The chewing monster

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This pretty much sums Ralphie up these days. That boy will try and chew anything – books, fingers, toes, daddy’s face, my face. He’s uncontrollable!

I don’t want to be one of those over-cautious parents who wraps their child up in cotton wool, but I do find myself moving a little bit too quickly to stop him from putting the toys at our baby groups in his mouth. And I must admit I do shudder inside when I see other little ones chowing down on the nearest object that falls within their grasp. I don’t even want to think about what happens at nursery!

Just think of the germs. We’ve already had more than our fair share of colds these past five months. We’re battling one as we speak. Loaded up with Calpol, Ralphie’s currently snoring away. And I’ve treated myself to a mug of Lemsip. I was meant to be doing the ironing, but it can always wait until tomorrow, or the day after. Actually, who cares if we wear wrinkled clothes…

Anyway, back to my chewing monster. He’s really quite hilarious! These last few days he’s started doing this shaking, biting face when he gets close to Ryan’s nose – a bit like a puppy with a chew toy. I do hope it’s something he grows out of. We find it quite endearing, but I can’t imagine many others would, particularly if they end up being the next victim.

And poor Mr Polar Bear, Mr Fox and Mr Lion (goodness knows why we don’t own any female animal members yet!). They really do take the brunt of Ralphie’s chomping habit. In fact, the only time they are safe is when he’s sleep. It gives them time to recover and dry off.

Seeing the older babies at our groups, I know this chewing habit is here to stay for a good while yet. I’m already looking around the house wondering how I’m going to hide everything away when Ralphie is on the move. Let the baby proofing begin. I may as well stock up on more Calpol too.

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To post, or not to post?

Today, I posted my 1,000th photo on Instagram. No prizes for guessing whom it was of!

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In the grand scheme of things, it’s a relatively small milestone. But it has made me reflect on the choice I’ve made to share Ralphie so publicly with you all – one square at a time.

As with most things, it started little by little. Bursting with happiness, I announced his birth across my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts. I also set up a private album on Moment Garden for sharing photos with close family and friends. I still use it to this day and intend to long into the future. It’s brilliant for keeping everyone in the loop on Ralphie’s development, and it’s ideal for posting stuff you perhaps wouldn’t necessarily want to put into the public domain.

If you scroll back through my Instagram feed, you will see a noticeable progression from me posting the odd photo of Ralphie to what I have today – which although still very much amateurish, is an unashamed portfolio of my little boy and the amazing outfits he wears. Most we’ve bought for him, but, as is becoming more the case, many have also been gifted to him in return for the photos I post.

Why do I do it? Well, I guess firstly it’s pride. Plus, we enjoy it; I love taking photos of the little guy, and he is more than happy for me to, especially when I sing and make him laugh. It also perfectly complements what I’m doing with this¬†blog. And it makes complete financial sense! This boy grows out of his clothes fast, and I am on maternity leave, after all.

The brand rep searches were a big driver. As each post got more and more likes, I decided to try our luck at representing some baby clothing brands, and we’ve been pretty successful. I feel privileged to work with some amazing people and support the work they do.

My profession has undeniably impacted my perception towards social media and how comfortable I am using it. Although I wouldn’t necessarily class myself as an expert, I use social media all the time in my job, and that has filtered through into my personal life too.

But the fact that I am writing this shows that I’m a bit conflicted. In the last few days alone, a few instances of people sharing photos of Ralphie without my permission has made me question whether or not I’m doing the right thing. Yes, my profile is public, but it doesn’t mean you can take my photos.

And what if these photos are seen and used by the wrong people? Well, at the risk of sounding incredibly naive, all they are seeing is a fully dressed baby. Unless you know us personally, I like to think there’s not really a huge amount you can deduce from my photos about our day-to-day life.

There are a lot of bad people in this world, but there is also a great deal of good. On a daily basis, my Instagram feed and the community I interact with is about celebrating the good in life. Yes, people may be on there for all the wrong reasons, but there are also a great many more on there for all the right reasons.

As my son grows, I may change my mind about the way I present him, or don’t present him, on social media. For now, though, I think I’m happy with what I’m doing.

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Things every new mum should have

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Last night, a close friend of mine asked me for some baby shower gift ideas – something that’s useful, a little bit different from the norm, and won’t break the bank. Ralphie was asleep, Ryan was watching the football, so I got to work. Unsurprisingly, I got a bit carried away.

I thought it’d be a shame not to share my research, so here it is – a readymade baby shower gift list!

Muslin cloths: Any new mum will need a lot of these. The Aden and Anais range is a little more pricey than your traditional white ones, but their prints are gorgeous. For the monochrome lovers out there, you can’t go wrong with Modern Burlap.

Baby blanket: Because one just won’t be enough; one messy poo or puke and you’re done for. I’m a real sucker for a good baby blanket, but some of the best I’ve seen are from Turtledove London, Bee Bee’s Boutique, and Tobias and the Bear.

Teething necklace: A perfect but not completely obvious gift for mum and baby, and it’s stylish yet practical! Most necklaces have beads made from food-grade silicon, which are perfect for tiny gums to chomp on. Indigo & Wren do some gorgeous colour combinations, and Fox’s Felts¬†have a lovely personalised range.

Dribble bibdanas: This wasn’t something I had really thought about, but babies dribble a lot! If you don’t want your little one to have a constantly soggy top or romper, a dribble bibdana is an ideal solution – useful and they look really cool too. Bilibib have the biggest range of prints I’ve ever seen, and Cribstar is adding to its collection all the time, plus their quality is second to none. Milk Moustache Apparel have some lovely prints too.

Baby leggings: Clothing is quite a personal choice, and Ryan and I are very particular about what we like, and what we don’t! Plus it can be a bit tricky if you don’t know the baby’s gender yet. But I don’t think you can go wrong with a pair of baby leggings. There are so many gorgeous ones out there (I’m a bit obsessed); here’s a shortlist of my favourites:
Dil&Gray
CarlijnQ from Bee Bee’s Boutique
Milk Moustache Apparel
Turtledove London
Blaebird
Ted&Co
Tobias and the Bear

A print for baby’s nursery: Again, this can be quite a personal choice, but if you know the parents well and have a good idea of their tastes, then this could be a great gift idea. Alfie & Co have a fabulous range of prints, most of which can be personalised.

Dummy clip: I still don’t have one of these for Ralphie and I don’t know why, because it would save a lot of agro (and sterilising!). Simply clip one end to the dummy and the other to your baby’s top, and it doesn’t matter when they spit it out, which they will! Plepleple does some lovely wooden and silicon ones.

And if you’re not convinced about any of the above, here are a few more suggestions:
-Your favourite childhood book: Ryan’s sister bought us a set of Roald Dahl books, which is still one of my favourite gifts for Ralphie. Thanks Kelly!
-A night light: handy for night feeds without waking everyone up
-A pack of white baby vests, because you can never have enough
-Burt’s Bees baby wash and moisturiser: I didn’t realise how harsh the Johnsons stuff is on baby’s skin
-A hooded towel
-A baby sleeping bag
-Cool baby socks: Gap do some lovely thick cotton ones
-A cuddly toy or comforter: Jellycat do the best ones in my opinion
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-Fresh coffee for mum and dad!

 

L is for the way you look at me

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Valentine’s Day – this year, we celebrated it a bit differently to how we would usually.

Gone was the meal out for two where we invariably end up drinking too much (my favourite was when we got absolutely piddled on two bottles of wine and “accidentally” had our pudding course twice).

Instead, it was a home-cooked dinner, a glass or two of orange squash, and bed by 10. Luxury!

So although this year it’s been less about the lavish displays of affection and romance, there’s still been plenty of love.

Inspired by Nat King Cole’s L-O-V-E, which I’ve been singing to Ralphie on repeat, here are some new things I’ve learned about the ‘L’ word over the last 20 weeks.

Love is…

Saying goodbye to a full night’s sleep for the foreseeable future. We’re not one of those lucky parents blessed with a baby who got the hang of sleeping through at six weeks. I’m up at least once – usually twice – in the night. And I have been known to play a bit of Candy Crush during a feed to stop myself from dropping off.

Having saliva and puke on your shoulder, jeans, down your top, you name it – every single day. This boy produces gallons of the stuff; I don’t know where it comes from.

Taking on the role of being a cow, and leaking milk constantly. I’m still not sure if Ralphie sees me as normal human being, or a milk machine.

Hearing your son pooing in his sleep at 4am and choosing to get up and change him so he’s not lying in his own mess for the next few hours. He didn’t want to get up and neither did I!

Scraping faeces off rompers, bodysuits, leggings, so they don’t stain and contaminate the rest of the washing pile. How Ralphie manages to fire poo up his back and out the top of his nappy puzzles me daily.

Being prepared to run an emergency bath at any time of day to deal with such poo explosions.

Having a little person glued to you pretty much all of the time. I wouldn’t say Ralphie is clingy, but when he’s awake he likes to be entertained constantly, and plonking him in the Jumperoo just won’t cut it. In the early days, I regularly held a wee in all day, waiting for Ryan to come home.

Eating dinner with your baby sat looking at you and cooing/shouting/chatting/blowing raspberries so you can’t hear a bloomin’ thing on the TV. We try and time our meals for when he’s asleep, but this boy has a sixth sense for these moments of weakness.

Hearing a baby’s cries every time you’re in the shower, regardless of whether your baby is crying or not.

Singing made-up songs to try and appease your son as you’re getting him dressed. I don’t know what it is he has against arm holes.

Worrying about every little sniffle, cough and wheeze, but trying to hold it together so everyone doesn’t think you’re a completely neurotic parent.

Having your baby try and chew on any part of you, constantly. Without sounding like a wimp, it sometimes hurts a bit!

And the list goes on!

I tell you, this parenthood malarkey, it’s not all plain sailing. But without sounding too cheesy, we wouldn’t change it for the world. In fact, our life before Ralphie seems pretty boring in comparison. Who needs fancy meals out and trips to the cinema? Yeah, I still haven’t seen the latest Bond movie; I’m not bitter at all.

 

First words

“Da da da da da” – this morning Ryan and I woke up to one of the best sounds ever. Ralphie was lying in his little bed next to us chatting away to himself and making the most perfect “da da” noises yet. Yes, I’m biased, but his enunciation was really rather impressive.

Obviously “ma ma” would have been better (the little traitor!) but I’m happy for Ryan to enjoy this moment for now.

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Ralphie has, in fact, been making this noise for roughly the last two weeks. The first time was when he was cross and it came out among his cries. So although we were excited, we decided it didn’t really count.

Since then, Ralphie has been saying it more and more. And although he hasn’t matched the sound to the meaning yet, it still feels very special. Twenty weeks in and those newborn cries are almost a distant memory!

With lots of encouragement and repetition, I’m now working hard to help him master “ma ma ma”. Give us a few weeks and we’ll have it sorted, I’m sure.

 

A mini adventure

This weekend just gone, Ralphie and I left Ryan tucked up in bed and hopped on the train by ourselves to Manchester to see my uni girls.

It was a bit nerve wracking.

Most of the time I’m pretty cool about being a mum, but every now and then it suddenly dawns on me that this little person is solely dependent on me, and it’s daunting. I used to think I’d have it all sorted by the time I was in my late twenties, but now I’ve realised that we’re all winging it. In reality, I still feel like I’m 16 and need my mum.

So, after having a stern word with my 16 year old self, I was ready to brave our trip, train change and all.

Typically, it was absolutely tipping it down as we dashed to the train station. It’s at times like this, I wish I had got my act together and bought a car before I went on maternity leave. I wish I had also not bought myself quite so many clothes and put a little more money away. Hindsight eh.

The key to a smooth journey was all in the packing. Overnight bag jammed in the pram basket, Ralphie in the car seat clipped to the wheels, changing bag over the handle…done! I only forgot muslin cloths.

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A sleeping baby also made things a whole lot easier. The little angel slept the whole way, even when a kind man helping me onto the train tipped the pram right up so it was almost vertical. That didn’t do too much to help the nerves.

At the other end we were met by my lovely friends. The last time we had all got together was on the day Ralphie was born. They were meant to be meeting a week old baby at home, but Ralphie had decided to live life on the edge and make his entrance a week late. His timing was almost impeccable.

Ellie had got Ralphie a little bed to stay in for the night, which he found very exciting. You should have seen him kicking his legs! And despite him being a little under the weather (poor Jess had to take on Daddy’s role of holding Ralphie while I squirted antibiotics into his mouth), I think that Ralphie succeeded in making the girls at least a little bit broody. Come on girls, this boy needs some playmates!

As with all good things, before we knew it, we were heading home again. With my tummy full of blueberries and pancakes (yes, I was totally spoilt), I parked Ralphie up in the train carriage and took a seat beside him. So far so good.

Our second leg of the journey didn’t end up being quite as smooth. For one, we were on an old train that didn’t seem to have adequate room for a pram, resulting in some very dodgy parking that blocked up the entire luggage area. Two, Ralphie woke up and decided he needed feeding. I think the poor guy sitting opposite us got a little flustered as I wrestled to get my boob out (not that he would have actually seen anything!). And three, Ralphie did his telltale grunt and proceeded to poo. I’ll admit I ignored that and decided it could wait until we were home. Not ideal, but you try changing a nappy on a moving train!

So there you have it. Our first little adventure together. Next time I think we will bring Ryan, or book assisted travel where they provide a ramp and make sure you have enough room to park up. I didn’t even know this existed, but now I do and it sounds way easier than having to lug a pram onto a crowded train. You live and you learn.

 

A spoonful of banana helps the medicine go down

Blimey, these last few days have been worrisome. They say there’s nothing like a mother’s love. Well, there’s nothing like a mother’s worry too!

The good news is that Ralphie is absolutely fine now, albeit a bit sniffly. A few nights ago as I sat cradling my wheezing baby in my arms, I couldn’t help but panic.

A trip to the doctor resulted in a bottle of ghastly banana-flavoured antibiotics and an inhaler coming into our possession. Funnily enough, Ralphie hasn’t minded the inhaler. His little hands help hold the mask to his face as we count to ten, and he then beams when we tell him he’s been a good boy. The banana antibiotics haven’t been welcomed quite so warmly. I don’t blame him; I had a sneaky taste and it’s as disgusting as I remember.

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I tell you, a 5ml syringe of liquid has never looked so big when your baby is squirming and crying and gagging every time you try and squirt a little bit into his mouth. Millilitre by millilitre it eventually goes down, and we all breathe a sigh of relief as he angrily swallows the last little bit. We’ll be extremely glad when the course is up. But it’s working. Three days in and Ralphie’s little chest is sounding far less croaky and wheezy, and my happy boy is pretty much back to his usual self.

Over the years, though, you’d have thought they would have created a medicine that’s a little more palatable. Then again, Ralphie doesn’t even like Calpol, so maybe there’s no winning formula that appeals to all babies. Has anyone thought of trying out milk flavour?