Seven Signs of Having a Little Boy Around

7-signs-of-having-a-little-boy Being a mom to a little boy is a special blessing. There is a special bond with my little man and the evidence of his boyhood is all over our house.  I thought I’d share a few ways he has been showing his maleness. If you’ve just found out you’re having a boy, or you already have one of these little wonders around, you’ll appreciate this.

cars-in-a-row 1. Cars and trucks all over. Nicky just loves cars. Even when he sees a car in a book he gets excited. He likes lining them up in rows. I had to laugh the other day when I saw a line of little cars across my handbag. Even though Nicky is sleeping right now his cars are very busy lined up in the lounge.

2. Mom has improved her knowledge of cars too. We read a lot of books about cars and trucks. I now know the proper names for various different types of vehicles and have started pointing them out when we are on the road e.g. “There’s a dump truck, Nicky!”

dirty-boy  3. Nicky loves dirt/mess. He likes to take his trucks outside too and throw dirt on them. He likes to take handfuls of dirt and give them to me as a present. He likes messing around in the kitchen, pouring water and getting lots on the floor. Which brings me to my next point:

toddler-in-puddle-of-water 4. He loves water too. Every time we backwash the pool a puddle is created in the driveway. Nicky loves to splash in this. He often lands up totally wet and when he’s had enough, cries for me to change him! Bath time is lots of fun too and many times we have to cut it short because he is throwing water out the bath.

toddler-standing-on-windowsill 5. Shows no fear of heights. Nicky loves to climb as much and as often as possible. He also likes to launch himself, naked (after bath time when we are on the bed) in various directions. The other night he hit himself square on the head on our bedside table. Yesterday instead of napping he decided to climb onto the window sill instead. I think that parenting an active boy is not for the faint of heart. You have to alert and also understand that the need for movement and exploration will always outweigh common sense for a toddler. Just make sure you are there to catch them.

6. Loves gadgets. Every boy loves his toys. The plastic cellphone is no replacement for my IPhone. I actually hardly use it anymore because of the tantrum it induces -if he sees it- because he wants to play with it. I let him use it on the car trip home sometimes with dad, since dad is sitting on his phone too. He loves the IPad too but that is hidden until I really need it. Nicky has also figured out that remotes make the TV go on and off and sometimes indicates to them in the hopes I will turn it on (not a chance, bud, until later this evening!)

7. We don’t do designer. I remember getting Nicky some cute skinny jeans and thinking they were so adorable and stylish. I think being a boy mom, you have to rethink clothes in terms of function, rather than appearance. Because we love dirt (see 3), water (see 4) and are constantly moving (see 5), clothes that are comfy and that will last are important. The skinny jeans actually hurt underneath his knees in the end. He wore holes in his pants during the crawling stage and I had to make patches. Nicky also loves painting and the apron can only protect so much. I think in the end as long as he is comfy (and dry) we’re doing well.

So… what else do you think distinguishes boys from girls at this age (nearly 2.5 years old) ?

World Prematurity Day: Catherine Shares Her Story and Encouragement

17 November is World Prematurity Day.

What better way to commemorate this day than to share a story of a mom who dealt with this situation, and hear what she says if you find yourself in a similar predicament.

Here is Catherine’s story:

catherine-and-kai Our little boy Kai was born on Saturday, 16 Nov, 1.8kg, 2 months premature, and rather a shock to us both! It was quite a dramatic entrance: I had already had pre-term labour at 28 weeks, which the doctors halted with medication, and I made a decision to stop work completely. All seemed to be fine with no sign of trouble for about 4 weeks. Then spontaneously, as I arrived at Hartebeespoort for a spa day with my girlfriends, my waters broke! A good friend, forgoing her pedicure, drove me the 1 1/2 hour trip back to Jhb, straight to the hospital (accompanied by strong contractions every five minutes en-route – ow!).  As I arrived I was checked and sent straight to theatre for a Caesarian Section for footling breech. Thankfully my husband made it on time to see the birth of our firstborn son!Little Kai spent 7 weeks in the fantastic neonatal unit, with drips, monitors, oxygen, under the UV lights for a few days, intravenous feeding, nasal-tube feeding, a scary infection that affected his bowel (but he did not require surgery, thank the Lord!) and eventually a transition to bottle-feeding.That time while he was in hospital was a really tough one for us – full of emotional ups and downs, me having to adjust to expressing breast milk for him (un-fun, not for the faint-hearted, sleep-depriving, annoying leaky boobs!!), moments of incredible close my-heart-is-full love as we did what limited kangaroo mother (and father!) care we could, milestones reached as we watched him become stronger and stronger, first sucking the bottle for 5 minutes before retiring, exhausted,  to being able to finish a full bottle on his own…!Eventually, on the 7th of January, we were allowed to take him home! Praise the Lord!

As we celebrated his first birthday yesterday, we remembered the tough start he had to life, and how grateful we are to all our friends and family for lifting little Kai up to our Lord in prayer. We truly believe it was God’s divine intervention that saved him from having to have surgery when his bowel took a turn for the worse.

 

Here is something she wrote to encourage others who have to go through this:

Dear Mommy of a preemie baby

You are about to go through a really rough time: your baby has come early, and he/she is now in ICU under the care of the nurses and paediatricians. He is getting the best care possible, you know that, but you want him home – you miss him, and things feel unfair, you feel unlucky. You have to spend separate time expressing milk and bonding with your baby, while normal moms of full-term babies would use their breastfeeding time as bonding time. You, on the other hand, have to schedule in MORE time and do these activities separately – expressing milk, and also going into the NICU to spend time with your baby. Never mind the time you have to set aside to travel back and forth between hospital and home.

Get a good breast pump, start early with it, and pump every three hours. 15-30 minutes each time should be sufficient. Your newborn night not be up to full feeds now, but when he is, you need to be ahead of his game by almost a full 24 hours – the reason being that at 11am the Milk Kitchen staff will prepare his feeds for the next 24 hours. It is much easier, and less strain on you and your partner, to do this than bring milk in for each feed, as your baby needs it. I found myself in the position of the latter, stressed, exhausted and demoralized.

If you’re having trouble with pumping, phone a lactation consultant. You might have to hire a hospital grade breast pump. Contact the Medela Agent (0117889172) for a good quality one.

Other tips to help you get better milk flow include using a double pump, massaging your breasts before pumping (massage out the lumps), use a hot microwave bean bag or hot water bottle on your breasts to get good milk flow, and drink a glass of water before and after pumping.

Expressing is exhausting. So eat well, and get as much sleep as you can in between expressing. Hopefully your partner can support you in this by washing and sterilizing the equipment for you, bringing you juice, tea or water and generally taking care of the rest of the household. Ask your extended family, some friends or your church group to provide freezer meals for you, and ask another friend to do the odd bit of grocery shopping, or to babysit your other children. You are going to be too exhausted to do any of it for yourself. Try not to take on other people’s jobs or roles, and don’t do their thinking for them. This will just stress you out even more. Each person must take responsibility for themselves and learn to think for themselves.

Don’t even think of going back to work during this time. You only have time to think of yourself and your baby. You don’t physically have the capacity to take on any more responsibility.

Don’t blame yourself. Whatever the reason, you are not responsible for your baby coming early. It just happens, and in 50% of cases they don’t know why.  Thank God that our NICUs are so brilliant nowadays that we can care for tiny babies born too soon.

Don’t be scared to ask for help, or to share your heart with trusted friends. Cry if you need to. If you’re finding it all a bit too much, go and see your gynae or counsellor.

Your little miracle is loved so much by our Heavenly Father, loved more than you could ever love him, so trust in God to carry him through.

 

***

Here are some key facts about prematurity: (according to WHO)

Every year, an estimated 15 million babies are born preterm (before 37 completed weeks of gestation), and this number is rising.

Preterm birth complications are the leading cause of death among children under 5 years of age, responsible for nearly 1 million deaths in 2013.

Three-quarters of them could be saved with current, cost-effective interventions.

The fact is that there is help: essential care during child birth and in the postnatal period for every mother and baby, antenatal steroid injections (given to pregnant women at risk of preterm labour and meeting set criteria to strengthen the babies’ lungs), kangaroo mother care (the baby is carried by the mother with skin-to-skin contact and frequent breastfeeding) and antibiotics to treat newborn infections.

Care does cost money, however, and the Newborns Groote Schuur Trust was established by a group of concerned doctors working at the hospital, where the neonatal unit regularly operates at well over capacity with more than 3,200 newborn premature babies being admitted annually. Professor Michael Harrison, who heads the Groote Schuur Neonatal Unit, says “the Unit needs to be upgraded if we are going to improve on current outcomes for those babies who are born as early as 26 weeks gestation, and at very low birth weights.” Groote Schuur Hospital has created more space by providing adjoining space on the same floor for the unit to be expanded, but expansion and upgrading costs are estimated at approximately R26M.

So what can you do?
world-prem-day  -Wear Purple for Preemies Day and buy a Purple for Preemies sticker for R10 from any Naartjie, KidsRUs or Hirsch store.

-Donate at: www. newborns.org.za

If you live in Cape Town you can support the Groote Schuur Hospital:
 -Knit-a-thon commences from 07h00 – 14h00 in Hospital Street in the New
Main Building at Groote Schuur Hospital. Handover of knitted items to the NICU by Wayde v Niekerk – SA 400m record holder born premature.
 -Purple hair-spraying at Groote Schuur Hospital 11h00-14h00 in Tafelberg meeting room, Hospital Street, New Main Building, Groote Schuur Hospital.

Share stories and support and see what fantastic prizes weare offering on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/newbornstrustSA and Twitter using the hashtag #PurpleforPreemies2014.

Nicky 29 Month Update

29-months-toddler-painting It’s been a while since I’ve done some Nicky news so I thought I’d update you all on how he is doing, bullet point style.

-Nicky seems to have moved to another level of being interested in everything around him, particularly in how things work, open and shut and function. He likes going into cupboards that previously have held no interest to him – e.g. the top shelves of my desk, pointing at my recipe books (I gave him the toddler recipe book to look at).

toddler-cutting-beans toddler-washing-dishes -When I’m cooking in the morning he seems more interested in what I am doing and wants to help. The other day I let him cut some beans with a blunt knife (he figured it was easier to break them with his fingers) and he even helps me wash dishes. Okay, he is just splashing around, standing on his table, but at least he feels included.

- playdough Otherwise we have a little craft table happening. We have some playdough and transport cookie cutters. Of course he doesn’t cut the shapes with the cutters – he lines them up like he does with all his cars and the playdough lands up inside various objects.

toddler-painting -He also likes painting. We got a paint set of three colours from Wimpy and a hippo to paint. Well that hippo has been painted so many times now, in a real mixture of colours. In this picture he was multitasking – eating breakfast at the same time.

-Nicky likes to dance. But it’s more of a galloping movement. So cute though. I put some music on in the kitchen too. At the Wimpy they have music videos (Spice Girls was on) and Nicky decided to do a little dance for us.

-Potty training is continuing, but it’s more from my side. If I put him on the potty he will pee, but he won’t actively motion that he needs to go.

-He is still not sleeping through the night.  However it is making a huge difference to have him in his own room for the first part of the night, and then I join him there intermittently.

-After previously not being interested in books he now loves me to read to him. I also recognize it is a delaying tactic for sleep, but part of me is so happy he’s finally showing a love for reading.

-We still have our tantrums, but I guess they are par for the course especially when he hasn’t had enough sleep!

- toddler-takes-pic-of-his-car-with-pictago Nicky loves my phone and is taking his own pictures, even if they are of his foot. He also likes using the Pictago app and applying filters to pics of his cars.

-Nicky is a late talker. But his speech is improving and he is saying more things these days.

-Mama / Dada (the other day he actually said “Mommy”)

-We always say “Night, night Dad” and last night he actually said “Ni, ni”

-Still saying “Ai!” for bye but he can say “bye” and I even heard him say “hello” one time.

-“1,2,3 Go!” is still a favourite but these days he will often just say “Two, Go, Yay!”

-He knows exactly what I’m saying and when questioned can point to pictures e.g. of the duck, cat etc. He will start having a tantrum if I warn him I am going to “make a noise” i.e. use the food processor to make cauli mash.

-Phrases that he uses are “What’s that?” and “I want that!” I guess he uses basic stuff that he needs!

In conclusion, a little super star that continues to bring me lots of joy!

A Lesson in Service: How Daily Dish Turned a Bad Taste into Something Delicious

daily-dish-review I have to hand it to Daily Dish. Every week they put together new recipes for four days, pack up the exact measured ingredients in boxes for three categories (classic, low carb and vegetarian) and deliver it to their customers every Monday. What could go wrong? A lot, I’m sure, if I was doing it. I would probably forget an item or two, but I can’t fault them on that. The problem I experienced was with the late delivery of the food, but the way it was handled gave me faith that in fact customer service does exist out there.

But let me start at the beginning. I have been aware of Daily Dish for some time. I have been reading about it on other blogs. On finding they had a low carb menu, I was really interested. I started printing their recipes. The problem I have mentioned before about this low carb kick we are on is that the meals from The Real Meal Revolution take forever. I’m not knocking the freshness and the need to prepare quality, I’m just looking for alternatives to putting food in the oven for two hours etc. In any case, I have been entering competitions and was absolutely thrilled to win at You, Baby and I. Not only would I get to sample their food, but it would put a significant dent in my food shopping. Win-win!

The Monday I was expecting delivery of the food turned out to be a bit hectic. I am normally at home, but as it happened, I landed up needing to go into work (for my phoning job) which meant that someone needed to be at home to collect the food. I arranged for my maid to be there, although it was not her normal day to come.

When I arrived back I was very surprised to hear that the food had not arrived, especially since I had received an email saying it would be there between 8am and 1pm. It was now around 12. I picked up the phone just before one and phoned Diane de Villiers at Daily Dish. She immediately said she would find out what was happening and call back.

It turned out that they were using a new guy with a new van (so as to improve the quality – refrigerated) and were experiencing some teething problems. He was not aware that I was on the list for the morning and thought I was for the afternoon. She said the food was on the way.

So I waited. And waited.

After Nicky had had his nap it was now around 3/4 and I was needing to drop the maid off. But I was still waiting for the food. So I phoned again. Again, Di was apologetic and I was put in touch with the driver, who said he was in Pretoria. I said I was just going to drop the maid and would be right back.

I got back and waited again. And waited.

By this time I was thinking about picking up hubby from work but of course I was still waiting for the food.

When I phoned Di again she was a super star. She firstly offered to pay for take away supper but to be honest I was not that keen on that. I wanted my healthy food, dammit! She then offered to give us another week of food. Bonus! I was thrilled!

Well, that driver finally pitched up at… wait for it… five to eight at night. By that stage I wasn’t even interested in his stories. I just wanted to grab the food and go fetch hubby so that we could get our take aways, which I hadn’t wanted in the first place, but there we are. Nicky also had a late night, but that was unavoidable.

However, I think it is worth noticing how Di handled this situation and that it can be a lesson to some other people in customer services out there (I’m particularly thinking of some useless cellphone call centres)

1) Polite and efficient: She listened carefully, found out what the problem was and got back to me immediately each time I phoned.

2) She offered a solution: She gave me options on how to make up for the loss.

3) She reworked the problem: The driver worked out a better route and the next week my food was delivered at a quarter to nine. That impressed me.

 

Well, enough about that. Let’s get on to the food.

nicky-in-box Oh and Nicky liked the box. You can see him climbing into it.

I had the Low Carb menu. These are some of my findings.

1) The two weeks seemed to follow a pattern of 1x chicken, 1x pork, 1x vegetarian and 1x other (one week bacon, other week mussels). However, looking at the next week I see there is 1x chicken, 1x fish, 1x bacon and 1x steak. (Next week really looks great and I’m now bummed I’m not getting it).

paprika-and-lime-chicken lemon-garlic-chicken-spicy-cauliflower 2)The chicken recipes are the ones I found most useful in that I will be cooking them again. The one I cooked on Friday was Paprika and Lime Chicken with Garlic Mushrooms. I like the way the food comes out really tasty. I just decided to substitute the beans for a packet of mixed veg. Hubby loves mushrooms so of course that is a winner. I also liked Lemon Garlic Chicken with Spicy Cauliflower - tasty hot cauliflower which you could dip into a salad of yoghurt and grated cucumber.

roast-root-and-feta aubergine-stack 3) We aren’t vegetarians and didn’t really go for those. The first vegetarian one was okay (it had sweet potato in) (Roast Root and Feta) and I added some of my own chicken, so that was fine. The next week when they did an aubergine stack it was not great. I’m sure it’s very healthy but I don’t really like aubergines.

green-curry-pork-stir-fry courgettes-mussel-salad 4)  I would say the meals took just over an hour on average to prepare. The first one I did (Green Curry Pork Stir Fry) as you can see has a lot of vegetable preparation. It took me two hours but that was because of CTI (Constant Toddler Interruption). Nicky was standing on his table by the sink insisting I give him more water to play with every five seconds or so! By the way that one was fab – I liked all those vegetables. The quickest one really did take half an hour and that was the Courgette and Smoked Mussel Salad (did not have to cook although I did have to peel the courgettes).

5) I noticed how they packed the food so that it would last better. The meat is vacuum packed. The cauliflower has leaves around it and looks better than most I buy. (And I know. That is what low carbers do when you can’t do potato).

6) The food is really tasty and comes with little plastic sachets of spices all measured out. There’s no bland on the menu here.

7) I learned new things and tried some fresh cooking skills. I made cauli rice for the first time. I also tried new tastes.

cheese-and-bacon-butternut 8) My favourite was the Cheese n Bacon Topped Butternut. I just really liked the taste. I think this would also make a nice lunch. Butternut is such a warming, comforting food as well.

In conclusion I would say you won’t regret it if you try out Daily Dish. The nice thing is that you can do a week and then press pause until you want to do it again.

Do yourself a favour and at least take a look at their recipes. I know I will be!

And if anything goes wrong you can trust Di to put it to rights. Nothing like all those ingredients delivered to your door to make it all better.

 

Pumpkin Fritters and Crunchies with Oats and Pronutro

Around here in South Africa we don’t really celebrate Halloween much. We certainly don’t dress up and go door to door. However the shopping centre down the road certainly is doing their best to have trick or treating between shops, dress up competitions and events. We do get touched by the American culture on a lot of levels.

In any event, Merle from Jozi Kids asked me to do something for Halloween: a recipe or a craft or something. I eventually remembered that my mom used to make these fantastic pumpkin fritters when I was a child. So I sent her that recipe.

At the same time I am also adding in the recipe for crunchies. Both from my dearest mother. Thank you Mommy! :)

So, without further ado, here are the two recipes:

pumpkin-fritters PUMPKIN FRITTERS:

Ingredients:

500g pumpkin (pre-cut in one of those packets is easier, but you can also use a quarter pumpkin like I did this time)

2 eggs

1 cup Flour

1 T sugar

½ t cinnamon (and some more for sprinkling over later).

1 t baking powder

Oil for frying

 

  1. steamed-pumpkin Steam the pumpkin, drain off as much water as you can and mash it.
  2. Beat the eggs and add them.
  3. Add the flour, sugar, cinnamon and baking powder.
  4. fritters-frying-in-pan Fry desert spoonfuls of the mixture in shallow oil.
  5. They are ready to turn when you see little bubbles forming.
  6. fritters-on-paper-towel Drain on paper towels.
  7. Shake some cinnamon over them.

 

crunchies-with-oats-and-pronutro CRUNCHIES:

This is a great recipe for those with kids who

  1. -Won’t eat breakfast (my mom made this for me for that reason)
  2. -Are addicted to biscuits (my child is)

 

 

Ingredients:

  1.  ½ cup sugar
  2. 1 dessert spoon syrup
  3. 1 T boiling water
  4. 1 cup oats
  5. 1 egg
  6. 1 cup flour
  7. 1 cup Pronutro
  8. 1 t bicarbonate of soda
  9. 125g marge
  1. crunchies-on-plate Melt the marge and add the sugar and syrup.
  2. In a separate cup, dissolve the bicarb in the boiling water.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the Pronutro, oats and flour.
  4. Combine all ingredients and the egg.
  5. Press in a pan and bake at 180 degrees for 15 minutes.

These recipes were originally published at JoziKids/ zaparents here and here.

Your New Baby Stroller: It Doesn’t Have to Break the Bank.

stroller-doesn't-have-to-break-the-bank One of the first things I did as a newly pregnant woman was to research big ticket items that I would need for the new baby. These items are the ones that you cannot expect friends and family to bring to the baby shower. Having a baby is an expensive business (just ask my husband who had to foot the hospital bill beyond what the medical aid paid) and strollers seem to be just another financial headache. You definitely need one for getting around (because until three or four they just don’t have the energy to walk like we do), but how are you going to afford it? In this post I will make a case for why you don’t have to have the newest, most expensive stroller to meet your and your child’s needs, and how you can choose the one that suits you.

The shop I did most of my research on at the time was Toys are Us / Reggies. This is because, if you are on Discovery Medical aid, they give you some vouchers to use at this store as part of their baby bag. Back in 2011 they gave vouchers for MacClaren (the lightweight/ umbrella stroller) and the super expensive Peg- Perego. (I have no problem if you do have the bucks and want to go that route, many people do. But this post is about saving money).

In the end I got lucky and one of the moms that worked at our school gave me a second hand one for free. It is a Graco, very similar to the one on the back of the latest Living and Loving magazine (Ok it’s a lot older version, but who cares?) What I really like about it is that it has loads of space in the bottom for stuff (great for nappy bag and shopping) as well as a shelf on top (which is great for when I am walking for keys, cellphone and water bottle). It was part of a travel system originally, but since the car seat was covered in mould, I decided to buy a new one instead.

We took off all the material and washed it thoroughly before our baby arrived.

8-weeks-in-stroller

Nicky-and-elephant As you can see in this picture, when he was just eight weeks old, the little mite is a little bump in this huge stroller. At two years old now, he is filling it out.

I think this stroller worked out well for us, the only negative thing I will say about it is that you have to pull another lever lower down for it to fold since the one side doesn’t work from the top (not such a big deal) and that a jogger stroller would have worked better for walks. This stroller handles concrete much better than ground. Otherwise I’m happy.

 

How to choose your stroller:

  1. Think about where you will be going in your stroller. If you like walking a lot you might want to get a jogger. If you’re only going to be using it for the mall, then a standard one will do.
  2. Are you going to be holding onto a toddler at the same time? You might want to look at one that folds with one hand, or even consider a double stroller.
  3. What is your stance on clip on car seats? It may be more convenient to transfer babe from the car to the stroller while he or she is still sleeping, but it also may keep them in the same position unnecessarily for too long, which isn’t great for their development. You can choose whether to go with the normal travel system or frame to clip the car seat in. On the positive side a newborn will be more secure in a car seat – you can see Nicky was way too small for the stroller as a little babe. That’s actually a time for baby wearing.
  4. What accessories do you need? A tray to put keys, phone, drink / bottle? A compartment underneath for a nappy bag? Bear in mind that some of these can be purchased separately as well.
  5. Do you need shade? Will you be using the stroller outside much? Check if there is a cover. Some strollers even come with a rain cover too.
  6. Which way do you want baby to face? Most normal strollers have your baby facing outwards, but some are reversible so that they can be parent facing. There is some debate about whether it’s better to have your child face you or not (for bonding and speech development), but you might want to have that option open.
  7. What is your budget? If money is no object, you might want to go fancy like Peg Perego or Stokke. If you’re keen to keep expenses down, you may want to use second hand sites like Gumtree (and at the same time you may even find fancy at a better price).

 

Now that you’ve narrowed down your needs, let’s look at some categories available and some possible price options. Prices were researched on 26 October 2014. You may want to make up your own mind for retailers in store, as I find the internet can be fairly limiting, especially since certain shops do not advertise their prices online.

1. Standard stroller

(courtesy of Gumtree)

(courtesy of Gumtree)

 A stroller by itself is an option if you prefer not to attach your carseat. My stroller used to be a part of a travel system but in any event if you wanted to buy it by itself Gumtree had one for R350. On a search on Price Check I got R1699 from Guzzle.

 

 

2. Stroller frames  

clip in your car seat to make a stroller

(courtesy of Kalahari)

Another option is to use a frame to connect your existing car seat. I found one on Kalahari for R599.

 

 

 

3. Travel system

This is what most parents go for: a set of the stroller and car seat. Sometimes you get more attachments as well.

Here are a few brands I looked at:

  Chelino: On Gumtree they had one brand new in the box for R3895 and then other price ranges from R1495 to R650. Baby Fantasy had a few different types: Tazz (R1695) Novella (R2495) and Polo (R1595)

Graco travel system

(courtesy of Baby Group)

Graco: Various prices on Gumtree from R1800 to R650. At Baby Group I saw one for R2999 (pictured) and Baby Fantasy had one for R2895.

Stokke: Gumtree had a demo model for R22 000 and the lowest price I saw was R12000 for the travel set. I was unable to find retail prices – I guess this brand is definitely very exclusive.

Peg Perego: Prices on Gumtree that I saw included R3000 and R2200. On Baby Fantasy I saw R6895.

4. Umbrella / Lightweight strollers

(courtesy of Gumtree)

(courtesy of Gumtree)

This kind of stroller folds up easily if you have a small car boot and is much lighter than your traditional sized stroller.

On Gumtree I found a Babymoon one for R350 (pictured) and Maclaren for R950. I struggled to find these online and only found a Lite Way one for R899 from Bid or Buy (which also makes use of second hand items).

 

5. Joggers   

These strollers are ideal if you plan on walking with your little one over surfaces that are uneven. There seemed to be some disagreement online as to the advantages or disadvantages of having a movable front wheel, but it seems that it makes sense that a stationery one would not catch the bumps as much. On Gumtree there was a range from R3000 (pictured) to R350.

jogger stroller all terrain how to choose the best one

(courtesy of Gumtree)

I struggled to find new prices online. The closest I got was Kalahari who had a whole travel jogger set for R8999.

I then asked Karien, an SA mom blogger who blogs about running with her kids at Running the Race. She has a single stroller called a TFK Joggster 16” which is available from Sproutability for R8500. She has been using it for two and a half years, with a lot off road and it is still as good as new. She also has a double stroller (originally from Dreamer Design) which she got second hand. Her cousin uses a Thule Chariot Cougar from Active With Kids at R9599. Her only complaint is that the kids are not separate so they tend to pull each other’s hair and grab juice pouches!

Her advice for buying joggers would be:

“a) At least 16″ wheels.  It just makes pushing it so much easier.  (We put “permatube” in ours to prevent punctures – those can be quite a pain.

b) A fixed front wheel.  This does make steering a bit harder (you have to “push down” to turn it), but we do a lot of off-road running with both our jogging strollers, and a swivel wheel just shoots off in any and every direction every so often on the gravel.

c) Suspension.  Many of the cheaper and entry level models have no suspension, which means that poor baby flies through the air whenever you hit the slightest bump (even on tar).

There are, of course, also a number of strollers available that weren’t specifically made for running (i.e. they have teensy, tiny wheels, etc.), but are used for light jogging, power walking, etc. and work fine.  If you’re a serious runner, though, I’d recommend one of the above.”

 6. Double stroller    

If you are expecting twins, or a second child where the older one still needs a stroller, then this is for you. I found one on Gumtree for only R800. And the fancy Peg Perego (pictured) for R2000.

(courtesty of Gumtree)

(courtesty of Gumtree)

It looks like you pay more if the seats are next to each other, if these prices are anything to go by: For sitting side by side: Chelina – Kalahari R2950, Takealot R2969 and for sitting one behind the other: Kalahari R2250 and Takalot R1902.

There is even a company called “Double Trouble” but buying a stroller only from them would set you back R7300.

I’m sure I’ve probably overloaded you with stroller information and your head is in all likelihood exploding at this point. Perhaps it would help to go back to the basics: what do you really need it for and how much are you willing to spend? Once you have those ideas clear in your head, you might even buy a second stroller for a different need because second hand ones are always cheaper. After all, you don’t need to spend a fortune to look and feel fantastic as you travel along in your new ride.

What has been your experience with strollers? Please share your advice in the comments.

This post is sponsored by Gumtree.

Gradual Potty Training

we are taking potty training one step at a time I once made a comment to a friend that I would only consider potty training after I got Nicky off the boob and in his own room. One thing at a time and all. My big boy is in his own room but it looks like I will have him potty trained long before I have him off the boob. Life has a habit of rearranging my plans. But the “potty training” we are doing is a very gradual process. I can’t say I am one of those moms who do it in three days or two weeks – I think this going to be an ongoing lesson we are going to be doing as my son is ready for each step.

I have also assembled potty training gear as an on going project.

potty 1) My first item was this cute potty. I was in Ackermans returning random items and I saw it was only R20. This was still when he was a little baby. I love this potty because it has a bunny (me) and a bear (DH & Nicky) on it. Perfect for our family.

toilet-cover 2) I got the toilet seat cover and little step from West Pack. He used to use the step to climb on the bed but now he is able to pull himself up.

potty-book 3) This potty training book explains the whole story. I got it from Baby City but I think it is at a lot of bookshops as well. It explains how they bought the potty items and underpants and how big boys wear underpants and go on the potty. I like the way they also say how accidents happen and are okay.

 

How things have been progressing:

For a while I had noticed that every time Nicky got into the bath, he peed. This really annoyed me, especially since I have often mostly been sharing the bath with him, and have no desire to clean myself in his pee. So I started putting him on the potty straight after pulling off his pants before bath time. At first it was rather hit and miss, but now he normally pees every time. Sometimes he laughs and pees both in the potty and the bath (enjoying the experience of standing and peeing) but to me this is not so crucial as he is practicing for the adult man stance of relieving himself.

Encouraged by this one Friday when we were doing our shopping I got him some underpants. He loves cars so of course he loves those underpants. We read the book and I explained about the underpants. The next day he peed in his potty and slept in his underpants for his afternoon nap. But after that we kind of went backwards. I would ask if he wanted to use the potty with me and he said no.

Another thing I have been practicing is going to the toilet first thing in the morning. This way his night nappy and his morning nappy are often dry. But I can’t seem to catch him yet before he poops. He seems to have no problem in mounting his scooter with a nappy full of poop, shaking his head and waving his hand “Ai! Ai!” (Nicky’s way of saying “Bye!”) to indicate that I must go away.

I guess he is at heart a dirty little boy and this process is probably going to take a while…

I’d be curious to know if anyone else has followed this gradual approach, or it works better to do it later quickly?

 

Before You Leave The House: Eleven Items Moms Need In Their Cars

essentials for moms to have in their car Parenthood is a crazy ride and it becomes even more hectic when you go mobile. It helps to calm the frazzled nerves by at least being prepared and having the things that you need at hand. I have put together an essential list for mom’s taxi as she negotiates traffic and tantrums!

 

  1. Basic hardware: Make sure your spare tire is pumped and ready. For some reason I have been having such bad luck with flat tyres lately. I am spending my life at Tiger Wheel and Tyre. This should be accompanied by a jack, screwdriver and a spanner. Jumper cables would also be a good investment for that day when your battery dies. One of those reflective triangles would be great for breakdowns to make sure you are visible. Items like this can be bought at your nearest Automobile Association.
  2. Entertainment: You need a car radio to keep sane and be updated on the latest news. You can also have an IPad to keep them busy on long trips, and these days you can even get portable DVD players / headrest screens to set up in your car.
  3. Bag: toys / nappy bag. If your child is in nappies, you need to be prepared. Also have a change of clothes, hat, sunscreen and their favourite toy. We always travel with a little toy car which seems to calm Nicky down.
  4. Wet wipes: This may already be packed in the nappy bag but I’m putting it as a separate item because it’s that important, even with older kids. You never know when someone is going to make a mess that you need to clean up or get sticky fingers. Nicky always seems to have a dirty face that I forget to clean before we go out. Today he emptied the contents of his pouch all over someone else’s couch and thank goodness I had wet wipes.
  5. Water and food: I always have water in the nappy bag and also have a few biscuits in there. Pouches for toddlers also work well. Carry some energy bars for yourself as well. You never know when you are going to forget to pack your lunch, or if you would be stranded without food.
  6. First Aid Kit: This must contain a good supply of plasters. When I was teaching I eventually got my own stash because of the amount of times kids would cut themselves when working with scissors. (Scissors is another useful item by the way – for things getting caught).
  7. Umbrella: It may be the sunniest day, but you never know when rain is going to catch you unawares. Be prepared.
  8. Map: Ah yes, before we all had smartphones and GPS’s we had maps. You need to be ready for that day when your electronic equipment fails you. And of course it’s always good to see the bigger picture, rather than living moment by moment listening to some disembodied voice.
  9. Blankets: I often have to fetch my husband late at night, so I permanently keep a soft warm blanket for Nicky (along with a little pillow) so that if he falls asleep in the car seat he will be comfortable and warm. If you travel often in cold situations, you might want to get a Mylar space blanket to prevent hypothermia.
  10. A Torch: If you get stranded, your cellphone may not be strong enough. Make the torch last longer by removing the batteries and placing them in Ziploc bags.
  11. Finally – look your best with a beauty touch up bag. Lipstick never lasts and it is good to have a backup. You can even get fold up brushes these days that are attached to mirrors. I used to have one in my bag. Concealer is also great for those days when you have a pimple that won’t budge. If you wear heels a lot you may want to think about packing a spare pair of flats in the car.

Oh… and don’t forget the kid, either!

As you can see, a lot of these items are there in the event of bad things happening. You never know when your car is going to let you down and it’s best to be prepared. I make sure my car insurance is paid every month. If you don’t have insurance, you’d better make a plan, and you can even receive an online quote these days. Having insurance is probably the most important item on your list – so make sure that you are covered.

We want to survive a breakdown, but we also want to survive whatever our kids throw at us. I’d be interested to know: what would be on your list of car essentials? Let me know in the comments.

 Written in collaboration with First For Women.

Who Needs Exercise When You Have a Toddler?

toddlers-give-mom-exercise Running after a toddler all day long is actually good exercise. I’ve come up with a list of how Nicky keeps me in shape, and I’m not even including the Tuesday afternoon walk where I push him around in a stroller. In fact the ways that he keeps me active are never ending.

1) Weight Lifting

Anyone who has a young child will know there are frequent clingy moments when you have to hold them or else the crying / tantruming will not stop. I have made entire meals with Nicky on my hip, although now I’ve cottoned on to actually putting him on the surface where I am working so he can watch me chop vegetables. Every time you have to cross a busy road: up he goes.

There was one time that Nicky used to drive his bike around the garden until  he got to the gate separating the front and back gardens. He would stand there grunting until I lifted him over. You might ask why I didn’t just undo the plastic string keeping the thing closed, but it would be such a mission to keep on doing that, and the chances of me forgetting and the dogs getting out was so on top of my mind, that I chose the heavy lifting instead. Even more fun was walking all the way around to meet him on the other side.

2) Constant back and forth of miscellaneous help all day long.

There you are are. Busy cooking, doing dishes or tying to sneak a task on the computer. Next thing you know there is that demanding grunt again. This grunt normally means one of the following:

-I can’t reach my car.

-I dropped my car(s) behind the couch / bed / other big object and I need you to move it so that I can get it.

-I’m stuck on the IPad/ phone.

-I need a biscuit. I only want a biscuit. No healthy fruit. Only biscuits will do.

etc etc etc

3. Resistance training:

Pushing a two year old around in a stroller can work those muscles. But another one of those demanding grunts next to his push tricycle means “Push me around in this thing until you can’t anymore.” If you have been dumb enough to leave the stroller around without packing it away you run the risk of him asking to be pushed around in that too. Yesterday evening I pushed him in his tricycle for half an hour before his bed time around the house. I counted those minutes down.

kicking-toddler.jpg 4. Sports:

Other than cars, Nicky really loves balls. Yesterday afternoon we kicked a ball back and forth for about an hour. He still takes a great deal of effort to place the ball in the perfect spot, do the deep concentrating breathing and then kick. He insists that I stand in a certain spot to kick back to him. I do sit sometimes too, though.

This is why I’m so happy when bedtime comes around. I love my child to bits and pieces, but he sure gives me a workout. At last: time for myself and time to crash.

 

 

A Prisoner of My Emotions (Sleep & Breastfeeding a Toddler Poem)

sleep-and-breastfeeding-toddler-poem In the early hours of the morning

When my entire body is craving sleep

Anger festers inside me like a boiling cauldron.

There is no winning here for me

Only a tired mother’s act of love

The only way for him to sleep is boob

And that means I cannot sleep

I am numb

With every suck I feel my fertility shrinking

My second child fading away from me

The anger seeps though my body

So that my precious child feels it

And he cannot sleep either.

I waited for you so long

I treasure you so much

But sometimes I feel like a prisoner of breastfeeding.

Sometimes I wish

That I had used

A Dummy

A Taglet

A Bottle

Anything actually

Besides the boob that keeps me awake

I know he’s getting the warmth,

The nutrition

The comfort that he needs

But I am not.

In those early hours I see my options

1) Stop breastfeeding and use substitutes (which hasn’t worked)

2) Acceptance

And I already know my path.

But acceptance is hard.

For now, it is only distraction that is working for me

I think of blog posts

I think of our summer holiday ahead

I distract myself from myself

And finally I feel my breathing ease

The weight lift

And sleep comes to my babe.

It scares me how he reads me

In the daylight naptime

And when I put him to bed

I’m pretty good at acceptance.

 

But in those deep dark hours of the night

Where fears and anger live

I do cry a little

I love my child more than anything

But breastfeeding a two year old in the middle of the night

It

Is

Just

Hard.