My fave … of 2014

It’s nice to look back and reflect…

My fave recipe book: Save with Jamie (and fave recipe inside is chicken stew with dumplings).

My fave dessert: Donna Hay’s Chocolate Meringue Cake (DH Issue 74 APR/MAY 2014).

My fave savoury dish: Donna Hay’s Asian Meatballs (DH Issue 74 APR/MAY 2014) – yes, this edition is amazing. Followed closely by her Lamb and Sumac Sausage Rolls (DH Issue 77 OCT/NOV 2014).

My fave read: The girl with the all the gifts – Mike Carey.

My fave TV shows: Wentworth, House of Cards.

My fave movie: The Grand Budapest Hotel.

My fave tea: Tlicious, black tea with cinnamon.

My fave blog: Monkeys and Mooncakes.

My fave garden success: Black Tuscan Kale.

My fave DIY project: re-painting a second-hand plant stand.

My fave baby product: Fisher Price Rainforest Jumperoo (so I could shower in peace).

My fave toddler product: Tupperware’s ‘Sandwich Keeper Plus’ Lunchbox.

My fave shop: Invite Me on Anderson St, Yarraville.

My fave cafe: Butcher 128 (Robert St, Yarraville).

My fave entertaining-for-the-kiddies cafe: Jellybread (Barkly St, Footscray).

My fave take-away: Hard choice between Grill’d and Fish & Chips on Geelong Rd near Yarraville.

My fave place for a drink: Lady Moustache (Seddon).

My fave clothes shop: Pash, in Pt. Fairy

My fave useful purchase: 2nd hand chest freezer (I love being able to make big batches of things and have spares in the freezer, especially for the kiddies). Thankyou IWBSS!

My fave pretty, but unnecessary, purchase: 6 vintage teacups with saucers. Thankyou IWBSS!

My fave parenting moment: Having two children finally sleep through the night. Ahhh….

What are your faves for the year?

Car caddy

Some little friends in our lives got one of these little pressies in the last few months. I had a lot of fun making these, and they really didn’t take very long. They’re not as pretty as the originals that inspired me, but they work just as well!

I based this on this fantastic tutorial on ‘homemade by jill’.

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The first one I made with velcro, but I decided that an elastic strap might be easier for little fingers.

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Have you made something similar? I’m always looking for new fun things to make! Drop a link below.

Losing the afternoon nap

This has probably been my hardest parenting hurdle. For a few short months, I had blissful afternoons. With both munchkins snoozing for about two hours at the same time, I could do the chores in peace, bake, waste time on social media and drink as many HOT cups of tea as I liked. It was even possibly to occasionally have a nap myself!

But no more…

I started to realise that when the two-year-old munchkin had a long arvo kip, she was up at all hours of the night singing and talking. Suddenly my great 12-hour sleeper was one no more.

But afternoon naps?? What about MY time???

This was why it was the hardest parenting decision. I consulted all my friends who have older kiddies and gathered ideas. As one of the wise mums at playgroup pointed out, it’s psychologically difficult for the stay-at-home parent – in practice, it’s just another step. Another step up that parenting ladder.

So this is what we did:

  • I explained to big munchkin that sometimes Mummy is busy and has to do some things by herself. At that time, it can be her ‘quiet time’.
  • We changed her cot into a bed, so that she can get in and out as she pleases. Just in case she wants an arvo nap.
  • We bought a CD player and I burnt a whole lot of kids CDs. I taught her how to use it herself.
  • We put pretty lights up in her room for a bit of fun and ambiance.
  • We made an ikea hack learning tower so she can help me with dinner prep.
  • All her crafty things (play-doh, stickers, pencils, paper, etc) are accessible, so she can help herself.

1653982_10153482233410021_6623177047601381177_nAnd does it work?

As with everything, sometimes yes and sometimes no. I probably get at least 30-45 mins (but sometimes longer if I’m lucky) each arvo when she plays quietly in her room. Every now and again (once a week or fortnight) she might have a snooze – not always in bed (see photo below)! When nothing is working, the garden usually does. And I still get wifi in the backyard.

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I also try to be very hands-on in the morning, so she seems more accepting of my personal time in the afternoons. I think I’m also better at getting my chores done super-efficiently: multiple loads of washing don’t get hung out until they’re all washed, dishes get done and the dishwasher gets (un)packed whilst the two of them are eating lunch and tidying up happens whilst we play!

What happens when the next one stops napping??? EEK! That’s something for future Sof to worry about.

If you have any other good ‘quiet time’ activities that have worked for you… please comment below.

Baby Routines (aka, The Blog Post That Will Most Likely Get Me Punched In The Nose)

Ah, such a touchy subject. When other mums discuss how many times they get up in the night, I keep my mouth shut. When other mums despair over the few hours of sleep they get, I change the topic. When they comment that I look well-rested, I smile and thank them.

I’m not saying I’m a genius or anything… it’s probably just genetics… maybe my kids just sleep well.

But, we did it once, and we’ve done it again. We have another good sleeper.

So, why am I writing this down? No, I don’t want to get punched in the nose. But yes, people do ask me what we did. I’ve been asked at least three times to give a detailed description. And I think I should share. Especially for when someone asks 5 years down the track and I just can’t remember. Plus, I’m proud – I think we did a good  job. And I don’t think I should feel guilty.

It’s not easy. And you need patience. And strength. And a like of bouncing. Well, at least a tolerance of bouncing.

First, we threw the ‘feeding on demand’ idea out the window, which is a bit controversial. My first night at the hospital by myself was hell and decided that I just didn’t want to do it this way. Someone had mentioned four-hourly feeds to us (the old-fashioned way, I think) and we thought we’d give it a try. And we were told that sleep training started at four months. We didn’t want to wait that long. So I have no idea whether this would work later on since we only did it from birth.

This is where the patience comes in. You have to push bubs to wait until a four hourly interval before you feed. This means someone, ideally not the one with boobs, has to hold a screaming baby for about half an hour or so.

But it only takes a few days. Literally.

And, suddenly, I started getting a few hours of sleep in between feeds. And both children very quickly dropped one of their night feeds (shown in brackets below), so they were doing one eight-hour stretch. Baby 1 by five weeks, and baby 2 by eight weeks. Also, the final feed before the long stretch is a looong feed. But it’s totally worth it. We also slowly moved this one back to lengthen the overnight sleep. We chose the times based on my job for the first, and on around the nap schedule of the first, for baby two.

Baby 1: 6am, 10am, 2pm, 6pm, 10pm, (2am)

Baby 2: 8am, 12pm, 4pm, 8pm, (12am), 4am

If either of them woke early during the night, hubby would cuddle and bounce (this is where a fit ball really comes in handy) until they either dozed off or it got to feeding time. However, if they slept past their feeding time, we didn’t wake them, we just waited until they woke. Never wake a sleeping baby, right?

So, feel free to punch me in the nose if you really need to (preferably a cyber-punch), but I hope this information helps new parents out there who may be despairing.

However, neither of my children have been good bottle feeders… instead of throwing a punch, maybe throw me some awesome tips!

Birth Story II

Disclaimer: only read this if you are interested. If you are family or a friend, you just may not want to know. If you’re pregnant, you may not want to know – I know I didn’t like hearing/reading about other people’s labour when I was pregnant. Your choice! You have been warned.

This is a tricky birth story to write. My first pregnancy had a very “text book” labour. Contractions at home, arrived at the hospital already well dilated, laboured in a bath for a while, lay on a bed, pushed out a baby. Ok, so it wasn’t that simple, but in retrospect, that’s how it feels. In every second sentence of this story, I felt like writing, “completely different to last time”, but I’ve tried to avoid the comparisons. If you’re interested, you can read about my first labour here.

This one didn’t start so well. I had contractions from my 38th week. And at least 3 false labours, where I was convinced we were off to the hospital. So before we even got close, I was already on an emotional rollercoaster that was getting worse with every dip.

Anyway, on THE night I started having big contractions around 1am. I did my best to ignore them, but I couldn’t, so I woke Zac and we started timing them. They were reasonably regular, at around 6-7 minutes, so we had our suspicions that this might be it. The tricky thing was, it wasn’t just a situation of head to the hospital and see how things are going, because we had to get babysitting for Adella, and also contact our midwife to meet us at the hospital, so we didn’t want to do anything unless we were sure. So we waited a couple of hours, and the contractions were definitely getting closer. Besides, I’d done this before, and I really felt we were getting close. So we made our phone calls and headed to the hospital.

Since it was after hours, we were admitted through emergency, and I got my first ever ride in a wheelchair – sweet!

Our midwife met us in the birthing suite and we settled in. And then I started to walk and sway and walk and walk. After a couple of hours, the midwife checked my dilation and I’d only reached 3cm. She said that if I wanted to, I was welcome to go home and come back later, but emotionally I just wasn’t prepared for this. I felt I’d already worked hard and we couldn’t possibly be far away from things intensifying. So, I kept walking. And walking. There’s possibly a worn circle in the floor of birthing suite 1. Now and again the midwife checked whether I wanted a bath. However, I think I’d built up a mental block about baths as they had stopped my contractions in previous days.

As I walked, the room got brighter and brighter as daylight approached. And with that came a more and more clinical feeling, and I think this really slowed me down. My contractions continued, but just weren’t getting any stronger. The midwife checked me again, and I hadn’t progressed any further. At this point I was in tears. I was so sure that this had been it, and I felt that if I went home, I’d be there for more days waiting for this baby. But my options were home or an induction. I really wanted to avoid any intervention, and as desperate as I was to meet this baby here and now, we decided that home was the best option. So we packed up and I left the hospital in tears.

I’m crying now as I write this… it was such an emotional kick in the guts for me.

But I arrived home to the happiest little toddler who was having so much fun with Auntie Sally! I had some cuddles and then she went for a walk with Sally so that I could I rest. I went to lie down and have some vegemite toast and tea. Because vegemite and tea solve everything, right? Right. Within half an hour, I was having super big contractions. I was rolling around on the bed, every now and again jumping up on all fours, and making all sorts of terrible animal noises. I got Zac to run me a hot bath, and I rolled around in there for a while. By now we were much closer to 3 minute contractions and I basically had 90 seconds on, 90 seconds off. Except for the occasional nasty couple that would come back-to-back. At this point, I was having trouble doing anything really. Zac made some calls and got me dressed. I waited until I had a 90 second break, said bye to Sal and Adella and got into the car.

Enter the most intense car trip ever. Since we had two baby seats in the back, I had to sit upright in the front seat. Not. Comfortable. I have no idea how Zac managed to drive me there and concentrate on driving. I’m pretty sure I cried, screamed and groaned the whole way. I was completely oblivious to anything but pain. He half carried me up to the birthing suites, passing shocked faces throughout the hospital (I clearly looked like a disaster!) and our midwife was all ready for us again. She had some comfy mats on the floor and I was down on all fours straight away.

Shortly after arriving, my midwife’s work partner turned up. She was on the next shift as my midwife had a day off the next day, so she knew she’d be doing our home visit, so thought she’d come to the birth too! It was so wonderful having an extra pair of hands for massage, support and encouragement. I feel very lucky to have had her there.

For the next few hours I moved from all fours, to standing, to leaning and back to all fours. I just couldn’t find a position that felt good. And with each suggestion of a new position I felt more distraught. If someone had suggested pain relief, I possibly would’ve taken it, despite being against my wishes. At some point here my waters broke, but I have no recollection of it. After trying such a long list of options, the midwives suggested a bath again. I was again very hesitant, as by this stage of labour last time, I didn’t want to be in the bath. But I trusted my midwife – she’d sent me home and that had progressed labour by so much. Plus, I didn’t want to try any new positions. So I reluctantly got in.

And instantly felt better.

Because I’d spent 7 hours of my morning wearing circles in the floor, my body was just physically giving up. Not to mention having been awake for 33 of the last 35 hours. But suddenly all my weight was taken by the water. I’m not going to lie – it was still INCREDIBLY painful, but just not as tiring. So Zac leant over the edge of the bath holding me up for my last stage of labour. And consequently had a water birth! My midwife had me breathe through most of the last stage and really slowed the pushing down, and consequently, I didn’t have any tearing. After the baby’s head popped out, it was a good five minutes or so before my midwife stimulated some colostrum and the final contraction happened to push the rest of his body out, which was such a weird sensation – I had to keep his head under the water! He was very blue when he came out, but apparently this is normal for a water birth as it’s longer before the babies hit the fresh air.

And despite all the difficulties and intense pain of this labour, I was able to lean down and catch baby Arlo Miles in the water as he was born at 6.15pm. I held him for a few minutes in the bath and Zac and I said hello to our son. And, as I carefully and nervously stood up to get out of the bath and onto the bed, my placenta just dropped out!

We cuddled and rested on the bed together. Arlo did a nice big sticky poo all over me, just like his sister did, and did a great job of feeding straight away. We were given a clean bill of health and were home by 10.30pm.

I’m so glad for the midwifery caseload program that I was on. I’m pretty sure that if I’d gone through the standard system I would have possibly had an induction and/or painkillers because I found it so much more painful this time around. Never fully believe anyone who tells you it will be easier the second time around!

Many people have asked us about his name. The most common question is “Is he named after Arlo Guthrie?”. The answer is no – we hadn’t heard that name until the midwife asked that exact question in the hospital! We saw the name in a book dedication, decided that we really liked it, and thought it sounded cute matched with Adella. Miles is after Miles Davis.

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Big decisions

I decided to have a change of heart today. I’m sick of waiting. I’m tired of spending my days thinking about my contracting uterus (yes, it’s been working away for two weeks now). I’m frustrated with my body’s desire to sleep all the time. And all these false labour alarms are just emotionally draining.

A friend posted this on my facebook wall, and it keeps making me giggle… and I think it has helped switch my mindset.

New tack today. No nap and do things for me!

Thanks to some fabulous ladies in my life, the dishes and shopping have been done, so there are no chores waiting.

I baked scones and I shared them…. then ate the rest. Go carbo-loading!

I made a “mug rug” (does that sound dodgy to you?? It kinda does to me…) from this fabulous pattern that I’ve been putting off for weeks. Pretty, huh?

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I’m drinking the tea that I want to drink.

I put on some loud music and danced around a bit.

I’m going to post this and watch a girly movie.

And I’m going to paint my toenails… with one last big decision… which colour?

Macaroni Cheese

 

 

Macaroni Cheese is one of those things that I remember from school lunches. They used to come from the tuckshop in a little foil dish, with a perfect mound of cheesy-pasta-y goodness. The cheese on top was the best bit, and I’d do my best to eat the flesh and save the skin until last!!

These are a great toddler meal because you can just use leftover pasta sauce. Mix the sauce with some cooked macaroni, mozzarella and parmesan and bake in the oven until golden.

It’s really fun to deconstruct with little fingers!

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We *may* have made a large serve for ourselves for dinner the next night after sampling these little pots of delish!