BABY’S SEX  

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Nine months of cultivating and carrying a little person around inside you is a long time. Some people want to find out as much as they can about their little bundle of joy before it’s arrival, including it’s sex, whilst others want to keep it a surprise.

When I found out I as pregnant with my first child I was keen to find out it’s gender at the first ultrasound, but my husband insisted that finding out the sex of your baby is like peeking at a gift under the Christmas tree. Once you know what you’re getting the surprise is gone. Having experienced this phenomenon a few times as a child when the lure of a wrapped present under the tree was too much for my curious mind to handle and having expertly peeled back a corner of the wrapping to take a peek, I never got the same joy out of that present, as I did a complete surprise. As I could appreciate his argument, we agreed to not find out the sex of our baby – although I was pretty sure it was a boy.

We kept the nursery neutral and bought pastel baby clothes. I obviously missed out on the female intuition gene as in fact, as our beautiful baby wasn’t a boy, but a gorgeous girl.

The following two pregnancies we again chose to not find out the gender of our baby, and strangely enough, I thought they were both going to be boys, only to find out at the birth they were girls. I was so certain with my third child that I had seen a ‘bundle’ between the baby’s legs in the ultrasound that I actually bought boys clothes in readiness. It turns out the ‘bundle’ was the umbilical cord!

By the time I was pregnant for the fourth time, I was certain that we could only make girls! Statistically, you are only supposed to have a 5% chance of having the opposite gender after you have three of the same sex in a row.

Due to concerning test results I chose to have an amniocenteses where they actually look at the genes of the child. I knew my husband didn’t want to know what we were having, but I couldn’t help myself and found out. I was shocked when I was told it was a boy. For five months I didn’t tell a soul that I knew what I was having, as I didn’t think it was fair for someone else to know when the father didn’t know.

I did however; take advantage of this time to buy loads of boy’s clothes, telling my husband that I would sell them on Ebay if we had another girl.

I must admit the surprise was gone from this birth, but the joy and unbridled love for your child is as intense, regardless of whether you know what you are having in advance. Irrespective of whether you choose to know your child’s sex or not, you still have the wonder of seeing your newborn for the first time, because no matter how good ultrasound technology is, you don’t know what they will look like, until you hold them in your arms.

 

(Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici, freedigitalphotos.net)

ONE PRESENT

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On Christmas Day my kids are spoilt beyond all reason. My husband and I are both one of four kids, so not only do they get gifts from Santa, us, friends and two sets of grandparents, they also get gifts from six sets of aunts and uncles. 

The day is an over abundance of receiving and the more they receive, the less impact each gift seems to have. 

Last night I did something I’ve never done before. I suggested to my husband that we give each of the kids one major present early so they could really appreciate it.  

We gathered the kids around the Xmas tree and they were all very suspicious. In fact the girls asked whether we were planning a ‘Jimmy Kimmel prank’ where we videoed them receiving a really lame gift.

We assured them that we genuinely wanted to give them each a gift. The excitement and honest appreciation for that one gift far surpassed the reaction we have seen on previous Christmas Days when they have been inundated with presents.  

I did however make the mistake of giving them their gift just before bedtime, which of course delayed them getting to bed as each of them wanted to try out their new gift. 

Each gift was as diverse as the child and this morning they have all woken up and immediately used their presents. It is so lovely that this one gift has already brought so much joy. I just hope on Christmas morning they can show as much appreciation for the pile of gifts they receive as they have for this one early present.

 

 

 

(Picture courtesy of aeopsan at freedigitalphoto.net)

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR

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A few years ago, when my youngest daughter was at that age when any reference to poo, farts and toilets was all the rage, she took to altering a Christmas carol to sing ‘All I want for Christmas is poo!’

She thought she was so clever and that it was hilarious. So funny in fact, that she sang it ad-nauseum for days leading up to Christmas. Her older sisters pleaded with her to be quiet, but she continued on singing in a loud voice for all to hear. 

So on Christmas Eve, my older daughters decided that if all she wanted for Christmas was poo, that they would answer all her wishes. They secretly went next door to our neighbours and collected some dog poo that was on their lawn. They put it in a plastic bag by the back door; ready to swap this sack of feces for the Santa sack on the end of her bed once she went to sleep. Thankfully they were sent to bed before she went to sleep and forgot to do the exchange. Can you imagine being a 7 year old girl waking on Christmas day to find a sack of sh*t was all that Santa had left you! 

When I went outside the following morning, I wondered what the stench was at our back door. I opened the plastic bag left there to find its contents were dog poo – not the best way to start Christmas! I disposed of the bag and wondered where on earth it had come from – what sicko leaves a bag of poo on your doorstep???

It was only later that morning that I heard the older girls lamenting that they had forgotten to make their little sister’s wish come true by giving her poo for Christmas, that I understood why this mystery bag was at the back door.

So my message today is a clear one – be careful what you wish for this Christmas, because you just might get it!

 

PS. I dare you to now listen to Mariah Carey singing ‘All I want for Christmas’ without subliminally changing the word to poo. Heaven knows that song is ruined for me for life!

 

 

 

(Picture courtesy of Victor Habbick, Freedigitalphoto.net)

SPOTTO

As I pack the car to head off for a few days at a farm stay, I am thinking about how the kids will be amused on the trip there and home

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It occurred to me that there is not enough recognition for those selfless people out there who purposely purchase ugly bright yellow cars to provide entertainment to kids on car trips. My kids can’t drive past a yellow car without yelling ‘Spotto’. Where this game began and how it became part of everyday car trips is a mystery to me, but if it keeps the kids focused on something other than elbowing their siblings then I’m more than happy to play.

When there is a drought in yellow cars, we play the number plate game, making up silly sentences out of the letters on number plates, eg. GEB may be Giants Eat Boogers; Go Easy Baboon or Gassy Echidnas Burp!

Another favourite game we play with the kids to pass the time on car trips is the ‘Yes and No’ game. It’s simple, you ask them questions and talk to them. If they say ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ (or yeah, nup, aha etc) they are out. To put a modern spin on it for our teenagers, I add in the word ‘Like’. It is such a huge effort for them to not use this word, as like, you know, it’s like, really hard to think of like, words other than that!!!

When we are really bored, we play the number game (I’m thinking of a number between one and one hundred). The winner is the one who takes the least guesses to get the number.

By the time we have made it through these games, it is time to put on a movie to distract the kids for the rest of the journey.  I guess the old adage, ‘Time flies when your having fun,’ is true, because travelling with children in the confined space of a car without any distraction drags on interminably! 

 

 

 

(photo courtesy of freedigitalphoto.net)

THE SANTA PHOTO TRADITION

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First and foremost I have to admit, I’m a Christmas tragic! I love everything Christmas from buying the presents, to decorating the house with the family, listening to Christmas carols and having our extended family come to our house to share the day. Therefore it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I still get my kids to have their obligatory Santa photo each year.

It started when my eldest (now 16) was just 1 week old. I took my newborn baby girl to be cuddled by Santa. She ended up a crumpled mess and I think poor Santa had no idea how to hold such a tiny infant. The photo wasn’t that great, but the memory behind our baby’s first Christmas was something I wanted to capture.

Fast forward a few years and another child down and my second daughter had an aversion to the scary old man sitting on the big red chair. That year I had to sit on Santa’s chair with the two girls on my lap, whilst Santa popped his head over the backrest of the chair, out of sight of my kids.

By the time we had four kids, getting the photo was a logistical feat. One or two would sit on Santa’s lap, whilst the older two would perch themselves on the arms of Santa’s chair, trying to look happy as the photographer did tricks with squeaky toys to get them to look in his general direction.

Now my kids think it is lame that I still want to get their photo with Santa, but they humour me, as I’m such a Christmas tragic. We just have to drive to a shopping centre 1 ½ hours away from home where there is no chance they will run into someone they know. Last year we had a prolonged wait in the cue to see Santa, whilst toddlers that reached up to my kids knees, alternated between laughing and giggling to throwing themselves down on the floor in protest. My kids probably sympathised more with the latter group of kids, but stood there patiently so we could get our two minutes with the jolly old man.

A friend took her young kids to have Santa photos this week. Poor Santa wasn’t feeling so merry and had a meltdown, yelling at the photographer elf that she was a ‘b****’ before storming off.  ‘Tis the season to be jolly tired old Santa (whose wife probably signed him up for the gig as a bit of fun!) 

I have earmarked the weekend before Christmas to go away so I can find a remote shopping centre to get this year’s photo. I can’t wait to see relief wash over Santa’s face as he realises he won’t have to pretend to be jolly to get infants to smile at the camera. I know the years of getting this traditional Santa photo are very limited, so I will treasure this year’s pic and ad it to the fifteen others that I have tucked away for safe keeping. It is quite amazing that as my kids get older each year, Santa doesn’t seem to age – he truly must be magic!

 

 

(photo courtesy of freedigitalphoto.net – I was going to post a photo of my kids, but given the extent we go to, to ensure no-one sees them getting their photo taken, I didn’t think my teenagers would take kindly to me uploading their photo with Santa)

LAST DAY

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Today is my last day of freedom for eight weeks, as my children finish school for the year. Overnight I will transform into a taxi driver, entertainment co-ordinator and ATM.  

As the kids finish up their school year, I have been reflecting upon how much they have grown (physically and emotionally) over the year.  A great deal of this increased maturity can be attributed to the attention given to them from their teachers.

It takes a special type of person to be a schoolteacher as they take on the role of nurturing, guiding and educating kids. I help in the classroom on occasion and as much as I think it is really worthwhile, I also can’t wait until the allotted time is up and I am relinquished of my duty to oversee twenty enthusiastic (and some not so enthusiastic) children.

I think it is an amazing feat that the teacher can even be heard over the kids. I’m particularly in awe of the teacher’s simple clap of the hands that transforms the room into a quiet space where the children listen to her requests. Maybe I should have mastered the special clap to get my kids to listen to me at home, but perhaps that magic only works in a classroom.

Our school sends home not only a report at the end of the year, but a portfolio of the kids work as well.  The portfolio gives us a great insight into the changes in the style and quality of our kids work from the beginning of the year until the end. It’s lovely to have a keepsake to look back on as they grow up.

So today I would like to pay tribute to all the hard working teachers out there. Thank you for helping to educate the next generation and for entertaining them all year long. You deserve a well-earned break! As I take over the reins of amusing my kids all day, every day for the next eight weeks, I hope that all teachers have a relaxing holiday, so that they can return with vitality and vigour to fill our kids brains with wonderment and knowledge in the new year.

 

 

CAUGHT OUT

Yesterday I had to take one of my daughters to her basketball game and left my 16 year old daughter in charge of my youngest two kids. My younger kids don’t always like to take direction from their older sister, so I wasn’t sure what to expect when I got home.

Well I must admit, of all the scenarios I thought were possible, this is something that I hadn’t expected.  When I got home the house was quiet, which is something as a parent you are always a bit suspicious about! I then located my eldest daughter watching over her siblings playing in the backyard.

It wasn’t until later in the day that it became apparent what they had been up to in the afternoon. I heard chords being played on the piano – chords to a song that my 11 year old plays all the time, yet this time the playing wasn’t as polished. I glanced at the piano to see why she was tripping over the chords and discovered it was my 16 year old playing. While I had been out, my youngest daughter had taught her older sister how to play this song. I was amazed that they had spent time together (without parental instruction) playing music. What makes this even more special is that later last night, my 11 year old picked up a guitar and started to play chords to a song her eldest sister had taught her in return. 

Every now and again it is heartening to know that our kids support and encourage each other, even when we don’t make them. It is so nice to have caught them out actually being nice to each other, when so often we see the petty squabbles over who got a larger glass of juice or whose turn it is to ride in the front seat of the car.

Of all the scenarios I thought might have been waiting on my return from basketball yesterday; I hadn’t ever expected that they would have been having fun imparting their musical knowledge to each other.  Sometimes something so trivial can make for the loveliest surprise!

 

When have you caught out your kids doing something nice for each other?

 

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PLACENTA BRAIN

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I want to know what happens to your brain cells when you are pregnant.  It is like they dissolve overnight, as if your body is so busy cultivating new life, it doesn’t have time to maintain it’s normal function. I think maybe it’s the placenta sucking all reasonable thought processes out of your head – which is why I like to call the phenomenon ‘Placenta brain’.

When pregnant with my first child, I had many times where I wondered whether I might have had a lobotomy overnight! One morning I awoke, poured cereal into a mug, put the cereal container in fridge then instead of getting milk out to put on the cereal, I got distracted by grapes in the fridge and found myself standing there munching on grapes, wondering why I was at the fridge in the first place.

Any time through my pregnancy, and for some time afterwards, if my brain wouldn’t function, I would simply blame my placenta head and move on.

The sad thing is, that it isn’t like you give birth and your brain cells return immediately. The worse case I suffered was a mixture of placenta brain and sleep deprivation. A dear, elderly neighbour came to visit my gorgeous newborn baby girl. My neighbour was very talented at porcelain painting and said she would like to paint a porcelain baby’s bootie with my daughter’s name and date of birth. My first thought was how it was such a sweet gesture. She then asked me for those details. I stood there, my mind blank. I couldn’t for the life of me remember what my baby’s name was. This was my adorable new cherub that I was spending every waking hour caring for and I could not think of her name. I have never been so embarrassed! I tried to buy time mumbling platitudes about how lucky we were to have such great neighbours and what a lovely thought it was. Then crunch time came and I had to confess to her that I couldn’t remember my baby’s name. The dear old thing told me not to worry and just to let her know when I could remember. Who on earth can’t remember their own bundle of joy’s name? I felt like such a bad mother and stood there hating the fact that my brain cells had been hijacked by the placenta! 

As my elderly neighbour said goodbye and walked up our driveway, suddenly out of nowhere, my baby’s name came to me. I opened the front door and yelled at her triumphantly that I had remembered my baby’s name. Relief swept through me and I proceeded to fill her in on her details.

Thankfully years have passed and I haven’t forgotten her name again. In fact, I call it out a lot everyday (she might say too much!). I have also mastered the correct process for making cereal, so maybe those brain cells have finally regenerated!

What stories do you have about suffering from ‘placenta brain’ when you were pregnant?

 

 

(Photo courtesy of freedigitalphoto.net)

OH CHRISTMAS TREE

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Have you ever looked at a Christmas tree through the eyes of a toddler? All those twinkling lights, glittery tinsel and sparkling ornaments all look so enticing – you just want to eat them all up, or stick them up your nose – whatever your preference! So the question remains, how do you keep your tree safe from those marauding tikes whose soul purpose is to pull off every decoration within arms reach?

Anyone who read my post yesterday ‘Baby Jail and Other Safety Ideas’ will know that I used a playpen to keep my kids contained when they were young. The first few Christmases our toddlers were out of harms way when they were playing in their ‘baby jail’.  Then as they got older and were wandering around the house I was left with a dilemma – how do I stop them from pulling the tree down onto themselves, electrocuting themselves with fairy lights and choking on ornaments? That’s when I came up with my brilliant plan – I put the Christmas tree in the playpen. I raised it up on a small side table so the munchkins couldn’t reach the bottom branches, then put it at the back of the playpen, so that I created an exclusion zone the kids couldn’t enter. As a bonus, they couldn’t touch and feel the presents underneath either!

I was reminiscing about this the other day as we put up our Christmas tree for this festive season. As my kids have grown up, the tree is no longer only decorated on the bottom branches. This year the kids decided to have a colour scheme on the tree, so all hand made ornaments made from paddlepop sticks and cardboard were left in the box.

I think back to Christmases past and how I couldn’t wait to have a beautifully decorated tree the kids wouldn’t touch. Now that those days are here, I feel nostalgic for mangy handmade decorations and the tree stuck in solitary confinement!

THE ROD

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The expectation of a new baby being all smiles and settling easy, is often quite different to the reality! All first time mums (myself included) strive to be the most attentive, sensitive, caring mother a child can have. I remember picking up my eldest daughter every time she started to cry and spent hours rocking and patting her off to sleep. I have all too vivid memories of lying on her floor in the middle of the night with my arm reaching up into her cot patting her in the rhythm of different songs whilst willing her to finally doze off. I wouldn’t even leave my daughter in her cot while I showered in case she cried and I wouldn’t be able to hear her. I would put her in her rocker and sit that in the bathroom within arms reach. During the day I would let her fall asleep on me, finding that I was too scared that if I moved and put her to bed I would have to re-settle her all over again. I was literally trapped and immobilised by my little bundle of joy.

What I realised (all too late) was that I had created a rod for my own back. All humans are creatures of habit. Just as I like a cup of tea first thing in the morning, she liked to fall asleep on me. The other epiphany I had was that crying doesn’t hurt babies – in fact it makes them tired. As long as you know they aren’t hurt, have been fed and burped and have a dry nappy then they are crying just to whinge. 

Babies need to learn to settle themselves, which if you constantly do it for them, they will expect anytime (day or night) that it is your duty to get them to sleep. You need to give them a dedicated sleeping spot that is preferably dark and quiet and leave them to doze. It is always best if you have them in a routine so they know that they are expected to sleep, but that isn’t always possible. My poor son, as the fourth child, did a lot of his sleeping in the car as I drove his sisters to and from school and other activities. I did however always try to allow him at least one sleep at home during the day to keep up the routine.

So my advice to any new mother’s out there is that although hearing your baby wail is heartbreaking, it will make life easier for you in the long run to let them cry. There is still plenty of time in the day for special cuddles and bonding. You will find that if your baby learns to settle themselves, you will actually have time for yourself as opposed to hours spent pinned under a sleeping child.

 

 

 

(Photo courtesy of freedigitalphoto.net)