Wedding Anniversary

Thursday, August 28, 2008

It's a big week here chez Duyvken, today is our 9th wedding anniversary. 9 years, 4 children, 7 addresses and countless wonderful memories. Here's to many more!
I know it would make more sense to post a couple of wedding pics but we were married in the pre-digital camera age - 1999 - and I don't have a scanner. So, instead I give you this!

Separated at birth?

The pic on the right is a photo that Mr Duyvken took of me in 1990, long before we started going out. We found it when we were going through a big box of his photos a couple of years after we were married. Clearly, I was unimpressed at having my photo taken. Makes you wonder why it took him 6 years to ask me out, doesn't it? Although, I was wearing my fave logo t-shirt and big cardigan which is what I wore when I was dressing to impress ;-) The photo of Mr Duyvken was taken in 1992 and shows that big glasses and fuzzy hair didn't go out of style as quickly as we'd like to think it did.
Happy Anniversary GG!

Happy Birthday to me

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I turn 34 today.
I can't believe it...
...but dates don't lie.I got this beautiful picture from the little ones featuring one of G's patented heart-shaped people.

Here's a close up of me - check out my teeny waist and kickass orange tights.
I look exactly like this in real life.


Monday, August 25, 2008

I am sure that regular readers will remember the toing and froing about baby names in the lead up to Juliet's birth. We were fairly stable when it came to boy's names but we had a harder time settling on a girl's name. I was very keen on Willa and Greg was keen on Juliet and just not sure about Willa. In the end we went with Juliet Willa but I have had a hard time thinking of her as a Juliet. It is a beautiful name, and it is a name I have always loved but Willa seems to suit her better. Perhaps, I am just seeing what I want to see (don't we all?). J has taken to calling her J.Willa and I also call her that more often than Juliet. So, do we lead everyone to call her Willa or J.Willa? Do we officially change her name? Do I just get used to calling her Juliet?
My sister's sister-in-law is Andrea Kate but has always been called Kate because shortly after registering her birth her parents decided that they like Kate better. It doesn't seem to be too much of a hassle for her to go by her middle name but perhaps it's easier in the US, they do tend to do it more often than we do.

The Great-Nan

Friday, August 22, 2008

My darling grandmother died on the 16th of June after 4 weeks in a nursing home. She had lived on her own in her flat in Manly until May when she had to finally admit that she could no longer care for herself. My mum and uncle had worked very hard over the last few years to give her all the help she needed to make staying on her own possible, they should both be very proud of all they did. In the end, however, her body just couldn't keep going and they were increasingly worried about her falling and not being able to get to the phone. I think that as she grew weaker she also became more fearful about falling, about being hurt and about not being able to help herself and so she found a respite care bed closer to my mum.

The hursing home she was in wasn't great but I don't think these places ever are. Nan always thought of them as places people went to die (God's waiting room) and I guess she was right. Visiting her there was very hard because there were so many reminders of what is in store for those of us who are lucky to live a long life. Indignity seems to be the price we pay for longevity.

She passed away quite quickly in the end, refusing to go to the hospital in an ambulance and dying before the ambulance arrived when the nursing staff insisted on calling one anyway. She was very strong-willed in life, always doing things on her own terms so it seemed fitting that it was the same in death. I was with mum when she got the phone call, we were in the dr's office in the middle of Charlotte and Juliet's vaccinations, both girls were upset and then mum started crying too. We were quite a sight! I drove mum straight to the nursing home from the dr's office and after visiting Nan she insisted that I go in to say goodbye. I really didn't want to but mum was so upset I didn't offer any resistance and went down the hall to Nan's room. They had the curtain drawn around her bed and had put her rosary beads in her hands and some rouge on her cheeks. I know people say that the dead look peaceful but they don't to me, she just looked empty, utterly and completely void of life.

It was the second time I have sat with a dead body and it wasn't any easier than the first time. I know that some people need to see the body, need to see the lifelessness, need to feel the kick in the stomach to really know that the person they have loved is gone, but I am not one of those people. We sat with my father when he died 4 days before Jeremiah's birth until the funeral home workers arrived to take his body and I found it so hard. His body was there beside us but his absence was so evident, it was unbearable. We all sat together- my mum, my sisters, my sister's fiance, Greg, Grace and I - crying, praying, holding one another and trying hard to be together despite feeling so utterly alone.

I stayed with Nan's body just long enough to satisfy mum and made my way back to the visiting room where I sat on a sorry looking vinyl upholstered armchair cradling my beautiful 6 week old baby and thought about the beginnings and endings that surrounded me. The contrast was very intense.

Two months have passed and time has left it's mark on our grief, rubbing it back and softening it, lightening it and making it easier to carry. Mum is struggling and I am struggling to find the right way to support her but we are getting there. Mum has been going through Nan's apartment and sorting all her things to make sure that all of Nan's final wishes are fulfilled. Nan specified that all her grandchildren receive certain things (her best dinner set for one of my sisters, her best tea set for my other sister, paintings for my 3 cousins) but she didn't specifiy anything for me. I know this was an oversight and yet it bruised me a little when mum told me. It didn't take long to get over but I think mum must have picked it up because she keeps offering things as if they are consolation prizes. She brought a large bag of tea towels over last week and a cookie sheet that Nan had never used. This week she arrived with another bag and gave me these beautiful champagne glasses. They are just glass and they are not very old but I am pleased to have them. Nan never served champagne in flutes, always in these wide, shallow glasses and I will always remember her when we raise our fluteless champagnes and make a toast.

We will miss you, Nan.

Things I Love

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Now that is a beautiful bike! Greg's a very keen cyclist and normally I can't get excited about frames, wheels, etc but these retro cruisers (this one is the Electra Red Betty) are just gorgeous. I can see myself getting around the neighbourhood on one of these with the 4 little ones following on their bikes like 4 little ducks waddling along behind mama.

Things I love

Photo from

The beautiful mosaic floor at the entry to the old Mark Foy's building.

4 months old

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

JW has changed a lot this month. She is roly-poly, cooing and giggling and is getting very strong. She is almost out of the 000 size clothes and I'm going to have to pull the 00's out of the cupboard for her. Charlotte is also almost ready to move up a size so a major reshuffle is just ahead of me. It's not an awful job, I just find it so tedious. Of course, if I wasn't such a fruitcake about washing everything before I put it away and again before it goes into the wardrobe it would be a much quicker process . I have only myself to blame ;-)

We had some lovely friends over for dinner on the weekend. It has been a while since we've caught up with them (I used to babysit their children when I was a teenager) and among a few other ventures she has started a business importing foreign language children's picture books. Why do people think of these excellent ideas before me? Doesn't that sound divine? It also means that travelling to the Book Fair in Bologna last year (and a number of subsequent buying trips) was tax deductible.
It is definitely time to start thinking seriously about what I will do when all the children are in school and I *gulp* go back to work.


Monday, August 11, 2008

I love this photo from today's smh - the colour, the composition, the colours, the sponge, the tea cosy and the heels (!) - it's part of an article about clutter and the stress it can create in our lives. We've had a little practice living in very small spaces so we don't tend to accumulate too much. Despite this, I feel like we must still have a lot of stuff coming through the door because I'm regularly taking bags of clothes to the collection bin up at church and boxes of knick knacks to the local St Vincent de Paul. Where does it all come from?! Having a daughter who sees the crafting potential in every empty box, bag and bottle doesn't help! She's my mini-Martha!


Friday, August 08, 2008

I just adore this fabric range from Lecien. It's called My Folklore (I am capitalising that but I just want to point out that I don't know if I should or not. I had an internal dialogue going about it for a couple of minutes and decided to just move on and leave it as it is. I hope that won't irritate my dear readers, some of whom I know are writers and editors. I apologise if I am wrong and I want you to completely ignore this aside if I am correct :-)) and oh my, it's beautiful. I even like all the colourways. Normally I fall firmly in love with just one and wonder why they bothered making the others.
Now, wouldn't one of these have been a great starter fabric for the baby quilt?
I am not enjoying piecing this quilt top at all. I really hope it picks up when I get to the quilting. I find it hard working on something when I am not in love with it although I do tend to go through a phase like this with every quilt. Fingers crossed it all comes together soon!
I have been trying to lose weight and get back in shape for the past 6wks and it's been going pretty well but tonight I would do almost anything for a plate of vegie nachos. Mmmm... I think I'll have to go to bed to avoid the urge to nibble.
Here's the recipe for what we rather imaginatively call beans. Sooo delicious!
1 onion, diced
3 stalks of celery, diced
1 green capsicum, diced
1 ½ tbsp brown sugar2 heaped tsps cumin2 heaped tsps corianderground chilli to taste 1 heaped tsp paprika1 can of red kidney beans, well rinsed
6 tomatoes, peeled and chopped or 1 can of diced tomatoes

· Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a saucepan and add the onions, celery and capsicum and stir til softened and starting to brown.
· Add the spices and sugar stir til combined and the sugar has dissolved.
· Quickly add the tomatoes before the sugar has a chance to burn and simmer for 10mins.
· Add the kidney beans and cook for a further 10mins stirring often.
· If you like a smoother chilli roughly mash beans using a potato masher.
· Serve with tacos or burritos, sliced iceberg lettuce, black olive and corn salsa and guacamole.
I cannot get blogger to recognise the spacing that I want for this post despite several attempts. So frustrating!

Thanks Kim

Thursday, August 07, 2008

I had a lovely day today. C, JW and I visited Kim from All Consuming for morning tea and met two of her boys, Jasper and Grover. They are such adorable boys (has Kim posted about Grover's amazing eyes?) and Kim is just delightful. She had made a delicious cake and wandered around the kitchen chatting, herding children and making a beautiful lemon icing glaze - very impressive stuff!

I neglected to take any photos but Kim can back me up when I say that I had my hands full when I arrived. Even if I had put the camera in the car I wouldn't have been able to get it out of the car and into her house!

I also neglected to bake something to take with me. Given the delicious cake she provided this probably wasn't a bad thing, I would definitely have come off second best! Although the kids did seem to enjoy the gingerbread men we bought along the way. And thank goodness they did because that little detour involved loading the youngest two into the stroller and took 25mins. Seriously, we parked on the kerb practically right outside the shop and it still took forever.

Thanks so much Kim! We had a great time.

An hourglass quilt for my new niece or nephew

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

One of my sisters-in-law (I have quite a few) is expecting her first baby in October so I had her select a fabric and I am using it as the basis for a quilt. It took her a while to pick a fabric and I really wasn't thrilled with what she chose (each to their own, I guess) so I didn't race straight into the project. It's not an awful fabric but I've seen many fabrics that I prefer and I just couldn't see how I could work it into a quilt that I would be happy with. So, to solve that cut it up into very small pieces for use in the quilt top and will use most of it, uncut, as the backing fabric. Hopefully it will still feature enough to keep her happy! I mean really, how can you walk through a whole fabric store and walk away with this?

The questionable fabric choice...

...and the 'cut it up into teeny tiny' pieces solution.

I'm following the hourglass quilt instruction on Amanda Jean's blog (that girl sure races through her projects!) and it's been a breeze so far. I love seeing those points come together!

A closer look at the fabrics I am using. The warm yellow on the right didn't end up in the final layout but I have been making hourglass blocks with all my fabric leftover from other projects and will put them all together in a nice scrappy quilt one of these days.

Greg's been doing some track racing (cycling at the Dunc Gray Velodrome) once a fortnight and I've been using that time to do some sewing. I had forgotten how lovely it is to have the house to myself. Well, relatively speaking, of course, the children are all still at home but once they're asleep I can pretend, can't I?

And I can't let this post pass without sending heartfelt congratulations to Corrie on the birth of her twins, Finn and Tillie. Aren't they great names? The photos on her blog are just adorable, you did very well, Retro Mummy! I am seriously clucky now!

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