Posted by: dave | January 16, 2016

Vanuatu

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Is very pretty

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Posted by: dave | December 20, 2015

Anya’s parliament of bugs

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She collected a bunch of cicada shells at the park today. Add some Christmas Beetles, a dead cicada and a few other bugs and you have a full auditorium. “It’s a concert,” she said. “This one,” pointing to the jewel-like green cicada, “is the mummy, and this one is the daddy.”

The daddy was a large but yucky dry brown cicada shell. I’m trying not to feel hard done by.

Posted by: dave | October 11, 2015

“We made a world!”

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Anya has been busy this morning doing chalk drawings — a rainbow snail, houses, roads, cars, a playground, a whale. On finishing she declared, “Look, we made a world!”

Posted by: dave | August 27, 2015

Great Snakes, Otis!

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He was mucking about with some liquid soap today and managed to get it in his hair. As every punk knows, soap is the best hair stiffener. So he’s rocking a Tintin look tonight.

Posted by: dave | April 25, 2015

Wild weather

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The weather in Sydney this last week has been insane. This city gets thunderstorms like nothing I’ve seen in England, but even relative to that standard it’s been extreme.

From the early hours of Monday morning to the middle of Wednesday about 25cm of rain fell on the city centre. In a town a few hours to the north, flash flooding lifted a house off its foundation and sent it sailing down the street. The photo at the top doesn’t look like much but it was the first blue sky I had seen in days.

There were also winds gusting to more than 100kmh which blew over a bunch of trees, including this one on our street:

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On the plus side, we were rewarded with some gorgeous sunsets on Thursday and Friday:

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Then today the craziest thing happened. I’ve seen hail before, but this was something else — a 20 minute intense hailstorm that dropped the temperature from 25C to 13C and left the place looking like a blizzard hit:

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Here’s how it piled up on our deck:

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Here’s what it did to our frangipani:

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People in the neighbourhood made snowmen and a makeshift sledge out of an old bit of board. Walking down the street at dusk in search of snowmen with her friends Winda and Balun, Anya whispered to me: “Daddy, this is the BEST ADVENTURE I’VE EVER BEEN ON!”

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Posted by: dave | April 14, 2015

A few words about Otis

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Otis has been relatively slow to speak compared with Anya.

They seem to have different learning styles: I’d almost characterise her as deductive, moving forward in gradual steps, and him as inductive, gathering information more slowly from a range of sources before reaching the same place in one big leap.

He’s going through that leap at the moment, and so while he’s probably got a smaller repertoire of words than Anya did at this age it’s growing fast.

Mami: His first word of course, which he’s been using for a while now. When in distress he chants it like he’s telling a rosary: “Ma-mi, Ma-mee, Ma-MEE, Ma-mi.”

Dada: I have a very dear memory of going in early one morning — Otis tends to wake up not long after 5am at present — and picking him out of his cot to lie down with him on the sofabed in his room. I lay back, woozily cuddling him on my chest. He recovered a bit from his usual waking-up distress, spread out his arms to pat my shoulders, and softly mumbled “Dada. Dada” into the darkness.

Nina: Just to prick any over-the-top notions of parental importance, his third word was “Nina” — one of the teachers at his daycare centre.

Car: This is a tricky one. He says it a lot when trotting down the street and pointing to cars so we naturally thought it meant “car” (toddler protocol in these situations is to say “car”, then go up close and see if you can blacken your fingers sticking them through the hubcaps). But he also uses it for trucks, buses, toy trucks, scooters, and bicycles. So clearly, we thought, it means “wheeled vehicle”.

But then we noticed how, in our nearest playground, he would set out quite deliberately through the park to stand in awe next to a house and point up to the external air-conditioning unit turbine on the first floor, proclaiming “car”. So I think the meaning encompasses circular objects generally, or at least all of those that make engine-like noises.

Caa: A cat. To the untrained ear almost indistinguishable from “car” (qv.) but I think I’ve exhausted the conceptual flexibility of that word.

Bee-Beep: He loves “The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round”, and whenever we sing the verse about how the horn on the bus goes, he says this.

Shh: This is what the Mummies on the Bus say to the Babies on the Bus (who go Waaah Waaah Waaah). He does understand the concept, and always accompanies it with the finger-to-the-lips gesture. This is useful when I’m trying to smuggle him downstairs for breakfast in the wee hours without waking Anya: one “Shh” and his 18-month-old babbling lapses to expectant silence.

Baidah: I may have mentioned before that he loves spiders. This gets said a lot as he’s exploring the garden. Emphasis on the second syllable: “Bai-dah. Bai-DAH.”

Posted by: dave | April 10, 2015

Selfies

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So a while ago I left my phone on the bed with Anya and the camera set to selfie mode. When I got it back five minutes later there was a whole showreel on it.

I think we can conclude she likes doing silly faces:
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I mean, she really, really likes doing silly faces:

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Pretty much all the time:

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I can’t think where she gets this from.

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Posted by: dave | April 10, 2015

Water baby

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Of course (as we keep correcting ourselves) he’s not a baby, he’s a toddler.

But anyway he’s completely obsessed with water. Anya has always been a bit wary of the stuff, and while she’s getting better at swimming she still avoids the sea for fear she might step on weed. Otis, on the other hand, would happily spend all morning at the water park and all afternoon playing in the bath.

Running water is a particular obsession. He spends a significant proportion of his day at the moment like this:

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Or alternatively naked in the bath, putting the plug in and out of the plughole while a thin stream of water runs.

The photo at the top was taken in Brisbane where we stayed with Kate’s mum Hilary for Easter. Anya commandeered me to do playground games with her, so having spotted a water tap, I left Otis with Hilary and let him get on with it. Once he discovered a drinking fountain on the same pipe it was inevitable he would end up saturated.

Hilary has lovely video of him squealing and giggling as he’s drenched. If you think he looks less than delighted in the photo, it’s because be the time I came up he’d been soaking himself for about 15 minutes and was completely exhausted from the fun.

Posted by: dave | April 5, 2015

Otis’s morning constitutional

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Otis loves a walk. After I fed him his breakfast this morning he toddled off, got Kate’s strappy sandals, and started trying to fit them to my feet. This is a pretty common signal from him: often he’ll go off and bring you his shoes, like a dog with its leash in its mouth.
So we set off on what turned into a one-kilometre walk from Kuia’s house to a nearby swollen creek which provided him a chance to explore his other obsession: running water. He pushed a battered kids’ play stroller with his favourite sheepie strapped in, doing that slap-footed walk that toddlers do. I’m a morning person only by necessity, after having kids; but it’s still very peaceful walking through the dewspangled grass and pausing for him to explore a flower, or some grass, or droplets of water beading under a guardrail.

Posted by: dave | March 27, 2015

Leaf-curling spiders!

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Otis is obsessed with them! They’re a species common in suburban Sydney gardens with a very distinctive signature: once their web is spun, they haul a leaf into its centre and twine gossamer around it tighter and tighter, till it curls into a little burrow in which they can hide.

Otis is at that age where he really wants to get out and explore in the mornings. It must be a wonderful time when you’re relatively newly mobile and able to discover all sorts of new things. We make sure the front gate is latched and let him explore to his heart’s content.

One of his favourite activities, illustrated above, is pointing out leaf-curling spiders. He wants us to see them; and I think he’s a little unsettled by them. It’s not because he’s scared of spiders, I think. Sometimes, I grab a twig and poke the centre of the web: he watches quite calmly as a bundle of legs is pushed tentatively out for a moment, then withdrawn with a shy twitch.

I think what captivates him is the uncanny appearance of the nests, the way the leaves hang motionless in mid-air, supported by their imperceptible threads. It must seem extraordinary to a child who hasn’t yet discovered how strong invisible things can be.

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