An Update on The Status of my Breastfeeding Antics.

You may or may not be interested to know that I have finally given up breastfeeding Izzy. In total, I fed her for 34 months. My first ever midwife once told me that breastfed children are very clever, if this is true then Izzy’s going to be a genius.

I pretended to give up in August this year but really gave up mid September. This came about after Fergus, my very pro-breastfeeding and tolerant husband, began to hint that it might be time to consider life without a baby/almost fully grown child stuck to my boobs. I knew that when Ferg began to think enough was enough that maybe enough really was enough.

By this stage we were down to just one marathon feed at bedtime. I would love to say that I was reluctant to give it up because my breasts were heavily laden with milk and the desire to nurture my last child just overwhelmed me, but there was barely any milk left in the old dears by then. No, the fact is that an hour long breast-feeding session gave me the chance to have a ruddy good read.

Oh the joy! The other two kids were downstairs silently watching telly, (they knew better than to invoke my wrath by interrupting “Izzy’s bedtime routine.”) and I was lying in bed, snuggling my very snugly Izzy and reading a good book. Does life get any better?? Any Mum knows, that a bit of quiet time where you get to do something you love, is a very precious thing. So precious in fact that I was extremely reluctant to give it up. The idea of losing my little oasis of peace and calm in an otherwise hectic and full day was quite frightening.

Anyway, one day, when Izzy said she wanted, “dudu”, as we called it, (Bit embarrassing, but at least not as bad as “bitty”) I just said no. I told her she was a big girl now and didn’t need it any more. It was awful! She looked up at me with her big, mournful baby-blues and seemed so confused and sad. My resolve obviously wavered but I stood firm. She kept asking for a few days or so and then stopped. Just like that, done. I was gutted, I’d secretly hoped she’d put up more of a fight and give me an excuse to start again. But of course she didn’t because she didn’t need it any more.

It’s usually such a joyful occasion when our kids reach their milestones, but sometimes it’s quite sad and signifies the end of an era. At least I can say with certainty that I gave this particular era all I had. Bye bye milky boobs, you’ve been super.

My little Izzy. So totally OVAH breastfeeding. Yeh, she is quite big and yeh it did look a bit weird.IMG_3061.JPG

What is it about Mummy’s Shoes?

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There’s something about Mummy’s shoes, especially high heels, my girls just can’t resist putting them on. Actually, neither can my son…

Ballet Day

I love YouTube. This morning I fancied finding out how to create the perfect ballet bun and YouTube showed me exactly what to do. In fact it showed me two ways, one of which involved some sort of hair donut which we didn’t own. Anyway, what joy! We made a bun and it looked pretty good until it collapsed and then it turned into a ponytail which was acceptable, if not as ballet-ish.

On the way to ballet, we always pass a dance shop and this morning we popped in to buy some ballet tights. Low and behold just next to the till, they had some hair-donut things, whoop whoop!

So we arrived at Maisie’s ballet class, put on the new tights and put in the hair-donut. It looked ridiculous. Of course it did, she’s three and the bun is almost as big as her entire head, so, as she walked into class, with a massive, over-fussy, donut stuck to her head, I crept away before the ballet teacher could catch my eye and give me a look I’m sure she’s given hundreds of other keeno Mums before me. Personally, I’m feeling inspired, next week we’re going to try a French plait. Might start my research now…

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When we went down to the woods today…

We’ve had a lovely Sunday. Despite the fact that Isabelle decided it was only right and proper that I should sleep for 2 & 3/4 hours last night, we all managed to enjoy the sunshine and go to the park. We played football, practised balance biking for Maisie for the 2nd time and took Izzy out for her first ride on the push trike. Maisie got her balance bike for Christmas and I’m very pleased with it, thankfully Maisie rather likes it too. It’s a bikestar balance bike that I got from Amazon, (I’ll do a piece on balance bikes soon!) image What frustrates me about balance bikes is that people who review balance bikes always say, “They’re AMAZING! My child simply looked at the balance bike and could COMPLETELY ride a real bike without stabilisers straight away!” This has not happened for my children so far. Sam didn’t just simply get it straight away, it took him about 4 or 5 practices (still not much), Maisie today sort of limped on it all the way to the park and back again which was pretty painful to watch, but nevertheless she had a lovely time. I’m sure she’ll get it soon, but she didn’t get it today which left me feelng like she’ll never get it. At moments I found myself acting like a drill sergeant, clapping my hands and commanding her to go faster, to look straight ahead and stop mucking about. Poor kid. Sometimes I just completely miss the point. But it would be nice if I didn’t feel like everyone else’s children got it STRAIGHT away! So, for all of you mothers out there who are out with their child who’s having their first few gos on the balance bike, don’t worry if they don’t get it in the first minute, it just takes a bit of practice and they will eventually get it and probably love it. They may not love it, but that’s ok, they’re not freaks, they just don’t like it right now. Ok, deep breath, rant over.

So, to football, we all played, well Izzy sort of played, she mainly just stumbled around on the grass with arms outstretched asking for the ball and then falling over – brilliant. I was in goal quite a lot, which was fine, but perhaps a waste of my skills, anyway, it was funny and sunny and we all enjoyed being out of the house.

After football we played in the park and the woods and generally just got beautifully tired out. Sam and Maisie are playing so nicely together at the moment. It’s as though someone flicked a switch that made them both realise that playing together is completely awesome and much better than Mickey Mouse Club House. Having said that, when we got home, Fergus and I were very quick to seperate the eldest two and give them some down time, (secret code for avoiding potential conflict due to extreme tiredness), you know what I’m talking about parents. All in all, a lovely day with minimal shreeking. Hoorah!
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Marscalicious Pasta

pastaMarscalicious Pasta

As a student, I always used to love adding marscapone cheese to pasta because it was easy and tasty, so the other day I saw it on the shelf in Sainsburys and wondered why on earth I hadn’t used it in kids meals! Marscapone cheese is pretty calorific but currently Izzy is barely eating anything, Sam’s a beanpole and Maisie wont eat it anyway, so calories are just fine as far as I’m concerned.

Ingredients
A splash of vegetable oil
4 heaped desert spoons of Marscapone cheese
A hefty splash of semi skimmed milk
A handful per child of the kids favorite pasta shapes.
Approx 15 fennel seeds crushed
A meat of your choice (we used ham tonight, but chicken works really well too)
A green veg of your choice (we used broccoli but peas work well too)
Half a crushed garlic clove (that was in a portion for 3 kids)

Method
Heat the oil on a medium heat. Put your pasta on to boil. If you’re using raw meat then brown the meat, if you’re using a cooked meat then add the broccoli first to soften it and then add the meat. When the meat is cooked and the veg is soft then add the marscapone and stir. When the marscapone has melted down then add the crushed garlic and fennel seeds (fennel not compulsory if you havent got it!) and stir. Add enough milk so that the mixture is a good saucey consistency. When the pasta has boiled just add the pasta to the mixture and serve.

The only trouble with this meal is that it’s incredibly tempting for the hungry mummys who are doing the cooking… left-over snack alert!!!

Sock Monkey – A Gift Idea

Monkeygang Sock Monkey
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All of my kids have a sock monkey, Sam got his from his Uncle Grant and Auntie Sarah and Maisie and Isabelle got theirs from their Nana. They’re all rather precious. The Monkeys that Nana bought came from The Darryl Nantais Gallery in Linton, which has an amazing selection of paintings, sculptures, sketches, prints and… Monkeys! The monkeys, originally came from http://www.monkeygang.co.uk though and are all handmade in Norfolk. Prices range from £7.50 – £20 and can be bought online. We love them, you might too!

The best bits about having children

The best bits about having children.

Now, I’m very wary about sounding twee, but as I always honk on about the bad bits about parenting, I thought it may be refreshing to focus on the good bits. It’s taken months of consideration (JOKE) but here are my conclusions…

1. Random acts of affection. When your kid suddenly decides to give you a hug or have a snuggle without an ulterior motive or demand in sight, you feel like melting, like this is what it’s all about. It’s as though you get a glimpse of heaven, where it really is all about love and then it’s over, but you bank that moment and store it up and draw on it when you need to.

2. Funny stuff. There is nothing funnier than your own child doing something cute or hilarious. Maisie’s club-mix of twinkle twinkle little star for example, or Izzy’s attempts at jumping or Sam’s break dancing are AMAZING. Well… At least to me and Ferg and Nana and Pops.

3. Play time. When they play nicely, either alone or with other kids, you feel like you’ve done a good job. There’s something wonderful about thinking that this little person is going to be ok, they’re not to going to grow up to be a psychopath, they may even turn out to be…nice.

4. Chats. When you have a chat with your child and they tell you stuff, it’s just very rewarding. It feels like quite an honour, when this little person tells you the minutia of their day, it’s like you’ve had a glimpse into a fresh and very complicated world full of wonder and newness. This sounds a bit odd, but if your child can communicate sensibly with you and you get a flash of the person they’re going to become, it’s just mind-blowing and terrifying and exciting and really, really sweet.

5. When you see them smile. I’m sorry, I know this is super cheesy, but SERIOUSLY, when you see your kids smiling so much that there’s not really enough room on their face, you find YOURSELF almost overwhelmed with the beauty and joy of it. Grinning like an idiot, just delighted and relieved and and happy that they’re experiencing joy, because that’s what we want for our children, we want them to feel full of wonderful joy.

6. Giggling. Giggling is very different to smiling, because giggling is often related to mischief or tickling or something that they find FUNNY. Watching your child find something FUNNY is fascinating. They have a sence of humor! Who’d have thunk it?

7. That first night when they sleep through. This is the holy grail for me at the moment, but one day it just comes and you notice it and you appreciate it because it’s a milestone that really makes a difference to your life.

8. Tough bits. When the kids are ill or afraid or unhappy and they need you and you help them because you are Mum or Dad, that’s just amazing. To be the person that a child wants when their little world feels shaky, is an honour above all else. But those times, which are often difficult times are the building blocks of your relationship with them. It’s these bits that make you a parent and show your children that you love them unconditionally and although that makes them hard it also makes them good.

9. When your hard work pays off. All kids go through phases of being wonderful or hideous, so when you come out of the other side of a difficult phase and you’ve stuck to your guns and managed to be fairly consistent and you see a difference at the end, it’s incredibly rewarding. It’s also a relief, as occasionally in the midst of a phase, you worry that your child may simply be horrible. When they’re not and you then know it was a just a phase, you can enjoy their actual niceness. Well, until the next phase starts at least…

10. They’re fun there’s no getting away from it, children are fun. They make you do silly things, they stop you taking yourself too seriously and actually they just make life much more interesting. Sometimes we just need to let go, to stop getting our knickers in a twist and go with the flow.

11. When they tell you that they love you. What else matters? Thats it, the pinnacle, the goal.

the end.

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Birds Nest Thrift Store – An Eco Friendly, feel good, bit of feathery fun.

I got this activity tip from the Cambridge Botanical Gardens magazine. Basically, the idea is that you and your kids go outside together and create a one-stop-shop for our soon to be nesting, feathery friends. They suggest finding some sort of hanging container like an old disused hanging basket and filling it with stuff that birds would use to make their nests. Here are some examples;

Moss
Feathers
Twigs
Straw
Grass
Lichen
String (?)

Once collected, they all just go into the container and you can watch the birds going back and forth using your bits and bobs for their nests. I think they suggested doing it in March, but if the sun’s shining then a bit of pre-empted foraging certainly won’t do any harm.

Cute idea, thanks, Botanical Gardens!

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Review of “Hooray for Fish” by Lucy Cousins

Hooray for fish is another of our favourite board books, but this probably has a little bit more longevity than most others in this category. My son who is six will still listen to this story with his sisters and he still remembers the words fondly.

This is an engaging story about a little fish who swims around saying hello to all his different fish friends. There’s Ele Fish (a fish that looks like an elephant) eye fish (who looks like an eye, you get the idea)  and many other silly little fishes. The rhyming is solid and the rhythm is very appropriate, giving a gentle but not sluggish pace to the book.

Izzy, who is one, loves the fly and sky fish, which in our family, requires a great flinging of arms, swiftly followed by some squeals of delight, but all have had their own, different, favourite fish.

I’m still not bored of this book, even after five years of reading it. The best bit, which definately requires actions, is the bit at the end where little fish says, “But where’s the one I love the best, even more than all the rest? Hello Mum.”
“Hello, Little Fish.” Kiss, kiss, kiss, hooray for fish!”

Like I said, definitely requires actions.

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An alternative to the Karvol Vaporiser (now discontinued)

Thanks to all who helped out with this, the best product we could find to replace the now discontinued Karvol Vaporiser was the

Two separate mums recommended this highly.
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Just had word from the company that owns Karvol and it looks like they have no idea about when it’ll be back… Here’s the email I received.

Dear Mrs. Duncan,
Thank you for your enquiry regarding Karvol.
Unfortunately, there is a long term out of stock issue with our Karvol range and we are unable to confirm when this product will be back in stock.
We can only recommend you to speak to a healthcare professional for an alternative treatment, as we do not manufacture any alternative product.
We apologise for this inconvenience this may cause.
Thank you once again for taking the time to contact us.
Kind regards,
Patricia Mendez
Consumer Affairs Representative

Word on the grapevine is that it was discontinued due to a potential fire hazard in the unit… However, this isn’t actually the case, Karvol have manufacturing rather than safety issues, so don’t be alarmed if you have been using their Vaporiser!