Updates from Down Under

Wow, it’s been a while, huh?

Life has been, well, busy. It’s strange but my blogging stopped about the same time Declan became mobile. I completely missed a post when he turned 8 months. Probably because I was too busy tending to a black eye, or picking up the lamp he pulled down, or stopping him from biting Stella, or keeping him from trying to ride her scooter.

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Or, more likely, we’ve just been settling into living life down under.

Quick updates on the kids.

Declan is now 9 (nine!) whole months old. I cannot believe it. As we have yet to find a doc, I don’t have any stats on his height or weight. From my step on and step off the scale approach, he’s about 9 kilos (almost 20 pounds). He’s starting to burst out of his 9 month PJ’s but still fits comfortably into 9 month tops and bottoms. He has 5 teeth (the 6th is gleaming through the gums). He is a mobile maniac! Started crawling at 7 months and started walking with his walker at 8.5 months and now, climbing at 9.

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Boys. Yikes! You boy mamas tried to warn me… I believe you now!

Speaking of boys, this kid has quite the appetite! He starts shrieking at dinner time! He cannot get food into his mouth fast enough. It’s equal parts terrifying and hilarious. One of these days I will film it. For now I’m too harried trying to get food in front of him! His sensitive little tummy is getting better. We’ve been doing a hybrid of BLW and purees to fill him up but have recently started giving him bits of what we’re eating. He seems to be handling it well.

Sleep. Ah, precious sleep. After numerous visits to the naturopath and chiropractor, we reached the conclusion that the kid just needs to learn to sort himself out. We moved Declan’s cot (Aussie speak for crib) into Stella’s room and moved Stella into our room. Phill spent a few nights in with Declan before being driven to the couch. That Declan, he’s won the battle against us all and gotten his very own room. The first night or two he woke 2 or 3 times and cried for about 5 minutes. Now he’s down to waking just once, around 3, crying for a few minutes and then passing back out again. As soon as he stops doing that, we can finally, FINALLY, have Stella and Declan sharing a room. All in all, it’s a major leap and I think we can safely say, the kid is finally SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT!

Stella, my gorgeous, sweet, sassy (really sassy) little girl. She’s been busy with swim lessons, which she takes very seriously.

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We are still visiting the Manly Library twice a week for Story Time. She is obsessed with the songs and talks about the craft portion all week long. She is still an amazing big sister to Declan. She really and truly adores him. But she also loves getting 100% of my attention and that just can’t happen much anymore. When Declan is getting praised for something or getting all the attention, she turns into a little naughty tornado. It has gotten better but we’re a long way off from her dealing with it well.

Stella had a bout with the nasty Aussie gastro bug last week. Hers was quick (24 hours). A big vom in the evening, then ran fever in the morning. She has an amazing immune system and was all better after 24 hours.

I, however, was not as lucky. Two days after her bug, the pain woke me around midnight. You guys. I had no idea the stomach flu could even be that bad. I spent all night on the bathroom floor, alternating from sleep to throwing up. The only way I can describe the pain of the cramps was that they were like a contraction. This past weekend was spent in a blur for me. It took me 24 hours to run a fever and start to fight off the nastiness. I’m so thankful it hit on Friday night and that Phill wasn’t traveling. He kept the kids going and the house running all weekend. I’m serious, dishes washed, laundry washed, folded and put away, kids fed, bathed and entertained. He is the most amazing man!

To add to the weekend fun, my iPhone decided it was the perfect time to die. And died it did. Phill worked on it all Sunday night to no avail. So yesterday I had to make my way to the Apple store half an hour away in Chatswood, in the rain, with both kids, with NO navigation! Phill left for Perth today and left me his mobile hotspot thinga-something so I could use my iPad for directions. Whatever it is, it didn’t work. The maps app kept freezing. I ended up calling Phill on Skype (somehow that worked?) and had him talk me through the final directions. Insanity. The kids were, thankfully, so chill and cooperative. A little gift from God. We finally escaped the mall and headed home, refurbed iPhone in hand. WITH NAVI! On the way home, we ended up going a different route. It was actually quite scenic. Stella and I were chatting about the wind and how to know if it was windy if you weren’t outside to actually feel the wind. Declan started crying (poor mobile kid was DONE with being cooped up in a car seat and stroller all afternoon) so I rolled the windows down to distract him. It worked. Stella went quiet, too… After a minute, she started giggling and saying, “MOM! I’ve got my hand out the window!” I had to stifle the urge to tell her to keep her hands in the car. I’m glad I did because a quick glance in my mirror revealed she barely had her little fingers out the window. She giggled again and said, “MOM! I can feel the wind! Have you ever done this mom? It’s so cool! Mom! I can feeeeeeeeeeel the wind!” I was so blown away by the sweet childhood innocence of what she was exclaiming. I mean, of course I have. But it was so amazing to see her experience that sensation for the first time. She was so very excited… It filled me with such joy to see her having this moment! I love that I get to see the eyes of the world through a child. It’s such a gift.

In other news wedding planning is coming along! We still have a few decisions to make and I have a to-do list a mile (kilometer?) long. We are getting on a plane in 4 short weeks. We’ll fly to Hawaii for 2 days then hop back on a plane bound for Austin arriving on the 14th. I am getting so excited to come home!

Also, I picked up my camera again… And it felt so good.

3 years old

3 years

9 months

9 months

Blogging is one of my favorite things to do, kind of therapeutic actually, so I hope we chat again soon!

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Stella Turns 3!

A lot can happen in two weeks. Sorry for the dearth of blog posts. I’ve been a bit derailed by life. More on that later. First, the fun stuff.

My first baby turned 3 years old last week! She is such a big girl now. She is so tall and SO smart. We had our first visit with our homeopath, Debbie, last week. Miss Debbie is pretty amazing. She has practiced homeopathy for 15 years but is also a R.N., having studied at a top school in London and is even a certified Montessori teacher! I pretty much love her and Stella does, too (Phill, of course, still has one eyebrow raised, but he’s coming around). She told us Stella was very advanced for her age, especially with her language expression and comprehension, and that Stella should immediately be enrolled in a dance class as she has the charm and personality fit for the stage. My poppa saw this from the minute he met her because he nicknamed her, “Tilly the Entertainer.” Pop, you were spot on!!

The morning of Stella’s birthday, she was surprised with a massive pile of prezzies and cards from family and friends.

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Princess Stella

Princess Stella

She got some amazing gifts. She is very into princess things, as you can see. And Peppa Pig. And she got her first bike! A princess bike, naturally.

After prezzies, it was off to her birthday brekkie!

Sassafrass and Budga

Sassafrass and Budga

Just too cool.

Just too cool.

We went to one our favorite spots, Hemingways with our nanny Diana (she’s amazing) and our friends Jill, Natalie and Nate. Stella had her birthday babycino and gluten-free toast with jam. She spreads the jam on all by herself!

After brekkie, we happened upon some face painting in the Corso.

 

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Afterwards, Stella, Diana and Budga made beautiful mosaic princess crowns. If Budga were writing this part, she would want you to know Stella was of no help at all and that she and Diana were tasked with the job. Hired help! 🙂 Just kidding, Budg.

 

Thanks Jerretta for the awesome bday prezzie!

Thanks Jerretta for the awesome bday prezzie!

 

Meanwhile, this dude was busy pulling up on EVERYTHING.

 

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Anyway, back to the birthday girl.

 

The next day was Saturday and we had a low-key (versus years past) birthday party at our place.

 

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We had over Stella’s friends Nate, Natalie, Mila, Kaden & Scarlett. It was our first official party at our place! And, in keeping with true Aussie barbie style, we made sure to serve sausages (Aussie speak: snags) and grilled onions.

 

I’m so glad Stella had an amazing birthday. When we realized we would be here in Oz for Stella’s 3rd birthday, I worried it wouldn’t be any kind of affair. Not that it needed to be, but, you know… I wanted to have a celebration. Wanted her to feel the love and experience the joy in a gathering of people there to celebrate HER. Thank you, Maureen, Buntings, Coviches and Swilleys for making our girl feel like a real birthday princess.

Baby-Led Weaning Update

I’m pleased to say that, since my last update, I’ve successfully been to the Warringah Mall a few times without incident. Whew!

 

In other news, wee Declan has made some strides in the eating department. He wasn’t doing much with the baby-led weaning so we switched gears and tried the more conventional approach of purees. It’s what we did with Stella but I still really wanted to succeed with BLW. Well, he wanted NOTHING to do with purees. He sat there and would blow the biggest raspberries anytime the spoon came close to his lips. He had one night of tolerating it, but that was it. So back to BLW I went. I spent a lot of time researching purees vs. BLW and concluded that BLW has heaps of benefits over purees. For me, I like that meal time is less complicated. I’m not making separate purees (even making ahead and freezing is a PITA) because, instead, I’m just giving him some of what we are already having. We eat pretty cleanly so including Declan in meal times is simple.  I want him involved in family meals and not eating separately like we did with Stella. Even if he is seated with us, it’s a hassle to feed him when, quite frankly, I’d rather be feeding myself. And, when Phill travels (he’s presently in New Zealand), I don’t want to feed all of us at different times. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

 

The past few days Declan has been a BLW rockstar. He loves it. He likes squishing it between his fingers, dropping it on his tray, smelling it and, of course, eating it! He isn’t getting much yet and, YES, it is messy. But, he dictates how much he wants, if any, and decides when he’s finished. (If you want to read more about the benefits of baby-led weaning, read up here.)

Hmmm, giving it a go.

Hmmm, giving it a go.

 

 

Whoa! This is good stuff!

Whoa! This is good stuff!

 

Yeah, I like this banana business.

Yeah, I like this banana business.

 

I’m so relieved we’re on a good path with Declan and his eating. Now, if we could just get his sleeping sorted………

 

Declan is 7 Months

Declan – 7 Months

Stella has plenty of her early life recorded on her blog. But I realized today I’ve never blogged about Declan.

This is my favorite of the baby stages. Sitting up and mobile just enough to make them happy, but not crawling, and so very smiley and happy. Gosh darn, it is the best and absolutely worth it’s own post!

 

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Declan is amazingly strong. I knew I was in trouble when, at 2 weeks old, he was raising his legs and his head up in some sort of yoga core pose. We’ve started finding him sitting upright in his bed the past couple of weeks. And he can cross the entire living room via rolling in the blink of an eye. He spends a lot of time (and tears) up on all fours, rocking back and forth. I even find him doing this in the middle of the night! He’s begun moving his knees forward but hasn’t figured out the hands need to move, too, so he ends up splat on his chest, bum in the air. Even though he’s frustrated, I can’t help but smile at his cuteness and little baby determination.

 

Another thing he’s begun doing, and I don’t recall Stella doing this, is grabbing my face and giving me a big open mouthed kiss. He does the same to Phill and Stella and we all pretty much melt at such a loving gesture. He’s probably just teething and really wants to shove our face into his mouth for some pain relief, but that would be ok, too.

 

He’s holding his own with big sister really well. She, on the other hand, grabbed one of my belts this morning and Phill caught her looping it around his neck and saying, “come on doggy, let’s go for a walk!” Time… just give it time and he’ll give as good as he gets.

 

Nighttime sleep is still AWFUL. He wakes 3-5 times a night. And, in order to get more sleep, I just feed him. However, now he wakes and won’t go back to sleep without nursing. We’ve entered quite the cycle. A very sleeeeeepy cycle.

 

As for food, we began Baby Led Weaning. He pretty much treats the food like toys and hasn’t actually ingested much. We are going to stay the course for a few more weeks and hope he gets the hang of it a bit more. You should see the look on Stella’s face seeing all the food he is wasting! Appalled.

 

Tonight we got the biggest belly laughs from Declan. Actually, not we… Stella did! He was so tickled he could barely stay sitting upright. Who knew bubble beards were so hilarious?!  It was a really lovely moment. Happy and full of love.

 

Declan is 7 months

Stella is 2 years 11.5 months (nearly 3!)

Diary of Declan

A day in the life of Declan…

Day:

Wake. Smile a lot. Eat. Play. Practice Crawling. Babble “mama.” Nap. Smile. Smile some more. Belly laugh. Smile.

Night:

7:30 pm — Nurse. Fall asleep.

12 am — Wake. Refuse pacifier for 30 minutes.

12:30 am — Nurse. Babble for 30 minutes.

1 am — Fall asleep.

3 am — Wake. Cry. Rock on all fours. Babble “mama” over and over.

3:30 am — Nurse. Cry. Babble “mama” for 45 minutes.

4:15 am — Fall asleep.

6:30 am — Wide awake. Ready to smile!

 

I am so tired. Bone freaking tired. What are we doing wrong?! Maybe he’s just one of those kids that doesn’t need a lot of sleep?? Stella was NOT like this. She will be turning 3 later this month and there is no end in sight to her daily nap.

Another aspect is we haven’t begun giving him any solids. I wasn’t really in a hurry to do so. Our plan was to begin at 6 months (alas we were 30k feet in the air that day) with baby led weaning. And now almost 4 weeks have flown by and still no solids. We finally bought him a high chair over the weekend and we’ll start his foodie adventure this week. Who knows, maybe my mother-in-law is right and this will be the key to a better night’s sleep?

Even if he is destined to be a rotten sleeper, at least he’s so incredibly cute during the day.

 

All smiles in the sun!

All smiles in the sun!

 

Declan is 6 months, 3 weeks old

Liar, Liar

I feel so much better today! I think putting my feelings into words and then getting such lovely, lovely feedback from you guys did the trick. I have such kind and wise friends and family! Thank you all for the encouraging words.

 

Also, Baby Declan went and made a liar out of me.

 

He pushed through his first tooth yesterday! Ha! I do not recall Stella’s teething process being this bad. Maybe I just forgot? Either way, I am I glad to have that sorted. One down, 19 to go!

 

Happy D

Happy Baby D

Now can we go back to being happy all day and sleepy all night?

 

Declan is 6.5 months

 

Life in Manly

Life here in Manly is pretty sweet. We are surrounded by such beauty with all the perks of a city within walking distance. This beach is basically our front yard.

Manly Cove

Manly Cove

Beach babe

Beach babe

Manly Wharf is just across the street.

Atop the shell at the Wharf

Atop the shell at the Wharf

We live a block from the Corso, the center of Manly filled with restaurants and cafes, all kinds of shops, even a play park.

Kids at the Corso play park

Corso play park

And I take a daily walk along the boardwalk with sights like this.

Manly Beach

Manly Beach

Stella will start school again (twice a week) in January. So, for now, I get to spend all day every day with my two amazing children. I’ve been given an amazing gift.

But, you guys, I am homesick! The feeling started creeping up a couple of days ago but has really come on strong today. I miss my car, Wheatsville, my family, my friends, Stella’s friends, my gym, my coffee machine (tear). I miss being able to call up friends for a last minute dinner (and knowing where to go). I miss my favorite gluten-free brands. I miss Stella’s school (or I miss Stella going to school… ?).

On top of all this, we are tired. Bone tired. Declan is super smiley and all around adorable during the day. But he turns into this awful crying, whining, giant fuss bomb at night. He is the WORST SLEEPER. I want to blame teething but I’m not sure I can anymore – it’s been almost 4 solid weeks of this.

Please do not think I am ungrateful. I do know this is an amazing opportunity and adventure my family is on. I just felt like having a good vent. So thank you, thank you very much for listening.

UPDATE: Just after I posted this, Daniel Tiger came on the TV. Thank you God, thank you Universe. We needed that little piece of home.

And it was a NEW EPISODE!

And it was a NEW EPISODE!

UGGA MUGGA! 🙂