Our first family mini-break

This post is two weeks late but things have been a bit busy and this is the first chance I’m getting to update my blog. Two weeks ago we went to Dullstroom for the weekend with our good friends, the Maritz family. Dullstroom is a beautiful little town in Mpumalanga – the place is so tranquil that you just can’t help relaxing and with the busyness of the end of year we all needed a breather. In addition, Stef and Sophia are Cameron’s godparents and it was really great to have some time to just chill out with them and their kiddies, Daniella and Michael.

We spent a wonderful weekend with chilly evenings and beautiful days. On the Saturday we went trout fishing (unsuccessfully), explored the town and our surroundings and Sophs and I managed to fit in a massage (utter bliss). In the evenings we lit a fire around which we enjoyed great food and long chats. Relaxing as it was though, it was also a bit of an eye opener in terms of what travelling with a baby involves …

Firstly we played Tetris trying to fit everything into the car. Then we had to break our journey twice to give Cam a break (in the past we would have done a trip like that without any stops). On arrival we nobly attempted to stick to the routine and gave Cam his bath before putting him down. However between the chilly weather, new surroundings, long trip and bath in the basin we landed up with one seriously over-stimulated child and had a two hour crying marathon before he passed out. By the time the Maritz’s arrived we were looking pretty haggard and in need of a large glass of wine.

After a disturbed night of sleep (Cam was sleeping in our room and we’d forgotten just how noisy he is), we took a much more relaxed approach to Saturday. After a busy morning he fell asleep around 15:00 and didn’t wake until 20:00. We skipped his bath, gave him another feed and put him down. He went right back to sleep and only woke twice for further feeds. New rule – don’t bother with the routine for short trips!

Feeling refreshed and rejuvenated we headed home after a coffee stop in Dullstroom. On the trip there Cam had gotten cranky when he needed a feed but otherwise was okay (I landed up feeding him in the parking lot of the Belfast Spar – it should be noted that Belfast is incredibly dodgy and not an ideal spot to stop) . Since I’d fed him just before leaving our hope was that he’d sleep the whole way home. It started off well but then we had to stop for petrol and as soon as the car stopped Cam woke up. We then endured half an hour of Banshee Baby before the next garage. Twenty minutes from home he started up again, with the result that when we finally pulled into our complex Col and I were partially deaf and in need of another weekend away!

While travelling with a baby is more stressful, anything is hardest the first time and we know that the next time will be a bit easier. A bit of Banshee Baby is a small price to pay for family memories and we are looking forward to our next adventure already.

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Silent Night

One of the most shocking realisations that Colin and I have had as new parents is how few songs we know all the words to. When playing with Cameron, bathing him or putting him to bed, we’ll launch enthusiastically into a rendition of something only to fade dismally after the first verse. I’ve taken to looking up lyrics on Google and practising before my next performance (I’ve nearly got ‘Splish Splash’ nailed).
Another interesting realisation is how much our musical tendencies differ. Col favours 80’s classics and school war cries, whereas the camp-fire songs my dad taught me are my weapons of choice. What comes as no surprise is the fact that neither of us can carry a tune! Our attempts are off-key at best, reminiscent of a cat symphony at worst. But fortunately Cameron doesn’t seem to mind our warbling efforts – in fact it appears he rather likes them.
In a recent effort to expand my repertoire, of late I’ve started adding Christmas carols to the line up. Appropriately I’ve got no problem with ‘Away in a manager’ (although I’ve been wondering how accurate the line ‘But little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes’ really is). I still resort to humming for other favourites such as ‘The First Noel’ and ‘Silent Night’ but I’m working on it. Maybe by Christmas I won’t even need the carols sheet!

Mr Solemn

If we had to choose a Mr Men character to represent Cameron at the moment, I think we’d pick Mr Solemn. We have discovered that we have quite a pensive, contemplative little chap. A week ago Cameron started smiling socially and we thought smiles would now rain down aplenty but not so. Don’t get me wrong – he’s still smiling, but there is a limited window for it each day!

It appears that like his dad, Cameron is a morning person as he is at his most cheerful when he wakes up around 6:30. For a few minutes he’s Mr Happy and smiles abound but that seems to be it for the day. If you miss ‘The Grin Gap’ you can try as hard as you like to elicit a smile, but all you’ll get is a strange look and you can just tell he’s thinking, ‘My but my fellow humans are an odd breed.’

Col and I are starting to look increasingly ridiculous as we attempt to amuse our son outside of The Grin Gap. Dancing around the house, singing songs, pulling bizarre faces – none have the desired effect. However, the meditative look on Cam’s face as he contemplates our antics never fails to make us laugh so I suppose in some way we are succeeding in our quest!

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Cameron’s nursery completed

I know I’ve blogged about Cameron’s nursery before, but there were a few finishing touches that I needed to complete and since those are now done, I thought a more detailed post was in order. I love decorating, and this room is really one of my favourites in our house, so here’s some of the detail behind it for those who are interested.

This first collage starts off with a panorama view of the room. The sign on the door (bottom left) was part of the décor for my baby shower and has received a second lease on life here. The funky giraffe we found at the Irene Market in February and it was the first toy we bought for Cameron (I haven’t been able to find them there again, but to my utter delight, I’ve discovered that MyMunchkin stocks them). Then we have Horton! I was presented with him at my baby shower and truth be told, it’s really because of this gift that the theme for the nursery changed completely!

This collage is a tribute to Colin’s mom, who helped me so much with getting the nursery ready. It was she who found the giant Scrabble letters on a trip to Cape Town, which now form the centre of Cameron’s wall of fame. It was she who painstakingly painted the stripes along the wall after I had my first pre-term labour scare and was instructed to take things easy. And finally, it was she who gave me the mouse mobile, which has a history. When Colin was small, his mom used to tell him the story of Timmy Mouse, a little mouse who didn’t like to bath. However, one day he met a little girl mouse who wouldn’t play with him because he was just so dirty. That provided the incentive Timmy needed and from then on he was a lovely, clean little chap!

The words on the wall are my second favourite thing about this room (the first being the canvases, but more on those later). They are the first four lines to ‘Horton hears a who’, with appropriate changes to the first line (the original reads, ‘On the fifteenth of May’). When changing it to ‘On a day in September’ I wondered if I was tempting fate, but as Cameron was due towards the end of September I thought I’d be safe. And then of course he was born a month early! We contemplated crossing September out and adding August instead, but as Cameron only came home from the hospital on September second the wall was left unchanged. (For those interested, I projected the words onto the wall, traced them and then painted them.) In the middle of the top row there is a shot of Cameron’s library so far – my mom is a Grade 5 English teacher and passionate about reading. I doubt Cameron will ever be short of stories as she’s started a library at her house too! Then we have Cayden and Keeno, the dinosaur/dragon toys which remain as a relic to the original nursery theme (Knights and Dragons). And last, but by no means least, are the customised canvases that my most wonderful friend Lee made for me. They delight my heart every day and I hereby decree that they will always have a place in our home, no matter how old Cameron is!

I also found a really cute night light from MyMunchkin. I mentioned them before and they are a recent discovery for me. It’s a company formed by two moms who import really cool baby stuff that’s hard to find in SA. The light’s colours change (slowly, so no baby disco going on), and it has a continuous light function, as well as a tap on/tap off mode. And today I found an awesome clock, which has a definite Dr Seuss feel too it. But who knows when I’ll get a chance to put that up, so here goes this post without a photo of that!

They grow up so fast

Today I had to pack away all of Cameron’s newborn clothes.  It was an incredibly hard thing to do! It’s the end of the first phase we’ve had with him, and while I’m so grateful that he’s growing so well, there was a big part of my heart that cried a little over the fact that he’ll never be that small again.

While I was repacking his chest of drawers though, it occurred to me that God really does have a sense of humour. When I was in Grade 7 my parents bought me a Jack Russell. She was the runt of the litter and as a result remained a really small dog for her whole life. I used to joke that I had a puppy who never really grew up and her cuddly little frame was something that always delighted me. Fifteen years later my son is born a month early and I get an extra four weeks of the newborn phase, which while trying in some ways, thrilled that part of me that cherishes small things.

So while today’s milestone made me sad in a small way, I’m excited for the next phase with Cameron. And as further consolation, I have a whole host of new outfits to dress him in, including this cute little Dr Seuss baby grow I found at Woolworths a few weeks back! (Amazing that I decorate Cam’s nursery with a Dr Seuss theme and suddenly it’s everywhere in the shops too. Further evidence of that heavenly humour me thinks!)