Friday, 31 December 2010

The Runaway train came down the track, and she blew...

After the appalling night last night, we deserved a treat. So off we trundled with our Symbio to Pant, to the Brecon Mountain Railway to have a ride on a real life steam train.

Squeaky greeted the station with her usual level of confusion.  symbio 001

Despite her lack of appreciation of all things steam-train related, we went and had a look at the engine.  symbio 002

The carriages themselves were very, very narrow.  I saw a couple with a lightweight stroller, and they had to collapse it to get it on.  As I was on my own with Ms Squeaky, that wasn't really an option.  Fortunately, the rear/front carriage was wider, and the guard helped me lift the Symbio on board, so Squeaky could have her ride, and look out the window. symbio 003

I say rear/front carriage because the engine turned around to pull us back in the opposite direction. I'm not a travel-sick kind of person, and the train was fairly quiet, but I can picture some people getting concerned if they'd picked a forward facing seat, and it then turned into a rearward one.

We stopped at the halfway point, got off, and I had a sherry & mince pie that Santa had left for the grown ups (he'd had his grotto there until last week), and Squeaky had a bite of lunch.  The engine was taking on water & coal, and making a lot of steam.symbio 014

Off we set again, all pturshticwm. (Sorry, I'm channelling Ivor The Engine, I think)

And then, before you know it, we were back in Pant, and admiring the engine again before it went off on its next trip.symbio 017

The railway's lovely. Not a great long journey, but lots of pretty scenery, much better in the summer than a chilly December day, but even so, well worth the visit.  Come to Merthyr, we have tourist attractions, honestly!

Things that go *BUMP* in the night

One thing I've learned over the past almost-year (oh sweet Pete, she's going to be 1 in a couple of weeks!) is that no matter how many times you say "I'm not going to do X", life's not that simple.  Babies don't read the book.

Last night, Squeaky went to bed beautifully, asleep in 20 minutes, snuffling peacefully to herself.  So I went in the shower.  That was my mistake. She knows when I'm out of circulation for a few minutes, and so she started crying.  No, not crying, screaming & howling, like she was in pain.  SqueakyDaddy went up to her to try and settle her, to no avail.  Calpol, Bonjela, no change.  We brought her downstairs, by which point her diaphragm is in spasm &she's gasping (I won't call it hiccuping, but it's not a million miles removed), and still howling.  I got half a wrap of Teetha into her, the rest went down her front, and the chamomile seemed to settle her a little bit, and she went from howls of pain to "normal" angry & tired crying.  Still with no intention of settling down.

So I gave in.  Bear in mind at this point, I've been in the shower, and so I'm in my pyjamas.  Unzipped the bottom of her growbag (Ikea, I love you right now), stuck her in the car seat, grabbed a cardigan so I didn't look completely weird, and off we go for a drive.  Half a minute after setting off, she's dropped off.  A nice 20 minute ride round the bypass to make sure she was actually asleep & not just pretending, and back home.  Left her a few minutes in the car seat when we got back in the house (yes, she still uses her infant carrier, she's too weeny for the next car seats yet), and then to bed.

Blissfully, she only woke once after that, about half 3, so we got a decent night's sleep once we'd all calmed down.  But I swore I wasn't going to drive round with her to send her to sleep, I'm too worried about it becoming habit, that she won't sleep without a tour of Merthyr & the soothing tones of whoever was on Radio 4 at 10 last night.  But needs must, and if I hadn't, she'd probably still be howling now. 

She's fine this morning, you wouldn't know any difference. And we're not so bad, because she let us sleep most of the night.  But ARGH! I'm so cross with myself for giving in to the driving around til she falls asleep tactic.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Happy Betwixtmas!

We're back, after a lovely Christmas break with Squeaky's various grandparents.  Now just catching up on the mountain of washing - I swear it's been breeding while we were away!

One thing with being away though, because there was so much other stuff in the car (travel cot, presents, clothes, us, etc), we didn't take the Symbio with us, and relied on the older strollers that live at our parents' houses.  What a difference!  I missed my suspension, the cosytoes, the brake, and most of all the flippy handle!  So much so, I wrote a song.  I would have sung it and put it on youtube, but I don't like attracting the attention of overly-litigious record companies. So you'll have to hum it yourself.

With apologies to Sting & The Police...

Every step I take
Walking 'round the lake
It's true you know
Graco Symbio
I've been missing you

Even on Christmas Day
When we went to play
In the freezing snow
Graco Symbio
I've been missing you

Wednesday, 22 December 2010


I've just had an email from someone very important. Can you guess who?

Santa has just emailed me to say that he's written a special letter to Squeaky.  Unfortunately he's sent it by normal post, rather than Super Special Penguin Post, so I'm relying on Peter Postie (honestly that's our postie's name, and that's what he puts on those little notes to say he's taken something back to the sorting office) to turn up in the next couple of days. I haven't seen him for a week, so I really hope he gets it here in time for Squeaky to open before Christmas.

We're still fairly comprehensively snowed in. My car is completely immoveable, SqueakyDaddy's is OK, and the main roads are passable, if you can get to them.  We're meant to be driving up to the Midlands on Friday, so we're just hoping it will be halfway reasonable.  I think Squeaky & I are going to spend the day drinking overpriced coffee in Cardiff while daddy's at work, and then we can go from there, rather than messing about coming back here.

*Fingers Crossed*  We've got enough adult food to last a few days, enough baby food and nappies for about 10.  By then it'd better have cleared, or else!

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Computer Says No

Well, if not the computer, then Squeaky Says No, but that doesn't have quite the same ring to it!

She's getting more & more into expressing her opinions now, for good or bad.  So we get "Yeah yeah yeah yeah" or something that sounds like it, in the midst of her babble, but it's fairly well timed, so I'm not sure if she really is saying "yeah" to things.  Often "are you the cutest?" or "Do you want your bum done?"

She hasn't actually said "No" yet, but there's definite headshaking when I ask her to do something she doesn't want to, and a defiant little look on her face.  Oh, and the WAILING-oh-dear-me-the-world-has-ended when I stop her playing with whichever inappropriate item she's just discovered & decided to menace (most recently, my make-up box).

It's strange to see her mind work... she knows when she's not supposed to do something, and looks round to see if she's being watched, giggles, and then carries on regardless.  Little rascal.  And she bites.  Only me, but by goodness does she bite hard.  Not sure how to deal with this, to be honest.  She's not trying to do it to anyone else, and doesn't appear to be doing it maliciously, she's just chewing down on my hands, or the top of my boobs.  So far it's being met with a firm "NO", and removing whatever body part she's trying to eat, but it's not really stopping.  Ah well, this too will pass, I hope.

Monday, 20 December 2010

The Tower Teddy Show

Tower Teddy & special guests have recorded a Christmas Special, all about the Graco Symbio.  There's drama, excitement, suspense, and general silliness.  Watch it!

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Let the train take the strain

I needed to do a last bit of Christmas shopping today, before the weather turns again, and shopping in proper shops, not just the same old few that Merthyr has to offer.  So, rather than braving traffic, car parks & obscene parking charges, Squeaky, the Symbio & I jumped on the train to Cardiff.  Jumped being the operative word.  The train was in the station as we RAN up the slope, and we just got on before the conductor closed the doors.  Phew!  This train was pretty easy with the Symbio, a nice single step entry, and plenty of parking spaces for buggies, wheelchairs etc.  Off to a good start.

What's this then?

The journey's pretty dull to be honest with you.  I'd grabbed a shopping bag out of the back of the car before we set off, and on looking inside, I found some tinsel.  Hmmm.  Do you know what happens when I'm bored, and there's tinsel?  Something's going to end up sparkly!


The shops themselves proved to be fairly, well, shoppy.  Not too busy because it was a Wednesday, and even finding a seat in the coffee place wasn't too much of a challenge.  One thing I've discovered since having Squeaky is how many lifts there are, tucked away in corners you'd never have noticed otherwise.  However, there's still a few useless places.  Step forward & take a bow Benetton.  One escalator (up), one set of stairs.  Children's clothes on the top floor.  NO way to get to them.  The Symbio may be light, but with a Squeaky in it, it's not THAT light.  Oh well, they can't have wanted my money, I just had to spend it elsewhere!

Mooch mooch, shop shop.  Decided to come home before it got too late, and the trains got too busy.  The trains are a nightmare after 4, you can't get a seat for love nor money, and I didn't fancy squashing Squeaky onto the commuter train either.  So off we trrundled to the station, complete with its bilingual signs.

Where's the train?

And along came the train home.
Here it is!

This train was a bit more difficult.  Two steps on - though there was a ramp, the conductor wasn't being visible or offering any assistance.  No buggy/wheelchair spaces, and such a narrow aisle, the only place we could go was right next to the door.  Grump grump, groan groan.  But we managed.  Squeaky wore her new hat and got grouchy.

Are we nearly home now?

Finally though, I found something to occupy her.  A little bit of work experience, as a ticket collector.

Tickets please

The Symbio was great, the trains varied.  I'd've struggled more with the old buggy, so it's got to be a win.

The hat?  Angelic Upstart, from preschoolpunk.  Adorable or what?

Tuesday, 14 December 2010


After a week of near internet-silence, I'm back!  Don't worry, I hadn't fallen off the side of the world, or damaged myself, just the computer decided to have a bit of an existential crisis and needed to go for a little holiday.

But we're back now, with a little update to remind you that we're around.

TBH, even without the computer to distract us, we didn't get up to an awful lot last week.  Doctor's appointment to get them to look at Little Miss Squeaky's eczema (poor little mite), and visiting pretty much every relative under the sun seems to cover it.

But we did indulge ourselves with a trip to the car boot sale on Sunday.  Not that we were really looking for anything, but we went anyway.  The ground was horrible, all frozen & lumpy and slippy, but the Symbio coped admirably, far better than me in my boots.  And the blessing of it being frozen, I guess, is that everything stayed clean.  A little more thawing & I'd still be hosing the mud off now.  I love the way the cosytoes can fold down over the bar, or up, practically to Squeaky's nose.  She's a little demon for sticking her hands out into the cold, but this way she stays lovely and toasty warm.

Car Boot Baby

Sunday, 5 December 2010

I won't lie to you, the Symbio's crackin'

Oh! What's occurrin'?

Well, I've been looking at the telly for Christmas, and to be honest, there's not a lot on.  So Squeaky & I decided to have our very own Christmas Special edition of Gavin & Stacey, and had a little tour of Barry.  Come & join us.

First of all, we packed the Symbio into the car.  I just realised, I haven't shown you this before.  If it fits in here, which it does with room to spare, it'll fit in your car too, unless you've got one of those Smart things with no space to fit a hamster wheel.  (Well, actually, really first SqueakyDaddy scraped the ice off the car, but I didn't take pictures of that.)

All packed up & ready to go

This is Barry Island Pleasure Beach.  Funfair by the sea, sadly closed for the winter, and barely open this summer, by the looks of the weeds growing through the paving.  We wanted to go on the Pirate Ship. :(

Barry Island, innit?

Our first stop on the Gavin & Stacey tour was Marco's, where Stacey works when they come back to Barry.  They do a fine cuppa, and are always busy, even though the seats are all outside & despite the sunshine, my car said it was Minus Zero.  Yes, that's a real temperature, according to my car.  We were VERY glad of our cosytoes.

Stacey's Cafe

Then, round the corner to Boofy's.  Gavin & Stacey's favourite chippy, according to his sign.  Mine too, truth be told.  They do a lovely bacon bap, and the bloke working there was aces, & told me how to find Gwen's house.  I knew roughly where it was, but he gave me proper directions & everything.  And he smiled for a photo, which is always good.

The Chippy

A couple of doors further down, to Island Leisure which, when it's open, is where Nessa works in her little booth & stops people winning on the slot machines.  Being a bitterly cold Sunday morning in December though, it was closed.  I would've had a go on the machines otherwise.  Really, it's hard to stop me feeding 2ps into the machines, in a very scientific experiment to see exactly how much fun can be had from £1.  (Winner so far - somewhere in Torquay - £3.46 and a pool ball).  Anyway, Nessa'a arcade.

Nessa's Arcade

I didn't go down on the beach, partly because it was so c-c-c-c-cold, and partly because I really didn't fancy brushing the sand off the wheels of the Symbio in the aforementioned cold. I want to keep my Symbio nice & shiny, thanks. Just before leaving the island, we spotted this gift shop.  Most of Barry Island seems to have become a Gavin & Stacey theme park now, everywhere is full of mugs, t-shirts, rock, etc with catchphrases on, or someone's face.  Strange old world.

Ye Olde Gifte Shoppe
Then we drove off the island, into Barry itself.  And to Gwen's house.  Oh My Gooses.  I joke about living on the side of a mountain, but seriously.  I've never driven up a road so steep in my life.  I honestly didn't believe the car was going to get up the hill.  Number 47, Gwen's house, and number 45 (just visible), Doris' house, are on a less steep bit, with Bryn's house just over the road.  The lady who lives in number 47 is happy for visitors to knock her door & come in & have a look & sign her guest book, but we were just too cold to get out of the car.  (I was parked when I took this, by the way, don't worry)

Gwen's House

And after all that excitement, Squeaky & I went to Morrisons for a cuppa.  Not at all related to Gavin & Stacey, but warm, convenient & cheap.  Mama needs her coffee, and we shared a yogurt & fruit snack bag.  Squeaky would also like to draw your attention to her top, which is the Feu Follet top we got in the Nearly New a couple of weeks back. She's very proud of her continental stylings.

Mama needs her coffee

And that concludes our adventure.  I could've tried to find the Billericay house, which is somewhere in Dinas Powys, but the last time I went there I crashed my car, so probably not a good idea (I crashed it in Newport, but that's not the point).  I could've gone to Marks & Sparks' at Culverhouse Cross, which also pretends to be in Billericay, but that involves dealing with horrible roundabouts that I'd rather avoid, so I didn't. I could've gone to Cardiff Gate services, which pretends to be Leigh Delamere or something in the last special, but that's a bit of a ride away.  And I don't know which of the caravan sites Nessa & Dave's caravan is on, so I couldn't go there.  So that's your lot.  Squeaky, the Symbio, and a Gavin & Stacey tour all of our own.  You can do this on an organised trip if you want, but we had loads of fun on our own.  Where to next?

Monday, 29 November 2010

Put On Your Big Girl Shoes

...And take it like a man?

Sorry, bad joke hour, it seems.  We've been out & about today, braving the weather to keep from going crazy.  First stop the library, for a couple of new books each, including a very exciting looking Maisy book for Squeaky.

Then for a coffee & cake in a lovely new cafe, Caramac Coffee, in town.  They've not been open long, and I spotted them at the weekend, shortly after having had a coffee elsewhere.  OMG, cupcakes to die for.  Chocolate cupcake with green frosting & glitter.  I had to share it, because madam was too interested to take no for an answer.  I also persuaded them to sign up for the Breastfeeding Welcome Scheme, so that's another voucher for me!

And then! Big adventure. As she was awake and sociable, we popped into Clarks's to try getting her feet measured again.  Last time she was too small for even their smallest shoes. Now, she's just about into the smallest size.  Only just, but all the same.  And I'd like to see her try to get buckles undone - though I put nothing past her, she can manage every other style I've tried.  They even take a photo when you get your first pair fitted, look!  Isn't that lovely?

This is NOT a sponsored post, just what we've done & where.

HIPP Organic Jars Review

I was lucky enough to be sent some HIPP Organic jars for Squeaky to try out, recently. Like 40% of mums in HIPP's survey, we mix & match home made foods & jars - for convenience, for reliability (she can be a fussy creature some days), and for variety. I also think the jars are a good way to try out new flavours before including them in my own cooking - I don't feel so bad if she turns down something from a jar, rather than something I've made.

We received the Lancashire Hotpot, Spaghetti with tomatoes & mozzarella, Cocoa & vanilla dessert & Rice pudding with apple & pear. I've bought both the savouries before, but not the desserts, we tend to go for fresh/chilled desserts normally, but these are great if you're out & about.

And for the verdict... Spaghetti is the favourite, seriously, she'd eat this for every meal if I let her. It looks like proper grown-up food, and goes down a treat. Close runner up was the Cocoa dessert, she's only recently taken to chocolate flavours, but after the first spoonful, it was met with great enthusiasm. I sneaked a little try myself, and it's really tasty!

HIPP are running a winter warmer competition on their facebook site at the moment - see if you can be a winner! Or find out more at 

Disclosure: I was provided with 4 jars of HIPP Organic food free of charge for the purpose of this review.  I was not told what to write, and all opinions are my own.  Links are provided for your convenience only, I am not a member of any affiliate scheme & will not receive reward for their use.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Cheese Straws!

As promised (though without a cut, I'm still not that smart), the recipe for the cheese straws I made the other day.  The book's going out on loan to another mum soon, so I've got an ulterior motive in as much as I want to make some more while it's elsewhere.  No apologies for imperial measurements, I'm Old Skool! 

4oz plain flour
2oz butter, plus extra for greasing
2os grated cheddar cheese
1 beaten egg

Sift the flour, chop the butter into small pieces & rub in to the flour until it turns like breadcrumbs.
Add the cheese and half (or slightly over) the beaten egg to the mixture.  Combine with your hands until it forms a dough and the bowl comes clean.  Wrap in cling film & put in the fridge for half an hour.
Preheat the oven to 200c/Gas Mark 6. (My recipe book told me to do that as step one.  Before half an hour of chilling?  I think not!)
Sprinkle some flour on a work surface &roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thick.  Cut into strips, to the size & shape that make you happiest.  Or you could make them cookie shaped if you wanted, I guess.
Place on a greased baking sheet.  Brush generously with the remaining beaten egg.  You could sprinkle them with sesame seeds, a little parmesan, or whatever takes your fancy here.
Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until lightly golden.  Don't cook for too long or they'll dry out.
Cool & serve or store in an airtight box for up to 4 days.  Ha!  As if!  They're gorgeous warm, straight out of the oven.

Saturday, 27 November 2010


Gosh, the snow's a bit unexpected, isn't it? I was happily sitting in my breastfeeding peer support training yesterday morning, when I spotted the first little white flutter, and within an hour it was properly sticking.  Brrrrrr!  The girls at the peer support group were very impressed with the Symbio, and I had to keep popping outside to demonstrate it to them.  I was very glad it's so light, too, as I had to push Squeaky up the snowy hill from the class to the car park before we could go home.  Our other pushchair would have been pushing me back down the hill!

We spent yesterday afternoon hiding out in the house, making cheese straws.  They definitely get the Squeaky seal of approval, as well as the Mummy & Daddy approval.  Definitely moreish.  If I can work out how to do a cut on here, I might go as far as to give you a recipe, but that's something for another day, 'kay?

Today we decided to stave off cabin fever by heading out into the big wide world.  It's pretty much impossible to get the car out of our road when the snow hits, we're on a steep hill, on the side of another steep hill (does that make sense?).  Last year (well, January this year really), I was hugely pregnant in the snow, and completely stuck in the house for 2 weeks, as I couldn't get past the front door for fear of falling onto my bump.  Very glad that's over.

We wrapped ourselves up nice & warm, gave a silent thanks to Graco for sending us the cosy-toes to go with the Symbio, and walked into the village.  No plan of where to go & what to do, so decided to jump on the bus & head to town.  Snow

The big wheels on the Symbio, as well as how light it is, made it really easy to get onto the bus, and the swivelling front wheels meant we could get into the space at the front with no problems.  Brake on, and away we go.  SOMEone slept through the whole journey, which goes to show how comfortable she was.  On the bus  The subtitle to that photo is "This gives me an idea..."  which it does, or I wouldn't have said it (durrr).  I'm not going to say what my idea is just yet, it's going to take a little bit more planning, but it could be a lot of fun.

Town was freezing, though the streets were nice & clear, and we had a happy shopping excursion, not spending much, but trying to.  The Symbio was lovely to manoeuvre around, and comes in slightly narrower than its predecessor, as I could fit through a couple of gaps I've got stuck in before.  After a while, we popped into the pub for a spot of lunch (fish & chips, yummy), and to warm up our freezing hands.  Chillin'

As you can see, we got the "Moon" grey colour version of the Symbio & cosy-toes.  While I've been loving pictures of the red, I can just imagine it clashing with the snowsuit.  Grey is perfect for us, so stylish, and goes with my roots!

Monday, 22 November 2010

The big day arrives!

After a week or so of antici...pation, the big day has arrived.  And with it, the Symbio!  A couple of false starts, the postie and the breakdown guy both knocked my door without giving me a shiny new travel system, but just before 2 o'clock, the knock I'd been waiting for - the UPS guy.  And of course, I was armed with the camera.  UPS Dude

Not entirely sure he was expecting to have to pose for photos on a Monday afternoon, but he was very obliging.

Nothing in this house can be done without Squeaky's assistance, including opening boxes.  She decided that as the chair was for her, she would be the first to see what it looked like. What's in the box?

As we are good girls, we read the instructions before we started trying to put the chair together.  Instructions

Not that it was difficult at all.  The whole thing took less than 20 minutes, and that included getting the black plastic stuff off the cosy-toes box.  Oh, yeah, Graco gave us a cosy-toes as well.  A very welcome extra treat in this cold weather.  Do they come in adult sizes?

And there you have it, one completed Symbio, with added baby.  All done!

Of course, it's no use having a lovely new travel system if it just stays in our living room.  So we put on our coats, climbed into our cosy-toes, and went for a stroll.  A quick lap of the park, and a ride on the swings, and we're ready for our tea.  Do you like rice pudding?  Trial Run

I wonder what adventures tomorrow will bring?

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Weekend Round-Up

Only a quick post for you today, internet.  This week has been busy, one way or another.  Not how I'd've liked it to be, but busy all the same.

After our trip to the NCT sale last Saturday, we went into Cardiff, where Squeaky managed to catch a stomach bug (THANK YOU people with the ill child and very smelly nappy in St David's Centre - if your child is that ill, don't take them out!), which has kept us all being sick & smelly all week.  The washing machine has been on overdrive.  Squeaky's fine, but still a little bit lacking in appetite (as we all are to tell the truth), but we've had a whole week off from our normal activities, and she's bored at home now.

We've also grown a new tooth.  Not the other top front tooth that I was expecting, but the one to the other side of the existing top front one (the one dentists would call 2).  The one we're still waiting for is visible, just not breaking the surface yet.  I wish it would get on with it, though obviously the 6th isn't going to be far behind. Does teething ever actually stop?

She's also learned this week how to put a ball into a stacky cup, and tip it out again, which is hours of entertainment, and that baths can have bubbles in them!  Did you know that?  Squeaky thinks it's very exciting and you should all know all about the bubbles!  She's a little bit unsure whether they're a good thing or not, the principle is ok, but actual bubbles on her hands are a bit strange and she gets very concerned.  But they do go away when she splashes the water about, so that's what we have to do.

Oh!  And we saw a Christmas tree for the first time!  We went into town yesterday afternoon, just as it was getting dark.  The lights were switched on on Friday, and there was a big tree in the shopping centre, all lit up with little silvery lights, and covered in big silver baubles.  So we had to spend a good ten minutes looking at our funny reflection in the balls, and the twinkly lights, while wrapped up like a snowbaby in our spotty snowsuit.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Off to the sales

Yesterday, Squeaky & I had Big Adventures.  We first went off to Pontypridd to meet Boyd Clack, as he was signing copies of his autobiography.  I know that name probably means nothing to anyone outside Wales, and may only ring vague bells to anyone living here, but I'm a great big High Hopes fangirl, and he's kind of my hero.  I met him last year shopping in Cardiff & he remembered me, so that was nice, and I've got a new book to read.

We then drove to Cardiff, because there was an NCT Nearly New Sale on.  Have you ever been?  Honestly now.  I know.  When my friend first told me about them, I thought the same.  Why would I want a load of second hand tat when I can buy new stuff, and/or I've got enough baby stuff as it is, I don't need more.  And then I discovered the reality.  Yes, it's a jumble sale.  But it's the best jumble sale in the world.  Loads of beautiful baby clothes, far more expensive than I'd be prepared to buy new, and for nearly nothing!  I was quite restrained to be honest.  I only spent £10.  But for that, I came away with...
  • A pair of Monsoon jeans
  • A spotty Monsoon kimono style top
  • A red flowery cord dress
  • A pink Gap shirt dress
  • A two layer Next top & shirt
  • A pair of Pumpkin Patch cropped trousers
  • A brand new Feu Follet blouse & jumper
In the real world, I don't think I could have bought one of those for a tenner, never mind all of them.

If I say so myself (and I've been told by others too...) I'm pretty good at finding the really good stuff at these kind of events.  How?  I've got a few pointers, if you want to give it a go yourself.
  • Fabric - I don't look for cotton jersey, it stretches.  Look out for more solid materials, stiff cotton, denim, corduroy.
  • Labels - I'm not a label queen, but there's no point in buying second hand supermarket clothes. They're cheap enough new, and not built to last.  Look out for brands that have a reputation for durability & quality, and ones you'd like to be able to buy brand new.
  • Spot the seller's name - all the items at NCT sales are labelled with the seller's name.  So if you find one good thing from a seller, keep an eye out for their name on other labels, there's a fair chance there'll be other things you like.
  • Condition - the obvious one.  Check for wear, seams, etc.
  • Wearability - make sure you pick things that you're actually going to be able to get some use out of.  That fuchsia pink tutu may be cute, but will it actually get worn? (This was the swaying factor against a very cute Gap poncho yesterday)
  • Budget - Maybe an overall budget, depending on your circumstances, but certainly a Per-Item budget.  That way you'll bypass the cute-but-optimistic items, and go straight for the real bargains.  I didn't pay more than £2 for anything, was prepared to go to £2.50.
  • Labels Again - look for things that still have shop tags on.  What better way to gauge quality than a brand new item?
So yeah.  Hit the nearly news, and tell me what bargains you've found.

Friday, 12 November 2010

What a difference a day makes!

Yesterday afternoon I was feeling a bit cold.  Hmmm.  Felt the radiators, nothing.  So went & checked the timer on the central heating, gave it a tweak because it was almost time for it to come on, and waited.  Nothing.  Checked it again.  Ran the hot water - water worked, but still no heating.  Phoned the gas board, and waited for the man to come along & fix it.  Which he did, but it meant Ms Squeaky had to have a late night, as she couldn't go to be while he was working on the boiler in her room.

Eventually it was fixed, Squeaky went to bed, and shortly after, SqueakyDaddy followed, as he's been on early starts this week.  I took the peace & quiet as chance to catch up on the internet, and some of the blogs I read.  Among them, I came across this post from Emma And 3, and thought how lucky she was.  Followed the link to Graco's facebook page, and noticed that they had a competition ending today (Friday)  for people to test the Symbio pushchair.  Better be quick then, yeah?

I put together an email, surprised myself how many ideas I could come up with, with only a mince pie to help my inspiration, and zapped it off, not expecting to hear anything.  How excited was I this afternoon to receive an email telling me I'm a winner????  There may have been a small amount of dancing around the living room.  Maybe.  I'm just glad the camera was away.

So, we're going to be the lucky recipients of a brand spanking new Graco Symbio, and Squeaky & I are going to have loads of exciting adventures with it, and make a photo journal of our experiences.  This is going to be FUN!  We've got a 1 in 5 chance of becoming a Graco Ambassador for a year, which would be just brilliant, and give us the chance to try out other Graco products.  And you, you get to read all about it.

From freezing to fabulous in 24 hours.  All I need now is to win the lottery & the day will be perfect.  Kisses, all.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Growing Up Fast

We had a real & proper adventure yesterday.  I won some Odeon vouchers on Twitter a while back, and hadn't had chance to use them.  SqueakyDaddy had a rare Wednesday off, and Wednesday is when the Cardiff Bay Odeon has their Newbies screening.  Newbies, for those who don't know, is a parent & baby screening, sponsored by one of the nappy rash cream brands (not mentioning it, I use a different one).  Babies go free, lights are on a little, sound is lower than normal, and no-one minds if your baby starts making a noise.  I guess you could go anytime, but people are liable to moan if your little darling starts creating mid-film, or even worse if you start to feed them mid-film.

So, off we went to Cardiff.  I actually really like that cinema.  Even the cheap seats are huge and comfy, though the ticket prices range from absurd to astronomical, but isn't that the same everywhere these days?  Equipped with our drinks, chocolates, ice cream & tickets, in we went.  I'm not going to review the film for you, I'm not that kind of blogger.  SqueakyDaddy was the only man in there, I think most people see these things as being Mum & Baby, and as it's during the daytime, it's mostly going to be mums on maternity leave, but there was no reason why he couldn't be there, and no-one said anything, he was clearly with us.

Squeaky was kind of bemused by the Big Telly and the sound coming from different places, but she was a little gem.  Relatively settled, a few raspberries and "Babababa" from time to time, but I came equipped with boobs, and ricecakes, and the combination of the two kept her entertained.

It was a really nice way to spend the afternoon. I haven't been to the cinema, or probably sat and watched a whole film, since the night before Squeaky was born.  All About Steve was dull enough to send me into labour, and I haven't had chance to go back since.  If your cinema has baby screenings, give them a go, we loved it.

(Odeon have not paid me for, or requested this review.  My free tickets came from an unrelated source.)

Thursday, 4 November 2010

A Valuable Lesson

... in every sense of the word.

Aside from "helping" taking the washing out of the machine & throwing it all over the kitchen floor, one of Squeaky's current favourite games is robbing my handbag.  If I put it anywhere that she can possibly get to, she'll find it, and remove everything in search of who-knows-what.

I discovered yesterday how problematic that can be.  We trundled off for some mid-week top-up shopping to Aldi, to stop me getting tempted by clothes & shoes in the "proper" supermarkets.  And round we walked, picked up our things, and got to the checkout.  Only to find that Squeaky had removed my credit cards from my bag.  We nearly had enough cash to pay for everything - if they'd accepted M&S vouchers, I could've covered it, or indeed if I were rich enough to do my food shopping in M&S.  But as it was, I had to give things back, and wish for the floor to swallow me up.

So now I know - check everything is in my bag before leaving the house, because otherwise, Squeaky will have hidden something vital underneath the computer table.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Fun & Games for mums!

We invented a new game yesterday, at the breastfeeding group.  One that was such fun, I thought I should share it with the wider internet, rather than keeping it all to myself.

Baby Russian Roulette  (not actually dangerous)

Take a room of at least 6 babies.  One of them has filled their nappy.  Select a baby and sniff its bottom.  The winner/loser is the person who correctly selects the baby with the dirty nappy.  Their prize?  Changing the nappy.

See?  Told you it was fun!  Everyone can join in, fun for all the family!

Friday, 29 October 2010

Hospitals, and other adventures

We finally had our appointment with the paediatric orthopaedic guy last week, after a very last minute cancellation of our original appointment.  X-rayed (do you know how difficult it is to keep a naked and wriggly 9 month old still long enough to have her hips x-rayed?), examined, and apparently she's now within the normal range.  Not in the middle of the normal range, but within it at least.  Which is a huge relief.  Seemingly the double nappies have done their job, and I will not be sad to say goodbye to them - they've been getting harder & harder to put on because they add so much to the time a nappy change takes.  We've still got to go back in 6 months time, for a follow up check when she's walking properly, but generally, we're very very relieved.

I said hospitals up there, not one but two.  Last weekend my right knee started playing up.  Just felt a bit bruised, like maybe I'd knelt on something awkward or something, so I shrugged it off.  But it got progressively worse, until Monday morning I could barely stand on it. So I phoned the doctor & got an appointment for that day, toddled off, doctor took a look and phoned the hospital & sent me off up there.  5 1/2 hours of sitting around in casualty, x-rays, blood tests, and purple pen marks around my now bright red & swollen kneecap, and apparently I've got an infection in the fluid on my knee, giving me Housemaid's Knee.  Of all absurd things.  It kind of makes sense when you consider how much time I spend on the floor, crawling around after Squeaky, but even so, I can't get any kind of glamorous complaint, can I?  Bloody housemaid's knee, I ask you!

Squeaky also had her 9 month check up this week, and passed with flying colours. According to the doctor, she's quite advanced, in as much as she's happily crawling, pulling up to standing, and cruising around with something to lean on when the mood takes her.  Is good, if scary.  Honestly, she's a little dynamo.

Oh, and her latest discoveries?  She can remove any kind of shoe I put on her.  Elastic, no problem. Velcro, easy.  Boots, piece of cake.  Shoes with built-in socks, no worries.  I don't understand. How can she be mine & not want all the shoes in the world?  And she's also figured out how to clap her hands herself.  She figured out flattening them to make a noise when I clap them a while back, then last week how to clap my hands together holding on to my little fingers, but yesterday she put the two concepts together and learned how to clap her own hands.  This is maybe the most exciting thing ever, from the look on her face when she does it.  Hours of entertainment to be had now.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Mega-Mummy Milestone!

Today was the start of the long-awaited Breastfeeding Peer Support training course.  I say long-awaited, I don't think it's really taken that long, just since I first heard about it til today, so much has gone on.

And as I was in the course for 2 hours with the rest of the mums, Squeaky was in the crèche.  Only the room next door mind you, but still out of sight & with other people for a whole 2 hours.  The crèche is run by our local genesis project, who provide free childcare to enable mums to go on training like ours, so they can gain skills& find work.

Now, I've got to admit I was apprehensive.  Squeaky's got a fair sized attack of separation anxiety going on, along with a need to wind herself around my ankles every waking moment.  To the extent that she howls when I hand her over to my mum, even when I'm in the room.  But she was brilliant.  I'd read something about not straightaway handing them over to a person, so I let her stay on me for a few minutes, and she then went happily to one of the staff, and into the ball pool for a play.  I had to fill in some paperwork, and maybe that helped too, that I was still in the room and visible to start with, while Squeaky settled in.  Then off I went, knowing she was only next door, and with other babies she knew as well as the staff.

And she was fine.  Absolutely fine.  Played in the ball pool, made some spooky handprints (white paint on black paper) for Hallowe'en, and had a nap in a pushchair. All in all, a good morning.  I was slightly disappointed that she was still asleep when I went to pick her up, I was looking forward to her greeting me, but instead I got to wake her up and got the puzzled "where am I?" look instead.  Maybe next week she'll be awake?

Thursday, 14 October 2010

One, Two...

Guess how many teeth Squeaky has got now?  Three!  Three whole teeth in her mouth!  This is the child who whinged & whined for nigh on 3 months before her first tooth came through.  Then about 4 weeks later the second one followed it.  And now, less than 2 weeks after that, and without me even realising another tooth was imminent, she's cut her first top tooth!

Bitey joy!  Thankfully it's literally only just cut the surface, so she can't actually use it to grind against the bottom one & draw blood from me, yet.  But I'm sure that day will come.  Time to move to formula?

Monday, 4 October 2010

Time Off!

Last week, SqueakyDaddy surprised me by saying we were off to Torquay at the weekend, to a lovely guest house we'd visited the previous year on his birthday.  And better than that, we were going to be adults!  Squeaky was booked in to stay with my parents.

Now, I've got to admit, I wasn't sure.  She'd been a pain when they were babysitting for the evening a couple of weeks ago, so a whole night and day? Whoa!  But I swallowed my concerns, if they were happy to be kept awake, then it's their choice.

As it turned out, I went over a couple of days before, thanks to visiting Trunki, and catching up with old friends, which meant Squeaky could get properly settled in before we left her.  And settle she did, like a trooper.  Played merrily with her toys, was asleep earlier than normal, woke only once for a cuddle at 6a.m., and was a little gem, by all accounts.

Me? I went swimming, drank more than I've done in 18 months, ate curry, shopped, and didn't sleep because my boobs hurt!  24 hours is a long time away from a breastfeeding baby.  I expressed a few times, and it broke my heart to have yo pour that precious milk away, but I had no way to store it, and complete strangers don't take kindly to you wanting to grab their baby & shove your nipple in its mouth.

We're home now though, and had a rough night.  Squeaky's got a cold, and tooth number 2 has finally broken through the surface.  Calpol is our friend.

(The guest house don't know about, and didn't request this link. I just like them, and wanted to tell the world.)

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Mummies need bathroom breaks too!

Argh! Do you know how difficult it is to use a public toilet with a small baby in tow?  Without a handy daddy, grandparent or friend to take over baby-wrangling duties for a couple of minutes?

Nightmare springs to mind.

So, on that basis, let's give a big hand to the following:
  • Mothercare in Cardiff - "normal" cubicles big enough to push a trolley or pushchair in to.
  • Charnock Richard services on the M6
  • Waitrose in Abergavenny
  • Morrisons in Barry, all of which have the sense to put a cubicle in the baby change room (as opposed to putting the baby change in the disabled toilets)
Baby change in the disabled toilets is all well & good, if you can deal with the queue, but a cubicle in a baby change facility means more than one baby can be changed, and Mommy can deal with her own call of nature as well as baby's.

I thank various deities for a cast-iron bladder, and make the most of every opportunity to pee I get now, I never know when the chance will next arise!

Olay Total Effects Wake Up Wonder Review

I'm a girly girl, even though motherhood has meant I've rarely had time for anything more than a quick swipe with a hairbrush over the last 8 months, so when the nice people at Olay sent me a bottle of their new Total Effects Wake Up Wonder to try out, I was very pleased.  I go back to work soon, see, and they're not going to be overjoyed if I turn up covered in porridge, looking like last week's washing.

Anyway.  Olay.  That's the point.  I've been a loyal devotee of a certain other moisturiser for years (it's yellow and different, in a dramatic way, if you get my drift), but I'm up for a change.  The bottle is really nicely packaged, a subtle gold sheen to the outside, and a pump action dispenser which is invaluable when you have to do everything with one hand (baby wash companies, please take note!).  And the dispenser pumps out just the right amount for a single application - no waste, no mess.

On first application, the cream is lovely and light, and easily soaked up.  This is what surprised me most, I've found anti-ageing creams to be too heavy in the past, but this was lovely.  A really nice refreshing scent, and easy to use.  And now, after a week?  My skin genuinely does look brighter, and I look more awake (SqueakyDaddy's words, not mine), even after being woken by a teething Squeaky numerous times a night. 

Do you know, I think I might be a convert!

Disclosure: I was provided with a bottle of Olay Total Effects Wake Up Wonder free of charge for the purpose of this review.  I was not told what to write, and all opinions are my own.  Links are provided for your convenience only, I am not a member of any affiliate scheme & will not receive reward for their use.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Double Nappies, DUR!

We've been at this double nappy malarky for a month or more now, the appointment with the paediatric orthopaedic guy is in a couple of weeks, then maybe we'll be sorted.

So why has it taken me this long to realise that double nappies can actually make things easier, not harder?  For ages I've been completely removing the outer nappy before starting on the inner, cleaning, etc.  Then getting the inner nappy out of the way, putting the outer in place as the new inner, then a new outer.  And one day it occurred to me - if I leave the outer nappy underneath, then when I remove the inner, it's already there underneath the (hopefully) clean bottom, ready to be stuck down & I only need to do half as much "bum in the air" getting a nappy underneath.

Some days I really do wonder about myself, you know.

In other news, the new curtain rail is now up, and having a 24 hour cooling off period before I try putting curtains on it & putting Squeaky back where she belongs at night.  I don't trust curtain rails, never mind our DIY skills (apologies to anyone following me on twitter, I had a bit of a meltdown).

Friday, 24 September 2010

A quiet week (or two?)

It's been a while, however long it is.  Bad Blogger, no biscuit.

What's been happening in Squeaky World, then? We went to Grandma & Grandpa Squeaky's house last week, so SqueakyDaddy & I could go to the theatre, and she could menace my parents.  And menace she did.  Even though one tooth has come through, the other bottom tooth is still giving her all sorts of problems, and she squeaked and squawked and squealed and generally refused to go to bed until we got home.  Oh dear.  She's 8 & a bit months now though, I think a lot of it is separation anxiety, though I don't know how to deal with it.  Apparently she would settle and go to sleep on either of my parents, but wouldn't go in the cot, and just created every time they tried, so she kept them up all evening.  Little minx.

And then, she was having a dodgy evening at home on Tuesday, and it took both me & SqueakyDaddy to calm her.  During this time, SqueakyDaddy spotted that the curtains were slightly apart, and gave them a quick tweak.  Which somehow turned into Total Existence Failure and a curtain rail on the floor.  So Squeaky has had to spend the last couple of nights in the travel cot in our bedroom while we get the gear together to put a new rail up and rehang the curtains.  Grrr.

But is this child ever mobile?  I can't believe it's been only a month since she mastered the art of crawling.  Seemingly that's not enough for her.  Now she's pulling herself up with ever-greater confidence & ability, and starting to try and walk.  Hasn't she read the books?  She's not meant to be doing this yet!  I took her into Clarks' on Monday to get her feet measured, so I could *consider* buying shoes, and her feet are still too small for even the littlest size, so she'll just have to deal with socks or tights.  She takes shoes off as soon as I put them on her, anyway, so it's probably not a bad thing.  We'd only end up losing a shoe somewhere silly.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Moving on

As I mentioned in my last post, one of the big news items in Squeaky's world over the last couple of weeks is that she's moved into her own bedroom at last!  It's taken time, for a fair number of reasons, not least being that I needed to sort out the junk that had accumulated in her room & decorate it, but now she's there.

With teething at the same time, maybe it wasn't the ideal moment, but it was overdue, and it's done.  We've kept a single bed in there for the time being, and so if she has a bad night, I can sleep in there with her to be able to comfort her without waking SqueakyDaddy.  And we have had some difficult nights.  I've spent a couple of full nights in there, and a couple of half nights, but I'm determined to make it stick, and I'm not bringing her back into our room.  Not now.  I guess it's a combination of things - being in the room on her own & not being able to hear us, it's darker than our room, it smells different (new furniture, etc), the light from the baby monitor & smoke/co alarms, and the ever present teeth.

It's done though, and I'm so pleased.  The room's lovely, and almost finished, though I want to add a few more stencils when I get chance (this weekend, maybe?).  The walls are a slightly terrifying shade of peptobismol pink, the carpet's denim blue (chosen long before Squeaky came along, but it's the only new carpet in the house & I'm not changing it), dark red curtains.  I wanted to put some sort of design on the walls, not a frieze, and nothing too complicated because I've painted over the textured wallpaper (the walls in this house are craptastic & I really didn't want the hassle)  So I went looking for some sort of simple stencils I could use, without costing me a fortune.  And I found shaped cookie cutters in the pound shop - hearts, flowers & stars, in varying sizes.  Look! 

There's more that I haven't photographed - bright BRIGHT green stars over the top of the window, and stars in 2 shades of blue around the cot, but this gives you an idea.  The paints I used for the designs were all sample pots from B&Q's kids range. I don't think I could live with any of them for an entire wall, never mind a room, but for details, they're great.

Honestly, I could have spent a fortune in doing this, but 7 test pots at about 75p each = £5.25, plus £3 for the stencils.  If telly hadn't moved on from interior design to antiques & property development, I'd be camped outside the BBC right now demanding a job.  In fact, maybe I will do anyway, can't hurt, can it?

Tuesday, 7 September 2010


I was going to do a post about how Squeaky's finally moved into her own bedroom like a big girl, but!

Something more exciting!  Finally, after a couple of months of moaning, her first tooth has broken through the gum!  Not enough to really be visible, but enough to hurt when she bites you.  Now to break out thebaby toothbrush & toothpaste.

Monday, 6 September 2010


We're getting quite distinct "mama" and "dada" now, in addition to "baba", and of course "baboon" and random screeching and raspberries.

She doesn't really know *when* to use them yet, though she can manage some impeccable timing through sheer coincidence.  Like when I've taken her off to the bathroom for a wash, and she calls "Dada" to come and rescue her, or when I'm not delivering her weetabix at the desired rate and I get nagged "Mama" to hurry up.  And that one time where she broke off in the middle of a feed to announce "boob" at my boob.

Also, I love how babies have conversations between themselves.  They really do, they take it in turns to say something, then the other one reacts, and oh it's adorable.  I wonder what they're telling each other?

Thursday, 26 August 2010


As I've said before, Squeaky isn't the biggest of babies.  It's strange sometimes putting her down next to her peers, she looks a month or two younger than she is, but she's bang on target (or ahead of) in terms of sitting, crawling etc. It takes other people by surprise more than it does me.

Well anyway.  The last few days her appetite's been a bit upside down, with feeling grotty & full of cold.  But I think today, we can officially say we're back to normal.  Whole bowl of baby porridge.  A couple of organic carrot crispy things.  Half a jar of veg & noodle (smelled lush) stage 2 jar.  A whole dairylea triangle.  A decent sized bowl of homemade turkey cassserole thing.  About 3 sticks of cheddar cheese (fed to herself, too!)  AND a pot of apple & blackcurrant fruit goop.  My my, I'm really looking forward to tomorrow's nappies!

Her eating has really picked up in the last few weeks, pretty closely matching the fact she's getting more & more active, I guess.  And though her weight gain is fairly slow & steady, she looks like she's getting bigger, so I'm more interested in what her clothes say than what the scales say.  She's happy & healthy and growing & doing.  Yeah, things are good today.

And tonight she's gone off to sleep properly without an hour of performing & crying, like we've had the rest of the week.  Whether it's that she's feeling better, or whether it's the Baby Einstein Vivaldi cd I picked up in the pound shop this morning, she's asleep, and I can relax at last.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

And another thing.

I forgot to say this earlier...

Last weekend, Squeaky became rather enamoured of a bell at Grandad's house, but being a porcelain thing, it wasn't ideal for anything other than a few minutes of VERY supervised play.  And so, I've been on the lookout for something similar but suitable.

Most of the musical toys available seem to fit into the Needs Batteries and Very Annoying categories, and to be honest, when she's had access to them, Squeaky's not been interested.  But today, I found a Bright Starts Chime Along Friends creature of some sort in Boots, in the discontinued & very reduced section.  And wow!  What a hit!  It's the best thing ever, in Squeakyworld anyway.  It even beats the wires at the front of the telly!

Oh yes, we are officially in love.

Kissy Kissy

We're all about the milestones right now.

As well as crawling, Squeaky's figured out in recent days how to pull herself up to standing holding on to someone's hands, to push herself to standing if she finds something appropriate to lean on, to "walk" a couple of steps between me & SqueakyDaddy if we're supporting her under the arms.  And to kiss.  For certain values of the word, obviously.  It's actually just this kind of open-mouthed rub thing, but it's ADORABLE.  Less so when it's applied to your ear, with occasional added tongue, but still fairly adorable.  She was kissing one of her friends at breastfeeding group yesterday, so I'm convinced it's real.

And I'm half sure I just heard a Dada amongst the Baba and Gaga babbling.  We'll see if she can manage it this evening.  Normally when I ask her if she can say Dada she blows a raspberry, which is accurate if not quite what I was aiming for.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Holiday Time

The Squeaky family are just back from a short trip to Blackpool, and are absolutely exhausted.

Maybe we should have chosen a different hotel, one where the ambient temperature was slightly below that of the surface of the sun, but how do you know until you arrive?  Seriously, the place was like a sauna.  And that meant that Squeaky didn't sleep well.  Despite normally sleeping straight through the night with very rare problems, we woke 2 or 3 times every night, and took forever to settle.  Which meant that all of us had trouble getting back to sleep.

It was a good trip though.  Sometimes I, not forget, just get used to how adorable Squeaky is.  It takes seeing other people to remind me.  Breakfast took upwards of an hour every morning, due to her smiling at everyone, and the recipients of the smiles stopping to talk to her.  She's a little gem when we're out as a rule, and behaved beautifully in the dining room, eating her breakfast without too much fuss, at least in part due to the level of attention she was getting.

What is it though?  At home, where there's all the changes of clothes in the world, meals go in mouths, and clothes stay pretty clean (Squeaky's, obviously. Mine always end up with weetabix on the shoulders).  When we're away, and there's only (only!) a couple of changes of clothes per day, she manages to get covered with food every time?  She was a very grubby baby some days last week, I must admit.  The day she decided to eat sand on the beach just added to the general grubbiness.

And as usual, whenever we go away, she's picked up a cold.  I don't know whether to blame it on swimming in a different pool, or just exposure to different people (and therefore different germs).  Either way, she's grumpy and snotty, and grouching when I try to wipe her nose.  She won't let me near her with the aspirator bulb thingo, so we just have to go with the saline spray and the snot.  Mmmmm, nice.

What else to say?  We had a fab week, went to the zoo (where Squeaky promptly went to sleep and missed almost everything), went on all the piers, on the beach,  in the Sandcastle waterpark.  We walked for miles, and Squeaky happily sat in her buggy or in the carrier.  We went on buses and trams, ate lots of meals out, breastfed in cafes all over the place, ate chips, cheese and melon, but not all at the same time, and won enormous cuddly toys in the amusements.  See?  Big enough to sit in the buggy.

Oh, and yeah yeah yeah!!!  We're crawling!! Squeaky has now figured out what to do with her arms as well as her legs and is zooming around on all fours.  Watch out world, we're mobile!

Friday, 13 August 2010

Things I never knew

  • How Squeaky would smile in her sleep and make me melt.
  • How she'd wait until I've just changed her nappy to do the biggest poo ever.
  • How excited she'd be every morning to see me.
  • How many hours of entertainment can be had from blowing raspberries on tummies.
  • How many songs I can change the words to, making them all about nappies.

Squeaky The Celebrity!

Ages and ages ago, when Squeaky was a tiny little Squeak, she had a set of professional photos taken as an entry to a "Cutest Baby in South Wales" comp.  Sadly she didn't win that, but we had the photos anyway.

SqueakyGran decided to send one of them in to her magazine, because Squeaky is "Far cuter than any of the ones in there", even by our biased opinion.  This was AGES ago, but that's the way of these things.  And now we've had an email, and Miss Squeaky herself is in My Weekly this week, in all her cute, pink-frocked glory!  Awwwwwwwwww.

And right now this minute, she's stolen my mousemat & is trying to eat it.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Date - Up!

So the blog grader thinks I should update.  Therefore I will update.  (Please, don't look at my grade, it's embarrassingly low)

Since the hospital appointment last Monday, and the tearful post that followed, I've calmed down a bit.  That's a good thing, right?  Squeakydaddy & I went to see our GP on Wednesday (we couldn't go earlier, there's 2 GPs on jobshare at our practice, and we wanted to see the one who's been involved this far, rather than having to explain everything to the other one, who wouldn't really be able to add anything anyway).  We had a good chat with her, and a bit of a cry (or I did, anyway) and, love her, she's really helpful.  She spoke to the surgeon's secretary & got a copy of his report faxed through, so she actually knew what had been decided, which is MUCH more than he told me, and then she told me that info.

Mr Orthopod has referred Squeaky to Llandough Hospital, to a Paediatric Orthopaedic specialist for a second opinion, because when he manipulated her hips they felt OK, but the ultrasound showed an anomaly, so he wants the Paediatric guy to do whatever they do.  There's a real chance they won't feel the need to do anything except monitor it, which is a big relief.

I'm also strangely excited about it being Llandough.  It was a 50/50 in my mind whether it would be the Paediatric unit at University Hospital, in the centre of Cardiff, which would be a) dull, and b) an utter PITA and involve me dealing with horrible junctions on horrible busy bits of road.  But instead I get to go to a beautiful old hospital out in the back end of nowhere, with loads of parking, and to get there I have to drive directly past (and take a diversion via, obviously) lots of exciting places like Hobbycraft, and Mamas & Papas.  I'm allowed to go to nice places when I've had to do something scary, it's my reward.  Llandough has a really new specialist Orthopaedic unit, which is clearly why we've been sent there.  It's a lovely old place, just a long way from anywhere.

My doc's back in the office today, and she said she's going to chase up the new Orthopod's secretary to try and speed up the appointment for us, especially after the delays that were at least in part down to her.  So hopefully there will be another update here soon.


Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Breastfeeding Adventure.

Today's adventure was a trip to town, on foot, because my car was in the garage for tyres & brakes.  The trip to town was the dull bit, though we did FINALLY join the library after having lived here for 7 years.  Our library's lovely, by the way, a proper old-fashioned, high ceilinged, parquet floored, Carnegie library.  And it smells just the way a library should - a mixture of varieties of dead tree, polish and booksmell.  (Yes, firefox, that is a real word.)

But the real highlight of our adventure, and the point of my post, was when we went back to the garage.  The car wasn't quite ready, so we sat in the waiting room, where Little Miss Squeaky decided to sing for her lunch.  There was no way around it, she wanted milk, and the only way she was going to get it was from me.  So feed her I did, with a blanket for privacy.  And then persuaded the manager to sign up to the Breastfeeding Welcome scheme.  More businesses for the scheme, more vouchers for me!  And I think it'll be the oddest place included, but I'm more reliant on the car now than I ever was pre-Squeaky.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Crying. Or DDH diagnosis.

Me crying, not Squeaky, though she'll join in from time to time.

I'm just SO frustrated.  At Squeaky's 8 week check (which was more like 10 weeks, because the practice nurse was away so clinic was cancelled), the doctor said her hip was a bit clicky.  So she referred her to the hospital for a scan.  Which in itself took 4 or 5 weeks to happen.  Then they wanted a follow up scan,which the radiographer said should be 4 weeks later, but was 6.  At that scan, the radiographer said that he'd write the report and we should have an appointment very soon, and if I hadn't heard from orthopaedics within a fortnight, to chase it up.  The fortnight comes, and goes.  I phone up, they have no details, in orthopaedics, or paediatrics.  So I get an appointment with my GP, now 4 weeks after the second scan, and ask her what's going on.  She finds that the hospital didn't do a referral to orthopaedics, & she needs to.  2 weeks later I get an acknowledgement letter, a week later an appointment letter, and now today, 10 weeks after the second scan, we finally get seen by the orthopaedic surgeon.

For about 2 minutes.  He does the manipulation again, says "Double nappies & I'll refer you to the paediatric orthopaedic unit in Cardiff."  That's it. Oh, there were a few coos over Her Squeakyness, but that's all.

No-one has bothered to give me any information, to give me a clear idea of what we're really dealing with, what to expect, what to do, or to avoid.  And that means I look on the internet, and the most comprehensive information I can find all suggests that because of all the stupid delays in getting to this point, treatment is more invasive, more complicated & less effective.

Here is a really useful website giving lots of information about DDH.  In my rational mind, I know we were a much increased risk.  Squeaky was breach until about 3 weeks before she was born, my mum had severe hip problems in childhood (DDH or not, we don't know, but we're talking about years in a Spica cast), I'm very double jointed, she's a first born girl.  So yeah, the risk factor was pretty high.

I just, argh, I don't want to see my beautiful girl in pain - now or later.  I don't want her to have to go through what my mum had to go through.  And I feel like it's my fault - I made her, and I can't even get that right.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Update of Random Points

Oh, the excitement!  Today, we ate our dinner sitting in the high chair for the first time.  And with our new high chair toy to distract us from the fact that we were eating something new.  Actually, that's a point.  Do you know how FEW high chair toys there are available on the high street?  Yep, there's plenty on Amazon, but that would involve waiting for deliveries, etc, and Squeaky wanted one NOW.  Argos have a choice of one, overpriced and not very nice.  Tescos have none.  Ditto Wilkos, Boots, Matalan and everywhere else I could think of the other day.  Last chance saloon today, Asda.  Hooray!  They had a cute, Fisher Price, reasonably priced one, in fact, the one I found on Amazon only as a Japanese import.  And Squeaky likes it enough to bash it about while having spoonfuls of bolognaise shovelled into her.  No spag, just bol, with added sweet potato & parsnip (yuck, but she seems to like it) mixed in to stop it being All About The Mince.

Yeah, that as well.  Our diet has expanded to include Weetabix, Petits Filous, tuna, chicken, pork, beef, and most things I offer her, unless they involve potatoes.  For some reason potatoes are not for eating.  Le sigh.  She'd better move on from that, or life is going to be complicated.  She was happy to suck on a chip the other week, so what's wrong with my mash, I don't quite know.

And random strangers are annoying me again.  Yes, she's a small child.  She was small when she was born, she continues to be at the smaller end of the scale, but she's fine, I have a letter from the hospital that says just that.  I'm sure your 8 month old, bottle fed nephew IS twice her size, but that might be something to do with being a) older, b) male, and c) bottle fed.  Squeaky is her very own size & shape, she eats plenty, poos plenty, and is none of your business.  Grrr.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Nature Snack Review

Sun Valley sent me a couple of packs of their new Nature Snacks range to try out & review here for your blog-reading pleasure.  I'm never one to say no to a freebie, so here it is.

They're part of the "You Are What You Eat" range, which I'll admit I've never bought before, but there's no terrifying picture of Gillian McKeith on the packaging, so I still had some appetite.  The snacks come in 4 varieties, 2 Nature with a hint of Naughty, and 2 Nature with a hint of Exotic.  I received the yogurt "naughty" pack, and the berries "exotic" to try, the others being a chocolate "naughty" and a fruit & nut "exotic".

What can I say, aside from "YUM"?  Well, each pack contains one of your 5 a day fruit & veg portions, the packs are very generously sized compared to many dried fruit type snacks, and the mix of fruits in the packs is lovely.  Sweet without being sickly, well balanced with sharp (berry) or crunchy (yogurt) flavours.

I go off on a health kick every so often, and buy dried fruit packs to try to stop me snacking on chocolate, crisps and assorted crap.  These are yummy, and definitely going to feature on my shopping list for my next health kick.  And to make it a mummy thing, they'd be great to pack in the hospital bag, or for those first weeks at home with a new baby when you don't have time to eat anything proper, but need to have something to keep yourself functioning.

Disclosure: I was provided with 2 packs of Nature Snacks free of charge for the purpose of this review.  I was not told what to write, and all opinions are my own.  Links are provided for your convenience only, I am not a member of any affiliate scheme & will not receive reward for their use.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Weaning whining

Just a quick post this morning, between shovelling spoonfuls of smushed weetabix into Squeaky. It's her that's meant to wear a bib at feeding time, right?  So why is it me that ends up wearing her food?  It serves me right, I guess, I'm normally still in PJ's or undies when she has her breakfast, but I'm actually dressed today.  With weetabix stains on my left boob.  Stylish.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010


I know, I know, I'm a rubbish blogger.  The whole point of this was to make me write more frequently, but I'm just not that kind of person, or I don't have that kind of life, or something.

The whole Squeaky family went off to Devon last week for a little holiday.  It seems quite alien to me that my main holiday for the year is a week in a holiday park, only a couple or 3 hours drive from home, but giving up multiple foreign jaunts each year is the price we have to pay for having Squeaky, and she's worth it.

Oh, we had adventures!  All sorts of adventures.  Trips to the beach during the first couple of days when the weather was sunny.  Now Squeaky's that bit older, she spent a lot of the time playing with sand.  Not in the sandcastle building sense, obviously.  But in the "Wow!  What's this powdery stuff?  Can I eat it?" sense, running it through her fingers, pouring it on her face, then objecting to the sand being on her face, things like that.  It's incredible to watch her become more and more aware of the world around her, and start to explore it more.

We also went to a "haunted" manor house, where Squeaky made very well timed comments (raspberries) while the guide was talking, but was generally good as gold, went on a funicular railway, where she charmed everyone, ate ice-cream & white chocolate buttons (don't tell my health visitor, please), and to a farm park, where she made friends with sheep, goats, horses, ducks and bunnies.  Giant bunnies, like the ones on Teletubbies!

And we stayed up late in the evening, watching the entertainment, or watching the world cup final.  Squeaky fell asleep before the end, but then again, I wasn't far behind her.  She slept in her travel cot without any complaint, which is another big relief, and means we don't need to worry about renting a cot when we go elsewhere.  And she went swimming nearly every day, making friends wherever she went.  It's amazing how many people want to talk to a small and chirpy baby.

Hooray for John Fowler holidays, because we had a lovely little chalet, right by the pool and entertainment.  Plenty big enough for 2 adults and a Squeaky, parking outside our door (you don't get that at the bigger parks).  Friendly welcome for us all, enough to keep us occupied, but not so much that you feel like you're missing something if you decide to have an early night.

And now, Squeaky's 6 whole months old!  I can't believe how the time has flown.  She's learned and grown so much, and taught me so much.  She had a whole bowl of cereal this morning, and she's having three solid meals a day, though not always very much of them.  She's eaten chicken, both fresh cooked by me, and from a jar, all sorts of veggies and fruits, and a few things she possibly shouldn't have (see above ice-cream & white choc buttons).  No great quantities of the treat foods, just a little try to introduce more texture, flavour, etc.  As long as it doesn't get in the way of proper food, or become too much of a habit, I don't see it as a problem.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Busy Busy Busy

Oh, dear internet, how long it has been since I last wrote to you, and how busy Squeaky has been.  Not just in terms of the multitude of groups she goes to, though that as well, my feet hardly touch the ground some weeks, so it seems.

No, in terms of figuring out the world.  Seriously, in the last couple of weeks, we've eaten vegetables every day.  She's managing to sit unaided, albeit not for long, and mostly when she's got something else to think about to distract her, otherwise she realises what she's doing and stops doing it, something like Arthur Dent flying.  AND!!  She's worked out how to roll over from back to front, and sometimes even from front to back.

This is definitely the most exciting thing.  Really, really exciting.  Or worrying, depending on your viewpoint. It means she can move around, to a certain extent, and crawling's not going to be far away.  She's also sleeping in her Big Girl Bed (i.e. the cot, without the moses basket in it any more), and coupled with her rolling skills, she's all over the cot during the night.  I can put her down at one end, and who knows where she'll be by morning, the only certainty is "not where I put her".  Even in a Gro-Bag, which I had hoped might limit the moving.

Right.  Now she's in a nappy, on my lap & nearly falling asleep. Time for pyjamas, supper & bed, I think.

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Requested Review - Garofalo Pasta

Specialist Foods sent me a package of Garofalo pasta to try, and to review here, as I'm a bit of a pastaholic.  I put it down to my student days, when I only ate things that were very easy to cook (i.e. pasta), and spent much of my time working in an Italian restaurant.

My package arrived and contained a pack of spaghetti, and a pack of radiatore (right).  Have you seen them?  They're possibly my favourite pasta shape, though one I rarely buy, because they only seem to come in expensive packs.  They're meant to look like car radiator grilles, in the same way that most pasta shapes are meant to look like something, but only really do if you close your eyes a bit and squint.

Well, radiatore they are.  And lovely.  The packaging of both was a good place to start, authentically Italian looking, looking like good quality pasta, classy-like, with a handy resealable sticker on the bag in case you don't use the whole pack in one go.

Easy to cook, and kept their shape well.  That's always my concern with delicate shaped pasta, will it just disintegrate into blobs (messicani, I'm looking at YOU).  Holds a sauce well, because of the shape.  The radiatore are definitely the sort of pasta shapes to use with a creamy sauce, not one with huge lumps of veg or meat.  The grille, and the curve of the back hold the sauce in them, and they taste LUSH.

So there you have it.  Pasta is a good thing.  Go eat some.  Or come round to my house, and I'll make a spag bol.

Disclosure: I was provided with 2 packs of pasta free of charge for the purpose of this review.  I was not told what to write, and all opinions are my own.  Links are provided for your convenience only, I am not a member of any affiliate scheme & will not receive reward for their use.

Om Nom Nom

We're making progress, you know.  Squeaky has moved on from a single teaspoon of baby rice in some breast milk, to more than one teaspoon, to baby porridge, and in the last week, to VEGETABLES!!  So far, she's tried carrots, butternut squash, a jar of Heinz veg medley (or something along those lines), with pretty good results.  The pre-made jar was the least appreciated, while she liked her first meal from it, her nose was firmly turned up at the second.  Butternut squash is definitely the front runner at present, and is also the most likely to stain clothes, furniture & anything else it lands on.  I wonder if the two are somehow related.

And today, for variety, we had apple, mixed with a little baby rice to thicken it up.  As usual, the first couple of mouthfuls are met with confusion, and a look that says "What ARE you doing to me, mother?", but then she soon realises that it's food and it tastes good, and rather than complaining about being fed, she'd rather complain about not being fed fast enough.  Back on the veggies tomorrow, but I wanted her to try a little bit of fruit, just so I know that she'll take lots of different foods.

I'm going down the (nowadays) old fashioned route of puréed vegetables, and spoon feeding her.  I've got friends who've recommended Baby Led Weaning, where everything is finger foods, and what goes in, goes in.  But to me, that seems a) chaotic, b) messy as hell, and c) likely to be really wasteful.  At least if she doesn't want the purée, there's only a couple of spoons of it to throw out, and the rest can go in pasta sauce (more on the subject of pasta to follow), but if she's squishing broccoli florets into her hair & throwing carrots across the room, that's a lot more food to get through without eating it.  YMMV and all that, but my hand blender is my best pal, and I'm going to use it til I burn the motor out.

And I'm making a chart.  With what foods she's had on each day, written if necessary, but with lots of pretty clip art pictures of carrots & apples & etc.  Then I can print it out and put it in her scrapbook.  Oh yeah, I made a scrapbook too.  And every time we go somewhere and she gets a sticker or similar, I make a page in the scrapbook for it, stick it in, and write about what she did to get the sticker.  I think that means we should have more outings.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Free Reviews, baby food & tea bags

Well, you can't say I didn't warn you.  Freebie reviews, of some of the stuff I've received for nowt, for the sheer fun of it, and so that when I can't remember what was good and what wasn't, I can check it here.

  • HIPP Organic Baby Rice.  Squeaky's first non-breastmilk meal.  And her second, third, fourth... until the packet ran out.  Really nice.  Bright white, which was kind of reassuring, it looked as though it was something pure.  Mixed easily with breastmilk, and no complaints from Squeaky in the taste test.  Looks a bit like wallpaper paste when it's made up, but so do most baby cereals, I've found.  My only real criticism is that I can't find it in the shops.  Every other brand of baby rice, most of the rest of the HIPP range, but not the rice.
  • Aptamil Baby Creamy Porridge.  One of Squeaky's more recent forays into the world of "real food".  This doesn't make up quite as well, if you follow the instructions it comes out no thicker than milk, so you kind of have to feel your own way to how much is right.  Smells lovely, like "proper"adult porridge, made me feel quite hungry actually.  Again, no complaints from Squeaky on the taste test.  I probably won't buy more, the randomness of the mixing ratios is a bit too difficult when my brain is only operating on 25% power.
  • Clipper Organic Tea Bags.  Something for me at last.  I'm not a big tea drinker. The last cup of tea I had was the morning Squeaky was born, because I'd been off coffee during pregnancy, but I had to have something.  However, these are NICE teabags.  Unbleached, old fashioned big square bags.  The tea is quite smooth, no nasty tanniny aftertaste in your mouth, and no nasty tannin stains in the mug.  If you like your tea builders' style, you'll hate it, but for me, they're about as good as tea gets.  Mmmm.
Feel free to send me free things, I'll happily talk about them, even if you don't want me to.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Don't throw it away...

I have slightly less than zero qualms over second hand baby gear.  They outgrow clothes, and toys so quickly nothing gets the chance to wear out.  In fact I have very few qualms over second hand grown-up gear either (I couldn't find a way to use the word adult there without it sounding like I meant 2nd hand sex toys), except when it comes to things like underwear.  I'd like to keep that new TYVM.

But yeah, otherwise, second hand is good.  We've been given a load of used baby clothes & kit from friends & family whose children have outgrown them, and I've picked up more on my travels.  I don't really see the point in paying for second hand supermarket clothes, they aren't that well made, and they're so cheap new, I don't mind buying them.

However, we've scored some lovely bits & bats in car boot sales & the NCT nearly new sale.  A LaMaze spinny toy for £3 (about £15 new), a VTech apple thing for £1 (about £10 new), clothes from OshKosh, Oililly, Next & Rocha Little Rocha for £1 or so each.  All looking as good as new, and in some cases, I suspect they probably were unused.

They all get a good wash, or a good going over with the Dettol, as appropriate, before Her Squeaky Highness gets anywhere near them, just to be on the safe side.  But who's going to know whether her things are brand new or not, and who's going to care?  She doesn't, I don't, it shouldn't matter to anyone else.

Weight, revisited

I nearly forgot this, you know.

Way way back in the mists of time, when Squeaky was just a tiny squeak, the midwife decided that she hadn't gained enough weight. So she sent us off up the hospital *now*. Amazingly in the time between the midwife weighing her, and being weighed in the hospital, she'd gained about 3oz. ::eyes roll:: In other words, the whole fiasco was just because of calibration differences between different sets of scales.

But still. At that visit to the hospital, the doctor said she'd still like to see Squeaky again in "4 - 6 weeks", just to follow it up and monitor her. So we sit and wait for an appointment letter. And wait, and wait. 4 -6 weeks come & go. Injections come & go & my gp chases up the appointment, but still we hear nothing.

I was up the hospital myself a couple of weeks ago, and decided to take matters into my own hands. Strolled up to paediatric outpatients, and said "Errrr, this is Squeaky. She was meant to have an appointment in 4-6 weeks, and that was 14 weeks ago. Wha'happen?" The receptionist had a look on the computer, said "I can't see anything, but you'd have to go to Aberdare, not here, because you're under Dr So-&-So. Here's the phone number for medical records, phone them." Next day (it was late afternoon, ok?), I phone the other hospital. The person I spoke to said "Oh, you had an appointment on X/X/10, but you didn't turn up". Me "Excuse me?? I wasn't told about that appointment." She confirms my address and says that's where the letter would have gone, I repeat that no letter was received. Audible sigh. She then says she'll speak to the clinic, but it'll probably be tomorrow before they can answer anything. 5 minutes later, she phones me back, very apologetic, apparently they had anew computer system, and a load of letters got missed, would we be able to go {last week}. Of course.

Last week, off we went at last. Squeaky was perfectly behaved, charmed everyone as usual. And the upshot is, her weight's fine. She was little, she remains little, but she's perfectly healthy, gaining sufficient weight, and developing just as she should. And is discharged from the hospital.

Even though I knew her weight had sorted itself out, and it was just a little blip, it's a huge weight (ha ha) off my mind. Hooray for little Squeaky!

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Quick fixes, and Oh-So-Simple ideas

Aside from my botch-job covering the sharp bits on the futon, as pictured, I thought I'd take the chance to share with you a few other of the "Now why didn't I think of that" or "I wish I'd thought of that sooner" type ideas that motherhood has made part of my world. You know, those kind of things where you just want to *kick* yourself because they make life so much easier, and really, they're so obvious!

1) The little net bags you get for putting washing powder tablets in. Use them to put baby's socks in when they go in the washing machine. Keeps them together & you can find the socks again. Tiny socks have an amazing way of disappearing at the best of times, but if you can stop them escaping in the wash, then you stand half a chance of keeping your baby's feet matching.

2) Those silicon charity bracelets? Like the Livestrong ones? You know. They make brilliant reminders as to which breast you started the last feed from. And no-one looks at you peculiar for wearing one, or swapping it over from time to time, which they do if you use other things. And you can keep a bracelet on in the shower, which you can't with a safety pin.

3) Baby dislikes having their "wrinkles & crinkles" dried after a bath? Try using the hairdryer on a cool setting. Make sure your hand is in the line of the air flow as well, to make sure the delicate skin doesn't get too hot, but it's no different to a hand dryer in a public loo, and if your baby's anything like Squeaky, they'll love it within a couple of days. You might want to cure them of the Pavlovian reaction to spread their legs every time they hear a hairdryer before their first trip to the hairdresser, but other than that, it's genius, I tells ya!

4) A hi-ball sized beaker with a lid is just the right size to keep a packet of baby rice or cereal in it, and keep it dry. Cut out the name & mixing instructions from the packet & tape them to the outside as a reminder if you've got different packets on the go.

5) Nappy bags are just the right size to carry one baby swimming costume & one mommy swimming costume home from the pool when they're all wet, so you don't end up with a wet swimming bag. They don't fit the towels in though, you'll have to roll them, unless you've got a better idea?

And a completely unsponsored, unrequested, genuine recommendation, that fits with the oh-so-simple ideas theme. Sock-ons Seriously, how genius, and adorable, are they? A friend whose baby was born 6 months before Squeaky gave us 2 pairs as part of a Squeaky-welcoming gift, and I'm a convert. I've become this Sock-On Evangelist! I even managed to dye a pair blue-grey to match her eyes, by using the tried & tested method of leaving them in the pocket of my new jeans when I put them in the wash. Ooops. No, honestly, they did change colour, but they are still adorable, now unique, and still perfectly functioning.