These Small Hours – The Reason Behind The Blog Name Change

I started this blog three years ago, when two little pee lines changed my life.  I discovered I was carrying a very surprise pregnancy and I started the blog to share my experiences.  I called it “Life After Two Blue Lines” – because those two lines seemed a watershed moment to me, a defining point in my life of before and after.

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I wasn’t wrong.  For the next 9 months my life revolved around my pregnancy, and for the next year or two after that my life revolved around the challenge and adventure of reconciling myself to the realities of motherhood and embracing the journey it entails.  I haven’t used this blog nearly as much as I should have – as much as I wish I had – to record that journey, but it has been here nonetheless as my little place of self-expression and discovery.

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Lately, however, as I grow into my role as mum, I have begun to feel confined by the name “Life After Two Blue Lines” as I feel it defines me and my life purely in terms of motherhood.  As I grow into this new life, I am able to slowly remember that I am a mum yes, first and always, but I am also more, I am also else, I am also other.  I am also still me – a new me, a growing me, a changed me… but still me.  Still me whole unto myself as well as being “Mum”.

At the end of the day I think my life story will always be defined around the incredible power of those two lines.  And me the mum and me the person will always be completely, utterly and inextricably intertwined.  And yet I feel it is important to maintain a sense of myself, of my own passions and interests, besides the wiping of bums and cuddling of a sweet and cheeky little body.

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The title “These Small Hours” comes from the lyrics of the Rob Thomas song “These Little Wonders, which has always spoken right into the core of me.  From the moment I hear the first bars, the first few words, I feel my shoulders relax and I start to remember what life is really about.

let it go,
let it roll right off your shoulder
don’t you know
the hardest part is over
let it in,
let your clarity define you
in the end
we will only just remember how it feels

our lives are made
in these small hours
these little wonders,
these twists & turns of fate
time falls away,
but these small hours,
these small hours still remain

let it slide,
let your troubles fall behind you
let it shine
until you feel it all around you
and i don’t mind
if it’s me you need to turn to
we’ll get by,
it’s the heart that really matters in the end

our lives are made
in these small hours
these little wonders,
these twists & turns of fate
time falls away,
but these small hours,
these small hours still remain

all of my regret
will wash away some how
but i can not forget
the way i feel right now

in these small hours
these little wonders
these twists & turns of fate
these twists & turns of fate
time falls away
but these small hours

these small hours
still remain

 To me this simple, beautiful song sums up so much that is important to me.

It sums up parenthood – how the beauty of it lies in the small hours – these little wonders – the simple magic of the day to day.

It sums up life – not the big excitements and achievements – but the small hours, the ordinary, the RIGHT NOW where all of life exists, where our lives are truly made.  It reminds you to cherish each day and see what is special in each moment and to remember what is really important –

– It’s the heart that really matters in the end.

And it sums up my approach to photography, my absolute passion for it, my desire to document all of those small hours, those tiny ordinary moments and little wonders that make life so special, so that one day, when
time falls away
these small hours
these small hours
still remain.

I’m afraid that in the end – I will only just remember how it feels.

I want to capture and celebrate the small hours.  I want to remember to dwell always in the small hours and see the little wonders that dwell there.

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I want to never forget
the way I feel right now.

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23 Months: Entering the Mine Zone

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My little ragamuffin is now 23 months old.

The first time she went without a nap was on her 20 month birthday.  From that point on she started getting her toddler on more and more.  She’s not a tantrumy type girl.  But she’s still a toddler.  She is certainly exploring the concept of things being “mine” or belonging to different people.

I think I must be weird because I love it.  I love her feisty little “MINE!”, I love seeing her mind tick over and discover the concept of ownership.  I love that when you touch or tickle her she cries “No dat’s MY nose!” or “No dat’s MY foot!”.  She has a strong sense of bodily autonomy and ownership and I love that.

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She likes her personal space.  If another child starts getting to far into her personal space without her permission, she starts saying firmly “No!  Stop!  Get away!”  She is shy and wary with people she doesn’t know and takes quite a while to warm up.  Which is always strange to me, because with us and people she is comfortable with, she is an utterly zany, crazy little person who is a laugh a minute.

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She is a talker.  She talks in full sentences and has done for at least the last month or so.  Things like “I want toast” or “I fink its dry now” or “mummy is dat yummy?”  People often comment on how clearly she speaks.

For all her strength in the linguistic area, she is slower on the gross motor skills.  She only mastered climbing recently and was very proud of herself.  She has only just figured out that you can climb off the bed by turning around backwards.  She stills needs my help to climb on a rocking horse or those little toddler push bike things.  Her mummy is more of a bookworm than an athlete so maybe she takes after me 😛

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She spent about 2-3 months obsessed with The Wiggles.  Then she got a Hairy Maclary DVD and watched that a million times.  Her latest obsession is Peppa Pig.  Through all of these fickle changes of heart, however, her longstanding love is Angry Birds Toons.  She will beg for “Angy Birds ona iPad” and we will find her the videos online and she will beam from ear to ear.

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She does still nap most days, although will sleep in sometimes and then skip a nap that day.  However she now doesn’t go to bed until around 9:30-10pm.  She has stamina!  She still loves our bottle cuddles and she still goes to sleep on my lap with a bottle and dummy and I put her in her bed once she’s a sleep.  I know the day is coming all too fast that she won’t need my cuddles anymore.  So I enjoy, while I still can, the warm weight of her growing body on mine, watching the slow descent of her eyelashes onto her cheeks.

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She is a fussy sparrow eater.  She likes to graze and very rarely eats a dinner-type meal.  Vegies are a no go, although luckily she likes a lot of fruits.  All I can do is try to make sure her grazing snacks are as healthy as possible and keep offering dinners and vegies and eat them in front of her.

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Although I love her exploration of the concept of “mine”, obviously that doesn’t mean she gets her own way all the time.  If something isn’t in fact hers, then it is my place to step in and guide her around the concept of ownership.  We are getting there and I think the most important thing is to keep your expectations to an age-appropriate level.  It is totally normal for a child to not understand the idea of sharing until after the third birthday.  I find that often in the heat of the moment she may get upset or whingy, but then next time she sees the object or enters a similar situation, she will say something like “dat’s Daddy’s one”.  It’s like her little brain has been processing it all in the meantime and it’s kind of cool to observe.

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I can’t believe she is almost two years old, but then, on the other hand, she is certainly moving past the level of a one year old and in that respect, her being two totally makes sense.  She is feisty, funny, empathetic, strong willed, attached and yet independent.  She always wants me close by but she wants to do things for herself.  She is just an awesome, awesome little person.  I adore this age (even if she wears me out sometimes!) and I adore her.

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Homemade Goat’s Milk Infant Formula

The Backstory

I have written on this blog before about my difficult breastfeeding journey.  I truly believe in the value of breastfeeding and did it as long as I could, but there came a point where I could not longer take it, where I felt that breastfeeding was actually interfering with my ability to bond with my baby, not aiding it.  At that point, when my daughter was 6 months old, I decided to wean to bottle feeding.

She took to it easily and quickly but I was still left feeling not quite right about feeding her commercial formula.  I didn’t want to breastfeed anymore but I didn’t like giving her this powder from a tin with no real concept of what was in it or how it was made.  Because I had given up breastfeeding by choice, not due to lack of milk, I felt it was my responsibility to make sure that what I replaced it with was the best thing I could possibly find.

I looked up homemade formula recipes on the internet but they all seemed incredibly complicated with ingredients I didn’t know how to source and method descriptions as long as my arm.  I continued on commercial formula for about two months.  My daughter struggled with constipation terribly during this time.  I switched to an organic formula but this difficulty continued.

One day, when she was 8 months old, she was straining and screaming trying to pass a bowel motion, and she looked up at me and just reached out a hand towards me in this gesture of desperation, of despair.  She seemed to be saying “help me mummy, make this pain stop.”  In that moment, I knew I had to do something.  Something had to change, I couldn’t keep seeing her in this pain.  I was also afraid it would make doing a poo a scary thing for her, which could cause difficulties down the track.

Luckily, right around this time, I had stumbled across a goat’s milk formula recipe that The Eco Mum posted in a Facebook status update one night.  It seemed so EASY compared to all the other recipes I had come across.  In fact, the recipe she outlined in her status update had only three ingredients – goat’s milk kefir, coconut water and stinging nettle infusion.

I started researching, sourcing ingredients, and tweaking, and the result was this recipe.  I remember the first time I gave it to my daughter and how happy I felt that I knew every single ingredient that was going down her throat and that I was super happy for every single one of them to be going into her little tummy.  She took to it straight away without an issue (WARNING: don’t be curious and taste it yourself.  Seriously don’t.  Ick.  Didn’t seem to bother her though!).  Within a day or two, her poos were like breastmilk poos!  Apart from the odd occasion during the transition to solids, she has never again had a problem with constipation.  No more straining, no more pain!

She had this full recipe from 8 months old to about 13 months.  Around 13 months, I started making an even easier, more convenient version with just straight goat’s milk, coconut water and a powdered probiotic, as a complement to her solids diet.  Sometimes now if I run out of coconut water, I’ll give her straight goat’s milk, but I really notice the difference in her gut health when I use the coconut water, it is really great stuff!

She is now a happy, healthy 20 month old, bang on average for height and weight, very clever and active.  She has only been sick about 2-3 times in her entire life.

My daughter and I still have our bottle cuddles :-)

My daughter and I still have our bottle cuddles 🙂

Please note that I am not a health care or nutrition professional.  All I can tell you is that this formula has done wonders for my daughter and I wouldn’t hesitate to use it again in the future, should the need arise.

The Recipe

This recipe is really very easy, so please don’t be put off if you find some of the ingredients daunting or foreign at first glance.  Below the actual recipe, I will outline each ingredient in detail and where to source it.

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My collection of ingredients

To make one litre of formula, I use the following:

300 ml goat’s milk kefir
300 ml organic coconut water
300 ml organic nettle infusion
1 tsp black strap molasses dissolved in 100 ml clean (filtered/distilled) water
1/4 tsp fish oil
1/4 scoop vitamin C powder

All you need to do is mix all of these ingredients together and store in the fridge.

Scarlett has always been happy to drink this straight from the fridge, but you may wish to warm it in a bottle warmer or by placing a bottle of formula in a bowl of hot water.

The Ingredients

At first glance, you may be thinking: kefir? molasses? infusion?  What the heck?!  And where and how?!

Don’t worry – once you pull all the ingredients together and make it a couple of times, it’s really very easy and you will get into your own little routine.  I was able to make up a litre batch within a mere minute or two at the height of our usage of it.

My jars of goodness - kefir brewing and nettle infusing

My jars of goodness – kefir brewing and nettle infusing

Let’s go through each ingredient one by one:

Kefir

Kefir is a kind of liquid super yoghurt, tons of great natural probiotics, fantastic for the gut and digestion.

You can make kefir from live grains – a bit of googling and you should be able to source some grains in your area (please feel free to message me or comment if you are unable to find some).  All you do is put the kefir grains into 1-2 cups of lightly warmed milk in a large jar, cover with a plastic or glass lid, and leave in a warm (20-25 degrees Celsius) place for 24 hours.  Then just strain out the grains, put the grains back into the jar, add a touch of the kefir you have just harvested, and then add 1-2 more cups of milk and start over again!  You can keep the harvested kefir in the fridge.  The important thing to remember is that these grains are alive, so you have to keep them in milk and at a warmish temperature to keep them alive.  I just kept the jar of grains and milk in my pantry with a towel wrapped around it.  Some people muck around with thermometers and things but seriously, I can’t be pfaffed with that kind of carry on.  The grains should grow and multiply, the longer you keep making kefir.

If you can’t find live grains or don’t want to have to deal with live grains, you can buy sachets of dried kefir at good health stores or online, for example at Four Body.  You just empty the sachet into a litre of warm milk, leave for 24 hours, then add a little of the kefir to some new milk.  This can be repeated for a total of 5 litres of kefir, then you just open a new sachet.

Nature's Goodness kefir

Kefir is really great stuff and fantastic for gut health (and therefore immunity and general wellbeing), so I urge you to at least have a go making some.  If it all just seems way too hard or outside your comfort zone, I would recommend using straight goat’s milk with an added powder probiotic such as Inner Health Plus for Kids.

If you’re feeling eager, you can read alllll about kefir on this kefir information website.

Goat’s Milk

Goat’s milk is closer to human breastmilk in composition than cow’s milk is, and many people find it less irritating to the gut and easier to digest.  Many supermarkets stock UHT goat’s milk in the long life milk aisle, or you can buy powdered goat’s milk at good health food stores or online (I got mine for a while from Four Body).  While I was making my own kefir, I used the powder, as I found the grains thrived better in it.  Now that my daughter is older and I give her straight goat’s milk, I just use UHT milk.

Coconut Water

Coconut water contains higher concentrations of lauric acid than animal milk – lauric acid is a component of breast milk that helps with immunity (it is antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, antiparasitic).  In this respect, coconut water is actually closer to breast milk than cows or goats milk. It’s also good for the gut and a fantastic hydrator. It’s important to get 100% pure coconut water, as sometimes you’ll see coconut water drinks in the supermarket with added sugar and flavours and gunk.  I sourced organic pure coconut water in bulk from Chemist Direct.

Stinging Nettle Infusion

The nettle infusion is made by soaking organic stinging nettle leaves in water for 24 hours, then straining out the leaves, which makes a concentrated liquid full of all the good stuff in the leaves (vitamins, minerals etc).  You can find loose organic leaves at Southern Skies Soap Supplies.  You can also find nettle tea in some supermarkets – just make sure it is pure nettle leaves with no other additives.  I use 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons, or four tea bags, per 1 litre of boiling water.  Put it all in a jar and leave for 24 hours.  Strain out the leaves and you are left with a green, richly grassy liquid full of goodness.

Black Strap Molasses

Black strap molasses is a completely natural by-product of sugar production, comes from sugar cane, and is really high in iron (1 tablespoon has a large percentage of an adult’s daily iron requirement), but funnily enough also has a slight laxative effect, so it helps prevent constipation. If you’re finding the poos a bit icky, you can cut back on the amount of molasses you use.  You can find black strap molasses at a good health food store or you can source it online at Four Body (and also read more about its benefits).

Fish Oil and Vitamin C

The fish oil I add for brain development, and you can find it in any supermarket or pharmacy.  Some people may wish to use Flaxseed oil as a non-animal source, however the omegas in fish oil are much more bioavailable (more easily digested) than in flaxseed oil.  The vitamin C powder you can get at health food stores and I added this for boosted immunity.

A bottle of homemade goat's milk formula

A bottle of homemade goat’s milk formula

So there it is – the homemade formula recipe that has served me and my daughter so well 🙂  It does take a wee bit more effort than opening a tin of commercial formula, but I really think it is worth it.  I really hope that this can help some mums out there who are unable to or choose not to breastfeed, but who feel that they want to ensure the absolute best nutrition possible for their babies.   Please don’t take any of this as a judgement upon those who do choose commercial formula.  At the end of the day, in my opinion, the most important thing is that you feed your baby with love, regardless of whether they are latched on to your breast or a bottle.  Hold them in your arms, look into their eyes, let them feel your heart beating on their cheek.  In the words of Jewel, “in the end, only kindness matters.”  Love your baby, be kind to yourself, go in peace xxx.

its not about breast versus bottle

Disclaimer: I am not in any way supported, endorsed by or sponsored by the links I provide in this article.  I am merely sharing what worked for me.  If you know of other sources of any of the ingredients I discuss, I’d love to hear from you.

14 to 18 Months: An Energizer Parrot!

Sometime around the 14 month mark, Scarlett started walking.  To be honest, I actually don’t remember her “first steps”.  I do clearly remember one day, at a time when she had taken the odd step or two now and then,  that she suddenly walked a series of 3 or 4 steps across the lounge and Daddy C and I just looked at each other in surprise, because we hadn’t been expecting it.

IMG_2628-1-4One of the first times she stood on her own, at about 12.5 months

2013-02-12_0001A few tentative steps at 14 months

From there it was just a gradual process of becoming more confident, and slowly transitioning her first choice of movement modality from crawling into walking.  By 15 months, walking was the mode of choice, with a funny little waddling run thrown in now and then.  I quickly forgot what it was like when she DIDN’T walk and she continued to gain confidence.

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Off a-waddlin at 16 months

I’m not sure I can explain why, but as soon as she started walking, I started enjoying motherhood with her a LOT more.  I struggled with life with a baby, but I LOVE having a toddler!  She is so fun, I love that she can get to where she wants to go by herself – she is less frustrated and is able to communicate better, because anything she can’t say, she can just go to or point at, and it helps immensely.  I love when she goes and chooses a book she wants and bring it to me to read – she is no longer just a receptacle, a recipient… she has her own ideas of what she wants to do and play with, and it’s so much more fun.

Her language also continues to grow and grow.  I made a little impromptu list  on her 17 month birthday, just out of curiosity and as a kind of keepsake.

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However, no sooner had I written the list, than it became redunant.  She is becoming more and more of a little parrot every day.  The things she comes out with these days continue to amaze me.   She also has a couple of sentences: she says “it’s a ___” or “that’s a ____”, for example: “itsa cat!” or “that’s a mummy”.  She also says “where’s ____?” while holding her hands out in an extremely cute little shrugging gesture and searching for the mentioned item: “where’s bowl?” or “where’s minna?”  She’ll say things I didn’t know she can say quite unexpectedly and both blow me away and crack me up at the same time… such as when she threw the flash cards all over the floor and then said “itsa mess!”  Hahaha yes, why yes bubba, it IS a mess!

She is an energizer bunny, she gets up at 6:30-7 am, has one nap and is often still going at 8:30-9 pm at night.  She has the funniest, zanniest little personality and it is so awesome watching it develop as she gets older.  She is such a little girl now… and I am loving it! 🙂

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14 Months Old

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15 Months Old

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16 Months Old

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17 Months Old

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Today on her 18 months birthday 🙂

“Minna”: Thoughts from a Dummy Mummy

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Scarlett, for some unexplainable reason, calls her dummy a “minna”.  Don’t ask me why – I’ve never called it anything but a dummy!  For some reason, she has quite firmly decided that it is called a “minna”.

I never intended for my baby to have a dummy.  In fact, I used to hate them.  But Scarlett has always had a very strong need to suck.  When I weaned her from the breast at 6 months old, I quickly realised I was going to need something to replace my boob for times when she needed comfort, not food.  It made me realise how often she had been comfort sucking at my boob!

I did my research and I do know the risks of using a dummy – largly orthodonic risks.  In the reality of day to day life though, I just don’t know how we’d do without it.  As I have often discovered in my parenthood journey, intentions can often mean nothing if they are formed without accurate expectations and understanding of the situation you are creating intentions for.

Interestingly, the majority of the cot death research suggests that having a dummy DECREASES the chance of cot death.  Funny how the powers that be are so quick to promote things like breastfeeding and not smoking when they show a correlation with a lowered chance of cot death… and yet you don’t really hear about this other potential risk-lowering factor to nearly the same exent.

It’s not like I use the dummy as a substitute for mySELF, for my motherly love and presence.  But rather, if she is hurt or tired or needs comfort, she will feel more comforted sitting in my arms with her dummy, than she will sitting in my arms without her dummy.  It calms her, gives her that point of focus.  It reminds me of how I feel when I take that first sip of a much needed cup of tea – her whole body relaxes, the tension goes.

Will I have to go through some painful “removal” process at some point?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Have you ever met an 18 year old who still uses a dummy?  For now, as with most things in parenthood, I am just letting her have what she needs and going with the flow.  When she needs comfort, when she needs to be calm, when she asks for it – she has her “minna”.

I had this conversation with her the other day on the change table:

Scarlett: <holding her dummy and pointing to it> “Minna minna minna!”
Me: “It’s a DUMMY!”
Scarlett: “Itsa MINNA!” <shoves it in her mouth and glares at me>

I guess it’s a minna then! 😛

Family Christmas Trip 2012 – The Highlights

Seeing as we spent Christmas over here in Australia last year, we decided to make the trip to New Zealand for Christmas and New Years this year, to see my family (Scarlett’s grandma and aunties).  They hadn’t seen her since our trip over there when she was 6 months old, so they loved spending some time with her, and she loved it as well!  She got very spoilt for Christmas!

Seeing as there is no direct flight from Perth to Wellington, we decided to break the trip up a little and had two nights in Sydney on the way and two nights in Melbourne on the way back.  I’m really glad we decided to break the flights up like that (flying with a 16 month old can be challenging at best!), and it was really nice to get a quick little glimpse of two Aussie cities that I’m rather fond of.

The weather in Sydney and Melbourne was fantastic, and even Wellington turned on the sun and a bit of warmth for Christmas Day!  Daddy C and myself even got a couple of nights on the town in Wellington thanks to a grandma eager to babysit 🙂

Travelling with a toddler certainly isn’t the laidback beach-chillin that comes to mind when you think of the word “holiday”… but we had a really great two weeks together and it was a wonderful break away from everyday life to round off a really good year.

I decided to write this as a highlights post and pop up a photo from each day of our holiday… there will be individual posts for each day with many more photos to come 🙂

 

Saturday, 22 December – Flying to Sydney

dad and bubba at airport

 

Sunday, 23 December – Sunny Day In Sydney

babywearing at darling harbour

 

Monday, 24 December – Christmas Eve – Family Time in Wellington

bubba with aunties

 

Tuesday, 25 December – Christmas Day in Wellington

bubba at christmas table

 

Wednesday, 26 December – Boxing Day – Drawing

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Thursday, 27 December – Fun at Grandma’s

bubba riding big cat

Friday, 28 December – Grandma’s 52 Year Old Teddy Bear

bubba with grandma's teddy

Saturday, 29 December – “Cooking”

bubba pretending cooking

Sunday, 30 December – Hanging With Nana

bubba reading with nana

Monday, 31 December – New Year’s Eve – Family Day

family photo 16 months old

Tuesday, 1 January – New Year’s Day – Three Generations of Girls

three generations

Wednesday, 2 January – Flying to Melbourne

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Thursday, 3 January – Melbourne Hotel

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Can’t beat Melbourne on a good day!

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Friday, 4 January – Flying Home!

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{360/366:2012} Christmas Day

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Christmas Day is upon us!

And Santa didn’t disappoint!  By Santa, I do of course mean Grandma.  I saw a onesie in Target once that said “Who needs Santa when you have Grandma?”  I think that is pretty accurate!

Bubba enjoyed it much more than she did last year, when she was only 4 months old.  She helped rip the wrapping paper and enjoyed her presents, but it all got a bit overwhelming after a while.  We kept heaps of presents still wrapped to give to her over the next few days.

She really did enjoy the gifts she got though 🙂  Her favourites were: a pink hairbrush with her name on it from Mum, a fat cat toy from Dad (“awwww bidta!”… translation = “awww bedtime”… fat cat comes on TV in Australia at 730 pm when it’s time for girls and boys to go to bed), a Playmobil motorbike with a little man from Grandma, and a little handbag with a cat that sits in it, also from Grandma.

We had a fantastic Christmas roast lunch made by my mum, absolutely delicious!  We were so stuffed that we had dessert for dinner!  But what a dessert – chocolate and raspberry trifle – yummo!

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2512web-3This is Grandma’s stocking for Scarlett.  Yes, all for Scarlett.  She must have been very good this year.

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2512web-5With one of her favourite presents.

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2512web-7Bubbles!

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New shoes!  A gift from daycare.

2512web-11This Christmas stuff is exhausting!

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2512web-15Grandma’s delicious trifle!

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