Sunday, February 28, 2010

No. I mean yes. I mean no. I mean ...whatever

Phoebe's latest thing is shaking her head. I'm not really sure why but now I remember noticing her little friend Ruby doing it a few months ago.

Sometimes I offer her food and she shakes her head. It means "no". If I continue to offer her the food she pushes it away, shakes her head again and then turns away from the food. It clearly means "no". Which makes sense. A shake of the head always means "no".

In most people.

Other times I offer her food and she shakes her head. Then opens her mouth and lunges towards said food. She heartily eats it. Clearly, the head shake did not mean "no". Did it mean "yes"? Did it mean "no, oh alright then, you've twisted my arm"? Or did it mean "I don't really know. But as it's there I may as well"? I really have no idea.

A colleague told me a story about his two year old son who will have a tantrum at the dinner table demanding a biscuit but when one is offered to him he pushes it away and yells "no biscuit".

Children are very confusing

Sometimes Phoebe shakes her head and there is no food anywhere to be seen. She smiles and seems to be doing it just for the fun of it. Perhaps she just likes the sensation. Maybe it's "just a phase".


Friday, February 19, 2010

One year since we arrived home from hospital

A year ago today at around this time I took my tiny baby home from hospital in 32C heat. (And then spent the next month on the sofa breastfeeding her.)

I hadn't seen the outdoors in 5 days, apart from a brief trip to a restaurant the night before. (Champagne and oysters - yum!)

I saw a very young baby yesterday, all sleeping and flopping on its mother's shoulder and I thought "wow! I really had forgotten that Phoebe was ever that small". 


A few days ago I bought her her first pair of soft-soled shoes.

I remember when I could take her out anywhere in the pram and she'd just sleep. Of course I had to take a ton of nappies with me. And every one I changed was pooey. But I never had to take food for her.

Now, I can walk to the bathroom saying, "come on, let's brush your teeth," and she follows me. She gets all excited about brushing her teeth because she likes to suck the toothpaste off the brush. She doesn't like to actually brush. Or spit. Or rinse.

I have to strap her into her high chair or she escapes and climbs across the table or bench.

In one year!


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Phoebe's first birthday

It's hard to believe but our baby has been with us for a whole year.

It has gone so fast and yet so much has happened. So many milestones have been reached. So many memories have been made.

It has been the most wonderful time of my life. Sure, there were days when I called Toby in tears because I was tired and Phoebe was grumpy and wouldn't sleep. Sure, getting her into a good daytime nap routine, and teaching her to fall asleep alone were difficult challenges. But those grumpy days were mercifully few and far between, and the joys and adventures have far outweighed any low points.

There have been so many firsts.
The first breastfeed. The first car ride. The first walk with the pram. Which ended in near-disaster when the brake broke at the end of the rivermouth rock wall, 2km from the car. Whilst I carried Phoebe, Toby had to push the pram back on its front wheels because the back wheels were stuck tight. Thankfully she was only a week old and not very heavy. The same could not be said for the pram.

Then there was the first time she sat up unaided. Which was closely followed by the first time she rolled. Which was closely followed by the first time she escaped from the inflatable donut at Nana's house. And that was closely followed by the first time she crawled. Which, in turn was closely followed by the first time she pulled herself up to standing. Wow! What a crazy few weeks that was.

And whilst all that was going on we had our first plane journey all the way back to England where Phoebe met her Geordie relatives for the first time. There were many more firsts on that trip, including the first tooth and the first taste of ice cream.

The first solids were fun. As was the first time she smeared avocado in my hair. And the first time she splattered bolognese sauce all over the floor, wall, fan, and any other furniture (or animal) that happened to get in the way. The first tastes of chocolate and cake went down well.

The first time she slept through the night at ten weeks old was a bit of a blessing. The first time she slept through the night again, and then continued to do so at 9 months was more so.

I could go on all day with a list of firsts: first swim, first play in the toddler pool, first go on a swing. (Actually that last one happened whilst in a sling worn by Daddy at around 6 months, much to Mammy's concern.) But I shall cease now and get on with the business of telling you all about her birthday.

So, another big first. First birthday.
Something of a milestone and what not. So, we thought let's have a party. But she's only one so we'll keep it small. We decided to invite a few friends and throw a sausage sizzle in the park. Nothing too flash. I have years ahead of me to faff around with kid's birthday parties. I don't intend to start just yet. Besides, I'm a working mother. I don't have the time.

36 friends, 75 sausages, 4 loaves of bread and 1 number-one-shaped m&m covered cake later...

The cake ...
...was a saga in itself. It was the one thing I thought about putting any effort into. I still wanted to keep it fairly simple though. I figured a number one would be easy enough. Just one loaf for the main bit and another for the triangle bit. Then a friend showed me a picture in a cake book and I decided to go a bit fancy and add the flat bit along the bottom and then cover it in multi-coloured sweets.

That particular recipe called for 3 packs of cake mix. Well, I was already cheating with the frosting (Betty Crocker, at my sister-in-law's advice). I darn well wasn't going to cheat with the cake too. I found a recipe for plain cake. Then, in the same book I found another recipe for plain sponge cake. For a few days I failed to notice that they were actually two different recipes. Then, having done the shopping I wondered why half the ingredients I'd bought didn't appear in the recipe. That's when the penny dropped. I then deliberated for quite some time over whether to do a plain cake or a sponge cake. I wasn't entirely sure I even knew the difference. Toby told me sponge cake is difficult and now wasn't the time to experiment, so we chose the plain cake recipe.

I decided I should do twice as much as the recipe said, given that we had two tins to fill. As I filled the first tin Toby announced that he thought I hadn't done enough so we decided to do one more load of cake mix. Yes, that would make three times the original recipe. For a cake for a one-year-old. Then Toby told me he thought I'd put too much into the first tin. I scooped some out. If this sounds a bit confusing then that should give you a good impression of the general feel of what might have maybe been happening in the kitchen that night. I didn't know whether I'd made too much or too little, put too much in the tin or too little. Anyway, cake got shoved in oven and we sat down for dinner.

Forty minutes later cake was meant to be cooked. Cake wasn't cooked. Second cake was made and shoved in oven. First cake still wasn't cooked. It took over an hour and instead of coming out looking like a sort of rectangular prism shape, it was more like a mountain. Escaping. An escaping mountain. A volcano, if you like. It was crispy on the outside. In short, a complete disaster and we prepared ourselves for more cake baking the next day. Thank god we did this two nights before the party.

The second cake turned out okay and thankfully the first cake was salvageable. We cut it into shape, stuck the bits together with apricot jam and frosted it. Then began the uhmming and ahhring over the m&ms. Should we put them on now or in the morning? Don't they go all funny if you leave them in the fridge? Won't the colour run? I phoned Kaz to check. She thought it might but wasn't sure how long it would take. We decided we wouldn't have time to do it in the morning so I did it that night. Eventually the frosting began to melt and the sweets started to slide down the side of the cake. I stuck it back in the fridge, figuring I'd do the rest in the morning.

So next morning, lovely family time. Gave Phoebe a rocking giraffe from my grandparents and talked to my parents over skype whilst she opened her gifts from them. When she was having her nap I whipped the cake out of the fridge and started trying to stick more sweets to it. The frosting was a bit hard at first but as it began to soften, the colour began to run on the m&ms already on the cake. We had to shove it back in the fridge unfinished.

By the time we brought the cake back out again at the park the m&ms had all faded and were sporting coloured halos. No one seemed to notice or care. In fact many complimented me on a lovely looking cake. I smiled nervously wondering how I could put them off eating it, convinced it would be all dry and yukky after the volcano debacle. But what do you know? It was bloody yummy. Isn't that always the way? Especially with parties. The things you stress about the most either turn out okay or just don't really matter.

The party...
... itself was lovely. The mums from my two mums groups turned up with their families, along with Scott, Lucie and Amelie and Toby's family. It really wasn't all that big after all. Phoebe got lots of lovely presents and cards. The best moment was when we crowded around the cake and sang Happy Birthday to her (see video below). It was probably the third time that day she'd heard the song but when everyone sang her name she looked at me with this huge grin. Suddenly she realised that all the fuss and fun was for her and she loved it.

My daughter has taught me a lot these last 12 months: What it means to truly love someone so much that you'd do anything for them and always put them first. To be unselfish. How much my mother loves me. The importance of family. That banana stains if you don't rinse if off clothes immediately. That small children can fall on their head multiple times, sometimes from a great height, and not really hurt themselves.

Seeing her personality emerging is amazing. She is strong, funny, cheeky, and kind. She is brave and tenacious. Just tonight she was trying to get hold of the bottle of shower gel whilst in the bath. I put it to my right side and she walked around me to grab it. I moved it to my left side and she walked back around the other way. I put it to my right side and ... you get the picture. This went on for quite some time and I was sure she was going to scream with frustration. But she just kept on with a look of intense determination on her face.

And that pretty much sums her up. My Little Miss Chief. Here's to another wonderful twelve months, my little darling.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Master of sleep

I have just found this old unfinished post in my iPhone blogger app. One unfortunate thing about the app is that it doesn't seem to record the timestamp on a draft so I don't know when I wrote this. I would guess that it was about a month ago. Nevertheless I enjoyed reading it and I'm encouraged at how far we've come since then. Phoebe generally falls asleep within 5 or 10 minutes these days with minimal crying.

Here's the finished part of the original post:

I don't know if I dare type this in case it is a non-repeating event. Then again, if it doesn't happen again it should be noted that it did happen at least once. And it is rather exciting. So here goes...

Phoebe went to sleep tonight WITHOUT CRYING!!!

During the day she is generally pretty good and often falls asleep easily after babbling in her cot for ten minutes but still always screams for at least 30 seconds on me leaving her room.

At night, to date, she has screamed blue murder when I leave her room and has continued to do so for a minimum of 25 minutes. Let it be known that I do not leave her to cry for the full 25 minutes. Even if I thought it would be a good idea I don't think I could. I go in and comfort her every 5-10 minutes. Most nights I've had to do this at least twice. But tonight I didn't have to go in at all. Amazing.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Phoebe, a.k.a Houdini

I am in the process of developing that all-important parental skill: eyes everywhere at all times. The phrase "I need eyes in the back of my head", which I distinctly remember my mother using on more than one occasion, does not quite cut the mustard with Phoebe. Oh no! Phoebe is turning into quite the little escape artist and I need eyes all over the place. And hands.

When she's loose and wandering around the house she doesn't seem to get into quite so much trouble but twice in the last few weeks I have found her in precarious situations that she has managed to get herself into with me standing right by her.

The first such incident occurred at tea time. I sat Phoebe in her high chair and gave her a snack whilst I prepared her tea. Whilst she was tucking in I stood at the bench and chopped vegetables. At this point, it is important that I explain that the kitchen table is right in front of the bench so Phoebe was in my direct line of sight, only obviously I was watching what I was doing so that I could ensure that I was chopping vegetables and not my fingers. The next time I looked up Phoebe had climbed out of her high chair and was in the process of crawling across the table. Seriously, I'd been looking away from her for a few seconds. She was that fast.

The second incident happened at an outdoor store. I was at the checkout chatting to the lady. Phoebe was alongside me in her stroller. Suddenly the lady said "oh watch" and pointed towards the pram, which Phoebe was climbing out of . On all fours and with her head at the foot end of the seat. Dear me. Once again, I'd taken my eyes of her for a few seconds. The scary thing here was that, although I hadn't fastened the bar across her stroller, she was strapped in, yet somehow she managed to remove her legs from the straps and climb over them.

Needless to say, I have tightened the straps and now always securely fasten her in her pram and her high chair. I realise now those things are there for a reason.