Bunkering down

Madeleine OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAChristmas is just around the corner and summer has finally put in an appearance (40 degrees yesterday, folks). Today is the last day of work for most people and everywhere you go, crowds are spilling out of trams and onto cafe tables and beaches and shopping centres and parks. But we are staying home. Or at least we are keeping very local. Neither the double pram nor the newborn Ergo insert I ordered online quite some time back have arrived, so getting out and about with a toddler and a newborn baby is pretty tricky. Add to that the Christmas rush: last thing I want is to be caught in the city with a million other people and a crying toddler at her nap time, with a hungry baby and leaking breasts and a line-up for a chair in the Myer nursing room!

Instead, our days are taken up with quiet cuddles, making Anzac biscuits (we are not slaves to the season), playing with water in the courtyard. I cut out paper snowflakes to decorate the house, and Madeleine chose silver and red sleigh-bells to hang from each one. We wrapped Christmas presents while watching Harry Potter movies for an entire afternoon.

But while we have been bunkering down, friends have come to us, with visitors and house-guests almost every day. So we've served up simple meals of antipasto or sandwich fillings eaten outside in the sun, delicious beef stroganoff courtesy of the one and only Deb, and one night I made another giant batch of Mr B's favourite (and incredibly easy to cook) pork ragu.

Harry has been pudging up beautifully, like a little champion. Madeleine is paying him lots of loving attention; holding his hand, smiling when he smiles (ok I tell her it's a smile), and solicitously placing wet-wipes over his legs like blankets if I don't stop her. She is adjusting to this big sister gig incredibly well, being (mostly) very patient with all the time I need to give him, and releasing all that pent-up energy that used to go in trips to the park by racing up and down the house pushing her own baby in its own pram, playing with her big sister, and dancing in her nappy like a whirling dervish when her cousins come to visit.

I read this book in the middle of the night for a week while nursing Harry, and it left me feeling a little strange and unsettled. Empty, expectant, like its post-Soviet Ukraine setting. Have you read it? I'd love to know how others felt about it. Now I have turned my nocturnal attention to this book. I'm only just starting it and so far it's kind of lovely, but I have a prickling foreboding that things might get sad. I'm nervous.

What are you reading? What are you doing? Are you getting out or bunkering down?

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