A day out at Packwood House National Trust

We became members of the National Trust a few months ago and have already had so much out of our membership.

Previously, on those weekends where we didn’t have much planned, we would perhaps drive into town to spend money on things we didn’t need, or spend the days ‘getting jobs done’ around the house, which frankly is never fun. Now we (I) scour our National Trust handbook to see where we should go visit for the day.

Packwood House National Trust

Admittedly, Mr M isn’t hugely into the history (I like to think I am), but we both love the outdoors and we are both lovers of England and all it has to offer. The National Trust has certainly made us appreciate more of what’s on our doorstep and all of those great places at home you never think to visit.

A couple of weeks back we decided to visit Packwood House, which is not far from where we live. Once described as ‘a house to dream of, a garden to dream in’ Packwood House certainly offers dreamy escapism and there’s something quite enchanting about both the gardens and the house. There’s plenty of countryside to explore as well as various gardens and a newly restored kitchen garden which immediately makes you want to go dig up your back lawn and start ‘growing your own’. The Yew Garden is also quite spectacular – I can’t imagine how many hours it must take to keep those trees so perfectly pruned!

yew garden packwood house

After the gardens we took a leisurely stroll around the lake which has plenty of great spots for a picnic (as usual we hadn’t gone prepared). We also passed a couple of Packwood’s ‘Follies’ – a series of playful artworks created by artist Hilary Jack, which I imagine are great for older children to explore. This had-carved wooden bed structure is one of them – a nod to ‘a garden to dream in’ and (apparently) famous beds in history, folklore and fairytale (so I read).

Packwood House Follies Embedded

Following our morning of exploration, we headed into the Garden Kitchen Café for a bite to eat. We were pleased to discover that afternoon tea was on offer so of course took full advantage of this, stuffing our faces with clotted cream and scones. Taylor may have even been treated to a few cheeky licks…there were of course much healthier options available with everything made fresh – the soups and sandwiches looked particularly tempting (although obviously not as tempting at the cream tea!)

Packwood House lake National Trust

Stomach’s satisfied, we took a tour of the house which was restored in the 1920s and 1930s by Graham Baron Ash who created his own vision of the perfect Tudor house. The house is kept as when he left it in 1941 and as you walk around the house, you really get a feel for the great care and attention to detail that went into the restoration. Highlights for me included the Great Hall (where I think I would’ve enjoyed a party or two!), and the bedroom where Queen Mary stayed when she visited the house in 1927. Mr M, as usual, was rushing me around the rooms, so I didn’t get to take in as much as I would’ve liked, but if you have a thing for Tudor houses, then this is your place.

All in all we had a great family day out and really enjoyed all that Packwood has to offer. I’m sure we will be returning again this summer with a picnic blanket in tow.

Packwood House entrance sign

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35 thoughts you have as you feed your six month old baby

baby weaning

1. I think she’ll like this one, it tastes good

2. Yep, she likes it

3. Good girl!

4. Let’s get it down you quickly before you change your mind

5. Good girl!

6. Darling, stop looking at the dog

7. Look, eat it like Mummy is

8. Wow, I’m starving I might have a bit more

9. Look, Mummy’s going to eat all of your food if you don’t want it

10. Max, go away!

11. Good girl

12. Yes, of course you can help hold the spoon – you clever girl!

13. Um, no actually I think Mummy should just do it

14. Please let go of the spoon

15. Oh no, please don’t cry!

16. Look yummmmm nice food! You try?

17. Please stop clamping your mouth shut

18. And shaking your head from side to side

19. Good girl

20. What?? Why are you blowing raspberries now????

21. Ew

22. One more mouthful and then I’ll be happy

23. Okay, maybe just one more

24. No, you can’t have the bowl

25. Wow, how are you so strong already?!

26. Never mind, only a bit on the floor

27. Perhaps I’ll wipe that hand before you rub it through your hair

28. Shit, where have the wet wipes gone?

29. Ah, too late!

30. Never mind, we’re supposed to let her get messy

31. Wait, how did we get it down the wall?

32. Darling, please give Mummy the spoon back

33. Perhaps you’d like some finger food?

34. Wow, there’s so much on the floor…

35. MAX!!!!

Super Busy Mum
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The six month evolution

This week Taylor hit six-months – a big milestone in a baby’s life and the point when everything (I can confirm) does get a lot easier. In some ways it’s flown by – it seems like only yesterday when I started to have those contractions leaning over the sofa in the living room and being told at the hospital that I was too late to have an epidural (whaaaat????).six month baby

Yet I can’t imagine our lives now without her – she has completed us in so many ways and every day she brings more fun, love and happiness to our lives and excitement about what the future holds for us as a family.

I’ve also discovered that I’m actually quite a good mum. I did have my suspicions pre-baby that I might turn out to be a bit useless, but I’ve actually taken to motherhood pretty well *big pat on the back*. I’ve had to become much more organised with a baby and I actually quite like the new me – I’m even on time for appointments and meetings, which (those who knew me Before Taylor will appreciate) is a somewhat spectacular achievement. Or perhaps it’s just that those meetings and appointments are now much more pleasurable lunch dates and play groups…either way, I’m enjoying this new chapter in my life and have discovered that I’m far better at looking after someone else than I ever was at looking after myself. Continue reading

8 things that will happen when Dad babysits

leaving dad to babysit

1. Dad will call you within 10 minutes of you leaving the house to ask “where do you keep the….?”

2. Baby will be fed something they ‘aren’t allowed’ to eat

3. A takeaway will be ordered

4. Bedtime will be two hours later than usual because “baby was really enjoying Star Wars”

5. At some point in the night, baby will end up in bed with Dad because “she started to cry.”

6. When you get home the following morning, your child will have been either:

  • a) the most difficult they’ve EVER been (“They must be ill, definitely not usually this bad…”) or
  • b) An absolute breeze (“I don’t know why you make out it’s so hard!”)

7. The house will look like it’s been shelled

8. You will be missed

Mummascribbles</div

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Review: Brother Max weaning pots

Taylor has been eyeing up our food for a while now, so when she hit 17 weeks I decided we were ready to embark of the great adventure that is weaning. Admittedly, the foodie in me was also quite excited about the prospect of offering her something other than milk, and so I set about the task of chopping, steaming, mashing and blending with zealous enthusiasm.

Brother Max Weaning Pots review

I’m not usually one to fall for the endless gadgets and gizmos which are aimed at us parents, but since I was quite excited about this chapter in Taylor’s development, I found myself in Babies R Us with more weaning supplies than I could carry in my one free hand. Alongside some Tommee Tippee bowls, weaning spoons and a ‘my first cup’,  I also picked up these Brother Max weaning pots for £4.99 – which I chose over the other brands on the shelf thanks to the inclusion of a handy marker pen for writing contents/date on the pots before freezing (fickle, I know).
Continue reading

“Is she sleeping through yet?”

As soon as you realise that sleep deprivation is the root of all evil – which pretty much occurs the minute you come home from the hospital with your little miracle – your greatest aspiration in life becomes getting them to ‘sleep through’ (*translate* – you want to sleep through).

baby sleeping through the night

It becomes a bit of an obsession in fact, an ongoing quest to seek out that magic formula as though there’s some ‘cure’ to get your baby to ‘sleep through’ – if only you could work it out. The idea that your baby is actually capable of sleeping through – but just isn’t doing – becomes all-consuming. You quiz your friends who seem to have sussed it – they must not be telling you something. You change your mind about what the magic formula must be on a weekly basis. Our journey has gone something like this:

One week: “Perhaps she’s sleeping too much in the day, let’s try cutting her naps”
The week after: “Sleep most definitely breeds sleep”

One week: Let’s just top her up with as much milk as possible before we go to bed”
The week after: “She still wakes up at the same time anyway, let’s not disturb her”

One week: “Just keep putting her dummy back in, she’s not hungry”
The week after: “Now she’s just crying for her dummy – I think we should take it away”

baby sleeping through

Just a pipe dream

One week: “Maybe she is hungry after all, perhaps we should just offer her a feed again every time she wakes up”
The week after: “She’s definitely not hungry, let’s try hot water.”

When Taylor hit five months we thought we had finally cracked it. She actually slept through. And I’m talking 7pm to 6am sleeping through, so definitely something to celebrate. We started to stay up past 10.30pm to watch ‘just one more episode’ of House of Cards and even indulged in a second glass on wine on some nights. We thought we were one of the lucky ones.

This lasted for an entire six nights…

And then on the seventh night, Taylor woke up and exclaimed “Ha! Not really! I was just playing with you guys!” Not quite, but she may as well have done. And now we’re up every couple of hours again, adamant that we’re not going to feed her (“she’s not even hungry!!!”) until I finally give in (following nappy changes, cuddles, teething powder, hot water, Calpol and every other remedy in that book), knowing that a little milk is the only thing that will get me one more hour of sleep (“but she’s not hungry – look she’s just fussing.”) Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

And it’s not the first time she tricked us. At three months she went for a whole two weeks of just waking up at 4am, feeding and then going back to sleep until 7am. I felt normal again. Fresher than ever in fact. Until again, she decided that ‘actually mum, I quite liked being fed every three hours afterall’. What the hell????

So my dear friends, do not let them trick you. Just when you think you’ve finally cracked it, your little bundle will probably have other ideas. I’ve finally accepted that I just need to go with it, not over-analyse and enjoy those good nights while they last.

Who needs sleep anyway?

Super Busy Mum
Mummascribbles</div

Why we’re addicted to parenting forums

From the minute we find out we’re expecting a baby, we find ourselves turning to the internet for all manner of uncertainties (is this feeling normal?) parenting forums

This continues when we approach labour (what should I expect?), through the early days of parenthood (I’m clueless) and (I can only imagine) throughout your child’s whole life (she’s sick, she’s troublesome, she’s quiet…)

I admit that I have never actually posted anything on a forum, but I am a bit of a serial browser (or rather frantic scanner) as I trawl through the comment threads on Babycentre looking for the ‘answers’ to my daily queries about motherhood. The truth is, I don’t necessarily want answers, just confirmation that my inclinations are right. Unlike my health visitor, midwife and GP, forums provide me with thousands of answers to choose from and I will keep on searching until I find one that I like and agree with. Any answers that don’t back up what I already thought before I typed my query into Google just get swiped past – what do they know anyhow?

More often than not, I don’t find any answers at all. Just hundreds of parents who are all experiencing the same problems and facing the same challenges. This in itself is enough for me – it makes me feel better knowing that there are thousands of others out there having just as hard a time of it. It’s reassuring to know that I’m not being over-dramatic and that another parent who has experienced the same challenges as me thought that it warranted signing up and posting a comment about it.

I started to understand very early on this journey of motherhood that nobody really knows better than yourself. Forums serve this mindset nicely, allowing us to self-diagnose any problems and take and leave advice as we see fit. I’ve had no end of conversations with my parent friends who have tried to obtain advice from their health visitors/ GPs but have been disappointed (or darn right pissed off) by text book responses that leave no room for individual circumstances. My health visitor is actually pretty easy going about ‘just do what works for you’, but even I find myself just asking for advice for the sake of it, already knowing beforehand what I’m going to do regardless of her response (I already Googled it).

So here’s to another 18 years of stalking parenting forums. What would I do without you?

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