Monday, January 31, 2011

Book of the Week: There's a Cow in the Cabbage Patch

This book continues E's fascination with all things animal. I like it mainly because of the illustrations, which are actually photographs of farm yard scenes made entirely from felt and embroidery. The story itself is not particularly complex; it's a litany of different animals winding up in places around the farm where they shouldn't be. Some nice, if simple, rhyme and the repetition "what shall we do?"

The answer:

(I am really quite enamoured with this page and may attempt to replicate it in felt, either for E or for whichever friend/relative has the next baby!)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Today I am grateful for ... happy news

Another horrible hot day that I spent wavering between being excessively irritated by Little E who is teething, grumpy and clingy and feeling guilty for feeling like that when I know the poor munchkin is only like this because her teeth hurt and she didn't have proper naps due to teeth and more hot weather.

So the day concluding with a phone call from a far flung friend, telling us that she is engaged, was unexpected and lovely and I am sending lots of happiness and congratulatory thoughts to Bel & Dom in Berlin. I am sure it will be no hardship to either of you to go out and drink many celebratory champagnes on our behalf!

Image credit:

Friday, January 28, 2011

A flat day

And, not coincidentally, a HOT day. It was 32C and noticeably humid by 8am. Despite, guiltily, having the air con on all night, D and I both slept badly and were less than enthusiastic when E decided it was morning at 5:55. D then raced off to work and I sat with E, in a hot house, in my pyjamas because I didn't have a chance to have a shower before D left, thinking, hmmm, now what?

Bit of a recurrent theme lately as E is hard to entertain. Every activity lasts about 30 seconds. She responds enthusiastically to books but often doesn't have the patience to get through an entire story which I find quite frustrating. She likes to torment the cat, sit under the sewing/computer table and play with the electrical cords, open and shut drawers, and pull books off the shelves. I feel like such a mean grump because every activity she wants to do I don't want her to do because they are all at least mildly dangerous/destructive. The last few mornings we have been playing on the lawn first thing because it is shaded until about 9am and E has begun to enjoy attempting to take a few steps with her Christmas walker. (Then she loses interest, plops down, and eats leaves instead).

I try to take us out a lot, although the stupid weather is complicating that. I hate rain and cold but would almost welcome winter because I would just cold and rain proof us both and go out despite the weather. It's harder with heat - we can and do go out covered in lashings of suncream and hats (for the five minutes or so that E will consent to wear hers) but sunburn and overheating are real worries and it's hard to be enthusiastic about walking anywhere when I arrive sweating and greasy and E arrives sticky and grumpy.

Blah. It makes returning to work sooner rather than later seem quite attractive, but when I think that I then feel guilty about the thought of dumping E with anyone else, even Mum, and especially in childcare.

So yes, a hot, flat day. I am glad today is Friday.

Anyone got any novel suggestions for entertaining a 10 month old?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

You can come too, too, too

Since before E was born (D claims since before he was an adult) the thing D most looked forward to doing with her was taking her to the zoo. I am more of a take-it-or-leave-it person when it comes to the zoo, but as a result of D’s adoration of them, can say I have been dragged to visited zoos in Singapore, Berlin, Vienna, Sydney, Geelong and country NSW as well as the ones I visited as a child in Perth, Melbourne and Adelaide.
Part of the appeal for D was that we would buy an annual pass and therefore be able to visit for child-friendly lengths of time on repeated occasions. The annual pass for two adults (children under four are free) is $130. It’s $21 each per visit if you don’t have a pass, so you need to visit four times a year to get good value out of it. D’s theory is proving sound so far: we bought the pass on Saturday, and somewhat to my surprise, had such a good time that I happily agreed to return on Sunday!
The hits on both occasions were animals that we could get nice and close to or were at least large and doing enough stuff that they were easily visible from a distance. On Saturday this meant penguins, elephants and sun bears. On Sunday: lions, orang-utans, various monkeys and painted African dogs.
Here are some random interesting facts about zoos:
* The oldest existing zoo is the Vienna Zoo in Austria, which evolved from the Imperial Menagerie at the Schonbrunn Palace.[1] The menagerie was founded in 1752 and opened to the public in 1765.[2]
* An open range zoo is due to open near Perth in 2024:
* Some zoos are now calling themselves “bioparks” or “conservation parks” in an effort to distinguish themselves from the now-criticised zoos of the 19th century.[3]
* In 1906 the Bronx Zoo displayed a pygmy man from the Congo in a cage with chimpanzees, then with an orangutan and a parrot, in order to demonstrate the “missing link” between the orangutan and the white man.[4]
* If you happen to be driving around the NSW south coast, and have an urge to see big cats and chimpanzees, all is not lost. You can do as we did in 2006(?) and stumble across the privately owned Mogo Zoo near Bateman’s Bay, and visit white lions, African lions, snow leopards, Sumatran tigers and “the biggest collection of primates of any privately owned zoo in Australia”.[5]
As D would say, what's not to like?

[2] Ibid
[3] Ibid
[4] Ibid

Monday, January 24, 2011

Book of the Week: Owl Babies

I like this one better than Little E at the moment, although I think it is growing on her.

The three baby owls wake up one night and their Owl Mother is GONE. The story is just what they think and talk about whilst she is away. Here are the aspects of it I particularly enjoyed:

  • The owls are called Sarah and Percy and Bill;
  • Every time the mummy owl is referred to, she is the "Owl Mother," complete with capitals;
  • The voices you can do for brave Sarah and sooky Bill (who only ever says "I want my mummy!");
  • The lovely detail in the pen and ink drawings - here's part of one of my favourite pages:

Our version of the book comes with an animated CD ("read by Georgiana Darcy!" said friend J when she discovered it lying on the couch).

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Today I am grateful for ... a return to self settling

So grateful.

Twelve uninterrupted hours.

Please let it continue.


To see who else is grateful this weekend, visit Maxabella's Grateful Saturday.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Book of the Week: Ten Sleepy Sheep

A quick effort for book #2 as we're in Bunbury and about to go for a pre-court walk.

This was another library find and it's a goody! It's a "count down" book, from 10 to one, but not nearly as simplistic as most books of that kind. Each page is in verse, and there's quite a sophisticated rhyme scheme and lots of lovely language:

Ten little sheep
Leap the cucumber vine.
Long grass bends.
Spider mends.
Sleep, sheep.
Now there are ..."

and then you turn the page. E loves to turn it at the right time.

Obviously by a British or American author as it mentions a few animals/plants I wasn't immediately familiar with - whipporwills, cattails, rose of heaven.

The left hand side of each page has a big picture of what the remaining sheep are up to, and the right hand page the verse and a smaller picture of the lamb that's going to sleep. Each sheep has a colour coded bow so you can track them throughout the book. The pictures are pretty pastels so maybe not ideal for a brand new baby (although the lyrical words are nicely soothing).

At the end of the book the last remaining sheep bleats "Mama, I can't sleep" and gets the response "Have you tried counting sheep?" and then there is a recitation of where the others went to sleep: "one by the vine, one by the rose ..." I just love children's books with a quiet bit of adult humour!

You could use it as a bedtime routine book but we like it so much it's been getting a good run during the day too!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Today I am grateful for ... libraries

More specifically, the Cottesloe-Peppermint Grove-Mosman Park library which recently had a huge face lift. It now has a fantastic children's room with lots of cushions and little chairs and a play house. I think the children's book collection is much better than the one in our local Cambridge library. They let you borrow 16 things at once so when we visited a week or so ago we came home with 14 picture books and two grown-up books ... admittedly the grown-up books do take a lot longer to read! If you are feeling similarly grateful for libraries and books, then check out my post below on Book of the Week.

For some reason not quite clear to me, the Cottesloe library also has chicks visiting for the next week or so ... chickens like books, right? This week, with our mothers' group, we attended a special chicken themed story time to welcome said birds. Which brings me onto my second pot of gratefulness for the week: I am very grateful for my mothers' group. 15 or so new friends for me, and let's face it, when was the last time I made 15 new friends? High school probably? Other people who have small children and who get it, not out of politeness, but out of shared experience. 15 friends for Little E who all live locally, and some of whom she will probably wind up going to kindy and school with. Guaranteed company at least once per week. Plenty
to be grateful for there.

This post was brought to you by Maxabella's Grateful Saturday.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The sleep saga so far

Little E has been what could fairly be described as a variable sleeper. At six weeks she was sleeping from 10:00pm to 4:00am and we were so impressed by this that we decided D should go back to work when she was seven weeks old rather than the planned 10 weeks, saving the rest of his long service leave for later.

At 13 weeks I gloated about the fact that she had repeatedly slept for 8.5 hours uninterrupted at night. At this stage, so long as she was wrapped up like a little caterpillar and had something interesting to stare at whilst dropping off, she would self settle without too much fuss.

Then at about four months came the great swaddling drama, combined by the move into her big cot and own bedroom.This heralded a return to night feeds and throughout this period we toyed with ditching the dummy. I think once we had eventually gotten rid of it, she was self settling during the day but often being fed to sleep at night, and certainly when she woke in the night as I was usually too tired and impatient to attempt anything else.

At about seven months E learned how to crawl and fairly rapidly how to pull herself up in her cot. She also became enormously clingy, screaming every time I walked out of her sight. Her ability to self settle evaporated and the only way I could get her to sleep at all, day or night, was feeding to sleep. She was waking up and getting fed once, and more often, twice, a night. At one stage D started going in to her the first time she woke up to see if she could be put back to sleep without milk. She could, but it was taking an hour or so at a time. We got lazy and went back to feeding to sleep. After a few weeks of this I persuaded E that rocking to sleep was okay (by her at least, I had doubts about the wisdom of starting it with a heavy little lump of a baby!) It was short lived and we were quickly back to feeding to sleep.

Over the last week or so, feeding to sleep has been less successful - E has either been waking up after 15 or 20 minutes, or just not falling asleep at all. At night she was invariably falling asleep whilst having her milk but then waking up after one sleep cycle or less, extremely angry. Yesterday I decided enough was enough and we would see if she could re-learn how to self settle. She didn't have a morning nap and by lunch time was good and tired. It took 35 minutes of screaming, but she did then sleep for 65 minutes.

At night she had her milk but did not fall asleep. She yelled for 20 minutes, then passed out. She did not wake up after one sleep cycle. D and I went to bed at about 9:00, not having heard a squeak out of her. She grizzled a little at about 11:00, but not enough that we got up. A bit after midnight she was properly awake. I went in, gave her a quick pat and said "it's still night time, sleep now, go back to sleep" and then left. She yelled furiously for 7 minutes, and that was it. At 5:30 we heard her talking to herself briefly but ignored her. At 6:45, D got up and had a shower. At 7:00am E was still out cold and we decided to wake her up, in the hope of reinforcing the idea that 7:00am is a good wake-up time. It was the first night since she was about four months old that she hasn't had a night feed.

This morning at about 10:00, after a lovely big play in the park, she put herself to sleep after 7 minutes of crying. I am feeling cautiously optimistic. At least, as Mum reminded me, until something changes again...

Image credit:

Monday, January 10, 2011

Book of the Week

Little E is difficult to entertain at the moment. She is 9 months worth of energy and movement and activity. The problem is, each activity lasts about 30 seconds. Maybe 60 or 90 if I'm lucky. It's driving me nuts, and it's compounded by the fact that it's too stinking hot to go outside.

The one thing that appears to have abiding interest for her is books. Since Christmas she is just mad for reading. D was home for the Christmas-New Year week and he was fantastic; the two of them read so many books together I thought the covers would all fall off. Her attention span is such that she doesn't always manage to make it through the whole book, but if we sit on the couch and hold up a book and say "I'm going to read (insert title)" she will come crawling over and top speed saying "ooh ooh ooh" in a very endearing and expressive way. She has also learnt to turn the pagen on request. We are both thrilled about this newfound interest - I, in particular, am a big reader, and if I had to choose one category of toy/amusement for my child to be fascinated by, books would win no questions asked.

I've been compiling a list of books I want to buy for her and with the Australian dollar so good it's taking a remarkable amount of self restraint not to get straight onto Book Depository and buy them all at once.

Anyhow, I thought it would be fun, and hopefully useful for others out there, if each week I write something about a book that we've particularly enjoyed. It would be fantastic if others would like to do this too, either by a post or a comment. It doesn't matter if your kids are a different ages to E. If I figure out how to do that link-list thing I might do that if there seems to be enough interest.

My initial thought for our first book was Toddle Waddle by Julia Donaldson, however I will instead just direct you to my clever cousin V's post on it: It is similarly popular in our house.

But without further ado, the first Book of the Week is ...

Chatting by Shirley Hughes
Walker Books, 1994

Like all Shirley Hughes, gorgeously illustrated. I fondly remember the Alfie and Annie Rose books from my own childhood. There is something undefinably and attractively English about Shirley Hughes' illustrations.

The book is a variety of examples/explanations of "chatting" in a toddler's day. There are moments of gentle humour for adults:

"Grown-ups like chatting too.

Sometimes these chats go on for rather a long time.


"When Mum is busy she says that there are just too many chatterboxes around.

So I go off and chat to Bemily
(the stuffed dog) - but she never says a word."

There are enough words to amuse without boring a 9 month old (and I'm guessing probably up to an 18-month old) and enough story that it's less mind-numbing for parents than the books that just contain a picture and a word on each page. The pictures are beautifully detailed so there's lots to talk about even if you don't really bother with the story.

Apparently there are three others in this series, called Giving, Bouncing and Hiding: all are definitely on our list of books to acquire!

Main image credit

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Today I am grateful for ...

It is big.

It is silver and shiny.

There is room in the freezer for baby food, and ice cream, and still more baby food.

I love our new fridge.

This post was brought to you courtesy of Maxabella's Grateful Saturday.
Image from

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Christmas 2010

D and I elected to have Christmas at our house because we thought it would be easier than dragging E between several houses, or trying to get her to sleep anywhere other than home. So Mum, Dad, D's parents, Grandma, my sister (and, briefly, D's brother) came here for lunch.

Mum and Dad did their usual baked ham and pudding. Grandma made her special potato salad. D's parents brought a yummy prawn, avocado and bacon entree, a salad and an orange and almond cake. I was sorry that by the time dessert rocked around I was too full to even contemplate the cake on top of the pudding! (Although I compensated for that over the next few days!) Sister S brought all the ingredients for a jug of Pimms, and a very exotic and Christmassy-looking salad made with barley, pomegranate seeds, fetta and mint. D & I got off lightly, providing another salad, drinks, nibbles and ice cream to go with the pudding. We were all very well fed.

Part of the feast

Presents-wise we also all did very well. I keep joking that we need a new house to fit all of E's loot in, but it's not far from the truth. The presents quite dwarfed our little tree!

(Our compromise between something that E could not destroy and our usual half hearted attempt (a poinsettia plant with a few decorations)).

E thought the presents were pretty good, although so was the paper...

At about 4pm E decided she had had enough of visitors and fuss and excitement and threw a complete fit, chasing all the visitors out of the house. I'd given her a smaller than usual lunch, anticipating that she would eat enough other bits and pieces during the day to compensate. Mum minced some Christmas ham for her at home and brought it along, and E ahd a great time playing with that, although I don't think she actually ate much of it. She also had fun chasing bits of potato salad around her tray, but I also suspect not much wound up inside her. By 4pm I think she though we were starving her, but at the time I thought she was just overwhelmed. Half an hour later, after the visitors had all gone away and she'd had some milk, she was perfectly happy, and we had a nice end to the day playing with all her new things.

Note to self: next year we should spread Christmas over several days as that way we can avoid the drive between Mosman Park and the hills and also avoid everything all happening all at once.

NB: for those who are interested there is another version of this post on my other blog with more photos.

.header-inner .Header #header-inner { margin-bottom: 100px !important; } .main-outer { margin-top: 15px !important; }