Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Defying Gravity.

Yesterday was my four-year anniversary with my sweetheart, and to celebrate I took the day off work (and I'm taking today off as a surprise too! He's not going to find out until he gets home from 'the school run'!) and we enjoyed some real quality time together.

Painted in dark green from W7's Metal Nails range with Emerald City by Model's Own over the top

We started the day with a trip to IKEA, purely for the breakfast. We figured out that we'd have enough time to get out of Milton Keynes, do a bit of shopping and get back before picking Little Vintage up from school, so we took a trip to our favourite charity shop location - Leighton Buzzard. Let me know if you're interested in a haul! We mostly bought books for the children (because I've kind of got it into my head that I want to make World Book Day a thing every year!) and a couple of bits and bobs for ourselves - Cluedo being one of them, hello! - then went to Oliver Adams to pick up an iced ring doughnut with cream. Which they didn't have. After I got over that TOTAL DEVASTATION I grabbed a ham roll, a chocolate brownie and a doughnut with sprinkles. I couldn't decide which I wanted, so I halved each one with Oz. 

Swapping Ruby Slippers for black flats by F&F

Speaking of Oz (tenuous link there!), once we got the children home and changed and ourselves washed and preened, the babysitter (Little Vintage's Mum) arrived and we were able to go on our first "date night" in who knows how long. This is certainly the first time we've "called in" a babysitter for any occasion! We booked tickets for Wicked months ago. I had already seen it twice before and am just absolutely obsessed, and I finally convinced ZombieDad that he would love it too. (On an unrelated note, I'm thinking of changing what I "call" everyone on here. Is that just a complete blogger n0-no?!) I have no idea why I was so nervous that he'd turn to me in the interval and say "what did you just take me to?!?!" because he was absolutely head over heels for it. I'm so pleased! He was so enamoured he convinced me to finally get a copy of The Grimmerie, which I have been lusting after for years. Score!

Anxiously waiting to get in to the theatre at this point!

Today is going to be another day of quality time, but this time we're on our own until 2.30 - Tuesdays and Fridays are Oswalt's days at the childminder. I think we might go for our first relaxed lunch outing in god knows how long. I'm trying to convince him that we should go to La Tasca "before I start work at 2" as it's where we had our first date (plus it's just one of our favourites anyway) or even TGI Fridays or something else fancy (my idea of fancy seems to be pretty skewed...) but it's difficult to justify the cost, so we'll have to see. Either way, I'm looking forward to a relaxed day, just the two of us - even if it is going to be completely weird not to have children running around our feet!
Sunday, 23 February 2014

Our Weaning Story.

Oswalt is a hearty ten month old now (eleven next week! Oh my GOD!) and, obviously, what he eats is a huge part of his day. There are so many options for parents when it comes to weaning, from baby lead weaning (BLW) to home-cooked meals to purees from a jar to keeping them on the bottle until you physically can't any more. This time last year I was around a woman whose nine month old had never eaten and she had anxiety about giving him a yoghurt incase he choked, being lectured by a woman whose six month old was having Smash and gravy every night for dinner. Those examples are opposite ends of the spectrum, but for all of us Grey-Area Mamas who want to do things the right way but don't know what that is, things can get a little bit confusing.

NHS guidelines (as well as most parenting and weaning books you will come across) agree that the appropriate time to start introducing solids to your child is at six months old. We didn't do that. Oswalt suffered with awful reflux as a baby and, following months of different formulas and prescription medicines, I did my research and spoke to my doctor about the possibility of weaning him early, at four months old. Midwives gave a unanimous and resounding 'no way!' but the doctor said give it a try, he can always come off if he's not ready. By no means do I believe that every child should start eating solids the moment they turn four months, but I'm offering this to parents who are tearing their hair out and don't know how to make their baby stop vomiting. Do some research and consider it. 

We didn't go for BLW. In all honesty, I was looking forward to coming up with weird and wonderful concoctions, as if it made me feel more 'mumish' for creating foods for my baby and doing the aeroplane as I fed them to him. We started with things like mashed banana or steamed sweet potato, then once he had got used to eating we stopped making separate meals and simply mashed, chopped or blended what we were having. Life is definitely easier if your baby is having a bit of what you're having! He didn't have any packaged baby food until nine months old, when we got a few Ella's Kitchen pots for when we were having takeaways. Honestly, though, he didn't like any of them except the pork stew; even those for over 12 months were too watery, and when we tasted them we understood why he was uninterested and pushing the spoon away as they didn't really taste of very much at all. I totally get the ease of the jars/packets of food, and if they taste nice there's nothing wrong with it! It's just cheaper to dish up some of our meal to him, plus that way we know exactly what has gone in to what he is eating.

Now, he barely uses a spoon. Whenever we do, he tries to take it from us and generally jabs food into his eye. As much as I want to encourage him to use his own utensils, I don't think he's quite ready for that yet: it's much easier to empty his food into his tray (we have tried using the Tommee Tippee mats but he can detach them, and bowls with writing on the bottom don't stick properly) and let him pick it up and feed himself, which is developing his fine motor skills enough as it is. Of course you end up with food on the floor and a very messy baby, but he seems pleased by the independence. I find that you eliminate the majority of the floor mess by dishing it to him bit by bit. It's almost as if there being too much food overwhelms him and he just throws it away, whereas a small pile of food is manageable and he can work his way through that. 

I think, as with everything else in parenting, I guess it's got to be a trial and error thing. It's whatever works for your baby/toddler. Next step for me is changing his milk pattern once he turns one (he's currently having one bottle of formula in the morning and one in the evening, and sometimes a third with his afternoon nap depending on the amount of yoghurt/cheese he's had in the day) and I find it quite intimidating entering into the unknown with him once again! But let's be honest - do any of us really ever know what we're doing?!

Sorry for including bad quality Instagram pictures with this post. I post lots of Mummy pictures on Instagram (certainly far more than I blog) so to keep up with our weaning progress please follow Vintage Fee on Instagram.
Sunday, 26 January 2014

Lazy Sundays.

Since taking a step back at work (and moving to a different, much quieter branch) I have come to really appreciate my life. I have every weekend off, I am working with a group of people whose company I enjoy, the customers are much kinder and I am now able to structure my life around work at home as well as work outside. Don't get me wrong, this isn't my forever solution; I'd love to be able to work solely at home if I'm completely honest, but for now I am happy and things are really going my way.

Of course, this leaves me absolutely no time to blog. I finish work at 7.30 every weekday evening, so my routine is Oz bed, LV bed, dinner, TV, bed. Not the healthiest of lifestyles, granted. But on this lazy Sunday afternoon, when my other half is playing on his Playstation, my boy is having a nap and my girl is visiting her Mum, I have a pork roasting and a fully crossed-off to-do list for the day... And I am free to take ten minutes to blog. And so I will.

Life recently has been spent making plans. The children's birthdays are in April and we have successfully bought them all of their presents in the January sales. We're also planning to decorate their bedroom as a joint birthday present so we are slowly picking up/looking up bits and bobs so that we can carry out the theme we've chosen (it's SO good!) as best as we can. I've started planning Oz's first birthday party already too (seriously) and have even picked up the favours to go in the party bags. Yes, I am that Mum!

We intended to go to IKEA today to definitively choose their new wardrobes (among other things), but after 20 minutes queueing to get in to the car park, we decided to give it a miss and spent an afternoon in Tesco. We then came home just in time to watch the second thunder and lightening storm of the weekend. And that's that! Our lazy Sunday, just the way I like it. :)
Monday, 13 January 2014

Two Generations, One Family.

My other half mocks me. You see, I am a Center Parcs child and he is a Butlins baby. Every time I get something better than him, or every time I mention something expensive or indulgent, he replies with "yeah, well, we didn't all go to Center Parcs". And I laugh to myself - not because it's funny, but because when I eventually take him to Center Parcs on holiday he is going to have the time of his life. And I'm smug that way.

The 'Three Generations, One Family' video resonated with me. I think I went to Center Parcs (or Oasis as it was called the first time!) four times in total. We visited the branch in the Lake District each time, allowing it to become ever more familiar but never old hat, staying in different types of houses and chalets at different areas of the park. We went quad biking, rock climbing, horse riding, bowling, swimming indoors and outdoors, had our faces painted, ate fast food one night and fine dining the next, ate our home-cooked breakfasts outside as squirrels darted around our feet in the morning sun and allowed ourselves to relax in the on-site spa. Some of my favourite childhood memories are shared with my little brother on those holidays. And that is what I want for my family. 

I want to take Little Vintage, the thrill seeker, to zoom around on a quad bike. To ride a horse. To go and get a hair braid, like my Mum and I used to do together. I want to take her on a girly spa day and have her just as confused about why this water is hot and this water is cold as I was. I want to show Oswalt what the neon bowling looks like, and teach him to swim in a Center Parcs pool, so we can head outside together and swim under the sunshine. I want to show ZD how happy and wonderful and full of excitement a Center Parcs family break really can be as we round the day off by a dusk BBQ on our patio. And turn it from something to be mocked, to something to be excited about as we approach each summer. And what's even better is that one is going to open just a 20 minute drive from us - a holiday on our doorstep! I really can't wait.

This is my entry to the Center Parcs and Tots 100 January challenge. If I’m chosen, I would like to visit the Woburn park when it opens!
Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Parenting Log: Oswalt's Nine Month Update.

Man, please don't let my ability to remember to blog about my son be any reflection on my ability to parent him! I'll be honest. Life is busy, being with my babies and then working are my priorities. I am sorry, lovely old blog. You are not my numero uno. And so it bloody well should be.

Just a quick update, really. I don't want the rigmarole of subheadings and checking back to see how I laid it out last time so that it matches etc etc - just a nice little couple of paragraphs about how wonderful this happy little boy is. Because he really is wonderful.

This is Oswalt at nine months old. He has three teeth, a massive appetite and a wonderful sense of humour. He is most definitely a little person, who calls for Mum and Dad when he needs them, mostly whispers words then laughs at himself when he realises he's saying them properly and has whispered his sister's name only twice. He even said his own name clear as day once, though at the time he didn't know what it meant.

He says "cat" when he strokes the cats and "nana" (banana, not grandmother) when he is hungry and copies different pitches that we make. He took eight steps tonight, and is getting more confident on his feet by the day. He is growing up entirely too quickly.

He doesn't give high fives (unless you shout HA-FAAAAAAAV and he flaps his hand at you excitedly), he gives high fingers. He is constantly poking his finger out. If you extend your forefinger, he will extend his and touch yours gently. If his Dad and I both point our fingers out, he joins our fingers together then places his own on top.

Last week I touched his nose and he reached up and touched mine. It's a little thing, but these moments of "he knows that the bit on him that he felt pressure on looks like that on me!" cleverness make me really proud and excited to see him learning.

He loves to dance and sing (just "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAH AHAH AHHHHHHHH" shouting when music is on) more than anything else in the world. I am convinced he is going to be musical. He loves Sesame Street and The Muppets: Animal is his best friend in the whole world. He knows that if I say "gently" when he strokes the cats, it means he's too excited and he reverts to using one finger. He knows that "no" means no. And he most definitely knows how to test it. 

He laughs at puppets, silly voices, people falling over (sadist!), things being thrown/dropped and everybody who smiles at him - especially ladies. He is very much learning about separation anxiety, and clings to me as soon as we walk through the childminder's door. Sometimes he doesn't want to be around anybody but Mum or Dad, particularly when his teeth are hurting him. Speaking of teeth, he is obsessed with mine. He often zones out running his finger back and forth over them.

His hair is sometimes blonde, sometimes brown and very rarely a light red. He eats the same meals as us. His favourite foods are bananas, stew, marmite, lentil and squash chilli, biscuits and homemade pancakes with strawberry jam. His eyes are the same shade of blue as mine. He has my jaw line, his Dad's eyebrows and his very own cheeky smile. He is perfect.

I have no idea how much he weighs because I'm rubbish and haven't had him weighed for months! He's been in size 9-12 clothing for a couple of months now, but I think he looks about average. He's broad and stocky with short legs, which he can blame his parents for. Sorry Oz!

House and Home: Getting Crafty in the Kitchen!

This is a Really Useful Box.

This is an annoying pile of teabags.


Okay, so now that the Art Attack theme tune is firmly planted in your mind (you are most welcome!), I can share this adorable little project that the mister and I worked on this week: a space saving tea organiser! While I was at work ZombieDad and Oswalt went to The Range to buy a Really Useful Box and a packet of paper with sweet pink designs on every page (though I totally won't be going back - but that's a whole other blog post!). That evening, we cracked out the equipment and got to work on something that we hoped would be awesome, but weren't really sure.

We used: a pencil, scissors, a ruler, a scalpel, a chopping board (so you don't mark your surface!), some pretty paper, some containers and several kinds of teabags.

The method:

First we measured the perimeter of the inside of our rectangle boxes, and luckily it ended up being the exact same length as our square paper, give or take a millimetre that could be hidden at the back of the box. If you're planning on buying your equipment from The Range too, then the Really Useful Box and Papermania paper is a great combination. We then measured the height of the boxes, which in our case was two inches.

My glamorous assistant...

Draw a line two inches into your piece of paper then cut the two inch strip out. Measure the sides of the boxes, then draw lines up your two inch strip to correspond with the lengths of the sides - it should go short, long, short, long! Score gently over each line with your scalpel (DON'T cut through!) then fold along the lines to form your box.

Once you've got all of your boxes cut and folded, double-sided sticky tape your boxes thusly...

...and start sticking your paper in. It can be a little fiddly, especially if you want it to be perfectly straight. My glamorous assistant did this bit for me, I must admit! 

So that I could see which was in each one (otherwise it'd be a lucky dip of various boxes of teabags - or I'd need to identify them by sniff!) I cut the label from each teabag box and stuck it to a lid. Then I just placed the teabags into the box and put the lid on! 

I'm so pleased with the design and think all of the boxes look so sweet and pretty - a very welcome addition to our kitchen! Of course, now I have the task of buying six more flavours of tea so that I can fill every box. It's a hard life...

And now for the finishing touch, attaching it to the wall. We can't put anything on the walls here so we use Command strips for "damage-free hanging". They hold our giant canvas pictures perfectly, so we had no worries about them holding our tea organiser!

I would absolutely love to see if you made your own, so please send any pictures over if you decide you need a tea organiser in your life too! You definitely won't regret it - look how cute!

Thursday, 2 January 2014

How Not To Burn Out.

As I've got comfy in the blogging world and settled my butt down in my rightful space, I've found it more important to just read things than churn them out for myself. It's my way to ease writer's block and, really, to go back to basics and remind myself why I enjoy blogging in the first place: because there are some bloody good things that shouldn't go without being said and read out there. I've said it before, but I often find that the blogs I read are (probably not by coincidence) by people who are a bit like me - 20-something-year-old workaholics who should probably have been born as crafting old ladies - and the similarities grow by the week. In the last quarter of 2013 I basically stopped writing and dedicated my 'blog time' to reading, and I saw one common theme in a whole heap of blogs: we are all burning ourselves out.


Christmas is over and we're all either trudging begrudgingly back to work with sore bellies and sad faces, or we didn't even have any time off after Christmas. I get that this is the worst time of year to think about stepping back and not letting work consume you. But you don't need a holiday to have a break. I know part of my problem is that if I'm not working, my brain is completely switched off because I feel like it needs a bit of time to "heal", which is why I find it so difficult to blog right now. But instead of slobbing out infront of the TV, use your energy taking a camera out on a walk somewhere you've never been before, or even doing something silly like playing Twister with your kids (or grown ups!). I can assure you that sleep doesn't refresh and energise you like laughter does. And I don't know about you, but energy and positivity is just a stone's throw away from motivation.

Portion Control

If you don't need it, get it off your plate! If you can afford to, drop down some hours at work. If you've set yourself ten projects, just do one of them. You've got a life time to do what you need to do! The problem with people like you (yes you) and I is that if we've got an idea it has to be done RIGHT NOW or there's no point and we're never going to do it. So let's delegate what we can, ask for help when we need it and take a moment to decide what is really important and urgent. Control the size of the portion that is on your plate.

Organisation doesn't have to mean spreadsheets

I get it. We're all the same. I'm going to get ORGANISED! I'm going to make  TO-DO LIST! I'm going to categorise my plans by NECESSITY and then by TIME CONSUMED DOING THEM! No. No more. Get yourself a desktop weekly planner. Something clean and light and sunny. Jot down as few tasks a day as you can. Use nice pens and pretty handwriting because it'll make you happy when you look at it. Then undertake your task at as leisurely a pace as you want. In thirty years you aren't going to look back and think "I wish I had re-organised my bookshelf, scheduled ten outfit posts, sewn three teddy bears and replied to every blog comment all in one day back in 2014". You've got time. It really isn't important.

Take away the temptation

I used to have a Blogger app on my phone. Sometimes I'd write a blog while I was walking to a bus stop. Sometimes I'd write a blog on my 15 minute tea break. The quality was never high, I couldn't add the photos I wanted to and it was a rushed and pointless blog post that I could have done without adding. But it was THERE so there was PRESSURE to keep up. So I deleted the app. No more speed blogging. No more writing things that weren't worth saying. I can still jot down some keywords and type it up properly later. Ideas aren't time limited. And if it's worth doing, it's worth doing properly.

I know it's so easy to say these things, but lets be honest - it's important to me that you don't burn yourselves out, because I want to keep reading high quality posts about the good things in life! 
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I'm a 23 year old who wears floral dresses and blogs about life, parenting, charity shops and make-up.

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