Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Mummy bashing

Lynn Harris at Salon asks 'why is there so much contempt for mothers these days?' An interesting article that examines some of the ways in which mothers and their 'choices' are criticised. I tend to think that choice is an over-used word in a capitalist world when it often feels as though the only choices people have are around products - if you have a choice of 20 different washing powders isn't it just a bit meaningless? And a bit of a waste of time - I tend to find such choice a bit paralysing - I could spend half an hour trying to decide which one to get and then just end up getting the one that is cheapest, or has the least offensive packaging, or something. And I have always thought that mothers get a bit of a rough deal - not sure if the vitriol is new or just expressed in a different way. Mostly, mothers just want the best for their children and unfortunately that can often be expressed in a desire for the best (or most expensive) pram or neighbourhood or school ad infinitum. And, mostly, we are doing the best we can with the resources we have at our disposal. Hopefully our children will agree when they are grown up and look back at their childhood.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Chet and Spot

Chet and I went to visit Andrea and Kevin on Sunday and Chet proceeded to put their toilet duck in the toilet and splash the toilet water all over himself, get DVDs all over the floor, crawl manically up and down the hall, go into their bedroom, get the broom out and wack it about the kitchen etc etc. We didn't stay that long! Kevin wrote about it in his blip here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

And then he was 1

Chet is now 1. In fact, he turned 1 on 5 October, two weeks ago now. He is now not far off walking - he walks around the coffee table and has a little wooden trolley I got him for his birthday that he likes to push around the house, grinning madly. He now has 12 teeth - 4 molars seem to be coming through at once which has been giving him some gyp. And he sure can eat - sometimes it seems as though he is eating his bodyweight in food. And when he doesn't want any more food he waves his arms around vigorously in front of his face or he spits his food out or he simply drops it on the floor. But mostly he waves, a lot.

For his birthday we had a picnic in our local park which was well attended. I managed to consume a couple of glasses of champas which I felt were much needed after a year of interrupted sleep. We laid the cake out on a table cloth that my grandmother had bought in 1940 to use for my father's birthday parties. This table cloth was then passed to my mother when I was born and was used for all of mine and my brother's birthday parties. And, last time I saw my mother, the cloth was duly handed down to me to use for Chet's birthday. It is a beautiful linen table cloth with Snow White and the Seven Dwarves on it and has held up surprisingly well given how old it is. Although, as my dad pointed out, it hasn't actually been used that much over the years.

So, to my beautiful son on the occasion of your first birthday - you are a delight to me, I revel in your smiles and giggles and I feel we have been privileged to be your care giver until you are ready to take your place in the world. You are a happy contended child and you light up my world. With much love, your mother.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A year ago ...

I was just over 40 weeks pregnant. Chet was due on 28th September. On the evening of the 29th September I had a hind water leak which is where there is some leaking of fluid from above the baby but the waters don't actually break. It can be a problem due to the risk of infection. I thought my waters had broken and rang the Birth Centre around midnight. They told me to go to sleep and to call in the morning and let them know if there had been any progress. No progress in the morning so I went to the birth centre and then had to have a CTP scan to check that Chet (or Mr Leapy as he was known then) was ok. Then followed several days of daily trips to the hospital to check on my progress (none) and Mr Leapy's happiness or otherwise (he was fine).

After several days of this we were all pretty sick of it so the decision was made to book an induction. We were offered the Thursday or the Saturday so we took the Saturday in the hope that labour would start by itself. No such luck of course so the cascade of intervention followed from having my waters broken manually, to oxytocin drip, gas, epidural and finally, caesarean. Yowser. Still, I am glad I had those few days to get my head around the fact I was going to be induced and to prepare for the possible intervention that may follow. I think in some ways I was sad for a while regarding the birth as I had hoped for an intervention free birth but now, nearly a year down the track I feel OK about it. I know it is a cliché but I do after all have a happy and healthy baby. And the birth is only a few hours (15 in my case) in the scheme of things.

And, tonight, for the first time, I put my nearly 1 year old to bed without wrapping him. Yeah I know, you are supposed to stop wrapping at some point (I think around 6 months). I started trying to stop and have spent months wrapping only one arm - mainly for my benefit because when I don't wrap he grabs my hair and ears with the unwrapped hand. But, young Chetwin had really been resisting the wrapping in the last few days so I decided that tonight was the night for the wrap to go. And touch wood, it seems to be ok, although I did have to put up with some ear tugging. Hopefully he will sleep better - it would be nice to have a night of him sleeping the whole night - we have had 3 of those so far, and yes I am counting.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Growing up ...

My little baby is becoming more and more like a little boy. The nearly 12 months of babyhood have flown by and now I have an energetic little man who crawls around at great speed and shrieks with excitement or boredom. Here he is in a Hoodoo Gurus t-shirt bought for him by the K-man, playing with his tambourine. We'll make a musician out of him yet!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Just a minute - August

Been a bit slack with the blogging of late - no excuse really when I consider how often some blogs are updated. Still, we were away for nearly two weeks in August and I go back to work in a month and I think I have been panicking a bit about that. And I had a cold all last week so doing anything aside from that basics was a bit difficult. Anyway, just a minute for August:

Travelling... to Tasmania and Melbourne - we got to Hobart, Port Arthur, Swansea, Launceston and experienced truly horrendous wind in Melbourne - telegraph pole flattening wind ... we enjoyed being away but we were all pretty pleased to be home as well.

Watching... Chet crawl around the coffee table laughing with excitement. He is just so pleased to be on the move. While we were away his crawling really developed from the commando style he favoured to the more traditional hands and knees crawl. The change seemed to happen almost overnight.

Reading... Holding the Man, Buddhism for Mothers, Lonely Planet Tasmania, Naked Motherhood: Shattering Illusions and Sharing Truths.

Thinking... about returning to work, the past year, the next year.

Eating... a fab lunch at Rockpool Bar and Grill with the K-man, sans Chet. A very pleasant Friday afternoon drinking wine, eating well and relaxing in style.

Buying... fabric, baby clothes from charity shops, 1st birthday presents.

Wanna play? Head on over to August Street.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Barking mad

Chet and I went to Parramatta Park on Friday to meet up with the Sydney baby wearers. It was a beautiful warm winters day of the kind that Sydney does so well. But, for some reason, some faceless, no doubt male, bureaucrat, had decided that the play area in the park should be covered in bark. I had cleverly dressed Chet in a cream striped shirt. I put him down on the ground and he took off with his speedy commando crawl and spent the entire time covered in bark and dirt and I wasted a lot of time trying to get it off him and me. Here is a picture taken by the lovely Lara Nettle.

The bark made me realise why the park at the end of our street is so popular. It is quite small, at the end of a dead end street and bordered by the old goods line in Dulwich Hill. The play area was renovated a few years ago - before that it was a bit piss weak world - and it has one of the best swings for babies - a bucket all in one swing that holds them in securely. Here is Chet in the swing minus a shoe. The play area in the park is covered in an astro turf sort of material (I don't know the correct name for it) and Chet can crawl around on it quite safely and cleanly. In the afternoons a steady stream of prams and tricycles trickles down our street heading for the park. I go down there most afternoons just to get out of the house and to get Chet out as well. All we need now is for someone to start some sort of summer wine club down there - I think more than a few mothers and fathers would be down there like a shot sipping a cheeky glass of rose or some such watching their kids play and enjoying the surrounds. I suppose alcohol and child wrangling is not something to be encouraged - perhaps I will be the only one down there with a bottle in a brown paper bag taking a few surreptitious swigs?

Friday, July 31, 2009

Just a minute - July

I saw the Just a Minute meme on Badskirt and thought I would give it a go - a good thing to do on the last day of the month ...

Winning... a crazy fort from KidsStyleFile for doing a survey. I never win anything so this was very exciting. It might be too old for Chet at the moment but that isn't the point.

Learning... about 10 month old baby development, blogging and google analytics.

Seeing... old friends in Brisbane, Pineapples from the Dawn of Time, people in my neighbourhood.

Collecting... fabric from charity shops, baby clothes and toys. The K-man is collecting hornsea mugs and cameras.

Planning... a trip to Tasmania and Melbourne in August, childcare for Chet from October.

Watching... Baby Einstein, The Wire, Flight of the Conchords, The Bill.

Listening... Radio National, Lucinda Williams, Vashti Bunyan.

Reading... info on rheumatoid arthritis, Revolutionary Road, Watermelon: husband in a coma & other setbacks, friend's blogs, the local paper, The Monthly, The Foolish Tortoise.

Making... a mess, corn and polenta muffins.

Thinking... about writing, about blogging, about what to make next, about health and illness.

Walking... round Iron Cove, to Marrickville, to Summer Hill, to the park.

These boots are made for walking ...

I have been doing a lot of walking of late in a bid to lose weight and get a little bit fit before I go back to work in October. It would be good to fit into those work clothes - I don't fancy having to buy more, at times I resent having a work wardrobe as it is! I either walk around my neighbourhood or I drive to various points around Iron Cove and walk part of what is known locally as the Bay Run.

In the mornings it is beautiful walking around the water and if I time it right Chet will go to sleep straight away which means I don't have to worry about him. Last week I drove to Rodd Point and walked around to the cafe above Drummoyne Pool and had breakfast while Chet slept. He woke up halfway through breakfast and seemed quite happy to take in the view.

I love the Bay Run for its' essential dagginess. I don't look out of place exercising in jeans and a jacket - I just don't seem to own any 'athletic' style clothes aside from yoga clothes and I don't like wearing them in public. I don't own a tracksuit (they make me think of that footage of John Howard goofily stepping out for his morning walk) and I am the woman who climbed a mountain in Pakistan wearing a pair of 70s brown cords, a 70s ski jacket and a pair of blunnies. The exact same outfit I had worn to underground raves in London - it was nothing if not versatile. Whilst in Pakistan I did add a large green scarf that I could use to cover my hair and upper torso if required. On the Bay Run I have seen old men wearing even older suits stepping out around Iron Cove, lots of dog walkers and of course the serious runners and cyclists with all the gear. But it retains the essential inclusiveness of the inner west, there is space for everyone to get out there and enjoy the water, the views and the fine weather.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Happy pills

I picked up my new lot of thyroid pills from the compounding chemist last week and they were purple. It made my day. Purple makes me happy, so purple pills that also help my thyroid work better have got to be a winner. The old ones were small and white and were slowly making me more and more depressed. Within a day of switching back to the thyroid extract the thin veil of depression that was hovering over my head had just disappeared. It may have been a placebo affect due to me feeling that I was taking control of my body by changing by thyroid medication but I think not.

Here are the purple pills nestling with part of my purple glass collection, purple on purple on purple. Reminds me of that famous poem from the '60s by Jenny Joseph which is actually entitled Warning but starts with "When I am an old woman I shall wear purple". Not only am I collecting purple glass and wearing the occasional bit of purple but I am even swallowing purple pills. Practising to be an eccentric old woman perhaps?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

9 months and counting

Well, Chet has now been out for as long as he was in. 9 months on 5 July. It has gone pretty fast - it seems as though it was summer only yesterday and now here we are in the middle of winter. I saw a photo of myself heavily pregnant yesterday - I was a bit surprised - is that what I looked like? I can scarcely remember. I wonder if other mothers feel like that - maybe that is part of the forgetting that makes woman go back for more - babies I mean!

And, I go back to work in 3 months which is a little bit difficult to get my head around - not the work per se, but the kerfuffle that has to happen before and after work - getting myself and a baby fed and ready for the day and to childcare and then work and doing it all in reverse at the end of the day. I feel exhausted just thinking about it!

Chet really is developing in leaps and bounds now. He has 8 teeth and another one on the way, a head of very blond hair, no skin tag, some excema and possibly some psoriasis, a delightful chuckle and a cheeky look on his face a lot of the time. He has recently mastered a kind of one armed commando shuffle which appears to use a lot of energy for not a lot of reward but is surprisingly effective - he can get across the lounge room floor pretty fast that's for sure. He can launch himself out of his bumbo and laughs when he does. In fact, he laughs at most things - he certainly doesn't take life too seriously - he would get that from the K-man I think. The K-man was changing him this morning and he farted on the change table and burst into laughter - fart jokes appeal to all ages apparently. It might be time to get out that whoopie cushion!

Chet is also very determined - if he sees something he wants he really tries to go for it - the K-man claims that this comes from me. He loves going to the park - he particularly loves the swing and in general seems quite fearless - something that could be a concern later on but at the moment is quite nice to watch. He is happy to be passed around, loves going out and meeting new people, doesn't mind staying up at all and is generally pretty good fun to be around. And, he doesn't seem to be shy at all - maybe that will develop later on but at the moment he seems to be a happy, confident, outgoing little boy. I don't think we can take credit for this - it just seems to be the way he is. We cater to his needs of course - ensuring he is fed and changed and loved and that he sleeps but otherwise it feels as though he is on his own path and developing in his own way at his own pace. Remarkable really, sometimes I just look at him in wonder - it doesn't seem real that we produced this perfect human being ...

Monday, July 6, 2009

It's my thyroid

For a couple of years now every time I have had some kind of health issue I have blamed my thyroid - and it is true, my thyroid has been responsible for weight gain, excessive tiredness, hair thinning, eyebrow thinning (bizarrely), brain fog, dry skin and possibly some of the aches and pains I have had in my wrists and feet. But now, joy oh rapture, I possibly have another autoimmune disease to add to the mix - rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

I saw a rheumatologist last week who said that she thought that there was probably some kind of autoimmune thing going on with me and that it was probably rheumatoid arthritis. They don't like to go out on a limb diagnosing these things unnecessarily which I guess is fair enough. Better to err on the side of caution than to diagnose prematurely. However, the pains I have had in my hands and feet would indicate RA as would a range of other things including having had a miscarriage. So perhaps I have been unfair in blaming my thyroid.

So, two chronic illness which basically involve the body attacking itself. Hashimoto's thyroiditis is where the body attacks the thyroid and with RA the body attacks the lining of the joints. With autoimmune disease, for some reason, something causes the immune system to see the body's own tissues as foreign invaders. In pregnancy, the immune system is suppressed so that the body doesn't attack the baby and I think that this is why I felt so good when I was pregnant as my immune system also wasn't attacking my thyroid. And I guess why I have been feeling fairly crappy of late - my immune system has kicked into overdrive. The RA symptoms started appearing about 2 months after Chet was born - apparently not uncommonly with this form of arthritis.

So, I am trying to work out a personal plan of attack for this without feeling too depressed about it all. It is fairly tedious and I certianly don't want it to be the only thing I can think about. I have a small boy to attend to and I would rather be enjoying watching him grow up and experience the world than thinking about how my hands hurt. None of this is a death sentence and really just needs to be managed effectively but some days are better than others that's for sure. Some nights I can hardly pick Chet up and some mornings when I get up all I can manage is a particularly attractive crone-like shuffle. However, at this stage it is not debilitating and I hope that it won't be. So, back to acupuncture and a wheat-free diet for me. Possibly a dairy free diet (luckily I have been eating a lot of cheese lately, hopefully I won't miss it too much). It is time, in the words of my favourite thyroid blog, to kick the arse of this godamn immune system.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

She sews ...

It's been a bit crafty round here lately. Months ago now I finally had my sewing machine serviced. Would you believe that Dulwich Hill, once featured in the travel section of the New York Times, has a sewing machine repair shop? I didn't but there it was, on New Canterbury Road, staffed by a very helpful woman who admired Chet and helped me get the serviced machine out to my car.

My grandmother gave me my sewing machine 20 years ago when I finished school and it has been good to me over the years. It has however been sadly neglected of late - the last thing I made was a curtain for the K-man when he lived in a skungy share house quite a while back. And, after it was serviced, it sat in the hall for a while, gathering dust, along with an amp, baby clothes to be passed on and growing piles of fabric and jars. Last weekend, I finally got around to setting it up on the dining room table and going through my fabric. I managed to make a bib pattern from a bib I had and then made two bibs using a funky piece of atomic bark cloth and some red towelling. Here they are with the K-man's crossword.

Then, whist flicking through the Meet Me At Mikes book I found a pattern for baby yoga pants and decided that Chet really needed a pair of bright red towelling pants, so I made them as well. And don't they look fab? They make me smile every time I see them because they are kind of silly and because the fabric is very forgiving of my rusty sewing. And they are toasty warm. So, since I was on a roll, I found some orange and white animal print fabric and made a pair of pants out of that as well.

Here are all my crafty efforts together. After months of reading crafty blogs it was very exciting to actually get it together and craft something myself. And I have to say, baby clothes very easy to make as they are small and it doesn't matter so much if they don't work out as well as they might. Next up, something for me although the K-man was asking if I could make him a pair of inside trousers like Chet's animal print pants. Unfortunately I don't have enough of that fabric to make him a matching pair but I am sure I can rustle something up - hopefully in time for summer.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Prearicular tags

Chet went to hospital yesterday to have a prearicular tag removed from his right ear. Here is a picture of it taken when we were in hospital just after he was born. It was basically a smallish extraneous bit of skin, a skin tag situated near the tragus - coincidentally, in a similar spot to where I used to have a piercing. While it was quite cute and certainly set him apart from the rest it was indeed extraneous and the decision was made to remove it.

Apparently, in the embryo, the ear develops at the same time as the kidneys which means that there can be a very small chance of kidney problems with prearicular tags so Chet had had to have a renal ultrasound a while back. All was fine so he was then referred to a paediatric surgeon at the Sydney Children's Hospital who looked at it, said that he could we could either hold Chet down then and there and tie it off but that would hurt him quite a bit or we could have it removed surgically under general anaesthetic. We opted for the latter - I wasn't really up for holding Chet down while he was manhandled.

So, as instructed we turned up at the hospital yesterday at 7am. Chet had to fast and had had nothing to eat or drink since 2am. He was pretty cheery considering - he rolled around in his hospital cot wearing his tiny hospital gown grinning and gurgling at anyone who came his way. This was in direct contrast to some of the other children at the hospital who were there for much more serious complaints. Someone the K-man knew was in our ward with his little girl who was going to be there for 5 days, having a tumour removed, followed by chemo. I felt almost embarrassed to have Chet there so obviously well and happy and only in hospital for a few hours for what was really a very minor operation. And, all in all, Chet was a little trouper. I went into surgery with him and was there while they administered the anaesthetic which he really didn't like but he went under pretty quickly. I was then escorted to a waiting area where the K-man and I waited until the surgery was done and he woke up. We then went to the recovery area where we found a very unhappy little boy, which apparently is normal after anaesthetic. I fed him and we went back to the ward where he was observed for a while to make sure there were no side affects and then we were discharged at 11am.

A pretty short and smooth hospital visit I have to say. I was prepared to be there all day so we were happy with the whole process. Chet now has a dressing on his ear, with 3 internal stitches and a small bruise on his hand where the cannula was inserted but otherwise seems none the worse for wear. And I feel grateful to have a well and happy little boy.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tripping the light fantastic

On Monday we managed to get to an event in the city. This may not seem like such an achievement but even before Chet we would often see an ad for an exhibition or some such and talk about it, discuss going and then just not make it as the time didn't seem to be quite right. Somehow the winds of fate managed to get us into the city just before dark which meant that we could actually view the Light Walk exhibition as part of the Vivid Sydney Festival.

We had been out and about with Chet and he had fallen asleep in the car and so we had been driving around aimlessly while he slept. He woke up late afternoon so we headed to the Rocks, parked and loaded Chet into the stroller, feeling like bad parents as we didn't have a hat for him and it was quite cold. I spent the rest of the evening looking for other babies without hats so I wouldn't feel quite so bad about being disorganised. Still, we did have a blanket (only because it lives in the stroller) and he was quite rugged up so we thought he could cope with being out in the cold night air. And, it seems to be part and parcel of how we tend to do things - spur of the moment, a bit half-arsed and with not enough planning - I guess Chet had better get used to it.

Anyway, we wandered down past the observatory towards Circular Quay to look for a convivial bar to have a cheeky glass of wine before it got dark and the lights were all turned on ... and then we remembered we were in Sydney. We headed Number One wine bar as I had just read Tori's post on it and the K-man had delivered stuff there for his work, but since it was Monday it was closed. So we ended up at the downstairs bar of the Overseas Passenger Terminal complex which has all the ambience of a toilet block but we managed to get seating inside so Chet could be out of the cold and we did have a good view of the light show on the Opera House. I had an average glass of rose, the K-man had a schmiddy of Asahi but Chet laughed in delight when we gave him a couple of coasters to play with so it wasn't all in vain. We watched the light show over the Opera House, then walked up to the MCA to see the light show there which I have to say I enjoyed more than the Opera House lights. Then up through the Rocks to see the lights on the Argyle Cut and an installation of lights in empty bottles wandered back to the car and headed off home. It was fun taking Chet out and he coped pretty well with it all so we shall certainly have to have more outings with him.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


I am not sure what is going on but there have been a few choking incidents round here. Yesterday I took Chet to a local music playgroup at the Salvation Army. I know, what was I thinking? I don't do religion and I also don't really do organised activities. But, I thought Chet might enjoy it and I had heard positive things about it so I thought we would give it a go. It seems that yesterday was particularly crowded due to an abundance of birthdays - if your child goes during their birthday week they get a cup cake and a present. So, even though I am not really big with crowds we stayed put. The songs were ok, aside from the religious ones, although they were led by a slightly earnest woman with a strained smile and a Madonna style microphone on her head. I can't saw I was that excited by her delivery, or by the anti-abortion leaflets scattered about the place. However, Chet seemed to enjoy himself at the beginning - I don't think he had seen so many kids in one place before - I am not sure I had either. He participated in some of the songs, stood up and shrieked and waved his arms around at appropriate moments and continued practising his raspberry noises. He was a little overwhelmed by the end of the music so we ended up sitting at the back of the room so he could calm down a little bit. After the music, there was a table of food for the kiddies so I propelled myself into the shit fight to get Chet some fruit which he then proceeded to choke on. It was my fault, the piece of rockmelon was too big - I should have cut it in half for him. He went bright red, couldn't breathe, I had to turn him upside down and hit him on the back and he coughed and vomited up the rockmelon all over me. I was sitting near some people who saw all this happen and didn't come to my aid which upset me a little bit. Chet cried afterwards but seemed to recover ok.

And then, this morning, who should be choking on the rest of her breakfast but the Minx. She was crouched in the kitchen making an awful retching noise. The retching noise seemed to clear whatever it was that was blocking her windpipe and she drank some water and retired to the couch.

I shouldn't really be surprised by all this choking - I constantly choke myself. In my first year at college I think I choked on my food almost every day, although that may say more about the quality of the food than my ability to eat successfully. I have choked on water, on air, on food, on nothing. I don't know what it is, I think I just forget what I am doing or something and suddenly I am gasping and I can't breathe. When I was pregnant I coughed so much after choking on some water that my nose bled. Now, that's a skill. I have a similar problem with walking sometimes, I will be merrily walking down the street and then suddenly I am on the ground having tripped over my own feet or the footpath or a leaf. I hope Chet doesn't choke too much, it really is quite upsetting seeing your baby go red in the face like that. And, I hope he doesn't inherit my lack of ability to walk down the street (a trait inherited from my father) ... time will tell I guess.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Let her eat cake

Last week the Minx was caught eating blueberries off a cake. I had had a burst of energy and had made a pear and blueberry cake (or tart I guess) and the K-man had left it on the dining room table while he prepared dinner. He looked up and there was the Minx, standing next to the cake, having taken a bite out of it, with a blueberry hanging out of her mouth. Fortunately for her we found it so amusing we couldn't discipline her (which is quite impossible to do anyway). We just laughed. And it was only a small bite.

Less amusing was the afternoon I sat down on the lounge to feed Chet and looked over to the coffee table to see a small pellety cat poo nestling next to the TV guide. The Minx has a problem with follow-through when using her kitty litter and on occasion sprints off with the final product still hanging out of her bum. Charming I know. Fortunately it doesn't happen very often. All I can think is that perhaps she is preparing me for toilet training.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

She's a pusskin

I haven't written about the much loved fourth member of the household - our lovely little black and moggy, Minx. Not a day goes by when we don't remark: "she's a pusskin" or "that Minx". And, she really is a Minx. We think she has a lot of personality, although she tends to keep it (and herself) hidden when there are visitors. She is a bit hopeless - she doesn't realise that she can go to the toilet outside and comes rushing in to use the kitty litter, she hasn't grasped the rudimentary laws of physics and as a result cannot open a door by hooking her paw around it and pulling it towards her (her technique is to fling herself on the floor in front of the door, often hitting her head on the floor in the process), and she has a tendency to play with her food, especially chicken which she likes to flick around the dining room. She is our first baby, we got her as a kitten from the Cat Protection Society the day after Kevin Rudd was elected in November 2007. She ended up getting very sick with cat flu in the first week we had her and we seriously thought she was going to die. We had grave reservations about our ability to look after a baby if we couldn't even look after a kitten for a week. Fortunately she pulled through although she often has sneezing fits and I think is a little bit stunted from being so sick when she was so young.

Minx wasn't too keen on Chet's arrival - every time I came home with him in the capsule she would look at me as if to say: "you brought him back again" but now she likes him although she does run away if he gets a bit too boisterous. Chet on the other hand, loves her and gets very excited whenever he see her - kicking his legs furiously and grinning madly. Minx only jumped in his cot once and that was in a bid to get me out of bed to feed her one weekend when the K-man was away. Quite clever really, she knew that the best way to get my attention was to do something to Chet and jumping in the cot was quite inspired as I got out of bed pretty quick smart to get her out of there. She's a pusskin ...

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Slap

My concentration seems to have improved and I have finally managed to do some reading. In the past couple of weeks have read both The Slap and Loaded by Christos Tsiolkas. It was interesting to read his first and latest novels in this way and to compare the differences between them. Loaded was a Ulysses-esque day and night in the life of a young gay-ish Greek boy from Melbourne. It was an angry, uncompromising drug fueled sex romp through the homes and streets and clubs of early 90s inner city Melbourne. I liked it and am not sure why I didn't read it when it first came out. I could certainly relate to a lot of it, although my early 90s experience was in Brisbane. The Slap on the other hand was more assured, more adult, not so angry but equally uncompromising in its' own way. The sex and drugs are both still there and I was pleased to see the teenage characters going to parties and the Big Day Out and getting wasted just as the young and the not so young are wont to do.

The premise was interesting - the accounts of the lives of eight people who were present at a bbq where an angry man slaps a badly behaved 3 year old child who is not his own. The ruminations on marriage and family and parenting really spoke to me and certainly as a new parent it provided a lot to think about. Some critics have mentioned that the characters are not terribly likeable but I think that misses the point and that most of us wouldn't come across as terribly likeable if all of our inner thoughts were revealed in the way that Tsiolkas reveals the thoughts of these characters. I thought it was pretty true to life. I liked the structure although I wanted to read more about Gary, the alcoholic father of Hugo, the boy who was slapped. And, for a sleep deprived mama it was a pretty easy quick read. I bought it on Thursday and finished it on Saturday night, happy to return to my old habit of gorging on a book, reading it at every spare moment until it is finished. And I heard on the news yesterday that Tsiolkas won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for The Slap - well deserved I reckon.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Not drowning waving

Chet's latest accomplishment is waving, manically, to everything in sight. In the last couple of days I have come across him waving to the fridge, the lounge, the wall and the light fittings. He does on occasion also wave to animate objects such as the cat or the K-man or me but it seems to be a wave of hello, I am here, rather than a goodbye wave which is the more traditional wave. Sometimes it is as though he is waving to an imaginary legion of adoring fans - perhaps it is a nod to the inner performer AKA the K-man, or perhaps he just likes waving.

The waving comes after what feels like months of concentrated hand watching. Chet would be in the middle of something when he would suddenly stop and stare, transfixed at his hands, waving them around in wonder like a microdot casualty from the 80s. It is a sight to behold and I am pretty sure it is one of the reasons he wakes up at night - just so he can look at his hands. But for now waving takes priority.

Other newish skills including getting around the lounge room floor in a kind of commando roll; lying on his back and kicking vigorously whilst holding a maraca and grinning manically; and opening his mouth obediently while waiting for one of us to place a spoonful of food in it. He also now has 5 teeth - two in the middle on the top and two in the middle on the bottom and one eye tooth on the top - with another on its' way through. He remains a happy smiley soul and is more and more fun to spend time with. I truly can't complain.

Monday, May 4, 2009

More what do you do all day ...

Just saw this and thought it apt, and interesting.

TELL ME ABOUT IT: Why don't friends with kids have time

I guess a lot of people can relate. Makes me realise how much life has changed, and will continue to change. We went to the park yesterday, all three of us and the K-man, whilst observing several little boys tear about the place, commented that Chet is quite easy to deal with at the moment, which is true. He can't quite crawl yet so is still pretty portable and easy to manage. I just know that once he gets going he will be unstoppable, not unlike my brother who was doing things like crashing my mother's car aged 3 - oh the things I have to look forward to.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Charity begins at home

One of the joys for me of not working is being able to trawl charity shops in search of bargains. At the moment I am mainly drawn to crockery, fabric and children's clothing. And of course the odd brightly coloured 70s polyester garment for me. My charity shopping fetish began when I was 15 and living in north Queensland with very little money but a great desire to stand out from the crowd. Oh the things I found - a beautiful handmade maroon velvet coat with tartan lining for 50 cents - which I still have - not to mention a range of fantastic 60s frocks and other delights. The joys of country town charity shopping. On Monday I was a bit sick with a cold (not swine flu) and I had lost my voice but needed to get out of the house. So, Chet and I rugged up and set off for the local Salvos. Here we are - Chet in the pikkolo with his hoody on and me resplendent with bad hair and a pimple.

At the charity shop I found a blue hand knitted children's jumper and some fantastic 60s/70s Japanese soup bowls. One matches the K-man's coffee cup and the other two have the words soup and crackers written all over them. And, only 50cents each. My heart soared - I was very excited indeed and almost forgot I was incredibly sleep deprived and couldn't speak. The jumper was sent to a friend for her baby as I had bought something similar last week and the soup bowls came home with me. Here they are, and also a pic with the K-man's coffee cup. Now I just have to get the bamix out and make lots of lovely thick wintery soup.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Another musical Chet

I saw the fabulous Lucinda Williams last night, and whilst trying to stay awake and not annoy my friends with my yawning I discovered that a member of her backing band is called Chet. Apparently he is guitarist and keyboard player Jeff "Chet" Lyster, ex Eels. I am collecting musical Chets now - it seems they are multiplying. I was discussing this with the K-man tonight - what comes first - the name or the musical ability? Can you name a child to be musical? I would think not, probably says more about the interests etc of the parents. Oh and Lucinda was fantastic, and her rendition of 'It's a long way to the top' a fine way to end the night. I didn't get a sausage roll though.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

What do you do all day?

A friend, who doesn't have children, asked me the other day how I spent my days and I have to say I was at a bit of a loss for an answer. And, it is not as though I do nothing, it is just that what I do do is so prosaic that it is hard to put into words. And it is funny, most people don't ask you what you do all day when you have a job and that can be just as hard to articulate. I guess for me, having a baby means that your work is now spread out (not necessarily evenly) over a twenty-four hour period whereas if you are working your work is 9 to 5 and you might fit in a bit of housework on the weekend. I think that the K-man thinks I don't do much at work as I tend to work at a desk and a computer whereas his work is more physical and tangible. I know, however, that he is a bit more aware that being at home with a baby is work. He certainly hasn't dared to ask me what I do all day, or demand I get on with the housework etc.

So, what do I do all day? Well in any 24 hour period there can be between 6 to 10 breastfeeds. That takes some time. Then there is the settling and the putting to bed. Certainly in the early days I felt as though I was always putting Chet to bed and it is definitely one of the things that I find a bit tedious - it happens at least three times a day and doesn't always work on the first go so a fair amount of time is spent rocking and wrapping and replacing the dummy. And now Chet is on solids (stupid word really, it certainly doesn't mean the food which is mush, perhaps it is referring to the output which is certainly more 'solid') there are two meals a day, working up to three. Plus there is the making of the food, freezing mushy leftovers into ice cube trays and putting it in little plastic containers. I quite like doing this, but it also takes time.

Then, there seems to be quite a lot of buckling - not to mention buckling under the strain at times. Buckling him into his chair so he doesn't rock himself out of it and do himself a damage, buckling him into his car seat and then unbuckling him at the other end. Buckling him into his pram or his stroller and unbuckling him several times during that particular expedition ... and on it goes.

And of course, the perennial nappy changes which I don't actually mind but they can take up some time, especially if he decides to wee on you while you are in the middle of it. Hmm, then there seems to be a lot of rubbish to take out and endless loads of washing (and I don't even have a chucker) and other bits of housework. And because you are home all day there is plenty of time to notice how dirty the house is and to dirty it some more. The K-man likes to leave crumbs about the place, the Minx leaves cat fur everywhere and don't get me started on the dust.

In between these chores I like to play with my baby, take him for walks, talk to him and read to him. Oh and sleep needs to be slotted in somehow as well.

Not that I am complaining mind, I quite like being at home and being able to potter about and go shopping during the day when it isn't crowded and to walk slowly and look at other people's gardens. And getting out and about with a baby is fun - people stop and talk to Chet and he grins madly at them. A couple of weeks ago an old man gave me some wild flowers he had picked down by the old freight train line and stood and admired Chet for a while. I feel more engaged with my local neighbourhood and life feels as though it is progressing at a more leisurely pace. It is like a brief time out from the world of work and catching trains and rushing about. In fact, I would have to say I am quite enjoying it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Furry paws

Mamma Mogantosh got me thinking about the way families develop their own language or shorthand. I always felt that perhaps my family had more of this than a lot of families, but perhaps I am mistaken. It also seems as though the K-man's family is big on having a private language. Now that I think about it, in my family, it was a particularly private language, which excluded others and could at times be quite claustrophobic. Perhaps it was cemented by the process of immigration, I'm not sure. And, I am never sure if the sayings that my father has are things he has made up or things that were common in Zimbabwe from the 30s to the 80s or sayings he acquired from his Scottish father. What this means is that the K-man and I are now busily inventing our own language, perhaps as a form of family creation. So, no doubt when Chet starts school he will be well versed in the language of MacLean-James which will prepare him for, well, nothing at all, apart from being able to communicate with his family. Hopefully.

Our language is not as developed as the Mogantosh's but I am sure, that given time, it will blossom into a veritable bed of thorny roses. At the moment, babies are referred to as leapys, Chet has paws and footskas and furs (although not furry paws at this stage) and he has just grown two tooffles and likes to suck on his dum dum. He wears clothses and he communes daily with the pusskin who in turn is a rooster girl. Whenever Chet is hungry he is a hungry hungry hippo and whenever he rolls over he is doing a roly poly. And he seems to have quite a collection of funts (elephants) in all shapes and sizes. I can see looking at this selection that some of the phrases are from my family, some from the K-man's and some are our own creation - just like Chet I guess.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Morning tea

One of the nice things about being at home is having a break for morning tea. I had a coffee ritual at work as well, which was more about leaving my desk for a while to go off on a coffee run. At home it is about sitting down and reflecting on the night before and the day ahead. I do this most mornings, at any time between 9 and 11, depending on when Chet is feeding and when he is sleeping. I like the ritual of tea in a tea pot and I love little plates and tea cups. Here is one of my morning teas - coffee and chocolate biscuits.

And, another nice thing about being home seems to be an increased desire to bake. I have been baking some polenta, cheese and corn muffins of late and here they are, with a pot of earl grey tea and beautiful crockery.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Toowoomba city here we come ...

Chet and I went to Toowoomba for a week to visit my parents. Anyone who knows me will know that I tend to find any extended time spent with my parents slightly stressful and this trip was no exception. The main difference was that I had a small baby who needed my attention I wasn't so caught up in the drama that is my parents. That said, there was plenty to keep us entertained - my Dad checking the stock market every hour and getting upset every time it went down, which was every time he checked it; my mother worrying about the price of cat food - a worry that had previously been purely my father's domain; and I got into trouble for not putting the car into 5th gear when I took it 10ks down the road - apparently this wastes petrol. Still, Chet was adored by all and had a wonderful time. He mostly rolled around on a picnic blanket on the floor and played with his squeaky pirate, book and monkey and looked at Snout the cat with interest. He got to put his feet on grass for the first time and was only really upset when I left him with my mother for half an hour to get a facial. He seemed to cope pretty well with flying - he was asleep for take-off both times and he slept in a family cot that apparently my mother and her siblings had slept in as well as my brother.

After spending time with my family I always need to debrief and no one truly understands what I am talking about more than my brother. This was reiterated for me by Judith Lucy, who's The Lucy Family Alphabet I read while I was away. In amongst the tales of bad behaviour and amusing anecdotes she makes an interesting point about siblings: "No-one understands your parents or your childhood experience like a fellow sibling." It got me thinking about families and wondering how Chet is going to experience our family. And if he doesn't have a sibling (and it is quite likely he won't) who is going to understand what he is talking about? Hopefully my brother will be there for him in the same way my aunt was there for me when I needed to talk about my family experiences and hopefully he won't need to debrief too much after spending time with us. Time will only tell I guess.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Deep in a dream ...

I am currently reading Deep in a dream: the long night of Chet Baker, a bio of Chet Baker which I like to think is baby related as we partly got Chet from Chet Baker. Chet Baker's Chet is from Chesney however, whereas our Chet is from Chetwin. I hope there are other differences as well - Chet Baker was a junkie and lived quite a sad life, dying in suspicious circumstances in Amsterdam in 1988. Coincidentally, he had a daughter called Melissa and was apparently a beautiful square jawed blond man - and of course I hope that Chet will be similarly attractive.

And of course we both hope that Chet will be musically talented like Chet Baker. If he is it wouldn't be from my side of the family - we are musically challenged although my mother told me recently that a great great uncle was a music academic in Scotland. That, however, is the only musical relative I know of. The K-man's family however is musically gifted - he plays bass, his brother plays guitar, his sister sings and plays sax, his grandmother played the piano in church, his nephew plays drums ... and so on it goes.

Chet Atkins is another musician called Chet - his Chet comes from Chester. And the K-man has a friend in Perth called Chet who is also a musician - in a band called the Early Hours. Seems as though Chet is a musical name - let's hope Chet can live up to his musical heritage ...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Look mum no hands ...

Chet has discovered his feet, which is not surprising, given the size of them! They are miniature versions of my father's feet and are not small at all. Dad has a size 11 foot which was massive in his generation, so I am guessing that Chet's feet will be at least that large if not larger, given that kids seem to be getting bigger with each subsequent generation. Chet is constantly playing with his clodhoppers which can make nappy changes difficult, but seems to amuse him more than a lot of his toys do. He can also put his big toe in his mouth, just.

Other new found skills include reaching out for things, helping you pick him up by lifting his bum in the air (sometimes this isn't so helpful) and occasionally sleeping through the night. He also doesn't seem to collect fluff between his fingers and toes (an early skill) and he generally doesn't vomit which is good. That said he had a little cough-up this morning, I believe these are called 'possets' - one of those words that isn't onomatopoeic at all - it sounds a bit twee for what is essentially a little vomit. Chet can also put his dummy back in his mouth and occasionally chuck it on the floor. And, he can on occasion, roll, although he isn't too sure of this one and seems very surprised when he does it. We are also treated to many smiles and sometimes laughter. He seems to think most things are very amusing, especially anything the K-man does and bursts into smiles and giggles any time the K-man even says the word 'Daddy'.

Seems we have a happy little chappy on our hands which is nice, although it does come as a bit of a shock if he isn't happy for whatever reason. We have had a couple of quite long screaming episodes where I can't quite work out what the problem is after I have fed and changed him - all I can come up with is that it is either teeth or tummy which I suppose it is but it is hard when he can't tell me what is wrong. Fortunately we don't have too many of these episodes.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

We all breathe a sigh of relief

The holiday break is now well and truly over and we have all breathed a sigh of relief. The K-man went back to work today, the Minx is lounging on the outdoor table under the umbrella, Chet is happily playing with his feet in his chair and I feel that I can finally think clearly. The house is not resonating with the sound of the Family Guy on high rotation and the computer is all mine again. The Christmas/New Year period was good but pretty full on - lots of lunches and bbqs with Chet in tow - he was pretty good about being carted around here there and everywhere and didn't disgrace himself ... much. We had high-tea at the Sheraton, lunch at the Drummoyne Sailing Club, bbqs and drinks at friends places as well as a couple of overnight trips away from home. Here is Chet, asleep in his capsule on a friend's kitchen table surrounded by bottles of wine and corn chips - a sign of things to come perhaps?

In retrospect we probably took on too much over the break and the planned 4 days at Mollymook turned into three when we found ourselves in a house with 9 adults, 4 kids and 4 dogs, a highly overstimulated Chet, not much sleep for us or him - it was a recipe for disaster really. Still you don't know until you try and it could all be different next time we take him away. I got in some lovely swims at the beach though. We did try and take Chet swimming in a pool on boxing day but the water was quite cold and as soon as we put his feet in the water he screamed and held his feet as close to his body as he could! So, not wanting to traumatise him I didn't put him in the pool any further. We also tried giving him a cold bath in the backyard on one of the very hot days we had last week - he screamed blue murder and was very upset, even when we put warm water in. He might have inherited his father's dislike of cold water.

The K-man and I even managed a couple of meals out sans Chet. The K-man took me to dinner at Aria as a 'giving birth' treat and what a delightful meal it was. We got the summer tasting menu - K-man with wine, me without - and the sommelier gave me a couple of sneaky glasses of wine anyway. It was all wonderfully light and summery. Chet was looked after by his girlfriends in Surry Hills - they love looking after him and when we dropped him off he was asleep - although not for long as they poked and prodded him until he woke up! He also had some 'pants off' time during which Assy took photos of his nether regions until her mother told her to stop and she went off upstairs to sulk. We also had an anniversary lunch at the Bentley Restaurant and Bar - a very different venue to the one I used to frequent when I first came to Sydney in the mid-90s - then it was pretty grungy and feral, full of hippies, dreadlocks, dogs, flannel shirts and always joints being passed around the pool table. Now it is casual but elegant, with a wide range of wines and tapas on hand. No pool table and no joints either! We had the tasting menu and asked the sommelier to recommend appropriate wines for us; I had a lovely pinot noir which lasted me through the entire meal, the K-man had the pinot and a heavier Spanish red as well as a cognac to finish. All in all very pleasant. Chet was looked by after by friends at home this time and apparently he managed to hold his bottle all by himself - which is a first, although I never seem him drink from a bottle as that always happens when I am out or away from him for some reason.

I managed to get a few things down around the house - re-potting plants, endless washing, sorting out Chet's corner, getting rid of maternity clothes and winter baby clothes and generally enjoying the warm weather. I hung some curtains in the kitchen that I have been meaning to get to for well over a year and enjoyed a gin and tonic most evenings - just after a feed of course. I even read a novel - note just the one. Most summer holidays ever since I can remember I sit down and plough though a novel a day for a couple of weeks - this time I managed only, Vertigo by Amanda Lohrey. And it is a novella. Very good though, beautifully written and sad in parts as well. I also managed a story by David Foster Wallace - I felt the need to look into his writing after his untimely death last year. His story, A supposedly fun thing I'll never do again about a week long all-expenses paid trip on a luxury cruise, funded by Harper's Magazine was laugh out loud funny (I doubt Foster Wallace would have approved of acronyms such as LOL, neither does Hank Moody in Californication but I digress) - very droll and dry and serious at the same time. I hope to finish a few more of his stories this year and perhaps even tackle Infinite Jest - I realise that may be a little ambitious with a small baby but who knows?

Now we can look forward to settling into a routine of sorts - mothers group, walking, yoga, lunches and trips to the library - I think a quiet life for a little while will be good for all of us.
Related Posts with Thumbnails