Wednesday, 23 November 2011

In praise of baby wipes. Well, sort of

One of the most common questions I'm asked in card-making demos is "what's the best way to clean rubber stamps?".  I wouldn't say I have the best way, but I prefer to use purpose made stamp cleaner (the Papermania and Ranger ones with the felty applicator are my faves).  I rub it on, leave for a couple of minutes and rub gently with an old toothbrush.  For a quick clean of a newly inked stamps, I keep some baby wipes handy - they're great if you just want to change to another colour.  I always get the alcohol free ones, as alcohol can damage rubber, making it brittle and powdery if left for a long time.  Whichever cleaner I use, I'm always very careful to rinse it off before I put the stamps away.  Unmounted stamps can be rinsed under the tap, but mounted ones can quickly become unmounted if the foam backing gets too wet, so I rinse these by dabbing with a wad of wet kitchen towel.

There are a few reasons I don't choose to use baby wipes full time for cleaning my stamps.  The 'proper' stuff doesn't contain anything bad for your stamps, and it's wetter, so is best at shifting old dried-on ink - it's often many hours (sometimes days!) before I get a chance to clean the stamps I've used in demos.  Also, when I use baby wipes to clean a lot of stamps at once, it makes my skin go very wrinkly and feel quite unpleasant.  Midwives don't recommend that you use baby wipes on a young baby's skin, but as a new Mum, I ended up with loads of free packs - far too many for the odd dab at an inky stamp!  As well as dissolving permanent ink, a friend once told me that baby wipes are great for cleaning light coloured handbags, so I decided to do a little experiment around the house to see what else I could use my wipe mountain for.  The results surprised and shocked me.  They cleaned my kitchen worktop and hob more easily than any kitchen cleaner, dealt with the greasy film on the cooker hood without scrubbing, removed previously indelible unidentified grubby marks on doors and made light work of spider poo on the windowsills.  I even managed to make a difference to the inside of the oven!  No dirt is safe in my house now, and the baby wipe is my new best friend.  Goodness knows what they've got in them to dissolve all those different substances but one thing is certain, they're never going near my baby's bum!

Friday, 18 November 2011

Today Mand made a new blog!

Hi, and welcome to my first post on my new blog!  I never know how blogs should start (a big entrance, or a normal post?), so I thought I'd kick off with the reason I'm here with a new blog - my little boy, Bob.

My parenting adventure started in mid January 2011, when it gradually dawned on me what all the queasiness was... Even though I didn't recognise it at the time, I remember exactly when morning sickness began, as I'd been to Bath for the day to film a jewellery video for Do Craft's Creativity TV. My normally steady hands had been shaking all day and I needed so many takes to get the close-ups done that I thought I'd never be invited back! By the time I made it home, I'd gone the wrong way several times and felt awful, but assumed it was just the result of a long day. It took four more days to figure it out!

Being the wrong side of 40, I expected every doctor and midwife I met to do a sharp intake of breath, like a dodgy plumber about to quote, but at no point was I ever made to feel old. Quite the opposite in fact. I read Cari Rosen's book "The Secret Diary of a New Mum (Aged 43 1/4)" about halfway through my pregnancy and found little to identify with in how I was treated, either by friends or health professionals. Perhaps the fact that I can't really believe I'm as old as I am rubbed off on them :-)

We elected to find out the sex of our baby at the 20 week scan. We couldn't see a reason not to - it's a surprise whenever you find out, after all - and there are good practical reasons to know in advance. One of the biggest of these is the baby's name. We didn't have a gender preference, but we agreed easily on a girl's name (Emma Katy, the 'Katy' being in memory of my Nanna) and had nothing we liked for a boy. So, by the day of the scan, we had pretty much decided we were having a girl - we simply couldn't imagine a nameless boy! We left the hospital in a state of shock after being told our bump was blue - it was almost like having a daughter taken away. We got used to the news quickly though. By the time we got home from the hospital, we were excited about having a house full of Lego and Matchbox cars, and empty of anything made of pink plastic, and surely we could think of a name in 20 weeks...

In the meantime, we wanted something more personal than 'bump' as a nickname and, as he was due on Battle of Britain day, we chose 'Bob'. It's cute, ran no risk of being his 'real' name (who'd call a baby Bob?) and, as all Blackadder II fans know, it's the long version of Kate ;-) In the end, he didn't arrive on BoB day, but we had become so used to the nickname that we couldn't think of him as anyone else, and the name stuck :-)

As we approach his 2nd monthiversary, it's a little hard to remember what life was like BB (Before Bob). I don't have as much time for crafting and Molly-cuddling as I'd like, but I spend a lot less time on housework (a simple matter of redefining 'dirty'). My odd yearning for red wine is more than outweighed by the cake allowance that breastfeeding gives (although that would be more useful if I had more time to bake cakes...). Our friends have been fabulous, and there's an excellent network of children's centres near us, offering all sorts of support and ideas. I still spend a lot of time feeling out of my depth, but at least some aspects of parenthood feel comfortable now, and nappies aren't as horrid as I'd feared. Oh, and typing a blog post takes a couple of days - partly because I have to reach around a snoozing infant to type one handed on a laptop that's not quite close enough, and partly because I have to keep stopping to gaze adoringly at the snoozing infant :-) I'd better start typing my next post straight away!