The Elephant in the Corner

So I'm finally ready to reveal the reason for my recent lack of posting - there has been an elephant standing in the corner of the room that I haven't wanted to mention. The only way to avoid mentioning that elephant was to not say anything at all. Behold the Bean:

Yep that's right, I have a passenger on board. My passenger is a 10 week old foetus (i.e. I'm 12 weeks pregnant) that we saw on ultrasound (for the second time) on Friday. It has a little beating heart, a stomach, an umbilical cord that attaches at all the right places, and a low risk for Downs Syndrome and the other chromosomal abnormalities they test for with the NT plus scan.

For those who don't know me IRL we had a few hassles getting to Asher - we had two miscarriages, one chemical pregnancy, a hemorrhage and then, when we conceived Asher I was finally diagnosed with anti-cardiolipin antibodies, an auto-immune disorder that creates clots in the placenta, and can be a cause of recurrent miscarriage (as well as intra-uterine growth retardation and stillbirth). I was on low-dose Aspirin (100mg) from the very beginning of my pregnancy until about 32 weeks, and this time they have re-tested me and I have the same levels so I'm on Aspirin again. I've just been Googling for some appropriate links for anyone who wants to know more, but I'm finding it difficult to find pages that provide enough detail but that are written for non-health-professionals. This is about the best I can do. I am a 'low positive' and also have a relatively low platelet count, so I suspect I'm less at risk of some of the other really nasty complications (like strokes). I'll have to talk to my doctor more about all that...

So anyhow, here we are, getting to the end of the first trimester and starting to believe that we really might end up with a baby. We didn't plan this timing, in fact, we had decided to start trying for number two around Christmas. I was hoping for a *very* festive Christmas season, with lots of alcohol and loving, but instead I will be seeing in the new year sober and probably slightly cranky (and it will be 100% worth it for our little family if we end up with a little person who we love as much as we love Asher!).



There really is a plethora of Christmas posts around here, isn't there. It's funny 'coz it's really not playing that big a part in my mental life right now, but the other things that are going on are boring and involve making babysitting arrangements for Christmas parties, my work, Sanjay's work, and the minutea of daily life with a toddler. Will he go to bed OK tonight? Will there be tantrums today? Is he going to yell a perfectly enunciated 'fuck!' repeatedly in public? Will I be able to have a shower by myself today? ...and if that stuff is boring for me, then it's going to be absolutely punishing for anyone else.

So, anyway, back to my Santa story. Each Christmas so far we have had a photo taken with Santa. At 6 months old Asher was happily held by the strange guy in the freshly dry cleaned red polyester suit. Last year, at 18 months, there wasn't a snowball's chance in hell that Asher would sit anywhere near the weird guy whose face was obscured by thick spectacles and a creepy white polyester beard. In that photo I'm sitting next to Santa, holding a wriggling Asher on my lap while trying to smile appropriately. This year we talked a lot about Santa for the few days before we actually went, and Asher's mate A actually had several 'dry runs' where she was bribed to sit with Santa to desensitize her to the inherent creepiness of the situation (creepy to a toddler, mortifying embarrassing to a tweenager and, I'm finding, strangely compulsive to a mother).

To get Asher to sit with Santa we went early in the morning, as soon as David Jones opened. We promised a babycino and a trip to Wizzy World after the photo and we had treats for the kids to try and get them smiling. In the end Asher also ended up with my camera, first taking photos of Santa and then, when he was sitting next to Santa, Asher took a (terrible) photo of me, pointing to the camera:

Finally, after much negotiating, we got a picture I was happy with (I don't have a scanner, so please excuse the poor 'photo of a photo' quality:

So there was not really much point to that post. Perhaps I could end on a question: do you think I should get Asher a kids digital camera for Christmas? It could buy me much peace and quiet (and Christmas should be about peace, right?).


The Christmas Stick

I promise that after this I'll shut up about Christmas for a while, but I do want to show you my lovely Christmas stick!

There are no photos of the the annual stick hunt this year. It was raining and we forgot the camera and we ended up doing most of our stick-hunting from the car. It was lovely though - it was quiet and damp and we explained to Asher what we were doing. We had fortified ourselves beforehand at our favourite French Patisserie with lots of coffee and delicious food. I don't think Asher really 'got it' at the time but later he worked it out.

When Asher went for his sleep in the early afternoon I got Michael and his friend (who stayed with us the night before) to help with stick arrangement. It was so much easier than the last two years - I think we are getting better at choosing sticks! They pretty much fell into place this time, without the need for a pruning saw or secateurs.

When Asher woke up we decorated the tree - he wore his 'Christmas hat' and I wished quietly that we owned some Christmas music on to add to the atmosphere (ideally I would find some Christmas music that didn't make me gag!). I'm happy with how it looks, but this year I really am going to buy some Christmas baubles in the January sales. I can't for the life of me face purchasing full-price Christmas decorations and I'd rather have my 'tree' covered in an eclectic mix of home made decorations (see the letters!) and things we've picked up on our travels (you can't see the stars from India or the glass angels from Ireland and Venice in the photo). Anyhow here it is, without presents as yet, and without the sun shining in the window that I was hoping for this morning:


eat at dixiebelle's: Eco-friendly Christmas (Updated and Re-posted)

Eeat at dixiebelle's(Updated and Re-posted) does the 'Green Christmas' post that best fits in with my view of the world - love it! I'll post the story of the Christmas Stick tomorrow...


A Big Move

It appears that my little boy took another step on the road to being a big boy today. When it was time for his day sleep he told me he wanted to sleep in the spare room. As I acquiesced I thought to myself 'whatever, as soon as he gets outa that bed he's straight into the cot' but he surprised me. He did get out of bed once and came and came and told me he didn't want a sleep. I said to him that if he got out of bed again he'd have to go into his cot. A minute or two later there was a crashing noise and some crying. When I went in he was rubbing his head and the venetian blind was up. I put the blind back down lay down next to him for a minute or two then left, while he was still 'reading' his new* favourite book. Ten minutes later when I went in he was asleep cuddling the book, and he slept beautifully for over two hours (I took the photo later on when I didn't mind if the quiet click of the camera woke him).
Tonight when bedtime rolled around he told us again that he wanted to sleep in the spare room so I found a top sheet (a queen bed sheet folded in two) and tucked one of the larger cot blankets in and he went to sleep without a peep (which is in itself unusual these days). When we went in to check on him he freaked us out by being horizontal right up the top of the bed and thus invisible in the weak light of Sanjay's mobile phone. When we found him we moved him down and tucked him in tightly and I'll let you know tomorrow if he sleep all night without incident.
This all means it's definitely time to clean up the bed I got off eBay (I'm thinking of painting it but I don't know if I will get around to it quickly enough), buy a new mattress** and wash the cute monkey sheets we purchased with him a week or two ago.
* I got the Christmas decorations down from their storage spot on Sunday. The two Christmas kids books we own were there conveniently with the decorations - I felt SO super organised and I wish I remembered where I read the tip to 'store seasonal kids books with seasonal decorations' so I could credit it here.
** I'm all in a quandary about getting a mattress. I definitely don't want a second hand one (blergh!) but I don't want a new one (off gassing! environmental impact!). Does anyone have any advice on buying an environmentally responsible new mattress? What about mattress protectors with no PVC in them? Help!



I'm already sick of the Christmas trees, tinsel and decorations in the shops and it's not even December yet. Recently ‘the presents’ have become a topic of conversation amongst my friends and I’ve been thinking a lot about gifts and giving and how I can get away from the rampant consumerism and environmental vandalism and still celebrate what Christmas means to me (not being a scroogy-humbug-killjoy , but hanging out with my family, eating, drinking and having fun).

One approach is, of course, to ‘just say no’ to gift giving , or perhaps all of the traditional Christmas traditions. That's not going to work for us because there is so much I like about the festive season. Another alternative, and one I think I might suggest to my family for next year is much like a workplace 'Kris Kringle' where names go into a 'hat' and everyone buys a present for just one person. This would solve two of the big problems - present budgeting and too much 'stuff' but I can't see my mother (in particular) being able to only buy a gift for one person in our family. It would also suck to get one of the really hard-to-buy-for people (such as my wonderful brother-in-law).

So, what I'm going to trial this year is *not* buying gifts for my group of friends (I must inform them! I don't want to receive presents either!), and Sanj and I are going to think really hard about what we buy for my immediate family (I would post my excellent ideas here, except I know two of them read this blog occasionally).

So, when I do give gifts, these are the things I'm going to try to factor in. Gifts should:

NOT add stress (so I’m not going to be making everything I give),
NOT add to household clutter (mine or other peoples)
SHOULD be environmentally and socially responsible
SHOULD be within budget
SHOULD be appropriate to the giver, the receiver and their relationship to each other

So I guess we come to ideas for gifts . I personally think, in the first instance we should be going for:
  • Gifts of time/skills: babysitting (!), help with anything from cleaning to computer back-ups.
  • Made gifts: there are too many things to list here: art, wearables (clothing and jewellery), food and treats and, only cheating slightly things like Snapfish calendars
  • Second-hand things (ideally from charity shops): Tricky – although buying second-hand means your gifts haven’t been manufactured …..they still add to the problem of clutter. Gifts should be chosen wisely here – I would always suggest second hand books and, cleaned up, toys can be excellent.
  • Donations: it’s nice to personalize donations to reflect the favourite charities or personal crusades of the recipient.

So what happens when none of those things are going to work? M

  • Consumables: wine and food, either made or purchased, art materials, beauty products (although it’s nice to be sure they are things people will really use – there’s no point giving bath products to people who shower or who don’t have a tub).
  • 'Experience' gifts: anything from the amazing (a skydive!) to the mundane (and agreement to go out for dinner together). I also count vouchers for massages or pedicures and tickets for movies or shows here too – this type of gift can be expensive but they don’t add to household clutter
  • Really super-useful: There are often things that you know people need textbooks for the student in your life , socks and underwear for someone like Sanj who never thinks to buy those things for himself. This can remove the surprise factor of a gift but it's quite possible to fit my original gift-giving criteria.

What am I missing? What else should be on my list? I have to say that after writing this post I'm much less 'bah-humbug' about the whole thing than I expected. In fact I'm starting to get excited about going to find our Christmas stick and about finding useful, inexpensive 'green' gifts for the family. Perhaps I'll try to do a bit of a round-up of some of the blogs I'm going to use for inspiration for greener Christmases.... Please let me know your favourites!


Christmas - without the 'Christ'

I just want to warn you that in the next few days I am going to go Scroogy-grump with Christmas gift blog post! In preparation, so you don't think I'm the meanest mother in the world I want to post about Santa, and how the our family Christmas traditions are evolving. I am not Christian, or at all religious (in fact, I get more deeply athiest by the year), but I really love the sense of tradition that comes with doing the same things at the same times every year and the family rituals that develop around that. I also like being able to have my own personal thanksgiving (we don't have Thanksgiving in Australia!) and that means, for me, making time to celebrate the important people in my life.

Asher will be two-and-a-half this Christmas, which means, he was eighteen months last Christmas and six months the one before that. Which means, I think, that this will be the first Christmas he has any hope of remembering. That also means that we are still creating family traditions and rituals!

I have never had a Christmas tree in my own home. We always had them when I was a kid, but there's something hard-to-put-my-finger-on that I don't really like about them. I'd like to say it was purely environmental concern but I suspect there is something else to it as well. What I do like is the tradition of some seasonal decorations and so we have developed our own thing - we go for a walk and find ourselves some 'Christmas sticks' which we decorate, with varying degrees of aesthetic success. This year I'm looking for some spray glitter to jazz up the sticks we find. I wish I could find a picture of last year's stick for comparison purposes, rather than only this really blurry one!

So, all of our Christmases have involved the three of us heading up the coast to see my family at Crowdy Head. This means a four hour drive and staying in their big crazy house in a tiny town with a harbour, two beaches and a fish co-op. Crowdy Head seems to known only to yachties, keen surfers (the break isn't great but it's a stopping-point on the way north) and fishermen. We spend out time up there eating and drinking, walking around the headland or the rocks and going to the beach.

Christmas eve we put Asher's Santa sack out for Santa to fill, and then during the night Santa comes by and fills it up with goodies. So far the tradition seems to be that Santa brings

  • A new outfit

  • A book

  • Some toys (usually of the handmade variety - last year it was a bag of wooden vegetables as well as a bouncy ball and a few other bits and bobs)

  • Something good to eat (when Asher was 6 months old he brought organic rusks!)

...which I think is pretty restrained for an Australian Santa.

On Christmas morning, just like when I was a child, Santa presents are opened up, then comes breakfast, then comes family presents, followed by lunch and an afternoon of lolling around. Sanjay gets so frustrated during the opening of the family presents - they have to be opened one-by-one in turn, and everyone has to spend a bit of time ooh-ing and ah-ing over every gift, so the process takes a fair while.

So far, this is working out for our new little family. Sanjay's family don't complain to me about us not spending Christmas with them, because, to be fair, we do spend every single Hindu festival with them. I think my dad probably misses out a bit, but he will usually volunteer to work on Christmas day to allow other doctors to spend time with their families. I think he feels like he spent so much of my childhood caught up with work that he can't ask us to give up the other things that we want to do at Christmas for him - but perhaps that's just my hopeful interpretation?


Potty Time?

Warning: this post contains multiple references to various exretory bodily functions. Read at your own risk.

Over the last month Asher has been gradually using the potty more and more often. We are at a stage now where he wees in the potty once or twice most days but he had never used the potty for a poo, until today. Not only had he not done a poo in the potty but he had never given us any warning, either verbal or behavioural, that he was about to. Today that all changed.

We were in a shopping centre, near toilets that he has been to with his little toilet-trained friend and he asked to go to the toilet. I assumed it was just a delaying tactic he was using because he'd seen a familiar toilet stop, but we went in, removed the nappy and he sat there while my back got slowly more painful (I need to hold him a bit so he doesn't slip down into the bowl) and I got correspondingly more impatient. About two minutes elapsed (it felt like ten!) with him telling me it was 'coming' whenever I asked him if he just wanted to put his nappy back on and finally he said 'it's coming out my bottom!' and 30 seconds later he did his first ever poo in the toilet. I was so proud of him, and so happy there was going to be one less poopy nappy to deal with! I was more than usually patient with my tired kid as we walked home.

We got home and had a sandwich for lunch and I put him to bed. He didn't go to sleep immediately and when he called out to me urgently I would go in and give him a cuddle and tell him to go to sleep. Once he had got his foot stuck in the bars of the cot, and once he had ripped the spine-covering off a favourite board-book. This whole process went on for ages (ummm, over an hour, which is not that unusual), and whenever I was not rescuing feet etc I was searching the 'net for nice cotton training pants. The next time he called out I was ready to be a bit stern - it was pretty much my last chance for him to have a day sleep that wasn't too late to interfere with bed-time. I realised as soon as I opened the door that all was not well. He had his nappy on but there we smears of what seemed to be poo on his cot sheet, and a big wet patch that could only be wee. I changed the stinky nappy, changed the sheets washed hands all the while trying to work out how the nappy could be on but poo could be on the sheets. Every time I asked Asher he just said 'gotta change it' which was undeniable. I put him back in bed for a little while, but next time he called out he told me he needed to do a wee in the potty so I let him out and now he's running around in big-boy undies playing with his Duplo.

So, perhaps I'll order some training pants and browse for toilet training tips but I won't start anything just yet.

* * * * * * * * * * *
A moment or two after I published this post I heard Asher in the bathroom. He's been in there earlier and got water everywhere so I went in ready to be irritated only to find my darling child with his big-boy undies around his ankles having done a wee in his potty, after removing his undies (key point!). I got him to sit back down so I could take a photo!

...and then again, another hour later he took himself in and did yet another wee. I think I will put the order for training pants through today after all - I think this is one of those things that is going to happen now whether I'm ready or not.


Holy 22" Monitor Batman!

Sanjay just got home from work and walked in with a brand new 22" monitor. To replace the one he destroyed. I am SO looking forward to being able to look at things all big like, and y'know be able to post pictures here, and things like that. Happy me. Proper post to come some time soon - maybe even today!

In the meantime: Bye-bye broken monitor and your "arty" yet annoying depletion of screen real-estate:


Wax, or The Scary Near-Drowning Incident

This is an incredibly tangential approach to the Unplug Your Kids Projects theme of the week - wax. I'm using the theme as a springboard for 'fessing up about something truly horrible that happened to us the other day in the hope of reminding everyone about the dangers of drowning! (and we were very Unplugged at the time, considering we were on the beach).

Last week at the beach Asher and his friends were getting water in their buckets and coming up and tipping it on the sand, and Asher kept going into the water a bit further in each time. He is usually pretty safe and I was up the top of the beach watching, knowing I really should take my sneakers off, roll up my jeans and head down to the edge of the water. I knew I needed to be close to him to remind him not to go deeper than his knees and to fish him out if he fell over but I really didn't want to get all sandy and wet. While I was working myself up to removing shoes I was standing watching Asher, and my friend were sitting on the warm sand suggesting that he would be fine and I just sit down. As I was watching though, he did go under, he was quite deep and he couldn't keep his head above the water. I RAN down there and waded right in and fished him out, scooping him up under his belly to help the water out of his lungs. He coughed and gurgled a bit and was a bit shaken, so I stood him on the edge of the sand and asked him to cough the water up and spit it out. I was shaking but being as outwardly calm as I could manage so as not to freak Asher out any further. Once we went up the beach he was quite content to sit on the sand playing while I chastised myself and then peeled most of my clothes off (thankfully the aforementioned friends were able to clothe me - M gave me her towel to wear around my waist and K took her singlet off for me).

I'm normally so hyper-vigilant about burns*, water and cars (being the things that are statistically most likely to do harm to my kid) and I feel so bad about it but I've certainly learned my lesson (lots of rescue remedy yesterday afternoon helped!). Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death in 0-4 age bracket in Australia, and I am SO glad I was watching him so carefully.

Now, what does this have to do with wax? I did tell you it was a tenuous connection didn't I? Well, after the event I sat down and decided to make a plan to ensure that nothing like this happened again. I started off by thinking about why I didn't just go down to the edge of the water and the excuses I came up with were pretty pathetic. I realised that if I had been wearing a skirt and thongs (flip-flops for the North Americans!) I wouldn't have hesitated. Why wasn't I wearing a skirt? I hadn't shaved my legs! (and I don't have many skirts). So I made a plan to get my legs waxed and shop for a few more skirts or dresses. The leg-wax part of the plan went ahead and the skirt buying part is still to come.

* my father is a paediatric surgeon and burns specialist and I've grown up with a lot of very scary stories about burns and scalds. I can't help having a high level of anxiety!



My darling husband threw the mouse* at our flat screen monitor this morning and now the entire right side of the screen is smashed up and unusable. He then called me and had the gall to get all grouchy with me on the phone (without telling me what had happened!). I have forgiven him, but only just. He's off to buy a new monitor tomorrow - I want him to buy me a really big one!

* just the computer mouse - no cruelty to animals around here (no animals to be cruel to, now that the fish has died!).


Unplug Your Kids

I've subscribed to 'Unplug Your Kids' for a little while now, despite the fact that Asher at just over 2 years old is a bit young (and I am a bit lazy) for much crafty stuff. We don't really watch much TV with him around - at the moment he's getting an hour or so about once a month but I generally feel like I need a bit of a kick to do anything like a 'project' or 'activity' with him. This week however I thought about their current 'smooth' theme a lot - every time we played with playdough (which was often - he's loving it at the moment) we talked about it's texture, and when we were eating, enjoying our walks, cooking and generally going about our days I've been talking about smooth vs. rough. To have an 'activity' to include I decided that this afternoon when we had some free time we would spend some time playing with, and exploring the texture of, a bunch of smooth stones that we have at home.

To get Asher interested I asked him to wash the stones, and because it was such a nice warm day I filled up his water play table, put a bunch of suds in it (baby wash!) and gave him a scrubbing brush, a cleaning cloth and a whisk (to get the suds happening) as well as the stones. He had a great time whisking, pouring water from one container to another and seemed only peripherally interested in the pebbles. He did notice that some were smoother than others (some are polished stones, some came from a beach) and that they are shiny and dark when wet and more dull when dry. He also climbed onto the table and sat in the water as soon as I ducked inside, grinning at me when I came out and telling me that the water was cold. The simple fact that he knew I was taking photos and didn't harass me for the camera was proof that he was more involved in what he was doing than I've seen him for a while.

So, although our 'project' was not an unqualified success in terms of learning about 'smooth' it was a very pleasant way to spend a hot afternoon. If you are interested in crafty stuff to do with kids (My kid preferably - come and do crafty stuff with my kid! I will make you a lovely gin and tonic! Promise!) I'd recommend visiting a proper kids craft sites, such as the justifiably popular The Crafty Crow or the fantastic Australian Kids Craft Weekly that offers really do-able stuff that's often appropriate for younger kids.

The other thing we now know is that the water table will take the weight of my two-year-old, water and a bunch of lovely pebbles and that Asher will 'smile for the camera' if he's in the right mood. The resulting photos, however, are a bit scary!


Out of the mouthes of babes

The scene: This morning at breakfast. All three of us in our PJs, looking and feeling a bit haggard after some busy days and late-ish nights.

Asher: Nipple!
Keda: (gestures in the direction of a bra-less-but-covered-by-tshirt left breast) Yes honey...
Asher: (glances toward the chest and then his eyes track slowly face-ward): no...
Keda: Oh, you mean this (hand moving to touch the gigantic pimple on her forehead) It's not a nipple honey, it's a pimple. Although I understand why you might think that...
Sanjay: !!!!!

The morning didn't get any better after that, because I noticed our beloved goldfish was belly up around his/her tank. Flakey/Kate came to us in September or October of '05 and gave us swishyness and strangely good company for three full years. Originally named Flakey and renamed Kate by my mother-in-law our friendly fish saw us through many hard times. R.I.P. Flakey/Kate - you will be sadly missed by your Sanjay, Keda and Asher and their friends and relations.
Now I need to work out what to tell Asher. Some people suggested just replacing the fish and not commenting but that feels wrong to me (plus, I think there might be a mould problem in the tank - Flakey/Kate's mouth and belly were a nasty black colour). I don't think I can say that the fish 'went away' so I think I'll say 'the fish died - would you like a milkshake?' and not make any mention of the fact Sanjay flushed it as soon as we left for the Dora the Explorer concert (free corporate box tickets! Wheee!). What do other people tell 2-year-olds when pets die?


Smart Smartie

Asher and I went to Wizzy World again today, to meet some Mothers' Group friends we haven't seen for a while. Last time we went was really quiet and Asher and Audrey pottered around by themselves most of the time. At one point they had been quiet for a while and when I found them Asher was managing to sneak Smarties out of the lolly machine by the (small) handful. I'm not quite sure how he managed it but he seemed to be flicking the 'release' handle with persistence and a certain gentleness. He was getting so many out that he had a crowd of three or four kids around him enjoying the bounty. To stop Asher eating nothing but Smarties for the day I spoilt the fun by telling the staff who promptly taped up the offending part of the lolly machine.

When we went today it wasn't long before he had disappeared over to the lolly machine again. The middle hopper, which held the Smarties last time, was empty but Asher there were Smarties in another hopper. Asher twiddled and flicked enough to get a few of the lollies out, but since they weren't scattered all over the floor being gathered up by eager children I didn't really worry. I convinced him to come play somewhere else for a while, but periodically he would wander back for another Smartie or two periodically. Now wonder he thinks it's the most fun place in the world!

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My son

When he isn't biting, kicking, throwing sand, scratching, pulling hair, pushing or snatching he's just delighful. Witness him here, being spun around and laughing with his little mates:

See? When he's happy, he's really happy.


Fussy little gourmand

Just really quickly* I want to tell you about Asher's dinner last night. It appeared normal at the time but when Bindy called me to check what Asher eats these days I thought back to last night and realised it wasn't normal at all. We gave him smoked salmon wrapped around cream cheese, pieces of ripe soft brie with Turkish bread and some cornichons and olives as 'vegetables.' Although he ate it there were tears at one point because he wanted pate (if there had been some in the fridge we would have given it to him - that much protein and iron's gotta be ok for a kid). Bloody fussy little thing he is!

*I've got a *lot* of cleaning and tidying to do after two days at work. I won't be sitting here playing really mindless facebook games, nope, not me.


Asher milestones

Isn't this a cute pictutre? Sanjay's parents usually pick Asher up from Kindy one day a week and they are away at the moment so various other people (well, Anil and my dad) have been helping out with picking Asher up from Kindy. Asher actually seems to be getting on a bit better at Kindy these last two weeks, not many tears in the morning before we leave the house and just a bit of distress when we (usually just Sanjay) drops him off. Anil took Asher to the park today when he picked him up and they spent a bit of time playing with Anil's Blackberry camera - I think he sent me this photo to reassure me that they had fun!

I've been meaning to blog quite a lot recently - I've got a lot to say about Asher and what's going on for him - but I haven't been able to find time when I'm not exhausted. I've also been recovering from the cold that has lasted all winter, and I'm finally feeling a bit more on top of things with my health.

The other reason I'm exhasted is that Asher is really finding his two-year-old self. He's really into asserting himself and testing boundaries and, being Asher, that means he's experimenting quite carefully. At the moment he's trying to work out what the story is with physical aggression generally, and biting in particular so he sets up his experiments. He wants to work out what kinds of biting get a neutral or positive reaction from me (food), what kinds get a mildly negative reaction (toys and other objects) and what makes me really angry (other people). He has been biting objects (toys, doorframes, this morning it was the doona on our bed) and notes that he gets told 'no biting' but nobody moves to stop him. He tries biting me and I say 'NO BITING' very sternly and physically move his head away. The very first time he sank his sharp little puppy-teeth into my leg I brushed him away so quickly it was *almost* a smack, which of course shook me more than it shook him. He even tried biting Audrey on Tuesday afternoon which upset me tremendously. I really hope he works it out quickly (I know I have to stay *really* consistant) and can find some other subject to experiment on. I guess I should be happy that it's such a carefully controlled experiment, even if the fact that he's being calculating upsets me, because my suspicion is that biting-in-anger would be harder to manage.

In better news, his language development has really come on, so have both gross and fine motor skills - he is starting to learn to use scissors, he can roll out pizza dough, he can climb things at the indoor playcentre this week that were impossible last week, he can get the soybeans out of their pods when we have edamame, he puts texta/pen lids on with ease, he opens the door to our apartment, he puts bottle tops on and takes them off, the list goes on and on. He's also starting to be more confident (he shoos away pidgeons rather than bursting into tears) and more assertive with his peers (he has been pushing Audrey out of the way when she tries to get in front of him) which I feel are developments that have been helped by going to Kindy.

There'll be more updates over the next week or so, promise!


Quote of the....

OK, since I don't seem to have many words at the moment I'll just use someone else's words. When I thanked Karen for helping me out while I was helping someone else out she said "if you can't help another woman with kids...." and to me this was a lovely example of The Sisterhood in action. It made me so happy!


Just so you know I'm still alive...

...I'll post a conversation from the weekend. The scene was a cafe where Sanjay, Asher and I were having coffee and brioche with my brother Tim and his girlfriend. We were discussing a trip to Bunnings and possible drill purchase and Asher was trying to get my Tim's attention.

Tim: Do you know where we're going when we've finished our coffee Asher?
Asher: After coffee?
Tim: The most fun place in the whole world!
Asher (head tilted to the side in hopeful expectation): Wizzy World?
Tim: Nope - Bunnings!
Keda: Asher, Bunnings is a shop
Asher: Bunny shop?


Good Luck Michael

Well, the HSC exams are coming up rather soon (starting October 16th) so I'm going to use this chance to send a good luck shout-out to my brother Michael. He's not someone who finds it really easy to concentrate or to accept the authority of teachers, so he's not having the easiest time of it this year. Conversely however, he's smart and enjoys learning, so he's not having as bad a time as many other students. As long as he can stay focused, keep his OCD tendencies* under control and keep his eyes on the prize he'll be just fine.

*He's not really OCD/OCPD he's just got a very particular way of looking at the word. I think this comic from xkcd explains it better than I could:


Where my wasted time becomes your wasted time...

So, I drop by this blog quite regularly and get a chuckle, or find something thoughtful and this is what I found today:

Doodle by Lee.

It's not even particularly relevant as I sit hear listening to the rain on what might be Sydney's coldest day this winter.

I was about to post links to some of the other blogs that I've been reading lately but I just got a call and friends are on their way over so I'll leave you with the two that I'm currently most obsessed with:
Anti-racist parent is not only for families like ours which include multiple ethnicities. It's a discussion of how we can bring our children up to be anti-racists (no, not colourblind, not post-race but anti-racist).
Leelo and his Potty-Mouthed Mom is the blog of a woman who has three kids, one of them autistic. The love and humour shine through her writing and she gives us a little window onto her busy life. I've been reading it for ages and enjoy how much she gives of herself.

I had better update that link list really soon too, because there's lots more good stuff I want to share!


Overdue Update

Well, our houseguest Ciaran, the lovely Irish cousin has left on Monday, Asher is in bed singing himself to sleep and Sanj is out at a farewell dinner, so I will ignore the housework and provide a quick update.

Still no job for Sanj, but I'm pleased to report that he has already had an interview and been asked back for a second interview. The bad news is that if he gets this job it will be less $$ and he won't have any time off between jobs (no tropical get-away for us!). The good news is that he will be employed (duh!) and that it's a job that would give him really good experience. At present he doesn't have any sales experience and he knows more about Aussie wine than overseas wine so this job selling boutique overseas brands would really fill a knowledge/experience gap. I won't say anymore about it now, as he hasn't got an offer and we don't want to jinx things.

Asher is still going to 'Kindy' (childcare) on Wednesdays and Thursdays and doesn't seem to really be settling in much. I'm still not overjoyed about the whole situation - far more conflicted than I ever thought I would be before I had kids. I think I might make some time to talk to the director about the fact that there the room Asher is in still has only one permanent staff member and one casual because that's not helping my state of mind and it's something that concrete that I can address.

Apart from that though, he's doing so well! He was up til 9 at night a few times while Ciaran was staying with us without melting down and his language is really coming along with 4, 5 and even 6 word strings becoming more common. (to say they were sentences might be pushing it. They don't always have verbs, but it's usually easy to work out what he wants). He's also starting to have little conversations with his tiny mates. Megan heard one the other day when both boys were in the car:

M: My pants - star!

A (looking at the red star on Miles pants): Yellow star?

M: Red star!

A: Yes.

He loves being chased around the house or park by one of us, calling out "Chase 'im!" as he runs away, because that's what we do. His favourite food is probably olives (pasta with olives and melted cheese is a favourite dinner). He knows I drink cappuccinos while Sanjay drinks flat whites. He loves all his grandparents, aunties and uncles and refers to them by name. He loves trains and buses, loves spotting them and getting to have a ride on them and he can spend ages playing with his trains (a mixed bag of Ikea and Thomas and Brio), either by himself or with a friend or one of us.

As for me, well, apart from being pretty torn about having Asher in childcare, I'm really happy! Life is more balanced than it's ever been for me - I'm enjoying work, where I'm learning about training and the VET sector, I'm about to get some training in a learning management system called Moodle and hopefully at some point in the future I'll be able to pull this new knowledge together with my previous experience, and create a new career for myself. As well as enjoying work I'm getting to see enough of my family and now it's time to work on connecting with some old friends who I've neglected a bit in the rush of daily life.

Of course, since everything is so smooth I'm trying to make life difficult for myself by getting a severe case of wanderlust. I think it's a combination of having Ciaran around for a while and talking with him about his travels, reading books like Bill Bryson's Notes on a Small Island and Salman Rushdie's Enchantress of Florence (both excellent!) and just having life travel smoothly by. I'm just going to have to deal though, coz I can't see us going anywhere past Port Macquarie for a long, long time.


Time for a change....

Well, it's happened. Sanjay, along with about 30 of his colleagues, were made redundant late last week. It's a bit of a surprise but really couldn't have happened at a better time - I am working, our mortgage is manageable, I'm not pregnant* and Sanj has been talking about making a change sooner rather than later. Anyway, I've been thinking and I think that basically the pros and cons go like this:

  • Pros: A severance package (!), it forces the change that he's been talking about and a 'career management' package from Hudson.
  • Cons: Holy fuck, we have a kid and a mortgage and only one poorly-paying, part-time job between us.
So, on balance things should be fine, right? Please send any well-paying, Sydney-based wine education jobs with great companies this way...

*I'm not pregnant and I don't want to be. Don't get any ideas.


Emerging Grammar

I was crowing the other day about how Asher seemed to have worked out that there was such a thing as grammar in language. We were at the zoo and Asher told me he had 'seed' the giraffes. As soon as he said it I was all excited - just like I was waiting for his first four-word sentence I was waiting to see when he would get that there was such a thing as grammar. Up until now if he used any kind of grammar (tenses etc) I couldn't be sure whether he was copying words he'd heard but hearing him make a mistake when applying a rule (in this case not using the exception) means that he's worked out that there are such things as rules to make tenses.

It didn't occur to me until several days later (when I was boring Elvira with my excitement) that many people would just correct the kid an not think anymore about it, but for me the way little kids acquire language and all it's complex rules and exceptions is nothing short of miraculous, and I feel so lucky to be able to watch it in my boy and his little friends.

The picture is of Asher and my cousin Ciaran at the zoo. Ciaran was trying to take photos of the giraffes with the harbour and city skyline in the background and Asher wanted to help. Ciaran was really lovely with him, endlessly patient with Asher's camera obsession and letting Asher fill the entire CF card with wonky images.


Yet Another Snotty Cold

This is really getting too much! I've been dutifully taking my echinacea and drinking my 'cold and flu' herb tea but again I'm stuck sneezing and snotty while my nostrils get sore from the constant wiping. I had planned to write a rundown of Asher's birthday, and how I feel about my baby being 2 but I just can't find it in me. Instead I'll just post a photo of my little boy blowing out the candle on his birthday cake. I apologise to him for not being able to find the birthday candles and hope he'll forgive me for using a tea light candle. You will also note that it's not really a kids birthday cake - well that's because this is the last year in a long time that I will be able to get away with making a rather adult cake (It's Nigella Lawson's 'Easy Almond Cake' from Domestic Goddess). And for the party on Saturday I'm making a number two cake.


Another milestone. And this time I'm not excited about it.

This one isn't so good though! A few weeks ago, maybe a month, Asher got bitten by one of the other kids. She sank her teeth into his shoulder, through jumper and t-shirt and still managed to give him a bruise. Today Asher gave another kid a serious bite - unfortunately that kid was Miles, and today is his birthday! No one saw what happened - the kids were playing behind a cubby house - and Miles started to cry in a way that I haven't heard very often. Not only was he obviously in pain, but he sounded kind of shocked that anyone could do such a thing. Asher came straight over to me and I asked him if he needed to apologise to Miles. He told me 'yes' and we went over and gave Miles an apologetic pat. Because no one had seen what happened I didn't feel like I could get really stuck into the discipline but I felt awful. The teeth marks were really deep and up near the third knuckle on Miles right hand. I'm just pleased the bite didn't break the skin! I really hope this was a one off and not the start of a biting phase - particularly the first week Asher starts at childcare!

Anyhow, Happy birthday little Miles! I hope you grow from being a strong and happy toddler to being a strong and happy boy, and later a strong and happy man. You are truly lucky to have a mum who will support you and guide you on your journey. I hope you will continue to be a great friend and protector to Asher and that you and your little mates will have many years of enjoying cake together!


The Childcare Conundrum

Well, I'm all twisted up about the childcare situation again (still?). We went in this morning again to hang out and get Asher used to the place and it didn't go that well. The director was away again (she was away on Monday when we went) but this time there was a replacement, which is a good sign. When we went into the room however, the carer, A, was reading a story to the kids. She's a nice woman but her first language isn't English and she's not a natural story-reader. There was a another young woman there who I assume was a casual, filling in for the staff member who left recently. I described her to Sanjay on the phone as 'breathing meat' because she just sat there, and didn't seem to be listening to the story, and she didn't join in the singing afterwards (I did!) and as the morning progressed she barely interacted with any of the kids. I've also realised that there has been very little smiling or laughing going on amongst the children which adds to the sick-to-the-stomach anxiety I'm feeling.

I really don't know whether I should plow on despite my misgivings or pull the plug on the whole thing immediately. I really can't tell if I'm uncertain about it because the centre and the care isn't up to scratch, or simply because it's a big change and my baby is growing up and beginning to have a life separate from me. Normally I'm pretty good at separating my headcake from external reality (or I like to think I am, anyway!) but in this situation, where 'gut feel' is the best way to work out if this centre is right for us, I'm feeling really lost.


And now, on a completely different note, I'd like to wish little Audrey a very happy second birthday:

...I'd also like to congratulate Karen on surviving two years as a mum, and doing such a good job at it too! Thanks for being a great Aunty to Asher and a good friend for me!



Well, he hasn't escaped from his cot again, but he did pile his blanket, baby and 'hound' up in the corner of the cot and get the picture off the wall, complete with hook, the other day. Thankfully it was a canvas so there was no broken frame/glass/toddler involved (and thankfully the canvas survived too!).

The 'twins' enjoying a milkshake after a run at the park. I got enough time to drink my coffee in a civilized manner!

He is growing up in other ways though. I have really been enjoying my day a week doing paid work and so we started putting our names on waiting lists at local childcare centres. In a perfect world I'd prefer to continue with our arrangement and have Megan look after Asher, but it isn't going to be practical for any of us now (which breaks my heart a little bit). Megan has made the decision to move back with her mum for a bit, for all sorts of difficult personal reasons, and although I'm going to miss her terribly I know she's only 25 minutes away, and if I use chocolate as bait she'll probably still come and visit me and bring some sanity on cranky-kid afternoons. I've learnt so much about dealing with toddlers and keeping me sane and them happy from her and I'm not sure that would have happened if she hadn't been only five minutes stroll away and happy to hang out with us. The boys will also miss our impromptu trips to the park and general hanging out but I'm quietly confident that we'll still see them a fair amount. On a really positive note her move has been the straw that broke the camels back on the driving front and I've had my first lesson and booked in for my second. One practise driving hour down, one-hundred-and-nineteen to go before I'm legally allowed to drive by myself.

Anyhow, this isn't a perfect world and not everybody's life revolves around Asher, so childcare it is. We got lucky and were offered a place at a local childcare centre* and, after having me visit, then Sanjay visit, we're taking the place. I wanted just to put him in on Wednesdays, while I work, but they only take kids for two-or-more days a week (because the kids settle in better), so Asher will be going along on Wednesday and Thursday. He will be starting on the 25th of June, the day before his second birthday and I will pick up an extra day at work so I will be doing paid work on both days. Between now and when he starts we get to go in there as much as we like for orientation. This morning we went at about 10:45 and left around midday - Asher got to have a play inside, eat lunch then play outside and we left as all the other kids were going to get on their little stretcher beds and go to sleep. After he got the hang of being there he did really well, following the other kids when it was time to go for lunch, sitting and eating at the table, putting his bowl and spoon in the right place when he had finished his meal, etc. I think the structure and routine of childcare will really suit Asher, and after the inevitable teething problems I think we'll it'll be OK. It still won't be the same care that we give him but I'm pretty sure we're not going to break him by putting him in good quality care two days a week, and I want to review the whole situation a month or two after he starts.

* I was about to name the childcare centre and include a link, but I figured I might want to keep it private. Perhaps I'll need to vent about them here at some later stage and I don't want to get sued for defamation!


Oh shit!

I put Asher into his cot for his daytime snooze about two an hours ago, with a song and a cuddle as I usually do. I could hear that he wasn't asleep, but I ate some lunch and then was cleaning the bathrooms (not playing around on Facebook or reading forums, really) when I heard sounds coming from what sounded like just behind Asher's door. I ve-r-y quietly opened the door a crack and saw him sitting, with his back almost against the door, playing with his toys.



He's been happily playing about in his room, with his 'play-house'* and his garage for over an hour now. Even though he hasn't slept for his usual hour or two of he'll be OK 'coz he's had quiet time.

I'm really not ready for him to start escaping regularly! We rely on the cot as a containment mechanism, so he can't get out and play during the night and so that even if he spends some time playing with his baby and stuffed animals he'll usually have some sleep in his cot during the day. I was planning on waiting until he potty trained himself before we moved him into a 'big bed' (as he'll obviously need to escape his sleeping place to use the potty when he's not wearing a nappy). I'll let you know if it happens again, but for now, I had better go and get him, as he's starting to call out for me.

* the play-house is really a dolls house, a very male-toddler-appropriate one, that I got cheap on eBay. Sanjay didn't like the idea of his son playing with a dolls house so before I bid on it I sold the idea to him by telling him it was a play-house.

A guided tour through Asher's bookshelf

So, I promised a book review or two and I realise, as I read some other reviews, that I'm basically crap at reviewing. I guess that's why I did so poorly in English at school, because I really do like to read. I wonder why? I'm certainly critical enough. So instead of calling these 'reviews' lets call this post a 'book guide for babies.'

It's not an exhaustive list of Asher's books, but they are some of our current favourites (he's almost two). I've put them in alphabetical order, so don't feel like I'm playing favourites, and the book links are mostly to Amazon.com, although you should ideally purchase books from your local independent book retailer!

Janet and Allen Ahlberg - Each Peach Pear Plum
Divine illustrations and beautiful rhyme make this book great. It's possibly a little old for Asher because he doesn't 'get' most of the nursery-rhyme and fairy-tale allusions and he doesn't understand looking for the characters but he keeps asking us to read it, so he must like it.

Pamela Allen - Mr. McGee and the Biting Flea
We had 'Fancy That' by Pamela Allen as well, but that was so well-loved that it got ripped, because it is a paper rather than a board book, and we don't have a replacement yet. I believe that this is one of those books that is going to encourage literacy because of the repetition of the 'ow, oo, ee' sounds. It's fun enough to read and the illustrations of Mr. McGee struggling out of all of his clothes are priceless.

Sandra Boynton - Moo, Baa, La La La
This book is a surreal look at animal sounds. The rhythm and rhyme are great in Sandra's books and the drawings are cute and quirky enough to keep the adults entertained through many, many readings. We also have But Not the Hippopotamus which I think Asher likes but I find a bit ummm.... sad? Forgive the spoiler but the hippo gets left out of everything until the end of the book when she joins in with the others. It's reads more lonely than it sounds when I put it like that and I just don't like it as much. One of the advantages of both of these books is that they are really short - good for little kids with short attention spans, and good for kids who are meant to be in bed but need a story.

Rod Campbell - Dear Zoo
Another classic (and very sturdy or well designed for a lift-the-flap book - our copy has no injuries so far!). Asher loved this book from very early on. He liked, and still likes, turning the pages and lifting the flaps and making the appropriate animal noises. He still won't tell us what a camel sounds like though.

Eric Carle - The Very Hungry Caterpillar
This book is a classic, and it's famous for a reason, it truly appeals to young children and adults don't mind repeated readings. I personally am not much of a fan of the illustrations but Asher seems to love it (I prefer the delicacy and detail of Allison Lester, Janet and Allan Ahlberg and the Lynley Dodd books).

Lynley Dodd - Slinky Malinki
Although we have various others in the Hairy Maclary series this one is my personal favourite. I don't know if it's because we had it first or because of the sheer joy of the language but I really love reading this book aloud. The drama, the fun-to-read language and the beautiful, detailed illustration make for a really lovely book.

P.D. Eastman - Are you my Mother
I loved this book as a child and so recently purchased the board book for Asher. We haven't read it very much but already it's becoming a favourite. I think he's confused about the digger being called a Snort though! This fabulous review explains the book and some misgivings around it's content it much better than I can...

Mem Fox and Judy Horacek - Where is the Green Sheep
OK, make 'Slinky Malinky' my *joint* read-aloud favourite with Green Sheep - this book is unadulterated reading aloud pleasure, and would be top of my list for books for babies. It'll probably get included in most baby shower gifts I give from now on. This book really spells out what things are, so it's great for babies just as they are learning that words connect to things and to concepts ('near' 'far' 'moon' 'star') and it continues to be a great book for toddlers who are working out shapes, concepts and colours. (Check Judy Horacek's site for hilarious cartoons)

Charles Fuge and Angela McAllister - Found You, Little Wombat
This one is still a bit old for Asher, but he asks for it regularly. He doesn't understand the idea of 'hide-and-seek' which is the premise of the story, but the illustrations are engaging and it has good narrative tension. As long as it treads the line between trying to fit too much 'story' in while still being simple enough for the very young this will probably become a favourite for all of us.

Helen Nicoll and Jan Pienkowski - Meg and Mog
I suspect that this book is the one that will help Asher learn to read. I'm not a huge fan, mostly because of the ending, but I like how clear it is and how the words really relate to the text so perfectly. I guess that's what you get for having a strong collaboration between the author and the illustrator?

Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury - We're Going on a Bear Hunt
We go through phases of loving this one and times where he doesn't request it as much. I love the sequencing aspect of this book which is similar to Kiss, Kiss, but with better production values (better written, better illustration)

Dr. Seuss - One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
At this stage Asher is still to young for this classic, but because it was a favourite of mine as a little kid we have it, and we occasionally have a go at reading it to Asher. As his attention span grows he may be able to last a bit longer before his attention wanders. The cut down versions of this book (Such as 'Wet Pet, Dry Pet, Your Pet, My Pet' which is a 'touch and feel' book we have that Asher LOVES) are a great bet for little kids.

Margaret Wild and Bridget Strevens-Marzo - Kiss, Kiss!
I think this was Asher's fist ever book. I didn't really like the illustrations at first but it's grown on me and now it's one of everyone's favourites. I think the turning point came when Asher was really very little and I walked into the room to see him looking through the book making kissing noises. A very sweet book.

I have always read to Asher - when he was very small it was because I didn't know what else to do with him (we would lie on the bed and I'd read the only two books we owned - Kiss Kiss and Slinky Malinky - over and over again. I would change the way I read them in silly ways (try reading like a Pirate! Or like a Gregorian Chant! Or a newsreader!) to keep me amused but I would just keep reading. As he got a bit older we would both read to him, pointing out things in the picture, and but the time he was maybe seven months he was helping turn pages. Now we read a few books after the bath and before bed every night, as well as sometimes during the day. So now, when I occasionally get bored of the books we have, irritated with being asked to read the same book over and over or irritated by the high price of kids books I go to Mem Fox's website for a pick-me-up dose of literature love. I would encourage everyone, whether you have kids or not, to explore it a bit and make a point of reading books you love to any kids in your life.

Now I'd love some book suggestions for Asher (or for me!). Were you read to as a kid? What books did you love? Why? Do you read to the kids in your life now? What are your favourites to read? What are the kids' favourites?


Shock! Horror!

I may not have completed* the promised book reveiws today, but I did take a huge step in ticking off something that has been on my 'to do' list for the last ...oh, eighteen years or so. I spoke with a driving instructor, someone recommended by a friend-of-a-friend about getting some lessons. Unfortunately the guy is in holiday and is going to call me mid next week but he's happy to teach me on a manual - he has an automatic though so it will be in our car - is that a bad idea? I do hope he has a wonderful and relaxing time in Coffs Harbour before he tries to teach me to drive.

*I've started writing, promise.


New Trick

Our friend B always asks about Asher's new tricks so i'm considering Asher's first four-word sentence a trick. He's said four-word sentances before but always direct parroting of something I've said. This time it was all his own. At the park yesterday he told my mum "Franni go do it" to ask her to play with him (I just tried explaining that he wanted her to talk into the ear sculpture on the other side of the hill from the mouth sculpture but it sounded really weird. I'll have to give details of our favourite local park another day).

Anyhow, he hasn't repeated his 'trick' yet but nevertheless I'm going to honour the occasion by reviewing his favourite books tomorrow. I want a record of what he likes and what I like and perhaps it'll help someone else in choosing books for their kid.


Not just the grumps!

I realised, while I was throwing up in the early hours of this morning, that yesterday's grouchiness was probably brought on by the tummy bug that I appeard to have. I certainly didn't consume nearly enough of that promised white wine! Last Friday Asher threw up most of the night and I was later to learn that his little mate M was sick that night too. I was selfishly glad (although, of course, very sorry for poor M and his mummy!) because I could be pretty sure it was just a tummy bug and not an accidental food poisening or something more sinister. So I've spent the entire day today shuffling between the bed, the couch and the toilet as Sanjay stayed home from work and hung out with Asher.

Asher is a bundle of boisterous toddler and when Sanjay says that "mummy's tummy hurts" Asher gives it a kiss and announces "better" just like I do with his many, many minor injuries. It's very cute for that moment, but then of course he wants to leap all over me, the couch, everything. I think his energy levels are soaring again which I guess is the beginning of what people like to call the 'terrible twos' - I was actually talking about this with some of the Crowie Mummies Posse the other day and we were laughing at how when the little people started to assert their will at around 1 we thought that was as tough as it was going to get. Now we are all getting the full-on melt-down tantrums (Asher usually keeps his for home at the moment unless he gets really cold or hungry - lucky me), some of us are getting hitting, the food refusal power trip and all the other things two year olds are famed for. I like to say that I don't negotiate with terrorists but it would be closer to the truth to say that I try to maintain consitancy in the face of all his toddler cunning. I try to take a mental step back and evaluate what is going on and whether Asher is looking for me to play with him or take him out for a change-of-scenery walk or whether he's trying to work out what is acceptable behaviour before I react. Sometimes, when he really presses my buttons, I give myself a time-out and hide for a minute or two in the kitchen (behind the baby gate) the laundry or outside - wherever I have stuff to do. When 'the experts' talk about time-outs they generally suggest not more than a minute for every year of the childs age and I just wish I could have *ahem* over half an hour to regain my equilibrium.

Hah! I should have eaten more than a couple of crackers today - if I had it's possible that this post would be a brief pity party over my illness rather than the extended mix it's become. Ah well at least it's something.
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Too grouchy to blog

Yep, I can't write anything because I'm afraid my grumpy-ness will ooze out of the monitor and give you all a bad day. I'm assuming it's just PMS, the almost constant back pain and dealing with the grouchy toddler.

OK, I'm off to eat mussels that Sanjay cooked and drink copious quanitities of white wine - self-medicating with alcohol is so sensible and responsible isn't it?

Happy Mothers' Day to me

A beautiful new Cuprinox saute pan, Coffee and a muffin by myself and averting disaster to the main dish of our dinner party made for my best Mothers' Day ever.


Another day, another dollar...

...And, although it really is only a few dollars, I'm loving the work thing! I'm loving using my brain to sort out detailed and complex problems. I'm loving using my rusty MS Word skills to clean up this set of documents. I'm loving that the people around me appreciate what I do, and put their appreciation into words (that can't always be said for toddlers!). I'm loving working with my mum, because it makes it easy for me to do a good job. I'm also loving having a small amount of time away from Asher because it makes coming home to him in the evening so sweet. Last night it seemed as though he'd grown taller and begun to put more complex sentances together in the space of the day.

So, I think I can safely say that I want to keep working and I'll have to start thinking about what I'll do when this 10 week thing finishes. I have started looking into getting a childcare placement for Asher for two days a week because it seems like my mother-in-law might not be keen to look after him, and the rediculously small amount I'm paying Megan (half what I earn) isn't sustainable for her (even if she insists otherwise!).

It's interesting that most of the mummies I know with kids around Asher's age are putting them in daycare, even for half a day a week (if they can afford it!). It's as though these little people, who have so intensly needed their mums are becoming herd animals and prefer the company of their own kind. I'd really like to find a great centre, not too big and nice and close that has a Montessori-influenced, child focussed philosophy. I'd like them to have Wednesdays and Thursdays free and not charge us anything either, but that's probably starting to push my luck a bit.

Anyhow, because I'm so cheerful today let me share the joy with this pic of Asher and his best mate M sitting on his little couch after their bath in their matching PJs. They were drumming their feet on the ground and laughing their cute little heads off:


Picture Perfect

I know two posts in one day is unheard of here, but I keep meaning to post more pictures. It shouldn't be hard but for some reason it seems to be, so I'm breaking the picture drought with this one. This is my favourite photo of Asher in ages - we went to see "The Drum" which was one of the Sydney Opera House Babies Proms and afterwards we had a coffee and the kids (Audrey, Miles, Sophie and Asher) ran around having fun. Clearly the whole outing was a tremendous success and I'm looking forward to seeing Jazz with them in October!
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The Work Thing

For me, things tend to go straight from being stalled to full speed ahead. That's what happened this time with the paid work thing. I had been telling everyone I wanted to do a day or two a week in paid employment but hadn't really been applying for jobs or even looking online for jobs really then Franni rang me up with a completely flexible solution. I'm working for the organization she works for, directly for her, doing one of my favourite things. They call it 'data entry' but what I'm doing is cleaning up a huge mess that Franni made with a bunch of documents, then I'll be interpreting her cryptic scribbles and writing documentation for her. They aren't paying me enough!

Leaving Asher for the day was far easier than I expected - he was with his 'aunty' Megan and her lovely little boy and she is always be my absolute number one choice to care for Asher when Sanj and I aren't about. They all know each other very well and I feel like Asher is in safe hands.

I must rush to take Asher out to playgroup now, but I can't describe how good it felt to go and get a coffee on my way to work yesterday without having to amuse anyone, and then to file onto the train with the other commuters and then go and sit downstairs where no prams or strollers go. I felt, for the first time in ages, like an adult, and like myself as I used to know myself.


This post is brought to you by Another Rainy Day

Before I had a child of my own I though people with kids were nuts when they complained about the extra laundry that kids generated. Back then, in my previous child-free existence, I did one or maybe two loads of washing a week, it was awkward doing separate loads for whites and colours because I just didn't have that much to do. The colours were OK because I wore lots of jeans and black things but inevitably I'd be scrounging around trying to find more white things to wash.

So, the big question, how much extra laundry do kids really generate? Their clothes aren't very big so even though they might go through more than one outfit every day it should really add much bulk? Should it? Unfortunately the answer is that even one small, relatively clean, kid will generate more loads of laundry than I ever thought possible. And the cloth nappies we used on him when he was little barely added anything (although we were only part-time in cloth). It's amazing. I think the core of the issue isn't washing their clothes though, it's washing everything that they throw up on (when they are tiny), smear food on (when they get a bit bigger) or wee/poo on (hoping this stops after potty training!). I now average one load of laundry a day and I keep thinking that it'll get easier after our current stage, but I suspect that it will get back to a manageable level when Asher leaves home. Can anyone out there give me some idea of what to expect?

That's enough blethering-on about washing clothes - it's time to take action, despite the rainy weather this week, and put another load in the washing machine and throw things in the dryer that have been sitting on line for a day. Ho hum - perhaps I'll post about my burgeoning eBay addiction next....


Family Meals

Before Asher came into our lives I would happily talk to anyone who would stand still long enough about the wonders of family meals. I firmly believed that families who ate together were more likely to communicate more and therefore be more functional and happy. I believed the dark hints I made about poor family communication being one of the causes so many societal ills. The only exception in my mind was the great Friday night in - key components of which are loved ones, a glass of wine, the couch and something funny on TV.

After all this talk Sanjay and I figured we should put our money where our mouth is and try and teach Asher good eating habits by modelling them ourselves. Although we almost always eat breakfast together we rarely eat other meals together at home. Lunch is a kind of snack-y nibble on sandwiches, fruit and crackers between 10 and 12:30 and there is often an afternoon snack of some kind but then we feed Asher his dinner at 5:30 or 6pm and then the adults eat after Asher is in bed. So yesterday Sanjay and I planned to have dinner all together as a family. We chose to cook something we though he might eat and Sanjay arranged to be home by 5:45 so no one would be too tired or grouchy.

Unfortunately all my rose-tinted smugness crashed into the cold hard reality of eating with a toddler last night. Before we even got to the table I was just fed up with the whole thing. I was sore and tired and had no conversation for poor Sanjay. Asher had been cranky all day and wanted to bang his bowl on the table more than eat. In an effort to increase the togetherness quotient of the meal we were eating out of the same melamine bowls as Asher, and although they are rather nice and completely adult (white with a fun aqua stripe and a groovy pattern) it still felt a bit like a picnic. I'm not sure whether it was the fact that I ate my entire bowl of creamy, bacon-y pasta in about two minutes, or whether it was having to eat my sanctimonious pre-baby words, but I felt decidedly queasy by the time we had all finished.

I'm not sure where we go from here. I really enjoy the glass of wine and the quiet and calm of our meals after Asher's bedtime but I really do want to make a tradition of family meals. Do we just keep trying? What can we do to make it more pleasant for me? Do we really have to do it every week? Can I have two quick beers before we start so I'm tipsy enough to not care about the noise and the mess? I'm not sure alcohol-as-a-coping-strategy is really what I want to model for our impressionable youngster...


Easter Update

Well, there's no doubt about it, 4 hour car trips, without much sleep really are beneficial when it comes to teaching toddlers to recite numbers. After singing Twinkle Twinkle, How Much is that Doggie in the Window, Baa Baa, Mary had a Little Lamb, I'm a Little Teapot, Open, Shut Them, If you're Happy and You Know It, etc we were really sick of singing and sick of listening to each other so we started with counting. Asher can now pretty reliably say the numbers, in order, from one to 5, in both English and Hindi. I was going to call it 'counting' but although I'm pretty sure he understands the concept of one-object-for-one-number he doesn't really have the hang of it yet. Which I guess isn't that surprising since we really only started with the idea last Saturday on the long drive north to my mum's place (and the kid is only 21 months).

The holiday itself was just fabulous. More and more Asher is happy to be entertained by his Aunties, Uncles and Grandparents, making it more and more of a holiday for Sanjay and I each time we go up there. It helps tremendously that the weather is still really warm so everyday we went to the beach to play in the sand and swim so the little dude gets tuckered out and is keen to get to sleep.

As well as spending a few days at Mum's we went to Port Macquarie where Sanjay's parents were holidaying with friends. I didn't have a great day part of that was an upset tummy which I will whinge about in another post if it continues but what really added to my grouchiness was having to hide in the hotel bathroom so as not to disrupt my child while he was going to sleep. Asher just giggled and shrieked and rolled around his travel cot while the other adults had lunch in a pub overlooking the water and I sat and read the crappy Sunday paper on the bathroom floor. I was grouchy and bitter for an hour or two but I managed to build a little bridge and get the hell over it soon enough.

Anyhow, I think this picture sums up the Easter break for me:

...and there's more where that came from on Flickr.


Earth Hour

I'm all for events that raise the public consciousness about environmental issues and I'm all for being more frugal with electricity generally, particularly with turning off brightly lit advertising, however there's something about Earth Hour that doesn't quite sit right with me. Earth Hour was apparently dreamt up with the idea that turning off the lights for one hour will deliver a powerful message about the need for action on global warming.

I think the questions on Lee's Blog (which I recently discovered) are very pertinent - are the power companies on board with this, understanding that there will be a dramatic decrease, then a surge, in demand? The Earth Hour FAQ says that coal fired (and gas and hydro) power stations respond to the power demand and therefore "it is very likely Earth Hour will cause a reduction in fossil energy power generation" which doesn't really sound that promising in terms of actually decreasing fossil fuel consumption to me.

What do people do while they have their lights off? Apart from spending some quality time together in their bedrooms (!) almost every activity needs some light. I don't think you are really in the spirit of the thing if you watch TV or surf on the 'net (no live blogging!) and since Asher will be asleep we can't take a stroll around the neighborhood. So what to do for light? Candles? The battery powered lantern that Eithne took camping that we now have? Ah, candles....

The Earth Hour FAQ gives all the usual safety warnings about candles and says:

If you plan on burning candles during Earth Hour, make sure you use 100% beeswax
candles which are gentler on our planet – smoke free, non-toxic and
non-allergenic. They are also made of natural products, not petroleum-based
materials, so they are effectively carbon neutral (the CO2 they emit has already
been taken from the atmosphere to produce the wax).

Now, apart from the fact that people should use whatever candles they already have at home so as not to increase candle production I tend to agree that they should use beeswax candles. However, I have a major problem with the idea that because they were produced with CO2 from the atmosphere and will release their CO2 back into the atmosphere, they are carbon neutral. Coal was once a plant material that got it's CO2 from the atmosphere so burning it is 'carbon neutral'? I don't think so. Light bulbs, particularly the modern long-life low-wattage bulbs are pretty efficient at creating light, much more efficient than candles. How much CO2 does an average candle emit when burnt? Letters to the SMH claim between 15g and 220g (although I suspect that the last estimate requires all the wax to be burnt, which it wouldn't be with a beeswax candle).

So, despite my cynicism, I will turn the lights off for Earth Hour, in fact I'll turn pretty much everything off. Just like last year, Sanjay and I will play Scrabble by candle-light and hope that as we all unplug we think of ways to keep things turned off for longer - read, talk, make music or play games instead of using computers and the TV and leave things turned off at the wall so they don't consume power while on standby, drive less, consume less, recycle their aluminium foil as well as their cans, lobby to have advertising signs turned off late at night, take our own bags and, as we do these things, I hope we feel productive and content.