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I just listened to a voicemail from my Aunty Em, and that was her wish for us.

We had a low-key New Years Eve; Mum and Dad have visitors from out of town, and we were all going to have a barbecue together up there, but Dad came down with some kind of gastro bug that knocked him for six. He is actually in hospital at the moment, in an isolation room with a view of the Sky Tower. The isolation room door is open now, but we are staying away until we know what’s what. We also decided not to go to the planned BBQ (the visitors stayed on, despite the absence of their host) and instead invited my brother Joe and his wife Kay around for an even smaller BBQ at our place.

We ate an imperfect but kind of glorious banana cake, drank cranberry juice, played Cranium (Pakehas know how to party!) and turned off the TV when the One News review of the decade featured heavily an over-long 9/11 montage. We have not forgotten, TV One. A still shot would have been sufficient. I still feel like I’ve been kicked in the guts when I see that plane fly in.

*Sigh* What a year. What a decade.

This year: I want to get outside more. Grow some stuff. Write some stuff. Make some stuff. Cook glorious things and eat them. And I want to do all this with the three Littles, because they won’t be Little for long.

This is twenty-ten – this is now – and the Internet is not my shield…. I’m going to get out there and live it.

New Years’ Weather forecast, NZ Herald, 30 Dec 2009:
Hot, sunny welcome in store for 2010
A bright, sunny and hot day is set to welcome in the new year in most parts of the country, come Friday.

Temperatures averaging in the mid-20s across the country will mean a perfect start to 2010 for most people.

WeatherWatch head analyst Philip Duncan says…the chance of rain anywhere in the country is “very low” however there is a slight possibility that there could be a few showers in Southland on New Year’s Day

New Years’ Weather forecast, Stuff.co.nz, 30 Dec 2009:
Good weather for ducks and small kids
High winds and rain are set to lash parts of the country on New Year’s Day as the lower North Island recovers from heavy rainfall and swollen rivers which threatened a bridge north of Wellington

Lyrics interpretation FAIL

Back in 2005, Michelle sent me a link to the JCB song and its lovely video, and the single has been popping up on my itunes since then, often with me singing along enthusiastically.

One of my very favourite bits (not having had the most fun at school myself) is the part of the video where the narrator counts on his fingers as he sings

“I wanna transform into a tyrannosaurus rex
and eat up all the bullies, and the teachers and their pets”

So it was a surprise to me on Christmas Day when my brother Joe was strumming his guitar (“Does that sound like JCB?”) and mentioned the ribbing he’d got from his wife for not realising that when the song says “eat up all the bullies and the teachers and their pets” that it meant teachers’ pets.

The look on my face gave me away: Joe and I had both spent the last 4 years labouring under the misapprehension that narrator-as-T-rex was so pissed off at the education system as a whole, that he was willing to eat not only his tormentors – the actual bullies and teachers – but, if the teacher so happened to have a hamster or a golden retriever or something, he would EAT THEM TOO.

So. That sucks.  I liked our version better.

Gingerbread House

The girls decorated a gingerbread house on Saturday.  It was a kit one that Mum gave us, because I can barely work with even regular cookie-sized portions of gingerbread dough, what with the sticking and the stretching and the burning of edges and final  breaking on cookie-removal.  Oh, the language that goes on in my kitchen when I try and do something fancy with the rolled cookies. My goodness.

Anyway, I did assemble this one per- the box instructions, melting icing sugar in a frying pan.  I kept stirring and stirring, with an increasingly sore arm, until the contents of Frying Pan of Danger were about 90% molten- and nearly-burnt sugar, and 10% toffee-coated lumps of icing sugar.  At which point I gave up and used it as is, lumps and all, to stick the house together, which worked well and with a minimum of third-degree burns.

Billie and Beetle co-operated very well, considering the awkwardness of the setup at the table, and a good half-a-dozen lollies even made it onto the gingerbread house.

Unfortunately, a very sad thing happened.  I put the house on the wrong side of the kitchen when we were dishing up dinner.  Later that night, when I got back from a bit of late-night shopping, I found about three thousand ants  had descended upon the house with great enthusiasm.

I had to knock the seething mass into the sink and gingerly prod it down the garbage disposal as quickly as possible to avoid becoming covered in ants, and trying hard not to breathe in the crushed ant smell.

Serves me right for putting anything sugary in the Ant Zone of the kitchen.

In late December, our Christmas tree is surrounded by a glorious jumble of wrapped gifts, for ourselves and our extended families, since both sides live nearby.   Our first celebration is on Christmas Eve and half-an-hour away, so our dash out the door  often includes a flustered gathering of the in-laws’ presents into a washing basket, hoping none get left behind in the rush while juggling babies, dinner contributions,  and the dreadful combination of excitement and apprehension that always precedes family celebrations.

That particular brand of turmoil I can’t escape, but at least I keep gift-related confusion to a minimum by doing something so simple – I buy three different rolls of wrapping paper, and use a different roll for each branch of the family.

That way I can confidentally grab all the stripey presents to take up to the in-laws on Christmas Eve, instead of having to pick up each gift and read the tag in the midst of the fray.  The polka-dot ones are easy to keep track on Christmas morning at home, and the last set can be piled into the car to take to my folks’ place in time for Christmas Dinner, along with kids, the sherry trifle, and angst.

Furthermore, there is none of the confusion in working out whether a gift addressed to “Mum” is for my mum, or Bear’s mum, eliminating my previous giftwrapping hack of indicating that by the order I wrote our names (Love from Rosie & Bear, for my folks; Love from Bear & Rosie for his)

You know why I mention this? Because I didn’t buy different wrapping paper this year – I thought I was being Economical and bought two massive, marked-down rolls of stripey gift wrap in October.  And now the gifts I have managed to wrap so far are all piled up*, managing to look both intimidating and too, too boring all at the same time.

Grr.

*They’re not even piled up around the tree, they’re piled up wherever I got to wrapping.  Billie is too… two… to have a Christmas tree surrounded by gifts, unless I wanted to invoke another Christmas gift protection technique: the old fireguard surrounding the tree.

Meet Trev

Here is our Trev, our boy child. He’ll be two months old soon and he is beautiful and perfect.

He also has a very large head.  Bear’s family joke about having big head genes but crikey.

I have to tell you a story though, and this is why I’ve been subdued this year and hadn’t introduced Trev yet – I had this story sitting there all heavy and waiting to be told first. So here goes.

(This story contains both cussing and emotions – I don’t do usually do emotions online, and the women in my family are not skilled at cussing, preferring to shout “Shit bum!” when things go wrong, so watch your step)

Early on in my pregnancy I had the regular dating ultrasound. Part of that procedure is measuring the nuchal fold, in order to estimate the risk of Down Syndrome.  The sonographer measured… and measured… and then asked us to sit in the waiting room while she Phoned an Expert. When she called us back in she handed us our scan results and told us that the risk of Trisomy 21 had been increased to 1 in 25, and gave us the information sheet on amniocentesis and CVS testing.  I asked her about the maternal serum test that is now funded in New Zealand, and she didn’t know anything about it.

So we went home, Bear rushed off to pick up Beetle from kindy and pies for lunch, and I went down the bedroom to howl.

The next 2 months were shit, I tell you.  We decided after consideration not to have any invasive testing like the amnio; this little guy was going to be coming to our house regardless of the outcome, and I don’t like big needles, and didn’t want to take the risk of miscarriage for that.  So we had to wait until the time had passed so I could have the maternal blood test on me, and then we had to wait to get the results from that – over a time frame that included both the ongoing house building project and my brothers wedding.

What do you know but the blood test came back with an adjusted risk of 1 in 1250 or something like that – a much better ratio than would be expected for my age.

So that was somewhat a relief but of course we had to wait until our boy was actually born, because even if you have a reputation for Coping you also expect things to go wrong.

And he went overdue a little bit, and then they did another scan and said that there was practically no amniotic fluid (what’s up with that?) so he would have to be induced, and then I went into labour naturally anyway, but collectively Henry and I came to some kind of halt and things weren’t progressing, and his heart rate kept dropping enough to worry everyone but not enough for them to call in the guys with the gumboots and the scalpels.  So they called in the Hurry Up drip instead and I said – fuck this, I want my epidural – and I was just telling my midwife and Bear that I was SCARED about the end of this story, and I wasn’t feeling very energetic or very brave, and some dick of an obstetrician comes in on his rounds and looks at me and says all incredulous “Is she crying?” and tells me “Don’t stress, it doesn’t help.”

Well the epidural perked me up somewhat despite only mostly working, apart from a thick black colouring-book outline of OW that remained on the left-hand-side of my tummy, and Trev and I got our collective A’s-into-G and he was born.

Anyway, as you’ll have gathered, the ending was a happy one. Trev doesn’t have Down syndrome.  He’s a big little guy, 10 lbs 2oz (less than Beetle, by crikey but still big enough to write home about) and he is sleeping really well at night now, feeding like anything and growing and growing and learning to eat his fists and whack at the dangly bits on his play gym, sleeping all snug in the front pack while I do my Christmas shopping and go up to school for carols and a hangi, and so on. It’s lovely.  But I am not going through all this again!

PS: Did I mention that the day I got my blood results back, I rang Bear at work and told him, and the very moment he hung up his boss called to say that the NZ office of his workplace was being shut down?  (He finished work at the end of September)

Sigh.

You said this year was two weeks too long. You’re right.

Before  I go – a big, big thank you to Upside of Down – a lovely, lovely online community of NZ families who were so welcoming and lovely that I was actually kind of  disappointed when my blood test results came back.

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