Monday, 9 December 2013

BLW: Master of the Spoon

It has been a while and, as I was observing Millie eating at the weekend, I thought it was time for an update on BLW progress. Millie is 15.5 months now.

I was observing Millie eat as I had noticed that her spoon control had not only improved significantly in the last couple of months but she can now correct a spoon if not in a good feeding/handling position and can recognise when it has food on he underneath. She will usually try hard to use her spoon in the first instance and will only resort to using her fingers after several failed attempts. The spoon is still her preferred utensil as forks and knives are more for bashing and playing with. Haha, how does that sound? I let my child play with knives!

Actually, on that topic, I kind of do. Well, I’m not so strict about the ‘no licking the knife’ rule that most people have. I will teach her what is a sharp knife and it will be some time before I let her use a sharp knife. It is impossible for her to cut herself on the usual dinner knives. I wonder whether this rule came about in days where it was all sharp knives cutting through hunks of meat? I know it isn’t polite table manners but she’ll learn those in time as she develops in her feeding/eating skills like Callum has learnt his table manners. In fact, shhhh don’t tell anyone, but sometimes I lick the knife too! I know, shocking!

I’m much more relaxed about her eating what she instinctively chooses from the plates I’m offering rather than pushing certain foods on her and stressing. With Callum, shortly after he started nursery we started to mistrust his instincts and worried about how little vegetables he was getting but much of that was down to the repetitive and not particularly nutritional meals he was given at nursery. And, as has been said of children’s ‘natural’ eating habits, when left to their own choices, foods go in and out of favour quite frequently.  You’ve just got to keep offering them – especially while they are still quite young. Also, doing so positively so as not to draw attention to some foods as being ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

When we first started weaning Millie, peppers and cherry tomatoes were her favourite. She would also love chomping on a roasted carrot. Over time, she has discarded (quite literally, on the floor) these previous favourites and peas and sweetcorn became her preferred choice of vegetable. Then, at the weekend, when faced with a plate containing cabbage, peas and carrots, it was the peas she was spitting out and the carrot she picked up and happily munched through. She has often turned her nose up at mashed potato but couldn’t get enough of it on Sunday.

Another firm favourite was Weetabix but nursery have said she is no longer so keen – however, that’s understandable if she has it day in, day out. Although, what I did find funny was how the manager came up to me all proud and said

"I’ve found a way to get her to eat her breakfast…letting her feed herself!”

“Exactly!” I said, “That is because we followed the BLW approach when we weaned her, she has been feeding herself from the start!”

I had explained this to her key worker when she started and emphasised it on a couple of occasions but the manager is not her keyworker and she covers in the baby room when they haven’t enough staff or to cover shift changes.

At least this nursery provide a varied and nutritional menu – I’m often quite jealous of the meals they have!

Strangely, Millie definitely seems slower with her spoon control than Callum was but she probably has a much wider variety of flavours.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Mojo, Where’d You GoGo?

With my return to work, I’ve kind of lost my blogging mojo.

It’s been a hectic and often stressful couple of months which feels like it is finally starting to settle down a bit now. However, after a morning of getting the kids out of the house on time and off to nursery/breakfast club, a full day at work often involving a 45min to 1.5 hour drive, then flying home to pick kids up, feed cats (and often kids), do the usual chores and then get kids to bed, the last thing I want to do is give away any more of myself.

I’m even a lot quieter on social media *thud* – I know, me -the prolific twitterer – did just say that!

I’m just not ‘feeling’ it. I don’t have the mind power to make casual chitter chatter. I loiter for a bit feeling like I’m looking in through the window at a party in full swing while I hover unsure outside in the cold. So then I often just close the laptop, pick up Wordhero on the phone and switch off to the outside world.

I do miss it though. I hope it will come back again soon.

Anyway, thought I’d provide a brief update on the family.

It feels like we have had a good couple of months of pass the bug, each having our share of colds, viruses etc. I’ve currently lost my voice (which is probably a relief to those in the ‘real’ world) and Millie has a lingering cough.

I’ll start with me and work. I feel like I’ve made a good impression and am proving my worth. Of course, there are insecurities occasionally, but I think that is natural especially with a new job and I think it is healthy to feel a little insecure otherwise you get cocky. I’ve received lots of good feedback from my line managers and other trainers which feels good. The project I’m working on is a bit chaotic, disorganised and, up until recently, a bit of a mess but think it hit a wall last week and positive steps are being made to turn the project around so I’m optimistic. It is all providing good experience and looks like my contract will probably continue past the end of March.

Millie is as cute as ever! Surprisingly, still not walking. After being so sure on her feet from quite early on, I really expected her to be running about by now. However, the bum shuffle has developed into a kind of monkey crawl with one knee crawling, one leg reaching forward like a bum shuffle and her arms propelling her forward.

She appears to say a few words but nothing clear enough to say for definite. I think the ones she can say are “no” while wagging her finger (similar to Callum’s first word of “don’t” while wagging his finger), Mumma, Dadda and Cat. She points at everything and knows how to get what she wants!

She generally sleeps well again now. There was a period over the summer where it was getting really tough and I thought she would never go back to being a good sleeper. She still occasionally wakes in the night but very quickly goes back off with the dummy being replaced and it definitely isn’t every night.

We’ve had Callum’s first parents….sorry Family Evening as it is now called.

Lots of good comments from his teacher about him being where she expects him to be reading and with making ‘marks’. He is very good at doing what he is told, sitting down and listening and continuing with a task until he has finished. He also has lots of friends which of course is nice to hear.

Taking him to the breakfast club and afterschool club at Millie’s nursery can often be cause for contention. He regularly says he doesn’t like Mini Beasts as the clubs are called (though he calls it Millie Beasts he he) and says he doesn’t want to go there despite him enjoying it when he is there. I think it is probably seeing his friends’ parents taking them to school and picking them up and he wanting us to do the same which pulls at the guilt strings a little.

Since his grommets being fitted and his adenoids were removed, his speech has come on leaps and bounds and his hearing is excellent now. His teacher said he does so well at school that she forgot he even had it done. He still misses off a  letter at the end of a word occasionally but he really listens if we correct him and tries to say words correctly.

With work, school, nursery etc there have been a lot of changes over the last few months so overall I think we are doing pretty well.

Now to be patient and await the return of my blogging mojo.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Tits Up!

I wasn’t going to blog about this but I think I feel passionately enough about it for it to pull me out of my blogging hole.

We all know (if you don’t, you bloody should so have words with yourself!) that we shouldn’t listen to anyone else who thinks they know what’s best for our children and feel it necessary to bully you into feeling guilty about something or other so I’m going to take a different approach and just blurt out my experience. You’ll probable be able to work out how I feel about the vouchers for breastfeeding scheme!

When pregnant with Callum, I originally wasn’t going to breastfeed. To me the idea felt so alien. The though of a baby sucking on your nipple just *shudder*. I had seen my friends struggle with it in different ways and it did nothing to appeal to me. Yes, I knew that breast was best but formula hadn’t killed me either. I was always a very healthy child (and pretty healthy adult), I wasn’t an overweight child or fit any of the other ‘risks of formula feeding’ threats they threw at you so formula was going to be fine for my child too.

Then Stuart found out and he really didn’t understand my decision. In his eyes, why wouldn’t you breastfeed? It was free….it would provide our child with invaluable antibodies and other health benefits. If he could do it, he would, no question. In the end I agreed I would try it for a day and take it from there.

I wrote on my birth plan that I would try breastfeeding but would rebel against anyone who pushed me!

Callum arrived a little early (3.5 weeks) - I tried to breastfeed but was explained that because he was early he may struggle to suckle at first. This was true, he did and I spent much of the 4 days I spent in hospital trying to get him to breastfeed, distraught that he wouldn’t latch, learning what it felt like to be a milking cow when shown how to use the hospitals electronic breast pump to express the milk out. Not helped by the baby blues hitting during that week and no one warning me.

The hospital midwives respected my birth plan and didn’t push me…in fact, I felt I could have had a bit more encouragement (no pleasing some people eh?).

Finally, on my last day, I managed to successfully feed Callum but only on one side and expressing the other.

When I left, I continued to breastfeed on the left and express on the right. I’d heard of support groups but I didn’t have the confidence to go to them. Because I’d heard of people’s negative reactions to breastfeeding in public, I had no confidence in doing so and would hide in toilets when out, especially in restaurants. Eventually I’d try to make the feed out a bottle of expressed milk and then express when I got in. By expressing every other feed, I wasn’t getting the full benefits of the breastfeeding experience as I was still washing and sterilising the bottles. At night, I had to feed off my left breast and then put my sleepy baby back to sleep which I desperately wanted to do too but instead had to stay up and express.

I quickly found out, breastfeeding hurt! And not because there was anything wrong with my latch. In those early days, while your nipples get used to this strange vacuum like suction a dozen or more times a day, you will experience a pain like hot needles shooting down your nipple that makes your toes curl. Your fight or flight kicks in and it takes all your power not to rip the baby from your nipple. Your poor week nipple may get sore (and yes this may be from poor latch too). I went through the pain of sore nipples and quite quickly lansinoh became my saviour.

Other things I wasn’t told about breastfeeding was that they cluster feed in the evenings. They have growth spurts where they would literally want to stay on your boob all evening! This was normal! Go with it!

I lasted about 4 weeks with a slow wean taking it to 6 weeks.

In the time between Callum and Millie I’d learnt a lot more from friends about what was ‘normal’ when breastfeeding. So, by the time I was pregnant with Millie I’d decided I wanted to try again and I really wanted to try to breastfeed for longer than 6 weeks. I would go to support groups, I would seek help if I needed it and I would try my hardest to get my baby to feed of both breasts.

I’d hoped for one of those babies that came out knowing exactly what to do, latching on and away we would go but Millie still needed to learn how to latch on and so did I.

Early on, the midwives and health visitor were very supportive, helpful and not at all pushy. They put me in touch with the breastfeeding counsellor at the hospital who came to see me and set me up with an electronic pump for a few weeks (they were only permitted to lend it out for a while) along with little bottles for collecting the milk and a syringe.  She gave me lots of tips and was just lovely.

I had heard about nipple shields and had bought some in preparation! The BF Counsellor explained the benefits and risks and agreed it was worth me trying. She showed me how to use them and recommended, after a while, breaking the seal and removing it to encourage Millie to feed straight from the nipple. Thanks to these incredible inventions I managed to get Millie to feed (after quite a bit of work) off both sides. After a couple of weeks of using them I ditched the nipple shields.

My left nipple got a little sore again but quickly recovered but my right? Oh My God!!!! I had an open sore that shocked and scared me. It also got infected. Yet I tried to feed through it. The night times were the hardest and many a time Stuart would wake up to me in bits because I was in incredible pain but feeling helpless with what he could do for me. The nipple shields made a return but eventually they were starting to rub and make the pain worse.

I went to a Bossom Buddies group at the local children’s centre and had my latch checked and confirmed it was fine. Still I had pain due to the open sore on my nipple. I went for a few weeks but a number of the mums that went regularly were from the same antenatal group (being second timers in a new area, I didn’t have the support of an NCT group like the first time) so everyone seemed to know each other and their babies were about the same age. It made it intimidating to try to break into that group. No one shared their stories as to why they were there so you saw happy successfully feeding mums feeding their babies so I didn’t feel I really fit in and stopped going. The breastfeeding counsellor was nice and helpful though and I was able to borrow (for free!!!) an electronic breast pump for a while so I would still say it was worth going. I probably should’ve looked for other local groups.

I was recommended Jellnet and the BF counsellor agreed it was worth trying to encourage healing. I was given fungal cream to try to remove the infection. I continued to feed but the healing process was very very slow.

At 6 weeks, I acknowledged my incredible achievement at managing 6 weeks and beating my target, as well as succeeding in getting Millie to feed off both sides, but decided I couldn’t take the pain any more and I would start weaning to formula. However, after a week of one bottle of formula and the rest still breastfeeding I noticed my nipple started to finally heal…so I continued with this routine!

Then Millie started refusing the bottle! Once more I was breaking down in floods in the middle of the night as she refused to feed. After a very stressful weekend away, I decided that as my nipple had healed I would return to fully breastfeeding. By this time, I’d made it to 8 weeks. She had a few nights of waking up more frequently but then seemed to settle again.

Because of all the ups and downs of feeding, within the next couple of weeks I decided to wean to bottle again and the intention was to bottle feed during the day and breastfeed at night but she soon went back to refusing the breast altogether. The slow wean had turned into a flat refusal.

I know I gave it a bloody good shot at breastfeeding with Millie. I achieved so much and managed over 11 weeks. I’m proud of this. Yet I still look back and beat myself up as tears come to my eyes that I gave up.

“I shouldn’t have swapped the feed, I should have continued through the pain. “

No one makes me feel guilty but me. I can step back and I know I made the right decisions for us throughout that time. I know I couldn’t have continued in the amount of pain I was in without something having to give. Before Millie, I would have told anyone else that they should no way feel guilty for making such a huge effort and I would tell them I am sure I wouldn’t have managed so long if it was me in that pain. Stuart no way blames me and I  know he found it hard dealing with the pain I was in. He was shocked to discover the first time with Callum, how much it hurt and when he made his “why wouldn’t you?” argument he was unaware of how tough it could be. I can think logically about the whole situation but the day I started breastfeeding some magic switch was put in my brain that meant when I stopped I was programmed to feel guilty about it.

Despite being told it shouldn’t make a difference as it’s ‘breast’ feeding not ‘nipple’ feeding but I do suspect the fact I had inverted nipples were a contributor to the pain I felt and the sores I got. Even if the baby is latched onto the breast the nipple is still sucked out.

So…do I think vouchers would’ve changed my actions? No I don’t! Do I think other mothers should be made to feel guilty for not breastfeeding for 6 months or choosing not to breastfeed at all?  No I bloody do not! And for those that really want to but can’t for a million and one different reasons…if this makes me mad, how does it make those poor women feel?

If I was to have another child (which I’m definitely not going to) would I breastfeed again? No, I don’t think I would but I don’t regret it with Callum and Millie. I wouldn’t change that!

Just my experience and my opinion. Please don’t let my experience put you off. If you want to breastfeed or experience trouble breastfeeding yourself, I can’t recommend enough reaching out for support- whether that be groups or health visitors or breastfeeding counsellors. I’ve known friends who have gone through similar pain but gone on to happily and pain free feed for over 6 months. I’ve also known loads of people that were lucky in that they breastfed and from day one didn’t experience any discomfort at all. We are all different and everyone’s experience is their own.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Making it Work Part 2

I’ve just finished week 4 of the ‘New Job’ and things are ok! Are they getting easier? Hmmmm…! Am I adapting to a new hectic life? Maybe, who knows.

If you read my last post after week 2 of returning to working life, it may surprise you to hear that things got worse!

Millie’s teething didn’t ease up and I was called to collect her on a Friday afternoon as she had “had a loose nappy , had been sick and now she had a temperature and wasn’t eating” (while I was just short of 30 miles away!), I was due to do a floorwalking exercise (where you support users in the field when rolling out a new technology system or similar) the following week, had no idea where I was due to be sent as had no access to email and despite numerous requests no one had called me (though it wouldn’t have mattered because no communication had gone out!).

So off I go to collect Millie and it turns out the sick was reflux, Millie was much chirpier after another nap and it was highly likely all her symptoms were down to teething!

I feel like a fraud having gone to collect my child and enter a weekend being clueless to where I would have to go the next week.

Then Sunday night comes….yet Sunday night sleep doesn’t! Millie screams….properly screams….the whole night, aside from 2.5 hours between 3.30am and 6am! I’m a mess! What’s wrong with her? Is she really poorly? (yet the waterfall of dribble and now smiling little girl tells me she isn’t). I’ve had very little sleep so am extra emotional and have no idea what I’m supposed to do. Do I take her to nursery and win bad mum of the year award? Do I take her to the Dr to be told she is teething and win the bad new employee of the year award? WHAT THE HELL AM I SUPPOSED TO DO? I call NHS Direct! I barely hold it together but because she has just dropped of fto sleep and I am unwilling to wake her they advise me to take her to the dr.

Despite getting through at precisely 7.59am (the lines open at 8am) the first appointment available is 11am so I text work….then when I’ve no answer I phone.

Come 11am I take her to the Dr and she utterly charms them (the Doctor and the Student Doctor). She is fine! She is teething! Back to nursery she goes and I get a phonecall…it’s work…“are you on your way to Bridport?” Over the weekend I’d heard rumour I may be in Blandford. Blandford is 22 miles away, Bridport is 47.5 miles away. I clarify whether they mean Bridport or Blandford….no it’s definitely Bridport. Oh joys…off I go to Bridport! I arrive and on day one of the rollout, the newbie who has only just learnt a few bits of the system, and am thrown into the Lion’s Den of an MIU (Minor Injury Unit) on day one of rollout on my own! Another IT guy is due to arrive at 1.30pm (about when I arrive incidentally) but doesn’t turn up until 3.30pm and quite frankly I’m a complete fish out of water and do the best I can to help them through! I leave them at 4.30pm to fly home to collect the kids arriving to pick them up dead on time of 6.15pm!

Day 2 of this week and I’m due in Weymouth (another fair distance from home). Stuart and I drop the kids off at nursery and Callum has a melt down! He is hysterical and doesn’t want to be left. Eventually we just have to leave him while upset.

The stress clearly takes it out of both Stuart and I and cross words and tears are exchanged! Stressed? ME STRESSED? WHAT DO YOU MEAN STRESSED?!?!?!?!?!?!?

I know Stuart has his own work stress but quite frankly, and selfishly, it’s my turn to be stressed!

The week continues with me flying to all ends of Dorset but thankfully the work gets easier (well I get more confident and am supported by people who actually know what they are doing) until I get a text message from the school on Wednesday informing me of what classes will be open on Thursday (Callum’s not being one of them). Hey? What? Why isn’t the school opening? When I pick Callum up in the evening I find a note in his school bag telling me “further to our letter of the 10th of October, due to strike action, the following classes will be closed” (or words to that effect). Letter of the 10th? What bloody letter of the 10th? I’ve obsessively checked his school bag every night and there has been absolutely no bloody letter! An emergency call to my Mum means Callum can stay home with my Mum on Thursday. Phew! Can’t thank her enough!

Then Friday afternoon brings another call from the Nursery saying Millie has a temperature again!

A more cynical person may suggest that the nursery staff may just want to leave early on Fridays?? But no, I suggest they put her down for another nap and let me know how she is doing when she wakes while the nurse next to me says he wouldn’t consider a temperature of 37.8 a high temperature. They call me back half hour later and sure enough her temperature has dropped and I’m pretty much suspecting those pesky teeth are still giving her a hard time.

I leave just 10 minutes before I’m expected to leave and make the horrid,  traffic laden journey, which is supposed to take an hour but takes and hour and 25 minutes, home. Millie is fine! Teething but fine!

This week has been back to observing courses, staying close to home and the kids have been well and doing what they are supposed to be doing with little or no complaint!

However…..it doesn’t stop there…Stuart has come down with pharyngitus and has been bed-ridden the whole week.

But, quite frankly, a grown man on his death bed sleeping all day in bed is a hell of a lot easier than misbehaving kids, nasty teeth, useless communicating schools, long commutes and unsupportive husbands!

Work has been local and I’ve even had a couple of compliments. Despite everyone else’s usual project stress that all but me seems surprised about (it’s an IT system roll out what do they expect?) I think I’m actually holding my own.

You know…I might just make the full 6 month contract!

Friday, 11 October 2013

Making it Work!

I’ve been back working full time now for 2 weeks (well 9 days as I started on a Tuesday). Picture0023

I’m not sure what I expected but it is bloody hard work. Not the work itself but everything else!

Working full time while having children is not a new thing for me, I went to work full time when Callum was 18 months but, with 2 children at different stages in life provides a whole new set of challenges!

When I went back to work after Callum, I started on a Wednesday, Callum was sick on the Thursday, I had a holiday booked on the Friday, to go to Scotland with a fab group of girls where I came down with Callum’s bug, had to force my poorly self into work on the Monday despite feeling rotten as I daren’t take any more days off just after starting a new job. However, thankfully, after the false start the rest of the working life went pretty smoothly.

This time, in the space of these first 2 weeks in the job we’ve had an incident where the nursery didn’t collect Callum and another child after school to take them to After School Club (there fault, not ours!), we’ve forgotten to pay for school dinners (so suddenly had to provide packed lunch for the week after and Stuart was snapped at with ‘we’re a school not a bank’ when he tried to pay for school dinner until the end of term with a a debit card over the phone), Callum had to be collected from school by Stuart after falling asleep in class and having a temperature, teething Millie waking me up through the night and being grumpy, I had to collect Millie from nursery today for having a temp, loose nappy and being sick which turned out to just be an episode of teething with a teething nappy and reflux (which she gets when teething)! The whole time I’ve been suffering from a delightful sore throat bug which has taken me 3 weeks to recover from! Stuart has been told off for not completing a ‘school photo consent form’ which we definitely never received and Callum didn’t get to have in the end anyway due to being poorly!

We (lets say ‘we’ to be diplomatic) are juggling remembering to make nursery payments and booking in the sessions we need in advance of the next week (while having no idea where work will be sending me next), remembering school dinner payments, getting teacher training days thrown upon us out of the blue, trying to think ahead to what the hell we are going do do with Callum during school half term, Callum saying he doesn’t like breakfast club/after-school club. The nurse is trying to book Millie in for her 13 month jabs when the only week we can do is the week she can’t do! I’m finding out daily where I’m being sent the next day and have absolutely no idea where I’m going to be next week so haven’t a clue what additional childcare to arrange, if any.

I’m dropping balls left, right and centre and my head is swimming!

I get home and once I’ve sorted the dishes, the laundry (not helped by Callum destroying his uniform on a daily basis), fed the kids some more, cleared out the cats’ litter tray and fed said cats, put kids to bed, cooked dinner, danced the tango while knitting a scarf, I collapse onto the sofa for an hour before crawling into bed to be woken up hourly by Millie or to get insomnia at 4am or for Millie to start her day at 5.30am!

Quite frankly, right now, I don’t know which way is up!

I love working, I want to work, I enjoy that time where I am Debbie! Not mummy, not wife, but Debbie the IT Trainer! I’ve worked hard to get where I am and I love what I do. But, quite frankly, I sure as hell miss those days where I could just walk out the door, go to work and come home without having an anxiety attack every time I see a missed call on my phone and wondering who is ill or what have I forgotten to do this time! It’s not even as if I get to recover at the weekends! Please tell me life gets easier!

One thing is for sure, I make a crap Juggler!

Sunday, 6 October 2013

BLW: More Mess But Less Stressed

Thought, as some time had past since my last BLW post, I’d provide an update, especially since Millie has turned one.

Like anything there are highs and lows to to Baby-Led Weaning. The low being the purposefully throwing food on the floor…timed perfectly with the learning to talk so the throwing of food on the floor becomes a game so Millie can wag her finger and say “No!”.

But it also serves as a reminder to not overload her plate. Millie will only start throwing food on the floor if there is too much choice or if it is something she doesn’t care for. If she starts throwing food on the floor, the easiest thing to do is to take it all away and just offer her one thing at a time. She’ll either discard it or eat it but overall will eat a lot more than if she had a full plate to look at.

The throwing on floor thing did start to get me down but I took a look down memory lane and saw I was getting frustrated at just the same thing when Callum was the same age so decided to ride with it instead of fighting it.

Millie has been slower than Callum to grasp the spoon and feed herself but she is getting there now. Her first instinct is to try to use a spoon and only resorting to fingers if she struggles or she’ll grunt and hand me the spoon to load it for her.

In terms of what she eats, it changes daily. The favourites at the beginning are now discarded as new and more interesting foods have come along. No more are the cherry tomatoes, red peppers or roasted carrot but butternut squash, peas and sweetcorn? More of them please Mummy!

I’m definitely more relaxed than I was with Callum about what Millie chooses to eat as I remember, by now, I was definitely getting more frustrated with what Callum ate (or didn’t eat as was more likely the case). I’ve learnt my lessons and, with Callum having just this evening scoffed a roast dinner of roast belly pork, roast potato, sweet potato, parsnips and carrots, brussel sprouts (Yes! a kid that likes and eats brussel sprouts!) and roast butternut squash mash without a whine or murmur, I think that lesson is let them be, keep offering and they’ll discover the new flavours in time.

I know personally, the more you fight them the bigger the wall of rebellion will climb, as that is what I was like as a fussy eating child and what I’m still like now if someone tries to false me to eat something I really don’t want. Instead, encourage them to try but if they don’t like it, that’s fine, they may do eventually, especially if they see you enjoying whatever food it is.

Millie likes different things to what Callum liked and is less a fan of meat but will eat it and eats lots of other food too. Nursery love her because she will eat pretty much whatever is served up to her.

Both children have always loved their fruit and it has been more of a challenge to stop them eating too much fruit!

I’m also a lot more relaxed with Millie during times when she goes off her food – due to teething, illness etc. I know she’ll be fine, I know that the next week she’ll eat twice as much as she ate before she stopped eating, I know it’s normal. With Callum, I couldn’t help but worry a little, as I think it’s human nature to worry whether our little ones are eating enough, we want them to thrive! But, like with the food wars, I’ve learnt that she wont starve herself and that she’ll start eating again when she is ready.

Right! Best go clean the dinner off the ceiling again! That girl can flick!

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Then it hits ya!

So, this is me:

“I’ve got to get back to work. I need to have grown up conversations. I need to continue my career before I lose it altogether. I’m not cut out to be a full time mum, there are so many others better at being a mum than me. My children can benefit so much from socialising with other children to develop their confidence and they can experience learning in a format I could never feel comfortable with. We need the money (but this falls under the can’t afford not to work but can’t afford to work bracket)”

Yes, mostly very selfish!

For so long I’ve been ready to go back to work. I remember saying when Millie was about 8 weeks old that I was ready mentally to return to work but emotionally I wasn’t there yet.

Well, yeah 11 months on, I’m still not emotionally there.

When Callum was 1, I started looking for work. It took me 6 months to find work and, despite the start of my return to work being blighted by illness and holidays, I never looked back. In fact I felt guilty for not feeling guilty when a colleague told me how her friend showed the photos of her child about 30 times on her first day at work.

We had a few nursery settling in issues and then a period of ‘catch every illness going’ but, on the whole, it was a good experience and I never regretted it.

Fast forward to now and it’s Millie’s turn. She has just turned 1 (Callum was 18 months) and I’ve found a job and am to return to work.

Great! I have a job! I’ve still got it, I deserve this, I can do this!

In many ways, I think Millie is of a better age than Callum, she is likely to settle a lot better than he did.

Then it hits me! Tonight!

I’m handing over my baby to be looked after by a handful of carers for 10 hours out of every week day! They are going to see her first steps, so many first words, so many firsts! She’ll know them more than she’ll know me.

One of the things I did blame Callum’s first nursery for – they’ll have a greater parental influence than me!

But, most of all, I’m going to miss my baby girl.

I’ve been with her nearly every day, all day, for the past 13 months and, when you’ve spent that much time in someone’s company, you are going to miss them! She is going to miss me!

So, what about Callum? Yes, that hasn’t passed me by either and with it brings a whole world of guilt! I know he was fine, I know he’ll be fine and he is currently thriving at school. Yes, I feel guilty that it will be a long day for him too but he often did 7.30am until 6pm on a Thursday or Friday at nursery.

And, believe me, it is knowing this that is keeping me going. Callum is fine, Millie will be fine, it’ll all be fine!

And hey! Nothing is forever! And I want this! This is right! It’ll be alright! THEY will be alright!

A poem for you:

As I will send you on your way, tell you it’s going to be ok
You’ll show the world your special smile, and I’ll be gone just a little while

As I walk away I won’t look behind, I’ll push your smiles from my mind
I know that for the world you will shine, and all the heartbreak will be mine

But I’ll be back, don’t you cry, those careful souls will sing a lullaby
Just remember my love for you, with you in everything you do

And I’ll remember your precious smile, and know it’s only for a while
Before you know it I will be back, and our love will be back on track

Then tomorrow it may start again, you will be free to make new friends
But knowing you will shine so bright, lets me know it will be alright.

What Comes With Turning One!

Millie turned 1 year old and that brought with it a whole lot of hard work!

She is right at that age where life is all about frustrations. Wanting to walk but unable to do so without holding onto hands and refusing to attempt to use a push style walker (she wont go in the sit in walker anymore, probably because it is too big and she gets stuck too often). Trying to talk and communicate but not knowing the words or understanding the responses. Trying to have an opinion and be independent but not understanding why we wont let her go into the middle of the road, walk off a big step, why she must lay down for nappy changes or why we can’t be available on demand to walk her around the house holding our hands.

In addition to this, ever since we came back from holiday in June, for one reason or another (sleep regression, teething, illness) her nighttime wakings became exhausting! When she woke in the middle of the night she refused to sleep unless given milk and would sometimes wake up twice for milk and then another once or twice on top of that for her dummy.

I wasn’t liking the Onesie years very much and felt even more exhausted than ever before, never quite recovering.

For the walking, I have to remember that as much as my back is killing me now, it wont be forever and the more experience she gets the quicker the walking will come. I’m also trying to encourage her to use the walker (without much luck) and trying to improve her confidence walking with one hand or trying to get her to stand on her own, but I know she will do it in her own time.

But it’s not all hard work! I’m loving her development with talking. She can now say:

“Ta” – thank you
”No” while wagging her finger – however she treats this as a game and purposefully does something naughty so she can say “No” and wag her finger!!! Her particular favourite is throwing her dinner on the floor!
”eya” while waving – Hiya
”dada” – baby
”Yeah” especially when clapping

and she often copies the the noises and sounds she hears, whether it is imitating her brother, our tones of voices (something to watch if they are cross voices) or just short words we say. Such as tonight I was saying “open” as I opened a draw and “close” as I closed it and she copies the rhythm and tone of what I’m saying even if not getting the words.

Other very cute things she is learning are kissing and blowing kisses. She kisses her dollies and makes the kissing noise and action on her own but doesn’t kiss people yet. I did kind of teach her to blow kisses the other day. She kissed her hand then pointed at me Red heart. She pretends to read books and talk on the phone too. Just adorable!

It is so true when ‘they’ say children are sponges – the rate of learning at this age is incredible and I wish I could learn new things half as quickly (and I consider myself a fast learner!).

I start work next week and I go from being with her pretty much 24/7 (well except when she is sleeping) to handing her over to someone else to look after her from 8 until gone 6 (at least). Work is so the right thing for me but now I really appreciate that extra 6 months I had with Callum as there are so many firsts I’m going to miss and, yes, I’m gonna miss her like a crazy person!

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

School for Thought

Tomorrow Callum starts school! Big boy at 5 starts school.

HOORAH!

Sorry, I know I’m meant to go all gushy about my little boy going off to Big School all on his own blah blah blah.  I don’t meant to trample on anyone’s feelings and make out that parents shouldn’t gush but just I’ve no need as he is sooooooo ready! And quite frankly so am I!

They can feed his thirst for knowledge much better than I ever can and then he gets to run off all that crazy energy with his new friends.

I’ve done the worry. I did that much earlier in the year when his hearing was still poor and I hadn’t met his teacher or been to the school since it had been redeveloped.

Since Callum had his grommets fitted & adenoids removed his hearing and speech has improved so much and in line with that, so has his confidence. I am confident he’ll be fine. We’ve talked so much about it, what’s going to happen, what he’ll do. He is fine with it which means so am I.

His teacher came for a home visit and she is lovely and set my mind at rest that he’ll be fine. He is the (yes ‘the’) oldest in his year and therefore his class and remembering what Callum was like at 4, he has a bit of an advantage over some of the younger more nervous little ones. This time last year, he would have been a completely different boy.

The school is now lovely. The changes they have made to it are amazing and it is such a nice space to learn. I have no concerns there any more.

I’m starting a new job in a week and a half (that’s the next post) so he’ll be going to breakfast club at the school and after school club until I finish work. It will be long days 5 days a week so tiring for him and I do feel a little bad about that but he has done it before, I’ve worked full time before, so I know he’ll be fine. But that’s one thing I’m not looking forward to – the grumpy teenager act which I’ve been warned about in the first term! However, I’ve talked to him about it and he is taking it all in his stride. I think he is happy that he’ll be near Millie – he is getting quite protective over her bless him. Says he is going to look after her.

Tomorrow is his first half day and he’ll continue with half days for the rest of this week then start full time on Monday.

He is so excited it is infectious. So, we are ready! Bring on this next chapter! Bring on the school years!

Tomorrow I’ll proudly update this post with him in his school uniform, completely with oversized jumper.

Here he is! And I can confirm the first week has been a success!

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Party of Five

It’s been Birthday central here recently! First was Millie’s, then Callum’s and today is Stuart’s. Enough Birthdays already!

However, this post is about my little big boy turning five! Well, more about his 5th Birthday party.

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Since about April he has been asking “How many times is it my Birthday” which translates as “How many days until my Birthday” – every day! Which at least replaced the “How many days until Christmas” question which we had been having up until that date!

There have been birthday celebrations before but no big party, inviting lots of friends, entertainment & party bags etc. There was no escaping it this year as he’d been invited to his friends’ 4th Birthday parties and he knew a 5th Birthday definitely deserved a party so had been talking about it for months.

Gulp!

I’m no party organiser & the thought of loads of kids running wild in my house running cake into the carpet and spreading jelly & ice-cream filled me with dread. I did briefly consider planning a sports day style event & picnic over the park behind us but what if it rained??? We then looked into hiring a room at the local Children’s Centre which was reasonably priced and we investigated local entertainment. We liked the Sports Day theme so eventually found a company which ran mini Olympics. However, once I had received the list of friends from his nursery and calculated the cost of room hire, entertainment company, party bags, cake etc, it was looking to be a tad on the pricey side. We briefly toyed with keeping the room and providing the games and entertainment ourselves but figured we could get someone else to do the lot for us and host it for a similar price! So we thought anyway but looking into it, there was very little under £10 per head and we were looking at a possible 10-16 kids! Up to £160 without adding the cake & party bags on to it all. Kids parties were SOOOOO expensive!!! I don’t even spend that on my own Birthdays or Stuarts!

Finally, after a case of knowing someone who knew someone we managed to get a fantastic deal on a local theme park and, even better, they provided the party bags, a lunch & drink was included and the rides and soft play provided the entertainment!

There was a slight panic about getting the invitations out in time. Callum was leaving nursery a week before his party and some of his friends had already started to leave. Not having anyone’s addresses I had to get them into nursery before anyone else left (aside from the non-nursery foke). I was up late designing the invitation and writing them all but got them done in time and invites went out to 16 of Callum’s friends.

It was exciting when the replies started coming in but they came in slowly! We needed a minimum of 10 children (and a maximum of 16 including Callum). I eventually got 10 replies saying yes and 2 saying no and then no response from 4 (which I’ve since heard isn’t a bad reply rate). This left me worrying about if any dropped out last minute and would the remaining 4 just turn up on the day (which another friend told me happened to her).

Callum had asked for a specific Birthday cake – Angry Birds (thank you Layton, who had an Angry Birds cake at his party). I’d spied one in Asda a couple of weeks before so thought fine, no problem. The day before his party I went to buy it in my local Asda and there weren’t any, a dart to another supermarket on the day still turned up fruitless. Stuart eventually left me and the kids at the Park meeting guests to mission it to the original Asda I’d seen it in.

The plan for the day was to meet everyone at the gates at 11am, rides fun for an hour then head for lunch in the themed function room which we had for an hour and was right next to the soft play to keep the monsters children entertained for a bit then finish off again on the rides. We’d specified an end to the ‘party’ at 3pm but made it clear the guests had use of the park until it closed.

I’d come up with a great plan to brightly sticker the children with their names so I could try to spot them when time to round them up for lunch if groups had splintered off.

Most of the children (and their parents) turned up fairly promptly but after 15 minutes, we were still waiting for one and some of the children were getting fidgety so I texted the mum and inside we went. Although all the children were stickered (at least for 5 minutes), the kids darted off in several directions and I didn’t manage to get the message to all of the parents that lunch would be inside at 12 and to make their way to there just before.

The time flew quickly as we ran here & there, me frequently checking my phone for an update of the missing guest and before I knew, it was time to round up the guests. First we had to pay for the number of guests we had. I tried calling the Mum and left a voicemail after no answer so paid for just 10 (including Callum) then head out to round everyone up.

Just at that point the mother of the missing guest called me to apologise and she was sending her husband and child along right away. So we had to pay for the extra guest & order their meal which is when I bumped into Stuart with the cake and had to run straight out to locate everyone to shepherd them in to lunch. Didn’t realise just how big the park was until I had to run all over it and stickers? What stickers? Eventually, my sister called to say that she though everyone had made their way over with a few stragglers making it over just as I got there.

Callum and his friends were visited by and survived an encounter with the Dark Side of the Force, Lord Darth Vader himself under watchful Storm Trooper guard. Darth immediately felt the presents (presents as in presence? Get it?? OK, groan).

I kept running back to the park gates to wait for the missing guest.

The cake got delayed and delayed until they started to lose children to the soft play so I headed back and the cake was brought in by Alice, The Mad Hatter and the Queen of Hearts along with a little gift for Callum. The cake was packaged off into party bags which were then brought in and distributed to the children’s parents.

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Off to the soft play the children ran again (especially as it started to rain outside).

Still no missing guest.

Eventually they arrived looking rather flustered, well the Dad was, bless him, just as we were packing up the room. Layton (yes the one responsible for the cake of choice) joined straight in with the fun, however, and I know Callum had a great time playing in the soft play and then going on the rides too so appreciated the effort of them making it down.

Parents and children (together of course) started leaving about 2pm and then we left with the last guests at 3.30pm at which point we were getting rained on more and more frequently.

As a party venue it was a great place, Callum had a wonderful time. I did feel guilty that the guests went off in their separate groups as obviously different children wanted to go on different rides and see different things whereas the point of a party is the children all play together but I’m pretty sure all the children enjoyed themselves and I know Callum definitely did and did manage to spend time with different friends throughout the day.

And for Callum the day didn’t end there, when we got home we ate cake (which was worth the effort to get – strawberry flavoured icing!!!) and he opened his presents and got some amazing stuff (which makes me feel a little embarrassed for the gifts I’ve bought other kids for parties in the past!!).

Rumours are the parents leave the kids to it next year! I’m thinking of holding it in the pub? Sure way of getting parents to stay, yes?

At least I’ve another few years before I have to do the same for Millie!!!

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Giving up the Bottle!

Milk bottle that is…and Millie…the other type of bottle gets me through the week ;o)

Now Millie has turned one and we move from formula to cow’s milk I’m also starting the transition from bottle to sippy cup.

From what I remember with Callum (I’ve tried looking back through my blog for facts but can’t find any) we bought these cow patterned cups and removed the valve to make them freeflow then started by making the first bottle we changed his bedtime one. The reason being because it was the one he was usually most desperate for so would hopefully accept it regardless of what it came in. Or was that the first one in the morning??? I’m not 100% certain but think it was the bedtime one. I remember he had a little trouble with the freeflow at first and rejected it a bit the first night or two but think by the third day he accepted it. When we switched the remaining bottles or even how many bottles he was on at that time, I’ve no idea. I also think we tried to switch nearer 18 months rather than at a year.

Knowing I was going to try the switch with Millie I bought the cow cup again as it worked well with Callum. However, annoyingly, they have changed the design so that the valve (which we removed to make freeflow) is now built in. So, now hesitant to buy every style of cup to find out which have removable valves & which would work as a freeflow cup, I’ve gone with the larger Tommee Tippee style cup (but without handles) like this. I know Millie is OK drinking water out of it so figured it’d be a good cup for milk.

While we still have formula it’s not worth moving completely onto cow’s milk and not worth trying to make up formula in the sippy cup so the idea is just to keep the sippy cup for cow’s milk and the bottle for formula.

As Millie rudely woke me at 4am this morning for a feed, I thought I would slip in a cow’s milk feed in her cup at some point so I wouldn’t have to make up an extra bottle (I make up the bottles for the day either first thing in the morning or after her last bottle at night). So, shortly after her lunch (I figured she wouldn’t be starving, having just eaten) but when I knew she wanted her milk, I gave her a cup full of cow’s milk. She wasn’t happy. She went for it enthusiastically thinking it was water (I do intend to keep these cups solely for milk) but then quickly complained. She tried a few sips a couple of more times but then wouldn’t go near it.

The next two bottles I gave her as normal.

I’m going to try her first cup of the morning and see how that goes. I must remember to be consistent so if I’m going to do this, I can’t keep switching and changing the bottle I change. She is due to drop one of her bottles at the moment (as she hasn’t really dropped any of her bottles since weaning just reduced the volume an ounce or two) so I’m hoping that if she refused one cup of milk a day she isn’t really missing out.

I wish I could remember properly what I did with Callum as I know it worked. I’d also be interested to know how anyone else approached this so please feel free to comment and share your own experiences.

Thank you

Monday, 19 August 2013

At One!

Just where did the last 12 months go? It’s Millie’s 1st Birthday tomorrow and I can’t quite believe it. I’m not really one to get too sentimental and emotional about such things but I must admit it has hit me more than it did Callum and makes me go ‘gulp’!

With Callum, I hurried his baby days along always pushing him towards the next milestone & looking forward to the next phase of Callum. I wasn’t a fan of the baby phase and longed for more interactive stages. Looking back I was more stressed about doing things correctly and not getting into bad habits. I guess so many people are with the first child.

However, this time with Millie, I’ve relaxed into it and gone with Millie’s lead. Because my attitude has been different, I’ve enjoyed the baby stage so much more. Although I can’t wait to see what Millie is going to learn to do next I still look back with nostalgia.

But enough of that, lets look at the now!

Millie is still very quick to dish out the smiles at all & sundry and most of the time she is quite easy going but she is beginning to get a bit more of a spirited personality. She has always known what she wants but now she can get stroppy if she doesn’t get her way. This is especially true when it comes to walking around while holding our hands. Should we dare to ignore her desperate grabs for our hands as they pass by because we are busy with something else, or we tire of activity after the 14th cycle of the downstairs of the house, while rubbing our sore backs, she will cry like you’ve just taken her bottle away after the first taste of milk! Like I say above, she knows what she wants and while walking her around….I say walking her around but what I really mean is while she is walking you around because you really don’t get much say of where she goes.

We’ve tried persuading her the walker is a good independent way to practice her walking skills. She has use of a few. One which she sits in which she likes at first but gets frustrated with its size as she gets stuck occasionally and prefers to run me or the cats over with it! We also have one of those VTech walkers, the ones where you have lots of buttons to press & a phone on the front then a handle at the back which they can use to push it around. Similar to this, we have Callum’s old wooden blocks trolley walker. If we try to get Millie to walk with either of these latter types she freezes and cries.

Millie loves to dance and I think she is going to be the more musical out our two children.

She can clap and she can wave and just within the last week she can pretend to talk on the phone. Not that she says any recognisable words as yet but she holds it to her ear and babbles into it.

Millie now has 4 definite teeth and a 5th one has just broken through the gum and I believe there are a couple more that will be close behind.

She is rather speedy at the bum shuffling now and can be guaranteed to make a beeline for the top of the stairs giving Stuart and I many a heart attack as we don’t have a stairgate and she refuses to go down backwards! Think it is time to accept we need a stairgate with this one!

Mille still loves lights like many young babies do – we have several lights with dangly things on (crystals on the downstairs ones, stars on Callum’s light and butterflies on hers) and she looks up at them and makes a herrrr noise (like when you breathe on a window) to indicate she wants you to blow them to make them move and she’ll smile and giggle when you do.

Like Callum was at this age, it feels like she is on the verge of learning so many new things.

It’s hard to imagine that over the next year she’ll be walking and talking and moving from baby to becoming a proper toddling little girl.

Here’s a little montage of her past year:

 

I think I must’ve blinked…could we do that again? Ha! Nah! No chance! Trot onwards please! Eyes forward!