Sunday, February 24, 2013

Raising a Little Aussie

Something I think about frequently is identity, specifically through nationality. The full identity issue is a much larger discussion and blog post than I'm tackling here. My national identity is pretty simple - I'm a Australian - at least fourth generation if not further. No matter how long we live abroad, I will always think of myself as an Australian. My parents are 100% Australian, as was my childhood home and education.

So where does that leave Eloise? Is she American or Australian? Will she feel American because she lives here? If we move back to Australian in a few years, then what will that make her? Technically she's an Australian born in the US, with dual citizenship. I often wonder what she will feel like as she grows up. As she starts school she will pick up an American accent (nooooo!!!) and identify with her friends more than with us. Whereas Alec and I yearn for things like Cadbury chocolate and Gippsland yoghurt, will she prefer (god forbid) Hersheys and Chobani?.

How do we help Eloise embrace her Australian heritage and nationality so it forms part of her identity? Read her Playing Beatie Bow, serve her Vegemite, make her watch The Man From Snowy River? Will she even care?

The point is we do care, even if she won't for what will probably be a long time. I hope that by constantly going back home to visit and by surrounding her with global experiences that she will embrace an identity of being more than just an American.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Sydney, December 2011[/caption]

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Eloise - 18 months

I turned around and suddenly my little squirmy noodle hit another 6 month notch.

Since turning one, Eloise has developed into a real little kid. Running everywhere at top speed, dancing, play pretend with her dolls and her toy kitchen. She's so physical, and is getting really agile. She loves walking on the balance beam at kids club and swinging on the parallel bars like a little gymnast. Put on music and she taps her feet, sways and shakes her head to the beat. The independent streak she's shown since she was born is still at the forefront of her character - she's so physically brave.

[caption width="300" align="aligncenter"] Cheese![/caption]

One of the best developments is the physical affection. We now get hugs and kisses and real interaction. It's so magical. Eloise understands so much of what we say to her now, following directions and replying to questions we ask her. She also speaks! Lots of words where she says the first syllable, like cheese, water, milk, duck, more, cheddar bunnies, dog, ball. Some words she can say two syllables, like bubble and baby. She's also started to string words together, like "hi dada", and "bye becky" (becky is a butterfly).

Eloise has gotten really attached to a little toy mouse, who she's called Mimi. If she can't find Mimi she gets hysterical.

All of her baby teeth have come in, with the exception of the 2 year molars. We had a brutal few months while they came through - hopefully now we'll get some sleep again. Eloise's sleep in the past few months has been terrible - a big remission to waking multiple times a night again. Bad, bad news.

Eloise has started to love drawing with crayons, and particularly loves books. From when she wakes up in the morning to when she goes to bed, it's all about "books, books, books!!!". She likes to have them read to her, and also likes sitting in the armchair in her bedroom looking through the books herself, particularly books with animals in them. If we point to animals she can either make the noise they make, or says their name. It's co cute! She also refers to herself as "Cheese", which is a parenting fail, but incredibly adorable.

She's also started to play pretend with her toys - feeding her dolls, making us tea in her kitchen. It's so adorable, even if she's making some dubious recipes like carrot-flavoured tea.

[caption width="300" align="aligncenter"] Tea, yum.[/caption]

Monday, February 18, 2013

In Defence of Toddlers

I feel like toddlers get a pretty bad rap for being out of control maniacs. And there is definitely some truth to this - most days Eloise spins through my life like mad squirrel, leaving total destruction behind her. Even though some parts of this stage can be trying (mind-numbing exhaustion at the end of each day!), it's actually my favourite stage yet. Here's why:

1. Hugs and kisses. I get them ALL THE TIME. Open mouth French slobbers, little pecks on the mouth, and little hands that grab me from behind and nestle in for a snuggle. Ahhhhh this is the best thing of all.
2. Words! Finally, she is communicating! True, it's still hard to understand what she's saying a lot of the time, but hearing this little baby-child wrap her lips and tongue around words like bath, dog, duck, flower just fill me with awe at seeing tiny changes happening every minute of every day.
3. Pretend play. Eloise holds up any phone-sized object to her ear and conducts a deep conversation with it, complete with the correct intonations. Kill me now, I'm dying from the cuteness of it all.
4. Dance moves. The little girl has her own groove going on. Put on music and she's swaying and tapping her feet out of natural instinct.
5. She can feed herself. Here's the food, off you go, baby.
6. She's not that screaming, refluxy infant anymore who made me doubt my ability to do this parenting job. Compared to the first ten months of her life, toddlerhood is a breeze so far.



Sunday, February 17, 2013

January Blues

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Gratuitous Cheese shot.[/caption]

I won't lie, January was hard. Bitterly cold, jet lagged baby, sick family over and over again, plus a case of the blues that just wouldn't budge. I've been struggling to find room for myself again now that Eloise is getting older and doesn't need me quite so much. I've been feeling time slipping by me in all directions. In Eloise's little face as it slims and grows, in my friends' careers as they get promoted and start their own businesses. I've been feeling torn in a way I never thought possible between choosing myself or choosing to spend my time with Eloise.

It's a fine line to walk. I love hearing every word for the first time, seeing every new trick she throws out daily. I also feel like I've been living my life entirely for someone else, and that I've completely lost myself.

So what's the answer? I'm trying hard to get some freelance and part-time work going that I can do with some short babysitting stints for Eloise, and during her naps. So far it's going well, but it's also hard! Hard to focus, hard to spend all my free time working rather than resting up for the next tornado Eloise. It's better than the alternative though, and I still get to spend most of the week with my crazy, wilful, adorable toddler.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Snow day!

Blizzard Nemo (ha!) hit New York yesterday. It was pretty crazy being out in it - like icicles prickling my face. Today the blizzard had passed and the city was covered in a glorious foot of snow. Yay! We head over to Fort Greene park to give Eloise her first real taste of snow. She really loved it - she couldn't get enough of sitting on the ground and trying to grab it in her little mits.

[caption width="600" align="aligncenter"] Snow baby![/caption]

[caption width="300" align="aligncenter"] Go, baby, go![/caption]

[caption width="600" align="aligncenter"] Snow dog![/caption]

[caption width="600" align="aligncenter"] With Daddy.[/caption]

[caption width="600" align="aligncenter"] Family![/caption]

[caption width="600" align="aligncenter"] Beautiful.[/caption]

[caption width="600" align="aligncenter"] Snow baby.[/caption]

[caption width="600" align="aligncenter"] Happy husband.[/caption]

[caption width="600" align="aligncenter"] Loving the snow.[/caption]

[caption width="600" align="aligncenter"] So pretty.[/caption]

[caption width="600" align="aligncenter"] Love![/caption]

[caption width="300" align="aligncenter"] Stroller did NOT work well in snow.[/caption]