Tolstoy …

… was finished ages ago. I’ve made it through at least two other books since, albeit not as thick. Gosh, time really has been getting away from me lately – maybe that’s one of the charms of fatherhood.

Toby has become a little legend – for the first four months he cried a lot, enough that we even took him to a pediatrician and other health care professionals. Eventually it emerged that he’s got a lactose intolerance, so we bought some special formula and the change was dramatic and immediate – a four-hour stretch after his first lactose-free feed.

But that seems like ancient history, he’s over six months old now and a happy, chirpy little boy, smart and curious and burblingly noisy. And did I mention he’s still the cutest thing anyone has ever seen?

Work has been getting busier – recently worked on a for sale by owner, private real estate sales website, a Melbourne cosmetic surgery and the Cursions directory of school excursions and school camps. Plus we’ve launched WebMojo, our SEO and Internet Marketing services.

I’ve got a new employee who’s turning out great and it’s all getting pretty crazy, but I’m liking it.

Bombshell!!

Anna has a child to Vronsky and gets very sick immediately after, feeling full of remorse on her death bed she tells her husband to come home and forgive her – which he does, overcome himself by her situation and bleiving she’ll die.

But Anna doesn’t die. Instead, she recovers, Vronsky quits the army and they go travelling abroad together! Shock!

Meanwhile Kitty and Levin have just got married, so much happiness and good will.

I’m loving this book! It’s taking me a while to get through it, but that’s what Tolstoy’s all about, right? It’s a beautiful read anyway, not at all difficult, the translators have done an excellent job to make it flow so well.

And Toby’s going well, growing fast, getting cuter every minute, almost eight weeks old now. He cries a lot some days and sleeps well other days. Today’s a crying day, which is hard for Leash. She feels she’s tried every different combination of feed/play/sleep/bath etc and there’s no pattern emerging – sometimes he’s fine, sometimes he’s not – and while I think it’s probably normal, the fact that he won’t settle into a routine or predictable behaviour stresses us both just a bit. Especially because we did this parenting course that promoted the importance of ‘flexible routine’, and a lot of the ‘routine’ part of what they said should happen just hasn’t for our little man. At least he’s got the ‘flexible’ part going well!

A great weekend

We just returned from a long weekend in Sydney for my sister‘s wedding, it was absolutely beautiful – Maggie looked amazing and the whole experience was perfect. They got married in a park on one of Sydney’s many waterways, then the reception was at their church hall, all dressed up for the occasion. Even the weather was perfect!

Toby did very well, he cried while we were waiting in the airport and we could see everyone looking at us out of the corners of their eyes thinking “I hope we’re not on their flight” but once we were on the plane he was fine. And he slept perfectly well in the hotel too, so overall I was very impressed with him; and while there were enough stressful moments that I wouldn’t purposefully travel with a 5-week old, if the requirement came up again I wouldn’t hesitate. Love my boy 🙂

Tolstoy exists in non-baby land

Well, it sort of is still baby land in a roundabout way. On the occasions when Toby’s been up at night – which seems to happen about twice a week at the moment – I’ve been reading Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. I’ve found it beautifully written and easy to read, which makes it a fantastic novel to submerse myself in at the moment, where reading is even more piecemeal than normal. It’s set in Russian high society, spanning both the city and the country, and while its namesake Anna and her liaison with the soldier Vronsky form the principal storyline there’s another narrative told alongside it of the country landowner Levin who loves the beautiful but naive Kitty, daughter of a Prince and Princess. I don’t know how their part is going to end, but I really, really hope they get married and live happily ever after. They deserve it: Levin is such a solid, trustworthy, entirely perfect man! At the moment he’s mowing grass with his hired men. Tolstoy’s descriptions of the country and of Levin’s country lifestyle are my favourite parts of the book so far.

I often think that half the joy in reading books like this is the insight into another culture. An author from within that culture writes about what is normal and interesting and noteworthy, writing primarily for other people within the culture, and I think it gives great insight into how other people think and the similarities and differences that exist across different countries and borders. It’s like traveling to really foreign places: it broadens your mind. I often think the same thing when reading Italo Calvino or Milan Kundera. The story itself is only half the pleasure, the rest is in being introduced to a knew and exciting world view.

Another thing I find myself thinking, though, is how the original readers responded to the story. Calvino, for instance: I recently re-read Difficult Loves, a series of short stories, each one really a character study of some typical Italian person. To me, reading about a woman drinking coffee, or a man riding his bike to a factory to work, or someone losing their bathers while swimming at the ocean – these are all incredibly interesting because they build in my mind an image of Italy. But if you’re Italian, and every day you see women drinking coffee and men riding bikes, or in fact if you are an Italian woman or man who does these things, then the story itself would be all that is left of Calvino. Or Kundera, or Tolstoy. And would the story by itself be enough to keep the interest of a ‘native’? I guess in the case of these three it must be, as they have each attained a level of respect and longevity within their own cultures and languages as well as in mine.

Anyway, more thoughts about this later. I still don’t know how Anna Karenina ends. Or even, in fact, how it pans out – despite being 200 pages in I’ve still got three quarters to go. Now that’s longevity.

_Some_ good news

Elicia’s pretty much walking again now – although the 500m stroll down the shops tuckers her out and she’s sore afterwards. But it makes her (and I both) feel a lot better just because it’s proof she’s on the mend and that everything will be back to normal soon.

Well, except for the very noisy bundle of joy 😉

Someone asked me yesterday how I feel to be a dad, and I had trouble answering. It’s strange. Sometimes I’ll be at work or watching tele or something else mundane and all of a sudden I feel incredibly fantastic, like everything’s right with the world. I think it’s hormones. Or love. Whatever, it feels great and I can’t wait to come home and see my family and hold out little boy.

But then other times I feel kind of dull and a bit confused. Like I don’t know how to feel about it all. Like I’m not very emotionally involved in what’s going on. Some of the things that happen aren’t situations that normally make me happy, noisy late nights for example. I don’t feel sad either, nor regretful, it’s more kind of like I don’t know how to feel or what to feel – unless it’s slightly bewildered.

Besides, there’s nothing to be done: we’re well and truly committed now! And anyway, he’s 3.5 weeks now, which means that with any luck we’re halfway to sleeps-through-the-night stage. (Ssssh, I don’t want any more horror stories thank you.)

An early-morning thought.

Possibly the most prayed words in history: “Lord, please let him sleep!”

Actually it’s all still going pretty well, we’ve had a few sleepless nights and a few sleep-filled – as much as they can be with a newborn anyway. The midwife who visited on the weekend had some hot tips for good night sleep, which worked wonders on the night after. It’s progressively got worse again since then though, so I’m not sure if he’s building up an immunity to my Nina Simone CD (not one of the midwife’s suggestions as such, but something that we found worked incredibly well) or whether they just stop sleeping as well. Not sure, never done this before…

Anyway, this bleary-eyed Dad is logging off, still very much in love with his noisy son.

Good news!

Tobias George Crook (Toby) was born at 7:31pm on Monday 3rd March, weighing 4.065 kg (8 lb 15 oz), 50cm long and looking quite spunky.

Elicia's doing well, she sprained a ligament in her pelvis during the birth process which means she wasn't able to walk at all for a few days and now has to use an old lady’s walking frame. She's recovering well and we spent our first night back at home last night. The sleep deprivation isn’t too bad – Elicia’s mum is staying with us for a few days which is absolutely awesome, between the three of us we can alternate shifts a bit which makes life much easier.

And truly, being a parent is awesome, our little guy is the best ever. Even when he’s crying in the middle of the night I just look down at him and think ‘it doesn’t matter how much noise you make, I love you a million’.

Wow, only 4 weeks to go!

Yeah, getting pretty close! We’ve switched from reading pregnancy books to birth books, also had our first parenting class last week. Elicia’s been happy and healthy until just the last week or so when she’s started getting sore hips and having trouble sleeping (more than before). It’s all very exciting, but it still all seems kind of funny rather than serious. For instance, we went to a wedding on Saturday and it was really funny trying to dance – there’s a big ball of stomach between my wife and I!

The end of an era

Elicia finished fulltime work this week. She’ll be doing part-time until the end of December and after that a bit here and there as she finds herself able, but for the most part we’re down to 1 wage as of next week. And it’s our wedding anniversary today. And exactly three months until our son is due (yes, he’s going to be a boy!)

Anyway, more about that later. What’s really struck me today is how much of a change this really is for us. Work-wise yes, but I think I was expecting that to an extent – it’s really the first thing the husband thinks about. And the baby-care role for the wife – that’s another big change but again, it’s one that you know will happen before you start. But there’s other changes – one for us is that we’ve had to put our apartment at Mount Hotham on the market in order to make the new budget balance nicely. It’s a bit sad – and to me it really does signify the end of a part of our lives, the care-free, travelling part. I’m not moping – I’m sure we’ll still go on holidays and whatever else, and they’ll probably be even more fun with kids – but Hotham was an escape from the real world, a relaxing of the rules and a real icon of our ability to non-conform. And now it’s got – we will conform – we will stay in one place – and we will enjoy it!

Anyway, as I said, more about all that later – but if you want to check it out visit our apartment on realestate.com.au.