the rambles of a family of five in Australia

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See how they grow…

We have been very blessed in our two precious children, as of course all parents are, and as we have come to the end of 2012, with all its twists and turns, ups and downs and much packing and unpacking, we have (in the midst of tiredness, frustration and general parenting weariness) found ourselves giving thanks to our Heavenly Father for these two bright bundles who give us great joy, grey hairs and sleepless nights and many moments of utter bewilderment. E and S, we love you more each day and are looking forward to additional joy with you next year.

S in July, scooting around the loungeroom floor. We were beginning to think she would NEVER get up and walk!

E in the backyard, mid-winter, wearing his Fireman Sam helmet and busily ‘fighting fires’. When he ‘is a big man, I will be a firefighter and build things for you, Mum!’

Just part of the buidling endeavours E engaged in when let loose on our firewood stack. Never mind splinters or potential spiders, there was some serious construction to be done. At this stage, S was more of a supervisor than a participant.

She looks positively demure here – our little lady!

Sunglasses make me a rock star!

With a packet of glitter crayons from Lincraft and a roll of paper from Ikea, art is let loose upon our household. Cheap, relatively painless and very very therapeutic!

S, after her nap, wearing one of E’s cast-off hats and cuddling her bunny.

Watching R and E working on the front verandah. Spot the traces of tear-stains at not being allowed to join them.
And then a carefully contrived pose once she realised the camera was out…
Hurrah! We finally figured out a way to use ALL the pieces of track to make a shape that connects. We LOVE Thomas here!

One of H’s playgroup ‘science experiments’. The leaves DID change colour, but not dramatically enough to show up in the photo!

If your keys could double as your mobile phone, you might be smiling like this too…

E, covered in cake mixture after licking the bowl clean.

Big brother, little sister.

Ladybird, Ladybird drive away home…

Mmmm, chocolate icing, yummo!


mr e’s adventures

‘This might look awkward, but it’s so much easier than holding the beaker, Mum.’

‘I like to cook my own breakfast – at least that way it’s done properly…’

‘Daddy and I have a lot of work to get through and if you keep taking photos I won’t be able to concentrate, Mum.’

‘No matter how early I leave in the mornings, there’s always traffic…’

‘People told me it might be easier on a bike. What were they thinking?’
‘Possibly a bodyguard/traffic cop could help with my commute?’
‘Where’s the NRMA when you need them?’
‘This replacement from the garage isn’t half bad – there’s even room for a passenger!’
‘Daddy and I have to work together to get through our list of chores.’

‘Hey, how’d I get stuck doing this all by myself?’

‘This screwdriver isn’t a Phillips head…’
‘They think they’re so funny. But I’m only a little kid.’

The comraderie of the open road.

‘Time to sort the garden out.’

‘If I don’t check them, anything might slip through. You’ve got to keep an eye on your staff, you know.’


tempus fugit *

Our little grown-up boy

Sometimes we look at the calendar and wonder where the time has gone. We are fast approaching autumn and in two days’ time will have been in the UK for four months, and Dairy Cottage for three.
Little E is not so little anymore: the baby who was toddling when we landed (but still mostly crawling) now runs everywhere as fast as his legs can carry him. He walks very firmly and solidly – when he is upstairs and one of us is downstairs all you can hear is
“thunk-thunk-thunk-thunk-thunk” hither and yon as he runs between bathroom and bedroom.

I’m the King of the Castle…

E can pull himself up onto the kitchen chairs and the couches in the lounge room – albeit with a bit of scrabbling and flailing. He is a bit of a climber-in-the-making, and we have had several sticky situations – especially on the first floor. R has since installed child-proof window catches, which has gone some way to helping us feel more at ease.

It was very quiet in the playroom – looks like we have a reader-in-the-making.

E loves our next-door neighbours very much and is usually not downstairs for long after breakfast before he is ‘asking’ H to put on his shoes so he can get outside to knock on the gate. Once through the gate he makes a beeline for the (usually) open kitchen door, then plonks himself on ‘Nanny’s’ lap with little ceremony. We think their house is like an Aladdin’s cave for him – full of things he doesn’t encounter at home, all of which he is allowed to touch and play with (carefully) as long as he puts them back in the right spots. Thus far he is good as gold: playing with keys and ‘unlocking’ all the doors; moving magnets around on the fridge and squeezing himself next to the person with the most comfortable-looking chair. Some days (not all) he is given a cup of juice or water or maybe a chocolate digestive. H is not so keen on the biscuit since the last time when she ended up with little chocolate handprints all over her nice clean shirt and trousers.

Ok, so it’s upsidedown and not quite Shakespeare, but already he has a devoted audience.

He also loves the garden next-door (which is truly a garden, rather than merely a patch of lawn and a couple of flower beds, like ours) so when the inside conversation and activities get a little slow he trots out to play with the flowerpots, wheelbarrows, the hand-cranked water pump, multiple watering-cans and the bead curtain at the entrance to the greenhouse. In high summer when the garden loungers were out, E delighted in stretching himself full length in the most lushly padded one. The prince is firmly in charge of his little kingdom on the other side of the gate.

This is his “Look what I can do” face.

E is getting taller now – his head now rises above the level of the kitchen table – and he remains quite strong. The things he manages to lift and drag are often enormous, but we are almost used to it now, except if someone else comments, when we remember that it isn’t as common as we think.

First go at an ice block.

He is still keen on his food, although more sensitive to textures than before. He isn’t particularly fussy – although grapefruit and melon are not favourites – but makes himself heard when things don’t go according to plan. Last week, H was preparing to give him morning tea but obviously wasn’t moving fast enough… E got his bib, put it on and then climbed into the highchair (which we didn’t know he could do) as if to say “What’s the hold up? I’m famished.” He truly is an entertaining little fellow and we are having a lot of fun together.

A young Bendicks BitterMints fan

One of our favourite forms of entertainment while eating is to watch the birds on our bird feeder. We are slowly learning all the different kinds – nuthatches, tits, robins and the odd woodpecker. We’ve even seen next-door’s scavenging squirrel heading for our bird-table, but so far we’ve been able to frighten him off before he snatches so much as a mouthful.

With T – a special visitor from Aus.

He is now saying a few more words than before, including the names of his two best friends from down the road. ‘Tractor’ is possibly the clearest of all his words, bar ‘Mum’ and ‘Dad’, but he makes himself understood to us quite well – if not always to people outside the family circle.

“No, Officer, of course I wasn’t texting and driving at the same time.”

We hope that (doting though this is) you’ve got a reasonable idea of where E is up to as well as a sense of his cheeky self.

He loves to sit with Chaucer-Bear and watch all that’s going on in the kitchen.

* Virgil: Sed fugit interea fugit irreparabile tempus, singula dum capti circumvectamur amore, which means, “But meanwhile it flees: time flees irretrievably, while we wander around, prisoners of our love of detail.”


an update on the princeling

E is just over 14 months old now and is very much on the move. After baulking at the stairs in Dairy Cottage (after using and loving the lifts to our flat for a month!) he has taken to them like a duck rediscovering water. He would really like to be able to walk down them as Mummy and Daddy do, but as this has led to two tumbles, he has realised his limitations and continues to descend backwards on all fours. He runs and walks everywhere at speed, except if descending an incline, or if, when barefoot, he discovers a surface that is not to his liking, at which point he goes on hands and knees.

He doesn’t really seem to have missed the vast majority of his toys too much (although we are looking forward to seeing him reacquaint with once-familiar playthings) and has been very much interested in doing what Mummy and Daddy do. He has a cupboard in the kitchen full of plasticware, and sorting through it is a favourite morning pastime. He borrows utensils and mixes things in little pots and then wants Mummy to taste them. He is fond of plugging and unplugging the vacuum cleaner and trying to push it round the floor.

When one of us is using it he cries – not because he is frightened by the noise but because he isn’t having a turn! He loves the washing machine and stands in front of it in the kitchen, watching the water and clothes sloshing around. Whenever the spin cycle begins he comes running from wherever he is to watch it and comment ‘There! There! There! There!’

We are having a ‘manners’ tussle over the broom at present, which is stored between the fridge and counter where E usually cannot reach it. He will often try to grasp it and fail and then become very frustrated and ‘ask’ Mummy to get it for him by crying. We have decided that this is a watershed moment and that he needs to say ‘please’ and ‘thankyou’ through sign language or verbally before he gets it. We have been surprised by how utterly unwilling he is to do this. He throws himself on the floor when asked to say ‘please’ and commences wailing angrily. This means the broom stays off-limits. It’s one of those things, we suppose, because he is usually fairly happy to verbally say ‘Ta’ after he is given something or to be shown that he must sign ‘please’ before being given something. We’ve had the odd moment where life seems very unfair/overwhelming and he lies on the floor crying, or crouches with his head between his knees, yelling in frustration. We’re not sure if this is the baby in him coming to the fore in times of tiredness, or incipient toddler tantrums, but we are thinking about what to do if (when?!) they continue.

 He loves being outdoors and will hand the pegs to whoever is hanging washing on the line. He has tried to make off with our next door neighbours’ big watering cans a number of times. They have given him a little one of his own (which he drinks from…) but it hasn’t stopped him from desiring theirs. They love him already and if we don’t see them one day, the next they say how much they missed him. They call him ‘smiler’ and ‘the artful young chap’ and E is very happy to go to either of them for a hug. He has had several rides in the wheelbarrow and can be found trotting around wielding an adult-sized broom; spade; fork or hoe. Sydney (next door) gave him an appropriately sized walking stick made of ash, with the head of a duck carved into the top. E loves it (because everyone he sees seems to have a walking stick) and strides along tapping it on the ground – or whirling it around at inopportune moments. He likes to have his own smaller garden tools when we are gardening, and he jams them into the lawn in imitation of us digging up a patch of nettles. He is envious that Daddy gets to use the (electric) mower and today in the shed he tried to push it round, making ‘brrmmm’ noises. Often he will run outside to look at the three horses in the field next to our driveway – they are quite lordly though and pay little attention to his cries of delight.

He is particularly fond of the four stuffed animals he sleeps with: Kanga; Shanks (the lamb); Yorrick the bear and Bunny-My-Honey. He kisses each one in turn when going to bed (without any prompting) and will often bring Shanks or Kanga to look at something out the window, or at something that he’s doing somewhere else in the house. He also kisses Mummy and Daddy hello and goodbye, and sometimes just for fun. He waves bye often – even if he is only ducking out of the room we’re in to fetch something.

He has about seven discernible words now: Mum, Dad, car, there, Nan, Ta, hello and bye. He is working on horse, truck and tractor.

He has just gained a seventh tooth, heralded by a couple of unpleasant days for us, and is confidently eating the family foods we eat. He’s not keen on raw salad vegies such as cucumber, but we’re working on it! He discovered strawberries about a week ago – lured by the aroma coming from the punnet we bought by the side of the road – and ate nearly half the punnet in one go. They were super sweet, unlike most Australian strawberries, so he really enjoyed himself!

His favourite snack for morning/afternoon tea is a couple of Ryvitas with pâté on them; or a bowl of Greek yoghurt with stewed fruit. He has developed an appreciation for couscous and got stuck into an asian (ish) chicken salad for lunch today.

He goes to a toddler group run by our church on a Tuesday and loves getting involved in all the activities. He seems to be reasonably respectful of the other children and if he has something taken from him, tends to wander off and have a play with something else. Possibly this is because they are all mostly older and bigger than him. We would be interested to see what would happen if he were the biggest…

Last time there was a water activity planned, so we stripped him down to singlet and nappy and he stood beside the water tub with the other kids, splashing and pouring and having a wonderful time. At afternoon tea, he sits up at the (toddler size) table on a little chair and munches his fruit and drinks his water. Given that he loves his food, we were pleased to see that he is suitably overawed at this stage not to snatch as the plate goes past. (We had a funny moment the other day when someone mentioned that the other kids were drinking squash. In horror, I thought they meant fizzy drink, but it turns out in England, squash means cordial – and dilute cordial at that!)

All in all he’s a dream baby/little boy and we are thankful that although the move here was momentous, he seems to have settled well and to be enjoying himself (while missing all his friends and family back in Australia, of course!)

(Written 18 June 2010)