10 months old!

Was it really 10 months ago that my little boy was a fresh new face into this world? I can’t even fathom how much our lives have changed in that time, but it’s been a wonderful time!

Here is my 10 month old cherub, thinking “Mum, why would you make me wear this hat?”

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He’s not walking yet, which is a relief, though he does like to scale areas like the playpen or the sides of the sofa. He is an avid crawler though, and gets around very quickly (and follows me around the house like a pet! Awww…)

ImageHe’s covered with yoghurt in the above pic, which is supposedly one of his favourite foods except he doesn’t take anything from a spoon now. He loved having food pouches squirted into his mouth, but mostly he loves handling his own food, as messy as it can be. Favourites are (in stick form) carrots, broccoli and asparagus as well as apples, bananas and strawberries. He’s also at the “dropping” stage where everything he eats goes on the floor at least once. Sigh. At least it builds immunity?

ImageSleep-wise, he’s not too bad lately. We had a few issues when he was growing teeth (his fifth and six ones are already on the way!), but we have also had a few nights where he’s slept through (which is BLISS). 

ImageHe loves the outdoors – being pushed in the pram in the reserve, playing on grass, watching dogs play, etc. It is getting a little cold and rainy now that it’s winter, but we still get a chance to have a play outside once in a while.

ImageHe’s still a sociable baby and loves meeting other people at the social things we do each week, like church, charity work and meeting up with friends/family. 

ImageI can’t deny that I am SO proud of my little boy and what he’s become (even if he is a bit of a rascal at times). I look forward to many more days, months and years full of joy and fun with our little family! ❤

On a final note, I’m feeling generous so I’m running an EOFY sale with 20% off ALL wall stickers. Get the promo code on our Facebook page and thanks in advance! Have a great week everyone!

Sleep sleep sleep…

If there’s one thing I’d like today, it’s sleep! I think that as a new parent, you hear a lot of things like “Uh oh, you’re not going to get a lot of sleep!” but I don’t think you actually know what it means until you really experience it yourself.

Jacob was born at 8.00am – I laboured overnight and was a little bit tired by that morning, though I didn’t really feel it due to the euphoria and adrenaline of finally meeting my little baby. I remember the nurses asking me to sleep as they put him into the little crib beside me – and I couldn’t sleep! All I could think about was him (and all I was doing was taking photos of him!). I was told that he and I were fine and that I had the option to go home in the evening if I wanted to. Feeling a bit gung ho and like I was on top of the world, we agreed to be discharged at 6.00pm.

ImageOne of the photos I took of Jacob – oh, he was such a cute little thing!!

Oh my goodness, was I crazy? That night, Dan and I were taking turns cuddling our beautiful newborn baby who was just shrieking his head off all the way from midnight to about 6.30am. And that’s where I learned the meaning of “You’re going to lose some sleep.” It was only a few days later that we realised what would soothe him – this baby was a dummy-sucking baby! But anyway, on began our journey of interrupted sleep.

With this new “dummy” of his, Jacob was quite easily pacified. He did cry quite a bit (as babies often do) but we were able to get him into a 3-4 hourly routine (feed, sleep, wake up 3-4 hours later and repeat). And then he started sleeping 6-7 hour stints in the night (11pm to 5am/6am) which was quite a relief. And I thought, oh wow – have I actually got a baby that sleeps through?

I think another thing that new parents are not really told are the specifics of lost sleep – when it happens, why it happens and what on earth we have to do about it. Yes, I know I was supposed to do my homework before the baby was born, but nobody told me about things like wonder weeks, growth spurts, sleep regressions, etc. And so many times, people tell you that babies don’t go by the book (but I believe this is one area where they do go by the book, or at least it appears to be the case).

So, before anyone like me gets the impression that their child is a sleep guru, I just wanted to share some resources about these difficult periods of time. I’m not saying that your child will not be a good sleeper – I seriously hope and pray that he or she is, but it’s always good to know what to expect in case he or she isn’t.

Firstly, wonder weeks – at first I thought this was a good thing (and in a way, it is) like he’d become a wonder baby and suddenly learn how to change his own nappies or something. Wonder weeks are actually weeks of rapid mental development, where they make huge discoveries such as understanding cause and effect, recognising faces, mobility, etc. I know that I’ve looked at a number of resources, but this one from Essential Baby is quite a good one in explaining when and what happens in each wonder week phase.

Jacob is now about 39 weeks so he’s not really in a wonder week phase at the moment, but perhaps there are other things to explain his sleeping issues. When I say issues, I just mean interrupted sleep patterns at night. This time last week, he used to go to bed around 8.30pm and wake up around 3am for a feed, and then be fresh and happy the next morning at 6.30 or 7am. However, the last few nights, he’s been fighting off sleep so bedtime is usually after 9 (and it was 10 tonight because he crashed out at 5pm, so couldn’t sleep til 10) and he wakes frequently, only to want to wake up at 4.30am to play. No, 4.30am is NOT playtime.

Anyway, another thing close to my heart are sleep regressions, because Jacob seems to be quite “by the book” in terms of timeframes. So, I thought I’d worked everything out by 3 months and then when he turned 4 months old, sleep went haywire again. And I was asking myself “What am I doing wrong?”, “Is he teething?” (yes, he was actually – the teeth were moving under the gum), “How do I get him to sleep through again?”

It didn’t help that it was the heart of one of the hottest summers we’ve had in Adelaide for a very long time! But anyway, with a bit of perseverance, we got through it somehow (and it did help that Daniel was on school holidays, so he was here to back me up). Here is a good link with a bit more information about the 4 month sleep regression (and how to deal with it).

Next up, we had teething. Jacob was an early teether and his teeth were already moving around 4 months, but it was when he was about 5 months that his teeth actually cut through and we had a lot of tears (and a lot of Panadol). All the sleep routines we had were thrown out the window and a lot of cuddles were offered.

Anyway, when he was 6 months old, he was learning to crawl and probably had a growth spurt somewhere that ruled out all his 00 sized clothing. I remember when I was caring for him alone when Daniel was away on school camp, and I’m not sure why but he chose that week to put into effect his hourly wake-ups. It was quite a painful week, I have to admit, but we got through it!

And now, I believe we’re into the next sleep regression – the 8, 9, or 10 month regression coupled with a nap transition. So, basically he’s going through quite a few developmental leaps lately (and I notice them too – it’s really amazing). Here are a few things I’ve noticed happening in the last few weeks:

– He has sped up rapidly with crawling. Like, he’s pretty much walking pace if not faster. So if I put him somewhere and try to run off to do something, he’ll just catch me by the heel. When he’s in the bedroom (which is in the back of the house) and he hears Daniel open the front door, he heads all the way out there to investigate. I wonder if there’s such a sport at crawl-sprinting?

– He is always looking for me or for Daniel. If he sees me walk past the room he’s in, he’ll come looking for me because he knows I now exist even if he doesn’t see me. 

– Before, he would only say “Bababa” and “Gagaga” but lately he makes all these weird different sounds. It’s hilarious talking to him – he babbles things and does long “Ohhhhs” and “Aaaahhs”, or blows raspberries and makes rasping sounds. I love it when he’s noisy because I know he’s discovering new things that he can do vocally.

– He’s increased so much in coordination! The other day, I think he just discovered how to transfer things (in this case, a strawberry) from one hand to the other, and spent a good long time testing this theory. He also is much better at picking up things with his pincer grip, hence he can feed himself much more effectively now (unless he deliberately wants to squish something).

Aside from that, it seems as though he’s changing his own nap schedule. He’s been on two naps a day most of the time (and was relatively regular with them – 10.30am and 3.00pm) but now I’m finding he’s trying to skip his morning nap and will go down to sleep around lunchtime (which is a pain if he hasn’t had lunch yet, and then I end up feeding him lunch at 2pm!). But he’ll have a long sleep instead and power on until around 8 something at night. It’s still a transition so we still have struggles – I still try to put him down to bed at his old naptimes, but we can only wait and see what happens.

I read this resource which provides a bit of an insight into this particular sleep regression. This is another one from The Sleep Lady which helped me to pinpoint what he’s actually going through and how to handle it. This one is a blog post about sleep regressions in general, and I am looking to try some of her techniques (will report back on it later). 

If this all sounds like gibberish to you, don’t worry – if you’re not in that phase, I’d say don’t worry about it too much because really, there’s nothing much you can do to prepare for it (except to stock up on lots of chocolates and coffee). For now, just savour some beautiful shots (courtesy of mum in law) of Jacob playing in autumn leaves.

Image“Why are you not answering me, little angel?”

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“Maybe I’ll just chase the cat instead.”

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“You know what? Autumn is awesome!”

To all the mums out there – I wish you a restful night full of sleep and sweet dreams. ❤ Over and out (like a light!).

A beginner’s guide to caring for a baby when your partner’s away…

So, Dan has been away the last few days for school camp and is FINALLY HOME (thank goodness!). Call me a clingy wife, but I really do like to have him around. I was curious to see how I would go handling Jacob on my own for a few days, and I’m still here blogging, so that’s a good sign (never mind that I haven’t mopped the floor since before he left, and I’ve been trying to post this since Wednesday).

Honestly, it’s been a challenge, and from my (limited) experience, here are some Do’s and Don’ts that I would definitely suggest…

Do sleep in. I don’t know about your baby, but my baby doesn’t sleep very well anymore. *sob* He used to sleep through, but now has fluctuating sleep patterns from 2 wake-ups a night (tolerable) to waking up every hour (somebody kill me). It’s either a growth spurt, a wonder week, teething or all three combined! I used to feel lazy for sleeping in til 9 am, but guess what – your body needs it from all the interrupted sleep. Otherwise, take some naps in the day – I can’t nap though, have tried but can’t wind down, hence why sleeping in works.

Babies are cutest when they sleep, don’t you think so:

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Do make allowances for yourself and for your baby. Yes, there are supermums out there, but half the time, things are not going to go according to plan (and you have no backup too). Missed that appointment or perhaps baby’s mealtime? Don’t sweat it and as long as you and bub are (relatively) healthy and happy, you have succeeded.

Do have some people over (or go out to see people) to keep yourself sane. Jacob likes going so I usually make sure we had an outing each day, even if it was a short one to the car repair place. I also prefer to go out because my house wasn’t always very presentable, which brings us to the next point…

Don’t expect to get any housework done. Yes, if you can do the laundry, that’s fine. If the baby sleeps a good long nap, surely you can attempt at vacuuming and mopping the floor. But if you are debating between having lunch and housework, have lunch. Make sure you’re properly functional and who knows, if bub goes to sleep at a decent hour, you can bring out the inner clean-freak side. Oh wait, you don’t have one? 😛

Don’t overload your schedule. You want to get a lot of things done for hubby before he gets home? Great idea, but it might also get you utterly exhausted. I, for some random reason, decided to take Jacob to the beach after meeting a friend at lunch. It was lovely but I was so so SO tired that night. I did get some cute photos though (sneak preview):

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Don’t try to cook a gourmet meal every night. I learned that cooking and carrying a baby do not go together. Had the baby been sleeping while I was making dinner (fat chance!), I might have tried to do more. The last few days, I survived on breakfast cereals, leftovers, microwave meals and chocolate. Do not underestimate the power of chocolate. 😉

Don’t lock yourself out of the house. Alright, this is a no-brainer but frankly, it could have been so much worse. The evening before Daniel came home, I thought I’d take Jacob and Skittles out for a walk. I had Skittles on the lead and ready to go, the garage door open and I was just taking Jacob out to put him in the pram – and I heard the door slam shut. It was a windy day and yes, the door was locked. Argh!!

I tried my luck with the bathroom window – climbed onto a bin and managed to squeeze the top half of me into the crack (into a space of something like 20cm!) but could not get my childbearing hips through. At long last, I called my in-laws for the keys. Thank you – you’re lifesavers! Meanwhile, I just walked the dog and Jacob anyway, and thanked God that at least Jacob wasn’t inside when I was outside or something terrible like that.

Don’t do it alone. I always make this mistake, because I am a fiercely independent person (though I do like my husband home, haha!). I know many times I was thinking “Oh no, what should I do?” and my instinct was to look things up on the internet and see how I can fix the problem. But there are so many other resources out there – people to talk to on 24 hour hotlines, and of course, there are relatives and friends as well. It takes a community to raise a baby, so you can always consult your community! 🙂

As a final piece of advice – if you don’t feel the pinch when hubby’s away, he’s probably not doing enough when he’s around! Make sure that he pulls his weight because caring for a baby is a joint responsibility (and trust me, he doesn’t want to miss out spending time with his little one!). But if he is, reward him when he’s back – I made him oat chocolate pancakes for breakfast the next day:
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I just wanted to add a touch of my admiration for single parents who manage to do this on a continuous basis. I think I would have cracked at a week! I know some single mums and I think they are the strongest people I’ve ever known. To all you mums out there (especially my own, as I know she’s always one of the first people to read my blog) – thank you for your love, your strength and your sacrifices. 🙂

On an ending note, I entered Jacob into the Bonds baby competition. After a lot of debating over which photo to choose, I ended up choosing this photo. For some reason, I just love the twinkle in his eye! 🙂 I’ll provide more details when the voting starts!

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The aftermath of Christmas…

It’s amazing how so many things build up to one day and then it feels like that’s it, the end! Do you feel that way about Christmas? I felt a bit deflated yesterday but am intent on keeping the Christmas spirit going, at least til the New Year’s spirit takes over. To keep the flame burning, Daniel and I watched National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, which was really quite funny!

I guess one of the highlights of the days after Christmas is enjoying all the presents we received. And boy, were we blessed this year with lots of wonderful gifts from family and friends!

On my Christmas list this year, I put down some kitchen equipment as I’d like to do some experimenting. Before when I was working full time, I never really had the time to bake or make elaborate meals, but now that I’m at home a lot, I’m looking forward to trying out some new recipes! The large contraption at the back is actually an ice shaver – perfect gift for summer! Ais kacang, here I come! (It’s a shaved ice Malaysian dessert, fyi.)

ImageProbably two of my favourite gifts were the musical instruments I received – I got an awesome green ukulele which I’m learning to play now, and Daniel got my guitar fixed (well, it’s theoretically his guitar but I’ve claimed it as my own). Dan sent me on a treasure hunt though, with a list of clues to seek out the gift! It took me all over the house and I finally found the guitar in the back shed!

ImageBut if there’s one thing I’m excited about, it’s Jacob’s presents! They feel like presents for me because I’ll probably end up playing with them with him. The lucky boy got lots of colourful toys and awesome books like Hairy McLairy and Mem Fox books too. He also got clothes as well as Praise Baby, which is a lovely DVD set with praise songs and lovely videos of nature, people, etc. that are to grasp the baby’s interest and stimulate the mind. Jacob had a good time lying on the carpet watching some of it.

ImageThanks again to everyone for giving us such lovely presents! Now, to clean up and put the house back in working order.

But of course, this post would not be complete without a picture of my two lovely boys! Christmas can be an exhausting affair, and these two are recovering from it in style.

ImageHope you all had a very Merry Christmas!

Another random end to the week..

What a week! I’ve really been enjoying the warm weather and would love it if it just stayed around this temperature always. Jacob likes the warm days and doesn’t pee on me every time we change his nappy!

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Summery days are soon to come though – I can feel it in the air. I love living in a city with four seasons. Growing up in a tropical country was fun, but I always wanted to experience the change in landscape. Of course, I would’ve loved to live somewhere with a white winter but then I know I’d freeze to death and be miserable the whole time. Adelaide’s the place for me, for now. 

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One highlight of the week was that my Melaleuca delivery arrived. It calls itself a wellness company which cuts out a lot of the chemicals used in our everyday products. I was actually looking for products that were gentler on skin; mine and also Jacob’s. I mentioned in a previous post that my skin condition has been deteriorating since after the pregnancy, and summer would have just made it worse.

Then a friend of mine mentioned Melaleuca products and gave me a small sample of the Renew skin cream – it really worked wonders! The burn I had on my right hand from oven cleaner is pretty much gone, and my skin stays moisturised for longer. I was actually prescribed a steroid cream for the burn but hardly ever used it because I didn’t want to get it on Jacob’s skin. At least I know that these products are safe to use, even on babies.

I’ll be trying out some of the products to see if they work for me, and perhaps will make the swap for our household. 🙂

Speaking of household, I have a few new proud additions to my household:

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Yes, I’m going crazy in the kitchen! I’ve been trying to learn new recipes and master new skills. On Thursday, I made some patties for the Shepherd’s Lodge which is a community meal programme I used to volunteer at. I need practice! They were yummy but a bit too moist. 

Anyway, my chopping boards are falling apart so I got a nice solid wooden one. My stockpot kept giving me burnt soup (trust me to buy it from Kmart!) and I remember once poor Grandpa Merv (Dan’s grandpa) putting in some elbow grease to clean the black bits off it. And since I’m looking to do more boiling and steaming of food, what better way than to get a good steamer set? These items were over 70% off and the grand total didn’t even reach $60 – what a bargain!

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Jacob has been a bit fussy this last week, and some people say that he’s going through one of those Wonder Weeks. So, I did some research and found a good article which explains in a nutshell what they are and when they happen.
http://www.mybabysleepguide.com/2012/01/when-are-wonder-weeks.html

Another theory is early teething. Now, I know he’s only 3 months old so he shouldn’t be teething yet. However, I’ve heard that the teeth can start developing within the gums (but not cutting through), causing some discomfort. I can actually see Jacob’s teeth below his gums now, and he’s been drooling a lot so it may be part of the reason why he’s a bit fussy. 

However, my strongest hunch is that he’s not getting enough sleep. He really fights off his sleep so he can look at things and be part of the conversation. On Monday, I went out shopping and expected him to sleep in the pram (which he normally does), but I don’t think he slept at all, resulting in a meltdown all the way home.

Today we got him to get some good naptimes in the morning (and he did a great 2.5 hour stint) and we’ll see the effects of it tonight. Apparently the more they sleep in the day, the longer they sleep at night…

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We’ll see about that, he says. Tonight’s sleep is crucial as we’re going away for the weekend, and it’ll be the first time he’s slept in a different place. I’m quite confident that he’ll be fine, especially if he sleeps in the car on the way there and takes a few naps in the day. But if not, I take responsibility for it (and I could always drive him around in the car)…

And yet again, will be finishing this post off past dark. Fridays seem to go so quickly. Have a great weekend everyone, and wish us luck on our first mini trip away from home!

Soft and fluffy…

Today is one of those days that I’m just bursting with annoyance. It’s one of those days I can only have a 2 minute shower because the baby chooses to scream his head off the moment I get in… and one of those days where I have to wait 1 hour for my doctor’s appointment with a feral child (not mine) running around the waiting room. Not to mention my nose is just hay fevered out. Le sigh…

However, my new woe is dry skin. Nobody told me that you shrivel like a prune after giving birth – well, I suppose it doesn’t happen to everyone, but it doesn’t hurt to warn. After consulting my mother’s group, it’s something to do with your hormones (and I suppose all the good nutrients go into the breastmilk).

Anyway, at the moment I feel like something between a lizard and puff pastry. I moisturise every few hours but it just dries out right after. I guess it doesn’t help that I live in South Australia, the driest state in the driest continent in the world.

One thing I’d love right now is a warm (not hot, or I’ll shed my skin like a snake) bath. Jacob, the lucky boy, gets a bath each night and sometimes in the big tub with me or daddy. He loves his baths and is looking very content with himself here:

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While many people like buying baby baths, I was told that it wasn’t really necessary – and I’m glad I never got one. There are so many things you can wash a baby in (and no, a bucket is not counted). We initially bathed him in our makeshift ice bucket (which is about the size of a linen basket), but nowadays I don’t even bother with that too often. Sometimes, if all I want to do is clean his bum, I just half-fill the sink and wash him in it. After all, he can still fit in the sink (this is a slightly older pic of him though):

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Anyway, I will keep this short as the bed beckons me. I can expect a restless night as it’s warm – Jacob’s definitely a winter baby and loves cooler weather. But he is a complete grump when it’s hot – perhaps he can just sleep in his swaddle & diaper tonight? Good night all! 🙂

Sleep and the lack of it

Last night wasn’t too great a night for sleep – I think daylight savings has thrown off Jacob’s body clock a bit. I don’t really understand how daylight savings works too, so maybe it’s me who’s not adjusted properly.

Testament of this lack of sleep is this:
I was out walking the dog and carrying Jacob in his Bjorn, when I met a guy with two dogs who struck up conversation.

Him: How old’s yours?
Me: One and a half years…
(He gives me an odd look)
Me: Ohh, you mean the baby!? Sorry, two months…
Him: Aw, that’s okay. We just had one – he’s only 10 days.
Me: Congratulations!
Him: Thanks – what have you called him?
Me: Skittles. Oh wait, that’s the dog. Sorry. Jacob.

I think he probably figured I was a bit out of it (or thought perhaps I liked the dog more than the baby), so he left soon after. Oh dear.

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Jacob clearly has no issues sleeping though. Anyway, speaking of sleep – it was something I always thought I could do without, or at least steal a bit from each day.

My first all-nighter was when I was 10 or 11 – we had to write a novella for English class and my inspiration only came the night before it was due. A lot of Nescafe was consumed that night (yes, I’ve been drinking coffee since I was in primary school). I also spent many a night staying up writing stories or songs – once the idea hit me, my brain would not shut off.

Then I went to high school & college, where there were quite a few middle-of-the-night phone calls, web-surfing to the wee hours of the morning or just sitting in bed contemplating the future. Of course, there were also times I got caught up reading a really good novel or watching an entire season of anime (like 30 episodes in a row)…

At Uni, I had my days of clubbing and coming home at 8.00am – also, assignments took significantly longer and once I was on a roll, I wouldn’t stop til it was done. I remember once after a long stint of not sleeping, I KO-ed around 8.00am and woke up at 9.00am the next day. It was very disturbing.

But I think I turned things around when I met Daniel. I eventually learned that normal people actually sleep at night, and a good amount of sleep is about 8 hours each night. It took me a while to stamp out my bad habits, but now I’m a full-on advocate of sleeping well at night.

Well, where am I going with all of this? I just thought that I’d be better at handling the lack of sleep, seeing I have a long track record. But no – this fragmented sleep pattern is making me little scatterbrained, a bit moody at times and a bit less productive.

But I think it’s all worth it – waking up next to the man of my dreams is pretty worth it. XD

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However, for mums-to-be (or mums-right-now), here are some ways to cope with the lack of sleep – I haven’t tried all of them but I really should sometime:

1. Talk about it – rant, rave, let people know that you’re struggling. You’ll find that you’ll get a few more supporters in your plight.

2. Sleep when baby sleeps – if baby has a nap in the day, take this opportunity to sleep too. Jacob doesn’t usually sleep for more than an hour at a time, but it still helps. My problem is I have daytime insomnia – when I was in play school, the ladies would pat my bum to try to get me to sleep to no avail.

3. Don’t bite off more than you can chew – Don’t try to take on too many responsibilities. If there’s anything I do wrong, it’s not saying no to everything that people want me to do. But saying no will evidently give me more time to relax, and more time with my cute baby (so it’s not always a bad thing).

4. Eat an apple instead of having a coffee – if you need to wake up, don’t pump your body with caffeine! An apple’s great and it’ll prevent that caffeine crash you have later in the day.

5. Get someone to help out – don’t be afraid to delegate. I sometimes get Daniel to change Jacob in the middle of the night (which is usually a bonus for him, because that’s when Jacob is bright and gurgling).

Enjoy the rest of the day, everyone! 🙂