Monday, 27 December 2010


We left everything really late this year and so the Wednesday before christmas I was rushing round like a maniac trying to track down a Christmas Tree. All the usual places were sold out but then I managed to find some at a petrol station. There was the choice of really short or really tall I plumped for a really tall one, and I mean a REALLY tall one!

It barely fitted inside the car, poor Joel must have wondered what the heck was going on.

We had to chop a big bit off the top and finally got round to dressing it the night before Christmas Eve. We bought Joel some decoration as we thought it'd be nice each year if there was a box of decorations that were his which we can add to.

Christmas Eve the neighbours delivered some freshly baked scones and a home made card.

and the postman delivered us a stack of parcels from Jill wrapped in fantastic homemade paper.

On Christmas day Joel got a nice new hat, though it's a little on the large size!

And a really cool finger puppet version of The Hungry Caterpillar

Not to mention lots and lots of other nice things. I don't think Joel knew how special a day it was but we did.


I'd set out with every intention of telling you all about Joels adventures and firsts. Time seems to slip by though and before I knew it it's over a month since I've blogged. So I'll bring you up to speed.

He can now roll onto his tummy and in his own funny way crawl. He uses his face as his arms aren't strong enough yet but he is so determined to be on the move he keeps going anyway and manages to travel across his play mat.

He had his first go in his door bouncer. Didn't do much bouncing but instead pirouetted round and round on his toes. It was so funny and lovely to watch.

Today he had his first try of his highchair. I had to put a cushion under him as he is still quite small for it. I gave him some baby rice and he played with some toys with Myrtle sat by his side. No doubt the position she will assume from now on.

And every time he goes out he wears this fleecy pram suit which I customised with a nice bright orange J. I thought I'd have loads of time for crafts whilst at home with a baby but there's no time for anything much!

Men in tights

I had no idea that a practical fashion solution for chilly legs, wooly tights, would cause such a stir. I've received praise ('Good for you' or 'I wish I'd done that when he was little') and ponderings ('Tights?') in equal measures from other mums on this. For some reason over the last 20 years this seems to have become something exclusive to girl babies. Why is that? After all they are babies, not little boys or little girls.....yet.

There used to be a far more unisex approach to baby clothes, so when did we get so uptight about gender?? Babies used to wear long nighties, with matinee jackets over the top (like this one above) and were only dressed up for visitors, imagine how practical that would have been, no need to undo and do up poppers on grows five or six times a day. Here's a contemporary version of this combo.

When they went out baby tights were common use for boys and girls, perfect for warm wriggly legs of all sizes. Yet in my quest for tights I found any multipack of super bright colours was plighted by a pink pair, or a pair with daisies on them.Clearly these products are not stocked with boy babies in mind.

Anyway I have managed to get my mitts on some plain brights and some stripey brights so thought I'd share some of the fashion combos Joel and I have put together, they made us smile and hope they make you smile too. We don't go for all the miniature adult outfits that are in the shops. You can have so much fun with babies, so why should their fashion be so serious?

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Great Expectations

On Sunday we went to visit my Grandma Amy, Joels Great Grandma. She was thrilled to see us and as she gave Joel his first great cuddle she said 'Hello Joel I'm your Great Grandma' and as usual Joel looked like he knew exactly what was being said, carefully studying her face lined with 95years worth of wrinkles.

We ate cake and chatted about her garden, her helpers, her memories of the blitz when she was living in Luton and her recent day out as the local Girl Guides guest of honor at there centenary party.
Amy is the oldest living Girl Guide in the village and she spoke to the guides about her years as a Guide in particular her attendance at an International Guiding event when she was 15, back in 1930, where she met some Guides from New Zealand! She aslo told us about the time she looked after a small group of scouts when there was temporarily no leader for their group. She arranged a local barn for their meetings and set up a mock camp fire in the middle of it using torches under red cellophane paper and sticks. They begged her to tell them scary ghost stories at the end of each meeting, so she did but one night they got so scared they wouldn't walk home alone, there would have been no street lights in the village then, so she had to walk them all round their houses. How funny.
The local paper featured an article on the event and published Amys picture. She has also written a piece for an article a local journalist is writing about the Girl Guides.

I wonder what it's like to be able to reflect back so clearly on 95years of life, with such alot of very happy memories to share. I'm glad that Joel and her have met and in some small way shared their wisdom on life.

Baby it's cold outside.

Well actually it's warm and sunny at the moment, in fact you'd be hard pushed to believe it's October! Despite the warm days the temperature surely falls at night, when there is a real bite in the air and an exciting whiff of Haloween, Bonfire Night and beyond.

Joel has a quite a collection of fantastic blankets to keep the chill off.

Here he is pictured on his special one by Sharon, which I've already featured along with the lovely patchwork by Jill.

These thinner ones are what we have used during summer, they were both mine when I was a baby, the one on the left is what I was brought home from hospital in on the day of our streets 1977 Queens Jubilee party, infact the taxi could only get my mum so far and then she had to walk the rest, imagine that, little teeny me amidst all those rows of tables of waving union jacks and bowls of jelly. 

This fantastic white one was made by my Aunty Judy, look at the amazing detail. I love the ribbon.

This is another one that was mine as a baby, a kitten eiderdown with a distinctly vintage look about it. This goes on top of a blanket to weight it down when it's really cold.

This check blanket it mainly used in his pram as it's fairly small. It too was mine as a baby, I love the satin edging, to stop any tickling of sensitive skin, and the lovely old label.

We thought a good way to put Joel down once he is asleep is to warm his cot with a hot water bottle so the cold contrast to a warm cuddle doesn't wake him. I found this lovely one in town. How sweet!

All in all he should be snug as a little bald, blue eyed bug as the weather gets colder.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010


Ever felt like you are going nowhere fast? That's how I feel quite often of late.
I've been really concerned about my breastfeeding, convinced that my milk supply was dwindling, having nightmares about it infact. We'd had to supplement Joels feeds with formula from five weeks and whilst that helped him gain weight and conform with health visitors growth charts (which it turns out aren't based solely on breastfed babies) it has over the last few weeks meant a diminished supply of breastmilk.

We've been going to a local breastfeeding support group which has really helped us, boosted my confidence with feeding in public, introduced us to other mums and babies but most of all got some really great advice with regards to breastfeeding.

Last week one of the midwife assistants was there from Helme Chase (the midwife led unit where Joel was born), she was great to chat to, I just wanted to take her home with me. All the midwives and assistants were so supportive with the feeding as they can see the long term benefits to mum, baby and in turn the NHS.

Anyway just when I thought Joel and I were getting into the swing of things he's got a cold and decided he won't take a bottle at all! What a stressful situation, a baby that won't feed. Reading on forums over the weekend it seems we aren't the only parents to experience this in a ten week old. I don't know if it's because of his cold or something else. All we can do is keep trying and trying.

So it was nice on Saturday when Mr B took Joel to visit Grandma and Grandad B. That day I found smiles  in the unlikeliest of places, in the sunflowers watching me through the nursery window while I expressed milk. Quite a lonely thing to do with Joel away from me.

Walking Myrtle, something I never get to do these days, in the woods and seeing the river in full force. Wow! She didn't dare go in.

In the yellow pepper I chopped for our tea, a proper little smiley face! It was nice to have time to prepare a meal for us. I used to love cooking our tea.

All it had taken to feel positive again was a little space to breath and remember who I was again.

Aside from the feeding Joel is making fantsatic progress, he is a very alert (that means awake all the time) and inquisitive baby who smiles regularly. Here he is smiling in his special cardigan.

He now says 'goo goo' 'boo' and 'poo', he makes an effort to hold your finger (before it just happened by accident), he can perform 'the worm', a breakdance move which involves wriggling in an upward direction on his back and enjoys playing with his cot activity centre, smiling at the kitchen lights and snuggling up at bedtime with his mum and dad.
We have quite by accident ended up with a  family bed but it's actually really nice so we are in no hurry to change the sleeping arangements. There's something very nice about all being together.

On sunday afternoon Joel took his nap with his dad. Look at how his little finger is sticking out, it's like that all the time.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Park Life

You can tell winter is on it's way when shadows are long in the afternoon, so I'm glad we ventured out with Joel to visit Michael in my hometown of Blackpool whilst we still have some fairly warm days. I don't really get out during the week so it's nice to do stuff as a family at the weekend.
We went for a good old wander around Stanley Park, possibly the best park I've ever been in. It made me realise what a treasure it is, a hidden one too as most people who visit Blackpool probably don't venture there, so it's really more for the residents.
There is allsorts to do putting, crazy golf, boating, slides and swings and trampolenes (which we were shocked at now costing £1 for 5 minutes!) It always makes me think of my childhood when I go there, I spent many an afternoon playing there, not wanting play time to end.
I always used to make extra effort to get a go on the crazy golf, mainly as it took a long time thus extending my 'park time' but also because it was a bit like miniatures. Oh I forgot to mention there is a separate model village there too, but that costs quite a bit so we didn't go in.

Each course has a lovely stencilled number next to it, you can see how different colours have been tried out over the years.

So some of the crazy courses resemble miniature landscapes.

Whilst some are more abstract! Not sure what this one is??

My favourite are still the miniatures. As a child I strode over them like a giant, for one afternoon a week I felt big.

I always tried to hit the toadstools, I don't think that was the idea but it took up more time and made this one a bit like a pinball machine too
This one was always solid

They have always been painted in the same five colours, each Spring it will be someones job to spruce the courses up and re stencil the numbers. I imagine them on the phone ordering ''toadstool red'' or ''castle yellow''.
I remembered how the highlight of the game wouldn't be winning but just spending as much time as possible with my dad with the added bonus of a squirrel lolloping across the course with an acorn in it's mouth, blissfully unaware of how big canons really are.

Monday, 27 September 2010


Before the changable weather set in we had a nature walk down the lanes with my mum. Joel saw hazlenuts which weren't ready to pick yet. They were slightly pink in colour and growing quite low down, I would have never really thought they were hazlenuts if mum hadn't said so.

We also filled a tupaware tub with blackberries, slightly earlier than last years picking session. They were sweet and juicy and warm from the autumn sun so I ate quite alot whilst picking as that's when they taste best.

Joel is so lucky to be growing up here.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Mr Magoo

Last week I went for a wander around the small town near to where my mum lives. It's what you might describe as a 'one horse town', somewhat stuck in the past with limited shops which all close early (much to my frustration as I missed all four of it's well stocked charity shops!) I spotted this fantastic old sigh hanging outside the opticians, I thought it was so cool and retro I just had to share it with you.

It's a bit like 'if your eyesight is so bad you can't read the sign which says opticians then here is a massive pair of glasses so you can still find us'. It made me smile during what had been quite a low week for me, just the usual struggles and uncertainties of motherhood.

I've always treasured my first piece of post, mail to my American readers, well my mum did and then passed it on to me some years back. It's a postcard from my Granny Eileen and Grandad John (on my dads side), both of which have passed away (infact I can't even remember my Grandad John), from their holiday to the New Forest when I was just four months old (postmark September 1977)

It was with this in mind that made me so happy when Joel recieved his first piece of post from our good friend Michael.

It's a lovely thing for him to have to read when he is older, thanks Uncle Michael.

...lucky leaf

I'm not getting on here regularly enough to post as things happen but I am jotting all my ideas down and storing my photos for those stolen moments when Joel is asleep. We haven't developed much of a routine yet, well what can you expect from a seven week old? So life at Oakbank still very much revolves around him.

A couple of weeks ago Millie and I got out on a stroll up the hill with him, we hadn't gone more than a few feet when Joel got his first bit of luck, a lucky leaf!

If you aren't familiar with this it's when a leaf falls from a tree and lands on you, perhaps it's seen as a rarity and that's why it's so good. It's certainly better than being struck by a bird poo, which strangely enough is also considered lucky! This is probaby something thought up to console the poo victim. Anyhow, this was a reminder of how autumn is well and truely with us now. Joels first autumn.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

...cuddles with Miss Wiggles

Our good friend Jill visited this weekend, it was the first time she had met Joel and we had so much to catch up on; labour, breastfeeding and what it's like to have your life turned upside down by a tiny weeny boy.

Jill brought Joel some lovely gifts. They were colour co-ordinated in the same colours as the nursery and the baby shower. Jill gave him- A lovely story book from the 1940's, Jill said she thought that the author must have been American as her photograph was so glamerous with her hair all set and her makeup done (then we laughed as we both said 'because english women didn't even know where there next meal was coming from let alone the next pair of tights)
A brilliantly funny pair of knitted boot/socks which as you can see by the photograph look like they are for a five year old in the foot but a six month old in the leg. Jills mum made a beautiful cardigan (Jill picked the colours).

The best present of all was this lovely patchwork quilt which Jill had made from an online pattern. It's in all the colours we have used in the nursery and looked spendid on Joels bright orange cot. What a lucky boy he is to have such nice things.

We went for afternoon tea in town and saw this very summery window display in one of my favourite shops, Woodbridge and Mounsey. They have a dusty dim lit back room stacked high with fabric and wallpaper books, it would probably take you months to look through them all. The window was of the new Sanderson range of wallpapers and had been displayed as though they were swim suits. We were impressed and I'm sure Joel would have been if he'd been awake.


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