About Me

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I live in Kent with my husband, toddler Tilly (henceforth known as Monkey) and another baby due in November. We have two cats, Duncan and Lady Macbeth, and four chickens who kindly lay us eggs daily. We live in the picturesque seaside town of Broadstairs. I enjoy reading, knitting and cooking. I'm trying to be a bit 'greener' (not sure how successfully), and to be a gentle parent. Extended breastfeeding and co-sleeping don't freak me out, we use cloth nappies and try to follow some of the ideals of Attachment Parenting. If that sounds as if I know what I'm doing, I don't! I am also a psychotherapist with an interest in Focusing-oriented therapy, and I have a small private practice in the area.

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Happy Half-Birthday, Monkey!

I can't believe that my little baby is 6 months old! This is such an exciting, lovely phase in her development. She is becoming dexterous, passing things from hand to hand, from hand to mouth. She loves to suck on banana on toast, and licked a piece of mango with great relish. I'm sure she is going to be an early talker- she just seems so desperate to communicate, playing with sounds, fixing us with looks which seem to speak volumes. She plays with her feet, pulls her socks off, kneads my boobs while she feeds, gets cross when she's stuck on her tummy and can't roll back over. She loves to stand up and bounce, she hooks her fingers in mouths and pulls (ouch!), she's learnt how to splash mama in the bath, and cries every single time her hair is towel-dried. She is beautiful, amazing, and she makes my heart swell.

We've just returned from a trip to Bristol, where DH has been working. We had a lovely time, and Nanna and Grandad joined us for a couple of days. I did rather a lot of shopping, a disgraceful amount of eating, and even got some sleep when the Monkey rather unexpectedly slept through the night (a total fluke!). I'm not sure why she is sleeping better. It might be because she's been sleeping in her pram for the first part of the night (dark and cosy), or because I've started to swaddle her again with a light jersey blanket. It might even be the champagne I've been drinking ;-) Whatever it is, it has given me a chance to catch up on some sleep, ready for teething or whatever the next parenting challenge will be (probably having to face my NCT classmates after my controlled crying faux pas).

Monkey in her Sleepy Nico carrier, as we walked around Bath:

With Nanna & Grandad, on the train:

Monday, 24 November 2008

Should've kept my mouth (or keyboard) shut?

Do you know that horrible feeling when you've sent an email you rather wish you hadn't, and you're sitting waiting for the reply with a sense of dread in your stomach? That's what I'm sitting with tonight. One of the women from my ante-natal class sent an email to the rest of the group saying that she was going to be starting controlled crying with her baby tonight, because she had not been sleeping well. To be honest I was really shocked, she wasn't someone I was expecting to do that kind of thing. In the email she said she felt horrible about it, especially considering her baby was poorly at the moment and was also going to be spending her first night alone in her nursery. She wasn't asking for any advice, but is it fair to say that if someone writes something like that they should expect some sort of feedback? Is there an unwritten rule that we only support and not question one another? So far it has seemed like that. I ummed and ahhed about replying, initially deciding not to, but then I sent a brief reply, quoting what she had written, and asking why, if she was so sure it would be "horrid", was she going to do it? I signed it "With hugs, not judging, just curious", which feels disingenuous because if I am honest with myself I do feel judgmental about it and strongly disagree with controlled crying. But it's not my place to judge another's parenting, she has her own good reasons, and I should have held off. I think.

I guess I'm also struggling again with my own parenting style. Maybe it's easier to condemn someone else's choice than honestly appraise my own? Monkey has been in our bed with me for the last couple of nights. I bought a travel cot because we were staying at my Mum's, but couldn't settle her to sleep in it. I know my Mum thinks that the baby should be in her own bed, and that she should be able to get herself to sleep without being nursed, and for the last week or two I've been a bit swayed by that, I guess thinking that I would get approval if I could 'succeed' in getting her to bed that way. But it didn't feel right taking that comfort away from her, and I couldn't stick with it. I like having our baby in bed with us. She's tiny, she'll grow up far too quickly as it is, and I trust the parents who report that co-sleeping babies develop into confident, secure children who, of their own accord, decide at a time that's right for them that they'd like to sleep in a bed or room of their own. The inner voice questions this. Don't you just like feeling special, knowing that the baby depends on you? Aren't you being selfish? Shouldn't you facilitate night-weaning so that she can soothe and settle herself? There are no easy answers. Just more questions.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Winter Weekend

DH is away filming in Bristol, so Monkey and I headed to Nanna & Grandad's house in West Sussex for the weekend. Here are some photos of what we got up to:

We baked sausage rolls, mince pies, cheese straws and quiche for Tilly's party...

I finished making Eli's hat- at last!!

We had a snow shower...

The Monkey watched her first snowflakes gently falling...

We visited Great-great Auntie Doris, who was not impressed with Tilly's jeans and thinks girl babies should wear frocks!

Not feeling so great this evening. Monkey developed a cough last night so I didn't get much sleep, and this evening she vomited her dinner over herself, my lap, the sofa and the floor. I don't like vomit at the best of times, and this was The Worst Sick Episode So Far. I won't share any more details but for now I'm just relieved to be bathed, baby in bed, fire on, bowl of soup in my tummy. I miss DH and can't wait to join him on Wednesday.

Thursday, 20 November 2008


I've found the most brilliant website for editing, touching-up and adding text or effects to photos. It's called Picnik, it's free, and it's totally addictive. Here's my first creation (quite literally!)

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Love Folksy

I just spent an enjoyable hour browsing the lovely crafts for sale on Folksy. I bought this fantastic 'Spring Chicken' bag for my mum's birthday, and I'm coveting this bag but held myself back! Isn't it gorgeous though? I have a nightmare finding clothes for myself but could buy bags every day of the week. I'm even addicted to reusable shopping bags- I love the Co-op fairtrade ones.
I'm feeling very tired this evening, Monkey has had a difficult couple of nights and seems to have regressed in the sleeping department. Going to work on so little sleep is not a great thing, people really don't need to see their therapist stifling a yawn :-0 Tomorrow I've just the one client, Nanny C is monkeysitting, and in the afternoon my NCT group are coming round for tea and cakes. Gulp. I've been in two minds about whether to cancel my 'hosting' turn this week, but things are going to get busier towards Christmas so I decided to get it out of the way. And if that sounds like I'm a bit ambivalent about it, well, I am. I always enjoy it when we do get together but having 6 or 7 mums plus their ever-growing-in-size offspring squished in my lounge can be a little stressful for a control freak like moi, who has to keep in check the desire to plump cushions and straighten things up whilst guests are still in situ. Oh, I'm sure it will be fine. As long as I get some sleep...

Monday, 17 November 2008

Facebook Justice or Hysteria?

I've been invited (numerous times in the last few days) to join Facebook groups titled 'Justice for Baby P' and 'The people who did this should be locked up for life and I mean life' . I'm not sure how 'justice' can be achieved via Facebook, or even what idea of justice the 130,000 people who have joined this group envisage? The group itself contains mainly hysterical, ill-informed, vengeful poison, directed towards the people convicted of the neglect but also towards the agency staff involved in the case (social workers, doctors etc). The 'discussion topics' include calls for the reintroduction of the death penalty and requests for prison inmates to cause serious harm to the perpetrators of the crime. Let me first say that it was a horrific case of abuse and that I am as saddened and shocked as anyone that this can happen, but it does happen and I can't understand why this case in particular has generated so much vitriol and (what seems to me to be) voyeuristic interest. Thankfully there has been some intelligent comment, like this piece in The Times, which questions whether the public desire for the salacious details of this case is "violence-pornography"? Why do child-violence-abuse-memoirs like 'A Child Called It' become bestsellers? Do people 'get off' on reading this kind of thing? 
Another article worth reading is Anne Karpf' writing in The Guardian. She argues that the public focus on the failing of social care agencies and medical staff serves to obscure what we most need to face up to: the fact that mothers sometimes cause terrible harm to their children. We need to understand (she writes) what has gone wrong in these women's own childhoods to lead them to act in sadistic and cruel ways that are so far removed from our idealised view of 'motherhood'.
This post probably seems completely out of place in this blog of baby photos and knitting, but I just get so incensed by these Facebook requests and feel unable to respond in any way there, so I'm taking this opportunity to vent a bit. Might delete this post at a later date...

Friday, 14 November 2008

My daughter the Gnome

Meet my daughter, the Gnome! We were in fits of laughter this morning when Nanny C produced this hat for the Monkey to try on. As you can see, it is too long, but I refused the offer of unpicking it because it looks soooooooo darn cute! Busy day today but particularly unproductive. We had Monkey weighed and she's lost a couple of ounces in the last few weeks, most probably due to being poorly and throwing up her feeds for a day or two. I'm not going to stress, she's fine and healthy. I was hoping to get some party plates and cups for the big 'do', the guest list for which now stands at 61 confirmed (yikes), but I couldn't find anything suitable in Eltham and just got myself annoyed because it's such a horrible high street. Came home and managed to put a couple of loads of washing on before collapsing in to bed with the baby for a short nap. On the way to the seaside this evening DH and I listened to the first installment of our Harry Potter audiobook. It's fantastic and Stephen Fry is just the perfect narrator. I've also realised that this is the perfect way for me to combine two previously incompatible past-times: reading and knitting! As DH and I are listening to Harry Potter when we're together in the car, I think I will treat myself to a different one to listen to at home. Any suggestions? 

Thursday, 13 November 2008

What we've been up to...

I've got 7 minutes to update you on events at Clark Towers, that 7 minutes being my self-imposed go-to-bed deadline, introduced in order to minimise the unpleasant side-effects of breastfeeding the Monkey up to 4 times a night (yes, still). Knit-wise, I've just finished making Mr & Mrs Snow (see photo, if it ever uploads, it's taking ages). Next is a baby hat to finish, 2 pairs of mittens to make, and a hat for DH (though I have yet to find the right pattern for a chunky adult men's hat knitted on 2 needles). Plus I want to start making some things with felt, so a trip to Hobbycraft tomorrow is in order methinks.
Monkey is gradually recovering from her cough and cold. Hell, we're ALL gradually recovering from the cough and cold. Trust me, there are a lot of tissues being used in this household (note to self: get some handkerchiefs), and golly, babies do not like having their noses wiped. This I have learnt. I have also learnt that when your baby is ill it is the scariest thing in the world. In Other Monkey News, we are weaning. In typical Sam-style my impatience got the better of me and "mush" has been introduced (yes, despite my intentions to do baby-led weaning). In all honesty, with our concerns about Monkey's weight, there is certainly something satisfying about seeing something go in her mouth, but of course what's going in her mouth is not as calorific or nutritious as mummy-milk, which, thankfully, she continues to drink as happily as ever. We shall see how tomorrow's weigh-in goes. She is now beginning to play with some finger foods that I give her alongside the mush, and I am being really careful NOT to lead this myself, so I was very excited today when she put a bit of toast to her lips and sucked it a little. I can see that she is taking more interest in me eating, and I'm hoping that soon she'll progress to the more usual BLW-fare of roasted veggie batons, toast soldiers etc.
Bugger. It's now 13 minutes past my bedtime. Images still not uploaded. Will add them tomorrow. Night-night.

Pretty Sweater

Monkey wearing the prettiest sweater that Nanna knitted for her. 

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Another Wet Weekend

Another wet weekend in Thanet. Yesterday was spent tucked up inside, recovering from coughs and colds. Poor Monkey was the worst hit, but Mama was also suffering. Thankfully we seem to be over the worst, and after a terrible night on Thursday (we eventually 'steamed' the Monkey to sleep in the bathroom at 4.30am!) we all got some much-needed sleep. We ventured out this morning, stopping first for a tasting session at The Chai Stop We met some lovely ladies here, sampled their delicious homemade curries (the kerala chicken was delicious) and shared a cup of hot chai. We'll be back next weekend to make some purchases. Then we went to Pegwell Bay, site of a now-disused hovercraft port. We had heard that there was a coal seam and that local residents went there to collect coal to burn at home, and indeed, there was coal, although we only managed to collect a few pieces. It was pouring with rain and the Monkey was not impressed with being bundled into her sling and taken out. The photo shows Richborough power station in the distance. This weekend I am knitting Mr and Mrs Snow (!). I also bought a blanket to keep me warm at night when I've rolled out of bed on to the mattress to feed the Monkey. It's a cheap and nasty Tesco one, which I hope to replace with a nice woolen one when I find it.

Thursday, 6 November 2008


Finally finished Tilly's mittens last night and threaded them with a burgundy ribbon. I just LOVE the warm reds of this lovely Rowan yarn. 

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

A Day of Two Halves

I woke up this morning feeling really low and stressed. I completed my tax return last night and now have a grand total of nearly £2500 to pay. It's hard enough having to leave my beautiful baby to go to work, without having to give what I earn to the tax man, therefore not really contributing to the household (again). Not that I begrudge paying taxes, it's more annoyance with myself for not being sensible and putting some money aside each month.
I was feeling very sorry for myself when we went to collect Nanna from the station. I was heading off to Canary Wharf to have my hair cut, and Nanna was monkey-sitting. Last time I had a haircut I went 'local', as baby was too tiny for me to be away for a couple of hours. It was a DISASTER! Just when I was hoping to feel better about myself and have a little treat, I returned from the hairdressers looking like I had two haircuts in one, all short on top and long underneath, not at all what I'd hoped. So there was a lot riding on today's cut, having let it grow out for a couple of months. And such relief, I saw a fantastic hairdresser I'd seen before and she gave me such a wonderful cut that I had to hug her afterwards! I'll post a photo tomorrow if I have the time, but I LOVE it, it's all sleek and sophisticated, lol. I checked in with Nanna afterwards and Monkey was doing fine, they'd just been for a walk, so I took a little time to wander round the shops before heading home. Monkey was just beginning to wonder where her Mama was, and I had a lovely cuddle (and shed a few tears) when I got back. 
This evening I made Jamie Oliver's roasted squash, sage, pancetta and chestnut risotto (without the chestnuts), which was absolutely delicious. My foodie husband could find no fault with it. Well, actually he said it was a little under-salted, but my argument (accepted) was that you can add salt but you can't take it away. Tomorrow I am cooking monkfish with fennel, red pepper, tomatoes and herbs- watch this space!
Haven't downloaded any more photos yet, so for now here's a gratuitous shot of the beautiful Monkey, taken by our fabulous photographer friend Kev

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Halloween and Taxing Times

Such a wet weekend! We had friends to stay but the rain didn't dampen our spirits, lots of fun was had and, in my case, a great deal of cheese was eaten. I made the mistake of opening the front door to our guests on Halloween dressed like this (see pic), cue high-pitched screams from little Vari (3 yrs), who went on to amuse us with her comments about the baby: "she cries a lot, doesn't she?", "she can't feed herself", "she doesn't want to grab her toys"!
This afternoon on the way home form the coast DH and I discussed my return to work. I've received a couple of referrals this last week and I am just about in a psychological place of being able to consider leaving the Monkey for a couple of hours at a time. I'm lucky to have a profession which allows for very flexible working. I felt quite motivated after our chat, and spent the rest of the afternoon completing last year's accounts and beginning to file the tax return online. Ugh! I'm just spurred on by the thought of getting it all done and no longer hanging over me. It's a little depressing to think that my first few months of work will just be paying off the tax bill though. All I need now is a bit of professional inspiration, and that usually comes courtesy of Amazon, so I'll be asking a few colleagues for some book recommendations to get my brain ticking over. 
DH and I are returning to our diets tomorrow, and I've got a few ideas for Slimming World-friendly meals this week. There was a lovely recipe for a spicy sausage and cabbage soup in the Guardian Weekend magazine on Saturday, I'm also intending to make a risotto with roasted butternut squash, and a potato and cauliflower gratin. I'm going to get an organic box delivered, as we'll be saving some money from not eating out.