13 Months Old

At a tiny pal's birthday party.

At a tiny pal’s birthday party.

Deary me, it’s time for another monthly update already. Alexandra is 13 months old today – where did that month since her birthday go? This month Alex:

  • Has perfected her climbing skills. She can now climb off the sofa and the bed, climb on to the sofa and the windowsill, and likes to climb on to tables whenever she gets half a chance. Basically if you take your eyes off her for half a millisecond she’ll find somewhere to shimmy up.
  • Still hasn’t got any more teeth. Although there are signs one of the top two is coming through. Update: I wrote this on Tuesday then the day after the corner of the top one popped through!
  • Has been busy growing her hair. It’s really lovely and thick now. Every few weeks we decide on a different celebrity she looks like: for a while it was old-school Justin Bieber with the flicky fringe, then it grew into a Gallagher brothers barnet and now it’s most definitely the same hairstyle as Pauline Quirke. We’ve been calling her Pauline for the last couple of weeks which must be fairly confusing for the poor child!
  • Possibly has worms. She wants to eat non-stop. We took her out to a buffet place for lunch on Monday as Dylan was off and I swear she ate more than the two of us combined!
  • Is even cheekier than before. She knows if she’s doing something wrong and keeps glancing back and grinning, wondering if you’ll catch her. I’ve spent the entire month picking up things she’s thrown/broken/moved out of their correct place/hidden.
  • Has become much better at walking. She now hardly crawls anywhere and spends about 70 per cent of the time walking holding on to something or someone and the other 30 walking unaided.

She’s got such a little funny personality now and although it’s hard work keeping up with her as she wants to mess with EVERYTHING all the time, she’s really good most the time and an enjoyable little person to spend time with!

Harriet and Alexandra x

The Wedding: Baby Logistics

Flower girls Alexandra and my goddaughter Izzy.

Flower girls Alexandra and my goddaughter Izzy.

You might have noticed things have been a little slack around here of late. A huge reason for that is myself and Dylan got married at the weekend! Finally husband and wife after an epic journey to get to that point. I’d like to do a post or two about the wedding and one of the things I’d like to concentrate on, considering this is a baby blog, is the logistics of having a small child when you’re planning a wedding.

The first time round (quick summary: booked our wedding in November 2014 for the following September, found out planned pregnancy had happened quicker than expected in January 2015, brought the honeymoon forward to May 2015, decided to leave the wedding up to fate so could either have a huge bump or tiny baby there, ended up cancelling two days before due to me being poorly, re-booked for September 24, 2016), we were fairly positive I’d just have a big bump so there would be nothing to worry about apart from potentially my waters breaking. Had we had Alexandra early but still been able to go ahead with the wedding, I have no idea how it would have gone but I guess we would have got through somehow!

This time, we knew we would have a one-year-old with us during the day and that of course presented extra logistical difficulties. It also made it even more special too! In the end it all went amazingly and although we’ve had a very tired baby to deal with for the rest of the weekend, she coped excellently with the day. She was up two hours earlier than normal and only napped once, meaning she was awake from 6.30am to 11am then 12pm to around 9.30pm before finally going to sleep and waking up for the last half an hour.

Having been there and done it, I’d say the most successful things we did were:
– Taking her booster seat with us so she could sit in between my parents during the meal. We asked them in advance to help feed her so we didn’t have to worry about it!
– Also taking one of those long sleeved bibs with us so none of her dinner got on her dress.
– Taking a spare dress with us. I was really surprised that she lasted until about 8.30ish in her original dress. I hadn’t actually held her all day cause she was with all our family and friends but about 20 seconds after I picked her up for the first time, she was sick all down her dress. Luckily we’d taken a spare and equally luckily, she wasn’t sick on my dress (I hadn’t got a spare!).
– Having the pram with us. She dropped off to sleep in it in the corner of the marquee and my dad very kindly kept an eye on her while she was napping. It also worked well cause it meant when she was getting a little grumpy pre-nap, people could push her round in it to soothe her.
– Toys! We had an activity case full of different toys and a games area outside so not only was Alex kept occupied, all the other little ones there were too.
– We’d originally planned to keep her in with us at the hotel on the night but she ended up sleeping in my mom’s room which was great as it meant we could chat all about the day when we got back rather than worrying about waking her up talking. Then in the morning we had the chance to pack up the room which was full of various people’s make up, toiletries etc from getting ready the day before – without small hands grabbing stuff left, right and centre!

Overall I think the prospect of having a one-year-old at your wedding was a lot more daunting than the reality and she had a whale of a time with all our friends and family!

Harriet and Alexandra x

They Know

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Children, especially small babies, are quite stupid. That much is obvious – they’ve just not been around on this planet long enough to learn how to make sensible decisions. Thus they do things you or I may consider idiotic – repeatedly banging their head against something hard, launching themselves face first off the sofa or bed on to the floor, throwing something and then crying because they want it back.

But actually, babies are also incredibly emotionally smart and that’s why no one (well hardly anyone) leaves their baby in a wicker basket on the steps of a church anymore with a little note asking the vicar to care for them. It’s because they’re super good at guilt-tripping you into liking them even when they’re being little shits (well that and the fact CCTV is everywhere these days, you’d never get away with it!).

They know when you’re just about to pick up your phone and start Googling which boarding schools might consider a 12.5 month old student (hopefully ones that don’t send them home for the holidays). They know when you lying on the floor crying is one of those times when you’ll get back up again in two minutes and act fine for the rest of the day, or when it’s going to be one of those times where you’ve actually had enough and you’re going to lie there sobbing for the whole day so they won’t get fed until dad comes home. They know when you’re eyeing up the car wondering how long it would take you to get to the remote Scottish Highlands, drop the baby off on a mountain summit and drive back on your own in SILENCE.

They know when you’ve absolutely reached the end of your patience (and when you’re just saying it). And that’s when BAM they turn on the charm offensive. Your kid can have been the snottiest, loudest, stroppiest, most annoying, unco-operative little thing in the world for the entire day. But the second your internal emotional dial switches from ‘this is not how I wanted today to go’ to ‘I’m actually leaving home’ they suddenly become an absolutely angel. Then it’s all kisses and cuddles (even though they never give them usually), giggles, coy smiles and maybe even showing off a new skill they’ve used. Within seconds you find yourself apologising to them for your behaviour and promising to be a better mommy in future.

Please tell me this isn’t just my child?

Harriet and Alexandra x

Kids’ TV

Apparently this is how we watch television.

Apparently this is how we watch television.

Up until quite recently, we’d managed to quite successfully avoid exposing Alexandra to much television. Not that I’m judging people who do, I just severely judge kids’ TV itself! She’d seen her fair share of films when she was a tiny and used to stay downstairs with us until we went to bed and also watched the first series of Man in the High Castle with us (never too early to teach them a bit about Nazis!) but as we don’t normally watch much TV until later in the evenings we hadn’t really had it on when she was awake once she slept in her own room.

Then we got to this stage where firstly I’m working from home during the day so there’s inevitably some time where she needs to amuse herself and secondly she’s worked out how to operate the TV! Hiding the remotes is no good as she then uses the buttons on the screen itself (I didn’t even know there were buttons on the screen!), trying to block the way to the TV with toys is no good because she then climbs over them to reach it.

This is a problem in two ways: one that our TV/stand is constantly covered in grubby handprints no matter how many times a week I clean it, the other that I’m then forced to listen to what she’s watching!

We don’t have it on that often but when we do I find myself getting overly worked up about how ridiculous it is. Today I saw a boy walking to the park with his granddad. Why is this television? The worst of it was they were walking holding hands and the camera clearly wanted to focus on the boy’s face so it was at an extremely awkward height for the granddad and us viewers were treated to plenty of crotch shots. Grim.

Topsy and Tim irritates me no end, mainly because of their names. Who has twins and calls one a ‘regular’ fairly common name like Tim then plucks Topsy out the air for the other one? Plus I really want to know what’s happened to their dad but don’t feel like there’s ever going to be a ‘the day mom found out dad was having it off with his secretary’ episode (correct me if I’m wrong, I haven’t watched any of the past episodes).

Then there’s some weird programme about a granddad who shrinks himself using a magic hat. Somehow their parents (who seem to think it’s fine to ‘pop’ out for the entirety of the episode even though granddad goes ‘for a nap’ leaving the children to fend for themselves) don’t notice a tiny version of the old bloke running around, flying toy planes etc. Even though the boy is talking to him for the whole time?

Don’t even get me started on the presenters – definitely all on drugs (allegedly. If I learned one thing from my journalism career, it’s add the word allegedly on to any claim you make!)

Harriet and Alexandra x

Food Glorious Food

Not even ashamed of her disgusting eating habits!

Not even ashamed of her disgusting eating habits!

Way back in May I wrote a little about how Alexandra’s weaning journey was going (here) and promised I would come back at some point with an update. Now I’m not even sure we can call it weaning anymore as she’s a full-time eater, no-milk drinker? But anyway, here’s a post about Alex and food:

A girl after my own heart, she absolutely loves food and has never refused anything that’s been put in front of her. Her favourite is anything bread-related, I think she’d live on bread if we let her. She definitely loves her treats but is also very good about eating vegetables, fruit and anything healthy.

I can’t say how often I’ve felt thankful that she’s completely taken eating in her stride and we’ve had no major worries with her up to now. I’m sure that may change and she could end up being one of those teenagers who only eat chips. But for now, on the eating front (and the other ‘biggies’ like sleep) we’ve been hugely lucky. I feel like this will trip us up at some point when we’re not expecting it (I guess the next big hurdle is toilet training, maybe it’ll take her til she’s 15 to learn how to use a potty?)

A lot of the time, she prefers to feed herself which basically leaves a scene akin to just throwing the bowl of food over the carpet and walls. But at least she’s having fun right? If we give her a spoon with food on it she (mostly) can get it in her mouth. We haven’t really attempted to get her to actually put the food on the spoon but I guess that’s the next stage. We’ll be stocking up on even more 1001 carpet cleaner (other brands are available) before doing so. The plastic mat I bought from Poundland when she started weaning has saved us from a lot of heartache so far!

So, all in all, a positive report there on a baby who LOVES her food – but it’s okay cause thigh rolls on babies are cute!

Harriet and Alexandra x

One Year Old!

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Yesterday we celebrated Alexandra’s birthday so we are now the proud parents of a lovely one year old! As ever, here’s a post about what she’s been learning this month and where she’s at with everything. I swear I do these differently each month, sometimes as a list, sometimes as big paragraphs. Let’s go for sections each time:

Eating:
The most important thing! Since we started weaning her six months ago, she’s been a pro at trying different foods and we still haven’t found anything she point blank refuses to eat. She has three meals a day and sometimes snacks but doesn’t have a regular snack time. We dropped down to one bottle a day around 11 months and then last week we finished a box of formula (and I’d never intended for her to have formula or a bottle past one) so dropped the last bottle. It was weird seeing her drink the last one! It’s so tied in with ‘baby-hood’ that it feels like a bit of a landmark moment. She hasn’t been bothered whatsoever about this, if she wants milk in future I will give cow’s milk in a cup but she drinks so much water and has plenty of diary in her diet so I haven’t tried to force her to have any!

Playing:
She’s had lots of new toys for her birthday which she is loving! Including lots of toys for the garden such as a trampoline, sand pit, inflatable skittles, ball pool (which also comes inside) and a pop up tent. She’s also had lots of interactive ones like talking teddies, a tea set, activity table and some incredibly cute cuddly toys too! Alex absolutely loves playing with balloons! And her favourite non-toy toys are the radiator caps still, any cupboard she can get to and – bizarrely – coat hangers (she still hasn’t offered to do the ironing though?)

Routine:
Napping has got SO much better in the last month. She’s now going down in her cot upstairs rather than down in the lounge with me which is meaning she’s generally doing two one-hour naps a day. This has helped me with planning my days so much more! And has made her much less grumpy in the day. So generally she’s up about 8, breakfast around 9, nap around 10, lunch about 12/1, maybe another nap in the afternoon at some point, sometimes if she’s super tired a third shorter nap about 5, dinner about half 6, bed at half 8.

Talking:
She only says mama to me and dada to Dylan so we’re pretty convinced she knows what they mean. She’s also getting there with nana and a couple of times she’s said baba to her little cousin. Other ‘words’ like yeah and no happen at random times so I’m not counting them yet!

Walking:
Alex is still slightly unsteady on her feet when she’s standing but she’s doing it all the time now and is good at pulling herself up (sometime going from sitting to standing without holding on to something) and lowering herself down. She keeps taking one or two steps. I think as with the sitting and crawling, one day it will all just click into place and she’ll be off! She’ll now walk along if you hold both her hands, which she’d never do before. She’d just start bouncing if you tried to get her to do it.

Misc:
Still only two teeth, she had her first trip to the dentist last week and was very intrigued by everything in there!
She’s discovered pointing so spends most of her day either doing this, clapping or waving.
Swings are still the best thing in the world!
At last weigh-in she was 20lb 15 putting her on the 75th centile which she’s been following for months now, so all fine there.

I think that covers most of the main things!

Harriet and Alexandra x

Dating Before And After A Baby

On an actual date. On our own. Talking about the baby of course!

On an actual date. On our own. Talking about the baby of course!

Dates before a baby:

‘Hey wanna go out somewhere tonight?’
‘Sure, what shall we do?’
‘Let’s just decide later, we’ll go out about eight.’
Start getting ready about six, wash hair leisurely, maybe use that nice new hair mask you got. Blow dry it then style it nicely. Spend a while picking out your outfit. Full face of make up. Matching jewellery.
Head off around eight.
Decide to go for a bit of a drive and end up at a pub miles from home.
Talk about how your day’s been, family, friends, holidays, politics, anything really.
Enjoy a few hours in the beer garden.
Get back in the car and decide to go on a detour.
Don’t arrive home until the early hours.
Lie in the next morning.

Dates after having a baby:

‘We’ve got a babysitter on June 23, 2024. We have three hours to ourselves, let’s book something now.’
‘We need to be within ten minutes of home and make sure the place has excellent phone signal.’
Feed, bath and change baby taking you up until 15 minutes before you’re meant to be leaving the house.
Think you should probably start getting ready.
Baby decides to do an explosive poo and then tries to crawl off four times while you change her.
Jump in the shower for approximately 2.7 seconds, holding a bath toy in one hand to entertain your child who’s stood at the side of the bath trying to climb in.
Put on the first thing you reach that vaguely fits, is clean and doesn’t make you look too much like you’re still pregnant.
Brush hair. That’ll do.
Get excited you can wear jewellery cause the baby’s not going to be there trying to pull it off. Wear the biggest piece of jewellery you own, even if it doesn’t match your outfit at all.
Set off half an hour late, after having run through all the instructions three times with babysitter: feeding times, bed time routine, what to do if there’s a fire, what makes baby laugh/cry, what to do if there’s a zombie invasion. Of course making sure your phone number is clearly written in at least five places in the house.
Get round the corner, wonder if you should call to check if baby’s okay.
Arrive at your destination. Order something with mash on the menu even if it’s not your favourite, because it’s the baby’s favourite and you’ve forgotten they’re not with you.
Talk about baby poo and sick.
Decide not to talk about the baby for a while. Last three seconds before you remember you haven’t told your other half about that really adorable thing she did the other day.
Phone babysitter. They don’t answer on the first ring, immediately assume the worst.
Get home before 11pm. Decide to lie in tomorrow, at least til 6.30am.

Harriet and Alexandra x

Who Supports You?

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Hello all, a bonus blog for you this week to talk about some fabulous awards that I think are a great idea!

One of the key words surrounding this whole parenting journey we’re all on (apart from sick, poo and sleep) is support. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve talked/thought about how vital having a great support system around you is. Life can be confusing, worrying, stressful and hard even when you just have yourself to care for; throw in a tiny person who can’t do anything for themselves, doesn’t stick to a schedule and produces a lot of poo and sick (see I told you those words were pretty key too!), and it’s quite frankly an absolute miracle all us new moms manage to function on any level!

Anyone who’s read my past posts will know I didn’t get the start most moms get. I didn’t walk out of hospital in the first couple of days, have two weeks with Dylan on paternity leave and then get left mostly by myself to figure out how to keep the baby alive weekdays 9am til 5pm. Our start to family life was a lot more complicated and that’s why I am more grateful than I can ever say to everyone who helped us during that time. Of course, there was the fabulous Dylan who became Mr Mom and did everything I should have been doing, everything he should have been doing and a million, billion other things. There was my mom who took months off work to be there every day for Alexandra, for me and for Dylan. There was my sister Henrietta and her other half Ben who stopped at ours, did overnight feeds (and cheered me up – the first thing Henrietta said to me when she saw me in intensive care was ‘nice eyebrows’ – they were pretty horrific to be fair!). There was my dad who took every Wednesday off work when I got home to come over and help me run errands. There were my besties Manda and Beccy who had a girly sleepover with Alex – all the more remarkable seen as Manda doesn’t actually like babies!

There were the NCT couples who were just beyond fabulous: they organised food parcels for Dylan that we were still making our way through weeks after I got home! They looked after Alex and took her to baby sensory and were just the most supportive friends you could ever hope to have in that situation even though they were all new parents themselves. There were countless other friends who stepped in to have her for an hour or two. There was Dylan’s family who came over to help out, do night feeds and keep Dylan somewhat sane. There was the rest of my family. There were many, many friends who kept our spirits up, dragged us through the worst days and helped us along the way to being reunited as a family.

So you see, support is a massive, massive thing for me.

That’s why I think the Real World Parenting Awards are such a fab idea. There are two categories: one for a health professional who has gone above and beyond to help a new mom, and one for supportive family and friends.

If a nurse, doctor, midwife or health visitors has been dedicated, compassionate and hard working – making a real difference to your life as a new mom, then do think about nominating them! The awards are supported by an educational grant from Infacol and the winning professional receives £1,000 from the Primary Care Society for Gastroenterology to further their career or chosen area of research. Those nominating them are in with a chance of winning a short break at Knoll House.

To enter, simply e-mail competitions@satellitepr.com with the person’s name, workplace (if it’s a health professional you’re nominating) and the reason you’re putting this person forward by Wednesday, August 31. Winners will be announced in November.

Harriet and Alexandra x

Going for Gold: Baby Olympics

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Have you been watching Rio 2016? I have and I’ve absolutely been loving it! My favourite is watching the swimming but of course I tuned in to the athletics to see how Mo, Jess, Usain etc got on (yeah I’m clearly on first names basis with them all!). I didn’t see as much of the tennis as I’d have liked (missed all of Wimbledon as well!) but never mind. What a fab few weeks of sport!

Anyway, to get this back on topic and relevant to babies. While I was watching I got to thinking about the Baby Olympics and what kinds of sports they’d have which Alexandra would definitely excel in. I reckon she’d be a gold medallist in the following:

Baby Throw-down: the idea of this sport is to throw as many items on the floor in two minutes as you can, while your opposition (ie mom) attempts to put the items back into their rightful place. Ten points for every item on the floor when the buzzer goes.

The crawl off: the rules here are you must wait until the second your nappy is taken off (it counts as a false start if any competitor begins while their nappy is still on) and then crawl/roll/shuffle as far a way as possible in the quickest time. Points accumulate the longer you manage to escape for.

The nappy wiggle: this can be played just after the crawl off and involves you suddenly becoming an octopus while your competitor attempts to put your nappy back on. Extra points if you escape more than once. Triple points if you manage to reach and spread around the deposits in your last nappy. Automatic gold if you can poo again while your nappy’s off.

Hide and seek: we all know putting a bright pink blanket over your head while you’re sat a metre away from your opposition (ie your parents) renders you invisible to the human eye. The longer you can stay sat there with your blanket on your head, the more points you gain. Extra points if you can shriek loudly throughout the game and/or fall over as you’re so excited while your parents continue saying ‘where’s Alex? Where’s she gone?’ because they DEFINITELY can’t see or hear you.

So there you have it, some of my initial ideas for the Baby Olympics!

Harriet and Alexandra x

Shelf Life

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Often when I make bigger purchases, I wonder how long they’re going to last. It’s inevitable I suppose! And you can’t always rely on what it says on the packaging as obviously they’re going to insist your baby will still be using their bouncer when they’re 27 cause they want to sell you their product! So here’s a little list of how long we used items for in the hope it informs you a little about (a) whether to buy things at all, and (b) how much to spend on stuff.

I also did a blog a very long time ago about things we’d found completely unnecessary (here) and things we’d loved (here), although I will probably do some update posts soon! So you might find those handy if you missed them first time round! 

Bouncer: when we first got this, she barely spent any time in it at all and when she was in it, she was slumped to one side so we’d have to put blankets round her to keep her vaguely in the right position. Since she’s been moving and able to throw herself off the sofa, she’s been using the bouncer for her daytime naps and she’s still doing so.

Moses basket: some people say they’re a waste of money because they only last five minutes. Alex stayed in hers until she was six months old when she went into her own room in her cot. And she wasn’t a particularly short baby.

First size car seat: she still uses this when she’s going in a different car, although she’s been in her ‘big girl’ Maxi Cosi Two Way Pearl in daddy’s car from about six months.

Pram: we swapped from a proper lie down carrycot style pram (part of a travel system) again at around six months and she’s been using her buggy (a Joie Nitro) ever since.

Sling: Alex went in this whenever we went on walks in the countryside from about three months until about a month or so ago (so around ten months) just because she’s on the 75th centile so quite a heavy baby to lug around! My nephew is now getting the use out of our old sling, although it wasn’t a particularly expensive one so I’m sure if you invested more (and used it much more regularly to get used to it) you could make it last longer.

High chair: from six months and still using it now, although she alternates between that and her booster seat so I can see us getting rid fairly soon.

Baby bath/bath chair: the baby bath didn’t get any use from about four/five months, simply because I found it much easier to have her in the seat in the big bath. We stopped using that once she could sit completely unaided for a long time at around eight months, and she’s just sat in the big bath ever since.

Jumparoo: this was packed away about a month ago but she hadn’t used it for a fair few weeks and it was just taking up space in our living room. Once she was crawling and cruising she kind of lost interest in it, although she still loves bouncing on the bed or jumping up and down when she’s stood up.

That’s the main items I can think of that we’ve stopped using, with a few that are still going strong.

Harriet and Alexandra x