Focus on · Personal

Reflections on motherhood part 2 – the first year…

I’ve been wanting to post more about my experiences earlier on at 3, 6 and 9 months but see, my baby girl turned one already. Guess I was too busy discovering and learning all these things that I’m about to share with you. Of course, everybody starts with “I can’t believe it’s already been a year”. I remember the day before she came, the birth and every week and month. And luckily I wrote it all down in her book in case I’d forget any detail. Just like my mom did with me and I am still re-reading it. Weekly since pregnancy. My feelings, her first smile, her weight, every milestone, her feeding and sleeping schedule, when did she turn around, her first solid food, etc. Despite being tired and yearning for full nights sleep, despite some very challenging moments and lonely times, it has been the best year. Nellie has been bringing us so much laughter, joy and happiness and has filled our hearts with a new indescribable and unconditional love.

The first year in 10:

1. “TMI=Too much information” In my previous post* I had already shared breastfeeding mom’s munchies and sleep deprivation. My brain felt like the hard drive of a computer; like it is constantly on red saying “disk almost full”. So much new information to remember. I used to always forget something when leaving the house with the stroller (fresh water, fill diapers, bring other clothes etc). In the end just remember they really need your protection and a lot of love and affection.

2. “Forgiven, forgotten, forbidden” You still haven’t forgiven or forgotten those who came empty handed (food-wise not gift-wise) in those first few weeks nor those who asked you the ‘forbidden’ questions (i.e. “So what do you do all day?” etc)

3. “Flying with baby” When you are going on a plane with the baby: passengers look at you as if you’re going to hijack the plane. If your baby cries during the flight you get two kinds of looks: 1. pity – mostly by parents who’ve been through this many times and/or 2. anger – mostly by men. Can’t blame them, I used to do the same. Only after landing when she was quiet after all they ask her name or give me a smile.

4. “The suppository victory” Every new mom dreads her baby’s first illness. But once it happens, you just erase yourself completely and naturally, you only worry and care for your child. Remember how good it felt when your mom took care of you when you were sick. This is where you bless and praise breastfeeding once again. Another epic moment of baby’s first illness is the suppository. Failing  the first suppository action feels worse than failing an exam or your driver’s license. I won’t go into details. But here again, overcoming it makes you gain a lot of Mommy-confidence.

5. “Matching outfits” Who needs style advice, Pinterest or fashion magazines for clothing inspirations? Just match your clothes to the baby’s outfit. Or to the colours of your stroller or Babybjorn.

6. “False needs” Society has come up with false needs and new moms are easy targets. I still get angry because of it. Charging way too much money for classes, workshops or accessories that are completely unnecessary at those ages. Or a mobile in stroller – nature is the most beautiful view; let your child look at the skies, the trees and the birds.

7. “The phone” like you once knew it enters another dimension. While you may have enjoyed phone conversations in the past, this is definitely something that stays in the past. You have no time, no hands and no patience for phone calls. You have better things to do. Oh and did you also curse out loud anyone calling you between 6 and 8 pm?

8. “Knowledge is power, ignorance is loss” Being a mom feels like playing chess: you always have to think and prepare for the next step or more. There are no two days the same, everyday is something new. And if you like routine and have trouble with change, here’s another challenge for you: you barely have time to adjust to the current schedule that you already have to adapt the next. But what helped me through all stages was to be and stay informed, to read and learn about what happens physically and emotionally. Unfortunately too many ignorant people will teach you lessons and too many myths are accepted as facts.

9. “Loneliness” It feels like there is a women-mommy code not to talk about the difficulties ahead during the first year until you bring it up retroactively. You’re lonely and alone when you need to talk: your friends without babies assume you have no more right to complain (I used to think like this too) and your friends with kids have no time. Luckily some friends stick around and some new bonds are being made. I don’t feel as lonely as I used to since Nellie is in my life.

10. “The others” The amount of justifying you have to do towards others. How many times have I had to explain “No, my baby doesn’t take a pacifier. She sucks her thumb and it is fine. She self soothes and uses it when she’s tired or hungry. And no it will not ruin her teeth.” AND we can see her face on photos. And so many more examples I force myself not to share. Not to focus on the negative and bad vibes. Just learn your lesson and move on knowing your truth.

During the first few months “colics” and “teething” are the code word for every cry. And we worry. And yes basically it can only be 4 things: tired, hungry/thirsty, pain, diaper. But I believe in Aletha Solter’s approach. Babies need to cry to let their feelings/nerves/frustrations/anxieties/fears out and we must show them that it is okay to feel strong emotions and that crying is the way to express them. Instead of grabbing for a toy for distraction. How about telling your baby “it is OKAY to cry, I am here for you” instead of rocking and jumping while saying “don’t cry don’t cry”. They need to feel it is okay to cry and that we are here to love, hug and protect them. With time you won’t be scared of tears and cries anymore; you will know how to interpret them and sooth calmly. Babies are the reflections of us, if we keep cool they will stay cool too. 

Maybe it’s because I gave birth at a more mature age but this first year I spend it all with my baby. She has rearranged my list of priorities. Luckily I feel I’ve had more than enough time for myself, my work and other achievements and occupations; and I feel more available and devoted to spend most of my time with her “cause I don’t wanna miss a thing”. I’m also blessed to have a few precious people around me to help when work gets crazy (show business).This precious time is unique and we can never get it back. If i leave her for more than 2-3 hours i already miss her like crazy.

That first birthday party is not only a celebration of the baby’s 1st year. It’s also a major milestone for us mothers. We deserve a hug, a pat on a back and seeing our babies growing and glowing is the best reward. Like a graduation from Mommycollege. Being thrown into parenthood was like moving to a new country without knowing the language. You just learn it by practicing and speaking it. And you learn that your baby is there to help you and guide you, if you let her, if you connect to her. Maybe she taught me more than i taught her. To let go and trust her. They know best what they need.

Oh and don’t forget to dance a lot… and sing… and laugh…

*Previous post “Reflections on Motherhood part 1 – the first three months…”  Read it here

Focus on · Personal

I’m a mom now…

Reflections on Motherhood part 1 – the first three months…
IMG_5239
It’s been a long time since I have written a post. But I have a good excuse: I had a baby. Her name is Nellie, she’s now 3 months young; growing and glowing. You’d think I’d have more time to write now? WRONG. Therefore I decided it’s time to share some precious information regarding pregnancy, childbirth and the beginning of this new life and your new title ‘Mom’. Despite the fact that I was well surrounded by experienced friends and family, there are still many things I didn’t realize or maybe didn’t want to truly hear. So let’s start with breaking a few myths:

1. “Maternity Leave” congé de maternité, zwangerschapsverlof or חופשת לידה all have the word leave, congé, verlof in them: there is none of that for you these first few months. It’s the hardest work you’ve ever done. Physically and mentally. Period. And it’s my first child.

2. “You go to sleep when the baby sleeps.” No you don’t because during that time you have to: cook, clean, eat, shower, shit, arrange, run errands, see visitors, be social and any other activity you’re supposed to do. And the first few days after giving birth you are insomniac anyways.

3. “It is love at first sight.” No, it’s not. It takes time to learn and to love. Yes you are so excited and overwhelmed when you finally get to hold that baby in your arms. That baby you have been waiting for for so long. That baby you imagined, seen on the ultrasound and wondered how it will come out. That baby that kicked your belly for months. That baby you’ve been talking to in the street while passers-by were wondering if you were crazy. There have been loads of psychology books written about it, some call it ‘baby blues’ etc but fact is: there’s a transition between the imaginary baby and the real baby. It takes time to understand what has happened and it can feel empty despite what people are willing to admit. And don’t forget: you are tired from giving birth even if you had the easiest delivery ever. And yes, the hormones… And then everyday,  you learn to love her more and more and more and cannot imagine what life was like before she came – and mine is only 3 months now… The attachment, love and care grow daily…

4. “It must be gas/colic” Everyone has an opinion and will tell you what to do, especially those who have children of course. I could write a whole post on this: in the name of what do people allow themselves to tell you things? I’m sure they don’t have bad intentions, but don’t they know how annoying it is. Do I tell others what I think of the way they dress or talk? NO so?? In the first few weeks it will stress you out the most because it may not work on your baby and you don’t know what those cues and cries mean. It’s only after 6 – 8 weeks that your mommy confidence is slowly but surely getting strong enough to be able to say out loud: “I know my baby and I know what is best for her”. So then those comments get even more annoying. I just try to stay nice. And for you and yourself: it is a process of trial and error. You have to try what works best for you two. And not freak out because you cannot trust your gut feeling from day one. It is by overcoming crises that you gain this confidence. And what worked yesterday may not work today.

5. “What? You haven’t read this book?” Same rule applies for books. Knowledge is power, it is great to be informed indeed and maximize your knowledge of facts. But again, a lot of these books will make you stress out and put you in a constant state of guilt when your baby doesn’t match the guidelines or doesn’t reacts in the same way as the book says. For instance how many hours a day a baby sleeps, whether or not she takes pacifiers, how much she should eat etc. Again, with time it will reconfirm itself: mothers know best

6. “Food, food, food” When you breastfeed* you are hungry, very very HUNGRY. Hungry at another level. I couldn’t eat much during my pregnancy because my stomach was upside down and I had a lot of heartburn so woohoo I didn’t gain weight (only 9kg in total) and woohoo I am catching up on food now.  So you will obsess about food and preferably good healthy food in order to produce good milk. But as you have no time to go buy and cook it, you will appreciate the good people around you helping out with that: bringing food, cooking in your house and storing it. I’m not so good with the freezer, I usually open it years later when it’s too late while cleaning it out with my mom. You will hate anyone who comes to visit and doesn’t offer to bring something to eat – even if they bring baby gifts. And you will remember this months later too.               *a footnote on breastfeeding: just like many other challenges that come with motherhood, breastfeeding will feel like the best feeling ever and worst feeling ever. Especially in the first few days, again, it is a skill to learn and yes your instincts will help but it’s not all natural from day one. Whomever says it is, may not be completely honest. Doctors, nurses and friends or family may have good intentions but can raise the pressure: for good milk you need good nutrition, lots of fluids and sleep –> SLEEP: n°2 already mentioned it: no you don’t sleep. Vicious cycle.

7. “So what do you do all day?” You will forever hate the person asking this. But I used to think the same I admit. All the cliches are true and you don’t understand things until they happen to you. To answer the question partly: just the breastfeeding can give you an idea: if you feed 8 à 10 times for about 30 minutes, and add to that burping, pumping etc. you have already filled  at least 6 out of 24 hours. That’s half a day isn’t it? Got it?

8. “What now?” During pregnancy you are well surrounded by your doctor, your nurse, your apps and your midwife or doula. You even have classes that prepare you for giving birth, breastfeed etc. Where is the class that prepares you for what comes AFTER? All of a sudden, you go home from the hospital and are thrown to the lions. Long live Google to find out what happens to your body, to your baby etc in those first few weeks. But accept that the overwhelment lasts and can make you feel completely out of balance, even depressed.

9. “You have to put your baby on a schedule” Newborns don’t have a schedule, they don’t even know the difference between night and day, so chillax your brain, instead of trying to force all kind of tricks to get your baby in to a routine, take your time and let it happen naturally in the coming months. So the schedule thing is for later. Again, don’t fight it. (Easier said than done, I know that). Most women I know are strong independent women who are used to control their lives. A baby is the ultimate challenge there: you learn you cannot plan your day like you used to. And your daily happiness is based on matters like: did I manage to finish brushing my teeth, eating my breakfast, knitting one more line etc.

10. “Why is the baby crying?” Babies cry. They just do. There are the basic needs like ‘I’m hungry’, ‘I’m tired’, ‘I’m dirty’ like you read in most books. But there are also many other reasons babies cry. Keep in mind that just like in adulthood, tears are made to release tensions and let emotions out, babies do the same. We need to let them cry – still haven’t exactly figured out how to do that.

10 random tips I’d like to share:

1. Keep a book where you write everything down because with time you forget things. I am keeping a book for my baby that started with the predictor pregnancy test and in which I write daily or weekly. Nellie’s first bath, Nellie’s sleeping schedule, her size, her weight, her smiles, her toys etc. My thoughts, facts etc. Think about the amazing memories for later. My mom made one for me and I thank her for it every day.

2. Make space in your cameras, computers and iPads because you’re gonna fill it up with many photos.

3. The beginning of this new life is filled with ambivalences and contradictions: a. time goes by fast and slowly at the same time. b. you are bored and super busy at the same time. c. you’re the happiest and the saddest you’ve ever been, all this in one day – or even in one hour in the first few weeks. And once you passed the 3 months milestone, it gets better they say. And worse I add. Contradictions.

4. Remember: Nothing comes completely naturally, it takes time to settle in and just remind yourself you are doing as good as you can. Easier said than done, I know.

5. The first 6 weeks are not about happiness, they are about survival, you only care for primary needs: eat sleep shit – double check you buttoned your shirt, brushed your teeth and have no spit up on you those first few weeks when leaving the house

I also borrowed a few funny tips from this lady Adriel Booker, she made a list of 100 tips for pregnancy, birth and motherhood:

69. Your baby will sleep through the night sometimes… and when he does you will have insomnia.

78. There will be days where you cry as much as your baby. This is normal. There will also be days when you cry more than your baby. This is also normal. 

85. Keep in mind that immunizations are harder for mama than for baby.

88. Always try to leave five minutes earlier than you need to. Then you will only be five minutes late to wherever you’re going (instead of ten) after you’ve changed the pooey diaper that inevitably happens when you’re walking out the door.

90. Doing a load of laundry, folding it, and putting it away all within the same day will make you feel like wondermom. (Go ahead and congratulate yourself and tweet about it when you accomplish this.)

So to end this personal piece: enjoy your pregnancy and get as much rest as you can. Being pregnant is the best excuse ever to be lazy. I enjoyed every stage despite sometimes being impatient, worried and anxious. But that’s my nature anyhow. Only in the last trimester did I really start thinking and preparing for birth (class, books, doula etc) and preparing the home (nursery, baby accessories etc). I couldn’t really think of what would be AFTER giving birth and maybe that’s for the best, I don’t know. We just passed the 3-month milestone and every day means more happiness and more challenges. Trial and error once again.

Oh and also, try to calculate not to be highly pregnant in August – especially if you live in Israel. And we had a war on top of it all this August! You will probably go through a roller coaster of emotions due to fatigue and hormones; spontaneous cries for all and nothing. Enjoy it and let it flow.

Feel free to contact me if you want to share your personal story. We all need to be encouraged and hugged. We all deserve some understanding and a shoulder to cry on. Our guys can be amazing, but can they really understand what we women are experiencing here? In the past when asked who I admire and who are my inspirations, I had no answers. Now I know: Mothers. I’m just one of those who need to talk about it and let it out. How come I never see them crying in public? It’s a pity many  have to experience this alone and in solitude.

And to end, here is another nice article to read at night by another mommy blogger called Megan Minneman Morton “Mommy, Somebody Needs You”

IMG_5238
photos by Yariv Fein

Focus on · Music · Tel Aviv · Uncategorized

new single by N8n ‘Losing Control’

Did you know my brother was a pop star? You probably already by now I come from a musical family. So my brother N8n (pronounced Nathan) is an artist, a deejay, a drummer and a performer. He’s always playing somewhere around the world, from London to Capetown, from Shanghai to Tel Aviv. And in between his live gigs, he hops in and out of the studio to record his songs. This one was produced in New York. ‘Losing Control’ is the second single from his forthcoming album ‘Imaginathan’. The new single is another catchy tune with a solid hook, hear it once and it will stick in your head. The production is minimal with N8N & producer Scott Jacoby (John legends, …) bangin’ the beat, a Fender jazz bass to give it that depth, the acoustic guitar and clavinet playin’ the groove, while the the warm harmonies and 80’s synth pad take over the chorus. Lyrically N8N sings about a bad case of the ex. ‘Goin’ out of my mind – and into your Soul – It’s breaking my heart – Feels like I’m Losing Control’

N8n performing ‘Losing Control’ live in Rothschild12 Tel Aviv

Read the Newsletter

Buy it online

N8n full bio

More info: N8n’s website

Screen shot 2013-06-20 at 10.21.11photo by Sien Josephine

N8nlogo

Focus on

Focus on: Magali Pinchasi

We always like to hear stories about how people get inspired, develop their talents and chase their dreams. It’s even more interesting when the story is about a young girl from Antwerp who found her inspiration in Tel Aviv. This particular story is about Magali Pinchasi, a young creative girl with a passion for jewelry, fashion and color. I met Magali in a little coffee bar. Modest but proud and continuously smiling she talks about her life, her jewelry collection and her connection to both Antwerp and Tel Aviv.

423398_10151036661998429_581808444_n22 year old something Magali Pinchasi has been fascinated by jewelry ever since she was little, which isn’t all that surprising since her dad works in the diamond industry. Magali holds a degree in communication sciences and did her internship in Public Relations. After graduating from University she took a jewelry design course at London’s Gemological Institute of America, but it was a vacation in Tel Aviv that did wonders for Magali’s inspiration. While walking past the little souvenir stalls in Neve Tzedek, an idea started to develop: creating unique mix & match jewelry that would not only suit everyone, but would also be affordable for everyone. Back in Antwerp she ordered a whole lot of rope and trinkets and started making bracelets. Why rope? “Rope has unlimited options: colors, textures, etc. It’s a very affordable material for a large audience. Rope is very flexible and manageable. Since I make every bracelet myself , it’s much more interesting time-wise.”

A night out made Magali decide to turn her hobby into an actual jewelry business. “I constantly wear my own bracelets. One night, a girl approached me at a party and asked me where I got them from. This was the push i needed to actually get my bracelets out there.” Magali named her brand “BE by Magali Pinchasi”. “BE stands for Beautiful and Belgian, since all the jewelry is 100% made in Belgium”. She started selling the bracelets online on her website. Magali quickly build a reputation by using social media. Soon bloggers contacted her and not much later Magali scored an interview for Steps City magazine. This interview was proof that her business was getting more and more serious and orders started pouring in. Her collections are now being sold in stores such as Princess Blue (Antwerp) and Blue Rose (Wilrijk). Every bracelet is handmade by Magali herself, which makes every piece even more unique. Customers can also personalize the bracelets if they want to by filling in the request form online.

Magali

Onlangs bijgewerktFor the new collection Magali will use diamonds in her bracelets. “My first motivation is to create, to discover new things. That’s why I work with diamonds, but with every intention to stay affordable. A diamond doesn’t have to be expensive. I don’t want to be a high-class brand. I want to create a more luxurious line within BE that remains affordable for a larger audience. And of course it would also remain as colorful as the other collections.” How about an international career? “I don’t dare to dream of an international business just yet. For now I prefer to keep production in my own hands – literally. But if Colette in Paris would ask me if they can sell my bracelets, i wouldn’t refuse! (laughs)”.

When Magali is not working our creating, she likes to walk around in Antwerp. “Every Saturday afternoon I go to the city, to shop or to walk around and watch people. I think Antwerp is a very cosy and fashionable city with a lot of diversities. There are so many kinds of people, it’s inspiring to just sit down and watch them pass by.” Her affordable mix&match-policy is not limited to her brand. When it comes to her own style Magali likes to combine Belgian brand Essentiel with Zara. “I like everything, as long as it’s colorful.” And what about Tel Aviv? “My grandmother lives in Tel Aviv, I visit her every Summer. I love to walk around Neve Tzedek, have pancakes at Benedict or just enjoy some sun at Golden Beach. Actually, I’m a big fan of all the Tel Aviv classics (smiles). Even though I could never live there, Tel Aviv is important to me. It’s where I found my inspiration.”

BE by Magali Pinchasi can be found at:

  • Princess – Meir 51 – Antwerp
  • Princess Blue – Schrijnwerkersstraat 7 – Antwerp
  • Just Folie – Turnhoutsebaan 186 – Schilde
  • Blue Rose – Jules Moretueslei 402 – Wilrijk
  • Vandenbalck Optics – Bondgenotenlaan 57 – Leuven
  • Zappas – Boornstraat 50 – Bornem
  • and of course online!
Antwerp · Art · Focus on

Focus on: Frederik Schnieders

In the (almost) decade i’ve been residing in Antwerp, it never seized to amaze me how much talent this city holds. And I for one, like young creativity. Especially young creatives who manage to make us stop and gaze at beauty, instead of passing by – “on to the next one” – in this very fast and contemporary art world.

Frederik Schnieders. I haven’t known the guy for long, but he’s an artist. Why? He makes me stop and look, wonder and admire, think and re-think, evaluate and sure as hell smile. “Quand on a que l’amour pour les autres.” When you only have love for others. People who can carry catchy phrases like this are worth to get to know.

Frederik, born in 1977, studied painting at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. From the beginning his primary interest was the human figure. Studied and cultivated through figure drawing, he has now transformed his work into his own appreciation of the female: a young, rock’n roll, independent woman that emphasizes her role as outcast, idol, bad girl or just plain femme fatale. His paintings are set in a world of written words and reflect the impulses of the moment, with reference to all time heroes in music and other art forms. Frederik uses a mix of charcoal, Chinese ink, markers, aqualaque, stickers, paper pieces, spray paint and acrylics as his tools. This gives his work the right edge. Every painting is a discovery of little quotes, poems, thoughts and insights in the artist’s soul.

Take a look:

You can stop and admire Frederik’s work yourself at

Coffee & Vinyl, Volkstraat 45, 2000 ANTWERP

(ongoing exhibition).

Still can’t get enough? (and right you are!) Good news: Frederik recently collected major part of his work in a book (and it sure looks great). For more information on prices and orders: contact us through e-mail.

Also check out Fred’s Blog and his Tumblr page to stay updated!

Focus on

Focus on: Idan Raichel

Israeli “Singer of the world”

A country has its own musical styles, trends and roots. You would think Israel (also known as “Ingathering of the Exiles”) would offer a lot of interesting world music export products as it is a melting pot of cultural diversity – from Ashkenazi Eastern European Jews till Sephardim or Mizrahim from the Maghreb and surroundings. One of the secrets of making successful music is digging deep in your own and your surrounding roots. As much as Israel is a musical country, with a lot of talent and plenty of musicians; unfortunately, too many local artists these days are busy sounding ‘like’ others instead of creating original and authentic music. Only very few Israeli artists have had international careers – no, the Eurovision contest doesn’t count. One brilliant man called Idan Raichel (12/09/1977) has successfully combined all his influences, his talents and his fascinations into something unique and managed to break down all musical boundaries with his musical project: “The Idan Raichel Project”.

I’ve known Idan since 1998 right after his military service in the army’s rock band. He was then active as a counselor at Hadassim (a boarding school for immigrants, mainly from Ethiopia) and a successful keyboardist with Israeli popular singers. In 2002, from his home studio in the basement of his parents house in Kfar Saba near Tel Aviv, his experiments fusing Israeli pop music with Middle Eastern, African, Indian and other global sounds resulted in what would become the biggest-selling record project in Israeli history and propel Idan to a role as a major figure in the international global music scene. The songs are sung by guest singers and by Idan himself. This project has changed the face of Israeli popular music through a message of love & tolerance and original sounds coupled with sophisticated production techniques.

In 2006, after many number-one hits and a spectacular live show throughout the country, the project got signed to a world music label and embarked on an international adventure. Firstly known in circles of Jewish, Ehtiopian and Israeli communities, the Idan Raichel Project now regularly sells out concerts in large performance venues. Wherever they perform, the Idan Raichel Project unifies the audience into a celebration of what is unique about the cultures of the world, as well as that in which we are all alike.

“This one-man Middle East peace accord makes music that is an ambitious celebration of multicultural diversity. The ethnic elements are cleverly rewired with modern grooves to create an ambient journey that thrillingly bridget the traditional and the modern.” – The Times (London, UK)

Idan Raichel will be performing an acoustic set at the Centre Culturel d’Uccle on February 16th at 20h30.
Website: www.idanraichelproject.com/en
Videos: http://youtu.be/kmW2yAYhMmM (“Mim’amakim” meaning “From the depths)
Videos: http://youtu.be/CtpCGfRRToo(“Im telech” meaning “If you go”)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: