Holly
21 . London
Mama to Dylan and (soon to be) Isla

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

The direction of my blog seems a little wibbly wobbly right now and I think that's mostly to do with the inconsistency of my posting.
While I mostly put this down to every day life being jam packed, I've also noticed that when I'm under pressure and starting to suffer a little more at the hands of my depression and anxiety I tend to step back a little from my social media. While my Instagram is always active my other platforms tend to go a little quiet.
And while I no longer feel obliged to post as I used to, I miss it.

Right now I'm focusing on grounding myself once again and finding a solid footing on life. Isla's three months shy of turning a year old and I can honestly say it's only within the last month or so that I feel truly comfortable in our routine and my life as a parent of two. 
And within that time I've managed to start a small business quite out of the blue (watch out for my post about this). And through the craziness I've found peace.
But I'm still working on it. I'm and I'm still anxious. And there are still days when I don't want to face any of my responsibilities. 
And while I'm still finding my way through this my blog and my YouTube will continue to suffer.
But I'm working on it, along with myself.

I'm dedicating this spring and summer to finding my happy place. For years now I've been in a constant state of flux and I find myself even more desperately yearning for a solid footing in my life as an adult and a parent.

For now I'm going to settle on once a week and make it a goal. Once a week I will post something, be it about the children, baking, mental health or random thoughts about my personal progress along the path of self discovery.

Thank you for putting up with me for this long. I won't promise to be better, but I'll be more consistent.
Or I'll try.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Our cloth journey: from disposable to nappy stuffing.

Our cloth journey started later than with most people.
When I was pregnant with Dylan I dismissed cloth nappies as vaguely gross and definitely something I didn't want to do.
Nine months on I changed my mind after watching several 'internet friends' successfully use cloth and love it. I was also growing ever more conscious of how  many baby products were completely destroying my attempts to lead a more Eco friendly, natural life.

The switch to cloth wasn't as clean and simple as I imagined it would be. I had no idea about different brands or fits or types of nappy. And I was clueless about things such as liners, double stuffing, wash bags  and prefolds. So blindly into the fray we went ordering a few Gnappies and Itti Bitti's.
Maybe it was because we started later on when Dylan was already eating and drinking as well as breastfeeding but our successful no-leak days were few and far between. A change of clothes suddenly became a changing bag staple again because I just couldn't figure out how often Dylan needed changing. Night times also repeatedly resulted in a middle of the night change which given that Dylan didn't sleep through the night anyway wasn't disruptive, but I didn't enjoy our 3am nappy changes at all.
I hated having to rinse dirty nappies before putting them in the wash (touching poo has never been a strong point of mine) and it took months to find a detergent that removed any stains.
It took a month or so for us to get I to the swing of things. Morning nappies were always an Itti Bitti, during the day we'd use a gNappy and for nighttime a double stuffed gNappy. Rinsing nappies stopped being a big deal after I discovered flushable liners and unless he was at crèche he was happily in cloth.
But as with everything in life things change and you have to adapt.
All too soon cloth nappies were gone. By his second birthday no cloth nappy could stand up and fight against Dylan's liquid consumption. Prefolds and double stuffing no longer worked and so back into disposables it was.
I was sad but it was ok, Isla was about to arrive and I felt ready to tackle the world of newborn cloth and armed with a whole load of new birth to potty nappies I was in a dream world of cute cloth patterns.
It transpired that for a good eight weeks or so Isla was too small for her cloth so they stayed folded away in the cupboard. 
But all in good time they came out and we haven't looked back.
These days we use a mixture of itti bitti's, Gnappies, random prefolds and yellow bloom nappies. We also have a whole stash of *another brand that I can't remember right now but will go and check later and insert here* that I'm not a fab of at all and wish I hadn't wasted my money on. Mostly because of how bulky they are so despite being fine for night use, which is actually quite helpful so maybe I should be more forgiving about them, they're mostly redundant.
With Isla it's a lot easier. Maybe because the trial and error period happened with Dylan or maybe because we started when she was younger so have transitioned through different prefold folds and times between changes as she's grown.
While I still love my Gnappies I have newfound love for prefolds. They last longer than any other nappy we've tried and are so much cheaper than anything else.
And also the hugely affordable yellow bloom nappies. They come in a huge range if colours and patterns and as long as you change them regularly they hold up really well with no need (as of yet) to double stuff them.

The thing about cloth is the washing. You have different choices when it comes to washing cloth. You can either store them in a pail to soak till you build up enough to do a cloth only wash. Then wash on high (not so environmentally friendly) with some natural stain remover or you can just throw them in your usual wash and accept the fact that until you do an annual cloth wash with a stain remover your inserts will be vaguely stained for a while.
We tend to opt for the latter in our house. I don't like letting my nappies build up, I like to have them in a constant loop which means putting up with the stains for a few weeks, then once every six weeks I do a hot, stain removing cloth wash.

The other thing about cloth is how frequently you have to change them, a lot. As absorbent as cloth is it's no match for disposable nappies and if you don't change them you'll notice a soggy bottom or two (I watch way too much Great British Bake Off). While if you're transitioning from disposable to cloth this can be off putting I generally feel that disposable or not nappies should be changed every three hours anyway. A baby should go through at least five nappies a day just to make sure they aren't left sitting in a dirty nappy which is horrid for their skin for too long. Because it's less absorbent cloth demands this which can be difficult if you're out and about. We've had a few times where we've been stuck out and had some leaks but those are few and far between if you remember to change nappies before you get on a train/in a car/leave the restaurant.

Cloth, in my opinion is the best option for us. It's saved us an insane amount of money and removed so many chemicals from our lives. I mean, have you ever split open a disposable nappy and seen what's inside? 
Using cloth shouldn't be any harder than using disposable nappies, that's the beauty of it. You don't need to wash them differently, you don't need to store them in any special way or buy anything special to carry them in.
They're simple. And simplicity is always handy when you're juggling life and parenthood.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Baxter (the accidental rabbit)

Meet the newest member of our family.
This is Baxter the accidentally adopted bunny.
Despite being an accidental bunny I'm completely in love with him and Dylan is so full of joy to have him living with us.
It's only Darcey who isn't so enamoured by his presence although she's coming to terms with him. After all it's only been two days and she's already making progress.

After a while I think we'll stop calling him Baxter the accidental rabbit and settle with plain old Baxter. After all, rabbits live for a long time.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

I don't blog as much as I'd like.
I certainly don't update my YouTube as much as I'd like, if at all.
Recently, and if I'm honest the term recently really spans about six months, time management hasn't been my strongest point.
Between keeping two children alive and mostly happy, testing recipes that I always forget to photograph and blog, making cakes and redecorating the house (FINALLY!) I barely have time to clear my mind. Which when I think about it of half full of unwritten blog posts anyway so actually writing them might help me de clutter a little.

I promised myself that once the house was finished, or at least painted I would catch up with the endless list of posts I've been meaning to make. 
I also promised myself that the house would be spotless, that's a never ending work in progress it seems.
But as the paint is dry and all the furniture in place it's time for me to crack on with blogging and keeping my blog (and YouTube) active.
I have cakes to show you, recipes to write out,a ridiculous amount of photos of the children to post and a crazy journey to document.

The next few months are going to be pretty full and I want to capture all of it.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Changes

I've written before about our distinct lack of routine. My surprise that Isla seemed to have no desire to nap and flourished without a routine in a way that Dylan couldn't have coped.
Over the past few weeks however this has changed. It's directly coincided with the end of Isla's 5th developmental leap (sup wonderweeks), but she's fallen into a solid routine.
She now naps twice a day 11am - 12pm and 3pm - 4.30(ish) and not the small sparodic naps several times a day. 
She's also started on solids, which as little as a fortnight ago she had no interest in at all.
Admittedly she only has interest in things she can hold herself so everything is extremely slow and extremely trial and error. But as with Dylan we're firm supporters of Baby Led Weaning so despite the snails pace at which we're moving I'm actually really happy. 
I was having a conversation with another mum at playgroup a few days ago and I mentioned Isla eating pasta with pesto and hummus and she nearly had a heart attack "you can't feed a baby that!" NUTS! SEASONING! RICH FLAVOURS!!!
With Dylan I would have agreed, he needed slow introducing to flavours but Isla's the opposite, she turns her nose up at bland foods and just refuses to eat.

I revel on watching her grow and learn. In ways she's becoming very much like her brother and in others she's the complete opposite.
That's the beauty of parenting, you're always learning. I walked into my second round of motherhood thinking I knew exactly what to do, but once again I've had to just follow the lead of my child and adapt my ideas to her needs. 
Sometimes it's rough but other times it's a blessing.
Her newfound naps for example.
They give me time to dedicate solely to Dylan and that's something that almost three years on I still love just as much as when I first had him.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Since I started working at sixteen I realised that the normal channels of work and working environments are extremely difficult for me.
With the combination of mental health problems I suffer from the working world turns into a roller coaster of the highest of praises and nearly losing my job. I either excel or completely shut down with very little (if any) grey areain between.
The working world is a minefield of triggers for someone with extreme anxiety and borderline personality disorder. It became a trend for me to progress enough in my recovery to be allowed to work only for the working environment to become a trigger in one way or another and cause a relapse.
I think it was after the second time this happened that I started to realise that I wanted and possibly needed another avenue to explore. An avenue that would allow me the freedom to explore and progress but also make allowances for my struggles with mental health and my tendencies to isolate myself.
It was then that I decided that I wanted to open my own shop. 
For years that idea has been fluid, never knowing what I wanted to sell or even where to start. I've toyed with ideas from cupcakes to clothes, stationary to toys, but never fallen in love with anything to be inspired enough to put any wheels in motion.

Five years on from my initial idea, two houses, two more jobs abd two babies I've found my place in the world and also the inspiration I needed.
This year I'm opening my shop. 
I'm selling children's clothes and accessories. 
I'm inspired and excited. 
I have my name, I've found my stock and I'm coming up with the designs for my online store. 
I'm getting wrapped up in the practical side of things, how much stock to start with, how much variation to start with and do I really need a business plan? (No is the answer to that particular question for the time being). How do I decide shipping costs? Will I offer international shipping? 
Oh god this is way more complicated than I thought.

The plan is to open up shop in the spring, so In spending the next few months fine tuning my ideas, planning, ordering and preparing myself.
Not just in terms of physically having things ready, but the emotional side of things. Preparing myself for this not to work and the possibility that god forbid it does work that it might actually be something that I have to invest a lot of time in.
This could be the start of something great, it might not be, but it could be. Fingers crossed. 

Friday, 3 January 2014

If we as a society treated all physical illnesses with the same stigma and sense if blame and shame as mental illnesses what would the world be like.
If we told people to just stop having cancer.
That they need to get over it and walk on a broken leg without a cast.
That taking medication to cure migraines is a sign of weakness, that they should just get over them.
What if we attached such stigma to physical health problems that people hid them and allowed themselves to slip further into their illnesses?
What if we attached so much guilt to physical health problems that people doubted their ability to function in their daily lives? 
What if we blamed people for physical health problems?

I see people stigmatise mental health problems so often, see people so ashamed of their depression or self harm that they hide it and let it consume them rather than reach out for help.
After speaking out in the media I saw countless comments about how selfish I was to have children while suffering from anorexia. How I would undoubtably be harming them irrespective of the fact that I'm in the process of recovering.
Would I be accused of the same thing if I was in remission from cancer? Or had diabetes? 
If I had diabetes would I be accused of being weak for not curing myself rather than give myself insulin? 
Would I be blamed for having cancer? Then blamed again for not getting better fast enough?

It's so wrong that people with mental health problems have to constantly fight the stigma that is places on them. Constantly justify their actions, stand up for themselves and their lives, prove their abilities and fight the judgement thrown at them.

At least once a week I get a message or comment expressing the view that I am in some way harming my children by being ill, that despite perusing the road of recovery I'm not doing enough. "Don't you think they deserve more?" "Shouldn't you be doing more?" Etc.
And I always wonder whether if get these same questions if I had diabetes or cancer or a physical disability. Would u be made to feel guilty?  Would I be expected to recover at a superhuman rate?
I think probably not.