Thursday, 20 December 2007

yes lisa, there is a santa claus

I'm sooooooooooo excited!!! Daddy and I are leaving food out for Santa and his reindeer. I made a peanut butter sandwich and a glass of milk for Santa, and Daddy cut some carrots for the reindeer. Mommy put some water in a big plastic bowl for them as well. We left everything by the fireplace, and I'm watching all my Christmas shows on TV: Charlie Brown, Grinch, Frosty, Rudolph, the one with the mice that have to fix the big clock, and Daddy will watch "A Christmas Carol" later on. The television station reports Santa sightings in between shows, and tells us where Santa has been spotted. He's just been spotted over Barrie, which means he's not very far away! Aaaahhhhh I've got to get to bed! But I'm not sleepy at all.

I lie in bed, squeezing my eyes shut and hoping for sleep because Santa won't come if I'm awake. What was that?? I just heard a noise on the roof! Gottosleep...gottosleep...gottosleep... I toss and turn, and it's now 1:00 in the morning and I'm still wide, wide awake. Christmas is taking forever to come and I'm never, ever going to be able to fall asleep. But then the next thing I know, my clock says it's 5:00 and that means it's morning, and THAT means I can get out of bed!

I run downstairs and my heart thuds with excitement as I see my stocking full of presents. Santa took a bite out of my sandwich, and I pick it up to examine it closely. I'm in awe because those are Santa's actual teeth marks in the bread. The carrots have also been nibbled, and the water's all gone. I squeeze, and shake, and sniff, and attempt to peer through the wrapping paper of my gifts. I can't open them yet because Mommy and Daddy are still in bed. I cannot believe that Santa uses the same wrapping paper as we do! That's so cool - he must go to the same store as my Mom.

The only things on television are The Hilarious House of Frightenstein and Tales of the Wizard of Oz which aren't my favourites, but I watch them anyway to pass the time. Forever and ever later, my Mom and Dad wake up and Christmas Day begins.

May your Christmas be magical and may you be just as excited on Christmas morning as we all were years ago.

Wishing you much love and peace,
Lisa, Paul, Jack, Mia, and Jasper xx

Watching "A Charlie Brown Christmas"

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

6 months

Originally uploaded by Lisa Durbin
Mimi Pixie Stix Bunny Princess Poopy Pants is 6 months old today. By now, I expected to be finished breastfeeding, but I'm not. I thought she'd be in her own room by now, but she's not. I was sure she'd be established on solid foods at six months, but she still thinks they're fun toys to gum. She has only just started wearing 3-6 month clothes, which means the adorable 6-9 month Christmas clothes I bought for her way back when are far too big. She coos and aahhhs instead of the bababadadadamamama noises Jack made at this age. She has huge blue eyes (hair colour TBD.) Ever since (and including) her arrival, she surprises me in millions of wonderful, beautiful ways.

And that's all I'm going to say because she's in my lap right now, and I'd much rather be cuddling and adoring her than typing.

I love you so, so much. Happy 6 months, my precious baby girl. xxx

Friday, 14 December 2007

must be a slow day in montreal

Apparently this made the front page of the Montreal Gazette newspaper today:
The much-maligned Facebook "is" is no more.

Those two little letters have long been the bane of Facebook users, who have, until now, been forced to issue their "status updates" using a mandatory "is" - i.e., "Basem Boshra is (insert mood or activity or non sequitur here)."

In fact, the "is" has led to some of the more awkward sentences you're likely to read. For example, instead of writing, say, "Basem Boshra wants ice cream" - which I often do - I'd have to go with something like "Basem Boshra is wanting ice cream." From a status-update perspective, this was both a creative and grammatical straitjacket. [source]

I admit, I was happy to see the demise of "is", but is it front page news?

Thursday, 13 December 2007


Banana!, originally uploaded by Lisa Durbin.

...and the banana made it into the mouth and down the throat! Wooooooo! This was our third experience with food (I'm not feeding her every day at the moment) and Mia seemed to enjoy it. I still think that she's at the "Oooh that's an interesting looking toy. GAH! It comes apart in my mouth!!" stage, though. But still, fun!

Wednesday, 12 December 2007


Originally uploaded by Lisa Durbin
Hey, look! I baked! I dunno what "authenic" Stollen is supposed to taste like, but I love it. It's soft, moist with fruit, with just a hint of almondy marzipan. It reminds me of a panettone in that it's a fruited bread, but the marzipan and alcohol give it more depth.

As for keeping it for two weeks, it's not a necessity but supposedly it does improve its flavour (a bit like some fruitcakes), and I wanted to make something ahead of the Christmas chaos. The recommendation is to wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and tin foil, and store it somewhere cool. Mine are currently sitting in the garage. I think I might stash one loaf in the freezer and bring it along to our family 'do (i.e. transport it frozen), just to see how it differs.

I had a slice once it had cooled, and it was absolutely gorgeous. I loathe fruitcake and Paul can't stand marzipan, but we both loved this bread. I'm so relieved!

i should have just bought a christmas pudding from m&s

So, to overcome my fear of baking and breadmaking, I'm making loaves of Stollen today. There are actually many versions out there you can do in a bread machine, but I thought I'd do it the old fashioned way. This may end up being a terrible idea; bread and I don't get along very well unless it involves slicing and slathering with butter. Another tricky bit is the fact that I've never eaten Stollen in my life, so I have no idea what it should taste like. Cripes, what the hell have I gotten myself into? Anyhoo, in honour of my lovely German sister-in-law (who is hosting our family Christmas again this year), I decided to make Stollen. Since it needs to sit for a good couple of weeks and I can bring it with me, I thought it would be a good one to try.

I'm following this recipe from the fabulous A Spoonful of Sugar blog, with a few small changes. And I do honestly mean small changes; I hate it when you read a recipe review and the reviewer has changed the original beyond recognition. How are you supposed to know if the recipe is any good or not based on that? is notorious for this sort of thing: "I made this chilli recipe and my whole family loved it! I would definitely make it again! I made a few changes. Instead of using kidney beans I used tinned corn, and instead of tomatoes, I added a couple of cans of mushroom soup. I thought it was a bit spicy, so I adjusted the seasoning a bit. I omitted the chilli powder and substituted it with 4 cups of Bisquick. Yum!"

I really did make minor changes and attempted to stay true to the original where possible. I can't get my hands on fresh yeast around here so I used dried and I didn't make my own marzipan. I know, I know - it's easy to make and tastes a million times better, but the little lazy imp that sits on my shoulder (the left one, if you're curious) told me to buy the prepackaged marzipan. "Go on", he said. "It's got a pretty label and doesn't say 'Tesco Value' on it. It's probably good quality stuff. Go on!" The only other change was the addition of a teaspoon of cinnamon, partially because I came across a few Stollen recipes that call for it, but mostly because I love cinnamon in fruited breads.

So far, so good. I'm on the first rise and the dough smells delicious already. I shall get back to you in about 2 1/2 hours when it's done rising and baking. In the meantime, enjoy this amusing video that starts out funny, but frankly gets a bit creepy the longer it goes on:

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Is this food or packing material?

As I was saying, Mia has been introduced to the world of solid food via the interesting (this is your cue to say: "Oh off she goes on that mad hippy nonsense again") concept of Baby Led Weaning. I first learned about it when Jack was a baby (thanks to LisaS, who is another mad hippy) but for reasons that I can no longer remember, only made a half ass attempt at it.

The idea is to let babies feed themselves - no spoon feeding, no purees. "Oh my good lord, but your baby will choke!" you may cry. Well look, it's not like I'm giving Mia a turkey drumstick to gnaw on this Christmas. Although come to think of it, Paul's Uncle Mike recently told me that he gave drumsticks to both kids when they were babies, and they turned out just fine. All joking aside, I freely admit that it did make my heart jump when Mia gagged and sputtered a bit when she tried the rice cakes. We are so accustomed to the idea that babies get purees, that it's very difficult for our brains to accept anything else. Anyway, the idea is to let babies feed themselves...safely. For example, instead of spoon feeding Mia carrot puree, I will give her cooked carrot sticks that are still mushy enough to be safe to eat, but in a form that allows her to feed it to herself.

I think it's easiest to understand if I put it in terms of more "conventional" weaning. At 4 months, you offer purees because babies cannot physically ingest anything else. At 5 months, you introduce lumpier foods, and at 6 months, you start with finger foods. Since Baby Led Weaning is done at 6 months onwards, we're simply skipping the two former stages.

Why am I doing this? Do I want to spend mealtimes sticking a spoon in my baby's face with no hands free, or would I rather sit back, stuff my own face, and be entertained watching my baby attempting to pick up slices of avocado? I rest my case. Okay seriously, I'm doing this because I've always been an advocate of letting kids play with and explore food. I'm still that way with Jack. I think it's important to let kids be in control of what goes in their mouths. Except if it happens to be a clump of dirt, dog toy, or something unidentifiable from the garden, obviously.

So far, Mia's not actually eaten anything, but I've only given her food twice this week. I first gave her slices of avocado (too slippery) followed by rice cakes (easier to pick up, but anything that went in came right back out again), and cooked carrot sticks (interesting to lick, but again, anything that went in came back out again.) She doesn't have to get any food in her belly - breast milk gives her all the nutrition and calories she needs for now - so this is all for fun and practice.

And I am in no rush to get her established on solids. I am enjoying the relatively inoffensive nappies while I can.

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Mia's first food

At 24 weeks, Mia had her first taste of solid food yesterday - avocadoes (too slippery to get from hand to mouth) and rice cakes (made it into the mouth, then came right back out again.) I'll blog more about this later, but in summary, I don't think she's quite ready for solids yet. I'll still give her food to "play" with, though. Coming up next: boiled carrot sticks. Oooooh. Aaaaaah.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Why you won't get a picture in your card this year

Seriously, I took around 30 photos in an attempt to get a cute picture to stick in the Christmas cards this year. Mia was either crying or looking thoroughly unimpressed in every one. I briefly considered Photoshopping a smiling Mia face on to the body of miserable Mia, but that would require both time and the ability to avoid making her look like Frankenbaby.


I'm thinking the trip to see Santa and get a photo may need to be limited to child #1 only.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

spot the difference #2

Jack at 4 months, exactly:

Mia at 5 1/2 months:

I looked at Jack's "red book" (the Official Book of Baby Things given to all babies for healthcare workers to record immunisations, weight, etc.) and at 3 months he weighed 13 lbs. At 5 months, Mia weighed just over 12 lbs. She's such a wee peanut.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

a woman scorned

Well. I'm glad that we went to the "New Angel" restaurant in Devon when we did, 'cos otherwise...
Fresh from facing bushtucker trials in ITV's I'm A Celebrity, John Burton Race is now confronting a more serious challenge in real life.

After being kicked off the reality show last week, the celebrity chef woke up yesterday to the news that his estranged wife had closed down his restaurant and sacked all the staff.

The Michelin- starred New Angel has closed its doors for good, with the loss of 20 jobs, after an emergency meeting called by Kim Burton Race. [source]

That'll learn ya to go off and have a love child, mister.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007


Following on from the main blog, this site has had a much-needed redesign. The links at the top don't work yet because I still need to create those pages, but everything else should be business as usual.

It's hard work doing stuff like this in between catnaps (Mia's, not mine) and cluster feeding. Feh.

it's beginning to taste a lot like christmas

Cranberry White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I fully admit, I'm not terribly adept at baking. Baking requires precision and the ability to pay close attention to the recipe. I tend to cook by taste, I get bored and my mind starts to wander when I read lengthy instructions (which is why I can never edit my own writing at work), and I'm prone to deviating from the recipe. To add to the frustration, I always need to set the temperature on my oven lower to than indicated in the recipe because its thermometer must be out of whack, and it cooks things on the edges much more quickly than in the middle. It makes for some interestingly-shaped Yorkie puds. There are so many ways in which baking can go wrong. This is why I stick to the easy stuff.

As we approach the Christmas season, I feel the urge to bake. The warmth of the oven, the smell of something sweet baking, sitting on the sofa under a big duvet and stuffing my face with whatever came out of the oven...the perfect cure for winter. So this year, the Christmas season has begun with cranberry white chocolate chunk cookies courtesy of Nigella Lawson's book "Feast." They're good for you because they've got nuts, dried fruit, and oats in them. They are so.

Cranberry and White Chocolate Cookies

140g flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
75g rolled oats
125g soft unsalted butter
75g dark sugar
100g caster sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
75g dried cranberries
50g pecans roughly chopped
140g white chocolate chips*
*(I used two Green and Black's white chocolate bars chopped into small chunks)

Preheat oven to 180C.

Measure out flour, baking powder and rolled oats into a bowl.

Put the butter and sugars into another bowl and beat together until creamy then beat in the egg and vanilla. Beat in the flour, baking powder, salt and oat mixture and then fold in the cranberries, chopped pecans and chocolate chips or white chocolate, chopped into small dice. Set the bowl of biscuit dough in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.

Roll tablespoonfuls of dough into a ball with your hands, and then place them on a lined or greased baking tray, and squish the dough balls down with a fork. Cook for 15 minutes, when ready, the cookies will be tinged a pale gold, but be too soft to lift immediately off the tray, so leave the tray on a cool surface and let them harden for 5 minutes. Remove with a spatula or whatever to cool fully on a wire rack.

Monday, 26 November 2007

do not adjust your set

Hi. It's me, Lisa - the blog from: a broad lady. How have you been keeping? Lovely, me too.

You may have noticed some slight site changes. I've been meaning to redesign this page for ages, but I kept running off to give birth and stuff. So, we've rebranded (sorry, all of those broad mugs and frisbees are now out of date) with the hope of actually writing on this blog again. It'll be about food, random observations about my life, and food. And maybe something that isn't about food. Not sure yet.

What's up with the new name? It's the name of the font in the title graphic and I thought "Hey...most people think that I'm a bit weird!" and the new blog name was born. It's probably pretty apparent that I haven't slept well for a very long time.

So yes, a new name, new graphics (created by my RSI-crippled fingers), and a new colour scheme. Baby blog will also get a rebrand as soon as I come up with a hilarious new blog title.

I may be some time.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

how to save a tree

Jack held his hands together, as if in prayer. He said, "It's my book. I read it to you." and opened his hands. "One read your book, mummy." "What's it called?" I asked. "Animals," Jack said.

Me: Okay. [opens hands] One day, a lion - what was the lion called, Jack?
Jack: Eddie.
Me: Eddie the lion went for a walk in the jungle. Then he met up with a great...big...giant...HIPPO!
Jack: No, he was little.
Me: A little hippo, called...?
Jack: Eddie, I think.
Me: ...Eddie the hippo. "Hello, Mr. Lion", Eddie said. "ROOOOWWWWWRRR!!" said the lion. "Oh!" said the hippo, and he ran away back home. The lion kept walking through the jungle, and then he met a parrot. The parrot was called...?
Jack: Eddie, I think.
Me: ...Eddie the parrot. "Hello, Mr. Lion", Eddie said. "ROOOOWWWWWRRR!!" said the lion. "Oh!" said the parrot, and he flew away back home. The lion kept walking through the jungle, and then he met a big, tall giraffe. The giraffe was called Jeremy.
Jack: [slight pause] Okay, Jeremy.
Me: "Hello, Mr. Lion", Jeremy said. "ROOOOWWWWWRRR!!" said the lion. "Oh!" said the giraffe, and he ran away back home. The lion kept walking through the jungle, and then he met an elephant. The elephant was called Ella.
Jack: No, Eddie.
Me: Eddie the elephant. "Hello, Mr. Lion", Eddie said. "ROOOOWWWWWRRR!!" said the lion, but the elephant didn't run away. He wasn't scared at all!
Jack: No, he was scared. He did run away.
Me: Oh. Right. he ran away back home. [stumped for further plot development] The end.
Jack: [with a huge grin] Read it again!

Monday, 12 November 2007

that'll show me

A surefire way to ensure that things will go tits up is to brag about how great things are. Like talking about how easy breastfeeding is and how you've got a baby that sleeps through the night - stuff like that.

For over three weeks now, Mia's been waking through the night for feeds. At first, I chalked it down to a growth spurt (because anything odd that happens in the first 3 years of a child's life is due to teething or a growth spurt when you have no clue what could be going on) but by the third week, I figured that something else must be up. Somewhere in a dark, dusty corner of my mind, I retrieved a memory about babies waking for a feed but not actually needing to be fed. I remembered reading something about how babies wake because they're used to being fed, so if you wanted to drop the night feed, you should try to settle them instead feeding them - we did this with Jack when he was around the same age as Mia.

Bear with me, I do realise how idiotic this all sounds in hindsight.

So, I decided to settle Mia when she woke rather than feed her. I did this for a couple of nights, but gave up when it became obvious that a) she wasn't going to settle and b) her crying kept waking Jack up, so we had two kids getting rotten nights. I did a bit more reading and went with the advice to feed on demand and try offering both sides. Mia only ever fed from one breast each feed and never seemed to need or want more, so it never occurred to me to offer her the other breast. Back we went to the 2 hourly night feeds, from both sides this time. I took her to the baby clinic the following week to see how her weight was doing, and was completely shocked to discover that she had dropped from the 9th centile to the 2nd. My little girl had only gained one pound in 8 weeks, and all I could think was that it was all my fault. I couldn't feed her enough; all the fears and anxiety about breastfeeding that I had with Jack came flooding back. Did I need to supplement? Pump? How the hell would I know she was getting enough to eat? Could I produce enough? So much for simply following my motherly instincts and trusting my body to do as nature intended.

I phoned Paul and burst into tears, berating myself for underfeeding Mia and denying her food during those nights I chose to settle instead of feed her. He offered to come home to be with me, but I knew I just needed to have a mini meltdown so I could think more clearly. A huge bouquet arrived later that afternoon with a card that said "To the best mummy EVER!" from the best husband ever, and everything started to feel less daunting. A bit more reading (I *heart* Kellymom!) and a few posts to some mummy web boards later, and I came up with a plan: keep feeding as often as possible and always from both sides, pump after each feed to help increase my supply, drink tons of water, and take some milk-boosting measures (take fenugreek, eat certain foods, avoid caffeine, etc.)

I know that weight charts and centiles mean diddly squat, but it was impossible not to feel awful when I learned that my already tiny baby had dropped even further down the chart. I even entertained the thought of starting solids before I remembered that babies don't (and shouldn't) eat enough to "fill them up", so it would be an exercise in futility. I just wanted to keep Mia's belly full, and I was starting to doubt my ability to do so - I was clutching at straws trying to make things better. Sleep deprivation and mother's guilt will do that to you.

So far, I think it's working. She's still waking for feeds every 2-3 hours (I have now entered Zombieville) but I'm fairly sure that my supply is keeping up with the demand. I've hired a hospital grade electric pump (after a few days with my old hand pump, I quickly remembered why I hated the bloody thing so much) and trying to stay positive. If things get rough again, I'll call the NCT breastfeeding helpline and pick the brains of my wise friends. It just pisses me off that things have to be difficult after such a great stretch.

So the next time I spout off about how grand things are, remind me to keep my big mouth firmly shut.

Monday, 29 October 2007

wee wee wee all the way home

We started potty training this weekend and let's just say that I'm really glad that we have laminate flooring. We had made a bit of headway over the past few months because Jack was already using the toilet every now and then (more as a game, really) which means we've skipped the potty phase. Today I'm on my own, keeping an eye on a baby and piddling toddler on no sleep (Mia has decided that sleeping through isn't for her, so she's been waking every couple of hours for a feed for the past couple of weeks) and with a hideous sinus cold. Words cannot describe my glee.

So far, we've learned that:
-Pull ups are useless. They're surprisingly absorbent, so they aren't much different to regular nappies...although the Spiderman picture on the front is very, very exciting if you're a 2 1/2 year old boy.
-Don't ask him if he needs to go, just take him! And often! More often than you'd think.
-Toddler pee is limitless. Just because you have one "accident", it doesn't mean you're off the hook for the next little while. It'll keep on coming in surprisingly huge quantities, immediately following your last clean-up.
-Stickers and chocolate buttons provide good incentive. So does jumping up and down and clapping like a lunatic every time he wees in the toilet.
-If everything is about being a "big boy", he'll be much more interested in taking part. (e.g. we use the "big boy" toilet, we wear "big boy" pants, "big boys wee wee in the toilet", etc.)
-10 pairs of pants are enough for most of the afternoon and evening. Good thing I bought 20 or else I'd be doing laundry 24 hours a day.
-If he doesn't need to wee, it's because "it's sleeping right now". No, I don't know what that means either.

I feel guilty, but I'm actually really relieved that Jack's back to nursery tomorrow. It means less messes for me to clean up (which normally wouldn't be such a big deal but they seem to happen when Mia needs my attention) and it means less stress for me during the day. Which is selfish, I know. I'm secretly hoping that he'll come home from nursery tomorrow fully toilet trained.

Oh come now, a girl can dream.

Friday, 26 October 2007

bouncing babies

After a trip up to the loft, the door bouncer has made a comeback. Here's a photo of Jack in the same bouncer at the same age as Mia and one of Mia taken today.

Although her brother took to it right away and started bouncing up and down immediately, Mia is happy to just stand upright and observe the world. Also, I think I need to tie some sandbags to her so that she can actually bounce.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Sesame Street - Buffy Nurses Cody

This is so sweet, but at the same time, it makes me feel incredibly sad because I know that they would never air something like this now. Or maybe I'm just being too cynical. At any rate, I love this clip. Enjoy.

Monday, 22 October 2007


Yesterday, we had a Halloween party at our local playcentre (home of the annoying guy on the phone a few posts back) and had a hoot. It's hard to tell from this photo, but I had four spider legs coming out of Mia's baby carrier and Mia dressed up as a spider (although we all agreed that she looked more like a black Cookie Monster) and I was a web (i.e. dressed in white with lots of web/spidery jewellery on.) Jack was also a spider, which he enjoyed thoroughly. We've had several days of "I'm a scary spider! Raaaaaaawr!!" Paul was dressed up as...erm...disgruntled English rugby fan? About 13 little ones and babies got together for a very fun afternoon, and went home with treat bags bulging with goodies. At this age, I prefer doing something like this rather than trick or treating door-to-door (which still manages to confuse the English, although it is getting much better.)

Today, we went to Rectory Farm in Milton for more Halloween activities with our friends. We carved a pumpkin (and I really do mean "we" - Jack helped cut out the face and scoop out the seeds), and then Jack rode around on diggers and tractors, bounced on a castle, and we all ate a lovely lunch. Then we went to Tesco. Anticlimactic, I know.

More pictures from our day at the farm can be seen here.

Friday, 19 October 2007

due credit

...and I also need to add, the professional-looking photographs (i.e. the ones starting with NamingCeremony in the filename) were taken by Jean-Luc Benazet. He's our workmate, friend, and official wedding photographer. Book him now!

Mia's Naming Day

NamingCeremony0097, originally uploaded by Lisa Durbin.

On Sunday, the sun shone (for one day only) for Mia's naming ceremony. It was performed by the same celebrant at the same hotel as Jack's naming ceremony, but we changed the ceremony a bit to make it more unique.

This time, Paul and I did readings. Paul read this piece:

"Auguries of Innocence" by Francis Thompson and William Blake

Know you what it is to be a child?
It is to have a spirit yet streaming from the waters of baptism;
it is to believe in love, to believe in loveliness, to believe in belief;
it is to be so little that the elves can reach to whisper in your ear;
it is to turn pumpkins into coaches, and mice into horses, lowness into loftiness, and nothing into everything, for each child has a fairy god-mother in his/her own soul;
it is to live in a nutshell and count yourself the king/queen of infinite space;
it is:
To see the world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.

and I read this piece:

"A Wish For My Children" by Evangeline Paterson

On this doorstep I stand
year after year
to watch you going

and think: May you not
skin your knees. May you
not catch your fingers
in car doors. May
your hearts not break.

May tide and weather
wait for your coming

and may you grow strong
to break
all webs of my weaving

Yep, we both cried our way through these. Our friends Gary and Caroline (who are not a couple) promised to be Mia's supporting adults (that's like Godparents to you non-heathens), and the grandparents made promises about caring for and raising Mia.

It was an absolutely beautiful day for our beautiful little girl. Damn, I'm still weepy.

Photos can be seen here.

Thursday, 18 October 2007


I signed up for the Hipp organic baby club with the hope of getting something exciting and free in the post. This morning, I did get something free, but not terribly exciting. Hipp sent me a "weaning pack" (more on weaning later) that included a bib, weaning spoon, a single serving of baby rice, and a sample of follow on milk (which I'm seriously doubting I'll use.) So, not bad but not really quite as thrilling as the freebies I remember as a child. We used to get all sorts of free things in the post and I'm talking good sized samples, not the ridiculous things I get through the post these days (the one tea bag with a 20p off voucher comes to mind.) I remember things like boxes of laundry detergent, cereal, and pudding. Free samples would arrive on a regular basis for all sorts of things. I wonder why companies don't do that anymore?

Anyway, weaning. Mia is 17 weeks old this week, which is the point at which most health visitors will tell you it's fine to start solids. I truly cannot imagine giving Mia solids right now. Maybe it's because she's so small and is still very wibbly wobbly when I sit her up, but there's no way I'm going anywhere near her with a weaning spoon right now. Which reminds me, one of the Claire Verity couples in "Bringing up Baby" were shown giving solids to their 10 week old baby while she was lying down in a beanbag chair. I could be wrong, but is it a good idea to feed a baby solid food while she's lying down? Mia seems too young to me for solids just yet, so I'm just going to wait for her to give me cues that she's ready - like the time Jack reached for my spoon and tried to shove it in his mouth when he was 5 1/2 months old. I'm observant like that.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

rassin' frassin'

I'm not going to go on another lengthy diatribe about "Bringing Up Baby", but I really had to point out one thing. This "My babies sleep from 7-7" boast from Claire Verity makes no sense to me. To get babies on her routine, she initially does a combination of starvation (giving a scant amount at the penultimate feed so that the baby eats much more at the last feed to "last them through the night") and sleep deprivation (not allowing a nap later in the day so that the baby is exhausted by 7pm.) During tonight's episode, we learned that she advocates giving solids to 10 week old babies so that you can drop the night feed.

Still with me? I am prone to rambling these days, I do apologise.

What I'm wondering is, what's the big deal with an 11pm feed?* Mia has worked out her own little schedule and tends to feed roughly every 3 hours during the day until 7pm, then has another feed at 10-11pm, and that's it until 6 or 7 in the morning. I feed her, make and eat supper, have a bit of lazy lounging time with my loving husband, I take her upstairs when I'm ready for bed, give her another feed snuggled up in our lovely comfy cozy bed, and that's it until morning. How would my life benefit (or more importantly, her life) if I didn't take those 8 minutes to give her that last feed before I go to bed? Seems a lot of fuss just to drop one feed that isn't really a hassle for anyone.

And while I'm here, I'd just like to say: four months on the booby! WOOOHOOOOO! A few months ago, I couldn't imagine that I'd get to a point where breastfeeding is enjoyable. Why on earth did I ever think formula feeding was easier? Baby cries (or is simply ready for a feed), baby is latched on and feeding within seconds, baby finishes a feed and there's nothing for me to wash up or purchase at a later date. I like that a lot. Especially the no washing up bit. I thought I was going to wean at 6 months, but now I'm not so sure. I'll have to get back to you on that one.

*(I'm not talking about babies who still wake throughout the night. That sucks; I remember that vividly with Jack and he still has crappy nights sometimes. I'm talking about babies in Mia's situation whose only night feed is at 11pm.)

Thursday, 11 October 2007

lucky for him, i'm not hormonal right now

So, a whole bunch of us are dressing up the kiddies and heading over to our local play centre for a pre-Halloween gathering. I thought I'd give the play centre a ring, just to make sure they weren't going to be swamped with birthday parties or closed for a private function.

The conversation went thusly:

Me: Hello. We're planning on bringing a fairly large group of kids to your centre on Sunday the 21st. I just wanted to make sure that was okay and that you weren't booked with other events.
Play centre guy: We are open 7 days a week, 10am until 6pm.
Me: Um. Yeah, but I'm just making sure that it was okay to just show up with around a dozen kids.
PCG: Madam, I just took bookings for parties of 100, 80, and 60. Our capacity is more than enough for 12 kids.
Me: [starting to get hacked off] Yes, I know your centre holds more than 12 kids. What I was asking was whether or not you'd be okay with a large group showing up unannounced, and to make sure you weren't closed for a private party.
PCG: I'll look at the book just to be sure. [runs through a list of parties booked for that day] Mums tend to come on Saturdays, so the Sunday should be fine.

Did he honestly think I was ringing to ask if their center could hold a dozen kids? Give me strength.

Monday, 8 October 2007

muffin tops give you...muffin tops

I'm back on the healthy eating train, and it's been one week so far. It's all going swimmingly and I even made it to the gym 4 times last week. I exercised and everything! I didn't just sit and pedal a bike really slowly while catching up with Richard and Judy. I worked up a sweat, burned calories, and lifted heavy things.

So yesterday, we were at Milton Keynes doing some shopping when toddler boy says "I hungry!" Off we went to find a comfy place to sit and have a snack. We went to Costa and I was on a mission: to find a snack for Jack (easy because our kid will eat anything), and healthy snacks for Paul and I. Right. Okay. I looked through the Big Cake Cabinet (BCC) which was next to the Big Sandwich Cabinet (BSC). BCC contained a plethora of fatty fat snacks that were obviously unhealthy, along with one muffin variety that was billed as "low fat". BSC contained mostly high calorie sandwiches, but I spotted a roast chicken one on wholegrain bread. What to do? Split a sandwich with Paul or go for the low fat muffin? I've been burned by muffins before, notably in the 90s when we all thought muffins were healthy until we learned that they were essentially full fat cakes baked in little tins. Muffin...sandwich...muffin...sandwich. I was having a cafe latte, so a muffin it was. I'll look up the nutritional information when we get home just for giggles, I thought.

Laughs? There were none! I discovered that Costa's low fat muffins contain 328 calories with 4.5g of fat (2.8g of which are saturated.) Just to give you an idea of how calorific this is, one of their croissants is 254 calories. And what if I'd shared a roast chicken sandwich with Paul? An entire sandwich is 325 calories with 7.1g fat (0.9g saturated.) Since I am more concerned with calories and saturated fat, the sandwich would have been the better option. Damn.

I checked out the nutritional info for muffins at my other favourite coffee haunt, Starbucks. Their "skinny" muffins range from 286 to 390 calories and 1.3-1.5g of saturated fat. Slightly better on the saturated fats than Costa, but not much of an improvement in terms of calories. Again, to put things in perspective, I can eat an entire meal for 300 calories. Looking through the nutritional information for all food at Starbucks, the roast chicken (or tuna) sandwich comes out the winner once more, along with their salads and fruit cups.

So when people wonder why they can't lose weight even though they eat nothing but foods that are "low fat", this is the answer. What a scam. Yes, we should all read labels and we should all know by now that muffins are never healthy but I didn't realise it was that high in calories. Next time I am either bringing my own snack or I'll enjoy a full fat cake and just eat a little less that day (or workout a little more.) Grrrrrrrrrr.

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Arms Reach mini co-sleeper

Arms Reach mini co-sleeper, originally uploaded by Lisa Durbin.

Mia was starting to reach the point of outgrowing the moses basket and me, being the demented "But she's my last baby!" lunatic that I am, felt that she I wasn't ready to move into her own room just yet. Remembering that LisaS said we can get co-sleepers in this country, I went on a hunt for said creature. All I could find were essentially full-sized cots/cribs with a drop-down side you can put next to your bed. Considering that we don't have much room in our bedroom (it's all taken up by our mammoth bed), this simply wasn't an option.

One of the Google hits I got for "co-sleeper" was for something called an Arm's Reach co-sleeper listed on eBay. It was exactly what I needed - and typically, very difficult to get in this country (there is one distributer in Ireland, but it costs a stupid amount of money.) As it happens, the seller lives in Kent and we were heading down to Kent the weekend the auction ended. I wrote to her and asked if she could do me a bit of a deal if we a) paid cash for it and b) picked it up ourselves and she agreed.

It's fantastic! Sort of like a travel cot with a basinette option, but much slimmer so it fits very well next to our bed. In fact, it takes up just a little more room (lengthwise only) than the moses basket. The left hand side is flush to the top of our mattress. It's got storage pockets on the ends and the right hand side unzips so you can access the space between the mattress and the bottom of the co-sleeper. I wish I knew about this sort of thing after I had Jack. It would have made it so much easier to pick him up for nighttime feeds after the c-section.

She can stay in this co-sleeper until she's able to get up on her knees, so maybe 7 months? I think that's when Jack started to get up on all fours. Then I guess she'll finally move into the nursery. Maybe. Okay, she will. I think.

(By the way, contrary to what this photo may imply, I don't read Kathy Reichs to my daughter at night.)

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Claire Verity - "Bringing up Baby" must be stopped

If you were horrified and saddened by the atrocious programme on channel 4 called "Bringing up Baby" (in particular, the Draconian and abusive baby rearing methods* advocated by Claire Verity), please make your voice heard.

You can sign a petition here:

and complain to Ofcom here:

It's shows like this that have made respectable and admirable people like Dr. Tanya Byron vow never to make television programmes again.
"But coming from a clinical background," she points out, "and being a clinician, I'm bound by a code of ethics and code of conduct. And I think in the end that's why I said I didn't want to do any more - because ethically, and in terms of my profession, what was being asked of me working on television I didn't feel I wanted to do any more." [source]

So far, over 300 complaints have been lodged with Ofcom. Please add yours.

*Verity's methods include: no eye contact with baby during feeds, putting it out in the pram in the garden for 4 hours a day (i.e. you put the pram outside, close the door and leave the baby there), never pick up a baby when it cries, a strict routine that "allows" mothers 10 minutes of "cuddle time" per day, no visitors for the first few weeks, and baby sleeps in its own room from day 1. Verity claims that leaving the baby to cry shows it "who's the boss" and that babies only cry to manipulate you.

There is an excellent summary/commentary about this series on Social Baby.

Monday, 1 October 2007

vote now!

Jack and Mia are contenders for Baby of the Month (Toddler, in Jack's case) over on the Bounty site. If they win, they will get a £50 voucher for Boots (pharmacy) which I will put towards exciting things like nappies and Calpol. It's a bit of a hassle because you probably need to register to vote and you can't search for a particular child, but hopefully Jack and Mia's photos will stay on the same pages. At any rate, if you don't mind, please vote for Jack here (first row) and Mia here (third row.)

If the kids have moved to another page and you are bored/dedicated enough to search through the pages to find them, you're looking for these pics of Mia and Jack (close up of their faces):
I feel pretty... Less cheeeeesy

Alternatively, you can amuse yourself for hours by looking at some of the outfits these poor children were forced into by their lunatic parents.

Thank you!

Thursday, 27 September 2007

a conversation with jack

Click here to watch a clip of Jack out in the garden the other day. It's a bit long (5 minutes), but fairly entertaining. I love how toddlers go off on various tangents, and I adore Jack's imagination. Please excuse the big scab under my boy's nose - he recently had a close encounter with the pavement at nursery.

(If the sound/image is really choppy, press the pause button and wait a little while for more of the film to load - look at the blue bar to see how much has loaded.)

have you seen this woman?

Oh, Nigella. Where have you gone? Where is that wrong-side-of-35 curvy domestic goddess that I loved so much? The spoon licking...the smouldering glances at the camera...the rapturous noises you made as you stuffed your face with steak in front of an open fridge. I miss you! What's happened to you, my poor Nigella? What have they done to you? I was so thrilled about your new series, but when I tuned into your new programme, a vacuous Stepford wife stared blankly at me from the screen. She smiles throughout each episode, literally non-stop - even whilst eating, which is thoroughly disconcerting. She uses the word "express" at least three times each show, rides in a taxi to and from Waitrose to do her grocery shopping (which apparently only involves four items and she always seems to have exact change because she simply hands over the cash and glides away), and uses at least five adjectives to describe every recipe item.

Long gone is the voluptuous yummy mummy. Aliens have replaced her with a Happy Housewife Fembot. How else can you explain the need to pause during cooking to look into the lens to give the audience a wide-eyed, maniacal grin? What other reason could there be for chocolate mousse made with melted marshmallows? And why are we now being treated to tips on how to dress the table?

Please come back, Nigella. All is forgiven.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

sign of the times

So I was shopping in Milton Keynes a few weeks ago, and Mia was due for a feed. Not wanting to be obligated to purchase food somewhere just for a chair to breastfeed (and not at all interested in whipping out my boobs on those horrible aluminium benches outside of Clinton Cards or something similar), I remembered that the shopping centre had a feeding room. Although not the most pristine area I've ever seen (it's in desperate need of a paint job), it's a fantastic area for feeding and changing. One room is filled with purpose-built changing tables complete with sinks next to each one, and the other room has (vinyl) sofas for feeding. There is also a curtained off area at one end of the room for the very, very shy. It's actually just a shower curtain type arrangement around one of the chairs, which probably just makes you feel more of a dork for using it, really.

As I sat there feeding Mia, I thought about the sign used to indicate this room. It was something similar to this:

What about those of us who don't use bottles? How old fashioned to use a symbol like that, I thought. Why not modernise these signs to reflect the variations on the feeding theme, like this:

Upon further reflection, I realised that this would either confuse men into thinking there was a very small branch of Hooters restaurant near the toilets or it would make people think there was something sinister staring at them from beyond. This is probably why I never went into commercial art.

Incidentally, there is an international sign for breastfeeding, which is far more eloquent than mine:

Saturday, 22 September 2007

waving a leek at wales

Charlotte Church gave birth to a little girl at home on Thursday evening. Good on her, I say. She allowed herself to look like a real human pregnant woman (with huge boobs and rolls of fat and bad hair and everything! Imagine!) without going into hiding, and put home birth in the news. As long as she and Gavin managed to avoid giving the baby an idiotic name, I give the young lady a round of applause. Well done, Charl!

Wednesday, 19 September 2007


, originally uploaded by Lisa Durbin.

Mia is three months old today. Three months! This is all going by too quickly. Way too quickly.

Mia sleeps through the night (and has been doing so for a month now), smiles and giggles, plays with toys, rolls on to her side, and enjoys watching cookery programmes. She's still in a moses basket next to me, and I'm in no rush to move her to the nursery. I'm glad she's petite because it means she still fits in the basket. She now weighs 10lbs 14oz (still on the 9th centile) and is still exclusively on the booby. Go me! Her eyes are blue and her hair is dark brown, but I'm not sure if either will stay that way.

I love the enormous gummy smile that spreads across her face whenever I look at her, especially when I peer over the side of her basket before I turn out the light to go to sleep. I love how she clings to my neck when I hold her. I love how she giggles when I wear glasses or when Jack performs for her.

She is my little Pixie Stix, bright-eyed and beautiful. Happy three months, my princess Mimi.

Saturday, 15 September 2007

which reminds me...

Warning to all UK parents: I think a major grocery store chain has brainwashed my child. Subliminal advertising on those little television screens in the biscuit aisle at Bar Hill? Drugs in their organic whole milk? Suggestive imagery in their logo? Who knows, but for some reason, my son has said the following recently:
[When Paul said that Jack could eat his lunch outside "al fresco"] "No daddy, I not eat at Tesco!"
[When I said that the disco dancing clip in the post below made me laugh] "I like the Tesco movie!"

And even when we try to correct him, the answer is always "No! Tesco!"

I'm scared now.

soooo mature

Star in Your Own JibJab! It's Free!

This has been making Jack and I giggle all morning. We really need to get out more.

Friday, 14 September 2007

she got me

Vero tagged me on this one*: 8 random facts or habits
  • I can do a good impression of a pigeon. My friend Eric and I used to make pigeon noises over the intercom at the bookstore where we worked. It was very entertaining to see people look up in bewilderment. We also used to page people to random spots in the store like "Richard to the front window, please. Richard to the front window." Ah, youth.
  • I always shut the lid before flushing when I use the toilet on an airplane. I'm afraid of being sucked out into the atmosphere if I don't. Like a 20" disc of plastic is going to prevent that, I know.
  • When I was a kid, one of my many allergies was to citric acid. I mean honestly, who the hell is allergic to citric acid? I think the doctor made that one up for a laugh during my allergy test. "Oooh look! That bump there? That one was for...erm...plether. Stay far away from faux leather."
  • When I'm trying to explain something to someone here and don't know the "British" word for it, I need to resist the urge to say it in French. My brain only knows how to translate between Canadian and French.
  • I can't eat raw tomatoes unless they have been skinned, de-seeded, and put on top of bruschetta.
  • I have a fear of wasps. They don't make honey and they sting you for no good reason. Plus, they don't die after they sting you. They just go on doing it because they're bored and irritable. If they made honey, they wouldn't have to resort to such things.
  • I've never been to a dentist in this country; I go to my dentist in Ontario when I go home. I don't even know how to sign up with a dentist here.
  • I've never mowed a lawn. Allergies, you see. *achoo*

*(Yes, I know I'm supposed to tag eight people and post the rules blahdy blahdy blah, but I'm lazy like that. Just feel free to nick this and join in!)

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

aaaaand relax

Today was our first baby massage class. I very cleverly plugged the address into TomTom so that TomTom lady could tell me how to get there, but didn't realise that TomTom doesn't display the house number after you've entered it in. BadBad TomTom. So I'm sitting in my car on the road where the class is held, with no idea which house to go to. I ended up calling Caroline to ask her to look up the web site and see if there was a postal address, which annoyingly, there wasn't. I saw a lady get out of the car in front of me carrying a baby and asked if she was going to baby massage, and thankfully she was and told me the house number. So, feeling stressed and more than a little bit dorky, I finally made it to class.

For the very first time, I found a group of mums who don't look at me like I'm a lunatic when I try to make friendly small talk. These mums talked to me! Some of them spoke to me first! Oh happy days. The class was lovely, very calming and interesting. Mia loved being massaged and spent most of the time checking out the two younger men on either side of her. At the end of the class, we spent a few minutes chatting with each other. I talked to one mum about c-sections and reflux (the latter I know nothing about, but that never usually stops me from giving unsolicited advice), and demonstrated my sling for another. It was a fantastic morning.

One of the main reasons why I am hesitant to join any mother/baby groups is due to my past experience with snooty mums. In Jack's swimming class, none of the mums chatted with me and it was made worse by the "clique" mentality of the mothers who had been taking swimming classes together longer. It still happens to this day when I go to Jack's nursery. A couple of the mums are really lovely, but on the most part, they never speak to me or return my smile. One of them really hacks me off because her daughter not only goes to Jack's nursery, but she was in Jack's swimming class - they've known each other since Jack was 4 months old, but the mother still barely manages to look at me when I see her.

I'm a nice lady, really. I promise that when I smile at you or try to chat with you, it's not because I'm insane or trying to convince you to join my religion. Come on, ladies of Britain! I know you can do it!

Sunday, 9 September 2007

which reminds me...

In a similar vein, enjoy this snipped of "Family Guy". (courtesy of Jen lady)

snickering under the duvet again

In the early hours of the morning, our little boy woke up (not for the first time, I might add) and bounded into our room demaning our full attention. Paul told Jack to go play with his toys in his room for a few minutes, and off he went. Eyes shut, we attempted to get a bit more rest until we heard:
"DADDY! DADDY! Come! Here! Right! Now! DADDY!!" [pause]
"DAAAAADDY! Come read my book!" [pause]
"RIGHT NOW! You come here!"
[in a small, quiet voice] "Aww. He's not talking to me."

Much giggling ensued.

Friday, 7 September 2007

Duelling babies

Duelling babies, originally uploaded by Lisa Durbin.

This photo was taken yesterday at our company's summer party. That's Caroline's gorgeous girl Emily on the left. She's nine months older than Mia (to the day) and they both have the same type of stroller (so you can get an idea of size comparison.) One workmate suggested that we race them, but I'm pretty sure Emily would win.

So yesterday, Mia had her first taste of solids. Jack wanted a snack, so I gave him a bag of Organix puffed corn thingies. I left the room to get a glass of water and upon my return, Jack said "I gave Mia a crisp!" I scooped her up and took a look inside her mouth, to see a slowly dissolving bit of corn thingy on her tongue. I stuck a finger in and scooped it out, while explaining (and attempting to sound calm) that Mia doesn't eat crisps yet. "Mia only has milk from mummy and you mustn't feed her anything, okay?" I said while Jack nodded and probably wondered what all the hoo-ha was about. I'm not too worried because I don't think any of it actually went down, and it was only an ogranic corn puff thingy that dissolves fairly quickly. What worries me is if he tries to feed her something she might choke on, so I've got to keep a closer eye on Mia's well-meaning big brother. This morning, unprompted, he said to me "Mia drinks mummy's milk. Mia has crisps when she's bigger." Phew. Okay.

Late last night, I heard a tiny croaky voice say "More water, please." I filled Jack's cup, and he said "Thank you, mummy. I love you, mummy.", had a drink, and went back to sleep.

This being a mummy business is not too shabby indeed.

(Click the photo to see some other recent Mia photos that I uploaded today.)

the accidental craftist

I seem to have stumbled into the world of arts and crafts, but I didn't mean to. It started with knitting: I thought it would be a fun thing to learn and hey, all the celebrities were doing it. I'd be one of those cool knitters though, not one of those people who stick dolls in toilet paper rolls and crochet a Jordanesque gown on them. Then I decided to make the invitations for Mia's naming ceremony, partially because I like personalised things and partially because it was something I kept meaning to do. I was going to make some cards for our wedding and I thought about it again for my baby shower, but I never got round to it. The other day, I bought two albums to save Jack and Mia's bits and bobs. Why just stick things on a page when I could add graphics and text, I thought. I have a background in graphic design, so this just seemed natural to me. I mounted some photos on coloured card, glued on little decorative bits, and added some text...and suddenly I realised that I had inadvertently started scrapbooking.

Oh, wait. It gets worse.

The other day I was looking at one of Mia's dresses that has a bunny on it made out of different pieces of fabric. At the same time, I was going through Jack's old clothes and things Mia has outgrown for the charity bin. Some things were too special to give away, but what could I do with baby clothes? Ah ha, I'll take little swatches of fabric from this clothing and make a patchwork quilt. Now I'm thinking about QUILTING, for christ's sake. I looked at books on Amazon and am watching some auctions for sewing machines on eBay. I don't know how to sew! I haven't used a sewing maching since Home Ec in grade 8! What's come over me?!

Is this something that happens as you get older? You suddenly get the urge to get into craftmaking? What's next? Needlepoint? Macrame? Dried flower arranging?

I'm still cool, right? Right? Help.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

out of the mouths of boys

First, I think I need to explain my last post a bit more. What I meant was, I was surprised at the interpretation of various concepts by American mums. My understanding of some things are quite different, so it was rather amusing that by their standards, some things I take for granted are really hip and way out there, man. For example, I use a Baby Bjorn or a sling sometimes. An American mum in the same situation might say she's a "babywearer". My understanding of "baby wearing" is part of the whole Attachment Parenting concept, which is a lot more complex than using a sling every now and then when you want your hands free. Does that make more sense now? Or maybe not. I am kind of tired these days. Anyway, it was an observation based on one mums forum that is generally frequented by lunatics, so probably not the best way to form an opinion about a country as a whole.

Yesterday, Mia, Jack and I went on lovely picnic with the equally lovely Caroline, Phoebe, and Emily. It didn't rain. And there was much rejoicing. The park in St Neots has a fabulous play area, and Jack had a great time playing with the Big Kids. I had a hilarious conversation with one boy, who was admiring Mia. He must have been around 8 years old.

Boy: "I love babies! They're so tiny and cuddly."
Me: "Yes, but then they get bigger and don't want to be cuddled anymore."
Boy: "Yeah. That's annoyin'. When I get older, I'm gonna get married so I can have a baby!"

If that kid learns how to cook and keeps the toilet seat down, he'll be quite the catch one day.

The play area has sand on the ground, and Jack took it upon himself to remove his shoes and socks at one point. "Where are your shoes?" I asked, and he pointed to the steps next to the slide. There were his shoes, neatly placed side-by-side with his socks carefully tucked into them. Excellent.

Along with this occasional tidy phase, he has been making his own scrambled eggs with daddy in the mornings. He also puts the seat down after each toilet visit. My boy will also make a good catch one day if he keeps this up.

Thursday, 30 August 2007

Ever since I had my home birth, I've gone all hippydippy. I'm a natural birthing/med-free/waterbirthing/midwife employing/baby-wearing/breastfeeding/co-sleeping* mad hippy mama. To top it all, I plan on making my own baby food. Really! Myself! Apparently this is also tres avante garde. Ah yes, and I always try to feed my family as much organic food as possible. Mad hippy, me.

It's funny because I don't consider myself to be that unconventional. I read Heat magazine, for goodness sake. It's just a matter of perception and to most mums, the concept of midwives, homebirths, slings, and keeping a moses basket in your room is terribly "crunchy" (i.e. a granola-eating person who lives in a cabin in the woods and probably worships trees or something.) But I drive a car, both kids are in disposable nappies, I watch a lot of trashy television, and sometimes I put things in the recycle bin that I'm not supposed to. I'm an ex-vegetarian, but I don't think that counts towards my hippydom. I was a fine arts student, though. That might count.

But anyway, slings - a fantastic invention. A great way to keep fussy babies happy and your hands free. I bought this overpriced one because I thought the fabric was really pretty. Not really the logic of a mad hippy, really.

*(Some seem to define "co-sleeping" as having the baby in the same room as you, which is what we do. I define it was having the baby in bed with you, but maybe that's just my misunderstanding of the concept.)

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

it's funny 'cos it's true

You've got to read this eBay auction description before it disappears. She's got a blog, too. We like them funny writing type mommy ladies around here, we do.

the vegetables of my labour

Everything is working against my vegetable patch this year; I was too pregnant to get anything in on time and it's been one wet and miserable summer. My tomato plants are healthy looking, but only started showing any fruit a few weeks ago and none of the tomatoes are red yet. My rocket grew well and was turned into several containers of pesto. A couple of weekends ago, I noticed the tops of some of my carrots were poking above the soil and I wondered if that meant they were ready to be picked. My father-in-law plucked a couple of carrots out and we discovered that they were a fairly decent size. We thinned the row out, leaving quite a few to grow for another month or so, and had this lovely bunch for dinner that night:

Gnarly, oddly-shaped, stumpy...perfect and delicious! Who cares if they don't look like the sort you buy in the grocery store? Two fingers up to you, Mr. Tesco! I grew my own carrots! Hah!

*root vegetable victory dance*

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

i turned two months old, and all i got was this lousy jab

Mia had her first round of immunisations today, and amazingly, I didn't cry this time. That's the cold, dark heart of a second time mum for you. It was really awful to see that heartbreaking face babies make when they get a jab, though. The needle went in and Mia frowned, looking thoroughly confused. Then her little eyes widened and she let out an almighty shriek, which abruptly subsided...until the nurse stabbed her in the other thigh with the second one. Like her big brother, she was absolutely fine as soon as the shots were done, and I let her know about the chocolate buttons she'll get when she has her MMR in about a year. I figured that talk about chocolate would brighten her mood. So far, I haven't had to haul out the Calpol; she seems to be doing just fine. If she's anything like Jack was, she won't be needing it at all.

In other news, Mia has been - touch wood - sleeping brilliantly at night. For over a week, she has been going from around 10 or 11pm until 5am without a feed. Our nightly routine has been: feed at 11, mummy and Mia go up to bed and mummy stays up way too late reading Harry Potter, sleep, feed at 5, and get a bit more sleep until the next feed at 8 or so. I would like to note that anyone who claims that formula fed babies sleep better is full of curdled SMA. Jack's nightly feeding routine was 8pm, midnight, 4am, and 8am - not a lot of difference from Mia's, and he didn't have this schedule until he was around 3 months old. I remember thinking that it was so much easier to have Jack on bottles (and later, formula) because it meant we could share the nighttime feeding duties. Thankfully with Mia, I'm only waking once to feed her and I don't feel sleep deprived at all. Paul takes care of Jack when he wakes up, giving me the chance to catch a few extra z's.

Speaking of which, we think we've cracked Jack's very early rises. He was waking up at silly o'clock (i.e. anywhere from 5-6:30) and no amount of persuasion could get him back to bed. On the advice of my friend Liz, I bought a clock that teaches children when they can get out of bed. The Kidsleep clock has a picture of a bunny sleeping and of a bunny happily skipping along with his little bunny rucksack on. You set the clock to change at whatever time you want your child to get out of bed. When sleeping bunny is lit up, it means Jack needs to stay in bed. When skippy bunny is lit up, Jack can get out of bed. This, along with the reward of Bob the Builder stickers has proven to be a huge success. Thank you, Liz! She's a teacher you know - she's knows stuff.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

tv guide

Two new cookery programmes have debuted recently on channel four: "Cook Yourself Thin" and Jamie Oliver's "Jamie at Home." As a food show addict, this seemed like very good news indeed, particularly as the new soft focus, seductive spoon-licking Nigella series doesn't air until September.

"Cook Yourself Thin" touts itself as a guide to cooking healthy versions of our fatty favourites. I'm all for this concept; far too many people think that going on a diet means eating plain lettuce leaves with a tablespoon of fat free cottage cheese three meals a day. I've long been an advocate of making healthy food enjoyable and tasty (hear that, Gillian McKeith? You look like a Pez dispenser designed by Tim Burton), and I was hoping that's what this programme would illustrate. Instead, heavily made up women with names like Harry and Gizzi maniacally whip up marginally healthy food, while they giggle like they've popped into someone's kitchen while out on a hen night. Each week, they attempt to teach a slightly overweight woman to follow their recipes and drop a dress size. So far, they've been successful which is pretty impressive - as long as you haven't noticed the small disclaimer at the end of the programme informing us that these ladies have also been following a calorie-restricted diet and exercise regime. So apparently, eating less and exercising can help you lose weight. Who knew?

On the flipside, we have dishes adorned with "glugs" of olive oil courtesy of "Jamie at Home." Love him or hate him, I have always admired the fact that he makes cooking seem easy and accessible. His new series focuses on simple cooking using one main ingredient, such as tomatoes and courgettes. As always, there's an Italian slant on his dishes which is probably why it appeals to me so much. There is, however, one slightly unnerving aspect to this show: Brian the gardener. Looking a bit like someone Jamie found sleeping in his strawberry patch, took pity on, and decided to employ, Brian sucks the life out of this programme. He's no Matt James, that's for sure. My only other complaint is the way Jamie speaks to someone standing slightly to the right of the camera. Hello! We're over here! Hello! Oh bless, I think he's got a lazy eye.

Tarts or tomatoes? I vote for the tomatoes. Especially if they're grown by Matt James.

Cut n' paste

Cut n' paste, originally uploaded by Lisa Durbin.

So for some reason (let's blame it on the lack of sleep), I decided to make the invitations for Mia's naming ceremony in October. I am not normally the crafty type, unless you count my half-ass attempt at knitting and my ability to bake brownies. I made 14 invitations out of acetate, coloured card, pink gingham ribbon, photographs of Mia, and adhesive quotes about children/babies. Although judging by this photograph, apparently cardmaking also involves a banana, 4 apples, 2 avocados, and the latest copy of Heat magazine.

I'm quite pleased with them. If I can remember to get them in the post, I'll be even more impressed.

Sunday, 12 August 2007

so that's what they're there for

This post of Heather's made me think about Jack's reaction to seeing mummy get her baps out every couple of hours; I wasn't too sure what he'd make of the whole thing. Would he think it was weird? Would he be jealous? Would he shake his little toddler finger at me and say "How come you didn't feed ME like that, eh? Bad Mother!!" He ended up not being that fazed by it and in fact, he stated "My milk's in my beaker. That's Mia's milk." (pointing to my boob) The only bit of explaining I may have to do is if he tries to feed one of the babies at nursery. When I say that Mia's hungry, sometimes he lifts his shirt up and says "I do it!" He hasn't quite grasped the fact that he's physically unable to breastfeed and gets very upset that he can't help mummy.

Although if they ever discover a way to do that, I'm all for it.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

and there was much rejoicing

To celebrate her 7th week birthday, Mia slept from 11:30pm until 7 this morning. Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeehaaaaaaawwwwwwwwwwww! Am I a Bad Mother for not waking up in a panic several times before 7:00? I slept. Oh yes, I slept. I woke up feeling like my chest was going to explode, but who cares? Sleep, beautiful sleep. How I missed you.

getting there

Halfway through Harry Potter now. All I'll say is I must have Hermione's handbag.

Monday, 6 August 2007


, originally uploaded by Lisa Durbin.

New photos of the bouncy boy and the polka dot girl can be seen here. Check the main page for the most recent photos.

(As requested by Jen, who asked nicely.)

Saturday, 4 August 2007

because he can

The other day, Jack decided to strip down to his nappy and put his wellies on.

This must be some sort of guy thing, right?

Thursday, 2 August 2007

hooray for boobies

Mia turned 6 weeks old on Tuesday and has been on the booby since her birth. Well, not literally - that would make things like driving and baking muffins rather awkward - I mean that I have managed to breastfeed her exclusively, and for that, I am proud. It doesn't hurt anymore but more importantly, our little girl is piling on the pounds (just like her mama, bless her.) She's now almost 9 lbs, up from 6 1/2 lbs at birth. She feeds brilliantly; she stays on long enough to get a bellyful and goes roughly 3 hours between feeds. She slept from 11pm until 5am on Wednesday, and went without a feed from 8pm last night to 4am this morning, the little cherub. Of course both times I woke up feeling like I was going to explode, but I'll trade that for extra sleep any day.

I am not saying any of this to make formula feeding mums feel bad - been there, done that, still have the little formula dispensers to show for it. I am boasting because I was so determined to breastfeed Mia but at the same time, had a huge sense of dread because my experience feeding Jack was so negative. The fact that it went much better this time makes me very, very happy. Besides, I can't get too smug because I don't plan on breastfeeding Mia beyond 6 months so she'll get formula eventually anyway. No lectures about this point, please. I am comfortable about weaning Mia once she's established on solids. I'm selfish. I want my boobs back for Christmas.

So here we are at that important milestone everyone talks about when having a baby: six weeks postpartum. This is when your c-section recovery magically ends at midnight, the day on which Gina Ford claims your baby should be sleeping through the night, and the time for your uterus to shrink back to normal size. (One of the former points are true - can you spot which one?) I can honestly say that I feel completely normal, just a bit more tired than usual. Nothing aches that didn't before I got pregnant, my rings went back on ages ago, and thankfully I was out of maternity wear after two weeks (as opposed to three months postpartum with Jack.) I've got weight to lose, but most of it are pounds that slowly crept up on me over the past two years. The "baby weight" is gone; all that remains of my pregnancy-related gain is around 4 lbs of "cake weight." Ah, good times.

Just waiting for all my hair to fall out and my boobs to shrink back to something less than size Jordan With Water Retention. Shall keep you posted.

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

value for money

One of the good things about not having a lot of free time and being really tired most of the time is that it's taking me forever to finish reading Harry Potter. At this rate, I should finish the book by Christmas.

Does Darth Vader end up being his father? No, wait - don't tell me what happens.

Tuesday, 31 July 2007

It's obviously genetic.

Jack loves Kraft Dinner.
Originally uploaded by Lisa Durbin
This is the story of a boy and his Kraft Dinner. Click here to read this culinary adventure.

(And if you're reading this mom, we need more please. Thank you.)

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

now that's what i call spam

Well, at least my spam is getting visually more...interesting.

we should have called her tinkerbell

When I had Jack, Victoria Beckham had her son Cruz a few days beforehand. When I had Mia, "glamour model" Jordan had her daughter Princess Tiaamii a few days later. I haven't checked to see which other celebrities had children around the same time I had mine, so there could be more out there.

To the children of said celebrities I would like to offer my apologies for their insane monikers. It seems that as we selected hugely popular names, the universal Weird Name/Traditional Name scale needed to be re-balanced and as a result, you ended up with hideous names. So sorry, but hopefully all that money makes up for it.

i need hermione's time warping thingymawotsit

Okay, okay. I am the only person on the planet who hasn't run out to buy the latest Harry Potter book. I've been busy, alright? I do want to read it! I do! I just haven't bought my copy yet! Quit pointing at me and mocking me!

Actually, if someone could come over and read it to me while I go about my daily business, that would be lovely. Is Stephen Fry free?

Boys have cooties!

Boys have cooties!, originally uploaded by Lisa Durbin.

Considering Jack was also licking Mia's face yesterday (he really must stop hanging around with the dog), you'd think she would be relieved it was a kiss that time.

In other news, I'm sure Mia's giving us social smiles now. She does it when I look at her and/or talk to her, and does it to Jack as well. It's so lovely because she'll usually make a little cooing sound when she smiles. Click on the photo to see more images of my smiley beautiful girl.

Monday, 23 July 2007


Some reflections on second babies and how life has changed with your toddler.

Then: As soon as your child fills his nappy, you diligently replace it with a clean one, anytime day or night.
Now: If your child fills her nappy during the night, you don't bother changing it because a) she's generally pretty happy to sit in her poo and b) you'd rather have an extra 5 minutes of sleep.

Then: You wash and sterilise your baby's dummy if it falls on the floor.
Now: You check to see if anyone's looking, blow on it, wipe it on your shirt, and give put it back in the baby's mouth.

Then: You keep careful track of the frequency and duration of your baby's feeds.
Now: You're pretty sure you fed the baby today. You think. Hmm. Better get a boob out, just in case.

Then: You're adamant about restricting television time to a special treat only and it must be a programme on CBeebies.
Now: You encourage your child to watch Teletubbies and Bear in the Big Blue House because they last 30 minutes, thus allowing you more sleep on the sofa time.

Then: You ensure that your child's food contains no added salt or sugar, and is organic.
Now: Some meals consist entirely of pretzels. And you're okay with that.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Everything's rosy

Mia's rose, originally uploaded by Lisa Durbin.

My grandma's name was Yoshiko, but she went by the name "Rose" (or Rosie) because it was her favourite flower and it was easier for Canadians to pronounce. My great aunt Jane was also a Yoshiko and was like a third grandma to me, even though she was only related by marriage. I miss them both with all my heart, and the best way I could honour them was to give their name to our daughter. Mia's room is decorated with roses, and I had roses in my bridal bouquet. The birth flower for June is the rose. It was easy to find a plant to celebrate Mia's birth: a Champagne patio rose.

Today marks Mia's first month in the outside world. It's strange to think that one month ago she made her rapid and dramatic arrival, because it seems like she's been in our lives forever. She is tiny and precious, beautiful and bright-eyed. Happy first month, my gorgeous Mimi. xx

The first month of Mia's photos can be seen here.

How does my garden grow?

The veg patch
Originally uploaded by Lisa Durbin
Last year, I got all keen and planted vegetables and lo, they grew. And they were good. This year, I was heavily pregnant during prime planting/sowing season and everything went in late. If it wasn't for my in-laws coming to my rescue, it would still be an L-shaped patch of compost. We put in some tomato plants, potatoes, elephant garlic, carrots, and onions. I bought a small chilli plant that has now grown into a fine tall specimen that's showing promise.

The tomatoes have grown, but the leaves have gone weirdly patchy brown and curly (but they are fruiting.) The garlic has sprouted and the carrots have become big enough to thin. The potatoes have gone leafy, although I wasn't very good at keeping them earthed up - I can only hope that there are little potatoes in there. The onions did squat all and never even appeared above the topsoil. Not a great harvest, really. So, in a bid to have something edible come out of my veg patch, I went to the garden centre and bought some plants that are later season crops. I got red onions and spring onions (because dammit, I WILL have onions!), rocket/arugula, and baby spinach. This was all very exciting until I did a bit of research and discovered that the onions won't be ready for picking until next year. Ah.

At any rate, my veg corner looks better now and it has been lovingly forked (that's forked) and fertilised. I might only get one mushy tomato and a green potato, but what the heck. It would still be better quality than Tesco's. *meow!*

Sunday, 15 July 2007

baby grows

So the health visitor came over last Tuesday to weigh Mia. In one week, Mia put on one pound. ONE POUND! In a week! It might not sound impressive (I can put on a pound in an hour by consuming a tub of ice cream during an episode of Big Brother) but for a newborn, this is pretty cool stuff. Breast feeding is going really well, I'm relieved to say. I've now past the first milestone (by three weeks, Jack was on mixed feeds) and feeding is now painless. Breast shields and massive globs of Lansinoh for one week seems to have done the trick, hallelujah. I've been practicing various holds as well, becoming slightly more adept at feeding Mia and having a hand free to do important things, like changing television channels.

This is all very exciting for me. I couldn't feed Jack without an elaborate array of pillows and both hands (plus any extra on offer.) It never stopped hurting, and I never enjoyed it in the least. I dreaded more of the same with Mia, particularly when my nipples became cracked and painful. I had that familiar feeling of anxiety as I approached the next feed, and let out the same gasp of pain when she latched on. To be able to feed Mia without hesitation, feeling calm while she nurses, not looking at the clock and getting a knot in my stomach, and simply enjoying gazing into her little greyish-blue eyes while she looks up at me from my's priceless.

But before most of you leave with a feeling of disgust at my constant smugness since Mia's birth, it's not all been rosy. Paul has taken on almost all of Jack's daily (and nightly) duties so that I can take care of Mia, which means that my little boy now cries out for daddy when he wakes up or hurts himself. I went to comfort him one night when he woke up crying, and he pushed me away with an angry "NO!" and kept sobbing "Daddy daddy daddy!" while I tried not to cry. I'm trying to get involved with his daily routine more now, and it already seems to be making a difference - probably more for me than for him. Mia seems to be going through a growth spurt, making for some very restless nights and grumpy evenings. For all of us.

And tomorrow is my first day alone with toddler and newborn. Please come over and bring as much cake as you can carry.

Monday, 9 July 2007

water baby

Mia's first bath!, originally uploaded by Lisa Durbin.

I gave Mia her first bath while Paul gave our little boy a wash in the big tub. This is a huge deal for me; Paul did Jack's first (and the next few) bath in hospital while I was bound to a bed by a catheter and IV. It's the little things that are making me so happy - even meconium poo. I never saw Jack's and never got to change any of his first nappies, which sounds completely insane, but it's one of those things that everyone normally experiences and I missed out. So this time, I've seen all the poo, done the first bath, and all the other mundane things that I couldn't do before.

I went out with Mia on my own yesterday (which I could have done sooner, but just didn't have the need to do so) to that favourite first outing location of most UK mums: Tesco grocery store. My first solo excursion with Jack was at 8 weeks, so this is another mundane yet thrilling milestone. The elderly cashier asked how old Mia was and I told her Mia's just over two weeks. Usually cashiers ask if you need any help packing or "Are you okay to pack?" but this cashier said, in a most serious and concerned tone, "Are you okay?"

I am more than okay, thanks.