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Archive for August 2011

My first big blogging faux pas – I published an incomplete draft that I’ve been working on! Oops. Sorry to anyone who may have read it and thought “What the?” It’s now temporarily ‘private’ until I finish, hopefully soon!!

Pretty funny, huh?

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An early visit from Spring meant that we could indulge in some water play. As you can see, Neave ended up wearing most of the water!

Some puppet craft:

Some cake-decorating practice:

Some rowing:

I'm in the back and my sister Kate is in the front

And someone learnt how to do up his buttons on his own!

Oh Neave. You just couldn’t be any cuter. You’re still in the ‘can do no wrong’ stage: you’re cheeky enough to be charming, but not so naughty that you test my patience. A perfect balance. Soon it will wear off, but I’m enjoying it while I can.

1.  You have mastered walking now, and I love watching you do it. You remind me of a chimp, the way you hold your arms and waddle from side to side.

2. I love watching you eat. You grab a handful of food, and shove it right into your gob. Then you manipulate your fingers individually to make sure you get every last bit in there. Very messy, but you’re slowly getting better. In fact, you’ve improved so much that I now just let you go for it on your own at every mealtime. The mess is worth the entertainment you provide when feeding yourself!

3. I love how adventurous you are. Even before you were walking, you were climbing onto the couch, the coffee table, the windowsill(!) The first thing you do each morning when you get out of bed is point outside and say “Hm!”, meaning, “Take me out to play, please!” You absolutely LOVE going outside – you smile and laugh and have a go at everything on offer. You don’t seem to be afraid of anything. Recently at the park, I watched you climb a 6ft staircase, then hurl yourself down a very steep, curly slippery dip, spinning and rolling the whole way down. At the bottom you laughed, jumped up and headed straight back up again, having the time of your life. No wonder you are always covered in bruises.

4. I love the way you mimic so much of what we do. You pick up the phone and hold it to you ear and ‘chat’; you brush your hair with the brush; you stir the spoon in the bowl to ‘cook’; you give kisses and wave goodbye. You put a play handbag on your arm and walk around waving (just like Molly does when she is ‘going shopping’). You are totally adorable, and you always surprise me with how switched on you are. You are very observant, and keen to try everything you see.

5. I love your cuddles. You often come to me during the day, wanting nothing more than a nice cuddle. You wrap your arms around my neck, put your head on my shoulder and make contented little noises. I will never, ever get tired of these. Keep them coming! You also love giving/receiving cuddles and kisses with your brother and sister. They adore you, and you them.

6. I love how you walk around the house humming merrily to yourself. You also like to join in with any singing that’s going on, adding your own improvised tune and lyrics in gibberish. You automatically start swaying and bopping when you hear music.

7. You are quite good at keeping yourself entertained – finding toys for yourself, or finding new and interesting ways to play with things that aren’t toys (such as plastic bottles, remote controls, shoes…) Every now and then, you will bring me a book that you want me to read to you. Or that you just want me to watch you open and shut on your own, because sometimes that’s way more fun!

8. I love how you say “Mum Mum Mum” a lot. You probably don’t always mean me, but I think you do at least some of the time. Your first words are starting to emerge: you’ve said, “Hello” (or ‘Haalaa’) a few times, in response to our “Hellos”; when you’re having fun you say, “Yay Yay Yay Yay”, over and over; and on the swing you say, “Eeeeeeeeeee!”

9. I love that you’re still interested in your morning breastfeed, but not in a demanding or stifling way. If I’m not there, or if we don’t have time before work/daycare, then it’s no big deal, you just wait until the afternoon. I didn’t think I’d still be breastfeeding you at this age – Tiernan and Molly both weaned themselves at exactly 12 months (but my being pregnant probably had something to do with that). And I was very happy for them to stop breastfeeding by then, too. This time, there doesn’t really seem to be any reason why we shouldn’t keep it up a bit longer. At this point, I don’t think you’d really mind if I stopped offering you the breast each morning (which definitely wasn’t the case about a month ago!), but the fact that I’m still breastfeeding really isn’t bothering me as much as I thought it would, and I think I’d be quite sad to let it go… you are my last baby, after all.

10. I love that you are still happy to just go along with whatever we’re doing. Sometimes, despite my best efforts to plan around our family’s various sleep patterns, we end up being out and about when you really should be at home asleep. But you’re cool with that. You just hang out with us and enjoy whatever it is that we’re doing, and you don’t completely freak out and lose the plot because you’re over tired. Unlike some siblings that will remain nameless. So, thanks for that, Neave!

Hmm… let me think. Well, yes, there are just a couple of things I could mention that I don’t love as much:

A tantrum. On a shopping centre floor.

1. The 1-year-old-tantrums that you are perfecting (complete with back-arching, leg-thrashing, head-banging and of course, lots of noise). These are possibly worse than the (much, much louder) tantrums your sister throws, because at least I can reason Molly out of hers, sometimes. With you, it’s just a matter of waiting until you give up. Which can take a while!

2. Nappy changing. You are the wiggliest wiggle worm I’ve ever met. I’ve never been tempted to buy expensive pull-up nappies before (do they even make them in your size???), but now I’m definitely weighing up the pros and cons, because trying to wrestle you into a nappy several times a day is just not fun.

It wasn’t raining.

It wasn’t pouring.

The old man wasn’t snoring.

But this is what happened when Neave bumped her head on the top of the bed:

Ouch!

Two posts I read in the last couple of months have inspired me to get our butts out of the house more often. First, this one at Mama Mia, by Mia Freedman, which points out the startling trend that kids aren’t playing outside as much as their parents used to. It made me think about my own childhood, which was largely spent outdoors: playing with neighbours in the street, riding bikes, roller blading, going to the park, bushwalking, walking to the shops, ‘exploring’, climbing trees, staying out and about until dark. My kids? Well, they are very young, and there are three of them (making outdoor time harder to coordinate), but it’s inescapable that, regardless of the weather, my kids spend way more time inside than out. All year round. Hmm. As Mia points out, that can’t be a good thing.

I started to ponder why I find it so hard to just take them out to play. We have heaps of outdoor equipment to keep them occupied (swing set, cubby house, balls, trucks, not to mention dirt, grass and rocks!) So it’s not like I really have to provide much entertainment. We have a (somewhat neglected) dog, who I’m sure would love the company. It also would mean I get more time to do outdoorsy stuff like hang washing and pull weeds (which I never do, but know I should). So what is stopping me? Well, as with many things, it just seems harder than it really is. Getting three small children appropriately dressed, and slathered in sunscreen, before traipsing outside for them to get all dirty and sweaty, and then bring half the dirt/grass/rocks back into the house when they’re done… well, it’s quite daunting. Plus there’s the dog poo – it has to be dealt with first or the whole outing will be spent yelling “Watch out for the… poo!” The clean up when the inevitable happens: Not Fun.

Despite all this, it is slowly dawning on me that if I don’t teach my kids to play outside more now, then they won’t know how to later. I thought of all the great times I had playing outside, without parents watching over me every second of the day. Making friends. Trying things out for myself. Exploring and learning. I want my kids to have the freedom to do this when they are older, too. But that means I have to teach them how to be safe outdoors now. I have to lay the foundations for being responsible, as well as adventurous, now.

Then I read this post by Lexi at Potty Mouth Mama, about habit-forming. The idea is to do something every day for three weeks, so that eventually it is just habit – something you don’t think about, you just do. I thought, bingo, this is exactly what I need – instead of talking myself out of outdoor play, I’m just going to do it. Now, about 10 days in, I’m pleased to report that the going outside thing has been working for us. We did skip a few days when it poured non-stop, however. I’m not really the ‘Singin’ in the rain’ type. But we made up for it by purchasing gumboots and jumping in muddy puddles after the rain cleared!

Here are some more pics of our outdoorsy adventures:

So, thanks Mama Mia and Potty Mouth Mama for giving me the kick up the bum I needed! I’m finding it less and less of a chore to just say, “Hey kids, time to go outside for a while!”, get them all organised, and out we go. Since they’re so young (4, 2 and 1), I don’t like to let them out there unsupervised yet, except sometimes when it’s just the older two – I’ve been experimenting with leaving them out there for short periods while I get stuff done inside, every now and then. They’re pretty good, but like to push the boundaries a lot when they know I’m not looking, so it’ll take some time. But for now, I feel happier that their time spent outside and inside is looking a little more balanced these days.

This morning I popped four slices of extra thick, cafe style raisin toast into the toaster. Just like any other morning. Well, except for the ‘raisin’ part, that was a bit special.

The toaster didn’t approve of my choice. It protested. The build up was gradual, but soon I couldn’t ignore the thin, smokey tendril it issued, nor the distinct, whiney buzz. I popped the toast and performed a brief maintenance check. Nothing untoward was apparent, so I pushed the toast back down. All seemed well. I set about preparing the other ‘elements’ of my tasty breakfast dish: butter, weet-bix, tea.

Approaching the toaster once more to check on its progress, I was startled by a sudden, loud sizzling, followed closely by orange sparks and a sharp ‘pop’. Then silence. Mildly shaken, I first unplugged the angry toaster. Then I rescued my raisin toast from the wreckage. Happily, it escaped unscathed from the toaster’s clutch. A little pale, and frayed around the edges, but essentially unharmed.

My thoughts then turned to dealing with the miscreant toaster. I felt slightly betrayed. The toaster came into our lives about 12 months ago, purchased for a good price from a budget store. Chosen for its modest appearance and ability to toast four slices simultaneously, it settled nicely into our humble home. Despite its ‘cheapness’, I always treated it with respect – cleaning it regularly and sometimes even emptying its undercarriage of stray crumbs. I believed it was happy. Clearly not. The toaster was not content to just fizzle out and die peacefully – its final act was to try to a) hurt me, and b) ruin my precious raisin toast.

There will be no burial. And our next toaster won’t be named after its predecessor.

Rest in peace in our garbage bin, toaster.