Going Vegan

Long term readers will remember that last year I faced something of a moral dilemma, when I realised that most of my personal values were entirely at odds with my omnivorous diet. I began, by giving up dairy - partly due to my objection to the modern dairy industry, and partly because cheese made me spotty. I also ditched non-vegan cosmetics and household cleaning products, as it was impossible to know who the animals were whose products had ended up in my lipstick, or laundry powder.

I tried to limit myself to traceable animal products, buying from independent retailers and directly from the producer where possible, in the hope that I could justify eating meat and eggs by acknowledging that the animals had been well cared for in life. Generally speaking, this is referred to as "high welfare" meat, eggs and dairy.

When I fell pregnant with Quinn, my dairy free lifestyle pretty much went out of the window, and I started consuming massive amounts of dairy; pints of milk, cheese, chocolate - and oddly, it no longer caused my skin to breakout, which only made me enjoy dairy in even greater quantities. I basically ignored my niggling conscience, despite knowing that the dairy industry was one of the most cruel in terms of farming methods, and turned a blind eye to the blatant suffering that went in to pretty much everything I ate and drank.

Anyway, this isn't a preachy post. Once Quinn made her entrance in to the world, I no longer felt a longing for milk, and my consumption of dairy had gradually begun to dwindle again. I did however begin to struggle with a few pesky health complaints, nothing really bad, slow digestion more than anything and headaches.

I've now decided to look more closely at the ethics behind my food as well as the possible sources of my health issues. I wanted to try cutting out meat to see if it would alleviate digestive issues (meat takes a lot longer to digest than plant based foods and tends to sit in the gut for a long time, leading to discomfort). In looking in to this more, I had to make more of an effort to consider the meat industry, and whether high welfare meat really was a positive choice. I still consider looking after an animal and then killing it, to be bizarrely preferential to abusing an animal and then killing it, but either way, there's still killing involved, which I no longer want to be a part of.

I've decided to adopt a completely vegan lifestyle. I've spent the last year really at something of an internal war between the convenience of being an omnivore (the entire world we live in is tailored to support an omnivorous lifestyle) and the moral attitudes of a vegan.

Continuing to eat and use animal products has felt like a betrayal for a long time, but more so in recent times as I've read more and more vegan literature.

Going forward the blog will only include vegan products, which won't change what you can expect in terms of content, it simply means that anything that I review will be as cruelty free as possible and practical - which can't be a bad thing. Posts about my day to day life with the children will reflect the fact that we'll no longer live in such a way which could lead us to be considered responsible for, or complicit to, violence towards or the exploitation of, any living being (including humans). That doesn't mean however that I've suddenly thrown my children into veganism!

It's a pretty simple code to live by, and I'm looking forward to growing in this direction and sharing a lot of that with readers old and new.

Previous posts that may be of interest:
The Vegan Dilemma (Nov 5th 2014) in which I realise that I'm a spiritual vegan and a physical omnivore.
The Vegan Dilemma - An Update (Nov 25th 2014) in which I decide to give up dairy, eggs, non vegan cosmetics, and crap meat, but still don't really know what to do.
10 Facts About Dairy That Aren't On The Label (Dec 7th 2014) in which I realise how much I really shouldn't be drinking milk.

In defence of "brelfies" (breastfeeding selfies)

I take a lot of photos of Quinn whilst she's feeding. Like, probably at least five a week. This may sound excessive but then, I'm often feeding for around ten hours a day, if not more - so it dominates my experience of the world at the moment!
I also choose to share many of these photographs on social media (predominantly via Instagram). Many other breastfeeding women will proudly share photographs of their children feeding, others prefer not to, yet more again don't breastfeed. For the most part, nobody gives a hoot. I'd imagine if people find photos of Quinn feeding inappropriate or uncomfortable, they cease to follow me on these platforms, or they just scroll past. As yet, I've never received any negative feedback as such, other than people feeling it necessary to tell my boyfriend that they've "seen my boobs" (weird).
There tends to be a certain level of backlash towards the "breastfeeding selfie" when the notion filters through to the wider media though, which, more often than not, occurs when someone famous shares a breastfeeding picture.
No betterplace to go now but The Daily Mail - bastion of tolerant society, whose article "Rise of the BRELFIE: Breastfeeding selfies are the latest trend for new mums thanks to stars like Miranda Kerr (but is it just 'naked exhibitionism?')" attracted some great reader responses. If you want to see that photo of Mirander Kerr "naked" by the way, it's here:

Some of my favourite responses include "is nothing private any more? People will be sharing photos of conception next!" and "sex is natural, shall I take a selfie of myself doing that?" (because making breastfeeding comparable to sex isn't weird, at all...)

Anyhow, as someone who not only breastfeeds openly but shares photographs of myself doing so on social media, I thought I'd respond to the overall arguments against the "brelfie" as expressed in response to this and similar articles, here on the blog. I'm not going to make any further reference to objections which mention sex, when I breastfeed my daughter it is absolutely in no way similar to a sex act, therefore me posting photographs of me breastfeeding my daughter is in no way similar to me posting a pornographic image. End of.

As I said, I've had no negative directed at me, these points are raised in the media, predominantly in the "comments" sections of either social media posts or "news" articles - I've responded to them personally because they're generally aimed at all breastfeeding mothers.

1. It will mentally traumatise your child in the future. Only if I raise my daughter to consider breasts as wholly sexual and/or dirty, in which case I could understand her being uncomfortable at the thought of breastfeeding from me. But hey, as my breasts' primary purpose is to feed babies (as will be hers, regardless of whether that's what she uses them for or not), then I don't understand why she'd be more embarrassed of these photos than she would any other baby photo.

2. I'm all for breastfeeding, but it's a private, intimate moment between a Mother and child. Oh bore off. Every now and again, Quinn looks up at me whilst she is feeding and we lock eyes and smile, its beautiful. For the most part though, its just what I do, day in, day out, to feed my baby. Breastfeeding has strengthened our bond, but its no more "private and intimate" than my formula feeding friends preparing and giving their child a bottle - it's the necessary act of feeding the baby. Sometimes in fact, it's downright boring. It's just normal, guys, its not like a heavenly light shines from my nipples and the sound of angelic chorus can be heard for miles. Normal, normal, normal - how is that hard to understand? By the way, I'm breastfeeding right now as I type this one-handed, I'm not engaged in any sort of intimacy or active bonding experience, but it does keep her quiet!

3. You should be looking after your baby, not sitting on social media. Have you even had a baby? For most of the day I'm literally trapped on my sofa... it's this or stare at the wall.

4. You're just showing off because you can breastfeed, you look down on those that can't. Normal guys, not special, not better, not somehow talented. Just normal. I post photos of her face too. Because I have a baby. By posting photos of my baby I express no ill will towards those who can not have children, the same goes for photos of me breastfeeding. Stop projecting your own emotional response to women who breastfeed on to me.

5. Don't you mind people seeing photos of your boobs? I don't know... I don't share photos of my boobs. I share photos of my daughter, sometimes some of the skin and flesh of my breast is in the shot. I don't just post images of my bare breasts though.

6. You don't have any self respect or dignity. Self respect? Are you serious? I breastfed for weeks through the pain of a tongue tied newborn. I screamed in to pillows and bit my own arm to supress screams every time she latched on. I've had mastitis three times, blocked ducts that have meant I couldn't raise my arms, and thrush so crippling I couldn't even let the stream of water from the shower touch my chest. I've bled, and cried, and I now suffer from vasospasm, for which there is no treatment and means that breastfeeding will never be pain free. I don't think I'm better than anyone, but I do think I'm seriously badass, and I'm bloody proud of myself for continuing to breastfeed for my daughter's sake. The respect that I have for myself and my body in light of that, knows no bounds. As for dignity: defined as "a state of being worthy of honour or respect"... see above.

7. The pictures are in the public domain, you don't know who's looking at them. This is actually a completely separate argument regarding photographs of children in the public domain. I share photographs of my children here on the blog and on open profiles such as Instagram. There are a number of considerations to be made when doing so because, sure, images can be viewed by those with dishonest purpose. I choose to share photos of my children, a photograph of my daughter breastfeeding is no more likely to end up in the "wrong hands" than a photo of my son holding a cat. Both are a possibility, which is a real shame, but the problem lays elsewhere and isn't relevant to breastfeeding photographs alone.

8. It's unnecessary. So is every photograph I think I've ever posted on Instagram. Ever.

9. I wouldn't feel comfortable sharing a photo like that. OK, that's absolutely fine. I don't tell people to post photographs of themselves breastfeeding! For me, it's a huge huge part of my life, my parenting experience, and it's what I'm really most proud of at the moment. After what we've been through, I'm impressed with myself that we're still breastfeeding 17 weeks on. I don't feel awkward or embarrassed sharing these photos, I just think they're beautiful (generally) or cute, not sexy, not a bit saucy, not "private". But if you don't feel comfortable with people seeing you breastfeed or seeing photographs of you breastfeeding, there's nothing wrong with you, and there's nothing wrong with me. Onwards.

10. It's disgusting. I don't want to see that. You're disgusting.


"Meeting Reindeer" at Christmas

It's that time of year again, when I become increasingly frustrated at the exploitation of wild animals to create "festive cheer" for us peoples.
Every year, up and down this country and across Europe and America, reindeer are paraded in front of excited families to add that "extra Christmassy element" to events such as Christmas Light Switch On's, fetes and Santa's grotto appearances.
I get it, it seems harmless, and for the most part the reindeer just stand there, eating, seemingly entirely unbothered by what's going on. Occasionally they're lead around by loving and affectionate handlers who seem reassuring and confident in caring for the deer. Basically, the deer look happy enough.
I'm not suggesting for a minute that reindeer used for these events are being actively, physically abused. If they were, there'd not only be visible signs of their mistreatment (malnourishment, injuries etc.) but they'd also behave in a way that wouldn't be particularly conducive with delighting children.
My objection is a really, really, basic one. Reindeer aren't from England. In fact, there is only one place in the entire country suitable for reindeer (whilst they don't occur there as a native species) and that is the Cairngorms. In central London, or Margate, or Liverpool, or Glasgow, or the Welsh valleys - reindeer find themselves in a very unsuitable environment. They may be used to electric lighting, loud noises, excitable children and Slade lyrics; but they shouldn't be - we did that to them. We exposed them to situations so alien, that they couldn't care less. That's not right.
The reindeer that appear at your local Christmas themed event are robbed of a natural reindeer life, they probably haven't ever experienced a natural reindeer life. The life that they do experience might be one in which they're provided with someone warm to eat and regular food, but we provide that same basic level of compassion to our rapists and murderers.
If you agree that forcing elephants to perform tricks at the circus is outdated and cruel, are you comfortable with reindeer being dressed in sleigh bells and forced to stand, often for hours at a time, in a small pen whilst the public gawp at them and thrust smartphones in their faces.
Reindeer don't appear at a single, isolated event either. Ordinarily they'll begin appearances in November, and work through to Christmas Eve, often at opposite ends of the country, travelling from one site to the next in a lorry. The transportation of reindeer in a lorry benefits people, people who get to see them and feel "Christmassy" and people who benefit financially from "hiring them out". The reindeer get nothing, literally nothing, from this other than perhaps survival. They're fed, watered, sheltered - their diet rarely represents what wild reindeer would eat because we don't have access to the same vegetation for a start.
This year, please, don't support events that believe that the breeding of wild animals to be used purely for entertainment, and not allowing them a natural, reindeery life, is OK. It's not OK, we're better than that, and I at least want to raise my children to know that reindeer don't live in car parks.

Review: Water Wipes

Quinn is now approaching four months old, and we've only used Water Wipes at change times, after discovering them at The Baby Show during my pregnancy.
Unlike all other baby wipes on the market, Water Wipes contain no chemical ingredients what so ever, just water, and a tiny splash of fruit juice (99.9% water, 0.1% grapefruit extract). The fact that Water Wipes are just that - a water based wet wipe - makes them a safe but more convenient alternative to the water and cotton wool method of cleaning recommended for newborns. Water Wipes are the only wipes on the market suitable for newborn skin, and the purest packaged wet wipe available worldwide.
But are they any good? We've been using them for three months now - and have put in a repeat order, so it's safe to say that we're impressed. They certainly tackle anything from those first, tar like newborn poos, to the later poonami explosions, and are effective for a quick freshen up in between wet changes too. Quinn hasn't suffered with any nappy rash or skin irritations at all since birth, though if she's looking a little bit pink at times, we use coconut oil or a swipe of Natalia Virtual Touch Bottom Butter to calm any inflammation. We've certainly had no adverse reaction to the wipe though (water allergies are very few and far between).
Water Wipes are the only baby wipes to be approved by Allergy UK, for use on sensitive, intolerant, or eczema prone skins too.
We wouldn't use any other packaged wet wipe now. The only downside is they're darn difficult to get hold of compared to, say, Pamper's wipes. We bulk buy big boxes from Amazon to cut the costs, and this is certainly the most cost effective way to buy, but they are available in individual packs from Boots and a few larger supermarkets.
When Seb was a toddler, I remember using one of his Johnson's baby wipes to wipe some spilled loose eyeshadow off of my wooden toilet lid, after doing my makeup in the bathroom. Not only did the Johnson's wipe clean up the makeup spillage, but it also removed the varnish from the wooden toilet lid... That experience had me asking questions about what products I'd been using on my baby for the past two years, and had me looking in to products with fewer harsh chemicals the second time around. I used Johnson's wipes on Seb because they were a widely available, trusted household brand, and their products were often given away by organisations such as Bounty and Emma's Diary to pregnant and new parents. I didn't question whether or not they were particularly kind, either to my baby or to the planet, until I noticed the damage caused to the wooden toilet seat! That wooden toilet seat had been my child's skin for years!
I wouldn't go anywhere near a Johnson's wipe now, but will be sticking firmly with Water Wipes to keep Quinn clean and sparkly!

My 28th birthday, compared to my 18th

It's my 28th birthday (yay! hurrah! woop!) and unlike previous birthdays, this one feels like an opportunity to really be grateful for the life I have at the moment. I finally feel really settled and content with life and like I'm sort of figuring out where I fit in to the world. I did get to thinking though, about how much life has changed in the last 10 years.
Of course you'd hope that life had progressed somewhat - if everything was as it was when I had just turned 18 then this would be getting kind of awkward! I look back at my newly-18-year-old self though, and I kind of weep for her whilst also celebrating the glorious mess that she was about to create.
I thought it would be nice to write a little ode to 18 year old me and reflect on who she was.
On my 18th birthday I'd just returned to school from half term - I was studying A levels in psychology, religious studies, and classical civilisations. As I shared my birthday with my classics teacher (the INCREDIBLE Dr. Vivienne Webb) and we were only a class of nine girls, we'd managed to book a class trip to London to visit The British Museum and go for pizza.
I'd recently had my heart broken (for the second time in my chaotic, romantic teenage love life) and was smarting big time from what was actually a very amicable break-up from one of the loveliest people I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. My newly-ex boyfriend was one of the most popular people within our social circle, and I don't mean that annoying secondary school popular that's based entirely on being hot and good at sports (though he was both, to be fair) but he was just impossible to dislike; warm, kind, genuine... so it was largely impossible to express any kind of animosity towards him.
Instead, I sort of rekindled a previous relationship with one of my close girlfriends, and then began dating an incredibly eccentric guy who bought me orange sorbet in a gay club. Once back from London I hit the pub (my birthday fell on a Thursday and it was Pound'A'Pint night in The Penny Theatre in Canterbury - which was a pretty standard gathering for my group of friends) - which brought my weird romantic life crashing in around me. My ex boyfriend decided to come out to wish me a happy birthday and brought me flowers, I burst in to tears and begged him to get back with me, this upset previously mentioned girlfriend of sorts, and I called the oddball guy from the gay club to come and pick me up, cried on his shoulder, and asked him if we could go and get Chinese food. I ended up spending the night at his and there was a chicken in his bedroom. A live one.
Ahhh eighteen.
My parents bought me a car for my eighteenth birthday - an aqua/green/blue/turquoise Peurgeot which replaced my previous car, which I'd written off in a terrible accident a few weeks previously. I'm pretty sure that my car crash was some sort of near death experience - I've seen the photographs of the wreckage (which I was cut from by a fire crew) - and I'm surprised anyone made it out. Unfortunately I didn't appear particularly "enlightened" by the whole thing. I just became adamant that the fact that my newly purchased box of cigarettes also survived the crash unharmed should be taken as a sign that smoking wouldn't kill me.
My plan at eighteen was to move to Winchester the following year to study Theology at St. Alfred's. It was a plan that would never be realised, but at that point was pretty much the path I was set on. I'd completed my UCAS application, with a statement from my religious studies teacher that incorrectly stated that I intended to join the clergy. I was offered a place at all five of the universities I applied for - despite that reference - and I didn't attend any of them.
I was academically gifted really, at eighteen. Predicted three A grades at A Level, near enough guaranteed a place to study my chosen subject at university, pretty much excelling in each of my subjects at school. Yet I somehow managed to be fiercely social, had an enormous extended group of friends, smoked a lot, drank a lot and actually studied very little.
My closest friends were a pretty mixed bunch but we were super tight knit. Every morning I'd give my friend Holly a lift to school. She was infamous for exhibitionism and risky sexual practices - I miss her.
It was around the time of my eighteenth birthday that I staged an experiment to see how much weight I could gain in a fortnight. A lot, it turns out.
It was the year to come that would pretty much set me on a road to ruin and make the following decade, leading up to now, the most poorly judged, but at times very rewarding, demonstration of how not to be successful that I could possibly have lived! But I look back at newly eighteen year old me, sat around a table in Pizza Express with my classics class, or crying in Morrison's car park about being dumped, and I don't think I'd warn her of that much, even if I could. Every mistake that I was about to make at that point in life, from some truly disastrous romantic decisions, to racking up thousands of pounds worth of debt, to adopting an obese street cat - have gradually lead me to where I am today.
At 28 I have two children, despite being adamant at 18 that I probably didn't want any - and if I did become a Mother, it wouldn't be before I was 30. At 28 I've already been married and separated - I should probably get divorced this year - despite at 18 declaring that I would get married in 2020. At 28 I can only really describe myself, career wise, as a struggling writer - my favourite of clichés, whilst at 18 I wanted to study theology and write philosophy books for a living. At 28 I have finally settled on the absolute love of my life, he took some finding, but I can't believe I ever felt love before this - despite at 18 being pretty certain that there will never be anyone else like him.
I wouldn't ever want to go back to being eighteen, but in it's weird way it was awesome. I have to thank Amadou I guess for leaving me for someone else, and making me cry loads. I have to thank Rufus for the orange sorbet, and for picking me up from the pub that night and not kicking me out of the car for crying about my ex. I have to thank Dr. Webb for being an incredible mentor and for the pizza. I have to thank my parents for buying me another car after I made such a mess of the first one. I have to thank Holly for the morning she came to school wearing only a poncho. I have to thank Mariel for lying for me on so many occasions about my school day smoking habits ("she's gone to the toilet Miss") and The Penny Theatre in general for serving me alcohol, and for their halloumi burgers. Thanks everyone for making my eighteenth birthday such an odd one... but just you wait until I'm 31 and look back ten years from then!

Breastfeeding in Public - My Experience So Far

Yesterday the government issued a press release sharing the results of a recent study in to attitudes towards public breastfeeding - and to say that I am appalled would be an understatement.
The press release itself tended not to dwell too much on the fact that the figures that it shared were abysmal, but I read it and found myself feeling seriously disheartened as a breastfeeding Mum.
2,393 British adults were surveyed as part of this study, which, granted, doesn't make it a particularly large body of research - however, if we assume that this couple of thousand people represent a vague cross section of the British public then I find it embarrassing, that a whopping 52% stated that they did not believe that a woman should feel comfortable breastfeeding in public. Beyond that, 56% believe that there are "unacceptable" places to breastfeed (I can only hope they were referring to the filthy public toilets that some breastfeeding Mothers are directed to). Figures didn't really improve, with only 57% of those asked considering restaurants (yes you know, places designed specifically for humans to consume a meal) to be an appropriate place to breastfeed, and 51% saying the same about public transport.

It's unsurprising really that the same study reports that about a third (34%) of women feel uncomfortable or embarrassed about feeding in public, and 1 in 5 believe that other people will think negatively of them if they do so.
I have to admit, I would really put myself in the 4 out of 5 breastfeeding Mum's who doesn't think other people will think negatively of her - or perhaps isn't too fussed if they do. Yes, I know there are people who don't support public breastfeeding, but when I feed my daughter in public it honestly doesn't occur to me that others will react negatively. If these figures are to be accepted though, then it's safe to assume that almost every other person I encounter feels unhappy about my decision to publicly breastfeed my child!
74% of women attempt to breastfeed when their child is born - which is brilliant, and I totally back up the remaining 26% who choose not to. When I had Seb I didn't want to breastfeed and he was given infant formula from the first feed - I'm lucky to have been supported in this decision, and then later in my decision to breastfeed Quinn. Bottle feeding mamas need not be upset by my monologue here, but we have to ask ourselves why these figures drop off to just 47% breastfeeding between 6 and 8 weeks. I refuse to accept that all of them decide, happily, without regret, to switch to formula feeding.  I know quite a few Mum's who only set out planning to feed their baby the nutrient dense colostrum, or "first milk", before switching to formula when the baby is a few days old. Most of the Mum's who stop feeding between 0-8 weeks though will probably do so because for whatever reason, breastfeeding doesn't work out, that might be due to concerns about supply or baby's satisfaction, or painful feeding, it could be as a result of illness such as thrush or mastitis, or even mental health complications. The figures from this public breastfeeding survey don't exactly help matters, with 1 in 10 women who swap from breast to bottle in this time saying that anxiety surrounding public feeding influenced their decision.
I'm a very happy public breast feeder. During the week, Quinn and I spend a lot of time with close friends or at baby groups, where breastfeeding doesn't raise an eyebrow and if anything, I attract positive conversation about infant feeding. However, I've fed in cafes, restaurants, pubs, in the park, on the bus, on the train, at my son's school and in supermarkets. I'm not going to get up and leave any of these venues to feed my child - I will sit down because I'm more comfortable sitting than standing to feed, but that's about the only disruption I'll suffer.
When I first had Quinn I would use a muslin as a DIY nursing apron and tuck the corner in to my bra strap for "modesty", but I've since decided that this is a load of rubbish - given that it's just as blatantly obvious that I'm breastfeeding - and you can't actually see my babies mouth around my nipple without the muslin anyway - you can see the back of her head... that's it. So I very very rarely bother with the cover any more. Many babies will seek to breastfeed when they want eye contact with their Mum. Breastfed babies don't just feed because they're hungry, but because they're tired, grouchy, or a little scared. Nursing, and making eye contact with their Mum, relaxes a baby and makes them feel loved. I have decided that if my daughter comes to me asking if we can show one another how much we love one another (which is pretty much what she's doing when she's on the hunt for a boob and isn't starving hungry) then I'm not going to stick a sheet over her face and look around the room pretending she isn't actually there. If one family will give their baby a dummy to suck for comfort whilst they have a cappuccino in the M&S café, I will probably breastfeed my daughter for the same reason!

It's worth mentioning though that whilst this is how I feel about breastfeeding Quinn uncovered, I have friends whose babies prefer to be under a cover when outside of their normal quiet, home environment and that's cool. Equally, if covering is going to be the difference between a Mum breastfeeding her baby, or deciding to switch to formula for the sole reason that public nursing embarrasses her - whip out that breastfeeding apron I say! It's an each to their own kind of thing, but there's a reason I choose not to usually use a cover when breastfeeding and it's not that I'm a total exhibitionist!
The one thing that I read quite early on that made me feel more confident about breastfeeding in public, was the idea of imagining that we produced milk through our index fingers, and fed our babies by allowing them to suck the end of our index finger. If this were the reality of feeding a baby; a) people would probably still be drinking their Mother's milk as an adult and b) it wouldn't be seen as any more inappropriate for a baby to have Mum's milk in public than take a bottle of formula. The reason many find an adult drinking human milk, or a baby drinking human milk in a restaurant, inappropriate, is because we don't produce milk from our index finger, but from our breasts. So the problem here is the boob, not the milk - nobody is remotely bothered about the milk. Once I recognised that, I got over the possibility of offending anyone pretty quickly, as I couldn't make any sense of their objection!

As a breastfeeding Mum I've still yet to come up against a single negative comment. I'm sure there are people that think negative things about me breastfeeding Quinn in public, but so far they've all kept it to themselves. The only comments I've had, have been positive ones, and range from someone at a baby group saying how much it makes her happy to see a big chubby breastfed baby, to a lady on the bus who simply put her hand on my shoulder as she got up to leave and said "Good for you". As well as that I've had many people tell me that it's lovely to see a baby being breastfed, and I very much doubt that the people making such positive comments actually realise how much they brighten my day!

So far for me, public breastfeeding has been a positive experience. I've felt welcome and comfortable everywhere that I've needed to feed Quinn, including numerous restaurants. I'm certainly never likely to stop feeding Quinn in public, as that would involve, you know, denying my child food - I'm not sure what the 52% of people referred to in the survey above would have me do!

Lessons That I've Learned From My Children

Being a Mum puts you immediately on a steep learning curve. How to make bottles of infant formula at 2:00am. How to exist on very little sleep. In The Night Garden. You're immediately thrown in the deep end when you have a baby and that's kind of a universal shared experience in modern culture. However, there are a hundred and one lessons of spirit learned in being a parent, occasions when your kids just teach you how you ought to be living your life.
Some of these came from having and raising Seb so far, and being a first time Mum, some from having Quinn and doing the whole baby thing as a calmer, and more experienced parent. Some are common to both of them.
  1. Pay attention to the changing seasons. Don't just photograph them, but live them. Talk about the changes around you, touch them, smell them, draw them, cook them.
  2. Everyone has a need to be touched; hand holding, cuddling, sleeping close to one another, it's all vital.
  3. People and cats, are a lot more alike than I thought. If human Mothers acted more like cat Mothers, pregnancy, birth and parenting would be a lot easier.
  4. The sky is amazing. Look at it more.
  5. Breast milk. As a substance. In-sane.
  6. Try not to taste food with your eyes before you taste it with your tongue - go in to each new food adventure with an open mind.
  7. Real intelligence can't be measured by academia, or by vocabulary, but by how hard you try to understand someone's feelings, or avoid stepping on snails.
  8. It's definitely OK to be a bit grubby.
  9. Say "yes" more often. Unless you have a really good reason. There's actually no decent reason to not be really noisy in your own house.
  10. Say "no" more often. Not liking parties is a perfectly good reason to not go to a party.
  11. Make friends in less obvious places.
  12. Do stuff in spite of the weather, not because of the weather.
  13. It genuinely makes zero difference if something is second hand.
  14. Almost everything can be a competition, but almost nothing should be, other than, well - competitions.
  15. The value of experiences is about ten fold that of objects.
  16. Colours have no gender.
  17. You remember the times you were showered in love more than the times you were showered in gifts.
  18. Make time and effort for three proper meals a day or you'll regret it very quickly.
  19. Accept change. Nothing stays the same but you'll still be alive if you keep on living anyway.
  20. Buy socks, pants, decorations, handbags, and food because they make you smile - not just because they're fit for purpose.