Sunday, October 11, 2009

Moving on: from prams to bikes

We sold our triple pram this weekend - it was the Mountain Buggy 'Terrain' which sat the trio side-by-side, so it was wide as a truck!

It was used mainly for walks around the neighbourhood and down the bush track to Martins Lookout.

Occasionally, we would take it to a park but it would never be used for a shopping trip, simply because of its size which would work like an alarm that shouted to one and all that the triplets were here!

However, it had faithfully served its purpose without any problems and now having sold it, it feels like we are moving into a new phase of our life.

And it is true - we are moving on - as we recently bought some bicycles, the tribe are growing up quickly as they negotiate climbing onto the bike and career around the verandah, it won't be long before the stabiliser wheels need to be removed.

In fact, last week, we took the tribe to the Sydney International Regatta Centre at Penrith Lakes (the site for the Sydney Olympic rowing and whitewater competitions), which has a 5km cycle track circumnavigating the competition lake.

The tribe, namely Saffiya, Zak and Kaydin pumped their little legs as they rode around on their little 40cm (16") and 30cm (12") bikes, while Soraya enjoyed the view from her seat astride upon M's bike. In fact they all enjoyed the outing and were looking forward to doing it again.

PS - we do still have a couple of prams for sale.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Prams 'R' Us

We have three prams looking for new homes and new bubs and toddlers to travel around with - if you're in the Sydney/Blue Mountains area and are interested, contact me here in the comments or email: tim_grime at yahoo dot com dot au.

1) Triton "Trekker" Single 3-wheel Buggy - is constructed on a tubular steel frame and stainless steel axles, pre-treated with rust protection and electrostatic powder coated for long life. It's also equipped with sealed ball-bearing races for a smoother ride.

Features include: Safety wrist strap / 2-position padded-battened seat / five-point safety harness with padded chest plate / one touch braking / removable rear wheels / viewing window in top of canopy / removable hood / footrest / swivel lock on front wheel / pneumatic tyres. Also comes with additional toddler seat.

Specifications: 68cm wide / 95 cm wheelbase / 101cm handle height / Weight: 13kgs / navy fabric / pinotage (dark crimson) frame.

2) Adventure Buggy Company (ABC) Twin "Everest" 4-wheel Buggy - Every Adventure Buggy has been designed and handmade in New Zealand by Phil & Ted Green.

The Everest Double/Twin Buggy with Double/Twin Static Toddler Seat will accommodate two newborns and two toddlers or 4 siblings and is designed for ease of maneuverability, while providing maximum comfort to your young children. Total maximum weight capacity of Quad Buggy is 70kg.

Special Features : The Quad buggy fits through a standard doorway with ease. The front wheels have a swivel or locking position, allowing you to effortlessly maneuver on all terrains.

Easy Folding : The Everest buggy features a unique single-handed folding mechanism that makes it easy for adults to collapse the buggy in one simple fluid motion. The front and rear wheels and Static Toddler Seat are easily removed with a spring-button release.

Double Static Toddler Seat : Suitable for toddlers up to a maximum weight of 18kg per seat, suitable for 2-4 year old child. Double Static Toddler Seat can be easily removed from the Twin Buggy.

Accessories: Safety Bumper Bar / Removable Bac-Pak Parcel Tray / Leg Warmer with Snug Window / Sunmesh / Clear Raincover.

Twin Buggy Specifications : 74cm wide / 130cm length (front wheels on) / 110cm (front wheels off) / 25cm folded flat height / Weight: 15kg / navy fabric / silver frame.

Double Static Toddler Seat : 74cm wide / Weight: 7kg

Total maximum weight capacity of Quad Buggy is 70kg.

3) Mountain Buggy "Terrain" Triple Buggy - the only real option for three children. This side-by-side buggy allows you to put three children of mixed ages from newborn to 4 years old while retaining stability and maneuverability.

The independent seat adjusters allow you to set the seat angle differently for each child. The fixed front wheels ensures that the buggy runs true with one, two, or three children in the buggy and is superbly balanced to make turning easy.

It is suited for children from newborn babies to 4 year olds.

Features include: all terrain capability / fixed front wheels / fully individual reclining seats / pneumatic tyres with sealed bearings / easy one-step fold / large removable storage basket / removable sun canopy with window / lightweight aluminium frame and durable all-weather fabric.

Specifications : 99cm height / 105cm wide / 110cm length (folded) / 33cm folded flat height (wheels on) / Weight: 16kg / navy fabric / silver aluminium frame.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Yarrangobilly Caves

Another beautiful day with clear blue skies and the tribe is looking forward to visiting the Yarrangobilly Caves. The caves are situated off the Snowy Mountains Hwy between Talbingo and Kiandra, down a gravel road. The folks at the information centre are extremely helpful and offer great advice on what is good for families with young kids.

Of the many caves open to the public, we venture to the South Glory Caves, which is self-guided unlike others which require booking a tour with a guide. The cave entrance is a 400m walk from the car park near the information centre, along a bush track that overlooks the gully that heads towards the thermal pools.

As we enter the cave, the tribe need reassuring due to the impending darkness that it will be totally fine and fun. The strategically placed soft spot lights that line the concrete path through the caves offer just enough lighting – we call these ‘candles’ which makes it special for the tribe, as candles are magical!. The further we walk into the caves, tribe’s confidence grows with Kaydin marvelling the experience – to the extent that he said to Zak, who showed signs of discomfort, “it’s okay, I’m here”.

We enjoy the many features typical of caves – stalagmites, stalactites, shawls and pools – which the tribe marvel. This is an adventure for them as well as an opportunity for them to exclaim “Whoooooo!” hoping for an echo. After about twenty minutes we climb the stairs towards the exit – we know it’s the exit as it is marked so on the exit door (who’d had thought there be a door to the cave?).

Feeling hungry, we find a park bench next to the carpark where we feed ourselves – and what a wonderful place to snack as we are joined by a male lyrebird foraging in the grass just 20 metres from where we are seated. The tribe watches, intrigued by its long, decorative tail as it fossicks through the tufts of grass and dirt for food.

After it nourishes itself, the lyrebird, upon yours truly trying to get closer for ‘that great photo’ hurries back into the undergrowth, only to start making a variety of other bird calls, mimicking a handful of other local native birds – to the extent, I have no idea what the lyrebird call is.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The tribe's first time in the snow

Our drive to Mt Selwyn is in stark contrast to the one the previous evening in which we strained our eyes in the darkness to avoid potential roadkill; this time we enjoy the landscape of rolling hills, the snow gums, the alpine shrubs with leaves of purple and red. No animal danger this time – just a couple of foxes scampering into a depression about 50m to the left side of the road.

The features of the day we sold to the tribe were snow, toboggans and snowman building. As this is the first time the tribe would be experiencing snow, there was excitement laced with a hint of trepidation when they initially saw snow in patches by the roadside.

When we reach Mt Selwyn, we get dressed into our snow gear in the car. Saffiya and Soraya are first dressed and I take them to play in the snow beside the carpark. Once Zak was in his gear, I take the girls and Zak to the snow field area while M gets herself and Kaydin ready. We play a bit with the snow and snack on muesli bars as we wait for M and Kaydin to join us. However, Soraya needs the toilet, so we tramp to the Selwyn Centre.

Manic inside as it is the lunch hour – the buses in the carpark indicated masses of people and here they were, queues of hungry school kids filling the place, snaking from the cafeteria counter in the dim dark distance. I shepherd my three through the crowd to the toilets and find the largest cubicle.

No sooner than we enter than they all start to complain loudly about the smell:

“papa, it smells” . . . “it’s smelly papa”

Yes, it’s the men’s toilets, but that is not the actual reason for the pungency – the basis for the smell is that it's septic.

Undressing Soraya who was wearing a parka over her one-piece snow suit ensemble without completely undressing her and letting any part of the clothing touch the damp (wet from piss?) floor was a challenge. It required tucking the arms of the snow suit inside themselves, then rolling the upper body section neatly out of harm’s way (ie not in the path of pee) – and this all took time, so it’s lucky that she has some bladder control otherwise she could have added her souvenir to the floor, as well as her clothing.

Obviously, this being a fairly busy time, there are many using the toilets and so it goes that some of the many will be washing their hands and using the hand dryer – the electric one that sounds like a vacuum cleaner. And no sooner than this starts, Zak begins to cry because he vehemently dislikes the noise and is kind of scared of the hand dryer.

So, there I am dealing with Zak crying because of the hand dryer, the others complaining about the smell and trying the get Soraya on the toilet without soiling any of her clothes – oh, I’m just beginning to enjoy my holiday.

We escape the building after negotiating the same crowd of hollering schoolkids queuing for the cafeteria – it seems that the queue had moved very little in all that time. We go to meet M and Kaydin and find Kaydin having a freak out. M hadn’t been able to work out what was upsetting him, so I talk to him, but with his screams and tears, there’s not much conversation let alone any opportunity for Kaydin the express anything but the continuing distress.

I pick up Kaydin and carry him to the hire-centre so he can choose a toboggan and he starts to calm down between whimpers, tears still streaming. Inside the hire-centre, he begins to quieten and between my questions and his responses, we work out that he didn’t like the scarf wrapped around his neck, covering his mouth.

We hire two toboggans (green and red) with M and I taking turns riding with one of the tribe to give them a feel for the fun. They all really start to enjoy themselves; even Kaydin breaks a smile now.

Following each downhill ride we’d trundle up the slope – Saffiya and Soraya were in their element, both proving to be snow naturals. Zak would invariably trip himself in his usual clumsy way as he stumbled his way uphill whereas Kaydin would claim “I can’t”. [Gotta toughen these boys somehow!] After several rides down the toboggan run, Saffiya is bold enough to do a couple of solo rides – you go girl!

We take a break from the toboggans to make a snowman. What would considered to be a fun activity became a little dramatic as gloves fell off when trying to pick up snow, so the snow was too cold or too difficult to pick up – the major frustration being blamed on the gloves. Realistically, gloves are cumbersome for little hands, especially snow gloves with the extra layers of warmth and ‘water-proofing’ so frustrations should not have been such a surprise. We do manage to make the snowman, with a carrot for his nose, stones for eyes, mouth and buttons, sticks for arms and my beanie for a hat.

After the snowman building, we have a few more rides on the toboggan and then decide it is time to head home. As we head back to the car, toilet breaks are needed. Kaydin being the last to be toilet trained, the novelty of peeing in the snow entranced him – and allowed us the opportunity to teach: “don’t eat yellow snow!”. We change into dry clothes and pack away the wet gear – the tribes’ clothes under the snow gear were soaking, yet they never complained.

The drive home to the holiday cottage was fairly uneventful until the steep decline 10km from Talbingo when we hit a sudden and heavy hail shower, causing the car to skid on the ice covered road as we slow down to less than 20km/h. The roads were white, the hail noisy, waking the tribe and frightening them a bit. And just as suddenly it began, it abruptly ceased.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Sleeping Arrangements in Talbingo

Our holiday cottage in Talbingo has two bedrooms, the main with a queen-size bed and the larger second bedroom with a pair of triple bunks – a double below the single above.

The tribe are raptured with the sleeping arrangement on offer for the week. They climb about the bunks trying out each one – having some initial challenges with the ladder to the top bunk, slipping in their socks . . . ouch!

What is agreed is that each can have his/her own bed but the real question is who will sleep where and will everyone agree? Well it’s not that simple. Of course, three of the tribe would like to sleep in the top bunk but with only two top bunks, this means one has to rescind to accept a lower bunk or a couple will have to double up.

So, the first night solution is Saffiya and Soraya share one of the top bunks with the boys in their own double sized lower bunks. Hmmm, this lasted a little while with a restless Soraya climbing out of her bed a few times before finally settling down.

Over the course of the week, the only constant was Kaydin choosing to stay in his bed while the remaining three swapped places every night, so that Zak, Saffiya and Soraya all slept in the top and lower bunks, and had fun doing so too!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Roadtrip to the snow

We leave home around 7am, an hour later than planned – well, not really planned as much as anticipated which would be closer to the truth. Nothing goes to plan when we set a time to it, so it’s better to call it anticipation. It’s not that we fail to meet planned timings; with a family like ours, it can be a bit hit and miss.

Heading down the Hume Hwy we stop in Goulburn for a coffee and toilet break, or should than be a coffee refuel for maman et papa and a toilet stop for the tribe? Anyway, it became a play stop in the big park with the big trees and a big playground. In the park, we met "J", a five year old boy who was big for his age. Actually, big for his age is an understatement – he was big for his age in a similar proportion the Big Merino is to sheep that adorns the outskirts of Goulburn. Basically he was the size of a boy double his age – what’s in the waters here?

Heading south out of Goulburn, we pass by the Big Merino twice (to show the tribe) – first passing it on the road then we go around it through the carpark and then again on the road. Oh yes, it’s just an oversized sheep that’s 15 metres tall and the entrance to the gift shop is under its balls – just mind the dags (well not really, the entrance is to its side but imagine, if it were under its hind legs).

Canberra means lunch – in our language at least. Last time we were here several years ago on a weekend break visiting the museums and galleries, we found the place to be desolate and devoid of life. This time, we hit the main retail district at the lunch hour and spend a bit of time trying to find a park that isn't height restricted – the retail centre’s many carpark entries had a restriction of two metres and we were well over that with a luggage pod (cleverly disguised as a trendy, slick ski and snowboard pod) straddling the roof of our already tall four wheel tardis. Eventually we find an open-air carpark which suits us perfectly.

We hit the food court, followed by a brief amble through the complex in search of a supermarket to grab some provisions for our week’s break. Driving again, we find the streets are like that of our previous visit – sparsely populated and pretty much lifeless, as all life has been consumed by the many steel and glass edifices we pass. Such a stark contrast to Sydney’s Pitt St Mall or Melbourne’s Bourke St.

On our way out of town, we stop in Manuka to grab a coffee – plenty of cafes to choose, each as lifeless as the other at this time of day. And unbeknownst to us, we discover it be a mini Toorak or mini Double Bay – or should that be One-rak or Single Bay such is Manuka’s pretension to be grander than the sum of its soulless parts.

Along the Monaro Hwy to Cooma, we pass countless sleeping kangaroos by the roadside, each tagged with red paint – got us thinking that you sure do need protection when playing paintball skirmish. Actually, they were victims of the game ‘chicken’, or replicating that cliché of the car trying to outrun the train to the crossing and coming off the loser big time.

These sleeping kangaroos actually offer many passing drivers of a Kodak moment opportunity to replicate the works of Shaun Gladwell and his ‘Apology to Roadkill (1-6)’, but alas I don’t have leathers or a motorbike helmet packed in the car. While we didn’t stop to shoot a roo, we did however stop for the tribe to shoot into the wind.

Something that struck us on the road a short time out of Canberra was the prison (sorry ‘correctional facility’ . . . umm do they actually correct anything in these places?) – this must be the most secure prison in the country as in: to where would you escape? Canberra?

Ahhh, Cooma – closer to the snow, or at least they would like for you think so with the countless ski hire shops dotted along the road into town. It makes you feel you are actually in snow country – but where is the snow? Cooma is obviously delusional . No nearby hill looked like it had seen snow in quite a while – in fact it would be many more kilometres before we even see a glimpse of the white stuff. Yep, so after several hours on the road, the tribe is still wondering if this stuff really exists.

I visit a couple of these ski hire shops in the vain hope that they stock some second-hand kids gear at knock-off prices – why spend $$$ for a little kid who’ll outgrow the thing next week. Anyway, the folks in these establishments seem pleased as punch when I enter – you can see their thought bubble float above their heads (“oh goody, a customer . . . at last”) – and after a quick scan about the shop before I open my mouth, my replying thought bubble, like an arrow (“me, a customer, not really”) – evaporating their thought bubble in the process!

Our destination and holiday cottage is in Talbingo, a little town near Tumut over the other side of the Snowys and as we headed down the Snowy Mountains Hwy, we see glimpses of snow in the now fading light of the early evening, which cheers up the tribe no end – now they are excited.

Yes, snow is real!

We pass by Adaminaby but we don’t enter town to view the big trout. Along the winding narrow Snowy Mountains Hwy, no street lights, no moonlight and teaming with potential roadkill suicide targets, we see many roos, veer to miss scampering rabbits and startle three brumbies alongside our part of the road who literally appear from nowhere and disappear as quickly in the rearview .

Pity we were doing this drive in the fast fading light as we could see glimpses of the potential beauty of the scenery – patches of snow, the white dotting the landscape like a sprinkling of icing sugar on a dessert, interspersed among the clumps of snow gums and other alpine fauna.

We continue on our way to Talbingo, concentrating our watch in the hi-beam ahead to spot potential kamikaze wildlife as the darkness envelopes us.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Sleeping Arrangements (part 1)

After spending 35 snuggly weeks together inside M’s belly, the trio had their first separation, thanks to the surgeon’s hand and the C-section delivery, as they were placed into individual humidicribs.

Their first several days were spent inside a Perspex box – the humidicrib (aka incubator) rugged up tightly with nasal tubes to assist their feeding. They later migrated to open Perspex cots – still small in size and still in the NICU (neo-natal intensive care unit).

Strange that these open Perspex cot cum-beds remind me of a kitty-litter tray as there is nothing inviting about them. Sure they’re practical for the attending nurses who do an amazing job looking after all the pre-natal bubs, but the ‘cots’ hardly scream out “comfort”! The bubs will just have to wait until they get home before experiencing a nice invitingly comfy cot.

Somewhere around the 37-38 weeks mark, the trio was released and we could bring them home.

The initial sleeping arrangement in our small 3 bedroom house was for the trio to be placed together in the one cot, positioned across the mattress wrapped in their blankets, with the cot sharing our bedroom on M’s side of the bed.

During the day, we had a similar set-up in the lounge with their day-bed (or should that be day-cot) where they would nap between feeds in the muted daylight surrounded by the noises of the house – the conversations, the phone calls, the stereo, the TV, the snoring of a sleep deprived mum who seemed to be constantly breast-feeding the trio and the curious ramblings of Saffiya, their big sister developing her vocabulary at the worldly age of 16 months.

We thought of setting up the trio like sardines and arranging them head-to-foot, so that when the two to either side looked towards their sister or brother in between them, they would be greeted with blanketed feet – though decided this would not be good for sibling eye-contact or for relationship building.

Mind you, when they were in the womb, it wasn’t as if they were laid in some neat arrangement – from what we saw of the many ultrasounds, the two boys were side by side (vertically as possible as the womb would allow) while their sister lay across the top, so perhaps it would matter little how they lay in the cot they shared. But we stuck with all three lying in the same direction; it was easier this way anyway.

As they grew and started to move about in their sleep occasionally wriggling out of their snug blanket wrapping, we moved them into individual cots and for convenience, the only room to accommodate all three cots was our main bedroom.

This meant some changes:

  1. It would be the end of their day-cot in the lounge as it was needed in the bedroom;
  2. Daytimes would now be spent on floor play mats and bouncy-chairs;
  3. Daytime naps would now be in their bedrooms – we were slowly reclaiming the lounge room as they began to have longer sleeps; and
  4. We had to move to the spare room (formerly the study), which was a tight squeeze for a queen-size bed, plus the bookshelves that had no other place to go.
We then knew that the house was no longer big enough for all six of us, but, we stuck with this sleeping arrangement for several months while we looked for a new home.

Eight months after the birth of the trio, we moved to our new house.

Despite still being only a 3 bedroom home, the rooms were much larger and we didn’t have to share our room with bookshelves – handy as it was for late night reading. Also, it meant we had our own room and the tribe was evenly distributed in the other two bedrooms – the boys in one and girls in the other – a much better sleeping arrangement for all.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Gender Identity

A typical question family, friends and strangers will ask when you and your partner is expecting is whether you know the gender of the expectant bub - or simply, "do you know if it's a boy or girl?

For many, the surprise on the birth day is the best thing. For others, knowing the gender can help, in their minds, decide what they do with the nursery, and preparing clothes and toys. It's fine if you are a firm believer of the "boys should be blue and girls should be pink" school of thought. Also, if you are inclined in sending your child to a prestigious private school, then you would be able to register your (expectant) bub on the waiting list before birth - handy huh?

We wanted a surprise for our first born and while I, as future dad quietly wished for a boy (and don't the majority of first-time dads?), a beautiful and gorgeous healthy daughter was the new member of our family.

That was four years ago. Three years ago, last March, we had an ultrasound to confrim the prospective birth of not one, not two, but three bubs - at the same time. Over the ensuing weeks, we had verification that the likely combination would be two boys and one girl. While I don't entirely recall whether we asked to find out at the time, it certainly assisted us in identifying each in the womb at every ultrasound appointment.

However, what I'd like to discuss is the subject of gender identity as a toddler - the stage at which our trio are currently experiencing. It's a time when they are developing their expressions and language skills, beginning to understand each other and others through communication in play.

Dressing up is a very popular past-time with our tribe; Saffiya, the elder, has a handful of princess and fairy costumes, and both she and Soraya will quite often don these costumes, to be copied by Zak wanting to do likewise. Zak has also gone through a phase where he would insist on wearing one of sister's skirts (over his shorts).

Initially, as a dad, this was peculiar and I would attempt to discourage Zak and his dressing up ways - after all, how soon would it be before he got into borrowing his mum's make-up?.

In the end, I appreciated that this was all good in the growth and development of self-expression. Perhaps he is so metro-sexual or that he is in touch with his feminine side or he dreams of becoming a footy player and decided to prepare for Mad Monday celebrations.

But one thing I have to add is as a toddler, Zak has a wonderful sense of logic. Somewhere along the way, someone had told him that boys don't dress in princess or fairy costumes, only girls do. So now, he replies, "I'm a girl, I can dress up".

You think Zak is mixed up - not really. Ask him how different boys are to girls and he will simply explain the anatomical difference - he knows he is a boy.

Monday, April 20, 2009

4/20 photos

The 4/20 project (one photo per hour for 12 hours on April 20) developed from the TMO/Wild Vanilla forum - a forum for the fans and afficiandos of Kristin Hersh / Throwing Muses / FiftyFootWave - for reference and interest:

The following 12 photos took place on Monday 20 April, in and around our house in Springwood (Blue Mountains) and Penrith.

1. bleak morning outlook

2. last one at breakfast

3. getting ready for daycare

4. art in a box

5. Saffiya's pony tail collection

6. shopping centre carpark

7. fridge revolutionaries

8. tribal art

9. bottlebrush

10. rice and vegies for dinner

11. tribe's bedtime milk

12. relaxing coffee - tribe in bed