The Trouble with Milo’s Ear and Vets

milos-ear-and-vets We interrupt the toddler news to give some attention to our furry friends.

Dogs are very special creatures. They give unconditional love and don’t ask for much in return.  Since Nicky has come along the dogs have stepped down in priority, but are still part of our lives. Coffee still sleeps on the master bed and receives a lot of attention since she is more of a social “in your face” kind of dog. Milo tends to keep to himself and will often hide under the desk during the day, more to stay out of Nicky’s way. We tend to forget that these two really were, in effect, as important as children before we had our long awaited boy.
Handsome german shepherd In any case, one day we noticed that Milo’s one ear was down, while the other remained pointy. It turned out that there was a lump in his ear.

We have been using the Fontainebleau vet down the road purely for convenience reasons as he is literally two blocks down in Republic Road and this works really well if you want to walk your dogs down there, as I have done in the past.

On this particular day, being a Friday shopping day, I drove him there, since we had rather a lot to do. The vet told me that basically it was blood that had collected in the lump and he would need an operation to drain it. It was caused by Milo shaking his head from side to side. Furthermore I would have to leave Milo there overnight, so that he could conduct the procedure early in the morning.

Nicky had come with me and we said good bye to Milo. I felt bad to leave him all alone there, but trusted that it was the right thing to do.

Early the next morning at about 6am I got a call to fetch him and Milo returned home. He had some stitches in his ear and pills for five days. I was told that he could get his stitches out the following Monday. We left Milo and went off to the Mama Magic show to meet Barney.

Later that day when we returned we noticed that Milo’s ear was swollen again. I tried to phone the vet without success both on that day and on Sunday. On Monday I got hold of him and he told me that the swelling was part of the healing process of the operation and not to worry. My gut was telling me that this was not so and that it was just the same problem reoccurring. But it also made sense to me to leave things for a bit since he had just had an operation and to launch into another one was probably a bad idea. Let the poor dog have some rest.

So “I let sleeping dogs lie”, as it were, and decided not to do anything until the following Monday, when he was due to have his stitches removed.

So began my fruitless quest to get hold of the vet.

I phoned him on his landline. No answer. The cellphone had a message. I actually drove there with Nicky and Milo (after dropping the shepherd’s costume off) and pounded on the door. There was also another cellphone number there which didn’t work either. There was a note on the door about being out on a home visit. But this same note remained there all day. Another lady drove up and spoke on her cellphone in the car but didn’t say anything to me. What else was I to do but return home?

The same problem on Tuesday. More phone calls and no answer. I left text and Whatsapp messages too.

By Wednesday I phoned him (fruitlessly) one more time and decided to officially give up. Maybe the guy decided to go on an early vacation. But he could at least answer his phone? I was angry because it wasn’t about me; it was about a dog in need, and ignoring my calls was hurting the dog more than anything. On the proceeding weekend his wound had opened up and it looked in bad shape.

So off I went to the vet on Malibongwe drive. This vet told me that Milo should not have had so few stitches and would would need another operation to resolve the issue.  Sigh. After forking out a few grand to the previous guy, we were not happy to do so again. But what choice did we have?

This time at least Milo could come home and spend the night with us (his last meal was 10pm) before his operation the next morning.

milo-in-plastic-collar At least I felt like Milo was in more competent hands. The vet wanted to see him four days later and keep his stitches in for a longer period (like three weeks). He would also check him first before hand. This vet also provided a plastic collar to prevent Milo scratching on his wounds, a major difference compared to the last guy who did not bother with this.

milo's-ear Milo’s ear was now also totally shaved and full of stitches, which made sure that if he shook his head again the problem would be stopped. There was also apparently a big infection inside the ear which was dealt with. This time we had two kinds of pills and ear ointment.

All in all we were happy that Milo was taken care of.  Three days later and the ear is healing, while with the first operation there were complications on the first day.

We were just upset that we had to do the whole thing twice. And pay twice too.

Well, at least we live and learn.

It just reminds me of my infertility story and going to all the wrong doctors before hitting on the right one. At least we found the right one for Milo within a week instead of the years it took me. :)

My little shepherd

my-little-shepherd When our church needed nativity cuties for their carol service, I was happy to put Nicky’s name down. He landed up being allocated to the role of a shepherd. We were very excited.

The first project was to find a costume. We found a tunic at Pirouette. It was a bit small and we had to wait for a larger size to come in, but once we tried on the second one, he was sorted. It also had a headband with a little scarf as a headdress.

We also got our hair cut at The Pear Tree again. This time by Lungi. My hair looked so fab after that blow dry. This time Nicky didn’t even cry during the cut, only for the blow dry.

 

throwing-sheep rehearsal-on-stage The rehearsal was a blast. The only problem was that Nicky was a bit too excited. I gave him a pet sheep as a prop and it got thrown around. Then when we got to the actual stage he thought the vibrations from the music were an invitation to start dancing.

Here is a video of Nicky getting down, you know, as shepherds do.

toddler-lighting-candle The night of the actual show we were in the audience with our picnic and candles. Nicky is fascinated with candles now with all the load shedding. He loves to blow them out. Repeatedly. So you have to keep lighting so he can keep blowing. We had a marathon session of leaning over to get B’s light so he could blow it out again. Eventually I was glad that he was interested in keeping his candle lit and I showed him how to play with the wax.

2014-12-07 19.31.36 The second half of the service was time for the nativity scene. I sat with him until they called for the shepherds. Up he went with the two other shepherds and the angels. After that he sat on the stage for the rest between other kids quite happily.

At the end they got to use some tambourines for the final two songs and Nicky enjoyed shaking and making a noise.

2014-12-07 20.05.20 By this time it was after eight and our little shepherd was extremely tired. It was home for bedtime.

 

***

Other random news.

-He was also tired because we have a new trampoline which is lots of fun and great for using up energy.

-It is super hot! We swam as well.

load-shedding -Load shedding. What can I say? We are getting prepared now with our candles. I’ve luckily prepared the food at the right time, so I’ve been okay so far. Wax can really drip over everything – I just need to make sure I put them on things that protect surfaces.  I

-I seem to be a bit battered and bruised lately. I hurt my arm on Monday and then on Thursday I tripped over the dog and hurt my left toe. After struggling with two different shoes I got some groovy slops until the swelling calms down.

-Otherwise I am feeling the summer holidays. Even though we are not going away I am looking forward to having B at home and having more time to do cool stuff.

We met Barney today! (Thanks @SharonVW @MamaMagicSA)

barney These days I seem to be very lucky with winning competitions on blogs. I won a meet and greet with Barney through the Blessed Barrenness, Sharon van Wyk.

I’ve actually been keen to go to the Mama Magic Show just to check out all the cool things for toddlers. This show is not just limited to babies, although there is a lot of baby stuff there, but also caters for kids right up till six.

The main drawcard of the the show, however, is that purple dinosaur. I mean, it even features on the logo. Kids love Barney. I remember when I was a teacher a four year old recited the whole theme tune to me. He is a friendly, caring dinosaur with lots of personality. What’s not to love?

I try not to let Nicky watch much TV but when Brett is working late I do put on CeeBeeBies. He really likes the bedtime hour and especially Teletubbies. We haven’t watched Barney in ages so I went on a bit of a mission this week to try and find the program. I found it on a channel called “Jim Jam” and also found Bob the Builder at the same time (Nicky loves those books). So eventually we did get to watch it a bit so as to remind him who Barney was. I was a bit nervous, remembering my teaching days when little kids do get scared of big monsters, so I wanted to do as much preparations as possible!

I need not have worried. When Barney came on stage Nicky was positively jumping up and down with excitement. (I think the Mama Magic crew were pretty good at building up the hype too). What I did find interesting, with this young audience, was although there were kids enthralled throughout, there were also a lot who lost interest soon, with that short concentration span at work. After a bit Nicky decided it would be more interesting to lie on the floor and also play with another kid who was dancing around.

Here is a video of Nicky clapping along to a Barney song:

And here he is hugging Dad while they listen to Barney sing “I love you”:

Afterwards we were lucky enough to meet Barney and have a photo taken with him. Definitely a moment to remember.

***

I just wanted to say a quick word about some of the nice things I saw at the show. I really wanted to take time and see everything but a number of events conspired against me to make the time really short (our dog having an operation at the vet that morning, Nicky having a bad night and needing to sleep in plus having another party to get to on the same day as well).

movable-cars-on-board As I walked in I saw some really cool toys from Toddler’s Warehouse which I knew I’d want a closer look at. Of course I had to ask if they had anything to do with cars (Nicky’s passion) and I got this super board with movable cars (Melissa and Doug brand). The cars don’t come off. They cannot be thrown or lost. Yay. The idea I had was to keep him occupied with this board while we waited for Barney. The board did not last long but I think it has potential once he is able to understand about where each one must go and how they are moved around. At the moment he was just wiggling and jiggling them, which of course was fun too.

The other item I bought was an insect balm from Oh-Lief. Nicky has really been having a problem with insect bites and I have been trying everything. I got something from Baby City that makes ultrasound waves that is meant to drive the insects away, and no luck. I have been putting on Peaceful Sleep – not helping either. Poor little dude is covered in bites under his arms, on his tummy and between his legs. I have smeared this stuff on after his bath and hope it does the trick. It smells nice, goes on like a cream, and it has citronella in it.

plate-with-cars The last item I didn’t buy but I really liked was a plate that had utensils like cars from creative eating. I think this is so brilliant for fussy eaters. Nicky liked it too. I am finding now a days that he is less fussy with food, although he still picks what he wants here and there, it isn’t like he isn’t eating at all anymore.

There were a lot more stalls and I wish I had time to fully investigate all of them!!!

Thank you Sharon and Mama Magic for a super experience. We really enjoyed ourselves.

 

The Problem with Blogging Competitions

Picture1  Like many other bloggers, I have been writing for some time. Through blogging I have unburdened my heart, made firm friends and doors have opened for me. I’m so gratified that the SA Mom blog community is so active and supportive of each other. There is so much to be grateful for. I am. Yet there is a part of me that also wants some external recognition for these moms writing their hearts out. And I fear that many of the blogging competitions are out of reach for so many.

Lately I feel like all the blogging competitions there are I either find out once they are over or when a person wants votes. Or they are totally out of my league. See that red button on my sidebar? Yip, I’d really appreciate it if you’d click on it and vote for me. It would be nice to win. Or even come in the top three. (Don’t forget to click on the confirm link in the email they send you. And you can only vote for one person in each category. So think hard.)

However, I guess I’m being realistic when I say that my chances are pretty slim. I don’t have thousands of followers on social media, or subscribers for that matter. Winning these kinds of competitions is a numbers game.

Not that I’m knocking those who do have the numbers. I do have respect for those who have worked hard to get that following. I do understand there are skills involved in growing your flock. I’m trying to do this myself, I’m just not there yet, and there are a lot of good writers out there that aren’t either.

The other issue with SA Blog Awards is that last year they just decided not to have a parenting category. What’s up with that? Mommy bloggers are a huge part of the blogging landscape, and just ignoring that category for a year is a bit of a slap in the face. This year, the category is back, and I encouraged all the moms in the Facebook group to enter, if nothing else to show that we are a force to be reckoned with.

***

So… what am I going to do about this?

I’m going to make my own blogging completion for the SA Mom bloggers. The criteria is going to be your writing, not how many numbers you have.

This is how it will work.

1) I will publish a linky on samomblogs.co.za where you can put your best post for 2014

2) I will choose the finalists (5-10, depending on quality)

3) SA Mom bloggers will vote for their favourite. Ok I need input here. I was thinking the Facebook group but then I guess no votes would be secret. I think maybe a form where you put your url as well of your blog to show you are a SA Mom blogger.

4) The winner will be the one with the most likes. If there is a tie, we will do the process again, choosing between them.

Now I just need a prize. I was thinking something to pamper yourself, like a Sorbet voucher or something. Or maybe just R500 cash? (Any offers?! Or suggestions?!)

I was thinking of doing the linky next week and hopefully have the finalists decided before people go away on the 16th so you can vote by then.

Ok what do you guys think?

 

 

It’s Movember: Testicular Cancer and Fertility

movember-testicular-cancer-and-fertility Infertility is hard enough without dealing with the added stress of cancer.

Movember is the month dedicated to testicular cancer.

I thought, in honour of this month, we’d take a look at some celebrities who have battled cancer and still managed to have children.

(courtesy of Don Gerda)

(courtesy of Don Gerda)

1) Scott Hamilton, figure skating champion, battled testicular cancer and had two kids.

 Scott reveals, “The fact that Aidan was born nine months and two days after Tracie and I were married was a shock. I was fortunate that the cancer and the chemo didn’t affect my ability to father a child.”

His second child was more of a problem, however. Scott had a tumour on his pituitary gland and had to have injections for testosterone.

He boasts that his two boys  “are the best thing that has ever happened to me. Both boys are miracles, considering my medical history.”

(courtesy of LiveStrong)

(courtesy of LiveStrong)

2) Before Lance Armstrong became a disgraced cyclist, he was a testicular cancer survivor.

Lance used sperm he had banked before chemotherapy to conceive children via IVF. He also conceived naturally ten years after it.

Cancer survivors had mixed responses to his admitting cheating during his cycling career.

Cnn user “jackiero” says:  “As an avid cyclist and a cancer survivor who used cycling to aid in my recovery, I am disgusted by this man,” jackiero wrote. “I threw away all my (Livestrong) gear not because I don’t support the cure — of course I do — but because I support the cure without the taint of a cheater like Armstrong. He was an inspiration until I learned that he was just like all the other chemically induced sports stars who rake in millions and millions.”

Armstrong’s cheating in cycling also hasn’t tarnished his image as a source of inspiration for Amy Wadsworth, who found out she had breast cancer at age 29.

She feels grateful for all that Armstrong has done for the cancer community, and appreciates that Livestrong had offered to help her pay for egg preservation because cancer and treatment for it could have impaired her fertility.

“I think we should accept his apology and move (on)because what he has done to help people with cancer definitely out weighs the ‘bad.’ He didn’t give up when he was (stared) in the face with cancer,” Wadsworth said of Armstrong. “He kept going and encouraged many other survivors to the same.”

(courtesy of Hellomagazine.com)

(courtesy of Hellomagazine.com)

3) Guilana Rancic is my personal inspiration. (Ok I know she had breast cancer, not testicular cancer, but I have to add her in). Guilana underwent a few IVFs and on the last one discovered she had breast cancer. She basically had to stop her IVF cycle at the point of retrieving the embryos and go for cancer treatment. One of these embryos was given to a gestational carrier and her child, Duke, was born.

At the time of her diagnosis Guilana earned my respect by acknowledging some greater design in her life of this disease and the timing of the baby:  “I’m not gonna give up, I want that baby. And what’s amazing is that baby will have saved my life…Now I truly believe that God was looking out for me. Had I gotten pregnant [earlier], a few years down the line I could be a lot sicker.”

More information on testicular cancer and fertility:

-Testicular cancer is the most common cancer among men aged 20-34.

-Chemotherapy is a huge risk to fertility, but research shows that still 70% are still able to father children.

- If treatment does cause permanent infertility you need to have the opportunity of sperm banking before starting treatment.

- Sometimes the lymph glands in your abdomen need to be surgically removed, especially if they are still enlarged after radiotherapy or chemotherapy. This can affect your fertility because the operation can cause retrograde ejacularion. New techniques in surgery are helping to reduce this problem. It also has no effect on erections or orgasms.

-Chemotherapy may cause temporary infertility in most cases. With high doses, it may even not recover.

-The best thing you can do is see a recommended fertility specialist and have your fertility tested. This is one thing I regret about my own fertility journey, that I wasted time with gynaes instead of going to Medfem earlier. The experts can give you options.

-One thing I did do right was take lots of supplements. (You can read the post about vitamins I took for fertility here).

prelox -Men can take Prelox. You can also do this prior to sperm banking.

Benefits of Prelox include:

1) Increase in the anti oxidative capacity of plasma

2) Stimulates the activity of e-NOS (endothelial nitric oxide synthetase)

3) In combination with L-arginine Prelox increases e-NOS in spermatozoa.

4) An increase in spermatozoa NO (Nitric Oxide) increases sperm motility and human sperm capacitance.

- Be safe. Bank your sperm if you are about to have chemo. If your sperm is suitable you need to give 2 or 3 samples over a period of a few days. The samples are frozen and stored until you are 55. If you need them for future fertility treatments, they can be thawed and used.  You should have the option of counselling at the fertility clinic. A consent form will be signed. Blood tests can rule out any illnesses or infections such as HIV or hepatitis.

-On the other hand if your cancer is so life threatening that treatment needs to begin immediately, you may not have the option to delay it by sperm banking.

-Of course, like all infertility treatments, there are no guarantees, and that is the harsh reality of it. Some sperm will die when the sample is thawed. IVF doesn’t always work the first time. This makes it even more important to have a high quality sperm sample.

 

For further information on Prelox, please visit www.2tostartafamily.co.za

This post was sponsored by Prelox through MyScoop.

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.