I am now mum to a school aged child.  I find this really astounding that I have a child who goes to school!  It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was at school, but time flies and here we are!

Over the summer Joe and I spent a lot of time carefully and gently preparing Violet for school.  She was not looking forward to leaving pre-school and the thought of going somewhere new with new people essentially terrified her.  Also there was the fact that none of her close friends from pre-school were going to her school.  I felt immense pressure to strike the right balance getting her school-ready mentally whilst not freaking her out to the point she would refuse to even entertain the idea!

The school were really great with the preparations.  She had a 90 minute session in her classroom with her teachers and peers in July whilst us parents were ushered to a separate building to await feedback.  She hesitated at the door but somehow agreed to stay without upset.  I walked away from the classroom in amazement.  As I collected her she seemed relaxed and happy.  I could not have asked for a better outcome and told her how proud I was!

One of the mums set up 3 meet-ups in the local playground so that the children could familiarise themselves with eachother and hopefully form the beginnings of some important friendships.  Undoubtedly Violet gained some confidence from her little brother being there – she likes to be protective of him when out and about – and again she amazed me by playing a little with some of the girls.

We chatted to Violet about what her teacher would be like.  We almost created an image of her in Violet’s head and talked about her as if they were already friends.  We were trying to make her teacher familiar to her despite them only having met briefly.  The hope was that this key person in her life would be someone she already liked and felt comfortable with.

Then there were practical things like getting herself dressed and going to the toilet independently, being able to carry her plate with food on it and being able to use a knife.  All things that for a summer-born child are quite challenging.

We shopped for her uniform together and let her choose her own shoes.  We were hoping that it allowed her to feel like she was in control of the process rather than having it done to her.  She was genuinely excited about wearing her school uniform and proudly showed it to friends and family.

Everything seemed to be going really well.  She had gone from huge anxiety and worry about school to more acceptable and understandable nerves about starting a new phase in her life.  Joe and I kept putting ourselves in her shoes to try and imagine how she was feeling.  We talked positively, were up-beat but also discussed her concerns with true empathy.  It wasn’t right to just dismiss her genuine emotions as ‘being silly’.

The first day of school came.  Violet was prepared.  We were prepared.  And I’ll fill you in on the start of infant school in another post.

 Have your kids started at a new school this year?  Did you feel like you had to go through the same level of careful preparations as us?  How have they settled into their new routines?

While we were preparing everything for our holiday in Spain I had to decide what to do about swim nappies. Our villa had a pool and we were by the sea so there was bound to be plenty of opportunities to go swimming.

The thought of packing loads of disposable swim nappies was off putting when we had such a limited baggage limit. Plus the prospect of all those nappies going into landfill….

I researched reusable nappies and settled on some from an eBay shop. Mega cheap at £5.45 each, adjustable, take up no space at all and with cute patterns to choose from. In comparison some disposable nappies from Amazon work out at £0.75 per nappy. Ezra would be going swimming at least once a day which worked out as 10 times. I decided to buy 3 reusable swim nappies and I’m so glad I did!!

They have poppers on them so you can size up as the child grows, meaning these will go from birth-to-potty. Having bought these for Ezra, he already needed the biggest setting. But I can obviously keep them for the next baby.

The elastic is really snug. Not enough to cut into the skin or leave any rub marks. Ezra gave them a full test run on the first day with a poo and I was so thankful to see none of it leaked out!! It was simple enough to tip the poo in the toilet and throw the nappy in the washing machine. The nappy washes at 30-40 degrees with a little detergent. It came out as good as new.

The poppers are very secure and have a strong snap to them. There was absolutely no way Ezra could have undone them, whereas I know with a disposable he could have got out of it if he wanted.

The nappy is so thin that it fitted under his UV all-in-one swimsuit. And it didn’t create that annoying sag which disposables do as soon as they touch water.

I was massively impressed with these nappies and they worked perfectly on holiday. With the hot Spanish sun they dried so quickly and were ready for another round of toddler swimming action.

I would highly recommend reusable swim nappies for anybody with little ones, be it for the weekly swimming lesson at the local pool, to a beach holiday. They took no extra effort, looked mega cute and saved us a load of space in our suitcase.

Now that Ezra is sleeping through the night (praise the Lord!) we are starting to think about putting him in the same room as Violet.  Since we moved here we have replastered the bedrooms, painted and laid new carpets but the rooms are still quite generic and impersonal.  I would really like to decorate their room as a place of peace and rest at night but also for play during the day.  Currently their toys are downstairs steadily taking over our dining room.  We want to move lots of them upstairs so that Violet and Ezra can play in their bedroom.

When it comes to themes I want something which wont date or be too baby-ish.  Generally my taste is for bright and bold.  Not frilly or fussy.  I’ve been toying with getting Violet a cabin bed as the storage would be fantastic.  But looks-wise I really like the idea of a hospital bedframe.  I just think they look so classy and effortlessly cool.  All I know for sure is that she is starting to outgrow her toddler bed!

When it comes to bedding we have a bit of everything in our house.  On our bed we have 2 Marimekko print duvet covers:

Kivet:

Kivet -pussilakanasetti

Unikko:

Unikko duvet cover set

We have sheets from Debenhams and John Lewis.  And even some brushed cotton ones from Primark!  As long as the sheets are comfy and wash well I am not really too worried where they come from.

When Violet stopped using baby sleeping bags I bought her an amazing duvet cover from Finlayson.

Otso:

Otso Duvet Cover Set

It’s probably not your obvious choice for a 2 year old girl but it just caught my eye and I love it.  The colours have remained vibrant despite all the washes and I can see this being a source of inspiration for when we decorate their bedroom.  I think woodland themes are quite ‘in’ at the moment when it comes to kids rooms but it feels all the more apt for us having Finnish roots!  Ezra is still in his sleeping bags (can I just say I think these are absolute genius!) but once he is using a duvet cover i’ll have to see what we can get him.

When browsing through the Yorkshire Linen Co website I came across so many duvet sets which gave me ideas for our decorating plans.

I really like stags so these ones caught my eye:

  

and Violet loves owls so this one popped out at me:

I’ve also considered a sea/sailing theme for the kids room so this one caught my eye:

And just because it’s Christmas time I had to pick out this one!  I’m pretty sure Violet would refuse to get out of bed if she had a Santa duvet and pillow set!

The Yorkshire Linen Co was established in 1993 and they pride themselves on luxury bed linen and soft furnishings at affordable prices.  They have products to suit every taste from contemporary all the way to traditional.  As well as a huge online store there are 30 shops dotted around the UK.  And what’s more, they have a massive sale on at the moment!

 

Disclosure: This is a collaborative post

 

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Christmas started early for me this week with the wonderful annual Scandinavian Christmas street market on Albion Street in London.  This market has been going for about 10 years now and this year was the biggest yet.  Stalls selling Norwegian knitwear, Swedish seeded rye bread with scrumptious smoked salmon pate, Estonian warming fast food and of course cool Finnish design and our lovely Joulupukki (Father Christmas himself!)
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Rotherhithe in South London is a bit of a Nordic hub.  There’s the Swedish church on Lower Road, and the Norwegian and Finnish churches on Albion Street.  All churches are Seamen’s churches and where seafarers and immigrants during the late 19th Century from Scandinavia could congregate and maintain their unique Nordic identity.  I have been going to the Finnish Seamen’s Church since I was a baby – I was Christened there!  My mum then took me fortnightly to the Finnish Saturday School which was held at the church.  The lessons were very informal and although we did read and have homework it was more about chatting in Finnish, drawing, playing and have a few hours of being little Finns.  I did love it.
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I have been going to the Christmas Market at the church since I can remember.  As a teen I helped out in the kitchen peeling potatoes and prepping other veg.  One year I worked on the confectionary stall selling my favourite Fazer chocolate and delicious liquorice.  Nowadays I’m there to support the church and stock up on Finnish goodies.
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The church stocks all of the staples a Finn would need:

That really is a very limited list, there was so much more!
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We started off by going outside to the grill.  They were serving grilled sausages, mashed potato, reindeer, pea soup and a selection of soft and alcoholic drinks.  All were accompanied by delicious dark rye bread and lingonberry jam.  I had reindeer and mash (sorry Rudolph) and the children shared a sausage and mash.  We discovered that Ezra loves rye bread.  It’s nothing like bread as Brits know it. Finnish rye bread is dark, strong and fairly chewy.  I think it tastes best when lightly toasted with some melting margarine spread over the top.  Ezra took the whole piece and over the space of about 20 minutes devoured the lot!
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Next we went inside to the café upstairs.  We shared a Scandi smoked salmon open sandwich which is rye bread with lettuce, cucumber, smoked salmon and dill, a filter coffee and 2 cinnamon buns (‘korvapuusti’ which is a cinnamon and cardamom swirl bun).  Once we had eaten our fill we went back downstairs to shop.  The prices aren’t cheap.  Already expensive food is marked up due to the transportation and import costs and to raise money for the church.  We treated ourselves to:

  • Ruisleipä (rye bread)
  • Karjalanpiirakka (savoury rice pudding parcel)
  • Muumi toothpaste (Moomins!)
  • Felix Sinappikurkkusalaatti (pickle mustard salad)
  • Auran Sinappi – tulinen (strong mustard)

I could have filled my basket over and over again but this was enough for us.  We still have some supplies left over from our trip to Finland this summer.
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Whilst we were shopping we bumped into Muumipeikko (Moonintroll) and Pikku Myy (Litte My).  The Moomins were created by Swedish-speaking Finn Tove Jonsson.  She created the Moomin characters and wrote books which were published in the mid-late 1940s.  The stories are so typically Finnish with an absolute focus on family and the natural world.  Moomins are more popular than ever, both in Finland and the world over.  I tried to encourage Violet to agree to have a photo taken.  As interested as she was in the giant Moomin Troll wandering around the fair she did NOT want to pose for a photo.  So here’s me grinning with Muumipeikko with Violet’s face buried in my neck and you can just about see Ezra’s foot peeking out from my back!
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We left the church with our tummies full, our senses topped up with Finnishness and bags full of treats.  I am so proud of my Finnish heritage and hope that my children will one day also feel that stamp of unique Finnish identity in their hearts.

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I’m often asked by friends what our top baby purchases have been.  Some things are total tat and gimmicks but there are a few things which I wouldn’t be without.

  1. Ewan the Dream Sheep

This has been an absolute vital sleep aid for my kids.  Ewan plays 3 white noise sounds and 1 gentle tune which last 15 minutes long.  Each sound has a heart beat playing in the background.  Both my children have really responded well to Ewan and we take it with us if we stay away from home.  Once we got through the early weeks of the white noise helping resettle to sleep the sheep became more important as part of our bedtime routine.  Once we settle down for milk and a final cuddle we play the tune from Ewan.  Playing this at every bedtime sends signals to the brain that this is bedtime and therefore sleep time.  Violet only stopped using the sheep when she was 3 years old so who knows when Ezra will decide he doesn’t want Ewan any longer.  But overall I give this little sheep 10/10.  We love him!

2.  Angelcare Movement and Sound Monitor

There are monitors and then there’s the Angelcare Monitor!  When Ezra was a newborn he made it very clear that he did not like sleeping on his back.  I tried to prop him onto his side with a blanket behind his back but he was still uncomfortable.  And then I popped him on his front and he settled beautifully!  All advice these days says that babies must sleep on their backs until they are able to roll over unaided.  I was so worried about him tummy sleeping as he was still only a couple of weeks old.  A friend suggested the Angelcare Movement and Sound monitor.  Not only does it pick up on sounds in the room but there is a sensor mat which is placed underneath the mattress and will detect even the slightest movement of baby breathing.  I’m still completely amazed that it is so sensitive but I can tell you it definitely works!  Thankfully the alarm has only sounded when we have taken Ezra out of the cot and forgotten to turn the sensor pad off.  I wouldn’t be without this product, it works fantastically as a sound monitor but also gives me an enormous peace of mind that my baby is safe.

3. Lansinoh Breast Pads

These are the best breast pads I have tried.  I chose to go down the reusable route however the pads soaked through within minutes and left embarrassing patches on my tops.  Not to mention that it’s just miserable wearing wet clothes.  I was recommended these pads as they are super absorbent and also stick onto the bra so no fear of them moving around and popping up out of your top (is it just me that this has happened to??).  I was absolutely amazed at how well these worked.  I leaked a lot, even when my supply was established I still leaked so knowing I wouldn’t end up uncomfortable was so reassuring.

4. Sock-ons

These are just a simple piece of elastic but they are absolute genius!!  No more lost socks!!  They come in various sizes and colours and keep the socks on the baby’s feet.  My children didn’t figure out how to remove them so I am a complete believer in this product.

5. Dr Brown’s bottles

Ezra suffered with colic much more than Violet.  Whenever we gave him a bottle of milk we could actually hear him swallowing air and it bubbling in his tummy.  He would then squirm and cry in pain.  One morning when I was bleary-eyed from another bad night I bought these bottles.  There is a funnel and valve inside the bottle which reduce how much air the baby swallows.  This really did transform things for us.  Ezra drank his milk peacefully and didn’t need much burping afterwards.  They are a bit of a pain to clean, there are several parts which need to be washed.  But the bottles come with a tiny bristle brush which can be poked into all the little holes to clear out the milk residue.  The only frustrating thing is that they can’t really be shaken as I always seem to end up with milk spraying from somewhere.  But instead I just stir the milk with a fork!  So overall there is a bit more care and work involved with these bottles but they vastly help ease colic in small babies.

 

There we go – my top 5 products for newborns.  Each one has been essential for us and I would use them all again if we were to have more children.

What are your newborn must-haves?

 

Declaration: This post contains product reviews and links.  I was not asked to review these products, I just think they are really great!  If you click on a link and buy any then I earn a few extra pennies at no extra cost to you.

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