Boston & Winnie are just about to venture into the wonder world of food, where did the last 5 months go! Lucky for them they have Mother’s that are serious foodies.
Infant nutrition is crucial for supporting optimal growth and development. Think about this for one minute.. choosing foods for your infant can either prevent a disease or feed one. Now, that sounds serious, but we actually have the power to influence our children with fuel to set them up for a healthy life.
I made a little promise to myself when I was pregnant with my second child. I would do my best to try give my second baby a bottle from 6 weeks if I could breastfeed. The reason behind this is because Cruz (my first child), still to this day has never taken a bottle. I tried so many brands but he was just never interested. All he wanted was the boobies! That wasn’t to much of an issue to me back then as I had him home with me for the 10months of his life. However when he went to day care he would refuse my EDM or formula. I could never really pop out for to longer periods either as he would want to be fed. Cruz was not great on solids either. So he needed my breastmilk to nourish him.
When I was pregnant with Winter Rose I received a message from the gorgeous Bianca Ebeling telling me about the book she had created. It was called "Let's celebrate" by @mylittlebookywooky and it was designed to stimulate a newborns vision by using black and white images.
My eldest little boy Cruz is such a little book worm, we hang out at the library a few times a week and borrow new books out. He just loves them, especially the images. I usually change the story around too haha. So hearing about this book I was instantly interested in hearing more.
I received the book and flash cards and was so excited to use once my little one arrived. I placed the flash cards on the wall next to the change table and placed the book in the cot awaiting my babes arrival. Cruz was so in love with the flash cards. He chats to the animals and I tell him what they are. He thinks it's great. Plus it's a great distraction while trying to change my wriggling toddlers bottom. Haha!
Since Winter Rose's arrival we have been placing the book next to her. It's amazing to see how over the past 4 weeks she is really starting to focus on the images. In just a week she was able to lock her eyes on the book. Now week 4 and she is reaching out to the book. It blows my mind how interested in the book she is. During witching hour I often lay her on the bed on her side and she will just settle when I place the book next to her. She goes from crying to such a calm nature. Just wow!
The book will defiantly be something I will be buying for other mummas in the future for baby shower gifts or birth arrival gifts. I would also recommend this to other expecting and new mummas too.
I have asked Bianca a few questions below so that we can all find out a little more about her and her book. Thank you again Bianca.
Could you tell us a little bit about yourself Bianca?
I am a mum of 2 little cheeky monkeys aged 3 and 1. My husband and I moved from Melbourne to Geelong 4 years ago for a more relaxed and affordable lifestyle and we haven't looked back. My background is in finance but my biggest sense of achievement comes from being creative. Developing my books has been extremely fulfilling.
What drove you to create a book specifically for newborns?
As part of my mother's group I attended a session with the local librarian who was explaining to us new mummies that we should be reading to our babies from the moment they are born and that the best books for 0-6 months are black and white books. I actually didn't read much to my son so I took her advice on board and found a black and white book and my son started reacting to it instantly. He was completely captivated by the images. It blew our minds. He had previously really struggled with tummy time and would cry so much and really didn't want to do it. I thought he would never achieve lift his head however with the black and white book in front of my him, he started really trying to lift his head to see the images and within less than a week he was holding up his head for short periods. There were many other benefits that we witnessed over the few weeks we had the book from the library and I just knew I had to get one for myself to have permanently. Unfortunately no bookshops or baby shops stocked such books. Hence I had this idea…
What is the idea behind the black and white illustrations?
When babies are born their eyesight is still developing and they find it hard to focus on the world around them. High contrast images are much easier for babies to see in their first few months and provide them with something simple and engaging to focus on, and in this focus or intense concentration they can allow their minds to rest. A baby cannot see pastel colours properly for several months after birth. It is recommended to surround a baby with as much black and white as possible in the early months for visual stimulation and development.
Now the book only has illustrations, no words. What is the reason behind this?
This is one of the best bits about the books. Anyone can pick up the book at tell a story about what they see on the page. In my first book there is a page with a hot air balloon and clouds. There are so many ways to approach this. You can simply tell your newborn baby what you see on the page. Or you can make up a story about a hot air balloon that flew away and went travelling around the world. Or perhaps you got engaged in a hot air balloon. Another story opportunity. Talk to your baby, read, make up stories. Let your baby hear your voice, a range of vocabulary. Also, every parent/caregiver will have a different story to tell based on what they see. The fact there are no words in the book means you aren't bound by the words and you can let your story telling imagination run wild
How important is it to read to your child?
Reading aloud with your child is so important. It stimulates their imagination and curiosity, it teaches them new vocabulary, it opens their eyes to new ideas. It helps develop their language and listening skills. Children who are read to at a young age do better in their schooling years. One of my favourite quotes that I believe hits the nail on the head is "reading to children, even before they can understand, teaches them to associate books with love and affection". I see this in my children. I remember when I had my daughter last year, I would have her snuggled into my arms and I would read her books throughout the day and it was my favourite activity with her. We promote the love of books with our children and set up a little reading nook in our house. Both my daughter and son spend a lot of time there each day looking at and playing with their books. They love bringing favourite books to my husband and I and sit with us and we read to them. My son is nearly 3 and I can see that a lot of his vocabulary that he is using is from the books we read and it excites me and makes me incredibly proud.
My #showtherealyou girl this week is a #girlboss, a #mumma to two boys, a #basketballerswife, a #traveller… and I could go on and on with the #hashtag titles for Mrs Lou Carter.
From the first time I spoke to Lou (over email), I was inspired straight away. She was so professional about collaborating together for her business Baby Luno, yet she had such a calming, nurturing, aura about her and was so supportive to a hormonal pregnant mumma (in my first trimester) like me. I instantly clicked with Lou and we have continued to grow and blossom our friendship since that very first email over 6 months ago.
I haven’t actually met Lou in person because she has been running her business from Europe (even though it is Australian based), while her husband follows his dreams as a professional basketballer. I cannot wait till she returns as we can have a wine (maybe post breastfeed though haha).
I know you will love learning about how Lou manages her online business, deals with the everyday mumlife challenges and travels Europe.
COFFEEEEE! I get way too excited when I about to have coffee and I drink way too much of it. I like it strong a completely black. The coffee is terrible in the UK (sorry UK readers) and I miss my Melbourne long blacks dearly.
Can you tell me who the REAL Lou Carter is?
Wow! Tough question! The short version – I am a mother of 2 boys (1 and 3 yrs old), wife to a professional basketball player, living in a different city every year and founder of online baby shop, babyluno.com
Here is the longer version…
I am originally from Sweden but I have hardly lived there. From age 2, I grew up in Luxembourg (a small country in the middle of Europe) then went to Sweden for 3 years of high school and then went to Australia to travel and met my (now) husband. I was head over heels so I decided to move to Australia for University at UNSW in Sydney.
My husband is a professional basketball player and usually his contracts are about 8-10 months so we move around a lot for his career. In the past 10 years we have lived in Sydney two separate times, Melbourne three separate times, twice in Adelaide, a stint in Perth, a year in Auckland New Zealand, three different cities in Sweden, lived in Spain for a few months and are currently living in Plymouth in the U.K. If someone asked me where my home is, I wouldn’t be able to give them an answer. My blood is Swedish and very proud of that beautiful country but when I am in Sweden, I feel like a little bit of a tourist. I probably feel more at home in Australia now but I definitely feel like a tourist there too. I do have 2 little Aussie boys now though who have that beautiful Aussie accent :). I am pretty good at just making wherever we are, our home. Home is definitely just where the heart is.
My two sons are 3 and 16 months. I am absolutely loving being a mother. There are definitely tough days, especially when dealing with sleep deprivation and we live far away from family and friends so we don’t get much of a break but seeing these creatures, that I made, develop is the coolest thing in the world. To be honest, I had no big interest in kids before I had my own. I was very career driven, loved traveling and loved a party but now I feel that children are the most important thing in life – both mine and other children. So that is one way how the REAL me has changed a lot in recent years.
My newest baby is my online baby shop called Baby Luno babyluno.com, which is based in Australia. My career background is in marketing and especially online marketing so I decided to make use of that and joining it with my passion of babies. It is only over a year old so it is still taking off but I love having my own business especially as a mother. I have something that is mine and something to do other than just being a mum and I am continuously learning new things about having your own business. Running the business having two toddlers around comes with some challenges and running a business from overseas is also challenging at times. The time difference means that the best time to chat to customers and suppliers is in my morning but this is usually when I have the kids. I do have a lot of mum-guilt as I hate being on my laptop or phone in front of the kids so I really try not to be, only for a few urgent matters. However, my husband does help with the kids a lot. Just as I am supportive of my husband’s dreams, he is incredibly supportive of my dreams and goals so we make it work quite well.
These are the things that make up the REAL Louise Carter but other than that I am quite open-minded and go with the flow, but also quite passionate about things I care about. I try and always look on the bright side of life, I laugh quite easily (so my husband thinks he’s the funniest person ever), I am very close to my family even though we are all spread out, love meeting new people and love sports!
What drove you to create your Instagram account and online business Baby Luno?
I have my personal Instagram account @mrsloucarter that I created mainly to keep in touch with all family and friends around the world and to keep them up to date with what we are doing. Since we live so far away from all our friends and family, it is a nice way to share with everyone what happened that day since I don’t have many others to chat to.
When we were living in New Zealand when my first boy was just a baby, I found it so difficult to find the baby products that I wanted and I would try to find them online but only American websites would pop up that didn’t ship to where I was so the idea for Baby Luno was born. I finally launched the website when I was 7 months pregnant with my second baby. It was maybe not ideal timing but also because of that, I was my main audience so I would market the way that I would find attractive and bring in products that I loved. I run the Baby Luno Instagram account myself @babylunoshop. I try and add a few bits and pieces that are not just marketing, like some blog posts from, for example, the amazing Alice in Healthyland :). You want to give your followers some extra value. It’s all a learning process.
Not many people know this about you, but you run your online boutique Baby Luno, you are a mumma and you support your husband by living overseas with him while he chases his dream? Tell us more how you do this with children? This blows my mind! What a life! Amazing Lou!
Aww, thank you! Well we started moving around due to my husband’s career before kids and before Baby Luno. It was exciting getting to live in different places so I was loving it. It was maybe not ideal for my career. I was lucky enough to get jobs everywhere we went but we did decide to have children when we did since that way I didn’t need to work for a while and could just focus on raising them.
Of course, moving around does get more difficult when kids are involved, especially when you throw in different time zones. Sleeping routines are not always easy to follow and I am one sleep-deprived mama. Right now we are in the process of moving again and I am starting to sell and give away a few of the kids’ toys and it is not easy but I am so impressed at how well they are taking it. My 3-year old is now really excited to give away his toys and the other day he said “the boys who don’t have any toys will get happy”. That melted my heart. We may be raising a little minimalist. We have also started telling him how he will start at a new Swedish Kindy soon and he is so excited about it. I am amazed at how adaptable children can be – probably more than us adults.
There are definitely some challenges to living like we do but we just choose to focus on the amazing positives. We get to live in different parts of the world – really become a part of the culture, connect with people that we would have never met otherwise, see how a country really works and have very different life experiences. We love taking advantage of these opportunities especially when the kids are young before they start school. In the end, it is all about your story.
My husband’s career will not go on forever so we will settle down in one place soon but being from different parts of the world, I am sure we will always be travelling a little bit. It will eventually be nice to have our own place and decorate the kids rooms with our own furniture that we love and most importantly make really deep connections with people, be able to attend our friends’ weddings, birthdays etc that we have missed way too many of.
What is your favourite quote or mantra?
My favourite quote/mantra is definitely “The happiest people don’t HAVE the best of everything, they MAKE the best of everything”. It doesn’t matter what you have, where you live or what the weather is like, you can still make life into the best adventure by just deciding to be happy and making it the best. It is all about your attitude.
My husband and I also always have this saying when crazy things happen or offers come up from teams in cities far away, we always just say “It’s all about your story”. Make life the best story you can. When you are lying on your deathbed, that is what you will remember.
How often do you find the time to move your body?
I go to the gym at least twice a week where I either do a Body Pump class or HIIT class and take my boys with me to the creche there that they love. This is a booked in time that I never miss so no excuse. I get in to different routines in every place we move to. It depends what is best accessible to me – sometimes it’s bikram yoga or playing sports or just running but I have never felt in better shape than what I am in right now, which I am quite proud of. I may also have my boys to thank for that since I am constantly running after them (who are both sports crazy) so I hardly stop moving my body.
I almost only wear SIX30 activewear.The company was started by one of my friends and I absolutely love her designs. She is also one of the people that inspired me to start Baby Luno because she also runs the website luxefitness.com.au which is a one-stop activewear shop collecting the best activewear. I love supporting small businesses and especially when it’s someone I know. I also loved Cadenshae’s nursing sports bras while breastfeeding – this is why I started stocking their products on babyluno.com.
Something you practice daily that promotes self love?
I try and listen to a motivational YouTube video every day to get my mind straight. My favourite is Tony Robbins. He talks a lot about how you are in control of how you feel – it is a decision. The thing that always lifts my spirit though is just putting on some great music and dancing around. It usually turns into a family dance party since my two boys love to dance and sometimes hubby joins in too.
Favourite product/outfit currently on Baby Luno?
I love every single product on Baby Luno. That is why I bring them in because I want to make my favourites more available to other mothers because I had trouble finding all the things that I wanted when my boys were babies. I am so impressed at all the mumpreneurs out there that have created these amazing innovative products. The nursing activewear is definitely a best seller. Also I am really trying to collect the best baby bags out there and have brought in my favourite Swedish baby brand, Elodie Details, to make it easily accessible for all my fellow Aussies :).
What advice would you give to other people out there wanting to start a blog/business?
Just decide to do it and decide that it will be a success! You don’t have to have all the answers before you start, you can figure it out along the way. Just make a decision about something and go 100% – if it is the wrong decision, you will either quickly realise it or you will be so invested in it that you will make that the right decision in the end and you will be a lot further than if you hadn’t made a decision at all so don’t be afraid. Everyone makes mistakes but you just make sure that you learn from each mistake so the more mistakes you make, the better you will be because you will have learnt so much.
It is also great to have a mentor. Talk to someone that has done it before and get some tips rather than trying to reinvent the wheel on your own. They would have already made some mistakes and learned from them so then you don’t need to make those mistakes again and you can learn from their mistakes as well.
Packing my hospital bag for my first pregnancy was very exciting. I Pinterested all these hospital bag lists and I was so excited with what I packed into my suitcase, ready for my babies arrival. When the time came, my husband grabbed the bags and brought them to hospital with us. I thought I was so organised, but boy was I wrong. I had really over packed! I had so much stuff that I actually couldn’t find what I needed, when I needed it. I had to much of the stuff I didn’t need and not enough of what I actually really needed. I was so overwhelmed. So I made a promise to myself that next time I would pack a little lighter and bring more of the essentials rather than all the extras.
I have put together a list of what I need and wished I had put in the first time, for both my hospital bag and my babies nappy bag.
I am so pleased and super lucky to be featuring the gorgeousKirsty McKenzie AKA@themummysomniacfor the second time on my blog. Kirsty is a dear Instafriend that I have been lucky enough to meet, and she has helped to guide and support me through my #mumlife journey and with my lifestyle in general. This woman has a heart of gold and is not afraid to share her trimaphs and failures (argh girl thats what I love about you). In my first interview with Kirsty, she shared answers with you all in depth about herself in my #showtherealyou segment (you can read here). This time she has returned to share with you all this raw piece of writing about how she found a new love for her body during her current pregnancy with baby number three. Wow mummas this is a must read for you all as I know you will be able to totally relate with Kirsty no matter what stage you are at with your self love journey. Enough from me, time to hand it over the beautiful Kirsty McKenzie. Arghhh I know you will love this piece as much as me.
As my very first (ever) stretch marks began to emerge, somewhere throughout my first pregnancy, I’m afraid to say, I cried…
I don’t think for me, that it was vanity. I struggle with change, or at least I have at times in the past (even chopping my mum bun off recently took some serious commitment). I think for me, simply, it’s hard to see something you’ve become so used to seeing, your own body, change so rapidly. After all, I had become accustomed to my pre-pregnancy body slowly changing over the previous 27 years. Yet the changes that we experience during pregnancy are over but a fraction of the time that we had with our bodies before. After a while, I accepted the changes (stretch marks and new outie belly button to be precise)… even grew to be fond of them. After all, they represent one of my greatest accomplishments in life, my eldest daughter. And believe me when I say ‘accomplishment’, the kid didn’t sleep until she was 3.5, it’s amazing that I’m even half as sane as I am.
When the time came for baby number two, I thought I was prepared for the changes. Yet like each child, each pregnancy can bring with it a whole different set of challenges. My first pregnancy, like my first child, was set out to take me to places that I’d never been before (awake all night… and not voluntarily like in my youth). To push me to let go of the things that I need to, and focus on what’s really important. My second child, like my second pregnancy, came forth to show me just how much I was really capable of pushing things (mind, body and spirit). Just when I thought I had it all sorted out, thought I’d adjusted my headspace accordingly, and knew what to expect, the second child came along to throw all of it on it’s head. To push me to my limits, and to show me just how far my mind and body could stretch, and just how much love I was capable of. There were elements of my second pregnancy, that felt easy, in the sense that I had been there before, I knew the morning sickness would end, that eventually all babies sleep through the night, and that labour is in fact the easy part… and that the hard part is what happens when you bring the baby home. But there are no two pregnancies that are exactly the same, not even for the same person… now I know.
I bounced back physically from my first pregnancy without any real issues, but my second pregnancy had pushed my body to the extreme, literally (10cm abdominal separation). It saddens me to say, that again, when I dared look in the mirror at my body, a mere 6 weeks later, still looking six month pregnant, I felt complete and utter despair (again I cried). I thought I knew what to expect, but this took me completely by surprise. I threw myself into the chaos that was my life as a mum of two, 19 months apart, and tried to forget. Yet, eventually, bit-by-bit, everything returned to normal, or what would become my new ‘normal’. Some time, patience and a lot of hard work, I recovered, not back to the old me, but to a new and improved me. I realised how amazing, and strong my body was.
I think I had taken so much for granted in the past, but seeing how I’d brought it back (after a very long uphill climb), gave me an incredible appreciation for it.
Fast-forward almost exactly 4 years from the appearance of those very first stretch marks, and I’m sitting fat and happy at 26 weeks into my third pregnancy. I’m not sure what it is, whether it’s having been through some tough times, a little bit of age and maturity, or simply having finally worked out what’s worth worrying about in life, but I’m excited about it… about everything (Ok, still incredibly nervous about pushing a baby out of my hoo-ha, that part doesn’t change). I’ve never felt more comfortable (not so much physically, because we all know that pregnancy has the uncomfortable factor, but in the mental sense) in my own skin. To me there’s something about my pregnancy body that fills me full of life again (literally). There’s a confidence there that I don’t normally possess, a sense of pride and self love that I wish I could feel all the time. Not only have the old marks reappeared, the ones placed on my body by this baby’s two older sisters, but some new ones too. It might sound strange, but in some ways these marks are truly welcomed. Each of my children has left their mark on me, in so many ways. I’ve changed the way I approach life, I’ve learned to stop fighting unworthy battles, to accept what I cannot change, to work with the new me, instead of trying to go back to the old me. I don’t need the old me back, she’s not relevant anymore… her way of thinking, her body, her outlook (I would welcome her sleep habits back though)… because the new me, is so much better.
I’m definitely interested to see what my new body will look like after baby number three. I don’t know what to expect, I have to let it all go, and leave my expectations in the same drawer as the pregnancy tests I took (Is it just me, or does anyone else struggle to throw those things away?). I have no idea where this pregnancy will go, but for some reason, at this point (ask me again in another 10 weeks), I’m pretty cool about that.
Wow, thank you so much for sharing this piece of your thoughts with us. I love that you have found this new love and respect for your body and you are helping others do the same without even realising. Want more from this babe? Follow her journey on her Instagam – @themummysomniac and check our her blog http://www.themummysomniac.com/