Saturday, 31 August 2013

Cloth at Camp

We are a family of cloth nappies.  We didn't mean to be.  I used to scoff at people who thought they would use them and gave up - I mean - why would you when you can just chuck a nappy in the bin?
Then Little Owl was born.
Both Papa Owl and I were horrified at the amount of waste being produced by such a little creature.
And so began our cloth journey.
That's a story for another post.
We use cloth nappies both day and night and well as washable wipes, and a packet of disposables will last us months.
Up until now however, we haven't taken any cloth items away with us - storage and washing have always put me off, but this time we thought we would give it a go.
We took with us a few Totsbots Training Pants.  Little Owl isn't quite ready to potty train but she has been using the potty since she was about 6 months and the toilet since she turned 1.  Little Owl will sometimes sign to us when she needs to use the potty, and so I use the training pants when we are at home near the potty as they are much easier to get on and off.  If Little Owl doesn't sign in time, then the training pants will hold one wee, but not much more so she will know she is wet.
I felt these were good to take on camp as they are small and quick drying and didn't matter if she leaked when on the grass.
I also packed some Cheeky Wipes.  These must be one of the most useful baby items I have invested in.  We have two packs - pink for nappy changes and green for clearing up after meals and general face and hand washes.  These were brilliant at camp as it meant we always had a wet flannel to hand.
Cheeky Wipes come with two boxes, one to store the wet wipes in, and 'mucky' box to store used wipes in.  While at camp I also stored the used nappies in this box.  I washed the nappies and wipes using travel wash and hung them to dry on a makeshift line.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Minor Mania

This is the first time we had visited a soft play centre since Little Owl had learnt to crawl and therefore clamber. Bottom shuffling had been effective for moving and carrying things but not so good for climbing over things!

So we were quite excited to have received a voucher for free entry to Minor Mania - Grandma Owl had won this voucher in a raffle at Hurst Green Primary School.

Minor Mania is located in Bells Yews Green right by Frant Station which makes is easily accessible by public transport as well as by car.

To control numbers at busy times, such as rainy days in the school holidays, you are limited to two hours which can be extended by 30 minutes if you purchase food on the premises.  There was a time limit the day we visited and I was worried it would be over crowded inside but it wasn't at all. 

The soft play was fantastic, spread over 3 floors with a mixture of ramps, ladders and slides allowing access between each level.  The seating for parents was in the form of square tables with 4 chairs which were located around 3 sides of the soft play making it very easy to keep an eye on your little ones!
Little Owl is too little to go round by herself which meant I had to follow!  She loved every bit of it and I was surprised at how well she could get around.  The bigger children didn't mind her (or me) being there at all - one young boy stroked her head every time she passed. 
Little Owl also joined in a game with the bigger kids.  There are two platforms facing each other on opposite sides of the soft play.  On each side there are two air cannons which fire balls across the gap.  There is netting on each side so the balls don't actually hit the kids on the other side, but if you are 8 and a boy that apparently doesn't matter!  The balls fall into a play area below where other kids can load them into an air tunnel and they get sucked back up to one of the two platforms.  On our team there was a little girl who was collecting the balls and handing them to her brother to fire.  Little Owl got herself in between them so that the girl passed the balls to her and she in turn handed them to the brother - bless him - he said thank you every time!
There was also a smaller soft play area for under 3's (although this wasn't monitored).  Strangely, this wasn't as accessible to Little Owl as the big kids area, and needed us to engage in the activities with her as well as lift her on to things.
It was a wet day so we only had a quick peek outside.  There was a grassy area that was very hilly and some decking with picnic tables on.  There was also a large wooden play area but it wasn't very suitable for Little Owl's age. 

We had our lunch whilst there and was pleased with the food available.  I opted for a jacket potato and Papa Owl had a toastie and chips.  We got a side portion of ham for Little Owl and share our lunch with her too.  I was particularly pleased to see a fruit bowl on the counter.

We had a brilliant time at Minor Mania and will definitely plan to go back over the winter!

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Little Owl @ 16 months

9  - two new molars this month, top right and bottom left.

18  - bath, cow, dog, please and Granddad are all new, although not used all the time

9 - although not sure if anyone else would know what Little Owl is saying!  Only new word this month is "bubbies" by which Little Owl means the cats!

New things this month
  • Walking!  Possibly the biggest change - Little Owl is no longer a baby, we have a toddler in the house!
  • Hair! Ok, so its still not a massive amount but enough to brush!
  • Cutlery  Having never been spoon fed, Little Owl didn't make the association between cutlery and food, but they are now a must at every meal!
  • Sleeping I'm a little nervous saying this, touching any wood I can find, but Little Owl mostly now self settles, sleeps in her cot and sometimes doesn't wake until gone 6 o'clock!  This is huge progress from the fidgeting bed sharer we had a month ago!


Tuesday, 27 August 2013

All by myself....

...don't wanna be all by myself... (imagining scene from Bridget Jones in my head...)
Papa Owl and I are both teachers which has the wonderful added bonus that we have had the last 5 weeks together, spending time with Little Owl.  We have shared everything, which made tonight, when Papa Owl had to go out, a bit of a shock to the system!
It all started to go wrong with dinner.
I gave Little Owl some pencils to play with while I cooked the well known dish Beans on Toast!  Little Owl thought the best way to play with pencils was to throw them on the floor and I discovered that we had no bread, Beans on Toast became Beans on Beans!
The next challenge was the bath, normally Papa Owl's domain, but I was ahead of the game - or so I thought.  Our water pressure is practically non-existent and so I knew the trick of running the cold water while Little Owl was on the loo...  apparently the water pressure has improved and I had a foot of cold water in the bath!
It was while I was washing Little Owl's hair that I realised that I hadn't got her bottle, unable to leave her in the bath or anywhere nearby we both headed back downstairs to the kitchen - could I find a clean bottle?  Could I heck!
OK, so these weren't the biggest disasters and luckily the rest of bedtime went quite smoothly but I am getting quite nervous about the start of term!  We have a week left of Papa Owl at home, then its evenings and weekends only until Christmas.  However I'm quite looking forward to spending more time with Little Owl, just the two of us - I even have a little road trip planned!

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Little Owl is a Toddler!

Slow and unsteady, nearly 3 months after her first steps, Little Owl is toddling!

The start of the next adventure...

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Forgewood Campsite

We love camping. Papa Owl and I first met on a camp, we both belong to Guiding and Scouts and camping is in our blood.  Little Owl enjoyed her first camp at just under 4 months old at the Essex Jamboree alongside 8,000 other scouts and guides from around the world - and she wasn't even the youngest there!

Unsurprisingly then, we decided to go camping for our summer holiday.  We thought about going to France to chase some sunshine but with the glorious summer we have had in the UK this year, we made the last minute decision to stay in the UK - in fact we only just crossed the Sussex border to Kent!

Whilst we thought a pool might be nice, we decided the most important thing a campsite could offer us would be a fire.  You know where you are at with a fire.  A little searching on the internet and we came across Forgewood campsite near Tunbridge Wells.

We arrived late afternoon, but still had plenty of room to chose from.  We chose a spot on the main field near the facilities as we thought this would be easier with Little Owl.  However, we could have chosen the quieter spot on the further field or a secluded spot in the woods.

Pitches weren't marked out - we were just told to chose a spot around the edge of the field as the middle was for the children to play.  Having pitched our tent, we decided to hire one of the grills from the campsite so we could BBQ over the our fire. The grills were strong enough that they could hold saucepans if you wanted to cook a proper meal!  Every evening a van drove round the site selling bags of wood. Each bag was plenty to cook a meal over or if you were just wanted the fire for a pleasant glow then it could last you two evenings.
From reading the reviews online before hand, two things worried us - noise at night at the toilets.  It was noisy when Little Owl was trying to go to sleep, a dozen or more kids were racing around on their bikes and playing football but they all started to head to bed about 9 and by 10 the only noise to be heard was Papa Owl snoring in his chair!

As for the toilets - well its the first time I have been on a campsite with fresh flowers in the loo! They were clean enough for me to sit on the floor while Little Owl took her time!  There was 3 showers and 3 toilets for both the men and the women, as well as two separate toilets which also held a shower.  These were mainly used by families with small children as you could lock the outer door and have the shower and toilet to yourself.

We weren't as lucky with the weather as we had hoped and had one morning of rain.  This was when the on site cafĂ© was really useful - a hot coffee without having to turn on the stove! They also sold a few essentials and treats in their shop.

On the map we were given upon arrival we noticed there were 'caves' not that far away, so on our last morning we went exploring - so glad we took our torch - they were 'big dark caves'!
We needn't have worried about being so close to home - all the families we spoke to were from Kent and Sussex - one group were from Tunbridge Wells!  We really enjoyed our time at Forgewood and are making plans to go back next year with friends.

Friday, 16 August 2013


No rest for the wicked, and as excited as we were to be in our living room we were feeling a bit on show in the evenings with no curtains!
I only learnt how to use a sewing machine this year, so was in no way up to the task of making them.  Luckily Papa Owl's mum is a bit of an expert!
I tried really hard to pay attention with the hope that I could one day make my own (hmm.... dream world) but fear I got lost along the way!
I do know that we started with 16m of curtain fabric and for an hour or more we measured.  We measured the fabric 3 times, we measured the height from the curtain pole to the floor, twice, each.  And then we got Papa Owl to measure it just to make sure.  We then measured and pinned the fabric before measuring it once more.

Finally it was time to cut!
Big moment!
And breath!
We now had 5 lengths of fabric that were all thankfully the same length and a bit spare for making cushions (back in my dream world....).
I was following at this point.  I can do maths.  And I know that 5 doesn't make a pair of curtains so next we had to cut one of the lengths in half. 
Then it was time to sew (well after lunch of course).  Two full lengths and the half width lengths were sewn together - we now had two HUGE pieces of fabric.

I'm a little bit vague about how the rest of the curtains were made...
Lining was added.

I did some ironing.
Tape was sewn on (this was quite complicated...)

We then hung the curtain to know how long to make the hem.
Somewhere about here my mother-in-law took pity on me, and took the curtains home to finish off!
Not sure I made a very good apprentice but I do know my mother-in-law made fantastic curtains!

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Play Days

Today we took a trip to the park.

We didn't know what to expect, we thought we might be there for an hour, perhaps longer if we bumped into someone we knew. 
What we saw was amazing!  An entire field absolutely jam packed with activities.  They really did cover all age ranges, and while I focused mainly on things that Little Owl could take part in there really was children climbing trees!

We started by playing in the sand

we thought it would be cleaner 
than playing with the mud

but then Little Owl found the water!

There were boxes for children to paint (and hide in)

Or the chance to make your own boxes
with hammers and saws!
I think this was for painting
but we didn't see any paper!

There really was a lot to see and do!  The park was packed with children of all ages which felt a little over whelming with Little Owl at times so we headed to the fenced off area that was being staffed by the Children's Centre especially for 0-5 year olds.  There was a buggy park right next to it so there was no risk of little fingers being run over, and two adults from the Children's Centre stood there making sure no little ones left without their adults!  Inside there was loads of toys for the kids to play with, and a gazebo in the corner with a few seats and rugs for those mummies who were breastfeeding - they really had thought of everything!

There were toys to climb on...

and toys to ride on!

Places to hide....

and places to get messy!

Did I mention getting messy?

In fact there was so much to do that Little Owl
just didn't know what to do next!

In the end we spent nearly 4 hours in the park!  We never expected to find so much to do and all for free!  Thank you so much Hastings Borough Council and Hastings & St Leonards Children's Centres - can't wait for the Play Days next year!

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

I'll walk when I'm ready Mummy... and not before!

Little Owl is a true bum shuffler!  She places both feet together and makes a kind of scooping action, lifting her bum and bouncing forward!  Its a bit like yogic flying and sometimes she bounces so high, she looks like she could stand!  The girl must have abs of steel!
The bum shuffling has worked well for her - it means she can see where she is going and can carry things too!  While all her crawling friends had to stop moving and sit up to see all the sparkly things under the parachute, Little Owl could bounce along taking it all in and exploring everything there was to see.
Distance isn't a problem either - on a camping trip at the beginning of June, Little Owl was happy to bounce across a field in order to follow the other children.  On that same trip we bought her a pair of wellies (a size too big) to protect her feet if she did try any walking.  At 13 months she was happy to have a go if you held her hand. 
The wellies and the bumpy ground must have given her some confidence as the evening we returned from camp, Little Owl took her first tentative solo steps!
That was over 10 weeks ago!  Progress since then... well...
The week Little Owl turned 15 months, she learnt to crawl!  We thought that stage had been completely bypassed but no, after refusing tummy time since she learnt to roll, Little Owl has spent the last few weeks practising the art of crawling.  Its fascinating to watch her perfect the method, and when she chooses to crawl or when she chooses to bum shuffle. Crawling is definitely used for getting under things.  Crawling also appears to be the movement of choice to get around corners and to see what is happening but as soon as she has line of sight - its back on the bum! 
While I'm impatient for her to get up and walk, I know I will miss the bum shuffle which has become so much a part of her character.  So for now, I shall sit back and enjoy this phase, no longer a baby but not yet a toddler - she is a boddler!

Sunday, 11 August 2013

What I would do with £20k...

What would you do if you won the lottery?  This is a game Papa Owl and I often play and so I couldn't resist the challenge BritMums set to post a blog of what we would do with a £20k win from the National Lottery.
So here goes...
£10k - Our Bathroom
This is our bathroom.  Yes - it has two doors and is currently two rooms!  Originally this was one square room which we suspect was where the servants slept.  When the fashion came for 'bathrooms' rather than a tub in front of the fire, the owners of the time didn't want to waste such a large space on a bathroom so they made another door and put a wall up cutting off a corner of the larger room.  Our current bathroom has a bath and a sink.  That is all.  I dream of a bathroom with a separate shower and a toilet in the same room...
£1k - A shed
The space that is not currently in the bathroom was sold to us as a "garden room" due to it having access to the garden.  The previous owner kept her garden tools there and Papa Owl is using it to store his tools.  If we do turn this into our bathroom then we will need a shed to store all the tools!
£4k - Mongolia and Hong Kong
OK - so they are not so close together but there is reason behind this link.  Papa Owl fell in love with Mongolia when we visited 4 years ago on our epic train trip to Hong Kong.  We would both love to take Little Owl there for a camping trip.  We would head to Jalman Meadows, a Yurt camp set in Mongolian wilderness.  You can't get a direct flight to Mongolia from the UK, so we might fly to Beijing and get the over night train to Ulaanbaatar which gives a great view of The Great Wall of China.  I haven't worked out the logistics but we would make a detour via Hong Kong on the way home.  Papa Owl's brother moved out there a couple of years ago and we haven't had a chance to visit him yet.  Little Owl's Godmother also lives in Hong Kong with her family, I miss her lots and her annual visit to the UK just isn't enough!
£1.5k - India
I love India.  I can't help it.  I have been many times but it is now 5 years since my last visit.  I would head to Sangam World Centre in Pune for 10 days, and would spend the time relaxing, shopping and catching up with friends.  I am a trustee for a charity called Friends of Sangam UK which supports the centre in India and in January there is a gathering of Friends from around the world in Pune. I would love to be there.
£1k - Ikea
Who couldn't spend a grand in Ikea? Little Owl could do with a wardrobe, we could do with a book case and it would be great to replace the sofa covers where the cats have torn them.  I'm also looking to furnish my new sewing room.  Yes, I could easily spend a grand at Ikea!
£500 - Cupboard
This corner of our living room is crying out for a cupboard.  Somewhere to store laptops and board games.  I don't know what I want or where I'm going to look for it but it would be great to have the budget to spend!
£500 - Tablet
I would love to have some kind of tablet that I could use to take photos, access the internet and maybe even read a book...
£500 - Family Photo Shoot
Without hesitation we would ask Steve Shipman to take the photos.  Steve was our wedding photographer and we couldn't be happier with the images he took.  I'm not sure how much Steve charges but I imagine the £500 pound would be able to include a bit of a make over for me and some new clothes for all of us.
£500 - Sewing Classes
This may seem a lot but after Papa Owl got me a sewing machine for my last birthday, I have really enjoyed taking classes at The Owl and Sewing Cat.  £500 would buy me all of the classes I want to do, and the materials to make more things at home. 
£500 - Waterproofs
Papa Owl says he could do with some new waterproofs and we don't want him getting wet now do we?
So there we are - £20k easily spent but a lot of fun had along the way!
#Spend20K challenge badge with National Lottery
This post is an entry for BritMums #Spend20K Challenge sponsored by The National Lottery, with more ways to win more money on the new Lotto game. Find out more about new Lotto, which starts in October, here –


Thursday, 8 August 2013

Our Living Room

We have a living room!

Those words seem so normal, and yet mean so much to us!

For the last 2 years we have been using one of the bedrooms upstairs as a living room (and dining room), it was cramped, and an awful long way from the kitchen.

Carrying a newborn and a cup of tea upstairs was manageable, but as Little Owl grew and wanted her own drink and snacks it became more difficult. If Little Owl was upstairs, I could not hear her from the kitchen meaning I could not leave her for long.

But now...

It is bliss!

The other morning I finished my breakfast and carried my coffee into the living room to finish... I felt like I was in a holiday home!

The first evening we had this room, I was able to leave Little Owl playing while I cooked her dinner, just popping back every now and then to see how she was doing.  I was bursting with joy!

Today a friend will be visiting with her son.  I will be able to show her into the living room, pop into the kitchen to put the kettle on, pop back to continue our conversation, only leaving to make the tea... I can't wait!

Unlike on Grand Designs, we do not have all the perfect furniture ready to move in and are making do with what we have.  The sofas are covered in throws to hide where the fabric has given way or been torn by the cats.  The room still isn't quite finished, there are curtains to make and pictures to hang but we couldn't be happier!

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Climbing Adventures

When you find out you are expecting your first child, you start imagining how family life will be together, and what adventures you will get up to.  For Papa Owl this meant climbing, his greatest passion.

Despite my best efforts, Papa Owl caught on to the fact that I was never going to be a climber shortly after we started dating.  He had been curious when I insisted on wearing my sunglasses, a cunning plan on my part to hide the tears as my feet left the ground and I found myself stuck and alone halfway up a cliff face! Ok - so I was only 5 foot off the ground but try telling that to my quivering knees!

After that, it was agreed that my only role in climbing would be to sit at the bottom on a picnic blanket, book in hand, maybe occasionally being asked to hold the end of a rope.I also agreed that any children we had would be encouraged to climb - I'm happy for this - I know I'm a complete wuss but it doesn't mean I want my kids to be (in fact I want to positively train them to catch spiders)!

Papa Owl did some research and discovered that the smallest climbing harnesses fits from age two.  I knew that meant from next year we would be going on regular climbing trips, plenty of time for me to stock up on books and sunscreen!

However, we had a preview this week as a visiting relative fancied a go at climbing.  Picnic blanket in hand we set off for Harrisons Rocks - a local place known for its climbing.

Hidden amongst the trees, we set up camp and Papa Owl set up the ropes. Little Owl played in the sand at the bottom, and mainly ate her picnic and waved at passers by!  Little Owl is not yet walking on her own beyond a few steps, and she only discovered crawling last week (although is a master of the bum shuffle).  This didn't stop Papa Owl taking her over to a large slab of rock and helping her clamber all over it. The grin on Little Owl's face could only be matched by that on Papa Owl's face - I think his dreams are coming true!

Yes, I can see that I am going to be spending a lot of time sat on a picnic blanket...

Monday, 5 August 2013

An introduction...

So here I am, my first blog and I’m not really sure why I am here.  I have been fascinated by the blogs I have read over the last year, mainly if not all parenting ones, I guess I am generally a nosy rosy!  Laughing and crying alongside many other parents, sharing the complete wonder that is parenthood.  I began to feel like I was on the outside looking in, enjoying the jokes but not quite part of the party, but I couldn’t write a blog, I mean, I only just scrapped my GCSE in English, and besides – my life is nowhere near as interesting as all these other parents – is it?  OK, so I don’t have twins (a lot of parenting blogs are written by those with twins), but most of the other blogs are written by regular folk, and it’s their writing that makes their lives sound so much more interesting than mine.  Well I can do that – I’ve always felt only boring people are bored and life is what you make of it, so I’m now going to make something of it in a very public way!

In many many ways I’m in the most stable period of my life – I am very happily married to Papa Owl, we’ve been together for 7 years, married for the last two of those and it’s great!  We bought a house just over two years ago which we planned to make our home and where we would bring up our family, so we were delighted a year later when Little Owl, our beautiful daughter, popped into our world.  Motherhood is everything I imagined and so much more!  I’ve had plenty of adventures in my life time and always thought about having a family when I had ‘settled down’ a bit and wanted a quieter life.  Nothing could have prepared me for the adventure of motherhood – the biggest and best yet!

It all sounds bliss, but life isn’t all that stable at the moment.  Our house is undergoing the slow process of renovation, and I don’t just mean a lick of paint.  Serious works have been done on this place, and there’s plenty more to follow.  After two years, we still don’t have a living room (but we’re so close) and are using one of the bedrooms for that purpose. 

As for me, I’ve just quit my job of 7 years as a secondary school maths teacher, and really don’t know what I’m going to do next.  Not sure I am made of the right stuff to be a Stay At Home Mum, housework has never been my strong point!  I would love to be a Work At Home Mum but have no great business ideas.  Papa Owl bought me a sewing machine last Christmas and I dream of making things good enough to sell, but that is only a dream.  Meanwhile the mortgage needs paying, so I need to get a ‘proper’ job!
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