Friday 29 January 2010

TGIF – Thank GOODness it’s Friday!

Friday is the best day of the week. The promise of two whole days where we can sleep a bit later and I don’t have to wake Mieka up to dress her. One of the ultimate worse things of being a working mother is to have to wake the baby to drop her early at day care. I hate it!
I have been carrying a sleeping Mieka in at the day care twice this week, but as soon as I put her into the cot, she starts screaming. Then I feel out-of-whack for the rest of the day…
My body clock is also not operating from five when my alarm goes off. But it works the best for me to go in earlier to miss some of the hectic rush hour traffic.

But I have lots to be thankful for. Especially that I have a job to go to.
My day was getting much better this morning when I got a job offer lying in my email from Washington DC. I was thinking of immediately deleting it, but Dries said we must investigate. He would love to go overseas…
That comfort zone… VERY comfortable at the moment! (Smile!)

Photo: Mieka sleeping in the tent during the holidays! (The fascination I have with a sleeping baby…)

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Thursday 28 January 2010

Through the eyes of the teen: Chill please!

The teen teaches us to look at the world in a new way, again. We recognize it because once we were there as well. It is optimism and conservatism. The world is black and white!
The indignant exasperation when the world does not revolve around a certain set of rules. We wish we could stay there – taking up of arms - and not just shrug our shoulders at all the injustices of the world. I hope we as adults help her to keep the na├»ve believe in a world where we are able to make it better! Not just to accept as it is! Not to say to her: “O, well, this is just how it is!”
We will guard ourselves against the fatalistic approach!
We haven’t seen the rebellious teenager that is supposed to have popped up by now! I don’t think we will see a rebel. If there is sometimes a little flare-up, it is usually because of miscommunication or misunderstandings about important stuff! (Important to us, at least, Smile)
I have a theory that rebellious teenagers are an indication that something is not A-Okay at home, but maybe I am wrong?
We hear on a regular basis! “Chill, please!”
But it gets to us when she loses a key, and thinks it is okay to make it better and final with a “Sorry!” Maybe it is okay, and maybe we should be the Chillers. It is very frustrating!
Putting it on a scorecard. It is great to have a teen within our midst. The excitement about boyfriends, and functions, and new clothes, and friends, and the future! The world is young and alive, and they are there to claim it for themselves!
Aaahh, I love her youthful exhilaration about life!

(Photo: Arnia before the award ceremony)

Tuesday 26 January 2010

Breastfeeding the toddler: positives and negatives

It is going very well breastfeeding the baby. She is 13 months. While I can’t see any negatives for me or the baby, I will keep on breastfeeding.
She gets formula during the day at day care, but during the evenings, nights, early mornings; and over weekends it is breast milk.

Positives in continuing with breastfeeding after 1 years of age
- Baby gets the best nutrition possible.
- Bonding time with the baby is continuing.
- It is a soothing mechanism.
- Baby is not particularly fond of a dummy (no need to later struggle getting rid of the dummy or bottle)
- We don’t have to prepare bottles with formula.
- We save on formula.
- Apparently it is also very good for the mother’s health to continue after one year of age: “lowering their own risk of a heart attack or stroke.” (MilkUK)
- I am able to work, and still breastfeed late afternoon and during the night.
- (We are able to leave her with other people for a while, because she drinks bottle as well.)

Negatives in continuing with breastfeeding
- Difficult to get baby to stay focused while breast feeding. She wants to look around as well. (I am not able to breastfeed in public anymore; baby opens up the blanket when I try to put it over her head. Smile)
- Mother always has to be in the vicinity when baby needs her feed, especially difficult during the night.
- Struggle to sooth baby with the bottle or a dummy.
- We cannot leave baby for long periods with other people because she is still depending on breastfeeding. (Not a big problem, because we don’t want to)
- Baby bites with her new teeth! (Smile)
- Reason why we still struggle with sleeping at night?

My vote goes to breastfeeding and to try and continue for as long as possible. I will give her the opportunity to indicate when she wants to wean. Possibly at two years of age? I have heard that 2 years is a good time to stop? What do you think?

(Photo: The frown that pops up quite regularly now)
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Monday 25 January 2010

Dog (owners) clicker training

The dog (actually us) got her first clicker training on Saturday. We thought she was unmanageable and it turns out she is very smart! We bought a Miniature Pinscher, but we got more of a Dachshund in the deal. The constant yapping is a good indication of the mix between the two breeds! Unfortunately you cannot give back a dog like you give back faulty equipment, so we are stuck with her. (And we love those big brown eyes too much in any case). But we had to make a plan to make her more pleasant to be around with…
She was spayed as well on Thursday, and when we got her back, she was the pleasurable dog we always wanted. Shame! It must have hurt, but we enjoyed her lying quietly with us on Thursday evening. Arnia even kept her in her room for the night, but by Friday morning she was her bouncy self again. (What other operations can we send her for? Smile)
I am very impressed with the clicker training. After 30 minutes Arnia got her to sit and to lie down. And we are seeing a remarkable change in her behaviour already! Not the all-over-the-place mad dog we were getting fed-up with! The secret is apparently to catch the dog doing the thing you want them to learn. The dog’s bum hits the ground; click-food. Now Petite Peu sits whenever she is around us. The promise of food works every time.
I was contemplating of incorporating the clicker training in my disciplining of Mieka as well. If it works for dogs, it will surely work for kids as well? Rather catch them doing positive things, than focusing on disciplining the negative…
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Thursday 21 January 2010

The toddler is 13 months & THE DIET starts today!

13 months today! She is waving to us with open arms, not the “come-here” hands of earlier. And she is able to get up by herself from the floor, and stand for a second or so. But that’s it! Walking without holding onto things, or the finger, is not yet an option…
At day care they move the babies to another class when they start walking. It worries me, because I think it is good for them to stay for a bit longer in the same class with the same caregiver. Mieka, take your time…
The frown is also a regular feature nowadays. I will try to get a photo. She frowns when she is unsure, or when we bother her. Utter cuteness! (Says the mom who thinks everything she does is cute, in any case!)
(Photo: Kwa Maritane: Another pointy finger)

I stood on the scale at the dietician this morning. It is one of those scales who gives you your whole history and where there’s no more bullshitting! It even gives you your metabolic age, but I am not going to divulge it. I feel too embarrassed about these huge details! The fake healthy until you are did not do the trick.
I have to eat better, and exercise!
I am stiff today for climbing stairs the day before yesterday (the second day is always the worst), and it’s a good reminder of the effort I will have to exert.
Unfortunately it doesn’t help to know all the health tips, but not to put it into practice… (Duh, Karen!)
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Mieka: The personality of the toddler

Tuesday 19 January 2010

Powerwoman is on top of The Quickening

I need to step out into the fast lane, because it feels like it is going way too fast for me! Am I the only one, or are there other people out there also feeling as if everything is going much quicker than before?
I heard (have no idea where) that there is a quickening in time, but maybe it is only in my mind?
January is speeding by, and I haven’t yet started with my new year’s resolutions. My gym bag was packed this morning, but when I opened my car boot at work this morning…no gym bag. Sabotaging myself?
It also feels as if I can’t get up to speed at work as well. Something to do with the toddler waking us up every hour of the night? She has a bit of a cough.
But enough of the whining!
Powerwoman is here, in 2010! I am ready for you.
See me speeding by in the fast lane!

Monday 18 January 2010

The personality of the toddler

The note from the day care states that she is a well-behaved little girl, and that she enjoys the company of the other babies. How much of the behaviour that we see now in the toddler is part of the person that she is?
We are making assumptions about the little people, and I think we sometimes get it wrong. We superimpose our own personality traits on our children, thinking that in some way they are carbon copies of us. But we tend to forget that they are their own individuals from the very beginning. Am I making a correct assessment, or am I over-thinking it again?

Mieka has many quirks and traits. The blog is a way of capturing it.
She seems to be very cautious with regards to new experiences or things. She doesn’t like to rush into things. When we try to push her, we only get loud protests and kicking legs.
She tends to bite on her gums or folding her bottom lip inwards (see photo). Is it a sign of concentration/stress, or is it the teeth really bothering her? I am glad that the day care sees a good little girl. Because we find her constant demands on our attention very exhausting! Does it imply that she is a different person at the day care than she is at home with us?
She frowns easily, but laughs easily as well. But somebody in the family has described her already as a serious little girl. Especially when she concentrates on new experiences. She loves looking at small things and exploring it with her hands. We don’t hear a thing from her when we push her in her pram in the malls, looking at the people and everything around her.
Now she is at her happiest when she is walking, holding on to a finger. The pointy finger is still pointing like a berserk compass, not knowing where north is, and we are able to show her anything. She is easily distracted! (This is not going to last, I hear. Smile)
I hope we will remember how sweet this time is with her, and how she makes us smile countless times during the day. When she laughs, we laugh as well…
Thank you, Mieka, for the joy!

Families on different continents

It was great to see my sister Ronel and husband Anton during the holidays. They are leaving tomorrow after their visit to see the family and friends AND the South African Bushveld. They are now permanent residents in London. My younger brother Wynand has got British citizenship already, and he is also staying in London.
Sis Ronel planned the Bushveld holiday in detail (as she always enjoys to do), and we enjoyed catching up with them in the bush. We speak on a regular basis while they are there, but it is not the same as seeing each other in person. The family gatherings, especially, feel incomplete without them. It is a sad case of affairs that so many of us have to leave the country to make their livelihoods elsewhere.
I was struck by the fact that we who are staying in South Africa are not in such a bad place. There is the crime and the political and social situation that makes us uneasy, but it seems that there is not a place where they don’t have their own problems. We have our lovely weather and our space around us! South Africans start to complain after three days of rain… We are not used to being miserable! (Smile)
We now have a little one to consider again. We advise our children to prepare themselves to live and work overseas, but secretly we hope that they will be able to stay. We sometimes discuss our own emigration, but we do not have the same destinations in mind. I disqualify all the cold places immediately! Usually the discussion ends in limbo… Probably also because we don’t have the big bank balances or head hunters who are eagerly awaiting our skills in another country!
For now we are staying! Big bother! …. NOT! (Evil grin!)
But we are going to miss you, Ronel and Anton! Thanks for the lovely holiday with you!
(Photo: Sis Ronel and hubby Anton, at Kwa Maritane, lazing in the sun)

Friday 15 January 2010

Day two back in reality - school, day care and work report back

It is going well in 2010 for the family. We are back at our stations!
The teen is back at school – complaining about her class teacher, but happy to be reunited with the BF. She is planning to work hard in grade 11. They are planning with the French teacher for the French tour in 2011… (Of course it is a big headache for the parents who are going to have to finance it. I hope our ship is sailing already…)
The toddler is back at day care. It went very well when I went to drop her off. She was in such awe of the other babies; she did not even notice that she had been put down on the ground. (She usually complains loudly, and stretches her body to get upright.)
The day care person is very sweet. She reckons the babies/toddlers recognised her after the holidays. She also noticed no difference in Mieka; no spoilt behaviour. (Sigh of relief!!) I felt a slight bit jealous when one of the toddlers, she is two weeks younger than Mieka, is walking like a chump.
Why do we do it to ourselves? Comparing them? In a while Mieka is going to walk as well… We actually have a few weeks of grace before we are going to have to run after her. Arnia and I tried to get her to walk for a few steps yesterday afternoon, but Mieka would not have any of it. The finger or nothing!
I am back at work as well. After a day of wading through emails, and starting to work, it feels like I have never left! But I am not complaining. I have a great job listening to radio programmes and cataloguing them. Great to see my colleagues as well! Really! REALLY! (Evil smile)
Dries is still on holiday, but running around between the office and home. Unofficially he has started to work as well! I tried to start dinner with rice on the stove, but after it started to pop (not enough water or attention), I phoned Dries and we resorted to pizza! Real rescue food!
Healthy eating starts today! Today, Karen!! (Grimace)

Thursday 14 January 2010

The toddler is going back to day care

The joys of being a working mother!
We have left the toddler at day care again. I was on leave for three weeks. I started to work this morning! I am sad all over again. It feels like the first time when she was four months and three weeks and I had to go back to work again. She is now nearly 13 months old! I hope she will be okay and that she won’t feel deserted.
I have written a note to the new day care person/mother who has been appointed in the meantime after the previous one was fired last year. I hope she will be a very caring person. And I hope Mieka will like her. When they are as young as Mieka - babies and toddlers – the worry is always there that they won’t be able to verbalise when something is wrong.
Mieka has been spoiled rotten during the holidays. We, the parents and my family, were walking with her and holding her the whole time. The pointy finger and the shrieking got the attention she wanted. I hope the day care people are not going to complain and that she is going to be a sweet little angel. Maybe she will be so fascinated with her friends at the day care… (Thumbs crossed!)
Mieka is starting to walk three steps on her own. Her face beams when she has completed the steps on her own. It is VERY cute! But she still prefers to hold onto our fingers, and to complain until we rescue her with the finger. She has skipped the crawling altogether, and we rarely see the crab crawling now. She is by all means vertically mobile! The Year of the Toddler is showing big promises!

Tuesday 12 January 2010

RIP Bushveld holiday

(Photo: Mabula Game Reserve swimming pool)
We are beginning to surface in real life. We arrived back from holiday in the Bushveld tonight. It was shear bliss! Bushveld all around us, pitch black skies with stars, wild life and happy times with family! (Thanks again, sis Ronel and Anton, for inviting us with you).
It was a great way to start 2010. We managed to sidestep the half of January already. The teen is starting in grade 11 tomorrow. She said she can’t wait for school to start. I wanted to record her saying it, but I just got an irritated “No, Ma!”
The toddler enjoyed the whole experience thoroughly. And through her eyes we enjoyed it even more. She was into all the small little things. The birds, and lizards, and dung beetles, and flowers. She has a very cute way of calling to them. Stretching out both of her hands, and motioning with her fingers as if to say “come here”, but it looks like she is waving. She did not see the crocodiles when Arnia tried to show her (probably because they did not move). But she saw the elephants which came last night to disrupt the bush braai (barbeque) at Modjadji at Mabula Game Reserve. She also waved at them. It was very exciting to see the elephants so close, but the game rangers had to warn the guests time and again not to get to close. Strange how easily people can think that it is not dangerous when there is a pole in between and there are a large group of people.
Tomorrow it is back to reality. AAARGHHH!

(Photo: Mother and baby white rhino this morning on the game drive)

Sunday 10 January 2010

Five things to remember when camping with a toddler

To camp with a little one is a bit more difficult than doing it on your own. I am sure that she will enjoy it when she is older (although the teen does not share our enthusiasm. Smile!). With the toddler there are more practicalities to be considered.
1. Do not set up camp too near to other tented neighbours. Their noise keeps baby awake, and it also tends to wake the baby more. When baby cries, you also worry about waking your neighbours.
2. Be very organised with regards to suitcases and crates. Know exactly what is in each. We haven’t yet perfected our system, and it becomes very difficult to search for something you know you packed, but don’t know where. (I am still surprised how something seems to disappear in bags and/or suitcases.)
3. Do not switch the fridge on the hot setting. (Dries is adamant he checked it twice, but check again.)
4. Do not keep the food in the part of the tent where it can be stolen from baboons. We missed our morning rusks the most!
5. Go with the flow – as with everything else when experiencing life with a baby/toddler! It’s fun! Mieka enjoyed the birds, and the ants, and the trees, and the grass/ground, and the tent, and... The pointy finger kept us busy!
We are still signed out from life, and enjoying the glorious weather while on holiday in South Africa.

Photo: Mieka and Arnia (who did not stay with us, but with the rest of the family in the chalet) in the tent while busy setting up camp in Manyane in Pilansberg.

Thursday 7 January 2010

Camping with the toddler

Great way to start the New Year! On holiday; camping and swimming and driving around in the bush with family. It feels like we have signed out of real life for a couple of days and our biggest worry is how to put away our food. Baboon troubles...
The camping is proving to be a big challenge with regards to the toddler. The camping cot came with us, but as soon as we put her into it in the evenings, she starts to kick vigorously. She has been sleeping with us on the mattresses in the tent, and we are hanging with our bums on the floor, trying to get a bit of sleep. The fresh air did not change the little missy’s sleeping patterns. Most probably it is also the strange surroundings...
Luckily we are spending our days at the family’s chalet at Kwa-Maritane where they have a small swimming pool. We are the lucky fish! (Thanks Anton and Ronel (my sister); for coming to holiday from London and organising and inviting us with them.)
And there are the grandparents and family members who walk with Mieka with the pointy finger! She keeps (us)/them very busy! I am on page 89 of my book – a big accomplishment for 2010 already. This book I am going to finish this year!
Tonight is our last night camping at Manyane, and then we are moving in with my sister and her husband into a chalet in Kwa-Maritane. We haven’t camped in quite a while (Year of the Baby), but these last few days have wetted our appetites for more. One of our resolutions: to camp more often in our glorious weather! We just need to get much more organised with the way we pack and do our camping. We are spending most of our time looking for stuff we know we brought with us, but can’t remember where we put it in... (The joy of camping! Big Smile!)

Friday 1 January 2010

The Year of the Toddler (New Year’s resolutions)

It’s always a good idea to start a new year with resolutions. I had years where I said I do not have any resolutions! I was of the opinion then that it’s not worth it; resolutions are being made and get broken very easily. But it’s not very motivating to not have resolutions, and at the end of the year you can’t take stock of what has been achieved!
Last year (2009) took us by surprise with the baby! I did not have time/energy/motivation to work on resolutions. It feels like we had a year of survival! Surviving the baby! (Smile!) That was our only focus for a year. And it was a great year! Dries also says it is extremely gratifying to experience life with a little one – he would have been much poorer without her. Ditto for me as well!
But Mieka is a year old now, and she is becoming her own person and more and more mobile.
This year is going to be one of resolutions in progress. This year is going to be one of goals! I am going to work on a full set of resolutions: family, physical, spiritual, mental, financial, and vocational...
There is a sense of optimism in the air. A positive vibe is embracing us all. The Year of the Toddler is going to be a good one for the family! The Teen is also going to be a source of joy for the family, as she has been the previous year!

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