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Not actually from our dentist day, but a sufficiently toothy smile captured on camera by my friend Sarah.

A few months ago we got a letter in the mail from some part of the government (Centrelink? Department of Health? Ministry of Magic?) that offered free dentist visits for your two-year-old. I can’t remember if it was a particular amount of visits or if it was a particular amount of money, because we are children whose filing system is “throw it on the kitchen bench”, but either way we thought it about time to ship the Rocket off to get her fangs checked out, especially as everywhere we take her people are desperate to give her free candy.

Looking up toddler dentist visits online brought up some interesting info. Notes that seemed quite helpful suggested you play dentist with your kid, counting each others’ teeth, so we embarked on that immediately and it was quite fun. The internet also suggested things not to say to your child, like “It probably won’t hurt,” or “They shouldn’t have to use a needle” and the like. As it pointed out, those are your fears; your kid has no concept of them. The Rocket’s such a little ball of health we haven’t even had to take her to the doctor her whole life for anything but checkups, so she’s never been prodded by a doctor (though she has tantrumed at a Maternal Health Nurse who tried to measure how long she was.) She doesn’t know the dentist is a place for anything but a box full of toys we play with when picking Teach up from getting wisdom teeth out. So we just said the nice dentist would count her teeth and check they were healthy and that hopefully they wouldn’t notice we gave her a sip of Coke at the movies the other day like the A+ parents we are.

So she turned up cheerfully at the dentist and everyone greeted her with enthusiasm and in she went into the consult room. She sat on Teach’s knee as we waited, and we pointed out all the things in the room – cups of blue liquid, sinks, a moving rocket chair, lots of gadgets for looking at teeth, gloves and things. She was interested and fearless, but desperate to consume some mouthwash.

In came her dentist, Dr Waple, who is a bit handsome and rockstaresque as far as dentists go (though, in case you are wondering, he is Teach’s dentist – I pick mine based on names now after having childhood success with Dr Blase, aka Dr Whatever; my newest, I kid you not, I picked out of the phone book because his name was Dr Blood). He complimented her on her dress and was very relaxed and jokey; she smiled at him immediately. He showed her the little tooth-counting mirror, counted her teeth up to twenty, then told her she did a great job and gave her a pink balloon with a tooth superhero on it. And that was it. We didn’t even have to pay anything. The dentist explained that they like to start their dental experiences like that so kids have immediate good associations with them. And hell, it left us happy with them too; now we go back in another few months for a more thorough checkup. And I suppose, to demonstrate good dental care, we should book ourselves in too. Dammit.

 

This probably happens at every dentist, but ours is lovely, so here: Balwyn Dental Group

375 Whitehorse Rd, Balwyn

9836 3247

website

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This week my little Rocket turned two. I own two baby books with the purest white untouched pages you’ve seen, but I’ve documented her journey from our discovery of her as a sesame seed in my belly to now fairly well online and in a few journals scattered around my house when I needed something non-human to vent or emote onto. A decent amount of the day was spent looking at pictures of her as a tiny baldy baby and a bigger baldy baby and a tiny baldy toddler and then now, as a curly-haired decent-sized toddler-kid. Things were sometimes hard at the start. Sometimes they were boring. Sometimes – well, always – they were tiring. And now, at two, I cannot believe the magical little creature she’s become. Sometimes things are hard, like when she throws her food on the floor and then laughs like an tv-movie villain; sometimes things are boring, like when I have to push her in the swing for four million hours or watch the Space episode of Yo Gabba Gabba because she loves the Rocket Ride song so much; sometimes it is physically demanding but no longer am I tired from lack of sleep, except when I stay up too late watching and making fun of Machete Kills. But oh, she is so much fun, I can’t even tell you. She laughs, she jokes, she hides, she calls my name, she sits on my foot and hangs onto my leg as I haul her around the house giggling, she pours me pretend tea from her tea set, she climbs into her cardboard rocket and peeps out the window saying “hellooo!”, she races her Matchbox cars all over the house, she demands I read her books, she counts to ten without saying eight, she high fives everything she can, she swims, she laughs, she flies in with her arms wide for hugs, she dances, she draws, she picks terrible outfits from her clothes drawers, she hides behind poles that are some five-centimetres wide. She’s the best, even when she refuses to eat my elaborate meals and trashes my house and screeches in frustration when I can’t understand what she’s saying.

For her birthday we celebrated with our family on the weekend; snacks, balloons and hugs in the park. While I was at work the night before, Teach made her a cake, dyed the icing green, then drew train tracks on it with an chocolate pen from Coles. We’d bought her a birthday-themed Thomas the Tank Engine train: a Thomas covered in streamers with a cake on the back. Press the cake, it plays the TTTE theme song. Two candles, two sparklers, and a kiss on the cheek. She chased her cousins around and screamed with laughter.

On the day itself, I was at a bit of a loss in the morning, so I took her to Little Creatures in Balwyn. I hadn’t been back since she could walk, and she had great fun bullying some older kids into sitting where she told them, while they in turn stole toys off her and everyone shouted and cried. Still, such is life at a play centre, and she liked playing in the Duplo room and the house room the best, lugging her wonky-eyed baby doll in its baby carrier over to the Lego car and dropping it head-first into a pile of blocks.

After her nap, she woke up to a few lovely present deliveries from friends and family, which was lovely except you try shoehorning a kid away from her beloved new picnic set to go outside. My folks came over and we went on a fruitless expedition to Cocco Latte (closed for an emergency, but open today when I went back) and Acorn Nursery (closing earlier than I expected, so we slammed down our coffees, looked at the fountains and gave up on parks to head back.)

When Teach got home from work, we decided to go out for dinner, which, let’s face it, was more for us than for her. We went to Chadstone so we could hit up Wagamama – there was literally no one but us there at the start, which meant she was free to shout for a while, but she also got rice everywhere and upended her orange juice on the table, so, you know, good work at acting childish on your second birthday, I mean sheesh. Still, the waiters didn’t mind, my meal was delicious and while we forgot to order a free kids meal they threw in her juice on the house.

Appetites sated, we went to Timezone, because there are lots of bright lights and buttons to press. We got a $20 card and played any game she looked remotely interested in; some we didn’t even have to pay for, like the Dance Dance Revolution-type one where she got up on the platform and danced like crazy with the fun-loving people on screen. She boshed some crocodiles, rode a train, hit some lights, drove a car, went on a rat race, and then scored some bubbles and a miniature basketball with all our tickets. She had a blast; we were happy to see her so happy.

The year before, we’d had a little friend party at a park near work, where the Rocket had just learned how to stand up on her own. This year, we headed to the same park after work for an ice cream in the sun. We sat on the grass near another little girl who crawled excitedly over to see us. It turned out she’d just turned one, and to see her next to the Rocket was incredible – a year in a kid is such a long time. As the kids high-fived each other, the mother said, half-laughing, “Does it get easier?” and like I told her then, it really really does.

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Earlier this week Teach went off for a few days on school camp. Which, you know, fun for him (turns out all teachers I speak to love going on camp, I always imagined it was a nightmare for them) but annoying for ME, as this meant three whole days in which I had to change every single nappy, get up for all the night yelling, and could not blame the trashed state of the kitchen on him. Terribly sad, etc. However, I found people who would at least occupy my days, and on Monday I bothered my parents all day (I didn’t get a picture but hot damn the playground in Knox City shopping centre is a great one and it has a FENCE to trap kidskies in), and on Tuesday my friend S came over and stayed until dinnertime. We knocked up a pasta for lunch – our go-to recipe is basically pasta, spinach, dukkah, sun-dried tomatoes – and then drove to Balwyn to bash about in Beckett Park.

I’ve been once before with my mothers group, but it’s not great for crowds of kids as they all run off to different places and let’s face it, 83% of the point of mothers groups is hanging out with other adults, so when you have to run off after your kid it defeats the purpose a little. Anyway, when it’s just your kid, it’s a bunch of fun. There’s a tiny in-ground trampoline for bouncing, a wooden maze that even I could find my way out of (and I am terrible at all mazes), lots of wooden ramps and pathways, four swings (including two side-by-side baby swings for those with twins!) and a big-ass sandpit with two of those ride-on scooper things. Also it has a table, see above. Beckett Park’s actually pretty great – there are toilets, heaps of space to run around, a viewing tower (padlocked and with no note, WHAT IS THE DEAL BOOROONDARA COUNCIL) and an indigenous flora reserve. We didn’t make it to the flora, alas, too busy chasing dogs and patting all the wooden sculptures in artistic appreciation.

After an hour and a half, we were burnt out on playgrounds (Rocket was NOT and threw an appropriate tantrum) and went off for a quick poke around in the new nearby organic supermarket Apples & Sage (no website yet, located on Whitehorse Road between Balwyn Road & the Safeway.) Holy shit, this place has everything a health person/junky vegan/etc could desire – meatless pizza, chick’n & cheeze pies, everything else you’ve ever seen or imagined. All not even particularly comparatively expensive, though S and I were a bit skint so we passed up any purchases though I was pretty pleased to know it exists and will totally return and buy pretty much everything.

For dinner we went to Vegie Mum in Doncaster – we’ve been a couple of times and it’s always been a success. Vegie Mum is a Chinese/Malaysian vegetarian restaurant, and serves up a bunch of mock meats and vegetable dishes. The decor and atmosphere isn’t incredible, but the service is always grand: they’re lovely to the Rocket and have a pile of high chairs, the staff are friendly as anything, and the food arrives at speed. This time, I ordered a laksa for myself ($10), and a plate of fried tofu ($4.50) for the Rocket, along with some rice (usually $2 but I think they charged us less for the small bowl.) S got tea, spring rolls and some other noodle dish I can’t remember and didn’t try because my laksa was far too delicious and I could barely spare some concentration on my daughter as she got rice all over clothes and her hair (but to her credit mostly did a vaguely good job.) S kindly shared some of her noodles (mine were too spicy) and the Rocket was generally very pleased with the whole scenario, especially when she got to dump a cup of water over herself too. (SIGH.)

I didn’t take any pictures of my food, because I have fallen out of the habit due to, uh, not blogging in months (which, mild excuse, is because I now also blog over here!) but my Laksa was a perfect kick of chilli in gorgeous coconut broth, with beans, noodles (ask for the egg ones to be swapped out for rice), eggplant, tofu, chicken, prawn and pork. Turns out I like fake prawn more than real, and I ate stacks of it, and BEST YET, when I was almost done I found SNEAKY HIDDEN PORK AND PRAWNS, praise be. Writing about it is making me a little dribbly so I best stop now.

…well, just after a quick smooch to my olderiest friend Rachael who prompted me to write again. xx

Beckett Park

the end of Parring Rd

Balwyn

Vegie Mum

27 Village Ave

Doncaster

ph: 9816 3222

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Assuming I won’t be posting tomorrow because I’ll be too busy luxuriating in a bath with a hot chocolate as per my demands, Happy Mother’s Day to those of you who are mothers, to a human or a non-human animal or a plant or whatever makes you feel parental. I’m working tomorrow, so we have held my Mother’s Day today, which would be far more exciting had I not been struck down with a terrible cold that knocked me out at work yesterday and continued today. I feel a bit better now, but am missing out on my own family’s MD event lest I spread the cold further. I mean, I am a Giving Person, but they are probably not interested in the gifts of Boogers and Sweaty Fever.

My mothers’ group, as I’ve probably mentioned before, is made up of the most excellent women I could have lucked out on being thrown together with. I assumed they’d all be judgemental monsters, but they are NEITHER, just lovely normal people with lovely normal babies who are all adorable and I’m totally not biased. I couldn’t be happier to have landed on Planet Oh Jesus Christ What Is My Baby Doing with these people. On our first nurse-scheduled meeting at the community centre, I sat with the Rocket dressed in an adorable outfit that I had purchased for her especially to impress these strangers, and about thirty seconds before the nurse started talking the Rocket did a spectacularly enormous crap in her pants and I ran in a panic to change her. It had, thrillingly, gone all the way through her Very Special New Outfit, and then I had to change her into Very Boring Onesie that I had brought as a backup, and went back with my tail between my legs thinking how unstylish we now were. The nurse said as I returned, “You could have just changed her on the floor, you know!” but she did not understand my total fear of having these people think I changed my baby in some kind of incorrect way. ANYWAY, since then, I have lost all fear of anything with these ladies, and have learned from them and maybe taught them a thing or two (i.e. that they should all watch Yo Gabba Gabba) and I’ll stop talking or I’ll get sappy.

But what do you DO in a mothers’ group when your kids are old and wiggly? You cannot take them to cafes when there are nine adults and ten babies. We’ve gone to PlayDays centre in Doncaster but it is hot and full of three-year-olds who want to kill your children. But while wandering aimlessly around one day, I discovered another, smaller-scale play centre in Balwyn called Little Creatures, that has a temperate climate, no lingering smell of kids who have farted in the ball pit, and an excellent array of things to do. So we went as a group and: success!

One canny mother blowing bubbles to calm down the Rocket and her friend L after they had a screaming match over a plastic saw they both wanted. Which is pretty badass.

Little Creatures has a few different sections for kids to play in: there’s a wooden train set, a pink doll-filled room, a pretend supermarket, a little slide, a postal truck, a Duplo room, one full of bulding stuff (hammers, plastic saws etc), one with books and soft toys, and a dress-up room. There’s also a couple of tables and tiny chairs for drawing, and they hold parties if you want. So your kids can toddle around playing with whatever takes their fancy. And all that selection is the BEST. You can also get coffee, and little snacks, and it’s all very excellent. My tip is to go at lunchtime, when normal people are eating: it’s been empty the past two times we’ve gone and we’ve been able to have the place to ourselves.

It was a super serious feminist discussion about shoes and pans and teapots

It’s eight dollars per kid – two bucks more than Playdays but worth every penny. It’s not huge, but with enough space to crawl around (or walk if you are disposed to WHICH OH MY GOD THE ROCKET IS AS OF THIS WEEK) and a couple of comfy seats and a little cafe section at the front for when your kids are old enough to take care of themselves, it’s all very wonderful for those rainy days where you can’t go to the park and you’re too self-conscious about the state of your house to have anyone over (because let’s face it, while I am less anxious about my parenting abilities no one needs to know how infrequently I mop the kitchen floor. Because it’s BORING, you guys.)

Little Creatures

323 Whitehorse Rd

Balwyn

9077 2364

website

Not sure about the entry, but it’s flat inside and open plan, with areas divided by glass windows. There are a couple of toilets out the back – but I can’t remember if there were disabled ones. Sorry this is such a long post, both the Rocket and her dad are napping so I’m basically chatting to you instead of them.

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