9 August 2016

Breastfeeding for Toddlers 101

This is a post I wrote 18 months ago when just coming to the end of breastfeeding my second baby. I never got round to publishing it... maybe he stopped feeding before I got round to it and it didn't seem relevant any more... but reading it has brought back so many memories; I had forgotten how much nursing babies like to touch your boobs even when they're not feeding!!! It's nearly time for me to dig out the clothes with boob flaps again! 

Just turned one? Well I've got news for you... those magic milk boobs ain't just for babies! Now you're a big kid you've just got to change your style a bit.

Here's how to breastfeed like a bonafide toddler...

Breastfeeding for Toddlers 101

1. You're the Boss

Demand milk by forcibly removing any items of clothing in your way. Don't be deterred by jumpers, buttons, or multiple layers. No matter how hard she tries to hide them, those boobs are still there. When you want milk, you get milk and if it's not forthcoming, just rip your way in, use your teeth if you have to!

2. The Freak Out

Just when she starts moaning about not being able to wear normal bras, and wanting having her body to herself again, call her bluff by refusing to feed for 48 hours. Watch her breakdown and cry as she realises you're no longer 'her baby'.

3. The Prodigal Son

Then the day she starts to wear normal clothes without feeding flaps, and a bra with no openings, start to demand to feed again 5 times a day. You've got to keep her on her toes people. Study her face for the totally confused feelings of relief that her nursling baby is back, and despair that her nice bra has to go back into storage.

4. Get Handsy

Even when you no longer feed during the day, boobs are still nice. And still YOURS. Every cuddle, every carry, every pick up, slip your hand expertly into her top and grab a fistful of boob. Every time. Don't be put off by the constant removal of your hand and the half hearted 'stern' voice she tries to use. You're the boob boss around here!

5. Snacktime Funtime

Breastmilk is basically just a super fun snack now. Only feed for moments at a time, inbetween putting your fingers up her nose, grinning up at her, pulling her hair, pinching that bit of flabby tummy she doesn't like you touching. Essentially, just muck about. While you're sort-of-half-feeding she can't do aaaanything else, so take your time and enjoy her undivided attention. 

6. Boobnastics

Now you can walk, climb and do gymnastics, why not mix up the breastfeeding positions a bit. Try standing on the sofa, sitting up straight on her lap, upside-down on a beanbag? You name it, you can try it.

7. Monkey see Monkey drink

Any time there is so much as 1/2cm of cleavage on display forget about everything else in the world and rekindle your total obsession with boobs. This is especially fun at the swimming pool. Try with all your might to expose both boobs at the same time in the pool. Then, sneakily latch on when she's brushing her hair or trying to get you dressed after a swim.

Now please excuse me while I spend the next few weeks relishing the fact my bras don't have openings, my clothes aren't entirely designed for boob access and neither of my children are inclined grab my boobs on a regular basis!

6 August 2016

The day my son's face changed

Today my son changed forever.

He is still the same gorgeous, funny, sensitive, imaginative, adventurous little boy.

He still smiles the same, frowns the same, talks utter nonsense the same.

He still takes 10 minutes too long to eat his dinner because he's trying to make us laugh.

But he will never look the same. Because now when we look at his perfect little eyes they are framed with smart, stylish spectacles.

A couple of weeks ago a few days after he had nonchalantly mentioned to me that he couldn't see out of one eye... and never had been able to, I met a woman with a five year old who was wearing glasses. I grilled her on the subject: did they bother him? did other children ask him about them? did he break them every other day?

She told me, this stranger, that when she found out her little boy needed glasses she wept in the optician. She told me that the day before his glasses arrived she burst into tears every time she looked at him, knowing that it would be the last day he looked like him. I hadn't thought about that before then. I had worried about what other children would say, and whether he would hate wearing them, and the extra admin and hassle in my life... But I hadn't considered the fact that my first born baby would all of a sudden look different.

I didn't cry in the optician when she confirmed that he was right, he barely can see out of one eye, but I did feel sad.

I didn't cry yesterday either. I looked at him, ready to feel a rush of sadness about that beautiful face that was bare for the last time, but I saw a boy blinking too often, screwing his face up trying to focus and rubbing his obviously tired eyes. I was ready for today and ready for these glasses to save my poor boy from all the hassle his lazy eye has been causing him.

So I haven't sobbed all day, missing his naked face like I thought I might.

My main feelings have been relief that he is pleased with his frames (thanks to the Yoda pictures on the sides). I'm hopeful that with these glasses and the eye patching he will start soon, his eye will get stronger. I'm proud of him for taking this huge change in his stride and for showing such care and responsibility for his new glasses; he can't stop cleaning them and putting them in their case, only to take them out and put them on again!

But he does look different. I've been gazing at him all day, trying to relearn his face with the glasses on. He looks cute, adorable, even kind of chic! I love his little face with the glasses on. He looks grown up, and intellectual and sweet. He just looks different. Like a new little boy, still mine, just new.

I did a double take earlier because I didn't immediately recognise him across the park, there was a kid with glasses was wearing his clothes, and his hair. A kid with glasses. That kid with the glasses. That's who he is now. That'll be the easiest way to distinguish him from now on. Which one is he? That one with glasses. I suppose that's as good a way as any.

I didn't think he'd be the kid with glasses at school, but he will be. I'm not worried that this will have any negative impact on him whatsoever. He will rock up on his first day to school and no one there will know his face before the glasses. But I knew his face before. I've spent the last 4 years memorizing it and it feels weird knowing that I have to get used to this new one.


3 August 2016

Rockin Baby Summer Collection Review

Having been recently livid somewhat disappointed when my husband 'took the initiative' to buy some new clothes for the boys and ended up with a load of oversized, poorly made, cheap looking garments in their wardrobe, I was thrilled to be offered the chance to review some Rockin Baby clothes from their Summer collection.

I had never heard of Rockin Baby but now I can barely get off the website! The clothes are lovely, great quality and fit so nicely. 

As you can see, my boys are very similar in size, so they share a whole wardrobe and don't have many matching items. Its lovely for them to be matching in these Hello Sailor tees. They love the whale with a boat for a hat and I love the embroidered Rockin Baby star on the sleeve. I prefer t-shirts a little less 'busy', and there are lots of other simpler designs in the Summer Collection, but I love the colour of this one and think the boys look lovely in it!

The chinos were a big surprise for me. My boys are boisterous, adventurous little things who run, jump, climb and crawl all over the place, so I usually dress them in shorts, leggings or jogging bottoms for comfort and so their clothes don't restrict their play. They do own other chinos but they're made of stiff fabric and I tend to save them for parties or weddings. Our new Chester Chinos from Rockin Baby have changed my mind entirely! They're soft, stretchy and not at all restrictive, but still look as smart as their 'party clothes' trousers. I love these chinos so much I'm going to buy them in more colours!

As well as being comfy and looking super cute, the trousers are a great fit on both boys. My 4 year old is a skinny little dude and the adjustable waistband means he doesn't need to wear a belt with these (aged 4-5) and they fit beautifully. He is only just 4, so they're a little long in the leg, but that's a great thing as I know they'll last him through the next growth spurt!

My 2 year old is a tall, broad, chunky little guy so usually wears age 3-4. These chinos fit him perfectly in age 2-3 so they get a huge thumbs up from me!

Every time you buy something from Rockin Baby they give an item of clothing to a child in need in countries across the world, so you can feel good that your kids look awesome AND a child less fortunate than your own is getting something to wear too.

Can't wait to review more clothes, if only to get to see these crackin poses again!!

We were sent these clothes for the purposes of this review but my opinions are honest and I will genuinely be ordering Rockin Baby clothes for the boys again!


25 July 2016

Pom Pom is Super!

We are huge fans of Sophy Henn in our house and have been since first setting eyes on Pom Pom the Champion last year. This week I interviewed my favourite new kid's author to celebrate the release of her brand new Pom Pom book, Pom Pom is Super!

Have you been secretly filming my life for the last 3 years? (If not, how are your books so incredibly true to toddler life?)

 Ha Ha! No! But I have been there with my daughter and her friends! That was a while ago mind you, but, worryingly, I can revert to toddler surprisingly easily! I think it's pretty tough being a toddler, constantly flung into new situations and having to try to work out the 'right' reaction to everything. I think if I was faced with that all day I would fling myself on the floor of Sainsburys too! But the flip side of everything being new or newish is that it's all so exciting! ALL THE TIME!!!! WOOOO HOOOOO!

How do you start a book? Do you sketch and get ideas from drawings or do the words always come first?

My books have started in a different ways, I long for a 'method' or 'routine', but sadly none seem forthcoming! My creative style could be described as 'haphazard' at best.... Where Bear? started as a doodle of a white bear in a forest, looking worried and a bit lost. Pom Pom came from an 'incident', where a lovely little person was shouting and telling everyone to go away. She really got the wind her sails and kept saying it, so everyone went away. As soon as they had she got a bit worried and wondered where everyone had gone! And Pass It On was just about wanting to write a happy book, so the words came first. 

If you weren't an author what other job would you have liked to do?

Well, I studied fashion, worked in advertising and had a greetings card company so I would be lying if I claimed to have always done this. But as far as dream jobs go it would have to be....tap dancer. With LOTS of sequins and hats!

Who are your top tips for other brilliant new writers for young children? 

OOOh that's super tricky!!! There is so much fantastic work out there, with amazing new writers and illustrators coming along all the time. Among many others I really love Victoria Turnbull's work. It's like no else's and extremely beautiful. She's got skills!

Great recommendation! These look amazing!

What about the classics? What's your favourite children's book of all time?

Oooh I couldn't possibly pick one. When I was little I love Janet and Allan Ahlberg's 'Cops and Robbers', with all the mischief and detail in the illustrations. I went on to love Milly Molly Mandy, Secret Seven and Nancy Drew. But I also love I Capture the Castle, Eloise, Oh, and Saul Bass' Henri's Walk to Paris. Argh, this answer could go on and on.....

If a CBeebies big-wig approached Pom Pom and wanted to make him into a TV superstar would you let him go or keep him safely in your books? 

WOW!  I LOVE a lot of children's animation and watch loads (even though I no longer have the excuse of a small child!) so the idea does appeal. Though I would like it to stay true to the books, the style of illustration and his character. Despite his ups and downs I see Pom Pom as lovable, a character we ultimately root for, I would hate that to change. And I would really like a cuddly Pom Pom. Please.

[OMG I totally want a cuddly Pom Pom now!]

Will we ever see Where Bear again? (Other than hiding in Pom Pom's room?)

Never say never! Where Bear was written as a one off book, so there was no sequel in mind. But I have had a few ideas, though it would have to be the absolutely right story for Boy and Bear get back together, so there's nothing planned. Yet.

The boys (aged 2 and 4) also wanted to ask you some questions...

Where is Pom Pom's Daddy? (I suggested probably at work, so to follow up...)
Where does he work?

That is a very good question, and one I have been giving some thought to recently.  I think so far he has been at work or possibly in his shed or maybe in the kitchen. I am almost sure he wears a suit to work, and has some very snazzy cardigans to wear at home. And tartan slippers, he definitely wears tartan slippers. But not to work, that would be ridiculous!

Who is your favourite Superhero? (Ours is "Batman-Hulk-Robin-Flash-Spidey")

WONDER WOMAN! Fighting for our rights, in her satin tights! It's always good to remember girls can be super too! Pom Pom's super hero head band on the cover of Pom Pom is Super might have been slightly inspired by Wonder Woman, but don't tell him that! I also like Batman, the fact he doesn't have any 'super' powers as such makes him very likable, even if he is a bit grumpy.

[I like Wonder Woman too! Also LOVING Baxter showing his fabulous side as Twinkly Twirly Tornado Bear in the book... SO gender neutral!!]

Is Pom Pom going to go to big school in September or is he only 3?

Hmmm Pom Pom's age is a bit of a mystery, which I realise is a rather rubbish answer. But he is in that pre-school/reception age group. It's a very busy time, as I am sure you know, so I am hoping that means there will be lots more adventures for Pom Pom.

What do you think we should call our new baby? (We think "dinosaur lion superhero".)

POM POM!!! Obviously! But I can see the merits of "dinosaur lion superhero", there's something in that name for everyone!

[Pom Pom is going on the shortlist, along with all the other characters from your books, my personal favourite being Scout!]

Thanks for talking to us! We are all huge fans of the books and are very excited about the release of Pom Pom is Super! Also thanks for introducing the word Harrrrumph into our household, it's one of my favourite things to say at them when they've got the grumps! 

My pleasure, thank YOU for all your marvellous questions and for liking Pom Pom! And I am delighted you use "HARRUMPH", HOORAY for that! x

Pom Pom is Super is available to pre-order now and released on 4th August. We were sent a copy by the lovely Sophy and have read it most nights since it arrived, it's definitely a keeper!

If you have never read the Pom Pom books (you SHOULD) you can win ALL THREE BOOKS by liking and commenting on the Facebook post below...

Good Luck!!!

22 July 2016

The Big Baby Fear

I'm pregnant with my 3rd baby after a what-I-call GINORMOUS 2nd baby.

2 days old in a size 3-6month baby grow. Weighing more than the Christmas Turkey!
Here's how the conversation about my giant baby usually goes down:

1. Someone mentions babies.
2. Someone mentions weights of babies.
3. I tell them my baby weighed 10 pounds 6 ounces (or 4.7kg if they speak new money)
4. Everyone in the vicinity winces.
5. Someone asks if it was "a natural birth"...
6. I say yes, at home in a birth pool.
7. People audibly gasp.
8. Everyone makes a comment along the lines of

b) OMG
c) God, I thought MY labour was painful
d) NO WAY.
e) So this one will probably weigh, like a STONE!

9. I smile and nod amiably and internally scream at everyone to shut up.

So far in my 3rd pregnancy the only person to so much as entertain the idea that this baby isn't going to be a behemoth is my consultant who said "well, mathematically, everything errs towards the mean so it might be closer to your first baby's weight" (Which by the way was 7lb 9oz). Thank you maths guy.

But, given that we don't know, I'm preparing for the fact that this so far tiny creature in my belly may well come out the size of a 3 month old like his or her big brother did.

With my last baby, I went in to the labour, having had one fairly easy, fairly quick labour previously, with no worries about "having a big baby" and the birth was (honestly) brilliant.Yes it hurt, because giving birth hurts, but the big baby certainly didn't hurt any more than the average sized one. The labour was no more arduous. The pushing was no more tiring. The whole experience was better than my first experience.

And yet... now I suspect (and keep having people loudly supporting my suspicion) that this baby will be big, I've got the fear! The big baby fear, that comes from decades of people wincing at the mention of a large baby. My brain knows, from experience, that it doesn't hurt more, yet the message I hear over and over again is that it just MUST do and somehow that message is starting to override what I know I experienced!

So in order to quash this stupid myth, that it hurts more to give birth to a big baby than a small one, I asked a group of other mums who've done both to reassure me that big baby doesn't equal painful delivery... and here are their answers:

Thank you Chloe, Jenny, Danielle, Mandi and Emma for your words of encouragement!!! They are much appreciated!

So this is what I shall come and read when yet another well meaning acquaintance winces at the very thought of me giving birth in a few months time. I especially love Danielle's Mum whose 10lber JUST FELL OUT. If I read that enough times my baby will get the message that he or she should just fall out too right?! Good!

If you've had a giant baby and the labour was blissful, easy and/or pain free please comment below and make me feel better... If you've had a traumatic, awful labour with a big baby PLEASE BE QUIET AND DON'T SAY ANYTHING! Thanks!!!


30 June 2016

5 of the best picture books of 2016 (so far!)

We've been reading so much recently. The boys literarily love story time before bed (get it?). They've been so keen to read that we might have started skipping bath time in favour of longer story time. Sometimes...Yes, ok, we prioritise literacy over cleanliness in our house, what of it??

Despite the gazillions of books in their room, it can be easy to get stuck in a rut of reading the same old stories night after night so if you're in need of a few new books to keep your interest at bedtime, let me recommend my top 5 new children's books to have been released this year...

Goodnight Spaceman
by Michelle Robinson and Nick East

This is a lovely bedtime story about two little boys with an astronaut Daddy. My boys love the pictures of their space-themed bedroom especially. I love the tone of the book, it's got enough of an exciting plot to capture their tired little brains but is gentle and calm enough for a peaceful quiet bedtime read. For an added bonus we saw Tim (actual spaceman) Peake reading it on the CBeebies Bedtime Stories programme (you can probably find it on YouTube!).