Saturday, 30 April 2011

A right royal party!

I wasn’t hugely excited about The Wedding until Friday morning but by the time it started I was completely obsessed and caught up in the fairytale. I'd suddenly realised that we will probably never watch such an event again in our lifetime. It is the kind of moment that you will remember where you were when it happened in years to come. We'll tell Mabel that we watched it with her Granny Babs and that she was just over 3 months old.

I adored the lace on Kate's wedding dress, was mesmorized by the strangely old fashioned yet somehow endearing traditions (imagine courtseying to your mother in law) and LOVED how genuinely happy they looked later in the day driving through London in an Aston Martin.
Controversially I also liked the outfits of those slightly wayward princesses, I can’t help but love a bit of Vivienne Westwood (

We then spent a lovely afternoon at one of the Milton’s legendary all day drinking parties...hmmm something seems to have changed?
Paul's birthday 2009:

Paul's birthday / royal wedding party 2011:

 ....think it might be called our 30’s.

Mabel could not stop smiling at Jess (Phil & Claire’s little girl). Maybe she knew that’s where most of her hand me downs have come from (although she did wear a brand new dress to the party, bought for her by the lovely Hannah and Wade)

Happy times. Do you think Kate and Will are having 'post wedding' blues yet???

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Surely not another nappy incident???

So Mabel had quite a traumatic day today and not in part due to her parents.

This morning we went for her next set of injections, which actually were much better than last time (no huge red leg) and the nurse was really lovely with her, but all the same not the best start to your day if you're Mabel.

Then we drove to Gordon Riggs garden centre near Rochdale (really good garden centre - I have aspirations to get going on the old vegetable patch, you know because we have nothing else on at the moment). Mabel went in her sling, held by G Kisby, and after a quick cup of tea and toasted teacake we started the shopping.

We hadn't got far, in fact I was just debating which type of mint plant we needed, when G Kisby snook up behind me and whispered,
"Er Hel, I think we have a poo incident"
"Shhh, it's the man behind me I think, not Mabel", I whispered back walking away from the smell, which I'm sure you'll agree is actually really bad if you think has been made from another adult.
G Kisby followed me,
"Nope, I'm pretty sure it's Mabel"
"Babe, that is surely not coming from our baby, come this way"

We walked around the outside section of the garden centre pretty quickly since G Kisby still looked pretty unconvinced, and with Mabel now getting grouchy my 'wandering' round the garden centre pondering veg patches was clearly not going to happen.

When we got to the car (family saloon is in the garage so this week we have a ridiculously small 2 door courtesy car), Mabel was promptly placed on the front seat (you can't get into the back easily without crawling) for a nappy check.

"I knew it wasn't Mabel" I shouted back to G Kisby who was in a battle with a bag of woodchip that wouldn't go into the ridiculously small boot,
"Really?" he replied, "You take the trolley back and I'll get her in her seat then"
(aka, I don't believe you, get out of my way so I can check myself 'half a job' Hel)

I returned to find G Kisby stripping Mabel, "No poo, seriously where did you look? You may have missed some of it since it is pretty much right up her back due to her being in the sling on release"

"Noooooooo" I replied seeing that the baby grow was pretty much sodden.

So there we were, for about a minute, squeezed in the front of a Mazda (not ours) which is parked alongside a really busy road, G Kisby holding up under the arms our poo covered baby who by now is half dressed,

"What we gonna do? We can't do it here, she won't fit in the back seat, oh God it is everywhere"
"Well...not panic", came back the ever calm G Kisby, "we'll have to change her in the car on the front seat"
"Oh God"

So leaning into the front passenger seat G Kisby attempted to change our baby without getting any of the bright yellow poo onto the black seats of our courtesy car whilst Mabel screamed both at the fact that her head was hanging off the seat (I did try to help with this, I was sat in the drivers seat being really helpful by saying things such as, "careful", "watch her head" and "oh my God she's gonna be freezing") and the fact that it wasn't a particularly warm day and she was being undressed pretty much outdoors on a main road.

Just to add another technicality, right in the middle of it all the owners of the car parked next to us returned and wanted to get into their car (which they couldn't with G Kisby stood in the gap between the cars)

"Fxxxxxx hell" G Kisby muttered as he smacked his head on the roof trying to get out of their way.

After it was all over and Mabel was, pretty much, clean we then had to comfort her with food. Yes I know this is not allowed but to be fair it wasn't exactly her fault that she was traumatised in the first place (G Kisby nipped back in to wash his hands, love it - hygienic even under pressure).

So we learnt some more lessons of parenting today:
- Never try to change your baby on the front seat of a small car which isn't yours
- Always check right up the back of your baby's nappy

'I can't believe you tried to blame that unassuming guy just wandering around with his wife" G Kisby muttered as we drove away, "I'd know that sweet sickly baby shat smell anywhere"

Poor guy, I hope he didn't hear me...

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Wentworth castle

We spent time relaxing and eating chocolate at home today following a couple of very busy days.

On Friday we moved my Mum into her new Granny Flat (see for all the details and photos.

Then yesterday we spent a lovely day with our gorgeous friends Amy and Matt having a picnic at Wentworth Castle. We learnt a couple of things:
a) An electric mobility buggy does not go up large grass verges, the type surrounding a formal garden bed, easily - G Kisby was literally almost in a collision with a speeding granny on said buggy who nearly took Mabel out. Amy and I had a 'school girl' style laughing fit and had to leave the area to the disappointment of the boys
b) Removing the rain cover from the pram, "don't think we'll be needing that today", is never the right choice. We looked like complete new parents on the way back to the car during a sudden down pour trying to walk and hold the sun umbrella over Mabel's head.

We agreed to organise the picnic but they pulled out 2 cold beers and some homemade buns to add to proceedings - very much appreciated

We then came home and enjoyed our first BBQ of the year: butterflied leg of lamb, bean & pea salad and some excellent chimi churri sauce (Leon cookbook, a must have purchase). Enjoyed with a cold glass of wine - lovely!

Just thought I'd mention also, when I got up one morning I found this on the floor and a large mark where it should be on the wall. Hmm, apparently I put on one coat too many (

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Bad parents...

So Mabel and I have now completed our 'baby massage' course, which has been well worth doing and was free through Sure Start(

The strokes are pretty easy to do and you are given handouts to follow but it was nice to go along and see exactly how to do it, particularly how firm to be and how to build up the body parts towards a full massage.

I hear that not all babies like it but we have done it a fair few times at home since and Mabel appears to love it. It is supposed to help bonding, muscle development and promote good sleep; not sure about the latter but we both enjoy doing it either way.

Now a few weeks ago Fee mentioned to G Kisby to watch out for 'neck rot' and I kid you not OCD boy pretty much checks her neck at every available opportunity. Needless to say her neck has remained rot free.

However at our last session of massage we covered the arms. Picture the scene, there we all are, babies lay on mats in  a nice close circle facing the middle, happily following the instructions when we move onto the arm pit stroke. I follow along, Mabel is happy as larry. Then I notice a small crease which appears to be 'welded' shut. I glance around the room to check no-one is looking then pull apart said crease. And there it is, oh my God, it has been stuck together with some sort of yellow cheese like substance (curdled milk?) which as hardened into a crust. We have been so busy watching the neck we took our eye off the pit.

I try not to look alarmed, I need to get rid of said cheese but am well aware of how this looks (bad parenting, poor attention to hygeine, G Kisby will have her arms above her head on a hourly basis). I reach for my bag and pull out a wipe, pretending to mop up some dribble (a ha, finally I am grateful for the constant wet chin). Another glance round the room then one brisk, but firm sweep across the arm pit appears to do the trick.

But no...I have not accounted for the smell, and through attempting said operation I appear to have angered it. I have no idea what exactly this substance is but if you imagine milk left out in the sun for, say, a week, yep - that bad. 
So bad in fact that I had to leave the other pit until we were home.

So it turns out that it is not just the neck that can get 'rot'. When Mabel now has a bath we get that flannel into every single fold of her chunky body, pulling back all those creases. And G Kisby has slightly adapted his, "she doesn't need much washing, she doesn't get dirty" stance.

Bath nights have certainly become a little more regular in our household!

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

12 weeks old (3 months???)

So Mabel is 12 weeks old this week (but is this actually 3 months? When do we start talking months not weeks?) and we are noticing the changes all the time now.

She can grasp her hands together and her arm movements are much more refined (as opposed to the random wailing / front crawl actions she has been doing since birth). She'll also grab a rattle or muslin now, though she needs some prompting and it takes huge concentration!

Her head is loads more stable. G Kisby tried doing an 'aeroplane' action with her at the weekend, with her lay on her tummy on his knees looking down at him. She loved it but I reckon as a new parent you only do that once with a recently fed baby! I'll just say the sick resembled a waterfall...including the splash back.

You can also have a real chat with her when she is alert, she is right on the verge of laughing. Her huge smiles do genuinely make every nappy change and night feed worth while. O.k maybe not the nights where she regresses to newborn status and gets me up every 2hrs but most nights (I joke, obviously).

I've not added nearly enough photos recently so here is our gorgeous little lady on a number of recent outings:

This is Mabel with her lovely friend Erran, happily lying on the mat together...

Until I mentioned that I really liked Erran's top and suddenly Mabel seemed to take issue...

As I post this blog G Kisby is cooking tea whilst singing along to both male and female parts of 'Endless Love' by Richie/Ross. The noise level and sheer quantity of effort he is putting in are both entertaining and slightly worrying in equal measures. Apparently, me and him need to 'lock this down' as a duet we can do together.

No...we really don't. Besides which I think he has pretty much got the female part 'locked down' all on his own.

Oh no, it's now finished and yet he is still singing it. Make it end...

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

A battle with myself!

You may remember me saying that our baby struggles to sleep in the daytime. No, that actually doesn't cover it, she is 'anti sleep', she will do anything to avoid sleep (eyes rolling but holding those lids open...just), she laughs in the face of sleep.

Now I can usually get round this, since a 12 week old who doesn't sleep between 8 - 6 can be quite hard going, by taking her out for a walk (ahhh, let's see you try and keep those lids open with a bumpy pram ride) or in the car (again, movement is my saviour). And we do both enjoy a good walk or tend to leave the house most days therefore a car journey provides a half hour nap or two.

However, I am realising that depending on such tactics may not work long term, it would be pretty handy to get a bit of washing done on a day when in the house and Mabel is so much happier and more playful if she has managed to sleep.

So yesterday I attempted to break these bad sleep habits.

Rather than waiting till she was tired (which I've fallen foul of in the past) after her mid morning feed (sucking her hand, yawning, all the signs were there) I popped her down in her basket, in her sleep bag and left the room.

And waited. Twenty minutes went by with her happily gurgling, occasionally snorting (nothing unusual there, Fee is right that I gave birth not to a baby but a little piglet) and cooing.
Twenty flaming minutes with no sign of sleep.

And whilst this was going on did I get on with my list of jobs? No. I sat outside her room peeping in the door like some sort of absolute loser. I emailed G Kisby (from the landing, sat with laptop on my knee) asking for reassurance that this wasn't neglect. I pretty much sat on my hands, quietly.
Thirty minutes later and the goos turned to tired cries. But by this time it was thirty minutes, I couldn't leave her alone for thirty minutes could I?

Downstairs again, now with a baby happily dozing on my shoulder (success? O.k not really - who am I kidding), I found a missed call and text from G Kisby, "if she isn't crying she'll be fine", "you're doing o.k, just leave her for a bit".

Dam it! Baby wins. Though in this case I'm not actually sure she even knew much about it...the battle was very much with myself!

Monday, 18 April 2011

Pelvic floor lesson!

O oh, the lack of pelvic flaw (yes I know it is meant to be 'floor') exercises came back to haunt me this week.

I am well aware I should have been doing them for months prior to baby and also now continuing afterwards but lets face it they are annoying to do and easy to forget.
I'm not getting to see the results, like I would a toned stomach or lovely defined arms
I have to really concentrate on getting them right or find I have slipped into the easier option of clenching my bum cheeks and passing it off as a good 20 tenses
In some positions I swear I can't work out if I am doing them at all (a worry)
A week goes by and I remember I haven't done them...again

A very thoughtful friend sent over some bitesized 'Mabel friendly' yoga clips - you see where this is going. On one particular move (I'll save you the details, I'm sure you can imagine) I was trying to hold the pose (leg muscles starting to shake, willing the instructor to tell me to move on, breathing resembling that of labour more than the controlled way I think he was suggesting) when I coughed...and only just managed to stop the worst happening! Oh my God!

So I'll be getting right on with them this week then!

Friday, 15 April 2011

Baby development anyone?

I am fascinated by this subject currently, for obvious reasons.

There are some good websites you can look at for 'what your baby should be doing at x months' but they tend to be quite basic.Then there are your 'Gina Ford' type books which give parenting advice but very much come from one angle and tend to be on a certain topic like establishing a routine.

At the other end of the spectrum, from what I can see, there are books on 'early years education' which are aimed more at students / early years practitioners and are perhaps too theoretical or advanced.

I am enjoying 'making' my own toys and games for Mabel, be that actually sewing a sock monster (I am on with that) or using household objects to stimulate her sense of touch. Yesterday I found that when sitting her up against my knees and dangling a bib (easy to hold) near to her hand she would actually grab it. This is a very new thing and it was mesmerising to watch her complete concentration (all be it for a few minutes max) on controlling her arm.

Perhaps it is driven by missing work (designing training) and needing some intellectual stimulation myself or my ongoing need for a bit of structure but I am wanting to learn more about how she develops and practical tips on what I can be doing to help her along the way.

I've not found the answer yet but shall be asking my very talented brother in law who is an expert on early years development ( for his advice on books and spending some time researching websites and blogs to find the best ones.

I'll update my findings soon!!!

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

First night alone with some breastfeeding debate!

G Kisby is out with work tonight so I am home alone (he is getting the train home 'later', whatever that might mean. Last time he practically ended up back in Manchester due to a 'falling asleep' incident on said train and that was before a baby so we'll see). Nothing new on the evening front but a bedtime alone is a new experience.

I am currently doing that thing where I am in bed and convinced that I can hear someone downstairs. Obviously I will now have to remain in bed (regardless of any need for nappy changes or toilet trips). Yes I am well aware that the dishwasher makes the same noises every night but once you've even considered the alternative every single minute sound becomes exaggerated. Keeping myself busy by writing a blog post.

I am also hiding from my newborn. That's right, she has started to stir and to try and keep her asleep I am sat in the dark with the laptop under the covers. What on earth has my life become?

Tonight I watched the BBC3 programme that was on recently re breastfeeding:
It made good viewing. It was filmed by someone who struggled to do it and showed a number of real-life situations both good and bad. I think the overall message was to say that it isn't easy and you shouldn't feel guilty if you do turn to formula. I agree with both points and actually therefore feel pretty proud of myself for managing to keep it up. Apparently only 7% of babies are still being exclusively breastfed at 4 months old, that's a pretty depressing figure and suggests we are really getting something wrong in this country (these figures are very low compared to other countries breastfeeding rates).

Unsurprisingly I do have an opinion on how things could be better:
1. Support, although available from health professionals, needs to be there earlier and for longer. Once you have poor attachment and bleeding nipples you are already on a slippery slope (particularly if this means you have a hungry baby). Although I hated having to stay in hospital I do think I benefitted greatly from the extra time to practise breastfeeding before leaving.

2. There are still issues around 'celebrity' endorsement and whether it is seen as the 'done thing' (particularly with teenage pregnancies). I just don't see that many women breastfeeding when out, not sure if this is because there aren't many or that women don't feel comfortable doing it in public. Either way the more 'normal' it is to see, the less conscious you'd feel doing it.

3. And lastly an acceptance that it isn't right for everyone, it doesn't always work and pushing it to do so actually creates worse PR than supporting a move to formula when necessary.
Acknowledgement that it can be tough and peer support would both be useful (in a bid to promote at all costs the challenges can be downplayed which can set you up for a bit of a fall and you may be less likely to ask for help?)

Aside from the huge benefits, knowing how much I have also enjoyed breastfeeding Mabel I'd be really up for offering support to other women (particularly first timers) to help it work (or lessening the guilt if it doesn't). I'm not sure how, or maybe it is something for any future but the programme certainly got me thinking...

Monday, 11 April 2011

Just like buses...

You wait an age and then two come along, yep unfortunately I am blogging about poos again.
Last week Mabel went a whopping 11 days without so much as a streak. I even called the nurse at the doctors surgery to check what exactly I did if our baby never went again (at our regular trip to the health visitor she said it was very unusual to go a week and any longer I should get an appointment, the doctor was less concerned but didn't answer my question as to when exactly it did become an issue).

Anyway on Saturday, a very grouchy Mabel managed to go for her monster poo, then another came along tonight. Thank goodness, I had been doing all sorts to help it along.

I tried giving her boiled cooled water before her feed ("oh look she seems to like it" I exclaimed before realising just how much she can hold in her mouth without swallowing and just how far she can then spit it out). Time on her tummy was supposed to help, "I think she likes this too G Kisby, good for the old neck control as well" (as Mabel headbutts the floor repeatedly). I had even resorted to changing my diet slightly in the form of prune eating en masse (tell you one thing for certain, I'm glad that can now stop. I finally managed to get our 'anti sleep' baby to nod off this morning after about half an hour of rocking but then had to swiftly put her down for a highly untimely 'dash' to the bathroom. Needless to say she was awake again upon my return)

I had my first full morning on my own on Saturday too, in the form of a trip to the hairdressers. I managed to only send one, carefully worded so as to sound relaxed, text to G Kisby. My hairdresser, in response to my telling her that this was the case, kindly said I was to have nice conditioning treatment left on my hair in the treatment room. Ah man, all I actually wanted was to get the colour done and get home. Bizarrely despite looking forward to some time alone I then spent the entire time missing her and conscious of how long I was away. 

A quick trip into a busy Topshop on the way home then made me feel guilty that I was shopping when I should be getting back for next feed (not that guilty clearly, since still managed to force myself to purchase some more 'boob friendly' tops - these babies either keep escaping from everything I try to wear, or have no escape route at all as per the Dunelm incident).

Anyway unsurprisingly she was fine. Hadn't even realised I'd gone anywhere (dam it, knew I had time for H&M too).

Next milestone, leaving her with a babysitter....

Saturday, 9 April 2011

An ode to 'Bean'

Last weekend we travelled to Boston, Lincolnshire to visit Gary's relatives.
Mabel is incredibly lucky to have not one but two great grandmas and on this ocassion we went for lunch with great granny Bean.

There is some sort of story of how the name Bean came about but quirky title or not Bean is an absoute legend...
She still rides her bike into town, at least once a day, at the age of 83
She still lives on her own and whips up a two course lunch with 3 homemade pudding options for us coming (including 32 sausages for the 4 of us, "have another one Gary" - he takes his sixth, ' just so as not too offend' you understand)
She is so very kind, generous and thoughtful. I think she was as animated as I have ever seen her when we told her we were pregnant yet despite surely being desperate to see her new great granddaughter she didn't want us travelling 'during the winter with the dark nights, you wait till April'. She has also showered her with gifts.

As with many ladies of a certain age there were some interesting moments during the visit that make us smile, from "I hope that Camilla isn't at the wedding, she's where the trouble all started" to her delight at receiving a calendar of 'westies' in a range of settings - from in a hedge to on a beach - now we know who on earth buys such items.

But the thing that makes me smile most about Bean is her independace and frugality (we could all learn a thing or two). She will ride all over town to find a bargain and will rarely put the heating on even in winter (you can see your breath in the bathroom) - Babs assures me this absolutely isn't because she can't afford to.

There just isn't enough tabbard wearing nowadays I don't think!!!
Her complete determination to remain fit and well (she swears by olbas oil and lemon juice in water) is an inspiration.

Sadly my grandparents are no longer around so we will have to tell Mabel stories to keep their memory alive. I hope we will be visiting Granny Bean for many years to come so Mabel can learn first hand what a formidable lady she is...

Monday, 4 April 2011

I love a good museum!

On Friday we decided to spend the last day of G Kisby's holiday on a trip to York, primarily to visit the Castle Museum. Yes Mabel is too young to appreciate a museum but it was all about practising for when she is old enough (and also very much for our own enjoyment).

Since having Mabel I feel like I have changed in lots of ways, most of them positive.
I am more sympathetic, sensitive and considered (o.k maybe not the last one but I would like to be...if that counts?) However, there are a couple of changes I'd prefer to ignore and one of them very much came into play as we got ready to leave the house.

I have previously been caught asking G Kisby to, "turn that tv off if you're not watching it" and on this morning I actually said, as he put on a fashion brogue for our trip out, "are they going to be comfortable for walking around all day". What the hell, someone shoot me.
He was sympathetic to this error of judgement answering with,
"are you gonna check I've been to the toilet before we leave too". Hmmm.

I appear to have aged overnight. I think I might actually like a Honda Jazz, I've been watching Deal or No Deal religiously (a few times, though it kills me to admit it, I've added it to sky plus when out) and when G Kisby suggested a restaurant in Sheffield for us to visit on our first night out without Mabel I asked whether they did an 'early bird'.

It isn't just me either, on the way to York G Kisby actually laughed at Ken Bruce on the radio. In a bid to stop this behaviour I have bought some new trousers from Topshop that are definitely not flattering but clearly on trend.

Anyway we had a really great day out in the beautiful historic York. The museum was fab, loads of interesting exhibitions and lots of 'big' writing. I pretend to enjoy reading those small plaques filled with writing about font 6 that you get in some museums in order to appear cultured and intelligent, really I want to be with the kids in the' interactive' section lifting the flaps and doing some scratch and sniff. Aware that doesn't exactly sound right but you know what I mean. There is also a real life Victorian street with all the shops, right up my street (ha ha) and G Kisby particularly liked how camp this boy was on a children's game from yesteryear.

After spending as long as we could get away with wandering round - Mabel dozed happily in her carrier for most of it but started to get unsettled in the prison section - to be fair I was pretty scared, we went for a meander round York.

Lots of lovely shops and people watching to be had. We passed one gorgeous shop which housed pretty much every dress I have coveted throughout the whole time I was pregnant, one in particular that I just loved. G Kisby kindly suggested I, "try it on, we can splash out". The shop was between L K Bennett and Paul Smith, not sure it was the kind of splashing out that he meant (upgrading from George at Asda to Topshop say). Also, said expensive dress was not the one to buy in a size 'which will give me an incentive to lose those last few pounds', nor the type of dress which would benefit from a bit of baby sick which is just rubbed in so that 'I can get an extra wear out of it, save me doing yet another wash'.

We got back to the car with about half an hour to spare on the ticket so I sat in the front and gave her a quick feed before leaving. Turns out that is one way to stop a parking attendant pausing too long to check said ticket in the windscreen. Though I guess that probably depends on the type of parking attendant he is...

All in all, a lovely day out for us all!

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Mothers day delights!

So Mother's Day has new meaning this year and despite my protestations that it is a commercial enterprise I was secretly pretty pleased when G Kisby produced a small bag laden with carefully wrapped gifts this morning.

I also received a beautiful card which I had to read through quickly so as not to cry (I'll save it and read properly on my own at some point).

G Kisby is great at choosing gifts for me (this has not always been the case I hasten to add, there was the 'christmas jumper' of 1999 which was so horrendous that I completely forgot to maintain any tact and blurted out, "please never buy me clothes again, ever." It took nearly 8 years for him to forgive me that comment and make another attempt, which was a big success).

See below for a couple of the beautiful ceramic buttons I received, made by Karen Turner at Hodgepodge Arts
Love came calling, A handmade ceramic sew on button

What a lovely start to the day!!!