What I've Learned This Week

In lieu of regular, in-depth blog posts for which I have no mental capacity nor can I manage to prioritise any time for, I give you my learnings for the week...

I've learned to pick my battles... and I was pleasantly surprised.
She was stoked that she could drink from a big glass, and I was stoked that she didn't
spill any of it nor smash the glass.

  • Blue crayon will come off the iPad screen using, funnily enough, iDevice screen cleaner. No toddler lives were lost in this ordeal.
  • I am exceptionally happy that I am a rule follower for iDevices and have screen protector film on all devices.
  • There are several books in my collection that I can no longer loan to anyone, after a tiny newborn made us all proud with projectile p-... you get the picture. The books are clean, but I'd still never loan them lest anyone comment on the colour of some of the pages.
  • A toddler wearing crocs and repeatedly climbing on you and sliding off not only hurts, but wears one's patience very quickly.
  • Doing endless loads of washing is not as tedious as I imagined. It turns out I quite enjoy hanging it out, bringing it in and folding it. Putting it away is not as fun, but I can get through it.
  • I still hate choosing what we're going to eat for dinner.
  • Pip's talent for awakening due to starvation as I pick up a utensil to eat remains uncanny and quite impressive.
  • If Millie doesn't eat her dinner, she goes to bed without dinner. She still sleeps through the night. Amazing.
  • If I do not eat, I do not feel hungry. Instead I feel depressed and teary. It took me a few days of "OH MY GOD I FEEL DEPRESSED AGAIN OH MY GOD." and then eating something and feeling sunny again. Rock on ridiculous blood sugar, rock on.
  • I can't wait for my iPad keyboard to arrive. I've written four draft posts and haven't got the energy to sit up at my desk and finish them. At least with the iPad keyboard I can finish them in bed, or on the couch, or on the deck. This is why my blog will never be as good as those who actually take the time and prioritise the blog above other things. Right now, priorities go Baby #2 and Baby #1, food, water, sleep, housework, The West Wing, sewing, blogging, returning phone calls. Oh man. Sorry, blogging, it's not you, it's me.
  • ABC2 is my friend. Scratch that, you're more than that. Without you, ABC2, I'd be lost.
  • Our deck is THE BUSINESS. We spend most sunny days out there, and it's totally childproof. No longer do I fear my children running on to the highway. Mr S has worked his cute bottom off and our yard is safe. Hoorah!
  • To pick my battles. Millie, you want to wear your swimmers in the lounge room at 6pm? Sure thing. Want to pick the unripe plums and play with them in the birdbath? Ok. Shall we make a pillow fort? Groovy. Want me to wrap you up swaddle style so you're not jealous of Pippa? Great, go get a blankie. (FYI, a toddler wrapped, burrito-style in a giant polar fleece Dora blanket is pretty darn cute. The Dora blanket is not cute, but that's another story.
  • I've learned that cloth nappying two kids isn't harder than one, so far. I've only used cloth with Pip a handful of times, and Millie is in cloth during the day aside from a certain time of the day, and at nighttimes. I'm doing 'nappy' loads every day anyway of Pippa towels and washers, so having nappies in as well is easy. 
  • I've just realised I can touch type this post with my eyes closed. Wonderful.
  • I'm trying to feel ok with the fact that Pippa will not usually go to sleep if you hold her. She'll doze then pop a sneaky eyelid open. But, pop that kid in her bed and walk away... she's sleeping before you reach the door. Weirdo.
  • The biggest thing I'm learning is that I'm ok. I'm doing ok. I've been keeping an eagle eye out for signs of anxiety, and so far, nothing out of the ordinary. I've been proactive this time and I have lists of things we can do, including Millie craft activities (by the way, most fun ever!) and friends to ring and chat to, places we can go once I'm driving again, meals we can eat. I also keep a standard daily routine of really basic stuff, like having a shower, washing on, breakfast, washing out, cutting up fruit for our snacks and veg for our dinner, etc etc. Inane, but it gets me through. At the close of the day, everyone is clothed, bathed, fed and watered. Job well done.

What have you learned this week?

So, you're having your SECOND baby. (not that long after your first)

One of my most popular posts on here is 'So... your friend's having a baby', along with 'Life with a newborn', and 'So YOU'RE having a baby'. And as our next little baby's due date approaches at a rapid rate, it made me think of what I'd give a friend having her second baby. Ergo, what would I like to be given, should people be kind enough to give us gifts this time.

Let's face it, there's not a lot a second baby needs. Unless you're into Big Ticket Items and buying a double pram for us... we've got enough clothes and things to last us through another four children. (No. Absolutely not.) And a second pregnancy is far less about *you* than your first was. For starters, there's no lazing on the couch demanding dinner and cups of tea when there's a toddler eating a newspaper in the corner. So, given that a second baby doesn't need a lot of *stuff*, Mums and Dads could use a bit of pampering.

My list thus far (for giving and receiving) would be:

  • A nice, new fluffy bath sheet for Mum, with a matching bath towel for baby. Hooded baby towels were great until Millie was about two months old... then they weren't quite big enough. A regular bath towel is a great size for a mini-me.

Pure Fiji Starfruit Body Butter.
Image from purefiji.com

  • Beautiful body moisturiser. My current obsession is Pure Fiji Star Fruit Body Butter. I got a sample one in my BellaBox in June, and Sarah was kind enough to post me her sample pot too. Once I run out of those two... yikes.
  • I know I spoke about Bodum insulated cups previously, and I have this set. However, after having one at work and constantly jostling piping hot tea over my hands whilst walking up the stairs, I've decided that ones with a handle would be beneficial. These ones look ace. While you're organising that, some fancy tea or coffee would be welcomed too. 
  • If you're the baking kind, a batch of frozen biscuit dough balls for the freezer is such a great idea. The beauty of these is that you can just pop as many on a tray as you'd like, and cook them for 5 minutes longer.
  • Always, always, a meal for the freezer is SO very wonderful. Another suggestion is that if your friend hasn't started a list already, grab any piece of paper nearby and catalogue their freezer for them. It makes the world of difference to be able to treat your freezer like a takeaway joint, at least for a few weeks.
  • While you're at it, a few large sized single serve frozen meals are a thoughtfully wonderful idea for the man of the family who still has to go to work every day. Both parents will be exceptionally sleep deprived, and if Mum doesn't have to think about dinner, and Dad doesn't have to think about lunch, they'll love you that little bit more.
  • New nail polish, with a bottle of nail polish remover, a nail file and some cotton pads. And, a note that you'll come and entertain the kiddlywinks whilst Mum has an hour to herself.
  • Garnier BB Cream. I was lucky enough to win two Garnier competitions last year (from Veggie Mama and Good Googs)and am only just working my way through the second tube of this miracle cream. It's like a great moisturiser, concealer and cover-all-my-sleep-deprivation-blotchy wonder cream. I knew it was marvellous when I had a mate I hadn't seen for a long time compliment me (honestly) on how great I looked. I'd been running on 4 hours of broken sleep for weeks. I vowed to only buy this cream forever more. And it's cheap! $13 per tube, and the first tube lasted me 8 months of everyday use.
  • It's left field, but a one month subscription to Bellabox would be a lovely treat for a Mum who might like to pamper herself but has a) no idea how (that's me!) b) no money to do so (also me!) or c) is aware that there's suddenly no time. Bellabox subscriptions are $15 per month, and come jam packed with personalised goodies. They are a generous mix of sample sized and full sized products. It's one of the highlights of my month!
  • Whilst not a lot of us are overjoyed with doing housework, an offer to run the vacuum around the house, and perhaps sweep and mop the floors would always be appreciated. Or put a load of washing on. Or put some washing away. Or all of the above. Then, leave. If there's a toddler running around, you could make them a sneaky vegemite sandwich too...
  • If you're popping by, a nice fresh loaf of bread with some lunch fixings is a great idea. So much of this is about food, but it's so true! With a newborn you're so preoccupied with the feeding and the changing and the OH MY GOD instant hunger that thinking of food in advance is difficult. And I imagine once there's a toddler as well... oh dear. This would be a great help.
  • You could offer to do the weekly shop for the family if they'd let you. I'd happily pack someone off to the supermarket with my shopping list and my bank card, so long as they didn't buy themselves too many extra blocks of chocolate.
  • If you'd like to buy things for the baby, think about the weather in six months time and gift something appropriate for the season, in a size 00-1. It's so nice once the dust settles to find it's cold/hot weather and that there's something nice and new for baby in the cupboard already.

What are your tips for helping care for a family with a second baby?

So... your friend's having a baby...

Yes, this is my mailbox.
This is the first in a series of posts about baby stuff. My sister & her husband are having their first baby and my friend's just announced her first pregnancy too, so I figured it was as good a time as any to lay out a few things for them.

We were so lucky to be surrounded by such generous friends before and after Millie was born. Since I was about 4 months pregnant friends would (and still do) turn up with buckets of clothes for us to sift through. I think I've passed on about 4-5 full garbage bags of clothes to friends and various charities. And Millie still has more clothes than we could ever wear out.

So I thought I'd write a list for my sister Salad and my friend Sarah, but in all honesty, this list is probably for you, potential gift buyer.

In my experience there's three kinds of gift buying for babies and their parents: Sensible things (plain white singlets, Wondersuits, vodka), The SO Useful But Highly Pricey So New Parents Can't Afford It (Wrap Me Ups, digital baby monitors, 1L Bombay Sapphire) and The Pricey But Lordy Me I'm Stoked You Bought It For Us (beautiful baby hats, a handmade blanket, good quality bibs, top shelf scotch).

Let's cover all three, shall we?

Sensible Things
My mother in law excels at purchasing within this category and most things she's purchased for us have been absolute workhorse items.

Size 0 Hoodie= Winter Coat.

  • Plain coloured singlets in a variety of sizes. I suggest from 000-1. The bigger the more easy to put on your a) precious bendy newborn b) your wiggling, twisting, vocal 7 month old.
  • Bonds Wondersuits. Again start with 000 sizing, anything smaller won't generally get much wear.
  • Packet of 10 Facewashers. These will get used for everything, but probably rarely for washing faces.
  • Baby socks. Newborn sizes are gorgeous, but don't forget about the 6mo+ sizing. 
  • Baby booties.
  • Muslins.
  • Your favourite brand of wet wipes (trust me, new parents have NO idea, and we used every kind we were given until we found some we liked. Alcohol free & soap free is a MUST.)
  • Baby toys. We were given lots of toys that saw us through to about 4 months, and it's always useful if they're toys that won't be interesting until bubs is grasping or able to move their head around with a bit of control. Millie was given a Lamaze dragon that she still loves now and was a gift from our mates Geoff and Dani. They gave us Bruce The Confident Dragon when they asked what could they get - I said the most useful thing they got. There you have it.
  • Clothes. Don't buy anything that buttons up the back or anything that doesn't button up the front. I don't think Millie wore anything that didn't button up the front until she was about 3 months old. I was too afraid of breaking her! The most useful piece of clothing we were given was a navy zip through hoodie in a size 0 from my brother Ben and his girlfriend Stacey. Millie wore it all through winter as a winter coat, and because it's a size 0 it went over EVERYTHING. Brilliant.

So Useful But Highly Pricey So New Parents Can't Afford It

Wrap Me Up. Picture from Love To Dream.
  • Wrap Me Up. We were given one & loaned two. Amazing. M spent so much time in these instead of fussing with swaddling all the time, but at $40 they're not really affordable for everyone. Band together & buy your friend at least one - they'll thank you. We also purchased one the next size and we've only just stopped using it.
  • Seriously. Buy your friend one.
  • If your friends are cloth nappying, get them a voucher from somewhere like Darlings Down Under (although there are heaps of places) that sells a variety of nappies. Or buy them your favourite kind. Again, at $15-$40 ea MCNs can get pricey, so any extra are much appreciated. My work did a collection and bought us two Baby Beehinds MultiFits and that was the best gift they could have given me!
  • A platter of Mum & Dad's favourite food. My bestie Charlotte stocked my fridge at home with brie, prosciutto, coca cola and dips and chutneys and lots of easy to eat yummy food that I couldn't necessarily have in pregnancy.
  • A good thermal cup. Gone are the days (mostly) of a piping hot cup of tea that you need to blow on to cool enough to drink. It took me a few months to cotton on to it, but I remembered that I had these Bodum Canteen cups and now my coffee stays hot enough to not want to throw it at the wall. They're also a good small size and not plastic. I loathe massive thermal coffee mugs with plastic handles and plastic outers, so I find these cups perfect.
  • A digital ear thermometer. My in laws gave us this Braun one and it's so handy to quickly check your screaming volume knob stuck on 11 bundle of joy's temperature, to rule out a fever if nothing else. If they hadn't gifted us this one I'd be trying to sort it out with the free Panadol forehead strip at 2am.
  • A nice notepad and a nice pen. My mate Evie gave us a fancy little notepad and a beautiful pen in hospital as she said every Dr, Nurse, Midwife, Physio etc would tell us something and we wouldn't remember it. And it was the handiest thing we were given in hospital. We recorded Millie's feeds in it in the beginning and then when our midwife asked us when she'd fed we could flick through and find it, because lord knows I couldn't even tell you what day it was.
  • Walking in the sunshine using my ErgoBaby
  • An ErgoBaby. Obviously this is a highly priced item, and I know that everyone likes a different baby carrier but I'd be stuck and sad without our ErgoBaby. I purchased mine second hand but I'd happily pony up for a new one. If your friend is of the baby wearing kind, this carrier is ace.

The Pricey But Lordy Me I'm Stoked You Bought It For Us
Millie is very lucky to have lots of substitute Aunts and Uncles who buy her a lot of very pretty things. This is also great because Mr S and I are a bit sensible, and her Aunts and Uncles buy her things I'd LOVE to, but can't quite justify.
Out for a wintery walk with my Toshi hat on.
  • Millie was given this Pink Pussycat Toshi hat by her Auntie Skye and Auntie Jennie, and it is SO soft and warm, and lasted the entire winter without a tear or even a pill. I'm sad she's outgrown it.
  • Beautiful fairy lights for above a cot. So pretty!
  • A handmade quilt. Millie was given one made by my bestie Charlotte's Mum and it hangs above her cot at the moment. I believe every child deserves at least one handmade blankie.
  • Good bibs. Left to my own devices I'd probably have bought cheap bibs. But again, we were given so many bibs and my favourites are the good, heavyweight handmade ones. Snaps are a must - Millie can pull the velcro ones off!
  • A 'lovey'. Again, left to my own devices Millie would probably have some square of towel or the like, but she was given a Kaloo Liberty Doudou Comforter and loves going to bed with it now. The Kaloos are soft and cuddly and just the right size for Millie's meaty paws little hands to hold.
  • A 'nice' jumper. Regardless of all of the second hand clothes we have for Millie, it's so nice to put on a 'nice' jumper/hoodie when we're going out somewhere. It could be the country girl in me, but I love the idea of having a 'good' outfit to pull out if we're going somewhere special.
This is all things to purchase, but honestly one of the most valued gifts you can give is your time.
I had a difficult labour resulting in a caesarian section, and whilst I had to be up and moving I couldn't do much beyond sitting on the couch. Friends drove down (we are 50kms from Hobart) and did the washing up, made me lunch, hung out the washing, did more washing, held the baby, put frozen meals in the freezer, vacuumed and left. Amazing.

The best gift from family was from my mother. She spent two weeks with us starting a little from before Millie's birth until she was 10 days old. Mum stayed in Franklin (10km away) and would turn up at 8am every morning, make us breakfast and cups of tea, lunches and dinners. She did washing, washed the floors, vacuumed, held Millie for hours on end whilst Mr S and I slept, and was just here. But not in the way. Then we'd eat dinner and she'd go home. Rinse, lather, repeat.

I was initially apprehensive about this arrangement because I was worried about Mum being in our space. However this was the best gift we could have asked for. Mum got to bond with Millie whilst being the help we needed but didn't realise we needed. Thank you Mum!

So this is my list for now... what can you add?