Monday, 14 November 2016

How To: Host a Happy Hour Baby Shower

This post is a little late because this weekend past we hosted a real Happy Hour Baby Shower, and the cat could not be let out of the bag before the Lady in Waiting experienced it for herself.

I have to admit: I love everything about this concept. It caters for those who are pressed for time, without rushing things or compromising on any of the traditional 'fanfare' that one looks forward to at these things.

So, here's how to do it:

Save The Date
Naturally, the first thing is to choose a date. We opted for a late Sunday afternoon affair. It worked well for us because many of us had prior engagements over a number of consecutive weekends, and none of us had whole days to set aside for this event.

Location, Location, Location
The ideal for me would be an outdoor location, particularly if you're going the sunset/sun-downer route like we were. However, any spacious indoor location works well too (for a bit of a cocktail party feel).

There are plenty template ideas all over the net. I preferred a more sophisticated and elegant feel compared to the usual baby-themed options, and made this one from a concept I found on and mailed or text it to all the guests (as is the norm these days). We stuck with the late afternoon idea, and settled on a time of two hours - much like a real happy hour.

Our budget, time and interests had us sticking to a minimalist approach all the way into the decor as well. We simply put up some pink patterned bunting, used pink accents in the serviettes and plates, and got a few helium filled pink and gold balloons. It gave a very grown up and girly feel, without needing to cover the room in baby paraphernalia.

Food and Refreshments
This was my favourite part. We decided to plan everything around a central theme: what is more happy hour than cocktails, and more celebratory than champagne? We chose to serve only punch and sparkling wine (non-alcoholic, of course). I bought a couple pretty bottles of pink bubbly, and made our own punch with fruit juices, frozen berries and sparkling water. We served the drinks in champagne flutes with fresh strawberry garnish, and chose not to have other juice, soft drinks or tea options which also helped keep the event brief. 

For the food we chose savoury bar snacks that could be served without the need for cutlery or even plates much. We had tortillas and guacamole, mini three-cheese, onion and green pepper muffins, salmon blinis, fruit platters, mini meatballs served with sauce, and only a single platter of cupcakes.
It was all such a hit with the guests. Not only was it really tasty, it was also light enough to fill a gap without replacing dinner.

I'm not particularly big on all the traditional baby shower games, although I admit some of them are really fun. So in keeping with a low-key and more subdued atmosphere, we decided to do just three activities:

Nursery Rhyme Time allowed guests to test their nursery knowledge and identify common nursery rhymes by cryptic clues, no lyrics. We allowed guests to work in pairs in an attempt to finish the task first. We then went through the clues and had the mom-to-be sing the ones she could.

The other activity we did was something we started even before the guest of honour arrived. I had printed several copies of colour-in pages for each letter of the alphabet, and asked everyone to colour them in. The idea was that, at the end, we would have something that we could put together and give to the mom-to-be as Baby's first ABC book. Having all these adults colouring in was very entertaining (who knew it was so difficult to stay inside the lines?) - and also surprisingly therapeutic.

Our final activity Guess Who allowed the mom-to-be to guess the gift giver by listening to a story about their childhood. This was such a hit! It allowed the guests to really get to know something about each other, and encouraged conversation, even with those who'd never met each other before. And in our case, the mom-to-be was such a poor and funny guesser, we were in stitches most of the time!

All in all, from an unlikely beginning, it was a really successful party for the hosts, the guests and mom-to-be, with relatively easy preparation and planning, and apart from the dishes, nearly no cleaning afterwards. I would definitely do this type of thing again!

Sunday, 6 November 2016

The Time Sam Went Suicidal

It happened last night.

It had been a normal day, and our annual Hendricks family Guy Fawkes trip to one of the designated beaches where we could watch the fireworks. We had been picnicing for long enough and were getting ready to leave for home when Sam suddenly went rogue. In the process that is getting everyone safely into a seat, Andel was trying to put Sam into his, when I noticed this eerie silence. I looked up to find Sam in one of those silent screams.

I hadn't seen or heard anything happen to warrant that kind of cry, so I just watched for a moment. But it just went on and on, and we noticed that he wasn't breathing. Andel started shouting at him to stop. I was blowing air into his face. We were hitting him on the back and on the bottom. And all the while he did not flinch. He was frozen in that open-mouthed scream pose, and now going visibly blue.

Obviously we were panicing then. Ash was trying to help. Yaya was giving instructions. The other kids were shocked quiet. it seemed to go on for ages. I don't know what eventually made him snap out of it, but as Sam took that first shallow breath, we all breathed a collective sigh of relief. It took a few more deep breaths and a few minutes outside in the fresh air before the cyanosis in Sam's face and began to subside, but he seemed calmer after that, and we made it home in one piece. Thank you, Lord!

I'd heard about these breath-holding spells before. They are often associated with tantrums or being deeply upset about something. I had never experienced it with my own kids - and for so long - though. Naturally, I had to read up about it some more.

The first thing that struck me was that it's not deliberate. People have generally created the impression that this is a form of misbehaviour from kids, but actually, they aren't even aware, or in control, of what they're doing (which explains why Sam was starting blankly back at us while we were screaming at him to inhale). In fact, some kids go on for so long, they pass out, and may only be able to 'snap out of it' once they've come to afterwards. The literature suggests that it's relatively common, occuring in many children between the ages of 2 and 8 years old, and not necessarily as a result of an underlying condition, but you should still tell you doctor about it so that there's a record of it.

A relief, I suppose. Not that any of that changes how flippen scary it was to watch!

Oh, the life of a parent: a non-stop adventure of faith and grace.

Friday, 4 November 2016

How To: Test your Heath and Fitness

So I've spent most of the last week testing kids' fitness - more specifically: doing anthropometric measurements - and most of them are actually so easy to do, I thought I'd share how to do some of them:

In order to establish your Body Mass Index, which is an indication* of whether you are in the correct mass range for your height, you need to measure both mass and height.

* I say indication because this calculation does not take muscle mass into account. I prefer to look at it as an indication of the mass your body frame can comfortably accommodate before compromising health and wellness.

For mass: remove shoes, jackets and any other heavy accessories (if you're doing this at home, being in your underwear is probably the best way to measure). Place your feet in the centre of the scale (a digital one is best) so that your weight is evenly distributed over the base of the scale. Standing tall and looking straight ahead, have someone read off the measurement to the closest single decimal place.

For height: remove shoes and stand against a height metre that's been accurately placed against a wall or similar structure. With feet together, place the heels directly against the wall so that most of the posterior side of the body is also against it. Standing tall and looking ahead, have someone level the top most part of the head (you can use a ruler running perpendicular to the wall), and read off the measurement.

BMI is calculated as follows: BMI = (mass in kg) / (height in m)(height in m), and the healthy range is between 18.5 and 24.9 kg/m2)

Resting Heart Rate (RHR)
The important thing about this measurement is that it is actually a resting one. This means that prior to a reading being taken, the person must have sat or lay still, without talking or laughing, for 2 minutes.

Find a pulse point (the easiest is the radial pulse in the wrist or the carotid pulse in the neck). Using a stop watch and your index finger (do not use the thumb as it has its own pulse) count the number of pulses you feel in 30 or 60 seconds.  

RHR is the number of beats per minute so if you did a 30 second reading, multiply it by 2. Normal, healthy range is between 60 and 80 bpm, but it's generally accepted that the fitter you are, the lower the result.

Waist to Hip Ratio
This result is calculated by dividing the waist circumference by the hip circumference, and is an indicator of cardiac disease risk.

Image result for waist to hip ratio

Using a tape measure, determine the girth of the waist at the midpoint between the last rib and top of the hip bone (iliac crest). This is usually the narrowest part of the mid section. Do the same around the hips. Then divide the waist measurement in cm by the hip one to determine the score.