Day Out Review: Cheshire Craft Workshop

I’ve known about Cheshire Craft Workshop for years but despite being a crafty person, I’ve never actually been. However, a few months ago, I was fortunate enough to win some vouchers which meant I had to take a trip and it seemed like a fun day out for E and myself!

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The workshop is based at Blakemere Village, near to Northwich in Cheshire. The village has a number of warehouse/barn type buildings housing different retail outlets -various little gift shops selling homemade crafts, such as cards and jewellery, garden accessories, baby clothing, vintagewear, film memorabilia – it’s all a bit random really.  There’s also a restaurant, tearoom, children’s playbarn, falconry centre, segway track, mini golf, an outdoor playground and a miniature railway that runs at the weekend.

Let sleeping dogs lie

The workshop itself is set near to the back of the centre – I went during the week, quite early in the morning and the place was pretty deserted.  When I went to the door of the workshop I wasn’t even sure whether it was open (I drove 20 odd miles without booking so it would have been pretty annoying if it was shut) but thankfully it was!  I opened the door and headed to the counter, when a MASSIVE alsation came out of the back, heading towards us and barking!

Those who know me well understand my fear of dogs (big and small) so to be confronted by this, in an empty warehouse, well and truly freaked me out.  I gasped loudly and turned the buggy away from the dog, instinctively protecting E, whilst I fully expected to be mauled by this beast of a dog.  Thankfully I heard a friendly voice, calling the dog back and that was when I noticed that it was actually behind a baby gate anyway.  I tried to act all nonchalant after that, like it hadn’t bothered me, but it wasn’t the start to the morning I wanted!   The dog is was really very lovely, and is a big softy, so thankfully the rest of the morning only got better!

What is involved?

Firstly you choose your activity – mainly its painting a piece of ceramic, however I think if you have pre-booked there is a potters wheel, clay imprinting and candle making.  For the painting, you choose your piece of ceramic – there’s loads to choose from including plates, cups, money boxes, frames, plant pots etc.  Average cost seems to be around £15-20 per piece, although there were smaller items which were cheaper such as coasters.

I chose a moneybox (for us) and a plant pot (for E’s Granny and Grandad) which came to a total of £30 (paid for with my vouchers).

Once you’ve paid for the items at the counter (and arranged a time when you are able to pick them up), you are free to paint them as you see fit!  The fun part!

You’re given a table on which there is a selection of paints in all sorts of colours (including some glitter paints) – they’re all non-toxic and suitable from birth, so I wasn’t overly disturbed when E tried to eat them (it was inevitable!).  There’s also the brushes, a pot of water, a sponge (for mistakes!) and tissue to clean up with.  Everyone is provided with an apron – in kids sizes too.  Erika had to sit in a highchair of course, which didn’t bode well in regards to thinking that the paint was for eating, but we managed to keep ingestion to a minimum.  The clean brushes were tasty too apparently, but at least this kept her entertained while I created the finer details on our creations.  Well I say finer…. what I really mean is a few random splodges here and there!

The main thing I wanted to do was to capture E’s handprints in paint – I’ve really only ever managed to capture her footprints at home, handprints have usually ended up on her face, my face, the floor, the sofa – anywhere except the piece of card that they’re supposed to!

I was glad to be told that the paint will wipe off with a wet sponge if we were to go wrong, but it appears that all the stars had aligned right at that moment and we managed to capture 8 perfect handprints with ease!  E seemed to finally understand the concept of having her hand-painted and then pressing it down flat onto a surface.  There was the odd moment she tried to lick it, but we managed it all the same – I was impressed and I think the lady who worked there was too!

Then I had to free reign to decorate the rest of it – however that’s where my imagination decided to get up and leave! Some nice words for the grandparents, a few splodges later and we were pretty much done.

With hindsight, I wish I’d thought about a design before arriving – although I’d had the vouchers for a while, the decision to go was actually a spur of the moment thing so perhaps i’d woken up on the non-inspirational side of the bed that morning!  We shall wait and see what the finished results look like. (I’m going back at the weekend to pick them up after glazing and firing – I may or may not post the finished product!)

After thoughts

I really enjoyed the craft workshop – despite my terrifying encounter with the jaws of death (just kidding!) – and would absolutely love to go back.  I think E enjoyed it – she probably loved the experience of being able to get messy with Mummy, without me being overly OCD about getting paint on the furniture! It’s definitely a place I’d love to take her to when she’s that little bit older and understands the concept of painting with a brush as opposed to eating one.  I think as a kids party idea it’s brilliant – messy but brilliant.

They do adults parties too, and I’ve just found out that they do late night specials once a month where you can take your own food and alcohol – now that I would love to do, although I’m not sure what the results would be after a bottle or two of wine!  I’m definitely going to mention it to the girls and see if they fancy trying it though!  Without a baby in tow, I reckon my creative juices would flow more easily and I can finally create my masterpiece.  Or a few more drunken splodges.  Whatever….

 

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The Story of E – Season Three Recap

Well as you can see I’m a bit late with this one – should have been done at the end of December but what with Christmas and everything else (see my last post!), well I hope I can be forgiven for the slight delay!

What’s she up to?

Well it’s no wonder I’ve not been able to post much on here – so much happened between 6-9 months! Everyone always told me that once we hit 6 months that’s when the real fun begins and boy were they right! She’s a right little character now and learning so much. Where should I start!

Weaning

I guess the biggest change we’ve had is that E is now on solid foods. I was really looking forward to weaning E, I couldn’t wait to see her little face when she tried new tastes and textures but there was also part of me that was dreading it… what if she hated everything?

E was about 25 weeks when we started weaning – we wanted to wait until as near to 6 months as possible as per the recommended age. I know many people do it earlier but we just didn’t feel E was ready any earlier than this.

I’d been reading a lot about Baby Led Weaning (BLW) before we started but I decided that I wanted to start with purees and spoon feeding, just to see what she was like with different tastes.

I 100% agree with the principles of BLW, I just wanted to be selfish for a little bit as I think it’s just so cute feeding a baby! I made up a few different purees to start with (carrot, sweet potato, broccoli, parsnip, apple, pear) and froze small portions of them in ice cube trays, so it was really simple when it came to mealtimes. We did this for a few weeks before starting to introduce more textures and flavours. I’d like to say I did all the cooking myself, but I must admit to cheating a little bit. I did carry on making different purees and mash, but as I am often lacking in imagination when it comes to cooking we did make use of various jars and pouches in the early days until we had become a little bit more confident with what she liked/didn’t like.

We did move onto BLW quite quickly – my confidence was a bit shaky to start with as I couldn’t bear the gagging reflexes however I persisted as I knew it was all a part of E’s learning experience – and mine!
I’ll write about this in more detail in another post but while I was at this early stage of weaning, I completed an infant first aid course run by Millie’s Trust. It was scary but I’m glad I did it and I do think it’s helped me get over my fears.

E is a pretty confident little eater now – although she’s still a little bit picky with certain things, however she’s still young and I’m sure certain things will come with time. There are certain foods that are flavour of the month, yet next week I know she won’t eat them. Sometimes she likes to pick things up herself, other days she’ll want me to spoon feed her. I guess it’s all a bit trial and error but we’ll get there.

We’re currently transitioning onto cups and cutlery – this will be fun. I’m just glad the weather is getting a bit warmer as I’m think introducing naked feeding time is a must at this stage!!

Crawling

And I was panicking when E started to roll… that was nothing compared to the speed she now gets across that floor!
The crawling came at about 7 months – no signs then all of a sudden, zoom…. she was chasing after an IKEA catalogue that I’d flung on the floor! Weirdly I was heading to IKEA later that afternoon so I’m sure it was some sort of sign!
Since then there’s been no stopping her – I just feel sorry for our poor cat. She was confused enough when E was immobile but now she has a little terror chasing after her and trying to grab her tail wherever she moves to!

Teeth

Oh the dreaded teeth! It seems likes she’s been teething since about 10 weeks but with no sign of anything in her gums I did start to wonder if they’d ever appear, getting all the more jealous of other babies who already had about 6 teeth and were confidently chewing on food! Little did I know that when they did arrive I’d be wishing them back to whence they came!

Teething must really suck if you’re a baby – toothache is such a horrible thing as an adult so for a little one who can’t express what they’re going through it’s just horrible to see them going through this.
I actually think we’ve been quite lucky with E’s teeth compared to some other stories I’ve heard but even so, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

We had three nightmarish nights when the first tooth decided to show – it didn’t help at all that for one of them we were staying with family and E was in a travel cot. No sleep for the household that night.
We’d begun with a very hot clingy baby, a rash and then a few sporadic sleepless nights with the worst one being while we were away. The next morning the tooth had popped through and there was a sea of calm!

We’ve got six teeth so far – two bottom and four top. After the banshee inducing crying with the first tooth, the remaining five didn’t give us so much of a peep. She’s obviously hardened up to the fact now!
Seriously though, I do hope that the rest don’t give her too much trouble but I believe the molars are pretty bad. We are preparing ourselves for the worst!

What’s next

Well as I’ve been so late with this blog, it won’t be long til my next update when E is 1!! Scary how fast that time has gone!

The Story of E – Season Two Recap

So following on from the Season One recap – here we are already at the end of Season Two (3-6 months)! It’s really scary how fast it’s going. Where’s my little newborn gone?

What’s she up to?

We’re on the move!! Okay so we haven’t mastered crawling yet but you can’t put E down on the floor without her rolling from one end of the room to another, so you still need eyes in the back of your head. She rolled for the first time on our holiday and since then there’s been no stopping her.
Just recently I’ve had to borrow a playpen off a friend in order to contain her while I get the housework done otherwise there’s no telling where she ends up. She’s such an inquisitive baby and seems to be drawn towards all the things she shouldn’t, such as remote controls and tv cables!! I didn’t think I’d need to start baby-proofing the house until she could crawl – I was so wrong!!

She’s also great at sitting up and relished the opportunity to sit and play with some of her toys – by playing, I mean bashing stuff on the ground but it’s very cute!
Top Tip: Buy your baby some stacking cups – I got some from Ikea for about £2.  E loves them and they are her go to toy at the moment. Every baby I know who has them absolutely loves them – such a simple thing!

We’re getting lots more smiles and giggles – which melt my heart. Seeing her giggling the other day with my friends little boy was just adorable.
And despite teaching her everyday to say ‘Mama’ she’s only gone and said ‘Dada’ instead! I think someone has been teaching her in secret when mummy isn’t looking!
We’ve had our first holiday, first wedding, first Christening – it’s been a busy few months but loving every minute of it.

There are still ups and downs, including teething which isn’t a pleasant experience, but I wouldn’t change the rest of it for the world!

Next season preview:  Weaning, moving rooms and looking for a nursery (boohoo!)

Here is E at 6 months:

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Are mother & baby groups worth going to?

Mother and baby groups can conjure up a number of images.

Of course they can be great for babies development; learning lots of new skills and experiencing different surroundings.  For mums it can be the chance to meet other like-minded folk with similar worries or aspirations, spark up some new friendships or at the very least, a way to stop going stir-crazy from staring at the same four walls for days on end.

However, they can also put the fear of god into someone like me, who although very sociable, can be painfully shy when it comes to meeting new people.  Would I walk into a group to find a competitive coffee-drinking clique who would tut at my silly questions and obsess over our feeding and sleeping habits?

The Lazy Daisy Chain

E was only 6 weeks old when I attended the first group which was part of the Lazy Daisy franchise.  (You may have heard of Lazy Daisy via One Born Every Minute or if you follow Tom from McFly’s wife, Giovanna Fletcher).
I’d heard that Baby Massage was good for babies with reflux (which E appeared to be suffering from at the time) and as none of the free classes were running locally I thought I’d bite the bullet and sign up for a paid class.
Most classes that you have to pay for aren’t cheap – which is why I’ve not attended many – unfortunately statutory maternity pay doesn’t really stretch that far!  This one worked out around £6.50 per class for 5 weeks and each class lasted around 45 minutes – with time before and after to get settled, chat to the other mums or just sit with a cuppa and a biscuit (included in the price thankfully!)

The Lazy Daisy classes were nice and relaxed – and very much baby led so any feeding/crying/nappy changes could be dealt with, without feeling you were interrupting anything.  The sessions included various songs/nursery rhymes to accompany the baby massage sections, and a little added exercise at the beginning for mum and a relaxation session at the end.  It was all very gentle and natural and quite a calming way to spend an hour.

I didn’t go with the intention of making any new mum friends which is just as well as I didn’t!  It was a very small group, and don’t get me wrong they were all lovely, but I could tell from the first week that there wasn’t going to be any lasting relationships made.  Perhaps it was just new mum nerves but no one in the group seemed to click and we all went our separate ways at the end of the course.

 Surestart Baby Massage

Several weeks later I attended another baby massage course which was more local to me and it couldn’t have been more different!  This was a free course run by Surestart at our local children’s centre.  (Check out what’s going on at your nearest children’s centre in case you’re missing out – some of our local ones are fantastic!)
This course was literally just about massage so the techniques were much more in depth than the Lazy Daisy course and I really enjoyed doing it.  We were also given a booklet to take home, which included all the various positions/techniques so we could carry on doing it at home.

The mums who attended were all very different – from all walks of like but all very down to earth and very chatty.  There were one or two who didn’t come back after week 1, however those of us who stayed all got on and it was nice to see them each week.  At the end of the course, I stayed in touch with another mum, who in fact only lives around the corner from me and since then I  have seen her and her little boy quite a few times.  We’re a similar age and seem to have similar things in common and it’s been lovely to spend time with them.  Not a bad result from a free baby group!

Baby Bounce and Rhyme

We’ve occasionally attended another group together at our local library – Baby Bounce and Rhyme.  Basically half an hour of Nursery Rhymes and music suitable for singing to your little ones by bouncing them up and down on your knee.  It’s also a free class that is run by the local authority – SMP stretches further when you can make the most of the freebies!
I don’t go to this every week, but E does love it.  There’s songs which she loves that I’ve never ever heard of – but I’ve swiftly had to become an expert at them seeing as she enjoys them so much!
If you’re thinking of attending a group but aren’t sure I’d just say go for it! Certainly try out any free groups that get the chance to.
If you don’t like it, you don’t need to go back and you’ve not wasted any money.  You might love it and it might become part of your weekly routine, and you may meet some lovely new friends.   You’ll never know unless you try!

I don’t think groups are something that will become a regular part of our lives but having the opportunity to try them out has been great – and I now know where they are if I ever just need to get out and do something a bit different.

The benefits of babywearing

Have you heard of attachment parenting?  It’s one of those buzz words that seems to have sprung up recently and I guess it means different things to different to different people.  To me, it’s all about creating that all important bond in the first stages of life and being there to cater to the needs of my daughter, who at only a few weeks old needs nurturing while she develops the skills to do this for herself in the future.

So E isn’t attached to me permanently, hubby does his fair share of holding the baby, so to speak – but it was important for me to remain close to her in order to establish a real bond between mother and daughter.  Many mums find that bond through breastfeeding – because I havent been able to do that I’ve had to find other ways to create that closeness.  And to me that means being there to comfort her when she cries, feed her when she’s hungry, play with her when she’s awake and letting her nap on me (in the day) if she’s tired.

Constantly picking E up or having her lie on me did take it’s toll in the first few weeks and it was hard to get on with anything else in my life. I of course wanted the best of both worlds – not only did I want to have that bond with my daughter I also wanted to retain some kind of independence, well what I really mean is actually just maintaining a sense of normality and being able to do those everyday humdrum tasks without being constantly disrupted by having a baby (although I must say it’s an excellent excuse for getting out of a lot of the housework!)

The solution: Wearing my baby

I’d read about baby wearing when pregnant and thought it was something I could see myself doing. The only carrier I really knew about was the BabyBjorn so we picked up a cheap one off eBay so we could give it a try once E came along. However once E was here I couldn’t bear to put my little squish into something that looked so uncomfortable! I’d heard about a local sling library and decided to take E along to see if there was something more suitable for such a tiny baby! I didn’t realise there was so much choice, and now she’s bigger there’s even more, I can see how addictive it could become!

We started off with a stretchy wrap which was so comfortable and great for getting E to sleep, even while doing the hoovering! It was really easy to put on too so it’s a great starter wrap for someone with a tiny baby!
When we’ve had those difficult weeks with a crying, clingy baby the wrap was a godsend and helped me to retain some kind of normality whilst still feeling close to my baby.
I used it mainly round the house but managed to get out in it a couple of times (I might have gone out in it more often if it hadn’t have been so pink!)

Here’s a pic of me wearing E at our local nature reserve.

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Babywearing: Moving On

As E started to get a little bigger I found that the wrap was beginning to take it’s toll on my back so I wanted something a bit more comfortable. I also wanted something a bit more unisex so that my husband could wear E too as I know he’d been looking to it from before she was born! Back to the sling library I went!
I thought I wanted something really structured and tried a Manduca, a Boba and a Beco but as it turned out I just didn’t get on with any of them! I watched a demonstration with a girl trying on a Connecta and instantly fell in love! It looked so simple and comfy!
When I started doing some research I realised how many pretty designs there were and knew that this was the sling I was going to buy!! But which one to choose!
In the end we decided upon this Tortoise print – we love animals and it’s unisex so hubby is happy to wear it too!

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It came in so handy on our recent trip away – I wouldn’t be without it now! Trouble is I’m following the Connecta page on Facebook and they keep introducing new designs which are just beautiful. I wonder if I could sneakily buy another one…. Damn you statutory maternity pay!!

I’m after a ring sling next so it’ll be another trip to the sling library soon to see what pretty things they have to match my outfit!! 🙂

The Story of E – Season One Recap

As E was born on the vernal equinox (the first day of Spring) I thought it appropriate to refer to her progress in seasons! Normal people just count in weeks or months, I just have to be different!!

So E is now over 3 months old (15 weeks) and boy has she changed! It’s hard to believe that she’s the same tiny, squishy little baby from Day 1.

What’s she up to?

As far as official developments go she’s very alert and playful, she smiles (all the time!), she had her first giggle a few days ago and she’s starting to grab things (purposefully now rather than by sheer coincidence!).
I know a few babies who can roll over by now, which she doesn’t seem to want to do but she’s rocking tummy time – as you can clearly see below – so it probably won’t be long before she tries something new!

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We do a lot of activities at home but we always get out and about, even if it’s just for a walk around the block – or to do a circuit of nearby Cheshire Oaks.  Strictly window shopping of course!

We’ve also been to baby massage classes, Sing and Sign, Bounce and Rhyme (I’ll do a separate post about the classes) and E has made some new baby friends.  I’ve also got a couple of friends who’ve had their first babies shortly after me, so it’s been good to share similar experiences with them over a welcome cup of coffee.

E had her first bus ride the other day, which she thoroughly enjoyed (she’s very nosy so loved staring out of the window at the scenery and passing traffic) and we are going on our very first holiday soon, so there’ll be plenty more adventures to come!

Time flies…

Aargh, I can’t believe it’s been so long since I posted!!

Well actually I can…hats off to any mums who can look after a newborn, complete the housework and manage to find time to blog and tweet at the same time!! If you’re out there I want to know your secret!!

E is 12 weeks old today, the time has flown past and yes I have been having fun!
Those first few weeks were the hardest of course but there was light at the end of the tunnel.
Things have settled down, we are getting into some kind of routine and enjoying every little precious moment with E. She’s amazing!!

And not wishing to rub it in with anyone who’s forever up soon night feeds but we are actually getting sleep!! Oh how I’ve missed you!

E sleeps anywhere between 6-9 hours a night, which for a 12 week old is nothing short of a miracle. She must take after me! Although she’s currently getting more sleep than me – hence why I’m writing this post at 4.30 in the morning while she’s still snoozing!

I very much doubt it will last but if I can stock up on sleep now then perhaps if we have a regression I may be able to cope (famous last words!)

She’s changed so much it’s hard to believe… I constantly stare at her first photos and wonder where my tiny little newborn has gone. Now her personality shines through every day / she’s a little person now for sure!!

Here she is on day 1:
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And here she is now!!
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Just a bit of a catch up post, hoping now there’s a (touch wood) routine happening, albeit very loose, I may have time for more updates!! I have lots to say!!