

December 13, 2005

Reflections on the bathroom wall

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
There are good things, punkin, about living so far away from everyone else in the world.

The primary good thing is that, when people come to see you from far away, they stay for long enough that you feel like you really got some quality time with them.

The flip side of that is that, once they go home again, you're left feeling completely emotionally drained.

These people we love, they live so far away. We can call them and talk to them on the internet and send them photos of you but that's not enough. When people arrive (from behind the big sliding doors at the airport, which is where I think you've decided grandmothers come from), they reach out for you, and when they leave, you're the last person they say goodbye to.

Someone much cleverer than me came up with the term "bundle of joy". Certainly, with as much as you're wriggling around these days, it would be better to call you a "wriggle of joy", but the metaphor stands.

You bring joy, Bram, to those around you.

People have been telling us from day one that you're a goodlooking baby. With your dad's genes, there was little hope of avoiding that, but I think there's more to it than that.

It's no accident that I post lots of photos of you smiling, angel. I certainly take a lot of photos, this is a well known fact, but I wouldn't be able to post any if you weren't predisposed to the way you are. Everytime I look at you, unless you're in your pre-nap grumpy phase (which, to be fair, can last up to fourteen days), you're smiling at me. You smile at me, and your mum, and your grandparents and your great-grandparents and your aunts and uncles and godparents and friends and the lady at the supermarket and the dogs, punkin, like your face is about to break. Like there's too much love in your tiny body and it has to get out somehow. Like your sole purpose is to make people smile back at you.

It's that... skill, that ability that makes you the joy to be around. That takes me through the dark hours when you wriggle and scream. That makes me wish, almost as soon as you've gone to sleep (ok maybe two hours later), that you'll wake up again so we can keep playing.

Love you.

December 06, 2005

Seven Months is a long time in car seats

Plane Surfing

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
Uncle Steve and Aunt Vanessa, punkin, have hit the skies.

They practice an ancient art, I don't know if I've told you this before, the art known as hitchhiking. Now most people will tell you that this is just a hackneyed method of getting from place to place by asking people for rides in their cars, but Captain Kowalski, punkin, takes it to a whole new level.

Your Uncle Steve hitchhikes, you see, on aeroplanes.

Now air travel is very expensive for the masses. If you or I (well, actually, for the next year and a half, you travel for free), but if I were to turn up at a gate lounge, gaze longingly at a boarding 747 and ask very nicely if I could just come along for the ride, there's a fair chance they'd laugh at me right before they called security.

But Cappy, punkin, Cappy doesn't have these problems. Cappy and Vanessa just roll up, say hello, and more often than not, get ushered onto the flight with time to spare. This is the joy that is being an airline pilot.

Of course, it doesn't necessarily work exactly like that. Often, particularly during busy periods, there's no room at all on the flight, and so Captain Kowalski and his steadfast partner Captain Aunt Vanessa can spend an inordinate amount of time hanging around in airports waiting to find an open flight.

In recent memory, that has entailed them sitting at Los Angeles International (LAX for those of us in the know) for up to three days trying to get out to Australia. When your mum and dad got married, Unky Steve almost gave up hope, and hopped a flight to Taipei because it was the only one going west.

Suffice to say that, as of right now, we know that they're in Sydney. As to when they actually get going to head back to the land of the free, who can say. As to the route that they might take to get there, it could be long and convoluted. Earlier this week, they were considering going via Hong Kong, then Alaska. Looking at a map of the world, that is most certainly the Long Way Round.

Love you.

December 04, 2005

Extra points for the dismount

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
It's true, punkin, that your family is an unconventional lot, but I think you might be taking it a bit far when choosing to celebrate your 7/12th birthday by leaping headfirst from the couch.

The gravity of the occasion was, I think, somewhat mollified by the fact that you stopped crying long before your mother did. Or that when we got to the doctor's, you grinned, bounced and then tried to grab her torch when she shone it in your eyes.

Certainly, as a child of mine, I'm assuming that this will not by any means mark our last trip to the doctor at midday on a Sunday. Certainly I'm not assuming that this blotch of Betadine will be the last that graces your noggin. I'm glad that you now have a grasp of the routine, that you know how the whole thing works, this giving your parents heart attacks thing. I personally wasn't aware exactly how fast I could make it from the study to the living room, but when I heard the thump and your mum started screaming, it turned out to be about 3.5 seconds.

I don't remember running around our bed, so I'm thinking that it's possible I jumped over it. By the time I got there, she'd scooped you up in her arms and cradled you to her. I think at that stage she was still too upset to be crying, certainly she couldn't get her mouth around the words to tell me what had happened.

It didn't take very long after that for me to figure out that you'd probably be ok. More than anything else, I think, the fact that you grabbed the frozen teething ring that I was trying to ice your bump with and stuck it in your mouth let me know that you were still with us.

But you were so pale, punkling. So pale.

For about a minute after that, we all stood in the kitchen. Not sure of what to do or how to go about it. Your mum was beside herself, but I couldn't spare any arms for her because I was trying to get a look at your "wound". I'm calling it a "wound", because by the time I got a look at it, you had a graze about the size of a matchhead on your bonce.

I think your bruise is going to be pretty impressive though. I'm fairly sure that we're going to get some interesting looks in the supermarket.

Once both of you calmed down a bit, we got you on the boob and I called the doctor. While I was speaking to the nurse, she asked me if you were looking alert. I looked up at you and you grinned at me. I really wish you wouldn't do that at moments of high drama, monkey, because it makes daddy's heart go all wobbly and I can't concentrate on what I'm doing.

So we got you to the doctor, you grinned and bounced and laughed. She told us (as do so many people) that we had a gorgeous, happy baby. She dabbed a bit of betadine on your noggin, and told us to take you home. So we did.

You just woke up from your post examination nap, and you look ok to me.

Love you.

December 01, 2005

Summer in the City

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
Today is the first day of summer, punkin. Summer is a time of great joy, particularly for your dad, who has a fair bit of the old Seasonal Grumpiness Disorder. Winter inevitably sends me into a bit of a funk, from which I only emerge when the sun starts poking its head over the horizon again.

I've especially been looking forward to this summer, mostly because it's going to be your first. Watching you early in your life, I wasn't sure that you would be aware enough of your surroundings to appreciate it, but seeing you now I'm sure that you will.

You'll also get the chance to have your first Christmas, an event that will unload in less than four weeks. Everyone's already gearing up for it, it's even likely that our tree will go up in a few days. Your first present (from Aunty Wendy, natch), arrived in the post a few days ago, and it's likely that it will be followed by several thousand more. I'm not sure what your mum and dad are going to get you yet. I really wanted to get you some vintage space lego, but I don't think that you'll really appreciate the intricacies of the Big Space Ship just yet.

Tonight, we're off to a barbecue at your grandfather's house. By now you're an old hand at barbies, so I'll only drop you a few choice pointers in terms of making sure you know where your sausage is before we get there.

Love you.