Friday, 30 August 2013

When the duck doesn't take to water and other stories

Raising your child is full of milestones. You're always moving towards something, they're always achieving something, you're always excited about them, or apprehensive about them or occasionally dreading them... Just as I write a friend has posted this status on Facebook:

Daughter can now open doors. Uh oh.

Milestones can present us with new challenges. Some challenges are fun and some are... challenging. But irrespective of the frustration it may cause, underneath it's another reason to be proud of them.

Some of these milestones aren't just about our children achieving. Some are emotional hurdles for us as parents too. I remember the first night I left E in her crib and went back downstairs at 8:30pm rather than just going to bed with her. I was glued to the monitor, terrified that she'd stopped breathing. Then at 10 weeks she was too big for that crib and we moved her into her room. I sobbed and sobbed and almost mourned for my tiny (well, as tiny as she ever was!) baby who seemed to be growing up so fast. Fast track to Christmas and my little girl was starting to walk. She was so independent, even if a little unsteady and always busy. I was GUSHINGLY proud but it was just another thing to get my head around. They don't need us in quite the same way forever. The list goes on. When we said good bye to bottles I was overjoyed that I could perhaps have a KitchenAid in 
place of a steriliser, but it was just another tick on the sheet signifying that we were getting into toddler-dom, waving goodbye to our baby days. The list goes on... The muslins being packed away, buying a toothbrush, when she started seeming to enjoy "helping out" with chores... Watching her care for her dolly. All amazing, heartwarming, but all a little bit sad. E has taken everything in her stride. I have been more worked up about all this than her! 

However this week we've come up to a milestone that I've not been apprehensive about. I've not been sad that the time has come. I felt that she was ready and I needed to support the girls at her nursery in something that was becoming a bit of an issue.

It was time for a bed.

I'm sure I've mentioned before but the one thing I will be a boasty-pants about is how good a sleeping E is. No nonsense, no messing around, sleeping though from very early on. So to me if didn't occur to me that swapping the cot for a toddler bed would be an issue.

And it probably could have been a lot worse. But night one was a nightmare. 

Despite an initial excitement for what seemed to be a small indoor trampoline, when it came to leaving her to it last night she screamed. And when I eventually felt the need to go back in, madam had found every tactic under the sun to delay my leaving again. Books. More books. Shall we read "un-ooor", she asked, holding up one finger, often used for negotiating TV shows on iPlayer and biscuits. Having read several more than "un" I went to leave again. Cue hysterics, door slamming... Eventually my husband found her asleep in her armchair. I transferred her, and she slept well until 4:30 this morning. I cannot recall what happened in that hour, but the travel cot was deployed at 5:30. She slept until 8:30, resulting in a lie in... Every cloud. 

So, options. Put the cot back up. Persevere. Bed guard. Run away and hide.

I decided that I couldn't just put it away. Mama H doesn't give up. She will win! So, I enjoyed lunch with friends and left with a borrowed bed guard... It was assembled pre bed (after she awoke from napping in her bed... She just went down asleep from the car...) and at bed time it seemed to dramatically change her opinion on the matter. Even if it made it trickier to get in and out of. 

I left her to it at 7pm. There was some shouting. Cow came over the stair gate. She made my feel bad repeatedly calling "mimi", furniture was rearranged and the door was slammed. It went silent at 7:45 and when I popped up she was reading in her arm chair. I returned at 8:10 fully expecting to find her snoring like Grandpa in the chair again. But no...

SHE WAS IN HER BED! And I was so elated I took a photo and then logged straight on to blog about it.

I know this isn't the end of the journey. I know that tomorrow night will still be tricky. I am fully ready for a 4am wake up tomorrow. But I feel like we've made progress and actually, I think my instincts were right. She was ready for this. I must trust my mummy instincts... She just didn't fancy it all that much to start with... And why not, those cot bars are all she's known since we left those plastic hospital cots behind.

And of course, I am AS EVER, gushingly proud of you, little E. As ever. Sweet dreams.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

My friend's pregnancy in photographs

Mummy Morkus over at Life and Times of Mummy Morkus has written a post all about her pregnancy in pictures... Which I took!

She's a new blogger, writing about her adventures with her daugher who I was convinced would be a son.

You can see more of the photographs here and her newborn pictures here.

Happy humpday! 

Don't forget you can follow me on Twitter (@oneformybaby12) or Instagram (@thursdayschildfridaysthoughts).

Monday, 26 August 2013

Big foot

"Oh she DEFINITELY has your eyes!"
"She looks so much like daddy in this picture!"
"She's just your mini-me."
"Her hair is just the texture of D's hair"

The list could go on. When I found out I was expecting E, I dreamed for hours of what she would look like. My husband's gene pool is strong and everyone expected her to look like daddy, or his sister. She doesn't. She looks more and more like me, just with bright blue eyes and much lighter hair. My nose, my curls... My big, wide feet. She treads lightly on the earth, but unfortunately not on my bank card, it would seem, as her feet cause shoe doom every time we go to the shoe shop.

When she started walking at 9 months her feet were a 3H. So the choice of shoes were pink or pink. At Christmas. To clash with all of those lovely red Christmas knits. And to try and keep the cost down over the last 8 months I've settled for shoes I don't *love*. But it seems to have become more of an issue recently. In May we paid £39 for some sandals - continental DARLING - because even a Start-Rite H cut into her feet at the sides. And they lasted 8 weeks exactly, as her feet have grown at a rapid pace. You see, E's issue isn't just that her feet are elephant wide, they're also super chubby on top, which makes t-bars an issue, jelly shoes a no go, and high street a bit of a ballache. 

So, I noticed the other week her toes were handing over the ends of her sandals. Super. Off to the shoe shop we go. Thankfully we have a WONDERFUL independent children's shoe shop in Thrapston, Funky Lil Feet, who are honest, helpful and super dooper lovely... And they have a loyalty card system. Double win. Out came TWENTY boxes of shoes. Too narrow, cut in, digging in a bit, can't get her feet in... Until we came to the Little Pets, by Petasil. Campus in Turquo. They fit like they're made for her.

I won't lie, I nearly died at the price tag. £49. I don't spend that on my own tootsies. But that said, I feel I can justify the cost. A little. And here's why.

These shoes are BEAUTIFUL. Where is the adult size 8?! A beautiful peacocky-turquoisy-green with a little flower detail on the front. Feminine, but not girly girl. Gorgeous floral print insoles with a well built in-step and cushioned edge around the top of the heal. The soles are transparent and through them you can see more flowers! A prod with my fingers tells me the insoles are squidgy and divine. They feel sturdy and well built. A good length of velcro on the fastening ensures that any foots is well secured in the shoes, and the velcro in sewn on well.

They don't dig in anywhere. That's the first time I've felt that her shoes are perfect for her wide and chubby H-widths. They don't cut in, rub, leave marks. She has been out for hours in them. She runs and skips and plays in them. They have growing room.

And while they're perfect for the summer, they're hardwearing enough to see her into autumn as a trip out in damp weather on Saturday proved. And, despite them being more expensive that your Start-Rites or Clarks, having looked on the Petasil website I'll be going back for her winter boots because every pair of shoes is equally as stunning and gorgeous as these.

I think the saying "you get what you pay for" is what I'm looking for here. Comfort, style, fit, practicality and no compromises. And then it comes to fashionable little feet, that's what it's all about.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Easy crochet hat

Last month I took up crochet. I was seeking a hobby that I could do in front of the television: My photography is a whenever affair but the processing all takes place upstairs on the iMac and my sewing machine projects happen in the dining room. Both quite antisocial, away from the husband, my weekly favourites on TV and quite intensive. Cannot be done while E plays. Having failed at knitting in my youth, I thought I'd try crochet and one of the girls at work taught me before we broke up... Safe to say, I am HOOKED! *pun*

I've already made E and my step-mother scarves for the winter, and am in the process of a gorgeous blanket for Charlie's baby. I'm learning to make decorative roses, but have mastered a simple hat, and thought I'd share the "pattern" with you. I say pattern, because some of the process was done by eye and guess work... See what you think.

My hat was made from Sirdar Indie Riot wool, which is super chunky and marbled. I chose Flint Creek. It's easy to crochet with with a 8mm needle and is lovely and soft! 

E's hat (v1 & 2 - v1 being a smidge too small so headed for my god daughter!) is made from James C Brett Marble Chunky in MC8 and I worked with an 8mm needle for this too. I love the way it forms natural stripes irrespective of how wide you go. Magic wool! 

I bought the Sirdar from Hobbycraft as I popped in for something else, but the rest of my wool I've bought from independent sellers locally. Please try and support your local shops!

So this "pattern" is made up from nosing around other patterns I found online and finding something I could a) understand and b) mess about with easily to make different sizes. I am going to try and write down what I did for the adult hat and note any differences for the toddler hat, but a lot of it, once I got going was really about judging size by eye, which is why the smaller of the kids hats is probably a little too long for the width. Obviously the chunkiness of your wool will have an impact too. I'm not being very helpful am I?! Good luck! I'm very much a beginner and as long as you're familiar with the basics I'd say it wouldn't cause you too much bother. I'd welcome feedback, and if you're stuck for stitches, I always refer to this fab site for help. 

1. Chain (Ch) 3.
2. Slip stitch (Sl st) into the first ch to make a ring. You need to leave a hole in the ring for the next stage, but you can tighten it later.
3. Ch 2, double crochet (dc) 11 into the middle of the ring. Once complete, pull the tail from when you cast on to tighten the ring (else you'll have a hole in the top of your hat. Not ideal!(
4. For the next round, ch 2, dc 2 in each stitch around to the end and then join the round with a slip stitch and pull tight.
5. For the next round, ch,2, dc 2 in the next stitch, then dc 1 in the next two stitches and repeat all the way round then join the round with a slip stitch and pull tight.
6. Repeat stage 5. Alternating the stitch keeps the top of the hat flat and it should look like you're making a coaster.
7. At this point, you need to decide if the top of your hat looks wide enough. For the toddler hat, I did another round like this because the wool is thinner and it doesn't grow so fast. What I will mention is that you want it to be a bit smaller than you think it should be. You'll be surprised, I think. Once you're happy, you're going to follow stage 8.
8. Ch 2, dc 1 in each stitch and slip to join at end of round. Looking at my adult hat, I think that's about 9 or 10 rounds (should have written it at time of making!) and the toddler hat 12 rounds. Keep putting it on the head of the recipient and make sure you don't get so carried away it covers their eyes! Allow for the final two rows which are a bit different and will be wider than any previous two rows!
9. Ch 3, then triple crochet (tc) into each stitch. Sl st to join at the end. 
10. Ch 2, then dc into each stitch. Sl st to join at end, pull tight and cast off.
11. Weave in your ends on the inside of the hat to hide them.
12. Add an optional bobble.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Embracing creativity

18 months ago, this was my worst nightmare.

Now I secretly quite enjoy this.

Embracing creativity. That's me.

Tomorrow, I continue my "Wing it" series, with something which looks dull but is proving desperately popular at home at the moment.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

A journey

It's a year since my journey into photography got serious. 

Two cameras, a new lens, a lot of reading, experimenting, playing and I'm feeling pretty good about my hobby. I love taking photographs. I hope that E is glad of it when she gets older and wants to look back. I've developed my style. I know what I like and what I don't. I love that I have been allowed to capture some of the greatest moments in the lives of my friends too. I love that people like my photographs enough to repin them on Pinterest, or hang on them on their walls, or appreciate them as gifts. And the odd booking has started to come my way too.

An exciting year.

In celebration, my two favourite photographs from each month of the last year. And a small bit of reminiscing about how much has changed! 

August 2012

September 2012

October 2012

November 2012

December 2012

January 2013


February 2013


March 2013

April 2013 

May 2013 

June 2013

July 2013

August 2013


Monday, 19 August 2013

"Grandpa's prerogative" syndrome

When E was tiny, there were many elements to our parenting that I guess were quite militant. We weren't in a strict routine, but we lived by EASY (The Secrets of the Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg) but there was always bath time before bed, we never came back downstairs and went straight to bed after. Rules we still follow today, actually, but bedtime is more flexible, there's probably a book involved and it's inevitably made a little less calm by chasing a frantic nearly 17 month old around her room trying to get a nappy on. I never let her sleep on me as a baby, I'd always put her down if she fell asleep on a bottle or when having a cuddle. I'd never wake her (unless it was for a doctors appointment!) and I was always wary of throwing her out of balance or disturbing the routine she fell into herself. Her timings were predictable and she slept through very early on. A few of my friends were critical of my approach but on the whole, at least to my face, no one seemed to bat an eyelid to the presence of our good friend Captain Routine. I guess I was terrified of rod-making; I was going back to work 'proper' (ie the start of the academic year) when E was five months old and I wanted to know where we were at for the sake of nursery and her Nana and Toggy who used to look after her once a week. And I think, now we're long into toddler-dom, I didn't make any rods. She still likes predictability, but she is more flexible and more adaptable and I guess because of that we've relaxed our ways a little. Some things wont change. No rocking or cuddling to sleep (unless she's poorly, then most rules go out of the window). Crying it out, to an extent, at nap times is acceptable, in my view. If you throw your lunch on the floor, then there is no alternative. I'm sure some people will read this and think I'm a big meanie-pants... But it works in our household and it's always lovely when we're told how well-behaved, polite and well adjusted our daughter is. Or when friends ask for our advice for their own kids. I feel satisfied that thus far, we've done a good job.

Ask me again when we're in the terrible twos. I may retract that statement.

It's the summer holiday, which gives us the opportunity to visit people we don't get to see in term time and be a little more blase about it not mattering if she doesn't transfer from the car to her bed at 10pm without a milk-stop because we've not got anything to do tomorrow, and we've been enjoying having this time. It's a shame that the poorly household stopped play on a few of our earlier plans, but such is life with kids, I guess. We've all been there.

So, with this new found flexibility, I'm getting to grips some stuff that the mere though of would have horrified me a year ago. It's what I describe as "grandpa's prerogative" syndrome. The stuff that you let them get away with because they're not at home, they're in the company of people who love them but don't get to see them very often, you really don't fancy a meltdown during Sunday lunch service at the pub and it's a real treat etc.

A visit to a friend's parents' house for a BBQ the other week saw E eat her entire dinner standing up on a garden chair. But she ate LOADS, she didn't feed it to the dog and went home with a full belly. At lunch celebrating my dad's unnamed milestone birthday she drank two fruit shoots, both of which she downed in one at the time of consumption and ate only the scampi from her dinner plate, followed by dipping some fries in grandpa's gravy. That's not how we roll at dinner time, is it? Rearranging the entire greenhouse and moving all the bamboo rods to an unnamed location in the garden. Snacking on dolly mixture. Giving up on an attempt at an afternoon nap. You get my drift. I have found myself being surprisingly laid back about the lot of it.

What I do worry about is that I'm too laid back in how we react to 'naughtiness', or boundary testing, or learning manners. How we all chuckle at the indignant "NO" I get in response to asking her if I can change her nappy while we're enjoying the sunshine in the garden. It is funny, but what message does that give her? How we find it endearing that she's mastered the puppy dog eyes and just can't refuse her. Finding the balance of fairness now that she's learning to use "please" unprompted. It's easier to manage at home, but when we're out I feel myself letting things go far more than I'd ever have liked. Sometimes I think I really ought to stop worrying about it. Sometimes I think I need to get a grip and remember that I'm her parent first. I'm sure this is just another of many conundrums.

Step back for a moment, and take a look. Most of the time she will sit and have her nappy changed, and she's started to ask for nappy changes sometimes. Most of the time she happily eats her dinner sat down in her highchair, even if the dogs do get some. A few dolly mixture never hurt anyone and I must continue to promote these beautiful manners she's using. Even if that means sharing my yogurt with her. She's an entertainer, a comedienne, caring little soul who has finally decided that she will call me 'mimimummy'. I can live with that. 

What a joy you are, E. What a joy you are.

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