Andrea's Summer Camp At Home : Week 3 – Ocean Theme

Colours: Blue and yellow, purple (explore colour mixing)
Shapes: Circle, oval, star
Sensory: Whipped foam and sea animals (use a squirt of foam, a drop of food colouring and about 1/2 cup water in the food proccessor. I use baby soap)
Field trip: Zoo, aquarium, swimming

Monday: Tuna sanwiches/ tuna melts, rainbow fish water bottles 
Tuesday: Sock sea creatures (Use in the coloured foam)
Wednesday: Pop up shark card (With foam sheets)
Thursday: Jello aquariums
Friday: hand print crabs

Shopping list:
Bread, tuna, mayo, star cookie cutter, cheese slices, tissue paper (different colours) tin foil, old socks, pillow stuffing(Or more old socks), wiggly eyes, foam sheets, blue jello, gummy fish, red paint

As I sit here and think about the week, all I can say is that I’m grateful it’s over!

As usual I had high hopes for this week and my plan was in place, but, I’m sure you know, things hardly ever go according to plan when you have kids.

We started the Ocean theme this week on Sunday afternoon, with a yummy cheese and egg croissant, shaped like a crab. My kids (and daddy!) loved it. I think I may be winning them over, they are much less picky than they used to be.

Monday morning started a little slow in our house, so we read some rainbow fish stories and played playdough. I used the kool-aid recipe , this is a no cook one that works really well. I provided star shaped cookie cutters, pompoms, foam shapes, googly eyes and ribbon for the boys to play with. It was so hot in the morning, that I thought we would do some foam and water play after nap time, as it happens, it started raining the minute we went outside. Thankfully part of our deck is covered, so our fun wasn’t spoiled too much.

On Tuesday we did a lot of activities. We made the sock creatures, and then went outside for some fun. It was a beautiful day! I spread some bubble wrap on the deck, and covered it with shaving foam, it was really slippery (I think it may work better on grass!) the little one wiped out pretty early in the game and decided its not for him, he retreated to the rock pool to play with the sea creatures. His brother could not get enough, he simple loved the feeling of the slippery foam and plastic bubbles as he was running across the sheet!

After a quick shower, the boys decided they needed a hot drink, so I invented sea turtle milk. (boiled milk with a little cinnamon and honey).

For lunch, I made an easy to read Tuna Melts recipe for my little reader, and we were off. The boys loved keeping an eye on the sandwiches as they were grilling.

They reported every single change they saw. I surprised them with “sushi” made from cereal treats and gummy fish.

Wednesday was a fun day! We had a great field trip to our local mall. We are lucky enough to have an aquarium and sea lion show, all under one roof! We had a yummy lunch of calamari and chips, and then went to see the animals. My boys were thrilled, they loved the sharks and penguins and were quite surprised that they were allowed to touch the anemones and stingrays.

My oldest loved the sea lion show, he was laughing out loud at their antics. The little guy is a little more suspicious, he was very unsure of the large slippery creatures. It was a great outing!

On Thursday, my husband and I had to take our oldest for an appointment, so the little guy stayed with his aunt and cousin, and oh my goodness, did he ever have a good day! My niece helped him make a texture book with ocean creatures. My sister made him fantastic “Nemo” sandwiches and an ocean scene dessert! It is true that it takes a village to raise a child, and I am so thankful that we are a part of this one! We also watched “Big Miracle” for family movie night, what a beautiful inspiring movie!

Friday we read some more stories, and we made some lovely “Rainbow fish” from empty water bottles! The tissue paper worked much better than regular paper to cover the bottles, the boys also loved to glue the one “special” scale to their fish

I wish you all a wonderful week full of fun!

Shopping List for NEXT Week: mini hot dogs, dough, graham crackers, marshmallows, paint, card stock, tape, canvas or heavy stock card, ingredients for bird feeder

Breastfeeding Beyond The First Two Years

The theme for this week’s Keep Britain Breastfeeding is ‘Feeding after the first month’. That’s great and I’m sure you’ll find a wealth of information by reading through some of the other blog posts, but I want to skip a few months – around 24, to be precise, – and talk about breastfeeding an older child, a toddler. (more…)

Breastfeeding Awareness Week Celebratory Picnic Farnham 2012

Sometimes when something you love is threatened, it’s easy to stand up and fight for it. It’s easy to march for it, it’s easy to protest or demonstrate. But sometimes the hardest thing for many of us – especially mothers – to do, is simply sit back and enjoy.

I’ve joined marches, sat outside government buildings, and flash mobbed public places, all in the name of breastfeeding, but this year I didn’t want it to be a fight. I just wanted to relish in the gift that I am able to give my girls, and celebrate the beauty of our breastfeeding relationship. (more…)

Andreas Summer Camp At Home: Week 2 – Wild Animals

  • Colours: brown, yellow, black,green
  • Shapes: rectangle, oval
  • Sensory play: finger painting
  • Field trip: Zoo

Shopping list: Ingredients for meatballs/ meatloaf and salad buffet. Choc chip cookie mix (and whatever you need to mix it with) paint, glue, fancy scissors, construction paper, clothes pegs, split pins.

P.S.: Save some Mismatched socks, and empty water bottles for next week!

From a procrastination point of view, this week went spectacularly well! For some reason, we got very little done.
Monday kicked off with a slight change in plans. Originally the theme for this week was “wild dogs”, at the request of my 5yr old. He changed his mind on Sunday night and together with his brother decided that they would prefer “safari!” That’s okay, If there’s anything this Mama knows, it’s rolling with the punches!

Monday: Potato printing tracks/ spots, backpacks

The potato printing did not work out! I had the best intentions of turning a cardboard box into a jeep, and have the children do fingerprinting and potato printing to decorate it, it sadly never happened. We did make the back packs! I used brown paper bags instead, and it worked great. We used a wall hanging we had and did wax crayon rubbings. The boys were fascinated with the process.

Tuesday: meatballs/ meatloaf (Children measure and mix ingredients), binoculars

Tuesday we tried our hand at the binoculars. I think I slightly overestimated my children here. If anyone tries this at home, I would suggest finger paint or tissue paper for covering the loo rolls. Our regular paper, wouldn’t stick and it turned into a decoupage activity. No fun with preschoolers! I also made a few fresh batches of playdough. I added course lemon lavender sea salt to the yellow batch to make sure it was a little more tactile. I provided feathers, googley eyes and other bits and pieces. My little guy decided to make an “animal” I thinks it looks pretty scary, if I met this creature in the middle of the night, all bets would be off!

For dinner on Tuesday we made meatballs, I wrote a very simple recipe (click here for the printable recipe) for my little reader and we were off! My children greatly enjoyed this activity. We served the meatballs with a salad buffet, everyone started with a base of lettuce and I made a variety of toppings and dressings available. I have never seen my boys tuck into their dinner like this meal, I am sure my 5 year old ate at least 6 meatballs and the little guy loaded up on salad toppings and dressing, he tried everything we offered. We talked about carnivores, herbivores and omnivores during dinner, and the boys decided that they are carnivores and proceeded to show us their ferocious teeth!

Wednesday: “Nature” walk and collage with found objects ( my boys will want to take binoculars)

We were supposed to go on a nature walk, but instead rescued several animals from our playroom, and set up an animal hospital on the deck. We discovered that coffee filters make wonderful cones and that everyone feels better when they recover in an outdoor fort! The children bandaged, fed and cared for those animals all week. There are still a few with bandages that no one is allowed to remove. I made a yummy snack by cutting animal shapes out of watermelon using teeny tiny cookie cutters and combined it with “Safari mix”

Thursday: Choc- chip cookie wild dogs (circles with ears), elephants

We made the Elephants and the boys insisted that they are kissing elephants. We also discovered that our library has free family story time so we headed over there and picked up a few new story books for next week. We did actually read a lot of books about animals this week and I’ve found our local library to be a great resource. My children love when I read them stories.

Friday: Handprint Lion Craft

We finally made our choc chip cookies this morning, the boys were so excited. The little one got to crack his first egg and then wanted to add several more, I had to explain that we only needed one, he was not best pleased!

On Saturday Daddy played cricket and there’s a lovely park by the field, so we took our binoculars and backpacks and went on our Safari walk! We make a nice collage while watching the match!
If the weather holds we might head to the zoo sometime this weekend.
Have a great week of play everyone!

If you participate and would like to share your projects on our weekly project wall, you can upload your photos to our Flickr album. They stay your photos, but will appear in our album. You can remove them at any time. We’d love  to see how the projects inspire you, even if you just use it as a starting point! If you’re a blog it, you can use this button to show you’re participating in Andrea’s Summer Camp At Home

Andreas Summer Camp At Home

Why I Support Medela UK

I support Medela UK. I support them as a company, I buy their products, I use their products and I occasionally run competitions on this blog for Medela pumps.

I commit not to review or run competitions for Medela bottles without pumps, but I feel unwilling to not publicly support Medela. It would be incredibly hypocritical.

When I had my first child, I used a Medela breastpump to express daily due to massive over supply. Thanks to my breastpump I was able to quickly express and get back to caring for and breastfeeding my baby.

When I had a problem with my pump, the PR company behind Medela – Bump PR – quickly resolved it for me.

I lived in South Africa for six months where I donated breastmilk for HIV positive babies, something I was able to do successfully, quickly, and easily due to my Mini Electric pump. I donated so much milk the staff were shocked.

For me to pretend they don’t exist because they advertise their one very unique teat, in a market flooded with advertising, would just feel wrong. Medela advertise breastfeeding bottles and breastmilk storage. They do not even make or sell formula dispensers, and to my knowledge they are the only producer in the UK who do not. Does that make them blameless? No. Does it make them the best option I believe I have? Yes. (Run a search on different company names on and of the products available in the UK, Medela comes up the least number of times.) Least bad is still better than very bad!

I know some companies are completely WHO compliant, and that is great, but unfortunately, many of them are not even found in the UK.

Hygeia for example, while being a fantastic company and committed to WHO compliance, is not commonly found in the UK.

Ameda are now available in the UK, from the Ameda website – so again, not commonly available – but go in and out of WHO Compliance.

I don’t even know  of others on the market, largely because we don’t get them here.

YOU KNOW HOW SMARTIES is Nestle owned in the UK, but not in the US? Well, if I were in the US and felt that we had the options available to us that the US do, or if I had ever seen a single Medela advert on TV (or even in a magazine?) I might feel differently about it.  Either way, if you want to list ‘sins’ of bottle manufacturers, Medela in the UK are about as compliant as those of us who pump can get right now.

Finding Supportive Breastfeeding Supporters

Breastfeeding is one of the most enriching, amazing things I’ve ever done. It’s also one of the hardest at times and often requires a dedication and commitment I didn’t know I had. I’ve often said that support is absolutely essential to a successful breastfeeding relationship, and where you find that support can make or break where you get in your breastfeeding goals.

(This post is not about formula feeding or formula feeding mothers. If a woman chooses to formula feed, that is her prerogative. If she has no choice due to misinformation, or booby traps, that’s another story.)

Where you find your support is essential to your success.

I sat in a class earlier this week listening to mothers talk about advice they’d been given by their doctors on a specific health issue. Every single one of them had received different advice, and some of it was flat out contradictory. (more…)

Mamatography Week 23: Bits And Pieces

The last 14 days or so have been incredibly manic and my camera has barely left it’s bag, with a few exceptions. I’m a bit sad that there will be these gaps in our album at the end of the year, but such is life!

153/365 – Mama

My sister moaned that there wasn’t a picture of me on my BlackBerry Messenger. I took this one. It’s the only one I took all day, and the only angle that didn’t include too much of my personal belongings strewn across the floor and all over the place.

154/365 – Baby Girl Sitting Up

It’s just beautiful. When she sleeps, she’s beautiful, when she wakes, she’s beautiful, when she cries, she’s beautiful and when she smiles… actually there isn’t a time when Aviya isn’t beautiful. Oh, and she’s trying to sit up. She strains her whole body. It won’t be long now.

156/365 – Day Out

We had an absolutely lovely day out with our friends Ellie, Chloe, Emma and Freddie when our picnic in the forest turned into a picnic in Ellie’s living room and a wander around a local Jubilee Festival. I only just realised in looking at these pictures that our girls were colour coded!

159/365 – Painting Prints

We made some prints for Father’s Day and I loved this series of pictures. Such concentration. She loved the hand painting so much we even did another hand painting project!

Check out the other Mamatography participants entries here:

Six Problems And Suggested Solutions For Tandem Nursing

You know how breastfeeding is ‘the most natural thing in the world’, right? And how it should be as easy as that? And how it often isn’t?

Well, picture every newborn problem (and victory) that you’ve ever had with breastfeeding a newborn. Now picture doing it with that newborn, and a climby, excited, gymnastic toddler too.

It can be pretty rough (and awesome).

  • The biggest problem I’ve experienced in tandem breastfeeding has been feeling thoroughly touched out. In the 13 weeks since Aviya’s birth, I have felt more ‘touched out’ than any other time in my life before. To the extent that the feel of the sofa cushion irritates my skin sometimes! There is no solution for this, other than making sure you understand why you feel as you do and making an effort to have some you-time, even if it includes going for a short walk, a solo bath or something more extravagant, like a well-timed-between-feeds massage.
  • Logistics. In the early weeks, while baby is small, it’s easy to lie one child on top of the other. Unfortunately, the baby grows at a much faster rate than the toddler and sooner or later, you might find the toddler begins to protest. While it’s quite nice and easy to get into the habit of tandem nursing with one lying on the other, while baby is small is a good time to practice tandem feeding in other positions too, such as holding one or both in the rugby ball position.

Jessika from Job Description: Mommy

  • Your toddler may have a huge increase in feeding, and a massive decrease in eating. Ameli was nursing 2 – 3 times a day when Aviya was born, and suddenly she wanted to drink every time Aviya was. While I knew this would happen, and ‘prepared’ myself for it, I really had no idea how frustrating it would be.  It’s really important to have strategies in place, when you don’t want to tandem feed at every feed, for things to occupy the toddler. Wearing a sling for feeding the baby can be very useful as it keeps your hands free to do things with the toddler.
  • Tandem nursing can be very exhausting, thirsty and hungry work. Have a ‘nursing station’ ready. Somewhere with a lot of pillows so you can all be in a good position, and have an easy to use drinks bottle handy – something that won’t have water everywhere if the gymnastic feeder kicks it – as well as some snacks if you feel you need them. Replenish your nursing station daily, so that you can feed without meltdowns while you’re getting everything ready, or upsetting interruptions to your nursing.
  • Breastfeeding works best in a tribe where mothers can look out for each other.  Spend as much time as you can with sympathetic friends who can entertain your toddler (simply by having their children around too, while you nurse the baby) or by making sure you have what you need while you’re breastfeeding one or both children. And when they’re done, you support your friend again.
  • Sensations during tandem nursing. Unfortunately, if you’re ‘feeling’ something when you’re breastfeeding, it’s probably not pleasant. With tandem nursing there’s an increase in hormones and there is a change in breast size which can affect the older child’s latch. These changes can cause either a very painful feeling – with my two year old, it feels like her front teeth are slicing papercut sized slices into my nipples sometimes, simply because the nipple is larger right now. Alternatively, the increased hormones can cause an incredibly unpleasant sexual stimulation. Trust me when I say it is not a good feeling.  It is very uncomfortable. I can’t cope with it and have to stop nursing when that happens. There’s no real ‘solution’ to it. Just stop, have a cuddle, a repositioning and start again.

I think this will have to be part one and a part two will have to follow down the line, because there’s a lot more I can add, but would like to read up more about first.

I do think that breastfeeding is without a doubt the most committed thing I’ve ever done. It’s been very much all or nothing, and I’ve gone for all.  While there are many challenges and obstacles on the journey, don’t forget to also look at the benefits of tandem breastfeeding.


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Nine Benefits Of Tandem Breastfeeding

When Ameli was a baby I wrote many articles on breastfeeding and its benefits. I wrote about things I wish I’d known about breastfeeding, and some relatively unknown things about breast milk, and how breast milk is made. I’ve shared my confessions of an extended breastfeeder and I’ve written about the highs and lows of breastfeeding during pregnancy. My last post about breastfeeding was on nursing a toddler during the final stage of pregnancy, so it’s only logical that my next series of posts will be on that thing that is the art of tandem nursing.

I’ve been asked a number of times by various people whether it is possible to nurse both babies at the same time, and the simple answer is yes! I know the concept is foreign to many people, so here are nine reasons why tandem breastfeeding is worth considering.

For the toddler: 

1. Bonding and reduced jealousy

This was one of the most beautiful and surprising parts of tandem breastfeeding, for me. The first time I lay my nursling on top of my toddler to allow them to feed together, and my beautiful big girl put her arm around her sister to keep her from ‘falling off’. I think my heart melted in that moment. We’ve had absolutely no jealousy since the birth of our second little girl twelve weeks ago and I am convinced that breastfeeding both children has something to do with it.  Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be any studies on this subject yet, but there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence, and I’m happy to be adding to that.

Regardless of what you do to prepare a toddler for a new baby, the reality of the new addition is beyond anything they’d have expected, and having something that bonds them together from the beginning is very helpful. It’s also something they can do together.  The first question Ameli asked, while Aviya was still in the birthpool, was, “can it walk?”  She is very aware of the fact that Aviya can’t talk to us and can’t play with her. In fact, as Ameli’s book says, “it’s basically a lump of clay.” Having something they can do together definitely creates a bond from early on.

2. Valuable lesson in sharing and consideration

Sharing breastfeeding is an incredible lesson in sharing in general. This is another area my Ameli has surprised me: she understands that the baby, who cannot eat food yet, needs to have milk more than she does. It’s not always easy for her to have to stop feeding when it’s Aviya’s turn (tandem nursing can mean two simultaneously, or one after the other. We do both.) but she usually does. You can see sometimes that she doesn’t really want to, but she does. I think it’s a great lesson for life.

3. All the benefits of newborn milk

Newborn breastmilk is full of so many good things, and the mother’s body adjusts the milk to meet the newborn’s needs. That means the toddler is getting all the benefits of baby milk, all over again.

For the Newborn:

1. Milk on tap

Now, this is purely anecdotal, from my own experience, but in our case, my milk came in pretty much immediately after Aviya was born. There was still colostrum, as I could tell from Ameli’s nappies, but she had milk available on tap from the start. This meant that she didn’t have to work very hard to fill her tummy, which meant she fed for shorter periods of time than newborns normally do. It also meant that she slept for longer than newborns normally do. In fact, she fed so little and slept so much that she lost 11% of her body weight in the first week, but more than made up for it subsequently (she’s currently in 4-6 month clothes, and is only 2.5 months!) The fact is that she didn’t have to burn much energy in an attempt to consume.

2. Milk supply

Because I had milk and nursed all the way through the pregnancy, bar a few days here and there, milk was just ‘there’ from the start and I haven’t had any issues with supply at all, not even during the six week ‘drying up’ that most people experience as milk goes from reservoired to supply and demand

3. Familiarity with the older sibling

It’s easy to very quickly fall into the habit of saying ‘don’t touch the baby’, ‘leave the baby’, ‘be gentle with the baby’ and any one of a million variations on that theme. We’ve tried very consciously not to plant the idea that ‘sister’ isn’t to be engaged with in Ameli, and have instead decided to accept that babies aren’t actually as fragile as we tend to think they are when you have your first born. Tandem nursing is a way of introducing an older sibling into a baby’s space, so that the younger can become accustomed to the sound and smell of his or her older sibling too.

4. Gag-free drinking

Sometimes the flow of milk can be so strong and forceful that the new baby can gag and choke. Getting big sister or brother to take the edge off, can be really helpful. It’s worth remembering the difference between foremilk and hindmilk and making sure baby is getting enough of both, especially in hot weather.

For the Mother:

Tandem Nursing - a 2yr 6mo and a 1 day old

Believe it or not, tandem breastfeeding has a number of benefits for mama too.

1. Put your feet up

If you’ve had a toddler let loose on your house for any length of time, you’ll know what devastation can be wrought in the shortest of times. Nursing both together means you actually get to have a break without having to directively engage, occupy or entertain a toddler. This is where a hands free water bottle with a straw comes in though, because it can be hard to hold a cup while nursing two children!

2. Health benefits of extended breastfeeding

All those things that hit the headlines from time to time? Those. Reduced risk of breast cancer being the biggest one.  And some people put weight loss in this category. Breastfeeding gives me a sweet tooth, so no, I don’t lose any weight!

3. Relieves engorgement

Despite popular belief, when your milk comes in proper, you can still get really engorged, even if you’ve been breastfeeding through pregnancy. I haven’ t had to express once this time round, nor have I had any problems, such as mastitis or clogged ducts, because when I’ve needed to, I’ve been able to call on Ameli – even in the middle of the night, since Aviya sleeps through – to quickly and effortlessly drain an engorged, painful, leaking breast.

So there you have nine reasons to at least consider tandem nursing. It’s not always easy, and there are days where I wish more than anything that Ameli would wean, but looking at the list above, the benefits are fantastic, and this is a phase in our mother and daughter(s) journey that I will always look back on with a distinct sense of pride in all of us.

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