Sunday, 27 April 2014

A review of Freo's 2014 Street Art Festival

Here's a brief introduction to the Freo Doctor Blog's latest guest writer:

Name: Elodie

Crawling Status: None of your business.

Number of Teeth: NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. (Those are personal questions. Honestly, where are the manners you're always going on about?)

Days since last nappy explosion: 9. Hang on, wait a second... Nope. 9.

Record number of stink eyes given before midday: 36 (yesterday)

Favourite Geelong footballer: Cameron Guthrie. He wears No.29 which is the same number day that I was born on. He also has blonde locks like me. The stink eyes he gives to Hawthorn players are almost as good as my stink eyes.

Likes: People watching; Giving old people stink eyes when they watch me; Giving stink eyes indiscriminately before midday; Engaging with crazy people on the street that Mum wants to avoid; Seagulls; Dogs.

Dislikes: Pearl (my avian minion whom I'm ignoring at the moment for hissing at me); Old people; People watching me; Old people watching me.


So to my review:

Liked: Lots of seagulls. 

Wherever we went there were seagulls. My dad made sure that we spent a good fifteen minutes following them. 

(Editor's note: It wasn't fifteen minutes and it wasn't 'following'.) 

The seagull that performed on Kulcha's balcony to close the festival was fantastic, despite the stage being a bit high for my liking. (Organisers take note: babies show approval by grabbing, yanking, and gouging. Clapping takes concentration and motor skills and is a serious business to be conducted only for the gratification of favoured grandparents.) Kudos to the seagull for its remarkable voice and kudos to the organisers.

The other performances - fire-eating, playing with knives, etc - were ho-hum, to be perfectly honest, and nothing I haven't attempted myself when the parental gaze has relaxed for more than two seconds. And yet these amateurs were raking it in! The next time I'm told there's not enough money for toys I'll know what to say. 

Pro tip: It doesn't take a fool to figure out that seagulls are the stars of these festivals. Parents, let your babies see as many performances by them as possible. Also they're accessible! Don't think twice about chasing them around in a pram, even if your legs start to feel tired. You should have bought the more expensive pram and only have yourself to blame.

Liked: Lots of dogs. 

Wherever we went there were dogs. Big ones, small ones, hairy ones, smelly ones, ones with ginger eyebrows. We even got to meet Oscar, a poodle, who was nice enough to let me test his elasticity (ears / face were stretchiest). 

Pro-tip: Dogs are malleable love cushions. Do not ever, ever, ever feel that your baby has been touched and been licked by enough dogs. 

Liked: The three large, oddly shaped seagulls I saw walking around the Esplanade (Editor's note: Saurus). 

I'm looking to replace my current avian minion (Pearl has been annoying me) so I was ready with both hands to grab the one that came up to me. It was a close call for that large seagull. 

Pro-tip: Parents, do not run from a large seagull. 

Liked: Lots of people. 

There were lots of people to watch wherever we went. Most were savvy enough to refrain from making unsolicited eye contact with me, although I had to bring out the stink eye for a couple of offenders. 

Pro tip: Smelly people with loud voices make for the most interesting watching. 

Liked: Ramming into the back of people at the National Hotel stage.

Initially I thought that the organisers had devilish babies in mind when they located a stage at the front the National Hotel. So many people to ram in my pram! My dad didn't disappoint either, but it got a bit annoying after ramming the first twenty legs. 

Pro-tip: You can get too much of a good thing. 

Disappointed: I only met one dog. 

Even though we saw lots of dogs, my dad was a bit slow on the uptake. I was desperate to meet one of the star performers who was at the Town Hall stage. A huge brown St Bernard. He looked amazing! Kudos to the organisers, thumbs down to my dad. I didn't get to meet him though. (Editor's note: I was worried that Elodie would test its malleability a bit too much and get eaten.)

Pro-tip: My dad failed. When my dad fails I decide that his belly button needs to be wider and wider and deeper and deeper. (Editor's note: I just felt a sharp pain in my belly button.)

Disappointed: Where were the cats?

The other day, I saw a cat at a farmers market. In our travels, my dad and I didn't see one cat. I wonder why the organisers didn't book any cats for the festival? They make for the best grabbing. This is a definite lesson learnt for the organisers. Book some cats!

Untried: World record number of bouncy castles

My dad didn't let me go on these balloons of delight. They look promising though.

Pro-tip: See my earlier comment about making belly buttons wider and deeper.

In general the festival produced more likes than disappointments for me. To the organisers: keep booking the seagulls and the dogs. Book some cats next time. Maybe shift the location of the people ramming stage as well.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Esplanade Youth Plaza looks the goods plus things Elodie likes and doesn't like

I'm really glad that this post is such an easy one to write: the Esplanade Youth Plaza looks the goods. Phew. 

On Sunday Elodie and I were on one of our morning adventures when I saw that the fences were down around the Plaza. I couldn't resist stopping to check it out. While Elodie happily busied herself with throwing toys out of the pram, I stood and admired the new addition to the Esplanade. The plaza really looks great! I am impressed. A couple of years ago now, I wrote about Geelong's skatepark/youth plaza. I think Freo's is better (and it is in the right location).

Things Elodie likes and doesn't like

Because this post was so easy to write, I couldn't resist providing Freo Doctor Blog readers (if there are any left) with a quick update on some things Elodie likes and doesn't like.

Obsessed: Seagulls

Number one on the list of things Elodie likes are seagulls. Elodie is obsessed with them. One reason why I must have lost eight kilograms since she was born has been the many, many, many kilometres pushing a pram around the Esplanade following seagulls. Visitors to the Esplanade must be used to a very sweaty blogger pushing his daughter in her pram while she directs him Napoleon style on campaign after campaign. I get the feeling that she could chase seagulls all day. Heaven help them when she can walk.

Obsessed: Straws

A close number two on the list are straws. Yep, if Elodie manages to get her little hands onto a straw (her mum and I do our best to keep them out of sight), it will not be relinquished. Ever. 

Likes: Pinching bruises

This week, Elodie's favourite bath toy has been the bruise on my left arm. She happily pinches it every couple of minutes. After satisfying her bloodlust Elodie normally turns her attention to playing with a funnel or a bath tap. It isn't long before her attention returns to my bruise and with a smile, she extends her pinching fingers again and again and again. 

Doesn't like: Change rooms

A couple of weeks ago poor Elodie was subjected to a nappy change from an amateur: Her dad. It gets worse. It was in a change room at Clancy's at City Beach. That will be the last time I change Elodie in a 'dedicated' change room. 

If a cafe/restaurant ever wises up to having a super awesome (which basically amounts to clean) change room they will be inundated with dads and their babies, let alone mums. 

Causes a retaliatory stink eye before some crying: Pearl's hissing

Elodie got seriously offended by Pearl hissing at her the other day. It could have something to do with six months worth of 'grabbing and not letting going' by Elodie. After being hissed at, Elodie gave her patented stink eye to Pearl before having a bit of a cry. I stepped in and let Elodie take her frustrations out on my beard. 

I've noticed that Elodie is super observant. If her memory is the same, Pearl better watch out.

Undecided: socks

Some of us might have forgotten but, about a week ago it got a tad nippy in Perth. I even recall considering whether or not it was time to stop walking around in my jocks in the apartment. My wife put some socks on Elodie, who was unsure as to these new furry feat. When I got home from work and was greeted to the sight of Elodie wearing shoes (because she kept taking her socks off), I started panicking that Elodie was growing up too quickly. It didn't help that I watched the second season of Puberty Blues for the first time that night.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Being Elodie's Dad

At fifteen minutes after six o'clock on a Saturday morning, I discovered one of the most effective alarm clocks in the world: my then four month old daughter's hand whacking me on the back of my head.

Sleep is, I now know, impossible when a four month old daughter wants her dad to wake up. I also picked up that it's quite possible that Elodie can tell the difference between those days when she sleeps in (week days) and those when she gets to go on early morning Fremantle adventures (weekends). On weekends, she generally wakes up fifteen minutes after my alarm normally sounds and positions herself within convenient whacking distance of me. She then proceeds to whack me unceremoniously. This all happens while her mum watches on.

I could have done with a couple of more hours sleep. But the Elodie alarm had sounded. It was no use pretending to be asleep. Elodie has the kind of persistence that would make Napoleon Hill proud. Once I had sufficiently collected myself from my slumber, I turned to face my little whacker. Elodie was lying on her back facing me with her arm outstretched. Her gummy grin immediately put me in a good mood. I thought to myself that there were worse ways to wake up. All the while Elodie whacked on unperturbed. She was ready for her early morning Freo adventure.

Elodie's seven months old now. She's moved on from early morning whacking to just whacking in general, beard grabbing and snacking on noses. She still enjoys her Freo adventures but at a more civilised hour. I thought that seeing as I'm making my slow and rather disorganised return to blogging, I'd open with a blog post about some of my favourite times over the past seven months being the very proud dad of Elodie.

Number 1: Early morning adventures

Taking Elodie out on an early weekend morning adventure around Fremantle is one of my favourite parts of the week. Our adventures normally kick off with Elodie doing a poo exactly five seconds after she's been buckled into her pram. After a nappy change that generally degenerates, much to Elodie's chagrin, into raspberries being given out left right and centre by yours truly we're normally on our way a good forty five minutes later.

The early morning adventure has its genesis in the almost simultaneous moment when Elodie discovered that she could whack me and my wife deciding that having a couple of hours decent sleep without my snoring was best for our little family unit. We're normally out an about for a good couple of hours. So far Elodie's three favourite places to visit are the Esplanade, the markets and the old Myer building. Lately New Edition with its resident Irish Wolfhound at Velvet Sushi, cooling watermelon juices from the Grumpy Sailor and lots and lots of books for Elodie to grab has been added to the list. 

Number 2: The great poo explosion of 2013

When I talked about this favourite moment with my wife, she asked: Which poo explosion? Yep, there's been a few. Elodie's Christmas present to us was possibly her biggest explosion yet, which was immediately diagnosed as requiring a bath. There was also the explosion when I was playing with Elodie in the bath. One minute she was happily playing. Then, in an instant she stopped and I saw her 'concentration' face. I heard a low rumble emanate from her tummy and a couple of bubbles rose to the surface before I realised with horror what was about to happen. That poo made both of our eyes water. My wife laughed so hard she cried tears of laughter. My favourite poo explosion was the time Elodie sneezed in the middle of a nappy change and sprayed my wife AK47 style. I walked in to the sight of my wife frozen in shock at Elodie's ability to turn her white top into a Jackson Pollock painting. In a millisecond. 

Number 3: Elodie's first midnight play

The old Myer building hosting it's first rooftop bar gig also coincided with Elodie's first midnight play. That night I came to bed around midnight and was surprised to see Elodie awake. I quietly snuck into bed. A couple of seconds passed before a little hand started whacking my head. I pretended to ignore the whacking but to no avail. Elodie, keen for a play, rolled over to face me. She outstretched her arms and smiled a cheeky smile. I tried to hold out, but gave in and returned her smile. My wife, who could see what was going on from a mile away hissed at me: "No play for you." But Elodie was nothing if persistent. She wanted a play and if she wasn't going to get it from her mum she was definitely going to get a play from her unsuspecting dad. So with the music blaring in the background, Elodie chuckling to herself wormed her way over to my side of the bed for her first ever midnight play. Fifteen minutes later she was fast asleep.

Number 4: The great avocado and banana shower

Elodie is now onto solids. Kind of. We've begun introducing solids using a strategy that my wife calls baby-led weaning, but which should really be known as the time of the day when Mum, Dad and Elodie sit together and shower each other with food. Elodie loves it! After some initial misgivings, I'm on board as well. It gives me a chance to fling some mashed up banana and avocado at my wife. Speaking of banana and avocado, last week I returned home from work and witnessed the end of one seriously fun looking banana and avocado shower. Elodie and my wife were covered in banana and avocado! I've never seen Elodie smile as much and laugh as long and loud as those five minutes. Since then we've moved onto sweet potato, baby carrot and Granny Smith apple mash baths.

Number 5: Bath time with Elodie

Bath time with Elodie is hands down the best time of my day. Elodie loves water. When I say she loves water, I say it in the same way that my wife may describe the way I love attacking a breakfast buffet on a cruise ship. Elodie graduated to the big bath soon after she outgrew the laundry sink. My wife had read somewhere that it was nice for a parent to spend bath time with their baby and suggested that I give it a whirl. Man, I'm glad she did. It's great! I get to hang out with Elodie when I get home from work. I also get to relive my childhood by playing in the bath with Elodie. It's a win-win. Sometimes, Elodie and I will be in the bath playing for ages and ages. Sure it has it's foibles like the time Elodie did a poo explosion but all of the smiles, laughs and shenanigans have been worth it. 

Well, that's about all folks. I'm off to test out some more purée's for Elodie, my wife and I to chuck around the living room.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Elodie has arrived!

Huzzah! Freo Doctor Blog readers will be glad to know that my baby daughter Elodie has arrived!

She was born on 29 May 2013 (on JFK's birthday) weighing 3.410kg. My wife and I are still debating whether or not she has jet black or brown hair.

I'm glad to report that my wife and Elodie are both well.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

A weiro and his man cave

My wife sent me a link to this article by Tom Cox who writes for The Guardian. 'My dad and the toad that lives in his shoe' is such a great read that I had to recommend it to Freo Doctor blog readers.

Speaking of toads living in shoes, Tom Cox's article got me thinking about our little boy weiro, Spiro, who has set up his own man cave at the top of our pantry. Freo Doctor Blog readers will remember Spiro from his starring role in such posts as 'What my weiros, Pearl and Spiro, have taught me about placemaking,' where I revealed his fetish for playing with my wife's makeup.

Well, he's back, but this time he's discovered his weiro masculinity. For the last fortnight, Spiro has been on a bout of antibiotics twice daily to sort out an eye infection. How do you administer medicine to a bird, you have probably never had to wonder? Basically it involves snaffling him at unsuspecting moments and then, as he opens his mouth to sink his beak into the tender flesh of your finger (or, if you've been doing it for more than a day, one of the many bandaids now covering your hand), you squirt the antibiotic cocktail down his throat.

Our success in giving him his medicine lasted a couple days before Spiro developed telepathic powers. The thought that it might be a good time to give him a dose need only flutter across my consciousness, and he would snap into high alert mode and place himself somewhere unreachable. I don't think that I need to explain that no amount of placemaking skills will help with nabbing a wily weiro who can read minds. So, I did what any self-respecting 36 year old male would do: Walk around with a tea towel draped over my head (for camoflage), resolutely thinking about my latest town planning/placemaking fad and definitely not about grabbing birds. When that failed, Band of Brothers got a couple of viewings. Freo Doctor Blog readers will be relieved to find out that my wife did not issue the go ahead for my 3am
shock and thunder raids.

Although we managed to keep up his medicine routine at great cost to both finger and Spiro's amour propre, Spiro wasn't finished with yet. About five days ago, I sauntered into the kitchen Hobbit style for my second breakfast when something spiky swooped down from the pantry and attached itself to my scalp with what felt like little grappling hooks. The little bugger had been watching Band of Brothers! He had set up his own stronghold and was now implementing a classic ambush of his unsuspecting enemy.

He banged on my head woodpecker style before retreating to the pantry and higher ground. Scratching my scalp, thinking that Spiro surprisingly gave a pretty good head massage, I looked up to see him watching me with a glint in his eye. To cap off his victory he let fly with a machine gun rat atat atat whistle and then disappeared back into the recesses of the pantry's top shelf. At that point, I didn't know whether to laugh or to be truly scared (I resolved to sleep with all of our bedroom doors closed that night just to be sure).

Since then, the little guy has been flying off each day for some Spiro time in his man cave, emerging with a look of rejuvenation and renewed confidence. The girl weiros, Pearl and Ramona, aren't allowed in. No one is quite sure exactly what he gets up to in there - my wife reports that during the day she often hears him whistling songs to himself and banging on something, while at other times the cave becomes mysteriously silent. 

Thankfully, his fortnight of antibiotics came to an end the other day and the little guy (with a healthy eye) is sitting on my shoulder enjoying a preen as I type this post. I'm tempted to check out Spiro's man cave but I'm a little worried about what a mind reading, Band of Brothers-watching weiro might be constructing. Plus even boy weiros need their space. Well, there goes the story of the little weiro who lives (part-time) in our pantry...inspired by the toad who lives in a shoe.

And seriously, check out the article by Tom Cox. It's friggin kick ass.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Placemaking power salute: Market Lane, Fremantle Markets

For some time now the good folk at the Fremantle Markets have been quietly kicking some placemaking goals.

With their improvements to Market Lane they’ve taken their placemaking efforts to a new level. The lane has been transformed from a drab entrance into an attractive, interesting part of the markets. Much needed seating with accompanying shade (very important for chronic sweaters such as yours truly) means that people can enjoy their food. Artificial turf combines with new greenery to soften the laneway, making for a more people-friendly place. Regular activities for the kids located in the lane attracts the crowds and cranks up the interest levels.

All of these new initiatives add up to a very earnest placemaking power salute being issued to the Fremantle Markets.