Wednesday, 31 December 2014

The ones that didn't make the cut... and happy new year!

One last turn on the carpet in Brisbane, before we moved out...
Is there such a thing as too many photos of Jimmy?
Push ups at the Manhattan Regional Airport...

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

What Jimmy is doing...

I thought it was high time to share some of the things Jimmy has been doing lately, things that are not vacuuming or playing in the snow...
He'll get my camera, turn it on and take photos. Usually of his feet or the carpet or the camera strap. He also just likes turning it on and then off, over and over. He will also leave little finger prints on the lens... and I don't realise they are there until after I've taken a dozen or so photos...
Walking. And holding my hand. It took some effort to get him to hold my hand while walking around, but he does it quite willingly now, and it is one of the best things ever. Especially when he puts his hand out for mine...
Jimmy likes getting into boxes of all sizes...
It can take a few goes...
And a bit of patience...
And then he looks at me or Michael and says "GO!"... He hasn't quite realised that not all boxes are created equal, and there are just some boxes that we simply cannot push around the apartment. No matter how insistent he is...
Mucking around with Dad. They play a little rougher than Jimmy and I do, which is good, because Jimmy needs the exertion (and Michael loves it), and the giggles... oh the giggles!
Jimmy has started moving things from one container to another, and back again or on to another container (or the floor). One night he took Michaels' empty bowl and started transferring his own dinner into it...
Anything will do... water from his cup into a bowl...
Or the last rose petals of the year...
Jimmy likes hanging out with us. He also likes being about to do thing we do, like walk about holding my mobile phone...
He has been enjoying the leaves on the ground and throwing the big blue ball on the tennis court...
Jimmy has been pretty good about being taken outside in almost any temperature... Here he is, when it was windy, icy, and I was hoping to catch some trick-or-treaters in action... we didn't see anyone, but it was cold...
Always the good helper, Jimmy wants a part in everything we do, even helping Dad attach the rear rack to his bicycle. We'll have him doing maintenance on his own little bicycle by the time he starts school...
Investigating, exploring, walking around, smiling and waving at strangers while Dad and Mum stand back and watch...
Although we stick close to him while he's on stairs...
Did I mention Jimmy's love of getting into boxes and saying "GO!"?

Jimmy also loves books, and through his love of books as come the love of hide-and-seek... one day Michael or I might remember to take a step back and take photo mid game... one day... when we're not engrossed in choosing the best hiding spots or making decoys...

Monday, 29 December 2014


"a portrait of my son, once a week, every week in 2014"

Jimmy: Let's go!

Christmas day, afternoon run-a-round with a new jumper (thanks Aunty L!) and my lovely, little sister, aka Aunty Asha, who was still slightly jetlagged after arriving on Tuesday. Coming from the Australian summer, Asha was feeling the cold* a bit more than we were but I did go back home for a light coat when I realised that it was windy. Jimmy was very comfortable in his new jumper. Michael was wearing his great coat and thongs/flipflops, in addition to what he'd worn during lunch, but you can't see him, because he's behind the camera, as he took this photo - he's taken so many great photos that have made their way here.

Can you believe that this is the last in this series for 2014? I know I didn't start at 1/52, and I know I thought I might go through photos and do them throughout the year, but I didn't. Looking back at the folder full of this series it's so amazing how much Jimmy has changed over the year. There's an equally amazing folder of photos that didn't make the cut**, but came oh-so-close, and another one with 3 photos that go towards the first 8 weeks of the year. As a Solstice/Christmas/New Years treat, here is the first one, taken at Story Bridge Adventure Climb, while Michael was taking a climb, way back in January.

Gone are the baby rolls, gummy smiles, and lots of naps, replaced by hair, teeth (he's just cutting his molars - it's so exciting!), and running. It's all kinds of crazy and completely normal, as Jimmy is doing exactly what a healthy baby, now toddler, should do - getting bigger and growing up.

I hope you enjoyed this series as much as I have. Here's to the 52 Project in 2015 and the growth it captures.

*Christmas day had a maximum of 13 C, here in Manhattan, KS, which was positively balmy, but not compared to Brisbane's 30 C
**I might share some of these before New Years Eve.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Happy Solstice!

Yesterday was the Winter Solstice here and we celebrated the change in the Earth's orientation quietly, with vegetable soup, ginger bread, mulled wine, and a felt solar system.
There are few words to describe our joy that the coming days are going to get longer, little by little, but longer none the less.
The last few days have also been warmer, which has been nice but the snow has melted, and it's lulling me into a false sense of security because the days are going to get colder... hopefully bringing more snow.
Thanks to Michael for this photo - it's not easy taking a photo of things on a window during the day, but night time with a tripod is much simpler. As you can see, we left Pluto out... poor Pluto... we have more felt, so we could make Pluto.

Hope you are well and looking forward to the changing hours of sunlight, wherever you are in the world. Happy Solstice!

Monday, 22 December 2014


"a portrait of my son, once a week, every week in 2014"

Jimmy: Exploring the winter wonderland...

Jimmy didn't know it, but it started snowing on Wednesday night, and by morning the snow was a couple of inches thick. He took a little convincing to get out of the apartment, but we did, and it was so much fun.

His new suit was great, and as the day was relatively warm (it was something like -1 C) he didn't need much under it. This meant plenty of free movement for exploring and investigating.

And then the sun came out yesterday, and melted it all.

Oh well. It's bound to snow again as winter progresses. At least the sun will start rising earlier and setting later, as of tomorrow.

Happy Solstice!

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Too low for zero...

Last week was a really tough one over here at the Playground... The functional unit that is our little family suffered as one member was really, really sick, and that member was me: I came down with the flu or something like it rather suddenly last Monday, and it took the wind right out of my sails, so to speak.

There was going to be no leaving the house until I was well... and we had skipped the weekly shop, with the intention that Jimmy and I would do it in dribs and drabs, but that wasn't going to happen. Not while I was heavily congested, sore all over, and feverish. So, it was going to be a week of eating what we had in the house, unless Michael happened to do some shopping...

Did we survive? Yes. Reasonably well actually, but:

  • I slept or was in bed at almost every opportunity over the past week, while somehow managing to keep up Jimmy's toilet training (more soon), and get dirty clothes and nappies washed and dried, possibly even folded and put away... Feeding Jimmy was a tricky task because I had little to no appetite, and somehow Jimmy wasn't too fussed (until we ran out of bananas...), and somehow I was still producing enough milk for him... 
  • Jimmy vacuumed and investigated the vacuum for most of the week, the poor boy didn't get outside once from Monday to Friday, and he also put in some really good snoring at night. And during his daytime nap too, which would go for over 2 hours some days, especially if I was napping too, so he might have been a little sick too - no, he wasn't, he was too energetic...
  • Michael was running on very little sleep (who can sleep while there are TWO snorers in the same room?), running out the door not long after we woke up (sunrise is around 7:35 or later, and our room faces north-west), returning home in the dark, only to have me disappear into the bedroom, leaving him with an energetic Jimmy and dinner prep. And the dishes. And bath duty. And story time.

Michael deserves an award for being a real champion last week.

But it was tough, because we lack the kind of community we'd built up in Brisbane, and we are far away from family. It was tough because I couldn't call up family and friends and ask them to take Jimmy for a few hours, so that I might get some more sleep - the few friends I do have here either aren't familiar enough with Jimmy or have small children of their own, and I wasn't interested spreading the ickiness. It was tough because we're too far away to ask my Dad (aka Pop) over for a few days to cook for us, so that Michael can have a break, even if it's only for 20 minutes.

We've had broken sleep, called family at 2:30 am, and were all out of honey, oranges, bananas, fresh vegetables, and frozen pizzas by Thursday because getting to the shops in the evenings was a little beyond us (it's cold, we don't have a car, and I wasn't going to ask Michael to go out after a long day at work - I was sick, not unreasonable (I hope)). What little sunlight we might have had was obscured by clouds, and it was too cold to go out anyway... At least the K-State dairy was open, so Michael could get some eggs and milk on his lunchbreak. And we had emergency backup foods, for just this sort of thing... And a package arrived, with two presents for Jimmy and a Christmas cake*.

The ultimate outcome is that we have a stronger resolve to be back in Australia by May 2015. Being this far from home is ok, while we're ok and well, but I haven't been so sick in years and I haven't been so drained since my first trimester with Jimmy, so last week we were not ok, and we wanted to go home...

Then on Friday afternoon the sun came out for about an hour, and it was warm enough for me to open up the place, and Michael had made some good science happen, and my congestion was going, so our week ended on a higher note than it started.

And on Saturday Michael took Jimmy outside, while I stayed in bed, still too heavy of head and body to move, but I was no longer congested. Sunday saw us make it to the shops, we even bought some felt to make some decorations for the Winter Solstice.

We still want to go home, but now that we're feeling a little more "I'm still standing" than "Too low for zero" since we have caught up a little on sleep and the rational parts of our brains are coming back online. We know that the days will soon be getting longer, and that staying here another year will be ok. Not necessarily ideal, but better for Michael's sciencing and better for my uterus** because we'll be waiting until we're back in Australia before having baby #2.

And now that I'm pretty much back on my feet, there's work to do: the freezer needs restocking with hearty meals; Michael's vest needs finishing (I'm sooo close!); there's my sister's visit to prepare for; Jimmy is going to need a bigger beanie before winter is through, but he needs socks first; and there are Solstice and Christmas preparations to get under way... Phew! That's actually a long list of things to do.

*My Aunty L makes Christmas cakes for the whole family in June/July, so that's probably at least 3 cakes each year. This year she made at least 4 cakes - and she sent us one, and it's a little piece of home, and it almost wouldn't be Christmas without it.
**I really need to put Jimmy's birth story up...

Monday, 15 December 2014


 "a portrait of my son, once a week, every week in 2014"

Jimmy: Has a "flute", and plays "tooty-toot!" in his new waterproof suit!

Just a little Shel Silverstein and Dr Seuss mashup to go with this lovely photo Michael took yesterday, while I was in bed (long story, I'll tell you tomorrow). The waterproof suit just arrived this week from Granty L, along with a whole Christmas cake and a Christmas present for Jimmy - no, no the suit was an "anytime present" and we let Jimmy open it that day, and he had so much fun wearing it that evening! It means getting him dressed and out the door is going to be a lot easier as the suit is fully lined, hooded, and those green tabs actually fold over to cover hands and feet, all we need now is a little snow to see how it really holds up - I'm sure it will be excellent.

And did you notice this weeks' number? 50... 50/52... Only 2 more of these for this year...

While Michael and Jimmy were outside yesterday, Michael captured Jimmy's excited face. His "oooo!" face. And I had to share. Because "oooo!" my little sister is going to be here in just over a week!

Monday, 8 December 2014


"a portrait of my son, once a week, every week in 2014"

Jimmy: Enjoying some "dum" in the cold, waiting for the bus.

Oh that little face! He'd been so patient with us as we traipsed around getting a birthday present for a friend and groceries for a special lunch. We had woken late, so had sort of missed lunch, and after coffee for Dad and Mum, and a quick play at the Discovery Center, we needed to get some food for lunch the next day, and a late lunch at 4pm - which we inhaled out in the cold while waiting for the bus.

Mini croissants went down a treat. Just enough of everything to fill a little hungry belly for a bit, and they are "dum" - meaning everything from "I'm hungry" to "mealtime!", and it's Jimmy's way of saying "yum", because food is yummy. Even when out in the cold. (Not after Michael took this photo, I put Jimmy in the Manduca, inside my coat, and my little boy had some more sustenance, and fell asleep on the bus.)

Michael took this photo. He took quite a few good ones yesterday, but this was the best. Together, we've taken a bunch of lovely photos of Jimmy, but it's really nice to see the collection of weekly photos growing. I'm struggling to believe that the year is almost over, just a few more weeks to go...

Friday, 5 December 2014

On the needles: Possum fur beanie...

Yes. That's right: possum fur. From New Zealand. where Australian possums are a pest, and it's ok to kill them. Not wanting to let the beautifully warm and fuzzy possum fur go to waste, the Kiwi's are mixing it with Merino wool and making lovely, lovely woolly warm things for the cold climate that New Zealand experiences.

My lovely little sister went skiing there a year or so ago, and while she made a point of not buying touristy things for friends and family, she made one exception: me. She saw the wool mixed with possum fur and couldn't leave it behind. She bought me two skeins: one sock weight and one lace weight (I can't remember if this skein actually has possum fur in it or not). I brought the sock weight with me because it gets really, really cold in Kansas.

The skein I brought over was a Touch Yarn skein of Possum Yarn, in C1, and I tell you what, it's not an easy colour combination to photograph - let alone work out what to do with it!

A quick cold snap after our road trip convinced me that I needed a beanie of my own. Michael has a few, Jimmy has a few, but me? Nothing. So, I decided to turn this lovely yarn into a hat...

After posing for some silly selfies, of course... I had to make sure that the colour combination would suit my skin tone, right?

In addition to deciding what to knit, choosing a pattern, and actually knitting said beanie, there was the task of turning the skein into a usable ball of yarn... And I very sensibly started this task outside, with Jimmy, while he was wandering around and while he had a little feed too... yep... I take my multitasking seriously...

I didn't wind it all in the one session and ended up improvising one of these, by turning our laundry basket upside down and slipping the skein over it. (Actually this worked really well, and I would recommend it to any crafter on a budget.)

Yarn wound, all I needed was a pattern... I loved the way the colours dispersed as I wound the yarn, but I knew it would pool a little during the knitting, so any pattern would have to work well with that. After a quick search on Ravelry, I decided that the Wurm would work better with the yarn than the first pattern I liked, that uses the same wool (but in a solid colour) - I'll make in with a different yarn, if I get around to it...

The Wurm is an easy knit, and a little appropriate for this arthropod lover. I added an extra 2 purl sections, for a little more length, but I'm not sure that they were needed. I'm also not sure that I knitted the right size for my head, but that's what you get when you don't do a gauge swatch... ah well, it's a good beanie, and probably just needs a warm (hand) wash or two to get it a little more snug around the ears.

Once all the knitting and tieing off were done, I tried to get Jimmy to model it for me, but he had more fun taking it off before I had time to take a photo. I wore it when it snowed, but am yet to block it. I'll wash it sometime this week, while we're enjoying a warm spell.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

My tongue hurts...

Today a friend took Jimmy and me to spend some time at the local gymnastics hall, that opens its door to young children and their carers for $5 (possibly per child, not sure). For an hour and a half the children can run around on the soft springy floors, bounce on trampolines, climb, tumble, and crawl around, and swim in the foam block pool (it probably has a technical name...). I left the camera at home because Jimmy has been a little clingy of late (molars are coming in... soo.... slowwly), and I wanted to just be there with him and our friends. We'll be heading back at some point, but what I want to share has less to do with Jimmy and more to do with an interaction I had with a woman there...

This woman is a grandmother of two boys. One is a little older than Jimmy, the other one is a mere 3 months old and was all the wide eyed, smiley, and chubby limbed. She was doing a pretty good job of keeping both of them happy.

There was a particularly squishy spot and she had tried to carry both boys across... but that wasn't happening, so she'd put down the little one (most children there were actually really good at the whole physical-awareness/not-running-over-little-ones thing). Jimmy headed over in that direction and was looking at the little one*, and she and I started talking.

The grandmother started telling me how her daughter had been able to take a long maternity leave, and was now managing to work 2 days at her workplace and do the rest at home...

So, my mind was reeling... "long maternity leave" and the baby is only 3 months old... "long..." but I had to remind myself that the US has really poor maternity leave, if it has any, and if it does, it wouldn't be paid.

And because of this long maternity leave the baby was "addicted to breast milk"...

I bit my tongue. ADDICTED TO BREAST MILK? AT 3 MONTHS? ARE YOU JOKING?!!! It's the ONLY food babies need at that age**!!

At 17 months, Jimmy could be considered to be addicted to breast milk, but he's still younger than the international average weaning age (WHO), so you know, whatevs, but 3 months? Addicted to breast milk? That's how it should be!


It wasn't long before Jimmy and I moved away and on to the next thing. A little while later, Jimmy pointed to my chest requesting boobie. Yep. He's addicted to breast milk. I could have gone to our bag and given him a snack, but my milk producing breasts were right there.


I'm not judging this grandmother exclusively, I'm judging the mainstream attitudes to breastfeeding in the USA and the lack of support that is available for mothers to breastfeed their babies to 6 months, and even 12 months. There are states here where breastfeeding in public is not allowed or only when certain criteria are met. Even our GP here bemoans the low rates of breastfeeding in the US, and basically gave me a pat on the back for making it to 12 months, and I'm sure he thinks I'm an oddity, in that I'm still breastfeeding Jimmy.

Something very wrong took place in this country 20-30 years ago, and it's still going on, and it results in people thinking a 3 month old is addicted to its natural food source... And no, this grandmother wasn't joking because she went on to tell me how little he'd taken from the bottle and there was no humour in her tone.

I bit my tongue because I didn't want to create a scene, because I didn't know the whole story, because I'm a foreigner, and because I didn't want to be on the receiving end of a "well, what would you know?" tirade. Clearly the whole interaction still bothers me, because I'm writing about it.

I wish all mothers had access to 12 months maternity leave, good information regarding breastfeeding, and good support networks so that they can breastfeed (almost exclusively) to 6 months and for as long as they want afterwards. Is that too much to ask, or are my own choices and decisions affecting my perception of motherhood?

It's not always easy being a stay-at-home-mum. It's not always fun. Yet, I can do without the shiny things I might be able to buy if I happened to be doing paid work, because Jimmy is turning into a wonderful little person, even if he is a boobie monster who may never wean because he is addicted to breast milk, an addiction that started very young, and it's an addiction I am happy to accommodate (for now...). I wish others could be as happy as I am when babies are addicted to things that are good for them...

Yeah... my tongue hurts.

*It was actually a little crazy to see Jimmy with a 3 month old, because he's just so much bigger and yet he was that little once upon a time... Oh my heart...

**It is, but if you're reading this, and you have/have had issues with supply and are using/have used formula, please know that I would do the same if I had to.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Winter is here!

Well... sort of... it depends on what calender you go by: if you're talking months of winter (December, January, & February), then winter is most definitely here; if you go by the Earth's position relative to the sun (solstices and equinoxes), the official start of winter is a few weeks away.

And it seems that Americans do actually chart the seasons by the Earth's position relative to the sun. It's something I hadn't noticed until we were living here and bloggers were talking about the start of summer in late June, the start of fall in October, and no there is almost no mention of winter already being here (except over at Soule Mama).

But for us, it's been winter for a while now... pretty much since it snowed... or the week leading up to the snow, when the north wind was biting and we had ice forming on the inside of our bedroom windows. Big jumpers, boots, socks that that look like boots, and a little boy who actually doesn't really want to go outside are all becoming the norm...

And apparently Christmas is in 23 days... We're not really "into" Christmas, but we still do something, because the day holds many fond memories. I just can't believe that it's that time of year, I mean it's cold, bloody freezing... It's always hot leading up to Christmas... Oh wait... In Australia the days are hot and long in the lead up to Christmas, and when it's not hot, I keep forgetting that it's just around the corner, because it doesn't feel like Christmas. Funny, right.

Winter is here and Christmas is coming, with New Years and birthdays following close behind. It feels weird. Because it's winter, as far as I'm concerned. Christmas and winter are things that happen in other countries, to other people, and yet it's going to happen. And in my mind Christmas (and my birthday) will be coming early this year when my little sister arrives a few days before Christmas.

Winter is here and with it, the last month of 2014. Stay warm, or cool, as required.

Monday, 1 December 2014


"a portrait of my son, once a week, every week in 2014"

Jimmy: The Toddler.

Another beautiful photo taken by Michael. And yes, it was actually warm enough to be outside without a jumper, coat, hat, and gloves.

Jimmy's vocabulary in the last week or so has grown so much, the words are coming thick and fast, although still yet to be fully formed: cheese, bath, banana, and weewee. This is in addition to Mum, Dad, tree, there, that, no, and done. Sounds like phrases are emerging too: he's saying "nonee" when we would say "there's no need for that". He is direct in his requests (unless he's trying to stay awake), his language comprehension is amazing, he's testing boundaries while playing along, and developing good table manners. Running is happening too.

Jimmy is a toddler. And he is so much fun.

P.S. This is my 100th post! Thanks for reading!!

Friday, 28 November 2014

Wishing the world was a better place...

While looking for other people's takes on Black Friday, I went to two of my favourite local blogs, and found references to events in Ferguson, St Louis. Just like the first of these two ladies, I am new to the USA and so I'm not going to get all political, but I feel very sad. The second of these ladies lives in St Louis. She lives blocks from the courthouse where the grand jury met and handed down their verdict. And just like her, I feel conflicted, not knowing quite what to feel, but I feel sad about the whole business.

I'm sad about what's happening in Ferguson, and I wish I could say that Australia is better, and that this sort of thing doesn't happen there. But it does, albeit in an Australian way, and I wish it didn't.

As a parent I have a great responsibility to bring up my child (and any subsequent children) as best I can. Part of that is helping him maintain his perception that all people are equal*, regardless of the colour of their skin, their ethnicity, or country of origin, and deserve equal treatment by him, by society, by lawmakers. If Michael and I can achieve that, the world might just be a better place.

*When I say equal, but I don't mean to encourage that to the point of naivety, resulting in my children being in dangerous situations.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Avoiding the silliness of the season...

Christmas 2012
The silly season is upon us, here in the USA*, and it starts with Thanksgiving and the Black Friday sales.

The Black Friday sales are akin to Australia's Boxing Day sales. On steroids. According to locals (and by locals, I mean people who were either born in the USA or have lived in Manhattan for more than 2 years), Black Friday sales used to start at silly o'clock in the morning, with people camping out aiming to be the first in the doors to gain maximum savings. These days? Well... the sales have already started online and will start in store Thursday afternoon.

Yes, Thursday afternoon. That's before the turkey is even out of the oven for Thanksgiving dinner. Heavily discounted goods before dinner? Yes, please!

Well, that is, unless you're us, and more than halfway through a one year stay, and only need very specific stuff, like wool thermals, or size 2 childrens clothes, or woollen socks for little feet (toddlers size 6). Did I just write a wish list? Hmmmm...

I will admit to taking advantage of the online sales, but I tried to keep it to the things we actually need. More base layers? Yes. Undies for Jimmy? They weren't on sale. That gray jumper with insects embroidered on it? Hmmm, well... If you're me, then yes. It has insects on it - nufsaid.

I'll be keeping an eye on the prices for some woollen socks for me, but other than that (and the above wishlist), there's really not much that we need. Most of what we actually need won't be on sale, or if it is, it'll be sold out in our size or not to our liking (we're pretty picky about what we buy for Jimmy).

But, guess what? We're still going to the sales! That's right. One of Michael's co-workers is taking us along to some of the bigger shops in Manhattan, before we all go to a Thanksgiving dinner at their boss' house. It should be interesting.


We don't need much, as I mentioned. If we were buying gifts for family and friends, the Black Friday sales would be the time to do it, if we had a gift list already or at least some idea of what to get, but we're not, so we won't.

It's not just about our tight budget, it's about mindful choices and not being overwhelmed by stuff. We packed up a lot of stuff when we moved here, and I'm enjoying the current minimalism. Sure, I miss some things, but this state is temporary. And we don't need to add to the list of things we'll have to part with or ship (and add to our stuff).

So, when we head out to the sales tomorrow, we'll be keeping an eye out for bargains, while remembering that we don't need, don't need, don't need a lot of stuff.

And then we'll be enjoying Thanksgiving.

And if you think I'm overthinking things... well... here's some food for thought:
The guys over at The Minimalists put it well
Here's a semi-local take, and discount guide
On keeping the sales to Friday
The official Black Friday site - because a sense of scale is important.

*It's here for those of us not in Ferguson, St Louis, and those of us who aren't affected by the ruling yesterday. I'm going to put something up about it tomorrow, because it's part of our experience here, even if we are living a few states to the west.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014


"a portrait of my son, once a week, every week in 2014"

Jimmy: Don't mind me, I'm just riding Dadee's bike.

Sorta kinda.

We've had a much milder week - no beanies or gloves required! During the daylight, at any rate. This weekend just gone was pretty dreary, but pleasant, until about 1 minute after I took this photo when the wind came rushing in, threatening to blow everything and everyone over.

So we took Jimmy off the bike, rugged up, and walked on. To coffee and lunch, then on to the shops. What had started out as a gray old day turned into an icy, windy, rainy afternoon, and we returned home from our adventure a little wet, but still warm enough (ok, so Jimmy was warm in his jumper and boots under my raincoat and my hands were icy because I didn't have anything to cover them with). Here comes winter...

Oh and one last photo. Just for good measure.