Remember December

Goodness, goodness me. I’m going to forge ahead as if I hadn’t just, once again, abandoned my blog for a few weeks.
I apologise for all phone pictures – Devin broke the on/off switch on my proper camera a month ago and I haven’t had it fixed yet.

Devin was not terribly interested in Christmas – when we put up the tree, he ran away and left me to put it together myself, and then when it came to decorating it, he sat underneath like this and played with the one light-up bauble that he has been enamoured with since he was four months old.

I made this felt tree to try to make things a little more interactive and exciting, but he didn’t play with it. At all.

We’ve had gross, suffocating heat over the past month. Very little rain, few breaks in the high temperatures. Before Christmas, I’d feel smug that we had entire sports fields to ourselves while everyone was busy shopping, but we’d all be dripping with sweat after ten minutes and would end up skulking back to the cool retreat of shopping centres, anyway. I stopped to take a group shot after one of our run arounds, and…

I don’t handle heat well. With temperatures in the high 30s and low 40s (Celsius), I’ve given up on the exercise routine I was doing so well with. I feel sick a lot, and my hair is driving. me. nuts. I have to put it up to get it off my neck, but wearing even the loosest ponytail gives me a pounding headache. I can’t afford a haircut at the moment, and I’m starting to contemplate just chopping it all off myself. I prefer my hair longer, but this is painful. (And that’s not purposeful ombre or balayage colouring – that’s just the remains of when my hair was red. Sigh.)

Speaking of hair, Jene’s is super long now. Longer than mine at its longest, I believe. We shaved it all off around January 2009, and it hasn’t seen a pair of scissors since.

I entered a competition on the lmnop magazine blog to win a nanoblock pack… and promptly forgot about it. A couple of weeks later, I received this package in the mail. Being close to Christmas, I wondered how I had accidentally ordered all these nanoblocks (and how on Earth I had afforded it). It took me about five minutes to realise where they’d come from. We gave the drum kit one to a local Christmas toy drive, along with some other things.

Devin finished his third term of music class, and held his record of never cracking a smile at anyone, ever.

I found a rather embarrassed Banana-sans-Pyjamas in the ravaged toy section of Big W.

Our Christmas gift to Devin was a doll (this one – it smells like vanilla and sweet things), a pram and some handmade doll nappies and blanket (made by a friend of Georgia of Documenting Delight). I asked Devin what he wanted to name the doll, he asked me for suggestions, and latched on to the very first name out of my mouth – Patrick. I regret it a little now, because although it was very nearly Devin’s middle name, I’ve come to associate it with Spongebob Squarepants. But, Patrick it is. I also made up the three little felt guys as a last minute addition.
My parents gave him a Slip n Slide and a trampoline (why yes, he is the first and only grandchild, how did you know…), both of which he was initially wary of. I had to show him how the Slip n Slide works, and then we resorted to just holding his hands and dragging him along it. The trampoline was still unassembled on Christmas Day – we showed him the picture on the box and said, “look, a trampoline!” and he responded with, “yeah, can I splash in the pond now?”

My sister gave me this sign, which is pretty much the perfect expression of how I feel about my life.

I managed to see the very last glows of sunlight on Christmas Eve.

And finally, on New Year’s Eve, I rediscovered a nursery that I’d forgotten about, and found that it had become a lovely, peaceful place to wander around, have a coffee and let Devin play.

Although Devin was not happy when Jene place him atop this stump.

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Devin is not and has never been very interested in arts and crafts, despite my continuing efforts. If he spends five minutes painting or drawing, I consider it a success. So when I say that he played with these for half an hour, you can understand my awe…

Micador Glass & Tub Silky Twistaz, will you marry me? I think I can even look past the silly spelling in your name…
Unsurprisingly, these let you draw on glass and porcelain surfaces. They are so smooooth to draw with, and it all wipes off easily with a wet cloth when you’re done. Awesome? Yes.
I dare say the main appeal of them for Devin is that he is allowed to draw on something that isn’t paper… We’ve only used them on windows so far, but I think he would also enjoy them on a mirror and in the bath. (I would!)

But the best part? He drew his first ever recognisable person with them. Check out that hair! Nice.
At $10 for a packet of five, they’d be a great ‘stocking stuffer’. I found them at our Big W, and they’re available from various online stores, too.

(I certainly wasn’t paid by anyone for this post, I just really like these markers.)

Up

A few weeks ago Devin came with me and my mum to Kites For Kids Day, an annual event held by Early Childhood Intervention Australia. For $2, we were given a kite, string, tail streamers, and stickers, and set loose on the fields. Overall, Devin was more interested in the food we brought than flying the kite, but I had a great time – my general impression was that most of the parents there were having as much, if not more, fun than the kids. It seems to be kind of a lost pleasure.
We’ve since taken the kite out a few more times on our own, and it’s standing up remarkably well (though it did get a bit battered during our last outing on an especially gusty day). Devin’s not fixated on it or anything, but he likes holding the string and running with it. My recommendation is still that every household should have a kite.
Oh, the black and white photo is by Devin. He’d changed the setting himself. I was impressed when I found it.

Dev bits

I recently decided to try my hand at geocaching, and since there was a cache hidden not far from our house, I quickly drove to find it during Devin’s nap one day (while Jene was at home).
I did find it, but, oops, I also locked my keys in the car and had to walk home. When Devin woke up I gave him some mixed nuts and told him we were going for a walk to get the car. He took it to mean I’d lost the car and we were going to find it, and when we drive past the place he still points out that that’s where we ‘found’ the car.

Despite a sudden and inexplicable fear of playgrounds, Devin seems to have no fears at all when it comes to climbing on the many piles of wood in the yard… The first time he did it, he told me, “I’m climbing because I’m an elf.” Then he continued to repeat, “I’m an elf, I’m an elf, I’m an elf” as he clambered about. Where did that come from? I have no idea. I can only assume the knowledge gained during my intense obsession with Lord of the Rings was assimilated into my genes and passed on to Devin.

We got new neighbours earlier this year – a family with three young boys. Sometimes they talk and play with Devin through the fence, but usually only briefly because we have to go or they have to go (though we did pass him over to have a proper play recently).
Devin likes to push this paint roller around, and on that day after he’d come to check in with me during his solo playing, he told me, “I just go back over and wait for the boys. My roller will make them happy.”
They weren’t home, but he waited there for a good ten minutes. It absolutely melted my heart.

This is what he did when I asked him to smile. So, there’s that…

One of Jene’s gift choices for Devin’s birthday was a Stomp Rocket Junior, and what a good decision it was. Such a simple concept and lots of fun.

For all of us.

And yes, since you asked, I do have video of Devin using it…

Devernaut

Let’s skip any Christmas recaps, shall we? I’ll go straight to this.

This is a Bilibo. We gave one to Devin, along with two mini Bilibos. What do you do with it? Anything you want. That’s why I bought it – the thought of single-purpose, limited-age-range toys make me cringe.
So far it’s been used as a helmet, a step, a jumping platform, a tunnel for trains and cars, a seat, a spinning seat, a pretend mixing bowl and a skate park for a plastic egg. But, despite all that, when I see it convexly like this –

All I can think of is this –

Juggernaut from the X-Men universe.

Yes, it probably looks more like a goofy smiley face, but when Devin pulled it out of the box, the Juggernaut was the first thing I thought of, and now I can’t unthink it.

Next time on, When Geeks Become Parents – How many graphic t-shirts are too many for a two-year-old? plus! Adverbs and You – Why your child is never too young to learn!

Like a record, baby.

As mentioned, Devin’s birthday gift from my sisters was a swing from this site.

What can I say except that he loves it?

I had the romantic idea in my head that it should hang from a tree. How delightfully free and natural!

There are hundreds of trees on this one acre block, and do you think that any of them grow in a way that is conducive to my bohemian fantasies?

Actually, there is one… It would have been perfect, except that the big branch hangs over a garden bed and reaches over the roof of the veranda. Each swing was accompanied by a crash on the corrugated tin roof, and I can’t say that my vision of swinging in the serenity of nature involved loud, percussionist trees.

(Can I just talk about Devin’s obsession with apples? He is obsessed with apples. There’s one in his hand right there! Every time he sees the fruit bowl he points and asks, “appah? appah?”, and consequently he eats at least one a day. And he does eat it – almost the entire thing. This is to say nothing of all the other kinds of fruit he eats throughout a day… I find myself saying things like, “you’ve had enough fruit – have some cheese!” which just seems crazy to me.)

The swing was an instant hit with Devin. The location was not a hit with us.

My parents had installed three hooks in the veranda ceiling years ago when the area was being finished – two for a hammock and one for a swing chair that I had. The swing chair has long been out of use, so the novelty aeroplane made from recycled beer cans came down and the new swing chair went up.

The thing about this swing is – it spins. Easily.
And the thing about me is – I get motion sickness. Easily.
Before I started driving, I would feel nauseous in the car during a five minute drive into town.
I’ve also been car sick while driving.
Yesterday, I was flipping quickly through a recipe book with quite large and close-up pictures of the food, and I had to stop because I started to feel ill. So you can imagine, I’m sure, how I begin to feel while watching Devin spin and swing over and over and over again. I’m actually feeling a bit queasy looking at these photos. I wish that was creative exaggeration.

He delights in the spinning, though, and can only be coaxed out of the swing with the promise of something equally enticing. Like an apple.

But really, the swing is fantastic – it’s not its fault that I have a sensitive inner-ear.

Swingz n Thingz have other suspended beauties, too, and my very favourite is this Rock-a-bye Cradle –

… Because I needed another reason to be Super Clucky.

I’ll finish with a video of Devin in full swinging action. I’ve only watched it once, for aforementioned reasons.

“But those toddlers… they don’t know how to play with us!” “They’re too young!”

Devin’s at a stage where he doesn’t really play with toys. He wants to do what the adults are doing, and since he’s currently cohabiting with five adults, he has a lot to choose from. I suppose if I were to name toys that he does play with, they would be the ones that he pushes. He has a lawn mower, shopping trolley, walker (I should really pack that away somewhere) and a wheelbarrow. Grandma and Pop bought him the mower and wheelbarrow because he loves ‘helping’ them outside in the yard. He also has a little shovel which today he apparently used to help dig up a tree.

The mower drives me completely insane. Despite the fact that we deliberately assembled it incorrectly so that it wouldn’t make the ‘realistic’ engine noise (made by a little plastic clicker), it’s still very loud. I try to keep it outside, but it often sneaks its way back in. The shopping trolley – not much better. He gets frustrated and throws it, and that is annoying, too. The trolley itself is good, though – it’s metal, red and blue and yellow. Devin started playing with it at Uncle Pete’s toys, and we figured, hey, a shopping trolley that isn’t pink and is $30? Sold. I took it with us to Target one day – things were going well for the first, oh, ten minutes. Then I had to get a big trolley to carry both Devin and his trolley.

So, Devin might not be terribly interested in toys, but I still am.

Uncle Goose blocks – $62 + canvas bag $11 @ Flying Fox Studios

I’ve been wanting these blocks for a long time now, and I also think the Chinese and hieroglyphic sets would be nice. It actually took me a while to find a way to potentially get them – Amazon is notorious (at least to me) for not shipping things to Australia, and these were no exception. The online Australian stockists I found had them for at least twice the US price (making the total cost with shipping well into $100). Eventually I found them here for an acceptable price. They will be mine. Oh yes, they will be mine.

 

Wooden lock box – $68 @ My Wooden Toys

This is one of the most perfect toys I’ve ever seen. Devin would love it. I don’t know what else to say about it.

 

Small Cubebot – $25 @ Areaware

I like this for the fact that it’s a robot, but it’s not plastic or metal like pretty much any other toy robot. Not that they’re bad – I just really like wood.

 

Le Toy Van Shanghai Warrior Pirate Ship – $110 @ Gifts 4 Kidz

Well, this is obviously a little out of his age bracket (and our budget) for now, but one day…

 

Rainbow nesting blocks – $50 @ Eco Toys

You know, it feels awkward for me to post these things, because I realise how ‘fashionable’ it is lately to buy only wooden and/or educational toys for children. I guess I just want to convey that I have been this way inclined for as long as I can remember, and the fact that my tastes are on trend (for now) just makes it easier to buy things I like. (I remember being thrilled in the early 2000’s when the floaty, peasant look was in fashion and I could buy cheesecloth tops and long skirts everywhere.)

 

Fruut storage sack – $38 each + tree – $295 @ Happy Little Hippos

I am a pretty tidy and aesthetically-driven person, and I’ll be honest – the thought of mismatched tubs and baskets of toys around the house makes me grimace. Well, it’s not just a thought – that is the storage situation for Devin’s things at the moment. I’m not sure if I would choose this solution, actually – at the very least, I would never be able to afford it all. (I nearly died when I saw the price.) But I thought it was good idea.

 

Automoblox C9 red sportscar – $50 @ Happy Little Hippos

This is another thing I’ve wanted for a long time – since before he was born, I think. It requires assembly by the child, which is always great.

 

Micki tin cookware – $40 @ Happy Little Hippos

Devin loves sitting on the bench watching us (well, let’s be honest again – most often Jene) cook, and he’s frequently transfixed by cooking shows. These with a little stovetop and some wooden and felt food – awesome. I also like that these are not painted or decorated, which leads me to this…

 

Sparkle T toast time – $20 @ Happy Little Hippos

I don’t want to go into a discussion about gender roles and stereotypes, but let’s just say I’m not happy with the fact that most roleplaying toys, unless they are guns, are aimed at girls. Big W sells little toy kettles and toasters but, yep, they are all hot pink. Devin gets excited about our toaster and kettle, and I almost bought the toy kettle, despite it’s pinkness (it’s not like he knows the difference), but decided that he gets enough thrill from being allowed to push the button on the real one when someone wants tea or coffee.

I got excited when I saw this, but then realised that with it’s little flowers and love heart lever, it was yet another domestic toy targeted to little girls. And I’m not saying that that alone would stop me from buying it – I’m just saying, it’s annoying.

 

 

Hug-A-Planet Earth and Moon – $70 @ Urban Baby

Maybe I just want this for me.

 

FunDough essential oil play dough – $10 each @ The Hip Infant

I don’t really like when Devin wants to play with play dough, because it means he will want me to touch it, too, and I hate having smelly play dough hands. This would solve the problem.

 

Since I never know how to finish cleanly, here is a picture of Devin and his lawn mower.