Tuesday, January 31, 2012

US Visit

That's right folks, we've purchased flight tickets and are looking forward to a nice long visit to the US!  We depart Canberra in mid March and are headed first to Cleveland (Ohio) where we'll catch up with Brian's family for a month or so.  Then we'll head to Litchfield (Minnesota) and spend a similar amount of time with my family and friends there. After that we'll probably travel a bit, see some sights and visit friends we've been missing before heading back to Ohio in September for Brian's sister's wedding.  We've got a return ticket to Canberra in early October. Whew - should be a grand adventure!

We are very excited about going back to the US but are absolutely dreading the flight with two wee munchkins.  I've had some good advice on getting through the ordeal (portable DVD player, sticker books, a toddler backpack stocked with water and snacks, pull ups for easier diaper changes, request a bassinet on the plane, etc.) but I'm always open to more ideas so please send your traveling-with-kids-survival-strategies my way!

I can't wait to see everyone and show off my adorable babies in person!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Backyard Living

We've been working on making our backyard into an enjoyable outdoor living space.  We've put up a gazebo with mosquito netting and a rain tarp and scored a free outdoor table and chairs setting on Freecycle.  We've stocked the gazebo with a selection of kid toys, a stroller for rocking Ari to sleep and a kid sized table and chairs.  Next to our gazebo, we've got a plastic kid swing that we got for next to nothing at Tiny's Green Shed, an LPG fired outdoor oven and our awesome Mexican hammock with full mosquito netting and tarp.. 

We've been enjoying meals outdoors in the evenings when it's too hot to be in the house and it's great to have a space to escape to with a fussy baby when the other baby is trying to sleep. 

Our outdoor living space is also doubling as a workshop area for Brian and he has two major projects in the works at the moment.  One is an adsorption chiller which will use heat to ultimately make ice.  An engineer at heart, he's been tinkering with this idea in his head for some time and is now getting ready to build it.

The other big project has been his first attempt at all grain beer brewing.  He cut the top off of an old keg and fitted a spout to it so that he can boil water.  This is then transferred to the mash tun (an old esky) where the sugar is extracted from the grains.  Then it's back to the keg/pot where it's boiled with the hops before going into glass and plastic carboys to ferment for two weeks before bottling.  He's done two batches so we've got a Smoked Porter and an India Pale Ale in our garage.  One of the interesting outcomes of going through this process from scratch is that Brian has found that he actually prefers good beer without carbonation.  Truth be told, given the warm weather and the tastiness of the brew, I'm not sure much of it will make it to the bottling stage!

One view of our outdoor living area - the gazebo with brewing supplies out front.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Boy Loves Red

Riker has a favorite color and it is most definitively red.  You may have noticed that almost all of his clothes in recent posts have been red.  He will wear other colors but midway through the day I'll find him stripping down and pulling something red out of the drawer to wear (or to deposit on the floor once he realizes he'd rather be sans clothes).  He adores his little red stroller that he can push around himself and our new (secondhand) double stroller is (fortuitously) red as well.  In this photo he's wearing his old school red terry cloth underwear which he LOVES.  Only problem - we just have the one pair in red!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Nearly every time Coral comes to visit, she brings presents.  The last time we saw her she brought wooden blocks, a toy car, a number puzzle and a kaleidoscope for Riker.  While he doesn't yet appreciate the kaleidoscope as much as the blocks, I've been having fun tinkering with the settings on my camera and trying to get some good shots through the viewfinder. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Box Guitar

After Riker and I finished talking about our activities for the day as part of his bedtime routine, he popped up and said he had to use the potty.  I considered the possibility that he was already using this as an excuse to get out of bed, but since he's just learned to use the potty, I got up and headed for the bathroom with him.  As he was sitting on the toilet, he grabbed an empty toilet paper roll and kept say "neep" over and over while touching the edge of the roll.  Searching my brain for what in the world he could be talking about, I realized that he was asking me to snip the edges of the roll so that they could be folded out and taped to a box to make a box guitar like he'd seen on an episode of Play School.  Some days I am so proud of my translation skills. When asked what came next he said "tape", "box" and then "strings".  What a good memory!  I was so pleased we'd had this bit of communication that I helped him make the box guitar and then Brian found the segment online so we could watch them make it again.

Here's the Play School version:

And here's our box guitar:

I'm not sure what time he finally fell asleep tonight but he'd had a late nap and we all enjoyed our bedtime craft session!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Playdates with Isabella

We had a fun playdate yesterday morning at Isabella's house.  They played in the sandbox, pushed each other around in cars and splashed in the wading pool.  Here, a break from the fun for morning tea.  

Riker and Isabella have been having playdates since they were just itty bitties.  Here they are at about eight months old when they had just learned to crawl. 

And here's a photo from the post Riker's First Girlfriend when they were about four months old.

Of course, one of the most important things about playdates is that the mothers get a chance to have some adult conversation (albeit frequently interrupted and mostly about babies).  Angela has had a second baby as well and our two kids are almost exactly the same ages. I was hoping to get a photo of all four together but there was so little time when they were all awake and clothed!  Ah well, next time!

Potty Learning

I'm very pleased to report that Riker has taken it upon himself to do away with diapers (though the true blue Aussie baby in him refers to them as nappies).  I use the term "potty learning" quite deliberately as there was little "training" of any sort involved. I'm not sure we can take much credit at all for this new development, but I suspect a confluence of factors have led to this exciting new stage:
  • There were our early and sporadic attempts at elimination communication, a system which uses timing and cues to anticipate the baby's need to relieve himself and to help him become aware of his bodily functions.  This probably wasn't a major contributing factor, but it may have helped him get accustomed to sitting on a little potty from an early age.  
  • From about eighteen months we started having him sit on the potty more and more while we'd sing silly songs.  We'd talk about using the potty a lot and of course, he'd see us using the toilet as well.  Anyone with any experience with toddlers knows that private moments in the bathroom are few and far between!
  • Perhaps most importantly was the fact that summer rolled around just when he was ready to give up diapers.  As soon as it was warm enough to be naked, he ditched all clothes and started using the potty (or just peeing outside) pretty reliably from day one.
Whatever the reasons, we're thrilled to spend less time chasing him around to get a diaper on him.  He's still wearing a diaper overnight even though he usually wakes up dry and our outing to the playground was the first time he left the house in only underwear.  We figured accidents there wouldn't be inconvenient, but he used the potty there too.  Hooray!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A day at the park

On Saturday we had a great visit to Black Mountain park - a romp in the playground, snags on the barbie, sailing a toy boat on the lake, seeing some giant black swans, a visit from the ice cream truck and lots of watermelon.

While Riker and Brian were pottering around by the lake, I stayed in the shade with a sleeping Ari and as usual, passed the time by photographing him.

Did I mention I adore baby fingers and toes?

And when he woke, he was in such a good mood!

Despite the abuse inflicted by the hands of his big brother!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

First Haircut

I know, it's hard to believe.  Riker is almost twenty seven months old and he's never had a proper haircut.  He's had a little bit trimmed off the back by Brian but other than that, I'd been vetoing any mention of a haircut.  I adore his gorgeous baby curls and I couldn't bear to think of cutting them off.

But with the hot weather, all that hair seemed to make him hot and sweaty all the time.  And it was getting pretty long!

So, scissors in hand, I went to work while he splashed in the bath.  Watching a video on the laptop held by Brian bought me the last few minutes needed to get the job done :)

And here is the big brother with his new big boy haircut:

Now I can only hope that the curls aren't gone forever!

Saturday, January 07, 2012


Know what I love about going out with a baby?  He makes people smile.  They stop in their tracks while shopping or pause while eating their lunches and I see their eyes light up and their lips move with a phrase like "oh, look how cute!"  And as Brian noted while carrying Ari in a sling today, a sleeping baby elicits even more oohs and ahhs.  It warms my heart to see him bring a small moment of joy to others as well.

Master Ari flashes a smile for his fans.