Friday, June 28, 2013

E at 39 months

Indulge me, internet, whilst I ramble about our lovely little bundle who is three years and nearly three months old.

She is a chatterbox. She talks in full sentences with only an occasional mispronunciation, grammatical error or misused word. One of her funniest repeated malapropisms is, when interrupted at play, shrieking "stop it! You're destroying me!" Speaking of shrieking, she is almost incapable of speaking quietly. Everything takes place at full roar.

She is gradually learning letters and numbers. She can count reliably up to about 10 and can recognise "E" ("E for me! that's my letter!") and "M" for Mummy and "D" for Daddy. I learnt recently that the word for the ability to accurately recognise or judge the number of objects in a group is "subitise" - anyhow, she can do that for up to four items.

She started 3 year old kindy at Moerlina School two mornings a week this term and loved it from the start. We were so relieved as she never really enjoyed daycare. As we are all onto our third cold for the winter (and it's not even the end of June!) we are also really relieved that D's parents are happy to look after E on a Monday morning instead of her going to daycare. Now that she is at kindy we don't worry so much about her needing time with other children and are just happy to cut down the number of germy noses and fingers she is exposed to each week.

Her imagination appears to be in constant overdrive and she entertains the kindy teachers by announcing who she is each morning. The most frequent characters have been elephants from Barbar (Isabelle, Flora, Celeste) but Angelina Ballerina also makes regular appearances. Interestingly, given how imaginative she is, she has become more demanding about play. I feel as though six months ago she was much more capable, or possibly just willing, to play on her own for short periods. Now she wants constant company and interaction.

She goes easily to bed in the evenings and reliably sleeps from about 6:00/6:30pm for a good 12 hours. The trade-off is that day sleeps are completely a thing of the past.

Her favourite foods are still, unquestionably, pasta and fruit. However, she is becoming more willing to eat red meat - lamb chops and meatballs were recent hits.

She has times when she really enjoys other children's company and times when they simply frustrate her and she cannot understand why she has to share or take turns. During these time she is a real little charmer and pushes and shrieks and snatches. She claims she does not like little boys and is developing favourites among the girls at kindy. She talks in the most heartbreaking manner about "my best friend so-and-so" but I don't think she properly appreciates the concept of "best friend."

She is frustrating and endearing all at once. She has completely selective hearing when it comes to instructions or requests she doesn't want to hear. She has learnt how to bargain "just one more minute Mummy" - accompanied by waggling finger. She does scarily dangerous things without any appreciation of how dangerous they are (running down the driveway at full speed towards the street and attempting to jump out of the pram at the traffic lights are two examples from today). When she is silly with tiredness she runs naked from the bath,  jumps onto her bed and hides under her blankets, still dripping wet, giggling delightedly. Thirty seconds later she has a meltdown because she doesn't want to brush her teeth. Then she demands "all the kisses" and tells a story (Daddy's particular bedtime routine) and sits on my lap and cuddles me and pats my face whilst I sing hush-a-bye-baby. Then D and I escape out the door and I am both overwhelmed by love for her and overwhelmed by relief that she is safely in bed for the night.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Central Coast Holiday

A few weeks ago we had a holiday on the NSW Central Coast. We went primarily for one of my oldest friend's weddings but stayed a few extra days to make a little holiday out of it. Mum and Dad were there too as they were also good friends with the bride's family way-back-when.

The Central Coast is the region that surrounds Gosford and the Hawkesbury River, about one to two hours north of Sydney. It is dramatic, beautiful and varied country: a mixture of mountains, heavy forest and beach but also some pretty decent sized towns. We stayed in a rented holiday house in Copacabana. It came complete with trampoline, swing set, bunk bed and boxes of toys to use so E was happy, and so we were we as we packed minimal entertainment for E her in anticipation. We'd recommend it to anyone with kids who needs someone to stay in the area.

The wedding was held at a luxury holiday house/function centre on a bush block just outside Copacabana.

The bride and groom, most of their immediate families and some of the many bridesmaids were all able to stay onsite, and the guests were able to enjoy not having to drive between the ceremony and reception. I have known the bride since we were about seven years old and was very pleased to be able to go to her wedding and meet her lovely little boy.

The next morning we trundled down to Avoca Beach for breakfast at surf club cafe. 

Breakfast with a view
We, especially E, were big fans of Avoca Beach. It was grey and cool for most of our holiday (either that or absolutely pouring with rain) but E did not care. She had a wonderful time on the beach - was just joyous to be let loose on the sand, rockpools and in the water.

Run run running
Although the waves were rough enough for surfers the entry to the water was flat and shallow for a long way, and the rockpools were perfect for toddler investigations.

The third day was dismally wet but we ventured out to meet my sister and her fiance (who have recently moved to Sydney) at Berowra Waters for lunch. This involved braving the Pacific Highway in blinding rain and then inching our way down a crazily steep mountain road to get to a ferry crossing.

On the other side of the river was a marina and a seafood buffet lunch! 

We were reluctantly impressed by the low price of food/drinks in NSW (it's apparently all because of pokies). Probably the best example was this lunch - an adult seafood buffet was $50 and a child's serve was $6 and E certainly got her money's worth, eating close to her own body weight in calamari.

Our fourth day we started close to home with breakfast at the Copacabana surf club. It really is a beautiful part of the world:

This day it was actually sunny so we followed breakfast with some more beach time (and this time had the brains to take E's bathers).

Further taking advantage of the good weather we then headed for the Australian Reptile Park which is near Gosford. One of the star attractions is Hugo the Galapagos tortoise who is 160ish years old. The park actually has much more than just reptiles - it has a big Tasmanian devil breeding program, koalas, kangaroos and dingoes.

To turn the day into a complete animal marathon we finished up with the reptiles then hooned off to The Entrance to see the daily pelican feeding.

E fell asleep in the car and was quite surprised to wake up
and find herself surrounded by these big beasts.
Our very last day we drove back to Sydney and squeezed in a quick Taronga Zoo visit with Aunty S before the airport and home.

The best view of elephants in the world
We enjoyed our holiday. Travelling with a small person is getting easier and easier. With Aunty S living in Sydney we anticipate some more NSW trips in the near future. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day, the pop-culture version

This is D's summary of the story E told him at bedtime last night when he asked her to tell a story about Mother's Day. Apparently the original was significantly more detailed.

On Mother’s Day we must be kind to Mum, and make her cheddar-cheese pies (Angelina), and build a house. Bob the Builder built the house but forgot to build the swings (Peppa Pig).  A band played (Rah-Rah). But the house was made of sticks and the big bad wolf blew the house down (Three Pigs). So they built a new house on Sesame Street.

Monday, April 15, 2013

A very Peppa birthday

E turned three earlier this month. Three! She was so excited. Excited about being three, excited about becoming a big kindy girl, and very excited about having a party. It is the first birthday she had with friends instead of just immediate family. 

The beloved Pig having been the  flavour of the last six months  we went for a very loose Peppa theme. This got us multiple days worth of art/craft activities. Gluing pictures printed from the internet onto party hats was one day's worth. Making origami baskets was another one. Gluing the pigs onto the baskets another. I looked at lots of origami websites and now can't remember which one I actually used, but there are loads out there. 

We also made goody bags which were small clip seal bags topped with paper Peppa printouts also courtesy of Mr Google and which I don't seem to have taken a photo of. Each  one contained a few Easter eggs (the party was on Easter Sunday), a bubble mix, a balloon and a Peppa badge sourced from eBay.

We invited three girls from playgroup and four family friends. That made seven kids, including E, plus the baby brother of one, plus all their parents. It was definitely the biggest crowd we've entertained in a while! The only organised activities were a treasure hunt that utilised the baskets and pass the parcel. Watching three-year-olds try to participate in a game that is, on reflection, one of the greatest exercises in sharing out there, was very funny.

Food-wise I made and froze sausage rolls and mini-quiches over a few successive Mondays whilst E was at daycare. Together we made PP biscuits using this biscuit cutter. The day before the party I made the cake. On the morning of the party we cut up fruit, made sandwiches. and threw some cheese, biscuits and dip on a plate. That was it.

On the day of E's actual birthday D and I both stayed home and, at her request, we went "to the beach to get crashed by waves." April has been stupidly hot but this meant it was a perfect beach morning. We then had fish and chips and squid for lunch. Speaking of little piggies, E is quite capable of devouring a dozen squid rings all on her own!

E was very spoilt present wise. I think I am going to have to start controlling my urges to buy her silly amounts of stuff sometime soon.

We asked E as we were putting her to bed that night if she had enjoyed her birthday. She thought for a minute then said "yes, a little bit. But I liked my other birthday (as in her party) more Mummy!"

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Chatting with our chatterbox

E just talk talk talks all day long at the moment. She can be scarily distracting in the car, so much so that I have found myself bellowing "just be quiet for a minute in the carpark!" This is usually followed by ten seconds or so of silence then "Mummy? Can I talk to you now? What about now? Now?" Even if she is not talking to someone else she prattles away quietly to herself whilst absorbed in play. She manages quite complex sentences and her grammar is much improved. I am a bit sorry that so many of her baby mispronounciations are fading away. Some of the most persistent are:
* Olephant
* Aminals
* Cumber (cucumber)

It was late by the time we got around to bath time tonight and after five minutes or so I said "Come on E, time to get out now." 
She said "Ohhhhh .... I don't .... I wish we had a cuckoo clock."
I didn't have a reply for that one!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Icy pole for breakfast, anyone?

E decided recently that icy poles constitute breakfast food.

I decided, that, given we were having Perth's fourth hottest February ever, and so long as they involved yoghurt as well as fruit, it wasn't worth fighting over.

And so the breakfast icy pole was born. We've done two versions, one involving a large handful of mixed frozen berries zapped in the microwave until mushy and then mixed with a few big spoonfuls of yoghurt, and another one with whizzed mangoes and yoghurt. Next time  I plan on making them more yoghurt-heavy as E doesn't much like milk and so we try to give her lots of alternative dairy, and she does eat loads of fresh and dried fruit. I might also try sneaking in chia seeds because I'm keen to see if they really do go gelatinous when mixed with liquid and if they work well frozen.

What do you think? Breakfast food?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

A sorry sun-scorched summer garden

The title says it all really: this has been a disappointing summer in the garden. It's partly due to the ridiculously hot weather we've had - multiple stretches of 35C or more and very few days under 30C. We realised several weeks ago it was probably also due to a poorly functioning sprinkler system, which has now been rectified.

In the vegie patch I attempted zucchini, pumpkin, watermelon, tomatoes and cucumber. All of them got fried except for the tomatoes and zucchini. The tomatoes have been a mixed success - the best producers were the ones D's Dad grew from seed that I put in pots out the front. Now that the sprinklers are performing better some of the Diggers "mixed currants" appear to be reviving and hopefully we'll get some more off those. Given how warm March and April tend to be in Perth I figured I also had time to put in some late starters and managed to find a mixed four pot of Diggers seedlings at Bunnings and those plus a Burke's Backyard branded one have gone into the ground.

One thing that is flourishing is the apricot tree. That's a branch of it in the top right hand corner of the tomato photo. It's taller than the house and will need some serious pruning come winter so that it doesn't completely block the walking space between it and the house, and it and the vegie patch. We avoided last year's fruit fry problem by using little paper bags I got from an organic gardening place and they were really effective. So effective in fact that I didn't realise that the fruit was ready and a lot of it got over-ripe. From about 20 apricots that I bagged 3 or 4 were edible. And delicious, I might add. I will repeat the bagging exercise next summer but keep a better eye on how ripe they get.

I have concluded that we don't have enough bees in our garden as the zucchinis flowered but very few have set. I've had one yellow one and there are two more coming. In an attempt to avoid this problem in future I've planted a lavendar, as well as some nasturtium seeds.

Zucchinis with flowers but little fruit. Half dead tomatoes in the background.
Now I am wondering whether it is time to start planting winter seeds in pots. It still seems ridiculously warm to be doing so but I am about to drag out my collection of gardening books and refresh my memory about the appropriate time to be doing such things.

How are everyone else's gardens looking?

Saturday, March 2, 2013

A story about an old man

As told by E, aged 34 months.

Once upon a time there was an old man. His name was Luther and he had a dog and his dog's name was Flipper.
One day Luther and Flipper went to the swimming pool. They wore their bathers. Luther's bathers were red. But Flipper didn't wear his bathers because dogs don't wear bathers, Mummy!
Then they went to the park and played on the slide.
Then they went home and drew pictures. Luther used the red crayon and Flipper used the brown crayon. Flipper didn't hold the crayon in his hands he held it in his mout. Dogs can't hold things in their hands!
The end.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Meatless Monday: vegie smuggling tomato spaghetti

Last week I made a humungo batch of this "homemade tinned spaghetti" from Vegie Smuggling

The sauce is a blend of tomato passata, pumpkin and tinned beans and is supposed to taste something like tinned spaghetti. We didn't have the recommended two cups of pumpkin so I used a cup of grated carrot and a cup of pumpkin. I was enthusiastic about the idea of disguising pumpkin and beans into a form that I thought E, the ultimate pasta addict, would enjoy.

I don't actually remember the last time I ate spaghetti from a tin and so can't comment on whether this is similar, but it turned out to be a very sweet, pastey tomato sauce. It was so sweet that neither D or I liked it much, even though I jazzed ours up with a big handful of fresh basil and oregano, and topped it with sauteed mushrooms.

Adult version with mushrooms and herbs.
Next time I would remove the toddler portion
and then add a bit of vinegar or something else acidic.
E, however? HOOVERED it. And that's a good thing, as I have another six ramekins worth in the freezer for her.

Toddler version about 5 minutes before it was demolished.

Saturday, February 23, 2013


... we have played endless games of "tea party." This involves making "biscuits" out of playdough then "cooking" them in the (cold) oven, then dispensing them to toys on plates. Under the table. It is apparently mandatory that all tea parties take place under the table. Usually the toys decide they are hungry for something else other than just biscuits, in which case something like corn puffs or sultanas get very carefully divvied up onto each plate as well.

... we have answered so many questions starting with "but why?" This morning's version:
"Daddy, when you were born and you were a baby, who was your mummy?"
"But whyyyyyy?"
That one had D somewhat stumped.

 ...we have enjoyed combining an early evening garden water with E's bedtime shower. Squeals of delighted laughter are a very pleasant way to end the day.

... I was very glad to finish up at one job and have had a good first week at the new one.

... E is coping better with the fact that she refuses to have any kind of day sleep. Previously our late afternoons were a bit of a disaster zone leading up to a 6:00pm bedtime, but yesterday we managed early fish and chips at our friends' house and she wasn't in bed until about 7.30pm and it was fine. Hurrah!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Toilet Training Progress

Our current version of bribery

Dare I say that we are getting there?

E is still not indicating that she needs to go very often, but she is suddenly very compliant with requests to try.

And just when I thought that we were going to be carting the green Ikea potty with us everywhere for the next six months, she is very suddenly also very interested in the toilet, and having a surprising number of successes with it.

She has only had a couple of accidents all week and it's about time; I realised recently that our first lot of bribery were little chocolate ladybugs I was given for mother's day last year, and that means we have been doing this, on and off, for NINE MONTHS. (Look at this post from June 2012!)

I am feeling cautiously, quietly, gratefully (but still-kind-of-expecting-it-to-go-wrong) hopeful.


(And for anyone interested, please read the post below this for details of a Giveaway!)

Hunting for Ladybugs and a Giveaway

Hunting for Ladybugs is my friend Sarah's little internet sewing business. She makes all sorts of fabulous things for babies, children and the home. The business' motto is "handmade for  every day" and it sums up her products very well: lovely fabrics, practical designs and everything sewn to last.

Over the past few years Sarah has made a number of things for me, including:

* A baby hat and zip pouch to give as a baby gift:

* A fantastically sturdy beach bag with waterproof lining, big enough to throw several towels and everything else you need in:

* Little house door stop, filled with 2kg of sand, solid enough to stop our heavy front door slamming shut in the wind:

Mine is the one second from the left
* An insulated fabric alternative to a plastic lunch box. Inside is a short sleeve of patterned fabric, then the rest is waterproof, machine washable stuff. Sarah had them in mind as suiting a toddler's lunch or morning tea (which they would definitely work as - they'd be great to send a kindy kid or pre-schooler's lunch in) but I find mine is easily big enough to fit a drink bottle and lunch for myself and toddler on days when we're out and about.

On our recent trip to Sarah's family's farm in Quiarading we got the behind-the-scenes tour of the place where it all happens.

Here is what the sewing room looked like "before":

It was originally a single car garage with roller door.
Then she and husband Brett did all kinds of magic and look at what it became!

Complete with little helper P

Want a closer look at that amazing fabric stash?

Soooo much fabric, ready for transforming
 And here is the lovely lady herself, hard at work:

Hiiiiii Sar!
Sarah's Etsy shop has a bunch of things ready made, but if you want a particular size or want her to custom make something a size, colour or a brand new design she will gladly do that too. Stuff she has custom made recently includes quilts, nappy bags, matching infant sets, Santa sacks, Santa stockings and pencil cases. You can visit Hunting for Ladbugs on Facebook here ( or on Etsy here (

Sarah is very generously offering one Suburban Sonnett reader their choice of item from her Etsy store, up to $30 value excluding postage. To enter you must:

* Become a "follower" of Suburban Sonnet if  you're not already; and 
* Leave me a comment saying which of the ready-made goodies in Hunting for Ladybugs' Etsy store you would most like to own and why.

For an extra entry, "like" Hunting for Ladybugs on Facebook and then add a second comment telling me you've done so and your second choice from Hunting for Ladybugs' Etsy store.

The winner will be the comment that Sarah decides is the most amusing, worthy or interesting. The winner will receive their choice of product from Hunting for Ladybugs' Etsy store, up to the value of $30 excluding postage.

Entries close at midnight on Friday 15 February 2013, WST.


Saturday, February 2, 2013

Holidays with the Farm Family

Over the long weekend we headed to Quairading for a farm holiday and old school friends' catchup. The Farm Family consists of Farm Mum S, Farm Dad B, Farm Girl P (3 years) and Farm Boy A (18 months). Also there were our other school friend J, her husband A, and their son J (12 months). With six adults and four kids it was one full house! Thank you S&B for being brave enough to host us all at the same time.

The Farm is about a 2.5 hour drive from Perth - just long enough to feel like you have gone somewhere but short enough not to be too trying on small folk and those who must share a car with them. We stopped at York, which is about the half-way point.

The four children turned out to be one of the nicest parts of the weekend. It is definitely our first experience of more children being less trouble. E&P played together beautifully and the two smaller boys trundled along after them, sometimes being included, sometimes not. It was lovely to see E&P playing a game that involved hiding under the blankets, putting the teddies to bed then waking them up again. (We discovered later that this game also included smushing copious amounts of crackers into the carpet, but you take what you can get).

I have been to farms before but not such a real, working farm as this one is. The Farm Family are lucky to be part of an extended farming family that has managed to buy up quite extensive amounts of land in the area and thus be able to take advantage of economies of scale. It makes sense when you learn that one piece of machinery costs $200,000. The result is that you can drive for kilometres without leaving the extended family's land. We had a great time on Saturday going out in the ute with the dogs to move sheep from one paddock to another. I'm sure this is quite routine for people on a sheep farm but for us it was interesting.

Sheep-watching out the window
I vary between thinking that the country in this part of the world is desolate and finding the starkness beautiful.

 I became a bit obsessed with the harvesting patterns in the crop stubble and took about six squillion photos of them:

Probably the best bit was making the sheep run.

Run, sheepies, run!
And then driving home along a gravel road in the late afternoon shadows.

Upon getting home, feeding and bathing and putting to bed of small people was required. But once it was done, the grown ups sat on the verandah and enjoyed the sunset.

The next day the three (grown-up) boys went off to be manly and engage in Proper Farm Work, pulling down 1.5km of old wire fence so a new fence can go up. At lunch time the rest of us took a picnic and went to meet them.

After lunch some running and climbing of nearby rocks was necessary.

I wanted to add some photos of the picnic and rock-climbing but Blogger is refusing to cooperate for some reason.

It was a great weekend and one we hope to repeat.

The other thing the weekend involved was a bit of sewing time in S's fancy new sewing room. She runs a little internet based sewing business called Hunting for Ladybugs. Stay tuned as I will tell you all about it soon!

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Christmas That Was

It's official - Christmas is over. We've had a week back at work, the tree is down (if not yet packed away as until this year we didn't own one and can't figure out where to store it) and the remains of the ham are frozen for a time when the weather feels more soup-like.

This was the first year E had any understanding of Christmas, and she (and we) delighted in it. We indulged her excitement in all things Christmas tree by putting it up on 1 December and not taking it down until 6 January. For a few days after Christmas, she was happily telling anyone who asked that her present was "two Christmas trees" (the big one and the tiny fibre-optic one which was all we've bothered with in years past).

Two Christmas elves and the early stages of the tree
We quickly realised that our tree was going to be rather empty unless we acquired a few more decorations, and fortunately, making decorations became E's favourite entertainment for the next few weeks. Salt dough ornaments became a three day project (day one: make dough and cut out shapes, day two: paint; day three, attach strings) and about half of them became little gifts for family and playgroup friends. We also did paper chains, very simple paper and pop-stick stars decorated with glitter textas, and pictures on strings cut from last year's Christmas cards.

Due to our assortment of biscuit cutters some decorations were more Christmassy than others!
We had a low key barbeque on Christmas Eve at one of D's uncles' houses, then Christmas day wafflles here with D's brother and (almost) sister-in-law, then lunch at my parents' house. Despite E's claim as to what presents she received she actually scored big-time, her main gift being a wooden swing set the two grandfathers helped us erect a few weeks prior to Christmas. E's innocence was useful - upon seeing it complete (minus the ropes and swings) she declared "I has an arch in my garden" and so for the next few weeks we referred to it as "the arch" and she was none the wiser until the swings appeared on Christmas morning.

The free labour hard at work
On Boxing Day we had lunch at D's parents' with D's aunties and cousins who were visiting from Canada.

Once the three days of gluttony were over we settled down to some serious relaxing. It was 40C or close to it for the week following Christmas but we managed lots of early morning beach and pool swims, D and I got to see two movies (thanks day care for staying open on all the days except public holidays!) and E even spoilt us with a few afternoon naps. One of the funnier parts about our "holiday at home" was that we tended to finish the day off with an early evening garden watering session, which rapidly evolved into E getting completely drenched, running around shrieking and completely starkers, and not needing a shower before bed.

Now reality has returned and we're back at work. I have been very slack the last few months about writing anything here and am determined to do better in the new year.
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