Domestic Quest – Little Man’s very own alphabet!

We have been working on setting up Little Man with his very own play area, the downstairs of our house isn’t very crawling baby safe or free flowing so we have had to section off the front room, but I wanted somewhere safe to pop LM while I hoover or cook, somewhere where he can play without me worrying about what he is up to. I will be posting more on this soon as we are nearly done. But one idea I had was that I wanted to block off the bottom of the radiator, when LM first started crawling he’d roll near it and almost hit his head on the underside, we had some MDF left over from his tree, so Hubs quickly cut it down to size and I hatched a plan to make LM his very own alphabet full of geekery. Much of the credit for how this turned out goes to Hubs, without his drawing skills, this would have just been a great idea very poorly executed!

First we decided on what each letter would stand for, then I painted the wood with a few coats of primer and some white silk paint, and then I got designing LM’s letters on Photoshop, using free fonts from DaFont to create letters that were similar in style to their theme.

We then printed the images onto paper and cut them out. Hubs then traced around the letters and freehand copied the detail, sometimes with incredible attention to detail!

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We then began to paint each letter with acrylic paint:

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When each letter was completed we outlined the detail with permanent marker.

2014-04-14 19.35.07We still need to seal the finished alphabet with some acrylic paint sealant to keep it wipe able to stop little hands getting it grubby, but we are so happy with how it has turned out, and LM loves it.

My favourites are P, F and Y!

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Little Man’s Alphabet:

A is for Avengers

B is for Batman

C is for Cat in the Hat

D is for Disney

E is for Elephant

F is for Fish (One, Two, Red & Blue!)

G is for Gruffalo

H is for Harry Potter

I is for Isaac

J is for Jedi

K is for King

L is for Love

M is for Mickey Mouse

N is for Nemo

O is for Octopus

P is for Pooh Bear

Q is for Queen

R is for Rainbow

S is for Superman

T is for Tiger

U is for Umbrella (Yellow of course *HIMYM*)

V is for Very Hungry Caterpillar

W is for Where the Wild Things Are

X is for X-Men

Y is for Yoda

Z is for Zebra

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Domestic Quest – Immunity Boosting Vegetable Muffins

Little Man has come down with his very first proper miserable cold, he’s had the sniffles before but not like this, he’s sleeping lots but understandably groggy and upset when he’s awake, so I wanted to make him some food to help bump his immune system so he can get back to playing and being his usual cheeky self soon.

I used a recipe from the amazing free PDF I have mentioned pinning in previous posts as a starting point and adapted it to include lots of Iron and Vitamin C containing veggies.

We are still keeping clear of eggs as we’ve not had a chance to see if he reacts again on a day when Hubs is home in case he does have a reaction, I’ve had mixed results with using flax seed as a substitute so today I decided to try using one of the Ella’s Kitchen purée pouches I have lying around. I’ve seen many recipes citing applesauce as an egg substitute so thought I’d give this a go.

Cheesy Super Vegetable Muffins Makes 12 Muffins

3-4 Broccoli Florets
4 handfuls of Baby Spinach
6 Cherry Tomatoes (deseeded and chopped)
225g Self Raising Flour
100g Grated Mild Cheddar
175ml Whole Milk
55ml Olive Oil
1/2 Pouch of Ella’s Kitchen Spinach, Apple & Swede Purée (or 1 egg or applesauce)

Method
First preheat your oven to 200•c/180•c Fan, then:
1. Steam Broccoli and wilt spinach, then chop.
2. Mix chopped vegetables with flour and cheese.
3. Add in milk, oil and purée (or egg) and mix well until you have a lumpy thickish batter, adding a splash more milk and purée if you feel the mixture is too thick.
4. Separate into a lightly greased muffin tin and bake for 20-25mins.

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The result is a lovely light and fluffy muffin packed full of goodness, the puree seemed to help it all hold together well. I think next time I will add in some spices and perhaps leave out the broccoli, add some courgette and use feta cheese, the recipe I started with really is a great base muffin recipe to experiment with.

20140501-182125.jpgThey went down very well and will make a great on the go option. Here’s hoping the veggies give my little man the energy boost he needs!

 

Domestic Quest – BLW Cheesy Veggie Nuggets & Frozen Bananas

I’m on a roll! Cooked for Little Man again whilst he had his afternoon nap and this time it was appreciated much more than Thursdays Chickpea Patties.

On the menu tonight were Veggie Nuggets and Frozen Bananas for pudding. As mentioned before we are avoiding egg after a potential reaction a few weeks ago so I was happy to come across this egg free finger food recipe. This recipe is adapted from one in this incredible PDF which is available for free online, it is full of 100 recipes perfect for BLW. I adapted it slightly to include more veg, adding parsnip (little mans new fave) and carrot.

CHEESY VEGETABLE NUGGETS

4oz Fresh Brocolli

1 Parsnip Grated

1 carrot grated

6oz Cheddar Grated

4oz Dry Breadcrumbs (I used Panko as I had some left in the cupboard)

2 1/2 tbsp Water

2 1/2 tbsp olive oil

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

METHOD

1 – Preheat the oven to 190 deg C – 170 deg C (fan) – 375 deg F

2 – Steam Broccoli until cooked (about 5-7mins). Chop well.

3 – Combine Broccoli along with other ingredients and mix.

4 – Form into nugget or sausage shape (whatever your little one can hold easiest) and place onto greaseproof paper on a baking tray.

5 – Bake for 20-25 mins. Serve Warm.

2014-04-05 20.19.06They came out really well and held their shape in LM’s hand. The sweetness of the parsnip was a really nice compliment to the Broccoli and Cheese, I think these will also be great for lunchboxes and picnics cold.

2014-04-05 20.19.36I served LM’s with some Cous Cous, and after his negative reaction to stronger flavours the other day, I mixed it with some greek yoghurt and cumin to try and get him used to stronger flavours, he loved the nuggets, but did not like the Cous Cous, must have been a new texture as I gave him some minus the dressing and he reacted the same way! I think next time I will try serving them with a tomato based dip and some chicken. In my bad mummy move of the day I had used all of the veg cooking so there was none to accompany his dinner, but he’d had fruit for breakfast, veg with his lunch, and he had fruit for dessert! Speaking of dessert….

2014-04-05 20.20.24He has bananas so much that I wanted to mix things up for him a little, and in the aforementioned PDF there is a very straight forward recipe for Frozen Bananas, cover fingers of Banana in Natural Yoghurt (can you tell I had some Yoghurt to shift!?) and then roll them in Wheatgerm, whack them in the freezer and a little while later you have some healthy Bluth Bananas fit for your little one. He loved them and devoured four bits, his reaction to the coldness was priceless but he really enjoyed them.

 

Little Man’s BLW Journey…so far!

Little Man has been eating for over 2 months now and he loves, I mean LOVES food!

Our start to the weaning process was a bumpy one, it is probably the thing I have procrastinated over the most so far. I was torn between weaning the traditional and baby led way. I stopped breastfeeding early on as it just did not work for us, I was edging closer to PND and the fact that I was over the moon in love with LM and everything about him except the feeding is what made me stop. I was dreading each feed, just the thought of him latching on made me cry, this isn’t how I wanted to be spending that precious time with my new baby, so I started combination feeding and pumped as much as possible in between, I managed to pump for 6 weeks until I was hit with mastitis and after months of post partum issues, it was the last straw, it was my umptenth round of antibiotics and unbelievably painful, so I started weaning off and about two weeks later finished. Although I know this was absolutely the right decision for me and LM, I still feel like I failed and struggle with the decision I made, weaning was the next big feeding decision and I didn’t want to make the wrong choice again (even though as I said, I do know it was the right thing to do for us….honestly us mothers don’t make it easy for ourselves do we!?)

Just before his half birthday I decided to try a bit of both and let LM lead the way in his preferences, my main worry was that if baby led he would be unwilling to take a spoon should the situation call for it, it is also such a natural progression from breastfeeding and as such much of the advice is tailored to mums who are still breastfeeding (these women have nothing but my respect, and teeny tiny bit of my envy). But LM loves to feed himself, so although I occasionally feed him porridge or mash he usually grabs the spoon and does it himself, so we are officially doing self feeding, if not full fledged BLW, and I love it, I thought that eating out of the house was going to be difficult and squeezing some puree out of a pouch would be quicker and easier, but its so much easier to hand him a bit of what I’m having, if its not laden with salt, sugar and fat, or grab a few veggie and bread sticks out of my bag. I think just like with feeding and parenting in general, what works for you is best for you. Traditional weaning works for some people, a mixture works for some people, I’m definitely not adverse to feeding him if the situation calls for it, and full on by the book BLW works for others.

One of his many Banana eating approaches!

So far LMs diet has consisted mainly of Fruit, Veg and things like toast and corn/rice cakes with cream cheese or mashed banana and avocado, but now he is really starting to consume things we are taking it up a notch, and starting to give him meals and as of this week will start tailoring our meals to be able to include him, so we are all eating the same thing.

Enjoying his Fish Cakes

In the first two months of BLW, LM has had:

Broccoli
Banana
Avocado (on its own and mashed on corn/rice cakes and tortillas)
Pear
Mango
Melon
Carrots
Sweet Potato
Potato
Spinach
Cucumber
Celery
Breadsticks
Tortillas
Toast
Bagel
Some of his Uncles Chicken Sandwich
Corn/Rice Cakes
Cream Cheese
Cottage Cheese
Roast Lamb
Chicken
Beef Meatballs
Pasta
Omelette
Eggless French Toast
Pancakes
Fish Cakes
Mackerel

Mango…..done!
Look!!! Cucumber!!

His absolute faves are Mango – he just strips it from the skin, Cucumber – we now cut the skin of after a scary choking incident, Sweet Potato – roasted, mashed, mixed with fish, he loves it, and Pasta – he has a little suck and then the whole thing disappears!

I am looking forward to giving him some different combinations and new flavours as his journey continues and might throw in some smaller things this week so he can practice his ever emerging pincer skills!

So how are you weaning your little one, and do you feel pressure to choose correctly or haunted by any past decisions? What are your little ones favourite foods?

My Quest to become a Domesticated Mum!

The first word that people would use to describe me would definitely not be Domestic….creative maybe, lazy possibly, determined and prone to obsessing…definitely! So this is my quest…I am determined to become a better mother to my 7 month old little man and a better wife for my long suffering husband, using my current skills and trying to develop some more domesticated ones along the way.

I’ll be updating this blog mainly as a way to keep myself motivated, but also want to have some fun and discuss things that make us feel like we are doing a great job for our kids and also sometimes the things we wish we could be better at or even just little silly things that make you feel like you’ve had a rubbish day.

I think the bulk of my posts will be about the new food I’ve tried with LM, or the new sensory play that we have enjoyed and some of the more creative things that I do for my family, as even though these aren’t traditionally classed as motherly or parental duties, I think that creativity is so important and want LM to be super creative and imaginative growing up, plus it is the thing I enjoy most in the world and as a result I bring an enthusiasm to it that I just can’t apply to domesticity.

But nonetheless I am going to try hard to step out of my comfort zone both as a mother and a wife at least once a week, but hope for it to be more, some of the things may seem small, but so far each action has made me feel much better about my place in the parenting world, and after all that is what is important.

The quest I am setting myself is:

– To make at least two new meals a week and enjoy them with LM and Hubs. This is probably the biggest challenge for me as I really don’t enjoy cooking, baking I love, but cooking just stresses me out, I time things all wrong and get flustered, plus Hubs loves cooking so much that over time it has meant that he does most of the cooking in the house.

– To undertake play, particularly sensory play with LM every day and try at least one new activity a week. As an avid pinterester, I have pinned way more activities than I have tried, but now that Monkey is able to sit up so well I am eager to get stuck in.

– To acknowledge the things that I do that make me feel like I might actually be pulling this whole Mum thing off, rather than fixating on the things I feel I’ve done wrong, or on my negatives.

– To help any other mums out there who feel like what they are doing might not be enough, even though it is more than likely more than your little one could ever need or imagine, we are all doing things differently but we all need to stick together and support one another through the highs and lows of being a parent.

I’m also going to blog about things that make our lives easier as parents and I’m sure there will be a sprinkling of geekery along the way!

Right lets get cracking!

Bubs Neighbor Totoro – Grannies Totoro Jumper

Have been meaning to share a picture of the jumper that my incredible Granny knitted Little Man for Christmas.

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She proudly told me that she didn’t even use a pattern, when she visited us she snuck into LM’s nursery, took a picture of the Totoro decal on the wall and used that as a guide. LM is still a little too small for it but we can’t wait for him to be able to wear it.

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My Top 5 Natural Baby Products

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My little man suffers with a mild case of Eczema, he gets a few red patches on his legs and belly, but the rest of the time his skin can get quite dry all over. One of my biggest regrets so far was not being more careful what I put on his skin from day one, but once I realised that most of the big brand names would aggravate even adult skin I immediately started looking for natural products to use on my precious little monkey.

1. Coconut Oil – I’m well and truly obsessed with Coconut Oil, it’s so good for you and your baby. We use it all around the house now, from using it on LM’s skin, to help banish my post pregnancy stretch marks and even to roast vegetables for LM’s lunch. It’s great on babies bums for bouts of nappy rash, I have mixed a few drops of lavender oil into a jar of coconut oil for his nightly massage and I’ve even rubbed coconut oil onto his gums whilst he’s teething. The best coconut oil to buy is unrefined, raw, virgin and organic.

2. Burt’s Bees Shampoo and Baby Wash – I received a Baby Bee gift set at my baby shower and instantly fell in love with the amazingly scented products. At present I just use the Shampoo and Baby Wash as a little goes a long way and it is better value than the Baby Bath in that respect. I love nothing more than snuggling my little man up in a towel and sniffing his hair after its been washed with this.

3. Weleda Calendula Baby Lotion – Until I discovered this product I was using prescription Doublebase cream on LM when he had a bad flare up of his eczema, and although it worked wonders I was reluctant to keep applying liquid paraffin onto his skin. This lotion is 100% natural and smells lovely and it works to moisturise his stubborn dry areas just as well as the prescription cream.

Calendula Body Lotion 200ml

4. Weleda Calendula Baby Bath Cream – I like putting something in LM’s bath but it became apparent that although some of the gentler bath products that were great at soothing him before bed, they also aggravated his dry skin. We tried using nothing for a while but I wanted to find a natural alternative that would also soothe him after an excitable day. This bath cream fits the bill, it feels quite oily so I know that it is moisturising him rather than drying him out. It sits on top of the water slightly, and turns the water cloudy rather than bubbles. The Calendula soothes his skin and the scent and other natural ingredients help to calm him down after exciting pre-bedtime jumperooing.

5. Waitrose Bottom Butter – This stuff smells incredible!!! And its really versatile, great for soothing and protecting from nappy rash. I’ve also used it on his dry knees and ankles and it softens them up a treat. Also many women seem to have found that it works wonders when used as a face cream, plus for under £3 its a bargain.

Which natural products do you use on your little ones? Are there any remedies that you swear by for eczema or sensitive skin?

To Spoonfeed or Not to Spoonfeed?!?

Little Man is now nearly 6 months old! It’s going terrifyingly quickly but I’m learning quickly… as soon as you’ve got one thing figured out something else comes along! For us this is now the minefield of weaning.

After a lot of procrastination and stressing we have finally decided to do a combination of the two main methods, baby led and traditional weaning, mainly as it is going to fit into our lives easier that way, my husband works shifts and we can’t always guarantee we could eat together, we don’t always cook fresh each night and sometimes (between me and you) I’m just plain lazy if I’m on my own.

At the moment the plan is to spoon feed little man his breakfast which at the moment is mashed banana but as of next week will be porridge and then let him feed himself for lunch and dinner with occasional mashed veg if we are in a rush or at a friends house where the mess and time elements of BLW are more of an issue. I know this goes against how a lot of people do BLW but to be honest it’s going to work for us and although it’s taken me a while to accept mixing both, as long as it works for us, that is all that matters. Also I think it’s important to remember that spoon feeding and force feeding are two different things, once little man lets me know he has had enough, I stop.

I’ve struggled a lot making decisions about weaning and I’ve realised that a lot of my struggles with making a decision comes down to feelings I still have about deciding to bottle feed little man, it’s the next big decision that directly effects his health and well being and deep down I still have the guilt that many bottle feeding mamas feel about not being able to feed their baby, even though I know stopping was the right decision for us and helped me keep my sanity, so I have been over thinking it and worrying about making the wrong decision again. I also find it hasn’t helped that a lot of opinions are quite polarised so it is difficult to find advice on combining methods in a way that works for you as an individual family, it also seems BLW is a natural step on from breastfeeding, and as such much of the advice is based around a breastfeeding baby. Because of this I found the incredibly useful book Weaning Made Easy by Rana Conway, it is a non biased look at both approaches, pros and cons of each and also a guide to combining the two in a way that suits you, and although much of it is common sense I found that it made me feel less crazy for obsessing and struggling so much with the decision to combine self feeding and baby led.

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So far he seems to be enjoying both methods, he is definitely hungry so I’m glad I’m feeding him one meal so I know he’s actually getting something (I know he doesn’t need a lot but he definitely wants something), but I’m enjoying watching him discover food during lunch and dinner. We started him slightly early as he’s been sat up on his own for a few weeks and he seemed ready, so, so far he’s only had veg & fruit – banana (mashed and split in half), avocado, steamed carrots and roasted and mashed sweet potato, I think the carrots have been his favourite as they hold their shape long enough for him to have a good gum. Although I haven’t yet made a puree, I did spoon feed him some mashed sweet potato tonight, whilst also letting him go crazy with his hands on a ball of it, I think i will mash rather than puree when I do use this method so that he still has to chew the lumps and won’t just get used to swallowing, but I do plan on making some fruit purees to mix in with his porridge and eventually, yoghurt.

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I am looking forward to him turning 6 months next week and being able to branch out to meals other than veg & fruit. Stay tuned as I hope to share some of our favourite food discoveries.

Please share any favourite recipes or tips and feel free to discuss any struggles you’ve had deciding on the best way to wean your little one.

My newest obsession…..

Isaac feet

Isaac arrived on the 13th August and the last 3 weeks have been a whirlwind of getting to know him and getting to grips with this whole parenting/baby care thing. The one thing that has become clear is that nothing will ever go according to plan again, and as someone highly reliant on plans it has been a bit of a shock.

From the outset plans fell by the wayside, even 12 hours into labor when at only 2cm dilated I decided to have an epidural, which was way down on my birth plan preferences, or when 22 hours into labor and after pushing for 2 hours I let the doctor use forceps to make sure Isaac could come into the world a little quicker, even though I’d been quite adamant that no forceps or ventouse should come anywhere near me. Throughout my pregnancy I’d been quite relaxed about labor, I planned an active birth in my hospitals birth center and was looking forward to using all of the birth balls and pools and using minimal pain relief, but had been worried that when the time came I wouldn’t be able to manage my expectations should an emergency situation arise or should my pain threshold be much lower than I thought (on this point I wasn’t wrong to worry!) and I’m happy to say that although my labor was far from the one I’d hoped for, including having to mentally accept the need for a c-section during a eventually unnecessary rush to theater, when they lost Isaacs trace for 6 minutes, I don’t beat myself up for taking the epidural and for not being able to push him all the way out myself, it’s what needed to happen in order for his safe arrival and at the end of the day, that was all that mattered.

Next time one of my friends is expecting, the one piece of advice I would give them is not to fret too much about their birth plan as baby might have other ideas, and for them to certainly not beat themselves up about not being able to deliver exactly as they would like, what advice would you give to expectant mums based on your birth experience?

Bubs My Neighbor Totoro Nursery

As mentioned in a previous post, it was decided very early on that regardless of bubs gender we wanted a My Neighbor Totoro themed nursery, its one of my favourite animated movies and I loved the idea of filling the room with Totoros, toadstools and other woodland wonders.

As we rent our house (and lack artistic ability) a full wall style murial like this amazing Ghibli themed room was out of the question

We decided to use something more like this as our inspiration, using wall decals that we can easily take with us should we move.

Even though we rent, I wanted the room to be colourful so we have painted it with Dulux Melon Sorbet, originally I wanted a pale sagey green for the walls and this is slightly brighter but I love it now as its much brighter for my little one and feels like more of a childs room.

After a lot of hard work and a few lengthy projects the outcome was this:

We brought the large colour Totoro wall decal on Etsy, I made the patchwork blanket using Totoro fabric found on Spoonflower, my Gran helped to make Bub’s one of a kind Totoro Amigurumi mobile, and we painted Ikea Spice Racks with satin paint to create forward facing bookshelves.

We made the Tree shelving ourselves.

We also made the shelving unit above the changer, and we printed soot sprites on to vinyl decal paper ourselves and stuck them up in the corner of the room.

We are so happy with the outcome, its perhaps not as Totoro heavy as I’d have liked but living in the UK options are limited without paying large shipping costs from Japan, but hopefully over time we can add a few more bits and bobs that come up on Ebay or Etsy.

All the room needs now is for its new resident to make his appearance, hurry up Bub, we are so ready to meet you!!!

You can see all of my posts about creating Bub’s Totoro Nursery here!