Our newest addition….

Okay, so it’s taken me an embarrassingly long time to post about this but hey, life with two kids is hard – who knew?! (I have a brand new respect for mummy bloggers with more than one child! Fair play to you guys!)

So, our little girl, California Joan Baines, was born on 31st October 2016 by elective c-section. It’s funny because I never told anybody the date of my c-section because I thought it was pointless as Huxley had been 5 days early and so I was convinced that I would go into labour much earlier than that but nope, she stayed put! To be honest, I’m quite glad as I was so panicky that they would share the same birthday! (Huxley’s birthday is the 21st October). At least this gives them a good week and a half between their birthdays! October is going to be pretty expensive from now on but at least we’ve got a solid excuse for throwing a Halloween party every year now!

Life with two is definitely more challenging. Luckily, thanks to the age-gap and the 15 hours free government funding, Huxley is now at nursery a little bit more often which has helped quite a lot. But yeah, there’s no more of that ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’ malarkey. When the baby sleeps, I’m usually being chased round the house while Hux is being a dinosaur or digging for worms in the garden or making sure everyone has food to eat and cups of tea to drink. I’m sure it will get easier once she starts sleeping through the night (man, that can’t come soon enough!)

To give Hux his due, he has been a total angel. He loves his sister so much. He takes every opportunity he can to give her kisses or hold her hand or make her smile.

Cali on the other hand has been much more difficult than Hux ever was. It’s not really her fault bless her but she basically pooped about 3 times in the first 6 weeks which made her super cranky and us super on-edge and worried. I think her guts have finally sorted themselves out a bit now but she seems to have moved on to teething already – I didn’t really realise this could happen this early but apparently it can! She hasn’t actually got any teeth yet but she’s super dribbly and chompy. Hux never suffered with teething so this is all quite new to us! She also seems to puke quite a lot – again, something Hux never did (seriously, he was an angel baby!). So, we’ve found ourselves whinging about her quite a bit which isn’t really fair on her but she’s had a hard act to follow with Huxley being so easy! But after talking to some other parents, by the sounds of things, I don’t think she’s as bad as we make her sound!

We’re off on our first family holiday as a four next week. We thought we’d pick somewhere easy to get to and quite chilled so we chose Singapore. Yes, that was sarcasm. Hello 14-hour flight, 30 degree heat, constant thunderstorms and mosquito-borne diseases. It’s going to be bags of fun I’m sure. At least Huxley will be happy as we’re visiting Singapore Zoo, the River Safari, the Night Safari & the aquarium while we’re there on top of all the regular wildlife he’ll see around the city.

14939393_10153839630057391_4294766975483416830_o

5 days old

15056429_10153878051112391_4400816423430326222_n

15288533_10153897684682391_1065536262512026434_o

15578349_10153947067217391_7504639952572533394_o

15895559_10154008054917391_3769857957894589735_o

16179341_10154052319972391_4061900228528810360_o

Bump update: 37 weeks

I’m writing this in my kitchen at 5am chomping on some Belvita breakfast biscuits having been awake since about 3am. I haven’t slept properly for weeks and I keep having to shuffle around to stop my legs/hips/knees from getting pins and needles.

It’s pretty safe to say that I’m well and truly ready for all of this to be over now! The last 2-3 weeks are always the worst, especially now that my bump has dropped, meaning I need a wee every 5 minutes and being comfortable is a distant memory. I’m actually starting to think I’ll probably get more sleep when the baby arrives!

Saying that, I still consider myself to be pretty fortunate in the pregnancy-symptoms department. My back and hip pain have been relatively minor this time around, I’ve had no swelling of legs or ankles, no heartburn – in fact, other than not really being able to sleep, I think I’m doing pretty well (and not sleeping has it’s perks – such as being able to get ahead with all my work and write blog posts in pure, silent, uninterrupted bliss!)

We’re pretty much ready for baby to turn up any day now. We’ve just bought a new steriliser from Mothercare to replace the old one as it had funny bits of metal floating around in it and luckily it was in the sale for half price. I should probably take another look at my baby bag as I have really only panic-packed it once a few weeks ago after it dawned on me that it was all getting a bit close!

Mentally, I’m still not sure how ready I am, which I know sounds totally nuts because I’ve been pregnant FOREVER now so have had plenty of time to get used to the idea but I think there’s still going to be a wave of shock when she arrives and I’ve got a whole new person to look after. But maybe there won’t. Sometimes I just manage not to stress out about stuff like this and just go with the flow. I think the fact that I know I’m having a c-section is helping a lot. Obviously it’s still worrying and there are still things that could go wrong but I think I’d be a nervous wreck right now if I had to contemplate a natural birth. (Don’t think that I’m by any means suggesting that a c-section is the easy option, because trust me, it’s not, we’re still talking MAJOR surgery that takes weeks to recover from, but for my own personal reasons relating to what happened with Huxley at birth and being in intensive care, it’s definitely the best option for me)

Also, I hope you guys aren’t expecting a dainty little baby girl because at my last scan the lady looked at me in shock and asked if my diabetes test had come back clear and I was told that she looked like she had a ‘chunky tummy’! She was already estimated to be 6lb 14oz at 36 weeks (babies put on 0.5lb a week in the last few weeks) so I’m fully expecting another hefty baby like Huxley!

Wish me luck!

37 weeks pregnant

Gender reveal & bump update: 25 weeks

Hello!

Long time no see! Things have been pretty crazy over here lately. Mainly because I’ve taken on a lot more social media work recently so I just don’t have the spare time left to blog anymore, especially as I’m still filming and editing weekly vlogs.

I hope you’re all enjoying this lovely, hot weather. I really wish I was. Instead I’ve spent most of it sat inside with the curtains closed trying to keep myself awake. I hate it! I hate wasting sunny days and I’m getting major mum-guilt that I barely have the energy to talk to Huxley, let alone play with him or take him anywhere fun.

So, back to business. You may have noticed from the title that I’m actually 25 weeks pregnant now so doing a full-blown gender reveal seemed a bit silly as I’ve known the gender for weeks and you’ll already know what we’re having if you follow any of my social media or watch my vlog but I’m excited to say that we’re having a girl!

I think we were both a bit shocked as we had just assumed it would be a boy for some reason and I think Nick quite liked the idea of Huxley having a brother but it will be nice to have a girl. She’ll be the first granddaughter on my side of the family as my sister & I both have boys. My only worry is how much money I’m going to spend! I’ve already bought tons in the shops and we’ve saved loads of stuff from when Huxley was little anyway. I can’t help it! Girls stuff is just so cute!

25 weeks pregnant

25 weeks pregnant with a girl

25 weeks pregnant with baby girl

Curious Wolves – the shop!

I wrote a post a few weeks ago about our newest venture, a travel & adventure website for parents called Curious Wolves.

You may have seen me tweeting about our new baby t-shirts and vests that are now available for sale on Etsy (and Folksy).

They’ve been designed by one of our favourite illustrators, Nicholas John Frith (you can see his artwork in Huxley’s nursery) and we couldn’t be happier with them.

The design features an elephant riding a food cart eating some noodles with the words ‘Let’s Eat & Explore’. We’ve had them printed in blue & yellow and pink & brown on both ecru and white t-shirts and vests.

I really hope you like them and will bear us in mind for the upcoming festive season (for presents or to be featured gift guides!)

Curious Wolves Let's Eat & ExploreEcru Let's Eat & Explore baby t-shirt Curious WolvesCurious Wolves tshirt designed by Nicholas John FrithCurious Wolves tshirt designed by Nicholas John Frith

Curious-Wolves-Let's-Eat-&-Explore-t-shirt-designed-by-Nick-Frith
Let’s Eat & Explore Organic Baby T-Shirt in Blue and Yellow designed by Nicholas John Frith – £12.50
Curious-Wolves-Let's-Eat-&-Explore-white-t-shirt-designed-by-Nick-Frith
Let’s Eat & Explore Organic Baby TShirt in Blue & Yellow designed by Nicholas John Frith-£12.50

 

 

 

 

 

Let's-Eat-&-Explore-Curious-Wolves-t-shirt-designed-by-Nicholas-John-Frith
Let’s Eat & Explore Ecru Organic Baby T-Shirt in Pink and Brown designed by Nicholas John Frith – £12.50
Curious-Wolves-Let's-Eat-&-Explore-white-tshirt
Let’s Eat & Explore White Organic Baby T-Shirt in Pink and Brown designed by Nicholas John Frith – £12.50
Curious-Wolves-Let's-Eat-&-Explore-ecru-vest-designed-by-Nick-Frith
Let’s Eat & Explore Organic Baby T-Shirt in Blue & Yellow designed by Nicholas John Frith – £12.50
Curious-Wolves-Let's-Eat-&-Explore-white-vest-designed-by-Nick-Frith
Let’s Eat & Explore Organic Baby Vest in Blue and Yellow designed by Nicholas John Frith – £12.50

 

Baby-friendly recipes: Banana & oat cookies

I don’t claim to have invented this recipe, in fact I’ve seen loads of variations of it knocking around the internet recently but I can’t remember where I found this particular one. I think it was on Pinterest somewhere.

I’ve called this ‘baby-friendly’ but really it’s for quite old babies that are capable of eating well and have plenty of teeth. These cookies can be quite chewy. It’s an odd texture and it’s hard to describe unless you’ve tried one. It’s kind of rubbery? But not in a bad way.

The best thing about these cookies is that they have no added sugar, they just use the sweetness from the bananas. There are only two ingredients (or 3 if you want to be a bit naughty and add chocolate chips like I did!) and are a healthy and cheap alternative to baby snacks you buy in the shops like rusks etc.

Banana & oat cookie recipe

– 2 bananas

– 100g porridge oats

(- chocolate chips/raisins/whatever else you want to add in)

Banana and oat cookies ingredients

1. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4

2. Mash the banana in a bowl

Mashed banana3. Mix banana & oats together (and add any extra bits like raisins, chocolate chips etc)

Banana & oat mix

4. Spoon mixture out onto lightly greased baking tray (don’t worry about putting them close together as these cookies don’t really expand)

No sugar banana and oat cookies

5. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes

Low sugar banana and oat cookies

6. Try not to scoff the lot

 

Baby-friendly recipe: Vegetable samosas

Samosas are an excellent way of sneaking lots of veggies into your kids diet and they transport brilliantly for a handy meal on-the-go. It’s also a great way of introducing some different flavours and spices into their food.

Huxley has always loved being able to pick his food up with his fingers and it’s so entertaining watching all the different ways he tackles a samosa.

He was eating these before he had teeth too as the inside is quite mushy so it’s a great weaning recipe.

This recipe makes about 12 samosas. They’ll keep in the fridge for a few days and are just as nice cold as they are hot.

Huxley-eating-samosa

Vegetable samosa recipe

– 1 large carrot, peeled and diced

– 1 small swede, peeled and diced

– 1 white onion, peeled and diced

– 1 large potato (or sweet potato), peeled and diced

– large handful of frozen peas

– 1 tbsp garam masala

– 8 sheets of filo pastry (about half a pack)

– 10g butter, softened

Samosa recipe

1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 5.

2. Stick the onions, potato and swede in a frying pan with the garam masala and cook for 5 minutes over a medium heat.

Baby friendly samosa recipe

2. Add a cup of water & the frozen peas and cook for a further 10 minutes or until soft. If the mixture is still wet after this time, cook until reduced and then mash. You’re aiming for a lumpy puree consistency. Then set aside to cool.

Child friendly samosa recipeCooked samosa filling

3. Lay out one sheet of filo pastry and dab with the softened butter using a pastry brush. Lay another sheet over the top, sticking it down together.

Samosa recipe for babies

4. Using a knife, cut each sheet lengthways into three long strips.

Family friendly samosa recipe

5. Take a tablespoon of the filling and place it about an inch from the bottom in the middle of one of the strips. Fold the bottom left corner up, creating a diagonal edge and immediately fold upwards and diagonally across to the left. This will create an enclosed triangle so that you can push the filling down into the corner of the samosa, creating a little extra room so you can add another tablespoon of filling in. (See GIF below for folding technique)

Samosa folding gif

6. Fold upwards, sealing the filling inside the pastry and continue to fold upwards until you have a tight triangular package. Dab the last top corner with butter to seal.

7. Repeat with the remaining sheets and filling and place on a baking tray.

8. Bake for 20 minutes or until crisp and golden.

Samosa

I’m afraid this is another one of those recipes that can very easily make a mess but to be honest, I think it’s important for kids to have fun with their food and apparently it helps them to learn quicker.

Baby eating samosasHux-eating-samosa

Baby-friendly recipe: Cheese straws

These are a great finger food that can be easily transported in a lunch box and they don’t make too much mess when eaten. However, they’re not something I would make all the time as they do use rather a lot of cheese!

This recipe is taken from the Ella’s Kitchen cookbook.

Ella's Kitchen cheese straws recipe

Cheese straws recipe

– 50g unsalted butter, softened

– 250g cheddar cheese, grated

– 125g wholemeal flour

– 1 egg, lightly beaten

– 1 tablespoon sesame seeds

– ¼ teaspoon mild chilli powder or paprika

Grated-cheese

1. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 6.

2. Cream the butter and cheddar in a food processor. Stir in the flour and form the mixture into a soft dough.

Making-cheese-straws

3. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough until it’s 1.5cm thick. Brush with the beaten egg then cut into 5cm strips.

Cheese-straw-recipe

4. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and chilli powder or paprika.

Cheese-straws-recipe

5. Put the strips on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes until they are crisp and golden.

Ella's Kitchen cheese straws recipe

 

Baby-friendly recipe: Homemade ice lollies

I try and be as careful as possible about what we feed Huxley without being over-controlling and stopping him from having anything nice to eat, because let’s be honest, I eat chocolate biscuits, so he’s bound to want to eat chocolate biscuits.

Over the summer we wanted to find something that he could eat after lunch or dinner that would keep him cool. When I was little we used to make ice-lollies all the time and we loved them so we figured we’d give them a go with Huxley.

Homemade ice lollies

This isn’t much of a ‘recipe’ post really as it’s simple enough not to need a formal recipe.

You basically get whatever fruit it is that you want to use (or you can try mixing some fruit to make some yummy new flavours) and stick them all in a blender with some water, pour into some ice-lolly moulds and stick in the freezer!

Homemade frozen mango ice lolly

We used frozen fruit as it’s a much cheaper alternative to fresh but you could use either. We made Huxley some mango lollies and also some raspberry ones, although the raspberry ones were a bit too tart and needed sweetening with something else.

Another fun alternative is to use yoghurt instead of water to create smoothie lollies too. We didn’t get around to trying this out this year but it’s definitely on our list for next summer!

 

Video: Nursery tour

So I’m probably a bit late to the party with this one as everyone else seems to have done their nursery tour before the baby arrives. Never mind. It still looks the same!

Woodland nursery art

We always knew that we wanted a neutral kids bedroom* whether we were having a boy or a girl. In fact, neutral probably isn’t the right word as it’s not beige or white, unisex is probably a better term.

Nursery bookshelf

I definitely wanted green because I find it really calming and I wanted it to reflect my love of trees and nature. A few weeks after we painted it I noticed that it was the same shade of green as the inside of the White House in The West Wing, which we’d been watching non-stop for months so I’m sure we were secretly influenced by that too!

Woodland nursery alphabet flash cards

We finished Huxley’s room pretty early on and it hasn’t really changed much since he was born, other than the addition of a couple more books.

Dutailier nursery chair & Ohh Deer woodland cushion

The one thing I’ve always really wanted for his room is one of those animal heads but I’d never be able to decide which animal to get! This elephant one is pretty cool but doesn’t really fit the ‘woodland’ theme!

Huxley's nursery

We never bought any proper bedding either as we always knew he’d go to sleep in a sleep bag so it will be exciting when he outgrows that and we can start shopping for some!

You can see my previous nursery posts here.

I was really influenced by Steph’s nursery tour video and wanted to make something similar (although mine is nowhere near as good & nowhere as stylish!)

Baby-friendly recipe: Blueberry pancakes

I know that pancakes probably aren’t the first thing that springs into your mind when you think of baby food but bear with me.

We have pancakes every Saturday morning. At first I was a bit unsure about feeding Huxley pancakes but when I thought about it they aren’t that bad. We don’t put any sugar or salt in them so it’s basically just milk, eggs, flour and fruit. Nothing scary there.

Blueberry pancakes recipeWe buy our blueberries frozen because it works out way cheaper and it means you can use a handful at a time. We just pop them on a plate and into the microwave for a few seconds when we need them.

Frozen blueberries

Huxley absolutely loves pancakes. He will wolf down the whole lot in no time at all. And they keep well for a snack later in the day too.

This recipe does 3 good-sized pancakes, one for each of us and usually has enough left over for Huxley to have a smaller ‘snack’ pancake for later.

Blueberry pancakes recipe

– 135g self-raising flour

– 1 tsp baking powder

– 130ml milk

– 1 large egg

– Handful of blueberries

1. Sift the flour & baking powder into a large bowl.

2. In a jug, whisk together the milk & egg and pour into the flour.

3. Stick your blueberries in the microwave to defrost until soft(ish). Smush half with a fork and leave half whole. Chuck into the flour mixture.

4. Whisk until smooth. It should be a lovely shade of lilac with all that yummy blueberry juice. (Add more milk depending on how thick and fluffy you like your pancakes – this might be more of a trial and error thing based on personal preference after you’ve tried this recipe out a few times)

5. Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and add some rapeseed oil or butter.

6. Ladle in some batter to your required pancake size.

7. When the top of the pancake begins to bubble, it’s time to flip it.

8. If you’re unsure about when it’s fully cooked, squish the top of the pancake with a spatula, if wet pancake mix spurts out the side then it’s definitely not done yet! The top should feel relatively firm to the touch.

9. For the adults, add maple syrup (but please buy the proper stuff and not this rubbish!)

Baby-friendly blueberry pancake recipeBlueberry pancakesDon’t worry too much about how they look, mine are slightly different every time! The above photos are from two different batches of batter and as you can see they vary greatly in colour and thickness! Both were still delicious though!

Blueberry pancake recipe for babiesAs much as I want Huxley to enjoy treats once in a while, I do worry about his little teeth now. I always monitor the amount of artificial sugar that he eats but sometimes I worry about the amount of natural sugar too as he’s like a little fruit bat.

As if raising a child wasn’t confusing enough, I’ve always been in a bit of a muddle about when I’m meant to start taking Huxley to the dentists*. We started brushing his teeth as soon as they popped through but I didn’t know when you’re meant to take them for an actual appointment. During my searches,  I came across a website called Toothpick* which is kind of like Rightmove for your teeth. Did you know that you can visit any NHS dentist that has an available appointment without being registered? I literally had no idea. I’ve always been to the same dentist ever since I was a child, which is miles away for me now as it’s still in my home town, but it’s nice to have an excuse to visit my nan.

I don’t usually post infographics but this one was actually full of really useful information about caring for baby’s teeth. I didn’t realise that you’re meant to start brushing babies gums with a soft brush as soon as they’re born! And it looks like I’ll be booking a dentist appointment for October for Huxley!

Children_Teeth_Infographic1