Mama Badge: Train Change

IMG_5048.JPGThis weekend my dad, Baby Girl & I went to visit Great-Grandmo aaaaall the way up north in Sunderland.

(For those who haven’t sampled the delights North of the Watford Gap, this is practically the Scottish border but a bit to the right on the coast. Ie, bloody freezing. And definitely better in the sun!)

IMG_5047.JPGVisiting Grandmo, unfortunately, includes a long-ass train journey. Which before Baby Girl, I enjoyed the three hours of reading & napping. I’ve always loved a good train journey (opting for the Quiet Coach, obviously).

I don’t enjoy train journeys so much anymore. While one up from a long car journey, there’s no reading or napping involved these days.

And you have changing a baby on a moving train to contend with.

Changing Baby Girl is difficult these days at the best of times. She point blank refuses to sit still. It took me 46 minutes to change her diaper & get her dressed on Friday morning. 46 minutes. Give me strength. Look at what I had to work with on the train. You know it’s small when a baby looks big!

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But we managed it. Without her falling into the sink – or the toilet. And with this, I feel I’ve earned another Mama badge. Like Brownie badges, but for Mamas. The Train Change badge; for changing Baby Girl on a moving train, in the tiniest of spaces known to Mamas.

 

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#Misstache

IMG_2402.JPGAs Movember draws to a close, I couldn’t be happier.

On October 31, the Other Half went into work and said, “Amie isn’t keen on the idea of me with a mo. And besides, I can’t grow a moustache anyway!” So of course, his colleagues sponsored him.

a) To see how long it would actually take him to grow a decent face of hair and
b) because they thought it would be funny to irritate me.

Thanks guys.

Well, it’s the final weekend of November & in the last ten days or so, his fluffy top lip has finally become a proper ‘tache. And he keeps walking around stroking his top lip, saying, “I’m mousatchio, pistachio!”… It’s really time for Movember to finish…

But it’s all in the name of a good cause. So to celebrate, Baby Girl & I thought we’d show our support. Mosistas, join us on the #Misstache or #Mosista hashtags & give our boys a final push this weekend.

But come Sunday, I’ll still be sponsoring the Other Half to shave it off. Failing that, 12:01am on Monday, I’ll be taking a razor to him in his sleep.

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To Do

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People say, “it must be nice not having to work for a year. Nothing to do but look after Baby Girl or whatever.”

Yes, that would be nice. Let me know if you ever meet a mom like that. And if you do, ask her how much she pays her army of help.

The reality is quite different. This week’s To Do list is somewhat depressing. It’s now so long I’ve actually had to split it into sub-to-do lists across two pages.

1. Home – all the basic things about home & family from The Tesco shop for this weekend to Christmas presents. (Christmas is really not helping with the length of my list.)
2. Blog – following attending Blogfest a few weeks ago Bump, Baby & Me is getting a bit of a facelift. Watch this space.
3. Bubele – a London parenting app I’ve been acting as a marketing consultant for over the past six months. It’s just gone live in the App Store as a public beta… Again, watch this space.

#ClearAPlate Blogging Challenge

Two weekends ago I attended Blogfest 2014 (read about my butterflies on the tube here). Among the ‘find your funny’ &  ‘how to make money’ seminars, there was a somewhat darker, more pressing issue brought to light.

The headline sponsor of the day was Unilever Project Sunlight. Together with Oxfam they have declared war on hunger.

In the UK alone, 11,500 tonnes of food is thrown away each day. I’ll say that again. That’s one thousand, six hundred and forty-two fully grown male African elephants tossed in the bin by the end of the day.

Meanwhile, one in five families live on the poverty line. 22% of which go without food to feed their children. At the same time, 75% of families who regularly throw food away. In a country with so much going spare, surely we can do more to help?

Project Sunlight has already provided two million meals to families in the UK & aims to provide another half a million.

You can find out the full array of how you can help on their pages here. Everything from hunger stats to leftovers recipes to how you can help.

But the quickest, easiest thing you can do is to accept the #ClearAPlate challenge. Tweet a picture of your empty plate with the hashtag to raise awareness and Unilever will donate to the cause.

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But Bump, Baby & Me are going one step further.

Blogosphere, we challenge you to a #ClearAPlate #7Days blogging challenge.

Our Tesco shop will be delivered on Sunday morning & we will be charting our food waste over the following seven days. It’s not enough to clear your plate just once. We need to break bad habits, make new ones & set a good example for our little ones.

My mom brought me up with the line, “There are children starving in Africa. Finish your dinner.” Well guess what, there’s children starving in Britain too & it’s time we did something about it.

So scrape off those plates, box up those left overs & join us in the #ClearAPlate #7Days challenge. Good luck! And let us know how you get on.

NB: all stats & information in this post is from the Project Sunlight website. Find out more here.

Old MacDonald had a farm

On Saturday, we took Baby Girl to Stepney Green City Farm for the first time.

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(We actually go to baby music classes – more on this another time – at Hackney City Farm every week, but we’ve been avoiding the animals waiting to go within the Other Half.)

I’ve been looking forward to this for weeks (kept having ‘to go next weekend’ for various reasons). But the Other Half was a bit skeptical. “Will she really have any idea what’s going on? Or are we really just going for you to see the animals?”

Given I’m very much a City Mouse & it’s him who’s the Country Mouse, this was simply met with a disapproving look. No more was said.

So we bundled Baby Girl up in her new Transformer suit (ahem… Snowsuit), pulled on our wellies (so country chic) & off we toddled.IMG_5032

Stepney City Farm was built on a derelict bombed site from WWII in 1979. In a strange twist in fate (strange because we now live so near but didn’t grow up anywhere near East London), the Other Half’s dad was a volunteer in helping build the original wooden shelters at the farm. He was living in East London at the time, though moved to Wimbledon before the Other Half was born.

We had a quick look round the Saturday Farmers’ Market in all it’s locally sourced, organic glory. There’s meat of every cut you could want to choose from, pressed apple juice, cheese, olives, sausage butties on the go, gorgeous looking veg, sourdough loaves, rye loaves, white loaves, brown loaves… The list goes on. It would have been much shorter to say, it’s small but perfectly formed. So go support our local farmers peeps!

We carried Baby Girl round leaving the buggy by the cafe so she could see over the fences into the little enclosures. (And also to avoid a muddy Bugaboo. See? City Mice.)

First was goats. She was peering over the side, craning her neck to see. She also jumped a mile in my arms when one baa’d. It was adorable.IMG_5030

The bunnies were sadly hiding in the allotments but the chickens & the pig were out to play. I say play; the pig was rather lethargic but still managed a snort which delighted Baby Girl. But not quite as much as me & her dad snorting at her!IMG_5031

But the chickens. Oh my. Baby Girl couldn’t get enough. Her little legs kicked, her arms flailed, her face was lit up like a Christmas tree as they fluttered around our feet. When we stopped for brunch (bacon-brioche rolls & the best rosti we’ve ever had. And we’ve grown up skiing in the Alps!) the highchair could barely contain her for all the excitement!

It was a drizzly, grey November day but it was a really lovely family morning. The Other Half was pleasantly surprised by how engaged with the animals Baby Girl was & we were both drooling over the little farm’s cafe’s menu. (& all only £5! Bloody bargain in London!)

Stepney Green Farm is free for all, as are all the London city farms, so there’s really no excuse not to go & support these brilliant spaces.

Find out where your nearest City Farm is & what events they have to offer here.

 

#FlashbackFriday

I don’t usually like to post two consecutive days in a row. But when I realised what day it was I couldn’t resist.

I’ve had the Timehop app for about a year. I dip in & out. But in the last few months I’ve been struck by how much time has passed & how much my life has changed.

Seven years ago, I was 18, teaching English in China. I was one of about 20 Westerners in the whole town of Wuhu (approx 1 million people). They’d only got traffic lights ten years before & were still getting to grips with them. Culture shock doesn’t begin to describe!

Four years ago I was in dissertation hell. (I say hell, I actually really enjoyed writing it. If you are so inclined, you can read about The Impact of Environmental and Educational Factors in the Graduation and Drop-out Rates of Hispanic Students in the USA here. But I won’t be the least bit offended if not.)

Two years ago even I wasn’t pregnant, I was in Birmingham dressed as a Mummy (ironic?!) getting drunk in some club with a witch, a few zombies, a dead soldier & a bloody nurse.

But six years ago today, Timehop tells me I was uploading some very special photos to Facebook. Last night, it was six years ago since the infamous ‘Gatecrasher night’ during my first term of my first year at Uni.

After a few months of debating if to a certain boy I was just his best mate (who he sent very mixed signals to & flirted with endlessly!), I realised if I didn’t make a move another girl (no names) might. And my window of opportunity would be lost forever. So naturally, the only way forward was shots. And then I spilled my heart out, in a very slurred, not particularly cohesive manner.

I was wrong. We were just friends. (And who could blame him after that performance!) At least, we were for another two months.

And now we have a baby together.

Read our full story here.

Weaning Roundup: Stage 1

We’re well into stage two (Chewing) now so this is rather overdue. But better late than never!

So. What of smooth & slurpy Stage 1?

It’s all about flavour. They’ve had nothing but milk their whole little lives & suddenly an amazing world of flavour opens up to them. Take it slow. It’s a lot to take in. & it’s best to try not to introduce more than one new flavour a day in case they have any allergic reaction. That way you’ll be able to pin point exactly which flavour caused the reaction.

We gave Baby Girl about five teaspoons (baby spoons) per meal at the start. By the end of stage 1, she still would only take about five to eight spoonfuls but she was more adventurous with flavours & venturing into thicker purées with the odd mushy bit here and there.

Baby Girl’s Favourites:IMG_3711

  • rusks
  • pea purée
  • apple purée
  • mashed banana
  • Spag Bol
  • beef, carrot & potato mash
  • sweet potato & cauliflower mash
  • salmon & sweet potato mash
  • plum purée with mashed bananas & a pinch of ground all spice

Indifferent:IMG_3740 - Version 2

Gag reflex activated:

  • blueberry purée

Point blank refused:

  • porridge, regardless of what flavour it may be, whether packet mix or home made. Baby Girl just ain’t having it!

I’m proud to say we’ve made almost all Baby Girl’s meals from scratch. Fiona Wilcock’s book has been fantastic & made it all very easy. We also had the Baby Bullet, which whizzed everything within an inch of it’s life with very little effort. (I’m still using the Bullet in stage 2 for certain things.) But when we went away, we used pouches & jars so we weren’t worrying.

As a result, one flavour has stood out as Baby Girl’s all time favourite. So much so that we couldn’t deny her it when we got home. Weirdly, Spag Bol is my ultimate favourite & has been since I was eating out of jars too. The Other Half groaned as he realised if Baby Girl is requesting Spag Bol too he’ll be eating it on a weekly basis in a few years!

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We started weaning Baby Girl from five months. So at six months, we we introduced some finger foods as well so Baby Girl was exposed to different textures & saw food as it actually is – not just whizzed within an inch of its life.

Toast soldiers became a fast favourite. And cucumber sticks have been a god send as they’re super soothing on her itchy gums. I can’t produce them fast enough! But beware, whole grain wheat (ie brown bread) contains a lot of fibre for little tummies & cucumber seeds can cause wind. So we’ve been using white bread & cutting the seeds off. Because Baby Girl produces enough wind as it is!

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The Wonder Weeks: 8 months & Leap 6

Last week, Baby Girl turned 8 months. I know! I couldn’t quite believe it either.

My days swing between Baby Girl happily playing on the mat while I potter around & chasing her round the apartment, making sure she doesn’t get hold of anything she shouldn’t.

Last week, she discovered the Xbox. When you turn it on, the ‘X’ flashes white with a ‘bee-bee-boop’. I basically watched Pavlov’s dogs in action as she pressed it again, & again, & again, & again… & again. (There’s now a box in front of it.)

Two months since those first tentative shuffles she’s a demon crawler. She’s never happy being still. I turn my back for one second & she’s off round the apartment playing hide & seek. The other day, it went suspiciously quiet & looked up from preparing her lunch to find her gone. I searched the whole apartment (which really isn’t big enough for her to get lost in) before finding her trying to climb in our shower. In the dark.

And six weeks since I first balanced her standing against the chair, Baby Girl is now pushing herself up onto every piece of furniture and padding along from left to right whilst holding on. I can’t believe how fast she progresses. She’s never content with just learning a skill but always looking at what the next step is (quite literally!). At the moment, she’s falling over & bumping her head more than ever as she now tries to let go of the table/sofa/shelf/our hands & stand on her own, but of course her legs just crumble beneath her.

She also has two new favourite games. One, make a dash for the dishwasher as soon as you open it & try to climb inside. Two, chase the vacuum round & try to sit on the nozzle at the front. This is making chores somewhat slow going.

Baby Girl is early for a lot of these skills (cue proud Mama moment). Yet she still has very few fine motor skills. She can’t hold her bottle or sippy cup, she can’t clap & still sometimes misses when she goes to pick a block off the top of the tower. Fine motor skills don’t help her get where she wants to go (i.e., all the way over there, or over there, or back over there) so she seems to have very little interest in fine tuning them.

With month 8 comes the end of another Wonder Weeks leap. Luckily, she hasn’t seemed as phased by this as some of the others (I shudder at the memory of leap 4!) Leap 6, ‘Categories’, is basically her clicking that a cow is not a kitten. She’s transfixed by the smallest details & beginning to categorise everything around her. This leap’s to do list is as follows:

  1. show that she knows some words (‘water’ & ‘all done’ are starting to have a response. ‘No’ still elicits nothing but giggles.)
  2. make it clear she finds something dirty, e.g., by sniffing (not yet)
  3. imitates adults (tick)
  4. recognises herself in the mirror (has clicked if you’re in the mirror, you’re actually behind her. Don’t know if she’s clicked the baby is her though)
  5. can really exaggerate her moods (tick)
  6. plays peek-a-boo by herself (tick – adorable)
  7. challenges others to play a game (tick – usually peek-a-boo)
  8. calls for a song, e.g. by clapping (no, because she still can’t clap!)
  9. begins to practice crawling (yeh, we’ve got this one down.)

See more Finding Our Feet The Wonder Weeks posts.

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FINDING OUR FEET IS NOT AFFILIATED WITH THE WONDER WEEKS. WE JUST REALLY LIKE THE APP. ALL OPINIONS EXPRESSED IN THIS REVIEW ARE INDEPENDENT AND MY OWN.

Blogfest ’14

Today’s the day! It’s Blogfest 2014!

A while back I was accepted into the MumsNet Blogger’s Network. Blogfest is their annual conference for blogging parents all over the UK to come together, learn some new tricks, discuss the issues we’re facing & meet all the faces behind all the blogs.

It’s been so long since I had to set an alarm (thanks Baby Girl) that I completely forgot to set one for 7am! Luckily, I naturally wake up every couple of hours now so in my groggy state at 6am & I realised (God knows why or how) & was able to grab my phone then roll over for another hour. Clearly someone’s looking out for me.

For a few weeks I umm’d & ahh’ whether to go as tickets were a pretty penny at £95. But I’ve been blogging at bumpbabyandme a year & feel I need to step things up. So eventually I decided Blogfest was probably a pretty penny well spent.

So, today, along with keynote speeches, I’m attending the following breakouts;
1. How to make money from your blog
2. Advanced Social Media
3. Techie tips tricks

I feel a bit like it’s my first day at school. Half excitement, half nerves. I don’t know a soul going, but looking at Twitter, neither do half the other people going. So hopefully we’ll all just get out mingle on & be one big happy Blogfest.

Wish me luck!

Is history repeating itself?

I’ve always loved history. Specifically modern history (which always struck me as somewhat of an oxymoron).

At 15, I learned of the Berlin Wall coming down in 1989 – the year I was born – & I asked Mom about it. I was shocked, & somewhat disappointed, to discover she didn’t really remember it. This huge, historic moment in time simply hadn’t featured in her life. It turned out, she said, she didn’t even bother to watch the news in 1989! Apparently, a new tiny human to look after caused her to forget the world existed. I was horrified.

Well. Wasn’t I 15 & clueless.

A few weeks ago, the Other Half was shocked & appalled when I uttered the sentence, “wait, what’s ISIS?’. I thought his eyes were actually going to pop out of his head. It turns out, that looking after a new tiny human is indeed a good excuse to forget the world exists. Or so I thought. The Other Half did not (does not) agree.

Since then, he’s taken it upon himself to send me one or two key articles each week to ensure I don’t totally lose touch.

A couple of weeks ago, I received a cheery article about how a Russian sub had supposedly invited itself into Swedish waters. As a result, the usually relatively neutral Swedish government had begun a witch hunt for the submarine.

Then came another spirit-lifting article regarding a second encounter; this time a chance sighting on the polar ice cap by two scientists of a former ballistic missile bomber apparently now used for classified research. (We hope.)

As I read these articles, Baby Girl is playing next to me on the mat, babbling at Mr. Dragon & Bunny. I’m struck by a sudden unease. I’ve been on this earth nearly 26 years & I am grateful I can say I’ve never really been touched by war. I’ve grown up in a relatively secure version of our world.

But what of Baby Girl?

These incidents, the UK deploying tanks to Poland, an Estonian intelligence agent apparently being abducted… The list goes on & (as the papers seem to paint it) Russia is hanging over it all like a black cloud rolling in from the East.

In my American History seminars at University, we discussed the ‘small’ events that snowballed into WWI, WWII & the Cold War. I can’t help but wonder if this is exactly what we’re reading about now, only the twenty-first century version. Which begs the question, will Baby Girl grow up in a world more akin to her Grandmother’s or Great-Grandmother’s than mine?

And what are we going to do about it?