Monday, October 28, 2013

A social experiment disguised as a Halloween Craft Party

The Trickster is totes in to Halloween. I have no idea where it has come from - well, actually, I do. It has come from all the displays at the shops. But prior to it popping up a few weeks ago he didn't even know what it was and somehow it is now all he talks about. Every day he asks "Is it Halloween today?". He even sat right up the front at kindy story time last week (he usually refuses to sit with the other kids and just hangs at the back) because it was a Halloween book - the awesome Meg and Mog.

Because we're going craft crazy right now in lieu of outdoor time thanks to living on a building site, I figured some activities that combined the two would be right up his alley. Voila, Halloween craft.

High off the success of kindy story time I thought the same Halloween magic might work at mothers group. So in a bid to get him to interact with the other kids I brought all our crafty stuff in for a Halloween Party. He is actually playing these days and will talk to the adults, but still refuses to talk to the kids! Prior to this he would sit next to me the whole time and occasionally warm up and play right at the end... you know, just as we were leaving. So the Halloween experiment was go!

I created three paper plate creatures as examples - a ghost, a jack o lantern and a monster - and since we had a limited time frame (and only one pair of safety scissors) I cut out shapes for mouths and eyes rather than turn it in to a scissors activity. We had multicoloured strips of cardboard for hair, googly eyes of all sizes, pom poms, paint, crayons, markers and pop sticks so all the kids had to do was create whatever they liked and unsurprisingly, most of them created monsters! Monsters are just super cool.

Kiddies in fancy dress is super cute

The result? A lot of fabulous creations and happy kids... but Tricky didn't participate. He did warm up a bit and play, he spoke to a few of the mums, plus he ate morning tea on the picnic rug with all the other kids and even posed for a group photo - massive leaps and strides for him. But the dude who is coo coo for craft didn't go anywhere near it. But that's OK. Baby steps for my shy guy as we ease him in to part time kindy next year.

Do you celebrate Halloween?

For those wanting to do their own super easy, cheap Halloween craft with toddlers and preschoolers, grab paper plates, paint, markers and crayons, glue and all sorts of materials for decorating such as string, paper, cardboard, googly eyes, gems, pom poms, crepe paper, pipe cleaners - whatever you have in your craft box - and go for it! You can't go wrong with these.

The finished product never looks anything like the sample, but that is my favourite bit - seeing how they interpret it and come up with their own unique pieces. We've been making a few of these every day and we'll be stringing them up together and hanging them out the front to let the neighbourhood kids know they can Trick or Treat at our place.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Letter to Bobbin - two months old

Dear Bobbin,

Zooooooooooooooooooooom. That is the sound of time passing us by. But I bet you're getting sick of
me saying that already.

You are changing so much every day. To most people you look like a Tricky clone, but I can see bits of other people in you a lot more now. Every now and then when your brother was a baby I'd see flashes of my sister Jo-Anne in him but didn't tell anyone but your Dad. With you? Well I see it a lot every day and so do your grandparents. It is quite fitting as your middle name honours her. But I also see bit of your Aunty Penny in a quick flash when you scrunch up your face right before you cry.

You've been out and about so much this month including your first trip to the zoo. You slept almost the entire time which was fabulous because it meant I could wrangle your brother. You were also the youngest (that we could tell) participant in the Rotary Ramble the other week - you, Tricky, your Dad, me, Aunty Penny and your Perth Nanna and Pop all running around the city answering questions. And very importantly, you've been to your first costume party! Mama dressed you up in a Wonder Woman onesie and you looked gorgeous. It is highly likely you'll wear that every day until you grow out of it.

You had a bad reaction to some big brand baby wash product recently. Your scalp, ears, neck, part of your face and your shoulders were covered in eczema. You went to bed last Friday night and didn't sleep well. On Saturday when we woke up it was obvious that some sort of infection had taken hold. Your skin was red raw, weeping, crusty and smelly. You were OK if we left you alone, but just screamed and screamed whenever we touched you and you wouldn't feed. At one point, you were trying to feed and just seemed to give up and go to sleep. I went to put you to bed but your ear had weeped and dried to my shirt, ripping your skin off as I moved you. It was horrid. A perfect little ear of skin stuck to my sleeve.

So we took you to the hospital. They gave you antibiotics (which Mama only figured out how to give you without you spitting it back up on the last day of the course) and told us to come back if you hadn't started feeding again in twelve hours. The past week has been oil baths and moisturiser overload and now instead of looking like you are burnt, it just looks like you have cradle cap on your scalp, eyebrows, ears and shoulders. But you aren't in pain any more, the soul crushing screaming has stopped and you're back to feeding like a champ! Go you!

You still have a super wobbly head, probably because you don't get put down very much. You're constantly in the hugabub because it isn't really good for you on the floor right now.. But your legs? Geez girl, you can move yourself along when you're on your front - you nearly launched yourself off the scales when you were weighed a few days old and they've just gotten stronger and stronger. Which is great for your little clicky hips apparently!

My favourite part of the day with you is the evening after your brother has gone to bed and you lay there kicking your legs and 'talking' to us for about an hour and a half straight. We have the best conversations - you're quite repetitive, but I'm positive you're trying to tell me something. So animated! You talk so much and it is the most beautiful, happy sound. I just love it.

You are sunshine. A pure joy to be around.

Love Mama xxx

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Forget me not

The baby brain has hit me hard. Much harder than last time, although with my brain foggy to start with, there was never much hope for me I suppose. Since the girl child has come along I've forgotten so many things.

I've forgotten Bobbin's appointments, to reply to emails (or have written them and then forgotten to hit send so they lay there in the draft and I wonder why they never replied to me), names, to return library books, to go to kindy, what time Map Guy is due home, you name it, even Bobbin's birth date!

Last week I forgot to buy eggs so I went to my parents' house at 9:20pm to get some to make a special cake for morning tea the next day then forgot to take said cake with me. Clever.

I've adjusted somewhat and now just write down everything. My phone beeps at me every five minutes it seems, reminding me of yet another task I don't really have time for. If it doesn't beep for a while instead of feeling relaxed I just feel anxious, wondering what I forgot to put in a reminder for.

So when I went to the hospital the other day for Bobbin to have a hip ultrasound (she has had clicky hips from birth) I was floored when I walked in to the imaging department and all the memories of being there with Tricky came flooding back. Bam.

Holding Bobbin, my breath caught in my throat and I had to focus on breathing slowly to stop myself from crying. Not that a parent crying there would be anything out of the ordinary. No one would bat an eyelid.

Because it was the only chair left, I sat in the exact same spot I sat in waiting for Tricky's CT scan when he was 11 weeks old. Nothing had changed in the three years since I had been there last. The yellow walls, the blue signs and the completely depressing atmosphere in spite of the cheesy smiles of the cartoon characters plastered all over the walls.

I remember sitting on the hard plastic, feeding Tricks, trying to make him sleepy so he wouldn't have to be anesthetized for the scan. A miscommunication meant we were waiting in the wrong spot and the other staff thought we hadn't shown up. I was getting frustrated and angry - this was my child that was having to wait but then I looked around and realized it was everyone's "my child" waiting in a snowed under department.

I don't feel traumatized by Tricky's rough start. To be honest I think that in the scheme of things Craniosynostosis is pretty minimal, really. Still, it was pretty huge to us at the time - the biggest thing I've ever had to deal with - but when all is said and done it is not the end of the world. It isn't life and death. A couple operations and it's all over thankyouvermuch. So I was so surprised that this visit to the hospital affected me the way it did. That the memories surged back so vividly.

At Bobbin's appointments, the doctors were all very gentle with me, carefully explaining the ins and outs of hip problems in babies and seemed really surprised to see me not fussed either way.

I felt like laughing when they asked if I was OK each step of the way. "Are you kidding? You should see what my last kid had!". 

It may seem heartless but I the idea of her maybe needing a brace and a few ultrasounds and xrays didn't bother me. Perhaps it is because I had clicky hips as a babe. Maybe because I figured she'd just rock the frog look for a while and I'd be dressing her in green and calling her Kermy to complete the look. But either way, I didn't see it as something to worry over. And as it turns out, there was no need because she doesn't need the brace anyway.

The time we spent in the hospital with Tricks, and now these few appointments with Bobbin means we have seen so very many seriously ill children, some of which may never go home. Our brief foray in to the medical world has taught me to be grateful for what I have. So a wonky noggin, asthma, clicky hips and the like are nothing. So I might be forgetting to reply to your email but I won't forget how lucky I am to have two gorgeous kids.

Bobbin completely chilled out for her ultrasound

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

5 tips to survive renovating with small children

We have been renovating our house for nearly seven weeks. It has been seven weeks of early starts (who knew tradies could be on time?!), lots of banging, old walls going down, new walls going up and us trying to make do living in one bedroom, a jam packed lounge room, and half a kitchen. Our small house is getting smaller before it gets bigger!

It is frustrating at times, and I readily admit to bouts of insanity and an overwhelming urge to cry, but seeing it all happening around us has been amazing and Tricky is absolutely loving it - especially having cement mixers, cranes, pump trucks and skip bin trucks coming and going.

But the five main things that have kept me (relatively) sane during these weeks are:

1. Babywearing all the time

Our house turned in to a construction site when Bobbin was four days old and from that moment on, as long as she was in the Hugabub, she has slept through sledgehammers, circular saws, nail guns and more. Nuzzled in to my chest she is oblivious to it all. And let’s be honest, if you were that close to my awesome rack you’d be oblivious to everything else, too. At this rate the girl will not learn to sit or crawl before she’s 12 months old, but hey, the floor is currently covered in sand so I figure that is probably a good thing.

Dirt level after just two days without vacuuming
2. Learning to go with the flow

My house is usually clean but not 100% tidy (hello, toddler on premises). But right now, our lounge is home to Tricky & Bobbin’s furniture – it looks like a second hand store with everything rammed in against each other. Add the dust and sand (dear lawd, THE SAND!) that comes with a build, and the mountains of hair from the injured dog who isn’t allowed outside and the place is feral. No, really. It is pretty disgusting right now. But you know what? There isn’t too much that can be done about that and the moment I let go of how things “should” look is the moment when it all became so much easier. I’ve even had friends over! I keep reminding myself this is only temporary and the house is going to look amazing really soon.

The littlest team member
3. Utilizing the grandparents

My parents live about five minutes away and we visit them pretty much every day we don’t have a planned activity. It’s a triple win: they get to see the grandkiddies, Tricks gets to run around without tripping over all the furniture that has been shoved in to our one usable room, and I get to relax and do nothing. Sometimes we’ll go get a coffee or some lunch and usually my Dad insists on paying. That makes it a quadruple win! Free lunch FTW!

4. Having fantastic builders

We’re using Perth builders Exactus and I couldn’t be happier. I’m blogging some of our renovation story for them over on their website – which is paid but unedited. I could prattle on about site management, deliveries being on time and blah, blah, blah, but the thing that has made this less stressful are the blokes on site. Tricky loves them. He excitedly announces when each of them arrive every day and runs out to talk to them, showing off his latest toy/skill/joke – and they’re all so lovely to him, asking him questions and telling him what the different tools are. If this build runs over time it will only be because Tricks is interrupting them. I don’t know how he is going to go when this is all finished – he’s grown so attached to them all that last week he cried because they left before he got a chance to say goodbye!

But children aside, I thought they’d be a nice bunch of blokes when in the first week, when I didn’t even know their names yet, I heard them all singing along to the radio, belting out “What’s Up?” by Four Non Blondes with gusto. Yes, I completely judge people by their ability to perform karaoke at work, don’t you? If you don’t sing along to that song then I don’t want to know you. It was topped off when ‘Grubby’ showed Miley Cyrus how sledgehammer licking should really be done:

That's not a sledgehammer lick, THIS is a sledgehammer lick
5. Embracing my inner craft nut

As much as he’d love it, it isn’t really safe to let Tricky play in the backyard when half of it is a building site. I had grand plans to go to the park a lot but the weather has been unseasonably wet so we have been stuck inside. In the one room. With all our furniture. And the dog. GAH! But a daily raiding of the craft drawers has been brilliant. Tricks loves craft and we normally do it once or twice a week but now it is once or twice a day. We’ve been making egg carton caterpillars, toilet roll birds, pipecleaner spiders and now we're on to Halloween craft. But nothing beats painting all over the temporary walls - let's just hope he doesn't paint the new walls.

My craft activity is better than your craft activity

Have you built/renovated with little kids? What kept you sane(ish)?

Friday, October 11, 2013

Cover that welt, we're off to the Child Health Nurse

Getting ready to visit the Child Heath Nurse (CHN or MCHN for you east coasters) the other day, I was mentally preparing myself to be told I was doing everything wrong.

Our CHN home visit had gone relatively smoothly if you don't count the part where I was told off for feeding Bobbin to sleep. I felt like saying "Dude, she's 9 days old! Feeding takes all her energy!!". I don't know if it was because I was still in a post birth euphoric state but I managed not to roll my eyes and instead I did the whole smile and nod thing.

Tricky's CHN was a lovely lady. She was helpful and non-judgmental. But I knew we weren't seeing her and the horror stories from almost every other person I'd spoken to had me worried I'd either leave in tears or ready to punch someone. Or both.

I shared my fears over on the Facebook page and asked what you all thought of Child Health Nurses. It seemed to be an all or nothing phenomenon - they're either amazing and full of friendly, helpful advice or horrid creatures handing out misguided advice and designed to make you feel like the worst mother in the world.

My nervousness increased when, on getting Tricks and Bobbin out of the house I managed to DROP MY KEYS ON HER HEAD creating a lovely red welt. Mother of the year, right here.

Luckily the welt disappeared on the drive over so I wasn't marked as "neglectful key dropping mother". Instead we got off to a different and slightly less welt inducing start when I got told her wondersuit was too small - I swear it fit her two days ago so I didn't look when I dressed her! My bad. But except for pulling me up on the wardrobe malfunction, I was blindsided by her awesome attitude.

She wasn't numbers obsessed. It was up to me whether we weighed and measured her because "she looks healthy and it's obvious she is growing" and then I got told that as long as it's going in one end and coming out the other fairly regularly that all is well - which is pretty much my whole philosophy for checking if my kids are OK. Then she gave tips on how to have tummy time safe from the feet of a boisterous toddler - on my knees, who knew?

She didn't even bat an eye when she found out I was in to placenta encapsulation.

So it appears that our CHN falls in to the first category: friendly and full of practical advice. PHEW. I don't really see the point of going unless there is something of concern or a question to ask, but when she booked me in for the next appointment there and then I couldn't quite bring myself to say no seeing as she had been so awesome. Oh well.

Got a fabulous/horror CHN story?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Milestones for everybody!

Today is the day.

The BIG day.

In the grand scheme of things, there is nothing particularly special happening, yet for me it is huge.

Today is the first time I will be home alone in charge of two children for a full day. A mama milestone, if you will. And whilst it is a little bit daunting (read: shitting myself), I'm quietly confident both will be fed at some point.

I have had the massive luxury of having Map Guy home for six weeks (thank you, long service leave) and in that time I've been spoiled rotten. The transition to mama of one to mama of two has been slow and relatively painless thanks to that man. In between doing the overhwhelming majority of the cooking, cleaning and being constantly bombarded with questions and requests from the Trickster, MG has researched,ordered and installed skylights and rain sensors, fixed leaky taps, arranged all for all our tiles, light fittings and fans for the build and probably much more that I'm forgetting thanks to baby brain. Needless to say, he rocks my socks.

Single and solo mums, I take my hat off to you. SO MUCH.

To start off on the right foot we blitzed the house yesterday - or though that might have had something to do with the fact that we had dinner guests last night (which mid-build with furniture everywhere meant a picnic on the floor). And to make it even better BOTH of the kids slept through the night.

I cannot tell you how amazing this milestone is.

Tricky slept through the night for the first time EVER last week. Yes, it took three years and four months for him to reach that milestone. That's forty looooong months. He did follow it up with two horrible nights but that one night was a shiny beacon of hope for me.

Last night he did it again. Waking at 6:30am he excitedly came in to our bedroom and declared he woke up after the sun came up and didn't need anyone to sleep with him in the night because he was a big boy. He was so proud of himself. If I didn't have Bobbin on the boob at the time I would have jumped up and danced with him. Instead he had to accept knuckle bumps and gigantic cuddles.

And, in her six short weeks earthside, the little miss has also slept through the night (or most of it) twice. She woke at 5:00am today, smiling up at me and cooing. Unfortunately my boobs woke me up at 4:00am demanding to feed a child. But I've had close to five hours sleep and feel like a new woman. Perfect conditions for my milestone!

Let's keep these milestones rolling... next will be venturing to the shops alone with two children! SHOCK, HORROR!!

What mama milestones did you find daunting?

Thursday, October 3, 2013

I ate Bobbin's placenta!

You may want to click away if you're the squeamish type. Cos this is all about placentophagy - which, if the title didn't give it away - is the eating of placenta!

I had a bit of a love hate relationship with Bobbin's placenta because it was in the wrong spot. I was diagnosed with Grade I placenta previa (the least severe) at our 19 week scan and was monitored throughout the pregnancy in the hope that as my uterus grew, the placenta would not be so close to the cervix. To birth at the Family Birth Centre it had to be 5cm clear - at 34 weeks I had a scan and it was only 4.5cm clear. What followed was a week of waiting as the doctors decided whether or not I was still allowed to go there. Thankfully they believed that by the time Bobbin was fully cooked it would be 5cm clear so they signed off on me - obviously since that is where Bobbin's amazing waterbirth was.

But despite the low lying shenanigans, I think placentas are freakin' awesome. They provide your baby with all the oxygen and nutrients she needs to grow and removes waste products from her blood.

Now I hear some of you say "Hey, I think cats are freakin' awesome, but I don't go around eating those, you freak" and that's cool. You can think that way. I think cats are just little furry devils, so we can just agree to disagree on these two points. 

So back to placentas. Eating placenta is believed to:
  • balance hormones
  • increase milk levels
  • reduce post-natal bleeding
  • replenish iron levels
  • assist the uterus in reducing to pre-pregnancy state
  • reduce the baby blues and even PND
  • freak out some people

Embracing my slightly crunchy ways, I looked in to placenta consumption when I was pregnant with Tricky but never got around to doing anything about it and I really regret it. His placenta was whisked away and incinerated. All that goodness gone to waste. This time I didn't want to miss out. We're pretty much the only animal who doesn't eat it, which tells me something.

Animals eat it raw but I'd like to think I'm a little more civilized or maybe it is just because I don't even like my steak cooked anything below medium-well, but I personally couldn't handle the idea of blending a chunk of raw placenta in to a smoothie. In fact even cooking it up in a lasagne would leave me gagging. I needed the benefits without the ick factor. Placenta encapsulation is the least stomach churning way to rock your inner crunchy mama ways.

After I'd had a chance to have a good look and a feel of it, Tania from Birth Inspired steamed Bobbin's placenta, dehydrated it, ground it up and inserted in to over 60 capsules. It cost me $200 which included pick up and delivery, and a gorgeous placenta print which we are going to hang in Bobbin's new room.

L to R: Raw placenta, lemon & herb steaming pot, steamed placenta with cord (light colour because of delayed
cord clamping, the cord showing three vessels, the dehydrated placenta slices, finished product

I started taking them on day 3 and they made me feel a-maaaa-zing. I felt so strong and stable. I did still have one or two bouts of tears due to frustration, but didn't get the baby blues at all. And milk? Wow. My milk level was insane - so much so that I cut down my dose of tablets and then stopped for a while until my milk regulated. After stopping, I found I was quicker to cry over anything even remotely emotional than I had been - and now that I've started again that has ceased. Which is fabulous because crying over commercials is a bit embarrassing.

The only thing I was a little worried about is how they would smell. Would it be meaty? Because that might have been too much of a reminder that I was actually doing a Zombie impersonation and eating human flesh. But the best way to describe it would be ever a bit like a multivitamin smell - and they don't have a taste at all. PHEW!

I had the choice to freeze them and use them as an occasional natural pick me up or during menopause but to be honest, I think I'd forget about them if I stashed them away in a freezer, so best I just take them all now and revel in the effects of this natural feel good medicine.

A huge thank you to the lovely Tania from Birth Inspired who took photos of the process so I could blog about it. If you're in Perth and want to embrace your inner crunchy mama, I can definitely recommend her services.

Would you eat placenta?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A slab, some bricks and a shit load of sand

Remind me again why I thought extending and renovating with a newborn would be a good idea? Oh that's right, so she actually had somewhere to sleep!

Our house is small, measuring in at just under 100m2. In that space we have three bedrooms, one bathroom, a laundry, a kitchen and a combined lounge/dining. There isn't space to swing a cat, which is disappointing as swinging cats is one of my favourite pastimes. So we're adding adequate cat swinging space right now.

Over the past few weeks there have been a stack of blokes rocking up at 7:00am on the dot to start banging around ripping down walls and building new ones. There has been so much sledge hammering that I really expected Miley Cyrus to walk up and start licking everything.

Right now the front yard is covered in equipment and an oh-so-glam porta loo, and the back yard is unrecognizable. There is sand, bricks, sand, temporary walls, sand, support beams, sand, insulation, sand, window frames and MORE FUCKING SAND. And every day, despite keeping everything as closed up as possible, more sand gets in the house. Our builders*, Perth renovation specialists Exactus, are great and doing everything they can to keep it at a minimum, even sweeping up our back step every day before they knock off, but their skills are no match for the sand-tracking power of Tricky.

I'm still feeling positive. Some days it is positively insane, but hey, it is still positive, right? All the furniture from the kids bedrooms is in the lounge and whilst Tricky thinks "camping" out there is awesome, we are living on top of each other. If I want to chill out with some TV after 7:00pm it just isn't possible without waking the boy. First world problem, having to lay down in bed with a book or the iPad.

On top of this the dog had an operation to repair a snapped anterior cruciet ligament and has to stay inside with the cone of shame on his head, scraping our legs and banging on to every bloody piece of jammed in furniture as he hops along.

Oh who am I kidding? I'm going nucking futs! We're in each others pockets, covered in sand and dog hair with scrapes on our shins! But it is so exciting to see it all coming together so quickly. Now, if only Kevin would visit...

* That's not a paid link - but I am doing some paid work for them, blogging over at the Exactus website through the renos- unedited! That's how confident they are that we'll love them. You can find the first post here.


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