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See posts about: // Isabelle // Parenting // Family //

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Sensory Play: Hair Curlers!

It's been a while since I posted about sensory play - mostly because the weather has been so great we have just been splashing in the paddling pool and lounging outside!

Last year, I posted all about Isabelle's treasure basket, and the different bits and bobs in it. I continued to add things to it for a few months, and one of those items was a set of hair curlers which I picked up on a whim at the local chemist one day. I got a large set of 4, and a smaller set of 6, and I think the price came to about £3.

Since I got them, Isabelle has really enjoyed them. She doesn't play with her treasure basket much anymore, however I have noticed recently that she has started taking the curlers out and playing with them quite often. She lifted them out to play earlier so I thought it'd be a good opportunity to share with all of you.

These curlers are a great little sensory toy - their 'sticky' feel, the way they stick together, the different sizes, the way the roll if put on the long side, or stand up if put on the short, the sound they make when she bashes them on the table...there is so much that these simple little items offer to Isabelle.

Today, she just took them out, and set them on their ends on the table. Then, one at a time, she picked them up and moved them to a different part of the table. Over and over again. It doesn't sound very exciting, stimulating, or important - but it obviously was for her as she played for around 15 minutes doing it! Little activities like this really help her work on her fine motor skills too, as setting the curlers on end is fiddly for her. She also likes to put the smaller rollers inside the larger ones, and try and stack them together, and she enjoyed being able to give them to daddy today while she played. She also got one of the tubes from her ball drop out, and popped the smaller curlers down it - but couldn't fit the larger ones down which helps her understand the concepts of size.The concentration she shows when she is playing with them is unbelievable - everything is focused on what she is doing with these little blue and green cylinders.

I'm sure lots of you have these hiding in the bottom of a bathroom drawer, or if not you can pick them up so cheaply in a chemist. I know they seem like such a weird thing to give to a child to play with, but Isabelle really does love playing with these, and the concentration she displays lets me know that they really are a worthwhile addition to our sensory play basket.

So, the humble hair curler - your time has come!

Sunday, 27 July 2014

I'm defunct after 15 months!

The title says it all - after a mere 15 months of being the top dog in Isabelle's life...I am now surplus to her requirements.

For a while, she has been very fond of my mum and dad - my dad in particular.  I assumed that it would plateau, and she would lose interest, but the opposite is happening. Every time she sees them, she seems to fall more in love with them, to the point where she melts down if they leave the room, or when she has to go home. And I am talking sobbing, tears, screaming, throwing herself at them/chasing them, the works.

All this, by the way, when I am standing right there...

Even at home, away from my parents, I am no longer top dog. That title now belongs to daddy. All I hear, allll day long, any time there is a little noise is 'Daddy?' with a hopeful face. When he is here, I am  not needed. She's him. She wants to's him. Meanwhile, muggins over here is called upon at milking times, and that's it. If I try to take her...she cries. When we are home alone, or out somewhere together with other people, she adores me. Clearly that's only because she has no other choice, because as soon as one of the others steps through the door, I'm out, they are in.

I spoke with some friends about it, and I was relieved to hear I am not the only mummy who is no longer required. Although it sounds quite funny, and it is of course very sweet that Isabelle loves her grandad, granny and daddy so much...........

It hurts.

It really hurts. To see her fall over, and try to comfort her, only to have it made clear she doesn't want my comfort. Or to have her cry when I lift her from someone else's arms. That hurts. It should be the other way around, surely? I should be the one giving the smug looks to other people when she doesn't want to go to them. I should be the one saying 'It's just a phase, she'll get over it', not hearing it instead.

Simon tells me it's because Iz takes me for granted - unlike the others I am always there with her, and that when I start work again it will be different. But that's not very much consolation now.

After 15 months of being a mummy's girl through and through, she's had enough of me. Her separation anxiety has reached it's peak. It's a pity it just has nothing to do with little old mummy over here....

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Wrangling a toddler when out...

Lately, when we have been out and about in busy places like shops, I've felt a lot like I'm herding cats, rather than trying to keep an toddler in order. I'm sure other parents have the same issue...I hope...

Isabelle isn't a fan of her pram. She will sit in there for maybe 15 minutes, then she has had enough. That is partly due to the fact that her pram is rarely used, I usually carry her on my back instead, but it's so hot at the minute that it's not always overly comfortable to do so.

So, for the first time in 6 months, Isabelle's pram came out with us last week when we went for a poke around a local indoor market. I also packed a sling, just in case of emergency.

We managed to get TO the market in the pram - then that was that. She didn't want to be in the sling either...she wanted to walk. More accurately, she wanted to push her own pram. So there I was, like a total idiot, letting this toddler 'push' her pram around at snail's pace, no clue where she was going, while  I kept her from crashing into people, and tried to keep us moving.

Needless to say, it didn't work, and after taking the ankles off an old lady, I had had enough. Simon carried her for the rest of the way, and she cried for some of that because she wanted down.

But when she's down, she is poking into everything, and either running the wrong direction, or standing stock still! It's no fun for anyone. And I know I should be a bit more laid back and think "Hey, kid, just amuse yourself!" but when she has grubby toddler fingers all over people's nice, handmade, things, or when we are blocking an entire aisle because she is refusing to move, I have to admit defeat!

Luckily, we don't go to shops much. We mostly spend time outside, or if we are indoors it's somewhere where she can happily have run of the place, so it isn't a huge issue.

Because wrangling a toddler when out is not easy. I can actually see why people use reins for their toddlers now - although that's not something that we will be doing as it isn't our cup of tea (despite Iz getting an adorable little rucksack which actually has a built in set of reins).

So, our pram is once again resigned to the garage after a failed outing (I blame the pram entirely), and even the slings aren't getting much of a look in at the minute, so for the foreseeable future, you may not see us out in the big wide world very much at all....

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Leaving baby overnight

As well as being one of those non-parents who said I'd never co-sleep (and having to eat my words) I was also one of those non-parents who couldn't understand why people wouldn't want to leave their little people over night. I always said "As soon as she is sleeping through the night, she'll be off for the night to granny and grandad".

And yet, at 15 months, I am yet to spend a night apart from my little girl, and I have no intention of doing so any time soon. So, pass me another slice of humble pie!

Let me be clear form the outset - my not leaving Isabelle over night has nothing to do with the care she would receive when she's away. I know without a doubt that every time she is with my parents, or any member of our family, she is looked after absolutely wonderfully, and I trust them all without question.

Nope, it's all about me instead! I have absolutely no desire to be apart from my little lady for a night, and what's more, the thought of it actually makes me feel panicky. I worry that she would wake during the night and when Simon or I weren't there to comfort her, she would become inconsolable. I worry that she would go hungry because if she wanted milk during the night, or in the morning when she woke up, she wouldn't be able to get it (and that would upset her). I worry that she would wake up, not know where she was, and be frightened (and that would upset her). I just worry that she would get upset, and I wouldn't be there to comfort her. I also worry that she would sense something was different, and have a really disturbed night of sleep, and that would be a total nightmare for my parents to deal with during the night.

I always thought that most people let their babies go and stay overnight with relatives quite often, and  assumed that was kind of the 'norm'. As it turns out though, among my friends, I am not alone. Most people I know have never been away from their baby over night - or if they have it has been only once or twice, not regularly. So, although some people might think I am crazy for not wanting to ship her away for the night (and sometimes I agree!), knowing how many others don't do it makes me feel that actually, it's entirely normal.

I know people at the other end of the scale as well - people who have let their baby stay elsewhere from just a few weeks old and, while I think that everyone should do what's right for their family, I genuinely don't understand how someone could bare to be away from such a tiny baby, or why they would want to be. Would I get a great night's sleep, and a lovely lie in away from her? Probably not, because I would be so worried the whole time, fretting about whether or not she would be OK.

There was the possibility that, just after her birthday, I would have had to stay away for the night after attending a wedding. When I first thought about it not long after she was born, I thought that would be OK. Thankfully, I didn't attend the wedding in the end, as there is no way I could have done it - I simply couldn't have bared to be away from her like that.

But, even more than that, I don't like to leave her in the evenings either. In 15 months, I have left her in the evenings fewer than 10 times - all but 2 of those were after she was already asleep. The other 2 times, Simon was in charge, and while I worried that she would need me, I knew that with him there she would be largely OK (as it turned out, one of the times she wouldn't settle at all, and I got so upset when I found out that I left and drove home at 90miles an hour, sobbing about what a terrible mother I was to leave her!)

There have only been 4 evenings that I have left her with anyone other than Simon (my parents and my sister), and all of them she was already asleep in bed. Again, I worry that she will wake up and be upset when she realises Simon and I aren't there. And the idea of someone other than Simon and I putting her to bed is just awful - even though my parents have no issues putting her down for naps during the day.

All that means that Simon and I don't go out in the evenings. We are pretty happy that way, though, and it's not something we wish we had. People sometimes say "You two need to get out and spend some time together" but we spend every evening together while she sleeps, and we don't think that going out to a restaurant is in any way more 'quality time' than that.

So, maybe I am an exceptionally clingy mother (I am). Or maybe, as I am coming to realise among my group of friends, I am actually just totally normal.

What age was your little when they first spent the night away from you?

Monday, 14 July 2014

Co-sleeping and us

Yes, I was one of those people who said smugly 'my baby will never sleep in my bed'. And yes, I am one of those people who was then forced to eat my words...

I have posted several times about sleep habits and sleep routines of my tiny person, and even once about an article on co-sleeping. At the end of that I said that while co-sleeping (meaning sharing a room) was fine with us, bed-sharing (sleeping in the same bed as little ones) wasn't for us. And, to a certain extent, that's still true. I don't believe that bed-sharing is the ideal sleep situation for us.

Yet, every morning, I wake up next to Isabelle, usually with her finger in my face as she says "Mummy, eyes! Mummy, nose! Daddy?"

So, if I don't think it's for us, how come she's always there (believe me, I ask myself this every night!) and what has our bed-sharing journey looked like over the last 15 months?

We've been lucky that Isabelle has always been a pretty good sleeper. Not perfect, by any means, but pretty good. There have been awful times - awful nights, and even awful weeks - but overall, she isn't too bad. But, she is very inconsistent. She doesn't follow the same pattern every night, and I find that inconsistency the most difficult thing to deal with. Some nights she will sleep soundly until 5am, other nights she'll have a whinge and a cry at 11pm, then at 2am...and on very bad nights I couldn't even tell you what's happened.

And that's how our 'serious' bed-sharing started - I had always brought her in for an hour or so in the morning, but never during the night. Then, during a sick spell at around 6/7 months there were some horrific nights, when I was up and down, up and down every hour or so. She was snuffly and miserable, and was waking herself up, and everyone was exhausted. It got to the point when we said 'Let's just bring her in to bed and she'll go to sleep', and she did. And it made my life easier as I could stay in bed, warm and cosy, and get a little more sleep.

From there, we have continued. Every morning, when she wakes anytime from around 4.30am onwards,  instead of going to her and putting her back to sleep in her own room I nab her in to bed, and we snooze until Simon goes to work. On a bad night, I may make the executive decision to bring her in much earlier than that (sometimes as early as midnight) . When she is sick, or quite often when we are away, she spends almost all night in bed with me, and Simon sometimes sleeps in the spare room. I have even been known to lift her from her bed in to ours while I was still asleep and sleep-walking!

Let's call a spade a spade here - I am lazy and so bringing her to bed is the easy option for me in the early hours of the morning, or during a bad night. The overall idea of bringing her in to bed is that I get more sleep than having to go in to her several times on a bad night.  But the reality is much different. When she comes into bed, Isabelle wants one thing only: BOOB. She just wants to cuddle up next to me, and feed non-stop. Or, more accurately, comfort suck non-stop. When she unlatches, she may roll over and sleep for a while, but it isn't long until, in her sleep, she is turning back to me and looking for more comfort. So she stays asleep...but wakes me up. And because I am RIGHT THERE, she looks for it much more often than she would if she were in her own bed - maybe every 45 minutes to an hour. Yes, I only just stir to pull her back to me to pop the boob back in, but it's still disturbed sleep.

Which all amounts to me NOT getting the sleep I thought I would when I pulled her in to bed, and also ending up pretty darn uncomfortable. If you have ever breastfed lying down, for a sustained period of time (like 4 hours), you will know the numb arm/numb hip feeling well. For those who have never experienced it - it is not comfy. So I spend much of the night trying to regain feeling in my body parts. Then, she spreads out - on my side. So I spend some of the night dodging little limbs. All of this with her attached to my boob. If she simply came to bed and slept beside me as many babies do, I would happily have her there much more, but mostly, that isn't the case.

It's not ideal, and I simply could not bed-share full time - that isn't for us at all. But it has our place in our home, and our bed, each night. It means that I get a little longer in bed in the morning, and that if we are having a terrible night, at least I'm not pacing her bedroom in the cold, but warmly tucked up in bed.

And, just last week, she cuddled up to me so tightly, that I lay sleepily thinking how amazing it was to have my little baby next to me, and how wonderful she is, and how lucky I am to have her.

Then, she woke me up by yelling "BAA!"....

Do you bed share? How do you find it, especially with older babies?

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Isabelle at 15 months

Isabelle has now reached the grand old age of 15 months. Her birthday seems like forever ago, and she has changed so much in the last few weeks that sometimes I just look at her and can't believe she is my baby girl. She seems so grown up now in some ways - she understands so much (and much more than I think we know!) and she has such a fun loving, sweet little personality. I often sit in the playroom and read the chalkboard I made her for her birthday, which told us all about her at 1 (find it here), and I think about just how much she has changed, and how strange it is that just 90 days ago she couldn't do all the amazing stuff she can now.

The biggest change lately has been her speech. I am pretty hard to please when it comes to little people and words - I don't think a kid at 9 months saying 'dada' is truly talking about their dad - I think it's just a noise. And I don't think it counts as a word if they are saying only part of it, or if other people really struggle to understand them - I'm hard to please, as I said. I only count it as a word when it is said clearly, and in the correct context (continually). So, I was pleased when at 13.5 months, Isabelle started spouting little words here and there, and her vocabulary is increasing very rapidly. She makes a big effort to copy everything we say, but usually only gets part of the word. This is not a huge list of words, but they are so clear, and she always uses them in the right context, so I am very happy! Her current words are...

Apple (her absolute favourite food)
No (said in an accent she must have learnt from my granny)

She also has a pretty impressive range of animal sounds! Cat, dog, cow, horse, monkey, lion, elephant (complete with a trunk), crocodile (snap snap!), sheep, pig, duck, fish (mouth opens and closes!), snake, bee! She does car, airplane, and racing car as well. She's like a little juke box at the minute!

Her favourite toys at the minute are things she can stack - and she will try to stack anything. She also adores Connect 4 (she loves the counters) and her little pop up wooden toy which I bought with some of her birthday money. 

She is now up to 9 teeth - pretty impressive considering 3 months ago she only had 4! 

As I mentioned in a post last week, her sleeping habits have changed a lot too during the day, and she now has a great big nap every morning, which is a new adventure for us after 14 months of 30minute naps!

The range of things she can do if I ask her is amazing as well - she seems to understand everything. It's pretty scary actually!

Physically, she is getting taller, slimming down...and going blonde! When she was born her hair was almost jet black - much darker than mine. Now, it's such a light brown, with streaks of blonde running through it. Hopefully she'll start to darken up again soon! 

So, overall, she is doing wonderfully, and progressing at a rate of knots! I can't keep up with her at all, and can usually be fund slumped in a chair with a cup of tea, while she tears round talking into the phone, or playing Connect 4! She's a little treasure!

Monday, 7 July 2014

Life is peachy at the beachy!

We touched down in England yesterday to spend 10 days with Simon's family at their house in Norfolk. They don't live at the coast, but it's less than a 20 minute drive, and I have always seen them as a very 'beachy' family. We don't have very many nice beaches close to us in Northern Ireland (although the are plenty), and therefore we don't spend a whole lot of time at the beach, so I am looking forward to spending some time at the coast during our stay here.

While Simon's dad was at work today, his mum, Simon, Isabelle and I headed to the beach in the sunny weather. Izzy is still recovering from her travels and, combined with the heat, wasn't in the best mood of her life, but she still had some fun, especially with the shells she picked up with Granny. We built sandcastles, dug holes, had a picnic, has a snooze, and dug our toes into the sand.

While Iz, granny and Simon all went down to the water, I lay, eyes shut, and enjoyed the silence - the only sound I could hear were the waves, and it was just amazing. It's a beautiful beach, which seems to stretch for miles, and we had a great few hours down there. A few pictures, taken on my new camera - a present from Simon for my birthday last week.

Oh, and if you're wondering about "life is peachy at the beachy"....Camp 4H instilled that phrase in to me for every beach trip I will ever take again! 

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Vita Coco Drinks Review

Summer is here, and that means little ones playing outside in the heat, and needing lots to keep them hydrated and in tip top condition to play another day. It can be hard to convince them to drink water, and while juice and fizzy drinks are OK once in a while, they aren't ideal every single day, so it isn't always easy to find a healthy alternative to give them.

Recently, Vita Coco were kind enough to send me a few samples of their brand new range of kids drinks. The big difference between Vita Coco and normal juice box drinks is that Vita Coco is all natural, and all healthy! It's made with the pretty unusual ingredient of coconut water, and flavoured with nothing else but natural fruit juices. No sugar, no additives - nothing nasty goes in to them at all, making them the perfect refreshment for your little people during the hot days, to keep them hydrated and happy.

We tested out the Mango and Pineapple flavour, and the Apple and Blackcurrant flavour. The little juice pack is a great shape and size for popping in a lunch box, or to take on a picnic, and the packaging is lovely and bright.

We grabbed one of each as we were heading out in the car, and tested them on the way to Jacob's 3rd birthday party. I am not a huge fan of any apple and blackcurrant flavoured drinks, so I left that one to Simon who said it was pretty tasty, and finished it in the 15 minute journey. The mango and pineapple was for me then, and for something which is flavoured just with natural ingredients, the flavours really came through strongly! The mango and pineapple were the strong taste, and then the coconut water left a sweet little aftertaste. It was really refreshing and thirst quenching, and would be a perfect addition to any fridge this summer.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

While baby sleeps I....

Isabelle has always been a very consistent napper: 3 naps a day of almost exactly 30 minutes. At least one of those was always in the car, and one while we are out, so it hasn't left me with a whole lot of free time at home. Usually, it's just the morning nap, and that's when I shower and get dressed - but the time I am done, she is up again!

Recently, I felt she was ready to come down from three naps to just two, a morning and mid-afternoon nap. While all my friends with babies the same age are reducing to 1 nap, I was quite happy to get down to two, as Iz has always needed short, frequent bursts throughout the day. I had thought maybe she would increase the length of her naps....I was incorrect! She would maybe push it to 40minutes, but that was it.

For the last week, however, she has completely thrown all that out the window, and been having mammoth (for her!) naps. The record stands at 1hour 50minutes, and each morning nap has been at least 1hour long! I have two friends whose toddlers so for 3 hours a day, and have always been so jealous of people with so much "baby free" time at home during the day. I have often said "if Isabelle napped that long my house would be spotless!"

So....what exactly am I doing with my now huge amounts of free time? Is the house, in fact, spotless?

Is it heck.

I do what I imagine most other people do.....squander my time aimlessly surfing Facebook!

Partly, that is because I refuse to believe that she is going to keep up these long naps. I am convinced that the day I start into a task, she will wake up after 30 minutes, and it will have to be abandoned. And, partly, it's because I really enjoy sitting down with a cup of tea and having some time to just SIT.

This new mammoth napping schedule has played total havoc with our baby class attendance, meaning we've missed them all...apart from our breastfeeding group, where we turned up fashionably late (40mins).

But, if these naps are here to stay, I think I really need to be a little more productive during them. Ok, so I can't walk the dogs, and I don't want to Hoover (just in case I wake her early- perish the thought!), but there are a million little things I COULD be doing. Like cleaning the windows, or the skirting boards, or emptying that cupboard I constantly look in and say "must clear this out".

So, fingers crossed the long naps remain, and fingers crossed even more tightly that I stop being so lazy while they happen!

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