Big Camp! (Part 1)

So, last week we were away on a church camp where Jacob had his first taste of living in a tent! Our church conference organises an annual camp which goes for a whole week (due to popular request) in the first week of the school holidays. I was intent on going so I volunteered myself to help out in some areas there (though in retrospect, I would have loved to see more programs too!).

ImageHere we are, all set up! Dan and I had the tent while my parents-in-law were cosy in their caravan. We had power in the daytime (hence the yellow cables) but it was turned off at night, so no heaters at night *sob*. It was quite nice and warm in the sun but it did get a bit cold at night. Jacob refused to sleep in his portacot (even with a nice furry sheepskin blankie) so he hopped into bed a.k.a. air mattress with us, which was nice because he’s like a hot water bottle anyway.

We were actually camping on a school oval, not out in the bush, but it did get cold anyway. It’s a big Lutheran school up in the Barossa and has a wonderful campus with lots and lots of space. They even have a Jesus Walk, which is a little woodland area set up with some visuals and little devotional readings to contemplate Jesus’ death and resurrection.

ImageOne of the areas I was helping out in was the Beginners/Kinder division, which is for kids 0-6. The room was transformed into a little jungle, which set the mood well for the week (and the kids had an awesome time!). The theme song for the week was “Who’s the King of the Jungle” which I had never heard before, but now I can’t get it out of my head!

ImageJacob thinks he’s king of the jungle. Lots and lots of soft toys to play with!! We brought along his little jungle tunnel for the little babies to play in (and also for any of the older kids who wanted to show how quickly they could crawl through the tunnel). There was also an outdoor area where kids could play on the slide, build houses with some huge lego blocks, sit in the ball pit, etc. It was amazing to see the dynamics of the little kids, especially since there was such a huge range of ages and abilities. Jacob was one of the littlest ones there and it was great conditioning for him to, to get used to bigger kids.

ImageI also helped out with Women’s Ministries (and no, it’s not just because they had such an awesome high tea spread)! The whole camp’s theme was on being Set Free, so we talked a bit about freedom and how to be set free, not just in physical terms but emotionally and spiritually too. I had to miss a few programs there as they clashed with the Children’s programs, but it was a great journey of discovery and I look forward to delving deeper into the subject. I can’t say I am truly free yet because there are chains that I still have yet to break, but I know that in due time, they will be broken!

ImageA beautiful view of the sunset over the oval, and the moon’s out too! :) I think that the sky is just more beautiful up in the Barossa, but maybe that’s just me. It was interesting roughing it out (a bit) but after a long day or a busy play session, anywhere’s about good enough for a nice sleep.

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Also, Jacob turned 8 months yesterday! How time flies! :) I won’t do a full monthly update for him, though I must say he’s grown in leaps and bounds in the recent weeks – not so much in size, but in intellect and ability. Jacob, you continue to light up my life! :)

Happy Easter!

Firstly, I apologise for the hiatus – I should have given some notice as I knew I would be busy! We’ve actually been away for a week-long church camp and it has been amazing! I was involved in the Kids Program and helped out a bit with Women’s Ministries too, so was really busy but enjoyable all the same. More updates on it in the coming posts, but I have to show you this picture of Jacob (nearly) kissing a lamb:

ImageTo give you a bit more reading material, the articles I wrote are finally published. This one is an interview with a Malaysian father and his perspective on children growing up in Australia, while this one talks about lessons on change.

But, for now, I want to talk about Easter and what it means to me. Aside from eggs, chocolate and bunnies, it has a deeper meaning for me. It’s usually around this time as well that I look at my life and ponder upon why Jesus would die for someone like me. I’ve made so many mistakes over my lifetime, hurt so many people (including myself) and disappointed God over and over again with my choices. Yet, Jesus chose to shed His blood for me, and for everyone else in the world.

I don’t mean to make this a preachy post – it’s more a contemplation of my own beliefs and how it’s made me grow as a person. I know that I have many worldly visions – I want to travel the world, want to have a career or at least a business to run on the side and want to have a bigger and better life for my family. And while it isn’t wrong to have these visions, I realise how small they are when I look at the bigger picture. I often worry about what to do with my life and what direction I should take, but I also know that life is not fully in my own control, and that there are bigger forces at work.

Many years ago, I went to an Easter play that moved me to tears. I had only heard the song once before, but it was clearly put into context when I heard them singing it while playing out the scenes that led to Jesus’ death. If you’re a fan of female gospel, you have to listen to Nicole Nordeman. Really meaningful lyrics, particularly with this song - basically, a little girl’s point of view of the cross.

It’s funny that things seem to be more touching when put in the eyes of a child. Perhaps it’s the innocence that tugs at our heartstrings, or the fact that we want to shield and protect them from things that could hurt them. Jesus was innocent – a blameless man, with the sin of the world (including mine) upon His shoulders.

But I do like the ending of the Bible story so many of us know. Jesus is crucified on Friday, he rests in the tomb on the Sabbath, but on Sunday the tomb was empty. He conquered death, and through Him there is another life waiting for us.

I’m not one to cry very often (hence I actually remember the times I cry!) but this year, this song really moved me. It’s a new-ish song by Hillsong, but I like the acoustic version better. But of course, it’s the words again that truly touch me:

Man of sorrows Lamb of God
By His own betrayed
The sin of man and wrath of God
Has been on Jesus laid

Silent as He stood accused
Beaten mocked and scorned
Bowing to the Father’s will
He took a crown of thorns

Oh that rugged cross
My salvation
Where Your love poured out over me
Now my soul cries out
Hallelujah
Praise and honour unto Thee

Hope you all had a beautiful Easter! :)

How to help a new mum…

So, three of my friends were pregnant all around the same time and finally, all their babies are here! The first one was born exactly 6 months (to the day) after Jacob was born, the next one exactly 3 weeks after and the final baby was born on Monday night. I can’t wait for all 4 babies to be together to take some photos together!

In the last few months, I have experienced so many new mums (and their new babies, of course) and there’s been so much trial and error on my part with giving them the support from my end. When I say new mums, I don’t mean just mums who have had their first baby – but any mum who’s just had a baby, be it their first, second, third or fourth child! From experience, these are some of the best things you could do for a new mum…

1. Cook for her
I’m not sure about Caucasians here, but us Asians LOVE a good clear soup when we’re not feeling our best – beef soup’s probably the favourite as it’s just so nourishing! In the Chinese culture, some mums have a ‘confinement’ period where they take it easy and have to follow a strict dietary plan which involves lots of soups! But what I found anyway is that soup is good to encourage breast milk production, so you should have some (even if you’re not Asian, haha!).

If you can’t think of anything to cook (or if you have your hands full), a fruit platter is always welcomed! Or just buy takeaway or treat her to a meal. She’ll thank you as that’s one less meal to cook!

20140408_083711_AndroidJacob my sweetheart is cooking some food for me (though I don’t eat plastic shapes)

2. Help her with cleaning
Even now, I still struggle with finding the time to clean the house – today I managed to vacuum the floor while Jacob was in his cot playing with this musical phone/remote that my parents gave to him. Now he’s mobile, he always finds something to mess up – and don’t even talk to me about eating. Yesterday we had egg yolk smeared all over the high chair and pieces all over the floor.

But yes, I digress – new mums have SO much to take in that the last thing on their mind will be to clean up the house, or at least the last thing they will get to do aside from rocking, feeding, changing, etc. So just offer to do a load of dishes before you go, or even pop their laundry onto the line or fold some clothes. :)

3. Offer to babysit
While I love Jacob to bits, there are times that I wish that I could put him away for one hour, just for some me time. I am sometimes wary about getting a babysitter for Jacob, and at times I’d rather not spend money on such things when I can just suck it up and take care of him anyway. But every mum needs a break – so babysitting is a great gift.

Of course, this all depends on your confidence and experience. Before Jacob was born, I admit I would never have offered to babysit for anyone because I’d be so afraid that I’d not know what to do. Even now, I’m happy to babysit babies but am not as sure what to do with toddlers and older kids. What you could just do is hang out with the mum and mind the baby while she can do what she wants to do – even that is a help.

4. Help her run errands
This is particularly handy for ladies who have had C-sections who can’t drive for 6 weeks! There will always be things to do like getting groceries, picking up other kids from school, etc. This helps if you can drive, of course, but even if you don’t, just do what’s in your power to do.

20140408_102116_AndroidJacob can’t drive but he can take out the trash! (Haha, don’t worry – I don’t let my baby touch trash. That’s just a bag of clothes!)

5. Help provide her with resources
I’m not sure about other mums, but I’m an Internet consulter – that is, I always consult the internet to find out information. I know in the first few months (and even now), I search about things like breastfeeding, immunisation, baby poo, etc. When I find good resources, I’m always happy to share with other mums. If you’re a researcher like me (or if you like to pick up brochures from here and there), pick something up for your new mum to read. Do keep in mind to not “push ideas” onto the new mum though – this information is just there for her perusal but in no way are you dictating the way she should parent her child.

6. Spend a bit more time together
One thing I found with motherhood is that sometimes it can be a bit lonely – when your partner is working all day and you’re stuck at home with the baby, it can just drive you up the wall. I know it’s hard for people who work full time, but if you do have time to spend with your new mum, just go over for a visit (or organise to go and have a coffee perhaps). She’ll appreciate the break (and you get plus points if you carry her baby for a while!)

7. Just be a listening ear
I think what’s been really good in these few months of motherhood for me is having people to talk/rant to about the big and small stresses. Like when you have a poo explosion, or when he has a “I want you to carry me all the time” day. Because sharing the burden just makes it lighter and soon enough, you’ll realise it wasn’t such a big burden anyway, and will find the grace to laugh about it.

20140406_080554_AndroidJacob is a great listening ear – plus, he doesn’t give unwanted advice!

New mums out there – do you think I hit the nail on the head? Are there other things that you appreciated when you were a new mum?

I admit that I haven’t done all of these things for the mums I know, but I have tried to do what I can to help them. And I know that little things count – I remember the little things that people did for me when Jacob was little, and I’m so grateful for it. My mum was wonderful with helping me take charge of the house too, getting all the other stuff done so I could just focus on the baby.

But anyway, congratulations to all the new mums I know and I hope that you are all having a wonderful time with your babies. Do enjoy this time lots because you can’t get it back. Photos and videos can immortalize the way your baby is, but he’ll be different every day and one fine day, you’ll look back and wish you were there again – just holding him or her in your arms.

Over and out! :)

Travel bug…

I’ve been busy with my parents, who have just left Adelaide for home sweet home.

ImageIt was wonderful for them to be here to share in Jacob’s upbringing. They watched him go from rocking back and forth to crawling and climbing up onto things. They watched him eating lots on good days and throwing food on the floor on not so good days. They witnessed him go from super friendly baby to slightly wary baby, as he just developed his stranger anxiety. But most of all, they just got to build a bond with him and I’m sure he’ll love to see them again when we head to Malaysia later in the year.

I’ve had the travel bug lately and have been dying to seek out another destination to travel to. I have actually been to quite a few places, but perhaps the more I travel, the more I feel like travelling! Anyway, here are 5 awesome places I’ve been to in the last few years (and would LOVE to go back to).

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Auckland, NZ (and surrounds- Rotorua, etc)
I admit Auckland isn’t the most interesting place, but I definitely want to go back to New Zealand to explore the great outdoors.

ImageJakarta, Indonesia
My dad used to work here so we used to visit him here.

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The Gold Coast, Australia
I loved the theme parks in Gold Coast, but will only go back when Jacob is old enough to enjoy them.

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Cairns, Australia
(and surrounds – Port Douglas, Cape Tribulation, Chillagoe, Innisfail, Great Barrier Reef, etc.)
I worked here and also went on some awesome road trips. Love this region!

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Phuket, Thailand
We went there for our honeymoon and it was awesome. Enough said!

Which of the following places do you like the best?

And finally, I won something – or really, Jacob won something. Remember the competition I posted about last week?

ImageYippie, we got a runner up prize! I’ll find out exactly what I win on Tuesday. Thanks again to Avalon City Imaging Photography!

Playtime ;)

Okay, I finished one article so I feel justified to put up another blog post. Haha! For those of you that don’t know, I write for a Melbourne-based Malaysian magazine (goodness, the alliteration!) called JOM Magazine – feel free to have a look at their online component (and you can read the previous magazine issues) here.

Anyway, yesterday was the hottest April Fool’s Day in Adelaide for 127 years! I know I’ve ranted quite a bit about the weather but we really are having a hot hot HOT time – not the easiest with a little baby!

But since it was just 36 degrees, it was actually really nice! (Am I sounding crazy yet?) We had a really fun day!

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How could we refuse the perfect excuse for a swim? It’s so different now as Jacob can sit up and splash around. Also, he’s outgrown his swimwear! *sob*

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Skittles loves to come and join us when we’re swimming out here. She doesn’t get in the shell because it reminds her of having a bath, but she does like to drink the water and try to steal Jacob’s toys.

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We also had a costume party recently so the play weapons came out! Here he is wielding a sword… or biting the foam. Whatever you want to call it.

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And this is the winner of all photos for the day! Caught red-handed with mummy’s pirate gun! He’s such a poser. Love him to bits!

Alrighty, over and out. I guess it turned out to be a bit of a photo post but don’t we just love photos anyway? :)

A quarter way through…

I woke up today and thought, ahh – April Fools’ Day! I can try to play some tricks on people – until, of course, I remembered that March has 31 days!

How quickly has this year gone? It’s already a quarter way through! In this time, the following has happened:
- We did our first road trip with Jacob to Melbourne
- Attended 3 baby showers, 2 of which I helped host
- Dressed Jacob up in a Chinese fashion for Chinese New Year
- Our house floor has had a full refurbishment, from carpet/lino to tiles
- Survived a week with Jacob when Daniel was away at school camp
- Had Jacob’s baby dedication
- Had a getaway to Port Elliot (with my parents)
- Had my parents come over (and it’s nearly time for them to go home)

But what’s really been amazing is seeing the change in Jacob – three months ago, he could barely roll over and now he’s all over the place, climbing up and trying to walk now. Before, breastmilk was all he wanted but now he’d happy have a teething rusk, strawberries in a net or some veggie puree. One thing I know – he grows cuter every day and I love him to bits!

When my next blog post will be all depends on whether I’ll be able to finish my magazine articles in time for submission. I will work hard and try to post something towards the end of the week, but I don’t want to give false hope (as I have a long way to go, haha!). But I’ll just make this a bit of a photo post:

ImageSomebody likes going shopping. :)

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 He’s too eager to get into his bath… he love bubbles.

ImageI can sit up and I’m doing Thriller in the garden!

ImageI’m showing off just because I can…

ImageYou need to tidy up this change table, mummy…

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I want to have big feet like daddy!

I’ll end with just another quick reminder about the competition I entered Jacob into – it’s ending Friday and I’d really like to get as many votes as possible. This is the link to it… :)

Babies, babies, babies…

I grew up an only child. My father was the youngest in his family hence I was one of the “younger” cousins. My parents had me 10 years after they were married, hence I was also one of the “younger” ones among their friends’ kids.

As a result, I didn’t have very much exposure to babies. I didn’t know what babies liked or what they involved. For that matter, I didn’t know what little kids liked, because I didn’t actually remember what it was like when I was a little kid myself. The truth is, I was probably scared of kids because they made so much noise and just ran around. And I was even more scared of babies because they seemed so tiny and fragile, and I was so sure I’d drop them and they’d break into pieces.

The first newborn baby I ever carried was my niece, Esther, and I thought she was the tiniest thing I had ever seen! I was so afraid I’d crush her when I carried her, but she survived my little cuddle and she didn’t cry. She was probably thinking:

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Okay, I admit I did take care of ONE baby in my life (whom I found out later was actually considered a toddler, not a baby). He was my second cousin and was half Malaysian, half American and he was ADORABLE! I think I played with him for a bit when he was little, but I myself was only about 10 years old and honestly I can’t remember how I did it.

Anyway, when I first found out I was expecting, one of my first thoughts was “Oh no, what am I going to do with my baby? I know nothing about babies!”. Other thoughts included “Soooo exciting and happy!” and “What am I going to tell my boss?” (I’d just started a new job). I was happy being pregnant, but I was also a bit detached and unsure of what to expect.

Would I know how to take care of my baby? Would I even like my baby (and would he like me back)? What would I do with him and how would I bring him up to be a good person?

When Jacob was born, he was perfect. I just looked at him and knew that I loved him. As he lay in his little bed beside me, I just watched him sleep, with his little gentle breaths, his chest heaving up and down. He was the most gorgeous baby I had ever seen.

And that’s where it began… my love of babies. It didn’t help that quite a few people I knew (my sister-in-law, close friends, acquaintances) were expecting babies too. While I’m usually happy to go to church in the first place, I’m now even more excited to go to see their babies!

ImageI’m really comfortable with babies now, even newborns (as I still remember what Jacob was like when he was that tiny)! But I’m still working out how to deal with toddlers and older kids – so please bear with me! I think I’ll probably learn first hand from Jacob, and soon will be an expert. :)

Speaking of babies, I’ve entered my little one into yet another contest! I reckon that’s the main reason I go to the annual Pregnancy & Baby Expo here in Adelaide – to join contests!

Anyway, this is Jacob’s photo – please click on the link and like it (and proud mummy will be more than happy!)

Enjoy the weekend folks! :) Babies, babies, babies for me tomorrow.

 

Food Glorious Food (and Date Night…)

Today we ate out for both lunch and dinner – a privilege I don’t usually have! We had a day trip to Hahndorf with my parents and then, Dan and I had a quick dinner out, just to ourselves!

For those of you who haven’t heard of Hahndorf, it’s a little German town about half an hour out of Adelaide city. It’s a touristy little place, with lots of local products, German souvenirs and a variety of food. I also took notice of the fact that they have a few Spa motels, which seem really quite tempting. Maybe on our next special occasion…

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I didn’t take many pictures on the street because I was pushing Jacob around in his pram (he was asleep the whole time), but I did take pictures at lunch. We had a pub lunch at the German Arms Hotel, which was nice – I had a nice fat chicken schnitzel and Jacob stole some of my veggies off my plate. He also put his hand into my dad’s beer but escaped with just a froth wound. :)

ImageJacob was quite intrigued (and maybe a bit scared) of the many statues of German men. In terms of heritage, he’s part German and I want to make sure he identifies with that. I’m tempted to make him learn the accordion – what a sight it would be! But really, I want him to identify with the German language and perhaps go for a ‘home visit’ to good ol’ Germany.

Anyway, back from one part of the hills and off to another! Dan took me out to dinner at the Inglewood Inn, which is only 20 minutes away from where we live. What a gorgeous view we had from where we were sitting:

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We drive out through this part of the hills every week to get to our church out in Birdwood, and I really love changing backdrop. Right now, the grass is green and the trees are painted with hues of green, red and gold. Soon, they will be bare and the brooks will run fast with the winter rains. Then come the blossoms of spring, followed by the tan colours of summer. I’m so glad to live near the countryside.

But anyway, on to the food…

ImageI didn’t feel like meat so I ordered gnocchi with pumpkin and pinenuts, which was delicious but got a bit boring after a while. Beef pieces would have been quite nice with it… I don’t think I’d make a good vegetarian. And, of course, how could we miss dessert?

ImageJust a simple pecan pie with ice cream and berry coulis. Yum! :) Overall a great experience. The Inglewood Inn is a really lovely place to eat – we’ve had breakfast there too, and that was delicious. They also have a function room overlooking a lovely garden area – perfect for a garden wedding! I almost convinced Daniel to marry me again there – he’s pondering it here, haha.

ImageBut really, date night ended in tears – not for us, but for Jacob. We came home to find him crying his heart out – apparently he was fine until they tried to sit him down for dinner. We are struggling a bit with him and his eating – he doesn’t like the high chair, doesn’t like being spoonfed, doesn’t like to drink water, etc. But we will get there!

Anyway, my little sook got his way (i.e. breast and breast alone) and is happily asleep. Sigh. Anyway, this is my favourite photo of the week – little boys should love their books.

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Over and out!

Lucky number 7…

It feels like only a moment ago that I was posting about him turning 6 months old, and now he’s already 7 months! To celebrate, here are some month by month pictures of him in a row:

0 months (newborn)

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1 month

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2 months

19

3 months

21

4 months

swimmer

5 months

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6 months

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7 months

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I measured his height and weight two days ago at the Pregnancy & Baby Expo, so here are his stats:
Height: 70cm (though he wasn’t really standing straight)
Weight: 8.5kg (with clothes on, so I’d estimate 8.4)

Milestones: I don’t know when exactly he worked out the crawling, though I have seen him doing bits and pieces here and there. I’m a bit mortified that he’s crawling so early because he gets into all kinds of trouble – yesterday he pulled a cup off soup off the table! Thank goodness he missed getting it on himself, cos that would have hurt! He also pulls himself up onto lots of things (and falls off sometimes) – a bit too eager to stand perhaps.

Likes: Prune juice (I put it in a bottle diluted with water and it’s almost always gone!), Toys that make noise, His play table (which he’s fallen down from quite a few times), Climbing onto things, Other kids playing with him (especially his cousins Isaac and Esther), Watching Praise Baby, Playing the Piano, Bath time, Cuddles.

Dislikes: The Aspirator (he’s had a blocked nose recently…), Being fed when he isn’t hungry or isn’t feeling like sitting still, Naptime when there are better things to do, Falling down.

Notable Achievements:
- Crawling! Yes, he can actually go pretty far and move quite fast now. :)
- Mastered sitting up – he’s very stable now and doesn’t fall down, unless he does a 90 degree turn to reach something directly behind him.
- Growing fully into size 0 (yes, had to put away all the 00 stuff).
- Raiding the change table and throwing its contents everywhere (and unraveling a roll of paper towel on the change table too)
- Making my cursor on my computer disappear (hubby had to restore it for me) & trying to set up an email account on my phone
- Saying “bababababa” – still can’t get him to say “mama” or “dada”. He says “maaaaa” when he’s angry though.

Love you my little Jacob. xoxo

I shaved my baby!!!

Happy Wednesday everyone! This is mainly a photo post because photos speak a thousand words (and also save a thousand minutes haha!)

Firstly, I need to realise never to leave Jacob alone on the change table (not even for a second to throw away the diaper). He loves sitting up and climbing now, and I usually find him sitting like this on the change table. Today I caught him turning around and when I reached around to get the cloth nappy, and when I grabbed him, he just burst out laughing. Funny child he is. :P

ImageThe post title speaks for itself… but no, Jacob isn’t bald! :P I love his locks but they were getting a little long, so we used an electric shaver. I’m still intrigued that you can’t actually cut yourself with it (how awesome!) though it can get a bit prickly. We shaved his hair on an 8/8 setting, and I really must say it looks alright!

Here’s the before shot:

ImageAnd after the ordeal – doesn’t my boy look handsome?

ImageThis is SO much cheaper than taking him for regular haircuts, and so much safer than using a pair of scissors. Only thing is that he squirmed a lot (he was in a bad mood anyway) and hair went everywhere – and he hated having the hair all over his body and face. It’s amazing how much hair sticks to a baby’s soft skin – took me ages to wash it all off! He did like being powdered after the bath though.

Finally, a brief report on my other baby, Skittles. Woke up to find her in this position – silly dog!

ImageEnjoy the rest of the week! :)