Musical Memories

In the car on the way home from work this evening, ‘Ironic’ by Alanis Morrissette was playing on the radio. I’ve never really been a popular music person. Growing up I heard mostly classical music, but this song brought back memories and those memories lead to other memories.

When I went to the USA on the Au-pair programme, I ended up with a family with 3, 6 and 7yr old children. At the time I would have liked babies / toddlers, but it turns out this was the right family for me. I remember most f the year I spent with them, but some thing stand out. Like the time all 3 of them were sick and off school and instead of resting they were dancing around the house with underwear on their heads. Then there was the road trip for the family reunion. The 3-yr olds favourite song at that time was ‘Ironic’, only she called it the ‘Wedding Song’ because of the lyrics. EVERY time I hear that song I think of them πŸ™‚ It’s been over 10 years and I can remember that road trip vividly. 6yr old had this thing about Avril Levigne and I think we listened to ‘Skater Boy’ a thousand times if not more on that trip.

We sang a LOT, mostly in the car on the way to and from school and activities. A firm favourite was “John Jacob Jinglheimer Scmidt” Every verse gets quieter and quieter but the end line “There goes John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt” is loud, VERY loud! So loud, that we drove with the windows down in the middle of an Illinois winter. I’m sure the neighbours thought us insane! I still sing that song, to and with many of my charges. It’s fun, you should learn it.

I remember rocking a baby charge to sleep every day. I would put the CD on and choose the track with ‘Butterfly Kisses” and push repeat. I’m sure I could sing that song in my sleep even though it was close on 8 years ago that I rocked that little girl. I’m also pretty sure I walked a path into the bedroom carpet because I rocker her big brother exactly the same way, only no music, he listened to the jack-hammers being used to do major home renovations and slept right through them!

Kaptein van die seile” was abruptly hammered into my head in the first week I was at a position caring for 2 little girls. They love to put on a show whilst in the bath, with their imaginary guitars, only my eardrums hurt more than if I was at a live concert (and they don’t know the words lol, so funny hearing their version)

I have a decent sized collection of CD’s, they’re all kiddie songs! When I taught pre-school I knew exactly at what track number on exactly which CD I could find the songs I needed. One little boy in my class loved “Miss Polly Had a Dolly” and we sang that many many times, I can see him being a really loving, soft hearted daddy when he’s older. Another loved “I’m a Jingle Jangle Scarecrow”. Hanna Montana was a favourite with one little girl, I could get her out of a bad mood just by playing the theme song and if I pushed the tables together and put up swathes of material as curtains, the class would put on a show for me. We moved and danced a LOT. I remember the principal showing new parents the school and coming to my classroom only to see me under a pile of kids since we’d just finished dinging “I’m fishing on a boat in the middle of the sea” and somehow we’d all fallen out πŸ™‚

Music is such an important part of children’s lives. It can help them express themselves, it can help them relax, it can help them to concentrate, it can help to invigorate and ‘jump-start’, it can help to release pent up energy and it makes memories πŸ™‚ Go on, sing with your family, no-one actually cares if you sing out of tune all they care about is having fun with you.

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Connecting online

Yesterday I got a phone call that totally made my day! A mommy following my blog made a point of tracking down my cell number and phoning me to tell me she enjoyed it πŸ™‚

With the ease of internet access nowadays, many moms are turning to the internet to find friendship, support and information. Whilst this is lovely, you can connect with many like-minded moms all over the country and world in seconds, it also brings a whole lot of information to our fingertips and in some cases, too much information can be bad thing!

Ever heard of Dr Google? So many people ask Google about their symptoms and get their knickers in a knot over the fact that they’re about to die! When in actual fact they have a simple sinus infection or a reaction to their new face cream.

I love my online groups and forums. They’re mommies who I get to connect with and chat to during the day about anything and everything, not only that which is child related. Life is so busy nowadays, not through choice for us I can assure you, that it makes it difficult to connect with other mommies and families in our community. Gone are the days of moms meeting at the park and at eachothers houses for regular, informal playgroups. Very few moms have their own moms nearby to turn to when they need help or advise. I love that when I’m breastfeeding I can pop online and chat to other moms who have ‘been there, done that’ or are in the process of ‘doing that’ and we can do it together! It makes you feel less alone. Parenting in isolation is not normal. By nature we’re social people. We learn from others, we share, we teach. How else do we learn to breastfeed if not by seeing other mommies do it and having those mommies by our side when we need help (because although breastfeeding is natural, it’s not always easy to get right to start with!) Anyway, I digress.

The internet can be a bad thing at times! People hide behind their computers and you never really know the real person. You get so many conflicting suggestions that it can be very overwhelming and you feel even more inefficient than before. Outdated advice, old wives tales etc can actually be harmful to you and your baby. My advice, find someone you trust (mother, best friend, doula, sister, midwife etc) whose parenting style is similar to your own and ask them. Listen to your gut feeling and mommy intuition. If it feels wrong to you, don’t do it. Research it first (properly!). Don’t do anything in the heat of the moment or in the darkest hour. You’re entitled to change your mind. Surround yourself with people who think like you and who support you even if they don’t always agree with you. Most importantly, once you’ve made a decision that you’re happy with don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for it. We’re not all the same, we all parent differently and we all make mistakes at some point.

Snot on a sock

I am very interested in the Montessori method of teaching and learning. My mum was a Montessori teacher when we were younger and I have always connected with the principles it is based on. I try and raise Skye using the same principles. These include allowing your child to explore and learn at their own pace, creating child-safe environments here your child can explore without hearing a constant ‘no’, lots of hands-on, sensorial play and experiences etc. They also encourage the use of real equipment rather than toy replica’s. As a result, Skye has been allowed to use real glass to drink out of, real knives to cut, is allowed to touch and explore pretty much anything she wants to because we teach her to do it properly and gently.

Over the last few months, Skye has been wanting to dress herself. First she started with taking her pants off – so we went through a stage of her being naked from the waist down for quite a while!, then she managed to get her shirts off too so she was totally naked for a while. We have since progressed to being able to pull on panties and shorts and some tops and dresses. It is very cute seeing her able to do this and she is always determined to do it herself, except when she can get daddy to do it! She always tells me ‘Skye do it, not mommy help Skye’. And somedays she’s still naked!

She also likes to choose her own clothes. Of course, this leads to some interesting combinations and sometimes she wears pyjama’s all day, but in the greater scheme of things, does it really matter?! She learns and plays just fine no matter what she is (or isn’t!) wearing! I keep her clothes on shelves that she can easily get to on her own. It’she middle of summer here and this morning she chose a nice outfit, it actually matched…then just as we were walking out the door to work, she grabbed 2 pairs of socks. Knee-high. One pair beige, the other black with polka dots. On our way to work she told me she was putting them on and then proudly told me “Skye wipe a nose” and then “Skye got snot on a sock”. We got to work and she had one beige and one polka dot sock on and happily marched in to work to show everyone her socks…and the snot.

Breastfeeding…BEST feeding :)

Yesterday evening as I was nursing my baby girl to sleep, I realised that she isn’t actually such a baby anymore. Her feet are growing and not so fat and puffy anymore. They’re little girls feet. Her fat rolls on her arms and legs are not so prominent anymore. She speaks in sentences (in 2 different languages too!) and learns something new every day. But she’s still my bby. When she cuddles up to me to drink her milkies, she doesnt look quite so big anymore and I’m reminded that she’s only 27 months old That’s not very old! And have you ever wondered about that drunk or doped look that babies get when they’ve finished a nursing session? Turns out, that “based on the findings of several major scientific studies, that human breast milk naturally contains many of the same cannabinoids found in marijuana, which are actually extremely vital for proper human development.” http://www.naturalnews.com/036526_cannabinoids_breast_milk_THC.html

Fascinating stuff!

Often new moms are worried that the milk that their body is producing is not enough and are tempted to top-up feeds with formula milk. When a baby has unrestricted access to the breast and is allowed to nurse as often as needed, top up feeds are not needed. Less than 2% of women have a true lack of supply. A new mom produces colostrum. A rich, creamy substance which is extremely concentrated (think condensed milk). Because it is condensed, babies only need a tiny amount at a time. Perfect for new tummies. Colostrum also helps the sugar levels in babies to stabilise and as a gentle laxative to help babies pass that first sticky, black meconium poo. I believe this is also why moms have such calm babies for the first few days, all that rich colostrum keeping babies full and content, then suddenly they get to day 3 or 4 and the mature milk starts coming in and there’s milk everywhere and your boobs are rock hard and baby can’t latch and you feel awful! My mantra…just keep nursing. I remember that in the first few weeks Skye used to nurse almost constantly. Every 1 – 2 hours she would be at the breast, nursing for 30 – 45 minutes at a time, then dosing until she stirred looking for her next fix! By responding to her as soon as possible, she never needed to cry, so she was almost always able to latch on easily, with no stress or frustration. Then, just as you think she’s settling into a nice pattern, she has a growth spurt and wants to nurse constantly again for 2 days. Growth spurts happen quite regularly in the first 6 months, usually at 3,6,9,12 weeks and somewhere between 4 and 6 months. The best thing to do at these times is just to keep nursing. A nursing womans body is an amazing thing. When baby needs more milk, she tells your body she needs more milk by suckling more often. This stimulation tells the brain to produce more milk and voila, next time baby latches on, the brain remembers and produces more milk. That’s right, milk is produced in the brain (well, sort of!). The hormones needed for breastmilk production are secreted in the brain, which in turn tells the milk ducts to produce more milk. Therefore the more baby sucks, the more milk you make. Your milk is perfect for your baby. No other womans breastmilk will be quite the same as yours. In fact, breastmilk changes by the hour depending on what your baby needs and some of the most creamy, fatty milk is produced in the early hours of the morning which is when babies are doing majority of their growing. So enjoy those 2am feedings, you are giving you baby’s brain an extra boost of essential fatty acids and immune boosting nutrients.

So moms, keep nursing, it is such an amazing thing you are doing, nourishing your baby with ‘designer’ milk, perfectly made for YOUR baby by YOU! As my favourite t-shirt says “I make milk, what’s your superpower?”

Pretty dresses, poses and peas :)

I feel very guilty that IΒ haven’tΒ posted for a while, so here goes, a month summed up into one picture essay.

A few weeks ago, Madam was a bit under the weather. Typically, daddy was away so mommy dealt with it alone (go super mommyy!!). She had temperatures that were sitting at about 40 degrees for about 24 hours. She seemed to be coping just fine and was her usual happy self so I just kept her comfortable, used vinegar socks, skin-to-skin, lots of breastfeeding and a few cool baths to try and keep her temp under 41C. I suspected chicken pox as it is doing the rounds and the housekeeper at work has it and had been scratching like crazy for several days so Skye was well and truly exposed. Unfortunately, it turned out to be just tonsillitis. She seems to have made a full recovery πŸ™‚

Convalescing on the couch πŸ™‚

In the midst of all this, was Skye’s Christening. All the family from Durbs travelled up and we felt very blessed that they could join us.

Skye looked so cute in her dress, even though I was convinced I would never get it finished in time and that it wouldn’t be as perfect as I wanted to have it look. Gorgeous shoes made by Tarin from Cosy Creations .

With her daddy

Skye was not impressed with the minister and very loudly told him ‘NO’ when he asked her to go with him to the font. We did warn them! She was very excited about the present they gave her though, a little teddy, candle and a Bible.

Skye loves drawing, she loves it even more if I write the name of her drawing next the the picture and then take a photo of it, which she then asks to see, has a good look, nods as if to OK it and then hands it back so she can draw something else and so we go. I thought I’d share a few of her pictures with you πŸ™‚

Grass

Spider

Star

Foot

A lot of her drawings are done on her white board or on scraps of paper that might get lost so taking a photo of them is an easy way to save them digitally. I am trying to keep aside the nicest and stick them into a scrapbook but that’s not working so well because I keep forgetting to stick them in!

When she’s not drawing, Skye likes to sing and dance and do her own thing. Whilst I’m busy she will often dig out 6yr old’s ballet bag and dress up in ballet clothes

Ballet

or I will hear her singing Ring a Rosies whilst she dances around the washing line with the dog

Ring a Rosies

and when she’s being silly, will climb into the guest bed at work and pretend to sleep

Pretend Sleep

She’s still loving the horses, not quite riding yet, but very happy to don a helmet (‘n hoed!) and sit on the horse behind 3yr old before the lesson starts.

Horse-sitting (not riding!)

We do ‘school’ a couple of times a week when we have a moment to ourselves and all the chores for work are done. Mum bought Skye a couple of stationery items which came in a lovely purple bag and we use them on a very regular basis. The white board is a favourite, not only to draw on but because she can rub it out. This has moved on to learning how to use an eraser for a pencil which is great fun at the moment.

White Board

We also started cutting this week, she gets very pleased with herself when she gets it right. I love that she doesn’t feel like she has to look to me for approval, but feels good about her efforts regardless of what I might say or do.

Proud of herself!

She also found a ruler and wanted to know “What this is?” so I showed her and since then she’s been practising drawing straight lines.

Ruler lines

Another fun activity at the moment is cleaning. A little spray bottle filled with water and an essential oil and a cloth and off she goes cleaning the house. Sometimes she gets a bit over enthusiastic and we end up with a puddle, but at least it smells good! And yes, she has also started dressing herself or at least choosing her own clothes.

Cleaning

I had to share this picture, because I’m pretty sure my mum has a picture of me laying out fish-fingers on a baking tray when I was just a little bit older than Skye is. Everything done with such consideration and concentration.

Fish fingers

And lastly (because it is such fun!), this morning whilst cleaning with vinegar and bicarb, Skye heard bubbles that sounded just like the bubbles in her daddy’s coke so she HAD to see. Which meant of course that I HAD to let her make some of her own. What fun it is to see those bubbles rush up and flow out of the cup! We did it over and over and over again. Science lesson at 7am. Love it!

Pouring vinegar into the bicarb

There they go!

And just because I can, this is what we picked out of the garden for supper tonight: purple dragon carrots, baby beetroot leaves, baby spinach, peas (Skye’s favourite!) and green peppers. Skye loves helping in the garden πŸ™‚

Veggies from the garden

Started ‘school’ :)

A while ago I bought a book called ‘Before 5 In A Row’. My mum then very generously gifted us with many of the story books that accompany this curriculum. I just haven’t had a chance to start the curriculum but we have been reading the books over and over. Skye loves reading! This week I decided we will take 1 book a month and do activities based around the book (suggested time is one week but hey,we’ve got PLENTY time!). So,we started. The book was about a bear. We have drawn bears on the white board,coloured bears in,made bears out of playdough,discussed the book etc. We’ve also been practising using stickers and cutting. Skye is getting the hang of cutting now and she gets so excited and proud of herself when she cuts paper. Yesterday she spent half an hour snipping paper into tiny pieces and only stopped because another little girl at ballet bothered her. I’m enjoying this πŸ™‚ and I think Skye is too. She carries her ‘huiswerk’ (as she calls it) around in a little bag (which Nan bought her). I’m so privileged to be involved in her learning πŸ™‚