Sunday, 23 December 2012

Hands down the best homemade Christmas decorations...

I saw these on Facebook back in November, but it's taken until now to actually give them a go.  I liked the idea of doing one of each of the kids hands, and then doing each each year as they grow.  As it is, I've got four different size Santa hands for this years tree.

santa hand print decorationI didn't follow the salt dough recipe that was on Facebook, I've had mixed success with salt dough in the past, so went for the following recipe:

1/2 cup of salt

1/2 cup of flour

1 tsp of oil

and enough boiling water to make a dough.

I mixed the dry ingredients and the oil and then added the water gradually to make a dough, as it was hot, it was a little harder to kneed, but that didn't matter too much.

That was more than enough for four hand prints, and enough for the kids to make some of their own things with.  Usually I would let them do it all, but I was being a bit precious about these, and wanted them to come out just right.

The most important things to remember when doing salt dough, is to make sure that it's properly dry, I left mine in a 100 C oven for over three hours, checking regularly.  Don't make them too fat, and if you do, make sure that they really are fully dry all the way through.  They also need varnishing, to stop moisture getting in.  The decorations we made a few Christmasses ago, only made it one year before mould started to find it's way in and they started to go soft.

So, here we are, my family of four hand print Santas, one from each of the kids.  I've noted the name and date on the back, so hopefully these will last for years to come and I can look back at how tiny their hands were.

Salt dough santa decoration keepsakes

Next year I might even try a few footprint trees and Rudolfs.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

You've got HOW many children?!

It's funny, it doesn't matter how many children you've got, other people seem to have set ideas on how many more you should or shouldn't have.  Actually, it starts before you've even got children, if you're in a long term relationship or recently married, then before long the "are you planning on having any kids?" comments start.  You'd think that the moment you had a child of your own though, this pressure to reproduce would stop, but I'm sorry to disappoint, it doesn't go away. 

Shortly after your first is born, the "do you think you'll have any more?" questions start, as though somehow one child is never enough and you should have another.  Then when the second arrives, opinion suddenly seems to split, some people think that you've had your quota and that you'd be mad to have any more, and others that you might have another.  After three, particularly if like me you have by now managed to have at least one of either sex, many people assume that you MUST be done.  Of course, any more than four would be madness.  Not that I'm desperate to have more children, but it does amuse me how the rest of the world has an opinion on the matter.


I should perhaps own up, I've been guilty of it myself.  Having babies is quite an exciting business, and it's always good to know if someone is planning on having more children.  On a more serious note, there are reasons to suggest that perhaps as a society we should have an interest in how many children people have or don't have.  Large families do place more of a strain on the worlds resources, and in the western world we already consume far more than our fair share of them. 

But really, when it comes down to it, it's no one's business but your own how many children you choose to have or not.  Whether you find other people's interest in it annoying or amusing, it really doesn't matter because on the days when it's raining solid, they can't get out to run off some energy and everyone's going a bit stir crazy, it's you who's going to have to deal with them, not your next door neighbour, who thinks it's about time you started a family.....

Monday, 29 October 2012

The curse of the mother in law......

Ahh, Mother in laws, that much attacked group, most people seem to have a love hate (or in some cases just hate) relationship with them.  Actually I really like mine, but of course it's never going to be a perfect meeting of minds.  I know we're all different, and when it comes to raising children there
are lots of different ideas about the right way to do things, but I know that with some things, she thinks my way is the wrong way. It's not as though she openly criticises the fact that I'm still
breastfeeding my toddler, or that my four month old hasn't started solids yet, it's more subtle than that: Little digs in unrelated conversations, suggestions based on what other people do, raised eyebrows in subtle disagreement when I mention my ideas.

With two boys of my own, I've often thought that if and when I'm in that situation, I'll be a little more understanding, a little less likely to judge. But, if I'm really honest about it, will I?  Do I honestly think I'd be the "perfect" mother in law. (Whatever that is!)

You see the problem is that with something as important as raising children, we don't like to think that we've got it wrong. Anyone who's witnessed the fireworks that surround any conversation about
the benefits of breastfeeding versus formula, early weaning or extended rear-facing in the car will tell you that people get very passionate about defending their parenting decisions. Imagine what
it would be like, to have another woman doing things very different to the way that YOU think is right and the way that YOU raised your children bringing up someone as important to you as your grandchild. Even if you both think along the same lines, new guidelines and ideas come out all the time, often suggesting that the old ways weren't a good idea.  No one really wants to accept that
what they did wasn't the absolute best for their child.

So of course I can understand why she might suggest things, and why we don't always see eye to eye, but it doesn't stop her from driving me a little bit crazy every so often....

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Tandem feeding troubles

This is the second time I've been a tandem feeder, I fed my now 4 year old with my now 2 1/2 year old for over six months, until my son (the 4 year old) self weaned.  This time round, we're about 4 months in to the tandem feeding, and I can't see my 2 1/2 year old showing any signs of wanting to stop.


In some ways it's nice, I think it helps with the jealousy, and my daughters are showing signs of becoming quite close.  But it's not all good, there are difficulties.  My eldest daughter like's a feed at bedtime, and my youngest is generally in the evening grumps stage, so I have to feed them both at once.  I know that I'm an experienced tandem feeder, but I struggle with actually feeding both at once.  It's much easier and far more comfy to breastfeed one and then the other, and I sometimes feel that by having to share the feed, my older daughter is missing out on the one on one time with me that she used to have.  Having said that, I'm not convinced that she's that bothered.

The other MAJOR downside is illness, we all know that breastfeeding is supposed to help children to resist illness and boost their imune system, but what happens when the older one is ill?  My baby is bound to get it too.  With the odd cough and cold, things haven't been too bad, but last week hand foot and mouth struck.


Not really the kind of thing that I want my four month old coming down with, but by the time the symptoms showed it was probably too late.  It's difficult though, what to do, I don't want to pass these things on to my youngest, but I don't really want to deny her sister the comfort of a feed, especially when she's unwell.....

So, I read around, did a bit of research, and in actual fact tandem feeding was probably the best thing for both of them.  The chances of Anja not coming into contact with her older sisters bugs was pretty slim, especially as we didn't know she had anything.  But by feeding her I'm helping her immune system deal with it, and by feeding my older daughter too I'll be helping her beat the bug.

They both seem to be doing ok now, Lena is all but over it, and Anja has had a few spots on her feet, a slightly grumpy day (which could just as easily have been down to teeth at this age) and nothing else so far.  Touch wood they're both on the mend now.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Tick tick tick...................................

So the boys birthday's have been and gone, Mahe is now 4 and Kai 6. How did that happen? It's such a cliche but time really does fly by, one minute they're tiny little babies and the next they growing up fast.

Still, I can't really complain, yes they are growing up, but they are lovely boys, and when I look at how much they've changed and what we've done in the last six years, then perhaps it isn't that quick at all. It's more likely that once you have children they don't give you chance to notice how fast time is going. They change so quickly too that the passage of time is just more obvious, I suppose.

So, happy birthday boys, just the parties to go now, eeeek

Thursday, 6 September 2012


When I was little, mice were my favorite animal.  I even had a toy mouse I carried everywhere.  (Incidentally, should any one know the name of a children's book where a class of children all make mice from buts of fabric and name them after themselves, I'd be eternally grateful).  How has this love of mice been repaid?  Well I think it's safe to say that my love of them has not been returned.

We've been invaded by them from time to time in the last couple of years, which to be honest is a pain.  But the worst mouse "attack" came sometime just before Anja arrived.  I've made all of my children a beautiful crochet shawl, each a different design, with the thought they could keep them as they grow older.  Anja's was sitting ready in a draw with a selection of other baby jumpers and cardigans knitted mostly by my Mum and me.  After she was born I asked for the shawl to be brought to the hospital, so I could wrap her in it for the journey home.  Only to be told that it had three holes and a number of tell tale black poo's scattered throughout it.  Twelve weeks on, and I'm still in the process of remaking it for her :(  Fortunately nothing else in the draw was harmed, but I gave it all a good wash. 

I'm pretty sure that mice are not longer my favourite animal!


Tuesday, 19 June 2012

And her name is...........

Well our little lady is ten days old now, (already, how did THAT happen) and it's probably about time that we shared her name with the rest of the world. So, drum roll, here it is, we've decided to call her Anja. The only problem is that we don't have a middle name yet, so any suggestions would be gratefully received, to fit with the others it needs to be short, but other than that, we're open to any ideas.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

A week ago we were still in hospital, little Miss was only a day old, and I was trying to get a bit of extra rest after a few sleepless nights before I even had her. Time has just flown, and yet at the same time, gone really slowly. I can hardly believe that it was only just over a week ago that I was still pregnant and I hadn't met her yet. Just over a week ago that I had three children not four. Just over a week ago that I was sick of being pregnant and just wanted her here, now. So much can happen in such a short space of time, it feels as though she's always been here.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Welcome little Miss...

From the moment that I knew I was pregnant again, I expected to have a slightly early than due date baby. My first two had been over, (9 and 6 days) admittedly, but my third had arrived 3 days early, so logically this one would be slightly earlier still. Of course I was forgetting one important fact, babies don't generally follow patterns, and really I was foolish to think that mine would. The 6th of June, (my due date) came and went and still no baby, I'd been quite happy to go over before, but as I really wasn't expecting it this time, I felt really miserable. That night I woke with quite strong contractions, and began to think that maybe this was it. Finally at around 5am, I drifted off, and things had ground to a halt, so now I was miserable, tired and completely over it.

My midwife came round to see me at home, for my weekly visit, and she pointed out that one day late wasn't really “over-due” as such, and I couldn't really complain. We discussed plans for what would happen if there was still no baby in a week, although she had every confidence that things would happen sooner than that. I can't say that I shared her optimism at that point, especially as we had all been saying that, with all the signs I'd had for well over two weeks now.

I went to playcentre as normal, and had a nice sit down with a cup of tea while they took all the kids to see a digger working up the road. I had thought maybe being there might help kick things off, as it was something to keep me busy, but I didn't even have a twinge. I was having a lot more show though, I'd been having bits and bobs for the last two weeks, but suddenly it had upped a gear, and every time I went to the loo I was getting heaps.

Bed time came, and in all honesty I'd had less tightenings and crampy feelings than I'd had in days, so I really wasn't expecting much. Lena woke up at around 1am though, and I went and got in bed with her for a bit, just to settle her. At around 2am, I woke up with quite a strong contraction, and made my way back to bed. I tried to stay there for a while to see what would happen, fully expecting the same as had happened the previous night, but it wasn't long before I felt that I needed to get out of bed to deal with them. By around 5 am, it was clear that things were actually progressing, and that this might really bit it. I got Mike to call his Mum, and gave my midwife a call. She was already at the hospital, and had been up all night with another delivery. Bit of a shame, but never mind.

At around 6.30 I felt a pop inside, and suddenly felt rather wet. I shouted Mike to bring me a towel, and somehow managed to keep any mess off the carpet. I tried to put on some clean pants and my jeans, so that I would be ready to go, but I just couldn't do it. Instead I grabbed another clean towel, and wore that to the hospital instead.

Mike's Mum was still quite a way off our house, and I was beginning to feel that I needed to get to the hospital, so we arranged to meet up with her on route, and swap cars, so that she could drive the kids back home. Mike piled them into the car, and then I got in, trying to get comfy between contractions, easier said than done while travelling in the car. It didn't seem to be long before we were swapping cars, and then pulling up outside the hospital. I must have looked a right sight; lower half wrapped in a towel, slippers on, and just a t-shirt and old cardi on my top half. It was freezing too, but I really didn't care at that point.

When we arrived we were shown to the delivery room, but my midwife was dealing with an emergency with her other delivery. I just lent over some chairs and rocked back and forth with each contraction. As soon as she was able, my midwife came in and checked my progress, I was already at 10 cm, although I was feeling no urge to push yet, there was just a lot of pressure. I continued in the bending over position, first of all over the chairs and then kneeling on the floor, rocking with each contraction, and breathing through it all. As Toni, my midwife had been up all night, she called in another midwife to help her, a student midwife came in to help to begin with, and gave me sips of iced water whenever I felt I needed them, and helped mop my brow. Then Judy the closest midwife from the “team” arrived to help, followed not long after by Nicky, who was supposed to be the back up midwife. So, my very easy, straightforward birth had three midwives and one student midwife in attendance.

After a while I decided I needed to wee, and once I was sitting on the toilet, I just didn't want to move. It was so comfortable, the contractions were even easier to deal with in that position. All of a sudden though, gravity kicked in and I had the uncontrollable urge to push, I'd breathed the baby down as far as I could and now it was time to get things moving. I was helped off the toilet, and back into the delivery room. Unfortunately, moving back into the all fours position meant that the urge to push vanished. After two contractions passed, and I had what felt like long breaks between each one, I still didn't feel the need to push, so I tried sitting back on my heels. Bingo, there it was again, there was a glimpse of the head, but the urge was gone before I got any further. Two more contractions passed with nothing and then it was back, this time the head was right there, but still in no hurry to fully come out. It was quite annoying to feel it slip back again, but one of my (many) midwives said that this was the best way to do it, stretch everything, so there was less chance of tearing. Two more contractions, and then we were on again, and the head was out. Mike was in position to catch the baby, who had the cord looped around the neck, and then with one more contraction and push she was out. Mike caught her, and then handed her though my legs so I could hold her against my chest. She had lots of black hair, and I couldn't believe that I had another little girl.

I was helped onto the bed, and was soon feeding like a pro, while I delivered the placenta. We waited until it had stopped pulsing, before Mike cut the cord, and then I delivered it ten minutes or so later, without the injection. I was checked out, and apart from a little scratch or two, was all intact, so the stretching must have helped. Apparently my perineum looks as though I've never had kids!

All that was left was to have the best tea and toast I've ever had, the best shower I've ever had, and to weigh my lovely little lady. Who was a little bigger than her sister and one of her brothers had been, at a healthy 8lb 8oz. So there you have it, baby number four, and my best birth to date.