Thursday, 28 February 2013

Not Taking Love For Granted

I love my family, and I love being a mother more than I could have ever imagined. It's times like this when Mr B is away (which is sadly just one of the aspects of his job) that I really take stock and think about how much I appreciate everything that I have.

When I was younger I never pictured myself as a mother. Always at the back of my mind I thought 'perhaps one day', but I never had a clear idea of when that might be. When I held my daughter for the first time, it was in fact the first time I'd ever held a baby. Some mothers say that when they see their newborn it's love at first sight, others say it takes a little longer - for me it was somewhere in between. I loved her straight away, but then I continued to love her more and more each day as her beautiful little personality developed.

I was adopted at birth - I'd be lying if I said that this hasn't changed my ideas about the kind of mother I wanted to be. I was extremely lucky, I grew up with a wonderful mother, father and brother. I also met the woman that gave birth to me, to be honest it wasn't a terribly positive experience - however it taught me just how valuable family, love and securely bonded relationships are. I'd also be lying if I said that the night after I gave birth to my daughter, whilst lying in my hospital bed and looking on in wonder at my beautiful child sleeping imagining taking her home - I didn't think about the fact that after my own birth I was left in the hospital by myself. I'd never let this define me, it has just made me really determined to be the best mother I can be and I have all the inspiration I need from my own mom - a truly wonderful woman.

I'm also thankful every day to have Mr B in my life. He came along at a time when I least expected it, I really wasn't looking to meet anybody - but he stole my heart. I'm really honored and excited that in just 4 short weeks I'll be his wife. We already have our wonderful daughter together, but this will just complete things. I have to say I was never the kind of little girl who dreamed of my wedding day or a big white dress - instead I choose to dream about finding somebody who would love me and accept me for being nothing but completely and utterly me. I never really thought it was possible until he came along.

I think it's so important to be thankful for the things you have. I am in no way religious, but when I was a little girl my mum marked out this passage in a bible I was given for my christening. I think it sums things up beautifully.

"If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love" - Corinthians 13

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

First Shoes

Yesterday I brought Small her first pair of 'real' shoes. She's had the soft 'bootie' kind, but these are the first real pair that are designed to be walked in. We're a big fan of Vans in this house - Mr B and myself both have pairs, so what could be more fitting than a cute diddy pair of size 3.5 red toddler shoes.

I can't help but feel like this is a pretty momentous moment in my daughter growing up. After all it marks the fact that very soon she'll be walking - and then she really will be growing up!

The last 9 months that she has been with us have gone so fast, but quite slowly all at the same time. It only seems like yesterday that I held her in my arms for the first time - yet it seems such a long time ago that I got to sleep through the night, have a lie in at the weekend or leave the house with a huge bag of nappies. In just a few short months she'll be 1. A whole year.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Suavinex 'Bentoo' & Cutlery Set Review

This is one of those products that didn't cost very much, but has been invaluable on days out or trips. Although I couldn't find them on the Boots website, I brought these at my local branch and both the bentoo and cutlery set came to under £10.

Here's Small using the lid as a plate on a recent trip to Wholefoods Market -

The 'Bentoo' is basically two compartments that screw together and have an extra rubber band for security. The bottom section can hold 'wet' foods like puree and the top section is for dry food - I use this for finger foods like toast fingers, baby rice cakes or biscuits. My favorite thing about it (aside from that fact that all the bits are dishwasher safe) is that when it unscrews you have shallow bowls you can feed from, then screw back up to avoid any mess in your bag.

The cutlery set is called the 'On The Go Set' on their website. When I first saw this in the shop I was a little confused by it. I could see that it came with a spoon, and spoon case - but what was that other thing? It's actually pretty clever once you understand it.

It's actually for creating 'in a pinch' bibs! You use a napkin from a restaurant or cafe and feed it's corners through the 'holder' around the child's neck - and you have a bib! It's not as good as using an actual bib, or a disposable like these Nature Babycare ones (which are fantastic to keep in your changing bag btw) - but if you've forgotten them or have an older toddler it'd be ideal.

Note: All products in this post were purchased by myself for genuine use and isn't associated with any company in any way.

Monday, 18 February 2013

A Little bit of Cute

Small and I have had a lovely day. Nothing that exceptional - but the sun was out, it wasn't freezing and we got to have an afternoon out.

Unfortunately I didn't get to take many photos as I was enjoying the moment too much - but it involved a lovely walk in the grounds of a local National Trust house, shire horses (Small just found them SO funny) and a nice relaxing coffee.

Hopefully as the weather now starts to get better we'll have lots more lovely days out, and Mr B might get to tag along too!

What's in a year?

Yesterday marked a year since I left hospital after having a P.E. I was about 25 weeks pregnant and I'll be the first to admit - I was pretty scared. I was given so little information on what I could expect recovery to be like - and I was having to inject medication several times a day, which at the beginning was pretty scary too.

I gave birth to my beautiful daughter in May 2012 and finished my medications in August of the same year. I go for check ups every couple of months of which I've only one more to go in May before they'll consider me 'free to go'.

Am I still scared? YES. I am always aware and conscious of how I sit, what I do with my legs etc and on our honeymoon trip in a few months time I'll need to take blood thinning medication to enable me to fly safely. I consider myself VERY lucky and I'm thankful every single day for my wonderful daughter.

Things I'm Thankful For....

My wonderful daughter

Fabulous family

Mr B

A beautiful friend in wifey K

Friday, 15 February 2013

Born free Glass Baby Bottles

Since Small's birth we've tried out a few different kinds of baby bottles - Tommee Tippee 'Closer to Nature' which we hated, Mam Anti Colic which were great in her first few months and Mam regular feeding bottles which I've used up until now. I mean Mam is really great, but like any plastic baby bottles after a few months of frequent cleaning in the dishwasher they go a bit gross. When it comes to my baby's feeding equipment I wouldn't take any chances.

Due to this, I've replaced our Mam bottles several times as well as the teats (they recommend you replace teats every 6 to 8 weeks) and this was all getting a bit expensive so this time around I had a good look into my options.

I'd seen this brand before online, and even though they are on the Mothercare website - I'd never seen them in person so wasn't sure what to make of them. After spotting them in the baby aisle of Wholefoods Market I picked up a pack of 3 to give them a go. Glass bottles are supposed to be more durable and clean better in the dishwasher than plastic. The bottle collars and teats are obviously still plastic/ silicone but I've never had a problem with those parts - it's been the actual bottle. All Born Free products are BPA free and Small's favorite teether is their butterfly one.

After a couple of days use I have to say I love them. They came out of the dishwasher sparkly and clean and even though they have a different teat than she's used to Small's taken to them really well. They do have more parts than the regular Mam bottles as they have an 'active flow' system, but I just use this Oxo Tots dishwasher basket.

My only gripe with them is that in a pack of 3 you only get one silicone sleeve. These sleeves are great - they are dishwasher/ fridge/ microwave safe so in theory could just always stay on the bottle, but with only one per every three bottle you have to swap it about. You seem to be able to buy an old version of it on sites like ebay, but the company themselves don't seem to sell spare ones anymore.

I also picked up this formula dispenser.

The ones I already own were great whilst she was smaller and required less scoops per bottle, but now that she needs 7 or 8 per serving I can only barely fit that much in per section. This one appealed to be because although it has three sections and a twist around top which is the same, the sections are bigger and I can fit as much as I need in with ease. It's dishwasher and steriliser safe, BPA free and can also be used as a snack pot.

Born Free seem to be a lesser know brand in the UK but I'd really recommend you take a look at them.

Note: All products in this post were purchased by myself for genuine use.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Share a Little Love...

Happy Valentines Day! I hope you all have wonderful days with your 'somebody specials'

Mr B and I don't really do valentines as much as some people do. We get cards - after all it's nice to tell your partner how much you love them (although I firmly believe in doing that all year round, not just on one day), but we don't really do gifts. So I was really surprised when Mr B handed me this 'unvalentines' gift yesterday - an 'I Love You' Miffy book!

Thank you Mr B - I love you more & more each day

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Clean house.......... clean mind?

Today Small and I took another trip to Wholefoods Cheltenham in search of cleaning products. I've always been a fan of Method Home cleaning, but recently I've dabbled with Ecozone Ecoballs. As much as I love Method's laundry liquid - I'd found early on that it's just not really suitable for cleaning nappies. The Ecoballs have been amazing though - I love them so much I use them for most of our washing! Wholefoods stocks loads of Ecozone products, so I went to see what I could get my hands on.

Where else would you see a home cleaning aisle like that? I'm not such a fan of Ecover - they've been a little controversial over the years claiming to be vegan - then it turns out they test on bugs or something. They now have the leaping bunny mark - but I'm not really sure about them.

I already use Ecozone's dishwasher and washing machine cleaning tablets - I'm really fussy about both those things staying clean (as I wash baby bottles in the dishwasher and nappies in the washing machine) - and they work fabulously! I also picked up some of their dishwasher tablets to try out and they have been really good so far, even left our glass baby bottles sparkling!

Other vegan cleaning product favorites include -

Whilst we were there I tucked into my favorite vegan sandwich - a 'Fancy' Tofu Torpedo and Small joined in too!

Monday, 11 February 2013

Baby Breakfast Scramble

7+ Months

Ingredients

1/2 small onion (chopped)

1/2 packet of silken tofu (for an older child regular tofu is fine)

50g spinach

5 TBSP nutritional yeast

1 fresh tomato (chopped)

1 TBSP Omega High Five oil (or regular vegetable oil)

4 TBSP jasmine or basmati rice

1/2 cup water

10 frozen soya beans (edamame)

Dash of soya cream or 2 TBSP plain soya yoghurt

First off you'll need to cook the rice. I do this in a steamer with a rice cooking attachment, but it could be done in a saucepan too. Place your rice, water and soya beans in the pot and cook for around 15 minutes. (The purple thing pictured inside the rice bowl is a Beaba flavour pod containing a bay leaf.)

Whilst the rice is cooking pour your oil into a small saucepan. Saute the tofu and onions for around 5 minutes then add the yeast flakes and coat everything.

Add the tomato and spinach and continue cooking for a further 4 to 5 minutes.

When the rice is cooking drain off any excess water and place in a blender - pulse a few times.

Add the tofu mixture to the blender along with the soya cream or yoghurt. Pulse until smooth.

Depending on what stage of chewing ability your baby is at you may need to add a bit of water to the blender jug to smooth the mixture out.

This makes 3 to 4 portions depending on babies appetite.

A Day in the Life......

Being at home on maternity leave really took me some getting used to. Once the first few months had passed and I settled into being a new mom, I had to find things to do to leave the house and stay sane!

At 8 1/2 months Small's 'routine' (I was generally against imposing rigid routines to start with, but at this stage we have approximate mealtimes and a set bedtime) has become more complex than making sure I have some bottles in the changing bag.

Things that keep me sane:

Going our for coffee

Taking a teething baby for walks to sooth her

Small having favorite toys

Bookshops & books in general - I love reading, both to small and once she's gone to bed for a little 'me' time

We've also been to lots of different kinds of baby groups and I'm excited about starting baby signing classes soon :)

Sunday, 10 February 2013

My heart is playing tricks on me. And it's building bricks on me.

It was a special moment for me when I got to open my daughters first box of Lego (well, Duplo). They make a really cute range of toddler toys. When I saw the giraffe pull along toy I just had to get it. I loved my Lego and Duplo as a kid - the bright colours and patterns on the blocks are so visually stimulating for children.

So yes, I had to build the giraffes - but she's adored pulling and pushing them around the living room. As she gets older I'm sure we'll have some great fun with it.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Pets or Companion Animals?

I've always loved 'pets'. I grew up in a household with cats, and one of my childhood companions was a black scraggy cat named 'Sooty'. My parents found him abandoned before I came along and they took him in. He lived to the ripe old age of 21 and at the age of 17 it felt strange to not have him around anymore. I sobbed hysterically in the vets when he died - much to the horror of everybody sitting in the waiting room.

When I was very little my parents had ginger kitties - Sam & Ben.

Over the years there have been other lovely animals that have shared my life - Cheesecake the sweet little russian hamster, Lola the giant friendly bunny and currently - Miffy & Molly sister Lionhead/ Netherland Dwarf crosses and Cecil & Betsey (Abyssinian & short haired) guinea pigs.

My point is that looking after animals was an important part of my childhood that I look back fondly on. None of my current 'pets' were acquired 'for my child' (that'd be silly anyway as she's only 9 months old) but nether the less she'll grow up with animals in her life. Cecil was an RSPCA rescue animal and my two beautiful bunnies came from a home where bunnies had breed accidentally and they had too many to home. I don't agree with pet shops, although with four fluffy babies requiring food & hay it's kind of hard to never shop in one. I disagree with the way pet shops sell pets to people with no checks, and the way in which the animals have been breed for sale in the first place. I find the whole idea of being vegan and having 'pets' a bit of a grey area. Some people like to call them Companion Animals instead, but whatever you call it - the idea is the same.

My current 'companions' are all naturally vegan animals anyway - I'm not sure how I'd feel about either buying an animal meat based food, or giving them one of the vegan alternatives that exist. I know people who do both, and I guess at the end of the day it just comes down to personal opinion. I'd never bring a pet into my home especially for a child - just because I've seen too many times children get bored and uninterested parents are left with their care. I am glad however that Small will get to grow up with our fluffy family members.

How do you feel about being vegan and 'owning' pets or companion animals?

Friday, 8 February 2013

'Cheesy' Green Mash

Another recipe that Small has been really enjoying lately is this vegetable filled mash. In this version I use courgette, but things like spinach and kale also work really well.

This makes enough for about 3 portions. Any leftovers can be frozen for around a month.

7+ Months (stage 2)

Ingredients

1 potato (peeled and chopped)

half a big courgette (around 200g)

1 TBSP vegan margarine

50ml Alpro Junior soya milk

55g melting vegan cheese

2 TBSP B12 fortified nutritional yeast

Boil the potato until soft and steam the courgette for around 5 minutes.

Drain the potato and courgette and pop into a blender.

In the saucepan you used to cook the potato melt the 'cheese", nutritional yeast and margarine with the soya milk.

Add 'cheese' mixture to the blender and pulse until smooth. If you want it to have more texture you could mash it instead.

Note: For a soya free version replace the soya milk with a fortified nut milk such as almond and use a soya free vegan cheese (Redwoods make a soya free Cheezly)

Road Tripin'

Up until now days out with my daughter in tow have been relatively easy. Even eating out in the early days was easy - she slept through almost everything and was content to play and really relaxed in new environments. At just a few days old Mr B and I ventured out for pizza with ease.

We're finalising our wedding plans at the moment and getting ready for the big day (about 2 months to go!) so last weekend we took a trip out to our venue to taste the lovely vegan food they'd prepared for us and choose our menu. After contending with the giant changing bag full of bottles, food, nappies, clothes etc the night before I thought the trip would be relatively laid back. Step in.... a teething baby. I mean why does teething even exist? (I of course know why, but isn't it hard to see your little one going through it?).

Whilst on days out one also has to contend with baby changing facilities. I mean has the person who design such things ever even changed a baby? Whilst Small was just a few months old they were slightly useable (covered up with a big clean portable mat of my own), but now she can crawl it's impossible. Plus half of them are so dirty you just wouldn't want to use them at all. Gross.

The thing is once we arrived at the venue, she needed changing. She just hates baby changing units and often the mere sight of one results in tears. She got herself worked up the minute we walked into the ladies, and threw up everywhere within seconds. I hate to see her upset, but it's just one of those situations where you just have to get one with things. I admit I got pretty upset too, as she's not been sick since she was about a month old.

I think in essence I just wasn't prepared for the change. I never had to worry about her getting bored in the car before, she would just sleep through every trip. Now though, it's a different story. She wants to play..... after several rounds of peekaboo and episodes of Charlie & Lola on my iPhone we made it home without too much fuss. How do you guys keep your little ones entertained on long car journeys?

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Eating Out

I really don't get to see my best friend as much as I'd like. Once upon a time we lived in the very same house, but these days we live in different towns and it's not as easy as walking into the next room anymore. So it was a lovely treat that on Tuesday evening Small and I got to see Aunty K.

We headed to one of our favorite (and ever dwindling) places in Birmingham which serves vegan food - Cafe Soya. I've tried out a few different types of 'highchairs' for Small whilst out and about, but had a new one to test out - the Totseat.

We already own a Stokke Handysitt, but so far Small just hasn't got to grips with sitting in it. I think we really need to buy the 'optional' cushion to stop her sliding about on the wooden seat. I swung by the shops before our visit with Aunty K and picked up the Totseat as once again Mr B had gone off to work with the Handysitt in his car and most of the restaurants I visit either don't have highchairs at all, or they just don't look safe. I figured we could use something small to keep in the changing bag anyway in case we ever popped out to eat on a whim.

I've been really pleased with it so far. It doesn't boost her up to the table like the Handysitt does, but it folds much much smaller and has worked well on the 4 or 5 different chair types I've tried it with so far. Small sat happily playing in it through much of Aunty K and I's catch up ramblings - and I have to say, she just looks so grown up in this picture! My baby is growing up!

Friday, 1 February 2013

Pop In Bamboo Nappies

Have I finally found the perfect nappy for my daughter? We've perfected nighttime by using Tots Bots Bamboozles and wraps, and whilst I really like the Bumgenius nappies - I was still searching for perfection.

I gave these a go as I was drawn in by the fact they are available with bamboo inserts. I've without a doubt found bamboo to be better and way more absorbent.

The 'Pop In' nappy is a wrap, with inserts that popper in (as apposed to nappies such as the Tots Bots 'all in ones' which fold inside). Each one comes with an insert and a booster.

I've been using these for a couple of weeks and have washed them exclusively with Ecoballs and they've stood up to washing and wear so far. The outer wraps can't be tumble dried, but they easily dry on a rack overnight. The bamboo inserts can be tumble dried, but they recommend you don't always dry them this way - which could be a bit of a problem if you were to use them full time as bamboo takes ages to dry. For me the trade off of drying time is worth it as my daughter is a heavy wetter and it's the only thing that has turned out to be reliable.

Also available is a nighttime booster - I've used these overnight with this booster a couple of times and had no leaks, but I still mostly use by two-parters as I already have them and wouldn't use them for day-times.

I guess for me the reason I like these so much is that they are a cross between the super absorbent Tots Bots Bamboozles I love, and the 'All in One' ready to use Bumgenius that are super convenient. The double leg gusset seems to stop the leaks we get there from time to time with every other nappy we've tried, even disposables. I'll update after a few months of use and let you know how they're holding up!

Note: This is an entirely personal review of products I purchased myself for genuine use.