Gabriel is nine months old

I’m a bit late with this month’s update – Gabe was actually nine months old last week while we were on holiday at Center Parcs but with that, house viewings and the chicken pox I’m only just getting round to writing this.

Gabriel is nine months old

Well in last month’s update I said I hoped there would be less illness this month but unfortunately that hasn’t really been the case. On top of his habitual cold Gabe has also had a stomach bug which he caught off Toby but whereas Toby was just sick a couple of times then back to normal after a couple of days, Gabe had really nasty nappies for almost two weeks. Almost as soon as he got over that Toby got the chicken pox and then it was inevitable Gabe would get it too. His first spot appeared on Monday and today he’s still only got about 10 so I’m really hoping that is it and he is going to escape with only a mild dose of the pox. On top of all that he is still suffering with his reflux, particularly it seems at bedtimes, and our paediatrician appointment which was scheduled for 17th June (already about three months after we were referred by the GP) has now been moved to 15th July!

What do you mean it's the wrong way round

On a happier note Gabe hasn’t had any more teeth this month, although I did think he nasty nappies were due to teething for a while. Weaning has been a bit all over the place, along with Gabe’s appetite this month. He’s still being spoon fed most of his meals but he is getting much better and chewing lumpier food, and at picking different foods up and eating them himself. Rice cakes and yoghurt have been firm favourites this month along with lots of different pouch meals (we’ve mostly been using the HiPP Organic 7+ month ones). We’ve also changed Gabe’s formula to HiPP Organic this month. I’d heard that a lot of reflux babies find it gentler on their tummies, and I was also hoping the prebiotics in it would help get his insides back to normal after the stomach bug. I don’t know if it has actually made any difference but he isn’t any worse so we’re going to stick with it for the moment.

Gabe enjoying lunch

With all the illness, and the disruption of a holiday sleep is still rather illusive. We’re having lots of night waking still but whereas I used to be able to settle him with his dummy and a rub on the back or a cuddle now he nearly always needs milk to get back to sleep. I’m pretty sure this is because of his reflux rather than hunger as Toby used to be exactly the same. It never made any difference how much he ate during the day he would still need milk if he woke in the night. At least for now Gabe does usually go back to sleep quickly after he’s had his milk so I don’t have to be awake for too long in the night. We’ve been doing quite a bit of co-sleeping this month too – mostly when he wakes for the second time at about 4 am and isn’t that keen on going back to sleep. Usually if I bring him in bed with me at that point we manage another hour or two of sleep.

Crawling takes concentration

The big development this month has been that Gabe has started crawling! He started off just commando crawling but in the last few days he’s pretty much crawling up on his hands knees. Which means nothing is safe any more and we’ve had to break out the playpen again. Gabe isn’t a huge fan for any length of time but at least it gives me somewhere safe to put him for a few minutes while I go to the loo or something!

Crawled for the first time

I haven’t had Gabe weighed for ages now but using the probably very inaccurate method of weighing myself then both of us together he weighs 19lb 3oz. He’s still wearing 9-12 month clothes but I think we’re going to have to move into the next size soon, at least for sleepsuits as he is so long, especially with a massive night time cloth bum too!

Gabriel from 0-9 months

I think that’s all for this month, I just really, really, really hope Gabe makes it to 10 months without getting ill again!

Toby Goes Bananas

My Wild Ones // Mini Trekkers at Center Parcs

Last week we were on holiday at Center Parcs in the Lake District. As I’m sure most of you are aware there are tons of different activities to do…and most of them cost extra! You do get quite a lot of emails before you go urging you to book things in advance but seeing as we didn’t know what we would feel like doing, or what the weather would be like we didn’t really book anything before got to Center Parcs.

It was a good job we didn’t as it happened as Toby’s chicken pox weren’t fully scabbed over until our second day there so we couldn’t really do anything when we first arrived. We did go for a walk around to get our bearings and saw the Mini Trekkers course.

Nearly finished the Mini Trekkers course

It’s a baby version of the high ropes course where the kids get to wear a harness and cross different bridges to collect the pieces of a jigsaw. We asked Toby if he’d like to have a go and when he said yes we booked it for later on our second day.

First steps at Mini Trekkers

This was a great activity for Toby, and it was lovely to watch him overcoming his fears.

Enjoying Mini Trekkers

He was a bit nervous at first but soon got into the idea.

Mini trekkers

By the end he only really needed my help to step from the platform onto the walk ways and then he was quite happy holding onto the ropes and walking along by himself.

Gaining confidence at Center Parcs

Holding on

Going it alone

It helped that he had to collect the jigsaw pieces on some of the platforms and he was so pleased with himself when he finished the squirrel picture at the end of the Mini Trekkers course.

Mini trekkers - done

And even more pleased when he was given a squirrel toy to keep as well.

Collecting his Center Parcs squirrel prize


Toby Goes Bananas

Living Arrows 21/52 (2016)

Well, despite the pox we made it to Center Parcs and we had a brilliant week! We couldn’t do much the first day or so as Toby’s spots hadn’t completely crusted over but it didn’t really matter. We made sure we did plenty of activities in the rest of the week, and ate lots of delicious food too. I’ll be writing more about what we got up to in some other posts but safe to say we had a great time and I would definitely recommend Center Parcs to anyone looking for a family holiday.

This week’s Living Arrows photos are a couple from while we were away. Toby was a trooper throughout his week of chicken pox, he hardly complained at all, and he still slept really well which was a relief. It was a tiring week away for him though (and would have been even without recovering from illness) and we had a few meltdown moments but on the whole he just enjoyed the whole experience. It was fab to see him trying things he wouldn’t normally do and the big smiles on his face when he did them.

Smiles from Toby on holiday

Gabe spent quite a lot of his holiday napping and we did have disturbed nights from him too. He loved exploring the lodge though, his commando crawling is really getting him everywhere he wants to go now…and lots of places we don’t want him to go! He’s so determined, but still gets frustrated when he can’t do something he wants to. Just look at him though – I’m sure it won’t be long before he’s properly crawling and pulling himself up, and then nothing will be safe!

Crazy commando crawling Gabe

Living Arrows

Toby Goes Bananas

Living Arrows 20/52 (2016)

If you read this post you’ll know we’ve been having a pretty rubbish time of things recently. However, as I write this Gabe has finally got over his stomach bug or teething or whatever it was that was making his nappies so awful. The last couple of nights he’s actually slept reasonably well, for him, and even though he had me up at 5:30 am when he’s this cute you don’t mind too much. Of course now we’re just waiting to see how long it is before the chicken pox shows up but at least we might manage a few days without too much grumpiness.

20_52 16 G

And as for Toby; he is coping remarkably well with his chicken pox although thankfully I don’t think he has too bad a case. He is a bit up and down, one minute he’s tired and lying in front of the TV and the next he’s charging around the house, like when I grabbed this shot.

20_52 16 T

A lot of his spots have crusted over now so I’m just hoping the rest of them do soon so he can at least enjoy a couple of days of our holiday at Center Parcs. And just cross your fingers that Gabe doesn’t show any symptoms until after we’re home!

Living Arrows

Toby Goes Bananas

Siblings // Toby and Gabe in May

Amongst the illness of the last month the relationship between Toby and Gabe is continuing to develop. Things haven’t really changed too much though; Gabe still absolutely adores his brother and is always ready with a smile or a laugh for him. He’s starting to discover the joy of playing with all Toby’s toys too and now he’s on the move nothing is safe from his little hands. Toby still seems to see Gabe as a mixture of someone to entertain and give the odd kiss to, and something of an inconvenience who takes up far too much of mummy’s time still.

I am though catching more and more glimpses of what their relationship might be like in another year or so, when Gabe can really interact and they can properly play together. Yesterday I left them in the living room for two minutes whilst I was tidying up in the kitchen and came back to this sight…

Toby and Gabe getting into mischief

Now pulling tissues out of the box is a favourite game of Gabe’s so I said ‘oh Gabe, what a mess you’ve made’ to which Toby piped up ‘And me!’ They’re going to get up to some mischief aren’t they?

Gabe is a very grabby baby, and he loves to grab people’s hair, especially Toby’s if he can get near him. We’re trying to teach him to be gentle and he is slowly getting the idea. And Toby is trying to be a bit more patient with him too, instead of immediately just crying and shouting for him to get off!

Gentle Gabe

We are also trying to encourage Toby to share at the moment which is something he is still struggling with. However, one thing he has almost definitely shared with Gabe this week is his chicken pox! Especially after Gabe had this Duplo in his mouth (it’s a crocodile’s mouth in case you weren’t sure) which had been in Toby’s mouth just a minute earlier. It’s almost inevitable that Gabe will get the pox so we’re just playing a waiting game now.

Siblings pracising playing together

And the last picture for this month is one of those glimpses of what is to come. They were both concentrating on the bricks and for the briefest of moments neither of them was trying to take anything of the other and I’m sure that it won’t be long before we are seeing more and more moments like this between my wonderful brothers.

Toby and Gabe playing with Duplo


The Me and Mine Project

Toby Goes Bananas

Term time holidays // Where do you stand?

I still can’t quite decide where I stand on the issue of term time holidays. The subject has been in the media again this week when the high court ruled that father, Jon Platt had no case to answer when he refused to pay a £120 fine after taking his daughter out of school to go to Disneyland in Florida. I read this post on the matter from Hannah at Budding Smiles who stands firmly on the side of parents being allowed to take their children out of school for holidays during term time so long as their attendance the rest of the time is high.

Term time holidays

Reading Hannah’s post made me really consider my own position. On the one hand I think it is perfectly reasonable for a child who attends school 90% of the time to be taken out of school for a week to travel somewhere with their family where they will experience a different culture, language and so on. But, are there really any educational benefits to a week all inclusive in Tenerife where you never leave the hotel? Or ten days at Disneyland? Perhaps the benefit comes from simply leaving the country and spending time with family and that’s fine but it does annoy me a bit when people seem to think that all kids being taken out of school for term time holidays are getting some massive educational benefit from the experience.

Speaking as a teacher I also know how incredibly disruptive it can be, not only to the learning of the child taken out of school, but also to the rest of the class. Because in my experience, whatever the parents say, the kids rarely make any effort to catch up on the work they’ve missed and I end up having to go over things again. And you might not think that having one child out of class makes much difference but in a class of 30 that is potentially someone out nearly every week. Or perhaps parents would think that taking their kids out close to the school holidays would be less disruptive and then you end up with half the class missing which makes doing anything useful with the half of the class that are there something of an exercise in futility. And I’ve heard the argument that ‘you never do anything in the last week of term anyway’ but apart from perhaps the week before the summer holidays, for me at least that simply isn’t the case.

I totally understand the argument that price hikes during school holidays mean that some families simply can’t afford to go on holiday unless they go during term time. I don’t necessarily think that fining parents is the answer but neither is allowing them to take their kids out of school whenever they feel like it. I live in Scotland where there are no fines parents who take their children out of school for family holidays. Here it would seem though that parents are taking advantage of the system – the number of children taking unauthorised absences almost doubled in the decade from 2003 to 2013.

In Scotland schools have the ability to authorise term time holidays in exceptional circumstances so perhaps the solution would be to leave it up to the schools to make individual decisions based on the circumstances of each family and, heaven forbid, use a bit of common sense! The school could look at the educational and/ or emotional benefit of the holiday, and also the amount of disruption to that child and to other children in the class that an absence would cause.

Of course I doubt that will happen. What is more likely to happen is that the government will try and close the loop hole in the law which refers to ‘regular attendance’ at school, and parents will continue to take their kids out of school during term time and pay the fines, because it’s still cheaper than paying to take your family away during the school holidays.

And as for me, will I ever take my kids out of school for a family holiday? Well, apart from the fact that if I am working as a teacher myself I can’t take term time holidays, I won’t be taking my kids out of school unless it’s absolutely necessary. There are ways of having holidays outside of term time without it completely breaking the bank and that’s what we’ll be doing. Unless of course some fantastic educational opportunity presents itself somewhere down the line…never say never after all!

I’d love to hear what you think about term time holidays – are they ever justifiable?

Toby Goes Bananas

Excuse me while I scream

I just wanted to put up a quick post to say it might be a bit quiet round these parts for a week or so. Life is definitely throwing us lemons at the moment and I’m not sure I have the energy to make lemonade. It’s nothing really serious and I feel guilty for complaining when so many have it worse than us but….

If you read my posts regularly you’ll know Gabe has been ill and/or teething since about February. Well after his fifth and sixth teeth cut a couple of weeks ago he seemed much better and we thought he might get a bit of a break but he seems to be teething again but with no sign of any more teeth actually appearing.

Then two weeks ago Toby was sick twice then spent the next couple of days getting back to normal. We thought Gabe had managed to avoid it because he wasn’t sick but he’s had horrible sloppy nappies since, which I put down to teething, but after speaking to the health visitor it seems it could be that he had the bug too and it’s taking him a long time to get over it. The nappies are driving me mad – I’m changing him every hour almost and half of them are leaking meaning I have to change all his clothes too. He’s been really unsettled the last couple of nights too – going to bed at 6:30pm as usual but then waking up an hour or two later and just crying and crying and taking hours to settle again. Last night Barry ended up taking him out in the buggy at 10pm just to get him to sleep. I’m finding it really hard to deal with his constant unsettled-ness and I hate that I can never tell what’s wrong with him. I just can’t wait until these baby days are over, and it makes me sad that I feel that way.

On top of all this we’re selling our house and trying to get it ready to put on the market this week (more news on that front soon). We’ve had to start packing and putting stuff in the garage because our house is full to the brim and we need to clear loads out to get the photos done. I’ve made a good start and was counting on a couple of hours tomorrow afternoon while both boys are at nursery to get things finished before the photographer comes at 4pm. But it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen now because Toby has woken up with morning with what looks suspiciously like chicken pox!!

And we’re supposed to be going to Center Parcs on Monday too. I mean, seriously, you couldn’t make this shit up!!

So anyway, my point is…with all this going on blogging might have to take a back seat for a week or two. I’m really hoping we manage to get away next week and I know there isn’t wifi in the lodges anyway so I’m just going to switch off from it all for a week and hopefully we’ll see you rested and recovered on the other side!

Toby Goes Bananas

Living Arrows 19/52 (2016)

We have, at last, all been relatively well this week (well, at least after Barry recovered from the bug that Toby had the week before). Nobody has got a cold for, I think, the first time since about February!

Gabe is still teething though and he has been having the most horrific teething poos ever – nearly every one leaks out of his nappy and requires a full change of clothes. The one at 2 am the other night that went right through to his sleeping bag was a real treat! He’s been OK in himself though – off his food a bit but I can’t say I blame him. I’m just hoping these next teeth come soon and we can all have a break.

I haven’t had the big camera out all this week though so both Living Arrows photos are iPhone snaps – I took this one of Gabe when I was pushing him up to the shop. He isn’t the easiest of babies sometimes but when he looks at you like this it does make all the sleepless nights worthwhile.

Gabe giving me a cute smile in the buggy

And I took this picture of Toby and his daddy at bedtime the other night. Toby has got really into his books in the last few months and we always have a bedtime story (or three!). Usually we end up reading the same stories over and over again for a few weeks and then he’ll have a change of heart and move onto something else, but the other night he chose a Noddy book for his daddy to read. This book actually belonged to me and my brother when we were little and I’ve had it (along without about six other Noddy books) for years, ever since I left home I think. I don’t know if you’ve ever read a Noddy book but they’re quite long so he’s been having one chapter a night. I wasn’t sure if he’d have the patience to sit through a longer story but he seems to be enjoying it…and I just love watching my lovely husband and my biggest boy enjoying time together.

Toby and his daddy reading Noddy at bedtime

Living Arrows

Toby Goes Bananas

I cuddle my children to sleep // Bedtime with a baby and a toddler

I cuddle my children to sleep. I hold them until they fall asleep and then I give them a kiss and put them gently into bed. And as long as they want me to I’m going to carry on doing it.

Cuddling Toby to sleep

When Toby was a baby I read all the books, all the advice, about how you should put your baby in bed in that elusive ‘sleepy but awake’ state. As it turned out from a few months old I could put Toby into bed wide awake, say ‘sleepy time now Toby’, shut the door and leave him to happily go to sleep by himself.

Somewhere along the line though that changed. He would happily go in his cot but start screaming as soon as we tried to leave the room. It was about the same time that he started refusing to let his daddy put him to bed and so I always had to do it. I lost count of the number of hours I spent, heavily pregnant, sat on his bedroom floor, slowly inching towards the door as he fell asleep before I could eventually make it out of the room. In that stage no amount of cuddling seemed to help – he wouldn’t fall asleep on me but wouldn’t fall asleep without me there either. This happened in the middle of the night too and I spent quite a lot of time sleeping on his bedroom floor too.

And then when Toby was two we decided that his nap had to go. About the same time he also stopped having a bottle at bedtime. And without a nap he would get ready for bed, sit on my knee and quite often before I had even got to the end of Somewhere over the Rainbow (my bedtime song of choice) he would be fast asleep. When he was two and a half he moved from his cot to a bed and for some reason I decided I should be putting in him bed awake rather than cuddling him to sleep but after a couple of nights when we were back to the sitting on the bedroom floor until he fell asleep routine I suddenly thought ‘why I am doing this?’ Toby is happiest falling asleep on my lap, it makes absolutely no difference to whether or not he will wake up in the night or not, so why am I putting us both through this? Just because that’s what the ‘experts’ tell me I should be doing.

So now we’re back to our bedtime cuddles. Usually I do it but Toby is happy for his daddy to put him to bed these days too. And I will keep on cuddling Toby to sleep for as long as he wants me too but I fear our days are numbered. Some nights Toby decides he wants to get in bed to fall asleep, although for now he still wants one of us to sit in the chair until he does. I guess those nights will become more frequent and one day he won’t want bedtime cuddles at all.

But I’ll still have Gabe. I can count on one hand the number of times he’s been put in bed awake and gone to sleep by himself. In the very early days he would fall asleep after feeding and I couldn’t put him down straight away because he was very likely to be sick. We moved onto bottles and he would still often fall asleep while feeding or straight after but would need to be held for a while before he could safely be put down. And now, we have to wait until he’s fast asleep before trying the tricky manoeuvre of getting him in bed, on his tummy, without him waking up. Because if he does wake up then you usually have to pick him up and settle him all over again. It’s not always ideal but I know it won’t last forever.

Cuddles with sleepy Gabe

One day neither of my boys will want me to cuddle them to sleep so no one is going to make me stop until they decide they’re ready to go to sleep by themselves.

Do you cuddle your children to sleep or do they go to sleep by themselves? I’d love to know if my experience is similar to other people’s.




Toby Goes Bananas

My Wild Ones // Weaning: the story so far

The lovely Hannah is on holiday in Italy this week so she has asked me to host My Wild Ones which is very exciting! I’ve got a slightly different post this week – instead of just sharing a day out as I often do I’m going to shift the focus to Gabe and share some photos of his weaning adventures so far.

We started weaning with Gabe when he turned six months old so we have been going for about two and half months now. Just like with Toby we launched right in with a mixture of finger foods and spoon feeding. We’re not doing full on babyled weaning but equally I have never pureed anything either.

Gabe took to solid food straight away. The first thing he actually ate was some cinnamon and raisin bagel – perhaps not the textbook first food but it happened to be what Toby was having for lunch so I just gave him a bit!

Gabe's very first taste

He tried some melon that day too, although I don’t think he actually ate very much of it.

Stress less weaning with some melon

Since then Gabe has had all sorts of bread products – breadsticks are still a firm favourite, as well as lots of different fruits and vegetables and things like yoghurt, Weetabix and porridge too. Most mornings he has his practice at picking up Cheerios too – not only a tasty breakfast but also a fantastic way of developing fine motor skills!

Cheerio picking up practice

What we have found though is that although Gabe is happy to feed himself he still doesn’t manage to eat an awful lot that way, but he really likes his food and seems hungry. He also started waking for night feeds again, having not had them since he was about three or four months. So in an effort to get more food into him during the day, and hopefully fill him up, he has been having half of one of the seven month plus pouches for lunch and dinner, alongside some finger foods at every meal too. He is still perfectly happy to be spoon fed too – and loves to play with the spoon after he’s finished. I’ve not been brave enough to let him try and eat off the spoon himself yet though!

Having a go with the spoon

We are now starting to try and move on a bit from the pouches (which have lumps but are still soft) and introduce more textured food to he can just eat what we eat. He’s got six teeth now so biting shouldn’t be too much of a problem! Last week we were having Swedish meatballs with pasta and broccoli and he had a really good go at that so I think he’s getting ready to move on to the next stage of weaning.

Inspecting some pasta

Although he’s always been pretty good at picking things up and getting them in his mouth he’s definitely getting more accurate and generally better at it now – even when it’s slippery banana.

Weaning at eight months

I’m also very excited that we are going to be working with Babymoov on their Stress-less Weaning project over the coming months. We’ll be trying out some of their products and working with a nutritionist too answer all our weaning questions too. You can see Gabe’s snazzy new Babymoov highchair in some of the more recent pictures and you’ll be seeing some of the other goodies we’ve been sent very soon.

So now it’s over to you – I’d love you to link up your posts for My Wild Ones here while Hannah is away.

A few guidelines for linking up:

  • Link up one post per week with the theme of My Wild Ones. It could be a post about your child/children exploring inside or out; the idea is that it’s a photo project of candid childhood photography.
  • The post can be a one photo, a series of photos, or a combination of text and photos.
  • Comment on at least one other blog.
  • Please pop the badge at the bottom of your blog post
  • Don’t forget to tag me on Twitter – @tobygoesbananas – and I’ll retweet your posts as many times as you share them! You could also use #MyWildOnes to share, if you fancy.
  • Linky opens every Thursday and closes the following Monday.

Toby Goes Bananas