Adventures of a Free-From Clothbum Mum!

Cloth nappies, dairy-free living, reviews and parental ramblings!

Toddler Tastic!

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Wow. I’ve been looking back at the blog and over the past few weeks I’ve noticed something – I’m doing an awful lot of reviews and not a lot of rambling posts! That’s not like me at all… Those who know me are probably laughing and nodding their heads in agreement, but it’s quite unusual for me to pass up on the opportunity to waffle on and on – but that’s what I’ve been doing.

So, there’s a good reason (or a hundred) as to why I’ve not been regaling you with snippets of my life recently. The main one is work. Work, work, work! I’ve been (and still am) very busy and just haven’t really had the time. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love my job, but it’s been quite hard to step back and take the time to do things like this. Like, right now – I know there’s a million things that I should/could be doing but I’ve given myself five minutes grace! Cup of coffee and a biscuit at my side and a computer to type away on and ramble – job’s a good ‘un!

Then there’s been all the amazing donations that I’ve been receiving (and still am receiving) for the nappy library/ demo kit that I’ve been setting up. People have been fantastic and I really can’t thank them enough, but with all donations (especially from companies) I obviously am doing reviews for them. That’s only fair and a great way to show people who read this blog just how many wonderful different types and brands of nappies there are.

So, I’ve got a whole host of reviews already written, a fair few in the pipeline and quite a lot more still to come. Phew!

But, nappies aside for a moment – back to blogging about life.
Life is good!
Life is busy!
Life with a toddler is hectic!
Life with a CLIMBING toddler is quite frankly a pain in the backside!!!

Oh dear god, he doesn’t stop! He’s up on everything, almost falling off everything and generally being a little monster. I think it might be time for a renaming of Master Monkey Clothbum to little Master Monster.

He constantly has a massive cheeky grin on his face, is babbling away non-stop and I know when he’s being naughty as he goes very quiet and looks around all the time to see if he’s being watched, which is rather amusing. One of my brothers used to whistle whenever he was doing something he shouldn’t, which was always hilarious, and I think that Monster is going to end up with a similar tell as he’s also started making this funny whistling sound when he’s focusing on things that he knows are not allowed. It’s hilarious!

With this new found sense of self developing, he’s also becoming more determined which is leading to some interesting little stand offs. We’ve had a few tempers where he throws himself backwards onto the floor, quite a few sittings in the corner and howling and general determined attempts to stamp his mark on things and do it his way. It’s actually very interesting to observe but quite tough, at times, to remain cool and gently but firmly stand our ground or distract him (whichever happens to be the most appropriate at the time).

I’m also finding that he’s now nursing more like a newborn again at night, which is a bit sore at times. I’m sure it’s because he’s teething but part of me is wondering whether it’s because he likes the comfort and as he’s pretty much self-weaned during the day, that he wants it at night.

If any of you have carried on breastfeeding a toddler, did you find they upped their nursing at all? What tips could you give to others like myself who are newbies to nursing a toddler?
They’d be very much appreciated!

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Master Clothbum turns ONE!

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I know I’ve been rather quiet for the past week or so, but there’s been a really, REALLY good reason.

My little man has just turned ONE! So, I’ve been party planning, party preparing and…well…

PARTYING!

Oooooh, we’ve had a fun few days! It’s been brilliant and really great to have all his friends, our friends and our family around. Little Master Clothbum loved every single second of it and it was delightful to watch him playing with his little friends, giving his family hugs and kisses and just having a whale of a time!

I had lots to do to prepare for the party (which I’ll blog about another time), as I wanted to keep all the food lactose free. That meant that if anyone gave little Monkey a bit of their food, I wouldn’t have to worry about having an ill baby firing out of both ends on his birthday. Relaxed Mummy = Happy Mummy!!!

I just thought I’d share a few photos with you, plus something a little personal.

I’d basically given up on having children, before I found out I was pregnant. We’d tried for so, so long (were actually about to start IVF) and I was losing hope. I was very sick throughout my pregnancy and, whilst I loved being pregnant, I spent the first half worried sick that I might lose the baby and the whole of the pregnancy feeling very woozy from low blood pressure and feeling dreadful from throwing up countless times a day.

But being pregnant was amazing. To feel that little life growing inside me was so wonderful.

However, that was nothing in comparison to the happiness that being a Mum has brought me.
Every day is a new and exciting adventure with our little man. I love watching him change, become ever more fascinated with the world around him and he is an utter joy.

My life is so much fuller and better with him in it and I love him more that he will possibly ever understand.

One year in… can’t wait to see what the next one brings us!

Walking, Talking, Discovering… It’s going to be a lot of fun!

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My, how things change! My altered parenting views

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As a first time Mum, I had all these grand ideas in my head of what kind of Mum I’d be. What I’d do and what I wouldn’t. I had a very specific birth plan that I really hoped would work out (waterbirth, TENS, Gas & Air and, god forbid, no other drugs). My baby was going to wear cloth nappies, I was going to just breastfeed, I would only feed him/her homemade organic food, I’d never allow him to get into a routine of falling asleep on me and of course he’d sleep in his lovely moses basket/ crib/ cotbed. I’d try to use a sling but I’d have a pram as well, I’d never even vaguely consider elimination communication and I did think that attachment parents were making rods for their own backs. Whilst I wanted to be close to my baby and nuture him/her as much as possible, I wanted him to ‘learn to self settle’.

Oh god. Things have changed. My perspective on many things, including the above has altered HUGELY. It’s amazing how utterly unprepared you can be for such a little, teeny person invading your life, albeit in an amazing way that you wouldn’t change for the world.

Luckily, for me, a lot of things I wanted to do have worked out. I got the birth I wanted, even though (apparently) I did yell that I wanted a ******* epidural at the time when my son’s head was crowning. Yup…that was obviously not going to happen! I was very lucky – there’s only one waterbirthing pool in our local hospital, and I got it. Lots of other ladies aren’t so lucky. I was also incredibly fortunate that there were no other complications at birth for me, or Monkey and that I have a happy, healthy little boy. I count my blessings for that every single day.

Yes, I got to (so far) use cloth nappies on my little one, although I have had to use some disposables at night due to the thicker night nappies making his reflux much worse. I wasn’t a happy bunny when that happened, but it wasn’t the end of the world. I absolutely (obviously!) LOVE using my cloth nappies and get a real kick out of seeing his cute, fluffy bum. There’s something so nice about seeing a baby with a padded cloth bum and I thoroughly enjoy my ‘nappy stuffing’ time in front of the TV. I find it very relaxing (aren’t repetitive things like that quite soothing!) and I get a sense of satisfaction when I see the nappies all looking rather funky and ready to be used. Yes, I know that they’re poo-catchers – but at least they’re nice, soft, breathable and well, ok – pretty – ones!

Breastfeeding has been a huge struggle for me and I’m now in the amazing position where not only is Monkey pretty much exclusively breastfed, I’m actually managing to pump and freeze a good amount for sending to nursery with him. I still have some prescription lactose free formula just in case, but thanks to the amazing support that I’ve had from my local breastfeeding specialists, I’ve managed to achieve that goal. The nursery I’m sending Monkey to have been very supportive in my decision to send in frozen breast milk for them to defrost and use as required and the whole system that I’ve put in place is working really well so far, along with pumping at work (which is something that initially concerned me).

As far as food is concerned, yes I do actually mainly manage to give Monkey homemade stuff. But a few (organic) pouches of food have crept into his diet and I’m fine with that. I was originally going to do just Baby Led Weaning, and I was very passionate about it – but after the specialists told us that he needed some purees/ porridge to help with his reflux, I did relent and there was a massive improvement. He loves his food and is really starting to enjoy playing with finger foods now, which is great. Seeing him shove a stem of broccoli into his face is hilarious and he adores sucking on French toast! Sometimes being a bit more relaxed about things is better and I’m happy with the balance that I now have. I did beat myself up about not doing pure BLW, but he’s happy – so I am!

Attachment parenting is a whole other issue! After Monkey was born, Mr Clothbum and I went with what felt right after struggling with a baby that just would not settle, no matter what we did. We soon discovered that he had very bad colic and reflux and that cosleeping, with him in a more upright position, was the way forward. And we haven’t really looked back. Monkey does go into his cot at night but in the early hours of the morning he’s usually in with us, cluster feeding on Mummy. It works – brilliantly – and we both love having our baby so close. He’s gradually learning to settle himself but it’s a slow process and we’re fine with that too. He’ll get there – when he’s ready. The only downside is that I’d love to be able to sleep in a position that’s actually (properly) more comfortable for me, but when Monkey is with us, that’s not something that is achievable. Mummy just sleeps in which ever position she’s allowed to lie in!

I know that it means that he won’t go easily to others overnight at the moment, but that’s really not an issue for us. We have no family that live near us, so there’s no one that Monkey will be going to stay with on his own, really. Also, as a breastfed baby – its easier to keep him near me anyway. Then I don’t have the hassle of expressing more than I need to.

Since having him I’ve started to read more on the subject and found that a lot of the things that we’re doing (that I had no name for) are linked to the work of Dr Sears (and attachment parenting – yes, I really had no concept of it before!) His way of thinking, in my book, is well worth a read and I also absolutely love Mayim Bialik (she used to play Blossom). Her approach to parenting is a very refreshing one and one that sits very well with me. There’s a bit of a debate about her decision to circumcise her sons, but in my opinion, that’s her choice as a Jewish person. I personally wouldn’t circumcise unless there were medical grounds, but I’m not religious and I don’t want to judge others and their beliefs.

Elimination communication is another area that I’ve been reading into with a degree of fascination. I’m nowhere brave enough to attempt this, but I am going to start putting Monkey on a potty after his meals once he is stronger and more secure at sitting up. That’s the method that my mother-in-law, and other people of her generation, used with their children and lots of us potty trained much earlier than children do nowadays. But if Monkey does PT early – I’ll have to stop using my lovely nappies!

Food for thought! Right now, there’s probably someone reading this who’s making umming and ahhing noises about me making virtual rods for my own back. Yes, I probably am! But I’m going to have amazing posture as a result!

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Clever Kit! The Yoomi Bottle and Warmer Review

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As I’m now working part time, which is involving a lot of weekday mornings, we have been looking around for solutions for feeding Monkey in the night, so that I can get a little bit more sleep in preparation for the working day.

As he’s a mainly breastfed baby (we have some prescription, lactose-free formula but that tends to be used in emergencies and in cooking), having Monkey feeding the countless times throughout the night that he sometimes still does is not really practical, so we started to look at bottles.

The only problem is that they take just so long to heat up, if you have to muck around with the kettle. By that stage, what might have been a bit of a whimper or a half cry, where he would usually pull himself across and land back on a boob, or be picked up from his cot and settled down to a feed, has often escalated into a full-on war cry of high pitched proportions that really isn’t good for creating a calm, sleepy environment for anyone and makes settling him back down a much more tricky operation.

So, when I came across the yoomi bottle, I was intrigued. http://www.yoomi.com I really wanted to have a play with one and the nice folk who make them sent me one over so I could do just that! The bottle is a rechargeable, self warming and BPA free bottle – it has a special warmer that slots in under the teat and heats the milk up within 60 seconds.

To use the heating element, you have to either put it in an electric steam steriliser for 25 continuous minutes (with four times the amount of water that the steriliser normally needs) or put it on it’s side in a pan of continuously boiling water for 25 mins. It’s got the same stuff in it that hand gel warmers have, so it needs to be recharged between uses. Once it’s charged up, you have to leave it for 75 minutes to rest and cool down, but it remains charged until you need to use it. If you use it before it is fully rested, you can permanently damage it. Each warmer is good for 100 feeds.

Ok – so I have to be honest – when I first read all that, it seemed like a little bit of a faff but I wanted to keep an open mind and went for it. We boiled up the water and charged up the heater. Whilst it’s a little time-consuming, it’s not really a hassle if you’re doing other things in the kitchen. I charged mine up one lunchtime when I was batch-cooking and feeding Monkey. Didn’t really take any extra time out of my day and I left it cooling whilst we went off to play and then have a little nap!

We got the bottle ready for a feed in the afternoon, thinking that this would be a good introduction to it as it’s quite a different shape from the ones that he’s been used recently (Dr Brown ones – the teat isn’t as wide). The bottle itself is nice and wide, with a breast-type anti-colic teat (which I really like as Monkey had dreadful colic when he was little). Without the warmer, it’s a very light bottle but I have to be honest and say that the warmer does add a significant amount of weight to it.

However, this weight is actually completely well worth it when you get to use the bottle and warmer together. I put breast milk from the fridge in the bottle and then went to use it. I pressed the orange button on the bottle warmer and followed the instructions carefully. The warmer rattles when it’s not ready to use and stops rattling when its ready and you give it a little shake. This takes about 30 seconds. You hold the bottle so that the teat is full of milk and you’re ready to go!

It worked remarkably well and I was very impressed. Monkey is really fussy about new bottles and cups but didn’t seem at all phased by this new one and the milk was at the right temperature for him. What a fab invention!

The only downside to the yoomi bottle is that once you’ve used the warmer once, then it has to be recharged (which involves a bit of time again). However, the bottle can be used without the warmer and you can buy warmers individually which would make the system work well as you could then always have a charged one at the ready.

As a bottle that we can use at night to give him a quickly warmed feed, it’s brilliant and does the job really well! The prices of a yoomi do look a little steep when you first see them, but they’re actually not bad once you take into account what you get with the feeding systems that they have on offer. For the ease and portability that you get with them, I think they’re a good item to have at home.

As I don’t really use bottles much, the yoomi does provide me with a useful bit of kit that will hopefully help Mr Clothbum to quickly give Monkey a calm and correctly-heated feed at night and allow me to get a little bit more sleep before I have to do the next feed. We will probably invest in a second heater and bottle just in case we need two but it will fill in that gap nicely before Monkey joins us in bed for a bit of co-sleeping and open-bar snacking in the early hours of the morning!

Daisytheclothbummum was not paid for this review and gave my time freely to do so. A yoomi bottle http://www.yoomi.com was sent to me for review but all thoughts and opinions stated here are my own.

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Memories are made of these…

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As Monkey is growing, I’m doing my best to keep up with all the photographs that we’re taking of him. My goodness – there’s LOADS of them and I’m finding it very hard to choose which ones I want to print out for keepsakes.

My mum made photo albums for all of us and I have so many fond memories of sitting, curled up next to her and looking through them. She must have got a little tired of going over and over the same photographs as I used to ask her to tell me stories about them – where we were, who the people were in them, etc. Those albums are very special and I’m now about to start scanning in all the photos from them so that I have digital copies, just in case anything ever happens to them.

Thinking back to those albums, it made me stop and think about something quite important. Our generation take so many photographs, thanks to digital cameras and memory cards – but how many of us remember to print them out? Hands up those who have images stored away on computers? Who’s actually remembered to back them up? How about making hard copies? And what about an actual print?

There’s so many photos that I don’t have backed up – it’s actually quite worrying when I stop and think about it. In fact, as I’m typing – I have a hard drive whirring away, backing up all those that I’d forgotten about and my plan for the next few weeks is to make a second backup and burn them all to CD’s so that I have multiples. It’d be heartbreaking if something went wrong and I lost them all.

And that’s the problem that a lot of us could face. But what made me stop and think even more is this thought. How many children nowadays actually get to flick through photo albums? How many get to FEEL a photo? I know it seems old-fashioned but there’s something so lovely about looking through real albums. They’re even nicer if someone has put them in there, along with comments or written information. I think it makes the whole experience really special and is great for posterity. Those children can then show them to their children, and so on… and so on…. (as long as the photographs haven’t degraded).

So, with that in mind – we’ve been making little photo albums for Monkey. Some of them have been done via an online printing company, so I can choose photos and type in information for them. I also have a whole stack of printed photos that I’m steadily putting into an album for him. It’s time-consuming, but it’s wonderful to look back at how much he’s grown already and I know we’ll have some lovely moments together looking through them.

I also got two wonderful Baby Memory Books when Monkey was born, which I’m also putting things into for him. Photos, information, hospital bands, dates of when he reached certain milestones, his weight and height charts/info. I have to make myself remember to do it, as there’s often not enough hours in the day – but they are looking so fab and I’m really pleased with them.

We also have a big memory box that I’m putting all kinds of things into. All of his cards from when he was born and his first Christmas have gone in there, along with his first babygrow and mittens. His little knitted hat and blanket that he got from hospital and a teeny little pair of blue dungarees. We also got the papers for the day he was born and his birth announcement. I think I might need to get a bigger box, though, as there’s no way I’m going to fit everything in over time!

The final thing that I’m doing is a lifetime journal. This has pages where you fill in information about yourself so that your children can find out what you were like. It’s a wonderful idea as I know that when my grandparents died, my parents had so many questions that they’d wanted to ask about their heritage/ their parent’s lives and had never got answers to. I’m just picking it up every now and then and writing a little bit in.

Which makes me wonder. What kinds of things are you doing for your little ones? Have you got any lovely ideas for them – ways in which they can have things to look back on in the future?

I’m off to add in more information about myself. Obviously – the slightly censored, not too brutal version! Mummy has to have some air of mystery about her… (plus I had far too much fun at Uni!!)

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Happy Mother’s Day!

The photo says it all! I rock!!!

Happy Mother’s Day, everyone! Hope you’re having a great day.

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