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Posts Tagged ‘surrey hills’

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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cocco latte

So I get irrationally irritated by that Nescafe (or similar) ad where a heap of mothers are all laughing about their parenting foibles and one says, “Mummy needs her coffee!” with this terrifying wide-eyed soul-eater expression as she attacks the mug. It’s because in the media, mothers are an overly generalised group of people who only drink coffee to recover from their monster children, and freak out visibly whenever KMart puts a cushion on sale for five dollars. BUT STILL, I will say this: I do love going out for coffee. Sometimes it defeats my minor headaches, sometimes it just tastes lovely, sometimes it wakes me up if, say, I’ve had to spend an hour in the middle of the night watching Waybuloo to calm an implacable child (don’t google it if you don’t know it, you can never unsee the horror that is some children’s television), and sometimes it’s just a great excuse to get out of the house and/or converse with an adult. My local cafe, the Twig and Two Berries, is my absolute favourite as the ladies there are all very lovely to the Rocket (and to me), and the coffee is pretty great, and they remember not to give us marshmallows but instead give the Rocket very tiny cookies that she greatly enjoys. ANYWAY, today I am not talking about my favourite relaxed haunt, but the much-less-relaxed-though-probably-fun-for-children Cocco Latte.

Located right next to Surrey Hills station, which is handy for someone like me who doesn’t always win the thumb war over who gets the car that day, Cocco Latte is a cafe that goes out of its way to cater for parents and kids. If you’re a normal kind of person who wants a relaxed cafe moment, you can sit in the front section, then there’s a glass partition, some couches and round tables, and then – squeak! – a glassed-in play room WITH A DOOR where kids can read, do puzzles, jump in the ball pit and play with all manner of things. Everything’s safe and low to the ground (don’t get me wrong, kids are still perfectly capable of injuring themselves even if you only gave them a sponge and book) so you can sit happily in your chair with your coffee and watch your kid/s empty the ball pit then weep that there are no balls in the pit. Of course, they run in and out and harrass you because GOSH kids are needy, but they have a blast in there. When they’re tired of playing, there are babycinos, and a dedicated kids menu with tiny milkshakes and toast soldiers, and at a not-alarming price. There are a fair few high chairs, and the disabled toilet has a change table on the wall; because the place is new, it’s all so delightfully CLEAN which is very thrilling. While there are steps to the two entrances, one step is quite low and the door has a button to press if you need assistance entering, which is pretty handy.

When it’s relatively quiet, it’s fabulous; if you accidentally time it with two other mothers groups, as we have in the past, it is MAYHEM. Organised chaos, and the staff are extremely friendly and breezy about everything and offer to bring extra chairs, but be warned, the parents section is not always a mellow place to be when you’re trying to wedge fifteen adults and forty-six-billion children into it. One time, a bigger kid tried to give the Rocket a hug and she pushed him over. So don’t try and hug small people who don’t want to be hugged, is what I’m warning other potential customers. (I was obviously very proud.)

Cocco Latte

111-113 Union Road

Surrey Hills, 3127

phone: 9899 8291

website

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Much to the happiness of my family and the blind rage of anyone wanting to have a relaxing lunch in a shopping centre food court this fortnight, it’s now school holidays: day one. In celebration, we stayed up too late last night watching cartoons and then slept in this morning. Once we finally dragged ourselves from the bed and even made it into the shower and brushed our teeth, we set out to local super-toyshop Windmill, your destination for all the best and most educational toys around. We wanted some wooden toys for the Rocket as she seems to love them best, and Windmill also has a stack of great science gadgets and games, toys that show a diverse range of cultures instead of everyone being Whitey McWhitebread, and crayons and puppets and really just about anything you could want. Prices range from a couple of bucks to super-pricey gorgeous things but you’ll find something in your price range if you need a cool present. We scooped up some wooden blocks, a dog with a bell, and some emotion dice for Teach’s classroom for around thirty dollars all up.

 

After an exhausting half hour of excitedly showing each other toys and terrifying the baby with Ned Kelly hand-puppets, we were starved, and while Mont Albert has a pile of bakeries and milk bars and restaurants, the only real cafe setting is Caf-feine. It’s a pretty enough place and the service is lovely; in a surprise to no one, I ordered avocado and mushrooms on toast, and Teach ordered the gluten-free pasta (he’s not gluten free, but liked the sound of the flavours.)

Yeah, no amount of Instagram filtering will turn me into a good photographer. The Rocket is eating her new dog up in the corner; she is very good at cafes, though she will desperately try and stick her fingers in everything you’re eating. Look, I want desperately to love Caf-feine. It’s got wi-fi, a courtyard garden, piles of toys, and is within walking distance of my place. The people are friendly and they’ve got a flexible menu with gluten-free and vegetarian options. Unfortunately, the food itself has yet to floor me. It’s a kind of say-what-it-is menu, which means when you order something it doesn’t really come with a flavour kick. My mushrooms and avocado weren’t helped with spice or anything, though the mushrooms maybe had a hint of soy or something (something not-breakfast-y, though.) Teach’s pasta was pasta plus rocket, olives and sundried tomatoes, and nothing else, and he didn’t finish it. It’s not that the food is ghastly, it’s just uninspired, and if I was hungry and needed to be nearby I’d probably head up the road to the Balwyn shops and try out a cafe there (which I really should do.) Anyway, we got a can of coke from the milk bar afterwards then the Rocket howled on the way home, but now everyone is at home and the cat has helped knock over some of the new blocks so I’d say today was successful all up.

 

Windmill

591 Whitehorse Road
Mont Albert

9830 4336

(there are also stores in Hobart, Launceston and Adelaide)

It’s a bit crowded, but you can buy stuff online!

 

Caf-feine

597 Whitehorse Road

Surrey Hills

9830 2604

There’s a ramp up to the door, a decent amount of maneuvering space inside, and a toybox to play with. Service at a high counter. I didn’t use the bathroom, but the signage indicates there’s a disabled toilet out the back with the others.

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