Monday, December 20, 2010

Creating traditions

I love the idea of families having special Christmas traditions. A friend's family has a day each December where they invite over as many people as want to come, everyone brings a rolling pin and biscuit cutters, and they churn out hundreds of gingerbread cookies. The host family winds up with enough that they can give them as Christmas gifts to all and sundry and everyone who attends goes home with a bagful.

One Christmas tradition my immediate family has is that of the Christmas pudding. It is really mainly Dad's tradition and he is the main cook. He and Mum have been using the same recipe for about 20 years. Pudding-day is late in November or early in December. The recipe makes two ginormous puddings that are far more than we could ever eat on Christmas day; fortunately they keep indefinitely (on occasion we have cracked the second one out for Easter!) The recipe calls for huge quantities of dried fruit, 10 eggs, flour, brown sugar and liberal amounts of brandy. We make it a gigantic ceramic mixing bowl. Everyone in the family must have a stir for good luck, if not immediately upon it being put together, then sometime that weekend.

It occurred to me that traditions can evolve organically - which is lovely - but sometimes if you want nice things to occur you have to put in a bit of effort and deliberation and kick start them. So the tradition I instigated this year is that of the tree decoration. D and I never bothered with a tree in pre-E days, we always just had a poinsettia with a few decorations. This year we had big plans for a "proper" tree but that was before E taught herself to crawl! The compromise is a 45cm $8 fibre optic number from Coles and it is placed well out of reach on a table top. In years to come I hope E will help with or be responsible for the year's addition to the decorations, but the photo at the top is my attempt this year (in recognition of E's complete bird obsession).

We also plan to take E to church on Christmas morning. We are not especially religious but both were taken to church on Christmas day as children (and D more frequently). I want E to grow up thinking that Christmas is about something more than presents even if I don't necessarily believe iin all of the Christian aspects of it. D and I both love the carols and hope that E will enjoy the spectacle of a Christmas service. That's the plan anyway.

What Christmas traditions does your family have?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Today I am determined to be grateful for breastfeeding

Lately I have been finding the fact that Little E (at 8 + months) still wants to feed every four hours (definitely during the day and often during the night) very frustrating and depressing. So today I am determined to be grateful for it. To be grateful that we have had a really easy run breastfeeding - no horrid cracked nipples or supply issues. To be grateful for something that is the best for her and good for me, healthwise. To be grateful for a chance to talk and cuddle multiple times every day. She will be big too soon. Grateful. Oh yes.

This post comes to you courtesy of Maxabella's Grateful Saturday.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Craft for the craftily challenged

I am not the most craftily-enabled person around. In home economics at school I was the person accidentally sewing their material to their lap or gluing their fingers to the table. However, with a friend's baby due I wanted to make something for her. Some months ago I bought a breast pump from a website and was sent this nappy wallet as a freebie. I would not have thought of buying it, but it's been really useful in the bottom of the pram for outings that don't justify dragging along a whole bag worth of baby accoutrements. It's literally just a cotton pouch, with a fold-over velcro-secured flap, lined with a different colour fabric. I, ahem, decided it would be easy enough to sew one for said friend. Well, it was. Kind of...

Expedition One to Spotlight:
1. Arrive at Spotlight. Realise that Spotlight is the size of several enormous barns. Whoever knew crafty types needed so much stuff?
2. Spend inordinately long time choosing fabric whilst baby grizzles.
3. Get in stupidly long queue. After about ten minutes of standing in queue bouncing baby, think about fact that the only scissors in the house are for cutting fingernails, food or wrapping paper. Get out of queue and add unreasonably expensive pair of fabric scissors to basket.
4. On way back to queue, think about fact that whilst we have a (borrowed) sewing machine it only has white thread on it and chosen fabrics are dark blue, and white with red and blue flowers. Go back to thread section and add red and blue thread to basket.
5. Get back in queue. Get sick of bouncing baby and decide that you need a measuring tape in a cute green magnetic tin with a frog on it. Ignore the little voice in your head that says they only put cute stuff like this alongside the queue because they know their queues are so long and that people will get bored in them and decide to buy more stuff. Add measuring tape to basket.

Attempt One at Home
1. Spend a week or so looking at fabric in pleased, ambitious sort of way. Hold two bits of fabric together and admire how they match nicely. Show them to anyone who comes to the house and tell them all about what a useful gift you are making.
2. Decide that it might actually be time to start doing something with fabric. Realise that whilst your nappy pouch appears to just be two types of fabric sewn together, and you now have two types of nicely matching fabric (plus a whole bunch of other stuff...) you have no idea how to actually turn two pieces of fabric into nappy pouch.
3. Decide that you can actually use your very cute magnetic frog measuring tape to measure your nappy pouch and cut out bits of paper the same size and then figure out how to sew them together. Spend an entire evening in front of the television trying to measure existing nappy pouch, and bits of paper, and then cutting out bits of paper. Give up and go to bed.

Attempt Two at Home
1. Decide that Google Knows Everything. Google "nappy pouch" and then "diaper wallet" and discover that, fortunately, you are not the first person to have had this good idea.
2. Find and be very grateful. There are actually two posts on the site that are suitable although one is ostensibly for an electronics cozy: they are and
3. Realise that you will need something to draw on fabric with in order to be able to cut in straight lines and that pen is not ideal.
4. Give up and go to bed.

Expedition Two to Sewing Shop
1. Go to expensive sewing shop in Subiaco because the thought of another Spotlight trip is too daunting.
2. Ask intimidating sewing shop lady for "one of those chalk pencil things you can draw on material with."
3. Accept the do-you-not-know-anything stares along with the "tailors' chalk" offered, pay for it and escape before the baby realises you have dragged her to another sewing shop and throws a complete fit.

Attempt Three at Home
1. Utilising "tailors' chalk," cute magnetic green frog measuring tape and ruler-from-the-pantry, draw appropriately sized rectangles.
2. Spend about twenty minutes painstakingly cutting it out using new fabric scissors.
3. Concede that fabric scissors aren't going to cut it, haha, in terms of precision and that you are going to have to go on...

Expedition Three to Spotlight
1. Get to Spotlight and pretend that the baby is not screaming as soon as she realises you are taking her into her absolute least favourite shop in the whole world.
2. Find the section that flogs patchworking stuff and realise it is expensive.
3. Decide it is an investment, because after all, you are going to do this again, aren't you?
4. Choose a rubber mat thingy for cutting on and a pizza cutter thing for cutting fabric.
5. Stand in another queue.

Attempt Four at Home
1. Realise that attempting precision cutting, even with a fancy new rubber cutting mat and pizza fabric cutter thing at night, whilst tired is not the best idea. But when else is it going to happen? Certainly not during the day whilst the baby eats every piece of fluff off the ground she can find, alternated by tormenting the cat.
2. Discover that D is much better at using the pizza cutter thing. He claims it is because he got good experience cutting tiles when he and Dad fixed the tiles in our bathroom. Decide to let it pass and be grateful that someone in the household is able to cut the fabric into pieces.
3. And that was really the last of the issues. The instructions (I chose the electronics cozy version because it looked easier) were actually pretty straightforward to follow. It took a few more evenings and another trip out to buy press studs (fortunately from the supermarket and I whisked them off the shelf before E could realise they were sewing related and tell me what she thought of that) but it appears to be finished.

Here is what it looks like...

Postscript: if anyone tells you that I actually quite enjoyed this and have enough material left for another one and D's cousin is expecting a baby later this week... well, you should laugh and refuse to believe them...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Today I am grateful for ... marriage and breakfast

Two pots of Maxabellian gratitude today, of varying degrees of seriousness.

In our 8 years D and I have attended 11 weddings. Three of these marriages have now ended. I am very grateful that ours hasn't. I don't think there is a magic formula and I don't think we "work" at it as such, but we are conscious of how precious it is, and we bite our tongues rather than sniping about small irritations, and make an effort to do and say little things for each other.

On the less serious note, I am also grateful for breakfast. For creamy-eggy-crunchy-greasy-bacony goodness. And salty hash browns, lovely red tomatoes and glistening baked beans. For a meal that we can both get to, and Little E can enjoy with us, without needing to arrange a babysitter. That can be shared with friends on either side of the Great Divide. And if we can persuade Little E to have her nap, we are off to enjoy some this morning!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Shhh, shhh...

... the baby's sleeping.

And she was not fed to sleep.

A few weeks ago this would not have been worthy of note, but ever since her uber-clingy phase started Little E has either been fed to sleep, or has screamed the second I walked out of the room and has not slept.

Not that, in other circumstances, starting a rock-to-sleep routine with a baby verging on the 9kg mark would seem like a good idea, but currently the fact that she fell asleep without being attached to mummy feels like an accomplishment!

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Great Divide

Albeit with a few notable exceptions, parents and singles might as well inhabit two different countries. You definitely get a new passport on the birth of your first-born and there's no such thing as joint citizenship. Generally even the most well meaning of friends simply don't get it. They come to visit in the first few weeks post-baby, arrive an hour later than they say they are going to, don't bring food, and stay for three hours. When discussing holiday plans they suggest that it might be worth the saving of the budget airline ticket to fly at midnight and that you could wake the baby up to go to the airport because "it will go back to sleep won't it?"

Before going any further, I readily admit falling into the completely clueless category prior to E's arrival. I remember a friend and I going to visit another friend in hospital when her baby was about 48 hours old. We stuck around for something like two hours because we thought that  the new mum was probably bored when no one was visiting and would appreciate the company. The fact that the baby was probably feeding every two to three hours at that stage and that the lucky mumma was squeezing eating, showering not to mention sleeping into the gaps in between obviously didn't occur to us.

But every time I think that I've accepted that the haves and have-nots reside on different planets, another example crops up and surprises me. I ventured out to a colleague's birthday party on the weekend, leaving Little E at home with D. I wasn't sure I'd have a good time as I didn't know how many people there I'd know, but I thought I should take the chance to go out and engage in some adult conversation. I wound up quite enjoying it - it was at a beautiful house with a pool and outside bar, fancy catered food and I did know enough people that I wasn't standing around awkardly looking for someone to talk to. 

Early in the evening I spent a little while chatting to another colleague and then drifted off to talk to others. By about 9:30 I'd had enough - I'd enjoyed being out, but it was cold, I'd spoken to everyone I wanted to, and I thought there was a chance E would wake at around 10:00 and be difficult for D to re-settle. (It's funny how, having not been out for ages,  the anticipation and planning of going somewhere are as important as the event itself. By the time the  event rocks around, a little time away seems like enough).

I stopped by the colleague I'd spoken to first to say goodbye. The conversation went as follows...

Slightly-drunk-childless-colleague:  What time do you call this? (Half-laugingly). 
Proud-of-having-gotten-out-of-the-house-new-mum: Time for those of us who will be up at 5am to get going...? Slightly-drunk-childless-colleague: I'll be up at 5:00 tomorrrow and you don't see me piking!"**
Proud-of-having-gotten-out-of-the-house-new-mum: But how many times will you be up in between now and then?
Slightly-drunk-childless-colleague: (Pause, then look around at the  eight or nine surrounding people so they can all join in the comedy) How old is the baby? Nine months? Time to wean!***
Slightly-flabbergasted-proud-of-having-gotten-out-of-the-house-new-mum: Um, no, not yet...
I still can't decide if I regret not saying all the clever replies I thought of on the drive home.

** (an early morning cycling enthusiast)
*** (incidentally, "the baby" is eight months old)

Image credit

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Today I am grateful for ... weekends

For a while now I have been admiring the blog of the lovely Maxabella and it is finally time to do as she does each week and reflect on things I am grateful for. And this weekend I am grateful for weekends, because:

1. Weekends mean company all day long (and not incidentally, the company of the person I like best!)
2. Weekends mean help/company during the screaming that currently accompanies nap-time
3. Weekends mean the chance to go out at night while E's lovely Dadda stays home with her.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Swim swim swimming = sleep sleep sleeping

Hurrah for Beatty Park and its fantastic water-shooting-flowers and raining mushrooms and gentle slope entry and dozens of happy children.

Yesterday was a new record of the worst kind: a no-nap day. As in NO naps. Not short naps. None whatsoever. Today was not perfect sleep-wise, but coming off yesterday as a starting point anything was going to be better!

I am probably jinxing this by writing it...
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