Friday, 12 November 2010

That's One Small Step...

Well, news hot off the press - Evelyn can walk!

Fred and Evelyn go to a "sing and sign" class on Wednesdays. She loves it and this week, sufficiently distracted by Jessy Cat or perhaps "Don't wipe your nose on the sofa", she stood up and walked off unaided for the very first time. I heard about this by text while I was at work and spent the next half hour trying very hard not to get teary at my desk as I'd missed it (damn these soppy Mummy hormones!). Evelyn made it up to me when I got home though and after a bit of encouragement, wobbled over to me for a big hug!

Life doesn't get much sweeter than that.

A few minutes later we were able to get a video of her - there are a few false starts but she gets there in the end and is so very pleased with herself! Oh and (if you a have the sound on) please try to ignore our very over excited encouragement and also my rather dreadful attire! I'd just run home from work - I don't really do running so I'm never likely to arrive home looking good!


Monday, 8 November 2010

The Times they are a Changing

Sorry I left with a bit of a rant and then disappeared, it's all been rather busy here at Slummy Terrace.

We now have a fully functional kitchen, non-rotten windows and are slowly peeling back the 1970's from our living room. I think it's beginning to feel like home and this has been helped along by the changing seasons.

Apart from our early viewings, way back in January, I have only ever seen this house, and the surrounding area in the summer, and now that we are well into Autumn there are a new round of discoveries to be made. The trees in the park got and are now rapidly shedding their autumn colours, the central heating is on, and miraculously seems to work and the tricky question of how to entertain an almost toddler on a cold wet day is rearing it's head.

This morning we trudged to the library - me in wellies and a hiking jacket, Evelyn protesting under the buggy raincover. This afternoon I think I might just put on "Happy Feet" and hope for the best.

But as well as the house and the seasons, big changes are afoot with the little one too. Her vocabulary is expanding by the day and she's even learnt a few useful things, like how to ask for more food (ahh my genes are definitely in there!). We're also hovering just on the brink of those first steps. She can now stand up by herself, so long as she's distracted by something and doesn't realise she's doing it!

With this bad weather settling in I'm hoping it won't be long before she's up and about and have kitted her out with wet-weather gear ready to let her loose upon the puddles of South London, I figure that she's going to end up in them one way or the other and walking is probably preferable to crawling!

Evelyn tests out her new wellies
And the all in one winter proof suit
which is just what you need, for sitting on wet grass

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

The NCT Uncovers Shocking Hidden Crime Wave!

There seems to be a shocking and massively under reported crime wave going on. It's probably been happening for years and yet we never hear anything about it. It's a conspiricy (this is the internet people, there had to be one on here eventually), a government cover up no doubt, so what is this crime? People are holding guns to heads of women (and sometimes men) and forcing them into a life of midwifery (possibly).

Last week the NCT published the results of a survey on postnatal care. The survey had asked recent first time mothers about their experiences immediatly after their baby was born. It made depressingly familiar reading and to be fair I think I was one of the participants. 

The Royal College of Midwives of course responded that their profession is underfunded and understaffed. I have no doubt that this is true but there is a world of difference between the midwife in the birthing unit who was running between me and another labouring mother, apologising constantly for leaving me (despite that fact that I didn't really need her at that point) and trying her best to listen to and accommodate my preferences and the midwife on the postnatal ward who, upon finding me in tears told me to "stop getting all upset, you will spoil your milk and not be able to feed your baby". 

I should say I am not someone who cries at strangers easily, but by this point it was the early hours of Thursday morning and I hadn't slept at all since Saturday night. I had had thirty plus hours of full on labour, a long list of medical interventions, major surgery and so many undignified moments that at least I can't remember them all. I had also seen my much longed for new baby for the first time and felt the smack of terrifying responsibility and enormous love that comes with that.

Put bluntly I was in a bit of a state. I'm sure that plenty of other, normally perfectly sensible and capable women, have been in the same position as me, and like me, have  been completely incapable of demanding the care they needed. So perhaps it is easier for postnatal midwives to get away with treating their patients badly. At least in the delivery unit the fathers are present to hopefully provide a little more sense*, but alone at night on the ward and still unable to move or think straight it's difficult to argue with someone you are completely dependent upon, when they once again fail to respond to the call button.

I'm not saying that I expect a post natal ward, especailly one in an inner city hospital, to be a joyful, or even a pleasant place. It's bound to be noisy, hot and have terrible food. I accept that the staff  work long hours, there aren't enough of them and night shifts suck. But, unless there really is a silent forced midwifery crime wave, the staff on the wards have, at some point,  chosen to become and to continue to be midwives. They may well be underpaid and short on time, but a smile and a kind word cost nothing and take only seconds, and however tired and jaded the giver is, the recipient is probably feeling worse and for her that little bit of human kindness would be priceless. 

The report didn't just focus on the attitudes of midwives and I also agree that a lot could be done to improve the consistency of advice given, the apparent absence of a care plan etc. etc. But the one thing that would have made all the difference to me would have been feeling that the staff actually cared, even if it was just an act. 

So if you have only contempt for new mothers and indifference for their babies, and there isn't a gun to your head, don't be a midwife, the job is just too important. 

* Fred was certainly making a lot more sense than me during the latter, heavily drugged stages of the labour, but at least I knew that. Upon being handed the consent form for the c-section, with it's long list of possible complications I just passed it to him and said "shall I sign this? I have no idea, I'm totally ****ed!"

Monday, 4 October 2010

And The Prize Goes To.....

I was very pleased to read today that Robert Edwards has been awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for his pioneering work that has led to almost 4 million IVF babies coming into this world. That's a lot of parents who would never have experienced the deep joy of holding their baby in their arms had it not been for his efforts, often against considerable opposition. Great to see it acknowledged at last and of course always good to see a British scientist get the call from Stockholm!

More info here


Wednesday, 29 September 2010

A Life (or at least a weekend) More Ordinary

We've had some very nice weekends this month. For the most recent one we all went off to Center Parcs with a few friends and the one before that Evelyn and I spent in Devon, investigating some of the many many family attractions it has on offer and of course getting in some quality Granny and Grandad time. Both weekends were lovely, they were also spent doing things we'd never have done before we had Evelyn. But the weekend I've been meaning to write about here was the one three weeks ago, and it stands out because it was so very ordinary.

Evelyn meets an owl in Devon
Not ordinary for recent months, that would have involved lots swapping Evelyn between Fred and I as we both battled to get through our long list of jobs, cooking and DIY before falling into bed later than planned and with a large chunk of the to-do list still un-ticked. No, what made this particular weekend so nice was that it was ordinary for the pre-parental us, and yet still involved Evelyn. 

On Friday night we were organised enough to have dinner not too late and actually watch a DVD (normally anything as long as a DVD is just too much of a commitment). Then on Saturday we went to the Proms in the Park. (For those who don't know) this is a big classical music concert held every year in Hyde park. Fred and I have been going to it for a long time, since well before we met each other in fact, but last year, with Evelyn only a few weeks old, we had to stay at home. This year we decided to give it a go, and despite my concerns that it would all be a bit much for her we all ended up having a lovely time. 

 Evelyn was very happy to join in with the picnic before the acts started, had a great little dance along to the ABBA tribute band (ok it's not all classical music) and had such a good time waving her little Union Jack that Fred confiscated the stick before she injured anyone! Towards the end of the night they always link up to the main Last Night of the Proms concert at the Royal Albert hall and everyone sings along to Jerusalem, Rule Britannia, etc. but as it was getting late by this point and we decided it would be a bit much for Evelyn to stay up for that. However, we managed to get her home and to bed in the time it took one of the dodgier acts to do their bit, so that Fred and I could watch the finale on TV and sing along, all be it on our own in our living room rather than in a field of thousands, but the spirit was there.

hmm, perhaps small person + pointy flag is a bad a idea?

On Sunday, a very tired little girl decided to sleep in late. Bliss. We then discovered that our new local does a cracking Sunday lunch and is quite happy to have kiddies along and after all that, while Evelyn napped, we had coffee and cake in the Garden.

It wasn't an amazing weekend, there were no Friday night beers by the river, no long late nights in bars or at house parties, no city breaks to interesting European locations, but it was a little taste of our old life, only perhaps a little bit better as this time we had the added pleasure of seeing Evelyn enjoy it all for the first time. 

PS. Thanks for the Owl picture Dad

Friday, 10 September 2010

Out of the Mouths of Babes... and Mums

Don't wipe bannana in your hair
or tomato
Do you really want to mix bannana and tomato in the same mouthful?
huh, apparently you do.

Evelyn is in another rapid development phase, teeth keep appearing (13 at last count), crawling is disturbingly speedy and she is definataley finding her voice. Her attempts to sing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" are, at best, dubious still but she has a great vocabulary if you know how to interpret it:

Quack, did originally mean Duck, but will now do for any kind of animal
Fluur, is flower or anything pretty
uh-oh, Bear, Baa, Boing and Bye are quite recognisable
but I am yet to figure out what either ffffwuh!! or BA!! mean, they do however both seem to need to be shouted while pointing at something or other in the distance.

I really suggest you hold on with at least one hand - you're not nearly as good at balancing as you think you are poppet
ok I'm coming.

She can also say Dada and Muma, although not necessarily to us. Frankly I'm just pleased that her first words weren't something far worse. I spent a lot of time in the early weeks weeks watching episodes of "The Wire" and "Life on Mars" while breast feeding. Both are cop shows and both contain some very creative use of bad language. So I'm relieved that she hasn't yet launched into anything obscene in a broad Baltimore or Mancunian accent (although one of her Grannies might have been pleased with the Manchester accent)

Why not eat one of the (half dozen) raisins in (both) your hands?
(rather than holding them out and attempting to lick another, seemingly identical raisin, off the table)

But the nicest thing I have heard this week was on Monday when we paid our first trip to our new local library for the baby and toddler morning. After the obligatory singing of songs I'm sure we didn't have when I was a kid ("we all know Frogs go brrum on a motorbike" - anyone?), a boy aged about three came over to Evelyn and started playing with her, after a few minutes his Dad came over and told me that they were at the same nursery and his son had recognised Evelyn. The boy then spent several minutes rounding up all the best toys to bring over to her, and when we had to leave said "Bye bye, I'm really going to miss you". Now that's sweet.

No, that isn't DaDa
no, nor him, 
still no, you're going to get me a really bad reputation you know

Monday, 23 August 2010

Mums gone to ... Work

Evelyn's recent birthday celebrations were of course a big milestone for me too. Not only is my ickle (ok she was never that ickle) baby heading towards toddlerhood (how on earth did that happen?) but my year long maternity leave is also at an end. I am now officially a working mother.

That leaves me with any number of no doubt well blogged about old arguments that I could drag out for this post. The pros and cons of mums going back to work, the financial and logistical nightmare that is finding childcare, etc etc.. but I don't have the time to write all that - I'm a working mother you know! 

Actually we are incredibly lucky that Fred is the main earner in our household, we both have very accommodating employers and jobs that are amenable to flexible working. In Fred's case he has been able to change his hours so that he has Wednesdays off and I am only working Wednesday to Friday. I know all too many women who have wanted to work part time but been forced to decide between returning full time or quitting all together. This may be 2010, but we girls are still the only ones with the boobs and the wombs, equality is creeping only slowly towards us.

Ok, so I did get drawn into one of the old arguments there, now lets get back to talking about me.

So far it's going well. I think I picked a good time to go back as the lab is pretty quiet with it being the summer holidays and I am slipping back into it all with alarming ease. It's quite nice to be able to use bits of kit that I couldn't get my hands on when I was pregnant - not for any health and safety reason, just because the way they are set up meant I couldn't reach them over the bump, and it is lovely to have grown up - non baby related conversations. I even love my commute! Clearly that won't last but, but one thing I found particularly hard about looking after a small baby was the way that your day starts at full speed the second you were woken up. So having a little walk and a train ride in between getting up and starting work, just being able to read a magazine or listen to a podcast really improves my morning. 

On the two days a week when Evelyn goes to nursery this is especially welcome as getting both of us up, fed, dressed and out the door by 8.15am is a bit of a challenge! Nursery has also been a source of much stress all round, as poor Evelyn would wail and throw herself over me as soon as we got into the building. I'd then have to desperately fight back my own tears and try to wave bye bye like it was the jolliest thing in the world, before dissolving into a heap or worry and guilt outside. Thankfully though, I think we may have had a break through and last week Evelyn even managed to smile at the nursery staff as we arrived and didn't even seemed bothered about me going.

I shall now try very hard not to find her obvious indifference to me upsetting too!


Saturday, 14 August 2010

Thursday, 12 August 2010

The Birthday Girl

A lot of people get a bit over excited on their birthday and end up being sick.  In Evelyn's case it was a close encounter with an adolescent goat that caused her to loose her lunch.

Evelyn currently loves all animals, her favourite word is "quack quack ", which started off referring to ducks but now goes for anything feathered or furred that moves in an interesting way. With this in mind we took her to Surrey Docks city farm on her birthday and she had a marvelous time quack-quacking, limb-shaking and grinning at all kinds of farm yard beasts. Hopefully we have some video to put up here in due course.  If all that wasn't exciting enough a sudden downpour had forced us into the local Burger king for lunch, which turned out to have a giant Iggle Piggle!

We rounded off the day with a cup cake with a candle in it at tea time and so with her first sugar rush/sugar crash behind her our little one year old went to bed.

What on Earth is this?
hmmm, Cake...

I like cake!

All this was only one of the celebrations though. The first had been a joint party for all the babies in our NCT group. We rarely manage to get so many of us in one place so it was lovely to see the babies all together, it was also good to see most of the Dads again as I haven't seen a few of them since the babies were very small. The little ones had a great time pulling each others hair and grabbing each others toys. The parents also had a lovely time, owing to a slight flaw in our catering plan. This was "bring something to share" and resulted in a lot of cake, biscuits, cava and one token carton of orange juice (oopsy). I think for once it was the parents going home from a kids party feeling a wee bit sick! 

Proof that the NCT babies, and more to the point the Mummies, all made it through the first year!

The final round of celebrations was last Sunday when we had a party here at slummy terrace (I'm still working on what to call this place). A whole gaggle of friends and family turned up and after some initial clingyness Evelyn was happy to sit on a rug and hold court. Her subjects also brought with them a truly staggering pile of presents, the result of which has been to buy Mummy and Daddy several, wonderful little moments of baby playing happily by herself. Thank you everyone! Yes, even those of you who bought musical instruments!

No, I think I still need more toys, and perhaps an audience...
that's better
the morning after the afternoon before
Xylophone from Auntie Charlotte


Monday, 19 July 2010

A Bit of a Medical Rant

Those of you who are also my facebook friends may have noticed a little rant in my status update the other day following a visit to our new GPs surgery. It went something like this:

GP: ...and you're hypothyroid?
me: Yes, after having my baby
GP: oh! That's very unusual!
Me: er, no it's actually very common
hmm I feel a ranting blog post coming on as soon as I get time for a ranting blog post!

Well I finally got time, here's the ranting blog post.

Postpartum thyroiditis (PPT) is caused by the immune system, which is suppressed in pregnancy, coming back all over enthusiastic after the birth and attacking the mothers own thyroid. Exactly how common it is is up for debate, one study suggested that 16.7% of British mothers were effected although most put the figure at around 7-8%. Either way that is a lot of women and yet my GP thought it was a rare condition.

 It's funny how the medical professions and indeed the media are falling over themselves to talk to you about some aspects of pregnancy, birth and babies but other things you just never hear about. Breast feeding, pelvic floors, breast feeding, postnatal depression, breast feeding oh and breast feeding tick, tick tick, but had you ever heard of PPT?

The problem with PPT is the symptoms. Well ok that's the problem with most illnesses but you'll see what I mean if I list some of them: Tiredness, depression, weight gain/failure to loose weight, bad hair and nails, aches etc. During pregnancy you spend months listening to everyone (regardless of whether they've had kids or not) telling you that your body will be ruined, you'll never sleep again yada yada yada. Throw in a fairly epic labour, an emergency c-section and of course looking after a baby and I could just imagine the conversation with the GP:

Me: Ever since I had a baby I've felt really tired and rubbish
GP: er, yes, you were expecting what, exactly?

Fortunately for me I have a very eagle eyed medical student friend who spotted that I had a slight goitre (swelling in the neck) this is one of the few clear indicators of Thyroid problems (but one that doesn't occur in everyone) and after a few blood tests I was diagnosed and started treatment. The good part is that PPT is very easy to treat, I just pop a pill once a day and as this simply replaces something the body is missing  there are no side effects. I will have to have regular blood tests to check that I am on the right dose and to see if it eventually goes away by itself (which is the case for most women) but oh my goodness do I feel better! Before starting the pills I felt as though I had aged 20 years and had gone from a fairly young and healthy woman to someone dragging her aged body through life. now I'm pretty much back to my old (younger) self.

This all reminded me of another Mum I met a few months before my diagnosis. We got chatting and she told me how she felt constantly tired, aching and old, just like me. Also like me she attributed it to a difficult birth, an emergency c-section and being in her thirties, as her daughter approached one, she and her husband had decided not to have any more children as she just couldn't face going through it all again. I have no idea if she'd been to the doctor about it and had her thyroid checked, but I do wonder. 

My PPT is fairly mild, it's not some terrible life threatening thing but wouldn't it be sad to think that there are Mums out there who'd like another child, but just don't feel capable of it when all they need is one little pill once a day. This doesn't seem to be a condition that midwives, health visitors or GPs are on the look out for, or even aware of in some cases. I know there are a few of our friends who read this and are working on bumps of their own right now or planning to in the near future, just pop this in the back of your mind in case you need it. Better to have a doctor think you're a silly woman than to feel too worn out to enjoy your baby.


Sunday, 18 July 2010

Meanwhile upstairs...

While all the work in the kitchen has been happening, we've also had Evelyn's room redecorated. This involved replacing the ceiling, which was at risk of falling down. That created enough dust to cover every surface in the house. But the end result was worth it. Since the decorators finished, Kirsty has been hard at work making it into a proper baby's room. For the first time Evelyn has a room that is really her own, not a multipurpose study/spare-room/nursery. Isn't it pretty?

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Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Transforming our kitchen

We've successfully moved into our new house now and the work to improve it has begun in earnest. The previous owner had made only one alteration since moving in twenty years ago - a new bathroom - so most of the house looks very dated and some of it is defective. We can live with the dated stuff for a while and gradually redecorate, but with a baby who is on the verge of moving under her own steam, it was important that we get anything dangerous fixed quickly. The top priority was Evelyn's bedroom, where the old Victorian ceiling was seriously bowed and risked collapsing. After some pretty foul dust, and even fouler language from our Saaarf Lahndan (South London) builders, the room now has a new ceiling and the walls have been stripped. They start painting today, so the job should be done by the end of tomorrow. This will be a huge relief, as Evelyn has been waking up very early whilst she's been sleeping in our bedroom. And it will be lovely for her to have a room of her own, rather than study/store room/baby bedroom.

The next priority was the kitchen which, as you can see from the photo below, was very dated. What you can't see so easily is that most of he cupboard doors were coming off, and the washing machine and oven didn't work. (I really enjoyed carrying about 20kg of wet laundry up the hill back from the laundrette at the weekend!)

On Monday work started on ripping out the kitchen and as you can see from the next photo, by the end of the day it had all gone. I can't believe how fast that can be done. Along the way the builders discovered some pretty dodgy work. You can see most of these in the photo:
- missing floorboards
- wet rot, dry rot and woodworm in floorboards and joists
- illegal wiring
- half-rusted iron gas pipes
- lots of lead water pipes
- missing brickwork around the (leftmost) window

By the end of day two the wiring and gas pipes were fixed, the plumbing was half done and the missing bit of wall was replaced (look at the left most window: you can see how much was missing by the amount they had to replace). The builders had also raised the lintel in the chimney (right hand side), to create space for the cooker and cooker hood. Again, I can't believe how quickly they did all this.

While all this is going on, Kirsty and Evelyn have escaped to stay with Granny (very wise). I am still living in the house, surviving on a fridge freezer and microwave in the dining room, washing dishes in the bathroom sink and to be honest mostly living off takeaway. Fortunately the weather has been wonderful, so I can enjoy the lovely garden which - unlike the house itself - the previous owner took great care of.

I'll try to keep posting a photo of the kitchen each day.

Update 28 June
Sorry I have failed to do daily updates. Here are some more photos.

After day 4 the hideous fake brick tiles had come off the end wall and even more floor had been removed.

By day five the end wall and the whole side wall had been redone.

And by the end of today, day 6, the walls were done and the floor was starting to come back together again. But you'll just have to take my word for that as the builders have also disconnected the lights and it's after dark now.

Update 29 June
Today a nice Polish plasterer came. Now we have walls that are straight at last. There also seems to be a bit more floor, but there's still more to do. The builders are back tomorrow.

Update 4 July

Work has been continuing for the last few days. More problems have been found, and thankfully resolved. It turns out that not only were the floorboards and joists rotten, the bricks underneath them were too. Here is the kitchen on 30 June, as the floor and all its supports were being removed to get to the bare earth.

A day later the bricks have been rebuilt, the joists replaced and most of the floor is down.

And by the end of the second week of work, on 2 July, the floor had been completed. Who'd have thought it would take that long to get the room into a state where it was ready to have a kitchen put in it?! The morals of this story is that if you have a leaky tap don't wait 30 years to get it fixed, and if you have your floor relaid, make sure there's proper damp proofing in it. Or something like that. What do I know about building?!

Update 18 July
Work is still continuing in the kitchen, and is about to enter its fifth week, but now the end is in sight. The floor and walls have been tiled and had their first coat of paint, the kitchen units are in, as are the worktops and the appliances. Here are some pictures from Wednesday 14th.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Moving on

After an intensely stressful few weeks we have just exchanged contracts on our flat and on our new house! On Monday we will be leaving slummy towers after almost six years. 

While it's fair to say that I can't wait to have more space, a garden and a lovely park on our doorstep I will also be very sad to leave. 

This is where we rented our first place together, then decided that we liked the building (and each other) enough to make our first major commitment - a mortgage. This is the place we headed off from with our backpacks for adventures across the globe and where we returned to filthy, exhausted and pathetically grateful to our lovely friend Guy for leaving us bacon and OJ in the fridge. 

We've had parties in silly costumes and wasted far too many Sunday's playing Mario Karts while trying to recover from excessive  Dim Sum consumption. 

We came back to this flat after getting engaged in New Zealand, planned our wedding here and when the job was done Fred carried me over this threshold. This is of course also the place where I found out I was pregnant, where I sat about like a lead space hopper and where we brought our baby home to from the hospital.

It's been good times little flat.

I was thinking all this as I came down in the lift this afternoon. As I left the building a young couple were telling the concierge they were there to meet an agent to show them a flat. They looked nice, I hope they take the flat and I hope they will be as happy here as we have been.


         Friends "help" us move to our first flat in Slummy Towers, summer 2004

       Warming the new flat - Goldfinger party 2005

        New Years Eve/ Engagement party - Gold, Frankenstein and Grrrr 2006/2007

       New years 2008/2009 - Getting through the party season without letting on I'm pregnant

      Posing for some early bump pictures (17 weeks)

      Bringing our baby home

Monday, 24 May 2010

A Baby-Free Weekend (moo)

It is a very very strange feeling to board a train with only your bag (and a chocolate brownie) in your hands, sit wherever you like, read a magazine and have a little doze. At least it is when every trip for the last nine months has required military grade planning, careful selection of the only spot on the train with space for a pushchair and a journey spent bouncing, cooing, feeding and generally doing anything in your power to prevent baby meltdown. 

This time there were no silent looks of "oh no" from my fellow passengers, I was pleasantly anonymous on the 15.50 from Waterloo and it was wonderfully liberating.

The reason for this little adventure was that I was off to a hen weekend! A whole 48 hours of grown up conversations, fizzy wine and maybe even a lie in or two. Bliss! Oh and a jolly good send off into married life for a very lovely friend.

Of course in reality I hadn't just chucked my best drinking shoes in a bag and headed for the station, these two days had required several months of planning. The main issue being that Evelyn is still breast feeding. Fred is a pretty good hands on Dad, but there are limits, so I have spent weeks gradually building up the supplies in the freezer and although I am very grateful to the little yellow breast pump for all the help it gave me with feeding Evelyn in the early days, getting her taking boob or bottle and allowing me this precious weekend away, Oh My God I am sick of it! I really can not tell you just how very sick of it I am. It is about the most gratingly boring and undignified thing you can imagine, and this really isn't helped by the noise it makes. It moos. 

It did the job though and off I went, except you can't really escape that easily from the moo. To keep up supplies and my comfort levels the pump had to come along too so I was very grateful to discover that I was not the only one in this situation. Every so often me and another of the Hens broke off from the spa/gossip/wine/phallic drinking straws to turn our little corner of Centre Parks into a milking parlour. Classy. Is that TMI for this blog I wonder? It's amazing how you just stop noticing that line.

Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed the hen do and was impressed with Centre Parks, although it was so full of little ones, many the same age as Evelyn, that once it was time to head home I was pretty desperate to see her. I did wonder on the train back if she would remember me or show any sign of being pleased at my return but I shouldn't have worried. When I met her and Fred at Waterloo on their way home from an outing to Great Grandpa's I got a great big little grin and some very excited arm waving and that more than makes up for all the mooing.


Meanwhile back in London....

                             Evelyn has her first go in a paddling pool

                         And makes another (failed) attempt at crawling

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Vote Evelyn!

Tough on Parsnips, Tough on the Causes of Parsnips

With the election imminent we thought it was time to break out Evelyn's Boris pants, (Thank you Auntie Jo!)  She may be a little too young to vote but she can still try to demonstrate her opinions, although it is a bit unclear from this if she is throwing her weight behind the Tories or thinks they would be a bum deal for the country *insert additional pun of your choosing here*. Whatever your political affiliations, you've gotta wish you were in the meeting where someone pitched Boris Johnson baby pants. 

Disclaimer: Other political baby pants are available (although no Lib Dem ones I notice. I guess however well Nick Clegg did in the TV debates he'll never be as funny on a pair of pants as Thatcher).

Of course I should remind you all of just how very important I am to this election. If the media are to be believed *insert sarcastic comment of your choosing here* then this is the "Mumsnet election", the future of the country resting squarely in the chapped hands of the nations web-literate mothers. For the uninitiated, Mumsnet is one of a number of websites where parents can ask for advice from their peers, share experiences, form friendships and viciously attack any complete stranger who slightly disagrees with their opinions on dungarees. (In a variation on Godwin's law you can pretty much guarantee that a discussion thread will end in a torrent of vitriolic abuse as soon as the words "breastfeeding", "private education" or "Gina Ford" appear). Mumsnet has more recently become famous for the number of politicians begging to jump on the bandwagon come on the site and discuss their policies and choice of biscuit (or not) with any Mother who has time to listen to them. Supposedly this has all been very influential. 

So, has becoming a parent influenced my postal vote? Is my motherly self more invested, more knowing and more questioning of the political process of our great little isle? Have web-forums shaped my opinions in new and unexpected ways? Well no I don't think so, but then this time round I have actually posted said postal vote and won't have to shamefacedly take it to the polling station on election day, so maybe there is something going on after-all.


Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Have Baby, Will Travel

Having successfully dodged rail strikes, airline strikes, heavy snow and a very stroppy volcano we are now returned from our first proper family holiday with no drama what so ever! 

                    Evelyn plays bite Daddy's nose in the cottage

We spent a lovely week on the Island of Seil just off the West coast of Scotland near Oban. We had a couple of ulterior motives for this location, a wedding in Glasgow and visiting Evelyn's Auntie Helen and Uncle Bryn who have recently moved to Oban (and who's flat provided a handy mainland pit-stop for nappy changes and feeds). They also put us in touch with a family on a neighbouring island who very kindly lent us their off-road buggy and baby backpack and pointed us in the direction of some lovely walks. The Mum of the family actually writes a guide to buggy walks so I shall now blatantly plug her website: Actually while I'm at it this is where we stayed: our little house was ideal, coming complete with high chair, cot, lots of birds to stare at and (and this is the most important bit) fruit cake.

     Evelyn goes off road

In addition to the walking, general pottering and massive consumption of honeycomb ice cream, we also slotted in a visit to a sealife centre where Evelyn got her first sight of otters ( squeal! bounce!), seals (suck suck, oooo Seagull) and a giant octopus (snooooze) It was a shame she slept through the giant octopus as she missed it grabbing it's poor keeper and trying to drag him into the tank. 

After a lovely week on Seil we headed to Glasgow where we met up with Granny Angela and Grandad. Evelyn behaved herself pretty well at the wedding, my choice of a halterneck dress was however, with hindsight and breastfeeding in mind - not the cleverest! Oh well, a good time was had by all and attending a wedding with some handy grandparents was great as it meant Fred and I actually managed to get in a bit of dancing. That said our efforts were rather poor. We are enthusiastic but very amateur ceilidh dancers and were entirely put to shame by the folks in kilts! We used the excuse of a very tired baby to head for our hotel at 9.30pm, in truth I think all three of us were beaten at that point!

                         Some quality parenting in the Glasgow hotel

So that was that and it was time to head home. We travelled to/from Glasgow by train. First class - get us! I think I can leave it to you to imagine the look on our fellow passengers faces when we boarded the non-cattle carriage with backpacks and a baby, but Evelyn behaved herself very well, apart from being terrified of the changing table in the disabled loo.

                        Evelyn has fun in first class

Actually the only traumatic bit of the travelling was the London bus from the station to our flat, but I think I could do a whole post ranting about buses at the moment so I think I'll leave it there.


Monday, 3 May 2010


We gave Evelyn her first proper go on a swing a couple of weeks ago, and caught it on video. She absolutely loved it. Can you remember the last time you found something so exciting that you shook all your limbs with glee?

Monday, 22 March 2010

Special Dietary Requirements

Wake baby up - prepare baby's food - feed baby - clear up tornado like scene of devastation - put baby to bed.
And Repeat.

This is pretty much the timetable for us here at slummy towers at the moment. The weaning is coming along nicely and Evelyn is now on three solid(ish) meals a day. Throw in the four breastfeeds she's still having and a whole lot of napping and not a lot else gets done around here.

In theory Evelyn could just have mushed up little versions of what we're eating, but babies don't do low calorie, so our fridge is suddenly full of long forsaken little treasures. Full fat milk, cheese, yogurt and slabs of butter are fighting for space with their "healthier" brethren- Nigella would be very proud of our fridge right now. 

She would not, however, be too impressed with me. One of many foolish assumptions I've made in the last year was that any weight gained during pregnancy would be easily lost by breastfeeding. What I hadn't factored in was a moderately epic labour, and an emergency c-section leading to many, many  weeks sitting on my bum eating kitkats. Even now, as Evelyn approaches eight months, I'm still a lot heavier than I'd like to be. So, no full fat anything for Mummy, desperate times are upon us and I've embarked on an actual diet (just to make the job of keeping everyone fed that little bit more complicated)! 

Here then is an example of us "sharing a meal":

Dinner for Kirsty:
Steamed Salmon, broccoli and green beans, 3 boiled new potatoes

Dinner for Fred:
Steamed salmon, broccoli and green beans, roughly 20 boiled new potatoes and a glass of wine  followed by a low fat yogurt.

Dinner for Evelyn:
Salmon poached in full fat milk and butter, served with a sauce of carrots, tomatoes and butter with broccoli in cheese sauce (made with butter) followed by two full fat fromage frais (butter-free).

I guess all this cooking must burn off some calories right?

Better go, time to puree something.


Monday, 8 March 2010

Boing boing!

Evelyn has started to really enjoy the bouncer I got her from Christmas. Here's a little video to prove it!

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Sit Up and Play

Another of the little milestones this year has been Evelyn learning to sit by herself. Well to be honest she's still a bit like a broken Weeble - she wobbles, and then she falls down, usually flat on her face but it doesn't seem to bother her too much.  Fortunately some very forward thinking friends gave us a large inflatable monkey when Evelyn was born. At the time she wasn't too keen on it but now it makes a great crash barrier.

Last week she also finally rolled over for the first time, a bit of a late starter on that one but we're learning that she is more of a thinker than a doer. So far she isn't very keen on baby swimming, much to my disappointment, but if anyone knows of a baby philosophy class in central London please send me the details. Or perhaps she'd prefer to be sitting next to the pool catching some rays and reading (or perhaps that should be chewing) a good book.