small-pleasures-3-lifebylotte

Blame the fact I’m reading The Handmaid’s Tale at the moment, blame the fact that November seems to be dragging on unbearably long, blame the fact that I haven’t been out for dinner with friends for nearly ten weeks now as I’ve been totally housebound six nights a week, meaning adult conversation is somewhat limited – whatever it is, I’ve been in a very reflective mood lately.

The other night, I made Oli do some silly quiz someone had posted on Facebook – a bit like Mr & Mrs, you had to answer questions about the other person. One of them was ‘What do you like the most about me?’ and, somewhat incredibly I think, Oli said my ‘positivity’. I nearly fell out of bed (we were just about to go to sleep). I try very hard to stay positive, but I do have a tendency to moan on – for me a bit of whinging is cathartic and I do love a good rant. Generally speaking though, I’m quite a content person. When I moan I’m trying to make light of things – it’s my way of dealing with stuff, trying to turn it into some silly exaggerated joke.

Having said that, I have been trying really hard to be positive lately, which has been really tough, given the state of the world in general. There’s an interesting message in The Handmaid’s Tale which basically says ‘we didn’t know how good we had it until it all changed’ and that’s kind of how I feel about the state of things world-wise at the moment. It’s all very good thinking change will be better, but what if it’s not, what if it’s worse?

small-pleasures-lifebylotte

Anyway, in order to counteract this rather deep-seated sense of malaise and fear – especially as I have a little one to think of, imagining the world she’s coming into is terrifying quite frankly – I’ve been trying to appreciate the small things in life. Each day, trying to live in the present (which is one of my top tips for coping with life in general actually). I do think having a baby makes you appreciate the simple things – it’s a cliche because it’s true. I used to be all about fancy events, expensive clothes and handbags and, well… showing off, and while I do still like most of these things (!), they seem to come at a price. But it’s the little things that now bring me those small thrills of excitement, like you used to get as a kid.

So, here are a few of my simple pleasures. Things that make me smile. I’d love to hear yours too.

small-pleasures2-lifebylotte

  1. Cold walks wrapped in big coats. Watching my breath mist in the air.
  2. Online shopping arriving (especially when it’s something cute for the baby).
  3. The smell of Christmas candles. Candles in general. Let’s be honest, they don’t have quite the same effect on long summer evenings.
  4. Lebkuchen.
  5. My daily gin and tonic once the baby is asleep at 7pm.
  6. Writing. It’s been hard – I’ve written about 76,000 words now, done over just nine weeks, and am nearly finished with the first draft. But it’s so satisfying to be working on something that I feel passionate about.
  7. My blow fan heater. Economical it may not be, but god that thing brings me joy. #toastytoes
  8. The baby running around naked before her bath every night and being ridiculously excited about it.
  9. Getting a decent night’s sleep after a year of not doing so. Just waking up and not feeling exhausted is amazing – I will never take sleep for granted again!
  10. The Missing. I don’t watch much telly at all, but this is addictively good and I get very excited when I realise it’s Wednesday and there’s another episode on.
  11. Christmas coffees – OK, they are responsible for around half a stone in weight gain each year but still. No one has to see my white flabby thighs, it’s winter.
  12. And on that note… no one has to see my white flabby thighs, it’s winter. I don’t have to shave my legs every day and faff about with fake tan. Hurrah for low-maintenance beauty.
  13. The colour of the leaves on the trees outside my office window. It’s insanely beautiful. I have tried photographing them but my windows need cleaning and the pictures don’t do them justice. Instead, please enjoy these recent pics by my professional photographer sister. Suffice to say, nature beats everything.

Oh god, have I just described hygge? Shoot me now.

small-pleasures4-lifebylotte

15-month-baby-update-2-lifebylotte

Hello hello! I’m a bit late with this one, sorry! Daph turned 15 months last Thursday (which was also my mum’s birthday) and I kind of forgot until later on the evening. When people ask me how old she is these days I tend to say one and I actually have to think about it if people want the precise number of months – time is rushing past so quickly!

Development wise, not much has changed in the past month. She’s still not walking and is showing no signs of starting, but she is much more confident standing now and can stand unsupported for about two seconds before her little legs decide to give up. She’s also started cruising around the furniture. The only time I mind about her being behind with this is when we’re out and about and I think how much easier it would be if she could walk. That’s been the biggest frustration of the last month actually – she has decided she hates going shopping, or being restrained in any way (eg in a pushchair or a trolley). She just wants to be crawling everywhere and anywhere, and doesn’t seem to understand why that isn’t allowed in the supermarket.

We had a really fun moment on Friday in M&S when she just totally lost it and started screaming at the top of her lungs in the trolley – a proper tantrum. Everyone stared at me. EVERYONE. A little old lady walked past and said ‘Oh dear, someone’s not very happy are they?’ and I wanted to say ‘Damn right I’m not, I’ve had enough.’ Daph’s screaming is really very very impressive and could probably shatter glass. I remember how, before I had Daph, I used to think ‘Oh god, why do people with bratty kids take them to supermarkets in the first place?’ and I have to say, I had no good answer for my old self on Friday.

It was so bad actually, that I left Oli to it and took her back to the car. I resisted the urge to weep. I envied the days when people could stick their babies in prams and leave them outside shops without fear of them being kidnapped. (Sort of).

15-month-baby-update-lifebylotte

What else what else… oooh, one of the best things is she has finally started feeding herself, which has been amazing. She always ‘could’ feed herself (eg if I give her a biscuit she knows what to do with it) but at mealtimes she stubbornly used to sit there staring at whatever we put in front of her, waiting for us to feed her. This definitely ties in with her lack of interest in walking – she’s figured out that life’s easier if you get other people to do stuff for you, and don’t trouble yourself with doing anything on your own. But in the last week or so (thanks I think in large part to my mum having less patience when she looks after her on Wednesdays) she’s started to pick up food and put it in her mouth All By Herself. The other day she ate a whole (slice of) pizza all by herself, and then followed it up with a mandarin (cut into pieces). It was amazing to be able to eat my own piece of pizza before it got cold, and watch her happily helping herself. There was a LOT of mess, obvs, and I had to leave my OCD hat on the peg, but I’ve bought her one of those brilliant bibs that is basically like a bib jumper and covers everything, so at least she’s not ruining her clothes… I’ve long given up on the carpet under the dining table (who puts carpet in dining rooms anyway, morons).

As for talking, ‘tea’ is definitely her first word (she says it whenever she sees a mug), and she’s added lots of other interesting sounds to her repertoire in the last month. I love listening to her babble away because now it sounds as though she thinks she’s actually saying real sentences, with little inflections that go up at the end, as though she’s asking a question. She’s also started giving us kisses along with the cuddles. It’s all very adorable.

Her sleep is back to normal, although we had a few days of nap refusal which weren’t fun. Generally though she’s still having two naps a day, one at 9.30am and another at 2.30pm, and then going to bed at 6.30 and is (usually) asleep by 7. However, the time she wakes up each day seems to vary enormously which is weird – the past few days have been 5.45am *weeps* but earlier in the week she was doing more like 6.30 – 7. No idea how to make this more consistent, as she always goes to bed at the same time, and her bedtime routine is identical every night. I guess that some days she’s just less tired than others?! She’s been sleeping through though, 90% of the time, which is great.

Her sense of humour at the moment is just WONDERFUL, with lots of giggles and cheekiness. She deliberately does ‘naughty’ things (like trying to escape through the cat flap) just to see how we react – it’s VERY hard to tell her off with a straight face when she’s chuckling away at you, her little eyes shining with delight.

So yes, on the whole, a quiet month, apart from the screaming which hasn’t, er, been quiet at all. I hope this is just a phase, as so many things turn out to be, and eventually she’ll cotton on to how wonderful shopping is (yesterday I was in Baby Gap trying to get her some cool new leggings and she STILL had a meltdown, I mean, HONESTLY!) and then we’ll be able to leave the house again. Having a toddler to entertain is SO much easier in the summer when you can take them to the park and let them roam free, and I do so miss all our outdoor pursuits… I guess it’s time to start investigating some soft play areas. Gulp.

discipline-lifebylotte

LEMME OUT!

I’m going to be honest here, trying to write a 90,000 word novel in nine weeks is pushing me to the brink (of something, not sure what). I stare at my laptop on a daily basis and know I should be blogging, but I am totally drained by pumping out 2000 words every night. But today I wanted to write a few words about discipline. Not mine, which seems to be holding up OK no matter how many tempting crappy programmes are on TV. But Daph’s.

She’s currently in the middle of Wonder Week 9 – I think I’ve mentioned the Wonder Weeks before, but if not then click on the link to find out more. I was quite sold on their theories when Daph was tiny, but as she’s grown, a couple of the ‘leaps’ have been completely off for us – she’s been grumpy when she’s not meant to be, and vice versa. But this latest leap (thankfully the second to last) has definitely seen a marked change in her behaviour. She’s pushing boundaries all the time (and not in some groundbreaking scientist way, but more in a pushing-her-luck-with-mummy way) and it’s quite exhausting. She’s whining a lot, is incredibly clingy with me in particular, is sleeping at random times during the day and not falling asleep easily at night, and is generally being quite ‘challenging’.

The most difficult thing with Daphne is her patience. Or lack thereof. She’s always been quite feisty, and I do like it – rather that than a wallflower – but if we go out to the shops or whatever now, within 10 minutes she’s screaming her head off trying to get out of her pushchair, and generally kicking up a stink. If she doesn’t get what she wants immediately, she has a meltdown. Yesterday I had grand visions of us enjoying a nice Sunday lunch together as a family, but this went out the window as soon as we plonked Daph in her high chair in the restaurant. She screamed, and bashed her little fists about, leant over the edge nearly toppling over – she was desperate to get out. People stared. I felt embarrassed and regretted taking her. Eventually I grabbed her and she sat on my lap for most of the meal (of which she ate very little, while screaming for no apparent reason as I tried to eat mine). Everything I’ve read lately has said that this is the prime time to ‘lay the groundwork’ to ensure that she doesn’t turn into a terrible two year old. But I don’t really know where to start.

I’ve downloaded a few toddler books and they mostly refer to using a ‘naughty step’ system or similar, but all also (un)helpfully explain that it doesn’t work until kids are around 2 and have enough verbal understanding to know what on earth is going on. At present when Daph kicks off, we mostly try to distract her as a means of calming her down, but I do often give in for an easy life (eg picking her up and carrying her when she’s moaning in the pushchair, taking her out of the playpen when she screams) and I think I’m probably making a rod for my own back. Anything for an easy life. Ironically, I wish I could lose my temper a bit more with her – I hardly ever do, I just get tired – but perhaps I need to raise my voice a bit to let her know ‘I’m serious’. On the handful of occasions I have shouted at her in the past, she’s just found it hilariously funny, which wasn’t really what I was aiming for.

So yes, really this is a bit of a cry for help. If anyone has any tips on how to deal with temper tantrums in 15 month olds, I’d love to hear them! I am going to try being a bit firmer and ignore her whining. My mum has also suggested offering her choices, so for example, if she doesn’t want to eat her dinner, rather than trying to force it into her (I have long since realised this never works) I take it away and offer her a mandarin or a yoghurt instead, and usually she’s happy to eat one of those (or both). I do understand that everything that’s going on in her little head at the moment is related to wanting to be in control and can imagine that a toddler’s life is a very frustrating one, but so is a parent’s! 😉

Here are some more of the tips we’re going to try:

  1. Distraction – we’ve got this one down but it’s beginning to lose its effectiveness and I am slightly worried I’m shortening her attention span (eg if she screams in the supermarket, I give her my keys to play with – this used to fascinate her for ages, now they are boring after five minutes…). I think I need to take more toys with us when we’re out and about, and should probably get some more board books, as she loves them. Also, I’m thinking of saving some special toys for when we’re out and about, so she’s not bored of them
  2. Sitting with her on my lap facing outwards – if she’s screeching or whining for no apparent reason, I’m going to sit with her facing away from me and give her no attention whatsoever. I’m hoping she’ll soon figure out the cause-and-effect here. We ignored her when she went through her biting phase and I’m happy to say she’s no longer doing that, so hopefully this will work again (although I know that screeching is a whole different ballgame!)
  3. Trying to sound strict – altering my tone of voice/facial expression when I say no (in the past I’ve probably been a bit too mild). And explaining to her why I am saying no, even if it does seem she’s too young to understand me
  4. Giving her choices – as explained above with mealtimes and also things like what top to wear, which socks to put on etc
  5. If she throws something or drops it deliberately, she doesn’t get it back, or get another one (eg a biscuit when we’re out and about – she quite often drops them over the side of the pushchair and looks at me for my reaction, because she knows it’s wrong)
  6. Giving her loads of praise when she does something good – we’ve started this already and it sits with me better than anything else. I’ve been going ridiculously OTT if she feeds herself nicely, or tries to use the fork herself etc
  7. Limiting snacks – so she’s hungrier at meal times and eats better
  8. Screaming to get out of her playpen / cot – this is going to the hardest but once I’ve established she’s OK and it’s just attention, I’m going to ignore her… *gulp*
  9. Full-on tantrums – eventually if she has one (I can tell it’s only a matter of time), we’ll put her in her room on her own (or maybe her cot) and shut the door for a minute. This seems mean to me but I’m hoping will give her a chance to learn to calm herself down

So yes, that’s my very rough plan for surviving this phase. As I said, I would love to know of any obvious tricks or tips that I’m missing – please do share with me here or on Facebook!

cutting-baby-hair-lifebylotte

…that is the question! In case the photo doesn’t make it obvious, I’m talking about Daph’s hair. She’s got quite crazy hair really – nothing like it was when she was born (when it was almost black and thick at the back with none on the top). Now, she has loads on the top, a kind of long side fringe going on, and just a few wispy curls at the back. It’s so cute but the long bit gets in her eyes all the time. Which is why she usually has a hairclip in. The hairclips work quite well until she realises they are there and then gets pissed off and tries to yank them out, usually taking some hair with them and making herself cry in the process.

I really have no idea about cutting a baby’s hair – what do most people do? I sort of imagined that I’d never cut it, actually, as it feels a bit sacriligeous. I imagined I’d just leave it to grow until she was about five, then I’d take her in for a bit of a trim and a tidy up. But as it’s so uneven and so curly, I think it might be good to tidy it up a bit (not least so she can see where she’s going when she’s crawling), but how?!

I asked my hairdresser yesterday (finally got around to having my own hair cut after, gulp, eight months) and she told me to do it when she was in the bath, and just comb it upwards and take a bit off the end. But I’m not sure I can bring myself to do it. Am I the only one who feels stupidly sentimental about cutting her hair? I struggle enough with her damn fingernails, and curly strawberry blonde baby hair is SO much nicer than fingernails. Sniff. Would love to know what others have done – have you kept a lock of your baby’s first hair in a locket around your neck?! Or did you just cut it without thinking twice (ie am I being stupidly sentimental about nothing – very possible!?)?

In other Daph news she is finally talking! Lots of attempts at words that are suddenly becoming recognisable – eg ‘baby’ for a person (whether they’re a baby or not), tea for anything in a mug, Daddy for, er, her daddy, Dee Dee for the woman on the front of the Hush catalogue, who she seems to be obsessed with (perhaps she wishes she was her mother…) and just ‘Dee’ for the cat. She’s also trying to copy everything we say, so if I say ‘book’ she’ll say something like ‘buk’ and it’s so cute. I can’t wait till she can communicate properly with us!

PS hello to anyone who found me because a random baby sleep site posted a link to my rant about the Sleepyhead! I’ve had my entire month’s usual hits in the last four hours, which is somewhat terrifying, as I thought I knew most of my readers personally. Anyway, sorry if you loved the Sleepyhead, didn’t mean to offend anyone or criticise their parenting choices, it’s just something I wish we had never bothered with! I’m always happy to hear that other mums lives have been made easier 🙂

percy3

Our beautiful mog Percy

Apologies! This post is late – again. I’ve had food poisoning/norovirus (no idea how you tell the difference) over the past few days and have been in an absolute state. On the mend now finally, thanks to lots of rest and dioralyte.

This week I wanted to do a quick post about the UK cat killer. A bit random, I know, but actually it’s something I’ve been following lately and it’s really upset me. For those not in the know, there’s a horrible sick git out there taking great pleasure in killing (often decapitating) cats late at night, and leaving them for their owners to find. There’s been more than 100 confirmed murders now, most of which have taken place around the M25. But the police are still no closer to catching the person responsible.

I wanted to write about this because since we moved house, we’ve wondered what to do about Percy and his access to the garden. We have a cat flap in our living room, but as our downstairs is completely open plan this means he can come and go as he pleases, leaving a trail of muddy footprints across our carpet/rug/sofa/dining table/everything (he loves the new garden, and he especially loves digging in the mud). So when we go to bed, we’ve taken to shutting him in the downstairs loo (should add, it’s quite a big loo!), with his bed, litter tray and food etc. It feels quite mean to have him confined to a relatively small area all night, and we were considering getting a cat flap fitted on the loo window too so he could get outside that way, but we’ve decided not to do that until this terrible person has been caught. It’s just not worth the risk.

So yes, that’s what I wanted to say really. Just in case you hadn’t heard about it and have a cat that you love and want to keep safe! Please spread the word. The official advice from the people investigating this killer is to keep your cats indoors at night – most of the killings have taken place over night. If you want to read more about it, there’s an animal rescue organisation in South Norwood (the killings started in Croydon) who have all the information you could need, and there’s lots of stuff in the press too. This is a good article.

leaving-london-lifebylotte

Beautiful Wisley Gardens – a 15 minute drive from our new place

I’m going to be honest with you, having to blog is quite painful right now. Mostly because I am currently trying to write 10,000 words per week of my novel, which means five evenings a week I’m doing 2000 words. I’m having Wednesdays off as that’s when I go to do my session at the Faber Academy. Sunday is my Day of Rest (the only day that Oli doesn’t work, and so the only day we get to spend as a family). So having to open the laptop again today is a little bit depressing, but I don’t want to stop blogging because I do so love the sound of my own voice. And I’m sure you lot do too (heh heh).

(On a sidenote, trying to write 10,000 words a week, last thing at night after the baby has been bathed and put to bed, and I’ve cooked my own dinner, is quite challenging (read: exhausting). I am slightly regretting my over-enthusiastic target. However, I know that if I don’t stick to it I won’t finish my first draft by the time Oli finishes his show. So, onwards till my fingertips fall off and my brain is completely fried, etc etc).

But that’s not what this post is meant to be about. We’ve been living in the new house for a good three months now, and I wanted to share my thoughts on the things that I miss about living in the Big Smoke (does anyone call it that these days?). So here goes, as always, being completely honest…

  1. The shops. This makes me inordinately shallow, I am aware. But I miss living near good shops. We were about a 20 minute walk into Wimbledon town centre from my old flat and it really had most of the things you needed, thanks to the wonder that is Elys department store. There was also a massive M&S right next to my flat, full of lovely baby clothes (plus ready-meals for lazy days), as well as a Mothercare and a Dunelm Mill (yes I lived by a retail park, yes it was ugly, yes it was bloody useful). Where we are now has a decent enough town centre (big Sainsbury’s) but it’s all very chainy and depressing – Next and Monsoon and places like that that I’d never go in (retail snob). It also has a teeny Debenhams. Debenhams is the shittest department store of all department stores. I’m sorry, but it is. Who actually buys Debenhams clothes? Someone must do, but I am still bewildered by why they would.
  2. The transport options. The tube is disgusting and overcrowded and filthy, but my god, is it convenient and easy. I was about five minutes from the tube in my old flat, and I also had buses galore outside my doorstep (this also had its downsides obviously) and could get to Oxford Circus in 20 minutes. As well as this, I could walk to Wimbledon and get on a different tube line AND the overground, so transport options were plentiful. I can’t overestimate how important this is if you’re travelling into town on a regular basis. It just makes life SO much more pleasant when public transport goes tits up, as it invariably does.
  3. Deliveroo. Deliveroo deliverdon’t round here. (I am a little less upset about this after reading that they are shit to their staff.)
  4. Indie restaurants. We have Pizza Express, GBK, Wagas, Carluccio’s – all perfectly serviceable for a quick lunch. But there’s nothing that special on our doorstep – nothing unique, no interesting new cuisines to try. There IS however an awesome chippy, which we have been to about 97 times since moving in.
  5. Public services. No, not dodgy loos or telephone boxes. But things like the doctors and dentists. For all its faults, London seems to be pretty well catered for when it comes to your health. I could walk to both my doctors and my NHS dentist from my flat, and both were excellent. Since moving here I’ve been looking into finding a new GP for us all and most of them aren’t taking new patients – as for NHS dentists, it’d be easier to find a Labour voter. Surrey people seem to like paying for the dentist. I don’t understand why.  I am so cross about this, in fact, that I’ve decided to carry on going to my old dentist for now. If this is immoral or illegal, then please tell me off in the comments (not sure I’ll care however).
  6. Uber. I suspect Uber does operate round here (just about) but the price of a cab home from central London would be about the same as our weekly shop, rather than the £15 or so it used to be.
  7. Oyster cards. I should have put this one up there with trains really. But in order to get into town now I have to buy a paper ticket! It’s so quaint! It’s also very confusing, what with off-peak this and super off-peak that and restrictions on what time you can sneeze at London Waterloo… We’re just outside zone 6 out here, so we also have to shell out more than £20 for a one-day travelcard. Ouch.
  8. Last but very not least – my friends. I miss my London pals. Most of my friends are still London pals (although hurrah for school friends who live near where we’ve moved to!). A few London mates have moved out, like us, but many of them are still in town and lots of them are in SE London, which is a proper trek from me now. Sniff.

BUT do I regret it, despite all this? Absolutely NOT. Here are just some of the things I love about living out of London…

  1. The space. This counts for about five points up there I think. We have space! We have a big garden. We have a front garden. We have a garage. We have off-street parking. It is so lovely not to feel hemmed in on all sides by people and buildings and traffic. It’s the most freeing, stress-releasing thing ever. Big thumbs up.
  2. The air quality. It is awesome. I walk home from the station and maybe one car goes past, and I realise that I can’t smell drains or fried chicken or diesel fumes. OK, so it’s not quite the Scottish highlands, but I really think it’s made a difference to the way I feel.
  3. The people. There are less of them which just makes everything more peaceful, and hands down, people are politer. People in London are so busy, so stressed, so ‘in the middle of something’. Here, people take time to smile at you, hold doors open, have little chats with Daph. It’s so strange, in fact, that first of all I found it a bit unnerving. But whenever I take Daph to Sainsbury’s we get stopped by the cashiers, or little old ladies who want to find out how old she is (and try to make her wave, which is embarrassing, because she usually blows them a raspberry instead). But it just feels so much friendlier as a community. This has surprised me a lot, because I always thought London had a great community feel, but I guess that was just pockets of people in amongst lots of transient people who were just there for work or whatever. So it never felt quite like this. The neighbours here are all very friendly and came round to say hello as soon as we moved in, but they are polite enough to keep their distance too.
  4. The proximity to my folks. OK, this one is a bit niche, but it’s lovely that I’m now only a 20 minute drive from my parents. It’s made babysitting opportunities much more frequent (hurrah!) but also means we don’t have to sit in terrible traffic every time we want to visit them.
  5. And on that note, the traffic. It has its moments round here (school rush hours etc) but mostly it’s A DREAM. Wimbledon is basically a 24 hour car park. I could easily spend 25 minutes driving a mile and a half. I wish I was exaggerating, but if you’ve ever sat going nowhere fast on Kingston Road you’ll know I’m not.
  6. The proximity to parks and stuff. And the countryside. And the motorways. All pretty self explanatory – because we don’t have to negotiate London traffic to get anywhere, everything’s a lot more accessible.
  7. The quiet. You can hear a bloody pin drop outside our house. It’s insane. And on that note, have I mentioned that cul de sacs are AMAZING? Everyone should live in a cul de sac. It puts your quality of life up by about a million percent. As well as your Amazon Prime expenditure (my ‘safe place’ = my front porch).
  8. The hedgehogs. We have hedgehogs in our garden. NEED I SAY MORE.

So yes, that’s my little round up. I’ll probably think of a million things to add to this later but for now I’m off to have my dinner. Hope it’s helpful if you’re trying to make a decision to move out of London or not. I will say that without Daph as a priority, we probably would have stayed in Wimbledon, but I’m so glad we didn’t because I really do prefer this way of life now. Call it old age, call it tired of London, tired of life, but I think there’s something really important to be said for slowing down the pace a bit, taking time to appreciate peace and quiet. It’s made a huge difference to my wellbeing.

14-month-baby-update-lifebylotte

So, the picture above probably gives away the biggest development this month – namely that Daph is finally, finally (about ten years behind the baby books) pulling herself up to stand! She still mostly stands on her tiptoes, but puts her feet flat from time to time too so I think it’s just a case of getting her muscles to relax and get used to this new position, and then she’ll be fine. It’s so exciting and cute to see her pulling herself up and bobbing about, all pleased with herself. She also occasionally lifts each foot in turn, as if she’s trying to walk (although she can’t, as obviously she’s still hanging on to whatever it is that she used to pull herself up in the first place). It’s hard to imagine her walking about as a little person of her own accord, and while it’s exciting (because my god is she heavy now and carrying her everywhere gets very tiring) it’s also a bit sad – five minutes ago she was my helpless prone 5lb newborn! Gah!

She’s still not talking in much of a meaningful sense, although she does very often say ‘tea’ when I pour water into my mug of tea, or when she sees me taking a sip from a cup, so I’ve decided that’s her official first word. Ha. She’s also been babbling ‘mama’ for the first time ever (it was only really dadadada before) and also ‘nana’ in the past week. She has a tendency to say ‘dere’ when she’s pointing at something or reaching for it, which sounds very much like ‘there’, so I wonder if that counts! Any speech therapists out there? The doctor said we need to take her for a referral if she’s not using words with meaning soon, but I’m reluctant to now, as I can see her progressing in her own way, and I have faith that she will get there eventually. Anyway, we’ll see how she is next month and take it from there.

In other news, her understanding is coming on leaps and bounds. She can now do terrifying things like turn the telly on with the remote (I mean, seriously, and we hardly ever watch TV!) and also she knows to press the main button on my iPhone and wait for the screen to light up to swipe it. Also quite terrifying, really – these were not the skills I was hoping to foster in my tiny baby. She’s still very good at fetching things you ask her for, or finding them in her toy basket, and she now also puts things back if you ask her to (eg, she has a habit of pulling things off our coffee table, but if you ask her she’ll then pick them up and put them back on it – so cute). She also feeds her doll with her bottle, and also tries to feed me during mealtimes by offering me a bit of chewed up soggy bread, or half-bitten piece of cucumber. That’s true love that is.

She can point with her index finger now, and she also points things out in books if you ask her to ‘find the cat’ or whatever. In the last few days she’s started waving, but not at anyone in particular (yesterday it was at the trees – bastards didn’t wave back) and not on demand. Still no sign of clapping however – she’s a tough crowd.

Sleep went to shit again quite soon after my gloating post about her finally sleeping through, and I realised it was all down to the damn Sleepyhead. She was going through a phase of practising sitting up while she was half asleep and then getting stuck in weird positions and bursting into tears, so… we decided to put the Sleepyhead back. It was tough to go backwards after feeling we’d finally weaned her off it but in all honesty, it just wasn’t worth the lack of sleep. As soon as we put it back, she started sleeping through again, so we’re stuck with it for the foreseeable alas. But the sleeping through has been so epic – most nights she does 6.30pm to 6.30am without a peep. It. Is. Brilliant.

Napwise, she’s still doing two naps, one for about an hour from 9.30am and another for 45 minutes from 2.30pm. I wish she would nap for longer as really it’s hardly enough time to do much apart from pick up the trail of destruction that she leaves behind, but at least she’s still doing two naps and hasn’t dropped down to one yet. I am kind of dreading her dropping to one main nap in the middle of the day because surely it means you can’t go anywhere?! I have to say I do miss the days of multiple naps when she was younger… oh, and her being able to nap in the buggy which meant I could go shopping without having to bribe her not to whine with gingerbread biscuits.

This month she also had her MMR. I agonised over this for weeks, and in the end she had it a bit late. I *think* I’m pleased we had it done – I have read about how terrible measles can be in children – but I still found it incredibly stressful (in fact, I wimped out and made Oli take her while I was at work), and she did have the predictable side effects 10 days after the injections. She woke up screaming hysterically (cue a horrendous 3am googling session of ‘encephalitic cry’ – DO NOT do this), had a really bad tummy and was generally grumpy and whiny for three days. It was so sad to think that it was something I had *done* to her, but thankfully she seems to have recovered with no ill effects.

The only thing we did do is put off her Meningitis B vaccination – at my surgery they give babies all four at once (MMR, Hib/MenC, PCV and MenB), but as MenB is the one that gives them a fever, I thought it would be better to have this once the MMR was completely out of her system. The nurse was apparently quite grumpy about it but they agreed to let her have that in a fortnight’s time, and then it’s no more injections until she’s three and a half, I think. Phew!

14-month-baby-update2-lifebylotte

CHEESE! As you can see, she looks nothing like me. Ahem

Two more developments this month: cuddling and… biting. The cuddling is lovely – she will now put her arms around me and give me a proper squeeze, but it’s quite often followed up with the less-than-desirable sinking of her teeth into my neck. I am not sure what it’s all about quite frankly – she’s not cross when she does it, and it’s not an anger thing. It’s more that she’s so excited she just wants to take a big chunk out of you. Very weird. And very bloody painful – I have lost my temper with her a few times when she’s caught me off guard, which makes me feel terrible. Most of the time now I can tell when she’s about to do it, and manage to distract her or hold her off, but my god it’s annoying! I really hope it’s a phase that doesn’t last long, and if anyone has any tips for dealing with it (other than saying ‘NO! NO BITING!’ which seems to be what I say most of the time to her – poor thing!) then please ping me a comment here or on Facebook!

crushed-fingers-lifebylotte

Be grateful I spared you the shot of what’s under the bandage…

Sooo, there was meant to be a really fascinating (!) blog post coming your way over the weekend but then on Saturday I decided to shut the car door on my hand. This happened just as I’d met up with a friend and her four-year-old for lunch, and yes of course I had the baby with me and of course it was my right hand and of course I was parked somewhere I shouldn’t have been about half an hour from home. And of course it was a Saturday and Oli was at work until 10.30pm.  So that was quite fun. We made it to lunch in the end, and everyone in Pizza Express was very kind and no one said anything about the fact that one of my hands was wrapped in a muslin soaked in blood. Hope it didn’t put anyone off their pizzas.

The upshot of this moment of clumsiness is that I am now unable to use my right-hand ring finger – I don’t think it’s broken as it’s not wonky and I can bend it without it hurting too much, but my fingernail is clinging on somewhat precariously and underneath it is an interesting black-blue-red pattern, complete with dried blood that I’m too scared to pick off. Oh and it keeps oozing too. Lovely. So, I’ve been trying to type as little as possible, hence the lack of blog post this weekend. I have to say, it’s amazing a) how painful just crushing even one finger is and b) how much you need your bloody fingers. OK, I know that sounds really obvious but even washing my hair in the shower has been a challenge. I also seem to constantly be knocking it on things and it feels as though someone is electrocuting it each time – unbelievable how many nerve endings are bundled up in your fingertip. Ouch ouch ouch.

Along with that joy, I have also caught a cold and given it to Daph. Just last week I was smugly telling Oli that I ‘never get colds’ (while he was sniffling away) and so I am now a walking, snotty example that karma does exist and karma will get you. Daph seems to be faring better than me, but she still has a little bit of a chesty cough which sounds so cute and heartbreaking all at the same time.

So yes, with that cheery update, I will bid you farewell till next week!

PS I am up to 22k words on the novel. Woo!