Monday, September 23, 2013

What's in my phone

[For those of you who follow my RSS feeds, you might have seen a draft post that was accidentally published earlier which was removed. This is the final completed post for your reading pleasure]

Following my recent What's in your bag post, I started thinking about the stuff on my smartphone. Our phones have become our new all-in-one multi-purpose gadget anyway... not only does it function as a traditional communication device, it's also a camera, library, photo album, music player, internet browser, clock, calendar, organiser, and GPS, among many other things.

My trusty phone has served as my little window to the rest of the world during those long sleepless nights and cluster feeding sessions with bubby. Sometimes I wonder how on earth I lived without a smartphone before.

So I was wondering, what are some of your favourite apps that get you through the day? I'll share mine if you share yours...

For keeping my with my reads:
  • Feedly - since the retirement of Google Reader, this is my new choice for keeping up with my RSS feeds of my favourite blogs and news sites. I decided to use this platform because of the pretty but simple and straightforward layout and easy migration of feeds across from Google Reader.
  • Flipboard - this is actually also a type of RSS and news feed aggregator, presented in a cool magazine-style layout, but I've found it to be an incredible way for discovering new content and interesting articles.
  • FBReader - my choice of eBook reader as it supports quite a wide range of file types and formats, and has a simple and intuitive layout for navigating through my library of books.

For staying connected:
  • Facebook - because everyone I know is using it, 'nuff said.
  • Instagram - actually I initially started using this more because of the great photo filters, but found the beautiful stream of photos shared by others very addictive.
  • WhatsApp - an awesome cross-platform messaging platform to ping anyone, anywhere around the world. It's like the 'Skype of SMS'.

For my crafty side:
  • Pinterest - sooo addictive... I collect and hoard hundreds of crafty and sewing ideas and tutorials for inspiration.
  • Etsy - I keep a tiny little shop corner here, but also enjoy browsing through lovely handmade items from other sellers.

For making my life easier:
  • - this is my little pocket organiser for keeping track of appointments and setting up reminders and to-do lists.
  • Evernote - I use this like a bigger notepad for more extended planning such as holiday/party planning, writing blog post ideas or menu/meal planning.
  • Pocket - I absolutely love this nifty tool which enables you to save web pages and online articles to read later offline. Everytime I come across an article, recipe or project that I'd like to take my time to read over, I just pop it into the 'Pocket' and retrieve it later when I'm free.
  • Swiftkey - this is first app I've ever purchased, it's an intelligent predictive keyboard app. Typing on the tiny keyboard on my phone has always been such a bane, so after reading a number of reviews and recommendations on this app, I decided to try it out and found that it actually lived up to all its rave reviews. The great thing is that the more I use it, the more it learns about my writing style and choice of words and becomes more intuitive to use.

So what are your favourite apps that help you navigate through the day? I'd love to hear your recommendations on any great apps to check out.

Linking up to Jess at IBOT.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

What's in my bag (Take 2)

This morning as I was tossing some stuff into my bag, it occurred to me that my bag seems less packed with two children compared to two years ago when I just had the one baby.

I think at that time as a new mum, I was prone to over-packing in wanting to be prepared for anything and everything. But over the past two years, I've learnt dial-down on the over-preparedness so I can travel light since I now have two little ones in tow.

Here's a peek into what I carry around in my bag these days...

  • Two cloth nappies (I like to include at least one Bitti Tutto or Ecobumba nappy which can be adjusted to use on either Grace or Nathan)
  • Wet wipes (I use my cloth wipes at home)
  • Wet bag for soiled nappies
  • Spare 'sposie diaper for Grace
  • Small box of biscuits/snacks
  • Water bottle for Nathan
  • Baby sling for carrying Grace
  • Compact fold-up tote (as some retailers now have a plastic-bag-free policy, plus it folds up into a cute little lady-bug which serves as distraction item for the kids if required)
  • Wallet
  • Phone
  • Lip gloss

Things I've learnt to do without...
  • Nursing cover - I'm no longer nervous about nursing when out and about, and am more skilled with latching on baby so I don't really worry about accidentally 'flashing' someone when popping bub on... and even if it happens and I get a horrified look from someone, nowadays I'm just "meh, why were you staring at my boob in the first place?"
  • Changing pad - Most restaurants and shopping centres have change tables, and if I need something to protect a surface (like in the car) I just use the baby sling
  • Spare change of clothing for kids - I'm more relaxed about little messes nowadays, and that stain can always wait until we get home (if we're planning to be out for a more extended trip outside, I might keep a spare T-shirt and shorts in the car)
  • Toys - I discovered that kids are never really interested in their own toys when out and about anyway... a fork in a restaurant is somehow so much more interesting for some reason
  • Camera - Unless it's a special outing to somewhere different, I usually make do with my phone camera to capture any impromptu moments if we're just out at the shops or running errands

What about you? What do you carry around in your bag these days and how has it changed over the years?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A New Routine

So after my parents left, I've been finding my feet to get into my own daily rhythm and routine with the kids. It took some trial and error, but I think we've all finally settled into a nice workable routine. Nathan goes to daycare two days a week and spends the remaining days at home with me.

It's a little more challenging looking after two kids on my own on those days. But having a rough plan in mind definitely helps steer me through the day. Even if the day goes a little off every now and then, at least I have a general guideline to steer back towards.

As I have a number of friends who are about to pop their second baby, I thought for their benefit I would share what my day looks like with the two kids at this point in time (bear in mind that Grace is now about two months old, so she's more settled compared to the early newborn days)...
Kids start waking up.
Morning drill: Change nappies and jammies, prepare breakfast for Nathan, nurse Grace.

Clear breakfast dishes and start laundry cycle on the washing machine.

After breakfast the kids spend a little play time together under supervision by me. They might do tummy time together, play peek-a-boo, or Nathan might cook up a pretend meal for Grace or have her as his passenger on his pretend bus or train. Nathan really seems to enjoy having another little person around to hang around with.
Then Grace goes down for her first nap after play time.
Spend some one-on-one play time with Nathan.
If the weather is nice, we might head out to the backyard so Nathan can run around while I hang up the laundry.

Nathan has his morning tea and is allowed some TV time.
Grace wakes up from her first nap around this time.
After nursing, Grace has some tummy/mat time or sits in her rocker watching her big brother play.
Start preparing lunch for Nathan and myself.
Grace goes down for her second nap around this time.

Nathan and I eat lunch.
After lunch, Nathan is allowed to watch a little TV before his nap while I clear the lunch dishes.

Nathan goes down for his nap.
Grace wakes up from her second nap around his time.
After nursing her, I spend some one-on-one play time with her.

Grace goes down for her third nap.
Then I have a little quiet time to do some blogging, sewing or reading.

Nathan wakes up from his nap.
I try to encourage him to have some independent play around this time.
If the weather is nice, he can have some play time outside while I take down the laundry.

After Nathan has a quick snack, he is allowed some TV time.
I start the dinner prep. So far I've been trying to keep things easy to manage by pre-cooking most dishes on the days Nathan is at daycare.
Grace wakes up from her third nap around this time.
After nursing Grace, she has some tummy/mat time or sits in her rocker watching all the activities going on around her.

Grace goes down for a short catnap.
Hubby usually arrives home around this time.
Father and son spend some one-on-one time together while I finish up cooking dinner.

We all sit down for dinner together.
Grace would have woken up from her catnap by now, so I might be nursing her at the table while we eat dinner.
After dinner, Nathan is allowed some TV time while hubby gives Grace her bath and I clear the dinner dishes.

Hubby starts Nathan's bedtime routine while I nurse Grace and put her to bed.
Nathan has his bath and has some warm milk before saying goodnight.

And that's the end of another busy day with the kids.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Guest posting on cloth nappies

Hi folks, today I'm guest posting at Mummy's Underserved Blessings as part of a series on 'Sharing Your Passion' hosted by the lovely Lisa

And for those of you who know me, almost nothing gets me more excited and passionate than talking about one of my favourite topics: Cloth Nappies!

Do hop on over to Lisa's blog to read and support my post: Five reasons why cloth nappies are easier than you think

Monday, September 02, 2013

A new secret weapon

Just like my discovery of the secret weapon for helping Nathan settle down for his naps, I finally discovered my new secret weapon for baby #2 which turns out to be this old classic:
One of the biggest challenges I had in the early weeks with Grace was getting her to settle down for naps and bedtime. She needed a lot of help by rocking, patting, carrying and all. But the top absolutely full-proof method was simply: nursing.
I resorted to it as at that time everything was all mixed up with cluster feeds, growth spurts and wonder weeks. However eventually the habit got to the point that I often had to sleep next to her literally the whole night just so that she could sleep.
She is still too young to know how to find her own fingers and thumb to soothe herself, so we tried the pacififer on her several times. She struggled to accept it at first and really fought against it. It must have tasted so wrong compared to mummy. But then one day, like magic, she just decided that the pacifier was not so bad after all.
Yes, that's right. It turns out, Grace is a pacifier-baby (completely different from my first thumb-sucking baby). There are obvious downsides to the pacifier (as all parents of pacifier-babies can tell you)... the most annoying one is having to run in to put it back into baby's mouth whenever it falls out (if baby is not fully asleep yet).
But apart from those little downsides, it has been a tremendous sanity and sleep saver for me. Thank you to the inventor of the pacifier!