30 August 2015

We've entered the world of weaning

In the last couple of weeks there has been lots of peeling, chopping, mashing, freezing, bib washing and tasting going on in our house as Little 3 has begun weaning. 

At around 4 and a half months he began to show signs of readiness, munching when we were eating, swiping at our food (we had to be quick at times and he did end up with his fingers in my dinner once or twice!), showing a huge interest when we were eating and happily having the odd (very occasional) suck on my apple or a piece of cucumber as he got quite cross when the rest of us were eating and he wasn't. He was also able to sit fairly well in his highchair too.

4 and a half months old was a bit early (as the current guidelines suggest around 6 months old) so I didn't start weaning him then but it was the time when I began to switch him from breast feeding to formula feeding. Little 3 had not been putting on sufficient weight at each weigh in and was slipping down the charts, he seemed to be getting enough milk from me as he was content between feeds and gaining weight (albeit not enough to maintain his centiles) but he wanted feeding every 2 hours and would feed for increasing lengths of time sometimes getting frustrated and biting me during a feed (ouch!) as well as still wanting quite a few feeds in the night.

It all got a bit too much for me at the start of the summer holidays being on constant demand feeding Little 3 as well as having Little 1 home from school and trying to entertain the girls during mammoth feeding sessions, we couldn't go out much and the girls got bored and bickered and Little 3 got distracted, messing and pulling which wasn't fun for me!

When Little 3 was 19 weeks old I dropped a breast feed for a formula feed at bedtime hoping it would help him sleep at little better (it made no difference) and each week since then we have introduced another bottle of formula at the same time as dropping another breast feed so that I could begin to feel a little more myself and not be in such constant demand. We are 5 weeks in and Little 3 is now on 4 bottles of formula and a feed or two from me each day (which we are going to continue with at the moment), it has made me feel much better in myself and although I am still up feeding in the night and very tired I don't feel as physically drained as I did before. There is more time for the girls too and we are better able to get out and about now that I am not tied to the sofa so much!

Little 3 had continued to gain weight slowly despite the introduction of formula and still wanted to be fed overnight (not that night feeding is a problem at this age but he still wanted feeding every 2-3 hours day and night and after 5 months of this feeding and sleep deprivation on my part something had to give as I was shattered) we made the decision to begin weaning at just over 5 months (the same age as we started weaning with the girls too). 

Little 3 was obviously ready to wean as he took to it like a duck to water devouring anything that passed his lips with a huge grin on his face. It is like feeding a little bird with his wide open mouth and little squeals if you don't keep the spoon coming fast enough! We have opted to wean with purees as that is how we weaned the girls but he is already, just 3 weeks in, taking thicker purees without any trouble and even chomping on chunks of very soft veg (potato, sweet potato, broccoli) without much gagging so I think it will be a mixed approach this time with purees and soon mashed food with a few finger food tasters for him to have a go at while we are eating our dinner too rather than full on Baby Led Weaning (I can't stand the mess and with carpets under the dinner table need I say more?!).

He is now 3 weeks into weaning and having 3 small meals a day and pudding at lunch and dinner time (just a couple of tablespoons of each course at the moment so that he doesn't reduce the all important milk intake just yet).

So far as he is still under 6 months (24 weeks now) we have stuck to fruit and vegetable combinations as well as gluten free baby porridge for breakfast since last week and in the last couple of days I have introduced yoghurt to increase his dairy intake too. Next we will be introducing meat and fish then foods containing gluten like bread, pasta etc after 6 months.

We have yet to find anything he doesn't like however a few foods are obviously not as tasty as others!

 I have no doubt that he will have shot up the weight charts this month seeing him devouring his food and he has been noticeably filling out too, we are going to have a foodie on our hands!

27 August 2015

A day at the beach with Grandad

Last weekend the weather perked up and we headed to Devon for a few days to visit family and friends, many of whom were still to meet Little 3. We had planned a day out with my dad, the Little Ones Grandad, and as the weather was so lovely we decided to visit the beach in the town where he lives. 

Growing up I visited this beach often, sometimes we went after school to burn a bit of energy and then with friends in my teens, I remember rockpooling as a child and bbq's with extended family. We used to walk along the long promenade in the evenings and my husband and I spent many a moonlit evening watching the sea when he used to visit me when we lived apart in the early days of our relationship. 

It is great now to take the Little ones to places that I enjoyed growing up and seeing them having fun, sharing it with Grandad this time was lovely too.

The girls changed into their swimming things within seconds of arriving at the beach and Little 1 was straight down to the water, she waded in squealing at the chill of the water and was having great fun briefly sitting in the water and jumping up as the waves hit her back, she got quite brave and had daddy lay her on her front and dip her chest in the water.

She loved spending time in the sea and was really quite adventurous for her as normally she shies away from cold water!

Little 2 was not fussed by the sea itself and got straight into digging sandcastles and filling buckets of sea water with sand watching the sand change colour and displace the water, she did this for such a long time and was totally engrossed and happy doing her own little thing.

Soon the tide had begun to turn and the rock pools came out from beneath the waves. Grandad, Daddy and the girls set out to see what they could find with Mummy following behind hoping not to slip and fall in thus ruining the camera. The girls were armed with nets and excited at the thought of catching something, Little 2 needed a wide berth as we walked down waving her net wildly in excitement.

As we explored the recently uncovered pools we spotted and caught lots of shrimpy type fish and had to be quick to net them. Grandad was pretty nifty with the net and we soon had a bucket full of them.

Little 3 meanwhile was having a snooze in the pushchair, once he woke he enjoyed watching the comings and goings of the beach but was suffering with cutting his teeth (which are nearly through now) so mainly wanted to sit and chew things. The sun got quite strong so he stayed out of the heat under his pushchair canopy when he wasn't having cuddles.

The girls, Daddy and Grandad soon returned to show us what they had caught since I had left them knee deep in seaweed, there were more shrimps, lots of cockles and two crabs, a big one and a smaller one (which the big one was holding in this picture, I'm not sure if he was trying to mate with it or kill it!!). Little 1 was pretty pleased with her catch and we soon returned them all to the pools ready for the next net to find.

Letting go...
Lunchtime was upon us, it had been a busy morning and the beach was filling up fast. The girls enjoyed their picnic on the wall to avoid sandy sandwiches.

After our lunch we decided to go for a walk along the promenade and all enjoyed a tasty ice cream, all too soon it was time to bath two sandy Little Ones and head back for tea. We really enjoyed our day at the beach and will have to do it again soon.

15 August 2015

Simple summer patio fun

We are still in the process of building a small patio outside our back doors after our extension a while ago, we still need to cut all the stones to fit around the edges but it is a work in progress. Now that we have a little patio and the weather has been warm we have had the back doors open a lot and the girls have taken to playing outside on the stones.

At the moment their favourite thing is a paint brush and a simple pot of water, they like to draw, write, make patterns and pictures as well as just colour in the stones. Such a simple activity, free and pretty much mess free too if you don't mind a 3 year old with a soggy dress. 

We have also drawn on the stones with chalk and watered down paint which they then love to wash off with their watering can or leave until it rains, they then spend ages watching it disappear sitting by the window.

The Little ones love tea parties on 'the terrace' with water to pour in their teapots and cups and a biscuit or two for the babies, it keeps them occupied for ages while I feed Little 3.

While these things are all fun and keep them entertained they are educational too. Little 2 and I had quite a long and interesting conversation about evaporation and the rain cycle on the day these pictures were taken. She was a little cross that the pictures she had painted were drying faster than she could finish them and wanted me to explain why.

We do lots of things now in such a small space. What other low mess activities could we do on our little patio?

11 August 2015

A feature canvas wall with Snapfish

What do you do with all those photos that you take? I know that I have hundreds of pictures of my family on my computer, being a blogger the camera is never far away, but there are so many that do not get printed. We had been saving the big space of wall behind our television for a large special picture of us as a family of five, but which one to choose? 

Then Snapfish came up with the answer, why choose just one photo when we could have several, we could create a fabulous feature wall and even better still we wouldn't have to leave it at that, our wall could expand as the children grow too. 

Snapfish have recently brought out a new range of slim canvas prints just 0.7 inches deep , the range offers exclusive sizes and limitless opportunities to create beautiful patchwork style wall art even on a budget. From small 8x8 inch canvases at £17.99 to 30x20 inch at £69.99 there is something for everyone and suitable for every space too.

With the space in mind that we wanted to use we thought about what could make up a great feature wall. Not just recent pictures but scans of old pictures, the children's drawings or macro photography all featured in our list of possibilities. In the end we decided to get a little creative with our prints and painted the Little One's hands and feet and printed them onto paper to make pictures then turned the photos of them into canvas prints for our wall. We also chose to add a recent picture of each child to start our feature wall knowing we could add our big family picture when we take a nice one.. Then all we had to do was think about how to display them.

The great thing about a feature wall is how it can evolve, starting with a few mix and match pictures in the middle of the wall we can then expand our display at any tine. We ordered 5 canvas prints to start our display, we chose 8x10 canvases for the children's pictures, I had liked the idea of the little 8x8 prints for the children's hands and feet but they fitted the rectangular shaped canvas better.

We played around with some possible layouts as you can see below. We decided we liked the mismatched arrangement better (at the bottom) and went with that one, it will be easy to add too soon as well.

It was easy to hang them on the wall with a nail, hammer and a spirit level to ensure they were straight. Just make sure that you have clean hands as canvas prints can mark if you don't. We lined the prints up until we thought they looked good and ensured the gaps between them were even and voila, the start of a great display.

Do you have somewhere for a feature wall? It doesn't have to be a big area, behind the bed, down the stairs or over the fireplace perhaps?

N.B We were given £80 Snapfish credit towards the cost of our prints in return for this post.

4 August 2015

The little ones go puddle jumping

I thought we were in for a scorching hot summer holidays if the weather from the end of term was anything to go by but so far it has been pretty dreary, lots of damp drizzly days and a lot of the time too soggy to play out in the garden. Now actually I like this type of weather I'd rather be cool and comfortable than hot and sticky but it has meant the girls have not spent as much time outside as I would have liked this past week.

Planned wanders up the canal with a little picnic snack and bags of bread for the ducks have fallen by the wayside in favour of short dashes to the library and toddler group for something to do with the girls seeing as we do not have access to the car in the week to go somewhere indoors.

Last Friday was one of those days where it rained from when we got up and was still raining when Daddy got home from work, the girls had some serious energy to burn. The rain had let up to a fine drizzle so we suggested a stroll and free rein (no pun intended) in the puddles. The girls put on their wellies and rainsuits, Little 3 was warm and dry in his pushchair and off we went. 

Initially we found smallish puddles that didn't impress them much, Little 1 was jumping in with all her might trying to make the biggest splash and Little 2 was running through them laughing. Then we came across two huge puddles, thankfully not too deep but big enough to get seriously wet and they were in their element.

Little 1 was trying her best to soak everyone running about and trying to jump the highest and Little 2 was shouting 'This is soooooo fuuuuunnnn!' at the top of her voice as well as 'Puddles, puddles. puddles' as she ran kicking the water in front of her.

Both girls had a great time and got thoroughly soaked with wellies full of water, Little 1 did not want to go home but I could see she was rather wet and getting chilly. We headed home, popped both girls in a warm bath while I cooked tea and let them eat tea in their pyjamas. 

Bit of a photo overload but there were so many, it is a pity they are a bit blurry as it was dreary and I should have had the flash up on the camera but they looked okay until I got home! 

Who is ready to go home?