Water daughter

  I have only ever done one form of exercise and that is swimming. Reflecting on past experiences of exercising, I think I could have been much better at sports if people had believed in me a little more. Don’t misinterpret that; my parents were fantastic and every different bloody activity I said I wanted to do they usually humoured. I did swimming, gymnastics, cycling, roller skating. I tried trampolining, table tennis, badminton, ballet, tap dancing. And there’s probably more still. They believed in me, but my secondary school teachers did not. 

It seemed, at my all-girls grammar school, that if you were no good at conventional, usually team based, sports then you were no good at any sport. That, plus being quite an academic, even at a grammar school, wrote you off completely. I remember a couple of instances when my PE teachers demonstrated how little faith they had in my physical ability. The first was when we were practising for the hurdles. My class was split into three groups; the super duper sporty types, the relatively sporty types and then me and my mates. Our teacher walked round to each group and instructed someone to get the hurdles out of the cupboard. When she got to our group she handed us some sticks of bamboo, told us to lay them on the ground and then jump over them. I mean seriously? We didn’t even get a choice. I wanted to do the proper hurdles. I might have been good at it but we didn’t even get a chance. The teacher assumed that we couldn’t do it because we were a bit rubbish at hockey and netball. (Not actually true, we just didn’t want to spend every evening after school being driven all over the county in a minibus to play another team. We were smart. We wanted to go home!)

The other occasion that springs to mind is when we had to do a fitness test. It was basically an assault course and we were timed to see how long it took us to do it. Well at this stage of my life I was seriously into my swimming. My family went every Wednesday for about an hour and a half and we sometimes went at weekends too. I also walked to school and back every day. I was reasonably fit. So I dash round the assault course in 58 seconds. I was pretty chuffed with that. Once everybody had had their go the teacher calls the class over. 

“Did anybody complete the course in under a minute?” she says, looking around the group. I put my hand up. My hand is the only hand up. I’m pretty shocked too at this point. Not even Megan Wilson, the super sporty member of our class, has her hand up. 

“What time did you get?” my teacher snapped, as though I’d misheard her initial question. Sheepishly I told her. “One minute and 58 seconds?”she replied, clearly doubting my response. I corrected her and she congratulated me, eventually. The damage had been done by then though. I knew that she had low expectations of my physical ability. It was at that point that I stopped trying to impress my PE teachers. I stuck to my swimming. 

I’m not the World’s best swimmer. I’m neither fast or technically accurate, but I’d happily spend all day in water. I’ve swam in various seas, lakes, rivers and obviously swimming pools. A bath is my favourite way to relax at the end of the day. Therefore it is important to me that Emily is happy and safe in the water. 

From day 1, bath times have been a splashy affair. I made sure that water went on her face and in her eyes. We never bathed her when she was unhappy, so she’d always associate water with fun and calm. Emily has also been having swimming lessons since she was 7 weeks old. We do these with Water Babies, and they are brilliant. Emily has become much more comfortable being on her front, enjoys swimming on her back and has had several underwater dips. They teach them to swim to the edge if they fall in and to hold on to the side. But most of all, they teach that water is something to be enjoyed. I think I like our swimming lessons more than Emily. 


Disposable nappy? The smell is crappy!

Dan, Emily and I are on holiday at the moment. We’ve gone on a short break to our nearby Center Parcs. It’s a great place for kids and adults alike and everybody was recommending it to us hence we thought we’d head here for a couple of days. Our accommodation comprises of a three-bedroomed lodge; we have a little patio with a BBQ and a small kitchen with cooker, dishwasher etc. What our little kitchen is missing, however, is a washing machine and this raises a problem. 

As you are probably aware I am big on the reusable stuff, particularly when it comes to Emily. As soon as we were released from hospital we started using cloth nappies and we’ve never looked back. I’m a big fan of the wonderful prints offered by our nappy of choice, the Bambino Miosolo, and have consequently bought all the different prints I could get my hands on. This means that I quite enjoy nappy change time when I get to choose a new design and, nearly three months in, I still haven’t got bored of them yet. I also like how soft they feel. They must feel wonderful against Emily’s backside. I’m actually kind of jealous! If they could make them for me, I’d slip one on now and be super happy about it. 

There are other interesting things we’ve noticed too. For example, Emily never wees out of her nappy. We’ve not had a mid nappy change accident since using cloth nappies. Also she does not wet her nappies during the night. Now I might be reading too much into this but I think there is an element of control on her part here. She knows what she is doing because she can feel the dampness in a cloth nappy. 

However we are currently on a washing-machine-less holiday and this means we are back in disposables. I have been grumbling for weeks about this. “Bloody disposable nappies! Crusty bloody things!” etc etc. Poor old Dan has endured this drivel admirably. Anyway they are ugly looking things. I hate seeing a disposable nappy sticking out of a baby’s clothes. Urgh! They are also very crusty. I hate holding the things while I’m preparing to put them on Emily and I certainly wouldn’t want one on my backside. We have had two “action wees” as we call them. Wees that happen mid-nappy change. And Emily has been wetting at night again. This could be a coincidence but it does seem weird. 

Now all of these hideous consequences of using disposable nappies are nothing compared to the smell. We did not notice it when we were using them in the hospital. When we first put one on for this trip however my first thought was that they smelt like hospital. Odd! They really really smell funny. It’s chemically! It’s the smell they add to make them not smell and it actually makes it worse. As soon as Emily goes for a wee you can smell it. It gets right up my nostrils. And oh my days, the poo or even a fart! It makes your eyes water. Poos in a cloth nappy just smell like sour yoghurt but in a disposable they smell like poo. It’s disgusting!

I genuinely can not wait to get home and put Emily back in a real nappy. Then she can smell of pure baby again. My lovely, sweet-smelling baby!

Can you see the sea? Yes!

Today was our first trip to the seaside with Emily. I love the beach. As a child holidays for me were centred around the beach. We’d head there after lunch, spend the afternoon swimming in the sea, building motor boats in the sand, eating ice creams/beignets and reading books.  Come the evening we’d have fish and chips or a BBQ, have another dip in the sea and then play a game of frisbee or rounders as the sunset. A perfect day out and some of the best times of my childhood. Therefore taking Emily to the beach was an exciting moment for me. 

We’ve taken Emily to a few places of interest over these first weeks of her life. After endless verses of ‘Old MacDonald’ I thought it was time to take her to see some actual farm animals. That way when I talked/sang about cows or sheep she might know what I was blabbering on about. So off we trotted to Wroxham Barns with some friends who also have kids. Emily fell asleep in the car like she usually does and I figured she’d wake up once we arrived. Nope! Zonked. We pushed her around the farm and she snoozed throughout. She did however wake up just as we walked through the exit and got a good look at the car park. Great!

There are people who she has been in the company of yet not seen them because she has had had her eyes firmly shut and been wandering in the Land of Nod. I also believe that she thinks that she teleport. Sometimes she has dozed off in her play gym and then she wakes up in Tesco or even more impressively at my parents’ house, 150 miles away in Kent. Occasionally she looks bewildered by this occurrence but is mostly accepting. 

I digress. The beach.  Well Emily saw it. 😀


New age parenting?

I had some friends come round today who we haven’t seen in quite a while. At one point we were really close to the bloke (he was the only person who new me and my husband were dating when we were trying to hide it from our collective boss), but over the years we have grown apart. Anyway little Emily is a bit of a magnet for attracting people you haven’t seen in a while, so round they came with a Ewan the Sheep snugly which is now coated in dribble. 

Some reminiscing happened about our alcohol fuelled youth and the antics the three of us got up to when we worked together. We talked jäger bombs and dodgy dancing and caught up on the scraps of information we had about old colleagues. “Blah blah got fat! So-n-so was sacked!” Eventually conversation turned to how grown up we now are, with mortgages, marriage and kids taking centre stage.

As with most of my meet ups these days, my boob had to come out. Emily is whimpering, sucking her hand down to the bone and trying to eat anything that goes even remotely near her mouth. It’s feeding time (again!) in Emily world! Nearly 11 weeks in, I really don’t care where I get my boob out and who I get my boob out in front of. I’m currently trying to collect Norfolk landmarks and can already claim Roys of Wroxham, Wroxham Barns, Chapelfields, The Mall and Nandos. I’ve also had it out in my boss’ office. I’m beyond worrying and know I’m doing the right thing. So I sure as hell ain’t gonna think twice about getting it out in my own living room, regardless of who is round. Anyway this sparked a huge conversation on breastfeeding, the benefits, the challenges and the fact that there aren’t many people that do it for as long as I have. (Quite proud of this!)

After discussing what goes in, naturally we discussed what comes out. Because it did come out during our conversation. Our friends then catch a glimpse of our gorgeous reusable nappy; a Bambino Miosolo in the Pandamonium print. A personal fave! Yet another topic for major discussion. I spoke about the fact that it takes 500 years for a nappy to decompose, meaning that every disposable nappy ever used still exists in a landfill somewhere. I talked about the money saving benefits, after explaining to my friend that newborns can go through 12 nappies a day when he had guessed two or three. Ha! 

Three hours later we had talked through these topics in great detail and my friend said “I think it’s great! You’re like new age parents.” I laughed at the time and responded that I did feel like a bit of a hippy. However, afterwards it got me thinking, breastfeeding and washable nappies are hardly new concepts. In fact, they are the exact opposite. What Dan and I are doing is using traditional parenting techniques that were used long before the existence of today’s alternatives. And the reason is because it makes sense to us. I can count on the fingers of one hand what Emily has consumed and can do the same for the chemicals that have touched her bum.  

And when I look at my daughter, smiling and giggling away, she is clearly not suffering as a consequence of the decisions we’ve made. Therefore I will standby them and defend them to anyone who calls me mad or says that I should give myself a break. I like this “new age parenting”! It suits us. 


Not even baby signing is silent

I can’t sing! I can’t even mime that well. Even when I am alone in my car or in the shower I only sing the bits that I definitely know, and considering my hearing is not all that, I don’t confidently know the words to many songs at all. This is why my favourite song is Chop Suey by System of a Down, because no one knows the words to that, so you can sing whatever you like. 
Singing is a non-optional hobby once you become a parent though. I swear Emily must think she is living in a musical because everything becomes a song. This began when I first took her to baby signing classes, run by Tiny Talk. I love this class! I feel like I’m learning a new skill as well as stimulating my daughter. Brilliant! Anyway, one of their rules is that ‘you never sign in silence’. I get it; it is sensible! We are after all teaching our children to communicate and speech is the best way of doing that. Cue half hour of singing!
The singing isn’t confined to Tiny Talk. At five weeks old, Emily and I were having difficulties with breastfeeding, so I went my local breastfeeding group. I received no help with breastfeeding, but it wasn’t a complete waste of time. I spent an hour sat on a mat, chatted to some other mums, had a bit of (free!) cake and did some more singing! It was here that I learnt that ‘Row, row, row your boat’ had more than the classic two verses. I mean where are we rowing to? This is less a stream than the Atlantic Ocean!
Swimming also has singing. There is literally a song for everything Emily does. The most shocking thing is that I sing to her all the time at home now too. She wiggles and “there’s a worm at the bottom of the garden and his name is wiggly woo”.  I eat my dinner and “this is the way I eat my dinner, eat my dinner, eat my dinner. ” I am now genuinely concerned that she is going to think that this is a normal way to communicate. Also I pity her that she has to listen to my horrendous singing all day. Someone create a baby group that does not rely on singing for the sake of poor Emily’s ears. 


Forget Nandos! Fancy a Cheeky Wipe?

Cheeky Wipes have taken over our household. If you don’t know what they are they are a brand of reusable wipes. When I told my mum about these she said ‘so they are basically little flannels?!’ And once again my mum was right. I looked into these because I was sick and tired of wiping Emily’s bottom with tiny bits of cotton wool.  My goodness, how stupid is using cotton wool? Firstly, you get through an entire bag cleaning up one average sized poo, then you spend the next day or two picking strands of the stuff off of her bum, legs, your fingers, your clothes, any surface the cotton wool happened to touch and then a couple of random places that you could have sworn it went nowhere near. 
Even worse than cotton wool are disposable wipes. Whoever designed these has clearly never had to use them. The only thing that they are good for is cleaning an already clean thing that happens to be perfectly smooth and about the size of a 50pence piece. If it is not, expect to smear whatever substance you trying to remove all over the thing you are trying to remove it from. Then repeat until you have gone through an entire pack of wipes. THEN when your bank statement comes in at the end of the month cry at how much money you’ve spent on the damned things. I am not a fan of disposables wipes. 
My hatred of these two products found me searching the Internet one evening for reusable wipes and eventually landed on the Cheeky Wipes site. After much reading through their ever so helpful FAQs and blog, I picked out the set for me. Even better was that I bought these during real nappy week and got a pretty sweet discount to help things along. Two days later I had a fresh wipes box filled with water, a couple of drops of their lavender and chamomile essential oil solution and a stack of wipes. I was instantly in love. 
Reusable wipes have many advantages. You only need one per poo. They actually remove poo. They go in the same place as cloth nappies so you don’t need a separate bin. They smell lovely. They save me money. No chemicals on little Emily’s bottom. They save the environment. 
Anyway I’m now Cheeky Wipes’ biggest fan. It started with a mini kit for Emily; this is a fresh wipes box, essential oils, fresh wipes out and about bag and a set of minky/bamboo ladybird wipes. I added to this a set of cotton terry wipes and a large double wet bag. Both invaluable! After being so impressed with these (and convincing Dan as well) I have now purchased a family cloth kit (reusable toilet roll), a set to use as kitchen roll and invested in a set of CSPs (cloth sanitary pads). They really have helped me along my reusable journey.   

The mini kit. Image from Cheeky Wipes.

Yesterday I emailed them to asked if I qualified for a promotion they are running, today they emailed back and told me I’m one of their best customers and have given me some money off my next order. So it continues.


What is gluten?

I saw this question appear on an advert for Google (why do Google need to advertise?!) the other day and apparently it is one of the most searched questions. I know the answer only too well. 
I have been a coeliac since 1st November 2013. This day was the day after I had returned from an all inclusive holiday in Tenerife (see the picture above) with my mum, dad and sister, Rachel. Upon landing, we had a KFC. That was my last ever KFC, and despite not being able to recall what I had, I can tell you with absolute certainty that I did not have enough! 
There are plenty of other foods that I will never have again too, such as Mr Kipling’s mini battenburgs or Krispy Kreme’s doughnuts. And I am also sure that there will be new foods created in the future that will have me dribbling in the supermarket or staring longingly at an advert on TV , whilst knowing that that is as close as I will get. Although I do sometimes go a step further and sniff foods; I like to live dangerously!
Despite all this whinging, I am fine with it. It turns out that us Coeliacs are not only a resourceful and creative bunch, but many have a delightfully entrepreneurial spirit. The variety and quality of the foods that are gluten free is impressive. I still eat cake, doughnuts, pizza, and pasta. I have pancakes and bacon sandwiches at the weekends. I eat out in local pubs, Nandos, Pizza Hut and the nearby Indian. It ain’t too shabby for Charlotte! Plus I certainly don’t look like I’m starving, unfortunately.
Anyway, the answer to the title question is…it is one of the many vital ingredients in KFC. The only food that I miss! Damn you, Colonel!


An introduction.

Two and bit months ago I became a mummy. I have a wonderful daughter called Emily, who regularly embarrasses me in front of my friends. She is so well behaved that I actually cringe at how delightfully charming she is being when someone else is battling to calm their child. I really cannot complain at all!
Now I decided to write this as I had two spare minutes whilst my husband, Dan, cradles Emily to sleep whilst watching GTAV videos on his phone. (Who says men can’t multitask, eh?) And bloody WordPress throws up its first challenge within seconds…what to call my site?! I am shockingly dull! I pride myself on being average. I have normal job, a typical family, a three-bedroomed semi detached house in suburban Norwich and everything is pretty easy for me.  The only thing even mildly unusual about me is that I am a coeliac, hence I live a life without gluten. I am a ‘free-from’ mummy!
Anyway, prior to this lifestyle change, I lived life like most people do. I went out, I ate, I drank and I consumed things like they were going out of fashion, with little or no consideration to my body, money or the environment.  Then I had a baby…