Oscha wish list

What better to do on a rainy afternoon with a boob-monster toddler but browse the Oscha wrap back catalogue to create a fantasy wish list…

Matrix Jig of Joy is a gorgeous 100% combed Egyptian cotton wrap in beautiful colours. I bought this is a different colourway (Satori) as a shorty but didn’t get on with the length so chopped it to a ring sling and panel piece ready for a full buckles conversion for my hubby. I’d love this as a wrap!

Matrix Jig of Joy

The Okinami pattern has slowly grown on me, especially since they’ve started producing it in graduated colours. A friend has Evie, which I love, but I think my favourite Okinami is Noosa. It’s 50% hemp, 50% combed cotton and the colours are rich are vibrant.

Okinami Noosa

Phaise is similar to Matrix in some ways, and I just love Phaise Victoria with its ‘hot fade of colours with a turquoise jade accent, all deepened with a black weft.’ Noosa above is clearly similar, but instead of a black weft, has a white hemp. This one is 100% cotton.

Phaise Victoria

Raja is another design that I wasn’t at all keen on to start with, but would now love it in two colourways! Zola, 50% hemp and 50% cotton, is one I think my son would love as it’s so clearly tigers, in their rightful colour. I’ve heard this is a beast to break in though! I think it’d make a lovely mei tai or carrier panel.

Raja Zola – shimmers in real life.

The other Raja I love is Sanday, which sold out in about 2 seconds flat. Part of the appeal for me, other than the beautifully light and summery feel to the colours, is that it’s 54% cotton and 46% bamboo. I have a bamboo / cotton blend Lenny Lamb (our first woven) and utterly adore it, but have never had another bamboo. I’d love this as a ring sling for the summer, for quick ups and downs out and about exploring with the toddler.

Raja Sanday – summery heaven!

Rei Victoria is the same blend, warp and weft as Phaise Victoria above. I like the simple repeating pattern here. A wrap that is even more stunning in real life (having stroked my friend’s, I can say this with certainty!)

Rei Victoria.

This next pattern is my absolute favourite of Oscha’s. It’s Roses, and it’s beautiful. I thought I’d never own any, so jumped at the chance to buy some Vanilla with a view to making a simple, elegant ring sling for using at smarter events like christenings and weddings. Then I bought a bit more, ready to dye for my own rainbow patchwork carrier project. Last week a stunning ring sling piece of Orphir arrived, and yesterday I put a pre-order on the new Northern Sling Convention’s Roses of the North in a ginormous size 8.

But I confess, I still lust after these beauties….

Kona, which I 100% will never own as it goes for prices so high over RRP it makes my eyes water to read them. But I can dream! This is a simple 100% cotton.

100% combed cotton again, this time Blue Ice. I really love the contrast between the deep blue and the bright turquoise.

I have to laugh at myself including this one – Roses Ismay. When I first saw the stock photos, I said it just looked like tiny cabbages due to the colour scheme (100% cotton ecru and forest green.) If you pardon the pun, it’s really grown on me, and the more action shots I see, the more I want it!

So that’s my wish list. Only 9, so in single figures… could be worse! Unfortunately all are highly sought after, hard to find wraps (except perhaps Ismay, but that’s only been out five minutes so will no doubt start popping up on the selling pages) and all go for above RRP, so maybe if I win the lottery!

A crossroads

There are changes afoot in the PS household. An opportunity has arisen for me to start a new business with a friend, a livery yard (somewhere people pay rent to keep their horses.) It’s the kind of opportunity that doesn’t crop up often, because it needs a certain infrastructure already in place and generally they get snapped up before they are advertised on the open market (as was the case here, when I found out at 9.30am last Saturday that the current tenants were leaving, and was meeting with the landlord by midday…)

Which direction would you take? Image with thanks to Fawesisabella on photobucket.

It’s risky. What new business isn’t? It’s expensive-risky. My husband is nervous. I’m nervous, but the nerves are suppressed by excitement, too. I’m more nervous for my friend, who will be the full time worker and therefore have to give up her current full time job, whereas I will continue to work part time at my current job and then do the business management role in the evenings.

There are 2 options –

1) I don’t take the opportunity. I have a job, but with limited opportunities. Things like sick pay and maternity benefits are statutory only, but it is straightforward and secure and I enjoy it and I’m good at it. I have worked three days a week since having P#1, one of which is from home, so it’s a good work/life balance for us all. I could increase my hours if I wanted to (ie when we’ve finished having babies and they’re all at school) and my boss is keen for me to develop my role how I see fit. Financially, it’s reasonable pay but there’s probably not much room to increase this because I’m already a manager in a small company. However, we own a house, we have plans to move to a bigger house in a year or so, things are relatively risk-free.

2) I grab the opportunity and MAKE it work. I don’t have to give up my current job, so still have that financial security – although I would also be taking on a very expensive lease for which I’m personally liable if the business isn’t covering costs. Fortunately I think this risk is minute because we will pay the lease before ALL other costs, just as I pay my mortgage before any out outgoings! This personal risk is my husband’s biggest concern. I probably won’t take any kind of salary for the first year, mainly because I don’t need to, and I’ll enjoy doing it.

Right now, for the next year, with hopefully another baby on the way and a house move, it’s probably a silly idea. However, I can’t stop thinking about the future.

I love my teaching job, I really do. It’s just that since having a baby, I know without a shadow of a doubt I never want to teach full time again. Teaching is not the kind of job where you can book annual leave if you want to go and see your child’s harvest festival, or volunteer as a driver to take his class to their first residential school trip. My parents both worked full time all my life and whilst I am extremely grateful to them for the opportunities it afforded me, I always knew that they wouldn’t see my assemblies or be able to fill in the forms when letters went home asking parents to come in and do talks or help out. When I first started teaching in a primary school and was organising these events myself, I realised I wanted to be a parent who COULD be involved in their child’s school events.

So, in ten years time, when my children are at school and I don’t intend on going back to my current job full time, what do I want to be doing? The answer is running this livery yard. It’s been my dream job for years; periodically, since I was 18, I’ve done various horse and yard related qualifications and courses. I have academic qualifications, industry qualifications, training in saddlery, in selling medicines, in equine specific safety and first aid. As a teenager dreaming of winning the lottery, when the yard-related catalogues dropped through the door, I’d ‘spend’ my lottery winnings on designing and building a yard and kitting it out with all of the necessary equipment. It’s a job where the harder I work, the more money we’ll bring into the business – true reward for efforts. My children can have a pony! I can be involved in their school lives, without sacrificing my own business or career development.

So I think I’ll be taking the coastal path at this particular set of crossroads. It may be rocky, risky, and I’m prepared to be buffeted by harsh winds at times; but it will be beautiful and exciting and no matter what happens, I’ll have given it a shot.

The early miscarriage

I mentioned in my brief catch up blog that we had unfortunately had a miscarriage at the end of January. We had only been TTC since December and had got lucky almost immediately, as we did with Project #1. For some reason, I felt particularly anxious this time – I know I was paranoid last time, but this time I did zillions of pregnancy tests, often more than one a day, pretty much from the day I found out (at only 9dpo) until the miscarriage. All the time, the lines were getting darker, but not by much. Every day I expected them to start fading, so when I started spotting at 5+5, I was extremely worried.

By the morning of 6+0 I’d had a lot more bleeding and was sure I was miscarrying. My GP kindly managed to get me squeezed into the Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit for a viability scan that afternoon, where the staff were absolutely fantastic. The nurses were reassuring, kind, but professional. Unfortunately whilst waiting for the scan, I felt like I was having labour pains, went to the toilets, and miscarried. Obviously I was devastated, and the scan confirmed no visible pregnancy, but in some ways I was relieved to at least have an answer after 3 weeks of ‘not quite right’ness.

As I was already in hospital but no pregnancy had been sighted on scan, I was diagnosed with ‘pregnancy loss of unknown location’ which put me in the ectopic risk bracket. I had my beta-HCG levels taken via blood test, which came back at 677 – way too low for the 6 weeks I should have been, so my suspicions that things were not progressing properly all along were right.

Unfortunately since then, the HCG levels have not dropped as the should have done. It’s sod’s law really – I had an embryo cooking for less than 4 weeks yet it’s already been 4 weeks and the HCG is not back to zero! I’ve had no further physical problems or symptoms, so I’m just having regular bloods now. This time, I’ve been left for a fortnight without a test, so I’m taking the odd pregnancy test in the hopes it goes negative sooner rather than later, then we can get back on the TTC wagon again!

Emotionally I think we’ve come through it all ok. The few days of not knowing and then the day it happened were the worst; since then we’ve been ok really. I’ve had moments of sadness and worry, but mostly frustration at another delay in getting our longed-for sibling for P#1. One day soon, I hope!

TotsBots Easyfit Nappies – comparison of different versions

I have resolved to at least try and blog once a week. How long this will last is anybody’s guess, but Project #1 is currently napping, so here goes…

We’ve been using cloth nappies now for almost 16 months, and it is love. P#1 loves them, I love them, even the husband loves them. They are soft, look comfy, are easy to put on (easier than disposables – which we use on occasions), wash well, don’t smell (disposables have a weird smell. I am constantly convinced P#1 has pooed and he never has…), work out cheaper in the long run, are better for the environment, and LOOK PRETTY. Ok, I realise that is not really the point, but they do. Especially all clean and hanging out on the line on a sunny day.

Lovely fluffy nappies!

Lovely fluffy nappies!

We use a mixture of two-parters, pockets, and all-in-ones. My favourite ones for everyday use are TotsBots Easyfits, which have evolved to have 4 different versions now. I own a mix of V2, V3 and V4 and someone recently asked me what the difference was between the all, so I put together some photos and info to try and describe the differences, as I’ve found them.

Version 2:

Version 2. This print is starburst. As well as the standard block colours (red, green, blue, orange, brown, purple and white) the most other common V2 prints are cosmic, flower power, tutti-fruiti and cherrylicious. Harder to find prints are mushroom, robin, rudolph and gingerbread. In the US, slightly different block colours were released (blueberry, lemon, lime and pomegranate) which are generally hard to find.

Version 2. This print is starburst.

As well as the standard block colours (red, green, blue, orange, brown, purple and white) the most other common V2 prints are starburst (above), cosmic, flower power, tutti-fruiti and cherrylicious. Harder to find prints are mushroom, robin, rudolph and gingerbread. In the US, slightly different block colours were released (blueberry, lemon, lime and pomegranate) which are generally hard to find.

There are 3 rows of poppers so can be 3 different lengths, and all of mine are velcro which I find makes them really adjustable to fit. This is the same for all versions of Easyfit. I have heard that velcro can be a pain with toddlers who can undo it and remove their own nappies, but my 16 month old hasn’t discovered this (yet!) I find popper tricky to do on a wriggly monster which is part of the reason I’ve stuck to velcro. That an the OCD component of having them all the same!

The inside has one long 'tongue' which is bamboo in V2s. It feels quite thin but is very absorbent, although takes the longest to dry of all versions.

The inside has one long ‘tongue’ which is bamboo in V2s. It feels quite thin but is very absorbent, although takes the longest to dry of all versions.

The under side of the tongue is microfiber to supposedly speed drying. There's then an opening to a pocket, against the PUL (plastic waterproof bit). Most people, including me, tuck the tongue back in here, but you can lay it on top which is quicker to do and would have the microfiber against the skin which feels drier.

The under side of the tongue is microfiber to supposedly speed drying. There’s then an opening to a pocket, against the PUL (plastic waterproof bit). Most people, including me, tuck the tongue back in here, but you can lay it on top which is quicker to do and would have the microfiber against the skin which feels drier.

So this is the tongue just laid back on itself...

So this is the tongue just laid back on itself…

...and this it is tucked away.

…and this it is tucked away.

Since P#1 was about 6 months old, I have also added a booster to all easyfits. I just tuck them inside the pocket. The two I’ve bought are bamboo ones from the nappy lady (on the bottom in the photo below) and bambino mio at the top. The mio ones are a bit wider and don’t fit the V2 well. The bamboo just about fit. Totsbots own bamboo boosters are slimmer and fit the best, but are very heavy and take forever to dry so I rarely use them.

FB_IMG_1422808456940The PUL (waterproof outer – the bit with the print on) on the V2s is thickest and the least stretchy of all versions.This makes for a marginally less smooth fit, but reviews suggest the fewest leaks. I think it’s more forgiving if you don’t care for it well, eg a V2 could probably stand more tumble drying without compromising the waterproofing. I treat all mine the same and have only ever got leaks from any version if P#1 has fallen asleep just before a nappy change and ended up in it for way too long.

Not much flex in the PUL in the V2.

Not much flex in the PUL in the V2.

The fabric around the top and bottom in the V2s seems cheaper to me. Almost a bit nylony?

The fabric around the top and bottom in the V2s seems cheaper to me. Almost a bit nylony?

Version 3:

I really love the V3s. They were my first experience of Easyfits so maybe that has something to do with it (who likes change?!) but I think the prints are gorgeous too. My first set were the Storytime set, featuring Jack and the Beanstalk (green), Chicken Licken (blue), Hansel and Gretel (purple), The Enormous Turnip (orange) and Three Little Pigs (yellow.) ‘Jack’ remains one of my favourite prints so I’ve featured him here!

Jack and the Beanstalk (V3)

Jack and the Beanstalk (V3)

V3 is where TotsBots really went crazy, as Frugi (the clothing company that specialises in cutting clothes for chunky cloth bums) also got in on the action, having nappies printed with the same or complementary designs as their clothing. V3 prints include the 5 Storytime prints already mentioned, the usual 6 block colours, the elements range (Blue Moo, Fox n Spots, Night Owl), the capital cities (London, New York, Paris), Royal Flush (extremely hard to find as it was limited edition, released for the birth of Prince George), Nature Girl, Pooper Hero, Jubilee, and Gingerbread Family (these last 4 being quite sought after). The Frugi nappies (all tend to be hard to find) include Dino, Owl, Ladybird and Rainbow in V3 Set 1, and Flower Fox, Orchard Days, Happy Bees and Farmyard in V3 Set 2. I don’t own any of Set 2, but absolutely adore Orchard Days, Happy Bees and Farmyard. I’m just too tight to pay more than RRP for something that is going to be pooed in, to be honest!

Frugi V3 Set 2 - aren't they lovely?! Image with thanks to TotsBots and Frugi.

Frugi V3 Set 2 – aren’t they lovely?! Image with thanks to TotsBots and Frugi.

The system inside the V3 is the same as the V2, but the tongue is all ‘minky’ (like microfiber fleece stuff.) It’s super soft, dries incredibly quickly, but is the least absorbent of the easyfits. However, it’s my favourite as they wash so well, never stain, and dry quickly. I boost these with the V4 boosters (see further down post), but the normal bamboo boosters work fine too.

Minky softness.

Minky softness.

This is the material inside the top and bottom of the V3s (that tucks the tongue away). This is my oldest easyfit and yet no bobbling. It's more like lycra.

This is the material inside the top and bottom of the V3s (that tucks the tongue away). This is my oldest easyfit and yet no bobbling. It’s more like lycra.

The PUL is thinner (you can probably see how much more flexible it is in the photo below) and some people have complained it wicks liquid, but I suspect they just don’t boost adequately having been used to the absorbency of V2s.

Flexible and slightly stretchy PUL

Flexible and slightly stretchy PUL

Version 4:

Although the V3s are my favourite for their convenience, I love the V4s for their absorbency. My first set of V4s were the Rhyme Time set (which had the added bonus of nearly – oh so nearly – being able to sneak them in past the husband, who thought at first glance they were the old Storytime nappies.) The Rhyme Time set comprises of Sing A Song Of Sixpence (red, below), Hickory Dickory Dock (purple), Incy Wincy Spider (white background), Humpty Dumpty (yellow) and Hey Diddle Diddle (blue.)

V4 - this is Sing A Song Of Sixpence. It's probably my favourite V4, although Incy Wincy Spider and the Birthday design are close.

V4 – this is Sing A Song Of Sixpence. It’s probably my favourite V4, although Incy Wincy Spider and the Birthday design are close.

In addition to Rhyme Time, there is a birthday nappy (released on Prince George’s birthday) which I bought at the time and then saved to use for P#1’s first birthday – it was adorable! We even did a quick nappy, rainbow T-shirt and rainbow-cake-pop photo.

Project#1 in his birthday nappy

Project#1 in his birthday nappy

Other V4s include the usual block colours, elements, and the Frugi sets of Easter, Birdies, Transport and Sealife (V4 Set 1) and Christmas, Dinos 2, Rainbow Owls, and Garden Owl (V4 Set 2) and recently released is Ocean Strawberry, Dizzy Ducks, Ellies in Wellies and Field Jungle Friends (V4 Set 3.) I have to say I’m eyeing Ellies in Wellies and Jungle Friends up for bargains in Real Nappy Week!

Inside of a V4

Inside of a V4

The inside material is called binky, because one side is minky and the other is bamboo, to increase absorbency. The V4s are definitely more absorbent than V3s but I think the bamboo makes them look more worn and tired.

V4 pop-in booster

V4 pop-in booster

These boosters come with every V4. They are bamboo on one side and minky on the other, and have poppers at one end. I love them and wish they could be bought directly from TotsBots, but as far as I know, they only come with V4 nappies. These are the ones I use inside my V3s rather than in the V4s, because they seem too bulky in the V4s (and we don’t need quite that much boosting just yet.)

The idea is you popper them together and then fold back or tuck in as usual.

The idea is you popper them together and then fold back or tuck in as usual.

The PUL and inner material is the same as V3s.

The PUL and inner material is the same as V3s.

The PUL in the V4s feels the same as the V3s to me – nice and soft and stretchy. Some people have suggested that it’s even thinner because they can see the darker TB label through it, but I think that’s just because the V4s have two white-based prints (Incy Wincy and Birthday) whereas the V3s were colour-based so blocked out the labels.

And that is that!

Long overdue update

Time flies when you’re having fun running round after an energetic toddler (although I have to say it’s great fun, too!)

Project #1 is now 15.5 months and it occurred to me it’s been longer than that since I updated this blog. The next couple of weeks will probably therefore involve lots of spamming of photos of him from the last year or so! I’ll also post my birth story, spoiler alert, we did get our amazing water homebirth.

More recently we’ve had some sad news, I unfortunately miscarried Project Attempt #2 just under 3 weeks ago. It was early days but once you see those positive pregnancy tests you can’t help but get excited so even only knowing I was pregnant for 3 weeks, it was upsetting and a shock. Luckily everything so far has been quite straightforward, other than my hcg levels being very slow to drop. I’m still having blood tests to monitor the drop, but hoping we’ll be back at base level soon so that we can get going again!

The exam vs essay feeling

For anyone who has spent a significant amount of time in education, this feeling will be familiar. You know the one – you have an essay deadline on the horizon and you’ve barely started, but you also have an exam looming and need to revise. Which do you do first? You feel like you have no time for either and consequently go round in circles, getting more stressed that you’re running out of time and failing to do anything productive.

This is me at the moment. All the big things were prepared / bought for the baby months ago, but I still have to buy / organise / pack the little things. I am 36+2 today, so really need to have ‘just in case’ bags packed; I’m going to pack a birthing bag and a post-birth bag, both of which will be useful at home to have everything to hand but then also all contained if we need to transfer to hospital.

I also need to tidy and clean the house, which is presenting itself as a major difficulty right now as I am so exhausted and unable to do simple things like reach the floor (!), crouch down, kneel down, lift things or general do anything physical as it leaves me breathless and sweating.

So, I guess all there is to do is make lists…! Green = packed. Orange = bought but not packed yet. Red = need to buy. Oh god. Update 27/10/13… everything is finally bought, and nearly everything is packed. The only things not packed are labour related, which as I’m planning a home birth, I’ve got out ready to start labouring at home. If we have to transfer, they’ll just be bundled into a bag.

Birthing bag

  • Bikini top
  • Dressing gown
  • Slippers
  • Socks
  • Cheap night shirt / large t-shirt
  • TENS machine
  • Music (ipod)
  • Clary sage / carrier oil
  • Flannel
  • Lip balm
  • Hair bobbles
  • Paracetamol
  • Chocolate / other snacks
  • Water bottle
  • Bottle of squash

Post-birth bag

  • Open-fronted PJs (or similar for easy breastfeeding access)
  • Nightshirt (in case of catheter in hospital)
  • MASSIVE pants! (Including 1 pack of disposables)
  • Maternity pads (2 packs)
  • Dark towels
  • Nursing bras
  • Breast pads (pack of disposables)
  • Lanisoh (going to ask MW for a prescription if needed – have a sachet for emergencies)
  • Comfy outfit to go home in
  • Toiletries (toothbrush, soap, shampoo etc)
  • Deodorant

Changing bag – all baby stuff

  • Changing mat
  • Nappies (starting with disposable)
  • Cotton wool
  • Wipes
  • Muslins
  • Hat
  • Scratch mitts
  • Babygrows – in different sizes
  • Vests – ditto
  • Blanket
  • Snowsuit / jacket

Productive maternity leave?

18th September 2013:

Not so much!

I cannot believe how exhausted I am; how on earth people cope in late pregnancy when they have other children running around, I don’t know. I guess I might find out in a couple of years!

I’m on my 3rd day of maternity leave. I’ve had 3 lovely lie ins, and a couple of afternoon naps. I’m still sleeping badly – I have a new joyful pregnancy symptoms that wakes me up now – an itchy belly! My stretch marks are very dramatic and angry-looking, and the itch is due to them. Unfortunately because it’s the deep skin damage, there is very little to soothe it but I have discovered that holding a cold flannel over the stretch marks eases it slightly, then I slather cold emollient cream on and try and get back to sleep quickly, before the itching starts again! On the plus side, since I’ve stopped work, my hips are significantly less painful.

This week I’ve had a physio appointment, met with a colleague, done a little (very little…) DIY, been bath shopping, and been doing jobs with the horses. Tomorrow I have an appointment with the GP (for the itchy bump and to try and get an exercise referral so I can have free / cheap swimming, as advised by the physio) followed by the nurse for my whooping cough vaccine. It’s taken a lot of dithering, reading and mind-changing about the vaccine, but I have decided to go for it in the end.

So I still haven’t managed any baby shopping yet! So much to do…