Saturday, April 23, 2011

International Postcard Swap for Families 2011

I just read about this and it sounds super! It is a way of sending and receiving postcards to/from overseas and of learning about good children's books at the same time.

It is being coordinated by Zoe of Playing By the Book. To participate you send her your postal address and your children's ages and sexes. She will send you the details of five overseas families, to whom you send a postcard on which you write a recommendation for a children's book. You will receive five postcards from families overseas in return (not the same families to whom you sent cards).

Zoe's email address is zoe (dot) toft (at) kuvik (dot) net. Full details of the project here.

I used to love writing to my interstate cousins when I was little and I also had a couple of overseas pen friends, so I couldn't sign us up quickly enough!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Good Friday

I realise we're not supposed to be happy, and I suspect you certainly aren't supposed to eat  red meat. But we are awaiting the arrival of 14 guests, coming to celebrate the return to country of one of D's far flung school friends, all bringing large amounts of dead animal with which to adorn our barbeque. Hurrah!

The no-being-happy-on-Good-Friday (and whatever Easter Saturday is called) was brought home to us two years ago. We got married on Easter Saturday 2009. In an Anglican church, by an Anglican minister. The Anglican church thing was what we wanted (and was more for the loveliness of the building and the not having to plan a wet weather option than out of any religious devotion) but our first choice of priest was a Catholic priest who teaches at D's Mum's school. Whereupon we learnt that no masses/ceremonies/whatever are to be performed by Catholic priests between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, except for funerals. Which wasn't exactly what we were after. Fortunately we found an Anglican minister, who for whatever reason wasn't subject to the same constraints as the Catholic priest, and as it turned out, was perfectly suited to us. We realised we were onto a winner when, at our pre-wedding meeting with him, he said "Okay. Your ceremony. High God, low God, no God?"

Good Friday 2009 involved trips to the beautician for me and bridesmaid S, and fish and chips and happy times on the beach with various relatives who had come all the way from Melbourne.

So extremely good times two years ago, somewhat good times one year ago (when Little E was three days overdue and we were frantically Googling "induction, advantages disadvantages") and good times today, even if we're not exactly being kosher about it.

Happy Good Friday to you too, wherever you are.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Panadol, the park and the kindness of strangers

Our day involved all three. Panadol, because poor Little E's three day respite from the dreaded teething is over, and the latest lot are making her incredibly miserable. I took her to see Mum and Grandma in the morning while I went to the gym, and she was reportedly happy whilst she was there. She was tired and ready for lunch by the time I got back, but refused to eat much of her scrambled egg. It is a bad day when E won't eat scrambled egg! So we loaded her into the car, and she initially looked as though she might fall asleep, which would have been fine, seeing as Mummy is now the master of the car to bed transfer. This lasted for all of about 30 seconds. For the rest of the ride home she screamed. The magic Tchaikovsky CD that usually stops her mid-roar did nothing. She howled, with her little fist jammed in her mouth, for 15 minutes solidly. About two minutes from home she abruptly stopped, and about 30 seconds later she was asleep. We drove around the block to make sure, then the master of the car to bed transfer executed another smooth maneouvre, unloaded a ridiculously enormous load of shopping from the car, and had 90 minutes of peace.

The peace ended at about 2pm when E woke up, still very unhappy. More crying, more finger sucking, more crying. So much crying that she didn't want to take Panadol, which she normally thinks is a pretty good lark. I walked, and patted, and sang, and distracted, and dispensed banana (for which the roaring stopped briefly, then resumed). She stood in the laundry and wobbled and sobbed whilst I went to the toilet. Eventually we sat on the couch, and whilst her head was thrown back and mouth open mid-scream, I squirted Panadol down it.

Then off we went to the park. She wasn't very happy about getting in the pram but once I bribed her with a rice biscuit she let me strap her in; when we started moving she seemed ok, and by the time we got to the park she was calm. At the park she seemed happy enough. Mummy had a pounding headache probably because she forgot to drink any water during or immediately after her first gym session in, oh, about 20 months. Fortunately the magic Panadol had done its thing and whilst Mummy sat there feeling relieved the screaming was done with, E pottered under the play equipment, examined leaves and gumnuts, stared at the big kids and staggered around banging on the slide.

At one point she got into my bag and discovered her absolutely favourite toy, my wallet. I have got into the bad habit of letting her play with it, and she will be quite absorbed for 10 or 15 minutes at a time opening and shutting it and pulling all the cards out. We then went home, but seemingly my wallet stayed at the park for a little holiday.

Which brings me to the third theme of the day, the kindness of strangers, namely the Mum of the big kids who was at the park, found my wallet, and figured out my phone number by calling the physiotherapist whose receipt was amongst the other junk I cart around. I wouldn't normally want health professionals to hand out our unlisted phone number, but this time I am grateful she did!

So there you go. A bit of a crummy day really, but with a hopeful note to end it, particularly given how much hassle it would have been to replace two credit cards, a debit card, a driver's license, and the grand sum of $6 in coins! Here's extending the hope for a good night.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Our garden, aka baby Funland

Our garden is starting to resemble a Fisher Price advertisement. See?

Plenty of plastic, all in bright colours. And all since Christmas! I console myself with the thought that it all makes entertaining Little E that little bit easier and that is surely a good thing.

The red plastic water table on the far left is the latest addition, scabbed from the Mosman Park verge collection on the way home from Mum & Dad's this afternoon. It came straight home, got a good squirting with the hose, filled up, and Little E spent the 20 minutes before dinner happily pouring water all over it, the lawn and herself. Thank you, rich people!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

An ordinary day was followed by a not-so-ordinary night

... and not in a good way. E went to bed  last night without fuss. At 3.15am I heard her talking and grizzling and complaining, enough that I thought it worth getting out of bed to check on her and give her a quick pat, then back to sleep for both of us. Obviously no one told her that was the plan. 15 minutes later I was still patting and she was still talking and wiggling, with no sign of impending sleepiness. I decided that my being there was just making her more wakeful and she could sort herself out. 

E did not agree. Grizzling turned into full on roaring. After 20 minutes I gave up and went back. She was scrunched face down in a corner of the cot, screaming as loud and as fast as she could manage. When I picked her up she had one fist jammed as far back into her little mouth as she could get it and was absolutely rigid. And hysterically inconsolable. Ten minutes of pacing, cuddling,  patting, talking, singing did made absolutely no difference. She was every bit as upset as when I went in there. Either her teeth hurt her so much that my efforts to comfort her meant nothing, or she was absolutely distraught that I had left her alone in the dark when I knew she was awake (never mind that I often do this at bed time and she grumbles a little bit but generally falls asleep within 5-10 minutes). Her first two molars are coming through, and have been making her miserable for the past fortnight, nasty little blighters, so it may well have been that. Or something else entirely, who knows.

D helped me prise her away from my shoulder, forcibly held her clenched little fist away from her mouth and jammed the Panadol syringe down her throat. She spluttered, swallowed, and went right back to screaming. During our laps of the house she did point at the couch where she often has morning milk, and the feeding chair in her bedroom. I was hesitant about letting her have milk given we haven't done a middle of the night feed in about three months, but in the end felt too terrible about the state she was in, and the idea that I was witholding the one thing that I thought would almost certainly give her some comfort. It did. Magic milk. It's moments like those I am eternally grateful she still feeding, albeit only twice a day. Unfortunately it wasn't magic enough to put her back to sleep. After half an hour I prised her away, to be met with more screaming, whereupon I clamped her into a cradle hold and rocked and sang at the top of my voice. It worked, thank goodness. After ten minutes she calmed down enough that I could put her into bed and after another 5 minutes of patting she was asleep.

So 90 minutes after my first stumble into E's room for a "quick pat" I stumbled back to my own bed, wondering what had happened and really really really hoping that it was a very unusual and not-to-be-repeated event. Fingers crossed.

Postscript on Friday morning: Thursday night was fine, not a squeak, and a 6:30am wakeup, hurrah!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

An ordinary day

I heard E squawking twice during the night, but nothing worth getting up for. By 6:10 she was definitely awake, and she and I got up and sat on the couch for milk, with Sunrise for company. Milk is still exciting enouggh, particularly now that it only comes twice a day, that the TV is worth ignoring. I suspect those days are numbered. We then returned to bed for a three person cuddle and chat, before we all got up and had breakfast.

After D left for work E and I played a bit and read some books. She was a bit grumpy and bored so I decided we better get out of the house. We had library books that were due back and so drove to Floreat Forum to give them back. E has developed an intense, although variable, dislike of the car. Sometimes it's fine, sometimes it deserves back arching, screaming, toy throwing. Today was the latter rather than the former and I was very glad the drive was only a five minute one. Once at the library she was perfectly happy, and very interested in toddling around pulling books from the boxes and dropping them randomly on the floor before progressing to the next box.

We were out of nappy wipes and I decided that the cheapness of the things at KMart justified the 15 minute drive to Innaloo. I really need to change the car toys over; the drive there was not a happy one. Neither was the trek around KMart, although as it transpired, that was probably because my little bottomless pit was hungry. After she spent most of it trying to stand up in the trolley, we stopped for morning tea. She was delighted when presented with a banana ("minga minga minga!") and devoured the whole thing in about three minutes. She then gobbled a cheese stick, a packet of baby rice cakes, and a handful of grapes.

Then home. After five minutes of extreme protesting and toy throwing E passed out in her car seat. She gets such a glazed look in the two or three minutes before she falls asleep in the car. At the moment I'm quite happy for her to sleep in the car as it involves her falling asleep easily and quietly without screaming or really any effort on my part, and , touch wood, I can almost always get her from car into her bed without trouble. I used to worry that letting E fall asleep in the car was lazy and that more importantly it was preventing her from learning to fall asleep on her own, but now it doesn't seem to disrupt the times she falls asleep at home during the day, or her night sleeps, so I'm willing to take the benefit without worrying about it.

While E slept I tried to nap. I've had a cough that I can't shake and I was feeling not so flash this morning so I read and dozed for about half her nap. I then made her lunch, and made and ate my lunch before she woke. Her lunch was boiled egg, which she loved, and loved eating outside. She sat in her high chair and stared at the bottle brush tree saying "bu bu bu" which I think is "bird bird bird" because we could hear birds singing there. 

After lunch more playing, some laundry, and some sand pit time. Mum came over in the middle of the afternoon which was great as she hadn't been here on her own during the day for ages. She also entertained E whilst I started our dinner, as well as E's dinner. Very nice to not have to do it with one hand whilst balancing E on the other hip!

Then I dispensed dinner for E, with News Radio for company, then cleaned up. A nice aspect of her being so much steadier on her feet is that when she gets covered in food I can stand her at the outside tap to wash her hands. 

After dinner it was bathtime. We had a few very unpleasant bathtimes last week that involved inexplicable screaming and demanding to get out, but the last couple have been good, lots of laughing and splashing and playing with new birthday bath toys.  The post bath nappy is usually an easy one, E tends to be relaxed even though she is generally tired, and I know she's going to bed soon so I make an extra effort to cuddle and tickle and talk and sing so she goes to bed happy. Putting on pyjamas can also be a bit fraught lately, but tonight was easy, so they went on quickly and we then had a few happy stories, and then milk, and then bed. Her current pyjamas are long arm/long leg suits with feet and white with red spots. Although E has been wearing big girl clothes during the day, when she is back in her jammies and falling asleep having her milk she is my little baby again and whilst I sometimes resent having to get up for the morning feed, I don't think I'm going to be in any hurry to stop the night time one any time soon.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

(Another lazy) Book of the Week: CBCA Book of the Year Awards

I will do a proper Book of the Week post at some point, because E scored big time in the book department on her birthday last weekend. We also made it to the library today, but the best fun was had in crawling in and out of the play house and in toddling along the shelves pulling books out, interspersed with gleefully grabbing them from the boxes on the floor, briefly examining them and then dropping them.

However, I thought I would instead mention that the Children's Book Council of Australia today announced the shortlist for its Book of the Year awards. For some reason its website doesn't yet have a list of them, but there is a full list at Slightly Addicted to Fiction

Of the Early Childhood list, the only one we have read is Noni the Pony. I quite like it and persist in reading to E in a rap style "Noni the pony is friendly and funny! Her shimmering tail is the colour of honey!" E doesn't think much of it yet (very shortly after it arriving in the house she ripped a great big tear in it) although I am hopeful that that will change. She isn't too excited about horses, but it does after all feature Dave Dog and Coco the Cat so should score well on the popular animals front. 

How do we know dogs are popular? E's current best party trick is, when asked "what noise does the doggy make?" to give an enormous, gorgeous grin, showing all six of her little white teeth, and to make enthusiastic panting noises. Given the response she gets upon doing this, she has now started doing it as soon as she sees a dog, real or in pictures. This has deviated somewhat from being a book post, but as her unbiased mama I can confidently say it is close to being the cutest and cleverest thing I have ever seen, so well worth a mention!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Birthday girl

This time in 2010 E was just over a week old and we had been home from hospital about 24 hours. In a year she has learnt to suck, smile, reach, hold, laugh, roll, sit, chew, crawl, babble, stand and walk. Her weight has increased by nearly 250 percent and her height by nearly one third. Her chubby little fingers are wrapped firmly around our hearts.

We had a lovely brunch for her at home last Sunday with her four grandparents, her two great-grandmas, her aunty, her uncle and her best little friend and his parents. It was a gorgeous day and we were all very happy. D barbequed up eggs, bacon and other goodies, we had mountains of fruit, yummy crepes, animal gingerbread and the much planned bird-topped cupcakes. Especially compared to Christmas with a similar crowd, when E was a bit uncertain about it all for most of the day and then threw a complete fit at about 4pm, she had a fantastic time. She liked opening presents, happily ate almost a whole stewed apple crepe and mushed a cupcake after inhaling the sugar bird which is the sweetest, most artificial thing she has ever been allowed near, and had a ball with her friend H (aged two and a half) pushing her around on her popcorn car. 

I had a busy hour or two getting ready before everyone arrived, but once that was done I had such a happy morning (and not just due to several glasses of champagne!)  E's big day made me really reflect on the year we have had. That, plus just the way things have worked out have made her seem suddenly significantly older. We've been dressing her more in tshirts/shorts/pants rather than one piece suits and her hair is longer and she has six teeth that are visible when she laughs, so she looks much more like a little girl rather than a baby. Her understanding of what is said to her has increased exponentially. When asked "what noise does the doggy make" she will grin delightedly and make panting noises in response. Yesterday when D said "bring the book here and Daddy will read it to you" she actually brought it to him. From her first three steps five weeks ago, to a couple of hesitant steps a few times a day when there was something enticing nearby that it was worth exerting the effort to get to, she can now stagger drunkenly from one side of the room to the other. She still sits down suddenly every now and then, and still crawls if she wants to get somewhere particularly fast, but "toddler" is about right.

It was a lovely day to end a wonderful, exhausting, life changing, life beginning year.

**PS more photos on the other blog for anyone interested.**

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Nasty nasty nappies

Nappy changes are such torture for both of us at the moment. And not because they involve copious amounts of yucky one year old poo. Because every single one (other than the early morning one, which I make D do, and for which E always seems to be in a good mood) involves wiggling, whinging, crying, crawling, sobbing, complaining, struggling, today standing on the change table and throwing things off the bookshelf and too often said one year old poo all over my hands and the change table. I have just done two in an hour and cannot wait for E to be old enough to toilet train.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Lazy Book of the Week: a plug for Slightly Addicted to Fiction

We haven't been to the library this week and so have been trawling our way through old favourites, most often Toddle Waddle and Shirley Hughes' Chatting, Giving, and Bouncing. So I don't have a book to recommend today, but thought instead that I'd mention the book blog to end all others: Slightly Addicted to Fiction.

Its authored by one of the lovely ladies my Mum used to work with at CMIS; she is now a judge for the Children's Book Council Book of the Year awards. Her prolific website is full of information about books, publishing, reviews and literary awards, with a particular emphasis on children's fiction. Each week she has a list of links to articles about books/authors/awards that have  recently appeared in  newspapers, magazines and journals. Today she has a post about Australian authors because April is Aussie Author Month.

If you're trying to decide on a book for a present and need some inspiration, or are wondering what to read next yourself, her site is well worth a visit.
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