Sunday, June 21, 2015


171/365

Sniffles

Our home is warm. The shutters and blinds are drawn just before the sun dips low in the sky to maintain the heat in our bedrooms and the upstairs lounge. Garlicky pumpkin and potato soup bubbles away on the stove top whilst Byron plays with Love in her new playpen. She seems content to sit in his lap as he turns pages of her books.

Every few minutes or so I stride across the room, wielding a soft tissue to dab at her tiny nose. No wonder she was restless last night. I didn't sleep a wink either, some kind of evolutionary keen mama hearing prevented me from relaxing as I watched over the rise and fall of her body's outline in the darkness.


Despite the nasty cold, she's still as sweet as usual. I hope it passes soon.

Get well soon, baby girl.

xx

25/52 Typically Red Pixie Hat


Oh how adorable our little Love looks with her soft chocolate locks poking out from beneath her new deep red pixie hat. Many thanks to the lovely Greer Worsley for hand knitting this beautiful woollen hat in time for our chilly wintry beach walk and also to Jodi Wilson for hosting the Typically Red giveaway on her blog, Practising Simplicity. Don't you just love the colour? I've posted more photos here.

Oceans of love,

Bella xx

Saturday, June 20, 2015

We Have a Climber : Baby-Proofing the Home

When I was a young girl, my mother took me to see the circus when it came to town. I recall driving passed as they were setting up the big top and my mother telling me that the animals and trapeze artists were here to perform a stupendous show. It was a travelling circus and we lived in a small seaside town so it was a popular event to attend. Tickets cost more than a movie admission or entry to the annual town show, so it was considered a treat.

On the afternoon of the show, my mother dressed me for the occasion. I cannot recall the clothing she chose but I do remember that there were several outfits reserved for special occasions and it was one of those. Excitement gradually bubbled up from deep within my belly as the giant red and white tent came into view through my backseat car window. The suspense caused my heart to pound as we circled the temporary carpark on the grassy reserve.

After climbing out of the car, I remember holding my mother's hand as she led me through the crowd towards the main entrance. I recall seeing some other kids from school with their families, the setting sun, some food stalls, some elephants secured to metal pickets with ankle collars and heavy chains near large semi-trailers and lions pacing, heads lowered behind thick cages. Up ahead we could see the ticket booth and a long queue. I also recall seeing smaller cages with people crammed inside, screaming as they shook handwritten posters stating something about wild animals belonging in the wild, not in cages.

Those people seemed sad and angry. I remember asking my mother what they were doing and her shushing me, and hurrying me along in front of her, grasping my hand a little too tightly for my comfort. She told me not to look at those people.

Of course, being told not to look at those angry, sad faces made me curious and so I stared at them in bewilderment as my mother half-carried me, half-dragged me inside the humongous tent.

When the lights dimmed and a single spotlight shone down on the Ringmaster as he announced the various acts, I continued to hold onto her hand. At the intermission, I met up with a girl from my grade in school. We played around under the elevated seats, racing between the metal bars, giggling hysterically. At one point my mother found me and scolded me for missing the show which she had paid 'good money' for us to see. We returned to our seats for the next acts. Lions leaped through hoops, elephants balanced on blocks of wood, which teetered on metal cylinders. A small boy, probably about my age made three failed attempts at a double backflip in the air, missing the catcher's waiting arms on the trapeze. Each time he fell gracefully to the net and climbed the ladder to the top of trapeze platform to a rolling drumbeat. I recall thinking that I would like to fly on the trapeze, to juggle five shiny swords at once and to breathe fire.

More animal acts followed and as the crowd gasped and cheered with the baby elephant as it ran about the ring, being chased by a man with a whip I recall feeling pity for the scared little animal.

That was the first time in my life that I remember feeling like what was happening to that elephant in front of me was wrong.

It would be another year or two before I would understand what those people in their makeshift cages were doing. They were protesting for the rights of those poor circus animals. Wild animals belonged in the wild, not in cages.

+++


170/365

It starts innocently enough. She simply pulls her tiny body into a standing position, using the louvres as rungs on a ladder...


The giveaway is her bubbly big toe. Such a beautiful, flexible big toe rising...


Next, she splays out her tiny toes, like the limbs of a sugar glider as it takes flight.


Before I've had time to react, she has started to climb. Nowhere is safe. Time to baby-proof this house.

We've turned a corner. More specifically, Love has rounded that corner at top crawling speed. It seems like only a week ago that she began to drag her tiny body by first crossing her arms out in front of her, grasping her blanket and pulling her body until her shoulders were above her elbows, occasionally using her tiny toes to propel herself forward; the creeper. I managed to capture that first crawl with a time-lapse movie on my iPhone, which you can see here on my instagram @seaandsalt.

She then progressed to the wounded solider, the same movement but dragging one leg behind her. From this position, she discovered she could balance on both her palms and her knees, with her body parallel to the floor. Soon she began to rock until she figured out that she could get around on her hands and knees and so she swaps between the wounded solider and the criss-cross crawl. You know the one, where she moves the opposite knee and hand in unison. No sooner had she mastered the crawl then she was across the room in a flash. She's stealthy too, a little quiet blur that can cover more ground than any normal human. She's a curious, fast baby crawling blur.

She can pull herself up too. She's not quite standing unaided but she'll use anything, anything to assist herself to the standing position. Shutters, the dehumidifier, the cat, Papa's face (by grasping his nose and hair), the free-standing butcher's block in the kitchen (with the sharp metal edges), the clean, unfolded mound of washing in the basket... Here I was thinking that she would progress to her first steps in a month or two but she did that at the same time! Stepping by steadying herself on her cot rail, or the lounge.

No, no. This girl won't settle for walking. She needs to climb.

And so at ten months we reluctantly purchased a baby barrier, a playpen, an enclosure. I was against it at first, I felt guilt-ridden on the way to inspect it. I ended up sitting in the backseat of the car to breastfeed baby Love in the warm winter sunshine as Byron carried the brightly coloured wooden structure back to the car. On the way home I bit at my fingernail as I watched her sleep peacefully. She's not meant to be in a cage, I thought to myself.

'Are we doing the right thing? I mean, I don't want to become complacent and place her in her playpen whenever I need to hang the washing or cook dinner or fold the washing' I said to Byron.
'You won't', he soothed me. 'It's just to protect her when you need to be away from her for a short time.'

He assembled the six rail sections on the kitchen floor. Initially, Love played on her blankets as the midday sun filtered through the windows but her interest in what we were doing peaked as he started to screw the rail brackets in place. Our little super-baby came scampering across the floor, narrowly missing the corner of the bulky butcher's block leg in her haste. All six sides were slotted together to form a large hexagon. Both of us, her parents, were seated inside as our baby began to climb the blue rail from the outside. I laughed at the irony of two parents seated inside a playpen as the baby tried to scale one edge to climb in, shouldn't it be the other way around?

As expected, Love tried to assist with the screwdriver. She's a helpful girl. Then she tried to chew it. She's also teething.

When it was securely fitted together, we carried the tri-coloured hexagon across the room and lowered it over her blankets. Byron then lowered her inside and she sat inside happily playing with her cardboard books, oblivious to the fact that she was, for want of a better word, contained.

My guilt washed away when I realised that she was happy to do her own thing anyway. Byron then lowered Coco dog into the playpen (is that some kind of dog rite-of-passage?) and she sat on the border of one of the corners, facing the baby with a concerned expression, possibly hoping to be rescued by me.

After Byron left for work and I had successfully, without interruption scrubbed the kitchen, cooked our lunch and dinner, unloaded the dishwasher and sung to Love every nursery rhyme that has miraculously been stored in the darkest holes in my mind (where was this amazing memory ability when I had my statistics exams?), I climbed in to join her. Sure, I watched her as I moved about the kitchen but she didn't seem to mind being in her playpen and so my body language didn't betray my fearful thoughts that I might be treating her like a wild animal broken by circus cages.

We sat together, her preoccupied with her toys, turning to show me what she was holding from time to time with a serious 'Oh' or 'Ooo' sound. I kissed her head, talked to her, read her stories and folded the washing from inside the playpen.

I may never take her to the circus but we will take her to see animals in the wild and in rehabilitation programs, beginning with the wild orang-utans of Borneo next month.

We will teach her that animals belong in their natural habitat, that those habitats should be protected and that our environment is worth more than any temporary financial gain.

We will also continue to baby-proof our home in the safest ways possible to keep her out of harms way.

Do you have any handy baby-proofing or child-proofing ideas? Any money-wise, thrifty tips to keep your little ones out of harm?

Please share in the comments. I'd love to hear what works best.

Bella xx

Friday, June 19, 2015


169/365

Love's beautiful pixie hat arrived yesterday afternoon. It was a little tricky to take her photograph with the pixie hat on her little head without her trying to pull it off... That was until she had a FaceTime conversation with her Australian grandmother (who I overhead telling Love that she looked like a gumnut baby).

Oh how adorable our little Love looks with her scrunched up smile and pointed elf hat. Many thanks to the lovely Greer Worsley for hand knitting this beautiful woollen hat in time for our chilly wintry beach walk and also to Jodi Wilson for hosting the Typically Red giveaway on her blog, Practising Simplicity.

I want to give thanks to these ladies, including Katherine, an old friend of mine, for sharing their love of homemade, hand stitched clothing. Katherine writes a few blogs, most notably, Lamb Loves Fox however, she also writes Crochetlatte, which is where I found her pattern for a beginner's crocheted baby bonnet. I am currently stitching my first crochet project for my friend's newborn baby boy with Katherine's easy pattern and am thrilled to see this garment come together between my clumsy fingers, in-between breastfeeding and my other typical mama duties.

My next projects will be a bonnet for Love, a pale olive jacket (eek!) and hopefully Susie the Reindeer (if I haven't gone mad). x

Monday, May 25, 2015

Cotton Wool


The past few weeks have been difficult.

Emotionally, I feel as though I have had the weight of another's painful experience bring sorrow into my own personal life. Physically, I feel drained of energy, strength and feel a sense of hopelessness at times. One morning I was standing in front of the sink as hot water poured into a mixing bowl, faint steam scrolls floating upwards, my thoughts distant when Byron's voice stirred me. He had been talking and I drifted away somehow, rudely, forgetting that we were having a discussion when he repeated himself and I realised he was doing that to regain my attention. One moment I was listening to him, the next moment I was somewhere else, somewhere hazy when his words came back into focus.

I've been doing that a little bit too often lately. I try to pay closer attention but sometimes I slip away into that haze again, lost for some undetermined amount of time. When I come back, I try to stay, like blinking and forcing your eyes open when you feel tired. It's not very effective. When you're that tired, you generally need to rest and I find the mind needs a break from distracting thoughts as much as a weary body needs sleep.

The cause of these frequent distractions has been thinking about a friend of mine from my university days who recently lost her partner. Writing these words still shocks me that this tragic event did happen. It causes me to wonder what if I suddenly lost my husband or daughter? How could I cope with such a loss? How could one possibly recover from such a life-altering and heart-shattering experience? It pains me to think about it.

I cannot separate my feelings of fear and anger from my feelings of anguish and despair. I am at my very core, an empathetic creature and always have been. I relate to others and share in their feelings at various moments. I cried with joy at learning my friend was pregnant at the same time as me; I felt excitement at learning the same friend delivered a healthy baby girl via an unassisted water birth and I felt elation when watching my husband's proud reaction as he observed our daughter crawl for the first time.

Witnessing a friend bury her best friend, the father of her children moves me to unimaginable grief, quiet self-contemplation, sadness and unpredicted feelings of guilt that my family is still together when hers has been ripped apart by the cruelest twist of fate.

I want to possess the gift of time travel so that I may go back in time to change what has transpired. I wish for these circumstances to be reversed. I hope and pray that I can find enough strength to be a strong, supportive friend to her in her time of need.

But more than this, I find myself mentally wrapping my loved ones in cotton wool at every opportunity. I cannot sleep until my husband comes home late from work after a night shift. I see every piece of furniture in my house as a potential threat to my daughter as she becomes more mobile. I smooth multiple layers of blankets on the floor to provide a soft crawling area, I remove sharp corners and heavy objects wherever possible. I hover close by incase she tumbles and I pile cushions and plush toys around her to prevent nasty bumps should she slip or roll suddenly.

These things can and probably will happen. I dread the thought of her one day, years from now, coming to tell me she has saved enough money to backpack through Europe or India or South America for a gap year- She's only nine months old...

To feel pain, loss, wonder... Is to feel human, to feel alive and although I understand this, I now realise that becoming a parent is more than being a tiny human's mama. It's about learning to live more carefully and letting go of fear, as difficult and distressing as that may sound.

I took Love's photograph at our friend's funeral last Monday. Looking at the joy in her expression, the pure, naive and genuine happiness of her youthful eyes seeing the World's beauty in a stem of fresh white flowers moves me. Yet, I cannot help but notice that at the same time, my husband protectively holds her close, inhaling her baby scent as he kisses the crown of her tiny warm head.

Can you relate to these feelings of anxiety? Maybe we need to take a few deep breaths in through the nose and slowly exhale the negative, heaviness as we say, 'Let go'.



Sunday, May 10, 2015


130/365

My first Mother's Day

You made me a mama, darling girl...

I never considered celebrating Mother's Day as a mother myself. I hoped for a family of course. Today I give thanks for my family, my husband and daughter, without whom I would be a lonely girl in the big city.
Today my family is my life force, giving me strength, courage and more love than I could have ever imagined possible as a lost, wandering soul.
To all my female friends, whether you are planning a family, trying to conceive, pregnant with your first, adding to your beautiful brood, mother to growing children, grand children, great grand children... May you be surrounded by love.

Happy Mother's Day xxx

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