Mother of invention #10: nursery rhyme warning labels

So the jman and I, we received a book/cd Christmas gift, of “baby’s favourite nursery rhymes”. Aside from the fact that “Hey diddle diddle” has been done over all hip hop, I’ve begun listening to what I’m actually saying in our baby karaoke sessions. Oh sure, he laughs when I dance to the Christmas Garfield that plays the Benny Hill Theme tune**, but i put on this cd in those oh so slow mornings, and nothing compares to a good ole’ fashioned nursery rhyme, right? Right?

Omg, the lyrics, people.

So here on the baby shopping channel, is a set of nursery rhyme warning labels, rhyme by rhyme. Stick these in your books, to go with our politically correct universe and nanny states. Available in three colours: pink, blue, and non judgemental non gender bias neutral / beige.

This little piggie: I am not down with pigs that eat roast beef. I foresee an existential crisis in our future when giant carnivorous pigs either roam the world, or starve, or have continence issues, going wee wee wee all the way home.
warning: pigs are generally herbivores and any depiction to the contrary in this rhyme is for poetic purposes only. The last pig is a stern reminder to do those pelvic floor exercises before, during, and after having children.

Rock-a-bye baby: hanging your child from a tree top in a windstorm is not accepted in most parenting manuals. Singing to your child about falling out of trees, even to a lovely tune, may be viewed as a threat.
warning: don’t try this at home

Round and round the garden:I thought teddy bears had picnics. I’m so confused.
warning: if you see teddy bears going round and round your garden, seek medical assistance/ step away from the cookie

Five little ducks (went out one day…over the hill and far away): mother duck has been reported to the Department of Community Services and is currently under investigation.
warning: if you lose a child every time you go out, this is not viewed as acceptable parenting by modern day standards. Whilst the depiction is historically accurate as most people in the hey day of Catholicism had spare children, this is no longer the case.

Three blind mice

What this nursery rhyme says about treatment of the disabled, animal vivisection, and farming just doesn’t bear repeating. But currently holidaying on a farm that once had a mouse plague, I can kind of see where she’s coming from with the carving knife thing.

warning: don’t come at the blind or disabled with a knife. It’s not cool, mmmkay?

**my mother rang me from Coles to ask could she buy this for jman. I was nearly crying with laughter at the “Christmas music” over the phone. I love that somewhere in china, a group of factory workers think the Benny hill theme song is a Xmas carol. As does my mother!

I’m sure I’ve missed a few. Add your warnings below.


Gumby is geared up. Gumby has a better wardrobe than mum or dad. Gumby has absolutely no chance of getting through all of those outfits (written like a classic beginner mum that is about to give birth to an all time champion chucker upperer that will go through 17 outfits a day).

Quite a few weeks ago now, on the 25th of April, after reading someone else’s blog post about buying stuff second hand, I went onto Gumtree which has free classifieds of all sorts of things in every category imaginable. Just that day, a lovely lady called Faye had put up a few bundles of baby clothes for not very much money. At that stage, I couldn’t manage extended shopping trips for essentials. So I emailed her, found she lived just a few blocks from my mum’s house, and I sent mum down for a visit.

After agreeing to buy the winter oooo-ooo bundle for $60, Faye let me know about her summer bundle of clothes in oo’s for $30. And later that evening hub-in-boots realised she was also selling a Baby Bjorn carrier for $30 and jumped up and down in excitement.

Mum was duly dispatched the next day. And nearly wet herself with excitement.

The clothes were beautifully kept, practically brand new, laundered and pressed and bagged. It was like a giant lucky dip. Despite the fact she was already heading over for a birthday lunch quite soon, Mum could not wait to get over here and show me, and madly drove across Sydney to bring them, and my mother-in-law.

First, we began unpacking one bag in the bedroom. When the queen sized bed was completely covered in clothes, we moved to the lounge. When we moved to the second bag, we covered the dining room table and all the chairs in outfits, accompanied by squeals of delight and running from room to room to find matching hats or pants and complete perfect little outfits. With the third bag of summer clothes, there was no space in the house left to lay them out. So we held them up one by one.

It took hours. It was such fun. So much better than shopping, because of the serendipity, and the feeling that in having someone else’s baby stuff, you hadn’t contributed to ridiculous over consumption that occurs in our world in quite the same way (she says, assembling photos of the ridiculous quantities of baby stuff. Sigh). And because of the limitations on my situation, at the time, picking out outfit by outfit, spending money, being out, these were all things I could not really manage at the time. And again, that feeling that the clothes had already had a life, and now would have a new life, with a new baby. A real baby, that all of a sudden has a wardrobe.

Now those clothes are mostly unpacked, into a lovely chest of drawers given to us last week by a school friend. They sit in little neat folded rows, stacked up, so many outfits but so small they hardly take up any room. Of course, Grandma and others have gone shopping too. And these slide shows do not include the larger sizes like oo’s that are happily packed away and waiting for a big fat six month old Gumby. Yes, there is a whole other crate of gifts and Gumtree gear just waiting.

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Gumby has a beautfiul pram, a bath and a stand, a cot, a mattress, one waterproof, a bassinet (with no mattress or linen yet), a change table, a chest of drawers, a high chair, a bouncer, a rocker, some washers, some singlets, a room temp thingy, an el cheapo audio monitor, a microwave steriliser.  Of these, we bought the mattress and waterproof. That’s it. Thank you to all of our generous donors.  We haven’t done stuff like baby towels, nappies, or many toys. ..some categories of stuff we haven’t even touched. But we’ll get there. There’s no rush. (ha!)

We’ve asked anyone that wants to bring a gift to the Gumby happy hour shower (think pre emptive joint sexes wetting of baby’s head) to bring their favourite childhood book to start his library. The gift that will keep on giving as we read it, and re read it, and finally curse their name for imposing this inane story on our nightly routine. The years of buying noisy musical toys for other people’s children are about to return, and bite me on the ass. I look forward to rediscovering our childhood favourites, and to finding new favourites to enjoy with Gumby.

I’ve packed my hospital bag, ish. I did this at 23-24 weeks when we were warned of high risks of preterm labour, and hub-in-boots started to get really jittery about what might happen. So I did it early, and it just sits there, a calm bastion of preparation, on the spare bed, quietly reminding us of what lies ahead. Of course, there will be a million other things to throw in it at the last minute, but the essentials are there. Hideous giant packs of maternity pads, nursing pads, undies, bed socks, slippers stolen from a day spa, pj’s, basic toiletries, a toothbrush and little toothpaste. The time since then has gone so fast, that I barely get used to saying “28 weeks” and I’m saying “29 weeks”. I’ve said 29 weeks a couple of times, and I’m about to say my dream date. 30 weeks. I think this calls for a glass of champagne. The date that barely dared to speak its name, months ago. It sounds so real, so solid. We are in no way home and hosed, I know that, but geez, compared to the frozen fear of pre term warnings and 22 weeks with quiet abject terror, what a change in odds. What a different world. I walk, I cook, I shop, I clean (a bit), I get ready.

My blood tests this week were good. Good vitamin D, no Strep B bacteria, and my 3 month average Blood glucose, called a HbA1C was 5.0 (supposed to be under 6.0 during pregnancy. What a legend). I was delighted my glucose control is working. Delighted. The midwife (at North Korea) rang me and said my iron is low, so I’m on a supplement now and made chilli con carne with quinoa for tea…quinoa = iron. Kidney beans and tomato = iron and vitamin c for iron absorption. Lean mince = iron. Spinach = iron. What a good little vegemite.

We met another fresh one at pre natal class this week. Owen? He was in a deep sleep. Very very cute. Opened his eyes, briefly, and went, yeah this is too much effort, and, held mid air by the midwife educator, gripped by his chin and bum,  nodded back off to sleep. He was 48 hours old. His mum, again, looked great…waters broken on the day she was going to her ob to discuss a possible caesarean, a bit of labour, and ended up in surgery.

  • We “gave birth” using a balloon and a ping pong ball (and no, not like a Bangkok prostitute party trick, though it would be unreal for your pelvic floor, no just using our hands to make pretend balloon contractions and push the ball out the purple latex “cervix”).
  • We practiced distraction / relaxation techniques whilst holding a fistful of ice for one minute, to find what worked on the pain of contractions, and for the blokes to realise how long a minute really is and how important their role is in management
  • We categorised stacks of cards of labour scenarios as “stay home be cool”, “probably stay home call the hospital”, and “call the hospital and head on in”.
  • We toured the labour suites, with all the relaxed smiling midwives, saw the monitoring equipment, looked in the cupboards, heard about all the options. The staff, again, were amazingly nice. They had a wonderful vibe.

Weird. Weird to picture yourselves in that serene room, dealing with contractions, your own little quiet universe (ummm, or noisy sweary one), bringing a child into the world. In freaking WEEKS. Woah. Hub-in-boots looked a teensy bit deer in the headlights. So did I, I suspect.  But, just like standing in the door of the nursery and opening the little drawers, it was a dream moment, reassuringly real.

Shout outs to Michelle at Miracle in the Works. At 32 weeks last night 3am Seattle time, she thought perhaps her waters broke. She’s in hospital , waiting, now. We had that card in our stack on Wednesday night. Call the hospital, and head straight in. Sending some prayers and good wishes your way.


Gumby gets a room

Well as I hinted in my last post, we’ve had a busy week. Hub-in-boots had a week off work to assist in the world’s largest declutter and nurserify project. I hadn’t really started as I know myself, and I know that I would start tidying one shelf, and forty minutes later I’d be up a ladder hurling around enormous bags of clothes like a “what not to do in pregnancy” occupational health and safety diagram. So I just didn’t start.

Of course, we had to approach it using the hub-in-boots method of cleaning and decluttering. Hub-in-boots thinks getting things a little bit cluttered or cleaned is just pointless, and limiting your energy to one shelf or one space is just counter-intuitive. No no, he likes big apartment wide craziness. For example, if he goes to do the washing up, there are dishes spread across every counter, the floor is awash with water, there are baskets spread in the lounge room in a seemingly unrelated expanse of housework, wet tea towels find their way to the bathroom, random mops appear in buckets in corners. So you can imagine the fun when we emptied a whole room.

The flat became an unnavigable labyrinth of plastic crates, pieces of furniture with drawers removed, strange mysterious giant cardboard boxes that appeared out of nowhere and stacks of books. AFL football tracksuits seemed to grow from every surface and every cupboard. But being unable to lift much, or move much, I bit my tongue (mostly), and just went with the five days of total chaos that rapidly spread to every single room like a virus.

Hub-in-boots worked like a dog, Monday driving my brother’s van over to a friend from school’s house that I hadn’t seen for years and years, a friend who’d kindly offered us a Boori chest of drawers and matching change table. It was unreal seeing her and her family, including a particularly mad three year old girl who had us in stitches. We have now both met her bunny rabbit flopsy, inspected her princess bedroom, seen her sister’s room, and seen her new table and chairs and met her dog. I don’t know how anyone keeps furniture that impeccably after two kids. Impressive! And so so generous.

Tuesday we did a bed swap, moving my old double bed to my sister’s place, and swapping it for her king single. We’ve managed to get the single into Gumby’s room so there’s somewhere to flop and do night feeds, as well as a spare bed so relatives can hang out here and help when Gumby is born.

Wednesday was a mad day of doctor’s visits and our first hospital pre natal class. I booked hub-in-boots in for a manicure and a full body scrub. He was pretty happy. Topped only by the beers after class….

Thursday we went and organised Gumby’s Happy Hour shower at the local pub and saw Dr North Korea. We decided to lash out and pay to have the event with drinks and finger food at the pub, without the cleaning up or stress. I’d love to host it here in our yard on the water, and cook cute things, but we’re weather dependent and the effort carrying stuff up and down is a bit beyond me.

I am not very keen on baby showers, and I tend to think all female occasions with games involving nappies are a bit creepy, and I hate anything that comes across as present gathering. To me, that’s not what it’s all about, and Gumby is Stew’s baby just as much as he is mine.

I don’t want Gumby to be a kid with STUFF, that needs loads of stuff to feel happy. He’s a baby. He doesn’t need things or brands or everything perfectly matching. He just needs time and love. I do love it when a gift is a wonky handmade something, or a bunny rug with twenty something years of history, or a blanket I can remember wrapping my niece in and holding her, or a bassinet that practically every baby in the family has slept in for the past fifty three years, that started off pink, and faded, was repainted white and used, stored for twenty years, and reappears like magic from a garage rafter across Sydney. I like that today we bought Gumby a pirate bib and rattle, mainly because his father likes sailing and would like Gumby’s first word to be “arghhhhh”.

And of course, if I don’t improve my appalling habits, as my mother keeps telling me, his first work will actually be “shit”.

like that we have bought each other kid’s books over the years that are now in Gumby’s room, and one, Dog Loves Books  we stood and read together in Shakespeare’s bookshop on the Rive Gauche in Paris, on our honeymoon. And another is an alphabet book called M is for Metal, to open up pre verbal discussions on ACDC, groupies, punks, Ozzy Ozbourne, The Who and why boy bands are bad for you. Now that’s education.

I like having someone’s friend’s daughter’s baby bath, and Lou Lou’s cot and pram and everything else. And art work our friends gave us for a wedding present in his room. And Jeffrey Smart, hub-in-boots favourite artist.

So things with meaning, I like that. Stuff for the sake of stuff for a baby?  Yeah not keen.

But I felt after what we’ve been through that there needed to be a time when we actually celebrated, and saw our friends and family, and said “hey, we are ACTUALLY having a baby, isn’t this exciting?”. So we went for a mixed event, drinks at the local, grown up conversation, nibbles, cute cakes.

Here’s the invites:

Gumby’s Happy Hour invites

Friday was more de cluttering, cot pick up from our major sponsor, Angus, and cot construction. Hub-in-boots has two problems with a task like this: inability to construct many things, and a complete lack of spatial reasoning (when it comes to moving stuff). Luckily, after much debating in our relationship, it’s now a given that construction projects are led by me, and he does the grunt work. I read the instructions, I do most of the screwing in and hammering. And when it comes to lifting things, I make suggestions, and he does the lifting. Of course, this evolved into me crawling around the floor bumping my belly into everything as I screwed in the nuts and bolts on the cot, and hub-in-boots stood patiently taking the weight and moving panels when instructed. It works very well, and we didn’t argue at all. All week. I think there needs to be some kind of relationship therapy involving self construction furniture. I swear flat pack furniture will make or break a marriage.

We also discovered a Bavarian Bakehouse on the way back from the cot pickup, tipped off by a sign on the main road that said “These pretzels are making me thirsty”. What a find. We could have done with the giant pretzels at Eurovision, but still. And of course I could hardly eat anything they sold, but that didn’t stop us buying loads for everyone else, and me having one bite of everything. Homemade gingerbread, pretzels, mustards, big heavy loaves of bread. Oh yum. The whole place is on the post pregnancy menu planner.

The room wasn’t working after the cot was finished, so when my sister arrived I cleared out and left hub-in-boots to mull it over. He sorted it out with a bit of bedroom tetris, shifting things around, and back, and around again, and he got it just right. It seems his lack of spatial reasoning is limited to removalist type tasks. He did brilliantly.

The flow of the room is now just perfect and very functional to boot. We are so happy with it.

We followed this up with an enormous Mexican feast at our local restaurant with my sister and brother in law. I pretty much emptied a plate as big as my head. Like I said, we’ve been working hard. Impressively, I kept my blood sugar within limits.

Today was the fun stuff. Today we handed out the first of our invites, and went to Leichhardt and bought decals for the nursery wall, and sheets, and a cot mattress and a curtain valance. This was the first time we walked into a baby shop together and bought something. It was really nice. It felt like something kind of monumental, that I’ve been waiting a long long time to do.

Then we hung up the curtain topper, stuck up the decals with detailed discussion on the placement of each cloud and letter and bee. We keep running in and out of the room to check it out again, to check that it’s real. It’s gone from our dark dingy room-o-crap to somewhere for a little boy to grow up. And at 29 weeks, after not that many weeks of actually counting on this pregnancy, it is nice to feel at least semi-ready, and to be able to do nice things together to prepare.

And here’s the result:

(I’ve never figured out how to do a slideshow on here before. How exciting!)

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Oh! Sully! The Places You’ll Go!

Today is a really special day.

Today, one year ago, a friend of mine (captain complicated pregnancy in this blog), had a baby, Sullivan (Sully). This is not my story to tell. I don’t have all the details, so sorry girls if I get anything wrong, and perhaps it’s not my place. But I’d still like to write a post to mark this day.

Sully had been a long time becoming the little brother he was meant to be. There was a lot of loss and difficulty before he was conceived, so he was very very wanted. And at the 19 week scan, there they were, in a wheelchair, out of the scan place, running down Missenden Road to the hospital with a dilated / shortened cervix, straight into surgery for cerclage (a stitch in the cervix to prevent miscarriage). 

This has a whole other resonance now, my being 18.5 weeks with that very scan next Monday.

Anyway, Sully’s mum, Captain Complicated Pregnancy (which is fairly reductionist of me, she’s an all round cool chick, not just an incubator!), was put onto immediate bedrest, and this was in and out of hospital. It was strict, and it was not easy, as she had a toddler tearing up the house at the same time. As a couple, they had lots of support, but some burdens somehow fall to us alone, and despite everything and everyone around us, make us feel isolated. She was in hopeful spirits, craving mexican, and the breakfast bruschetta we always ate after Saturday boxercise. She was watching series of Dexter, amongst other things. Unlike me, she didn’t knit. And along with her lovely partner, she was counting down the weeks, trying to live out the weeks, trying to grow this boy until he was a viable baby. Every week was important. Every week was vital. We all counted the weeks with her. It feels bloody to me familiar now. 30 weeks was a point of great celebration.

And, beyond all expectations, Sully made it to full term. At some point they took out the stitch, and there she was, Mum /Mum to be, at the hairdresser, madly texting us all when the contractions began. She tossed up about going in for waxing on the way to the hospital. Mad woman. But did the sensible thing and went directly to the labour ward.

Sully was born by Caesarean section. And then everything went quiet. No news from her, none from her family. Silent. No emails. No texts. Til we finally found out, what seemed like ages later (and was probably, in reality, a few hours after labour should have finished), but I knew the silence had a dark quality.

I went to boxing on Wednesday night, and her aunty wasn’t there. And there were people standing around in shock, in tears, almost in tears. And I realised something was wrong. The daily emails started. And we all prayed

Sully had difficulties during birth, and to this day, I don’t think they know what happened. Beautiful perfect Sully, born on the 22nd, and on the 25th after many who loved him had met him and held him, they turned off his respirator. He opened his eyes for the first time, and looked at his mums with big clear eyes. Sully, at least in body, didn’t make it through that day.

So today is Sully’s birthday. And my friend, who has been a source of enormous support, and empathy, and dark jokes, and laughs during my present”internment”,  who along with her partner and family suffered an immeasurable loss last year, has asked that everyone do one simple thing tonight, in his honour. .

To read Dr Suess’ Oh! The Places You’ll  Go! Sully’s other mum, his Beb, read this book at his memorial service last year, and it was beautiful. We drank a lot that night. His mum stole a salt shaker from the club to “pay” me for the taxi ride home with hub-in-boots at the wheel. I think i still have it around here somewhere….

I’d  like to ask you, as my blog readers, to sit down tonight, and read the Dr Suess book, as a birthday present to him.

  • And if you can’t read it, then click here and watch this lovely mad version at The Burning Man festival on youtube. (get tissues. It makes me cry every single time…)
  • Read it to your loved one, your child, your unborn in your belly, your dog, your cat, your friend over the phone.
  • Pop out at lunch and buy the book,
  • Read it here where the full text is posted on the bottom of ‘Don’t Stuff’s’ blog post: Oh! The Places You’ll Go! 
  • get an iphone / ipad app of the book, and sit down and enjoy storytime
  • Feeling creative? Post a vid of you reading it on youtube, or anywhere, and include Sully’s name
  • send it out in the blogosphere via your blog
  • email it
  • Tell Sully’s family, via the comments section below, the places he has been today, where and how he’s been remembered.
  • Post a link and ask your friends on Facebook to read it

Sullivan Darcy Kippax, Sully. Celebrate his wonderful little life. Sully’s mums and his family will see your comments. They will appreciate your gesture, this precious 7 minutes of your life, to remember his.

Happy birthday Sully. I know you would have been a real tear away. A mad little fella. A heart breaker. I wish today we were cleaning cake off your face and helping you to blow out your candles.

Oh! Sully, with everyone remembering you today, the places you’ll go!

UPDATE: So far today, Sully has been to Australia, the UK, Poland, the US, Germany, Malaysia, Canada, and Egypt. And Mauritius and New Zealand. Today (23rd) also to Peru!

And here’s some pics of wishes being granted…

Lachie and Bella at bedtime on the Ipad in Sydney
Juliet, Soph and Tom in Melbourne Australia. You can tell it's colder there!

and hub-in-boots and I read it too. This is a prop book (Dog Loves Books by Louise Yates) because we really read it off the iphone app….

Jo, Stew (Hub in boots), Gumby and Grover


Here's Molly reading it with Aunty Trace in Sydney. She waited patiently, paying attention until the story was over before going outside to bed. awwwww.