- July 6th, 8:32
Staying at home with Florence and Jimmy means I get to watch my babies grow and I don’t miss a thing. We dance, we sing, we get crafty, we cook, we talk, we do lots of things… I am nurturing and educating two of our adults of the future and what better person is there to do that than their Mummy? I would feel so jealous if I had to hand them over to someone else for another to get to shape their minds and enjoy their company every day while I slogged it off to central London to do something I would find dull as ditch water. I know some people have no choice, money is a necessity and if you have to work you have to work. I am very lucky that as well as my husband making it possible, my Mum and my in laws very generously contribute to our household which helps enable me to be the all important stay at home Mum. I have to say, on the sort of wages I was on before, we would break even at best were I to go back to work – in which case, what’s the point? We wouldn’t be any better off so instead of giving money to a stranger to look after my beautiful children, why not do this wonderful job myself! I also have friends who are very ambitious in their careers, taking a break for too long could be detrimental to them but for me… it works! When the odd acting job does come up I get to go for it now I’m not tied to an office and if I get it then the children come with, even doing a bit of acting themselves sometimes!
My Mum stayed at home with me until I was seven and then because of my parent’s separation she kind of had no choice but to return to teaching. I think we both lost out through that and although I don’t blame her, I know it wasn’t her choice, I am sad that she had to do it, as is she! I just hope we will still be in the fortunate position we are in now when my children are a bit older because I really feel they will benefit from having me at home. I guess some people think it’s a bit lazy doing what I do? Perhaps they think we stay at home Mums sit on the sofa all day watching day time television but for me the reality is very different from that perception. I take my children out to play groups, we have an activity every single day and not only do we all enjoy it but I feel totally satisfied that I am playing an important role; we are all happy in my household and that’s what life is all about isn’t it?! I actually think I’m pretty good at being a stay at home Mum!
There are some aspects of my job description that I’m not overly wonderful at but I’m hoping they’ll come with time! I don’t have lovely fluffy towels, in fact very often they come out of the washing machine and dry as hard as card board, I don’t sew buttons back on (I don’t even have a sewing kit) and very often the food I make is particularly dubious when it comes to being edible (I once made a cake that could have been used as a weapon)? My Mum was far better at all the hosewifely duties than me, her washing never shrank or turned a funny colour and she always made really good food! My clothes were ironed perfectly when I was little whereas my technique for getting creases out is to run the hair straighteners around the bottom of the garment but only if it’s really badly creased (my Mum despairs)! I want to get better at the housewifely duties, Jonny jokes that he’s going to send me on a wifery course, so I think he hopes I will too but I’m not worried about that really. If they go to school with creased shirts who really cares? (We’ll just have to get my Mum over, sorry Mum, to work her magic instead! The only thing I am worried about is that I don’t know the answer to everything? My Mum always knows the answer to all my questions, even now… I cope with toddler questions like ‘Mummy, what’s Monday for?’ (like I said, I’m quite creative) but what about when they start asking me important academic ones? Eeeek, guess I’ll have to just ring my Mum (The woman seriously knows all and can do everything from paint stripping, wall paper hanging and changing a fuse to intricate cake decoration, floristry and clothes making) and pretend it’s me coming up with the answers! See, a child always needs their Mummy!
I have this picture framed in my living room; it’s me, my Mum (teacher and stay at home Mum) and Grandma (Nurse and stay at home Mum) when I was a baby.
And this is me and my Mum in the same park with Florence around 30 years later…
Donkey Does the East and Museum of Childhood!
A little while ago we took Le Donk out East to the wonderful Museum of Childhood. We thought he’d like it there as not only do they have all the toys from decades in the past but they also have a big display of buggies and prams which were used in the past. We thought he’d like to see how far he’s come in terms of child transportation and he and we had a fabby time at the museum. We went on a lovely walk through East London taking him through funky Shoreditch where were he a big boy he would probably like to go out partying, down Brick Lane where we introduced him to Bagels and into Bethnal Green where the museum is located. As always his wheels were perfect for walking round central London. (I’ve yet to find a terrain he isn’t compatible with to be honest) and we all enjoyed a sunshine stroll whilst taking in the sights… He got lots of admiring glances! Well, it’s not often you see a donkey in the middle of East London, breathing or in buggy form, and again we got asked lots of questions, sometimes I feel like I’m being interviewed so these are some of the most common questions I’m asked and the answers I give:
Where did you get that fabulous looking buggy and who makes it? Well he’s made by Bugaboo and please shh, don’t call him a buggy, he’s so much more than that, he’s a member of our team! And you can buy one in John Lewis amongst many other retailers.
Nice double buggy, looks slimmer than most though does that make a difference for the children, do they have enough room? Absolutely, the only difference is that we can fit through doorways and on public transport with this one but take a look, do my children look like they haven’t got enough room? I reckon I could fit two of Jimmy in the bassinet and Florence has ample room to grow in her seat!
I do like your buggy but I guess it’s a bit of an expense when the older one will be off to nursery when she turns three, you’ll have to get another one then won’t you? No, not at all! In fact Le Donk turns into the most stupendous single buggy you’ll ever see and comes with a side shopping basket which not only accommodates loads of shopping but has handles meaning you can just pop it off and carry the shopping straight to your kitchen still in the basket! I love the Donkey as a single!
Where will you put the bassinet when the little one needs a seat, will it not take up a big space in your house? Actually the bassinet folds down completely flat and then you turn the frame into a big boy seat! The bassinet when flat would fit in a drawer until needed next time so no problems there either!
Being such a light colour do you find that it gets grubby looking? Funny you should ask that because I wondered the exact same thing but he doesn’t seem to pick up much grime and this comes from a family living in London! When little marks do get on the hood or tailored fabric (which incidentally comes in a whole range of colours from light to dark) I find it easily wipes away with a wet wipe and of course, they can all go in the washing machine so if ever it was really bad there’s always that option! I’ve washed the hood on my Bugaboo Bee (made of same fabric) many times and it always comes out looking as good as new!
I’ll bet he’s expensive, is he worth the money would you say? Oh gosh yes, he’s worth every single penny! I know so many people who haven’t bought the right buggy to begin with, opting for cheaper alternatives but at the end of the day, the majority of them have upgraded their buggy at some point (often to a Bugaboo wishing they’d just done that in the beginning) meaning they’ve ended up spending the same as a Bugaboo and very often, adding up the cost of both buggies, much more! My line is ‘Once you go Bugaboo, you don’t go back’!
The buggy is very impressive looking, stylish, fashionable and glamorous but does it actually perform well? He, please, he is a he and yes! As I’ve said before, I couldn’t be more impressed with how he performs; I can honestly say that if you buy a Donkey you won’t regret it! You can spin this buggy on a dime with one finger; I doubt there’s another double on the market that can claim the same boast!
Even though the buggy is smaller than other doubles, he’s still fairly big, he must conflict with London living, no? I can answer that question in a heartbeat! NO! He doesn’t conflict with London living at all! This buggy folds up seriously small so living in a flat, even a first floor flat like ours and he is no problem! Our 3 door Corsa is only a tiny bit more full with him in the boot than with our Bugaboo Bee and that’s only because of the extra bassinet which, folds flat if you like or can stay up and go behind the front seats (children don’t need leg room) with other things packed inside him if necessary! This buggy is seriously for everyone!
And the most frequent comment of all from both people with children and without is ‘Oooh, I’m very jealous, what a lovely buggy!’ How lovely is that! (They also have a peek at the gorgeous babies he looks after in his seats as well!)
Shopping at Boxpark, tiny little funky shops where the Shoreditch Arches used to be. Boxpark is a pop up mall which is here for only five years before it moves on! Each shop is a stripped and refitted shipping container, so they’re all tiny! Did Le Donk fit in them? Course he did!
Over ground travel is super easy with Donkey and here we are at Shoreditch High Street! The very heart of party land in London as far as I’m concerned!
Ever been down the famous Brick Lane? Donkey has!
East London is the epitome of ‘cool’ and here we are in the heart of the E postcode area while one set of hot wheels eyes up another!
The wonderful building that houses the Museum of Childhood!
The Museum of Childhood was great fun as always!
But the dance game was the highlight of the day and we couldn’t leave Jimmy and Donkey out so they had a go too!
When I gave birth to Florence I got a ‘push present’ of a really gorgeous jumper but it seems Jonny forgot this time… Guess that’s what happens when you’re on number two… I therefore decided I needed to treat myself to my own ‘push present’ and with pushing in mind (I push such a gorgeous buggy these days don’t I) I knew that the thing I most wanted was a bit of buggy candy in the form of a new bag! Not just a new changing bag (I have lots of bags as I’m a bit of a bag lover) but an exceptional changing bag like no other! One which looks amazing, not necessarily like a ‘baby bag’ but more like a ‘me bag’ and one which still delivers in all the areas you absolutely need it to when it comes to travelling with children! I wanted something glam, a bag to be noticed and which provided a function… Didn’t want much did I?
I thought it might be a tad impossible to tick all the boxes, this was my criteria:
A bag with short straps to carry by hand and clip onto my carabiner clip on my buggy handle but which also had a detachable long handle for shoulder carrying.
Something which was ethical and suitable for vegetarians but which looks every bit as good as leather (not something you can find easily).
It had to come with accessories like a changing mat and separate nappy bag but also had to still have enough room for spare clothes for both children, food, my camera, make up and spaces for Florence’s drink as well as a bottle for Jimmy.
I also really wanted it to look like a normal bag, not just any old normal bag but a great normal bag! One I would have bought pre babies!
Usually it is quite impossible to find exactly what you want but when I saw the Vanchi range I was blown away because according to their website it seemed I had struck gold and could tick, tick, tick, tick…
The collection is new to the UK having been initially devised and sold in Australia by Mum, Sarah Van Bentum in 2005; I am actually one of the first people to have one of these bags over here – lucky old me as I always like to have something that little bit special and different! They have a massive celebrity following too, Cate Blanchett and Miranda Kerr have been seen with one recently so if it’s good enough for Hollywood… I’m definitely in good company! When you see the collection for the first time it strikes how unusual the bags are because they really do look like very expensive lovely handbags and not something which holds nappies, bottles and wet wipes! It’s hard to choose which one I like best and I love the fact lots of them have ‘rock’ names (we are Rocknrollers after all), there’s The Zeppelin Carrier, Ziggy Tote and Fleetwood CarryAll but I went for the Hendrix Wedge, I love it and what with having my baby Jimmy it seems appropriate don’t you think?! I could quite literally carry any of them but I love the HW as it’s so brightly coloured, is exactly what I’d choose when choosing a handbag and it looks and feels so incredibly like leather it took me ages to believe it wasn’t! I’m not a vegetarian I just thought it would be good for once to have a great bag that wasn’t actually leather therefore would appeal to vegetarians but I didn’t really want to compromise on the look and quality – and I haven’t had to!
My gorgeous Hendrix Wedge bag in Strawberry Fields.
So, my new Vanchi bag looks the part and it has everything I desired from space, strap length and accessories but did I have to pay over the odds for it? Well, no, not really! Admittedly it’s a fairly pricey bag but then what bag isn’t these days? I’ve looked at practically every changing bag on the market and they all come with a hefty price tag. This one is £99.95 which to be honest it about what most gorgeous hand bags cost these days, an average changing bag may be slightly cheaper but not much. With this bag being both a delicious hand bag and a nappy bag to boot I think it’s quite a good price really! It’s the sort of bag that could be used every day but also saved for best because it does have a special look about it. People ask where it’s from and compliment me on it all the time, that’s not something I’ve ever had before with a nappy bag, not sure about anyone else?
My favourite features are:
The separate pocket running through the centre of the bag especially for nappies and changing materials! Often the separate bags within changing bags are small and not only useless but they get lost in the bag when they need to be easy to find! This one is the same length as the inside of the big bag and it stays in place with poppers which can easily be un-popped to lift the nappy section free when needed! What a superb idea and my favourite aspect of the bag!
The fact that it has bottle carriers at either end and on the outside. Love this, never have to ‘search for juice’ again as the pockets are just on the outside and it’s easy to whisk the drink out. Love that when not in use they have studs which can be buttoned back up giving the bag a really unusual look!
All the extra little pockets and bags I’d never have thought I needed but actually do! There’s an insulated bottle bag, separate pocket bag for a dummy, wet bag, many inside pockets as well as a zipped outside pocket! A compartment for every need and not to mention the changing mat in the same matching material to some of the other little bags which fit inside!
The lining material is waterproof. One word – hallelujah!
The bag looks amazing! They call it NU leather, well it might as well be leather, this man made material looks so authentic! I love all the details, studs, straps and the cute dummy charm which comes on all Vanchi bags!
Yep, I love my bag alright!
And here it is again serving as the perfect piece of buggy candy! Whilst also doing a brilliant job – LOVE IT!
For more information on the fabulous Vanchi bags full range please see their website www.vanchi.co.uk where you can also purchase exclusively!
We absolutely love to review products in the rocknrollerbaby household but how did we get started? Well, the first time I reviewed anything was through a company called Bizziebaby (www.bizziebaby.co.uk). You pay a joining fee of just £5 and then they guarantee to send you products which will exceed this value throughout the year. You also get an exclusive 15% discount in their shop just by being a member. Even if you don’t fancy being a tester yourself Bizziebaby is the absolute must place to visit before buying anything baby related just to see what other people have said about it? It’s a forum which gives you honest opinions by real parents commenting on practically all products in the market place today and what’s more they hold competitions! I’m a firm believer that you have to be in it to win it so I enter competitions all the time and guess what? I win! If you enter competitions you’re eventually going to win one, or several if you’re like me and enter lots! Bizziebaby competitions are run through their facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/bizziebaby/139177302766237) and Twitter (@BizzieBabyUK) pages and they run them every couple of weeks so it’s definitely worth taking a look, a like and a follow! You’ll also get some pretty great info from them too and some fabulous tweets!
Countdown to Lollibob!
6 weeks to go!
Can’t believe it, not long to go now! I’m so super excited about this year’s festival I can barely contain myself! The same weekend I’m going to V Festival on the Sunday but I actually think I’m slightly more excited about spending the day with Jimmy and Florence at Lollibop on the Friday! Is that really sad of me? Have I got old? Hell NO! Lollibop IS awesome and with only 6 weeks to go there’s not much time to ensure you get you and yours some tickets! Florence is going to love, love, love it this year and Jimmy is also going to have a brilliant time! Last year we were there from the minute the gates opened and we didn’t leave until the last act had played on the main stage! Was it a long day? Well, I suppose in theory it was and we were all very tired but it flew by in an instant and I just know it’s going to be even more fabulous this year, especially as Florence is one year older!
For more information and how to book tickets please see www.lollibopfestival.co.uk.
MY LIFE WITH 2! WEEK 9!
We went up to Norwich last weekend to see our family, it’s been a while since we last went and it was great to catch up with them, especially as Jonny’s parents will be off to their house in the south of France in a couple of weeks; otherwise we would have missed them and it would have been ages before they got to see the children! When babies are little and changing so much it’s important that they get their Grandparents to see them before they move onto the next stage! Jimmy has changed so much since the last time we saw them already! He’s smiling all the time and has the most wonderfully gorgeous conversations with us now! He’s also super strong and I’m sure he’ll be rolling over very soon, he’s already half way there! I’m beginning to wonder what we’ll do sleep wise once he can do that because the moses basket will be out of the question but I’m not ready for him to be in his own room yet… Any ideas?
We’ve also been having a lovely time going to all the media Christmas showcases and strangely it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas to us because we’ve eaten so many chocolate coins and listened to so many festive songs we could just about be ready to sit round the table and pull crackers with the family! There’s some great stuff coming up for this year’s festive season and even though it’s only July I’m quite excited about writing my Christmas posts now – don’t worry I’ll wait for a more appropriate month! We didn’t have anything Christmassy yesterday though as Jimmy had his first modelling job for Infacol and we went off in a car to go see Infacol’s expert midwife Nikki Khan and do some filming with her for some helpful vt’s which Jimmy is the star of! How exciting!
Florence having a cheeky snack on my Mum’s breakfast room sofa! She gets away with everything at Grams!
Jimmy smiling and excited to be a model for the day!
Beginning to see the similarities between my babies! Jimmy now and Florence when she was a similar age!
Now I’m just gearing up for my birthday which is on Monday and looking forward to all the lovely things we’ll be doing this weekend. We’re going for dinner at the Tate Level 7 restaurant on Saturday night and my Mum is coming down to babysit. This is all a real novelty for me because I literally couldn’t leave Florence with anyone for any length of time, her not ever taking a bottle made it impossible. Last year Jonny and I went out for a big night out on my birthday and I remember saying just before I gave birth to Jimmy that it was going to be a very different affair this year! I just imagined I’d be having another baby tied to the boob and although I of course wouldn’t have minded, it’s very lovely and a treat to still be able to go out. I’m even getting a day ticket to the V festival for my birthday because I feel that confident that I can go and leave him even though he’ll only be fifteen weeks old! Before Florence was born I’d bought Razorlight tickets for the end of the summer when she was 7 months old and it was really touch and go as to whether I would go or not? I did but it was a terrible worry! On both my wedding days (my civil ceremony and our big white wedding in Portugal) it was impossible to let someone else look after Florence as she was so clingy. I even walked down the aisle holding her after the registrar had said it wasn’t really the ‘done thing’. Minutes after he’d said that he came back out of the room with my Dad and Florence and said ‘Actually, I think perhaps you should hold her’! It’s just so different this time! I definitely wouldn’t go out all the time or anything, only for really important things, the festival is to celebrate with my best friend for her hen do, but isn’t it great that Jimmy is such a good baby and I can! Sometimes it’s nice to be me as well as being a Mummy and a whole day of not having to wipe anyone’s nose is certainly to be looked forward to!
A rare moment without Florence for a photograph with my Dad and brothers on my civil wedding day!
I’m excited about V and am going to release my inner hippy for the day! I love this head dress I’ve bought for the day!
Talking about expressing breast milk my ‘Newborn Must Have of the Week’ has got to be to do with expressing milk! I express every single day meaning Jonny gets to do a couple of feeds late evening and in the night and I get to share the being awake in the twilight hours. It is also, of course, assisting me with going out for my birthday and going to the festival later on in the summer!
These past few weeks I’ve been using the Mam manual breast pump (£30.00 and comes with 2 x bottles of different sizes) and it has been an absolute god send! It’s so easy to express milk with, in fact I’m getting about 3 feeds worth every single morning without even much effort at all! The pump I had when Florence was a baby (I expressed and tried her with a bottle all the time to no avail) was nowhere near as easy to use as this one, had loads of faffy little bits and pieces to it and was a devil to put together. The Mam pump is super easy to put together and only has four parts to the actual pump which then screws onto the top of the bottles which are specially designed to be anti-colic.
There is a dial on the side of the pump which can be adjusted for level of suction and for me I have found that the easiest it to have it all the way to the right and then just one squeeze of the pump delivers a long flow of milk. The information booklet says the vacuum is held for 3 seconds when in this position but actually I have found that it can last quite a bit longer than that. I started off just pumping normally on the lowest strength suction which works but the time is less than halved when the suction is upped to the maximum!
The Mam pump.
The Mam bottles (£5.25 for a 160ml bottle) which are compatible with the manual pump are also very impressive, they screw directly onto the pump to be expressed directly into and as I mentioned before, are designed to minimise colic. They are made with a vented base which regulates the pressure ensuring no air bubbles so that the babies don’t swallow air when feeding; this is not only great for anti-colic but also means it’s more like breast feeding. I particularly like the small teats. I didn’t intend on bottle feeding with expressed milk as early as I did but having expressed on day two because of engorgement, Jonny just gave Jimmy the bottle when I was sleeping and I feel it has done him no harm at all and this is largely due to the teat shape. When Florence was a baby the teats on the bottles I initially tried were very big and I fear this may have put her off. The Mam teats are made with what they call silk teat and claim to be softer than any other silicone. What’s especially different and handy about these bottle is that they are self sterilising! Yep, you heard me right! No need to put them in the steriliser as they just come apart, 20ml of water (which is measured out in the bottle lid) is poured into the base which unscrews. You then assemble as shown in the pictures below and pop in the microwave for three minutes! This is an incredibly handy feature as sometimes there’s no room in the steriliser and often I only need just the one bottle although more than one bottle can be done at a time in the microwave too!
The Mam anti-colic bottles.
An anti-colic bottle taken apart.
Assembling and preparing for the microwave to sterilise.
The other really fantastic thing about using the Mam manual breast pump is that Mam have made it incredibly easy to store your breast milk in the freezer with as little fuss as possible. You can buy a pack of five storage pots (£8.99) with screw on lids which can be reused, sterilised and popped in the freezer with milk in for a later date. They simply screw onto the bottom of the anti-colic bottles (with the bases removed) and you can pump directly into them! Often I find it hard to get milk into storage bags which are expensive and non reusable, this provides an easier to use and far more environmentally friendly alternative! You can even write the date on the side of the pot and then wash it off as there is an area specifically designed for this purpose! I absolutely love these posts which recommend filling up to 120ml before freezing or just keeping in the fridge for later.
A storage pot attached directly to the pump ready for use.
And some pots ready for use and the freezer.
What did I love most about the system? Well, its ease of use all round is a sure fire winner for me! The fact that there’s not lots of parts and none of them are fiddly is a brilliant plus point and the self sterilisation aspect of the bottles is fantastic! I also LOVE the fact the storage pots screw straight onto the bottom of the bottles and can be pumped directly into! It’s also worth mentioning that the first Mam pump I tried had a flaw in the plastic and Mam replaced it immediately sending me a new one in the post while I sent them back the faulty one for them to investigate! Pretty good service!
What wasn’t so great then? Well only two things really and both of them pretty minor. The handle of the pump has a piece of metal underneath it assisting the pump, after a few washes this did make it a tiny bit squeaky but I don’t mind that really! The other thing is that you do have to be quite precise when putting the bottle back together or they can easily leak. However, the fact they are self sterilising because they come apart far outweighs both small negatives!
For more information on the pump, the bottle, storage pots and all other Mam products please see the website www.mamuk.com. (incidentally we think the 0-2 month dummies (£4.75) are just amazing, they’re super small and perfect for a new born who might get nipple confusion)!
Jimmy with a 0-2 month Mam dummy, his and our favourites because how tiny the teat is!
Well that’s it from a 32 year old me, next time I write I’ll be a whole year older – hmmmmm, not sure I like that particular aspect to a birthday – and I will have all the exciting things we’ve done to celebrate to tell you about, like going to see ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’ at the theatre (or ‘The Lion Who Came to Town’ as Florence insists on calling it)?! Until then, then!
In the meantime follow me on Twitter @rocknrollerbaby
(All opinions and words, apart from those in green, are my own. I have not been paid for this article although I did receive some products to keep after I had reviewed them.)