Category Archives: Family

Advice

Standard

Small turned 2 a couple of weeks ago. I couldn’t think of anything interesting or poignant to post so I didn’t!

I know a few people having or due babies soon and was thinking about the most useful bit of advice I could give them and what it might be. There’s tonnes of great info about breastfeeding out there on the internet if you’re willing to look for it, so I’m not sure that there’s anything there I could say of much use. There’s also so much conflicting stuff about sleep and all those things and most would hardly peg me as an expert with our sleep situation. So I think my best advice would be:

For every one person that tells you something worked for them there are a) a hundred people who it didn’t work for and b)a hundred other things that person tried that didn’t work.

Why that?

The thing I found hardest when R was little was that everyone had a handy trick up their sleeve for getting a child to eat or sleep or whatever.

And it was always conveyed to us with such authority, that I often tried whatever the method was. Even some of the expensive ones.

And you know what? Nothing worked.

I now know and believe this isn’t because I’m a terrible rubbish parent. It is (that old chestnut) that every child is different.

Whilst trying to impart your wisdom on someone else, it’s hard not be emphatically excited that some magical method of convincing your child to sleep/eat/be independent/ nap in their cot etc really really worked for you. It’s also easy to overlook all those other things you tried and didn’t manage to make work for you (we won’t say “failed at”). It’s also easy to forget that your specific circumstances and your specific child is very different to the next one.

It’s easy to feel, in your new parent, sleep deprived, hormonal state that you are, in fact, the worlds’ worst and most incapable parent. If they managed to make the “Pick Up Put Down” method work for them, why couldn’t you make it work for you? If they managed to achieve a non-fussy eater by practicing baby-led weaning and introducing a new food every 72 hours, why weren’t you capable of doing the same? If leaving their child to scream led to them falling asleep in 30 minutes, why does your child just scream until he vomits over himself? And this can feel really isolating and lonely. If everyone else is having success and you’re not, then it can be really hard to swallow.

So in a way this is advice not only for new parents but for those “old hands” who are trying to help out newbie parents.

In reality that parent that got the “Pick Up Put Down” method to work probably tried a huge number of other techniques (90 Minute Sleep Programme, No Cry Sleep Solution, Pantly Pull off etc) with no success, but invariably they will forget to tell you that.

So if you’re a parent already and have friends having their first baby, think carefully about what you say to them. Be honest, show that you’re human and understand not everyone is the same and pay particular attention to trying to remember how you felt when everyone else seemed to be sailing through parenthood whilst you struggled. Kindness is the key gift we can give new parents at what is likely the most stressful time of their lives!

Advertisements

709 days

Standard

Not long til short stuff is two!

The last few months have heralded a little improvement in sleep (3 wake ups is better than 7!) and more recently a desperate attempt to drop his only nap. A quick google says that by age 2 most children drop their morning nap and by 4 they tend to drop their afternoon one too. But apparently this depends on how much night time sleep they get as they may be getting “enough” at night.

I can’t even remember when the regular morning nap stopped but it was a good while ago. I think we’ve had about 6 days over the last three or so weeks in which there has been no nap. We’ve had to time bed time very carefully and there have been more wake ups on those nights but overall it seems to have coincided with the better general sleep.

Most words are coming out in full sentences (whether we can understand it or not is a different matter entirely) and his patience and ability to sit still to achieve small tasks is growing by the day.

We’ll be due our 2 year health visitor check at some point soon. I’m just hoping that the appointment doesn’t echo the stories I hear about from other women about admonishments for breastfeeding and co-sleeping. Luckily as long as I’m prepared for potential conflict I can handle myself, so we’ll see what happens. The Health Visitor and MidWife team have changed around here recently apparently so I might not see someone I know.

We achieved an even more successful family holiday than the last one- partially due to the above developments but also some good and lucky accomodation choices (enclosed garden!), locality of steam railways and making great use of the lovely Mumsnet friends that I made way back in Jan 2013 to break up the journey and give small stuff some time to play.

I can highly recommend Norfolk with a toddler- it was only part of our trip but lots to do and luckily beautiful weather to do it in.

Review: Riverford Organic Veg Box

Standard
Review: Riverford Organic Veg Box

Time for another review.

Although my small person is pretty fussy with food, it hasn’t stopped us trying to ensure he gets a good variety of healthy, home made meals. Our diet is in no way perfect- neither of us eat enough fruit and veg most days and we both enjoy a drink. We don’t really believe in faddy eating- detoxes, diets, sugar free, “paleo” or “carb free” eating. However we do believe in home made good hearty food. We drink full fat milk, and enjoy cheese and real butter. We eat carbohydrates with most meals and balance that with protein, vegetables and grains. We don’t eat much “processed” food- from jars or packets, and as a consequence happily add sugar and salt to recipes where required. We probably eat “too much” meat, and definitely too much processed meat, though if I were more confident in my cooking I’d cook more fish and more vegetarian dishes.

When we moved in together we decided we needed to at least try some kind of organic veg box. Initially it didn’t work out for us in our last property due to our lifestyle amongst other things but we started back up with Riverford 5 years ago and have been enjoying seasonal treats and cooking challenges ever since.

From Riverford’s website:

The Riverford box scheme began when Guy Watson started delivering vegetables locally to 30 friends in Devon. We now deliver around 47,000 boxes a week to homes around the UK from our regional farms.

Things I like about this kind of vegetable box scheme:

  • It supports small scale local businesses not just the huge supermarket chains
  • Attention is paid to all kinds of ethics across the company from freighting options to packaging to staff and animal welfare
  • Prices are comparable with larger businesses
  • Personal touch of notes from Guy and new recipes every week
  • The challenge of a new vegetable

Riverford offer a huge range of different size and style of vegetable boxes, plus they do fruit boxes, meat, dairy produce, recipe boxes and much more. This means that you can just supplement your usual weekly shop with a box delivered to your door, or if you choose can get the majority of your grocery and some store cupboard essentials all directly from Riverford. Most boxes contain onions, potatoes and carrots (or another root vegetable) but you can also get their “less root veg” box which doesn’t contain the above if you prefer. They also do fruit boxes for workplaces, veg & meat combination boxes or you can just make up your own order. The system remembers you order and places the order each week/fortnight depending on the regularity you’ve selected and takes the payment directly from your account.

We used to get a “Seasons vegbox” but a couple of years ago Riverford changed around their offerings. We now get a “Large Fruit and Veg box” plus 1litre of milk and 6 eggs every fortnight at a cost of £21.95 (£10.96 per week). This is quite comparable to the box we used to get, as most of what you receive from Riverford is seaonal anyway. Most of it is grown on UK farms any anything from abroad is grown in fair trade co-operatives and never air freighted.

Riverford describe our large fruit and veg box as follows:

Eating a healthy, wholesome diet is easy with our large organic fruit and veg box. Packed with 7 different varieties of veg and 3 varieties of fruit, all of our produce is freshly picked and full of seasonal flavour. We only give you what’s ripe and ready for eating in our fields so box contents change throughout the year, giving you enough variety to keep everyone in the family happy. From crisp sugar snap peas to tart, tangy rhubarb, this fruit and vegbox is a winning combination of seasonal fruit and veg at its best.

We don’t use Riverford for all our fruit&veg needs, but for our family of three it builds the basis of our meal planning for about 3/4 of the fortnight before the next box arrives. This means that we’re guided by the items in there but not limited to them, the best of both worlds I say! Either when the box arrives, or before it arrives if I’ve got to do a shop, I take a look online to see what we are getting then purchase what else we need around that.

Our last veg box arrived 8 days ago, and we’ve eaten about 3/4 plus of what’s in the box.

In our veg box last week was:

  • bunched carrots
  • corgettes
  • broad beans
  • potatoes
  • globe artichokes
  • some kind of cabbage
  • complimentary basil leaves
  • mixed lettuce leaves
  • cherry tomatoes
  • bananas
  • nectarines
  • blackcurrants

I thought I’d show you what I’ve done with some of it!

I’ve made a few salads, drizzled in balsamic glaze or with goats cheese and sundried tomatoes.

I’ve drunk tea when working at home or at the weekends and had a cheeky post-workout banana

A make-it-up-as-you-go-along saussage and vegetable stew with potato and carrot mash which was approved of by all the family, including the fussy eater

There have been breakfasts- eggs on top of marmite on toast before a workout or porridge with fruit for long days at work

There was a slow cooker curry into which lots of green things were thrown

And I conquered my nemesis- broad beans by making a bean-puree, which was mixed with a kind of home made pesto using the basil that came in the box too, served with chicken legs on a bed of mixed grains.

And finally I’ve been nibbling these lovely cherry tomatoes like little sweets.

Not bad at all for 8 days of nutrition.

There’s still the globe artichokes to eat- I’ve learnt my lesson with them in terms of which bits you can and can’t eat, and have a wonderful lemon and artichoke pilaf recipe I hope to use again this week. Apart from that there’s a few potatoes and some carrots left, plus a a handful of  blackcurrants which were so wonderfully tangy I could only eat them in small amounts.

Are there negatives?

I think it depends on how adventurous you are. I love to cook and love cooking for my family, and thoroughly enjoy the challenge of looking at the veg box and working out a)what everything actually is (you can check online for anything you’re not sure about) and b)what on earth I’m going to do with it.

Something that’s helped with this enormously is the white board we have up in the dining room where we try to plan and write onto it our meals for most days of the week (alongside working days, childminder pickups, shoppings lists and social activities). Riverford also produce useful recipe cards with every box, they have a great recipe book which I own and they also have a whole page on their website dedicated to recipes.

If you are not adventurous or are very limited in terms of what fruit and veg you like, this might not be for you, however I’d recommend trying it as you might be surprised. There are very few vegetables that we don’t eat and I’ve managed to tackle a few of them- including broad beans (recipes like this Broad Bean Dip) and make something I like. I’ve learnt so much about different seasonal fruit and vegetables- I make a mean celeriac and blue cheese soup, I can make great coleslaw and I know how to tackle the different kinds of green cabbage type things from pak choi to spring greens and spinach.

Some people think this kind of thing is expensive, although Riverford have a great Price Comparison Page showing how their organic fruit and veg measures against most the large UK supermarkets and they tell you their method for working it out too. Having said that one reason we don’t order meat and so on is because (although it is lovely as we shared a large order with a friend before) that does work out quite expensive as far as I can tell.

There are other Veg Boxes avaialable including Abel and Cole and also some more local companies in some areas. Other people have looked at more than one company- Jorg&Olif have a comparison review on their site and good old Mumsnet have a discussion thread (though the first comment already had me remembering why I left such a catty, silly forum). All I can say is that we did have Abel and Cole in our old house and there must be a reason that we switched but I can’t think what it was now!

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.

Development

Standard

Talking is the new favourite thing over here- lots to say all the time. In fact I have little idea what he is saying most of the time, as it’s a constant babble of verbal explosions which continue on with the odd recogniseable word like Car or Cat or Truck in between.

New words are coming thick and fast- this week it’s been “geese” “flower” and “dirty” all of which are being used in the correct context (“car dirty” for example). It’s quote fun. We talk a lot to and with him. We read to him and encourage him to point out the things he recognises in the book, but I’m sure genetics are as much to play. Apparently as a child I was bright and precocious and used to remember books off by heart so that other people thought that I was able to read when actually I was just memorising what I’d been read!

This week he also decided was the week to learn to ride a bike. A friend kindly dropped around a second hand balance bike. It was left in the hallway, and little person climbed right on despite the saddle being about 3 inches too high and tried to ride it!

Adventures

Standard
Adventures

Last week we bravely embarked on our first holiday abroad as a family of three…..

What an adventure! We chose Fuerteventura with the hopes of winter sunshine, reasonable flight time (4 hours?? With an active toddler? ?), good Spanish food and all at a sensible out of season price.

To start with we are all recovering from illnesses (or so we thought) which was less than helpful. I’ve had tonsillitis and laryngitis then small gave me his conjunctivitis. Husband thinks he might have bronchitis with a nasty lingering cough and a pain in his back. Small is snotty and coughing. Still. For more than three weeks we’ve all woken up feeling ill-not a great start!

Early morning get up and easy drive to the airport worked out ok, small just stayed happily asleep in the car seat until we arruived. We weren’t too impressed with the “valet parking” as it was pretty slow and not a drop off outside the terminal as promised but in the short stay car park! Check in and security were a breeze as I had small in the sling, then we settled in for breakfast and baby-wrangling.

The flight was. …okay. Small wore himself out running laps of the airport so he slept for a whopping 90 mins at the start of the flight. The only challenge being not able to put the tray down when my meal arrived, but thankfully the chap next to us went off for a wander when our meals arrived so we could borrow a tray. The last 2 1/2 hours involved walking up and down the aisle getting in people’s way, dancing outside the toilets, watching RaaRaa on the tablet and playing with cars and stickers.

The transfer to our hotel was a bit naff as we sat on a boiling coach on what turned out to be the nicest day of the holiday waiting 45 minutes for another flight to arrive before we could set off. Nice one Thomas Cook!

The hotel was lovely. All inclusive deals are new to me but impressed me with cava for breakfast,  let alone the wonderful range of hot and cold food for every meal. The buffet was ideal for a small who loses interest in food quickly and can only sit in a high chair for about 10-15 minutes before commencing food throwing and shouting. I ate all my favourite things-octopus, calamari,  fish, spanish meat stews,  paella etc and tried local cheeses and their rather moreish mojo verde sauce. Small ate sausages,  pasta,  potatoes and on occasion even some yogurt.

We were in the family area of the hotel (Hotel Suite Atlantis in Corralejo for those interested) which was near the kids pools and play area (though sadly far from the nearest bar). Our room had a gigantic bed which meant the three of us could share easily even with small lying horizontally between our faces with minimum kicking. There was great entertainment for the children,  including a kids disco and at and games during the day. Small was a bit, well, small and impatient for most of it but enjoyed musical bumps once he’d worked it out!

We filled the week with activities in lieu of reasonable weather (I’m being harsh,  if was just poor for this time of year and certainly 15 plus degrees centigrade warmer than the snow at home), including a slightly disappointing boat trip to Lanzerote,  some brilliant bike hire and a wonderful Jeep tour to see the rugged North of the island up close. Though not all ideal,  all were sdoable with a small, wild one and the locals and other tourists alike were friendly and understanding.

The holiday finished in spectacular style with small falling into the fountain at the front of the hotel whilst we waited for our coach to take us back to the airport.

We came home with 93 load of washing to do and all the germs we went with,  and now an extra blocked duct to add to the healthy fun. And sand. Lots of sand.

Would we do it again? Yeeeeeeessss I *think* so. Maybe a little closer to in-season. Maybe a shorter flight but yes.

All we could do was praise small’s behavior whilst we were away but I think that is linked to being a but more relaxed in ourselves which meant more time to spend with him and entertain him!

Manx Milk

Standard

So we’ve been away for Christmas (mastitis all cleared up Thank you) visiting family on the Isle of Man.

image

We even got to see some nice weather

It was our first flight with a very mobile toddler and it was definitely challenging“. In actual fact the flight it’s self turned out to be fine in both directions due to lucky timing, magic milk and probably an element of movement. He fed and slept for the majority of the short flight and was no trouble at all. The airport was a different matter- lucky we took our Little Life backpack (a prettier version of reins) and tag teamed the chasing. Getting through security was fun,  esp as on the way back we were hurrying due to an EasyJet muck up. And toddler set off the alarm at security so had to have cardigan and shoes removed and be scanned again.

By the time we got onto the planes we were sweaty and frazzled and I was on the brink of tears through stress so we were very grateful that he was calm on the flight.

image

Pre take off

We aren’t really strict routine people so hence or baby is not either. However the disruption of travelling and being away for a week really got to him and whilst we were away there were too many 11pm bed times-and not all of them after an accidental late afternoon nap. We have been very tired.

Since returning it’s taken a few days to return to “normal” though tonight we suspect croup. Hence I’m awake and blogging whilst propping up my (now sleeping again) baby and keeping an eye on his breathing.

Isle of Man trip was interesting. We’ve not been since baby D arrived and I know from experience that some attitudes there can be slightly “small town” and behind the times- for example they don’t seem to have disability access laws same as England. However I was really pleased to see a number of eateries sporting “breastfeeding welcome” stickers on their doors- Laxey Diner and the cafe at Tynwald Mills to mention two places. Though I don’t feel it’s necessary as it should be welcome everywhere,  it was a nice touch and hopefully means positive bf experiences for all.

image

Turns out that at Laxey Diner he preferred the chips and we were baby-free during the few hours we visited Tynwald anyway!

Long time

Standard

So its been a blooming long time since I posted. Been busy raising a baby!

Baby is almost 8 months now and it’s not been an easy ride. We are lucky that he is healthy and happy but it looks like we’ve definitely got one of the broken ones that doesn’t sleep.  Which is of course frustrating because we are exhausted all the time. We also get to hear regularly about other local mummies whose babies sleep through so there’s a little resentment and jealousy there too.  On top of that everyone had ideas of what can help but sadly nothing does seem to help this one.

Baby is unable to settle himself. There is some argument about whether self settling actually exists or not or whether it’s something that can be learnt or taught. My theory would be that it does exist but cannot be taught to some babies.  There is one baby at the Wednesday group I go to who falls asleep on the play mat every week in the middle of the hubub. No dummy or comforter. No boob, no mummy cuddle. Just flat out snoozing on the play mat in the middle of the room.

Baby feeds to sleep and can sometimes be persuaded to sleep in daddys arms.  If he is due a nap, the pram or sling will also work for day time naps.

Since Christmas the general sleep pattern has been 90min to 2hr stretches. We had one good phase for about two weeks at the start of April but then teething seemed to turn it back. We saw the doctor in April and she suggested it could be reflux so we tried gaviscon for three weeks but it made no  difference to his sleep.

Since his first tooth came through last month and the associated teething that goes with it, he has become painfully clingy and refuses to sleep in the cot. I don’t know what I can do to persuade him and I get a little more sleep when he comes in with us so I’m rolling with it. It won’t be forever.

Our children’s centre gave us a handout this week of things to do to help your baby to sleep. We already do all the things they suggested! We try!  From a straw poll of my lovely mumsnet friends, it seems his patterns are normal. …. fringe but within the bounds of normal.

Developmentally is so interesting to look at him and his little friends. Baby can sit quite happily (except when he forgets how to and bumps his head). He loves to stand but is on his tippy toes and has no balance. At all. He’s eating solids but is quite difficult and will only eat what he fancies. We give him lots of finger food for some baby led weaning and load spoons for him to feed himself with which is how he prefers things! He has one tooth on the bottom which didn’t give him too much grief coming through thankfully. He’s still uninterested by rolling but I think he could if he tried!

image

He is a wonderful cheeky little chap and keeps me very entertained. It is difficult.  Especially being exhausted from total lack of sleep, and on top of that  I’m booking in my keeping in touch days at work (KIT days) , one down and nine to go. I very paid for then which is ace but a days work on no sleep is challenging.

I’m going to try to keep this more up to date from now on.
image

The clock is ticking and we can’t stop

Standard

I’m totally ready for baby D to drop now!

Everything is squeezed up so high I’ve struggled to eat a full meal and am definitely not managing to get in the calories I should be eating at this stage. I either get indigestion or heartburn/acid reflux. Sometimes all the above if I’m really lucky.

This is making sleeping quite hard at this point- I’m not getting to sleep until well after midnight at the moment which is very unlike me (I’m a bed by 10pm latest kinda girl).

At the other end of the night is my issue with carpal tunnel. When I turn over in the night or go for a drink of water, my hands just don’t work. I have to grip the blanket with my thumb and forefinger and I can’t bend my fingers around the water bottle.

So sleeping doesn’t work too well at the moment.

I’m 36 weeks tomorrow, so I’m sure baby will drop down over the next two weeks or so.

I hope!

We had one more wedding this weekend, and now all the weddings are finished!

Here’s the bump at each of the five weddings!

A&Y, April 2013

N&K, May 2013
(3 parts!)


J&G, June 2013

L&S, Aug 2013

L&A, Aug 2013

I think the moral of that one is that you can’t always see the bump from the front!

Karate

Standard

I’ve been trying to feel baby movements for weeks now. At 13 ish weeks, I felt some really strange movements, like fish in my tummy, but then nothing. Maybe the tiniest bit of something that felt like a bit of wind (not unlikely!!) but really nothing. Then on Monday, something changed. I’ve heard that the position of the placenta can cushion the feelings of movements, so maybe mine was sitting low and front, but moved over the weekend.

On a train journey home from Birmingham on Monday baby started kicking me and hasn’t really stopped since. Husband has been trying to feel them all week but not really been all that sure, but after being very patient on Weds night, he thought he felt something. Thursday night, baby really started going mad- and kicked me so hard I gasped! Got husband to have a feel and he got firmly kicked too!

So we’re trying to work out… is baby going to be:
a)cyclist like mummy and daddy (mamalicious and dadmeister general)

b)runner like aunty S

c)karate expert of ballet dancer like aunty L

?