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Unexpected moments of bliss in sickness

Everyone is sick. All the mamas and all the bubbas. The Tuesday morning mothers’ group only had five mums and bubs. The babies are snotty and grizzly. It’s Canberra. The weather is on the turn and the wind is blowing.

While we all struggled through the week, on Friday there was a little golden moment of peace and bliss. In the mid morning, Benedict fell asleep on my lap. He hasn’t fallen asleep deeply in my arms since he was a tiny tiny boy. He is now too big to fit neatly but his languorous limbs fall gently over my lap and on to the chair. His little face was pressed into my chest and he slept peacefully for a while. His rhythmic breathing and steadily beating heart were soothing to me as well. I had plenty of time to study his outrageously long eyelashes and sweet features.

The surprise was that he did it twice. On Saturday it was an hour and a half. Luckily I was prepared with blankey and book. Glorious to comfort your child so completely just by lying still.

How to go for coffee

Step one – invite three mamas and bubbas.
Step two – take two prams and one babe in arms
Step three – sit at a small table
Step four – swap babies and talk animatedly
Step five – look away when the coffees arrive at the too small table in reach of the baby boy.

Keeping on keeping on – Jenn this one is for you!

I promised to blog today. Benedict woke up at 1-30am and then again at 5am. I went in a 5am to find him face down and unable to get himself right side up again. After a feed and a cuddle with mama the day officially started at 06-30.

I took the chance at 08-30 to have another thirty minutes sleep and not have a shower. I knew what this would mean. To have a shower with an awake baby is not easy. I set up a great activity centre in the hall – closed all the doors. Benedict was sitting in the midst of his fun filled hall and I went into the shower. I was all wet when the little hand appeared on the tiles – having crawled in to find me he discovered someone had locked his mama in a glass box and turned on the water! For the next two minutes I tried to have a shower while he wailed and banged on the door. Great! That 30 minutes of sleep though – still worth it.

Now I have been home alone solo-parenting for 5 days. I am tired. My throat is scratchy. I have taken a number of shortcuts. I have stopped changing the night singlet for an under onesie in the day time. One less piece of washing. I haven’t wiped the highchair after every single meal. I left Benedict in the car outside the coffee shop while I got my coffee. (He was in plain sight all the time and the windows were down. He was wide awake and able to scream his lungs out if necessary.) He didn’t even stop smiling.

I had a long chat with the other mums at mothers’ group about our various concerns. To some extent we are all up against it. Even now. Even though some of the babies are nearly 9 months. We are all still learning. Some of us are getting dangerously small amounts of sleep. But we have to keep going.

My challenge at the moment is to keep on keeping on. Or as they say in England – Keep Calm and Carry On.

Grandparental tour … rescuing ducks

Having safely arrived in Coffs Harbour and spent the night, the trip story has to wait, we were feeling good and about to go visiting our friends.

I had organised everyone, dressed Benedict and was heading out to the front gate to get into the car when I heard car horns and shouting, first from my mother and then from some men – in French.

I opened the gate and there was a line of traffic at a standstill, my mother waving her arms and two Senegalese refugees who live opposite shouting and gesticulating on the road. Oh and the four ducks that were attempting to cross High Street in the five minutes that is peak hour in Coffs. The panicked ducks were attempting to waddle across the road and being herded this way and that by the confused and amused Senegalese. I was holding Benedict in my arms who watched fascinated while three adults stood in the road and waved their arms.

Eventually the drake and two of the females made it to our side of the street. One remaining female was stranded and was waddling up and down trying to work out what to do. The men helped mum herd the three ducks into the property next to ours where they made it safely into the backyard under the mango tree and then took off with a frenzy of flapping and quacking. This prompted the remaining duck to panic and run back on to the road. She was shooed across and then she too took off into the sky.

The Senegalese were laughing and shouting Avez-vous voir? Voir les canards? and probably Qui sont ces fous femmes? but I can’t be sure of that!

Robert appeared when all the shouting and gesticulating was over and mum excitedly described the scene. What sort of ducks, he asked. What colour was the drake? Brown ducks and the drake had a beautiful blue neck she replied. Ah, Robert said. Wood ducks. And a mallard drake – they are introduced you are supposed to shoot them on sight! Apparently the mallard drakes interbreed with the wood ducks and pollute the wild gene pool.

So somewhere in Coffs a lucky mallard with his stolen harem lives to quack another day.

What I did today

Here’s what I did today.
Got up at 6am – fed Benedict. Made tea. Made Benedict’s breakfast. Put some washing on. Had a shower. Had breakfast, and gave Benedict his breakfast. Hung out washing. Made the bed. Fed Benedict. Encouraged Benedict to have a sleep. Made some baby food. Did some more washing. Cleaned the mantel piece above the stove and reorganised. Wrote some emails. Unpacked another bag from our trip. Downloaded photos to phone. Hung out some more washing. Dressed Benedict. Drove to mothers’ group. Drove past and got take away coffee and then went back. Had a nice sing along and chat. Met the plumber at 12noon and discussed the leaking shower. Prepared Benedict’s lunch and gave it to him. Put him to bed. Read my emails. Ate some lunch. Talked to Robert. Folded washing and stuffed nappies. Prepared the beef casserole for dinner. Answered the door to the handyman who came to fix the backdoor. Washed up. Played with Benedict. Went to collect the cat from the cattery. Played with Benedict and folded yet more washing. Encouraged Benedict to have another sleep. Tidied up. Did more washing. Read some emails. Fed Benedict. Took washing off the line. Prepared Benedict’s dinner. Fed him. Played with him. Put away his clean clothes. Finished preparing the dinner. Hung out some more washing. Put Benedict to bed after his bath and feed. Ate dinner.  Caught up on twitter. Made tea. Read some of a magazine. Put on more washing.

Grandparental tour … first pictures

Benedict sees the sea for the first time

It's cold on the beach



A cuddle with mama is perfect after a swim

The Great Grandparental Tour

Robert and I have no family in Canberra. Indeed all our family is scattered like confetti in three Australian states and two continents. Tomorrow we leave Canberra for a tour of the grandparents. First to the Blue Mountains to see Robert’s parents and then north to Coffs Harbour to see my mother. My sister is bringing her kids (who will be having a day off school – woo hoo) to see their little cousin. I can only imagine the wild excitement in their house when that is announced.

Here is my first go at packing for Benedict.

How many clothes could one small child need

Somehow this pile seems at once too much and not enough!

At least, I console myself, there are shops and washing machines in both places so we should be ok. I didn’t take a photo of the nappies and the food, rusks, baby cereal because it was too appalling!

Early adopter

People say that our children will save the world and un-do or at least work out how to survive the mess created by the baby boomers. Well Benedict is showing early promise with a love of the recycling. Here he is sorting paper from plastic!

(Note the very earnest packet of organic baby cereal!)

Recycling early adopter

Where’s the baby? Or operation get the cat

Unlike ‘where’s the baby?’ where you wake up hallucinating that you’ve lost the baby, dropped the baby, squashed the baby or worse, where’s the baby version two, is when you put the baby somewhere and then return to the same spot and the baby isn’t there! Cue hysterical shouting ‘where’s the baby?’

In your absence the baby has flicked over and rolled or commando crawled to behind the couch – out of plain sight. It is enough to give you a serious heart attack the first and second time. By the third time you know that you better first of all locate the cat because wherever she is, the baby has surely followed.

Benedict now is focused on ‘operation get the cat’ pretty much from the moment he lays eyes on Sylvie in the morning til he goes to bed. I’m sure he sits in the car seat wondering where she can be hiding.

Sylvie will be the reason that Benedict started to crawl so soon – he is absolutely determined to get her and grab hold of a handful of fur and skin! Unfortunately, Sylvie, being a cat, is just as curious about Benedict and it seems is taunting him. She sits just barely out of his reach and then slowly creeps away from him as he lunges toward her. She sits on the arm of the chair where he is sitting on my lap. She sits on the outer limit of his playmat – just out of his immediate reach.

We all know where this will end. Indeed I know better than most. I bear the scars to this day from our enormous ginger tom Orlando from the time I hit him with the bannister brush age three. After the cat scratched me, my mother whacked me for whacking the cat! Far out it is complicated. Sylvie, of course, views Benedict as an interloper who in vying for my affection, for my lap and my free time. She insists on asking to be let in and let out and in and out about 32 times a morning as punishment for my divided attention.

If she doesn’t get her way he climbs the fly screen outside the kitchen and clings there mewing piteously – until I let her in again, for the 57th time that day. Benedict employs a much more direct method. Having failed, usually, to get the cat, he just cries until I come and rescue him from behind the couch or under the table or wherever Sylvie has led him. It is the beginning of a long long relationship.

Lunch with my friends

Benedict is slowly getting the hang of eating from a spoon. While he has always liked going out for lunch, at first he found it all a bit exhausting and slept through many fine lunch dates with our friends.

Yesterday he started to become involved. He sat at the table and had some puree chicken from a spoon while we waited for our dates. But the highlight of the lunch was when Sam turned up. He turned to her, opened his arms and leapt forward. Benedict now recognises familiar people and even ones he hasn’t seen for a while. Beaming smiles all round.

Dear Daddy

19/07/2010 12:08pm

Dear daddy. I have TWO teeth. Love Benedict.

19/07/2010 1:24pm

Dear Benedict. You are a very clever little boy.
Daddy is very proud of you.

19/07/2010 1:25pm

Dear Daddy.
I am chewing on the activity cube mummy gave me to celebrate.
Mummy keeps clicking her tongue at me. I just smile.
Love Benedict

19/07/2010 1:27pm

Dear Benedict. Mummy can’t help clicking her tongue, just keep smiling.

19/07/2010 1:36

Dear Daddy.
I thought maybe she was cross but she’s laughing.
I will be pleased when you can help me work it out.
My mummy I mean.

19/07/2010 1:45pm

Dear Benedict, your mummy is a woman, I’ll tell you about them later.
You mustn’t try to work her out, it will just make your head hurt.
Do you want to watch the rugby this Saturday?

19/07/2010 1:48pm

Dear Daddy. What’s rugby?

19/07/2010 1:56pm

Dear Benedict, rugby is what we do when mummy is not around.

Orange food – I like it but only if I can feed myself

Orange is my least favourite colour of all time. I can’t stand it. I will reject items that are orange just because of the colour. Sets of multicoloured interlocking plastic rings designed to hold toys on to the pram have the orange rings removed and discarded. That’s how much I hate orange.

Benedict quite likes orange things. Orange stacking ring from the set is his favourite. The orange one of the stacking bath toys is of course, his favourite. Mostly this doesn’t matter.

Benedict's new chair

The new phase of eating is going well. Benedict is enjoying a range of food, baby porridge, farex, apple puree, pear puree, pumpkin, sweet potato, carrots. Lots and lots of orange vegetables. It seems most things that puree well are orange. Even commercial baby food is predominantly orange.

Orange things are nutritious. No doubt. Some orange food is delicious. But an orange food is very very difficult to get out of fabric. At the beginning of the new phase of eating Benedict was happy just to open his mouth and let the food come in. Then he decided one day last week that he would only eat if he could hold the spoon. When I say hold I mean have complete control of the eating experience.

This new-found independence is a fantastic accomplishment. A sign of a strong mind. It also means what last week took 15 minutes now takes up to 30. It also results in a thin film of orange over every surface Benedict’s hands come into contact with. This thin film covers him: his hands, his face, his hair, his bib, his clothes, the face washer, my hands, sometimes my hair, the chair and the table. That’s a lot of orange everywhere! And a lot of washing and soaking of orange food stained clothes.