Sunday, 30 October 2011

The Scientific Manual for Mums

It's a long running joke; "babies! They don't come with a manual you know!". Oh if only that were true. A few seconds on google and you can find literally millions of books, articles, websites etc etc all proffering instructions from child rearing "experts" most claiming that their methods are backed up by "scientific evidence".

But here's the thing - the presentation of this "scientific evidence" by both the "experts" and the media can be deeply, deeply flawed.

There are countless examples of this, but  here is a recent one from the Telegraph.  If you can't be bothered to read it yourself here's a summary:

 A paediatrician says that babies should sleep in the same bed and in close contact with their mothers (co-sleeping) until they are three years old. Not doing so will cause stress to the child's heart, the child will sleep poorly, have more difficulty bonding with it's mother, and their brain development may be damaged, leading to behavioural problems later in life. The article also acknowledges that this goes against the prevailing medical view that co-sleeping should be discouraged because it may increase the risk of cot death, but this is countered by the paediatrician who says that these deaths are due to "toxic chemicals, cigarettes, alcohol..."etc. 

So, a balanced article on a vital new scientific discovery right?

I just want to say at this point that this post isn't about my opinions on co-sleeping, or people who choose to practice it or not. This is me with my scientist hat ( or should that be coat?) on getting annoyed at some dodgy journalism.

With that in mind the first thing that worries me about this article is - where are the references? You'd expect a article on a scientific discovery to tell you where the information was published, that's how science is supposed to work.* Here the only other publication mentioned is the Daily Mail.

So I did a quick search on PubMed, (a website that allows you to search for scientific/medical publications). I'll be honest I was a bit surprised when a recent paper by the paediatrician concerned did actually turn up. But I was even more surprised when I read the abstract. To summarise the summary: 

16 two day old infants (still in hospital) were studied for one hour while they slept on their mothers and for one hour while they slept in a crib. The babies behaviour and the variation in their heart rates was observed as they slept. Most of the babies slept better when on their mothers.

This is the only paper this doctor seems to have published in the last seven years** so we have to assume that this is the only validated evidence for the article.


So how do we get from 16 two day old neonates having steadier heart rates for a hour when with their mothers than for an hour in a crib, to behavioural problems in teenagers who didn't sleep with their Mums as toddlers?

I have no idea.

There are a huge number of flaws that could be picked on at this point, but for the sake of brevity I'll limit myself to one of them: Anyone who has cared for a new born baby will know that they are only calm and happy when being held, I'm actually amazed he got 16 of them to sleep in a crib at all! 48 hours ago they were curled in a tight warm ball inside Mum, now they are in a little plastic tank in a fluorescently lit hospital ward. Of course they are happier cuddling Mummy. But to assume from this that all toddlers would behave the same is far fetched to say the least, so why then stop at 3? Perhaps we could have prevented all the recent riots if only teenagers snuggled up to Mum at night? 

Of course the actual published paper makes none of the claims in the Telegraph article, or indeed in the Daily Mail article it was taken from , if it did it would never have been accepted for publication, it merely concludes that sleeping away from the mother increased variation in heart rates, that the babies didn't sleep for so long and that this may be a cause of stress. 

It is the newspaper articles that make the real consequence-heavy, evidence-light claims, while attempting to seem balanced. A similar thing happened with the now notorious MMR scare. In an attempt to seem fair, journalists gave equal space to the tiny minority who thought the vaccine was damaging and to the vast vast majority of medical professionals who thought it was safe. As a result the public, understandably, got the impression that no one really knew the truth and many opted not to vaccinate their kids as they thought the risk of side effects was greater than the risk of disease. Children died.

So, not a balanced article, or a major scientific breakthrough, but a small study of a handful of newborns and a few wildly speculative column inches. But how the heck are readers supposed to know that? We're told by a broad sheet newspaper that this is a Paediatrician, at a university, a scientific study with numbers and results. This is just one article of the many that appear in the media every week, surely the writers don't assume every reader is checking up on the references on PubMed? Why should they anyway?

As with so many parenting issues there is no clear scientific evidence to say all parents should or shouldn't co-sleep. The official advice, backed up by another study in the news just last week, is that babies should be in a cot in their parents room until they are 6 months old, but that actual co-sleeping carried an increased risk of cot death. However many parents, aware of that advice, believe that given the risks are minimal, it is more natural and beneficial to have their baby in bed with them or simply resort to it as the only way of anyone getting any sleep. Many of these parents will look to the media, websites etc, for evidence to help them make an informed decision, so it is vital that the information they find is accurate, not personal opinions masquerading as facts

Additionally, parents who choose to follow the conventional advice shouldn't be made to feel guilty about it, or worry that they are physically and emotionally damaging their children unless there is really, really REALLY good evidence.


*For the non-scientists reading this, the norm is for scientists/doctors to to conduct their experiments, then write up what they have done and send it to a scientific journal. The journal will pass it on to a number of unconnected people working in the same field who will check it over and if they think it is good enough, give it the ok for publication. Basically, anything a doctor, scientist or some bloke off the telly says they have scientific proof for, if it's not made it through this peer review process, it doesn't count. That's not to say it is definitely false, just that there is insufficient evidence to believe it at the moment. That's the great thing about science, we get to change our minds.

**One paper in seven years isn't all that impressive by the way, I'm just a techy and I published two papers while I was on maternity leave (and yeah I just put this bit in to show off).

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Conversations With My Two Year Old

Mummy: Hello Evelyn, did you have a nice nap?
Evelyn: Oh yes! I saw Dinosaurs!!!
M: oooo Did you? Where?
E: (to the tune of Wind the Bobbin Up): 
There's a Dinosaur
There's a Dinosaur
Look! Look! 
Rar Rar Rar (repeat)

There's one on the ceiling
There's one on the floor
There's one on the window
There's one on the door

E: *Proud look*
M: *falls about giggling*

I've never heard this version of the song before! She either picked it up at a music session with Granny that morning or just made it up, either way I think I prefer it to the original and it provides the perfect excuse to plan a trip to the Natural History Museum! Yay!


Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Love in a Time of Sniffles

Yesterday was one of those mornings every parent of small children has experienced many times over. You wake up heavy with tiredness and the cold that's been threatening for days. As you blearily fumble in the bedside cabinet for tissues and any drugs you can find, you say a tiny, pathetic, hopeless prayer to any god who might be bothered to listen: "please, just let her sleep late today, PLEASE". Then, inevitably, the snuffling sound of a child who is not only awake, but also joining you in the cold will come over the monitor and you'll know exactly how the rest of the day is going to pan out.

So, having forgone bounce and rhyme at the library, for fear of spreading our bugs, tooled up with cbeebies magazines and endured an entire episode of "Show Me Show Me" I managed to get a whining Evelyn up to bed for her nap. We'd not been delighting in each others company that morning she was annoyed that mummy wouldn't let her shred an entire box of tissues on the rug and I'd resorted to putting on radio 4 over lunch to have something to listen to other than my own tinnitus and her constant low level whinge. But as I held her in my arms, all bundled up in her sleeping bag, she gave me a big cuddle then looked at me and said "love you very much".


She's a wily old bird mother nature, just when you are questioning the entire concept of Human procreation, never mind the wisdom of your own involvement in it, your little one says I love you and it's the best medicine in the world.


Thursday, 6 October 2011

Myths, Legends and Caesarean Sections

or, How to Fail An NCT Class.

This article apeared on the BBC website last week, if you are Geeky enough to follow me on twitter you may have already seen me "tweeting" it.

The writer claims that antenatal classes can leave women unprepared for caesarian births and perpetuate the myths surrounding them, with the result that those who do find themselves under the knife can end up feeling guilty about it. While I doubt this is universally true, it certainly struck a chord with me.

I didn't attend any NHS antenatal classes* at our "booking in" appointment the midwife took one look at MrSB in a suit, in a deprived part of London and told us to: "join the NCT, to meet people like you." So we duly did. The basic logistics of a caesarean birth were covered, but with a distinct sense of distaste and the message that this was what would happen to you if you let those evil doctor types near you. If you were a healthy, western woman, who did her yoga and breathing exercises and stayed well away from said doctor types then there was no reason, or perhaps no excuse, for having a caesarean.

To be honest I hid my head in the sand about it and didn't seek out extra information on C-sections. I really really didn't want one and if the NCT, pregnancy yoga, hypnobirthing CDs etc. etc. all told me they'd reduce my chance of one then I was pretty much guaranteed one of those life enhancing "birth experience" thingies, right?

Now, I can appreciate that antenatal classes don't want to promote caesareans and that a natural birth is preferable for numerous reasons, but many many women end up with a C-section, so surely it is better that they are adequately prepared for it?

After my own experience, I think there is another important aspect to this that isn't covered in the article. Namely, the treatment of  women immediately after they've had an emergency caesarean. Admittedly I was rather away with some pretty ugly fairies at the time (actually a tiny moose running along the skirting board at one point), but I can't remember any of the midwives giving me a sympathetic smile and telling me it was ok I'd had to have surgery, or even giving me basic information on what it was or wasn't safe to do (it took more than a day to get someone to tell me if I could even have a shower, ich, never mind picking up the baby, driving etc. etc.). Add to that the seemingly endless stretches of night, pushing the buzzer for pain relief and being ignored and I got the impression that the postnatal ward staff thought I was, at best, an inconvenience.

Our NCT teacher was even less help. When, exactly two weeks after surgery, I agonisingly shuffled into our postnatal meetup, she asked how the birth had been, then asked to see my hands. After examining them, she hmmmed at them a bit and then implied that I probably didn't really need a C-section (answers on a postcard as to what the hand thing is about?!). Well perhaps I should forgive her ignorance, after all she hadn't actually seen the burly surgeon, legs braced against the operating table, applying his full body weight to the sink plunger on MissE's head in an unsuccessful attempt to get her out, but this, added to her take on all medical interventions in our previous classes, left me with the distinct impression that I was considered a failure.

Ok, mums have a bit of a reputation for feeling guilty about, well pretty much everything, but surely the way in which we became a mother shouldn't be one of those things and those who are supposed to inform and care for us both before and after that precious child arrives shouldn't treat those with some of the worst experiences like they've let everyone down.

 *Actually I did go to a talk on pain relief given by a terribly cute anesthetist; shame he wasn't on duty when the time came, that may have brightened the situation considerably ;o)

PS. Off soapbox now, promise to get back to cute pictures soon!

Monday, 3 October 2011

When We Were Two

It doesn't seem possible that another year has gone by already, and yet one year old Evelyn seems very, very long ago. This time last year she couldn't walk and could only manage a few words, most of them duck related, last week, after nursery, I sat down and had a conversation with her. Ok it wasn't Frost-Nixon but I asked her what she had done that day and she told me, one year old Evelyn would probably just have said "quack!"

After last years trip to a city farm for her birthday we decided to go one up on that this year and take her for her first trip to London Zoo. So of course, it being August in England, the heavens sent us a biblical deluge, I wouldn't have been surprised to see Noah with a clipboard just past the ticket line but on the plus side this meant the zoo was pretty quiet and the more sensible animals were taking shelter in the easy to view indoor areas. Que immense delight from Evelyn at seeing a Gorilla, sitting on a branch and actually eating a banana.

This excitement was only surpassed by the walk through monkey enclosure in which Evelyn screamed MONKEY! every time she saw one, getting several notes higher each time until we began to wonder if soon only the monkeys would hear her. 

After all that we gave her the traditional overdose of cake and then presents. Evelyn has now got the hang of this present thing and she greatly approves of it. I think this years favourite toy is a little tin tea set. You generally can't sit down for all that long in our house now before a little voice says "would you like a cup of tea please", hands you a tiny tin cup and waits expectantly for you to make appreciative slurping noises.
As if all that wasn't enough excitement she also had a little party the following weekend, the highlight of which was her and some of her NCT friends playing hunt the snail in our garden (to be honest it's not hard to find snails in our garden).

So that was that, Evelyn is two, can sing the happy birthday song competently and now thinks the sight of a candle should always be followed by cake and/or presents! She went around chanting "happy birthday Evelyn" to herself for weeks. Goodness knows how excited she'll be when she turns three but I'm in no rush to find out, two year old Evelyn is great fun.

A year on, but some things never change


Thursday, 29 September 2011

The Water in Menorca

As I left off talking about holidays, I may as well pick up there.

This Summer we braved our first ever family foreign holiday, it was also our first fly-n-flop style package holiday, not that there could be much flopping with Evelyn around!

Things I have learnt from this experience:

1- Never get seats 21 D-F on Thompson airways (right by the loo don't recline)
2- Actually if at all possible, unless you are under 4' 6" don't get a charter flight at all
3- It doesn't matter how much you try to wear Evelyn out, jumping about on a plane is far far more exciting than sleeping on one
4- The two most dangerous words in the English language are "dessert buffet"*
5- Much like the frog who will stay in a pot of water as it's slowly heated to boiling point, a toddler will stay in a swimming pool until they are blue with cold, and then get very annoyed with you for removing them and wrapping them in a warm cosy towel, and will then demand ice cream
6- Some people actually give their kids cola, in baby bottles *face palm*
7- Fred CAN actually survive for more than 48 hours without Internet access (who knew?)
8- There is a lot to be said for an exhausted child, a balcony and unlimited alcohol

Beyond that there isn't a huge amount to say, (just as well given how much else I need to update the blog on!) Our days were spent mostly in the pool and Evelyn, to my delight, has finally decided she likes water, we had a couple of day trips to towns on the Island and spent a bit of time getting covered in sand, we survived the flights and Fred and I came home feeling rather more relaxed, and rather more like we'd actually seen something of each other, than we have done in months.

Would I rather have been having a third crack at climbing Mulhacen or finally managing to bother some Lemurs in Madagascar? Hmmm toughy but to be honest I think no. Those things will hopefully still be possible in the future but after two years of new baby, house move, house renovations, major changes at work, tag-team parenting etc etc, a week of effort free food and booze, swimming pools and snide remarks about Germans and sun loungers was just what we needed.
International Evelyn

Who needs sun-cream when you have this much sand on you?



Throwing some shapes at Junior Disco

Exploring with Daddy

 *Dessert buffet joke copyright Fred

Peek -a- Boo!

Oh my it's been a long time again, since my last post.

We've had more work done on the house, braved our first family foreign holiday, had close encounters with monkeys, Evelyn has turned two (yes I know! how the heck did that happen) and Fred and I have learnt to kite surf*!

I'm not going to try to cover all of that in one post so consider this a promise that I will pull my finger out and update the blog a bit more in future.


*well when I say we learnt to kite surf, I mean we both managed to get on the boards briefly before being dragged on our faces through the estuary, but it was bloomin good fun!

Monday, 30 May 2011

The Wet Welly Years

This is perhaps becoming a bit of a recurring theme on this blog - one thing that really annoys me is how negative so many parents can be about being a parent. Recently I've heard a few people moan that they haven't really had a holiday in years because it doesn't count when you're running about after your kids the whole time.

Before we had Evelyn we went on holiday a lot. We were fortunate to graduate at a time when the euro was weak, budget airlines actually were budget, and to be honest our standards were pretty low. So in the space of a year we'd easily cram in a week skiing, a couple of city breaks, a three week expedition to somewhere requiring vaccinations and a drunken winter weekend in a cottage in the country with a bunch of friends.

It is true that things are a bit different now. For one thing the cost of travel (and our standards) are somewhat higher these days, (I'm just not prepared to have to kill my bed with 100% Deet before I get in it anymore) and having a baby, now toddler, has changed things. But shhh don't tell anyone - it can be a good thing!

I'm not saying I don't miss our old holiday habits and I hope that when Evelyn is older we'll be able to introduce her to the sort of trips we used to take, then one day leave her behind while we take them again ourselves. I'd also be lying if I said that taking a toddler on holiday isn't actually more exhausting than having one at home,  but much as I'd love another few weeks in South America or nights in romantic mountainside restaurants in Andalusia, I have done those things.

A big part of travel for me has always been trying something new. A week in March on a farm in Cornwall may not immediately hold the same appeal as backpacking in Asia, but it is ultimately a new experience. Having Evelyn has meant stepping out of the pattern we were forming and trying a different sort of new. It may seem very ordinary but if you're 19 months old and live in London then getting on a tractor in the morning to go and feed some lambs is every bit as amazing as seeing the sun rise over the Tikal pyramids, and watching that amazement is pretty awesome too.

Those of us lucky enough to have a child, have such a tiny little window in our lives when they are small and will scream with delight at the sight of a pig. So let's embrace the wet welly and donkey sanctuary years and the ordinary pleasure of seeing our children having fun. The beaches, mountains and smart hotels will most likely still be there for us when the little ones are all grown up and off having adventures of their own.


Sunday, 15 May 2011

Czech Out This New Research!

I'm sorry, that's a terrible pun....

Last year I had a bit of a rant about the thyroid problem I developed after having Evelyn and the apparent ignorance of the condition shown by the medical professionals involved in my care. So it was interesting to read about a study conducted by a team in Prague (you see where that pun came from now?) looking into screening for the condition in early pregnancy.

The team followed healthy women who tested positive for a particular antibody in the early stages of pregnancy and found that 36% of them had developed thyroid disorders by the time their babies were 22 months old. The investigators concluded that all women found to be positive for the antibody in pregnancy should be routinely monitored postpartum so that any thyroid problems can be quickly picked up and treated.

This was a fairly small study and didn't get a great deal of coverage but I was very interested to read the BBC article about it in which a spokesperson for the Royal College of Midwives seemed rather skeptical of the need for thyroid screening. I agree that a larger study is needed, but not with her assertion that:

"In the UK we have a comprehensive programme of antenatal care from as early as possible in pregnancy.
"This gives us a good baseline to monitor women throughout pregnancy and immediately after pregnancy."

At least in our part of London you don't normally see anyone for the first three months of pregnancy and my thyroid condition was picked up by a friend many months after Evelyn was born having been completely missed by all the medical professionals I'd already seen. Had she not spotted it I suspect it would never have been diagnosed.

Now there are far worse conditions to have but it can have a big impact on your ability to cope with the already demanding task of looking after a small baby. More seriously, if untreated, it can cause problems for future pregnancies included an increased chance of miscarriage in those unmonitored first months.

I had to give a heck of a lot of blood samples during pregnancy, sadly non of them were for the antibody that could have indicated this potential problem, I for one would have been quite happy to have given up a few more mls and had a bit more monitoring to have avoided 9 months of feeling hopeless, old and exhausted.


Monday, 18 April 2011

Dara O'Briain and the NCT

I keep thinking I'll write a post about our NCT classes and how the people we met were invaluable but the stuff we were taught was, especially if you're a scientist, rather questionable at times. As a colleague of mine put it "the NCT - the most expensive group of friends you'll every buy".

Fortunately, it seems Dara O'Briain has saved me the time in actually writing this down and done a much better job and with much more humor, on one of his tours  (BTW he also has a science degree).

If you've ever been to these classes or wondered what goes on at them - enjoy:

PS. Many thanks to Gemma for sending this to me

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Mother's Day

Today is mothering Sunday in the UK. I've been properly spoiled and yeah I feel like us Mums deserve it, but I've also been reminded, while tucking into my breakfast in bed and trying to prevent toddler v crockery chaos, that things could have been very different. If I didn't have the incredible good luck to have been born in a western country not only would I not be getting croissants and chocolates, I wouldn't be alive. 

Evelyn's birth was far from straight forward, it was long, exhausting and of course painful. Hoards of medical professionals tried just about every intervention in the book, finally resorting to spending thousands of NHS pounds on cutting me open. It was a truly awful experience, but at the end of it I was alive and so was my beautiful baby. I am a very very lucky woman, in another place or time I would have died a long and horrible death. 

Sadly many women are not as lucky as me, here are some pretty unpleasant facts: 

1000 women die EVERY day due to complications of pregnancy and childbirth. That means the death toll in one year is greater than that of the recent Japanese earthquake and the 2004 Asian tsunami combined.

 A girl in the African country of Chad is more likely to die in childbirth than to attend secondary school.

In Afghanistan the lifetime risk of maternal death has actually increased in recent years, it's now 1 in 8 (In Sweden it is 1 in 17,400).

Even in wealthy countries, poor women are dying in childbirth. There are 40 countries with lower maternal death rates than the USA and African American women are four times more likely to die this way than white American women. 

There are many more facts like this and if you'd like to read more about the subject and what could perhaps be done about it try these organisations (from where I got the information):

I was "saved" by major surgery but there was nothing heroic about it, it was all very routine for the hospital staff involved. In other countries women are dying needlessly because of far more minor complications. The NHS is a massively unwieldy and deeply flawed organisation, most of us in the UK have to rely on it, if only everyone else in the world was that lucky.

So happy mothers day to all the Mums reading this, I hope you've had a little treat or maybe even a lie in, it's a great job, but a tough one and you deserve that bit of recognition. Lets hope that one day soon, even if all the Mums in the world don't get a special day and a bunch a flowers, they at least have the chance to survive and watch their babies grow. 


Friday, 4 March 2011

100 Birthday Parties

I don't suppose that my Nan has actually had 100 birthday parties, but last month was her 100th Birthday and Evelyn was there for the party. I'm not sure who had the most fun, but I think it was a close run thing between my cousin's little girls, who had their very own walking talking dolly for the day, or Evelyn who does rather like getting lots of attention!

Anyway, here are a few pics
So, can we get the Great Grandchildren to all look at the camera?
Of course not! Even the mums aren't paying attention!

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

The Blue Monkey Test

Imagine a blue monkey
Now, Imagine a red elephant.
Now, DON'T imagine a blue monkey

Did you think of the monkey again?

Tut tut

It's odd the bits of advice that stick in your mind. Long before we had Evelyn I heard someone on TV (and I'm afraid I can't remember who it was in order to credit it) use the little trick above to illustrate their ideas on how you should talk to toddlers. Their point being that telling a small child not to do something will only plant the idea in their mind and make them more likely to do it, even if they are not making a conscious decision to be naughty. So for example it's better to say "keep the drink in the cup" than "don't spill the drink on the floor".

This has come to mind again recently now that Evelyn has well and truly moved from baby to toddler. In the past any unwelcome behaviour was just a matter of crying for want of some basic need or because the world is strange and scary and full of things you'd like to eat but shouldn't, really don't want to eat but should or that just plain hurt when you bump into them. So, frustrating, annoying and headache inducing though it could be, I really couldn't feel angry at her, and in my more sympathetic moments, felt rather sorry for her.

It's a little tougher to be sympathetic when you've picked up all the crayons twice already, told her to keep them on the table and then realise that she is holding them out and just waiting to catch your eye before hurling them to the ground again. To be fair this kind of thing happens rarely and I know that it is an inevitable part of her growing into an individual and testing the boundaries of this new found sense of self, but it does mean that I'm now starting to think about the best way to deal with it and this leads us back to advice.

The problem is there is so much of it out there now, much of it contradicting what others say is the incontrovertible truth. The Gina Ford is God/Satan debate has been very well trodden for babies and I suspect there are equally devoted tribes of thought when it comes to toddler parenting. A lot of people seem to have very very strong feelings about which tribe is best and to be honest I tend to find myself somewhere in the middle most of the time. So I've not yet reached for any toddler books (not saying I won't - I just haven't had to yet!).

That said I was very pleased to stumble upon this website recently. It collates scientific evidence from anthropology, psychology, neurology etc. into articles that hopefully give a more evidence based approach to parenting advice than what is offered by the the personal experiences and philosophies of some of the parenting gurus. It also just so happens to agree with a lot of what I thought already, which, I suspect is how most parenting tribes recruit their new devotees anyway. Oh and it has references and everything, just like proper science!

Hmm, there is attachment parenting, routine driven parenting, I wonder if there is a Geek parenting tribe I can join?


Friday, 28 January 2011

Previously (not) on The Blog...

Gosh it's been a while! Not that it's felt like it as time is just whooshing past us at the moment, but we've all been very busy so I'll just use this post for a quick catch up.

Since the last post we've finished off work on the living room and dining, taking us from this:

Before we moved in, thick textured wallpaper and a massive fake stone gas fire

Very toddler friendly glass arch

Via this:

Behind the fake stone fireplace - we found a fake wood one!
And behind the wallpaper, lots of holes and some odd wooden panelling
Under the carpet however were some rather lovely boards!

To this:

We've also had our first Christmas in our new home. In fact it was our first Christmas ever in our own home and it was rather lovely. For Christmas day itself there was just the three of us, we had a nice but not massive Christmas dinner, a walk in the park and then settled in by the fire with the films on TV. Evelyn is still too young to understand what's going on, but she's certainly got the hang of presents and had a wonderful time ripping off the paper, playing with her new toys and playing with the cardboard tubes the paper had been wrapped around, these are currently something of a favourite!

Ok - which ones are mine???

Presents with Daddy - good thing we got that chimney opened up!
Working off Christmas dinner at the park
mmm cosy

It's been a period of massive changes for Evelyn too and I think we've now just about swapped the label of "baby" for "toddler". In addition to the walking, which is now pretty proficient (and slightly less like an extra from Shaun of the Dead),  her vocabulary is expanding daily and she currently uses 82 recognisable words. We don't count any that she just repeats in songs etc and doesn't know the meaning of, but there are a lot of them too and she can give a reasonable approximation of at least half a dozen nursery rhymes (ok I'll stop being the gushing parent now). She's also experienced her first chance to play in the snow!

What on EARTH is this Mummy?

Next up for the house is our bedroom - work started there this week and next up for Evelyn is of course more and more words and walking backwards which she was trying out yesterday, much to her own amusement!