Thursday, April 29, 2010

Baby-Led Weaning

Whoops - I've just realised quite how long it's been since my last post, many apologies. I've been very busy, doing stuff to the garden which I've been saving up for a big blog post, but haven't managed to finish, so haven't posted. And now the weather is awful, and we've all come down with a nasty sinusy bug so nothing more is getting done, so I thought I'd better write about something else.

Despite being ill, J-cub seems to have got over his aversion to food which has marred the first 4 months of this year. I've mentioned before that we are doing baby-led weaning (BLW), which essentially involves giving J-cub the food we eat (albeit in a low-salt, sugar-free way which means we have to eat cookies after he goes to bed), the way we eat it (so no purees, no mashed food, no aeroplaning spoons into his mouth). He's been refusing to eat on and off for months, and as this method is baby-led, and as he's still getting enough nutrition from milk, we don't force him to eat. He's been happy to eat some cereal, some toast, all the fruit he can get his hands on, and bucketfuls of yoghurt. But anything else we've really struggled with. He's had the odd day here and there, where he's shovelled down a stir-fry or some lasagne, but on the whole he's been too poorly and too busy to take time out for eating.

Since our 2-week break from nursery over Easter, where he got healthier and happier day by day, he's started eating again. And eating. And EATING. He seems to be making up for all those days when he didn't want to eat, by cramming as much into his mouth at once as he can, and frequently eating adult-sized portions of food, followed by several pieces of fruit and a large bowl of yoghurt.

I think I've done quite well not getting stressed out by his diet, and not having reduced his milk-intake has really helped this. Nursery have been happy to follow my lead here, and have often given him extra bottles of milk at lunchtime when he's refused to eat a single mouthful. We've now cracked that problem, by getting them to agree to feed him at 1pm (when he eats at home) instead of 11.30am (when they serve lunch at nursery). They tried it for the first time on Tuesday, and when he came home his diary read "Beef chilli and rice - ate all" - yay!

I'm sure there'll be plenty of times in the future when he'll live on air, and other times when he'll eat like a horse, but I'm just pleased that now I can start thinking about proper meals again, rather than buying nothing but fruit and large pots of plain yoghurt.

Now, as always, some photos to document his eating over the last few weeks:

Perching on the edge of a collapsible box, munching a ricecake and proudly showing off the size of his stomach

Wolfing down spaghetti bolognaise and yoghurt. Why is there a duck-shaped watering can on his tray, you ask? Because he grabbed it from his vantage point in the trolley in B&Q, and has refused to be parted from it since

Loving his Daddy's knee in the hope that he might get to share some Weetabix. He'd already had his breakfast at this point, but over the last week or so he has had no less than 3 breakfasts - 1) his own, sitting with me at the table, 2) his Daddy's, when Daddy is trying to eat quickly before work and 3) at nursery, when he bats his eyelids and tells them we don't feed him at home
This stance is accompanied by much angst-filled knee-bouncing and wailing, until the spoon goes in his direction

He's also perfected the 'twist', for those times when the spout is at the wrong side of the cup

Pure joy while eating a pear - he also fed me and Jemaine (his giraffe) choice morsels, and chased Tilly around with it for a bit until she escaped onto the chair

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

And nothing to do with food - but I love this photo. I was cuddling him before I left for work and my kisses caused him to go into raptures of giggles. Bless.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Back to school

I seem to suddenly have reached the end of the Easter holidays, and woke up this morning with a feeling of imminent doom and not-wanting-to-go-to-workness. Realising that these types of feelings are becoming all too common, I'm doing my best to push them down and out of the way. I have to work. There is no option, and I should be (and am) thankful that I get 4 days off a week. Having worked full-time since I graduated, that should feel like a blessed relief, but I'm just spending all my time moaning that I'm not a stay-at-home-mum. And it's going to STOP.

I made that decision when I woke up this morning, and instead of spending the day malingering and whining and worrying about tomorrow, I've spent the day gardening in the glorious sunshine, and playing with my beautiful bubba, and getting the house clean and tidy ready for my mum who's coming to stay on Thursday (and of course I won't have time to tidy over the next 3 days because I'll be at work, grrrr).

It really has been the best holiday; I think you appreciate it all the more when a) the weather is perfect, b) you have someone to get up for in the morning, c) that someone makes you feel like getting out and about rather than languishing on the sofa and d) it's your first holiday since you've been back at work.

So here's my combined list/photo-diary of our holiday, which also serves as a Reasons to be Cheerful reminder:

1) Took J-cub to be measured for shoes again, and the ones he got in December still fit. That's £24 saved, and he LOVES playing in the shoe-store. Mirrors, squishy purple blocks to slap, other people's children to stare at: Clarks has it all. Also, this photo makes me wish I had twins. Double the fun ;)

2) Had the best day EVER at the beach. I honestly don't think the joy J-cub experienced could ever be beaten. And this photo, of my two boys, makes me so happy.

3) We were supposed to go to J-cub's two best-friends' first birthday parties during the holidays. Sadly, he was too poorly for the first one, but managed to be in top form for party #2, and he greatly enjoyed the cake.

4) Blatantly disregarding the 3-8 years age limit in our village playground, we've been taking J-cub to play on the swings and slide in the gorgeous evenings. He loves the slide more than anything.

5) J-cub is getting more interested in what I'm doing in the kitchen, and likes to stand by the fridge playing with the magnets, especially the magnetic spirit level. His mouth is also the perfect height to suck the kitchen cabinet knobs.

6) Being on holiday means we've been able to shift J-cub's routine from sleeping 7-7, to 8-8. That means we can pick up Jamie from work when he finishes at 7pm; waiting for him on the grass by the river watching the crazy teenagers jumping off the bridge.

7) J-cub made friends with the boys I work with, and drove them crazy while they were trying to play Wii.

8) We went for loads of walks through the woods, which were blissfully cool and peaceful.

9) J-cub started spending a large proportion of his day in the downward dog position, or standing on his head as we like to call it. Which is just ridiculously cute.

10) Spring has most definitely sprung. We went to a garden centre today, and spied a whole load of little ducklings beetling around on the pond.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Working from home

It's coming to the end of my Easter holidays now, and while the 2 weeks off have been blissful, I've spent most of this week a) coming down with J-cub's lurgy, b) revelling in J-cub getting better but dreading him going back to all the germs at nursery and c) thinking about how much I miss my maternity leave and being a stay-at-home-mum and how much I don't want to go back to work on Monday.

I'm consoling myself with the thought that it won't be overly long until the Summer holidays, and hopefully I can wangle myself out of working during the holidays as much as possible.

Which I'm apparently quite adept at doing - yesterday was the only day during the holidays I'd agreed to work, and talking to my boss on Tuesday evening I persuaded him to drop my charges off here rather than trekking out to work at their house.

They are totally enamoured with J-cub and all his toys (despite being just 10, they spent the whole day making sweeping statements such as "We didn't have cool toys like these when we were babies, we just had a jack-in-the-box"), and weren't too old to enjoy lying in his ballpit and stacking cups for him to knock over. The two boys shared their lunch with J-cub and proclaimed BLW to be much better than 'shoving spoons in his mouth', and while he napped we played Star Wars Monopoly with the Clone Wars DVD playing in the background.

Later in the afternoon we went for a walk through the woods, stood on the railway bridge and waved while a coal train beeped and whooshed below us, leaving the boys with hair standing on end and bright red cheeks, ate ice-creams and had a rather awkward conversation about breastfeeding.

I really shouldn't complain about my job, it's not really like much work goes on ;)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Why eating sand is perhaps not a good idea...

... or 'Things you never imagined you'd have to do as a Mother'.

Since our delightful trip to the beach on Saturday, J-cub's tummy has been getting firmer, and rounder, and bigger, and harder, and nothing has passed out the other end to ease the situation. This is not that unusual - as a baby he would only go once every 5 or 6 days (to the jealousy of all my mum friends whose breastfed babies went 7 or 8 times a day) and since he's been on solids he's regularly gone 2 or 3 days between 'movements' (ahhh so delicate, let's see how long that lasts in this post).

Last night, we had sporadic bouts of screaming between 9pm and midnight, and Jamie reported that he was drawing his knees up to his chest. In the absence of any other bright ideas, we gave him an extra bottle and he happily went to sleep for the rest of the night.

We've had a pretty normal morning today, playing, bouncing, singing, reading, napping, eating a good breakfast and lunch and drinking his mid-morning bottle happily.

Until about an hour ago, when J-cub, who was happily cruising around the furniture, suddenly started SCREAMING. I don't mean having a little bit of a whinge; I mean his full on, red-faced, tears streaming down his cheeks, breath-drawn-in-but-can't-get-it-out-again-cos-it's-so-SO-bad, end of the world scream. I rushed to his side, thinking he'd hurt himself. There was nothing in his immediate vicinity that he could have hurt himself on, and he climbed onto my knee, gripping my shoulders and standing upright, continuing to scream and silently begging me for help. And I realised that between his screams, he was doing his poo-face, and he was straining. Straining more than he'd ever strained in his life. My baby was giving birth.

I held him while stood on my knees, shifting his weight rapidly from foot to foot, pushing his back against my hand as I rubbed circles on his back, coaching him through each push and desperately trying to think what I could do. This went on for a whole episode of Big Barn Farm, which I believe is about 15 minutes long. I was getting desperate (and deafened from the screaming), he was going to explode if I didn't do anything soon.

Remembering how, when he was little, bicycling his legs would help with a bad bout of wind, I lay him down on the change mat and circled those little legs for all they were worth. His little face looked up at me, scared and hurt and desperate, begging me to make it stop.

I took his nappy off to see what progress was being made, and found a teeny-tiny solid ball of poo rolling around, and the rest of it evidently stuck half in, half out (which is what happened when J-cub was born, his head crowned and he just stopped. I had a tiny moment of glee, thinking "Ha! Now you know what it feels like!" before remembering who I was talking to). My brain jumped into childbirth-mode, and I thought "Right, let's get you in the bath, and you can have a waterbirth. That's got to help, right?"

Dashing across the room to get a nappy to wrap him up in to carry him upstairs, I heard the most unholy scream and turned round to see my darling baby boy had given birth to the most monstrous shit I'd ever seen. Ahhhh bless.

On closer inspection (honestly, non-mums, you do it, and you get used to doing it, and in time you come to enjoy it), there was an awful lot of small, packed, grainy balls of something unidentifiable in there. I had been racking my brains to remember what we'd given him that was round, when I suddenly remembered the beach, and this rather too frequent hand-to-mouth movement:
Which resulted in this face:
Which I think solves our mystery. He's now trotting around, as happy as a clam (a clam who hasn't been eating sand), and his stomach is about half the size it was before.

Thank you for listening.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Sun ... take some time, get away

We had the most glorious day today. It was J-cub's first proper experience of the beach (as previously he's been too tiny to properly appreciate it). He LOVED it. I think this photo says it all, although I took about a thousand more!

Friday, April 9, 2010


Do you remember this? After far too long, I've figured out how to attach it to the ceiling above J-cub's cot, and it's now in situ, helping him to stay up way past his bedtime every day.

He loves it. And we've discovered that by twisting it one way, it spins the other way when released (funny, that). J-cub LOVES it, and we spent a happy 5 minutes before bathtime excitedly watching it.

Also in his room is a hot air balloon I crocheted, with a little pink bunny sitting in the basket. It was supposed to have a bear, but the bunny seemed to enjoy the ride more. I crocheted this for him not long after he was born, I think, and it hung in the lounge above the travel cot where he used to have his daytime naps. It's now moved to his bedroom, and is equally spinny-fun-making.

Finally, there's his collection of little crocheted friends, which I made while I was pregnant. Some were from free Internet patterns, but most were from the same source as the bird mobile and the hot air balloon: these fab books by Ana Paula Rimoli. If you have a crocheting bone in your body, I highly recommend you check them out, as the designs are beautiful, and they make perfect baby-presents. And if I can do them, anyone can, as I'd never picked up a crochet hook before the last couple of months of my pregnancy.

I need to get back into it, as I've been on a bit of a hiatus since I finished the bird mobile, which took me forever to complete. My fingers are very itchy in the evening, and I think having something to do stops my brain from going too loopy in the quiet-times after J-cub has gone to sleep. What I really need, is to get up the duff again, so I can make something for the new baby. Not that I'm at all broody, oh-ho no ;)

Does my bum look big in this?

We're now at the end of our second week of using Mother-ease cloth nappies, and it's been a resounding success. It's bin day today, and rather than putting out a binbag chock-full of nappies from the upstairs and downstairs nappy bins, there were no more than a dozen or so disposable nappies, from overnight (J-cub is a very heavy wetter and we didn't fancy his chances in a cloth overnight) and from one day last week where he had a dodgy bum.

We've got 15 cloth nappies, which is enough to wash every 3 days (at a push) or every 2 days with time to get them dry. And with some experimentation, we've discovered that a pop-in booster (to absorb extra wetness) and a fleece liner (to wick away moisture) keeps him nice and dry for between 3 to 4 hours.

My main problem is that most of his clothes no longer fit him. At birth, J-cub weighed 8lb12oz, but he lost around 12% of his birthweight and was very slow to regain it, due to our problems with feeding. I knew I was having a big baby, so we had lots of 0-3 month sized clothes, and just a couple of Newborn sized vests. We had to quickly rectify that (everyone told me not to buy many clothes as we'd be inundated with gifts of packs of vests and the like. All of our friends evidently knew that, and elected not to inundate us, which resulted in us having NO gifts of clothes, so we had to make emergency trips to Tesco at 2am to buy Newborn sized vests, and sleepsuits, and socks when we realised that everything else was swamping him). He was in Newborn clothes for 5 weeks, and then quickly zoomed up through the sizes. At 7 months old, he was in 12-18 month clothing. Luckily, his growth has slowed since then (I say luckily, as we couldn't afford to keep going through a year's worth of clothing in 6 months), and at 13 months old he's only just growing out of the 12-18 month size.

Of course, I've been stocking up on the next size in the sales, buying bits and bobs of 18-24 month clothes here and there. But with his new, massive, cloth bum, none of that fits him. And the 2-3 size is ridiculously long in the leg.

When he went into the 12-18 month size, I managed to buy 4 pairs of cord dungarees off ebay for the bargain price of £8. 3 of the pairs are Osh Kosh B'Gosh, which I think must be cut for cloth bums as they have always been massive on his bum, and now look perfect. They are about the only thing other than jogging bottoms which still fit him, but heavy cord is not really what you're looking for in a light summer wardrobe.

I've had a look around websites like Frugi, which sell clothes cut for cloth bums, but they are well out of my price range (bearing in mind that I consider £7 Tesco trousers to be out of my price range). And I'm not really in an ebaying mood at the moment (which, trust me, is a Good Thing). My only option is to crack out the sewing machine, and make some myself. My main problem with that is that I'm much more comfortable working with heavy fabrics like cord or denim, as they seem to be more forgiving of mistakes. I've never worked with any sort of stretchy fabric, which would seem ideal for accommodating a big bum. I'm going to have to bite the bullet though, and give it a go. If only he were a girl, then he could just wear dresses and be done with it.

My lovely Mum (and Dad) came to visit earlier this week, and whilst discussing this problem, and demonstrating how nicely his Osh Kosh dungies fit him, she offered to knock up a few pairs in a lightweight summer fabric (my Mum is a genius sewer). She traced the OK's on a piece of newspaper, and cantered off home, stopping to buy some lightweight checked summer cotton at her favourite fabric store on the way. She's back in a couple of weeks time to help me knock the garden into shape, so hopefully he'll have some lovely new outfits to wear by then. In the meantime, my parents kindly went to Tesco and bought him 2 pairs of stretchy jogging bottoms so we have an alternative to making him wear his PJ's all day.

Thanks, Mum and Dad.

Yesterday was our first properly hot and sunny day. And, for the first time, I got the nappies drying on the line. It was lovely, and I felt nice and smug.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!

What a difference a year makes - this time last year I remember it being warm and sunny, a friend came to visit and we sat outside with J-cub asleep in his moses basket, before going for a walk in the Mumbles while the sun set. Today it's not so bad as it has been over the last week; at least it's not raining, but it is freezing. We took J-cub out to play in the garden for a bit and wrapped him up warm in his hooded bear coat. Last year he was just wearing a vest and sleepsuit (although I was probably not quite as good then as I am now at knowing how many layers to put on him. It's quite shocking, looking back through old videos, in how many of them he is shivering. BAD mummy).

We've all had a lovely day today, although J-cub wasn't well enough to go to his best friend Poppy's birthday party, which made us all sad. He has cut another tooth (his tenth - half way there!) which might account for his runny bum yesterday, and for part of his cold symptoms and temperature. He perked up considerably this afternoon, and enjoyed playing in his ballpit and learning to stack cups.

He also amazed us earlier, when he was standing up holding onto his toy basket with one had, and turned around to look at me. I offered him a piece of toast, which he took with his free hand, then let go with his other hand and stood there eating it! I swear he practises when we're not looking.

Anyway, the point of this post is to wish people a Happy Easter, and to show how thankful I am that Cadbury's decided not to change their Wispa egg packaging from last year to this year.

What a difference a year makes:
2009 - Aged 4 weeks

2010 - Aged 1 year, 3 and a half weeks

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A Day in Pictures

I've started writing about 20 different blog posts today, but gave up on all of them. Instead, I've decided to share some of the hundreds of photos I take of my boy each day. Today has been (of course) marred by coughing, runny nose, diarrhoea and vomiting. When will it end???

We've still managed to have a lovely day though. I thought maybe there were too many photos here to post, but I don't really care. This blog is for me, as well as you, and I like them. So there.

07:00 Up at the crack of dawn, we decide to beat the Easter crowds and get our shopping done early after dropping Jamie off at the train station to go to Manchester to see his beloved United
07:15 - J-cub has a power nap
07:45 - Home and smug with all the shopping done
12:41 - J-cub is feeling poorly and hungry and tired
13:02 - Happily eating rice-cake, houmous and salmon before being sick everywhere
13:20 - Back to his favourite spot, resting on his fleece blanket
13:32 - Streaming with cold
13:34 - Playing some music
13:38 - Tired and grumpy and ready for bed
15:04 - J-cub went down for his nap at 13:45. At 14:30, after my lunch, I went back to bed too. It takes me ages to fall asleep, and I was just dropping off when I heard him banging around. New favourite game = balancing Things on Other Things. Jemaine and Blue Ted on the cot rail.
15:05 - Slapping the wall (J-cub is experienced at making the most noise possible in his cot)
15:06 - Waving for the camera
15:36 - More balancing - squishy ball on the back of the chair...
15:37 - ...and dummy on the back of the chair
16:42 - Walk to the duckpond with giraffe ears in place to quell the angry sobs caused by having his nappy changed
16:43 - I join in the giraffe-ear fun. I meant just to walk to the duckpond and back, but he kept looking up at me with such delight that I kept on walking. We walked for an hour, all around the woods surrounding our village. I was unprepared for the mud (wearing suede boots), the 2 massive hills (forgot my inhaler) and the effort of the walk (I managed to switch the Mei Tai from my front to my back without taking J-cub out, never done that before). We saw 2 ducks and 3 dogs and it was VERY exciting
18:06 - Tea of toast, yoghurt and pear to prevent any further bad tummyness. J-cub adores pears.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Fun on the Farm

I've been meaning to post this all week, but work and illness (Jacob's) have not allowed me any free time at all.

Last weekend, Nurse Rachel came to stay, as she'd only been here for a few hours at J-cub's family party and wanted to spend some more time with him. We hadn't really wanted to do anything other than relax all weekend, but talk somehow turned to zoo animals and before long we were googling our local zoo options. They turned out to be twofold: Anna Ryder Richardson's wildlife park (near Tenby), and Folly Farm (near, um, Tenby). It seems the two zoos in Wales (there may be more, I'm overgeneralising) are 5.8 miles apart. Not really the best business plan that.

After comparing websites and restaurants and baby facilities and number and type of animals, we elected to go to Folly Farm. I had been there several years ago, on a school trip, when I was caught up with trying to encourage the teachers that we were there to look at the animals, not to sit on benches while the children played on the adventure playgrounds. Since then, they have got themselves some giraffes, which got J-cub very excited at going.

It was a lovely day, all sunny and fresh and springlike, and after a relatively easy drive (only marred by some bizarre procession of walkers and policepeople which we got stuck behind for 15 minutes before they inexplicably vanished) we arrived bright and early (which seemed even earlier, as the clocks went forward overnight).

(Let's just have an aside about the clocks. The clocks went FORWARD. I thought, then, that when J-cub thought it was between 6 and 7, and therefore time to wake up, we would be delighted to see it say between 7 and 8 on our clock. Did that happen? Of course not. When J-cub woke for the day at 10 to 5 ... his body clock KNEW it was really 10 to 4. Did that stop him? No. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, he was happy wandering around downstairs and went down for his nap at 8am. He does it just to keep us on our toes, I'm sure).

Anyway, he was all alert and happy when we got there, and was happy poking around at the sheep, goats, pigs, ponies and donkeys in the farm bit and the iguanas, guinea pigs, rabbits, tortoises, birds, chipmunks and chicks in the pet bit. We had lunch, and a bottle and a nap in the buggy for J-cub, while I pushed him around and Jamie and Rachel played on the arcade game things. When he woke up we went down to see the giraffes, who were a-ma-zing. I mean, I know they're tall. But when you're confronted with one standing in front of you, and you're thinking "Crikey, that really is TALL...", and then another one walks up and you realise the one you were looking at is a youngster and his friend is towering above him, it screws with your perspective and makes you feel like falling over. Or maybe that's just me.

J-cub loved them, although his 'love' of giraffes is entirely inflicted by me, as I craved giraffes in the same way some women crave bananas and sardines when they're pregnant. I was convinced the baby would like giraffes, and bought giraffes left, right and centre. Luckily, he seems to echo this affinity, and drags Jemaine the giraffe with him wherever he goes.

After the giraffes, and a quick change of clothes as somebody had forgotten to change somebody else's nappy since they arrived (I'm not naming names), we looked round the rest of the zoo animals, most notable being the shaggy camels and the cute little meerkats. Who doesn't love a meerkat?

We had a big play in the massive indoor play centre/vintage funfair, then bought some crap souvenirs and drove home. Bearing in mind that it's March, I managed to get my face all sunburned, and walked around looking like a tomato for the rest of the evening.

J-cub further delighted us by waking up at 2.30am and screaming for hours, but that's another story.