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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Gifted

I did publicly declare my ill-feelings towards Christmas only recently, but I do like finding interesting things to give. (From the safety of my own home.) Inevitably in my searches, I find plenty of things that I would like, too. So, here’s a list of products that have caught my attention and that may provide some inspiration, given the time of year…

Paint the Pond Jamtown Pack – $42.95 at Dragonfly Toys
Music and art in one? Yes! Devin’s music teacher gave him the frog to play with one day when we arrived early to class, to try to entice him out of his shell. She had a big one and a little one, and they sound fantastic. You stroke the ridges on the back with a stick, and it sounds like a real frog croak.

StickyGram magnets – $15 for a sheet of 9
If you use Instagram, this is a great idea. StickyGram makes your Instagram photos into magnets. Simple! Based in the UK, they offer free shipping worldwide, and I received my order quite quickly. Devin loved them so much that he pulled them off his bed frame during a nap and put them under his pillow.
Last date to order in time for Christmas is the 9th of December.

Jack n’ Jill Natural Toothpaste – $5.85
I have to be honest – I’ve only bought this once, and it has long since run out. (I just don’t like it when shipping is more expensive than what I’m buying…) But, Devin loved it. We tried the strawberry flavour, and there is also banana, blackcurrant, blueberry and raspberry.

Waldo Pancake tin – £6 at Really Good Shop
I am greatly amused by this. If ever there was a tin to represent my sense of humour, this would be it.

A Coloring Book for Big Kids by Phil Lewis – $19.95
This is saved on my wishlist. I am a big kid, and I want it.

Sega Toys Homestar Spa bath planetarium – US$105
A star projector for the bath. It can float upwards or downwards, and has two other domes for different moods. How great would this be for adults and kids? With the $45 shipping fee, though, it is a bit pricey.

Crochet rattle ball – $8.50 at MiracleFromThreads
For babies, cats, crochet-loving adult women who maybe spent a chunk of time browsing baby items on Etsy…
(The answer to the unspoken question is, no. I’ve just got a raging case of cluckiness.)

Rainbow Jelly Lego Men Soaps – $6.50 for 7 at Bubble Lane Soap
It’s a pretty good bet that if you have kids or know people with kids, you probably know someone who loves Lego. Actually, the kids aren’t even necessary. If you know people, you probably know someone who loves Lego.

Ladies Oaxacan Lace Blouse – $75 at Little Tienda
I love Mexican embroidery, but I don’t own anything like it. This Australian shop also has oh-so-nice serapes and girls’ dresses .

All About Me by Philipp Keel – $11.80 at The Book Depository
Basically, a book of questions to answer. “The wide-ranging questions–from short yes/no’s to open-ended ones that probe your psyche–are personal, direct, and addictively fun to answer.” I’d get one each for Jene and I. It could be interesting…

Merry Spending.

Recommended

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.)

Some words: Christmas blear

Today I’m pretending it’s not the H-word. I’ve spent the last two weeks trying to ignore it. Soon, I will be busy ignoring the ridiculous lead-up to the C-word. (Not that one.) Although to be honest, I’ve been doing that since mid-September. Yep. That early.

I’m tired of it all. I’ve said before that, having no beliefs in these areas, holidays mean nothing to me. They’re gaudy, drawn-out, over-commercialised circuses of mass consumption, and they make me horribly uncomfortable.
I know it doesn’t have to be that way for the individual, but being inescapably surrounded by it for months of the year makes me want to avoid all of it altogether. It’s, like, celebration fatigue. There are so many ‘special’ occasions, and they’re made into such productions, that I just don’t want any of it any more.
Maybe I need to start thinking of my own celebrations.

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!

Devin has been incredibly spoiled. So spoiled that even now, at 9pm on Boxing Day, he still has two unopened presents under the tree, after opening the majority yesterday and another two today. That’s what happens when the only grandchild also happens to live five hours away from Grandma and Poppy for most of the year.

I am extremely grateful for my parents’ generosity, to all three of us. I could say much more, but I’m reluctant to talk about gifts for much longer. With no religion and no desire to be religious, Christmas (as irrelevant as the name is to us) is basically left to be about food and presents (to those brought up in a christened-but-actually-agnostic family, in a Christian-majority country), and it’s nice to have a family to have that with.

It’s raining, I’ve had far too much chocolate (but I want more) and I’m not sure what we’ll do tomorrow. My mind isn’t relaxed, and I’m still anxious about a lot of things, but I feel very thankful.

And I’m President of the United States and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli.

Happy Christmas. It has been raining non-stop today, and it is fantastic. I’m in central west NSW, in summer, and I’m a little chilly. Outrageous!

It was Devin’s first Christmas, and unfortunately, he had a bad night beforehand, so he was swinging wildly between happy and grumpy all day. For him, it was a just a day where there was more crunchy paper than usual, and where he got to suck on some ham… perhaps the truest meaning of Christmas. This (the ham, not true meanings of Christmas) leads me to the purpose of this entry, which is solid foods. (Or, my baby wants more than milk now, and I am consequently torn between excitement and melancholy.)

About ten days ago, at the same time that we bought some solid food feeding paraphernalia, we picked up this Tommee Tippee Fresh Food Feeder.

Devin seemed interested in putting food in his mouth, but we weren’t sure how he’d handle ‘eating’, so this was a handy compromise. (Or there could be some underlying issue to do with laziness and pulping food myself, I don’t know.) (No, it’s probably not that. It really is handy.)

It is handy, but very messy. Obviously, being only four and a half months old, he hasn’t perfected that hand-to-mouth coordination, so we have to help him. He either holds the ring and we put the mesh to his mouth, or he mushes the mesh in his fist and tries to shove it in. Either way, he gets at least a taste of what’s in there. Banana was first. (“This is a strange, flavoursome thing,” said Devin, scrunching up his face. “But I just can’t stop putting it in my mouth! I guess I must like it.”) Watermelon was a few days later. (“Hmmm,” said Devin. “I’m not sure. I might be too tired to try this properly. I’ll just use it stain my bib.”) Then we put nectarine in it. (“Interesting,” said Devin, pulling the banana face again. “It’s kind of sweet, but kind of sour. Yes, I can abide this. I might eat it all.”) And he did eat most of it, by putting as much as he could in his mouth, then chomping down. Hard.

In amongst all this, he’s also been trying non-mesh-mushed food. Jene and Devin shared a plate of real leg ham, where Devin would gum and slobber on a piece of ham that Jene would valiantly finish before they moved on to the next piece. I wasn’t there, but today I saw first-hand the entusiasm with which Devin embraces a ham opportunity when I offered him some off my plate.

The kid likes ham.

A few days ago, I tried to offer him a small piece of banana out of my hand. He wasn’t having anything to do with it, so I put him on my hip and continued to eat the banana. Devin, apparently overcome by a sudden and premature sense of ownership, decided it was his banana, grabbed a piece of skin and shoved it in his mouth. Then he got both hands around the fruit and crammed it into his mouth. And kept going. He was making a huge mess, and chunks of banana were being flung far and wide, but he was loving it – he’d just wanted to do it himself.

We tried Farex, as an introduction to eating from a spoon, but it would never get past the back of his mouth. It was like trying to sink a ping pong ball. He hated the taste. This evening, we gave him some pureed pumpkin, potato and beef, which was much more successful. The ‘eating’ is (surprise!) not very efficient because he eats like he’s drinking a bottle. And after I managed to get some food in his mouth, he would shove his fist in there after it. But he seemed to like the taste. The rest is just (hopefully) practice.

Evidently, we’re not following any guide to feeding. We don’t have a paediatrician. I relay things I read or hear, but usually we’re just making it up as we go. Perhaps the salty ham isn’t ideal, and maybe introducing fruit first could make it more difficult to start vegetables. But clearly, we’re all having fun.

Liss