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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Our year

Dear bubba,

This has been my favourite year of my life because it was the first year that we have spent every day together. For seven months I got to feel you moving around inside of me. I kept you safe and warm curled up close to my heart. I touched your hand through my belly and couldn't wait to meet you. Our journey to meet each other was not without complications, but we got there in the end.

The 25th of July was the scariest and happiest day of my life all rolled into one. I was scared because your birth was very dramatic, but a few hours later I was filled with happiness because I finally got to meet you. When you were born you took a piece of my heart with you. You will always have that piece of me with you forever. From that day forward I have kept you safe and warm on the outside. I still hold you close to my heart, snuggled in close to my chest.

You have unlocked a protective instinct in me that I never knew I had. You have helped me to overcome fears and find courage and strength. I would do anything for you and that will never change.

You have enriched my life in so many ways. You have opened my eyes to experiencing the world in a new way. You have helped me to live in the moment. To slow down and experience life more.

It has been such a joy watching you grow and learn. You have changed so much in five months already. You can now smile, laugh, blow raspberries and have a babbling conversation. Your personality is definitely shining through. You have a great sense of humour and giggle all the time. You are starting to be very cheeky. You have definitely inherited mummy and daddy's stubbornness which for now is cute, but might not be in the future. You love to dance and move all the time. You never want to sit still anymore. You can roll now and soon you will be crawling and zooming around all over the place.

cherish every cuddle. I love being able to comfort you just by holding you close. Your smiles melt my heart. Your giggles bring light to my day. You are so cute when you are tired and bury your face into my neck. I love that you hold my hands now and rest your hand on my shoulder when I hug you. Soon you will be reaching out to me to pick you up.

You still look a lot like daddy with your blonde hair and beautiful blue eyes. You have my little lips and long lashes. You have such cute facial expressions. You are going to be a heart-breaker and daddy is already dreading the day you start dating. You are already kissing the boys at mothers group!

You have brought so much love, joy and happiness into our lives. We tell you we love you everyday. We can not imagine life without you.

You are my reason for waking up in the morning. You are the first and last thing I think about each day. You are my everything. My bubba.

2013 has been the best year, because of you.

Love you xx

Mummy (& Daddy).

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Cherish every moment

Image Source

Over the past month the topic of 'last firsts' (as Cate calls it) has popped up a few times in my life. Friends who have had their last baby are experiencing their last ever lot of baby first moments (thus the term last firsts). The last first smile, last first giggle, last first steps etc. More importance seems to be placed on these milestones because they know they will be the last ones. Some of them are quite sad about it, but are also quite certain that they have completed their family. It is a necessary, yet emotional, phase all mothers must eventually go through.

Beacause of my struggles with infertility the concept of last firsts was already on my mind (just in a different way) even before I got pregnant. I was never naive throughout my pregnancy. I went through the whole experience knowing full well that it could be the last time I experience it, even though it was also my first time. Infertility has robbed me of the notion that I will be able to have more children just because we decide we want to. That has never been a reality for me. But, while it has taken that hope and security away from me, it has also given me the gift of a 'last first' attitude towards parenting.

The fact that I am already aware that bubba could be the first and last child I ever have means I am much more adamant that I will soak everything in. I am actively reminding myself to be in the moment. I live every day as if she could very well be my last child. I know Im not done with wanting to have more children, but who knows what's in store for me. I don't want to look too far forward and miss these times with her because I am worrying about the future. I want to live in the moment every day and enjoy her milestones. Get excited about every smile and every giggle. Cherish every single cuddle and relish the times that she falls asleep on me. I treat each moment as a last first. I try to slow down and treat each day as if it might be the last time I experience the excitement of a smile, giggle, hug etc. Instead of approaching the idea of last firsts with sadness, I see it as a gift. Instead of hurrying through the day wishing it would go faster, I deliberately take moments where I pause. In those moments time stands still. There is only me and her. Nothing else matters and nobody else exists. I shut everything else out and just be with her.

Sometimes when I'm hugging her I snuggle my face in as close as I can to her neck, close my eyes, and be still in that moment and breathe it all in. I soak up the joy that I'm feeling and the comfort that I am bringing her and I store it away in my memory bank in the hopes that it will last forever. The feeling of holding her against my chest. Her tiny fingers gripping tightly on my shoulder. The beautiful fresh baby smell from her hair. The way her face squishes up and dimples appear when her head is on my shoulder and the sound of her breathing near my ears. It is simple, yet perfect.

She will grow and change and there will be good days and bad, but I am determined to cherish every single one of them because I have been given a gift that I never thought I would have. I wish I could live all of our moments together in slow motion so that they would last longer.

When I get frustrated and tired I remind myself that it is only temporary and that I am lucky to be able to experience parenthood - the good times and bad. While some people may take it for granted, I am well and truly aware that a baby is the most amazing miracle we can ever create. To be a mum is the highest privilege I will ever receive in life. To be the one that guides her and looks after her, the one who comforts her, teaches her, protects her, encourages her and loves her. I have been blessed beyond words.

I urge everyone to treat each first with every child as a 'last first' moment, whether it will be or not. Soak it up, store it in your memory bank and cherish it as if it is. I guarantee that there is someone somewhere wishing they could experience at least one last first.

Toni xx

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas everyone

Today we got to spend our first Christmas as parents.

Quite possibly the first and last time she will sleep until 6:45am on Christmas day.

The first time Santa came.

Our first time watching bubba open presents.

First time seeing the excitement in her eyes as she ripped the paper.

And the smiles when she realised there were toys inside.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas day too, 
filled with excitement, fun, laughter 
and lots of happy smiles.

Merry Christmas to you and your families!

Toni, T & bubba xx

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Mummy Must Have | Bean and Me

Before I had a baby I wasn't really into online shopping, actually to be honest I wasn't really into the whole process of shopping. I've worked in retail for 13 years so to me shopping = work. Don't get me wrong I could spend money like there's no tomorrow, I just never really enjoyed the process. I was a little institutionalised and spoiled working in a department store. It meant I could pretty much buy everything I needed at work without having to venture out into the rest of the big bad scary shopping centre full of grumpy, rude people and queue's a mile long in every shop. Shopping frustrated me and online shopping scared me a little. I convinced myself that every online store was out to steal my money and wouldn't actually send me the item I purchased (thanks dodgy Ebay sellers for giving me that complex).

Since having my baby and not being at work each day (yay for maternity leave) I am forced to go out and shop when I need things. Surprisingly enough shopping is now one of my favourite things to do. Shopping is actually quite an enjoyable experience when you're not rushing around trying to get everything done in the space of a lunch break. And shopping centres are also a great place to meet friends for lunch! The only problem is that babies don't always want to work to your schedule. There have been a few times where I would have loved to spend hours walking the aisles of shops browsing all the shiny new things, but bubba most certainly didn't want to. She makes it quite obvious when shes not in the mood. But thats ok, because I've now discovered the wonderful world of online shopping.

Despite my original aversion to it, I took the leap and I've found online shopping is actually really fun. I've found heaps of great small businesses that sell lots of unique products that I never would have found before. I prefer to shop from businesses that have a facebook page as it is easy to contact them if anything goes wrong. I also like supporting businesses run by stay at home mums because I'd prefer to give my money to someone realising their dream and trying to support their family, rather than a big corporate giant. I have found quite a few of these businesses, but one I particularly love is Bean and Me.

Bean and Me is the online baby of Rochelle Laracy, which was inspired by her actual baby Jenson (fondly known as bean). When he was little he reacted a lot to clothing and nappies due to very sensitive skin. To overcome this Rochelle switched as much as possible to using only organic products to avoid nasty chemicals and the skin reactions that followed. Along the way, she was also inspired to create a beautiful place where other mums, dads, aunties, uncles, grandparents and friends can buy gorgeous baby items for their own special beans - thus Bean and Me was born.

The majority of the products stocked are organic or Australian designed, owned and made. There are a few products that are not organic, but are still 100% cotton. She does stock two brands not Australian owned, but rest assured all brands are thoroughly researched to ensure that they are ethically made. At Bean and Me you will find a great range of baby products including clothing, shoes, accessories, toys, teethers, rattles, swaddles, sleeping bags and much more. Basically most of the items you will need for your baby and a great range of items to give as gifts to someone who is having a baby.

I was particularly drawn to Bean and Me because they stock mainly Australian products and brands that I had not seen in the big baby shops before. The organic factor was also a big drawcard for me as bub also has very sensitive skin and can react with red patches or hives very easily. We haven't gone completely organic with her, but I am very careful with the fabrics I buy in clothing and anything that's going to go in her mouth.

There are so many products that I love, but I wanted to introduce you to my favourite product that Rochelle stocks, the Dandelion Gyro Ball. Dandelion is not an Australian made company, but they do specialise in eco-friendly organic baby items. They use minimal and 100% recycled packaging on all products. Products are made from organic fabrics free from chemicals and filled with natural fibres. The Gyro is a ball, rattle and teether all in one (otherwise known as the perfect toy for bubba).

The Gyro ball is a twist on your average baby ball. It is a fabric open ball with four different tube sides, each one made from different material and textures. Each section is filled with natural corn fibre filling which doesn't clump up when washed. It also has teething tags on the ends and a rattle in the centre section. Basically it is everything I want in a baby toy all in one item. Its natural, organic, machine washable and developmental. It stimulates four of the five senses - sight, sound, touch and taste (I don't think it would taste that great, but obviously its ok because she has it in her mouth all the time). I love it!

It says on the packaging that its for six months plus and I got it when bub was only four months old so I didn't expect her to be that interested in it at first. It took her a couple of days to get used to it, but after that it quickly became her favourite toy. I thought she would just suck on it and not do much else with it until she got older. I was wrong. It didn't take her long to work out different ways to use it. She quickly learnt she could pick it up and hold it above her head while she was lying on her back. Its the first toy she ever lifted above her head.

Clever girl lifting it above her head

When she lifted it above her head she realised that it made noise and now she doesn't stop shaking it when I give it to her. When we first got it she was just starting to attempt rolling on her side. I put the gyro beside her to encourage her to roll over and within a week or two she had not only mastered rolling to her side, but also rolling all the way to her belly. She now flips onto her belly and plays with the ball while doing tummy time. It has actually helped encourage her to stay on her tummy for a lot longer than she used to.

Apart from rolling, lifting and shaking; she has now worked out that she can throw it. And apparently its hilarious to throw it and watch mum go pick it up, only to throw it again. She has also worked out (not sure if it was by accident or on purpose) that she can put her hand through it and wear it as an oversized bangle. She does this even while playing with other toys. Yep, shes special.

Her pretty new bangle

The other feature I love is that you can machine wash the ball. The only thing I don't normally like about soft toys is that they are usually hand wash only (and who's got time for that with a baby?). With the amount of times she puts the gyro in her mouth, I definitely need to wash it. I washed it for the first time the other day in a wash bag on the gentle cycle. I was a little sceptical that it would come out of the machine looking different to when it went in (as some other toys have), but it held its shape and none of the colour ran.

If you want a stimulating and developmental toy for your baby I definitely recommend you get the gyro ball and you should definitely get it from Rochelle. She runs her business very professionally and is always around to answer any questions you may have. She prides herself on providing good customer service and having worked in customer service for years I can definitely say that customers will not be disappointed with the service they receive from Bean and Me. Parcels arrive promptly and well packaged. I have ordered more items and I am sure they wont be the last ones I will order. I already have a list of other stuff I want (just don't tell T).

If you don't already want to get on her site and check out all the great products right now you are crazy, let me give you another reason to do so. Rochelle is generously offering Finding Myself Young readers 15% off any item from Bean and Me until January 31st. Simply use the promo code YOUNG when you checkout. If your looking for a guilt free excuse to buy something cute for your baby, this is your chance to do it. All her items would also make great baby shower gifts. Now don't let me keep you any longer.

Toni x

*I was not paid for this review, but I was gifted the Gyro ball.
*All opinions are my own and I have purchased other items from Bean and Me

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Christmas sensory light play for babies and toddlers

Christmas is such a magical time for children - the Christmas tree, decorations, lights, presents and Santa are all super exciting for kids. A child's first ever Christmas is such a special occasion, despite the fact they probably have no idea what's going on. Having a baby who's only 5 months old at Christmas time {like I did} means they can't quite comprehend Christmas enough yet, but that doesn't stop them wanting to knock over the tree, pull off all the decorations and put everything in their mouths - because putting stuff in your mouth is the coolest thing ever when you're 5 months old. Not so cool when it involves tinsel, wrapping paper, gift tags and god forbid electric Christmas lights. So, while Christmas time and decorations are exciting for kids, it's not really that safe for young children and can be a bit stressful for parents, myself included.

I have to admit I'm one of those mums who's overly paranoid about safety when it comes to babies. It could be some type of first time mum syndrome, or maybe it's just a natural instinct when it comes to parenting. Having said that though I don't want her to miss out on the fun of Christmas just because she's a baby. I've been searching for fun Christmas light ideas for babies for ages, but nothing was quite right so I literally went and scoured the cupboards to find items I had at home that I could use to create my own baby proof Christmas light play. Turns out I had everything I needed to create a great sensory play activity already, and you probably do too.

baby looking at christmas lights


The obvious safety issues when it comes to infants and toddlers with Christmas lights are that they can, and most likely will, put them in their mouth and also that they're electrical. Young children have no concept of consequences, and little impulse control, and the first way they usually explore new items is to put them in their mouths which you obviously don't want them to do with Christmas lights. Infants, especially under 18 months old, don't have the cognitive ability to understand the consequences of their actions so the easiest way to make something safe for them is to remove the danger, however this doesn't mean they have to miss out on Christmas lights altogether.

By making simple changes like using battery operated lights and enclosing them in an inaccessible container, this Christmas light sensory play eliminates the danger of electrical cords and removes the opportunity for children to mouth the lights, however still allows them to experience and play with Christmas lights. Giving them access to their own safe Christmas lights will also, hopefully, reduce the allure of tree lights. Please note this activity still requires full supervision.


 You will need:

Its seriously that simple! Even if you don't have any of these items at home you could purchase them quite cheaply. You can pick up battery operated lights from local department and dollar stores or online from places like Etsy or {if you're in Australia} for a couple of dollars. Food storage containers can be found at your local supermarket for about $6-$8 {we used a round sistema container, but any shape will do}. It's really easy and cheap to create an awesome entertaining, stimulating, and developmental play activity that can be used over and over again.

All you need to do is place the lights in the container, turn them on and then secure the lid {screw top or snap lock work just as well as long as they secure tight enough that bub can't get them off}. Give it to your baby and voila you have endless entertainment.

Multicolour battery operated fairy lights in a round container.

I did this for the first time with bub last night and she thought it was amazing. She is mesmerised by lights anyway, kind of like a moth is to those bug zappers, so it wasn't too hard to get her interested. As soon as I came within eyesight she was trying to grab it off of me. She was super excited that I let her hold it and that I let her put it in her mouth!  Best mum ever.

Baby playing with fairy lights

She played with it in her rocker moving it from her hands to feet and back again.
Those facial expressions crack me up!

Baby rolling a light filled container on the ground during tummy time.
Played with it on the floor rolling it around

Baby playing with christmas lights while sitting in a bumbo

Played with it in the bumbo knocking it off the tray and then trying to eat it 
every time I gave it back to her.

Baby playing with christmas lights in a plastic container.

Have you seen any other ideas for Christmas fun with babies? 
Do you have one that you have used with your own baby?

Toni x

Disclosure - This post contains some affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you, should you make a purchase.
Sunday, December 15, 2013

Making peace with my body

Quote - You are imperfect. Permanently and inevitably flawed... and you are beautiful

Before I was pregnant I had a love/hate relationship with my body. There were some areas I loved but some areas I really hated. Overall I had a rather diminished sense of self esteem. Even though I was only a size 8 I still wanted to have a flatter stomach. Looking back now I realise I was quite delusional. Now I wish I could get that not so perfect wish it was flatter tummy back. I look at photos from before and want to scream at that insecure girl and tell her she is beautiful and to love her body because one day she will want it back.

Pregnancy is a massive change to go through both emotionally and physically. A lot of women detest their pregnant bodies because of the bloating, weight gain, swollen feet etc. I wasn't one of them. I loved my pregnant body. Its the only time in my life that I have totally and utterly loved my body and had a positive attitude towards it. I was the heaviest I have ever been and yet I didn't care. I was just so happy that my body was finally doing what I had always wanted. It was doing the most amazing thing ever, giving me the greatest gift possible. I was so proud of my big swollen belly.

I'd love to be able to say that I felt just as good about my body post pregnancy, but unfortunately I didn't. The first few weeks I did, but I'm pretty sure that was a combination of being hyped up on hormones and delirious enough from sleep deprivation that my reflection was actually some kind of miraculous hallucination. You know big breastfeeding boobs and a flat tummy. After a while I realised my tummy was not flat, but just appeared this way compared to the bulging belly I had before. Once everything settled down and adjusted I realised my body had changed forever.

My new body includes bigger, but more deflated boobs. How is that even possible? Wider hips. Thicker thighs (the gap is well and truly gone). And a nice little pouchy stomach complete with a million stretch marks (ok not quite that many, but it feels like that). Like many women who've had a baby, I have to admit I am less than impressed with my new body. For some reason I thought I would be a rubber band and just snap back into shape as soon as the baby came out. You know like all the supermodels/celebrities/imaginary people seem to be able to do. Unfortunately instead of strutting around feeling like a supermodel right now, I'm still walking around in my maternity jeans five months post-partum. In my defence they are skinny jeans (but they have that awesome belly band at the top). I was even asked yesterday if I was pregnant again already. That was great for my self esteem let me tell you!  Um... no, I'm just fatter than usual, thanks for pointing that out.

I have actually lost 15kg of the 18kg 20kg I gained during pregnancy, but those last 5kg seem to have made a permanent home on my thighs and in my kangaroo pouch. Ok if I'm completely honest I lost all but 2kg and then I put another 3kg back on within the first month. My bad. Since then the scales refuse to budge despite a healthier diet and exercise. Normally I would assume the scales were faulty, but they're brand new so I can't really use that excuse. I've come to realise over the last few weeks that this may just be the new me. This is my new normal. So I have decided to get on with it and accept it. I'm embracing the new me.

Surprisingly enough there are unexpected benefits that come from my flaws new-found appearance. Cleavage is great for catching crumbs, as are my now touching thighs. Actually cleavage is great, period. I also have a permanent tattoo on my belly and I didn't have to get jabbed by thousands of needles to get it. I know some people call them tiger stripes, but I like to affectionately tell my daughter that she was so clever she drew a drawing on my belly while she was still inside. I also have a legitimate excuse to buy a whole new wardrobe (that's every girls dream... right?).

Seriously though, any time I get down I just remind myself that my body is amazing because my body has created life. There are so many people who will never get to experience that. I don't despise my body, I respect it. Instead of wasting time thinking about the past, I focus on all the things my new body has given me. A best friend to keep me company each day. A beautiful little mini me who I get to teach, nurture and protect for years to come. An endless supply of cuddles, kisses and smiles. A refreshed excitement for life and the chance to see the world through the eyes of a child. An immense amount of happiness and a never-ending source of unconditional love.

If the price for all of that is a few physical battle scars then I'm more than happy to pay it.

I'm accepting myself for who I am now and it feels good.

Toni x

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Mummy Must Have | Bibska bibs

When you find out you're pregnant with your first child you immediately want to go out and buy everything that's ever been invented for babies (at least I did). People kept telling me don't buy this and don't buy that because you will never use it or they will grow too quickly etc etc. Of course I didn't listen and instead went and spent loads of money on cute tiny outfits, boxes and boxes of newborn nappies, heaps of pairs of newborn socks and a gazillion beanies (because she was a winter baby). And low and behold she didn't use more than half of it! She has so many clothes that she never wore or only wore once, or I squished her into in order for her to at least wear them once. She grew out of most of the newborn socks before I had even washed them. We had two boxes of newborn nappies left over because she grew out of them so quickly - luckily they have gone to a good home though. And seriously beanies are the most useless things ever if you live in Australia. Not to mention the fact that they make the beanies so ridiculously large that a child would have to be almost one to fit into the newborn size - what the? 

In hindsight I wish I had of listened to those countless people who gave me advice, but I guess all of the baby manufacturers are glad that first time parents never do. I did however work out the two things that you can never have enough of -- baby wipes and bibs! You will always need them even as your child grows. Those buying gifts for baby showers take note! So, when I was asked if I would like to review and giveaway (more info below) some Bibska bibs I didn't have to think twice.

I have a very spewy baby, an unfortunate side affect of milk intolerance and reflux. She is also teething so there is drool everywhere at the moment, so as you can imagine I go through A LOT of bibs. Some of them are soaked through in a matter of minutes and she always manages to get her outfits dirty (lucky I bought lots of clothes). I have tried heaps of different brands of bibs from cheap to expensive in an effort to find one that works well for us. I can honestly say that out of all the bibs I have tried, the Bibska bibs have been the best for keeping her outfits clean and dry. She always does a few vomits after each feed and on the first day we tried out the bibs she did an impressive projectile vomit and to my surprise none of it got on her clothes. And even more amazing was that the bib was not soaked through, the back of it was completely dry. The front did get quite wet, but the cotton absorbed the moisture quite quickly so there was no need to change the bib. Very impressed mummy! Normally it would of meant a complete change of outfit and bib. Major tick right there - it saves me time changing clothes, reduces my washing and reduces the need for a million outfits and bibs to be taken out with us each time we go somewhere.

My little poser :)
Wearing the sweet chevron bib
The bandanna shape of the bib and the way the material has been cut mean that when on it sits flush with the neck and creates a little roll so that milk & food falls away from the neck. If any of you have ever bottle fed you will know that the overflow goes straight into those tiny little creases in their neck - the ones you can never get into and clean properly. I'm happy to say the Bibska bib stopped this and after feeding her neck was still clean and dry and not sticky and covered in fluff. The bibs are also adjustable. I love this feature because it means I don't have to replace them as she grows. She has already outgrown a lot of the newborn bibs we had for her. In the Bibska bibs she still fits the smallest size, so we will be able to use them for quite some time yet. They also fasten with press studs not velcro so no itching on babies neck and the smart little buggers can't pull them off. AWESOME!

Apart from the practical benefits, the Bibska bibs are also a fashion accessory (in fact it's the main reason why Belinda created Bibska bibs in the first place). I can never find bibs that go with outfits properly (unless you get them as part of a clothing set). Most of the big department stores also usually only sell boy bibs in blue and girl bibs in pink - blah boring. So, unless I dress her in pink outfits all the time the bibs never match and I don't know about you, but I am totally into cute matching outfits and I hate it when the bib ruins the look. Yes I'm one of those OCD mums evidently.

Bibska bibs are made from gorgeous fabrics (there are also organic options for those with sensitive skin). There is a print or colour to suit everyone. There are more than 40 different prints to choose from. I am in love with the stylish floral. It goes with so many of her outfits because of the range of colours used in the print and the pattern is small enough that its not overpowering. Bubba liked the sweet chevron one the best. I love the range of prints so much that I have already ordered four more. You can check out all the wonderful designs available here.

Bub modelling the stylish floral bib

The only negative downfall is that they are a little bit on the more expensive side as far as bibs go, but in my opinion the ample benefits out way the cost. Over time they are more cost effective than the cheaper bibs as they last longer. They are also made in Australia so you are supporting a local business which is always a plus for me. And never fear I have you covered on the cost factor anyway - Kids On Abington are generously offering Finding Myself Young readers 15% off any Bibska product - simply use the code bibska15. Discount is valid until December 24th 2013.

These bibs have been a godsend for me and I am so glad that I found them. They are both functional and fashionable. They tick all the boxes for me and I'm sure any mum would love to have one, or two (or seven like me). They would also make an awesome unique baby shower gift for expectant mums! You can find all current Australian stockist's here and if you own a business and would like to stock Bibska bibs then you can email Belinda to find out more information.


I'm excited to be able to offer 3 lucky readers the chance to WIN a Bibska Christmas bib (boy or girl option). Yes you read that right, there will be three lucky winners!

To enter this giveaway you simply need to:
  1. Like Finding Myself Young on Facebook  
  2. Like Bibska Bibs on Facebook
  3. Leave a comment below letting us know - Which is your favourite Bibska Bib design and why?

Giveaway ends 11:59pm on Saturday 14th December 2013. The most creative answers will win. Winners will be contacted via email and announced on this blog post and on Facebook on Sunday 15th December 2013.

Now don't let me keep you any longer because I'm sure you are all eager to head over to Kids On Abington and snap up some gorgeous bibs at 15% off. Don't forget to enter the Christmas giveaway below.

Toni x

Disclosure - I was not paid for this review, but was gifted 3 Bibska bibs (bluebird, sweet chevron & stylish floral). All opinions are my own.

Terms & Conditions
Giveaway commences 10/12/13 12:00am and ends 14/12/13 11:59pm.
Open to Australian residents only, excluding ACT.
3 winners of 1 x Bibska Christmas bib each.
Prize is not transferable.
All 3 steps must be completed to constitute a valid entry.
Strictly one entry per person.
A valid email address must be entered when leaving a comment.
Prizes will be distributed by Bibska Bibs, I hold no responsibility for the delivery of prizes once the giveaway is complete.
This contest is a game of skill and will be judged based on the most creative answers.
Winners will be chosen by Bibska Bibs.
This contest is in no way associated with or endorsed by Facebook.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, December 5, 2013

It's starting to feel like Christmas

When I was a child I eagerly awaited Christmas. From the moment the tree was up we were counting down the days to Santa arriving. We used to leave out milk and cookies and I would stay awake (but pretend to be asleep) for as long as I could on Christmas eve in the hope I would catch a glimpse of Santa. I vividly remember one year I was looking out the window on Christmas eve and I thought I saw Santa's sleigh. I could see red and green flashing lights moving across the sky and mum told me I better go to sleep quickly so Santa would come. I was super excited that night! Obviously what I saw was a plane, but my inner child still secretly likes to believe it was Santa. We had huge Santa sacks that would sit under the tree and Santa would fill them when he came. OMG the excitement when we got up Christmas day and they were bursting full of presents!

A few years later I was captivated by the Christmas lights that everyone would put up in December. There is just something magical about fairy lights. I don't quite know what it is, but I am always drawn to them. You can't help but feel happy when you see them, right? In the later years of primary school I convinced my mum that we should put up Christmas lights on our house too. Each year more and more neighbours would join in and our light displays got bigger and better. I got a bit obsessed with it, to the point of drawing out a picture of our house in November so I could plan the light display (and so mum knew exactly where they all had to go). Our Christmas paraphernalia grew and grew each year (as mum discovered boxing day sales) and we then used to set up our whole front lounge room with lights, decorations and our tree (so you could see it from the street). I would play Christmas cds with the window open so passers by could hear carols as they marvelled at our lights. I was always super excited to go walking around the estate and look at all the other houses that had lights up. One of the neighbours would dress up as Santa and give out lollies. It was pure heaven for a child like me who was addicted to the joy of Christmas.

The last few years I lost my love of Christmas. Working in retail for 13 years straight, being bombarded with Christmas carols, trees, decorations and Santa from September onwards kind of diminishes the specialness excitement of Christmas. Apparently you can have too much of a good thing. I found myself wishing for Christmas to be over so I didn't have to be tortured with carols relentlessly playing on repeat for eight hours each day. It numbs your brain, so much so that I couldn't sleep at night because my mind kept singing "silent night, silent night, all is calm, all is bright......" etc etc. Ironically a silent night is exactly what I was wishing for! I wouldn't put up my tree until the last week of December in some kind of defiant protest against the shops. Although, seeing the perfectly merchandised trees at work each day did make me increasignly ocd about where the tree decorations must go. Putting up the tree became a 1-2hr event because I had to carefully place each baubble in the correct spot or the whole thing would be ruined. The joy had slowly left Christmas. It lost its sparkle and shine, but still inside I desperately hoped that one day I would rekindle my love for it.

This is the year! This year there are so many reasons to look forward to Christmas. It's my first Christmas as a mum, so once again I get to experience the joy as a child, through my daughters eyes. I'm on maternity leave and haven't been bombarded with all things christmas since September. YAY! In fact I forgot it was nearly christmas until November. Ever since I realised it was coming I have been eagerly anticipating December. This year I was desperate to set up the Christmas tree, so much so that I wanted to set it up earlier in November (but I managed to hold off until December). I brought all new decorations for the tree and a new stocking for my beanie baby. I want everything to start fresh this year. Its time to create our own new traditions for our new family. I want to create the joy, anticipation and excitement of christmas for my daughter so she can experience the wonder and magic I did as a child. Shes only going to be 5 months old (exactly) this christmas day so she won't understand a lot of it, but we have started by getting her a special baubble and her own special stocking. I'm sure next year she will understand Christmas a lot more and we can add more traditions to our list.

Special bauble for her birth year :)

Her special Santa stocking

Do you have any special christmas time traditions?

Toni xx

Linking up with Tegan for The Lounge
And Kirsty for I Must Confess

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The best job in the world

I have never worked harder in my life than now. I get up so much earlier than I ever did before and have a lot less sleep. I work 24/7. I'm not allowed to take sick days or holidays and I don't even get paid. I take my work home with me, infact I take it everywhere I go.

I am lucky if I get a lunch or dinner break and then even luckier if its long enough to actually eat the food. I have become an expert at drinking luke warm and sometimes cold cups of tea. I am a master of eating with one hand. Actually I'm a master of doing almost anything with one hand.

I have replaced make up with a new look called sleep deprivation - its pale white, sometimes with tinges of red and comes complete with puffy baggy eyes. No need to apply any products at all, just get up and wall-ah I'm ready to go.

I don't need to wear perfume anymore as I am almost always wearing a new scent known as le babe vomitte.

Some nights I still think I need to set my alarm before I go to bed, then I realise I have a human alarm clock sleeping beside me.

Raising children is a hard job, but it also has its benefits. I get to spend the whole day with my best friend. She doesn't complain that I talk too much. She loves that I am weird (at least I think she does). I get to bust out dance moves for no reason whenever I want. I get to play with toys. I get smiles, hugs and kisses on demand. It's a hard job, but its also the most rewarding one I've ever had.

When I am at the point of exhaustion and wishing for my old job back often something will happen that reminds me why this is also the perfect job. The other morning she took my hand and placed it on her heart and held hers on top of mine while she was falling asleep. And just like that in those split seconds that tiny little gesture melted my heart and I forgot everything else that had happened. The crying, the early mornings, the countless dirty nappies and being covered in vomit no longer mattered. Nothing else mattered.

It is the hardest job, but it is the best job in the world.

Toni xx

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Mumma Bubba selfies

There was a guy on TV here in Australia a few weeks ago whose photos were going viral. His photos were selfies he was taking with his baby where they did matching faces. Apparently this was a new trend that he started. Ummm no I've been taking selfies with my baby since she was about 6 weeks old. Mine just didn't go viral because I never shared them publicly. That's my reasoning anyway.

I'm not one of those internet crazies who has to take a million photos of themselves because they need to be popular or to boost my self esteem. Far from it. I hate photos of myself. I love taking photos (I know this because my phone keeps warning me its almost out of storage every second day no matter how many times I transfer files to my computer), I just don't like being in photos.

My mumma bubba selfie stage started as a way to calm/distract/occupy/hypnotise an usettled baby. I soon worked out if I held my phone above her head with the camera on reverse so she could see herself she would be amused. Thus I had discovered an excellent way to spend an extra 10 - 30 minutes in bed each morning, hurrah! Because nobody wants to get up at 5am, and if they say they want to they are lying.

I include myself in the photos because:

A - We don't really have many photos of us together because we are usually home alone
B - She needs adult supervision so I am always next to her and within the camera view
C - It's fun!

Here's some of what we get up to

And this happens when she's had enough...

And that concludes this weeks dose of cuteness x

Toni xx

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Dealing with postnatal depression

Image source: PANDA

This post is very hard for me to write. I have thought about writing it over and over for the past few weeks. Each time I talk myself out of it. I come up with numerous reasons not to write it - I don't want to open myself up to judgement, I don't know if I want people to know that this happened, I still carry too much guilt, I don't want my daughter to think she wasn't loved... the list goes on. Even now sitting in front of the computer screen I am not sure that I will be able to find the right words to express my feelings correctly. I have finally convinced myself that I should write this out and that I should not be ashamed. I don't want to send the message that this is something to be ashamed of.

Becoming a mother did not go the way that I always thought it would. I spent so many years of my life dreaming about this that I had played it over and over in my head so much so it was like I had already lived it. In my dreams it all went well and I was super-mum and had the perfect baby. Obviously that was an unrealistic expectation, but in reality I would have been happy just to have a smooth adjustment into motherhood and a special bond with my baby. I thought there was no way I wouldn't get this so I never feared that I would not be a good mum. It had been my life long mission to be a mum. I felt as though it was my purpose for living and I have always been good with babies so I never had any reason to doubt myself. Until my baby was born.

There were a lot of reasons that lead me to a very sad place. I was warned at my first hospital visit that my family history with mental illness could make me more susceptible to post natal depression. According to the questionnaire they make you do I was only medium risk, but they also said my birth experience would have a huge impact as well. Unfortunately for me my birth experience was incredibly traumatic for me. I think this is when the depression first started to creep in. Nothing had gone to plan in the past - I wasn't able to get pregnant myself, I had heaps of complications during pregnancy and then to top it all off I couldn't even give birth the way I had wanted to. I felt like I had failed. I felt like I was hopeless at being pregnant and giving birth so therefore I would be hopeless as a mum. In reality I had no control over my pregnancy complications or my birth experience so I shouldn't have blamed myself but in my cloud of depression all I could think was that it was all my fault.

I am still ashamed to admit that I did not feel an instant overwhelming bond with my baby. Of course I did love her and she was extremely wanted, but I didn't feel that bond that everyone tells you mothers will have straight away. I imagined that I would give birth and the baby would be placed on my chest, I would hold her for the first time and there would be this overwhelming outpouring of love. Tears would flow as she had her first cry and I wouldn't be able to notice anything in the room except her. My experience was very different.

She was delivered by emergency c-section and it was a very quick, unexpected and drug fuelled experience. When she came out I wasn't expecting it yet. The operation had just begun and I was still in shock that I was having a c-section and wasn't prepared to meet her so quickly. She came out a grey colour and not crying (most likely because of the copious amounts of Pethidine and Morphine they had given me). She wasn't passed to me, but whisked away. I could see her from across the room, but I was so dazed and confused from the Pethidine that I couldn't really focus on her. After a few minutes T brought her over to me, but I couldn't hold her because I was shaking so uncontrollably from the pethidine. A little while later her and T were taken to recovery and I was left lying there on the operating table alone (well except for the 11 or so drs and nurses in the room). Instead of ravishing my new baby with hugs and kisses in the first few moments of motherhood, I was instead lying on a table listening to nurses talk about how they thought they had stuffed up the knot in one of my stitches. It wasn't exactly the joyous experience I had imagined. Nevertheless I went home happy. I had my baby that I had always wanted.

The first two weeks were easy. She ate, pee'd & poo'd then slept. Apart from waking multiple times for night feeds and thus being sleep deprived, life was going along smoothly. Once T went back to work it all changed. I was bombarded with differing and conflicting advice from all directions which made me second guess everything I was doing. I lost confidence in my ability to do things. I was questioning my instincts. I had a very unsettled baby which made everything worse. Drs kept telling me it was normal for babies to cry all the time and get rashes and they acted like I was just a paranoid first time mum. On top of this people were telling me it was my fault. If I was upset she would be upset, but I was upset because she was upset, so it was a vicious cycle of emotions. It all came to a head when I had my second midwife visit.

I had been eagerly awaiting the visit in the hope that it would restore my confidence. She would reassure me that I was doing a good job and I would feel more relaxed. Instead she walked in complaining that she shouldn't have to deal with home visits as midwives should only need to deal with babies for the first three days after they are born. She set up the scales and weighed her then proceeded to tell me that I was obviously starving my child because she wasn't gaining enough weight. When I mentioned her colic she told me colic isn't real and that babies only cry because they are hungry so every time she cries I needed to feed her. I told her that she would only sleep on me so I could never 'sleep when the baby slept'. She told me I should sleep with her on me. When I questioned the safety of this given it goes against all the SIDS rules they teach you her response horrified me. She looked me up and down and said it wouldn't be unsafe because I wasn't fat enough to smother anything. Instead of boosting my already shattered confidence, her visit did the complete opposite. I was now not only being offered unsolicited advice that I was doing things wrong, but I was being directly told by a professional that I was essentially a bad mum. That visit broke me.

I felt abandoned by the professionals who were meant to be there for me. I felt ridiculed by my friends (who I'm sure thought they were being helpful at the time). I felt unsupported by my family. I felt like I was all alone, charged with the task of looking after this poor helpless baby who I was literally terrified of at times. I would lay in bed fearful of when she woke up because I knew it meant hours of screaming, vomiting, crying and stress. I knew it could take me up to 7 hours to get her to go back to sleep. I knew I wouldn't eat because I would spend the entire time trying to comfort her that I would forget about my own needs. I also knew that I wouldn't sleep at night for fear of it all happening again the next day. I was stuck in a vortex of darkness. I couldn't see a way out. I started to think she would be better off without me. I started thinking she deserved a better mum, one who knew what she was doing. I felt disconnected from her. I felt great shame because I just didn't know how to establish a close bond with her. I felt so guilty about this because I had spent years wanting her. I wanted her with me all the time because I was so desperate to calm her and make her better, but at the same time I thought I was the source of her pain. It was a catch 22. I couldn't do anything right. I was spinning out of control.

The only good thing that midwife did was give me the number for the government health nurses. The following day in complete despair I called them to arrange a home visit. I was sure I was failing and that my child was not thriving because of me, but I wasn't about to give up on her or our relationship. I was determined to speak up and ask for help. I was not going to let my depression affect her. I was determined to get better for her. I wanted to be the best mum for her. It was my last ditch effort to get help. I felt like I had spent the last two weeks shouting from the rooftops that I needed help yet had been ignored or shutdown by everyone. Thankgod for the health nurse (who immediately recognised my signs of post natal depression).

She was my saviour. When she came I felt instantly at ease. I broke down and told her everything I was feeling. I was petrified that they would take my baby away from me, but I was also desperate for help. She sent me to hospital to get help, with bubba. Thankfully while I was there the paediatricians finally listened to me and diagnosed bubba with a cows milk protein allergy. I was not imagining her symptoms and they were not hungry cries. She was in pain because her body could not digest her food properly. My instincts were right, the drs had been wrong. This restored my confidence in my own abilities. I finally felt like somebody had heard me. The hospital linked me up with a psychologist who I still see and the health nurse continued to visit me at home when needed. Finally I had the support system I had craved. My family also became incredibly supportive. After the first few weeks when everything started to get back on track I started to enjoy being a mum, the way I had always imagined I would. I created an incredibly close bond with my baby. Although it wasn't instant it is now extremely strong.

I urge those who suspect they may be depressed or think they aren't coping to please seek help. Speak up. There is huge societal pressure to keep quiet about post natal depression. People don't seek help for fear of being judged. This just makes the problem that much worse. Post natal depression is nothing to be ashamed of and it does not mean that you don't want or love your child. It is a lot more common than people realise and it does not discriminate. There are numerous professionals out there trained to deal with it and they will not judge or ridicule you for it. Instead they will help you, guide you and support you for as long as you need.

I have spoken out about my experience in order to help deter the stigma surrounding post natal depression (and mental illness in general). This week is post natal depression awareness week. You can do your bit by fundraising, sharing your story or simply spreading the awareness that PND exists and it is nothing to be ashamed of. If you are experiencing any signs of PND or would like to know more please visit Beyond Blue or PANDA.

Image source: Beyond Blue 
It has been extremely hard to lay myself bare and admit my experience to the world, but if it helps just one person to seek help or feel as if they are not alone then it is worth it. At first I did not want to write this incase my daughter reads it in the future and thinks that she was not loved. She was indeed very loved and it was my overwhelming love and desire for her to have the best life possible that lead me to seek help. If she does read this I hope she realises it takes courage and strength to admit that things are not ok. It is not a sign of weakness to admit you need help, it will probably be the single most important gift you can give your child.

You can read other stories via the links below.

UPDATE: Read why I'm glad I got postnatal depression.

Toni x

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Seeing the world through different eyes

Sometimes as adults we unintentionally complicate things. We overthink, stress, worry, plan and as a result we forget to sit back and enjoy life. I am guilty of all of these things. We get so caught up with work, housework, errands etc we forget to enjoy the simple moments in life.

Having a baby has made my life busier - I get up earlier and spend a lot more of my day 'working', but at the same time it has made my life a lot slower (not just because the days are longer). Babies are full of innocence. They don't stress, worry etc, they just do. They live in the moment all the time because they don't know any different. It has been such a joy seeing the world through my daughters eyes each day. Something as simple as a ball is the greatest thing she has ever seen.  Everything is new, different and amazing to her. Her world is full of wonder and surprise every day.

Each day she learns new things and it really makes me sit and think about how amazing we really are. Shes recently worked out that she can control her hands. She knows she has fingers and shes worked out that she can use them to touch things. Its so cute seeing the excitement in her eyes when she thinks about wanting to touch something and she can do it now. She is so proud of herself. I love being able to teach her new things and see her do something for the first time. To think just a few weeks ago she was a tiny helpless little baby and now she can play, blow raspberries, giggle, almost roll over and tries to sit up. She is a little sponge ready to take in everything around her.

All we really need to thrive in life is love and attention and someone to support us through our journey. I love being the one who can do this for her. I am teaching her so many things, but really she is the teacher and I am the student. She has taught me to live in the moment. She makes me aware of the environment around me and the wonder it can bring. She makes me appreciate every second of every day. I'm looking forward to many years of learning from each other.

I now get to see the world through the eyes of a child each day and it really is a great gift.

Toni x

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

12 weeks in photos

I can't believe it has been 12 weeks already since bubba came into our lives. They change and grow so quickly! Thankfully I take A LOT of photos so I can remember it all. Problem is shes now worked out that the phone takes photos so she deliberately stops doing cute stuff when I bring it out! They learn young I tell ya. So, we have resorted to selfies lately because then she can see her face on the screen as I take the photo. And besides the more practice she gets in now the better she will be at posing for her facebook profile picture later on (oh god I cant wait for her to get into facebook...... not!).

Holding hands @ 3 days old

Photo taken by Katharine Jarvie Photography
Peek-a-boo @ 2 weeks old

Photo taken by Katharine Jarvie Photography
2 weeks old

Big smiles @ 7 weeks

Playing on the playmat @ 10 weeks

Mumma and bubba selfies!

If you are obsessed with baby photos like me then you might want to join in the baby gazing and discussions on my facebook page. You know you want to :)

Toni xx

Linking up with My Little Drummer Boys for Wordless Wednesday