Arthur’s two-year-check – what’s really going on?

Last week Arthur had his two-year check. A check that apparently is supposed to make sure he’s hitting his milestones, that he’s happy, healthy and doing everything a two-year-old should be.

I guess it’s also a chance for the professionals to make sure I’m doing my job as his mum and that his world is everything it should be at two-years old. So when a very polite young man turned up I expected him to play with Arthur, interact with him and get to know my little man. Instead I was subjected to a questionnaire which ticked boxes as I answered yes or no to a barrage of standard questions.

Frighteningly they were questions I could hide from had I felt the need. Questions that, without proper interation from this health visitor, didn’t even scratch the surface of my little boy’s world.

Granted he did talk to Arthur but it was only brief words when Arthur initiated it. I was asked, “Can he build a tower, jump, does he enjoy nursery, does he use his imagination” and so the list went on. Scribbling answers in his little book and he didn’t even want to see our red book. He also said if I wanted to get Arthur weighed to take him to a clinic as he didn’t have his scales.

After he went I thought long about our experience. What if Arthur was a little boy in trouble, desperate for help, covered in bruises that would have been clear if undressed and weighed there and then. What if I had wanted to cover up his progress? I could answer as I pleased and there was no way this was picked up.

This check should be a safety net as well as a medical requirement. Despite a written report they know nothing about my boy and whether he’s happy and healthy. Today the news has been filled with horrific coverage about the vile woman who beat her two-year-old son to death over a prolonged period. What if his check had been a detached questionnaire.

Perhaps I had middle-class , two-parent family written all over me – a low risk where time, stripped to the bone by overwork and understaffing, is rationed and saved for those who really need it. Their assumption,  many of us know,  is the mother of all f*ck-ups. They don’t know me and my boy and the more I thought about this the more it filled me with a sense of unease.

I was talking to a friend who said her check had been completely different. Her daughter had been asked to build a tower, thread some beads, talk, dance and generally interact. Not much to ask is it? I just hope we were the exception to the rule. I would question why these checks are not standardised. That those carrying them out are not told and told again how important it is to understand the child physically and emotionally.

How many children have had their check and fallen through the net I wonder.

Grown-up brownies

Here’s a little twist on a classic brownie. As is usual for me it was an ‘experiment’ but this time is went wonderfully well.

Brownies for the grown-ups

Here’s the basic recipe. I added some chopped white chocolate and before cooking I sprinkled with a liberal amount of sea salt. It was a last minute creative flurry and it worked a treat! The salt gives them a lovely edge and of course you can’t possible give them to the children either. Result!

2x100g bars at least 70% dark chocolate

100g white chocolate – chopped into small chunks

150g soft butter

3 eggs

225g caster sugar

100g plain flour

1tps baking powder

1-2 tblsp cocoa powder – depending how chocolately you like them

Pre heat oven to 180, gas mark 4. Melt the chocolate then leave to cool slightly.

Put the eggs in a bowl with the sugar and whisk till thick and creamy. Pour in melted chocolate. Then fold in flour, baking powder and cocoa powder.

Add chopped white chocolate, bung into a greased tin and sprinkle liberally with good quality sea salt.

Bake for 30-40 minutes. Cool for a while then slice into lovely chunks.

Nurturing nature – Kids Grow Wild gardening fun!

I love getting outside with my boy and what simpler way than in the garden.

Granted it’s less cultivating beautiful flowers and more making a mess and spreading mud but anything that lets him enjoy nature has to be good. So we were really pleased when our Kids Grow Wild Little Pals gardening kit arrived.

It’s so cute and Arthur absolutely loved having his own little bag of tools. Great quality too and I’m tempted to swap my own rusty old watering can for his lovely bright green one! The wooden handled tools were also lovely and it made a nice change to have something robust made specifically for children. I’ve brought the plastic ones before but they never seem to last. The gloves a great additions too – bit big for Arthur at the moment but he insisted on wearing them anyway!

gardeningfinal2

We had a brilliantly messy afternoon digging a few random holes then finding some old pots to plant his seeds. Having his own set of gardening bits and bobs really made him feel part of the process. Rather than just ‘helping mummy’,  it meant he felt he was in control. This does mean we have some ‘creatively’ placed seeds, but that’s part of the fun!

Kids Grow Wild fun!

Arthur is keen each morning to go outside and check on the progress so we’ll let you know when they appear. This is such an easy and cost-effective way of getting him outside and interested in the world around him. Now we talk about the seeds and the earth and how we feed and water them with his special watering can. How the sun helps and the rain stops plants being thirsty.

Sometimes it’s the simple things toddlers enjoy and this lovely little bag of goodies is a great way to get the most out of a morning at home. I’m sure we’ll being having lots of fun over the coming months with the Little Pals bag – and I really want one of those watering cans!

This post is an entry for BritMums’ #KidsGrowWildChallengerel=”nofollow”>

Camping, glamping and Gruffalo stamping

This weekend the boy and me went native. Well, we went camping in a teepee with my two friends and their small people. It was, in the most middle-class of ways, ‘glamping’. No putting tents up and threatening tent poles, no sleeping bags with unfathomable zips – just a lovely big teepee with fur-covered seats and a welcome chimenea.

Off we went, the car, smothered under a weight of eiderdown and blueberries, ham sandwiches and wine. Lots and lots of wine.

CAMPINGFINISH1

We had such a fab time, it really was a chance to do something different and with three two-year-olds it was a perfect getaway. Ok, it wasn’t relaxing. When two of the terrors started jumping up and down on next doors decking it did raise my blood pressure slightly. Although it lent itself to some imaginative play! The man next door appeared almost naked and growling at the teepee door ( I know they don’t have doors but I really have an aversion to the word flaps). “Are these your f***king kids?!”. He quickly became known as the Gruffalo and no child dared to bounce on his decking again!

Arthur definitely went a bit ferral and there were moments I thought he would explode at being allowed to run around outside so much. Sleep was somewhat lacking and this did show itself in the odd grisly session or a bit of over-enthusiatic pushing and pulling.

Showering with a two-year-old is not easy so we only did it once – how liberating to be dirty and really not care. Instead of going through our usual routines at night we simply laid in the teepee reading stories, and waiting for them to go to sleep. Granted it took a while but they went eventually and for a couple of days it didn’t matter.

We spent the two evenings with our lovely chimenea warming the teepee and the days wandering round rather cold beaches and open farms, with delicious fish and chips, train rides and sheep sheering thrown in.

On another note, I forgot my phone charger, which, to begin with, seemed like the end of the world. But once I accepted it, it was rather lovely not to check my phone and email every ten minutes.

I loved it, time with two very lovely friends and their children and time with my boy. Driving home I was tired and looking forward to a hot bath. The pile of washing staring at me from the back of the car signaled the end of a brilliant weekend.

New Disney range from Munchkin

This week we’ve been trying out the new Disney range of plates, cups and cutlery from Munchkin. I’ve used Munchkin stuff before and always been impressed with the design, and practicality – the cliplock bottle remains my favourite and believe me we’ve tried, lost and broken most of the makes on the market.

The new Disney range has several themes and Arthur was very excited when his new Winnie the Pooh bowl, plate and bottle arrived. Firstly it’s just good quality stuff. Great colours which are BPA free and seem to last really well with a good level of toddler-proofing!

We both loved it and I was particularly taken with the cute cutlery – the little rounded fork is so easy to use for little hands and I think a little less daunting than being faced with a normal fork and all it’s forky stabby bits!

Winnie-themed lunchtime with Munchkin

Winnie-themed lunchtime with Munchkin

Arthur liked the fact he could finish his lunch and see Winnie at the bottom of his bowl or plate and this was also a very handy technique for getting him to eat some more. I also like the separate areas on the plate and I used that to talk to Arthur about what he was eating and where we were going to put things. It’s these little things that help make meal times a little easier or a little more interactive and fun.

They washed really well in the dishwasher and like the other Munchkin stuff we have I’m sure they’ll last and last.

 

Munchkin is available in Tesco, Asda, Wilkinsons, Morrisons, Argos, Amazon, Boots, Mothercare and other good quality retailers. Prices start from £4.50.

Feminism – a storm in a knicker shop.

I was planning to sit and write a post about our lovely day at the zoo – nothing like a photo or two of a giraffe to bring a smile to a face. But I’ve been inspired to write a short post about feminism.

I’m not mounting a political platform to talk about women’s rights – there are far better women treading that ground and I thank them for it. But feminism isn’t simple something to talk about at a political level, elevated to a status of a ‘debateable topic’.

I saw the piece from ex Tory MP Louise Mensch talking about how she sees dressing to be attractive to her husband as an ‘act of kindness’ and in turn the outpouring of outrage - many viewing it as a submissive betrayal. This is a woman of power making a choice, sexual attraction, reactive and proactive isn’t anti-feminist. A sexually dominant woman is no more a feminist than a sub – if that’s their choice/preference.

What isn’t clear is whether he feels the same way and dresses to be sexually attractive to her – I hope so. Feminism is not to be confused with femininity, surely it’s about wearing a skirt if you want to and earning the same in the boardroom as male colleagues. When I go to work I wear a dress, mainly because I feel good in it. I often undo the top button on a shirt because it feels better and I invest in new under wear because, one, I need to, and two I like to make an effort. Just like I expect him in doors to buy new boxers and pluck his nose hair. It’s an acknowledgement of our relationship, mentally and physically.

Choice is our ultimate weapon and we need to keep striving for this. Louise was able to say this because amazing women and movements have made it more possible for her to have a high profile career. Look good for your husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, cat – I really don’t care. But let’s keep moving toward a world where all women have that as a choice not something forced on us.

Skin Salveation

From the moment these little people are born there are skin ‘conditions’ to deal with. Unidentified spots, dry patches, weird white bumps – it takes a degree in dermatology to work out what to do and when.

Like most first-time mums I went through several creams and lotions when Arthur’s skin decided to erupt. It was never anything serious but he’s always had a tendency to have a little eczema break-out on his cheeks, usually when he’s run down and poorly.

He’s had steroid cream and special bath stuff which does the trick for a while but I’ve always been searching for something gentle but effective that could be used regularly to help his skin.

 

So I was really pleased to try Skin Salveation DermaSalve Skin Care Programme. Based in Alnwick, Northumberland, the system targets eczema, psoriasis and most itchy skin conditions and  started life after a group of miners suffering from inflamed skin due to their work environment discovered a combination of ingredients that soothed and improved their skin.

I’ve been using the baby and infant moisturiser and the adult body cream. I used it when Arthur’s skin had a bit of a flair up and I have to say it definitely worked. Soothing and reducing the redness really quickly.

DermaSalve for infants and babies

DermaSalve for infants and babies

It has lovely ingredients such as wheatgerm, jojoba oil, plus vitamin E and C, and means I can help him feel better without heavy creams containing chemicals. I’m so pleased with it but I’m going to keep using it to see if it does actually help his skin improve on it’s own - I need to use it for a longer period to find out. But it was gentle and effective really quickly and had almost no smell.

There are no parabens, alcohol, chemicals or lanolin and generally made me feel in control of Arthur’s skin without resorting to chemical and other nasties. At £4.49 a tub I think it’s absolutely worth trying and would recommend it without hesitation.

I’ve also been using it in conjunction with their laundry powder and the combination seems to be working. The powder is a little strange to begin with because it doesn’t have the familiar smell of convention powders, for obvious reasons. But the clothes and bed sheets have all been washed on 40 degree and 30 degree washes and came out clean with a fresh natural smell. It gave me a warm glow when Arthur snuggled down on his freshly washed pillow!

While I don’t have any skin conditions (unless wrinkles count!), I’ve been using the adult body cream. Again it has no real smell and is extremely gentle with the same gorgeous ingredients of wheatgerm, jojoba oil and vitamins. This had been hugely impressive. When I first used it I thought it felt runny and a bit watery but after rubbing it in it quickly revealed itself to be simply a brilliant product. It left me skin soft and really well moisturised and what I loved was the fact it was absorbed it what seemed like seconds.

DermaSalve body moisturiser

DermaSalve body moisturiser

I use it at night and in the morning my skin feels amazing. You only need a little as well so it seems to be good value for money too. Again to has no real smell which means it doesn’t argue with my perfume and it doesn’t leave marks on your clothes either – a real find. I even used it on my skin after a day in the sun and while it’s not sold as an after sun and makes no claims to this it really helped sooth my skin and by morning my shoulders in particular felt fine again. At £5.99 I think it’s a great price for a quality product.

Dermasalve is an affordable range of great quality skin products for little people with skin conditions such as eczema and adults who want a great moisturiser without the chemical and artificial perfumes many have. I’ll definitely continue to use it.