Baby’s first shoes, a photo story

So, it’s a big moment in every Mama’s life, the first pair of shoes for your baby. So many things to consider – fit, style, colour, make. So how do you choose? For us it was really important to look after foot health, which is why we went for a barefoot style shoe from Happy Little Soles, a lovely online boutique store which only stocks foot-healthy brands like the ones we chose. Wide fit, lots of toe-room, a great selection of colours and not horrifically gender-segregated. Even better, I found a pair I loved in the sale. She’s been walking for a couple of months now and is finally confident enough on her feet that it was worth finally buying some. She won’t wear them all the time, but she’s already had a bimble round the garden and was thrilled to be able to join her big bro on the baby trampoline.

Not sure what else I can say about shoes without turning into a complete bore, so I put together a little photo essay instead. Enjoy the cute baba feet (sorry there aren’t more of her wearing the shoes. She has her brother’s aversion to staying still) and the shot where she’s taste-testing her new footwear!

 

Just for full disclosure: I haven’t received any kind of payment or reward for endorsing this brand or retailer – just happy with the shoes and the service.

Edited to ad that yes, she does have truly enormous feet for someone who’s still only 10 months. If kids are like puppies then she is destined to be Great Dane sized. Eek.

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The Messy house: A poem

The chilly cup of tea that Mummy didn’t get to drink,
The crusty weaning spoons that never made it to the sink,
The crumbs of mud from welly boots that got walked right off the mat,
The mouse’s gizzard: a present from the cat.

The towering pile of laundry spilling out of every basket
That no-one but Mummy puts away unless she asks it.
The myriad scattered onesomes of tiny baby socks,
The tattered remains of a fought-over giant box.

Beds: unmade
Toys: much-played
Floors: unswept
And Mummy wept.

But what is this house if not to live?
We give them life and give and give:
A home where a family sleeps and plays
And spends the hours of many days
Learning from each other in ways
That never ceases to amaze.

And day is done and nighttime creeps,
And finally, thankfully, every fucker finally sleeps,
You realise the work you’ve done
Is never over: just begun.
But the value’s not in hoovered floors,
Or uncluttered stairs or tidy drawers.
But in the strength of children raised
Of milestones marked and achievements praised.

And the only reward that’s worth a damn
Is to see your son grow to a man.
And watch the life unfold before her
Of your much-beloved daughter.

And this silly rhyme I tried to write,
The whingeing of a mother’s plight,
Turns into something more profound,
As in some chocolate my sorrows drowned.

9 reasons why all mums need a kindle or e-reader

9 reasons why all mums need a Kindle (or other E-reader)

First: a disclaimer. I adore paper books, I do not think they are redundant and they are my go-to gift for adults and children alike. Thank God for my local independent book shop – they rock. However, since I was given an e-reader for Christmas last year I am a total convert from my luddite, paper-book addict self and feel they are an essential piece of kit for all parents. I now need my Kindle and here are my reasons:

1 – backlighting

Oh my Goddess I cannot tell you how much I value this feature on the e-reader I use. It’s a Kindle Paperwhite, in case you were wondering and the backlighting is an essential feature for the mum of small children. I am blessed that The Girl is a fairly decent sleeper (The Boy was awake for hours in the middle of the night) but I still have to settle her at bedtime and don’t want a light on while she feeds to sleep. I also have a husband who doesn’t always want to stay awake reading at the same times as me, plus hideous pregnancy insomnia while I was expecting both kids. Being able to read without a light on is AMAZING. Whilst I still adore paper books, this is the feature I miss the most when trying to read them.

2 – free books

I’m a fast reader. Like really fast. Especially when I spend hours feeding a baby and am not limited by being in a dark room (see above). I can get through a book in a day if the wind is behind me. I also don’t really remember much of what I read afterwards and commonly find myself re-reading books and not realising until more than halfway through that I’ve read it before. The ability to ‘buy’ free books suits my style of readership perfectly.

3 – one-handed

reading and feedingMost of the reading I do is one-handed because I do it whilst doing other things – feeding babies, eating dinner, walking along pushing a buggy etc. The problem with ‘real’ books is holding the pages apart with one hand – not something that’s an issue with an e-reader. The ‘book’ stays open and you can flip the page with your thumb… or your nose if necessary.

Apparently there are other reasons one might find one-handed reading useful, especially when reading bodice-rippers for cheap thrills, but I’m a mum to two under-4s, so reading is the most exciting thing I ever do in bed, other than sleep 😉

4 – lightweight

This goes (eh-hem bad pun alert) hand-in-hand with the one-handed reading. No worries about choosing a particularly hefty book, they all weigh the same (about 200g). I am currently carrying around (in addition to a library-full of chick-lit and tat) the full works of Shakespeare, Dickens, L.M. Alcott and the complete set of Anne of Green Gables.

5 – silent

See item no.1 for the times I actually get to sit and read. I’ve tried reading paper books whilst feeding my baby – nuh-uh. Every time I flip a page she turns her head to look and, well, I’m quite fond of my nipples, you could even say I’m attached to them. And she doesn’t. let. go. when she turns her head. Buh-bye paper books.

6 – discreet

God I read some right crap. Mostly I download free books and they’re mostly of the chick-lit/bodice-ripper variety (if you care to have a peek at the text visible in my feature image shot you might get an idea of how trashy some of the things I read are. His Captive Bride, in case you were wondering.)

Now, I do a fair bit of reading on the school run whilst The Girl naps in the sling and I could do without advertising my un-literary proclivities to the other school-run mums. I also don’t need my son querying me on “why is that lady no wearing no cloves Mummy?” as he did when I took a punt on a library paper-book copy of this type of novel.

Finally, The Man is well known for taking the piss remorselessly. Bad enough he knows I read this kind of literature without giving him further ammunition with some of the titles and cover art.

7 – immediate

For when you run out of reading in the middle of the night and/or need a parenting book on how to deal with your three year old’s aggression ishoos the immediacy of downloading a book is fabulous. No waiting. No postage. Super! Start taming the beast right away!

8 – don’t lose your place…usually

Have you any idea how often my children like to get involved with anything I do? Books are fair game as far as they’re concerned, and the number of times I’ve lost my page or had a page ripped out is absurd considering how rarely I read paper books these days. Now I can always be sure that my book will open on the page I left it… though I do get the occasional flailing hand flipping the page back or forwards whilst feeding.

9 – easy for others to locate

The Boy is often used for fetching/carrying. He doesn’t have many uses, but this is one of them (except when he gets distracted halfway through and disappears for 25 minutes only to reappear wearing a cowboy hat and tutu but missing one sock… but most of the time he succeeds in his task).

However his reading skills are still limited to CVC type words and his own name so sending him for “Mummy’s Kindle” is significantly more successful and less confusing than sending him for “Mummy’s book, the one with the lady with no clothes and the man with a sword, you know, with the word H I S at the beginning…? Not not that one, the man is obviously holding a pitchfork, not a sword. Never mind. I’ll go.”

Call waiting message script for parents

phonephoto.jpg

Bingly beep Bingly beep

“Thank you for calling Mummy and Daddy Ltd. We appreciate your loyal custom, and your cry is important to us.

I’m afraid we are experiencing a high volume of calls at the moment. You are child number 3 in the queue and a representative of Mummy and Daddy Ltd. will be with you shortly.
In the meantime you may wish to visit RaidThePantryWeNoLongerCare.com
or
SodScreenTimeWatchAllTheCbeebiesYouWant.co.uk
where many frequently asked questions can be answered.

 

Thank you for attempting at least 5 seconds of patience before totally losing your shit.

<Peppa Pig hold music>”


Guest post thanks to Rosie Newton, a friend of mine who posted this on her FB page and made me snort with laughter.

 

How to get Lucy the dog toy to work

A couple of my friends have been struggling to get their childrens’ beloved new family pets, Lucy The Dog, to respond to instructions as they’re supposed to. There is nothing worse than having your child going goo-goo over a toy that you’ve given them as a much-wanted present only to find you can’t get the wretched thing to work. Touted as “the sweetest, cutest little dog around. She will respond to your voice commands, get her to sit, bark, dance. You can even ask her for a kiss.” then you kind of expect her to be able to do just this, even if, as in my friend’s case, you have a strong Scottish accent. Luckily, after a bit of experimentation, one of my friends seems to have cracked it and has come up with the following guide:

When she is switched on, press her ear and she will bark twice, say her (new) name.
If she barks twice then say her name again.
If she barks once then she is ready for instruction.

For every instruction her name must be said first followed by one bark then the instruction.
Repeat this every time.
The dog is temperamental.

Oh – and you need total silence in the room.

Total silence? Good thing we didn’t get one of these. I can’t remember the last time I had total silence.

Thanks for the tips Shona

Motherhood moments

I’ve been having a tough time with parenting recently. The Boy’s behaviour has been trying: very aggressive and abrupt and his listening skills are nil. He keeps hurting the baby and it breaks my heart, but the hardest bit of it all is keeping control of myself. I lose my temper and shout and feel ashamed afterwards, but I’ve been working really hard on stopping that; after all, I’m supposed to be the grown up in this situation. Things had just about reached their worst and lowest point – I was crying to the Man on Monday at the thought of being left alone with both of them, when suddenly things started to turn around.

Now, I don’t fool myself, I know we’ll experience some lows again, but while we’re having a reasonably positive time of things, I want to list some of the stuff that makes my heart sing about being a mother, because there are so many moments full of sweetness and it’s not always easy to focus on those when you’re struggling.

  • The ease with which you can make a baby laugh – nibbling or kissing every little bit of them, catching hold of their toes, repeatedly lunging towards them with a silly noise: it’s so uplifting to be able to make someone giggle like that
  • Telling jokes with The Boy – how delightful that he’s finally old enough to understand knock knock jokes, even if the reason he;s laughing is possibly just because the joke has the word ‘poo’ in it. Let’s face it, to a three year old the word ‘poo’ is the joke.

    happy face baby.jpg

    Happy being-sung-to face

  • The look on The Girl’s face when I sing to her – a trusting happiness as she gazes at me that completely takes my breath away.
  • The way that, when The Boy is wretched poorly he turns back into my baby again, snuggling in, having cuddles, wanting me to smooth his hair and hold my cool hand against his hot little forehead in a way that makes my heart ache as I remember how my mother did the same for me and that vivid memory of the feel of her hand on my skin, the sweet powdery smell of her perfume and the plaited gold links of her bracelet gleaming.
  • The Girl is babbling, just nonsense consonants mostly, but every time she wants my attention it’s ‘mumumumum’ until I look at her. I’d forgotten how precious it was to hear those first utterances of your special-to-them name.
  • The Boy offered a piece of his advent calendar chocolate to his sister entirely off his own bat. Why did I not realise that watching the children you love show love to each other was one of the most moving things you can witness?
  • The way a bit of ribbon or a plastic tub can entertain a baby for an absurdly long time and the excitement they can experience doing so. Who knew a pot of Bottom Butter could incite one to bounce up and down on one’s knees and squeak with the thrill of it?
  • How you can send a three year old upstairs to get a pair of socks and half an hour later he still hasn’t returned but you can hear him conducting a complex social interaction between his wooden engines, ‘doing’ all the voices with great enthusiasm.
  • The sheer intoxicating moreishness of their smell when they’re all sleep-drunk and warm. Milky, yeasty, sweet and mine.

Sorry if this post is a bit of a mish-mash, but then I wrote more for me than you. I’d love to know what moments have made your heart melt this week though…?

6 reasons to celebrate breastfeeding

I was offered the opportunity to take part in this blog hop about Christmas and breastfeeding, but I’m not sure what I can say about breastfeeding that is Christmas-relevant. I could state that it’s a gift and a blessing, in this season of blessings and gift-giving, but that would make a mighty short post so I thought I’d take a slightly sideways approach and write about celebrating breastfeeding. So here are all the reasons I can think of to celebrate the wonderful act of breastfeeding – please let me know if I’ve forgotten anything!

1 – free
Babies cost: everybody knows that. That’s why being able to feed them for free is so great, for as long as it lasts. Before you know it they’ll be throwing a shit fit on the floor of Tesco (or the supermarket of your choice) because they want every pot of jam in the confiture aisle and you’ll be fondly remembering the days when their nutrition cost you nothing.

2 – cake
All that money you’ve saved on artificial baby milk? Now you get to spend it on cake and other goodies for you because – ta dah! Making milk burns calories. Alternatively you could do what a very disciplined fellow preschool mum told me she did and go on a diet plan whilst feeding and burn twice the weight, but if you’re like me you’re famished and exhausted and only sugar and caffeine keeps you running, so eat the damn cake and be guilt free.

3 – easy
It’s sterile. It’s the right temperature. It provides the exact amount required (except in those leaky first weeks when you’re boobs are still figuring it out). You make it with no effort (unless you count eating extra cake: see point 2). You can make it when you’re asleep and never have to get out of bed. To lazy mamas like me this has to be the biggest point to celebrate – hurray for extra time in bed!

4 – love
Yes, breastfeeding promotes bonding, you’re holding your baby in your arms, but you know bottle-feeding mamas do that too and I’m sure they’re just as bonded to their babies. What breastmilk provides that is completely unique is the hormonal oomph of oxytocin – a super-rush of liquid love that gives you and your baby a feelgood kick like no other so you can relive the moment you met every time you nurse.

5 – multipurpose
Squirt it in gummy eyes, wipe it on sore bottoms , dab on cuts – milk is seemingly magic and so gentle you can inhale it without damaging the lining of your lungs. Wouldn’t necessarily recommend doing this mind.

6 – perfect
Finally let’s celebrate how this milk is perfectly designed just for your baby – no-one else’s. You make the stem cell loaded, microbiome-rich, probiotic, immuno-boosting milk that your baby needs depending on their exact needs at that exact time. Easily digestible, full of fat, magic milk.


 

The code word for the Celebrating Breastfeeding Christmas Extravaganza is candle. 
With special thanks to our sponsors for providing the amazing prizes: ARDO, LoveyUsh, Milk & Mummy, Lorna Drew, Mummy Makes Milk,Thrupenny Bits, breastvest, Mothers’ Love Cookies and More4Mums.
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Portrait of a stay at home mum

The Man is currently off sick with a chest infection, so he’s cocooned in a duvet on the sofa feeling sorry for himself whilst The Girl, who’s just had a nap, bounces up and down on his lap. How To Train Your Dragon, a family favourite, is playing on the television because it’s filthy weather outisde and we’re all a bit run down. The Boy has taken it into his head to dress up as a knight and is fighting imaginary dragons in our (tiny) sitting room whilst The Girl laughs at the floorshow. I am running in and out to check everybody is OK whilst also making leek and potato soup for lunch from our allotment produce.

This afternoon we need to put the finishing touches to the papier mache dragon head The Boy and I are making for his Halloween costume and I have to construct a tail for The Girl and dragon wings for The Boy.  I also need to get the pizza dough made for dinner and meringe ghosts for the Halloween party tomorrow (I will almost certainly do a tutorial post on this).  I also need to stay on top of the washing up, find somewhere to hang the wet washing so it can dry without getting in anybody’s way (a hard task in our bijou residence) and clear up from all craft activities. I doubt I will get round to the hoovering. This is all before the BIG DRAMA of dinner and bedtime.

What do stay at home mums do all day? I’m not entirely certain because it never feels like anything actually gets done, but my family are healthy, happy and well fed and the kids will have costumes for their party tomorrow. I have even managed to wrangle a blog post out of it, though whether it actually gets posted the day I wrote it is another matter. (The answer to that is a big resounding no. I wrote this over a week ago and am only just editing it now. Oops. Saw that one coming!)

portrait of a stay at home mum

just some of the emotions experienced on a daily – nay – hourly basis…

Does this post sound a little smug? Perhaps it is, but that’s mainly because I feel a constant need to justify my position as a SAHM, even though my baby is only 7 months old and I am actually self-employed as well. Look at me, I exude through every action, I am worthy of respect, I do have value, even though I earn very little money. But who places a value on raising the next generation?

The clothes on the kids go round and round – the art of second-hand parenting!

I was sitting on the floor with my mum, surrounded by bags, boxes and towering piles of childrens’ clothing – boy and girl – when I had to jump up and take a photo. Ever since I first got pregnant with my first child I have been playing this game, where friends give you all the cast-off clothing from their kids and you go through them and get to decide what to keep (most of it) and what to bin (anything very stained) and what to charity shop (colours that don’t suit your kid, weird psychotic rabbit cartoon designs you can’t face looking at etc) and then, when the time comes, you bundle up all your kid’s things and pass them on to a friend with an appropriately aged child. Never, though, has this game seemed quite so absurdly funny as it has these last couple of months.

I have multiple streams of incoming clothing – two friends with boy and girl combos just slightly older than my two, two friends with girls the same age as my boy and boys just slightly younger than my girl, and it’s these last two who have me laughing the hardest. Let me paint you a picture.

One friend, let’s call her Lucy, shows up on my doorstep with four enormous bags. One full of girls’ clothes (age 2-4), one full of girls’ shoes and wellies, two full of baby boy clothes (2 – 4 months). She has a 3 year old girl and my girl has been getting all her old clothes. In return I pass her all The Boy’s old clothes for her baby boy born in May this year.  When he’s finished with those she brings them back to be passed on to my other friend, let’s call her Kate, who has a baby boy born in September.

That’s not the end of it though. Kate has a three year old girl also, so we get all her daughter’s old things for the Girl, too. We also all shared round our maternity clothes as our pregnancies were staggered. Are you following this?  I’m amazed if you are, because it makes my head spin and I’m living it.

So I turned up at Kate’s house triumphantly waving two large bags full of baby boy clothes, full of relief at getting them out of my (tiny) house. She smirks at me and produces a similar sized bag of yet more returned maternity clothes, plus two BOXES of girls’ clothes age 18mo – 3.

So a couple of days ago I decide to go through all these clothes, sorting out what I have, what I’ll keep of The Boy’s for The Girl, what I’ll pass on, what I’ll keep of the new batch of incoming clothes. Here’s a photo of the resultant chaos:

sorting childrens' clothes

You know the really scary thing? That’s not even all the stuff. That’s just what I could fit in the frame! I am not complaining, because in the last 4 years I have had to spend almost no money on children’s clothes, yet both my two are always beautifully dressed, but oh my word – the logistical nightmare of keeping on top of what fits, when, and storing the too-large stuff in a very small house. Well.

If you’re interested I have three super large clothes storage bags and keep everything in those, separated into age groups. These live in top of the wardrobe in The Boys’ room.  I periodically sort through these to make sure I’m only keeping things we will use – if there’re too many things to fit in just those three bags, some of it has to go. It’s the only way to stay on top of things.

I have now identified a boxful of childrens’ clothes, mostly girls’ (as the boys’ stuff is being passed along to friends) that needs a home. I will either give it away, sell it or charity shop it. Part of me hurts at having to let go of the things my babies have worn (I even did a post on the subject) but mostly I am relieved to have the space, both physical and emotional/mental – I‘m done having babies, after all – plus I need to keep paying the clothing karma forward.

Shame my sister isn’t close to having babies yet, I could offload on her! I doubt there’ll be anything left by the time she gets started. Oh well.

What do you do with your old baby things? Is it harder to pass them on if you bought them all new?

Home schooling – only for the very brave…

A friend of mine recently took her five year old son, about to go into year 1, out of school because he was being pushed so hard he was beginning to hate learning.  Encouraged by her own Scandinavian upbringing (which doesn’t put children into formal education until they’re 7) she was more than happy to remove him from his school and try her hand at home schooling him – an idea that I fully endorse, but honestly couldn’t do myself. I swear to God, I don’t know how she does it, especially since she also has a three year old at home to care for.

As I mentioned a while back we have ditched TV almost entirely (we sometimes watch a family film together at the weekend and, very very occasionally, I put a TV programme on when I am about to completely lose my sanity, but that’s less than once a week now <smug>) so on the days The Boy is not at preschool I try to embrace the philosophy of home schooling and do some enriching activities with him.

gingerbread dough

2 batches of scrummy gingerbread biscuits ready to freeze

Today we did yoga together (Cosmic Kids yoga on Youtube, review coming soon) moved on to stage 2 of our papier mache dragon head for Halloween, made the dough for some gingerbread biscuits to go in the freezer (yes, I am thinking ahead to Christmas already. So shoot me) and had a snack. I looked at the clock. Not even 11am yet and the house is a total bombsite. Holy crap – we hadn’t even got to lunchtime, I’d run out of enthusiasm for enriching activities and, oh yes, the baby has just woken up so now I have two of them to entertain. It’s a dreary grey mizzle outside, so hardly enticing for a walk or outdoor activity, especially when we have to walk to Sir’s martial arts lesson later anyway.

papier mache dragon head halloween costume

Amazing what you can do with egg boxes – The dragon head progresses

Seriously P – how the hell are you doing it? I’ve had to sit The Boy down with the CBeebies reading app on my phone so I can write this blog before I lose my mind. I guess feeding the baby, having lunch and making dinner will take up some time, too, but I won’t be engaging with the children whilst I cook and clear up. How do you get any housework done when you don’t have any child-free time during the week? I am in awe. The Girl’s nap times on preschool days are the only reason we can actually see the floor in this house. Not to mention bearing the full burden of your childrens’ education on your own shoulders.

Hat off, missus. You’re a better woman than me.


Would you consider home-schooling? What would persuade you to give it a try? Or perhaps you already are – how do you find it? How do you keep them occupied in meaningful ways? Where do you find your ideas? Please comment and let me know