I guess I should blog again sometime.

Since I just upgraded my WordPress, changed my theme, and moved my site all in the one day. Aside from that, here’s a few other updates.

Ethan is NOT dairy intolerant. His green poos were just the precursor to the whole family getting gastro one week. After he finished up with his (which included some very impressive projectile vomiting) they were normal baby poo colour again. Yay. He’s also getting very close to crawling. Puts everything in his mouth. Was 9.2 kilograms (about 20 pounds) last time we weighed him at 4 months old.

Caleb finally wrote his name for the first time the other day. Yay. He didn’t want to at first, but I asked if he wanted to write a C and he was happy with doing that, so I just asked about each letter after, and before he knew it, he had a name! He loves being a big brother so far, but I think he’s in for a shock when Chuckie starts crawling and grabbing his Lego.

Darrin had, or has, his one year bus driving anniversary about now. Yay. Several months ago, he was made a permanent employee, and has been working out of the Elizabeth depot 10 minutes away since July. Which is a lot easier on the budget and our collective sanity. He wants to use up some of his annual leave soon before they tell him he has to, so we’re pondering when, where, and how we’ll go with two kids for a week.

I have a pile of work to do for Little Para Pants that will actually earn me money! Yay! I’ve also registered my business name, another domain name (littleparapants.com.au), changed my bank account name to ‘trading as Little Para Pants’, and procrastinating looking for business insurance and accountants.

Who cut the cheese?

It’s starting to look as if Ethan has a dairy intolerance. I won’t go into all the gory details, but suffice to say the contents of his nappies aren’t looking quite normal anymore. So you know what that means when he’s breastfed. I have to give up dairy.

Trouble is, I don’t really know any other way of life! I grew up in Wisconsin, nicknamed America’s Dairyland. Every June was Dairy Month, and local shops often had specials on ice cream and other dairy products. If you lived in Wisconsin and didn’t like milk, or didn’t like dairy, you got funny looks from people. Not just that – some people (particularly dairy farmers) might even be offended.

And I love cheese. I would (almost) stake my life on the belief that there’s a type of cheese to go with every type of food out there. Even sweet stuff? Yes, especially sweet stuff! Cheesecake – need I say more?

So I’ll have to work out something to do with all this yogurt I just bought last week. Frozen blueberry yogurt popsicles for Caleb perhaps.

Tonight Caleb is spending the night at his nan’s house, so Darrin & I are having pizza. And then as of tomorrow, I’ll be dairy free to see if that sorts Ethan out. I hope it’s not as boring as I expect it to be!

Our baby has a name.

Ethan Charles Smith.

According to www.babynames.com.au, Ethan means ‘firm and strong.’ Which is definitely what we’ve noticed since he’s been born. His neck muscles are amazingly strong for a newborn – as in, he was lifting his head the same day he was born.

And Charles? I don’t know that I’ve told the full story here yet, so here goes.

A friend introduced us to the TV show Chuck, about a computer geek who inadvertently downloads government secrets into his brain, so he has to learn how to be a real spy. We really liked it, and so over a weekend watched way too many episodes in a row. Caleb decided he really liked shouting ‘Chuck!’

So not long after this, Caleb and I were at a playground with one of the homeschool groups we catch up with. I was about 20 weeks pregnant at the time, and probably only just barely showing, so nobody in that group really knew yet. So Caleb blurts out ‘Mum’s growing a baby’ and there were congratulations and all that like you’d expect. But then he blurted out ‘Our baby’s gonna be called Chuck!’ Ah, no, I don’t think so!

But we started calling the baby Chuck anyway as an ‘in utero’ name. And you can guess what happened from there. We’ve been calling him Chuck since he was born. And last night I was searching through the baby name book, desperately trying to find a middle name to go with Ethan, and thought ‘bah, why don’t we just call him Chuck? He IS Chuck!’ Because there were a few names that sounded good, but nothing that really felt quite right. I told Darrin and he suggested Ethan Charles (as he had a few days ago, and I turned my nose up at it). So Ethan Charles he is.

But we’re still calling him Chuck. At least now the Chuck makes sense with the rest of his name. 😉

Hello Chuckie!

Baby Chuck was born safely at home at 2:31 am on Tuesday 25th October. Measurements as of today, at 6 days of age: 4750 grams (10 pounds 7 ounces), 59 cm long (23 inches), 39 cm head circumference (15 inches). Yeah, ouch is right.

Everyone’s happy & healthy, and the photos are here if you want to have a look at him. And I’m enjoying being able to bend in the middle again. 😉

An official name is yet to be decided but I reckon Chuck is going to stick as a nickname for the rest of his life. 😉


Baby clothes clean and put away: check
Big box of disposables for the first few weeks: check
Cloth nappies clean and stacked at the change table: check
Car seat installed: check
Time off work arranged: check
Freezer(s) stocked full of easy food for Darrin to organise: check
Lots of fresh fruit for quick snacks: check
Baby names decided: um, let’s come back to that one. Baby Chuck is fine for a nickname, but it’s not going on the birth certificate.
Birth support organised: check

Now all we need is a baby!

Adventures in sleeping

So we co-sleep. Always have since Caleb was born. He’s 4 now and we’ve got another baby on the way, so our king sized bed won’t necessarily hold four of us. We’ve been trying to convince him to sleep on a separate mattress next to the big bed, but he wasn’t ever impressed by the idea.

For the last month or so, we’ve also had problems with Caleb kicking, hitting, yelling at us when it’s bedtime. And especially on the nights when Darrin has to get up at ungodly o’clock the next morning, it’s a real pain in the neck. Sometimes literally. And it’s not as if I can just carry him out every night, wait for him to calm down, then carry him back to bed. I’m getting to the point where it really hurts to pick him up – and not just for the minute or two that I’m holding/carrying him either, it goes on for a while after because I’ve strained my muscles.

So. Monday night we were going through our usual dance of us trying to get him to calm down and him not playing along. Finally in exasperation, I asked him ‘Do you want to go sleep in your room by yourself?’ And he surprised me by saying yes! I asked him ‘Are you sure?’ and he said yes again. So we got up, grabbed his pillow, blanket, and water bottle, and set him up in his bedroom on the little cot mattress on the floor. We’ll see how long this lasts, I told myself. And I tucked him in with his blanket and another blanket, and a hot water bottle at his feet, and his stuffed bunny, and his torch in case he needed to go to the toilet in the night, and read him a couple of stories. Then I sat on a chair next to him and he fell asleep.

Well. Okay then. I went back to our bed and tried to sleep. As I suspected all along, I had more trouble sleeping that first night than Caleb did! He slept in his room by himself all the way till about 4:30 when Darrin was getting ready for work. He said he was hungry, so I went and got him a leftover sausage from the fridge. Darrin left for work, Caleb was still half awake, I was almost falling asleep sitting with him so I went back to my bed. I think it was around 6:30 when Caleb came in to our bedroom and crawled into bed with me. And then we both slept till about 9.

Then Tuesday night, he decided to sleep on the couch in the lounge. He got himself all sorted out with a pillow & blanket, and Darrin & I both figured that hey, if he’s choosing to do this, he’s probably ready for it, and at least the lounge has a heater, so he should be fine. And he was. A few stories later he was ready for us both to go into the bedroom, and he fell asleep on his own. He did wake up a few times in the night and asked me to put his blanket back on because he’d fallen off the couch. But each time, as soon as I put the blanket on him, he was asleep in seconds. Even the time he walked into the bedroom to tell me he needed the blanket on again!

Wednesday he decided to sleep in with us. Thursday & Friday he slept on the couch again, straight through on Thursday. Last night he woke up from a dream at about 5 and decided that he HAD TO fix his block constructions on the floor that the cats or we had knocked over. So he fixed those and went back to bed with a carrot to munch on.

So this is for all of you co-sleeping naysayers – you know who you are. You’re the ones who say ‘you’ll never get him out of your bed’ and things of that nature. This didn’t take any prodding from us (I wouldn’t call my original suggestion ‘prodding’ because I was fully prepared to let him come back in the bed with us if he was going to be sensible and go to sleep). And suddenly, we don’t have the bedtime battles we used to have! It was his decision to move out of our bed, and he knows he’s always welcome again if he needs us. But I guess in a way you’re right – we didn’t get him out of our bed. HE got himself out of our bed!

Pre-emptive strike

I am 26 weeks pregnant. Those of you who can do basic counting can probably work out roughly what week I’m ‘due.’

However, I don’t believe in due dates. I believe babies come when they’re ready, regardless of what we’d like them to do. It’s only in very extreme cases that we need to actually DO anything about making a baby be born at a certain time (things like severe pre-eclampsia and heavy bleeding come to mind). I have a friend who gave birth, at home, at 33 weeks, and her baby is perfectly healthy. I know of another woman who had a baby at around 45 weeks, also at home, and again, her baby is perfectly healthy too.

So far I’ve been ‘lucky’ in that my babies have been born before their ‘due’ dates, so I haven’t gotten too much harassment about being ‘overdue.’ But I thought I’d write this all out in advance anyway, so that I can shove this in the face of anyone who starts harassing me when I get close to birthing. Because harassment is exactly what a soon-to-birth woman DOESN’T need, and I’m sick to death of hearing about other women going ‘over’ and getting phone calls, emails, texts, and whatever else asking them when that baby’s coming, and all it causes is stress for the poor pregnant woman who should just be allowed to relax!

If the only thing you have to say to me is something along the lines of ‘Hasn’t that baby been born yet?’ then DON’T bother contacting me. Yeah, because we’re really going to forget to tell all our friends and family that we’ve had a baby. Get real.

If you’re going to suggest that I should get induced because the stillbirth rate increases after whatever gestation, DON’T bother contacting me. Besides, you’d be wrong – the stats I’ve seen (which unfortunately I can’t find at the moment! if you have that link please comment) clearly show that the highest risk of stillbirth is BEFORE 40 weeks. So suck on that.

If you’re going to tell me horror story after horror story about big babies, long labours, dead babies, etc. – save it. I don’t think you can compare anything with the horror story I’ve already lived. And how dare you try to scare a pregnant woman anyway.

And if you even THINK of mentioning that I should go to hospital this time because of what happened last time – GET LOST. You clearly don’t understand the situation and I don’t need people like you in my life.

End of rant. For now.

That post about being an American in Australia, conveniently written on the 4th of July.

Sorry, it’s not really going to have anything of substance. But it might make you hungry.

So I was thinking tonight about polenta, also known as corn meal. Polenta is, from what I gather, a fairly common ingredient in Italian cooking. I, however, don’t know much about Italian cooking, other than pasta, garlic bread, and parmigiana. And I especially have no idea how people cook polenta around here. So I have some polenta in my pantry, which I mistakenly thought would be suitable for making corn taco shells (it was kind of a disaster), and was wondering what else I could do with it. Corn bread was the first thing that came to mind, of course, because I’m a Yank. And then I thought about corn dogs. Mmmm. It’s been ages since I had a good corn dog – hot dog on a stick, dipped in corn batter and deep fried. Not exactly the healthiest thing on the planet, but they are pretty tasty, especially when dipped in real mayonnaise.

And that’s when I had the idea for this blog post: foods from here and there that I like, don’t like, miss, never had before, never had since…all those kinds of categories. So I’m just going to start listing them in no particular order, just the way I think of them.

And this is a much different list than it would have been seven years ago, because you know what? I’ve adapted to my new culture, not completely, but enough to be pretty comfortable. Plus, there are enough shops around that carry some of my favourite American foods/snacks that I don’t have to pine for them – I just need to go to the right shop when I’m having one of those cravings, and I’m good for another few weeks. Because I know it’s not a ‘forbidden fruit’ or anything, and I can have it whenever I want.

Foods I miss from the States

This one is actually going to be a pretty short list, because of the aforementioned shops that carry American imports. Corn dogs are something I wouldn’t mind having now and then, but since I don’t remember having one in the 7 years I’ve been here, I obviously don’t miss them that much. If I did, I would have worked out how to make them at home by now. However, I still haven’t found anywhere that sells packs of Jolly Rancher candies with ONLY the watermelon flavoured ones. And I don’t suppose I’m likely to.

Little Debbies fit in this category too. I don’t believe I’ve seen them anywhere, and I don’t think USA Foods in Melbourne is allowed to import them, otherwise I’m sure they’d have them by now.

And how can I forget Rocky Road ice cream. I might have to try doing it myself one day.

As for restaurants, there’s Arby’s and A & W. Those are really the only ones that I miss that I’d go back to. And a good buffet restaurant (but not Old Country Buffet because they think breastfeeding is perverted or something. I won’t be spending my money with them anymore).

Foods I never had before moving to Australia that I can’t imagine living without now

I can’t count Tim Tams here, because Darrin once filled an entire suitcase with Tim Tams, Milo, and Cherry Ripes when he came over for Christmas. But you know what does? Fresh mandarins. Prior to moving here, I only ever saw them in a can, never fresh. My brother and I, since we were first learning to read, called them ‘Maynard oranges’ because it sounded funny, and there was a guy at our church named Maynard. Now I have a mandarin tree in my back yard. Hopefully it’ll start fruiting next year.

Chips (fries) from Chicken Chef in Gilles Plains. You have not lived till you’ve had these.

Australian foods that I’m still not game to try

Vegemite. I’m not sure I’ll ever get there. Since Darrin doesn’t like it, and Caleb’s never had it either (to my knowledge), it’s not really that crucial that I deal with it.

Imported American stuff I buy now and then

Dr Pepper
Welch’s Strawberry soda
A&W root beer
A&W cream soda
Reese’s Pieces
Reese’s peanut butter cups
Jelly Belly jelly beans

Typical American foods that I make at home

PBJ (only I use, and have always used, strawberry jam instead of grape jelly)
‘Ants on a toilet seat’ – aka an apple cut in half, core removed, spread with peanut butter and raisins (sultanas) placed on top. Only I usually cut up the apple into wedges and put peanut butter on each one, and don’t bother with sultanas.
Pumpkin pie (especially now that I’ve finally successfully grown pumpkins in my back yard)

Things I’ve found suitable substitutes for

Hershey’s Almond chocolate bars: Cadbury Roast Almond, of course. And Cadbury tastes better anyway.
Cheddarwurst: the mild cheese kranskys from the Pacific Big Butcher in John Street, Salisbury.

It’s a small world, after all

Know what? The dine-in Pizza Hut outside Westfield Marion smells EXACTLY like the Pizza Hut I used to work at in Hudson, Wisconsin, over 10 years ago. Some things never change.

What was I doing here again? Oh yeah.

Actually, all of these lists are smaller than I thought they’d be, because I seem to have forgotten a lot of the things I used to miss. Funny what 7 years does.

So just how hard is it to get your lawn mowed?

It’s been ages since I blogged.  I had to take it up again just so I could tell this long, twisted tale.  And it ain’t even finished yet!

So a friend of mine started a gardening co-op group on Facebook a few weeks ago. Basically we all go around to each other’s houses and do some gardening work together and get heaps more done in one day than one person could get done over a longer period of time. And I volunteered to have the first one here, because of so many reasons. I’m pregnant again (did I mention that?) so I haven’t been able to do much. And Darrin’s driving a bus all the way at the other end of the city, and away from home for up to 15 hours a day sometimes, for 5 days a week, so he can’t do much either. Things are seriously falling behind here. The grass is up to 40 cm high in some places, and the dandelions – you don’t even want to know. And now the sour sobs are starting up for the winter too. So something seriously needs to be done.

I didn’t think it was fair to have everyone come over and make them mow my jungle of a lawn, so I started looking for lawnmowing services to come do it. On Friday the 8th, I contacted one that slashed the lawn about a year and a half ago and was told that someone would contact me. And several days went past. So I emailed them again on Thursday the 14th, and the guy said that someone would contact me soon, and he did. He left a message on my phone to ring him back. Rang back immediately and got voicemail. Sent an SMS. Next morning I still hadn’t heard anything more from him so I rang again. He said he could come over Saturday just after lunch.

Now here’s the problem. My gardening day was supposed to be Saturday at 11 am. The mowing has to be done before anything else can be. So I postponed the gardening day till Sunday. So far, so good. Sunday actually worked better for some of the people who were planning to come.

Saturday came. I went out in the morning to do some shopping, came home, and we had lunch. And we waited. And waited. And waited.

The guy never turned up. Never even rang or texted to say he couldn’t/wouldn’t be here. I’ve heard NOTHING from him at all. That company has lost my business (and if you’re in Adelaide and ask me nicely, I’ll tell you who they are so you can avoid them too, but I don’t want to post their name here in case they decide to sue me for libel or something).

Anyway. So that evening I looked up a few other local businesses. I contacted three of them and heard from two almost right away. One said he could come to do a quote Sunday afternoon, and I told the other one Monday morning. The Sunday guy texted me early in the afternoon to ask if he could come Monday instead, so I said that was fine, but it would need to be afternoon. No problem – at least he bothered to contact me.

And now it’s Monday morning. About half an hour ago, I was sitting here at my computer, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw someone walk past the window. WHAT THE?! My first thought was that the morning guy forgot/neglected to text me before he came over, because he hadn’t rung the doorbell or knocked or anything first. I went to get my keys and watched him write something on a piece of paper, just outside the lounge room window, then walk down the driveway and stick something in the letterbox before crossing the street back to his vehicle. I waited a couple minutes, then walked out to check what it was.

It was NOT the Monday morning mower guy. It was the third one of the three I’d contacted Saturday evening, the one I never heard anything from. He thought he could just turn up at my house, look at my lawn, leave a note, and it would all be okay. Yeah, because I like random strangers walking past my window and freaking me out.

Not that I’m going to hire him after the lack of contact, but his hourly rate is lower than others I’ve hired in the past. But only by five dollars. And he said to ring him after Wednesday NEXT WEEK. Okay, so he wants his Easter break, fair enough. Doesn’t help me now though.

Now the original Monday morning guy turned up, and sent me a text beforehand! and came to the door! and told me a really low price! and said he could do it this week! Very tempting indeed. I think it’s because he’s just starting up and trying to get known – a general handyman business. I had to tell him I’m waiting for one more quote so I’ll let him know later today. But just between you and me – I think he’s going to get the job.