/karen/

Astrid (at almost eight months)

Saturday, 09 April, 2011

I wanted to do an update at seven months but never got to it, so this will have to do. I'm also a bit zombie-ish today and am not sure how coherent this post will be but I'll do my best; please bear with me.

Development

I remember people telling me that the time goes quick but I don't think I really understood what they meant. Now I do. The number of changes and amount of development that occurs in the life of a little human in the first year alone is just staggering: in that space of time, they learn to hold up their heads, roll over, sit up (and stay sitting up), crawl, stand and sometimes even walk (I've been told that boys usually learn to walk later than girls do). They also grow teeth (painful!) and learn to eat solid food. Some of them even start talking (i.e. say their first word—as opposed to baby babble) before their first birthday.

Astrid is almost eight months and already she can roll over, crawl (backwards; she's still working on forwards. Apparently they do backwards first because they have better control of their arms), sit up, pull herself into a sitting position from crawling, bear her own weight standing (if you hold her up), and eat solid food (instead of pushing it out with her tongue; a bit more about that later). She's got her two bottom teeth and the top ones are currently on their way. It's such a contrast to how she used to be. She looks very different too—so much so, I look at the photos from around when she was born and can hardly believe that she is the same person. Yet she is.

It may sound weird, but I keep not thinking of her in terms of her age but just as who she is, and so I keep forgetting she's still a baby. It's not that I'm expecting her to do advanced calculus or run a marathon; it's just a quirk of my personality—that I tend to think of people as being “them” (in terms of character, essence, or whatever you call it) instead of them as a 25-year-old, 36-year-old, 64-year-old, etc. This means that people's ages end up surprising me as I don't really think of myself in relation to them being older or younger or whatever. To me, sometimes it seems like everyone is the same age—unless there is a vast gap between me and someone else. Do you do that too?

I don't feel like I'm explaining myself properly. Blame the fatigue.

One last thing for this section: it's been nice having her alert and more aware of her surroundings and other people. She is interested in everything—in mundane stuff that we don't think twice about because we're used to it. I have to remember that everything is new to her and that she doesn't necessarily know what's going on. The Raising Children Network DVD that we were given in our parent pack by the hospital (and the Australian government)—

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—said to be aware of “teachable moments”—times when we can explain to her what's going on. So the other night Ben was in the kitchen making dinner while I was feeding her her dinner, and she was getting distracted and stopped eating to watch him, so I asked him to talk to her and tell her what he was doing. Who knows how much she actually takes in, but it's good for us to remember to do that.

Sleep

I like to think that Astrid's “normal” is sleeping through, but she hasn't been doing it for the past couple of weeks because of this current growth spurt. She's a pretty good sleeper, and would regularly clock up 6-10 hours straight per night. The growth spurt means she's back to newborn waking—feeds every three to four hours. (People tell me to check whether she's actually hungry as opposed to wanting comfort, but no: she's actually hungry, and she'll feed every time.) It's driving me a bit batty. I'm trying to return to my newborn sleep habits but unfortunately she's a lot more alert and awake now than she was back then. In the first couple of months, she'd wake for a feed and a nappy change, and then be ready to go back to bed about an hour to an hour and a half after waking. Now, sometimes she will go back down at around the one and a half hour mark, but often she won't—or she's not quite there yet and needs a bit longer awake. She still sleeps in the day but her naps are usually only 40-50 minutes long (2 hours is quite unusual for her, but every now and then she will have that). This means that when she is awake proper (which can be anywhere between 6-8 am), it's harder for me to go back to bed to get that last couple of hours of sleep. Strangely enough, even though Astrid has resumed waking in the night at the moment, she is not more tired in the morning; she's still raring to go. So increasingly I've been waking Ben to take over and feed her breakfast, play with her a bit and then re-settle her back to sleep. I realise I'm really fortunate I can do that; if he didn't work from home and it was just me all day, I'd probably have to start going to bed earlier—like when she does (at around 8-9 pm instead of 10-11 pm).

40-minute daytime sleeps mean that you can't really get much done—not like when she would sleep 2 hours before the next feed. Again, I'm fortunate to have Ben at home, which means that on Mondays, he can watch her for a bit while I run around doing a bit housework. It also means that she usually gets dragged along to things I have to do/want to do, which may not be the greatest fun for her, but then life isn't all about play and fun, and as a friend pointed out, you have to consider what sort of child you want in the future—one who is patient and is able to entertain herself by herself or one who gets bored easily and is always bugging you.

Fortunately by now she knows how to re-settle herself if she wakes in the night. She's not at the stage where she can fall asleep by herself every time; sometimes she still gets quite overtired and hasn't quite clued into the fact that when you go to sleep, you have to stop rolling and trying to crawl around your cot, and instead lie still and shut your eyes. But she doesn't seem to need as much intervention from us as she used to; we used to rock her in our arms and then put her down, and then we realised that wasn't sustainable (especially as she put on weight and got heavier!), so we changed things so that we read her a story first, then put on one of the sleep playlists I've made for her (of classical music), then sit by her cot (before: bassinet), with one hand on her, either gently stroking her or rocking her back and forth, then as she keeps more and more drowsy and falls asleep, leaving a hand still on her for a bit before gradually removing it and slipping out of the room. These days, we don't have to do the last bit with the hand as much.

Food

Other parents told me that things would keep changing, but again, I had no idea what they meant. (I probably should have asked them to elaborate.) The World Health Organisation's current recommendation is to breastfeed exclusively for at least six months, but then other experts are now saying that you should start solid food with babies earlier (say at around four months) because they don't get all their iron needs from breastmilk alone. Still, for the first year at least, they seem to get most of their nutrition from breastmilk.

Your supply of breastmilk varies according to demand, so if your baby feeds less, you'll have less of it, and vice versa. However, your body (or so I've been told) also gets more efficient at processing it. (I'm not sure how this affects breast size, but certainly when you wean, you need a smaller, possibly returning to your former size.) Astrid at birth would feed for ages—20-40 minutes each side. Within a month, she was down to 10 minutes per side. Now it's something like 4-6 minutes per side, and sometimes not even that. Even so, she does longer feeds sometimes—like the last feed before bed, or in the middle of the night, or the first feed of the day—and those can be back to 10 minutes per side again.

Introducing solids marks the beginning of the weaning process. We started Astrid on them at around 5.5 months, and I basically followed the recommended feeding guide put out by Heinz (one of the parents in my Facebook group linked to it). It took a while to get going because I had to get my head around it first, plus I wasn't quite sure how to do certain things like purée fruits and vegetables and freeze them. (Thank goodness for YouTube …) I bought these freezer pods from Wean Meister, and I must say they have been wonderfully convenient. (I also like that they are versatile and can be used for other stuff beyond baby things.) I gave her rice cereal first, then introduced pear, apple, pumpkin, carrot, carrot and sweet potato, avocado and broccoli. This is cooked pear:

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This is cooked puréed pear fresh from the blender into the Wean Meister pods:

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This is pear mixed with rice cereal (because pear on its own is a little too tart, which isn't nice for babies):

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And this is a mix of stuff ready to freeze: puréed pees, puréed broccoli and slices of avocado (because avocado freezes better when it's in slices):

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At another friend's recommendation, I bought some bibs from Bumkins, and I'm very happy with them. (They're waterproof, and can be cleaned and taken places easily. Astrid isn't really a drooler [even when teething] so doesn't need to wear the terrytowelling bibs, so I find that these are the only bibs she uses.) I bought four, but think in hindsight I probably should have gotten five because, although initially I was feeding her solids at breakfast, lunch and dinner, now she's up to five meals a day (we've added morning and afternoon tea). Oh well.

She's also up to the next stage of eating, which is introducing meat and yoghurt. I've only started this in the last week or so, so it's just been chicken at the moment. (I think they say start with chicken and fish, then move onto red meat.) (Hmm, I did not take a picture of the puréed chicken …)

But for a while, she just refused solids, which was rather frustrating as I would prepare her food and then it would get thrown out. (Not eating any solids also meant that she stopped sleeping through, and resumed feeding at night.) A friend suggested that perhaps she wanted to try feeding herself, so I had to lay aside my loathing of mess and give her some control. (Already I can tell she's going to be stubborn like me and Ben.) I used to feed her in her bouncer (because she wasn't sitting up yet), but then I started her in the highchair, and moved the highchair into the kitchen to make the mess easier to clean. I also gave her her own spoon (which means that we have two spoons for each feed). She holds and controls one (and tries to put the food in her mouth [and instead gets it all over her face and sometimes her clothes, and in her hair, and I got to tell you, this is one drawback to having so much hair], or she flings it across the kitchen, or she drops the spoon on the floor), and I use the other one to put food in her mouth whenever she opens it for her spoon. I am a bit worried I'm being sneaky and that she won't trust me anymore as I'm making her do something she sort of doesn't want to (or at least in the way she doesn't want to do it), but I think she understands that she's not quite there at feeding herself, and that she needs my help to eat the stuff, otherwise we'd be there forever. So at the moment, it's working like this:

Then she will have a top-up feed of breastmilk before bed.

I haven't been game to change things around so that she has solids first and then breastmilk. I did try once, but she protested very loudly, so I think I will wait until she's through this growth spurt and things are calmer, and then try again.

It's been interesting teaching her to eat and drink—to swallow the food instead of pushing it out with her tongue (which is called the tongue extrusion reflex, and it happens because babies use their tongues differently when taking milk from the breast) and to take the water from the sippy cup by not sucking on it (as opposed to sucking on the breast). I have to remember that teaching her about eating is a lifelong thing—that it also involves stuff about nutrition and eating healthy, having a good relationship with food (as opposed to feeling guilty about eating things, overeating, comfort eating, bulimia, anorexia, etc. This article on families struggling with an anorexic child was eye-opening), how to enjoy food, and so on.

Eating solids has also changed the nature of her poop, but the less said about that, the better, I think. I've finally moved her into the standard inserts for the Bumgenius nappies, and I've also stopped doing the nightly changes as per what the Raising Children Network DVD says to do; instead, I add the newborn insert to the standard insert (making what I jokingly call a “super nappy”), and don't change that at night unless she's done a poo (and she usually hasn't). It's full by morning but not leaking.

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Starting Astrid on solids is a massive contrast to solely breastfeeding her because it means being way more organised—accommodating her dietary needs into the grocery shop, making the time to purée and freeze things, making sure that I defrost what I need for the day, packing her meals (plus spoon plus bib plus a washer to wipe down her face at the end of it all) whenever we are out for an extended period of time, and so on. With breastfeeding, you carry her food with you (well, on you) and it's always ready when you need it (instead of having to warm things up, or mix up some water and rice cereal). I look forward to the day when she can eat pretty much what we eat and things are easier (they say that happens at around 12 months).

Even though she is now on solids for five meals a day, during this growth spurt, as I said, she still wakes at night, but she also will cluster feed in the evenings—sometimes wanting breastmilk once an hour for several hours. (Yes, I'm 100 per cent sure that's what she wants; it's not comfort she's after, it's milk.) This means I haven't been able to go out in the evenings—not that I was doing much of that before, but I was starting to. It's a little depressing for me (e.g. last night I was planning to go to a craft night at a friend's house but had to pull out), but I have to bear in mind that this is just temporary and things will get easier as she becomes less reliant on me and can be left with other people. (Patience, Karen, patience …)

One positive of all this cluster feeding is that I have lost weight without doing much exercise. (Ongoing PGP issues means that I can't really do any form of strenuous exercise anyway.) Breastfeeding means that you need to consume extra calories, and I guess I'm not getting as much as I should be. But I can now fit into jeans I haven't been able to wear for years. That's rather nice!

One last thing about food: being on solids and letting her have more control over the spoon, as well as allowing her to touch and play with her food, means that she gets way dirtier these days. Oh yeah: crawling also adds to that (especially crawling outdoors!) So we're bathing her more often than we used to. Fortunately she can now sit up, which I think it a lot nicer for her. Once or twice I've even bathed her in the big bath (as opposed to the baby bath)—either getting into the tub with her or keeping a firm grip on her while leaning over the side. I now understand why many parents leave the bath until the last thing of the day: then you can clean off all the mess, food and dirt that has accumulated since breakfast, and put your child in clean clothes!

Equipment

Speaking of clothes (err, I did already, didn't I), Astrid is now into size 0. As I said in my post on fashion, I've been concentrating on getting her onesies/rompers (without feet because she has big feet and the ones that have feet are usually too small), plus warm things for winter. I'm not sure I've gotten enough but I have to remember that perhaps a good approach is to also see what she needs as she needs it. I also plan to knit her a few things but I'm in the middle of another project at the moment, so I may not get to that for a while (good thing baby clothes are relatively fast to knit!)

The costs really add up with kids and clothes, so it's nice that people gave us so many things at my baby shower, I hardly had to buy anything in the 000 and 00 sizes. I look forward to the day when ThredUp reaches Australian shores (it's like BookMooch but for children's clothes … err, that makes no sense unless you know what BookMooch is …) In the meantime, there's eBay, the Baby and Kids Market (which are held all over the place), and, of course, borrowing from other families. (So at the moment, my sister-in-law and I have swapped clothes: she's got all the warm 00 stuff that doesn't fit Astrid anymore but which will fit our niece, and she's lent us a bunch of size 0 stuff that our nephew used to wear. We'll give it back when our niece reaches that size.) I do confess to being a little fussy about things like colours, but really, there's only so much pink one can handle …

Now that Astrid's rolling, we've moved to infant sleeping bags. I can see how they make sense because it's hard to keep a wriggly baby under blankets when they're just raring to roll around the cot. My parents-in-law gave us a Grobag when Astrid was born (size for 0-6 months, 1.0 tog; the “tog” rating refers to how warm it is). Astrid will grow out of it shortly. Unfortunately in this country, Grobags are hideously expensive—about RRP $90 each. They're made in the UK, where they're cheaper, but UK distributors won't ship here. I've managed to get around the problem by buying a bunch on Amazon UK and sending them to a friend's house, and as she's coming to visit in a week or two, she's very kindly agreed to bring them over for me. I know a lot of parents buy two of each size and each tog so that they can put one in the wash if it get soiled, but I figured I could get by with one of each and a cheapo brand for wash days.

I've mentioned all the eating stuff (spoons, bowls, sippy cups, Wean Meisters), so let's move onto babyproofing. We haven't done heaps of that yet as Astrid isn't crawling heaps (only backwards crawling; once she gets going and wants to explore everywhere, I'm sure we'll have to do more). A friend said wait to see what she goes for instead of going through and doing everything, which seems like pretty sensible advice. We were given this barrier for when Astrid is ready for an adult-sized bed—

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—and it's currently sitting in front of the television stuff so that Astrid doesn't fiddle with that stuff. The other major thing is a safety gate for the kitchen, which I managed to get off eBay secondhand for much cheaper than retail:

Safety gate plus extension

(Though I did have to get a 7cm extension for the gate, and then discovered that several years ago, Lindam had changed the side fittings of their gates, and so things got a little stressful as I had to call home, get Ben to photograph the ends and SMS me the photo so I could make sure I bought the right ones, and then I was driving home in rush hour traffic all the while conscious that Astrid was up and wanting to feed but I wasn't there … guh. Anyway, there's a lesson there: be careful with what you get on eBay because some of that secondhand stuff may not necessarily work with newer things you need to purchase.)

Pram-wise, I can't remember if I mentioned this in my last post, but at 5 months or so, we changed things around from using the carrycot so now things look like this:

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(Err, that's Astrid under the sun and bug shield, which is down in that photo because of the sun.)

Mommy-dom

Further to my last post on dealing with the change to motherhood, I find that I'm still learning and adjusting. I'm learning new skills (e.g. how to make food for my baby). I'm learning what I can and can't do with Astrid in tow. I'm learning what she's capable of now at this stage of her development. I'm learning how to be both structured yet flexible (this is a massive thing for me as I tend more towards the structured rather than the flexible)—timing things around sleeps, feeds and nappy changes. For example, if she feeds at 9 am, I know that she'll want to feed next at 12 pm (i.e. lunchtime feed) and that she may want to have a nap at around 10:30 am. I've learned how to get Astrid to sleep while on the move (putting her in the pram with the sun and bug shield down [this blocks out all distractions], then moving or jiggling the pram works a treat). I'm also learning how to keep going from day to day, week to week (remember, motherhood doesn't come with many breaks). I find that if I plan to do things—even if it's simple stuff like printing some sheet music for children's songs and playing them on our keyboard while Astrid sits on my lap, or taking Astrid to a park and going for a little (very slow because of PGP) walk—it usually helps, otherwise I tend to go a little crazy on days when it's mostly her and me.

I'm also learning to be way less selfish. I became less selfish when I got married because now I was mindful of someone else (i.e. Ben) all the time. But now with Astrid, she is so dependent on me (well, us) for everything, I find I spend a good portion of my day doing things for someone other than myself—far more than I used to. Ben, at least, can make his own lunch; Astrid can't. Astrid can't even feed herself (though she tries); she needs to me to help her. That's pretty confronting. Furthermore, because everything takes twice as long (e.g. I have to feed her and then I have to feed myself; I can't really do both at the same time), that really doesn't leave that much time to myself—something I struggle with a little as an introvert. I realise that all this is good for my godliness (à la 1 Timothy 4:7-8) and that I am becoming a better person for it. It does make me wonder whether parenthood has that affect on everybody, and whether the culture is different in places that don't value traditional marriage, family and children. We are lucky in Australia that society generally is very pro-baby: when I'm out and about, it still surprises me that people smile and say hello to Astrid, and chat to me about how old she is and what she is doing. It makes living in Sydney a bit friendlier!

However, I am also aware sometimes of how life has changed—not just with the whole less socialising and going out that I mentioned in my post on motherhood and change, but also with the kind of company I find myself keeping—usually other mothers and babies. This is refreshing in one sense (because I've never hung out with mothers and babies before). But I also get a little sick of it, and long for some balance from other demographics. A couple of months back, my mother's group arranged a night out for the girls. We went to Bloodwood for dinner (which I recommend; it was delicious—even the trifle, and I don't normally like trifle). Because I was out, Ben had to be home, so he asked some people to come over. Most of them had left by the time I returned, but a few were still there—one of Ben's school friends and a friend from Wild Street. Because I don't get to hang out with guys much anymore, I was a little naughty and irresponsible, staying up very late and talking to them. (I won't say how late; the parenting police might come take me away.) I was completely wrecked the next day (well, both Ben and I were), but it was totally worth it because I had fun.

The state of modern motherhood is something I've become interested in, and I find myself gravitating towards articles of that nature in my reading around the internets (I find them through Twitter). I realise that a lot of what's out there is heavily influenced by second-wave feminism (and certainly this article in the Guardian on how modern motherhood tends to resemble 1950s housewifedom is like that). But that Guardian article was really helpful for me not just for understanding how the change to parenthood affects both husband and wife, mother and father; it also made me realise that we do, in fact, have stacks of choice. We just forget we do. It doesn't have to be mum stays home with the baby and does most of the parenting while dad goes off to work (hi ho!); there are ways for parents to share the load in this country (even if our parental leave scheme is nowhere near as wonderful as Sweden's). When Astrid is older, perhaps I will become the breadwinner while Ben stays home with her. Or perhaps we can split the load and each work part-time (with maybe one day with her in childcare/pre-school when she's 3 or 4). It may be a little harder (and perhaps we will have another little Beilz by then so the plan may be different), but we need to keep talking about it and supporting each other in what we want to do. (For example, at the moment, I want to try and concentrate on writing a bit more, which is hard at the moment, but not impossible.)

The change to parenthood is affecting our marriage a lot, but I don't want to write about that at the moment; I think that sort of topic requires more time and reflection (if I ever do blog about it here; I may not).

Week by week

So what's life like at the moment? Fairly similar to six months:

Monday

Once a fortnight, our cleaning lady comes to vacuum, clean the bathroom and the kitchen, and do a little dusting. On the alternate weeks, I vacuum and clean the kitchen and bathroom floors. I have been taking Astrid to Music Time at church, and it's been fun learning new songs and things to do with her at home, as well as meet some of the other mums (some of whom aren't Christian). Music Time is over for the term at the moment, but I plan to go as much as I can for the rest of the year.

Little Rachel hasn't been as free to meet lately, though we have gotten together a little for lunch. Otherwise, I head home for lunch and to put Astrid down for a nap. I also start the laundry (as well as tackle the housework on the weeks our cleaning lady doesn't come), sometimes asking Ben to keep an eye on Astrid as she plays.

Most of the laundry is done by the evening, depending on how much there is. Ben will make dinner (or heat leftovers), and somehow we will fit in eating around feeding Astrid her dinner and getting her ready for bed. After giving her her last feed, I'll hand things over to Ben so he can settle her to sleep, then I'll go and do the dishes. If we are fortunate, we will have a couple of hours before bed to watch a little TV, though sometimes Ben still works into the night. We try to go to bed before midnight.

Tuesday

Mother's group still meets between 12 and 2 pm. We are meeting in parks more, although the weather is sometimes bad and plans can change at the last minute. Parks are good because we can spread picnic blankets on the ground and the babies can roll around and play with all the toys each of us brings. (We're not too concerned about them chewing or drooling on each other's toys, and most of the mums are pretty good at keeping their bubs at home if they're sick.) I usually pack some lunch if we're meeting in the park, but I've found I'm the only one who does that; the other mums must either eat before or after.

After mother's group, I bring Astrid home and hand her over to Ben, then usually I drive to Newtown and meet Guan to do some writing (or working on the Plan to Take Over the World). (Bec unfortunately can't always make it.) Sometimes Guan can't make it either—in which case, I just go to our local café instead of going to Newtown. I try to be home by the next feed (which can be a little hard what with rush hour traffic and my own selfishness at wanting to write a bit more—finish this sentence, this paragraph), but hopefully it will get easier as Astrid starts taking less breastmilk and more solids.

I also try to get our groceries delivered on Tuesday afternoons because Ben will usually be home to receive them and because mornings are pretty terrible for us. So often there will be fresh food in our house by the time I get home again.

Same thing applies regarding dinner and sleep.

Wednesday

Ben sees his personal trainer in the morning and I go to a mothers' Bible study group. There's only three of us in the group and it's not a church-run thing; it sort of started because one of my friends who lives local was close to giving birth, and she asked me about Bible study and I said I didn't know what to do about it because it's hard to do evening groups with a baby, but at the same time, I have trouble attending anything that meets earlier than 10:30 am because I really need those extra couple of hours of sleep at the moment, which means the church mums' Bible study group isn't really feasible. So my friend suggested we start our own and have it meet at a later time. Another friend at church whose bub is about Astrid's age was also keen, so we've been trying to meet regularly for the past five weeks or so. There was only two of us for a few weeks as my pregnant friend finally gave birth, but now her baby is a couple of weeks old, she's keen to resume. (Amazing; I know I wasn't up for Bible study again at that stage!) There are a couple of other mums we know who are keen to come along too, but don't quite feel ready. So we will see if the group grows.

At the moment, we are working through Mike Taylor's Bible brief on Psalms 1-20 (see Briefing #372). I figured that was a good one to start with as the Psalms are usually short, the Bible brief is short and easily digestible, and we can use the questions as a launch pad for looking at the text. We don't always get to pray together because of the demands of babies, but I record the prayer points on my iPhone and email them around later so that we can keep on praying for each other throughout the week.

We return home for lunch, and the afternoon is either spent at home doing chores (folding and putting away the laundry is the main one), or sometimes I take Astrid out to run errands or visit people. Then the same thing applies for the evening, though occasionally Ben is out—either for a concert, or visiting a friend—in which case, I handle the bedtime stuff for Astrid.

Thursday

I try to do something that I find nice on this day. But it has to be something I can do with Astrid. Once I took her into the city on the train. We got off at St James, walked around Hyde Park a bit, then I spread a picnic rug on the grass and we had some lunch. Then I took her for a walk around Westfield Sydney (so she would sleep) while I poked around in the shops, I gave her a nappy change in Myer (because the parents' room for Westfield Sydney is not located in the main part of the shopping centre; it's actually tricky to find), then we had afternoon tea at The Tea Centre, before walking to Town Hall and catching the train home.

Another time I took her to Bicentennial Park in Glebe, and we walked around, then I found a shady spot on the grass to spread a picnic blanket where I fed her lunch. Then I took her to Blackwattle Café where I enjoyed a very nice (but rather pricey) lunch, and then rocked her to sleep in the pram, then I walked slowly back to the car so she could sleep a bit longer, and we drove to a friend's house so I could watch her little boy for a bit while the friend packed boxes in preparation for moving house, and then we went home for another nap when the little boy needed to go down for a sleep.

It's harder to be out and about when it's raining. Then the only options are staying home or hanging out in a shopping centre (which is convenient but boring). Rhodes is a very child-friendly shopping centre, with very well-equipped parents' rooms at both ends, IKEA and Reading Cinemas, which has a special room for parents and babies (they call them “cry rooms” the way churches do) in their two biggest cinemas, which means you can watch current movies without having to be at a mums and bubs session and without bothering other audience members. (Mind you, hardly anyone goes to the movies during the day anyway, so you could be in the theatre all by yourself anyway.)

One rainy day I decided to stay home but take it easy: I didn't do any housework, I played with Astrid when she was up, but also watched a little TV with her (I figure a little is okay), read books with her, had a bath with her (with bath toys!) and played piano with her, and that was rather nice and relaxing in its own way.

The evenings on Thursdays are much the same, although sometimes Ben might be out.

Friday

The mornings are fairly laidback or filled with housework-y type things (e.g. washing or stuffing the cloth nappies), but in the afternoon, I drive to my mum's place so Astrid can spend a bit of time with her and Peter. They look after her and I go upstairs to my mum's bedroom where she's set up a desk as her creative space (separate from her office, which is where she does all her academic work). In between feeds, I try and do a little writing (or work on the Plan to Take Over the World). My mum will settle Astrid for an afternoon nap, then I'll feed her when she wakes and we'll head home.

Sometimes Friday evening is date night; sometimes Ben is out. If it's date night, sometimes we get takeaway, or we eat out. We haven't quite worked out how to do it around Astrid's bedtime routine, so we might have to keep working on that, or I will have to start going to my mum's a bit earlier than I have been.

Saturday

We're trying to do more things as a family on Saturdays, but it's a little tricky sometimes. Also, we need to keep thinking of things to do. But sometimes Ben will give me some relief time by taking Astrid for a walk in the afternoon, and I will potter, have a nap or do whatever. Sometimes we have social things on that we will attend. Sometimes it's pretty cruisey.

In the evening, sometimes it's date night and sometimes Ben is out with friends. When Ben is out, I usually settle in front of the TV and knit, then go to bed, which is pretty much R&R for an introvert.

Sunday

Sometimes Sundays mean social things; sometimes they mean more admin-y/prep things. On Sunday, I try to prepare for the week ahead, and I sit down with Ben and talk through it with him so we're both on the same page.

Church is on in the evenings, and depending on how Astrid is, I stay around and chat for a bit, or take her home straight away, then have some dinner and finish my prep.

Any down time is often filled with odds and ends sort of activities—dealing with my email, checking in with social networking, uploading and tweeting photos/videos of Astrid for the relatives on my private Flickr feed, and so on.

Which reminds me: I should really finish this post with a photo. This one was taken by Toby. I like it because she's smiling and also because it's got both her and me in it:

Toby IMG_3259 cropped

All right. Enough rambling. Until next time.

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