Thursday, June 29, 2006

sex and drugs and naughty search words

There've been a couple of spikes in this blog's stats over the last few days. I wonder if it's because I've used words like breast, drugs and peekaboo pole-dancing kit in recent posts? I wonder if I'll get another spike now that these words have just appeared in the latest post? Hmmm...

Social leprosy

I'm so sick of cold viruses now. Baby's just started her third cold since we got back from Fiji - that's less than one month ago - I'm only just getting over mine and the boy is now in the throes of his second since Fiji. Frustrating as this is for my plans to sleep train Baby, there's now much more at stake - our social life.

When Baby's got a cold, we can't go to our mothers' group meetings or swim class or visit friends or entertain. A trip out in the buggy means wrapping her up like a burrito in several layers of hats, hoods and blankets, and strictly adhering to the use of our plastic weather shield. No-one gets to cuddle, play with or breathe anywhere near the vicinity (except for me and the boy who are already sick anyway).

In future I'm going to have to think twice about borrowing stuff from the library, because library books are the number one way of passing on germs if you're a reader (I know this for a fact, because when I started working at a library I caught three colds in two months). Either that or disinfect anything likely to get into Baby's hands.

I wonder if there's such a thing as Echinacea for babies?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


One of the children's books in the latest batch I borrowed from the library, is about time. And one of the pages has a picture showing a young baby, a pre-teen girl, a youngish adult woman and a grey-haired woman.

From new life to aged decreptitude in less than a second.

I've seen insurance ads on the telly which effectively do the same thing i.e. show a baby grow up, find a job, get married, greet his new grandchild and finally, dodder away to his grave.

Am I the only one who finds these sped-up lives thoroughly depressing?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


There's a part of me which likes to think that herbal rememdies and other "alternative" treatments are somehow better than the drugs of Western medicine. It's the same part of me which feels guilty for taking Baby out on a half hour drive to get her to sleep (the petrol cost!), or for using disposable nappies.

On the other hand, there's the enormous convenience involved.

For days now I've been so congested I could barely breathe at night, but I didn't want to take anything for it because I'm still breastfeeding. But I reached a limit yesterday, when reading to Baby became a chore (because I had to stop every page to sneeze or blow my nose) and when Baby's no-eating antics threatened to blow my serene-mum act out the window.

So I sent the boy out to the pharmacy to buy some Sudafed.

I just have to be careful with the timing; I take some pills right after Baby's first post-bedtime breastfeed (as long as the next one is more than 3 hours away), and that sets me up for the night.

And last night I actually got to sleep for the five hours between Baby's first post-bedtime breastfeed and her second (this one, at least, will hopefully disappear after sleep-training).

So, despite the fact that natural therapies sound so wholesome and healthy, I'm afraid I'm all for the quick fix.

Monday, June 26, 2006


I feel lucky that Baby really enjoys looking through my old Ezibuy catalogues, because they're free and they keep her entertained for hours. But I'm getting sick of reading her the same old board books before each naptime and bedtime, so it's time to get some more.

Mostly because I'm too lazy to go traipsing about the bookshops looking for good babies' books, I've been looking around on the Amazon site for books to add to Baby's collection (and not least because her favourites are actually library books).

Entering "That's not my bear" resulted in a list of several other books in the same series, which pleased me no end. That's not my monster and That's not my dragon (I'm probably showing my fantasy/horror bent here) are already on my wishlist.

Entering "Peekaboo" not only resulted in a couple of potential buys, but also a few amusingly inappropriate items, such as:

-Peekaboo Nightie Lip Gloss
-Peekaboo Pole Dancing Kit
-Alien Peekaboo (there's no picture, but my mind sure does boggle)

But what I should really do, if my snot-clogged sinuses will let me, is to put on my hat and gloves and super-thick coat, put a well-wrapped up Baby in the buggy and trot on down to a nearby specialist children's bookshop. I could do with some exercise.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

The Dolly Parton look is Sooo OVER

TMI warning: if you don't want to read about breast shrinkage, then leave now.

First I noticed that the breast pads kept falling out (fortunately, this mostly only happened at home).

Then I noticed that my bras were looking a little wrinkly.

Now I realise that my boobs have shrunk - not to their previous perky shape though; just a more petite version of the moo-cow look I've been sporting ever since Baby's tumultuous appearance on planet Earth.

But there's no way in hell I'm going to go out and get refitted for new maternity bras, not when I'm expecting to be lactation-free in the next 2-3 months.

So the world is just going to have to put up with seeing drapery where there shouldn't be any.

Saturday, June 24, 2006


The entire household has come down with colds, although luckily the boy has been the first to recover (probably because he was the first to succumb, and then passed it on to Baby and me).

It was a cheap trick on Baby's part, but she's succeeded in getting her sleep-training weekend postponed. I reckon by the time the next window of opportunity comes up (after the next cold, her fourth Meningoccal B vaccination and the boy's business trip abroad), she'll be old enough to give up night feeds for hard liquor.

Anyway, the poor wee mite is irritable by day and sleepless by night (okay - sleepless, full stop (that's period if you're North American)). Congestion abounds (except Baby has the benefit of our steam vaporiser and I don't), and appetites are all over the place (she won't eat her solids except with extreme deception; I've been beating a path to the fridge which is so well-worn that I should really call it State Highway 93).

It might well be the reason Baby didn't enjoy yesterday's swim class very much, and why she wasn't exactly pleased when I dunked her head in the water. Oops.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Not too young to be a shallow ageist

I'm pretty sure of it. Baby prefers the young and pretty.

She made goo-goo eyes at the attractively presented young retail staff at the duty free beauty counters.
She cries when she gets a cuddle from a senior citizen. Up until about a month ago, this included her own grandmother.

When I took Baby to our GP to get her checked out, just to make sure there's nothing medical standing in the way of full-on sleep training (we aim to start this coming weekend), she absolutely charmed the pants off the elegant young woman sitting next to us in the waiting room.

But the kindly, bespectacled old gent who very gently looked into her ears and listened to her lungs, made Baby burst into tears.

Perhaps it's not too late to start using eye wrinkle cream.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Cute corpse

We watched The Corpse Bride the other night, and it was well worth the wait (the wait for the DVD to become available for weekly rental, that is). The boy, of course, accused me of selecting a movie based on Johnny Depp's involvement. That didn't stop him from watching it with me though (nor does it stop him from watching Pirates of the Caribbean multiple times).

It's a great little story, told in excellent stop-motion animation. The music (it's a musical, by the way) is groovy and the walking, singing skeletons are more whimsical than scary. Think Mexico's Day of the Dead.

And it's chockful of the voices of acting greats, too - apart from our Johnny, The Corpse Bride stars Helena Bonhom Carter, Emily Watson, Christopher Lee and Albert Finney. Jane Horrocks (Absolutely Fabulous and Little Voice) is in it too, but she wasn't mentioned in the DVD extras so I'm assuming her performance is a musical-chorus one (she does amazing imitations of the likes of Shirley Bassey in Little Voice).

It looks great, sounds great and leaves you with a nice warm fuzzy.

Friday, June 16, 2006


I'd have to be totally off my rocker to want another baby, right?

It's different for the boy, because he doesn't have to incubate for nine months and forego deli food in all that time. He won't be getting up to feed a newborn every 2 or 3 hours. He won't be spending all day feeding, settling or changing a baby. And he certainly won't be the one doing this with a toddler to entertain and care for.

So why am I even considering having a second child?

Mostly, it's because it would be nice for Baby to have a sibling. Without a sibling to fight with Baby won't have as much opportunity to practice self defense (or offense). Without a sibling, Baby won't get to learn to share toys and love until she gets to preschool.

There's also my age. At forty-cough, I haven't the luxury of raising a single chile for a few years (and thereby completely forgetting the horrible bits) before deciding that it would be nice to have another baby.

And, now that Baby has started to sleep fairly well (and without any change in behaviour from us, her parents), I'm already starting to forget how horrible it was to survive on 2-hour blocks of sleep for nine months (or is that just because my memory is so poor?).

So I've been thinking about what would have to happen in order for me to want another baby:

- We'd need to move to a bigger, more child-friendly house. This means that the boy would have to agree to actively search for a new home and be prepared to take on a mortgage. Previously, my suggestion that we move has always been met with an "Okay" but no actual action.

- We'd have to think about how we can do a better job second time around, regarding putting the baby on some sort of routine and consciously putting the baby to bed awake. We have to do everything we can to avoid another feed-all-night hell.

- The boy would have to consent to hiring a nanny or home help, at least for the especially hectic times.

- The boy would have to agree to make a whole lot more effort in bottle training the baby, so that I could sometimes have a few hours' sleep and leave feeding in his hands.

I'm sure I'll think of more.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

She's on strike

I've been very keen, over the last few months, to wean Baby off her night feeds. I really didn't expect that she'd go on strike entirely.

Since Monday night, she's only bothered to breastfeed twice. I wonder if this is temporary and due to getting over a big cold, or the start of something permanent?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The little darling's library of contemporary literature

In case you're wondering, when I read out loud to Baby I don't choose from the pile of books I'm reading for myself. Baby's literary treats tend to be board books, since they double as great teething toys and I don't have to worry that she'll ruin her appetite with the pages.

Baby really seems to get a kick out of turning pages; in fact when we were on the flight home from Fiji I gave her a folded-over sick bag and she played happily with it for many minutes.

Her current favourite is Bathtime Peekaboo, which answers questions like "Where is the cuddly penguin?" with "...under the bathmat?. Peekaboo!" She's probably going to miss it when I return it to the library in four weeks.

Her previous library favourite, which we took to Fiji with us, was Anne Geddes' 123. As you'd expect, it's full of Geddes' trademark too-cute photos of infants in strange containers; it's way too sugary-sweet for my tastes, but Baby loved those pictures of babies in flowerpots and dressed as daffodils.

Touchy feely books get a lot of attention too, such as That's Not My Bear ("That's not my bear, its nose is too rough" and the bear has an appropriately scabrous nose). This too, is a library book - and not worth stealing because the last page is ripped up.

The only two books she really likes, which we actually own, are The Very Hungry Caterpiller (it might be because she enjoys poking her forefinger into the holes where the caterpiller has eaten through something) and The Real Mother Goose Touch and Feel Book. The Mother Goose book has cool touchy feely bits, but I suspect Baby likes it mostly because there are plenty of pages for her to turn.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Post-holiday reading

The boy took about half a dozen books with him when we went to Fiji, confident that he'd have plenty of leisure time to fill. I took only two books, Marion Keyes' The Other Side of the Story and Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveller's Wife.

I'd started to become a bit disenchanted with Marion Keyes' books. I still think her early work is her best (Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married and Watermelon are highlights) and haven't been so enthusiastic about the later novels (The Last Chance Saloon was a low point).

But I actually quite enjoyed The Other Side of the Story once I got about halfway through it. Like all her later books, this one lacks the wit of the first ones, but the story was quite good and none of the main characters were particularly irritating.

I'm still ploughing through The Time Traveller's Wife. It certainly is very imaginative, but I'd have to agree with Make Tea Not War about the annoyingness of the two main characters and the ick-factor in a relationship where one of them is middle-aged and the other is a small child, when they meet.

Also, I've got Gregory Maguire's Wicked, which sounded extremely interesting when I first heard about it (The Wizard of Oz, from the point of view of the Witch of the West), and Keither Laidler's The Last Empress.

Wicked isn't grabbing me, although I have to admit I've only read the first two pages so far. It's just something about Maguire's writing style - I had a similar problem with his Confessions of An Ugly Stepsister (a re-write of Cinderella, in the same vein).

I'm actually having more fun with The Last Empress, despite it's dubious educational value. Maybe it's the detailed descriptions of how eunuchs were made (chop chop!).

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Wassup at ten months

Baby turned ten months old today. Only two more months to go before we can try her out on dairy, egg and wheat (just a precautionary measure due to my highly allergic family history) - that means cheese sauce, crumpets and pizza!

She still doesn't crawl, and when you hold her up she still tends to keep her legs bent. But she's very good at sitting.

She's also good at turning the pages of her boardbooks, but if you give her a book with normal pages, there's a good chance some of those pages will disappear down her gullet.

Baby's slowed down on the weight gains (now just under the 50th percentile), but apparently this could be due to genes taking over. In other words, she could still end up being a shorty like me.

Her preference for junk food is getting stronger all the time. It's now pretty hard work getting her to eat fruit and veges. If it were easy to inject fruit, veges and mince into oven fries, I would.

I finally started dressing her up on a day-to-day basis just a few months ago. Instead of wearing a babygro day and night, she's now cavorting around in candy striped bell-bottoms and funky flowery tunics. She look so cute I can't get over it.

Once we got back from holiday, Baby's sleep improved again. Now she does 6-7 hour stints most nights and nap times are just as likely to be a breeze as a battle. Does this mean we ought to put off calling in the sleep consultant?

She's definitely becoming a little girl rather than a baby. Soon I'm going to have to think of a new moniker. How about Daddy's Girl?

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Not under the influence

Baby just gets better and better at staying awake.

When we were in Fiji, the boy sent me to the bar to get dinner while he stayed in the bure to settle Baby for her bedtime (it would take at least half an hour of songs, rocking and crooning). As you do, I met a couple of Aussies and we got talking. One of the guys, who claimed to have parented (not just fathered) five children, recommended that I drink brandy before the next breastfeed, to help Baby sleep. So by the time I returned to the bure with our dinner, I exhibited the telltale signs of having indulged in the top shelf (i.e. a face like coal-fired barbeque).

Unfortunately, the next breastfeed did not result in a quick Baby-snooze. If anything, alcohol works way better on me than it does on her.

The day we decided to come home early from holiday ('cos we really needed a break), a fellow parent overheard my (admittedly overwrought - you know, for effect) tale of woe to the resort reception. She caught up with me later and, after confessing to having overheard my private conversation, offered to supply me with some Phenergan (the kindness of strangers, eh?). Somewhere in that conversation, she mentioned how Baby Nurofen had put a friend's baby to sleep within 20 minutes, so when I heard her offer in my mentally-deficient state, I accepted.

Unfortunately, she gave me Phenergan rather than the Nurofen.
Also unfortunately, if anything it hyped Baby up even more than usual for the flight home. (Basically, she only fell asleep as we landed at our home port, after bouncing in time to many rounds of Row Row Row Your Boat and some cleverly hypnotic finger-clicking from the boy).

I've also tried sipping camomile tea before her breastfeeds, but I don't like the taste and probably couldn't drink enough of the stuff to have any effect.

There is one glimmer of hope, though. Baby really likes turkey meat (which is a nice change from liking hash browns, oven fries and greasy sausages). Apparently turkey meat is really high in tryptophan, which can help induce sleep. And I know that for the three days at the beginning of this week, in which I gave her turkey meat for lunch, she napped pretty well (if she goes to bed without screaming blue murder and sleeps for at least an hour, that's napping pretty darned well).

Never give up, never say die.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Thoughts on travelling with a baby

I don't know why you can't get dehydrated baby food. It should exist, because when you're planning on a two-week holiday with a baby you have to plan on packing forty-odd jars of baby food. That stuff's heavy, you know.

What's worse when you're rooming in a duplex - having childless neighbours or having neighbours with an equally sleepless baby? When it's the former, you feel bad that maybe your baby's screaming is keeping the neighbours awake or putting them off their nookie. When it's the latter, it's likely the babies will set each other off all night. I don't know.

Today I discovered that I needn't have made do with my maternity swimsuit, because I do in fact have a very nice non-maternity swimsuit. I simply forgot I owned one, because I hoard all my old clothes and then forget I have them. But I still can't find those almost-new polypropylene thermal tops that I bought last winter, and which I was looking for when I found the swimsuit.

There's an old saying, possibly Chinese, the gist of which is that it's necessary to travel in order to appreciate home. Well, it's bloody true.

During a holiday is probably the best time to discover that your baby really likes oven fries, hash browns, fruity yoghurt and barbequed sausages - they're always available at the breakfast buffet and give her a valuable introduction to the world of fast food.

Next time we travel with Baby - if there is a next time - I'm going to spend more time researching drugs. Pamol was great for preventing ear pain during the airplane's descent, but we haven't come across anything that'll make nudge her to sleep (Phenergan does nothing. Nothing).

You get more smiles and much better service if you have a cute baby with you. But then, you really need it.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Before I forget

My memory is infamously bad; my closer friends have all accepted it, but there are many aquaintances out there who probably simply thought I was a total snob. It's not just people's names I'm bad with, but their faces too.

This impediment is so bad that I once pretended to know some guy who greeted me on the street. It wasn't until half way through our movie date that I realised we'd never met before - he was merely chatting me up that time.

At work, I completely covered the frame of my computer monitor with yellow Post-it notes, because otherwise I'd spent way too long looking up instructions on how to do stuff. I had to record every single password and PIN at the front of my work diary.

If I didn't have this blog I'd have a hard time recalling what films or books I've enjoyed in the last six months. Even if I've known them for years, I still have to be reminded of most friends' or family members' birthdays.

I think it started with my being really unobservant, which in turn was because I was always shy and self-conscious. When you're so worried how you came across to others, then you're hardly going to properly notice what's going on around you, right?

Only nowadays it's worse than ever, due to being a mother and being older.

A cousin - the one whose husband I kept inadvertantly snubbing - once suggested that it might a mineral deficiency. I can't for the life of me remember what that mineral is though.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Posing in Fiji

I just know you've all been waiting with bated breath, for some holiday photos. So here they are...

This is the view from our bure. No matter how boring you think it might get sitting on the beach all day for days on end, this is one thing I'd never get tired of looking at.

I'm trying to remember which Pacific Island culture has this code thing going on with wearing flowers in your ear; a flower in one ear (left or right, I dunno) means you're available, a flower in the other ear means you're married and a flower in each ear means you're married but looking for action...

There's something about piers that make me want to photograph them. I'm sure it isn't just phallic.

Anyone looking for a swimsuit model?

Monday, June 05, 2006

A dish of my own

Once, back in the days when I used to share a flat, I watched one flatmate work on a particular recipe, hoping to develop that perfect dish which she could always serve reliably to dinner guests.

I thought it was a great idea to have one dish that you know will turn out perfectly just about every time, a dish that will please your dinner guests rather than embarrass them. But in those days - in fact, right up until the boy moved in and became the default cook in this household - it was always safer for my friends if I limited my food-related social gatherings to chips 'n' dip at home, or eating out.

But finally I think I have My Dish. It's perfect because it's simple to make, doesn't have a million ingredients and is tasty, filling and suitable to for Baby to eat. The recipe is from one of those Ministry of Health booklets which provide iron-rich recipes aimed at babies and toddlers; this one provides a variation for the adults in the family. This is my version -

Violet's Slightly Edgy Cottage Pie
400g of steak mince
1 medium-sized, sweet apple, grated
1 cup of grated kumara (New Zealand sweet potato)
1 cup of water
3 tablespoons of vindaloo paste or medium strength curry paste
And any non-watery vegetables you want to add, e.g. peas 'n' carrots, sliced mushrooms, julienned green beans.

Put the first 4 ingredients into a pan and simmer for 45 minutes. At this point you can remove a portion for your baby. Lightly steam or boil the additional vegetables and add to the mince mixture, along with the vindaloo paste.

Transfer the whole mixture into a casserole or pie dish.

The topping
Top this with a whole lot of mashed potato (which I mash with lots of milk and butter) and mashed kumara (because you'll have some left over after making the mince).
Top that with lots of grated cheese.
Put it into the oven until the cheese is nice and brown.


p.s. Obviously the quality of the vindaloo paste is going to affect the yumminess outcome of this dish. I use Pataks, but I reckon any brand which you find in the ethnic section of the supermarket should be fine.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

holiday schmoliday

We're back from Malolo Island, almost exactly one week early. Hi!

On the fifth day of our time at the resort, after :
1. I had hurt my dodgy wrist for the second time (this time it happened flipping up the toilet seat - go figure),
2. both the boy and I had suffered multiple insect bites (in my case, really nasty ones that turned into hives the size of Welsh mountains),
3. my skin reacted badly to the tropical-strength insect repellent I sprayed on my arms, following aforementioned insect bites and
4. Baby had woken up screaming her head off half a dozen times per night, for the fifth night running,

we decided that going home early wouldn't be a bad idea at all.

Don't get me wrong, now; Malolo Island Resort is a lovely place with postcard-perfect views, extremely friendly staff, warm seawater and plenty of opportunities for snorkeling and sea-kayaking (if you aren't hampered by childcare responsibilities). From the patio of our bure, we could sit and gaze at the hammock-punctuated horizon, eat tropical fruit and say "Bula!" to anyone passing by. All the staff were baby-friendly, and most of them took to Baby from the moment they laid eyes on her tufty hair and cute little sideways smiles.

Okay, the prices of everything from restaurant food to trashy women's magazines was exhorbitant, and there was the little matter of being promised a proper wooden cot when the resort only provides portacots, but on the whole there wasn't much to complain about.

Mostly, it was Baby's sleep - or lack of. She's a sensitive wee soul, and seemed to find the change of environment overwhelmingly distracting. The boy had to practically rock her to sleep for every nap and bedtime, and every night we'd be up every 30 minutes to 3 hours trying to get her back to sleep again. I think I must've given her about 8 breastfeeds in one 24 hour period.

Having said that, Baby had tons of fun - flirting with the staff (pretty Mia, who works at one of the restaurants, was a particular favourite), playing in the sea, checking out other holidaying babies and having 24-hour access to super-fun play-daddy. She even got to ride in a sea plane - how many babies can lay claim to that at 9 1/2 months?

But we're all glad to be home now; especially Baby, whose eyes lit up when she saw the mountain of familiar toys again.