Friday, 24 February 2017

Tomorrow you are Two

Every family has different parts that make it whole, every member brings something unique and indispensible and you, Finn, are our smile.  I don't doubt there will be years where you are a moody teenager, that your tantrums will get worse, that you won't always be the way you are now, but right now you are the sunshine in our days, you brighten up even the darkest Monday morning and we couldn't love you more.

One to two has been a busy year, you have learned to walk independently and as with everything, you did it your own way.  It was your brother's birthday and after months of confidently cruising you were still refusing to let go and attempt it alone.  When you finally did, it was with a big audience, an even bigger grin on your face and you walked right out the room like you had been doing it for ages.  It took you a little longer than your brothers, but we didn't doubt you would get there.

This year you learned to talk and I have found it hard not to compare your progress to your brothers.  You are unique and you are communicating in your own way.  Your language seems to have started snowballing since Christmas and every day you are learning new words.  There are still plenty that I 
don't understand yet, but you understand me (other than when I say no or stop).

At nearly 2 you are strong willed and defiant.  You have refused to just slot in like I was told third babies do - we know you are around! You are interested in everything, put off by nothing and everything is a climbing frame.  You are a little whirlwind at times, but you can also sit and play beautifully for ages.  You are desperate to be big like your brothers but you also want to be a baby like your sister.  You adore her, she is your favourite person and I love watching the two of you interact.  

I still think of you as a baby but from the outside you are starting to look less like one.  Those wispy baby curls that framed your face have gone, you race confidently into new situations, you make your choices known, you are growing and changing.  You still insist on your 'daddit' (dummy) to fall asleep though, and you lay with your arms tucked under you and your bum in the air as only babies and small children can. 

One was the age you became a big brother, just two days after you turned 16 months.  You loved your sister immediately and you two have a special bond.  You watch how close your big brothers are and you get impatient to have the same fun with Cora - I think you two are going to cause so much mischief once she is really on the move!

I am constantly reminded of quite how far you have come, the odds you have beaten and the mountains that you are still desperate to move.  You will always be a little miracle to us.

Happy Birthday baby boy, Happy Birthday Finn.  You are loved more than I ever knew you could be
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Wednesday, 22 February 2017

10 Reasons to Choose Cloth Nappies

10 reasons to choose cloth nappies

Dylan was about 2 months old when we discovered quite how far cloth nappies have come from the terry squares our grandparents used to boil.  Reusable nappies these days are easy to use, easy to clean and they looks pretty damn cute too! We have now been using cloth nappies for over five years and with two under two, I still have two little fluffy bums in this house.

I know many people won't even consider reusable nappies, but I wanted to write about why we love them, so here are our top 10 reasons for using them.

reasons to choose cloth, cloth nappies, reusable nappies, totsbots

1. Disposable nappies take over 500 years to decompose, which means that had Henry VIII wore them, they would still be sitting in landfills now.  Cloth nappies last for years and we have some that have been worn by all four children and are still going strong. Their environmental impact is miniscule in comparison to their disposable counterparts.

2.  They save you money - the amount you save depends on how many children you have, but once you have paid out for an initial kit, there is nothing else to buy (unless like me you get tempted by pretty new prints).  They can also be sold on once you are done with them (you definitely can't do that with disposables!)

3. You never have that panic when you have run out.  We never have to do a last minute dash to the shops as we always have plenty of nappies, or we can just put on a wash when we are getting low.  For last minute people like us who have to run to the shops for milk far too often this is a great benefit.

cloth nappies, two in cloth, reusable nappies, reasons to choose cloth nappies

4. They look pretty cute! I can't wait for the summer - Cora in pretty summer dresses with a cute cloth nappy poking out underneath.  There are so many gorgeous styles - The babies are wearing a print called Kaleidoscope from TotsBots in these pics and it is really stunning.  Our whole collection is colourful and fun.

5. One size fits most which means I can have one stash of nappies and use it on both the children, I just adjust the poppers at the front to get a smaller fit on Cora.  If we were using disposable nappies they would both need different sizes.

6. They aren't full of chemicals and I know exactly what is going next to my child's skin.  We have all seen those disposable nappy horror stories of children getting burnt - I know my babies have natural breathable fibres next to their little bums, most of ours have a bamboo core which actually keeps them cooler in the summer than a disposable would.

cloth nappy, totsbots, reasons to use cloth, reusable diapers

7. I don't have to empty the bins all the time.  Dirty nappies get tipped into the toilet and then left in a lidded bucket until they are washed.  Disposable nappies fill up the bin so easily (especially with two in them!) so we end up having to empty the bins daily which is just a hassle!

8. Newly mobile babies have a bit of cushioning! When Finn was learning to walk, I knew that falling over would be softened by his squishy cloth nappy!

9. It doesn't have to be all or nothing and you don't have to make a complete switch.  We still use disposables on holiday (and for the week we get home whilst I catch up on washing) and for long days out.  Even swapping one nappy a day to a cloth nappy makes a difference to your environmental impact.

cloth diapers, reusable nappies, 10 reasons to choose cloth nappies, totsbots easyfit

10. They are as easy to use as disposables - gone are the days of having to fold  a terry square and pin everything into place, we use all in one nappies which means there are no fiddly parts, you just do them up around the baby exactly as you would a disposable nappy.

So there you have it, 10 reasons why we use cloth nappies.  It didn't take us long to slot them into our routine and after 5.5 years of having at least one child in nappies at all times it has become second nature!
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Friday, 17 February 2017

Bedtime with Johnsons

Somehow my children have got progressively worse as sleepers. I don’t know whether we had a better routine with the first ones or whether it is just their personalities, but at 7 months Cora still has a long way to go before she is sleeping through, and at nearly 2, Finn doesnhave it mastered either. The team over at Johnsons have sent us some of their bedtime bath goodies and a guide to their 3-step routine to try and help us all get a better nightsleep.

This week I will be trying their routine every night and I will be reporting back to let you know how it all went. Neither Cora or Finn are good sleepers so we are going to be trying it on both of them.

Step 1) Warm Bath
Johnson’s have sent us their bedtime baby bath which is perfect for both the little two (and their big brothers too). Studies have shown that babies bathed with a fragranced bath product spent nearly 25% less time crying before sleep and whilst mine dont tend to cry, I am willing to try anything to keep them happy and asleep that bit longer. They both love to splash at bath time too, so I think it is a great way to get out the last of the days energy.

Step 2) Baby Massage
I went to all the classes for baby massage with Dylan, but having older brothers so close in age meant that the younger three didnt get the same experience. We have Johnsonbedtime baby oil as well as their baby cream and hopefully the touch and bonding time will help both little ones feel secure, loved and ready for sleep. I know that a massage always relaxes me and I think they are both going to really enjoy it, although Finn is rather tickly now!

Step 3) Quiet Time
With warm, soft and calm babies, I don’t really need an excuse for a cuddle so I know this step will come naturally. The Johnsons Bedtime baby sleep app has a selection of relaxing lullabies which I think Finn will love as he has always liked to fall asleep to music. Cora is still breastfed to sleep which is one of my favourite parts of the day as we snuggle up quietly together. At the moment she is still fed to sleep but the app is suggesting I try to get her to fall asleep on her own, so feed her until she is drowsy and then put her down. We may give it a go this week as she may then settle better in the night when she wakes.

We are really excited to be trying out this new routine and hopefully feeling the benefits!

This is a sponsored blog post by the Johnsons brand. I have received payment incentive and samples but all opinions are my own. Johnsons clinically proven bedtime routine consists of bath, massage and quiet time, tested on babies 7 months+, 1 week+ use.

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Thursday, 16 February 2017

Before you turn Four

At three you can still be considered a toddler, but Archie, when you wake up you will be four and I will have to admit that that phase of your life has passed.  The countdown to school has began and you are ready for it in so many ways.  Really, you stopped being a toddler quite a while ago but behind the excitement of each new stage, I am reluctant to let go of the last one.

Three was the year we cut off your beautiful hair and I cried real tears in the middle of the hairdressers.  I have found peace with your new style and it suits you.  You are never mistaken for a girl anymore, it doesn't get in your face as you run and hair washes are so much easier.  It was the right choice (I will begrudgingly admit) but I did love your long blonde locks.

Every year you change so much and I can see quite how much you have grown since I wrote to you one year ago.  You are still exactly the same though, unapologetically you, determined, loyal, loving and wild.  I wrote as you turned two about how you were happier with your brother around and that is still true - you fit in perfectly in our big family, a playful little brother and a loving big one.  You and Dylan are the best of friends (although you fight like only brothers can), you and Finn are becoming real playmates now and you are so caring with Cora.  I look at the photos from the day before you turned one and I still recognise those expressions, that you.

You are happiest naked and have refused to wear any form of pyjamas or clothes around the house for a while now.  You have no problem snuggling under a blanket with me though, warming your icy feet on my skin and cuddling in close.  You still love to cuddle and I have to admit you give the best cuddles.  You can cheer me up in seconds with you arms around my neck and I dread the day you stop wanting to be so close. 

Your imagination has really developed this year, you talk absolute nonsense sometimes and you and Dylan are often in your own world together.  I love listening at your door after I put you to bed as you stay up and chat and watching you playing with your Lego, singing made up songs as you do.  This imagination did lead to the 'Mystery bandit' in our house who was responsible for all kinds of mischief and was never seen at the same time as you.  He has thankfully gone now although things are still blamed on him (by all members of the family).

As a three year old you became a big brother (again) and took it all in your stride as you always do.  You are wonderful with Cora and she is a lucky little girl to have you as a big brother.

At three you were bright, sociable, loving, energetic and bold.  You have learned to concentrate on things a little better, sit still a little longer, climb a little higher and communicate a little clearer.  I can't wait to see what adventures four has in stock for you.

Before you turn four, as I kiss you goodnight for the last time as my three year old, I just want you to know how truly loved you are

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Tuesday, 14 February 2017

My cCMV baby at nearly 2.

Just like most congenital issues, cytomegalovirus (cCMV) can present itself in many ways.  Each child has a different path ahead of them, different battles to fight and a different future ahead.  When Finn was born we were told that there was a 70% chance that he would survive and that the future would be complicated.  We took home our tiny son after 3 weeks of special care and embarked on a new adventure.

The first six months of his life, we seemed to spend more time in the hospital than at home.  The days were hard, but we knew we were lucky as well.   Finn was born symptomatic with an enlarged liver and spleen, a troubling white blood count and CRP levels (infection marker) through the roof.  His MRI showed abnormalities, but they were not sure how they would affect him.  After three difficult months, Finn started to grow and thrive and by six months he was still small, but getting there.  This month our baby boy will turn 2 and he is a determined, exhausting and beautiful nearly 2 year old.

In some ways you can see the effects of his troubled start - but we can never really be sure whether he would have been a bit later anyway.  At 11 months he started to crawl and at 18 months he took his first steps.  At nearly 2, Finn has come such a long way from the fragile newborn.  He is a chunky toddler who climbs on everything and knows his own mind.  His vocabulary is starting to expand and he has perfected his pronunciation of the key words - cake, milk, biscuits, snack and Cora.  He knows how to communicate far beyond his words and understands us well (other than when we tell him no).

This boy of mine is smart, sociable and ever so happy.  He knows how to charm everyone he meets, he has the biggest smile and he is full of energy.  You would never be able to tell him apart from another child his age, you cannot see the virus he was born with.

At a year old, he was signed off of his pediatrician, but he will continue to have hearing tests every few months for the foreseeable future.  As each test rolls around, I start feeling nervous, worried that things can't be this easy, that my music loving boy who dances to everything may start losing his hearing, but his test last month shows that he is still absolutely fine.  I can't spend my days worrying about what may happen so we are just quietly celebrating every victory and enjoying the typical toddler that he is.

We are so lucky that Finn is thriving, that he is one of the ones so mildly affected by cCMV.  Our journey may not continue as easily as the past year has been, there may be curve balls along the way, but I think this little monkey who has beaten the odds is going to continue to surprise us.  He has taught us the strength we didn't know we had and he brightens our every day.

CMV is a harmless virus unless you catch it for the first time during pregnancy, in which case it can be fatal for your unborn child.  It is passed on through bodily fluids and most commonly from children so if you are pregnant, never share food or drinks with children, kiss them on the forehead rather than the mouth and always wash your hands thoroughly after changing a nappy.
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Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Sleep Issues

I never really appreciated how well Dylan slept until I had Archie.  I thought Archie was a bad sleeper until I had Finn.  I thought I knew what tiredness was, and then I had Cora.  Somehow my babies have managed to get progressively worse at sleep and the idea of a full nights sleep is becoming less attainable.  Finn still wakes once or twice a night, he is normally settled with a dummy or a quick cuddle, but Cora wakes regularly, every two hours minimum for milk.

Joolz blanket, sleeping baby, sleep regression

At 7 months, I am starting to struggle more with the sleep deprivation.  In those early days things are so blurry but the adrenaline and new baby hormones seemed to help me cope.  As Cora gets older, it is getting harder to function the next day and it seems the less sleep I get, the more time in the day I spend thinking about it.  I feel like we have got to the stage where I need to decide what is more important to me.

I love co-sleeping and in many ways it works so well for us.  I barely need to stir in the night to feed her and it feels so natural to be close to her.  Cora is happiest in the bed with us, she doesn't have to cry out in the night for me and risk waking a brother and there is something so precious about having a baby curled up sleeping next to you.

On the other hand, I do think sometimes that if she couldn't smell me, if she had her own space, that she may not wake as frequently, and maybe we could both get a little more sleep and spend our days looking a little less like a zombie (me, not her).  We have a snuzpod set up attached to our bed which she still comfortably fits in and when we are both ready we can rearrange the bedrooms and sort out her cot.

Joolz blanket, sleep regression, co-sleeping

With a busy house, there is something so special about our night time cuddles.  Cora is always close to me in the day, but this is our time to be quiet and calm together,  our time without a brother trying to cuddle in at the same time, without distractions, just still.   As she is becoming more mobile, I need to start thinking about how to keep her safe too, whether we need to get bed rails for the other side of the bed, or invest in a video monitor so I can keep a better eye on her. 

 For now I am going to enjoy the quiet bedtime cuddles and just hope we come out the other side of this rather long sleep regression.  Any tips?

sleep issues, 4 month sleep regression, joolz blanket

Cora's beautifully soft organic cotton blanket was sent to us by the people at Joolz and it looks so snuggly!

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Monday, 6 February 2017

Introducing the iCandy Orange

Last week Cora and I attended the unveiling of iCandy's newest pushchair, the iCandy Orange.  Taking things to the next level, the Orange works as a travel system, a single or double pushchair and has a built in ride-on board. The innovative design has been years in the making and this iconic British brand seem to have thought of everything.

iCandy orange, new iCandy pushchair

As a parent who uses a double buggy, one of the biggest choices has been whether to go for an inline pushchair for convenience, or whether to choose a side by side so that I can keep my children parent facing.  The iCandy Orange offers the perfect middle ground thanks to its 'cinematic seating' as both children can be parent facing and in my eye line.  With other 30 combinations, this pushchair can work in so many different ways and for a young family like ours that is invaluable.

The built in ride-on step means never having to worry about attaching a board before you leave the house and knowing tired older siblings can just jump on.  I love the way that the iCandy Orange works with any combination of my children!  The handle height on the Orange is more adjustable than ever as well so you won't be bumping your shins on the board.

We are currently using the iCandy Peach and there are quite a few differences.  The carrycot on the orange is considerably bigger and Cora still had a lot of space in it at 7 months old.  The seat unit comes with a removable padded insert to make it more cosy for younger babies and the hood extends much further with the option to unzip a mesh panel at the back.  Both pushchairs are the same width, but the basket on the orange is bigger and more accessible.  I think the Orange is not going to be quite as lightweight to push as the peach, however the frame is still incredibly light.  Both pushchairs are freestanding when folded and both have carrycots suitable for overnight sleeping.

This pushchair will be released in March and I can't wait to see them out and about.  It will be retailing at £790 and that price will get you

*Carrycot (on its own frame)
*Sear unit (on its own frame)
*2 canopies(choice of 8 flavours)
*Luxury padded seat liner
*Carrycot apron, liner and mattress
*2 raincovers
*Car seat adaptors

 Here are some pictures from the launch .  .  .

iCandy orange, built in buggy board, icandy double pushchair

icandy orange

icandy orange

iCandy orange

iCandy orange

iCandy orange, built in ride-on, buggy board iCandy

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