Well here I am again, posting two week’s worth of photos in one! I’ve been so busy getting through orders before th elast Christmas post day, I’ve not had chance to go anywhere near the blog, even less than usual. But anyway, better late than never as they say. Here they are being cheeky in a tent at a play group, and then cracking open the Christmas jumper season this week.
Looking back at my photos from the last week, I realise that I didn’t do a photo post last week – it was a very busy weekend with a craft fair on Saturday for me and Tom was playing the piano at church on Sunday morning so I had less time to think about it like I am now. But here are my favourite photos of the boys from the past 2 weeks. Andrew got to see Father Christmas at the craft fair; Granny was manning the stall whilst I went upstairs with him, and Grandad took the photo of us. Joel was fast asleep at that point, having been up since 4am, so he’ll have to wait until the Christmas party that we’re going to to see him – he probably won’t be too bothered anyway. Instead I thought this photo of Joel sitting next a monkey at soft play was rather apt – he’s my little monkey!
Not the best quality photo in the dim morning light, but Andrew insisted that I take a photo of them whilst they were sitting still together on the arm chair for about 10 seconds! Again, each of their faces is classic for each of them.
This picture was taken in the story chair at a park that we have recently discovered near us. The place is called Rowheath Pavilion, and as well as this lovely wooden adventure playground, there is a fantastic cafe which has a toy corner, and there are various groups for mums and babies/toddlers throughout the week – we went to the stay and play this week for example. There is also a park with a lake where you can feed the ducks behind the Pavilion. We will definitely be spending plenty of time here 🙂
I know this isn’t a great photo in terms of picture quality, but I love the expressions on their faces – Andrew doing his ‘fake’ smile because I had just asked him to carry on laughing like he had been until I’d managed to whip my camera out, and Joel doing a classic grin that he does so well. I have loads more photos from this week on holiday, but most of those will probably make an appearance on another blog post at some point when I write up our adventures for future Country Kids linky posts. So this has made it to be this week’s photo.
We’ve had lots of paddling pool fun recently. The slide that Andrew got for his birthday in the winter is really coming into its own now that we can use it as a water slide into the pool. This picture is what’s technically known as a ‘doubler’ in Andrew’s language – they both go down together, and seem to like it. I think Andrew stopped himself at the end on this one though, as the water was a bit cool still and he wasn’t that brave!
Well the official ‘wot so funee?’ linky is now closed for Christmas, but as we’ve already had quite a few funny moments in the past 2 weeks since it was last running, I thought I’d write one more post myself before Christmas.
First of all, Andrew was fascinated by the toy that Joel got from Father Christmas when we saw him on our train ride at Audley End. He asked what it was, and we told him – a snow leopard. Then later in the day he found the stuffed creature on the floor at home after Joel had discarded it temporarily. “It’s a sleper [pronounced as in leper], look!” I explained again that it was a snow leopard – a leopard that is white and grey instead of the more yellowy/browny colours of an ordinary leopard. He seemed to take it in. Until he picked it up again the next day and insisted that it was a “slow leopard”. I tried to explain that leopards are anything but slow, and I think he’s now got it.
Andrew is now very keen to tell people what they are or are doing, for example their age (if he knows it), whether they are a boy or girl, or if they are holding a ball/ cooking dinner/ driving down the road etc. This week Daddy and Joel have had some good descriptions…
“Joel, you’re a toggler, cos you’re number 1 now!” Ever since his birthday, Andrew keeps reminding us that Joel is 1 (or “number 1” to be precise), and I thought it was cute that he’s picked up on the fact that we call him a toddler now, not a baby.
“Daddy, you’re a pink dot!” This one needs a bit of explaining. Since Tom and I got cast off iPhones from family members who kindly gave them to us (we couldn’t afford them ourselves!), we’ve been able to see where the other one is using the ‘find my friends’ app. It may seem a little stalker-ish, but we only use it for family and it’s really handy to see where each other are, for example if we’re meeting up or if we’re delayed in getting home any time. The location of people in the app is marked by a pink dot, and Andrew has seen this as I have explained what I’m looking at when Daddy is a little late home and I want to see where he is.
Now that Joel is a toddler, toddling around is what he loves best. He’s generally good at walking, but he’s still a bit wobbly when it comes to obstacles and when he tries to run! So we get the inevitable bumps and knocks, which most of the time don’t bother him, until he’s tired and it’s the end of the world. Andrew is keen to point out when Joel has had a bump, and most often says “Joel hurt myself”. I find this interesting – he hasn’t quite got the hang of these reflexive pronouns. He knows that it’s right to say “I hurt myself” when it happens to him, but he hasn’t quite picked up on the difference between that and when Joel has hurt himself. Also interesting is that Andrew will say “Joel hurt myself” when he really means “Joel hurt me”, for example if Joel has accidentally thrown a toy at him or pulled his hair.
In my attempts to clear out the kitchen cupboards before we leave, I’ve been trying to use up all the food that we have, like tins, packets and frozen food. I found a bag of popping corn at the back of the cupboard which I’d forgotten I’d bought ages ago to make it up for snacks for us. So I made some every other day or so for a week or two and we took it out for snacks. When it was all gone, Andrew asked one evening whether we could make some more popcorn. I replied that there was none left, that we’d eaten it all. His reply was: “Oh…..well how about some sweetcorn?” I know he likes sweetcorn, but I wasn’t sure that he’d want to eat it on its own as a snack!
In all the packing, I came across some vases that we haven’t had out for a while because they are a liability with two small children around, especially as they like to climb. Andrew was ‘helping’ me wrap some up in packing paper, and when he saw a blue pottery one, he declared that “God’s got one of these!” Looking at it again, and talking with Tom about it, we suggested between us that it could be because there is a picture of a jar like this in one of the stories in his Bible, or it might even be one that he’s read in his Sunday group at church. It’s amazing what kids can remember out of all the stuff they come across in daily life.
And finally, one day this week, as we were sitting having breakfast as as family like usual, we watched the sunrise to of the window. It was a lovely sunrise, with lots of beautiful colours. We had our own running commentary provided by Andrew:
“The clouds are all pink!…. That’s funny…. The white ones are all gone….There’s no white ones left like on Teletubbies…..Now it’s getting orangier…..Now it’s getting yellowier!…..That’s pretty”
It occurred to me the other day whilst feeding Joel that I haven’t blogged much about our breastfeeding experience in the first 5 months of his life. Before know it, and before I can cover the kitchen floor in some kind of food-repelling forcefield, he’ll be sampling some big boys’ food, and slowly the amount of milk he will require will decrease. Not that this necessarily means the end of breastfeeding him – I’m happy to carry on until he wants to stop, and his big brother is still going at 26 months. But this has made me look back on these past few months and reflect on what it’s been like breastfeeding my second baby and how it has differed from our experience the first time round.
I think the main reason I haven’t blogged loads about it has been that it has gone much more smoothly. It’s just fallen into place and fitted into our lives in a much more normal way than when Andrew was a baby, so it hasn’t crossed my mind often to blog about it. The two main reasons why it has gone so smoothly this time are: (1) I was much more practically and emotionally prepared for what was to come – I’d done it before and knew what to expect, including knowledge of my hypoplasia and low supply and being prepared with an SNS (or 2!) in the flat; (2) I had a support network already in place for if things got difficult and I needed useful and accurate help – this came in handy when Joel was readmitted to hospital with jaundice, and when I’ve come into contact with health professionals worried about his weight.
I only started blogging when Andrew was nearly a year old, but if I had have had a blog back in his first 6-ish months, I imagine I would have been doing weekly (or more frequent) updates about how breastfeeding was going and how we were finding our way along a very bumpy path. Some days I was very positive and felt like things were going well, and then I’d have bad days when I’d question why on earth I was doing this when it was so hard and I couldn’t see the bigger picture. Of course there have been difficult days when feeding Joel, but overall they are been much fewer and much more manageable than last time.
One of the biggest helps this time is that I am an expert on our SNS! (Read all about what it is here). It took me a while last time to figure out various things about it, such as the fact that powdered formula made up with boiled and cooled water flows more easily through the tubes than the instant formula. Also I wasn’t confident enough to use it when we were out (other than at breastfeeding drop-ins or support groups), so Andrew was used to taking both breast and bottle for usually only one feed a day, and we didn’t go out to that many groups until he was about 5 months anyway – for the first child you can fit in around them much more easily than for the second. But this time, right from the start I’ve been more confident, and as we’ve needed to get out to groups to amuse Andrew, the SNS has come with us (though Joel rarely feeds when we’re out these days, but he did when younger).
This has meant that Joel has never had a bottle. In fact I tried to give him one a few times at around 3 months when I was worried that he was having to work too hard at the SNS and I wanted to compare flow with a bottle, but he refused to take one, no matter how many different things I tried (me/Tom, day/evening, warm/cold, 2 different brands of teat etc.) I think it’s pretty amazing that a baby who has quite a lot of supplement on top of breast milk is behaving like many exclusively breastfed babies do in this respect. And when I eventually did trick him into taking an ounce before he realised and spit out the teat, the flow was about the same rate for bottle and SNS, so my concern was quietened.
On the matter of supplements, how much is he having compared to what Andrew had at this age? The answer is I actually don’t know for sure. I didn’t write down what either of them have had as it’s just one more thing to think about. But it feels like Joel has needed less supplement over the first 5 months than Andrew did, which suggests that I have been able to provide more milk myself this time. The fact that we had to finish off some of Andrew’s feeds with a bottle as he was on a lot of top-up by this age, whereas Joel manages it all in the SNS very comfortably, also suggests that he’s needing less top-up as the second baby.
I should also say here, as an update to my previous post on weight watching, that at his last weigh-in a few weeks ago, Joel had put on a lot of weight and had gone up on the infamous centiles, so the health visitor at the clinic didn’t even say when I had to bring him back next to be weighed – this meant a lot to me, and took a lot of stress away, as we’d always been told to go back either fortnightly or monthly; the ball’s in my court now and I can decide when to next have him weighed.
When I reflect on breastfeeding Joel, I think about how much I learned from doing it before with baby Andrew. The first time around I just had to find my way as we went along, whereas the second time around I feel that Joel is benefitting from things I already know. In other aspects of being a baby, I sometimes feel like Joel is getting a rougher deal being the second child – he’s put down more often than Andrew was and has to share my attention; but then I think about the deal he’s got with breastfeeding, and I realise that he’s experiencing a mummy who is much more on top of things. First and second (and third etc.) children are all going to have different experiences, and that’s not to say that any are worse off than others, they are just different.
So all in all, as we approach the 6-month mark, when our society says that the end of breastfeeding a baby is in sight, I’m feeling very happy with where we are and how well we are doing. Plus I’m looking forward to the next stage when breastfeeding really isn’t all about calorific intake and the non-nutritional aspects like closeness, calming him down, getting him to sleep, immunological protection etc. become even clearer. Stay tuned for more updates as (/if) I remember to write them – I’m aware that I haven’t talked here about Andrew’s nursing at the moment.