The Ladygirl, a plastic spoon and a whole lot of dirt.

Since we brought Gabriel home from hospital, we’ve been meaning to catch up with my friend and former colleague Tayla. However, life with a newborn and a toddler can be hectic, so it’s taken until now for us to book in a chance to spend some time together.

Of course, the morning started as it always does with me asking Briar what colour she’d like to wear today. Mema says that giving toddlers too much choice can be overwhelming, however its important to empower children to have some choice in their lives. So rather than asking Briar to pick an outfit from her overflowing wardrobe of beautiful options, we generally just give her two choices or ask her to pick a colour to wear.

This morning Briar declared “I want to be a Ladygirl!”

On that note, I found a blue floral dress and asked her if it was suitable attire for a Ladygirl? The answer was yes, so that was simple! Briar was in a great mood as we were going out to play, however she did keep telling me she wanted to go to church. She must have been reading my 1am Sunday Morning blog post!

Tayla was suitable smitten with Baby Gabe and came bearing gifts. For Gabe, an adorable animal print sleepsuit featuring sloths, amongst other animals. The sloth could well be Gabriel’s spirit animal; slow-paced and chilled out, sleepy and super cute.

Tayla gifted Briar a hoodie with unicorns or “Neigh neighs” as Briar pointes out their similarity to horses. This is very fitting as Tayla has horses, and we are keen to take Briar to visit Tayla’s placid horse and give him a pat. Briar has in fact met one of Tayla’s horses previously (when she was only a few months old), but ironically she slept through the experience.

We spent some time browsing at the Queanbeyan Markets. It was a small turn out today with only about half a dozen stalls. However, my little shopaholic was in her element. She got a sausage from the Lions Club and then we found some fantastic bows at one of the craft stalls and Briar stocked up. She proudly carried her paper shopping bag around with her for the rest of the day.

A young girl, the daughter of a stall holder, was selling custom drawings for 50c. She was a great spruiker, approaching us and drawing us in with her sales pitch. Who has the heart to say no to a little girl offering to draw you a picture for just fifty cents? Having observed Briar’s sheer delight at finding Wiggles bows, she offered an Emma Wiggles picture and so we dutifully paid our fifty cents and she set to work.

Briar took one look at the young girls set up, and needed no invitation to join. She plonked herself down on the ground beside the girl, proceeded to take the lids of every single pen available and started to draw some of her own masterpieces. Briar offers her artistic skills for no charge at all!!

I apologised profusely to the young girl and her mother but thankfully they were incredibly understanding and were amused by Briars forthright attitude and cute pig tails. Besides, we had just spent $20 on bows so I’m sure that covered the cost of the paper!

We moved on as soon as our Emma Wiggles portrait was complete and Briar got a lucky dip at the stall beside the young artist. It turned out to be and Egg and Spoon. Briar was delighted; that girl just loves a plastic egg and cons me into buying her Kinder Surprises far too frequently.

Much to Briar’s delight, the markets were in close proximity to a playground so after our brief shopping, it was time for some sliding and putting to use her newly aquired egg and spoon.

Whilst their intended purpose may have been to enhance fine motor skills and practice balance and coordination, Briar put her egg and spoon to work digging up the dirt. She may be the prettiest Ladygirl in the loveliest lady-dress, but this girl had worn her boots for good reason.

After a play and a good hour of Briar keeping Tayla busy swinging, spinning and sliding, we’d worked up our thirst for coffee (or a smoothie in Taylas case, having just had her wisdom teeth removed!) However we were sad to see the Millhouse Cafe closed on weekends now. Its such a beautiful cafe, with eclectic tables scattered amongst the huge shady peppercorn trees. The outdoor eating area includes a great cubby house for kids to play in, plus an assortment of ride-on toddler cars, trikes and bikes for children to ride through the dirt!

I’m surprised to see this lovely cafe no longer open on weekends as we dined there on a Sunday morning just weeks ago and it was absolutely packed. People were sitting on the ground drinking coffee as they waited for a table!

Nevermind, instead we headed to another favourite; the Ciao Cafe just around the corner. You know you’re a toddler mum when you judge a cafe on its play areas, and Ciao has a great assortment of toys to keep Briar amused. The staff there are always accommodating and best of all, Ciao Cafe runs a Pay It Forward tab for people in need of a coffee or something to eat. A blackboard behind the counter keeps a tally and customers have the option of giving their change or a chosen amount to the Pay It Forward fund to pay for a drink for someone who can’t afford one.

In true Briar style, a mop and bucket was needed before the end of our visit after a mishap with a milkshake and a plastic dump truck. Lucky the staff are so lovely, hey?

No trip into Queanbeyan town is complete without a quick visit to the bakery for a free balloon and then a quick ride on the yellow Bob the Builder truck. Who could say no to that smile?

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