Category: Learning

Twinkle, twinkle, my little star

As predictable as it might be, the first song I taught Millie was Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

I was so pleased when it was the song that kick-started the Magical Music class at Habitots in Albert Park today.

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Groove is in the heart…

We did a trial class (regular classes start February 2) and Millie was entranced from the get-go.

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Memo to swim mums: it’s not Rio de Janeiro

Millie Moo has had a big couple of weeks.

She’s been lucky enough to have been cast in some photo shoots for some fabulous Aussie brands (more on that in a post very soon).

But photo shoots take time and take their toll on mini models, so we had to give her usual swimming lesson a miss last week.

Not wanting to waste the fees I’d paid, we were able to do a catch-up lesson on a different day and time.

Whoa.

Who knew a different class at the same swim school would be such an eye opener?

The class we attended was jam packed. ARRGGH. Millie was completely distracted by all the noise and the instructor zoomed through the usual drills just to ensure everyone had a go before time was up.

Not a good start.

But I knew I was in for a fun ride when I hopped in the pool and was Ring-A-Rosing beside A MODEL. I recognised her from catalogues, but the perfectly coiffed topknot, black string bikini, false lashes and super all-over tan was a dead giveaway this was not your usual new mum.

Don’t get me wrong, she looked fabulous. Especially beside my pasty blob of a bod. Even in my super cute new (one piece) bathers, I was no match for this glamazon of the pool.

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Ready to hit the water

After the uncomfortably cramped lesson, I was happy to be getting out of there (and thankful Millie’s usual lesson attracted no more than about 5 participants).

This was the next challenge. Getting out of the pool with a toddler is difficult. Making sure your swimsuit isn’t flashing boob, bum or tum is a mission while juggling floaties and a wet and wriggly baby.

But being discreet while clamouring out of the water should not have been a concern, for the change room was like a scene out of Police Academy.

Millie and I usually wander in and claim a shower before I dress her, then myself, with the help of a baby change table affixed to the wall.

On this particular day, there were two big kids hanging from the change table, rowdy kids sitting at the base of the showers playing under streams of water, prams with screaming babies pushed in the corners, bags/towels/clothes all over the floor and mums swanning around the room completely naked.

I get it. It’s a change room. It’s where wet swimwear comes off and dry clothes are put on.

But even I was unprepared. Millie and I were standing in the centre of the room. Dripping wet. Unable to reach my bag and towel or nab a hot shower. Surrounded by vajayjay.

We were in the middle of a nude merry-go-round.

These women must have been trying to impress one another. I have no idea what was going on. About 6 women were rudey-nudey at once and in absolutely no hurry to put it away.

The door was constantly swinging open, exposing their parts to everyone in the aquatic centre. They didn’t care.
Their own children were running amok. Young boys who had followed their mums in were staring.

One woman was standing naked in front of a foggy mirror BRUSHING HER HAIR. Proud of the fact that the hair on her head was the only hair on her body?

Another had stripped off and was bent over, fossicking in her bag.

One mum had at least put on a rather teeny, see-through G-string while continuing to dress her kids.

I’m no prude, but it was bizarre. I didn’t know where to look.

Am I the only one who uses a towel shield tied around my waist when taking off bikini bottoms? The only one who makes sure at least boobs or bum are covered when I’m in a busy change room? Mindful of trying not to flash other people’s school-age children?

I was almost convinced Ashton Kutcher was going to pop out of a cubicle to tell me I’d been Punk’d. He didn’t.

TELL ME: Am I being overly sensitive or do you think being discreet is good change room etiquette?

Itsy bitsy teeny weeny swimming girl

Millie made a splash today and had her first swimming lesson.

We booked in for the term with Brighton Swim School Aquatics and will go weekly for 10 weeks.

The classes at the centre are appropriate to a child’s age, development and ability.

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We’ll see how she goes, but I’d like to have her in swimming lessons until she’s proficient in the water, at the very least.

Apprehensive at first (not as apprehensive as her mummy was about getting into swimwear for the first time in 18 months – eeek), Millie was splashing about and giggling after 5 minutes in the pool.

The instructor said she was at a good age to start. Millie is 11 months and mostly understands what to do after some help or a demonstration (kicking her legs to make a splash, putting rubber ducks in a bucket).

Blowing bubbles in the water will take time, however. At the moment she is drinking it. Hmm. I really would like her to learn not to do that.

I didn’t learn to swim properly until I was at school (who remembers the Aquapass?). I don’t want that for Millie. It’s a life skill and I’m glad she’s testing out the water before she can walk or talk!

Millie and another little girl, Allegra, are the only two kiddies in the class.

It was so sweet to see my baby girl, who this time last year was still weeks off being born, discovering the joys of a swimming pool and trying something for the first time.

We can’t wait for next week.

Back off rude lady, I’m doing a stellar job

Today was a good day.

The sun was shining despite the winter temp and Millie and I headed off for a walk.

Mum and daughter gleefully going about their day – until an opinionated nosy parker decided to ruin it.

My hubby was called interstate on business for a few days, so I decided to go to a cafe with Millie for lunch to save myself cooking a big dinner for one.

In a high chair, Millie Moo played with her toys, ate the lunch I had brought along for her and sampled the eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes and toast from my plate. She was such a good little bub, happy to munch away and occasionally smile or wave to fellow customers as they passed through.

A journalist by trade, I relished the chance to read the paper while sipping a latte. How lovely. Well…

Millie started to grasp at the edges of the newspaper so I passed her the catalogue that was lodged in the middle. The shiny, crunchy paper kept her occupied for a couple of minutes as she waved it about and slapped it against the table.

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A woman, probably in her 60s, came over to tell me she used to give her kids the toy catalogues to look at. I smiled, thinking she was just being nice.

“I would never have given them that one though,” she continued.

Say what?

“You have to watch what you give them. I had to look twice at what she was holding,” she said.

Oh my goodness, I thought – have I given Millie a catalogue laced with poison? Was it covered in pictures of naked men? Had she grabbed someone’s book and was scrunching it up?

No. It was a Dan Murphy’s catalogue. Shock horror.

“She doesn’t know what she is reading,” I said to the woman, assuring her that Millie was still a long way off talking and walking let alone ducking off to the bottle-o.

“Well it won’t be long,” she said. “Naughty mummy.”

I was shocked, otherwise I would have come up with something witty to say.

It didn’t matter that Millie had a morning nap, was quiet, happy, warmly dressed, eating vegies or had a clean nappy on? Or that I had triple-sterilised her utensils, love her dearly and am a new mum still learning how the hell to be a good one?

I wish I had told her to mind her own business.

Millie didn’t see the pictures on the catalogue and even if she did, she doesn’t yet know what they are.

Most households have bottles of wine on display at home. We have a small collection in a rack in our lounge. It will be years before Millie realises they’re there.

I could count the number of alcoholic drinks I’ve had in the last 11 months on one hand (and none in the 9 months before that).

I don’t need to justify myself. I was just mad at this stranger judging my parenting after a quick glance.

Why do people of a certain age feel the need to be critical once you’re pushing a pram?

A girl from my mother’s group was chastised by a shop assistant for taking her 6 month old son into the supermarket bottle shop. She was getting a bottle of wine for guests that were coming for dinner that evening.

Other friends have had older people tell them their child needs warmer clothes/a hat/a sleep/all of the above while out with their baby. Those pregnant with their second or third have been told with raised eyebrows how tough they’re going to find it once the new bub comes along. Just a smile or “congratulations” would be nice.

I don’t get it. Why do some people only say negative things to mothers of babies – mothers who are probably running on minimal sleep and are pleased just to be out of their pyjamas and out of the house?

How about it rude lady? Next time you see a mum and her baby, how about telling her that her baby is lovely and remind her that she is doing a damn fine job.

If you haven’t got something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

Have you been confronted by people with opinions on how to raise your child? What did you say?

C’mon get appy

Who knew there is so much fun to be had on a mobile phone that doesn’t involve chatting to your mates, sending an MMS or shopping online?

It’s apps. They’re great. Besides your usual, EVERYONE must have apps (Instagram, Facebook, Urbanspoon, Shazam) there’s numerous pregnancy/baby/parenting ones that are as handy as a wet wipe.

Throughout my pregnancy I used Baby Bump. Enter your due date and each week there’s some info about what’s happening to you, how baby is growing (and strangely the size bub would be if it were a fruit or veg) and a countdown so you know how many days you have left before you’ll be able to see what you’ve been lugging around for 9 months.

It has tips and limited info, but I just liked to be able to peek at it every now and then. It was free and certainly added to my excitement about having a baby as each week my colleagues would ask me how big bub was. “It’s a grapefruit already? Wowsers!”

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There’s lots of similar ones out there and some can be quite involved, with space for your bump pics or the ability to connect with other mums-to-be.

Once we brought Millie home and I was in my ‘zombie cow’ state (half asleep and breastfeeding around-the-clock) I found the free app Baby Feed quite useful.

It charts how long baby fed for, on what side, how long it’s been between feeds and if you do a nappy change before/after a feed you can record if it was a poo or just a wee.

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I didn’t use it for long, but Baby Feed was good in the early days when you just can’t remember any details about anything. The only problem was this zombie cow often forgot to start or stop the timer. Never mind.

I continue to use The Wonder Weeks app after being told about it in one of my first mother’s group meetings.

The Wonder Weeks is a book written by an infant development expert from the Netherlands and has been condensed for use on an iPhone or android mobile.

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After entering your baby’s birth date (or corrected age in Millie’s case – she was prem and born 4 weeks early) it will provide a chart in weeks and indicate when your bub will go through a ‘leap’, or developmental milestone.

According to the author, leaps are when your baby’s brain is changing and so coincide with fussy periods your baby might have. So if bub is particularly sooky or miserable, it’s likely he or she is in the middle of a mental development phase.

It’s certainly interesting. The chart shows what stage your baby is at in terms of age and shows upcoming leaps with a solid line and indicates the weeks your bub might be fussy (storm cloud) or happy (sunshine).

Some mums look to the chart and dread the stormy periods because their bubs behave almost exactly as the chart predicts.

I didn’t really notice too many swings in Millie’s attitude to worry about the pending storm clouds, but it was great to read a summary of the leap as well as to learn what her new abilities would be and when we’d start to see her do them.

The app charts your baby’s leaps until they are 84 weeks old (Millie is about half way through).

Have you discovered any useful baby or parenting apps? Tell me what they are below.

Little fluff head knows what she wants

My girl is nearly 9 months old and all of a sudden I’ve noticed so many changes.

She has just started to sit up by herself. Some babies do it at 6 months, some a lot later. No-one was going to get Millie to sit until Millie was ready. She does it happily for a while now – until she gets tired and throws herself back…she’s going to learn the hard way that it’s not the way to lie down. Luckily mummy has been there to catch her so far.

She kicks her legs then plants her feet and lifts her bum (quite an advanced yoga move you’ve mastered there baby) to prevent me putting on a nappy/pants/sleeping bag. How they know that this is very annoying for the person dressing them is beyond me. No-one teaches them these ‘tricks’, but they pick it up so quickly.

Her eyes have gone from a deep blue to blue flecked with greys and greens. I could stare at her beautiful big eyes all day. My mum had beautiful big eyes, I’m sure it’s where she gets them from.

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She had lots of dark brown hair when she was born but it’s grown and turned a dark blonde, but getting lighter every day. She has lost the bald patch at the back. Her hair curls up and goes wispy after a bath and she looks like a baby chicken with fluffy feathers on the top of her head. Some mornings when I lift her from her cot I see a resemblance to Willy Wonka with wispy hair jutting horizontally from above her ears.

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She copies adults by ‘talking’ and ‘singing’ and has just discovered she can blink purposefully, either when mimicking us or looking at bright lights.

Last night Millie was holding two mini maracas while I prepared dinner. I took them out of her hands to give her food. She screamed.
This is clearly a girl who knows what she wants.
She wanted to eat too, just with maracas in her hands. Daddy gave her a maraca (not used to a crying baby like mummy is!) and she heightened the pitch. There were two maracas you see. She wanted both.

Dinner continued while our little musician banged and tapped and shook her new toys.

What the? How do you keep the peace without creating a mini Veruca Salt?

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It’s a fine line. I guess we’ll learn. You do the best you can.

She is learning and growing as we are learning and growing as parents.

There’s no time to sit and decide how you are going to tackle the challenges baby throws at you. It happens, you react. It’s just the way it is.

I’m sure she’ll turn out just fine.

Argh! My baby’s on nursing strike!

Millie did a very strange thing the other day.

She went on strike.

Strangely, she refused to feed. Flat-out just stopped. But she only stopped feeding from me. She still took a bottle, ate solids and had sips of cooled, boiled water.

Millie is almost 8 months old and until starting solids has been exclusively breastfed without incident.

She took to me well despite being prem and her sucking reflex was there from the day she emerged. We’ve been lucky. No hassles. I got over the initial breastfeeding nerves (who else struggled with the transition from only your partner seeing your boobs to every nurse, doctor, family member and friend copping an eyeful in those first days in hospital??) and persistence paid off. She’s happy, sleeps well and grows steadily.

But the strike really put me in a spin.

What is wrong with her? What’s wrong with me? Why doesn’t she like me? What have I done to make this happen?

Every time I held her in her feeding position in the crook of my arm, she arched her back, turned her head and screamed.

This lasted the best part of two days.

She was crying, so I did too.

Blubbering, I phoned the lovely volunteers on the other end of the Australian Breastfeeding Association helpline. It was suggested I try walking while feeding (she wouldn’t have a bar of it), feeding in the bath (don’t have one) or singing to her while feeding (poor kid, she was already upset). Anything to distract her somewhat.

Nothing worked.

It’s so hard when they can’t tell you why they are upset. I pulled out the dog-eared copy of Baby Love and the book said nursing strikes can happen for any number of reasons. Illness, teething, fright, weaning. It can last hours, days, weeks…or be permanent. The thought it could all be over made me all the more teary.

I’m aware she will be weaned eventually. That’s fine. BUT NOT YET. I’M NOT READY. It’s our thing. It’s cuddle time. It’s our bond. It’s me being her mum and doing what I think is best for my precious baby.

Don’t get me wrong, I look forward to the day when I don’t have to wear a bra to bed, buy breast pads or use a breast pump. But in the scheme of our lives, feeding my baby will only happen for such a short amount of time.

I expressed and fed Millie from a bottle while she was on strike. Luckily she slowly came back around (with the help of a dose of baby Panadol…teeth?) and wanted to breastfeed but it took patience and persistence.

She might do it again and that might be it.

But if she does I’ll be less shocked, more prepared and OK with it – if still a little weepy.

Has your baby been on nursing strike? How did it make you feel? How did you get through it? Please share your comments below

Dancing in the storm…and the Bumbo

Millie Moo, you’re so cute right now.

Millie is at that age where all she does is cute and funny and awkward and surprising.

I blew a raspberry the other day, demonstrating to someone what she had done during an entire car journey. She heard me and mimicked me.

She has started to curl her fingers and ‘wave’ when we say hello and wave to her. So clever this baby.

But yesterday, with one eye on Karl Stefanovic and the Today show and one eye on the fruit and oats I was feeding to my hungry bird, she did something I’m so very proud of.

She danced.

Yes, she was in the Bumbo and yes it was more nodding her head from side to side, but it was in response to music.

But it was the choice of song she decided to perform her first dance to that was one of my proudest moments.

It was to an old school tune from 80s/90s Aussie band Boom Crash Opera.

Here we go, here we go for one more turn
We can shake, we can shake the trees and earth
We can spin, we can spin and not fall down
Hold on tight, we can both become unwound
You and I, going out
And we’re dancing in the storm

My daughter has a fine taste in music. That’s a relief. Glad she didn’t start rocking out to Rihanna or someone equally as skanky.

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Bumbos are for sitting and dancing

Dale Ryder and BCO are mighty fine. About 4 years ago a group of girlfriends and I went to see them play at the Corner Hotel in Richmond. Best $25 we ever spent. In our late 20s we were probably the youngest in the room, but what we lacked in age we made up for in enthusiasm. Dancing in the storm was the highlight. Love that song.

So Millie’s transformation into a mini version of her mummy is in progress. Something tells me the dancing is the easy part.

For those who’d also like to check to see if their child has a fine taste in music, or if mummy wants to re-live a snippet of her youth, here’s the Opera in their heyday. You’re welcome.