AWESOME Adventure Clubs

Many people only promote what they are paid to promote. Disclaimer: I was NOT paid to promote this company or their app. I only do so because I think they are awesome. Each experience has added so much to my and Ben’s life – and if you have kids aged 0-10, I strongly feel it would add immense value to yours!

Adventure Clubs was created by Janelle Schroy a few years ago. As stated by her on the Adventure Clubs website, “I stood at the window, and put my head out, gasping for air, wishing I was anywhere but here — home with two children under the age of two. I was lonely. I was tired. Tired of the monotony of “the routine”. Frustrated with the lack of adult interaction and mind-stimulating conversation.

So true! We all feel like that. Are we just “moms”? Many people class us as such. Tired, food splattered and worthless (or so you feel at times around organised, well-dressed people who seem to have it all together). My life changing moment came when I went on my first adventure. I met like-minded, friendly moms. I did something new and exciting. Ben had a great time. I felt renewed and invigorated and inspired. I once read a quote by Lisa T. Shepherd that said “In raising children, I have lost my mind but found my soul.” Thanks to Adventure Clubs, my soul and mind feel intact! 😉

The idea behind their company is to make an adventurous life easy for families with small children – as one of the most important things that we can do for our children is to spend quality time with them.

Their aims are to create childhood experiences that are:

  • experiential
  • social
  • educational

As a brain-based, fun-loving, unconventional teacher… I love this! School, and life, is meant to be about GREAT experiences. Albert Einstein believed that, “Play is the highest form of research.

Play is so important to optimal child development that it has been recognised by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights as a right of every child.

Many studies have been done worldwide by organisations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics. Here are some of the findings:

  • Play is essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and youth.
  • Play also offers an ideal opportunity for parents to engage fully with their children.
  • As children play, they learn how to make friends.
  • An important part of children’s play is learning to interact with other children – learning to share, negotiate, lead, follow, listen, collaborate, plan, imagine, and show affection
  • Play also provides a state of mind that, in adults as well as children, is uniquely suited for high-level reasoning and insightful problem solving.
  • Children are able to solve problems and make decisions in a safe space.

So, when our kids play, or “adventure” they are not just “having fun” – they are learning too!

With Adventure Clubs, Ben and I have experienced the following:

  • eaten healthy foods… and enjoyed them!
  • attended book clubs and read awesome stories
  • been to Oranjezicht farm to learn about winter vegetables
  • made our own pizzas
  • fed and stroked farm animals
  • made flower crowns and pretended to be a prince
  • attended a Fancy Nancy tea party (because why should girls have all the fun?!)
  • learned about music and movement. Ben’s favourite instrument was the djembe drum!

The list goes on and on, with each experience more awesome then the last!

                          

Adventure Clubs has had such a profound impact on Ben’s social development and his growth in confidence. It’s also been a lifesaver for me after my miscarriage – a way to keep busy, socialise with other moms and spend quality time with my boy.

Visit their website or Facebook page, download the app – and prepare to be amazed!

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Travel with a Baby or Toddler

We’ve been incredibly lucky to have been able to travel a lot over the past few years, thanks to Tim’s job as a producer of kid’s animation (check out his work here: http://sunriseproductions.tv/munki-and-trunk/ and here: https://www.youtube.com/sunriseJungleBeat). I’ve also been working from home which has allowed me to work, well anywhere! As long as I have a laptop/iPad and an internet connection I’m good to go!

Since Ben has been around we’ve been to:

  • J Bay (practice trip for the real deal!)
  • South Korea
  • Singapore x2
  • Indonesia – an amazing island called Batam
  • London x 3
  • Bristol

2 of these trips were for periods of a month. We calculated that Ben’s done around 18 flights, 6 ferry trips and many bus/train rides. He’s becoming quite a seasoned traveller!

We’ve learned a LOT over the years. What works… and what really does not!!

Here’s our survival guide:

1. This list from Baby Jakes Mom is the best we’ve found: http://www.babyjakesmom.com/the-ultimate-baby-holiday-packing-list/

Dani is awesome in general! If you need tips on starting solids or moving to finger foods she is the best!

These are the things she mentioned that really stood out for me:

  • Empaped Suppositories (easier than administering syrup to a hysterical baby)
  • Child leash/backpack (especially for airports and busy public spaces) – we haven’t used one yet but I can see the value when laden with bags in a busy space

2. Decide in advance who does what/how you will take turns. You’re going to be tired and you don’t want to argue up in the air when you should be a team.

3. Travel with a carrier or pram. My favourites are my SSC from Ubuntu Baba and my Girasol ring sling from PiPaPo. As Ben has gotten older he does sometimes prefer a pram. He likes to be in a dark, quiet space. We bought a pram cover from Baby City that blocks out the light so that he can nap in bright airports in peace.

4. Pack things in separate smaller bags for on the plane: I have a nappy bag (nappies, wipes, cream), an extra clothing bag (spit happens…), a toy bag (new toys that are novel and not too noisy) and a food bag (bottles, formula, snacks). These are all stored in one big nappy bag.

5. Do your research – What bassinet will you get on the plane? Do they provide food for your kid? Should you bring your own? Is there a camp cot at your accommodation? Does the taxi/car hired have a car seat? Be prepared.

6. Toys are essential. My favourites as Ben has grown up are Melissa and Doug’s water paint book (no mess!) and their wooden puzzles that open to reveal cool things – this keeps Ben busy for ages! Stickers are also great – literally just stars or dots. Stick them on their fingers and they spend ages plakking and sticking and pulling!

7. Try to create some calm amongst the chaos. For us this is bringing Ben’s sleepy sac and his bunny. Take things slow – it’s ok for others to wait a bit while you pack/unpack/settle your kid.

8. TV can be a lifesaver. We try to reduce Ben’s screen time. On a flight, however, we – and the people around us need to stay sane. So we preload some shows for Ben in case the wheels fall off. His favourite show at the moment is Daniel Tiger. We love it too because it teaches great values – such as “When something seems bad, turn it around, and find something good!

9. Cling to routine – and don’t! Sound confusing? Routine has helped us immensely. Ben settles into a new place quickly because he feels secure in the routine we have created. We try to stick to this. However, sometimes it’s just not going to work – and then there is no point forcing it! Example: the night flight to Singapore where Ben slept 30 minutes – the WHOLE night! He was super happy. He slept well the next day and after a few days was back to his normal routine. Me? A stressed, anxious wreck!! In that situation I needed to calm. We just needed to snuggle. If he’s awake, he’s awake.

Most important, have fun! Savour every moment!

Do you have any tips to add? Comment below. I’d love to add them to my survival list!

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A Silent Miscarriage

This is not the happiest of posts for my second attempt at blogging. I promise I’ll be focusing on some of the awesome elements of parenthood over time. But writing is therapeutic and I figure that getting these thoughts out of my head will a. help me process where I’m at and b. maybe provide thought/relief/information for others out there.

2 weeks ago I went for my first scan for baby #2. This was meant to be the 8 week scan, and if I’m totally honest, I was a little uneasy. I was nauseous and had sore boobs etc, but something felt off. I put it down to being pessismistic about fertility and pregnancy and myself in general. I’m polycystic, so falling pregnant is a struggle. I’ve been in and out of fertility clinic and taken some awful induction medication. I had high blood pressure with Ben and gestational diabetes.

My amazing gynae started the scan and was immediately uncomfortable. There wasn’t a heartbeat and the yolk sac was large – a sign that baby was not feeding from it. But there was the baby. I could see its head and its body. My brain did not want to process this. She sent me for a 2 HCG tests. These happened over 48 hours – a Friday and a Sunday. Not the greatest time to do them and not the happiest way to spend a weekend.

I was broken. How could this happen? Why was I being punished? I had just quit my job. At the time (and I guess even now) I felt like I was already questioning who I was and what I wanted from life – and now this? I was completely in denial. I Googled compulsively, even though I knew that I wouldn’t find the answers I wanted. I had ridiculous hope. “What if I ovulated later?” “Perhaps I have a tilted uterus (I do but that wasn’t the point) and that’s masking the heartbeat.” Etc etc.

And then the nausea became less. I continued to hope. At 6 weeks, with Ben, we had seen an empty sac. By 9 weeks he was there with a strong heartbeat. On Sunday eve, my gynae phoned. My HCG levels had barely risen – and definitely not by the minimum expected. I was also showing to be only around 6.5 weeks pregnant. There was no hope. But she told me to come in for one more scan, just to put my mind at ease.

At the last scan, there was our island baby. But it had grown smaller by 2 days. Still no heartbeat. The gestational sac on ultrasound was ominously silent. This helped put me at ease. My gynae has also experienced a miscarriage and her support has been immeasurable during this time.

The next decision was how to proceed. My body didn’t know that the baby was no longer alive, hence the slow rising HCG levels (instead of falling), the lack of bleeding and the continuing pregnancy symptoms. This is known as a silent or missed miscarriage. Most women only go for a 12 week scan, and it is at this point that they find out or start to bleed. It’s a long time to wait and my gynae felt that it would be more traumatic. She  suggested an evacuation. A huge part of me wanted to miscarry naturally. I didn’t want to be knocked out and have my baby scraped out of me. It was so final and impersonal – I didn’t feel in control. I spoke at length to friends and family and finally decided on the evacuation. It would help me move on quickly and allow me to start healing emotionally and physically for Ben, for Tim – and ultimately for baby #2. Having fertility issues, I didn’t want to compromise my health any further.

I felt at ease going in. My doctor kept me so calm and positive. When I woke I felt more at peace. I couldn’t go back. I couldn’t hang on to hope. It was over. I had to focus on the future.

I ended up back at the hospital 6 days later with bleeding. At my last scan this week my lining is still a little thick. So it’s going to mean careful monitoring. I may need to be patient. But I’m focusing on my blessings. I have an amazing husband and a beautiful son. Ben is my everything. I’ve been able to hug him every day and that makes me incredibly aware of how lucky I am.

From a rational point, I know that this baby must have had massive chromosomal defects. It wouldn’t have survived. And I didn’t feel it kick – so there isn’t that emotional link. But it still sucks. And it still hurts. It means more medication, more scans, more blood tests and more time. I asked my gynae for a picture. Because I want to honour this memory. I don’t want to dwell and be negative. But it meant something to me. We were ready and we were excited. And we’ll get there again one day. I told friends and family earlier this time. With Ben it was family/close friends at 12 weeks and Facebook (oh, Facebook) at 20. I don’t regret that. The support I’ve received has been a huge part of the reason I can be positive.

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I still have some weepy days. The most recent was when some lovely, well-meaning people asked me when Ben was going to get a sibling and mentioned that 2 years was a great gap. And I didn’t know how to respond. But – unlike before Ben – I don’t have the awful, hateful feelings I had. I can see babies and pregnant women. And I am exceptionally happy for them. I delight in a newborn baby. And I remain hopeful that I will get to experience that joy all over again one day.

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Where to Begin…

I guess starting a blog when your toddler is 20 months old is only slightly slack, right?!

I’m going to use this site as a way to document our time together – the ups, the downs and the amazing adventures we go on and create each day. I’d also like to go back and look at pregnancy, life with a newborn, our approach to solids – what worked, what didn’t.

I’ve joined www.adventuresclubs.com as a leader so expect to see lots of activities and outings. I’ve recently quit my job. I used to work from home, creating educational content for an iPad based schooling system. I also did some moderating on the side. I’m currently taking time to figure myself out… at 30 years of age I feel like there’s something more to me. Who am I? What do I want from life? I LOVE being a mom – and I want to do that with all of my heart and energy. But, what else can I do alongside this? How can the two marry? Is my place still in education? Who knows? But I’m certainly going to try enjoy this time of questing and questioning as I spend time with my beautiful boy.

Luckily my amazing husband is so supportive of where I am. I’ll be chatting more about how I got to this point in a future post.

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