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7 Nov

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The weird things that babies love

7 Nov
My ten month-old baby has a new obsession. It’s Gotye – the indie Belgian-Australian singer/songwriter who sings that song ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’. You’ve probably seen the video, in which Gotye (real name – Wally De Backer – no wonder he calls himself Gotye) gets painted into an artwork. It’s a song about a bad relationship break-up and is a very mournful tune. The Wiggles –  it ain’t. But my baby girl is mad for it.

She grins and bounces and flaps her arms every time it comes on. Whenever we’re having troubles feeding her, we switch it on (we’ve recorded it on the TV) and boom – down goes the food without fuss. It’s brilliant. But very hard to fathom. We’ve just put in the basket of ‘weird things that don’t make sense’ about babies. Her sister, our eldest child, was much the same. For the first three months of her life, she didn’t smile at anyone or anything except a particular artwork in our house. It was a semi sculptural piece made of old clay tobacco pipes from Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. Our daughter thought it was Christmas. She would beam at it for hours, well, minutes. But in baby-time, one minute of staring basically equals an hour in adult time. Anyone else got some weird baby-loves they’d like to share???

Playing Favourites – my daughter’s special bond with her Dad

18 Oct

Aaagh – my daughter is a real daddy’s girl, which on occasion, can be quite difficult to process. But I’ve learned to accept it. I wrote about the experience for Web Child. Read the article by clicking here

Do babies need toys? Watch this – and see

13 Oct
The gorgeous Ponijao, from Babies

Capturing the joy, delight and excitement of a baby’s first year of life is terribly difficult. Believe me. I’ve tried. It goes like this. Baby does something hilarious/exciting/new. You reach for the camera. By the time you’re rolling. Boom. It’s over. Baby is back to being a blob. The show’s over. It takes a hell of a lot of time, patience and battery power to capture something worthwhile. But that’s exactly what French film director, Thomas Balmes, managed to do. Over 400 days, he filmed the first year of life for four babies – Hattie in San Francisco, Ponijao in Namibia, Bayar in Mongolia and Mari in Tokyo. The result? A delightful, life-affirming, cinematographically gorgeous and thought-provoking documentary, called ‘Babies’. It runs for 80 minutes and there’s no dialogue. It doesn’t need it. My husband and I watched it last night and were mesmerised, in between hoots of laughter. Watch the trailer for a taste. While it’s all cute and wonderful, there are also some pretty important messages here. While the overall message is that babies are babies, wherever you live, there’s also nice contrast between how kids are raised in developing nations, versus highly developed nations. What did I take away from it? Babies don’t need toys, TV, or a clean environment – what they love is interacting with other humans (and animals- the scene of the baby licking her dog’s tongue is incredible) and exploring this wonderful, wonderful world where everything is new and exciting, to them. I’m sure it’s available on DVD – we watched it on Foxtel. For a serious cute injection, watch this video of the beautiful Namibian baby Ponijao, falling asleep while sitting up. I defy you not to smile.

Morning Walk

12 Oct

My park

This is the park where I go for my morning walk. It’s about 4 kilometres from Sydney’s CBD. Can you believe it? This huge, green, clear space is smack bang in the middle of the city. Beautiful, huh. Going for this walk is probably my most regular daily habit. I feel crap if I don’t do it – physically and mentally. I took this particular photo this morning because I think this sums up what my walk does for my brain – it gives it space, room to move and wander. More often than not, it’s where I do my most significant thinking about anything and everything. I’ve scripted many blogs, articles and snippets of fiction on this walk. Sometimes, I forgotten it by the time I get home. I’ve thought about getting a dictaphone so that I can capture the thoughts that fly into my head, so they don’t fly away just as quickly. I’d be kidding if I said every walk is full of profound thoughts. It’s not. I’m not that deep a thinker. Sometimes, I listen to the radio, and other times, I just try to take in the surroundings. There’s a heap to see in this park. My husband (who usually gets stuck minding the kids while I’m out) always asks about my walk, and I would say that, I have usually seen something of note worth reporting to him. Yesterday, it was star spotting – Natalie Gruzlewski and Dr Chris Brown were at the cafe – they are both ridiculously good looking. And very tall. So, from time to time, I’ve decided to post the odd photo of the things I see during my morning constitutional. Hope you enjoy it, at least one tenth as much as I do!

Our house is in training – toilet training

1 Oct
I now know why ‘toilet training’ is referred to as training; it’s because learning to control weeing and pooing is gruelling, challenging and tedious – and that’s just for the parents. It’s no picnic for the kids either. We’re at day 5 of the regime and just starting to see signs of a light at the end of the tunnel. Just. But geez it has not been fun. We did it the hard core way. On Monday our near three year old daughter was in nappies. On Tuesday, she went nappy free (except at sleep time) and hasn’t been back in them since. We put ourselves into self-imposed exile for the week to give it our full attention. That was probably the hardest part, knowing that we could not leave the house. Now, I often spend days at home and it doesn’t bother me at all. When it’s by choice. When it’s imposed on me, the house starts to feel like a prison, and in this case, a psychiatric prison.

This week, I’ve been on the verge of OCD, or should I call it, OTD (obsessive toilet disorder). Every five minutes, I say to my daughter ‘Do you need to use the potty?’ I’ve said the word ‘potty’ more times in the last 5 days than I have in my whole entire 35 years of life. Even my daughter found it annoying. She just says ‘No thanks Mama’ (bless her for the manners). There have been accidents. Of course, that goes with the territory. But most frustratingly, the accidents have come literally two seconds after I’ve asked her if she needs the potty. I confess I have lost my sh*t a little bit, which is totally against the rules of toilet training. Yesterday, in desperation, I turned to the internet for advice and read a comment that has stayed with me ‘There is no room for punishment in toilet training’. I now understand why. The more disappointment I displayed, the more freaked out my daughter became about the whole deal. Mainly, we’ve tried to stick with positive reinforcement, lots of praise, stickers, promises of a bit of kid TV and M & Ms for each successful effort. However, after four days, the incentives were wearing a bit thin. I have now resorted to the ‘wee dance’ which involves me doing a kicking-style dance, stolen from the New Kids On The Block hit ‘Right Stuff’. I’ve also bribed her with the ‘Women’s Weekly Birthday Cake Book’. She adores it. So, I offer to let her have a look as long as she sits on the potty. That’s worked a couple of times. I’ve got one more ace up my sleeve. Photos. My sister told me of a friend who took a photo of her child’s first poo on the potty to send to Grandma. We haven’t got to that stage yet. But I’m not ruling it out. I’ll try anything to get this baby happening. But, as I said at the start of this post, I think we’re starting to make progress. In my mind, I’ll know she’s ‘got it’ when she’s the one telling us that she needs to use the potty. For the first four days, it’s been the reverse. We’ve been telling her when we think she needs to go. But today, there’s been a change. She’s gone to the potty twice, unprompted, and produced the goods, with over-the-top dancing and cheering and high-fives from us. I know she won’t be perfect for months yet. But I really think we may be on the verge of a poo breakthrough and not a “poo through” for once. 

I’m never getting an I-Phone (and other famous last words)

21 Sep

I’m not going to get an I-Phone. Nor anything resembling an internet-enabled mobile phone. There I’ve said it. I’m putting it out there on the world wide web in the hope that it will force me to stick to my guns. It may be significant to no-one but myself. But yes, it is significant to me. It represents the first major mainstream tech gadget that I refuse to be a part of. I’ve got a digital camera, a lap-top, a TV, DVD player, a digital radio, an I-Pod, and a very basic mobile phone (no video, no internet). But I’m stepping off the tech-gadget-train for the first time. It feels like everyone has one, except me (and my husband). Now, the old ‘but everyone else has got one’ might be the excuse of choice for the average 15 year old, but believe me, peer pressure still exists beyond the age of 30.
I’m making this ‘no I-Phone’ declaration now, because lately I’m finding the pull of the I-Phone harder and harder to resist. I blame Amanda Keller. Yes, the funny lady from WS-FM and the TV show ‘Talkin’ bout my generation’. Have you seen her on that Woolworths ad? Her husband eats the last tim-tam, and she whips out her I-Phone, scans it over the packet and ‘hey presto’ Tim-Tams get added to a shopping list stored on her phone. What an app! Brilliant! Ingenious! I am a chronic shopping list-writer. I cannot shop without one. Every Monday, I sit down and write it out long-hand. It’s tedious. I always forget something essential – like toilet paper. Imagine the time saved if I had that I-phone app. I actually looked up the price of an I-Phone the other day. That’s how I know my interest is increasing. It’s a bad sign. A very bad sign. People who own them love them. So great for the kids, they say, so entertaining for them. It seems true. I’ve seen 2 year olds who can operate an I-Phone better than I can. They finger-flick with ease. My fingers have no flick in them. Neither do the fingers of my 2 year old daughter. Will she be teased at pre-school because she has no finger-flick – because her Mum is some anti-technology weirdo?!!! So, if there are some good reasons in favour of the I-Phone, why am I so against it? One reason. I am a bit of a net-aholic. Give me a spare 10 seconds at home, and I’ll be on-line before you can say ‘W-W-W-dot’. Fortunately, my net use is restricted by some major factors. 1) children 2) I have to physically sit down at my lap-top to use it. Imagine if I could use the net anytime, anywhere. It would be like getting a problem gambler to take up residence in a casino. New gadgets are so hard to resist. Let’s face it, we all luv’em. They hold the elusive promise of improving our lives, of making us look/feel/sound/smell better. Just this week I have lashed out on a new kitchen appliance called a thermomix. It costs roughly what an I-Phone would cost over a standard 2 year plan. It’s a pretty big purchase. The selling point is that it can mix, chop, beat, whip, heat, knead, make the bed, wash the dishes etc etc. The way I rationalise it is this – cooking is something I have to do. There’s no avoiding it when you are a stay at home mum. So, anything that makes cooking quicker/easier/more enjoyable is a good purchase. On the other hand, surfing the net is not something I have to do – it’s something I like to do, sure – but no one will go hungry if I don’t check my email, or post a facebook update. In fact, my family is more likely to go hungry if I did have an I-phone. It might be hard to separate me from it. So, here it is. I’m not getting one. These might be famous last words. I might be like those (few) people in the 1950s who scoffed at the first televisions and said ‘Television? What rubbish! That gadget will never take off. Give me a crystal set any day.’ The I-Phone may just turn out to be the television of the future – something that everyone just ‘has’, without question. Who knows? Check back with me in a year. I reckon if I can withstand the allure for the next 12 months then I might just make it.