Dress your baby in Week 1 (winter baby)

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This is Part B to the post I published a couple of weeks ago, on what clothes to buy to prepare for a new baby. The previous list was for babies born in the warmer months, this is a checklist for babies due when the weather turns cold.

My goal is to help you create a short-list of clothes to buy for your baby when you’re expecting, that you’ll have ready for Week 1 of life as a new parent. I’m trying to help you avoid two things:

* Having to rush out (or send somebody to rush out) because you discover an essential item of clothing that your baby needs, when what you really need is to bunker down with your new baby and recover and enjoy
* Wasting money and time and space by buying clothes that your baby won’t fit or can’t wear or both

The idea is that you minimise spending before your baby is born, and then go shopping a week or two after they’re born, once you know what size they are and have a better idea of what the season is doing and find a routine that suits you personally. My list should keep you going for those few weeks in between.

My top tip for winter babies is to dress them in layers. Your instinct will be to rug them up against the cold, but if you’re inside the house or in the car or in a cafe etc, you don’t want them to overheat, especially when they’re sleeping. So if for example they fall asleep in the pram, it’s a lot easier to gently remove a layer or two than to have to get them completely changed, which almost always wakes them up (aaargh).

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1// T-shirts x 2

Use these to layer over singlets and onesies, and under cardigans. Don’t buy too many because they’re probably not overly weather-appropriate, it’ll just be handy to have one or two as back-ups

2// Winter hats x 2

I found little hats a very handy way to regulate the temperature of my baby. Because babies lose so much heat through their heads, hats are a very efficient way to either warm or cool your baby, and can generally be removed without waking them up (big bonus!)

3// Pairs of socks x 3

Because those little toes can get icy cold, even under a blanket, and especially if you’re “wearing” your baby in a carrier that leaves their feet and legs exposed

4// Bibs x 3

These are handy to catch dribble and spit-up. Without them, your baby will quickly end up with a soaking-wet top and you’ll end up having to change (and wash and dry and fold and put away) even more clothes

5// Cardigans or jackets x 2

I said this last time, that know those little knitted cardigans that people make you when you’re pregnant are adorable, but they can be quite hot and bulky. For me, even when the weather was cold enough to warrant a thick wool knit, I preferred to put something softer on my baby, like a light cardigan and/or a fleece jacket, then layer with blankets for warmth. That made it easier to adapt when moving between inside and out

6// Short-sleeved onesies x 2

It’s more likely that you’ll be sticking to long sleeves for your winter baby, especially as a lot of babies like to sleep with their arms out above their heads, so they won’t be under the blankets. However, I recommend having just one or two of these at home when your baby arrives. This way you’ll be prepared if either the weather or the room are warmer than you expected, and you can always use them as back-ups teamed with cardigans, if you don’t get around to doing the laundry in time!

7// Singlets x 6

I found singlets essential for both my babies during the colder months. I love that they create that extra layer under their clothes to keep their chests warm, without smothering them with too much bulk. And when you’re changing nappies in the middle of the night, it’s nice to give them a bit of a barrier from the chilly air

8// Long-sleeved onesies x 6

As I mentioned in my summer baby list, I prefer onesies to t-shirts for newborns, because they don’t hitch up and make the baby uncomfortable while sleeping, or expose their little tummies to the cold air, and they help in a limited way to keep nappies in place, which trust me is something you really want. For this reason, I think you’ll love the long sleeved onesies for your winter baby.

You can also get onesies with legs included, like a jumpsuit, and I used these a lot with Scout. However, with the benefit of hindsight and experience from my second baby, I recommend going with the leg-free kind. The press-studs all the way up the legs and down the tummy of those all-in-one jumpsuits can drive you mental, especially if it’s the middle of the night and even more-so if your baby is crying and wiggling while you’re trying to do them up. I have found it significantly faster and easier to just pop on some little elasticised pants.

9// Long pants x 6

See above for why I prefer to go with separate long pants rather than all-in-one jumpsuit-style onesies. You can also get little pants with the feet covered in, which I found very handy when my baby kept kicking her socks off, especially if I was wearing her in the carrier. On the down-side, you get less wear out of these because they’ll grow out of them sooner. I recommend sticking with the standard pants for now, and buying the foot-covered type after a couple of weeks, because by then your baby will probably have already gone up a size.

ps.1 It should go without saying but here I am saying it again that every baby is different and every family is different and what worked for me might not work for you. This is the best I can give you, based on my winter baby of 2012 and my summer baby of 2013. I hope it helps at least a little!

ps.2 The photo at the top is of me with my winter baby Scout, when she was three weeks old. SUCH a proud mother!

Meals on Wheels – Sliders on Tyres

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According to my two-and-a-half year old daughter, everything tastes better when it is little. So when we were choosing a food truck at the International Street Food Festival* on the weekend, Sliders on Tyres seemed the obvious choice.

For $14, you get a tray of two sliders plus hand-cut chips. I chose the Fisherman (spiced calamari) and Classic Cheeseburger (pulled beef) and let’s just say I didn’t regret it (read: I inhaled both). The chips were good too, although I submit Evidence A above that I hadn’t even finished taking the photographs before the thievery began. I hope they’re still making The Boss (pork sausage) the next time I find this food truck, because that looked rather tasty too.

I’m no food writer so I’m not going to try to describe these burgers because I wouldn’t do them justice but let’s just say that BOTH were up there with the best I’ve tasted in a long, long time. Also, I present Exhibit B in evidence that the chips were, well, see for yourself!

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* Ok the International Street Food Festival. It was… ok, but WAY too expensive. We went along on a whim and, since we couldn’t all fit in the car, I took Em and the kids and Mr B took a taxi. When we got there I realised I didn’t have cash for parking, so we all got out of the car and loaded both children into the pram and tried to walk through the parking gate. Only to be told by the guys at the gate that we couldn’t walk through and instead had to go around and that it was a three kilometre walk. Tried to call Mr B in his taxi but couldn’t get through. Started to unpack food for kids to keep them happy during a 3k walk at their lunch time. Ralph started screaming. Guys at parking gate took pity on us and said ok, you can go through. (BLESS THEM!) Packed kids back into car, both protesting loudly. Found parking space, got kids back into pram (more protests). Got to gate, lined up for tickets, only to discover that they were $36 per adult. Doesn’t that seem a bit rich to you? But by then I was damned if I was giving up and putting those children back into the car so I forked out and found a spot on the grass to feed my starving kids. The result is that we spent more than $100 for access to what essentially we can find for free at any given day at Edinburgh Gardens or Yarraville or the Batman Market, not to mention Trailer Park at Village Melbourne. Apparently there were some good bands playing, but by the time we’d gone through all of that and eaten our lunch it was time to get the children home for their naps, so I didn’t get to hear them. If you’d like a better review of this event, Dee from Wild about Melbourne was there too. Wish I’d seen her!

Make this – snail mail concertina pockets

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This is a really simple way to create a little concertina of pockets in which to place gifts for pen pals. To make them, you just attach the top of one envelope to the base of another, to create a kind of concertina filled with snail-mail surprises. I first saw it on Pinterest and I THINK the link originally came from Martha Stewart, but I couldn’t find the source when I went looking. Cute, huh?

Happy Australia Day

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I know, I know, it’s controversial. It’s also a day off together as a family and we get precious little of those so we’re making the most of it. To whit: I am eating lamingtons (n.b. the spell checker tried THREE TIMES to change that word to laminations). I’ll be back tomorrow with a really easy project to make your snail mail more interesting.

 

Image credit: Shelley Brunt, licensed under Creative Commons

Portent of autumn

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Lately we’ve been having some strange weather days that feel out of place. Like mid-summer pretending to be autumn. It’s still warm, hot even, but overcast, with the kind of glare that makes you put your sunglasses on and, when you do, turns the day too dark to feel in control any more. Do you know what I mean?

The other day as I walked the dog to buy my afternoon coffee it was as though we were locked in an uneasy kind of silence. The soft steps of my sneakers and the clack-clack of Oliver’s claws on the footpath faded away. There was not another soul on the street. Everything around us was still but, up high, the tops of trees bent and twisted and danced to a wind that would play with leaves but not with us.

It felt like a message. I don’t know if it was a good one or something more malevolent, maybe it was nothing more than a portent of autumn.

Image credit: Chelsea Francis, licensed under Creative Commons

Stationery crush

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How beautiful are these letter sets, designed and published by Zetta Florence? The images were sourced from the State Library of Victoria. They’re beautiful to look at, and the stock is thick and heavy and wonderfully textured. I love that the artwork is all on the envelopes, leaving the cards clean and free to write (or draw) your own message however you like.

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What you’re looking at:

The building: “State Library of Victoria architecture, The Public Library, Museums and National Galleries of Victoria, New Reading Room and Stack Rooms (detail), Bates, Peebles & Smart, architects, 1909, collection of the Public Record Office Victoria”

The hummingbirds: “John Gould, A monograph of the Trochilidae, or, A Family of Humming-birds, London, 1849-61, Rare Books Collection, State Library of Victoria”

The street map: “Melbourne and its Suburbs (detail, enhanced), James Kearney, draughtsman, 1855, Rare Printed Collection, State Library of Victoria”

Hello Bendigo

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Over the Christmas / New Year period we spent a few days in Mr B’s hometown, Bendigo. In between visits to Nanna and all the cousins and a birthday barbecue out at Uncle Mark’s place where dust and snags and lollies and water fights made it Scout heaven, we decided to play tourist.

Have you ever pretended to be a tourist in your own town? It’s something I really enjoy doing now and then, just for fun, and I highly recommend it. You do all the things that as a local you would normally skip/avoid-like-the-plague. Visit all the tourist sites. Ride the hop-on-hop-off bus (if there is one). Eat the crappy tourist food in the crappy tourist cafes. The cheesier the better.

Of course I actually AM a tourist when I visit Bendigo, but I’ve never looked at it in that way before, since every visit is all about family. It’s such a beautiful and historic place to visit, when you take the time to look! And for Mr B, who was born and bred in Bendigo but hadn’t lived there in 20 years, this was a fun way to reacquaint himself with what was perhaps a different side to his home town.

Bring on more iPhone photos.

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Snail mail – staying in touch

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I’ve been thinking lately about relationships and friendships and how important it is to us to stay in touch, no matter how far the distance or time is that separates us.

After all that’s how Facebook became so popular, isn’t it?

Several years ago I spent some time in the outback filming an educational documentary about the Great Artesian Basin. We visited the ruins of a telegraph repeater station in the centre of Australia, and it was just extraordinary. You’d be hard pressed to find anywhere in the world made of such lonely beauty.

The locals told us the story of a settler who had sent for his English bride to join him. She survived the arduous voyage half way across the world by boat, alone, and the miserably long and hot journey to their farmstead, only to find him gone (I can’t remember why – he was hunting or trading in town or something). It was many months before he returned, and he found her almost starved and completely blind from the glare of the sun on the salt plains.

Desolation doesn’t begin to describe that moonscape environment. Yet people CHOSE to live there and many of them didn’t just live, they thrived.

The repeater station I visited was one of 11 that stretched fully from the north to the south of Australia, over 2000 miles. Building the overland telegraph line, in those days and in those conditions, was one of the greatest engineering feats in Australia’s history.

Once complete it finally put an end to the isolation, by putting Australia in touch with the rest of the world.

To put that sort of effort into a place that was so remote and unforgiving (it was almost 50 degrees one day we were there) shows a powerful desire to stay in touch, don’t you think? Nothing but the overwhelming need to remain connected to the outside world could get you digging and building and maintaining a place like that in an environment like that.

I was playing with all these kinds of ideas when I was decorating mail to send to lovely blog-readers recently. These folk hailed from all over the world, and I wanted to think about ways we once had of communicating across distance, before this age of Internet and technology.

So this little collection of mail art is dedicated to the pioneers of communication. It’s a celebration of the pony express riders (and horses!) who raced through pouring rain and searing sun; of the pigeons of World War II who did the jobs the people couldn’t; of the men who laid a 2000-mile long telegraph route across Australia in 50+ degree heat; of the train drivers and sailors and pilots and code makers and code breakers and Alexander Graham Bell, and the many more men and women who, across the centuries, have helped us stay in touch with the people we love.

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Dress your baby in Week 1 (summer baby)

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I was approximately seven-and-a-half months pregnant with Scout before it began to dawn on me that this beautiful bump I had been cherishing for more than half a year was actually going to have to come OUT. And aside from feeling mildly nauseous with terror, and narrowing my eyes at the suddenly-enormous-looking circumference of Mr B’s head, I also started to panic about what I would need to have ready for the baby.

After several hours of Google searching, during which each new page left me even more confused than the last, I called my Mum and between us we did our best to create a “new baby checklist.” Two babies later I’ve honed that list and I thought maybe, just maybe, I could save YOU some Google-related anxiety and share some of my discoveries.

Today’s tips are about baby clothes for a baby born in the warmer months. This is a short list, just designed to get you through the first week, after which you will probably need to buy more clothes. Why such a short list?

* It’s hard to estimate what size your baby will be, so if you buy too much you could end up with a lot of clothes that just don’t fit
* Babies grow incredibly fast (Scout moved up a size at the end of her first week), so if you buy too much of any size your baby will probably grow out of them* before they get a chance to wear them

This is the part where I say every baby is different and every family is different and what worked for me might not work for you, and all that. Which is true, but I still HOPE my list helps. Here it is:

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1// Short sleeved onesies x 6

Your baby will probably live in these. They’re better than t-shirts and nappies because they still keep your baby cool but will also help keep the nappy in place (you can probably imagine but it will become abundantly clear that this is rather important)

2// Light cardigans x 2

If you step out at night, or if the weather turns windy or cool, you might want to layer your baby and that’s where the cardigans come in handy. I know those little knitted cardigans that people make you when you’re pregnant are adorable, but they’re probably too hot and bulky for a summer baby. You want something a bit lighter weight but still long sleeved

3// Bibs x 3

These are handy to catch dribble and spit-up. Without them, your baby will quickly end up with a soaking-wet top and you’ll end up having to change (and wash and dry and fold and put away) even more clothes

4// Nappy-covers x 2

These are cute little bloomer-style things that fit over the nappies. On really hot days when your baby is dressed only in a nappy, or just a nappy and a t-shirt, they look quite sweet and more “dressed.” They also go a little way towards holding the nappy in place (again, more important than you ever want it to be)

5// Long sleeved onesies x 2

Mostly for a warm weather baby you are better off layering short sleeves with little cardigans when it’s cold, rather than having to get them completely changed. But it’s good to be prepared just in case (as was the case for my summer baby Ralph) the weather is so unseasonably cold that you need proper long sleeves in that first week.

6// Long pants x 2

Again, while little blankets may serve to keep your baby warm enough, if the weather is unexpectedly cold you do want to be able to cover their little legs, especially when they’re out of bed such as when you’re feeding them. (A little tip: you can get onesies with the legs included, but in my experience those are a LOT harder to change in the middle of the night – all those press-studs! argh! – and if your baby gets spit-up all over his or her top, you’ll only have to change and wash and dry and fold and put away HALF the outfit)

7// Socks x 2

Just to keep those little toes cold in the night (or unseasonably-cool day) air

8// T-shirts x 4

As I’ve said, I prefer short-sleeved onesies for newborns because they hold the nappies in AND they don’t hitch up, exposing tummies or making backs uncomfortable while your baby sleeps. But t-shirts are still good to have around as backups, to swap over soiled onesies, or to add an extra layer if necessary

 

So there you have it. My Week 1 “dressing bub” survival list. After you’ve made it through this week, you’ll have a much better idea of what size your baby is, how fast they’re growing, what the weather is doing, and the kind of clothing/blanket/cot/pram/baby-wearing schedule that suits you, so you can go (or send someone else) shopping to buy more clothes. Have fun!

* Ralph was a summer baby and I’d bought a whole lot of adorable little newborn singlet-tops and shorts ready for his arrival. But when he was born the weather was unseasonably cool, and Mr B had to rush to the shops to buy him some little pants and long sleeved tops. By the time the summer temperatures returned, Ralph no longer fit those cute little singlets and shorts. We gave them away never-worn.

Snail mail: adorable postbox toy

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Warning: if you love snail mail and/or you have children in your life, this toy will rock your world.

It’s a painted, wooden, miniature replica of the Australia Post boxes you see all over the country, with the same little slot for posting letters, and the same pull-down panel for posting parcels, as the real boxes. A little door in the front means children (or the child-like at heart) can retrieve their letters after sending them, and start all over again.

The box comes with six cute little wooden letters and postcards (you can read the mail – there’s even a postcard from Wills & Kate to Harry, during their holiday in Australia), and six removable (via velcro) wooden stamps.

Scout and Ralph love to make their own mail-fun with this box. Scout “writes” letters (aka scribbles all over my note paper), folds them, then puts stickers on them as stamps. Then she posts her letters into the box. Now it is Ralph’s turn. He opens the red door, crushes Scout’s letters in his chubby little fist, and throws them gleefully around the room.

These actions have earned Ralph the title of Postman, so Scout will finish another letter and announce “Postman I need you!” to alert him to the fact that her mail needs to be delivered to the far reaches of the playroom, post haste.

I watch them play as I sit with a note pad on my lap and write letters to my own pen pals (hopefully not to be crushed by the postman). It gives me so much pleasure to see them play together in this way, and to pass on the joy of snail mail. Next, Scout says she wants to try putting some mail-art on her letters.

What has been making you happy lately?

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ps. This is in no way a sponsored post, so I haven’t mentioned the maker of this toy. But if you want to find it, the website is prominent in one of the pictures. You’re welcome.

Scout says…

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Lately, around our house…

SCOUT: Hey Mummy you my lunch. I gonna gobble you up.

ME: Oh no, don’t gobble me up! I’m not your lunch!

SCOUT: Shoosh. Lunch can’t talk.


:  :  :

SCOUT: I really need Weetbix Mummy. My tummy’s lonely.

:  :  :

ME: Hey listen to this classic old song

[Split Enz plays “I see red I see red I see red”]

SCOUT (singing with gusto): I see pink I see pink I see PINK!

:  :  :

ME: Yeesh Scout, that’s two poo-filled nappies in half an hour!

SCOUT: Happy birthday Mummy.

:  :  :

MR B: We are a Bulldogs family. We all barrack for the Bulldogs, don’t we Scout.

SCOUT: No Daddy.

MR B: Oh! Then who do you barrack for?

SCOUT: Mummy!

She sure does make me smile.

Food nostalgia: Mum’s devilled eggs & 80s salad

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Talk about food nostalgia! Devilled eggs are one of those dishes that take me RIGHT BACK to my childhood, with the first bite. Do you have a dish that does that for you?

Devilled eggs were a classic that my Mum would pull out whenever guests came over. We had devilled eggs with almost every barbecue (and we had a lot of barbecues). They were right up there on her “tried and true” list, with prawn cocktails.

It was 30 degrees outside when I made these devilled eggs, so I paired them with a simple salad for dinner. I call it “80s salad” because I swear we ate a salad like this at least once a week for the entire decade of the 80s. It was the least sophisticated, least pretentious salad you can imagine. The percentage of ancient grains, buffalo mozzarella or kale was exactly zilch. This salad had iceberg lettuce, friends. Remember iceberg lettuce? And whatever other veggies we happened to have to hand which, in my childhood, meant staples from the veggie patch: tomatoes, cucumber, celery. I added fresh pineapple to my salad, because I found some in the back of the ‘fridge and it was still good.

Mum’s devilled eggs recipe

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6 hard boiled eggs
2 tablespoons of chutney (or in this case, 2 tablespoons of Jayne’s homemade tomato relish, which did the job admirably well)
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper, to season

Peel the hard-boiled eggs*, then cut them in half, lengthwise. Put the yolks in a bowl with all the other ingredients, then mush and mix them all together.

Spoon the mixture into the empty halves of the egg whites.

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In Mum’s recipe, it says to garnish the eggs with slices of cucumbers, and I am a rule-follower (most of the time), so that’s what I did.

Wash it all down with chilled, cheap plonk. This bottle cost me $10, because I am all class.

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* Is it just me, or does anybody else think hard boiled eggs are a LOT more difficult to peel these days? The egg shell comes away in tiny little shards that cut your fingers, and half the time manages to take away giant chunks of egg-white with it.

That didn’t used to happen when I was a kid. Are they feeding something different to the hens? Or did they feed something different to the hens back when we were kids? Every time I make hard-boiled eggs for the kids, these days, I wonder at how difficult they are to peel.

Naomi Bulger, bringing you the hard-hitting news of the nation.

ps. Want more food nostalgia? This is how the Great Custard Controversy panned out.