Thursday, 31 May 2012

Exercise with a baby...

Weekend wedding = lots of pictures = "didn't know that bit wobbled" = GET ACTIVE!

Now the diet side of things I don't feel like I have too much control over due the monster breastfeeding sized portioning (ahem... and the endless opportunities to coffee and cake mornings that babies bring!) So what exercise can you do WITH a baby? I stress with for two reasons; 1) I'm not ready to leave her 2) Husband does loooong days so evenings aren't really an option anyway.

Ideas so far...

  • Walking with buggy - good for me, good for her, fresh air and sunshine for both and it's fairly easy to keep her from being burnt with the hood and parasol etc.

  • Walking with baby carrier - little harder work, a little less comfortable in hot weather and slightly harder to keep her out of direct sun BUT means you can be more adventurous with where you go.

  • Zumba - lady in my NCT group found a little local class held in a school hall with a lady doesn't mind me parking the buggy in the corner. Did mean mini A ended up doing the last two numbers with me but worked out great!

  • Buggy bootcamp - yet to try this one but apparently it's a SERIOUS workout... Oooo...
And today's idea... Mum and Baby Yoga! I'm really excited about this, been wanting to get in to Yoga for years and although I did a little whilst I was pregnant it wasn't real Yoga. Plus I think it'll be a lovely bonding thing for us... so off I pop in stretchy clothes and I'll be back in a while!

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Our first trip ala bambino...

Odds are if you are married with a baby you have friends doing much of the same. So off we pop on Friday to Newcastle for a long weekend for a friends wedding and whilst we're there we decided to see some of my family too.

Here we go... travelling with a baby. Did not expect to be nervous about the prospect of a long car journey with a baby, how hard can it be when they're tied down in a car seat? Well after reading about why you shouldn't keep a baby in a car seat for longer than two hours because its crushes their organs and restricts their breathing I was nervous. Asked about it on a baby forum and consensus seemed that that rule was not applying to one offs and people as a whole are pretty laid back about it. But still... envisaging  5 hours of listening to her scream in protest at being trapped in her much hated car seat and all 3 of us fed up due to 25 degree heat wave... and that's best case scenario providing no one murders us all drink driving the wrong way down the A1!

Breathe. It was fine. Easy infact. The heat meant we left the windows open the night which got us all up super early and we got out the door reasonably efficiently. (Though alas sans my makeup bag.) We managed 3 hours of the journey whilst she slept soundly, stopped for a Little Chef and continued on without so much as a whimper from little one!

We arrive at my Auntie Irene's. She THAT member of the family who does all for all. Generous to a fault and simply adores children. She saved me from near malnourishment with weekly Sunday roasts all through university and quite frankly for these and many other efforts to act as a third parent she's my favourite Aunt and I love her dearly. Hence why Euna Irene is Euna Irene. And from this visit  I am so glad we decided to use it. To use someone's name is such a precious gift to give and I'm so happy we gave it to her.

The rest of the weekend? Well thanks in part to fantastic weather and great company is went brilliantly. Euna's sleeping was a little all over the place and I would blame the weather, lack of blackouts, lots of fuss from a lot of friends and family, two late (11pm) nights and a ton of new sights, smells and sounds to take in. But I'm home a day now and I can safely say she's settled back in to our (albeit very loose) routine with ease. Overall I'm really pleased, I went in thinking there was a good chance this would be more tiring and stressful than enjoyable but the friend was a good one and she made it to my big day needed to return the favour. The reality was it was great! Almost easier than being at home with no cooking, cleaning or washing to worry about!

Lessons on taking newborn away:

  1. BABIES HAVE ALOT OF STUFF! We took 3 holdalls, large nappy wet bag, large (supermarket "bag for life" type) bag for nappies, moses basket, buggy, changing bag and some hanging clothes. 
  2. Take blackout blinds - my Auntie Irene has what can only be described as the "anti-curtain" in her front bedroom window. A white sheet that essentially illuminates MORE light around the room and had Miss A up at 4:30 every morning. 
  3. Away with cloth nappies - fine if you have access to a washing machine. if not I think I still would have lasted the four days but it may have been a lot of poo to sit in a car in 25 degree heat for a 5 hour car journey.
  4. Take less clothes next time - plan every bodies outfits day by day. This will take time out of the deciding and reduce unnecessary luggage, though obviously still would've take a few extra vests and grows for poo and puke emergencies.
  5. DO IT! Don't be nervous and (as always) be aware of the guidelines but be flexible with the to whats suiting you at the time.

Saturday, 19 May 2012


Last week I touched a bit on how Mums can compete and how we can be so emotionally attached to our performance as a parent it can leave us feeling vulnerable etc etc...

Well with this somewhere in the back of my babyfied brain I packed myself and little madam off to a good friends baby shower today. Now I have met a few of these girls there before at said friend's hen-do and wedding so was perfectly happy to chat away with a few of them. Anyway due to Euna being with me and the focus of the day being all things baby you can imagine what much of conversation evolved around.

Long story short there was a girl there who had given birth 8 weeks before me... And do you know what? (What Charlie? Pray tell!) She completely LIED about both her birth story! Unbeknownst to said new Mum a mutual friend had told me about her birth (I don't believe she would have imagined it was a secret). Anyway point being she told a complete fabrication! She told me it only took 3 hours and she pushed for 20 minutes... no mention of the additional 24 hours, the 3 visits to hospital where she was sent home, the 2 HOURS pushing and the intervention!

Now she told me all this just after she had asked me about my birth (must write birth story) failed home birth, nearly 30 hours long of established labour, the resort to drugs (which I had hoped I wouldn't need) and  ALL! Do I disclose all because I am happy with my birth story? NO! My birth was faaaar from what I imagined... suffice to say the champagne that we put in the fridge when my contractions first started took 9 weeks to be opened. But I am honest because it's the truth and I see NO benefit from lying about it.

So this played on my mind. At first I was angry. Isn't this kind of thing what leads to making other Mum's feeling insecure and inferior? Where's the"sisterhood" (cringe I know but for want of a better word)? What's the motivation? Especially as how my birth was (as described to her) FAR from "ideal"!

Then I thought how sad. What a cripplingly emotive thing this child birth fiasco is! Not only is it painful and wrought with worry for our unborn babies BUT also we have to worry about getting through it with dignity and grace. We know we will have to tell the tale a MILLION times for the rest of our lives and we want it to be a good one. We want retell how our bodies blossomed and bloomed and thanks to phenomenal self control we bore our children with little more fuss that a few deep breaths. WELL THAT'S JUST NOT REALISTIC FOR US ALL! Desirable? Yes. Always possible? Of course not. But we're only going to feel WORSE if everyone starts lying about it...

Lesson - Be honest! Because we owe it to each other to tell it like it is. Not put pressure on each other regarding things that mostly are out of our control. My name's Charlie, I didn't dilate, I needed an epidural and someone had to turn my baby to get it out. There. :)

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

MY job is harder than YOURS...

I can not ever once remember having a conversation with my husband in which we discussed whose job was the hardest before having a baby. Never once did I say well I have to do planning in the evenings. He never once complained that his commute was longer than mine. We never competed as to who was more tired at the end of the day EVER.

So why oh why are talking like this now? Why does it matter that his job finishes at 5:30pm and mine has no clock off time? Why is he bothered that I get some time to watch tv, write a blog and surf the web when I'm feeding? What difference does it make to either of us how tired the other is? IT DOESN'T! And both of us being an ADULTS we do know this. Yet neither of us can stop making the comments and/or jumping on the defensive when the other makes the comments... why?

I'm posting about it because I KNOW that every couple with children has this conversation. If you say you don't you are lying.

What am I after? What's my motivation? Would I like to be at work and have him stay home? NO WAY. I am 100% confident that I am entirely happy with my decision to be a stay at home Mum. Do I want sympathy? Maybe... who doesn't want acknowledgement for the job they're doing whatever that job is? Do we want it more now our job relates to our children? Is it that whole children = guilt = leaves us feeling vulnerable = we need more reassurance?

In return why is he doing it? Solely response to my comments? Jealous to be missing time with little ones? Complete misconception of what a stay at home parenting role entails?

15 question marks in one post means I am yet to make up my mind, so no lesson learnt here today... just food for thought.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Bumgenius V4.0 Pocket Nappy Review...

Here we go must first nappy review. After doing some reading on some other Mummy blogs I've decided I'm going to try and keep these reviews short and sweet. After trying to find a review of a Charlie Banana nappy a week ago I realise that all people want to know is what is this nappy good for, would you recommend it, pricing (inc where to buy) and any pitfalls.

So we're going to start on a high... BUMGENIUS V4.0. Emphasis on the GENIUS. These are brilliant nappies, fact. Euna is now 9 weeks old, been in cloth for 7 and thus far I am yet find a better nappy. 

Main features constituting such an awesome nappy...
  • Pocket nappy - means it's like a waterproof shell, with fleece inside and has a pouch for stuffing with inserts and boosters depending on your preference and needs. No complicated folding (which translates to Daddy friendly in this house). This nappy comes with two inserts and I am yet to need more than one.
  • Birth to Potty size - they popper down the front and in at the waist to the correct size. Euna was probably 9lb before I put her in this nappy so I can't comment on how it would do a smaller baby but it fits her great. I am yet to have a leak in one of these of the yellow or brown variety and I have had her in these for up to 6 hours, though usually change at least every 3 in the day.
  • Popper close - I chose poppers after reading Aplix fares less well after a period of time and poppers are harder for baby to open once they are able. It does make for a trickier close as unless you want to squish your baby you have to put a finger behind the popper to pop it closed but they work well.  
  • QUALITY - the outer fabric is soft but structured. It just FEELS sturdy and well made. More than any of my other stash (consisting of Fuzzi Buns, Rumparooz, Little Lamb and Blueberry) I really believe this nappy will last her birth to potty and perhaps even subsequent babies. The structure of this nappy also makes me believe what I read about cloth nappies promoting good hip development.
See here modelled by my glamorous assistant is the "Lovelace" print... (Note the edible thighs, like Christmas hams! :D)

And here opened out so you can see the inside and insert in "Mirror" print...

 A very standard price for these is around the £15.99 mark. You can get a slight discount for buying in bulk but it seems very few retailers are interested in allowing them to go much lower than the fixed £15.99. In terms of cloth nappies this price seems middle of the road, a pound or two up from Fuzzi Buns, on par with Tots Bots and Rumparooz and a pound less than Blueberry's funky patterns. I bought mine from Fill Your Pants on account of the price (£15.99), free delivery and comedy name.

Cons? Apart from a little lacking in creative prints (and I only suggest this because I would like to justify buying more but the funky Blueberry and Rumparooz patterns have seduced me away) there are none. It's a great nappy and you NEED one. I would particularly recommend to someone who wants to try out cloth nappies for the first time as I don't really believe you can go wrong.

Side note - if you watch eBay veeeeery carefully bargains can be found on occasion. I am currently awaiting 5 BNWT (brand new with tags), in white, Applix fastening and free delivery for... (drum roll) £36!!! £7.20 each! Winner.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Leaving the baby...

I was surprised to hear yesterday at my weekly NCT coffee afternoon that I am the last Mum (out of seven) to of not left their baby. (This is with the exception of being whisked off in an ambulance when she was ten days old and having to leave her with Daddy for about half an hour... felt like days.)

If you had told me when I was pregnant that I wasn't going to be ready to leave Euna at 9 weeks I would have been surprised. If you had told me that before I got pregnant (that person feels like a different human being) my first thought would probably have been "you mean I STILL won't be back out on the lash by then??!!"

Pre-baby and pre-pregnancy me aside... I am not ready. The girls have been talking about arranging a spa day and night out for a few weeks but the conversation has always been quite abstract in terms of date "WHEN we're ready to leave the babies..." But it seems they're ready. It seems they've all been to the gym, been out for meals and one has even been back to work for two days to cover someone so they started talking about the first week in June for a meal... Well my face must have been a picture because they all turned to realise I was not ready and to be honest this was even news to me. Never EVER thought I'd be that Mum. Kind of assumed I be the "oh you'll babysit? How's NOW for you?" Mum...

So there it is. I don't really have much more to discuss on it because I feel very certain about my non-readiness. I know it will come and iI have no intention of pushing myself out before I am ready, even though when I discussed it with my husband I very much got the sense he's a little impatient for me to leave so we can get a little bit of what our "normality" was back.

As a side note when I was telling the NCT girls that they should go for the meal and I would not be offended (explained the opposite as I would rather they went because if I feel like they're waiting for me I will feel pressured) one girl responded "I'm a bad Mum I leave him to go to the gym all the time". Then this morning I went on to my online birth board forum and asked when everyone on there was first leaving their babies (just to get a sense of the average) three other women jumped on the defensive with "oh well I must be a bad Mum cos I've left my baby..." What? No! There is this general sense when discussing baby things with other Mums that if you say you do something other Mums permanently hear it as "I think Mums that don't do this are horrible parents". I get it off people when I tell them I use cloth nappies or when I said I wanted a home birth. I don't know what I think about it because I KNOW it's just about what an emotive role being a parent is and that every subject relating to it will be a sensitive one. It must be where the Mum playground competitives start... "MY child sleeps for 6 hours at night" turns to "MY child completed grade 67 on the harp" and it all escalates from there... At the end of the day it's a tough job and we all find it hard to conceal our insecurity when someone else's choices could be seen to be making a comment on our own. I guess it's just a good thing to note... good to remember when someone says "have you left your baby with anyone yet?" is not "wow you're a clingy Mum". They're emotive things these little babies and learning to talk about them is a minefield...

Lesson? Leave your baby when YOU are ready to and very little to do with babies has a right or wrong just a right for you.  

Monday, 7 May 2012

Out and about... Framlington Castle...

So after my post about "What do babies want to DO..." I took my own advice and signed husband and I up as English Heritage members. It was a great deal £82 for the two of us for a year but as we signed up to pay for it via Direct Debit (although we paid for it in one lump via Direct Debit not in monthly instalments which I found odd) we got an extra 3 months free. Plus with that we can take in up to six children (under 19) each... although that sounds like a special kind of HELL it's still nice to know we could take our nieces and nephews should the occasion arise.

And for our first outing.... Framlington Castle! About an hour drive from home and looked pretty awesome in the pictures on the website. Unbeknownst to us being a bank holiday they were also holding an event where they were reenacting some siege of something... I forget who and what now (if I am going to go to these historical places it's probably going to be a good tip to spend less time hunched over my camera buttons and more time learning the history). Essentially it meant on top of the castle walls, bizarre house in the middle and surrounding grounds they also had tents demonstrating typical crafts, cooking methods and assorts for the 12th century. It also meant (cringe cringe cringe) there were lots of role players about... which I assume kids would LOVE to get involved with but personally I found it a bit embarrassing to having grown men talk to me in "ye olde" lingo and pretend they don't know why I am in "foreigners clothes" etc (squirm).

So here's an top view of the castle and goings on of the event...
We walked around the top of the castle walls, took some pictures and got a real lung full of fresh air which was a welcome break after what has now been nearly 3 weeks of on-off rain. There were food stalls selling drinks, sandwiches, burgers and (surprisingly) pizzas. Toilet and changing facilities were all fine. Husband even reported the portable loos they got in to take the extra visitors (due to the event) were surprisingly pleasant. It was lovely! Well worth what would have been £13 for two adults (works out we will have to do a minimum of 7 days out like this over 15 months to get our money back... not bad at all in my opinion!) My only criticism would is that the best views of the castle and the surrounding scenery, moat etc were from the castle walls which was definitely NOT a buggy a friendly route and potentially not safe enough to carry baby around either (personally). BUT we're still very excited by the novelty of our Bjorn baby carrier so need little excuse to get this out the car boot...
All in all great bank hols! Highly recommended! Go join the English Hertiage and have some historical family time! :D  

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Cut for cloth clothes...

Say THAT four times fast!

So a couple of days ago I did a little post about cloth nappies and I am yet to start reviewing and writing up about a few of my favourite tried and tested nappies but in the meantime have a look at this... Frugi organic clothing for children and babies. I can not describe just how beautifully soft and well made these items are. Ok they are definitely at the top end of baby clothes prices but for the odd statement piece for babies wardrobe they are so worth it. Especially when you have a look at their sale section! I have just bought two tunic dresses for £8.80 each, BARGAIN!

The best part about Frugi clothes? They are "Cut for Cloth" this means the trousers, leggings, tights and grows are all cut to be a little more roomy around her lovely fluffy cloth covered bottom... LUSH! I am yet to do some real research in to what brands cut for cloth nappies, apparently H&M do too so will have to get spending down there too (all in the name of research you understand). Here she is (a welcome break from pink, pink and more pink) in the Cornflower Blue Baby Lucy Dress and a pair of the Plain Baby Leggings (both in size 0-3 months, Euna is now 10lb 12oz) and I (not biased AT ALL) think she looks beautiful...

Not only does she look beautiful but she feels so comfortable. The garments fit nicely, the fibres are super soft and there are no catchy fussy bits. As much as I want to show her off in pretty things I still think she's too young to be in denim or other heavy fabrics that may be uncomfortable to lie on. That's why Frugi seems to cover both pretty and comfy bases for me. So a winner all round if a little pricey.

Lesson for today... keep an eye on Frugi sale pages!

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Building a sense of community...

Two days ago it was local elections and it's had me thinking about my local community. Until I left work to have Euna life was too busy to consider things on my doorstep. I worked at a school 40 miles away and hubby works a one hour train journey and two tube rides away in the West End of London. We spent our weekends catching up on housework and seeing (established) friends.

But there's something about having a baby and starting a family that makes you explore the people, places and services that make up your local community. Be it that you're reaching out for support/company. Be it that you want to explore the corner of the world that you are bringing child up in. Be it that when you have a baby you shed that slightly feckless and very internally focused attitude of your former single self. Whatever it is. People start really USING their communities when they start families and good for them.

I received a desperately thin copy of the "New Braiswick Park Newsletter" this week. I've seen it before and thought "ah bless". It's written by a local Pastor (need to find out what a pastor really is... what is the difference between a pastor, priest and vicar?) called Mary. It includes information on a couple of local groups, some gripping news on local bus stops and the latest on the community allotment. This particular featured a big front page (there are 4 pages) spread on the new "Community Room" and it's opening event. So I decide I am going to drag husband and daughter down to find out about our newest local facility. There will undoubtedly be free tea, what is there to lose?

So we go. It's nice. The infamous newsletter writing Pastor Mary greets us at the door, hooks us up with free tea and husband and I split. He to the newly re-elected local Lib-Dem counsellor to talk politics husband's a huge politics buff and had convinced himself SOLELY on the counsellor's pic that he's a dick and he can't wait to prove himself right... he doesn't, they talk for ages and husband wishes he'd voted for him. I go to the circle of mum's and try to make friends. There are three 8 month olds and a 5 month old. They seem nice and we exchange the typical "oh look at her hair", "doesn't he look like his Dad" and "how's she sleeping?" mum chat and it's all good.

I leave with the promise I will attend the Tuesday morning coffee group starting this week and an invitation from Pastor Mary to give her ideas of dance/arts classes I could teach. Husband comes out with a lot of local government gossip and news on plans for a local park etc. Brilliant. Glad we did it and so is husband.

So I'm just thinking that it's so often our generation feel like there's no sense of community. I wasn't alive 50 years ago but I assume we have a lot less of a sense of it than back then. We don't really chat over our garden fences anymore. I believe we're less likely to knock on neighbours doors and ask for favours. Why? I'd guess partly because we've convinced ourselves everyone is a potential sex offender or thief at the very least. But also because you get what you put in and we don't put in. Street parties and open houses aren't common place. Of 2200 new homes on our estate today's attendees totted up to less than 20. That's pretty sad.

Today's lesson is to get involved in your local community. I want to make stuff happen in mine, might teach a mum and baby movement class or might offer to lead some messy play. At the risk of sounding grotesquely "right-on"... I want to be part of the solution. Bring back community. Perhaps along with head vintage-style head scarves, bunting and cupcakes we can revive a 1950's sense of community?

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Cloth nappies...

I've been putting writing this post off. Cloth nappies are an obsession that started during my pregnancy and I've now become far too enthused to think about where to start with a blog entry...

So I'll just start with a warning; cloth nappies are addictive. If you start using them you may THINK you're making an excellent economical decision that will save your pennies but the chances are you'll get addicted to all the beautiful prints and spend a fortune. You have been warned.

The facts about cloth nappies (as I see it) and answers to common questions;

  1. Yes you wash them. In the machine. 
  2. You don't soak them in some rancid disinfectant and poo soup. If you're pre-weaning you simply throw the nappies (poo and all) in to a (dry) bucket and toss the lot in the machine every other day. If you're weaned and dealing with actual "turds" you use a paper liner and throw it in the loo. 
  3. It's not that time consuming. Time to put a load on = 1 minute. Time to hang them out = 2 minutes. Time spent online shopping for cute patterns = ENDLESS.
  4. Environmental benefits; saving landfill (7 million disposables are thrown in to landfill everyday, in environmentalist terms that equates to a F&*$ LOAD), disposables take around 500 years to decompose, disposables release methane and other toxic chemicals when they decompose, disposables take 1 cup of crude oil to make = unsustainable and it takes 4.5 trees to make enough nappies for each baby.
  5. Economical benefits; obviously there is a HUGE variation in this depending on what brands of both cloth and disposables you are looking at using, plus how are you washing and drying your cloth, are you buying preloved cloth etc. I found this break down pretty good but the short version is you could be looking at around a £1000-£2000 saving per baby! 
  6. There are different types and this is probably the hardest part to get your head around, so therefore the most alienating for new users.
  7. I don't walk around with a nappy bag that smells like poop... I have a magical thing called a wet bag which is waterproof lined and keeps the smells of my dirty nappies in.
  8. THEY ARE EASY! I was told a lot when pregnant I was "brave" and to be honest I did feel scared of committing to them... but they are easy!
So to get you started on some useful reading check out The Nappy Lady who has break downs of how to use and care for nappies and what all the different types.

A few good places to try nappy shopping are Baby Bots, Fill Your Pants (even if just for the comedy name) and The Clean Green Nappy Machine. In the meantime between now and me writing some reviews of the nappies I am using just take a good look at exactly how cute little Euna's cutie bot is in her fluff...

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

What do babies want to DO...

Rain, rain and more rain reads every UK weather forecaster at the moment. My visions of endless Spring walks and reading in parks are, for the moment, scuppered. So on top of that being reasonably annoying for me, it seems Euna is not one to be kept indoors. We stayed in nearly all weekend which revealed two things... 1. if she doesn't go out in the car or pram she doesn't nap and 2. if she doesn't nap she gets overtired and finds it hard to go down at night. Excellent.

So what do you DO with a baby? Please note I can not afford anymore days at Bluewater or any other shopping centre.

We have all the usual indoor baby entertainment items. We are the proud owners of one Bright Starts vibrating bounce chair...

 A Disney's Baby Einstein Ocean Adventure Gym...

A Tiny Love Super Play Mat...

And of course you know we've been rocking tummy time but what else can you do? Well... I had the misfortune of accompanying my niece and nephews to a local soft play area on Monday and discovered their leaflet tables are a great source of finding things to do. So here's my two favourite rainy day friendly day out ideas that I picked up...

Birch Gallery and Tea Room - I could definitely while away an hour or two here. A pot of tea and a squint at some local artists' works.

Layer Marney Tower - Whilst this would be more fun on a sunny day so you can enjoy the gardens and I am kicking myself for missing feeding the lambs with my sister's kids you could still enjoy a couple of hours seeing the inside of the tower.

A little squint at these on the web brought me to looking on the English Heritage site and there are tons of ideas on their Days Out page and second to that what fantastic value their membership is! It would be £82 for a whole year for hubby and I and Euna would go free... for a years worth of days out and that got to be £82 you'll feel great about given where it's going... Brill!

We will also be looking at swimming as soon as we've got our health check and jabs done on Thursday (tears are imminent). Damn and blast to rumours I heard that we will not be able to take a camera!

Any other ideas? What are you doing to while away these rainy days with your babies?

Lessons learnt - English weather can suck and far too much of what is available locally relies on it NOT raining... humph!


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