A Perfect Tuesday Morning

We’ve had a bit of a manic week and weekend. Most of it good – we had plenty of nice parties and events to go to at the weekend, plus my sister (Auntie Georgia, cheetah sister) and her man were in town, so we had lots of family time. But Cleo, our big dog, got a haematoma in her ear which has now become infected, and Stevie and Elia both decided to shout at me on Saturday – all morning – so it’s been just a bit much.

So, this morning, I woke up with the sudden realization that we have to hurry up with Elia’s passport paperwork (thank god we called to sort that out yesterday) – and this made me realise just how close I am to going back to work. Back to travelling and being away from my family.

I decided I’d get up and do the morning again this morning, to have some quality time with the two of them – and this happened…

What a way to start a Tuesday morning! We read books and watched Paw Patrol and snuggled until school time. It really cheered me up, so I thought I’d share it. Happy Tuesday, everyone!


Boredom and After School Activities

A piece of writing went viral last week on the problem with organising your toddler’s day after they’ve finished school.

Stevie’s preferred after-school activity.

And it made me think.

Right now, with Elia so small and needy, it’s easy to organise every last aspect of Stevie’s life, to keep her occupied whilst I’m busy with Elia. But what if I’m giving her too much to do? A few days ago, Pete and I were busy and she brought her Duplo brick through to the lounge and happily played with them for hours. On other days, she’ll ask to paint or play with her Play-Doh. And, yes, at times she’ll want all of my attention, and sometimes have a breakdown if she doesn’t get it – but, surely, that’s a really important part of life for her to learn?

Oh hi, Rome!

I used to think I was doing her a favour when I organised things for her to do. But, having watched her deal with her own boredom by requesting to go in the pool, or play hide and seek, or help Daddy around the house, I can see that by letting her decide what she wants to do, I’m giving her a really important responsibility to control her own fun. In effect, she’s teaching herself a valuable resource for later life. So, from now on, she can decide what she wants to do on an afternoon, if possible (but not Tuesdays – horse riding is her one requested hobby, so that’s staying). Let’s see how it goes…

On Breastfeeding and Working

Elia is now 8 weeks old. This past week, I’ve started expressing milk for when I return to work. Oh, the joys!

On average, a breastfed baby needs approximately 1 litre of breastmilk per 24 hours. So, by the time I go back to work, I’ll need the very bare minimum of 3 litres in the freezer for Elia. Thankfully, Stevie hasn’t taken breastmilk from a bottle since she was just over a year old – otherwise I’d be pumping my entire life away!

Just a snippet of what I left behind for Stevie

3 litres will last her roughly 3 days, so that’s allowing for a one day job and travel time. Ideally, I can get 4 litres. But I absolutely despise expressing.

I don’t have an issue, as far as ease goes. I’ve been blessed with a plentiful milk supply (seriously, you wanna see this stuff go shooting across the room on a let down) and 15 mins with a double electric Medela pump yields around 150ml easily. I just struggle to find the time to sit with a cup of coffee and pump. I also hate the sound of the machine and the feeling of it – breastfeeding an infant is a nice experience, but having your milk sucked out by a machine is, honestly, cow-like. Moo.

But I refuse to be beaten. The first time I went back to work after Stevie was born, I left enough milk bar two feeds. This time, I will beat my own record and leave surplus. Now I just need to motivate myself enough to sit every single day and remove it. Wish me luck!


So any reader knows, Elia can’t handle cows’ milk proteins in my milk. This is different to a lactose intolerance (often commonly mistaken) which is found in all milks, including human, and is very rare. Cows’ milk protein sensitivity/intolerance is quite common in small babies. Mostly they grow out of it by about a year, but until then, it’s up to the breastfeeding mama not to ingest any form of cows’ milk.

So, with that in mind, my friend, Alésia, took me to Sprout cafe in Greenstone. Alésia’s 7 month old son, Thomas, has a very strong reaction to cows’ milk proteins, so she has become my guru in finding safe places to eat.

Elia and Thomas – besties!

Sprout opened fairly recently, and is a sort of vegan-health-food paradise. The majority of the menu shies away completely from animal products, adding them in if you ask for them (like in the spring rolls) or making it very clear on the menu (burgers, anyone). But it’s a very clear winner for people with sensitivities or allergies – or whose babies have the same!

Unfortunately they had run out of decaf coffee when we went (this isn’t a breastfeeding ‘thing,’ I just haven’t drank caffeine for about 5 years, since it started giving me heart palpitations) so I didn’t get to try their famous almond milk cappuccino – but I did have a lovely berry smoothie.

We had both eaten already, so decided to have something ‘small’ and go for a piece of cake. Their cakes are completely devoid of anything animal based, so I treated myself to a glorious carrot cake (seriously, it was the best) and Alésia had the chocolate. This was also amazing – you’d never know it was vegan!

The total price for both of us was R180, super reasonable. I brought a menu home to show Pete, and he wants to go now, too!

Sprout is in Stoneridge Centre next to Greenstone mall in the east of Johannesburg. They are also now on Mr. Delivery!

Kikki and Franki

Just under a year ago, at a random kids’ pop-up market near my house, I made the amazing discovery that is Kikki and Franki. I got chatting to Stacey, and bought some beautiful cupboard separators for presents for certain people. Well, their babies were born and they were gifted the things, and I thought nothing more of it really – until the next market when I saw Stacey again, and told her about my blog. She insisted they send me something for the new baby, and wow did they send something lovely.

Kikki and Franki make wall art and milestone blankets for babies. Not knowing what to do with Elia’s room, not knowing whether she was a girl or a boy, and knowing she wouldn’t actually sleep in here for a year or so, we were at a bit of a loss. Which is when Stacey sent me her wall decals.

Okay, here’s the honest reason it’s taken me so long to write this review – I was really worried by how bloody fiddly the decals seemed (I asked Pete to do them in the week before Elia joined us, not being able to climb a ladder, and he got very annoyed very quickly). It kind of put me off. But, of course, I found them the easiest things ever! I wish I’d done them sooner. Hey ho!

We love them, they really suit the colour we chose, way before Elia was even thought of, to paint her room. For a unisex bedroom they’re beautiful, still, and different to the usual things you see. Plus – they’re moveable! So when we eventually put Elia in her own room, we can move them to suit whatever we put in here. And how cute is the ‘Elia’ frame our next door neighbours bought us?

Baby Things – Good or a Waste?

So recently my friend Billie Brown, of Young London Mum, asked me for my list of what’s good, and what’s not-so-good, to buy for baby. I thought I’d post my recommendations here – and add a couple more, of course!

1. Top 5 Buys

– a stretchy baby wrap. I now have two that I interchange. I started with a Jojo Maman Bebe wrap with Stevie, and now with Elia I primarily use a Mona Lisa Mamas wrap (a homegrown South African company). You can also make your own using t-shirt fabric!

– a baby bath seat. We bought one for Stevie originally in the UK, and we bought another one for her when we loved to SA. We now also use it for Elia- babies are slippery to hold in the bath, and much as it sounds lovely to bathe with them all the time, sometimes it just doesn’t work that way.

– a good bouncer/rocker. Brand really doesn’t matter (although we love our Tiny Love rocker), just find one you like and it’ll prove invaluable – so handy for when you need that 5 mins just to have a quick shower or make a cup of tea.

-a great quality, long-wearing travel system. We have the iCandy Peach, which we bought before Stevie was born. We did a LOT of research into different brands, and we liked the giant wheels and the slightly higher vantage point of the seat. Besides missing a bar (I think it’s still in my cousin’s car) it’s lasted us well for 3 years! It fits either a Maxi Cosi or BeSafe car seat, then has the pram attachment and the buggy. Stevie still uses the buggy bit, and Elia has taken over using the car seat and pram. Special shout out to the BeSafe car seat, which has also lasted 3 years!

Mimijumi bottles. Essential for a breastfeeding mum with a boob monster! The shape mimics that of a breast and baby needs to suck to get out milk, thus making it the closest bottle to a boob. Weirdly, it even looks like a slightly odd nipple! Every other bottle was useless for us – Stevie refused anything but the real thing until this bottle came along. It’s pricey, but totally worth it.

– a baby nest. We stupidly left our Sleepyhead sleep pod in storage in the UK, but we found a new one! A must for any mum, it can create a safe co-sleeping space (nice, firm walls) or a safe space where they still feel cocooned inside their cot.

2. Useless things

– Tommee Tippee breast pump. Sorry to the makers of this breastpump, but if I’d have known how long I’d be feeding for (nearly 3 years now) and how much expressing would have to happen per trip (hi, model who looks like a dairy cow in designer clobber) I’d have gone straight for the big guns in the form of the Medela Swing and saved myself a load of hassle. Frugal doesn’t always mean sensible!

The joys of pumping and travelling – this is on a 16-hour direct flight on the way back from Mexico

– Moses basket. Thankfully we didn’t invest in one, but we know lots of people who did and who weren’t happy. It’s cumbersome to move with one hand (whilst holding baby) and just gets in the way – and baby grows out of it so quickly, it just seems a waste of space.

– breastfeeding pillows. I used one with Stevie, but I haven’t needed one at all with Elia – I’ve realised far too late that any cushion will do the same job!

– dresses for girls and fussy clothes for boys, in the 0-6 month size category. Super cute but totally uncomfortable and impractical! Our girls have been stuck in them for photos, but for everyday wear, stick to a cute baby grow or trouser/top combo.

– expensive baby clothes. Okay, so this one is kind of a given – but it’s still true. Babies wear their clothes for maximum 3-4 months, and I guarantee that they’ll poo/puke in the most expensive item you own. My MIL bought a beautiful Petit Bateau baby grow for Stevie, white velvet with a Peter Pan collar. So pretty, but the Cursed Onesie. If we ever needed her to have a poonami, we’d pop her in that. Rather stick to Asda/Tesco or Morrisons clothes in the beginning – they wash nicely and you won’t get upset if your child explodes in them!

On Tandem Nursing and Adjusting to a Little Sister…

Elia is 3 weeks old today. 3 whole weeks! Time has flown by so quickly. I knew it would – it seems like yesterday Stevie was this small. And I’m literally pinching myself every day, trying to remember every single moment, because I know that, in the blink of an eye, it’ll be June and I’ll be going back to work, missing my now-chaotic little household.

But I will be completely honest – adjusting to having two children, and also tandem feeding and letting Stevie adjust, hasn’t been the easiest – and I didn’t expect it to be.

Right now, Stevie is about 90% in love with her little sister (maybe more like 95%, actually – her love grows day g day and it’s wonderful!) but 5-10% jealous and trying to get used to not being the centre of our attention all the time. Thank god for tandem nursing!

Baby bums!

Tandem nursing has been our saving grace, but also my biggest adjustment. Stevie loves sharing her booby with her baby sister, but I’ve been trying to limit Stevie’s intake still. Which may turn out to have been a silly idea – from tomorrow, I’m going to let my girls have a lot more control over their routines. The hardest thing for me has been adjusting to having two creatures demanding not just my time, but my body. But then I sit and think how small they both still are (even though Stevie now feels giant) and I just melt. I love feeding both my girls, so I’m going to do it as they want it. Besides, Elia’s already put on 700g (900g if you count from her lowest weight) so I’m obviously doing something right!

Sorry for my slightly ranting, verbal vomit post, but I like to keep people informed. I know tandem feeding is a controversial subject, but I see nothing controversial about it for my family.

Tandem Feeding Info

Late Pregnancy and a Black Tie Do (or two)

I love a good wedding. I love a bad wedding, too, but then I don’t really believe there are bad weddings. But weddings are great.

Not so great (read: nerve-wracking) is dressing for a wedding at 6.5 months pregnant. And then again, and 8 months pregnant (my sister gave me a get-out-of-jail-free card with hers, with an infinity bridesmaid dress – more on that later).

What does one wear to a black tie do when you’ve got a giant, bowling ball of a bump protruding from your midriff?

Well, here were my thought processes, and eventual outfits.

First of all – consider the weather. Both weddings were well above the 28 degree range, so definitely height of summer. No clingy, jersey fabrics for the bump this time – flattering as they are, I’d rather not Invite sweat to drop down my forehead more than it already has to. Also, sweaty bump equals itchy bump. Not nice. And riding-up-the-sweaty-legs never did anybody any favours.

So it needed to be floaty. That cancelled out half of my pregnancy wardrobe, so that was easy. My next problem was my legs.

I work hard on my legs. When I’m not pregnant, these little old legs of mine are a mark of pride. I run for miles, squat and lunge and box jump for days on end, just to keep these little leggies of mine toned and cellulite free. Pregnant me still squats, even now at 36 weeks, but, hello, water rentention, welcome, cellulite. I don’t feel at all comfortable showing off my legs when I know there’ll be a camera and plenty of leggy ladies around. So the dress needed to be long.

I didn’t want to buy a maternity dress that I’d never wear again, so I found myself at the Stuttafords closing down sale (RIP, Stuttafords, you will be very sorely missed by me) and staring at a brightly patterned, slightly-too-big, Banana Republic tent dress. Perfect – the pattern would flatter the belly nicely, it was nice and floaty, and – bonus – I will be able to wear it cinched in with a nice belt, once the bump has turned into a baby. Result!The biggest bonus of this dress turned out to be the weather – it was unseasonably hot in Michigan for the time of year, and my tent dress saved me from heatstroke. I felt pretty, cool(ish) and comfortable. We danced the night away until 9pm ish, when Stevie fell asleep on the dance floor in my arms, to the sounds of Jay Z. What a wedding.The second wedding was my sister’s, where I was a bridesmaid. I was picked to be said bridesmaid way before I fell pregnant again. There was a brief worry that my sister would disown me – just joking. Thankfully, she chose custom made infinity dresses. Saviour! A gazillion different ways to tie the straps, empire line before my ribs stretched, and, again, cool and floaty and comfortable. The best thing about infinity dresses is that you don’t have to be the bridesmaid to wear one. One of my best friends wore a beautiful purple one to my wedding years ago. If you’re ever pregnant and concerned, and can’t find a Banana Republic tent dress, go for the infinity dress. You will wear it again! Just make sure to take nipple pasties (thanks to my other sister and sister in law) and no-show knickers. If you’re that way inclined, pregnancy spanks will work, too.There are countless ways on Pinterest on how to tie an infinity dress, but we just went for it on the day. And, trust me, I was super comfortable. If you’re the type of pregnant lady who feels confident in everything when carrying a baby, or who doesn’t get cellulite-y legs, then you can probably ignore my advice and go for what you fancy. But this worked for me. Comfort is always key. Good luck!Unfortunately for us here in South Africa, now that Stuttafords has permanently closed, there seems to be nowhere else to buy Banana Republic other than their website Banana Republic. Hopefully this will change, soon.

The Great Christmas Tree Debate

Today is the 27th November. I know this, because that means, in 3 days’ time, it will officially be DECEMBER.

Obviously December is exciting for us, this year, for more than one reason. And my poor little unborn child is, unfortunately, going to have to live with sharing his/her birthday with Christmas for the rest of his/her life. But, that won’t stop the rest of the family getting excited.

And, yesterday, I caved. I gave in, I succumbed – I let the two over-excitable buggers put up the Christmas tree. A whole month before Christmas. It’s a travesty.

When I was a kid, the rules were that we got my sister’s birthday out of the way (12th December) and then, only then, could we put up the Christmas tree. Which is understandable – and we’ll probably, one day, have to implement a similar rule (unless this baby comes in its 40th week, in which case – sorry for you, kiddo). But the longer time went on, and the older we, the kids, got, the earlier we were allowed to sort the tree. And the tinsel. And the mini decorative trees. And the dangling, icicle lights from the roof (very, very popular in England, I’ll have you know).

So the new rule became the 1st December. And that is a rule I’ve tried to stick by since the ripe old age of 17, when I became a home owner myself. On years when we spent Christmas here in South Africa, my tiny, mini, hot pink and sparkly tree would be our Christmas companion until we flew. I had a couple of real ones, but when Pete and I moved in together, we spent one Christmas with his family in Leeds and went all out. But never, and I mean NEVER, before the 1st December.

This was our amazing, real Christmas tree one year in London.

Cue motherhood. Cue Stevie’s school already hanging all their decorations. Elf on the Shelf started 2 and a half weeks ago. Every shop we go into, she sees “Christmas ‘dations” as soon as we walk in the door. She’s been opening the decoration drawer since Hallowe’en. And yesterday morning, when I woke up, something came over me. And I decided that we could do the Christmas tree.

We popped on Now That’s What I Call Christmas (note to anyone – this edition is the worst Christmas album, ever), painstakingly built the rather enormous, fake tree, and that was that. We’re seriously lacking enough Christmas lights for my liking, and we could do with some more baubles, but all of a sudden, my house looks so festive. And I like it! It twinkled away in the corner while we watched telly after Stevie’s bedtime, and she got so excited to see it again this morning.

I really wanted to watch Love, Actually last night, but our Blu-Ray player decided to break 3 days ago. Now on to that problem…

Your Pregnancy Magazine

As a blog reader will already know, I recently shot Your Pregnancy magazine with the lovely Aubrey Jonsson. The pics have now been published! I am so happy to have more memories to show my children.

Look how small the bump is! Your Pregnancy magazine is currently on shelves in South African shops.