Monday, 15 December 2014

This was our week: routines, primary school and magic

The weeks are just flying by so fast that I feel that unless I commit to writing a weekly post about the things that we have got up to as every week passes, I will forget about all the little moments that really count.  So, each Sunday, I want to write a short post just giving the highlights and lowlights of what has happened in our world. Here's my first entry:


We had a quiet morning at home, trying out my new system of keeping M occupied by drawing in a series of boxes what the plan was for the morning.  We had boxes for getting dressed, playing with his garage, and snack time, amongst other activities. I'm trying to get him to play independently for spells of time, as he always wants me as a playmate and I can't always give him one-to-one attention.  It seemed to work, and M played on his own for a good 20 minutes.


At lunchtime, Granddad R came to visit, and then took M out to the local garden centre for lunch and to look at the Christmas displays. I got on with some clothes sorting whilst F had a nap.

My mum and nan popped round in the afternoon for a cuppa.


We all went to the local primary for a tour of the school by the headmaster (who was quite strict!), and then M went to pre-school until 2.45, while I took my nan to the next town so she could see where she would be attending her bereavement counselling in a couple of weeks. We had a good chat about her days as an evacuee in the war, and she got a bit emotional.  I feel so sorry for her, alone now without my granddad.


My two boys and I had another quiet morning at home before pre-school at 11.45.  We tried drawing out the morning's plan again and it's definitely working in giving M a structure for his time at home and preventing him from driving me mad by asking 'What next, Mummy?'  The only thing is that he tries to rush through each activity so he can tick it off and get on to the next one!

M is still coughing lots and has a horrible runny nose.  M was being picked up by his nan and granddad and having a sleepover that night, leaving me and F to go into my work for an informal team meeting.  It was the first time I'd seen my colleagues since going on maternity leave. It felt strange to be back. F was admired by all the ladies, despite doing really stinky trumps all the time.


I had a clingy baby attached to me all morning, but managed to do a fair bit of online Christmas shopping and banking before we then had to go to the clinic for F's first set of vaccinations.  It's horrible to hear him squeal when the needles went in but, after his ordeal in his first ten days when he had his lumbar puncture and all sorts of other poking and prodding, a couple of injections didn't upset me as much as they did with M.

We had a little walk around the village then came home ready for M to return from his nan and granddad's.  M was on really good form this afternoon. The boys had a bath together this evening, although F did not enjoy it!


While M was at pre-school today I made a big dent in the Christmas wrapping up while watching Love Actually.  Somewhat of a tradition with me!

In the late afternoon we went to experience The Magical Journey at the Belfry, Tamworth.  M had a lovely time, and was thrilled to see Father Christmas.


I had my hair coloured in the morning and then at lunchtime, me and my two boys went round a friend's house for a pre-Christmas gathering with all the children.  It was lovely to see everyone, albeit noisy!

We had a difficult night, with M complaining of an earache and getting up at 4.20am, while F is still continuing to feed two-three times a night.  Having children is hard!


We didn't have a great morning, with M pushing our buttons and with us so short on sleep.  But the afternoon improved with a walk down the lane to Costa and then to Mum's house for the afternoon.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

My two little boys: Siblings {December 2014}

I've really enjoyed snapping photos of my two boys this month.  At the moment all photos of them have been taken indoors, simply due to the bad weather making it impossible with a young baby, but I'm pleased with the results so far.
(I'm going to refer to my First Boy as 'M' and the Second Boy as 'F' from now on, as these posts are difficult to write without using names!)
The relationship between my two little men is so new, but is already blossoming into something special.  M cannot resist kissing his little brother's head many times a day and talking to him in a high-pitched voice that he's obviously copying from me! It's very cute. 
 There have been no signs of jealousy and the only frustration is when F is wailing and disturbing his big brother's TV time.  I'm very proud of the way he's adapted so well to having to share his mummy and daddy.

M has been delighted to see that his little brother has learnt how to smile, and tries his best to elicit a grin from him.  But he sometimes puts his head so close to F's face that F goes cross-eyed and cannot see his big brother properly.
I think these two are going to be great buddies.
dear beautiful

Me and Mine {November 2014}

November flew by so fast that I didn't get time to update my blog much or to post my 'Me and Mine' entry in time for the end of the month. But better late than never! Although our family photo was taken last minute, just before the First Boy's bedtime, I like it as it sums us up at the moment: tired, always behind on everything, but essentially, happy.
We've had a lot to deal with this month: as well as all the usual hard work and sleeplessness you get with a newborn, we've also had frequent trips to the paediatrician to check the Second Boy's elevated calcium levels, and a nasty cold has affected both boys and then manifested in us as sore throats and coughs. But, overall, it has been a good month, and one in which we all began to gel as a family of four.  Things are still full-on, but we are getting into more of a routine.

In November, I loved:
Being smiled at for the first time by the Second Boy
Planning what to give our boys for Christmas
Trips to the shops and cafes to meet with friends
Watching 'The Fall' and 'The Missing' on TV
Dressing the Second Boy in his lovely new outfits
Daddy loved:
Getting back into the routine of work after paternity leave
Coming home from work to his family
(Tiredness induced amnesia has meant his list is short this month!)
The First Boy loved:
Making new friendships and coming home from pre-school talking about the other children who's names he'd learnt
Individual raspberry trifles
Hot chocolate with mini marshmallows
Singing along to his nursery rhymes CD in the car
The Second Boy loved:
Being cuddled all the time
Milk and lots of it
Staring at his big brother
Learning how to smile

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Wailing, whining and weeping: our playground trip went wrong

This week I decided to take my two boys to a nearby playground and nature reserve so that we could all get out of the house and reap the benefit of some fresh air.
It wasn't a very nice day: blustery and gloomy, with the sky so low it seemed to almost be hanging like one of those cartoon clouds over your head.  But I was getting cabin fever waiting in the house for some sunshine, so off we set anyway.  It was my first outing with the First Boy and the Second Boy on my own, so I was a bit nervous, but what could go wrong?  We were going to a playground that the First Boy loves, and the Second Boy had been sleeping 20 hours a day and loves his pram, so he'd be no problem.  It was supposed to be so easy.
Off we went, armed with everything we needed for a nice jaunt out, to the tune of the First Boy's nursery rhyme CD in the car, the Second Boy predictably asleep in his car seat.
We arrived at the park, paid our £3.50 parking fee, and headed for the playground. But with no single other family there whatsoever, the place felt really desolate and eerie, like the set of a Scandinavian crime drama; swings creaking in the wind, climbing frames stark against a leaden sky. You get the picture.  We all seemed to pick up on the mood.  My spirits sank. The First Boy wandered in a desultory way around the different pieces of equipment. The Second Boy began to whimper in the pram.

'Zip-wire, Mummy!'  The First Boy picked up a little when he spied his favourite part of the playground.  But when I tried to lift him onto the seat, while stopping the seat disc from sliding back down the wire, I realised that it was an impossible feat for me to elevate a 2.5 stone lump that high with one arm.  Cue a fit of pique from the First Boy, who seemed confused as to why I couldn't help him onto the seat like Daddy does. But he recovered soon enough and went off to play on the climbing frame (that has a clear notice that tells you it is designed for children five years and older).  Normally, Daddy gives him a lift up, and helps him with the monkey bars and fireman's pole.  Mummy, on the other hand, was again pretty useless at this, and was beginning to feel more and more anxious as the Second Boy began to wail. 
I began to alternate between pushing my big boy on a swing and comforting my newborn, whose pramsuit was inconveniently slippery next to my own coat and made him as hard to handle as a bar of soap in a bath.  Every time I laid him down in his cosy pram he immediately restarted his wailing.  Every time I stopped pushing the swing, the First Boy immediately berated me for the swing not going high enough.  I was on a loser.

Then I remembered that there was another, lower, more mummy-friendly zip-wire in a different playground within the nature reserve, and I foolishly suggested to the First Boy that we walk to that one instead, thinking that the Second Boy would stop crying once the pram was in motion.  Instead, as we walked the mile to the other playground, the wails got louder, the track got more uneven and muddier, the First Boy started to whine that he didn't want to walk any more, and my nerves got more and more frazzled.  I resorted to cradling the Second Boy in my arms while pushing the pram, and whilst the First Boy staggered alongside, holding the side of the pram and adding his weight to it.  It felt like a very long way, and by the time I got to the second playground I was ready to cry myself. 

Before the wailing and whining began . . .

After I'd helped the First Boy have a go on the zip-wire, from which he fell off and landed in a patch of mud, I decided that I'd have to try breastfeeding the Second Boy to pacify him.  So on a cold metal park bench, with the wind whipping my hair across my face, I exposed myself and attempted a feed. It didn't work.  After ten minutes, I gave up, put the Second Boy back in his pram while simultaneously leaking breast milk all over his blankets.  We made our slow progress back to the car park, in the same awkward way as we got to the playground.  I had never been so glad to see our car.

At the same park on a happier day

I was so worn out and demoralised by our first outing that when I got home and found my husband there (I was so glad to see him!), I went to bed for a little weep and a rest.  Sounds melodramatic I know, but factor in the month of sleeplessness and hormones and I think I can be forgiven.

So, there we go.  Not your usual upbeat positive post about making use of the great outdoors with your children, but an honest experience that I think a lot of mums will recognise.  In hindsight, I should have stuck to our smaller, local park for my first trip out with the two boys, and shouldn't have attempted such a long walk with a grumpy pre-schooler. We live and learn!


Brilliant blog posts on

Friday, 14 November 2014

My Second Boy: One Month Old

To my beautiful second boy,
This week you turned one month old.  We celebrated by staging a home photo shoot with the help of your Nanny S, which you mostly co-operated with. 
  It has been a turbulent first month for you and for us, with your early emergency induction and lightening-fast labour, your terrifying meningitis scare and the stay in hospital for you and I, the ongoing appointments with paediatrics, and then the general topsy-turviness of getting used to life outside the womb.  But you have mostly been a placid, sweet-natured little baby throughout all of this upheaval, and despite all that you've been through.

In your first month you have already changed so much. Born at just 5lb 11oz, and dropping to 5lb 3oz, you then began to put weight on at an astonishing rate.  At your last weigh-in a week ago, you were 7lb 8oz, so you're gaining at the rate of about 1lb a week!  You have taken to breastfeeding so well, and are obviously getting the gold-top from Mummy!  We can now see that you have a little double chin and chubby cheeks, and your previously skinny little body is becoming rounder.

  Your hair is growing: for the first week or two your head felt like velvet when you stroked it, but now it is more downy, with more and more fluff appearing every day.  You're going to be fair-headed, everyone agrees, just like your big brother.

 In the last couple of days, you have begun to delight Mummy with your very first smiles.  They're fleeting and not yet proper grins, but they're unmistakable and so beautiful.  We can't wait to capture one on camera.

 You sleep a lot in the day, but when you're awake, you're very alert and enjoy following us with your eyes, and listening to your family's different voices intently.  You've gradually unfurled your limbs in the last month, so that you're now less foetal and curled up, and are starting to enjoy stretching your legs and waving your arms.

You seem to be suffering with tummy discomfort during the night, and have taken a dislike to sleeping on your back, which is causing Mummy and Daddy a bit of worry, and a lot of sleepless nights.  Your discomfort (perhaps colic?) seems worse around 4-6am, so Mummy and Daddy are currently a tag team, taking it in turns to sleep in the spare bed in your nursery.

 Whenever we take you out in your pram you attract the admiration of everyone, who all comment on how beautiful you are and how small.  You make me so proud to be your mummy. 

You have slotted into our family perfectly, and we love you so much, little boy. 

Monday, 10 November 2014

My two little brothers {Siblings: November}

I've been waiting to write this post for some time! Now I am the proud mother of not one but two sons; I have two gorgeous little boys to love. And I am so happy that each of my lovely boys has each other with whom to build a lifelong friendship. Who knows whether they will grow up to be close friends, whether they will complement each other's personalities, or whether they will clash with each other.

Although it has been only one month since my First Boy became a big brother, the relationship between my two little men is blossoming and flourishing. There is always the chance of jealous behaviour when you add another child to the family, but any concerns we had when I was pregnant have so far proved to be unfounded.

 From the first time he met his little brother, my First Boy has not been phased by this new squirming little creature who has arrived in his life. I had imagined that the amount of time I would spend breastfeeding would trigger attention-seeking behaviour in my eldest: so far, he seems to just understand that his little brother needs mummy for milk, and, instead of misbehaving, he simply snuggles up close to us for a cuddle and stories. I am aware that we may just be in a honeymoon period, but so far, I am thrilled at how well my First Boy is adapting.



Having a little sibling has brought out my First Boy's affectionate nature. He asks for his 'baby brother' first thing every morning and insists on leaning into the Moses basket and raining kisses down on his head. He wants to stroke him and hold his hands whenever he can, and thinks that it's his job to tell us what the Second Boy needs: 'Mummy, he needs his milky,' and 'I think he like that toy, Daddy.' When the Second Boy cries, the First Boy tells him not to worry. It really is adorable to watch him show such care and tenderness towards his brother.

The Second Boy too is showing signs of loving the company of his big brother. When he hears his voice, he will stop and listen, his eyes darting around to try to locate the high-pitched chatter of his brother. He will Stare at him, watching him intently, almost as if he is storing up all his moves to emulate in the future.

So far, they seem to be quite different characters: where the First Boy is rather restless and precocious, the Second Boy is calm and placid. I am so looking forward to watching the interactions between these two as they grow up.

I am really pleased to be linking up with Lucy's lovely Dear Beautiful blog and her Siblings project for this post.

dear beautiful

Sunday, 9 November 2014

In search of the Gruffalo's Child {Ordinary Moments #42}

Last Saturday afternoon we were all going a bit stir crazy in the house so we decided to blow away the cobwebs with a walk around The Gruffalo's Child trail in Cannock Chase.

In the summer we'd completed The Gruffalo Trail at the same place so knew that it would be a hit with the First Boy, who loves any kind of treasure hunt.  Cannock Chase is a beautiful spot. 

As soon as I got there and caught the fresh scent of the pine trees and autumn leaves I felt my frazzled nerves melt away.

We took our new double pushchair for its first ride out with both boys in it.  We got an Out 'n' About Nipper 360, and although it was a bit of an extravagance, seeing as the First Boy, at nearly 3.5 years, walks everywhere, I wanted to have one to use on longer walks when little legs give up, and it then takes ages to coax them to keep going.

I was concerned that it might not be supportive enough for a newborn, but with our new lambskin added, our littlest man was really snug and didn't stir for the entire walk. 

 The Second Boy enjoyed his short test drive too, and I enjoyed pushing it!

The trail itself G and I found quite disappointing after doing the first trail in the summer, as all of the characters were found at exactly the same points along the path. But this didn't bother our little explorer, who got very excited at each glimpse of a new shape in the trees.

We came to the enormous carved wooden Gruffalo at the end to squeals of excitement and then had a game of tag around him.

 Another highlight for the First Boy was finding, in a little copse near the Gruffalo, a collection of little steps and hinged doors carved into tree trunks, with coins that people had pushed inside the doors.   I would have also been fascinated by that as a little girl.

After a determined effort at completing the playground assault course, it began to get dark. 

It was time to go home for tea, and another viewing of The Gruffalo's Child, which we have had on our digital recorder since last Christmas.  

'The Gruffalo's Child was a little less bored
And the Gruffalo snored and snored and snored.'

I'm linking up with Katie's blog at Mummy Daddy Me and her Ordinary Moments linky for this post.
I'm also linking up with Coombe Country Kids for this outdoorsy post. Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Breastfeeding: easier second time round

I am breastfeeding the Second Boy, and this time round, it feels much easier than when the First Boy and I started our nursing journey. I have fourteen months of breastfeeding experience to refer to this time, which has helped me to relax about the whole thing.
Back then, I really struggled for the first six weeks with a severely cracked and painful nipple caused by a whole first night of feeding in the hospital with a bad latch. Every feed was excruciating and I think that, because I tensed up, my let-down reflex was affected and, subsequently, my milk supply.  For the first six weeks I felt like I was failing at breastfeeding, and became quite anxious and downhearted.  So this time round I was quite nervous that the same thing would happen.

With the Second Boy, I have been very careful from the start that our latch is right. We are not getting it right every feed; sometimes we go through a couple of days of soreness.  Sometimes I feel like the relentlessness of it is all too much for me to cope with, especially when the Second Boy is cluster feeding for the third consecutive hour in the night.  But generally it's a hundred times better than with the First Boy.  The Second Boy's weight gain has been fantastic (he is averaging at a 2 oz gain every day at the moment!) and I really feel like I have a great supply of milk.  My confidence is generally pretty high, and I am feeling proud of how we're doing.

Here is my list of the things that are helping us succeed this time:

1. Bedside cot.
We have a cot that attaches to our bed so that I have been able to feed both boys quickly and efficiently during the night without having to get out of bed.  It means that I sleep within an arm's reach of my baby and can sense the first stirrings when he is ready for a feed.  It's especially welcome right now in the late Autumn when the nights are colder and getting out of bed not an enticing prospect.  However, there are a couple of downsides of our cot: the mattress is a little hard, which we've remedied by putting the Moses Basket (which the Second Boy loves sleeping in) inside it; I've also found that I am sleeping so close to my baby that I am disturbed by every tiny sound, and can sometimes misinterpret that as him needing to feed.

2.  Spare bed
For the past few nights I have  been sleeping in the nursery, which has a single bed in it.  G has been bringing the Second Boy into me during the night when he needs a feed. This has been so helpful in helping me to get a bit more sleep in between feeds, as he is less disturbed by all the little snuffling noises that babies make.  Making a point of having a spare bed was something that we learnt was a priority for us after our experiences of the First Boy's early months. I'm so glad we found the room for one.
3. Nursing armchair
With the First Boy we bought one of those proper nursing glider chairs.  But I didn't actually use it very much as it was not that comfortable, so we ended up selling it. This time, we bought the Jennylund armchair from Ikea, which is really comfortable and also compact enough to fit into the nursery.  When I'm sleeping in the nursery, I will feed in this chair at night as it helps me with posture and prevents my back from aching, which it can sometimes do when I'm feeding sitting up in bed.

4. Nightlight
We have a lovely little nightlight from Mothercare which I switch on to do the night feeds. It's just enough light to get the latch right without waking anyone up too much!

5. The right nursing clothes
It really helps me to feel more confident about breastfeeding if I know I have comfortable nursing bras and clothes that allow me to feed discreetly and efficiently, both at home and in public, without me feeling too frumpy.  I have spent more money this time round on a few key nursing outfits, and I've also made use of non-nursing clothes such as button down shirts and cowl neck tops, rather than be limited to what I can source in the few high street shops that sell a range of nursing clothes.  A good tip is to wear a nursing vests with clips underneath a regular top, then it's possible to simply lift up the top to access the vest without revealing your tummy.  I think sleep bras are a must too, to give you some support at night without feeling like you're still strapped up!
6. Lansinoh cream
This cream is a godsend. It really helps sore nipples to heal quickly. Expensive but worth it.

7. Breast pump.
I'm just at the point when I'm starting to express and introduce the Second Boy to a bottle of expressed milk occasionally. The first time round, I had a hand-pump, which was absolutely useless.  Then I borrowed an Ameda Lactaline double electric breast pump from a friend and it was fantastic.  I have invested in one of my own this time.  Again, it's expensive, but really worth the extra money for its efficiency and ease of use.
8. Supportive husband
I can't stress enough how my husband's support is crucial to whether I am able to make breastfeeding work for us.  My hubby makes sure I'm fed and watered, entertains and distracts the First Boy when his mummy is occupied in nursing, takes on most of the nappy and winding duties, sends me into the spare room when he can see me flagging due to lack of sleep, and tells me how well he thinks I'm doing.  He supports my breastfeeding completely but I know he'd like to be able to give our little one his milk (who doesn't savour gazing down at that lovely milk drunk face?) so I'm looking forward to him being able to give the Second Boy my expressed milk from a bottle a bit more frequently soon.


What have been the key factors for getting breastfeeding off to a good start for you?

Mami 2 Five