Thursday, November 30, 2006

Getting into position

Someone from the parent's group I meet with, told me about a regular yoga class which welcomes babies and toddlers. Apparently, during the class, the kids mosey around the room, hopefully playing with the toys they brought from home or else bum-shuffling onto their mum's yoga mat just as they are attempting to Salute the Sun.

The first time I tried to make the class, it just happened to have been cancelled and I didn't find out because I'm not on the e-mailing list. The second time, we arrived so early that the whole place was still all locked up, and I couldn't be bothered hanging around for 20 minutes in the galeforce winds on the off-chance that the class hadn't been cancelled again.

Third time lucky.

There were five of us, each with one child and his or her toys, plus the instructor and his child. This made for a yoga class with an amusing difference. In the middle of all those downward-facing dog poses was the discordant banging from a piano played by someone too short to see the keys. For some, whole sequences were interrupted by requests for "boobie". I myself missed a couple of forward bends when I leaped off my mat to find a biscuit and a sippy cup of milk for The Little Madam, to stifle her "I'm hungry" moans.

TLM had a great time - she always does when there are other kids' toys to play with. Although the fun ended during our ten-minute meditation period - surprise, surprise - when she insisted on climbing aboard my supine form and using my stomach as a trampoline. Well, that wasn't when the fun ended; the fun ended when I tried to encourage her to climb off me and she accidentally caught the floor with her head.

I think I'll go back next week, with cushions.

Monday, November 27, 2006

More news on the upstanding-baby front

The Little Madam and I went to visit a neighbouring mum-and-daughter this afternoon. The girls, both the same age, seemed to enjoy each other's company, and I enjoyed having a natter with another adult whilst safe in the knowledge that TLM's entertainment was being taken care of. The other little girl talks like a Teletubby, but is otherwise cute, smart and already walking a few steps at a time.

And it was here that TLM's latest mini-milestone happened. She crawled up to the step leading to the kitchen and crawled up the step! Then she slid around and launched herself off the step until upright, her hands landing against the legs of a nearby change table. And there she stood, slightly turned towards us with one hand in mid-air.

It was a proud moment. We even took photos, although we had to encourage TLM to repeat her feat a few times before we got the timing right.

For the rest of the afternoon, TLM wandered about the lounge looking for things to pull up on. I imagine it won't be long before she's standing up in her cot at night, with hands shaking the bars and demanding to be let out to play.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Swim and sink

And about time too.

Yesterday the boy offered to take The Little Madam off my hands for the afternoon (okay, just two hours rather than all afternoon - but I'll try not to complain), and actually managed to go for a swim in that time.

In contrast to my younger and fitter days, I only managed to crawl 18 25-metre lengths of the pool - and that's with a breather every couple of lengths. Still, it was wonderful to be in a pool and not be crouching in the water clutching a slippery young 'un. I just hope I can keep this up on a regular basis. Perhaps with a few more swims I'll be able to wave vigorously, without feeling the echoes in those fleshy bits where my triceps used to be.

After my swim, I sought out a cafe where I could have some lunch and a little quiet magazine time. But when I tried to pay for my ham'n'cheese toastie with my ATM card, I was horrified - and embarrassed - when the card was declined. I made three attempts, just to be sure, before the manager took pity on me and told me I could pay her later (quite touching really, because I'd never even set foot in that place before).

Then, during the walk back to the house, I realised what had happened to my bank balance. Long story short - earlier in the week I'd discovered that I was underpaying my nanny by 6% in holiday pay, and instead of transferring the difference into the Wages account I'd stupidly transferred the total corrected amount for two weeks wages - on top of the automatic payment which had already gone through. And now I was heavily in the red, earning my bank unknown dollars in overdraft interest fees.

Sometimes I could just smack myself on the head and call me a half-wit.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Second-baby jealousy

Yesterday I found an email in my junk mail folder, that turned out to be a message from an old friend with whom I thought I'd lost contact. It was an announcement that he and his partner had just become second-time parents.

Now, the last time I saw my friend, his other half was about 6 months pregnant with their first child and I was still in my keeping-it-secret first trimester with The Little Madam. So that makes their first-born about 18 months old. Which means that second-born was conceived when first-born was only 9 months old.

But I didn't tell you that in order to make any judgements about having 2 kids so close together. I don't have any opinion on the matter.

I mention it because it makes me a little jealous. If she was so keen to have a second baby so soon, then surely the previous 9 months of baby-raising must've been a total piece of cake, without the months of sleep-deprivation and rocking the baby to sleep for three hours every night. They must've had an easy time of it, to feel confident about doing it all again already. And that's what I'm jealous about.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

No more lonely nights

After almost two weeks away on business, the boy is back tomorrow. It'll be interesting to see how The Little Madam treats him on his return - will she be joyful at the sight of her beloved daddy, or spurn him for leaving her for so long?

But that's not why I decided to blog tonight, despite having almost no Internet service via the wireless network. I'm blogging because I can't answer the following question -

When the boy arrives home tomorrow, should I plan to make him a lovely homecooked dinner, or simply hand TLM over and disappear for a day or two?

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Her first Christmas parade

After bearing the brunt of a couple of major tantrums this morning (all because she wanted to stay in the swing when we were at the park - because, y'know an hour in the swing just isn't long enough), I hoped that The Little Madam would behave better at the Christmas parade this afternoon.

She didn't enjoy the parade as much as I'd hoped, but then it was really hot and unshaded, the band music was really loud (especially the bagpipes - why are bagpipes so loud?) and she didn't recognise any of the giant TV characters like Spongebob or Scooby Doo. I think the fairies went down well though. (Now I'm struggling to recall whether we actually saw Santa Claus...)

What TLM enjoyed much better was the post-parade visit to the central city park. It's got this unusual gravel-moving/wetting apparatus which the toddlers were really loving, and she got a kick out of throwing gravel into my jeans turn-up cuffs (funny how the stuff gets everywhere - later when I changed her nappy it was full of poo-coated gravel). She behaved impeccably, making me wonder whether she only throws big wobbly fits every now and then to prevent me from becoming complacent.

It was a sociable afternoon too, because I spent a happy couple of hours chatting with a young Jordanian mum and watching TLM play with her 4-year-old. And then I met a fellow MacLaren Mac3 buggy-owner, and we bitched about how poorly-made and designed those things are.

All in all, a good end to the day.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Food fight

Today I've been going bug-eyed crazy-monster, because The Little Madam has been really acting up since yesterday afternoon. She whines and whines and all I can do is offer food and drink, sniff her bum in case she's got a pooey nappy and make sure she gets to bed nice and early.

Plus, her food-throwing habit has increased in intensity lately. For a while, it looked like it was more or less under control, but now she starts dropping food mere minutes into her meal.

When the kitchen floor starts resembling the "before" photo in a vacuum cleaner advertisment, I try to interpret that as a sign from Madam that she's had her fill. Or, she doesn't like what's on offer. But as soon as I start clearing up, I'll find her popping bits of food into her mouth which had been sitting on her bib.

It's possible that she finds my expressions of annoyance entertaining - but I've already tried simply ignoring her behaviour and it wasn't working anyway.

Perhaps it's just getting to me a lot more at the moment 'cos the boy is away on business, which means I've had little baby-free time (apart from when I'm working) for over a week. And maybe TLM misses her super-fun play-time Daddy, and is taking it out on me.

I'm wondering whether TLM acts up for the nanny...

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Is it weta season?

The boy really doesn't like bugs. If there's one flying around the living room, he can't just ignore it like I would; he won't rest until he's squashed the life out of it, usually with a current edition of the Dominion Post.

And wetas really give him the willies. Before he left on his business trip, his rubbish-taking-out task came to an abrupt halt when he discovered one of those creepy crawly things lurking next to the bathroom waste bin. I had to go in and wrestle it out the window (because I don't like to kill bugs - unless they're flies or cockroaches) before he would finish the job.

I don't know how The Little Madam would react to a weta, although I almost found out the other day. But I swiftly removed it from in front of the kitchen door before she had a chance to find it. I suspect she'd just put it in her mouth.

And then, this morning, I was unloading the washing machine and put my hand on a newly-washed weta - a monster of a thing - and squealed like a boy with the willies.

Never before have we been so inundated with these buggers. I wonder what it's all about?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I know I shouldn't worry, but...

I always assumed that The Little Madam's bum-shuffling was just an alternative to crawling and nothing more. So it annoyed me when I kept coming across advice from SPARC (a government organisation hell-bent on making us Kiwis do more exercise), about the importance of crawling to neurological development in babies, toddlers and young children. It seemed to me that they were ignoring bum-shufflers, because surely bum-crawlers don't end up all retarded do they?

But the Plunket nurse, at TLM's 15-month weigh-in, seemed terribly keen that I encourage her to get crawling. And she crushed my already diminishing peace of mind by referring to some research linking bum-shuffling with learning difficulties.

So I Googled it, as you do. And there are numerous mentions of bum-shuffling being linked to learning difficulties, especially dyslexia.

So for the rest of the evening I'll be searching the discussion boards for anecdotes about bum-shufflers who grew up to be Nobel Prize-winning scientists, Mensa members and polymaths.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Sleeps, books DVDs

The nanny’s nap spell has broken.

After a weekend in which I was proud to have gotten The Little Madam to take 2-hour and almost-3-hour naps respectively, I arrived home from work this afternoon to hear TLM squealing away in her room as though determined to prove that she was wide awake. There was to be no nap today, and no doubt the catnap she took in the car on the way home from her outing at the Botanic Gardens had something to do with this.

So TLM’s bedtime tonight was a full hour early, at 6pm (i.e. 5pm in the afternoon if you’re going by real – non-Daylight Saving – time). Still, she went to sleep almost straight away and as long as she’s not ready for action at 5am tomorrow I’m fine with that.

And I’ve broken my parenting literature habit. For the last week or so I’ve been engrossed in To the Poles (without a beard) by Catharine Hartley. It’s a true account of a woman whose obsession with walking to the South Pole, without any previous polar experience whatsoever and almost no physical training, drives her to become (with one other) the first British woman to walk to the South Pole. And then she decides to have a go at the North Pole as well.

It’s pretty riveting reading, although Catherine does come across as a sort of Bridget Jones on ice (there’s the 30-something-ness, the drinking, the fags, the embarrassments – though not the romances).

Now that I’ve run out of Gilmore Girls DVDs to watch in the two hours or so between TLM’s bedtime and my plunge into the depths of sleepiness – at around 9pm – it’s back to the Buffy’s. The Season is Four, the episodes are This year’s girl and Who are you – or, the ones where Buffy and Faith swap bodies. It’s so very Face/Off.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Soon to be upstanding

No longer content to rest on her bum, The Little Madam has started to get up onto her hands and knees and occassionally attempt to stand as well. She's not quite there yet - she still needs someone to prop her up against the sofa so she can pull everything off it onto the floor - but this afternoon when I pulled her to standing by her wrists, she liked it so much she demanded several encores.

TLM even tried standing up in her baby bathtub, which had me trying to formulate an emergency flooding plan.

It's probably going to mean a few disturbed nights, as she's sure to continue practising in her cot.

Still, I'm really quite excited about it.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Those longer naps - it's not all good.

Ever since the nanny started working for me, The Little Madam has been doing two-hour naps - at least, she has on the days the nanny has worked.

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday, the nanny took care of TLM and put her down for her naps - and TLM has napped for two hours.

Thursday, when I don't go to work so I can take TLM to her weekly Waterbabies class, TLM only managed an hour and a half.

Today, Saturday, was the same.

Also, lately TLM has been resisting bedtime. Normally, she's so tired from nap-deprivation that she almost welcomes getting into her cot. Now there are tears as soon as the last line of Rockabye Baby is sung. After I've closed her door, I've ended up going back in once or twice before she'll settle.

So, not only is TLM sleeping better for the nanny than she is for me; all that extra day sleep she's been getting means that she's just not tired enough to go to bed for the night without a fight.

I suppose it's another example of how mothering doesn't get any easier as baby gets older, it just gets different.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


The boy got a fright early one evening, when he went into The Little Madam's bedroom to put her down for the night. Protuding freakishly from the ceiling was a wavy, translucent vine. He fetched a ladder and cut it off, but really this had opened up a nice big can of juicy worms. And it had also probably solved the puzzle of why, every time I tried to switch the light on in TLM's room, the lighting fuse blew, forcing me to retrieve the Civil Defence shoebox from the storage cupboard and the fuse wire from our office.

It's funny how much growth can end up on one's house over the winter, without its inhabitants noticing. I really hadn't realised that one side of my house was almost completely over-grown in thick, woody vine. I certainly hadn't an inkling that it had crept into the roof cavity, looking for bits of electrical wiring to wreck.

There's a landscaping guy out there now, with his team, despite the rain and cold. They arrived minutes before I was going to put TLM down for her nap (relatively early at 11.30), armed with chainsaws and handsaws and dressed in shorts.

Do you think that a nap-avoiding 15 month-old who almost fell asleep on the way home from her swim class, but then got second wind and proceeded to empty out all her toy boxes, would be able to nap through the noise of chainsaws, thumping boots and trestle-assemblage? The answer, it seems, is yes.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Hi ho , hi ho, it's off to work I go

My first day back at work yesterday went pretty well. The Little Madam was so engrossed in the nanny's toys that she didn't even look up when I called out "Seeya after lunch!" to her. After I got in to work, I was so so busy that it wasn't until a couple of hours had passed before I suddenly remembered that I was supposed to be anxiously dialling home for a report on how things were going.

Apparently TLM and her new best friend had a great time playing with toys, reading books and going for rides up and down the hallway in her little car (well, TLM did the riding, the nanny did the pushing).

And the nanny got TLM to do a massive 2-hour nap from midday, which meant that I had a nice break when I got home.

I read somewhere that when little kids start daycare, they may not show separation anxiety until the second or third day. Well, this seems to be true of TLM and her new nanny. This morning, TLM started to fuss as soon as I put my jacket on, and the nanny's prettily coloured scarves failed to distract her when I waved goodbye and resolutely marched out the door.

But I'm confident everything's going to be fine. When I got home at midday, the nanny was full of stories about the fun time they had at the playgroup, and the little friend TLM made.

And I have to admit it's quite nice to have an excuse to wear nice clothes too - at least, the ones I can still fit into.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Easy money

I start my job tomorrow, and the new nanny started today. The idea was for today to be a settling in day for the her and The Little Madam, but it conveniently doubled as the morning I shopped for work clothes.

The nanny arrived at 8am (but starting tomorrow she'll start at 7.30) and played with TLM for about an hour. But when TLM started showing tired signs at the usual time of 9am, the nanny offered to try putting her down for a nap. I wasn't expecting TLM to nap for anyone else, at least to start with. I'd anticipated she would have a whole morning of fun and games, and then crash when I returned home to get her down for an early afternoon nap.

So I was quite impressed when, after the nanny emerged from TLM's room, I didn't hear any cries or squeals. So I left for town.

Two hours, many clothing shops and a single purchase later (I'm sooo hard to clothe), I was home and expecting to hear the squealing and babbling of an actively playing 15-month-old. But it turned out that, after I'd left the house, TLM had spent the next half hour talking to herself and the next two hours after that sleeping. This left the nanny with 2 1/2 hours out of 4, twiddling her thumbs.

That was an easy 60 bucks to earn.

p.s. Hopefully we'll be able to push TLM's big nap further towards midday, so that I get my money's worth out of the nanny as well as blogging time when I get home from work :-)

Saturday, November 04, 2006

One of my top five all-time most unpleasant activities

One would be - sitting in a non-airconditioned car in the middle of a traffic jam on a hot, hot day, with no prospect of moving forwards and no cold drink sitting handily in the passenger seat.

When I was at the Bank, one of the most horrible events was the annual performance appraisal. Every year I was sure that this time I would be exposed as a pretender to geekiness, but every time I survived to fix yet more bug-ridden computer programmes.

Being my mum's taxi driver used to suck unimaginably. Waiting at the meat counter for hours while she fastidiously searched for the perfect pork shoulder, seemed to drained the life out of me. Funnily enough, it's not quite so bad any more. It's probably because seeing her and The Little Madam get along so well makes me feel happy.

Cleaning the toilet. Does anyone not hate this chore? I recently tried out a new toilet-cleaning product - you just squirt the stuff around the inside of the bowl and leave it for ten minutes or so before flushing it all away. Well, that toilet bowl is now looking almost as clean as the toilets you see on the television ads for - um - toilet cleaner. And I'm almost as joyful about it as the housewife on the ad, too.

But today, the rank of most unpleasant activity has to be - getting fitted for a bra.
Not only must I study my flabby self near-naked in bright light, with the added risk of the changing room curtain blowing aside to allow any loitering perv a full-on view of my fat rolls and skin blemishes, but I've got to let the bra-fitter see me in all my un-sexy glory as well. Usually the bra-fitter is a middle-aged or elderly woman, and somehow that makes the whole experience relatively unthreatening. But when the person dropping my boobs into their respective cups, is a nubile young woman who still has her figure and a social life, well it's pretty damned close to humiliating.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Found nanny

The nanny hunt did not get off to a good start. The prospect I'd "interviewed" (not very well, because what experience do I have in interviewing job applicants? None.) on Wednesday turned up about 2 hours late due to problems with transport, and then told me yesterday that she didn't want the job after all.

I'd hoped to be able to make a decision by the end of the weekend, so if the second nanny applicant didn't work out I'd have to go with the in-home caregiver who lives in town (who is in fact really great, but I dread spending the next three months getting on and off buses with a squirmy baby on my back).

But I was saved. The second nanny applicant turned up on time and immediately pulled out a small bag of hand-made finger puppets, with which she had TLM charmed like a...well, like a snake charmer and a cobra.

The rapport, along with the impressive CV and the adoringly glowing letters of recommendation, was enough for me. I hired her.

However, we aren't going to be signing on the dotted lines until later today. So I hope I'm not jinxing things by announcing the news prematurely.

If all goes well, I'll be officially a working mum early next week.

So, how many of you are there?

The boy came up with another interesting link.

This one invites you to enter your first and last names (there is nowhere for your middle name), and then tells you how many people in the US have your name.

The Little Madam shares her name with absolutely zero people in the US, whilst I have four name-alikes.

I'm not sure how useful this is to anyone though.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Thoughts on underwear

Happy and Blue 2 asks the question - what is your favourite invention - and my answer was self-cleaning underwear.

Which, of course, doesn't exist yet.

But then I had a memory flashback.

There was this one time, on the telly, when I saw an item about Teflon-coated underwear.

That must surely have been a sincere attempt at self-cleaning underwear. Except having a Teflon on the inside of one's knickers doesn't so much clean it, as prevent anything from sticking to it.

Is that a good thing?

Now, if one were to do a poo or a wee, the stuff is just going to slide right off - where do you think it's going to go?

Once I knew a woman, recently arrived from China, who expressed disappointment at the unavailability in New Zealand of throw-away knickers. They don't sound at all comfortable, but I bet they'd be handy.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

All credit to the other bloggers

I don't normally push other people's blogs, because it's hard enough getting you lot to read this one without pointing you elsewhere. But I'm compelled to tell you about - nay, rave about - The Big Side Order. It's creator, Gary James, writes wonderfully and wittily about his adventures in the Yorkshire wilds, looking for love and the way back to the car. If you haven't found it already, go see him and tell him I sent ya.

And in a moment of diplomacy, let me assure you that if you're already on my blogroll then I'm loving reading you right now...