Oh-love rascal

We have just come back from a family weekend on Waiheke with nyna. Grandad, aunty and yaya are in Napier because great-grandad has been having nose bleeds and in hospital. He’s home and much better now though…

Olive had a great time. Olive loves her nyna so much, she was happy to have nyna cuddle her in the night and nyna took her off for an adventure to Allison’s so mummy and daddy could sleep in. Bliss. Olive ate pancake and didn’t look back for mummy for a moment. She loves the beach, running away from the waves and chasing the seagulls in her “streamline” position (arms out the back). She found a German tourist drawing pictures in the sand with a stick, made friends with him and scored her own drawing stick. Lots of digging in the sand. Koka is good at digging too, what a team.

The other thing the team got up to involved playdough. Green playdough. Olive was playing kinda reasonably with it, when Koka ate the lot. Then spewed it all back up – everywhere. Yuk! Daddy had to clean it up – eeewwww.

Olive found the metal corkscrew at one stage and came walking towards mummy holding it, point upwards, right beside her eye saying “eye eye eye” mummy didn’t fright, just quietly took it away and put it up high. Trouble!

Back home trouble comes in the form of an open freezer and large hunks of butter for a little girl and her bad dog. Koka loves the baby, well little girl now really.

We’ve been practising our “mahunga, pakuhiwi, puku, hope, waewae (x3), taringa, whatu, ihu, waha e. More she says.

This weeks biggest milestone, however, was sleeping for 8 hours! yes – 8 hours! Olive, not mummy, who lay awake for an hour waiting… waiting… Olive was in her cot in the other room for the first time. A light flicked on. The anticipation for the next night was palpable, but wore out at 10.30 with the first wakeup. Ah well. Tonight she is in the little bed beside mummy and daddy’s bed, so we’ll see how that goes.

It all began with mama calling time on the twilight (and beyond) feeds. We had a talk, mummy and Olive, and mummy told her that she couldn’t have bebe until 5am (after 2 weeks of every hour). Olive woke up at 9.30pm and cried in mummy’s heartbroken but resolute arms, for half an hour. Then nothing but sleep until 3am! Cracked!

Olive (“Oryo”) has 65 words now! She is on fire, and learns a new word pretty much every day. This week she cracked the three word sentence “Oryo big poo”. She was right too. Enormous and stinky.

She can identify blue (and sometimes red) and has fed herself her whole dinner. She is growing up so fast.

Cluck cluck cluck mummy.

I love you sweet Olive xxx

A photo history of a young eater

A slip in time

We do have a good excuse for the long absence… Mama is not just a mama anymore. She’s an official got a job, self-employed, money-earning mama. And how the house has changed. Dada has also joined the ranks of the wage earners, and suddenly we have transformed from a no-income family to a two-income family with deadlines and alarm clocks and reasons to get dressed in the morning!

Mama is working three days a week from home ESW LAW Ltd. Oh yeah! And Dada is working as a real-life, bona fide, product designer, five days a week. Astounding! Olive is in the safe hands of Alicia while mama works and after a tough start with quite a few tears she is now in a fully-fledged love affair with Alicia’s, two-year old girl Aia.

We are trooping on with Playcentre two days a week, which Olive and mama both love. The kids are great, the centre is choice and Olive is learning and climbing and developing into a talking, running, dancing lovebaby.

The tumultuous times took their toll on the littlest Stenhouse, with about a month of crazytime in the nights – 2 or 3 hours of grizzling and wizzling and driving mama and dada up against the wall, over the roof and jumping for our lives. This has calmed down (to save us all) with the emergence of two glistening molars through her 14 month old gums. And Jesus were they are hard time coming!

Olive is the light of our lives. She is so amazing, her personality is shining now. With talking and listening and doing so much. This last week her new trick is to do all the actions to “if you’re happy and you know it” we do clapping our hands, stomping our feet and patting our heads.

Olive has so many words, many of the most well-used show her personality!

Dog, mama (mummy), daddy (dada), duck, uh-oh, turtle, nyna, granddad, nana, poppa, yaya (Xavier), no, up more, more more (milk), beebee, Aia, Koka, Ta (Taaaaaaa!), date, peas, bottle, hot (+blowing), baby, ball, boat, bath and probably more. She is so talented!

Her animals sounds are a hoot

She can also now do lizard, farfalla, tractor, fire engine, car, giraffe and pussycat. Proud? Never!

Our new cousin / nephew

And we have a cousin! Xavier Anthony Fitness born on the winter solstice, 21 June 2010 at 8lb 2oz (not to be outdone by Olive, he chose to equal her) but so long – 56cm – he’s off the chart.

We love him so much. We wouldn’t mind squishing him up and eating him.

Our BIG trip

It seems so long ago now, but I am making a concerted effort to remember, through the sleep-deprived haze of my brain, what we did on Olive’s big trip…

First stop was Dubai, a beautifully behaved and charming Olive tottered about the airport and found a glass wall to play with. Her mama and nini were completely soaked in rejected pumpkin from the time we left Auckland. The second leg dragged but before we knew it we were in London having a big hug with Great-Aunty Ruth. Off we then went to Huw and Suzie’s where Daisy and Maya had crafted a gorgeous and welcoming Olive-themed feast.

Tired but excited we started our adventure with a big kip and some nighttime wandering in the hallway. It was so amazing to see all of our cousins and (great) aunties and uncles, who had all come over to meet the sweet Olive. Nini was so happy to see all her siblings and show off her Olive. We hung about with Ruth and the Burgess-Ahwais for a few days and then off to John and Jayne’s where we ate delicious Vietnamese and got the Oxford update and Olive charmed Menna. Then we hopped on the plane again and off to France we flew.

Dodo had feathered a nest fit for a Queen Olive, with custom made rompers and all the trimmings. David loved having the four generations of Burgess women all together. Nini basked in her element.

We ate the most delicious food, visited the beach and Nime and made lots of little party crowns for Olive’s birthday. We went to the markets in Sommieres and imagined a continental life. The village is something else, it is like a step into another world. So ancient, beautiful and solid. We loved the whole shebang. Olive had a great time trying to get up the stairs and pushing Dodo’s vegetable basket around. Dodo got up in the middle of the night with a jet-lagged Olive and danced and sung and who knows what else. What a treat for them both.

Then we returned to London for the briefest stop and mama and Olive took a 48 hour whirlwind viaggio to visit la nostra famiglia Italiana. Olive charmed them all, our birbante nipote they called and by the time we came to leave Maurizio was claiming Olive should stay!  As soon as we arrived Olive was eating spaghetti and impressing everyone. We went to Tolentino town and mama reminisced in a weird kind of déjà vu feeling 15 years old again, but with my baby. We saw my old school friends and ate gelato. Tolentino is like a time warp, except that Camilla is a young woman and Francesca is nearly a doctor. Olive seemed to know that the language was different and mama was told that I am no longer understood, it was frustrating to not be able to communicate, but such is life.

Back to London a swim at London fields, watching Eamonn’s band perform (Olive in the Ergo), down to London eye and up the Tate before a Greek lunch somewhere fancy and mama is definitely coming back, this time for good (well a few years good) just got to get daddy on board.  Lebanese with Ruth and some shop-shop-shop-shop-shopping to break the bank. Olive kept on trying to get up those stairs at Huw and Suzie’s but Erik Roberts put paid to that – she was terrified!

Before we knew it, it was time to leave and we had to say a goodbye laced with promises to return soon. Ruth is on the hunt for houses for mama and dada to buy and plans for Olive’s activities next time. We can’t wait to go back, it was the greatest trip and it was so special to reconnect with our family, and of course introduce (and show off) the star of the show, Olive.

Olive was less tolerant on the trip home, but we made it, if only in one piece. Our ears on the other hand…

Olive the Monkey

In four hours Mama and Olive are going to jet off with Nini to the UK for three weeks, we haven’t packed but if the blogging doesn’t get done the blogging doesn’t get done. We are so excited about going to meet all Olive’s great-aunties and great-uncles and Great-Dodo and Great-David. Mama is slightly less enthusiastic about the 30 hour plane trip its going to take to get there (and back). Dada is going to miss Olive so much (and Mama to a lesser extent), he is excited about the three weeks of sleep he is going to get though! Unheard of! Olive likes the night-times, she likes to wake up and see what’s going on frequently. And this week she cut her big top tooth. And it hurt. A lot. In the night.

Olive has emerged from her chrysalis and is a big, walking, talking, laughing, dancing, banging,climbing, pointing, flapping three-toothed spaz monkey.

This is Olive at the SPACE course we were going to at Playcentre, it was for babies so we quickly upgraded to real Playcentre which is a feast of amazement for wee Olive. It is just so cool. She goes from the sandpit to the easel to the playdough to the dress-ups to the music to watching all the big kids in a morning. Then she crashes into a lovely slumber to recover.

A masterpiece. Olive’s first painting. Taking bids.

Olive’s favourite pastimes are climbing, bebe and reading books. Climbing can take many forms – chairs, nappy bucket, dog, stairs – anything that gets me higher is her motto. Lovely Koka puts up with it all:

In this case it was to get to the dresser drawers. The other thing the dresser is good for is standing on top of the cupboards to get to the shelves. How you do this is to climb onto the armchair, then onto the little round table then onto the dresser. It’s awesome and dangerous.

The bebe, well the love affair continues. The funny thing about bebes is that Dada has them too. His are so silly and useless, Olive knows this – she has tried to suck on them but nothing comes out. So now she gives them a wee scrunch and then just points and laughs.

She can read too, our Olive. She points out the dogs, cats, ducks and mice in the books and she can turn the pages. Angry turning is how it goes.

The other thing Olive loves is the pools. Loves the pools. She can go under and kick and splash big splashes. It’s great.

Eating, is low on the list of favourite activities. There are preferred styles to eating – in the bath is still number one. Standing on the Olive Chair is a pretty cool way to eat, or standing in the little wooden trolley. Sitting in the highchair. Phh. No. I. Will. Not. Eat. In. The. Highchair. Take. Me. Out. Right. Now. Ok, I’ll eat, I’m happy. I win.

A quick learner is our Queen. In one proud hour she conquered the freezer (Koka was on hand to provide moral support), the nappy bucket – unpacked and then the rubbish bin. Wow it opens and there are so many treasures inside. Yikes! This can add to my repertoire of climb, climb, unpack bookshelves, unpack washing line and washing basket, try to climb into the paddling pool, eat some stuff I find on the floor. Up the step, down the step, eat some dirt. Where’s the dog water bowl? I want to climb in there. Go inside my house Dada made. Smile, laugh, find Mama or Dada. Pick me up I’m ready to start again.

Since our last blog we’ve been on some more holidays. We had grannies week in Whangapoua with the Bunby sisters and their progeny. It was beautiful and hot and Olive swam in the sea and played in the sand with her cousins and more cousins. Then we went back to the Coromandel for Niki and Duncan’s wedding, which was glorious and Olive learnt about card sharks. We went to Dada’s cousin Justin and Chianti’s Cambodian wedding. We went to the zoo and saw some cool animals like elephants, giraffes and orang-utans. Olive’s favourite was getting out of the pushchair and hooning about. And we went to Waiheke to see Nini and Grandad. They took Olive for a swim.

Olive can say lots of words – Mama, Dada, Ka (as in Koka), Nehnehnehnehnehneh, Ta (give me, take from me, I want it) and Dog. She can point to her teeth and Mama’s teeth and can strum her bottom lip.

We are so close to our holiday and when we come back Mama is going to working for herself as a barrister (www.eswlaw.co.nz) and big, fat pregnant Aunty Yani is going to be looking after Olive (if Dada is working). Then Olive will get another cousin. She can’t wait. Stefanie gave her a second cousin this week – Fletcher – who unexpectedly popped out at home! Go Stef!

Well, we’re about to go. So better back. One last meal for the air for little Olive, then its bebe bebe and more bebe. I’m sure she won’t complain!

Mama’s loves.

The Monkey.

A big surprise

Olive and Mama found this big box in the garage. We inspected it closely to discover it contained an amazing and addictive climbing chair from Dodo! Olive loves the chair, although has no intention or interest in sitting on it…Its for me!

Having a good explore

And a peep.

This is my throne.

I am cheeky and victorious.

I love my Olive Chair.

Beautiful Summer, beautiful Olive

Mama, Dada, Olive and Koka are having the most wonderful Summer altogether watching our delicious Olive grow into a little girl. She has changed so much and her personality is starting to shine. She is happy and determined, and so smiley. Busy. Oh boy she has some busy to do. We have all been so busy with holidays and activities and swimming and seeing friends, it is such a luxury for us all to not be working.

So, December, we went to our two Christmas parties at vineyards – one in Kumeu with Women’s Health Action (Mama is on the Trust Board) and the other with LawWorks at Te Whau. Doing pretty well for a girl out of work! Olive was a star and loved all the attention. We then went to Olive’s first dress-up party where she got to strut her stuff as a pirate! Unfortunately she wasn’t allowed to eat any of the party food.

Then the festive season began and we all went over to Waiheke for a holiday with Nini and Grandad (who were still working). Most of Grandad’s family came for Christmas and loved, loved, heaped the LOVE on Olive. She was the star attraction and became accustomed to have a cheering, enthusiastic audience at all times.

Olive had her first Christmas, which started with a stocking in Nini’s bed, trying to get what she could from Grandad’s bebes. Not much really. In true baby style, Olive was more impressed by the puppies, wrapping paper and tree than the phenomenal stack of loot she received. She does like the nose of Basil Brush and the stacking rainbow blocks and pegs, which are chewy and yum (and hopefully painted with lead-free paint). Olive chowed down on some yummy mangoes, strawberries (absolute favourite) and still didn’t get any of the good stuff like pudding.

Olive loved the beach, the sand was yum and the sea was fun. The sea added a salty note to the bebe, which was popular with Olive the bebe critic. Dada did a lot of fishing and somewhat less catching, he did come home with a blue cod which we made into a scrummy breakfast. Olive had Leyla, then Holly, then Arlo and Toby to visit, which was choice because Olive loves kids. She watches them like a hawk. She must be figuring out how she’s going to play that big kid game. Impatiently she waits to grow up.

To bring in the New Year Mama and Dada went with Aunty Yani, Uncle Nick and Jesse down to Onetangi for some fireworks and to gawk at the drunk teenagers. Olive stayed with Nini sound asleep well before midnight. For her own celebration the next day Olive decided to eat a little bit of her own poo, which made her throw up several times. No matter, it all looked the same as the silverbeet and apple puree she was eating at the time!

We came home for two nights and then headed down to Aotea for the Stenhouse clan holiday. We went via the greyhound dog races where Mama had a punt on the geegees and pineapple pie. Yum. Olive took her debut in the Judge’s seat specially for Grandad.

Aunty Amanda and Uncle Andy have bought a house on seaside in the sleepy little village. Mama and Dada floated down the current and Olive paddled in the paddling pool with all her cousins. Koka was in heaven, having gotten rid of the puppies and then arriving at a free-for-all-dogs beach across the road from the house and where she could chase whoever she pleased and take a dip when it suited her. Dada did lots more fishing and a little more catching, this time a big snapper and some flounder. We all got tans and Olive had her first growling when she kept on pulling Emma’s hair until she cried. Olive the Brute. The last few nights were sleepless with Olive teething and battling a cold she picked up in cuzzie-land. The drive home was less harrowing than the drive down due to Mama and Dada’s plan to leave at 4am to beat the daytime backseat car blues/ tears/ screams of thunder that we had on the way down.

Home again for a few days and then up to Tawharanui to stay at Tom Cotter’s farm, where the little family all slept peacefully on a mattress in the back of the car. Olive ate some sand and charmed Mama and Dada’s friends who all commented on how much hair she has now! On the way back we stopped in for a visit with Felix, Linda and Otto (Olive’s betrothed) and ended up staying in Coatesville for the night with them. Then we spent a day with the Rabbits who were up from Wanganui and we went to Parnell Pools with Rach and Molly while Dada went to see Avatar at the Imax with Pete. Such a life of lush leisure we are leading.

A wedding on the weekend where Olive was a charmer and a trip to the Whatipu caves before Olive the Brute struck again frightening wee Maia into the corner with her hair pulling. Olive the Brute also left a lovely poo on the deck for Maia who had invited her in for dip in the paddling pool (which the babies plotted and executed a joint escape from).

Now we are home and Olive is sleeping. Mama has learnt that too much chocolate for pudding means a bright-eyed crawler chatting away at 3am. Mama has also learnt that Olive doesn’t need all the bebe she has been getting in the night and with a few pats on the bum sleep soon returns. All those sleepless nights sucking may have been in vain, probably not though. Happy baby, happy Mama. The grand plan of Dada settling Olive in the night had a troublesome first night with a sad baby calling for her Mama, and Mama saying persist, she’ll get used to it, only to discover the little toothy peg had popped through in the night. And so continues the guilty and endless conveyer belt of motherhood. The tooth has come though and what a sweet tooth it is, all of the pain and the grumbles and the gnawing and the homeopathic spray (oooh yum yum says Olive) was worth the shiny gleamer (we hope it is anyway, not much to see yet, just can feel the tip of it). Why don’t we just cut all the gums open and be done with it? Maybe someone knows, but Mama doesn’t. Ouchy might be the reason.

Our little Indian. Sometimes its an angry Indian…

Koka is learning her lot is a new lot which includes a grabby handed Olive pulling at her eyes, her ears and claiming fistfuls of fur. She tolerates it like a true labrador, even the patting in the water bowl and the kibble stealing mid meal is going by without a second glance. Lovely and soon to be long-suffering Koka-dog.

The busy little butternut is eating now, as she pleases, where she pleases – in the bath, naked. On the swing outside. In the pool, Ok. In the highchair. Um. No. No way. Standing on the bench? Sometimes. I can open the drawer. Yeah. Chase me Mama and I’ll eat. Maybe. The sweet tooth may have arrived but we are still managing to sneak in some lentils and silverbeet. Tonight she had apple, almond butter and rice milk for pudding. In the bath. Yum. The best thing about eating in the bath, from Mama’s perspective, is that all the spitting out of water, food and general mouth contents that Olive is rehearsing and loving (and Mama and Dada can’t help laughing at) is contained!

And also the big girl does poos on the toilet. Just like the big kids!

Mama and Dada are the luckiest people in the world to have our beautiful little peahen.

Ministry of Health breastfeeding promo shots


7 months fast

Olive, the superbaby, seems to have transformed from our teeny tiny new baby to a big, lovely, not so babyish baby. A small (very small) child. She can do so much (its all relative right?) she can crawl, climb up to standing, squeal SQUEAL and SQUEAL, wave, play ‘hup’, the xylophone and ‘ta’, eat food that doesn’t come from the bebe, swim, eat puppies, play with her friends. Oh and read, write, sing and compose operas. Yes yes very boastful. It is so amazing to me that this little person has learnt so much in just seven fast months.

On the 4th of November, Olive turned six months old and celebrated by eating her first (official) food (we don’t count the sand, paper, dirt, dog hair etc). It was kumara and ingested to an audience of doting family members singing “happy half-birthday to you”. She spat most of it out. It was all a bit exciting really, mama felt like Olive was taking her first tiny step in the other direction. It probably will get a lot worse for mama’s separation anxiety. Mama was hoping for an overnight dramatic sleep change session, but no. No change to the every 1 – 1.5 hour routine. It was getting tiresome by this point.

On that day she also showed the first sign of teeth in her top gums (which seemed to take a lot of the nighttimes making Olive grumpy) and took her first few slightly coordinated crawls. The next night she fell out of bed. Oops. Nini and Mama were in the bed (Nini saving her back, Dada in his ‘flat’ (spare room) santuary of rest) and in the middle of the night Olive waahed (which she never does) and Mama startled awake and dug around beside the bed to find her wee critter who had somehow been squeezed out. So after that we put the cot up right beside the bed to make an Olive cage out of the bed.

Our business news is that we went to our first all day conference (on the Cartwright report) and Olive was a champion cutie-pie, she cooed and wriggled on her Dodo mat at the back of the room and didn’t seem to piss anyone off! Amazing.  Dada finished his degree. Forever. And got an A for his final project, which was featured on the morning news show. No job yet though, fingers crossed… Mama finished her duty solicitor course and so should be able to go on the roster in February one day each week. Olive has kept up her appointments with the SPACE program at Playcentre and Wriggle and Rhyme at the library. All things created equal.

Our travelling news was the most exciting news of the past month. It began with Mama and Olive flying down to Napier to spend a few days with Nana-G and Grandad-G and the Japiwi rellies. Olive loved the trip and the attention, even though she missed out on the chocolate icecream Nana-G wanted to give her “come on, just a little lick won’t hurt her”. Mama was still food-precious at that point. We did the showing off rounds and Olive performed like a perfect monkey – all smiles and cooing.

We were back home for a few days and Olive learnt how to climb up (on Dada, which quickly became climbing up the bars of the cot), Mama did her duty solicitor assessment (pass with flying colours) and Koka had her puppies – three little brown, blind moles. The puppies have been named by Rico: girl – Mrs Bones, girl – Snoozy Moo, boy – Rico the Kind of Avondale, the King for short.

Then Mama received a text message at 3am on Sunday morning “Ringo Rabbit is on the way!” – Rachel was in labour. What to do? Get in the car and drive to Wanganui. Eight hours later we arrived and met Baby Bunny Rabbit (Molly Mae) who is so precious. We stayed two nights to soak up the new baby waves and then missioned back to Auckland, much to Olive’s dismay.

We were home for two nights, had Dada’s graduation show (- YUS! He was the star of the show and his product was featured on the Good Morning TV show, even though they kinda broke it) and then we were off to Japan!

Disaster strikes the night before we left with Olive up most of the night crying (which she has never done before) and we realised two hours before we were due to leave that she had developed a fever. Oh no! Mama was exhausted beyond imagination and felt like getting on a 16 hour plane trip as a standby passenger was not the behaviour of a rational and sane decision-making mama. But off we went anyway, Dada on his peaceful, direct, Air NZ flight and Mama on her crazy journey with a sick babe. We made it and discovered it was totally and completely worth it. So much fun!

We stayed for a week in a ryokan in Asakusa, the Japanese ladies swooned over Olive and Olive gawked in awe at all the lights and watched all the little people ants from up high in buildings. We tripped around each suburb looking, poking and prodding. Olive loved the train and learnt to catch someone’s eye and they would love her. Then she would squeal and maybe squeal some more. She picked up some Japo baby slang, but her favourite was standing naked eating at the little table. She loved us all sitting on the floor at her level. She ate some pretty exciting things – raw fish, pickled radish and white bread to name a few. She had an exciting experience with the sugar bowl, her mouth and her hands and sugar all over the table while Mama and Dada watched the morning news simultaneously on TV for two seconds. But most of all she spent a lot of time in the ergo – on the front, on the back on the hip. Poor bubba got a bit over it if the truth be told, she’s got all these great new mobility skills that she was just itching to try out. Olive would pose for photos with complete strangers each day, and we learned that if we lived in Japan with all the rule-keepers Olive would be adored day in day out.

Then we got home (another exhausting, but not hellish trip home) and took a big breath of fresh air and soaked in the glorious sunshine. Since we arrived home Olive has become afraid of Koka, she doesn’t like the doofs in the face and when we say Koka she looks around in nervous anticipation. But the exciting part of this is that she recognises the word Koka!

Olive has had her first trip to Parnell Pools with Anna, Maia and Aunty Yani and then today went to Pt Chev beach for her first swim in the ocean. She loves the water,  just like her Mama. We are set to have an amazingly fun summer… And then she learned how to do poos on the toilet. Just a little grunt and Mama sits her on the seat and away she goes. So clean.