Tuesday, 28 June 2011

5 months old!

Our bambino turned 5 months old at the weekend. She has changed so much recently.

She is now starting to practise sitting up and using her bumbo,

She will actually sit through and enjoy hearing a good story
 (her current favourite is Monkey Puzzle - thanks Alison)

She is getting more wriggly by the day and now turns over much more regularly.
She has also found her feet and has started sucking her big toe, lovely! I still find it funny to imagine not realising you have a part of your own body...

 She will chuckle but it takes a bit of work. I got one recently whilst singing the power ballad classic 'Eternal Flame' (harder than you'd think to sing well) which was on VH1 'Sonia's Ladies of the 80's'. Not sure what is more worrying, the fact I was viewing such a programme or that Mabel found it funny. She was no doubt laughing at not with me.

 She has started to show preferences for certain things - she loves her dinosaur towel when getting out the bath (no idea why) and 'Agadoo' never fails to get a smile.

And she continues to fascinate, amuse, test and delight us on a daily basis!

Sunday, 26 June 2011

What's hidden in your loft?

You'll never guess what was in ours...no really!
As you may have read, we recently had our bathroom re-fitted by our builder friend Neale.
Whilst he was up in the loft doing the electrics he came across some very interesting magazines. We're talking a range of, largely gay, pretty full on, porn (don't really want these labels attached to my blog) from the early 1990's (G Kisby reckons it was more 1980's, not sure how he could tell, maybe from the mullet or was that the semi naked man in the hay stack was wearing a 'Frankie Says Relax' t-shirt?)

Anyway, so Neale told us there was a massive stash up there (previous couple who owned the house got divorced...hmm) and I decided in my wisdom they weren't the sort of thing you want lying in your paper bin so we would destroy them at a later date.

Neale also told us that the electrics were way dodgy up there so this week we had an electrican come to price up doing the job.

And here comes my downfall.

As I was preparing a cup of tea for said electrcian it suddenly dawned on me. Oh my God the electrian is going to uncover the large stash of 'magazines' (seriously if you are reading this because you searched for the word pxxn you arer in the wrong place). What the hell am I going to do. Do I take a chance that he might not find it (thereby running the risk that we look like a couple of strange vintage pxxn collectors) or go and explain myself (looking even more guilty in the process).

In my panic I made the split decision to spit it out,
"Er Mark" I shouted up to the loft
"You might come across something up there which I need to tell you about..." (alarm bells no doubt ringing in his ears - "get out, get out now")
"I think there are some slightly dodgy magazines up there, but they're not ours, they were here before we bought the house, you can tell by the age of them, I've not even been up there, I've been pregnant..." I babbled on, completely aware that I was sounding more guilty by the second (why does that happen?)

Luckily he had a sense of humour and came back down smiling (or maybe it was the very large chested ladies he'd come across...there's something for everyone in our loft..apparently!)

We then went into the bedroom (to check the plugs you realise, this post is becoming worse by the second) and I caught him discretely taking a look at the Agent Provocateur pictures on our bedroom wall (we were aiming for 'hotel boudoir chic', we don't just like Kate Moss, that would indeed be odd.) And yes I did question the decision to put these on our wall every time I waddled into the room pregnant.
I thought it was just that Miss Moss had caught his eye in her underwear but when telling Fee she questioned this,
"He probably thought it was you in a former life...he was probably thinking, "my God, she has let herself go, when did she become so dowdy?"

Dowdy? Dowdy? That word came out a little too quickly for my liking and is way harsh (though to be fair I'd take that if anyone thought I ever looked like Kate Moss. Ever.)

Oooooh no. He thinks we are secret pxxn users who even put pictures up of ourselves on our bedroom wall.

Dam it...he was lovely and it is so hard to find a good electrician nowadays.

Though I guess we might actually find we receive a very reasonable quote?!?

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Guilt free Friday!

I've learnt since having Mabel that there are loads of things that can make you feel guilty as a mother. And not just the obvious ones which I expected, like when returning to work (I still have all that to come!)
So I am having a guilt free Friday today in a bid to stop giving myself such a hard time (always so hard on ourselves - who needs enemies?)

My mantra is going to be the following:

- I'm not going to feel guilty that sometimes I count the hours until G Kisby comes home. I know that I am incredibly lucky to have this time and do truly appreciate every second we have together. But it is o.k to have days where you wish time away, because it is really hard work!
- I am not going to feel guilty that I don't play with her during every waking hour. It is o.k for me to have time for myself & she will benefit from a break in the stimulation - step away from the baby! G Kisby took this photo.  Her toys had obviously just been cleared onto her play mat (probably by him). She doesn't normally have this many toys to play with at once.....honestly.
- I am not going to feel guilty that I sometimes look forward to nap times so that I can get things done. It doesn't mean that I love her any less!

- I am not going to feel guilty that G Kisby and I have our own relationship which is aside from her and always will be (how ridiculous does that sound, of course we do. But I am so attached to this new little being who was actually part of me for so long that I feel guilt that we want to spend time on our own without her because she is ours and we are hers. But G Kisby and I do need to retain 'us', looking at it another way Mabel will surely benefit from being raised by parents who are still massively in love)

- I am definitely not going to feel guilty that I am out again tonight with friends for dinner and will be having a lovely big glass of wine whilst G Kisby does bedtime!

There...no more guilt for me!

I genuinely did not think I would do this whole 'mother guilt' thing but it turns out I have found it completely unavoidable. I'm thinking maybe everyone has their own list of 'guilt'?

Or is it just me being a bad mother...god dammit here it comes again!!! Ha Ha

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Fathers day revisited

Only a couple of days late I thought it best to mention G Kisby's first Fathers Day.

We started the day with a large bacon and mushroom 'barm' (as we say up North). I attempted to skip past the fact that I had asked G Kisby what he wanted for his special breakfast and he had said 'smoked salmon and scrambled eggs on a bagel' (I had forgotten and had to do a last minute dash to the co-op - needless to say smoked salmon was then pushing it).

Mabel almost almost started the day one eye down since I thought it a good idea to let her hold the card and pass it to G Kisby in bed. I had worried about how wet it was getting but not the corners - ah that common sense thing lets me down yet again.

We (o.k so it was more me than Mabel) hadn't finished making the gift either, but did provide a token in the meantime in the form of a slightly novelty mug (which I think is o.k since it matches our kitchen).

The other part to the gift was finished on Monday in the Chipper Nelly workshop, where if I am really honest, Fee pretty much did it for me. G Kisby had wanted a photo for his desk at work so we did a wooden block which will stand nicely by any laptop!

(sorry the photos aren't great tonight)

We then visited G Kisby's dad for lunch which was a lovely way to spend an afternoon.

I asked G Kisby if he'd like to tell me something nice to put on the blog for Mabel to read when she's older. He replied that he, "couldn't think of anything funny right now". I did try to tell him that sincere would work but he wasn't having any of it. Probably for the best since last time we talked about the advantages of being a parent one of his highlights was that 'families with young children' get to board the plane first. Ironic really (and very much not true Mabel!)

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

An edible gift is just the nicest!!!

At the weekend we had friends over for dinner (homemade curry, sorry Mabel, it turns out I just can't give it up).

And we received the gift of a home made banana loaf cake.

Now this isn't just any banana loaf cake - it is definitely one of the nicest cakes I've ever had. It has an excellent texture (slightly gooey in the middle but with crunchy walnuts), isn't too sweet (no icing) and I think should probably count as one of your 'five a day' since it contains bananas?

We have been baked one before by Matt (off've our good friends Amy and Matt) and since it was so good I attempted to make it myself but it didn't come close (he must have written it down wrong, it can't have been that I skipped out parts of the instructions due to my low boredom threshold surely...)

Perhaps it never does taste as good when you make it yourself?
Last night as we sat down with a cup of tea and a large slab of banana cake to watch Andy Murray it got me thinking...

 A cake is such a lovely lovely gift to receive. It takes thought, time, effort and not forgetting monetary cost, and the receiver is given days (depending on how hungry you are) of homely, comforting joy as a result.

We may be huge food fans but surely no-one can be unhappy with the gift of cake?

So thank you Matt, you are definitely still my 'favourite' (result of a very dodgy game, best not played after alcohol or indeed at all, re- which member of the couple is your favourite. Don't deny it, we all have one. We would just rarely say it out loud. Luckily in our case Amy is G Kisby's favourite and vice versa so everyones fine with it...I hope...do you think that might have been our last cake?!?)

It is a Nigella recipe if you feel the need to spread some cake love yourself... (though I wish you luck, please don't tell me if it comes out perfectly)

Saturday, 18 June 2011

The heady days of a summer in France...

Emily, who writes the lovely blog Unravelled did a post this week about some bunting she'd made for her tent - they are attending a family friendly festival this summer (very jealous).

It made me really miss camping, I can't wait until we can take Mabel to experience sleeping outdoors. Just not sure how old she needs to be before we take the plunge..

And I love the idea of making your tent that little bit prettier.

Four years or so ago we decided (admittedly on a bit of a whim, after a little too much cold white wine sat outside a lovely pub on a summers evening) to give up our jobs and go travelling around France for the summer. We didn't really think through the full consequences (do we ever?) but it was one of the best decisions we ever made. And occasionally don't we all need a little spontaneity?

We literally went from North to South, in our little Punto (called Billy) with a tent and a copy of Alistair Sawdays 'Special Places to Stay' (for odd nights of relative luxury in a Chambre D'hote).
We stayed in each campsite for as long as the sun shone and the local places to see kept us interested.

We cooked up cheap fantastic food from the local markets, drank tons of cheap but delicious wine, visited some gorgeous villages and met lots of lovely people along the way.

And every time we put up our tent, the last thing we did before opening said wine, was to hang a little heart on the front...

I hope when Mabel is older and wants to make a decision which may not be the most sensible financially (or otherwise) we will remember this trip and encourage her to take a risk and live life for the moment. We did and it has given us loads of really happy memories.

And in the meantime I can't wait to introduce her to the joys of a BBQ, a campfire, sitting / playing outside in that lovely evening sun, and all with a very pretty tent!

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Just another of the many many changes!

Prior to having a baby I would continually insist, "nothing will change between myself and G Kisby. Everythings going to be the same. Everything will be just fine" - sounding slightly more desperate to hang on to our past lives by the second.

I now realise that there are loads of ways in which your relationship with your partner changes and this is no bad thing, it just takes some getting used to. 

One thing we have had to work out is deciphering our roles when at home together.

In the week childcare is my full time job, so I look forward to a bit of a break when G Kisby is around and likewise he is really keen to spend time with Mabel. But with jobs there is the question of who does them e.g I am rubbish at cleaning (still don't fully understand the problem with dusting round objects since you never see under them?) and G Kisby is OCD boy (probably cleans under things twice just in case). We used to have quite clear routines on this front (mainly G Kisby cleaned, I didn't) but now the jobs don't match our strengths (to use some work speak).

But over the months (it does take time I now realise) we have slowly established a way of sharing the childcare & jobs so we both get time with Mabel & things do still get done. Largely with the goal of then being able to all spend time as a family.

The challenge for us both I guess, has been letting go of control.
"If you could..just...perhaps...hoover under the chairs as well..."
"Step away from the hoover..."

And I am the same on the childcare front. I realised that on the one hand I am frustrated that I seem to have to ask,
"can you get her dressed whilst I have a shower"
"what do you want her to wear?"
Then on the other I want that decision making right back,
"Just not that" I respond when seeing Mabel in an old, slightly too small, 'kept for emergencies' babygrow.

This became all too clear (to me, G Kisby is too laid back to notice, either that or I am completely dillusional - possibly the latter) on holiday so we decided (I decided) to have a full day where G Kisby made all the 'Mabel' decisions. Don't get me wrong, he spends a lot of time with Mabel but normally I will set the routine - "feed time is xxx / bedtime shouldn't be for whipping up into a frenzy" etc. 

And only then did I realise how annoying I was & it was no wonder that he let me think I was in control (anything for an easy life / knew what he was marrying in to)
I literally had to hold my hand over my mouth:

"Er, so would you say Mabel's face is clean then...?"
"Yes. I did it when we got dressed this morning"
"Good o"

"Er, so what you up to now?"
"We are playing. What are you up to now?"
"Nothing. Just interested"
"Do you want to move away from me then..."

I realised that I want us to share Mabel decisions but then don't allow it to happen. In my defence it is hard to let go when you are the primary carer all week. To use a dull cliche, he can't be properly hands on if I don't take my 'over anti bacterialised' hands off.

So, she may not have as many nappy changes (he will kill me for writing that and rightly so, if anything I am the one who is slap dash on that front. When he gets in from work I'll hear him say as he changes her, "ooh this is a very heavy nappy Mabel" and glance briefly at me. "It was changed an hour ago" I'll snap back defensively. It wasn't, obviously)

She may not be wearing the exact clothes I would put her in.

She may get chucked in the air slightly higher than I personally think safe (don't worry this isn't in fact high - I have unreasonable health and safety boundaries. No common sense - I once asked Fee if we could put her 1 month old in a beach bag to for a walk - but strict guidelines on safety non the less).

But G Kisby is often far better than me at making the decisions (o.k maybe I don't go that far), and Mabel willl only benefit from our at times alternative parenting styles.
It was an important realisation and yet another moment of clarity in the maze of having a new baby.

Mabel had her first bedtime feed from a bottle last night as I had a lovely meal out with work friends.  Ah suddenly very aware of the benefits of letting go of that control!!!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Way too uncool!

Something has happened to make me much less cool since having a baby. I'm not saying I was cool before, but suddenly, much much less.

Yesterday we walked to the shop with Mabel in the sling. When she is front facing everyone talks to her so we were stopped a couple of times and when paying the shop assistant commented,
"Arhhh someones happy"
To which I replied, with a kind of tut and eyes to the ceiling action and in a voice which just didn't sound like my own,
"For now!"

What???? What am I talking about? What am I, 60?
And what's worse, its not the first time I've said it.
I seem to have developed quite the range of similarly cringe worthy responses.
 For example:
"Fast asleep" = "lets hope it stays that way"
"How old is your baby?" = "4 months" (standard response, need to update that one)
"Isn't he lovely" = "Yes" and a smile

Hmmm, notice the last one.
And it turns out I am not the only one to overlook the quite regular mistake of thinking Mabel is a Micheal (the regular wearing of blue and lack of hair don't help)

G Kisby had a similar issue on the plane last week. Stood near the toilets waiting to do a nappy change a lady starts a conversation:
"Hello gorgeous" (to Mabel this is by the way) "How old is he?"

Now at this point G Kisby should have gone for either,
a) "She is 4 months" - thereby correcting the error with as little embarrasment as possible
b) "It's a girl and she is 4 months" - slightly blunter but gets the point across

What did G Kisby go for?
"4 months" (standard response as above)

Now this wouldn't be so bad, and of course I do empathise, if it wasn't for the fact that G Kisby was stuck in a confined area. Naive error. And so the conversation was able to continue...

"Ooh aren't you lovely" (note: not smiley / happy / content - she was obviously just being polite, we were on the plane at this point)
"Yeah it's not been an easy flight but not long now" replies G Kisby, etc etc. Until...

"What's his name?"

Ooooh no. It was far too late to correct and G Kisby knew it. But can you really carry on pretending your child is the wrong sex?


Interesting. It turns out I am not the only one who has lost a little credibilty since having a baby!

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Breastfeeding update!

Clearing out an old writing pad today I found my feeding log from when Mabel was first born. It really made me smile / shudder to remember how she was feeding every 2 hours for pretty much 24 hours a day.
The thought of my poor nipples during those early feeds still literally makes my toes curl. I fully remember stating to my Mum that there would NEVER be a time when it didn't hurt or that Mabel just attached herself no problem.

But of course, she was right, that time came. I can't remember when I stopped having to 'latch' her on and although we have had odd very minor problems with blockages / supply, in the main I have been really lucky. Now the only issue I have is keeping her feeding when there is anything remotely interesting (in her opinion) going on in the room.

We are starting to think about weaning our hungry little munchkin now and I have to say that when we do I will feel sad that it will be the start of the end for my feeding days. I will hopefully keep her bedtime feed for some time to come but I have a feeling that once she has the option of some decent food, milk might be of less interest. Who'd have thought it, I genuinely thought I'd be counting the days till I could drink again (o.k so I have drank but I mean properly), have back a bit more freedom and reclaim my boobs (lets hope I want to reclaim them after all they've been through). But no. I think I will miss the convenience and the closeness.

I thought it worth noting for any future children when no doubt I will have forgotten (I definitely won't take for granted that they will feed as easily as Mabel) or anyone else going through those difficult first few weeks, that it does get better and your nipples do recover. I'm very grateful that I've been able to do it...

And for this smile, I'd go through it all the harder times again anyway!

(pictures credited to Fee who has become quite the photographer and whose Spain pictures are so much better than mine! http://chippernelly.blogspot.com/2011/06/holiday-blues.html)

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Everyone should do this!

Bizaarely only last week we were discussing how technology has really changed the way we can log milestones etc.

You forget so much as a new parent, mainly the tough times I think which is probably a good thing, but only recently did I look back at my post about Mabel's arrival into the world and it brought back the emotions all over again - which is definitely a good thing!

I look forward to sharing (most) of my blog with our little lady when she is old enough! My Dad died when I was very little and the idea that in a different era I could have known so much more about him makes me smile (and almost cry). I hope that in amongst the tales and pictures she will have logged somewhere for ever just how much we love her...

Yes it is a Google advertisment but I genuinely think this is a fab fab idea.
And anyone can do it...

Can you 'spoil' your baby?

Is there a way not to over indulge your first child? And is it a problem if you do? I don't mean completely spoil rotten, just over indulge in a way that I'm sure doesn't happen with any future siblings (correct me if I'm wrong on the latter).

I'm talking about the fact that we accept Mabel won't go in her cot in the day and find ourselves rocking her to sleep in her pram ("that isn't bad, 10 minutes rocking for a good hours sleep," G Kisby reassures me. Hmmm, the very talk of an indulgent first time parent).

And if it's not sleep then it's something else.

She has so much of our attention; we make up games for her, sing rhymes to her, create personal renditions of popular hits for her (Phil Collins, "greasy baby" to the tune of 'easy lover' following her regular basting with olive oil, for example)
We rotate her toys almost daily, we allow her to demand being carried around (sometimes, not always. Or is this on her terms? Oh no now I'm unsure), read up on the stages she is reaching and are constantly inventing new ways to help her develop.

I thought we'd struck lucky with a baby who rarely cried (though it has to be said not lucky enough to have one that sleeps during the day. Yep, on our return from Spain she is back being trixy as ever). But something Fee said in passing as an observation made me wonder,
"It's hard to hear her screaming because it doesn't happen very often - you don't let her cry".

No wonder she's content, the world revolves around Mabel.

Is this a bad thing? And can you really avoid it with your first since it is all so enjoyable and new in many ways for us too. 

A friend mentioned that their second was much better at entertaining herself where the first, even as a 6 year old, required much more attention. 'Ooh I'd like Mabel to be able to entertain herself' I thought to myself. As if. I can see the pitfalls ahead but somehow can't avoid them, perhaps because I don't want to? 

Unbelievable, are we yet again being played by our 4 month old?
She looks at me all innocent when I suggest this:
Right, I want a self sufficient, confident, independant child. I am going to work on this indulgence thing. 

Just as soon as I pick up that toy for her...and as my back is turned...

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Back to earth with a bumpy flight!

It's nice to be home but lets face it, blogging tucked up in bed with a bowl of frosties on a morning just does not compare to being sat next to the pool listening to the sound of birds and the gentle bubble of water.

O.k so maybe I am conveniently forgetting some of the other sounds, like the boys debating who has broken the water gun (little boys that is, Al and G Kisby were more likely to be debating whether it is too early to start on a cold beer), Mabel grizzling for her next feed and the fact that yet again I have eaten one piece of bread too many (when will I learn to stop, I just have no will power when it comes to crusty bread and real butter). But all the same you see my point.

The flight home however, was not nearly so relaxing.

We knew the timing was going to be difficult since the plane didn't take off until 8.40pm which was way past bed time. We got to the airport about 4 hours early (once bitten - http://nellyseggs.blogspot.com/2011/05/welcome-to-spainbut-only-just.html) and unsurprisingly Mabel was not in the mood for sleeping. I was nervous before we even got on the plane.

Once we had boarded she did fall asleep twice but really annoyingly the speaker above our seats was so loud that announcements kept waking her up. Eventually she became past tired and started screaming with real tears. 

It was incredibly hot, there was very little room and we kept getting trapped in by trolleys serving drinks so couldn't get up to rock her. Aside from the obvious embarrassment at the noise I also started to panic that something was wrong. And once I'd thought about that, and the fact that I couldn't get her to calm down or get off the plane, I started to struggle holding back tears myself. I was hot, my hands were clammy and at one point I thought I might be sick. I knew it was just a panic attack and I had to keep focusing on staring straight out the window for fear that I was actually going to lose it completely. G Kisby was brilliant and I was so grateful for Al who took her for a walk down the aisle to let G Kisby comfort the now ridiculously frantic parent practically rocking by the window.

I wasn't scared of the actual flying, I just felt very claustrophobic and completely helpless as a mother who couldn't calm her own baby. I was also panicking about the panic, if that makes sense. I actually wanted someone to take her off me and make it stop and all go away, which made me feel so guilty and worried about how I'd cope if G Kisby wasn't around. Fee assures me that I would be fine since adrenalin would kick in - that I allowed myself to lose it because I knew I could. I hope she's right. I also saw a lady in front keep looking back through the seats at us and shaking her head. Now I'm not sure if she actually was or I was being paranoid but I felt a massive urge to justify our parenting decisions and a tired, red eyed, clearly distressed baby was making me doubt myself even. Is it selfish to take a 4 month old on a flight which is largely for our benefit? If there is now something wrong with our 4 month old and I can't do anything because we are 12,000 feet up in the air, how will I forgive myself. All the kind of irrational thoughts that were running through my head...

Eventually she did calm down but the rest of the flight was still spent with her on the edge and me likewise. I've never been so grateful for a plane landing.
I know there are far worse scenarios to find yourself in as a parent and if that is the worst it gets then we are doing well. But at the time it feels pretty scary. I swore I would never fly with young children again.

I have changed my opinion on that slightly, once we were home safe and I had regained my composure. The issue was largely with the flight times, since on the way over there things were fine. And I do know that Mabel has benefited from the holiday...

She had some great entertainment from her cousins, Kenzie got the first real chuckle (no real belly laugh yet...)

There were loads of new sights and sounds from a Spanish market to the most gorgeous flowers

Her first dip in the pool, all be it just her legs (it was a little cold for a baby!)

She had long sleeps and lazy lunches, probably in part from being looked after by properly relaxed parents.

We had such a fantastic holiday. It was loads more relaxing than I thought and I would now fully recommend, if at all possible (we were very lucky with our Spanish jaunt) getting away from home when you've had a baby. It really forced us to stop, enjoy Mabel being a baby, enjoy each others company, reflect and refocus on what is truly important - being together, being with our family and being happy!

Just where possible avoid sitting near a new baby on a flight, or more to the point, a new mother!

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Sun, sangria and...sleep!!!

Ooh this week is going so quickly, why is that always the way.

We continue to have a lovely holiday and for some reason, not sure if it is the heat or perhaps the large glass of sangria at lunchtime, but Mabel is liking her sleep. Unheard of I know. Prior to coming away we worried that changes to her routine may be a problem when in fact, being flexible with a routine appears to have paid off in this instance. She is having two decent naps a day, largely in her pram, with no tears whatsoever. G Kisby has the knack when it comes to a good pram rock.

She has had a bit of an eye infection in both eyes but we've been flushing it with cool boiled water regularly and it has started to clear up. I think we might have caused it, she had watery eyes from a bit of a cold and stupidly (I now realise) we used the muslin to wipe them. Turns out it's not so clever to wipe your babies eyes with a cloth covered in milk and dribble. You live and you learn. 

The weather hasn't been great for a few days but actually that is less of a problem with Mabel, shading your baby from the sun constantly is a bit of a challenge so a bit of cloud isn't an issue.

I'm trying to avoid thinking about how long we have left in this little bubble of sunshine and fun. It has been so so good having G Kisby around to help with babycare and you just know that this nap time success is not going to continue once back in Huddersfield. I'll find it hard not to think it's something I am doing. Oh well, best not to think of that yet, 3 more full days to go!