Life is super crazy busy and tricky for me at present so I am sharing a post from the lovely Charlene who has written this guest post especially for my readers. I hope you enjoy it.
Charlene is a support worker and blogs over at The Moderate Mum. She lives in Brighton with her husband Graham and their son Roscoe. In 2016 Charlene will be embarking on Mission Acceptance, a year of learning to live with herself. If you would like to follow her mission or join in with the weekly challenges you can sign for updates here.
A confession – I didn’t really like the concept of breastfeeding. I tried to remain open to the idea when I was pregnant but every time I considered it an image of a dairy cow involuntarily popped into my mind. The reality wasn’t much better, it wasn’t that I experienced any embarrassment or discomfort, it was just a bit…blah. I remember a friend explaining how magical the process was; that after a few minutes nursing a comforting calm would envelope her and she would enter a semi meditative state. I found no such bliss. Most of the time it pretty much felt like I was alone, in the dark, watching bad infomercials – as indeed I was.
I’m not saying this to turn anyone off the idea of breastfeeding, it kept my beautiful boy healthy which was reason enough for me, and whilst the experience of breastfeeding wasn’t much to write home about the process taught me more about motherhood than I could ever have imagined.
1. Trust yourself. It’s nearly impossible to know how much milk your child is getting when you’re breastfeeding. For anyone that’s a bit of a control freak (and if you’re not one parenthood will turn you into one) this can be terrifying. There’s very little you can do to except believe in yourself and your infant to muddle through it. This is the case with many aspects of motherhood, when all’s said and done no matter how many books you read or opinions you take, you have to get on with what feels right.
2. Push through. My son was a sleeper when he was a wee one (not so much now sadly). Whilst these long stretches of shut eye were great for catching up on my box sets they lead to the excruciating experience of blocked milk ducts. When your milk ducts are blocked your breasts become incredibly swollen and painful, think PMS on steroids; the last thing you want is to have anything near them but the best thing to do is continue breastfeeding. That’s how it is with scores of parenting experiences – the broken sleep and the torture that is colic – you can’t go over it, you can’t go under it, you have to go through it. And the sooner you face up to that reality the easier it becomes.
3. It gets better. At first breastfeeding was awkward and really, really slow. I needed to position myself with about four pillows to do it comfortably and spent hours trying to get the angle of my little guys head exactly right in order to get the elusive perfect latch. Then one day I realised, we were doing it without even thinking about it. I fed Roscoe in pubs, in parks, on trains and on planes. I fed him as I walked round doing my weekly shop. One Saturday we spent viewing new flats and I fed him all day without the estate agent even noticing. That’s how it is with babies, things that filled you with apprehension become second nature in a few months or years. I sometimes think of those early days of breastfeeding when I’m battling with tooth brushing.
4. Stop and sit. Breastfeeding forces you to be present for your child at three hourly intervals or hourly intervals or in fact whenever they like because it’s hard to plan these things. I found this invaluable, I couldn’t delay or delegate it. I couldn’t force him into a schedule, I just had to be his mother whenever he needed me to be. I try to remember this when he wants me to do yet another round of ‘Row Your Boat’ or when he’s struggling to fall asleep. Sometimes my boy just needs me when he needs me and it’s okay to stop everything and be there when I can.
5. Nothing lasts forever. Even though I started this post saying I didn’t really care for breastfeeding. I sometimes see someone nursing and feel a pang of envy. Never has my body seemed more marvellous and perhaps never will I be able to offer my son something so exclusively. I see this in many other things, days in the park or afternoon naps together. One day they may all be memories and no matter how small or challenging they seem, I’ll miss them when they’re gone.
Do you have any breastfeeding or even bottle-feeding tips?
I cannot tell you how happy we were with our choice of bed and breakfast in Fort William. So I just had to review them because it was fabulous and you all need to know. I researched where to stay using Tripadvisor and their reviews were so exceptional, and the views looked spectacular, so we went for it and boy I am glad we did.
Treetops Bed and Breakfast is just outside of Fort William in a place called Banavie. It is high up on a hill so you are looking down on Fort William with an excellent prospect of the Mountains. And not just any mountains, but Ben Nevis!
We arrived after a long journey, as I am sure everyone does in the Highlands, to the friendly and welcoming JJ, the owner. He showed us to our room and announced that we had been upgraded to the best room in the place, and wow what a room. We stayed in the Great Glen room, which had the addition of a Balcony overlooking Ben Nevis. I have to say, that Balcony made me so happy, I could have just sat our there all day reading and staring at the mountains.
JJ then presented us with a warm pot of tea and homemade Scottish Shortbread, what a delight after 5 hours of driving. Not only that, he booked us dinner at the best restaurant in town, called the Ben Nevis Inn, what service! We did enjoy dinner there, but after spending 2 days in the Lake District the food was somewhat of a disappointment. It was perfectly nice, of course, just not exceptional. The atmosphere was very good, friendly service but served family-style (meaning that you just sit on a long bench with other people, not something I am used to though it was nice to experience something different.
In the morning we experienced the breakfast and I was blown away. The breakfast JJ served up was probably the biggest and best breakfast I have ever encountered in any hotel or B&B, there were so many options and each one was sublime:
- A huge bowl full of fresh chopped fruit and a bowl of yoghurt
- Juices and Cereals
- A freshly handmade smoothie (I’m not the biggest fan of smoothie’s usually but it was delicious)
- Home-made scottish porridge (absolutely enticing and my favourite part of the meal)
- Choice of hot meal e.g. full scottish breakfast, salmon bagels, kippers etc.
That is a lot of food to eat for breakfast, we literally didn’t eat again until dinner, it was so filling, but I couldn’t say no to any of the course, they were too irrisistible.
On our first day, the hubby decided to climb Ben Nevis, you know for fun, like you do. Well he never intended to climb the whole thing (because it takes on average 6 hours in total, depending on your fitness levels), but just wanted to see what the views would be like up there. So he got about half way and found a loch, actually on the mountain – who knew?!
I spent a lazy morning recuperating from the long journey, reading out on the balcony, watching the clouds pass over Ben Nevis. It couldn’t have been more relaxing.
The room was large and decorated beautifully with gorgeous little touches such as coasters of scottie dogs, beautiful lamps and Harris Tweed cushion covers. The bathroom was immense, had a bidet and a spa bath. We had an absolutely fabulous time.
I really enjoyed watching “Secret Lives of 4 year olds” when it was on about 6 months ago. Back then my son was 3.5 years old (yeah I know, fast math!) and I remember talking to my friend in the kitchen at work, saying how amazing these 4 year olds were and that I couldn’t imagine Nate being like that. I also couldn’t believe the gap in abilities between my 3.5 year old and those 4 year olds, they seemed worlds apart.
What a difference 6 months makes!
My son is almost 4 years old and now when I watch the new series, I was thinking, Nate does this and Nate does that, and doesn’t he sound like Nate, it was illuminating. I loved it when the little girl said: “I’m telling Santa and the Tooth Fairy!” So funny.
So I thought I would share with you a little insight into the secret life of my (almost) 4 year old.
Nate: Mummy that is where I worked when I was a grown-up.
Me: What was your job?
Nate: I had 10 jobs!
Me: Wow 10, what were they?
Nate: Well not 10 jobs, 10 animals, that was my job.
Me: 10 animals?
Nate: Yeah the animals are my friends, I have a shark, a lion, a tiger, a elephant, a cheetah, a leopard, a jellyfish, a duck.
Me: They are all dangerous, don’t they try to eat you?
Nate: No they don’t because they don’t have teeth.
Me: Why don’t they have teeth?
Nate: Because I took them all out.
We have had many discussions just like this one, he can go on for hours, spinning a whole imaginary world. It is quite fascinating to hear how his mind works.
I wouldn’t relish taking those teeth out!
One final thought from my 4 year old, but a little less risk averse this time:
Nate: You use the scissors because I don’t want to cut my fingers off, coz I like all my fingers.
Are you enjoying the new series of Secret Lives of 4/5 and 6 year olds?
I have always wanted to go to the Scottish Highlands, and with our son basking in the Spanish sun with grandparents, we felt it was the perfect opportunity to go on a really long journey, the kind that would be tricky for a 3 year old to cope with.
It’s far…the Highlands of Scotland are monumentally far, especially for a southerner. Have you every driven it in one day? Well we have, it took us 9 hours! At least on the way up we had the sense to stop off at the Lake District for 2 days, and what a stopover that was, wow! We did actually consider flying, and found some good flights prices with Easyjet (though all the little add-ons were annoying, bumping up the price), we found really good car parking at Gatwick Airport for less than £40 which I thought was a bargain, but the problem was getting from the airport. Unfortunately the closest airport to Fort William was Inverness, which is a 2 hour drive away, and that would have involved renting a car, so in the end we decided on a ROAD-TRIP!!
We drove from Milton Keynes to the Lakes and then after 2 perfect days in the Lakes, we drove from Windemere to Fort William, which was to be our base for 4 nights. It is a 5 hour drive from Windemere to Fort William (quite an easy drive though as it was mostly motorways).
On the way up we stopped for a quick bite and a short stroll around Loch Lomond, what a sight that was, our first taste of Scotland, not only was the loch gorgeous, especially with the sun beating down, but we were lucky to witness a sea-plane landing on the loch! My husband is a huge plane enthusiast, so you can only imagine his excitement. I even managed to catch a pic before it got too far away.
Next we continued on, snapping photos at every opportunity, and even almost stopping traffic as my husband slowed down to allow me some good shots (very naughty) and then we noticed all of the millions of points on the road where you can pull over to take pictures. Just as well really, otherwise we would have either a) crashed the car, blinded by natural beauty or b) taken to a scottish prison for reckless driving. Of course I am exaggerating, we drove perfectly fine, but it was terribly distracting all the peaks, mountains and lochs that only improved as we continued our ascent.
Speaking of driving conditions, we were worried by the strange and continuous road signs and warnings in Scotland, here are some of the examples that caused us to comment:
- Are your eyes fit for driving? (Erm, I don’t know, are yours? And what do you mean by fit? Also, what if I decide they are not, there’s not much I can do about it on the middle of the motorway)
- Check your tire pressure (What now? Surely leaning out of my window would be more dangerous)
- Fasten seat belts front and back (Well we still haven’t found any seatbelts on the backs of our seats) side note: I hear Ross (from Friends) screaming “FRONT AND BACK!” when I see that sign!
- Drive safely (I am, why do you need to tell me that!)
I don’t mean to be flippant, I do understand how important road safety is, it’s just that, well down south we don’t really have road warnings like these, and if we do, they are very rare and not so often, and not quite so bossy. It seems strange that people need to be reminded of these things. I am intrigued as to whether they work.
Back to the matter at hand, we drove from Loch Lomond and through the valley of Glen Coe, I didn’t know at the time that it would be my favourite place, but it is possibly the most beautiful place I have ever encountered!
The valley of Glen Coe is the result of and the remnants of a supervolcano that erupted 420 million years ago. Glen Coe is a very popular area for walkers, hikers, rock-climbers and for skiing. It was also the best part of our road trip, it is easy to drive through, a spectacularly scenic route for driving with a tremendous amount of laybys strategically placed for taking pictures and stopping for a ramble.
We arrived in Fort William (not the prettiest of town centres) and stayed in a gorgeous bed and breakfast in Banavie called Treetops. It was the perfect location, close enough to the centre of Fort William (5 minute drive) to pop in for some food, but just outside in a prettier area, on the top of a hill, next to the railway where the Steam Train whistled passed us twice a day on its famous journey to Mallaig. More importantly we had spectacular views of the mountains and a view of Ben Nevis from our balcony. We never tired of that spectacular view! Every morning, I sprang out of bed, opened the curtains and glanced out.
Some days there were interesting cloud or fog formations, and some days perfect sunshine. But it was stunning in all kinds of weather.
I can’t imagine trying to keep a 3 year old entertained for 9 hours, but for us, it was perfectly do-able, especially if you stop for frequent breaks. Perhaps we will hire a camper van and take our son next time…and yes there will definitely be a next time! Stay poised for a review of Treetops Bed and Breakfast, examples of Gentle Walks in the Highlands and things to do in the Highlands.
Have you ever taken a road-trip? Hopefully not a drunken, I lost my tooth, there is a tiger in the bathroom affair!
I want to share with you a flavour of my week, my faves, my inspiration, everything from books, movies, blogs to pins. It’s been a hard week because Nate and I have both been sick with a cold, but there have still been highlights.
What my 3 Year Old said:
Nate is convinced that he is a mechanic! One dinner time, after he asked us about our day, I said to him “so what did you do at work today?” he said that he was fixing cars all day in his garage, and went on to describe our cars, “mummy your car has giant wheels this big, and a button that shoots fire and it goes this fast zooooooom and it has monster trucks that need fixing because they keep breaking down. I fix cars and I even fix monster trucks but now it has petrol in, it will take us to my work.”
How cute is that? His imagination seems to have really developed lately, and he is creating this amazing stories. It is so sweet to listen to them.
What I’m reading:
Last week I read (listened to) “First we take Manhattan” by Collette Caddle. I haven’t heard of the author or the book and it was not recommended to me, it was completely random. I have just recently found out that my local library allows you to “borrow” audiobooks for free via an app (called One Click) on the iPhone (so you don’t have to borrow CDs like I used to decades ago). It is so brilliant because it is free and they have some great books on there. I borrowed “Inferno” by Dan Brown, which was excellent, though not as good as his previous book “The Lost Symbol”. So I borrowed this book because it was free and sounded good. I would rate it 3.5 stars out of 5, the story was intriguing, about a twin sister who goes missing, presumed dead. I liked the fashion side of things, the surviving sister is a hat designer – a milliner and I enjoyed learning about the business. I wouldn’t read it again though, but it passed the time enjoyably enough.
On holiday, based on a review by Hannah (Mums Days) at her collaborative blog: Live, Love Blog, I read: “How to Steal Like an Artist” by Austin Kleon and I have to say this is one of the best non-fiction books I have read. It was short but sweet, super inspirational and if you are a blogger or a creative, this will speak to you, it inspired me so much I hope to write a whole blog post about it. I must have underlined like half of the book and really hope to put it into practice. Thanks for recommending this Hannah!
What I watched:
I took Nate to the cinema last week to see “Hotel Transylvania 2”, it was a bit of risk because it looked a bit scary for a three year old, and he has recently become quite noise sensitive so I was really relying on the cinema to be accommodating. When we arrived, he backed away from the noise – pet peeve – why is the cinema so loud? Especially for children’s movies, it scares the bejusus out of them, or just ruins their eardrums, either way, please turn it down! I asked and they obliged so he watched it. He sat on my lap for about a third of the movie then was happy to watch in his own seat. I would say we made it through 3/4 of the movie. It was absolutely fine until the part when the grandad vampire – who was actually super scary, came on, and Nate got too scared, so we left. Up until that point he really enjoyed it. I found it fine to watch, not as funny as I would have liked but it was watchable, an interesting story of boy meets vampire, they have a baby and how the families try to bridge the divide. It is a good story about accepting “people” for who they are, even if they are different. Will this movie be suitable for 2, 3 or 4 year olds? Difficult to say, depends how sensitive they are, but it can be a little scary.
Post(s) of the Week:
I only posted once this week due to my illness, it was a review of my first Parragon Book, as I am now a book buddy, so check out my review of “Spot a lot Vehicles“, I would say it is a perfect travel companion.
My favourite posts from my fellow bloggers are:
- Carry on Katy’s post entitled “The Top 4 Toddler Tantrums and how to Handle them” – as usual the lovely Katy has produced a beautifully poignant and hilarious take on tantrums. It is pure genius and her cartoons are superb as always, what a talented lady, and as a side note, her boys are actually scrumptious and beautifully behaved in person, and actually kept my boy entertained in a play centre for 6 straight hours – a world record!
- Don’t fear the toddler tantrum because my other favourite post shows us the opposite side of toddlers. Not a Frumpy Mum’s post called “10 Reasons why your Toddler is your Best-friend” (it is actually a few months old but I came across it this week, and who cares when it was written) this post made me go ahhhhhhh, and lots of nods and knowing smiles. My 3 year old is definitely my best friend, and this post highlights the pertinent reasons.
My favourite pin of the week was this absolutely hilarious (at least I thought so) pin here:
Maybe it’s just my humour, I don’t know but I almost choked on my food when I read that.
What has inspired you this week? Have you seen any good movies, read anything interesting?