Sunday, 31 July 2016

My baby at 6 months

Baby lying on her tummy looking at the camera next to a little girl lying on her tummy listening to music on an ipod
Little and M


Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Kidloland Review: the singing educational app

Screenshot of Kidloland opening screen with text "KidloLand Nursery Rhymes, Songs & Games For Kids"

KidloLand is aimed at children aged 0-5 and claims to be "The perfect preschool companion for your child". This educational app is full of songs and animations to help children learn without realising. It includes songs to teach the alphabet, phonetics, colours, shapes, months, days and general knowledge. It even teaches children how to count to ten (well 100 actually).

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

What is Baby Led Weaning?

Having started again on the weaning journey I thought I would share 10 things which baby led weaning means to me.

A picture of a baby covered in bolognase sauce with the writing "What is Baby Led Weaning? Giving your baby a bath 3 times a day" written over the top

Monday, 25 July 2016

Summer Holiday Activity Ideas

It’s already the end of July, but the school summer holidays have only just begun. Whatever the weather there are a lot of days to fill up if you have children home with you. If you are working through the summer the long days give you more of an opportunity to go out and have fun with your children after work and at weekends. I love this time of year for all the extra time it feels like you have.

One of my least favourite phrases at the moment is “I want the iPad”, which in many a temper tantrum has deteriorated into “iPaddy, iPaddddyyyyyyyyy!”. I am happy for M to watch TV or go on the iPad, but if she has too much screen time her behaviour definitely gets worse so I often try to suggest alternative activities first.

The National Trust launched 50 things to do before you are 11 3/4s several years ago. It’s filled with ideas of activities to get children out and about. They range from some of the very simple childish pleasures which cost nothing such as rolling down a really big hill and playing pooh sticks to the more adventurous canoeing down a river.
A copy of 50 Things to do before you're 11 3/4 book 2016 edition on grass


Saturday, 23 July 2016

Introducing solids: 2 major milestones

Milestones rush by so quickly when you have a baby. I thought with my second child I would take more time to enjoy each moment and not rush my baby in anyway to grow up, but last week a milestone went by without me noticing until afterwards. Last week, while we were on holiday, we introduced Little to food. For some time we had planned to start weaning her while we were on holiday in France and I kept joking about her first food being croissant (it wasn’t). Holiday seemed the perfect time to introduce food because Little’s Daddy would be around and she would be nearly 6 months. 

Having followed Baby Led Weaning with M I always intended to do the same with Little. I can’t be bothered to make puree or spoon feed and the ease and laziness of letting babies feed themselves appeals to me strongly. On the first night of holiday we offered Little some of the broccoli we had for dinner and unsurprisingly she did what she has been doing with nearly everything for months; she picked it up and put it in her mouth. For pudding she had some watermelon. Both foods were munched on, mushed up a lot and periodically dropped on the floor. 
A nearly 6 month old baby in a white highchair, striped babygrow and white hat holding a piece of broccoli and considering it
Hmm what's this little tree?
Shot from above of a white high chair tray covered in small pieces of broccoli and a baby sitting in the highchair
Broccoli, the aftermath
At subsequent meal times Little was offered a range of foods including cucumber, crusty bread, peach, apricot, lamb, beef, melon, more cucumber and red pepper. She seemed to enjoy them all and after the first few meals she really improved how well she was able to hold the food. The majority of food ended up on the floor, but gradually she was consuming (or mushing up) larger amounts.

It was after a couple of days into this planned weaning that I realised that in the excitement of watching Little eat her first foods I had missed a major milestone. For roughly 15 months I had been the soul provider of food and nourishment. While growing her in my belly and later though my breastmilk Little had been totally dependent on me. Until the beginning of the holiday the smiling, rolling, giggling little girl was grown entirely by me (and a teeny bit of her Daddy’s DNA), but from the moment she swallowed that small piece of broccoli she was on her first step to independence. 

I fully buy in to the idea that food before one is just for fun and I expect Little to continue to take the majority of her nourishment from breastmilk for some time to come, but to me the beginning of the consumption of food is a huge milestone.

Little is loving food. She complains if you eat in front of her and don’t offer her anything, when her tray is clear she bangs her palms on it until she is offered more food and she gives you a big smile when she is given more. We definitely can’t go back now and I need to get my head round meal planning, shopping and having suitable snacks. It’s an exciting time, but there is still a small part of me that regrets that we started on this journey without recognising I was going to feel this loss and that I don’t even remember the last time I breastfed her before food was introduced. 
A baby sitting in a white high chair in the garden eating a piece of watermelon
Our babies grow up so quickly and yet again I’m trying to promise myself I won’t take any of it for granted because there are so many last times which come with the first times e.g. the first roll is the last time you can leave them on a high surface with your back turned, the first crawl is the last time you can leave them unaccompanied in a none baby proofed room and the first time they pull themselves up is the last time surfaces are safe. Each milestone is an exciting time to be celebrated, but leaving behind their baby days is sad too. 

Please baby, don’t grow up too fast.

Friday, 22 July 2016

My Summer Holiday Snapshot

I’m sitting here surrounded by suitcases with their contents spilling out all over the floor. A pile of post and parcels in the corner plus a collection of take away menus all over the placemat. Yes that’s right I’m back from holiday, in fact I have been back a few days and it will be a couple more days before the house returns to normal. 

I’m not one of those people who unpacks as soon as they get home. I know I *should* put the washing on and clear the backlog, but I just want to stretch that holiday feeling out a little bit longer.

A photo posted by Kate Kirk (@essexkate) on

I’ve had lots of messages since we got back saying “I hope you had a relaxing break” or “We hope you had a rest”. I can only assume these people don’t know or have forgotten what it’s like to go on holiday with young children. When M was a baby I didn’t think there was any point going on holiday because you just end up doing the same routine in a new location without all the comforts of home. Going on holiday with a nearly 6 month old Little it definitely felt that way at times (I spent a huge amount of the time trying to get her to sleep), but it was nice to have good weather, see family and spend more time with my partner. 

We arrived to a temperature in the mid 20s, but it creeped up each day to a high of 40 degrees celsius. Staying at my Mum’s house in France most days were spent playing in the swimming pool and messing about in the garden. We spotted a lot of wildlife and most of the photographs I took which aren’t of my girls are of butterflies, dragonflies and the occasional amphibian (including a toad which came to visit me in the kitchen one morning).

M had a great time. The first year we went out there she was only 1 and she was scared of the swimming pool. Each year she has got a bit more confident and this year she went straight in the pool, she was fairly relaxed getting water in her face and even attempted a little bit of swimming without armbands.
A nearly 5 year old splashing in a swimming pool in a pink swimming costume and arm bands
Splish splash
It’s funny how on holiday it’s so easy to lose touch with the outside world. I occasionally connected to the internet to check emails and social media, but generally I had no idea what was going on beyond the sleepy hamlet in Southern France. On Monday night we ate at a night market. Many villages host these events in the summer where they put out tables and benches and a number of local vendors come to sell food and drink. At the beginning of the evening they announced they would hold a minutes silence for Nice. My partner and I said “Huh?” and once we had made my Mum appreciate we had no clue what they were talking about we were quickly filled in. I then had to explain to my nearly 5 year old why there was going to be a minutes silence while still processing the shock. It was hard to stand there with tears in my eyes surrounded by French people who had recently lost more of their countrymen (women and children) in a heartless attack and listen to them sing La Marseillaise (the French national anthem/ call to arms).

The news has been bleak recently with so much hate and fear. Having a break from it all was a relief, but it seems it’s not possible to shut it all out. I will do my best to make the world a better place by challenging hate and showing my girls as much love as possible. Focusing on my family, having fun and making happy memories in our own quiet little way.
A nearly 5 year old girl and a nearly 6 month old girl sitting on the floor in front of a stone wall. They both wearing white and blue striped dresses and the bigger girl holds a blue flower on the baby's head
M & Little

A swallowtail butterfly on a buddleia bush with a stone court yard in the background
I'm reliably informed this is a Southern Swallow Tail Butterfly

A dad holds a baby dressed in pink in a swimming pool, her big sister splashes in the background
Little cools off in the pool

A photo posted by Kate Kirk (@essexkate) on


Tuesday, 12 July 2016

10 brilliant subscription boxes

I love to discover new things. And I love to get parcels. Fortunately you can get anything by post these days and as the post man and my neighbours will confirm I like to test this theory. One of my guilty pleasures is monthly subscription boxes. For a small fee it is like someone sending you a present each month that you get to open and enjoy. The thought and effort which goes into some of these boxes is impressive and the surprise element makes it a lot of fun. There are now 100s of subscription boxes available so I thought I would write about some of my favourites.


Sunday, 10 July 2016

#MySundayPhoto - Christmas is coming

This week I was lucky enough to attend a number of the Christmas in July events. These showcases are designed to display a companies Christmas offering to Press. I get really excited about these experiences for 3 main reasons:

  • I love Christmas and I don't see any reason why we shouldn't have a mini celebration in the middle of the year. Christmas trees, decorations, music, food, drink and even presents. Why wait until December?
  • I love finding out about new products and what trends are expected to be big this year.
  • I love being able to talk to the companies, PRs and buyers to find out more about products. Talking to the people who have helped get the products to market is a fascinating insight and a rare opportunity. 
Being a blogger is totally awesome, albeit hard work. Spending 3 days going into London with a baby was hard work and I respect anyone that managed to go to more events than me, I was exhausted after 6. I got home each night unfit to do anything beyond have a quick browse though my pictures and make notes about what I saw.

The picture below was taken at the Tesco event and I love the shadows on the wall so I wanted to share it while joining with Photalife's My Sunday Photo Linky.


Saturday, 9 July 2016

Holiday Anxiety

I’m going on holiday soon. As I’m going to stay with my Mum in France it means it’s relatively low stress, but like any trip away from home I feel the need to plan weeks ahead to ensure that I have everything necessary and to reduce the last minute anxiety.

I have gone through the “where are all the passports?” panic, cleared off the “have we got travel insurance?” anxiety and eliminated the concerns about how we’ll get to the airport.

However I am still experiencing the butterflies of Little going on her first flight and holiday abroad. The cold sweats about how a 5 month old will cope if temperatures are high, and the angst over what we’ll do with a 4 year old if it’s rainy.
I am distressed at the thought of wearing a bikini and not being able to fit into any of my summer clothes. Admittedly I have the excuse that 6 months ago my belly was ginormous and stuffed full of baby so we might be able to ignore the truth that I am rather heavier than I was a few weeks post birth.

Until I have packed I will have the jitters that our luggage allowance won’t be enough, and until I pack to go home again I will doubt I have packed everything needed for me and the girls (G can do his own packing). 

I also have the uneasiness over how much the holiday will cost given the current performance of the Pound against the Euro and the foreboding about how difficult future trips to Europe might be.

Despite all this dread I’m looking forward to the holiday. I have my lists of everything to buy, everything to pack and everything to sort out before we go. For me lists and forward planning are how I keep calm. Or relatively calm. I need to feel in control and have everything sorted well in advance. 

On the day of the flight I will annoy everyone by running round finishing of all the last minute bits. If they are lucky I will stay in a good mood and not snap due to my fear of missing the flight. Hopefully we will arrive at the airport ridiculously early (like normal), but at least that gives us plenty of time for numerous loo breaks, a possible tantrum in duty free when I refuse to buy M some oversized cuddly toy and ideally time to have a tasty but over priced breakfast.

For me I don’t start to relax until we have dropped the bags and gone through security. As I put my phone back in my pocket, the iPad back in the Trunki and replace my shoes I exhale. A long, slow exhalation of a breath I have been holding for about a month. Finally the holiday is happening, time to relax.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

#MySundayPhoto - Festival Life

I haven't been to Glastonbury for 7 years, but still every year when it's on I feel sad not to be there. From the moment I arrived on site until the time came to pack everything away I felt completely chilled. From discovering new bands to just wondering around all the different fields and experiencing new things the days I spent there recharged every part of me.

I haven't been brave enough to go to a proper festival since my life has been enhanced by children although I hope to go to Camp Bestival in the next couple of years. This week I introduced my children to the concept of hanging out in a field regardless of the weather, wondering in and out of tents and being opened to new experiences.

This week we went to the 3 Foot People Festival in Hylands Park (Chelmsford). This festival is not just aimed at, but exclusively for, children under 5. In fact if you are 6 to 15 you aren't even allowed in and all adults have to be accompanied by a child. This gives the festival a wonderful safe and friendly vibe. Just like any good festival it has so much to do, there was: an area full of rocking horses, a sand pit, a dance tent, messy play, a craft tent, performing arts, a small petting zoo, swings, face painting and loads to play with. The opportunity to try non contact rugby, Karate, Glastonbabies, Tumbletots, Baby Sensory and more activities that I have forgotton. Anyone 2 to 5 is spoiled for choice about what to do.

M loved it and wanted to go back again the next day so I think we will definitely try a few more mini festivals and a bit of camping. Unsurprisingly her least favourite bit was the portaloo's, but if I can find a way for her not to be scared to go the toilet we will have a fantastic time.

4 year old on a tyre swing in bright clothes and wellies. She has a flower garland on her head and is at 3 foot people festival in Chelmsford 2016


Friday, 1 July 2016

My baby at 5 months

Little hasn’t been very well during the last month. She started with a cough, which improved, but then she had her 3rd lot of immunisations. I struggled to get any Calpol into her so her temperature went up and up and up. When her temperature reached 39.5 degrees we made the decision to take her to hospital. This was about 5am in the morning so I took M over to her Dad’s and went to spend the morning sitting in A&E. Fortunately by the time we got there her temperature had already gone down a bit. There is a possibility that the temperature wasn’t accurate since I was measuring it with one of those cooking thermometer’s which you stick in food, but as I stuck it under Little’s arm and mine she was at least 3 degrees warmer. I have since purchased a new thermometer designed for babies instead of baking.

The nurse tried to give Little some medicine orally and she wouldn’t take it from her either, but since the temperature was lower we were discharged. Just as Little was recovering from the immunisation induced fever her cough came back in the form of bronchiolitis which she is still suffering from a couple of weeks later. 

In addition last week M woke up in the middle of the night having thrown up, while she was back to her normal self the next day, 2 day’s later her little sister woke up with the same bug. It hit Little a lot harder and over a week later she is just getting back to herself. 
Little at 5 months