Thursday, 14 August 2014

Dear Juniper - 11 Months

Dear Juniper,

You are, right this minute, 11 months (and a few days) old.

I'm sorry your letter is late this month. I think it's just because I'm having trouble believing that you can be this big when just a few moments ago two nurses wheeled you into my room, you were in a white onesie with colourful animals, it was way too big for you, and you looked like a doll, your sweet lips pursed together. They undressed you while I ripped off my gown, skin to skin with you for the first time was the most amazing moment, you slowly unfurled yourself across me and rooted for a nipple. It was 6 hours after you were born, but that was the moment I was born, as your mother, your protector, your safe haven.

The speed at which the last 11 months have zoomed past makes me so happy that we choose to adopt attachment style parenting. I feed and rock you to sleep, I get to watch your eyes slowly flutter closed as you suckle. You still sleep on my chest every day. You sleep beside me every night. Sometimes I think it would be nice to put you in a cot and clean the house, or sit and drink tea and knit, but the closeness we have and your needs and comfort are more important than fleeting desires for a clutter free bench. There will be years for all that, there's only mere moments for this attachment.

You march around the house now, waving whatever around you can find, chattering loudly and banging things together. You're so sure of yourself, even when I have no idea what the purpose of your activities are, I'm sure that you do. You're careful and deliberate with all that you do. Everything is fascinating to you at the moment, it's a joy and a privilege to watch you discover your world.

I'm so grateful you chose me, my little bug, thank you.

Love, Mumma.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Dear Juniper - 10 months

Dear Juniper,

You are, right this minute, 10 months old. Isn't that awesome!? Double digits!
You've changed and grown so much in the last month. Your main new trick is walking! Two weeks ago you took three wobbly steps into my arms, and you've been practising hard ever since. For a day or two afterwards you pushed your play gym back and forth across the room, to help with your confidence I suppose, but now you just go for it. You walk a lot better when you have a something in your hands, like a book or a toy. I'll never forget the hilarity of you holding a green spoon, pointing it right at me, and waddling sideways across the room. I laughed until I cried, you looked like a pirate who'd switched her sword for a spoon.

In the same week you learnt how to clap. I don't think many babies learn to clap and walk in the same week, you're an early walker but a late clapper, and that's ok! One night you were looking for some milkies and gave a round of applause as I unclipped my bra for you. I felt so appreciated, my boobie monster!

A relief to your bookworm parents, is that you've started enjoying listening to books! Yay, books! You don't just eat them any more, you sit down and listen, and then try to eat them.

We've been going on some trips in your pusher, which is a relief for my back as you're getting bigger and heavier. I think you like being able to see where you're going, you stay mostly still and quiet when we go for our walks, occasionally babbling quietly to yourself as we go.

A final milestone this week; your first cold. You're coughing and full of snot, just like me, but for the most part it hasn't dampened your spirits. It breaks our hearts to hear your chest rattling, but we know that you'll be fine in a few days, and your immune system will be the better for it. Get well soon Junebug.


Mum and Dad.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Dear Juniper - 9 Months

Dear Juniper,

You are, right this minute, 9 months old. Isn't that fantastic!?

I'm loving this age so much. You're sweetness and fun and such a character. You interact and chat with us more than ever. You're not saying any words yet, but you're very vocal and loud. I wish I knew what you meant when you ooh, and aaah, and angrily chatter about this or that. Soon enough I will. We think you might be saying "Dad" with purpose, but we're not sure. You're so cheeky now, we build towers with your blocks and invite you to knock them down. The look you give when you grin afterwards is the perfect mix of cheek and pride.

We went to our first Wiggle and Giggle session together last week, it's half an hour of singing for babies and toddlers at our local library. There were a lot of babies and adults there, a lot more than I expected, and I thought maybe you would be overwhelmed a little, like I was, and maybe sit on my knee. Maybe even snuggle while we sang and swayed. But I should have known better. You are fiercely independent and you are fearless and confident. You paid little attention to the woman singing at the front of the room, and focused your attention on playing with as many shoes as you could get to. I spent the half an hour letting you crawl until you were nearly out of reach, then dragging you back to me amid squeals of protest. Afterwards I let you crawl free while someone blew bubbles for the older children to catch, the older children and you. You, in the middle of the scrum of toddlers towering over you. You, dodging stamping feet and lunging at bubbles. You, being you. You being amazing.

As I'm writing this you're sleeping between my legs. This is how you nap now, and I'm fine with that. I read, or write, or crochet, while you snooze. You nap like this because you refuse to be rocked to sleep, and if I lay down  to feed you, you know what I'm up to and roll away. So you feed sitting up while I rock you, and when you drift off I settle you down, your head against my knee, your legs tucked under my other leg. Cosy and safe, in the ring of my legs. I'm in no rush to have you sleep alone, I love this time. I love to feel you breathe, and watch your face. You sleep against me all night as well. I can't imagine having you further from me.

You're growing and learning so quickly my love. I hope I can keep up.

Love, Mumma.

Friday, 23 May 2014

How to Spoil a Baby

I often read warnings or worries about spoiling babies. As far as I'm concerned there's only one way to spoil a baby.

It isn't with kisses and hugs and affection.
It isn't with comfort and singing and love.
It isn't by offering the breast as a solution
To sadness, boredom, hunger, or fear.

It isn't by rocking or feeding to sleep.
It isn't by sharing a bed, or by wearing a sling,
Really, the only way you can spoil a baby,
Is by storing it at the incorrect temperature.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

21/21 Days

If you follow me on Instagram, you will know that 21 days ago I set myself a challenge. After realising that I was only leaving the house on weekends with Matt, or if I really needed something from the shops, I decided to leave the house every day for 21 days, because it takes 21 days to break or build a habit. I've suffered from agoraphobia in the past, it was quite severe and for a time I struggled to even go out to the washing line, so while I wasn't exactly afraid of going outside the house any more, I could feel myself falling into old habits and making excuses to stay in my safe place. I can't let that happen again, not now that it's not just me, I can't do that to Juni. 

So today was day 21. I did it. Getting dressed didn't feel overwhelming. I didn't even think to worry about June having an attention-drawing meltdown. I didn't freeze up when someone walked towards me. I didn't cross the street to avoid people. I just walked around my neighbourhood in the beautiful autumn sunshine with my baby strapped to my chest. 

It was so lovely doing this challenge in autumn, the changing colour of the leaves has been amazing. I walked past this tree nearly every day, it wasn't until I compared photos that I realised that winter is nearly here. 

I'm sure I won't leave the house every day from now on. No-one does, do they? I'll have grumpy days, sick days, and it's-just-too-cold-to-go-out days. But I'll be really trying to keep this habit, it's so good for my mental and physical health to get some fresh air and sunshine. Now to decide what my next challenge will be! 

Friday, 9 May 2014

Dear Juniper - 8 Months

Dear Juniper,

You are, this very minute, 8 months old.

We still call you a baby - "the baby", "that baby", "will this baby ever be quiet?!?" - but at this point we're just trying to convince ourselves. You're getting bigger, more mobile, and more independent all the time. In the last few weeks, you've started playing by yourself a lot more, and babbling to yourself as you do it. I love listening to your babble, filled with more and more consonant sounds as you learn to make new shapes with your tongue. I can't wait until you can talk to us; I always wonder what you're thinking, how you're feeling. It feels like you'll start any day now. In the meantime, you yell and shriek, shout and cry, and sometimes crawl around with your lips sucked in humming 'mmmm, mmmmm'. 

This month, you've decided that you don't like going to sleep. Each night I put you in the carrier and walk you around the hallway while your mother has her shower. I then slowly sneak into the bedroom and rock you for another fifteen minutes or so, then gently drop you into bed next mummy. You feed for another ten minutes, and about half the time you wake up again and Zoe has to rock you back to sleep again. Sometimes, you like to wake up at 2am and crawl around babbling and shouting to us. We call this "party time". When party time comes along, I oscillate between amusement and tired frustration. Even at 2am, your conversation is delightful!

It's starting to get cold in Canberra, and you and I are experiencing our first real winter together (your Mumma is made of tougher stuff, having grown up in chilly western Victoria). Wrapping you up warm enough is becoming more of a challenge, particularly as being dressed and undressed is one of your principal dislikes. You can be the happiest, smiliest baby in the world, but the moment we try to slip one of your limbs into or out of an item of clothing, you act like you've been pricked with a pin. Here's hoping you grow out of that one soon.

You are the light of our lives, the centre of our little family and our world. Our chief delight is watching you grow into yourself, physically and mentally, more and more as the weeks go by. When I come home from work, I'm always eager to hear about your day's exploits. I'm convinced that by the time the next one of these letters is written, you'll have taken your first steps (you're already a proficient furniture-cruiser). Then, we'll really regret moving into a home with stairs.

With love,


Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Dear Juniper - 7 Months.

Dear Juniper,

You are, right this minute, 7 months old. I know, I don't believe it either!

You continue to be sunshine and rainbows and flowers and joy. Except when you're not. Except when you want something and it doesn't come quick enough. Except when you've had enough of your high chair. Except when you don't want to go to sleep. Except when you fall and hurt yourself, which seems to happen with frightening regularity as you expect your body to perform beyond its abilities. Except for those times, you're pure sunshine.

I can't say that I mind very much that you can be demanding and cranky at times, because do you know what I know to be true? It's the demanding and cranky women who will change the world. You'll demand your equality, and you'll let the world know if you don't get it. You're a spunky little thing, you're feisty and strong, and I love it.

Your strength and physical abilities are really quite impressive. I try not to be *that* mum, going on about what my kid can do, because the truth is whether you walk at 9 months or 18 months, no one will know the difference when you're 5. But, well, you're a little bit clever. In the week after 6 months, you started to pull yourself up to stand against the furniture. It was such an effort, you'd grunt and strain, and pow! Standing! Within a week you could manage that with no worries at all. Last week you started standing up alone. Not by letting go of the furniture, but by just popping straight up in the air. Your legs wide, almost as wide as your grin. Your record for standing is about 15 seconds, after which time you plop back down on your nicely-padded bum.

You don't like sleep very much. Or more to the point, you like milk a lot. You're fed on demand, and you demand often. I don't mind the frequent feeding, I know it's why you're so big and strong. The 3am party times wear a but thin though; you're quite sure that it's a great time for cuddles and bouncing and fun. Your mum and dad, sleeping on either side of you, are not. Your joy is infectious though, and before long your daddy and I are stifling giggles. 

Oh Juni, I can't believe the wonder you're becoming. I can't wait to watch the woman you will become.

Love, Mumma.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Vegan Muffin Recipe With 7 Variations

There has been an epidemic of sorts in our house lately. A muffin epidemic. Twice a week or more they get mixed up, plopped into the liners, and plonked in the oven. They’re easy, and they're versatile, suiting a myriad of fruits, fresh or canned, nuts, seeds, or chocolate chunks. This is the basic recipe, with a few of the variations we've made over the last few weeks.

Base Ingredients.

2 ½ cups of plain flour.
2 tsp baking powder.
¾ cup raw sugar, more or less depending on the size of your sweet tooth.
½ cup desiccated coconut.
2 Tbsp cornflour mixed into a paste with 2-3 Tbsp soy milk (this is your egg replacer).
½ cup vegetable or canola oil.
1 ¼ cups soy milk or your favourite non-dairy milk.

Heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Mix together dry ingredients.
Add wet ingredients and mix well.
Add the fruits and nuts of your desire, stirring carefully if the fruit is delicate.
Plop into either a 6 cup Texan style tin or a 12 cup regular muffin tin.
Bake for 20-30 minutes for 12 or 30-40 minutes for 6 large muffins, until golden on top.


Cherry Vanilla Muffins – Add a cup of fresh pitted cherries and 2 tsp of vanilla essence.

Peach and Basil Muffins – Add a cup of roughly chopped tinned peaches and a handful of fresh shredded basil.

Blueberry Muffins – Add a cup of blueberries, frozen or fresh. Add them at the end and don’t mix to much so you don’t break them up.

Double Choc Muffins – Add ½ cup of cocoa with the other dry ingredients and ½ cup of roughly chopped vegan chocolate at the end. You may need some extra soy milk because of the cocoa.

Choc Chunk Banana Muffins – Add a mashed banana and omit the cornflour paste – the banana is now the egg replacer, and half a cup of roughly chopped vegan chocolate.

Banana and Walnut Muffins – Add a mashed banana and omit the cornflour paste – the banana is now the egg replacer, and half a cup of walnut pieces.

Apple Cinnamon Muffins – Add peeled and chopped apple, and 2 tsp cinnamon.

Up the nutritional value of any of these variations by adding ¼ cup of pumpkin and/or sunflower seeds. 

Happy Baking!

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Farrer Ridge - Canberra Nature Park

I live in a valley. The lovely things about living in a valley are the sunsets, the morning fog, and that there are lots of hills to climb. Any direction that I choose to walk, there’s bound to be a steep incline or a slow rise, the reward at the end of which is a view; a beautiful view of all the mountain ranges which surround the Canberra region.

The first time I walked to Farrer Ridge, it didn't occur to me that it’s a ‘ridge.’ And I live in a valley, remember? Which meant that my leisurely afternoon stroll quickly because a sweat-fest as I slowly, slowly, plodded up that ridge. I considered turning back several times, looking at the road stretched out in front of me. This is ridiculous, I thought, why would they make a road this steep?! But my stubbornness kicked in and I plodded on, June strapped to my chest and a bag on my back, and I made it up that hill.

I try to walk up the ridge at least twice a week. There are lots of entry points, so I try to head a different way each time, but I think I’ve found my favourite. The incline is the steepest, but it’s over quickly, and once you reach the top the grassy plateau stretches out before you, a path leading into the scrubby bush. There’s a few up and downs, a bench to enjoy the view, and then back down the other side.

I haven’t explored a lot of the ridge yet; I know there’s Farrer Hill to climb, as well as several other tracks up and down and around the peak. Once I can reach the top without huffing and huffing I will explore further - it’s a bit of a walk from our house so by the time I get there I’m often ready to go home again.

When I lived in Perth, I lamented the fact that there wasn’t any bushland close to my house. I love bush walking, I love feeling small and insignificant and alone (although now never alone with June strapped to me). We’ve been living in Canberra for just over two months now, and I think it’s spoiled me. I don’t think I’ll settle for living further than a slow plod from the bush again. 

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Dear Juniper - 6 Months

Dear Juniper,

You are, this very minute, 6 months old. That's half a year!

Your Uncle Alex, Granny, and Grandaddy are here for a visit this weekend. Uncle Alex pointed out that today you were as far from your birthplace as you've ever been. We looked at him, a little confused. In terms of the solar system, he explained. Oooh, of course, in terms of the solar system. But it's true, you're on the other side of the sun, half a lap, one of many laps around the sun. Even though in 6 months time you'll be back where you started, in terms of the solar system, there's no going back. You're zooming forward, growing and changing before our eyes. You have one little tooth now, it appeared this week after much drama and tears and sleepless nights. You've started on a few solids, some banana, cooled cucumber to gnaw on to sooth your gums, some beans, some carrot. Your favourite food is still your milkies, I hope it continues to be for many years.

You continue to amaze us, and everyone, with your tenacity and eagerness to be active, to get going and moving and running and jumping. Well, not quite running and jumping, but you are definitely on the move. Your crawling technique is flawless, you zoom across the floor after any cat who happens into your eye line. Luckily for them you're often distracted by something before you reach that tempting tail. Your latest trick is to try to stand up using a box. It's a file of our important documents. Somehow you found it one day and you're obsessed with it. You put both hands on it, hauling yourself up, feet firmly planted. Then up and down, up and down you go. It ends with a squeal, as you push up and fall down, with a plonk, on your nicely padded bottom. I tried to put the file away and you immediately started to try and climb the couch. I decided to give you the box back, it seeming less hazardous.

You are an intense little creature, constantly moving and squirming and crawling and pulling down books and banging on windows and chasing cats and pulling down my shirt, looking desperately for your milkies. The only time you're still is when I'm moving, which is why when it all gets a bit much for your Mumma, I strap you into our mei tai and get outside and moving. We live in an area with a lot of hills, and I'm really enjoying plodding up them. I'm a little slow, but we get there. You're still, taking it all in, twisting to see cars whizz by, gazing silently at people as they coo and try to get you to smile. I suppose because I've been carrying you since you were the size of this - . (a full stop) you don't feel heavy to me, despite you now being nearly 10kg. I stopped and talked to an older woman last week, she said how lovely it must be for both of us, to have you so close to me. It is lovely, I told her I'll carry you for as long as I can, she smiled and said that after that I'll still carry you in the same place, in my heart. That's just where you belong, my Juni.

I hope you enjoyed your half-birthday, surrounded by people who just adore you so. I've never seen your Grandaddy gaze at something with such affection. That's the power you have, you spread joy to everyone around you. Here's to another joyful month, my love.

Love, Mumma.

New Beginnings.

Hello world,

Welcome to our little corner of the internet.

We are starting this blog to share our adventures in parenting, vegan cooking and baking, gardening, crafting, and anything else lovely that takes our fancy. Our names are Matt and Zoe, and our daughter's name is Juniper. We have 3 beautiful cats, who have been slightly terrorised by the arrival of Juni, they are Maisie, Daisy, and Zelda. If you read my previous blog, agiraffeinascarf, you will be familiar with these three!

I hope you will join us in this new adventure.

- Zoe. xx