Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Frugal living: Planting my own veggie patch

For years I have wanted my very own veggie patch.  Somewhere I can go to when life gets rough and I just want some peace and quiet.  Somewhere I can go to to harvest my own food.  Well, I FINALLY have started with my little, tiny veggie patch.

My neighbour went to our local nursery to buy some cherry tomato, green pepper and lettuce seedlings.  She then divided it up between herself, her mother and me.  SO grateful for that contribution!  I planted my little seedlings (but I'm still learning about this whole gardening thing) and have waited in great anticipation for the seedlings to grow, grow, GROW!  Okay, then learned that I actually have to water them twice daily to look nearly as nice as my neighbour's vegetable plants!

I then went out to the same nursery on Sunday and bought parsley, eggplant / brinjal seedlings, spinach and swiss chard seedlings.  We split it up between the neighbour and our garden again.  Here are the photos of what we've got so far.  Sorry for the flooding, I underestimated the let-down of my neighbour's  watering can.

The tomato and green pepper seedlings and parsley on the far right.

Eggplant / brinjal on the far left, spinach in the middle and Swiss chard on the right with some spinach, Swiss chard and lettuce plants in the front (although you can't see the green lettuce, since it's been chewed away during the night).

Having these plants really makes me excited because it means I can provide a healthier food for my family without having to spend so much money on fresh, organic vegetables!  I am thinking about still buying coriander, dill, lemon grass, spring onions and then to plant broccoli.  Maybe THEN Linmari will actually eat broccoli!

Oh, and to follow is not necessarily about frugal living (although it could tie in with the theme).  I have finally, after a year and 4 months of living in our home, sorted out the hallway cupboard.  No easy feat, I tell you!  I know it doesn't look super neat, but it's organized!  At a moment's notice I can grab whatever you would ask of me from that cupboard. 

Lastly, my beautiful monkey of toddler is growing up SOOOO quickly!  She's learned to sign the following words within days of each other:
  • Cheese
  • Swim
  • Finished
  • More
  • Sleep
  • Thirsty
I am so darn impressed with her!  At this moment I'm SURE that I'm forgetting some of the words she can sign, but hey, that's all for a next post.  She's been able to sign "milk" and "bath" for quite some time.

First she climbed onto the dining table...

Then on top of the kitchen counter...

And today she figured out how to climb into the tumble drier (not plugged in).
I am LOVING this child!  How I wish we could have another one soon!  Praying hard that we'll fall pregnant soon.  I LOOOOOOOOVE this SAHM-thing ;-)

Monday, September 16, 2013

13 months and 5 days old!!!

This gorgeous child is already 13 months and 5 days old today!!!  I was not anywhere near a user-friendly computer on her 13 month day to capture all her newest tricks.  So, here goes.

  • Linmari has added to her vocabulary and now also says "Ouma, Oupa, (Grandma, Grandpa), eina (ouch), eier (egg), no (shakes head)" after a week with the grandparents.
  • Linmari further advanced to saying "Kyk daar (look there), ja (yes)".  I'm sure there were more words, I just cannot remember them. :-(
  • She is too cute for words, starting to point, click, drag and drop (my dad always said that my nephew treated us like a user would treat the Windows OS, LOL).  Last night she kept on pointing at the kitchen counter and we thought she wanted fresh strawberries.  Turns out, she wanted COOKIES and knew exactly where to find them!  Today she screamed and cried like it was nobody's business.  When I investigated, she indignantly picked up a building block that she was playing with and pointed to it.  Then she proceeded to pick up another building block after placing the first one down on the floor again, and pointed at the second one.  And then she BABBLED!  She seemed very upset with her building blocks - HAHAHA!
  • She babbles a LOT and non-stop!  I think she's taking after me.
  • She's started to open the fridge and investigate what's inside.  NOT very convenient when I'm trying to cook.
  • She loooooooooves frozen strawberries and smoothies!
  • She has decided that she no longer likes olives and lemons.
  • She is currently cutting FOUR molars - OUCH! (On Friday night she kept on saying "Eina" (ouch) and throwing tantrums, until we figured out [my husband, really] that her gums were really sore and that she is actually cutting those teeth.)
  • She is quickly becoming quite the master of climbing onto tables.  Her latest endeavour involves figuring out how she'll get onto our dining room table from the futon situated next to the table.  She's already figured out how to get onto her own table out on the patio.
  • Linmari has suddenly become Miss Independent....it's both frustrating and cute at the same time to observe!  If I touch anything that she was about to eat I can forget that she'll eat it.  She wants to, NEEDS to, pick up her own food with a spoon or fork and she doesn't need anyone's help - THANK YOU VERY MUCH!  (*groan*).  So we're on loads of finger foods now and most meals are eaten out on the patio at her table to avoid having to perform hectic clean-ups after every meal.  She seems to love the arrangement.
  • Linmari looooooooves cheese as well!  In any form - grated, sticks, processed, whatever!
  • Her sand pit is one of her most treasured play areas. 
  • She can sort loose cubes into a muffin tray - how cool is that?!
  • She's still not sleeping through - we're attempting sleep training again (a bit of a nightmare with her cutting teeth).
  • She's attended her third wedding for the year and thoroughly enjoyed it.  Especially the bit where she got to dance with her daddy, and then with her stroller!
Every day I'm amazed at what my child can do.  I realise that life in and of itself truly is a miracle!  What a fortunate parent am I to get to stay at home and experience all her milestones with her?!  I just want to call everyone and tell them how wonderful my little girl is!  Love this kid to bits!

On a more productive note, though.  Since our little bit of a financial dilemma (in a worldly view, not by ANY means in a spiritual way) GOD has provided generously in our needs.  I started baking way more, including milktart, and also learned how to make koeksisters from my mom.  Then one of Thinus' colleagues asked whether or not I could make his son turning 5 years old, a SpongeBob birthday cake.  I said "Sure". worked out a price and together with a friend set out to make and decorate the cake.  Below is a picture of the final product.  I couldn't have done it without my friend's help.  She coloured and rolled out all the fondant, made all the facial features from a picture I had drawn her and stood by me till nearly 11 on Thursday night.  The hard work paid off and it seems like there were a few people that were interested in my cake baking skills.  All I can say is "Soli Deo Gloria!" - "Glory be to GOD alone!".

May you all have a blessed week!  I better get my baby's washing on the line and then get into bed.  It's rather late and I need some uninterrupted sleep!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Putting my trust in the LORD (where it SHOULD be!)

I have been 'unemployed' for just over a month now, but only this month has the financial reality of it all sunk in. 

We've had a third of our income cut by me staying at home.  Add to that the fact that we went from two salaries with a 2/3 subsidised top range medical aid / insurance to one salary that has to cover a whole medical aid premium, and you've got financial chaos.  And let us not forget that I somehow missed the termination letter in my pile of pension fund papers, causing me to get my full salary and now I have to pay back 29 days plus the tax that was taken from the gross salary (my mistake costing us big bucks).  Oh, and the medical bills that keep on coming...and the double medical aid premium for this month to ensure we didn't have a break in coverage.  The list of financial woes feels endless.

And then my husband said to me: "Liefie ("Dear"), did anyone die because we lost this income / you missed a termination letter / medical aid was a double premium?".
Me: "No".
Him: "Then why are you so worried? It's ONLY money. And ultimately GOD is in control and the PROVIDER of our needs. We have VERY little left for the month but GOD knows how we'll make it."
I hear him saying: "Sit back and check how GOD's going to perform miracles in our lives!"

Now, please don't see this as a post in which I'm moaning. I'm not.  I'm sketching the scenario for you.  And I'm excited!!!  Because I serve the Living GOD!  Jesus has NEVER, NOT ONCE, let us down. Not financially or otherwise.  GOD also gave us the ability to be entrepreneurs and use opportunities to add to our necessary income / provide in our needs.  I have recently sold rusks and milktarts, which is now allowing me to keep to certain monthly financial commitments that I have made.  Other people have green fingers and can make anything grow.  I'd like to think that I have 'baking' fingers and can bake and sell anything that I set my mind on.

One of my friends asked me if I'm not considering going back to work in light of these financial strains.  I said there is no way!  I simply loooove being with my daughter and even though that comes at a financial cost to us, the emotional rewards far outweighs the monetary loss!  Not having to stress about work is gorgeous!  Getting to wake up next to my beautiful daughter and getting to lie in some mornings is superb.  Seeing this gorgeous baby girl developing each day is simply amazing! Nothing can convince me at this moment in time that I should be at any other place.
She just loves playing "escape artist"!

And she's a very messy, avo-loving eater!
The best part of her day is when she gets to PLAY!!!

For the first time in my life I'll strive to be the COMPLETE Proverbs 31 woman / wife / mother / business woman, not only those parts that suit me.

Cherishing every single moment!
All the glory be to GOD!

Friday, August 16, 2013

The truth about being a Stay-At-Home-Mom

When Linmari was only 3 weeks old, I decided that I want to be a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM).  It's a heart desire which did not disappear as time went by.  It actually grew stronger and stronger, to the point that my husband wrote my resignation letter and told me I had better go and resign.

I felt guilty, having to balance my career and motherhood.  I felt overwhelmed by my situation - get to work and feeling like I'm not able to completely focus because Linmari is always at the back of my mind.  Get home and not being able to pay 100% to Linmari because I have work that still has to be completed.  Plus, the housework was getting to me...  I just could not give my 100% to anything any longer.

I've now been a full-time SAHM for the past week (well, since Tuesday, really, since I was helping out at a friend's practice on Monday afternoon).  And I can now really tell you, this is NOT easy.  Am I regretting the fact that I quit my job?  NO!  It's one less thing to stress about in my life.  Am I still overwhelmed?  YES!  The amount of sorting out and cleaning my tiny house requires is insane.  I used to do the necessary to make sure it was livable.  To ensure I didn't completely lose the plot.  But now that I'm here 24/7, it seems like there is just SO.MUCH to sort out!  As for Linmari?  I love my child, I do.  It just seems that she chose this week to have a go at poor eating habits and even worse sleeping habits (read: NO SLEEP).  If I walk away from where she's sleeping, she wakes up within 10 seconds.  So I can't even do my housework whilst she's asleep.

Okay, it sounds like I'm moaning (and to certain degree, I am) but I'm actually VERY grateful that I can spend all this time with my daughter.  She does cute and funny little things which delights me - like figuring out how to open her own sand pit and then saying "oooohhhhh" with this gorgeous little over-emphasized rounded mouth.  SOOO cute!  Yes, she enjoys doing weird things (like eating soap whilst I'm hand washing her clothes) but she also makes me laugh (when she uses ANYTHING as a 'cellphone', holding it against her ear).  I'm also finding it very difficult to just play with Linmari.  I'm VERY sorry to all the parents I've told over the past 6 years that I've practiced as an Occupational Therapist that they should just 'play with their children'.  Turns out it's not as easy as 'just playing' with my child.  I have a daily programme to follow (I bought it out of desperation and because I can't think about activities for every single day) because I'm scared that I won't stimulate this child enough and our day does not necessarily always allow me to follow the programme as stipulated (I'm a stickler for rules...imagine how this makes me feel).  I NOW feel guilty that I'm not constantly stimulating her, like she'll lag behind because of me having to quickly do the dishes, make dinner, clean-up the lounge or do a load of washing.

So, dear friends, be warned.  By the end of a day I am drained.  I just want some 'me-time'.  I want to just sort out a bit of my kitchen without having to give my full attention to Linmari 100% of the time.  That's why I also look forward to my husband coming home.  It's a break for both Linmari and myself from each other.

And please don't think that being a SAHM is like being on holiday the whole time.  Far from it.  (Someone said that to me this week...Really?!?!)  I do not have a domestic worker whom I can delegate the housework to.  Plus, I would feel guilty, since our house really is not all that big.  But I wish I was less fussy about stains on clothing (then I wouldn't be hand washing all Linmari's clothing, followed by machine washing it!), to name but one pet peeve in my life.

As I'm typing this, I'm sitting next to Linmari on the bed because dare I move, she'll surely wake up.  So, I was moping about my situation when I suddenly realised, hey, I can write a blog post about this!  Writing always makes me feel better.  My dad says it's because it is a way to purge your thoughts and feelings.  It's more for my sake than for others' that I'm writing this post.  And then I also thought about the fact that I get to see my child grow up.  Now I just have to learn to be more present in spirit instead of only in body.  This is my chance to make a difference in my child's life.  I better use it while it's mine for the taking!

To top off this crazy long-winded post, here are a few pictures from our photo shoot on Sunday (to celebrate Thinus and Linmari's birthdays).

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Hubby and Baby celebrate their Birthdays!!!!

Today Thinus and Linmari are celebrating their birthdays.  Last year this time, I was in quite a bit of pain, not really thinking about the fact that Thinus would be sharing his birthday with our child.  Never in a MILLION years did I think that would happen!

To celebrate this wonderful day, we went for a family shoot, complete with the grandparents!  We'll be getting the photo's on Thursday.  I CAN'T WAIT!  In the meanwhile, here are only a few pictures I took tonight to celebrate my beautiful family.

I feel like I should just add that it's really late at night (for Linmari, in any case) and she's not all that willing to pose for pictures any longer ;-P  I will shortly post some more pictures of their party that we had yesterday.  But for now, we're going to crawl into bed (because we're absolutely exhausted!), watch October Baby, and have a good night's rest.

Thank YOU, LORD, for these beautiful people that I can call my very own family!!!!!  Thank YOU for watching over them!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

World Breastfeeding Week: Family and Social Network, Healthcare Systems, Response to Crisis or Emergency

As the title mentions, I'll be touching on Family and Social Networks, Healthcare Systems, and Response to Crisis or Emergency.  The reason I decided to group these together (apart from running out of time during World Breastfeeding week) is that I feel they are so closely linked together.

When one decides to breastfeed, your family really does make up a huge part of your decision.  You might not think about this, but subconsciously one does wonder about their reaction to breastfeeding, whether or not they are pro-breast milk or pro-formula OR pro-whatever-makes-your-baby-grow!  One also tends to wonder how they will react to you breastfeeding in front of them.  Be it with or without a breastfeeding cover.  From personal experience I can tell you that I am very at ease to feed without my cover, but I always ask whether the person with me is comfortable with it.  That being said, I choose to only feed without a cover in front of other women, girls or my husband.  For the rest I use a breastfeeding cover, simply because I am also private in that way.  BUT I don't exclude myself from conversations, and that's why I am at ease to breastfeed (with a cover) in mixed company.  Breastfeeding is not an illness or disease that has to be isolated.  The sooner we accept this truth, the sooner we'll be more at ease to share this time with others.  I read a very nice article by Nicki Hesken from BellaOnline regarding Family and Criticism while Breastfeeding in which she explains how you can prepare for family gatherings and also basically 'desensitize' family to you breastfeeding in their presence.  A good read, I'd say. 

Furthermore, people's reaction to learning that you're breastfeeding through social media may also either encourage or discourage you.  I have been fortunate enough to be part of an amazing group on Facebook that one of my friends started to encourage support between mothers.  We're a mixed group of new-mothers and mothers who're on their 2nd or 3rd child.  There I found a platform where I could openly ask questions about breastfeeding and get honest answers from women in the know.  My doula and friend, Melissa Jacobs, is also a great advocate for breastfeeding.  I often check out links that she posts on her Facebook profile regarding breastfeeding.  Just another way that Social Networking allows me to stay connected with current trends.  So, in this day and age, where we've got the internet and social media literally at our fingertips, shouldn't this be a place to look for support?  As well as a place to voice concerns and advocate breastfeeding in public?  An article on momzelle.com grabbed my attention, titled "My Favourite Online Breastfeeding Lifelines" - go check it out for some pointers in the right direction.

At times I feel like Healthcare Systems are to blame for poor breastfeeding performance amongst new moms.  I have a friend who is very much pro-breastfeeding and made her husband follow their baby everywhere in the hospital after her birth to make sure she was not fed a single drop of formula.  Yet, she told me that at that very same hospital her baby was born at, she did not really receive support with regards to breastfeeding, latching and all the other intricacies thereof.  I found that so, so sad!  I was very fortunate that at Genesis Clinic the staff are pro-breastfeeding and are more than willing to sit with you and help you until your baby latches well.  I found that so encouraging and motivating, just knowing that I could ask for help and they'd come running.  My husband called one of the midwives at 03h00 AM to help me with breastfeeding.  She sat with us for nearly an hour, if I recall correctly, guiding me and encouraging me, never putting me down or making me feel stupid.  I also know that at the Witbank Hospital (Public Sector), they are adamant in the Neonatal / Paediatric wards that babies that are born prematurely or cannot yet (for whatever reason) breastfeed, be fed ONLY using a cup, NOT bottles.  How wonderful!  Plus, they have a breast milk bank with donated breast milk to provide for their in-hospital babies in need. WOW for the public sector, now when will the private sector catch onto best practice?  I really feel that nursing staff and other health care providers should be careful in what they say, lest they discourage mommies from breastfeeding!  Please, provide a bridge, not a hurdle!  I read about the Cayuga County Women, Infants and Children Program, where they encourage breastfeeding as well as education to mommies-to-be and other healthcare professionals.  THIS is how you get breastfeeding rates up!  With proper support!

Finally, Response to Crisis or Emergency.  It is so important to make sure that there are support structures in place in the case of an emergency.  I remember my sister-in-law telling me about how a whole community of nursing mothers provided breast milk to a new born baby whose mother had died during / after childbirth due to complications.  They did this in an effort to ensure that this baby would get the best advantage in life, even though he no longer had his mother.  This community supported the baby, but also, by proxy, his father, who had to deal with the death of his wife, mother to his 7 children, and having to take her body to Israel for burial.  These women stood by the husband, his other children and his new born baby.  How many communities can tell these stories?  Are we supporting women / families in crisis?  We really have to think about this!  It's not a good time to set protocols in place when emergencies become reality.  We have to be proactive!

I am passionate about breastfeeding, I will always be! I didn't take to it like a duck to water, I had to learn through trial and error, enduring pain for a very long time (or so it felt at the time).  I didn't stop breastfeeding just because Linmari cut her first tooth and bit me (it was inevitable!) or because she started eating solids?  I am in emotional turmoil with regards to when she should be weaned, and as long as I am in this state, I will not stop breastfeeding.  I want to shout it from the rooftops: "Get the necessary support to see you through breastfeeding, pledge that you won't give up before at LEAST six weeks of nursing, be proud of the fact that you are breastfeeding!".  Mommies, and Daddies, it truly is VERY important to continue for as  long as possible!  Daddies, you are there to support the mother of your children in her breastfeeding ventures!  Don't give up, PLEASE!  Go read this post on the 10 things you were never told regarding breastfeeding.

To every single woman out there, breastfeeding or not, NOW is your chance to make your decision that could influence the rest of your life, but also your child's life!  Breastfeeding creates a wonderful bond and is the best source of nutrition for your child!  Believe in your body's ability to provide in your child's nutritional needs.  GOD designed a woman's body to produce this liquid gold.  Now go out and be an advocate for breastfeeding! 

Until we meet again for World Breastfeeding Week 2014!

Monday, August 5, 2013

The First Day of the Rest of My Life!

Good day, all!  What a beautiful morning this has already turned out to be. 

For the first time EVER I could sleep late during a 'normal working day', because I am now a STAY AT HOME MOMMY!!!!  Linmari and I slowly awakened with the day.  We took our time getting up and prepping for our outings (which are now not going to happen as planned).  I had the time to quickly whip together beautiful Banana and Oatmeal cookies, dress my daughter and myself and hang some diapers on the line.

On the Banana and Oatmeal cookie front.  People, this is the BEST cookie EVER to give your child.  No funny additives, no extra sugar, no salt.  Just pure banana and oatmeal goodness! I found the recipe on Facebook / online last week Wednesday.  It leaves plenty of room for playing around and improvising.  But the best thing about it, I don't feel bad giving this cookie to my daughter!  Here's the recipe:
Quick and Easy Banana and Oatmeal Cookies
1 cup of rolled oats (or any oats, I would imagine)
2 ripe and soft bananas
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius / 356 degrees Fahrenheit.
Spray an oven baking tray with some Spray-and-Cook.
Cut up and mash the bananas to a pulp.
Add the cup of oats and mix all well together.
Dish out tablespoonful amounts onto the pre-sprayed baking tray.
Pop it into the oven for 15 minutes.
TADA!  Wonderful, tasty and wholesome cookies!
Optional:  You can add chopped up nuts, raisins, choc-chips, dried fruit to the mixture.
I really want to try this recipe with some chopped-up dried mango pieces.
You can also add a pinch of salt if this tastes 'weird' to you.  I prefer it without salt, you soon grow used to the taste in anyway!
Okay, so Linmari just woke up from her midmorning nap and I better get going to my husband.  What a treat!!!  Oh, and then it's off to the ENT for Linmari's post-op check-up.  At least I'll be able to brag about the fact that she can now WALK!  (As if I had anything to do with it  ;-P ) Whoohoo!!!  A good day to you all!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

World Breastfeeding Week: Workplace and Employment

Breastfeeding / Expressing at work can be rather cumbersome and not very well supported.  The Circles of Support for Mothers and Children shows that 'Workplace and Employment' makes up one of the circles.  It is with good reason, since this could be one of the areas which could almost 'force Mom's hand' to supplement-feed or stop breastfeeding altogether.

I was VERY fortunate when I returned to work to be able to express when necessary.  Plus, because I work at a school, I was able to use the lunch breaks on top of the given time to express.  Furthermore, we have a fridge in our department that I could use the freezer compartment to store my expressed milk.  I could not ask for greater support. 

When wanting to express at work it is very important to consider the following:
  1. Double electric breastpumps makes the expressing process faster with greater amounts of milk.
    1. Important to note: Is your electric breastpump solely dependent on being plugged in or can it be battery operated in the case of a power failure?  Secondly, do you have batteries with you in the case of a power failure? (Yes, this IS necessary to ask!)
  2. Having a safe place (cooler box / fridge / freezer) to store your expressed milk.
  3. Having an ample supply of containers for expressed milk.
  4. Having a steam sterilizer at work to sterilize your breastpump accessories in.
  5. Where will you express?  Is it clean, private and (yes, this is important) somewhat isolated on an auditory level?  My breastpump's motor was not all that silent, so if you walked past my closed office, you could hear it!
  6. Do you have enough time everyday to express?  Remember, it's important to express to keep your milk supply up, not only to have milk for your baby for tomorrow.
  7. Consider getting a manual pump for travelling purposes - this has been a saving grace for me during sport-events that I had to attend as an official for our school.  I would then express in the back of my car (there are shade socks over both back windows) with my breastfeeding cover intact.  No one even knew and if they did, they never said so.
I read an interesting article today on legislation regarding breastfeeding and expressing at work in South Africa.  Do yourself a favour and go and read it!  It made me realise just HOW fortunate I was.  I turns out that according to our law, my employer only has to give me expressing breaks (2 breaks of 30 minutes each) for the first 6 months of my child's life.

I went back to work when Linmari was 5 months old and I officially stopped working yesterday, Linmari being 11 months and 22 days old.  I was still expressing nearly everyday at work.  WOW, how grateful I am for my work setup which allowed me to continue expressing.  (I plan to breastfeed until Linmari can go over to cow or goat milk, and then still continue with nap-time and dinner-feeds.)

Don't let your workplace be the reason for NOT breastfeeding!  You have rights in South Africa, KNOW them, make sure your employer adheres to legislation.  Remember, they have to reasonably accommodate you.  And you can be creative about expressing!  I remember reading how Ashley from www.ourlittleapartment.com used to express in her car when she was a Barista at Starbucks.

Happy breastfeeding and expressing, Mommies!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

World Breastfeeding Week 2013 (1-7 August)

This year's theme for World Breastfeeding Week is BREASTFEEDING SUPPORT: CLOSE TO MOTHERSYou can go read more on the mission statement at this link.  

I thought I'd like to share a bit of information everyday for the duration of this World Breastfeeding Week.  I am very grateful for the GREAT theme that they chose!  I have seen first-hand what a difference it can make to have a good support-structure in place, to help you and guide you when you don't know what else to do.

NOTHING could prepare me for breastfeeding!  All I remember was making my husband promise me that he'll not allow me to stop breastfeeding before Linmari is 6 weeks old.  The reason?  Sometime, somewhere I read that it can take up to 6 weeks to establish a good breastfeeding routine.  Thinus very nearly gave up on that promise when he realised just HOW painful breastfeeding was for me...at first.  But I reminded him of his promise and he had renewed vigour to MAKE it work!  I wanted what was best for my daugther and I knew I could give it to her.  

Here are a few things that helped me to stick to my decision:
  1. My midwife (Karen van der Merwe) was a staunch advocate of breastfeeding, talking over possible reasons why I was experiencing such pain when Linmari was feeding and ways to overcome the pain / treat the pain.  She also helped a lot with regards to possible positions to prevent Linmari from suffering too much at my hectically fast let-down.
  2. My doula (Melissa Jacobs) told me within the first few hours "NEVER accept a bad latch, Ronél.  NEVER!"  Very wise words from a very wise woman and Mama!  Plus she followed-up on my breastfeeding 'career' to make sure I understood all the ins and outs of this game, understanding my struggles and encouraging me all the way.
  3. My mother (Petra Kahl), also a midwife, helped me with latching and possible positions.  She's still such an amazing help and reminds me how wonderful it is that I could make it past six months and still breastfeed.
  4. My husband.  Yes, he realised that even though this was painful, initially, and did not come so 'naturally' to me, it was what I wanted, what Linmari wanted, and what both of us needed.  He supported me wholeheartedly in this decision and for THAT I cannot thank him enough!
  5. Knowing that financially it just made more sense to breastfeed - come ON!  The stuff is FREE and for the taking.  Who WOULDN'T want to take advantage of that situation?
  6. Amazing websites that taught me a lot that I had to know about things like expressing at work and exactly how to make expressing work for you - www.kellymom.com - Peeps, this is an AWESOME website!  Go check it out!
  7. Inner motivation to wanting to offer my child the best that I had.  Linmari did not cope well with solid food at 4 months (the new age at which solids are supposed to be introduced) and I realised it's FINE to exclusively breastfeed until 6 months.  My child's body could handle other food so much better at 6 months!
  8. Friends at work!!!  I have several friends at work who are also all about breastfeeding your child and expressing milk to ensure that baby gets the best.  They really helped with the logistics of how you express at work, when you find the time and what you store the milk in.  AWESOME peeps!

I suppose what I wanted to explain to you here is that it really is important to have good support from all those around you.  And if you don't find support in your immediate surroundings, go LOOK for it on the internet.  Seek it out at your local baby wellness clinic.  Find yourself a lactation consultant!  But good breastfeeding habits start with a good support system!

Happy breastfeeding, Mommies!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

11 month old kids are SO.DARN.CUTE!

So  I've been at home...recovering from chickenpox.  But during that time I've also been able to spend some precious time with Linmari.  Okay, so itching like crazy and running after your little one can be rather challenging, but that's fine by me.  At least she was a welcome distraction!  Keeping a steady level of Panado in my bloodstream and Calamine lotion on my body has certainly also been of great help!

Linmari are doing such cute things, SERIOUSLY!  Yesterday she started playing 'hide-and-seek' with me, just around our bed.  She would walk around the bed to her dad's side of the bed (our bed is very high, with a big mattress) and suddenly pop out to reveal herself.  And then she would be reduced to a puddle of giggles when I said "BOO!".  Quickly up and walking around the edge of the bed to the other side (my side) and pop out with me saying "BOO!" again.  GIGGLES, then LAUGHTER, like the kind of laughter that starts in your belly and erupts from your mouth! 

We also played with just plain old cake flour.  I put some on a tray, took it outside, and she entertained herself for nearly half an hour, just smearing her hands, then her face and finally her WHOLE BODY with the flour!  I also gave her some cookie cutters to play with, which she tried to "fill", but alas, it didn't work ;-)  She's too cute!

And THEN my dearest daughter discovered that the hedge between us and the neighbours' gardens could be traversed (with lots of effort and serious dirt-effect).  That kept her busy for another half an hour or so.  The garden was next, finding all kinds of interesting leaves (dead and alive) in the garden, playing with the ground/dirt, looking at birds in our other neighbours' garden and discovering red flowers (oh, the delight!) in our own.  As if that wasn't enough, she then fetched her ball so that we could play with that, after which she decided that the lounge chair on our stoep/porch makes for a lovely jungle gym.

I love the energy this kid has (and sometimes I loathe it, let's be honest) and how she wants to explore and experience every bit of her environment.  Yes, everything goes to the mouth...which is rather disgusting sometimes.  But I'm SO grateful to have a child who is able to move around in her environment.  Who can climb in and on and through things.  Who can go and fetch her ball and WALK to me so that we can play with it!  What a wonderful privilege it is to share in her development, to be present and able to see it all happening!  I am in awe of my child, but mostly I am in awe of GOD, for HE created this beautiful being. 

Yesterday, my devotional piece was on Psalm 139, by far one of my favourite chapters in the Bible.  GOD knit us together in our mothers' wombs.  HE knew all the days destined for us before they came to be.  HE knew that Linmari would start walking on Tuesday, 23 July 2013, before she was even born!  What an amazing blessing to know GOD and to see how HE designed creation.

I just wanted to share these beautiful experiences with the world.  I love my girl and am forever grateful that I can be part of her world!  Praise be to GOD for providing to enable me to follow my heart's desires!

Friday, July 26, 2013

This Mommy has Chickenpox...

Today was supposed to be me last day at work.  Instead, it's my first day in bed with Chickenpox!  Who could've thought that one can catch this twice?!?!  I'm living proof, you can!

My niece came to sleep over at our house 2 1/2 weeks ago.  That evening she developed a high fever (39.2 degrees Celsius) and we got her some pain meds to kill the fever.  It worked, but the next morning she was covered in little spots / blisters all over her stomach and back.  Her mom took her to the doctor who immediately diagnosed chickenpox.  Well, my daugther was exposed to her for 2 days, my niece's best friend was exposed to her for two days, and then there's the matter of her brothers being exposed to her the whole time!

I thought that Linmari would catch the chickenpox since I know it's highly contagious.  Thinus and I have both had chickenpox as children.  So here I was, waiting to see what would happen.  What happened was:
  • The niece's best friend (who've been vaccinated) got chickenpox
  • The brothers got chickenpox
  • And early yesterday afternoon I presented with this rash, which was diagnosed as chickenpox late yesterday afternoon.
It's proving a bit difficult to follow the prescription of "rest" with my 11 month old daugther being at home with me.  She started walking on Tuesday (EEK!!!) and is toddling all over the place!  Too cute for words, really!  Now I can only rest when she rests, since I fear that she might actually turn the house upside down if I was to fall asleep for even a split second (plus, it's really not all that responsible to fall asleep with an 11 MO wondering through the house, even if the house is babyproof!).

 So, this is me, lamenting the fact that I am ill.  But hey, this is life!  And at least I get to spend time with my precious baby girl!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Life returning to normal...for 3 weeks

Our third school term starts tomorrow and I'm a bag of mixed emotions.  You see, at the beginning of the second term I handed in my resignation. 

I want to be a full-time stay-at-home-mom.  This is something I never thought I would say, but hey, here I am!  And tomorrow marks the beginning of a 3 week return to school to tie all the loose ends together.  What a scary thought! My husband and I have been living on a combined income for the past 5 1/2 years!  We literally only had a single-income household for 5 months and then I started working as an OT.  So we're diving into this unknown financial abyss.  Not sure how that's going to work out for us.

However, I know that this is what I want for my child.  To have a mom that's always (well, mostly) available and to be able to organise our household so that my husband knows that when he comes home at night there'll at least be a cooked meal for dinner.  I can't promise a clean house or ironed washing whenever he needs it but at the very least I can attempt to be an emotionally and physically available mother to our child.  You see, I was privy enough to see my baby's first steps this holiday!  What a wonderful gift!  To share my baby's developmental milestones WITH her :-D

I will still be volunteering every now and again (to not completely lose my touch) but for the biggest part I'm going to discover this new world!  I'm sure there'll be days that I would want to pull my hair out at the mere sight of a house that needs tidying or dishes that have to be done.  But I hope to soon fall back into my maternity-leave routine (although my baby doesn't sleep NEARLY as much as she did back then!).

SOOOOO, because life is returning to normal tomorrow, I've:
  • Packed everyone's lunches
  • Packed the nappy bag
  • Put out clothes for myself and my baby
  • Put all my necessary paperwork for tomorrow together.
I have a HEAP of work to do when I get back to the office tomorrow, having to make sure that all my kids have the necessary treatment plans / home programmes to lessen the workload of my colleagues when I'm gone.

I'm excited and scared at the same time for what the future holds!  Only GOD knows how this will all pan out.  Thank YOU, GOD, for being in my past, present and FUTURE!

I wish all of you a wonderful third school term!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

11 Months Old!!!! Party planning and looking back over the past month

This beautiful child is a full 11 months old today. I cannot believe how much she's developed in the past month!  She's one of the greatest sources of my delight and I truly cannot imagine a life without her! (I'm tiping this post with one hand, since this beautiful child is lying in my arms, fast asleep...)

I've been thinking about her birthday party since January. (Yes, you read correctly.) But I have not been able to find a suitable venue for her party, until Tuesday night, when I realised that our church's hall would be ideal. Especially since her birthday is during late winter and last year there was a quick (but VERY unusual) snow storm 4 days before her birth! An indoors venue cancels out the possibility of bad weather spoiling the birthday party.

Another thing that has caused me lots of concern was that she and her Daddy share a birthday.  How do you host a party for Moms and Babes and involve Daddy's friends in the mix? Plus family?  The easy answer is: You don't. You host two seperate parties. But although that sounds all fair and well, it can become rather costly.  So I've been breaking my head trying to come up with frugal, yet beautiful ideas. Enter Google and Pinterest. I looooove these websites / search engines / call it what you may.  They simplify my life and provide me with cost-effective ideas without compromising on presentation.

The decision has thus been made. Two parties, both at the same venue but 2 hours apart to allow for Linmari to nap in-between. (YEAH, RIGHT! Like that's going to happen!) Linmari's first party with Mommies and Babies and a select few other friends, will be themed "Butterflies and Rainbows" with a homemade butterfly cake, rainbow cupcakes, some other (healthy) fingerfoods for babino's and two different soups with fresh (you guessed it!) homemade bread. Plus coffee and tea. Party favours are being worked on and will also be mostly home/handmade.  And decorations will be a mixture of homemade and store-bought items.

Okay, enough now with the party-planning!

We've had a lot of sensory play and exploration in the past month - much to the disgust of my husband who would rather clean the messy play area than touch a sticky baby!

Linmari can now:
  • Climb into the shower, but has also grown fearful of getting out of the shower.
  • Climb onto the lounge chairs INDEPENDENTLY!
  • Safely get off of the bead - feet FIRST.
  •  Say "dada, "mama", "papa", "Ada" (cousin's name), "tat" for cat, and "hello"
  • Understands the sign for milk and bath
  • Go "ooooh" when she sees something she likes.
  • Follow single-step instructions
  • Take single steps independently
  • Use any furniture as a walking aid, pushing it along across a room
  • (Unfortunately) loosen her velcro tabs on her diapers
  • Start to help you to take off her clothes
  • Walk everywhere with a phone next to her ear. She knows how it works...
  • Take off the washing from the line bilaterally (I just loosen the pegs) and drop the clean washing into the laundry basket. So she'll grab onto two socks, one in each hand, then I have to remove the peg and she'll remove the socks from the line.  Too cute for words!
  • Take objects from one container and place it into another, starting to do some shape sorting.  She seems to have grasped that round objects goes into the round hole the best.  A cube that goes into the square hole is still lost on her!
  • Open drawers, cupboards and unpack what's inside; unpack the bookshelves (every.single.day!) and never grows tired of this activity!

This child amazes me with every developmental milestone that she reaches.  Maybe because I work with children that are delayed or have some hectic obstacles to overcome to reach their milestones.  I realise that one cannot take it for granted that these milestones will be reached.  It is a miracle every.single.time.  My child is a miracle and nothing less!

Linmari has started to really try to exert her will, throwing tantrums when she doesn't get what she wants.  She really struggles to wait a few seconds (don't we all?!?) and the crocodile tears she cries to make it known that she's unhappy is unreal!  Hehehe!  She really makes me laugh a LOT!  But she's also constantly talking to herself and I find that really cute.

We're currently struggling with her sleeping again, back at square one.  She's suffered 3 concurrent middle ear infections in 7 weeks' time, so she's going in for grommets next week Wednesday.  I'm freaking out, thus my husband will be by her side as she gets operated on.  I fear I might actually pass out even though I've seen much more gruesome things in my life.  It's not the same than when it's your own flesh and blood!  So she's really been struggling to sleep and we've had her in her camp cot in our room.  But recently she's spent more time in our bed than in her cot.

So, that's what our 11th month has been like.  LOTS of fun and tears!

May you all be blessed with a great weekend!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

My little girl is 10 months old!!!!

Wait, I cannot believe it!!!!  Linmari is 10 months old?!?!?!?! Precious dear child of ours!

Her beautiful blue eyes continues to catch me off guard...  And those gorgeous, blonde curls!

During the past month she's
  • Started to click her tongue like her uncle Gielie;
  • Started waving goodbye (!!!!!)
  • Started clapping her hands.
  • Learnt how to (finally) climb into the shower cubicle ;-P
  • Started to use "Mamma", "Pappa" and "Baba" more frequently.
  • Had yet another middle ear infection.
She is a real chatterbox whom we love dearly!

That's all for now, more to follow on a day that I'm not quite so asleep in front of my laptop.

I wish you all a blessed week!

Monday, March 11, 2013

7 Months Old!!!

My babagirl is a full 7 months old today!

  • LOVES getting dirty!!!
  • Micro-manages our entire apartment's floor, as well as any other floor / surface she gets into contact with.
  • Still enjoys books but now more for the 'chewing-benefit'.
  • Crawls off a single step as well as the stoep
  • Crawls ONTO the back veranda!!!
  • Moves from sitting to four-point kneeling.
  • LOVES water and enjoys splashing in the bath...as well as getting everything else wet!
  • Is very ticklish on the left side of her neck.
  • Enjoys ALL foods, except broccoli (I'm VERY sad over this).
  • Babbles away like it's nobody's business :-)
  • Started saying what sounds like "hello"
  • Talk more than she did when she was only 2 months old - and then I thought she was talking a lot.
  • Steals all the attention wherever we go.
  • Especially enjoys tags, on anything.
  • Follows me wherever I go in the house.
  • Can teach the army a thing or two about leopard crawling.
  • Enjoys snuggles with Mommy and Daddy.
  • Can hold her own bottle :-)
  • Has started to develop object permanence, so she knows when I'm out of the room that I haven't completely left her.
  • Enjoys lookint at herself in the mirror and chats to us when we're all looking in the mirror.

I enjoy my daughter so much, every.single.day!  Being a mother is the most fulfilling job I've ever had.  I cannot imagine my life without my daughter. Thank YOU, LORD, for this gorgeous, fun-loving child of ours!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Keeping my ducks in a row

I knew going back to work full-time, with Linmari in a daycare would be difficult.  Never in a million years did I realise HOW difficult it would be to juggle housework, parenthood and a full-time job! 

Even though I finish off at around 2-3 in the afternoon, I still seem to have nothing left of my day after picking up Linmari from daycare.  My entire last week we only got back home, on average, at about 9 PM after doing everything that was on my list.  I am a very social person and deem it very important to see my family at LEAST once a week.  Suddenly it has all become very difficult!

Housework has gotten completely out of control, to the point where I finally agreed with Thinus that I need someone to help me with it at least once every two weeks.  WOW, I hate the state it's in!  But when I get home with my little girl in the afternoon, I just want to play with her to make up for the time we've been apart!  Housework is the last thing on my mind!  And because of that I've started going for easy, high-carb dishes for dinner.  It's all a vicious cycle.

When I'm at work, I really miss my daughter SO much!  I try my best to do my job and I've promised myself that I will work hard.  But still, my heart yearns for my daughter.  She LOVES mornings and is at her best.  And now someone else (her darling daycare mother) gets to experience that lovely side of her, only for me to pick her up in the afternoon when she's already had lots of playtime with others.  Not only do I find that difficult, but also having to juggle my time table at work and my expressing times.  What a mission!  I don't mind expressing, not in the least, but I struggle to find time to do little else than work and express.  A woman needs to eat, you know?!  So Thinus has been sent on the mission to go and buy me a double electric breastpump to make life easier.

Linmari will also start with solids soon.  She literally STARES food out of your mouth!  She would love to get hold of anything and everything I eat and I tend to let her have taste.  She definitely prefers sour over sweet and is a real carnivore!  We might have some issues with vegetables, since she's gagging whenever I give her mashed up veggies.  Oh well, I knew there woud be a chance that she would be a fussy eater, especially since her daddy has issues with different textures in his mouth.  We'll start low and go slow!  At least she LOVES fruit!

My little girl has developed so much in the past week! (Good and bad).  She started balancing on her hands and feet (like a bear ;-P ) and got her first two teeth!  She also managed to contract bronchiolitis from somewhere and another virus causing upper respiratory infections, and started with her first antibiotics.  Somehow I thought that she was invincible since she was exclusively breastfed.  I was wrong!  She also discovered her tongue and thinks its HILARIOUS to stick it out for anyone who cares to look!  My little girl is not so little anymore!  Oh ja, and she's sitting all by herself :-D  *Proud OT mommy!* She got that right at just under 5 months! SCORE!  Okay, I'll stop gloating now...

So, this has been a hard few weeks on both my husband and I.  Our little girl made us sick and it's not fun not being able to breathe through your nose, nor taste.  We're both tired from our late nights and would really like to get into a better (earlier) routine.  Hopefully we'll get there soon!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Linmari's Christening

My dearest baby girl got Christened today.  It was a very long road that we travelled before finally deciding to Christen our little Linmari.  But it was beautiful, and it was the right decision for us, and I just SO wish that my mother-in-law and my baby brother could partake in this lovely day with us...

I was going to load photo's, but it seems Blogger won't allow me to load from my personal albums on my computer (don't know why).

I'm beyond tired, and tomorrow I start to work again.  And it's also Linmari's first day at Daycare...  My heart is broken, and I hope that I'll soon be able to change this situation into one where my daughter is the centre of my attention!

Be blessed, fellow bloggers!