Baby bedrooms

I wrote this post in February, just two days before Sid’s arrival- On re-reading the first line, I realise how misguided I was! Three months in and we’ve only just managed to finish off his bedroom, hampered partially by the fact that the custom-made blind we ordered took longer than expected and the pictures for the wall got lost in the post, and partially that once we realised that the only time we actually went in that room was to use the changing mat, we realised there really was no rush to get it completed! Anyway, here it is, in all it’s glory, followed by my optimistic original post!
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…I really wanted to get the baby’s bedroom finished well in advance of his arrival. The house was just getting more full of baby stuff which I wanted to put away, and I was losing track of what I’d bought!

Back in October, there was a sale at mothercare, and we bought a cot, wardrobe and chest of drawers that we really liked, which was laying redundant in about a million boxes in the back bedroom, waiting to be assembled. We’d also impulse-bought some grey and white spotty wallpaper, which had taken my fancy in B&Q one weekend, but apart from that, nada.

Over Christmas, once the beautiful bathroom was pretty much finished, we finally found the time to get cracking on the bedroom- First step was the boring prep- wallpaper stripping, rubbing down paintwork, you know the like. Unfortunately, this period of time coincided with me slipping down the stairs and spending a good week lying on the sofa with an icepack on my bum, groaning quite a lot, so I was next to useless. It also coincided with us realising that we really wouldn’t be able to find a plasterer to plaster over the grim artexed monstrosity of a ceiling until about April time, so amazing wonderful Mark threw caution to the wind, borrowed some stuff off of our brother in law and got stuck in to do it himself, in spite of EVERYONE telling him that plastering was ridiculously hard, and he’d basically make a crap job of it.

Plastering, indeed, was ridiculously hard- it took him two days to do the ceiling and a foot and a half of the wall, above the picture rail of a tiny 6ft x 8ft room, when it probably would have taken my bro in law a few hours, but a crap job of it he certainly didn’t do- alright, it’s not a seamless professional job, but it’s absolutely brilliant in my eyes and now it’s been painted, I think you could never tell that he had absolutely no idea what he was doing!

Next step after all the boring prep came painting of woodwork and ceiling and putting up of this weird polystyrene lining paper (the box room is really pretty chilly, so we thought a bit of extra insulation would be a good plan). Mark’s mum came in for ‘operation wallpaper’ as she’s a bit of a master. We didn’t realise that after the initial lining paper had gone up, the instructions tell you to wait until it’s fully dried out before you put the normal wallpaper in. Well, we were on a roll, so decided to throw caution to the wind and just whack the top layer over the lining without bothering to wait for it to dry- It’s polystyrene, we reasoned, and stuck on with some industrial strength paste stuff- it’s not going to just fall off again! After a few days of alarming bubbling, I’m pleased to say everything flattened out just fine

The final phase was to hang about waiting for the carpet to be delivered, until which we couldn’t put the furniture up, as once that stuff was up, it wouldn’t fit out of the door again. After managing to order a carpet that wouldn’t be in stock for ‘probably another month’, it finally came in, was fitted and Mark got to it putting up flat pack on his day off, while I was at work.

We’re up to the ‘final fixtures and fittings’ phase now- Everything’s done, and we’ll be putting up the final bits that will make it look more like home- A blue blind (which had to be custom made because of our ridiculous sized windows), robot lamp, some cool retro robot pictures for the wall and a mobile which I made myself, oh and this rather groovy trolley, which I’m using as a ‘handy bits and pieces/changing station’ and I must say I’m pretty pleased with what we’ve done!

Being a judgypants

I’ve made an executive decision to stop being such a judgypants. We all do it, don’t we- it’s just too easy (and too much fun) to bitch about people particularly, I’ve found, in the realms of parenting.

Case in point- I was talking to a friend about how her new daughter was sleeping, and she said the only way any of them can get a night’s sleep is if the baby slept laying on her front on her mum or dad’s chest. In my head I thought ‘for pity’s sakes, what a ridiculous way to live your life- just put her down and let her cry’, while thinking in my second head  (yeah, I have two- what of it?!) ‘shut up Gem, you’d never just let Sid cry if you could comfort him- you’re not Gina sodding Ford’. Outside of my head, I asked if that meant that my friend or her hubby could get a decent night’s sleep, and she said yep, they slept fine- they weren’t being woken up by a crying baby, they weren’t worried about her being on her front in her cot, and they’d got pretty used to sleeping laying on their backs. And that was when I decided to stop judging other people’s choices.

While I think there’s nothing worse than people that are absolute martyrs (you know the type ‘woe is me my life is so difficult, but oh no I couldn’t possibly do anything to change it, that would be too easy’), if someone’s doing something that works for them, who cares if it isn’t the way I’d choose to do it

Settling into the old routine

Still continuing with my over-immersion in baby stuff (babycentre.co.uk I’m looking at you), I read that by 8 or 9 weeks, you should be putting a bedtime routine in place. Woefully behind schedule, I floated the idea to Mark. It took a while to get our heads around the idea of Sid being upstairs in bed while we were downstairs watching TV- surely it sort of defeated the idea of him staying in our room for the first six months… and surely it was a bit pointless doing a lovely relaxing bedtime routine that culminated in him being asleep in the carry cot while the TV blared next to him, but I had a vague paranoia that if we didn’t start instilling good sleep habits early, it’d never happen- I read a story about a nine year old that wasn’t able to fall asleep unless it was on the sofa in front of the telly and it was enough to make me think ‘ok, lets give this a go’.

Sid, actually was and is a pretty good sleeper- he’ll happily have a nap in the daytime in noisy places, but it was admittedly getting trickier for him to fall asleep in the front room for any length of time, and with the ‘sleeping through the night’ goal forever in our sights, we thought that putting him to bed in a quieter place might make him sleep for longer.

Two-ish weeks in, if we’re in the house, at about half 7 or so, one of us gives Sid a bath and gets him ready for bed, while the other one tidies up and sorts things for the morning. Then we switch and the other one does a story, lots of songs, and a snuggle on our bed until he drops off. It’s amazing how few songs I know all the words to- Poor kid has heard a LOT of Wham in the last couple of weeks! I guess as time goes on, we’ll be trying to get into more of a habit of putting the boy wonder down in his cot before he falls asleep, but at the moment, I’m loving a little night time cuddle and he certainly seems to settle better that way so I say hush to the ‘making a rod for your own back’ doubters.

So has it worked? Well, yeah, sort of- He’s generally sparko until well after midnight and will wake up between 1 and 3 for a bottle, and then again at about 6ish when Mark brings him into our bed for a snuggy and another hour of snoozing until the ‘breakfast bottle’ at 7. So although we get a longer stretch of sleep at the start of the night, which is awesome, we still have to get up once each before the alarm goes off. He’s definitely sleeping more at night and less in the day though, so that’s one thing cracked and I’d imagine that as time goes on, he’ll eventually drop the middle of the night feed but I’m not going to worry about that until it just sort of happens.

The 18th Photo Project

I am a massive fan of those slightly pointless ‘news’ articles along the lines of ‘this man took a photo of his beard every day for 18 months- here’s what happened’, and decided that with a baby imminent, I wanted to start a little log of my growing family. The day I put my plan into action was the 18th of the month and because I know how lackadaisical I am (it took me three months of thinking about this amazing non-plan to actually do anything about it), I decided that a photo once a month, on the sofa, on the 18th would be do-able, and thus the 18th photo project was born.

I’ll be honest, sometimes the photo wasn’t taken on the actual 18th, but the ‘once a month when I can be bothered photo project’ didn’t really have the same ring.

I actually got my act together in January, so here are the photos for January, February, March and April. Mark isn’t exactly a willing participant in this- he likes the idea, but generally can’t be bothered with it, so the photos are very much a quick snap and hope for the best- I get maybe three go’s at most to try and get a decent shot and some of them are looking a little bit rough! Still, I’m hoping as we build this up over years, it’ll be a lovely little archive

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A whole packet of jaffa cakes

It is an absolutely miserable day, and all I can give as an achievement is that I’ve eaten an entire packet of jaffa cakes

I realised a couple of nights ago that I hadn’t had a full night’s sleep for well over 12 weeks, and even though Sid’s pretty much dropped down to one feed in the night now, I’ve been in charge of it because Mark has to get up and go to work in the morning, where as I can have a vague lay in/afternoon snooze. Mark, however, does have Thursdays off, so I’m going to be having a night of respite on Wednesdays (no sign of sleeping through from Sid just yet!). Thursday is now, and I had a very nice night’s sleep, only punctuated by Mark telling me on his way back from the 3am feed that he’d forgotten he had the next session on his tattoo booked for today and so (apologies, wife), we wouldn’t be able to do anything fun as is our usual Thursday wont.

I didn’t mind- genuine mistake and all that, but it’s now 4 o clock and I have been pretty bored, if I’m honest. I’ve run out of ways to entertain a three month old (he’s pretty much doing it himself now- absolutely entranced with a muslin while sitting in his bouncy chair cooing away- no idea why I bothered with a full hour of ‘games’), watched several hours of documentaries (Wartime Farm at the moment, and before that something about early queens of England- my medieval history knowledge is severely lacking- going to have to do some more reading up, I think), done a couple of loads of washing and cleaned the bathroom, and continued with my work on learning the names to the different sizes of champagne bottles… I’m sure it might come in handy one day for pub quiz knowledge (magnum, jeraboam, reheboam, methusela, salmanzar, balthazar, nebuchadnezar… I think… might have got some spellings wrong, mind), and then half an hour ago I found the aforementioned jaffa cakes. They’re all gone now.

Still two hours until Mark returns from the tattooist and I get a kebab for dinner, which after my recent exploits I really don’t deserve.

Fashion on the Ration

I am generally an absolute nightmare for seeing things that I want to do but not actually getting round to doing them, but after getting a bit bored on my first few months of maternity leave, I decided enough was enough! On one of the blogs I read, a new exhibition at the Imperial War Museum was mentioned, all about fashion during and after rationing, and I was interested. I was telling my nan about it, and she sounded interested too, so one Thursday (admittedly about six weeks after I’d first read about it- I’m not perfect!) me, Mark and my nan took ourselves off to the Imperial War Museum.

As Mark and I don’t have season tickets for the tube any more, it’s actually cheaper for us to pay for the congestion charge and parking, than for two train tickets into London, so we drove to the glorious Elephant and Castle shopping centre and made the short walk down to the museum. After a quick stop for lunch outside in the sunshine, sitting next to a chunk of the Berlin Wall, we started round the museum. Mark’s interests were mainly on the machinery front, where as mine are centred on the home front, so we did a bit of both. My nan, as well as being a massive fan of a random day out, proved to be a font of interesting stories- We do talk about her recollections of the war quite a bit (she was evacuated at the start of the war, but came back to London and lived through the Blitz), but there’s nothing like having things in front of you to spark off a story and I found out so much more than I would have done otherwise.

My highlights were a house set, recreated from the memories of a family who lived in South London and full of period detail and wartime memories, and obviously Fashion on the Ration, the exhibition that I particularly wanted to see. Particularly mind-boggling was how little you’d be able to get hold of in the way of clothing during rationing. Far from my current ‘buy it cheap and chuck it away’ mentality, a year’s worth of coupons would have barely got you a full outfit. I’ve no idea how I’d cope, although I do think that I buy particularly crappily made clothes that genuinely wouldn’t last a full year of wear- perhaps if I bought items that were a bit more substantial, I might feel differently (and maybe not buy quite so much of it!). It’d be an interesting experiment to see if you could live on rationed clothes for a whole year- I think I’d struggle.

Also interesting was that actually, in the 30s, not everyone knew how to sew and make clothes and things- I assumed you’d get taught that sort of thing at school back then, but according to my nan, that wasn’t quite the case, and the exhibition showed people going to ‘make do and mend’ classes to learn skills that I just thought everyone must have known.

In a way, a lot is coming full circle- there is a bit of a kick-back against disposable fashion, and there’s certainly an resurgence in crafting and dressmaking classes in my area- it’s just by choice rather than circumstance now.

We finished up our day with a cup of tea in the cafe (obvs) and the purchase of a little light reading, which over a week later, I’m ashamed to say I’ve not managed to even open the front cover of either of the books I bought, but I promise I’ll get to it!!

A little bit of me time

When I was pregnant, I did some prenatal yoga classes, which were absolutely awesome- so relaxing and really sorted out my niggly aches and pains. The teacher also ran a postnatal class and said she’d be in touch six weeks post-birth to tell me more. Eleven weeks went past and nada, and I was a little bit sad about it but thought hey ho, until an email pinged up to apologise that there’d been a break in the classes, but they’d be restarting in the first week of May if I wanted to sign up.

I surely did, even though it meant my Fridays would be a little bit jam packed. Typically the one class that I go to with Sid takes place on a Friday at 11.30, and yoga would be at 2. Class in question is Baby Sensory, by the way. It’s ok I guess- Anyone that has ever been to a baby sensory class will know that you have to sing this song at the start, with actions, called ‘hello to the sun’, which quite frankly I feel like more of a nobber singing with each passing week, and I can never remember any of the actions. The class basically involves variations on a theme of bouncing babies on your legs to a song, waving various things in front of them and a bubble machine. Sid tends to have a look of ‘what the hell are you doing, mummy?’ on his face for most of it so I’m not entirely sure if it’s money well spent, although it is a good opportunity for me to show off when we do tummy time exercises, because my boy is totally bossing tummy time. Seriously, he rocks at it </competitive parenting>.

Anyhow, I decided I wanted to do the yoga, and my friends were paying for another term of Baby Sensory, so I’ve reluctantly signed up too, just on the off chance that Sid might miraculously start actually enjoying himself and will be doing the journey from one side of the borough to the other between classes, conveniently with enough time to stop in for a cuppa at my mum’s.

So anyway, postnatal yoga- what was it like? Well, not anywhere near as relaxing as prenatal, that’s for certain, but relaxing in a different sort of a way- Everyone brings their babies, and they recline on blankets next to us while we do the exercises. The teacher’s little boy was there, running in and out and making stuff out of playdoh, and her mum was on hand to soothe or feed any babies that needed it, so everyone could concentrate on themselves for a bit.

We started off with some stretching on the floor (Sid made sure I remembered he was there by repeatedly hitting me in the face), then moved on to some poses, aiming to help knit everything back together again- pelvic floor, abdominal muscles, that sort of thing, then we finished off with a tiny bit of guided relaxation. We used to do this in prenatal for quite a lot of the session, and I’d regularly fall asleep or phase out, but this was much shorter and had a sound track of various babies squiffling around so there was no danger of nodding off! We all had eye pillows which really meant that you didn’t open your eyes and Clare, the teacher, came round with oils and gave everyone a head massage, which oh dear lord was fricking amazing.  At the end of the class, because the hall was available for another hour, Clare made everyone a cup of tea and we all had a chat, which was really nice and I left the class feeling, while not quite as blissed out as I did when I came out of prenatal, certainly ready to face the world!

Lazy Thursday- election special

At the start of the year Mark changed jobs and now he works on a Saturday, but gets a Thursday off. It’s meant quite a bit of change for him- no rugby for a start, and it still doesn’t seem right to not have two days off in a row, but on the plus side, Thursdays are very much our sacrosanct family day.

This Thursday, we had intended on taking Sid swimming for the first time, but realised that as the majority of schools in the area would be used as polling stations, the swimming pools would probably be overrun with kids off school, so we decided to jettison that idea for another week.

Instead, my day started with tea, cheerios and throwing on of running gear. I walked out to the polling station with Mark and Sid, cast my vote (I was still tossing up the options literally until I was at the booth… went Lib Dem in the end, in spite of the fact that the party really aren’t very prevalent in my area- we didn’t get one leaflet during the whole of the campaign, but I’d done my reading up and I like what they stand for. Plus I think Ed Milliband is a bit of a dick, and I really don’t like the way that our current conservative MP has voted in the past, so couldn’t bring myself to go for him), then headed out for a little spin around the park. I’m still building up slowly- did just over three k today, before turning round and heading for home.

When I got back in, we tag teamed out, and Mark went out for a cycle while I got showered and ready to go out. When he got back, after a brief bit of faffing around, we went out for lunch, to the classy mecca that is Harvester. Not quite the Savoy, but I am a massive fan of the free salad bar…. and ribs… and blue cheese dressing. Merrily stuffed, we took a little wander around the shops to get some bits. I picked up some hair dye, so watch this space on that front! Oh, I should point out that Sid snoozed the whole way through lunch and the shopping- a grand total of about 4 hours. He’s just gone up to bed but I’m not holding out much hope for getting a big stretch of sleep this evening!

Aaanyhow, home time- we indulged in some warm chocolate brownie and ice cream action, on account of the fact that we were too stuffed for pud after our lunch and Sid finally woke up for a bit of a play. On account of the fact that it seemed like we’d done quite a lot with our day, we merrily minced away the rest of the afternoon doing very little and actually, it’s now half nine and the most constructive thing I’ve done is put Sid to bed- We were both so full from lunch, we didn’t even bother having a proper dinner- I’ve just had a slice of toast, some strawberries, and I think I’m going to have a second glass of wine while I watch the Last Leg election special.

Happy election day everyone!

Four years later

A couple of weeks back, we celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary- Time has totally flown, and this year obviously is a bit of a bigger change than most what with the arrival of young Mr.

After three years of anniversary year-related presents (you know, wood, paper, cotton, that sort of stuff), we made an executive decision to not buy presents from now on and instead to go for a cool day out, which would involve eating somewhere posh. Happily, last year, I was very generously given afternoon tea for two at the Savoy, as a thank you for a conference I organised, so that was that pretty much sorted.

We dropped Sid off at Mark’s mum’s for a few hours and hightailed it to town. I kinda wanted to go to the London Transport Museum, but when we got there with only a couple of hours before our tea reservation and discovered it was fifteen quid a person to go in, I satisfied myself with a look around the gift shop instead! After a bit of a bimble up the Strand to Trafalgar Square, we had just enough time for a very quick whizz around a couple of rooms in the National Gallery which was mercifully free of charge, but absolutely rammed! Still, was nice to do something vaguely cultural before we stuffed ourselves with cake.

The Savoy was, as expected, ridiculously posh- the sort of place that feels vaguely intimidating and where they have someone in the toilet waiting to hand you towels and stuff. We started off picking our menu- the classic afternoon tea or for a tiny supplement, high tea, which involved more savoury stuff. We chose the classic version, a decision which I’m still kicking myself about weeks later- I’m infinitely more savoury than sweet and am basically an idiot. We decided to upgrade to pink champagne too in homage to the fact that we had pink bubbly for the toasts for our wedding.

First came sandwiches. Little tiny finger sandwiches. I’ve never had such an impressive ham sarnie- seriously, it was something else! Then scones, with clotted cream and home made strawberry jam and lemon curd. We got extra cream and then extra scones. Course three was pastries. In what can only be described as abject gluttony, I asked for one of each of the six on offer. Then got overwhelmed, panicked and couldn’t finish any of them. Around this point, the tea started flowing- There was a choice of about eight million different types and I always go for English Breakfast, because I’m boring, but this time I went for ‘afternoon blend’ which was basically the same thing. By the time the pastries had been cleared away, I started feeling more than a little sweaty, and decided not to take any of the last course of ‘Savoy Signature Cakes’… until our waiter came over and I stupidly asked for a slice of banana and chocolate. When that arrived at the table, I was seriously considering doing a Mr Bean and mashing it up and hiding it in the vase of flowers. The shame! The gluttony and shame!

We really wanted to go up to the American Bar for a cocktail afterwards, but I’ll be honest, I felt like I was going to go bang, and so we reluctantly waddled towards the station, promising ourselves that we’d go another time- Maybe next year!

Real nappies

Real nappy week is just coming to an end. Alright, it sounds a bit weird as surely there are no imaginary nappies, but what it’s referring to in this case is reusable, rather than disposable nappies.

I had actually been dipping my toe in the reusable nappy world in the last few weeks anyway, so this seemed like a good opportunity to go for it a bit more!

I liked the idea of saving the world a bit- the amount of nappies that a kid gets through is nothing short of disgusting, and the disposable kind take forever and a day to break down, although when I looked into it a bit more, it was apparent that actually, the environmental impact between reusable and disposable was actually very small- particularly if you were washing at more than 40 degrees and tumble drying every day or two. What became more clear as I did my investigating, though, was the money that you could save was really pretty substantial, which always sounds like a bonus to me!

I got particularly lucky in that my local council offered a trial pack, of two different types of nappy for a fiver (a bargain as they gave about £40 of kit) and on asking my best friend, who uses reusables, for advice, she mentioned that her youngest had finished with the smallest size that she had if I wanted to borrow her’s- Obviously I took her up on the offer!

A brief bit of background- the real nappy world is bloody mind-boggling- there are so many different types and brands but all basically consist of a waterproof outer bit, something to soak up wee in the middle, and usually a liner to catch poo on the top. I ended up with…
-A pocket nappy, which is the waterproof outer, fleecy inner, and an additional towelling pad tucked in a pocket inside the nappy for extra absorbancy
-A two parter (waterproof outer and towelling inner in two separate parts, so you can wash the inner bit once it’s been wee’d in)

Both of these were shaped like disposable nappies, with velcro fastenings and poppers so they can be made bigger or smaller to fit a baby from ‘birth to potty’.

I wasn’t really a fan- they were both absolutely massive even when poppered down to the smallest size- Sid’s only 10 weeks old and not a big baby, and I just felt like he couldn’t kick his legs properly. The pocket nappy, a BumGenius, was pretty leaky too. Not a good first experience.

The stuff that I’d been lent was by Bambino Mio- a two parter again, with a nappy-shaped waterproof outer, but rather than a shaped inner, this system just had flat cloths that you folded up and put in the outer. The outers were sized too, so there was no faffing around with poppers. The outers were a bit old, so the velcro was curling up a bit at the edges, which I found was rubbing on Sid’s tummy a bit, but apart from that I’ve got on with them really well- they don’t leak, they’re ridiculously absorbant, and personally I think they’re not as bulky as the other ones I tried, so I’m sticking with them.

I haven’t quite gotten my head around the whole ‘carrying around a bag of wet nappies’ thing so we’re just using them when we’re in the house and still take disposables when we’re out and about, but even that’s saving some cash- The only thing I’ve paid for so far is a big lidded bin from IKEA and a net bag that’s meant to be used for washing bra’s in a washing machine. I’ve been putting the used nappies in the bin, which has been lined with the string bag, then every couple of days, I just scoop out the bag and sling that in the wash with half a capful of detergent and we’re good to go. I’ve been drying them on the line, but they are getting a bit crunchy, so I think I’ll do the next lot half in the sun and then finish them off in the tumble drier to soften them up a bit.

The danger now is that while I’ve saved some money in that the system’s been lent to me, I’ve started looking around and really want to go shopping now! I’ve seem some great covers that I want and actually, there’s a whole other system, Gnappies, which I’m hankering after, after I saw a friend using it- It looks similar to the Bambino Mio in that it’s sized and has inserts, but the covers look much nicer and it seems really streamlined. And as well as getting reusable inserts, which can be washed, you can get disposable ones too, which can be composted, so seem like the best of both worlds! If I can find some on the cheap, I really want to give them a go!