ONE MAMA’S BUMP DIARY (weeks 23-25)

baby bump soft

The bump is big. Yes, yes it is… I am growing a human.

My inner critic has been harassing me a little this week, despite the fact that I am not enormous or about to keel over with obesity but we all have these moments of self-doubt, (don’t we?) and for some reason mine was this week. I’ve not been eating as well as I should have. I’ve had far too many cravings for ludicrous coloured ice creams dipped with hundreds and thousands of hundreds and thousands and I’ve been eating a LOT of chocolate not to mention drinking a gallon of ribena each day! so all in all I think we can safely say “Mama’s got a sweet tooth!”

Aside from that, I also haven’t been sleeping that well as I can’t seem to get comfy now I’m that little bigger and feeling rather more cumbersome. I’m a little snappy with my husband and have already started to feel a little bit like I am nesting. He is well accustomed to it now it’s round too but I still feel bad. Hope he knows it’s the hormones and not actually ‘me’. I think he does (fingers crossed).

But it has been a good week for self-loving though and this is what we are going to talk about in my “Glow with the Flow” session this week.

Here are my self love activities that I can tick off:

SELF-LOVE

  • given myself about 4 facials in a fortnight. Cleanse, tone and moisturise. I use a bamboo flannel and take 10 minutes to really relax and treat myself.
  • gone to the woods. Freddie and I go pretty much every Friday. He loves it, I love it and being outside in nature does wonders for the soul – fact.
  • looked though old photos of Freddie and reminded myself how far I’ve come as his mama and what I’ve learned along the way.
  • taken a load of naps  – the best being yesterday’s 2 and a half hour one and I still managed bed at normal time! Thank you my man!
  • had a coffee with fellow mama. So good to be able to share this world of motherhood
  • read my book (this is such a rarity but o so good for the soul!)
  • chatted on the phone to bestest friends – nothing better.
  • went swimming in my PJs  – not quite as liberating as skinny dipping but fun all the same!
  • did yoga and balanced with the best of them – gave myself the kudos!
  • cooked, baked, sewed made smoothies and scrapbooked!
  • My little one and I have also crafted together but will be writing about that in a separate post soon. ( Easter crafts)

I hope this inspires you to do a little of all the things you love and see how much better you feel in mind and body.

signature

Ice Ice MILK Baby!

Get yourself down to Pamphill Farm shop and visit the milk vending machine. It’s tastes amazing AND you will feel good by reducing your plastic waste! WIN WIN

ladies cows

Today Freddie and I took a drive to Pamphill, Wimborne after a friend of mine mentioned yesterday that there is a milk vending machine there, and not just any old milk….cold, fresh and free range milk. I was intrigued. A milk drive through… Perfect! The little man is moving onto cows’ milk and what better possible introduction than with milk from local cows (that we can actually see in the field) and from a traditional family farm in the heart of Dorset.

The milk is produced in the Allen Valley surrounding Wimborne and Pamphill and the farm is based on the National Trust’s Kingston Lacy estate. The free ranging Friesian herd graze on lush pastures surrounding the farm for as many months of the year as possible and all calves are reared by the family themselves as well as feed for the cattle being grown on the farm too.

What made today even better, not just the fact that the milk tasted AMAZING but the fact that when we arrived the farmer himself was there too! So we had a first hand demonstration on how to use the machine and it was easy peasy!

  1. Make sure you have at least two pound coins with you as the machine only takes pound coins.
  2. Put the first £1 into the slot on the left. Press the button above and the bottle will be dispensed with lid attached. Do not despair though,there are extra lids available in a tub on the top of the machine.
  3. Open the door and place the bottle at a slight angle underneath the dispenser
  4. Put in your pound coin on the right and then press the start button and watch the creamiest milk ever flow into your bottle.
  5. The machine will automatically stop when bottle is full.

And that is it!

The vending machine is open 24 hours a day so there is no excuse to ever run out of milk plus with reusable glass bottles available from the vending machine as well, you will always be able to take your milk home.

This is a great way to avoid using plastic and to really help the environment plus great to know we are helping the community too.

Allen Valley Milk is certainly a hit in our household and I am sure I am not the only one!

signature

mmmmooo

C A M P B E S T I V A L

An insight into festival life this summer, with a baby in tow ….

It’s been a week back from the fun fest…..

Some thought us mad taking our 11 month old son with us to a festival, others thought us brave, some gave us an impressed nod and others thought we were totally crazy but my husband and I had never been to a festival… so when your mate says let’s meet at Camp Bestival 2018, I’m working and can sort you some tickets…. and then someone else says they have craft work for you and want you to help out with am exclusive private breakfast gathering, We were hardly going to say no to the hottest family festival around!!!

The theme this year at Camp Bestival was “Set Sail” and I couldn’t wait to get involved! Dress up is something I love to do, stemming from my love of theatre and I couldn’t wait to plan my outfits! I thought I’d down well with my look but my goodness were there some fabulous sights! People really went to town and I figured as long as you have something to give a little nod to the theme you’ll blend right in! I was of course anticipating lots of glitter and sparkle but I’ve never seen so many face gems and sparkly make up. It was like a glitter confetti gun exploded and everyone was like “shoot me, shoot me!”

Obviously being a festival organised by the very talented Rob Da Bank, I was expecting some great music but the line up was truly fantastic. There was such an eclectic mix of new/ fab music reverberating with crystal clarity around the Lulworth Estate as well as the awesome headliners, Rick Astly, Clean Bandit and some genuine favourites; The Cuban Brothers who bizarrely I remember gigged at Goldsmiths’ Club Sandwich! We picnicked on Friday afternoon right by the main stage and were treated to artists Dodi and Rae Morris. Both beautiful singer song writers with stunning voices, not out of place on your Spotify playlists and for a while we revelled in the joys of listening to live music al fresco and it was bliss. There was so much to see and do with such a variety of genres and activities you could never get through all of it in a weekend. But that’s the beauty… you’ll always leave wanting more.

The food options were also amazing and at times it was hard to decide which stall to go to. There was everything from Pad Thai, organic burgers, fresh oysters, burritos, vegan establishments, sushi, and Ghanaian cuisine to name only a few. A serious feast fest known as the Feast Collective and perfect when you all fancy different things for lunch/dinner. We enjoyed the thumping tunes from DJ BBQ and his 21 hour smoked pulled pork but perhaps not the place to head towards if you are vegan.

Camp Bestival really was a feast for the senses and the most exciting, enthralling, magical, enchanting, dazzling, intoxicating weekend ever that tired us out (in a good way) and meant we all slept for 10+ hours after we made a swift escape before the storm hit and the rest of the festival was cancelled.

It was also the first time we have ever camped with a baby and we definitely learnt a few things this weekend when it comes to packing and being festival virgins! Can you ever really be prepared for camping in 40mph winds with an 11 month old?

Here are our top 10 tips for camping at a festival with a babe in arms:

1️⃣ 🎒PACK LIGHT – you most definitely won’t need everything you have packed and I know this because I packed for every possible eventuality. I can’t help it now I am a mama – it’s like I’m in competition with myself to be ready for anything. However when your pitch is 4 fields away from your car and your poor husband is doing shuttle runs with 5 times his body weight and he says to you “I’ve only bought the essentials some things I’ve left”, you nod (pray he has bought the pillows) and realise that you can survive with the bare minimum.

2️⃣ BUT BE PREPARED – still make sure you have your rain mac, sunnies, suncream and boots to hand because you just never know when the weather will change.

3️⃣ 🏡HOME COMFORTS – dummies, familiar foods, toys, books, blankets it’s amazing how little ones relate to things they recognise especially if you are sleeping in a tent for the first time. We took our travel cot with the hope Freddie would sleep easy.

4️⃣ 💰CASH – sometimes it’s just good to have some on you especially when to rent a trolley you might need a large deposit.

5️⃣ 👶🏼🍼 BABY GEAR – you need to keep Baby warm at night so don’t forget the warm sleeping bag. Sleep suits and vests are great to layer up and it’s worth packing an extra blanket. Ear defenders are also a must for little ears to protect them from the loud sounds of a music festival! Don’t forget the dummy and ready made milk and I packed pouch food to make it simple.

6️⃣ 📆 PLANNING vs SPONTANEITY – we didn’t plan to see a particular artist, or event this year as we just wanted to get a feel for what a festival is like so we wandered around taking in all the sights and sounds. Next time though we think we might read through the programme in more detail and make a mini plan of the things we’d like to see/ do/ visit etc. We were lucky enough to see some great stuff though just by wandering aimlessly around and that, I guess, is the beauty of a festival!

7️⃣ 📝 ESSENTIAL ITEMS:

* Trolley – to cart everything including your child/ children (lots of families have them and decorate them too! Not sure how great they would be in mud though.

* Torch -you will need one. We took head torches as easy to carry and I like to be hands free but we also found our tent lantern really useful for those midnight nappy changes.

* Bin liners – for everything – keeps the tent organised, everything cleared away and when you leave you’ll feel good for having kept Britain tidy!

* Bucket – I hate to admit it but sometimes when you have to go you have got to go and the toilets are just too far away and when there are people all around……only a bucket and a bag will do!

* Toilet roll – for in the campsite but also during the day at the festival when the toilets have usually run out of toilet roll.

* Rucksack – to carry all essential items for the day without having to head back to the tent.

8️⃣ 🦄 FANCY DRESS – there is no hiding from it I’m afraid and anything goes, So my advice is embrace it and immersed yourself in the glitterati! Don’t forget a mirror so you can actually see where you are putting the gems and remember the face wipes if you like to sleep fresh – although part of the festi vibe is to rock that glitter for as long as possible! Each year there is a theme too so make sure you keep up to date and I like to do a few searches on the internet to get a little inspo!

9️⃣ 💧WATER – I’d suggest to take your own water bottle that you can fill up on site but also bring a couple of bottles of water to keep on the tent. You never know when you might have to wash or warm some milk. Plus remember to drink lots – festivals are very thirsty work as you do not want a dehydration head ache!

🔟 💤 NAP – key. We were not really there long enough but it would be my top tip. Give yourself and your little ones time to nap and recharge before heading back out into the craziness… we headed back to the tent for tea around 4/30ish to keep a little routine with babe but find what works for your family.

I hope this proves it can be done and gives you confidence. It was an adventure but one we won’t forget!

A Positive Birth Story

A positive birth story full of truth, drama and magic.

 

IMG_1792

It was my first pregnancy and I was too scared to plan a home birth for my first one. I didn’t know what to expect and it being my first time I was frightened. I’m not a lover of hospitals and so we opted for a middle ground and booked us into the midwife led birthing Centre. I felt happy I could use the birthing pool as I had always envisaged a water birth and having looked around it felt like a home away from home.

2017, it was a hot August and I felt huge, could barely see my toes and  I had been working right up until 38 weeks as a primary school teacher and I was tired, slow and ready for baby. Despite the uncomfortableness I felt awash with love and excitement about meeting this little babe that I had grown inside me for 9 months and I like to think I was “glowing”.  I had the most amazing class of children and I felt so lucky that I could share my pregnancy with them as they watched me grow; to see how my body changed, stretched and nurtured this precious being inside me. It was such a treat for them to witness nature and new life first hand.

IMG_2108

 

On the morning of 11th August I thought my waters had broken. I couldn’t be sure as it was not a huge amount of fluid, so we went to the birthing centre, just incase,  to be checked over. Nothing was conclusive but I was told,  if I didn’t go into labour that night then I would need to contact the hospital to check my waters and to ensure the baby was ok. Change of plan number 1. I was not allowed to go to the irthing centre anymore as if my waters had broken there could have been risk of infection. This was the first metal test to now being to visualise myself in hospital.  The next morning we went for a walk to see if that would get things moving. Broadwater Warren was laced with purple heather and it was beautiful, Tom and I discussed baby names, took in the views and enjoyed our few hours of being ‘just us’, before I got far too sweaty and could barely walk another few steps without waddling!

IMG_2460
The morning of Freddie’s birth

We went to the hospital that afternoon and baby was monitored, my waters had definitely broken and so we were given until the following morning to go into labour. Change of plan number 2.  I would not be allowed a water birth now, as my waters had broken. All fine with baby and the midwives said that if baby didn’t come that night then we were going to be booked in for an induction the next day.  Change of plan number 3. If I’m totally honest I didn’t want to go for an induction. I had had a near perfect pregnancy, very organic and natural and I just didn’t want to be in hospital. Next test I faced was to really begin to imagine me being in hospital and getting my head around that with the used of labour inducing hormones.

But… that night on the way home we stopped off for pizza. On the way back home I did feel a couple of twinges but nothing serious. It felt a little like a period pain but nothing to rave about but we did get a little excited. We ate,  I bounced on the ball, we played cards and called my mom to let her know what the plan was for the morning. I would call first thing when I knew the time I was given for an induction so she had enough time to get over from France on the shuttle.  I reread my affirmations and focussed on my breathing and we decided to download an app to monitor contractions. According to the app, things were ramping up fast and we were instructed to pack the hospital bag and get the car seat ready. We laughed it off.  I went to have a bath with a couple of drops of clary sage and Tom made me a cup of tea. We carried on playing cards but I felt the contractions getting stronger and so went upstairs again but can’t remember what for.

bath(1).JPG

From that point on it gets pretty hazy. I threw myself onto the pillows on the bed  (I think because it meant I was in the dark) and breathed through the contractions whilst simultaneously trying to use the app! Tom rang the midwives who told me to take paracetamol… I told Tom very  clearly and probably quite aggressively that I did not want paracetamol…. I may have even screamed it! I took the paracetamol.

I faintly remember Tom telling me he was packing up the car and it between the next contraction I was to make my way downstairs. I did as I was told but as I made it to the bottom step I knew the baby was coming as I could feel him between my legs….at that point I was wrestling with fear and trying to remember all the skills and techniques I had been through on my hypnobirthing course.

Tom tells me he had 2 phones on the go, one to the midvives and the other on the line to 999. He was washing his hands and getting the towels. My hero.

Change of plan number 4 – a home delivery.

I remember being scared because I didn’t know “how to be”, which pose to be in, on my all fours or standing up. This was for me the hardest thing. I tried to listen to my body but we were on our own and the baby was coming so it felt frightening but as soon as someone arrived I remember feeling better; someone to take control of the situation. I was debating having gas and air at one stage until Tom said yes I should definitely use it. Crazy I know, but I didn’t feel like I was in pain. To me, the sensation felt like the biggest ball of energy circling in my pelvis. I carried on breathing and needed total silence to focus on each surge. so much for the calming music and fairy lights I had prepared!

It is hard to recall the timings of that evening but I do remember how it felt. The room was filled with 7 strangers ( 2 ambulance crews and a midwife, who arrived 10 minutes before our boy was born) and in our living room, a shooting star – my beautiful baby boy was born safely and with control under a Perseid meteor shower at 00:31 on 13th August 2017.

img_2478
My Hero

So despite not going to plan, I wouldn’t want to change a thing.

IMG_2477
Team photo in the front room with the worst lighting EVER!

 

We both went to hospital to be checked over and to have a little TLC down below (with proper lighting!) and my mom was there waiting at home to welcome us and basically look after us for the next week! (see ‘The Day I became a mother…” blog post)

I hope by sharing this honest account of my labour, it will give you the confidence and strength to know that you can do it and that your body knows exactly what to do, as does your baby in this amazing miracle we call child birth. It is sheer magic and Mother Nature’s greatest work so don’t fear it  –  we were made for this!

IMG_2562

MY BIRTHING TOP TIPS

AFFIRMATIONS– tell yourself daily in the mirror how much you respect your body, how much you trust it and visualise how this baby is going to come into the world.

REST –  listen to your body and take the time you need to save up all your energy.

DRINK –  lots of water – it is the best medicine there is!

READ  -I found reading really gave me lots of knowledge and in turn power. Obviously not everything will match your beliefs or your philosophy but it really gave me confidence knowing that others had been through the same and had experience.

My best reads were:

How to Grow a Baby and Push it Out by Clemmie Hooper

Why love matters:  How Affection Shapes a Baby’s Brain by Sue Gerhardt

What to expect when you are expecting by Heidi Murkoff (more of a dip in and out)

BREATHE – practice practice practice. If you already practise yoga then you will know just how important the breath is to your bodies movement and your mind’s clarity. It served me so well and I would encourage all pregnant ladies to try and master their own breath and see the benefits and how it can empower you when you need it most.

Sending you all so much love and courage

signature

 

It’s worth every second!

Going Wild

Going wild – a 30 day journey of discovery in the Dorset countryside with mama and baby

The month of June, when summer finally arrives and the countryside is a buzz with nature and the weather entices you outside on a daily basis so what better way than to spend your days outdoors appreciating the beauty of Mother Nature and really enjoying what she has to offer. Having spotted something online about the #30dayswild campaign hosted by The wildlife trusts across the UK, I thought it would be fun to challenge myself and see what I could find and do that involved nature and being outside. It’s hard sometimes to find the motivation to get about and do things especially when you’ve just landed on planet Motherhood but I can not express how therapeutic being outside with your baby is. Not only will you feel great your little one will be encapsulated by nature and experiencing his/her new world first hand with you!

30 days sounds like a long time but it went so quickly and it was amazing some of the things we got up to. Being accountable on social media has its plus points for sure. Mainly it was a chance to really stop and look around and to really see what nature there was right outside our front door, but during the month I realised how much it did for my wellbeing and no doubt little Freddie’s too. He’s always been a lover of the outdoors right from the start when we would go walking everyday and watch the changing of seasons but now, to be able to share in the delights of his surroundings is a real joy. As he is grows, he can now notice the movement of the butterflies cruising from bud to bud and hear the bees buzzing. He loves to watch the trees move in the wind and looks up to see the clouds. I’ve found myself wanting to learn more about what we’ve seen in the hope when he is old enough to ask me “mama, what’s that?” I’ll be able to respond confidently and be able to teach him about the wildlife around us. We’ll see though….

I hope my posts on Instagram might have inspired some of you mamas out there to step outside with your seedlings and share with them the beauty that is all around us, both in cities and in the countryside. I know I’ll be taking part again even if it’s just to nourish the soul. You can find more of my wildlife posts @MrsStrongman. Children remember their experiences, we all love to make memories and so this family is staying wild!

Cows go Moooooooooooo

When the farmer opens his gates to the public, grab the bull by the horns!

Open farm Sunday is a special day in the countryside calendar when farmers open their gates and let the public in! LEAF Open Farm Sunday began in 2006 and since then over 1600 farmers across the UK have flung open their gates and welcomed 2 million people onto their farms.

It is a brilliant opportunity for everyone, young or old to discover what it means to be a farmer, at first hand and to witness the fabulous work they do across the country, producing our food, caring for livestock and enhancing the countryside with all the goods and services our farmers provide.

curly sheep

Each farm will offer something different and will be based around the farm’s individual story of how they are where they are today. Activities might include a nature walk, tractor ride, demonstrations, local crafts, mini farmers market and plenty of activities for the children.

farmThis was my first year attending. Tom was working so I decided to take Freddie. His great uncle is a farmer so it’s basically in his blood…. so off we went to visit Knife Hill Farm in Winterborne Stickland. What a treat it was. Freddie loves the tractor ride, as did I! There was even a tractor simulator on site, as well as animal petting, milking demonstrations, farming machinery on display and a trusty tractor ride that was a definite highlight for the visitors. There was space for picnics and even though it felt stormy, the rain held off. It felt like a true privilege to be able to explore the farm and hear all about how they farm organically in the heart of Dorset. The farm workers were extremely passionate about their work and it was great for the children to see what happens at Knife Hill Farm, home to 400 cows who graze the grass and clover leys around the dairy. You could even sample the types of products that contain the milk produced by the farms cows. I kept thinking how great it was for the children to be able to see the journey of the milk and begin to understand a bit more about how the milk makes the transition from something that cows produce to products on the supermarket shelves.

Open Farm Sunday runs each year so keep your eyes open in 2019 to find a great farm near you opening it’s barn doors!

signature

tractor ride
“Cows go MOOOOOOOOOOO!”

Wood fair fun!

An enchanting country fair exposing a creative and skillful country life.

Sunday 20th May, a beautiful day to be out and about in the countryside and attending my first wood fair up at the Living Classroom where we go to Bush Babies. It was put on by the Dorset Coppice Group who are working hard to promote their love of the woodland, share their skills and passions as well as their services. The Coppice group’s aims are:

  • to promote the coppice industry and its products to the public
  •  provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and information between members
  •  form a bridge between coppice workers, landowners and other relevant agencies
  •  provide an educational resource for schools and other groups to encourage outdoor learning in The Living Classroom 

And they also provide courses throughout the year for anyone who is interested in learning a new skill, working with wood or who would like to know more about the preservation of craftsmanship.

We arrived early and wandered around the lovely stalls of handmade wooden crafts; from toadstools, bowls, walking sticks, coat hooks and even magic wands made from wood that had been constricted by wild honeysuckle. I certainly learnt a few tricks or two. There were birds of prey perched in the shade and a beautiful working horse demonstrating his use for coppicing. What a treat.

 

 

My highlight though was being front row watching a sparring competition and as a new member of the country community it felt like an initiation! I had no idea what a spar even was before I sat down. But that was all about to change ….

The thatchers taking part in the competition take 28 inch long straight hazel sticks, known as gads which have been cut from the coppice at Bonsley Wood, during the winter time when the sap is low. This allows them to be strong enough to use on the ridging (the top part of the roof to you and I). To make the spar each gad is riven in half by splitting the wood in-between any knots, split down the middle following the natural grain of the wood. They can be split multiple times (fours, sixes, eights) and usually the more times it can be split the more skilled the spar maker. The points at each end are then created using an exceptionally sharp spar hook.

They are then bundled up with a colour tie and can be sold by the thousands to working thatchers.

The thatcher uses spars by double twisting them to form a U shaped peg as Rod Miller described for me “like a hair pin with a smooth edging which will allow the water to roll of it on the roof.” They have to be skilfully twisted, not just bent in half in order to work effectively.

The competition was to see how many spars the thatchers could make in 15 minutes. It was tense. Blazing sunshine in the middle of the day was probably not the best environment for the thatchers but they stepped up to the challenge and stayed professional to the end, each perched on their stool or chair with hooks, thigh pads at the ready. Many different techniques were used to split the hazel, each competitor using their own long standing knowledge of how to work the hazel and their tools.

The winner was Rod Miller, founder of R.V Miller Ltd who very kindly shared his knowledge with me to enable me to write this post. He is Dorset thatcher and member of the National Society of Master Thatchers. His business celebrated 50 years in 2016 and it seemed to me what he doesn’t know about thatching, you don’t need to know!

It felt like such a privilege to be witnessing first-hand something I was so ignorant about. To learn from experts and locals who had travelled from all around to be apart of this local woodland fair was a joy and an absolute pleasure. It has certainly made me want to look more closely at thatched roof houses.

To be apart of something where skilled craftsmen are demonstrating and sharing their love for their livelihoods with the local people is fantastic. We need these trades to preserve our history so the more we know, the more we can hope to understand and try to make a difference. Weirdly, a part of me wants to make my own spar and I have kept one that Rod twisted for me as a momento! I’ve been inspired!

signature

wood fair 2018