Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Saturday breakfast 2

This is one of our lazy Saturdays again. We preferred to stay home and Che (for a change) prepared our breakfast. French toast and omelette! Yummy! This is Kimi's plate by the way.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Fishy, fishy

During nappy change, I give Kimi a little book to pre-occupy him and minimise his wiggly movements. I also talk to him, asking questions, telling stories, to pre-occupy him even more. I used to sing nursery rhymes but it no longer works to keep him still. If I don’t pre-occupy him with other things, nappy change can be very difficult and messy especially if there’s poo involved – imagine him reaching his bottom, getting his soiled nappy, and walking on top of the bed as quickly as he could.

The past few days I’ve been using the same book, “My Very First Book of Words” by Eric Carle, which I’ve read it to him a few times with matching actions and associations a few weeks ago. I focused on the sun and the star as I can easily act them out and describe while I change the nappy. After 3-4 of days of looking at the sun and star, he probably got bored and flipped the pages. He suddenly put down the book, joined his hands together and wiggled it while saying “fishy, fishy.” I was surprised, stopped what I was doing with the nappy and looked at the book. Yes, he saw the illustration of the fish and he remembered what I acted out a few weeks back. I called on his Tatay to see it himself. We were both excited.

One realisation: kids are really like a sponge. They may not show or manifest that they’ve picked up what you said or did straightaway. But, it is surely there to be seen later. The more you stimulate them, the better.

A Walk to Work (Remember?)

Walking is a usual thing downunder especially if you rely on public transport. I have my fair share. I started walking to and from work since I started with my current employer 15 months ago. Remember I shared with you in a previous post that I liked the office location when I first saw the job ad?

The office is only 2 kilometres of residential and industrial roads from home. There is no bus heading that way though so I need to walk for about 25 minutes, one way, except when someone gives me a lift home or when the weather is so bad that I had to take a cab. I must admit there are times that I hate I'm walking especially during the winter season when it's so cold and frosty. But, there are more instances that I love it as it gives me time to think and reflect especially when the sun is up and the breeze is nice. The regular walk was also an efficient way to exercise and loose the baby weight I gained during pregnancy.

However after having 2 broken umbrellas to wind storm and losing 10 kilograms of weight, the routine changed this morning when hubby drove me to work (he got his license the other day and already secured the car insurance). I know I should think about the benefits of walking but I also want to enjoy having a cutie chauffer in the meantime. Who would not like one?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Bye bye Formula!

In mid-August, a very close friend, Carla, made an entry about her experience in finding the perfect growing up milk for her daughter Simone (my goddaughter) who is barely 3 weeks younger than my son Kimi. It was a very good read especially for new mums who have no idea what milk to give their babies when either their breast milk supply is already dried up or when it’s not enough and they need to top up. Of course, I can't help not to comment and share my experience as below.

Finding the right formula is indeed a nightmare for some moms who can’t fully breastfeed due to insufficient milk (like my case) or another reason. I was decided to give Kimi 100% breastmilk during the first three months that he is staying in Geelong, I did not buy any formula prior his arrival. But he was not sleeping very well during his first three days and he seemed to be very hungry so I decided to top up with formula. Choosing the right formula was tricky.

Doctors and maternal child health nurse down under do not recommend any formula milk as much as possible. When asked they usually say that formula milk is just the same for any brand. So, I limited my choices with the brands that I also saw in Manila – it’s either S26 or NAN. My niece and nephew were on NAN HA before so it was easier to decide. I just opted though for the regular NAN 1. Good enough that Kimi doesn’t have allergies. He gulped his first bottle like there was no tomorrow and his tummy liked it too straightaway. Breastmilk and formula took turns in fattening Kimi for the first month. When supply dried up eventhough how much hot soup and hot compress I had, NAN 1 was still reliable to keep Kimi happy.

We moved him to NAN 2 at 6 months and to Neslac Toddler Gold at 13 months as NAN 3 was only being introduced in the market at that time, a bit difficult to find NAN 3. At 16 months, we introduced him to drinking fresh milk from a sippy cup with Neslac in between. He is alright with the fresh milk but he still loves his formula in a bottle. I plan to reduce his bottlefeed to 2 when he turns 18 months — one when he wakes up and one before he sleeps. Ultimately, I want him to love his fresh milk more than his bottle. No flavoured milk though. Not even my favourite strawberry milk.

Yes, it was my intention to put Kimi on cow's milk as advised by the Maternal and Child Health Nurse but not 100% this soon. He just turned 18 months. However, when we went to buy another batch (I usually buy 4 cans at a time) of Neslac Toddler Gold, there was nothing on the shelves at My Chemist, where I usually buy it. I immediately called the attention of the sales assistant to check if they got something in their stock room. There was none. I requested him to phone their other store. Again, nada. In fact, it's no longer in their computer system. It was hopeless as it was already difficult getting a can a few weeks back. A friend even checked in Melbourne. It's indeed already phased out to fully introduce NAN 3.

The battle of choosing the right milk again started and it caught me off-guard. There were very few choices and the brands I'm familiar with are both in vanilla flavour -- NAN 3 and S-26 -- which is not an option. Hubby and I compromised to put Kimi back to NAN 2. Hubby was not keen to moving to another brand as Kimi's tummy may react differently. I bought 1 can of NAN 2 and 1 small pack (good for 4 servings) of Karicare to try. He instantly liked Karicare but he was passing wind throughout the day so hubby was not happy with it. I gave Kimi NAN 2 but he rejected it straightaway - maybe not sweet enough like Neslac and Karicare. Because of that, we decided on giving him cow's milk. I cleaned and packed the bottles, steriliser, and the glass pan exlusively used in boiling water for safekeeping.

The story did not end there. Almost 2 weeks after, I observed that Kimi was losing weight or I just thought so. Out of the blue, I grabbed his bottle from the top of the cupboard and prepared him 60 ml of NAN 2 to try again. He was ecstatic to see the bottle of milk. But when he had a taste, he gave me back the bottle. I tried to offer it to him again and this time he just blurted out "nah." I was still worried he was not getting enough so I decided to buy a can of Karicare 3. I was almost sure he would like it again until I offered it to him. To my surprise he rejected it.

This time instinct tells me that Kimi is alright with the cow's milk. There are just days that he will look thinner when he has not slept much during the day. To other mothers out there, don't be a worry wart like me. Just compliment your kid's cow's milk with healthy food and your child will also be alright. Kids need only 3 servings of dairy food anyway to meet the calcium requirement.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Saturday breakfast

I asked Che to walk along Pakington and have breakfast in one of the cafes as well. He was hesitant. He must be feeling a tad lazy that day so we ended up staying at home. My enthusiasm for a nice, quiet weekend was still high so I proudly announced that I would prepare a cafe-style breakfast for the 3 of us. Nothing really special -- just bacon, sunny-side up, bread and strawberries -- apart from a little bit of presentation, which I don't normally do during our regular meals as I am usually strapped for time. It may not look as mouth watering but the little presentation made a difference to our meal, psychologically.
Kimi was giggling while he ate from his own plate. I am not sure though if it’s because of the presentation, the taste of the bacon or because of the new plate as he has his little bowl during regular meals. Che was contented with the photo opportunity and the sunny side up for his bread. I was happy with what I’ve come up even if it is nothing compared to those in cafes and restaurants. It’s enough that I was able to reminisce the home economics class in high school with Mrs. Maralit and Mrs. Valdez. I remembered I used to bring some of my mom’s cutlery and tableware to class for the food presentation. Once we have set-up our veggie garden for a steady supply of herbs, I plan to garnish and "decorate" our food a bit from time to time to release my usually dormant artistic side and make meals something different again.

Monday, September 14, 2009

All Day Sneezing!

Yeah, hay fever hit me. I was sneezing at work most of last week including the weekend. My eyes were itchy like there were little grains inside. I can't even control myself from rubbing my eyes, which a colleague from my AIM days strongly discourage. She says it can bring in the wrinkles. Sorry Mia I really can't help it. My head felt really heavy too and my nose was really stuffed.

This is my 3rd Spring season and I still had not figured it out myself that I could get hit by hay fever, which is rarely experienced in Manila, until my driving instructor pointed out that my symptoms were hay fever and not something else. He was right. One tablet of Telfast 120 did the work. Straightaway, I felt relieved without feeling drowsy.

For new migrants and tourists coming over during Spring, hay fever is one that you need to be prepared for especially if you have allergy history. Stay away from areas with high pollen count as this triggers the allergens. Bring with you an anti-hay fever tablet or anti-histamine so you will always be ready if you have an attack. It can save you from ruining your day and vacation.

How I wish I am not prone to allergies but I am already thankful that my son does not have it.

Friday, September 11, 2009

It Takes Patience

Finding work in Australia is more difficult nowadays especially in regional areas and even in city centres compared to the time I arrived in 2007. The global financial crisis caused unemployment rate to increase by 1.6 points from 4.2% in Aug 2008 to 5.8% in Aug 2009. It is comparably lower than the earlier forecast of 8.5% to 10% but the underlying underemployment is a concern. The reduction of hours worked instead of outright lay off best explains the case. More and more companies are shifting their employees from full-time work to part-time or even casual work just to be able to make ends meet without losing the talent they've developed for many years.

This is a better set-up than what happened to a few friends who lost their job with just an hour or two notice. I know it was devastating and frustrating as I had a fair share of the same fate when my previous company, where I worked as an analyst, closed down the very same day I went back to work from maternity leave in 2008. No notice, no redundancy offer. The only saving grace is that I could stay with my son a bit more. But, I have a visa condition to fulfill, bills to pay, and formula milk to buy. So, I had to hit the road straightaway and look for job. There was no time to cry over spilled milk so to speak.

With the support of my husband and in laws and the contagious giggles of Kimi who was barely 8 weeks old then, my spirit was high and my outlook was optimistic. I did not waste any time. When Kimi was asleep I was scouring http://www.seek.com.au/ and http://www.careerone.com.au/ for jobs and tips to hurdle the job hunt. I practically applied for any job that I believe I can do or I can learn to do from waiting and cleaning jobs to research and analyst work. I prepared several CVs to fit the job description, customised application letters addressing the selection criteria, and answered online essays required for the application. I also kept all files I sent out with file names for each job to easily see which CV, application letter and selection criteria I used for which job. Before interviews, I read through the files to make sure I do not mix up the information especially the essay part.

I made sure friends and acquaintances know that I was looking for work. I also emailed the recruitment agent who hired me with my previous (first in Australia) job to share what happened and to seek her assistance in considering me for job vacancies with their clients. She was kind enough to forward my CV to her colleague who interviewed me for a full-time casual work in a customer service and logistics capacity. All throughout I kept an optimistic view. I took action and prayed keeping in mind to ASK, BELIEVE, and RECEIVE. My strategy worked -- I got the job and started working again when Kimi was barely 10 weeks old. Since it was only a casual work, I did not stop looking for other more permanent opportunities.

I prayed more. Then, an answer came when I got a call for an interview for the job that I was really wanting when I was just starting the job hunt (Yes, it took them more than a month to shortlist applicants). Actually, it was the location (2 kilometres walk from home) and the company that I liked from the moment I read through their website -- I got the feeling that they look after their people and welcome multicultural diversity. An important consideration for a migrant in the long-run. I dressed up well for the interview to exude the right impression and confidence as well as feel good about myself. That inside feeling matters as it is quickly sensed by the interviewers. Again, the strategy worked and I am already working with them for more than a year. Being new to the industry, I still have so much to learn, jargons to comprehend, and processes and policies to understand. As long as I continue to pray and believe, there will be opportunities for career growth to be received.

Lesson: It takes patience and strategy for new migrants to get a job these days. It's better for your health to be optimistic than stress yourself and worry.