Things you should know before becoming a parent

I was looking at Alex and Caris playing together yesterday afternoon. They both suddenly look so big, so grown-up. The traces of baby-hood have all but disappeared from Alex’s face, and Caris is not too far behind him. It makes me sad to think that their baby days are over. They are growing up way too fast…

playing together

I have pretty much stopped buying baby magazines. Not because I know everything, but because the articles are becoming less and less appropriate now that my children are getting older. (And I think I’ve pretty much covered the breast-feeding / weaning / solid-food / potty-training cycle by now!) But I suddenly had this thought about how wonderful it would be to read one of those “things you wish someone had told you before you had a baby”  lists right now. I am clearly feeling sentimental.

So I decided to write my own list, and it goes something like  this:

  1.  You will be responsible for another human being. All day. Every day. For the rest of your life. It’s both overwhelming and liberating at the same time. It will be one of the greatest privileges you will ever have.
  2. You will be tired all the time. Very tired. But somehow you will make it through every day with a smile on your face as you tuck your babies into bed, and kiss them goodnight.
  3. You will have an empty feeling when your children are not physically with you. This will even apply if they are asleep in a different room less than ten meters away.
  4. You will feel heartbroken thinking about a time in the future when your children are no longer little. You will ache with every fibre of your being at the thought that one day they will leave you. And that time will come sooner than you think.
  5. You will not know what you did with your spare time before you had kids.
  6. You will have your buttons pushed, and your limits tested on a daily basis!
  7. Your priorities will change. Big time. Every decision you make will be underpinned by the fact that you now have children.
  8. You will experience what unconditional love really feels like.
  9. Your heart will burst with love when those deep dark grey eyes look into yours for the first time. This will be the happiest and scariest moment of your life.
  10. The mere thought of something happening to that tiny little being will leave you feeling paralyzed and unable to breathe. As will the thought of something happening to you.
  11. Your children will make you angrier than you have ever been in your life. But you will still love them. And you will forgive them.
  12. You will feel proud.
  13. It will break your heart when your child is hurt, sick or upset.
  14. You will struggle to imagine what your life was like before children.
  15. Hearing “I love you” come out of your child’s mouth for the first time will soften you in a way that nothing else ever can.
  16. You will change. Irrevocably.
  17. You will love with all of your heart and soul.
  18. You will play with Cars, Lego, baby dolls and the like, and you will colour-in with crayons! And the smile from your child will make it all worth it.
  19. And last, but not least, you will try to savour every moment, be it good or bad, because child-hood is just too damn short!

A (quick) Letter for Caris at 17 Months

Dear sweetie pie

I really haven’t given enough attention to you, my sweet little girl, on this blog, have I? And it’s not because I do not think about it often. I do. It’s just that I am constantly running out of time to do anything these days. I feel like the proverbial mouse on the treadmill going round and round and round and I am always in a rush, but I never really seem to getting anywhere. (This blog, in fact,  is a perfect example, I have over five draft posts lurking around; all the start of great ideas, fleeting thoughts that I have had, but have just never found the time to finish them off.  And now the moments seem to be lost, so they will probably remain just fleeting thoughts. But that is a post for another time!)

You are growing up so fast, and I cannot believe that you are already 17 months old. You have quietly been going about your business with hardly any trouble, and its almost as if you have suddenly stopped being a baby and become a little girl overnight. You are the epitome of cute, and just when I think you cannot possibly get any cuter, you do! You continue to be the-easiest-baby-in-the-world, for which I am very grateful! (Although you are showing some signs of a few impending tantrums when you don’t get your own way, but for now it is still very cute.) I did a double take when you pointed at the garden the other day and said “outside” without even batting an eyelid, and although my heart swelled with pride, I immediately felt guilt ridden for not spending enough time with you.

The second child somehow always manages to pull the short straw when it comes to one-on-one in the attention stakes. And I am sorry that I cannot always give you my undivided attention. One of my favourite things at the moment, is when you fetch a book from the book basket, and bring it to me to read to you. You bundle yourself into the nook of my arm, and squeel with delight as we page through it. I love the way you miaow and woof, and roar like a lion.  You are becoming more independant by the minute, and I savour these quiet moments with you, because I know that they will be gone before I know it.

I love you so much my little girl xx

The end of an era…

This weekend, we did a car-seat shuffle. Caris has been travelling along happily in her rear-facing baby seat up until now, but was starting to look a little bit squashed of late. Alex has been in a front-facing seat since he was a year old, and seeing as Caris is almost 14 months now, I decided to make the move this weekend. This meant buying a brand-spanking-new booster seat for my big boy, and handing over his old seat to Little Miss. (The poor second child is destined to get all the hand-me-downs!)

So after an expensive trip to the local Baby City, to purchase one of Maxi-Cosi’s finest, and consulting my “how to remove the car seat cover” degree so that I could wash Alex’s old seat, we now have two forward-facing little travellers. (Alex was somewhat reluctant to use his new chair, being a creature of habit and all. So in order to avoid a melt-down, we all made a huge fuss about how cool his new chair is, and what a big boy he is because he can use the real seatbelt. He now thinks his new chair is the best thing since sliced bread.)

But, it is not without some sadness that I made the swap. This effectively means that Alex really isn’t a toddler anymore, and has firmly crossed the chasm into big-boy-ville. And my baby girl is no longer my little tiny one. She seems to be getting bigger by the minute.

The old Peg-Perego has been washed and wrapped, soon to be given away or sold, leaving me with only my memories of the two little tiny babies who once occupied it’s safe nest.

One

Dear Caris

Wow. I cannot believe that a year has passed since you came into our lives (well, a year and 9 months or so, if you count the in-tummy time!) We celebrated your first birthday with family on Sunday, and you were the epitome of cuteness while opening your presents, eating cake and nik-naks (only because it was your birthday!) and just generallly being the most adorable one-year-old ever.

The year since you made your entrance, seems to have flown by, and I can hardly believe that my little squishy new-born is already a crawling, clapping, waving, chattering away endlessly toddler! And I have managed to get through a whole year of being a mom-of-two.

You are truly the happiest baby I have ever met, and nothing seems to faze you. You eat just about anything, you sleep like a champ, and you have the most happy and playful disposition I have ever witnessed. You go with the flow, and just fit in with everything we do. Even if that means being stuck in a pram or car chair.  You are happy to sit and play with your toys, or examine objects that you encounter very closely! You love being read to and will happily sit and look at picture books for ages  (before trying to eat them of course!) You love music, and love being sung to, and you do the cutest little bop when any music comes on. You love to lie in your cot and examine the embroidered bees on your cot bumper, and will happily do so for ages after you have woken up from a nap. You really are such a joy to all of us, and we love you to infinity and beyond.

I look forward to watching you grow, as each year passes, and I hope that you will always be my baby, even when you have babies of your own one day. I hope that we will always be friends, and that you will share your hopes and dreams with me. I wish you happiness in your life always, and that you will have the courage and strength to deal with anything that life throws at you. I hope that most of your days will be happy ones, and that heartbreaking moments will be very few. I just know that you will grow up to be beautiful, inside and out, and that you will be loving and wise. I hope that you will always follow your dreams, and that you will become whatever it is that you set out to become, whether that be a brain surgeon or a stay at home mom. Know that I will always be there for you my sweet baby girl. I love you always. Mom x

Happy birthday my little precious one. I love you so, so much!

 

edited: 6 June 2012 – check out “show me the party” on rattle and mum:

http://www.rattleandmum.co.za/2012/06/05/show-me-the-party-caris-1st-birthday-with-a-peter-rabbit-theme/

Are we feeding our kids crap?

I received this link :

(http://www.charlespoliquin.com/Lifestyle/StayHealthy/190/Protecting_Your_Child_Against_Processed_Food.aspx)

from my husband the other day (and see a copy of the article below), and it really made me think about the food I am giving my children. From when Alex was first weened on to solids, I always cooked my own baby food, and made sure that he didn’t eat chips and sweets and other processed food. (He was probably about two years old the first time he had crisps!) Despite this good start to eating, now that he is older, it is hard controlling what he eats. And he is one fussy little guy to boot, and refuses to eat just about everything. (Even his teacher tells me that he hardly eats any of the lunch at school, expect on the days they serve fish! At least he does eat the mid morning peanut-butter-on-brown-bread sandwich though.)

His staple diet consists of fish (in any form), peas, mealies, chicken, plain spaghetti, noodles with cheese, yoghurt, milk, eggy-bread, cheese sandwiches and bolognaise sauce (without spaghetti). He also loves chips with tomato sauce, which are not exactly health food, but are ok for an occassional treat at a restaurant, or a pizza that he can make himself. And from one day to the next he will suddenly think his favourite food is yucky. I try really hard to give him healthy snacks such as blue-berries and other fruit, raisins and nuts etc, but he is not always willing to eat them. Like any other 3 year old, however, he is more than willing to eat chips, sweets and chocolates, which we do allow him to have every now and again, but the ruling is “only after you have finished lunch / dinner”. I have started getting tough with him at dinner time, if he refuses to eat what I have made him, I tell him that he cannot have anything else and that he must not waste food. He typically eats the food eventually. (After a good old fashioned toddler-tantrum sometimes.)

Right now, Caris is willing to eat anything, and once again I make all her baby food, having bought a few “meals for babies and toddlers” type recipe books. So I will try very hard to make sure that she doesn’t eat any rubbish just yet. It amazes me that some moms give their six month old babies flings and cheese curls. Yes, they are easy to eat and all kids love them, but they really are full of salt, fat and preservatives. (Ok, I realise that sounds judgemental, but by the same token, I am horrified that some parents allow their toddlers to stand on the front seat of the car while they are driving, with their own seat belt on nonetheless!) And I know that it is sometimes easier to give your child something easy for a snack or lunch and not have to put up with their refusal to eat “real food”, but it should really be the exception and not the norm.

Although Alex’s diet is not perfect, he has never even been into a McDonald’s or a Wimpy or the like, and it is unlikely that he will in the near future. (Until he starts getting invited to parties at said establishments, but hopefully that is a long time away still.) So, for now, I will try and keep the food he eats as healthy as possible. Everything in moderation is key. I do not believe in banning sweets and chips etc, as that often creates a situation where your child ends up eating those things behind your back anywway. It is hard, but as the old saying goes, “healthy body, healthy mind!”

Protecting Your Child Against Processed Food
by Charles Poliquin

Source : http://www.charlespoliquin.com/Lifestyle/StayHealthy/190/Protecting_Your_Child_Against_Processed_Food.aspx

Comedians often joke that most children’s cereal is so bad that it would be healthier to eat the box. They are not far off – but it’s no joke.
Obviously I’m not suggesting you have your kids eat cardboard, but the present state of food processing is creating outrageous health problems for young people today. Approximately 25 percent of American children are overweight; of those, 11 percent are obese; and of those, two thirds are expected to remain obese in adulthood. Obesity is linked to many health problems, especially diabetes and cardiovascular disease. If this trend continues, a third of the children born in the US today will develop diabetes and the majority of them will not live as long as their parents. Similar disturbing statistics are being seen in European countries.
Many fitness gurus and medical organizations have blamed the excess consumption of high-fat foods as the major problem. Not true. According to the US Department of Agriculture, between 1971 and 1997 the consumption of saturated fat decreased from 53 grams a day to 50 (and protein consumption remained unchanged). In fact, a study published in the 2010 June issue of Circulation found no association between heart disease and the consumption of red meat. Fat is not the problem.
Cause #1: Processed Carbs Although fat and protein consumption cannot be blamed for obesity in recent years, what did happen was an increase in calories. Between 1982 and 1993, the average daily calorie intake increased by 500 calories, and remained so through 1997. But the kicker is that about 90 percent of those additional calories came from carbohydrates, and most of those carbs were processed carbs. It’s not just processed carbs that are the problem, as the same study in Circulation found that eating processed meats increased the risk of heart disease by 42 percent.
One characteristic of processed carbs is that they adversely affect blood sugar levels. If you start your children’s day with a breakfast of pancakes smothered with processed syrup washed down with processed orange juice, such a combination will cause a rapid rise in blood sugar and will result in your kids bouncing off the walls. This will soon be followed by a release of the hormone insulin, which will create a sudden and prolonged drop in blood sugar that will in turn cause your children to turn into walking zombies who will crave even more carbs to raise their blood sugar. (For ideas on how to prepare a healthy breakfast, please read The Poliquin Meat and Nuts Breakfast.)
One way to avoid feeding your family processed foods is to follow the diet used by the Paleolithic people – lean meats, seafood, fresh fruits and vegetables – over the types of diets that became dominant after the Agricultural Revolution. One of my favorite mottos that describes the Paleo Diet is “If it doesn’t fly, swim, walk or isn’t green – don’t eat it!” To learn more about this type of diet, I recommend Dr. Loren Cordain books, The Paleo Diet (2002, John Wiley & Sons) and The Paleo Answer: 7 Days to Lose Weight, Feel Great, Stay Young (John Wiley & Sons, December 2011).
Besides refined carbs, there is another type of processing that you need to avoid feeding your kids. Its deadly initials are GMO.
Cause #2: GMOs GMO stands for genetically engineered organism. It is created by taking the genes of one species and inserting them into the DNA of a food or animal to introduce a new trait. As an analogy, think of the plot of the Resident Evil movies, but using plants rather than humans.
For example, inserting a soil bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis into plants makes these plants toxic to insects, such that if they try to eat the plant, they will die. The result is higher crop yields. Another trait that can be engineered in plants is resistance to toxic herbicides – again, increasing crop yields. That’s the good news – the bad news is that GMOs, quite simply, are bad for you and your kids. Let’s look at some research.
In the 1990s Dr. Arpad Pusztai of the United Kingdom received a $3 million grant from his government to study GMOs. Pusztai found that when rats were fed genetically modified potatoes, the rats developed problems in the liver, brain and testicles – along with a compromised immune system and precancerous cell growth. But Pusztai is not the only scientist interested in the possible effects of GMOs on health.
In a study on GMOs that was published in the International Journal of Biological Sciences, researchers found that rats that had been fed genetically modified corn developed disorders of the liver, kidney, heart, adrenal glands and spleen. Likewise, in a Russian study, female rats were fed either genetically engineered soy flour or non-genetically engineered soy flour before, during and after gestating their young. Nine percent of the rats that were fed non-genetically modified soy flour died, compared to 55.6 percent of the GMO group. Of the GMO-fed rats that survived, 36 percent were underweight, compared to 6.7 percent underweight rats in the control group. As for larger animals, in 2008 a farm allowed 13 buffalo to graze on genetically engineered cotton plants, and all 13 animals died within three days.
Have you noticed, or perhaps read about the increases in allergies in the US and other countries? For example, between 1997 and 2008, the number of peanut allergies in children tripled; and from 1997 to 2002, emergency room visits for allergies doubled! One reason could be the consumption of GMOs.
There are many reasons to suspect GMOs for the increase in allergies because their modified proteins possess properties of known allergens, and because genetically modified crops have residues of toxic herbicides that can cause allergic reactions. It has also been found that genetically modified soy products can decrease the amount of digestive enzymes in the body. These enzymes affect the body’s ability to break down proteins, and this can cause allergic reactions to foods. Further, it’s been found that, across the board, foods that are genetically modified have lower nutritional quality than non-GMO foods.
Because the government considers GMOs safe, the US doesn’t require informing consumers if foods contain GMOs. This is a serious problem, as an estimated 70 percent of the foods on supermarket shelves contain GMOs. Among the products containing GMOs are soy, corn, canola and cottonseed oil, sugar beets, Hawaiian papaya, zucchini and crookneck squash.
To help you identify and avoid GMOs in foods, you can download a free guidebook from www.responsibletechnology.org. You can also start buying organic foods, looking for products that say they are non-GMO, consulting a non-GMO shopping guide and avoiding foods that are likely to contain GMOs.
Feeding the world is a problem that needs to be addressed by all world leaders. There are many solutions proposed, but one thing is for certain: Processed foods and genetically modified foods should not be the future of food.
© 2012 Poliqui

Blue Eyed Girl

Image

Blue eyes
Baby’s got blue eyes
Like a clear blue sky
Watching over me
Blue eyes
I love blue eyes
When I’m by her side
Where I long to be
-Elton John (lyrics Gary Osborne)

Already, my poor baby girl is suffering from second child syndrome. I haven’t printed a single photograph, let alone started her baby album or memory book. (But I have taken thousands of photos!) By the time Alex was 8 months old, his baby scrapbook was well populated, as I made time at night to cut and paste and embellish it with pretty things. Part laziness, and part lack of time has lead to this sad state of affairs. Having two children certainly does place extra pressure on my already stretched time management skills! So this is an attempt to play catch up, and get my ass into gear, before I get too far behind…

My Darling Caris

Baby girl, you will be eight months old in 5 days time. I cannot believe that the time has passed so quickly, but then again, even my pregnancy with you seemed to fly by. I had an easy pregnancy with you, other than the first 16 weeks of really horrible nausea and vomiting. I was thrilled to find out that you were a girl! Having a second baby, for me, was such a breeze compared to the first. I didn’t have that feeling of panic when we left the hospital for the first time, wondering “How on earth am I going to do this?” as I had done it before. I wasn’t scared to bath you or dress you, or hold you. Breastfeeding was easier, you latched on easily, and it didn’t hurt nearly as much as it did the first time round. (And we could get through a feed in less than half an hour in the beginning, unlike what felt like hours with Alex!) You were calm and content from the moment you arrived, and I am so grateful and lucky to have you in my life. In the few weeks before you were born, I was worried that I wasn’t going to cope with having two children to care for, but you just fitted in right from the word go, and you were and still are a real pleasure to have around!

You were born at 09:42AM on Tuesday the 17th of May 2011 in the Sunninghill Hospital by Caesarean section.  You weighed 3.05KG, were 53cm long and had 9/10 on your apgar test. Your nose was so skew, as it was squashed flat because you had had one of your feet pressed up against it while in my tummy, but it soon straightened into your current beautiful little button nose! I was thrilled to meet you my baby girl when they put you on my chest all damp and warm, with a mop of dark hair and grey blue eyes, and I was already in love with you when you looked up at me so intensely.

When we brought you home for the first time, the house was a big mess, as we were in the throes of renovating the down-stairs bathrooms, and as is typical with builders, they were running horribly late. So I whisked you away upstairs to the safe (dust-free) sanctity of Mommy and Daddy’s bedroom.

In the first few weeks, you slept so much, I used to wonder if I would ever see what colour your eyes were! You would wake up to feed and then go straight back to wonderful dreamland. You didn’t struggle with tummy aches or wind, for which I am very grateful. You hardly ever cried, and there was nothing a cuddle couldn’t fix. The first time you really sobbed, was at your 8 week vaccinations, my heart broke for you as you cried real tears, and were inconsolable for the first time ever.

You first smiled at about 6 weeks old. The most gorgeous sight, a big gummy grin! And by 12 weeks, you were treating us to the cutest giggles. (Especially when you saw Alex, and you still think he is very funny!) You were sleeping though the night from about 3 months, and have done so ever since. We had a small wobbly when I gave you a dummy for the first time, because you kept waking up for it, but thankfully you are able to find it by yourself now.) By four months you could roll over from your tummy to your back, and also got your bottom two teeth. (Without much fussing, thank goodness.)  Rolling from back to tummy and sitting up by yourself were mastered by 6 and a half months, although you now prefer to sit up and watch the world go by and play with your toys, and don’t really like being on your tummy. You have 3 teeth coming out at the moment (top 2 front, and 3rd bottom one) and once again have had hardly any fussiness. (I am so very lucky and grateful to have such an easy baby!)

You are such a content, happy, smiley girl. You love being cuddled and tickled and when someone blows bubbles on your tummy. You love looking at things, and examining your toys while you turn them over and pass them from hand to hand. You love seeing yourself in the mirror. You smile when you see other babies! You love to twirl your feet at the ankles, it is the cutest thing ever. You have the tiniest feet, and the cutest little toes, which you love to bite, and which I love to bite too! You always smile when you see Mommy, Daddy and your brothers, especially Alex, whom you love to pieces. You love to squeal and sing, and will call out in a high-pitched screech when you want to get someone’s attention. You can say mama, baba, dada, goo, yee and the likes, and I can’t wait for your first “real” words, which I just know you are dying to say! You love babbling away and chatting to yourself in those adorable baby sounds. You have deep blue, beautiful eyes. You are my little cutie-pie, my sweetheart, my happy little bibi, and I am looking forward to watching you grow and learn, and continue to melt the hearts of everyone around you. I love you with all my heart.

xx Mom

Damn you, dummy!

About a month before going back to work, I decided to give Caris a dummy.

So what is wrong with that you may be wondering? Most moms give their little darlings a dummy from the moment they first arrive in the world. The problem is, I hate dummies. I don’t think they are cute, and I certainly don’t think that 4 or 5 year olds with dummies permanently in their mouths are cute. But before you judge me, I do believe that if they work for you and your baby, then that’s awesome, but I’m still not a fan. (They are called “pacifiers” for a reason, right?)

I tried to give Alex a dummy when he was a wee one, ‘cos that’s what everyone does, right? But he was not interested. He also wasn’t interested in drinking milk out of anything other than a boob, but that is an entirely different story. He wasn’t a fussy baby, so not having a dummy to pacify him wasn’t a problem, he was happy to be cuddled or rocked. And I was a happy camper; no nasty dummy to get rid of later. (One of my friends is still trying to get rid of her son’s dummy habit, and he’s four.)

So, to get back to the issue at hand, I gave Caris a dummy in an attempt to make the life of my child-minder easier when I went back to work. Just a little something to help her fall asleep etc. She was a very happy thumb-sucker. From tiny, she would put her little thumb in her mouth, and fall into sweet pleasant dreams, no rocking, no fussing. I would sometimes hear her stir in the middle of the night, and before I could even get out of bed to go to her, she would pop her thumb in her mouth and go back to sleep.

She didn’t want a dummy either in the early days, so I never pushed it. Up until a month ago. My little cherub has decided that she quite likes the dummy now: she smiles at it when she sees it, and grabs it and pops it into her mouth when it is within reach, and most importantly falls asleep with it. Mission accomplished. So you are probably still wondering what the problem is with that, other than my inherent dislike for the horrible things? But sadly my “sleep-easy” plan has backfired. IN A BIG WAY. She is waking up about 4 or 5 times at night wanting the blasted dummy. Gone are the days of my sweet thumb-sucking, self soothing baby. I am such a dumb(my)ass! (And I can just see myself having bargaining sessions with her at 3 or 4, to please give the dummy to the fairies in exchange for a Barbie / Dora / whatever flavour-of-the-month toy her little heart would desire. )