6 Month Update: My Favourite Moments

Somehow, Little Moore has turned 6 months today. Crazy right?! It’s great now that he’s older and getting more active and interested in the things around him. but it also makes me sad as that means it’s getting closer to me going back to work (boo hoo!) and I don’t want to miss out on all the wonderful stuff he does.

Ignoring the sad though, to celebrate his six months I am sharing some of my favourite moments in his last three months of growing.

1. Rolling Over – 18 weeks

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We’d been expecting him to roll over for a while as he’s always been a wriggly little thing and was very good at rolling onto his side, so we were sure he’d learn to flip all the way over quickly. I think we were both worried that we’d miss it, but especially Nathan, as he’s at work four days a week. I’m sure Little Moore sensed that though as he waited until both of us were watching to roll over for the first time. It was a really special moment and I’m so glad we got to share it together. Now he does it every day and still looks so proud of himself when he ends up on his tummy (he’s not mastered rolling from front to back yet though!)

2. Swimming

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My sister and I decided to take Little Moore and his cousin Leo for a few swimming lessons to start getting them used to the water. Leo loves bath time but Little Moore hasn’t started enjoying it until very recently. I was worried he’d cry the whole time, but strangely it was the other way round. Leo screamed for all the lessons bar the last one, while Little Moore just took it all in, and only whimpered a bit when he started drinking pool water. I really enjoyed the lessons and now we’re going to start taking the boys to the pool with us once a week.

3. Birds

That’s right, I said birds. A few weeks back we went to Fargo Village and while Nathan was browsing, I took a fussy Little Moore to see some budgies at the pet shop. And he loved them! We stood there for about half an hour and every time they squawked and flew, he laughed. It made my heart all gooey and now I really want our own budgie!

These are my favourite moments from the last three months, but there’s been so many others that I have loved and will always treasure. And I’m looking forward to the next few months of fun!

Awesome (But Non Essential) Baby Gadgets

There’s tons of lists around for must have baby gadgets but I think the only way you find out what you truly need is through trial and error yourself. There’s some stuff we have that I couldn’t live without and others which I won’t bother with next time round.

So instead of telling you what you have to buy, today I’m sharing my top three awesome, but non essential baby gadgets.

1. Baby Sling

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I liked the idea of these but have only bought once recently and I’m so glad I did. Little Moore has been getting a bit fidgety lately in his pushchair and I think it’s because he’s a pretty nosy baby and likes to have a good look at things. In his sling he can look at everything he likes, and he also likes to snuggle in and have a nap there too. I got this one from Daisy Baby and love it, though I do find it hard to tie correctly sometimes.

2. Ice Lolly Moulds

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During the recent heat wave I bought these and made some breast milk popsicles for Little Moore. It’s hard to keep cool in this weather and I know I love a good ice cream, so why should he miss out?! I bought the Annabel Karmel ones and think they’re brilliant. They’re small in portion so it’s not too much for him to get through, and the handles are easy to grab, even for him at five months. It’s great to see him feeding himself and enjoying the new experience of something freezing cold in his mouth! These will still be great when he’s older for fruity/yoghurt ice lollies and good for teething too.

3. Tummy with Mummy

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This is a foldaway baby seat that can also be used as a tummy time platform. While not essential, I found it really helpful when Little Moore was younger and not enjoying his tummy time. The gently sloped platform means baby can look around easily (rather than face planting the floor) and you can maintain eye contact easier too, making him happier. Little Moore really enjoys his tummy time now, especially now he’s learnt to roll onto his tummy himself, but I think this helped in the early days. Along with his high chair, it’s my go to seat now he’s outgrown his bouncer chair.

Camp NaNoWriMo and Starting Afresh

This year I decided to take part in Camp NaNoWriMo with a bunch of fellow bloggers/writers. I’ve never done any kind of NaNoWriMo activities for various reasons – finishing my dissertation, finishing a novel, being heavily pregnant and commuting 5 hours a day etc – but this year felt like a good time to start.

I hadn’t heard of the camp stuff before but when it was explained to me it sounded perfect, as you don’t have to write an 80,000 word novel as you do in November: for camp you can set your own goals, whether it’s a word count for writing or finishing off some editing, which is exactly what I wanted to do.

I set a goal of 50,000 words, which is 50 hours of active editing. I thought it sounded reasonable and that by the end of the months I’d have finally finished editing my first novel, as that’s been going on forever now.

Sadly, it was not the case. I got a bit behind. And then a bit more behind. And by that point, it was just impossible to catch up, unless I didn’t sleep and spent most of the day ignoring Little Moore! Sadly maternity leave doesn’t mean free time to do whatever you like.

I was still pleased with my progress though. I did about 25 hours of editing, half my target but more than I probably would have in a normal month. But I did find myself resenting doing the work. I don’t know if that was because of the increasingly impossible target or the fact that editing is bloody hard work, or just that this novel sometimes feels like it’s beyond help.

So I’ve quit. And it feels good.

I’ve not given up forever, but I think it’s a good idea to take a break from this one for now. There’s a lot that needs sorting to make it readable to someone other than me or Nathan, and I don’t feel like I have the brain power or editing skills for it right now. And it was start to make me wonder if writing wasn’t for me after all. I know editing is a huge part of being a writer, and I was struggling so much it was starting to feel like I never wanted to write again.

Instead of editing my old work, I’ve started something new. It’s a story I’ve been mulling around in my head for years, as is often the case. I’ve written a couple of chapters before for my degree, although the idea has changed a lot since then. One day I got out a pretty notebook and scribbled down a page, then put it away. I did the same the next day, and the next.

I’ve been doing a page a day for a couple of weeks now, and although it’s not fast moving, it’s writing and I’m enjoying it and that’s what feels important right now. I know at some point I need to sit down and plan where it’s going, and hopefully some day I’ll have to sit down and hate editing it, but for now, I feel like a writer again, and that’s good.

Book Review: The Demon Girl’s Song (Susan Jane Bigelow)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Dreaming Robot Press

Release Date: September 1st 2016

Summary (from Goodreads):

More than anything, Andín dal Rovi wants to escape her small town life, helping her father in the store, watching her younger brother prepare to take the place at University she’d longed for. Instead of escape, she gets a thousand-year-old demon stuck in her head, and she loses everything – her home, her family and her country. In the quest to regain her identity, she finds herself racing against time to uncover the secrets of her world – and save it from utter annihilation.

Review:

When I was contacted about reading The Demon Girl’s Song I was really intrigued by the idea, especially as it stated it was about a ‘queer young woman of colour’ which is diversity I feel we don’t often see in fantasy. I was really looking forward to reading it.

I’m normally a pretty fast reader compared with your average Joe (though probably not with your pro bloggers) but this took me ages to read: I started at the beginning of April and didn’t finish until mid-June. When I read it I did enjoy it, but I never wanted to go back to it, which I guess isn’t a great sign.

Andín was a great protagonist and I did enjoy seeing her development as the book progressed. I liked how what she wanted changed during the book as she grew as a person: first she wanted to leave home, then she wanted to get back there, she wanted rid of the demon and then she wasn’t sure.

The relationship with Yshe was really sweet but I did worry about some of the suggestions at first. It looked like Andín was fancying women because a demon who previously occupied men was in her head: she kept blaming these thoughts on it. Luckily she accepted later on that it was just her, because I thought there were some bad implications there otherwise.

I struggled with a few things in this book that made it less enjoyable for me. A lot of the voices sounded too modern – I know this isn’t a historical piece but I felt Andín spoke differently to the other characters. A lot of the story felt bogged down in history and politics and geography: while some of this was interesting I just felt there was too much emphasis on it. I had a problem with the ending too: it felt like a bit of a cop out/too familiar for my liking.

Overall this was well written with an interesting idea but I just felt it wasn’t really for me.

 3

Thinking About Weaning

Little Moore is creeping up to being six months old now – I know, where does all the time go?! – and I’m starting to think about weaning, and getting very excited!

I’ve done a lot of research on weaning as I know things are a bit different from when I remember my mom weaning my little sisters about 15 years ago (god that makes me feel old!) I remember my mum making lots of purees and meals for them, mostly by whizzing up whatever we were eating with a hand blender. I also remember my older sister eating whatever they didn’t, which I thought was pretty disgusting! I know it’s just mushed up dinner but still…

When I thought about weaning when I was pregnant I was all set for lots of hand made purees, no shop bought jars etc, all homemade and natural because that’s the domestic goddess I am (read as sarcasm). However, after doing some research I’ve found I’m more interested in baby led weaning.

For those who don’t know, the principle behind baby led weaning is letting the baby feed himself, and giving them whatever you eat (within reason, as some things aren’t suitable for young babies). There’s no bland, mushy purees to be forced into unwilling mouths. Baby led weaning encourages them to be independent and feed themselves, and puts them in control. Instead of urging them to finish the bowl of lovely mush you’ve made, baby decides how much to eat and when he’s had enough.

Of course, there’s down sides. I’m fully prepared for Little Moore to play with more food than he’s going to eat, and for him/me/the highchair/the dining room to be be covered in bits of food, but that’s all part of the fun.

I’m not opposed to giving purees – I have some freebies from Ella’s Kitchen etc that I might do as loaded spoons – putting puree on a spoon and letting him put it in his mouth himself. But I much prefer the idea of giving him soft sticks of veg etc and letting him gnaw away on them.

I won’t be quite the baby led weaning purist either, as I am partially following the Ella’s Kitchen weaning method, introducing single veggies for the first couple of weeks, then fruits etc. But instead of purees I’ll be doing baby sized sticks.

I’m aware that many parents start out excited for weaning and are soon exasperated, or start off with grand plans of how they’re going to do things which slowly go down the drain. But I’m just going to go in with an open mind, go with the flow and try and get us all to have as much fun with it as possible. Still, any tips will be appreciated!

#Vagilante: A Few Observations on Sexism

I recently read and loved What’s A Girl Gotta Do? by Holly Bourne, where one of the characters starts a project calling out all sexism she sees. In honour of Lottie’s project, I wanted to write a little about my own experiences of sexisms in things that are close to me. This was originally going to be part of my What’s A Girl Gotta Do? review but it became too long and I decided to make it a separate post.

One is sexism with babies (yes, it starts that early!) This obviously means a lot to me, being a new mum. When I got pregnant we decided we didn’t want to know the sex and so were suitably happy/surprised when B-day came and we had a little boy. What surprised me were the comments beforehand, from family and friends, saying they couldn’t buy toys/clothes etc for the baby until they found out what it was. Which struck me as ridiculous. Nathan and I happily bought clothes, and not even ‘gender neutral’ specific ones, just ones we thought were cute and weren’t just pink or blue (okay probably a few blue but it’s my favourite colour so…)

Shopping for a baby is hard when you don’t want to dress it as a boy or a girl: you can walk into the baby section in most department stores and it’s split into pink, blue, and a tiny bit of white, mostly in newborn sizes for those who don’t know the gender. It seems crazy to me that in 2016 we still have to buy ‘boy’ clothes or ‘girl’ clothes, instead of just baby clothes.

I’ve also gotten annoyed with family members who have decided they’re going to take Little Moore to all the football games/golf/cricket etc, because he’s a boy and neither Nathan nor I are sporty so obviously we wouldn’t do that. But they scoff if I talk about taking him horse riding or dancing. For one, if he was into sport then of course we would support him, no matter what our own hobbies are. And two, just because he’s a boy, it doesn’t mean you have to force sport on him. He can like whatever he likes and I don’t want to label some things as ‘boy’ hobbies and others as ‘girly’.

Secondly, I have a quick bit to say about sexism in business. I work for a large company and really enjoy my job and the people there. I have to say, I don’t feel like I’ve personally been held back for being a woman (although I know one boss didn’t think it worth it giving me my current job because I was pregnant, but hey ho, I got it). But I have noticed other little things.

At Christmas, one of the company heads came round to say Merry Christmas to everyone. I watched him shake hands with two of my male colleagues, give kisses on both cheeks to my female boss, and then kiss me on the forehead. In business, hand shakes are a sign of respect that is not often given to women. I couldn’t help but think how bizarre it would look if he had kissed my male colleagues on the head/cheeks. So why was it okay to do that to me? I also felt like the forehead thing for me was because of my age, being about 20 years younger than everyone else on the team.

The hand shake thing has bugged me before as men don’t even seems to think about it. I had a meeting with a supplier who sent three men, who all shook my male colleagues hand a just kind of nodded at me. They also treated me like a secretary – I stress here that there is nothing wrong with being a secretary, but that was an assumption they made which I feel was based on my age and gender, when I was there in a professional capacity with my role in IT finance.

Last one now, and I’m looking at the other side of things. I know Nathan experiences sexism too, because he doesn’t like to talk about stereotypical ‘manly’ things. He says he finds that, because he has no interest in football, a lot of men at work etc don’t seem to be able to talk about anything with him. They also seem to find it strange when he takes a lot of interest in his son: being excited for weaning soon, for example, or wanting to take holiday to spend time with both of us. This just proves to me how sexism isn’t a one way street: men experience it too and it’s just as unfair and archaic.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on sexism you’ve experienced, whether similar to mine of very different cases.

Book Review: Dylan the Doctor (Guy Parker Reeves)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Scholastic

Release Date: August 4th 2016

Summary:

Dylan’s on his way – are you ready to play? DYLAN THE DOCTOR is the first picture book in a series featuring an exuberant stripy dog, who just loves to play. Created by bestselling illustrator Guy Parker-Rees, Dylan is a joyous new character who uses playing and fun to help toddlers explore and understand their world. Today Dylan is playing at being a doctor. He dashes about looking after all of his friends: Purple Puss, Jolly Otter and Titchy Chick. But who will look after poor, tired Doctor Dylan? All his friends, of course! Look out for Dylan’s friend, Dotty Bug, on every page, as she encourages readers to join in with the story.

Review:

I first read this to Little Moore as soon as it popped through our letterbox. He was in a very grumbly mood – possibly teething – but he sat through the whole thing, which I think is a pretty glowing review to start with!

Dylan decides he’s going to be a doctor for the day and helps to tend to his friends various ailments. But looking after everyone takes its toll and Dylan’s friends pull together to look after him too.

I loved the colours in this book. It was really bright, which I think helped keep Little Moore’s attention. I particularly love the design for Dylan, with his almost crayon-like stripy pattern. It’s a great one to read aloud, especially with the ‘Nee-naw’ of the ambulance, which Little Moore loved.

Although I haven’t really used it yet, I loved the idea of Dotty Bug adding extras to the book. She appears on each page and asks little questions to help younger readers join in with the story. I loved this level of interactivity and will definitely use it with Little Moore when he’s older. It’s a great way of involving children and keep them engaged with the story.

This is a charming little story with a great cast of colourful characters, and I’d definitely like to read more of Dylan’s adventures soon!

4

About the Author

GUY PARKER-REES

Guy Parker-Rees is one of the UK’s best-loved children’s illustrators. His many successes include GIRAFFES CAN’T DANCE (Orchard) and SPOOKYRUMPUS (Orchard). Guy lives in Brighton.

Website: www.guyparkerrees.com 

Twitter: http://twitter.com/Guyguyyug

Blog Tour

You can catch up or follow the rest of the blog tour at the following stops

 

DYLAN-BLOG-BANNER-02Monday 15th August

Chouett

Big Book Little Book

Tuesday 16th August

Powered by Reading

Orchard Book Club’s Mini Reviewers

Wednesday 17th August

The Pewter Wolf

Maia and a Little Moore

Thursday 18th August

Linda’s Book Bag

Fiction Fascination

Friday 19th August

Emma’s Bookery

Winged Reviews

Saturday 20th August

Tales of Yesterday

Get Kids into Books

Sunday 21st August

Library Girl and Book Boy

Acorn Books

Book Review: What’s A Girl Gotta Do? (Holly Bourne)

Publisher: Usborne

Pages: 432

Release Date: August 1st 2016

Summary (from Goodreads):

HOW TO START A FEMINIST REVOLUTION:

1. Call out anything that is unfair on one gender

2. Don’t call out the same thing twice (so you can sleep and breathe)

3. Always try to keep it funny

4. Don’t let anything slide. Even when you start to break…

Lottie’s determined to change the world with her #Vagilante vlog. Shame the trolls have other ideas…

Review:

I super loved Am I Normal Yet? and enjoyed How Hard Can Love Be? but when I read the blurb for What’s A Girl Gotta Do? I knew this one was for me and I was crazy excited for it. It’s one of the few books I’ve bought for myself recently, rather than review copies or gifts.

Although Evie is still my favourite of the group, I have a soft spot for Lottie and her loud mouth and massive brain. Feminism is a hot topic at the moment and I’m really interested in it, so I was looking forward to seeing how her experiment went.

Lottie decides to do a month long project where she calls out every instance of sexism she sees, videoing it all with a male classmate who doesn’t seem to support her cause. She knows it’s going to be a tough job but she isn’t prepared for the emotional exhaustion that comes with it.

Although she tries to keep it funny, Lottie has a tendency to go on angry rants which resemble the stereotypical image of ‘angry feminist’. Although this isn’t always the best way to get her point across, she justifies it as her right to be angry: why would you not be angry when you see inequalities which people don’t seem to notice or care about?

It made me sad how little support Lottie got from classmates. I know it’s probably realistic for schools today but from the young people I know, I hoped there would be more support behind her (I guess I just know very awesome young adults). Lottie’s very liberal parents are also surprisingly unsupportive, telling her to ‘pick her battles’ and prioritise her Cambridge interview over her principles. I loved the internal debate on this one for Lottie: it was her future v. her principles and it wasn’t an easy choice. The way I saw it, hopefully a university like Cambridge would appreciate what she was doing, and if they didn’t then they weren’t worthy of her as a student.

When the trolls came out it was so accurate to real life, which I’m pretty used to seeing. But experiencing it from the victim’s point of view was really horrible and my heart went out to Lottie. I think all trolls should have this as required reading so they can see what their hurtful and stupid comments do to people.

I know Holly Bourne wrote a note afterwards that she was only really writing about feminism from one point of view, but I did think it was a shame that all three protagonists were white and straight. That’s leaving out a wide range of teens who might not see themselves in these characters. But I know you can’t cover everything and I still love these books.

I intended to write a few of my own sexism experiences/observations in this review but it ended up being longer than the review! So I’ll be posting those separately in a few days time.

This whole trilogy is a triumph and I would recommend it for everyone, regardless of age or gender (I’ve already lent the first to my dad and he enjoyed it). They’re fun and funny but also talk about so many important issues. They’re definitely in my top favourite trilogies now.

Copy of an art exhibit

Book Review: Belle and Sébastien (Cécile Aubry)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Alma Books

Pages: 189

Release Date: 2016

Summary:

The son of a Gypsy woman, Sébastien is found as a newborn baby in the Alps and brought up by César and his grandchildren Angélina and Jean. Born on the same day, Belle is a beautiful white Pyrenean Mountain Dog who has been neglected and passed on from owner to owner, until one day she escapes from a kennel. When Sébastien rescues the runaway Belle from the wrath of the villagers, the boy and the dog form a lifelong friendship and embark on exciting adventures in the mountains.

First published in 1965 to coincide with the internationally successful television series of the same name, Belle and Sébastien is a heart-warming story of camaraderie, adventure and freedom.

Review:

This was a charming little book about a young gypsy boy raised on the mountains after his mother dies giving birth to him, and a dog who befriends him and learns to trust again, despite the village people who are believe she is a beast who needs to be killed.

When I was sent this I thought it sounded beautiful, though I’d never heard of the television series before. I have to admit I found it a bit hard to read – I struggle with classics and find the language a bit jarring. This book was a struggle at times because the language sometimes drew me out of the story. There were times when the tense would change and I’d find that a bit confusing. It’s also been translated from French so I think that can explain some odd phrases sometimes.

Despite these difficulties, I found the story really charming and loved willful little Sébastien and the blossoming romance between the Doctor and Angélina. But my favourite character was the bossy and gossiping Célestine, who stole every scene and made me laugh grit my teeth – I’m sure in real life she would be incredibly annoying!

If you’re looking for a children’s classic about friendship and loyalty then this is the book for you!

3

Book Review: Faceless (Alyssa Sheinmel)

Publisher: Chicken House

Pages: 346

Release Date: January 7th 2016

Summary (from Goodreads):

When Maisie is struck by lightning, her face is partially destroyed. She’s lucky enough to get a face transplant, but how do you live your life when you can’t even recognize yourself anymore? She was a runner, a girlfriend, a good student …a normal girl. Now, after a single freak accident, all that has changed. As Maisie discovers how much her looks did and didn’t shape her relationship to the world, she has to redefine her own identity, and figure out what ‘lucky’ really means.

Review:

I won this book in a giveaway from Chelley over at Tales of Yesterday agggeess ago and have finally got round to reading it. So big thanks to her for the copy!

When Maisie gets struck by lightning in a freak accident, her burns are so severe parts of her face are burned off. Radical face transplant surgery means she can live a relatively ‘normal’ life, but Maisie has a hard time adjusting to seeing someone else’s face in the mirror.

This book was packed with raw emotion on a really difficult issue and it made me think a lot. I can’t imagine going through something so traumatic, and to be so permanently scarred by it, in a way that is obvious to everyone, must be so, so hard. Some injuries can be hidden away if you want to but it’s much harder to do that with your face. I think it would be doubly hard going through that as a teenage girl, when your appearance can feel like everything. Everyone staring, whispering, commenting – just awful. It hurt me that the students at school could be so unsupportive: I’d hope if I was in their position I’d be more sensitive.

What I got the most was how annoyed Maisie got every time people told her she was lucky: lucky to have survived, to have gotten the face transplant, to be regaining feeling in her face. In her opinion, she would be lucky if she hadn’t been hit by lightning at all, which makes sense. While people probably don’t understand the damage their words can do, I could imagine how frustrating that would be. It’s easy for people who aren’t facially scarred to say that you should appreciate whatever life you have.

This book really didn’t sugarcoat issues and I appreciated that. While it was a hopeful ending, it wasn’t a happily ever after, which made it feel true to real life. The focus is on the emotional recovery and deals with grief after a life changing event, loss of identity and the road to self acceptance. I found Maisie’s journey fascinating and would definitely recommend it!

4