Saturday, December 17, 2011

Don't eat my birds

Zadie was sitting on the back of the sofa when a magpie flew past the window. She did that funny juddery cry that cats do when they're imagining killing a bird and crushing its bones between its teeth.

Phoebe was most concerned. She put her face next to Zadie's and tenderly stroked her neck.

"What's wrong my little cat? What's wrong? Are you okay?"

"I think she wants to eat the bird," I told her.

"It's okay, my little cat. It's okay. But don't eat my bird. He will eat you."

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The real meaning of Christmas

Tonight I explained to Phoebe that tomorrow, being the first of December, was a very exciting day because we get to start our advent calendars and count down the days until Christmas.

Phoebe nodded knowingly.

I explained that we had three calendars: one on the computer, another from Nana Joan where we cross off the days with chalk, and a very special one which I had filled with little surprises especially for Phoebe. And there's another one on the way from Nana with English Cadbury's chocolate for Mammy and Phoebe to share.

Phoebe thought about this for a while and then said, "I'm a girl and you are a girl."


Friday, November 25, 2011

"If" for Little Boys

I have just taken all of Asher's new baby cards down in preparation for putting some photos up and also Christmas cards. I couldn't help but read through a few of them, such precious memories of a very special time in my life: the birth of my last (intended) baby. I wanted to share the lovely words from this card from my Gran, who had two baby boys. They sum Ash up perfectly.
If he wins your heart the moment that his tiny life begins.
If he amuses you for hours with his giggles and his grins...

If he has a way of smiling that can steal your heart away.
If he grows more cute and lovable with each and every day...

If his eyes are filled with wonder and he doesn't miss a thing.
If he knows just what he likes and rules your household like a king...

If he fills your world with happiness, your life with pride and joy,
Then he's everything he should be - he's your darling baby boy!
In the bottom right-hand corner of the card my Gran has written "P.T.O" and hidden on the reverse of the paper lining of the card is the following:
"Unfortunately Chris & Mike changed in their teens!"
 Something to look forward to then. Until then I'll make the most of these wonderful pre-teen years.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sewing Project No. 5: Dorothy the Giraffe

This is another Melly & Me Mrs Perkins toy giraffe.

Phoebe saw me making Asher's giraffe about 6 months ago and kept asking if it was for her. So I took her shopping to a rather nice fabric shop so she could pick out the fabric for her own. Although I love Ash's giraffe I felt limited in having to go for gender-neutral fabrics. I was so excited about doing something girly as there really are some beautiful fabrics out there. But Phoebe fixated on the pinkest one she could find, a plain pink fabric with white spots. I tried to turn her attention to some beautiful floral and cupcake fabrics, prints with owls and others with cats or butterflies. But it was no use. She'd decided. And by then she was getting a bit too antsy for a nice quiet quilting shop. I chose the complimentary green fabric. If it was up to Phoebe the hooves would have been a plain pink.

Mrs Perkins No. 2 was originally named Gerry. Phoebe then decided that Dorothy the Dinosaur was a much better name. I persuaded her to drop the dinosaur bit.

Dorothy and Mrs Perkins are quite good friends and like to hang out and chat every now and then. I think Pinky and Perky would be quite good nicknames for them. Dorothy somehow ended up slightly bigger in the body than Mrs P. I think I must have misread the pattern notes. I felt like I rushed her a bit resulting in a bit of a square nose, misaligned hooves and more stuffing than the original. But she's really grown on me and the over-stuffing has resulted in a much sturdier toy. Phoebe loves her and takes her to bed with her every night. And that's the main thing. And I'm happy to say that Asher loves Mrs P too and particularly likes to chew her antlers. Which should put my sewing abilities to the test.

Sewing Project No. 4: Cloth Nappy Wipes (and The Story of The Needle In The Finger)

Here are some cloth nappy wipes I sewed for Asher. They're loosely based upon some I bought online for Phoebe which were the best wipes we had. Now the ones I made are the best ones we have if I do say so myself. They're made with cute flannelette and cheap terry towelling. Oh my god, I had no idea terry towelling was so expensive. I bought this a while ago but I seem to remember the proper stuff was about $20 a metre!

These were super easy to make. I simply pinned the two pieces of fabric together right sides out. Then I drew around an existing wipe. Then I sewed just inside the line, cut out around the line and then did an edging zig-zag stitch around the outside.

I made most of these when I was about 8 months pregnant and one day I lost concentration and hit my finger with the needle. There was a bit of an impact and my finger felt a bit sore but I set about trying to sort out my machine which was erroring. I then realised that I'd bent and snapped my needle. I looked all over for the end of it but couldn't find it anywhere. I replaced it and finished the wipe I was working on. It then occurred to me that the needle could actually be in my finger. I mean I couldn't see it anywhere else and my finger was getting quite sore. My nail was slightly cracked and there was a red mark on the finger pad. I was sure I could see the needle through my nail.

I realised I had to get it looked at at some point. I had a shower. I found it very hard to put any sort of pressure on my finger, which was the index finger of my right hand. Very inconvenient. My mind was going nuts trying to figure out what to do. What if I had to go to hospital? Who would pick up Phoebe from daycare? There was some reason why Toby couldn't do it that day - I can't remember why now. Perhaps he was in Brisbane for a meeting or something. I made a mental list of all the people I could ask. Or maybe I could pick her up myself, take her to my sister-in-law's for dinner and then go to hospital.

I walked down to the local medical centre in the hope they could sort it all out there. They slotted me in and I was seen very quickly. The doctor seemed quite excited at the prospect of doing minor surgery. I told him I was hoping he could just pull it out through the pad of my finger as I was sure I could see and feel it there. I didn't much fancy the thought of him going through the nail. At this point I was convinced that it had gone in through the pad of my finger for some reason. But of course, it had gone through the nail.

He was sure he could puncture a hole in my finger and pull it out with tweezers but he sent me for an x-ray so he could see where it was. If it was too far into my finger he'd have to send me off to hospital. It was late afternoon by now and both hospitals are 25 minute drives away. It would not be convenient to have to do that.

I scuttled up to the nearest radiology centre after the receptionist phoned ahead to make sure they were quiet. I phoned my obstetrician to confirm an x-ray was okay and was assured risks were minimal and that if the baby was born at that stage with breathing problems they'd x-ray it anyway. Apparently the amount of radiation used to x-ray a finger is very small.

Armed with my x-ray I headed back to the medical centre. The doctor was sure he could pull the needle out if I was happy to let him try. I didn't want to go to hospital so I let him. He didn't half faff around getting stuff ready, during which time a nurse with four grown-up children tried to persuade me to have more babies. Eventually he jammed another needle in my finger to inject some local anesthetic and then set to work. In no time at all he triumphantly held aloft the end of my sewing machine needle and then insisted on popping it in a specimen jar for me to take home as a memento.
I was done in time to collect Phoebe but the drive to daycare was a bit tricky. I took great pleasure in presenting my bandaged finger to anyone who would care to listen and telling them all about my gory story. My finger was quite sore for a while but thankfully fully recovered by the time I had a baby three weeks later.

The moral of the story is, if you're going to sew whilst heavily pregnant pay close attention to what you're doing and don't also try to watch episodes of The Prisoner.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sleep training, EASY routine and first solids

My beautiful boy is five months old today and finally I have something interesting to write about him. Unfortunately I don't have the time to write it. So in brief (ha! as if I can say anything in brief):

  • he now has two teeth, 
  • is almost sitting unaided,
  • travels around the floor extensively by twisting and rolling,
  • sits in the highchair whilst we're having dinner,
  • has tried an array of solids, including rice cereal, avocado, mango and roast dinner (more on this later),
  • and is being sleep trained.
Yes, I got a bit fed up of the snacking and catnapping, frequent night wakings and 3am parties so I pulled out my good old Baby Whisperer (Tracy Hogg) books, specifically The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems. It was a life saver with Phoebe and I'm hoping it'll be the same with Ash. Rather than try to figure out what was causing the various problems I decided I had to get him onto Tracy's EASY (Eat, Activity, Sleep, Your time) routine and teach him how to fall asleep in his cot. Up until then I'd been jiggling him, which meant swaddling him, putting him in the sling and then bouncing on the bed or the fitball. Seriously, parents of young babies are ridiculous.

Until about a week ago Asher was only pooing once every four or five days and sometimes he would seem a bit uncomfortable with it. Last Monday it had been so long since he'd pooed that I couldn't even remember when it was. Then lo and behold, he did the hugest poo ever (which fascinated Phoebe so much she stood at the end of the change table watching and providing a running commentary) and has pooed at least once a day all but one day since. I never thought I'd be happy to have a baby who poos every day, but there you go. I am getting a bit over rinsing all the nappies though, especially as Phoebe keeps having little accidents in her knickers too. We had four today in a 3 hour outing to the beach. I was somewhat fed up by the end of it.

By Friday I was happy that he wasn't constipated nor did he have a runny nose or a cough, plus I'd read enough of the book to start implementing some techniques. I started to put him down in the portacot in his own room, which now has a black-out blind, for his daytime naps. I have him on a four hour EASY routine, the timing of which always depends on when he gets up for the day. The easiest way to keep him in this routine is to put him to sleep two hours after he last woke up, give him about 20 minutes of quiet time to wind down before sleep time, go in and re-settle him if he wakes after 45 minutes so that he has about 1 1/2 - 2 hours of sleep. Then feed him when he wakes up. Bedtime is generally easy and always has been. He tends to fall asleep at the breast. But daytime naps were getting harder and harder. I use the Baby Whisperer Pick Up, Put Down technique and patting to get him to sleep. I still wrap him but realise I should probably stop that now, especially as the other day he woke himself up by rolling onto his tummy. Thankfully his arms had escaped the wrap. I have to hold his legs down whilst I'm patting him because they go crazy and disturb him. He's so active at the moment.

Pick up, put down basically entails picking up your baby, if he's crying, and cuddling him (I pat his back too) until he stops, then putting him straight back in his cot. Tracy also recommends limiting the time you hold him for and decreasing this as he gets older. So a baby Ash's age shouldn't be held for longer than 4 or 5 minutes. If he's still crying I just put him down and then pick him straight back up again. Most of the time he's just in his cot and I'm patting him though because he seems to have more of a wind-down cry than a worked up cry. That's his nature though. He's such a happy chilled out boy.

It's early days so I'm not sure yet if it's working but his wake up times are getting later and we've only had one 2am party since starting and that lasted one hour rather than two. (A "party" by the way is where Ash is apparently wide awake in the middle of the night and babbling away. I generally just leave him in his cot until he gets upset then try to settle him. I think these will bother me less once he moves to his own room. Which is on the agenda to happen soon.) Most days he seems more settled. I've been dream-feeding him around 10 or 11 at night and mostly he's only woken once since then but is then up for the day around 5-5.30. Previously he was waking at 4am and not really going back to sleep. I'd try for a while, then Toby would either take over or get up with him at 5am, then bring him back to me at 7am for a feed and a nap. That's all changed. Last night he woke up twice after his dream feed but he had a good feed and went back to sleep both times. The last feed was at 4am which meant he wasn't hungry when he woke at 6.30. That kind of put his routine out a bit but not too badly. Hopefully this will soon result in more sleep for me.

There are a few challenges with this however. Firstly, the dream feed. Most nights, like tonight, staying up until 10am is a bit exhausting but I can't feed him much earlier as it's too soon after his bedtime feed. So sometimes I go to bed early and set my alarm for 11ish. I don't know whether the chopping and changing of times of this feed is confusing for him.

Secondly, the morning nap is a right pain in the proverbial. I wasn't a fan of the 5am starts but then I wasn't the one getting up with him and I actually got quite a nice nap between 5 and 7. Then his morning nap was over by 9am and we could get up and out for the day after that. Now, I find we're rushing around trying to get out of the house by 8 or 8.30 depending on when he's due for a sleep, so that he can sleep in his car seat/pram and we can still get out and do things and make appointments. Otherwise I'd have to put him down then wake him. Or we'd get stuck in the house until 10 or 11am. Which is no good when Phoebe has a swimming lesson at 10am, for example.

There's a little more to it but that's it in a nutshell. It's still a work in progress but watch this space

As for food, it's fair to say I'm still a fan of baby-led weaning. I tried a bit of mushy stuff with Ash. I don't really know why. I think I felt conflicted. For some reason I thought I should be trying him on solids but I knew he wasn't ready. I know that's not why he was waking in the night as he was sucking a bit then falling back to sleep. He couldn't sit up unaided, couldn't feed himself. All the signs I use that a baby is ready. And he really wasn't too impressed with the whole rice cereal thing. Can't blame him. It's so bland. Most of it came straight back out of his mouth. He was a bit better when I fed him a bit of avocado. But in the last few days he's got better at sitting and his hand-mouth coordination has improved significantly. So when we sat down to a roast dinner on Sunday, and I hadn't prepared any food for him, I started giving him bits and pieces. He had zucchini (corgette), carrot, broccoli (which went straight onto the floor) and lamb. I doubt he ate much but then he wasn't eating much anyway. At least this way he was improving his motor skills, had control over what he was putting into his mouth, seemed to be enjoying it and I could enjoy my dinner too. So, pureeing definitely isn't for us. It's time-consuming for me in terms of preparation and actually feeding it too him, and far less fun for him.

Well, I've a lot more to talk about and about a million more posts in my head but I'm tired and hungry so I'm off for a quick snack and then bed. Just need to figure out when I'm going to do this dream feed. And when exactly is this so called dream feed going to stop him from waking every three hours after it? If it doesn't work soon I'm going to give it up as a dumb idea.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Frozen, not stale

I went to a friend's house tonight. That was exciting, getting out by myself after dark, driving without any kids in the car, listening to whatever I wanted to listen to.

My friend was having a Thermomix demonstration. What a groovy little appliance that is. Is there anything that machine can't do? Well, yes, actually. It can't bake, toast or grill. It can't switch itself off (bit of a flaw for a $2000 machine, if you ask me; even my low-tech oven manages to do that), serve the food or wash the dishes. And it can't cook slow-cook meals, such as curry, super fast like our pressure cooker does.

But it can weigh, chop, grind, grate, mill, steam, heat, mix, froth milk, whip meringue, make creamy custard, butter, yoghurt, sorbet and ice cream (but it can't freeze it), knead dough, press garlic, and a ton of other things. In a two hour demo we watched her make (and then ate) citrus sorbet, garlic and spring onion dip, Italian bean pasta, cheesy bread buns, beetroot salad and custard (which I made; it was super easy and really yummy). She grated a whole block of parmesan and turned regular raw sugar into icing sugar.

But I totally digress.

This afternoon I baked zucchini (corgette) bread. (Note to self: must remember to write in book that I baked 2 loaves instead of 1, at 160c instead of 175 for 1 hour instead of 1 1/4 and they came out perfect.) Before I went out I was bagging up slices of the loaf to put in the freezer. I had also pulled a slice of raisin bread out of the freezer for Phoebe's afternoon tea tomorrow. I asked Toby to finish bagging the slices and pop them in the freezer. I then explained about Phoebe's bread, as he usually gets her daycare food ready, told him to pop it in the fridge and then butter it in the morning.

When I got home the slices were bagged but still on the bench along with the raisin bread. I fed Ash then came back out to pop the slices in the freezer and the bread in the fridge. The bread was gone.

"Where's Phoebe's raisin bread?"
"Oh, I had to throw it away because it got left out and went stale."

Not stale, Toby. Frozen. The bread was frozen. It was on the bench defrosting because it was FROZEN. Not stale.

Monday, October 24, 2011

I'm so tired I don't even know what to call this post. It doesn't even have anything to do with tiredness. I should just go to bed.

So Toby is really busy with some extra-curricular professional activities. It's something I definitely support him in, if it hasn't exactly come at the best of times for us. So only a few days after returning from Melbourne, after which he'd said he was going to take it easy for a few weeks, he's now writing an abstract for a presentation at a conference next August. A long way off, yes but the abstract has to be submitted tonight.

He is up all hours at the computer and sleeping in the spare room so he can get some sleep in order to get up at 5 with the kids (if and when required) and function at work during the day. Although he did somehow manage to have an afternoon kip yesterday whilst I walked Ash in the pram because it was the only way he would sleep unless in my arms.

All of which leaves me doing all those things normal wifey type wives do; getting up all night with our poor sick baby (just a cold and horrible cough but doesn't seem to be anything to worry about), entertaining sick baby and crazy toddler all day, doing all the laundry (nothing new there then), tidying the house (which ends up even more messy when Toby's head is in something else; believe it or not his unpacked suitcase is still on our lounge room floor over a week after his return), cooking dinner, feeding the cats and finally tidying the kitchen and getting the dishwasher on.

And what does he have the nerve to say to me at this point?

"You're making quite a lot of noise."

Excuse me Lord Muck of Muckity Manor, why don't you just fire me and hire a quieter maid then?


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Toddler music aficionado

I have been mucking around with the Instagram iPhone app lately. It allows you to apply cool retro filters to your photos and share them. I avoided it for a while as from what I can see the photos end up public. But finally I relented and it's super fun. I try to keep photos of the kids to a minimum and to make what I do put up there slightly abstract and arty. Here are a couple of my favourites. (Actually, so far they're the only ones of the bairns.)

I call this one Beautiful Innocence. My little girl just looks so beautiful in this photo. I love it.

This is called Rolling Stone. I started Phoebe's music education early. Actually, that's only partly tongue in cheek. Her favourite song for a while now has been Black Eyed Peas' Boom Boom Pow. More recently we've all been into Gotye's song Somebody That I Used To Know and Phoebe also loves my new Kimbra CD. I'm amazed at her ability to remember music. The other day she was wandering round the house singing "copier". Eventually I realised that she was singing the line "You didn't have to cut me off" from Gotye's Somebody after hearing it that morning on the telly. Today she was wandering around singing "buck buck cockadoodledoo" which she'd heard this morning at The Wiggles. She just loves live music. If we ever go anywhere where there is live background music she is absolutely transfixed and then applauds at the end. I love that my girl is so into music and I'm excited that this is something we can share together in the future, just as I share my love of music with my parents, especially my Dad.

Sick Boy and Cake Girl

Well, we survived five days without Toby. Sort of. Toby's mum came to help us for a few days. And we survived that too. JOKE. Obviously. She barely survived though, poor woman. The first morning she was here Phoebe woke up at 4.30am. I settled her back down and got back into bed. Then Ash woke up so I got up to feed him and then Phoebe woke up again. So Toby's poor mother ended up taking Phoebe into her bed and of course she didn't go back to sleep. Things didn't improve much after that.

Anyway, there is many a story from those few days and not all of them suitable for my blog I'm afraid. But I got a night out with a girl friend. Which was fab. Had a beautiful eye fillet, medium rare. Felt tipsy after a glass of bubbly and 3/4 glass of red. And I also got to spend my pamper voucher from work which I used on the most gorgeous wonderful facial, after which I should not have been allowed to drive.

After Toby's mum left, Phoebe went for a sleepover with her cousins and I had a lovely evening in. Made myself a curry, drank beer, watched Wire In The Blood in a quiet house. Lovely.

Ash is poorly, poor sweet boy. He has a stuffy nose. And a horrible cough. He's been checked by a doctor twice in the last ten days when we've been in for other things. Both times his chest has been clear which is a relief. But it has got markedly worse in the last couple of days. Sometimes he coughs uncontrollably. Two days in a row now, when I've sat him up after a feed he's coughed so much his entire feed has come back up and all over the both of us. He must have regurgitated 150-200ml of milk each time. I had to fully change both of us and have a shower. It was quite something. His eyes are gunky too. I really should be online looking up remedies instead of blogging. Actually I should be in bed. After a few really good nights' sleep, which I needed because I didn't get much whilst Toby was away and was run into the ground, we've had a couple of shockers. I'll put him back in his cot after a feed and he'll start to cough and then that's it. Wide awake. For two hours. Ug! He still manages to be the loveliest, smiliest, happiest little baby though. Here's a (crappy iPhone 3G) photo of him yesterday, not quite as poorly as he was today but right when he was due a sleep nonetheless. 

Meanwhile, Phoebe's cake making skills are improving considerably. On rainy days I help her make a chocolate cake in a mug. It's cheap, super easy and almost small enough for her to eat it all herself. Basically I don't care how it turns out (and neither it seems does she) so it's far less stressful than letting her help me bake. Today was the second time we'd done it and last time I drew the recipe for her. Today she helped me identify some of the ingredients - except she thought butter was cheese. Interesting. And she did most of the measuring, putting the tablespoon into the flour jar and counting out four spoons of flour. She even sliced it up herself using her new knife. Clever little girl. Here she is with her first mug cake a couple of months ago.

Toby's favourite parenting moment (so far) came when Phoebe took him a slice of her cake and said, "Here is some cake for you, Daddy." The first bit of cake she had ever baked and then sliced for him. It melted his heart and he said it is the best cake he's ever had.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Audrey Hepburn, I already have one

Phoebe's latest cute word is "audrey", or occasionally "oar derry", meaning "already".

As in,

"I audrey did it, Mammy. I audrey!"

"Or I oar derry have Mammy."

Her harlequin patterned dress is her "harkelin dress", bran flakes are "blan plakes" and freckles are "spotties".

Phoebe: You have spotties on your nose.
Me: No, they're freckles. You have freckles on your nose too.
Phoebe: No, I have spotties on my nose.

Love it!

"I want my dummy... I'm a big girl now": Time-Outs and Stars

Poor Phoebe has a serious case of split personality.

On the one hand she is growing so fast and is so very proud of all of her little achievements. Like now, at 32 months, she can go to the big toilet on her own without using her toddler seat. She can wash and dry her hands by herself although she still sometimes struggles to turn the tap on and off. And she often plays with the water, uses way too much soap and makes a total mess. She can dress herself. Unless it's something you want her to wear. She puts things away, takes dirty clothes to the laundry and is really good at taking her dishes to the sink and putting them onto the bench or into the dishwasher. Though they do tend to just get tossed into the top tray. And she's an amazing conversationalist, although she doesn't always make sense.

On the other hand she has a slight obsession with dummies and still can't quite control her emotions resulting in intense meltdowns over the slightest thing.

Toby thinks her oral fixation comes from seeing me feeding Ash, and apparently she pointed to his nipple and said something about milk the other day. But I've noticed the dummy thing for a while now and think it could be partly due to other kids at daycare having dummies (Phoebe never really had one as a baby) and partly just a phase kids of her age go through. She does a lot of mummy and baby roll play with her dolls and with her friends.

As for the tantrums, it often gets to the point where she can't listen or talk to you so we've introduced Time-Out. For example, today she went to the toilet whilst I was changing Ash. She shouted for my help and told her I'd come when I'd finished putting Ash's nappy on. Then I heard her whinging. I strapped Ash, who was due a feed, to the change table, wound up his mobile and went to see what the commotion was. There was a puddle of wee on the floor next to the toilet. I started to show her what to do when she has an accident. I.e. if her clothes are wet put them in the nappy bucket in the laundry. I realised she couldn't reach the bucket so I told her if that's the case she should throw them into the sink and tell me. But today she could just put them straight into the machine as I was about to put a wash on.

She couldn't reach the bucket.

Didn't matter. I'm putting a wash on.

She couldn't reach the bucket. She wanted to put her clothes in the bucket.

No point in moving the bucket as I wanted to show her what to do in future and in future she won't be able to reach the bucket.

But she wanted to put her clothes into the bucket. She really wanted to put her clothes into the bucket.

I tossed them into the machine. She lost it.

Needless to say I didn't get around to showing her how to wipe her wee up. I tried to get her to talk to me. I tried to get her to listen to me. No dos. She was inconsolable. We're trying to teach her a bit about emotions, about how sometimes you can feel really strong emotions and you don't feel in control and it's okay to feel like that. But when she's in the moment you just can't get through to her. So I told her I was giving her a time out. I put a dining chair in the corridor and shut the bedroom and bathroom doors. I told her to stay there until she'd calmed down then come and find me.

I actually think time out works quite well. At first we used it as a punishment but we've now moved onto a star system which I'll talk about in a minute. As a punishment it seems to be less effective as they fight it. As a time out it gives you both an opportunity to calm down and today she seemed to really appreciate that low-stimuli quiet alone time to come to terms with her feelings.

This took a while and poor Ash had been waiting on the change table for his feed the whole time. A few minutes later whilst I was feeding him Phoebe came in, still crying but much calmer.

"I'm sad," she told me.

She has two basic emotions that she can verbalise: sad and happy.

We had a cuddle and a little chat, decided to put on a Wiggles DVD and after a while she told me she was happy again.

As for the star system, so far it seems to be working. Toby introduced it a couple of weeks ago to deal with her night time misbehaviour and meltdowns. The stars are abstract. There's no chart or anything as the number fluctuates all day but maybe we will make one. And we've talked about making a chart to illustrate what the stars are worth.

So stars are currently reset at night - although I'm thinking of changing that to ensure that good behaviour continues after she's had her reward. Every day she's awarded three stars and if she still has three stars after dinner she gets to trade them in for treats. If she has a full three stars she can have a small amount of chocolate and she can then trade the stars for a TV show or extra story. She gets one story every night anyway - because I think books are important and refuse to remove them completely as punishment. But she can trade one star for a story and two stars for a TV show. So if she has three stars she can have a small amount of chocolate, plus either one extra story and one TV show, or three extra stories. If she has two stars at the end of the day then she can have one TV show or two extra stories.

The trading, awarding and removal of stars is a bit arbitrary at the moment and we're making it up as we go along. But she'll figure that out soon enough so we need to work out what we're doing. Throughout the day we talk about how many stars she's had and what she might be able to do to earn extra ones. It seems to be easier to lose them than to earn them.

For example, this morning we had a lovely morning and we were ready for swimming way ahead of time. Lunch was made, Phoebe had her swimsuit on. We'd even hung a load of washing out and Phoebe helped me bring a load in. Then it all went pear-shaped. She took her swimsuit off, whilst I was tied up with Ash, and refused to put it back on again. Then agreed but insisted she couldn't find it. She was difficult to deal with and deliberately insolent. And as were leaving I discovered she'd emptied all her clothes onto the bedroom floor. So she lost a star. But I told her she could earn it back by being good in her swim lesson, listening to the teacher and doing as she's asked, eating her lunch and leaving the park when I told her it was time to go. Then she had to go to sleep and help me tidy her clothes when she woke up in order to keep her star.

Well, she earned it back in half star increments but then lost it again in half star increments this afternoon, half for being difficult whilst I was tidying the mess she'd made and the other half for her tantrum. She then lost one with Toby at bedtime because she wouldn't brush her teeth when asked.

So no chocolate or TV show and just one extra story.

Twice today she asked for a lolly but I told her she hadn't been good enough. In my opinion as soon as you've lost a star you haven't been good enough for lollies unless perhaps you manage to earn an extra one and get up to four stars.

Anyway, we seem to have found a system of discipline, using positive reinforcement, that she can relate to and for now it seems to be working.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Learning stuff

We're all learning stuff in this house. Phoebe is learning to cut things with a frighteningly sharp knife (see video). Ash is learning to sit and stand (also see video). And I am learning how to look after Ash. My job is the hardest because Ash keeps changing.

Phoebe and Ash are obviously very similar. Here they both are at approximately the same age asleep on the activity mat.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Phoebe and Asher: Compare and contrast

I really would like to write more about Asher but Phoebe just gives me so much material. The funniest thing Ash does is to grab whatever soft thing is nearest to him, be it a toy, a cloth or his sleepsuit, and smother his face with it, seemingly trying to eat it. And he gets very excited about his bath. Bathtime used to calm him down and totally relax him. Now he seems to be trying to beat his personal best for how much water he can get on the floor. Oh and he just loves to stand up. He thinks he's so cool. And I suppose that is pretty impressive given he's not yet 17 weeks old.

Meanwhile, as I'm bathing Ash I can hear Phoebe playing with her Barbie in the bath and saying "I'm the teacher. I'm the teacher. I'm the teacher.... I'm here. I'm Barbie." And muttering nonsense to herself. At times she is just so incredibly cute. Like when I went to say goodnight to her and she gave me a big hug and said "I love you too darlin'" over and over again. And then "Your earrings, darlin'. Your earrings, darlin'. Your earrings, darlin'" as she played with my earrings. Until eventually I said, "Phoebe, stop playing with my earrings now please" and she said, "Ok" and stopped. Just like that. And then at other times she's just totally mental and incredibly frustrating.

I read back over some old posts to see what Phoebe was like at Asher's age. At first I didn't quite know what to make of them. On the one hand I seemed to know a lot more about babies and what they were supposed to be doing. And on the other I seemed a little bit more stressed about the fact that she wasn't doing what she should be and that she kept changing. I seem to remember thinking that she was an easier baby as she had more of a routine but Ash is definitely getting into a routine now. He seems to wake a bit more at night and feed more during the day than I remember Phoebe doing. But then reading the old posts it seems that Phoebe started to sleep through around 10 weeks and then stopped again a few weeks later. She'd feed approximately every three hours but then would cluster at certain times of the day. When Ash was tiny he seemed to cry more than Phoebe, be more awake at night and he still seems to wake up earlier. But then the two occasions that Phoebe's inconsolable crying really impacted my social life and have stuck in my head may well be the only two occasions as it seems I blogged about them.

One thing I can say is that I have less time to worry too much about what Ash is doing. I don't have as many friends with babies of the same age to compare behaviours with. I also have the benefit of my experience with Phoebe of knowing what worked for us then and what didn't and not even bothering with the stuff that didn't work. Plus being told that everything is a phase and learning that that's the case from experience are two different things.

So with all that in mind I thought it might be useful to pick a few key points from a post I wrote when Phoebe was about a week older than Ash is now and see how the two compare.

  • "Little Miss P has changed so much over the last 4 weeks." So has Ash.
  • "Just in the last few days she has taken to sucking her bottom lip (teething, perhaps?) and it totally changes the look of her face." Ash has started gurning like an old man. I remember Phoebe doing this too.
  • "She cries less and is more vocal, shouting when she's a bit annoyed about something." Ash has been doing that for a while now.
  • "About two weeks ago at Gymbaroo she rolled by herself down the soft play wedge and has since rolled quite a few times, including onto her back during mat time at Gymbaroo when she got fed up with being on her tummy." Ash is rolling onto his side both from his back and his tummy although he hasn't quite rolled over completely yet. He does wriggle around a lot though. It still amazes me how much babies can travel just by wriggling.
  • "She has also started to commando crawl although doesn't go very far and gets tired easily." No commando crawling here unless I put my hands to his feet to give him something to push off.
  • "As well as continuing with her standing fetish, she is now learning to sit and is getting pretty good at doing it on her own....She can stay still for a few seconds but then she topples over, which she seems to think is great fun. If she's holding onto something, such as my finger or a toy then she can balance for much longer." Ash also loves to stand and sits whilst holding onto both of my fingers although I really have to hold onto him. It seems as though he has the strength in his upper back but not so much his lower abs.
  • "She seems to be over her fear of going to bed." No fear of bed with Ash. He bloody loves it. Phoebe, on the other hand, is a different story some nights.
  • Phoebe had recently changed from falling asleep after her feed, or talking herself to sleep, or having to be jiggled to sleep to wanting to fall asleep on the breast. If I pulled her away from the breast she would wake up, cry and root around. It was taking me an hour to get her to bed. In contrast Ash usually falls asleep at the breast quite quickly although tonight I had to give him a quick cuddle afterwards. I quite enjoy that last feed. He doesn't seem to mind falling asleep with the light on so I put the radio on tuned out (to drown out the noise of Miss Chief having her bedtime tantrum) and take the opportunity to read my book. If the light seems to be bothering him then I turn to the iPhone.
  • "Phoebe still sometimes wakes up in the night. She usually wakes when I go to bed or around midnight and then again at about 5.30am but this varies." Hmm... Ash always wakes in the night, usually at least twice. And he often wakes up at 5.30am or earlier. I read that Phoebe would wake at 6am for a feed, change and quick play then go back to bed for 2-3 hours. Ash wakes anywhere between 4am (hasn't done that for a while, thank god) and 6 or 7, stays awake for a couple of hours then goes back to bed for 1-2 hours. Only I don't get to go back to bed with him like I used to with Phoebe because by then Phoebe is up. 
  • "Last night she went to bed around 7.30 then woke at 10.30pm when I went to bed and again at 3.30am and then 6.30am when we all got up." That sounds more like Ash. So maybe he's not that different after all.
  • "I'm not at all used to all this night-time activity so I'm a bit tired and I'm off to bed in a minute." I am but I'm still tired and off to bed in a minute.
  • "I've given up trying to make her nap in the middle of the day. I just let her sleep when she's tired and hope that it fits in with what I'm doing." That's pretty much always been the case with Ash. These days I like him to have one or two of his naps in his cot but he also sleeps quite well in his car seat on the pram base. I aim to get him to sleep about two hours after he last woke up. I swaddle him in a muslin cloth during the day and at night he has this kick-arse sleep suit that keeps him all snug but lets his arms go up either side of his head and he can still suck on his hands (through the suit). During the day when we're at home I generally have to put him in the sling so that I can block out visual stimulation and then jiggle him for a bit. Since Phoebe was a baby we have bought a new (second-hand) Ikea chair which is so comfortable. I sit in that for a bit to make sure he's asleep before putting him in his cot. More often than not I doze off too.
It was interesting to read those old posts and see just how similar they are, and in what ways they were different. It seems that aside from the waking at night, and the stupidly early mornings, that Ash is the easier baby. It certainly sounds like he's easier to put to bed at night. But I really do remember Phoebe being easy too. My expectations may be different this time. And of course I'm totally distracted by my toddler.

Would you like a pillow with that tantrum?

Tonight there was another altercation between Toby and Phoebe. Basically Phoebe was being naughty at bedtime, refusing to lie down and go to sleep, shouting out for various things.

"I'm cold."
"I want my sheet."
"I don't want to go to sleep."

Eventually Toby shut her bedroom door which triggered tears, cries of "no, Daddy, no" and finally all out screaming. As the screams got more and more frantic Toby went back into her and said, "would you like a pillow to scream into?" He then demonstrated to her how this is done.

She didn't see the funny side.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Just a little bit

Tonight at the dinner table, with a full plate of untouched food in front of her, Phoebe requested a treat.

"No, Phoebe," I told her. "You only get treats when you're really really good. And even then not necessarily every time. And certainly not when you haven't finished your dinner. Haven't even touched it."

Phoebe: No chocolate tonight, Mammy.
Me: No. Not tonight.
Phoebe: No chocolate....[pause]... Just Fudge.
Me: No Phoebe. Fudge is classed as chocolate. [We're talking Cadbury's Fudge here.]
Phoebe: Just a little bit, Mammy. Just a little bit. Please.
Me: No, Phoebe.
Phoebe. Please, Mammy. Just a little bit. PLEASE!
Me: No.
Phoebe: Please.
Me: No
[This continues for quite some time.]
Me: It doesn't matter how many times you ask me, or how loudly, the answer is still No.
Phoebe: PURLEASE!!!
Ash: Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! [Loosely translated as "What the crap was that? Man, it was loud. And I really didn't like it. Make it stop. Oh my god. I'm so hungry. I'm being ignored. Where's my bath? I want my bath. I want my bath, boob and bed. And I'm not going to shut up until I get it.]
Exit Me and Ash side stage.

Later, whilst I'm finishing Ash's bath I overhear a conversation between Phoebe and Toby. As he's leaving the room I hear Toby saying, " ... and if you eat all of your cottage cheese on toast then maybe you can have just a little bit of fudge."

So, let me get this straight. She decides she doesn't like her dinner so she gets something else AND a treat?

I say in passing, "I still think No."

Phoebe hears me but Toby doesn't.

Phoebe: Mammy says no.
Toby: What's that, honey?
Phoebe, in her best sad voice: Mammy says no. No chocolate tonight.
Toby: Oh! But you can have a little bit of fudge. [Fudge IS chocolate. Why can't anyone see that?] If you eat your toast quickly and don't mess about then Phoebe and Daddy can share a little bit of fudge.

Hang on! So I'm the only one who doesn't get fudge? Hmmm... this doesn't seem fair. Try and instill a little bit of discipline and you become the bad guy and then you're punished by not getting fudge. And I ate all my dinner!

Me: But she didn't eat her dinner.
Toby: She's eating her cottage cheese. And she's being a good girl.
Me: She is now.

Now that she knows she's getting fudge. I surrender graciously.

But now there's a half eaten Cadbury's Fudge on the bench and I really want to have a nibble. That's English Cadbury's by the way. I'm so tormented.

UPDATE: There's a showdown going on between Toby and Phoebe. Not sure what's happening but he just shut her bedroom door which is generally what we do when she won't go to sleep, and she's in there crying "No. No," and screaming.

Kind of why I didn't want to give her Fudge.

But I won't say I told you so. I'll just think it.

And smugly publish it in this post.

The Logic of a Toddler

If I want something, no matter what it is, even if it's just a construct of my overactive imagination, I just have to say PLEASE over again and increasingly loudly and it will appear. And if it doesn't it's because the world is a cruel place and some big person has it in for me. At this point I will totally lose emotional control and said thing might find its way to me anyway.
And if it doesn't I will die.
And it'll be all your fault.

Monday, September 12, 2011

I love you too

Today when I was leaving Phoebe's room after putting her to bed for her nap she called out,
"I love you, Mammy."
"I love you too, darling," I told her.
"I love you too, darling," she said.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Barbie and Tinkerbell Take A Bath Together

It was like a scene from Toy Story: Uncut, which is X rated due to nudity. The two girls were in the tub together, and Tinkerbell was being a bit of a pain. A total whinge if I'm honest. Barbie just lost it with her.

Tink [in a really whiney voice]: I want to come tooooooooo. I want to come. I want to come tooooo.
Barbie [snappish]: That's it. That's it, Tinkerbell. I'm going under the water. No chances, no chances, Tinkerbell.

Barbie submerged herself in the tub.

Tink: I want to come too. Let me come under water.

I just love watching Phoebe role play with her dolls.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Busier than a bee (with a little boy)

This is ridiculous. I've lost count of the number of blog posts I've composed in my head since May 29. I mean, really, May 29!! That's over three months ago. But that's as far as I got; mental composure. Which is more than I can say for certain members of this household at certain times.

My Newest Rather Lush Baby

So I now have a 13 week old baby. A boy. Yes, I am rather pleased with myself, thank you very much. One of each, clever me. And he came remarkably quickly. I mean anything would seem quick after the 17 hour labour I endured with Miss Chief, 8 of those pain relief free, I hasten to add. Another feat of which I am rather proud. I didn't get around to writing up my birth story, although it's still a project on my to-do list, but for those not in the know, my little princess turned into a posterior position AFTER her due date (typical - has to do everything her way) and so I eventually chose to have an epidural. Then, when the doctor came back to switch off the anaesthetic and deliver the baby, after spending the afternoon at the local shopping centre buying a phone or a notebook computer - I forget which - he announced that the baby was still backwards. A characteristic she has not hung onto, I am happy to say. So he called for a pediatrician and told me he would have to turn her on exit, so to speak, with the forceps. The baby doctor arrived 15 minutes later and what would you know? Miss Chief had turned around. Leaving everything to the last minute and submitting only to unpleasant threats is, unfortunately, a trait she has carried into toddlerhood.

So after all that I was convinced I could handle an average 8 hour birth, confident that I could manage a completely natural, drug-free labour. Then the doctor gave me even more hope by predicting a 6 hour-ish labour.

So, armed with my TENS machine and hypno-birthing MP3s I headed off to hospital to be induced three days after the due date. I chose to do this for a number of reasons. Mainly because I didn't want Tike No. 2 to do some crazy somersault maneuver like No. 1 did. But also because it was convenient and unfortunately the second baby just has to fit in with the rest of the family. It was a daycare day, and Toby's mum had just arrived for a short stay with my brother-in-law. It would save her going home then coming back again.

As it turned out it was a good decision. I had my waters broken (although they prefer to say "membranes ruptured", which I think sounds awful) at 8.45am. Then the midwife sent me off for a walk so we went to the car to get our pillows. I had to up the TENS machine when we were down there and decided I didn't really want to do anything like walk or talk during a contraction so we went back to the birthing suite for a lie-down. I really just wanted to, well, you know, hypnobirth. Seeing me having a rest the midwife quizzed me on my contractions.They were intense and frequent but a little irregular. So she sent me for another walk. This may seem mean but she was trying to avoid me being put on a syntocinon drip. Syntocinon being an artificial form of oxytocin, the hormone that makes your uterus contract. It also happens to be the hormone produced after birth, during breastfeeding, and after an orgasm, dubbing it the "love" hormone.

So off we set and we got to the other side of the ward when I just started to feel awful. Dizzy. Hot. Weak. Queasy. I just wanted to take my top off and lie down and rest. So we went back again and I tried to hypnobirth. The midwife kept offering advice between contractions, one nugget being "don't hold your breath" which is excellent advice but a bit like stating the bloody obvious. Hypnobirthing involves entering a state of deep relaxation and breathing slowly and deeply through a contraction. It's quite a silent way of birthing so I think it can be deceiving if you've never seen it. Nevertheless, the constant chit-chat made getting into the hpyno-zone a tad difficult.

Anyway, she went off for a break and a few minutes later I went to the loo. I noticed some spotting and told Toby he should let her know, just in case. By the time she got back I was on my hands and knees and really not very far off giving birth. Asher was born on the bathroom floor at 11.50am, three hours after my waters had been broken. I think the midwife was a bit thrown by the whole thing.

It sounds like the perfect birth, just me, my TENS machine and some deep breathing. The doctor didn't even make it in time. And in hindsight it was wonderful. It couldn't have been more different from the first; the same midwife through the whole labour, whereas I think we went through about three shifts with Phoebe. But at the time it felt like the worst, and yet most amazing experience of my life. It was so intense. With every other contraction I was increasing the output of the TENS machine and, expecting a 6 hour labour, I worried that I would get to a point when I couldn't increase it any further still needing more pain relief. I totally doubted my ability to birth the baby, thinking "I don't remember it being this hard with Phoebe". Looking back, I realise I was in the transition phase of labour, where the contractions change from opening the cervix to pushing the baby down the birth canal. Hormones change at this time from the relaxing zoning-out endorphins and oxytocin to the more active adrenalin, preparing you to push the baby out. Self-doubt, confusion, feeling like you can't go on are all classic symptoms of transition and when I had Phoebe I realised what was happening and it gave me hope that I was getting to the end (but of course I wasn't because of complications). But I wasn't expecting it to happen so quickly so it didn't even enter my head that this was the beginning of the end. If someone had told me the baby would be born in an hour then I would have coped a lot better mentally. And afterwards my body went into shock and I was cold and shaking. But the birth itself was pretty cool. A midwife caught Ash and handed him to me and I was the first to hold him and see what flavour he was. Boy flavour. Pretty yummy.

So the last 13 weeks have been a matter of adjusting to life as a family, as opposed to a couple with a kid. And there's a world of difference. Talk about hectic. The poor new one just gets dragged around wherever everyone else needs to go. There's no gymbaroo, barely time for tummy time and forget about sleep training. Ash just sleeps when he can't stay awake any longer, poor thing.

We've had a hectic time. Phoebe has a sore foot so we've had loads of tests for that - worthy of blog posts in themselves really, especially the blood test; oh please let me never have to go through anything like that again. She's had x-rays, bone scans, blood tests, ultrasounds and an MRI. Next step is to get her an inner arch support and see if that helps. This all went on when Ash was aged 2-6 weeks. Crazy time.

Then my parents visited, which was lovely, but hectic. Phoebe was mental the whole time. What a lot for a 2 1/2 year old to go through: new brother, umpteen medical tests, grandparents visiting from overseas. She was like a crazy whirlwind of cute hell.

Things are slowly settling down. I'm starting to get into a bit more of a routine and trying to get fit, which means doing lots of walking. Phoebe continues to amaze us, make us laugh and drive us crazy. I noticed the other day that I often describe her as being "funny and bright" and Asher as "beautiful and happy", which is apt because Phoebe means "bright" and Asher means "happy". Ash really is a beautiful baby. He seemed to smile, giggle and chatter quite a lot for his age. His first smile was around the same age as Phoebe's, around 5 or 6 weeks, but he does a lot more of it than she did at his age. He started giggling around 9 or 10 weeks, which was beautiful timing as my parents were still here. And he was cooing excessively a week or two after that. He has such a lovely nature and is very social. He has always been physically strong, like Phoebe was, although perhaps not as strong as her. Much of that could be due to lack of encouragement from us though. A few times now he has held his own body weight in a sitting position for a few seconds - already! Phoebe sat at 4 months and I think Ash will be about the same.

Phoebe is settling down a bit now too and slowly getting better at being around Ash. She can be a bit boisterous around him and often makes him cry, sometimes just because she's so loud or too in his face. But the other day I witnessed a beautiful interaction between them. He was lying on the floor and she went and sat next to him. She was very gentle, kept her distance and just talked to him. He rewarded her with a lovely big smile. She was so chuffed. She laughed and said, "mammy, he's smiling at me."

So that's an update. But the problem is I still have a load of little stories floating around in my head which I really want to post. There's the one about Feeding The Baby Catfood. And the one about The Sewing Needle In The Finger (that's a good one). Then there's The Day Miss Chief Picked Up 2 Week Old Asher. And a whole heap of funny little Phoebeisms which have slipped my tired mind.

So, watch this space....

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sewing Project No. 3: Mrs Perkins the Giraffe

This is another gorgeous Melly & Me design, only this time, being the by-now experienced sewer that I am, I jumped straight in with the posh fabrics. I made this for our baby and as we don't yet know if it's a boy or a girl I chose some nice bright, gender-neutral colours.

I just love this. The horns and ears were a bit tricky to turn inside out and the horns were a total pain to stuff but that aside I had a lot of fun making it and it didn't really take too long. I just did a bit here and there. I got the fabrics from The Quilter's Angel in Highfields and also managed to get some good quality Birch toy fill there. It makes such a difference having decent stuffing. A couple of people have now suggested using old pillows so I might try that next time, although hopefully Quilter's Angel will get a bag of the proper stuff in for me in time for my mother-in-law to pick it up before she heads this way next weekend.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ah! Relaxing into maternity leave

Well here I am, day 1 of week 2 of maternity leave. Or day 4 of maternity leave. Baby 2 is due in about 11 days, which means that in 24 days I will have a baby, as my doctor likes to induce at 12 days over.

Thursdays tend to be full days for me as I have yoga and ante-natal appointments, plus tomorrow I'm getting my hair cut too. So I kept today free so I could relax and get a few jobs done around the house, such as packing my hospital bag.

Wait! Did I say relax? Ha! It seems that far from suddenly having a load of free leisure time to languish in pre-baby, I have simply replaced my work duties for my employer with more domestic duties. Here is how my day has panned out thus far:

Miss Chief and I both woke slightly late after a late night. She woke around 11pm with a poo in her nappy and excruciating nappy rash, poor darling. Took us a while to figure what was wrong. I knew she was in pain and presumed a tummy ache, couldn't get any sense out of her. Eventually I lay her down and started to undress her so I could check her nappy and that was when she eventually cried "my bum". We changed her, bathed her, lay her in front of a DVD to air-dry and then gently applied the cream, letting her do it herself. Eventually we all got back to bed.

So anyway, we woke late and Toby had already gone to work. I pottered around getting Phoebe's breakfast ready. I delivered her cereal to the table which for some bizarre reason prompted an emotional meltdown. She returned the dish to the kitchen bench, saying she didn't want it and spilling milk on the way. She then sat back down and demanded a gummy bear (vitamin chew). I put some paper towel down and told her to wipe the mess she made first. She refused and screamed louder. Then she announced that she wanted her cereal back. So began a stand-off where I refused to let her have anything until she cleaned up her mess.

Eventually, I got her to help me clean up the mess, she got her gummy bear and we sat down to breakfast. Then I made her lunch and morning and afternoon tea, realising on opening the fridge that hubbie had made off to work with the leftovers I'd planned to turn into lasagna or similar for dinner tonight. There's enough there for a family of four so I hope he's not expecting to take more lunch with him again tomorrow. Did a quick internet search to find a recipe for dinner, wrote my shopping list, packed Phoebe's daycare bag, took her to the loo, helped her brush her teeth, dressed her, dressed me, brushed my teeth, realised I didn't have time for a shower so scraped hair into a pony tail, dealt with another couple of emotional meltdowns about who knows what, and finally got us both into the car.

Dropped her off, which thankfully was easy. No tears or protests - she's pretty good these days, headed to shops and did shopping. Somehow spent a fortune but then did get things like batteries, more vitamins, a couple of change table items and some toiletries for hospital. Couldn't get Lansinoh, which is what you put on your nipples when you're breastfeeding, and I also use it to lanolise woollen nappy covers. Went next door to pharmacy to get that and it cost me $20!!! Couldn't believe it. I swear it was 30% cheaper than that when I had Phoebe. Anyway, just wanted to get everything and not have to worry about it.

Got home, rushed to loo, changed out of nice soft belly band into tight supportive belly band to relieve belly ache. Changed out of normal maternity bra into huge oversized (14D if you must know!) Bonds maternity singlet to relieve aching ribs. Changed out of nice t-shirt and jeans into daggy tracksuit bottoms and t-shirt. Don't know why I didn't just put them on in the first place. No one expects a woman at this stage of pregnancy to look good, least of all the ladies at daycare and the people in the supermarket.

Collected yesterday's mail from the mailbox, which I forgot to do yesterday. Put it all straight into the recycling bin - can't believe how much junk mail we get. Got shopping out of car, put it all away, rushed back to loo again. Realised that I had forgotten to put stock cubes on my list and that we only have 2 dishwasher tablets left. Unpacked dishwasher and stacked it with last night's dinner dishes, washed dishes that didn't fit in, tidied recycling stuff off bench. Followed sultana trail around the house, sweeping it up as I went. Hope Hansel and Gretel can still find their way home. Cleaned up Phoebe's breakfast mess, which by now was caked onto the table and chair like cement. Swept the fallen bits of cereal up from the floor. Marvelled at how dirty the floor was where hubbie and Miss Chief sit at the dinner table less than 24 hours after the cleaner had been and gave up all hope of ever living in a clean and tidy house.

Finally, at 11.06 sat down with a cup of de-caf coffee and the chocolate toffee biscuits I've been craving for 3 days (well, a poor Aussie alternative really but they're nice enough) and my recipe books to plan a nice pudding for dessert tonight. Still haven't had a shower, still need to change the kitchen bin bag and take the rubbish and recycling out. And I haven't even started on the to-do list.

Oh, gotta go, the plumber's here. Wonder if I'll get round to packing that hospital bag today or if I'll collapse in a heap and nap until it's time to pick Phoebe up again.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Now she can talk

Phoebe comes up with some little gems sometimes. Here are a few from the last week.

Goodness me, crows!
There is a gang of about five crows that hang around our garden and steal the cats' food at any opportunity. They really annoy me. I spend a lot of time banging on the patio door and yelling at them. A few months back I caught Phoebe banging on the door yelling "Bloody crows," and decided I'd better watch what I say around her.

The other morning she was opening the patio door and yelling, "Go away crow, go away. Go away crow." And a bit later she opened the door again and shouted in exasperation, "Goodness me, crow, go away. Go away, crow."

My sister tells me that my funny little niece, Lucy, also says "Goodness me" so I wonder if they've both got it from some television program, like Peppa Pig. I'm sure she didn't get it from me.

Finger-licking good
The day before she made me laugh when we were reading a story at nap time. Phoebe was in charge of turning the pages. She kept putting her index finger and thumb together and licking them. The funny thing is that she was licking them after she'd turned the page. I think Stacey, her teacher at daycare must do that when reading to the kids. She then did it rather randomly a few days later as we were leaving the shopping centre - no books in sight. I asked if that's what Stacey did and she told me it was. 

After Phoebe's nap on the same finger-licking day she asked for some fruit but we didn't have much worth eating. I was wondering out loud when we were going to get to the shops and commenting that all the fruit was past its best and she said "don't worry, Mammy, it's ok."

Thanks Phoebe.

I grabbed the phone to call Toby and see if he could pick some fruit up on his way home from work. I wasn't too keen to pop out myself as there was a rather large thunderstorm on the way and the sky was looking really ominous. Whilst on the phone I went out onto the patio to bring the washing in. It started to thunder. Phoebe picked the phone up and hit the call button. 

"It's ringing, Mammy," she said when she heard the dial tone.
Me: Oh really. Who are you calling?
Phoebe: Andrei.
Me: Oh ok then.
Phoebe: Hello Andrei. Phoebe. Sitting outside. Erm. Yes, erm. Thunderstorm. Erm. Tree. Best go inside. Er okay, bye.

It does sound rather like Andrei must have been on the other end of the phone conversing with her doesn't it? But no, this was a monologue.

Once upon a time...
She has similar monologues when "reading" stories. The other day she opened a magazine that was lying on the dining table. There was a car advert. And she said:
Once upon time in night garden a car. [mumble mumble some "words" I didn't understand.] The end.
No hitting!
Obviously Toby and I telling her that hitting and kicking is wrong is having some impact. Although she still can get a bit vicious at times, she has also been known to say to us, "No Mammy, don't hit Phoebe!" I should point out that we don't smack her or anything but seemingly certain actions get interpreted by her as hitting or pushing. The other day she and Toby were mucking about on the sofa with a bit of rough and tumble and she said, "No Daddy, don't touch me. Get your hands off me."

And the other night she was doing my hair, making it go all static. I pushed it out of my eyes and she said "No, just leave it. Just leave it. No touching."

A handle?
The other day we were in the supermarket and Phoebe started asking for lollies. Lollies in Australia often just means sweeties or candy, as opposed to specifically lollipops. I told her I wasn't buying lollies because we had chewy snakes in the car and loads of Easter chocolate at home. When we got to the checkout she kept asking for a handle.

"A handle? What do you mean a handle? [To Toby] What's a handle?"
Toby shrugged.
"Mammy, amma handle. Handle. Please."

Eventually we discovered that she meant a lollipop.

And I'll have the ice cream, thanks
Last night we were out for dinner with friends. We were all ordering dessert and we said to Phoebe, "Tell the man with the book [i.e. the menu] what you want."

She turned to the waiter and very clearly asked for "ice cream please."

"Would you like some chocolate sauce with that?" he asked her.

"Yes," she said.

A little later Toby and a friend had coffees brought to the table and Phoebe turned to the waiter and said, "Babycino please." Sometimes I forget she's only two.

But by far the funniest story that had Toby and me in stitches the other tea time is the one that started with Phoebe asking for "Chocolate?"

"No Phoebe," I told her. "You haven't eaten any vegetables. Eat that carrot if you want to have some chocolate."

She rolled her eyes and sighed as if to say, not this again. Then she frowned and folded her arms. 

"I'm grumpy," she announced in all seriousness.

"Really?" I asked. "Is Phoebe grumpy?"

"Yes," she said. "I'm grumpy, like Stacey."

I don't know where she got that from but it made my day.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Eee man, my little girl makes me laugh sometimes

I picked Phoebe up from daycare today.

When I arrived she was on her way to the toilet. I watched as she pulled down her leggings and knickers, sat on the toilet, did a wee and attempted to wipe her bottom. Well, wasn't I the proud Mammy.

Then she got off the toilet and did a nudie run around the classroom. Pride, fall and all that.

Eventually I managed to catch her and get her dressed and we left.

Sort of. See, there's this cubby house in the playground on the way out. Phoebe loves this cubby house. She likes to hide in it from me, knowing full well, I'm sure, that at 8 months pregnant it's slightly beyond me to get on my hands and knees and pull her out of it. Somehow I did manage to get her out, which displeased her greatly. I could tell that as soon as I put her down she was going to run back into the playhouse so I attempted to carry her to the car. She squirmed like a giant worm making it really hard to keep hold of her. So I half-dragged, half-carried her to the car. By the time we got there she was crying. I asked her what was wrong.

Phoebe: Don't want to leave daycare, Mammy.
Me: We have to. It's time to go home and get some dinner.
Phoebe: No, Mammy, wanna go back to daycare with Stacey and Jen.
Me: Everyone's going home now, Pheebs. There'll be no one here to play with or look after you.
Phoebe: No Mammy, I don't wanna go home. Wanna stay daycare.
Me: Really? Why don't you want to go home? What about if we play Boom Boom Pow in the car?
Boom Boom Pow is her current favourite song, which I find quite amusing in itself. Little Black Eyed Peas fan.
Phoebe [Shaking head]: No, Mammy. Nooooo.

Anyway, during a lengthy and emotional discussion about the relative merits of going home versus staying at daycare all night I managed to get her fastened into the car seat. We set off for home with my current favourite CD playing, the latest Black Eyed Peas, The Beginning. Not, by the way, the one with Boom Boom Pow on it. I turned it up hoping to distract Miss Chief with music.

Phoebe [Wailing]: Boom Boom Pow, Mammy. Boom Boom Pow.

So I changed the CD and cranked up Boom Boom Pow. When it started she gave an excited giggle and started to sing.

Phoebe: Phoebe happy now. Phoebe not sad any more, Mammy.
Me: Really? That's good.
Phoebe: Phoebe don't want to stay at daycare any more Mammy. Phoebe want to go home. Have yum yums. Go home and have dinner. Boom boom pow.

How she made me giggle as she basically repeated all the things back to me that I'd said in an attempt to persuade her that going home was a great idea.

The hilarity didn't stop there either. Back home I was getting dinner ready when Phoebe came into the kitchen saying, "Lookame Mammy, lookame. Phoebe wearing a hat. Look Mammy, a hat. A hat."

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sewing Project: Phoebe the Test Elephant

Meet Phoebe, the cute little Melly & Me elephant that started my sewing craze. I first met Phoebe back in August last year when we visited the in-laws in Highfields, near Toowoomba. My Mam and I wandered into a beautiful little patchwork shop called The Quilters Angel. The Melly & Me dinosaur, Dilbert caught my attention first but when Mam pointed out an elephant called Phoebe I just couldn't resist. I spent ages picking out fabrics for her.

I asked the lady at the counter if I'd need a sewing machine and she said it was advisable so I could get small enough stitches to keep the stuffing in. I didn't have one but my mother-in-law came to the rescue and loaned me hers. After a quick lesson in how to use it she suggested I make linings for the curtains I was having made. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Well, sort of. I started making a test Phoebe with fabric left over from the quilt we made at my baby shower. Then work got busy, my mother-in-law reclaimed her sewing machine (by which time I'd finished the curtain lining) and poor Phoebe sat earless for quite a while. The ears were to be hand-stitched anyway so I eventually got them done over Christmas. Then all that was left was the blanket, for which I needed a machine.

Then I bought a machine but got very excited about all the other things I could do and it was a further three months before Phoebe finally got her blanket. I finished her yesterday and presented her to the real Phoebe, who said "Wow, Mammy."

Here's a photo of them together.

So now I can get on with the proper Phoebe using the posh fabrics. But first I have to make a Mrs Perkins for the baby and then I have to acquire some decent toy fill - the stuff from Spotlight is rubbish. It goes all lumpy. But the Quilter's Angel are going to call me when they get some in and mother-in-law will pick it up for me. It might get finished within a year of buying the materials. Then again...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sewing Project Number 2 - Another dress for Phoebe

This second dress is actually the same pattern as the first but with slightly more pricey fabric and I also got brave and sewed some ribbons on it.

The first dress is looking a bit worse for wear after getting into a disagreement with the elastic band from a mattress cover in our (hopefully temporary top-loader) washing machine. It resulted in the beautiful lace section along the bottom getting ripped asunder and it's now all raggedy and a bit narrow to be honest. Phoebe hasn't seen it yet but as it's quite a plain dress I don't think she'll be interested in wearing it unless I replace the trim. Which is a total pain as it basically means unpicking and resewing the hem. Not sure it's worth it for a $5 dress. (I'm guessing that's how much it cost but I haven't worked it out. The buttons would've been the most expensive item.) But it's such a cute dress it seems a shame for her not to ever wear it again.

I think I'm familiar enough with this pattern now to risk some fancier fabric next time. But I don't know when that will be as I have another one lined up waiting to be made. I have purchased a second-hand duvet cover from the charity shop, which gives me massive amounts of material for $4. I'll use this to make my mock-up and then delve into it with the real stuff.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Spice Girl

I have given Phoebe some old spice jars to play with in her kitchen. As in jars that used to have spice in them, nothing to do with the aftershave. Although sometimes I wonder as one of Phoebe's favourite phrases is "Look at me", or rather "lookame Mummy" (I'm on a horse).

So anyway I was cooking dinner last night and Phoebe always wants attention at this time of day. It really bugs her that I might have something to do that doesn't directly involve her. I suggested she might want to cook in her kitchen whilst I was cooking in mine. That gave me some reprieve and I managed to plough through dinner and start tidying up.

A short while later Phoebe came into my kitchen carrying a spice jar from hers.

"None left, Mummy," she said and showed me her empty jar.

"Well, you'll just have to pretend," I told her.

"Yes," she said and returned to her kitchen.

Then it occurred to me that something wasn't quite right. Took me a while to put my finger on it but I soon realised that there were traces of spice in the jar she'd just shown me. I'd washed all the ones I'd ever given her to play with (not least because one of them was hot chilli powder). I retraced my steps in the kitchen. Three spice jars out of the cupboard, two back in the cupboard. So the third one must still be on the bench.... nope, nowhere to be seen.

I asked her to show me the spice jar again. Yep, definitely traces of spice in there.

Me: "Phoebe, did you get this jar from the kitchen bench?"
Phoebe: "Yes."
Me: "What did you do with it? Where is the spice that was in the jar?"
Phoebe: "Here Mummy," as she holds aloft her blender jug full of ground coriander.

I persuaded her to give it back as I needed it for cooking and diligently returned the contents back to the jar.

When Toby got home he said, "What's with the ground coriander everywhere?" so I told him the story.

This is what he found in Phoebe's kitchen (minus the jar of cumin, which he added for poetic license):

Actually the photo doesn't do justice to the amount of mess I had to clean up.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I think we've cracked it: Toilet-training 10 days on

So far so good.

After a week of little accidents in her knickers, Phoebe even managed to get to the toilet for her number twos on both Monday and Tuesday this week. (Yesterday she pooed in her nappy during her sleep at daycare.) We have had no wee accidents. She seems to have mastered holding it in, although it is more often that I think to take her to the toilet just to see than she actually asks to go.

I really do think we've cracked it. Gosh! It was so easy. I mean I know it kind of took 6 months but once we committed to actually wearing knickers and only using nappies for sleeps it's gone incredibly smoothly. I guess the timing just happened to be right. Lucky us.

I suppose there's still a chance that she'll get sick and have an accident or that she'll regress once the baby is born but even on Tuesday when she had a bit of a runny poo thanks to a virus, she managed to tell me and got to the toilet on time.

What a clever little girl.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Today is Phoebe's first day at daycare without nappies. She's been wearing knickers (or not wearing them, depending on her mood) for the last two days. I committed myself to toilet training and vigilantly took her to the toilet every hour starting on Monday morning. So today she went off to daycare with two nappies: one for her sleep and a spare just in case; and three spare pairs of knickers.

We've only had one accident since we started on Monday and that was a poo, which she came and told me about straight away and thankfully was nice and solid, well contained in her knickers and easy to clean up. She did learn from that though as she did a couple more that day and they were all done on the loo. So proud. I'm sure there will still be little accidents and who knows how it's going at daycare, but so far so good.

I'm probably slightly paranoid about accidents in the car or supermarket and take her to the toilet repeatedly until she does something. Before we go out. When we get there. Before we leave again. When we get home. I have her potty and a terry toweling nappy on stand-by in the car for emergencies and accidents, although I haven't started carrying them everywhere with me yet. I do put them in the bottom of the pram if there's room though.

I'm dying to phone daycare and see how it's going. I'm not picking her up today as I have my yoga class but I think I'll call just before I leave work and see how she went. Fingers crossed this is it and there's no more going back to daytime nappies.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Paid Parental Leave Irritation

I just had to blog about this because I'm mildly irritated.

Okay, so brief background. Last year, having not intended to have another baby for at least a year, I took the brave decision to leave my job of almost 7 years at the university. Basically, I had an offer of part-time work for an organisation that did not suck the life force from my body on entering the room. Everything about this new place and the people in it told me it was the right thing to do. There were probably only 3 things holding me back:
  1. Familiarity, better the devil you know, however you want to put it.
  2. Security and stability of a large-scale public organisation.
  3. The fantastic maternity benefits of 6 months full pay over the course of 12 months.
Well, as you all know I took the leap and I have had no regrets. As I said to Toby at the time, I couldn't put a baby that didn't yet exist, and for all we knew might never exist, before the one I already had. It was more important to me that I remove myself from the stressful environment I was in, find a vocation I truly enjoyed and maximise my time with my little girl.

Two months later I was pregnant. Okay so I always knew it was likely to happen at some stage and despite the loss of oodles of dollars in maternity pay I still have no regrets.

On 1st January 2011 the Australian Government introduced Paid Parental Leave. This is basically the equivalent of 18 weeks pay at the minimum wage. To qualify you have to have worked 330 hours over 10 out of the 13 months prior to the child's birth. This is basically just over 1 day a week.

So when discussing maternity leave, and in particular the fact that I don't get paid leave where I work now, people point out how good it is that I am eligible for the government's scheme. Don't get me wrong, it's great. EXCEPT that I am no longer eligible for the Baby Bonus. When I had Phoebe I got my employer's paid leave plus the Baby Bonus. If I didn't work then I would still be entitled to the Baby Bonus. In fact, I can choose to take the Baby Bonus instead of the Paid Parental Leave if I so desire. The government's Family Assistance website even provides a comparison calculator to help you decide which you're better off going for.

So I did that. According to the tool, which is just an estimate, we'll be a whopping $1,347.00 (approximately) better off with the Paid Parental Scheme than we would be with the Baby Bonus. And the government has made such a big deal about how great this is for families, working mothers and employers. Er... excuse me? In which world is $1,347(or £837 in real money) going to make that much difference to whether (and how long) women can afford to take leave to nurture and look after their babies? Seriously? I don't want to sound ungrateful but Ms "I can get the best job in the country if I steal it from a very nice man" Gillard, stop dressing this up to be something it isn't.

And that's all.