Thursday, 28 July 2011

Snapped by the paps...

Snapped by the paps, or rather sat on a white sheet and grinned at by a photographer for the blink of an eye that it took to take Grace's first school pic. Cute huh?!

At the time, just passing 11 months, Grace is chipper as ever and starting to take a little more control of her meals - demanding to hold the spoon herself and have a go at shovelling the contents of the bowl up to her mouth. Or onto the floor for the dog. Or onto the table so she can then slide the food back and forth with the sleeves of her jumper.

Fortunately, we had this pic taken before lunch :0)

Clearly I can't take credit for the photo as it's not mine, so don't call the cops for bumbling copyright!

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Playing Ball

As the time approaches where we celebrate one year with Grace, I have began to recall the awful moment when we introduced Grace to the dog. A truly regrettable memory. If only I had paid attention to all the research I did on introducing a dog to a new baby. I read, I digested and then I ignored.... and so the story began:

As someone who has been there and learnt the hard way, I wanted to share my experiences and offer some easy to follow tips so that you don't make the same mistakes introducing your dog to a new baby. For me, my dog was my baby until the little pink one with 2 legs instead of 4 arrived. I've always worked in a pet environment so I was lucky enough to have access to first hand advice from veterinary staff and training staff alike on the pitfalls to expect and what measures to take beforehand. Of course plans are great if you follow them but as an excited mum-to-be making the most of what time I had preparing the nursery and waddling round some favourite walks with the dog while I still could, I shamefully didn't take a blind bit of notice of the advice I'd been given and so we fell at the first hurdle.

It is said that many dogs each year are taken in by rescue centres as the introduction of baby to dog didn't run smoothly because the dog exhibited jealousy as the baby naturally takes centre of attention. So taking a few minutes out to read this article should pave the way to a smooth transition, fingers crossed.

Way before the little nipper arrives, it's best to see your vet for an MOT - a health check and to give you the opportunity to protect against fleas and worms, both of which can post a health hazard to your newborn. Assuming the dog gets the all clear, it's time for you to think about routines. Ladies, I'm not flying the GF kite here so please do read on (!). Dogs being creatures of habit will thank you for keeping their routine as normal as possible once baby comes home, so if you anticipate problems getting the dog out for 7am, then plan for that now. For us the biggest challenge was stopping the dog from sleeping in our bedroom as of course this is where we planned for our baby to be. Ignoring advice of the dog trainer I work with, we made no alterations to the routine and the dog slept in our bedroom until I went into labour and we shipped her off to kennels. The dog trainer had told me several months prior to start to modify those habits, for example moving her slowly to sleeping at the doorway, sleeping on the landing, sleeping in the spare bedroom etc. If we'd made those little gradual tweaks, it wouldn't have been such a shock to the system for the poor confused dog on the night we brought baby home when we expected her to sleep quietly on her own behind the childgate to our room.

If you expect other changes are necessary then introduce them slowly so as not to confuse the dog with too many changes at once. It's important to allow your dog to sniff and explore the new baby areas of your house and new belongings in order for the dog to get used to the idea that baby will be part of the family. It's worthwhile having zero tolerance on letting your dog play with baby's toys from the offset as your dog should know not to take toys from baby's hand - it's not fair to risk the dog inadvertently injuring the child in play.

Another worthwhile exercise is to acclimatise your dog to children and watch how she reacts. For instance, our dog was always very wary of small children in as much as she would bark, cower or worse still chase them if they ran. The dog trainer advised we acquired a plastic baby doll before our baby was born so the dog could begin to learn that these little things aren't to be scared of. We didn't, nor did we try to introduce the dog to children of friends of ours (well we did it once and it didn't go well so we figured we'd cross the bridge when we came to it).

Some trainers advocate the use of noise CD's to desensitise the dog to baby noises beforehand, but I can't say I have any experience of these (although I have used the noise CD for fireworks and this did reduce the anxiety at New Year). Other advice comes in the form of bringing things smelling of your newborn home from hospital before you get discharged so that Dad can introduce the dog to the smell.

When the baby does come home, a third person is best to hold the baby while you greet the dog. She will have missed you while you have been away and it's important to pay attention to her when you first get home. Maybe bring your dog a new toy and a treat for when you arrive so she can associate the baby with something positive. After the initial excitement, you can start to introduce your baby to the dog. It may be safer to restrain the dog on lead while you do this. Talk to your dog, pet her and encourage her to get a good look and sniff of the babys hands and feet. Do not force a reluctant dog, and a dog that shows any warning signs e.g. barking or getting over excited should be let to rest and try again another time. Never leave the baby unsupervised with your dog and be aware the actions of the baby may scare the dog and cause her to bite in self defence. If the dog shows signs of aggression, leave her in another room until she is calm and try the introduction again later.

Needless to say the poor effort on the part of my husband and myself is something I regret immensely to this day. We didn't put in the work beforehand so the introduction was all wrong and we in theory had set her up to fail. I was away in hospital for 5 nights and was so overjoyed to be coming home, we asked Grandma to bring the dog from kennels the evening we got home - she arrived about an hour after we got home. The dog came bounding into the house and was generally very giddy to be back with the family she had missed. The baby was sleeping at this time and we didn't anticipate any problems as the dogs behaviour seemed fine. When the baby eventually cried as she woke up, the dog became agitated, over excited and as we wouldn't let her into our bedroom at this time while I comforted and fed the child, the became anxious, salivating and generally creating mayhem being separated from me. After an hour or two of this we couldn't cope any longer as the more the baby cried, the more wound up the dog became. I ended up sending her to Grandmas for the night.
The following day we tried an introduction with the dog on lead - this went badly and so we left it again for the following day - any noise from the baby triggered similar reactions to that we had seen the night before. Each day Grandma would visit and the dog stayed on lead a few hours and we sent her back again for another night. We carried on like that for almost 2 weeks - the dogs visits becoming longer, but always on lead. Needless to say I was heartbroken. She came to live with us again when the baby turned 3 weeks, and we still resorted to her being on lead at times she showed any excitable signs. Fast forward a year, and I can trust them both together. Yes the dog may pinch a ricecake, particularly if baby holds it our for her, and yes she sits and waits to clear up the kitchen floor after baby has gone through her meals. But after a lot of hard work and stress we're happy as a family again, dog and baby included.

Please put in the effort beforehand. I imagine we would still have encountered some problems as our dog has always suffered attachment to me and anxiety if ever she isn't at my side, but I could have softened the blow by taking small steps in the run up to baby's birth.
Do be aware there are many schools of thought on the best ways to approach this topic, but if you care for your dog, do some research and figure out what measures are going to work best for you. And don't be afraid to call on professional help if you're unsure.

Of course this is all my opinion gleaned from talking to folk and reading the literature. Please dont take it as gospel, or worse still professional advice. This is just our story - I hope it helps.

Monday, 18 July 2011


While there's no mention of a greying gentleman in a sun hat or row after row of fruit trees, Grace has had a jolly good nibble at some new fruits this week; pineapple included. But that's not the point of this brief post. Taking advantage of holiday companies allowing under two's to travel for free on package holidays, we have booked a fortnight for May 2012 when Grace will be 21 months old. (Wow that makes her sound really old!). The what's and where's can wait for another time, I just wanted to share the reaction to the holiday brochure when Little G got her hands on it after supper yesterday... A Gem!

P.S. Surely you remember the Man from Delmonte?

Thursday, 14 July 2011

White lies & Pork pies

I'm certain I read somewhere it takes 9 months to put on the weight when you're pregnant and another 9 months to shed it again. Well call in the authorities, for someone was telling porkies. Yes, it comes as no surprise that Grace is now not 9 months, but 11 months old. And is her mother back to her pre-pregnancy weight? Is she chuff. In fact I'm actually heavier than I was to start with since I have changed to a more relaxed office based job coming back from maternity leave and have dropped 2 days a week. Joy.

I gather I'm not alone either from talking to fellow post-natal friends and although this brings some comfort, there are of course the ones who gave birth at the same time as me and are perfectly able to fit back into that figure hugging dress and wear a bikini on holiday. Jealous? Hell yes.

So what's their trick? Motivation I suspect. I started by diet (operation weight loss) on Grace's 8 month anniversary or thereabouts and the thing that tickles me most is instead of losing pounds, I've added a few on. The shame of it all. My problem? Gluttony. Sheer and utter greed. Not for chocolate or crisps, just big portions of the healthy stuff we eat. Yes folks, I can gain wait following a low GL diet.

Anyway, I started swimming 3 times a week at the beginning of this month and although it's having an impact, it's also encouraging me to pick up the fork as I seem to be rewarding myself for the effort of having a splash in the pool. So here it ends - my pork pie days are over, for now at least.

I'm saying to you now that I'm cutting back on the carbs which I love and this week it's protein protein protein. I'll let you know how I get on. For the moment I'm a bit cranky as while everyone in the office stuffed a very nice looking buffet today, I nibbled away at some babybell cheeses and roast chicken. No pain, no gain.



Ciao for now :0)

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Fit Camp Boot Camp

You might have read or seen in the press this week the new guidelines issued by the Government over the amount of physical activity under 5's should do per day. In particular they say the under 5 should not sit for too long e.g. watching television and traveling in the buggy or car etc and that as soon as the baby can walk, it should be physically active for at least 3 hours a day. Minimum.

As you know, Grace is still sitting ALL day long as she has yet to master crawling and walking and to be fair is still a bit of a damp squib when it comes to even the simplest bum-shuffle. What to do?

Swimming, check. Rolling around and stretching for toys, check.

Now what? Grace looks at me perplexed as if to say 'you want me to do what?'

Matt the Husband and I have come up with some knocked-together activities we can do with a baby who's determined to sit on her butt all day long given the chance...

The Simple Push Up

The One Arm Push Up with Sippy-cup Stretch

The Goalie Dive

The Ball Juggle

The Drinkers Ab-Crunch

Needless to say as soon as she is able, we'll introduce exercises like Load the Washing Machine and Wash the Car, but for now Mr Cameron this is the best we can do. What are you doing to keep your little one's active?

Friday, 8 July 2011

You know you're a Mum when...

When you find teary faces like this CUTE.

And when you find your hand stuck in the bottom of a box of mini-weetabix that's in the door pocket as you take a corner at the traffic lights on the way to work in 5th gear - all because you're having brekkie on the go as you were sneezed on by a baby with a mouthful of porridge right before you left the house so you're late because you had to get changed.

Or maybe you don't get changed - you know you're a mum when you find baby sick on your top at the end of a day spent out with friends, maybe even a mini-shreddie in your cleavage when you get ready for bed at the end of a long day.

I also find myself singing a LOT of the time - usually high pitched twaddle, sometimes something a little more structure like 'wind the bobbin up' which is a personal favourite for grace and me as well as a few other mummy's I know.

Having the washing machine on what seems to be all day every day is another classic. How on earth did we function on two loads a week before the arrival of such a small (yet well dressed) bundle? The electric bill has shot up. To counteract this we are using the rotary drier out in the garden instead of the tumble drier - and playing the hokey cokey with the wet weather (you put the washing out, bring the washing in, out in out in etc etc you get the picture) - apparently this dance with Mother Nature is another symptom of Motherhood.

Forgetting to change out of your slippers when you leave the house, presumably because your mind is on other things, probably whether or not you have remembered SPF 50 sun cream for the baby and whether the green or the yellow sun hat goes best with her outfit today. (By the way, the slippers were comfy so I didn't notice until I got half way across the car park at Asda - not cool).

Loving somebody more then your husband and everyone finding that totally normal...

Apparently you know you're a mum when you find children's toys in the toilet! As Grace is still connected to the earth by a string on her bottom we have yet to experience this, but I remember my sister once telling me a tale of coming upstairs to find her little boy shrieking with joy as he emptied every single last tampon into the toilet.

And of course, giving a running commentary of your every move - let's cross the road Grace, look at the yellow lorry Grace, shall we pay for the shopping Grace, where do we put the shoes Grace - you get the picture!

Some favourites from friends of mine include:

Getting through a 12 hour day on 2 hours sleep
Your family no longer ask how you are - it's all about the grandchild
You realise there is no difference between a weekday or the weekends any more as the alarm goes off at the same time every day!
A hot cup of tea or coffee starts to eclipse a glass of vino as the beverage of choice!
You no longer have privacy when you need to take a shower or go to the loo.
You're up so early with your little one that you can get the housework and two loads of laundry washed and put away before you go to work.
Emptying toys from your handbag to get to your purse.

And I think my personal favourite - never having a dull moment - Grace is constantly giving me food for thought in a way that nothing ever has done in my life before. Love her to the moon and back.

Any to add??

Thursday, 7 July 2011


Yes I thought that would grab your attention - rude minds, all of you! Now if we can take our minds out of the gutter for just one moment I have to tell you of Grace and her latest... bonk.

Runny nose and spluttering cough, Grace has had a slight cold for the last few days. This hasn't stopped her from enjoying nursery this week and she's had a fabulous time with me raking through the rails at the Debenhams Blue Cross sale on the hunt for a bargain - girls must shop! Anyway, back to bonking - sitting up to the table this evening making a jolly good effort at tucking away a bowl of broccoli and broad bean cheesy pasta even though she'd already polished off her tea at nursery before she came home - she sneezed.

Not just a little achoo mind you, but a real deep-breath fueled belly belting sneeze - and that's when the bonk happened - Grace threw her head back and then forward with the momentum of the sneeze... and BONKED her nose on the solid oak table cushioned only by a table cloth. YOUCH!

Needless to say supper fell by the wayside and a generous dose of Mummy-cuddle and hush-songs later, we plonked her in the bath before sending her off to dream land with what looks like it might be a big bruise on her snoz in the morning.

Matt the Husband and I have all fingers crossed - it's school photos at nursery tomorrow and I worry she'll be snapped with a cauliflower nose... bruiser.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011


Just stopping by to say thanks for stopping by!! Today the blog hit 4000 clicks, so it's obviously being read by someone out there in cyberspace. Lovely to have you around, please keep visiting, and remember, if you have any feedback or comments, do have a voice! You can always sign up for email alerts to new posts too - just pop your email in the sign up here box.
Ciao for now x

Monday, 4 July 2011

Sunshine Sundays

Welcome to my world - the four day weekend.

Official for a week now I am a busy mum - cum - lady of leisure. That is assuming you calling running around after Grace and Matt the Husband, not to mention Daisy-woof and housework a day of rest. All things considered though, I am not grumpy about my lot - far from it - and I'm actually reflecting on what a lucky girl I am (Euromillions win pending).

We did find a tenner on the dog walk yesterday, and I apologise to the villager that went without their Sunday paper and pint of milk as a result - but what was I to do? Let it flit and float in the wind up into a thorn bush for a bird to make a nest with? Ney - I pocketed it swiftly (eyes darting wildly checking for an ambush) and lectured Grace on the badness of profiting from other peoples bad luck. (She said it was ok - just pay for us to go swimming Mummy, so I did).

We also graced the Babies Birthday Party hosted by Leona and Eric who we attended NCT antenatal classes with one year ago. Amelia, or Millie as she is known has grown so much since I last saw her last October, as had the other babies, some of which I have seen more recently, including Logan who goes to nursery with Grace. Leona and I concluded it's the laid back babies who are slower to develop than their peers - Millie and Grace, both very chilled little girls, are still sitting pretty and appear to be in very little hurry to up sticks and go for a wander. We aren't concerned - the longer it takes Grace to get her wriggle-on, the longer we get to enjoy her as a baby - she has her whole life to walk - there is no rush. As for the others - Logan in particular were scuttling around all over the garden, climbing onto the decking and generally making merry mischief.

This is as close as Grace gets to moving...

I did have a moment of 'oh my goodness I am a terrible mother' when I picked a giggly Grace up for a cuddle and immediately realised she whiffed to high heaven of the celebration bubbly. Unmistakably champagne, it didn't take me long to twig she'd been mouthing on a plastic party cup - just hadn't realised it still had booze in. Embarrassingly, I see forward to the future maybe where Grace becomes the cheeky child that runs around at weddings while the grown-ups are dancing, taking a sneaky sip out of all the half empty glasses. Dear oh dear.

Operation birthday-secret is coming on nicely and Matt the Husband has been patting himself on the back a great deal over his craftsmanship a lot this past week. More on that another time. For now that's it - our news.
Thanks for stopping by :0)

Champagne Sunday....