A tale of jelly.

by Veronica Foale on December 7, 2015

in Children

My youngest child wants jelly.

“You will make it for me Mummy? You will make it?”

She waves the box around in front of my face, as I attempt to run stocktake on essential oils.

“I can’t make it right now Eve. And anyway, even if I make it now, it will still have to go into the fridge to get cold.”

“Does the jelly needa get cold Mummy?”

I nod, distracted.

“Yes, sweetheart. I mix it with water, and then it goes away to get cold and set.”

She looks at me, smiles, and walks away. I hear the fridge open and shut, as I run my eyes over my remaining stock lists.

Five minutes later, Eve stands in front of me again, brandishing her box of jelly.

“Mummy! The jelly is cold now! Can I eat it please?”

Three year olds are chaos walking. Everything happens at high speed, high intensity. They feel things so deeply that it can be heartbreaking to watch them bounce around their day, like the silver balls inside a pinball table.

They’re the happiest they’ve ever been, right up until their heart breaks and everything is ruined forever. A broken banana is the end of the world. A stolen sock; a tragedy.

Three year olds are also hilarious. It’s why we don’t eat them.

“But MUMMY, the jelly is cold! You said we could eat it when it got cold!”


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Eight days.

by Veronica Foale on January 26, 2015

in Children, Family, Me

We have eight days left in the school holidays and I am counting the hours. onetwothreefourfivesixseveneightdays. Everyone is bored, sick of each other. The screaming starts again and I clench my hands, breathe deep and remind my eldest child yet again how to speak nicely, kindly, like you might actually get what you want. Over and over, around and around.

I cannot wait for quiet hours with only the two year old at home. I’d like to say I’ll miss them, but I won’t.

I love my children, and their being away from me merely increases the energy I have for them. It’s a win/win situation.

I teach myself a new skill: lotion making. My refusal to use palm oil or its derivatives means I get to craft my own recipe rather than using a tried and true beginner example. Carefully I measure everything to the nth degree, weighing, pouring, heating, holding.

All the build up and when the time is right I pour the jugs together. One quick blend and it’s magic, thick and creamy, whiter than white. Easier than an orgasm, easier than soap. All the work is in the waiting, the build up.

I clean up, exhausted suddenly. My hands are covered in cream and I am looking forward to doing this again.

A little like good sex.

My middle child, my son, my adventurous intelligent gorgeous boy had a birthday and I realised in my exhaustion and attempts to make it the Best Day Ever, I completely forgot to mention him on my blogs. And I wonder, later, will he read my archives and feel the lack? The inevitable middle child syndrome, even as we strove to make everything amazing for him. Will he read the archives and instead of remembering how present I was on the day he turned six, will he merely notice I didn’t celebrate him online?

I don’t know if I feel guilty or not.

Bedtime was two hours ago and that is obviously why I have a two year old draped over my legs while I type. Her cries of Paper Me! and PEN ME! are demands which are easily met as sleep fails to come. Holidays are meant to be healing, soothing, but instead we’re all tired from being on top of one another. I fight my claustrophobia in a house which is too small, and summer weather too awful to escape outside.

We sit on top of each other, music and electronics and fights clashing against the background of playing and laughter and two dogs trying to play under all our feet. It’s beautiful destructive gorgeous chaos and I am stuck in the middle of it, surrounded by children like they’re waves and I’m an island and they’re slowly eating away at my shores.

I work and work and work, sinking myself into anything to distract myself from the stress, the chaos, the exhaustion. If I can just ignore everything for a little while longer, we might be able to make some money and extend the house, add more space, set up a caravan based studio for soaping in.

Pipe dreams, but still I work work work. It helps that I love what I do, the working with my hands and brain tied together in a beautiful intricate dance of science and art.

Cosmetic chemistry, man, it’s beautiful.

And there’s chocolate hidden in my desk drawers, so it will all be okay in the end.


Buy our luxury soap here. You know you want to.

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The pointy end of the year

by Veronica Foale on December 17, 2014

in Children

I can hear my children screeching in their bedroom, intermingled shouts of laughter and DON’T DO THAT twining around each other until I want to scream just go the fuck to sleep, please god sleep.

Guilt twinges. In the wake of horror you’re meant to cherish your children because elsewhere in the world other people are mourning theirs, but I’m out of cherishment, out of patience. I want them to sleep, so for an hour, or maybe two, I can just sit here and be an adult with my husband. No screeching, or screaming, or attending to cries of bottle me mummy, I needa you, and he hurt me why can’t I have it it’s not fair my life is ruined.

In the cool light of a school morning everyone will regret not falling asleep earlier, except the toddler who will have spent a happy three hours trying to play with my face in the wee hours, falling asleep again forty five minutes before my alarm goes off.

It’s the pointy end of the year and we’re all tired.

The older kid’s screaming drags the toddler from her bed and I clench my teeth together determined not to shout. I’ve shouted too much lately.

But it does no good.

Laughter should not sound like fingernails on a chalkboard.

One child: query cerebral palsy; mild. One child: query generalised anxiety; food restricting; weight loss. One child: trapped in the chaos and fighting for attention.

No wonder we are tired.

Christmas is coming and I can’t wait; we need the long lazy days of summer when the heat presses us all against the floor, to lay there in puddles of sweat and fatigue, too hot to fight or scream or throw a forty minute tantrum when I say no dessert.

I’m still working the antidepressants out of my system, a system requiring them for pain relief, but who needs pain relief when it comes with a side of crippling depression? Antidepressants causing depression seems like a roundabout way of fucking everything up, but what do I know. Nothing of brain chemistry and how to make joints stop hurting when I really just have things to do.

It’s been six months and maybe I can write again.

The toddler shrieks again loudly and I am suddenly very grateful that the next baby born in this family won’t be mine, or need anything from me except the unconditional love of an aunt.

And so I write it all out while a child pats me on the stomach and seriously tells me a story about hurt knees.

I thought I’d forgotten how to do this.

We launched a business and for a while there, writing wasn’t the driving part of my day. Losing yourself in the swirl of soap and the science of cosmetics, it’s easy to forget to remove the words from your head as the days stretch long and you’re working working working.

I love it though, the chemistry and the science of it, I love the testing and the creation and the pride in a well made product. My job is so much fun, and then people give me money for things I have made. What kind of magic is this?

The very best kind, it turns out.

But I want to write again, need to write again. The softness of SSRI’s has worn away and life is bright and sharp again. A blessing and a curse.

The light fades and the house gets quieter. The big children have stopped screaming, finally worn out from a long day at school. The toddler is curled up against my side, a warm weight against me as she strokes my arms and drinks a bottle.

Tomorrow will be better, when the last day of school is done and the days are long and full of sunshine.

Tomorrow will be better.

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Another thing on our list of things

by Veronica Foale on September 18, 2013

in Children

The air is vaguely warm and damp as I walk home from the bus stop, holding the hand of my eldest daughter. We’re discussing her reading; more honestly, the struggles she is having with learning to read.

“Sometimes the words dance around, and go blurry and I can’t remember which word I’m meant to be looking at.”

A short story she brought home the previous day encourages me to probe for details, the transposed letters, mirrored words and sight words with the middle all muddled ringing alarm bells in my head.

I research Dyslexia and mark a checklist that tells me if you check more than ten of these, consult with a specialist. I check thirty four.

I make an appointment with our doctor for (another) eye test, just in case, before sending her off to her room to play. A highly intelligent child, this might explain her frustration with words not making sense inside her head.

My husband confesses that if he doesn’t read methodically, the lines move and blur together for him as well.

Huh. These things run in families, oftentimes.

She plays and I am grateful to be making this connection now, which she is small and malleable, before the disillusionment sinks in and the bright shine of learning gets knocked off her.

It will be okay – it will always be okay. It’s just another thing on our list of things, another reason to keep pushing, to keep reading, to keep paying attention.

Maybe something inside her brain will click tomorrow and she will stop shouting, frustrated, when the books don’t speak to her. Or maybe something won’t, and we’ll get help, falling to the bottom of the issue and working out way out again with success in our eyes.


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Death and dying

by Veronica Foale on April 5, 2013

in Children, Family, Life

I am standing in the greenhouse with a pair of scissors in my hand, snipping away at pumpkin vines. The backs of my hands bleed, a myriad of scratches and tiny pumpkin thistles resisting their inevitable death. A snail slides across the roof beam, leaving a trail of silver behind her. I pluck her off and throw her to the eagerly awaiting chickens, before resuming my cutting.

The pile of vines outside my door grows, twists, morphs into my failures. The pumpkin vines are infected with powdery mildew and dying slowly, covering everything else in their plague. I cut them back (everything ruined forever), before the pile of victims grow.

My pea plants; dead already. The lettuces; bolted to seed. The tomatoes; surviving and thriving. Nature, nurture, luck.

My children play around my legs. Hide and seek, games of dirt. Messy hair and faces.

The grass is long, green and verdant. Our change of seasons has been kind, and the colour is returning to our little corner of the world. Earwigs hide in the corners, their tail pincers snapping maliciously when I move too close, before their nerve breaks and they run run run away.

My baby wakes up and I can hear her, inside, crying for me. I carefully place the scissors down, abandoning the dead and dying.

It’s evening when my husband mentions that he hasn’t seen our daughter’s cat. Our favourite, she is the first in for dinner and the last to disappear afterwards. I get dressed, coat and shoes, and walk outside to check the highway for a small body. The light is fading fast, muted grey and dull.

I always pray when I do this that I’ll find nothing – that my missing animal is merely holed up for the night somewhere else, not interested in having anything to do with me. I have been disappointed too many times before to find any comfort in my denial. Our highway is brutal, fast and unforgiving.

The air catches in the back of my throat, the hint of frosts coming. Icy tendrils snake down my neck and I clutch my collar tighter to myself. A quick glance shows nothing, but I know better and I cross the road quickly to check the long grass, up and down.

I’m not out there for long before my options are exhausted. She’s not here. Not dead on the road.

Relief is a powerful thing.

I jump my fence and come back into the property in the opposite direction, before stopping and looking.


Her eyes are open, just slightly and she is cold, so very cold. Dead a day at least, I wonder how we missed noticing that she wasn’t around hours earlier. She’d run, after being hit – or maybe she dragged herself. We won’t know. The fur skinned from her leg speaks of impossible speed across a bitumen road. She’s collapsed in the corner of our paddock, a puff of grey fur loose on her back.

The blood has soaked deep into the ground.

I hold my daughter as she sobs, my husband outside digging the perpetual holes that need digging when you live in the country and you share your life both with animals and predators.

I am cutting back the pumpkin vines. There is blood on my wrists and death in my heart.



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