Tag Archives: parenting

Advice

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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!

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Review: Riverford Organic Veg Box

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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

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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.

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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.

More thoughts on feeding a toddler

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I have another urge to write something about what I’ve learnt about breastfeeding a toddler.

In a way I feel like I shouldn’t have to write this yet somehow it needs to be said.  I’m learning slowly how to communicate the way I feel in a positive way rather than being typically British and apologetic. I am now trying to ensure that I always say “R is breastfed” rather than the usual “R is still breastfed”. Don’t forget that the WHO recommend breastfeeding to two and beyond so I’m not some crazy boobmatyrhippy I’m just following World Health guidelines.

I’m lucky that both my mother and mother in law breastfed, although in a different day and age and with very different guidelines and advice. This means that straight off no one in my immediate family found  “natural term” breastfeeding odd or gave me a hard time about it. That’s another phrase-refusing to say “extended”breastfeeding any more to mean feeding past six months,  but to say “natural term” to reflect the nature of feeding a child until an extend nursing strike or self-initiated weaning.

It would be a lie to say that I don’t care what other people think or what they think of me. Obviously I care little about what strangers think of me as their opinion is irrelevant whilst it matters more what my friends and family think.  There is a huge disappointment when I hear phrases from friends and acquaintances like “I’m all for breastfeeding but. ..” which is the breastfeeding-in-public version of “I’m not a racist but”. Whatever is going to come after that “but” is almost certainly going to be misinformed, incorrect and offensive.

  I talk passionately about breastfeeding because I think it’s important that we change the way our society  views it. I’m not saying that everyone should breastfeed no matter what but just that we accept it as a normal part of every day public life.  This in turn will improve rates of breastfeeding as it becomes a more normalised and publically discussed activity. It will make it more accessible to more people, giving women the choice and the power back in the relationship rather than giving over to the misinformation rife when women are having a physical or emotional wobble about breastfeeding

So whilst I  “don’t care” what strangers think of me breastfeeding a toddler in public (probably not discreetly as he won’t stay still for 5 seconds), I do care about why people would find this entirely natural act offensive. I worry about the state of the country I live in where people think that feeding a baby from the breast is disgusting or wrong. I want to change the way people feel about it and the way they view it.

There are (to my honest knowledge) many people who think that women that breastfed past a certain age (usually a number picked out of the air) are “only doing it for themselves”. If you’ve ever watched a toddler breastfeed you’d have something else to say. With blocked ducts and mastitis,  nipple and skin pinching, Gymnastics, teeth etc it’s not really a relaxing cuddle with your small person. But then on the back of that, another huge swathe of people think that women who breastfeed to natural term are ridiculous martyrs who like to Lord over everyone else about how hard their lives are but who won’t help themselves to make life easier. By help themselves I mean employ tactics they are not comfortable with/ dont believe in that someone else thinks it will help them.

I promise you that the majority of us are neither of the above.  When you make a parenting decision, you often feel like the decision has been made for you and there was actually no choice at all.

There are very few circumstances under which a woman cannot breastfeed. This is not to undermine those who genuinely can’t , but they are in a very small minority. There was absolutely no decision to be made for me,  if I could, I would. I didn’t feel like this was a decision that I made and it certainly wasn’t in silo. It was about my whole outlook on the point of procreation- and it was just always going to be that way. Luckily once he worked it out, R felt the same and his complete bottle refusal showed me that he wanted to be breastfed. Even if for any reason I wanted to wean now, I wouldn’t have the first idea about how to go about it and R would be none too pleased about it all. It’s an even better reason to keep feeding him.

And this is what makes things hard. R is not a sleeper. And some breastfed babies are, some aren’t. Babies are made to wake every 90 minutes or so. Some can settle themselves back to sleep and some can’t. Sometimes this is beyond challenging. During my week of solo parenting R decided on the last night that he didn’t fancy going to sleep. I was exhausted having been up and out to buggy fit in the morning then out to a friends in the afternoon and it was day five of solo parenting. It took me two hours and two different beds to get him down. He woke after fifteen minutes. He then took another hour to settle again and that time slept for just thirty minutes. After about 2 1/2 hours I started to slowly crumble. This isn’t related to breastfeeding specifically but the style of more natural /attachment parenting that we have fallen into through our beliefs and Outlook.

Toddler refusingto sleep, Husband about to board a plane hundreds of miles away and all I felt was that I was trapped and unable to express honestly how I was feeling to anyone. When it feels (from comments made like “you spoil him” or “you need to put him in his own bed otherwise you’ll never get him out” etc) everyone seems to view you as a soft idiot who should be shutting the door on your screaming baby to try to”fix” him, it’s hard to find solidarity. Luckily someone posted about a similar problem on the Facebook breastfeeding group that I’m on and I felt able to share there and the lovely comments and support I received there was invaluable that night, another night feeling in a pit of despair.

What to say? Never assume you know how someone else is thinking or that you know what you’d do in their shoes. Women who have had around 4hrs sleep a night for a year plus don’t tend to handle thoughtless comments well. Don’t underestimate how far a nice comment can go when it’s needed.

Going solo

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This week had been my opportunity to really appreciate how fortunate I am.

Since R was born, this is my first extended period of solo parenting. The most I’ve done over the past 17 months is a weekend (which struck at the height of tantrums and wanting to walk everywhere), but this is pretty much a week. Dada was out Friday with work then went away on Sunday and won’t be back until Friday.

So far we’ve coped ok. Largely helped by the fact that I can work from home so have a bit of time bookending  the day before the childcare run where I can get *stuff* done. It helps that we are mostly all feeling ok and healthy too. I’ve also resigned to the fact that stuff needs to be done and I need to be prepared at all times so pack lunches have been put together the night before,  all clearing up and chores done as soon as possible and dinners have slow cooked whilst I pick R up from the childminders.

And it’s easy there’s an end in sight. Ok Dada will come home exhausted and jet  lagged and possibly a little useless for a few days but we got back to being 2 on 1 which is a ratio that works for us.

I don’t mean this to be a patronising post that makes any assumptions about other people’s situation. However I have got to say yet again how I admire single parents. No matter what the circumstances, let alone those fraught with grief or arguments and stress,  parenting by yourself is hard work. Expecially if you’re lacking in family to support you; financially, emotionally or just by being able to help or and Hove you some time off.

I really am fortunate and I’ll work on appreciating that a little more in the future.

Wrapping

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Nope, not a post about christmas!

I thought it was time for another post about “babywearing”. My wrap count is now up to 4! There were two other carriers in the past two- one which I now know isn’t very ergonomic and wasn’t very comfy with his weight anyway and one which I upgraded to something a bit more supportive for a heavier toddler.

So the first kind of carrier I had was something a bit like this:
mothercare carrier
The kind of highstreet carrier you’ll find lots of mums and dads buying. It was given to us and was a great entry into the world of slings and wraps, but wasn’t used for very long.

I was also kindly lent a ringsling by a friend. I’ve heard lots of brilliant things about ringslings- in particular they are good for “quick up and downs” especially with toddlers who want to walk but then get tired.
ringsling
Sadly this one isn’t brilliant and I’ve struggled with it. At first it was fine, with small light baby and I could get it nice and tight. Now the extra weight is uncomfortable on long (more than half a mile) walks and the fabric is hard to adjust as the rings are a bit small for the thickness of the fabric.

Third sling was the first that I bought, having tried a mei tai at a local sling meet. Second hand, this BabyHawke Mei Tai served me really well up until about 10 months old, when he seemed to get a bit too heavy for it, and no matter which kind of carry I tried, his weight pulled at my shoulders.I only worked out how to get him onto my back with help from someone else but it was great when it happened as he could fall asleep whilst I did housework or went for a walk.
mei tai
I promise he’s comfier than he looks! The Mei Tai is a soft structured carrier- a rectangle of fabric with a waist strap that you tie up and two shoulder straps that you can tie in numerous ways to support the baby and be comfortable for you.

I also bought a cheap wrap- it’s a Calin Bleu size “L” which equates to about a “size 6 wrap”. I wanted something lightweight for summer and easy to wrap with as the different fiber blends give the wraps different properties. This was perfect for what I needed, and taught me how woven wraps can spread the weight of your baby as you carry them and support them better.
wrap
This was my first successful attempt at getting baby onto my back by myself with the wrap. It wasn’t perfect but it was safe and we were both comfy!

So I decided I wanted a mei tai with “wrap straps”. These are wider than the normal straps, and are used a bit more like a woven wrap, to spread out the weight better. I looked for a second hand one within budget and struggled to find one, despite being on all the second hand sling forums on facebook! However, someone kindly pointed me towards a company called Bebe Sachi who are a Malaysian Social Enterprise, producing wraps in fairtrade conditions in Bangladesh. Though I found their website impossible to navigate and at one point had paypalled a nice lady on facebook with no idea of whether anything would materialise- they are a wonderfully ethical company and I got great service from them. Even better- if you look after them, their resale value is high. In fact most slings keep a decent resale value, and when I bought my Bebe Sachi wrap strap mei tai and sold the old mei tai, I got back the cost of buying it second hand originally.
Bebe sachi
Another back carry, getting from one part of a wedding to the other. It spreads his weight (now 10.5kg) around my waist and over my shoulders in a way the standard straps can’t. It’s my go-to for easy front carries- and now I’ve figured it out-easy back carries too.

So really my collection (Stash as it’s called in the babywearing business) was done (bar replacing the ring sling if I ever decided to)- except I probably spent too long on the facebook forums and learnt about the Legacy Wrap. A legacy wrap is one that is bought because of a special link to it, and is kept as part of your “permastash” and maybe passed on to your child eventually for them to use. Most people start to look by DOB, then if no special wraps or wraps they like were released on that date, they look at other special dates, colours or word associations to find a really special wrap to them. I used the woven wrap database but this hasn’t been updated since March 2014 or so. I found three wraps that were released on baby D’s birthday.

The first was the Artipoppe Tyger Copper- which is a beautiful design and colour but Artipoppe are very high end wraps and quite hard to get hold of in the UK I believe.
Artipoppe

The second was Natibaby Orchid in the Morea colourway. This one was nice but didn’t shout out to me at all.
Natibaby

The final one had me going “oooh” and made me unable to forget about it! It was the Oscha Okinami in Noir (which is the blend and colourway). It’s a wool, cotton and silk blend, so is very thick and chunky. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I also knew that a)it was expensive and b)it was going to be hard to get hold of but I kept my eyes peeled instead.
Oki

A few months later my wonderful husband asked if I might like one for christmas. I can only imagine the hints I dropped were a little too heavy…..
So I managed to source a size three second hand via the facebook Oscha group and on Christmas day I opened it (having tried a quick wrap with it a few weeks before once it arrived to check all was ok).
Oki me

I’ve never used a size three wrap before, so spent much of the weeks leading up to christmas googling which carries I could do. It turns out that because the wrap is also very thick, it’s quite hard to tie off at the end, making some of the different carries a bit harder! I found this website http://www.wrapyourbaby.com/wovenwraplength.html pretty helpful, and youtube has some great videos too.

Now we are back to normal every day life, I’ve been trying to use the new sling a bit more and get to grips with it. Two mornings going to the childminder and two different wraps tried. Turns out I think I did both of them wrong but they were supportive and safe enough for a 15 minute walk.

Must practice more!

Review: BUGGYFIT

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Something I’m always talking about because it’s the one constant in my weekly routine since October 2013 is Buggyfit.

I’m an active outdoorsey kind of person, so when I heard about a weekly exercise class to encourage new mums to keep fit and get out of the house, I signed up in a heartbeat. I’m really lucky that my local class really is very local. I resent driving anywhere to do exercise and don’t have the use of a car most of the time anyway, so the fact that Buggyfit is run at South Hill Park which is exactly a mile’s walk from my house is a huge bonus. I called the class weekly but actually GLF Fitness run a number of buggyfit classes throughout the week- two at South Hill Park on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10am and one California Country Park in Finchampstead at 10:30 am on a Wednesday morning.

This is only going to be a positive review, let me tell you now!
Things I LOVE about buggyfit:

*It gets you out of the house
As a new parent whether it’s your first or subsequent child, getting out of the house is something most people actively crave, though don’t always have the motivation to do so. It’s really important not only for physical health but for mental health too- To go from an active adult with a busy work and social life to being a mummy where you might feel you’re “stuck” at home all day in the totally new environment of having a baby to look after is a huge change that can really affect mental health and happiness.

It’s hard to get out with a new baby- knowing what to take, getting them ready, choosing their layers of clothing (forgetting your extra layers), sorting snacks and drinks, working out when you’ll be able to feed them, planning outings around nap times and so on. Not to mention the utter exhaustion of parenthood which can lead to entirely forgetting your own name, let alone a water bottle for an exercise class. When R was little, we went out every day – even if it was just a short walk. We went out in any weather but then I know I’m that kind of person who will find the motivation to leave the house and get some fresh air and exercise. However, like I said before- this is the one permanent fixture in my diary- I am officially busy on a Thursday morning doing Buggyfit!

*The trainers are GREAT
Gilly and Becky run my local Buggyfit classes and they are both brilliant. They are well organised, friendly and very knowledgeable, particularly on the kind of exercises new mums should and shouldn’t do, but also generally within the fitness arena. Both can gauge fitness and strength levels of a participant very quickly and will use that to support you through injury or tiredness and push you if you want to work hard. I want to work hard but need a little motivation and they keep me going throughout the class. They’re both also great with children so whilst you’re taking part in circuits or a short run, they are happy to jiggle the prams and keep the small people amused.

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*The classes are varied
As Gilly and Becky run other classes too, they have lots of equipment and ideas to keep the classes interesting. We do a mix of fast walking, circuit training, work with bands, light handweights, some boxing, partner work and the odd bit of running for those who want to. Although you get to know the general format of the class, you never do the same route and exercises two weeks running.

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*Beautiful locations
Both California Country Park and South Hill Park are really lovely places to hang out, and the lovely manicured gardens and forested walkways at SHP make the exercise all the more enjoyable. Sometimes we have to dodge the swans around the lake, but we always have tree cover for the hot sunny summer days and somewhere to shelter on the really soggy ones. Surprisingly we don’t get that many really cold wet mornings, but the classes go ahead pretty much no matter what the weather, and people attend!

*Great people
I’ve met some really lovely friends through Buggyfit- likeminded local mummies (And daddies!). There’s always a great camaraderie in the group and when we can we pop into the cafe for a cuppa afterwards. Now my little boy is a bit bigger, he wants to run around the play park afterwards which makes heading in for a hot drink a bit more challenging, but it’s fun nonetheless.
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*They run other classes too
This has sparked a very surprising (for me) love of Boxing! We do a little boxing sometimes as part of Buggyfit with gloves and pads, and I shocked myself by loving it. It’s a great combination of cardio and strength using lots of core muscles and I find it very engaging. As a result, I’ve now attended two of Gilly’s Saturday morning Boxercise classes at Pinewood Scout Hut before Christmas and plan to attend more in the new year to build on my strength.

I also signed up to a couple of days of Gilly and Becky’s intensive 8 day Christmas Boot Camp. As we were away for much of the christmas period (and then I had a big birthday), I only attended two consecutive days (unlike the amazing hardcore lads and ladies who did all 8). However it was great fun, despite being -4 both mornings and us completing our circuits (the first day I did) and boxing (the second day) outside on frosty ground. It was a huge friendly group with a great focussed attitude. Gilly even provided us all with Epsom Salts for a nice muscle relaxing soak afterwards!

*Inspiration
I’ve been inspired to not only try Gilly’s other classes but get out a bit more by myself outside of that time. Whilst I tend to maintain some level of fitness, the lack of cycling over the last 16 months has been hard on my fitness levels and strength. So I have taken up a little running etc when I have a chance. Gilly is herself an inspiration- on her last big birthday I actually thought she was 10 years younger than she actually is! If i can be half as fit and look half as good as her when I reach that big birthday, I will be pleased!

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More info on GLF Fitness Classes here: http://www.glffitness.com/ .
Come along and try one!

Photos copyright Marla White (link to Flickr account)– taken at the Festive Bootcamp in the frost!

December update!

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I have a feeling this is going to be a bitty one!

As of tomorrow I have a 15 month old (which seems ridiculous really). He’s running around like crazy, shouting and pointing, articulating a few words but understanding so much more. Even “Can you put the toy in your other hand so mummy can do your other sleeve?”. He likes to crash his toy cars saying “craaash”.

Baby (toddler?!) has been through a bit of a stressful clingy phase (which sounds actually quite normal when speaking to friends with similar age children) but he’s seemingly coming out of the other side, punctuated by a three day refusal to go to bed in the evening, regardless of daytime naps or any other factors! 11pm bed time (at least two hours later than MY preferred bed tim) three nights running with the first night involving very little sleep at all for the three of us, and all nights involving co-sleeping from the start. Teamed with a kitten scratching at the door from 5am, we weren’t our very cheery selves on Saturday. He’s feeding a huge amount at night still, which makes the potential to not be here in the evening (for whatever reason) rather impossible.

The weather has taken a turn towards proper winter from happily plus 10 celcius to minus three on Saturday morning and I’m still struggling to get baby’s layers right. I can’t get gloves with individual fingers on him, but mittens annoy him because he can’t pick things up or play with them. Think I should buy some nice warm tights to go under his clothes though as I worry about chilly legs when he’s walking or in the sling!

Been trying to think what Christmas pressies to buy for him and other small people we know, and I’ve been using the Let Toys Be Toys recommended retailers list.

Let Toys Be Toys is a parent led campaign to try to reduce the tired old gender stereotypes that are proliferated by some retailers, toy companies and publishers.

It’s something I’ve always felt very strongly about as a “tomboy” child, from a young age a feminist, and especially now as a parent. I find myself relieved that I didn’t have a girl because far apart from not being a “pink” person myself, I think girls in particular are marketed to in a really negative way. For example-selling separate sticker books for “Clever Boys” and “Beautiful Girls” further reinforces the sad stereotyping of women being only good for looking pretty. Selling medical fancy dress outfits that contain “Doctor kits for Boys” and “Nurse kits for Girls” sends out a powerful message about the expectations of girl’s future and career prospects. “Boys” toys turned pink and marketed towards girls, gives a strong impression that girls aren’t really welcome to play with trains/ toolkits/cars, and that they need some special kind of treatment. Even Lego- one of the toys I enjoyed playing with most as a child for hours on end with both my sister and my two half-brothers are now marketing pink “Girls” lego bricks. I certainly never had any issues with playing with boring old red/yellow/green/blue Lego (or should that be “Boys Lego”?)

I now volunteer for Let Toys Be Toys and it has opened my eyes even further to the whole issue- through the way the toy makers and publishers/ authors create a huge imaginary gender divide to suggest that girls and boys not only NEED separate things, but then the active promotion of this divide to ensure it’s upheld. I have spoken to some friends and family who don’t really understand why it matters, but if I want the world to be a better place, I feel it’s really important that my son grows up understanding that whilst yes, there are inevitably some differences between men and women, that children and adults can choose their own path. That even children are able to make some decisions for themselves- even if it’s just what kind of toy they want to play with. This is the 21st century. I don’t want my son to believe that women are good for nothing other than looking pretty and doing the housework, I need him to know that women can be whoever or whatever they want. As part of that I don’t want him to think that there’s any inherent weakness in being emotional, liking playing with dolls, wearing pink or anything that is sadly still considered “sissy” or “girly”. And If I can bring him up to be a well rounded individual who respects both men and women equally, and at the same time can help spread the message and get people to think, even if it’s just briefly, about the stereotypes in their mind that they project onto children, then I think it is important. Of course I should add the caveat that if your son loves football, dinosaurs and robots, whilst your daughter loves One Direction, sparkles, kittens and fairies- this is of course fine. However, the key factor is that these decisions are made by the individuals, through experiencing lots of different things. The current tag line being used by LTBT is “Tell them what it is, not who it’s for” which I think says it all.
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And a great blog post here about “What do Toys have to do with inequality”?

Not sure what else there is to say that’s baby related to I’ll leave it there for now! Hopefully some food for thought?

Help!

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I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned but being ill when you are a mummy is rubbish. Especially if you are a breastfeeding mummy and your baby doesn’t take a bottle-you become very relied on.

Luckily this time is just a stinky had cold (so far) with a throat like razor blades and drooping eye lids, headache, earache,  gland ache and body ache!

Luckily small stuff has been pretty laid back today and he’s decided for the first time this week to have a decent afternoon nap. Hurrah! Sadly the foot stool is too far away! Send help!
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We do have medicinal wine and peanut butter cup Ben and Jerry’s!

Side car named Sleep.

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I won’t even mention the amount of time since I last posted….I used to regularly upkeep 4 blogs, the only one I manage well now is my livejournal which is a closed personal blog that I’ve had for 11 years!

Baby D is now over 9 months old. Months 0-6 trickled past as we tried to get to grips with everything. Since 6 months passed and we stopped counting his age in weeks, and since I started counting down the weeks until I go back to work, time is suddenly flying.  I say that but he’s learnt so much and amazes us every day so maybe it’s not gone so quickly.

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DEVELOPMENT
Developmentally he’s decided that rolling and crawling are not for him. He is very confident during and can spin a full 360 on his bottom at speed if there’s a good toy behind him. He’s always wanted to be on his feet-the jumperoo  and more recently the Walker have helped fuel this passion. And he’s been learning to stand whilst holding on to the sofa. A few weeks have passed and he is cruising around the furniture and given the right surfaces can pull himself up to standing. Eek.

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(There is a serious perspective issue in this photo as he is the tallest in his friend group! )

FOOD
Overall weaning (the English meaning of weaning being too stay them onto solids alongside milk) has been slow.  We decided to mix the classic puree-style weaning with baby-led. Baby D likes to be in charge so this suits him well. We started about a week before he turned 6 months amidst empty promises of it helping him sleep better. Whilst most his friends sit compliantly with an open beak, waiting to have food shovelled in, my boy is a bit of a pickle. I come from a family of keen eaters, my husband less so. Seems baby got his eating habits from daddy’s side of the family. I hope out non-pressurising approach means he grows up with a positive attitude towards food (I detest picky eaters and have patience with them! Everyone has likes and dislikes buy fussiness is annoying@).

The warm summer is not really helping (nor is the tummy bug we both had), and some days he basically eats nothing. We offer him three meals a day and s huge range and variety of tastes and textures in hot and cold, sweet and savoury food. Sometimes he goes mad for it, more often than not he doesn’t want anything.  However his weight is good and I’ve bought vitamin drops (which is as good as giving them, right? ) to ensure he gets what he needs. We are also spending a lot of time outside (though careful with suncream etc) so I hope he’s getting the vitamin D that breast milk can lack.
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SLEEP
Oh sleep. I won’t go into too much detail but whilst most people in the (western. Or maybe just british) world will try to make you feel like a freak if your baby doesn’t Sleep Through The Night from about 3 seconds old, I’m lucky to have my group of mumsnet friends showing me 60 plus different versions of normal. Sadly we are at the crappy end of the spectrum. I’m not prepared to sleep train my baby in the classic way (long story short -all babies are different and I don’t believe in a one-cure-fits-all solution and it definitely doesn’t suit my baby) Which doesn’t leave many options (and certainly none that have really worked for us).

I wish we had Co-slept earlier. There are so many people parroting bag information about Co sleeping and how it will ruin your life and kill your baby that I was reluctant to try it. In actual fact I get so much more sleep now than I did before despite his sleep patterns still being pretty awful. However Co sleeping in the spare room had meant not spending much time with my husband so last night we got radical and converted his cot into a sidecar cot.  Lots of great information about how to do it on many blogs so I will be modifying it tonight to try to improve the position.

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Need to remove the bedside table and move the cot up, then pad my side of the bed to get it a bit higher!