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Last week I ordered my little girl her first pair of shoes. These shoes are made by a company called Baby Paws, which is located in Australia. The shoes are handmade upon individual request. It’s nice to have something this special that is locally made.

I used the same brand for my little boy’s first pair of shoes. They are pictured here, thoroughly worn in with the indents of his little toes. I love the story these shoes tell. He was so active, it almost wiped me out. Running around like he was built for speed. Too worn and threadbare to give charity, I will keep them forever.

I can’t wait to see the story my daughter’s first shoes tell.


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My boy loves wheels.

He is fairly indiscriminate in this regard.

Trains, cars, trucks, utes, buses, street sweepers, golf buggies, vans, trailers, trikes, bikes, carts and jeeps.

And Lego versions of all of the above please.

My husband thinks it’s glorious and for the past 18 months has been reliving his childhood.

So for me, there is something quite satisfying about an afternoon playing house.

Yesterday afternoon my son set the table and prepared me an extravagant meal.

That was repeatedly zapped in a pink microwave.

All the while settling his ‘baby’ to sleep.

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This past week we have been visiting my family interstate. My mum lives on the outskirts of the Barossa Valley in South Australia, in a little place I like to think of as the land the Internet forgot.

As a parent, I’m starting to approach these trips with a mixture of excitement and dread. I love seeing my family but it’s the ‘getting there’ that’s the hard part.

Imagine a slippery little fish flip-flopping around on the jetty…then try and put a seatbelt on it. This is our boy, pumped with excitement, on a flight. Ten minutes in and he’d quickly vetoed his carefully selected activity books and become disinterested in the in-flight entertainment. He squirmed and wriggled and protested relentlessly about the unjustness of his seatbelt. The only things that gave us any time-out were snippets of movies on the iPad, in-flight refreshments and a little excursion to investigate the bathroom facilities. Thoroughly.

The baby was a lot easier. The flights had been timed to coincide with her naps and she complied beautifully. (This may be due in no small part to the return of our old nemesis, the dummy.)

Highlights of the trip:

Celebrating the first birthday of a little miracle boy.

The crazy chaos when the whole family got together for a photo shoot.

Marvelling at the changes in all my nieces and nephews.

Watching my brother-in-law’s stand up comedy act.

Finding a babysitter in the most unsuspecting of places.

Lots of cups of tea with my mum and my sisters.

Listening to my little brother sing Jeff Buckley’s Hallelujah at the kitchen table after dinner. That song was in my head for days.

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Lego mon·key  [ˈlɛgəʊ ˈmʌŋkɪ]

n.

1.      A person who constructs Lego models at a child’s bidding.

The Lego revolution has started in our place. What our 2 year old son lacks in dexterity and concentration, he makes up for in dad-labour.

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My baby girl has had a cold these past few days. This means that she’s been having difficultly breathing through her nose…which means that she hasn’t been able to sleep with her dummy…which means that there has been little sleep for us all.

Given that we’ve already put in some hard yards, we are using this opportunity to wean her from the dummy. It’s not easy. It’s intensive, like nursing someone through an addiction.

The past 24 hours I haven’t managed to get out of my pajamas. I like to think it will catch on as the latest in parenting apparel, a range of sleep wear/street wear.

Strange, but it seems we were all using her dummy as a sleep aid.

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Dioramas have a school project loveliness about them and are wonderfully tactile in this digital age.  I’ve been meaning to make a construction site for my son for some time now and was motivated again after organising his toys and seeing all his little yellow diggers together. This project is easy to make and came in at a grand total of $0.00 as I sourced all my materials from around the house and yard. Here’s a step by step guide:

Materials

  1. Large cardboard box
  2. Garbage bag
  3. Stanley knife / scissors
  4. Tape and glue
  5. Blue paint + brush
  6. Several printed sheets of rocks and other construction materials
  7. A sheet of white paper
  8. A couple kilos of slightly damp sand
  9. Small assortment of rocks, paddle-pop sticks, bark etc
  10. Building site accessories and signs
  11. Yellow diggers

Instructions

  1. Cut the box on each side diagonally from the top back corner to approximately 10 cm (4″) above the bottom front corner. Cut along the front and remove this portion of the box so that it resembles a stage.
  2. Paint the inside walls of the box a sky blue colour.
  3. Cut a plastic garbage bag to size and secure firmly to the base of the diorama with tape, making the bottom of the box water resistant.
  4. Cut out white clouds from a sheet of paper and glue to the blue sky.
  5. Glue the construction site imagery around the bottom inside wall of the diorama.
  6. Fill the box with a layer of slightly damp sand and pat smooth.
  7. Arrange accessories and diggers on sand.

This diorama was loads of fun to make and a big hit with my son. The possibilities are endless; zoo, farm, space station, jurassic…

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I unwittingly discovered how to get 15 minutes unbroken peace from my toddler. You can too.

  1. Give your toddler an open box of these:
  2. Enjoy the peace.

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She loves the natural world, just like her father.

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Last week I bought my daughter a Barbie doll from an op shop. I stood in the store with the Barbie in my hand and hesitated. Would this plastic doll be a bad influence on my daughter and contribute to negative body image later down the track? Then I thought…she’s a beautiful black doll with a groovy hairdo, and so ultimately the hair won the day. All she was wearing at the time was a $1 price tag on her stomach, so I decided that I would buy her an outfit. I imagined something along the lines of a tailored grey pant suit with some groovy Converse style sneakers or ballet flats.

Later in the week while I was getting some photos processed at Big W, I ducked over to the toy section and headed to the Barbie doll clothing. Perhaps I’m naïve, but I was shocked. Let me take a moment to describe the choices that were before me:

Pink sequins, pink ruffles or pink diamontes?
The 5-inch twist your ankle heels or the 6-inch break your neck heels?
The barely cover your behind micro mini skirt or the wildly inappropriate for any real life occasion fluorescent pink ball gown with matching gloves and tiara?

As far as I could see, there wasn’t a single item that a woman would wear to the shops, a picnic or let’s say, to work.  I had Barbie when I was a girl and I don’t remember her being like this. Has Barbie fashion changed over the past 30 years or am I simply seeing her now with ‘mum’ eyes? I left the store with a naked doll and a grudge against Mattel.

Later in the week when I was doing some grocery shopping, I stumbled across a little find in the baby aisle, hidden amongst a small assortment of toys.  A blue astronaut space suit from the Barbie I Can Be range. Yes, blue! And it even came with practical, flat space boots.

I was surprised to discover that when I dressed Barbie in her astronaut suit, she became irresistible to my 2½ year old son. Barbie was suddenly elevated to the dizzying heights of Buzz Lightyear.  My son spent the afternoon in the backyard flying Barbie around chanting “To Infinity and Beyond”.

Amazing what the right outfit can do.

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