Thursday, December 29, 2005

See the little fishies

I went to every New Age shop in town, as well as several music shops; not a single white noise CD could I find. There were a couple of sleep aid CDs, but these were aimed at adults and were full of tinny orchestral music and Barry White sound-a-likes.

However, I did find Fisher Price Ocean Wonders Aquarium, and at 20% off, too.

For the last week, it's been taking us up to four hours to settle Baby down for the night; tonight, we had the aquarium installed on the side of her cot and it was a matter of going back there every 5-10 minutes to turn on the music and light show.

Okay, so it's been one and a half hours now, and she's still pissed off that we've left her by herself to sleep; but at least she quietens down for a few minutes every time I push the button...

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Rocking the groceries

The boy sent me out to the supermarket this afternoon, while he stayed home and tried multiple times to put Baby down for a nap (he failed, but not through any lack of skill on his part - he's actually way better at settling her than I am - but because Baby is having an exceptionally wide awake weekend).

Although my shopping list was pretty short, I chose to push a big trolley around instead of lugging a basket.

Every time I stopped in an aisle to look for an item, I found myself unconsciously rocking it backwards and forwards, as if to keep the bag of apples asleep.

In search of white noise

I've read that playing white noise in the background can help a person sleep better, and it's been suggested as an aid to increase the length of Baby's naps. We've already tried having the radio on untuned, but we get this annoying high-pitched frequency in amongst the general hum of static.

So today I had a browse around on the 'Net, in search of some examples of purpose-made white noise. Wow, did you know there's a website devoted to CDs of white noise?

I quite liked the sound of some of the titles on this site; they have Baby's First White Noise, Baby's Vacuum Cleaner, Baby's Electric Fan...

Moving away from the strictly white noise, and more towards the lullaby theme, I also found CDs to calm fretful Christian babies and whiny dogs (that's two separate CDs I'm talking about)!

The boy told me that he finds whale sounds soothing, but I don't think the serenading of humpback whales would put me to sleep, judging by this sample.

Now I'm no New Ager, but the sample I heard from the Raindreaming CD sounds absolutely gorgeous; I'm tempted to search out a copy just for myself.

But for Baby, I think it'll be either rain sounds or waves ; she's heard the sound of rain already so it's nothing new, and the sound of waves lapping at the shore has always worked wonders for my own stress levels.

Oh yeah - has anyone used the Fisher Price Ocean Wonders Aquarium as a sleep aid for their baby, and does it work?

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas Day

I think it's a little weird that the boy is so into Christmas, because he's not Christian. I used enjoy Christmas because of all the parties, but now that I don't get to go to parties, it's all bah humbug to me.

Anyway, the boy says he believes in Christmas because it happens to be Mithras' birthday. I wasn't expecting to hear that the boy worships an ancient Persian deity who just happens to have plenty of similarities to JC, but there you go.

So...that's why the boy likes to give good Christmas presents. Baby's first ever Christmas present was a big and fluffy dragon hand puppet; I think she may have been a little overawed by it (it's almost as big as she is), but it'll probably grow on her.

The boy got a t-shirt with the name of our hometown printed on it. This may not sound cool to you folks who live in tourist-y places like New York or Hollywood. However, in NZ, to wear a t-shirt with our hometown printed on it is like wearing a t-shirt with a picture of Rolf Harris or Hilda Ogden on it. Sort of "so naff it's cool". Anyway, he liked it lots.

And me, well I'd asked for a little ghetto-blaster; one of those small, cheap, compact ones. I really only wanted one because I wanted to try playing white noise in the bedroom while Baby takes her naps. What I got was this sexy wee thing. We tried it at Baby's very next nap, but unfortunately it was tuned to the same frequency as the taxis so it didn't quite work that time...

Baby's present to us was oodles of awake time; this was bad because she's hardly napped at all and it's starting to show; but it was also nice because she gave the boy, who has a cold, tons of smiles to cheer him up.

Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Not just a grumpy mum

Flying Kiwi and The Editter came by to visit the ever-gorgeous Baby today. Fortunately for them, this time she hadn't just had her vaccinations (they were postponed until January due to a new Ministry of Health directive), so a much more pleasant time was had by all.

If I'd remembered to, I could've gotten out the camera to take some happy group photos, to replace the ones we took last time - the ones where the adults are grinning heroically and Baby is doing an imitation of that famous Edvard Munch painting.

As is usual when I get together in person with fellow bloggers, the conversation turned to what we'd been reading in each other's blogs, and it was noted that the tone of this blog is often a little dour. In fact, it was jokingly suggested that I re-name it to Short and Sweet 'n' Sour. Well, maybe I will.

I can't help writing about all the less-than idyllic moments in my day; if musicians didn't get sad, there wouldn't be the Blues, would there? Besides, few things turn me off more than an overly-sweet, sentimental Pollyanna-ish blog post. You won't come across many of those here.

Which NZ bands?

My friend Mike wants to take some Kiwi music home with him.

I would have recommended Bic Runga, 'Nesian Mystic and Goldenhorse, but his taste runs more to the traditional Seattle sound i.e. Screaming Trees, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam.

So I thought, perhaps he'd enjoy Shihad or The Datsuns?

Anyway I can't really think of any more, what with Baby screaming in the background (yup - she's tired but she won't sleep) and me trying to get by on no REM sleep...

So if you know of some NZ bands or particular CDs which you think Mike would like, leave a comment.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Being a mum of a newborn means never having to say you're sorry...

...that this year you won't be sending any Christmas cards because, hell, it takes enough effort just getting out of bed in the morning

...for not bothering to dress nicely for the family get-together, because none of your party clothes are suitable for breastfeeding

...that Christmas nooky is out of the question, since any block of time in which Baby sleeps is a block of time which could be used for napping or blogging

...for devouring the entire fancy cake which was bought especially for sharing at the family get-together - breastfeeding required calories, you know

...about your inability to talk about anything but the latest theory on infant sleep

...but everyone's getting socks for Christmas 'cos it's too much hassle trying to steer the buggy around the department stores

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

What does one get for the boy who has everything?

Once again I have the problem of what to get as a present for the boy. As he's already told me, if there's anything he wanted he would have bought it himself by now.

I was thinking, how neat - in a cheeky, ironic kind of way - would it be to present him with a t-shirt with Baby's mug on it. He's her number one fan, so I'm sure it'd make him smile even if he didn't dare wear it anywhere. And maybe he actually would wear it. But the trouble is, I only thought of it yesterday and it's now way too late to buy the plain t-shirt, select and prepare the image, and wait for the local image shop to do the rest. Maybe for his next birthday, eh?

I can't really think of anything else which:
a) he would like,
b) doesn't cost as much as a TVR sports car and
c) I can get hold of in time for Christmas

bearing in mind that:
d) I'd prefer to be able to get to the shop on foot and with buggy.

Oh yes, and there's the fact that I have no money (having spent all my savings and maternity pay on bills) so technically the boy would be paying for his own present.

Perhaps it's time for one of those sappy but sweet gift ideas, like a coupon book of hugs (or something more x-rated, except he's gonna have to wait a while before he can cash one of those in).

Monday, December 19, 2005

Sleep training update - I'd give myself a "D"

The sleep training is not going so well, actually. At first, Baby would protest for 20-30 minutes before falling asleep. A couple of weeks later, she started to take maybe up to hour to fall asleep. Lately, she often vocalises for half an hour then cry for half an hour and still not sleep. And I'm just talking about naps here - naps which only last 45 minutes...

It's all my fault. I'm afraid I've been a little inconsistent. I've been offering Baby quite frequent feeds - as often as every couple of hours - in order to stop the reverse cycling. This, and her ultra-short naps, means that sometimes she feeds right before she goes to sleep. In one or two out of her four naps, she's being nursed to sleep (and one nap will be in her buggy). That's a big no-no when you're aiming independent sleep.

But I'm not going to do anything about it for at least another three days; Baby gets more jabs on Wednesday and she'll need to be, well, babied.

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Sunday, December 18, 2005

Party girl

Baby attended her biggest social function so far, today. She and I, and my two friends from Seattle, went to a pre-Christmas barbeque. In a crowd of probably about twenty other people, ranging in age from about seven months to seventy-something years, Baby managed to be the centre of attention all afternoon.

I'd assumed that she'd want me to hold her the whole time, but I couldn't have been wronger. Not only didn't she mind being worn in the frontpack by Mike, whom she'd only met yesterday, but she even fell asleep on his chest. The hussy:-)

Frankly, I was surprised that being in a big crowd like this didn't freak her out, as she'd done when I took her to the Salvation Army play group. But the boy has a good explanation for her relaxed demeanour. Because I didn't know anyone at the play group, I wasn't all that comfortable. On the other hand, I knew just about everyone at the barbeque pretty well, so I was relaxed and so was she.

I guess that explains why Baby threw a wobbly last time she and I took my mum grocery shopping.

Friday, December 16, 2005

old life / new life

My overseas visitors have arrived in town, after a couple of days on the Abel Tasman track. We won't be seeing each until tomorrow though because, frankly, I'm absolutely knackered tonight.

I'm knackered because I've been up since 6am and spent most of the day trying to get Baby to nap, listening to Baby protest and cry instead of napping, and trying to settled the resulting overtired baby.

Baby must be knackered too, because she slept from 6.20pm until 8.40pm before waking up for her next feed - usually she goes down around 6.30 and wakes up half an hour later for her top-up.

And the boy, well the boy is always knackered on Fridays (unless there's free beer on offer) because it's the end of a long, hard working week.

But apart from being knackered (it's such a good word isn't it, only it can so easily be mis-heard...), I'm also a little nervous because I don't know how well tomorrow's get-together's going to go.

My friend and I have only met up a couple of times.

The first time was over ten years ago (in Florence) when I was a youngish, adventurous backpacker with a fondness for Italian Renaissance art and a knack for chatting up strangers.

The second time we met up (I was visiting his home town) was about six years ago when I was a well-paid culture-vulture with a collection of Prince CDs and a knack for chatting up strangers.

Now I'm a stay-at-home mother with leaky boobs, a frighteningly bad haircut (soon to be masked by increasing hair loss) and an obssession with finding methods for getting babies to sleep.

They know about Baby, of course, so I'm sure they'll understand that when we go out I have to be home again in time for Baby's next booby fix. They probably aren't going to expect late nights over wine and spirits (well, not with me anyway) and dinner at the most fashionable eatery in town, because it's just too for me hard to go out in the evenings if I'm on booby duty the whole time.

So maybe I'm worrying about nothing.

All the same, maybe it's going to be weird meeting up again now that I've changed so much. I hope he and his missus don't get really bored.

It's a Hasselhoff Christmas

The boy came home from work the other day proudly bearing one of his Christmas presents to me - one that was not on my list; it's a David Hasselhoff CD, The Night Before Christmas.

It's not that I'm a fan, but ever since the movie Dodgeball even the mention of his name makes me chuckle.

I've yet to play it, but I will once Baby wakes up. I think it's important to develop her sense of humour early on.

p.s. The boy also brought home a present which was on the list - fresh salad veges for my lunches.

p.p.s. Apparently he also has a copy of Serenity on DVD on order, for my third Christmans present.

I shan't be letting him go in a hurry...

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

It was in the stars I know why Baby is so hard to get off to sleep. It's because she's a Leo.

Too hot

It's only 24 degrees Celcius, but it feels oppressive. Maybe it's because it's fairly humid; maybe it's because you can feel the sun burning right through your skin.

I took Baby out for a walk this afternoon in the buggy, because we'd already had one cry-it-out nap in which it took her two hours to settle into a 45 minute nap. Unfortunately, it was so hot out that by the time we'd gone to the beach and back (a two hour trip) I was sweating like the proverbial. I'm thinking that's why Baby only managed to snooze for about half an hour (because it was so hot, not because I was all sweaty).

It's too hot even for t-shirts and capris - it's really singlet and shorts weather, but I'm presently too chesty for a singlet and none of my old pairs of shorts fit.

This uncharacteristic heat seems to be taking it's toll on Baby too - she's only been in bed an hour, and has already woken up crying three times.

I'm thinking about holidays again, perhaps one with air-conditioning and a nice big swimming pool.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

All I want for Christmas

1. some Buffy books, to distract me from my parenting books addiction

2. on DVD, all those movies I haven't been able to go see at the cinema: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit; Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; Serenity; and The Corpse Bride

3. fresh veges for dinner (we've been living off greens-free ready meals for months)

4. a holiday (accompanied by a super nanny if necessary)

5. a promise from my mum to supply less unsolicited advice, and more practical help

6. a bigger house with a bigger yard

7. perfect napping habits for Baby

8. as much sleep as I need

9. legs that go all the way up to my armpits

10. and world peace

Monday, December 12, 2005

Babytalk for boys

I was pleasantly surprised to find Brand New Dad, a web site all about babies and parenting - aimed at dads. And there's some funny stuff here too, like this Homedaddy article (a regular column) about how a stay-at-home dad's day completely revolves around his baby daughter's nap times (something I can related to).

It's interesting to see what concerns dads have, compared with those of mums.

I suppose Brand New Dad is to BabyCenter (and pretty much any other baby-oriented website), what FHM magazine is to Cosmopolitan magazine.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

no longer a Cosmo girl

A nice neighbour, whom I got to know because she has a three-week-old daughter, remembered that I'm a magazine-holic (as well as a Parenting Book Addict, which is why I really can't pass up a parenting magazine).

Even though we've only met a couple of times and chatted briefly, she was kind enough to drop a small pile of magazines in my mailbox this weekend:

New Idea, which I never buy but always leaf through in search of pictures of glamourpusses without their makeup on;

House and Garden, which I used to buy back when I was going to renovate my house; and

two issues of Cosmopolitan.

I've bought and read a great many Cosmo magazines in my adulthood, and mainly for two things: sex tips and fashion spreads.

But I didn't enjoy these two issues. Cosmo is no longer relevant to my life. It's not just because the magazine is aimed at teens and twentysomethings, because I used to read it in my thirties. I think it's because these days sex is something I look back on with very fond memories, and fashion is something I was interested in when I could wear itty bitty tops without fear of giving myself black eyes ('cos you have to wear 'em bra-less).

Current magazine-buying nowadays is limited to Practical Parenting and Little Treasures (parenting mags, of course), but I still get the odd Empire , because once upon a time I was a total arthouse film freak. I like to think that, however boring I must now seem now, there's an interesting arty-farty intellectual lurking in me somewhere just waiting to re-surface.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

What's worse than having a bad haircut?

It's bad enough having a fringe at the back of my head (it's called "styling" - well, not on fine Asian hair, it isn't), and not being able to just wash and go without fear of looking like a right nong; now I'm suffering from childbirth-related hair loss.

For the last few days, the number of hairs I find entwined in my fingers after my post-shower finger comb, have increased to maybe half a dozen, instead of one or two at the most. So I looked it up in my Baby Love book and, sure enough, I've succumbed to yet another item on the list of "things that happen to you after you have a baby".

According to my book, I'm going to continue to lose more-than-usual hairs for maybe another five months. Then I get to enjoy my scalp's new-found nakedness until approximately twelve months after Baby's birth, before new hairs grow.

Time to go shopping for hats.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Baby's Wot's Hot / Wot's Not list

Wot's Hot:

- Talking to herself in the middle of the night, thereby keeping her poor mother from falling asleep

- Pretending to be really hungry when it's 4am, then flashing a big grin at her mum to let her know she actually just wants to play

- Kicking, whether it's in the bathtub or in the buggy

- Scratching any surface she can get her nails into

- Caleb, the toy doggie that goes "woof woof" when she hits it

- By sheer force of cuteness, forcing her parents to stop whatever they're doing and play with her

- Withholding poo for as long as possible so that when it finally comes, there is no nappy in the world big enough or absorbent enough to hold it in

- Her hands, especially the thumbs

- This strange activity called "rolling over"

Wot's Not:

- Being flipped over onto her front for tummy time

- Taking naps

- Having a boobie thrust in her face when all she wants to do is study the ceiling or find out where that loud noise came from

- People wearing spectacles (for some reason they're scary)

- Being forced to cover those interesting appendages at the end, i.e. feet, with socks or booties

- Being strapped into anything, including the buggy

- Sitting in two day's worth of poo because she held it in for so long and it's now arrived all at once

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Book report from PBA (Parenting Books Anonymous)

Hi. My name is Violet and I'm a parenting bookoholic.

Still attempting to wean myself off books about babies and how to live with them, I've now read several stories in Garth Nix's Across the Wall. I loved Lady of the Lake and Hansel and Gretel, but I can only take so much fantasy at a time.

Then, in a bid to try a different genre altogether, I started Around the World in 80 Dates by Jennifer Cox. Supposedly a true story, it's about a thirty-something career woman's date-around-the world project in search of her soul mate. I'd call this travel writing chicklit. Unfortunately there's not much travel anecdotage and, seven dates in, not a heck of a lot of romance or sex either. Maybe it gets better, but life is too short to read anything which is neither gripping nor useful.

Then, a couple of parenting books came through which I had on hold at the library - Gary Ezzo's On Becoming Babywise and Christopher Green's Babies! A Parent's Guide to Enjoying Baby's First Year.

I had to pay a dollar each for reserving those volumes; to not read them just because of a teeny weeny itsy bitsy PBA pledge is just wasteful.

Babies! didn't tell me anything I hadn't already read elsewhere, but Green's writing is charming and funny. I'd read it just for his sense of humour.

has been subject to a bit of controversy, but on the whole I found much of it was common sense advice. His idea of a feeding and sleep routine based on a 3- or 4- hour cycle (feeding, awake time, sleep) wasn't too different from the concept on which Tracy Hogg's Secrets of the Baby Whisperer is based.

Apparently the criticism is over Ezzo's advice to feed to a schedule (as opposed to demand feeding i.e. feed 'em when you think they're crying out of hunger); if that's the case, then I wonder why Hogg's book hasn't been criticized for exactly the same thing.

It was a little distracting that Ezzo kept mentioning church in the book (e.g. as something I'd want to make time for), and there's certainly an emphasis on getting babies to sleep through the night, but I was expecting to be scandalized. No scandals here.

I'm not doing that well in fighting the parenting books addiction, am I?

Oh no!

It's official - the buggy has lost it's magical ability to send Baby to sleep when all other methods fail.

This news is more tragic than you could possibly imagine (unless you too have - or have had - a baby who hates to nap).

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


They say that after you have kids, your relationship is never the same again.

You start calling each other Mummy and Daddy even when your kids aren't around; sex is scheduled for weekends, if you're lucky; the phrase, "Not tonight dear, I have a headache", actually sounds like a plausible excuse for an early night.

On Saturday night, I knew that the boy's and my relationship had changed..

It was 2am and we were snuggled up in bed; he was asleep and I had just woken up to the sound of Baby making little snorty noises in her sleep. I dug myself deeper into the warm niche created by the boy's foetal pose, evilly intending to wake him up.

The boy responded by patting my side and murmuring "Hush hush, Baby; it's Sleep Time".

And I thought my mum was bad...

I now have evidence that my mum's prodigious amount of post-childbirth advice was probably on the conservative side. According to this article Flying Kiwi sent me, I shouldn't have walked around barefoot, eaten bananas or watched television, in the weeks after Baby's arrival.

And yet there's no mention of ginger.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

From one extreme to the other

We were having a rough day with Baby's lack of naps. She no longer goes back to sleep on her own after her 7am feed, something we could always count on to allow us a lie-in in the mornings. She'd already missed the next mornig nap because she just protested and protested for an hour, instead of being a good girl and putting herself to sleep after no more than half an hour of grumbling.

By the time my brother saw me walking up the hill with Baby in the buggy (a failed last-ditch attempt to help her nap), it was well after midday and I looked like hell. He'd tooted his car horn and eventually had to pull over, get out of the car and shout my name, to get my attention. I was in a sleep-deprived fugue and was only conscious enough to avoid getting us run over whenever I stepped off the curb.

Well, my brother told his partner and his partner rang us up later today to offer us her babysitting services next Saturday morning. I really must have given him the impression that I was in a desperate state, because my sister out-law has two littlies of her own and she's busy enough.

On the Shock-Horror front, I'm pleased to report that Baby took a long nap this afternoon. For the first time in at least a month, she slept for the better part of three hours.

I've been reading the Baby Whisperer discussion board you see, and it was suggested that you can extend the baby's nap by creeping in about ten minutes before they're expected to wake up, waiting for them to stir and then gently settling them back down again. So thirty minutes after I managed to get Baby off to sleep this afternoon, I snuck in and hovered around until she stirred, crooned and stroked her and - she went back to sleep!

I nearly did my little dance of triumph, but it would've woken Baby.

Unfortunately, Baby woke up ten minutes later wanting to feed.

Fortunately, she didn't mind being put straight back into her cot post-feed, and slept for a couple of hours(!) - unheard of these days.

It may all revert back to non-napping normality tomorrow, but hey - there's always hope.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Tall and Baaad Like Him

The boy now has his own blog; it's called Born Again Geek. If you'd like to be privy to his innermost thoughts...then good luck to you.

Kicking the habit

When the Plunket nurse told me that Gina Ford's Contented Little Baby book ought to be burned, I initially bristled with a librarian's indignation. Then I had second thoughts about the usefulness of trying to fit my baby into a stranger's vision of how babies work, and have now decided it's time to stop reading parenting books (except for the ones I already have on hold at the library, that is; I've already paid for the privilege).

I'm also going to try avoiding reading novels and biographies about mothering too - that means leaving We need to talk about Kevin on the bookshelf for a few months.

I've started reading Across the Wall by Garth Nix. A book of short stories, the first is a novella which follows on from Abhorsen (a terrific end to a terrific trilogy).

It's going to be much harder for me to stop buying the parenting magazines though, because I have an addiction to magazines in general (unless they are girlie mags, golfing mags or fishing & boating mags). Perhaps if I smoke a cigarette every time I itch to buy a Practical Parenting?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Trying to remember

Once upon a time I saw a Japanese movie - I think it was called Afterlife - which really made an impression on me.

In the world this movie portrays, when you die you spend a few days in some kind of in-between place before you go on to Heaven. Whilst at this in-between place, you are expected to decide upon the one favourite memory of your life on Earth; this is the only memory you can take with you into the afterlife.

So there is this one middle-aged guy who can't think of a single thing. His life has been so boring that for a whole week he can't come up with anything memorable. So the staff lend him a record of his entire life (on videotape, actually), so he can watch the whole boring affair in the hope of finding a memory worth preserving for eternity.

This is where I was inspired. I didn't want to be like that guy, and have a boring life. I also didn't want to be unable to remember all the wonderful moments that I've experienced in my life so far.

Unfortunately my memory is so bad that people have actually pointed that out to me, so I decided henceforth to record worthy moments in a journal.

I kept this up for about six months before I got slack. However, now that I have a blog I can record almost everything going on in my life (except for the really, y'know, personal stuff). When I die and go to limbo-land, I can just read my blog to find my most-favoured moment (at least, as long as it happened no more than about 2 years ago).

Oh, and what happened to Mr Boring? He watched all those tapes and came across a scene in which he and his wife are sitting on a park bench, contemplating the possibility of going to see a movie. Nothing exciting had happened, but it was just an intimate moment between the two of them. And this is what he took with him.

Ear-splitting protestations

Up until today, Baby's sleep training was going fairly well; after 30-40 minutes of protests cries, the baby monitor would suddenly go all quiet, and I knew that she was headed for up to 45 minutes of slumber. During our visit to the Plunket Family Centre yesterday, the nurse considered 30-40 minutes of crying before settling in to sleep as "settling well" (which I was quite surprised about).

Today's naps didn't go so well. Her first nap of the morning was ruined because Baby turned out to have an unbelievably pooey nappy. Because I wasn't sure whether to put her straight back to bed or not (she'd already been there over an hour, fully awake), she ended up getting overtired and having a screaming fit before finally falling asleep. Her second nap was in the buggy. The third nap has been a disaster so far; her screams were, I'm sure, heard across the street, down the road and around the corner. I gave up after half an hour; after a cuddle and a feed, she's now lying on the bed in the study while I'm at the computer.

I'd like to tell her that this is for her own good; that if she'd only let herself fall asleep now it'll avoid another overtiredness screaming fit later. This is where it'd be handy if she could talk. I wonder whether one can say these things in baby sign language?