Tag Archives: babies

Becoming An Instant “Grandmother”…

Yesterday, we welcomed home the new baby. Well, baby doll to be precise. She’s not real which is fairly evident from the photos. However, at the same time, she’s not your standard doll either. She’s what’s known as a baby simulation doll and she is manufactured by RealCare Baby. My daughter is studying Child Studies at school and the “babies” were sent home for two days as an assignment. The dolls come with a pseudo bottle, two nappies and the student wears a wristband to log on every time they care for the baby. The doll also also has computer technology onboard which reports back to base how the baby was treated, especially if the baby was dropped or shaken and the baby will emit loud cries if the head isn’t supported properly. A friend of mine told me she accidentally dropped her daughter’s baby doll a few years ago, and her daughter failed. So, evidently, the are a few pitfalls and I don’t want to be the weakest link.

Naturally, I was fairly curious. I was also rather excited about the whole project, but was also wondering whether this thing was going to keep us awake all night. After all, newborns are synonymous with sleepless nights. I remember them well. I’ve also seen these dolls on TV before, as they’ve been used fairly extensively in sex education classes to prevent teenage pregnancies. The theory goes that if the teens know how difficult a baby can be, they’ll be more careful. However, research suggests that the students who had the dolls were actually more likely to experience a teen pregnancy.

Our elderly neighbours gave us two of these sheepskin bears when our son was born – two in case we lost one or needed to put it through the wash. Their grandchildren had really loved them.

Although the baby would only be staying for a few days, she still needed a name. Miss decided to call her McKinley. I thought she’d told me the doll was Indigenous American and decided to give her a name of my own…Tallulah, which comes from the Choctaw people and means leaping water. My cousins also have a restaurant in Newcastle called Tallulah. However, as it turned out, Tallulah was African-American. However, I only found that out after she’d gone.

Anyway, enough about names. Let’s get on with the doll. Whoops! I mean, baby.

The thing that’s struck me most personally, is how she latches onto your heartstrings. She feels so incredibly real, and yet not (if that makes any sense). Unlike a standard doll made of hollow plastic, Tallulah is weighted and feels surprisingly heavy. Indeed, she weighs around 3 kilos or 6.5 – 7 pounds, which is about the average weight of a new born baby. So, there was a lot of familiarity, and I really felt something rekindle within, which surprised me.

While I’m not going to comment on how Miss went with her assignment, I did get the opportunity to see how a few others responded to Tallulah, and see that she also elicited an emotional response from them both at the local shops with me and also when she made a guest appearance during my Zoom Bible study group.

Starting with the local shops, I had to take Tallulah down to the dance studio to pick up Miss. This was a bit of an exercise and normally, a baby would travel in a capsule, but Tallulah didn’t come with one. So, I just strapped her into the car seat and hoped she didn’t attract attention. To compound matters, I couldn’t get a park out the front and I couldn’t leave Tallulah in the car in case she woke up and needed attention. Consequently, as a 50 something woman, I was left walking down the street carrying a baby doll.

It was very interesting to see how people responded to Tallulah. I could see drivers being extra careful when when I was walking across the pedestrian crossing. They definitely registered “baby” and altered their demeanor. After all, they wouldn’t be expecting me to be carrying a doll around.

I loved the way she put her little arm up like this just like our kids had done.

Then, I had a further opportunity to gauge the reactions of others during my zoom Bible study tonight. The doll was supposed to be turned off while Miss was at dance. However, Tallulah woke up screaming with 15 minutes to go. I abandoned Zoom and ditched my headphones racing to Miss’s room as though Tallulah’s life depended upon me. I managed to find everything I needed to settle her down again except the logging on device. So, I returned to my zoom with a screaming baby the group knew nothing about. The instant they saw her, there was an immediate emotional response, and I even sensed a touch of joy. They didn’t know what was going on at the time, and Tallulah looked real enough, and they wouldn’t have been expecting a fake baby who was my daughter’s homework. They were just humans reacting to what they thought was a real baby.

Even Rosie took an interest in Tallulah, but not without close supervision!!

So, it seems I wasn’t the only one who had an emotional response to Tallulah, and it’s interesting to consider that this baby simulator can stimulate these very emotional (and probably innate) responses when it’s just a piece of plastic. I don’t consider myself particularly into babies and young children and tend to prefer older children. So, the fact this doll (let’s call her by her name – Tallulah) drew me in, says a lot although I wouldn’t say that I love Tallulah. Also, as far as babies go, she was pretty easy going.

This raises an interesting point. If these dolls establish an emotional connection with their carers, are they really an effective deterrent when it comes to teen pregnancies? Could they in fact be encouraging them to want their own real baby instead? On the other hand, they do get a feel for how time consuming a baby can be and unlike Tallulah, they can’t just be switched off while they’re at school or in a dance class.

Anyway, I had a bit of fun being grandma and taking a few photos. While most of our kids’ toys are stored away in our roof, I did manage to find a sheepskin teddy bear which our elderly neighbours gave her. I also found a sheepskin a school friend had given me. She’d used it for her daughters and we used it when Mister was born. Indeed, I’m going to check whether my friend’s daughter has had a baby yet. She might be wanting it back.

While I’ve mainly focused on the upside of having the doll here, I have a few concerns. Firstly, I’m not supportive of the one student having sole responsibility for the doll/baby and there should be capacity for family members to help. After all, we keep saying it takes a village to raise a child, but then putting all responsibility back onto the mother and there are also some quarters who also complain about the declining birth rate. In many ways, it’s good experience for all of us to have experience of a screaming doll-baby who won’t stop crying before we have our own so we have realistic expectations of parenthood. I don’t know whether there is a debriefing process in place when students return the dolls/babies. However, failing could hit a some people fairly hard and while they might be wanting to prevent teen pregnancies, the aim is not to turn young people off having children altogether. It would have been hard for probably all of us as new parents to have been scrutinised like these students caring for our own children We all made mistakes. All had times we struggled to cope. Yet, an important aspect of this program which goes a bit more under the radar is the importance of not shaking your baby and it does raise awareness of these dangers to young people. So, these dolls are not just about sex education, but also give some insights into how to care well for your baby and what will be involved.

Have you or your family had any experience of baby simulation dolls? I’d be interested to hear from you!

Best wishes,

Rowena

New Arrival Due Today!

Thought I’d better warn you before you’re totally shocked. That said, I’m sorely tempted to spin a little story if only my beloved daughter’s reputation wasn’t going to be on the line. What feels like tomorrow, is actually today and Miss will be bringing her “baby” home from school.

“Baby” is one of those baby simulator dolls they send home with teenagers to turn them off teen pregnancies, although apparently studies show that teens who’ve taken these dolls home are actually more likely to have a teen pregnancy and go through with it. That concerns me a little and if she had a boyfriend, perhaps I’d be sending that baby doll straight back to school. However, Miss has been looking forward to this ALL YEAR and it’s been a big motivation for taking her child studies class.

Of course, we never had anything like this when I was at school. Indeed, we didn’t even get to lug around an egg or a bag of flour to get a taste of parenthood in a warped kind of way. After all, there’s very little correlation between a sack of flour and a living, breathing, screaming human baby. Besides, I don’t think my school believed in teen pregnancies, at least ones which went ahead.

Meanwhile, this high tech baby doll does a pretty god job of simulating a human infant (at least according to the promotional video.) It needs to be fed, have it’s nappy changed, cuddled etc Like a real human baby, supporting it’s head is very important and if they don’t support the head properly, the baby gives a pained scream. Ditto if its mistreated. It seems like this baby has all the state-of-the-art computer monitoring capabilities Big Brother would be proud of including a full record of how the student interacts and cares for the baby. So, there’s no covering up poor or mediocre parenting (Or, heaven forbid…a FAIL!!). Indeed, I am hoping I might gain a bit more appreciation after this experiment is over. More understanding. How would you rate my chances?

Anyway, one good thing about this baby is that it only responds to my daughter, who has been given a wristband, which she uses to interact with the baby.

That means I’m let off the hook. No babysitting duties for me.

Well, I’m not sure I’m even going to meet this baby let alone have a photo shoot or spend time together.

I’ve been told it’s hers.

That’s fine.

Here’s to switching off and having a goodnight’s sleep…oh pretty please!

Have any of your kids had one of these baby simulator dolls come home? How did it go? I think I want to know…maybe not!

Best wishes,

Rowena

Couldn’t resist this photo of our beautiful Miss when she was only a couple of days old.

Whoops! More Pups.

Yesterday afternoon, I received an urgent text. “My pups” were on the move, and ready for collection. These pups are two 5 week old kelpie pups,  and did I mention something  about being bottle fed? I didn’t think so. You know me. Blunder in where angels fear to tread only to find out about the details by default, when it’s all too late. Yet, it’s not everyday you have the chance to even see such young pups, let alone take them home. I don’t know about legislation where you live, but I think pups need to be 8 weeks old to be sold here. So, despite what should have been a healthy scepticism about taking on such a challenge, I jumped at the chance…the opportunity of a lifetime.

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Welcome to the dog house.

The pups are absolutely gorgeous and about the size of an adult guinea pig and have rolypoly tummies on stumpy legs. I don’t think they’ve been outside before and they wondered about a little like they’d just landed on a new planet. I’ll call that planet: “Do your business”. Although our house has literally gone to the dogs, I am TRYING to get them to do their business outside.

BTW, I know absolutely nothing about how to care for bottle-fed pups. Indeed, I didn’t even bottle feed my own kids until they were old enough that I didn’t have to be pedantic about cleaning all the bottles. By then, whatever was growing in those bottles was good for their immune systems…

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Mr and Yoda.

 

 

Just to fill in a few dots, I have volunteered as a foster carer for a local animal rescue group, Paws & Claws. I’m not sure how long “we” will be doing this. I am loving it and the pups are gorgeous, but we have our own pups to settle in and there will come a point where I’ll get the carpet cleaners in and at least have a break.

Or, more likely, I’ll be exercising the two pups we’ve adopted…Isaac and Rosie. I’m expecting lengthy daily exercise runs down at the beach. Actually, I’m hoping the pups will exercise themselves down at the beach while I bumble along at adult speed, instead of doing the “Flight of the Bumble Bee”. Of course, there’s also the possibility the kids might actually walk the dogs…

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Me and Our Pups.

Meanwhile, our pups went off to be desexed last week. This was done via key hole surgery. Zac was bounding around pretty quickly but Rosie also needed her dew claws clipped and so she returned with her back legs bandaged and a cone around her head. She finally got the cone and bandages off last night…happy days!

So, our house is currently a five dog household, which means us humans are outnumbered. However, before you start thinking we’re facing defeat, beings on bottles don’t have voting rights. So, humans still rule even if it is a case of only just.

Anyway, I’d better keep moving. I think I’m supposed to be sleeping when the pups are sleeping. Isn’t that how it goes?

Have you ever fostered humans or animals? How did it go? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

xx Rowena

 

 

Puppies in a Carpark After Dark…

Last night, my daughter and I were recruited into a clandestine, underground movement, which rescues puppies and dogs from puppy farms and “bad homes”.

As you might have seen on the blog lately, my friend’s been fostering dogs and puppies. I never thought I’d be up for this, and thought I’d find it impossible to let them go. However, I was round at her place with the latest residents, and they were so cute and so much fun, that I thought we’d give puppy rescuing a go.

Then, like well-trained intelligence agent, my friend heard that a litter of Border Collie x Kelpie pups was in the pipeline. Me being me with my usual levels of resistance, I put my hat in the ring for two pups with a view of keeping one. This would be like a test drive where we could try before we buy.

You might recall, that it’s only been two months since our much loved Border Collie, Bilbo passed away. We’re still heartbroken and missing him in all sorts of ways. A few years ago, we adopted Lady thinking that he wasn’t well. Then, he perked up after she arrived and lived another 3 years. As much as we love Lady’s exuberant friendliness, we’re used to Bilbo’s Border Collie sheepdog ways, and she’s a very different dog.  That’s fine but when you’ve been living with the ball chasing champion of the universe and you get a dog who doesn’t fetch, it’s hard to compute…even if Bilbo’s ball chasing obsession drove us mad! I guess it’s a reminder, that you can’t simply replace the one you’ve lost and each of us, is an individual.

During the week, my friend forwarded photos and we selected one pup we particularly liked. Then, we received further intelligence, that the pups were arriving last night.

The pups had been rescued from out near Lismore, 10 hours’ drive away. This meant it was hard for them to give an exact pick up time. It was simply “late” and there were phone calls going back and forth updating their ETA. All I knew, was that we were meeting up in a carpark at a nearby pet shop some time after dark. It started to feel like I’d joined a clandestine smuggling ring, and the whole experience felt like a grand adventure. Yet, at the same time, I was also being drawn out of my comfort zone. I don’t like driving at night, and felt a bit uncomfortable hanging around in the industrial area late at night.

However, soon the other voluneers started to arrive. The scene reminded me of waiting for a country train and watching the cars pull in. We picked up puppy food, leads, collars and chatted to other volunteers and waited… and waited. It was so exciting. The puppies were coming!

Then, suddenly a car towing a dog caravan appeared. It wasn’t quite your movie star camper, but precious cargo was definitely onboard. I’m not entirely sure which other dogs were there, but there was a litter of black labrador pups as well as part of the litter of Border Collie x Kelpie pups. I also saw what looked like a family of semi-grown Maltese Terriors.

Zac & Rosie

At this point, it was about 10.00PM. A floodlight breaks through only a fraction of the darkness, backlighting the puppies. So, we can hardly distinguish which pup is which, and they’re just a squirming, wriggling mass of black and white fur and paws. There was one boy in the litter, who just happened to be the one I’d picked out from the FB photo and my daughter picked out one with a white stripe on her head and “ears like Bilbo”. They had their shots, were wormed, paperwork was completed and they were in the car and on their way home.

Home meant introducing them to Lady. I was hoping Lady might feel somewhat maternal and welcome the new arrivals. On the other hand, not everyone’s excited when a strange, spaceship-like contraption lands in your territory. As for calling you “Mum” and YOUR dogbed “home”, Lady muttered something about having no say in it, and no idea what was coming! Lady wasn’t thrilled and had a few growls. The puppies were disturbing her peace, quiet, and new found stardome as the only dog. However, she did give them a good sniff, and I’m sure she’ll come round.

Pups

Meanwhile, the pups who’d been cooped up in transit all day, did what all kids do after they’re released. They went beserk!!! Indeed, our boy pup, Zac, went psycho jumping and leaping all over the lounge room like he’d just arrived at a theme park. Rosie, his canine companion, wasn’t far behind him. At one point,  they’d converted Lady’s bed into a wrestling ring and were growling like a pair of Tasmanian Devils and gnawing at each other, having so much fun.

We were besotted.

Rosie & feather duster.JPG

As a parent myself, I was rather concerned by their wild behavior so late at night, wondering how they’d ever get to sleep. It’s been awhile, but I haven’t forgotten the difficulties of getting human babies to sleep. I even attended a week long sleep clinic with my son out at Karitane, after trying everything from singing Twinkle Twinkle, walking the streets with the pram, prayer and phoning my in-laws. In other words, we’re talking about reaching the end of the road and then some.

Clearly, it was starting to look like a sleepless night.

However, looking at the puppies bouncing off the walls exploring their new environment, I started developing grave concerns about how we were ever going to get them to sleep. Memories of frazzled sleepless nights trying to get our son to sleep, came back like a back case of reflux.

Amelia with crazy pups

A pair of rambunctious pups.

What have I got myself into?

By this stage, it was well after midnight and Miss was also still awake. We took the pups into the laundry, and tried closing the door. That’s when the howling began…and continued. These pups had no intention of going to sleep. Couldn’t slow themselves down to anything remotely resembling “tired”, and didn’t like being away from us either.

Although I remembered that you stick a ticking clock in with puppies to help them sleep, who has ticking clocks these days? Obviously, its digital descendants wouldn’t do the trick. Apparently, the radio’s the go these days. Oops! That reminds me, that I forgot to set up the music player for tonight.

Needless to say, just like a new Mum, I didn’t get a great night’s sleep.

The big difference was, however, that no one drops round with a meal when you have a new dog! The grandparents haven’t turned up either. Indeed, I haven’t quite mentioned the puppies to my parents…even though I’m obviously a grown up now and they’re in no position to say “no”. It’s just that given my health issues and a very busy family, adding a new pup to the mix and fosteringit’s sister, isn’t a logical decision. It doesn’t make sense, but the heart has its own way of thinking, which might not add up but usually makes sense.

Well, at least it makes sense to me.

Do you have a special dog and dog story to share? I’d love to hear it.

xx Rowena

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Let sleeping pups lie.

Grow Slow…Happy Birthday Miss 9!

Slow down, you move too fast
You got to make the morning last
Just kicking down the cobblestones
Looking for fun and feelin’ groovy
Ba da da da da da da, feelin’ groovy.

Paul Simon : The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)

Last night, as I kissed our daughter goodnight, she said: “This is my last night of being eight.” She was overjoyed!! She’s one of the youngest in her year at school and it’s no secret she gets a bit cheesed off that it takes eternity for her birthday to come round each year. There’s only a couple of months and the frustrating tail-chasing game starts all over again. Like all kids, she wants to grow up too quick. Our “little Miss” is 9 going on about 15 especially when she struts around the house in her fancy silver high heels, which almost fit her now. It wasn’t that long ago that I’d bought them from the charity shop for dress ups!!

That said, she is still a little girl and boys are still “yuck”…thank goodness!!

Im not sure how long that’s going to last with her brother who turns 11 in less than a fortnight and heads off to High School next year. I have no illusions about what all of that means. However, I feel much better prepared for the teenage years than I was for early childhood. At least, I can remember what it was like to be a teenager and I’m sure it was only yesterday.

Family Photo Back at Home.

Family Photo Back at Home 9 long years ago.

As we celebrate another round of birthdays and I’m forced to think about the passage of time yet again, I am reminded of time’s  cruel tricks. Since all other theories and explanations have failed, I’ve concluded there’s some kind of horrid, malevolent watch matcher lurking somewhere way up in the sky who keeps tinkering with the cogs and speeding things up. Don’t you agree?

I mean…Surely time couldn’t move that fast unless it was taking performance enhancing drugs and even then we’re talking about lethally high doses.

Someone or indeed, something, is doing an awful lot of tinkering with the gears up there. That’s the only way I can explain how time goes really fast when you want it to go slow and conversely barely seems to move at all, when you really want it to speed up like while you’re waiting in a supermarket queue and the person in front of you with enough food to feed an entire army can’t remember their pin and you’re running late and your child is standing on a street corner after dark in their ballet leotard and it’s cold and you don’t know what sort of creeps are hanging around.

Time always goes agonisingly slow then!!!

Ever the philosopher, me at around 6 months.

h Ever the philosopher, me at around 6 months.

Once upon a birthday, my grandparents used to sing me “Happy Birthday” on the phone and my grandmother would tell me year after year, about when they “got the phone call” and my father told them they had a grand-daughter and they’d put her in a warmer. She always left out all the details such as how I was facing sunny side up and things had been touch and go. That THAT phone call wasn’t just about “it’s a girl”. It was a serious answer to prayer and their daughter and grand-daughter had made it through a rather perilous journey called birth.

You forget that your baby is hopefully crying the first time you see them.

You forget that your baby is hopefully crying the first time you see them.

There were no life or death dramas when our daughter was born, aside from when Big Brother, the inimitable “Little Man”, decided to climb up on the hospital bed to have a cuddle with Mum and activated the  emergency switch. That immediately and brutally flung the head of the bed straight down and in the process, the drip stand fell down and bumped Miss on the head. Miss ended up with a bruise on her forehead and was sent off to the Special Care Nursery for observation. A storm in a teacup but we still stir Mister about that. It’s not his only tale. The antics of “Little Man” are legendary but largely just involve a healthy curiosity combined with high speed.

Getting back to our daughter’s arrival…

The first time ever I saw your face
I thought the sun rose in your eyes
And the moon and the stars were the gifts you gave
To the dark and the endless skies, my love
To the dark and the endless skies

Roberta Flack (a romantic song but so apt)

Little Miss a few days old.

Little Miss a few days old.

The other thing, I remember, of course, is the very first moment I saw her.  She was much smaller than I’d expected and only weighed 2.93 kg and was an average length of 49cm. She was exceptionally petite and I guess given that I’m quite tall myself (174cm or 5 ft 10″), I was a little surprised. She was so tiny that we needed to get her baby-pink, miniscule 0000 Bond Suits outfits from the Special Care Nursery where they were kept nice and warm for the premmie babies. My Mum was sent to buy some micro-clothes for when we went home.

Our Gorgeous Little Rainbow Fairy Almost Aged 5 and About to Start School.

Our Gorgeous Little Rainbow Fairy Almost Aged 5 and About to Start School.

I know I’ve mentioned time before but tell me, where does time go? I know lines like that are cliched and a road too well-traveled for a seasoned writer and yet, this great mystery still hasn’t been explained. Not all time travels at the same rate and where my daughter’s concerned, time has fast-forwarded faster than the speed of light!!

Miss on her first day of school.

Miss on her first day of school.

After all, I could have sworn she wasn’t born that long ago and she’s only just started school. Yet, somehow she’s migrated from infants into primary and is now well, perhaps not towering over all of the new kindergarten kids but has certainly moved on. I feel like I’ve been hit by a flying brick and I’m lost, almost in a trance or in a dream, while everything flies past me.

I’m so confused!!! (Remember John Travolta as Vinnie Barbarino in Welcome Back Cotter? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=29BoqCMRBFk)

I hope she’s had a Happy Birthday. She opened her presents before school and as it turned out, the local radio station was at school this morning and they wished her Happy Birthday on air…much cooler than on Mummy’s blog!!

Miss celebrates her birthday with SeaFM Radio Host Kristi before school.

Miss celebrates her birthday with SeaFM Radio Host Kristi before school.

She took the most amateur-looking Cake Pops to school for her class. I can’t believe I let her talk me into making those because, as my mother advised me, you never make something new for a special occasion and when I’ve broken that Golden Rule, I’ve regretted it. As we all know, regret with family birthday cakes is usually accompanied by nerve crushing angst, tears and if you’re really wound up…hurling the cake across the room.

That is, if the dog hasn’t eaten the cake first. I have very bad memories of a food-thieving, greedy Old English Sheepdog called Rufus being caught in the act. That dog used to steal food and swallow it plastic bag and all. Eventually, we’d find the evidence deposited on the back lawn!!

I don’t know how that dog survived for so long!

Happy Birthday Miss!

Happy Birthday Miss!

Instead of having a special birthday dinner tonight, the kids were off to Cubs and Scouts. As we still haven’t sorted out the details of either of the kids’ birthday parties yet, this was opportune as a few of their friends were there. That meant making a batch of chocolate cupcakes and huge boxes of chips for tonight’s celebration. Miss told the lady at the checkout that: “Scouts love junk food and we purchased supplies. What a great ambassador!

Happy Birthday Chocolate Cupcakes for Scouts.

Happy Birthday Chocolate Cupcakes for Scouts.

There’s a world of quotes which I could pass onto my daughter but here are a couple from AA Milne’s: Winnie The Pooh.

“Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
A.A. Milne
“You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”

I also like this one from Stephen Fry:

“We are not nouns, we are verbs. I am not a thing – an actor, a writer – I am a person who does things – I write, I act – and I never know what I’m going to do next. I think you can be imprisoned if you think of yourself as a noun.”
Stephen Fry

Happy Birthday Precious Miss!

May all of your dreams come true..,in time. I’d like you to grow up before you open that dream fashion business in Paris. Climb some trees. Make clothes for your dolls and film them with your iPad. Ride your bike. Walk the dogs and wear your hair in plaits with rainbow nails and silver high heels, which are still too big and keep baking glittery cakes and drawing precious pictures just for fun.

As much as you yearn to grow up, you can’t rewind time. It only speeds up.

You might not appreciate it it now but there’s real beauty in growing slow.

Love & Blessings!

Rowena & Mummy

Me & My Girl

Me & My Girl

PS A week after Mister’s birthday sitting at Palm Beach, I stumbled across this song Forever Young by Rod Stewart, which I wanted to send to Miss as a post birthday present: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgiLWNgpXiQ