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.

Maternity leave – the six month review

The six month review

When I was still pregnant and thinking about being on leave I made some plans. Not plans about being a mother but rather plans for what I would do. Emphasis on the I.

Like any chance to change the way you do things that has a lead in time, I planned some of the things I wanted to do and achieve during this life changing experience. Other than have my life changed, of course.

Here’s the review of the plans and how I am progressing

1. Starting at the National Gallery and spiraling out, see the galleries of Canberra – all of them.

Total number of gallery visits – 3. Number of galleries visited – 2. Hmmm. I did however experience the great masters from the Musée d’Orsay with Robert and without queuing.

2. Try not to eat like it’s going out of style so I can go back to work looking better than when I got pregnant.

Afternoon tea anyone? Toast in the middle of the night anyone? Oh look my fridge has six (count them) types of cheese in it as we speak.

3. Keep the house tidy and really get stuck into the garden

Tidy house worked for a while till my arm started to hurt. So it is tidy but not exactly clean. I am allowed to do a bit of fey dusting and wiping. Garden? Well I planted some rocket and spinach and I planted out two lots of flower seedlings for our seasonal display. But as for a huge vegetable garden – well not really. I did however sort out the compost.

4. No daytime television

Well in my defense – Parliamentary Question Time and In the night garden – 5-30 to 6pm, a blissful thirty minutes of happy calm and distracted infant.

5. Catch up on the New Yorkers and then stay caught up

See entry on this point ‘The New Yorkers are piling up’ with the pile piling up. It’s still piling up.

6. Walk everyday


7. Cook

Moderate success. I have made several batches of biscuits for mothers’ group, a few cakes, lots of middle of road dinner and even some good ones.

8. Write

I am. Slowly.

There were more crazy plans and expectations. Mothering is a tremendous freedom from the usual constraints of one’s life. It is coupled with meeting the demands of someone whose needs know no temporal, physical, emotional or mental bounds or limits. Everyday I try to do my best.

Of course I have an email address

@me baby

After Benedict was born Robert and I composed a nice email to send around complete with photos. Of course before we did this – have Benedict I mean – we should have made a consolidated list. We didn’t. So we scrambled around trying in our ‘we just had a baby’ fog to remember everyone and their addresses. While we were doing all this, I set up Robert’s new email account. At the same time we made one for Benedict. It’s important as a 21st century baby to be connected.  It is equally important too that you get the address on gmail you want – helps if you were an early invitee like me or if you have an unusual name. So you can email Benedict anytime you like.

Sitting, sitting, sitting

Sitting pretty

Benedict has been good at sitting since he turned four months but now he can sit and sit for up to half an hour. Steady and completely relaxed he just observes and passed his toys from hand to hand or hand to mouth. Eventually his ideas will overreach his capacity and he will gently lean to one side and then move onto his hands and knees.

Benedict’s first cold

We are laid low this week. Benedict succumbed to his first cold on Friday and has been a snotty snuffly little baby since. Apart from Friday night which was rough on Robert – who rocked and shushed a lot while I gratefully slept on – Benedict has been mostly cheerful!

Now of course I have the cold. Grrrr. I managed a sleep today after a round of yoga nidra – I did the short one and then didn’t turn off the CD – by the middle of the long one I was sound asleep. I woke 2 hours later to an awake baby lying quietly in his bed gazing at his new wall freeze and smiling. Sweet!

Wide eyed boy

Just cleaned pumpkin off a toy soldier … and other phrases I never thought I’d write

I have learned the past five months to try not to lose my sense of humour. Babies and chaos and mayhem go together.

Reporting for duty

It is important to just put on a clean shirt and solider on! (Of course, that is if you can find a clean shirt.) So while I sponged pumpkin puree off a soft toy soldier, I thought about how I once had a clean life. With Sylvie and I together there was hardly any mess and my cleaner in Sydney would occasionally run out of things to do. Now of course there is mess everywhere, in spite of my efforts to keep the place tidy, if not clean. I remembered also that there were nights at home in Sydney in my clean house with my neat cat, when there was no one there to laugh at my jokes, no one to tease me or share my nice wine. There were times when I needed help and there wasn’t any.

Now of course, I have help, wine and laughter. As well as a son. And pumpkiny toy soldiers.