The Generous Toddler

Over the last week or two Asher has developed the idea that it's good to share. This means that now he will smear his cheesy crackers over the face of any doll, stuffed animal or small plastic farm animal in his vicinity in an attempt to share his snack. Yesterday at a kid-friendly Christmas party we went to he tipped his cup of water over an unsuspecting baby-doll in an attempt to share and last week at the park when I offered him a sandwich he clearly wanted one for his little mate Miles as well. He had to chase Miles across the park but finally he handed over the sandwich and Miles, bless his 17 month old heart, clearly said 'ta' and they sat down in the grass together and ate the grotty little handfuls of sandwich. It's really, really cute but I also feel like it's a new developmental stage. To be honest I'm not really sure if he's starting to understand that other people have feelings or whether that kind of behaviour just gets him plenty of positive attention but either way it's incredibly endearing. I wonder if it's enough to make up for his panchant for grabbing handfuls of soil out of our pot plants and dumping it on the terrace so he can get the broom and attempt to sweep it up?


Surrealism for beginners?

Galumph went the little green frog one day.
Galumph went the little green frog.
Galumph went the little green frog one day
and his eyes went glumph glumph glumph
But we all know frogs go la di da di da
La di da di da la did da di da
We all know frogs go, la di da di da.
They don't go glumph glumph glumph.


ZAP explores the park one blade of grass at a time

Zara explores the grass
Originally uploaded by karmakeda
We had a lovely brekky with Bindy, Daniel and Zara this morning at a cafe in Coogee that specializes in crumpets (I'll go find a link just so you can revel in smutty joy of the names of the breakfast dishes). We haven't caught up for a while and it was great to see them - we have all been a bit busy with kids and recently the journey over to the eastern suburbs has seemed longer. Zara is growing into a delightful little person, very cheerful and sociable over breakfast and when we went for a walk to let Asher have a run around on she was pulling herself along on the grass and interested in all the little bits of nature (grass, sticks etc) she could grab. All in all a lovely morning. I don't think a photo would have done justice to Asher's little face as he stared intently at Zara and everything she was doing - he was just fascinated but this one of Zara is really cute and will have to do. Perhaps we can all try to channel Asher by staring at it with a very concentrated, serious expression?

The photo was taken with the new camera - I got the Canon PowerShot A 720 IS in the end and I'm happy with it so far. I still have to work out how to use the software that is bundled with it because at the moment I can download photos and nothing else. In fact, Imight have a play around with it now while Sanjay and Asher are at the supermarket.....


The worst part of parenting?

Nope, although the sleep deprivation was bad when Asher was still a baby it wasn't the worst bit for us. The lack of spontaneity in our lives now doesn't bother me at all and although we rarely go out to nice restaurants not having the money or opportunity isn't a real problem for us. Before Asher arrived I thought the gross bits of parenting would be just awful but I now just laugh when I realise I'm wiping snot off a little nose with my own clothing and even today's cheerful game of peek-a-boo around the toilet door whilst stuck on the loo with diarrhoea wasn't that bad. For me, the worst bits of parenting are the relentlessness and the not knowing whether you are doing the right thing.

The relentlessness is realising that this demanding 24x7 job is never going to end. Even when you aren't 'on duty' you are on call in case of emergency and even when your kids are adults you will still worry about them. I'm getting more and more used to this part, but it really hits home occasionally. Especially when people tell me they are going to be off work for a month, holidaying on an island for a week and then driving down the coast for a few weeks, stopping where and when they feel like it (er, have a great honeymoon Niki and Ryan!)

The not knowing is different. At this stage I'm not sure I'm ever going to come to grips with it. Apart from the physical evidence of Asher growing, learning and obviously thriving there are times, many of them, when I'm just so conflicted about what I should be doing. I remember my own parents always seeming to know exactly what was and wasn't allowed (and why), what the right thing to do in any circumstance was and also why (when that reason was 'because I said so' I still believed them). I now realise that a lot of it was bluff - it must have been!

The part of our lives that I'm most unsure about centres around food and eating. Sanjay, not normally one for stern pronouncements, stated that our child would not be a fussy eater. He started saying this well before I got pregnant with Asher and continued to proclaim it until about the time Asher started wanting to make his own choices around food, sometime before he was a year old. It turns out we have somewhat of a fussy eater, even considering the normally capricious nature of toddlers. Now, the unsure-ness plays into all this when I try to work out what I *should* be doing about it. Will he get scurvy if he has absolutely no fruit or vegetables besides sultanas for a month? Is the protein in cheese, yoghurt, Weetbix, butter and bread enough? Will he turn into a spoilt brat if I keep offering him things each dinnertime until he deigns to eat something? Will the impulse to give him a good shake be too strong if he screams like I'm forcing him to eat dishwasher powder when I put some in front of him for dinner that was a favourite yesterday? Should I let him go to bed with no dinner if he doesn't eat the first two or three things I put in front of him? Even if we gave in and decided he could live happily on nothing but Weetbix for breakfast, vegemite sandwiches for lunch and brie for dinner would he survive? Why is something that he can't get enough of one day imperiously rejected with no hope of him even tasting it the next? It's driving me crazy and I don't really know what to do about it.

At the moment he does eat Weetbix with milk and yoghurt for breakfast. He nibbles on vegemite sandwiches, sultanas and sometimes some crackers or a biscuit from about 10am until midday. He might have a cracker when he wakes up from his sleep but then from 3pm until dinnertime I don't let him have anything so he has some chance of being hungry for dinner (between 5pm and 6pm). For dinner, which is the problem meal, I usually offer him leftovers from our meal the night before or something from the freezer that he has liked in the past. Occasionally I am able to get a few kernels of sweetcorn into him and he'll often eat something involving rice (a month ago it was risotto, now that is considered poison and he'll eat dhal and rice). He generally won't eat finger food for dinner (er, unless it's toast) and anything green, such as a speck of parsley, will be either spat out if it's not rejected outright. We can't eat with him (we don't want to and it doesn't fit in with Sanjay getting home from work) and I do everything I can think of to make meals pleasant and stress free. I suspect that he'll continue to be healthy (perhaps he extracts nutrients from the air?) but the real problem is that it's driving me absolutely batshit crazy. I'm going to get my ever-patient and enthusiastic mother to feed Asher when we head up to Crowdy Head for Christmas. Until then I'll just try to rustle up some inner reserves of peace and zen-like calm in the face of the dinner-time tantrums - and getting a gin and tonic for me will have to be just part of getting Asher's meal ready.


Hatch, Match and Dispatch

When my grandmother was alive she used to love reading the births, deaths and marriages section of the newspaper. She used to read out loud any notices that really caught her eye and used to call the section of the paper 'hatch, match and dispatch' which I thought was hilarious when I was a little girl. Someone speaking so irreverently of Such Important Things! Imagine! Anyhow, today I'm doing my own little notices section here.

The Birth: The most recent baby to arrive in my circle of friends is the long-awaited Otto. He was born on the 14th of November after what sounds to have been a really tough labour. I really wish his parents were still in Sydney rather than in Dunoon so I could smell him, but his daddy's blog is as close as I can get at the moment.

The Marriage: Yesterday, we went to what we thought was going to be a housewarming for our dear friends Niki and Ryan but it turned out to be a surprise wedding! It was one of the loveliest weddings I've been to - relatively small and, since it was disguised as a housewarming, it was in the garden of the couples lovely house. They just looked so happy! (for photos click on the Flickr link in the sidebar).

The Death: Well, it isn't much of a death really, but here at Palais du Chhabra we're really happy about the end of the Howard government. It's looking like The Greens didn't do quite as well as I'd hoped (a landslide victory in both upper and lower house) but given the situation in Australia at the moment the result is pretty much as good as can be expected. We now get the joy of watching the Liberal party implode in the vacuum left by John Howard. Check out the Political Compass if you're still feeling the post-election glow and don't know what else to do with yourself for five minutes.


A photo at last

The irony of finding my camera but not being able to find the battery charger is almost too much. The camera had a tiny bit of juice so we took it when we tried Asher in the apartment block's pool and spa. He preferred the spa because it was warmer, but I think he liked all of it.

I think I've decided to upgrade from our very old Canon PowerShot S45 though, since it really is about to fall apart (the screws that hold it together are slowly dropping out, among other problems). I want a point-and-shoot rather than an dSLR and the Canon PowerShot A720 IS looks like it'll do what we want it to do pretty well, without being too expensive (we love our mortgage, we really do).
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Three things:

I felt kind of ashamed of how bitter I felt earlier this week. We met up with one of the mothers from our original 'New Parents Group' Organised by the Early Childhood Health Centre. She has just had her second baby so she had one little girl who is 18 months old (in daycare when we met up) and one 10 day old baby girl. She was telling us how easy her second baby was, how the little girl just slept for three hours at a time and how easy it was for her to go to the gym because…. At that point there was the sound of our collective jaws dropping because not only was this woman out in public, wearing proper clothes and makeup, at ten days post-partum but, just like with her first baby, she had ALREADY BEEN BACK TO THE GYM (after a vaginal delivery). I think all of us felt a strange mixture of jealousy, bitterness and a strange smugness. I'm not sure where the smugness came from, perhaps we felt like she was missing some parenting rite of passage? Maybe it was like that wistful feeling you get when you feel that 'kids these days' have it so much easier with their mobile phones and internet and never having to walk to school in the snow, up hill, both ways…..

I also discovered something much nicer, yet possibly also more scary. Asher is a water baby! A few of us went to the beach on Friday afternoon and the kids were pottering about playing in the sand and we were sitting on our rug chatting and watching them. Asher and one of his best little mates started to head toward the water and as I was starting to get up to follow the other mum told me that her little boy always stopped at the very edge so I paused and watched as Asher, ignoring the other little guy who did stop kept walking into the warm calm water until a tiny wave and the uneven sand conspired to trip him and he landed on all fours. I was racing the few metres down the beach by this point to rescue my 'little darling' who was completely calm and desperate to get back in the water when I hauled him out (hey, I thought he was going to need me to comfort him). Anyhow, he spent the next hour naked just walking around in the shallows holding my hand, pointing to and exclaiming over the water, the sand, twigs and leaves, litter, our shadows, lumps and dips in the sand and our own toes, under water and half buried in sand. It was absolutely delightful and he sleep like a log afterwards, but his complete lack of fear means that I am going to have to be beyond hyper vigilant over summer when we are anywhere near water. I might try him out in our pool tomorrow (our block of apartments has a pool - photos later, when I have a camera).

In other news - our outdoor table was delivered today. Apart from our qualms about the likelihood of it being made of Indonesian rainforest, we really love it. It will easily seat eight, the chairs are pretty comfy and its raw teak and smells just wonderful. Thank goodness we can eat outside now (the old table was plastic, and it's legs were so dodgy it would wobble every time you tried to use cutlery. Happiness! (Except no photos because I still don't have a Camera. I want a point-and-shoot digital for less that AUD$700 which gives me really good image quality, minimal lag between pressing the shutter button and the picture being taken, the ability to use manual controls and a decent optical zoom - any ideas?)


Camera - still no pictures

Yay! I got my camera battery charger back! Boo! I can't find my camera in the midst of all the half unpacked boxes. I'm slightly nervous because I haven't seen it since we moved, but it must be around here somewhere. I'm going to look for it tonight because I want to take some pictures tomorrow - a few other mothers are coming around with their kids to watch the most overrated horse race of the year and I'd love to be able to take a snap or two.

BTW how long do I have to lose it for before I get to buy a new camera? What if I tell you it's on it's last legs - the sliding lens cover which turns the power on and off is really loose and feels like it's about to fall off and the camera is almost five years old....


We've Moved

Asher helps to pack
Originally uploaded by karmakeda
I've been waiting to post until I could include a pic or two of the new place but I left my camera battery charger at Sanjay's parents house on the day of the Mundan and my camera has no juice left, so I'll have to settle for a picture of the packing.

The move went as well as could be expected, considering we weren't really packed up properly. The movers came at 2pm on Friday and finished at 9pm and we did 8-10 car loads over the weekend. I had some wonderful friends looking after Asher on Friday afternoon and my mother was around for much of the afternoon ferrying people where they needed to be, keeping us fed and calm and helping out with Asher for the bedtime routine while Sanjay was back at the old place helping the removalists get the second load on the truck.

Asher was just amazing. I credit his general amazingness and also our repeated conversations about how 'mummy and daddy and Asher and all our things were all going together to the new house' but we also worked hard to keep the routine as normal as possible, just in a different location. Our little boy who has never slept at all well outside his own cot in his own room has had no sleep disturbance and he has not been any clingy-er or less cheerful than usual. Although the little guy doesn't say that much he certainly understands a lot!

I think perhaps I'm having the hardest time of any of us with the settling in. I have the shits that everything is everywhere, that I can't find things, that home smells so different, that the new dishwasher doesn't clean as well as the old one, that despite living almost on the ground floor I'm still struggling with the pram and the groceries when I get home, that I feel like I'm getting no help with getting unpacked and organised (Duh! Sanjay is at work during the day and can't help Keda!), that we've got so much to do to make the place ours and the list goes on. I realise that these are all pretty petty complaints but added together they seem almost overwhelming to me at the moment. I suspect I'm far more a creature of routine than I like to think I am. I'll update next week with how I'm feeling about it all once we've had a weekend together to get a bit more settled - I expect things will be a little more positive by then.


Not a baby anymore

On Sunday when he had his Mundan saṃskāra Asher officially left behind his baby self. The wonderful Rami (The same pundit who officiated our wedding. He has his own website if you want to know more) explained to us that this was the beginning of his spiritual life and the official end of babyhood. It was a lovely ceremony, Asher was amazingly calm and good (which I attribute to Pundit-ji's chanting) and afterwards we ate great food from Billu's catering and chatted while kids ran around and pestered their parents to be allowed in the pool. I think that as far as these big Indian parties go it was fun, and everyone seemed to be having a reasonably good time. There will be photos up on Flickr in a day or two.

The actual hair removal happened after the ceremony - Tim used Elia's clippers to give Asher a 'Number 1' but the lack of sleep, heat and scary buzzing was a bit to much for Asher by that point so the haircut's a bit patchy. I'm going to drop into my hairdresser this afternoon and see if we can't smooth it out a bit - we don't want the little guy looking like he has mange! He does look quite different now though - less like a little Martin child, like me at the same age, and more like a Chhabra. His head is larger than I thought it was and his jaw is somehow fuller. At first he felt a bit like a stranger and I think it's going to take me a few more days to get used to.

* * * * *

Tomorrow we get the keys to our new house. I would say that posting here is going to be patchy until we settle in but it's already so patchy that I can't see anyone even noticing. I'll let you know what I think of the new place once we've moved.


The kindness of strangers

Today is Blog Action Day and unfortunately I don't have the energy to get serious writing about an environmental issue. When I've got so much else on my mind (Asher's Mundan, parental birthdays, moving house, not to mention the election) I don't have anything left over for the bigger issues (but please, reduce, reuse and recycle while thinking globally and acting locally) so I want to take this chance to thank some people that I've been meaning to thank for ages now.

'Trail angels' are those who help people when they are walking a trail. This help is unexpected but greatly needed and I believe the consensus is that 'you know one when you meet one'. I heard the term first referring to the Papua New Guinean 'Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels' who helped Australian soldiers on the Kakoda Trail during WWII but I have since learned that long distance hikers often refer to unexpected helpers as trail angels (Google yields results). Since I've been travelling on public transport with Asher I've met my fair share of Public Transport Angels.

Today was a perfect example - on my way into the city to meet Bindy for coffee with a fairly grouchy and recalcitrant child a guy helped me lift the stroller onto the bus. It took him a few seconds and not so much physical effort but it saved me getting Asher out of the stroller and convincing him to stand and hold onto me while I packed up and then carried toddler, bag and stroller onto the bus. Help on and off the bus is great, and I don't think people realise how grateful I am when it happens but I've also had people entertain Asher when he and I are both tired and over it, a friendly but scary looking guy with tattoos help me carry the pram down flights of steps when the lifts were out of order at Central Station and on one notable occasion I've two very kind Islander women help me get Asher in the sling when he was very sick and I was debating getting off the bus as we passed Royal North Shore Hospital (they did fret about him being cold and tried to get me to put more clothes on him).

So next time you see someone struggling with a pram or hear a child complaining loudly on public transport instead of silently hoping that they will get out of your way and keep quiet please, if you can, offer your commiserations and ask the parent or carer what you can do to help - you may just make someone's day.


Blog Anniversary!

Well, the anniversary itself was actually a few days ago, and considering my tardiness generally with this blog, I think that five days late is perfectly acceptable as 'on-time'.

I was lying on the couch a few minutes ago (feeling terrible - I'm coming down with something that feels like the Black Death. I hope Asher doesn't get it from me), and wanting to get up and blog but only having an amorphous swirl of ideas of exactly what I wanted to write about, when I started wondering why I bothered writing here at all. Now, although that sounds like a terribly melodramatic and depressive thing to think it actually wasn't, because I recognise that I get something out of blogging but I'm really not sure what. Anyhow, I thought drag myself from the couch to the computer and check when the anniversary of the blog was so that I could craft an excellent 'what I've learned from blogging' type post, but since I'm already late I'll just cobble something together as usual, and probably go to sleep tonight thinking of ways it could have been a better post.

I guess the first and most wanky benefit of the whole blogging thing for me is that I'm slowly, slowly, finding a voice. Since high school some time I've believed I'm a poor writer and although that hasn't gone away I feel a little more confident about getting my ideas across. I wouldn't have been able to start writing if I didn't have Asher to write about - I didn't start this to muse and ponder, just to record the little guy's developmental milestones and perhaps my state of mind, in lieu of a baby book. A budding confidence in writing is a happy side effect.

Ironically, I also have told barely anyone about the blog. In a burst of enthusiasm I told a few 'internet friends' (and IRL friends who I see more of inside the computer than out these days) and Emma and Brendan, because they were away for an extended period of time and writing their own blog, so I thought I could keep in touch and still maintain my record as worst long-distance friend (which reminds me, I should 'fess up to the Irish Cousin about the blog!) but I haven't told my family or anyone else and I avoid mentioning it in front of people (er, not that there's much to mention!). So for all intents and purposes I have no readers, and I can't work out whether this helps me to feel more freedom when I write, or whether it is the overwhelming contributor to my extreme slackness in posting. Perhaps I should open up a bit now? Perhaps I'm concerned that my lackadaisical attitude to posting will irritate or disappoint? Why should I care?

On a completely different note I've also discovered that having a separate blog for dealing with food, wine and cooking is absolutely pointless, so any further discussion on such matters will be posted here. I'll also try and post Asher development updates more regularly - all about Asher's growing vocabulary coming soon!

Sanjay is in the kitchen. He's bathed Asher, read bedtime stories, and put him to bed and has just cooked me dinner - I'll sign off for now, with a small self-congratulatory grin. I'll eat my dinner, watch some TV and worry about how I'm going to look after Asher tomorrow if my headache, aching muscles and oversensitive skin turn into the flu they are threatening.


Bad to the bone!

Bad to the bone!
Originally uploaded by karmakeda
My child is just like a two foot high redneck travelling somewhere exotic. He complains about the food, he whinges at his tour guide and when I don't understand him he just says the same thing, but louder and louder until, in a burst of parental telepathy I work out what he wants or he dissolves into another tantrum.

At least he's cute. Really really cute.


In the interests of not letting this blog die of neglect...

...I'm just going to mention how much I hate school holidays! I always thought that school holidays only affected parents of school aged children (except for the decrease in traffic and lack of obnoxious high schoolers on public transport int he afternoons) but the affects seem to be much more far reaching than that. Most of the playgroups seem to shut down during school holidays, so the normal pattern of our week is interrupted. The zoo, the indoor playcentres and other fun places to take little kids are really busy and unpleasant because Asher and his little friends practically get trampled by the 'big kids' who are on holidays from their preschools and kindergartens.

We still go to the park or for a coffee in the early mornings (we often leave home at the same time as Sanjay to minimise the opportunity for tantrums) and we still meet up with the baby club gang on Thursdays but we miss our favourite Tuesday afternoon TAFE playgroup.

At least this holiday is only two weeks, and hopefully Clare will come and hang out with us a bit while she doesn't have classes. I wonder what other parents of toddlers think of school holidays? What are the favourite distractions for really little kids that don't involve extra crowds?


Long time no post!

Well, here we are again, with me wishing that I'd been posting updates regularly, because Asher is growing and changing so fast that I can hardly keep up with the things he can do today that he couldn't do yesterday. He's walking relatively confidently now and yesterday we went and purchased his first pair of 'big boy' shoes. What I mean by that is shoes that are actually designed for someone bipedal, that might protect from a sharp stick or a small piece of broken glass. This whole footwear issue is going to just get more and more expensive I suspect - we got sandals for him for half price and they were still $30 and not particularly fancy.

Enough about the shoes Keda!!! The huge leap we have had in the last few weeks is actually with language. It's interesting that the walking and the language are happening at the same time and I suspect it's one of those development things, and not co-incidental. When we are out and about now Asher will spot a bird, either flying or perched on something, point to it and say "bird!" and while his pronunciation is frankly hilarious he's very proud of being able to name something. He plane-spots too, but when he sees an aeroplane he just says "there!" (more like "dare" really) to let me know that he's seen something, but he knows it's not a bird. I wish I had the energy to teach him a few more signs at the moment because I think he'd be really receptive to them, and very happy about being able to communicate more clearly. I want to do a post concentrating on his language development soon, but I'm not too confident that I'll get around to it.

The other very major thing that's happened over the last week is that he's now completely weaned - no more breastfeeding. The last breastfeed was over a week ago and it's been really easy. He was only having one feed a day, just before his nap, and it seems that he doesn't need a milk feed to get in the right frame of mind for sleep. I put the wonderful Milk Bar pillow away in the cupboard so Asher didn't get have a reminder or an easy way to tell me he wanted a breastfeed and the whole process has been really easy. We've also completed the transition to one sleep per day and, surprisingly, Asher has decided that the car seat and his pram are now acceptable places to fall asleep - and he's OK to be transferred into bed! The child never fails to surprise me!

It's now 8:30pm and I haven't had dinner. I'm so hungry I can't think straight so I'll post this now and try to be better about posting more frequently in future!


My life's work

For my school's 50 year anniversary I was asked, along with everyone else who ever went to the school, to put together a little blurb about what we "do in the world" now and what we got from the school along with a picture from then and one from now. As I was writing I was overcome with the depressing feeling that what I'm doing looks insignificant and incredibly boring. Despite paying lip service to rights of women to choose whether they worked outside or inside the home, I remember feeling scathing about women who gave up work when they had their kids. I felt like they were taking the easy way and although the work of bringing up children was important it also rotted ones brain and made one insular and concerned only with ones immediate environment. I think I have internalised my anti-full-time-mother stance - as I was writing I kept wanting to defend and justify by talking up the work that I used to do before I became a mother. I wanted to let people know that I used to be well paid and well thought of in the work that I did. This is not the first time I've felt negatively judged or wanted to let people know that I wasn't always 'just a mum' but this is the first time that my internalised mum-a-phobia has been this clear to myself.

I'm not sure where I want to go with this, but I suspect it's time for me to re-read Alison Osbourne's book 'The Post-Baby Conversation' to try and sort through a few things. I wonder what else is on the reading list for the course on cutting oneself a bit of slack?


Toddlerdom development update

Asher is learning and growing every day, and it still amazes me. His walking, in the space of a week, has gone from a few tentative steps most days to suddenly wanting to walk everywhere. Almost whenever he wants to go somewhere no he takes off walking and then after 1 or 5 steps he either reaches his goal or falls to the floor and crawls. My friend K said her daughter A used to do the opposite - stand looking at her objective and calculating whether it would be easier and faster to walk or crawl.

His language development has also come along in the last two weeks. He understands quite a lot of what we say. He finds my nose when requested, can generally point to his ball or his truck (and in fact the other day at the park I wanted to pack up and started muttering "where's your green ball Asher" and he pointed it out to me). He has a sign for "more" which he uses whenever he's hungry (he thinks it means "Food! Now!") and requests various songs by using their actions. He's also just taken to using the imperial point and saying "dat!" and I try to name the things he points at for him. I think he's really thrilled about being able to communicate with us.

He's also obsessed by technology - particularly the phone (which he calls 'Gah!' - I thinks it's from me walking into the room saying "Gah! He's got my phone again"). He holds the phone up to his ear and makes a word that liberally interpreted could be understood as hello. He will also feel around on the table above his head to find the computer mouse and the other day he pushed his little chair over to the table to get at both my phone and the mouse. It was so cute I had to photograph it:

Now he's awake, so I have to turn the moniter off before Sanjay gets him out of bed (he's pretty much transitioned to one sleep per day) but despite how relentless his little demands are, I just love him!


Welcome toddlerdom

Well, the little dude has just started walking. He took his first few steps on Thursday afternoon and then walked several times on the weekend, including once in front of several people, so I know I'm not imagining it. It's very cute, and timely, at 13-and-a-half months although he still crawls faster than almost* any of the other babies can walk.

Apart from that news it's pretty quiet around here, but in that quiet-before-the-storm kind of way. We'll be moving late September which will be the biggest upheaval since Asher arrived in our lives and I'm not looking forward to it. We packed a few boxes of rarely-used kitchen stuff on the weekend just to test the waters and now I'm dreading it more than ever. But once it's all over it will be nice to have a bit more space. Has anyone got any tips for moving house with kids?

* Baby Miles is lovely, and walked at 7.5 months, so has been running quite confidently for quite a while now.


No content was harmed in the making of this post.

We've had stomach bugs and several blackouts here over the last few days, so no posting (and even without those things Asher practices his burgeoning tantrum skills if I dare sit at the computer these days) so this is a content-free post. Instead of actually saying anything I'm going to suggest you check out the pics of Asher on Flickr and then head over to the OMSI playground (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry) and make some flubber to play with as a much more tactile way to waste time than reading blogs (This link brought to you by Lifehacker).


We're moving!

I haven't said much about this for fear of jinxing things, but finally the other party signed and contracts were exchanged on our new home today. We got the call at about 5pm that it had finally happened after we signed exactly two weeks ago. I won't say much about the place until we can get in and take photos except for the fact that it's a 3 bedroom unit in Cammeray. It's a bit dark inside, but has a really great south-east facing terrace and I'm really looking forward to having a larger living area and an extra bedroom (CLA! can come and stay). The complex has a pool too, which should be great over summer. Anyhow, we had pre-emptive champagne when we signed and now we just have to start planning to move when we settle in 10 weeks.

Clare is back!

The lovely Clare (or "CLA!" to Asher) is back, and while I realise I haven't mentioned here that she was going having her back is so exciting I need to post! Asher grinned and flailed his arms and legs about when he saw her, so he was obviously happy to see her too. She got back from the Students of Sustainability conference in Perth in the early hours of yesterday morning. Because I locked myself out of the house (again) she came over with spare keys to let me in and she is bubbling over with enthusiasm and ideas. This was her first big trip away without family - a group of Sydney students drove a bus over to Perth for the conference and camped the whole time, not bathing for the entire trip. Clare says they are all really great people and really inclusive, but I think the need for complete consensus for all decisions would get to me before we even got half-way across the Nullabor.

She was at a protest that got pretty full-on, with cops in riot gear using their truncheons and capsicum spray and arresting some of her chilled out hippy mates. She was careful enough not to get arrested, but hearing her stories brought back memories of when I used to do stuff like that. Her current obsessions are with the mining on indigenous land and sexual violence - I think. I'm really glad she's back safely and is going to come with us when we go to Canberra in early August (and I can't wait for the photos! She promised to put some up on Flickr).

In other news, Asher is now completely over his mystery illness and once more our happy boy and he cut his seventh tooth yesterday. He is still being fussy about food though - am I a bad mother for feeding him a slightly stale prawn cracker and half a banana for dinner? He wouldn't eat any of the vegetable pasta I prepared (or the other half of the banana)....


Congratulations Bruce and Fiona Trickett!

The lovely Fiona married my dear friend Bruce on Friday. It was a lovely wedding, the bride looked stunning, the church was beautiful, the religious guy up front said really nice relevant things and then the reception at very special Trickett's guesthouse (where we spent our wedding night - a gift from Bruce!) was great fun with lots of dancing, lots of food and because it was not a sit-down event, lots of chance to chat to everyone.

Our gift to the new couple was to make wedding cupcakes for them. I discussed colours etc with Fiona beforehand but she basically let me have my head and do what I pleased. I'm sure there are 'proper' photographer-taken pics of their wedding cake, but just to introduce recipes and food chit-chat to this blog I thought I would post briefly about the process of making their wedding cupcakes here.

First we made the decorations (seeing as they last just fine). I coloured and rolled out prepackaged 'plastic' icing and used little letter cutters to cut out enough 'B's, 'F's for all 150 cupcakes and a few love hearts.

The next night we made 75 'Red Velvet' cupcakes using the family recipe of an American friend of mine (Thanks Kay!!!). The night after that (the night before the wedding) we made 75 regular cupcakes and one extra big cupcake (using a special waxed paper cake 'tin' from a specialty catering shop) to be the cake that gets romantically cut after the speeches.

On the morning of the wedding I made butter icing and iced all the cupcakes and topped them with a cute little 'F' or 'B' but by this time we were, unsurprisingly, running out of time (having told the bride that I would get the cupcakes there by 11:30 or so).

Fortunately Fran and Jim came to the rescue and picked up the cake boxes that I'd been unable to get in the few days beforehand because all my day time was taken up with a sick clingy baby. The cupcakes were delivered to the venue just after midday and they looked pretty good. They were by no means professional (although when we delivered them someone asked me if this is what I do for a living - very complimentary!) but the good thing about cupcakes is that they always look better in a big group* as small imperfections in icing or little bits of cake cooked on to the colourful papers seem to vanish with the overwhelming number of cute little cakes.

Here they are all pretty and set up at the venue. The other hundred or so are in big shiny white cake boxes somewhere cool and out of the way. Despite the bride asking for no love hearts I think they look appropriate and not too lovey-dovey. Next time I think doing something like this is a good idea can someone either beat me over the head with a mixing bowl until I change my mind. In fact, it wasn't too bad, and would have been fun and less stressful if Clare hadn't decided she needed to go to a conference (and therefore couldn't babysit and help out with Asher the few days beforehand) and if Asher hadn't been unwell and clingy for the whole week. Big thanks to Marg for looking after a grouchy baby the night of the wedding and to Sanjay for helping tirelessly with everything, despite not having any say in whether or not we took on this project.


New tricks!

Originally uploaded by karmakeda
We have a perfect prompter for a general baby development update - today Asher took his first unaided step! But since he let go of my hands, stepped forward and immediately fell flat on his face I'm pretty sure this isn't the start of walking. Actually, he isn't showing that much interest in walking generally, although he likes pottering around the room kicking his balloon while keeping my fingers gripped tightly in each of his little fists.

His communication has come along in leaps and bounds recently - as well as waving goodbye when he wants to leave, or when he wants someone else to leave, he now hisses when he wants more of something (particularly food) and has a funny open-closed hand gesture to indicate when he's finished eating something. He did it the other day when he'd finished breastfeeding on one side and wanted the other one, which was really weird, although I can't pin down exactly why. He's making some new sounds ('la') and putting together proto-words a bit more and I also think that sometimes he says 'ta' when I hand something to him, but I'm not completely certain. Some of my family hate the 'ta' thing, far preferring a proper 'thank you' but with little kids I really don't care and having him say anything that is his version of thanking someone is just fine with me.

He still loves his bath, and when he's ready to get out he starts stacking up his bath toys on the side of the bath. Sanjay, who still does 99% of bath duty tells me he can only get the plug out when the bath is part empty, but he can put it in. After his bath Sanj puts his PJs on and there is a little more play before he gets put in his sleeping bag, has a breastfeed, a story book and then gets put to bed. He generally goes to bed without complaint now, and although we sometimes hear him singing to himself for a little while, he generally drifts off by himself and doesn't wake until a relatively civilized 7am-ish unless he's sick, cold or otherwise upset. Last week he slept til 7:30 and Sanj was late for work. Of course, it doesn't always work like that -on Sunday morning woke at around 4am and needed to be cuddled on the lounge for hours. Why did it have to be the morning after Sanj had been to a bucks night and I had been solving the worlds problems with my dad and several bottles of wine?

His day sleeps are all over the place. He seemed to be transitioning to one sleep a day, but has had two sleeps for the last few days. Perhaps the one sleep a day thing was just a hiccough or perhaps he needs a little extra sleep this week because he has a bit of a cold still/again. It seems that all the little ones I know have colds at the moment so I've resigned myself completely to wiping runny noses and dealing with a slightly 'off colour' child until the weather changes.

There probably won't be another update this week - I will be baking wedding cupcakes for the lovely Bruce and Fiona who are getting married this Friday. Wish me luck, because I'm definitely going to need it!


Quick update

So, I didn't realise how addicted to our routine I was until Asher decided to change it! He's starting to not want two sleeps a day, and considering how poor I am at recognising his tired signs this makes it really hard for me to do anything without have a kid is is tired and grouchy. I'll use this as my excuse for recent lack of blog posting.

And so, as you can tell from the pic (or possibly your calendar!) it was Asher's first birthday last week. I meant to write a dooce-like letter to him here, but I feel so strapped for time at the moment. If he's awake I can't easily use the computer (or the phone for that matter) because he wants part of the action. Speaking of, there is a vacuum cleaner just started up outside in the stairwell and it seems to have woken the little guy up, so I'll go and get him and then we'll be off and out of the house. I'll try to post soon about all his new and cool tricks!


"Please Mumma...."

For a week or two now Asher has been letting me know when he wants me to sing to him as he has his breastfeed before bed. We have always sung or hummed the same song* to him as we put him to sleep, in the hope that it be a sleep trigger for him. This started in response to the concern that a feed would be the only way to put him to sleep, and therefore I would be the only one able to put him to bed (so far we haven't pushed our luck and I'm almost always the one to put him to sleep). I normally read while I breastfeed and now when he wants his song he pulls off the breast, looks me in the eye and starts 'singing' very softly to me. It didn't take too long for me to work out what this meant and so now I often don't start humming to him until he asks me to.

This evening he was unusually tired, having missed his afternoon sleep, so I was already humming to him as he sucked when he suddenly pulled off the breast and started to tap my chest firmly with his hand saying "Ga! Ga! Ga!" to me. After a few moments of this I thought that maybe he was trying to ask me to be quiet, so I stopped singing and he immediately went back to his business with my bosom. I thought that perhaps his dislike of my singing was a sign of sudden maturity until about a minute later he very sweetly requested that I start humming again.

It turns out he is still little enough to enjoy my voice, but he is much better at communicating. - I know adults who couldn't make their wishes known as clearly and politely as Asher did tonight.

* It's embarresing! For some reason we started with Amazing Grace and it stuck.



This pic is taken by a proud parent to show of Asher's eating-with-a-spoon ability. Unfortunately he's much more interested in the camera than he is in his breakfast. Eating with a spoon is not the only developmental leap we have had, although he's still not walking on his own, just happily cruising and crawling very fast.

There has also been a language explosion, suddenly Asher seem to be able to understand so much more. He has understood a connection between 'bye-bye' and waving for several months but now he starts waving when he wants to leave, or when he wants someone else to leave (sorry dad! He hadn't seen you for a while!). He has also been using 'mumma' and 'dadda' more-or-less correctly for a few weeks now (I appear from the bedroom and it's 'mumumum' or he peers under the kitchen door saying 'daaadaaaaaa' hoping that Sanjay will open it for him) but suddenly he seems to understand so much more. Over the weekend Sanjay asked if he had finished his apple the other day and Asher handed Sanjay the piece of apple that he was holding. Later on I asked Asher to put his green ball in the basket and he did it. Now that we have examples of Asher understanding language we are having to be a whole lot more careful about what we say around him. We'd both like to make sure we keep the bickering to a minimum and definitaly keep name-calling and swear words out of it.

I guess all this new language is perfectly developmentally appropriate now that we are getting so clsoe to his first birthday. Two weeks yesterday til he turns one! I'll think about it a bit more and try to reflect a bit on how this first year has been.

In terms of less pleasant explosions, and I'll spare you the details, Asher got his first gastro bug - it wasn't particulalry bad, but I'm amazed by the amount of laundry I had to do for a few days. It's taken him a week or two to start eating normal foods again, which I guess isn't surprising because he threw up everything he ate for a few days. I was so glad I am still breastfeeding him though, it is a nice source of comfort and I didn't need to worry so much about him not eating food since he was still getting breastmilk.

He is going to wake up soon, so I had better race around and get ready to get out the door while the sun is still out so he can have a crawl around on the grass before lunch.


Asher got his first proper injury yesterday! He slipped in the bath (I *knew* there was a reason we try to keep him seated in the bath) and got a rather large bump on his forehead. I was in the shower at the time, getting ready to go out for a drink with some of the Baby Club mothers and when I peered out to see if everything was ok I saw Asher in Sanjay's arms with a giant red bump growing on his head. Sanjay and I freaked out slightly, wondering if we had let our child get a head injury but after a bit of fretting, plenty of Rescue Remedy for all of us and the reassurance of mum who dropped in on her way home from work Asher was declared fine and I still got to go out.

But that slightly scary milestone isn't what today's post is actually about. What I wanted to post about was the sudden realisation I've had over why parents get so anxious about what, and how much, their babies eat.

I always secretly thought that parents who worry about that kind of thing, when their babies or toddlers are obviously thriving, were being a bit ridiculous. I've always believed that as long as parents provide a variety of nutritious food kids will eat when they are hungry, and if they aren't eating they are obviously not that hungry. But now, on days like yesterday, when Asher only picks at his dinner and eats nothing but air for lunch two days running, I get all nervous that he's not eating enough. This morning I spent his nap time preparing food that I thought would be particularly appealing and when lunchtime came (we were at the park with a friend) he wolfed down almost everything I offered and then proceeded to follow his little friend M around, taking his bread and picking up dropped banana and corn cakes.

So next time he throws all his usual favourite foods on the ground in disgust and complains loudly about being confined to his highchair I need to remember that he knows best in these situations. Next time someone tells me that they think he's "skinny" and "doesn't eat much" I have to not only tell them that he eats when he's hungry, but tell myself the same thing, over and over until I believe it.



It hasn't been particularly busy or strangely quiet around here (the two most common excuses for not posting) but I seem to have a chest infection and haven't been in the zone to write, which is a shame, because for the first time in ages I actually have something to write about that isn't really related to Asher.

I keep trying to write a nice linear story of what happened, but it's not working, so I'll start from the end. I finally got back into the house, from where I was stuck on the verandah, by asking a bloke who was doing some work in the garden to buzz my neighbour and then come up, into my home and remove the 'locking stick' that had locked me out and all it cost my was a cup of coffee and some chocolate biscuits. The gardener thought, for a split second, when he walked in and saw the door open a little, that something really weird was going on, but then I pointed to the stick and he worked it out. It wasn't a crazy lady trying to lure him into her home for nefarious purposes, it was a silly bird who had managed to close the sliding door behind her with the locking stick propped up so that the door was 'self-locking' when it closed.

Asher slep through the whole ordeal but woke up shortly afterwards and I didn't need to try breaking the laundry window, spidermaning* to my kitchen window or attempt climbing down from my second story verandah. Happy ending.

* is that the correct form of the verb 'to spiderman'???


Not just Nappy vs. Diaper?

When Asher was born I was in two minds about the whole cloth vs. disposable nappy thing. We decided to try not to get too caught up about it and to see how we went, but the idea was to use mostly cloth, particularly when we were at home and use disposables overnight and when we went out for convenience sake (getting out and about was of primary importance to help minimise the chances of post-partum depression so anything that made that easier was not really negotiable).

I believe that cloth is better environmentally particularly as I didn't use the tumble dryer or chlorine bleaches and only washed with a full load, despite the environmental problems with cotton growing. I loved the cute 'modern cloth' nappies and found that although I needed to change him a little more often they contained those early breastfed baby pooplosions better than the Huggies. I loved that many of the nappies we were using were made with love and care by other mums and felt really good about supporting those small businesses rather than a huge multinational like Kimberly-Clark, and it was probably cheaper for us as well (but I haven't done the maths). When Asher was a tiny baby washing and drying nappies was no hassle - his favourite place to be was on his change mat in his room and at that stage fitted the fold out washing line perfectly. I would pop him on his change mat or in his cot and sing to him as I hung out washing and it would dry quite quickly in the afternoon sun that fills his room, particularly in winter. At that stage it was less hassle than the very regular visits downstairs to the bin would have been.

Have you noticed me using past tense? Well, that's because we aren't using the cloth nappies any more. There are a lot of small reasons really, that are mostly due to Asher's stage of development and the way things have changed in our household. We needed the clothes line real estate in Asher's room for a chest of drawers and the weather warmed up, so we put the washing line outside, and at the same time Asher got more mobile and didn't want to lie on his change mat gazing at his mobile. Now I have to quickly get the washing out while he's having his morning sleep (and I still do a load of washing almost every day). The other difficulty is that we are out and about a lot now and for convenience sake we don't use cloth when we are out so getting a full load of nappies takes a while, by which time the smell from the nappy bucket is gag-o-riffic. I would also need to buy some more cloth nappies to make a full load, now that he's grown out of some of them. I fully realise that this is all a choice thing, and it wouldn't be too much more hassle but I think the payoffs are worth the environmental vandal tag and guilt for us at the moment. He's also SO wriggly that getting a dispo on him is challenging sometimes!

I would wholeheartedly recommend trying cloth to anyone who is even vaguely contemplating it. I would also add that motherly mental health is more important than what type of nappy one uses and that sometimes there are more important things to spend one's energy on. If there is ever another baby in our lives we will be giving cloth another go, at least up until 6-8 months when solid food starts and there are fewer, but stinkier, nappies to deal with. I'm also happy to talk about which of the many types of cloth nappies were best for us at the different stages, but I think that's a bit boring for anyone who isn't thinking of using cloth themselves, so I'll leave it for now.


Flowery goodness!

When Sanjay left for work this morning in his usual rush I was outside on the balcony comforting Asher who was crying because daddy had left (little traitor!). Sanjay came up the path to say something to me( which I didn't hear), and as I looked away for a moment to attend to Asher the buzzer for the building buzzed. I was about to ask Sanjay what the hell he wanted (What now?!?) but instead I just let him in. When there was a knock at the door 30 seconds later I assumed it was Sanjay and I opened it ready to give him a bit of grief for coming back up so that Asher would start crying all over again, but it wasn't Sanjay at the door, it was a guy with a huge bunch of gerberas! Our American houseguest L had sent them to us as a thank-you! They are just lovely and really brightening up the living room!

I also wanted to mention is Asher's new tricks but without a segue because I can't think of any way to get from flowers to baby milestones that isn't terribly laboured. At just over 10 months he has started cruising properly today, although he's been 'walking' with our help or using the walker toy for a while I haven't seen him use furniture to cruise with until today. He's also standing without holding on occasionally, and when he does it Sanjay encourages him to put his hands in the air, which is incredibly cute. He's also (finally) started clapping after my teach-the-baby-to-clap campaign of the last week or two. At this stage it's still pretty quiet but he's definitely clapping (he has even being saying 'ca' when he does it, which I think means 'clap'). All very cute!


In praise of pumpkin

When Asher had his cold he got fussy about what he ate for the first time. He just seemed to want simple flavours and smooth textures but because it was a 'first' it was a disconcerting experience for Sanj and I. I just kept repeating to myself like a mantra that as long as he was still breastfeeding a week or two of not eating 'well' is fine. Anyhow, the foods that he would still eat happily were all orange - carrot, pumpkin and sweet potato. I suppose it's because they get a nice smooth consistency after a quick go in the Bamix's food processor attachment and they are quite sweet (they are also cheap, easy to cook and freeze well - what's not to love???).

Whatever he's been eating, it's been doing the job though - I weighed him the other day at 10 months and he is around 8.75kg which is up from around 8.5kg at 9 months. He is also cruising (walking holding onto things) and standing by himself for up to about 20 seconds ('Look mum, no hands'). He's also sleeping really well at the moment, rarely waking up at might unless there is some change of routine.

All this adds up to a very boring blog post, but it's a case of no news being good news and all being rather peaceful in our household at the moment. I haven't forgotten my promise to describe our current daily and weekly routine though. After visiting little baby Zara on the weekend I was trying to remember a few things from when Asher was only a month old and failing miserably and I know I'll forget what's happening now if I don't write it down.


Toy Science?

Like most other kids, I guess, Asher is so curious about the world around him. He's fascinated by things that fit in other things (his stacking cups, shape sorter and a shoebox that we have put a bunch of his toys in) and the sounds things make as he whacks two objects together. I love to watch him play, and I love it when he gets engrossed in something enough to play by himself for a bit. Watching him playing and learning brings on pangs of insecurity - am I providing a stimulating enough invironment for my little one?

So when I read the websites and packaging from various toy manufacturers I get the idea that there must be armies of toy scientists employed by these companies. Anything with lights obviously 'stimulate baby’s visual sense' while other objects 'develop finger and hand dexterity'. Cuddly toys with faces apparently 'enhance baby’s sense of security, inviting baby to hug & express friendship'. Which makes me think that the toy researchers, wearing white lab coats and clutching clipboards probably assess the infants and toddlers through one way mirrors, noting down the way that they play with toys and the way they respond to stimuli. I'm sure these scientists and behaviourlists then conduct longitudinal studies that look at how well children do at school based on the toys play with.

But I know that my imaginings bear as much resemblance to reality as the Ponds Institute does to a centre for higher learning. It's not like that at all, and these companies are just trying to play on our insecurities as parents to get us to buy their products, not that all toys are bad, but there isn't that much thought going in to their design by the big toy manufacturers. Even Asher's favourite toys could do with simple improvements. For instance the cube in the shape sorter looks like a cube but isn't and therefore only fits in to the square hole a certain way. I still wish I could find stacking cups like the bakelite ones that were once at my grandparents house. 'Only' two or three colours but as well as all stacking together the ones that were the same colour would stack properly and of course they could be nested or stacked facing 'up' with the smallest down the bottom like other stacking/nesting cups I've seen. If I was designing them now there would be ten cups and each would have perhaps a painted number and raised dots to indicate which in the series it was.


Equilibrium - the Mama and Dada update

I was thinking about a blog post last night as I was drifting off to sleep, and I remember feeling like I had what I wanted to write pretty well worked out. This morning all I remember about it is trying to explain that I feel like I've finally found some sort of equilibrium in my life. Before Asher was born I spent a few years where I was always either trying to get pregnant, being pregnant or miscarrying. Then came Asher and he, of course, turned our lives upside down. I consider myself more prepared than some, having lived with tiny babies before, but Sanjay and I still had to really re-negotiate our relationship as well as our day-to-day lives. All this didn't surprise me, but that doesn't mean it wasn't difficult. I spent a while feeling bitter and misunderstood because there was no way that Sanjay could understand the relentlessness of hanging out with a little baby every hour of every day. Sanjay was in shock with the changes to our lives and suddenly feeling the pressure of being 'provider' while in a job that he's not really that enthusiastic about. Sometime in the last month or two it's changed for us though. I'm pretty comfortable with the fact he won't understand it from a first-person perspective, I'm overjoyed that he is as involved as he is* and I'm getting the occasional day where I have some hours to myself, which makes me so happy to see both Asher and Sanjay. Sanj is feeling more confident as a parent as he spends time alone with Asher, and realises that he can comfort and soothe the baby as well as I can (er, except for not being able to breastfeed), and he's starting to look for ways to improve his work life by putting his hand up for new opportunities. This new-found peace hasn't really happened easily or naturally (for me - I'm sure Sanjay would beg to differ) and, although we still bicker like children and I'm well aware that it could change at any moment, for now I'm enjoying the peace.

* I need to remind myself to do a post about our routine soon! I'll forget this time if I don't write it down!


Belated Nine Month Update

Asher is asleep, so I thought I would just give a super-quick update. At his 9 month appointment he weighed 8.5kg which is around the 25 percentile. This is around where he's been tracking so the ECH nurse was able to dismiss the very slight worry that he's not putting on enough weight. The only 9 month milestone he didn't show her was the pincer grip and although he doesn't do that one very often he does do it. She said it was relatively common in really active kids, because they don't get as much practise as they are too busy crawling around getting into things and suggested I let him indulge in the very messy act of 'self feeding' to let him practice. So yesterday I sat him in his highchair in the kitchen and put a few blobs of silken tofu on his tray. He had a great time smooshing it around and even managed to get quite a lot of it in his mouth. I like the tofu - it's squooshy enough not to really be a choking hazard and yet it kind of crumbles rather than smears, so clean up is comparitively easy. the fact that it's probably pretty healthy for him is a small added benefit compared with keeping him safe and occupied for 15 minutes. It was a good thing to keep him safe and occupied yesterday - I have a pretty awful cold and was keeping him entertained quite a struggle.

Ok, I can hear him trying to put the side of his cot down again (Apparently it's 'impossible' for babies to put the side down from inside the cot. Thank you Boori!) so I had better go and attent to him.


Happy Long Weekend!

I think I'm one of the least religious people I know, I'm deeply agnostic, but I love a long weekend as much as the next person. It's great to have Sanjay around for a few days for baby-wrangling and today it's meant that I got all inspired and seasonal and made hot cross buns from scratch. He's now taken Asher out for a bit so I have a chance to have a quiet cup of coffee, try one of the Easter buns and catch up with emails (and yes, blog)

I used this recipe from the SMH's Good Living and I'm pretty happy with it. It is the first time I've made them so I don't have another recipe to compare them to. I didn't have currants but I had mixed fruit which I picked the cherries out of so it's currants, sultanas and peel rather than just currants and peel. Basically they are very slightly light and yeasty for my taste, so if I was making this recipe again I would use a bigger pinch of salt (which might necesitate longer rising times as the salt inhibits the yeasts growth), maybe more fruit and I might be a little more generous with the spices. For the sake of full disclosure I should also mention that I didn't have lemon essence or powdered gelatine so I used lemon infused caster sugar (!) and two thirds of a sheet of titanium strength leaf gelatine (and extra water)

The whole thing wasn't particularly difficult, just a tad fiddly but it was 100% worth it if only for the breathtaking smell as they were cooking. Now is the time you should wish we had smellavision!


Regrets, I've had a few.....

I am not a person who has many regrets. Sure, there were those Sambuca shots with work mates at the Dendy Bar (which is, sadly, now an electronics store) and various other times I've made a fool of myself but generally I plunge in and learn from the experience and I'm very rarely left wishing I had done something. But I've got a few regrets over the first week or so of Asher's life. I wish I'd been a little bit more clear about my hopes for the first few days with Sanjay and his parents - I spent a lot of time being shocked that they didn't understand what I wanted, but I wasn't comfortable asserting what I wanted. That led to tears (mine) and misunderstandings (theirs) and put a strain on our friendship that is still in the process of healing. I've learnt to be a bit more forthright but I think I have a long way to go there.

The other thing I really regret is not writing everything down. I wish I had started this blog back then so I could look over it now, just nine months later, and remember how I was feeling and what our days were like. I've already forgotten most of what happened in hospital. I remember feeding Asher and Sanjay changing nappies, but little else. I can't quite remember how much he slept at night, but I think I was waking up every 2-4 hours to feed him. I do remember watching a fair bit of the Soccer World Cup in those first weeks.

I was reminded of all this when I was talking to Bindy today. She and baby Zara are home now and I suggested she 'write it all down' because even though you think it's etched on your brain you forget those early days so quickly. So, I'm going to note down our daily routine sometime this week, but not right now, as I can hear that Asher has just woken up from his morning sleep.....


Technically, Sanjay gets back tonight.....

....but since he won't get back til after Asher goes to bed tonight I'm considering it an 'away' day and I'm making sure I post now while Asher is having his afternoon sleep not later (just in case the lack of having anything meaningful to say overwhelms me). Anyhow, I'm not as tired today as I was yesterday, but I'm feeling like I might be getting a little cold which would explain yesterday's exhaustion.
So in lieu of meaningful commentary* I'll just post a pic of Asher at the park today, wearing a t-shirt given to him by the lovely Acechick:

* what are you doing reading this blog if you are looking for meaningfull commentary! Ha! quick, go somewhere like Shannon's blog


so..... tired.....

Ok, so I've decided that I'm not that keen on this Sanjay-less existance! I've been managing ok, but today I'm just exhausted and vague (I went out today and forgot to wear shoes!) so I'll keep this short.

Today, being Thursday we had baby club and V very kindly offered up her lovely home and a stack of canvasses for 'art-jam' for the babies. There was some limited finger painting, plenty of foot prints and a fair amount of mess but it was all terrific fun. I hope Sanjay doesn't read this because it will be giving away what his birthday present is - I think I'm pretty safe!

Ok, it's 9pm and I'm going to creep off to bed pretty soon - I'm really ready for Sanjay to come home now!


I'm so lucky to have good friends

If I was a fairy from a story and got to bestow gifts on little babies that I love I would always wish for them to have really good friends around. I do, and I regularly feel so blessed, but it's kind of awkward to say without sounding soppy, and if I mention specific people I always leave out good friends who have been wonderful to me. Anyhow, I'm sending a silent prayer of thanks to the universe for my good friends.

Elvira came over last night and helped me get the kidlet ready for bed and then had dinner with me. It was just lovely to see her, and Asher was so tired he curled up and went to sleep really easily (not that it's hard the rest of the time, but there is usually some whinging when he gets put in his cot).

Today I'm meeting my inlaws for coffee when Asher wakes up and then we are going to try out Jumping Jacks before coming home for a sleep. Tonight I think mum and Clare will be coming over to help bathe the little guy and they will stay for dinner. I had better think about what I'm going to feed them and then raid the freezer.

The other thing that's happening today is that the lovely Bindy is having her baby! I look forward to hearing how the whole thing goes, and later in the week meeting the new little person.


So far so good

Miles and Asher
Originally uploaded by karmakeda.
Day one went really well. Asher slept, we went to playgroup and while I didn't run into any of my friends there Asher had a great time, which is the point, I guess. We had lunch at home and then he slept and we took a walk in the afternoon before M and her son M (!) came over for dinner. The boys ate dinner, had a bath and a play and went to sleep pretty easily. M and chatted over a glass of wine and had dinner - all very grown-up and civilized.

I had nothing planned for today but one of the Baby Club mummies sent me a text this morning convincing me to go to playgroup again. Asher will just love it so it wasn't really a hard sell. I just hope I get an appointment at the ECHC so I can get his height and weight done and get the normal ticks in all the correct boxes. I'm perfectly comfortable with how Asher is developing but I want to get confirmation that he is putting on enough weight (maybe 300g-400g this year).

Not only have Asher and I been ok, but my plan to update the blog every day while Sanjay is away is going ok so far!


Home Alone

It's 6:3 Monday morning and Sanjay is just about to leave for a weeks in Melbourne. Well, it's not really a week, it's just the working week and he'll be back on Friday night but four nights of reaching the end of the day, feeding the kid, dealing with pint sizes tantrums, bathing the kid and gettting him into bed will be wearing enough. Let's hope that this phase of sleeping through lasts another week at least. I know I should be ok though, and I have a few people lined up to come and help me if I need it. As long as I don't get any large frisky hutsman spiders in the house I actually should be ok.

Now, on a completely different note, I took photos of a really nice dish we cooked the other night with the intent to post the recipe here so I'll try to get to that soon. I will also post a 9 month developmental update (Asher is nine months today) after visitning the ECHC for his 9 month check.

I can hear the babay calling me caus he can hear Sanjay moving around quietly - I had better go and start the breakfast routine....


Playgroup punchup

Well, not really, but a kid at playgroup yesterday really pressed my buttons and I didn't handle it at all well. Asher was playing on a gym mat outside with a little tunnel thing for kids to crawl through. There was a little girl of maybe three sitting in the tunnel and when Asher crawled over she pushed his hand away. I don't really know playgroup etiquette for dealing with these situations so I was really friendly, saying something like 'hey, he's just a baby and he doesn't want to come in there with you, so it's not nice to push him' but she reached further out of the tunnel and pushed his face away. He wasn't at all hurt or even made uncomfortable by this but I was starting to get pissed off with this kids so I said, in a more serious, less friendly tone 'hey, if there is a problem talk to me, don't push him' while very gently taking her hand away from my kid. She of course stared at me and pushed Asher again so I very gently took her hand, moved a little closer to her, looked into her eyes and said in a really slow quiet threatening tone 'don't push him' and at that moment her mother appeared and hassled her about playing with the baby toys and took her away. I felt bad about it because I feel like I handled the situation really badly - I (kinda) disciplined another person's kid, I told her 'don't' rather than give her an alternative and the worst part was that I basically got into a power struggle with a toddler, and I know from bitter experience that those power struggles are pretty much unwinnable. I guess I should have just picked Asher up and taken him to play with something else, but I hadn't had my coffee and I got all mother-bear protective of my kid.

Unfortunately (heh, it gets worse) this all happened just minutes after I had been (mentally) criticising another mother for the way she was disciplining her child (who was also pushing Asher - does my kid wear a 'push me!' sign that I can't see?). She had been telling her just barely two year old to 'stop' (not being specific) and vaguely threatening him with going home. We had been half chatting and she had been bitching to me about the fact her son has started pushing other kids (yep, loud enough for him to hear) while I, sitting atop my very high horse, had been thinking of Moxie's advice and that she should try diversion or gently getting between her kid and my kid if she was upset about it rather than vague whiny threats about going home. Everybody has bad days and when they are tired and harrased and the best way of dealing with toddler stroppiness isn't always obvious so I would like to unreservedly retract my judgemental and narky thoughts.


Cooking Carrots

cooking carrots
Originally uploaded by karmakeda.

I'm forgetting a lot these days, so before I forget this, I wanted to make a note of my tips for making babyfood, and how we feed him now, at eight months.

Asher eats mostly food we cook, supplemented with commercially prepared jars when we are out and I'm not organised enough to bring food from home. We started with just rice cereal at around 24 weeks but quickly moved on to pureed pear and apple, then carrot, pumpkin and sweet potato. He now eats pretty much anything that we can puree, mush up or break into tiny pieces.

When I cook food specially for him, as opposed to when I feed him food that we have cooked for ourselves, I have learnt to cut it up much smaller than I would cut up food for me. This is because fruit and vegetables need to be pureed or mashed (the stick blender is my saviour!) and this is easier when they are cooked right through. So cut up small the whole piece gets cooked but the outside doesn't get too overcooked, which keeps the colour and texture good and minimises the loss of nutrients.

When Asher eats our food we try to make sure we reduce the amount of salt and spices we put in our food, but otherwise we just cook it as normal. Tonight we had roast chook and veggies for dinner and tomorrow Asher will probably get some of the roast carrot, potato and beetroot fork-mashed with some water and yoghurt with a bit of very finely diced chicken.

Most of what we cook for him is organic produce, which means it's mostly seasonal (organic fruit and veg is expensive enough when it's in season, out-of-season it's exorbitant), but we have stopped worrying about the allergy stuff. I know a lot of people are very careful about introducing new foods but I talked to my dad about it and he had a conversation with one of his colleagues about it and they believe that there isn't much evidence to suggest that early exposure increases the risk of allergy. We have put our money where our mouth is, so to speak, and he has had egg (in the form of frittata), prawns, wheat, dairy and probably something containing nuts or blended vegetable oil (which always contains peanut oil). We haven't given him sushi yet, but I would feel completely comfortable doing so (except it would mean less for me!).

I actually quite enjoy cooking for him, and I don't mind the process of feeding him now that we are both a bit better at it, although I miss the convenience of a totally breastfed baby (if the baby was with me I knew I had enough food for him!). I'm looking forward to trying new foods and, now that he has a tooth, increasing the textures we try.

Edited to add: when I puree food or have more mashed foood than he can eat in about two sittings I freeze it in a lidded ice cube tray. I then pop the frozen food cubes out inot a ziplock bag or a plastic take-away container and label carefully.


Google Calendar

As well as using Google calendar with my family to try to keep us a bit organised I've created a calendar with public happenings in my area. Because I'm so focussed on my little family at the moment it's mostly stuff that could interest other parents of small kids around the lower North Shore, but I hope that I stay organised and keep it growing. Here it is, for those who want to check it out:

Please let me know of any relevant events so that I can include them.


8 Month Update

This morning, Asher had no tooth, by three o'clock this afternoon Asher's bottom right tooth had just cut. It's amazing that it happened so suddenly but apart from a screaming meltdown and an extra feed and sleep today he didn't have any of the warning signs/symptoms that a lot of people talk about - no nappy rash, no pulling his ears, no red cheeks, only the normal amount of dribble and stuffing things in his mouth.

So, in the spirit of new things and Asher turning 8 months yesterday so it's time for an update:
  • First tooth!
  • He pulls himself up on things all the time and although he is not quite cruising he will go from holding onto the chair to holding onto the baby gate (for example)
  • He has a very clumsy pincer grip and is starting to explore things with his index finger
  • His main mode of locomotion is still sliding around on his belly, 'swimming' along the floor pushing off with his right foot and pulling with his left arm, leaving his right hand free to explore things
  • He is eating a wider variety of foods, both flavours and textures - lumpy foods were slow to start but he's getting used to them. He's tried, as well as all the normal veggies, prawns, Parmesan frittata, Chinese duck, Indian dal, Indian chicken and probably a bunch of other stuff. He seems to really like the duck!
  • He usually has 3-4 breastfeeds per day. He still feeds to sleep most of the time.
  • He sleeps through quite often (well, he wakes, but he just sings a bit and goes back to sleep) and if not right through he often only wakes for a late night feed when I go to bed.

My update is a little less cheerful - I've been having a hard time with the lack of earning, with the lack of an 'adult' life and generally with the relentlessness of mothering a happy and energetic baby. Sanjay has been a bit flat and uncommunicative recently, probably feeling the stress of being the provider and knowing that I'm not completely happy but his unresponsiveness has been adding to my feelings of isolation and general crappiness. Presumably the fact that I'm ready to admit this to the faceless internets means that things will smooth out a bit now. I know the first year of parenthood is often cited as the hardest year of a relationship, and I know we'll both cope, but that doesn't mean it isn't hard to live with sometimes.


For Brendan (new trick!)

The baby has a new trick. Finally, after six weeks of saying nothing but 'Gah!' he makes 'bababa' noises. I guess that doesn't sound that interesting to most people but imagine living with someone who only replied with one word....

Me: So, what do you feel like for dinner?
Asher: Gah!
Me: Not sure I can manage that. How about some pureed organic sweet potato?
Asher: Gah!
Me: Whatever....
(a conversational pause, while I defrost some previously pureed vegetable and perhaps add a little bit of yoghurt)
Me: So, didn't the Australian government fuck up big time with the whole David Hicks thing. I heard on the news last night that they could have secured his release five years ago if...
Asher: (interrupting) Gah!
Me: Yes, I thought you would say that.



I didn't get to mention it earlier because of the fuss with Frannie (incidentally, she's doing really well and will probably be discharged tomorrow) but on the weekend we were away Asher pulled himself up to a kind of deep squat stand. I muttered about putting the base of the cot to the lower position and dismissed it as a one-off not-to-be-repeated-for-a-few-weeks event but it looks like it's here to stay. After coming back from our morning walk I sat my darling boy with his back to the steps up to our apartment while I folded the buggy. I've been doing this since he could sit so I can fold the rather large Mountain Buggy up and not annoy our uptight neighbors too much (trying to fold the pram while juggling baby and shopping can sometimes be done, but it's very awkward). Anyhow as I was organising myself I watched the baby turn around, put both hands on the first step and stand up. Thankfully, he splatted down on his nappy covered butt straight away, not climbing the stairs while I had my hands full with the buggy. I'm going to have to work out a slightly safer way of getting myself into the house I think.

I also think he's about to start crawling on his hands and knees, rather than propelling himself along with his forearms and right foot (it's getting a cute little baby callous!). I say this because, just in the last two days, I keep spotting him up on all fours rocking and bunnyhopping and then trying out a wobbly baby yoga version of a downward dog, with Asher peering at his toes and then g tpast his legs to look at the world upside down. It's very cute and I really do hope it is the beginning of 'proper' crawling.

Anyhow, back to the title of the post. After Asher pulled himself up on the stair today I got out the 'manual' for lowering the cot base and it says "THE MATTRESS BASE OF THIS COT SHOULD BE ADJUSTED TO THE LOWEST POSITION BEFORE THE CHILD CAN SIT UP" (emphasis theirs) so that will be a lovely activity for Sanj and I this evening. We really don't do stuff like this well together, particularly when we are tired from a wakeful, snotty* baby, so we'll see how we go, but it has to be done.

* Asher and I both have a cold. It sucks.


Gotta love that 'new car' taste!

New car 2
Originally uploaded by karmakeda.
The new Honda Civic in fetching 'blueish silver' arrived on Wednesday. I haven't even been for a spin in it yet. Sanjay drove it home from the showroom and hasn't driven it yet apart from that either. It does smell (and taste!) like a new car though.

Big thanks to the inlaws :-)



I went in to see Frannie today and she's great. It was only a few hours after her surgery, she was still in intensive care but she could talk, swallow and move her arms and legs. Which means she's avoided the main complications with the operation she was having. She was still puffy and woozy from the anaesthetic (and the PCA morphine!) but Jim was still managing to talk to her about real estate. Needless to say, we are all very relieved!


Good vibes for Frannie please

Tomorrow my mother has her neck surgery. There is a lot of anxiety in the family about the process at the moment, not really helped by Frannie's joking with us every meal about it being her last. Her friend Marg says that she doesn't really think she's going to die - if she did she would start smoking again. Marg is a non smoker who quit relatively recently, which would explain that obsession. Anyhow, it's really major sugery and I'm glad it will be at North Shore Private, which is only a walk away from me. It means I can look after Jim, Clare and Michael (well, feed them, anyhow) as well as get up to see her.

Perhaps Asher has picked up on the tension, or perhaps he's just out of sorts because he's had a long weekend up at Crowdy with lots of adult stimulation. Unsurprisingly Marg and Fran spent a lot of time playing with him but Michael also loved having him about and allowed far more hair-pulling and eye-gouging than I do.

Alternatively Asher may be slightly grizzly because he's getting teeth. He is rashy in a way that he hasn't been before (impetigo cleared up nicely with the antibiotics thanks, we've started him on yoghurt) and I assume that is because he's dribbling more and sticking a wider variety of whatever he can reach into his ever-open mouth.

He could, however, just be rashy because he comes into contact with more things now that he is mobile. He really is mobile. Whenever I needed to pee, empty the dishwasher or anything else that doesn't happen in the lounge room and is difficult to do while holding a baby I leave Asher, popping my head in every 10 - 40 seconds and yesterday his two favourite places seemed to be behind the television and under the computer desk - the only two places in the room with visible unsecured power point and cords. Why is that? Why are babies attracted to things that have the potential to kill them? On Sunday morning, just before we left to come home from Crowdy we put Asher to sleep and zippered him into his tent and went downstairs to have a cup of coffee. Maybe half an hour later (bearing in mind the baby normally sleep for 40-60 minutes) Sanjay went upstairs to find Asher had escaped from his zipped-up tent and left the bedroom (passing by several plugged in amps and guitars on floor stands) and was in the hall just outside the bathroom door. He apparently grinned like anything when he saw Sanjay - I think he had woken up, got bored, so came to find us!

Anyhow, I better post this and get on with my day while Asher is asleep, but any prayers or good thoughts that can be sent to Fran tomorrow morning will be much appreciated.