Tuesday, March 15, 2016

here we are

Hello there. It’s been a while.

I’ve been away for so long I’m not sure if I know how to do this anymore. Forgive me if I’m rusty. I’ll do my best and probably spend most of our time together looking for ways to lay blame for my absence. Children. Full time work. Lack of sleep.

Oh lack of sleep…why must you plague me still? Actually, it’s no longer lack of sleep that causes my haggard appearance, but rather interrupted sleep. There’s always something dragging me from the warm depths of slumber.

On returning home from our Christmas holiday in Australia, it was illness. First Little Ladie then Mountain Dad. Buddy Boy and I followed soon after and then we cycled back to the beginning as a new illness lay waste to our house. I found myself going to the doctor at least once a week, and at one point, when it was an appointment for me, she asked,
“And what can I do for you today?”
 And I mumbled and stuttered out my reply that I think, well it’s funny really, but I, well I don’t want to say that it’s a cold, but I think I have a cold, but it’s a really bad cold, like, lots of coughing, so much so that my ribs and back ache from it, and it’s been hanging on for so very long and maybe it’s turning into something else like strep throat and maybe I need antibiotics or something because it just isn’t going away…

And she looked me over and it really was just a cold.

I’d taken time off work to make this appointment, swearing to all my colleagues that I’d return with some good medication to kick this thing and I’d no longer be hacking away all over the school.

But it was just a cold.

To make me feel better she said we could call it the plague.

My colleagues at work weren’t sure if I was joking about that.

So illness interrupted our sleep and then, when all are healthy there are just the usual interruptions of someone wanting an extra cuddle in the middle of the night. Sometimes I may be called forth to a bedside, at other times a little person will appear, like an apparition by my bedside, murmuring “Mama.”

Last week I awoke to find myself precariously balanced on the edge of my mattress. There was a set of feet resting on my throat. I lifted myself up to look for Mountain Dad. He was waaaaay across the other side of the bed, separated from me by the two kids who had somehow crept into bed without me realising. It was nice; heart warming to see my three beloveds curled up so safe and close like that. It was also extremely uncomfortable.  

My sleep is always interrupted and it’s annoying but part of life it seems. Maybe I’d be better set to get more writing done if it were not so. Maybe it’s just a busy time of life.

My work is great. The Mountain Kids are happy in their daycare centres and Mountain Dad is thankful for part-time work that allows him two days at home. He’s not recently obliged any of my requests for hilarious antics to provide me with writing fodder. Maybe he’s maturing? He’s looking to plan our lives for the next few years, he books in our holidays ahead of time. He wants the weekend plans booked before Friday night rolls around, for goodness sake. Today, I’m meeting him for an appointment at the bank to discuss savings plans.

“Savings-what?” I wonder….

We are well. And muddle along in a quiet, though oftentimes rather snotty, daily rhythm.

Pretty boring, eh? Maybe this upcoming wall-tent camping trip for Easter will conjure some good mishaps for the blog reporting.

Until then, it’s nice to see you again.

We skied 9km into a cabin for my birthday. On our return, Little Ladie drew the above picture titled, "A log cabin in the woods with a swimming pool and two diving boards." 

That's my girl!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

wherein a squirrel moves into our roof

Here’s an illustration of how my life has changed on returning to work from mat leave. Though it’s been months since downloading images from my camera, when I went to do it now I only had 70 photo’s. And that file spans the period of a couple of months.

Only 70 photo’s in 3 months? Fine for my Mum and Dad when I was a kid, but there is no excuse for that kind of frugality nowadays. I’m telling you, these kids of mine are pretty damn adorable. They need to be captured on film so that I can distribute images near and far and the world may adore them as well. Things must be pretty busy to interrupt my mission of documentation.

And we are busy. And I see the kids less and don’t take as many photo’s. But I think that life has found it’s rhythm. I don’t know if it always makes me happy, but it is a rhythm nonetheless. What I don’t like, is how life can whip by without me being aware of its passing. As in, summer has now burst into our lives in the space of a couple of days and it’s filling my soul with joy, but I have no idea where Spring went. The weeks really do blur, punctuated by incidents that mark one moment from the next.

Thankfully we can rely on Mountain Dad for episodes of light entertainment and blog fodder. This most recent involved the culmination of a long battle with our resident squirrel. Reminiscent of our time in Berry, (Australia) where Mountain Dad (then just a Mountain Man) waged a war on the local possum. Possum insisted on scaling our verandah each night, to eat all the vegetables we had growing in boxes. I awoke one night to the sound of scuffling and grunts. Mountain Man was heroically defending our vege’s! When he returned to bed, he told me that the possum was so cocky and confident that he wasn’t scared off by naked men lunging and yelling at him. Mountain Dad had actually walked right up to Possum and pulled his tail and only then did the animal deign to leave his pantry.

Alas, such strategies were to no avail. Possum eventually decimated our fledgling garden.

Rodents – 1. Mountain Dad – nil.

This time, Mountain Dad would be victorious.

It has been slowly dawning us that there is a squirrel in the roof. We hear scrabbling noises in the eaves and see him lurking around the carport. Mountain Dad’s muttering became uneasy as he viewed the potential and I think he was in denial for a long time.

“It’d be bad,” he sighed,  “In the roof. In the walls. He’d be in the insulation.”

Shea went on to explain that with the house renovations we’re doing this summer, we run the risk of building the squirrel into the roof and giving him no options of exit. As the old and holey boards are replaced with thicker, newer, straighter pieces, the squirrel would get trapped inside.

He sucked his teeth and solemnly concluded, “Hmmm-hmmm, we don’t want a squirrel in the roof.”

So it was no surprise to actually see the squirrel disappear into the soffit one day.

“Daaaaaad!” Little Ladie shrieked when he returned from work. “The squiwel is in the roof!”

Turns out that Mountain Dad had already begun measures of persuasion to lock the squirrel out. He had the Mountain Kids on high alert, watching to see when the squirrel left the roof so that he could screw the sagging boards closed and effectively, lock the rodent’s door. He had already done this. Case closed, right?

“Daaaaaad!” Little Ladie shrieked when he returned from work. “The squiwel is BACK in the roof!”

Fancy that, eh? Squirrel had found an alternative crack to squeeze himself through and Little Ladie was onto him. It was she who alerted Mountain Dad to the squirrels leaving home one afternoon and in a flurry, he was up the ladder and screwing a huge piece of wood across a huge area of soffit.

“That’ll keep him out,” he smiled smugly.

And it did. And the squirrel sat on top of the shed roof and chattered and chastised Shea the whole while. And when we’d gone in for dinner, we could hear him scrabbling around the outside walls and roof as he sought another entry.

Then he began eating the house.

We checked on him after dinner and he scampered back to the shed roof to yell at us while we inspected the damage. We could see a hole in the siding already. Mountain Dad swore the squirrel was eyeing him up and ready to leap onto his face. We went in for kids bath-time.

As we were reading her night-time story to her, Little Ladie asked with concern why the squirrel was still making noises. It was getting to her and it began getting to me. It was incredible how loud it was, though we were inside. You could actually hear him chewing on the house. It went on all night. Through kids-to-bed, dishes, our showers. Right before we went to bed, Mountain Dad cracked. I think it had something to do with me deciding that our boy-squirrel was actually a girl and most definitely a mother. There really couldn’t be any other reason for such determination. She was obviously desperate to return to her babies who were right now stuck inside the walls without their mother. They could die, Shea! A mother would do anything for her children, I know this now. And she’ll do this all night, I’m sure. We won’t be able to sleep, it’s so loud. A mother would do anything for her children, I know because I am a mother. Imagine being locked away from your babies?!?!

When it comes down to it, Mountain Dad’s a way bigger softie than me. At 11pm and under the vocal direction of the irate mama-squirrel, he was back on the ladder, unscrewing the big block of wood he’d previously installed. The soffit sagged again and gaped open a welcome door to our happy housemate.

We heard her scurrying around in there and then quiet for the rest of the night.

Rodents – 2. Mountain Dad – well, I think he’d admit that a happy wife does equal a happy life.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

a beach holiday

I'm sitting on the almost-sunny beach in coastal Alaska. Hawaii was forsaken for our Spring-break holiday this year, as we're still trying to get our heads above water after my extended maternity leave. We figured that Juneau, Alaska wuld be a nice getaway and perhaps far enough south to be more spring-like than Whiitehorse. And it really has delivered. Sunny days this week and lots of beach walks, albeit with long-underwear, snow-jackets and woollen hats. Spring-like here doesn't exactly mean green grass and flowers but rather the absence of snow and a couple of degree's above freezing. Ah balmy! We all happily exclaim. And it doesn't deter the Mountain Kids from sitting in the cool sand and digging like prospectors anytime we pause in our beach ramblings. It is true that mittens hinder the maoeverability of shovels somewhat, but they persist with fever-like enthusiasm.
Mountain Dad is also not detered by the layers with which we must all done upon leaving our forest cabin. Instead, he'll lean back upon a driftwood log and gaze out over the frigid ocean to the snow capped mountains beyond. "Eat your heart out Hawaii," he sighs. My gentle reminder that if this were Hawaii, I would be reclining next to him clad only in sunscreen and a bkinini, does give him momentary pause. But for all who know him well, you'll be able to picture Mountain Dad's overall contentment. He savours the quiet isolated beaches, the snowy vistas, the rocky beaches ("good for launching a kayak") and the numerous hiking trails that we march up and down. "And it's so QUIET!" he boasts. "Imagine how many people would be here in summer?" he commands with incredulity in his voice.
I imagine the sun and t-shirt weather. The leaves on trees and dry sand. The possibility of swimming in the clear waters of this rocky beach. I imagine the grumblings of a Mountain Dad over-whelmed by crowds, the queues and inability to find a deserted beach like the one on which I now sit.
Grudgingly I'll admit that it has been a wonderful and well-deserved family break. The last few months have been a whirlwind of activity as I returned to teaching and almost drowned in the demands of it. Lochie began daycare and sobbed through the transition, while Mountain Dad traded in the hiking boots for a tea-towel and became Domestic Dad. One week I was in charge of the homestead and the next our roles were reversed. Because of his work being part-time and mine full-time, Shea took over the cooking of every meal, all the grocery shopping, ferrying the children around and sometimes had to run the evening routine 'til the kids were in bed ALL BY HIMSELF (emphasis courtesy of a Little Ladie).
Life changed for us all quite quickly. To make things more interesting I signed up for a local play and spent my spare time rehearsing for that as well. It was a crazy and tiring time.
So we all got sick to make things more interesting.
Yet we survived the fine balance that an over-scheduled life demanded of us all and we tumbled into this holiday with joy. Adelaide has taken to exclaiming at random moments, "Look! It's like a family!" when we sit down to eat together. Or when we plop down at the beach. Or really any moment that she observes all four of us together at the same time...which was pretty much the entire time of the past ten days.
So despite my misgivings at leaving my swimmers behind, I do agree with the Domesticated Mountain Dad. Hawaii would have to work hard to beat this warm rocky beach looking out over the frigid ocean to snow-capped mountains.

Monday, January 12, 2015

times of transitions

Oh my, using each other as pillows. I know that soon I'll be happy if they're at least just hitting each other with pillows, but for now, look at them! Lachlan and I walk to collect Adelaide from her preschool and she's usually so tuckered out that she naps on the way home with him. Usually it means that her bedtime is more tricky and so I use varied wily strategies to keep her from daytime napping. If I see her nodding off I talk loudly, ask obtuse questions, offer choc chips when we get home, wind down the car window and allow the negative 30 air to caress her face. On this day though, I couldn't wake her up. Well, at least not until I'd taken a million photo's.

We're on the cusp of a new chapter as I return to full-time teaching next week, Lachlan begins daycare and Shea drops back to part-time work. He'll be with the kids two days a week. I'm having such a hard time of this notion of change. Saying farewell to the baby-chapter of my life. I know all will be well and there are untold joys awaiting us all, but I feel so very sad right now. My little cuddle-snuggle boy is going to have a hard time in the next few days. He doesn't have the social independence of his big sister and maybe that makes it harder for me as well.

It will be fine in a few weeks, I know. And then before I know it he'll be like this kid - skiing and skating better than I can.

And I'll be off happily skiing on my own on days like this:
As my wise Aunt Jane says, "there's no going back and always something to look forward to."

Monday, January 05, 2015

highlights of december

It's late at night. I'm sick. I should be in bed. But if I don't do this now, when will I? My desire to write is always always an underlying longing that never really blossoms into actuality. I blame the kids.

And so, in tribute to them and the blog-post-less month that has just passed, here are a bunch of pictures of them and the adventures we dragged them upon.

No stories for now. Just notes.

There's been lots of cooking...

Lots of sleeping (both indoors and out)...

Lots of eating (both indoors and out)...

Lots of time with friends...

And lots of making Mountain Dad do the hard yakka (that chariot weighs a tonne when I push the two of them in it with the wheels on - with ski's and the friction of snow? Hard work man)....

But he'd do anything for these two...

Happy New Year, from all the Newluks.

Monday, December 08, 2014

my little fry

I was waiting for Mountain Dad somewhere. I can't recall exactly where, but I was holding out Little Man in my arms and someone leaned into us to say hi. A total stranger but with a friendly open face.

"Yukon born," he said, in that lilt I often hear in the voices of people who have been in the territory a lot longer than us.

It was a statement, not a question. I smiled and agreed. 

"He's like the salmon now," our new friend continued, "he'll always come back." 

And then he was shuffling off. No response required from me at all. Just a prediction, an acknowledgement of some kind. 

A whole bunch of thoughts barreled through me as I processed the comment; curiosity towards this friendly stranger. Pride in my Yukon-born baby and the connection he has with the people of this land, both those newly arrived and not. Amusement at the irony of life - just as my Mum lives with the longing of a child far from her embrace, so it seems that my own children may swim away from me. 

I always envisioned my life as firmly rooted in Australia. Even though I might now find myself creating a roost a long way from her golden shores, I do still call Australia home. And have always imagined that my off-spring would do likewise.

This sage stranger reminded me that perhaps those sweet off-spring of mine may be more likened to Salmon-fry than a boomer's joey.

Or perhaps I'll just keep thinking of them as my Mountain Kid's; sure-footed climbers able to travel between Eco-systems and herd groups. And both sport excellent winter coats.

Monday, November 24, 2014

skating on thin ice

Well, hopefully it wasn't too thin. No ice breaks, anyway. No bone breaks either, thank goodness.
Mountain Dad is in love with ice-skating at this time of year. There's not too much snow to shovel from the ice and the days aren't brutally cold. It means you can get out on any number of  hidden lakes in the forest behind our house. He LOVES it and is insistent that the family Newluks join him on these outings. Our Little Ladie is well into it, telling me not to be nervous and that she will hold my hand to help out her nervous Mama.

In the name of family harmony I gave it another bash today. I so infrequently ice skate that when I do, I'm rigid with fear and so focused on my toes that my eyes water. But I managed it, though my legs now ache. And I didn't fall. And just maybe I got an inkling of how magic it makes Mountain Dad feel.

Speaking of feelings, today we took a bunch of Little Ladie photo's that remind me, remarkably, of me.

This is also how I felt to begin with....

This is what I wished I was doing...

This is how I felt at the end...

And I'd been really hoping to have some help like this...

Oh wait, I did!

Mountain Dad says he's never seen an adult size pair of skates like you see Adelaide wearing. I wish so much that I could have double blades under my feet. I'm SURE their must be some for me out there!