Musings of a working Mom

Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category


This past weekend both kids went for swimming lessons for the first time. Andrea used to be very comfortable in the pool, but last year she fell into a pool and since then it’s been difficult for her to just sit on the steps. We thought she would get over the fear, but it seemed to get worse. Arno is the exact opposite. He would just jump in, go under water and when somebody takes him out he’ll just jump in again. I’m so scared of the day that there is no one around when he jumps in.

So Saturday we went to Mony’s Fishers in Constantia Kloof. Andrea was so nervous she insisted Arno must go first. They both got one on one training from the same teacher. Arno was not impressed with a strange lady taking him, but he didn’t cry. She started with throwing plastic toys in the water and then they’ll swim together to go and fetch it. He had this ‘why am I doing this’ look. But then they moved on to plastic balls which got his interest, and soon he was very relaxed in the water. When his lesson was finished he was screaming that he wanted to go back into the pool.



Andrea was the big surprise. I waited for the hysterics or the refusal to go into the water. She got in and within a few minutes she was swimming on her own for short distances. She went underwater (something she’s never done before) and came up again without any problems.  And she loved it. She can’t wait to go again next week.


Why getting up at 4am is not happening

This morning I saw that someone retweeted an article “Why productive people get up insanely early”  

I read the article mainly to see what they term as insanely early, and to read the comments from the people. But it made me realise that somewhere along the line my life went wrong. In the article they suggest getting up at 4, and for the next 4 hours nobody is expecting anything from you.

My daily life goes like this. I’m suppose to get up at 4:30 for everything to go calmly and smoothly, but I usually only manage to fall out of bed at 4:45 or sometimes even at 5, and usually only when the 2 year old cries. From when my alarm goes  off I just lie there and repeat to myself just 10 seconds and then get up. I’m not very good at listening to myself.

When I eventually get up it’s a big rush between getting milk for Arno to stop his crying, getting Andrea out of bed and dressed and getting myself ready for work. I’m suppose to leave at 5:40, but on some day I only get out of the door at 6:00. At work I’m just functioning partially because I’m just trying not to fall asleep and I’m daydreaming of the weekend coming and maybe being able to catch a nap somewhere during the weekend.

I usually get the kids from creche at about 5:30 in the evenings, and I’m home a few minutes after that. Most days husband gets home a few minutes before me then he cooks, and I’ll start with some washing and packing lunches for the next day. If he gets home late then it’s cooking in between washing and packing lunches and trying to give the kids a little bit of attention, because they haven’t seen us for the whole day. The rest of the evening goes very quickly in a haze of eating, watching tv while eating, bathing the kids, cleaning the kitchen and hanging up washing and packing away previous days washing that doesn’t need to be ironed. I shower and wash my hair in the evenings so that I can sleep half an hour later in the mornings. Then it’s usually just past 10 and I try and read a bit (either for work or just entertainment) but usually I fall asleep while reading.

And during that few hours of sleep I have to get up anything from 1 to 6 times for Arno to settle him or put his blankets back. I keep on telling myself that is only temporary but I’ve been saying that for 2 years so I don’t have a lot of hope.

And all of this to struggle financially 😦

I know I’m someone that needs 8 hours of sleep to function 100%, but I wish there was a magic pill to be able to sleep less and still be fine.

So no, I don’t think getting up at 4 will make me a happier, more productive person.

Playing together and Heston’s mash

My oldest (Andrea) just turned 5 and the younger one (Arno) is turning 2 at the end of the month. Until recently playing together for them just meant being in the same room, or Andrea irritating Arno by tickling him or him grabbing whatever she’s playing with. Then this weekend they suddenly started playing together and it is wonderful to see it. They were climbing the little hill outside in our garden and probably spend about an hour up there. I took them some oranges and then said when it’s done it’s time for Arno’s bottle. Andrea burst into tears when I said this because she knows that means it is naptime for him. She told me she doesn’t want him to go and sleep she wants to play. Then last night after work I was busy getting laundry from our bedroom when I heard the box with the legos being thrown out onto the floor. Directly after that Arno comes storming into the room shouting ‘ANDREAAAAAAA’. He did a very quick u-turn when he discovered I’m in the room, and not Andrea, but he then found her in her room to go and play blocks with him. Even though they are naughty together I’m loving it. I’m just hoping they don’t get to the same level of naughtiness me and my brother use to get to.

On an unrelated topic. Heston Blumenthal. I just love that man. His cooking shows are my favourite, and eating at one of his restaurants, or a meal cooked by him is on my bucket list. Even though I watch his cooking shows I never thought of cooking any of his dishes until ‘How to cook like Heston’ came on. There are so many good tips in that series. I’ve made his slow cooked scrambled eggs, and it is so creamy and wonderful I could eat it all day long.

Recently we decided to try out his mashed potato recipe, and that is another winner. I don’t think I ever want to eat normal mash again, but unfortunately it takes too long to cook it his way all the time. And I still took some shortcuts, and adapted it a bit. Here is what I did.

I did not measure the number of potatoes, only took the amount I usually make for us as a family, and to have lunch the next day. He also said take waxy potatoes, but I had two different types of potatoes, no idea what kind, so I had no choice but to mix them.

Put unsalted water on the stove, and heat to 72ºC (I used a meat thermometer on the water, because it’s the only one I had). Peel the potatoes, keep the skins, and cut into equal sizes. Rinse the potatoes very well, and put it in the water.

Keep it at 72ºC for 30 minutes. I checked it about every 5 minutes and put either the heat up or down. After 30 minutes rinse them again, and then put them in a pot with boiling salted water. Cook until it is very soft (falling apart stage)

While that is boiling add the potato peelings (I washed those as well) to a cup of milk, and bring that to boiling point. Remove from heat, and let that stand for 20 minutes.

Drain the potatoes and put it back on the plate to dry out. The recipe said to put the potatoes through a ricer and then a fine sieve, but I put it through our food mill (moulinette) that I got to make baby food, and then added 250g butter and the warm milk and a bit of salt.

That was the most delicious mash I’ve ever had in my entire life, and both kids had seconds. We had it with meat and vegetables, but I could easily have eaten just a plate of that on its own.

Day 16: What’s your biggest accomplishment? – March Blog Challenge

This is going to be a very short one. I would say having my kids. Looking at them I feel so proud of them. Giving birth to them was also a big accomplishment for me. Anything else in my life pales in comparison.


Day 15: 10 Things that make you Awesome – March Blog Challenge

This was the first day that I considered not doing one of the items in the challenge. But let me start something even if I don’t make 10 items

1. I think I’m awesome because I made the two most awesome little beings

2. I can make those two beings laugh and feel loved.

3. I can figure things out – when other people get stuck on something I can usually figure it out.

4. I can get excited about the small things in life

5. I’m very open minded

6. I can remember the most mundane facts (I’m terrible at remembering anything important, but that’s beside the point)

7. I managed to quit smoking, and not crave it at all

8. I can make the best lasagne ever (To my taste anyway)

9. I’m very curious and have a wide range of interests

10. And this is where I’m stuck….just can’t get a 10th item.


Day 12: Something that you miss – March Blog Challenge

The first thought that pops in my head is sleep. With an almost 2 year old that is not sleeping through, getting to bed late at night and getting up early it feels like I’m very sleep deprived. Weekends are also not better. And I use to LOVE my sleep. Could easily sleep 10 hours a night, and now I’m on 5, maybe 6 hours of sleep and it’s interrupted.

But if I think about it a bit longer I’ll say the thing I miss the most is a best friend like I use to have at school and when studying. At school I had a few close friends with one really, really good friend. We use to do everything together. We’d spend the whole day together at school, then when we got home the first thing we did is phone each other. When one of us were sick and not at school the day would just be horrible. We could talk about anything. I had a different best friend in High School that I had at Primary School, and also a new best friend when studying. After studying I was friends with the brother of the guy I was dating, and we’d often go out without my boyfriend, and we even went on holiday together. He moved to England though. If you’re reading this, enjoy the weather 😉

It would just be nice to have that one person (other than hubby) to share things with. My friends now are more like acquaintances than real friends.


Day 3: What makes you happy – March Blog Challenge

My kids – without a question the biggest thing that makes me happy. Looking at them, hugging them, when they fall asleep on me, even just thinking about them.

Music – getting totally carried away by a song. I can’t imagine life without music.

Good food and take-aways. I love it when we decide we’re not going to cook today, let’s just get take-aways. Probably because it doesn’t happen often. And cooking something new that turns out really nice.

Hikes – I’m get tired quickly, and complain a lot, but it makes me very happy as well.

When I drive home and the traffic is clear. I drive 170km’s a day, so traffic is a very big part of my life.



After the birth of my second one I was looking at the different contraception options. I got a pamphlet from my gynae about Mirena and it looked really wonderful. I was still breastfeeding, so couldn’t go on the normal pill and the mini-pill wasn’t working for me. I’m also not good at remembering to take the pill. The dr spoke to me about permanent contraception options, but, even though I don’t want any more kids the thought of that just made me panic. In every way the Mirena sounded perfect. It is not permanent, it should stop my period, I don’t have to remember anything etc. I did a lot of reading, and I don’t know how I managed it, but I only saw the glowing reviews and managed to miss the negative press.

The first red flag was that I did not have the money to buy it. I justified putting it on my credit card, because in the long run I was going to save by not paying for contraception every month, and also not buying tampons. So the big day arrived and the second problem. I thought about the cost of buying the Mirena, but not the insertion, which also involved an ultrasound, so it was very expensive. I’ve read that it can be a bit painful, almost like have period cramps, so I wasn’t prepared at all for what followed. The gynae first tried to insert it, but couldn’t get it in, then he dilated me, almost got it in when it came out by itself, dilated more, tried getting it in. Even the gynae was exhausted by the time he got it in, and I was crying from the pain. 6 weeks before that I gave birth to my baby naturally without any meds/epidural, and this hurt a lot more. He said he’s been inserting them for years, and this was the first time he struggled like this. It’s is always wonderful to hear you’re a first….

I had to take some time to recover in his examination room before I could walk. The cramping started immediately. It felt the same as labour pains. Not constant, but every now and again I had to stop what I was doing just to breathe and get through the cramps. I was assured this was normal and I didn’t need to worry about it. It lasted for 2 months. I had very heavy bleeding and because of the Mirena I couldn’t use tampons, so it was back to pads. I was also assured the bleeding would not last long. I was also having a lot of lower back pain and constant headaches. Also zero sex drive…but that could be from having a constant period. It would be heavy for 3 days, then spotting for a week, if I’m lucky a clear day, and then back to the heavy period. I experienced dizziness often, and was more tired than ever before in my life, itchiness all over and hair loss.

I kept on thinking of the money that I spend on it, and if I just stick it out it will get better. About 6 months after I got it I went back to the gynae. Another expensive appointment because he had to do another ultrasound. The Mirena moved and was embedded in my uterine wall. According to him it should still work as contraception (he didn’t sound very confident to me), and it was very common that it happens. He gave me a one month supply of a hormone pill that would stop the bleeding, but I couldn’t take it while breastfeeding. When I stopped breastfeeding I took the pill, and it did stop the bleeding. But the day after taking the last one I was back to bleeding, and to get more pills I had to make another appointment.

16 months after getting the Mirena I went my first week without bleeding. And then the pregnancy symptoms started. I picked up weight, my stomach was bloated, nauseous, and it felt like I could feel a baby kicking. I was 100% sure that I fell pregnant somewhere along the line, and just didn’t realise it (it can happen). Pregnancy tests were negative. But then I Googled Mirena and pregnancy symptoms, and discovered it is a very common side effect. I don’t know how you are supposed to know if you are pregnant or having the fake pregnancy symptoms. Somewhere in between the reading I saw that they’ve downgraded it from being 99% effective to 95% effective, but even at 99% it means 1 out of every 100 women with it still falls pregnant.

It is now 18 months after insertion, and I now have a week of full period, a week spotting then a week without a period, but never know when it will start again, or when I’ll be spotting. My husband just went for a vasectomy (also with complications….it’s like the universe wants us to have more children) and when he gets the all clear from that then I’ll have the Mirena removed. Because it is in my uterine wall it would probably have to be under general anaesthetic, and then I have the Mirena crash to look forward to.

Please read the following about the lawsuit against the Mirena manufacturers and the dangers of it moving to different parts of your body, as well as the future miscarriage risk

A day at the theatre

During the December holidays I was looking for something to do with A1 (4 years old) where we could have an outing just the two of us. A bit of girl bonding. For months before that she’s been telling me for her next birthday she wants a mermaid party, and then I saw that The Little Mermaid was showing at The People’s Theatre in Johannesburg.

It is a very small theatre, perfect for the kids. She was a bit nervous before the start, not sure what to expect, but from the start of the show she was absolutely mesmerized, mouth open, and staring with big eyes at what’s going on. It is also interactive with them e.g asking the kids where Arial is hiding etc. The acting was great, and the singing wonderful. I was laughing and singing with through the show. A1 believed everything was real, and recently we saw a lady at a shop with long red hair and A1 almost had a heart attack, telling everyone that is Ariel over there.

Here is a picture of Ariel, played by the beautiful Alexandra Snyman (Picture from

It is an ideal outing for kids of all ages, there were even a few babies in the audience.

I signed her up for the kid’s club, which means you get reduced ticket prices, the show closest to the kid’s birthday is free, and on the birthday show they get to go on stage and get a gift. It is difficult to find better value for your money.

The next production (March – April) is Sleeping Beauty, and I can’t wait to take her again for a girls day out. For more details and bookings go to

Looking back at breastfeeding

After reading acidicice’s breastfeeding experience  it made me think of my experience with both kids.

Before having children I’ve always known I wanted to breastfeed and while pregnant I would often dream that I was breastfeeding them. These dreams happened with both kids.

When A1 was born I thought I would just pop her on the breast and that would be it, but I was surprised at how complicated it was. After she was born she had to have oxygen first, and I have no idea how long it was before I could hold her and try feeding. That first afternoon was just a blur. I can just remember various nurses coming through, and each one had different advice. I would do what the one would tell me and the next one would show up and say ‘no, no, no do it this way’. There were lots of tugging on breasts and checking for milk etc. It was very overwhelming. The nurses told me it’s better to have the babies in the nurseries and they would bring A1 to me when she’d have to feed. She had a sign on saying ‘Exclusive breastfeeding’. The next morning I realised I slept right through the night, no feeding, and when I went to look for A1 the nurse said: ‘What a night, they had to aspirate her after she choked when they gave her a top up feed’. I was livid. After that I didn’t want to sleep again and just wanted to go home with A1, but after a blood test her sugar were too low to be released from hospital, so we had to stay an additional night (total of 3 nights). So I had 1 night of sleep and then 2 nights where I didn’t sleep at all.

Getting home I could relax and feed her as much as possible, but there were lots of problems. I didn’t know if she was latching correctly. I tried to limit her feeding (as they told me in the hospital). She would cry and cry and then the moment I put her on the breast she would promptly fall asleep without drinking anything. Take her off and she’d start crying again. I woke her in the beginning for feeds, because she would not wake up at all during the night. At least at the first weigh-in she picked up weigh nicely and I just started to feel a bit more confident.

At her first check-up directly after the birth the paediatrician picked up a click in her hips, and at 3 weeks I took her to an orthopaedic surgeon that diagnosed bilateral congenital hip dysplasia. She was immediately put into a harness and she had to stay in that for 13 weeks. Everything I figured out before that I had to relearn and I spend many days crying. I struggled changing nappies with the harness, couldn’t hold her while feeding like before because of the harness, and the only time she would relax and stop crying was in a bath, but now we could only give her a quick bath once a week. She then also didn’t pick up weigh like she was suppose to and if I had R10 for every person that told me I should just start giving formula I would be a very rich woman. She had colic, reflux and hip dysplasia so it was trying times. I even tried formula once after the paediatrician said I should, but it made the reflux so much worse and she kept on choking with the reflux. I recently found a calendar of her second month, and realised we had dr’s appointments every single day. It is no wonder she didn’t pick up weight.

Things finally got better when I decided screw everything else; I’m just feeding her and doing nothing else.  No watching the clock, no counting how many feeds a day, just holding her and if she wants to feed for 3 hours nonstop she can do that.

I went back to work when she was 4 months old and I expressed at work (which I hated) with her drinking in the mornings before work, after work and during the night. I really loved the time spend with her feeding. After 6 months I stopped the expressing at work, and she got food and 1 bottle formula during the day, and breast milk mornings and evenings. At 10 months I stopped breastfeeding, but actually wished that I continued for longer. I can’t even remember why I decided to stop, but I found it a lot more difficult to stop than she did.

With A2 the experience was very different, even though it was the same hospital. Directly after he was born they gave him to me to start feeding and he started drinking immediately. I even tried the breast crawl with him while in hospital, and he crawled from my stomach right up to my nipple…where he started sucking on his fist. I did struggle a bit with latching and this time they only had one breastfeeding expert nurse that gave advice. At home I spend as much time as possible with him feeding and the only problems were too much foremilk at some stage, for which I would lie on my back to let him feed like that. I still had lots of anxieties from A1 and was so stressed at every weigh-in. This time going back to work I only expressed about 3 or 4 days, just to relieve my full breasts, and immediately switched to mixed feeding. It made life a lot easier. I breastfed until 14 months, and the last while A2 started to just use me as a dummy to sleep. We weren’t co-sleeping so getting up 10 times a night wasn’t working, so I stopped breastfeeding. Once again more difficult and emotional for me than it was for A2 and a few months later and I’m still missing it.

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