Monday, 23 December 2013

Things travel and stay-home parenthood have in common

Travel and parenthood tend to be placed on opposite ends of some sort of fun/responsibility spectrum, where one end is how you spend the footloose and fancy free part of your life before the grown-up and responsible phase kicks in. Travel is supposed to be the thing you get out of your system, before you start caring about interest rates and decile rankings. The closest I have gotten to real travel recently is looking at other people's pictures on Facebook.

I have been thinking today, though, about how there is a lot that stay-home parenthood and travelling actually have in common.  Perhaps I have too much time on my hands as a stay home mum, and perhaps I am grasping at straws in a deluded fashion, but here are ten things they have in common:

1. Sleep deprivation.  Jet lag wakes you at odd hours, and we had many an early morning to catch a bus, plane or train. So, it's just like now with a toddler.and a newborn!

2. Sleeping in odd uncomfortable places. An airport floor while waiting for an early flight. A toddler's bed when they can't sleep on a stormy night. The discomfort of an Indian slat bed. The discomfort of the aforementioned toddler deciding my pillow is just the place for his feet when the storm does lull him to sleep. Exactly the same!

3. Being hassled. When travelling, I was often hassled to buy a person's wares, or to give them money, or to ride in their taxi/auto rickshaw/tuk tuk. Now I'm hassled to put on Peppa Pig and provide a never ending supply of Tiny Teddies.

Friday, 13 December 2013

7 years of blogging

I realized earlier today that Tane and I started this blog seven years ago. So, I thought that was worthy of an entry in itself, especially as we are closing in on 20,000 hits and 370 posts.

This started off as a general blog about whatever took our fancy, then morphed into a travel blog, and is now about our children more than anything else.

2006: Younger and less creaky versions
In the past seven years we've traveled to 35 countries, got married, had two children, and had plenty of random thoughts that we've thought worthy of a post. We've written some entries that still get almost daily hits even though they are five years old, and some that probably have only ever been skim read. We've received abuse from a clearly disgruntled Bulgarian who didn't agree with our assessment of their country, and odd comments from a Holocaust denier on my entry about Auschwitz. There are posts like this one about movies that are better that the books that I've been meaning to update for years, and posts that make me cringe. We've also been approached through our blog and asked to be on TV news. I even wrote one post that I had to take down, about my experience doing a pole dancing lesson in 2007, as I found the number of hits creepy. Serves me right for putting 'pole dancing' in the title I suppose.

We've gone through phases when we've blogged often and had long periods where I'd like to say we were too busy, but it was probably more laziness than anything else. Plus, after blogging about travelling the world, updates on my day now don't feel quite so glamorous. I'm sure you'd much rather read about what we were doing this time four years ago in Mexico and Guatemala than the most noteworthy part of my day today. I'll be vague to make it sound mysterious, but here's some clues: it involved bad smells, two children being plonked in the bath and copious amounts of carpet cleaner. It certainly isn't an experience you'd want photos of. 

The last seven years has also seen the rise and the fall of the blog. Back in 2006, everyone was getting them. Blogs were the new black. Our list of 'friends with blogs' was long, and these other blogs were updated often. I used to enjoy trawling through other people's blogs, commenting, and knowing they were reading ours in turn. 

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Would a Lily, by another name ...

Names are strange and wonderful things.

Name the Devil, and he will appear. Find out someone's True Name and you will have power over them.

Name a baby and you turn sound into an identity. Something that was an apostle, a flower, your friend from primary school's brother or a weather system transforms to become, indelibly, a new person.

The name becomes the child and the child becomes the name.


Friday, 1 November 2013

Our girl

Five weeks ago today, our new baby Lily Raema was born. Already it's hard to imagine life without her hanging out in her Moses basket in the corner of the living room during the day, or when we only transported one child around at a time.

Lily now
Amotai November 2011
Lily is an absolute delight, and I am constantly surprised by how different she and Amotai seem already. They look fairly similar, but that's where it ends. I know it's easy to scoff at the idea of a five week old having clear differences in personality to her brother, but it's quite apparent in how she reacts to certain situations, and the rhythms she's fallen into. I love having Lily, and can't wait to watch her grow up. At the same time, I am also enjoying her newborn-ness, and don't want time to move too quickly. That's the thing with having a second child.  I am so much more aware of how transient this time is, and how big she'll become in the blink of an eye. Yesterday, Amotai told me that the horse in his book was going to the supermarket to buy grapes for Amotai to eat at the table, and food for me to cook. It's hard to believe that two years ago, it was him in the Moses basket. Who knows what Lily will be saying two years from now, 

Saturday, 31 August 2013

The Last Thursday

Two Thursdays ago was my last Thursday. By which I mean it was the last day I'll have at home from work with just Amotai. Both of my recent employers have been good enough to allow me to work longer hours on the other four days of the working week, plus chalk up some work during his nap, to be at home on Thursdays. This has helped me shift from being a stay-at-home dad to going back to work. It's been really good, for me as a dad and I think for him too. Mum, as you'd expect, is Amotai's number one parent, but the time off with him has helped even things up a little.

There was a time I got stuck in a rut of doing the same thing every week, and there's been times when it's been a bit stressful, when I had chores and urgent work to do and a boy who wasn't sleeping. But in the last few months, I've got the balance right. I juggled work so there was nothing with a deadline that day. I did more chores at other times so I could take it easy on Thursday. I mixed it up a bit and left our suburb or met a friend.
My memory is rubbish, so I'd like to record that last Thursday for posterity. If that sounds as interesting as staring at a beige wall (and non-parents especially, I totally understand) then read no more!

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Pregnancy take two

It's with a real feeling of deja vu that I wrap up work almost exactly two years after I did last time, to have a baby due a mere three days before Amotai's second birthday. In many ways, being pregnant again feels very similar, especially as the seasons change at the same rate as I slow down. In both cases, I felt seedy and dehydrated in late summer, experienced the lovely second 'glowing' trimester over autumn and early winter, and am now starting to slow down at the same time that daffodils start to appear. I have now worn my ugly pregnancy coat for a second winter.

There are differences, though, doing this pregnancy malarkey a second time. Of note:

Saturday, 22 June 2013

A Memory of Light and The Wheel of Time series reviews

It took more than two decades, 14 books and more than four million words. Hundreds of characters fighting and angsting and sniffing through dozens of intertwining and sometimes interminable plots. But finally, finally, The Wheel of Time fantasy series came to an end this year. I finished the final book, A Memory of Light a few weeks ago.

I've told the story of my stormy affair with The Wheel of Time before, in my entry about author Robert Jordan's tragic death. It's a bit weird to think that I've been reading it my entire adult life.

If you're planning to read A Memory of Light still, or want to read the series, don't read on if you want to avoid spoilers. Oh, and this is a long review. It's a long series. I've been reading it since 1991. And it's my blog, dammit (well, partly).

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

New land for old

Lauren, Amotai and I recently returned from Amotai's first trip overseas, and our big holiday for the year. It was a trip all about new stuff - we treaded new ground, heading to Sydney, the Blue Mountains and Adelaide, which we've not been to before (except for airport stopovers and a short trip to Sydney for work by Lauren a couple of years ago). And of course it was a new experience doing a big trip with a toddler. More on that in another entry.

We had a few doubts before the trip. Would Amotai cope with planes? Would he cope with being shunted around to lots of new and strange places? Would we get that buzz from travel, going to the culturally most similar country to home? Yes, sort of and hell yes.

I love going to new places. I get a mild kick out of walking down suburban roads I've never been on. I really like a new bush walk. New part of the world? Woop woop woop!

Sunset Rock, Mt Victoria, The Blue Mountains

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

All gone raisins

Something's happened to Amotai since Christmas. You're always aware that a baby/toddler is sucking up information like a vacuum cleaner and the speed at which they grown and change is (despite how many times you hear or say it) amazing. But in the last couple of months Amotai's brain seems to have been supercharged. It's as if you can see his synapses firing and neurons making new connections while you watch him.

I think the reason why he seems to have gone into cognitive hyperdrive is because he's talking so much more.   His first word was "dap" (clap), back in September last year. "Dat" (as in 'what's that') came soon after. After that he started saying other words, such as "did" (dad), but interestingly not 'mum', "bid" (bird), "tee" (tree) and "tar" (car). Tar, tar, tar, tar. Our boy sure does love his vehicles. I often stand holding him beside our driveway and we watch the traffic rush by. I'm always the one to crack first and go back inside. A few nights ago he said "yay car" in his sleep.

Amotai's favourite tar - Grandad Ray's Mondomobile