27 Mar 2014

The Family Dynamics .. 6 Months On

It's been six months since our little family of three became a four. Logically to me we're still a little family. When I say little I mean it's because we're all so young. When I say young I mean because we have two very young children and Ian and I are still "young" at this whole parenting gig.

We've only been a family of four for six months but it feels a lot longer sometimes. Then sometimes I watch my boys and think when did they grow this big. How did six months fly pass me?

I just look at Eli and his growth amazes me. Yes, he's no longer a baby. In my eyes he "grew up" the moment I came home from the hospital with Kai. 

He talks back to me and bosses me around like an adult that's for sure. Sometimes in public when he's throwing one of his tantrums and telling me off I wonder what other people must be thinking. The judgement on my child, my parenting, what they would do if they were in my situation. But I understand he's just trying to communicate the best way he. 

So obviously Eli is very vocal. He talks a lot, he's very easy to speak to and he understands .. a lot. He's one smart cookie. 

Eli loves music. He loves Bruno Mars, he loves the new drum kit his lolo got him and he has an ear for music and rhythm. Whenever we're in the car the radio has to be on and when he hears a song he likes he'll say "turn up the musics" 

Eli is more self sufficient which is great especially since Kai needs me more now. I can leave him alone to his own and he'll roam back and forth the house entertaining himself somehow. Whether it's with his train set, ipad, crayons or drum sticks he'll find something to do for a few minutes then moves on. 

He's no longer crying at childcare drop off's nor saying he doesn't want to go. He confidently uses the toilet on his own sometimes refusing any help with number two's, and he hates washing his hands. I think he may be ready to drop the afternoon nap as he hasn't really been taking it the past several days and if he does it's really short and late in the day. 

Kai, well those first six months flew. At his six monthaversary date we unintentionally planned his dedication day. Will do a post and share some photos when I get them. 

Kai is growing so quickly. And what I mean by growing is he's ... growing. He's a nugget. A solid, heavy, squishy baby. We've started giving him some food even before he was  months only because he seemed ready for more than just my milk. Any food near his mouth is subjected to his attempts to lung forward or pull it towards his mouth. 

Kai's an observer. Always looking up or down or over to the side. He smiles at those who attempt to make him laugh. He cries when I'm physically too far away from him, even if its to grab something from the other side of the room. He's walking aided by a walker. He rolls from the front of the house to the back and into every room he can squeeze into. He makes this funny grunting gurgling noise. He gravitates to his kuya, he does no wrong in his eyes. He still needs assistance to fall sleep, which is weighing us down now. We can't continue with this behaviour for too much longer its not feasible. His hair is growing but he's also still losing some as well. He's finally rolling from his front to his back but unintentionally. He usually achieves this when he's had enough of tummy time and arches his back in annoyance and surprises himself with rolling over to his front. Kai has eczema mostly around his neck. I think it's from all the drooling he does. He has beautiful eyes that smile and long girly eye lashes. 

I'm starting to give myself some priority again. I allow myself to be completely childless for a few hours at least once a week. I'm starting to feel motivated again about ... everything. I've even signed up to a box ... more on that ... one day. 

It's getting a little ... trickier raising the boys. They both demand me and challenge me in different ways. Eli's increasing inquizitiviness to question and test everything and nurturing Kai's development ensuring we're as attentive and allowing him to flourish.

It's been busy around the house too. With events to keep our weekends occupied, a few home improvements with Ian's investment property and little projects here and there its no wonder that these past few months seemed to have flown by. 

25 Mar 2014

Seeds into the First Child Syndrome

Eli's currently going through a "Mine!!" phase. Now that Kai can grab or hold onto things, if Eli catches Kai even looking at something of his, he automatically reminds his little brother that it's "Mine!". As a parent when you hear this, you instinctively respond with "Share." This is usually met with hesitation and irritation, but all you want to achieve is for your child to understand, and begin to embody the value of sharing.

I was reflecting on this. Being the eldest of three girls, I too was taught to share all the time. My younger sister and I are also roughly two and a half years apart, so my earliest memories already include her. Fast track into my troublesome teens, and my constant complaint about being the eldest was I felt that my sisters got away with everything. People who only have one other sibling, and are of the opposite sex won't understand this feeling, because the dynamics are different. At the time I didn't know how to articulate, or explain what I meant when I said they got away with everything, but now as a parent I've realised "sharing" contributed to this feeling. Let me explain. 

Sharing. Even as I searched for a definition in google, it's defined as "have a portion of something with another or others." Sharing gives you the notion that you don't own something, that you forgo it as completely yours, like a birthday cake. The cake is for you but it's not completely yours as you will ultimately share it with others. 

By telling a toddler he has to "share" all the time he's probably losing his sense of control. Something they test and want more of, especially during this phase of their life. But being the eldest sharing is something he's got to live with for the rest of his life. So hearing it, feeling that you don't ultimately own anything, over the years would have an impact on a person. 

Growing up the concept of sharing and other "eldest child" behaviours and beliefs was drilled hard into my core, so much more than my younger sisters. I felt a sense of not being treated fairly because there was an expectation on me to show behaviours above my siblings, to be a certain example.  

I've come to realise I'm doing what I hated being done to me. I've made the conscious decision that I want to change the way I deliver the "sharing" message. Already I see Eli has some of my character traits. I don't want Eli to feel like he's lost ownership when he's sharing, and when Kai is old enough the weight of sharing will be equally distributed. My dear sister still thinks that I need to share with her. I wont go into reasons why I'd argue that I don't agree with that now, but ultimately I think its because my parents didn't emphasise that she too also had to share ... with me. Sharing is a 50/50 transaction, not a responsibility of one. 
I don't want to teach Eli that sharing is something he has to do, like its a burden. I want to get him to understand that sharing is something we do because we want to, because it's right. One of the ways I think I will achieve this is through what I say when I'm asking him to share. I will stop responding with just "Share!" when I see him snatch something off his brother's hands. Instead explain and use words to get him to understand, and willingly share what he has with his brother - I know there will be times I will fail at achieving this hypothesis.

17 Mar 2014

10 Useful Gifts to Give First Time Mums

Is it just me or does it seem like everyone is having babies? I thought last year there were so many babies born, mine included, but this year is fairing up to be more baby booming than the last.

Babies usually also mean baby showers and I love celebrating the up coming arrival of a new bub. I don't know if it's all the oestrogen but there's just so much love in the room. The day is usually filled with quirky games, delicious bite size foods and adorable gifts for bub. 

When it comes to gift giving sometimes its hard to know what to get the mother to be. Having two bubs myself I've unravelled what one really needs in preparation for her new baby. Besides the obvious items such as a cot, stroller, car seat etc I've compiled a list of my top 10 useful things to give a first time mum.

1. Baby Wipes. Not only are they used to wipe dirty bottoms but be used to clean your hands before you touch your baby, rub off the vomit your baby just made on your shirt, wipe down a toy you dropped on the floor  ... the list goes on. A mother can never have enough of this muti purpose item

2. Nappies. A newborn goes through 6-8 nappies a day. Nappies will definitely be used and appreciated. A lot of people opt to getting newborn nappies, however some babies quickly out grow this size. If you know the gender of the expected baby you could gift the next size up nappies, so that mother to be is not bombarded with so many of the same size.

3. Wraps. After leaving the hospital with Eli the one thing I felt totally confused about was how to wrap him. Every midwife who came into my room at the hospital taught me a different way which totally confused me. Wraps like the Love to Swaddle or Ergo range helps keep baby snug and warm without the headache of trying to learn a wrapping technique. 

4. Breast Pads. Mothers tend to go through a lot of these soft cotton pads especially once their milk comes in. They can be very expensive so its a gift option that a new breastfeeding mom will definitely need.

5. Bottles and Teats. Baby bottles are always a great gift but the mother to be is going to need an array of teats to cater for milk flow. As a newborn your baby will need teats that only have one hole but as they get older and demand a stronger flow, teats with more holes need to be purchased to accommodate baby's needs.

6. Bottle Steriliser. New born babies need their bottles and any item that will make contact with their mouth or food source sterilised. Their tummies are very sensitive at first and does not have the maturity yet to fight the bugs associated with everyday germs. There are various types of microwaveable and electric steriliser options available. Either option does the same job effectively, it's just a matter of preference. However, I opted for a steriliser that does not take too long to sterilise.

7. Towels. Baby towels are an item most people totally forget about. Sure you could use the same towels you have at home but you have this new baby with soft delicate skin. You don't want to use the same towels you have at home that's been used and abused. What I love about baby towels is that there is usually a hoodie on one corner so you can cover the baby's head, which will keep them warm.

8. Breast Pump. I breastfed my babies and yes it's the best and easiest source of food for my babies. It meant however, my babies were like a ball and chain. Unable to be away too far or too long for feeds. Sure the first few weeks or months are doable, but life moves on and you will be freed from house arrest one day. Until your baby is on formula or solids you still need to provide sustenance to your baby while you escape for a few hours. A breast pump allows a mother to express milk for when she's away from her baby. I have used a hand pump before but I was exerting all this effort and time to produce so little milk. I then decided to invested in a decent electric pump and it has saved me my sanity. It does the job so much more efficiently than if you did it manually and I was getting more milk in a fraction of the time. 

9. Bottle Drying Rack. Once baby bottles have been washed and sterilised you need to let them dry somewhere. And like my household there isn't a lot of sink space for all our dishes and baby's bottles. A drying rack is really handy as it allows mothers to allocate a space for drying baby's bottles and teats.

10. Baby Carrier. Newborns love to be physically close to their mothers and or be held. However we all know we cant carry our precious babies all day everyday. Carriers or slings are available to allow mothers (and fathers) to still hold their baby handsfree. They're useful when your baby wants to be held but you need to get some house chores done or an alternative to lugging around a stroller when you're out.

So these are my top ten items I found useful when I first became a mother. Some items I identified as something I needed, but some I only discovered when I was in the thick of newborn parenting.

Are you also surrounded by friends who are expecting? Or have you recently become a mother? Well I'm pleased to share a promotion with my readers. Baby Village is a baby store and online retailer who stock a wide range of known brands and products for mum and bub. Baby Village is allowing me to give my readers and followers 15% off everything on their site but only until 24th of March 2014. Just enter the code: genymum in the promotional code box during the check out process to receive discount. Please read full terms and conditions below.

Sponsored post by Baby Village.

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  • Does not include delivery charges, gift vouchers or gift wrapping.
  • Excludes the Olli Ella Moma Glider
  • Only valid online. Not available instore
  • Offer ends 24th March 2014

10 Mar 2014

The Downside to Breastfeeding

New mothers are educated and encouraged to really give breastfeeding a go when their new baby arrives.

I breast fed Eli until he was seven months old and I'm still currently breastfeeding Kai.

We hear and read about all the benefits of breastfeeding, which I totally agree with but I want to put down a list of the "cons" if you like of breastfeeding, based on my personal experience.

The not so glamour side of breastfeeding include ...
  • Your boobs get bigger. Sure for someone who didn't have any breasts prior to children / breastfeeding, probably see this as a pro. But for me, someone who has spent years trying to cover up as much as possible, the extra cup size or two kills me. Not only do you need to buy an array of new bra's (sports, t-shirt, strapless, maternity), but your pre-pregnancy tops don't sit quite properly or in my case don't fit until you cease breastfeeding. 
  • Leakage. Admittedly I haven't had any leakage accidents in public but my bed sheets have not been so lucky. Breast milk stains. Yes, stains are easily removed but I was very surprised to learn they stain almost every surface it hits such as cotton, tiles and hard wood. 
  • Cost of breast pads. Like normal menstrual pads these pieces of cotton aren't cheap and the cheap one's don't do a go job, must be made of synthetic fibres as I found them to be itchy and once full smelled horrible.  
  • Breast tenderness or soreness when you haven't emptied them out for a few hours.
  • Expressing milk for when your baby will be looked after by other people. Personally I don't find expressing the issue but the process is quite tedious. Figuring out how many bottles you need to ensure there is enough while you're away, timing it so you express in between feeds and the storage. 
  • Your breasts are never the same. Everyone is different. Some say their breast are better post pregnancy, but for me after the first time, I noticed a change and I'm only assuming after this round it'll change some more.  
  • Sure you can breastfeed your child at anytime, but it can be a juggling act to be able to do it discretely in public. First time I barely did it in public, always carry a bottle of expressed milk with me just in case I couldn't find a private room to breastfeed. This time around I purchased a really awesome wrap and do it where ever and whenever I need to. My current wrap is great it's like a poncho and covers my front and back so I don't have to worry about someone seeing me from behind. However this time around my child hates being under the wrap. Kai's so creepy sometimes he just stares at me when he feeds. He'll smile too but usually he stares. 
  • Can't wear dresses. My outfit of choice prior to children was dresses. I love love dresses! When you're breastfeeding you can't wear a dress. Not one that won't allow you to pull the top part down. How would you feed your child? Unless you're willing to get naked to do so. 
They sold me the story that women have been breastfeeding for centuries and is the best gift I can give to my baby, but it sure isn't easy. 
Do you have any other examples of the unglamorous side to breastfeeding?

3 Mar 2014

The Blogging Rut

A few friends have mentioned to me they've been keeping up with my blog and I love hearing that kind of feedback. Admittedly it's kinda weird too, but encouraging none the less. Believe it or not, I put a lot of thought into my post and it's content. I double guess myself a million times, I add more content, I remove, I work on it even when I should be sleeping, I get it peer reviewed, I think about timing and then I double guess the whole post all over again. 

Some feedback I got was that I should post more often. Oh how I wish I could. There's so much I could write about on various topics but the bottom line is I don't have the luxury of time. Here are the main reasons why I don't get to blog as frequently as I would like to ...
  • The boys consume all my time. Just today as an example Kai woke up at 6am and only finally fell sound asleep at 11am. Now I need to start preparing Eli and I's lunch. Then get him ready for his afternoon nap and I'm sure Kai will wake up just in time to double team on consuming any free "me time" I have. 
  • There's no silence in the house to think. If I do manage to get both kids occupied allowing me probably max 30 minutes to get on the laptop, there's too much noise to allow me to gather my thoughts. There will probably be some loud banging or music in the background or "Mummy, I want milk" or "Mummy, I do a poo poo." Then when they've noticed my attention isn't on them they'll climb up onto me and distract me from what I'm doing anyways.
  • During the small periods of time I do get online, social media, emails, for me SMH and other blogs I follow also fight for my time on the world wide web. 
  • The house wont clean itself, the washing needs doing, meals needs to be made ... the list goes on. Over the years I've come to realise I have a little OCD with keeping the house clean. Maybe its habit but I have a list of chores I like to get through at least once a week. 
  • I try and do some form of exercise when I can squeeze the time. For years I've used workout videos (goodness, that technology doesn't even exist why am I even referencing it) to help keep fit. If I can get through a workout without any interruptions is a good day for me. 
  • Trying to finish my course. I have a little under 5 months to finish it and I hate doing things last minute. 

Sometimes I see blogging as a form of procrastination as it can take up so much of your time but the benefits are minimal, if anything. So when someone says they've read my recent post or checked out my blog or give me some positive comments. Excuse my surprised look cause I am honestly surprised but, I'm also cheering on the inside, cause its welcoming to see that the work I put into this small little space of mine isn't all in vain. 

How do you keep motivated to blog regularly if you are time pressed?

2 Mar 2014

February Review

This month was pretty quiet for us. We barely left the house for a number of reasons but mostly because we've been struggling to get Kai to take his day naps. Getting him to sleep is such a long and dragged out process. There's not one technique that gets him to sleep. Every nap time is an unknown battle .... Anyways, I'll save that for another post.

This month I participated in Fat Mum Slim's monthly Photo a Day challenge. I tried to take a photo of the daily prompt but admittedly it was actually quite hard. 

Below are some of my favourites ...
Trust me to choose images taken on holiday's I've previously been on ...
  • 3. Sunset - Taken during our last Maui sunset last year. I love being at parts of the world where you can sit back and watch the sun fading down the horizon. 
  • 7. Utensil - When Ian and I went to Paris in 2011 we spent a week there and even though it's not nearly enough time to spend at this beautiful city we did want to mix it up a bit by doing a cooking class. We figured surely you got to take a French macaron cooking class while you're in Pari'e. 
  • 8. Water - Part of our honeymoon back in 2009 was staying a few nights in Palawan Philippines. This place is so peaceful and hardly touched back then. I first discovered this place existed when I watched an episode of The Amazing Race. 
  • 9. Detail - The Eiffel Tower up close and in detail. 
  • 13. Perfect - Santorini is such a magical place. It's postcard perfect and I hope one day I'll get to visit this place again. I recall two couples sharing an apartment / condo next to us whom we chatted to and learnt that this was their second time to Santorini and they had booked themselves there for fifteen nights. At first I thought that's a lot of time to be at one place but I soon discovered why. It's so ... relaxing. I could literally stare at the view all day. We were lucky to stay in a place where we had our own pool so when it got too hot you could take a dip or stay in doors and take a nap. People talk about how beautiful this place is and it is. But for me its the one place I felt really really relaxed and completely content to do nothing at all.  
  • 26. Light - Our first day in Hong Kong we arrived at our hotel at 6pm and remember rushing to find Aqua Restaurant as we had reservations at 7pm. This was the amazing view of the city skyline with front row seats to the daily light show display.
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