‘What To Expect’ goes online

When I was pregnant I spent a huge amount of time thumbing through books on pregnancy and one of the best known was ‘What to Expect’. Everyone had read it, whether eagerly buying brand new or borrowing a well-loved version from a friend.

I found it a great read, well-informed, easy to understand but full of common sense and expert opinion. I’m starting to think about baby number 2 I was so pleased to see this wonderful title is now a UK website – still full of fantastic advice and common sense to help you get through the most wonderful and sometimes toughest nine months.

But more than this when I clicked on the site I realised it covers toddlers too! It’s probably because I never bought books beyond the first few months but I never realised ‘What to Expect’ covers toddlers – result!

Such a find and I loved the coloured meal planner buttons at the top – I’m always looking for new ways to entice Arthur to eat veg.  With tips on playing, behaviour and potty training I found myself hooked. I literally sat down with an hour to spend looking at this site and got up to make a cup of tea two hours later! There are also some great interactive tools like recipe swaps and blogs – gotta love a blog!

I’d jotted down some new meals, managed to put my mind at rest about how potty training was going and learned some fantastic tips to deal with toddler tantrums.

Heidi Murkoff, author of the original bestseller, has created something that gives great advice and invaluable support. It’s recognisable worldwide but still manages to feel small, personal and a bit like a warm hug when you’re looking for reassurance. I also found the site very easy to use, no inane clicking with little idea where you’re going.  Clearly signposted so it’s ideal when you’re snatching a quick ten minutes between naps and feeds etc.

Over the coming months I’ll be using it to help me chart the choppy waters of toddlerdom while keeping an eye on the ovulation calculator and other great tips around getting pregnant – for when I’m ready to do it all over again!

 

Dark mornings and dark moments.

I think I like Autumn. A soft tumble into winter, not too harsh but enough to involve scarves and bonfires and fruit crumbles. I think I like it because in my head it works when it’s bright and the sun is sliced through with cool mornings and breath-filled evenings.

But in reality I battle with a heavy feeling of loss. It’s like the dark mornings and short days smother me. Getting ready in the mornings feels so hard, the thought of going out after 6pm is never a happy thing. I know it’s really common, that people react to the seasons but for me it’s really quite emotional.

I have to give myself a talking to to make sure Arthur and I get out and about when I’m not at work. I have to curb the urge to pop him in front of a film and just stay inside our cocoon. I feel bereft, not all the time, but I can feel it creeping up as August slips into September. SAD is a recognised disorder, Seasonal Affective Disorder affects thousands of people each year from mild to extreme symptoms. I’m not sure it’s what I have but I’ve just been thinking about how reality is played out so differently to the life I live in my head.

I think I look different too, it’s subtle but I can see my skin taking a turn for the worse, I get dermatitis, my hair loses lustre and my body feels as though it’s going into hibernation mode – not figuratively, literally.

The walks through winter leaves followed by hot chocolate do happen. But they happen with a sense of sadness. I do go out in the evenings but only because if I didn’t things wouldn’t get done – not because I want to. It’s not all the time and for me, it eases off as we hit November – bit like my body has finally got used to the lack of light. But I feel it approach, I can sense the shadow being cast as the count down to the clocks changing begins.

I’m not depressed, I’m pretty happy really. But for two months or so I struggle to remember that and it’s very real. I know it will pass and reflecting on it feels like self-indulgent drivel but hey, I guess that’s what dark nights and laptops are for. I embrace Halloween, bonfire night and days spent kicking leaves. I love winter clothes and digging my boots out of the cupboard. I hate feeling like this – roll on November.

Bugaboo meets Andy Warhol

On Friday the boy and I were lucky enough to be invited to a ‘do’ to celebrate the fantastic new collaboration between Bugaboo and the Andy Warhol Foundation in New York City.

I love my Bugaboo, a love affair that started when my sister-in-law Ruth (Rocknrollerbaby) took me to the baby show when pregnant and showed me the magic that is the Bugaboo Cameleon. I seriously can’t fault it – well apart from the basket, we need a bit more room to get to it please Bugaboo! Ruth mentioned in her blog how any negative comments about the Bugaboo feels like an insult to your family member and I kind of know what she means.

Arthur and I in th eBugaboo photo booth

Me and Arthur in the photo booth

 

So we rocked up to the European Arts Gallery in West London and had a brilliant time. The new designs are just wonderful and a real dose of Spring through the less than Spring-like weather. I absolutely love the Cars collections. It’s innovative, forward thinking and just so darn cool! I would love to be pushing Arthur around in the Cars collection. The Flowers collection is a real breath of fresh air too. Let’s face it who wouldn’t want a piece of cutting-edge Warhol, think Campbell’s soup cans, Marilyn and now Bugaboo. Iconic
Bugaboo Flowers collectionBugaboo Cars collection

Arthur and his cousins had a great time colouring in some Warhol-inspired wallpaper and Ruth and I enjoyed a little bit of celeb-spotting. My claim to fame is that Peaches Geldof said she wanted Astala to have hair like Arthur – I’m nothing if not a trend-setter! Denise Van Outen and some other famous faces also came along and I think that’s testament to the brand – it’s cool, stylish and generally aspirational. But the buggies are also practical and I really believe once you’ve gone Bugaboo you won’t go back!

I have not been paid for this review.

When babies become big boys

This week Arthur moved up into Rainbow Room at nursery. – an insignificant little move next door, barely a stride past his old room.

But it made my heart break just a little bit. It didn’t happen when he moved from the baby room to the toddler one, but this feels bigger. Like he’s really becoming a little boy and there’s nothing I can do about it. He’s been at nursery since he was a year and really loves it – there’s honestly never been a day when he’s been sad or I have to go and pick him up (unless he’s ill of course).

I’m so thankful for this because it does make life easier and I don’t know what I would have done about work if he hadn’t been happy. But when I dropped him off in his new room and he peered in and saw all the ‘big’ boys and girls there was a moment when he clung to my hand for a little longer and had a little look of uncertainty in his eyes. I took him in and handed him over but for a moment I wanted to pick him up and take him home – or even just back to his old room.

By the end of the day he’d made googly-eyed Easter chicks, chocolate bird’s nests and had a thoroughly lovely time. He chatted about his day and mentioned a few new names I’d not heard before. It’s my issue and I really don’t want to be one of those mother’s who smothers their child and stops them doing things for their own benefit.

I guess it made me think they’ll be loads of moments like this through our journey together. Times when I just want to do things for him, wrap him in cotton wool and keep him safe. Kids can be brutal and I’m sure they’ll be times when I have to resist the urge to go into school and reprimand some little tike for upsetting my boy. It’s that dichotomy of wanting to mother them and knowing you have to gradually let them go – not totally, just enough to know they can.

I read a very interesting article recently – ‘Please don’t help me child’ it talked about how as a mother, she often leaves her child to make it to the top of the slide on their own, doesn’t always pick them up when they fall and sometimes leaves them to cry with frustration when they’re trying to work something out. Some of the parents who watched this tutted and even went to help her child.

She talked about how she fights her maternal urge to run over and do the task in question, to ‘make it better’. She does this because in life you have to stand alone sometimes, achieve things for yourself and not rely on others. It promotes independence, confidence in your own ability.

When I dropped Arthur off in Rainbow room he was fine, I knew he would be and in the scheme of things it’s not particularly massive but it made me realise how easy it is try to make everything ok and is this really the best thing to do.

I might wait until he’s three and a big boy before I decide.

ohyo collapsabottle – space squashing brilliance!

 Since Arthur’s been born I’ve accumulated a vast array of plastic stuff. Stuff for his bath, stuff to change him on, eat off and most prominently of all – stuff out of which he can drink.
There are so many bottles to choose from, ones with straws, sippy cups, it’s mind-blowing. But one flaw they all have is their size! It’s not easy to store several large bottles, they don’t stack like plates and I’m always taking them apart to make more room.
So I was so pleased to be sent the new Ohyo collapsabottle. It’s utterly ingenious and you know something’s good when you think: “I can’t believe no one’s done that before”.

ohyo collapseabottle

ohyo collapseabottle

The cup comes in blue, pink, white and green and is concertina shaped so basically it folds down into a disc. Perfect for packing away if you’re off on holiday or for storing in the cupboard. This brilliant design doesn’t detract from the usage either, it’s pretty non-spill and Arthur happily took in on a long journey and chucked it on the floor several times without damage.

The cups are BPA-free and carbon neutral so help quell my growing sense of environmental guilt.The colours are plain so I’d happily take it out with me for the day too or to the gym (I’m sure I’ll return one day). It also has a wide neck so it’s really easy to wash up or bung in the dishwasher.

There are so many cups on the market but this hits the spot for me because it addresses storage as well as being easy to use for little hands – I actually think the concertina shape makes it easier for them to grip on to.

For £4.99 they are a brilliant design and definitely worth a look if you’re on the hunt for a new cup for little people.

Reaching new heights with tights

Despite my outwardly liberal persona I love nothing more than a grubby little wallow on the Daily Mail online site – I’m always particularly taken with the ‘celeb’ stories in the right hand column.
Anyway the secret’s out so I can joyously share with you the most brilliant ‘celeb’ story on there for a while. It appears the lovely, down to earth, just like the rest of us, mother, Gwyneth Paltrow has taken up ariel yoga. Yes, that’s right, basically all the fun of yoga while being hoisted a few feet of the ground.
Now sometimes I can be accused of adding histrionics to my daily mummy/work balance, of, perhaps, embellishing my daily struggles with comedy (of sorts) and a little drama. BUT, never have I thought to myself: “Ok, let’s hang upside down in what can only be described as a large pair of tights.”
It’s the perfect example of celeb mummys having too much time on their hands. According the report hanging in these silk hammocks increases blood flow and stretches the spine. According to me it’s yet more proof that no matter what we do, how hard we work and however many life-enhancing seminars we attend there is always someone somewhere taking it to another level.
On a more serious note it’s frightening to think there is a whole money-making machine playing on our desires to find the answer, the solution. Whether that’s hanging upside down in some tights or spending hundreds of pounds on bespoke party bags for your children’s birthday party.
While they are clearly two very different transactions, they are both born out of a world where, women in particular, face an ever-increasing battle to have it all. We’re reaching new depths (or heights), and part of me can’t help but hope there will be some kind of implosion leaving us…wait for it… happy with our lot. When yoga is just yoga and parties end with some cake and a few stickers.
Anyway, I’m off for another surreptitious read -apparently there’s a new craze in karaoke zumba.

Me and my boy We made the move this week from high chair to booster seat – it was rather seamless. We’ve been using the Munchkin travel booster seat and it’s been fantastic.

Loving my new chair!

Loving my new chair!

It folds away into a bag which means you can take it out and about with enough room for nappies, a drink and wipes so no need to lug another bag around with you.
Arthur can be a bit picky when it comes to where he sits but he sat in his new seat with no problems and it’s genuinely so easy to unfold and attach to the seat. Just a simple strap underneath and another around the chair so not too fiddly when you’re out and about. We used it while out for lunch and it fitted fine in two restaurants, including Pizza Express and another local pub. It also has legs you can use which fold up into the bag so it has two heights. Although there were three of us, it was so easy I feel confident I’d be able to use it on my own when we’re out for lunch.
For such a compact chair it was very sturdy and I feel happy Arthur was safe and not going to wriggle out. All in all a really good buy, great value for money with the added bonus of being a travel version so making life out and about a little easier.

My beautiful friend – thinking of you.

A few months ago one of my oldest friends came back into my life. I found her after her name had been in the newspaper and whispered among mutual friends. Hello my beautiful, courageous, totally lost friend.

We met again and she told me about her amazing children, their lovely family home, her new baby boy and how her daughter Maisie had committed suicide at the age of 14.
It’s been a year today since she did it and the pain she feels is still raw to the touch. There is an unending supply of guilt and what ifs. No matter how many people tell her what a fab mum she is – and she really is – it doesn’t matter because her baby died in a way which leaves questions, many moments of unanswered agony and a sense of helpless disbelief which runs through her family, friends and beyond.

I remember Maisie as a baby and a toddler, a beautiful fuzzy-haired little angel adored by her mummy. I remember my friend and her unending ability to be an amazing mum without an equally amazing dad. Even in their tiny, slightly grotty first flat, she filled it to the brim with love and laughter.

I didn’t see her for years and she had three more babies in that time. When I’ve told people about her they’ve been shocked and saddened and said: “ Oh how terrible, thank god she has more children.” Yes her children have been a massive blessing and I’m sure they’ve helped her through but they’re not Maisie.

When I first went to her house when we met up again she talked openly about the dreadful day. She’d found her. It is beyond words. About the paramedics and her realisation Maisie was dead. She told me about the scene, reliving each moment as if she was trying to find the missing pieces of puzzle, the answers she needed. I read Maisie’s adolescent letters, so similar to teenagers all over the world, no obvious anger, misery or depression. I cried because I didn’t know what else to do. But she didn’t and I pulled myself together quickly.

My dear, dear friend, you are amazing, and forever changed. I have no doubt you will always be seeking answers, as we all would. If I could make you a medal from all the good wishes and love I’ve witnessed for you it would be the most amazing thing you’d ever seen.

xx

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