Tuesday, 31 July 2012

{Point + Shoot} Lovely Weekend

This weekend was indeed lovely.

It started off on Friday, with afternoon tea with a work friend… I had my first attempt at macarons. They were ‘lemon meringue’ macarons – except that the lemon part was actually predominantly lime, since I have them growing in my garden. They were not perfect, but were totally delicious. I look forward to improving my technique with my next attempt!


We also had friends over for dinner that night. I don’t know if it was something I ate or a late night or stressful day a combination of any of these but for some reason I had an awful gall bladder attack. I have these on occasion, and this is my third in about two months. They’re awful, but not frequent enough for me to psych myself up for surgery (which as far as I’m aware is pretty much the only treatment).  I hope that will be my last for a while now! After being awake since around 2am, I had finally had enough at 5am and Pete got up with me and made us cups of tea and we watched the Olympic Opening Ceremony. Despite the yucky reason, it was a lovely way to start the day with my husband.


After a lazy morning, we went to help out at our church working bee for an hour or two, then met my sister and her hubby in the park for coffee… where I spotted the cutest plumbers crack I’ve ever seen!


Next was a quick trip down to the Bay, where we found picked up a fantastic bargain… our new MixMaster!!! I am so. flipping. excited about this!!


Sunday morning, Mayana looked after her little brother while Peter and I christened our new toy, making waffles for breakfast. Yum!


And for the second time since Reuben was born, we made it to church on time! (we start at 9:45am)


After church we headed to a cultural festival being held in a town not too far away. My sister joined us, and we met some of our friends down there. We had the best time… choosing delicious food to eat, eating waaaaay too much of it, enjoying fun music and perusing market stalls.


Bethanie enjoyed carrying Reuben around in my new and fantastic sling for a while.. (and do you like Reuben’s new hat!?)


And Mayana discovered a way to hitch a ride on our pram.


Our friends have the same pram as us, and I thought it was so funny… the two dads and their matching prams. Even funnier that at this point Pete was only pushing Mayana’s baby doll Georgie!


Reuben was quite happy to share his pram with Georgie though… at some points of the day he even joined her in it!


After filling up on savouries, we decided to try some amazing locally made ice-cream. There’s always room for ice-cream! Mayana loved having the day with her buddy Max.


His little sister Grace is just gorgeous, though wasn’t too impressed to be watching us all eating our ice-creams and not offering to share!


And just like that our lovely weekend was over. Home we went, to spend some time with our poor neglected baby chick (yes, really… more on that later)… then very early to bed.

I love weekends like this!!

Friday, 27 July 2012


Fourteen Weeks

Week 14

I love you beautiful boy. This week you have not been your normal happy self. We’ve still had some smiley moments, but you’ve cried more often than not. Despite that we’ve had plenty of fun, and a few firsts… your first beach visit, your first kid’s birthday party (well, where you were actually awake anyway!!) and your first giggle. I think you surprised yourself when you produced a laugh, and we’ve only heard it a few times since. You’re becoming a little more vocal, and starting to goo and coo a little more, which I absolutely adore. You’re *that* close to rolling over, if only that darn arm wouldn’t get in the way all the time! You’re a wriggle pot and can turn yourself around and off your sheepskin mat, and make your way from one end of the cot to the other while you’re supposed to be sleeping.

I love you Reubsy boy.

Mother’s Guilt

mother's guilt

Today I started supplementing Reuben’s feeds with formula, and this has opened a can of worms in my mind.

Despite the fact that Reuben is substantially bigger than his sister was at this same age, over the past few weeks his weight gains have been somewhat dismal. My child health nurse is wonderful, and has not once made me feel any kind of guilty, and has supported me to the hilt with my desire to exclusively breastfeed. For about the past month, Reuben has wanted to feed about every 1.5 hours through the day. Occasionally I can stretch him through to 2 hours but it can be a battle. While he was sleeping well at night, I could deal with this, telling myself that this was the price I paid to sleep well at night. However, for the past two weeks or so, Reuben has decided that feeding 2 hourly at night was also necessary. My wonderful husband has tried so hard to settle Reuben back to sleep without being fed to let me sleep, but the poor baby is actually hungry, and won’t be placated with anything but a feed.

Feeding Reuben anywhere between 10 to 12 times a day is utterly exhausting. Although he is a quick feeder, it takes up a lot of my time and means that I get less time to look after Mayana, the house, and myself. It also means that Reuben’s day sleeps have become terrible, since he is always waking up looking for food. When he feeds he is never still; he kicks and wriggles, pulls off and whinges. He has become less and less happy in general, and there have been days when I feel that all he does is cry.  Today when I took Reuben to be weighed, he had lost ten grams. Lost ten grams in spite of constant feeding. I couldn’t believe it. This is the second time in three weeks that he has pulled a negative number (he gained 200g+ last week and I thought we were well back on track). Alison asked me gently how I thought my supply was going. I honestly hadn’t thought about it. In my mind (and I’m sure I’ve blogged about it), Reuben was feeding more frequently because he was going through a growth spurt and was trying to up my supply. For a few days there I was getting that ‘full’ feeling again, and experiencing letdown when Rueben drank. When Alison asked me that today, I realised that I really wasn’t sure how it was going. I know that for the past few days I have not been able to tell which side I am up to when I’m feeding – which I really should since he only feeds on one side per feed. This I assumed was because he was full, but maybe it’s because he had exhausted himself trying to drink from the first side? I realised that Reuben falls asleep at the breast almost every time I feed him. Maybe because he is relaxed… but again, maybe because he’s exhausted himself?

All I know is that I’m giving him all I’ve got, and often at the expense of the rest of my family… and it’s not seeming that it’s enough.

I don’t want to paint Alison in a ‘typical health-worker who points to formula the second something looks “wrong”’ kind of light, because she is so far from that it’s not funny. Alison asked me today what I thought I should do. No prompting, no ideas or opinions. She told me to trust my instinct. And my instinct told me that Reuben is just not getting enough from me. I hesitantly, and with tears in my eyes, said to her, “I think I need to give him some formula.”

Mother guilt is a strange beast. In that moment I felt wildly guilty, and yet at the same time as though a huge weight had lifted off my shoulders. Guilty that I was letting him down by introducing some formula to him, but also guilty that I hadn’t maybe done it sooner and made my baby happier. Relieved that I don’t have to keep putting myself through the stress of this, and then guilty for feeling relieved. Terrified that once he gets a taste of the bottle he’ll reject me completely and just like that our breastfeeding relationship will be over.

The truth is, I haven’t been enjoying breastfeeding lately (ooh and there’s that guilt again). I love the idea that I am nourishing him, I love the special snuggles… but it’s been hard and frustrating and all. the. time. And it’s no fun when it’s like that.

I am at peace with the fact that my children will never be big kids. I know that when I started Mayana on supplement feeds she still didn’t start making massive weight gains, and at 3 years old she’s still only scraping in on the 3rd percentile on the weight graph. I don’t mind if my baby is not chubby or rolly. I am the first one to tell you that there has to be babies at both ends of the spectrum for those graphs to exist in the first place. I don’t want a big baby, and that’s not what it’s about. Even the weight gain thing doesn’t bother me (well, it does when he loses weight, if it’s slow I’m okay with that). What I do want though is a baby who is happy and healthy, and not hungry.

Today when I fed Reuben his first bottle of formula, he laid on my lap and drank. He didn’t fidget or kick or pull off or cry. He laid still and drank and drank, and within about 20 minutes, that 250mL of formula was almost completely gone. I fed him with tears running down my cheeks, telling him I was sorry, but I realise now that it’s okay with him. His tummy is full, it wasn’t a stressful experience for him. Maybe he was even a little bit relieved too. After I fed him, he burped but didn’t throw up. He always throws up, and after watching him guts so much milk, I’m somewhat baffled as to why? It will be interesting to see what difference this formula makes to his vomiting. I wrapped him up, put his dummy in his mouth, and laid him in his bed, with no protest. For the first time in weeks. He’s been in there for nearly an hour now, and I haven’t heard a peep. For the last two weeks, he’s been awake within 40 minutes, looking for another feed.

So yes. I’m relieved. And I’m feeling guilty. But right now, having processed my morning by writing about it here, the scales are starting to tip more towards relieved. I’m still planning on breastfeeding Reuben as well. At this point I will give him two bottles of formula, and 3-5 breastfeeds a day – mainly because this was the pattern that my very wonderful GP in Toowoomba suggested for Mayana when I started her on supplement feeds.

You know what? I’m a little bit proud of myself. Today I made a decision for Reuben, and God knows it was a hard one. I could have fought it and kept going with my two hourly breastfeeds because that’s what I think is the ideal thing. But instead, I swallowed my pride, and my Dutch stubbornness, listened to my Mama instincts and made a decision that I think will be the best one for Reuben… and for Peter and Mayana. Mother’s guilt can go jump.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Out and About

When you have a baby, your life can quite easily slip into revolving around them. You like to be home for sleep time, be somewhere convenient for feed time… and before you know it you find yourself housebound.

I tend to go a bit crazy when that happens to me. I get mopey and over it – especially if the weather is foul like it has been so often lately! I need to talk to big humans, and to be out, having a life. This week I’ve been making more of an effort to do that. I’ve been walking into town, exploring parts of of it that I haven’t before, and enjoying the fresh air and exercise.

Today, I got really brave. I decided to take the two kids off to the beach (and for a spot of shopping) on my own for the day. Eeek!

I let Reuben have his morning sleep nap at home, then off we set. First we went to a shop that my sister discovered a few weeks ago, that sells all types of bulk food.. grains, bread mixes, flours, dried fruits, nuts, lollies…. it’s all kinds of great. I loved looking at everything, even if I was slightly distracted by the baby strapped to the front of me sleeping (see we don’t have to be at home after all!), and the three year old who wanted to touch everything. The bribe promise of the beach was enough to keep her going, and before too long we were off!


It was such a beautiful sunshiny day today. Mayana was insistent that it was a warm summer day, but the water definitely reassured us all that it’s still definitely winter.



We sat on the grass near the sand, and Mayana ran on the beach and collected shells and built “tainer castles” (with her container, since we left her bucket at home), and chased the ducks (who were actually seagulls) and had the time of her life.



After a feed, Reuben laid happily on his blanket, in the shade of his pram and enjoyed the feeling of grass and sand between his toes for the first time ever. My poor winter baby has very rarely been barefooted, and he seemed quite happy to be sock-free for a while!


Mayana came back for the occasional snuggle, and to tell ‘Reubsi-Cubes’ that when he got a big boy he could play in the sand with her too!


Reuben didn’t seem to bothered by the fact that he was confined to his blanket though.


While Mayana played, he got uninterrupted Mama time.


Before we left, Reuben and I wandered down onto the sand so Mayana could show us some highlights. These included a large piece of driftwood that Mayana was convinced was the tail of a big huge whale. It did in fact look quite whale-tail like.


Reuben loved poking his toes into the warm sand, and cried when I picked him up.


Mayana gathered her spoils, and I told her that she could choose three pieces to take home with us to add to the incredibly large amount of shells that she already owns.

I had such a lovely time with my favourite kids today, and I’m going to keep my eyes and mind on the memories of the beach… and not the scream-fest that happened when we got home. This was the second afternoon in a row that I’ve ended up with half an hour of two screaming crying children who desperately need to sleep and yet refuse to. But. I’m not going to think about that. I’m going to think about sun and sand and waves crashing and smiling babies with happy toes and carefree three year olds laughing and twirling and running.

It’s a much prettier picture.

Friday, 20 July 2012

{3 Months}

My darling Reuben

I can hardly believe that three months has gone already. You are such a part of our lives sweet boy, that it’s hard to imagine that you’ve only been around for thirteen weeks.


This months it feels like you have ‘grown up’ so much. You no longer live by a cycle of eat-poop-sleep. You have lots of happy awake time now, and you are learning new things every day. You smile a lot. Especially at strangers. You are such a flirt when we are out and about, and I even have shopkeepers asking for cuddles!!


You are getting bigger, slowly but surely. You are a bit over 4.5kg now, not too far from doubling your birth weight. When I look back at your sister’s weight records, she was nearly a full kilo lighter at this age than you… so people who give me a hard time about how small you are don’t know what small is!

baby mays2Baby Maysi IMG_1466Baby Reuben..

You’ve put yourself into a bit of routine lately. It’s quite flexible – it has to be because unfortunately our days cannot always revolve around you! However you are happy to have your sleeps in the pram, car or sling (oh how you love the sling!), and even if we’re out you still follow your little routine to a degree.


You had been almost sleeping through the night, but over the last week you have reverted to waking a few times (last night was more than a few times *yawn*) to feed. Our lovely child health nurse, Alison, assures me that you are right on schedule for a growth spurt, and that you are busy working on increasing my milk supply. I hope you’re done with that soon!


Another fun thing you have learned this month is that you can control your hands! You think they’re just great, and you delight in getting various fingers and/or thumbs into your mouth and having a good old chew and suck. Sometimes you get a bit over zealous and stab yourself in your gums with your nails, or make yourself gag but shoving your hands too far inside your mouth. When this happens you look at me as if it were my fault!

You also like to grab things with your hands. Sometimes it’s my hands (or Papa’s or whoever happens to be holding onto you), and they also tend to go straight into your mouth for a munch. Just in the last few days you’ve shown a lot more interest in your toys, and you like to hit or grab them or, of course, put them in your mouth.

Playing with your toys in the car…

You are drooling like crazy, and when I had a look in your mouth the other day I spotted two tiny white teeth under the surface of your lower gum. Mayana cut her first teeth at around four months, I wonder if you will beat her, or if those teeth will sit there taunting us for a few more months!

While you smile freely and often, you still haven’t figured out how to laugh yet, and I am so looking forward to the day when you do. You like to make happy coos every now and again, but you’re not much of a chatterbox just yet (give you time, I’m sure!)


Mayana is still one of your favourite people in the world. She makes you so happy, and you give huge gummy grins whenever she enters your line of vision. You seem to miss her when she has her days at kindy, and when she gets home you will not let her out of your sight. You love it when she sings to you, and watching her play is your new favourite  pastime. I know you just can’t wait to be able to get down there and join in! We have been putting you in the bumbo occasionally, and that gives you the opportunity to get a little bit more involved in your big sister’s games – or at least a little closer to them!

Your sister loves to sing to you..

Another favourite activity of yours is bathtime. It doesn’t matter whether it’s in the tub or the shower, you just love being in the water. We have a little towel bath stand that we lay you in in the bath, and you grin and squirm and kick like crazy. If your sister happens to be in the bath with you, you look so happy you could just about bust! In the shower you snuggle into me or Papa, and when we let the water run over your back and head you close your eyes and enjoy the sensation.


Reuben, I just love your guts buddy, and I am enjoying getting to know you. I know that this next month is when you will really start to become super alive and alert, and I’m looking forward to learning more about your personality.


I love you, my precious Sunshine.


Thursday, 19 July 2012


Today is a pretty auspicious day. Not only is Mr Reuben 13 weeks old, but today also marks 3 months to the day that he came into our lives, on that unexpected morning back in April. Amazing. I’ll write a proper three month post very soon, but for now, enjoy these photos from the thirteenth week of Reuben John’s life.

Week 13

We’ve had a pretty cruisy week this week. Lots of hanging out at home, catching up on washing… boring stuff like that. It’s good though, it’s meant that we’ve been able to get Reuben into a better routine, meaning that Mayana and I get to have a bit more focussed time together.. so everyone’s happy.

Reuben moved into his cot this week, and doesn’t seem any the worse for it. He looks so tiny in there, and Mayana is excited to have her brother all officially moved into their room with her.

He also had his first go in the bumbo. He is probably a little small for it yet, but he enjoyed the opportunity to be sitting upright and thought he was very clever.

I just love this kid, and his personality is starting to shine through more and more. I can hardly remember what life was like without him in it.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Make a Quilt!

Seriously, I have just finished a quilt for Reuben’s cot (which he’s moving into soon!) and I thought I’d show you how to do it so you can make one too! It’s the easiest quilt ever… if you can sew in a straight line then you can make it… and seriously it wouldn’t even matter if you couldn’t sew in a straight line, you could still make this quilt look good!

Also, as far as quilts go, it’s quite inexpensive to make, since it’s made completely from flannelette. So as far as I’m concerned, you have no excuse not to give this quilt a go!!


I’ve made other quilts using this technique but always smaller. I have a rainbow one that I use with Reuben.. it goes everywhere with us and sits in the pram or highchair or on the ground for a playmat if we’re at a friend’s house. They’re soft and thick enough to be comfortable. They also wash and wear really well, because the more you wash them the better they look!

Okay. So the first thing you need to do is choose fabric. I got this cute cot panel with jungle animals a few months ago, and decided to chop it up for the purposes of a cute quilt. For this blanket, you need to cut out lots of squares, all of flannelette. The quilt is made of four layers. So make sure each of your patchwork squares is a stack of four layers.


To be honest with you I didn’t even use a tape measure for the project. The size of my squares was based on the animal pictures from my original panel. The other blankets I have made had much smaller squares. You can do it however you want! And I ripped my fabric. I don’t usually do that because it makes your fabric fray (especially with flannelette) but in this quilt, that turns out to be a good thing, so go ahead, tear it. It feels good, doesn’t it? Okay. So make your stacks of squares, and lay out your quilt to get it into a design that you like. Now you start work on the squares. Half of your squares are going to have your fluffy, frayed design, and the other half are going to be plain. Obviously, I made my animal prints the plain ones, but like before, do what suits your fabric!


For your plain squares, you want to sew across them, from corner to corner like a big X. This really is just to hold all of your layers together. You don’t want them to come apart. If you are using printed squares, choose a light coloured cotton that will blend in. If your squares are plain, you might like to choose a funky bright colour to make it part of your design.


Your alternate squares are going to have the funky fluffy frayed look. To achieve this you have to follow a couple of steps. In all the other quilts I’ve made like this I’ve only used this diagonal idea. Basically, you need to sew straight lines about 1.5cm apart. They can be narrower or wider if you want, but you need to make sure you can fit your scissors in-between the lines.


Because the next step is to cut in-between each of your sewed lines.


For the love of God, please don’t cut straight through your square. You need to make sure that your bottom layer stays intact, you only want to be cutting through the top three layers. Otherwise, your whole square is going to end up in pieces, and you will probably end up in tears. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything.


Once you’re done, you’ll have a sore hand, and a square that looks something like this. See the pretty blue layers in-between showing through? Make sure that your inside layers are a nice contrasting colour, because you will see them.


For this quilt I got a little shmancy and sewed some different designs in my fluffy squares. You can do pretty much any design you want, just remember that you need to be able to fit your scissors between the lines.


Trippy huh?


Next, lay out all your squares and get ready to sew them all together! I like labelling my squares, because I have a three year old who likes to rearrange things.


Okay. Sewing together. The thing with the quilt is that you don’t want to hide your seams. They’re part of what makes the thing look so darn great. So when you piece your quilt together, the trick is to sew with the ‘wrong’ sides facing each other, and the ‘right’ sides out.


You probably want to give about a 1.5cm seam allowance. Make sure you’re catching all of your layers, and try really hard not to let your cut strips bunch up or fold over.

I usually sew up each row, then sew the rows together. Make sure that you have your rows facing the right way up when you put them together, because there’s nothing more frustrating than having to unpick a row when you find you have an upside down giraffe. Again, not speaking from experience or anything!


Ta da! Now there are only three more steps…. the first one is that you need to sew a ‘hem’ around the entire edge of your blanket. Not a real hem, this quilt is far too cool for boring things like hemming. Just sew a line about 1.5-2cm all the way around the edge of your blanket.


Your second-last step is to do little snips around your ‘hem’. You want to cut about 1.5cm apart or so, and don’t cut into your hem line. This step just helps make the fraying on the outside not get too out of hand.

Your last step is to wash your blanket. Seriously, this is an important step, as it starts of the fraying process and makes your blanket look awesome. If you can put it through the dryer too, even better.


And there you have it! You might like to tidy up some of your edges, and some of the longer strands on your frayed squares will need to be trimmed. This is seriously one of the easiest quilts you could make.


{And in case you’re wondering this is what the back looks like}

Now, what are you waiting for?? Go sew!!


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