Thursday, January 31

We love playgroup!

Today Beth and I went to playgroup for the first time... I was worried she might not like it as she's been a bit of an anti-social baby... but in the last few weeks, she has really come out of her anti-social shell and today she absolutely *loved* the playgroup experience!

It started at 9:30am... ahd Beth had been awake since about 6:30am... My plan was to go and stay for an hour and then leave when she got tired and needed her morning nap... Well, that plan all kind of went out the window... because Beth fell asleep in the car on the way there... and then fell into a *deep sleep* where nothing would wake her... I was nuzzling her face and blowing kisses on her and she was totally motionless... plus even the sound of the traffic near by wouldn't even wake her (and there were trucks coming down the road!)

I saw Sharon and Emily arrive, so had a brief chat with them before playgroup started and Sharon suggested I just let Beth sleep and then join them when she woke up, since it runs for 2 hours. As it turns out Beth napped for a full 40 minute cycle (I entertained myself by reading the Brisbane street directory)... and then Beth woke up (hot and sweaty from the car!) and we went in to find out what playgroup was about.

It was really busy... apparently there were lots of new people checking it out because it was the first day that playgroup had restarted for the year... The playgroup is called "Jellibabies" (cute huh?) and it's held in a hall which is hired from a church. There a small annual fee and then it's $3 a session... but the first 3 sessions are free while you scope it out and decide if it's for you. My guess was there were about 30-40 kids and then parents on top of that... and all in varying ages from newborns up to 4 year olds... It was really loud and I thought Beth would be overwhelmed by all the kids running around, but she sat and watched Em do some art and crafts (she made an australian flag) and then after a few minutes when Beth had kind of properly woken up and started absorbing everything, she started crawling around and exploring... There were kids everywhere playing on all kind of toys... tricycles, ride on cars/scooters, a bobbing zebra thing, slippery dips, massive lego... and I could see Beth watching all the kids playing and particularly taking an interest in watching kids walk and I could see a bulb of enlightenment go off in her head as she absorbed it all... it's like she was suddenly understanding a whole bunch of stuff...

She wasn't afraid to go up to other children... there was a little boy (3 years old maybe?) playing on a keyboard and Beth came up and sat right next to him and then he gave it to her to play, and Beth played the keyboard to her heart's content... even dancing and bobbing along to the music and then squealing with delight! Just after 10am, there is morning tea (no junk, just fruit for the kids) and all the children line up and wash their hands in a communual soapy bucket and then jostle for a position at the table to get some fruit... after this there is more play (Beth played with giant lego and some playdough (tried to eat it and then spat it out!) and even sat on a ride on bike thing quite happily)... I was really amazed at how adventurous she was... At about 11am, everybody pitched in to clean up and put toys away and then for the last 10 minutes, the kids all get to pick a musical instrument out of the box (maraccas, tambourine, bells etc) and then everybody sits in a circle and sings some nursery rhymes.... and then we finish with ring a ring a rosies and then sing a goodbye and wave goodbye to everyone.

Beth really had a wonderful time and I did as well... got chatting to a few different mums who were all lovely and met a few mums who have only been in Brisbane for a year too... I really like how the playgroup is structured... there is an outdoor area with a sandpit under a shade cloth and there is outdoor equipment for the older kids to play on (like monkey bars/slippery dips) and a vast array of toys inside to play with, plus the art and craft and playdough tables... it is very well organised... and even though there were heaps of kids, it was really fun and there are no bullying kids... I think Beth and I will make this a regular thing... plus having Sharon and Em there to chat to is great too... we love hanging out with them... at one point Em couldn't found Sharon so she came up to me and asked me "Can you see my mummy?"... so I pointed her out and Em went skipping over to Sharon... it's so cute that Em knows who I am... :)

After playgroup went back to Sharon's place for a nice cold drink and some airconditioning (oh - the only drawback of the playgroup, it's in a big hall which has no fans or airconditioning... it gets pretty hot, but the kids don't mind... just got to make sure they drink enough).

Surprisingly, Beth wasn't intimidated by their house and was happily crawling around and exploring... mostly chasing after Em (I think she thinks Em is like a big sister or something)... Em kept squeezing Beth's cheeks and giving her kisses on the cheek... she is going through a "mothering" phase at the moment and it's adorable. We ended up staying for a casual lunch... The girls watched "Jungle Book" on TV while Sharon and I made lunch (toasted sandwiches and some rockmelon) (at one point I caught them both standing on the lounge, Em jumping up and down, Beth laughing with delight!) and then we all had lunch... Beth being really messy! Beth was even standing up and walking around their house... walking to Em and Sharon... and when she got sick of walking Beth would crawl around and chase Em... She even pulled herself up on Sharon's legs while Sharon was doing stuff... She is just so comfortable...

Beth catnapped in the car for 10 minutes on the way home from their place (1:30pm) and then I managed to get her to perk up and stay awake for another hour an half because I didn't want her to sleep so early... A big drink of water, cornflakes and toast did the trick. I feel like I'm always feeding Beth, but she's burning so much energy now that she's walking... She went down for her afternoon sleep at 3:15pm.

So all in all, a busy but very sociable and fun day...

Beth is also toddling around a lot more now (it's only been a day since I classified her as walking!)... she stands for a lot longer and can take up to 15 steps in a row now... She also will walk of her own accord in a direction that she chooses... but she does love to walk to me because she knows she can tumble into my arms and I will catch her... She smiles when I catch her and it just makes my heart melt!

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