Friday, 31 August 2012

Taking my own advice... Sleep Deprivation and Acceptance

About six weeks ago I blogged about acceptance. With the logic that so little of what these babies do is to our schedule and all we can really control is how we cope with and feel about it.

At the time baby Euna was in a dream routine and sleeping 7:00pm till 7:00am and my theory on how much happier you can be if you just "accept" the sleepless nights and feeding frustrations was much easier to swallow. I hate 20th July me. Smug *&@$£. Think she knows it all.

Today I am rubbing my eyes after a third night of ALL NIGHT waking and I whilst I recognise 20th July me is right, I felt the need to write to reaffirm my faith in her. After all I can't stop these teeth coming through. There's only so much pain relief the minuscule amount of Calpol that actually makes it down her neck is going to provide. I can't tell her crying won't help but I am sympathising.

So I just need to accept. Accept the fact she still went down like a dream but literally woke the SECOND I got in to bed at 10:30pm. Accept seeing the clock at 11, 12, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6:00am. Accept the husbands snoring every time I slip (briefly and foolishly) back in to bed. Accept the breastfeeding enforced caffeine restrictions the next day.

And most of all, as it's often the hardest part, accept that as soon as you've admitting defeat, got up and drank your first (sleep stopping) coffee THIS...

I wonder how many Mums have spoke these words before "OH! NOW you sleep!"

Lesson: Think whatever you got to think to keep your sense of humour.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Keeping my Nan and Grandad's memory alive...

My Nan and Grandad (on my Mum's side) have been gone over a decade now and every so often it creeps up on me that two of the most important people in my life (Steve and Euna) will never know them.

Background story is they were very active in my own, my sister's and my cousins' childhood. They had very little and lived an exemplary happy life and marriage despite/because of that fact. They were both each others second marriage. My Grandad was a very close friend to my Nan's first husband. He watched him die in World War II in Tunisia and on his own return home his wife had run off with an American. I have no idea of the details after that point but there's a very romantic story of them consoling each other and reminiscing together and growing close as friends and then more in my head...

For me, my mum, my sister, my cousin Mark and my Uncle Jim they're a big deal. For all of us they represent a lot of good times and conjure a lot of memories of "in jokes", games, songs, silly rhymes and sayings. "Old granny's red drawers" and "shove-ditches nest" to name a couple...

Anyway Mum and I made a trip to their grave yesterday to introduce Euna. We were racing a big black cloud all the way there and only got 10-15 minutes to clean up, say a few words, try to figure out the origin of a water logged card and take a picture. Here's the picture...

It was nice. Nice to remember. Nice to say thank you. Nice to spend a moment thinking about people who lived a happy life appreciating the simpler things in life. Humbling. There's nothing like having a healthy baby and starting a family make you appreciate what matters. This stuff matters. Passing that on matters. 

Lesson: Your families past makes who you are and who your children will be. Maybe we spend too much time dwelling on the bad stories? Good to remember the good stuff. The good people. The good values. Keep these wholesome family cultures alive.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Weaning countdown...

I'll be honest. I never intended to be but I am a complete breastfeeding convert. I wasn't anti "breast is best" before I had Euna but I was laid back. I had a very easygoing "if it works out great, if it doesn't I won't punish myself over it" attitude. I don't know where that changed. I don't remember what kept me going through the cracked nipples and rock solid aching boobs. I don't remember consciously saying to myself "I will NOT give up". I just kinda did it.

I give up trying to explain my thoughts and feelings during those very early hormone charged weeks. 

Suffice to say I love breastfeeding. The bond, the closeness, the pride. I love it. Sounds smug, sorry. The thing is I don't think I really believe in the benefits long term. Is Euna now more likely to go to University? Ridiculous, of course not. Long term health benefits? Maybe fractional, but I don't believe they'll be anywhere close to noticeable. It's more I just love it for the now. It feels natural. She does it so beautifully. She looks beautiful doing it. I'm having fluffy feelings just talking about it.

Down side? Well it's making weaning feel like SUCH a bigger step than I anticipated. A wrench. The beginning of the end of our wonderful journey together with breastfeeding. My heart sinks. 

(Side note: I find a new appreciation for the journey a wonderful mummy friend of mine went through with feeding her daughter and when, after she persevered longer than ANYONE halfway sane would have, she went to bottles she was devastated. To her... I get it more now.)

So there's the emotional side and then there's the logistical. I know what I'm doing with breastfeeding. Since it's been established (week 4-ish) there are two modes to feeding; hungry and full. The magical human body took care of everything else for me. Now I need to think about nutrition, balanced diet, choking hazards, food allergies, different foods allowed at different ages, salt/sodium, saturated fat and sugar limits and that's before we ever START thinking about recipes, shopping and cooking. Can I buy an eighth of a mango? Will I be able to think of enough baby friendly meal ideas or will she just end up with carrot sticks for breakfast, lunch and dinner?

Further to this on the logistical side... going out! Is this gone are the days of easy outings? Cue tupperware and having to be more selective with where I eat. Never before has been possible for me to forget her food on account of it being strapped to my chest!

Well, ready or not here it comes. Sitting up... check. Putting things in mouth... check. Grabbing food... check. 6 months old... very nearly almost check. This Sunday's the day, we're going to cook a lovely roast dinner. Just the three of us and she will offered broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. Pics, tears and squeal-ey enthusiastic sounds to follow... 

Monday, 27 August 2012

Change and moving forward and living in the now.

I've always had to have a plan. A tick list. I've always needed to be moving forward. Probably the reason why I never imagined myself as a stay at home mum. Because being a stay at home mum (to me) is all about living in the NOW. You're not given a professional development plan. You're not guaranteed an annual pay rise. You don't even get a review where you're told about your performance and where you can go from here. It's all about THAT day. Soaking it up. Everything you do will need to be done again tomorrow at the latest. Infact it will probably need to be tidied, wiped, fed, cleaned or changed six times before tomorrow. So it's not more of a maintenance role than a development one, if that makes sense? I'm not "going anywhere" doing this. I'm just BEING. 

Hence why I would never have seen being home with a baby as something that would suit me. But despite it making NO sense to my personality or former self in any way, it does. That's not me saying I'm a great parent, this isn't a boast post, it's just me saying I'm happy doing it.

So thinking about it with that perspective its ironic in some way to imagine that whilst I am all about being in the moment and enjoying the now little baby A is just change change change. Everyday there's a new trick, habit or interest. It's incredible. Sometimes you watch them doing something new and they're so blasé with it you can only assume they've been doing it longer than that and that you must of missed it! 

We currently have two big changes on the horizon. 

1. Crawling and/or bum-shuffling. She looks equally as ready to start both. I think my money is on crawling but we shall see.

2. Food. In ten days she will hit the 6 month mark and I think she's ready. Saturday she went to put food in her mouth for the first time and in the last two days she's started chewing EVERYTHING.

Change, change, change. Feels weird. Keep thinking once she can move she will be able to chose where she wants to be and once she can eat I get to know her tastes. I guess that's what growing up is. Getting more and more choices. I'm excited... I can't wait to see what she likes, see what she looks like crawling, play more elaborate games on the floor, take her to soft play and watch her face as she tries all the new foods. But it's like I'd rather have it like a chapter selection on a DVD, take a quick glimpse and then skip back to the beginning and grab a newborn snuggle.


Change is ONLY ok when you want it and it seems to come around quicker when you're happy BEING. I guess change that just happens to you should be embraced as readily as change that you make happen. It's going to happen anyway. But take photos before it happens again too quickly.

Trying to inspire a little crawl...
 Savouring the post feed nap cuddles whilst I can...
 Whilst she's stationary enough just to lay on the floor with me...

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Frittata Recipe

Happy Bank Holidays! We have an NCT BBQ to go to today and everyone is bringing a dish... I have gone for a frittata. I've never cooked frittata but sounded so easy when I was flicking through a few recipes. I use BBC Good Food website for HUNDREDS of free recipes. You can a folder of your favs and it's great. Here's the recipe for my Ricotta, Tomato and Spinach Frittata and here's the finished product...

Looks nice and colourful! Looking forward to the taste test later...

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Work thoughts at bedtime... Warning this may ramble!

We have friends coming over tonight for take away and in preparation I'm getting baby girl to bed early. As usual I've overestimated the time I'm ahead of myself with a sleeping baby in my arms. So I'm just going hold her here a little longer and think...

Work. My first NCT friend goes back to work Tuesday. Amongst my fabulously driven and accomplished NCT ladies I am the only one with no immediate plans to return to work. The topic weighs heavily on our coffee meeting minutes. I can hear myself defending my decision to stay home. I don't think there's any judgement there and overall I am very happy at home for the while.

BUT I like to think of myself as reasonably intelligent and pretty creative. I think that classifies me as someone with something to contribute. The question is WHAT? I have a lot of passions. Dance, drama, writing, teaching, art history, photography... Etc. I know SOME about alot of things. I don't know alot about much though.

So... I was just sat here thinking how being a mum "fits" for me. I love it. I do. I thought I'd be running for the hills by now but I am SHAMEFULLY immersed in my baby bubble. I'm thinking about that "fit". I'm thinking is it realistic to imagine that feeling of "fitting" what you do in a professional role? Is everything I feel as being a mum hormonal or carnal in a "survival of the race" kind of way? Or should I imagine that this feeling should inspire me to find that feeling for a professional role? Is it ridiculously romantic to envisage that could be applied to a JOB? Or (continuing along the shamelessly romantic thread) is that what people find who win Nobel prizes and gold medals and Oscars find?

Silly post really. Just pondering... Work. When my babies run off and leave for school, friends, partners and beyond will I be able to fill that hole? Can anything take up hours in as rewarding a way?

Shit. That's either a terrifying or miserable or exciting thought. Guess it depends how good I'm feeling about my abilities.

Lesson: Nothing conclusive. The topic of work vs home vs mummying will require far more writing, thinking, talking and I am nowhere near motivated enough to start to think about leaving little A.

My girl can sit up!

As can her favourite toy "crunch monkey"...

Recommended read...

I don't want to introduce this or big it up or set the scene in anyway, mainly because I think it doesn't need it and is best read without any preconceptions. But you do NEED to read this. It's potentially the most powerful blog entry I've ever read and deserves air time. So here...

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Celebration Invites!

So we're planning a non-christian-y christening/baby blessing/welcome to the world/naming/baby head wetting/whatever else people call it party! Yey!

We've booked a private room in a local restaurant/pub. Having a buffet, a round of champagne and all our closest friends and family! So excited! Not least by all the new crafting opportunities... the first of which the invitations... (we're going for a "Cute as a button" theme...

Charlie Banana swim nappy...


Simply a boast post that I got a FREEBIE! Wowee! Check it...

With a lush little bag AND a lovely handwritten note all for lil old me. So I await eagerly for our first test drive Tuesday at our swimming lesson... Oooo...


... Well yeah!

This has been on my mind this week. When you have a baby you realise people are of two trains of thought, either it's ALL about how you parent or it's ALL about the baby. No one ever says to you (what I think) the reality is... in that it's a bit of both. It's not nature VERSUS nurture. It's nature AND nurture working together and it's your job as a parent to anticipate through some divine intuition WHAT their nature is and HOW to nurture it. That's why it's a tough job. Because the best intentions will only get you so far some of the time and undoubtedly there are some truly EXCELLENT parents out there who have done all the "right" things and still bad-lucked their way to a tricky situation/child.

Now these two lines of thought. It's probably quite easy to believe that people who got a "good" or "easy" baby think it's all about the parenting and those who got a "fussy" or "difficult" baby conclude it doesn't matter WHAT  you do babies are who they are and trying to intervene is like trying to change the tides. Then I start thinking are the former people just lucky and smug with it or are the latter folk just copping out? I don't know. I think there are people guilty of both out there. Of course there are. If every person is different, then so is every parent. Why are trying to pigeon hole ALL babies? That in itself is a crazy concept surely?

Aaaaanyway... within this I hear parents say, and it's always in the same defensive high pitched tone as if they're replying to someone saying "why did you fuck up so bad?"... "WE DID EXACTLY THE SAME FOR BOTH AND THEY TURNED OUT COMPLETELY DIFFERENT!"

WELL OF COURSE!!! (Puts teacher hat on) I think about education. (I draw a lot of parallels between teaching and parenting, it's probably not as helpful as I think it is but it's the bulk of my experience with young people so it's my go to.) Now if there a set great way to teach then teacher training would be a simple handing out of ONE scheme of work for all children in the world, complete with lesson plans from now until you retire and the assumption that this will work for all. Why don't they do that? Because every child is different and it would be ridiculous to think that you could apply the same learning/teaching methods to all and expect the same results. So why do people assume the differently for parenting?


1. Remember this for Baby A 2. He/she is a different person. Do not be surprised if the same stuff doesn't work.

2. Find a short, witty but polite response to "WE DID EXACTLY THE SAME FOR BOTH AND THEY TURNED OUT COMPLETELY DIFFERENT!" that I can use...

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Babies just want to be involved...

So in the very early weeks of having baby E I found myself scurrying around any and all coffee mummy mornings, baby groups and NCT cake afternoons I could find. The support you find is great, the tips, advice and experiences you hear are useful and for someone like me who misses their university rabble who have since dispersed all over the country it's an awesome way to make friends.

However a couple of months in it started to concern me that I was doing baby E some kind of disservice just dragging her around my newly chocca social calendar! (Thoughts I understand, only a first time mum with enough time and energy to think such a thought, could have.) So I picked some days in my week to stay in and spend one to one time with her. The result? A fussy and irritable baby! How was this? How come my baby is so laid back and contented when we are out but when I dedicate my day to HER she is unsettled and grumpy?

This line of thinking had kind of gone out of my mind since she has become more interactive and I have become busier with general "Mumming". Then I started reading Gill Rapley's "Baby Led Weaning" (fascinating so farm will review when I've finished) and it talks about how much babies love to be involved and apart of EVERYTHING. I suppose there must be some kind of survival method in that in a bond-with-the-herd-for-safety kind of way. But how lovely? Your baby just LOVES to be involved!

As a result baby E is now sitting up the table with me/us for all meals, not because she is weaning yet but because she should be a part of meal times. She is now also being sat on my lap or at the very least being sat up in the buggy when I go for coffee. I get a real kick out of thinking she FEELS part of what  we're doing and where we're going and who we're with. I guess she's learning too with all that observing, mimicking, listening, smelling and touching too. All good baby stuff.


Get your baby involved. Get them up the table, out the pram, on your knee, in the conversation and seeing what you're seeing. They love it! I mean after all babies aren't a different species... they're just wee peeps! :D

Getting involved at breakfast time :D

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Weaning pressure...

So check out my latest stack of reading...

Cue panic, the feeling of being TOTALLY out of my depth, deep sadness at the beginning of the end of breastfeeding threatening to come my way, frustration and most of all complete CLUELESSNESS. When did this happen? When did we get here? What on earth was I doing when everybody else started weaning for to turn around and feel like the literally the LAST person in the world to get on board the weaning train? GAH!

So I'm reading... Big question is Baby Led Weaning or Traditional Weaning? The answer is probably going to be some kind of mixture but there will beno answer until I've done so serious research... Yeurgh. 

5 months and 2 days today... 29 days to go till the 6 month mark and weaning commencement.


1. Weaning is scary.

2. Knowledge is power. (Just unfortunate that I have none thus far).

Swimming lessons...

Somehow one of my oh so savvy NCT ladies managed to wangle half a dozen of us to get a private group swim lesson scheduled at one of our local pools on account of the fact we couldn't find 6 spaces on any one course.

I'll be honest if this hadn't of been organised for me and my FOMO (fear of missing out) hadn't of kicked in I may not have booked baby E and myself in for swimming lessons. Not that I had anything against but I don't think I had a lot of expectations as to how fun a swimming lesson for a 5 (yes 5 OMG) month could be...

Turns out it's GREAT fun! Social, stimulating, lovely bonding opportunity and, most surprisingly, I can actually see where this is going to learning stuff!

So the place... It's at a local First Strokes pool. The pool itself is small which is fine for our purposes, it looks nice and new and up to date with lovely viewing areas which I am looking forward to Daddy A coming along to, changing (a real highlight) is spacious, clean and a secure space to leave your belongings and parking is easy and plentiful. All good stuff.

The lesson... Two in and I can see they follow a structure. It's 30 minutes long. First 10 minutes is songs to which we help the babies to do actions to, I can see this is making the pool a positive place to be where they feel confident. The next ten minutes will be some kind of swimming activity where we are given "woggles" (foam tubes) to help us float so our arms are fee to hold baby and/or we walk and they swim chasing balls. At the end we do one or two UNDERWATER activities where we use a babies natural throat closing reflex (which is activated by blowing in their faces) and they go underwater. In a word... AMAZING! E always comes up looking a little disorientated but kind of excited and surprised at herself but never a peep of a cry!

Price £85 for ten lessons. Essentially £8.50 for half an hour. Probably sounds expensive but from my experience I'm fairly happy to pay it. The facilities are nice and the lessons are high quality. Not to mention there is talk of CERTIFICATES! Eeee!

I need to revisit this with pictures as soon as the husband can make his work from home day coincide with a Tuesday to come take them... But all in all FAB. Not as cheap, versatile or as good for a photo shoot as walking but great.

I have a friend testing out the oh so expensive Water Babies next week so it will be interesting to compare.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

THE best baby activity is...


In my opinion. Baby yoga, Mum and baby yoga, swimming lessons, baby massage, baby groups, baby boogie... etc etc etc They're all GREAT. But the best thing I think there is to do with your baby is WALK. Urban or rural scene it's all good stuff. Noises, sights, open air, smells, the movement, in a buggy, in a carrier it's all good.

Here's this Sunday morning's walk al a my new lens... (so yes this is kind of a boast post too)

Friday, 3 August 2012

On her marks...

In the spirit of the olympics little E is looking ready to get mobile! Today she discovered two things:

1. She can pivot on her tummy.

2. Rolling is not just for facing up or down... she can roll to get places.

Cue internal panic! Wow are we here already? Where did my babe in arms go?

Then screw practical head on... Look around my home... Or as I now see... THE HOUSE OF DOOM!!! We are sooooo not ready for a mobile baby here! I have a very fancy glass vase (wedding gift) well within grasp, a FIRE, a full but rickety wine rack just ripe for pulling over and don't even get me started on my garden patio on which my nephew face planted STONE last week!

So here we go... stair gates, cupboard catches, toilet locks, ornaments up high and never sitting down EVER again. I'll be honest, I'm nervous about this part. I'm nervous about becoming impatient. I'm nervous about not having the energy to PLAY with her. I know I'll take care of her and I know I'll love her, no question. I really don't want to become THAT mum who's too tired doing all the necessary stuff to do all the wonderful stuff.

We'll see. It's a while off and I am doing my usual over-thinking and premature worrying. It's a process. My mum would tell me to cross bridges when I get to them (though she's even more guilty of it than me).

Lesson - babies grow up fast, think of this as the first warning to get as many cuddles in as possible.

Charlie Banana nappy review...

So this review is pretty much entirely superficial because I am so excited about gushing about this nappy I haven't even given it a proper test run! Here goes...

This nappy has EVERYTHING I want. It's a pocket nappy. For those of you who don't know about nappies that means it is basically a waterproof outer with a fleece inner and you "stuff" it with absorbent (normally micro fibre, bamboo if you want something extra absorbent) inserts. very similar to the Bumgenius that I have reviewed previously, only the opening for the pocket is at the front.

The nappy comes with two inserts. A big and small. I will probably use both. Nice detail is that the inserts have a nice Charlie Banana tag on them. Just looks nice.

It's a "one size" nappy supposedly birth to potty. Says from 7lbs though, like a lot of birth to potty nappies I highly doubt this would really fit before 12-14lbs. Unlike a lot of one size nappies this nappy does not popper down the front, it has one "length" so to speak, which actually suits us because Miss A is like her mummy and very long bodied so a high waist is a plus for us.

Best bit? Ohhhhh it is soooooo sooooooft. You will want to rub this nappy on your face. I haven't felt like this since holding a new Little Lamb bamboo... It's a good feeling.

I bought these in "Butterfly" and "Lavender". Both lovely, pretty obvious below which is which.

Price is seriously REASONABLE! I bought from a website that I found through the actual Charlie Banana website Kitty Kins. VERY reasonable at £12.95 which makes it cheaper than Bumgenius and Fuzzi Bunz! Plus Kitty Kins despatched very quickly and for the reasonable delivery charge of £2.95... win win win!

So that's description, type, fit, price, retailer and here's the cute factor...

Well that's every apart from what sensible people want to know... like do they work? Do they wash well? I will be back with actual useful information as soon as we've had a good test drive...

Lesson - I don't do very good reviews and YOU NEED A CHARLIE BANANA NAPPY! ;)

New Macro Lens...

What a clever little girl I have! She made it all the way to the shops and picked out this super duper new lens for me... The Canon 100m... Here's my first little play on it...


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