Thursday, 23 September 2010

In praise of the mountain buggy

When I was pregnant we spent a very long time debating which pushchair to buy - I mean months. We wanted one which was sturdy enough to go off road, but small enough to be easy to maneuver round town (and in and out of our front door!) Then there was the question of whether to have a separate carry cot or just one bit which could lie flat, whether we wanted the option of having the baby facing towards us, and how the thing folded up. You would be amazed how complicated some 'travel systems' are - we soon invented the rule that we would only buy a pushchair which we could work out how to use without instructions. Trish was quick to recommend the Mountain Buggy, and after much deliberation we agreed with her. And we have never regretted it - we love our buggy!

It's small enough to nip round the streets and shops of Bedford, but very robust and stable over gravel, grass, tree roots etc so fits in with our weekends and holidays as well. Tim likes it because it's red, and the handle adjusts to a comfortable height for him as well as me.

Marisca likes it because it's comfortable for her. She has spent the last few months in the separate carry cot, but has just become too long for it, so has now graduated to the buggy seat:

She can still lie flat for naps, but can now sit up and see a lot more of the world. It should take her a while to grow out of it (you can see the footrest in the above shot!) So far she seems to be liking the change of view.

We fitted a cycle computer to the buggy to encourage me to get out and walk with it, but I really haven't needed much encouragement. It's so easy to use and so right for us that it was worth the expense! Thank you to my parents for generously buying it for us.

Getting creative

I've got the sewing machine out:

I'm feeling quite pleased with myself for doing something creative: the good thing about making clothes for Marisca is that they're quick to do, so can be fitted in to evenings or nap times. The trousers are made from a remnant from my local fabric shop - they stock all sorts of wonderful fabrics for making salwar kameez, so always have a huge choice. And the dress is made from two tea towels picked up in TK Maxx!

I still have a knitted patchwork blanket on the go, but am tempted to get on with some more creative projects. Any suggestions?

Monday, 20 September 2010

Look what I've found part 2

I've got feet!


I got stressed this weekend. I made the mistake of reading a book, lent to me by a friend, which had suggested routines for a baby in it. It started out well, discussing the different cries a baby makes (emotional, which means they need your help and a cuddle, hungry, which means they need feeding, and complaining, which means they are bored or tired etc.) It also chimed with the way Tim and I had been getting Marisca to sleep when she was tired: letting her cry a bit if it was just a protest cry, but going and sitting with her if she cried too long. We never let her cry if she's unhappy, but she does tend to cry as she is going to sleep, and picking her up just makes her cry more! Anyway, as all the advice seemed to fit with what we are doing anyway I started thinking this could be a good book, and made the mistake of reading the section on routines.

This suggested that a breastfed baby should have a two hour nap in the morning, another two hour nap in the afternoon, and feed every four hours. What?? Marisca sleeps for 40 minutes several times a day, and feeds every 2 to 2.5 hours (but sleeps through the night). I started stressing - should I try to make her sleep for longer, should I try to stretch her feeds, would she be happier in more of a routine etc. As with all baby books, this one of course said that all babies can follow this pattern with no problems. Then I made he mistake of looking on the internet. Lots of people saying two hour naps are the way forward, others saying they had no routine, others with different schedules. Not to mention the discussions about best times for bed/waking up!! I hit a low point and worried I was doing everything wrong.

Then I sat back and took stock. Marisca consistently sleeps through the night, from approx 7 pm to 6 or 7 am. She sometimes wakes once in that time for a feed, but then goes straight back to sleep. She consistently gets tired two hours after she's woken in the morning and goes down for a 40 minute nap - sometimes longer, never shorter. She generally gets hungry every two hours, sometimes a bit longer if she's slept a lot. When she's getting tired (generally two hours after she wakes up from a nap), she gets bags under her eyes and we know to put her down - if we don't, she will cry with tiredness but eventually settle to sleep. If we put her in her cot she knows it's time to sleep and will settle down. It's not a set 'routine', but it's working for us, and fits with our varied days.

So I'm ignoring baby books and 'experts' and the internet and going with what feels right and works for us. That way we should all stay happy and well rested! I'll kepp you updated on whether this works, or whether I resort to expert opinion again...

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Camping. Again!

I had another couple of days of holiday to use before the end of the month, and after camping in Wales a few weeks ago we decided on a whim (or as close to a whim as you can get with a 4 month old) to have a weekend camping by ourselves, in our new big family tent.

We chose to go to the North York Moors again having enjoyed our weekend there at the end of last year's camping holiday. We found a nice campsite just outside Robin Hood's Bay with really stunning views.

The stunningness of the views had a corollary: sea breezes. Putting up a big tent that we've never pitched before in a stiff breeze with a baby who demanded attention was interesting! We managed it though, and sat back, amazed at the size of the tent. I said at the time that by the end of the weekend we would be absolutely used to it and not be able to go back to the little tent - I'm not sure that's quite true, but we certainly enjoyed having so much space. Unfortunately strong sea breezes and big family tents don't mix too well... The tent survived fine for the first two nights, until Monday morning when we were preparing to go out to Whitby for the day, listening to the weather forecast of storms coming in, and as the winds picked up our clifftop position seemed a touch precarious. Sure enough, the wind shifted direction onto the front of the tent, got up a good blow, and started pushing the poor little poles over. When it dropped again the poles sprang back to shape, but we didn't fancy leaving it for the day and coming back to see whether we still had a tent! So we cut our stay a night short, and decided that sheltered campsites are probably more feasible for the next little while.

Aside from the fun of the tent, we had a really nice time. We had our first proper walk (over a hill, with an OS map, and lunch halfway round, although only 5 and a half miles it's a good start) up over the moor of Ainthorpe Rigg and down Little Fryup Dale. Mmmm. Marisca enjoyed the walk in the sling more than the scratchy heather when she needed changing on the top.

Later on we drove up Beacon Hill to introduce Risky to trig points. I know it doesn't really count because we didn't walk there, but it's good enough for us.

On the day we packed everything up, we did go into Whitby and enjoyed the traditional sights, in traditional weather. Yes, Marisca was nicely wrapped up in a sling with mummy. Yes, that means mummy had to wear daddy's waterproof. Yes, that means daddy didn't have a raincoat. Note to self: take two daddy sized raincoats on our next camping holiday.

Marisca enjoyed the fish and chips...

Finally, I don't think I'm capable of writing a blog entry about "things we have done" that doesn't include a gratuitous photo of my little girl that makes me feel soppy when I see it. So here she is, napping in her new tent.

The Baptism of Marisca Grace

On the 5th of September Marisca was baptised at our church, the same place we were married, and afterwards we had lunch for family and friends at the same place where we had our wedding reception. How's that for continuity? It was striking to me how much our lives have changed over the five-and-a-bit years, based on the relative proportion of little people at each event!

First: the fashion. Marisca wore a dazzling number in white lace (I think). An heirloom christening gown which her mum, aunt, and in different part her gran and grandad were all christened in (I think). It's a Crocker special, in any case, and received lots of admiring comments.

For the ceremony itself, our girl was impeccably behaved. Hanging on Martin's every word, almost enjoying the baptism of water, and charming the congregation as she went round during the singing of Be Thou My Vision (another common thread from our wedding).

If anyone has any photos from the day, please do send them to Elspeth or myself. We hardly took any ourselves, presumably we had too much to do in making sure everything went smoothly. Thanks to my dad for the ones of the service including the one above.
I did manage to take a couple of photos of the cake, for which much kudos to Elspeth for the sweeties and Sian for the writing. Corecktly speeled and everything!

Thank you to everyone who came to share Marisca's special day, we had a really great time.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

A beautiful gift

Here's the original:

And here's the beautiful picture painted by our neighbour Anita:

As you can see it now has pride of place on the dining room wall. Anita hasn't painted anything in five years, but she's certainly talented!

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

What's in a name?

When we were choosing names for our future baby we also paid attention to possible nicknames they could end up with. Marisca didn't lend itself to any terrible nicknames that we could think of, which was one of the reasons we settled on it. The only nickname we could think of was Risky, which we rather liked - in fact, we use it ourselves fairly regularly! I like the idea of her using it, especially in her teenage years...

Interestingly, since she has arrived, we've found a few other things to call Marisca. I used to call her 'Risky-roos' until Tim vetoed it (fair enough), and Tim used 'Risca' for a while until I vetoed it. We both refer to her as 'The Girl' (as in 'are you looking after The Girl?' 'I think The Girl needs her nappy changed' etc.), and we thought that was it - until this weekend. This weekend, Chris and Sian came to stay with their daughters Jessica and Annabel. When they tried to say 'Marisca' it came out sounding like 'the whisker' - and lo, a new nickname was born!

So at the moment she is 'Whisker' to her face and 'The whisker' when referring to her. Who knows what will happen next. It will be fun finding out...

Four months

Carrying Marisca round the house this morning I noticed how long she has got - my little girl is getting bigger! She's definitley out of the 0-3 month clothes now, and we have said goodbye to some of her dresses with sadness. Still, lots of exciting new clothes to grow into, so that's good fun.

Marisca now loves sitting up and pulls herself forwards when she's in her bouncy chair. The bumbo seat willl come into it's own now as she is much more upright in that. As in the last few months, her awareness of the world around her has increased: she reaches out for anything I am holding and gets it into her mouth. So beware if you are holding her along with a TV remote, book, cup of tea etc...

With this increased awareness comes increased boredom - Marisca's tolerance for anything is much lower than it used to be. She's happiest when I'm right next to her to hand her toys, sing her songs and smile at her. While I love doing this it does mean no housework gets done, so every now and again she has to put up with less attention from me while I wash up/put the washing on/cook dinner. She does not like this! I'm looking forward to her learning to play by herself in the coming months so that I get a few minutes to clean the house and reduce my stress levels.

Talking of playing, I'm aware how limited my range of songs and games are. We're starting 'baby college' this week, which should teach us lots more games to play together! It's time to get out and about more so I've made a list of local sure start centres and toddler groups. The housework still won't get done, but we'll be having too much fun to care!

Friday, 3 September 2010


Last week we went away on a proper holiday: a week camping in the Brecon beacons with Chris, Sian and their two littlies. Here are the dads with their bundles of fun:

This was our first attempt at camping with Marisca and it all went very well, even when the heavens opened. The tent stayed dry throughout, Marisca was happy as could be and even slept all through the night with no problems. In fact, we were awake more than she was due to rain, hedgehog invasions and toilet trips!

We didn't get to climb any hills this holiday, but here they are in the background:

And here is Marisca in her sleeping bag, specially knitted by Gran. This not only made her look even cuter than usual, but was also incredibly practical, keeping her toasty warm overnight.

We don't seen to have any photos of anything else from the holiday - just Marisca. Here's one of our favourites, a sleeping girl in the morning sun:

And a couple of photos to finish off, one with Mummy and one with Daddy:

Sadly though, this holiday marks the last one for a while in our much loved tent. It was plenty big enough for two, and just big enough for two plus a baby, but will not be big enough for two plus a crawling baby, or a toddler. We have now upgraded to a larger 'family' tent, with room to stand up, run around and store bags. This one will be in storage for future years! We will miss it...

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Family resemblances

Some days people tell me Marisca looks just like me, other days they say she looks just like Tim. I can never see it: she always looks like Marisca to me. But in this photo she reminds me of my Grandma. Maybe it's the facial expression, maybe it's the tight crop, but something brings that family resemblance to mind!