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.
Posted by Picasa


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!
Posted by Picasa

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.