Thursday, 19 October 2017

Breastfeeding into toddlerhood.



If you would have asked me when Oskar was 16 days old if I would still be breastfeeding him at 16 months old I would have sobbed and said no. Having such a difficult start, which didn't really get better until he was around 3 months old and the pain finally started to ease, breastfeeding a toddler seemed like an impossible dream. Going back to life before Oskar, had you have asked me at that point if I'd still be breastfeeding at 16 months I would have point blank said no. If I'm honest I thought, along with the vast majority of society, that breastfeeding past a couple of months of age was really really weird, and by the time they were toddlers, who moved and talked and could ask for milk, now that was absurd.


So what changed? Well I guess I became more aware, I educated myself, and I allowed myself to be open on this journey that is parenthood. See the thing is your baby is only ever one day older than they were yesterday, so it's impossible to land mark a day that it suddenly becomes the case that they are too old to breastfeed, if that wasn't the case only 24 hours before. Before I has Oskar I thought that babies only needed milk until six months, and after that they just had food. What nobody seems to tell you until you look in to weaning is that milk continues to be a baby's main source of nutrition until the age of 1, and an important part of their diet until at least two years old. So if I hadn't have continued to breastfeed him after six months he would have needed to have formula, and I hadn't worked so hard and put myself through so much pain for 3 months just to move to formula at 6. So we continued.


I planned in my mind to stop when he turned one. I'd had enough of being his constant and only milk source, I needed to stop and give myself some space. But by the time we reached his first birthday Oskar was eating three good meals, sometimes snacks too, and quenching his thirst with water. His milk feeds were reserved to morning, night, through the night, and nap times. The rest of the day he really wasn't bothered, and would occasionally sign for milk, or lift up my top and point to my boob, but the rest of the time he was happy to not have any.


See here's the other thing, society believes that when a baby can ask to breastfeed it's time to stop. He does ask for milk, sometimes often, sometimes infrequently if we are having a busy day, he signs, he pulls my top, he says "mama mu", but when he was a newborn baby, fresh out of my womb he asked for milk far more often, by screaming at the top of his lungs until I fed him. In my eyes it's no different, he just has far more advanced skills now, although sometimes yes, he does still scream at the top of his lungs until he has the boob in his mouth!


So what's it like? Breastfeeding a mobile, talking child with 8 teeth and the ability to ask for milk? Honestly, it's wonderful. It's an experience I am very lucky to have, and although it has required an awful lot of dedication and hard work on my part, I am now at the stage where I feel that is starting to pay off. We still feed on demand, although he now understands when I say "later / it's not milk time / Mummy needs a break now." Breastfeeding is much more of a two way process than it was when he was little, and he is starting to understand some manners... like it's not ok to stick his fingers up my nose, and I can't feed him if he asks me when I'm driving the car, for example. I feel like it's the biggest tool I have to help him through his toddler years, in so many ways. Not only does he still have milk to go to sleep, it helps him when he's hurt himself (which let's face it happens often in toddlerhood!), it calms him down when he is having a very frustrated day (again, often!), when he is feeling lost or sad or scared, when he's ill, or in pain, there are a multitude of reasons why he might need to breastfeed, not forgetting of course because he just fancies some milk!

 

But it is wonderful; he looks at me with his gorgeous big blue eyes, and grins his cheeky little smile, and we have a moment of connection, that runs deep and wild and free. He is my boy, I am his milk Mama, when he sees my breasts there is nothing sexual, there is nothing weird or perverted as society thinks there is, all he sees is his milk, his comfort, his Mummy. And yes, at this age we could transition him on to "normal" milk, but cow's milk is for baby cows, and as a non dairy drinking / eating family we wouldn't be choosing to give him the milk of another species anyway, it'd probably be almond milk. But he's not a baby almond either, and almond milk doesn't contain live antibodies to build his immune system, it isn't perfectly tailor made for him, and it isn't always available, at the right temperature, for free, and wherever we are.


So when will we stop? We are happy to continue to feed until natural term. Children have milk teeth for a reason, giving them the ability to latch on to the breast and suckle effectively. As their jaws grow they change shape and they lose their latching ability. So natural term means the point at which you are both mutually happy to stop, and this is definitely what we are aiming for, regardless of when that might be. Until then I will enjoy the warmth of my child snuggled in my arms drinking the milk made only for him, I will relish in the chance to watch his eyes close gently in the safety and happiness that breastfeeding brings him as he gradually falls asleep, and I will offer him the very best protection I can against illness, against pain and help him through this rollercoaster that is toddlerhood one breast feed at a time.


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Friday, 13 October 2017

The Wise House - how to be green and gorgeous!

We have previously written a couple of posts on eco friendly items that rather than feeling like a sacrifice or compromise, are actually better, more luxurious, and all round lovelier!
They included bright coloured stainless steel water bottles instead of flimsy plastic ones, rainbow bamboo toothbrushes instead of boring plastic ones, and gorgeous cloth sanitary pads which completely proved our previous opinion of them wrong, and were way more reliable and comfortable that horrible plasticky ones that end up in landfill. 



As we write a lot about products we use that are great for our child as well as the environment- cloth nappies, cloth wipes, bamboo toothbrushes, bamboo plates, wooden toys, organic clothing and eco friendly toiletries, we thought we would write more on eco friendly items for mummies (or daddies, or non parents!)

Two things we have recently started looking into are how we can be more eco friendly when it comes to clothing, and skin care.
For our son we constantly spend more money than we mean to on beautiful organic clothing for him, but what about adult clothing? (Although some of Oskar's clothes are so beautiful we wish they fitted us!) And what are the benefits?

Cotton that is produced organically uses much less water, and doesn't use GMO's, meaning the cotton produced is much softer. Fair traded clothing also means that fair working conditions have been ensured for workers producing garments. Today's society very much promotes a throw away culture of cheap, low quality clothing, but learning about more eco friendly clothing has shown us that often, buying less but higher quality is much better. 

We were given an introduction into eco friendly clothing by a site we have previously purchased homeware from, The Wise House. They sell an amazing variety of gorgeous products that are all eco friendly - we never visit the site without seeing something we want!
They also offer nightwear and loungewear, which we are a big fan of! Loungewear, or to us 'house clothes' - comfy casual clothing that you would change into after getting home from work to relax in, but wouldn't leave the house in! Kind of in between daywear and pjs, if you will. 
My favourite item of loungewear is now my tshirt from The Wise House. It's organic, it's so comfortable, and best of all,  it feels a bit more luxurious and 'nicer' than the usual old Tshirts and leggings I wear around the house!



It's a long length so looks great with leggings, has little side splits, rolled sleeves and a v neck that's not too low. In short, it's a perfect tshirt in my opinion, and is ideal if you're looking for 'good quality basics'. 


Although it's loungewear, I would definitely wear this out of the house! The top also comes in a vest or long sleeve, in pale grey, dark grey or my lovely off white one. 

Picture from The Wise House

The Wise House have also published a blog post recently about ethical clothing range including a brand Lauren and I loved when we were younger, People Tree. It's definitely worth a read. We also love Fat Face, H&M conscious, and Sarah can squeeze into larger kids sizes of the organic Swedish brands we buy for Oskar! 

Skin care is also something I have looked into a lot more recently. It's surprisingly difficult to find skincare that's vegan, cruelty free or organic, never mind all three. 

I recently tried the Evolve Daily Renew Facial Cream from The Wise House and absolutely love it. My skin has always been quite problematic- dry, but getting oily throughout the day, so there are few moisturisers I get on well with
Evolves smells like coconut and vanilla, and contains organic oils as well as hyluronic acid - an amazing skin care ingredient as it holds 1000 times it's own weight in water, and increases collagen production.


I've used it morning and night, and love the way it makes my skin so soft, but sinks straight in without leaving my skin feeling greasy. It feels like I have soft skin, not like it's coated in product. At £24 it is pricier than high street options, but comparatively priced to my usual favourites (Drops of Light Day Cream from The Body Shop £22 and Celestial from Lush £15.95). I would 100% repurchase this, it’s one of the best moisturisers I’ve ever used. 
All of Evolve's skincare is vegan and cruelty free.

You can try a 30ml pot of Evolve in The Wise Houses build your own gift sets - my pick would be the Facial Cream, a candle and the copper heart make up bag, which would total £28.50.
There are many other build your own gift sets of gorgeous eco items - they're great present ideas, I think they'd be perfect for a mum to be! They also have lunch bags, reusable bottles and reusable food wraps that come as a set, which are lovely. 
Picture from The Wise House
Picture from The Wise House

The Wise House has definitely inspired us to learn more about eco friendly clothing and skin care, and its great to have a site with so many eco friendly solutions. It’s such a good feeling to enjoy treating yourself and knowing that you are doing good for the planet too! 

You can get 10% off skincare and the organic tops from The Wise House using code ORGOCT

The Wise House kindly gave me a tshirt and sample pot of moisturiser in return for my thoughts - a blog post was not required, I simply loved the company and wanted to share it with others! Any other products mentioned were purchased by ourselves. Pictures our own unless stated.


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Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Part 2 - 13yrs: old meets new

Thursday

We woke on Thursday to heavy rain. I guess that a gamble you take when you decide to holiday in the UK, the weather is unpredictable in the very least! But we decided just to spend the morning relaxing in our cottage and enjoying playing silly games with our boy. He has started to really enjoy making up his own games, which he will repeat over and over until he can't anymore because he is laughing too much to move! It's lovely just to be able to enjoy being altogether. 

We were lucky though that the weather decided to change just after lunch, meaning we could go out and explore some more. After a quick look at the map we decided just to find the closest national trust place and go there, being members means even if we don't love a place it's a nice thing to do for a couple of hours. We drove through the countryside to a very grassy, secluded little car park and wondered if we had the right place. Ahead of us there was just a dirt track and a hill...and we realised we had left our trusty Tula carrier back at the cottage. But undeterred we decided just to walk for a little while and see where the path took us. 


Once we reached the top of the hill we were rewarded with the most incredible views of the countryside.


Like his Mummy S, Oskar loves the forest and immediately started exploring  - all those pine cones to sort into piles!




Carrying on through the trees we reached some caves, set in the most beautiful clearing, amongst tall trees and sprawling blackberry patches. It was one of the most beautiful, serene places we've ever visited, we completely fell in love with it. 




To finish off such a beautiful day, we returned back to the little hidden beach we'd loved so much. Again we were the only people there, apart from a man with his two dogs. The dogs were jumping and swimming in the waves, and we all had so much fun watching them, with us drinking tea and Oskar of course, sorting pebbles!


It was one of the most perfect days we've had, and one we'll all remember for a very long time. It just shows how spending time surrounded by the things and people that mean the most to you can bring the happiest of days, no matter how simply they are spent.
 We returned back to the cottage with happy hearts, and marked our last night in Northumberland by cooking a delicious Indian meal and enjoying a glass of cider or two! 


Friday

On Friday we decided to see a bit more of the area before leaving Northumberland, so decided to take a trip to Lindisfarne.
The drive was unique in that you are driving to an island, effectively over the sea bed, whilst the tide is out! Great care has to be taken to make sure you check the tide times, as many people have gotten stuck on the island!


Whilst we were there we made the most of the sunshine by walking to Lindisfarne Priory, which was built 1400 years ago. Now in ruins due to a Viking attack,  it is still impressively beautiful, particularly the 'rainbow arch' which still stands despite the tower above it collapsing 200 years ago. 


Finally saying goodbye to beautiful Northumberland, we drove on to our next destination of Leeds. Another location that held a lot of memories for us - we became a couple in Leeds on 25th September 2004, and lived together for the first time there for a few years until 2008. So this time we went on a little tour of old haunts - driving past our old neighbourhood spotting restaurants where we had enjoyed dates, little independent shops we had bought each other gifts from, and a tree with heart shaped leaves - one of which I picked on our 1st anniversary, 12 years ago! We also drove past the house where we used to live, which was so strange, and a little emotional! 
After so much excitement, we stopped off for a lunch at a cafe that was child friendly, vegan friendly and dog friendly (sadly we didn't have Willow with us!). Our food was amazing, and we definitely want to return to try the breakfast menu!



Our next stop was Roundhay Park, a pretty park near to our old house that was the location for many of our Sunday walks - we never imagined we'd be returning one day with our son! 

Saturday

We spent Saturday in Leeds city centre, visiting a café for lunch and wandering around the Corn Exchange, a circle building of quirky little shops. After a while it all felt so familiar it was as if we never left! But all too soon it was time to leave again and return home, driving past Laurens old university, and another restaurant that was our favourite date spot.


We returned home feeling many things - happy, peaceful, refreshed, and very much 'ourselves'. There's nothing better than surrounding yourselves with the people and places that make you who you are, and make you the very happiest you can be. It was wonderful, emotional, and so lovely, to look back at the places our love had began - aged 18 and 19, hopeful, optimistic, dreamers, head over heels. Now, aged 31 and 33 we have experienced the highs and life has to offer. We've graduated university, gained and lost jobs, travelled to ten countries, been to incredible places, moved out, grew up together, bought a house, got a dog, got engaged, got married, became mothers. We have laughed, argued, and fell more in love with each other with each passing year. Why? Because we knew, thirteen years ago that we had found our One, so we didn't need to keep looking. Neither of us were looking for love at that time - L was about to move away for uni, S was a free spirit in love with music and her friends - it definitely took someone special to turn both of our heads! But over the years we grew together, becoming each others support or safety - no matter what happens in life, we know it will be ok, because it always is, because we have each other. We know each other strengths and weaknesses, we make each laugh like no one ever has. And after thirteen years, we'll still excited for what the future will bring for us. Here's to 113 more!


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Sunday, 24 September 2017

Part 1 - 13 years:old meets new

On 25th September we celebrated our thirteenth anniversary of being together! We wanted to do something a bit different, especially as our usual anniversary dates of spa dates/drinks/dinner are a thing of the past now we have a little one! We wanted something that would celebrate our lives as a family, as well as remembering all the things that got us to where we are now. 
So we decided on a trip away! We booked a cottage in Northumberland, to explore a beautiful new place, and spend time together. We also factored in a couple of stop-offs that would be trips down memory lane! Here's the first little diary of how our week went:

Sunday

We decided to split our long drive up to Northumberland with a night in Sheffield , as it was about half way, and was home to a vegan restaurant we'd wanted to try for ages! We couldn't go without inviting our lovely friends Becky and Janay, and their beautiful son along, so we all met up at Burger Lols! 
I can honestly say my burger (mac n cheese, seitan patty, bacon, onion rings!) was the best burger ever! Not content with our calorie intake, we had to give the amazing Freakshakes a try too - they are a sight to behold!


After finishing our nice healthy dinner and walking off some of the carbs, we said goodbye to the girls and Oskar's little buddy, and checked into an air bnb for the night. 

Tuesday 

Monday was spent travelling up to cottage number two, in our holiday destination of Northumberland. Upon arrival, we spent a lovely afternoon relaxing and cooking together - so peaceful! 
On Tuesday we woke to beautiful sunshine, so decided to go to Seahouses, a large village within the Notthumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. And beautiful it was! We had an amazing walk along the cliffs and down onto the beach below. 




On our way home we drove past another beach - it was a tiny little cove down some steps, so we decided to return later on, with our play mat, Oskar's swimsuit, and reusable cups of tea! We were the only people there apart from a few dog walkers, and as Lauren especially loves the ocean, we had a lovely time sat watching the waves together. (Meanwhile Oskar had great fun sorting the pebbles and seaweed into piles!) 


Wednesday 

On Wednesday we decided to relive one of our earliest memories, and take a day trip to Edinburgh, as it's only 45 minutes from Northumberland (and a beautiful journey).
We spent our first New Year's Eve together at a concert and fireworks in the Castle Gardens, when we had been together just 3 months. This was back in 2004 so a definite blast from the past! 
One of our first stops was for lunch (of course!) so we went to The Pakora Bar - a small restaurant serving amazing authentic Indian food, with lots of veggie and vegan options. The staff was so lovely, chatting to us about the Punjab food and culture, and commenting that Oskar was the best behaved (and tallest!) one year old they had ever seen! 
We had an amazing lunch of daal and Pakora, which definitely got us ready to explore the city. 


Edinburgh is such a beauty city, we spent hours just taking in the sights, and of course taking Oskar to the castle gardens! It was very surreal to wander through the same place we did many years ago, but such a wonderful feeling to return as a happily married couple, accompanied by our son. Our 18 and 20 year old selves would have thought it a dream come true (and also that as 31 and 32, we were ancient!) 

Our trip was only half way through, and already we had seen beautiful new places and relived old memories. There was something very serendipitous about being back in old places, with our son, almost like we had come full circle. We drove back to Northumberland along the coast feeling very nostalgic, and discussing how different life has become to the last time we were there, and yet so much of who we were then we still are now. Just with more love, less sleep and a few more bills to pay!

In the second part of our diary of our wonderful week away we will document the latter part of the week, our return home including revisited Leeds, where we spent the first four years of our relationship and many happy times together. 


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