Thursday, 25 October 2012

pregnant prayers

Although I always knew that one day I would have children and raise them in the country, the twins were somewhat unexpected and arrived to two ill-prepared parents. When I say ill-prepared I don't mean we didn't give them what they needed emotionally and physically, but we didn't realise how MUCH we would have to give them.
Looking back now I have to admit that although I adored my babies, the first year was not a blissful state of unfolding sentimental moments but more like the toughest year of my life. Overnight it was required that I adjust to two screaming premature babies, a partner who I had barely had time to get used to living with, the loss of a career and my parents-in-law, who bless their hearts were more than giving, but who I hardly knew and were suddenly in my daily life. In short I felt out of control and totally spoken for before I even had the time to catch my breath. 
But like they say Life never deals you a hand you cannot handle and I believe that through tears, gritted teeth, laughter and love I, and my family, have survived and actually done pretty well: the twins are happy, I am happy and my marriage is strong. 
And now in four months, five years after my first birth I will have another baby. So far the pregnancy has gone well, apart from the fact that even though I only have one baby in my belly I feel much heavier than with the twins and have had to slow down more than I had hoped to. But I am excited for this child and confess that I'm allowing myself to daydream and perhaps set myself up for potential disappointment: its only one so surely I will be able to breast feed easily, get more sleep and simply enjoy myself and my baby more than last time? 
Delivering the twins was a disappointment for me. After bravely announcing at their conception that I would give birth outside under the moonlight with a midwife, I ended up being convinced into having a c-section and very few of my birth-plan requests were fulfilled. The babies were not given to me immediately to bond and latch but whisked away to incubators immediately after delivery. With no real advice or support with feeding, Charles and I battled to get get their tiny mouths to latch. In a post-op blur I let the nurses take charge and only realised 24 hrs later that they were "topping" my babies up with formula because they said my milk was taking too long to come in! After reading more on this I now know that colostrum is all a baby needs in the first days after birth and your body will produce adequately for them as needed. 
Being no different to animals, conceiving and birthing a child is another reminder that we are of this earth just like all living beasts and we have everything we need to provide for our babies. If we cannot do it after good time then the medical experts can step in, but we must at least give it our best shot.
So this time I plan to keep my inner wisdom in my consciousness and allow it to take charge of birthing this baby. Thanks to an amazing book The Mama Bamba Way, written by a South African mid-wife Robyn Sheldon, I am convinced that unless something dreadfully unforeseen crops up I, like all women, have what it takes to bear my baby naturally.
Having declared all of this so confidently I also now know that one cannot be too idealistic when it comes to parenting, as every situation is unique and if you cannot live up to your own expectations you need to allow your ideals to be defeated and choose another route graciously. At the end of the day, as mothers, we do know what is best for ourselves and our babies and we must remember to never judge those that do it differently, because there is nothing like a child to bring you down to earth and face the facts.
So I will allow myself to dream and hope for a successful natural birth (in hospital, because of the prior cesarean), easy breast feeding, enough sleep and to be back on my horse and surfboard weeks after delivery! But I will bear in mind that all of this is held precariously in the hands of fate and I will need to bend whichever way the wind blows on the day that my third child is brought into the world.

Monday, 22 October 2012

mooning about in the outeniquas

There is nothing better than a weekend getaway with your family. To me it’s a precious little gift to oneself and one’s family, because let’s face it weekends can so often consist of catching up on work, kiddies birthday parties and social engagements which leave you more exhausted on Monday morning than you felt on Friday! Getting away to somewhere close but different forces one out of the “busy” habit and into relaxing and catching up on vital family time.
We recently discovered a gem: Outeniqua Moon Percheron stud and guest farm at the foot of the Outeniqua mountains near Mossel Bay. Reasonably priced and within a good driving distance from anywhere in the Garden Route, this little piece of paradise is well worth a visit.
The simple and charming self-catering cottages are tastefully and romantically decorated, giving one a sense of country luxury. As my daughter put it, “This place is better than I thought it would be. There are even gold taps!”

And if you really feel like a break from the usual domesticity order a delicious meal of your choice from hosts Christine and Peter, which is served in the dining room and followed by a decadent helping of desert.
But it is all for the love of horses that Outeniqua Moon exists and getting to know the gentle giant Percherons is a great way to while away a morning, whether its feeding and grooming - which Christine happily allows children to be involved with - or getting a ride around the farm with Bobby and his cart.
There is no shortage of kiddie entertainment from horses, bunnies and a well thought out play area to swimming and walking. And if you are feeling a little more adventurous hikes and 4x4 tracks are also easily accessible in the surrounding Outeniqua mountains.
I found Outeniqua Moon to be the perfect family getaway and left feeling rested and content…which could also have been from the magical tranquillity the gentle Percheron horses exude.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

boot camp or not?

Of all the skills required to be a reasonably adequate parent I find the area of discipline the most challenging. And I'm sure I am not the only parent to feel this.
Disciplining your child lovingly and fairly while also instilling a deep understanding that under no circumstances may she repeatedly spit bath water all over the floor is quite difficult - to put it mildly. I have  tended to want to approach most misdemeanors with a severe tongue lashing in the hope that I don't have to take the reprimand any further and that I never have to go back to the same boring incident again, and again. But I've realised this really doesn't work as children soon become deaf to shouting. 
There is so much advice out there on how best to discipline your child: the most advocated, and a favourite of Super Nanny's, being "time out" and the least being smacking. But lets face it, trying to persuade a 3 or 4 year-old to sit quietly on a chair in the corner without screaming or running away is a lot more exhausting - and also open for further bad behaviour - than a firm smack on the bum. I am not saying that hitting small children should be the common form of punishment but I do feel that it can be rather effective if used sparingly and consciously. For Pete's sake most of us were smacked and locked in our bedrooms as children and I don't hold it against my parents or feel I have suffered any major trauma from it.
What I do feel has lead me to the therapist's door though is not being heard and understood. So I strongly feel that listening to your child's gripe or defense is a fair approach to deciding on the type of discipline she should get.
Having two children of the same age but with polar opposite personalities I have found that the same type of discipline does not work on both of them. Charlotte, who is constantly trying to perfect her world, cannot  bear the thought of being caught out at behaving badly and therefore sitting in the corner and having to actually think about her awful behaviour is almost too much to bear....which some would argue makes it a good form of punishment for her, but unfortunately for me too! What should take up to four minutes ends up taking an hour, with her screaming and me eventually losing all my calm unaffected "I can do this" demeanour of a parent in control. Invariably I end up in a rage that leaves me having to abort mission and walk away. Hence the entire objective to instill discipline is lost: the child gets away with screaming and I feel like a first class loser parent. So I choose alternative solutions with Charlotte, like talking about why it's not okay to do what she did, which really seems to work with her, and if it's particularly bad I will remove a privilege like T.V. 
Anna, however, is a different kettle of fish and with her, bless her mischievous little heart, I am constantly pulling out new tricks to stay on top of the discipline game. She is one of those children that if born to a timid softly spoken mother, which I am not, would run the entire household and perhaps the farm and surrounding community too. "Time out" seems to have no real effect on her as I have a strong sense that very little self-reflection is done in that corner, but instead it is used more as a time for her to cook up and perfect her defense speech. So for her I vary things quite a lot! I admit she has received a fair amount of spankings in her short life and thanks to her I have had extreme practice at controlling my patience. Ofcourse her forgivable grin and hilarious outlook on "the way life is" always helps us to bounce back quickly from any unpleasant outbursts.
No matter which way you look at it discipline is a full time occupation and there is a fine line between punishing one's child effectively and causing more parental anxiety. I can see now why there are some parents who choose to turn a blind eye to a lot of bad behaviour as sometimes it just doesn't seem like its worth the exhausting battle. I, however, take it all far too seriously to ignore the possibility of my children growing up into unpleasant adults and possibly often end up punishing myself more.
The bottom line is that kids need discipline but I think cutting them some slack here and there could stand their self esteem's in good stead. After all they are just kids and when else in their lives will they be able to so vehemently push the boundaries within the security of those who love them.
<a href="">Pingates</a>

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

terrific totseat

You would think when expecting twins one would get every apparatus under the sun to make life easier. Not me. While there is a whole world of merchandise out there designed purely for the sake of ease, I went blindly into mothering my two without some very necessary and convenient accessories. It probably had something to do with my non-materialistic attitude and if the bushman can get along without baby monitors and clip-in baby carriers, why can’t I?
But I have wisened up somewhat and if it’s available and makes our lives easier, hey why not? So this time around, even though I am only expecting one baby, I am on a serious look out for all necessary and convenient accessories. At least I now know what is a waste of money and what will truly stand baby and me in good stead.
So far I have seen some really cool stuff, but what really jumped out at me is the ultra-practical Totseat. This ingenious little contraption is designed to fit onto almost every type of chair so that you can strap baby in safely wherever you go. Perfect for home, eating out or outings - when you’ve had enough of following your enthusiastic crawler around and want to encourage some immobile quiet play at the table. Made out of various prints of funky material it folds up into a small bag that can be stuck into a handbag or baby-care bag with ease. The Totseat is an absolute must for every mother and definitely on my list of must-haves.