Are you ever sat in your living room and you see a really nosy person walk by your window peering in at your decor? Most likely that weirdo is me. I am hugely nosy. So, for me, sharing what's in my nappy bag doesn't seem odd at all, because I love taking a peek at what others carry around in those gigantic things too.
First things first. Let's talk about the bag itself. Storksak is a huge name in the nappy bag world. If you don't know the brand yet, take a look at their site and prepare to drool at the non-mumsy looking bags they have on offer. The one I picked is simply called the Tote and retails at £70.
Don't get me wrong, I was tempted by a Pink Linings 'Yummy Mummy' bag, but at the same time fearful that someone would 'accidentally' blurt out "Wishful Thinking" as I walked past them in my stretchy leggings and worn-for-four-days-in-a-row-dress.
It's wipe clean and lightweight, with two comfy under arm straps as well as an across body strap.
The main compartment is zipped, so no pick pocketers can grab your stuff quickly. There's also one inner zip pocket, perfect for my purse, keys and phone. Plus two elasticated pockets and one larger one with a velcro closing.
After over a year of revelling in many a good nights sleep thanks to Lena hitting toddlerhood, having another baby has been more than just a little bit of a shock.
I've realised that I can survive with very little shut eye for oh... approximately two weeks. At which point I can feel my entire self melt into a rather unsightly zombie. Able to only function at the most basic level, unless fuelled by double shots of espresso. Thanks Mr. Nespresso! Without you I would be lost.
Needless to say the two hourly feeds that Marni brought with her after her birth wore me down pretty quickly. There was one day when I literally couldn't feel my cheeks, I was so tired. There was another daybreak feed where I swear I did it all whilst completely asleep, including the pre-milk nappy change.
I was feeling pretty rotten, desperate even. It's like she knew that she had pushed me too far. So she brought out the big guns... the smile! Plus a few good nights of sleep. Sleep! Ah my old friend. I felt revived and able to cope with any tantrum, explosive poo or gripe cries that either of them wanted to throw at me.
Evidently, her cunning plan was to lure me into a false sense of security. We had two weeks of what I would now consider excellent nights. Feeding at 8pm, 11pm, 4am and 8am. Laughable by my pre-baby standards of 11pm-oooooh until 11am if I could get away with it, but joyful nonetheless.
All of a sudden it's changed. We are now doing 8pm, 11pm, 2am, 4am, 6:30am.... SERIOUSLY!!
It's pushing me to the limit and there's no amount of white noise from Ewan the Dream Sheep that's helping this baby get back to sleep in a timely manner. If I'm lucky a quick and super adorable hand holding session does the trick, but mostly it doesn't.
The only way that I can stay sane is to find a reason. To remind myself that it's just a phase whilst also putting it down to a growth spurt and if she's wailing, teething. Call my an idiot, but it helps stop me from falling into a pit of sleep deprived despair.
So, whilst she may well be munching her fist like a crazy person because it's just kinda fun, for me it's a clear sign to whip out the Calgel! And if that doesn't work, I can always bring out my very own Big Gun... Sophie the Giraffe.
I have tried it all when it comes to cradle cap. It's inoffensive, but I have been asked if it's contagious, a fungal thing, or because I need to wash my baby more. For a common ailment not many people seem to understand that it's just down to an overproduction of sebum on the scalp. Not, I'll have you know, because my baby is harbouring a revolting bug or something.
As I mentioned, I have tried it all. Dentinox made it worse and both the olive and coconut oil started to give off a rather hideous fermented cheesy odour. It was so bad that it even put the Grandmother off cuddling her. Pretty indicative, wouldn't you say?
I was doing my usual over researching thing and came across the Mustela brand. In particular lots of positive reviews regarding the foam shampoo and serum. It took only a week of using both products to rid Marni of her cradle cap.
The shampoo comes in a handy pump, making it easier to wash her hair one handed. It foams wonderfully and smells pretty pure. After leaving it on for a minute you simple wash it off. It cleanses her wispy tufts of hair and scalp without drying it out.
The cream is light and absorbs easily, without leaving a greasy feel. It seemingly does rebalance, soothe and hydrate as they suggest. I am in agreement with their clinical trials that this truly does eliminate cradle cap within 14 days.
I couldn't specifically say which of the two really got it under control. I'm certain that both combined are the most effective form of treatment. Now that the episode has cleared I just use the shampoo at night and the cradle cap has yet to return. Hurrah! Grandmother hugs can commence once again.
The To-Do list. I live by my To-Do list. Maybe it's because of my never ending baby brain. Or simply down to my love of stationary. Pretty list pads and the satisfying flick of ticking something off with a yummy floral pen, sadly make me very happy.
The List used to be my friend. My comforting and rewarding friend. It gave me structure, order, attainable goals and a sense of achievement when everything was brightly crossed off, ideally with a glitter pen. Since having children I'm having to address my relationship with The List.
I no longer have chunks of time to dedicate to chores. Paint that fence? Sand and re-paint the bathroom door? Whip up an amazingly cute Liberty Dress for Little Red Head number one? erm.... no evil list, I just can't!
I was absolutely giddy to find out that we were having a winter baby. I can't resist a snow suit that turns my baby into a teddy bear. In fact, any outfit that makes my baby look like an animal makes me pretty happy. The photo below proves my point pretty clearly, I think! As does the fact that I had at least 20 other baby/animal hybrid pictures to choose from for this post.
Excessive, maybe. Cute, definitely. The problem is that getting a squirming newborn into one of these suits and then into a car seat is a mission in itself.
If you're lucky your baby will be happy and content when you try to leave the house. They may even be asleep. However, after trying to get their uncooperative arms, grabby monkey like fingers and flailing legs into a snowsuit your baby will definitely not be happy, content or asleep before you leave the house. More fool you if you've actually bought one with poppers instead of a zip..... The screams will be ear splitting.
Add on to this the constant zipping and unzipping of the suit as you go into and out of the shops or friends' houses. Plus the safety concerns raised when using one in a car seat and the impact they have on the effectiveness of the chest straps in a crash.
On a drizzly day there is nothing better than loading Red Head Number One into the car and heading off to our local soft play. It is an experience. It's also guaranteed to exhaust her and give us a relatively peaceful afternoon/evening at home.
If we have visitors with us for the weekend we tend to warn them of the upcoming experience. For those who have never been to one before, I often watch them in the rear-view mirror on the journey home. They look almost traumatised. A shadow of their former self.
So here are my 'heads up' tips for those of you who have yet to spend a good few hours at a soft play.
I was lucky enough to inherit a glider nursing chair when Lena was born. It is remarkably comfortable and has seen us through many a night feed and evening-teething-soothing session. To be honest, I'll be sad to see it go when the time comes. The gentle creak it makes as I rock with my baby has become almost reassuring.
The issue is that it's over a decade old and the cushion covers are showing signs of their age. When Lena was a few months old I clumsily made covers for the cushions but none of them fitted particularly well. Hence, why we find ourselves with a handy, yet mismatched and ugly chair in the middle of our bay window.
Today we visited an absolutely magical place, Arlington Bluebell Walk. I am a real sucker for woodlands and flowers. Put the two together with stunning dappled spring light, a red-headed daughter in a princess dress and I'm in my idea of heaven.
A short drive away from Lewes, past Middle Farm, with good parking and facilities, it made for a wonderful morning out with one child and a baby in a buggy.
I was like a lot of first time mums when we started our parenting journey. I was totally convinced that I would breast feed, I wouldn't create bad sleep habits by rocking her to sleep or driving around at 2am like a zombie, and above all else, I would never, under any circumstances, let her use a dummy. They're bad for their teeth and speech development, don't you know.
Funny how once you're actually in "it" ("it" being the almost unnerving land of parenthood) all of those defiant personal beliefs fly out of the window..... in a flash.
After hours of ear splitting screaming and agonising writhing when the dummy works why wouldn't I make both of our lives easier? Actually, why wouldn't I make the lives of our entire household, including the cat's, plus our neighbours' lives a little easier?
The dummy made sense for me and my baby. Little Lena was bottle fed because she couldn't latch. This meant that she couldn't blithely suckle away for comfort like the babies of those exhausted and amazing breast feeding mothers. She also had the most horrendous reflux. The sucking provided great relief for her not only because it was distracting but the additional saliva also eased the acid burn that plagued her throat.
We were lucky that the reflux only lasted until she was fully weaned. I thought about removing the dummy then but it suddenly morphed into the most amazing sleep cue. We've never really struggled with nap times or bedtimes because her bunny and dummy were a clear sign post of what was to come.
I love having children. Even though I adore my two little red heads, there are still things that I miss BGN (Before Ginger Nuts.)
1. Smelling of perfume, my favourite being Jo Malone 154, rather than an odd combined fragrance of florals with stale baby sick.
2. Wearing cotton non-stretch clothing... but seriously, who has time for ironing now!
3. Using the toilet on my own.
4. Speaking of bathrooms; I had forgotten what it was like to shower without a loud voice declaring that "Mummy's tummy is wobbly." And then after asking what Daddy's tummy was like, in the vain hope to somehow balance the knock to my self esteem, hearing "Daddy's tummy is perfect."
5. Not eating food at a pace likened to that of a shoal of piranhas, anxiously aware that if you don't eat it now someone may cry, poo, vomit, hurt themselves or cause a world wide economic breakdown if you dare to savour your meal.
6. Eating food that isn't stolen by a little red head with Puss in Boots style eyes.
It's spring time. A perfect opportunity for layers and a little bit of leg! I think there's nothing cuter than chubby baby legs in tights.... well, I suppose chubby baby legs in absolutely nothing are just the most adorable. But let' face it, I live in the UK so the window of opportunity for clothes that will show off her knees is very small.
Whilst the weather is still so changeable we're going for some shorts and rompers worn with tights underneath. Taking some inspiration from the way the French and Spanish dress their babies these two outfits, I think, are adorable with a hint of playfulness. I love the ears of the cardigan and the print of the romper. Plus the playsuit has frills on the bottom..... this makes me very happy!
I'm lucky to have a mother who can knit at the speed of light. She's treated Lena to various pieces and I'm absolutely in love with her first endeavour for Marni. Paired with some comfy leggings from my Aunt in Australia this is a pink frenzy. After declaring that we would avoid 'pinkifying' our daughters, we quietly admit that they just simply look beautiful in the feminine hue! There's something gorgeous about red hair with pink.
Call me sensitive, but when I entered the realm of parenthood I suddenly felt more judged by complete strangers than I ever have done before.
Confronted with an array of decisions including how to feed your baby, how to dress them, how to play with them and later on how to discipline them, everyone seems to have an opinion. These opinions are so very different that it's inevitable that 'observations' are made by others regarding the choices that I make for my own children.
Only last week I was out food shopping with both kiddies (we will be internet shopping from now on) and Lena had decided to sit on the foot plate of our single buggy. When I turned the corner at the bottom of the cereal aisle I did so just that bit too fast. Lena caught her foot on the floor and she promptly, with impressive dramatic force, face planted. This, of course, unfolded in front of a queue of busy lunchtime shoppers at the self-checkout tills. I heard the unanimious intake of breath and felt the silent judgements, not only regarding the incident itself but also on my handling of the aftermath.
To add to this unnerving feeling of constantly being under observation, I stumbled across a website with the sole purpose of shaming 'lazy' parents who still encourage their children to use strollers way beyond the average weight capacity of 15kgs. Bingo! With baby number two on the way, this was perfect timing for my neurotic tendancies. Fearful that Red Head Number One would end up on the front page of said site the decision to buy a double buggy was seriously well considered, and of course Netmums threads well read, and then promptly rejected as an option for our growing family.
I'm taking a different tactic with this new baby when it comes to clothes. Firstly, from the ages of 0-3 months Nugget will be living in sleepsuits and sleepsuits alone.
Not only does the whole floppy neck stage of a newborn freak me out more than just a little, but with a toddler now in the picture I genuinely don't have as much time in the morning, scream free that is, to change this baby's outfits.
I will buy the basic under-vests from the likes of Primark or Sainsbury's but treat her to a few gorgeous babygrows from John Lewis. I have recently re-discovered this brand/institution and I'm slowly turning into an addict. Below are a few of my favourite multipacks on offer at the moment. With quality cotton that washes well and integrated scratch mittens I'm happy with the selection I've already stashed away... and also just a little jealous that I don't fit into them myself.
When it comes to actual outfits I am waiting for the stronger-neck-muscle phase where she looks more like a meerkat before I even consider there to be a difference between bed time clothes and day time promenading-with-the-pram clothes.
I am in love.... with a sophisticated, elegant and timeless rabbit. If you've not yet stumbled across the wonderful Fifi Lapin, may I please point you in the direction of her stunning blog and shop.
This is a bunny with a wardrobe to die for and now my little baby can wear her! Mamas & Papas have joined forces with the fashionista and the urge to buy is seriously strong. Below are my top picks. Gorgeous, or what?!?