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Christmas all over again

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Wednesday, 8 January 2014: Two Hundred and Eighty Two Days Old.

Ayla thought it was Christmas all over again when her Aunty Lez and Uncle Cam and their four kids arrived dsto stay with us for a few days.

It was lovely to have our house brimming over with kids.

Ayla and eight-month old Tilly straight away picked up where they’d left off at The Station; playing happily in a puddle of water and eating fallen leaves (mmm….yummy?)

Ayla watched on intently as her older cousins excitedly made themselves at home, and later in the evening as we were all winding down Ayla relaxed on the couch with a book and two year old Billy.

Seeing how much Ayla loves playing with her cousins is slowly making me feel better about putting her in daycare when I go back to work in a few months.

As much as I hate the idea of leaving her, Ayla gets so much stimulation and enjoyment from hanging out with other kids that I know she’ll fit right in.

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Unforgettable

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Wednesday, 1 January 2014: Nine Months Old.

Today is our last day at The Station, and it was hard not to feel sad!

It’s been awesome to escape from the daily grind and although a few dramas from home still managed to find us in the bush, being surrounded by Hubby’s loving, honest and down to earth family has been unexplainably wonderful.

It’s also been fantastic to watch Ayla hanging out with her cousins and second cousins.

Seeing her play with three other babies in a puddle of water left behind by an afternoon storm today was adorable, and watching her take her first “crawl step” this morning was priceless.

Ayla’s definitely going to miss all the activity when we go home, and although she won’t remember the trip her first visit to The Station has been recorded forever…

After todays storm, Hubby and a couple of the men set about fixing a concrete slab out the back that was pooling water.

And just before it set Hubby let Ayla stand on the slab, leaving behind two tiny footprints and an unforgettable memory.

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The whole “kid” thing

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Sunday, 29 December 2013: Two Hundred and Seventy Two Days Old.

Ayla’s starting to get a hang of this whole “kid” thing I think.

Although Ayla’s always loved watching other children, she hasn’t really had the chance to play with them on a no holds barred basis before.

But tonight after dinner Hubby and I sat Ayla on the floor along side her 7month old cousin to play with a bright red Christmas bauble.

It was so cute to watch them; both little girls wanting to have the bauble for themselves but being just as interested to see it taken away and held in the hands of the other.

After a while Tilly crawled off onto new adventures but other cousins kept coming by to stop and play with Ayla, give her a toy or say hello.

Ayla hung on every interaction like her world depended on it, and each time a cousin walk off I could see her longing to jump up and follow them.

Other things that happened today:

– We all went for an afternoon swim in a dam near the homestead. There was floating toys and kids everywhere and someone set up a diving plank by wedging an aluminium beam into the side of a parked Landcruiser.

– Ayla choked for the first time, on a bit of biscuit. Thankfully I always keep and eye on her when she eats and I was able to dislodge it really quickly. Very scary moment though.

– We put Ayla in a walker for the first time and she loved it! She hasn’t worked out the walking bit yet but she’s close.

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Non-mobile

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Monday, 30 December 2013: Two Hundred and Seventy Three Days Old.

Ayla is the only non-mobile kid out here.

She is also one of the youngest with the nearest-aged cousins being two girls aged 7 months (Tilly) and 10 months (Jazzy) respectively.

Tilly is happily crawling around, and Jazzy has nailed the crawling stage and is now starting to take her first steps.

Although I know I’m being silly, I can’t help but worry about Ayla and feel sad for her sitting all by herself as her cousins scoot past.

I know that the biggest difference is having other kids to watch and learn from, and with Ayla being our first baby she hasn’t had to get or do anything herself.

Each day we’re out here though, I can see Ayla starting to work it out.

It’s clear Ayla knows exactly what she WANTS to do, but she just hasn’t figured out HOW to do it yet, although I’m sure it won’t take long!

As much as I feel sad and worried, the thought of Ayla being up and mobile freaks me out!

I don’t want Ayla to grow up any faster than she needs to and I’m loving my little, quiet, stationary baby just as she is. 🙂

Other things that happened today:

– The three of us visited the cemetery on the hill behind the homestead where Hubby’s Mums ashes, and his Grandma, are buried. It felt a bit strange because we feel their presence with us always but it was important we took Ayla to “see” her Grandma and Great Grandma.

– Ayla had her feet licked by the long, winding tail of a calf this morning. She thought it was hilarious at first until the calfs course, scratchy tongue started wrapping its way around her leg!

– A massive storm cell hit without warning this afternoon, flooding the low-lying areas with a 44mm downpour and blowing a fierce gale that picked up a massive trampoline and flung it into the sky like confetti.

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Cousin cuddles

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Saturday, 28 December 2013: Two Hundred and Seventy One Days Old.

My new cutest thing is to see Baby Ayla in the arms of one of her cousins.

We’ve finally got in to the swing of things at The Station and during the dinner-time cook up tonight I popped Ayla on the floor to play with some toys.

With around 15 kids out here at the moment, it was common for one of them to stop and sit with Ayla for a moment or two, or give her a quick smile and a pat on the head as they walked past.

But a couple of them had so much love to give that they couldn’t resist picking Ayla up for a cuddle.

My heart absolutely melted when I first turned to see my Baby Ayla being carried by a cousin.

She was being held up by two small arms that were wrapped tightly underneath her arms, and her feet were hanging just inches from the ground.

Ayla was wearing a little pink onesie and with each step her cousin took, Ayla’s body rocked from side to side and her chubby little legs dangled calmly in the breeze.

As awkward as it sounds (and looked!) Ayla loved it; she didn’t squirm or wriggle or cry, Ayla was just happy to hang out, literally.

PS – I spotted a scorpion inside the main house tonight and Hubby killed it with a thong as it was scuttling into the lounge room where the kids were watching TV. It was the third scorpion killed in three days.

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Surprise success

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Thursday, 26 December 2013: Two Hundred and Sixty Nine Days Old.

We hit the road at 5.30am this morning, and after 12 hours of driving and 1000 kms, we arrived safe and sound at “The Station*”.

Only three out of the thirty-odd family members knew we were coming so it was great to turn up and still be able to say “surprise!”.

Ayla was wonderful in the car, better than I expected. She cat napped for most of the journey, and when she was awake I just kept changing her toy every hour or so to keep her occupied.

When we arrived I think Ayla was a bit shocked. I can’t recall her ever seeing so many kids in one place, let alone all the eager aunties and uncles just itching to say hello and tickle her chubby cheeks!

But after a bath and a feed Ayla started to get into the swing of things, and before long she was trying her darnedest to squirm out of my arms and into the dirt.

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Family is family

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Thursday, 25 September 2013: One Hundred and Seventy Eight Days Old.

We took Ayla to her Uncle Rob’s (Hubby’s cousin) book launch tonight where she got to meet some of her extended family for the first time.

Hubby has a huge family; he is one of three kids but his mum was one of seven, so he grew up with countless cousins, uncles and aunties in his life.

I remember being overwhelmed by the warmth, love and loyalty of Hubby’s when I first met them.

It didn’t seem to matter which side of the family you were from, how closely related you were or how well you knew them, family is family and that’s all that matters.

It’s an important ideal that I want Ayla to understand and value, despite living thousands of kilometres away from nearly all her family members.

So it’s no wonder my heart brimmed with love as Ayla was whisked off into the crowd in the loving and protective arms of her Aunty.