<Paula> 15 Febuary 2008 - Before I start on anything I just have to say that Ella's health is great, she is growing so fast and just doing so well, you would never know that she had major liver surgery just a couple of months ago.

It has been a rather uneventful summer albeit hot. Apparently it is the hottest summer in 11 years, which for NZ is a big thing. Australians will laugh when I say I don't think we have even had a day where the temperature has been in the 30's. But you only talk about the weather when you have nothing else to say, and I don't. So as much as Chris and I were not going to let our little baby take over our lives she pretty much has and it is all we have to talk about because we are to tired to do anything else with our time, except for the everyday things that are required for survival. Washing being one of those things, it is amazing how something so small can generate so much laundry! But you don't want to hear about that. Those of you with children can smile to yourselves and say I told you so under your breath.

So now that I have established that we have nothing to talk about except our little girl, I will get started. She has been doing new things all the time, it is so exciting to watch. She loves books. She started to copy us in the way that we hold the book, it began with her hand our hand then slowly it crept over to the page. From there she wants to participate in turning the pages. She can actually do it herself and wants to, sometimes needing a little encouragement. The story is by the by, it is the page turning activity she is into. Holding her bottle has progressed too. First she would use her hands to push it out of her mouth when she wanted a rest. Then to pull it towards her mouth. Now she likes to hold the bottle with both hands and sit upright when drinking, often loosing concentration and letting go.

We have started solids, it took her a week to get the hang of it and now she loves eating from a spoon. Although I have had to back off on the solids for a few days because she has started vomitting frequently (more washing, I am running out of clean tops for me often!) She doesn't like lying on her back to play much anymore, she rolls over to her tummy, but hasn't figured out how to roll back yet. There is also the discovery of new sounds. Parts of this is as intolerable to me as sleepless nights, the hungry seagull noise I though was the worst, now we have the high pitched squeal. I am sure the neighbourhood dogs are running for cover. I need to let her learn and discover, but my brain cells are finding it hard to focus under such duress. There is a balance there somewhere, I am still looking for it, any ideas please share. I was at mothers group and I discouraged her sqwealing and one of the other mothers scolded me and said it was a beautiful sound, I am obviously missing something ????

10th March 2008 - It is taking me a while to finish this update but I am determined that today is the day. Through the month of February the page turning facination has progressed to exploring the pictures with hands first then attempting to taste them. She still hasn't got the hang of rolling onto her back, on a very positive note the noises have progressed to more acceptable sounds (sigh of relief from me). Solids are going well, she even has her own highchair, she is looking very grown up sitting there drinking from her cup. I packed the steriliser away the other day, it was a little emotional realising that we are progressing so fast into new and unknown territory in the stages of her growth. Talking about unkown territory she started to pull her knees up under herself but has stopped . She has no problem moving around on her back, she just pushes her bum off the ground and pushes with her feet. It amazes us that she can find her dummy in the cot and figure out how to reach it, in the dark! She is making new friends at playgroup, although spends most of her time watching the older kids in fascination. She is determined to find her own comfortable position to sleep, it reminds me of a catstretched out and twisted but asleep, I can't actually describe it, I will have to take a photo.

At the park.

Grandad's 90th birthday.

In her new highchair.

Making new friends at playgroup. This is Emma.

There is lots of fun stuff to play with at playgroup.

Giving solids a try.

Chris and I have been feeling a little more human lately with 4-5 hours of unbroken sleep on a more regular basis. So we have been having some friends around to dinner, which has been really good to catch up with people. We all flew to Sydney at the end of February, we visited with Jill and Kerry, it was good to spend some relaxing time with them. We also attended the beautiful wedding of Peter & Heidi Afele. It was a really nice wedding. My question is why do I always forget to take at least one tissue to weddings? While we were at Jill and Kerry's we spent a day driving around the Hunter Valley, stopping at a vineyard for a lovely lunch, we also did some shopping, which was great. We spent a day catching up with Pr and Mrs Bertleson, and Kelvin, Susan and children. It was a great afternoon. Aunty Jill bought Ella a paddling pool, that we tried out on the back deck, we called it 'baking in the pool', the measuring spoons were the best toy ever! We went bush bashing with the pram, there is a walk along Dora Creek from Beauty Point Rd to the swinging bridge (for those of you that know the Morisset/Coorangbong area). It was a really nice walk and only had to carry the pram twice. All in all the 'week' went very quickly. I emphasis week becasue we just don't know what happened to it, it seriously just vanished, no sooner had we got there and it was nearly time to go home.

The question everyone has is how did she cope with flying? Very well infact. The flight over there she was just so excited that nothing was going to dampen her spirits, including the very rough landing, she thought it was great, waving her arms and legs around and laughing loudly as everyone else on the plane was gripping their armrests. On the way back her ears bothered her a little but was happy to suck on a bottle of water when Chris suggested it to her and it seemed to keep her calm and help. There is nothing worse than being in a confined space that you can't get out of with a screaming child, but everyone understands that the parents do the best they can, and that children often don't understand what is happening to them. Never the less I was very relieved that she didn't scream or cry for that matter only the occassional wimper.

On the plane, checking out what is going on outside while waiting to taxi down the runway.

Peter, Heidi and their parents.

Peter and Heidi during their service.

Our travel highchair, it looks like we have strung her up, but we haven't.

Jill's fish tank provided hours of entertainment.

Out to lunch and having a chat with Aunty Jill.

Arriving at Sydney airport (wrong order I know).

"TV is much more interesting than drinking water, don't you think so Daddy?"

Out to lunch.

"Daddy stop pouring water over me, I am trying to get my photo taken."

Kerry took some great photos of Ella, I just can't decide which ones to add. This is just a couple.

Apart from all of that our days are filled with the same old, same old. We often reminis about our holiday in Australia, it seems so long ago now. Chris spends his day at work, Ella beams from ear to ear when she hears him come home in the evening. She is definately daddy's little girl from 5.30 onwards. She could be really upset about something and daddy walks in after being at work all day and the world is just a better place. I spend my days, doing laundry, washing bottles, and constantly tidying up, although you would never know by the condition of the house.

Oh yes, I can't forget Chris's fun day at the race track. He took his evo7 to Pukekohe race track (for those of you that don't know NZ it is where the V8 supercars race). Pukekohe racetrack I will let Chris add a couple of photos and tell you a bit about it.

<Chris> I was very pleased with the time of 1:20 (avg 128km/h) in the wet, as my car has a production speed limiter at 180km/h which would kick in half way down the back straight. The record for a production vehicle for the track is 1:05.882 (track is 2.841km avg speed 155km/h), so I was pretty happy with that. Shocking fuel economy, my trip computer was showing 3km/l (33l/100km), but that wasn't what it was about - lots of fun really. I'm glad I quit while I was ahead as a few others broke their cars as the day went on. A couple of photos here (thanks Peter W), lots of others at Pukekohe Trackday

<Paula> I promise to be a little more on to it for an update for the month or March. Till then, feel free to email or call (or the faithful letter in the mail), we love hearing from you all.