December 11, 2006

A sense of direction

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
The darkest night always ends with a bright and shining morning.

December 06, 2006

Pollock or Picasso?

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Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
Guest post from Evey (as dictated by Bill)

Life goes on...

It would seem, my son, my beautiful son, that you have discovered the joys of body art.

Generally, most major artists stick to media other than their own bodies on the grounds that it sells considerably better (Keith Haring being a notable exception to this rule). This is not by any means an attempt to discourage you from exploring each and every artistic opportunity you find (but please don't draw on any of daddy's electronic equipment using permanent markers).

I cannot express here how fervently I hope that you inherit your mother's gift for the artistic rather than my own (although your unauthorised modifications to my carefully calibrated subwoofer settings do not bode well for the future). I'm writing this post to you over the phone through the nimble fingers and nimbler mind of your wonderful mother.

I'm not sure how long I'm going to be away for, but I think of you, your bubbling laugh, your shining smile and your 1.8 second hugs every second of every day.

I'll be back to you as soon as the four winds permit.

But while I'm gone keep hold as tightly of this as I wish I could keep hold of you.

I love you.


December 01, 2006

The long dark night

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
As with every alarming post on here, punkin, we should of course begin by saying that everything is under control. That forces for good and righteousness are in action, and that everything, punkin, is Going to Be OK.

It will not, however, be without its challenges.

Sometimes, through no fault of anyone, the darkness and the clouds roll in on you, and it doesn't seem like there's any way out. Sometimes, it seems like trying to wait through the dark night to the dawn of a new day, a brighter day, a day more full of sunshine is too long to bear.

Sometimes, it hits you in a wave, then another wave, then a crescendo, a building symphony of weight crashing on your head, without surcease or a chance to take a breath.

It's at these times, punkin, and especially at these times, that we must reach out to those who love us and ask for their help. It is at those times alone that we truly find out who's on our team.

A much wiser man than I once said that you will never know who's on your side until you ask them to go into bat. That's probably not the right quote, but I think the sentiment stands.

Your dad's a bit sick, and I'm going to go away for a little while. I might not see you for a few days. You should hold on tight to your mum, she's going to need those strong little arms around her neck and those glorious sloppy kisses more than ever. You should remember that you, Bramble, are the sunshine for us. You are the dawn that we look forward to (sometimes a little more literally than we would like, you ARE allowed to wake up after 6am you know).

And you, my wee monkey man, you are the lifeline to which I will cling while I'm gone.

You won't ever know how much I love you. One day I hope you'll read this (by now interminably lengthy) letter to you and begin to grasp just a tiny iota of what you mean to me, begin to take hold of the idea that I will be here for you, looking after you and over you and around you and behind you and in front of you, for the rest of your life.

Know at least for now that you're the one I'm here for. That my only job, the most important job anyone could ever have, is to be your dad.

And I plan to stick around for long enough to be able to tell these last words so that you'll understand.

I Love You.

November 12, 2006


Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
When I'm away for work, sitting alone in some anonymous hotel room, contorting my body so I can make the phone cable stretch to the bed and connect with the outside world over dialup (ancient technology, punkin, don't worry about it, just think about it like tin cans and string), this is the face that I see, that I want to come home to.

When I got home yesterday afternoon, you were asleep, I got a few quick minutes with your mum and then you woke, I ran in to see you, and your initial look of bewilderment was so priceless - like "hangon, you weren't here before!"

I got you up and showed you the great truth that every boy with a travelling businesstype dad finds out, that every trip ends with a present. I think you like your truck.

Love you

November 08, 2006

Blue Monday (even though it's Wednesday)

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
Sometimes, punkin, even the most cheerful and bouncy of people end up having a bad day. Sometimes, punkin, everywhere you look, you can't find anything to smile about.
Sometimes, punkin, when you see people laughing, you wonder what they know that you don't, you wonder why their lives are easier than yours, why they are so able to skate through the day without, punkin, any mud sticking to their trouserlegs.

And then, if you're very very very lucky,

You get home from work, and a shining angel calls you "Dad" and bestows unconditional love. And it all makes sense, at least for a while...

Love you, more than you'll know until you have your own pumpkin.

November 01, 2006

Trick or Treat!

Trick or Treat!
Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.

It's got to be said, punkin, that I'm not sure you were the scariest ghost on the block.

To be perfectly frank, I'd have to suggest that it's likely you were the LEAST scary ghost on the block. Having said that, I will state for the record that you were the CUTEST ghost on the block, for the 3.72 seconds that you were actually wearing this costume, before rapidly (and showing an astonishing capability to multitask at such an early age) divesting your self of said costume and painting it with toast.

You did, however, stand still long enough for your mother to take a photo, which was probably all you needed to do. As someone famous once famously said, 80% of most success owes itself primarily to showing up in the first place (or something like that).

Your dad is feeling a bit overwhelmed with work at the moment, which is why it's my absolute favourite part of the day to come home to you and your mum. You stand in the driveway and wait for me, you see me coming down the street and the grin that flashes on your face makes it hard for me to see where I'm going sometimes. CAR! CAR! DAD! DAD! DAD! CAR! high pitched cries reach me through whatever's cranking on the stereo, and I wind down the window and you pile in to smother me with Bramlove.

It's taking me aback, just these last couple of weeks, how much I can communicate with you. Everything we do together now is a conversation, a discussion, a meeting of minds, a negatiation. When we dress you in the morning, you find your shoes for me, when you undress at night you take them off. Before we leave the house you find my hat, and you always want to go and look at the car.

Your uncle John bought you a book, when you were very young, that's currently your favourite thing in the entire world. You take it to bed with you, you eat with it on your highchair tray (it is rapidly becoming considerably worse for wear) and its the first thing you reach for in the morning. It's called "My First Car Book", and everyone around you has had the benefit of a private reading. I can run through it here for those who can't be with us, although they'll have to grab their own copy in order to follow along.

It goes (with apologies for errors in translation) like this:







DAD'S CAR! DAD'S CAR! DAD'S CAR! (pointing with gusto at the picture of a silver station wagon)



The End.

Sure, the plot's a bit thin, but the cast is fabulous.

Love you.

October 23, 2006

Watching the grass grow under your feet

It's been a while, punkin.

Looking, in fact, at the last date I posted here, it would seem that it's been over a month. Surely, you would think, something should have happened in the past month that was exciting enough for me to write to you about. It needn't be anything earth shattering, you will say, but come on, Dad, get your act together.

Being a Dad of Action, it is therefore now that I must take the proverbial bit in my teeth and run down with you a few of the happenings in casa peenydeeny over the last month or so.

The primary noticable change in you, my sweet one, has been a marked difference in your verbal communication. It is now clear to me that I have a name "DAD", that I have a purpose "DRINK", that I own some pets "DOG" and that I provide you with chauffer services "CAR". It is also clear what books you like, "SPOT", and what you like to drink "MILK".

I don't think, punkin, that I was actually prepared for this eventuality. I wasn't ready to open a book for you and ask you to show me the duck. I wasn't up to the challenge of continuing to hold you in my arms when you pointed at it and said "DUCK". Your dad's a bit of a softy, that's clear all the way through the preceeding pages, but I don't think anyone will begrudge me a teeny tear when I realised that our communication was about to take on a whole new facet, a fundamental shift in how we spend time together.

A lot of other stuff happened too, like your grammy and grandad came home and started looking for a house and bought a car and came over to see you a lot and your mum and dad went away overnight without you and it was your mate Sam's birthday and we had cake and fairy bread and we demolished the triffid and your dad was very busy at work and there was sunshine and not very much rain and the dogs ate the pretty water lily so the pond is going to stop being a pond and start being a flower garden and the fishes are going to go live at your grandads because he has lots of ponds and we bought you a swimming pool but you don't like it very much and i think the dogs will have popped it by the time i get home today and i think there's more but i can't remember it all now so i'll tell you later when i remember.

love you,

September 17, 2006

Now sit back, and enjoy your inflight Grammy

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
Your dad has it on good authority, punkling, that your grandmother and grandfather have snaffled the last two seats on a united airlines flight from sanfran, and that they will be with us momentarily. Well not quite momentarily, but soon soon soon. Like 12 hours worth of soon.

Frankly, it's all a bit strange.

September 04, 2006

Spring has sprung, the grass has riz, i wonder where my grammy is....

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.

The sun is shining in our back yard, punkling.

The birds are singing (one in particular at 5am outside my window), the pink blossoms on fruit trees have already been replaced by lush, green regrowth.

There's a palpable sense in the air, that things are looking better. There's a feeling, floating around, that there are signs of upward trends, that things that looked dark and dreary and neverending over winter may, in fact, be drawing to a close.

So your mother and I, with a view to new arrivals (and your mother considerably more than I), have been paying some attention to the garden, trying to make it a rather more pleasant place to be when our visitors arrive. Visitors, punkin, who in some cases are renouncing their visitor status.

It is at this point that I need to reveal some information that may at first seem alarming. You see, as we go through our lives, we tend to ascribe certain ideas and traits to people. We make assumptions that people we beleive to be responsible, mature adults will maintain some kind of continuity in their lives. This continuity in turn allows us to feel that we have somewhere solid to go back to.

Therefore, when your grandmother informed me that she was currently homeless, and living as some kind of street urchin, punkin, I became concerned. She quickly reassured me that she was not homeless in the BAD way, but in the most opposite of ways, the GOOD way. As we speak, pumpkin, your Grammy, assisted in no small way by your Grandad Phil, is On The Road.

Not, you should understand, in any grand Kerouacian manner involving riding the rails or hitchhiking. No, pumpkin, she's travelling in style. Grandad Phil has charge of the chariot, and they are headed down under for good. Naturally, when one is leaving a place for a significant period of time, it's considered Good Form to take a tour of the area, saying goodbye in person to those you love. In this situation, said tour involves a visit to Montreal, to a lovely cottage by the lake, and then a roadtrip to Michigan, to a lovely cottage by the river.

Then, pumpkin, and this is the really exciting bit, they get on The Big Silver Bird, and wing their way here, to emerge from the Magic Grandparent Doors at the airport.

And we are all, pumpkin, looking forward to that day.

Love you,

August 19, 2006

Baby's got blue eyes

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.

Don't have time to write anything huge right now, I'll get back to this later, but I wanted to share this photo that your mum took this morning....

We had a very busy time of it this weekend, although we did manage to see an astonishing number of your grandparents in that short space. Reports from all concerned indicate that:

a) you are still very cute

b) you are just wonderful and

c) you are "precious".

What these mean exactly, I have no idea, but I must say that the people who uttered these statements obviously didn't see you eating some dirt on Sunday afternoon.

We roadtripped on Sunday, with our good friends Alan and Ciara, taking them and their zippy new blue car up through the hills to Healesville for a fabulously lovely luncheon in the beer garden of the Healesville Hotel. Being as it was your first ever beer garden, you chose to celebrate the occasion by

a) running around after the other kids, they were playing chasey and running rings around you, but you just loved staggering after them in your drunken sailor way, you'd almost catch them and then they'd turn around and come rocketing back past you - you'd sway in their wake, but you're getting a bit steadier now;

b) chasing the pigeons;

c) eating some gravel instead of your lunch, although you did realise at some stage that the leftover chips on my plate were probably a better option; and

d) wandering around the entire environs of the pub, charming patrons.

but not, interestingly, shouting a round. I think you have some things to learn about going to the pub.

Love you

August 13, 2006

Swings and Roundabouts

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
As we grow older, punkin, we learn that we're better at some things than at others.

We figure out, as we go along in our lives and try new experiences, what we like and what we don't like. We gain a... template, if you like, for how we're going to live our lives. Sometimes, though (and this is the really tough bit), the things that you think you have all sewn up turn out to be unraveling without you noticing.

That, punkling, is when you have to pull the car over and ask for directions.

Asking for help isn't easy, it's one of the hardest things to do, especially once you're a grownup. Grownups, you see, are supposed to have everything in order, everything sorted out. They are supposed, pumpkin, to know what they're doing.

But we don't.

We try very hard, we really work at doing the right thing, and making your life the best possible life it can be, but sometimes we don't have the answers.

But here is the wonderful thing, pumpkin.

People, you see, have been having children for a very, very long time. People, who you are related to, and who are very very clever, have had many children. So your mum, and more specifically lately your dad, when they feel like they're not coping or can't figure out how to move forward, can turn to these people and say "HELP!"

And they do, punkin. They come from all avenues and all directions. Your mum and dad are surrounded by what seems like a phalanx of wonderful people who are just as determined as we are that you will have the very best upbringing possible. Determined, punkling, to provide your parents with the support, guidance, and shoulders that they need. They say, Bramble, that it takes a village to raise a child. In my experience, they're not far wrong.

So listen, I know this is your blog, and I'm just a guest here, but I don't think it would be out of order for me to ask to take a moment of time to thank the people who've been such a help to me in the last few weeks, and who it's likely will be there again in the future. Yes, I'm looking at some people in particular, but I won't embarass them here, I'm pretty sure they know who they are.

There is movement at the station, pumpkin. This is going to be some changes around here, and they're going to be for the better.

Love you.

August 09, 2006

Stand up and be counted.

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.

Last night, punkling, was the census.

It's an interesting point in time, when the government asks you to take stock of where you are and what you're doing, where you live and who you are. What your ancestry is, who you work for, and what your religion is.

There's a strange feeling that strikes me everytime I'm in a position to perform some official task that concerns you. There's a fundamental paradigm shift in becoming a parent, at the point at which you have to write your child's name on an official form for the first (and indeed every subsequent) time.

You think to yourself "hangon, I was really allowed to do this?" Nobody stood up at any point at said, 'I'm sorry sir, you were too irresponsible with money in 1999 and therefore you are not permitted to have a redheaded monkey'. It's a bizarre situation to be writing your name on a form and to find you being counted by the Orstraylian Bureau of Statistics as being a real true genuine Aussie.

In 99 years, punkin, (I hope this is ok with you), future generations (ideally, of course, I'll be around to tell them about wearing an onion on my belt) will be able to see our answers to the census, to know how many hours I worked last week in the office (45) and at home (3), and how many hours your mum worked last week in the office (22) and at home (429*). There were, naturally, other questions, one of which revolved around what religion we all are.

I must tell you that your mother, who as many faithful readers of this blog know, is the sensible one in our house, prevented me from putting down your religion as "Jedi". Personally I'm of the firm opinion that someone born on "Star Wars Day", (May the Forth be with you), should have at least SOME seminal connection to the franchise that George Lucas started so spectacularly and finished so dissapointingly.

It was interesting tho, we actually discovered a few things while we were filling it out. The first, which made me pause, was that you have actually lived already, in your 15 months on this earth, in two houses. The second, being that apparently it's ok that you need help dressing and getting around because of "old or young age".

The form didn't ask about your employment status, which quite frankly I'm a bit upset about. When, punkin, when ARE you planning on getting a job?

The whole haircut thing has been done over and over. I'm the last person who's going to tell you to get rid of your flowing mullety locks, but really, you could at least offer to wash the car. I mean, I know you can't talk yet, but just, yunno, pick up a sponge and make washing motions or something...

Love you,

*this is not a typo

August 08, 2006

Blind Leading the Blind

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.

It's a fact, punkin, that at various times in our lives, we see people who are doing similar jobs to us at seemingly far higher levels of success.

This is of course, also true for parenting.

As a parent, one often sees people who have very well mannered children, children without any vegemite on their foreheads. People who have obviously, punkin, got this whole parenting deal DOWN PAT, and have never ever done anything remotely like pulling a pillow over their heads and yelling LALALALALA when the discussion about who should get out of bed and tend to the screaming child at 230 in the AM.

These people, punkin, these people who have perfectly behaved children and dogs and well kept front lawns and suburban dreamhomes and fixed rate mortgages and well planned retirements, these people will never have the joy that I have every day.

They will never know the great surge of pride that fills me, everytime I see you do something that you've never done before.

The way you've started to turn on the phone and then hold it up to your ear, the way you've figured out how to turn the TV on and off (that's great, punkin, but please in future try to avoid doing it during Top Gear). The way, when I came home with new shoes, all you wanted to do was play with the box.

When I was away, and I was thinking about you every day, I didn't know for sure what it was I was missing. I kept trying to quantify it, to say well I miss his laugh, or I miss the way he hugs me so tight when he sees me, but immediately wants to get down when he sees something else interesting, or I miss the way that he knows where everything is in the kitchen and will grin when he sees you open the fridge to get a glass of milk, but I always came up short.

Because I couldn't come to terms with the fact that I missed all of you. I missed the totality of you. I miss the way that, in a time when I'm feeling under quite a lot of pressure to be someone or something that isn't coming easily to me, that you don't care. And that as much as I can do for you is to be the kind of man that I think you'll want me to be.

A cumbersome sentence, punkin, but it comes down to some pretty simple words.

Love you,

July 27, 2006

On the ground

32 odd hours in transit

3 countries

1 unscheduled u-turn

tired daddy.

love you.

July 26, 2006

Languishing in LAX

Flights organized by the world's most frequent flier, punkin, are designed for one thing, and one thing only, to get you to your destination as quickly as is humanly possible.

To feel the invisible red thread of you pulling me home, to cycle through so many sama-sama airports in a single day, its just a journey that takes place in a sense of suspended animation. I lose time on the way back, its like the planes are fighting the sun, like they're desperate to keep me here, to run on the spot while the world rotates beneath us.

I've taken some great photos this week, many of them from the windows of these droning behemoths, and I'll bring them home to you.

It's been a long, strange trip, punkin, I feel like a lot of undercurrents in my life have broken to the surface, and that I'm getting closer to places I'm trying to go in some directions, and further away in others.

The journey of being a parent, punkin, is a long one, and this sense of geographical dislocation I'm feeling right now in many ways mirrors the sense of mental dislocation that sometimes strikes me when I try to reconcile some of the dumber things I do with the incredibly important job that I have to do.

I Love you, punkin, and I can hardly hardly wait for these next fourteen or so hours to be gone, to feel the arms of you and your mother again.

Dancing through Denver

Colorado, or maybe another planet, who can say. At this point, all the terminals look the same, all the polished surfaces and mandated haste begins to blend into eah other. Everything, punkin, is a copy of a copy of a copy. Another hour and it's on to LAX. Time to go get a taco.

Love you,

July 24, 2006

Matrimonial Madness

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
It happened, punkin.

And it happened so quickly that it was over before I even realised that it was really going ahead.

Your uncle steve and your aunt vanessa tied the knot, after being engaged for considerably longer than you've been alive, in a very moving and very intimate setting. People laughed, people cried, people blew bubbles and I remembered the rings.

Sitting down this morning to try to get some photos together, we discovered that we had over 600, and that the exercise of winnowing them down to a manageable number was going to be significant.

It is, of course, for this reason that I'm unable to, at this point in time, show you just exactly how glamorous and astonishingly handsome everyone looked. Your father, as is his wont, spent much more time behind the camera than in front of it, but was nonetheless caught out on enough occasions that there is at least SOME evidence that he was there, as opposed to most other major events.

This wedding was also an opportunity for me to meet some members of our extended family that I hadn't seen for in some cases 25 years, and in other cases, ever.

I made some wonderful new acquaintances, not least of them amongst people who just joined my family, and found out that you have a devoted following in Minneapolis and San Diego (massive shout outs to Midori and Judy).

Now on to the important stuff.

I miss you now, more than I thought I would. I knew that I'd be unhappy about spending so much time away from you, but I didn't count on feeling this palpable ache in my arms, wanting to hold you.

I didn't understand that I would spend every waking minute wondering about how you and your mum are doing, or that I would want so very badly to come home to you. The interminable hours of waiting for my aeroplane to land, punkin, are going to be very difficult indeed.

I miss you, so very very much (your grammy says she does too)


I love you.

July 20, 2006

in transit....

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
you'd like it up there punkin, the clouds look like icecream.

there's no bob the builder on the telly tho.

i'll see you when i get home.

free internet during a layover is manna from heaven.

I haven't opened either of my books, or fired up the game playing machine that your uncle harry so kindly lent me yet, i'm saving them for the next leg.



only to economy plus, and only on the San Francisco to Chicago leg, but like the man says, don't look a gift monkey in the teeth. or something.

love you.

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Very soon, punkin, I'm going to have to start changing the dates on these posts, as I start to flee eastward across timezones on my way to your uncle's wedding.

It's a strange time for me. I'm sitting in the gate lounge at Melbourne Airport, beyond passport control. I'm effectively no longer in Australia, although the beer's still VB, and there's still broad accents all around me. There's another 40 minutes until my plane boards, naturally your dad was one of the first people through the doors when they started flashing the lights that said 'go to passport control'.

We tried to engage you in some of the airport rituals, like eating a whopper no matter what time of the day it is, but you were apparently more interested in wandering around in duty free. Lucky for your grammy that you reminded me.

OK here comes the smooshy stuff.

Already I can feel a palpable hole in my existence. The gap that exists where otherwise you would be painting my face with enthusiastic, snot ridden kisses. Where your squirming, constantly moving body would be sitting beside me. Where I'll be wondering what you're having for breakfast and if you're doing your now famous ET walk.

I'm going to miss you this week punkin. More than you'll understand until you have children of your own.

I love you.

July 08, 2006

In sickness and in health

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
People tell you, punkin, that it's horrible when your baby's sick.

People tell you that you feel their discomfort with them. People tell you that you wish you could take it all away.

I know my mum told me that. Told me that everytime I was sick, she fervently wished that she could take all of my pain and suffering onto herself, to spare me that.

You've spent the last few days having another bout of gastro. Nowhere near as severe as the first time, so we've been able to keep you out of hospital, but bad enough that you've spent the last two days at home feeling not very happy, and not being able to eat or drink anything very much at all.

The whole time you've been sick, especially all day Friday, when I stayed home to be with you, all I wanted was to take it away from you. I want you to be able to be the happy joyful loud playful exuberant energetic handful that you usually are. I want you to be able to eat, and not have a sore tummy and if that was as easy as experiencing all of your symptoms myself, well then that would be the easiest thing in the world to say yes to. To see your smile again, punkin, I would do anything at all.

This photo, in the lovely new hoodie your Aunty Amy (england) sent, is the first time since Wednesday you've been out of your pyjamas.

You're getting better now, but it's slowly slowly, and you're still pretty unhappy with the whole thing. We'll get there.

Love you,

July 06, 2006

The Not Very Scary Dragon

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
It's thought, punkin, that dragons should be in most, if not all cases, scary.

Whilst I'm cognisant of my duty as a father to support you in everything you do, I'm also a stickler for (ok some would say pedant) doing things the right way. And this, punkin, is no way to go about being a dragon.

Dragons, according to most popular literature and wikipedia, are mythical reptilian creatures who are, regardless of their bewinged status or number of feet, universally regarded as scary.

Certainly, your job as Number One Grandchild contains a number of Key Performance Indicators, most of which revolve around being fantastically cute, and I'm certain that many of your seemingly without number legion of grandparents would tell me that I'm setting unreasonable expecations, asking you to be scary rather than cute as a lil button, but I like to think that part of my role as a father is to set you reasonable goals so that you have a sense of achievement in your life.

In any case, this, then, is your dragon outfit. Modeled with your usual grace and style.

Love you.

July 03, 2006

Only in the best places

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
When, punkin, one joins one's parents on a shakedown cruise in a new car, there are some fundamental criteria that should be observed.

Certainly, should the weather be ever so slightly inclement, then any such drive should include a stop somewhere around the furthest point from home for coffee.

And cake.

Naturally, when one is deciding where to drop in for said coffee and cake, one should drop in to the place that is likely to have the best coffee, and ideally the best cake, within the region that one is traversing at the time.


If one is, for instance, somewhere in what is so quaintly known as "spa country" in western Victoria, one should immediately make a beeline for Daylesford, and right off the main road to Ballan is a little known collection of shacks called "The Lake House".

This, punkin, is where you should stop for coffee. And cake. Oh yes you should have cake. From memory it was, in this case, a delicious warming Quince and Frangipani tart, with delightful hints of brown sugar and cinnamon. They didn't have any coffee for you, but you were most taken by the warm frothy milk on offer, along with my biscotti.

I don't know if I've ever told you this before, but your mum and dad had their honeymoon at the Lake House. It's a place that holds a very special place in our hearts. To us, it speaks of love and of togetherness, it reminds us, when we are there, of the special bond that we have with each other.

And that, punkin, is what you do for us every minute of every day. You, Bramble, are the living embodiment of the love that your mother and I share. To take you to the Lake House was a very special moment for us.

One of the things that I often thought about, when you were still either a twinkle in my eye or a rapidly growing tiny person in your mum, was how much I wanted to show you the places that are special to me. That I couldn't wait, for instance, to take you to Healesville to show you the wild cornucopia of creatures that make up our brown land.

Taking you to the Lake House was one of the first steps in that process. A process you ably assisted by taking some of your first steps while we were there.

It's only in the last week or so that you've started to view walking as your primary means of perambulation, and it's a very strange shift in how we relate to you. You're suddenly much closer.

Your grammy has some extra specially exciting news for you, but I'm going to let her tell you.

Love you,

Blonk II - The Quickening

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
Of course, whenever something old goes, something new arrives to take its place.

In this case, when I was thinking about how to replace the blonk, I took a number of factors into account. I drew up a mental list of the things I liked about the blonk, and about the things that I didn't like. At the top of that list was something I'd mentioned to just about everyone who'd asked me about the car for the five years we owned it.

"It's great", I'd say, "but it's a little bit underpowered".

Welcome, punkin, to the answer to that problem.

When I started going down the list of cars that would somewhat fill the blonk's shoes, one car kept popping its head up. When I compared lists of this and that and cargo space and does that one have climate control and how many cupholders and airbags and ABS, EBD, AYC, VVT, CVT etc etc etc one car kept not necessarily being at the top of the list but it was always in the hunt.

And then I drove one.

I drove one and I was hooked. I knew I wanted it.

It took about three months to get all of the ducks in a row.

First, I needed to get a new job, then I needed to reach the perfect inflection point that balanced perfectly the difference between how much we still owed on the blonk and how much it was worth. Then I needed to find the right one, (a year old, under 10,000kms, a colour that your mum liked) then I needed to time everything exactly right so that I got the best possible deal. So then we were golden.

Well, silver, anyway.

So here we have it. Nouveau Blonk. Blonk part Deux.

We have, for your inspection and conveyance for the next three years: An MY06 Subaru Forester XT in Premium Silver. But it doesn't have a name yet. Suggestions are warmly welcomed.

Love you,

June 30, 2006


Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
It is not without some trepidation, punkin, that I venture out to the car dealership today to say goodbye to the blonk.

The blönk has served us well. We bought it many years ago, knowing somewhere deep down that you were on the way. The first thing someone said when they saw it was "is Evey pregnant?". People asked that a lot, though, they all knew we were waiting for you for a long time.

It was the blonk, punkin, that carried you home from the hospital. It was the blonk that took you on your first major road trip, down the Great Ocean Road, where this photo was taken. The blonk carried us all for many hours on many trips. Up the mountain and down, it always kept us safe and warm and comfortable.

But, with a new job, come new opportunities, and your dad isn't ever one to shirk the chance to upgrade if it's going to be economically sensible.

So today, punkin, we say goodbye to the blonk. I don't know what the name of our new car is yet, maybe you can help me figure that out.

Love you.

June 29, 2006

Soccer it to me

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
It was not, punkin, without our best efforts.

You wore your green and gold pyjamas too.

June 22, 2006

New Beginnings

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.

One of the things, punkin, that you will learn in your life is that it's a very strange experience going into a new environment.

That each new beginning is a new opportunity to find new friends, to meet new people who share your interests, who will be able to teach you new and exciting things as you move forward in your life.

What's more interesting than that, punkin, is realising that, when you get to a new place, your tastes have changed and so have your interests. It was this thought, punkin, that struck me when I started to circulate amongst the people at my new workplace, was that previously on entering a new environment I would have talked about food, about wine and music and film and cars and all the other things that I like (actually, come to think of it, that's a pretty exhaustive list).

Now, punkin, I trawl the office looking for the signs of kindred spirits. I look for tired eyes and snapshots on desks. I look for people with mismatched socks and a briefcase that has some giant lego blocks falling out of it. I look for people, punkin, who like me, may have spent an hour or so and four AM listening to a tiny human screaming.

These are now my kindred spirits. These, punkin...

These are my people.

Love you.

June 15, 2006

Heavy Duty Hiatus

Good Morning, Pumpkin, it's been a while.

There's been a lot going on in the Peeny-Deeny household, but I can't say that I have any substantial excuse for failing to update this little portion of the world wide web.

One of the problems with some tasks is that, once you procrastinate for even a short while about completing them, they begin to take on some kind of a weight in your mind, a weight that does not often correlate in any way to how onerous that task actually is, but which manages to convince you that it would be Far Too Difficult to undertake it now, and anyway, there's something interesting on telly.

Not that there very often is anything actually interesting on telly.

May 20, 2006

Delicate Balancing Act

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
Today, as you well know my punkin, was spent trawling the northern suburbs looking for a house that we want to live in.

On the way, your mother and I, with your very special help, made some discoveries and came to some conclusions.

The first of which was that we cannot afford the house we want in the location we want. This was not strictly a "today" type discovery, more of your general awareness reached over the course of many years being bombarded with information about the property boom that appears to have made every single person in the world except us incredibly rich beyond their wildest dreams.

What we HAVE figured out, punkin, is that we can afford a house WHERE we want to live, or we can afford a house we want to live in, but not both at the same time.

Naturally, given that there are thousands and thousands of houses around, in thousands and thousands of locations, this means that it's probable that SOMEWHERE is the house that's exactly halfway between where we want to live and the kind of house we want to live in, and that's the one that we should buy.

But here's where it gets complicated.

It is possible, you see, to have a house actually custom made to exactly match one's requirements. This entails things, actually within our price range, like Home Theatre rooms, ensuite bathrooms and alfresco dining areas. Naturally, all of this abject luxury comes at a price, and that price is Craigieburn.

Then, there's things like easy access to convenient public transport and decent cafes and cultural events, but they come at a price too, punkin, and that price is an awful horrid poky little house.

So we're trying to find the happy medium. We're trying to draw the line on the map that says at exactly THIS point, we can afford a house that is nice enough to spend five years living in, but isn't at the end of the earth.

We haven't found it yet, punkin, but after today I think I've got a better idea of what suburb it's in....

Love you.

May 16, 2006

Parallell Lines

There are, it seems, certain similarities to be drawn between the experiences of being a teenager and being a dad. They may not at first seem apparent, but let me draw your attention to a few of them, and lets see if we can't reach an agreement.

1. Hair is sprouting in strange places.

When you're a teenager, this is a well discussed and fairly obvious side effect of the whole adolescence deal, but there's little that's mentioned about the strange and bizarre rigmarole that fathers must go through when they discover that random hairs have begun to make their presence felt in ways that are frankly embarrassing. I do not now need, punkin, nor do I ever forsee that I will need, long lustrous locks to stream from my nostrils.

2. The music is all very very bad.

On our way home in the car, punkin, your mother and I discovered one of the parent hacks that make life as an old old old person just that little bit more bearable. It seems that if one takes the CD so thoughtfully provided by your Grandma and Aunt Chris for your birthday and plays it very loudly in the car, the grizzling, complaining, grumpy baby that you previously had turns into a clapping, bouncing, laughing, dancing baby.

This is all very well and good, punkin, but your FATHER, who has incredibly discerning musical tastes, found it very difficult to discern any difference between this CD of carefully crafted to amuse the pre-kinder crowd singalong tunes, and the vast majority of the Top 40 manufactured dross that is inflicted on the music buying public.

3. I can't afford anything I want.

News just in from the Electronic Entertainment Exhibition, my wonderful son, is that the head honchos from Sony have taken some time out to demonstrate their upcoming Playstation 3 videogame console. woohoo you say. That they have, punkin, released indicative pricing information for said console, and that said console is going to retail, punkin, in Los Estados Unidos, for $US599. That is like Four Gajillion Dollars, punkin. There is no way that I can explain that as a Necessary Purchase, it's just not going to happen.

4. Nobody listens to me

OK, so this one is actually a bit of a stretch, lots of people listen to me. I think in fact, that's one of the most bestest things about growing up and growing older. People, punkin, people who would have previously dismissed you instead take the time to listen to what you have to say and carefully evaluate it before dismissing you. This is a major step, and can result in people making adventageous decisions in your favour. Like the man who, just last week, listened very carefully to what I had to say and then offered me a job. I don't want to say too much, because there's still some things to get signed, but I think that it's ok for me to say that the company is quite large and that the title of the position contains both the word "Manager" and the word "National". These, punkin, are two good words to have in your position title when you start to look for a job.

Not that I'm trying to push you, I understand that you're only 375 days old, but really, your mum and I could use the extra money if you felt like getting a paper round.

Love you.

May 14, 2006

Mothering Son's Day

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
It wasn't so long ago, punkin, that I saw Mother's Day as, frankly, a bit of a lark.

Sure thing, I thought, get a lie in on a Sunday, breakfast in bed, flowers, chocolates, presents, the whole bit. And this, punkin, this for, well, for practically nothing! I mean, how hard is it to look after a kid??

The answer, punkin, is incredibly. And I think that, even if the kid doesn't know it, that the next 25 years of Mother's Days are really to say thankyou for the first couple of years of being a mum.

I don't think, before we had you, that I had any inkling of the reserves of strength and perseverance that your mum has. I don't think that I have ever seen somebody work so hard and so long at something so wonderful. To watch you grow under her gaze, to see her shepherd you ever so gently while you take your first steps, to be there when she feeds you. This, punkin is the stuff of legend. This is the reason Mother's Day exists.

You should know now, if you don't already, that your mother will be there like this for the rest of time immemorial. That she'll catch you when you're falling, or pick you up after you do. She'll back you up, time and time again, even when you're being belligerent beyond all reason. Your mum, kid, is On Your Side.

So to you, Evey,

and to Mum, Ann, Sue, Jann, Grandma, Nana & Fiona,

to Renee, to Rae, to Caz, to Kelly & Monica, to Wendy & Fiona, to Tealou & Martie, to Sarah & Neisha, and everyone else I've forgotteen because it's 8am on a Sunday,

Happy Mother's Day.

May 13, 2006

Your Journey of A Thousand Leagues, my son,

Starts Here:

Video Hosting - Upload Video - Photo Sharing

I know that I was in my mind prepared for the day when you would take your first steps. I know that I had thought to myself "it will be just like now, only a bit different". I knew that your birthday would represent a change for us, but I don't think I realised that the change would be so sudden and so large. Certainly, you're not about to sprint out the door and run a marathon, but it's nonetheless a drastic shift in the way you see the world.

I have to type fast, because one of your new favourite games is to run up and slam the lid of my laptop closed, in most cases so far narrowly avoiding my fingers, but landing a telling blow on enough occasions to make me wary of where you are while I'm punkining.

It's Saturday afternoon now, the day before Mother's Day. Soon our friends are coming over for dinner, and the house is quiet. Well, it's quiet except for you banging your toys around, but it's that joyful symphony that I've come to accept as background noise (whilst simultaneously being incredibly grateful for the 2 hour reprieve that is your afternoon nap).

We're going up the hill tomorrow to see your great grandmother, I spoke to her earlier today, asking what I should bring, she said "just you remember to bring that boy"...

She loves you, punkin,

and so do I.

May 10, 2006

Lovely Other Catastrophes

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
It's interesting, Brambling, just exactly what being an adult entails. It's interesting as you grow older and discover more and more often how difficult this job can be. I think that the thing that's most difficult, that's really struck me very hard over the last couple of days, has been that there's no let-up.

So when, as in the course of general human events, things go wrong, there's no opportunity to stop, there's no opportunity to take a breath, there's no opportunity to take stock of your strategy for dealing with it and more so, that there's never, ever, any chance to say no thanks, I'd rather not deal with that, it's outside the terms of the original agreement.

Having said all this, your party was fabulous.

Now, on with the woe is me.

It's hard to know where to start with this litany of disasterfication, but we'll try to find a point at which to jump off.

We need to preface this by saying that I'm waiting for someone to call me about something very important, but that he can't call me until someone calls him about it. So first of all the guy totally didn't call back about the thing yesterday, so I spoke to him at about 1130 and said 'i'm going into a meeting, i'll be out at two', and he was like yep ok no problem i'll call you as soon as there's news.
so i called him when i got out of the meeting at one, no answer.
two, no answer
three, no answer
four, no answer
fivethirty, i call him and say 'yeah, hi it's me, i've got a few questions for you can you give me a call, i'm pretty upset about the lack of feedback here'. no call. At around 1130am the next day I hear from him that he's had his phone on silent since midday the previous day, and so didn't realise that I'd called.
I got home and the dogs had managed to Rip Palings from the fence and get through to next door's back yard in the section that I didn't electrify because it was concreted so it didn't matter they couldn't tunnel through oh but instead they can physically pull down a hardwood fence and run into next door's yard and bark bark bark at the next door neighbour.
You were having some difficulties with the whole teething and having a cold thing, so you were working on one of those nights in which we get you home and you scream and scream and scream and scream and scream until we get you to bed but then you don't stay asleep for very long and so you wake up every couple of hours and scream some more.
Your mum and I are both sick too, and so we're dealing with all this with horrid sore throats and snotty mcsnotterson
on my way into work yesterday morning I filled up the car with petrol except apparently they didn't feel the need to actually put petrol in the petrol tank and i got something like a 50/50 mix of weak white wine and red cordial that, needless to say, made the car run a bit funny and stall in the middle of peak hour traffic on Lygon street, so i had to limp the car home and then walk to the tramstop and catch the tram and sit next to a strange smelly woman who kept muttering under her breath.
hangon what else
oh yeah and evey put the washing machine on without remembering to take the plug out of the laundry sink and flooded the laundry.

Apart from that, though,

everything's fabulous. As I sit here to write this, it's with a feeling of extreme fatigue, sure, but it's also with a feeling of pride that your mother and I managed to meet all of these great challenges, none of them incredibly huge problems in and of themselves, but when lumped together it all felt very close to being too much to cope with. It was 24 hours, punkin, of the most stressed I'd been since you arrived. Even when you were in the hospicamackal and we were very worried about you, I didn't feel so overwhelmed, I didn't fear that I would be unable to continue. I didn't once think that I couldn't cope.

This time, I did, but I was able, mainly through knowing that your mum was there to stand beside me, to fix everything that needed to be fixed (although it was your mum that installed the extended electric fence yesterday All By Herself while I was at work).

Love you,

May 04, 2006

Presentation Skills

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
One of the things, punkin, that we may not have mentioned on the whole subject of birthdays and such is that, on your birthday, you get presents.

Lots of presents.

This morning was replete with the rustles of paper and squeals of delight that showcase a successful present opening ceremony. This was, of course, only the first round of gifts that you will be receiving over the next couple of days. We're glad, then, that we've managed to introduce you early to the present unwrapping process, so that you'll be on top form when the rest of your loot arrives.

Of course, some of your fans will be coming over this evening to pay their respects, while drinking my booze, and it's possible that the other great thing about birthdays will come into play, namely cake.

Cake is one of the five OTHER food groups that they don't tell you about in your home economics class (do they even call it that anymore?), namely Cake, Pie, Chips, Beer & Chips. You may notice that there is an apparent duplication here, but this is due only to the peculiar Australianism that fails to denote the state of potato chips in their name, thus on an American version of this list we would see Cake, Pie, Fries, Beer & Chips, and on an English list, Cake, Pie, Chips, Beer & Crisps.

In any cake (heheheh), the cake presented to you tonight will be only a facsimile cake that will be used to hold the fort and to allow us to have something to nibble on while we have a glass of champagne. Your REAL birthday cake will be arriving on Sunday, and will be a work of art by the very same artisan who put together the astonishing teddybear for your mate Sam's birthday party, but I'm not at liberty to divulge its details until the big day, so you and everyone else will Just Have To Wait.

I've been thinking a lot about what I wanted to say here, on your first birthday. I've been thinking about what message I wanted to leave for you that you'd be able to read when you get older, something that will stand the test of time and make me sound suitably profound and wise.

But I couldn't think of anything like that, so you'll have to settle for this.

I love you. I'll love you forever. For the rest of my life, I'll back you up, I'll take your side, I'll be there when you need me.

I've never in my life been so sure about anything, so absolutely dedicated to one goal as now. Being a good dad is all I need to be, it's the hardest job I'm ever going to have, but it's by far the most rewarding.

Every time I see your face, hear you laugh, watch you smile, feel your breath against my neck, hold your wriggling squirming body close to mine, my heart leaps with joy and with pride.

Happy Birthday, my beautiful son.

Love you,

Dad out.

May 03, 2006


Hugging the bump
Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
For the rest of your life, kiddo, when you go to sleep on the night before your birthday, you will never be as excited as I was on the night before you were born....

Love you.

May 02, 2006

363 down.

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
I was struck today, while I waited for my bagel and idly window shopped birthday cards, by the strange nature of the annual delineation of the anniversary of one's birth.

I remember talking about this before, about the idea that this event happening in two days is not, if one is to be strict about it, your first birthday. Your first birthday (and I remember it well) was 363 days ago, and you yelled.

This coming Thursday, then, is your second birthday, but it is the one at which you will turn one.

Ok now I'm confused. Let us state, therefore, for the record, that two days from today, and barring any argument by the leap year pedants with their whole 365.25 crud, you will have been alive and existing outside the comfort of your mother's insides for one full calendar year. (That's a Gregorian calendar year of 365.2425 days, rather than a Julian year, a sidereal year, a tropical year, an anomalistic year, a draconic year or a sothic year).

I've never put up the photos of that day, mostly because you looked like a combination of frankenstein's monster and the alien chestburster thingy, but there are certainly photos here that were taken only minutes after that.

What strikes me, when I look at them, is how much you haven't changed. I'm struck by the way that you still look at me like I'm some kind of freaky alien whose main task in life is to make you giggle and feed you Okonomiyaki whenever you demand it. Certainly I'm good at both of these things, but I hope you'll learn that I'm good at other stuff too.

You've really started to enjoy walking around with your block trolley now, and we're trying to encourage you to stand and walk by yourself, but you don't yet seem to have grasped the concept that you're able to stand without it.

I distinctly remember the day that my dad, your Grandad Ian, took me to the park and taught me how to ride a bike with no training wheels. It was a red bike, one that got stolen soon after this little anecdote took place, if memory serves me. We went to the park opposite our house in Newry Street Carlton, and he firmly grasped the back of my seat.

With dad holding on, steadying me, I felt ready to ride. We did one lap of the park, me shouting with joy, not able to look over my shoulder for fear of crashing but continually yelling to my dad "are you holding on?". He kept yelling that he was, and we kept going, faster and faster. I remember it seeming like I was going faster than should have been even possible.

Something must have twigged, maybe his voice changed, or maybe I realised that he probably couldn't run that fast, but when I turned around to see him standing about 10 feet behind me, I fell right off my bike. The point being, punkin, that sometimes you surprise yourself with your own capabilities when you think that you're being supported.

Not that I'm suggesting that I'm planning on telling you that I'm holding on to you when I'm obviously not.

It wouldn't work if you knew I was going to do it.

Love you.

April 29, 2006

Working for the weekend

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
Saturday Morning, punkin. You're up in your highchair gorging on your first ever meal of pancakes and milk, and your mum and I are seriously considering changing out of our pyjamas.

You would have been having banana pancakes, but bananas are currently around $20 a kilo, the same price as, say, top quality porterhouse, so they're not a huge item on your menu at the moment.

I'm playing with some new photographic techniques at the moment, one of which you can see here. This photo came about through using my hand to "bounce" the flash up to the ceiling, which results in the fractured light you can see here. One of the things I have trouble with when I'm taking photos of you is that you move very quickly, and that in low ambient light conditions I wind up with hundreds of blurry shots. Short of buying myself a ludicrously expensive speedlight, flash bounce is a relatively easy and very inexpensive way of making sure that I have enough light in the scene but at the same time avoid washing out colours, shadows and textures.

This weekend for your mum and I is going to be pretty hard work. We're tidying the house up getting ready for your big party, trying to figure out what we're going to do with all the furniture, where we're going to stash all of the detritus that we've managed to accumulate, how we're going to make our house look like we're proper parents. When I was talking to one of the people who are invited to your party (who shall remain nameless), she said that she was always scared to go to any functions with what she called "the real parents".

There's always a feeling of apprehension when you're going to see other people with kids, you're always worried that they're going to somehow see through what you're doing and realise that, as a parent, you're making it up as you go along, that somehow some others have a plan or a strategy that is better than yours. This is of course, a complete and total and utter fallacy. Nobody knows what they're doing, because no baby or child is ever, ever, ever the same. Or ever consistent.

And that's what we love about you. You keep us guessing, punkin.

Love you.

April 27, 2006

Nobody told me there'd be days like these

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
When you first become a parent, punkin, you firmly believe that you'll face large challenges. You understand that bringing up a child will be the longest, most arduous, most rewarding project of your life. You think long and hard about how you're going to make sure that your child will be given every available chance and opportunity to do well in a very complex and difficult world.

You work on scenarios in your head, and say things to yourself like "right, ok, so if we get attacked by zombies, this is our escape route, and this is what I'm going to grab on my way out the door, and that's all sorted then". You get the idea in your head as a parent, punkin, that you have many of these contingencies sorted, that you are, as they say, ready for anything.

And then some days, punkin, some days just come right up and bite you right on the bum.

Your mum had one of those days today.

It started out, as many of these things do, with a fairly simple clerical error. Your mum made two appointments that were a little bit too close together in parts of town that were a little bit too far apart. One of them involved you and one of them didn't. Her schedule for this morning, then, was always going to be a little bit frenzied.

Being, of course, the collected and together woman that she is, she had the situation in hand, and set about ensuring that she would be able to make both appointments.

She had the whole thing under control, punkin, until she looked at the clock this morning and realised that in order to make the first appointment she needed to be out of the house in 10 minutes. Juggling the kid in one hand, she got on the phone to organise the slight pushback of her second meeting. The person she spoke to didn't have the information she needed, so she asked him to call her back.

She got midway through the changing of the child, which in this case was a full costume switch, due to you having just had your breakfast, when the phone rang. She picked up the kid, not noticing that only half of the child's nappy was fastened, and headed off for the lounge to answer the phone.

It's fortunate, shall we say, that your mother was wearing brown trousers.

I think it's best that we let her tell it in her own words from here:

well first I didn't know he had pooed, because, well, because it was... fresh. And the nappy fell off just as I sat down and I couldn't see any any poo (moreover, at that point it would have been a fait accompli anyway cause as I was sitting him down I pulled him towards my knee and gravity and momentum played their parts), and I had to keep a straight face on the phone, because it was a business call and there's no polite way to say "pardon me, someone's just done a poo on my leg, do you mind if I call you back?"

Once she got herself cleaned up, as far as I understand it by shedding her brown corduroys then and there, and took care of you, she hightailed for the car, started it up and hit the road.

Noticing once she did, that she'd read the clock wrong and she was running a good hour early.

No big deal, she thought, and continued on her merry way to the child health nurse, to get there and find out that she wasn't an hour early.

She was a day early.

Love you,

April 23, 2006

Fractured Fairytales

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
For every day that we spend in raptures at your wonderfulness, punkin, for every time we rush to grab the camera and rejoice at your cuteness, there's a day like today.

A day that threatens to crush us.

We know you're trying really hard to sleep through the night, but it seems like I've been listening to you wail and whine and scream for a full 24 hours now.

You woke up about 1230 last night, and despite our conviction that we would let you cry it out, it was much, much harder than I thought it would be

Your baby's cry has a.. visceral effect on you as a parent, it's something that's almost impossible to shut out or ignore. When it goes on for hours and hours in the darkness, there's nothing for you to... cling to.

Lying in the bed, I'm willing you to subside. I'm willing you to relax, to take a deep breath, to realise that the world's not going to end if you just lie down and rest your head and be quiet for five seconds it will be ok and you'll go to sleep and everything will be fine.

Of course the next day and everyone's frazzled and you can't figure out why your mum and dad aren't their usual high-energy selves.

We've got you down for your afternoon nap, I think I might go have one too...

Love you,

April 18, 2006

No Visible Means of Support

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
In your life, punkin, you will have detractors. People will seek to belittle your efforts, and to bring disrepute to your great works.

These selfsame people could easily look at this photograph of you standing up and say "ah yes, but he was only standing up for a split second", or that a photograph is no proof that you've joined the rest of your homo sapien brethren in standing upright.

To these people, punkin, we shall say "poo poo".

Detractors, punkin, didn't say of Armstrong and Aldrin that they didn't spend long enough on the moon. They didn't say that Norgay and Hillary spent only 15 minutes on the summit. No, punkin, they didn't.

So we shall take this moment (this very brief moment) as it is. You, punkin, are standing up. That, for however short a time, you are running under your own steam. And that, punkin, makes me very, very, very proud.

April 16, 2006

Easter egg in one hand....

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
Hot Cross Bun in the other.


Love you.

April 14, 2006

Sock it to me

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
It seems somehow fitting, punkin, that as we journey through these final weeks before your birthday, that we start to finally sew up some of the things that we've been trying to sort out for a while.

To that end, this easter break for me will revolve around babyproofing the living room, a project that in my case will involve finding a home for the several sets of speakers, lonely amplifiers, videogame systems and sundry items of AV equipment that clutter the edges of this room. Naturally, I'm not going to (perish the thought) throw any of it out, even though that may be going through your mother's mind.

No, I think that I'll be able to find a home for everything, although it might be a little bit cramped in your cot.

The garden's going to need a makeover too. Every time, for the past two months, I've set aside some time to mow the lawn, it's rained too much or there's been motor racing on or I've been legally obligated to take a nap. Pressing needs, punkin, must at times take precedence over mundanities such as lawnmowing.

Of course, now with the wind of a !!!PARTY!!! in the air, it has become necessary that I put aside all of these distractions and concentrate on the matter at hand.

Given the sheer scope of the job at hand, I've decided that I'll need to dedicate some serious thought and action to this project, and therefore I've taken 12 days off work. This may at first glance seem to be an inordinate amount of time to, yunno, mow the lawn and move some speakers, but it's not.

It's incredibly important, punkin, when one is undertaking a project of this magnitude, to ensure that one is adequately prepared and rested. To that end, I've devised a rigorous schedule of napping and going to the gym that will, by about Day 10, have me in absolute peak condition to embark on a meticulously procrastinatified last ditch mammoth effort to mow the lawn and clean up the back yard.

I also have to talk to my mate Jason, and find out his recipe for the party pies that were such a success at Sam's party, then do a few dry runs. This may or may not result in there being a party pie free for all at the Peeny Deeny household, depending on how successful my initial experiments are. It's entrely possible, given my success with baked goods to date in my culinary career, that it's only the puppies that will be capitalising on my burnt offerings.

Love you.

April 11, 2006

May the Fourth be with You

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
People who know you, punkin, should know that you were born on Star Wars day. Despite strong pressure from your father, your name ended up being Bram, rather than the rather more esoteric Wedge Antilles Peeny-Deeny, but yunno, we all have to give in to unrelenting resistance sometimes.

A quick glance at a calendar will tell you that the first anniversary of your birth is rapidly approaching, and, as is the custom in this part of the world, we will be Throwing A Party to celebrate.

Apparently how it works is that YOU get showered with all manner of gifts (mate I've seen some of these, you are going to be very very happy), and I get nothing.

This seems to me to be the wrong way around.

One would think, punkin, that upon the birthday of such a sterling example of babyhood as yourself, your PARENTS should be the ones who are congratulated, toasted, and showered with all manner of loot. Personally I'm a huge fan of presents, especially those with my name on them. We could change the name of it from "birthday party" to "you didn't chuck the kid out the window for another year party".

In any case, for this year at least, it seems that I've left my run a bit late, and may have to begin my campaign in earnest next year. To that end, I've made an executive decision (after some brief consultation with your mother, which may or may not have involved some threat of physical violence being perpetrated on my person) that we will, for this year, stick to the standard format.

Party pies, fairy bread, sausage rolls et al.

The date for said celebration to end all celebrations has been set as the Sunday after your birthday, which appears to be the 7th of May, and festivities are scheduled to begin around 2 in the PM and cease around 5. Food, it seems, will be provided for all manner of freeloaders and sundry drop-ins, although any plonk they are clutching in their hot little hands will be confiscated on entry and evaluated to determine their seating position in relation to the birthday boy.

Avid readers of this particular corner of the intarweb should take this post to be an invitation, and should email your dad here for address details.

April 10, 2006

Everybody's talking at me

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
With the thought of you talking to me soon, i think that some part of me is sad about the idea that we're going to lose some of the communication that we've been enjoying to date.

The looks that pass between us, the sly grins, the cheeky smiles and the flat out guffaws that you emit sometimes drive me wild.

I think that it's possible that we'll keep this connection. I certainly hope so. I know that with my dad, there's a particular way that he can hold his head, a glint that he can get in his eye that will send me and my siblings into hysterics every time.

I know, of course, that you're going to spend at least a couple of years in your mid teens in which you'll think I'm the most boring and ridiculous man on the planet, but at some stage subsequent to that (and probably only after you have your own children, in the case of a particular subset of humour known as 'dad jokes'), you'll start to laugh at me again. I mean laugh with me again.

Being a person who is not caught up with the beleif that certain portions of one's life can be shared with only one parent (and being blessed, punkin blessed, with rather more than the normal complement of parental people in my life), it's my great joy to bring you the best dad joke I've ever had the pleasure to hear, and it's not one that was told to me by your grandad.

Your grammy, who along with being rowdy, also has a substantial collection of terribly amusing jokes and riddles, with one in particular being such a perfect example of the ouvre that I feel obliged to repeat it here, in the hope that I won't be exposed to any undue problems from its publication, and in the hope that, at least for the next few months, and again about 25 years after that, you'll think it's funny.

Q: What's the difference between a librarian and a butcher?
A: One cuts up meat, and the other one stamps books.


Love you.

April 08, 2006

Standing Ovation?

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EDIT: Whilst it's easy to hear Bramble saying "mum" at the end of his great trek across the living room, I feel obliged to point at that he's looking at me while he says it. The sounds that he's making now certainly have identifiable components to them, and often it sounds like he's saying something, but we have yet to see him actually associate a word with anyone or any concept.

April 04, 2006

One plus One Equals.... ELEVEN!

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
You're eleven months old today, punkin. Looking at you heading off to daycare this morning, clad in your first ever flannel shirt and wearing shoes for the second full day, I'm ready to use words that I last used when speaking of Jerry Garcia. What a long, strange trip it's been.

In just these last weeks, I've begun to feel closer to you than ever before. My sense of being able to communicate with you grows every day, and the babblings that are coming from your mouth every second of every day are getting closer and closer to words.

We're sure that you're going to continue to surprise us, and that every day is going to continue to be an adventure. This next month running up to your first birthday will, I think, hold more than a few milestones for us, and I'm glad that we're going to have a chance to share them with you.

The sleep thing has popped up again, you've been delighting us this past week or so with consistent waking and screaming about every 2 hours until you get fed, but we're going to let it go until your mum has a day off work so that we can dedicate our full attention to what is known as the CIO method.

Crying It Out will be similar to things we've tried before, in fact I'm thinking it will be almost exactly the same, but I'm going to take my headphones home from work just in case it gets worse than it has been before. I know that there are people who say that leaving you to cry is Cruel and Unusual and that we're bad parents for doing it, but they, punkin, can stick it up their jumpers.

Love you.

March 24, 2006

Men Without Hats

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
Writing on the tram, punkling, is an exercise that everyone in thw world should experience once.

It's a journey replete with jerks and shakes, clanging bells and the close proximity of strangers.

It isn't betraying any secrets to say that loud noises (that he doesn't have a remote control for) and getting up close and personal with the (in this case, particularly) unwashed masses ha ve never been things of which your dad has been particularly enamoured.

For this reason, and without going into the myriad of uncertain timetabling and unreliable journey timeframes, that your father is intellectually a dedicated patron of our fine city's environmentally friendly light rail system, but emotionally takes every possible opportunity to drive to work when it's even remotely economically viable. And surprisingly often, it is.

If both your mother and I are headed for the central business district, the price of parking the car is almost eerily reflective of the price of two all day tram tickets (the fact that your mother has to buy a tram ticket after I drop her off is ENTIRELY BESIDE THE POINT, don't trivialise this already flimsy economic argument with details).

Of course, the tram does has its advantages. The slow journey down Brunswick Street lets you browse the windows of a hundred venues whose doorways you won't darken because you're too old and tired to go out at night anymore, and to gaze in the shop windows of boutiques whose clothes you cannot afford.

The punt down St Georges Rd isn't so bad, at least the tram has a dedicated lane, but still takes what seems to be an interminably long time.

On another topic entirely.....

One of the key advantages to being a kid, punkin, is that the lack of responsibility allows one a great deal of freedom. That being in a situation in which one is required to concentrate on only a single thing - be that playing with one's blocks or reading one's book, is an astonishing and wonderful thing. Adults, by contrast, are unfortunately required to be jacks of all trades, and to (in the case of your father) constantly refocus their attentions on things that have cruised up the priority list to Primary Action Item status.

What this inevitably means is that one ends up spending less time on the things that one WANTS to do, and more time on the things that one HAS to do. Naturally, as with all courses of action, effective time management will assist in decreasing this problem, but it is nonetheless true that often, whilst one would ideally be, f'rinstance, watching a documentary about building drag racers, one has to be cleaning out the filter on the dishwasher.

Being a kid, punkin, removes you from that onerous duty (not the dishwasher thing, we'll get to that later). Being a kid, punkin, places you in a mindset that rests on a knowledge of backup systems in place. You know, as a child, that if you don't clean out the filter on the dishwasher, that it doesn't really matter, because your dad's going to eventually get sick of it and do it anyway.

Adults, punkin, have not this luxury. If the filter on the dishwasher doesn't get cleaned, the dishes stay dirty, and your mother yells at me for being a slackarse.

This, after that longwinded explanation, is why your dad has a lot of hats.

Hats can help to put you in a mindset - like a soldier's uniform, like an actor's costume. Putting on your "stinky working around the house" hat means that, if you're wearing it, you should be doing stinky work around the house (of course the great secret about the stinky working around the house hat is that it's at its best when being worn to drink beer and watch a documentary about drag racers AFTER you've done the stinky work, but I digress (are we surprised?)).

So I'm glad that you've found the joy of hot-hat-swapping. Grammy tells me that, when I was your age, I would refuse to wear a hat at all. I'm glad you don't have that problem.

Love you,