My Threenager

Photos of three year old birthday party at skate park. Half pipe cake, and kids on bikes and scooters.
Photographs by Richard Baxter

When my baby was new to me (and the world), I made up two songs to soothe him to sleep. That baby now sings along to those songs (and occasionally replaces any one of the words with ‘poo’ because that’s the funniest thing in the world, right?). Poo or no poo, there’s nothing more touching than hearing him softly sing along: Continue reading

Toddler Q&A

Some questions require phoning a friend.

When I imagined life as a mother, it wasn’t tending to a two month old at 3am or changing a protesting one year old’s nappy that I pictured, but rather, long conversations with a verbose toddler questioning everything around him…and that time has come! At the age of 2 years, 4 months, 5 days, 14 hours (approximately) my boy has reached a significant milestone. Today he uttered his very first “why?” and with the release of that one syllable, changed the course of our lives forever, asserting his mind and sharing its wondrous workings. The momentous occasion was in response to his daddy telling him I had gone to work. Why? Oh, if only he knew I ask myself that very question four days a week. From now on, I am going to have to in turn question myself and the ‘truths’ I share, as well as expectations I have on everything from the need to say please and thank you, to the reason he must get up off a supermarket floor that he is glued to with the formidable adhesive formulation that is will power, snot, and tears.

Aside from the inevitable instances where I will likely wish he’d get on with what I ask and not question things, I am excited about conversations to come; the broad range of topics I will have to research and learn alongside him; and, the fresh take on things I have taken for granted, waking up my comparatively dulled sense of curiosity and wonder.

Why doesn’t the moon fall down? Why is it called a zipper? Why do some camels have one hump and some have two?  Why did the chicken cross the road? Even thinking up hypothetical creative questions is hard work!

I expect there to be plenty of questions I will not have neat answers for, but will encourage his interest nonetheless: questions about our very existence, death, bigotry, inequality, the nature of time, the future. So let the fun begin- I have no prepared answers and will have to take it one question at a time. Actually, I do have one prepared answer- if he ever asks:

Why do birds suddenly appear every time you are near?

 I’ll break out in sudden song like they do in musicals and respond with:

Why do stars fall down from the sky, every time you walk by?

Depending on where we are and whether he is at the age of being embarrassed by me, that may be the last “why?” I ever get.


Has a child every stumped you with ‘Why?’ Please share the question and your response, to help me compile a FAQ list that I will carry on me at all times for reference in the event of no internet service.


Image of the Bubble Nebula, Three Line Tale prompt for flash fiction
Photo by NASA

“Mission control, do you read me? The nebula is burning at a greater intensity than previous recordings, just concerned the hubble is drifting since yesterday’s calibration.”

“Mission control here, Captain- news just in suggests the increased luminosity coincides with a terrestrial event in the Southern Hemisphere of Planet Earth at roughly 03:00 GMT, little boy blowing out his birthday candle, a lunch time celebration in his local time.”

The astronaut breathed a sigh of relief, first mission nerves had made her question her judgements, but it seemed it was the instrument’s range that required adjustment in this instance- the kid is a force to be reckoned with.



Happy 2nd birthday to my little boy – my constant source of love and inspiration, combined here with image prompt from Sonya’s Three Line Tales Week 19. Fittingly, the NASA image is an anniversary pic celebrating the Hubble Telescope’s 26th year in orbit. The fiery object is a Bubble Nebula, cloud and hot gases released by the brilliant star at its core. Other pics capture the birthday boy and the moment that threw NASA’s measurements off, and his observation of a sound/light/bubble installation in Melbourne, taken yesterday by Richard Baxter, also known as Daddy.

Within the Milky Way

Photo: Richard Baxter


a smooth start to life

pathways mapped by smiling eyes

nourished by mum’s milk


smooth sailing, my boy

galactic love, milky way

be the star you are


smooth skin, blank canvas

before growth, wisdom, creases

milk teeth sprinkled smile


paths smooth, sometimes bumps

life’s jostles may spill your milk

strength in glass half full


Two word prompt (milk, smooth) courtesy of RonovanWrites’ Weekly Haiku Poetry Prompt Challenge. Thanks Ron!

Assembling Dreams

Photo by Richard Baxter

It came in a flat pack (we should have taken that as warning of what was to follow).

Patience was required for assembly, its urgency announced by toddler tears born of a skewed sense of time- what’s not immediate equates to eternity.

fresh deluge of tears

child’s grievances with time

freestyle wail won’t cease

I tried to distract him with a story and some songs, asking for nothing more than an exchange of the wailing for sound effects on cue, prompted by what Old MacDonald had on his farm. It seemed the only thing on the farm was a crying child.

mum’s fresh out of songs

old MacDonald combat style

eyi eyi…NO!

His dad cursed (in whispers drowned by tears) the parts strewn across the floor, pieces mass produced but requiring solo, manual, slow construction.

The tray was made of sturdy steel, coated a beautiful shade of red, resplendent in its replication of a time and style of yesteryear. The plastic tyres and impractical design (requiring fuming fumbling with minuscule fasteners) revealed it as a product of its age- for consumption by the masses and disposal on destruction.

Complete, at last! We ventured into the cool night air, for the debut expedition.

little red wagon

styled on whimsy, nostalgia

carrying fresh dreams

The wheels maneuvered easily over gravelly ground, with a very happy* toddler commandeering it, parents looking on in wonderment, spellbound by the boy and his red wagon.

fresh breeze heralds love

red hearts tumble like your wagon

boy, we like your style


Inspired by the two word prompt (style, fresh) from RonovanWrites’ Weekly Haiku Poetry Prompt Challenge. To get more words on the page (then on the screen), this week I played around with a haibun! A first for me, and something I’ll definitely do more of. In my reading, I came across a site with some lovely examples of haibun:

*don’t let the serious  face fool you- he is happy. No tears, right? 🙂

La Ritournelle

Questions of “Favourite X” or “Top Three Y” always stump me. I find myself getting excited when I hear a song I haven’t heard in a long time that I once loved or that brings back memories of another, happy time, but I’m usually hard pressed to name a favourite. I recently heard a blast of 80s pop that gave me incredible joy (Prince’s “Let’s go crazy” and Wham!’s “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go” were highlights), but I wouldn’t necessarily list those songs as favourites. Ask me about my “most important” songs, however, and it puts a different spin on the soundtrack in my mind, although I can only think of 2 that are worthy of the category.

First up in my duo of “most important” is “Buffalo Soldier” by Bob Marley. Its importance is simply that it is the first song that I have a clear memory of falling in love with. I would have been about 7 and I didn’t yet have a great command of English, so the lyrics were lost to me, but I loved the song nonetheless.

As much weight as I can place on the musical taste of my 7 year old self (impeccable, I’d say), “Buffalo Soldier” is shadowed in importance by a song that means so much more to me because of the events it accompanied. I first heard Sebastien Tellier’s “La Ritournelle” in my beloved early Saturday morning spin class, back in 2010, the perfect sound to let my mind drift, imagining myself coasting on an open road, far removed from the darkened room I shared with 20 or so other people, as sweat trickled into the crevices of my closed eyes. At the time, I didn’t know anything more about the track than the feeling of exhilaration that took hold of me on hearing it. I always looked forward to spin sessions where the instructor played his mix that included that amazing song. About 6 months after the first listen, I met a man via the wonders of online dating. Being a long distance relationship, we spent countless hours criss-crossing the roads between Melbourne and Adelaide. On one of our road trips, that amazing song popped up on his iPod, giving me even more pleasure when I was able to recline, sun warming my skin as I sat in the passenger seat beside the man I was getting to know, and falling in love with. The importance of “La Ritournelle” in our relationship was cemented on yet another road trip- when we stopped to dine at one of the few places open on the high street of the country town we were in. What should be playing when we walked in? you guessed it! There is something so joyous and life affirming in the long instrumental intro and the minimal lyrics that say so little and yet say it all…

“Oh nothing’s gonna change my love for you
I wanna spend my life with you
So we make love on the grass under the moon
No one can tell, damned if I do
Forever journeys on golden avenues
I drift in your eyes since I love you
I got that beat in my veins for only rule
Love is to share, mine is for you”

Fast forward to June 2014 and the man with the music and I were in a birthing suite, playlist prepared for the arrival of our son. I couldn’t bear to listen to any music once contractions kicked in, as any sensory stimuli beyond what I was forced to endure was not welcome in my world at the time. I requested the music be turned off, and music man wisely obliged, though my request to remove the clock and its incessant ticking was ignored by the midwives.

The arrival of our precious baby boy was, and still is, the most significant moment in my life. The love, the tears, the miracle, the wonder, the exhaustion, and did I say love? It all still comes back to me when I hear the very first song that played, once I permitted music in the birthing suite Oh nothin’s gonna change my love for you…Love is to share, mine is for you. My song for the music man and our baby boy.

Prompt from Writing 101, Day 3 Commit to a Writing Practice. Today’s Prompt: Write about the three most important songs in your life — what do they mean to you? Today’s twist: You’ll commit to a writing practice. The frequency and the amount of time you choose to spend today — and moving forward — are up to you, but we recommend a minimum of fifteen uninterrupted minutes per day.

Sunrai and the Planets

I don’t have a lot of say in how or where I spend one minute to the next. I just have to accept my circumstances, or at least that is what I’m expected to do. I do, however, have control on what I can focus my eyes on, and my thoughts and observations while doing so. That freedom is mine despite all else that is outside of my control. Perhaps that is the ultimate freedom. Most of my days, and nights for that matter, are spent in bed. If I look to my left, there is a window with an expansive view of a valley, the colours of the undulating hills and trees varying depending on the time of day, and the cleanliness of the glass. I’ve yet to see a change in season, but I’m told that’s coming. That view is dependent, of course, on whether the curtains are open. If they are drawn then to my left is the rather unfortunate choice of floral fabric that I have no choice but to avert my gaze from. To my right is a wardrobe and various other pieces of bedroom furniture, including a much larger bed which doesn’t interest me much unless it is occupied, though most of the time it is empty and I am the sole occupant of the room. The only other viable option to while away my waking hours is to look right above, and that is where things have taken an interesting turn of late. Continue reading


Being true to my 30 day challenge

I am seated, preparing for entry nineteen

The contours of my chair are moulded to me ergonomically

A feature not shared by the too high wooden table

Upon which my arms rest, sleeves rolled up, bare skin cool against its surface

I hear the suckling and quick but barely audible breathing of my baby while he’s nursing

The perfume of his sweet baby-ness lingers

As I pause my typing

A quite stillness falls

My keyboard hushed

Reaching less than arms length, feeling my skin brush against the table’s grains

My hand is warmed by a cup of rooibos tea

Raising it to drink, its earthy, nutty, faintly vanilla scent embraces me

Footsteps across the room, the makeshift studio where my partner paints

The floor creaks against his weight

I imagine the sound I hear is a rag wiping against the coarse canvas

Then the thud of a frame being moved in preparation for the next

I feel the temperature drop

Winter is lingering

A reminder to start the fire for the evening

I anticipate the sound of crackling wood

The scent of red gum that pervades our clothes even when the fire is out

And the last of its embers radiate their heat

My partner gulps his tea and catches my gaze

I tell him what I’m doing, diligently compiling a list of all I hear, smell and taste

He asks “can you smell my earl grey?”

No, the floral notes of bergamot don’t travel well across the room

Or lose to the caramelly sweetness of carob rice cakes

Bite sized portions that lull me into gluttony

I hear the rustle of the packet as I dig around for the last remaining morsels

Followed by the crunch as I bite

The velvety smoothness of the carob melts, aided by the warmth of my tea

My heart recites poetry as I watch my baby, his eyes now closed

I’m content in the moment

Afternoon rolls slowly into evening


Write a list that transcends its orderly or numbered format (prompt from this DPchallenge, with list based on things I could smell, hear and taste at the time of writing).