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Saturday, May 02, 2009
Jack and his Cousin Hayley - who get along really well.
I stayed at my parents last night - so that I could go out hunting with
my Father and Uncle this morning. It was the last opportunity I would
get this Duck Season. As I prepared to head off yesterday afternoon Jack
got very upset and strongly insisted on coming too.
He had come along with me the last time I had gone home - a trip that
went well. This time we had planned on leaving Al with both Jack and
Grace, but it was difficult for me to get out of the house with Jack
wrapped around my legs crying. Uncommonly I capitulated, and after
hastily packing a bag, allow Jack to come.
The trip went well. Jack had a good morning with Grandma C while I was
out, and then got to play with his Cousins Hayley, Larrisa and Jackson
in the afternoon, something he really enjoyed.
Posted by Doug at 11:34 PM
Sunday, May 03, 2009
Jack and Al playing tonight
Posted by Doug at 8:38 PM
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Jack went over 3 weeks with only a single toilet accident, which was
such a phenomenal change. We have been really proud of the change (and
Unfortunately on Monday he deliberately wet himself so that he did not
have to stop doing what he was doing. On Tuesday he wet himself twice at
Childcare – again so that he didn’t have to stop playing. Today he just
wet himself again – this time as he did not want to stop gardening. It
has been so disappointing.
These were not accidents – several times he was showing the signs of
needing to go, but flat out denied it when asked. Afterwards he freely
volunteered the reasons why he did it. Basically there is not a great
deal we can do about it. The moment he wanted to try, he has been really
successful. The decision here is Jacks, and his alone.
Today Jack wasn’t happy with the consequences of his decision. He had
hoped to be able to play in the garden longer by wetting his pants.
Instead the moment Al noticed he was hauled inside, changed, and then
not allowed back out to play. We also reinforced the fact that if he had
told us, he would have gone to the toilet, and then returned to playing
in the garden. That would have been a much better outcome. I think that
is about all we can do – ensure his decisions to soil himself end up in
a more negative outcome than having just gone to the toilet.
Posted by Doug at 1:16 PM
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Jack stopped deliberately wetting himself as quickly as he begun. The
negative consequences seemed to work, and he hasn’t done it since.
Lately we have been discussing and mulling over money more than usual.
The global financial crisis has impacted both of our employers and seen
salary freezes, enforced down days and retrenchments. It adds a level of
uncertainty which has seen us review our contingencies and made us more
cautious. The last Federal budget was a real concern for us – the sum of
the discussed options could have cost us over $1,000 a month (primarily
around childcare rebates). While it all turned out to be pretty much a
non-event, it is apparent it will likely be hit before we have both
children out of care. Last of all we have again been reviewing the
schooling options for Jack.
To our shock both private schools we put Jack’s name down for have
increased their fees by more than 10% a year since – and in some year
levels the cost is %70 more than when we first enquired. It will now
cost well over $500,000 to put both children through either school, and
that is before increases over the next 15 years. The heavy sacrifices
and risk we couldn’t actually afford it by the end of their schooling
mean we have had to discount both as options.
We have had to review (and visit) schools much further away, but who
have much lower fees. Their fee structures however have been less
inclusive, and travel costs significant. One school cost a bit over
$4,000 a year – but when all the extras and bus fees were included its
true costs were over $9,000. Add some $2,500 in enrolment fees and
levies, and suddenly the extra amenities and programs don’t seem to
warrant the costs over a good public school.
We haven’t discounted the private option – but with an outlay of over
$300,000 for two children to attend even a 3rd tier private school, it
is much harder to justify.
In our current area public schools are zoned. Our local primary school
is ok, but very large. We are concerned about Jack’s resilience and
social coping skills – and the likelihood that he will have trouble with
bullying. (He makes himself such a painfully obvious target for it.) We
had hoped a more attentive private school might lower that risk – but
with that option looking more doubtful we have returned to scrutinising
the other schools in the area. One or two are smaller and have better
reputations – and are not averse to taking students outside of their
zones. That is what we are currently investigating.
If we can get him into a good primary school, then maybe we could review
and look at private schools at the high school level.
Posted by Doug at 11:53 AM
In line with the money topic, our grocery bills have sky rocketed over
the last few months. With Al not being in the office, Grace’s
voluminous nappy requirements, and ever increasing prices, the monthly
spend is really hurting our budget.
For quite a while now we have used shopping lists, so we don’t tend to
have too many impulse purchases. We also take note of sale items, and
have stopped buying some of the most expensive treats. For the last
month however I have been tackling our brand snobbery, and we have been
testing out some of the cheaper alternatives. The results have been
We are using a different brand of nappies now – 25% cheaper, and almost
as good as the old brand. We have been trying plain brand tinned fruit –
still made in Australia, just as good as the old brand, but at half the
cost. We have tried cheaper herbal tea brands – of which Al hasn’t been
able to tell the difference, which are again half the price. Instead of
buying fruit and jelly cups for Jack, Al is making up Jelly at a
fraction of the cost. We are saving 15% or more off every basket of
groceries, without much of an effort, and without really feeling as if
we are missing out on anything.
The only area I am struggling to find cheaper alternatives for are the
myriad of healthy (but expensive) snacks Al and Jack eat, which I might
need to search further afield for.
I think both of us have been a little shocked at just how much we have
been overpaying for some items. I think what has happened over time is
that the quality of some of these premium brands has fallen away
(something I have lamented in the past), so that it is now much easier
to switch. There are certainly areas and items which are worth spending
the extra on, but we will continue trying alternatives.
Posted by Doug at 4:23 PM
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Grace is now 11.5 weeks old. Many second time
parents tell me that the first 12 weeks are the hardest, so it is good
to know we are now nearly through that period.
On the whole things are slowly getting easier.
Once the pediatric chiropractor identified and corrected Grace’s
arm/shoulder issue, she has been overall calmer.
I did spend a few weeks trying to put her in the
cot and just pat to settle her – then only pick her up every 4th or 5th
time I had to go back into the room (which was every few minutes). That
however was stressing us all out - having her cry for up to 2 hours at a
time for some day sleeps. So I have gone back to rocking her to sleep,
and if she wakes up (as she often does immediately or within a few
minutes of being put in the cot), if a quick pat doesn't put her to
sleep, I pick her up and rock her back to sleep. (And if that doesn’t
work within 5-10 minutes, I let her stay up if she is calm.)
Posted by Al at 8:01 AM
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Grace turns 12 weeks old tomorrow.
We have settled into somewhat of a pattern.
Grace wakes up between 6 and 8 in the morning. She normally starts the
day with a good, cheerful awake period. Al generally gets a shower in
while Grace sits in her rocker, watching, talking to herself, or sucking
on her hands.
She generally fights sleep all day and through to around 9pm at night.
Most times the process of simply holding her horizontally in your arms
is enough to trigger a screaming fit. Once she falls asleep Al then
transfers her to her bassinet. Commonly she will wake up screaming soon
after, so Al resettles her and puts her down again several times over.
On average she will get one good sleep of between 90 minutes and 2 hours
a day, plus a couple more of between 30 and 45 minutes. She will also
get one or two good sleeps in Al’s arms.
This is about the same success rate we were getting by using the put
down and leave crying method, but with much less stress for all
concerned. After 6pm she will rarely go down for any length of time, so
Al will often end up with her in her arms until after 9pm. Al will then
put her in her bassinet, and she will sleep through until the following
morning with either one or two feeds.
We can leave her in her rocker, on a rug on the floor, or on an activity
mat for short periods of time. She generally prefers having someone
sitting next to her, but if she can see her mum, or has recently woken
up from a good sleep, she might not kick up a fuss for 20 minutes.
Similarly she might sit in a lap watching TV for 20 minutes at a time.
She has just started to grasp her or our clothes, and to suck on her
fingers or fists. She isn’t keen on being on her stomach as yet, and
possibly in that regard isn’t as advanced as Jack was at the same time.
On the other hand she really concentrates on her vocalisations. You can
“talk” to her – making a Goo noise or the like, and she will repeat it
back to you – same with poking out your tongue. She will also express
her displeasure about things in a comical complaining whining noise as
you solemnly agree with her.
Grace is still pretty full on when transitioning to sleep, asking for a
nappy change, asking for food, asking to be up over your shoulder,
asking to go to mum (and no one else) and so on. These are louder and
more difficult to deal with the later the day goes.
Because these settling times are so loud and require such concentration
from Al, we are still not going out too much as a family. Al is however
regularly taking just Grace out to appointments. Without having to worry
about Jack or me, and walking Grace outside for periods if need be, she
has managed to attend or complete everything she has gone out for.
Al still struggles with tiredness by the end of some days, and can get a
little worked up by over stressing about situations – but we are now
probably coping around 95% of the time. While the last 5% can get rather
unpleasant, it could be far worse.
Posted by Doug at 7:57 PM
Sunday, May 31, 2009
Grace (lacking colour coordination) in her rocker.
Studio photo from earlier this year - with his favourite bear
Studio photo from earlier this year
Posted by Doug at 3:52 PM