Saturday, 9 November 2013

On Saturday 9th November

We've spent most of the day driving around & shopping, trying to get sorted for Anna's birthday tomorrow and a decorating project we're starting on Monday. It was a long, boring trip for two preschoolers. Anna only napped for 15 minutes in the car & Isaac got fed-up of behaving himself before we hit Sainsbury's, our last stop.

You're struggling with your behaviour lately. Lots of defiance, huffing & tutting, easily frustrated & prone to major meltdowns. We're not sure if it's your age, all the changes going on around you, the other children at preschool or our recent parenting revisions. Time will tell I guess. In the meantime, we're just aiming for clear, consistent boundaries & consequences.

You're excited about the new baby. You like to feel it kicking and you think it's hilarious to sit 'on' the baby when I lift you.

You are great at sharing with your sister & looking after her. You've started trying to tell her off & fetching her back if she runs away.

You come out with the funniest, sweetest things. Like 'mummy you look very gorgeous today'.

You've learned to use the tv remote control to pause & restart your programmes on the iplayer. Too clever!

You turn two tomorrow. I can't believe how quickly that time has gone. You're so funny and sweet.

You love to sing, even if you can't actually pronounce the words.

You recognise McDonald's & KFC, loud shouts of "nuggets" from the backseat every time we go past. And yes, that word is very clear.

You like Mr Tumble and In The Night Garden. You ask to watch beebies and can turn the tv in our bedroom on without help!

You've just moved into Isaac's room at night. You still sleep really well & the two of you seem to be getting on well so far. You love lying in Isaac's bed and pretending to sleep.

You love to help and bring us things. You try to blow your nose, shame you use an entire packet of wipes to do it!

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Thursday, 24 October 2013


I seem to spend a lot of my time saying "no!" these days.  It comes from having a 3-year-old and nearly 2-year-old in the house.  Some days it seems like all that comes out of my mouth is negative.

"Don't do that!"
"How many times do I have to tell you?"
"What did I just say?!"
"Am I talking to myself?"

That last one is my favourite.  I sound like my mother (sorry Mum!)  It's that old chestnut, all the things you promised you'd never say to your own children because it drove you up the wall when you were young.
When Isaac was a baby, I read something that has stuck with me ever since.  My mum has commented on it a couple of times.  And it really makes a difference to how I feel about my children and about myself.

Catch them doing something good.

It's easy to let them get on with it when they're eating their dinner nicely.  And so easy to get on their case when they're climbing the tv shelf again.  Or brushing their teeth independently, smearing toothpaste all over the bathroom.  Or playing hide & seek under the table instead of eating their dinner.  (All examples just from today.  Just so you know.)

But then I sound like a nag.  And I start to get frustrated with myself and with them.  Why do I have to say the same things over and over?  Why do they seem to do things designed to wind me up?  Why can't I be more gentle and patient with them?
So I make a conscious effort to find them doing something positive.  And then tell them about it.  "You're doing great eating tonight."  "What good sharing you're doing!"  "You're such a great big brother, that was a really kind thing to do."  And after a while, it became a habit.  I think it makes us all feel better.  The more you draw attention to something, the more that's what you see.  So if all I do is comment on the negative, I leave the day with a negative impression of it.  When actually, the day has been average (in most cases) and the children are just that: children.  They don't do it on purpose, they're learning.  They try to please me and to get my attention and if I don't give it to them in positive ways, they'll settle for the negative.  And I feel less like a harpy and more like a mum who enjoys her children.  Good things all round.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

On October 3rd


1. Is loving preschool. So much. But can never remember enough to tell us about it.
2. Is really into dragons, dinosaurs & pirates these days.
3. Throws the most annoying tantrums these days and refuses to do as he's asked. We're using the naughty step technique to great effect.
4. Is getting really good at telling stories, whether it's the dream he just had or a made-up dinosaur adventure.
5. Can think about the future though he's still a bit fuzzy on when things happened in the past.


1. Has the most wonderful hair these days, with proper curls and now it's long enough to tick behind her ears, she can actually see where she's going.
2. Loves her blankie with a never-ending passion. Seriously, it goes everywhere with her.
3. Eats anything & everything that'll sit still long enough.
4. Sings. She does a fantastic Twinkle Twinkle before bed and a brilliant rendition of Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes.
5. Shouts "Dog" loudly every time she sees one. And sometimes when she doesn't. It's confusing.

This one:

1. Is growing nicely.
2. Has developed corners & edges. I can feel actual body parts now instead of just blobs.
3. Has stopped sapping all my energy so I'm actually getting something done for a change.
4. Likes to boogie when I'm resting.
5. Really has to be here early. But not on Christmas Day.

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Wednesday, 25 September 2013

On documenting my pregnancy

I had an Anne Geddes pregnancy journal with each of my first two children.  I haven't filled in all of either of them but it's nice to have some thoughts and memories written down for the future.  And to keep the different pregnancies clear in my mind!  With Isaac, we also took a belly photo every week from about 20 weeks onwards but I still haven't done anything with them yet!  A friend of mine had The Belly Book by Amy Krouse Rosenthal for her pregnancy and it seemed a great choice for my next time round.
There's a page for each week (up to 39 weeks so this baby better not be late!) with a little bit of writing and a space for a belly photo.  So I'm taking photos with my phone (almost every week) and printing them at home to stick right in.  It's fun seeing how my belly shot out so quickly and has kept growing since.
There are also pages for food cravings and aversions, scans, midwife/hospital visits, maternity clothing and lots more.  The book is split in to trimesters and has a longer writing space at the end of each one to record your thoughts and feelings.  And of course, there's a labour and delivery section at the end with space for baby's vital statistics and first photo.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

On going with your first choice

I've not done much scrapbooking in the last few months.  There's currently a six week gap in my Project Life album with a couple of missing weeks since.  And I hadn't made a 12x12 page in ages until a couple of weeks ago.  It felt really awkward getting back into things, like my stash just wouldn't go together in my head or on the page.  I made a half-finished page, which is still waiting for a title, journalling and embellishment.  The second page, I used a sketch having watched some scrapbooking videos for ideas.  It helped to have some recent photos with a story that I love to tell.
I had some time to spare and a little bit of new stash that arrived this week so I decided to just go with it and not overanalyse my decisions.  I chose some photos from Anna's first birthday that would go nicely with the Hello Again collection pack from Carta Bella.  And I tried to go with my first decisions; if I found something that looked good, I didn't keep looking, I just used that.  Even if there might have been a 'better' choice hiding in there somewhere.
I enjoyed the process actually and it definitely sped things up.  My biggest problem is letting go of my perfectionism and making something that's good enough.
 I added some Studio Calico wood veneer hearts, flowers and enamel dots from my stash & freebie ribbons from A Trip Down Memory Lane when I bought the collection pack.  The centres of the flowers did give me a little trouble - I had a grey enamel dot in the middle of the pale blue flower but it really didn't look right.  The only navy button in my jar had a design on the front so I turned it over and added some twine to make it work.
The title is some really old Sassafrass letters and some newer October Afternoon little tiles.  I put them a bit higher up initially but changed my mind when I couldn't think of anything to fit the gap next to the bigger letters.  So I added another piece of paper and put the OA stickers on top.
The other thing I didn't do was try to save things for another page, like rationing!  I love the stickers in the collection pack and they really fit the sentiment of the page.  Better to have things on a page where you can see them than in a bag, under the desk!  And I think it turned out well for a quick and easy page.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

On keeping it real

***This is one in a series of posts about our switch from disposables to cloth nappies.  You can read the others here***

So we've talked about the rationale and we've talked about the cuteness, here's the real dirt; our experience over the last month or so.

The biggest differences I've noticed are an increase in the number of washloads I do each week and a decrease in the amount of rubbish accumulating the bin in the nursery.

I'm washing nappies every other day, mostly in the evenings.  Everything goes in together for a cold rinse and then I separate the load into two parts.  I wash nappies, boosters and liners at 60 deg and wraps & wet bags at 40 deg (I'm not convinced the higher temperature is good for them and they don't need as much cleaning as the nappies).  Initially I was washing everything at 40 deg but Anna started to get a bit sore & smelly so I upped the temperature and things have been fine since.  Usually everything gets dried on an airer in our kitchen but a couple of times, I've timed things wrong and had to tumble-dry things to have them ready in time. (I'm not using that much more detergent because each load uses less than half the normal amount for a wash.  I have bought some colour catcher sheets so I can wash everything together.)
I haven't noticed any difference in the condition of Anna's skin either from closer contact with detergent-washed fabrics or urine.  Her skin is slightly damp in the mornings but otherwise, pretty much the same as with disposables.  I think the fleece liners I'm using are responsible for that.  The other little trick is putting the most absorbant booster furthest away from the skin to wick the moisture outwards.

I've had a couple of small leaks, around the legs, and one major blow-out.  I guess when a cloth nappy goes, it really goes!  To be honest, I did exactly the same with a disposable the week before during our weekly supermarket shop.  And I knew I should have changed her before I put her in the car to go home!
You do need to be reasonably organised to use cloth nappies economically; washing every 2 days reduces the number of nappies you need to buy and it can be tricky to pick up extras or replacements quickly given that you can't pick them up in many bricks & mortar stores.  (That said, larger Boots stores have recently starting stocking some Tots Bots nappies and accessories at reasonable prices.)

We're having a few problems getting trousers that will fit over her bum.  Frugi make "cut for cloth" children's clothing but I haven't tried their range yet.  Anna's just going up a clothing size so at the moment, we're ok and leggings & tights have a lot more stretch to them.

And the last problem, is not confined to cloth nappies but was a real nightmare for about 2 weeks.  Anna has learned to take off her nappy.  She can do with with disposables too but she really likes the pop when she pulls the cloth ones open.  Every evening, after we put her to bed, she pulls the whole lot off and leaves it in a heap on the mattress.  We tried everything we could think of; explaining, cross words, smacking, pajamas, Isaac's pants over the top.... And someone very wise suggested back-to-front babygros!  Which is working (so far)!

Sunday, 15 September 2013

On the vast world of cute new things to buy

***This is one in a series of posts about our switch from disposables to cloth nappies.  You can read the others here***

Some people collect cloth nappies.  I can understand it, there's an awful lot of cute out there.  I remarked to Andy that I didn't need an expensive, space-using hobby and had to correct myself - I don't need another expensive space-using hobby.  That's the premise that I've used to decide what to buy for our cloth bum adventure.  We currently have enough of everything, as long as I'm organised with my washing & drying and it's all pretty darn cute!
I used the Nappy Lady's advice and bought one of most of the things she suggested, to see what I liked.  There are more cloth nappies available on the high street now, but my scrapbooking experience tells me that in niche markets, there's much more variety and quality to be found online.  I ended up sending some things back because either I didn't like them or they didn't quite suit our situation.  And that's my second rule of cloth-nappying; get what works for you and what you like.  A couple of friends have offered me their secondhand nappy systems and I've managed to be a brave girl and turn them all down.  (And you know what, we're just as good friends now as we were before.... Odd that.)

I tried nappies from Blueberry, Tots Bots and Little Lamb & wraps from Blueberry and Motherease.  I bought some basic bamboo boosters and fleece liners, both of which I love.  I bought a trial pack of disposable liners and then picked one of the three I liked to try in a bigger pack.  I had great fun trying the different styles and settling on what I liked best.  (I did try to involve Andy in my decisions but, while he's completely supportive, he really isn't excited about trying cloth nappies.)
So now we have a two-part system for night-times; Tots Bots Bamboozle Stretch nappies (bamboo - lovely and absorbant) with Blueberry wraps (I like these for their patterns and their size, they're a lovely fit on my tall Anna); and a selection of all-in-ones (AIOs) for daytime use.  All the nappies I've bought are birth-to-potty, or one-size.  This means that they're adjustable to fit from birth to... well, potty-training.  In theory, these nappies will do for Anna now and the baby when it arrives in the new year.  Two part nappies are very similar to the old-style folded terry cloth nappies and plastic pants that my mum used when I was small.  You can buy flat nappies but I've opted for shaped nappies with Aplix (Velcro) fastenings for convenience.  Instead of those nasty plastic pants, you can now buy polyurethane laminate (PUL) wraps, which either Velcro or popper up around the absorbent nappy.  AIOs are much more like disposables, consisting of a shaped nappy with attached absorbent bits covered with PUL for waterproofing.  Some AIOs are also pocket nappies, i.e. they have a pocket that can be stuffed with boosters to improve their absorbency.
Our daytime nappies are a mix of Blueberry AIOs (again, a lovely fit for Anna with some really cute patterns) and Bumgenius Freetimes (these are slightly different, the blue one in the picture, they have their boosters attached at front and back.  I chose these to make things as simple as possible for our childminder or anyone else who might be looking after our children).  I also have a Tots Bots Easyfit v3, which is lovely but a little too short for Anna (I'm planning to buy some more of these to use for the baby) and a Bumgenius v4 (another pocket nappy, lovely but the fit of the Blueberrys was better).  I use Little Lamb bamboo boosters and cheap plain fleece liners with some disposable liners for nappies I think are likely to end up pooed in!
At the moment, I have 12 daytime nappies and 5 night-time nappies, with 3 wraps.  This allows me to wash every 2 days and line-dry my nappies without worrying about running out.  I could manage with fewer, but this was the best balance between economy and stress!  I also have more boosters and liners than I have nappies, mostly because it was more economical to buy them in packs of five or ten.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

On embarking on a fluff bum adventure

***This is one in a series of posts about our switch from disposables to cloth nappies.  You can read the others here***

I considered using 'real' nappies when we had Isaac & decided it was too much, too soon.  I decided to concentrate on establishing breast-feeding and learning to care for a baby first and then think about adding in reusable nappies.  So, unsurprisingly, it never really happened.  I thought about cloth nappies again when I was pregnant with Anna but decided that it wouldn't be financially worthwhile for just one baby.  We loved Pampers but switched to Asda's Little Angels nappies after we had Anna.  Having two children in nappies was much more expensive and produced a heck of a lot of waste!
So when I fell pregnant this time, knowing we're likely to have another baby after this one, I decided that now was the time to try cloth.  It occurred to me that using cloth nappies for the first time on a todddler, with predictable toilet habits, would be much easier than trying to cope with adjusting to three children and a new system of nappying all at once.  Helpfully, I had a friend also trying cloth nappies for the first time and her instagram feed inspired me to have a go.  It's amazing how many secret cloth users come out of the woodwork when you start to talk about making the switch.
The world of cloth nappies is immmense.  There are loads of different companies out there, all producing slightly different products and systems.  Thankfully, there are also some really good resources for people considering what nappies would be best for them.  I personally used The Nappy Lady, first for advice and then for pretty much all of my purchases.  Their small team can provide an individual recommendation based on some reasonable detailed questions and their prices are competitive with free delivery over £15.  Friends also recommended BabyKind who loan nappy trial kits for really reasonable prices.  Both these sites have great advice on what's out there and how to make best use of it.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

On cravings and aversions

In each of my three pregnancies, so far, I've completely lost interest in coffee and alcohol for the first few months at least. I like to get to work 10 minutes early to make sure I get my coffee in before handover starts. I love to share an instant latte over a chat with friends. A caramel cappuccino is a real treat when we're out & about. I've even tried out different decaf instants to see what l'd like best during this pregnancy.

But sadly, this time round, I'm 5 months pregnant and still completely uninterested in a cup of my favourite coffees. The smell doesn't make me nauseated anymore, though it did in the beginning. I'm just not bothered.

As for cravings, I've never been troubled by anything particularly weird but I have been desperate for fruit & veg. With Isaac it was peppers. With Anna, nectarines & apples. This baby seems to like clementines. And salad. I can't get enough.

And I'm drinking water like a... fish? Seriously, at work, where we have chilled filtered water coolers on each ward, I'll drink 2 litres in a shift. Even on a night shift, when I'm notoriously bad at remembering to drink enough. The only problem is making sure I get enough at home.

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Monday, 15 July 2013

On the stovetop*

I love the smell of risotto cooking on the hob. First it's butter melting, then garlic & onions, filling the house with their mouth-watering aromas. Splash in some wine, only the good stuff, something worth drinking with the meal, and the snapping, hissing as it hits the hot pan causes heady vapours to rise.
The next part, the slow part, the therapeutic part. It all melds together; butter, onions, wine & stock. Good food that takes time and patience. A little more stock, stir the pot. Turn the heat down, too much bubbling. Turn the heat up, we do want some bubbles after all! (I'm by no means an expert).
Then, at last, cheese and more butter, meltingly good. I didn't say it was healthy! But maybe it's good for you all the same.

I've missed my cooking these last couple of months. My work schedule has been hectic, nothing new there. But we've had an added complication:
Thankfully the "morning" sickness seems to be dying down so there might be a bit more cooking and maybe some more posting coming up. You never know!
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Sunday, 23 June 2013

On silent Sunday

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Wednesday, 17 April 2013

On my desk

***This post might strike the perfect balance for my blog - it's about a scrapbook page about a mummy story.  So I hope it appeals to the mummies, the scrappers and my family, who are only really interested in my children these days! (I'm completely joking, they're a little bit interested in Andy as well!)***
I've had this page on my desk for a couple of months now.  I pulled the photo out to go with some bright and cheerful MME My Girl papers - they pull out the colours of Anna's dress beautifully.  I was in the first flush of love with my new corner rounder, can you tell?  It's a simple design, just the photo and 2 blocks of patterned paper on a kraft background.  It took ages to get the title just right - 'view' is some recent AC thickers (Boardwalk) and 'my' are some really old DCWV rub-ons from my stash.  And then it sat there, waiting for the heartfelt journalling.  Because you can't write heartfelt journalling while you're watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer or listening to Paperclipping Roundtable podcasts.  A little glimpse into my scrapbooking process there!  But the story isn't fully told by just the photo.  And it needs to get into a book before it gets damaged (little feet have already left some crinkles!).  So here goes;

We're sitting on the leather sofa in Mum & Dad's sunroom, midway through a visit for my birthday.  It's you and me, baby.  Our time.  Our quiet space in the midst of family chaos.  Love and laughter, food and friendship, play and prayers.  This is my space, my time, my view.  No one else gets this time with you.  No one else nourishes you like I can, in these small, quiet moments. This is mine.  A perfect reflection of the side of you no one else sees.  Our shared peace, just to be together.  Even when our breast-feeding adventure ends, we'll still have this.  Touch, hold, quiet.  You can be yourself and I'll be me.  And we'll be together, just us.  And I will love you.  For who you are, not who I want you to be.  Forever.  And you can always come back here.  When the world leaves you bruised and broken, I will be here.  In our quiet space.  Where you are you and I am me and that is enough.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Silent Sunday

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Friday, 22 February 2013

On some very old robot paper

I dug out some old Cosmo Cricket papers earlier this month, trying to use up some old stash before buying some new!
Documenting Andy's Lego creations - I'm pretty sure the toys are supposed to be for Isaac but Andy has great fun building things with and for him.  Mostly Isaac asks for fire stations, hence the slides and the big doors.  The best one yet was a mobile fire station on the back of a fire engine.  Andy clearly has too much free time!!
Isaac loves a soft-boiled egg!  I've always called them dippy eggs but since he has to bang the tops with his spoon, they've become bang-bang eggs in our house.  This 4 squares style of page comes together really quickly, especially if you use an interesting patterned paper in the blank squares.  And you can embellish it as much or as little as you like.
This is what happens when a boy who loves clips and straps meets a girl who loves sitting pn things.  I will admit that I secured the booster seat to the stairgate, but mostly because Isaac was already trying to strap Anna into it and I was worried she'd fall off the stairs with it on top of her.  I love her expression in these photos!
These photos were taken in 2010 at a friend's house.  Isaac was really interested in the bouncer, which moved when he pressed on it, and the toys decorating the tray.  I have another shot with both boys looking straight at the camera - so cute!  This page used up lots of odds and ends of paper, in some strange shapes.  I just arranged them so that any gaps were covered up and you'd never know that the blue microchip paper doesn't go all the way under the photos!

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

On a little bit of mummy-guilt

Last November, we were getting in the car to come home from our Thursday morning toddler group when I shut Isaac's hand in the car door.  There was a split second of silence and stillness as we both realised what I'd just done before I wrenched it open again and he began to wail.  He'd put his hand between the front and rear doors as I was putting Anna in her seat and as I'd slammed the rear door shut, it had trapped his fingers in the small gap.

I've never heard him cry so much or so long.  We sat for a second on the pavement beside the car, just having a cuddle.  But his hand was dirty, the wound was bleeding and starting to swell and I couldn't see how badly he was injured.  I ended up popping him into his seat and driving the 200m down the road to go back into toddler group.  I left Anna in the car (she's so amiable!) and dashed in to wash his hand up with cool, clean water.  He was still crying at this point.
He'd cut one finger quite badly and the two around it were also swollen and bruised.  I couldn't make a decision about how bad it was or whether he'd broken anything.  I just couldn't do it.  I worried that I was over-reacting but we had a 40 minute drive ahead of us before I could give him any pain relief and the children's A&E department was a 2 minute walk away.  But on the other hand, he was moving his fingers, albeit reluctantly.  I chatted it over with another parent (who happens to be a GP) and decided it was better to get it checked out now than get all the way home and have to come back again.

So I bundled them both into the buggy and walked down to the hospital.  The receptionist took our details and asked how it had happened.  When I explained, she smiled sympathetically and asked if I was ok.  We were called into see the triage nurse almost immediately.  She gave Isaac a good dose of paracetamol and ibuprofen and had a quick look at his hand.  Then we went back into the waiting room to wait for the doctor.  It was obviously a busy day, with lots of families coming into the department while we were there and frequent calls over the tannoy for people to go here or there.  There wasn't much movement out of the waiting area though, most people came in and were just sitting waiting to be called.  Over the time that we were there, Isaac perked up a bit and started using his hand more and more.  He also found a little playmate to build towers with.  By the end, he was playing almost normally and only seemed to remember his hand was hurt from time to time.
We waited a couple of hours in total; it was a drag to be there after toddler group, when we should have been at home eating lunch and napping.  There were plenty of toys for the children to play with and clean, accessible toilets with baby-changing facilities.  The only real problem was that I hadn't brought much food - I had a couple of oaty bars that the children shared.  When they started getting twitchy, I went to the reception desk to ask if I had time to get some food from the cafe before we saw the doctor.  A nurse overheard me asking and went to check their computer system to see how long we had to wait.  She said that we were next in the queue and apologised for the delay.  Shortly afterwards, a doctor came out and called three children at once.  We went into the examination area and she popped Isaac up on a trolley to examine him.  She was friendly and kind and quickly told us that he was fine, he hadn't broken anything and to leave the cut uncovered.  Truth be told, I felt like a bit of an idiot by then - it was the pain relief that made the big difference.  And time for the swelling to subside.
I had an appointment for Anna's one year check-up with our health visitor that afternoon.  I had to ring her from A&E to move it back a bit.  Thankfully, she's great and completely understood when the children turned up with chicken nugget Happy Meals.  So it was a busy old day!  Isaac thought the whole experience was great fun, after his hand started to feel better, obviously!  He had regular paracetamol for a couple of days and it's healed nicely.  Of course for the next month, he told anyone who'd listen that he had a poorly hand and that Mummy did it!