Adventures, adventures, adventures

WHEN I think back over the last few months and comb through the memories, I can’t put my finger on when it happened. When, my Little Mister, did you become such an independent adventurer?

We have had two little trips away recently and both have made me realise how grown up you are. And that you love exploring . A lot. You, my Little Mister, must be on the move at all times. Unless you are very tired from all the moving about. You aren’t walking yet, but you are pushing around everything you can find that goes. Being outside is also a million times better than being inside. Getting your hands into mucky stuff like cobwebs and dirt and oily car wheels doesn’t bother you at all.

Up north, you loved your grandfather’s dogs. You exhausted them and had no fear. Down south at a wedding, you amazed everyone at how fast you could go, accelerating and then suddenly being nowhere to be found. Where has the baby gone, they would say? I always saw.

You always have your eyes on the next adventure. Usually, you don’t mind if I’m there or not. You can figure out all these games by yourself and, in fact, that’s the way you prefer. I’m glad you’re so brave, and so inquisitive. Your life, Little Mister, is a million miles an hour right now, just in case you miss anything out. It’s so much fun for us grown ups around you – but sometimes we struggle to keep up!

It’s been a special summer. You have two top teeth, and you didn’t complain about them at all. You met your great-grandmother, and you loved her. You discovered garlic bread and it kept you quiet and still in a high chair. You learnt the meaning of some new words – ‘rain’ was your least favourite because it meant staying indoors. But best of all, you showed me that you just want to have adventure after adventure after adventure. And I reckon that’s great.



Adventures in Oz

FOR what felt like an hour, and probably longer for the strangers around us, the Little Mister screamed. Our first family holiday had been a success, but now it was home time. He wasn’t happy. He was tired out, cooped up, over-awed by all that was going on around him, his ears probably hurt, and he just wouldn’t stop screaming. It was everything I’d been afraid of. The flightmare was underway.

Tony and I kept looking at each other with the same hopeful look in our eyes, desperate for the air to swallow us all up. I kept telling him we’d never see any of these people again. The Little Mister kept screaming. Once we realised he wasn’t going to stop, we acted fast. And, thanks to the wonders of modern medicine, he slept all the way through to border control. Success, again.

It was the only blip, and really it was a small, short one, on an otherwise wonderful practice run for our big journey next year. The Little Mister was a super traveller. Everything was new and exciting and the six days were one very big adventure.

He loved meeting his aunties, uncles and cousins. He impressed me with his easy-going attitude. As long as Tony and I were close and he wasn’t too tired, he was happy to be passed around, held, cuddled, spoiled, treated, and generally made a fuss of. He played ball. He charmed, grinned, babbled, and generally made everyone fall in love with him.

The fancy apartment was perfect – sparse and therefore very baby proof. The airport was a big, empty space ideal for crawling around and exploring. But the highlight without question was the beach. He ate bucketloads of sand. He picked it up and watched it fall back down as he opened his fists. He spied seagulls and crawled after them, making a beeline for the shoreline. He splashed his toes while we dipped him in the waves. He sucked the salt off his fingers all the way home. He crawled so far on his beach adventures he got sandburn on his little baby-soft knees. That evening, our tired Little Mister was too sore to crawl anymore.

Sadly for us, he woke at 4am each morning, still on Wellington time. But though he lacked sleep, he didn’t moan or grizzle. Everything was too much fun.

In six days, I feel like he grew up so much. He spent so much time pulling himself up, now home, he is standing up against whatever he can. Buckets that move, the back of the sofa that has no grip, the foot rest on the bar stool. And he wants to be outside all the time to keep the adventure going.

We didn’t only learn what a great explorer he was on the trip though, we learnt lessons too. We learnt that he loves other people, so why not hand him over and take a rest. Eating a meal is so much easier without the Little Mister on my lap. We learnt to take it in turns to get up with a jetlagged baby. We learnt how much the beach and the pool will tire him out. We learnt to keep the buggy with us to the gate. And, perhaps most importantly, we learnt that Calpol is magic.

You Made My Day

I KNOW there will come a time when we stop celebrating the Little Mister turning a month older, but that must be at least a year or so away. Today, we celebrated eight months. Eight months! It’s been two thirds of a year of getting to know each other, adjusting to sleep deprivation, learning some big lessons, laughing lots, crying too, and discovering a whole other level of happiness.

So to mark eight months, we crammed a fair bit into the Little Mister’s day. It was the last day of winter, and the sun shone over Wellington. First up was the swing at the park with his nani ji. Milin loves the swing. Today, he couldn’t wait to get out of his buggy and get onto it. Which was good, it tired him out nicely for his second nap.

With his grandparents and me, the Little Mister spent the afternoon at Oriental Bay. The sea was calm, the fountain caught his attention, and I found myself remembering the last time I’d put my toes in the ocean there. It was Christmas Day, the day the doctors had wanted to induce me, but we bought ourselves and the Little Mister a bit more time. Christmas morning was spent at the hospital and I was discharged after two nights there. Still pregnant.

Today, the Little Mister wasn’t sure about sitting on the sand. He didn’t mind watching the water lap at the shore, but really it was a short stint on the beach. He didn’t let me rub sun cream into his face, and so spent the afternoon looking like an Australian cricketer with zinc-based sun block on one cheek.

So, we went for a walk, which the Little Mister was much happier about. People watching, today, trumped watching the ocean. And then a stint at the Beach Babylon cafe saw me become probably the proudest mum in Wellington. My eight-month-old, he was perfectly behaved. While we had our tea and cakes, Milin sat in his high chair, chomped for a while on Sophie and his set of keys, smiled flirtatiously with the other customers, and spent the outing being generally charming.

I thought I was being optimistic when I left the house with a pouch of pureed fruit and two teaspoons (one for Milin to hold, one for me to use, and feeding time can happen anywhere). But, I pulled out the pouch and two metal teaspoons, put on the bib I had also brought along, and started to feed my boy. He kept up with his tremendous run this week of eating solids. He seems only to be eating pear, apple and banana (pureed together by Heinz) – but he ate lots. And slept all the way home. Yep, I’m the proudest mum in Wellington. Happy eight months my cheery little Milin baby, you made my day. Again.



Swings, the beach, and peek-a-boo

A RIDE on the swings, a walk along the beach and a first-time-ever go on a see-saw. Yesterday was a pretty awesome day in terms of fun for the Little Mister. While I was at work, his nani and nana ji were in charge. And he loved it.

He’d already had a good morning – I’d taken him to Baby Rock and Rhyme at Kilbirnie library and he’d had a great time singing songs and watching his mama mess up the hand movements. But it seems that it was once I’d left for the office that the fun really started.

The Little Mister loves getting out and about. It seems to be a common theme among his baby friends. It doesn’t matter what the weather is, being at home is boring. This works well for all concerned really, because being out also usually means being more tired and having a better sleep as a result. Except for the times that it means being over-tired and having a meltdown because we were somewhere the Little Mister was too distracted to get some shut-eye.

So yesterday, Little Mister was taken to Lyall Bay by his grandparents. It sounds like he played on the baby swing for about 15 minutes. I wish I’d been there, but I’m told he was kicking his legs in glee. And jabbering away at the same time, telling the older kiddies at the park all about it. Next up was the see saw – another hit – and of course he had a walk on the beach watching the waves and a little time factored in to stare at the sea gulls.

He really is a joy. He brought so much happiness to everyone who looked after him yesterday. And as he learnt more about the world about him, he too was one happy little pixie.

The Little Mister loves the swing. But more than that, he loves his nana ji.

After a day at the beach, the Little Mister played with his grandparents at home. Here he is, laughing out loud when nana ji – his favourite person – plays peek a boo from behind the door. So much joy.


Life in Technicolour

AGAIN and again, I am surprised by how much joy our Little Mister brings into the lives of those around him. Since Friday, when my mum arrived in Wellington, I’ve been watching it happen in technicolour.

At the end of mum’s first visit after Milin was born, he was two months old. He was just starting to smile. Now, at the start of her second visit, he is sitting up alone, wanting to crawl, and a smiling, laughing chatterbox who wants to be friends with everyone and will let them know it with a charming grin. He is a little boy who loves his toys, who is happy to play all day as long as he knows we are nearby, who cries to let us know he is hungry or tired, but is otherwise a contented little nearly-seven-month-old.

He loves mum so much already. Today, he laughed again and again and again as she played ball with him. It was such a simple game, but he loved it like it was the best game he had ever played in his whole life. It probably was. He finds mum hilarious. He makes her so happy, just as he does us. We have been watching him today – with the ball, during a walk on the beach, while at the park – and taking such joy from seeing him experience the world for the first time.

At Lyall Bay, he continued his love affair with the ocean. Quietly, he took it all in. The waves transfixed him. The seagulls were fascinating. And after five minutes on the swing, the Little Mister started moving his legs to push himself forward. At home, watching a ball roll away again and again was like watching a magic trick. Watching a car roll around his play mat saw his round eyes widen with surprise.

Watching him watching the world, we are watching a little baby learn and grow from seeing things for the first time. It’s magic.

Beach walk at Lyall Bay

Playtime at Lyall Bay park

London Calling

WE ARE taking the Little Mister to the other side of the world. After months of deliberating, we’ve decided to do it. We’re going back to London.

It began as an idea we both thought would fade. Never in seven years had I wanted to live again in London. We started thinking about it in those sleep-deprived blurry first few weeks of his life. It was so hard, we were so tired. And here we were, half a world away from the people who could help us most. They came to us, yes, but what would happen when they went? Home was calling me back.

Milin’s first half year has seen our lives become so much harder, but also so much richer. I have discovered an amazing network of mums, I have made wonderful new friends, and the Little Mister has had it pretty good too. His life here is superb. We walk in the sunshine most days, it’s easy to get around, people are good to us, we have so much fun in baby club, the ocean is close. Life is simple and good. But, it’s not enough.

London will be hard, we know. But it will also mean the Little Mister can be surrounded by family and grow up with cousins nearby, just as I did. He will miss his New Zealand family, but we will be back of course. He will have two homes. He too, one day, may grapple with this same geographic conundrum that we do.

When I handed in my notice on Friday, my little suggestion suddenly became a reality. I don’t know where we will start on this process of packing up our lives and starting them again on the other side of the world. I don’t know what we will do, whether we will find jobs, or whether London will spit us out and send us back to Godzone tired and beaten. But I do know that come the end of the year, our little family will embark on a new adventure. We will be leaving behind much-loved family and friends. We will be leaving behind our home, Milin’s first playmates, and a lifestyle that I have come to love. But we will be heading for the open arms of others who won’t miss any more of this beautiful little boy’s growing up journey.

A Day for Firsts

Lying on his rug in front of the fire, Milin rolled from his back onto his tummy tonight. Well, it was really more like he launched himself onto his belly and then wasn’t quite sure what had happened.

He’s been trying to roll off his back for weeks. Which is interesting, because he hates being on his tummy. So tonight, after his bath and nightly massage in front of the fire (I know, lucky boy), the Little Mister surprised himself. The move usually starts with a serious back arch, then he looks all the way over his right shoulder, chin angled up, and tries to push himself round. Tonight he managed it, and landed rather unceremoniously with his face planted on his mat. He was shocked. I picked him up quickly, gave him a cuddle, and we continued with some good night songs.

And then he did it again. And again. Except when I didn’t pick him up these two times he got rather upset. He realised he was on his tummy, and with one arm stretched out underneath him, he couldn’t roll back. Ah the joys we will have if he rolls onto his tummy at night…

Of course, I am suitably proud of my Little Mister. I’m also filled with awe at how much he is learning. He has so much to figure out, and every day, he figures out a little bit more. Sometimes he gets frustrated at what he can’t do, but mostly, he just tries again and he gets it eventually. Amazing.

He showed me today how much he is growing up. We went down to Island Bay for a walk along the south coast and a hot drink at a cafe stop with Tony. What a beautiful winter’s day it was out there. Milin had enough after a while in the buggy and I got him out and held him as we walked.

He’s seen the ocean before. But today, he really saw¬†it. He was transfixed. He didn’t even want to look at Tony, his favourite person. He couldn’t take his eyes off the huge moving blue mass which stretched into the distance. I wonder what it is like to see the world for the first time. And to like it. It was a day of firsts.

Watching the ocean