The Last Post

You may have noticed that this is a place I don't stop by as much these days.

When havenspace was born, I was in a very different place,
geographically and mentally.

It was time for a change.


Four Play

As promised, the birthday photos: 

The Birthday Girl

 I seldom post pictures of other children without consent,
but as Johnny Depp seriously did not show up,
I felt justified.
After all, he sent some amazing replacements.

Party game time.
Bonus: there was a party host who did the shrieking and negotiating with 13 preschoolers,
while the adults stood around and guffawed politely into plastic cups of Ribena.

  She finally settled on a Castle Cake,
which was fortunately, a doddle to decorate.

I understand I was let off lightly this time.
I have been warned she has more extravagent themes in mind for her 5th.

A forced family shot by the staff,
I particularly like the turret placement of the cake
to maximise the birthday girl's features,
and the freakishly weird boy on the wall
who looks like he is about to attack me.

And yes.

I am brunette again.
We arrived back home from the sugar pit
and watched the child open her presents.

It boggled me to lay them all out for inspection.

It appears that the colour Pink unlocks the universal secret of joy for 4 year old girls.

I kept wincing in materialistic overload at the toy explosion each time I walked past
and tried not to visualise that picture on Pinterest of a small starving African child, with a vulture hovering in the background waiting to begin its meal.

Imagined I could put the starving orphan on the bench 
and feed the plastic to the vultures.

Not sure M3 would find that as stimulating as I would.
Anyhow 4 is done and she was as pleased as punch.

Here is her Now I Am Four list:

She is tall for her age,
loves helping herself to my makeup, 
particularly the white and lilac Clinique eyeshadow,
and still sleeps with Bubba.
She likes to eat sugar from the sugar bowl,
also a fan of (still) frozen peas,
dry cereal, warm milo and chippies.
She is a gentle soul,
and has a very unique expression when she is excited.
Her eyes literally lighten and she raises her eyebrows
and I am sucked into a vortex of pleasure each time I see her do it.
Sometimes I rachet up her enthusiasm just to see her eyes 'get it'.
She still loves clambering into our bed in the night and first thing every morning.
She hates thunder.
And being lonely.
She is one of my very best friends,
possessing some of the best ideas a girl could imagine.
She gives incredible hugs with dimpled arms,
her hair is thick, glossy and tangle free
and she lies in the crook of my arm every night while we read stories.
She loves Amelia Bedelia, Milly Molly Mandy and My Naughty Little Sister.

I watched her run about on a patch of grass today,
in her loping, head down, arm pumping kind of way
and felt drunk with the kind of love
that only children at their very best can make you taste.

It was very fun
and I can tell you with great authority,

that being four IS good.


Persia and Parties

I am thrilled to report that my other half camera is back in my hot little hands
after sightseeing around Persia.


Greg went to Turkey to attend his cousin's wedding,
- more a brother than a cousin really,
since they are both 'only children'
 who grew up thrashing the living daylights out of each other.
They are like chalk and cheese to look at,
one light, one dark
but both possess a similar natural grace with people
and are two of the most gentle and creative men I know.

Greg did a fabulous job with the camera,
and these images were a joy to explore.
They were a gift to edit for him
and were almost as good as the shopping 
he did for us at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul.
The vibrant ceramics and embossed silver bowl were a hit,
but the vintage candle lantern catapulted him into my good books.
He also bought M2 a soft, soft woven blanket
which nearly made her pass out with sheer tactile delight.
She has said I can borrow it while she is at school. 


I am now recovered from the weekend on my own
and am back to living through my lens and being a busy mum,
and today a family shoot for my friend,
which was so rewarding as her children were a source of light themselves.
I won't give any secrets away as I want Melinda to see the images first,
but here is a wee sneak peek...

  The weekend holds birthday fever ahead,
and M3 is nearly exploding with excitement
as we plan her party.
She has been collecting ideas for cakes and decor for months,
but was a surprised to learn that Johnny Depp will not be making an appearance at her birthday party after all.  She was expecting that he be there, since she is fascinated by the Mad Hatter and it was quite a job to convince her not to have a freakishly weird Alice in Wonderland cake.  I think she thought by compromising on the cake, surely we would organise him to pop in for a little visit.

She hung her head as she heard my words.
I held her hand as she digested the news.
She asked again just to be really sure that I had 
understood the seriousness of the situation.  
I explained how much I knew Johnny Depp meant to her, 
but that he was busy on Sunday and 
just would not be able to join her and the 
14 other little people attending her party.
It was a sad, sad moment.
Then she shrugged and said that perhaps her party would still be okay.
I said I hoped so too.

Tomorrow I will take her for a wee date to get her a 'Baby Angel' mani/pedi and buy her a milkshake and then on Sunday we will celebrate in true Singaporean style.
Not a garden party like we are used to,
but a huge indoor playground.
This is what she chose 5 months ago, 
so as much as I have suggested other options,
with less screaming children,
she has remained concrete in her decision.
If I can't give her Johnny Depp,
I can gulp down my repulsion of germ factories
and the noise of a million sugar highs
and give her the party of her dreams.

Have a lovely weekend all.



Another week gone.

I think I snap the calendar into chapters on my camera,
but with my 50D swanning around one of the oldest regions of the world,
I had to turn to my phone to capture life instead.

Without The Guy here it was eerily quiet,
unless you count the trip to A&E with M3
for a fractured arm.  Not as quiet there.
Other than that it was your average solo parenting weekend,
where your own voice in your head is the only other adult company
for hours and hours and hours.

It is like survival of the fittest,
alone in the wilderness.

M2 baked her favourite cake
 which made a fabulous mess.
This needed superior cleaning efforts to restore
to ant-free order.
The floors were dusted in icing sugar and cocoa powder.
Egg white dripped off the side of the counter.
There was enough washing up stacked in the sink to swamp an army
and the dog padded through it all and went all
hairy and sticky through to repose on the couch.
I made M2 clean with me.
Never, ever, ever give a 9 year old a mop and bucket.
It is like making cocoa and icing sugar soup on the floor.

However, to her credit,
she did a good job and enjoyed the results of her labour
(the edible ones at least).

The smallest unit of the team enjoyed helping with the licking of the spatula.

You may notice, despite having a wee fracture,
this child is cast-free?

Well, yes.
That is because she wriggled out of it and has hidden it somewhere,
for the second time in two days.
Since she is showing no signs of favouring the arm
and says she is not sore,
I have shrugged my protective shoulders
and let her potter off into her little world of two arms and no casts.

butter wouldn't melt.

The oldest child did hours of homework
and then headed off for a birthday party
which bought the wilderness headcount down.

And then a certain honey coloured hound
needed a thorough wash after cavorting through the fields of cake.
Her dog shampoo is Cherry Blossom scented
and smells better than any human stuff.

This tends to tickle my fancy.
But not for long,
since she was quick to thank me for washing her by
pruning my garden

Weekends without parenting support are like shark infested treacle,
slow moving and very dangerous.
The relentlessness, the children looming larger than life,
always hungry no matter what you throw at them.
It just made me feel like hiding myself away in a dark cupboard.

But we were able to find some cool little moments;
we sniffed our way through Charlie St Cloud,
went for a lovely walk,
with me disguised as a skateboard and scooter porter,
and haggled repeatedly over whose turn it was to empty the dishwasher,
pick up the swimming towels
and tidy the toys.

Today Monday,
you may certainly come in and whisk away the 
bootcamp of my weekend.

Routine wins hands down.
I think I need a busy week in order to recover!


Silence and the Missing

 I chest-squeezingly love them, these four.

At 7.30 in the morning, a bus arrives and takes three pieces of my heart away until 4 in the afternoon.  Then the remaining one leaves in a taxi for a desk I have never seen, in a office on the other side of town.
Except on Mondays and Tuesdays,
when M3 is home with me,
in my pocket practically.
We are never far apart on those days.

There is a weighty hush on the days they are all gone.
Their absence is a silence so profound that I can hardly think.

And yet without which,
I cannot breathe.

It is another light and shadow mix, 
where you cannot have one without the other.

In addition, The Guy leaves tonight to fly to Turkey for a family wedding.  
How I wish we were going together, but I am so delighted that he is able to be present at this celebration.  He is taking my 50D and is under strict instructions to come back with some heart stopping images.  
No pressure Babe,
but weddings are kinda my thing,
and in a gorgeous old city?
No pressure...

We will miss you.

Travel safe.



Newly hatched

Today our little group of expat mummies
met an exquisite new member of the ranks.

Hello Stella Pearl.

She is still a comma of warm baked newborn,
incredibly tiny and delicate 
and warmly welcomed with love
by her doting family,
and us, her friends.


Softly Softly

I may be falling for tropical hues,
but still have a special attachment to
the milk and charcoal
of monochrome.
M3 'pins' birthday cake ideas, in my bed,
expressing what weekends mean for us.
In quiet moments of un-demand,
inspiration unfolds
its wings and settles 
on my crumpled eiderdown.


White Noise

Weeks go by with a faintly static silence.

The ordinary crackles on and I am pushing a shopping trolley,
being a parent taxi,
supervising the Sprogs in the pool,
fixing them dinner,
and trying not to pass out on a Pilates mat
while a toned Thai instructor turns herself inside out with gentle ease.

There are Pooh bear puzzles on the floor,
trash that needs emptying
and a dog that needs walks, feeding and scolding.
The sprogs' hair is tacky, their hands and faces sticky.
Crayola Window markers adorn the french doors with underwater themes.
The sewing room is scattered with pins and tiny threads.
There is Parmesan cheese on the floor of the oven.

You know. Normal stuff.

Little mosaics of ordinary that consume and dictate the hours
and how my head and hands fill them.

And somewhere, I think bloggy thoughts that fall and rise like the stock market,
but are hushed under a blanket of interference.

I travel in the car to get the kids from school,
sometimes pressing the radio tuning buttons in quick succession
in the hopes of stumbling across a sound I might recognise.
But instead, Indonesian tumbles into Malay, Mandarin into Hindi.
The sitar bounces off the gong which rolls into Japanese technopop.

It is vibrant and completely foreign to me.

I lean towards a nest of predictability.

Missing pruning my daphne and white roses.
Cooking crockpot lamb while its cold outside or
picking a bunch of my own fresh mint
from a pot under the dripping garden tap.
I miss the smell of sunshine on my washing.

And then I whack the back of a pomegranate
with all the frustrations I carry of just being me.

The ruby seeds fly out and I stand paralyzed,
amazed and wide eyed at their audacious light
against the milky feta on my salad.

I pick up the girls from ballet,
and am mute when I see poetry in their bone structure
as they walk towards me,

When reaching for ingredients in the pantry,
I am utterly sidetracked by the pattern on the poppadom packet.

It is a strange and peculiar turning,
but I am trying to tune in
and tell the yearning for predictability
that it is just a layer of me,
not the whole.

I can hear uncertainty in the way my old habits
try to order the new, young ones into line.
The way to do things is not going unchallenged.
My dislikes are being dangled out for a re-think.

Are you sure, my questioning creative asks,
that you don't like blue and orange together?

Are You Sure?

For some reason this becomes crucial to answer.
I flash back uncomfortably to not having a security blanket
while away from home and having to borrow
a flannel baby wrap to sleep with when I was 9.
It was pilled and coarse and smelled of carbolic soap.
It was also blue and orange paisley.
A wave of homesickness bleakly rushed into the colours and ruined them.
After that those colours together made me feel ill.

I am now in my mid thirties and I am suffering a colour crush.
I dawdle helplessly,
dizzy with the love of a coral wall or a teal leather book,
the ruffles of a jungle leaf and
I poke at the chickpeas in my curry
peering at them changing from mustard to aubergine.

My grown up matronly voice is bewildered and falters.

The creative voice speaks clearer and is more demanding.

Says, remember those glass bangles in teal and gold
when you were 9, a gift from India?
They all broke didn't they?
But their chime and hue made a part of who you are.

Those glass turquoise tiles from Paradise Island
that you pressed into the mud to make tiny villages?
Childhood play made adult thoughts.

Remember reading the works of Amy Carmichael
all those years ago?
How you wished for a sari?

Those colours were there all along,
just hidden under the layers
of who you chose to be.

Ah, so perhaps this radio station is not so unfamiliar after all.

It was just tuned out
under a blanket of muffling white,
to ensure the dyes of the past
did not stain the safety of the future.


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