Sunday, 17 September 2017

How To: Pack a Hospital Bag

Despite coming around this mountain a third time, when I finally got thinking about packing a bag (around 39+ weeks), I could not for the life of me remember what should be included. I don't know why, but it always seems to happen this way. Add to this that you get offered so many baby bags/boxes from hospitals, stores and medical aids, and you can feel even more confused (at least, I did). so you inevitably end up calling a friend or posting an online SOS asking what exactly needs to be in one.

So here, for future reference (probably not mine), is a list of what should be covered - and before I even start, let me just say that I have opted to pack a small (hand luggage size) suitcase instead of a bag, as it's much easier to see into and access without emptying the entire contents over the hospital bed.

For Mom

Unless you enjoy pumping that hospital soap dispenser twenty times per wash, pack your own shower stuff. Remember to keep it mild and fragrance free for the delicate areas, and to include a cloth or sponge as these are not provided. Also pack shampoo and conditioner, as there's a 99% chance you will want to wash your hair. And don't forget your toothbrush and toothpaste.

You'll need your deodorant, body lotion and hairbrush (don't forget extra hair ties). Lay off the heavy perfumes though. New babies prefer the natural smell of their mommy. Except for lip balm (that is essential when feeling dehydrated) I would also keep make up to a minimum (but that's maybe just me; I hear other mommies pack a lot of that in - for the visitors and photos etc.), and have a small nail kit handy to trim growing nails while working with Baby.

Maternity Wear
You'll need those lovely maternity pads - lots of them (you're likely to be using about three at a time). You can wear ordinary underwear, however, I found that the maternity knickers seem designed to fit those massive pads, so I go with those initially. You'll also need breastpads for when your milk comes in. The washable ones are pretty handy, but I'd go with disposable while in hospital to save you the hassle. A light pyjamas (hospitals are really warm inside) or nursing top (either the strappy kind, or something that is button down in the front) is great for after the birth. If you're planning to labour and deliver vaginally though, bring the oldest t-shirt you have to birth in. Socks also come in handy (compression socks if you're having a c-section), and you should have slops or slippers to walk around in while in hospital. You will obviously need something to wear when you leave hospital as well. Try to remember that while you will no longer have Baby in your belly, you may not be able to fit into those pre-preggie designer outfits just yet.

If you have one, pack your birth plan, and whatever else you need for your labour time. Don't rely on getting snacks and water during the labour period from the hospital itself. It can be time consuming and expensive (not to mention that it requires your birth partner to leave) to do it this way. Pack in some energy-boosters that are not heavy on the system, and that you easily just pop into your mouth to eat. Once Baby has arrived, you may also want a notebook and pen with you so you can jot down the one million things you'll have in your head and heart that you'll want to remember later on. You will need to pack in your phone charger, and very importantly a suitable adapter (hospitals don't readily give these out, if at all). The same goes for earphones so that you can actually get some sound for your middle of the night tv viewing. I found it also helped to have a book to read or crossword puzzle to do between visiting hours when - if you're not sleeping and Baby is - you can have something stimulating to do. If you have a feeding pillow that you plan to use, bring that too. I found it incredibly useful in the hospital.

For Baby

The biggest things are nappies (I highly recommend the Huggies newborn because of the super cool and convenience cutaway at the navel that accommodates the clamp) and wipes (sensitive and fragrance free). You will need surgical spirits and cotton pads to clean Baby's navel, but I wouldn't stress too much about all the other things like powder, aqueous cream, bottom butter etc.; they aren't essential.

With the hospital being as warm as it is inside, more often that not, babies will just wear a clip vest and get wrapped in a blanket. Some hospitals supply this, but if you'd rather have your own, pack it in. Also pack in a beanie and a pair of socks. Have a going home outfit option (or two), and an extra blanket for when you head outside. Once again, a nail scissor is handy (especially if your baby has baked a little longer than expected; their nails are usually longer too).

ps. Don't forget, when going home, you will need a car seat - hospitals will not let you leave without this, and rightfully so.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Photo Update: Zac's Paw Patrol Pizza Party

A Paw Patrol Pizza Party, have you ever? Well, that's what you get when you have a child wanting a pizza-making party (following that holiday club experience he had in April), who is still completely obsessed with those pups!

Not that he mentioned his desire for this fusion party from start. Initially it was just a pizza making party, and we went through three different invitations:

Then he remembered he actually wanted the Paw Patrol present, and so the invitation was edited to look like this (thank God for

Being Zac's first real class party, although we didn't want to go all out crazy, we wanted to give them all a good time. And so we also had to choose an appropriate cake - not the easiest task when your child professes to have a cake allergy.

In the end, we decided to keep it simple by doing the following:

Party Table:
My experience has been that kids don't actually eat all that much when they're at a party. So I decided to keep the treats minimal, and carefully selected them to fit with the theme (and our budget):

Parents Snacks:
Being the middle of winter, I decided to make a pot of soup and get a couple quiches for snacks, and added some 'pupcorn' and 'bones' for nibbles. There was also more than enough hot and cold drink options.

Main Activity:
In order to make the most of the time, and fulfill Zac's pizza-making dreams, we had each child make their own pizza using basic dough, tomato sauce, cheese and bone-shaped salami. We started with this so that the kids could play while the pizzas all baked. We also decided not to do party boxes, and rather allowed the kids to take their pizza and birthday cake home if they wanted.

Things To Do:
We had to prepare for the possibility of rain, so we were in a big hall that the kids could play in. But the weather was fantastic, and it was wonderful to bask in the sun. We had a Paw Patrol colouring-in station, and a large garden area for the kids to run around playing ball games in.

And in the end, everyone seemed to have a good time - if these two are anything to go by!

Special thanks to:
Yaya for arranging the hall
Uncle PJ and Aunty Ash for the pre-party prep assistance, in particular, the pizza dough and biscuits
Uncle Lee and Aunty Ilana for helping with the party set up and taking pics 
Aunty Dom for cutting bone shaped everything
Uncle Ricardo for two awesome pizza cakes (one for the actual birthday on Sunday) 
Steffi for helping with Sam, even through a poo-explosion at the party
Daddy for not losing the plot when Mommy was

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Zac: My Favourite Five

I know that as soon as I publish this, I’m going to think of a host of ‘better’ things to have included in this post. So let me just put this disclaimer out right at the start and say that, really, these are only five of many of my favourite things about Zac.

Zac, to think that you’re turning five nearly blows my mind. What is it about remembering everything and nothing all at once; how it feels like eternity and one day at the same time? I continue to be amazed, humbled, challenged and lavishly blessed by this journey we are on with you.  In honour of your fifth birthday, and in our annual tradition of a special birthday post, here are five of my favourite things about you right now:

You being at big school for the past 18 months has introduced me to a whole other side of you that we never really had the chance to see before. I have had the opportunity to hear from teachers and other parents about the boy you are with others, and if what they say is all true, I could not be more proud. You are friendly, compassionate and loving, liberal with your affection and kind with your words. You hold the girls’ hands as you cross the parking lot together, and never leave anyone all on their own.
My Sweet Boy, this is what character is made of; to consider others, before oneself. And as you grow older you will often hear how much more important this is than the fact that you can already read (well!), or that you’re a numbers whizz.

The Bible speaks repeatedly about faith like a child, but I never truly knew what that looked like until I came into contact with yours.  You have a real relationship with Jesus, and I can’t explain how happy that makes me. In fact, you teach me – and others – so much about how Father God wants us to relate to Him. You pray with expectation and even make agnostics believe that ‘someone’ is listening to you. You are bold and confident in who God is, and how much He loves people.
My Precious Child, You have anointing over your life that I can’t wait to see unfold in whatever it is God has planned for your future.

One would be forgiven for thinking we are short on family, because you have made many friends just that. I think of Uncle Peter, Aunty Sandra, Ma and Pa Blake, the Jacobs’ – to name a few. You have a way of crawling into peoples’ hearts, and loving them so completely that they have no choice but love you right back. And it’s pretty much the same with your biological family. You are a doting brother and caring son. As unique (and challenging) as dealing with all the different facets of you can be, everyone loves you fiercely.
Loving Son, the family you have is the group of friends you will have with you your whole life. Treasure these relationships and invest in them. These are the people who will celebrate your success and share the burden of your sorrows.

Your dad and I were recently talking about how head-strong and assertive you are. It’s true that many times you can be opinionated (but you’re only just five, hopefully you will learn how to manage this better as you mature), and often others don’t understand, and want to ‘sort you out’ – BUT Dad and I agree that this is part of your nature that is God-designed for you. We love that you are able to stand your ground, effectively communicate how you feel, and are not easily swayed by what someone else would have you believe.
My Strong-willed Warrior, you are a future world changer. You will need this strength someday, so until then, we promise to do all we can to properly hone and refine it in you so that you can use it for good, and not for the destruction of yourself or others.

It would be amiss of me to leave this one out, because, as serious and sensitive as you can be, you’re also really funny, and lots of fun. I love watching your imagination run wild whether you’re exploring outer space from the station in your room, or out on another adventure with Ryder and all the Paw Patrol pups. I love how you (still) race straight from the car to the sea, usually (still) fully clothed, unable to contain your sheer delight as you run through the waves. I love your sharp wit and sense of humour, the funny-faced selfies I find on my phone, and the sound of your laugh as you and Sam get up to mischief.
Little Joker, may you never lose this zest for life, or the ability to see the good in every situation. The art of being happy is in choosing to be. Go on those adventures, try those new things, laugh at yourself. There is so much joy in life, and we wish it all for you.

Happy birthday Zac-a-roo. We love you so, so, so much!

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Celebrating Dad

Some men take to fatherhood like a duck to water. My baby-daddy was not quite like that. Between being  extremely squeamish in real-life blood situations, and scared to death of carrying anything smaller than 5kg, I was pretty safe to deduce, even before our babies arrived, that he was not going to be all that hands on.

Enter Beautiful Boy/Big Brother, June 2012. The circumstances surrounding his birth resulted in an emergency c-section, and The Husband's first parental experience involved fighting back tears and helplessness as his brand new baby painfully got his lungs flushed out. (I never realised or acknowledged the long term effect this would have on him until Beautiful Boy 2.0 was born three years later, and I heard The Husband anxiously ask, "why aren't you going to take him to have his lungs flushed?". It wasn't necessarily, but it had been his fear all along. As was the possibility of a repeat emergency delivery.)

The Husband didn't change a single nappy on our 3.4kg baby that first month. But triumphantly marked his first a few weeks later with a Mufasa-esque trophy hold of our baby - with his nappy on back to front. While I did most of the baby related activities, there was still plenty of daddy love, cuddles and devotion, even during bronchiolitis at five weeks, and pneumonia 11 months later.

Second time around, apart from that lingering fear from before, The Husband was a lot more confident. While he still refused to change our even smaller baby, he eagerly did Kangaroo Care from the second Beautiful Boy 2.0 was placed into his arms, and effortlessly took Big Brother through his first separation from me while I was in hospital, and again when I could not stay with him while was in hospital later that year.

It's been three years since then, and The Husband wins MVP in our family, hands down. He has shown me over and over that the value of a partner is not in doing the baby things only. Sometimes (as continuous nursing from one baby to the next has shown us), babies want or need (often, only) their mamas, and that's where The Husband has come out tops. He is able to - and does - make dinner, bath kids, run errands and restore peace. And no one cleans a house like this man!

So this Fathers Day, with another on the way soon, let me just say again: there isn't anyone I would rather do this parenting gig with. We are completely different and perfectly complementary, and together, are the best thing for these precious gifts we have the awesome responsibility and privilege of raising. I don't say it enough, but I am so grateful for, blessed by, and proud of you Husband!
Happy Fathers' Day!

This post was written using aliases as it was entered in a blogger Fathers' Day competition.
If you've been reading CUWTK long enough though, you'll have no trouble following the post. 

Friday, 9 June 2017

My Middle Class Privilege

I'm going there.

For as long as I haven't posted, I've been mulling this over in my mind. I've been wondering whether I felt I needed a soap box to say my say, or whether this is actually a valid point that needs some kind of spread (even if only to the friends and family that read this) to allow others to think about it as well. I still don't have the answer. So if nothing else, this will be something of a journal entry for me to look over down the line from now.

It's not like I never knew middle class privilege existed. I'm the first to admit that I have classist prejudices. They stem from my own childhood when it was assumed that because I attended a Model-C school, spoke proper English (without a flat accent), and didn't listen to the local radio station, I was trying to be white. I never understood that. I was fortunate to not be affected by colour. I didn't want or feel the need to be another colour. I did, however, want to be better, and probably therein lies the issue.

Fast forward nearly thirty years, and I live a fairly open-minded, middle class life. I have not experienced overwhelming success in any area. I am not rich. I do not live in in an affluent area. We try to keep things simple. We have to. Yet, I am considered far more fortunately and privileged than many in my country. I live in a solid structure covered by a roof. I have access to clean (hot) running water and sanitation. I have a permanent job. I can (just about) afford medical aid. In this country, in this day and age, that makes me rich.

So as the drought we currently found ourselves in has become increasingly dire, I have challenged myself in the area of using more than I need. The truth is: there is plenty I don't need. So when I asked questioned the water consumption for water-birth on a local water saving social media page, I was not prepared for the onslaught I was going to receive.

To cut a long story short, I was bombarded with accusations of calling birth a luxury, not wanting to give (my) children the best possible start in life, justifying c-sections and the water used there etc. etc. etc. I didn't get a chance to respond because the admin turned off all the commenting rights, but here's the truth, for me anyway:

Never mind my thoughts on natural v c-section births ( I have plenty, most of them documented in this blog). While child birth is not a luxury, in my books, a water birth most certainly is. While I don't deny the pain-relieving and intervention-reducing benefits of birthing in water, using 650L of water - the equivalent of one person's allotment for the week under our current 4B water restriction - is for comfort, and certainly not essential. Just ask the many women who give birth (vaginally, mind you) down the road at any local MOU or government facility.

Would I like the option of water during labour? Absolutely! But am I willing to ask for it at the expense of someone's water quote for a whole week? No.

Similarly, we experienced a pretty bad storm this week. In some areas it was no worse that any of Cape Town's annual ones, but the reality is that in other places buildings had roofs blown off, people were left homeless and destitute, and lives were lost. Even worse than that, not far down the national road from here, part of the Garden Route is engulfed in flames. Nearly 30% of Knysna has been burnt to the ground. But we see things in the rose-tinted lenses of our designer sunglasses.

Please don't think that I'm self-righteously pointing the finger at anyone. This problem is my problem. I'm part of the population for whom it is too easy for us to disregard the plight of others, justify our choices, or give our critical opinion as we sip on gourmet hot chocolate in comfort of our warm, dry homes. And all because we think we've worked hard enough and earned the right to our luxuries.

This torments me so much. It's not something I know how to solve. But I do know this: we will never get to the point of having exhausted all avenues for us to help those who have less than us - there is that much to do. And until we get up, and walk a mile in someone else's shoes, we will never know the extent of their burden, and we will always think we are better. When really, we aren't.

Vluit, vluit. My storie is uit.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Half Way Here (Third Time Lucky)

For the third time in five years, I find myself half way through a pregnancy. In what as been a real whirlwind of events, it's rather funny how slowly things seem to be going this time around. Anyway.

We are now in the 21st week, and this morning we went for the big anomaly scan and check up. It was significant for a number of reasons. First off, having only seen a midwife so far, this was our first scan of the baby. Secondly, it's that big scan where you check everything, including whether there are boy or girlie bits. And thirdly, we had to take Zac along.

Turns out this little one is doing wonderfully. We had a glowing report of perfect development, good movement and healthy growth. And Zac was in awe. While his eyes were glued to the screen, taking in every detail of his newest sibling, his mouth did not stop talking (over the sonographer), asking a million questions. One of those questions was about the baby's gender.

Now for some context: Zac has been saying - for about a year now - that he's going to get a sister (note: this was before I was pregnant), and that God told him so (so admittedly I laughed a bit when I saw the test). When I explained to him that there's a 50% chance he may get another brother and asked him how he'd feel about that, he didn't miss a beat, and simply replied, "we can throw him in the bin". So that's been something we've had to work on for a while, and I thought we were getting somewhere until he cried last night about having to come to the scan today, saying, "I just know it's going to be another boy".

Needless to say, we have not found out the gender. We are hoping the excitement of the moment will override any potential disappointment.

So with four months to go, I can confidently say we are getting excited. The movements - and ever enlarging belly (who knew a small baby needed so much room?) - are making everything feel so much more real, and I am so looking forward to share those experiences with Zac and Sam who have already affectionately named their new sibling Jellyfish.

Jellyfish at 20+ weeks, looking exactly like Zac and Sam did!

September can't actually come soon enough!

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

#catchup: CT Cycle Tour Juniors

I have recently drawn the conclusion that, based on the number of incomplete posts I have in my drafts here, I'm going to have to do some #catchup posts in which, although the information is literally months old, I can still post it on the blog without anyone missing it (which is what would happen if I slotted it into the correct time sequence).

Below is a photo update of CT Cycle Tour Juniors which, as it turned out, was the only CT event this year. As usual, the kids were super keen to participate, and eagerly dressed up in superhero regalia in keep with this year's theme. We had a record 8 Hendricks/Klaasen origin kids (and far too few adults to supervise them), but still managed to have a great time!

In the bus on the way to the event

Penny Bear, Zac's class teddy, race ready

It may have been a little early for these racers who went first

They held hands the entire way!

Jellyfish (in utero) and I got exercise too

Impatiently waiting for his race

Chuffed with her medal

All ready at the start line, on any and every type of wheels

Ready, Set, Go!

Penny Bear in tow

Some of the festivities at the event

A mandatory post-race (and lunch) ice cream en route home

Ice Cream happiness!

What a day! As chaotic as it always is, it's also always a lot of fun. And next year will be the real test - when we have a child in every age group!

ps. Jorja was also there, but not present for many photos as she was exploring with Lexi and Gabby, and raced on her own, without a co-pilot or photographer!

Monday, 1 May 2017

Blogging 201

Hip hip hooray! This post marks the 201st blog entry at Catching Up with the Klaasens - and time for us to catch up on what this blog is (should be) all about.


Bestie Spa Day (2016)
Ironically, while the last five months have broken me more than anything else I've experienced in my life so far, I don't think I've ever been this content. Things aren't perfect; we don't have it all together; we often struggle financially, emotionally, even mentally; we often feel disappointed and impatient that the things we have been dreaming about and hoping for have not yet happened. But we're in a good space, learning to rely on God for protection and provision, and really making an effort to enjoy and grab with both hands the opportunities that each new day brings.


School photo (2017)

Since the 101st post, a lot has happened. About a month after that post I was offered a National Management position in Virgin Active South Africa (which, for various reasons, I had to decline). I was then asked to complete a Masters so that I could teach full time at CPUT. I also started lecturing part time again, and for a while went into a partnership with friends who were starting a business (I have since left that, due to - ironically - my work and family commitments, but support them wholeheartedly still). Most recently I have once again, been involved in talks for a National Management position at VASA. All while I still teach full time at ISCT.


Following in Zac's footsteps (2017)

It's as though we have come full circle. When we're not listening to Zac and Sam's rendition of Shape of You (Ed Sheeran) we are back to listening to AJ Jenkins and all the alphabet, nursery rhymes and silly songs Sam is into right now. Zac has also, since starting to play percussion in my church band, been listening to praise and worship songs on repeat, working on his rhythm and timing. There's a lot of noise in our house.

Not so much for me. I am still no closer to that album I was talking about in Blogging 101. I want to say maybe I'll have time when I'm on maternity leave. But I'm not sure how realistic that is, really!


Treat Night at Michael's (2016)

I think it's safe to say that we bant. We gave up pretty much all carbohydrates in support of my desperate attempt to lose the baby weight I was still carrying more than 9 months after Sam was born, and it's just stuck. Don't get me wrong: we do eat the occasional (sometimes regular) treat, but on the whole, we are a whole lot healthier (and lighter) than we've been for a while. Banting apparently also affects fertility. That would explain a few things...


Amathunzi Game Farm, Robertson (2016)

How I wish we had tons of stories to tell here. Truthfully though, we have done only one family overseas trip in the last four years. It was amazing, and really ignited in me a deep, insatiable desire to travel with my kids. Sadly the South African Rand doesn't really support those kinds of dreams. So we, still, try to do some local traveling when we can.


Sunset Walks

Our family has gown by two people in the last 100 blogs. In addition to Zac we now have Sam and little Jellyfish on the way in September. We still have no pets, thanks to the rather small piece of land our house is on. Not that I'm complaining! Feeding three food-guzzling boys is a job all on its own, and I've only just managed to get Zac to help me bring the bins in; feeding another living thing will have to wait a while. Unless it's a fish.

Speaking of house. We bought one at the start of 2015, and have been there two-and-a-bit years now. I really love it; it's just the right amount of everything. Except that we have no garden or outdoor space, and with another human on the way, I do wonder how long it will be before we outgrow this space too.


Cape Town to Gauteng and Mpumlanga and back (2015)

I've not been as good at diligently recording memories in this space. I guess life happens, and while I wish I could just think it onto this blog instantaneously, it often ends up taking a while before I get the time to jot it all down. I do hope that, one day, Zac and Sam will take the time to enjoy reading back on these times (they currently just look at the photos and laugh to themselves), and realise that they may not have had everything, but they had a pretty good life.


Franschhoek (2017)

As one would imagine, being parents of two young boys, there is plenty play going on in our house. From being made to scrum them both between my knees, or chase them on their bikes as I try to walk down the Promenade, to sitting through hours of Paw Patrol being played out in our living room, or the triumphs and tantrums of Uno games - our lives are actually pretty playful. And we like it that way.

Outside of that, Andel has stopped playing rugby altogether, and is now cycling like a wannabe professional. He's actually really good. Fortunately. So it's not like he puts in all the hours for nothing. It would be nice, however, if I too could get some grown up play and exercise in. It's on my list to do Muddy Princess after this baby, so who knows. maybe it'll stick thereafter. Maybe.


Christmas (2016)

So we got the dream of another baby, in spite of major challenges and under miraculous circumstances when we got Sam. And now we are having another! And so perhaps the fact that we have not yet realised the dream of living abroad and traveling more, is well timed. I still have the insane dream of becoming a doctor. But that's a whole 'nother post all on its own!


A day in the life (2017)

There is nothing better than the sounds of belly laughter that rings from my room when the kids are with us, all piled up in bed. Just the other night, after reprimanding them for an out-of-control performance they put on while we were trying to Facetime family overseas, Zac and Sam took one look at each other, and doubled over in laughter - at me! These two have the most contagious sounding giggles ever, and it has helped me laugh a whole lot more too!

And everything else...