Apple or Blackberry – I’d Take Apple Anyday

I’m talking smart phones, if you hadn’t already guessed. I am not a gadget freak or phone freak for that matter, but I’m totally lovin my new iPhone….prrrr! Given a choice between the Blackberry or Apple’s iphone, for me the Apple wins by a long way. In fact I’ve road tested both recently and there is not so much more you can do with an iPhone and it soo easy to use.

Apps
If I was talking to my mum, she’d be saying “what are slaps” … “no, I said apps mum, a p p s” – the hearings a bit on the weak side you see. Anyway apps, what are they? Well they are short for applications.

These apps are little thingies that include easy links to certain websites for checking out the weather, ebay, amazon etc. Then there are also apps to help you with your every day life, particularly helpful for the working multi tasking mum – like a spirit level (we’ll you can’t rely on the man about the house to put that shelf up can you?). And a thermometer – do I need to dig out my cardigan for today?

Plus the TV guide, not that I really get the time to watch much tv, but it allows me to at least be able to know when to set the odd program for record without having to fight for the remote control to view the digital guide on the TV itself. Plus games, cute stuff, work productivity stuff like currency converter and finally a special app for accessing my bloggy wog wog 🙂

So I thought I’d give you the low down on my favorite FREE apps, I’ll not bore you will all of them, just the highlights:

  • Daily Puppy – argh babe just loves this, shake the phone and you get a new puppy picture that barks back

  • Met Office – have to support the local workforce, and of course need access to real time weather updates, particularly when out camping
  • Right Move – to save all my property searches, house hunting is back on the to do list
  • Facebook – for checking out what all my friends are doing, because I don’t get chance to interact properly in person much
  • Thermometer – sounds sad, but I just love to know what the temperate is, don’t you? Scarf needed – yes/no? What about those thermal undies?
  • Bump – havn’t used this but it sounds cool, you can simple bump your iphone with another iphone and get the persons details. Now there’s time-saving for you!

  • Angry Birds – game that involves catapulting a bird into targets to win points. Not sure I should let babe see me playing this, she’s into copying actions a lot at the moment.

As for paid for apps, I’m too much of a cheap scape to bother with those!

What about you, have I missed any of your favorite apps? Why not comment?

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Snail eating toddler and 20 month swearer – not mine I hasten to add

I was catching up with friends Jane and Tanya last week who both have daughters about the same age as babe, and an important part of the agenda when we meet up (which isn’t very often because we all work and are juggling 101 things at once) is to swap funny stories about the latest things that our little princesses have been up to. Hmm princesses I’m not so sure….read on. 

We got onto the topic of food, which came about because babe was still eating her late breakfast of a tub full of plain dry Shreddies which she loves – can’t see how, without milk they are so gross. After sharing Shreddies stories and exclaiming what a mess crushed Shreddies make on the carpet. We started talking about the dreadful things our babes have started to eat. The best was from Jane, her delightful princess was caught eating a whole snail one day, only when they heard the crunching and the little mouth craned open, did mum realize what nasty her daughter had tried to eat. Ew yuck, babe has not advanced to eating garden grubs yet, but no doubt that will come soon. 

Blueberry dipped in houmous...she will eat anything with houmous!

Then we got talking about talking. This is a dangerous one for us, as we are all chatterboxed extroverts. In fact we we’re talking about our babe’s start of vocab and Tanya’s little treasure is definitely the head of the game on this one. Apparently when dropping something on the floor the other day, mum and day heard her say “oh shi” t…. “nah she said no shoe” said Tanya to her other half. But sure enough she says, she really does think she was swearing. So in Tanya’s house from now on there is a strict no swear policy.  I heard a similar story from another friend, who sometimes in frustration called his daughter the ‘little ***t’, he convinced this intelligent child that he was saying ‘little shed’ 🙂 

Hubby and I really need to catch-up with this and curb our language, before we get caught out with babe doing the same.

Breastfeeding a toddler – the half way house

Generally I don’t encounter many mums, let alone working mums who are breastfeeding their toddler, although I know they’re out there. Many people think it’s an, all or nothing approach – but it doesn’t have to be.

Image from Public Health Agency of Canada

Making me feel normal
Earlier this year I went along to my local La Leche league monthly meeting and most of the mums there were nursing toddlers, it was wonderful to see. At last I didn’t feel a freak, and feel like I had to talk about it in hushed tones. I felt part of a group of women that understood not just my BFing issues, but generally my perspective on parenting.

The one thing different was, mostly they were stay at home mums that nursed on demand throughout the day. I was different, obviously by working in the day, milk is not on the menu for babe and she is quite happy that way. I wanted to write about how it works for me, in case there are other mums out there doing this or thinking about whether or not this is a viable option. Because it is and it works well.

Our halfway house approach
I used to be quite strict about when my daughter had her milk and tried to wean it down so she was just having it at bedtime. Then I realized this regimented approach wasn’t necessary, we could be more flexible. If she wants mummy milk when I’m around, I chill out and generally give her some. I try to not stick to regular times though, so when I’m away for a long day, she is not in the habit of having milk at a particular time (except for at bed). I’ve found now that when I’m not around she is quite happy and does not bother about milk – she will have a yogurt or snack of some sort and a drink of water from her sippy cup. She lasted till nearly 9pm by feasting on ice cream before now. It’s the overnight thing that we haven’t done yet, that’s still looming over us like a dark cloud on the horizon – but as she gets older its going to be easier and easier for her to do with out.

Generally chilling out and ignoring the ‘rules’ has been a bit of a theme for me as babe has grown up. I’ve learnt to understand that limitations of baby advisory websites like babycentre and to take some of what health professionals say with a pinch of salt.

I’ve also got a lot more laid back out BFing in public, and gradually so has hubby. My new sling/baby carrier babyhawk also means that she can feed while on the move, and it looks a lot more discrete – if she has her big sun hat on you can hardly tell what she’s up to!

Why do I still BFeed my toddler?
There are many physical and psychological benefits, I’m not going to list them here cause they’re widely available on the net. But for me, as a full-time working mother, its one special thing that I can still do for babe, that gives us that special time and bond. That sounds so corny, but its true. I’m not sure I’d be willing to work full-time if we I wasn’t able to do this for her.

Continuing BFeeding a toddler does take a certain determined, ‘I don’t care what you think attitude’ to stand up to western social norms that generally don’t publicise this kind of thing, but it shouldn’t. For me that’s all the more reason not to hide away when BFeeding – I want to show others that its normal, and that I’m not a sarong wearing, vegan – I’m just an average working mum wanting to do the best for her babe.

In fact I gather that there are a lot more mums out there that do this, but don’t shout about it – the closet toddler breastfeeders.

So mummy’s if you want to continue, don’t let western social norms stop you – people are surprisingly accepting if you just chill out and act relaxed.

Useful links

La Leche Legue UK http://www.laleche.org.uk/
La Leche Legue USA http://www.lllusa.org/
La Leche Legue Canada http://www.lllc.ca/
BFing Advice Site http://www.breastfeeding.com/
Breastfeeding NHS (UK) http://www.breastfeeding.nhs.uk/
The Breastfeeding Network (UK) http://www.breastfeedingnetwork.org.uk/

Dribbling and staying up late calls for drugs

When will teething ever end? On Saturday poor babe was suffering in big way and the day seemed to just last for ever. It didn’t help that she didn’t end up settling down to bed till nearly midnight. As the night drew on I was getting to the point of despair. She’d missed her usual afternoon nap because of a morning lie-in, so reason told me that she would go to bed early. But this wasn’t going to be day of reason. After just 10 minutes sleep at 8pm, when I thought she had gone to bed for the night, I was sadly mistaken as she awoke shortly afterwards. I had made the mistake of trying to move her from my bed into her cot and from there on, she was determined to stay up. And as a mummy’s girl, all she wanted for the most of the day was me, so there was no let-up.

A good moment, during the teething weekend

By the time it had got to 10.30pm and all sleepy tactics had failed I stomped downstairs with babe in arms, to declare to hubby that it was time for the drugs! Dose the child up please and give me something before I go totally crazy. I’m not usually one for giving babe medicine unless she really really needs it. For me a drink was in order, but I was disappointed to realize that hubby had polished off the bottle of wine about two hours ago, well there’s a suprise…lol. It took till 11.49pm, I remember exactly as I glanced up at the clock. This was the time that I had soundly got her to sleep and managed to sneak away from her to grab my own tiny bit of space perched on the side of the bed. Oh but my poor dribbly babe, when will your teething end? I do hope it’s soon.

Alas a good nights sleep came on Sunday, after no usual nap again, she went to bed early at 7.30pm – and boy was I ready. I was becoming a nervous wreck – and that was just a weekend with the troublesome child. Hail to those mums at home 24/7 – you deserve a medal!

Top Tips for Camping with a Toddler

Camping with a toddler is so much fun, don’t let the initial thought of it put you off. If you’ve got a outdoorsey child, it’s a no brainer! You may have already read my post about camping with a baby, things have since moved on a bit for me – ie babe has grown up and presented us with some slightly different challenges. Some of the top tips I mentioned in the post on camping with a baby are repeated, but with slightly different justifications – check out the previous article here.

1) Ditch the every day routines
Honestly, does your child NEED a bath every day? Might a quick shower with mum or dad do the job? I must admit, one evening when there was a choice between going to the pub for a drink and giving babe a wash basin bath, we opted for the pub – what the heck she can shower with me in the morning, I thought. Now I type this, it sound really bad – but a bit of grubiness kind of comes with the territory of camping. Unless your child works like clockwork, you can bank on your usual routine of going to bed going out the window – but you can use this to your advantage, like I said, by going to the pub – we wouldn’t usually entertain this idea at all at home. Strict no going out after 7.30pm! But camping, we’ll happily stay out till 9pm.

2) Prepare for rainy days
Take waterproof clothing (a full suit is good) and prepare activities in advance. Get creative and use what ever you have in the tent. On our last trip we spent ages sorting potatoes and carrots into different tubs and playing drums with the empty food containers. There is only so much time any family can tollerate being stuck in a tent, so get out and find some indoor soft play area or something, I’ve heard this is a great wet weather day fix.

3) Take a large flexible garden trug for baths
I didn’t do this on the last camping trip as I thought I could do without and I did, but to be honest I wish I’d not cut corners here. While babe is now willing to take showers, there are times when a good soaking is only going to do the trick. I also found that the showers at the campsite where really treacherous. Babe fell over every time she showered because of the lack of grip on the floor. One time she slipped over and nearly shot under the cubicle barrier into the path of someone showering next to us – I managed to catch her in time before she hit her head and slithered out of my each. The big trug also meant that I could have a nice long shower in peace, while babe was happily splashing around. It would have also avoided that instance of when she peed on my foot in the middle of the tiny ‘getting dressed’ space of the shower cubicle.

4) Give them jobs to do
Get the toddlers involved, they love it! Babe gets a real kick-out of feeling like she has done something useful. Even if it means a bit of hard work at the beginning, it’s going to pay off  pretty soon – as they become fully fledged little helpers. I’ve still got some time until the pay-off arrives with babe, and she actually hinders rather than helps. But the short-term pay-off is that she is occupied, enjoying herself – what more can I ask for really?

5) Choose your campsite VERY carefully
Rocking up to any old campsite is not going to necessarily lead to the most stress free camping experience. It makes such a difference if you research well in advance and get somewhere will good facilities for small children. When they say, ‘child friendly’ make sure they mean ‘small child or baby friendly’ – there’s some very important differences. Those sites with a good family room with proper bathing facilities makes a big difference. Most kids also love animals, so selecting a site with lots of animals on site or near-by can be very useful for the on-site entertainment. A playground with facilities for small children is also great – check the pictures on the websites carefully. I made the mistake of looking at our last campsite on the net and thinking, great they’ve got a playground – only when I arrived, did I notice that it was the smallest playground ever and only suitable for the larger kiddies. Same applied with the statement that they had a family room and baby bath available to borrow. In fact, the shower in the family room was so powerful, it sprayed the whole room and shocked poor babe and me half to death. As for the baby bath, well that’s it they could be bothered to open the door to let me make me request! If you’re heading off to the New Forest camping, give Red Shoot Camp Site a wide berth.

6) Research activities in advance
Oh we’ll find out about activities when we get there, is something that I have said many times. But to be honest, it’s not the best way of doing things. The locals you ask aren’t always keyed into the kind of things suitable for small children. And the leaflets available in the info areas, aren’t always as informative as you’d like. You really should get on the internet before leaving home and get a good idea of the suitable activities that surround you. Instead of getting that reoccurring question every evening…’what shall we do tomorrow’. And think ahead about rainy day activities, this is when things can get really hard – so be prepared. In the UK, you can pretty much bank on having at least one rainy day during your week’s holiday.

7) Teach them the do’s and don’t of respectful camping from an early age
No one wants a child running up to their tent, playing with the guy ropes and putting grubby fingers all over it. In fact my hubby would have coronary, if a kid did that to our tent – even our old tents. So get them understanding whats not acceptable from the word ‘go’. Teach them not to touch other people’s cars, cut across other people’s pitches and perhaps most critically, not to take off with other people’s stuff – hmm that could be embarrassing.

8 ) Be organised
Honestly, I speak from experience, chaos is not a good thing – it causes stress and arguments. You just don’t need that. Be organised in advance and when you’re out camping, it makes life sooo much easier. Preparation is definitely the key here.

If you’ve got any top tips, please send me your ideas.

Postman gets full frontal flash from breastfeeding Jane

Most breastfeeding mums have a funny story or two to tell about embarrassing moments from feeding in public. But I think my friend Jane’s story about flashing her boob to the postman is up there in my favorites…I just had to share it with you.

Just weeks after Jane’s daughter had been born, the postman rang the door bell mid-feed. Jane leapt straight up, unlatched babe (and the door) and signed for the parcel that had been delivered. She didn’t really notice the strange behaviour from the postman because of her total exhaustion that comes with the territory in the early days of a new-born. Only when she sat back down to continue feeding her baby, did she realise that her left boob had been left out of her top – ekkk, she’d forgotten to tuck it away before dashing to the door. So the postman got a full frontal flash – which lasted for the full duration of the pacel signing. Poor Jane, and poor postman for that matter. Even if he was the most heterosexual of males, I’m not sure that’s the kind of context that he wanted to do some boobie ogling.

By all accounts (well Jane’s accounts that is), it has taken the postman months to be able to look her in the eye again.

I’ve had nothing near that scale of embarrasment I’m pleased to say. I don’t want to tempt fate though, there’s still time for me yet. What about you? Do share, please.

 

AT WORK: Working mums just want flexibility

Working full-time and being a mum is really tough, especially if your employer is a complete ass and doesn’t give you any flexibility. Do I look like a miracle worker? With those dark rings around my eyes and tierdy short temper, I don’t think so!   

 

I’m really lucky to have a good employer who allows me to work from home and has agreed on an arrangement of flexible hours – without this there is no chance that I would choose to work full-time. I know this is partly due to the nature of my job though, it’s the kind of thing that I can easily do from home without having an impact on my output. Never the less I know there are lots of companies out there that put up real barriers to mothers trying to work from home and flexibly – just for bad perception reasons. In my view they need to wake and a see the stats on how much more productive people who work from home are.  

I found some research done by workingmums.co.uk that revealed that women don’t expect the earth from their employers when they have children, in fact 85% said flexible working was the most important requirement and that working mums were far more impressed by an employers willing to offer some home working on flexibility around emergency cover than extended maternity pay or support for childcare.
From my own perspective the fact that my employer is willing to do this for me, makes me more committed and focused in my work. I am also mildly paranoid about being seen to be slacking off by working from home and doing flexible hours. I am constantly feeling the need to prove myself and show results – but I guess that’s only a good thing. It’s also other people’s perceptions about me working from home, ie other people who are office based who just think I am going to watch day-time TV all day and sit around in the sun (when we have any). Like I’ve got the time? And it’s usually those people who ‘have a complex’, that everyone else is getting a better deal than then. They often fail to look at the bigger picture and are quick to draw judgements. Can you tell that this irritates me just a tiny bit…lol.
 What’s your employer and fellow colleagues like?