Friday, February 29, 2008

Dropping like flies

Ben is finally recovering today. He had to go to school yesterday because he was going to his friends place to play in the afternoon. It nearly did him in. When I went to pick him up he could no longer speak and was only just able to drag himself up the hill home. He still sounds pretty croaky.

Charlie has a cough and sounds very chesty, but has so far stubbornly refused to become croupy. Of course. Now I am prepared, he starts getting different illnesses.

Crash has a stomach bug that had laid him out all day.

Thank the gods Elissa has so far stayed well. UPDATE: Not so much, she's got a cold now...

I have been feeling nauseous, which I am denying by eating as much as is humanly possible. I feel like I've lived everyone else's illnesses, I don't need one of my own.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Please excuse me while I do a victory dance

It's been 4 and a half weeks since I started Operation Bedtime. We now have a baby who goes to sleep without fuss immediately after her 7:30pm feed. She sleeps till after 7am. She will be 4 months next Wednesday. I am so lucky and so chuffed. Not to mention forever indebted to Angelo Badalamenti, who's CD must have been played literally thousands of times in my house and lulled my kids off to sleep over and over. I cannot overestimate the value of clear routine, at least with my kids. What is the emoticon for ?

Ain't it always the way?

I got so annoyed by the school meeting last night, I kept Ben at home today. :)

At 2am he came in with a "nasty cough", otherwise known as croup. He wasn't so bad that he needed adrenaline, but despite having TWO steroids in the cupboard, I only had the dosage for Charlie, so off to the hospital we went. They gave him the Prednisone and we went down to paeds. We had a "dose 'em up, send 'em home" doctor, which, as it happens, suited me nicely. We were sent home about 4am. Ben was a little better, but not entirely well yet. As we walked out the door the thunderstorm started and I had to carry my >22kg 5 yr old to the car.

Of course, by the time we got home, the steroids had kicked in nicely and Ben was wide awake. I take back everything I have ever said about the insanity of Nick Jr running all night. I set him up on the lounge with his pillow and a blanket and he was happy for me to go to bed. I checked on him an hour later, since I wasn't really sleeping. By that stage he was really looking clearly better so I went back to sleep and really slept. The next time I saw daylight was 7:45am and by then Ben had made himself breakfast. I love independence!

Right now he is playing Crash Team Racing with his father looking very well indeed!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Not the most riveting evening

We organised for Nerida to look after the kids so we could both go to the information night at the school. For some reason I had the impression this would be interesting and useful.

It was a bizarre combination of being lectured about following school rules, and listening to a passionate defence of their decision to create to K/1 classes as a result of too many kindy kids for one class. It was not terribly informative, and having to breastfeed sitting in a kindy chair didn't really enhance the experience.

There was no discussion of parent helpers, that was just in a note we took home. I could have got that without using babysitter points.

Ben's teacher seems nice enough. I shan't be making any efforts to make sure both of us get to another one.

The defensiveness over the K/1 composites was unsettling. They defended it to the point of me starting to wonder if it was going to be a major problem. Up until this evening, I was only annoyed that they had managed to move all the kids Ben knew into the other class. Well, not quite all, he is sitting next to one kid whose name he had mentioned previously. I'm still pretty confident that it will be fine, but Crash is less convinced. I presume some parents got very stroppy.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

I'm a Bad Mother - again

Actually, as Crash pointed out, we are Bad Parents. We went on a picnic today to Federal Park in Annandale. Apart from Charlie being fairly horrid, especially in the first half of the exercise, and Ben not quite living up to our responsibility expectations, it was quite a pleasant afternoon - spent with Toni & Andrew and their girls.

However, every single one of us got sunburnt. Despite my having insisted on the boys sunscreening up before we left the house, and getting Charlie into a hat for the first time in about 2 years. We failed to reapply on arrival - which was made doubly bad by the fact that Ben insists on doing his own sunscreen, so many bits were missed. And we failed to put any on Elissa. She was in shade all day, but it's not like I don't know that's not enough. One of the worst burns I've had was in the Brewongle Stand at the cricket. We also failed to put any on most of ourselves. Sheesh. I feel guilty and stupid. Elissa's face is burnt. Try looking at a 3 month old with a burnt face and not feeling like DOCS should be knocking on your door. Ben's worst bits are similarly accusing. *sigh*

Saturday, February 23, 2008

I remember, I am an adult too.

Last night we found some time and emotional energy to behave like a couple. Enjoy some time together, actually talk - that sort of thing. Three and a half months into kid number 3, it's nice to remember we have a grown up relationship independent of the children.

Of course, kid #3 had to spoil the great night by waking at 5am expecting to be fed. After 5 nights in a row of sleeping through, I was getting my hopes up of no turning back. Oh well, hopefully it will be a one off.

Bedtimes are still slowly improving, only 2 trips up the stairs to calm her last night, and final sleep was achieved with her calming herself. I don't know what it is about me/my kids that results in crying being an essential part of bedtime for a few months. It feels almost like they need it to wind down from the day, but I know that other children can go to sleep without crying. Anyhoo, it works so we'll stick with it.

Right now I have about 4 loads of washing to do, plus other stuff and no motivation to do it. Best get off my butt...

Friday, February 22, 2008

New school hat

Ben found a gift from Shirao-san, a colleague and friend in Tokyo, to Crash. He put it on this morning. I think we should suggest it as an alternative to the normal school hat.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Why aren't the crosses on hot cross buns tasty?

Who knew I had ugly underarms?

I support the concept behind the Campaign for Real Beauty that Dove advertise with, but one has to question their commitment to women's self esteem when they run an ad campaign for deodorant that claims to leave your underarms fit to be seen when wearing a singlet top. It has never occurred to me before that my underarms might have unacceptable skin. I mean, the hair I knew about, but I thought the skin was fine!

I have been thinking about body image a lot lately, trying to work out how to steer my daughter through the minefield when she is older. As with charity, it starts at home, and I have been actively trying to adjust my attitude. I'm trying to look in the mirror and look for the good stuff instead of the bad. I am also trying to change the way I look at other women. If I notice someone who I think doesn't look so good, I've started looking at what's wrong with the clothes, because they are clearly the problem. This leads to looking for what the assets are that are not being sufficiently justified by the naughty clothes and slowly starts to recondition my mind to look for beauty instead of flaws in everyone.

It's hardly a surprise that clothes that fit and flatter are hard to find, even if someone attempted to fit "real women", how would they achieve this? We are a wild and varied lot, how can we expect any more than 5-10% of clothes to look any good on any one person? I bemoan the massive variety of actual size in any given label size, but if this variety didn't exist, we really couldn't find clothes for most people. This hypocrisy in my whinging has only just occurred to me. Duh!

And then I see the news today, about a woman who may well have killed her children and attempted to kill herself, and I think, why I am I worried about body image?

PS 3 nights in a row of sleeping through! Woo hoo!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Yummy yummy yummy

We've started playing with flavours other than breast milk. We've had two taste sensations so far - avocado last week and banana this morning. It's rather amusing. The first taste is met with a blank stare. The next offering, however, is met with open mouth and head thrown forward. Much "um yum yum"ing ensues. But it's a secret. Don't tell the clinic Nazis. Nothing other than breast milk (or formula if you must) should pass your child's lips before 6 months. There are no differences in babies' readiness for new foods.

I'm not attempting nutrition or anything. I might venture as far as having a little something for her to play with at our dinner time each night to keep her amused while we eat.

Other newly acquired ways of amusing Elissa include blowing raspberries on her feet. This also amuses Mum, because there is apparently a large neural distance between feet and conscious brain. So we have raspberry, long pause, huge belly laugh. Repeat.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Just about sorted

It's been nearly 3 weeks since we started operation bedtime and the light is visible. Plan A was not too much of a success in terms of bedtime, but what it did achieve was a daytime routine almost instantaneously. She went smoothly from 6ish feeds a day to 5, 4 hourly between 7:30am and 7:30pm plus one overnight.

She got a bit sick the second week which confused the whole thing. I tried a few other bits and bobs without much success. Then Tuesday this week, I tried "let her cry". Just a standard controlled crying technique, letting her cry for between a couple of minutes and 10 minutes and then reinserting the dummy, and maybe some other comforting if it seems sensible. This was a great success. She goes to sleep on her back, no rolling over. The time to total sleep is still a little random, but the average is much less.

And then the really amazing thing happened. She has started sleeping through! 3 nights out of 4 up to today. 4 feeds total in a day. I don't suppose I am free of night feeds entirely yet, but it is clearly on its way.

Something truly magical happens when 3 months of age and routines collide. And all this good stuff started from the simple act of fixing the last feed of the day at 7:30pm. It's all good.

Friday, February 15, 2008


I am sitting here waiting for a train and sorting through the photos on my phone - many are of nothing, having been taken by the kids - when what pops up but this gem? Somehow Ben's denial that he has been sneaking lollies before we get up in the morning is less plausible when he leaves photographic evidence lying around!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


I didn't watch the apology this morning (I didn't remember the library bag for school, what hope did Kevin Rudd have?) but I watched some of the post-apology activities. I then read this letter written by Wilson Tuckey to remind us all that the nation is not universally behind this action.

Apart from amazement that people like Tuckey even still exist, let alone represent people democratically, a few things seem self evident to me at this point. A process for compensation that leaves the courts out of it seems essential. The excessive cost of dragging each application through court benefits no-one but the legal profession, and seriously, they aren't desperate for the extra cash. And by compensation, I mean both for the stolen generations and for the stolen wages. I know there has been some movement in this direction in some states but it needs to be unified and well directed. It will all end up cheaper for everyone in the end if it is done this way.

The other point that comes to mind is the other children taken from their parents - those from overseas as well as those taken for similar reasons to the aborigines from white parents. A good friend of my father-in-law's was taken from her mother and separated from her siblings and dragged up through foster care. I believe her mother had a mental illness. I completely acknowledge there was in many places a qualitative difference between the Aboriginal children taken and these, not least because I don't believe that all the people responsible for Aboriginal stolen children even believed they were doing right thing. There is no doubt it was used, in places, as a method of oppression. However, there remains an injustice to those others. WA has acknowledged that in its steps towards reparations. And more importantly, it is not merely an historical issue. The question of when, why and how authorities should remove children from their parents is raised every time another child suffers at the hands of their guardians.

So it seems to me that all of these people who were taken from their families, for good reasons and bad, need to be heard. We need not only to apologise for the mistakes of the past, but we need to learn from them too. We also need to wade through all the failures and find the successes. There were people who did benefit from all that mess. We don't diminish the suffering of the disasters by acknowledging the successes, or even partial successes.

There can be no doubt that, sadly, some kids still need to be taken from their parents. We do this badly, we need to work out how to minimise the pain deriving from these terrible circumstances. And I am prepared to bet serious money that long term foster care does not feature in such a solution. Nor,of course, do most of the horrific scenarios that many indigenous people suffered. And perhaps acknowledging these people as a gold mine of invaluable experience and instruction might go some small way to rebuilding the self esteem of a people.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

No Pina Coladas, though

I have decided that I really want to make sure that Ben walks at least 5 of the 10 trips to and from school each week. The rain last week meant we only managed 4, so I am aiming for 6 this week. We walked both ways yesterday, but other commitments required a lift this morning. So this afternoon I decided that the rain would hold off long enough. Not so much. It started to bucket down about 5 minutes before the bell rang. It stopped about 5 minutes after we got home. Every part of both of us was saturated. I can assure you that breastfeeding pads really are super absorbent.

We actually had a lot of fun walking home. We splashed in puddles, we compared soggy bits and when we got home there were warm showers all round. I'm not sure the beagle appreciated the moment though.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Am I really the full quid?

Blue milk recently had a very sensible discussion about research into "baby brain", discussing various political implications of this kind of research. There was a lot of indignation at the suggestion that there is something "wrong" with the brains of pregnant and post-partem women, which I don't feel is entirely misplaced.

However, I have to ask myself, is my brain really working correctly when, after being greeted this morning with 2 farts and spit bubbles, I went all warm and runny inside and said "Hello beautiful"? I mean really.

A little more pondering on the serious side of this, though, has made me think of two aspects that blue milk's discussion didn't mention (at least the last time I looked). Firstly, in favour of such research, I suspect many women find comfort in the fact that there is a very real effect on their brain, it isn't their imagination. It's not just an emotional defect or some such. I feel better that there is a reason my near perfect conversation recall has degenerated to be patchy, and occasionally even inaccurate. Before I had kids, I never misremembered a conversation. I might have forgotten it completely, but if I remembered it, I remembered it verbatim. Now I misremember them. A terrible loss. I *like* having a scientific reason for that.

On the other hand, in the interest of defending baby brained women every where, my memory has only degenerated to be about the same or slightly better than most men I know. In the "things women generally do better" category, memory is well and truly a front runner. It is very important this kind of study is understood to be comparing women with their previous selves, and not with the rest of the population. We don't become inferior to men, just slightly less superior. :)

To change the subject completely, last night we had a truly fantastic dinner. Not measured by the superiority of the food, but by family success metrics. We had kebabs made with pork and pineapple, with capsicum added for me, and capsicum and mushroom added for Crash. A marinade based on spare rib sauce provided the flavour. A very, very basic salad accompanied. Ben ate absolutely everything, including FOUR kebabs. Charlie cheerfully ate two kebabs, ALL his carrot and corn and (drum roll please) a piece of cucumber! There were choruses of "Yummy dinner" throughout. It was all healthy, and even Elissa sat (read slouched) in her high chair allowing 2 handed eating on my part. Wow. Good times.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The curse of SIDS

You may have noticed that the photo with the pink cushion shows my 3 month old sleeping on her tummy. She is, without doubt, a natural tummy sleeper. So was my eldest child. The middle one had no truck with occasional tummy time, let alone any desire to sleep that way.

I have been lamenting the need for Elissa to sleep on her back, in consideration of SIDS, to most anyone who will listen, because it is the sole cause of any issues we have with her at the moment. If I could leave her to sleep on her tummy, she would take moments to settle and would no doubt be in her bed for all daytime sleeps too.

What has been interesting is the responses I get. Some clearly think I am a Bad Mother for ever letting her lie on her tummy, some sympathise, some had babies like my middle one and so the issue never came up, and some recommend, or allude to, rebellion.

My obstetrician asked if I was one of the "rebel mothers" who put their babies to sleep on their tummies. I could not quite tell from her tone what her opinion was of these mothers, it could have gone either way. Others have told me about a growing number of mothers who disregard the SIDS advice, mostly in an approving sort of way. Since the risk is small, it is argued, and babies like Elissa are definitely more comfortable on their tummies, we should just let them sleep that way. They make it sound almost like I am torturing my child for my own peace of mind. OK, possibly a little overly emotive, but that seems to be the vague idea. After all, I am reminded, there are no guarantees.

The last person who said this to me is someone who's opinion I respect, especially as regards medical-type things with kids. And so I gave it due consideration after the conversation. I figure the only way I can validly address it is to translate it to myself. The base rate of SIDS (without following the guidelines) is about 1 in 500, following the guidelines reduces it to about 1 in 1200. Boys are about one and a half times more likely than girls to succumb, but I am not factoring that in. So, imagine a doctor said to me that I had those odds of dying if I continue to sleep in my preferred position for the next 12 months, or I could more than halve those odds by sleeping in a more uncomfortable position. I am pretty sure I would do what it took to survive the 12 months of uncomfortable sleep.

So I don't find myself agreeing with the "rebel mothers" on this point. At the same time, I still wish someone could wave a magic wand and divine which kids are at risk so all the others could sleep in their preferred position without fear. Looking at the realities though, the chances of this ever being possible are vanishingly small.

Friday, February 08, 2008

The creation of an addiction?

This was taken last night, but for some reason it wasn't working last night....

Plan A was not so successful, so I tried a few other things. I tried settling in my arms - no dice, it took longer. I tried palming it off to dad - very successful, it took him much less time. He then admitted he had settled her first on the pink cushion she sleeps on downstairs during the day. So I brought the pink cushion upstairs and put it in her bed. Much faster initial settling. Much, much faster. It still took a while until she was able to be rolled over, but she was much lower maintenance on the way.

So am I creating a pink cushion addiction?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

This is a test...

I am attempting mobile blogging and taking the opportunity to demonstrate the array of vessels and towels we use to control the waterfall in our dining room. Anyone know a good water proofer?

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

46 Things you probably didn't need to know about me

Courtesy of Mim....

1. Were you named after anyone?
Not after as such, but the idea came from my Mum's friend. My father chose it, thereby saving me from Kylie.
2. When was the last time you cried?
Last night, not enough sleep, screaming bub.
3. Do you like your handwriting?
It was passable pre-uni, now it takes real effort to make it neat, but it doesn't bother me.
4. What is your favourite lunch meat?
Anything that isn't fake chicken meat. Really... even devon.
5. Do you have kids?
3, including a baby.
6. If you were another person would you be friends with you?
Hmmm, I'm drawn to arrogance so I might.
7. Do you use sarcasm a lot?
Oh no never.
8. Do you still have your tonsils?
9. Would you bungee jump?
Probably not, but never say never.
10. What is your favourite cereal?
Coco Pops for flavour, Fibre Plus for actual food.
11. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off?
12. Do you think you are strong?
Not as strong as I look I suspect.
13. What is your favourite icecream?
Nutty ones
14. What is the first thing you notice about people?
I'm not actually sure.
15. Red or pink?
16. What is the thing that you like least about yourself?
Knowing what I need to do, but not actually doing it - habitually
17. Who do you miss the most?
My dad.
19. What colour pants and shoes are you wearing?
Denim and none.
20. Have you ever re-gifted?
Yes, and would have more often if the opportunity had arisen.
21. What are you listening to right now?
A pre-teen heavy metal band. Honestly. Yes, they are bad.
22. If you were a crayon what colour would you be?
I would want to be indigo, but I'd probably be mousey brown.
23. Favourite smells?
Mango, vanilla, rainforest and all the sweet spices.
24. Who was the last person you talked to on the phone?
25. Do you like the person who sent this to you?
Yes, but it was more grabbed than sent. :)
26. Favourite sports to watch?
Cricket (but I need to be doing something else as well), rugby and selected olympic type things (gymnastics, ice skating etc)
27. Hair colour?
Probably mousey brown, possibly grey, but maintained dark red/brown
28. Eye colour?
Dark brown
29. Do you wear contacts?
No, my eyes suck, but glasses don't help (apparently I will be wearing them soon enough though)
30. Favourite food?
I always tell my kids seafood, but the list is long and must include chocolate and fruit and....
31. Scary movies or happy endings?
Scary movies with happy endings.
32. Last movie you watched?
MIB II. Go figure.
33. What colour shirt are you wearing?
34. Summer or winter?
35. Hugs or kisses?
36. Favourite dessert?
Something involving pastry, chocolate and fruit.
39. What book are you reading now?
Great Expectations
40. What is on your mousepad?
I don't have one
41. What did you watch on tv last night?
Kiwi cop shows
42. Favourite sound?
Happy music or the absence of crying.
43. Rolling Stones or Beatles?
44. What is the furthest you have been from home?
England, as the crow flies, Israel for journey time, Japan for "otherness".
45. Do you have a special talent?
Not so as I've noticed.
46. Where born?
Balmain in Sydney.

Go on, have a go. I got slightly annoyed doing it finding that Mim had already typed my answers on several, but it's ok, there were enough opposites to remind me that I am not merely a Xerox. :)

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Tallying up time

I hate an indecisive result. 9:10pm she was in bed tonight, but I started a little early, so no progress. So my original theory was I would try for a week and change tack if I saw no progress. I can't say I have seen no progress, but really it's only a half hour average improvement. I am still looking at 45 minutes to an hour of settling. Not great. So now what?

I'm prepared to say it hasn't been a great success, but I'm not sure what to try. Backtrack to settling in my arms (not completely ridiculous, she is still not quite 3 months), attempt the next level and let her cry for 10 minutes or so, or carry on as I am for a little longer? Why don't babies come with a manual? I suppose if they did it would be written in Chinglish... Or they would come with a help desk manned by Bigpond staff...

This is where I should get some advice. Whichever I get least annoyed by is clearly what I want to try. :) That's how child raising advice works isn't it?

Oh, and the kid wrangling in the rain was made just that much more enjoyable by finding a flood in the garage and cellar on the way to the car....

Bit by bit

We achieved sleep by 9:20pm last night, but since we were running late, that was a better result than it sounds. Not to mention that she then slept through until 7:20am this morning! Not that I'm expecting that to become routine right now, but I'm happy to take the sleep as it comes!

Right now I am sitting next to an open window smelling the rain as it pours down. It is very pleasant really, or it would be if I didn't have to load three kids into the car in it to go out for lunch a little later... I hope Warragamba is seeing some of this.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Two steps forward, one back

Last night she fought sleep spectacularly, and didn't go down until 9:40pm. Very annoying... We'll see how tonight goes.

We went to a drenching today... or was it a birthday party? It was in a park, fortunately one with a large undercover eating area. Sadly the 2 year old just couldn't see the attraction in staying underneath said cover. I'd have photos, but I failed camera 101 and nothing was in focus. Bugger.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Day 4

Daddy did last night's bed time, and although he didn't specifically note the time she was officially sleeping on her back, it was definitely before 9pm! It looks like we might be making real progress!

School is not an overwhelming success, but neither is it a disaster. I think that's a pretty good outcome for the first day. We have 13 years to develop the mandatory school dislike. :)