Sep 15, 2017

You know you're a parent when...

I'm going to type this whole post in 45 seconds flat, I swear it, because my baby is crying his little cheeks off and refusing to nap because he's decided to deprive me of my ONE 45-minute slot of alone-time in the entire week. Well, this is my first time sitting down since 6am so I'm taking it. Zombie-like and irritated as I may be.

You know you have 2 young kids when you are fiiinnnnaaallllyy walking out the door to leave the house and your 6-month old spews onto your 3 year old's head (not loads, just like, a seagull-poop size splat of goopey milk?) and you half-heartedly dab at it with a tissue and say "Oh, it's ok honey, it's nothing!" and she's like "ok mama" and then when you get home that night your husband's all "Why does she smell like vomit?" . She was going to have a shower later that night anyway, guys! No big deal, no big deal...

And you know you have a boy baby when literally all the boy clothes you own are striped. So you dress him in stripey pants, with a stripey bodysuit, stripey hat, stripey bib, and top it all off with a zigzag blanket just to be fresh.

Or when you have a constant smear on your left shoulder that smells of bad breath because it's literally the remnants of your baby's first foods which he miraculously stores in his mouth long after you have wiped his face and cleared the dishes (kidding, who does that?) and then dribbles onto your shoulder just as soon as you have put a clean top on.

Or when you spend so much time cooking (I'd rather do pretty much ANYTHING else) that your freshly washed hair and clean clothes smell like fried eggs and potatoes before you have even walked out the door in the morning.

Or when you spend 10 minutes writing a blog post that you weren't planning to.

And another thing that I forgot because my brain is elsewhere, anywhere, everywhere? Maybe I'll be back later if I remember?

WHAT HAVE I MISSED?


Unrelated, this blog just shared my pregnancy post along with a bunch of other success stories.


Now I need to run down the hallway and rescue my persistent baby from the confines of his cot. 







    

Sep 7, 2017

Ella-isms vol 2

"I LOVE my sister!" - looking at 6 month old Josh.



On the topic of mountain climbing: "Mummy can't come because she will slip. She slips all the time."


When her 6 year old cousin says "Hmm... how do we stick these bits together..." whilst playing lego. Ella: We just need to get a gluestick, my darling.





Ella: But we just need another baby. An older one. Because its impossible we don't have another baby!
Me: An older one? What would we call it?
Ella: Roast beef.




Whilst eating: "Oh! That went down the wrong way - into my leg I think." 



On the topic of Josh being in my tummy 6 months ago: "And Jesus made him... and he was in your tummy. Did you ate him?"




Looking through my hair randomly: "I'm just looking for blood in here.... oh! I hear some blood talking inside your head."


 Thoughtfully, whilst watching us debate moves during a game of Rummikub "I've got an idea.... we put them all on the floor and do somefing else."



 "Oh I love you SO MUCH!" to an 8 yr old boy she just played with for the first time, whilst bear hugging him.



"Would you look at this mess?!" observing a thin layer of dust on a water storage canister.









    

Sep 1, 2017

6 months of Josh (+ a hospital stay) - The Breastfeeding Saga

I can't tell you how long I have counted down for this day!

Six months 
Somehow, I have the happiest baby I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. Aside from his long stint at refusing to feed (see below), he is a smiler, a charmer, and an almost-constant giggler. He is HAPPY. He was born happy - he never cried at birth and has been chilled out from the start. To date, he has never cried on a stranger and loves to give and get cuddles. He snuffles his gleeful giggly laugh into my neck and presses in and it's precious. In hospital recently, he LOVED all the attention from the nurses and had them all head over heels within a few minutes. His eyes light up when he smiles that wide gummy grin. At 6 months + 3 days, he has cut his first tooth.

His sweet auburn mop has ash blonde growing up under it and the effect makes him looks partially bald. To be fair, his hairline is on it's second sweep of receding slightly. I never know what that hair is doing!

He lunges at my face with an open mouth sometimes, wanting to give a kiss.

He has cut his first tooth after literally 4-5 months of drooling. 

He thinks his sister, and having his nappy changed are both hilarious.

He's been giving me butterflies since I first laid eyes on his wrinkled up little post-birth face. Which is lucky, after what we've been through. ;)



The jargony breastfeeding part

This time last week, Josh was drinking as little as 50mls over a whole day. He was making up for it by breastfeeding slowly at night, whilst asleep, which has been the only way I can get him to feed. And it was taking all night. So I was exhausted on every level.

The buildup to this has been gradual.

At 2 months, he had obvious silent reflux. I could hear it bubble up his throat when he was lying down on his back, and it would often wake him up, crying and distressed. I had anticipated this after my awful experience of breastfeeding Ella, and was already dairy free as a preventative measure. I'm so glad I was, as that one time I ate cheese he had such severe silent acid reflux that I thought he was having a seizure. It was so upsetting to witness! Since then I cleared off dairy more strictly and it never happened again. He would still scream through evening feeds for sometimes hours on end while I rocked him. At this point (just before he turned 3 months old) I started giving him Nat Phos 6X - a natural cell salt that is an acid reducer, and tightened the diet even more. The evening crying bouts stopped with 36 hours. He was still fussy and uncomfortable - but oh my ears were grateful for the lack of crying into my eardrum whilst I rocked him!!

When he was very young, I had mastitis and an intense oversupply that I used block feeding (jargon alert) to re-set. But Josh would still gasp and gulp and act like he was drowning, even when I did not appear to have a fast flow or oversupply anymore. No spraying or anything. I still haven't figured that out. 

At 3 months, while we were on holiday in Fiji, he would fuss and fret when I was trying to breastfeed him sitting up. Which was all the time because we were often out and about or sitting at restaurants. I knew he was visibly hungry, but he would refuse until we got back to our hotel room and I lay down with him on the bed. He didn't scream in pain like Ella used to - but he grizzled and squirmed and was just miserable unless distracted.  Nobody else would notice  him turning his hungry little face away from the breast and grizzling in discomfort while I tried to discreetly feed him under a wrap or piece of clothing. But he would feed happily lying down, and usually fall asleep that way. So it began that he would only feed whilst lying down. A sign that could point to both oversupply or reflux - so I tried to remedy both.

At 4 months, he would only feed whilst lying down, in the dark. He would just straight up refuse any other way - whether I tried to 'starve him out' (lol) or not!

At 5 months, he would only feed whilst lying down, in the dark, and sleepy.
I was spending what felt like my whole day lying down on the bed with the curtains closed trying to coax him into getting sleepy and finally having the feed that he was grizzling in hunger for. Ella was getting neglected because I had to have total silence and no disruptions to get him to latch on and suck. If she walked in, he would jerk away and it could be hours before I got some more milk into him. I would be infuriated that my attempt at feeding him had been interrupted, but also feeling miserable because she is only three and I'm expecting her to play in a different room in the house, silently, and not come and see me?! It was so stressful.

This was the lowest point in my breastfeeding journey. For one, I had expected everything to improve by then. I was holding out for the magic 6 month mark that everyone told be would bring rainbows and unicorns and perfect breastfeeding, but we were mere weeks away and things were only getting steadily worse. So much worse.

For seconds, my daughters behaviour was spiralling out of control in an attempt to get much needed attention. She brought this out while I was feeding Josh, which would then stop him feeding. Double stress.

Thirdly, I was worried. I just had so much anxiety around his feeding. Why is he refusing? Why are the techniques for oversupply and reflux not working? Why does he hate feeding from me? How did this happen? It was never-ending and I was tired, OH SO very tired of trouble-shooting it and playing detective. A lactation consultant said he might have tongue tie when I knew he didn't (since confirmed in hospital - no tongue tie) and a doctor gave us infant gaviscon which simply made him constipated and miserable. I had to learn and research every detail of everything so that I could discern some of it for myself and sift through the conflicting, useless advice I was receiving. I sensed he was losing weight but wasn't certain.

And fourthly..... I was straight up exhausted. Twenty-four-seven overwhelmed breakdown-ready exhausted. I don't know how I appeared like a normal person doing normal things when I dropped my kid off at Kindy or went and brought groceries. I don't know why I didn't complain and cry to every person who asked how things were. I would say "it's been hard with feeding", but I knew no-one really understood and I didn't have energy to deal with explaining it to everyone! I could barely explain it to myself in my head. All I knew was he hates feeding, it's happening again, I'm exhausted, I've failed at motherhood on several counts, and IF I CAN JUST HOLD ON TIL 6 MONTHS!! all this will vanish. Right?

Fifth, the feeling of isolation was intense. Knowing that even people who I try to explain it to just have no idea. Or say "yeah breastfeeding is hard! I got mastitis once!" and I would think, whats wrong with me? Why do I have ALL THE THINGS when it comes to breastfeeding? 

I guess I will never know that.
So  I'll just say this:

- I MADE IT TO 6 MONTHS. That's more than double last time. I know the diet and Nat Phos 6X helped massively - but there was something else going on too that we still haven't quite figured out.

- I am no longer breastfeeding except tiny bits here and there if I feel like it, and he is asleep. He is taking formula now, happily (since his hospital stay).

- We got sent to hospital. After it was confirmed his weight was dropping percentiles, the Plunket nurse sent us to the GP who sent us to hospital. They monitored his every move, weighed his wet nappies, put him on bottle feeding only/mostly, and gave me 2 nights baby-free sleep! My first in 6 months.

So, we marked Josh's 6-monthsiversary differently than I expected, by being in hospital together and resting and having quality time. Visiting the cafe there, chatting in our room, getting to actually spend time with my husband!!



Since coming back 5 days ago, he has hit all his milestones at once. Taking his first regular day naps, feeding appropriately, rolling, getting his first tooth! In less than a week. My relief of having a more normal life now is huge. He is feeding from a bottle during the day, whilst conscious. Not huge feeds, but he's doing it. And he's napping. And I'm spending quality time with my daughter. My life is changed since this past weekend in hospital, and that's not an overstatement!


The past 6 months we have relied on my mum so much, and Calum's family, and church family, kind words from friends, and prayer. It's been so hard, and I know it's not going to suddenly be all roses forever, but right now, having a baby who feeds and sleeps, and getting some sleep myself, feels pretty good.






    

Aug 17, 2017

Life Lately

If I'm being perfectly honest I have felt head-underwater for the past 5 and a half months with this delectable little soul.
Allow me to grace you with a gratuitous selfie featuring: co-ordination with each other AND with my iron.


Rebellious eyebrows included. Or "eye-brellas" depending who you are talking to around here.

We've had some miserable weather and on this day I convinced Ella that reading her library book would be really exciting if we made a nest. I can pretty much convince her to do anything by using the words 'special nest'. Ah, 3 year olds. She lay down here and said "Mum....? You can bring me some icecream if you like."
Well played, miss diplomacy '17.



Speaking of bringing food to people.... the other day I walked past the couch where Ella was setting up for a game of doctors I presume and she said "Um, Doctor Mummy?? You forgot to, um, bring me some food." And then THIS conversation happened which cracked me up because clearly this is her memory of pregnancy with me. You know, because all I did was lie on the couch and eat chips. But truly - Bluebird Ready Salted + Salt & Vinegar potato chips saved my life many a time.

It has been nearly 6 months with Josh, and I'm in complete denial because there is NO STINKING WAY that an entire half-year has slid by without me really doing anything except surviving and keeping my children alive, and fairly happy but emphasis on surviving. The other night I took a video of Ella making Josh laugh by blowing fart sounds when I had achieved pretty much nothing else that day and I suddenly realised that these giggly fart-loving offspring are what I have created. Six months of my literal blood, sweat, tears, milk and hopefully no other bodily fluids tho I've probably missed something have created this sibling set of little stinkers whom am I all too pleased to call my own. And that's what I've done for 6 months. (Plus the 9 months before that.) Which is over a year of, well, sacrifice. I don't think you really get sacrifice until you do this parenting gig. Like, I may have saggy boobs for the rest of my life. YOU KNOW??????!!!! 
No?


We've been doing other stuff too, but to be honest my brain has been a whirlwind of how to fix my baby's breastfeeding issues for um about 5 months now and I'm only just (hello formula) starting to feel like we may be coming out of the woodwork. I'm lucky to have possibly the happiest baby alive as my child - like tonight he sat by himself in the bouncinette giggling and chatting for a good 10-15 minutes. The exception would be when it comes to feeding - but that's an intricate story for another day to add to my own personal breast-(or-not)-feeding  wall of fame (have you been reading here for long enough to remember Ella's story?). 

Welp, I have a coughing spluttering preschooler who can't sleep and a crying baby who apparently isn't asleep either to deal to.

Adios!








    

Aug 10, 2017

Konmari-ing my closet

Maybe you've heard of "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up". Maybe you think it sounds weird and creepy to be thanking your clothes, letting your socks 'rest' after a job well done, and releasing your belongings to be one with the universe if they don't 'spark joy'.

I'm with ya.

But after reading a lot of reviews about the famous 'Konmari Method' of decluttering I found it all looked rather addictive and I wanted to try it. I'm no hoarder, but shheeeeez do we own a lot of stuff. I'm frequently purging and decluttering so I was skeptical that I needed any kind of 'method' but there were a few points to this system that I decided to use and I found them helpful:

1) Declutter by category, not location. For example, on this day I decluttered ALL my clothes, gathering them from my car and every corner and bag in the house. Most of them happened to be in my wardrobe, but it wasn't technically a wardrobe clean-out. 

2) Put ALL the things together in a big pile so you can really see it all laid out. It's mind-boggling how much you can pull out of a closet, chest of drawers, bedside drawers, etc. I found that I could instantly see that my lack of sports t-shirts could be resolved easily by shifting some old tshirts into the sports pile instead of using them as sleepwear..... etc.

3) You take everything OUT and then you sort through looking for the things you want to keep - as opposed to looking through your wardrobe for things to take out.

4) If you're not keeping it, you thank it and then release it. Well, gotta be honest, I've never been one to chat with my clothes, but I do think the attitude of gratefulness allows you to get rid of things more easily.

5) You declutter in a very specific order., beginning with clothes and books. I found several checklists online to follow. Just google 'Konmari Checklist' for one.

Onward!

Here's a bunch of stuff that I ruthlessly threw in a basket to be rid of or deal with later. How long will this basket sit in my room? Will I go through it and fall in love with each piece over again thus defeating the purpose of this exercise? Time will tell...

Meanwhile it's weird to have only one item of clothing on each hanger, and half of my wardrobe free!


I also just discovered that I own 12 sleeveless tops. Quite a lot for someone who almost always wears sleeves!

The right side is almost completely empty now, leaving me room to gather these gift bags into an old duvet bag and get them *finally* off the floor!!! And I can actually see them! Bending over to find stuff on the floor makes me mad. Must be a throwback to pregnancy.


What will I do with the empty shelves on the right??? Oh the possibility. I guess I'll leave that until I'm further through the Konmari Checklist and need to find somewhere to put our overflowing linen.

On the left, I have a shelf for each of: swim gear, maternity gear, and snow gear.


It feels pretty good to have a clean closet. Books are next on the checklist. Immediately followed by paperwork or something equally awful that I may never survive.

Let's not talk about the rest of the house that my 3 year old messes up literally faster than I can clean. Would you ever know that I clean/tidy constantly? 

 I think not.

Have you Konmari-ed anything?








    

Aug 3, 2017

Favouritest favourite chewy chocolate chip cookies [Recipe in pictures]

I know I know, another recipe post, but isn't there something delicious about watching a recipe come together without having to actually cook it?! Or is that just me? After this, you probably are going to actually cook it anyway. Come on now, it's the weekend! Pretty much.


MMMMMMMMMM these are only the most delicious cookies I've ever made.
I'm a bit of a connoisseur of the humble chocolate chip. Read: I'm so fussy about cookie perfection that it took me like 10 years to find this recipe and now I'm done with all cookie recipes because this is my go-to forever and ever amen.

It's crispy on the outside, chewy in the middle, spreads out whilst cooking and gets that crinkly top that only the finest brown-sugar-and-melted-butter cookies get.

And it feeds quite the crowd - I made 28 medium-large cookies with this recipe. 

Let's get crackin.

A big ol' slab o' butter.
(Technically: 170gm or "one-and-a-half sticks" if you are American)


Melted in the microwave. None of this dicing business, just melt the whole brick, my friends.


Good enough.

Now dump in 1 cup of brown sugar and half a cup of white.

Mix mix mix in your cake mixer. Or with your really, really buff arms and a wooden spoon, if you are brave and/or ripped (not I).

Add the egg (and the extra egg yolk if you are feeling less stingey than me. It still works with only one egg - but the extra yolk in the recipe makes them richer and possibly even delicious-er.).... and the rather large amount of vanilla extract (1 tablespoon) that makes it so good.
Appetising or what.

Let your food mixer beat this a bit until it's nice and glossy looking like so.


Now biff (technical term: sift / measure / incorporate) in your 2 cups of flour, 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. You only need to sift, if your baking soda is actually caked up, in my rather reckless experience. So, no sifting here.


Mix it on slow until it's just incorporated...


Mmmm. Kill me now.


Actually now.


Wait, now.

That's 2 cups (give or take! 2 cups is a lot!) of milk chocolate drops I'm talkin' bout. Dark is nice too... or better yet, a mix of half dark and half white like I made here.

You can smell the deliciousness a mile away. It's vanillary chocolate-chip glory that would easily rival any "Mrs Higgins" cookie place you should innocently walk past on lambton quay blowing eau' de' cookie your way and forcing you to buy a great-smelling but debatably less-great-tasting greasy brown paper bag of cookie.


I use this nifty cookie scooper from Moore Wilson's that I'm fairly certain is actually an icecream scoop. What can I say. #expert

Space them nice and far apart, flatten them a teeny bit with your hand, and if you want to be fancy, plop some extra chocolate chips (or drops in this case) on the top.


For me, I bake these in a moderate oven (just slightly under 180c) for only 8-9 minutes. They are even better if only done for 7 minutes. Now, maybe my oven is abnormally hot because the original recipe I stole all this from said 15-17mins. So I'd say just take them out when they're looking slightly browned like so:

(I squeezed the last cookie dough ball into this gap on the tray so they are all quite friendly in this pic):


Cool them on a cooling sheet if you have one, and watch that crinkly top become a little more crinkly and horribly tempting for someone like me who actually can't eat any of these ingredients and is just torturing themself for the sake of a blog post and being able to give cookies to friends.


*sigh*


Enjoy!

Here's the more recipe-ish recipe, adapted from Allrecipes.com.au

Ingredients 
Makes: ~28 cookies

2 cups plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
170g unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 cups chocolate chips

Directions
Preheat oven to 175 degrees C. Grease baking trays or line with baking paper.
Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt and set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg and egg yolk until light and creamy, then add the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt) until just blended. Lastly, gently stir in the chocolate chips. Drop cookie dough 1 large teaspoon (like a smallish ping-pong ball size) at a time on to the baking trays. Cookies should be about 8cm apart. Flatten slightly and top with more chocolate chips if desired.
Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned. Remove from oven and allow to cool on trays for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.