21 December 2008


My apologies for the lack of recent content to everyone who follows my blog. We've been busy...

We went camping at Mimosa Rocks National Park a few weeks ago. I meant to write about that. About how great Ella was to camp with, how she helped me set up and pack up the tent without telling me "I'm tired" after 3 minutes: a first! How we enjoyed the close encounters with the wildlife. Ella thinks it is totally normal to talk to the animals too. She probably thinks I'm Dr Doolittle when I go: "Bye Mrs Echidna! Nice meeting you! Have a nice day!" Or "Thanks for visiting us goanna! How very lovely to meet you!". I thought the funniest moment was when I yelled: "Hi little wallaby!" upon which the little wallaby promptly plonked down on his bum. I'd never seen a wallaby sit on his behind. He must have had a very tiring day. And I could relate.

I also have some video footage of Ella entertaining the troops at Mimosa, but that will have to wait. Though I'm keen for all of you to hear a couple of her made-up fairy songs that go on and on and on and are all about how 'beautiful' everything is in unicorn/butterfly/fairy land and how the rainbows have pink and purple in them.

I cannot remember what else we did since then. I do know Ella is still 3 going on 13, soon to be 4 going on 14. She tries to pull the: "You made me sad! You are not nice to me today!" trick on me very often. I have less and less patience with it. Just tell her that I may not be nice, but at least I am fair. Or that it is not my job to be nice to her. I also gave her a long lecture the other day about considering other people's feelings. I remember reading/watching something recently about how parents these days seem to just want their kids to be happy. While previous generations wanted their kids to be good. Which made me think... So I told Ella that I wanted her to be a good person. The best person she could be. And being 'good' includes not crying so much because everyone finds listening to crying annoying (which is why I now just calmly tell her to go cry in another room and come back when she's stopped), not making people wait, being brave and always being nice to other people. I now also try to tell her that good things come to good people and have considered telling her that being nice to other people brings good luck while crying over little pains is definitely bad luck. We all seem to take on some superstitious traditions whilst growing up so might as well brainwash her with some that are actually useful.

Now we're preparing to leave for 10 days at the coast. Which should be great as long as it doesn't rain too much. It's been exceptionally wet in these parts of the world for the past few weeks. I'm looking forward to spending Xmas on the beach. I just hope I'll be able to fit Santa's present for Ella in the car.

Then when we come back we'll need to start preparing for Ella's birthday party. As usual, it's going to be much larger than I intended. Ella is adamant that we should invite "everyone we know". So I obliged, though made sure I told "everyone we know" to bring a contribution. Also as always, I'm sure the party will be organised chaos, which is what our friends have come to expect of us and - not to brag - the casual atmosphere usually results in good parties.

But reminiscing on the year past and skills that Ella has gained:

  • She writes letters very well. She will often write a random string of letters (with the odd number thrown in) and then asks me what word she's written. But after trying to pronounce the 5th nonsense word, I tell her to go copy existing words instead.
  • She can finally dress herself! T-shirts and dresses are usually on backwards, but I won't be too critical.

She can also:

  • Open the car doors from the outside
  • Put her sunnies on by herself
  • Close the zipper of her jackets
  • Use scissors quite accurately (as demonstrated by her opening a well-wrapped box containing her Xmas present the other day)
  • Draw recognisable figures (mainly fairies of course)
  • Operate the tv and dvd player without instructions or assistance (Finally! I've been trying to teach her since she was 18 months old!)
  • Use knife and fork to cut soft foods, like potatoes (I suspect she was capable of doing this before but never wanted to)
  • Ride her balance bike like a pro

Next year there will be many more milestones including starting preschool (2 days a week) and hopefully riding a proper bike (now hidden in the garage waiting for her birthday).

A merry christmas and a happy new year from both of us!

24 November 2008

Emo barbie meets punk barbies

I wasn't really listening to dd's detailed description of the public and secret life of fairy barbies, but I did switch on when she said:

Ella - And black fairy barbies like black clothes.
Me [nodding knowingly] - Ah, they're emo barbies.
Ella [without even blinking] - Yes, and emo barbies wear emo clothes.

I quite liked that image. Maybe I should sell that idea to Mattel.

And while we are on the barbie topic: if the makers of the fairy barbie dolls did not want kids to give their dolls a punk hairdo, they should darn well not have given them bright pink and purple hair.

But I did somehow feel obliged to reprimand my 3yo hairdresser in training after I discovered the pink and purple fairy hair clippings on the carpet. Which elicited a classic puberesque you-are-so-mean-to-me-mum outburst, with storming off in true dramaqueen style and all. Very entertaining. And it gave me an opportunity to explain - again - that being mean meant being angry for no reason. If mums were angry for a good reason - for example because the kid did something they knew they were not allowed to do, like cutting their brand new doll's hair with mummy's scissors - it was called 'being fair'.

13 November 2008


This morning in the car:

Ella - Hey mum! I don't do any accidents anymore.
Me - No. Um, well actually you had one last night, remember?
Ella - Yeah, but I'm bigger now.
Me - That's right. You're one day older now.
Ella - I'm not old!
Me - I said 'oldER'.
Ella - I'm not old, I'm young. You're very old mum.
Me - Thanks sweetie.

30 October 2008

Royal hair

I didn't put Ella's hair up as usual yesterday. Nothing to do with wanting to make a fashion statement. She was so uncooperative that morning that - when she would not stand still to let me brush her hair - I refused to waste any more time on getting her ready to go.

As I was cooking dinner last night, Ella wandered into the kitchen and thoughtfully said:

Ella - Mum, I think I'm turning into a princess.
Me [trying not to laugh] - You think you're turning into a princess?!
Ella - Yes. Because my hair is growing so long. That's why I am going to be a princess.

Why oh why did I not make that hair dresser's apointment when she seemed happy to have her hair cut to shoulder lenght, like her best friend's? Now she seems convinced that her hair will be her ticket to becoming royalty, I have definitely missed that window of opportunity.

28 October 2008

Fairy lady beetles

On the bike riding home:

Ella - You know mum, I saw a lady beetle at daycare today!
Me - Oh wow.
Ella - And do you know what colour it was.
Me - I do know.
Ella - No, I'll tell you what colour it was. It was orange. With black spots.
Me - Yeah, most lady beetles are orange or red with black spots.
Ella - And there are some special beetles. They are purple and pink.
Me - Wow, purple and pink. I've never seen those.
Ella - No, that's because they are scared of people. They are special lady beetles and they only come when it's dark. And they have little torches. And the torches have littel wings and they can fly!
Ella - Only I know that, mum. Camilla doesn't know that. Because I thinked it in my head.

27 October 2008

Love is a hot topic at the moment

Ella - I love you more than the world… [Pause] And the furniture!

Glad to know that contents are included.

Self-esteem is not an issue

As I was carrying Ella to bed after a long day:

Ella - No one is as beautiful as me!
Me - Oh, I think there are kids that are as beautiful as you, Ella.
Ella - Na-ah!
Me - I'm sure there are kids that are as beautiful as you.
Ella - Na-ah! Because they don't have this pretty dress.
Me - There are other kids with the same dress, you know. They can buy it at the shop.
Ella - But then they won't know the right size!
Ella and me simultaneously - But they can try it on.
Ella - And then they have to make sure it is this long. [Gets up to show where the hem of the dress is]

I think it is going to take a little while longer for her to realise that she is not god.

22 October 2008

Rosemary and hair

I sent Ella outside with her scissors to go cut me a sprig of Rosemary. When she hadn't returned after what seemed like an awfully long time, I stuck my head out and asked what she was doing.

The answer was: "Cutting my hair."

So I rushed over to grab the scissors off her and walked away saying quite angrily that she was not allowed to use them anymore, which of course made her cry.

It only took me a minute to realise that a) she looked hilarious and b) my emotive reaction probably wasn't fair fair on her, so I asked her:

Me - Ella, did you know that you're not allowed to cut your own hair?
Ella - No.
Me - Well, you aren't. When we want our hair cut, we go to the hairdresser.
Ella - Why?
Me - Because they are really good at it. And we're not. You have to go to hairdressers school to learn how to properly cut hair.
Ella - Oh.

It made me again realise that it is impossible to spell out all the things that she is NOT allowed to do. When I hand her back the scissors tomorrow, I will instead try to provide her with an exclusive list of what she IS allowed to cut.

And I'll make a hairdressers appointment today. Though it will take a while before it has grown back to a length that will allow a decent cut.

21 October 2008

Sugar, anyone?

This morning when we were getting in the car, with Ella dressed like this for dress-up day:

Ella - I love you, mum! I love you too much!
Me - Too much?
Ella - Yes, coz I can't show you how much. I can't show you how much I love you.
Me - Oh sweetie, that's just so sweet of you to say that!
Ella - I love you mucher than the world! Do you love me mucher than the world too?
Me - I do. I do love you more than the world.
Ella - Aww!

20 October 2008

Musical tastes

We watched Gabrielle Cilmi sing on Idol last night.

Ella - I really like her. She sings beautiful.
[short pause]
Ella - Am I still your friend?*
Me - Of course you are still my friend! You are Ella and I am mama. We like different things and that's a good thing!
Ella - But when I am big… when I am a mama, I will not like this music.
Me - Maybe you will. When I was a kid I listened to different music. They made different music then than they do now. So you might still like this music when you're a grown up.

Then I suggested I'd buy her the cd. Groan.

*I swear, I have no idea where these kind of remarks come from. I didn't think I came across as that judgemental!

17 October 2008


Ella has started drawing figures. Fairies mainly. When questioned why they didn't have arms she said they didn't need them. (They are fairies after all.) When asked why they had such big feet, she said "But mum! That's their shoes. And fairies have big shoes." I couldn't get an answer as to why they don't have bodies.

The second shape is their house. The little insect type thing is a baby fairy. The round thing at the first fairy's head is not a text balloon. It's her ball. When I asked how she was going to play with the ball when she didn't have arms I got a "The ball can play by itself" reply. Duh.

16 October 2008

Unconditional love

After dinner:

Ella - Can I have an ice cream for desert now?
Me - Oh, go on then.
Ella [walking out of the room] - I love you mum!
[Then quickly] - I don't just say that I love you because I can have an ice cream, you know.
Me - I'm so glad you said that, Ella.


Conversation in the car:

Ella - When I grow up I'm going to be a superhero, mum.*
Me - That'll be fun.
Ella - And then I'll be able to lift up really big stones by myself.
Me - That's handy. Then you can build a house for me.
Ella - Yeah!
Ella - Can I come live in your house too?
Me - Of course you can! You can live in my house whenever you want. (Will I regret recording this statement?)
Ella - Yay! I can't wait to be a superhero, mum!

* For those who did not know yet, Ella is currently a fairy and will be a superhero when she grows up. We decided that therefor fairies are really just superhero trainees.

13 October 2008

Economic policy for preschoolers

I got very angry this morning when I read about increasing the pensions and income support for poor families to "boost the economy". (I mean, the government thinks it's alright for the poor to struggle when the economy is healthy, but then we use them as economic fodder when things go pear shaped? Jeez!) I was so angry I got tears in my eyes. So Ella asked me why I was so upset.

I thought for a while and then came up with: "The bosses of the country only care about the poor people when they can make the rich people richer."

"Ah", she said and went back to watching ABC Kids.

12 October 2008

Do you feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?

Ella was sitting on the couch with me and 'new cat'.

Me - Ella, it is really time for bed now. It's very late already and we'll have to get up early tomorrow to go to daycare. And New Cat needs to go to bed too, because I can tell he's tired.
Ella - The cat says he don't want to go to bed.
Me - Now cat, you really have to go to bed now because it's very late and…
Ella - I want to say that!
Me - Ok.
Ella [looking sternly into new cat's eyes] - Cat, you still have to go to bed because it's very late.
[Carefully weighted pause]
Ella - Take a chance: naughty corner… or bed.

06 October 2008

Clever kids

At the coast on the weekend playing on the terrace railing:

Ella - I'm going to do something really dangerous. Something grown-ups can't do. Only kids can.
Me - Why can't grown-ups do it?
Ella - Because grown-ups aren't clever.

Have I ever mentioned she's a smartarse and a know-it-all? But I probably should do some work on improving her image of 'the adult'!

02 October 2008

Right and wrong

As I sent Ella off to bed, she asked me where "new cat" was.

Me - It's not here. It must be in your room.
Ella - It's not in my room.
Me - Look, it's not on my bed. Are you sure you had a good look in your room? Maybe it's under the blanket?
Ella (walking to the other side of the bed) - It is there! Look, it's on the floor!
Me - Well, I was wrong and you were right.
Ella - Why were you wrong?
Me - I can be wrong sometimes. Good, isn't it?
Ella (looking back at me from the doorway) - I'm never wrong.
Me - Yeah, I'd caught onto that.

25 September 2008

From the back of the car

In the car of Ella's best friend's mother on our way to see a Dora the Explorer live show, Ella and best friend were having a (very loud) conversation on the back seat.

I heard Ella say things like: "And at my home, I can play a little while when my mum cooks dinner. And then I get my plate and I go and sit at the little table in the loungeroom and I watch Dora while I eat my dinner." Of course I had to immediately let best friend's mum know that that really only happened occasionally and I braced myself when Ella launched into another "And at our home…" confession.

Then we had to pay a parking attendant for parking and Ella from the back seat loudly demanded to know: "Why are you asking us to give you money?!" I tried to shush her and then I heard her - still very loudly - say to her friend that "maybe the man's ears don't hear very well". Cringe!


Yesterday in our car driving home from the shops, I was grumbling to Ella about the lady who assisted us when we bought a vacuum cleaner and who obviously hates her job. I added that I personally wouldn't enjoy working in a shop either, that I thought it wasn't a very enjoyable job and that I hoped that she'll get a better job than that when she's a grown-up. So I asked her:

Me - What would you like to do for work when you're a grown-up? There's heaps of things you could do. You could be a nurse or a doctor, making sick people better…
Ella - I want to go to your work.
Me - Oh, no! You want to work at a computer?
Ella - Yes!

I'm a public servant. Admin staff. Really not the kind of thing you aspire to when you're growing up and not the kind of dream you have for your child when you think about their career prospects.

Me - There are much nicer jobs you could do. You could be a vet?
Ella - No! I want to go to your work!
Me - Or a pilot?
Ella - No! I want to go to your work!
Me - Fire truck driver?
Ella - I want to go to your wooooork!
Me - You could really work at better places than where I work.
Ella - But then you wouldn't be there.
Me - Oh sweetie, by the time you start working, I probably won't work at the same place anymore.
Ella - But you will!

I decided to leave it at that for now, even if the thought of having her work alongside me when I'm in my 50s spooked me somewhat.

15 September 2008

Toilet paper trees

I told Ella about being a bit scared of walking under old trees with the gale force wind yesterday afternoon.

Ella - I saw them cut down a big tree at the creche once.
Me - Oh yeah? Who cut it down?
Ella - A big strong man.
Me - Right.
Ella - Toilet paper comes from trees.
Me - That's right, they make toilet paper from trees.
Ella - They're going to have to cut down another tree at the creche soon.
Me - Oh yeah? Why do they need to cut it down?
Ella - Because the creche is running out of toilet paper.

I think it was mainly the delightful predictability as well as the serious way in which she said it that made me laugh out loud. But it was the frown that appeared on her forehead and the indignant tone in her voice when she said: "Stop laughing, mum!" that ended up turning a loud belly laugh into uncontrollable fits of laughter. I only just managed to sputter that her telling me to stop laughing always made me want to laugh even harder, but she kept looking at me with barely disguised vexation until I'd wiped the last tears off my cheeks.

Nothing like an ultra-logical preschooler for some comic relief!

Little Miss Bossy

I invited the 4yo boy from across the road to come play with Ella on Saturday, thinking that she might stop demanding my attention so I wouldn't have to interrupt my work and/or yell at her to stop yelling at me.

As it turned out, Ella was so bossy to him, that I ended up having to referee most of the time he was there. So I ended up getting this gem from him:

Me - Ella's very bossy, isn't she?
Boy - Yes. Even my mum isn't that bossy.

This one will definitely be used in any potential future wedding speech!

10 September 2008

I know what you did at daycare

Yesterday when I picked Ella up from daycare, I found her with 3 other girls digging in the dirt in a corner of the garden.

These were the same sweet little girls whom that same day I'd overheard having a conversation about their favourite colours being purple and pink and observed playing with fairy dolls with rainbow wings and light-up tiaras.

When I approached the 4 angelic looking creatures Ella told me:

- We're in a boat because the whole world has turned into blood!

The other girls nodded affirmatively.

I slowly backed away and fled to the kitchen.

30 August 2008

Road rules for nudists

Conversation today in the car:

Me - Wasn't it cool that we were able to be outside all day without a coat!
Ella - Yes, and it's going to get warmer and warmer and warmer.
Me - Until it's summer and it'll be too warm.
Ella - Then it'll be too warm for a jumper.
Me - Some days in summer it'll be too warm to wear a t-shirt!
Ella - Then we have to wear no clothes!
Me - We can't do that on the street! That's not allowed.
Ella - It is when you're on the foot path!

30 July 2008

Ham tree

I was talking to Ella about our vege patch. I am determined to get it ready for planting this year!

Me - And we'll plant tomatoes and beans and strawberries...
Ella - And ham!

Typical Aussie

We went to a zoo near Antwerp (Belgium) the other day and got to the kangaroo enclosure. Looking at the resting kangaroos over the fence, Ella grabbed her nieces hand and said: "Come, let's go to them now."

We had to explain that they were in an enclosure and we couldn't just walk up to them like at home.

06 July 2008

Too old

Ella was preparing to go to a dinner party a couple of nights ago and I heard her great-grandmother was going to be there.

Me - Do you know how old your great-grandmother is, Ella?
Ella - No?
Me - She's 93!
Ella - [Opening eyes and mouth wide in an expression of sheer astonishment] Wow! That's just too old! She should be died.

It was futile to try control my laughter. I did only just manage to say to her that she should never, ever tell her great-grandmother what she'd just told me.

05 July 2008

Funny fairy

Ella came home from daycare with a nice little bruise under her eye, which the carers said she'd got during their music/dance program.

Me - That's a nice bruise you got there Ella. Did someone bump into you when you were dancing?
Ella - No, noone bumped into me. I falled over.
Me - Did you fall over because you were dancing?
Ella - No, I just falled over. I wasn't doing anything and then I just falled over.
Me - [laughing]
Ella - Don't laugh mum, it's NOT funny!
Me - [laughing even harder because I try to stop laughing]
Ella - Stop laughing at me, mum!
Me - I'm not laughing AT you sweetie, I'm laughing WITH you.
Ella - But I didn't say anything funny. I'm not a funny fairy.
Me - Er... I'm just laughing because I'm happy.
Ella - You're so funny, mum. You make me laugh!

Pfew! Nice save...

27 June 2008

It's universal

Ella - You are the best mummy in every world!

Take that, parallel universe mums!

23 June 2008

Life in the fast lane

Me - Ella, you hardly ate any of your lunch today. Why's that?
Ella - Because we had to start packing up.
Me - That means you were eating too slow.
Ella - No, the clock was too fast.

22 June 2008

Politics and philosophy

Ella had a busy day yesterday. I interrupted chatting to our visitors to tell her it was time to read books. The argument that followed went something like this:

Me - Time to read books, Ella. Can you please go and choose 3 books and we'll read them here.
Ella - I don't want to read books yet. I want to play a bit longer.
Me - Sorry sweetie, it's way past your bedtime, you can play more tomorrow, but now we are going to read books.
Ella - No, I want to play!
Me - Well, if you don't go and choose books now, you'll have to go to bed without books.
Ella - I'm hungry. What can I eat?
Me - All I have is the bread we had yesterday. Do you want some of that?
Ella - Yes, I want that!
Me - But you'll have to eat it while we read books then.
Ella - No, I want to eat first and then read books.
Me - No, you'll take way too long to eat and it's very late already. Either eat while we read or don't eat at all.
Ella - I don't want to eat.
Me - Ok.
Ella - But I am right!
Me - Sure.
Ella - I'll go and choose books now.

I remarked to my visitors that this child would grow up to become a politician for sure.

We read books which suddenly made her so sleepy that she even admitted to being tired. A first. Even too tired to give cuddles, she told me. However, not tired enough to pass on our usual bedtime chat.

This time she wanted to know:

Ella - Mum, when is it going to be the end of the world?
Me - Do you mean the end of the day? (She's mixed these up before) This day will end at midnight, in about 4 hours.
Ella - No, I want to know when is going to be the end of the world.
Me - Errr, the world is going to end a long, long, long time after we have died.
Ella - But when?
Me - No one knows when. We cannot know.
Ella - But I think about that, you know.
Me - Why don't you think about something happy now?
Ella - I'll think about who's going to come to my birthday party.

Upon my return to the loungeroom I informed my visitors that this child would grow up to become a philosopher for sure.

13 June 2008


Every evening Ella declares her love to me when we say goodnight. She goes through a fixed set of phrases but often there's some variations too.

Last night it was:

Ella - I love you, mum! I love you today and tomorrow and all the days. And sometimes!

12 June 2008

More on marriage and gender

Today Olivia, a rather clever and bossy 4yo at daycare, kept calling Ella back to the gate when I was trying to get us on the bike to go home. The last of the very important questions she asked Ella was:

Olivia - So Ella, who are you going to marry?
Ella - Camilla.
Olivia - But she's a girl! And you're a girl too. And girls can't marry girls! So which boy are you going to marry, Ella?

At this stage Ella started speaking very quietly and I couldn't hear what the reply was. When I questioned her about it later, she said she'd said:

"But I want to marry a girl!"

So I told her that if she really wanted, she could marry a girl. And that she was free to tell Olivia that her mum had said that that was ok.

Half an hour later the topic came up again and - after having to tell her again that one cannot marry one's mum, or dad, or brother or sister - Ella declared that she would marry Camilla AND Phoebe because they are her two best friends. I had to break the news to her that you can only marry one person because that's the law. And we should try to stay on the right side of "the law". She started worrying about who Phoebe was going to marry then.

The rest of our conversation focused mainly on getting the point through that one does not have to marry if one doesn't feel like doing so. For example, I am not married and very happy that way. And some of our friends aren't married and doing very well too. Of course some of our friends are married and are happy that way too.

A bit of non-conventionalism and libertarianism never hurt anyone, right?

11 June 2008

About going under and bribes

Ella's been going to swimming lessons for nearly 6 months and still won't put her head under water. So I decided it was time for drastic methods: I promised her a lollie if she would put her face in the water in the bath! And she did without much hesitation. She had her lollie and when I checked on her 5 minutes later, she offered to perform the trick again, without even asking for a reward. Unfortunately she forgot to blow bubbles and got water up her nose.

I spent the next 20 or so minutes trying to persuade her to put her head under again. Not once did she say that she didn't want to do it, though she did mention that she was a bit scared but that she would be brave. However, she kept stalling. We went through the steps umpteen times. Then she'd get a sponge out of the bath and say:

"This is my map. I'll just check the map to see what I have to do."
"Err… [studying the sponge]… close my eyes, blow bubbles, close my nose, or leave it open."

She did this several times with several sponges. She got me to count to 3 several times only to bail out again and check the map or find some other distraction.

When the bathwater was getting way too cold… I promised her another lollie and 30 seconds later I watched her put her face under water again.

I am really not an advocate for edible rewards but in parenting matters, just sometimes the end does justify the means.

Gender confusion

Ella was playing with a travel game this morning, talking to the pawns as if they were people, when I found 2 of the pawns on the floor.

So I picked the first one up and gave it to her saying:

Me - "I fell down and I hurt myself!"
Ella - Oh, I'll give you a bandaid
Me - [Picking up the 2nd pawn] "I fell down and hurt myself too!"
Ella - She can have a bandaid too because she hurts she's knee.
Me - Her knee.
Ella - No, she's knee.
Me - No, it's her knee.
Ella - No, it's she's knee.
Me - She hurt her knee. He hurt his knee.
Ella - No, they're both girls.

I give up.

07 June 2008

Aww moment #207

I read out the invitation to Dan and Neet's wedding (yay!) to Ella today.

Me - It means Dan and Neet are getting married.
Ella - Why?
Me - Because they love eachother very much. People get married when they love eachother very much.


Ella - When are we gonna get married?

29 May 2008

Mum's such a wuss

I walked into my bedroom this morning to find that Ella had switched the tele to Channel 10 that was showing one of those horrible monster-fighting cartoons.

Me - Oh, that looks a bit scary, Ella.
Ella - It is scary for you, but it is not scary for me.

She's growing up faster than I am, it seems.

28 May 2008

After dark

This is the conversation we had last night when we started walking to the shops just after sunset.

Ella - Hold my hand, mum. I'm a bit scared of the dark.
Me - Why are you scared? What do you think may happen in the dark?
Ella - I don't know. Can you tell me?
Me - I don't know either.

Me - I was scared of the dark when I was a kid. But I'm not anymore now.
Ella - I'm still a bit scared of the dark.
Me - That's ok. Everybody's scared sometimes.

Me - Do you know what's the best thing about the dark? You can see all the pretty lights. Look, aren't they pretty? We can see the lights of the houses and the street lights and the lights of the cars. You can't see those when the sun is still up.
Ella - Yeah! I can see all the lights. And I can't believe my eyes. The lights are so bright.
Me - And look, over there you can still see the light of the sun that's just gone to sleep. See how the sky is all orange?
Ella - And pink, and red.
Me - And stars! That's great about it being dark too. I can already see a star over there.
Ella - Stars are round. And they have no stripes [I think she means 'points']. Even the tiny little stars are round, like circles.

Ella - I'm not afraid of the dark anymore, mum!

The Cat in the Hat epilogue

So I talked to Ella yesterday about the ending of the Cat in the Hat book as we were walking to the shops. I explained to her that if the Cat in the Hat (or anyone) would come to our house and made a mess, that she could always tell me that and I would never, ever get angry because of something like that. I used it as an opportunity to talk about her being able to tell me anything, etc. and it was a good feeling to have had that conversation.

But when I asked her the "what would you say if your mother asked you" question that night I got a "I would say that I played games, by myself."

I asked why she wouldn't tell me that the Cat in the Hat had visited and made a mess.

Ella's response: "Because the Cat in the Hat doesn't come to my house."


27 May 2008

The Cat in the Hat cont'd

I actually lay awake thinking about The Cat in the Hat at 1am this morning! (It wasn't what woke me up, if that makes you view me as less of a weirdo)

I decided that there really is something very wrong about suggesting the kids should lie to their mother - presumably to avoid punishment - when they obviously haven't done anything wrong! If they would've got up to some misschief themselves, I wouldn't have had such a problem with the 'lying to mum' thing, though I'm probably still the wrong person to openly condone that kind of behaviour.

But to encourage her to lie to me when someone else has caused the trouble is very, very wrong indeed.

I'll definitely have a good chat to her about this next time we read this book.

26 May 2008

Dr Seuss

We love Dr Seuss. I never tire of reading it out loud. They are not always the first books Ella chooses for me to read to her, but our new 3-in-1 book inlcuding The Cat in the Hat, The Cat in The Hat Comes Back and Dr Seuss' ABC has been her favourite too for the past few nights.

[For those who don't know the book:
it's about a cat who visits 2 bored kids while their mum is out and ends up turning the house upside down with his tricks and games. Just as the mother is about to walk in, he picks up all the mess and the mother doesn't suspect a thing when she asks her angelic kids if they had fun while she was out.]

The first time we read Cat in the Hat she seemed a bit confused by the "What would you do if your mother asked you?" question and I discovered she did not actually know the word 'mother'! I always get such a shock when I discover such an important gap in her vocabulary, which is rather large for her age otherwise. How could I have missed teaching her the word 'mother'?

Last night when I asked her "What would you do if your mother asked you?" her reply was: "I'd … err ... say that I … err … played with the cars!". It seemed strange to encourage her to lie to her mother!

The 3d story in our new book is Dr Seuss' ABC. I thought an alphabet book would be really boring and I'm not all that motivated to encourage Ella learning to read. I think there is plenty of time for that and she's better off to concentrate on social, motor and language skills for now. But this book is clever (and fun like all Seuss books are of course). I couldn't think of a better way to illustrate the use of the F than saying "four fluffy feathers on a fiffer-feffer feff".

We do have the same argument every night when we get to the page that lists the letters of the alphabet up to the P. For K L M N O P, Ella says "Kan Elle Man No P". And when I try to correct her she insists that the way I say it is not "the way it goes". I end up calling her a smarty pants, tell her very childishly that she's 3 and I'm 38 and surely I know the alphabet better than she does and I end up rolling my eyes and telling her that if she wants to believe she knows better than that's fine with me. Which it obviously isn't but I recognise that stubborn gene and I understand that no reasoning is going to change her mind once she's convinced she's right.

Duh moment #187

Ella was sitting on the back of the bike eating an apple this morning.

Me - Are you warm enough, darling?
[30 seconds silence]
Ella - Mu-um.
Me - Yes sweetie?
Ella - When you're eating, you can't talk.

I so knew that!

21 May 2008

How to handle a baby

We were riding home from daycare and Ella was on the back of the bike holding a little toy snake and chatting away to herself.

When I finally tuned into what she was saying, I heard this:

Ella - Waa waa. Baby, stop it!
Waa waa. Baby, stop it!
Waa waa. Baby, stop it!

Me - Ella, you shouldn't really yell at a baby like that. Maybe he just needs a cuddle, or maybe he's hungry or has a dirty nappy.
Ella - No, the snake just eaten all his friends.

I was genuinely horrified at this reply! The thought of the little imaginary baby who had just seen all his little friends being devoured by a monstrous snake and got no comfort from his mum and was being yelled at to stop crying on top of it actually made tears well up in my eyes.

I talked to her about the poor little baby needing a cuddle instead of a yelling at and the rest of the trip the dialogue from the back of the bike went something like:

Ella - Laugh baby, laugh!
Mum, the baby laughed.
Laugh baby, laugh.
Hahaha! You're so funny, Ella.

18 May 2008

How proud?

Well-done's and you're-such-a-big-girl's I use very frequently, but my I'm-so-proud-of-you's are used very sparingly in our house.

On the weekend I had a very good reason to use the P word. After a week of ever more frequent toilet accidents, things escalated last Friday night and I had to re-assess my reactions and think about strategies to put in place. But Ella insisted that she could avoid accidents without the help of the kitchen timer to remind her of when to go. I gave her one day to prove it to me before we got out the timer again to give her a bit of a hand.

She had no accidents the next day. When I told her I was so proud of her, she actually blushed, said 'thankyou' in an almost honoured tone and then asked: "How proud are you, mum?".

So of course I spread my arms as wide as I could to indicate my level of pride. But obviously, my arms aren't really long enough anyway.

14 May 2008

First swear word

Yesterday at the check-out in the local supermarket, Ella suddenly exclaimed very proudly: "Poo bum!" followed by fits of laughter.

It was so hard not to join in with the giggling. But of course I had to look stern and unimpressed and had the "things that are funny when you tell your friends are not always funny when you tell grown-ups" talk.

She just looked confused and I don't blame her.

06 May 2008

Girls rule!

I bought Ella a pair of socks that have the text "Girls rule" printed on them. I've been trying to explain what it means to her but I only get responses like: "Yeah, cos I'm a girl and I know the rules, don't I?". Hm, not quite the message I was trying to get through.

She learnt some other new phrases and words. One of them is "It's not the end of the world", which I have requested her to say to me when I overreact when things don't go as planned. Only, last Sunday - as I was frantically trying to make the most of a dinner that would not let itself be cooked the way I wanted it - she told me: "It's not the end of the day, mum". [Well, it is for me! I'm going to bed!]

Another great statement today was: "I like Stacey (carer at creche). She says silly things. I only do silly things." Is there an equivalent in English for the Dutch saying "self-knowledge is the start of all wisdom"?

And I forgot to mention our new catch phrase: "Peace possum party people, party people" from our new Blossom Possum book. A tough phrase to say even when you're not a gecko on party drugs. But it sounds pretty damn cool.

04 May 2008

The art of flattery

Me - Ella, I asked you to pack up these games here ages ago. Just look at this mess. Now I have to pack them up and I have so much other stuff to do... (and so on...)
[Pause] Oh my, just listen to me. Boy, I can nag! I am the best nagger, don't you think?
Ella - [chuckling] No, you're not. You're just the best mama.

She's going to go far in life, this girl.

01 May 2008


After Ella won a game:

Me - You won! And I lost.
Ella - But I'm right here. Look, I'm right here, mum. So you're not lost.

30 April 2008

29 April 2008

Growth spurt

Ella - When am I going to be as big as you?
Me - Well, both your mum and your dad started growing late. We were both quite small when we were in primary school and started growing tall only in high school. So I think you'll probably be the same. You'll only start growing tall when you go to high school, the school for really big kids.
Ella - So let's go there.

26 April 2008

D'uh moment #78

Me - Oh Ella, just look at your filthy face.
Ella - I can't look at my face, you know mum.

23 April 2008

Questions from the back of the bike

Question: Mum, when are we going to die?
Answer: Not for a long, long time. Most people die when they are very old. Older even than D and she's 75. Some people die when they are younger, but not many.

Question: Mum, why do you always say "dude"?
Answer: I don't! Do I? [Then I realised that I'd just said something like "Go on dude, are you going to go or not?"] Oh, I do when I'm grumbling and grizzling about cars on the road, don't I? I would never call someone I know that, so I suppose it's not nice of me to say that to people in cars.

Question: Mum, what's Tibet?
Answer: [In summary] China and Tibet are countries and the people from China stole Tibet from the people who lived in Tibet.
Question: Why did they steal their beds?

21 April 2008

Little big things

It's a posting frenzy today!!!

I just bought and downloaded the new version of From Little Things Big Things Grow recorded by Get Up. Once I hit play, Ella was drawn to the computer like a moth to a light globe. She first asked me if it was "Jim Butler". She still remembers that we missed John Butler's version of the song at the national apology event! Which is when I first sang the song for her.

(I do regret not wiping her face after that spaggetti and meatballs!)

Autumn outing

20 April 2008

The war of the torches

They erected the fencing along a major Canberra road in preparation for the Olympic torch relay in Canberra this Thursday.

I automatically made a comment about it when we drove past and of course Ella wanted to know what I said and why. So I spent a good 15 minutes trying to explain her:
the Olympics:
Me - It's a big contest in which people from all the countries in the world jump and run and swim and whoever wins gets a medal.
Ella - What does a medal do?
Me - Nothing. It just looks pretty and you can hang it round your neck, like a necklace.

and the torch:
Me - It's a stick with fire at the end. And some men and women will run through the streets with it. It's been all around the world, through different countries. And when it gets to China, they will light a big fire with it and that will be the start of the Olympic games.
Ella - Can we touch the torch?
Me - No we can't touch it. It would burn us! That's why we'll have to stay behind the fences.

I gave myself a pat on the back for resisting when I found myself about to start explaining to her about the pro-Tibet and pro-China protesters that will be present.

That night we were watching tv and happened to see an ad for the army. Ella asked me what they were doing, so I launched into an explanation of what the army is.

Me - When there's a storm and there's water in the street, the army will come and help. But they also fight. When people from another country try to hurt us, they'll fight with them so they cannot hurt us. (It felt wrong to say this, but what else could I say?)
Ella - Do they use fire?
Me - Yes, they use guns. It's called war and it's a really bad thing, but it happens.

About an hour later she told me this really confusing tale that featured torches, thunder and fire and I eventually concluded that she seemed to think that the torch relay would be about men and women fighting in the streets with fire. Which would be a whole lot more exciting than the event will be in reality. (Well, I hope a repeat of the chaos some other countries experienced won't prove her right!!!)

I think I got the message through to her that the torch relay and war are two completely separate things (fingers crossed anyway, haha), but I won't be surprised if daycare asks me what I have been teaching my child. And if I do end up taking her to the torch relay, she is bound to be very dissapointed!

16 April 2008


When we approached daycare this morning, the first thing I saw was a bright green digger digging trenches in the fenced off area that will once become the new baby room. Pretty exciting stuff for a toddler and - to be totally honest - for a 38yo mother of a toddler.

We did the usual putting lunch box/bag/coat away whilst discussing the colour of the digger (Ella: "That's my favourite colour!") and the appearance and disapearance of a second digger.

Then we joined the other girls (3-4yos, the 'big' girls) who were sitting on a row of little chairs about a metre from the fence, facing the construction site. I tied back Ella's hair while I chatted to the girls.
"Hey, this is just like watching television, isn't it?"
[To C who appeared - beaming - with a purple fluffy coat and matching hat] "Wow, look at you!".
One of the girls commented "You look nice and warm, C" and stroked the very furry coat.

Reluctantly I abandoned the conversation with my confident little sisters and I left while Ella ran off to get a ball like the ones the other girls were holding. It's important to fit in! When I looked back I saw the 6 girls sit there, on the first row watching the show and they looked so powerful and so perfect. Like an impressionist's painting of womanhood.

I'm finding it hard to describe. I really need that camera phone!

13 April 2008

Two good reasons to get a camera phone

Last Friday I picked Ella up from daycare and she was argueing with her best friend over who would get to pick up the beetle they'd found. I walked past them and went to sign the time-sheet when I suddenly heard Ella scream. I pulled open the door and there she stood crying with a massive bite mark on her arm, just under the elbow. I'd never seen a bite mark like that. It looked so gruesome. The indents from the teeth must've been a couple of mms deep! I was sure it was going to bruise, but 3 minutes and an icepack later, all that was left was a slightly red circle. Wish I'd had a camera to document the initial damage though.

[Also to film best friend coming in with a very glum face to apologise, Ella's spontaneous "that's alright!" after which she continued by conveying her excitement about the icepack to best friend who was for once lost for words.]

The other kodak moment was when Ella yelled for me after I'd just gone out to the backyard and on my return to the loungeroom I discovered she'd slipped behind the couch and was stuck between the wall and the back of the couch, only just preventing herself from dissapearing into the abyss completely by hanging on with her arms over the back. I glanced at my camera on my desk, but it didn't have the batteries in it and I didn't want to let her hang there for that much longer. Instead I just started laughing as I grabbed hold of her, apologising to Ella with a "but it looks so funny" and getting an indignant "it's NOT funny, mum" in reply.

I should get her to re-enact the pose for the camera, only I've already threatened to leave her there if she every gets herself in that position again.

01 April 2008

A day in the life of a superhero

Ella - You can be Spiderman and I'll be Batman.
Me - OK.
Ella - Spiderman?
Me - Yes Batman?
Ella - I'm eating an apple.
Me - Nice. [Silence] And what are you going to do then?
Ella - I'm going to climb up a wall.
Me - No, it's Spiderman who climbs up walls. Batman can fly. Like a bat.
Ella - Does he fly?
Me - Yes, he flies. He's not very good at climbing walls, I think.
Ella - Now you can be Batman and I'll be Spiderman.
Me - Ok.
Ella - Batman?
Me - Yes Spiderman?
Ella - I love you!
Me [laughing] - I love you too, Spiderman.
Ella - Now I'm going to climb up the wall.

19 March 2008


Ella - There's a hair on my kiwi.
Me - Yuck, I'll get it off for you.
Ella - It's one of your hairs.
Me - No, it's one of yours, it's blond.
Ella - And you have brown hair.
Me - And some white hair because I'm getting old.
Ella - You're not old because you still work.
Me - I suppose.
Ella - And when you are old then you don't work anymore. And then I don't have to go to daycare anymore!
Me - By the time I stop working, you'll have to go to work!
Ella - And then you can go to daycare!

16 March 2008

Were do very, very naughty animals go?

I was reading my paper and was not consciously listening to Ella chatting away to her toy animals until I heard her say:

Ella - And now you have to go to gaol, puppy dog!
Me - Did you just say: "Go to gaol"?
Ella - Yeah, the puppy dog has to go to gaol.
Me - Why does he have to go to gaol?
Ella - Because he can't talk.
Me - Err... do you know what gaol is?
Ella - No.
Me - Gaol is where you have to go if you've done something very, very naughty.
Ella - The puppy dog has done something very, very naughty.
Me - Oh yeah? What did he do?
Ella - He was hitting people.
Me - Oh ok. Fair enough. Because gaol is like the naughty corner for grown-ups.
Ella - The puppy dog is a grown-up.

14 March 2008

"We did it! Hurray!"

I have a love/hate relationship with Dora the Explorer. I love it because it is educational*, most of the DVDs have a Dutch language option (with second language English), it's interactive and it keeps Ella amused while I get dinner cooked. I hate it because all the characters always yell and can't do anything for themselves and it's extremely repetitive.

So usually, when I do pay any attention to it, I can be heard saying things like:
"No, I don't want to help you. Do it yourself!" (Dora: "Do you want to help us find Boots' squeaky toy?)
"Jeezes, is there something wrong with your eyes? It's RIGHT behind you!" (Dora: "Can YOU see the magic castle?")
"I think Dora needs to get her ears checked. We're yelling our heads off here!" (Dora: "Say jump! Say it louder! LOUDER!"

And I make a habit of giving the wrong answer to all her questions. Ella is so used to this that she'll just say: "No mum, it's purple/a square/five" and doesn't seem to think anything of her mother being so stupid.

In my defence, I do also try to encourage Ella to participate as that is what Dora is all about.

Yesterday Dora and Boots were trying to encourage the viewers to get up and jump over mud puddles to get away from some crocodiles. When Ella didn't react to their requests to get up to jump, I said: "Go on Ella, you have to stand up to jump."

Ella gave me one of those 'poor you' looks and said: "There are no crocodiles here, mum" and went back to her colouring in.

*[Certain proof that Ella learns from it, is that she now counts to ten with a Holland Dutch accent!]

11 March 2008


Scene: We're both in the lounge room and as I close the door, I see a spider hanging in the corner.

Me - Hi spider. Oh, it's dead.
Ella - The spider can't talk, mum.
Me - Well no, because it's dead.
Ella - Yeah and when we're dead we can't talk, can we?
Me - That's right.
Ella - I can do anything, because I'm not dead yet.

Keep that attitude!

08 March 2008

When fish fly

We were having desert with Ella's godmother in the city tonight and were discussing who was going to pay for it. Ella admitted that she would not pay because she did not have any money and so I would have to pay always. I broke the news to her that when she's a bit bigger, she can earn money too and pay for things.

What followed was our first "What do you want to be when you grow up" conversation. With an Ella twist.

Godmother - So what do you want to be when you grow up, Ella? Do you want to be... a fireman?
Ella - Nooo! I wanna be... a gumnut!
We - A gumnut?!
Ella - Noooo! Not yet.
Me - But what do you want to do for work, to earn money?
Ella - What do you do?
Me - I am err... an internet... err... I work with computers, Ella. But what do you want to do when you're grown-up, for work, to earn money? Do you want to be a doctor, or a cleaner, or a teacher, or a vet,...
Ella - I'm gonna be a fishie... that can fly!
[Demonstrates her idea by making swimming and flying motions with her arms]
Me - That's a great way to earn money! Because not many people have ever seen a fishie that can fly. I'd pay good money to see that!

So that's that then. I had dreams about her becoming an engineer, she wants to work in some animal freak-show. But you know, as long as she's happy...

07 March 2008

Knock, knock

First in a long line no doubt. So far she only knows one and never tires of repeating it.

03 March 2008

Carnivorous fairies

While we were camping at the Corinbank festival for 4 days, Ella and I had plenty of opportunity to talk while we ate or rested in our tent.

This conversation was probably the most bizarre one, and a tad disturbing, especially at a festival where animal rights activists were promoting vegetarianism and probably a large proportion of the festival goers objected to the killing of animals, for ideological reasons.

Ella - We are fairies. And we eat animals. So we are going to hunt for animals.
Me - Err... I'm not sure fairies eat animals.
Ella - Ye-eah. They eat animals, so we have to hunt for them.
Me - You know some people don't eat animals?
Ella - But we do.
Me - We do, but we don't need to if we don't want to.
Ella - But I want to.
Me - Ok then.
Ella - Now we have to go hunt animals so we can eat them.
Me - You know that hunting animals means that you have to kill them?
Ella - Yes, we're going to kill the animals so we can eat them.
Me - How are you going to kill them?
Ella - We have fire!
Me - Oh no, isn't that going to hurt the animal? I can't stand seeing animals hurt.
Ella - No, the fire is cold.
Me - Ok. So you're going to kill animals with cold fire. What kind of animal are you going to kill?
Ella - A snake!
Me - A snake? Do they taste nice? I've never had snake, so I really don't know if that's going to be yummy.
Ella - I don't know either.
Me - You do realise that once you've killed the animal you'll have to take it's skin off and cut open it's belly before you can eat it?
Ella - Ok.
Me - Actually, I don't want to kill animals. I just can't do it. That's why I buy my meat at the butcher's. I don't think I could kill an animal. I'd feel too sorry for them.
Ella - But there'll be more animals, mum.
Me - That's right, but only if we don't kill too many of them!
Ella - We'll only kill one. One snake. And then we'll cut it in pieces and put it on the table for morning tea.
Me - Oh no, you'll have to cook it first. You can't eat snake raw, I'm pretty sure.
Ella - Ok, we'll cook it and then it will be like fish!
Me - When we cook snake it will taste like fish? That's good then, because I like fish.
Ella - And we are big fairies, aren't we?
Me - Actually, I think fairies are rather little. Maybe we should catch a grasshopper to eat instead? Because fairies are little and they don't need much food.
Ella - Ok. We'll kill a grasshopper and cook it and then it will taste like shark!

18 February 2008


Background: We have an episode of The Upside Down Show on DVD in which Shane's hair gets very long (after visiting the very hairy room). He's a little apprehensive about going to the barbershop, but eventually conquers his fears and his hair gets cut back to normal length, ie. bald.

Me - We should take you to the hairdresser to cut your hair.
Ella - No! I don't want short hair, I want long hair.
Me - Yeah, we're not going to get it all cut off, only a little bit so it looks nicer.
Ella - No, because then we would be Shane. And we don't want to be Shane, do we? We want to be Ella and mummy.

I like being Ella and mummy.

Playing families

Ella (from the sandpit) - Do you want an icecream?
Me - I'd love one!
Ella - What kind do you want?
Me - I want er... coffee!
Ella - I don't have coffee
Me - Do you have er... banana icecream?
Ella - No, I have no banana.
Me - So what flavours do you have?
Ella - I have chocolate.
Me - Why do you ask what kind I want when you only have chocolate anyway?
Ella - Oh ok. I have berries, chocolate, strawberries...
Me - Ok, I'll have chocolate after all.
Ella - Here you go. It's a baby icecream because you are the baby. You are the baby and I am the mummy.
Me - (lick, lick, lick)
Can I have another one?
Ella - No, you can only have one.
Me - Waaa, waaaa! I want another one! Waaa! Waaa!
Ella - Ok baby, you can have another one.
Me - Maybe babies need to learn that they cannot have everything they want?
Ella - Oh. Baby you cannot have another one.
Me - Waaa, waaa, waaaa!
Ella - Oh baby, do you want a cuddle?

14 February 2008

Ella on tv

I watched all the news reports on the apology on Wednesday night, except for Lateline on ABC. But 2 people emailed me yesterday saying that they thought they saw Ella in the footage shown in the program.

I found the video on their website: Lateline report on the apology
And there's Ella scratching her nose. With 'new cat'. I love the way she appears when the voice-over starts the dramatic introduction: "To Canberra they came in their thousands, the young and old, black and white, from near and far." And they picked her from thousands of people to illustrate "the young"!

We watched it about a dozen times last night. I'm now trying to source a better quality copy on DVD. It's only a split-second appearance, but how cool is it going to be to watch this with Ella when she's older and when I can explain in more detail what it was about!!! It'll be like a 'personalised' history lesson. And undeniable proof that she was really there.

13 February 2008


As most of you will know, yesterday was a historic day here in Australia. The Government and Parliament formally apologised to the Aboriginal people for past wrongs, and specifically for the systematic removal of Aboriginal children from their families, ie. the Stolen Generations.

I started explaining the issue to Ella after I burst into tears last weekend when reading a story of a member of the Stolen Generation (it turned out to be the story that opposition leader Nelson quoted in his speech). Even though at first I found it too harsh to tell her why I was crying when reading the paper, I did eventually explain in very simple terms what it was about and that we should say sorry to the Aboriginal people to show them how sad we are about what happened to their children.

When I asked her a couple of days later if she remembered why we are saying sorry. She said: "Because we are very sad". When asked why we are sad, she said "Because the white people long time ago took the kids away from their mummies and daddies. And that was very sad. That was a bit naughty, wasn't it?".

The same night I interrupted our reading books to listen to the report on the actual text of the apology on the news and the one thing that Ella picked up and repeated to me was: "Mum, we have to say sorry to the sisters!"

Totally coincidentally she also found a book with Aboriginal stories on her bookself a few days ago and now I can explain to her that the Aboriginal people were already living here when the kangaroo did not yet have a tail.

This is an issue very close to my heart. I think some people may find it hard to understand why I feel so strongly about it considering that I wasn't even born in this country, have only been here for 10 years, am in no way related to the people who supported the forced removal policy then and my background could hardly be more different than that of the Aboriginal people.

You could argue that it is just my passion for social justice and that would definitely have lots to do with it.

But I think just the fact that I am a migrant gives me another reason to feel very strongly about reconciliation with the indigenous people of this country. When I first came out here - knowing next to nothing about Australian history - I got thoroughly confused when I tried to grasp this concept of 'white Australian' history only starting 200 years ago. I just could not understand how white Australians dealt with this geographically fragmented history. I grew up in a country where my forefathers were the firts humans to have lived on that land. And when I say 'land' I mean a tiny patch of it compared to Australia! That is why I feel I can understand when the Aboriginals talk about their connection with the land.

And that's why I think Aboriginal history is an important link in our (as in ALL Australians) connection to the land we live on. Personally, I feel that through learning about and connecting with Aboriginal culture I will allow myself (and Ella) to grow deep roots in this land. And so for me saying sorry for this most horrific result of the policy of assimilation is a first step in acknowledging how important their history and culture is to us.

So yes, I felt very excited and emotional when we drove to the lawns of Parliament House early yesterday morning to see Prime Minister Rudd deliver his historic speech on the big screen surrounded by thousands of people from all over the country. The speech and the way it was delivered by Rudd was impressive. It showed great empathy and leadership and a way with words that made Rudd's predecessors seem like grunting cavemen.

The Opposition leader, Brendan Nelson, did somewhat spoil the moment. I heard someone describe his speech as "going all non-sorry". I thought he was downright insulting. I saw a father trying to cover his 6yo son's ears when Nelson started to describe the recent rape and murder of a 4yo girld in an Aboriginal community in graphic detail. This was part of his defense of the intervention in the Northern Territory which I - and many with me - regard as barbaric and counter-productive.

I was very dissapointed that I had to leave soon after the speeches. While I was driving Ella to her dance class, my friend sent a text just saying: "John Butler". I swore. I love him and Ella knows his music too and it would've been so moving to watch him perform "From little things, big things grow" in that crowd.

But I'm glad we went and were part of it. I'm glad I will be able to tell Ella about this when she gets older and can understand more of the nuances. I'm glad to be living in Australia and yesterday for the first time ever I felt genuinely proud to be Australian.

I feel hope and yesterday felt like a new beginning for Australia and that makes me extra happy for Ella, who will inherit the decisions we make now.

11 February 2008

Pearls of wisdom... that I keep losing (or mis-using)

As a parent you soon store a bank of useful tips and tricks on how to deal with toddlers in the most effective way. Some are really obvious and get put into practice on a daily (if not hourly) basis, like being consistent, ignoring bad behaviour and choosing your battles.

Though even those require lots of practice and trial and error to make them work for your child. Being consistent and choosing your battles (they are inevitably linked) may seem dead simple, but paired to the fact that toddlers can be highly unpredictable and you are sometimes required to make split-second decisions, more often than not at the worst of times, can turn a simple practice into a minefield for the parent. I mean, you may regret a decision the moment you make it, but once you've voiced it, you need to stick with it no matter what. I can get very annoyed at myself in this process, which makes dealing with a tantruming toddler all the harder.

And other tricks are less obvious and come to you after a cathartic light bulb moment which may give you the euphoric feeling that your life (and that of your toddler) has been saved and you might be able to retain some sanity after all.

Unfortunately my brain is as messy as my house and time and again I forget to apply some of these pearls of wisdom I've discovered along the way until I suddenly rediscover how useful they really are.

One of those tricks I keep forgetting is the one I've mentioned in the dummy post: pre-warning. Seems pretty obvious again, and you do it automatically for out of the ordinary situations, like unexpected outings, etc. But what I keep forgetting is that sometimes the rule applies even in situations that don't obviously require it. A few months ago Ella got clingy at daycare drop-off. What got her over it was a simple chat in the car on the way over there about the details of the drop-off process. "We'll walk in, there are going to be some kids there already, what would you like to do when we get there, are you going to ride a bike, or go play in the sandpit? Then mummy's going to leave and you can stay and play and I'll pick you up again after afternoon tea" Worked a treat even though after nearly 3 years in daycare 5 days a week (and loving it!) you would think that she already knew the process. Never presume anything!

Another one that I have to remind myself of sometimes is to create opportunities for praise. Praising young kids to enforce desirable behaviour is pretty logical and becomes second nature for most parents. But there are times when it's not enough to wait for an opportunity to reward them to arise. The more you praise them, the less they push the boundaries, the more compliant they become. So I try to think up simple tasks for Ella to perform for the sole purpose of creating an opportunity to praise her. Sometimes changing the way I phrase things is enough. I might ask her to help me do something instead of just telling her to do something. "Could you please help me with cooking Ella? Can you put this spoon in the sink for me? Wow, you're such a great helper!" Easy to do, but also very easy to forget.

I suppose the good thing is that toddlers (at least mine) tend to keep you on your toes as a parent. You grow as much as they do and have no choice but to participate in the crash course in toddler handling that you have been volunteered for.

10 February 2008


We went to the Multicultural Festival today an ended up watching some dance performances. The first was a Japanese group from about 5yo to in their 20s. They all had big grins on their faces and the dancing was such fun to watch. As soon as they started Ella jumped up and started imitating them. Watching them and trying to hold her arms the way they did and jumping up and down with them. I was torn between watching the real dancers and Ella's mirror performance.

Next was a group of belly dancers and I was really looking forward to see how Ella would imitate them. She tried some of their hand movements, but looked rather puzzled at the hip swinging and when they all did a shimmy, she looked flabbergasted. When questioned later, they were her favourie performance. Though that seemed to have more to do with them entering the stage with baskets on their heads than with their dance moves.


After I had dragged Ella out of the supermarket because she refused to hop off the hand rail thing, she stopped to adjust her sandal outside and we had the most bizar conversation.

Ella - I'm not going to kill you mum.
Me - That's good.
Ella - Mum, is getting killed fun?
Me - Is getting killed fun? No, I don't think getting killed is really fun.

(For some reason I do enjoy responding to her questions in a lukewarm manner as if they are questions 'normal' people ask eachother all the time.)

06 February 2008

Nature and nurture

I have thought a long time about this post and it will be a long post. Bear with me...

It all started 10 days ago with Ella saying: "Mum, when I'm as big as you, I'll give my dummy to Santa."

Hold on, rewind. It all started when Ella was a few weeks old and I gave her a dummy for the first time. I was in tears. Torn apart by guilt. In the months and years that followed it became clear to me that the disrupted sleep (because of losing the dummy or interference with her breathing), the endless searches to locate the lost dummy, the arguments over when it was appropriate to use the dummy (eg. NEVER when talking!) did vastly outweigh the initial benefits than the comfort the dummy seemed (s-e-e-m-e-d) to give that tiny little baby or the respite it may have given me.

About 8 months ago, I took it from her during the day (for the second time). Huge tantrums ensued, but she adapted totally to the dummy-free days within 48 hours. I did not have the heart to follow the same strategy for the dummy at night though.

In the lead up to Christmas, I started talking about putting the dummy under the christmas tree on christmas eve so Santa could give it to a poor baby who had no dummy and leave an extra special present for Ella in return. She clearly liked the idea of it, but bailed out at the last minute and I know when I've lost a battle and so didn't put any pressure on her.

A few weeks went by until, ten days ago, we had following conversation:

Ella - Mum, when I'm as big as you, I'll give my dummy to Santa.
Me - You don't have to wait until you're as big as me. You could do it when you're as big as [insert name of 4yo here]. In fact, you can do it whenever YOU choose. It'll be your choice.
Ella - I don't need my dummy anymore. I want to give it to Santa so he can give it the babies who have no dummy.

I must admit that I looked sceptical, but I happily participated in the rest of the conversation which mainly revolved about speculation on how many babies Santa had, where she should leave her dummy so he could find it, about calling Santa on the phone (letters to the North pole are so passé) and what she wanted him to leave as a present in return for her dummy: a new cat, because she already had two bears and only one cat, so the new cat would even the numbers.

She went to bed without a dummy for the first time in almost 3 years. She got up to ask me for another last cuddle about six times and I was unusually lenient because I realised how hard this was on her. She finally fell asleep and I cheered (quietly) and celebrated this milestone with a glass of red in front of the tele. She had a great night sleep.

In the morning we called Santa (Thanks C!), gave him instructions and by the time we came home that evening the dummy was gone (did you know the North pole is actually at the top shelf of my hallway cupboard?) and in its place was a brand new cuddly cat.

That night things started to get ugly. Even though (or because?) she would not admit that she was upset because she missed her dummy, there was lots of crying and lots of reassuring to be done, and I even had to resort to sitting with her in bed for a while, something I have always refused to do (and not only for selfless reasons!) in the past.

The following two nights were pretty much the same. Last Sunday things escalated and she cried in bed for over an hour while I went through the whole gamma of pity, guilt, frustration and anger. The image of the dummy in the hallway cupboard kept haunting me.

There were some (you know who you are!) who questioned how long it would take before she got the dummy back. I replied I am so not raising a quitter. If she hadn't made the decision herself, I wouldn't have been as tough. But she did and I had to make sure she persevered. We stick to our decisions and we do not give up when the going gets tough.

Fortunately after that Sunday night I suddenly realised that - again - I had forgotten one of the most important rules when dealing with toddlers: pre-warning! The next nights I made a point of preparing her well in advance for the inevitability of going to bed without a dummy, lavished praise onto her and she went to sleep without protesting or crying. I've been sneaking into her room every night since to watch her sleep without a dummy. It chokes me up. Not only because she looks so perfect, peacefully asleep with 'new cat' tightly clutched to her chest. But also because she did it! She showed real perseverance, bravery even and she's only three! And because I felt proud of myself for helping her through it too. For helping her do something that would allow her to be proud of herself and to gain confidence in her own strength.

It resulted in me thinking a lot about what parenting is really about for me.

And it made me think of one particular story of my own childhood. When I was about eleven I heard for the first time kids talk about how they asked their mum for something and she said no but they would "nag and nag and nag until she said yes". They were all laughing about it and exchanging ways to wear their mothers down and I just sat their with my jaw on the floor in shocked silence. The thought had never occurred to me that one could do this. And it only took me about thirty seconds to realise that the 'one' in this sentence did not include me. When my mum said no, it remained no always. The decision was set in concrete, never to be changed again. I also very quickly decided that my life was a whole lot simpler (even at that young age simplicity was a state I highly aspired to) than theirs. I did not waste my energy on nagging and begging. I could spend my energy on accepting the decision (which, mind you, was by no means always fair from where I stood) and move on to other things.

In hindsight it was also ironic that the kids that were so proud of their manipulation strategies were all rich kids. The offspring of lawyers and plastic surgeons. And they grew up begging for things and even feeling proud of doing so. I was the poor kid in school and I have never begged for anything in my life. But this is not the right time or place to launch into a discourse on good old-fashioned labour class values...

I remember these - and other - constants from my childhood very clearly. I don't think it's really possible to learn which values to pass on to your children from parenting books or documentaries. I believe we all dig into our histories and from there source the values and principles that we believe made us who we are. These principles and values echo through generations. The methods we use to teach our kids these values do change over generations, but the underlying principles don't.

The idea that by teaching my daughter perseverance, I also prepare her to pass this gift on to her children and their children and so on makes me grow silent. I feel like I am just a link in a chain and I feel a huge responsibility to not break that chain and at the same time I feel a relief that I am not doing this alone. I have my parents, my grandparents, my great-grandparents behind me on this.

05 February 2008

The secret

At a party on the weekend, Ella's godmother whispered a secret into Ella's ear, which turned out to be "I love you". Then she asked Ella to go tell mum her secret.

Ella leant over to me, took a few seconds to think and whispered into my ear: "I love getting money and buying lollypops."

28 January 2008

The unbearable lightness of Ella

I didn't have much patience for Ella's impersonation of a tortoise as she was climbing into the car today. After my impersonation of a military drill sergeant, I apologised to her by saying:

Me - I'm sorry Ella, I'm just a bit grumpy today.
Ella - Why?
Me - Not for a reason, I just am today.
Ella - But you're so funny when you're grumpy, mummy!

When I assured her I would not be grumpy anymore tomorrow, she said in a disappointed tone: "But then you won't be funny anymore!".


Ella had just come out of the pool and was standing on the lawn with a towel wrapped around her, nibbling on a cracker and looking around when she stated:
"Men don't have hair, do they?"

I remembered I'd seen a bald man amongst the pool dwellers earlier, so I said: "Some men don't have hair."

Ella took a bite of her cracker, still looking around and then turned to me and said casually: "Shame, isn't it?"

I laughed for about 5 minutes.

24 January 2008

The medicinal properties of wine

I needed some cheering up after a very painful phone call to the tax office yesterday afternoon, so we had dinner in a restaurant on the way back from daycare.

Ella is such perfect company when we go out to eat with just the 2 of us. She enjoys every part of the experience and is a great conversationalist.

The funniest part of our conversation was after we did 'cheers' - me with a glass of red wine, she with her glass of water:

Ella - Don't you want some water too, mum?
Me - Yes, actually I'd better drink some. It's always good to drink water with dinner.
Ella - Yes, and beer is good for your tummy, isn't it? (I tell her regularly that the berry juice I give her occasionally is good for her tummy)
Me - Well, if you say so, it must be true. But this isn't beer.
Ella - Oh, what is it then?
Me - It's wine.
Ella - Wine is good for your tummy too.
Me - Oh good, because I like drinking wine.
Ella - I don't like drinking wine.
Me - That's good because wine is only good for mummies' tummies, not for kids.
Ella - Nooo! Juice is good for my tummy, not wine. (Pfew!)

Then, when I told Ella that we'd better go home because Luna was waiting for us and it was getting late, she said to the people at the table next to ours - who had not even looked at us, let alone talked to us - "Bye! We have to go now. We have to go to Luna. Because she is waiting for us. So we're going home now." She said this in an almost apologetic way because - naturally - everyone, even strangers, are sad when she leaves.

21 January 2008

Baby foxes

One of Ella's monologues in the car on the way home from daycare today was:

Ella - When I was a baby, you saw a fox, but I was not scared because I couldn't see it, because I was a baby and I sleeped and I cried and I sleeped in a bag...
Me - A sleeping bag. [I could just see her go around telling people I made her sleep in a plastic shopping bag when she was a baby]
Ella - And I sleeped in a sleeping bag and I sleep with my dummy and I was sad because I couldn't swim then.

The fox... I once told her that there are foxes at the lake but that I last saw one when she was only a baby. She came up with all sorts of questions and statements about her interaction with the fox and I've had to explain numerous times since then that she couldn't have been scared of the fox because she couldn't have seen it, etc... But she is utterly fascinated by this story for some reason.

Which is interesting to me because I very vaguely remember a slight obsession with foxes when I was very little. I once thought I saw one run up the stairs in our house. I must have been about 3 or 4. And my favourite book at that age was about a fox.

The only book I've read Ella that has a fox in it is The Gruffalo. Since then she looks out for foxes 'in the woods' and is somewhat scared and attracted to them at the same time.

Apart from her interest in foxes, she is currently extremely fascinated by stories of when she was a baby. So the combination of her two favourite topics makes for a story she never tires of.

19 January 2008

The barbie quest

My mum had put a barbie doll in the latest parcel she sent us. It looks like a really old one.

Ella immediately knew it was a barbie and was quite happy with it. Though all she has wanted to do with it so far has been to take her into the wading pool with her. For some reason she seems to think it's a water toy, maybe I encouraged that, I can't remember.

Anyway, so I decided to look at Barbies and similar while I was at Toys-R-Us anyway today. Oh my god! I knew I'd be disgusted, just hadn't realised how much worse it had become since I was a little girl. The unlikely body shape is still the same, but if Barbie used to look like the dream American housewife, she now looks like the quintessential call-girl! More make-up than facial features and very revealing clothes. I couldn't find one Barbie or similar doll with more than about 20% of her body covered. Oh, except for the princess ones in their long glittery dresses, but we don't do princesses either. She/we will never be treated like royalty, so I don't want to put funny ideas in her head. I know, I'm cruel...

So I decided to make it my quest to find a barbie doll alternative with clothes and without make-up! I like a challenge. I finally found a Mary-Kate and Ashely doll somewhere that was fully clothed and had very subtle make-up and looked somewhat natural. Her bodyshape was probably still far from average and she was wearing heels, but definitely a step in the right direction. I had no idea who Mary-Kate and Ashley were until I googled it, but it's highly irrelevant anyway. Especially since I decided at the register that I should stop buying Ella so many toys and put it back.

The quest continues.

17 January 2008

Family legislation, article 31b

We were having a discussion last night about whether or not Ella should be allowed "something else to eat" (read: something sweet and unhealthy) after she'd finished her dinner. I insisted that she should not be allowed to because I was pretty sure she'd been feeding some of her dinner to the dog when I had walked out of the room. Walking out of the room and leaving her alone to finish her dinner is my newest strategy to try prompt her into eating faster/at all.

Ella - Can I have something else to eat now?
Me - No, because you didn't eat all your food
Ella - But I did eat it all, look!
Me - No, you gave some to the dog, so you did not eat it yourself.

[The same arguments were used a few times until Ella realised she wouldn't get anywhere with that line of defense and changed her strategy…]

Ella - But I'm very nice?!

I'm proud to say that her making me laugh did not tempt me to cave in on this one.

The dinner rules as of yesterday are now:
Dessert/biscuits will only be distributed if said child:
a. eats most of her dinner
b. without the assistance of other people of animals

Dinner plate will be removed immediately if said child:
a. Gets up from the table without parent's permission
b. displays clearly anti-social behaviour towards parent or pet

If child does not show clear signs of progressing with eating of said dinner:
a. parent will retreat to other room or outside area
b. dog will be removed from room in which dinner is present also.

And so I keep fine-tuning our family constitution in my capacity of family dictator. One day I'll publish our lawbook, maybe for Ella to use with her children in a far and distant future?

15 January 2008


Ella - Mum, I have jellies in my mouth and in my tummy. And they don't want to get out.
Me - Jellies?
Ella - Yes, jellies.
Me - Do you mean germs?
Ella - Yeah, germs.

07 January 2008

Great absurdity

Last night, after we unpacked a parcel from Belgium and I allowed Ella to eat two different types of bikkies and let her use her new scissors to cut up some left-over wrapping paper, Ella declared:

"You are the great mummy!"

Yep, that's me: Mummy the Great. Though I immediately realised that it is hard to believe the authority of someone who a little earlier in the car on the way home forced me to get involved in this conversation:

Ella - But what are we going to do with all that cheese??
Me (unaware that the topic of cheese had been mentioned at any point during that day) - What cheese?
Ella - All that cheese! What are we going to do with it?
Me - What cheese?
Ella - I don't know. But what are we going to do?
Me - Where is the cheese?
Ella - In our loungeroom at our home.
Me - (Finally giving up on trying to stick to the facts, being 99.99% sure that we do not have a large amount of cheese sitting in our loungeroom) - I don't know. What do you think we should do with all that cheese?
Ella - We should eat it all. Because I have nothing else, so you have to eat it all!
Me - Ok then.

Then she sang her rendition of the 'Incy wincy spider' song, made up a song about cauliflower and had a conversation with her monkey about catching crocodiles ("Because crocodiles are dangerous, that's why we have to catch them").

So Mummy the Great thinks it is probably wise to take anything Ella the Great says with a tiny grain of salt.

(I keep thinking of Dylan Moran's "What are children? They're just drunk midgets!" quote.)

05 January 2008

Away with the fairies

I never was into girly things, let alone fairies.

But at the end of a day of walking around with fairy wings and garland, passing compliments on fairy attires, getting excited about fairy face painting and pink fairy cake and being well fairied out as a result of 5 hours of that, I did swell with pride when my partied-out, sugared-out, smeared-facepaint-faced and dirty-and-sticky-from-top-to-toe 3yo birthday fairy called me 'the best fairy in the world'. And suddenly I realised that, my whole wasted life, it is all I ever aspired to be.

04 January 2008

Surf chick

We went camping at Mystery Bay at the South Coast for 3 days. Overall it was a fantastic experience and Ella proved to be excellent company.

She adapted so well to living in a tent, helped me where she could and seemed to enjoy the whole experience. Especially the beach of course. Last time we went to the beach in November, she seemed to get bored with it fairly quickly and needed to be entertained. She wouldn't go in the water unless I held her hand and even then she panicked when a slightly bigger wave came. This time she played in the waves on her own! She only went knee-deep and ran away from the bigger waves, which was heaps of fun. She fell over in the water a few times, but got straight back in. She sat down to dig holes while the waves washed over her body. And she laughed heaps. It was such a joy to watch her having so much fun. And it was such a joy to be able to relax without feeling guilty! Being the social butterfly that she is, also made her gravitate towards other people in the surf, which adds some extra security.

She told me about 50 times how much fun it was, going camping.

Though the first night - after our first trip to the beach - we had this conversation:

Me - Are you happy we are camping at the beach?
Ella - Yeah, I'm very happy.
Ella (serious face) - Let's not do it again though.
Me - What do you mean?! Don't you like camping at the beach?
Ella (very cheeky grin) - Yea-eah!

03 January 2008

Much talk

I have been getting complaints about my blog not being updated regularly enough.

I think the main reason is that I cannot keep track of all the funny things Ella says these days. To demonstrate, these pearls of wisdom from Ella while we were stuck inside our tent in the rain on a camping trip to the coast yesterday:

Mum? I talk good. I'm a good talker.

(5 minutes and 500 words later)
Mum? I talk much.

So she does. I should carry around a notepad and pen all the time...