Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Nocturnal Awakenings!

Just lately I've not been sleeping.... There are 3 reasons for this and all 3 of them live in this house with me!! First things first...

Generally I'm not a night owl, I've always been an up with the larks kind of person - well that was until I had a baby and realised that actually 8am isn't early, 7am is normal and 6am isn't unheard of. So in light of the enforced wake up time i skip off to bed about 10pm every night, whether it's a school night or a weekend, I need my sleep. However other beings have other ideas!

So, I creep up our stairs at the bedtime hour. It's worth saying that it's virtually impossible to creep up our stairs, even our cat sounds like a hippo when he hops up them. I don't think they've been replaced since 1901 when the house was built and my size 8's aren't going to sound dainty. I get to the landing and that's when Isla rouses. "Gummee, gummeee, gummee". So then instead of hopping into bed I'm replacing her dummy and perhaps shushing her back off to sleep. Job done, into bed, bliss.

Well only for about an hour because then the snoring has started. I like to get a head start on the sleeping business because I know sooner or later I will have the husband next to me snoring like a goodun, and I'll have to shove him on his side and hiss at him to STOP SNORING! Ok, so that's him dealt with, back to sleep.....

*BOOOOF!!!* That's Bobcat just jumped on my chest, a little sniff in my face and then settling down for a kip on my legs. Some nights I am so comatose that I don't feel him jump on me but in my dreams I get this weighty sensation that wakes me up to him sitting right on top of me. I love Bobcat to bits and because I feel guilty that he gets a bit less attention in our house since Isla's arrival I let him sleep wherever he likes. However some nights he doesn't just stay asleep. Sometimes he likes to leap all over the bedside tables, run up and down the stairs and Meeeeeoooww as loudly as he can. You see, we don't have a cat flap, so he's reliant on us to let him out and this is how he gets our attention.

So, there's a few good reasons that I'm not sleeping so good at the moment, but none of them are going anywhere and for that I'm glad! :-)

Monday, 29 November 2010

Gorgeous Wall Stickers

I LOVE wall stickers. I think they're great for transforming a room and a few weeks after getting Isla home from hospital I finished off her bedroom with these gorgeous wall stickers from Wee Gallery:

The designs are visually appealing for babies as they are high contrast patterns. I chose the woodland graphics above for Isla's room. She loved just looking at the animals at first and now she's talking she loves to name them and say "night-night" to them all at bedtime. I think they will help with her imagination and they're a break from the usual nursery decor. We love Isla's woodland!

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Tea and Crafting

So, I went to my knitting class and it was great! A real nice change to my usual weekday evenings, where I do the harem scarem commute from London to Surrey, making a dash so I don't miss bathtime and bedtime stories. On Tuesday night Daddy took over and gave me a break from The Very Hungry Caterpillar!

The class is run by Jane Gois and I found her site Tea and Crafting when I did a google search for knitting lessons. The site itself looked really inviting and friendly and that turned out to be the case on the night too. I spent 3 hours in the company of Jane and 5 other budding knitters. We were supplied with bamboo needles, a ball of wool, some printed notes and a lovely brew and muffin! Jane was very patient with us and showed us the ropes on casting on and off, plain, purl, moss stitches and chatted about other knitting related things. Once we got started we were all really into it and picked it up quickly. Memories of knitting with my Nan came back to me. She would always cast on for me and make all the first stitches and I'd take it from there. Now I can make all my own stitches, although I might still be calling on her to sort out my mistakes when I go wrong! It takes a lot of concentration at first but Jane told us that she had on occasion gone to the cinema and done her knitting in the dark, showing that you don't need to watch it all the time once you're experienced.

Just to prove the popularity of the Tea and Crafting a couple of the other girls had already done some of the other courses that Jane runs, and now I've completed this session I'd love to try crochet next. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and would recommend it to anyone who's thinking of trying something new or is a bit rusty and wants a refresher. I'm no expert but I think I might start off simple and knit squares to make a blanket, I'll keep you posted on my progress.
Photo above showing my efforts on Tuesday!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Knit One, Purl One

As mentioned in my previous post Seize the days – live life to the full! I’m off to a knitting class and I just remembered this morning that it’s TONIGHT!! Even though I write everything down in my diary I still can’t keep a handle on what I’m doing from one day to the next (bit scary considering I’m a project manager by profession....).
Anyway, the knitting class. I’m not sure what I’m expecting but my intentions when I signed up for it were to learn a new skill. I got obsessed with learning new skills after watching the BBC programme Survivors whereby a virus hits Earth and most of the population are wiped out, apart from a few social misfits who were immune. Obviously it’s a rather morbid thing to happen but it got me thinking if we had to survive it would be good to have skills that you could use to trade with other people until the world got back on its feet. My version of the TV programme would obviously be a bit more idealistic than what happened in the show, people seemed to prefer going round with guns and making threats to get all the things they needed to survive!! In my world it would work something like this: I would knit someone a jumper in exchange for 3 months supply of eggs, or a haircut – sound like quite fair trades to me!
I’ve done a bit of knitting before - well sort of! My Nan would teach me every now and then when I was younger as I would insist I wanted to learn. I would start the obligatory scarf (because this is all you can think of knitting when you’re about 8 years old!), get about 20 rows into it and see all the holes where I’d dropped stitches, get frustrated and give up. So tonight I’m hoping that with age on my side I won’t give up after a few hours, and perhaps if I set my sights on something a bit more exciting than a scarf I might find it an inspiring past time that I can in turn pass on to my little girl. I'm not sure I'll be skilled enough to dress the survivors of a Pandemic head to toe in knitted fashions but I'll do my best! More tomorrow.....

photo by Flickr user The Loopweaver

Tuesday, 9 November 2010


I love how Isla has become a sponge for words now. She seems to soak them up and it doesn't take her long to remember and use them. Although we are very fixated on 'eyes' and 'nose' (and of course 'gummee'!) at the moment. She doesn't just say them though, she likes to demonstrate that she knows exactly where they are and she does this by poking my eye out, or scratching the end of my nose! In the lucky event that I have my glasses on instead she says 'glatches' which I find funny and sweet everytime.

I'm loving that we're starting to be able to communicate. I can say things to her and I'm pretty sure that she understands about 50% of the time. However the other 50% of the time she communicates back by whining or saying 'No'. She rarely says yes. I say, "are you going to have a nice day today?" and the answer is "No". She usually says it followed by a little smirk as if she knows that she's being funny!

My current favourite Isla expression is "Owwww Nooooo" used when she drops something or falls over and sounding rather like Big Mo from Eastenders! The other one which I'm not quite sure about is when she's had a poo (sorry!) she says "bum". This is my cue to change her nappy and I'm very pleased that she is able to tell me this (although the smell is generally a give away!), but I've not been out and about with her yet when she's shouted "BUM" so not sure how I'll feel about it till then.

I'm enjoying this stage of her development immensely although I'm sure that with the growing vocab there will be some embarrassment on my part when she says words that I might not be quite so happy to hear in public!!

p/hop 2nd Birthday

Monday, 8 November 2010

Seize the Days - live life to the full!

I'm always very conscious of the limited time we spend on this earth and I like to make the best use of my time whenever I can. That's why the Lonely Planet book 132 Seize the Days really appealed to me. We're always complaining in this country about the lack of bank holidays we get in the UK, but I bet most of us don't make the best of the time off that we do have every year anyway. This book outlines that in fact there are 132 days in the year that we can please ourselves (comprised of 52 weekends, 8 bank holidays and minimum of 20 days statutory annual paid leave).

This book gives excellent ideas on how best to use your time. It makes you realise that there are small amounts of time that you may waste, like your work lunch hour - most people spend it eating lunch at their desks, when there could be interesting things going on nearby or nice walks to take.

I also subscribe to the email flyer (Seize the Days) that compliments the book and arrives in my inbox every week. It gives information about various fun and inspiring things to do that week up and down the country, including festivals (food - yum!, music) and exhibitions (art, historical) and all sorts of other strange things like cheese rolling in Gloucestershire!

Obviously I realise that us mums are time poor and most of us have to cram a lot into our busy lives but it's worth thinking every now and again that life is too short to spend it doing housework and boring stuff, getting out with your family creates wonderful memories! I'm going to make an effort to seize my days by taking a walk out in Kensington Gardens in my lunch hour, it's, beautiful, 5 minutes away and really there is no excuse not to! I'm also taking a knitting lesson (how old am I!?) in a couple of weeks, so I hope to fill some of my spare time clacking my needles on the train to work - more on the knitting lesson in a future post.

Photo by Flickr user Xavier Donat

Friday, 5 November 2010

Recipe Time - Salmon and Broccoli Pasta

One of Isla's favourite foods is pasta and one of her favourite meals is the one I'm about to recount to you here. If she is going through a little phase where she's not eating much (which happens about every other week!), then I make this meal and I know she is guaranteed to eat it! It's adapted from Annabel Karmel's New Complete Baby and Toddler Meal Planner and Isla gives it the thumbs up every time. The beauty of it is that it's also so quick to make:

Salmon and Broccoli Pasta

1 small onion
1 garlic clove
small amount of oil
1 tin of wild red salmon
broccoli florets - about half of a head of broccoli that you buy in shops
pasta - I tend to make about a handful - spaghetti is her current favourite
142 ml carton of single cream

As much parmesan as you want

Fry onion and garlic in the oil until soft. While doing this cook the broccoli and the pasta. Once they are cooked and drained pop them in the pan with the onion and garlic, along with the red salmon. Then pour in the cream and parmesan and mix well until the cheese melts.

This can be frozen, so I generally keep one portion for that days dinner and then freeze the other portions. Sometimes I add other bits of veg in there that I've got knocking about in the fridge - red pepper/ mushrooms and I'd fry these along with the onion and garlic at the start. This recipe is great because it's a fishy one and sometimes these babies can be a bit funny about fish.

I love Annabel Karmel's book. It's great because you can make the meals for all the family, they're not just for the little ones. Give this one a try and see if your kids like it.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

The Big C

This year I've taken part in 2 events to raise funds for Cancer research and care; Swimathon, raising money for Marie Curie Cancer Care and Race for Life, run by Cancer Research UK.

I was happily bumbling away in my pregnancy bubble when I found out my Dad had cancer.

April 2009, I was 6 months along and my Dad was having back trouble. This is all we thought it was and he'd been back and forth to the doctors, been given pain killers, but nothing satisfactory had been done to make him better. He was getting worse until finally during a trip to the doctors he got stuck between some lift doors and he was in agony. An ambulance was called and he was admitted to hospital. From that point onwards his diagnosis came quickly.

I remember the day the consultants told him he had cancer, they came to my Dads ward, closed the curtain around his bed and told us in a matter of fact way that he had Myeloma. I didn't know exactly what this was but I knew it was cancer and from that point on, I think I only heard random words that were being said. I felt like I was underwater and my ears were blocked. The only other word I heard was 'incurable'. I also felt like this wasn't really happening to our family, I wanted them to take it back, it seemed wrong that we were in a ward surrounded with other patients and a flimsy curtain was being used to shield others from the worst news I'd ever heard.
From that point onwards treatment started, oral chemotherapy, radiotherapy, stem cell transplant, further chemotherapy. It was a long slog for my Dad, and my Mum was holding everything together while he spent a long while in the hospital. I got quite aquainted with the hospital, as apart from visiting Dad I was having my ante-natal checks there too. Quite often I'd couple a midwife appointment with a trip up the stairs to see Dad.

I found it really hard to keep my feelings in check all the time, I was heavily pregnant, getting extremely tired, working full time and wishing all the time that this wasn't happening. I couldn't believe that life could deal such a cruel blow when we were meant to be having the best year, with not just one grand-daughter on the way but another one too, as my sister was expecting as well. My mood swings were terrible, one minute crying uncontrollably, the next happy and I didn't want to crack in front of people (I saved this for my poor husband). I would feel guilty and selfish for feeling sorry for myself as afterall it wasn't me that was ill, was it!

Since those first really awful months in 2009, we've obviously had our baby, my sister has had her baby and my Dad has his illness under control according the specialists, so life is good and looking so much more positive. The babies in the family have really helped to lighten everyone up, especially my Dad, he loves to see them and I love to see him with them too. He inspired me to fundraise this year and I feel proud that in total I raised £850 with my combined swimming and running efforts. It's so important to support these charities as Cancer affects most of us at some point in our lives.

Pics above of me jubilant after swimming 100 lengths in just over an hour and with my lovely sister after running 5k.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010


Once Isla was 8 weeks old I decided that we needed to start doing an organised activity together and on the recommendation of one of my best friends I took Isla for a trial at Gymboree for a Baby Play class. Gymboree is designed to introduce your baby to new sights, sounds and sensory experiences. It's all bright colours, fun music, puppets and best of all as far as most of the babies were concerned lots of BUBBLES!
The one I went to is in Croydon and run by the lovely Emma. She adores all the babies that come her way and she was always able to give you the benefit of her opinion re anything kid related as at the time I joined she had 2 under 3's herself (mad, lovely woman!). The sessions are once a week and last 45 minutes. There is generally always a theme, so I think one week was disco and we all had to dance with our babies, it was really fun and when I came away it gave me ideas for when I was at home with Isla.

One of our best moments at Gymboree, and this is going to sound incredibly mummish (I know this isn't a word!), was when Isla had only just learned to roll over and she did it in front of the whole class and everyone cheered. I couldn't imagine being so excited over such things when I was pre-family but once you've had children, every milestone they reach feels like such an achievement.

I soon persuaded my NCT friends to join Gymboree, which was great as I got £5 per head referral fee and we used this as the start of our kitty for a mum's night out! It was brilliant getting together with my mummy friends on a weekly basis at Gymbo, as apart from the babies playing we all got to have a catch up too.

Gymboree is a brilliant way to have fun with your baby and also to make new friends. The web address is below, hopefully you will be able to find one somewhere near you!

Monday, 1 November 2010


My daughter is now officially obsessed with her dummy, or "Gummeeee" as she calls it. I really didn't want a child who goes about with a dummy during the daytime. Before I had kids I would see little ones in their buggies with a dummy firmly in place and I'd make a judgement that their parents wanted to shut their children up. Little did I know that babies can form such a strong attachment to their dummy that they want it all the time and unless you want to get embroiled in a tantrum it feels easier to give in and hand it over!

In our house, "Gummeee" seems to be the default word if Isla can't think of any other word to say. She can be playing quite happily with "Babeeee" and then out of the blue, she quietly says "Gummeee" and then it's not forgotten until she has it, she's like a broken record, getting louder until it's in her possession. We try to hide them, but there's always one lurking somewhere that she will find - and we'll see her looking jubilant walking round the house as if to say 'nur, nur, nee, nur, nur!' and we'll look at one another wondering who was to blame for leaving a rogue dummy lying around!! During the night my hubbie and I can be blissfully asleep and through the still and quiet we're awoken to the cries of "Gummmmmmmmeeeeeee" until we go in and replace it. Some nights this doesn't happen but last night it was 3 times!!!

I've tried to replace Gummee with a soft toy (Sheep) so that she has that instead but all that's happened instead is that she wants Gummee and Sheep together! Also in my enthusiasm to get her fixed on a toy I picked the one that wasn't exactly small.......

In the same way that Isla has become obsessed with the dummy I have become obsessed with reading about getting rid of it. Some mums suggest cold turkey (I couldn't take the melt downs that this would create!), others waiting a while till you can explain the dummy fairy is coming to take it away and replace with a gift for them, others have snipped the dummy so that in effect it doesn't work and acted equally as baffled as the child when they show them the ineffectual mouthpiece! There is also the chat where you tell them what a big girl they are that they need to donate their dummy to the little babies in the hospital.

So for the time being I've decided that I will be one of those mums that I used to look at and judge, as I've realised that sometimes the battle isn't worth it and I'm gearing up for a conversation with her when she's around 2, where I will probably resort to bribery to rid us of Gummee forever!!