A portrait of my son, once a week, every week, for the 3rd year of his life.
Anakin: Bath time, bed time… these rituals we’ve had since you were born that have slowly evolved, slowly (yet way too fast) seen you grow up and more independent. I know, I say this a lot, but you’re growing up so fast. But it is also at night-time I most often see how little you still are and how much you are still my baby. Too tired, too overwhelmed, you sometimes fall to pieces and the only thing in the whole wide world that will soothe you is being wrapped up in my arms while we ride it out together. I think we both need those moments just as much as we need the laughs, the hugs and all the good times. Perhaps it is in those fragile moments I grow the most as a mother.
I started writing a bit this week, but I’ve been too tired to finish anything. By nap time in the afternoon all my good intentions vanish and I’ve just needed to relax and catch up on rest. I’m not very good at resting or taking it easy, but the past few weeks have been brutal and made me realise I can’t keep this up. It means things slow down and take time, but I just can’t keep pushing myself. I’ve tried to keep activities local and to half days. I try not to do too much housework, which is hard when everything desperately needs a good clean. I’ll vacuum two rooms and have to lie down because I’m just out of breath. It so different this time around. The baby is much more active than I can remember Anakin being. Perhaps it is just that I feel it better this time around, but it’s always on the move. It’s so far down that I can pull my shirt up and see the pokes from the outside already. Driving back and forth to Bendigo today to take down my show was hard. The baby was pushing down and making it so uncomfortable to sit that I started wondering how on earth it will feel by the end. Please, little baby, use the space that’s there while you have it. You can’t stay doubled up at the bottom all the time!
I’ve been having this strange feeling of things moving too fast lately. As if something is slipping away from me. I look at you and I can’t believe all the things you can do and say, the level of things you understand and how refined your interactions with the world are. And you’re only two. All the clichés are true, time goes too fast. There are so many first and lasts. And I am finding myself scared of forgetting them all, and terrified of missing any of them.
I want to remember these things.
Like how you love to nibble on parsley and rosemary, and how you pronounce rosemary (rosmarin in Norwegian) Ros-atte-min.
Like how you call a police man a police car man (politibilmann).
Like how last night was the first time you let your pappa put you to bed since you were a tiny baby. We made a deal that I would feed and cuddle you in your room and then you and pappa would read and sing in our bed. And it went as smooth as if it was something you’d always done.
Like how today after a day of highs and lows you decided to forgo your normal bath and go to bed early. And it was the first time you didn’t ask for milk, and I didn’t offer. I want to remember how sad and happy that made me at the same time. I want to remember how you asked me to put my head on your tummy and sing while you stroked my hair and how you laid next to me for close to an hour just snuggling. Your little hands touching my face, feeling my eyebrows and the contours of my lips. How you laid there looking into my eyes for ages with a slight smile. As if you knew the significance of it all and wanted to make sure I felt just as loved as before.
Like how your face absolutely lit up when I hang your paintings on our wall and how you kept looking at them, so proud and so stoked that your art means something, that it means enough to be hung on the wall next to our art.
Like how your imagination is running so free now. You make up songs and change lyrics. How you can sit completely still for 40 minutes listening to an audio book and how you start acting it out afterwards. Your vocabulary, in both languages, is far beyond your age.
I so desperately want to remember you like you are right now. I feel I have already forgotten so much of how you were when you were smaller. I want to remember it all.
You truly are a magnificent person. I can only imagine what an amazing man you’ll grow up to be. I hope that when you do you’ll remember some of these things too, and remember that you were loved so deeply, so completely and so unconditionally.
Yours always, Mamma xx
Superheroes aren’t that rare. In fact, I’d say they’re quite common when you start to think about it, if superheroes are people with superpowers that is. I’m not talking about people who can fly or shoot lasers through their eyes, I’m talking about people who do extraordinary things as part of their everyday life. Like this guy.
Just an everyday superhero. Helping out as much as he can in his own way, bringing sunshine on the darkest day and showering everyone he comes across in unconditional love. Because making people feel great and beautiful for being exactly who they are is a superpower.
Golden cape Panda Boy. What a guy.
The small joys, the big discoveries.
You love listening to music. Probably even more so of late than before. Now you ask for very specific songs or albums, the same ones again and again and again. I let you borrow my headset one day and for a while you were lost to the world, just sitting there looking out the window, listening to music and taking it all in. I saw myself sitting there, a smaller version, but still me.
Life before you was one where I never left the house without music glued to my ears. It was my protection, my bubble, like an extra skin I wore to shelter myself from the world. I used to love just sitting somewhere, preferably on a train or a tram, just looking out the window while listening to music, lost in thoughts, trying to be temporarily invisible.
These days I’d rather listen to the world when I have a moment alone.
Your latest song infatuations are: Bjørk- Play Dead, Bjørk- Unravel, Bonobo- First Fires and Moomin songs.
There just isn’t enough time these days. (I feel like I always say that, but it’s never not true.) I’ve stepped away from blogging for a bit, not from posting photographs, but from writing. Mostly because I have needed to focus on writing my thesis and planning the remaining shoots, and also because I have been busy trying to get my homemade micro brand of kids stuff, Little Horrors, off the ground. It is all just taking a very long time to set up a shop, sew stock and photograph it when juggling with a full-time toddler and a terrible summer on top of my Masters.
But alongside all of those reasons there were some trolls (not the large, hairy kind) that made things less pleasurable and just made me tired of the whole thing for a while. But I’ll get back into it.
Anyways, as I mentioned in my previous 52 post I had a really hard time choosing between photos last week. I figured I’d show you the ones that got away, plus some from the weeks before.
Week 4: Taking a pause from playing guitar.
Week 4: The days are too hot for us to go outside, but once the sun goes down we come out to run around and drench ourselves.
Week 6: Looking at reflections
Week 6: Eating a snack and thinking hard about something.
I’ve come to the conclusion that it is not possible to have too many photos of your children. Particularly the good ones.
Happy Friday! xx
The sun finally came back today to warm our faces after a week of rain. We spent the day recharging our batteries playing outside, feeding and chasing ducks, and doing a bit of healthy cooking (and eating).
In a couple of weeks we head off on a much needed family holiday. This week we’ll have to start planning it and start making lists over what to bring and what we need to get before we go. I can’t wait for a week of fun in the sun with my boys. Beach, sand, pools and blue skies!
Hanging with Anakin is (almost) always an adventure. I’m reminded of how full of magic the world is through young eyes and how much the little things are what matter the most.
I think I’m falling in love with our new neighbourhood, with our house and with spring.
I love the flowering trees in our yard, the curious little boy who stops to smell all the flowers (and tries to eat them) and the feeling of a fresh start.
I love the warmer days, and the sound of the wind and the birds. I love how everyone we meet says hello and smiles.
I love taking walks with Anakin around our neighbourhood. I love how he picks up small things, acorns and twigs, clasping them in his little hands like small treasures and carries them home.
I’m falling in love all over again. An overwhelming feeling of being in the right place, at the right time, with just the right people.
Have I told you how much I dislike moving?
It’s not that I don’t like settling in to a new place, that’s the exciting bit. It’s the packing and the unpacking, and the constant clutter and tripping over boxes that goes on for weeks that really gets me. It’s the boxes and bags with things that just don’t belong in any specific place, the homeless in a home. I particularly don’t like those. They’re almost impossible to get rid of. You know the ones, the ones that got packed the very last with small bits and pieces from all over the house, the ones with all that stuff from that drawer full of all kinds of things, the one you just kept stuffing things into that you didn’t know where else to put or that didn’t get packed with the rest of the things from that “area”. Those. They drive me crazy.
Then there’s reorganising and re-hanging all your clothes. The new wardrobe smaller than the one you used to have. So many clothes that don’t fit anymore, but you can’t bring yourself to throw them all away because maybe, just maybe one day you might be able to squeeze back into that amazing dress you bought and had altered to fit perfectly just before you got pregnant and rose like a dough. Before your lungs expanded to be able to take in more oxygen for your growing peanut, before your hips got wider and your bum decided to migrate south. That dress. The one that taunts you because you love it so.
I did good this time, I threw out three garbage bags full of gems. Dresses, oh so many dresses, just gone, out of my life forever. And shoes, a garbage bag full of shoes. My mum would be proud.
Then there’s all the artworks, gently wrapped and stacked on tables and shelves. Just waiting to be hung, but they’ll have to keep waiting because as a renter you have to apply for every hook and nail you want to put in, for every tiny alteration you may make there has to be a negotiation and a promise to fork out the cash if you ever so slightly stray from the agreed path. So they sit there, taking up space for all those other things that live on shelves and tables, who then have to find themselves other temporary places. And so it snowballs creating an unsightly and mind-boggling mess.
And why is there never any storage space? Don’t all people have stuff to store? Who are these minimalists who don’t need these things? For the love of sanity, make more storage space! Then perhaps I could hide those damn boxes…
There’s the back and forth from the old house to the new house. Oh we forgot this and that, and where is this thing? Have you seen my, I can’t find my… Is it clean? What needs to be done? Why is this over here? How did that break? What do you mean the cleaners don’t clean blinds?
Then there’s the little boy who discovers that climbing boxes is a great way to get attention and to fall down, again and again. There’s so much to discover! Look at this box, it’s not closed, oh it’s full of washing things and other poisonous stuff that mummy and daddy have temporarily forgot that they put somewhere he might climb and get to. Good thing he likes to show off when he’s doing something he’s not supposed to. Then climbing and getting forbidden stuff becomes old, but no one really has any time to play or do anything fun because there are more boxes to move, more packing and unpacking. Better throw a tantrum to get some proper attention. And then nighttime arrives and finally there is time to be close.
Moving is sort of a gamble isn’t it? You see a house, you think “yeah, this is the one. I like this one.” Then you apply and get it and whoopdedo, right? But then comes all the things you didn’t see when you looked at it and couldn’t know before you lived there. Like the shelves not having vinyl on them or that the vinyl is really old and peeling, because you didn’t have time to open every cupboard and play house detective. Or that the drawers were full of dust, or that the floor is really cold, or that the washing machine has live outside on the patio.
Don’t get me wrong, I really love our new house even with all those bits I didn’t know and that may not be ideal. I just don’t like the process of moving. It takes too long and those boxes are driving me crazy.
Just give me a few more days to get over myself… and those boxes, and I’ll show you our new house. Right now I just need to put my face in a glass of wine (or two) and see if ignoring said boxes will make them go away.
I don’t know about you, but jet lag really does my head in. I’ve never been one of those people who bounce back within a couple of days. It takes me at least a week when heading to Europe and closer to two when heading back to Australia. Needless to say I was dreading what jet lag would do to a 19 month old toddler. Here’s how that went down.
Before we left I did as much research as I could about how to deal with kids and jet lag. There isn’t all that much tangible information out there, but I found a few things here and there that gave me a few ideas to try. At least I was preparing myself for a potential chaos. Right? umm… yes.
Australia to Norway
From Australia to Norway the time difference currently sits at 8 hours. I had read that young children could take as many days to adjust as there is hours in difference between home and the destination. I tried my best to be aware of Australian time as much as I could during the first days to better understand how Anakin was experiencing his days.
Of course, all routines went out the window the first day never to return. Yes, i cried on the inside. Coping with new sleeping spaces and bright summer nights was hard. The first few nights Anakin would wake up around 3-4 am. I was prepared for this and knew he was probably hungry, so we got up and had a bite to eat. I kept him up for a little bit (1-2 hours) playing very quietly before going back to bed to have a bit more sleep. This worked surprisingly well.
Local meal times
Once we got to Norway we immediately switched to local meal times. We obviously adjusted a bit the first few days by offering bigger snacks between, but made sure dinner happened as close to local dinner time as possible. This definitely helped us adjust faster. Anakin is used to eating at the same times every day so his body clock needed to work out this new schedule in a bigger way than we did.
New sleep spaces
Our bedtime in Australia had a very specific routine. Once we got to Norway this vanished and Anakin was faced with new sleeping spaces all the time. This was less than ideal and had a huge impact on him. I thought it was hard myself, and I’m supposed to be an “adaptable” adult, for him it was terrible. We tried as best we could to replicate as much as possible of our old routines, like bath before bed and bedtime breastfeeding, but the shit still hit the fan in a big way most nights in the first week. It was impossible to get him down in a portacot so we started co-sleeping full-time. This helped make Anakin feel safe when he woke up at night and found me next to him. Naps were equally impossible and would only occur in a car or in the stroller. Needless to say there was a lot of walking.
Milk supply and comfort
The first days in Norway Anakin would feed a lot during the night and not much during the day. This was partly due to his days being upside down still, but also because my milk supply needed time to adjust. Anakin would seek out the breast for comfort the whole trip and would feed more frequently than he did before we left. We also started doing the feeding lying down at nighttime, which he, for better and worse, loves. It was a big adjustment for me to go back to night feeds and I can honestly say it was the trip that nearly broke my will to continue breastfeeding.
It’s a huge adjustment for a small child to travel far and be exposed to all new things and people. We were more or less constantly on the go and Anakin was surrounded by new people wanting to engage him all the time. The first few days he rejected both me and my partner except at nighttime, everything was exciting and it was all systems go constantly. By the end of the 5th day he had reached a peak and had a massive three-hour meltdown at bedtime. It wasn’t pretty and I’ve never seen anything like it. After this Anakin became very clingy and would stay close to me most of the time.
Norway to Australia
I was really nervous about how coming back would play out. We landed in Melbourne at 1am and Anakin had slept quite a bit on the last stretch here. By the time we went to bed at home it was 4am and I was only expecting a couple of hours of sleep. Everything I had been told and had read said it would take longer to adjust coming home than it did going over.
The first morning we slept from 4am to 12.30. Anakin fell asleep without trouble next to me and happily snoozed for hours. There were no naps that day and we kept bedtime to the same time as usual. At 7pm he was asleep again and slept for just over 2 hours before waking up as I went to bed. After being awake for an hour, but staying in bed the whole time, he fell back asleep and slept all the way until 12.30 the next day again, as did I. I can honestly say he’s never slept for that long in his entire life.
After the initial sleepathon was over we started to see the other side of the jet lag. Anakin would go to sleep at his normal time, but wake again 1-2 hours later. He would then stay awake anything from 1-4 hours. We didn’t get him out of bed, but stayed there with him until he fell back asleep. This continued for over a week.
Night feedings and wake up times
Anakin started feeding at night again, and would wake up around 4am for a feed. He’d then go back to sleep. For the first few days he would sleep until 8.30-9, then it became 7.30-8, then 6.30-7, and now, almost 4 weeks later he still wakes at 4 demanding boob, which he does not get, and then sleeps on and off until 5.30 when he decides it’s time to start the day. Our hopes of maybe getting a somewhat normal start time of 6.30 has vanished. After Anakin started demanding boob every hour from 4, I decided it was time to stop his night feed as it did not look as if he would stop on his own. We’re still working on getting rid of the 4am wake up, but with no luck so far.
Naps coming back was a big issue I wanted resolved quickly. Anakin does not sleep well in the pram and will only do short naps if you keep him on the move constantly. And I do mean constantly. No stopping for anything and no going indoors anywhere as this will wake him up. I tried co-sleeping for naps, but that simply did not work. I then decided to give the cot a go again, making sure to wind him down with a bit of a feed beforehand. I discovered that his baby call has music it plays for about 10 minutes before stopping. I put this on and laid next to his cot holding his hand. Surprisingly this worked from the first day and is still the way we do nap times now. I guess the boy deserves credit for being more adaptable than I thought!
Coming back definitely wasn’t as bad as I feared. And co-sleeping full-time is something I really enjoy doing. Anakin goes to sleep content, generally stays asleep, except his 4am boob alarm, and wakes up happier than ever. The difference in him is quite noticeable. I also sleep better knowing that he is right there, there is no baby call to listen to and no need to get out of bed. Besides, I love getting night hugs and feeling his warm body next to me. We have been bedsharing part-time for a while, but I much prefer it the way it is now.
(All images are Instagrams @didajenta)
It’s a long way from Melbourne to Oslo, Norway. We were on “the go” for about 35 hours each way. From Melbourne we went to Dubai, then onto Frankfurt and Oslo. In Dubai we had a good 3,5 hours in transit and in Frankfurt about 5. We thought we had the same route back, but to our surprise (and my great annoyance), they threw in a stop in Kuala Lumpur for about an hour. It’s the first time we’ve traveled on a plane with Anakin, and it was also the first time my partner and I have traveled by air together (in 8 years!!! And we’re from the same damn country!). I’m no expert on the subject of traveling with a toddler obviously, but I thought I’d share with you a few things that made our lives easier along the way.
1. Bring food your kid likes.
Anakin will eat mostly anything, but because he is under two and therefore travels as an infant, they only supplied a tiny glass of puree. Think first foods type. It was ridiculous. The boy is 19 months old, he is far beyond puree and definitely needs more than a tiny glass per meal. Along with that he got apple juice and chocolate custard. Not a great meal in any case. On the way over I had thankfully made muesli bars and brought other snacks. But because of this we ended up sharing our food with him and every stop we had we made sure we all ate properly.
2. Whenever possible, let your kid run!
Toddlers have a lot of energy. Where they get it from I’m not sure, but you’ll want to let them release as much of it as possible whenever the possibility arises. If your choice is between putting your kid down for nap or letting them run while in transit, I say let them run. Sure, they’ll be overtired and that’s not ideal, but a kid that’s been cooped up for too long is worse. There’s limited space to move on the plane and too much sitting still as there is. Some airports have play areas. Ask someone if you can’t find it. Let them run!
3. Bring a carrier if you have one
I will never ever go anywhere ever again without a carrier. We use the Tula toddler carrier and I swear it saved us from so much hassle. It can be used on the front and on the back. Anakin sits really well in it, it supports him all the way out to the knees, and best of all it’s easy on my back. I have a chronic back injury so being able to carry Anakin for longer periods without any discomfort is pretty amazing. There are quite a few places in airports where it is easier to carry your kid than have them in a stroller or walking. We didn’t bring a stroller at all for this trip and I’m very glad we didn’t. The carrier also meant I could carry Anakin all the way to our seat in the plane.
In Dubai on our way to Norway Anakin was flying high, way overdue for a sleep and I was able to put him in the Tula, calm him and put him to sleep with ease. During a rather ugly meltdown on the way back the Tula once again became a lifesaver. Anakin lost the plot on the plane, there was no getting through to him at all. After 15 minutes of screaming at the top of his lungs, thrashing about and every effort failing, my last resort was to put him in the Tula. Within a minute he was calm and within five he was asleep. At that time I ignored the seatbelt sign and being told to sit down by the crew. I also ignored the urge to lash out at the people shooshing him and especially the lady who came up asking us to ask the crew if there was a doctor on the plane who could help. Seriously, lady, don’t for a moment think we don’t know the difference between our son needing a doctor and just being far too overtired going in to the 20-something hour of traveling. Once again, the Tula was a lifesaver. I can not recommend this brand of carrier enough!
4. Bring some entertainment
We packed a little backpack which had a nappy clutch, food, a sippy bottle, some books, a happy snap and some toys in it for easy access on the plane. We brought some old favourites and some new things that would have a bit novelty. We kept it small and as smart as we could. A couple of books, some crayons and a notebook, some toy planes, a plush tiger, an old Nokia phone and a few small cars.
Before we left I found some small Winnie the Pooh pop up books that I picked up for Anakin for the trip. They proved to be really good. As did a book about animals with some small flaps Anakin could open. I used these mostly during take off when Anakin needed to sit still on my lap something he wasn’t all that happy to do without distractions.
5. Help your kid reduce pressure on the ears during take off and landing
It’s easier for us who can just pop our ears ourselves, but even so it’s pretty uncomfortable. I’ve always thought the descent was worse than the take off. For Anakin we tried to have a bottle of water with a straw and some chewy snacks like muesli bars or sultanas on hand for the take off. Sucking or chewing helps ease the pressure on the ears. If you breastfeed, pop ’em on the boob, or if they take a dummy, give them that. For the descent Anakin would prefer to breastfeed and would seek it out as the pressure got too much for him. Breastfeeding also kept him calmer and would more than often put him to sleep (leaving me as a human dummy.) Whatever works!
6. Bring extra (comfy) clothes for your kid, some slippers and an extra top for yourself.
You never know when an accident will happen and I know I’d hate to travel for a long time wet. We brought two pyjamas and an extra long sleeve bodysuit for Anakin next to the clothes he was wearing. We kept it light and soft. We also brought his growbag for when it was time for sleep. Anakin’s feet swelled a bit just like ours, so we kept him in slippers for most of the trip. We have little socks that have a slipper base on them, they’re fantastic.
7. If traveling with a partner, lean on them and take shifts
I’m cursed with not being able to sleep on planes. Anakin was very dependent on me for the journey, but whenever possible my partner would take Anakin for a bit so I could get some rest. Even five or ten minutes works wonders. During our flight to Frankfurt we were blessed with stewardesses who loved Anakin and would come by and play with him for a few minutes whenever they could. We were so grateful for the break. This wasn’t the case on any of the other stretches unfortunately. We would also take turns eating. Ask them to hold one meal and then swap once one of you has finished.
8. Most importantly: Don’t expect too much and roll with the punches
Kind of self-explanatory, I guess. We gave up on expecting Anakin to sleep when he normally does immediately. He was just a bit too big for the bassinet and was less comfortable sleeping for longer periods on our laps. I’d advise to bring a pillow to put underneath them when they sleep. It evens everything out and if you’re stuck in seats where the armrest doesn’t come up like we were, it makes it a bit more comfortable for them to sleep. And less hot as it puts a layer between you and them.
The journey is full of new sights and sounds and of course they’ll want to take as much if it in as possible. Just go with it and know that if (or when) the shit hits the fan, be it in an airport, a security check point or on a plane, you’ll get to where you’re going eventually. Breathe, count to ten and know that most parents around will understand what you’re going through.
That’s all I can think of in my hazy jet lag, but if you want to add anything, please feel free to do so in the comments!
All in all, Anakin did great, well above any expectations, but I’d be lying if I said I wanted to do it all again any time soon. 🙂
I love the Australian landscape. We took you location scouting to Laughing Waters and you were a little Norwegian bear roaming the Australian bush.
Ben Salter played a gig at our friend’s house during his backyard tour. It was your first ever concert. Ben was mightily impressed by your name and your hats, you were fascinated by his music for a few minutes and then found an open door somewhere.
Come here, let me hug you and tell you all my secrets.
First time finger painting. Just as I said “I’m impressed he’s only gone for the paper”, your hands found a new canvas on your head and your face. Just as they’re supposed to.
After winter set in summer came back to visit us for a brief couple of days. We made the most of it and threw off our woollen beanies and thick jackets, and soaked up the sun.
In a few short days we’ll be packing our bags and heading to the other side – of the planet, for 3 weeks. After about 35 hours of
torture traveling we will exit plane number three and plant our feet on Norwegian soil.
Oh how exciting? Yes!! And… a little bit… No.
It’s been 4 years since I went back to visit the motherland. The last time I had the total of 1 day to just go with the flow, no plans, no stress, and it was the day I came out of the hospital after surgery. This time we’re going as a family, and introducing Anakin, which adds a whole other circle of hoops to jump through.
Don’t get me wrong, it will be absolutely wonderful to see friends and family, of course it will, but it will be a marathon. And absolutely exhausting. Between what we want to do, what we have to do and what’s expected of us, there’s not much, if anything, left.
This time we have had to write down a daily schedule, every day is divided between our two families (and the very occasional friend here and there), and every single day is planned. Where to sleep, who to see, what to do. We’ve done this to reduce the amount of stress on ourselves and prohibit as much tension as possible. I am certain it will be the best thing we ever did in preparation.
Besides the obvious stress factor, the unknown of flying with a toddler, the potential horror of dealing with a jet lagged kid out of his routine (and one who is so totally dependent on it for smooth sailing), my need to continue my research and thesis writing, and my partner’s work, there are some absolute gems waiting for us, both in form of people and places.
We’ve lined up some escape time at family cabins where all we’ll do is eat, drink, fish and run around in the woods and surrounding nature. Definite winner. I can’t wait to sit down in the sun with no cars, no tv, no phone and just breathe. We’ll be taking some of our very best friends with us there, both from Norway and from Australia. I’m so excited about this I’m all giddy. We’ll be going to see wolves and lynx, stuff our faces with the world’s best strawberries and eat until our buttons pop. There might even be some swimming if the water is nice. Anakin can run around in the buff and discover his pagan viking heritage.
I’ll finally be seeing a very special someone I haven’t seen in 7 years, which I can’t even begin to explain how happy makes me. Then there’s catching up with siblings, friends, new babies, new family members, grand parents, parents, aunts and uncles, and even going to a concert or two.
Will it be wonderful? Yes! Will we need a holiday once we get back? Yes!
But first there’s a whole lot of organising and packing to do. Oh how I loathe packing. I can never figure out exactly what to bring and I always bring heaps of things I never use.
Anyone got any handy tips for traveling long distance with a (walking) toddler? Things to bring for the plane, advice for baby jet lag or just a few comforting words of wisdom?
Since having you I’ve changed in so many ways. My awareness of how what I say or do effects you grows bigger with every day. And the way you look at me changes how I see myself. (Read my reflections on self-image here.)
One day soon you’ll find the words to tell me what you’re thinking about. I can’t wait to hear all the things you have to say.
Your love for old Quincey is so adorable, and to him so overwhelming.
By next summer your feet will reach the pedals on your trike. Some days I look at you and all I see is my baby, and other days all I see is my boy who suddenly looks so big.
I’m sure you two will make good friends very soon. You just need to learn that Quincey is not for sitting on, planking, kicking or hitting. All he needs is love, all you need is patience.
When you were a baby I used to think you looked more like me than your pappa. As you grow older I think you look more like just you, with the best from both of us.
Sometimes I miss how easy things were before you mastered the art of walking and running. Everywhere is more exciting than just where we are, there’s always something to explore around the next corner.
It’s only fair that you should get to brush your pappa’s teeth when he gets to brush yours.
You’ve discovered that there’s someone in the house you’re bigger than. An added bonus is that he’s fluffy and cuddly, but you need to be gentle.
Another night, another successful mexican (dinner) face.
This is Anakin, 17,5 months old, and these are a few of his favourite things.
“Anakin, what’s your favourite food?”
“Uhmm.. I guess a close second would be salmon, quinoa, avocado and that vegan mexican thing you make. Or any mexican thing you make. My favourite sandwich is cream cheese, avocado, lemon and tomato. Oh and your garlic dressings. I love them. Actually I like pretty much everything homemade and full of flavour. ”
“What’s your favourite music? Do you have a favourite song you like to dance to?”
“I have several songs I really like, but my favourite band is Alt-J and their best song is “Dissolve me”. It used to be “way down in the hole” by Tom Waits. And I’m getting really into Queens of the Stone Age, not their new album, but their old stuff. I agree with pappa, their new album is self-indulgent.”
“What’s the best thing in the world?”
“Boobie!! You really can’t beat boobie. You can try, but there’s nothing better. Boobie rules the world! Give the people more boobie and you will have world peace.”
“Other than boobie?”
“Uhm…I like planking one of my cats, Quincey, trying to eat cat food, emptying drawers and reading books. I love books. Books are my favourite. I also like figuring out what you don’t want me to do and then doing that. I figure if you don’t want me doing it, it must be worth doing.”
“uhm.. well that certainly explains a few things. Tell me about your favourite book instead.”
“It’s The Terrible Plop. It’s a good one. I like it when all the animals run away because they’re scared of that apple that made the big plop sound when it fell in the water. Oh and I love pop up books, especially the alphabet pop up and the monster pop up. You’re a good mum because you buy me books.”
“Do you have a favourite toy?”
“You mean except books? Because I already told you books are my favourite.”
“Yes, except books.”
“My favourite would be a computer or an iPhone, but you never let me have any of those, which is really unfair. I could be the new.. what’s his face… Bill Gates or that Steve Jobs, and you wouldn’t even know it because you ban me from all things screen.”
“There’s a good reason for that.”
“We’ll get into that later. You’ll thank me when you’re older. So, you don’t have a favourite toy except books?”
“I guess I like balls. And cars. And chalk, chalk is good. oh and that thing you put on your lips. I like that. And keys. Keys are really good. Your handbag always has good things in it. And buttons, anything with buttons.”
“And do you have a favourite song you like to sing?”
“I like to sing the hokey pokey, but swap all the words for boobie. And I like Bæ, bæ, lille lam (Ba Ba Black sheep). I’m getting really good at that one. Mostly I sing it because you think I’m really cute and when you do I usually get something I want without having to cry.”
“But crying in itself doesn’t give you anything.”
“It doesn’t? What about when I kick and scream? Does that work?”
“What works then? How do I get my way?”
“Well, it’s not as easy as that.”
“Well, I do know that if I just cry for boobie enough eventually you give me boobie. So that works. And you know my slogan, the best things in life are BOOBIES! Winner!!”
I was going to write a post about how Anakin is discovering his own will, that he wants things a certain way and what sort of battles that brings with it, but then something happened yesterday. We had one of those near perfect days. We were just on the same wavelength. And I was left with a bit of perspective that made me reconsider. Why focus on what’s difficult when you can relish in what’s really good?
I guess it started the night before. Anakin has hit the 18 month sleep regression, or so it would seem. He’s restless and struggling at night. His emotions run high during daytime, and his understanding and vocabulary is exploding. I had just gone to bed when he woke up. As I realised I wasn’t going to be able to settle him back in his own bed and I felt myself starting to get annoyed, I stopped for a moment. This was nothing to get annoyed about. Where would I rather he sleep? With me. What would I rather be doing? Making sure he felt safe and was ok. I put him in bed with me and we were on and off all night.
After Anakin has his morning feed I get to go back to sleep for a while. It’s usually the best sleep I have because I know he’s taken care of by his pappa. But that morning I kept waking up to the sound of his crying. I knew they weren’t having a good one and that Anakin was off after the night he had. I came downstairs just before my usual time, gave Anakin a feed (he’s now demanding boobie has soon as he sees me) and took him back upstairs to his room to put him down for his nap. I kept thinking “I’ve heard you. I feel you. Don’t worry, I see you.” He fell asleep in my arms as he always does and I went back downstairs after putting him in his bed.
When he woke from his nap it was like he had reset. We were just in tune. I did some work on one of my trolls for a shoot coming up while he did some finger painting. It didn’t last very long, but we both enjoyed it.
I told him we had to go take a bath which made him happy and excited. His hair was full of paint and it needed a wash. Anakin hates washing his hair. He’s terrified of getting water in his face without being able to control any of it. I can relate, I was the exact same way. I put him in the bath tub and quickly showered myself. I then picked him up and washed his hair without any issue. If he’s in my arms and we make a game of it, everything is ok. By that stage the bath was pretty full so we sat down for bit. I laid back and Anakin laid down on top of me. He was calmer than I’d seen him in a long time. He was so serene. He fed for a bit, cuddled and just laid there like he did when he was a newborn. He sang me a few songs and stroked my hair. His singing kills me, I can’t think of anything sweeter than his little voice singing to me. I thought “I wish we could capture this very moment”.
As we were getting dressed I started to talk to him about what our plans were for the rest of the day. Inside I was starting to dread the fight that would come when we got to the point of leaving the house. I told him we were going out, that he needed to sit in his pram and that we were going to see some trains and go to a shop. We shared a snack while I kept preparing him for what was coming. Anakin hates getting in his pram. It’s a battle where I physically need to force him in. To him pram equals nap and nap equals something he doesn’t want, despite always calming down and falling asleep.
I dressed him and picked him up. He was still eating his snack and happily sat down in the pram without so much as a whinge. I thought “wow, this won’t last. Here comes the blanket fight”. I put his blanket over him and got the rest ready. He just sat there babbling, happy as larry. I praised him and kept talking about what we were doing. We left, saw a couple of trains and went to the shop. Then is was time for the afternoon nap. “Here goes. Here comes the end to this near perfect day.” I pulled his blankets up and told him it was time for a sleep now, gave him a kiss and laid him down. He yawned and looked at me. No tears, not tantrum. After walking for a while he fell asleep where he usually does, half way through the park.
Today wasn’t quite the same, but it didn’t have to be. It was close enough. I always see my son, but yesterday I made sure I saw him, all day, not just for moments here and there. I saw things from his perspective, took the extra time to tell him what was going on and to just be with him. We read every book in his book shelf, we played all his favourite games and spent the day in love instead of in a rush.
There will be more days like that. And I’ll do my best to remember that when things get rough.
Lou Reed’s Perfect day (with some random slideshow)
A walk after dinner, exploring the neighbourhood and doing some train spotting. (See the rest of the series here.)
Your “I love Mexican” face. It gets me every time. A face full of black beans, guacamole and salsa, and a smile as bright as the sun. What’s not to love?
You were waiting for the train to pass. You’d heard it in the distance. You didn’t know it, but you had this special look on your face. I pressed the shutter knowing that I had captured something pure.
“Let me show you where the dummy goes.” You sit down to help your friend put the dummy back in his mouth. A cuddle and a pat on the back and you reckon he’s good to go.
The look of awe on your face when we took you to see the penguins at the aquarium. I want to remember that glowing look forever. You were so excited, pointing and laughing. For ten minutes it was the best thing you’d ever seen. Then you discovered a door that went nowhere.
In a sea of blue there is you. A little big man, exploring a new jungle, mapping out new territory.
Having a bit of a sand drink. They say it’s dry and earth-like. You give it 4 out of 5.
Sunday football with the Spartans. Your uncle Bubbles holding you up so you can see what’s going on out on the pitch. So many boys! So much happening!
That look that says “But why can’t I take all your stuff out of the drawers? You keep all the good things in here. Credit cards, keys, oh I love keys. Headphones, receipts, pens, sunglasses… Have you seen how those sunglasses bend? Let me show you… ”
Tiny dancer in the alleyway, floating on air, dancing in the dark.
Yes, I made more overalls. I love overalls and I love corduroy. I have a feeling my little man can expect to wear a lot of overalls.
These fit great. I adjusted the length and added some ribbing. As with the last ones, they’re fully lined.
This time I figured I’d jazz up the outside a bit by using the lining fabric on the outside of the pockets.
Overalls are such good pants to wear for playing. Yep, it’s official, we love overalls.
I have the best view from up here when I look down at you holding my legs asking to be picked up. I have an even better view when I pick you up.
You, me and a purple toy car at the playground. We all go down the slide, roll in the grass and soak up the sun.
You keep amazing me with your love of good food and the variety of what you eat. As long as it’s fresh, wholesome food packed with flavour you’ll eat it. You are truly a joy to cook for.
I love old photo booths. The tangibility of the whole process from capture to print. The streaks and smell of the chemicals, the odd spots and discolouration. I remember how exciting I thought having my photo taken in one was when I was younger. I hope that by taking you to have ours taken together as often as I can we’re extending the life expectancy of these soon to be relics while also creating some different photographic keepsakes for ourselves.
You’re king of the castle, ruler of the household, captor of my heart.
It’s the worst feeling. The aftermath of the angry mummy. The mummy who just had enough, who for a few moments couldn’t hold on, just couldn’t hold back. The tired mummy, the hungry mummy, the mummy who has done everything under the sun to make him happy, to get him to sleep, to fulfil his every need.
The mummy who used a loud voice, wore a scary face and made him cry. The mummy who fills with remorse and sadness, fills with self loathing. The mummy who is supposed to be the safest haven, the mummy who collapses and hates herself.
“How could you make him cry? Why couldn’t you just hold it in? Why did you do that? WHY?! YOU TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE MUMMY!!”
There is not much I dislike more than the aftermath of anger and frustration, other than the anger and frustration itself. Particularly when it’s aimed at my son.
We’ve just had one of those days. He’s had one of those days. The kind that started at 5am, the kind where he’s just unhappy and I can’t figure out why. The kind where he cries and cries a lot, no matter what I do.
I knew there was something up and that it probably wasn’t the best idea ever to take him to the shopping mall and hope to combine grocery shopping with afternoon nap with the day we were having. We’d already been through the mill a few times. Deep down I knew bad would only become worse. Yep. Stupid mummy. He cried and squirmed in the pram once there for what seemed like forever, we gave up and gave in, got him up and thought “this is bad news”. He was obviously not looking fresh or like someone who could go without his nap. While Anakin clung to me for bare life I sent my partner to do the shopping while I took him to buy a new pop up book (because he really deserved a new book today of all days…) and sat down on a bench to read it. I hadn’t had any lunch, I was hungry and thirsty, but as long as Anakin was happy it was ok. And he was for about ten minutes.
There was some big sale on at the mall and people were swarming like ants to a juicy garbage can. I tried to let Anakin walk around, but all he wanted to do was to run away, and dragging a pram after me while dodging people and watching him just didn’t work. I picked him up and all hell broke loose. Again.
I became the mother with the screaming kid. The one that just stands there holding her child, seemingly cool while the kid kicks, squirms and screams and carries on…and on…and on…and on. The whole day was peaking at that very moment.
I called my partner. “Are you done yet?! The captain is having a major meltdown. I’m dying here!”
People were staring. About a quarter of them with that look that says “I feel your pain, honey. Been there, done that. You’re doing great.” The rest with eyes of blame and annoyance. “What a terrible mother are you just standing there holding your child while he screams?” “Would you shut him up already? I’m trying to be a consumer over here!”
I wanted to scream. I could feel myself slipping. I murmured under my breath “please stop, please, just stop it.” My partner was at the register. I headed over, Anakin finally stopped. There was a statue of a dog there, i put him down so he could play with it. My partner needed to go to the vegetable shop. We followed and hopped into a plane ride for kids. He was content. My partner returned. I said “you grab him, I’ll take the groceries.” Cue more screaming.
We finally made it to the car and got out of there. It was way past nap time. I closed my eyes and my heart started sinking. I felt terrible. My eyes were stinging. I kept them closed. “Don’t cry, just please don’t cry.” I did anyway. Just a little, very quietly without anyone noticing.
It was the worst feeling.
I’m only human. I’m not this superior, I can take anything, all day and I’ll never ever get angry or lose my temper mummy. But my humanity hurts, it hurts when it makes the person I love the most cry. He’s so little, he doesn’t understand what he’s really doing or why I get mad. And afterwards all I want to do is to hold him, tell him I’m terribly sorry and that mummy will never ever get angry again.
But she will.
And it will be the worst feeling.
I just had to share this photo with you before I switch off and put my face in some wine, chocolate and cheese for the night. It cracks me up every time I look at it and sums up our kid so well.
Happy Friday, folks!
I’ve recently gotten this thing for cooking when I feel overwhelmed, confused or have a bad day. Yesterday was such a day. I didn’t cook anything, but today I felt like I needed to do something to put myself back over the bar.
I’ve been looking for an easy recipe for healthy toddler muesli bars for a while, and today I found one. It’s easy, takes no time and is yummy (and healthy) for small tummies.
I’m fairly strict about what goes in to my son, but I feel these deserve to pass and get my stamp of approval. I found the original recipe here over at Healthy Happy Mama, but I couldn’t resist changing it to better suit what I was after.
If you make these for a baby under 12 months, skip the honey and use mashed banana instead*, chop the fruit well or skip that too, and make sure you’ve tried peanut butter in a small amount previously to avoid any allergy surprises.
* “Honey can contain spores of a bacterium called Clostridium botulinum, which can germinate in a baby’s immature digestive system and cause infant botulism, a rare but potentially fatal illness. These spores are usually harmless to adults and children over 1 year old, because the microorganisms normally found in the intestine keep the bacteria from growing.” (Source Babycenter.com)
My recipe is as follows:
2 cups rolled oats
1 medium grated apple
2,5 tbs peanut butter
1/4 cup honey
1/2 mashed banana (alternatively you could use 1/2 cup honey, or 1 whole banana. I went half and half to still have some sweetness, but reduce the sugar)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 – 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste (I eyeballed it)
a handful of raisins
a handful of chopped, dried apricots
Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees (Celsius). Mix all the ingredients. I lightly whisked the eggs before adding them. Pour into a 9×9 inch (not sure the measurements on mine to be honest) baking tin lined with baking paper. Smooth and press to compact before baking for 20 minutes until the edges go lightly brown. Leave to cool before cutting into bars. Makes about 16-20 small bars (depending on size). Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
These aren’t hard like biscuits, but a bit chewy and slightly crumbly. Anakin gives them two thumbs up. I can’t wait to try some more variations of these soon.