Play Baby Play: Ball Games

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Apparently, I like a bit of a challenge, so when I recently came across a box set of fifty baby play ideas, I thought I would try to work through the whole box by Little Birdie’s (LB) first birthday. The first card I selected was “ball games”. The card said I should roll the ball to the baby, stand baby up and use her legs to “kick” the ball and line up paper cups, cardboard boxes or egg cartons to use as skittles.

To be truthful, the challenge is just as much for me as it is for LB. I want to keep putting in my best effort for her and this helps me to stay creative and enthusiastic, even when I’m feeling tired and a little stuck in a rut. I made sure I was prepared for the challenge by asking my husband to purchase a packet of disposable cups with the weekly groceries.  The cups he brought home were clear plastic, making me a little concerned about how LB would react to them. Would they seem like a target, even though they were clear? However, I pressed on regardless. I had visions of a giggling baby as we played our little game and my heart warmed at the thought of it.

I found a little mini soccer ball that we got with some sunscreen that we purchased recently at the beach and I set the cups up in a line. I sat LB a short distance away and rolled the ball to the cups. It was underwhelming. The ball just pushed the cup a little to the side. LB wasn’t even looking at the ball! I thought maybe we had progressed a bit too quickly, so I spent a few moments rolling the ball to her instead. She still really didn’t get it, preferring to suck on the ball, rather than having a go at rolling it back. I then decided to stand her up and swing her gently to “kick” the ball. Again, she wasn’t really interested. I decided it was time to give up.

When my husband came home, I told him about our little game and invited him to have a go with LB as well. That turned out to be the best idea I’d had all day. Ball games just come naturally to men. He arranged the cups in a diamond shape, like you would for 10 pin bowls and helped LB move her little leg to kick the ball. Finally, I heard the giggles I’d been waiting for.

We played with the game a few more times across the week. However, it turns out LB’s favourite occupation is sucking on the cups. Do I think it was a waste of time? Absolutely not. Both LB’s father and I had fun playing the game with her and she is starting to learn about balls rolling. Now it’s on to the next challenge.

The first card I drew was “Tickle Time”, which involved tickling your baby and playing “This Little Piggy”. We already do this quite regularly, so I’m drawing again. The next card I chose was to create a “Photo Gallery” for bubby. Sounds like a lot of work but I’m committed. LB doesn’t really look at the pictures yet when I read to her, so I wonder how she’ll respond to photos? I do show her the pictures I take of her on my phone and she smiles and she also likes looking at her reflection in the mirror. I have no idea if she knows she is looking at herself. This should make for an interesting challenge!

Loving the Library

 The medicine chest of the soul.

—   Inscription over the door of the Library at Thebes.

Nutrimentum spiritus.

(Food for the soul.)

—   Inscription on the Berlin Royal Library.

A wonderful thing happened today. Little Birdie (LB) woke up really, really early. That doesn’t seem like a good thing when your baby is a poor sleeper. However, today it was a happy coincidence, because today is a day when some of the mummies from my mother’s group meet at a local library for “Rhyme Time”, a nursery rhyme session for babies.

LB and I used to attend this session every week, before we went to sleep school, but since then, I favour her morning nap over a morning at the library. LB still struggles with day naps and by the time I get her to sleep in the morning, “Rhyme Time” has started. Thus, there is often no library visit for us. In the past, LB has been somewhat ambivalent towards “Rhyme Time”, so I suspect missing it doesn’t bother her. She loves nursery rhymes, but as she has had a tendency to be so chronically overtired, the stress of the event meant she was a little surly or difficult to deal with during the sessions. I got hold of a copy of the run sheet for “Rhyme Time” and the two of us have our private session at home, which she loves, but that doesn’t help her learn about social situations.

I, on the other hand, love “Rhyme Time”. Not just because I am a bit of a performer (not really, OK … just a little) but because some of the other Mums from mother’s group go there and they are lovely. Just being around them lifts my spirit. Even when I existed on the thought of sleep alone, I would try my best to get to “Rhyme Time”, because I would always come home feeling so positive. The secret is that we go for coffee afterwards. We take over one of the local coffee shops, feed our babies, discuss our week and relax. The library is located in an excellent spot too, with easy parking, a good department store and some grocery stores nearby. One of the biggest attractions for me is the organic grocer. I swing in just before I go home and stock up on food for LB and my hair dye.

I am so grateful to my local library and their program for babies. It’s nothing grand, just a librarian singing some nursery rhymes out of tune while holding a teddy bear. However, it means the world to LB and I. It allowed me to get out of the house and connect with others when I was really struggling and I think LB has come to appreciate it too. For the first time, she was really smiling when I was picking her up and swinging her around today. As she grows older, I am sure we will spend lots more time in the library and I hope she will really come to love reading the books she borrows, just as I did growing up. It’s just another reason why you should love your local library. It seems libraries aren’t just places to house books, they are community hubs and mine is certainly helping me feel connected. Maybe you should see what your local library could offer you.

Small Mercies

Simple things seem impossible when you have a baby who struggles to sleep. However, I was pleasantly surprised when LB (Little Birdie) and I went on our first road trip together without Daddy, on Thursday.

One of my dearest friends recently lost her husband and I desperately wanted to go up and see her, but she lives an hour-and-a-half away, in my old hometown. When we drove up three weeks ago for the funeral, Hubby took the afternoon off work and we were relieved to find it wasn’t such a bad trip for LB. As it turns out, the trip is a good length for her to have a nap. So, I set off on Thursday, during LB’s morning nap time, not sure what the day would bring without Daddy there to help me troubleshoot. I had the port-a-cot and her sleeping bag, just in case a chance for a nap presented itself, but my back-up plan was to simply hop back in the car and drive home if I couldn’t get her to sleep. However, I really wanted to see my friends and I was hoping that wouldn’t be the case.

I’m well behind many of my friends in the parenthood game. Lots of their children are already in primary school and I’m sure they look at me and shake their heads as I struggle with parenthood for the first time! However, the up side was that I arrived in my hometown to find they had planned a family friendly day. We were to go on a picnic lunch in a nearby park, which just happens to play host to an annual flower festival that is on at the moment.

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Whilst LB was shy at first, she warmed up by the time we made it to the park, where we were lucky to get a picnic table under a beautiful big old pine tree. She heartily tucked into her lunch and even let one of my friends feed her.

I was then blessed to see one of those gorgeous moments that only parenthood can afford you. LB is quite shy but very interested in the world. She finds it a bit much when everyone is paying her attention but she does enjoy social occasions quite a lot. My friend’s son was trying to get her attention in all the obnoxious ways that a seven-year-old boy can; making faces, doing silly dances etc. I told him that LB likes watching people’s hands, particularly when they perform the actions for “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”. He obligingly proceeded to sing her the lullaby. Very soon, two of the other children joined in. A semi-circle of three children singing nursery rhymes surrounded LB. She was delighted. It was a lovely sight to behold.

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Soon, LB was showing tired signs, so I decided to lay her back in the pram and rock her in the hopes of getting her to sleep. It was a bit difficult, as there were lots of distractions in the park. However, by the time we were walking home, she was getting drowsy. With a little shooshing, she seemed to go to sleep and I could feel waves of relief washing over me! We lifted the pram into the house when we got home, but unfortunately LB woke up. I thought it was all over but with some more shooshing, LB had a little sleep in the pram for about half an hour. It was enough to buy me a little more time and a couple of cups of tea with my friends. It was a small mercy indeed and a big coup in the sleep stakes.

LB was too distracted and hot to feed properly when she woke up, so I thought it was going to be a hairy ride home but in another small mercy, we had a quiet trip. LB slept the whole way. We celebrated with a family dinner with Daddy when we got home, followed by a bath and off to bed. She was only a little late to bed and slept well the whole night.

The day went so well, I felt confident to promise we’d be back for a visit in a couple of weeks. I wonder what that journey will bring?