30 December 2012

2012, a small treatise



I used to write unpublished treatises to the year gone, just before it slipped away. Catalogues of major events - real and internal - to ponder over, learn from and laugh at before starting anew. And of course to snap-freeze my memories as the years elapse. I'd spend days trawling through my mental archives. Post-child, I've got about an hour. So the following may not be truly reflective of the year that was, but it's what I can retrieve right now.

So much of my 2012 is about the boy. In this short year, he has gone from a babe in arms to
sitting, crawling, walking and now running and talking up a storm. He is now quite the conversationalist. Sits at the window taking in the walking track and commenting 'People? Nooo!'. Has mastered the possessive: 'Daddy's bee-ya' as well as his name: 'Ew-ewy' and home address: 'light---house'. His vocabulary is pretty impressive for a 17-month-old who should be 15 months.

And his personality shines. He is an observer, a sensitive little comedian. Just like his 'Daddy-hahaha' - what he often calls K. He is quite worried lately - about people that hurt, large noises and the three little ducks song (because the ducks go away, presumably). He is spirited and loves a joke. Still loves eating bark and cardboard ('yum--mmeee') and at some point chipped his front tooth (again, presumably) chewing on a rock. He is obsessed with tractors and things that go. He is thoroughly his Daddy's boy. He can blow bubbles in the water. And oh and the messes he can make!

Today there is no hint he was born early. He is done with the follow-up group sessions at the Children's Hospital to check his development, though I think we have one paediatric follow-up left, just so they can officially close their file.

In other realms, my return to work this year has been so much better than I ever imagined. I always thought I'd want to be a stay-at-home mum. (And maybe I would if I had the time, free hands and proximity to do the things I imagined I'd be able to do - creative kid stuff, going places, play dates, etc.) Aside from the financial imperative, I badly needed to reclaim something for myself. Although there has been some flailing in unfamiliar waters as I work alone to remake a piece of legislation, it has mostly been good.
I also managed to hang on to my job when thousands of public servants didn't. I have totally appreciated that I have an amazing arrangement and feel continually grateful for this. Without it, there would be no work for me.

The year has not been without qualms. I have battled somewhat to just feel OK. I got over PND. But the endless picking up / carrying / feeding a seriously heavy baby-now-toddler has made my neck and shoulders perpetually sore. I have the upper body of a swimmer and the lower body of a small bowl of trifle (I can hear - yes hear - K rolling his eyes about now -- nevertheless this is how I feel after 17 months of not much exercise). Despite prioritising yoga and walking in any snippets of free time I have, maintaining restoring wellness has been like trying to plug the bathwater with a shred of old clingfilm. I feel like my eating has also deteriorated. Scoff if you will.

I have really not had much social interaction at all this year. I have never been someone who needs a lot of contact with friends, but the little interaction I did have pre-baby has dropped to almost nothing. And I miss it! It has just been too difficult to manage visits during our crazy-hectic mainland trips and my terrible-ness on the phone has deteriorated thanks to virtually no real solo free time. I even managed to make Christmas cards and then lose the stamps in our stuff-everywhere scenario on return from the mainland. Sigh.

Realisations. Life with kid is hard. Or maybe it is just our life, this crazy life remote we lead. Which is HARD, although we have become logistical ninjas. Often can be heard in our house the refrain 'why is it so stressful?' I don't know why we imagined it would be anything other. I hope it gets less so. It has really taken its toll on us. How do other people do this? I guess I also realise that it will continue to be hard. It just is. Contemporary families, life and work make it much more difficult than it ever was meant to be for anyone. I am grateful for these realisations. And the perspective I seem to have gained. It wasn't so easy to see in the baby bubble that we were making a family. Duh. But y'know, massive sleep deprivation and vomit will blind you to the bigger picture. I'm also utterly grateful for the help we have in the form of our au pair. I often wonder what we'd do without her (the answer is probably not a lot of housework, in which case I'd go quietly-at-first-but-then-loudly-screamingly-mad).

So yeah, year. In many ways you kicked our heads. But it was equally mind blowing watching our boy grow. And to live at the beach, despite its challenges!

For next year, I wish for myself to be more laid back about everything generally. And better to him. The less said about that the better.

I also wish to somehow manage to return to writing. Which will take a correction of our fantastically-abysmal-for-the-last-parts-of-2012 internet (now renamed in this house as 'the cobwebs'), and some gentle restructuring. I think I need to tweak our night routines to get some regular decent free time. Of course this is all completely hypothetical, what with some massive sleep refusals and super-clingy-moodiness going on in the past week, with bedtimes around 11pm, and one cracker at 2am. (I'm talking about the boy of course, though naturally it follows that these are our bedtimes (and moodiness!).)

I'll try less to look at other bloggers who are doing ridiculously creative projects - on top of their blogging - whilst toting equally small children, and wonder why the hell I can't even get through breakfast unscathed. I'll still create – I'd really love to do this
but try not to beat myself up if it goes to slush.

I plan to sleep more and relax more. I've frittered away untold hours just bumbling about because I am too tired to do anything purposeful despite my insistence to try.

I'll try to find ways to reconnect with friends. Eat better. Stress less.

And now I'm sounding like a broadcast ad for nicotine gum.

I would like to try to think with a fresh head (see 'sleep more').

And be more positive.

I can do that.

I hope the new year is good to you.

26 November 2012

the final word



This will undoubtedly be the final cataloguing of the boy's words, as he is acquiring them so rapidly that it will soon defy my record keeping ability. I realise that other than K and the three Grands, I'm the only one who is interested in this, so if you are not them, feel free to shuffle along... 

Spoken words at 16 months (14 months adjusted), in addition to these words:

no (newly acquired and on high rotation, with accompanying full-body turn-away)
yes
more ('moo-ah')
please ('peas')
oops ('utz' as in klutz!)
 

uh-uh (for anything he isn't allowed to touch)
wow! (said like a little Iowa corn farmer, thanks to...)
Libby (sounds like 'hippy', which our au pair happily accepts as a fair definition)
hot tea 
yummy
cup
honey ('nunny')
blueberry
apple
cheese
rusk
egg (he just pronounces the 'gg'... when he is learning words he often just pronounces the final syllable)
 

Vegemite (ironically enough, said as 'mate')
eat

laundry (he really helped with it for the first time today, by passing me the nappies from the basket!)
nappy ('marpie')

pee
poo
potty
paper
booby ('beebee')

on (he'll sit by the door and put his shoes near his feet and say 'on', 'on' when he wants to go outside)
afternoon ('noon' - when Daddy gets home)
minute (as in 'just wait a minute' - sigh)

day
dark
green ('neen')
bumblebee ('mumbee')
snorkel ('mokbel')
boot

baby
rock
buouy
slippery
sandy

pit (for firepit or sandpit)
moon
garden
sunny ('nunny')
sunnies ('nunnies')
undies
eye
tiger
giddy-up
my

bathroom ('ba-mmm')
city
either (odd but he just started repeating it today)
music
that
hurts
drain ('narn')

Proud much? You may find me again in the comments supplementing with any words I have forgotten ;)

18 November 2012

the trouble with ruts

After not knowing what to do with the other blog, I have kind of just given up without giving up. If you know what I mean. Too hard basket.

Sadly, I don't feel the love for the food blog thing anymore. I wish I did. But I mostly struggle to stay enthused with making beautiful nourishing food, let alone the all-consuming documenting of it. Probably because by the end of the day I am done, though the making of the adult dinner lies ahead. Also I think I spend too long making dinner (I have not really downgraded my standard of what is worthy of the 'dinner' descriptor since the boy arrived) and therein have grown to not really enjoy the process, because all I really want to do is sit down, spend some time with my beau and pour quantities of wine all over myself.


There are moments of spark though.

In the past fortnight I have made pumpkin and lentil burgers, vegie pasties (first time I have made shortcrust pastry since high school!), and a rad roasted beetroot salad with panfried beans, fetta and homegrown purslane. I recently made sourdough after a long lull (including making a new starter after our last au pair inadvertently binned my several-years-old starter >..<). And I smell meals with tomatoes in our future, courtesy our homegrown tomato glut.

When the householders urge me to get thy camera out, I dwell on the bad light and the prospect of picking up where I left off. You know that feeling that once you've let too much water go under the bridge?

Oh, and that brings me to thy camera. Has not seen light of day for many moons. My all-purpose lens is infirm. And it all got too much to carry a heavy baby, baby paraphernalia and a heavy camera when we went anywhere. And it is just so much easier to use the phone... thank goodness for the phone! Though I have been loving these posts and this (and her photography generally) and wanting to do so much more.

Reading, there is no time energy time mental coherence. I have a small stack of books and magazines purchased in quiet city-induced flurries of internal sunshine and hope. These get picked up intermittently and held for about three minutes and thirty seconds (including time spent discerning where I was up to after toddler has dislodged bookmark).
 

My hands miss knitting. My most 'recent' project - the boy's baby blanket (ho!) - is scrumpled somewhere in a dark cupboard after I backed myself into a corner I could not see clear of. And yet I have bought wool for future projects.

When I do get a moment, I either seize it for some physio exercises / yoga, get some chores done, or fluff around aimlessly because I don't have a project-that-I'm-not-totally-overwhelmed-by to get on with.

The trouble with ruts is that they are self-fulfilling.

I have high hopes though. I dream about blogging about creative stuff I am doing, without the technical difficulties that go along with creating stuff and blogging. Oh, utopian me!

I have resolved that rather than getting sucked into the nightly vaccuum of the lovely interwebs (but not actually doing anything productive on them because I'm exhausted, and going to bed way too late and waking up feeling hungover despite aforementioned quantities of wine being more occasional nowadays) I will spend my evenings creating, or if I'm too tired to create, relax. Seems simple. And obvious.


I have wondered whether I could morph the foodie blog into new terrain. You know, make it more about life generally. It seems like such a shame to let it lapse. I still occasionally get amazing emails and comments. Someone even offered to buy it! And did I mention the thing about being invited to have a few recipes featured in the ABC's Foodi iPad app

Perhaps I need to climb out of the food rut, and the photography rut, before I can get any traction on the blog rut. And probably, more generally, just start. I love this post about getting your creative spark back. 

Yes, I know this space is temporary. And this here, is my start.

27 October 2012

in conversation

Today he is 15 months old. Sometimes I wish he'd stayed smaller longer. (And to those who say it goes too fast, try witnessing your baby put on s-i-x times his weight in the first year!). But gosh I love the older him, and he is visibly older every day. This morning he picked up a block and told me it was 'neen' (green). I asked him if he wanted to play with his beads and he told me 'bzzzz' (bees!). For lunch I asked if he wanted some chicken sandwich. He replied: "buk buk!"

Where did this little colour-recognising comedian come from? 

He makes me laugh and melt and gasp all at once. It astounds me how much he understands. And his mental leaps! He says 'nunny' (honey) when I pour sand! The sink is a 'ba' (bath), the toilet is a 'ba' and an empty bucket is a 'ba'. He parrots our conversations. His vocabulary has grown exponentially since my last post. He is always listening. Usually while he is busy doing something.

Yesterday he put countless hours of hand-held walking practice into motion and got going on his own. It's so lovely to see him finally have the confidence to do this! Though he was wailing worriedly as he went the first day. And then this afternoon, he didn't want my hand...

I didn't get a decent photo or video of his first steps. I wonder, if I could record our time properly, would it all slow down a bit? Or would I at least be more at ease with the quickening?

10 October 2012

wordy and walking

We had a follow-up appointment earlier this week with the Children's Hospital paediatrician, who asked me how many words Ellery says. I estimated 5-10, but on reflection, he says heaps more and has recently become very much a parrot. And it is nothing short of phenomenal how much simple conversation he understands. So, for posterity, here's the words he uses now, aged 14-and-a-half months (so 12-and-a-half developmentally)... funnily some words he used to say (guitar) have disappeared.

Mum (strange because it is not 'Mama' or even 'Mummy', which are the names we use)
Daddy (which he also uses to describe any person, regardless of gender or age, or alternatively a tractor, quad bike or car because he associates these things with K. Heads and shoulders his most-used word, apart from the universal 'nar-na' which we take to mean 'look at that - tell me what it is!')
up
cheese
keys
windy ('dindy'... so cute!)
man (all people are 'man'!)
duck
banana (all fruit is called banana, don't you know!)
nanna
hat

tractor
star
car
knee
ear
me
bye-bye
bath ('ba')
broom
boom-boom (this is in a few of his books and he loves it, and bizarrely also uses it for window!)

He also makes the following sounds when prompted:

tractor/car/truck (the boy is obsessed - anything with wheels goes 'brrm'!)
monkey
bee
snake
tiger (his roar is more a meek 'ra')
lion (same noise)
crow
seal (claps hands)
cat
dog (pants)
zebra (sipping a drink, like in Hello Baby!)
wind / ocean (much the same)

Oh, and he got gold stars all round at the paediatrician, which was no surprise to us, though it came with a caveat that learning difficulties can show up years down the track. At this point, I'd like to refer the doctor to the above list. And, oh yeah, he has taken his first very tentative steps too (his confidence is jittery, his legs and balance are great).


---


*Excuse me while I repeatedly bang my head against a wall at stupid hours experiment with the blog layout. Because, you know, I've got a thousand less important things to do with my time than amateurishly tweak the html...

02 October 2012

au pair

I have hovered here a few times lately and not known where to start. I have fallen off the blogging horse. Given in to tiredness, end-of-day-brain-fuzz and the never-ending night-time settling / early rising (which seems to suddenly lift and then... whack-tumble-splat, another wonder week).

I have wanted to write for ages about life with a live-in au pair. Which has worked out a lot better than I could have hoped. I dragged my heels completely on the whole issue, but in the end it was the only way I could have returned to work (and we needed me to for many reasons), which I am doing now part-time via a telecommute arrangement. *I've got a golden ticket!* Yes, I completely realise how lucky I am in the work stakes. I have a hugely supportive boss (and executive director) who I have worked with for several years, who trusts me implicitly and has herself telecommuted way back when her kiddo was younger. Returning to work has also been great for my head, to give me a bit of breathing space. I have also recently managed (for the time being anyway) to hang onto my job when vast sections of the permanently employed public service in this Neanderthal state are marching out the door. I'm just hoping my luck continues.


So the au pair. I had dreaded sharing our space, and all the stuff of family life that inhabits it, and having to be sociable when I want to just be in my cave. But overall it has been really positive, and is sort of like the old travelling/sailing days. We're onto our second au pair already, after our first finished her three-month stint. Though I still do a lot of domestic work and commandeer the boy when I'm not working, the extra hands around the house has been nothing short of bloody fantastic. I think I got lucky with a boy who demands a lot of attention and doesn't like to nap on his own (and some of my own stupid high moral ground about no TV), so every day was a battle to get even just the bare minimum housework done, manage to feed and caffeinate myself AND fully engage with him.

The help with chores is freeing me up a bit and I am mostly managing to get some other stuff done - though I find a lot of this other stuff is all about him! Like keeping him clothed and shod, reading up on kid-stuff (devouring this site), procuring toddler chairs and potties (!) and organising photo prints (we didn't have any beyond his humidicrib days (!!), prepping activities, war-planning our missions off the island and keeping our household administrivia at bay with a big stick. I still need to get back into yoga and walking - these have slid quite a bit since I returned to work in August.

As great as it's mostly been, I have also suffered a bit from the guilts at having help. About having someone else helping with the boy, even though we have tweaked our routine so he spends most of his time with one or both of us. (Though having someone new here has been brilliant for Ellery - he has LOVED both of them and will sometimes choose to go and hang out with them.) And also it is just plain weird (though indulgent and utterly lovely, why do I even have guilt about this?) to have someone else be the dish pig!

Despite the current super-clingy and unsettled wonder 'week' (and a kimchi that is going to take me at least three days, not including fermentation, to prepare - but that's another story) I can sense that things are slowly getting easier. There is still a ridiculously huge amount of work that goes on behind the scenes to keep us living the life remote - and so much stuff that doesn't get done. But, y'know, it's getting better.

16 August 2012

one


 
 
 
 
And then he was one!

The Grands, Nana and Uncle R congregated for a weekend of birthday festivities. The present-opening went on for days. Admittedly, I bought way too much. (Oh, how far I have strayed from my intention to be a minimalist parent ;)) His birthday loot included a djembe and assorted percussive instruments, an amigurumi rabbit, a bus scroll birth announcement poster (better late than never), blocks, a large wooden crane, a ride-on trike with trailer (possibly the same model as K had at a similar age), a Keptin Junior boy doll (adore the way he talks to it), a wooden pull-along Very Hungry Caterpillar, a wooden pull-along shimmying alligator, a bevvy of books (including a signed book from one of his publisher aunts), Duplo, a bucket and spade set, bath toys, clothes, a hand-me-down block trolley from my toddlerhood... a lighthouse (of course). I'm probably forgetting something important.

Ellery got to wear his safari suit, though K forgot to haul one of his own out of storage for the occasion.

There were funny hats. There was cake. We won't talk about the deliberation over appropriate cake choices for an actually-only-10-month-old. In the end I made a sugar-free, egg-free, still-amazingly-delicious banana cake with whipped cream. It was mostly just smashed on the highchair tray after some bemusement about what it all meant :)


We've had a run of brilliant weather and spent lots of time beachside. He even had a little paddle at Champagne Pools (how appropriate). In winter!

It seems like almost overnight he has morphed from baby into toddler. In the past six weeks, he has acquired a whole new set of skills and language. Maybe it was the wonder week that went on for months, but he has seemingly added loads more to his repertoire than ever before.

He is all about walking... or practising, with his hands held. He has the cutest little walk run gallop. Cue visions of me running everywhere in the not-too-distant future. He even tries to walk up things: walls, pot-plants, eskies. His favourite place to walk to is the laundry. He is enthralled by worships the front loader. Seriously, if I let him, he would spend all day with his nose in its orbit, pointing at its porthole door and looking from me to it with the most sincere look of amazement whilst uttering his universal word ('na-na') at intervals. (Oh and he must watch the vacuum cleaner when it's on. Now our au pair is here - another post - he's at last seen it function!) And he is known to cut repeated (repeated, repeated) laps of the metre-long lambswool rug on our circuits of the house.

It's like all the big motor stuff is coming together for him, as he's all of a sudden a pro at rolling (and will do so on request, over and over and over) and does a not-too-shabby job of backwards crawling, which ends in tears when he butts up against a wall.

He recently learnt to clap his hands, and will even stop walking to do so, if you tell him he's clever. He only needs half a bar of 'If you're happy and you know it' to get going. He has also just learnt to wave goodbye - though it looks more like a flurry of chicken wings. And point.

He is imitating words like the clappers... he has said 'dadda' for ages and can now 'say' pandanus ('nan-nanna'), banana ('banana'), star ('are'), car (was 'are' but is now just 'brrrm'), guitar ('g-ta')... can meow, woof, baa, brrrrmm for car/tractor/vacuum cleaner, 'aa-ah' for monkey, laugh like a kookaburra and caw like a crow. Still not great on mama. He understands more words too: up, apple, tummy, lighthouse (of course), grass, roll, monkey, Jade (our au pair) and probably more I can't remember right now. We did start teaching him baby signs ages ago but unfortunately let it slide.

It's only fairly recently that I realised, through reading up on a forum, that premmies can often have big developmental delays and other significant problems, beyond those that were screened for before he left hospital. Though no issues were noted at any of his follow-up appointments at hospital, he was observed to be 'a bit passive' (their words - we prefer chilled!) in his play. I think he is making up for it now.

He also has a total of at least six teeth, at last check, and more on the way.


So yeah, a lot happening in his little world. Sleep for us has been intermittently OK, with large patches of OMFG. But it's a footnote really. He just completely rocks our world every day.

Eh, there is so much more I want to capture. The way he puts his head right up close into a book to inspect a detail... his love of books
... the obsession with eating grass/sand/cardboard/flowers...  the way he gauges distances with an outstretched arm... faceplants the highchair tray... dances... knows very definitely what he wants and where he wants to go... and this face...
 

I can't possibly imagine what he'll be like in another year. The mind boggles. I just know it will involve a lot of running around ;)


15 May 2012

General roundup

We are back from nearly two weeks down south. A wonderful opportunity for the Grands to see E. And how much he has changed since they last saw him - as a newborn - last October!

He is now, at nine months - going on five (years) - a delightfully feisty little boy. With the emphasis on boy. Shouting, banging, giggling, babbling, pinching, kicking, splashing, sitting, eating. And wanting to do so much more.

Despite our anxiety, he travelled like a champ.*  Though came home with his first cold. His bewilderment is etched into me :(
 
 
It was lovely to see lots of family, a few friends, and for E to meet his small second cousins. (Though I notice in this shot he appears much bigger than them!) Unfortunately my photos are in disarray - so many moments not captured :/ - and apologies for the filmreel effect.

 

 

But it is also so good to be home. The days have been sunny and warm, gentle breezes, cool mornings and evenings. Perfect. E and I spend chunks of days rug-sitting under pandanus and banksia in the yard.



And finally, FINALLY (giving myself permission to shout it), it seems the boy's reflux has all but gone. Hip. Hip. Hooray!! And. He is (usually sometimes) able to happily occupy himself with a wooden spoon while I do the dishes/make lunch etc.

I cannot begin to describe the massive improvement these things have made to our days.

I have also begun the process of applying to return to work part-time via a telecommute arrangement.

We are recruiting for, and seem to have found ourselves, an au pair.

I've been invited to do a guest post here.

I finished making a beanie and a tag monster for the boy.

I've been Instragramming. Like an ad-dict!

I have lists of things to do. On black boards, in various notebooks, and flying about in my head.

Plant the winter vegies.
Baby proof.
Print photos. Get some sort of handle on the madly spawning photos.
Throw my arms up at computer woes and defer to he who can wield its unwieldiness. 
Knit a blanket. Another beanie for the boy and one for the man. Armies for me.
Try to get a catnapping baby to sleep in a cot.
Try some more.
And try again.
Make bread.
Clean the house. Sort out my filing mess. Put away the too-small baby clothes.
Buy more boy-sized winter clothes.
Get back to yoga.
Get out of my cooking rut.
And write. Remember I have another blog.
Investigate playgroups or other opportunities for E to meet other little people.
Prepare a business case for me to telecommute.
And while we're talking about dealing with heaving bureacracies, sort out a pesky tax thing.
Finish putting together a touchy-feely box for the boy.
And email a general invite to congregate for the boy's *gasp* birthday!

And, as our colds resurface, we have just hit the next wonder week. On the early cusp. Ugh. Read: very little sleep. And that is where I am going now should have been long ago. Zzzzz. 

But not before one last gratuitous shot :)

 

---
*And so did we with our super-upgrade to an Audi:)

30 March 2012

reading therapy

The upward swing continues. Helped along by the boy's improving reflux - or at least his  becoming somewhat of a 'happy chucker' - and increasing interactive cuteness. I have also started reading two books, which both had me punching the air after about the first 20 pages.

Susan Maushart's The Mask of Motherhood: how becoming a mother changes our lives and why we never talk about it (strangely only available as a US imprint via Amazon).  And The Divided Heart by Rachel Power, a series of musings based on interviews with prominent artists about the wrestle between the incongruous worlds of kids and art (or a creative life, for those less aspirational :).

We know people who are considering babies for the first time. I have had to stop tie myself to a chair to stop from running headlong at them shrieking 'don't do it!'. (And then flail around trying to explain why without sounding frazzled, burnt and totally uncool.) Which is nothing short of awful. But now, thanks in large part to these books, I think I understand why.

Along with the highs, becoming a mum has been an often-bleak 'who moved my cheese?' experience for me, for many reasons - from traumatic birth and breastfeeding experiences to the very large role-adjustment and the demands of a refluxy baby. All with an entirely overworked, under-appreciated support network of one, who has had to deal with my frequent meltdowns whilst starting a new job and moving his wifey, new baby and our worldly possessions (minus a bus) to a windswept outpost. I have also lamented strongly the incredibly limited capacity I have now for creative time.

Thankfully I'm feeling a lot less like this. And more like someone who can see the wondrous journey unfolding. And delighting in my cutest, most edible baby.

Susan Maushart's book in particular had me simultaneously whimpering and cheering (internally of course) in recognition. In that way when someone articulates your own latent but furiously percolating thoughts. Not just one, but layers of understanding only possible through lived experience. I should add a small caveat: I have only read the first chapter, though the introduction alone snagged me good and proper.

I could be wrong, but the recent surges in E's development make me think I will enjoy parenting little kids - and then big kids - more than I've enjoyed (or often not) the new baby phase.

Anyway. This is all a bit of a jumble. But I totally recommend these books to anyone thinking baby thoughts. I wish I'd discovered them earlier - and not just before I dropped a bomb on a counsellor. One of the contentions in Susan Maushart's book is around the silence on the reality of parenthood - that we're caught up in the need to compete and compare ourselves and our babies and therefore gloss it all up and secret away the downs.

I'm not sure if it's kosher, but I'm going to email the prospective baby-ers my reading recommendations.

So there.

28 March 2012

toof

After months of frustrated dribbly chomping, it seemed like it would never arrive. And then it finally came through! A few days shy of eight months (six months gestation). Naively, I thought that might relieve some of his discomfort. I should have known. It seems there are others following closely behind. Though, happily, we've returned to our semblance of sleep. He is back to settling reasonably well for the night -  we had wake-ups every 40 minutes after going down, for a few hours - and sleeping through, with one or two dreamfeeds - he had been waking every one to two hours for more weeks than my bleary brain can count. We've also welcomed a cooling in the weather which has been absolute bliss. We can now venture outside during the day without sweltering, and without it aggravating his reflux. Which, being aggravated by stress generally, has also benefited from the tooth arriving and the temperature drop. And it is getting lighter later, which seems to be helping him sleep longer. No 4am or 5am starts for about four days now. Hooray! This is the good stuff!

Pics of the toofy grin coming when it becomes a bit more visible. 

24 March 2012

big

So I've mentioned before that E is big for his age. Even for his birth (not gestational) age. He's a few days shy of eight months old - so six months gestationally. I thought he was about the size of a twelve month old, going by clothes sizes - he's in zeros and ones now. Until we were accosted in our travels in Brisbane yesterday by a chatty three-year old, his two-year old sister and Mum. E was the same size as the two-year old!

Fast forward a few hours. We're at our GP who did a measure and weigh and checked his percentiles. He's now above the 97th percentile for weight. The chart ends at the 97th percentile. And he's somewhere around 75th percentile for length. She then proceeded to tell me he is obese. Her words. I was gobsmacked. Incredulous. And mad. Are you kidding me? How can a baby be considered obese? Sure, maybe if I was plying him with sugary snacks and letting him watch TV all day instead of having physical play.

We still do a combination of breastmilk and formula. In the past few weeks, we've tried the occasional bite of fruit or veg, but his gag reflex is still strong. Yes, he is fed on demand. Yes, he eats a lot. No, I do not blindly stick a bottle in his mouth every time he cries. If he won't be settled, I try milk and usually discover that yes, he was hungry.

Behind a number of suggestions given to me by the GP was the inference that I feed him too much. I know formula-fed babies don't regulate their milk intake as well as those exclusively breastfed. And they are generally bigger. But I refuse to let him go hungry because he doesn't fit a norm. She also suggested his reflux might settle with less milk. After coming back down to a simmer over the past 24 hours, I can see why this makes sense. But what he drinks is more problematic than how much he drinks. I know this because he'll vomit his first small formula feed of the day when he is eating on an empty stomach. I give him smaller feeds because of the reflux. (I've also tried fewer larger feeds, out of desperation that something might help). The reflux and feeding is a vicious cycle - the more he vomits, the more he wants to feed to soothe himself and replace the milk he lost. 

She also suggested that maybe I am making more milk than I think. I can put a ballpark figure on how much milk I think my body makes, with 95% certainty. Assuming he gets more than I think, he is still choosing to drink the amount he does because he is hungry or needs comforting!

It's not the first time our GP has commented on his weight and how much we feed him. Despite it making me fume, it also makes me second-guess myself. I came home and googled obesity in babies, and read some interesting but inconclusive studies. But I keep coming back to this.
He is appropriately chubby - no one comments on his size until they know his age. He is also very long - but then so are his parents. And hey, we are also both pretty slim and eat very healthily, so I think his chances for turning out the same are pretty good. Call me old-fashioned, but babies are meant to have fat. It fuels their awesome growth. Some will have more, some less. This article has influenced my thinking a lot. I have tried holding off feeds for as long as I can and it just makes us both grumpy and stressed. He is - apart from the reflux - healthy, and has been trending upwards on both weight and length charts since his birth. He started life so small that gaining weight was a good thing! (And no, I am not overcompensating for that.) We are grateful that he is happy and thriving.

I get the wider social context with rampant childhood obesity, but I really resent her judgement. And the term 'obese' in the case of a healthy baby is pretty severe judgement. I resent that Western medicine ideologies have to fit everything into a box of known proportions, rather than assess an individual holistically. Am I being overly sensitive? Perhaps. I'm reassured by K, who is there when E is ravenous and knows what it's like. Who counteracts my niggly self-doubts about this and many other little things and tells me what a great job we are doing as parents. Perhaps she never had a difficult baby. A very hungry baby. Would she make these judgements if she had?

Sadly, after this and a few other things rubbing us up the wrong way, we are on the hunt for a new GP.

13 March 2012

lately.


I have felt creatively re-inspired. Like, bursting. To make things, write, photograph and reinvent. I don't want to lose that feeling.

We've been picking tomatoes, basil, rocket, capsicums and zucchini.
And swimming in sweet potato. 

K diverted our greywater to the garden and found a pile of wood washed up on the beach which will frame up some shadecloth.

We had our first proper alone time in seven months. Dinner. I laughed more in an hour than in recent memory. It was good.

E is having a huge developmental spurt, babytalking ad nauseum and getting the sitting thing down. He's also grown some more hair! Here's hoping a tooth will follow suit.

His reflux had also significantly improved. Until, of course, I uttered those words aloud. But I'm choosing to see it as two steps forward.


I have been making porridge and ordering books.


Over the course of several days, I made celery salt. We've been buying celery for E to gnaw on, and I cursed those luscious leaves going to waste. All for want of time.

Over the course of several weeks, I rolled two hanks into knittable balls of wool. Upon discovering the loose scraps of paper I have relied on for knitting instruction have evaporated, I got serious and ordered a book. Whose arrival shall precede kick-off on the long-awaited blanket project.

I've picked up the camera again. My zoom lens seems to be having the same problem which killed my last one. I'm entertaining the idea of springing for an altogether new camera.

I've been looking at envying people with older kids and wondering how they manage to live the life creative. And realising there is hope for our life creative.

I've also begun to realise what a dark tunnel I've been in. And how far we've come. According to many a search result returned by Mr Google, the boy was probably a 'high-needs' baby in the early days, in that he was often in discomfort from reflux
and I couldn't really put him down. Luckily, he's getting much better on both counts.

Struggling with wake-ups. Struggling to parent mindfully and not be too distracted by the mess/the internet. Struggling to Brisbane and back in one day alone with the boy.

I've started the mammoth job of wiping off mould which has appeared on most of our surfaces after a hot and wet summer. I'm using clove oil which makes our house smell like gingerbread!

We've been having conversations about me going back to work. I'll need to mount a case to telecommute. Or as K calls it, teleport. And we've been talking about getting an au pair. I'm dragging my heels on the idea. Even though it's the only way I can really go back to work.

Trying to plot a trip to Binginwarri via Melbourne.

And more.


04 March 2012

lighthouse days

We moved here in September last year with our small babe,
two weeks after we brought him home from hospital,
and two weeks before he was due to arrive.

He is now super sized and I've written nothing of our windswept Cape,
our lighthouse cottage or our island home.

And there's a framed note, typed by a little girl who lived here in the 1970s with her two sisters and their dog, Fluffy (!!).
Which got me thinking about writing my own notes
about lighthouse life.

I must start with the views - it's either them or the weather.
Our windows could be paintings hanging on the wall,
ever-changing watercolour daubs of ocean, banksia and sky
and dunes, coastline unfolding south. 

I often stop - mid-laundering, mid-sweeping, mid-whatever - to wonder at the impossibility of such views. 

And how we were ever lucky enough to find ourselves here.

Lately it's been clear enough to see the thin ribbon of beach on the mainland
and the silhouette of the Glasshouse Mountains and Mount Coolum.
From my bed I see trawlers winking in the night.

The weather at the Cape is never dull

Some days equatorial, oppressive with not a whiff of breeze.
On these days you'd never guess that the
muddy splatter on the bathroom ceiling is from the south-easterly forcing rain up through cracks in the louvres.

The wind! It is why our clothesline is inside the house!

It has all kinds of sounds.

Sometimes up in the lighthouse it's like a swarm of bees.

Other times, I'm convinced there's a choir wandering the public track.
And of course there's the plain old howling and whooshing.

We've had bushfires and flooding rain.

There's lots of burnt country now and new lakes in the dunes.

Coastal lagoons appear and fade.

Roads wash away, some by ocean, some by rain.

There are no shops on the Cape, not a thing to buy*.

But horizons and blazing sunsets and the heady expanse of star-mottled sky
Punctured by a steady beam which shines four-in-twenty - how Ocker is that!

Our local is the beach.
More often than not, it's just us and the birds. 

Curlews make me laugh out loud.
Scuttling across our lawn in their stop-start, you-can't-see-me-if-I-don't-move way
And their wail in the twilight. Haunting. Beautiful.

The holes in the lawn were a mystery until one night we spied a bandicoot.
We've had green tree frogs, red bellied-blacks and carpet snakes in our yard.
And whales, egg-laying turtles, dolphins and dugong in the sea below.

Oh, here's the note, published in the Queensland Lone Guide magazine in 1973. Excuse the crappy photograph. Also, excuse the general lack of accompanying photographs... computer issues prevail.


*Actually there really aren't any shops worth entering on the island. There's a crappy general store at the resort where you can get a Magnum that's past it's use-by-date, and a general store at Bulwer, which I've never ventured into but suspect it'd be good for white sliced bread, bait and ice-creams. Our favourite place to buy things is the oyster farm down south.

21 February 2012

And up

The last week and a half back on the island has been wholly good. Awesome even. And - halleluljah - I can't recall a low point.

Most afternoons we've been at the beach. And most days, I either do yoga or walk. Some days, both. That is, walk + yoga + beach. This is HUGE. And impossibly easy. I can't believe we didn't think of it sooner. After K gets home from work, I do a fast walk (with tunes) to the beach - and then maybe a walk on the beach, or maybe yoga. K drives to the beach and babywrangles whilst throwing a line in. (Fishing is his new thing - the beach is his always thing.) We mix it up different ways, some days I do yoga early while the boy sleeps. Whichever way it unfolds, it is brilliance, and we both get what we crave. We have been SO much happier since this little routine evolved. 

And. I have been getting way more stuff done during the day. The boy is sleeping better (read: normally, ie, when he isn't awoken by the need to vomit/me clanging a pot/stupendous heat/etc, etc), and is ever-so-gradually becoming more okay with not being permanently attached to me. Yesterday he was happy to be in his Fantastic Standing Up Machine (an activity station we borrowed which he loves because he can assume a standing up posture and look around) for long enough for me to wash bottles AND make formula. Un. Precedented.

I also 1) rolled my first ever ball of wool to start the long-awaited baby blanket AND almost finished a paper crane mobile I started a year ago, 2) applied for federal monies that go along with having a baby and sussed out a tax issue that had been bugging me, 3) started updating our address details with the gazillion outfits that need to know, 4) placed a bulk order for cloth nappies, 5) bought a new wok, and 6) blogged, edited recipes and wrote emails back and forth to the ABC who invited me to have some recipes featured on the new release of their Foodi iPad app!! Woot! (This news alone did wonders for my general vibe and reminded me I have 'stuff' outside the babyhood.)

[Note: I have been trying for six months to get to most of these jobs. Further note: I probably did even more stuff which escapes me now. Final note: the feeling of momentum with getting stuff done makes me so happy I could pop (or at least stay up way too late to get more stuff done)].

As further illustration of how amazing this is, my days usually go something like this. Wake stupidly early, feed the boy. Put him in his chair while he's happy so I can make coffee/breakfast. Play with him, feed him, get him to sleep. The forty-minute 'stealth ninja' sprint begins and includes as much as possible from the following: get dressed and roughly cleaned up, wash and make bottles, do last night's dishes, keep the perpetual motherlode of laundry churning, try to keep a very large, open-to-the-elements house cleanish tidy liveable, eat lunch, make lists of things I must do but never seem to get to. If he's not sleeping well, the forty-minute sprint becomes a twenty-minute sprint with interruptions to get him back TF to sleep. He has anywhere between two and four sleeps a day. And sometimes I accidentally clang a pot and *bugger shit fuck* wake him.**

Our night time routines have also improved markedly in the past month or so. We are mostly eating dinner together now, which makes a lovely change from the tag-team affair that reigned for a long time after E came home from hospital.

I'm loathe to call it too early, but hey, I'm on a roll. This feels like considerable improvement. 


...

**This is why I haven't called/written to anyone/blogged and have struggled to do any yoga/walking for six months :)