Australian Baby “Must Haves” (First 12 Weeks)

Yes, yes, long time, no post. I’ve been busy. Busy working 60 hours a week, busy with a semi-surprise pregnancy, busy making sure my cat adjusts to my daughter, and of course, busy being Mummy to my little bumblebee girl.

So, yes, moving on with business. From the day I saw that faint second line on a cheap pregnancy test one Saturday afternoon, I began compiling a list of all the ‘stuff’ I’d need to acquire to accommodate the new addition to our family. Ok, I may have started making the list a few months before that day. What? Pinterest is a dangerous place.

While attempting to put together my master list, I quickly came up to the roadblock of not living in North America. In case you didn’t know, the majority of the internet is geared toward residents of the US or Canada. This shouldn’t matter, except for the fact that when you live in Australia, many (read: MOST) of the products aren’t available. Similarly, money-saving tips aren’t applicable due to the lack of coupons, and generally higher cost of living here. The number of times I’ve added “Australia” to search criteria, only to find that a book or toy that is $12 in the US retails for $57 here, is high enough to make me grumble like a curmudgeonly panda. From Youtube to Pinterest, finding Australia-specific baby gear, pregnancy products, and postpartum advice proved too difficult a task, hard as I tried.

In the hope of easing this tremendous burden, I’ve pulled together a list of the products I’ve loved the most during Harper’s first three months of life. Obviously, this might change as she gets older, and not everything will be available throughout the country. I’m located on the Gold Coast, and have easy access to several “baby” shops, along with the usual haunts, like Kmart, Target, Big W, and major supermarkets and department stores. Where possible, I’ve included links for your use, as I currently lack all semblance of photography skills. On with it!

  • ALDI NEWBORN NAPPIES! ($4.29 per pack of 28)
    • This is my #1. Seriously, they’re amazing. Trust me; my daughter wears cloth nappies part-time, so I’m pretty diligent about what goes on her bum.Not only are these nappies cheapest, they’re soft, super absorbent, have an easy to read wetness indicator, and fit perfectly. I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t rave about the performance and quality of Aldi nappies. The package says that they’re meant to fit babies up to 5kg (11 lbs), but Harper successfully wore them until she was seven weeks old, and she weighted in at 6.02 kg at her checkup that week. We received some Huggies as a gift prior to her birth, and she was never able to wear them. We shoved one Huggies newborn nappy on her, watched the poo shoot out the side, and gave the rest of the package to my sister.
  • DYMPLES SCENTED NAPPY SACKS ($6 for 400 at Big W)
    • As Harper’s bum is clad in cloth nappies part-time, I didn’t want to invest in a nappy bin that required refills. Instead, I use an inexpensive lidded trash can, and nappy sacks. Big W has the cheapest prices, and given what they’re used for, I don’t see the point in paying more than I need to.
  • CURASH SIMPLY WATER WIPES ($5 per pack of 80 wipes at Woolworths)
    • No soap, fragrance, or other chemicals are present in these wipes. Just water. I’m all for having the least impact possible on my baby’s skin, and shy of using  a washcloth dipped in lukewarm water, this is it. The first six weeks are especially important in this regard, but we’ll be using the Simply Water wipes indefinitely. We’ve also used Waterwipes brand with great success, but they’re notably more expensive, and budget is no joke these days, so we’ve stuck with Curash.
  • GAIA BATH PRODUCTS (cost varies, found cheapest at Chemist’s Warehouse)
    • Organic, sweet smelling, gentle, and effective. Ok, and a little expensive. But, do you know how much product a baby goes through? Not much. It will take my daughter ages to go through the big bottle of Hair and Body Wash. In fact, I’ll probably have to help her use it up before it expires. I believe in spending my money where it matters most, and this is one of those cases. Harper loves “getting some Gaia” each day, and I can feel content with what I’m putting on her sensitive skin. Plus, the Moisturiser smells like Fruit Loops. Win!
  • PLAIN WHITE BIBS ($10 for a pack of 12 from Target)
    • Boring, but invaluable. My mom picked up a pack for us when she came to visit several weeks ago, and I’ve used them every day since. They’re sooo soft, wash well, and fasten on the side instead of behind the head. When your child is screaming, flipping them around to velcro a super cute bib is low on your list. When Harper’s tongue tie broke a few weeks ago, one of these bibs was sacrificed in the name of having something soft to shove in her mouth to avert the trauma that was taking place. Take my advice, and buy these bibs.
  • ADEN & ANAIS BAMBOO SWADDLES (cheapest online at http://www.babybabyonline.com.au)
    • There’s a reason these muslin blankets are mentioned in most “baby must have” lists. The internet can’t be wrong, folks!😉 These muslins get softer with each wash, serve approximately 1388 purposes (swaddling, tummy time support, light blanket, extra sun protection in the pram, etc.), and come in beautiful patterns and themes. We still swaddle Harper at night, and have tried just about every “swaddle” blanket, sack, or suit, only to find that the Aden & Anais muslins work best.
  • BONDS ZIPPY WONDERSUITS ($20-$25 each at Big W, Target, Best & Less, etc)
    • Ah, the Bonds Wondersuit. An Aussie favourite. Yes, they’re expensive. And, yes, they’re worth every cent. Miss Harper has outgrown all of her size 000 Zip Wondersuits, so I’ll be picking up at least one in size 00 in the next week or so. I’m so impressed by the quality of Bonds clothing, and loved the two way zipper, and fold over feet and hands for the moderately chilly days that Queensland calls “winter.” Plus, they come in adorable patterns, and who doesn’t love an adorably-clad baby?
  • BONDS LEGGINGS ($12-$15 per pack of two at Target)
    • Again, Bonds. I bought two packs of size 0-6 month leggings, and they’ve become staples of her daily wardrobe. They’re super soft and stretchy, and again, certainly worth the money. I’ve found that Bonds clothes are pretty generously sized, so I’m certain that the leggings will last another few months, despite Harper’s rapid growth pattern.
  • BOPPY (Approx. $100 new online at chicco.com.au, or less if buying used)
    • I didn’t actually buy my Boppy. A lovely friend gifted me with several boxes of clothes that her daughter had outgrown, as well as a Boppy and an extra cover. While it wasn’t on my list, I figured I’d at least use it as I figured out a nursing routine. More on that below, but in short: I’ve never used the Boppy as a feeding pillow. Instead, it lived on our couch, and served as a safe and comfy place to lay Harper in the first few weeks of her life as I was recovering from a c-section, and had to minimize strain. She used it for naps, and lounged in it in the evenings. Now that she’s moving more, and loves to wriggle herself away from any constraint, however minor, the Boppy is seeing less action. Still, I couldn’t have done without it, and can foresee using it more as she begins sitting up.
  • LEKA BABY GYM ($45 from Ikea)
    • I can’t stand garish baby stuff, and gravitate toward natural materials, so this wooden gym was really the only one I looked at. I love that it encourages midline play, and doesn’t attract fur the way fabric toys do. Harper began using it almost immediately, and it has been so much fun to see her find new ways to play. This super sweet toy comes out most mornings while I’m sterilising bottles and loading the dishwasher, and can usually entertain Harper for 20-ish minutes. The dangling toys can be switched around or removed to encourage her to look from side to side at the spinning dials (her favourite part- she’s been spinning them like mad since she was about 10 days old), and its free standing structure means it can be used with any soft surface.
  • BRIGHT STARTS SAFARI FLOOR MIRROR ($15 from Kmart)
    • Harper is insanely strong, and has been a tummy time champ from the start, but was growing irritated by her current inability to actually crawl, making her a very grumpy girl at times. Enter this cheap and cheerful, baby safe mirror. My daughter has clearly inherited my vanity, because as soon as she caught a glimpse of “that pretty baby,” she became all too eager to resume her tummy time routine. I love that the mirror folds flat and doesn’t pose any danger to her, should she decide to head-butt it, and she loves looking at herself and whoever is playing with her.
  • BRIGHT STARTS BOUNCER ($17 from Kmart)
    • We have an Ingenuity automatic bouncer that has an adorable toy bar, and plays music and white noise. It barely gets used due to the fact that the bounce isn’t strong enough for Harper’s liking. The cheap manual bouncer, on the other hand, sees plenty of action. I lug it from room to room when I’m cleaning or taking a shower, and Little Miss has occasionally taken short naps in it. Truth be told, I’ve bounced her with my foot while baking cookies, folding laundry, and using the toilet. Seriously, buy the cheap bouncer- your baby likely won’t care about the snazzy features of more expensive options, and I kid you not when I say that our inexpensive bouncer works the same as the sleeker $199 Baby Bjorn version.
  • AVENT NATURALS BOTTLES ($11-$12 each at Baby Buntings or Target)
    • I planned on breastfeeding. Thanks to Harper’s severe tongue tie and high arch, and some minor complications related to my c-section, which necessitated medical treatment that left me unable to pump, that didn’t happen. I’m so glad that I bought these bottles prior to her birth, and recommend them to everyone. She’s never had a moment of reflux or colic, and the bottle design is recommended for mixed feeding, so I would have been comfortable using them had I been able to breastfeed and pump. We’ve also used Avent Classic bottles, which are a bit cheaper at $10ish each, but prefer the Naturals shape.
  • BELLAMY’S ORGANIC INFANT FORMULA ($25-$28 for 900g at Woolworths)
    • Accompanying the Avent Naturals bottles is our formula of choice. It’s comprised of 97% organic ingredients, and was a lifesaver when we were transitioning Harper from the formula provided by the hospital, which wrought havoc on her little tummy. Bellamy’s is the only organic formula that is readily available in supermarkets, and is roughly half the cost of other organic brands available online. To be honest, I’m not super thrilled with the ingredient list, particularly the inclusion of organic palm oil, but it’s the best option I’ve found. I toyed with the idea of homemade formula, but wasn’t able to source raw milk or cream, so Bellamy’s Organic it is.
  • BOON GRASS & ACCESSORIES ($40 for the mat, $8 for accessories at Baby Bunting or Target)
    • Oh my word, do I love Boon Grass. This drying mat is a cute addition to our counter top, and provides some much-needed organization when prepping bottles each day. We have two separate mats for the bottles- a small one purchased when I planned on bottle feeding on an occasional basis, and a larger one added later- along with two Twigs, a Stem, and a Fly for hanging the bits and pieces to dry. Bonus: it’s fantastic for drying glassware, as all liquid drains into a reservoir under the mat.
  • BOBA SLEEPY WRAP ($75 at http://www.babycarriersaustralia.net.au)
    • This was a hand-me-down from my sister in-law, and it’s been invaluable. My c-section incision was very tender for the first two month or so, and this soft stretchy wrap allowed me to wear Harper without discomfort. I’ve tried a few other wrap carriers, and the Boba is far and away my favourite. I still use it on a daily basis, especially when she’s fussy or I need to get off the couch and move a bit. I love having her nestled close to me, and she’s been known to nap in the Boba for three hours at a time when she’s feeling particularly sooky. The one downside of the wrap is the heavy fabric, which sometimes leads to a very sweaty baby, and will make using it in summer less than appealing. I’m hoping to find a cooler alternative for the warmer months, but for now, the Sleepy Wrap is still king.
  • ERGOBABY CARRIER ($169ish at David Jones or Baby Bunting)
    • Harli uses the Ergo whenever we go out with Harper. He prefers the structure it provides over the stretchy carrier, and we both appreciate how simple it is to use. It’s so sweet to see the bond that he and Harper have thanks to baby-wearing; she cuddles into him, and he talks to her about all the noises and sights around her. Again, she likes to sleep in the carrier. Without the Ergo, errands would be a much more difficult task. It’s really handy to not have to worry about loading and unloading the pram, or making room for it in shops. There are several versions of the Ergo, and I’ve yet to hear a bad report on any of them. We have the X-tra model because we’re both tall, big, people, and prefer the longer shoulder and waist straps.

Not listed, but required just the same when your baby begins their invasion: a freezer full of meals that you’ve pulled together ahead of time (things like burritos, casseroles, pasta bakes, and shredded chicken for salads and tacos are all super helpful when you’re too tired to make dinner), a simple meal plan when you do feel like cooking, at least two pairs of comfy leggings, a can of dry shampoo for that moment in the middle of the day when you realise that you haven’t showered and that topknot you’re rocking needs some refreshing, and a good book to read while your bub is eating.

In a few days, I’ll post my pregnancy and postpartum recovery favourites. Stay tuned😉

 

 

 

 


Isn’t She Lovely?

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It’s true. Come June 2nd, or thereabouts, I’ll be joining the Cult of Motherhood. Excited, nervous, and impatient, I am. God is good! Harli, Loki, and I can’t wait to meet her.🙂


“Lucky for me, I have you to tie my shoes”

(My Big Fat Greek Wedding for the win!)

Thus was my sentiment to Harli earlier in the week, with bathroom habits referenced rather than shoe-tying. I’m not helpless, or a child, right? I could reeeeealllly go for a 64 pack of Crayola, along with one of those “Jumbo” activity books that my mom used to buy at Wal Mart for $2.97 in the hopes of keeping me occupied for more than 15 minutes, but I am most certainly an adult. An adult who drinks hot chocolate in the afternoon at around two, and occasionally enjoys single serve macaroni and cheese (from the BLUE BOX) for lunch, but an adult just the same.

Looking for proof, you skeptical sort? Well, I’m married- only adults do that! And I can drive, though I probably shouldn’t over here, as I’m my spacial relations are still a bit scary when I’m driving the wrong side of the car. Have a look at my house sometime, and you’ll find it spotless, aside from the almost constant presence of clumps of white fur on the floor, courtesy of my Chinchilla-cross-Persian cat who desperately needs to be groomed, but has parents who are too poor to afford the vet visit required to prove that he isn’t going to harm other cats at the grooming centre in Pet Barn, and is instead molting. He has the decency to walk around while self-grooming, and therefore spreads his fluffy deposits in every room of our townhouse. Loki even shuts the door of Harli’s “study” (it’s a bedroom devoted to his “collectibles” [TOYS] and RPG books, but it has a desk in it, so let’s pretend) behind him, so the floor looks as though a winter frost has hit if I’m not diligent in checking every day or two. No joke, before we got Loki Lou, I had to vacuum the downstairs of our place every three or four days, and the upstairs portion maybe every three weeks. Now, the entire place has to be tackled every other day, which is fine at the moment, given that I’m still home all day, but still annoying. I might just be developing better homemaking tendencies, and care a little more about how clean our house looks and smells. Anyway, point is: the house looks decent, so I am an adult, yes?

On point Panda. Things feel better than they have in months. Nothing has changed, circumstantially at least, but my days are happier and much more peaceful. I’m actually heading toward feeling pretty amazing, again. It has most certainly been an answered prayer, and I’m so so thankful. I know that there are a number of people/families who send up a word for Harli and I, and it means the world. It’s so corny, but I know when we’re being prayed for.

Practical speak: I’ve lost a little bit of weight- woohoo! Not much- like six pounds, but still.🙂 Better eating habits (the hot chocolate and Easy Mac are pretty rare, truth be told) and exercise, who would have thought? I have the time, so devoting 20-30 minutes each morning to a dvd or YouTube workout isn’t exactly a sacrifice. Financially, we’re still ok, but our debt is the same as it was two years ago, so increasing our income remains a requirement if we ever want to be in able to afford to have children. Yes, I know that if I wait for “the right time,” it will never come and then I’ll be old and crusty and lonely. But really, we can’t afford it right now, and that’s just the honest truth. If God moves otherwise, then we won’t be upset, but it definitely isn’t our plan to add to the family before the end of next year.

On the subject of additional income, an idea of sorts has sprung up recently, and I’m praying for wisdom before we leap into anything. Don’t panic; we’re not going to flip houses, become Tupperware demonstrators, or work in the adult film industry.😉 It’s only a small thought today, but any extra intercession would be most appreciated. I know- gimme, gimme, gimme, but I’m wicked like that.

Smile, Panda still loves you! xx


Life From the Passenger Seat

No need to brace yourself; I’m not going to have a proper whinge in your direction. However, I feel the need to document a bit of where life is moving, and that isn’t always a cheerful affair. Let’s be honest, kids: I’M not a cheerful affair. I’m not an affair, at all. Not even an event, and certainly not a spectacle. I’m just a panda whose life is still whizzing by, and I’m trying to find the good in it without ignoring the flaws. 

As of today, I’ve been without a job for five months. This is distressing, disheartening, frustrating, and a myriad of other adverbs with mopey connotations. When I quit my job in November, I didn’t anticipate still being out of work in mid-April. At most, I expected to have a new role by sometime in January, seeing as no one hires in December due to the holiday season. It seems that God’s still refining me, and my pride. I’ve had several interviews, and nothing has fallen into place. In some cases, the potential employer doesn’t have the courtesy to even ring to say I haven’t been successful after the interview.

Incidental to the above, I won’t be able to go home to Iowa next month for my best friend’s wedding. We were waiting to find out if some alternative funding would come through, but no. The dread I feel in breaking this news to her is palpable. What if I can’t get back before she moves away? What if I never see her again? It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve realised that my “goodbye” in 2010 is the final one I’ll share with someone, but it’s almost too much to contemplate in this case. We’ve been friends since 4th Grade Orchestra, shared an apartment for two years, and she did my make-up for my wedding to Harli nearly four years ago. To miss her big day feels much bigger than I anticipated. Everything about life “here,” instead of “there,” has been more difficult than anticipated.

In incredible news, Harli and I are in no way struggling, financially, on one income. Wait, not true! My student loans are currently in deferment, but other than that, we’re doing just fine. There aren’t words enough to express my gratitude for God’s provision in this situation. Bills are paid, and there’s still enough left over for a date night to the cinema every now and then.

I’m still struggling with some emotional baggage, particularly in relation to feeling “forgotten.” For all my claims of leading a life full of friends, and an amazing church family, in Iowa, only a few people have made an effort to keep in touch. I know that’s just what happens when geography gets in the way, but sometimes it’s biting to feel insignificant to people I thought were precious.

Six weeks ago, we added a fluffy member to the family in the form of a Chinchilla-cross-Persian named Loki. His full name is Loki Lou Laufeyson, because we’re Marvel geeks and “Lou” just sounds so sweet when I’m scolding him. He has the sweetest little voice, super soft paws, and a delightful attitude in the mornings. I just love my Loki boy.🙂 Even sweeter: we only paid $100 for him from the previous owner. He came with his litter box, three scratching posts, some food, up to date vaccinations, and desexed, so he was quite the steal. Harli’s family are all very fond of him, and he’s just fine with that. He loves Harli best, but is content to be my cat during the day. And, that’s enough chatter for you to see I’m obsessed with my pet, so we’ll stop there.

H and I celebrated the wedding of my closest friend in Australia, last month, and it was incredible. No exaggeration, drama, or fibbing, it was the most beautiful celebration I can imagine, and a perfect representation of her relationship with her husband, family, and friends. As her brother-in-law was giving a toast, praising the Lord for His provision, and speaking honestly about faith in this world, I nearly wept for my dear friend. The time I’ve spent with Mia and her entourage has been so good for my panda soul. I know where I belong in those moments, and that is an answered prayer.

Familial issues and drama are still there. You know.

Harli and I started a “Bible in 90 Days” reading plan a little over a month ago, and are progressing nicely. It’s really fascinating to discuss stories and teachings that have been part of my consciousness since childhood, with an adult man who is reading them for the first time. He’s wowed in ways I’ve ceased to be, and the opportunity to re-read the OT is so precious right now. Love, love this part of our married life🙂 Fingers crossed it continues.

Lots of “lifestyle” changes are starting to come about, and should anything stick, I’ll doodle back and report. Let’s not celebrate before the table has been laid, kk?

Overall, I don’t feel terribly in control these days. I’m sort of just along for the ride, and miss being the one behind the wheel, so to speak. I suppose life is sweet enough from the passenger seat, at least for this season. I’m not in a valley, or belting a tune a la Maria in The Sound of Music, and that’s perfectly fine. My Lord is amazing, even in the quiet.


Um, yuck?

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I’m not sure if I should be completely disgusted, or just thankful that my feet are so coarse that they keep my floor clean.


Six Months Later

Still angry. Heart is still broken. Still fat. Still lonely. Still wishing for the ability to change the last decade of my life. There are little glimmers of sunlight, but most of the time I’m just distracting myself into ignoring the darkness that crashes around.

And yes, I have made an effort to change all this. I’m just not worth saving, at the moment.


Here you go

“Maybe I’m just angry and bitter, and can’t be fucked to move in a better direction. Yes, I just said “fucked.” Cover up your horror, and tell me that God’s left me because I’m lazy and the thought of going to church makes me tear up as I write this. By all means, connect my health with the state of my relationship with Christ. Or, just continue in your world where being employed or pregnant means you can’t answer the phone, and the only conversations worth having with me are the ones where I don’t share that I cry most days. Yea, I chose to live in Australia, and that means I don’t get to be lonely or lost. I apparently forfeited the right to beg for one little corner of my life to go unchanged when I made the decision to immigrate. I’m 26, childless, nearly friendless, and I lost almost all belief in the God I thought I knew. Apparently, this lack of offspring means I have more than enough time to cater to people who give exactly two shits and three giggles about me, and that I can’t possibly have a full life without being a mother. I won’t arrive, or have a valid word to say, until then, right? I do work 50 hours a week, though that doesn’t really count, does it? Maybe I look at who I was at 18 and know that she’d be ashamed of me. And maybe I just eat to keep myself from screaming sometimes. Or, maybe, I’m too busy making sure no one sees how “less than” I really am to find the time for the treadmill.”

The above was written approximately five months ago. Much as I hate to admit this, it pretty much sums up how I’m still feeling. I don’t go to church; facing the loss of my old life seems to happen most during worship, and my husband is super awkward and makes the whole experience really uncomfortable, so I just stay home. Community has always been really important, vital even, to my life, but I suppose I need to give up that, too. I don’t believe in substitutionary atonement/penal substitution (Wiki it) anymore, and that’s pretty much killed my relationship with God. Woo. I really want to still believe, but I’m just not strong enough right now. I fill the hole with furniture, food, and anger toward my family and husband. I’d love to go back and know the love of God, again, but He seems to have given me all that I ask for and then walked away. “Here you go. Stop your bitching. You blew your chance, and I can’t handle your bullshit excuses, so call me when you’re not a mess” or something to that effect. The only time I’m genuinely happy these days is when I let myself rest in memories of days that will never be repeated, when I had friends who loved and supported me, a church family that wrapped itself around my tears, and a fiance who would never let me talk to him the way my husband does. I don’t tweet, or update my Facebook status very often, because I have nothing of value to share. The JEL girl died, the 20 year old with wanderlust is no more, and the hope I used to so honestly trust is a shadow. No one cares. I put on my happy voice for my weekly calls to my mother and sister, and that’s good enough. My (family member) shredded me into little pieces, and no one seems to understand that they just won’t go back together. I tried, honest I did. No matter. By the time Harli is home from work in an hour, every trace of my tears will be gone, because he can’t do anything to stop them. Lovely.


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