Alex wanted to be Baby New Year, but decided to try and eat his paper sash. Happy New Year nonetheless!
Do you have any New Year traditions? Since Nate arrived, we’ve celebrated by heading into town to visit the Natural History Museum. It’s open, free and Dublin is empty since everyone else has a sore head on New Year’s Day. Nate loves looking at all the animals and hasn’t quite figured out they aren’t alive. On this trip he discovered the moose (or Big Moosh) and was mighty impressed.
There are those moments with a toddler where you don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Thursday was one of them. I put Nate down for his nap as I normally do around noon. I listened on the monitor as he chirped and sang and yelled at cars outside. Nothing unusual, it sometimes takes him a while to wind down and he enjoys playing with the soft toys in his bed. It got to around 1:30 and he was still singing loudly, so I decided to try to calm him down. I got to the door and it hit me – the smell. He’d had an enormous poo.
I opened the door and there he was, beaming, holding his favourite white bunny. And there it was, everywhere, poo. So much poo. Nate had apparently been singing while expressing himself via the medium of poo. What to do when confronted with something so horrific, grab your camera for blackmail photos.
I’ve been struggling how to get back into blogging because there’s so much to catch up on. So I decided to just start with now. Here’s a day in the life of the Dares…little did I know I’d choose one very long day!
5am – Decent night’s sleep, Alex wakes for a feed // 6am – Just as he goes down, Nate gets up
7am – Mom time aka a 10 min shower // 8am(ish) – Nate gets to watch ZingZillas while I get Alex to go back to sleep
9am – Look sun! Hurry into the garden! // 10am – Postman delivers my new necklace from Etsy artist E.Ria Designs (it’s an A and N initial necklace)
11am – Nate steals raw dough while making turkey and cheese croissants (yeah, we’re baking on the floor) // 12pm – Nate takes a nap and I get some Alex time (look at those bubbles)
1pm – Finally get to put away the groceries delivered at 11 // 2pm – Heat wave! Bring the fan downstairs because it’s over 25C in the house
3pm – Alex gets changed and we head out to visit friends // 4pm – Playgroup chaos. The kids outnumber adults 8:5
5pm(ish) – Pasta boils away while I run out to rescue Nate’s missing hat // 6pm – Chris gives a thumbs-up for dinner
7pm – Story time, very exciting // 8pm – Nate’s asleep so Chris gets some Alex time
9pm – Chores done, baby quiet and I get to work on my photography course with Capturing Childhood // 10pm – I brush my teething thinking I can go to bed soon
11pm – Actually get to bed // 12pm – That didn’t last long. Attempt to watch TV while feeding Alex
1am – We’re still up and cuddling // 3am – Up again and so tired I think this photo is a good idea. That’s blue paint on my toe
4am – Asleep at last. Me too? Nope. Nate woke up at 5:45am, but that’s another day…
Well, it has been almost a year since I last blogged, but I’m planning on revving up this little blog once again because I missed it. So, what has happened since I last updated you? Well, we went to Texas and introduced Nate to all his American family, had a christening, broke a computer, I turned 30, Nate started to walk, Nate started to talk, Nate started to dance and the best part of all, we had another baby! Alex was born in April and is 3 months old now.
I have lots of reasons why I stopped blogging: first trimester exhaustion, no computer, and so on. The real reason is that I needed to rethink why I was doing this and what I was doing it for. I do regret not keeping track of my pregnancy with Alex the way I did with Nate. The kids are so cute now, I want to keep track of it all to look back on in my golden years. So, let me get organised and I’ll post some highlights of the past year. Hope there are one or two readers still out there!
From May 2012: Nathaniel (21 months) & Alexander (1 month)
Last week Nate celebrated his first birthday with a super fun polka dot themed garden party. Luckily the rain mostly held off, so our crew of 10 babies and 25 adults could play indoors and outdoors. We had a ball pool, slide, tricycle, BBQ for the grown ups, mini pizza for the babies, grown up carrot cake cupcakes and baby cake carrot cakes (sugar free!). It was really relaxed and so much fun to have all our playgroup friends over with their partners. Chris and his family really got a kick out of seeing all the babies. You forget that civilians aren’t used to the chaos of so many little people.
We made Nate his own special two-tiered carrot cake with no sugar, but frosted it with the good stuff. He was hesitent at first, but once our back was turned he devoured it. I stopped him when he’d eaten half of one tier. He was in a little food coma after that and sat on my friend Jenn’s lap with his tongue hanging out for about 30 minutes. That’s how you celebrate a birthday!
I decorated the food table with some of Nate’s art in cute, bright coloured frames from Ikea. His creche friends painted a little picture for him and that was placed prominently on the mantel (and still is!)
I’ve learned a few things about breastfeeding. Most importantly–when it’s easy, it’s easy. But lord, when it’s hard, it’s hard. We had a steep, Everest-sized learning curve (as you already know). We wouldn’t be here at nearly 12 months still feeding like a pro without support from a lot of great people.
There’s absolutely no way I could have endured our breastfeeding battle without the unwavering support of my hubby. He is now a lactation expert and spent hours researching online, watching videos and reading books about breastfeeding when I was far to exhausted with a sleepless, hungry baby to digest anything. He never judged my decisions, never put pressure on me to take an easier route and was always there to pick me up when I was down. Ladies, make sure you have a partner in your partner. They should know the hows and whys of breastfeeding and should never, ever judge your parenting decisions.
In Ireland, we have access to some amazing free health services that are often taken for granted. I was so lucky to be on the Holles St Community Midwives Domino Scheme, so all my antenatal and postnatal care was free. They visited me for the first 10 days after Nate was bron and were very helpful in figuring out where our breastfeeding problems came from. All new Holles St moms have access to the lactation consultants. In the early days, it may be hard to make a trip back to the hospital, but it is worth it for the early intervention and support. The most amazing support I had was from a PHN based in Greystones. If you’re having any trouble breastfeeding in Wicklow, ask for Helena. She works primarily as a lactation consultant for the Wicklow health service. She’s a friend of my MIL and spent her annual leave days working with me and developing a plan to get Nate to feed. She’s a genius. Talk to your PHN, many have gone through the lactation counselling training and should be able to help.
If you are struggling, don’t suffer in silence. Find women to talk to at La Leche League or Cuidiu meetings, attend your local breastfeeding clinic or chat up other breastfeeding moms that are out and about. The most liberating moment was my second visit to the Rathgar breastfeeding group when I realised that half the women there were experiencing similar problems. Finally I was able to relax a bit and not feel like an outsider. I wasn’t a failure because feeding was hard, I was a fighter.
Obviously there’s a wealth of knowledge out there about breastfeeding. I’m not so much a forum gal, so I did found most information from Kelly Mom and Dr Jack. They were especially helpful in learning about tongue ties.
With the sometimes sunny weather and Nate’s 1st birthday coming around, we decided to get a paddling pool/ball pool. Okay, so it will probably never get used as a paddling pool because we live in Ireland. But I can always warm up water in the kettle for the little guy, right? In case you’re in the market for one, here’s the cutest pools around
Fisher Price Ball-o-saurus. Argos €24. The name says it all. This blow up ball pool has an awesome dino-slide for the balls. You know your little one will love it. Although, it is a bit pricey. But it’s so cute!
Chad Valley Rainbow Pool. Argos €12. Sweet little economical pool with a removable rainbow sun cover. This is the pool we went with because 1) it is really cheap 2) we’ll use it at Nate’s birthday with lots of little babies, so the sun cover is great 3) rainbows!
Giraffe Spray Pool. Smyths €17. This was really hard NOT to buy. It’s a giant giraffe and the tail turns into a sprayer (awesome if you live somewhere warm).
If you want a ball pool, expect to pay around €6 for a pack of 100 balls. You can get balls anywhere–Mothercare, B&Q, Smyths, Tesco, etc. Don’t forget a pump unless you have an amazing lung capacity. We got an Argos foot pump, but haven’t put it to the test yet. Happy Paddling!
Every night, we read stories and say good night to snuggle bunny before Nate goes to sleep. This is seriously the most adorable part of my day. We’ve all grown fond of this cute book-puppet. Nate loves Snuggle Bunny and chats away to him while we read the story about going through a bedtime routine: putting toys away, brushing teeth, bedtime hugs and snuggling up. Nate always hands his pre-bed teether to Snuggle Bunny during the line “it’s time to finish playing and put your toys away.” How cute is that?
We had a blast at the Picture Book Picnic today hosted by The Dare’s favourite bookslinger, The Gutter Bookshop (along with Dublin UNESCO City of Literature, Walker Books and Children’s Books Ireland). The event was part of the Made in Temple Bar festival, so it really was the perfect storm of all the things we love! The Wood Quay venue was the perfect spot for an indoor picnic and Nate had a blast trying to steal other picnicer’s food and making as much noise as possible (sorry guys).
Everyone at the event was extraordinarily lovely (I was in a little love bubble after the event that soon got burst on our post-picnic trip to Henry Street in a rainstorm…) We learned all about the adorable Niamh Sharkey’s creative process and met her silly characters. We heard tales of Dublin’s lesser spotted creatures and Nate danced along to the songs of Paul Tubb (big ups for the Spurs mention!). And we brought out our teddies as Patricia Campbell from Dublin City Library read some lovely stories.
Nate picked out two books–A Bit Lost and The Ravenous Beast (that’s probably about him), and made a long wishlist of other fab books he wants for his birthday. Well, you know where to get them. You can find so many gems in The Gutter (Cows Lane, Old City Temple Bar)
Nate is a Water Baby (remember his Big Splash?). I’m super proud to say that because for 28 weeks and counting we have worked so hard together to learn how to be champion swimmers. 2032 Olympics, here we come! We adore Water Babies and I highly recommend the classes. Here’s why:
- It’s fun – 30 min full of fun splashy games, songs and safety drills
- It’s nearby – classes are held in tons of pools available in Dublin, we tried out the Harold’s Cross Hospice pool and the new Swan Leisure Centre in Rathmines
- It’s great for building your confidence with your baby and for teaching the baby swimming skills before he learns to be afraid.
- It follows four 10-week terms (Beginning, Intermediate 1, Intermediate 2 and Advanced) so you really feel like you’re accomplishing something!
We started the course in November at 3 months old. I’ll be honest, the first 10 weeks he cried the entire class. He loved the water, but our class fell between nap and lunch time so he’d get cranky. We pushed through it and on the start of Intermediate 1 class, something changed in Nate and he giggled through the entire class and never looked back. Although the class was difficult for us in the beginning, it was really good for me to learn how to respond to Nate when he gets upset in public (smiling and bouncing in the water distracts like a charm), how to move and play with him without fearing I’d break him and of course how to swim with him with confidence.
Nate was under 12lbs when we started and at the time I didn’t know if there was a problem with his low weight or not (there’s not by the way) and it was refreshing to see him excell in something that his peers weren’t. He might be slow to roll over, sit up and crawl but Nate has been swimming underwater by himself since he was 4 months. And he loves it. He could be sick, lethargic and fussy all week but get that boy in the pool and he comes alive!
As the classes progress, they become much more fun and include skills that I would never have learned on my own. The goal of the programme is to teach your child to swim while they have a natural instinct for the water and before they learn to be fearful. Nate will never need floaties because once he has the muscle strength, he’ll be ready to swim unaided. We’re also learning safety skills like how to hold on to the pool wall and how to climb out of a pool. I grew up swimming and believe its an essential skill, especially living here on an island.
Now, I have to set the record straight on something. I hear a lot of people complaining about how Water Babies charge you for the next course without your consent. This is totally NOT true. Water Babies tells you up front that they will keep your credit card on file to automatically register you for the next term so that the rebooking is seamless. There’s a huge waiting list, so logistically it makes sense for the system to work this way. Otherwise, you could loose your spot. They send you several texts and emails weeks in advance letting you know that you’ll be charged for the next term, unless you call to cancel. Everything is very transparent, and for people who wish to follow the four-course series, very easy. I’ve found their customer service amazing.
You also have an opportunity to do an underwater photo shoot. We waited until Nate was comfortable in the water during Intermediate 1. It was pretty expensive, but as you can see, totally worth it. I love our Water Babies days and love the unique and special time we spend together in the pool. I know I’m a much better mommy because of it!
Some moments with Nathaniel are so precious. I love his curiosity and his delicate little fingers. His hands are different than most babies we know, maybe it’s because he’s tiny and has my long slender fingers. He is so gentle in his touch (sometimes, he’s often not so gentle when my hair is involved). He loves picking the flowers in our garden so much it is almost a shame to mow the lawn.
But before you start thinking that he’s some sweet, flower picking, tiny-fingered angel check out his wicked raised eyebrow. This face is usually accompanied by extremely loud screeching. Sorry neighbors!