Loving It: 30.10.14

OctoberLovingIt

This little dude loves to party – dressed up and ready to go

I’m loving the Christmas decorations in the shops this year. Christmas has always been my favorite holiday but the last couple of years have lost a little bit of their shine with not having my mum around to celebrate with us. This year is CJ’s first Christmas and it feels like the joy is back in the holiday for me.

We always say that CJ has big feelings – he’s very happy or very sad or very frustrated – so I think this toy will be great for him as he grows older as a way to learn to explain his emotions.

I think we’re pretty set on Rarotonga as our major holiday destination next year but this article definitely has me thinking about Fiji’s Denerau Island in future.

I’ll be the first to admit that my prayer practice is a little shoddy. I’ve been working on this lately and it’s been great to see how when you hand things over to whatever higher power you believe in (in my case, that’s the Christian God) that things actually start to happen even if they aren’t the way you first thought they would. I know that sounds cryptic, but all in good time my friends.

I’ve wanted to try Chia Pudding for so long, and this recipe from In Rhi’s Pantry sounds amazing – now to get on that when the week is not quite so busy!

It’s definitely hard to explain to someone without kids – and even some working parents – the need for a SAHM to have a break. This article summarizes it so beautifully. I love CJ but some days being a mum is EXHAUSTING.

We’re off to a mini photoshoot with coffee group this morning – let’s hope my little poser is his usual sweet self and we get a nice pic for the Christmas card!

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Five things to do on a long weekend…

when it’s just not possible to go away?

As our Facebook and Instagram feeds fill with pictures of our friends at their holiday homes, camping in their tents or at beachside motels it can be hard not to feel a little FOMO. Labour Weekend has just been and gone in New Zealand and (if I can be perfectly honest here) I just did not get organized in time to plan us a little getaway. We don’t have the luxury of our parents owning a holiday home which means that we have to take our chances and book in with the masses. While we’ve arranged a little off-peak getaway in a few weeks’ time, we were left to make the most of our holiday weekend right in our own backyard.

Tackle a project that’s been put on the back burner

Papa M and I relocated our office to our spare room (sorry future guests, you’ve been relegated to air mattress on the floor) and got the basics into the right place but the rest of it was just one hell of a big mess. It was the kind of situation where it was going to get a lot worse before it got better so doing it piecemeal during nap times wasn’t going to work either – it would render the office almost completely unusable! Papa M got put in charge of child care and I spent a large chunk of the day putting everything to rights. An ordered desk makes me SO happy and it is so much easier to keep track of what needs to be done.

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Having fun at Shore City – too little to enter this Smiggle competition though!

Shopping the sales

As part of our Saturday adventure, we went to the mall to pick up a couple of things. I noticed many of the stores had some decent sales and it is the perfect time to nail down that Christmas shopping before the silly season starts! Papa M picked up part of my Christmas present (I know what it is, but not what type) for 20% off which means more money for presents for me! While I’m not an advocate for over-consumption and shopping for shopping’s sake, I am an advocate of being fiscally responsible and picking up presents during sales throughout the year

Spend time with family and friends

We were delighted to attend a birthday party this weekend – our friend Julie’s son was turning two! We found out that CJ absolutely loves hearing the birthday song – he was getting a bit ratty as it was past his nap time at that point and the song totally calmed him. That’s my music-lover alright! We also enjoyed a traditional Sunday roast dinner with Papa M’s family which was also a great time. It’s so easy in this busy technology-filled world to let the face-to-face visits slide and think that digitally stopping by is enough. Long weekends are an opportunity to change this!

Explore somewhere new

The birthday party was held in Onepoto Domain on Auckland’s North Shore. We’d never been there before and it was really great to have a new place to explore! There’s duck ponds, wide open grassy fields for play, a bike track and awesome playground areas. Pre-baby, Papa M and I loved to get out and explore and it’s still a huge priority for us to be able to do that as a family. We definitely want our children to grow up with a sense of adventure.

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Spend time in nature

Initially we’d planned to tackle a bush walk on Monday but the overcast weather had us worrying about slippery conditions. We still wanted to get out in nature despite the chance of rain so we changed it up and headed to a local duck pond instead. CJ was still totally buzzed by the experience and Papa M and I got our fresh air and exercise for the day. You don’t have to be on holiday to explore the great outdoors, there’s probably some fantastic nature walks in your own “back yard.

Staying at home for a long weekend doesn’t mean that you need to literally stay at home. With a little research and planning it’s easy to make it a fun-filled weekend for the whole family. Do you have any hot tips to avoid FOMO and have fun?

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M is for Mama: P is for pregnancy announcements

Not mine, by the way. It’s okay Papa M, you can stop having a heart attack right now.

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Our pregnancy announcement for CJ – hubby loves the NBA despite living in little old NZ

After winter, the spring has come and like a flood so have the pregnancy announcements. We know what you were getting up to on those cold dark nights – nudge nudge wink wink. At the moment they are averaging about one a week and every one fills me with pure joy. I’ve been privy to knowing about a couple of pregnancies prior to public announcement and they have me bursting at the seams wanting to tell the world; I’m not even the mother! While we’re certainly not in a position to have a second child – I have fitness and financial goals to get in order, not to mention get my head in the game for it too – each sweet announcement makes me smile. But truth be told? I didn’t always feel this way.

As you know if you’ve been following the blog for a while, getting pregnant didn’t happen overnight for us. There were chiropractor visits, ovulation tests, acupuncture and seven months of impatient waiting before we got there. I’m loathe to admit it now but it started taking me a while to actually be happy for people, despite my joyful “Congratulations!” when I found out they were with child. In what was possibly one of my ugliest moments I got quite angry at the announcement of someone who had quite adamantly voiced that she was never going to have another baby. I know others who have waited far longer and those for whom their dream of having children hasn’t ever come true. I can’t imagine what these announcements must feel like if you hear them year after year while your own arms are still empty.

I think the most important thing to appreciate as an expectant parent is that as much as some people want to be excited for you, they just can’t. Not yet. Not right now. Easing the pressure off them and not expecting them to behave a certain way can be beneficial for your relationship in the long run. In our case, a close friend had been trying for years to get pregnant and so I disclosed to her in a text before making the announcement. I told her our news and simply said that I understood that she might have mixed feelings about the situation and to just get in touch when she was ready. I know, however, that fertility battles are often a hidden struggle and that my gleeful public announcement may still have trodden on a few nerves.

Do you have a take on this situation? Have you been in the position of either the announcer or the not-so-happy receiver of the announcement? What would have made the situation better for you?

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CJ @ 8 months

8Months

Eight months is such a fun age – well, for the most part anyway! I marvel every day at the wonderful boy our son is becoming. I did wonder whether I would miss the “baby” stage as he approached toddlerhood but it’s quite the opposite. I can’t wait to see CJ grow and become even more of his wonderful self! So what’s going on at 8 months?

  • Two teeth and he appears to be growing a fang! Not the usual order of things but we know by now that babies don’t read the rule book
  • He loves eating ANYTHING that I’m eating – totally calling this the baby diet. The most random thing he has eaten so far has to be tomato with balsamic vinegar from J’s salad – and despite pulling some funny faces he liked it
  • He HATES getting changed and the only thing that seems to help when he gets worked up is yelling out “Despite all my rage I’m still just a rat in a cage”! I have no idea why this works, but like most parenting things you don’t knock it if it’s working.
  • He is trying so damn hard to crawl but just hasn’t managed to get up on his knees yet. It’s pretty hilarious to watch, his arms and legs are going absolutely mental and then he just freezes in what we call his skydiving pose:

Skydive

  • We’re starting to plan for my return to part-time work next year and will be interviewing carers for CJ within the next month. Part of me wishes that I could just stay home with him always but I know that’s not the best move for our family
  • He is confidently sitting unsupported – it was like one day he just realized that he could do it and there he was. There’s always the occasional tumble when he gets distracted by something across the room but he handles falling over a lot better too.
  • He’s just started holding himself up against furniture but is pretty unsteady on it – I’m secretly grateful that he’s not showing signs of being an early walker
  • He decided overnight that he wasn’t having a bar of swaddling at all. I’d admittedly begun to worry that we’d still be loosely wrapping him when he was three, but it turned out that he was quite happy to tell us when he was ready
  • On the downside, getting him to sleep is an absolute mare at the moment – there’s so much going on in that brain of his that he is finding it hard to switch off. He thinks that any lying down is crawling practice time. We have to rock him (thank goodness for the rocking chair) and I’ll sing to him until he is relaxed and drowsy. Gone are the days where we could just pop him in the cot and leave
  • He can be very verbal – when he’s happy, he’ll keep repeating “Eaggy! Eaggy! Eaggy!” which clearly means something to him. The only thing we can think of is that he’s copying me saying “It’s good!” but who knows…
  • He met up with Corrine’s lovely wee girl Charlie for the first time since Charlie has been outside the womb – yay for blogger babies
  • We spent the better part of a day at my old (and soon to be new again) workplace, hanging out with teachers and students. My little charmer had them all cooing madly over him – that boy is going to be a worry when he’s older

We’re definitely starting to get a little more flexible and have started to take him to BBQs and get togethers that don’t specifically pivot around parents with kids. We do get a few sideways looks from some of the childless people – “Who brought the baby?” – but for the most part the events are really enjoyable and our wee social butterfly loves hanging out with all the people! It’s good to have a little buddy who is willing to tag along on our adventures.

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Mama M Tries: NZSale online shopping

Mama M Tries is a collection of posts in which I (or we) try new things! Click here to see other posts in the series and here to suggest something we should try.

A short time ago, an offer was kindly extended to us to trial the NZSale online shopping website. Founded in 2007, NZSale brings discounted retail prices on fashion items of up to 80%. If you know me well, you know I LOVE a bargain. I also desperately needed to spice up my wardrobe so I was all in! It was made a lot easier for me by the fact that you can browse through an iOS app, ideal for when I was feeding or (to be honest) when I struggled to move my rear off the couch after a difficult day with CJ. It’s also great for catching sales of items you are after as each sale only lasts for a limited time. Items do take up to a month to arrive as they ship directly from suppliers who may be overseas. So what did I get in my stash?

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Infinity scarves

I’m in desperate need of something to make my outfits look more polished and I can’t always go with fine necklaces as CJ loves to yank on them! These infinity scarves totally fit the bill, one in neutral tones and one in cherry and pink tones. I’ve been wearing one or the other almost non-stop since they arrived, and CJ thinks that they are pretty tops too, especially seeing as we can play hide-the-baby in them too. They are soft and light-weight, making them the perfect inter-seasonal piece.

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Worship dress in Cobalt

Having had dresses in a similar style before, I know that this faux wrap style is a good look on me. Made from jersey, it will be ideal for no-fuss summer party wear. While it’s currently a little bit on the tight side (something which can always happen when buying online), I know it will be great as I start to get in better shape!

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Jack & Lily Mocs

While my initial intention was to just focus on myself, I could not go past these adorable little leather shoes for CJ at less than half of what they would cost us in the shops. As he gets more and more keen to be on his feet, I need to start thinking about shoes. These have great soft but grippy soles and the designs are to die for! While they are still a bit big on his feet, he’s loved trying them on and I think they will be well-used over the next nine or so months!

Everything arrived within the expected time scale and I was very happy with the quality of items. I would definitely use NZSale to look for fashion items again in future. Mama M Tried and Approved!

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What makes life valuable is that it doesn’t last forever

Yes, I just used a Spiderman movie quote in a post about death… that’s how I roll.

Death has been on my mind a lot lately. That sounds far more sinister than it is… I haven’t been thinking about my death in particular, just how finite our time on this planet is. Dr Jared Noel, an amazing father and human being, passed away last week after an incredible battle with bowel cancer. I got to know Jared through Twitter as we had children at around the same time. His beautiful daughter was born the month before CJ and I was so happy that he was still alive to meet her. We had our faith in common, though I fear that he bore through the challenges to his with much more strength than I have with mine. And of course, we could tweet about the rough stuff, the end-stage cancer stuff and I’d like to think that I helped him a bit with explaining how mum had coped as things started to go downhill fast. As much as it was clear that the end was coming, I’ll openly admit to the tears falling when I found out about his passing, for someone that I only ever virtually met. He was so strong and so open about fighting for every single moment that he could spend with his wife and daughter, it was really inspiring.

Then there was this video that has been doing the rounds of social media:

Brittany Maynard is my age and she’s choosing to die in less than a month’s time. Would I do the same in her position? I don’t know. If you’d asked me before I’d had CJ, the answer would almost certainly have been yes. Seeing my mother decline so quickly from her body going into septic shock will be something that stays with me forever, and I certainly wouldn’t have wished her the alternative as her liver slowly poisoned the rest of her body. Choosing a time to slip away peacefully, once it was certain that there was no hope of a cure, sounds far better than both the other options. But now I have a son, and I’m not sure that I could take away a day of my life that I could be spending with him, regardless of the pain. He grows and changes so much day to day and, god willing, I want to be there to see him as a grown man.

I know that I think about death probably more than the average person. Every time I put CJ to bed, the last thing I tell him is that I love him very much because if he were to die, I would want that to be the last thing I ever said to him. I have worried about SIDS/SUDI probably far more than is healthy because I know that you can do everything right and people still die. As a Christian I believe that this mortal plain is not our only form of existence but loving Papa M and having CJ feels like my heart is walking round outside my body and I’d struggle to move on with life if they weren’t here. That’s why I treasure that Spiderman quote so much – knowing that none of us will be around forever makes me value the moments that we do have together and never take anything for granted.

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Currently: The October Edition

Mat

Liking our new foam mat from Small Small World. CJ is a spilly baby and this has been made even worse by his recent attempts to crawl. No one particularly wants to spend their days wiping up baby vomit but it’s a heck of a lot easier to wipe off a foam mat than off beige rental carpet. I love the grey chevron and how it works in with our lounge decor.

Eating a Twinkie for the first time… they’re not widely available in New Zealand but we grew up hearing about them in books like The Baby-Sitters Club series. I picked up a pack to share at the supermarket and… overrated! Blech. So chemical-ly and processed. I swear it was like my tongue was tingling with shock afterwards.

Laughing at the way that CJ has a “what’s yours is mine and what’s mine is mine” attitude to food. He can’t even chew properly yet but he gives serious puppy dog eyes (and grabby hands, when possible) whenever you are rude enough to eat in front of him

Feeling absolutely knackered. Blood tests last week showed I’m severely Vitamin D deficient so hopefully taking a supplement will help with this.

Trying to be active for 30 minutes each day – on crappy weather days this is sometimes crawling around on the floor with CJ or having dance parties in the kitchen but every bit of activity counts.

Longing for some decent clothes; it’s hard to find any spare money in the budget to spend on myself. Mum priorities, am I right?

Worrying about returning to work next year and how the heck I’m going condense our morning routine down into something that allows me to get out of the house on time. Papa M leaves pretty early in the mornings so I can’t rely on his assistance. I guess I just have to let tomorrow’s problems be tomorrow’s problems – CJ will be that little bit older so hopefully it will be that little bit easier (let me have my fantasies)!

Wishing for clarity about the best way for our family to move forward – I feel like there’s no clear answers for what is best for us right now and I’m waiting for that lightning bolt of inspiration.

Watching the backlog of DVRed shows and movies I taped from earlier in the year. It’s actually ridiculous how relevant American Pie Reunion is to our lives right now. We’re so old!

Writing guest posts galore, so excited to be stretching the old brain muscles by writing to fit other blog themes.

Loving my two dudes, who make me smile even when the outlook is looking pretty grey.

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The end of an era…

No more breast-feeding here.

On the 28th of September, somewhat unexpectedly, CJ decided he had had enough of feeding from the breast. He’d had a couple of days of mucking around on one of his two feeds but that’s nothing new for us. Sunday night I settled down in the armchair for his dinner feed, lifted up my top, got the nipple shield on and… he laughed. Roared with laughter and then grabbed me by the nipple and twisted. Yup, got given a purple-nurple by my wee cheeky boy. Talk about rubbing salt in the wound. After battling for about ten minutes, I gave him a bottle which he absolutely wolfed down.

Rinse and repeat the scenario (down to the purple-nurple) on Monday morning.

I know that many a mother has battled through a nursing strike and continued to have a strong breast-feeding relationship. To be honest, I just didn’t have it in me. Breast-feeding, for us, has been way harder than I ever imagined. The only thing that has kept me going at some points was sheer stubbornness and that stubbornness has run out. I don’t want to fight yet another feeding battle. CJ loves his solids SO much, he was never going to be a kid that wanted an extended breast-feeding relationship anyway.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not having second thoughts about stopping breast-feeding. I don’t think that anyone should have to justify the choices that they make in feeding their babies, whether that is bottle-feeding from birth or extended breastfeeding until the child self-weans. I’m really chuffed that we made it past seven months with all the issues that we have faced. I even understand why CJ would decide against breast-feeding. It’s always been harder for him to breast-feed and with a head cold and teething it is even less pleasant!

There are a couple of things that I’ll openly admit to finding a bit rough. Firstly, this sudden stop was not MY plan. Anyone who knows me in real life knows that I am the planner. I’m the one who has already planned out large family vacations for fourteen years from now. I’m a total control freak. I’d planned on weaning him off his dinner breast-feed after his 8-month birthday and finish breast-feeding completely between his 9-month birthday and Christmas. And I didn’t get to choose. He did. That side of motherhood is a big challenge to my nature. The other thing is that my hormones are completely up the chute as my milk dries up and I am one sulky bitch right now. I’ve visited the GP and had some tests run to see if there’s anything I need to supplement my diet with; hopefully that will provide me with something I can do to pick myself up.

For now I’m going to pat myself on the back that I managed seven months of breastfeeding. I’m going to remind myself how hard I tried and that, at least for a while, we made it work. I’m going to let go of the fact that stopping breast-feeding didn’t go according to my plans and I’m going to enjoy the freedom (sleep-ins! wine!) that ceasing nursing allows. Most of all I’m going to enjoy looking in those sweet little eyes as he feeds without my giant bosom in the way!

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Out & About: Shore City, Takapuna

Enjoy our series, Out & About, focusing on accessibility and suitability of various public places in Auckland for babies and small children.

Home to the lovely Bruce Mason Theatre (side fact: where my first ever graduation ceremony was held) and a host of gorgeous boutiques, Takapuna is a gorgeous wee suburb that serves as a gateway to many of the northern bays and the Devonport Peninsula. It’s also home to the Shore City Shopping Centre. There is heaps to explore every day of the week, as well as a vibrant Saturday market opposite the mall that is definitely worth taking in. Situated on the corner of Lake Rd and Como St, it’s easily accessible from Auckland’s Northern Motorway. I have to admit that I hadn’t really explored the mall that much before becoming a mum. I think that I may have shot in there once to quickly grab something from Farmers department store before heading further afield to visit friends. It was a great opportunity to view the place with fresh eyes and explore what it had to offer for families.

Parking can be somewhat interesting if you are unfamiliar with the area. I entered the parking structure from Anzac St placing me in in the open air carpark. On a wet day, I’d definitely recommend entering from Como St so that you and your little ones can stay under cover. There are parents with prams car parks near the mall entrance levels but elevators make access pretty simple from wherever you park.

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I met my friend in the food court, easy to find and centrally located. I was impressed at the number of high chairs that they had, very sensibly located near the internal playground. My friend and I discussed how great it was to have a playground option that wasn’t tied to a fast food joint. We both have active little ones (hers is a bit older than mine) and it’s good to have options where they can thrash out a bit of energy, while we can provide them with some healthier meal options from some of the food court vendors. There is also apparently a small playhouse usually located at the other end of the lower level, however this may have been moved at the time of our visit due to the Art Of Cake competition.

One of the parent-friendly features of the mall I like most is a ramp between the two shopping levels. So often in multilevel shopping centres, you are relegated to using elevators to get your strollers between levels. Not only does a ramp relieve the “stroller congestion” around these lifts, but it allows this mama to burn a few more incidental calories – something I am definitely in favor of! There are also elevators available if you don’t quite have the energy that day!

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I was impressed by the location of the parent rooms on each floor; the one on the ground floor was down in the food court end, most useful for the bathroom trips during and after lunch. The parents’ room on the upper floor are centrally located and easy to find.  The parent rooms are slightly smaller in comparison to other shopping malls but I would imagine that this would be due to the age of the facility (40 years compared to the comparatively youthful Sylvia Park and Botany Downs), although this old dame certainly holds her own! My only niggle would be that the parent and child toilets in both parent rooms are a bit hard to negotiate with a pram. Other than this, they are well-equipped with change stations (with disposable liners, big fan!), feeding cubicles and televisions that are able to be switched on to entertain wee children if necessary. The ground floor parent room has some entertainment for other children within the feeding cubicles, the upper level parent room has a secure play area within the parent room.

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Shore City is a great jump-off point for families wanting to access the shops and restaurants in the area but is also a good destination in its own right, even if you aren’t wanting to spend up large at the shops. It’s particularly ideal on a rainy day when you want to let your wee ones work off a bit of steam while you sit and down a coffee and a pack of sushi! It’s definitely worth checking out this little gem if you are in the area.

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Mama M Tries: Kiinde Twist Feeding System

I was lucky enough to meet up with the Kiinde team at the Baby Show earlier this year. I had seen their product on some international websites that I follow and was pleased to know that they had made an appearance in the New Zealand market. Kiinde is a unique breast milk pumping, storage and feeding system that ensures that the milk is stored and fed from a sterile environment without the fuss of washing.

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As you can see in the picture above, you pump directly into the bag – through the clever use of adaptors, this system can fit most pumps. The bags are then able to be stored flat in the freezer, with the shelves making the product easily locatable for the person who will feed your baby. Once the frozen breast milk is defrosted (either in their warmer or in a warm water bath) you simply plug the bag into the feeding case, pop the teat in the top and you’re away!

I used this system when I was working on Election Day and needed to be gone by the time that my wee boy was awake. While CJ is mixed-fed, he is still breastfed in the morning and I didn’t want to jeopardise my supply by missing that feed. It was great to be able to pump straight into the bag – the rigid neck of the bag was really easy to connect to the pump adaptor and it was actually more comfortable than pumping directly into a bottle. The lid easily screwed on the top of the bag to allow for storage. As Papa M was feeding him shortly after, the milk was just stored in the fridge before use so we didn’t need to defrost it. When CJ was ready, it was incredibly simple for Papa M to just pop the bag in the case and exchange the lid for the teat. Due to the rigid neck of the bag, the teat with cover can just be pushed directly onto the bottle, no turning or tightening required.

This product is ideal for anyone who is wishing to provide their child with expressed breast milk but I think it would be particularly ideal for working mothers who still want their children to enjoy the benefits of breast milk. I would certainly feel more confident about transporting expressed milk thanks to the twist-top storage bags and feeding from the bag means far less washing up – I think every bottle-feeding parent has probably had a moment where they are caught short without any clean bottles! The one negative point I can see is that the bags are not reusable due to their loss of sterile environment but that will be the same with any pumping situation, plus you would still have to waste water washing up.

The full range is available through EnnoBaby and the Kiinde Australasia website.

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*PR sample, but as usual – if I didn’t love it, I wouldn’t recommend it xox