Months, MONTHS late with these photos, but I thought I’d share what little photos I managed to take and borrow (thank you Andrea and Famiza!) that were taken during our trip to Singapore in late January.
I know it’s never quite fair to compare your children, so I’m aware of my parenting phail when I say that Atticus is turning out a little different from Arddun. It seems like such a duh thing to be surprised by — seeing how they are two unique individuals and all — but Tony and I get caught out now and then when Atticus dares to go off the trajectory his older sister took.
Like climbing up on tables before he can walk. Arddun didn’t climb on coffee tables. She didn’t stand in the middle of one and clap her hands after the fact in glee either.
We did a quick count last night and realised that since we moved into our new home on 25 November, we have had five groups of interstate and overseas visitors stay with us. That’s about one a month. It’s a nice average.
[I’ve been vaguely aware of the fact that I’ve grown out of the habit of taking photos. Part of the reason is my phone camera; I don’t enjoy using either of the geriatric cameras on my Sony Xperia or my iPad, and carrying Old Chunky everywhere isn’t practical. I’ve also grown out of the habit of blogging as a result. Uploading a bunch of happy shots used to be a quick and easy way of saying hello here while not having to squeeze out too much brain juice. But with even that option taken away, and now, a slew of favourite TV series now ending (Downton Abbey, The Good Wife…) and the aforementioned guests, I find myself estranged from my blog. But I miss writing to all of you.]
Not to pick a favourite among our visitors – every guest brought fun and busyness to our household – (but) we really enjoyed having Audrey and Deborah stay with us for ten days late last month. We didn’t do anything special, really. I think that was what made it so magic. Because for just those ten days, we could suspend reality for a little while and pretend we lived together for keeps. We were family again, and it was a sheer luxury keeping our children alive together (i.e. feeding them), going about our usual routine, and then talking the nights away when the children went to bed.
We’ve been reading Alice in Wonderland to Arddun lately – the unabridged version. She’s watched the Disney version about ten times and has a very short board book version of it. But it wasn’t until she kept asking me to read the Ladybird Classic version – broken into chapters – that I wondered about her appetite for the whole hog.
I ended up downloading Alice for the iPad. More ebook than app, it features the unabridged version of AiWL with some cute interactive bits now and again – falling cupcakes, Alice elongating like a telescope as she gets bigger before shrinking again, comfits bouncing off a Dodo’s back… A childhood classic imagined by Lewis Carroll, illuminated by John Tenniel and then brought to life through the wonders of technology.
I don’t know that Arddun pays attention to the whole thing. There are lots of talky bits and Alice herself tends to go off in tangents that a 4yo can hardly keep up or be bothered with. But by and large, Arddun understands what’s going on. And she really looks forward to doing the book together come bedtime.
So it was little wonder that when Book Week was around the corner and Arddun was to turn up in school as a book character, we did Alice.
Lots and lots of rules about the dress-up, actually. They could only come as a book character, not a TV one. Please, no princesses or superheroes (read: no last-minute raiding of your child’s dress-up box). They had to bring their book along to school (so I had to run out and buy one because she wasn’t going to traipse into school with my iPad!)
After a quick rummage through existing stash and a dash to Top Bargain for that cheap and cheerful traffic-stopping yellow wig, our Alice was born. But just so there could be no mistaking who her book character was, we needed a storytelling prop.
All in all, a rather fun non-uniform day.
Did this for Arddun for her school lunch today, even though I strongly suspect that
- she’s not going to eat the rice
- or any of the salad leaves
- or even all of the capsicum
- or realise that it’s a sheep.
But it was fun putting it together, and if it means eventually stretching her food repertoire, then I’m willing to Bento more.
Atticus’s latest party trick is to fight bedtime from 7pm to 9pm, and then wake up at 2 or 3 am to fight sleep for another two hours.
And while he gets to catch up with his beauty sleep in the day, I of course do not get that luxury because I have this whole other child to stay functional for.
This is why I look like this lately:
Christian women are told a lot that they should aspire to that wonder woman in Proverbs 31 who, among other things,
- is a savvy property magnate,
- probably could win the annual Great British Sewing Bee if she was
- a) British, and
- b) had wool, flax, linen and something called a distaff at her disposal, and
- feeds the needy.
She also has a slew of female servants whom she apparently dresses up in fiendishly expensive garments, and she tarts up pretty well herself. She apparently likes purple. Woman after my own heart.
In the past, every other criterion had me going, “Yep, yep, doable, doable…”. All except for the sewing (no talents or inclination there), and that bit where she “gets up while it is still night” to provide for her family. As someone who is more night owl than daybreak do-gooder, that wake-up time used to intimidate me. It used to be the one thing that shamed me about my work ethic – the fact that I’m not a morning person.
Then I had Atticus, and the truth finally dawns on me: Proverbs 31 Wonder Woman isn’t sub-human. She’s just a mother of a baby boy who friggin’ won’t sleep through the night.
I am definitely getting up while it is still night to provide sustenance and comfort to this family member. It’s been 8 months and counting. And while I know you’re not supposed to compare your children, I just want to explain that this has all been a rude shock for me because Arddun had slept from 7 to 7 every day since she was 4 months old.
Never underestimate the soul-sapping realities of chronically broken sleep, people.
Because of the hours we keep, I haven’t been able to blog. Or write. Or pore over my roles in several church-related projects. Ironically, I haven’t been able to do what I’ve been meaning to do for months – get more organised by waking up at 5am every day. Staying ahead of the game by carving out some early morning time when I’m fresh and the batteries are fully charged, so I can write and meditate and think. So I can jump in the shower before the kids awake. So that I’m ready and able when the day officially begins.
But it’s nigh impossible to wake up at 5am every day, when I’m lucky if I get back to sleep at 4:30am after spending 2½ hours settling Atticus. And it’s incredibly frustrating when I wake up to find half the morning over, but my body is still weary and yearning for sleep.
And in case you are wondering, yes we’ve been trying controlled crying, no it doesn’t seem to be working – in fact, it seems to be getting worse. It isn’t for want of steel and effort, folks. I’m not running into the room at every whimper. But this boy has determination, stamina, and a set of lungs that would make a howler monkey think, “Hot dang!” Meanwhile, I feel guilty about possibly frying precious baby neurons in the process, and I feel defensive about the youngest member of our family turning dictator of our nights. Even while I believe that we should give our babies every reassurance of love. Even while I am patently aware that the sleeps of my husband and firstborn are also at stake. Even while I wonder if the concept of “sparing the rod = spoiling the child” should even apply this early. Even while I believe that our children shouldn’t become the all-consuming focal point of our marriage. Even while I suspect that my health is important too.
I know this is a passing season, and perhaps I’m being unrealistic about the number of outcomes I’d like to knock out of the park while mothering two young children. But right now, I just feel like my whole day revolves around this boy when I need to pack So Many Other Things in my day yet I can’t, because I have no reserves left.
They say that I have to treasure these days because he won’t stay my baby forever. That these lonely stretches with him, just the two of us alone in the dark, me cold, exhausted, and – dare I say it – bored out of my mind, are actually precious, fleeting times. I know this. But gee, a part of me would really like my body back.
He’s still a very cute kid, though. And innocent. And I love him to bits.
(Want my body back!)
Love him to bits.
Poor second child. Sporadic monthly photos, even fewer videos, hardly any blog posts waxing lyrical about the tiniest milestone or developmental leap. So sorry, son.
So what can I tell you. He drools a lot. We were wondering where on earth the next tooth was, when it suddenly popped up beside his other two on the bottom front. He’s got a third tooth! And he loves gnawing on anything – fingers, bibs, telephone cords if he gets a chance, wool rugs, table legs… ANYTHING.
For the longest time, Atticus had been perfectly content to lie on his playmat and contemplate the ceiling. Attitude adopted for the previous 7 months had strongly been along the lines of, “I could roll over I suppose… but I really can’t be bothered.” Couldn’t even sit on his tushy without keeling over and face-planting from lack of effort. If he did roll over to his front, his modus operandi had been to sob pitifully into the carpet until his sister hollered at me to do something.
In the last two weeks, however, he’s suddenly decided that life outside the playmat is pretty grand. He’s finally getting mobile! Leave the room, and I might return to find him under the coffee table. Or commando-squirming towards my ankles while I’m preparing dinner. All with the sheer delight and gungho of a baby with oodles of determination and muscles, generously padded by adorable baby fat.
Most of all, he’s got a great temperament and just loves to laugh. He is the quintessential Happy Bubba, determined to spread the love. Time and time again, I’ve watched him stare up into the faces of perfect strangers from his pram, just willing them to glance at him. And as soon as they do, he flashes his biggest and brightest goofy grin. And about 8 out of 10 times, said stranger turns into putty.
He tries the same things in the middle of the night but at 2.30am and completely sleep addled, I remain rather impervious to his charms. It helps to sit with him in the dark and not make eye contact.
But the one person who consistently cracks him up at least once a day is none other than his sister. He coos and chuckles at his daddy and me but when his sister enters the room, he turns into a fan boy.