Thursday, February 26, 2009

Monsters under the bed

Nic called me in this evening to bid him a goodnight after I had put Mietta down to sleep. A late afternoon nap meant that he wasn’t quite ready for sleep at bedtime. We had a little chat and the subject of ghosts and monsters came up. Trying to avert any possible sleeplessness due to the thought of monsters, I tried the friendly monster angle saying “Monsters are really cool. I like Cookie Monster” “Mum, he’s on Sesame Street”. “Yes,” I countered, “He is friendly. So is Grover - and he is cute” “But Muuuuum.... those monsters are on television” “Why? We don’t have monsters in our house?” I asked in disbelief “Suzie” Nic stated. “Suzie Monster?” I asked. “Yes” Nic replied. “So where is Suzie Monster?” I was intrigued. “Under my bed!” Nic told me - without any apparent fear. I’m now interested to know how long Suzie might be staying with us. 

The reason for Mietta’s pain - tooth number 2, presented itself this morning. Mietta is keen to move during her tummy time. She does a combat-type-crawl but is extremely frustrated at going backwards when she obviously wants to go forwards! 

Nic was hungry yesterday so went to the fridge to help himself to some lunch. He took out bottles of cornichons, pickled onions and mayonnaise. “This is all I need” he announced. 

Photo: A rare photo of me and the kids! 

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Robots and Spaceships

Today we finally celebrated Luc’s fifth birthday party. I had planned to hold his party a week earlier at the boy’s gym - but decided against this. I was thankful for that decision as Luc was really sick last weekend. Thinking that this might be the last time we could hold a party for a number of young kids indoors, I set about planning a house-bound, activity-type party.  
Luc wanted a Spiderman party. I was completely over superhero parties (we had hosted a Superman and a Batman party last year). I told Luc we could have a Robot Party. “A Spiderman Robot party?” he inquired “No. A generic, non-commercial, non-trademarked, spontaneous type robot party”. Luc looked a little confused. “With spaceships” I added. Luc’s face brightened. 

The boys helped me to tape together two long pieces of paper, attach it to the wall and decorate it with space images in readiness for a space mural for the party-goers to decorate. Luc filled in spare moments during the week adding some planets, black holes and a few images of robots and spaceships. This was a really good build-up for the impending party. 

Paul and I were tired from a function we (reluctantly) attended last night (Luc’s school fund-raiser). Despite this, we had to prepare for guests due to arrive at 10:30am. Mietta was super-unsettled. Suspected tooth number 2. We had to leave her crying as guests began arriving. After most of Luc’s guests arrived, Luc had a monumental meltdown precipitated by the suspension of presents. He was removed by Paul for a time-out / talking too. Nicolas lost it as well as he didn’t have any presents to be suspended. Time out for Nic. At this stage, we had a house full of guests whom we left to fend for themselves as we attended to our three screaming children. Great start we thought. 

As it turned out, the craft projects / activities were a great opportunity to change moods. We ended up with a very happy and involved host as the children decorated cookies. This was a very successful part of the party and all the kids had a go at mixing colour into icing, spreading it on and then decorating their cookies with abundant sprinkles and candy. It was a lot of fun. 

Paul popped out to pick up some pizza and we were surprised to see almost all of it disappear (we usually over-order and end up eating pizza for the rest of the week!) Must have had something to do with the super-cold weather outside. Time for blowing out candles and I brought out a robot cake. Luc and Nic had been ogling this for the last day: this was the reason for attaching bells to the refrigerator door as an early warning system.  Lack of morning-sickness and / or brand new baby saw me attempt another home-made cake. Half carrot cake, half banana cake, this cake was a great excuse for cream cheese frosting. Yum!

Thank you to Joseph, Finn, Anahera, Max, Meredith, James, William, little Kaia and parents for helping Luc celebrate his birthday. Poor Callan had to miss the party due to illness. 

Photo: Luc blows out his candles. 

Thursday, February 19, 2009


I watched the other day as Mietta looked intently at her hand and, one by one, furled and unfurled her fingers. Oblivious to Mietta, her other hand was going through the identical motions. Apparently it was a fascinating learning experience for her. It was just gorgeous: the absolute wonder of a baby learning the minutia of life. It made me feel sad for those that miss out on these small but momentous experiences. I remember once, a lady telling us how “rich” we were to have a child. No matter how impoverished we are, stuck in a seemingly permanent financial-reverse-gear, this statement comes back to remind me how incredibly lucky we have been to be able to have three great and healthy kids and have been able watch our children grow. Apart from those occasions where it drives us truly nuts, we are grateful that we haven’t had to outsource childcare to people that might enjoy it, but not appreciate the true magic and wonder of a baby learning, growing and appreciating the world. We are truly rich. 

We have further reason to be grateful as we follow the tragic news of the bushfires that have ravaged the state of Victoria in Australia. On Tuesday night, we attended a fundraising event for the Redcross Victorian Bushfire Benefit. A great turn-out of some 200 people (largely Australian) attended at fairly short notice. I was one of the raffle donors, donating a rum sum sum artwork for the cause. The big ticket item was a dinner for four at chef Art Smith’s home (former personal chef to Oprah). It went for auction at $5000. It was fun to watch two competing bidders come together in a little happy collusion to boost the bid price. Paul was lucky enough to attend a dinner at Art’s house - some 3½ years ago - for free! But that is another story. 

Our first-born Luc reached the big ol’ milestone of five years on the 11th. We are quite amazed that we have managed to get a child through to this age in life! The whole family went along to Luc’s school for a birthday ceremony. Following the same format as last year’s ceremony,  Luc circled a candle (the sun), holding a globe (the earth), passing through the months, starting and ending at February while his class sang “the earth revolves around the sun, tra la la and Luc turns... one”. Luc’s teacher then showed a photo of Luc at age one. This  was repeated for each year of Luc’s life. It is such a lovely way to celebrate one’s birthday. 

After a huge nappy blowout, Mietta celebrated by rolling from tummy to back today -obviously aided by a significant decrease in weight. 

Photo: Mietta post-bath at her grandparents house in Australia (January) 

Monday, February 9, 2009

Out of the fog...

...and into the mire! 

My friend Gabrielle commented that I should “be out of the fog” when we were discussing Mietta being 4 months old (she turns 5 months old today). This was such an apt description to try and explain the whole upsidedowness that a newborn throws ones life into. It is very easy to forget how perplexing a new life is, and how long it takes to begin to understand one another. It can be both pure hell and pure joy jumbled with abundant dirty nappies, a zillion small baby items needing washing, frayed nerves, unmet demands, a catastrophically messy house... made all the more bearable with the gorgeous baby smile and the time warp that ensues whilst one is absorbed in ‘baby gazing’. Do I want another baby? Of course! (Note: this euphoria will subside / vanish once Mietta begins to sleep through the night! I know this from past experience.) 

After putting so much effort into getting the boys into a feeding / sleeping schedule, I purposefully began with ‘demand feeding’ for Mietta. This was mainly due to our impending visit to Australia and the accompanying plane trips, altered time zones and the general craziness of travel. We returned to Chicago during mid January and I was eager to start Mietta on some sort of schedule to provide us with a certain level of certainty (and the ability to leave Mietta with a sitter!) Mietta, on the other hand, seems to have her own ideas and loves staying up late with Paul and myself - appearing to just want to hang out. The reason for a recent unsettled period became obvious when a tooth appeared in Mietta’s bottom gum at the beginning of February! 

Mietta is a very engaging and happy baby. She loves attention and is ready with a smile for complete strangers. My friend Polly describes her as “high on life”. Mietta is an absolute delight and we are so happy we have her in our life. Nic cannot go through a day without checking on Mietta constantly. He makes her laugh but can also make her cry when his attention gets a little overbearing. Mietta has the entire household wrapped around her little, teeny, cute finger. 

Nic comes out with some strange things at times. We were walking along the street last week. Nic was scrunching all the snow he could reach while I was trying to keep him motivated to continue in a straight line. He came out with “I want to go to China Mum.” “Why do you want to go to China Nic?” with the patently obvious answer “Because it is windy”.  His requests for sustenance are direct. “I want a sandwich Mum” Great, I was thinking, what a great food choice “OK. What sort of sandwich would you like?” He replied with a broad grin “An icecream sandwich. He he he!” And then: “I want a coffee Mum.” Incredulously I ask “You want a coffee?!?” “Yes.” Nic replies “I am a man and I only drink coffee”. 

Photo: Mietta and I take a self portrait