Baby and Toddler Show

I was really excited to learn that the Made for Mums Baby and Toddler Show was going to be in Glasgow in April. I hadn’t been to anything like that whilst I was pregnant (truth be told, I don’t think there were any shows like that when I was expecting) so I was keen to go along and see what was on offer and what new products or services Travis and I could try.

So when tickets became available for the event, which took place from 27th-29th April, I just had to snap some up. Craig and I decided to go together with the wee man and by ordering tickets early enough, we also got the option to purchase a Made for Mums goody bag for just £5.

Goody goody
I was certainly impressed with the goody bag, which contained items for mums, babies and toddlers. There were a couple of travel size tubs of Palmer’s cocoa stretch mark cream, which I used religiously posts-partum and would definitely recommend for expectant mums, or those who still have newborns. Toddlers will certainly get endless enjoyment from the magazines included, which contain stories, puzzles, stickers, colouring fun and of course some toys too.

Baby centric
What I will say is that the show is definitely far more focused on babies than toddlers, and even more so at newborns. The back half of the show was taken up by the bigger items such as prams, pushchairs, car seats, cribs, cotbeds and other nursery furniture which most parents will already have sorted for their little one if they are already here! Obviously there’s some usefulness from car seats and pushchairs or strollers in larger sizes for kids moving from their first pram or car seat to ones more inline with their height and weight.

With many of the other stands, particularly the clothing stands, a lot of time and effort was put into presenting beautiful clothes for newborn, 0-3 months and in quite a lot of cases, up to 6 months. After that there was limited stock or simply none available at the show – bear in mind I attended on the first day so it was likely there was even less older age stock as the weekend went on. I found that disappointing as although Travis is only 6 months, he wears 9-12 or 12-18 month clothes, so we didn’t manage to get him any cute new outfits.

However, I wouldn’t let that put anyone off the show, as most clothing retailers were pretty apologetic and offered lots of information about their product ranges, sizes available etc.

Highlights for us
I would say that for us the highlights were certainly more focused on activities rather than products. We missed some of the demonstrations, but there were taster sessions of baby sensory and toddler sense which I’m sure Travis would have loved. Unfortunately he had a swimming lesson so we couldn’t make the show till after lunch – it’s a hard life for a busy baby!

We did manage to speak to the organisers of baby sensory at their stand and found a range of information including classes in our area. Along the same vein, there were numerous stands for other baby and toddler activities like swimming lessons and other play and development.

Another great point for us was all the photography stands, which are great for expectant mums too. Quite a few offered services such as a cake smash and other birthday or milestone photography or celebrations. We even spoke to a celebrationist who conducts naming ceremonies and other special celebrations for kids which are non-religious.

There were plenty of stands offering products and advice on weaning and offering sample foodstuffs, but again, Travis has been eating for a couple of months now so we had most of that stuff sorted. Similarly there were stalls focused on different teethers, educational toys and so on, but we felt that we already had enough in the way of those sorts of items, so didn’t really give those stalls our full attention.

Mum time!
I have to say though, I definitely came out of the show with the best experience. At one stand I had my makeup done (and duly bought one of their wonder products – original beauty glow), and also managed to get myself a massage with a lovely company called massage sense who provide services for parents and babies.

There was definitely a great balance for both mums and babies, including large changing and feeding stations to accommodate so many babies and buggies. I’d say this event was definitely a “must attend” for expectant mums, but if you’re pretty organised with your baby or toddler, you might not get as much from it unless you’re attending for something specific like a new pram/stroller.

Top 5 free things to do on maternity leave

This list is post baby, not for any mat leave when impatiently waiting for baby to get here. I’ve been there, done that! If that’s what you’re after then maybe this post might help?

Everyone has different ideas about mat leave and how they would like to spend it with their children. However not everyone has a limitless budget to spend on things for baby to see, do and learn from every day so sometimes us mums have to get creative. Thankfully there are also some free resources out there that mums can enjoy with babies. Here are the top free things I’ve utilised whilst on mat leave.

Walking
If its nice (even if its not) then getting your baby out in the fresh air can be a great for both you and him/her. As my mat leave has fallen predominantly in a horrendous winter, there have been times where we literally couldn’t get a pram out in the street for snow/ice, and it really made a difference to our days. Walking gives mum’s gentle exercise whilst breaking up the day for you and baby. Plus babies love seeing and taking in everything going on around them, so a walk provides more stimulus for their senses. And to top it off, Travis loves sleeping in his pram so walks have also been a good, free, helper with sleep and naps.

Going to the park
As I said, my mat leave has been predominantly in winter so there haven’t been a great deal of times to enjoy the park so far, but we go there if we can. Great combined with point 1, the park is a great place to walk through, or to have a wee rest on a nice bench if you’ve overdone it on the walking or need to stop for a feed (for either you or baby, I’m not judging!). Plus, as your little one grows stronger, baby swings and slides become more appealing. A 10 minute play on the swings on an otherwise boring day can burn up energy for your little one, and give you a lot of joy as they giggle their little heads off going back and forth!

Soft play
Soft play is a great invention for kids of all ages, and in our area (and most places I’m assuming?) infants under 1 go free. Admittedly we’ve only started going since the wee fella turned 6 months old, but as long as your kiddo can sit up they will be able to get some enjoyment from it. He loves the ball pit, any mirrors and, after a few confused attempts, the baby slides.

Bookbug
We started going to a bookbug group at our local library in January (see our January firsts) and I couldn’t recommend it enough. As far as I know this seems to be a government initiative (in Scotland anyway) which encourages a love of reading from a young age. The group is for young babies and toddlers and combines nursery rhymes with stories and play to instil an interest in reading, but to break up activities enough so that children aren’t expected to sit still and pay attention for long periods of time. The only criticism is that bookbug runs during term times, which has meant no classes during Easter/Christmas/summer breaks in line with schools. Although it’s free, place a are limited, and you need to sign up through your local authority’s website or page for library services.

Baby massage/baby yoga
Again, I’m not sure if this is just a Scottish service, or even just specific to central Scotland. Our local authorities run a number of free mother and baby classes, again often taking place at the library or community centres. The main ones in our area are baby massage, baby yoga and breastfeeding support classes. I’ve never been to the latter but can definitely recommend both the former classes. Baby massage was great for the wee man’s colic, and we still use some massage techniques today to calm him before bed, help with colic or teething, or just to help promote development. Similarly, the baby yoga is great for their muscle and bone development, and helps you remember some of those old nursery rhymes if you’re a bit rusty!

So those are the great free things we’ve been getting up to on mat leave. I’m really interested to know if there are any other great cost-free activities we are missing, or if there are different local services in different areas. I’d love to get your thoughts!

The real reason mums post hundreds of baby photos

Before I had a baby myself, it used to annoy the life out of me that people, especially first time mums, would share pictures of their child on social media every blooming day. Not only that, there would be the mums that would share a whole album of photos of essentially the same 10 mins of the day from about 90 different angles (just take a video?) or the mums who were all about a selfie before, never to be seen again, instead replaced by this mini-me. But now I get it. And it’s not what you think.

I used to think these mums were filled with self-assurance that their child, was, in fact, the cutest baby there ever was. And don’t get me wrong, there’s definitely an element of “aww cute” about baby pics, especially if, like me, you like to dress your baby up in old man outfits. But actually, the heart-melting factor wears off after a couple of weeks when you remember other people have kids and you see their photos and, oh gosh, isn’t little Amelia/Max (insert on-trend baby name here) cute in that little outfit/doing whatever they are doing.

So no, it’s not an egotistical thing where we magically think we’ve co-created the perfect being. It’s for a few reasons. Firstly we want you to know we are still alive. You may not have heard much from us in the first few weeks after we announced the birth of said perfect being. That’s because no matter how many books we read or sites we researched or advice we took, absolutely nothing prepared us for actually having to take care of these tiny beings all day every day. It’s like when you go off the radar for the first day at a new job, except you can’t just clock out at 5pm and join the real world again. There’s been a lot of learning, going with the flow and general panic and disruption at every hour of the day, so we haven’t had the chance to brush our hair let alone get ready and pose for a selfie, never mind actually go anywhere or do anything like we used to in the good old days. But we did get our baby up and dressed, and they did a windy smile. That was the highlight of the day rather than a fancy meal at a nice restaurant or catching a new film/band, so you’ll just have to deal with it.

Secondly, many of us feel like absolute shit. Our bodies have been through more trauma than any non-childbearing person will know; we are fragile, trying to recover and simultaneously being flung into the most difficult role we’ve yet faced, with about 5 minutes sleep into the bargain. We currently consider it a good day if all parties in the house can manage to get washed, dressed and fed, so forgive us if we don’t feel like taking a selfie or doing anything other than take a quick snap of this beautiful little creature with wide eyes and perfect skin and long eyelashes and heart-melting smile. We’re not jealous, honest.

Not only do we feel like shit in the exhausted, outward-looking sense,
we’re mentally exhausted too. We are tired of looking in a mirror, not sure of what we see. We’re tired of being told about mums who walked out of the hospital in their size 8 jeans, or the mums who manage to get their kids into a routine and sleeping through the night by 6 weeks old. We’re tired of society telling us how we should behave as a parent, what we should or shouldn’t be doing with our lives and bodies now our child is here. And despite knowing that all this stuff doesn’t really matter, it still gets to us.

Whether it’s scrolling through our Facebook feeds to see some supermum taking perfect pictures from the perfect adventure with her 3 perfect kids in tow, or the Pinterest infograhics telling you how to lose the baby pouch, it all creates an overwhelming amount of pressure and guilt. It’s so hard not to compare ourselves with others in this situation, even though we know all pregnancies, births and babies are different. Us ladies get a rough time as it is from the media always telling us how to look, what to wear, how to behave, never mind when you throw a child into the mix. And despite our best efforts to rise above it, sometimes we just can’t.

Sometimes we feel really low and hate our bodies and the way they have changed, even if we have already been told a thousand times that pregnancy and childbirth will change your body, and that creating the miracle of life doesn’t always come without battle scars. Nevertheless, we still can’t quite come to grips with the fact that our body wont 100% go back to the way it was before, and, for impatient people like myself, it can turn into an internal battle between your head and body, when you still don’t fit into those pre-pregnancy clothes months down the line.

Sometimes we hate that we can’t even do our simple daily makeup like before, and hate it enough that we have to go to the shops for nappies with bags under our eyes and spots on our face, and don’t really feel like showing anyone that face, other than the cashier at ASDA – and that’s only because we absolutely have to. Everybody tells you about the changes to your boobs, belly, bum and thighs as a new mum, but nobody warns you about the massive changes to your skin and hair post-pregnancy. For me, my skin returned to that of a teenager, with eyebags you could carry a Primark spree in. Then, my hair started to fall out at an alarming rate (more on that here), so now there’s even more desire for me to actually do my hair and make up, despite having no time. This created more feelings of low self-esteem and self-worth (still comparing myself to supermum with her perfect eyebrows and coiffed updo), meaning I was reluctant to go anywhere and do anything unless necessary, in turn meaning less life updates, pics, witty things to Tweet etc.

Sure, this may not be the case for all new mums. Some might really believe that their kid is the cutest on the planet and that everyone else deserves to see at least 45 pictures of them a day. But for many of us it’s a mask, preventing people from seeing what we don’t want them to see. Our child (or children) represents the light in our life – smiling, bright-eyed, learning and doing something new every day, where sometimes we don’t feel good enough ourselves, we know that they are perfect to us and worth sharing. So please remember that the next time you see another new mum posting yet another album of her little treasure.

March Firsts

It’s been another surprising month of firsts for us, especially with things like Mother’s Day and Easter both falling pretty much in the same month this year! Here are the new things we did/discovered/experienced first in March:

First christening
Although he made an appearance at his best friends christening in December last year, Travis didn’t actually enter the chapel (it was nap/feed time and the echoes of screaming and tantrums were not what I had planned for the church). So his first time through a whole christening service was on 4th March through in Ayr. We braved the snow in Balloch (nearly bloody 2 feet I’ll have you know) to head about 45 miles away where there were no remnants of winter left at all. The only clue we were still in Scotland was the fact it rained constantly. I was pleasantly surprised at the wee man’s behaviour – barely a peep from him in the church, with the exception of the odd goo, and just being a general bright and nosy baby at the gathering afterwards. Even on the car journey there and back he was on best behaviour, sleeping or taking in the scenery (well as much of it as you can see in a rear facing car seat). My only concern was whether or not we’d have to take half the table decor with us as he seemed to be highly amused with the helium balloons floating from the table top.

First toothbrush!
We had a visit from an oral health worker on 5th March, whose purpose was to give advice about oral health in babies, and in particular, the child smile program in Scotland. Along with the advice, leaflets and coupons (more for weaning than anything else), we were given some toothbrushes and child friendly toothpaste to use. There were a couple of small toothbrushes, which are supposed to let your child get used to the idea of holding the brush, the sensation and so on, as well as a bigger brush to be used the minute a tooth pops through. We were advised to practice brushing, even just the sensation and motions without any toothpaste, pretty much right away, and even to register Travis with a dentist, despite not even having any teeth!

First trip to the aquarium
On 9th March, our usual Hartbeeps class was cancelled (you can read more about the wonder that is Hartbeeps here) so we decided to make the most of the day and do something different. After a nice wee stroll down to Loch Lomond shores in the crisp spring sunshine, we decided to go and see all the colourful fish and playful otters in the aquarium. I didn’t expect Travis to stay awake throughout the whole visit but he did! Mum and dad signed up for annual passes (under 2s get in free anyway) so we can make more trips in the future as he becomes more aware and interested in what’s going on. Plus we might actually time it right for him to catch an otter or shark feed one day!

First mothers day 11th March
Mother’s day is always around about my birthday, so I was delighted to learn that my birthday fell on a Wednesday this year, making it impossible to clash with Mother’s Day. I know there’s a whole bunch of logic about Easter and lunar calendars and whatever to determine the date, but I was chuffed to find out they would be separate celebrations for the wee man’s first year.
It wasn’t how I would have planned it (dad was working so mum didn’t get breakfast in bed, but I did get woken up with a big poo to clean up), but I got to spend it with my growing, happy, healthy baby and that’s all that matters. Plus, I got a card with the Rock on it, so how can that be bad?

Mummy first – first birthday as a mum
So this is supposed to be about the wee man’s firsts, but really there are some firsts that I’ve been experiencing too – like my first birthday as a mum. Slightly better all round than Mother’s Day as dad was off and let mum get some extra Zz’s, open presents in peace and even get a bath! All this after my usual clubbercise class and being spoiled by my parents with a steak dinner. I think Travis enjoyed the tissue paper the most out of the whole thing.

First tooth!
He had been threatening to cut one for a couple of weeks but we all know the teething process can be a long and laborious one, so I didn’t hold out much hope of finding one any time soon. Finally, though, at teatime on 23rd March, one little jaggy line was poking through. Had I not given him a dose of Anbesol I would have been none the wiser. But there was no mistaking that jag when my index finger entered his mouth. Usually he clamps down and his squishy gums put pressure on your fingers, but nothing more. This time there was a definite jag, so I tried to inspect the situation. Note ‘tried.’ Any mother will tell you that it’s an effort to investigate a baby’s mouth at the best of times, never mind when they are licking you like a Labrador because they think you’ve got the good stuff (Anbesol, really, it’s magic) on your fingers.

First soft play!
A new soft play centre opened up in March, within a few minutes walking distance from us. At first I was a bit unsure about it as Travis is still so young, but since kids under a year get in free, and all his friends were going, we thought there was nothing to lose. In typical Travis style, he fell asleep about 10 minutes before we went, and slept for a good hour in the soft play centre. When he woke up though, he had a wee play in the baby/toddler section, figuring out toys, looking at himself in the mirror and even having a shot of the slide (on mum’s lap of course).

First good Friday
So March didn’t quite see a first full Easter, with Good Friday falling on 30th March, but it was the first half of the Easter bank holiday weekend. We spent the day going to Hartbeeps and dressing up like a bunny (the ears lasted about 0.5 seconds at a time), coming home and being dressed like a bunny, and chilling out watching rubbish TV as there seemed to be no good bank holiday films on!

Of course April will see the end of first Easter shenanigans, but it will hopefully bring some other great firsts like swimming, as well as more teeth and trouble no doubt!

Springing into a new routine

As the saying goes, this is the time of year where the clocks spring forward an hour. Normally this fills me with joy and motivation for the sunnier (not guaranteed in Scotland) seasons to come. This year, however, with a 5 month old in tow, I was filled more with anxiety of the prospect of an hour’s lost sleep.

I say an hour like it’s just one flippant thing, but what I really mean to say is another hour. Sleep is the most valuable commodity as a new parent, and as the clocks changed this year, daddy was trading highest. He was on the night shift at work and actually managed to wing a shorter shift than usual. That was great for him, but it meant that mum had a gamble on what time the wee man would wake up, and would have to bumble by on an hour’s less sleep whilst dad thrashed out zzz’s after his jammy shift.

Everyone knows that daylight savings or British Summer Time is complete robbery (I’d say daylight robbery, but actually, well, you know..) and does most hard working folk out of an extra hour of rest at the weekend. To the average Joe that hour is sorely missed never mind for parents of tiny humans. There are all sorts of things to factor in, aside from that other hour of much-needed sleep missing.

Routine rejig

We have just about got a routine of sorts down, especially when it comes to morning classes and feeding times. Recently (about 3 days before the clocks changed) Travis started eating breakfast, lunch and dinner, and all at reasonable times (around 7am, 12 noon and 5pm) give or take a half an hour here and there. Those 3 days were golden till the clocks changed and then suddenly everything was an hour later.

Don’t get me wrong, at least 5 people have told me I’m mad for being annoyed that he’s lying in longer in the morning, which is probably fair dos. But really that isn’t the annoying part. The tricky bit is trying to rejig our morning routine so I can get 2 people washed, dressed, fed, watered and out the door before 9am a few days a week. It’s like going to work for 9am since you started your job, then someone deciding you need to be in for 8am instead. Let me tell you this Tuesday (and that was a 10am class!), Wednesday and Friday were challenging. I may have turned up in my PJs on at least one of those days if Craig wasn’t around.

Sleeping with the light on

The most important thing we’ve fought for Travis is to learn night from day. Whilst other attempts at routine may go out the window at times due to unforseen circumstances, baby tantrums, jobbiegeddon or worse, we’ve always made sure the little man knows night from day in a bid to get him to sleep better (and more importantly, to let mum and dad sleep better!). So you can imagine my horror at having to contend with daylight creeping into our lives earlier in the morning and later in the evening. Sure, a few blackout curtains might do the trick for the light situation, but you try telling 19,000 birds to shut up at 5am because your kid is sleeping and doesn’t yet know this is an unacceptable waking hour. They don’t listen. Or at least they pretend they don’t hear you over their chirpy little morning song.

Plus I’m sure there’s only so much that blackout curtains can do when it’s still 100% light at 10pm and all the weans are still out playing because it’s the summer holidays and their parents have had a boozy BBQ (and why not?) and the wee man wonders why they are allowed to be outside shouting and having fun and he’s not!

Teething troubles

The little guy’s first tooth came through recently (more about that in March firsts, coming soon!) and so understandably he’s been in a bit of pain. To remedy this, there are all sorts of teething pain relievers on the market, each coming with their own usage instructions regarding time, number of doses in 24 hours etc. Let me tell you that lost hour (and my lack of mental maths skills) caused havoc last week, trying to remember when he could get something and if that had been too soon, and if he got it at 5 o’clock, wouldn’t that really be 4 o’clock? It was a confusing time and I’m glad we’ve got there now, but I can only imagine it being 10 times worse for parents of prem or ill babies who need permanent regular medication and/or care.

But now, over a week later, I think we are just about recovering from the missing hour (probably jinxed it now) and are looking forward to springing into the new season and all the fun and sun it brings. You know, once it’s stopped snowing…

Baby friendly restaurants: Babs

The first time I took the little one to Glasgow it was to visit my workplace, and I packed up about half the house in the car to take with me. Nowadays, we seem to have nailed the organisation of the changing bag and feeds, so going to Glasgow for a shop or catch up with friends is becoming an easier and more regular occurrence.

That being said, there are still some considerations to be made, such as baby-friendly places to feed and change the wee one. For instance, having not being a frequenter of baby-change facilities until recently, I had no idea of what to look out for and/or expect. In most instances, baby-change is shoved into the disabled toilet, to maximise on space and possibly to avoid the presumption that only mums would be changing nappies. Some places offer this with a convenient route to the loos which can be navigated toward with a pram, others have thought the layout through a little less which can be a problem generally, not just in terms of nappy changing time!

So, I’ve decided to start making it my mission to take note of baby-friendly restaurants, coffee houses etc, mostly for my own reference as baby brain has rotted my short-term memory, but also in case others might find it useful. The first place I took notice of in Glasgow was Babs.

Babs is, as you can imagine, a kebab restaurant. Not to be confused with a kebab takeaway joint you’d find yourself slevering your order out at 2am, this place is fresh, quaint and focuses on more traditional Turkish and Greek kebabs. I was keen to give it a try, particularly for Gyros which I haven’t eaten since a holiday to Greece in about 2005.

Gyros-babs-glasgowAnyone into interior decor, or ambience of restaurants would be charmed by this place, with its painted tiles with blues and teracotta colour palettes, and choice Greek and Turkish style ornaments. But let’s be honest, that’s not why we were there. Even if the wee fella was obsessed with the intricate tile pattern on the wall. To cut an incredibly boring story short, the food was delicious. The chicken gyros was exactly as I hoped it would be – juicy chicken with crisp salad and refreshing tzaziki. I would definitely go back to this restaurant for food even without baby.

The staff couldn’t have been more accommodating when it came to finding us a suitable table and making sure we were ok. We ended up sitting right at the window (another plus for the wee man as he is the nosiest boy around), which is on ground level, as opposed to the booth areas which are all up a couple of steps. The changing facilities were also close to the entrance, and where we were sitting, so we didn’t have to go trekking with a pram or bumping into people with changing bags as I carried Travis to the loo. The waitresses were taken with the wee man, chatting away to him as he charmed them with smiles and flutters of those long eyelashes of his. They couldn’t do enough to help us, and happily helped when we needed a means of cooling down his bottle.

We visited Babs on a Thursday at lunchtime just as a walk-in, so I’m not sure if you’d need to book in advance for evenings or weekends. However I’d definitely recommend Babs as a nice lunch spot for those with little ones. It’s handy as it’s right in the city centre, not too far from any shops, and is conveniently placed between both Queen Street and Central stations so it’s not too far to trek with the pram.

 

Living a more conscious life – Lagom inspiration

I’m really into books that are all about creating the best lifestyle for you, and particularly loved the Little Book of Hygge I received as a Christmas present last year. The one book that really spoke to me though, was Lagom – the Swedish art of Balanced Living. Lagom is often referred to as the Swedish version of Hygge and is fast becoming the new lifestyle and cultural phenomenon us Brits are adopting.lagom-lifestyle-inspiration

As with the Danes and their Hygge, I related a lot to Lagom, as I think we Scots are not too dissimilar to our Scandinavian neighbours. A lot of what they promote, such as spending time in the great outdoors no matter the season, or offering to help out neighbours, are second nature here.

However as the title of the book suggests, Lagom is all about balance. For instance, you are encouraged to go out and explore the countryside, camp, climb, ski or whatever, so long as you don’t disturb or destroy anything. In essence, it’s all about taking a more conscious and balanced approach in all walks of life.

This is what really drew me into the book and the Lagom lifestyle as a whole. Now that I’m a parent, a whole lot of attitudes and priorities have changed for me. Any parent will tell you that they probably didn’t consider themselves selfish, until they had a child or children. Then you start to realise all the things you did or took for granted which either are no longer appropriate, or which you need or want to sacrifice for your little one(s).

For example, do I really need all those clothes? Or, more specifically, do I really need all those Saturday night clothes, when realistically I’ll get about one night out every couple of months, after a good few weeks of strenuous planning. Or do I really need like 8 pairs of black leggings when I only have one pair of legs?

Not only does Lagom preach about the importance of “just enough,” it helps keep your life organised, whether at home, work or at leisure. If I have just enough clothes for each occasion or eventuality, then I won’t need to buy unnecessary furniture, rooms won’t get clogged, and theoretically, I should always be able to find what I’m looking for. The same goes for paperwork, stationery, DVDs, books – heck, even pots and pans! If you don’t overdo it on the material possessions, you find that your home and your life suddenly become less cluttered.

As an organisational freak (to the point where every client at work has their own labelled folder and specific set of matching documents), I am very much a fan of anything which can keep my life in order (more so than it already is. Just ask Craig about the wee man’s wardrobe). So of course that side of Lagom appealed to me, but in doing this, or living a more practical life, you actually end up benefiting the environment. Think about it; if you’re not buying food you don’t need then you’re not wasting it, and if you’re not buying possessions you don’t need you are reducing your own carbon footprint. The Lagom life goes much deeper than this in terms of being an environmentally responsible person, but even by following just one or two of the practices (it feels weird calling it practices, like it’s some sort of set of cult commandments or something) you automatically start becoming more eco-friendly, and certainly more aware of the impact of your actions on the environment and wider world.

This then leads to more awareness in daily life. Now, when I’m doing things like picking new furniture, I don’t just go for the cheapest or most aesthetically pleasing item, I think about things like durability and longevity, and whether, in fact, it’s really necessary to replace the furniture item in the first place. Is it beyond repair, or could we just paint it/add a mirror/change handles etc to achieve the desired effect without wasting good furniture?

Upcycling and reusing things are part and parcel of the lifestyle, but so is a more conscious approach to even basic things like grocery shopping. Whether it’s changing your shopping habits to minimising food waste through better meal planning or ‘deal’ avoidance, or simply looking at products and choosing those with less packaging or which have travelled less miles before finding their way into your basket, we can all become a little more Lagom and help the planet at the same time.

It’s not all about being an eco-friendly warrior, though, as Lagom is also about balance and togetherness with friendships, family and work life. Their attitude to a work-life balance is something which massively appeals, specifically the Swedes attitude to childcare and spending time with your children as they grow up. Fun things like neighbourhood picnics/BBQs etc where everyone contributes something to the party are hugely appealing too.

Already I’ve found myself following many of the Lagom practices subconsciously, and with a little help and co-operation from friends and family, I’m looking forward to making life a little more Lagom each day.

Going for the Chop

So, I’ve been feeling a bit down lately because my body hasn’t been behaving quite the way I’d like it to. Part and parcel of having a baby, and one of the many joys of being a woman, is that our bodies can change on a whim. Between irregular periods (eww, gross, I said the p word!), knees that can take less impact than those of an obese 80 year old and both hair and skin that want to abandon the notion of any sort of regularity, I’ve been getting bloody fed up.
I know they aren’t the worst problems in the world but they have added more stress to my daily life than already exists with a 5 month old baby and builders constantly in and out of my house. One such stressor I decided to do something about was my hair.

February Firsts

We were very fortunate to have another month full of firsts in the life of our little boy. Not all necessarily milestones you’d mark with a photo card, these firsts meant something to us and hopefully made memories for our little munchkin.

First seat in high chair
So in January we tried weaning, with the wee fella enjoying his first tastes of a variety of foods. Unfortunately, as he was weaned earlier than recommended, he wasn’t quite strong enough to sit upright in a high chair for the amount of time it took to feed him. So, we had to wait until he was a bit bigger, and on the day he turned 4 months old (6th February) we put him in his Chicco high chair for his breakfast (banana porridge since you asked) and haven’t looked back since. The Chicco high chair we chose has three different reclining points so it means Travis doesn’t need to sit absolutely straight, and it has proved a great help in terms of limiting mess when feeding and also encouraging the wee man to sit up on his own. This particular version is also designed for travel, folding neatly and with a useful handle which makes carrying easier. It will be very handy if we make road trips which involve staying over or for at least most of the day.

First Valentine’s Day
Of course he didn’t have a clue what was going on, but that didn’t stop me celebrating Valentine’s Day with my little cherub. Any old excuse to dress him up, I bought a lovely heart outfit from PitPat and got a rose for him to give his first Valentine, his gran. Rather than just describe how cute it was, you can see for yourself via my Instagram post:

 

First road trips
This leads on nicely to Travis’ first road trips. As he was born at a time where the nights were beginning to get longer and darker, we didn’t really plan too many road trips in the first few months of his life. Lovely autumnal walks in the park during the day or trips to the supermarket were just about all he saw of the outside world in 2017. With the exception of one trip to Glasgow to visit my work colleagues, he hadn’t been much further than 5 miles from home at any given time. So after the threat of winter weather was over (at least we thought so at the time) with milder, brighter days, we ventured further afield. Firstly we headed to Ayrshire on 15th February to visit his future wife, aka the new baby daughter of one of my friends. Nervously mum sat in the back of the car while dad drove, just in case the wee man got upset or needed fed/entertained at any point. I struggled to make a bottle on the potholed streets of Prestwick, but naturally he was fine and slept until we got there. So you would be forgiven for thinking that we would have gotten braver by the time the Dunoon adventure rolled around on 23rd February, but the same rules applied. Although this time he was much nosier, taking in the lovely scenery of Argyll and Bute on the way home.

First birthday party 
Part of the same weekend as his Dunoon adventure, Travis got to go to his first, first birthday party. My best friend’s little boy turned 1 on 24th February, and was having a Mickey Mouse themed party to celebrate. Of course I went and got the biggest Mickey balloon I could find, and a Mickey Mouse dress-up outfit for my little man to party in style. And of course the hat didn’t fit. Curse his huge head! He definitely enjoyed the party more than I thought he would for someone so young, though that might have something to do with the napping and the feeding mid-party. It’s worth noting that he’s been to a 2nd birthday party already, and went to a birthday dinner for an adult, but this time he was awake for long enough to at least smile at half the guests! It probably helped that it was a lovely day, and that Travis dotes on the birthday boy, but he was so well behaved that I’m now looking forward to his next party invite and him being awake for longer to take it all in.

First night out!
Hardly a big party or anything, but as we’d made a sort of unspoken rule that we wouldn’t take or keep Travis out past 7pm, this was a big step and exciting moment for us. The Botanic Gardens in Glasgow hosted a weekend of mystical magic at the end of the month, promising light displays, sounds and stories, not to mention plants too. Seeing as trees and lights are pretty much Travis favourite things after food, it was a no brainer to take him there. Along with his best pal, we took a trip up for the 6pm walk on Sunday 25th February. It was a fantastic end to a busy weekend for us, although it was blooming freezing! I would say that the wee ones were a bit agitated when the tales of the history of the Botanic Gardens were being told, probably because they don’t really understand ghost stories or tales of Brownies and things yet. Boy did they love the lights though. And the fire dancers. Travis was particularly amused by a lit up skeleton-come-scarecrow which already makes me terrified of what sort of stuff he’ll be into when he gets older.

First snow-in
Of course we weren’t over the winter by the end of February, this is Scotland we’re talking about! So, as the dreaded Beast from the East rolled in on 28th February, we were all a bit miffed but not surprised at this turn of weather so close to spring. However, nobody could have predicted just how much snow we would be left with – a whopping 49cm where we live (the largest snowfall from the storm in the whole of the UK, in case you were wondering). Naturally, as the wee man is only currently 20cm bigger than the height of the snow – also, comfortingly measured in Irn Bru cans here – we ended up pretty snowed in. I can’t remember snow so persistent in my lifetime, never mind the little fellas, but I’ll certainly remember how demented we became as we were stuck in the house for about 4 days. In fact, today is the first day we’ve actually been able to get a pram out (now 6 days post-initial snowfall), and even then it has been a struggle on some streets which have yet to be properly cleared or gritted. Thank goodness for air tyres!

Book review: The Missing Girl by Jenny Quintana

I don’t think I’ve written a book review since I was at high school, and even then it was reluctantly written as part of my higher coursework. I absolutely used to love reading when I was younger, and loved nothing better than a book that got under your skin or into your heart. However I didn’t always feel like I could put into words the amount of enjoyment from any given book.

the-missing-girl-novelI’m giving it a go now, as a book hasn’t gripped me as much as Jenny Quintana’s The Missing Girl in a long, long time. Part of that might have something to do with the fact that I’ve not read at this rate in a long time either, but I digress!

The debut novel by Quintana is a mystery, unfolded by Anna Flores, sister of a missing girl. The basic premise is – without giving away any spoilers – that a pre-teen Anna dotes on her older sister Gabriella. She seems well liked in her local village, and is the most beautiful girl ever, according to her younger sister. As the title suggests, one day Gabriella goes missing, simply disappearing without a trace.

30 years later, the girls’ mother passes away, and Anna makes a return to her hometown to bury her mother and hopefully dig up some clues and solve the mystery as to what happened to her sister back in 1982. After a lot of suspicion, possibilities and theories, the mystery is finally solved at the very end.

There are quite a few things I love about this book, both in terms of the actual plot of the story and the way it was written. Quintana opted for a split chronological narrative, with chapters alternating between 1982 and 2012. This adds to the tension as you know that at some point 1982 Gabriella is going to go missing, but you don’t know the how’s and the why’s. Similarly it helps build up a better character picture, as you almost feel like you’re reliving the memories with Anna.

The other thing that I really enjoyed was how the story was completely told from the viewpoint of Anna Flores. This meant Quintana hopped between the thoughts, feelings and understandings of the situation as both an adult and a 12 year old girl. She captures the essence of a pre-pubescent girl perfectly, giving an insight as to how a young girl in the 80s perceives everything from relationships between family and friends to understanding arguments and reasoning.

Considering I’ve not been much of a reader in the past decade (I blame uni textbooks, they were enough to put anyone off), I genuinely couldn’t put this novel down. I devoured it in just 2 weeks, which when you consider I also have a demanding 4 month old baby, is some testament to the author. Completely gripping to the last page, I’d highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a book that keeps you on your toes and guessing every possible theory.

I read the book via Kindle, as it was on a special offer at the time, but the book is also available in paperback, audiobook and hardback. For more about Jenny Quintana, you can find her on Twitter.