23 May 2014

Eight & Thirty Four

Yesterday Kai turned 8 months and in a week Eli will be two months shy of his 3rd birthday. These boys are definitely keeping me busy as I face new challenges as they develop and change.

Eli probably takes the cake right now. He's growing at such a rapid state now and I'm just trying to accept it and catch up with him. He doesn't stop talking, which is wonderful but I'm not naturally a "talker". I remember someone describe me as "quiet" in a unflattering manner, and it's relatively correct.

But since having children I feel like I'm narrating my life. Every action, every decision and every thought is verbally said out loud. Then there's the negotiations, the compromising, the explanations and the begging. Eli is one curious chatter box.

Eli changes his mind every minute. He'll say he wants cereal first, then after I've made it say he wants porridge instead. And after the porridge has cooled down so he can eat it he'll say he wants toast. He's probably laughing inside cause I'm the puppet who gives in to all the requests.

He's started Kindermusic to harness that great ear he has for rhythm and sound. I know the teacher is pretty impressed at how coordinated and well he takes in instruction - so am I! I'm very proud at how musically inclined he is.

Another positive is his increase in appetite. He's still a grazer, but he seems to ask for a range of foods more frequently. Eli requesting for any food is music to my ears, hence why I give in to all his bossy food requests.

He's had his first stitch. He ran and tripped, hitting his head against the corner of a wall, splitting his eyebrow open. Again he scared us to death as we raced to the emergency room. The cut was so deep it required stitches but he could only brave one so it had to do.

Eli's still a little mean to his younger brother. Eli attempts to take toys off Kai's hands, he pushes Kai away when he's close and he plays rough with Kai even when we remind him he's still a baby. But then he'll surprise us when I can hear him comforting Kai when he's crying in the backseat of the car or randomly attempt to make Kai laugh.

Eli's personality is definitely changing. He's not that infant that goes to anyone without hesitation, that toddler who obeys whatever mum and dad says. He challenges, talks back and not afraid to test the boundaries.

Kai has also changed these past few weeks. He's awake a little longer between naps and he seems more alert and smiley too. He's more mobile but surprisingly does not seem to demand our up most attention as he is content to entertain himself. He crawls from one side of the mat to the other, rolls around the house when he's in the walker, he's quiet but confident.

Kai thrives in a regular routine so I try to stick to his as much as possible. He sleeps so much better now although last few nights he's been waking up and even after a feed and change he's still unsettled. 

He's a big eater. I'm surprising he can finished the food I prepare for him cause I'm pretty generous. But unfortunately he's got allergies too. He's allergic to cows milk and eggs which I've been avoiding in my diet for about two months now but the results aren't consistent. He still has break outs so I've decided to only breastfeed at night and first thin in the mornings now.

I'm loving that I can have conversations (debates) with Eli. The stuff the comes out of his mouth surprises me. From the random bursts of words that has us wondering 'was that a swear word?' to the words of encouragement I'm surprised he picked up. I have to be careful what I say and promise him cause he remembers now. I can also instruct him more too, so he's been very helpful around the house. He can grab things fro me in the other room, get him to take his dirty clothes into the laundry, throw rubbish in the bin and pick up his toys. He'll be mowing the grass in no time ... 

I'm wanting time to slow down with Kai. I feel like because my time with him is divided I'm not getting the chance to enjoy him. I also feel I had to treat him like an infant a lot longer because of his sleep training issues. That took up so much time to address and he's finally in a better mood because he's sleeping better.

These boys know how to play me like a fiddle. They definitely have me wrapped around their fingers and keep me on my toes. I love them.

20 May 2014

Carer's Leave Guilt

The last few days my one or both my boys have required some form of medical attention. It's that season of the year, winter has set in, the temperature has dropped and their young bodies are being exposed to germs they have never been exposed to before so I'm not overly worried.

Of course I don't like my children being unwell but understand its part of their development and probably best they get some exposure to germies to build up their immune system. I want them to have strong immune systems not only because they have allergies, but I'd prefer them to be sick now while I am completely at home to care for them.

This is probably one of the best parts of being at home. Being able to nurse my children back to perfect health without the guilt or worry of having to explain it to an employer. 

I remember when I returned to work after having Eli and after he's had an allergic episode deciding who between Ian and I would stay home to look after him, and usually it was Ian. There was always a meeting I couldn't miss or deadline I had to meet. Plus the guilt I felt taking a day off because I only worked four days. 

And I had one of those bosses ... female, intelligent, successful ... and childless. She managed a large team but I was her first ever pregnant employee. She was fair but work, her projects were her baby. I remember asking if I could work from home one day cause I had a doctors appointment for Eli that morning, and her response to my request was, "Can't your mum take him?" ... Um ... he's my son I'd like to take him. 

There's a lot about working I miss .. ok mostly the financial reason. But when my child is sick and my attention is completely on how to nurse him back to good health and not divided by thoughts of how I'm going to catch up on a missed work day, I feel good and at peace about being at home. 

What do you feel guilty about or struggle to balance being a working parent? 

14 May 2014

The Apple Traitor

I recently got a new phone. Why? Because my previous phone is older than Eli and it was beginning to die, literally ... as the battery wasn't even charging properly anymore.

My first smart phone was an Apple and I think this is the case for a lot of people because Apple's persuasive marketing convinced me I want one. I remember thinking "I don't need a smart phone. As long as I can make and receive calls and text messages, that's all I need from a mobile phone." How things have changed .... 

Today, our expectations of what our mobile devices should do have changed. Making a call is still a requirement but so is being able to get on the internet, take high quality photos, watch movies, integrate with our other devices, be a GPS navigator - just to name a few features we demand of our phones today.

Apple revolutionised the smart phone game but over the years other competitors started to emerge in the market but, I continued to be loyal to Apple by always opting for an iPhone  ... until now. Admittedly I only made the switch away from Apple because they may or may not introduce a new phone. And it won't be released until towards the end of the year but I can't hold out for that long.

So I recently purchased a Samsung Galaxy 5. Why buy out right instead of join a plan? I did the maths and for me, I mostly use data. I'm usually at home utilising our home internet data via Wifi so I don't require a large data plan. Actually, Ian and I have been on prepaid for the past three years. When we reviewed our usage we realised plans were a waste of money for us.

A few people have asked me how the Galaxy fairs against the iPhone, Android vs IOS (Apple) so I thought I'd do a little comparison. If you're looking for a review on techie specs and gadget features I suggest googling and finding other sites and blogs who do this in more detail. This review is more on the main functionality differences I instantly noticed as a general user between the two phones.
  • Larger Surface Area. Yes Samsung phones are bigger than the iPhones but you get over the "bigness" in a day. As humans we adjust and accustom to change and within hours you forget that you even complained about how large it is. Admittedly now when I pick up an iPhone I think they're really cute cause they're so tiny. Only other time I noticed the Galaxy's size is when I put it in my back pocket and sit down. I feel like I'm sitting on a flat screen tv and I'm going to break it. 
  • Loss of some Apps. Some apps do not have an Andriod version, which is kinda annoying. I don't really download apps so the limited apps I do want to use I was hoping to continue to have access to. There are some equivalent Andriod apps available which people have recommended eg. Phonto to replace Over. But there are a few that are waiting for an Andriod version to be built eg. Picture Postie
  • iMessage. Obviously moving to Samsung I've lost the option to send iMessages to fellow iPhone users. For those who don't know what iMessage is, its a free service from Apple that allows users of iOS-powered devices to send text messages over Wi-Fi instead of text message using a telco provider. The iMessage works for iPhone and iPod devices. For iPhone users you will know whether a message has come across as an iMessage by its distinguishable blue bubble instead of telco standard message which appears in a green bubble. Now ever message I send is costing me money unless I use other Wi-Fi message sending services such as Whatsapp
  • Extra Steps. With the Galaxy I noticed some of the features or tools an everyday user would use requires an extra step to complete compared the iPhones. For example to call someone from your contacts list you press the Phone icon, identify the contact you want to call, press their profile and then you have to press the call button before the phone commences the call. Compared to the iPhone to complete the same task you would press the phone icon, identify the contact you want to call, select their profile and the phone will commence the call. Same with editing a photo the Galaxy requires the user to take extra steps to complete the task. 
  • Predictive Text. The Galaxy has this option called predictive text which is similar to iPhone's autocorrect. Predictive text is a technology used in text messaging that suggests words to a user based on the letters being entered and the overall phrase being written, making messaging easier and more efficient. I actually prefer this technology over the autocorrect for two main reasons. As you are keying your word predictive text suggests and displays three potential words it assumes you are trying to write. When I see the word I am trying to write I select it to be added to the text message, removing the need to write the complete word minimising finger strokes. iPhones assumes a word you are trying to use and replaces it which can be annoying if you've written the word only to be autocorrected and replaced. Hence why there are so many autocorrect fails and memes online. Last reason why I prefer predictive text is it predicts the actual next word (not sure how it does this) and suggests them to you. About 70% of the time the word they suggest is spot on again, minimising finger strokes which is a win in my books. 
  • Options and features for all creatures. There are so many setting feature options it can be overwhelming. I played around for a few hours and made changes but then had to reboot my phone a week later losing all the changes I made and restoring phone to its original settings. So now I'm using all the default settings, colours, size text, background image and message tones cause personalising this phone will require half a day and ain't nobody got time for that. You can even download free or buy skins for your Galaxy.
  • Android has replicated a lot of the same functionality as Apple but there are a few that requires retraining your self. For example copying a text or image. With an Android a menu bar appears at the top of the screen when you highlight something with the intention to copy it. The only thing I can fault with the menu bar is it consists of icons and no description of what each does. So I had to play around and use each icon to figure out what each one did.
Here are a few commonly asked questions I've gotten since getting the Galaxy5 I thought I'd also cover:
Q. Is it a better phone?
A. Like I mentioned my previous phone was already really old. It wasn't charging, there was a lag doing the simplest tasks, camera quality wasn't the best and I've dropped it a few times, so a newer phone from my previous one was always going to be better. Is it better than an iPhone? Technically yes, from a specification perspective but I think its personal opinion. 

Q. Do I think the Galaxy is better than iPhone?
*sigh* ..... *thinking long and hard* ..... *thinking about the functionality differences but also what I use my phone for* .... *thinking about whether what I do is easier now or before* ...... *thinking whether that out weighs my complaints about the phone* ....

Q. Is it true its easier to use than an iPhone?
I think the answer to this is based on the end user and their capabilities to adapt and learn something new. I think if you currently use a touch screen smart phone it won't be hard for you to learn how to use another touch screen smart phone. I do feel the Android operating system mimics how you navigate on a computer and use programs which, probably explains why people think its easier to use than an iPhone.

Q. Is it (Samsung Galaxy5) compatible with other Apple devices?
Yes of course. It's in Samsung's best interest to ensure integration between the two brands. This is something I hear a lot "But everything else I have is Apple and I don't want to change." Samsung also utilises USB ports so you can recharge or transfer data across from you phone to your laptop / ipad. If anything I think it's easier because you don't need software to transfer your data across.
Q. Would you get an iPhone again or are you an Android convert?
Yes I would. If I was in the same scenario again in a few years time and the newest phone on the market was an iPhone I would get it. As I previously mentioned my smart phone needs aren't too technical and specific, so as long as I can make calls, text and take photo's that's probably the scope of my requirements. 

This was not a sponsored post just my personal view of the Samsung Galaxy 5 and because I keep getting asked about the difference and my opinion of it.

6 May 2014

Sleep Training 5 & 6

Sorry this post is so long over due.

This is a continuation from my post on sleep training Kai. If you want to know how our first couple of days went you can read about it here.

Thursday, 3rd April
2:30 He woke up, I breastfed him then returned him into his cot.
4:30 Woke up to the sound of him whimpering. I decided to just give him the dummy and turn his mobile on. He didn't go back to sleep but quietly rolled around his cot.
6:08 He not asleep decided to breastfed him. Changed his nappy and returned him back into his cot.
7:00 He's finally asleep. However I know I'd have to wake him up at 8am because we had to drop Eli off to childcare and Kai at my parents place.
11:30 I returned back to my parents place and was told he barely slept probably only between 10:10 - 10:40. I let my parents dictate what kind of schedule (if any) while Kai is with them. I've learnt over the years that giving instructions to grandparents goes in one ear and out the other. They don't listen either because they think they know better and they're big softies who can't say no to their grand children. So I've learnt to just accept as long as they're fed on time, clean and happy then I should be happy too. I might add the boys love going to the grandparents place cause they get lots of love, toys and have full rain of the house.
13:20 Breastfed him.
13:40 He fell asleep.
15:15 He woke up.
18:00 Started night time routine.
18:15 He's finally asleep.
19:00 Was woken up by noise. Went into the bedroom and hand settled him.
19:15 He returned back to sleep.
23:55 He woke up so I breastfed him.

Friday, 4th April
8:30 He woke up. I fed him and commenced day time routine. Which consists of serving of solid food, play time, read a book, some cuddles and into his cot providing only controlled comforting when he's upset. 
10:00 Put him into his cot for him to have his morning nap. 
11:30 Went to check up on him and found him awake quietly in his cot. Not sure how long he had been awake for. Took him out and started a round of his day time routine.
12:30 Put him in his cot for his afternoon nap.
12:45 He's asleep
15:30 He wakes up. I fed him and start a round of his day time routine.
17:00 Commence night time routine. Which consists of breastfed, a serving of solid food, a bath, read a book, cuddles then into his cot. Again only providing controlled comforting where leave the room and return back to comfort him after a few minutes. Extending the time each time we return into the room. 
17:30 He's asleep.
18:30 He is wakes up and hand comfort him for a few minutes. I turn mobile on and walk away and he returns back to sleep within minutes.
23:00 He wakes up so I fed him.

Since adopting a routine there's been a few things I've realised: 
  • Kai can roll over and commando crawl. At his four month immunisation the doctor asked us if he was rolling yet. We said no and yes all babies hit milestones at different times but he's over 7 months and was beginning to wonder when he was going to start rolling. When given the opportunity he's been able to master this skill. We've also noticed he can commando crawl towards an object .. when he pleases. If its too far or too hard he cries and gives up. 
  • He actually prefers to sleep on his side. About 80% of the time I've checked up on him after he had fallen asleep I found him asleep on his side. 
  • Noticed now when we are out during the day Kai barely sleeps if he sleeps at all, as I'm assuming he's accustomed to sleeping in his cot now. Only time he does sleep would be in the car or in our arms and only after he's been awake for hours. This also means now I avoid going out with him and try not to do so in consecutive days so that I don't interrupt his routine for too long. Before I use to hate being home all week then all weekend with the kids now I prefer it for Kai's sake. 
  • Kai is sensitive to noise so when he does sleep we have to close the bedroom door to stop him from waking up to any loud noise. Sometimes even the sound of Eli's voice wakes him up.
  • Routine is key and I now realise why I didn't see some parents who had "routines" for months.  I now prefer to go out during the day instead of nights, I take Kai and Eli's sleeping timetables into consideration planning a day out; and if people are over I commit to getting the boys their naps or into bed at their usual times. Life for everyone is easier when everyone is sleeping well. It's a small sacrifice for big gains.  
In my opinion we're still learning and tackling this hurdle. Some days we can put him in his cot and he'll fall asleep within minutes others it can take up to an hour for him to fall asleep. As a friend pointed out as long as he's falling asleep unassisted then I guess its progress. As for us parents we've also seen an improvement in our environment. I'm getting much more sleep, we have more time to ourselves since they're sleeping earlier and better and I feel like I've got the house under control again. So that was our sleep training journey. 

Any recommendations on how to get him to fall asleep unassisted quicker? Or how to help him fall asleep when we're out?
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