Sunday, 13 April 2014

Blah

Sorry about the lack of post yesterday - I think I had a touch of food poisoning or something over the weekend, have been feeling pretty unwell and REALLY tired since Saturday evening.

In lieu of proper post, have a couple of quick snapshots I took in the last couple of weeks - a very good friend was recently scandalised by my revelation that I didn't really know anything about the manual settings of my camera, and gave me a long overdue kick up the backside to get on that.

Read a few tutorials and a couple of forum posts and voila! Apparently my camera can take indoor shots, in focus, in low light. WHO KNEW?? (Pretend you don't know that the answer is: 95% of the people who own the damn camera. >_>)


(Ning is helping build the tower, obviously)

I don't completely have the hang of the white balance settings yet; my friend was talking from a Nikon perspective and the Canon settings appear to be just that bit different. But at least it's in focus, even using my fixed distance lens... which was basically impossible before.

And a bonus follow-up to my 583479826th obsessive eye colour post... the experimenting with the camera settings appears to have netted the most true to life photo yet:


She is still such a blondie, as well. Chris is half-convinced she will stay blonde, because his Dad's hair is basically this exact shade. I kind of doubt it, but hey, she might have a year or two of ash blonde left yet... and I bet she'll look adorable as a brunette anyway. :)

Sunday, 6 April 2014

The mystery of size 18-24 months (for both US and AU sizes)

18-24 months is such an odd size, everywhere. Geli grew out of size 12-18 months about 6 months ago, and you'd think that would be ample time to get familiar with her new wardrobe and how things fit. Yeah, no. I am the first to admit she has way too many clothes right now, which isn't helping, but there are also literally about 25 or more disparate sizes in the mix of her 18-24 / 2 collection.

For starters, in Australia, 18-24 months and size 2 are supposedly the same size in terms of height and weight. They are both for kids 12-14 kilos and 86-92 cm... and a lot of big brands do make both sizes, both with that given weight and height range, such as Target, Seed, Pumpkin Patch, Country Road, Big W's 'Tiny Little Wonders' and so on. The theory seems to be that 18-24 months allows room for nappies and has crotch snaps, and size 2 doesn't.

But in practice, 18-24 months is almost always a little smaller overall, and is rarely long enough for a child over 90 cm. Several sizing charts for these companies make this pretty clear; despite having the same maximum height for both, all the other measurements for size 18-24 months - chest, waist, hip - will be a couple of centimetres smaller. Size 2s will generally be longer and often a little narrower, especially in pants, to account for kids getting leaner and meaner as they shed the nappies and start running everywhere.

Most of the time if they only make one of the two sizes, it will tend to be on the bigger end of the 18-24 months/ 2 spectrum regardless of the size on the label (Purebaby, Cotton On and Bonds for example will definitely fit up to 92 cm and 14 kg... actually, Purebaby runs really big, and I've recently put a few of their 18-24 month pants/overalls/etc in the size 3 bag).

So there is already a lot of trial and error, even if your kid's wardrobe is 100% Aussie clothing. But once you add US sizes into the mix, everything gets very confusing, very quickly. The sizing system in the US is completely different and, on paper, more sensible. 18-24 months is a smaller size, followed by 2T. The problem is that the big name brands don't appear to have been able to agree on what measurements each size should be made to fit:

Measurements in cm/kg
(p.s., does Osh Kosh' size 2 weight range make ANY SENSE to anyone? I triple-checked it and that is definitely what they have listed.)

Even once you do know what size you "should" buy in which brand, there's often a pretty significant difference between what's listed and the actual fit. You look at that chart above and go, yeah, well you could just shop at Gap, Gymboree and Janie and Jack and you'd always know that stuff would fit. Right? Nope! Baby Gap runs true to size but are longer and skinnier than listed in pants, Gymboree runs a little big and Janie and Jack run HUGE for the most part, depending on the style.

You can see another big discrepancy from that little snippet of spreadsheet, too: these size charts would lead you to think American kids are shorter and broader than Australian kids because the height is comparitively one bracket behind the weight (e.g., 12-18 months is 10-12 kg / 78-84 cm in Australia and approximately 10-12.25 kg / 73.5-78.5 cm in the US). But we use the USA-derived CDC growth charts in South Australia, and Geli (at 88 cm tall and 12.7 kg in weight) is average for height and just over average for weight... even though she is nearly a kilogram below the minimum weight range for size 2s from half of those brands, and at the upper end of the height range. A 2 year old who's 13.5 kg and 84 cm tall, and a 3 year old who's 15 kg and 91.5 cm tall, are both at around the 25th percentile for height, and 75th for weight (which would put them at the 95th percentile of weight-for-height, e.g. much heavier than the average American kid). So those given measurements are literally weird - as in, not going to happen for most kids in the USA. And actually, the clothes aren't cut wider than AU sizes, at all... they're proportionately about the same. All of Geli's size 2 tops, US or AU brands, are about the same width and length, and some of the dresses and pants we bought in the States (Baby Gap, Osh Kosh, I'm looking at you) are actually quite a bit slimmer fitting.

So perhaps I could say, oh well, just ignore the weight measurements and look at the height and you'll be golden. Buuut... the height measurements are also kind of arbitrary, which is the one I find really frustrating. Geli's 18-24 months Osh Kosh clothes were packed away a couple of months ago, which seems about right as she's 88 cm tall now (though note she wasn't even ON their weight chart at that point... ugh). But some of her 18-24 months Baby Gap jeans are still too long, though she 'should' be 4 cm too tall (especially as she's fairly long-legged). And her Janie and Jack size 2s are still really, really large on her even though she's smack bang in the middle of the given height range.

There is also the usual dash of intra-brand size randomness, in both Australian and US brands. Carters make these fitted sleepsuits which run much smaller than almost everything else. Geli got given a size 1 Cotton On dress for her first birthday which is still baggy on her now. I bought a beautiful Baby Gap top in an 18-24 months last trip, thinking it would be perfect for this summer... nope, way too narrow-fitting, even before she was in the 'official' weight range at all.

Which of course, brings me onto the last big point in the headache-inducing realm of actually finding something to fit your two year old: every child is, obviously, proportioned differently. Geli is very broad shouldered, and I just know anything which fastens across her upper back is going to get too tight very quickly, even if she's well within the measurements on the size chart. But she has long legs and a shorter torso, so she gets more wear out of things which would be impossible to fasten at the crotch for a longer-bodied kid.

*Sigh* Basically, I give up. I can't even count the number of times I've picked out an outfit from Geli's wardrobe, all in a size 2, only to realise when I go to put it on that the dress is huge on her, the leggings are too tight and the cardigan is way too long in the sleeves. Her wardrobe is full of beautiful things and I love it, but it can be a serious challenge sometimes - I'm saturated by choice and half of them don't actually work for her right now. I'll want to put a specific skirt on her and I pick out three tops that might match... which are all too big, and all the tops she actually fits into would clash.

Lesson learned: if I ever have another baby? Size '18-24' will be a tiny capsule wardrobe, with absolutely everything from one brand.


p.s. in other news, I decided what to do with my hair: grow it even longer. Haha. So in that spirit, I went and got a one-inch trim on my birthday. Plus the tiniest bit of birthday colour put in... can you spot it? (Sorry for the dark hair on dark dress photo.)

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Room to sleep, room to play: 'big girl' room and playroom makeovers

This was definitely the biggest project of my little hiatus, and I thought I'd have it all up last weekend, but it's taken me this long to get photos taken and uploaded. We did a complete switcheroo in our house last month and moved all the rooms around - a whole mini house redo.

I had been kind of itching for a change around here for a while, honestly. I was never completely happy with how we had set things up when we moved in, as we had to make room decisions on the fly (literally as the furniture was carried in the door) having only seen the place briefly before. And we made a few mistakes, as you might expect. The room we picked out for Geli, for example, has a north-west facing window and gets reeeally hot on sunny days. We kept her security shutters closed 95% of the time in to try and control the temperature, which helped a little but also made the room dark and dingy. The room we'd picked for my study, however, gets almost no sun and stays at a much more consistent temperature summer and winter... even though I never, ever shut the security blinds. Other issues had cropped up as she got bigger. Having the playroom as part of the living room was lovely when she was less mobile and more clingy, since I could easily watch her and engage with her no matter what I was doing, but now that she's running around and playing more involved games the toy spread was becoming ridiculous. I couldn't take two steps without tripping over a plastic steak or a toy train - and this is with the number of toys out at once still being restricted - and tidying them up took forever because there were so many tables and chairs to check under for missing parts. Since Geli is allowed to watch a bit of TV now, it also seemed a bit silly to have the TV sitting unplugged in the bedroom gathering dust while she had to stand in the playpen by my computer to watch Play School on my spare monitor. A TV watching area where she could sit down and be comfortable seemed like a good idea.

And so it went on, and the more I thought about it the more things I realised were just not ideal with how things were set up. Her room was too busy and bright, I hated the wall colour, my study still had this random teal stripe around it, our cupboards were full of junk that we should have thrown out before we even moved, etc etc. I came up with a plan, and once I had a plan I leapt into full on project mode and basically bulldozed a reluctant Chris into letting me go ahead with it NOW NOW NOW. In fairness, since it was my brain child, I did almost all of the work myself with a tiny bit of furniture-shifting help from him and stealing my mum for a couple of hours to assist with getting my second coat of paint on the walls (she is a seasoned painter and I am a mere novice).

So, this was the plan:

Clean out all the cupboards/shed to make room for extra things to be stored
'Man cave' to be converted to joint study
Jo's study to be Geli's new 'big girl' bedroom (and repainted)
Geli's old room to be the playroom (and pink wall of DOOM repainted)
The playroom area in the living room will then be a TV area

Which, once I had the fire in my eyes and the vision quest spurring me on, more or less happened in one long weekend. The living room is currently a 'rough draft', as we're trying to work out how we actually want our furniture to be arranged and there's a few extras in there now that have migrated there from the other rooms. But it's at least functional and only moderately hideous :P


For now, though, here are the most relevant makeovers to this particular blog. First, Geli's new playroom!

Before (bedroom/ some play things):



After:




This one was done absolutely on the cheap. All I bought was a couple of thrifted frames, two old picture books to break down for prints and 2 litres of apple-green paint. There are still one or two little jobs to do. The main one is that timber cupboard in the last picture, which has dress-ups in it... I'm not sure whether to paint it, replace it, or what, but I need to do something with it. There's also a hook in the ceiling still where her bed canopy was before, and I can't decide whether to hang something from it - and what - or take it out and patch up the hole. I also had a few problems with my stud finder telling me there was wiring behind every inch of the wall where I originally wanted to put the play kitchen (next to the wall and light switch) so I'm not compleeetely happy with the positioning of the furniture.

But those are small issues, and all up, it's looking good. It's fun, bright, colourful and there's a place for everything... and she plays in there all the time, no problems at all. We were kind of worried that she would just carry toys out to the living room all the time - and this does happen a little bit, which is totally fine and good. I'd be worried if she never wanted to hang out with me, after all! For the most part, though, she is in there doing her thing (sitting her baby dolls around the table to cook them dinner and feed them, then putting them all on the potty one by one, is the latest fad) - honestly, a lot more than I dared to hope. We can sit in the living room and have a real conversation while she plays next door... it's kind of amazing.


Still, the main event, the real apple of my redecorating-frenzied eye, was Geli's new 'big girl' room.

Before (my study/ repository for lost furniture):



After:






Now I have to admit, first off, that the room does not look exactly like this for real: she doesn't sleep in her big bed, yet, so the bed is pushed up against the wall and the cot is still in there next to it. I moved the cot out just to show how the room is designed to ultimately look. My theory is that she can get used to the bed over time, and one day she'll climb over the cot rail or start saying that only babies sleep in cots then it can go for good. There's no rush. I'll sometimes ask her if she wants to sleep in the cot or the bed, and there was one time, so far, that she did take a proper nap in her 'big bed' (which is, weirdly, nearly a foot shorter than the cot... though much wider).

I spent some money in here - perhaps a few hundred dollars, total, the lion's share on the paint... we did all the walls and a few pieces of furniture (bet you hardly recognised that minty fresh wardrobe, hey?). I also bought the shelf and curtains from Ikea, plus a few frames, and there was a bit of op-shopping for MOAR frames and print material and such. The toddler bed was a great find... $60 second hand on Gumtree, including the multi-part mattress. There's a few gnaw marks here and there, but it kind of adds to the vintagey look, I guess, and for the price I really can't complain.

I love this room, and so does Geli. She tells me it's 'bootiful' and wants to visit it all the time. I was going for serene and restful but with just a touch of quirkiness and colour, and I think it came together really well. It's a massive nostalgia kick for me too - I found a worn-out old copy of a book of fairytales and verse I had and loved crazily as a kid, and framed a few favourite illustrations. My old porcelain teddy bear clock is out again, plus a few of my childhood dolls and a borrowed knick-knack or two from my mum's house that I particularly liked back in the day (the silver rabbit money-box and the porcelain doll). And of course there's some echoes of Geli's own babyhood in her bassinet and the butterfly mobile.

I could make a couple of tweaks in here in the next year or two; a rug might be nice, and a fabric blind to replace the old silver venetian. Plus the positioning of the wardrobe cuts all the light to the table next to it a lot of the time, so I might swap the wardrobe and the bed eventually. Either way, it's good, and this swap has worked out just as well as the playroom... that is to say, better than predicted. We were a bit worried the extra ambient noise up this end of the house would keep her up, but she's honestly sleeping more soundly all of a sudden and actually asking to take naps. I can't be 100% sure that it's anything to do with the room, of course, but I'd like to think she just really enjoys being in there and is happier to go to bed because of it... ;)

So, yeah, there you have it. Two new, completely different spaces, both working as intended. And one very pleased, perhaps somewhat spoiled, little girl!

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Forever question mark

One week in and I'm already late for my self-imposed Sunday posting schedule. Oops, very apology, and so forth. >.<

We spent last Sunday night, Monday and Tuesday in the throes of some sort of food poisoning or gastro type thing - we went to a birthday party last Saturday and apparently about 1/3 of the group ended up with it. Then Chris managed to get it from us, so the moment Geli and I were starting to feel a bit better it was his turn to spend a couple of days staggering between the bed and the bathroom.

By Friday I was totally recovered, just with a bit of that drained, hangovery feeling I think is standard-issue with a bad tummy bug, and Geli was well and truly back to her normal energy levels and desperate to get out of the house. So in the last few days we've gone to three playgrounds, the park, two supermarkets and Ikea - and yeah, completely forgotten the blog.

Anyway! We're here now so let's roll with it. I've been wanting to post a follow-up forever to this eye colour post, but of course I was still waiting to find out until she was at least two... or so I thought. Well, the joke is on me, because at this point I'm convinced her eyes have been more or less their 'actual' colour forever and a day. I think they did most of their changing in the first twelve months, tops - there is more grey, less blue and probably a hiiint more hazel now than there was last February, and the various colours have maybe separated out a little more... but there has been no drastic shift one way or another.

At least I'm getting a little better at describing it: overall, they are grey. If you want to be specific, dark grey-blue with brown centres. They are always going to be a chameleon shade that can look like a whole range of things. Probably 75% of the time in real life they look a medium grey, and you can't clearly see all the striae. In yellowish light, they are grey-brown - sometimes they can even look black if the lighting is really dim, especially as her pupil dilates because the brown takes up more of her iris. In white light or overcast natural light they can look quite blue. Viewed across the iris they seem hazel and the brown is much more dominant than straight on. And because it's quite a dark shade, in certain light and surroundings they just reflect what she's looking at and could be absolutely any colour at all.

Of course, they could still take on more of a hazel cast as she gets older (there's a family history of colour changes all the way up through the twenties), but for now... this is it!

August 2012

December 2012

June 2013

January 2014
February 2014
Viewed across - very brown! (October 2013)

So, they are quite unusual, and a bit hard to photograph 'true to life', but I do think they are really very pretty (I mean, how could I not?). And after all the musing about what they would be, in the end I'm glad she seems destined to keep her question-mark eyes... she just wouldn't be Geli without them.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Triumphant return

Ahoy hoy! Did you miss us? :D

I'm through with my little sabbatical - only a month after all, in the end. It's strange how as soon as you decide to give something up, you always immediately get about twenty good ideas for it... after a while, I was a bit impatient to get to it again. So I'm laden with plans for posts and have a new, more realistic, once-weekly schedule to work with - I'm going to try and post every Sunday. Hopefully that will keep things ticking over here without taking all that much time out of the week.

So a very quick run down on the last month:-
  • I started raiding again in WoW, twice a week. I can't seem to stay away! But it's nice to see several faces still around from my last stint... it feels like being back with old friends again. Plus I'm getting in quite a bit of D3 with the new patch, and still having a D3 'play-date' once weekly with my brother which is good times.
  • I have had a crazy DIY/redecorating bug, so I've redone four rooms of the house and thrown together lot of crafty bits and pieces along the way. I might throw a whole lot more detail at you for next Sunday's post.
  • The weather has been certifiably bonkers: all summer it was either unseasonably cool or too hot to leave the house. So most of Geli's summer dresses and playsuits got all of one wear, while she spent her time in long sleeves or knickers and nothing else. Boo!
  • We're heading into a few big milestones again (big girl bed possibly the most immediate, but also nap-shunning appears imminent too), so there could be some drama and hand-wringing around here for a while. Beware!
  • Speaking of milestones, we had a bit of a strange potty-training regression for about a fortnight, which finally seems to have spontaneously resolved itself right as I was about to throw my hands up and put her back in nappies. Thankfully, she seems back on track at the minute.
  • I've also put Geli down on the waiting list for one day a week at childcare - we're still not 100% sure if that's what we want to do, but it would be nice to swap one night shift for a day shift (and associated bump in hours) and get her some more play time with other kids and social-skills practice... of course this is tempered by a somewhat hysterical feeling of "ENTRUSTING MY PRESHUSH TO STRANGERS??? NEVARRR!" So we'll see how things are going when they actually offer the day to me.
And because no post would be complete without a dash of pic-spam...

This one is probably at peak lifetime cuteness right now, but is also very definitely in 'ham faces only for the camera' mode:




She has also recently discovered the joy of pushing the camera button herself, and so the chances of getting pictures of her at all that aren't blurry ultra-close-ups or annoyed "GIVE IT TO MEEE" flailing have diminished considerably.




Still, every once in a while there's some gold in there.


And the ham faces are kind of their own variety of gold, anyway.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Break Time

Hello my few dogged readers!

I think it's pretty obvious that I've been losing steam around here recently... the posts are getting further and further apart, while the comments from friends and family about 'when will you next post?' are getting more and more common. But even after a week sometimes I still have no idea what to write, and usually other things I'd rather be doing. I feel guilty, because I know some people are really hanging out for new posts, but I just don't quite have the momentum right now to keep rattling them off.

Partly it's being busy with other hobbies, partly it's having a job and other adult responsibilities taking up free (read: blogging) time, partly it's not having anything massively exciting to write about, but I think mostly it's getting comfortable with parenting and how things are going and not feeling the need to dissect and discuss it as much. The blog has been a great outlet in the early days to work through all the tricky and unexpected stuff a baby or toddler can throw at you, but there just isn't that much which sends me running for the keyboard recently. I'm 'living in the moment', I guess, in that it's just the routine and life now. The stress and novelty has faded and we're left with just comfortable and fine, and not really blog-worthy.

I'm not going to say I'm quitting, yet, but I'm definitely going to take a hiatus for a while and see how I feel in a couple of months or so. So... I will be back, at some point soon. But there will be a bit of a blank space here for a bit. Enjoy the rest of your summer (or winter, depending where you are) and we will catch you anon.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Two

Geli turned two yesterday. I can't do the usual spiel about not believing she could be two yet or how it feels like last month she was born - this time, weirdly, it does really feel like two years.

I do have to say, though, this year has been such a great one. The first twelve months of her life were so up and down - more up than down, yes, but still filled with minor and major crises month in, month out. Lots of stress about breastfeeding, colic, solids, sleep, breastfeeding again, milestones, wonder weeks, and all the rest that comes with bringing home a small person. Even though there has obviously been a fair bit of that this year, for the most part everything has been so comparatively calm. She eats, she sleeps, she walks and talks and runs. Sings songs, counts, generally races through the milestones. Weaning, teething and potty training have all been easier than I worried they would be. I feel like we've found our rhythm so much better with the parenting gig in the last twelve months.

I'm sure it helps that, compared to this time last year, she's so full of personality. She's sensitive and gentle but also cheeky and wilful. She makes up games, worries over things, tells you what she's thinking. She has her moments, like they all do, but all up she's easy to live with and fun to be around. I feel... honestly, not just grateful but also relieved, that I've been able to take the second year to be home with her. I loved her from the word go, but with the endless triage of infancy behind us, the real business of bonding and becoming friends has happened this year. Now I think I'm well fortified with lashings of parental adoration, and ready to face whatever the 'terrible twos' have to throw at me.

For those keeping score, I took her final two year old measurements as well.
Here's a quick comparison -

When she was born, she was 3.53 kg, 48 cm long and her head was 34.5 cm around.
At one year old, she was 9.83 kg, 75 cm tall and her head was 47 cm.
Now she's 12.1 kg, 84.5 cm tall and her head is 50 cm.

Is it just me or are those numbers completely mental? It means she grew nearly three times as much in the first year as the second. And considering she started that year much, much smaller, that amount of growth is proportionally even more massive. To match that rate for this 12 months, she'd have to currently weigh nearly 30 kilograms. I know that sort of growthsplosion is completely and utterly normal for infants but wow, it's still kind of hard to get the head around.

As is my wont, we marked the occasion with an itty bitty photoshoot in the park. (Hard to believe from the state of the place in mid-summer, but it's the same park where we took these pictures last August.) Of course, we also threw her a party on the Sunday, and it went really well... but I haven't yet had a chance to grab the pictures from my volunteer photographer. For now, just a few of our girl on the day she turned two: