Friday, 25 February 2011

New baby!!

Quite an eventful few days as it turns out...

On Monday night at 9.08pm new baby was born.  For the sake of internet privacy, on the blog I think we'll call her Daisy, because she looks so delicate and pretty, but I'm pretty sure that she'll turn out to be tougher than she looks!

She was two weeks early and didn't hang around.  

Ten things I have learned in the last 4 days about having a toddler and a newborn baby:

  1. As soon as I start feeding the baby, toddler needs a cuddle.
  2. Don't hang around when you get a chance to sleep - take that nap!
  3. Toddler will be concerned when baby cries, but isn't too sure that they want you to pick baby up for a cuddle.
  4. Don't forget to eat.  You end up dizzy and nauseous.
  5. Toddler will want to know where baby is the whole time, and preferably to be able to cuddle them and kiss them, perhaps climb into their bouncy chair or Moses basket.
  6. It's important that every time a neighbour or friend starts to coo over the new baby, that you tell the neighbour what a good big brother the toddler is being, and how proud you are of them.
  7. A few new quiet toys or books are a good idea.  You can bring them out or draw attention to them when you sit down to feed the baby (use the sofa and not an armchair) and encourage the toddler to come and sit next to you and look at them.
  8. However much you understand that your toddler is having a hard time adjusting - don't ease up on your behaviour expectations.  These early days is when it's more important than ever to establish that your boundaries still stand.  If you tell him not to do something, and he carries on, then even if you are feeding your baby, get up and go and stop him from doing it.  If you threaten some discipline, then carry it out.  You're going to need him to know that you still mean what you say even if you're tired and have a baby attached to you.
  9. Spend some time when baby is asleep doing something that you know your toddler enjoys - baking, painting, colouring or drawing, playing in the garden etc.  Forget the housework for a bit (unless that's what your toddler enjoys doing with you), and focus on your toddler, who needs to know that you still have time for them.
  10. Where possible, always find space on your lap for your toddler to sit if they want, even if you are feeding the baby, eating and talking on the phone all at once.  Always have space in your arms and on your lap for your toddler, even if they have to share it.
It's early days yet, and these are just my first impressions.  I have no idea yet if this is good advice, or whether I'll turn out able to live up to any of it.  Here's to the attempt though.  If anybody has any advice to add to my list - then please comment and let me know...

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Thoughts... on materialism

How much do we rely on the material things around us?  How easy is it to break that reliance?  

I'm not talking about expensive stuff here - just stuff to buy.  Do we really need to buy bed-guards for Little C's big boy bed?  Am I thinking I need them just because everybody else gets them?  Will he quickly learn to stay still at night time after falling out a couple of times?  

I'm trying to clear out some of the books and videos and CDs that we really don't need or use, but we just seem to keep acquiring more.  Do we need to buy stuff - or could we get more community minded and share/borrow more often, or hire?  Why do we feel the need to own things?  I look at my shopping list - a new clock radio because mine buzzes constantly, a honey drizzler, new plates and bowls for toddler - how much of this do I need, and how much do I just want?

I'm thinking of buying new clothes when I've returned to my normal shape post-pregnancy - but I have tonnes of clothes that aren't worn out - do I need to buy new ones, or am I just wanting to get new ones because the media and the material world in which we live suggests that you need to buy new clothes all the time?  Do I just want to buy new things to make me feel better and improve my self-image after a long period with a huge belly?  Is there a better, more long-lasting and healthier (not to mention cheaper) way for me to feel good about myself and my body?

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Things to make and do...

A post (here) on a blog that I follow "Sew Liberated" led me to Google "Nikki McClure" and I found several books by her and also her website (here).  I love the idea of "Things to make and do" towards developing a more homely, less materialistic world to live in.  I wonder if that's the direction that this blog will take in the end... 
At the moment I appreciate that its a little haphazard, and lets face it, with another imminent arrival I don't think that's going to change any time soon.  Random thoughts / whatever I've managed to remember to take a photo of / an occasional recipe or craft item.

Today has been an odd sort of day.  Baby is now 37 weeks gestation and thus termed "fully cooked" and is allowed to be born at any time (but preferably not until the new car seat arrives or I've got some more of the stuff on my list done!)  This morning I woke up having a rock solid stomach for about 20 minutes (that's a pretty long and pretty uncomfortable Braxton Hicks contraction!).  
I decided a change of position might help ease it off.  It didn't.  I got an excruciating pain on the left hand side of my bump, low down near my hip which caught me so off guard that I shouted out loud (at 6.10am).  Big C found himself conscious very swiftly and tried to help me but lying still or trying to move was just agony.  Eventually he managed to get me rolled over and the pain subsided.  Who knows what it was, but he remembers that I suffered similarly the afternoon before I went into labour last time, and hopes it might be a sign of imminent arrival.  Sadly my shouts had woken Little C, but he was full of beans and ready to start the day at full pelt so I was able to put any remaining discomfort to one side and focus on my whirlwind of a son.

My original plan for the morning had been a trip to our local RSPB reserve to see what a "hide" is, look through binoculars, see what wildlife we could see, and have a hot chocolate and cake in the cafe, but having started the morning with such an unexpected pain and with rain forecast for the day I thought we'd give it a miss.  By about 9am though Little C had brought me his welly boots with an accompanying "walk, walk".  
We needed to get some milk, so I thought we'd drive to the next village, get the milk and stop for a short walk at an amazing gorge on the way back.  All went well, the gorge is still amazing and he loved stomping around in the mud, though I was a little cautious as there were steep drops to the raging torrent below.  Then we got back to the car - and it didn't start.  
It's been having a few problems starting over the last month or so, something to do with the battery I think, and I had been meaning to get it booked in for a check-up, particularly since I want to sell it soon.  Because I had come out only for some milk and a short walk I had only brought my phone and a couple of pounds - no filofax (with AA card and lots of phone numbers), no pushchair, nothing very useful at all for a 37 week pregnant lady broken down with a toddler.  My phone has only a few numbers in - I phoned Big C at work to get the AA number - no answer, he was busy sticking big needles into patients as it turns out, and probably best not disturbed.  I phoned my friend H, she came to the rescue with her girls and a spare car seat too.  I couldn't find the jump leads in my garage, so we decided to leave the car where it was until Big C got home, and we went back to H's for tea and cake (and then lunch).  When I got home Big C had left a worried message on my phone and the home number... he was a little concerned that he might have been out of contact when I went into labour.  I reassured him that I was well, and that it was just the car that was poorly.

Thankfully the remainder of the day went better.  A good long nap for both Little C and me, and then a long snuggle watching Winnie the Pooh, then Big C came home early, found the jump leads, got the car started, brought it home and all is well again.

I still feel a little frazzled, but since I've just ordered the fabric for all the projects in Little C's new bedroom, and am just about to tick off another job that's been on my "to do" list for ages, I'm hoping that by the time my head touches the pillow tonight I'll be in a calmer state of mind.  Also, since this morning's performance, apart from a good few reassuring wriggles from baby, everything has been calm in my uterus all day, so hopefully a good night's sleep on the way.

Random photos from my albums this time - just ones that I liked, because I've hardly taken any the last few days.

Friday, 11 February 2011


Here's my project to-do list at the moment.  And I'm hoping I get at least some of them completed before the baby arrives - which I shouldn't really say because it panics me somewhat, especially given the discomfort that baby is causing at the moment and my wishes that it would get a move on and come out so I can be comfortable again.  I hope Big C doesn't see this blog post, because he already despairs at my to-do lists and projects and so on.  I haven't been very crafty lately either, as I've just felt too exhausted - so come on inspiration and creativity lets get a sudden spurt of energy!  (Maybe the really strong - but ok in pregnancy - painkillers I was prescribed today for my SPD and the promise of a physio appointment at some point will allow a decent night's sleep and that will be all I need!
Traffic Jam - Primary - £8.95 per metreAnyway, here's the list:
  • Sort out my clothes and find all suitable breast-feeding ones that fit a post-pregnant body
  • wash the bedding for the moses basket
  • pack the bag for the hospital
  • put together the bouncy chair
  • make my big sis an easy beginners version of a patchwork quilt/throw for her birthday (this is where I find out if she's found my blog or not!)
  • pull out all the baby clothes again, this time not to find the 0-3 month ones, but to find anything that used to be white and is now grey or stained.
  • put all grey or stained baby clothes, nappies, sheets etc. in the washing machine in three different loads with 3 different colours of fabric dye - rainbow baby!
  • finish hooded poncho towel thing for Little C - it's sewn, but I need to dye it and sew on some binding to neaten up the seams (too thick for the sewing machine, well it's a new machine and I don't want to risk it anyway!).
  • Measure up Little C's new "big boy" bedroom for duvet cover, curtains and bean bag.
  • Make curtains, bean bag and bedding for Little C's "big boy" bedroom (if this one doesn't get done I do have a back up - my brilliant mum is coming to stay for a couple of weeks once Big C finishes his paternity leave, and has said she'll do this if I haven't got around to it).
  • Get my Scout Training portfolios up to date before I forget all about them for a couple of months.
  • Make sure the District Scout Training stuff is all up-to-date so that I can keep updating over the next couple of months without too much effort.
That's it for now, but it still seems like an awful lot of stuff to fit into the three and a half weeks before baby is due, especially while still looking after a toddler, keeping the house clean, trying to manage the garden whenever the weather and I feel up to it, attempting to walk the dog, and feeling a lot of pain and getting no sleep!

Saturday, 5 February 2011

My Son has Birds in his head...


My son has birds in his head.

I know them now. I catch
the pitch of their calls, their shrill
cacophonies, their chitterings, their coos.
They hover behind his eyes and come to rest
on a branch, on a book, grow still,
claws curled, wings furled.
His is a bird world.

I learn the flutter of his moods, 
his moments of swoop and soar.
From the ground I feel him try
the limits of the air - 
sudden lift, sudden terror - 
and move in time to cradle
his quivering, feathered fear.

At evening, in the tower,
I see him to sleep and see
the hooding-over of eyes, 
the slow folding of wings.
I wake to his morning twitterings,
to the croomb of his becoming.

He chooses his selves - wren, hawk,
swallow or owl - to explore
the trees and rooftops of his heady wishing.
Tomtit, birdwit.
Am I to call him down, to give him
a grounding, teach him gravity?
Gently, gently.
Time tells us what we weigh, and soon enough
his feet will reach the ground.
Age, like a cage, will enclose him.
So the wise men said.

My son has birds in his head.


Big C found this poem.  It sums up Little C perfectly.  We love it.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Theme for the month

While I love to be spontaneous, spur-of-the-moment and that sort of thing.  For the most part I am a planner.  I like to be organised.  I may have mentioned before - but I like lists.  I like to have things written down.

The same goes for activities with a toddler.  Often I'll think of something and we'll just go and do it - taking advantage of weather conditions for a walk in the woods.  Realising that the oven will be on for a long time for dinner, so taking the opportunity to do some baking.  Little C brings me his play dough, or starts dragging the easel around, so it's time for some play dough or painting.  I also like to have some sort of loose structure or outline to some of our activities though.  I don't want to get stuck in a rut of the same old same old activities and miss out on something.  

So I've come up with the idea of "20 Topics and Themes for Toddlers and Pre-schoolers".  I'm hoping that if I develop the idea, and produce the resources that go with it, I can either sell it on-line in ring-binder format, or I can get it properly published as a book (that would be awesome!).  I actually had the idea over a year ago, and came up with a list of topics that I thought a baby/toddler might be interested in, and ideas for activities that would fit in with them.  The way I work it is that we have a theme for a month, and then move on to a different one.  For each theme I have a whole list of art and craft ideas; songs, books and rhymes that fit with the theme; ideas for trips out and visits; things to cook; opportunities for looking at words and numbers and so on.  We don't timetable anything in or anything like that, we just kind of bear the theme in mind when we are thinking of what to do, and prepare activities to fit with the theme, so that when the moment is right, everything is ready to go.  I've now modified the list for toddlers through to pre-schoolers, with the idea that you can revisit the theme a couple of times over the few years before your child goes to school, and select/gear activities appropriate to your child's stage of development.

I'll give you an example.  For this February, our topic is "Birds".  
  • In his "theme box" we'll have feathers, bird books, RSPB magazine, toy birds and so on.  
Some of the things we plan to do:
  • The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch (actually that's this weekend, but it'll kick off the theme).
  • Go to our nearest RSPB reserve and I'll introduce him to the idea of a wildlife hide, watching birds and binoculars (and we'll have a hot choc and a cake in the cafe to warm up afterwards).
  • If we can manage it we'll go and watch the Red Kites being fed at a place about 45 minutes away.
  • We'll feed and watch the birds in the garden, give them fresh water and nesting materials.
  • We'll make recycled bird feeders.
  • We'll make a fatty bird cake.
  • I'm hoping he'll pick up some names of birds, and other words like nuts and seeds, nest etc.
  • We'll do some paintwash paintings and stick on silhouettes of birds.
  • I'll make some origami birds for him to destroy (oops, I meant play with).
  • I've made some cards up with different birds on so that we can match pairs.
  • We might cut out some pictures of birds from the RSPB magazine and stick them on to a foliage background to make a collage type picture.
  • We'll go and feed the ducks at a nearby pond.
So you see this stuff isn't rocket science, and it's all stuff that most toddlers and pre-schoolers can manage and should have the opportunity to do at some point.  By organising it into a theme and doing it all in one month, I'm hoping that he'll be able to make connections between the different activities more easily, and it means that these activities won't somehow get left behind in the everyday walking the dog, napping, eating, bedtime routine.