Thursday, 28 February 2013

Eating habits

Jasmine feeding herself at around 7 months

How can two children who were weaned in the same way have such different eating habits a couple of years down the line?

I ask this because Sonny is terrible with food.  He will not try anything new; he needs constant encouragement just to eat the few foods that he is comfortable and familiar with..  All of this is in direct contrast to Jasmine's attitude.  She will try anything and enjoys a huge variety of foods and meals.  She also eats a greater quantity of food at each mealtime.

For example, Jasmine requested mackeral fillets, cherry tomatoes and cucumber for lunch today.  Sonny said he didn't want lunch, so was given a cheese sandwich and some strawberries.  Jasmine's plate was licked clean (quite literally) whereas Sonny had one bite of his sandwich and then declared that he was done.

It baffles me, totally.

They were weaned in a very similar way.

Both began with rice and simple, homemade fruit purees at around 15 weeks of age, before progressing onto more adventurous flavours and, by seven months, textures.  Both enjoyed the whole process hugely - I disctinctly remember Sonny devouring a large bowl of mashed avocado at around five months.  Now he won't even touch a mashed potato.

Sonny getting a taste for blueberry puree

How can a child change that much in such a short space of time?  He is now not far off two and a half years old.  His eating habits have deteriorated since the age of around ten months and show little sign of improvement.  It could be that I'm fretting over nothing and the situation will pick up when Sonny is ready to try new things all over again.  But I'm not hopeful - I have met older kids, teenagers and even adults who are "fussy eaters".  To be honest, I've always shaken my head and thought, "I blame the parents."  Now I am the parent and face a daily battle with my son.

Is it really about the food?  I'm not sure.  I think he can't be bothered to eat, most of the time.  It's too much effort, almost, to sit at the table and finish a meal when he could be tearing through the house, playing with his toys.  I think, if he tried, he could regain his healthy appetite.

It's a good job I'm no quitter - I'm in this battle for the long haul.  I hope Sonny is prepared!

Sunday, 24 February 2013

What they don't tell you about girls

I recently read a post on girls, and the things people should tell you about what to expect from them.  It mentions the tantrums, the glitter, and the all-consuming pinkness of them.  To be honest, I was expecting it all.  What nature presented me with, though, was something altogether different.

Here are a few facts about my daughter:

She knows best.  Even when she is wrong, she is absolutely, completely confident in her opinion and will not be swayed.

She can talk for England.  Seriously.  To me, to Daddy, to her brother; to friends, to family, even to her toys.  I've frequently walked in on her talking to herself.

She is loud.  Properly, ear-splittingly loud.

She is fearless, agile and energetic.  Three attributes that can prove a panic-inducing combination!  The above photo was taken when she was just two years old.  I'm amazed I survived it.

She loves football and mud...but also ballet.

She likes to change her name, on occasion.  Usually to Tom.  During these times, she will categorically refuse to answer to anything else.  Particularly her actual name, or any variation thereof.

Sometimes, she wants to be a boy.

She is BOSSY. 

She hates having her hair tied up, however beautiful it makes her look.  She wants to grow it though.

She refused to wear a dress solidly between the ages of 18 months and 3 years.  About a year ago, I bought her a beautiful example and she made me take it back to the shop!  Occasionally she will wear one now, but usually only with leggings and often only with bribery.

She is very funny and has already grasped sarcasm.  I have no idea where she picked that up from though (ahem).

The one thing I do agree with, however, is that she has her Daddy wrapped round her little finger. Several times!

Decorating a shared bedroom

Jasmine and Sonny currently share a bedroom.  I say currently because that isn't the long-term plan, but it suits us for now.  They settle well together and enjoy the company.  One problem I have come across, however, is the issue of decoration.

Now, the room desperately needs decorating (and I mean desperately!), so the issue has become rather pressing.  How do we cater for the tastes of two children within one space?  Or, more precisely, how do we cater for two children of different genders within one space?

I've Googled it and marvelled at the creativity of others (I love the room pictured above, for example), but I'm having trouble marrying what I find with what my children like.

Sonny wants Thomas trains.

Jasmine wants Hello Kitty.


Hubby says split it right down the middle, absolutely 50/50.  Paint half pink and half blue, give them a curtain each, their own carpet and shelves etc.  Like two completely separate rooms.

I see where he's coming from, but I'd still quite like there to be a neutral, shared theme. 

Right now, I'm thinking neutral carpet, pastel curtains, pale yellow walls, BUT give them one wall each.  One wall that can be any colour they choose, can have posters on, drawings, stickers, trains, anything.  Their own shelves, their name stencilled on, whatever they decide.  Thereby giving them a sense of their own space within a shared room.

But that's just me.  What would you do? 

Saturday, 23 February 2013

What's on your desk?

Image from

For some reason, I couldn't think of anything to blog about today.  I know, terrible, eh?  Just a bit of a mental block.  Then I remembered something I've seen a few times - the "What's in your handbag?" post.

Now, to be totally honest, I don't really *do* bags - I have pockets (I'm a bit of a bloke like that).  I had one for a bit and it slowly filled with crap and then it broke.  I've not bothered since.

What I do have, however, is a desk and THIS is where my crap now accumulates.  Granted, it's not as portable as a bag but it does mean that I will never go to pay for something in M&S and pull out a tampon with my purse.  Again.  Because all that junk is right here.

The comprehensive inventory of my old desk reads as follows:

PC (and associated paraphernalia inc. external hard drive, speakers and webcam)
Laptop and charger (in case PC breaks?)
Mobile phone
Splonker (our word for remote control, inexplicably)
Two ornaments
Fifteen shells/pebbles
Two dice
Unopened post
A book about Italy
Debit card and cash (who needs a purse?)
Tape measure
Leapfrog lead
Some drawings from the kids
Lists (numerous)
A Chinese adaptor plug
Cameras (mine and Jasmine's)
Video camera (Jasmine's)
Driving license
Cigarettes and matches (hiding in a drawer, just in case...)
An Easter egg box (I have no idea where the contents went)
More books about Italy
Scissors and sellotape (two of each)
Crisps (my sister's)
Photos of the kids
Valentine's card
Salt dough initials (waiting to be painted and displayed in kids bedroom)
A pair of pink shoes that Jasmine grew out of when she was three months old
Body spray (hubby's)
More books on Italy (I may have a problem)
Bottle of water
Hair ties
Half a fish finger (SONNY!)
Some beads, in a drawer
Tea lights
An empty cup
A Thomas and Friends poster
A Santa hat
Baby wipes
The Gruffalo story book
Jigsaw puzzle pieces
There you have it - my desk. 

What's on yours?  Or, if you're a girl, what's in your handbag?

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Guest post: A screen-free childcare fail

Firstly, I would like to say thank you very much to Jen for letting me guest post over here today! I’m Jennifer, I’m Mum to Harry (4) and Mia (21 months) and I blog about parenting, craft and travel over at Jennifer’s Little World .

I was very taken with Jen’s recent post Screenless Sundays. Like everyone else, I was always going to be the Mum that never relied on the television as a babysitter. However almost since my son was born I have been reliant upon a screen – to entertain children, to calm them down or just to keep them out of the way for a bit while I get on with something else.

For this post, my intention was to spend an entire day looking after both my children without using a screen. I thought it can’t be that hard, after all it’s only in the last few years that screens have been available for child entertainment!

Unfortunately, I have to report that I didn’t manage it. The day began badly when I returned from the gym to find that the television was already on while my husband finished getting ready for work. However I turned it off as he left, and along with dressing and getting ready to go out it wasn’t missed before we spent the morning at the local baby and toddler group.

So far, so good. We came back, had lunch and then they pottered about for a bit while I cleaned up and even managed a bit of housework. It was a rainy day so we couldn’t go out, but we kept ourselves busy with a bit of gluing and Duplo.

It was late afternoon that it all fell apart. Mia has just started to drop her nap, and while it means that she goes off to bed easily she does struggle to keep going. She became whingy, which then progressed into screamy. Harry was winding her up, they were fighting over toys and we had entered a meltdown situation. I popped on CBeebies and it was like magic. Both calmed down, and even though they weren’t actually sitting there and watching it (neither of them ever sit still for long) they played happily in the living room while the television was on in the background.

I needed to make a start on the dinner, and this is the time of day when I struggle the most. I have cooked dinner many a time with a screaming toddler hanging off my legs, which isn’t safe when I’m working with hot saucepans. Having the television on meant that they stayed well out of my way in the living room until dinner was ready.

So I’m afraid that I didn’t even come close to managing a day without the television. Perhaps I could have managed it with another adult around to distract them. Admittedly there was also laziness involved - I could easily have taken them out somewhere undercover.

I don’t feel too bad. I do plenty with my children that doesn’t involve a screen, and I do believe in everything in moderation. But I have a lot of respect for people that manage to raise children without one!

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Screenless Sundays

The idea for Screenless Sundays came to me whilst I was, rather ironically, plonked in front of a boxset (or three) of Outnumbered.  The TV is often on in our house, as is the PC, and both can be huge distractions.  It is so easy to while away the hours on Facebook rather than doing something more constructive or social.  The children also enjoy watching films and CBeebies, playing with their electronic toys and have even started taking an interest in computer games.  With this in mind, I was merely curious, at first, if we could do it.  24 hours without staring at a screen.  No mobiles, no TV, no beloved Leapster Explorer for Jas, no laptops (regular or child-friendly), no iPods, no PC, no DS.

Frankly, it is quite a daunting prospect.  I am completely in the habit of checking emails/Facebook several times a day, of blogging as and when something occurs to me, and of using the television to fill the empty spaces between day and night.  However, I fully intend to raise children who can function without being plugged into something, therefore I must show them that I can be independent of technology myself.

The benefits of Screenless Sundays are, of course, numerous.  However scary I find the thought of being without the internet, etc, for one whole day out of every seven, I am well aware that we are more than capable of filling the hours with wholesome, bonding activities.  And the more I consider it, the more excited I become.

How much more can we see if we are out and about rather than inside and preoccupied?  How much more can we accomplish?  How many board games can we play, how many books can we read?  How far can we travel, together?  The possibilities are endless.

I have warmed to the idea to the extent that I plan to make 17/02/2013 our first Screenless Sunday. 

Wish me luck!

P.S. - Incidentally, I'm unsure whether to also include windscreens and camera screens as, although technically they are screens, I'm keen to argue that they could enhance the time we spend together.  Any thoughts on this would be appreciated.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

The first time ever I saw your face

On Friday 24th September 2010, my son was born.  Our second child, much-loved and hugely wanted.  His arrival marked the culmination of many long weeks of pain (a trapped nerve is not pleasant) and worrying.  I had been concerned that Jas would not take to her new sibling, that she would feel surpassed in our affections, surplus to requirements.  Resentful, maybe.  As you can see, my apprehensions were unfounded.  The above photograph was taken when Sonny was less than 12 hours old and captures the very first time that Jas saw his face.  It is one of my very favourites.  The look of wonder on the beautiful face of my encapsulates exactly how I feel every time I view both of my babies.  Proud, happy and amazed.

This post is Jen's entry into the Printerpix Photo competition.

Natural Born Worrier

My name is Jen and I am a worrier.  There, I've said it.  There's nothing I won't worry about - the house, our finances, health, politics, global economics, the fact that some people are still racist and/or homophobic in this day and age...  Mostly, I worry about my family.  The children, specifically; that's my default mode and can fill many moments that would have otherwise been spent happily relaxing.  Do I read to them enough?  Should they really watch television at all?  Do they exercise adequately?  Should they be partaking in so many extra-curricular activities...or should they be signed up to more?

Endless, really, once you start thinking about it.

And, usually, there's no point to it.  It doesn't change anything.  We don't have more money simply because I have devoted hours of my life to fretting about the omnipresent minus symbol in front of our bank balance.  The children are still healthy, sparklingly intelligent, energetic little beauties whether I act upon my anxieties regarding them, or not.  And the country is still full of arseholes whose belief that they are better than others simply because they live in a slightly different way is, frankly, startling.

Recently, though, there has been another worry added to the list, and this one is edging towards the top of the pile - the place where it will be addressed.  What, exactly, are we feeding our children (and ourselves)?  And when should we start to make changes?

Hubby thinks now, and, though rather more dubious at first, am now inclined to agree.  I wouldn't be so bothered about my children eating horse meat if that's what I had intended to feed them.  Same goes for any other animal that may subsequently be discovered within an otherwise harmless-looking sausage or chicken nugget.  Now that I have doubts, I feel the need to act on them in some way.  There is no way I could be privy to the information that has come to light in recent weeks and not come to the conclusion that I should alter the diet of my children, slightly.

I'm not talking about forcing veganism upon them.  In the first instance, I'm thinking along the lines of simply increasing the number of vegetarian meals we eat each week.  Rather than my root vegetable curry or roasted veg lasagne once a week, maybe it would benefit us all to eat only vegetarian meals during the week and reduce the meat to a good quality roast at the weekend.

According to just about every piece of research available, it would certainly be far healthier than consuming a lot of animal product; it's also a hell of a lot more economical.  And there's no mistaking a carrot, of course, whereas with a burger or sausage.... well, you know the rest.