Pride

Standard
Pride

On Saturday I had the pleasure of attending London Pride. This might seem tangential from the general parenting theme of this blog, but I assure you it’s all linked.

My reason for specifically attending this year was that I was invited by Fujitsu. It’s a bit complicated, but essentially they decided this year to attend Pride, where the theme was “Pride Heroes”. Fujitsu’s reasonably new LGBT group (18 months old) decided to use Alan Turing as their Pride Hero, which made perfect sense with Fujitsus former company’s links to the Bombe machine that Turing created. Alan Turing happens to have been my Great Uncle which is a slightly tenuous connection and is really just genetics rather than anything special that I (or my family) have really done. However it’s a really wonderful family link. Alan’s work (as all work at Bletchly Park) during the war was guarded by the official secrets act, and as a consequence people didn’t really know who he was or what he did. Even in 2009 after John Graham Cummings petitioned the government to pardon Alan for his prosecution for being homosexual, it was reported that there were no living relatives. Actually quite a few of us, but that’s another story. It’s been a strange old few years- to go from a situation where it was thought that he had no living relatives, to the film premiere in 2014 which I believe 26 family members attended, to being invited to Gay Pride.

Whilst I appreciate that some members of the family have their own memories of Alan, and that he was mostly a private man who might have found the fanfare of being labelled a hero and having his face paraded through London, to many people he was a hero- both for his amazing work in mathematics, computing and in biology too but also for being famously gay in the 1940s when it was highly illegal. So I was proud to be asked by Fujitsu to attend the march with them, and did so alongside my second cousin Tom. Alan’s legacy has brought bits of the family closer together- Tom lives in the West Country and is a good few years younger than me, so it was a great opportunity to catch up  as we don’t get to see each other very often.

I arrived about 11:30 at Fujitsu on Baker Street and was welcomed with colour tshirts, friendly faces and wonderful doughnuts- which was a good thing as I had missed lunch and it was a long, hot day! We had some speeches, took some photographs and then headed off to our position in section E. It was a long way back- though we were next to the Android float which was very noisy and lots of fun- it kept us going for the 3 hours we stood in position before we set off.

I met lots of wonderful people both in the parade and in the crowd. The atmosphere was so positive and engaging, and whilst we were marching a number of times we heard chants of “Alan! Alan!” when the crowd saw out placards. It really was quite skin-tingling and overhwelming at times. Afterwards Fujitsu took us to Champagne Charlies for a well earned drink and some nibbles before we had to set off home.

As a claim to fame on top of this, we made it onto BuzzfeedGay Star NewsChannel 4 NewsThe IndependentInternational Business TimesThe MirrorLondon Pride’s official Faecbook pageFujitsu NewsBBC Berkshire Interivew with Sarah WalkerOut in The City magazineCity AM and Days Out In London to name a few media moments!

So why is this relevant to a parenting blog?

I think it’s hugely relevant.It’s about how we see the world and what kind of world we live in. I guess I use the term “world” loosely as there are many places still in which homosexuality is illegal which in the UK just seems so backwards and barbaric. I want my child to grow up in a world in which his gender or sexual preference are not an issue. I’ve mentioned gender at length before when discussing my volunteer work Let Toys Be Toys and I think that a more tolerant society is a very important thing and should not be underestimated. So what if he wears pink or plays with dolls? What’s the “worst” that will happen? I want to encourage him to be a caring, kind and considerate person, regardless of anything else. And playing with dolls or wearing pink won’t make that happen, but I certainly won’t be sending him the message that his choices for play, or clothing are limited based on his sex.

And we’re not just talking really about sexuality, we’re talking about the ability to be different from the perceived “norm” and for it to be ok. For it to be more than ok. I am one of a huge swathe of people that were bullied at school for not being the same as everyone else. And as an adult, I’m proud of the choices that I’ve made and the ability to be myself, but it’s taken a long time to get to this point. Your sexuality isn’t something that you choose, but it is something that you, and others choose to accept, and the more tolerant and understanding we can be of different lifestyles to our own really is key to to where we live being a better and safer place to live.

#nopoo one month on

Standard

It’s been a month since my last post about going #nopoo.

The facebook NoPoo group is brilliant with lots of really helpful group files which explain and link to all the different methods of #nopoo (and #lopoo), trouble shooting, advice and photos.

I decided that the bicarb washes weren’t really working for me, mostly it seems because we are in a hard water area. It was increasing the waxiness in the texture (although it looked ok, it felt yucky) and was drying out the ends even with the vinegar rinse. So after a bit of research and two (homemade) apple sauce masks to reduce the waxiness I tried an egg wash. Oh my word, this was quite something. It didn’t help that our shower hose was on it’s last legs and I knew I had to rinse with cold water. However with the hose falling apart it would only do ice cold water, which gave me brain freeze for about 2 hours after. Despite this, it was amazing. I just mixed two eggs (could have done one) with a little water and applied it to dry hair. I rubbed it into the scalp and massaged it to the ends and left it for about 5 minutes. It was a very messy process! Then I just rinsed it carefully with cold water. I didn’t follow it with a rinse and my hair was beautifully soft for a few days after.

Egg washes aren’t to be used too often as the protein can affect your hair texture, so I’ve not done another since. However, I’d heard the virtues of rye flour being discussed and as it turns out to be readily available in the baking aisle, I thought I’d try it as a wash. It’s best to at least sieve it first as it’s a very “bitty” flour, and even then you need to carefully brush out your hair afterwards as it ends up with lots of flakes in. I might try steeping the flour in a tea strainer or muslin in the future  and just use the “milk” from it as I often wash and then go straight out so it’s hard to sit there and brush the bits out. However it’s a lovely “wash”- leaving my hair feeling very nice. I tend to follow it with a cide vinegar rinse to moisurise. I’m trying to wash with rye flour once a week and then just use a rinse inbetween. This seems to be working as 2 months in my hair is starting to feel wonderful. It still looks a bit greasy on inbetween days, but it’s definitely much better.

I also had a go at “plopping” (ridiculous name) which involves wrapping your hair in a tshirtafter a wash and it helps your natural curl by reducing frizz and lifting at the roots. I’m not sure it worked for me, though if I did it again I’d use some kind of coconut oil or aloe vera to help my hair hold the curl!

All a bit of a fun experiment. It’s interesting how much of life is mind over matter (I’ve noticed this in a few areas recently). Because I’m trialling #nopoo, I don’t mind if my hair looks totally crap. I’ll try to make it look nice but if it doesn’t I’m resigned to it. However, pre #nopoo I would get quite stressed if my hair looked awful! I guess I know I’m doing something nice for my hair, taking away them chemicals and reducing the number of times a week/month I wash it and agitate it, meaning that I’m giving it lots of lovely natural products and giving it a bit of a break.

I guess in the long run, this will ideally be a way of cutting down time spent washing my hair. I’ve got a fun toddler to be hanging around with and I want to enjoy more of his company!

Slingthing Slingswing

Standard
Slingthing Slingswing

Two things

One- I’ve got another sling- I wanted to try a Linen blend! It’s been here a few weeks and it’s lovely. I’ve heard about <a href=”http://www.firespiralslings.co.uk/”>Firespiral</a&gt; cotton being wonderfully soft and no word of a lie, it’s like it’s made of clouds! The linen has surprised me. It started out a little crunchy so I bravely washed the wrap and have been wearing it and braiding it and doughnutting it. Instantly the weave was tighter and less likely to pull (Fispi’s also pull easily) and it’s definitely softening up on the linen side. It’s a size four so I’ve been trying new things with it. In particular I like Double Hammock tied at Shoulder and have been making things up a bit. Sadly it’s too thin really for my sling rings, I need to buy some medium ones.

IMG_1375

Daddy even took it out for a wander in a FWCC TUB (Front Wrap Cross Carry Tied Under Bum) when a certain small person got too tired to walk.

IMG_6667l

One of the things I was looking for in this particular wrap was something with a distinctive flip side which I love for things like shoulder flips on a double rebozo or kangaroo or even just for tying a ruck Tibeten to show off both colours.

IMG_6655

Here it is in all it’s bronze and purple Glory.

Ironed and everything

Ironed and everything

This wrap is the Blooming Babies Irish Babywearing Conference Exclusive. All my wraps have short names (Oki, Raja, Pfau) based on the name of the patter/blend/colourway but I call this one either just Fispi or Irish.

I’ve also been having fun when I can on a Friday morning at <A href=”https://www.facebook.com/slingswingreadingandwokingham”&gt; Sling Swing </a> in Bracknell. It’s held at the same venue as our sling meet by the lovely Jen who guest blogged for the <a href=”https://bracknellslingmeet.wordpress.com/2015/06/04/qa-guest-post-jen/”&gt; Sling Meet/ Library last month </a>.

“Sling Swing is an exciting gentle movement and dance class for mums and dads or carers with their babies and toddlers in soft structured slings and baby carriers or wraps.

Musical styles include pop, hip hop, Charleston, Cha Cha, Salsa, Swing, Disco, Motown, 90s, Musical theatre and much more. Participants are encouraged to wear their little ones in high quality slings and carriers and spares are always available for people wanting to try one out.

Classes are fun, exciting and innovative. Come along and have a boogie!!”

How could I resist that? It’s a fun, informal class with a bit of gentle movement to some funky music. I take small along and he likes to join in the dancing himself for a bit and then eventually wants to come up like the other (mostly smaller) kids there.

slingswing1

When he decided to come up!

slingswing2

Joining in the dancing

National Breastfeeding Week

Standard
National Breastfeeding Week

Chink of light

Yes it’s National Breastfeeding Week, so I thought I’d celebrate by sharing my favourite proper pictures I took of him feeding.

Beads

It’s such a huge and important part of my (our) life and a very unique bond that documenting it is really important. A lot has changed since the first “proper” photo I took of him feeding…….

081

Nothing really more to say here!

Nopoo

Standard

Been meaning to post about this for a while! Need to find a use for my night feeds.

For no real for reason at all (though there are plenty of great reasons to do it), I’ve decided to attempt to go #nopoo I.e shampoo free. Reducing unnatural chemicals which build up the hair causing the overstimulation of oil glands, hence ‘needing’ to wash one’s hair every other day (more if exercising)!

I’ve read a lot about it and there a plethora of information on the web -like most subjects, some more helpful than others.

I’ve gone for the most simple though potentially slow method of bicarb ‘washes’ with Apple cider vinegar ‘conditioner’ to balance the pH. I’m doing this about twice a week at the moment with water washes when needed.

My hair has taken it… OK. It had an identity crisis early on in week 2 when it decided I had huge bouncing curls for one evening. I’ve not been through any awful greasy stage though I’m currently experiencing a waxiness that is likely due to us being in a hard water area. So this evening I made a cooked Apple puree that nopoo-ers call Applesauce which I cling filmed to my head for half an hour before washing out.

My new hair texture means that it takes approximately forever to dry now so waiting to see if my first Apple saucing has worked! In busy trying not to get sucked in to buying a squillion ‘natural’ products to try to find the perfect balance for my hair- much happier with store cupboard contents!

Here is a short photo  journey of the last almost-four-weeks!

image

Stating to look wild in week one

image

Nutty curls that sprang up one evening

image

Week two, bit lank

image

Crazy volume during week two

image

Looking a bit dry

image

After a vinegar ph balance

image

End of week three

image

Today at 25 days in

Let’s see where it goes next!

Cloth Bum

Standard

We have been part time clothbum parents since small was about 3 months old. We knew that we wanted to use loth but also saw the benefits of disposeable nappies, and so were happily using both. Usually cloth for at home during the day and disposeables at night and out of the house. At Christmas we were away and decided not to take the cloth nappies with us. The travelling combined with the small deciding that lying down for a nappy change wasn’t something he was willing to do, meant that cloth- especially the 2 parters we were often using were not currently working for us.

However, recently it was Reuseable Nappy Week and I was inspired to get his bum back in cloth and have another go at it. It helps that we now have more all-in-one nappies (mostly pocket nappies) which are a bit quicker to put on, however we have more leak-free success with the two parters.

The reason we wanted to try cloth was because of the obvious environmental impacts of disposeable nappies. I worked in Recycling for a few years and the amount of waste we produce in the West is really quite frightening. One family’s bin doesn’t feel like a lot, but then you multiply it by the 45,000 households in your town, then think upwards to your region, county, country, etc… it really is huge. NAppies alone- each baby will go through around 4,000 before potty training and they each take 200 years to degrade fully.

The Basel Convention has estimated the amount of hazardous and other waste generated for 2000 and 2001 at 318 and 338 millions tonnes respectively. These figures are based on incomplete reports from the parties to the Convention. Compare this with the almost 4 billion tonnes estimated by the OECD as generated by their 25 member countries in 2001 (Environmental Outlook, OECD) and the problems of calculating a definitive number for global waste generation are obvious.

http://www.grida.no/publications/vg/waste/page/2854.aspx

(Average amount of disposeable nappies used by one child, birth to potty)

Some people like to argue that reuseable/washeable nappies are bad for the environment because of the washing. Like everything it depends on how you approach it. There is an assumption that nappies are washed on high temperatures and then tumbledried, which actually goes against most manufacturers guidelines. Most people I know who use cloth wash on lower temperatures with an extra rinse and then line dry. Although I am doing this I do feel I need to learn how to use my washing machine better!

An updated government report published by the Environment Agency in October 2008 found that reusable nappies can be 40% better for the environment than disposable nappies – but only when parents take sensible steps to reduce the environmental impact of cleaning and drying them.

http://www.which.co.uk/baby-and-child/nursery-and-feeding/guides/disposable-vs-reusable-nappies/environmental-impact-/

We have two main types of cloth nappies- I’ll let BabyCentre do the hard work in describing what they are and how you use them:

Pocket diaper

A pocket diaper consists of a waterproof outer layer and an inner layer of fabric that has a pocket opening. An insert is stuffed into the pocket opening before wearing and then taken out for washing. Pocket diapers’ absorbency can be adjusted by using more or fewer absorbent inserts.

The inner layer of fabric is sometimes made with stay-dry material to keep your baby comfortable. Pocket diapers have elastic around the legs and waist and fasten with snaps or tabs.

An “All in Two” diaper, or AI2

An AI2 diaper consists of an outer waterproof shell (similar to a diaper cover) and an insert that gets put into the shell and lies directly against your baby’s skin. Some inserts attach with snaps or Velcro, and some get tucked under flaps in the cover.

The shell has elastic around the legs and waist and fastens with snaps or tabs. The insert is made of absorbent material. Some inserts are topped with a stay-dry fabric for your baby’s comfort.

All-In-Two Nappy (images thanks to Ecoaction.com.au, words from http://www.babycenter.com/0_cloth-diapers-a-quick-guide-to-your-choices_10320145.bc)

We have joined some clothbum facebook groups and started using the cloth more again. Hardest thing is getting small still for long enough to adjust a cloth nappy to get it right. There are some great youtube videos out there to help so I won’t bang on about it, but they do sit differently to disposeables and it’s worth taking the time to find it out.

Cloth nappies can be a bit scary- some people don’t like the thought of it or don’t know where to start. We got lots of second hand cloth and worked our way from there. For us the best fit is a tots bots or bambino mio pocket nappy with a microfibre insert, possibly a bamboo one too (as these are thin) and then a fleece liner with a flushable paper liner on top to catch any pooh! Very different at 20 months to three months!

We did buy a few cheapy pocket nappies with soft outers and although we love them, the fit isn’t great!

All in all, I’d say to go for it if you’re not sure. I do like cloth even though it takes a slightly different mind set and we’ve also been using them out and about now we’re more confident! Your local council may offer a cheap starter pack or even a cashback incentive. Even though we bought all our nappies second hand, we have recently applied to get cashback from our local council!

Review: Bebe Sachi “hobo” bag

Standard
Review: Bebe Sachi  “hobo” bag

I’ve been looking for a comfy babywearing bag for a while.

Rucksacks kindof work but not really all the time. I do have a cross body style bag  but it’s a bit small for everyday wearing (need to fit a lot in) and it can only be worn on one way and can get a bit  uncomfortable after a while.

It’s been bugging me for a while now so I’m really happy to be able to say that I think I’ve found something.

And it’s been lusted over at sling meet, and I know of at least two more people who have already purchased the bag having seen mine in person!

Normal kit I need to take around with me from spring to Autumn (winter is a whole other story of layers) for him:

  • spare nappy (sometimes cloth which are bulky), wipes and bags
  • snack and water
  • sling (if he’s not in it or I’m not wearing it as a scarf)
  • maybe a toy or two
  • jumper/sunhat/suncream

On top of that I’ll have my classic wallet/phone/keys and if we’re out for longer maybe a few other bits too.

A lot of proper “babywearing” bags are beautiful but a)expensive as they’re usually made from woven wrap fabric and b)pretty small which is no good for the above. So I’ve been searching and this one really fell into my lap.

One of my old slings (mei tai) was made by a brand called Bebe Sachi. They are owned by a Malaysian Social Enterprise whose aims are :

…. to provide an alternative to the forced mass migration of artisan weavers into the cities looking for employment. Buying from us helps us to provide what we are hoping to be sustainable employment for our weavers thus preserving their ancient tradition of hand weaving.

 

A very worthy company who make beautiful hand-loomed wraps.

Bebe Sachi are currently selling this “Hobo Bag” on their Etsy store for just £18.58 (plus shipping). It’s not made from woven fabric- just simple cotton but it really is great. Not only is it huge at 18.5 inches wide and 14.5inches high but it has a tie up strap which ties in a number of ways to make it very versatile.

It has a small loop near the bottom on the outside which you can thread the strap through and tie off as you like to make it into a backpack. You can also tie to adjust the height to make it comfortable if you’re wearing it across your body. Not much to say other than it fits everything in, is really versatile and looks great. I will admit that I’m thinking of dying it, but only because cream & me & a toddler is not a great mix!

AND EVEN BETTER:
£3 of each purchase is going towards the Nepal Earthquake Appeal!

19 months

Standard

19 months probably isn’t a huge milestone but I’m inordinately proud of the small person. The speed at which he learns new things blows my mind. He knows the difference between a goose and a duck (mostly), can copy ‘alpaca’ and ‘llama’, knows what a toucan is and can identify flowers,trees and leaves. He can even do a pretty convincing pigeon ‘co-cooooooo-co’ noise and will attempt to copy 4 or 5 syllable phrases and words.

Mostly he still just wants to say ‘car’.

Over the last few months he’s tried new things like omlette, cheese on toast, cucumber and chicken. He might default to carbs but two days running he’s eaten a whole Apple so he is getting some non milk related vitamins in!

The garden has been mostly baby-safed so he been enjoying it in the nice weather.

image

The sun is shining and parenting feels OK right now :)

Still waking 6 plus times a night to feed, having hilarious tantrums and kicking me in the face whilst feeding but the goods are good right now.