Home is where the heart is.

My heart will always yearn for Africa, for the place of my birth, for Cape Town; the city I will always call home. There are many many days in which I have felt very homesick and wondered what my life would be like if I had never moved a whole continent away from my friends and family.

But that’s no way to live my life. I know that my life is now here, is in Australia and the move I have made is exactly where I should be.
Little did I know when I met my husband, 4 wonderful years ago in a little Clapham bar in London that I would end up this far from home and yet here I am. I had been living in London for a while and he had just arrived a few months before. We were both spending a few years travelling around and earning some lovely, lovely pounds. Neither of us were really interested in anything to serious and we both just enjoyed each others company and seeing sights and sounds together. For a short while we decided to go our separate ways.
I was devastated, I don’t think I had realised just how much fun I was having with him or the fact that he was such a wonderful person till he was gone. But obviously we ended up back together and after a year and a half  of blissful happiness, he managed to make me even happier by asking me to marry him…. I said yes 😉

And as they say the rest is history, we got married in London and moved over to Australia soon after that. In 2013 we were given the great honour of having a baby and being parents to the sweetest little boy we could ever have asked for.

I’ve had to make Australia home, not only for myself but for my family too. Don’t get me wrong I do dearly love my new home and all the first world luxuries and safety it offers us. We are also very lucky to be living in a stunning part of Australia and very, very close to my husband’s family so this post is really not about me complaining. I have made some amazing friends and together with our family I really feel like I have found a spot for myself here with people I can love and cherish and who I know love me back.

But as I’m sure any South African expat can agree Africa will always be in my blood and will always be what comes to mind when people ask me where my home is. They say home is where the heart is… my heart will always be in Africa!

Teaching a Toddler – Zoo Theme

This gallery contains 7 photos.

To kick off our Teaching a Toddler series we did a Zoo theme through July. Although we don’t stick seriously to it, our days all have a pretty similar routine and these activities fit into our afternoon after a nap. … Continue reading

Teaching a Toddler

IMG_1819

Teaching a Toddler

So recently I’ve been inspired by some great teachers turned moms to be a bit more proactive with what I’m teaching Billy.
Once he hit toddler-hood I never really felt like I was doing enough when it came to teaching him even the simplest things like animal names or colours etc.

I started small by creating ‘invitations to play’. These were basically little scenes I would set up each night using the toys we already have. Mostly these were just things like a little farm or the train set and I would build the same little scene every night or whenever I was doing a little cleaning up. It helped me make sure I was rotating our toys regularly and keeping him interested in his toys.

Now that he has turned 15 months I have decided to up my game a bit and do more structured games/lessons. He is way to young to do anything for longer than 10 minutes, so I have kept the activities really simple and most importantly if he isn’t interested or doesn’t ‘get it’ I don’t push him or try force the game. Mostly I have to try to remember that this is not about me and my need to control every situation (I’m a way to much of an A type personality). The other thing I keep in mind when is that at this age repetition is key, so we reuse, redo and recycle most of our activities.

I have chosen to do a different theme every month. Not really for any other reason but the fact that it gives me a guideline so I can think up ideas, activities and outings.

Personally I like routine, I enjoy planning and packing what we will need the night before and that feeling of being on top of my day before it’s even started. If I forget or don’t do it for a few weeks I can see the difference in how I react to situations and how I feel a bit overwhelmed and seem to be a bit more short-tempered with everyone.
I try to menu plan every Sunday night so it’s pretty easy to know which snacks I’m going to pack and what we will be having for breakfast. Our day can start anywhere from 5:30 -7 am, although 7am wake up is very rare, we then have breakfast and have a play with whatever I set up the night before. Pretty much everyday we try to spend the morning out of the house, we are part of a few playgroups in our area and we meet up with some amazing other mommy friends that we’ve made. If we have nothing planned we might just head down to the part of go into town for a coffee. By about 12:00 we are home having a small lunch and heading to bed for an afternoon nap. I’ve been really lucky with how we do naps and B pretty much always sleeps for 2 hours (on really busy days it can be 3 hours). When he gets up from his naps we cuddle on the couch for about 15-30 min either watching ABC2 or just sitting together quietly while B wakes up fully. Then it’s on to our activities (which I don’t put any time limit/expectations on) and after that I start on dinner or if that’s all prepared already I might do some work while B plays independently. We generally have dinner at 6pm and its straight off to bath and bed afterwards which usually means B is in bed no later than 7:30.

This routine works for us and I try to be really flexible with it, it may not work for you or your child. Before he was 1 yrs we never really had a set routine I would always just take the days as they came or see how we felt. Some days I can tell we should just be having a day at home or he may be having so much fun in the back yard that we don’t end up going anywhere or doing anything else. But now that he is a bit older I have noticed that routine seems to suit him much better and he naturally fell into eating and sleeping at the same times everyday so I worked this out around him rather than try to change what he was already doing to suit me.

Is that really what I did?

I have the joy of having some amazing mommy friends in my life.  Some have kids the same age as my own, some that are older and some that are younger, which means they are a treasure trove of great advice and they always help me to not make the same mistakes they did. I love watching them interact with their kids, hearing the many different approaches to discipline and the many different ways you can show each individual child love. Watching them really helps me to see how I interact and treat my own son and I couldn’t be more grateful for them all in my life.

IMG_2379

However over he past couple of weeks I noticed something I do that is not helping the development of my son at all but I know no one has ever mentioned it to me  or pulled me up on it.

I’m a hover mom! Yip that’s right I hover wherever we go and even at home, my poor child can never learn something new or try something on his own without me being there watching, so called helping and even doing it for him.

Mr B has been an introvert from the day he was born and he has been my velcro child from day dot. So I’m not really talking about how he interacts with others or how long it takes him to meet new people or feel comfortable in the places we go and the playgroups we attend. I’m so very happy to facilitate that side of him and slowly help him to learn how to make his introverted personality fit the situations we find ourselves in, the other more dominant personalities we encounter or especially the larger groups we attend.

What I mean is that he just has to look at me while he is trying to figure something out or learn something new and I am at his side in a flash telling/showing him how to do it and very often it’s resulted in me doing it for him and him no longer wanting to play with the item or try on his own.

Argh how annoying would that be?
I never wanted to be a lazy mom and I was so careful to not be neglectful and I do try really hard to treat my son like I would any other person I come into contact with. I think its valuable and important to make sure I don’t dismiss children or the way they feel, even if I think he is being petty or silly. I’ve always wanted to be really supportive of him and everything he wants to do. We practices attachment parenting and neither my husband or I believe in letting a child cry and we don’t think it’s a good thing for them to do.
But what I’ve done instead is go in a complete other direction and not let him grow and learn on his own. I notice it more and more as he is getting older and as he is able to do more things and it’s really making me step back a bit and let him be.

Thankfully I’m not to late to change my hovering ways. Instead of rushing to his side when he can’t climb off something or can’t figure out how to complete a task I have a few techniques I have had to use that I’ve had to teach myself:

  1. I tell him I’m coming, count to 5 and take a breath
  2. I walk over and I ask him if he needs help (although if he is on something high I move close to him straight away to prevent any accidents)
  3. (depending on his level of stress) I talk him through the task and support what he needs to do.
  4.  (once he achieves his goal) I celebrate with him

For example the technique play out something like this:

He climbs onto the bed and can’t get down so he usually starts to call me or express frustration (which in his case comes in the form of throwing something he has in his hand or lying face down):

  1. I count to 5 and ask him if he needs me.
  2. I sit on the floor below where he is trying to get off the bed and I ask him if he needs help getting off. (I try and be really specific with my question so I know what he is trying to do), I usually try and do this until he responds to me in some form. He is old enough now (16 months) to say yes or no to a question I’m asking him and I find expecting and answer from him tends to stop the outbursts of frustration and bring him back to the task at hand. This may be different for your child so just try a few different things until you find what works for you. 
  3. I explain to him that he needs to lie on his belly and slide off or just keep sliding off on his bottom if he wants to get off the bed. I also usually say something supportive like ‘it’s okay mommy will catch you if you fall’. I try not to sound rushed, judgmental, frustrated or change my tone of voice too much and most of the time manage to keep a soothing tone if I can. Pick your moments to teach though, sometimes we are rushing out the door and it’s easier to just pick him up, there will always be another time to teach him with patience.
  4. Once he has managed to get down (sometimes this can mean holding my hand or jumping into my arms in this example) I give him a cuddle, high five or clap hands for him and say something along the lines of “you did a great job trying to get off the bed, I’m so proud of you for not giving up”. I try not to use general terms like ‘good boy’ or ‘well done’ because I don’t want him to look to me for praise at every turn but I want him to feel proud of his achievements and his ability to try  instead of searching for acclaim from others.

It’s been a hard pill to swallow, I hate looking at what I do and realising I’ve been messing up. But I guess that’s all part of being a parent  and it’s not like I can’t change my behavior and or that I’ve done irreparable damage.

In fact, for me, that’s exactly what being a mom to this little man is all about. Evolving, changing, growing as he grows and making sure I check myself all the time. I don’t want to ever be the kind of mom that ignores her kid or neglects his needs and growth but I also think its really important to not over do and hover over everything he does and every interaction he has with other children. He needs me but he doesn’t always need my help, and that’s ok too

9 Months!

Ok I know, I know, I am very late in creating this post! In fact so late that I think we are only a few days away from him turning 10 months… whoops.

????????

Anyhoooooo, so our little munchkin is growing up. A whole 9 months have just flown by since this treasure joined our little family. The best part about having him around is that I can with all honesty in my heart say that I love him more today than I did when we first met (as if that could be possible) and I just adore spending time with him.
I think I might be one of those ‘weird’ moms who doesn’t want anyone to babysit and sees no reason what so ever to escape from my kid even for an hour or 2. Hubby and I have this arrangement that he gets Billy all to himself at least once a week and I get to go do shopping or errands etc. and as much as I sometimes look forward to it, the second I walk out the door all I want to do is run back inside, scoop him up and take him with me.

Mobile 048

But enough about me, Mr B is growing in leaps and bounds, although still no crawling or walking yet, he is meeting other developmental milestones quite well. In fact I was incredibly worried about his lack of movement (especially compared to other babies his age) but the more research I did and the more I spoke to other mommy’s and our doctor, the more I can see that 9 months and only just starting the crawling/walking stage was actually the norm in the past and it seems in this day and age of pushing our children to achieve and trying to make sure they hit their next hurdle/milestone we are actually making most of those milestones earlier than they used to be…. although if your baby is already doing those things I’m not saying that there is something wrong with that.
What he is lacking in gross motor skills he is making up for in other ways. Be it as simple as calling me (with a very cute mumma) to come get him when he wakes up, to using his fine motor skills to pick up a blueberry with his thumb and forefinger or point to stuff when you ask (although this may not happen all the time, it really depends on his mood). He even knows that a cow says moo and can give me a “high 5”.
We’ve been on some fun adventures together like getting a zoo pass and walking around looking at all the animals, taking a road trip down to Ulludulla, quite a few picnics in the park and of course lots of playdates.
Mobile 137 Mobile 066
Mobile 151

He is also starting to enjoy more experiences like munching into some juicy watermelon on a hot day, moving from his little bath to a big bath and having his first shared bath with his beautiful cousins, realizing he is at a birthday party (the last one we went to he pretty much slept all the way through it) and of course lots of Christmas fun (which I will try blog about separately).
Mobile 099 Blog 14
Blog 15 Blog 16

But man he is a cutie and is starting to show us his wonderful little personality traits. He is cheeky and shakes his head for no when we ask him to stop doing something, if he can help us pack away his toys or if he wants to go to bed. And of course a smile that will melt anyone’s heart. As much bragging as I can do about this kid, we do still have our odd bad day and I know just how lucky I am to be able to say that it is a rare occasion to have any tantrums or screaming and crying in our home.

???????? ????????

In fact I think that the most growing and changing to happen in our home is with me! Even before I had kids I thought I knew exactly what I was or would be doing. I’d see a screaming toddler in a shop and immediately think to myself “oh no poor kid, its clearly the parents fault”. Now I want to walk up to all mothers and give them a big hug and just tell them it’s going to be ok… well maybe not all mothers, but I am definitely not little miss judgmental anymore and have opened myself up to so many more ideas, methods and journeys. I had this great idea about what I would do if I was in a certain situation or what was good for my future child, I would look at other parents and think wow you really know how to discipline your kid. Now that our son has arrived I’ve come to realize that this little person in my arms has a personality all his own, a future only he can choose, a life only he can live and I have no control and shouldn’t want any control over that. My job as his mommy right now is to love the heck out of him and be his home and his safe place. If he is having a tough time facing something, if he doesn’t want to do something, even if he doesn’t want to go to someone else and only wants me, I need to respect his individual self and treat him like I would any other human being who would come to me in need. Most people can tell me I am babying him but as far as I can see he is still a baby and needs me to do exactly that, as he gets older I’m sure I will have to change the way I approach certain situations but for now all he needs from us is patience and love (oh an food of course)!

???????? ????????

???????? ????????

???????? ????????

????????

4 Months old and going strong!

Wow our little man is growing so quickly and doing so well. I can’t rave about him enough, in fact sometimes I feel like that’s all I talk about when someone asks me how I am doing… oops!
4 months

It’s amazing to see the subtle but amazing changes he is going through. Last month he discovered his hands and it was all awkward and he kept doing silly things like hitting himself in the face or grabbing things but not realizing he has them. Now instead of just flailing around his actions and movements are so much more slick and precise he can even grab his dummy now and is only days away from being able to put it back in his mouth. In fact everything goes in his mouth now, from my fingers to his favorite toy (Sophie the giraffe). He has even stretched the legs on one of his dangling toys just so he can get it into his mouth.
4 months 3

He is so close to rolling over I can feel it. When he is on his back he always lies with his legs so high up in the air he is almost touching his shoulders. He has managed to roll once or twice from lying on his tummy onto his back but I think that had more to do with the fact that his head is so heavy he couldn’t hold it up anymore and it ended up toppling him over by mistake. He is doing so well sitting up (with a bit of support of course) he can sit on my hip without bobbing up and down to much and we have tried him a couple of times in the high chair and he seems to be ok so far. So next month if he does really well holding his beautiful little head up we may even be ready to try some solids.
4 months 2

He really is such a joy, hardly ever cries anymore and when he does it’s getting much easier to figure out what is upsetting him, although we have had a few occasions where he just wakes up suddenly screaming his gorgeous little head off and all I can do to help him is cuddle him till he settles down. His smiles and giggles however keep us totally entertained and I often end up sitting around for hours just watching him. He loves laughing at Sean especially when he tickles his neck with kisses and he just doesn’t want to do it for me so I am contributing it to his beard cause he isn’t allowed to love his daddy more than me.
4 months 4

We really love this little man more and more each day, I know not everyone has the same experience with their first child but we can’t complain about him at all. From feeding and bathing, to playtime and sleeping we are loving every minute.

3 Freaking Months!

20130616-123942.jpg
How can it be that I am already writing a post about Billy being 3months old!
Well I guess this is all part of him growing up, but sometimes I wish he would stay a newborn forever 🙂
He is definitely growing though, I haven’t had him measured or weighed for a while but I can feel he is getting heavier by the day! He is also getting much stronger and is loving tummy time, he can lift his body up and if I hold his feet he even pushes himself forward. Just recently we noticed that he has discovered his hands, every time one goes past his eyes he notices it and stares at it for ages then happily pops it in his mouth and gives it a good chew. I can pretty much spend the whole day just watching him discover new things and playing with him.

My favourite part of his development is when he recognises my voice or sees me come in a room. His whole face just lights up like a sunbeam and on the odd occasion I might even get a giggle of excitement! It’s magical to see and fills my heart with gooey lovey dovey warmth.

Sean continues to be an amazing, hands-on daddy and I love watching them together. Young Billy has even given Sean a proper full-on laugh when he has been tickling him (which I have never managed to get out if him). They still have their one on one time every evening after I bath him and it works a treat in getting Billy settled for the night and I know Sean loves it too. In fact I can see Sean’s face brighten when Billy wakes up from a nap or in the mornings and he gets the first cuddle.

My love for this little man is growing by the day, I never knew how much I could love someone until he came along to the point where my heart often feels like it will burst or it brings me to tears just thinking about how awesome it all is! i must admit it is such hard work, I am quite tired, my house often looks like a tornado has just swept through and I hate the amount of second guessing I keep doing to myself but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

20130617-220945.jpg

My never ending story

20130606-212710.jpg
I found this pic on Facebook recently and it really rang true for me. When I was expecting and planning for our beautiful bundle of joy I imagined teaching him to sit/talk, doing crafts with him, watching him grow and learn new things and basically knowing by instinct what being a mom is all about.
What I wasn’t expecting was the monotony, the same routine day in and day out, the large amount of nappies I would be changing and washing, the forever feeling of tiredness and mostly the cleaning/washing that builds up and then finally gets done only for it to take a few hours to be at a some what critical level again.
Now please don’t get me wrong I love this little man and am enjoying all his milestones and it was me who chose to use cloth nappies and homemade wipes. But dammit I feel like a stuck record lately… Walking round the house thinking “didn’t I just do this yesterday, or was it last week?”

It’s frustrating and annoying. I love being busy and I always thought when I had children I could keep up with my own fun activities (I am a baking, crafting, sewing, creative loving wannabe) and still be a fun, cool kid focused mom. By alas so far that has not wrung true for me at all. I find my days merging into one another and by the time the weekend rolls in I can’t believe a week has passed me by and I haven’t done any of the things i wanted too or even left the house (I am ashamed to say sometimes I haven’t even changed the track suit pants I have been wearing all week… Baby boy is just gonna throw up/pee on the clean pair anyway!)

The saddest part of this monotony is I sometimes don’t feel like I spend enough time teaching Billy what he needs to know to progress, learn and develop as he should. I feel guilty almost everyday that maybe I should have spent more time talking to him or doing tummy time… I blame the internet for this, there are so many articles and advice on what you should do to give your baby/kids the best start they can have and now I compare myself to all those creative, perfect mums who think up all these cool things and do so many wonderful things with their kids! I kick myself and then try do some interacting with him but don’t know what I am doing so feel stupid and inadequate, I then put him to sleep and look round my house and kick myself for not using my time better and cleaning/cooking/fixing.

So does my never ending story end? Who knows, but hopefully as our babies become toddlers and our toddlers become children I can at least add a few more variations to the days and build on my knowledge! I guess that’s the best I can do for now 🙂

16 Weeks!

Wow… 16 Weeks, how quickly is this all going by? Just 4 weeks till we are half way through and ready to have our next scan!

I unfortunately haven’t been too well this last week with a horrible cold and since I can’t take any medication, it really knocked me out! But I am slowly on the mend and feeling much better already.

Thankfully the morning sickness is pretty much completely gone now (although when I was sick it came back with a bit of a vengeance).

Not too much else has changed yet although I am almost 100% sure I felt some fluttering in my belly so hopefully that will soon turn in to a proper kick! And of course the size of my belly is probably the most obvious thing to show I am pregnant. I have also been getting a little bit of broad ligament pain which has been very uncomfortable and my sleep has been very disturbed which is probably just my bodies way of training me for all the sleepless nights ahead.

But even with all these changes and experience (good or bad) it is so exciting and I am really starting to feel a bit more pregnant each time something happens.

We have also finally settled everything with the house and have our official move-in date on the 19th October. We are so happy to have it all sorted out and officially know when we get to move in.

I just can’t wait to unpack everything and start decorating the nursery, I have even got some ideas already and have been lucky enough to pick up some wonderful 2nd hand bargains.

We have decided not to find out the sex of the baby so everything we see or have gotten so far has been very neutral, which can actually be quite hard! Most things are either blue or pink, so we probably won’t get to much more till the kid pops out 🙂