29 November 2011

Ever wondered what is going on in there?

Yesterday Layla turned 19 months. We have entered the next phase in the lead up to her second birthday, that heralds so many changes as she transitions from a baby to a child.

The other night, Layla and I spent many hours awake for no particular reason. While these waking periods have now become somewhat infrequent, I often find myself thinking, as I sit in the dark, about how many nights and hours I have spent holding Layla at night since she was born. So much has changed during that time. In someways it feels like we brought her home form hospital yesterday and at other times it feels like a lifetime ago.

Over the past months Layla's self designed signing skills have developed exponentially. She has managed to develop her own way of letting Daniel and I know what she wants without transitioning to fully developed speech. While she is talking more and more each day, she relies heavily on her sign language to get her message across. Last night her performance would have impressed even Marcel Marceau. She told me, through her signing, that she required me to pat her in order for her to to go back to sleep. This was after she signalled the need for a drink on several occasions.

It is amazing to watch how her skills and ability develop as the days and weeks fly by. I found this amazing website that focuses on baby/toddler/child brain development. Select the age bracket and the interactive website shows you the parts of the brain associated with certain skills and their development. I was entranced for hours the other night as I learnt and contemplated all that is going on inside of Layla's cute little head.

20 November 2011

The fascination of one's self

My sister always says that there is nothing more fascinating than one's self. Ever noticed that people (me included) cannot help but check themselves out when passing a shop window, standing in a lift with a mirror or in the rear vision mirror of their cars? There is something strange, disturbing yet comforting in seeing your own image. It is amazing to see how Layla reacts to herself in the mirror. She is and has always been fascinated with pictures of herself. I'm still not sure she realises that the little person staring back at her is herself. Beyond the fascination of the mirror, Layla is mesmerised and obsessed with photos and videos of herself taken on my phone. She asks to watch them everyday without fail and generally has a melt down when I bore of the activity and pack the phone away.

No matter if you love or hate having photos taken of yourself, when the expiry of your drivers licence or passport rolls around, most of us cringe at having to have our photo taken. Just recently I was faced with this dilemma. I pulled out my expiring licence and closely examined the picture. There I was, in my licence photo, wearing a suit, posing for the image that would grace my ID for the next five years. Who was the girl in the photo taken five years ago? She was a single career woman who was living with her boyfriend in Randwick. She worked very long hours and was dedicated to her career. She went to the gym 4-5 times a week and spent her weekends socialising with friends and family. She travelled extensively and had no idea what the next five years would hold. As I held my licence, I began to wonder where I would be in another five years time when I once again would be faced with a licence renewal. Did I want to look back at my photo and think "Wow....look how tired and dishevelled I looked! Being a new Mum really took it out of me"? I certainly did not. So, as a result, I did something very vain and contrived. I got dressed up, put on make up and jewellery and took myself off to the hairdressers for my normal cut/colour visit. After a number of hours in the salon chair and feeling a million bucks, I went to have my licence renewed. The photos was taken and my image captured for the next five years. I never thought I would ever say this about my licence, but I LOVE the photo. On days when I feel tired, worn out, filthy and exhausted, I look at the photo and smile. Under the caked on food, the old jeans and runners as well as the tightly tied back hair lies woman who is momentarily hiding. I'm sure she'll be back for good when the next photo is taken!

So enough about me! My stories were not the reason I started writing this blog. The reason was to share ideas and insights as well as lessons learnt about being a parent. I recently followed the idea of Layla's fascination with photos of herself by making her a book about herself. I was inspired by a cousin of mine in Melbourne who put together a photo book of her son for her husband on Fathers Day. I decided to create a book for Layla called "Mamma, Dadda and Me". The book tells the story of Layla - from my pregnancy, through to her birth and onto all the things we love to do together. I had it made in a small soft cover size that Layla can read herself. Needless to say that the book has become a bedtime favourite (actually any time of the day!). The project cost me under $10 delivered and is not only a fascination to Layla but a beautiful keep sake.

"I love my Dadda, I really really do. I love my Mamma, yes it's true.
I love the places we go and the things we see.
I love all the things we do together.
I love my Mamma and my Dadda and they love me!"
I took up a recent deal on one of the multitude of daily deal sites and made another book for Layla. This book is called "My Family" and features pictures of Layla, Daniel and I as well as Layla's grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. I can't wait for it to arrive in order to show Layla. She is going to be thrilled!

17 November 2011

Joining the club

Before I had a baby, I felt that a number of friends with new family additions had forgotten me. It seemed that when their small person arrived, their friends got let behind. I was angry, miffed, concerned and generally lost as to the reason. When I had a baby, it wasn't long before I understood the reason for the disappearance of my once friends. It seemed that this tiny person occupied so much time, that there was little, if any time left for the previous social activities that had dominated my life. It wasn't a reflection on my friends but rather a sign of the times. I had joined a club where free time is measured in minutes rather than hours, indulgences are limited to things I once deemed to be necessities and topics of discussion shift to baby development, feeding and sleeping.

This got me thinking about the concept of joining a club. I bought a new wallet a few months back. It's a lovely colour and style but somewhat insufficient. I have so many club cards that I can hardly close the wallet. There are cards for clothing stores, coffee shops, sellers of kids stuff and fitness groups. Despite a recent cull, the number of cards are out of control. The cards tell a story of the things I like, the places I go, the things I do and places I belong. I feel a degree of commitment to these providers as evidenced by my need to carry their cards around everywhere I go. I believe that these providers peddle goods and services I want, need and believe to be the best for me. When I had a baby and joined the parental club, there were a lot of invisible club cards I started carrying without even knowing it. These cards were for certain brands, practices, beliefs and alliances that I believed to be the best and right for me and my child. In taking this stand on my club membership alliances, I joined the debate as to what is best and right.

I recently read this article that struck a chord for me.....

As women we forget that everyone has a right to make choices as to the clubs they join, based on what is right for them and their families. There are no right and wrong answers but rather the best choice for individuals. We need to stop pressuring other women to join one club over the other or comment that the choice a woman has made was wrong. Whether it is the brand of pram, breastfeeding over bottles, whether to offer a dummy or not, co sleeping or baby sleeping in their own beds, baths over showers or when to start solids, every mother has a reason for the choices she makes. Normally this is based on what is right for her child, her family, her relationship, their homes, her activities and so many other factors. So let's stop bagging each other for the clubs we belong to and realise we are all a part of the same club - Parenthood!

02 November 2011

A picture tells a thousand words

Layla is now 18 months old. Our days are busy with playing, learning, tantrums and exploring. Layla talks constantly. Her vocabulary is developing all the time. She understands everything and complements her jabbering with signing and hilarious facial expressions. You quickly realise with a baby and toddler, that everyday is about learning new things. Layla mimics our actions and behaviours as she learns how to exist as a little person.

I try to turn most of our activities into a learning experience. Bath time is no exception. Right from when Layla was only a few months old, we have always had books in the bath. Each night we read these stories and sing songs to match the pictures. I wanted to add a new dimension to bath time that matched her current stage of development. I recently purchased a cheap laminator from Office Works. I was surprised that I was able to get the machine and sleeves for under $30! I went through all of my old magazines and cut out a range of pictures of relevance to Layla - food, animals, clothes and plants. I then laminated each picture and cut them out. Now we use the pictures as story and talking points in the bath.

As time goes on I plan on introducing letters, words and more pictures to our bath time. The laminator has also come in handy for laminating photos of family and friends to use in games and everyday learning.