Music

We have a music box at home for the kids. They love it. I’m not sure what the neighbours think though……

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Shortly after my first son was born, I noticed that ‘instruments’ (usually the plastic cheap kind) are popular toys. I LOVE music, so I took this as an opportunity to start collecting beautiful, traditional instruments…….after all, why buy the cheap baby versions?

We have a mix of percussion instruments, whistles, flutes, xylophones (I can’t believe I managed to spell that!), as well as some home made bits and pieces (pots filled with rice for example). The kids love it. I love it.

I’m not sure how I’ll justify playing with it all once they’re no longer interested……..

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10 Downing Street

I’m just a little business. A mum. Working from home.

I had an idea and I ran with it.

I look after my children’s skin. Naturally. With products I designed, created, invented, myself.

And then this happened:

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And i I found myself being ‘celebrated’ as one of 100 small businesses in the UK. 100 folks that had decided to ‘have a go’ and create something from scratch. “Come to Downing Street” they said. “We want to meet you” they said. Ha, I am so out of my depth! I was so uncomfortable in that long grey coat. And so cold! I’m a practical girl. I like ‘wet weather gear’ and ‘insulation’ and ‘walking boots’. Not dresses and stockings and shiny shoes.

I met this guy:

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And some other MPs. Say what you will – I’m not a fan of politics. I wasn’t terribly impressed. But I WAS quite chuffed with myself. ‘Well done Cath’…..’These guys like your story’….. I guess I should be quite proud.

Time

I’m sitting still. Actually sitting. Not doing anything that I ‘should’.

Obviously, I am writing this blog post. But I don’t have a plan for it – where it’s going – I don’t even know what the purpose of it is. The most important thing is, I’m sitting. And even more importantly, I’m cuddling my baby whilst he sleeps.

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Have you ever seen anything more beautiful than a baby sleeping? All the trials and tribulations of family life – and yet when baby sleeps, all is well with the world. I could watch him forever. When did he get so big? What was I doing when he napped yesterday? Or the day before? Why wasn’t I doing this?

‘Time’ has a lot to answer for. ‘Time’ means I might prioritise work, or the shopping, or walking the dog. What a shame. The ‘in arms’ phase is so short (I have to steal kisses and cuddles from my 4 year old now – he’s too busy!). Surely when I’m prioritising my time I should be ensuring that the baby nap cuddles take precedence over everything else.

I used to, but then the ‘chores’ crept in. The chores can wait today. I can’t think of anything I’d rather do.

Moving

We’re packing to move house.

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And its it’s a big move for us. Not only because the last time we moved we had no children, and now we have two……and a lot of toys…..But also because we have an emotional tie to this, our first home.

My first son was born here in the living room. It was an experience I will never forget and I can remember that night like it was yesterday. We were so nervous, and excited. My husband made a big saucepan of soup for the midwives and of course none of us ate. But it was home – the smell of the soup cooking, the dim light from our candles, the bed, and the bath, and our HOME. I had the most profound experience of my life in that place.

And soon we’ll have a new home.

I suspect it won’t feel quite the same……

The serious business of ‘business’

I keep thinking I’m missing something…..because business is so very very serious right? Wrong. Or at least, wrong in my case.

I’m sure it doesn’t need to be. I actually really enjoy it. And mess it up. And make it right again. And fumble around trying to understand it.

I don’t ‘power dress’. Or pay for PR. Or wear sky scraper heels (is that what business women do…..? I don’t know). I feel very intimidated by those types of ladies. And by men in suits for that matter.

And I don’t lie awake thinking about it. Or worrying about how to make more money (ha!) or find more customers, or beat the competition, or ‘put myself out there’.

I don’t have a marketing plan. Or a business plan for that matter. I’m not sure I know what SEO stands for (……joking….I do really….kinda).

I just like it. And have a bit of fun. And enjoy making stuff. And meeting people. A friend and I were chatting (…..’a meeting’…..) yesterday and we decided that marketing is just about ‘relationships’. Meeting folk, showing them your stuff, being nice.

Just relax everyone will you?

I don’t need a master class on recognising my USPs, or ‘finding a niche’, or ‘dressing for success’, or some other crap. I just make stuff. You might like it. Take a look :)

 

Theft

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Please don’t steal from me. I have worked so very very hard.

This was my studio.

I moved into it in May 2011.

My first son was 7 months old, and there was barely a square inch of his skin that didn’t have eczema.

I devoted (almost) every free moment to trying to help him.

I thought about little else.

It took me 12 months to perfect just that tiny bar of baby soap.

12 months.

I moved out of my little studio in November 2013, pregnant with baby number two. I spent many an hour, in those 2.5 years freezing my ass off in that studio. FREEZING. Developing recipes, creating products, formulating the wonderful butters and oil blends that my beautiful sons have now benefitted from.

I have absolutely and utterly poured my heart and soul into my little business.  It has seen me through some of my darkest times. I have earned awards. Featured in books. Become a writer for a magazine. I have worked so bloody hard.

Please don’t steal this from me. You know who you are.

I love giving birth

There. I’ve said it. I love giving birth.

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And if it wasn’t for my age, I’d be planning on doing it again, and again and again.

But you’re not supposed to love it really are you?
I mean, they say it’s scary, and difficult, and hurts….a lot….
But I didn’t find that was so. And it feels like I have some big secret that I’m not supposed to talk about.

For me it wasn’t scary. Or difficult. Or really all that painful. I loved it.

It was peculiar. And bizarre at times. And an effort – I mean, babies don’t just pop out like a ‘jack in a box’ (ha! Imagine if they did! Freaky…). But it was also incredibly exciting, and beautiful, and so so natural.

And most of all, my god, it was empowering. Wow. I have felt the strongest ever – physically, emotionally, mentally – whilst giving birth. What an incredible talent we have. That women can do that. Grow a baby and then release it into this world.

We are so lucky.

I love giving birth.

10 best baby toys

I’m by no means an expert on baby toys, but I know what my kids have loved. Here’s my top 10:

1. Wooden baby gym. Don’t bother with any of these cloth ‘arches’. Go straight for the robust wooden ones. There’s some beautiful types of wooden baby gyms out there, but you can’t beat the ikea one. It’s cheap, sturdy, and easy to sell on.

2. Wooden baby beads. As well as looking pretty, they’re great for teething/chewing on. Held together by an elastic string, they can be stretched apart and manipulated. Great for developing those grasp/grips/fine motor skills.

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3. Mobile. You know you don’t need to spend a fortune on an ‘all singing, all dancing’ musical mobile. Babies love to watch anything thats moving. Amazon sell a great ‘crib mobile attachment clamp’ to which you can attach any mobile at all. Choose something you think looks pretty. I’ve got a range and I swap them over from time to time – a wooden dinosaur one, a capiz shell one (sounds gorgeous) and a one made out of old CDs tied together (great for catching/reflecting the light).

4.  Rainmaker. These sound great and are pretty easy for little ones to grab, roll along the floor, pick up.

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5. Door bouncer. Good old Lindam. Baby number two predictably LOVES throwing himself around whilst hanging from the door frame by elastic. Hilarious to watch, if nothing else.

6. Nursing necklace. Why didn’t I know about these when my first was a baby?! These are amazing pieces of kit and I wouldn’t be without one now. It’s become natural to pop one on when I get up in the morning, and there’s some gorgeous ones out there. Check out etsy for some lovely handmade ones. Baby can fiddle, chew, pull on, play with – all whilst they’re comfortably sat on your hip, or cuddled in for a feed. Perfect.

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7. Cot gym. Heimess do a great little cot gym. It’s the same principle as the baby gym but it can be tied to a cot, a pram, a car seat – so really portable. And pretty to boot! 

8. Puppet. We have a great little puppet that comes in very handy for promoting giggles, distracting from tears and introducing foods when weaning. 

9. Cloth books. They are generally filled with crinkly noisy material and in bold contrasting colours. Great to look at, suck on and generally cover with dribble, in our experience.

10. Lamaze octopus. We were given one of these when my first son was born, and it’s now getting used a lot again second time around. Fabulous and for my money, it’s the best Lamaze pram toy around. Loads to chew on, very colourful, noisy/crinkly and it doesn’t hurt when it gets bashed on your face (bonus!).

 

Notes to a first time Mother – part one

So now that I’m well under way with Motherhood second time around, I’ve got a few insights into the first experience……Things I’ve done differently this time around……Things i wish i’d known the first time.

1. Being pregnant SUCKS. Well, mostly anyway.

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Yes you’re growing a human being and yes that’s totally amazing etc etc……but you feel like crap. Most. Of. The time.

2. Labour is fine. Stop worrying about it. Baby has got to come out at some point. And no you’re not gonna die (hopefully…).

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3. Baby needs to sleep. All. Of. The time. Don’t underestimate this. Let him, or help him to, sleep. A Lot. Or life will be very stressful for you both.

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4. You need to sleep. All. Of. The time. But you wont be able to. Now where’s the justice in that?!

5. You will buy loads of STUFF for baby. Clothes (they’ll all get crapped on). Nursery decor (he’ll never sleep in there anyway). A cot (a COT!!!! What was i thinking???). Toys…. Don’t waste your money. He doesn’t need any of it really.

6. You will try to do too much. Stop it and sit down.

7. Your baby will be beautifully groomed and sweet smelling. You will look like crap. FACT.

8. Your house will look as if it has been ransacked. You will adjust your hygiene standards to accommodate this. Oh and poo will get everywhere….

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Poo – getting everywhere

9. 9pm will be a late night.

10. 3am will be party time – but not as you knew it.

11. But then this will happen:

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and everything will be more than OK.

 

Working from home

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I really don’t know how much longer I can cope with working from home.

By the time I’ve cleared myself a space, amongst the toys, and the bills, and the un-read newspapers, hung out the washing, made the beds and put away the dishes, there’s barely time to sit down and think through where to start.

My husband is incredibly kind and happily takes off with the kids for the day so that I can get cracking. But I really struggle to focus, when I’m sat amongst books, toys and teeny tiny underpants.

And it doesn’t help that there’s this staring at me too

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I’m guessing I might need to start hoping and praying that some bargain studio space comes my way……and soon!