Archive | February, 2012

A Dads Eye View of Teething

23 Feb

The inspiration for this post remains vivid. I am at the back end of a week that left me pondering if it was perhaps in my top ten worst weeks of all time. It came in at number 9, pushing the week that I worked at an aquarium as “Sammy the Seal” children’s party entertainer extraordinaire into 10th spot on the leader board (a week of being punched, poked and prodded in my seal-y nether regions). If you display any of the following symptoms it is quite possible your child is teething;

  • There is a strong likelihood you will experience ear piercing screams that suggest some form of primitive torture taking place
  • A maximum of two hours of angry sleep, is there any other kind?
  • Your partner will look to be on the edge and dangerous, remain on your guard at all times
  • A yearning for hard liquor, strong coffee and Tim Tams (I just like Tim Tams alright!)
  • In extreme cases of teething you may find yourself typing into Google “how many teeth do babies get?” – 20 for the record, 7 down 13 to go………….oh bollocks!

Solutions are plentiful but my own prefered method is a little whisky and a gentle rocking motion, not for the baby you fools, for me! All this begs the question, are teeth really that good? I for one would gladly forego the pain that gnashers heap upon all involved in favour of a life time of sucking baby food from a pouch. Think about it, no more drilling, filling, crowning, capping, brushing, whitening, scraping, brightening, flossing and of course no more teething! And don’t even get me started on the delicious world of baby food, lamb stew in a pouch, um ummm. Just a thought that’s all.

Gender Bending

23 Feb

I feel a bit of a fraud pushing Max around the streets of St Kilda (in his pram, I’m not literally physically pushing him, that would be wrong). There is that nagging feeling that I should be bringing home the metaphorical bacon or putting the figurative bread on the table. Sometimes mums walk past me and they look at Max, then look at me and seem to be trying to figure out what the connection is. “Look Jennifer, there’s a man with a pram and what looks to be a baby inside it, but how could this be?” “I don’t know Linda but perhaps the police should be informed?”

I had a situation the other day at the library (lots of my situations take place in the library or the swings these days), there were a group of mums doting over their little bundles of joy. I made eye contact, offered up a little  dad joke, registered what I thought was genuine laughter and then tried to join their inner circle – the circle closed quicker than you could say “go and get a job and leave this stuff to the pro’s”.

It’s taken lots of time for me to adjust to my new role and realise that I am extremely fortunate to be doing something incredible. I allow myself a bit more credit now, I have such an amazing bond with this little man and I am in the fortunate position of witnessing all the bits and pieces that are thrown together to make him Max (nose picking and handing clapping are the flavours du jour). Stay At Home Dads (it doesn’t help my argument that the acronym is SAHD) the next time you find yourself longing to be crunching numbers in the office, enjoying a beer with your mates or holding up your end in an adult conversation, just remember  it’s probably the best job in the world.

** Disclaimer – not all mums look at me like I am a gender bending baby thief

boys have cooties and girls are smelly

16 Feb

Throughout life males and females do their best to remain segregated. The general consensus is that boys have cooties and girls are smelly. You might want to dress it up and say men are from Mars women are from Venus, but essentially, cooties and smelly will suffice. The school playground is where the segregation starts and it’s not until we discover the sexy dance that we decide to relent and go behind enemy lines.

When I started to look after Max full time I had the option of taking Anna’s place and joining her mothers group. “But it’s a mothers group and I’m not a mum and it will be really awkward when everyone else starts to bitch about their husbands”. 

It’s quite surprising how many stay at home dads there are in St Kilda, we acknowledge one another with a knowing grunt but barely a word is exchanged. We’re not especially good at it are we, talking I mean. Don’t get me wrong we could talk the hind legs off a male donkey if the topics were; the state of the national (insert sporting preference here) team, the price of petrol, how hot is too hot where curries are concerned, but outside of these areas the male donkey will run off “ee-or-ing” into the sunset with hind legs firmly intact.

The obvious solution is to replace the name “mothers groups” with “parents groups” (I know you have been oppressed for centuries but two wrongs don’t make a right). It would take a powerful campaigner of epic proportions and boundless energy to achieve such a feat, unfortunately I’m just a lazy Blogger. What I will do is endeavour to establish a Dads Group in St Kilda, a few flyers in the local park (a recognised habitat of the rare spotted stay at home dad) should start the ball rolling.

I will keep you posted on this noble quest for gender equality and a safe environment to discuss the price of petrol.

Chip Off the Old Block?

15 Feb

On one of our daily trips to get a hit of caffeine I was enjoying watching Max flirt with a girl in the pram opposite when I started to hum along to the music in the background. I realised I knew all the words to the song, resisting the temptation to serenade my fellow addicts, I realised it was an old Buddy Holly song. Along with bad knitwear, an unparalleled thriftiness, a staunch refusal to wear a coat regardless of how cold England happens to be at the time and a consistent approach to label everyone on the telly a “prat”, Buddy Holly is one of the things I associate with my Dad.

My Dad had some fairly maverick approaches to parenting, none of which will feature in any of the How To Raise Perfect Children books that are available in all good bookstores. There was that quaint tradition that the children must swim in the sea on Christmas Day (not particularly extreme in Australia but in the North of England it would regularly snow, making it bloody extreme), not being a total sadist he would allow us a nip of brandy afterwards to warm us up (I was 5 years old). On a father/son sledging trip I was so cold that a passerby took pity on me and offered me a pair of gloves, I eagerly snatched at the gloves, only to hear “no thank you, my boy doesn’t need gloves”.

We would go to an Italian restaurant once a week for a family meal. On one occasion my Dad ordered the soup, nothing unusual there, he usually does because it’s the cheapest thing on the menu (told you he was thrifty), on this occasion though he had a mischievous glint in his eye. The steaming soup appeared and after the surly waiter had departed my dad reaches into his pocket and places a plastic fly in his soup. “Waiter, waiter, there’s a fly in my soup”, aah I see what he’s done here. The surly waiter reappears and looks aghast at the fly in the soup. My dad bursts into self congratulatory laughter only to realise that the waiter is apologising in Italian and the joke has been lost in translation. A tug of war ensues between my dad, the waiter and the bowl of soup. Soup is spilling all over the table and even at the age of 10 I knew that my dad had pushed the boundaries of acceptable humour. I don’t think we returned to that particular restaurant for our Friday night family meal.

Of course I loved all of the little bizarre traditions and quirks that my Dad thrust into our lives. He would teach me how to make bows and arrows and I would run around my grandparents’ farm trying to maim chickens. He constructed rafts out of drift wood and made sure that we only jumped ship once it was fully submerged in angry water. He once cut up a fur coat and stuck the fur all over me with glue in a bid to win best costume at the school Halloween party, he wasn’t to know that the combination of disco lights and a sugar filled child would combine to melt the glue and moult fur. I looked like a rabid hound by the end of the night, mine was by far the scariest costume, Dad couldn’t have looked prouder as I collected the prize!

In a nutshell my childhood was everything a boy could wish for! I loved my Dad so much and all I ever wanted to do was make him proud (don’t know why I’m using past tense, he is still alive, I still love him and I still want to make him proud). This caused me to panic, can I offer Max such an incredible upbringing. There is something about becoming a Dad that has made me quite self reflective, am I worthy of this incredible little boy. I certainly have a lot to live up to and I am sure that G-Paps (his choice, not mine) will be a good source of inspiration along the way.

Feel free to share eccentric dad stories here, who had the maddest dad of all?

Compliments to the Chef

14 Feb

I love to cook, one of the reasons I love to cook is because I like people to tell me afterwards how delicious it was and how extremely talented I am and how lucky Anna is (they don’t actually say any of that, I’m filling in the gaps). Babies, however, have to be some of the harshest food critics around. There is no room for niceties in the world of baby food feedback. If your pasta sucks I will show you exactly how much it sucks by throwing it on the floor in disgust. If your soup isn’t up to scratch I will put it in my mouth, but only so I can give you a look of complete distain and then let it dribble slowly down my chin. And how dare you think you can feed me sandwiches twice in one day, I will eat and thoroughly enjoy them the first time around but this time I will put your second rate sandwich on my tray and then I will pound it into my tray with such force that little bits of sandwich will fly in your face and about your person. Yes I liked watermelon yesterday and yes I led you to believe that it was the best thing since dummies but today I can’t stand the stuff, now take it away and get me some mango! Cooking for babies is tough!

I have taken Max’s protests to heart and go to some fairly extreme lengths in order to gain his approval. The other day Max was tucking into Hokkien noodles with honey and ginger chicken, I looked on meekly as I tried to convince my brain that my cheese sandwich was in fact the better meal. Other recipes that have received a good review are; gnocchi with pesto, chicken quesadillas, moules mariniere (I know its f@cking ridiculous!), beef bourguignon and pumpkin and parmesan risotto. On the upside by the time he is 5 I will be regarded as a world renowned chef cooking some of the finest food known to man (or baby).

We are fortunate enough to have a vegetable plot at the fantastic Veg Out Community Gardens in St Kilda. There is nothing better than watching Max raid someone else’s tomato plant and rid them of their bounty. Have a look and see if you have a shared garden scheme near you, it is so satisfying to feed your child food that you have grown yourself – it’s the caveman coming out.

What culinary treats have rocked your babies world, flicked their gastronomic switch and left them begging for more?

Pram Wars!

14 Feb

We all do it don’t we? Go on admit it, when you are about to become or have become a dad we start to check out other peoples prams. Check out the suspension on that little beauty – bouncy, bouncy! Look at the smooth folding action on that one – effortless! Darling, that one appears to have two coffee cup holders – how practical!

I think we spent more time and effort trying to choose our pram than we did deciding whether we would try for a baby, a slightly worrying admission. I found myself on Mothers Forums masquerading as a mum, my gosh there are some scary mums on these sites, words to the effect of if you don’t by a really expensive pram you are a bad mother and shame on you. We opted for a sleek Italian model in Ferrari red, that is where the comparisons to Ferrari end, it’s currently sat unused and unloved in the garage after the folding mechanism broke.

Now is your chance to indulge in some technical geekery fellas, who is genuinely in love with their pram?

“Excuse me, our one appears to have come without a manual”

14 Feb

Healthy baby, check

Healthy mum, check

Excitable dad, check

Ability to care for this incredibly fragile little person, er, erm, hhhm

It’s a strange feeling driving home from hospital for the first time with an extra person that you don’t really know but love more than anything. It was great at hospital, it was a bit like being in a hotel, “Room service, please. Yes could someone come and take this screaming baby for us so we can get some sleep, no that will be all thanks”. I don’t know what I thought I would be doing, what my role would be in those first weeks but I felt fairly redundant. Try as I may my nipples were milk-less. You have never seen anyone so excited to change a nappy, I was Mr Nappy, over time the excitement has worn off as the pooh has become increasingly smellier and sloppier, bring back those little black ones I say.

Notable memories of the early weeks include, falling asleep to the soothing sounds of a breast pump, contorting my body into all manner of positions on the sofa, baby on chest and mum in bed, England giving Australia a damned good spanking in the Ashes, wondering what breast milk actually tastes like, refusing to taste breast milk and feeling extremely protective of my little man. The turning point for us was a recommendation from a stranger, the best stranger we ever met, a book called “Save Our Sleep by Tizzie Hall”. Within a week Max was in a routine (that magic ‘r’ word) and everything made sense after weeks of stumbling around in the dark. If anyone finds themself in this position of uncertainty my advice is to choose a prescribed routine and stick with it through the sleepless nights and the crying fits. I met a Dad recently who said his 18 month old son had spent every night from birth in the bed with them – ouch!

Placenta Sir?

14 Feb

Being a birthing partner is not for the faint hearted. Should I stay at the top end of the bed (the “safe end”) or should I get the camcorder out and get amongst it? Should I go with the mix tape I’ve made, complete with uplifting songs such as Salt n Peppa’s Push It or is that pushing it? Is this the perfect opportunity to unleash the “chop chop massage” I’ve been working on or shall I stick with the conventional shoulder squeeze? Vomit or faint?  Push, push, push or Go on girl give it some welly! Definitely not for the faint hearted.

Turned out I had nothing to worry about, I was a total natural.  I did a convincing job at remaining calm when water was gushing all over our bed, even managing a “I always wanted a water bed” gag. I drove us to hospital quickly and efficiently, despite the difficulties of driving with your wife’s legs stretched out across the dashboard. I administered enough massages to achieve Advanced Jedi Massage Status (AJMS).  I cut the cord with consummate ease and even managed to muster up a contemplative look when they asked me if I wanted to keep the placenta (do I look like I collect placenta?). I managed to hide my relief when I was told “it’s a boy” (nothing against girls, just wanted a boy in the bag). It wasn’t a total surprise that it was a boy, during one scan the radiogrpaher hovered over what can only be described as a little penis with two tiny testicles either side, a total giveaway. I phoned the relatives and managed to remember crucial pieces of information like, baby weight, baby gender and unusual swearing combinations that mum used, eg, shitbastard!Is there a better hug than that first hug with your little baby?

Max Ross

Born: 24th December 2010

Weighing: 3.9kg

Whats In A Name?

14 Feb

Juliet: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

That’s very profound Juliet, but your actually wrong, you’ve allowed your judgement to become clouded by being all loved up with Romeo, names are really, really important.

After a few months of letting the whole “you’re going to be a dad, you’re life is effectively over” thing settle in we decided we should probably come up with a name for whatever it was that was making Anna’s tummy so perfectly spherical. A surname like Ross opens the flood gates to some comedy gold – if it’s a girl, how about Glamour Ross, hmmm too Playboy Bunny. If it’s a boy you could do a lot worse than Danger Ross, how cool would that kid be – Anna crushed that dream, not even allowing it as a middle name!?!? If he emerges and is a little bit big boned, perhaps Wall Ross would befit. Albert Ross, Jenna Ross, Dexter Ross, Wanda Ross, it’s a bottomless pit of name related humour. Writing this a year after his birth, it still hurts that Max isn’t going to benefit from having Danger as a middle name.

I had to campaign hard to bring Anna on board with Max and campaign hard I did. My pitch revolved around three key selling points – Max Ross has a James Bond quality to it, Max means “The Greatest” and it would be easy to write meaning that for a few briefs weeks of school he will be the smartest kid in his class. 

On a seperate note my parents really nearly called my sister Fanny Ross. They insist that Fanny was a common name back in the day, where have all the Fanny’s gone I wonder? They opted for Laura, a much safer bet.

Dropping Bombs

14 Feb

In Autumn 2010 Anna returned to England for a friend’s wedding, I had study commitments and thought it would be fun to have some me time and while the cats away………..turns out that while the cats away the mouse stays up too late watching bad telly, spends a disproportionate amount of time in his mouse underwear, eats all of the food that under normal circumstances “the cat” bans and generally turns into a big slobby stinky male mouse.

I pick Anna up from the airport and she seems a little nervous, tense and just un-Anna like. Had she had a drunken frolic with the best man? That’s definitely it, never trust a best man, they take their title too literally.

“Okay Anna, out with it, did you have a drunken frolic with the best man?”

“I’m pregnant”

Two very powerful words that took my breath away, filled me with fear and rendered me speechless all at the same time.

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