29.10.14

THE NAMING DANCE




My husband Simon is a planner...

a planner with a touch of 'dreamer' thrown in for good measure

For as long as we've been together, I have looked on as he jots and reviews and then jots some more - list after list... after list.

And these lists?

They are not limited to the simple, regular "to-do" kind  AND  they are no longer confined to the innermost pages of his diary, oh no.

On any given day, upon opening the 'notes' feature on our iPad, I am bombarded with...

wish lists,

budgets,

holiday plans,

money making schemes,

house renovations,

property potentials,

passwords,

car modifications,

garden preparations,

school fee comparisons,

career options,

bucks weekend shenanigans,

fitness pursuits,

camera evaluations,

financial tips,

children's story plots,

gift ideas

wood work projects

and retirement possibilities,  just to name a few!


But my personal favourite?


"Simon and Anna's Life Plan"

as well as

"Simon and Anna's Life Plan - REVISED"


{Funny, as this aforementioned "Anna" hasn't actually been privvy to any such "life plan" planning}


So, being the avid planner/dreamer/list-maker that he is, you won't be surprised to hear that Si also has an extensive "baby name" list. A list which features both the unique and the obscure, the familiar and the conventional {as well as potential sibling names to match}.

Therefore, as it came time to consider an identity for my increasingly rounding belly, just a few months ago, I knew we'd be destined for some lengthy discussions.

Simon's baby naming theory? Poetic and whimsical for girls, short and strong for boys --

That, at least, we agreed on!


....................................................


In my sixteenth week of pregnancy, during a routine scan, our obstetrician declared that we were expecting another little girl - a gorgeous sister for Sage - and we were completely thrilled! Having never had a sister myself, I began dreaming of girly tea parties under weeping willow branches, giggly sleepovers lasting well into the early morning hours, clothing, shoes and secrets shared...  sigh!

In the days following, we compiled a short list of favourite names for our blossoming baby 'girl' and agreed on one quite quickly, just as we did when naming Sage.

I gathered the pink baby clothes from their labelled boxes in the attic and began sorting the 0000's and the 000's from the rest, reminiscing all the while. Folding and sorting and refolding some more, just so happens to be one of my favourite pass times while awaiting the homecoming of a new and precious bundle.

Arriving at my nineteen week scan, a few weeks later {on my own as Simon was minding an asleep Sage}, the ultrasound technician questioned whether or not I knew the gender of our unborn. Excitedly I exclaimed that we were expecting a little girl, to which she replied "who is your doctor?". Upon naming him, she said "well he's actually been getting a few wrong lately. Just last week we had a lady who was having her fifth baby. With four boys already, she was delighted to hear that she was finally anticiapting the arrival of a little girl... only she wasn't... he was wrong. Let's double check that first shall we?"...

And upon double checking, instantly she could see that our 'she' was actually a 'he'

And instantly, although shocked, I was just as thrilled!

Simon and Sage were now in the waiting area, and as I emerged through the door, Si immediately knew that something was up.

"Twins?" he questioned with raised brows.

"A boy!" I replied.

And instantly, although shocked, he was just as thrilled too!


....................................................





It didn't take us long to realise that our perceived thoughts on a 'short and strong' boy's name were wildly different. Si insisted that my suggestions were too "out there", whereas I found his too "old fashioned". My love of Aspen was crushed by his associations with 'aspirin' and his adoration of Basil had me cackling at thoughts of becoming that known family with all of their "herb children".

In the months following, we finally negotiated our favourites - Archer Fox for me, Alby Oak for him - and amazingly, as we both quite liked one another's preferences, it didn't take us long to agree that this babe would be the 'Archer', and the next, if ever we were blessed, would be the 'Alby'.

Sage began referring to my tummy as "Baby Archer" and didn't hesitate in telling the world. We did, however, receive many questioning looks as they mistook her 21 month old toddler speak for "Arthur", while my dad thought we were naming our son "Otter"{which I quite like, now that I think of it!}.

As my belly swelled, so too did our hearts for our sweet unborn. In the blink of an eye, "Baby Archer's" due date had arrived, and unsurprisingly, passed us by. And in that time, the old 'you buy a new car and suddenly you see them everywhere' became my reality.

'Archers' {and 'Archies'} began popping up all over my Instagram feed, were featured amongst my favourite blog and magazine reads and were skyrocketing up the popularity charts. It's what friends of friends {of friends} were naming their babies and, hence, they began frequenting the birth notices in our local newspaper. Suddenly, every second person knew of someone called Archer and, despite still adoring the name, I didn't adore its new found popularity.

At around ten days 'overdue', I broached the name change with Si.

"I'm not so sure I want to call him Archer anymore..."

Simon thought I'd gone mad and that it was just the 'hormones talking', I thought I'd have a task on my hands convincing him of this last minute change of heart, but when I suggested his original preference of Alby, it only took him a few days to get used to the idea.

And now that he's here, we couldn't imagine him as anything else!


Alby;  noble and bright


26.10.14

FORTYTHREE | FIFTYTWO



A portrait of my little ones; once a week, every week, in 2014

Sage - enamoured as the neighbourhood cat passed by your window

Alby - your very first visit to the beach!


{The 52 Project, inspired by the lovely Jodi}

25.10.14

8 NEWBORN ESSENTIALS


Having recently emerged from the forth trimester haze, with post-partum hair loss, weak nails and hormonal, teenage-like skin dropping by to celebrate the occasion, I thought I'd put together a little summary of our most-used {and adored} baby items since Alby's arrival.

We know that all babies really need is a whole lotta milk, a whole lotta warmth and a whole lotta love, but what about those small added extras that make those newborn months a whole lot more comfortable?








Here are my picks, clockwise from top left {hover over product name for links}...


ONE  -  Bonds Short Sleeve Bodysuits  -  I am fastidious about the children wearing singlets all year round, however, with the copious amounts of snuggles a newborn receives, inevitably they come loose and ride up as they are passed from family member to friend. Which is why I always add one of these bodysuits on top as an additional layer, ensuring sweet little backs remain warm and covered. Plus the envelope-style neck opening and soft cotton ribbing make dressing a cinch.


TWO  -  Aden and Anais Wraps  -  After using these muslin cloths so religiously with Sage that they literally became thread-bare, a new set was at the very top of my essentials list when we discovered we were expecting a little boy. Their larger size means they are perfect for not only swaddling your baby, but also as a capsule cover, play mat, comforter or for discreetness while breastfeeding {if you're into the sort of thing!}. This time around we chose the 'Into the Woods' design {here} as it included a ridiculously sweet fox print for our little Alby Fox.


THREE  -  Ergobaby Swaddler  -  I could mention that these swaddles allow baby's legs to remain in the ergonomically correct 'frog leg' position {as recommended by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute}. Or I could mention that the arm pockets secure baby's arms in the 'hands to heart' foetal position, rather than being uncomfortably pinned to their sides. Or I could mention their convenient leg pouch which allows for easy access during night-time nappy changes. Or I could mention that they made from the softest of cottons, can be used in all seasons and are virtually escape-proof.  But I think the fact that Alby slept his first night through whilst wearing one, really says it all!


FOUR  -  Sheepskin  -  The most comfy place for baby playtime, full stop!


FIVE  -  Beauty and the Bees Honey and Herb Botty Butter  -  This miracle cream not only works wonders on soft, delicate skin, it also smells good enough to eat! Made from a blend of organic nut and plant oils, I can breathe easy knowing there are no harmful chemicals being absorbed into Alby's skin and it clears up any signs of nappy rash in a jiffy. {Oh, and it's made in Tassie too!}


SIX  -  Ergobaby Wrap  -  There are no words that would ever speak adequately of my love for our wrap! Admittedly, before Alby's arrival, I was slightly daunted by the prospect of transitioning from one child to two. I often questioned - how would I juggle my time between a very active toddler and a newborn, ensuring both of their needs were being met throughout the day? However, from the moment I slid Alby into the wrap during his first week earthside, all of my worries were allayed. In it, he was safely cocooned to my chest with the familiar rhythms of my heartbeat lulling him to sleep in a instant {which still happens to this day, 7 months on!}. The wrap gave me the confidence to continue on with life as usual, managing the everyday with ease and comfort {and two hands free!}.


SEVEN  -  Storksak Sofia Nappy Bag  -  Yes, a completely indulgent purchase, however with daily use, this buttery-soft leather satchel is like heaven on a handle and, in my opinion, worth every. single. cent.  I bought mine on sale from here.


EIGHT  -  Nuna Leaf  -  This streamlined, elegant rocker was so wonderful in those early weeks as it allowed me to spend short periods of one-on-one time with Sage {often playing a game or doing a puzzle} whilst Alby lay contentedly beside us - at eye level and within arms reach. The motion of the swing mimics a leaf floating gently on the breeze {hence the name} and also a mother's characteristic hip sway in late pregnancy. I would never have paid full price for this item {we purchased ours second hand, but still in perfect condition, for a quarter of the retail price}, however with its convenient, lightweight frame, its stylish design and its wash-ability, I am certainly glad we stumbled across it!


Aside from the obvious, what is the number one baby product you couldn't have lived without?



Up next, I will begin featuring my top 8 baby play items, giving you some ideas of things to include when creating a baby play space of your very own {read more here} or perhaps provide you with some thoughtful gift ideas in the lead up to Christmas {yes, there's that word again!}.


22.10.14

PLAY-BASED LEARNING AT HOME [ DINOSAURS ]










Dinosaur Reading

FICTION TEXTS
Flip-O-Saurus  by Sara Ball
I Wish I Had a Dinosaur  by Ian Anggabrata
My Dearest Dinosaur  by Margaret Wild
Dinosaur Encore  by Patricia Mullins
That's Not My Dinosaur  by Fiona Watt


NON FICTION TEXTS
Eye Know - Dinosaur  published by Dorling Kindersley
Dinosaurs  published by Priddy Books
Mad About Triceratops  published by Make Believe Ideas
Dino IQ  published by Priddy Books











Dinosaur Resources

Dinosaur figurines {here}
Dinosaur skeletons {purchased in store - similar here}
Blue marina set , shown below {here}
Green savannah set, shown below {here}
Finger puppets {purchased from a discount store - similar here}
Words cards {printed and laminated from here}
Jigsaw puzzles {set of four, here}
'Dotty Dinosaur' game {not pictured, here}
Large fir tree {here}
Small fir tree {here}
'Grass' {left over from here}
Orange mat {similar here}
Brown play silk {here}
Cave {made by draping thrifted material over bamboo stakes}
Mirror {part of set, from here}
Other items purchased in store, from op shops or foraged from nature

{Please note - no new items were purchased for this investigation - all have been collected over my years as an early childhood educator}



And some pieces for Alby to explore... {more about his play space here}




See more from the 'Play-Based Learning at Home' series:

[FARM YARD]
[FAIRY GARDEN]
[HOSPITAL]

19.10.14

FORTYTWO | FIFTYTWO



A portrait of my little ones; once a week, every week, in 2014


Sage - although we don't live in Northern Europe, we've been creating a 'forest kindergarten' of our very own

Alby - that vintage suit, that milk-filled belly!


--- only 10 weeks left, *gasp!---


{The 52 Project, inspired by the lovely Jodi}

17.10.14

CREATING A PLAY SPACE FOR BABIES










Amongst the many changes we've made in our play room recently, one of my most favourite additions is a space specific to Alby and his ever increasing development. Although very simple in its design, we have mindfully incorporated a variety of patterns, textures, sounds and colours - elements set to enhance and heighten each of his senses and therefore, his understanding of the world.

The components of his space include:

  • a soft, neutral mat - used to define his space and provide him with a secure place to play. We haven't once needed to speak with Sage about intruding on Alby's space, as the mat has proved to be a visual guide for her, and whilst Alby is present, she leaves him to play, undisturbed.
  • a floor level mirror - the benefits of infants and toddlers {and even older children} seeing themselves whilst engaging in play are so numerous, an entire post could be dedicated to the topic! However, our two main intentions for placing a low level mirror in Alby's space, were to firstly provide him with an extended view of the room around him {aiding his abilty to build an 'internal map' of the space, useful as he begins to crawl} and secondly, to enable him to observe his own movements, fostering bodily awareness - particularly hand-eye coordination, and an understanding of cause and effect, through studying his reflection.
  • art work -  currently we have chosen simple, black and white images, placed at eye-level, as the clear contrast between the two colours, nurtures and stimulates visual development in young babies. Soon, we will exchange these for other prints or illustrations, or even images of family and familiar friends. 
  • an assortment of wooden items {including stackers, rattles, ball rollers, jigsaws and musical instruments} - time and time again I have professed my undying love for wooden play items, not only for their aesthetical beauty, but also as they actively engage young children rather than allow them to be passive observers. I recently read a lovely quote from the book "Montessori From the Start" by Paula Polk Lillard and Lynn Lillard Jessen which really resounded with our philosophy - "The selection of toys we make available to our children is as important as what we choose for any other area of their environment. To select wisely, we need to go back to our initial purpose in helping the child in his self-formation. All loving parents want to raise a child to whom the world makes sense, who can think about that world wisely and who loves and respects himself and others. By showing care in the toys you choose for your child, you are showing him that he is important to you. You are sharing what is beautiful and meaningful to you in life. You thereby help your child in turn to look for beauty and logic in the world around him." Rarely would we have all of these play items together on the mat at once. One or two would be more than adequate in providing a 'supportive challenge' to a young mind. 














Next week I will begin a new series featuring my favourite baby items - first up will be those newborn 'essentials' we found so handy in the early months, and then following will be some play pieces that may assist you in creating a space similiar to this, for your own little one. In the meantime, however, if there is a particular item in this post that you are wanting to know more about, just let me know  :-)

{If interested, you can read more about our play approach here}