Monthly Archives: September 2011

Baby-led weaning: day 4

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I am not quite sure why, in The Bible on BLW, they say that it often happens more easily with child #2. It’s all very well to spend hours dining and clearing up when you’ve only got one to worry about, but not as easy when you’re sitting between two little individuals, one desperate to test your boundaries as to how much ketchup he can eat at one go, while the other keeps flicking globs of yoghurt all over himself, the floor, you, etc etc.

So whilst I am perservering, out of stubborness more than anything else at this stage, my observations by day 4 are:

  • I have ignored all my own guidance to clean up quickly, and have consequently had to spend 20 minutes this EVENING scrubbing this MORNING’s Weetabix off the table, which had set like pebbledash
  • I must remember that I now have 2 mouths to feed rather than 1; this lunchtime it was only when DS2 woke up wailing that I realised DS1 had eaten EVERYTHING in the snack box, including all the things I’d vaguely thought DS2 might enjoy
  • Trying BLW on a child with reflux is not as amusing as it was on a non-reflux child; poor DS2 can only go about 10 minutes in any one position before needing a good period of wailing (see pic), carrying, and finally a sick. Unfortunately being upright in a high chair has not resolved this issue; my tolerance level with the yoghurt-throwing would have been far higher if he had not been having a hissy fit at the same time
  • A plus discovery is that teething means that he quite likes chewing a spoon; which if we’re really lucky is coated in food
  • When they say that BLW often happens by accident with child #2 because child #1 is always ramming things in their mouth, I can see that being true, but I don’t think they’d recommend chilli-coated seeds as the optimum kick-off food.

Basically I am quite fed up with weaning altogether and am now going to take a very passive approach on the assumption that somehow, between now and the day that DS2 hits Freshers’ Week, he will have learnt to use a knife and fork, and be able to keep food in his mouth. So that’s that.

Baby-led weaning: day 2

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We did baby-led weaning for DS1 a couple of years’ ago, and the whole experience was an absolute joy. Still at 2 and a half he is built like a rugby player and will eat absolutely anything. I remember sitting in Carluccios with my antenatal girlfriends when the babies were just 6 months; most of them were having puree shoved down them, while DS1 was sitting on my lap helping himself to penne giardiniera.

We’re now 48 hours into BLW for DS2 (who hit six months yesterday) and the practicalities of it are now coming back to me. I think I had wiped them from my mind!

  • It is EXTREMELY messy. I am pretty militant about making sure the baby does everything himself, but when one well-placed sweep of the arm lands all his food on the floor this can get quite frustrating. I end up spraying Dettox on the floor just before the meal though, and by that I can justify picking all his food back up again and putting it in front of him. And again. And again…
  • All this bending down must be good for you, including the 10 minutes under the table at the end of each meal cleaning up.
  • Ensure that you clean up AS SOON AS the meal is finished. It is amazing how hard food can set if you leave it to dry in situ; and then you then spend twice as long scrubbing away at the table with industrial cleaner and a Brillo pad in a panic just before your mother-in-law comes through the door. If you do this too often you end up actually wearing down the table where the baby sits. This can be a handy way of ‘retiring’ a piece of furniture you never really liked, but this time around we have a new table, so I think I’m going to invest in a laminated table cloth instead.
  • TASTE is good. This evening, for example, DS2 met pasta with ambivalence, tuna and mayonnaise with a bit more excitement, while a Fruits of the Forest Activia yoghurt made his eyes pop out of his head*. This to me is one of the key aspects of BLW; it engenders a real interest in food and a delight in complex flavours. Have you ever actually tasted baby rice? It’s like wallpaper paste. I cannot imagine anything less likely to excite a baby about eating than that.
  • GAGGING is, to some extent, what’s meant to happen at the start as the baby gets used to having food in his mouth and moving it around with his tongue. It can be a bit of a fright the first time, and I’d forgotten how dramatic it can look when a child is heaving and wincing (see pic). However, even over the six ‘meals’ we’ve had over the last couple of days this has improved. A good thing actually as yesterday a piece of carrot was finally cleared by DS2 accompanied by a projectile vomit of milk right into the middle of the table. Apple is probably the worst culprit for getting stuck. It’s worth ensuring you feel comfortable with what to do in the event of proper choking, just for peace of mind.
  • Meals become a real activity in the day. I was looking through my diary of a typical day for DS1, and I’d set aside 2 hours for lunch. This would be somewhat suboptimal if you actually had something else worthwhile to do, but on days where you’re maybe at a bit of a loose end as to what possibly-just-slightly-mind-numbing activities to get up to, Lunch can be a real benefit. I also noted that it was a real incentive to eat out, as that would entail both a journey to and fro, plus the possibility of a wider range of cuisine than you might be bothered to knock up at home.

So, so far in his little life, DS2 has had banana, carrot and apple flavoured rice cakes, carrot sticks (raw and steamed), an old Farley’s rusk left over from when DS1 had hand, foot and mouth disease and couldn’t eat anything else, a stick of Jarlsberg, a finger of Vogel toast, a bit of potato, a tomato-flavoured breadstick, and the afore-mentioned pasta, tuna and mayonnaise, and a fruits of the forest yoghurt. I say ‘has had’ but obviously in most cases they ended up in his mouth by accident rather than design, and left quickly afterwards.

IMG_0374Nevertheless, if he ends up eating even as remotely well as his brother, we’ll be just delighted.

Fingers crossed…

* This, admittedly, will hopefully be a bit of an exception – for DS1 we used plain greek yoghurt flavoured with sugar-free jam as I was a bit anal about ensuring he didn’t have anything sweet. His father and I both have HUGE sweet-teeth (?) so I’m sure the boys will become chocoholics at some point in the future; there just didn’t seem any point in expediting this…

Adidas 5k run. Or rather walk. Or actually shuffle… The roaring race report.

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A super day today roaring into London for the Adidas 5k walk/run/shuffle as part of the Donna Ida team raising money for Jeans for Genes (it’s not too late to donate here!). I knew it was all going to be alright once I hit the M4, the sun was shining, and I ended up getting a perfect parking spot just off Exhibition Road. Such small things…

I was bound up by multiple sports bras and pushing DS2 in a buggy and I knew I was never going to break any records; but as I mosied on down to the section of ‘runners’ anticipating taking more than 35mins to do 5k the sheer enormity of the task at hand hit me. 9,000 women between me and the finish line. I’d almost been embarrassed to ask people to sponsor me as 5k is such a trivial distance to anyone who runs, but now at least I know I’ve earned the money.

Suffice it to say, the next hour and a quarter consisted of:

  • crawling along with the buggy, nipping at the heels of the slowcoaches ahead (I did apologise, but come on; pick up the pace just a wee bit, please!),
  • waves of gloom at seeing people who’d already finished walking by (please direct them somewhere else; it’s NOT an incentive),
  • exhilaration at finding some space to accelerate (until I took a speed bump too fast and woke up a sleeping DS2)
  • holding back tears when I read some of the stories and dedications on t-shirts (especially of people who were raising money for baby charities, such as Sands, as I strode by with my lovely healthy baby boy), and
  • a sudden wave of panic as I found myself hemmed in by a posse of Breast Cancer girls and a hallucinogenic (Rainbow Trust?) caterpillar.

And then I got back to the team tent, and realised out of everyone there, the DS2 and I had come last.

Taking into account the time it took to even get to the start line, we’d completed the course in 55 minutes. The winner took 15.

However I fretted not! We were supplied with free food and drink, the sun had stayed shining, and there had been lots of lovely chatting. We’ve raised almost £34,000. And despite not even breaking a sweat, my legs are killing me. So SOME good must have been done!

Twittering the day away

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It’s a funny old thing, this Twitter (#Twitter) business. Yesterday I found the baby to be in a particularly agreeable mood, as a consequence of which I could spend most of the day at my computer theoretically ‘doing jobs’. I did manage to eke out a blog post on mortgage hunting but this took about 3 times longer than normal due to my obsessive monitoring of David Walliams’ swim down the Thames.

For some reason I thought it’d be a good idea to install the TweetDeck app on my PC; this has been disastrous as not only is it completely unintuitive and as about as intelligible as a dashboard on the Starship Enterprise (dashboards? Did they have dashboards?), but it also keeps popping up alerts – sometimes timely, sometimes not – on DW’s progression down the river (#Thamesswim). When I combined this with the satellite-tracked view on the Sport Relief website I felt as if I was practically in the river with him*, and I found myself becoming The Authority for the Village on his arrival times.

It’s bizarre though how this meant my day panned out: an almost zero score on the productivity & mothering fronts; but top marks for helping be part of a community and contributing to that buzz. I say part of a community, but at the one point I actually left the house I could hardly get my legs to work correctly as they’d lost their motor functions through inactivity, and I was so shocked when a real human neighbour actually addressed me verbally rather than through @roaringkate I nearly fell over.

Nevertheless, it did motivate me to drag the family down to the river this morning to see D Walliams’ arrival, and it was suddenly so jolly to be with lots of other village people, literally, including the Kitchen Man and ladies from the Running Club. And, wadda y’know, D Walliams was the first ‘celebrity’ that DS1 encountered (in a teashop in Primrose Hill) and now he’s the first that DS2 has seen**. How bizarre is that. It’s a sign. Recorded for posterity on You Tube.

Now to try to turn off these friggin’ pop up Tweets. I’ve got a dinner party and a run to gear myself up for. 24 hours monitoring other people having a life is more than enough for me.

* I have actually swum many times in the Thames; after about 12 minutes it’s already a bit nippy so for 12 hours is madness.

** For a fair summary of this experience see Zoe Williams’ article in the Guardian. Mothers of Berkshire unite!

Garden panic

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With DS2 having a surprisingly good sleep I’m now flitting between all my various jobs for today – one of which is just the minor one of redesigning the garden. The landscape guy is booked to come in just a few weeks, and although we have a broad idea of what we want I am very aware that we’ve no details planned at all and the whole thing, basically, risks looking totally crapola.

So this is going to be a key focus over the next few weeks, with the help of:

  • a) John Brookes book ‘smallgarden‘. He has a handy step by step guide which is great for people like me who like cutting up paper
  • b) my gorgeous friend and keen gardener Jo’s help: her ideas for our garden are here
  • c) Alan Titchmarsh – yes, I know – who in a garden designing guide wrote: “Remember that mistakes can always be rectified. This is not life and death.”

Just remember that Kate. Not Life and Death.

Thankfully, on the opening page of J Brooke’s book (aka the Bible), he has a picture of something that works as a reasonable template for what we want to do. Even down to the bench round the tree..!

September house help from Livingetc

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I know how I work; browse, dream, turn down page corners, and then the magazine slides under the sofa and that’s the end of that until it’s rediscovered a year later, trends are moving on, and I have to trawl through it all over again. I Do Not Have time for that! And we need to get the house finished by Christmas. To avoid a nervous breakdown.

So, officially, this is What I Like from this month’s issue of Livingetc:

  • Log holders from Chesneys for our fireside
  • Gorgeous dragonfly mural from John Lewis (though disappointed by the other design options. We’ve enough maps already in the house thank you very much).
  • Grey. In the bedroom. We’ve so far just painted the whole house white. But I am, oooh, missing some colour (and so going a bit overboard in the boys’ room). But how classy does it look? (Rhetorical question; I’ll have to scan it in…)
  • Conran designing for M&S – looking forward to seeing it (RIP Habitat)
  • Bench from Another Country. If only it were for outdoors. Would be perfect on our porch for me to sit on slurping coffee monitoring DS1 on his scooter.
  • Mirrored panels on the bath. Although in actual fact what I think I’m really yearning for is a nice clean bathroom, with no rubber ducks spouting mouldy water.
  • Swedish designed oilcloth (god I love Scandi stuff) from 10-Gruppen. A somewhat expensive and lengthy way to get something to protect the table when DS1 is drawing (please can we just fast forward to the time when he can keep it on the paper?)
  • Cubit modular shelving system. While nothing could beat our house’s love of Vitsoe, this looks interesting (and I’ve spent more hours than I care to remember looking at shelving over the last year or so). I like it.

And finally a linocut by Paul Catherall coming up at the Affordable Art Fair in October. Colour, you see, I’m desperate for it. Even if it does come in the form of a powerstation in Chelsea.