Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Ella's First Birthday Celebrations

I have a one-year old in the house now! ♥

I'll let the photos tell the story...

She woke up to balloons in her room - she loved it!

Opening prezzies

Cupcakes for breakfast!

Dressed in her beautiful birthday outfit
Mommy and her two angels ♥

A special moment between the two sisters
Pure happiness!
Birthday party time!

 Messy play fun!

My loves

Hip hip hooray!
Special number one cake made by Oumi


All partied out and such a happy girl! ♥

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Tomorrow is Ella's First Birthday!

We have a special day planned tomorrow, to celebrate Ella's first birthday.  So I decided to write her birthday poem now, while I have a quiet moment to contemplate this past year. It really does go by so quickly...  My heart is filled with so much love.

Happy First Birthday, sweet Ella Jill!

Sweet little girl,

It’s your first birthday!

You’re a beautiful and precious angel,

Our gift from the Lord.

You’re such a joyful happy soul,

Your smiling face is a wonderful thing to see!

I adore the excited kicks and waves you give

When you’re feeling full of glee.

You give us lots of special baby kisses,

And lay your head down on us to hug

It makes my heart explode with so much love!

I love to kiss and hug you back.

My darling Ella-Bella,

You have completed our special family

You are perfect and wonderful and beautiful

Just the way you are.
Happy Birthday sweetheart!

I love you to the moon and back,

Forever and ever,

With my whole heart.


Monday, April 20, 2015

Ella's last baby update!

1. How old today:  11 months and 4 weeks

2. Current weight & length:  Will find out for sure when we do her vaccination next week, but guessing she's around 10.5kg.

3. Recent milestone reached:  She loves standing up against furniture and walking along like that.  Seventh tooth is through.

4. Next milestone:  More words, more teeth. Walking. Sleeping through the night.

5. How is baby sleeping at night?  At the moment she's sleeping a bit better, thankfully, as I'm giving her Allergex to help clear her nose.  But it's still up and down though!

6. Day naps?  She has a morning nap and an afternoon nap. They differ in length... her awake time is around 3 hours between naps.

7. How is feeding going? She has 3 milk bottles of 150ml each, and she eats breakfast, lunch and supper, with biscuits or fruit in between for snacks.  She eats really well, no baby food at all any more, except the pureed fruits as a snack sometimes.

8. Feeding times?  Not really set times, it's according to her nap and wake-up times...

9. What has been the recent baby highs? The way she's starting to interact with us, giving hugs and kisses.

10. And baby lows? I sure would love some more sleep at night...  Also, separation anxiety makes her very clingy sometimes.  She's had a snotty nose on and off for a few weeks now.

11. How is the rest of the family doing?  Good! Hubby's working hard, but he helps so much with the evening bath and bedtime routine, and weekends are great to all be together. Mia's a very good big sister, adjusted well and she's happy.

12. What has been working best recently, baby-related?  Having different "play-stations" set up all over the house.  Ella gets bored quickly. So we play in the lounge, then we move to my room and she plays there, then we go to her room and we read books, play with stacking cups and blocks, then we go sit outside, etc etc.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Party planning!

Ella turns one next week!

Her birthday is on Thursday, so we'll have a special day together - I'm busy convincing hubby to take the day off.

Then on Saturday, we're having a small birthday party for her.  The theme is just "number 1" and the colour scheme is pink and gold.  We're having the party here at home, in the garden - hold thumbs for nice weather!

I'm enjoying planning this, makes it easier to handle the twinge of sadness I feel that my baby turned into a toddler so quickly!

Her beautiful invitation was designed by a friend of mine, Kelly, who has a design business, Envelope.

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Sleep Issue...

I haven't blogged much about how Ella sleeps.  But now, I have quite a lot to say.  Let this very tired, exhausted mama get her ramble on...

She's 11 months and 3 weeks old, and with no "sleeping through the night" in sight for us yet...

Since birth, her sleeping patterns have been up and down, hit and miss. Some nights only 2 dummy calls, some nights every hour or more. The average is about 3-4 wake-ups, but usually I just need to reposition her and she goes straight back to sleep.

However, something that has been happening more and more frequently, specifically in the last 3 weeks, it happens about 3 nights per week: she wakes up in the middle of the night, and then refuses, REFUSES to go back to sleep, and stays awake for 2-3 hours.  This destroys me.  These hours feel like an eternity.

We have quite a nice consistent bedtime routine. After supper, the girlies bath together. After bath I take Ella to her room and quietly dress her, and then sit on her bed and give her a milk bottle. After bottle I lay her down in her cot, switch off the night light and walk out.  Mostly she either falls asleep straight away, or might hum or chat for a couple of minutes and then go to sleep. But some nights, she stands up and cries. Sometimes then I lay her down and she goes to sleep, but sometimes I have to pick her up and rock her. I try put her down after a while - sometimes she's calm and goes to sleep, other times she cries again and I pick her up and rock her or sit on her bed with her in my arms until she's asleep.

But these long awake stints - she stands up straight away each time I lay her down.  And she screams if I try and restrain her by holding her tight in my arms.  So what Wyn and I have been giving in to, is putting her in bed with us.  But even then, she crawls over us, pokes us, pulls my hair, flops down on us, etc etc.  And only after a long time, she eventually falls asleep.  I then usually carry her back to her cot, and sometimes she stays sleeping there, other times she wakes up and cries immediately, other times she wakes after 10 or 20 minutes and everything starts all over again.

It's not ideal for me to keep her in bed with us.  Mia often also still calls us over the monitor, or has dreams or coughs.  The dog sometimes growls or wants to be taken out. Wyn and I get up and go to the loo. We snore. The wake-up alarm goes off.  All these things will wake Ella up! Also, I'm so aware of her in bed with me, that although I doze, I don't go into deep sleep.

I'm really feeling horribly sleep deprived, it's affecting so many things in my life, besides feeling physically tired...  I am impatient, emotional, teary. I am even shaky today! I can't stop eating, specifically comfort eating, today I've gobbled up more chocolate blocks than I care to mention.  I feel horribly guilty about the way I'm not handling the middle-of-the-night stints very well, lashing out at poor Wyn who tries to help and stays up with me and takes turns. I hate how frustrated and agitated I feel with baby girl... I hate how I find myself wishing time away and that she was two years old already. :-(

Some days I handle it all better than others.

I realise this is a stage.
I know it will pass.
I know I will sleep through the night again.

But oh my goodness, it's so so difficult when you're in the middle of it...

The baby stage passes so very quickly, I mean, look at how quickly a year has gone by.  I try to cherish each moment, make memories, enjoy the little things, I really do.  But in the middle of the night, I just sob because I'm so frustrated and tired and overwhelmed.

Today I've spent some time reading up on sleep training.  There are lots of different methods.  I know my heart won't be able to handle any of the crying-it-out methods, although Wyn recommends we try that.  I just couldn't. Although at 4am this morning I was ready to cave and give it a try...

I found some nice websites and articles, some of them pro sleep training and some of them against.

Troublesome Tots is a site with lots of articles, all mostly pro sleep training.
Mommy Shorts is a mommy blogger who successfully sleep trained both her girls.  The way she experienced it makes me think I should give it a try, she talks about it being the greatest gift she could have given herself.
Why sleep training isn't for us is a heart-breaking article that includes all my fears about letting babies cry themselves to sleep.  It's traumatic for baby and mom, could have psychological effects later on, baby feels abandoned... This makes me not want to try sleep training!
Why your baby doesn't sleep through the night is a really nice article doing the rounds on Facebook, about why babies wake often... It just gives some reassurance that it is normal...

A book that was recommended by a friend, is Secrets of the Baby Whisperer, going to look into that as soon as possible.

I haven't decided what route we're going to take, I just know that I can't carry on this way for much longer...

I'm off to the chemist to buy Rescue Remedy Night Drops, let's give that a try first.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The big decision: Big school for Mia

Last month, I attended three "open days" at private schools in our area.  Two of the schools I absolutely adored - just loved the look, feel, sound and ethos of them both, and the third one I didn't like at all, for various reasons.

The private school fees, however, are R5000 a month.  Which, to me, is a ridiculous, ludicrous amount of money, that I'm struggling to justify.  And for a young family like ours, who are still busy paying off two motor cars and still looking to buy a house, putting all our money towards school fees just doesn't make sense.

So we decided to not apply at any of the private schools.

I did research about all the government schools in the area, and made a shortlist of schools, and went about getting info from people who have children in these schools. 

It has all boiled down to one school that I have set my heart on. It's an Afrikaans school. A very big school, but with a very good reputation.

Tomorrow morning their applications for 2016 Grade R open at 7am, so I'll be there in the queue, with all the necessary documents and deposit to pay.  They take 240 pupils (oh my goodness, 240 children, at the moment she is in a school with only 24 kids!!) and they have specific criteria that needs to be met to be on their "A-list", if you don't live in the feeder area, work in the feeder area, or have kids in the school already, you go onto the B list.  It sounds like our area is pretty much borderline to their feeder area...

Then we have to wait until the last week in June to find out if we got a spot or not. Stressful!!

On Friday they have an open day that parents and children can attend, so I'm going to take Mia along to have a look, and start preparing her and talking to her about what's ahead of us for next year.

Exciting times, indeed.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Easter 2015

We had a special long weekend at home. I was so relieved that we didn't have to go anywhere and be on the roads.  The inlaws came here, and it was nice to have them here longer than a usual weekend, because things were less rushed - always trying to fit the most into a weekend.  They arrived on Thursday afternoon, just in time to come and watch Mia's swimming lesson, they loved that, and Mia was in her element too!

The rest of the weekend was spent eating yummy food and copious amounts of chocolate, lots of vino, and both girlies spoilt us by sleeping well!  We went to church on Friday, and on Saturday Wyn and I went to the movies, so much fun. Watched "Ballade vir 'n Enkeling", it was brilliant, really enjoyed it!

This was our little Easter table decoration display that my MIL and I made:

Sunday's Easter Egg Hunt remains a highlight of the year!  Loved Mia's anticipation and excitement.

Mom's lil chocolate piggies ♥

We did a couple of Easter crafts.  This handprint one is an idea I saw on Pinterest ages ago - so glad I managed to convince Wyn to let me paint his hand, haha!  Want to frame this. ♥

Mia painted some polystyrene eggies and made a nest

For Easter cards, I let Mia colour one picture in, she traced the words, and then I made photocopies.  Much better than her having to colour a picture in ten times!