The toddler survival kit

It seems I blinked and now I have not one but two toddlers on my hands. With two boys, aged 3 and 1, I have certainly learned a thing or two about life with toddlers.

In no particular order, here are my must-haves for surviving life with toddlers.

A hand-held vacuum

Toddlers and mess go hand in hand. Get used to it. Meal time mess used to be restricted to the floor under the highchair but toddlers prefer to eat on the go. This means nothing is safe! The floors are constantly covered in crumbs, squashed fruit and week old sultanas. Don’t even get me started on the couches, walls and windows. Enter hand-held vacuum. You can easily whip that baby out and quickly clean up the floor, lounge or child’s lap without the fuss of a bulky corded vacuum.

A bubble machine

Kids LOVE bubbles. A manual wand type situation will work just fine but if you really want to up your bubble game and keep your toddlers occupied while you remain hands free, you need to get a bubble machine. These suckers can pump out hundreds of bubbles a minute all at the push of a button. Genius! Just be careful where you use this. If you are out in public you will very quickly attract all the children within a 500m radius.

A “beach” caddy

Toddlers require lots of crap. Yes, even more than babies if you can believe that. A simple trip to the park or family outing requires precision planning and packing. Between food, drinks, toys to keep them amused, changes of clothes in case of accidents or mess, hats for in the sun, jackets if it gets cold. The list goes on and on. One of the best things we have ever bought was a “beach” caddy from Kmart (hint, most of the things on this list can be purchased at this wonderful store). It folds up and is big enough to hold all of the crap and a kid or two as well. Every time I use this I get comments about it. God send.

Snacks… a lot of snacks

I never really understood the power of snacks until my second toddler. Toddler one can easily survive a week on nothing but milk and kinder surprises but toddler two LOVES his food (got it from his mama!). Snacks can be used for loads of different purposes including a diversion tactic, tantrum diffuser, boredom cure, oh and sometimes even for hunger.

A happy place

Toddlers are assholes. This is not new information. But if you’re like me you always thought that seemed a bit harsh. Nope. It’s true. Toddlers have a way of breaking you down. They may be small but they can make even the most mindful of mums lose their shit from time to time. Your spirit will break a little every time you have to wrestle a toddler to the ground to brush their teeth or drag them out from under the desk because they think running away and hiding from you at bath time is hilarious (or is that just me?). At some point you will need to walk away from your child, close the door and punch the air or scream into a pillow. Then find your happy place before emerging to try again. Don’t worry, bed time will come. Eventually.

There is never a dull moment with toddlers around that’s for certain. And though none of the above is ground breaking, life changing advice, hopefully it helps you to navigate the mine field that is life with toddlers whilst keeping a shred of sanity in tact.

What are your toddler survival tips?

40 Weeks In / 40 Weeks Out Part II

And there you have it. Just like that our second baby boy has hit nine months old. Today he has been on the outside exactly the same amount of time he was in my belly.

40 weeks in and 40 weeks out. Exactly.

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40 Weeks Pregnant (3 hours before Jasper’s birth)

I remember everything about the day Jasper was born. I remember so clearly how happy I was to finally be in proper labour after two weeks of start / stop. And literally within a couple of hours he was in my arms. At 3.9kg, over a kilo bigger than his brother, 55cm long and with whispy dark hair, we welcomed another little boy to our family.

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Jasper James Barton

Nine months on Mr Jasper has grown….and grown! His once dark hair has turned golden, just like his Daddy and big brother. He has chubby legs and a big round tummy, a throaty giggle and heart-melting dimples. And now, a big toothy grin with nearly six teeth.

Jasper James Barton – 40 Weeks 

He crawls at lightening speed and just loves to stand up. He pulls himself up on everything every chance he gets. He is Mummy’s boy through and through currently either glued to my hip or strategising the fastest route to get to me.

And if we thought our lives had changed significantly after having one child….well two is an absolute game changer.

Happy nine months Jasper James, we love you Bubba.

Footage Friday: 3 Months Postpartum Update

I managed to get a few minutes to sit and record our three month postpartum update. 

It’s a little update on how mum and Bub are doing. And it’s only about a month late so we’re doing well!

*Yes, there is a bit cut out of the video about how Jesse is adjusting to the new addition. My bad! But rest assured he’s coping just fine. My editing skills however…

Photo Friday: 3 Months Old Already

We can hardly believe it but our bouncing baby boy is three months old!

He is such a delight and has fit into our family like a perfect piece of our puzzle. 

His dimply grin, those chubby cheeks and his chilled out personality have us absolutely smitten. 

He is hinting at giggles and we just can’t wait to hear it in full. He loves watching his big brother Jesse play. And Jesse loves to kiss Jasper’s head and do ‘this little piggy’ with his toes. 

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Before we know it, we will be writing a post and celebrating the fact that he has just turned 6 months old… oh how time flies!!!

Again… those cheeks though!!! 😍

Our Birth Story Volume II: A Dad’s Perspective

Last year, both Renee and I wrote blog posts called ‘Our Birth Story: A Mum’s/Dad’s Perspective. It was our way of both celebrating and remembering our journey through to the birth of Jesse.

Well, Baby Barton #2 has since arrived on the scene in the form of a chubby little boy named Jasper who at 12 weeks old, is bigger than Jesse was at 12 months old (this might be a slight exaggeration, but I’m not kidding when I say that he is a MONSTER).

So, as we did for Jesse, we thought it might be good to share our own perspectives on Jasper’s birth story as he clocks in for his 3 Month Milestone. Because if these is one thing we do know for sure, it’s that this time around, the birth story is a lot different!

The last weeks

The last weeks were a lot different from when we were waiting on the arrival of Jesse. The biggest change being that Renee actually went full term this time around. And when I say full term, I mean she had Jasper smack bang right on the due date! With Jesse, she went into labour just over a week early.

In those last few weeks though, Renee was getting more and more uncomfortable… and more and more miserable. Hahaha… nah, she was okay. I mean, there were definitely moments of complete and utter despair at the fact that she was becoming less and less mobile, but it certainly didn’t stop her from getting on with things.


Conveniently, I had started my leave early due to the fact there was a good chance that Baby Barton #2 would be born early like Jesse was. That meant that we got to spend some quality time at home as a family of three, before the new addition decided to grace us with it’s presence. Throughout this time at home though, I was persistent at letting Renee know that she should hurry up and go into labour and have the baby already, because I didn’t want to waste all of my leave sitting around waiting for the baby to come. I did eventually learn to cut it out with the joking however, because for some reason, a certain someone who was almost 40 weeks pregnant wasn’t really in the mood for my jokes most of the time.

So the countdown continued, as we slowly (and in Renee’s case, time appeared to stop altogether) got closer and closer to the due date of Baby Barton #2.

The day before

I actually don’t remember much of what we did the day before. I remember that we were constantly talking about how funny it would be if Baby Barton #2 came on the due date. But we never really expected it to happen given how unlikely that is (I think it’s something like 4% of babies are born on their due date).

What I do remember however, is that Renee had been experiencing some pretty heavy contractions on and off for a few days. So much so that there were a few touch and go situation where we thought it might be necessary to call the hospital to tell them we were coming in. But then, the contractions would slow back down, and it would seem like we were back to playing the waiting game.

We did put Renee’s parents on notice however, as they were going to take Jesse home with them for the night when they got the call that we were heading to the hospital. Little did we know it would be the next day that we called them to come and pick Jesse up.


And as we went to bed that night, we again joked about how it would be funny if Baby Barton #2 came tomorrow… On its due date…

D-Day

It’s D-Day, but neither of us knew for certain it was actually going to be D-Day at first. Although we both had an inkling that it was going to be.

Throughout the course of the morning, Renee was regularly getting contractions. However, there was no consistency to them and as such, we were still in two minds about ringing the hospital. From early on in the pregnancy, it’s drilled into you to not call the hospital until contractions are 3 minutes apart. And Renee was all over the shop, with some falling 2 minutes apart, but others falling 6, 7, 8 minutes apart.

In the end, we decided it was best to check in with the hospital, just to be on the safe side.

First, we touched base with Renee’s parents and had them come to pick Jesse up just in case. I think we both kind of knew that Jesse had a feeling that something was up. He wasn’t quite himself. I believe from memory, he was also hesitant about leaving us to go with Nanny and Poppy for a sleepover… and he never hesitates when Nanny and Poppy offer to take him for a sleepover! In fact, in some cases, Nanny can’t even get all the way through the door and into our kitchen before Jesse has taken her hand, grabbed his bag and is heading to the front door to leave!

But not too long after Jesse left with Nanny and Poppy, we made the call. The birthing suite answered, and right in the middle of the discussion, Renee stopped as another wave of contractions hit her. “Yea, but the sounds of how much pain you’re in, I think it’s probably best to come on in so we can check you out…” the voice at the other end of the line said. “We can always just send you home again if it’s too early…” she said. We hung up the phone and laughed at the prospect of being sent home, as we both knew now, that things were ramping up.

Then the interesting part of this whole day came. And that was the car ride to the hospital. It was the one thing that Renee was not looking forward to after the memories of the trip to the hospital for Jesse’s birth. Apparently car rides are excruciatingly painful when you’re 40 weeks pregnant and are experiencing contractions… who knew right?!?! And as I drove (as quickly but as lawfully as I could) to the hospital, all I could do was keep reassuring Renee that we were almost there. Not long to go. You’re doing great. But geez she looked like she was in a lot of pain!

In the birthing suite

So that takes us through to our arrival at the hospital, and our entry into the birthing suite. Well, this is a story all on its own, because let me tell you this… we almost didn’t make it into the birthing suite!

After a very slow walk through the hospital carpark (also surprisingly, when your 40 weeks pregnant and pretty much in the throes of labour, walking is apparently very difficult), we finally managed to make our way up to level 2 of the hospital, and through the doors to the reception area of the birthing suite. And once we got to the reception area, we were met with the news that there was currently no available birthing suites! However, the good news was, that one was just being cleaned and should be ready any minute.

Oh no… that was not the news that Renee wanted to hear. So here we were, in all our glory, waiting in the halls at the reception area. Me surrounded by all the bags we had to bring, Renee starting to get louder and louder as she was bent over a railing in labour. Renee also screaming at me to call her mum and sister to get to the hospital ASAP. The midwifes trying to calm Renee and reassure her that the birthing suite is almost ready to go. And I felt like laughing. Because surely this only happens in the movies? I mean, it was touch and go there for a while… we honestly thought there was a good possibility that Renee was going to have Baby Barton #2 in the hallway!

What did actually end up only being minutes later (although it must have felt like an eternity for Renee) we were finally let into the newly cleaned birthing suite. Shortly after, Renee’s mum and sister arrived… and shortly after that, Jasper Barton arrived.


Like, literally, I think from memory we arrived at the hospital sometime after 12pm, by 1:30pm, Jasper was born! How quick was that labour!!! I mean the labour for Jesse’s birth wasn’t extremely long either, but this was super quick. That said, we think Renee had officially been in labour from the day before, but you know… it still seemed quick to us.

After Jasper was born, we did take a little longer to name him than we did with Jesse. We had some names picked out, but we still weren’t 100% decided on a name. We thought about it for a little while longer, and eventually came to decision to name him Jasper James Barton. One of our choicies, and the choice that definitely seemed to fit this new little bundle of joy we had in our arms.

Wow, what an experience birth number two was. I actually can’t believe how different it was to the first time. So much so that it was like the first time all over again!

And even though we realized at the time when we named him, the funny thing is we ended up with two boys, both of whom have the initials J.J.B., and both of whom were born on a Wednesday. Like seriously, that can’t happen… can it?!?!

Happy 3 Month Milestone Jasper!!! You chubby little monster you…

Four Weeks as a Family of Four

I can’t believe how quickly these past four weeks have gone. A whole month has passed since we welcomed our second son Jasper James into the world.

One minute I was 40 weeks pregnant praying my baby would come soon, the next we’re rushing to hospital and almost giving birth in the hallway while the birth suite was being cleaned. To now, holding a one month old beautiful boy.


And a big boy at that! At nearly 4kg born he is now 5kg and pushing into 000 clothes. His brother was still in 00000 at 4 weeks old. Not only are they different in size, but in looks and temperament too. It’s so fascinating.

So for a whole month we have been parents to two under two (Jesse’s second birthday is in two weeks time). We feel so incredibly blessed by our two boys but shit, this gig is gonna be tough!
Already I’ve been wracked with guilt. Am I giving each of them the attention they need? And already I’ve cracked a few times under the pressure of sleepless nights.

For the first week I think I was still running on adrenaline and new mama hormones. But a month on there have already been a few rough nights between the toddler having night terrors and the baby being awake for hours at a time because he has a blocked nose.

The real test is coming next week though, when Kaine returns to work. What will I do without someone to take the early shift so I can get another hour sleep? Without someone to answer Jesse’s request to play when I’m feeding Jasper? And without someone to share the nappy changing progression line with?

As challenging as it is, it is also pretty great. The boys already have a beautiful relationship forming. 


So, welcome to our family Mr Jasper and happy one month birthday.

Lulla, save our sleep!

Honestly, waking up through the night to tend to my baby hasn’t really bothered me that much. Obviously it’s been hard at times… really hard. But I’ve tried not to obsess over it despite everyone you come into contact with seeming to associate a ‘good’ baby with one that sleeps well. I just figured all babies are different and ours would eventually stop night waking in his own time.

After 19 months night waking has just become part of my life. Only now it’s once a night instead of every two hours, and usually all I have to do is prepare a bottle for Jesse to feed to himself while I go back to bed. That seems totally dreamy to me given that for a very long time I was probably spending more time awake than asleep through the night. Especially during the 10 months I was breastfeeding.

The topic of ‘sleeping through’ has often come up, usually Kaine saying “This is ridiculous, shouldn’t he be sleeping through the night by now?” This coming from the person who, 9 times out of 10, hears nothing!

I think the first time Jesse ‘slept through’ he was about 14 months. It has been becoming more of a regular occurrence recently, perhaps once a week. But, with the stark realisation that I will very soon be returning to those sleepless nights once again, it would be great to have one child sleeping continuously.

In comes the Lulla Doll. I have been intrigued by the Lulla Doll for some time now and wondered if it would help. Jesse has never been attached to a blanket or soft toy (despite me trying to force these things!) for comfort and self settling but I figured it was worth a shot.

If he hated it or if we were too late on the band wagon, at least number two might benefit from it.

Lulla has now been in our house for almost two weeks. On night one I took Jesse into his room, gave him his bottle and handed him Lulla; his first time hearing the heavy breathing and heartbeat. He protested and promptly handed it back to me. I tried again and Lulla was thrown on the floor.

Night two was very similar but by night three he was happy to have Lulla lie next to him. It seemed it was taking him less time to fall asleep but he still woke up once each night for a bottle.

On night four he actually gave Lulla a cuddle and slept through until 5am with no waking.  Following that night, he has now slept through every night since except maybe one or two.

While we can’t be sure if Lulla is actually helping, I’m very happy that sleep through’s are becoming more frequent. Even if Jesse has been waking super early.

We’ve had a two week heat wave here in Brisbane with temperatures reaching 30 degrees by early morning, so I’m not surprised he’s up early.

Would I recommend it to others? Sure. Lulla is definitely worth a shot for any sleep deprived family. Though no sleep aid will ever take the place of a cuddle with mummy or daddy, we all need a break sometime.

Footage Friday: 10 Year Anniversary

Last Friday, Renee and I celebrated our 10 Year Wedding Anniversary!

And wow, what an amazing day it turned out to be!

We started the day with a drive into Brisbane City to participate in the Story Bridge Adventure Climb, which is apparently, one of only 3 bridges worldwide that the public are able to climb (legally).

We then had lunch at the Story Bridge Hotel before heading over to our hotel for the night to check in.

Our hotel? None other than The Treasury Hotel, the very same hotel we stayed at on our wedding night.

A fancy dinner at Alchemy along Eagle Street Pier ended our perfect day.

And the best thing about it, was that we filmed it all. It’s been a while since we’ve posted a vlog on our YouTube channel… But this feels like the perfect time to jump back into vlogging on the lead up to Christmas (Vlogmas version 2.0 anyone?).

It’s a fairly long video, but we hope you enjoy it none-the-less.

Photo Friday: Celebrating a Decade of Marriage

Today marks quite a significant milestone for us. It is 10 years ago today that we started our married life together.

To celebrate we are spending an entire day and night together, just us. Tonight we will spend the night in the same hotel we stayed at on our wedding night. I must admit, as much as I’m excited about our plans for today, I’m also very excited about a solid night sleep!

But to mark the occasion we thought we’d take a little trip down memory lane and share some photos from our adventures over the last 10 years.

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One thing is for sure. We have definitely got thinner, more attractive and better hair cuts (Kaine!) over the years!

Guest Blogger: Sam Goodwin with ’12 Months with Twins’

Back in March of this year, we had the absolute pleasure to host a guest blogger right here on NSSLOU. That guest blogger was Sam Goodwin.

Sam told us her inspirational story of the birth of, and the first 6 months with, premature twins. You can read Sam’s blog post, ‘6 months in, 6 months out’ here.

Well, just in case you haven’t figured it out, this month her twins turn the big ONE! And we are delighted to have Sam back on our blog today, giving us an update on how things have been since her last guest blog, and what life is like now with one year old twins.

So again, please show Sam some love for the bravery to share her story publicly, and maybe we might be able to have more guest bloggers here on NSSLOU in the future.

You can find Sam on Facebook here and on Instagram here.

’12 Months with Twins’ by Sam Goodwin

Today my 24 weekers turn one!

This whole year has been a roller coaster ride that’s for sure.

After 104 days in hospital, we finally made it home. But we still had many issues we had to address in order to stay home.

Feeding issues and weight gain were our main struggles at first. Kalani and Keanu were tube fed breast milk in hospital until later in our stay where they were transitioned to bottle feeds. And let me tell you, it was no walk in the park!

Despite trying everything it was almost impossible to wake them for feeds. Plus, with Kalani having major jaundice, it was even harder to feed him.

It took us at least 1.5 months to actually feed properly! I thought for sure they had upper lip ties, reflux, colic…something that would explain it. But after many, many doctor visits they all said the same thing, “YOUR BABIES ARE FINE!”

Of course that didn’t sit well with me because I knew something was wrong. It’s just a motherly instinct. You never overlook it!

Though it wasn’t diagnosed my gut feeling was that my babies had colic, so I did get off the shelf medicines appropriate for their age to see if it made a difference. It was touch and go as I found these medicines did and didn’t work.

I spent hundreds of dollars trying different formulas and different types of milk only to find that nothing worked and reverted back to our original formula.

Soooooo, now we come to their sleeping habits… You know those mamas that have a baby who sleeps through from 6 weeks? Yeah, not my sons! We’ve had a heck of a ride when it came to our sleep… Oh let me just tell you!

We had an in home sleep consultant come out to our house and write up a plan that suited our family and lifestyle when they were 4 months corrected age. It worked for probably… hmm… 4 days!

I was so disappointed because I had such high hopes and I was extremely sleep deprived. I still am! So I really hoped we had a solution. I didn’t want to give up because let’s be real… A well rested mama is a great, great, great, great mama! And I wanted to be that mama!

So we tried desperately to get into sleep school at the Ellen Barron Family Centre. And then we finally got accepted when the boys were 6 months old.

Unfortunately, even that didn’t work for us.

The nurses at Ellen Barron called Keanu ‘El Toro the Bull’. He was absolutely horrid. OH BELIEVE ME, I KNOW! Still to this day he is an absolute bugger to put to sleep.

I spent countless hours patting, rocking, shooshing, rocking in the pram, driving around and around and cuddling my babies trying to get them to sleep. COUNTLESS hours! I’m blessed with the amount of hair I still have on my head as a result.

I had also tried…
Darkening their room, introducing soft music, swaddles, sleeping bags, co-sleeping, offering more milk, offering more food, adjusting their sleep times, adjusting their awake times, reading sleep books… Everything you can name, I did!

In the end, I just threw my hands up and said whatever, I’ll just deal with it. So hello, from a proud, tired, sleepless mama of twin boys who are terrible, terrible sleepers. Anyone else? Wanna join my club! There’s coffee! Lot’s of coffee!

So onto the health side of things…
As you know, Kalani and Keanu were born 24+5 weeks gestation. Because of this, we have had continuous check ups at Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital for both boys with the surgeon who performed their bowel surgeries.

They had noticed both boys testicles were too high and if by 12 months they haven’t dropped they would need further surgery.

Thankfully Keanu’s did drop into place, but Kalani isn’t as lucky as his little brother and we will be going back for surgery within the next 90 days.

HOPEFULLY… That will be the end of all the surgeries for my little guys. Because with this new surgery, that will make it number four for Kalani. It’s no biggy though! We’ve had worse! I just hope it works the first time. Hospitals make me uneasy and I don’t like being there any longer than I have to.

Babies get sick. And when your baby is sick everyone is sick, tired and miserable. Because the boys were so premature, they are prone to get everything and anything. Every week they’ve had a cold or the flu! High temps, ear infections. You name it. NO EXAGGERATION.

We had the worst of the worst a few months ago where Kalani came down with Norovirus and Salmonella food poisoning. Both… At the same time! It was such a horrible and exhausting 5 days in hospital. My little man couldn’t catch a break. And the worst part for me about that hospital stay was trying to tear myself into two again between my twins, with one in hospital and one at home.

BUT… With all the bad aside, we’ve also had some great times too.

The boys have developed their own unique personalities. Kalani is a soft, sensitive, curious cuddle bug, who roars and growls like a tiger. HE IS SUCH A MUMMIES BOY.

Keanu is a loud, outgoing dare devil with a twinkle in his eye who demands all the attention in the world. Just ask all the grandmas at Woolworths!

They are slowly but surely reaching their milestones too, with a little help from physiotherapy.

Keanu is now sitting to crawling, trying to pull himself onto furniture, saying dada and mama and can twinkle his fingers to twinkle, twinkle little star. And Kalani can too! (It’s their favourite song).

Kalani is sitting and commando crawling and saying dada. We find Kalani is about 2 weeks behind Keanu but we don’t mind because he’s still our little baby and he will catch up at his own pace.

Both boys love their food. They also LOVE painting, LOVE water play and absolutely LOVE other children and being out and about being social butterflies. But I guess you have to be social if you’re a twin right?

Everywhere we go people stop me 100 times. Twins are fascinating, I get it! But OMG, could you imagine having quadruplets?

– Are they twins?
– Are they identical?
– Are they both boys?
– Were they premature?
– Were they naturally conceived?
– Will you have anymore?

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, NO! (Joking)

– You must have your hands full?
– Double trouble!
– Twice the love!
– You are so blessed!

I have heard it all!

I say this however, being a first time mum has really tested me. I suffered severe PND (post natal depression) for the first 6 months of motherhood, that I have now managed to overcome.

I would cry at the drop of a hat and it was very tough on me to try and be the best mother to two little humans who had feeding, sleeping and medical issues. As well as dealing with whatever life wanted to throw at me too. Thankfully I had my mum, my sisters and my best friend to keep me grounded through my most darkest days, and give a helping hand.

I now really enjoy being a first time mama to twins. But sometimes, I wonder what it would be like to have a singleton for a day or two! I’ve adjusted quite well and I am more confident within myself and my babies, even if they don’t sleep and have no routine whatsoever. We just go with the flow.

People now ask me how I do it. I don’t know if I can answer that. I just do.

And because of this, it now just comes naturally.

Happy first birthday, Kalani and Keanu.

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Thanks Sam. We wish the boys a wonderful first birthday. And well done Mama, you made it!

*If you or someone you know is suffering from Post Natal Depression you can get information and help at www.panda.org.au