Archive | January, 2012

Sunday catch-up…and how to make crunchy peanut butter cookies

29 Jan

It’s been a hectic week. I’ve barely had time to go on the internet, let alone do any blogging!

I’m 32 weeks now. Last weekend I had a major panic about getting ready for the baby and preparing for a vbac. So I’m happy to look back at the progress we’ve made over the past week – we’ve booked a doula, properly started our hypnobirthing practice and are almost “officially” booked into the hospital’s birth centre. We’ve also started decluttering the flat to make some space for the new person who’ll join us soon. All this while I had a terrible head cold. I always forget how bad head colds are when pregnant – I actually had to take a day off sick on Wednesday as I just couldn’t get out of bed!

Today was a lovely lazy Sunday, with the morning spent at Finsbury Park’s playground. After my son’s nap we spent the afternoon making very tasty peanut butter cookies.

Here’s me and my son doing some stirring, with the kitchen looking relatively tidy (it was soon a bombsite of rice krispies and licked spoons!):

But the end result more than justified the tidying up:

It’s such an easy recipe, and so much fun to make with a toddler, that I thought I’d share it here:

Crunchy peanut cookies

Ingredients (makes approx 20 cookies)

1 medium egg
100g/4 oz unsalted butter (quite important to use unsalted, as most peanut butter has added salt)
100g/4 oz soft light brown sugar
100g/4 oz crunchy peanut butter
150g/5oz self-raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
50g/2oz rice krispies (we actually use Waitrose own brand puffed rice cereal, as it’s lower in salt)

1. Heat the oven to 190 degrees C, 375 degrees F, gas mark 5. Lightly oil a baking tray or use grease proof paper. If you have them, prepare two baking trays. Otherwise, just use the same tray twice and do two rounds in the oven. Beat the egg in a small bowl. Put the rice krispies on a plate.

2. Cream the butter and sugar in a separate bowl. Once creamy and smooth-ish, add the egg a little at a time beating it as you go. Beating it after each bit of egg stops it getting too lumpy.

3. Add the peanut butter and stir until it’s well mixed. Then sift the flour and baking powder over it and stir everything together.

4. Scoop up a teaspoon of the mixture and roll it into a ball.

5. Roll the ball lightly across the rice krispies to coat it. Flatten it slightly and place on the baking tray. Repeat until your tray is full.

6. Bake for 20 minutes (check after 10 – 15 minutes). Once they’ve cooled they’re delicious with a glass of cold milk.

This recipe appears in the wonderful The Usborne Cookbook for Children

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Why I hate the phrase “good baby”

22 Jan

I’ve been thinking about this phrase a lot recently. I know many people (including my mum) who use this as the highest form of praise for a small infant…and it annoys me so much it makes my teeth itch! A “good baby” is one who makes as little impact on the adults in her life as possible – going for hours between feeds from birth, sleeping through the night from a magically young age, not making a peep when she’s in her cot/pram/recliner.

Don’t get me wrong, my mum loves children, babies in particular (good thing, as she had 6 of her own!), and I know she’s just trying to be nice. Especially as she experienced all sorts of baby personalities in her own brood.

But there are many reasons why the phrase “good baby” annoys me…

Perhaps most importantly, I think it contributes to our society’s poor understanding of normal infant behaviour.

So you’ll get strangers telling you you’re spoiling your infant if you carry them (the first time this happened to me a perfect stranger told me I was spoiling my 4 week old son for carrying him in a sling – she said “why isn’t he in his pram? He’ll never sleep properly if he’s not in his pram” and I was actually too surprised to answer, how on earth was it her business?).

Or you’ll be met with horror if you admit to breastfeeding your baby to sleep – you’re making a rod for your own back! He’ll never self-settle! Are you mad?!?

Breastfeeding in particular is undermined by this mythical “good baby”. Breastmilk is so easily digestible, and babies’ tummies are so tiny, that breastfed babies are just not designed to go for hours between feeds (which makes breastfed babies more “challenging” apparently, though it’s more a case of the “good baby” myth rearing its head!). So having to feed just an hour after the last feed ended does not mean you have an excessively hungry baby, it does not mean you’re not producing enough milk (though your baby may be helping your body produce more milk by going through a growth spurt). Crucially, it does not mean you’re failing your baby in any way.

But where my real hatred of the phrase lies is that the flip side of good is bad. To say that this baby is good implies that that baby is bad. And I just cannot accept that any babies are bad. How can it be bad to have your needs for love, food, comfort, company met by crying? Why is wanting to be carried or in physical contact with your parents a bad thing? Why can’t more of us just accept that babies are babies and will behave like babies? It may mean less stressed out parents trying to raise some sort of textbook “good baby”.

Putting the “Eco” in “Economical”

21 Jan
We’re living in tough economic times. It’s stressful, managing a household when your income may be dropping or your job precarious. And then you find out you’re having a baby (or another baby) and your financial woes take on a whole new level – how will you afford all the stuff that comes with a baby? And how will you afford maternity leave? Let alone all the expense that goes into raising a child (according to some sources, it costs over two hundred thousand pounds to raise a child to adulthood in the UK today.)
But having a baby doesn’t have to break the bank. With a bit of time and creativity, you can take a frugal (but fun!) approach to having a baby. And by embracing your inner cheapskate you can reward yourself with green brownie points at the same time. It’s about putting the “Eco” in “Economical”.
Cutting back on consumption (reducing) and embracing second-hand or hand-me-downs (reusing) are two of the fundamental tenets of taking a frugal, green approach to raising a baby. And because it’s more economical, it means that when you do have to buy new you can afford to buy quality products that last. So you can either reuse them on a subsequent child or sell them on when you no longer need them.
So I’m going to start a series of easy tips on how to have a green baby just by being frugal. With baby no 2 on the way, it’ll allow me to refresh all the things we learnt with baby no 1. And I’d love to hear any frugal tips you have – what baby stuff did you love? Or hate? What’s your top green tip for parents or parents-to-be?

 

Blogging Resolutions for 2012

17 Jan

I’ve been blogging for just about 2 months. I started because I wanted a space for myself, a space where I could expand our experience of trying to live a greener family life. I didn’t think much before starting to blog, I just dived in!

I’ve really enjoyed my start in blogging though. Although I don’t think of myself as a blogger yet, if you know what I mean. This is still such a new hobby for me and there are so many fabulous bloggers out there that I think I’m still a little shy of calling myself that. But I spotted the Mumnset blogging resolutions blog hop and it got me thinking about making resolutions as a blogger. I really enjoy blogging, and I want to grow and develop as a blogger, so I thought it would be interesting to make some resolutions public on here. That way I can look back in a year’s time and see how things look. To be honest, this year is going to be so busy (with a second baby arriving and a planned move from London to the US), that I think making these resolutions on here is about the only way I’ll stick to them!

Here are my blogging resolutions for 2012:

1. I will commit to blogging at least twice a week: I’d love to blog more, but I want to maintain a blog/family life balance. I currently do a fair bit of blog reading, and even writing, at work (shh! don’t tell my boss!) but I’m off on maternity leave in early March so I’ll have to fit everything in around a newborn and a toddler. I want to maintain a level of writing and engagement that keeps it interesting for me (and for anyone reading!) but I also want to enjoy and cherish this time with my children and husband.

2. Twitter: I will aim to tweet more regularly. I like reading Twitter – so many interesting and witty people and organisations! – but I haven’t been as good at joining in as I could be. This WILL change in 2012, especially as it fills the gaps between blog posts so nicely. If anyone wants to follow me (and I’ll follow you back!) I’m @lowimpactmama (there’s also a handy Twitter button on my sidebar).

3.  I will embrace my Facebook page: I’ve used Facebook in a personal capacity for years but I’ve found the switch to setting up a page for this blog harder than I expected. So my aim for 2012 is to start to enjoy my Facebook page and for it to grow into a “behind-the-scenes” of this blog. So please do like Low Impact Parenting on Facebook (there’s also a button on my sidebar) – I’d love to “see” you on Facebook!

4. I will continue to read a diverse range of other blogs as often as possible: I love all the different voices and styles I encounter on the web. It inspires me to keep blogging!

5. I will support new bloggers and blogs as much as possible: I’ve found fellow bloggers to be very supportive and helpful to me as I start out as a blogger. I’d like to make sure I share that love with other newbies (as well as established bloggers I like and admire) so I’m going to aim to do regular shout-outs on this blog and continue to find and read new blogs.

That’s it. I’ll stop at 5 resolutions. I could go on and on (eg get my visitor stats up; think about self-hosting; think about reviewing products or services that match my ethical beliefs) but I’m dooming myself to failure if I take that route. I’m hoping I can stick to these 5 resolutions. It’s going to be interesting to look back at this post in a year’s time and see what I achieved…

So this is my first blog hop. Unfortunately, I can’t link to it properly (damn you wordpress.com!) but do check out the Mumsnet blogging resolutions blog hop for the other blogs taking part.

The Joy of Making Stuff

13 Jan

Last night I made this:

I know it’s but a humble cushion cover, but it’s the first thing I’ve sewn with a sewing machine since Home Economics 21 years ago. To say I’m proud of myself would be an understatement! I’m so proud of myself – I turned a simple piece of fabric into a gorgeous cushion cover. I made it. And this morning my son was lounging on it. Which makes me even prouder!

Anyway, I made this during a class called Learn to Sew: Cushion Cover+Floral Corsage at the fabulous Make Lounge. I’ve been wanting to brush up on my machine sewing skills for quite a while so I treated myself to the class as my Christmas present to myself.

And I am so glad I did. We had a wonderful teacher who guided a roomful of absolute sewing novices through the basics until we had all made our lovely cushion covers. I must say, the hardest part of the class was choosing the fabric from the wonderful selection on offer! In the end I chose a cute print by Eleanor Grosch.

Now I just need to choose my next sewing project. It’s going to need to be simple but I’d like it to be practical too. Maybe a tote bag…or bunting…or an apron for my son to go with the wooden play kitchen Santa brought him…

 

The Longest Shortest Time

10 Jan

I have discovered the most lovely podcast series, and accompanying website, about parenthood: The Longest Shortest Time (podcasts are here). The creator and interviewer wants to help new parents know they’re not alone and so is collecting stories from a huge range of parents.

Warning: will cause tears (but good tears I hope) *

I’ve just listened to the first three (short) podcasts and had tears running down my cheeks…I was brought back to those early weeks and months – the highs of utterly loving this miraculous baby who had grown inside me, of marveling over how myself and my husband had produced such a beautiful creature…the lows of sleep deprivation, of a stressful painful start to breastfeeding, of worries about weight gain, of wondering if it would always be this way…

Of course I look at my 21 month old son now and I know that the newborn stage really is the longest shortest time. Our babies grow up, and continue to amaze and delight as they do. But I’m glad to remember where our parenthood began.

* Disclaimer: I’m nearly 30 weeks pregnant so am perhaps more emotional about all of this than I would usually be!

 

Reflections on breastfeeding

9 Jan

A friend on Facebook shared this lovely Youtube link today. It asked parents to share what they would tell themselves if they could go back to when they decided to breastfeed. The responses are lovely – I particularly like the “Real men support breastfeeding” one!

It got me thinking back to when I was pregnant with my son and thinking about how I would feed him. I always assumed I’d breastfeed and didn’t think I’d have any problems, since it’s what breasts and babies are designed for. I didn’t think about it in much depth but assumed I’d breastfeed him for six months, when I’d introduce solids and switch to formula. This is what seemed normal based on the experiences of women around me. I didn’t really have any other template for the breastfeeding relationship.

But I had a terrible start to breastfeeding. Feeds were tremendously, toe-curlingly painful and my nipples were terribly cracked.  I was determined to fix whatever the problem was. My son’s birth had been traumatic and I felt I owed it to him to breastfeed him. I had the capability to find support to overcome my problems whereas he had no choice in the matter.

Finally, thrush was diagnosed when my son was 4 weeks old. But I had to buy fluconazole over the counter, as my GP wouldn’t prescibe it (despite me being armed with Breastfeeding Network’s great leaflet).  But one nipple wouldn’t heal, and was still so painful, so I ended up with antibiotics at 10 weeks. Finally, the crack healed and suddenly feeds were properly pain-free – a revelation!  Our nursing relationship immediately switched from a grim count-down to 26 weeks to being properly enjoyable and relaxed.

In the end, I breastfed exclusively until we introduced solids via baby led weaning at just before 6 months. I continued to feed on demand alongside solid foods. And kept feeding when I returned to work when my son was 12 months. It was great for helping my son transition from being at home full-time to being with a childminder 4 days a week. He eventually self-weaned at 19 months, which I was very emotional about – my baby is growing up! But I have this new baby squirming away inside me and I’m looking forward to having a whole new nursing relationship in the spring.

So what would I tell myself if I could go back in time?

Keep seeking support until you overcome problems – it’ll be worth it! And it’s OK to feel proud of your achievement.