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!