Friday, 31 July 2009

Dear Supernanny

Following my day from hell, the toddler has steadfastly refused to walk. Nothing will encourage him, no bribe known to man will work. Even the attentions of his best toddler friends fail to get him to walk. I have taken him back to the A & E department and they can find no injury. They say they have seen it all before.

He has a six month old little sister, who receives virtually no attention apart from when she is being fed and her nappy is changed. He chooses what to wear, what he eats and what the family watches on the television. He fights over brushing his teeth every night. He has taken over the best seat on the sofa and demands constant attention. He is both the apple of my eye and the thorn in my side.

I am fed up of him, I want my life back and I want him to do as he is told.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

The History of Breastfeeding

It's fairly well documented that I really struggled with breastfeeding for a number of reasons and I ended up resorting to the bottle. For this act, I have been belittled by middle aged men, criticised for not looking after my child properly and being selfish and made to feel guilty by Health Visitors, certain doctors and some midwifes. The level of pressure that I felt certainly contributed to me suffering from post-natal depression with my first child. I was very careful not to feel pressured with my second.

I really think that if someone looked into it there might be a relationship between the increased pressure to breastfeed and the rise of post-natal depression. It is every woman's right to chose, in the UK we can boil our water, sterilise bottles and provide a safe, healthy alternative. It is your body, and your choice alone.

I don't wish to come across as either anti or pro breast-feeding. I don't think that does anyone any good. However, there are many arguments presented by the pro- breastfeeding lobby and one is the historical 'in the past' one. But what did happen in the past? As an archaeologist, I feel reasonably well placed to discuss this. Nonetheless, please bear in mind that I don't have the opportunity to research at the British Library or my museum library as I'm on maternity leave and I'm limited by the books I have sitting here on my shelf! So, here is a bit of a tin-pot guide. But I hope it conveys the message that children, even in the ancient past, were not exclusively breast-fed. Women still exercised choice or simply needed to do something other than breast-feed for the sake of their own health.

The Key Facts
In the past many women used Wet Nurses; Moses was presented to a wet nurse, as was Mohammad, Napoleon and many other notable historical figures. By Victorian Times there was a whole wet-nursing industry. Needless to say a fair few children died as a result of being nursed by women who were poorly fed themselves.

Wet- nursing was often, but not strictly a practice associated with high social class. It was hoped that women would be able to become pregnant again more quickly if they weren't feeding as that would enable them to produce another heir. This has been shown to be a fallacy, it is possible to become pregnant if you are breast-feeding.

Wet nursing went into decline in Europe following WWII as a result of the availability of formula. However, shared breast-feeding is still practised in a lot of developing countries and there is a growing small body of UK women that choose to practise shared breast-feeding.

Feeding bottles have been found across the world in a range of cultures from Ancient Egypt, Roman all the way up to modern day Europe. They were made from wood, horn, ceramic or glass. The first glass bottle was patented in 1841. There's a whole museum of baby bottles with a website here. The image above is of a replica Roman glass feeding bottle. We tend to use plastic bottles today, although glass is making a come back for health reasons!

I don't want to write an academic article, that's too much like my work for my blog. If there is enough interest, I will of course, go off to the British Library and sit down and write one, with proper references and some photographs of bottles that I have seen in various museums. However, Ive done some Internet searches and found some useful sites which may be of interest:

The History of Nursing Bottles

The Baby Bottle Museum

A Ceramic Roman feeding Bottle

A pictorial history of baby bottles

Breast-feeding Mom- History

and a couple of books:
+Wet nursing: a history from antiquity to the present Fildes, V Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1988
+Breasts bottles and babies Fildes, V Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1986

So, there you go, I hope that if you are struggling with the breast-feeding dilemma you can take heart from the fact that women have been having the same issues for at least, the last two thousand years.

The Essence of Cool

You either have it, or you don't. The Hubby and me don't. But cool has come to our household. Toddler boy (AKA hop-a-long) always seems to look so effortlessly cool that you could make a lollipop from the bogey permanently hanging out of his nose. Its not fair. I'm worried now, how do I deal with this? How can one little man create such an aura of cool even when whining, crying and poo-ing? Where did it come from? Will it stay?

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

I Love Playmobil

The other day a little Playmobil rowing boat, with a sailor and a Killer Whale sailed right up to the front door. It was obviously helped by our local postman, Pat. In the deep, dark cavernous recesses of my mind, I seem to recall agreeing to do a review of some Playmobil. But that was ages ago. There was no note or anything to this effect in the boat, so perhaps this is just a gift from God. Who knows?

What I do know, is that it is the most lovely finely crafted piece of plastic I have seen. Nice to touch, realistic in a nice way and it matches the policeman, police car with hazard triangle we already own. In a, people you might find at the quay kind of way. I'm tempted to throw away all the other toys. Playmobil appeals to the museum curator in me. It looks nice, feels solid and seems safe. According to the catalogue, there are two types of Playmobil: 123 and the normal stuff. We currently own items from the 123 range. I have even allowed baby Fifi to have a play with it. She likes it a lot! As you can see from the pictures. Please excuse the boys baby grow, she did a big poo just when I ran out of nice girly babygrows for her to lounge about in. Toddler boy likes it too, in fact, he has already picked out what he wants from the catalogue. Father Christmas is working on the order already.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

You know its going to be a challenging day when...

Its raining outside, you turn on the television and you get the end credits of Roary the Racing Car. My first day post-operative day without hubby. The wound is bleeding, mmm, that's not good. Never mind, the Mother - in -Law will appear soon.

Fast forward a couple of hours and I find myself standing in Stockwood Discovery Centre with the Mother-in -law. Unfortunately they have an exhibition on the British Postal Service, including a toddler ride on Postman Pat Van. "I don't put money in those things," I hint to the M-I-L. She takes the hint. We only have to stand there for half an hour. You can climb aboard some of the the carriages at Stockwood. Its not good to going during the school holidays, Toddler boy climbed aboard, seven seven years olds felt they should join him. I stood there in fear.

On our return, I had a phone call from the very swanky bed shop. Your credit card has been declined. "It can't have been, its new. Toddler boy wants his bed. Celebrities endorse it. I'll phone the credit card company, thanks." On to Egg Credit cards, for once I navigated their system. Eventually I spoke to someone;

" Yes we do have all your details, you have credit in your account, we closed it last week".
"WHAT!, You see I'm trying to buy something..."
"Nothing we can do I'm afraid and you can't open another account with us for a year"
"WHAT!" A number of expletives ran through my mind.
Not to worry I have a John Lewis card, it just needs activating. Again, another series of questions successfully key-padded.
"Your card has not been activated recently so we cancelled it"
"What" OFGS, GRRRRRRRR. That's teenage speak, to express my slight aggravation.

Meanwhile, in the living room, Toddler boy is bouncing around the Mother-in-Law on the sofa, in a manner only allowed by grandparents. There is a sudden spell of silence followed by a wail. I rush over, Toddler boy has passed out and is now screaming blue murder. This continues for about fifteen minutes despite being offered crisps, chocolate, sweeties and lollipops.

I phone the doctors; "Take him to the Minor Injuries unit"
I take him to the minor injuries unit which as its the NHS has a 30 minute parking limit and sees patients in 40 minutes or so. I have to go and speak to the man in the box about the parking. Whilst I'm away, an aggravated nurse wants to deal with Toddler Boy. I can't be in two places at once. "You need to take him to A & E" Why, oh, why didn't I just take him there in the first place, I think to myself. All the time wondering if there is a deepening red stain around my middle.

At baby A & E, Toddler boy decides he can walk, a bit, to the Fireman Sam Fire Engine. The nurse sees this. We have caught him out. Still, she advises its worth waiting to see the doctor, so I wait, for a long time. During the last ten minutes of my stay, a chav family come in. Six people for one toddler is a bit extreme. "Hes got a really high temperature" Oh God, I think to myself. A few members of the family and the child go off with the nurse. They are stupid. The child returns without his T-Shirt. He steals the Fire Engine from us, polluting the nearby air with his disease. Because I consider myself Middle Class, I say "Don't worry, not a problem, no really, its fine". That is not what I am thinking.

The Doctor sees the boy "Bring him back in three days if he is still not walking properly, I don't want to irradiate him unnecessarily". As I walk past the nurses station they say "Swine Flu".

I return home. I ever so slightly burn the Pasta with spinach, sweetcorn and Gruyere. No-one notices. There is some new boy in Eastenders. There's blood on my Pyjamas from the wound. I think I need some drugs. Deep breaths. And, that is the essence of life in the UK today.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Reading for Pre-schoolers; Top Ten Books

Regular readers will know I have tried to get the little ones interested in books from a very early age. Yes, we do all the usual things such as reading at bedtime and throughout the day as and when opportunities arise. One of the things that I have done, is to put some books in the toy box for them to play with. This seems to have worked, as Toddler boy happily sits and looks at books turning the pages carefully, which always surprises me as he does his best to destroy everything else which comes into his path.

Now Toddler Boy has a baby sister, he is doing his best to encourage her to look at books. First he places them just within reach, this encourages a bit of crawling. Then he lets her get to them, have a few nano-seconds of playing and then he takes them away with his battle cry " MINE, SHARE!" I have done my best to explain the concept of sharing but it hasn't sunk in yet.

The other day he went out and left her (us) in peace, hence she actually got to have a good look at some books. This got me thinking about the best books I have found for her age group. Here are the ones that seem to go down especially well in our house:
  1. That's not my....... (Teddy, Penguin, Bunny) by Rachel Wells and Fiona Watt
  2. Tickle, Tickle by Helen Oxenbury
  3. The Busy Little Train by Anna Claybourne, Jo Moon
  4. Where are you Little Penguin? by Nicola Baxter
  5. Maisy's Big Flap Book by Lucy Cousins (any Maisy book goes down well though)
  6. Yellow Digger by Benedict Blathwayt
  7. Pip The Puppy illustrated by Axel Schaffer
  8. Dinosaur by Fiona Watt and Rachel Wells
  9. Elephant Wellyphant by Nick Sharratt
  10. Chimp and Zee's Animals By Catherine and Lawrence Anholt

Friday, 24 July 2009

Cooking for Idiots: Masterclass 1; Crumble

Disclaimer: I'm a rubbish cook, but there are a few staples which I have found are very easy to make and can be used to impress the foolhardy.

Description; A nice hearty British dessert which kids seem to eat. Probably as it requires little or no effort on the part of chewing and delivers a lot of sugar in one go. Basically, a load of stewed fruit, with a topping of butter, flour and sugar.

Stewing Fruit
Chop the fruit up (peeling first if appropriate), put into a bowl add some water (usually about a cupful) put into microwave for a few minutes checking to see progress. Voila.
I used the above blackcurrants harvested when I noticed the weight on blackcurrants on our bush causing it to be virtually a creeping blackcurrant bush. Oh, and I wanted to occupy the Toddler for a while. DON'T ever chose blackcurrants, there is a reason why 98% of British Blackcurrants are made into Ribena; They take absolutely blimming HOURS to top and tail , making every teeny tiny mouthful something you are obliged to eat. Obviously, because of this, children love them.

The Crumble Topping
Put some butter into a bowl. Then add some flour or/ and a handful of oats. Mix together with your hands in a sort of mushing together motion. Children love doing this, make sure they have clean fingernails though or you'll have crumble tinged with luminous pink play dough. This might look funky, but it tastes a bit funny. Dump a load of sugar in the mixture and mix it around a bit. I use brown sugar, as this makes me feel virtuous. If you are anti- sugar, just sprinkle some on top of the mixture once you have put it in the dish on top of your stewed fruit.

Put it in oven. Stop cooking when you start to smell burning, if the smoke alarm goes off you might be a bit late. But the provision of a steak knife should enable you to scrape off most of the burnt bits.

Serve with lashings of custard, cream or ice cream. If you put enough on it, people wont be able to taste any cooking disasters.

Happy cooking!

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

My Take on the Ol' Swine

Zooarchaeologist has been watching enormous amounts of television recently and twittering like she is going to be struck off for being a spammer. Its the boredom of being bed/ sofa bound. I think this Swine Flu stuff is really getting increasingly worrying. Its only a matter of time before the first Swine Flu Heart Attack victim. This will be someone who has become so anxious about it that they have literally given themselves a heart attack. There will then be Swine Flu road casualties, as people run into the road to avoid someone holding a tissue and a whole new category within the Darwin Awards will need to be created. No, its not that I'm making light of it. I really, really, really don't want myself or my family to get it. Its just that the media seem to be seizing on an air of panic which isn't helping.

I think the whole spread of it is partially resultant of the decline in our society as a whole. When I was a kid, you got a severe telling off for spitting, coughing without putting your hand over your mouth or any other similar disgusting habit. Nowadays, it seems to be acceptable to spit onto the street millimetres away from where someone is walking along. I see all sorts of people do it. I find it horrifying, and I have been told that this is one way that TB is getting spread about. Never, let your toddler play with your shoes and take them off indoors!

The coughing thing, I cant tell you the number of people I actively told off for coughing, without putting their hands or a tissue across their mouth whilst I was commuting into London. Some apologised, others looked like they were considering a reply. No-one did or they would have got an even bigger mouthful from me.

So, with this said, you have to ask is this decline in manners and civility another thing to blame New Labour for? I mean, would it have happened under the Conservatives, Liberals or Green Party? Well, probably under the later too, but perhaps I should write into the Conservatives to ask their thoughts on it all. Who shall I pick? There is only one man; Dear Boris...

I'm digressing here. I thought I should try to reassure some of you about the Flu, Ive actually had it a few times, but the last time I had flu or pneumonia, I never did get to the bottom of it, was when I was eight months pregnant. I blogged about it here. I survived, and you will too if you get it. Please, please don't let the media worry you too much. My understanding is that Swine Flu is bad, but it is the same as the flu. Little ones are at risk (I am concerned about mine) but as long as you keep their temperature down with Calpol or baby Neurofen and seek appropriate advice you will be doing the right thing. Fingers crossed that people are sensible and that Gp's are understanding.

We had the Norovirus when Toddler boy was tiny, they can get very dehydrated with that. It was awful. So bad, in fact, that I really don't think that there can be anything worse for a child. I would go to extreme measures to avoid getting that one again. So, can I please make this into an appeal. If your child is poorly, then don't send them to playgroup, school or take them to soft play. Its just not on. That's how the germs spread, and no, I don't agree, its not good for anyone to get a few germs, if they can be avoided they should be. As for the toys at the doctors surgery, avoid them like the plague. Virus's can stay on hard surfaces for 24 hours and soft for 12. They are likely to have been played with by diseased little hands and seem to me the best way of exposing them to germs going. I wish I manufactured anti-bacterial, anti-viral handwash, I would be making my fortune in these troubled times!

Monday, 20 July 2009

Alton Towers Winner!

In the background to this post I'd like a drum roll and then some of that endless lift music. That's because after I asked for advice on the wonderful British Mummy Bloggers site for marketing the competition, I ended up with more entries than I bargained for. Ive just spent the best part of an hour and a half writing on tiny scraps of paper and making sure that everyone has the correct number of entries to the draw. Hence, initial excitement of the drum roll then a long wait. The sort of feeling you get when you phone up the bank and someone answers only to put you on hold for the best part of half and hour (HSBC).

Now, as the competition prize has been donated by Andrex Puppy Points I think that everyone should pop over and check out their site. If you want to have a look at the pictures of the launch you can find them here. The general idea of the Puppy Points is that you save up the codes you get on your toilet roll, input them into the site and exchange them for fab stuff. Something for nothing, not bad if thats your chosen brand of bog roll.
Anyhow, hubby has chased Toddler Boy around the house culminating in him sitting on the naughty step to escape. Since I'm bed ridden there's not much help that I can provide. He has cornered him with the aforementioned scraps of paper rattling around in our Bob the Builder style archaeology hard helmet and the draw has taken place.

The winner is Gembaby! I hope you like Toddler Boy's Pj's. Well Done! Since you have locked your blogger profile you will have to email me your details to the aforementioned hotmail account (top right of the screen). Needless to say, the Being a Mummy readership will expect a full report of your adventures in Stoke.

Phew, my first competition is over, the sense of relief at remembering to do the draw on the correct day and everyfink is enormous. Can I just say that if by some chance I don't hear anything within three weeks I will do the draw again. Finally, once again, congratulations Gembaby!

Saturday, 18 July 2009

My Experiences of Surgery for Ovarian Cyst

As I write this, I am sitting in my little sick bed having survived the worst ever experience of my life. I have a terrible terrible phobia of hospitals, needles and frankly all things medical. I survived the birth of both my kids as a result of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, the thought of the fantastic thing I would get at the end and the fact that I really didn't have much say in the matter.

This operation has been hanging over my head since the month after I found I was pregnant with Fifi. You see, at 8 weeks pregnant I rushed to the doctors after collapsing on the floor in absolute excruciating agony. The doctor thought I might be having an ectopic pregnancy and sent me for a scan. At this scan, they saw a little bean, but they also saw this cyst. Throughout the pregnancy it got bigger and bigger, which I think is partially caused by hormones. I suffered really bad acne rosace, bloating, tummy cramps and back ache. A lot of the symptoms are quite similar to IBS which I also have so I have literally just been getting on with it. In fact, if I hadn't had a pregnancy scan, no-one would have known that I would have had it. Therein, a warning for anyone with similar symptoms!

I've been living with the positive thought that it might just go away, I might not need an operation. However, a fair few weeks ago I was told that it was full of blood, a hemorrhagic cyst. The cyst was bigger than 5 cm and could rupture, twist and move around causing an inevitable ambulance ride. With 2 kids to consider and the possibility of and A & E doctor being set loose on my bits I didn't have a choice. I had to endure surgery. The method they used was a laproscopy. The thought of it was frightening. A camera through my belly button and incisions along the rough line where I would have had a C-section.

Friday came, I was a mess, tranquilisers helped and they shoved me into my own room. Mainly so I couldn't see the old ladies in the Gynae ward undergoing medical procedures whilst I was waiting. One stroppy NHS anaesthetist who had no patience and was huffing and puffing, moaning about paperwork whilst she put me under (thanks God she wasn't the last thing I saw on earth) and it was done. I remember coming to and then drifting off and coming to. Then at one point my consultant appeared and said she had signed my discharge paperwork as she knew how distressed I get in hospital. Then in a blur, I got dressed and literally stumbled in a daze to the car. OMG I felt ill. It hurts, the painkillers are helping. I was told that I can sleep on my side but its not all that comfortable, so I keep passing out on my back. But, all said, if you need have it done in the future, can I just reassure you and say that if I can manage it, you can.

At the moment, I just have to stop the kids jumping on my tummy, try to remove the bandages and make sure that I make the most of it, well at least a little bit. I mean, I've been needing a rest for at least 2 years. Its an extreme way to get one, but it seems to be working.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

The One Where I'm a Bit Maudlin

I know, I know, I've been making a big fuss and a song and dance about this operation I'm having tomorrow. Tis only an ovary and a cyst after all. Its ridiculous, in real life as an archaeologist I've broken numerous bones and had some hideous wounds and I've adopted the Monty Python approach "Tis only an arm". I remember one time slicing my finger in half with a metal rule in the rain. The bleeding was so bad that there was literally blood everywhere and the rainwater was sort of washing it about more. The lads I work with were well impressed. The effect was dramatic. I did feel a little bit light-headed, but wasn't about to say so. So what did I do? I got a plaster, gritted my teeth and carried on. Such is my hardiness, in fact, I'm so hard (mad) that I don't even have any anaesthetic at the dentist for ANY procedure. I used gas and air and a tens machine for the birth of my babies, nothing else was coming near me. There you go, it is all mind over matter. This time, it's the fact that I'm going into hospital for a little stay. I've sort of convinced myself that I'm going to be coming out in a box.

This state of mind has lead me to think about what would happen to the kids, if I wasn't here. I think I've resolved that one. But have you ever thought about what you would like them to have of your possessions? I know it sounds silly, but its not something that I really have done, being, in the main, a healthy person. But then, I could get run over by a bus, anything could happen at any time. And does to quite happy, healthy sorts. What if the kids ended up with a piece of tat I have been trying to off-load for years?

With this in mind, I have been making a sort of mental audit of my possessions and made sure that hubby and one other person knows what I would like each child to have. Its funny when you start doing that, as it also puts into perspective a lot of the stuff that's being hanging around the house for years. Why on earth keep it, if when you are gone, the whole lot is going in a skip anyway? I think I can now empathise with the elderly. The bin men are going to love us this week, my wheely bin is overflowing...

Wednesday, 15 July 2009


You know you want a bit of my home-made Belgian White Chocolate and Summer Fruit Cheesecake...
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Monday, 13 July 2009

Tap, Tap, Tap; Computing with Pre-schoolers

This is what you look like if you balance on a gym-ball, at your computer desk with two under three year olds balanced on your knee. Feel sorry for me, its hard keeping a two year old balanced as he enjoys something on the screen, whilst his little sister strains for the keys.

Its a rather apt picture though, as Heart FM and Windows are running a campaign to encourage parents to show children how easy it is to use their computers creatively. They have enlisted some girl band called The Saturdays (I've not even heard of them personally, until now, but then I am 34 and OLD) to launch the campaign and have an awesome website full of competitions with prizes and everyfink. You can visit it here at this competition link.

Lets make this clear, as most of my readers know, I have two children; A boy aged two and a bit and a baby girl, now 6 months. Obviously, my experience of computing with them is a little bit limited. However, the whole thing did get me thinking, as me and the hubby like to use our computer a lot. As I'm sure you can tell. Being the sort of person always worried about what the future will bring, I am quite keen to encourage the kids to be IT whizz kids and computer geeks. Lest they turn into strange teenage faddy weirdos and keep me up all night worrying about their antics. I like my sleep.

So, with the future in mind, there are a few things that I do on the computer with the kids. And, yes, inevitably, they do all involve considerable amounts of interaction. No, I don't get any peace, even in my sleep, I'm worried about something.

Picture the scene, cream carpet, tasteful blue furnishing, flat screen monitor computer in the corner of the lounge. Harassed woman with toddler and baby on her lap, balancing on a gym ball whilst sitting at the computer. The conversation between me and child; usually goes like this:

Me; "No, put my pen down! No! That's the off button, no don't press that, arghhh we'll have to start again."

Child; "He, he me, me me ME! LET ME!"

Me; "Not that one"

Child; agaaaaaaaajutiul;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; - that's the pressing of a lot of buttons. In fact, so many that about 4 keys actually fell off my work laptop and had to be sort of wedged back in. I hope no-one with sticky fingers is using it whilst I'm on maternity leave.

Can I give you a tip? Don't try blogging with a child (specifically a pre-schooler), on your lap.

But what actually do we do on the computer? Surprisingly, there are a vast number of things that take up a fair amount of time and hold their interest well. Great for me, it means I don't get driven mad by Fireman Sam for the millionth time. Although, as we visit this website you can't have it all!
To summarise and provide a handy little resource for parents;

*We look through all my old photos which are nicely organised on Picasa with highlights on Flickr

*We spend hours and hours on the Cbeebies website, printing out pictures of Bob the Builder, trying to do some of the simple games and singing along to the songs.

*We look at this little cartoon SamSam which has an un-believably catchy theme tune

*We play this tractor game

*We play lots of these Fisher Price Games

*We press buttons/ keys on the keyboard, just for the hell of it. 6 month old baby Fifi just loves the noise. She gets all excited and her legs flail about randomly.

*We end up with about 15 different windows open and mummy gets a bit confused

And finally, we get bored and spend the time bouncing up and down on the exercise ball that I sit on instead of a chair! There you have it, computing with a pre-schooler. Don't be shy, it can be done.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Fun From Now On

I've been thinking, lots and lots and lots. Thank you all for your really helpful, thoughtful and down right lovely comments. I'm really touched that you actually spent the time to respond to me and my silliness. It's funny how something like an operation brings life into sharp clarity and gets you thinking and questioning about stuff. I have to admit that I am suffering from terrible anxiety at the moment as I do have a real genuine fear of hospitals and needles, which has been helped by CBT, but I think may need to be dealt with by tranquilisers later on this week.

I have decided upon a course of action, helped by the suggestions. I am going to continue, partly due to the begging of hubby and a couple of mates including someone who I like to think of as one my best -est friends as she stoically puts up with all my moaning, Garden Mum. I think I would also be giving up on what is essentially a record of my life and times. Like the Mummy Whisperer (who also has some fab advice on her blog) and miss leslieanne, Tasha, and Muddling Along Mummy suggested, I think I will have specific no blogging days when I focus on domestic family things. The computer will not even be turned on and I am in discussions about moving it upstairs like Laura and Fraught Mummy suggest.

I am really enjoying doing my sewing at the moment, so as Kathyrn suggests (I'm not going to call her Mrs Slug!) I will post about some of my creative achievements and disasters. I hope you all find this enjoyable, funny and perhaps even a little but inspirational. I also think I will go back to the early days a bit, when I wrote about some stuff other than kids, like Mary does so well.

I feel the need to concentrate on my family life and the kids, but that doesn't need to be at the expense of me time and blogging is a bit of me time. I need to get more organised. So apologies, if this little part of the web becomes a bit erratic. Stick with me there will be good times ahead!

I would also like to thank Cartside (who I feel I know, as we have been reading each others blogs for such a long time now!), Vic, Metropolitan Mum, the Dotterel, Karin and Clarey for stroking my ego and making me feel a bit better. Its nice to know that people enjoy what you are doing and ultimately they made me remember why I started doing this, for fun, and for myself.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Back to Basics?

I'm having a real think about whether or not to carry on with this blogging and twittering lark. Its a result of going on holiday where we had no Internet access and the computer wasn't just sat there in the corner of the room. I couldn't pop over to it to catch up vicariously on peoples lives or to write a bit here and there. I felt like I was freed from its grip, the temptation wasn't there, I spoke to my husband. Although he managed to play Championship Manager a lot of the time, so he may or may not have been listening to me.

I have to say that, I really, really love blogging, it has been a feature of having kids. I've met some brilliant people, Ive got some great stuff to review. However, I do think that recently its become a bit more competitive than it used to be. I can't say that I'm not disappointed for not getting into any of these top lists EVER. The fact is that I am. I get a fair few hits, lots of requests from PR firms. Even the chance to review a few different web-sites sites pre-launch. However, the main-stay of my writing work has always been academic stuff through my job. Magazine articles, dull, dull highly academic articles, a book, exhibition panels and lectures so boring that I often wonder mid-stream if I've already spoken about something. Yes, they do seem to go down well. But I don't want to do them anymore.

I think perhaps, the reason that I'm having these thoughts is that I'm due to have an operation in a few weeks and I'm reassessing parts of my life. I feel the urge to chuck out lots of stuff and I want to create a really good impression of motherhood, in my kids minds. Just in case. I don't want them to remember me sitting at the computer. I want them to remember me playing with them, showing them how to do stuff, do doing domestic things. Its not that I don't do this, its more that I do seem to spend an increasing amount of time at the computer. Have I become addicted to blogging and the Internet? No, but I do enjoy the camaraderie of talking to other adults during the sometimes painfully long days with a toddler and baby.

So, the question at the moment is whether to move the computer upstairs to the study, blog very occasionally, give up totally and do other more homely type things and actually read a book or just put this down as a little phase I'm going through. Should I go back to basics? Don't feel obliged to comment, I'm having a bad day.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

A Bosnian Carnival

The British Mummy Bloggers Carnival is being hosted by those Brits in Bosnia this week. To head overseas for the best blogs of the last two weeks click here. Well done Fraught Mummy!

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Silver Cross Doodle High Chair Review

I've had this Doodle Highchair for a couple of weeks now (gifted to me from Silver Cross), the reason I haven't reviewed it sooner was that I really wanted to get a few weeks usage out of it before I made my comments. I have been through three highchairs, four if you include the Bumbo with its play-tray, in my 2 and a bit years of parenting. They all seemed good to start off with, it was only after a few weeks of use that I began to notice their failings.

This is what i think you need in a high-chair:
  1. Easy wipe clean surfaces

  2. A bit of padding to stop small heads from bumping themselves and little bottoms from going to sleep.

  3. Something to catch all the food that is wasted (ahem) thrown onto the floor by accident

  4. Easy un-clipable harnesses, the harness clip must be easy to do if your small baby chokes itself, but ultimately removable when the toddler doesn't want to wear it, or sit on it. I have to admit, because of the choking thing and because I have predominantly done baby led weaning I never actually use a harness.

  5. For small babies, I have found a pillar that goes in between the legs either attached to the tray, or built into the seat really helpful.

  6. An easy collapsible storage mechanism

So, onto the review:
The Silver Cross Doodle, is of the highchair type which converts into a table and chair for when your cute little baby turns into a terrible little monster and wants to scribble/ paint all over your cream sofas. As I have both varieties of children, the mechanism to do this is critical. You gotta be fair in our house, baby Fifi sits in the highchair to eat, Toddler Boy gets to use the table and chair. The mechanism to convert between the two is simple and easy and can be done whilst juggling a baby, trust me, ive tried!

The plus points for the Doodle is that it has the wipe clean surface and a brilliant harness. Aimed primarily at babies from 6 months old (although I used it on Fifi before that) as it has a fixed seat which does not recline backwards. Keeping a highchair clean is a really important aspect and it helps to be able to wipe it over and chuck bits into the dishwasher. For this, the Doodle is a doddle!

However, the highchair has a very wide base, as the table essentially forms the widest part of it. Therefore it is no good for using up against a dining room table. Since I like to eat as a family this really proved problematic. Also, its a bit too large to use in the kitchen as it takes up too much floorspace. So, Ive stopped using it as a highchair and returned to my trusty Chicco Happy Snack. Sorry Silver Cross!

To be honest, the highchair reminds me a bit of the Ikea Antilop which at £9.78 is over fifteen times cheaper than the Doodle which retails at £150. However, the Ikea chair doesn't come with the toddler table or the funky coloured bits. So, essentially, I think that what it comes down to is whether or not you think you will need a toddler table and whether you think that the admittedly funkier harness and colour combinations are worth the added money.

So, onto the table and chair option. The Doodle table and chair looks very cool and the chair is obviously really comfortable for a toddler as Toddler boy chooses it over the sofa every time. The table has handy clip in pots which attach to the side, so you can put pencils or drinks in there and a central lift out container compartment, which is sunk like a well into the middle of the table. This lifts out far too easily and to be honest Toddler boy has primarily used the table as a sort of climbing frame. He loves nothing more than diving through the hole in the middle which he makes by removing the central compartment. He uses the actual bucket compartment as a hat/ mask. He looks reminiscent of a sort of modern day bee-keeper.

The table can be stored flat, the legs come out of the table and the chair, but the chair cannot fold, so you are looking at quite a big thing to store. I found that the table and chair was essentially too large for our living room. It looked nice, but took up too much room. Toddler boy was keen to use the chair at our coffee table, but the actual table lost interest for him. You can buy additional chairs which is a bonus.
Would I buy it? Personally, no, the days where design over-rides function are long gone for me. However, if you have a large, modern house I reckon this would look super-cool in your kitchen.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

The Longest Ten Minutes of My Life

Toddler boy has this really smelly bunny, he cuddles it, sucks its ear and has adventures with it. He loves it more than mummy, daddy and baby Fifi. He loves it more than chocolate, crisps and coca-cola. He loves it more than anything else in the whole wide world.

Hubby has a fear of spiders.

The day was a typical North Norfolk one; bright, big blue sky and gentle wind (OK, well make that hurricane force gales). What better weather to take a trip on the Wells- Walsingham light railway. The longest 10 and a quarter inch narrow gauge steam railway in the world. How exciting! Toot- toot, chuffa, chuffa, chuffa and other railway like noises.

The journey began well, with an air of excitement and the chance to grab the best seats. Ones that are covered, but open at the sides, adding that element of Health and Safety danger only allowed at the sea-side. Twenty minutes into the journey, Toddler boy was bursting with excitement, Fifi had been lulled to sleep and I was thinking, to be honest, that it was a bit boring as it seemed to be taking quite a long time. I have no patience and require immediate gratification. Hubby can vouch for this. Hubby was proudly showing me how he was sitting with stinky bunny on his lap, its ear sort of flapping in the wind. I thought to myself that he was taking a risk, but its not for me to spoil the holiday fun.

THEN, a so called MASSIVE black spider fell off the roof and onto hubby's lap. All of a sudden he jumped up in fright (only a bit ) as I'm not aware of him hitting his NUMB SKULL. And with that stinky bunny flew right out of the train. In slow motion. The train carried on its way, toot toot, cuffa chuffa chuffa. Our very souls stayed where they were.

Hubby looking distraught conveyed this message to me using his best telepathy "Sh**, Christ, OMG, Ive lost bunny, I'm so sorry, don't divorce me"

I replied "People must do this all the time".

I thought " Bl**dy idiot, MEN, cant be trusted, OMG, must distract the boy, OMG that's it, the end of the world"

Toddler boy; "BUN, BUUUUUN!!" (his name for it)

Me; "Bun-bun is in the car"

Toddler Boy; "Noooooooaaaaaaooooooo"

Hubby; "sob, sob"

Me; "Hes gone for a ride with the driver, hes driving the train"

The journey is then one of quiet awkward silence except for the occasional sob and wail of "bun- bun"

The longest ten minutes of my life, my heart was pounding, I began to have the fight/ flee response inclinations. We needed a miracle.

Can I just say, controversially no doubt, that in my opinion this sort of thing is really something that happens when men are involved, any woman would have made sure that the most precious possession on board the train would be secure. In all circumstances. This opinion is backed up by the train drivers comment when I asked about recovering bunny he said "it happens all the time, wallets, cameras, phones...". He didn't say purse did he.

On to the second longest ten minutes of my life, the return journey. Hubby was a bit distressed, sitting, a man on the edge, mentally and on his seat as he was acting as back-up bunny collector in case the driver failed to get it. Luckily I had managed to distract Toddler boy effectively and he really did think that bunny was driving the train. I sat there, sending out he had better be recovered vibes. A thought ran through my head "what if he has been run over by the train?" I pictured his stuffing blowing away gently, wistfully, in the breeze. It could have been like Watership Down. It was heading that way. I conveyed this discretely to hubby. He said I was ten million times wrong, it would defy the laws of physics. A flicker of further worry crossed his angst ridden face.

The train slowed, other passengers jostled in a sort of hushed emergency manner. Toot toot, an arm reached out and recovered bunny. Sigh! A massive massive relief. The third longest section of a train journey and we were back. Bunny had been driving the train! The journey was life-changing, it revealed, several things:
  • Men can be stupid
  • The importance of bunny
  • Time slows in times of strife
  • Children can be distracted
  • Never, ever, go on the worlds longest narrow gauge railway without attaching precious things to you with a lanyard.
  • Never let hubby hold the baby in circumstances where spiders might appear, who knows what could have happened!
  • Try not to let your child get attached to anything!
Poor hubby, I forgive you, I realise its not your fault you are a man!

Seaside Beach!

I've been away holidaying in North Norfolk. As I couldn't steal anyone's Wi-Fi, despite it being Chelsea -on -sea, or perhaps because it is, some of you will have noticed a distinct lack of posting. To bring you up to date, here's some of what happened:

Holkham Beach on the hottest day of the year

Cley Beach is good for throwing stones!

Brancaster Beach is great for kids

Cley Bird Reserve (someone didn't realise that you had to pay)

We also went on a boat trip to seal the seals at Blakeney Point, visited the sea-life centre in Hunstanton which needs refurbishing, travelled on the Wells- Walsingham light railway and lost Toddler Boy's comforter bunny (more on this episode later). Several feasts of lollipops, fish and chips and pizza kept us going through the obvious strenuous activity and we used up an entire bottle of suntan cream. All in all lots of fun, now I'm off to do the washing.


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