Monthly Archives: March 2012

Wee bags, for toddlers, for when they just have to go..

Wee-bag closed, fits into palm of your hand like this unless you have unnaturally tiny hands

The same open. Note jolly pics…

I’m not usually a fan for making a simple process more difficult. I mean, I like a bit of kit as much as the next person, but, especially where babies and children are concerned, you can be sold a lot of stuff you just don’t need.

With potty training, some children like to go on a potty (my second learned to go on a potty, but would only perform, for the first week, with my pashmina over her head), some like little toilet seats. Some a combination of both. All fine. When you go out you may take a potty or the trainer seat or just hold your child particularly carefully whilst their tiny bottoms perch on an adult toilet seat and you try not to get freaked out that their hands are all over a public toilet seat.

But sometimes, especially when they’re still very new to it all, you’re not near a toilet or a potty, and they really need to go. Great if you can balance your child over a discreet bit of grass (one of my earliest memories is being held over the gutter by my mum, just by Paddington Street Gardens in London. I can’t pass there without remembering…surprised there’s not a plaque up there commemorating it…). But, you can’t always, or they don’t like it.

This is where these gizmos come in: TravelJohn Junior Disposable Urinal Bags. They’re portable piss bags, basically. There is gel inside, so no spillage and you can, theoretically use them til they’re full (they hold up to 600cc), but in truth they start to stink after a day or two. The top has a plastic shaped bit that you hold up to the child’s groin. You can be really discreet using them too.

You probably won’t need many, but they come in packs of three and I think they’re great for emergencies. We keep on in the car, one in the pram, one floating around. (They fold up really small when empty, so can even fit in a pocket). I got mine from Amazon for £5.07 for three, so nearly £1.70 a bag. Not cheap but for when you have to go: really worth it.

Here‘s a piece I wrote for The Guardian about potty training.

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Vintage dress patterns

This isn’t the dress or cape pattern I got, but it’s cute. And similar. But not the same. The actual pattern remains a state secret.

My eldest is having her first holy communion in a few months.

When I had mine, I wore a mini bride dress. This was waaaay before My Big Fat Gypsy wedding. It wasn’t as voluminous as the dresses in MBFGW, but it was the 1970’s so it wasn’t a cool dress. I mean, I had a veil. And everything.

I do of course shudder when I think about it, although I try and focus on the positives, such as the green jam tarts we had at the ‘reception’.

My sister’s holy communion was held at one of the most beautiful and dramatic churches in the world (built on a mountain side, reached by funicular railway), in Italy, and had a lavish (to me) reception afterwards. I had mine at the school’s local church with a reception in the church hall.

The injustice, readers, has never left me. (1)

The very first thing I asked our priest, when my daughter enrolled on her holy communion classes was “does she have to dress as a child bride”. Because, frankly, I can’t be doing with all that.

Gloriously, the answer was no, she doesn’t.

Since every other little girl will probably be wearing white, or cream, I didn’t want to go too rad. I mean appropriateness and all that. I thought I’d go for a smart, white/cream dress. Except she didn’t have one, and the only ones you can buy are distinctly bridesmaid led. And expensive.

Recently, my mum had hauled out of the trunk that holds all of our childhood treasures one of my old tricot dresses, super simple, 1960’s (even though I wore it in the 1970’s). But it was red. My daughter looked amazing in it and I loved its simplicity.

I hoped she would fit into another old dress of mine, a cream crochet tunic. But it is too short. But it did give me an idea which is: super simple 1960’s dress. With a cape. Think Courrege. Space age, but without (possibly, cos I don’t think the priest will like that) the helmet.

Finding one of these off the peg is impossible. I know, I’ve tried and I’m pretty good at searching things out.

The only thing is to Make It. I was, after all, once seamstress to the Queen Mother. (2) And I do still have friends from that time. Well, one. Who makes spectacular clothes and has made spectacular clothes for my children. And has offered to help me. (3)

So I searched on line. And I found the perfect, perfect pattern. For a dress. And a cape. I mean: P.E.R.F.E.C.T. It was from a website called What I Found, in the US. I emailed the owner and said “can you send it to me here and if so how much”. I never expected an answer. But one came within five minutes. Fantastic service from someone called Tina.

The whole lot, plus postage, came to £8.70.

(1) Not really. I couldn’t care less. But I use it to torment my parents occasionally.
(2) I was, for one month, before I was fired for painting my nails over the Queen Mother’s chiffon. 
(3) This means she’ll make it.

Ground linseeds, a fabulous cure for constipation (and a good source of omega 3s)

Linseeds (aka flax seeds). From L-R: whole linseeds, ground up, in the water.

Growing up in an Italian family, especially with a southern Italian mother, toilet habits were discussed often, openly, and everywhere. You’d meet someone, and within minutes they’d be talking about how constipated they were. If you were sat eating, even better.

Thus it is that I am very private about such matters. I discuss them rarely.

So it is with some trepidation that I tell you about something that my excellent nutritionist of yore, Vicki Edgson told me about when I was pregnant with my first. When you’re pregnant, you can suffer really badly from constipation (I didn’t cos of this tip). What Vicki recommended is that you take some linseeds (which are the highest vegetable source of omega 3 essential fatty acids), grind them up (this makes them more bio-available) and put them in a glass of water – I use hot water, the ground up seeds sort of swell up to make almost like a gel. They don’t dissolve, getting them all down is a bit of an art and they’re pretty disgusting to take, I warn you. But persevere. It’s so worth it.

Do it first thing in the morning, glug it back and you don’t have to worry about it again for 24 hours. If you try to hide the seeds in bread, biscuits, salads, soups you’ll struggle to have as many as you need and you probably will end up not doing it (as well as taking in loads of extra calories that you may or may not need). Far better to just get it over with.

Linseeds are a bulker so they need to be taken with water (otherwise you may end up in pain!). I’d start with a teaspoon full and build up to a heaped teaspoon/half a tablespoon. You don’t have to be precise.

Now, if you suffer from constipation and don’t know why and you think you need to see a doctor, see a sodding doctor. I’m not one. But if you suffer occasionally, or find it hard to get enough fibre in your diet, this is a great, great trick. Plus you get a shot of omega 3s which ain’t no bad thing – my cracked heels have completely gone since doing this again (I stopped for ages as I got lazy).

Indoor playsand

Indoor play sand. In action.

Yesterday I found myself with three hours between appointments. So I did what any sane person finding themselves in Oxford Street would do. I went to Selfridges, the place of my birth (really, almost, plus my Holy Communion dress was made there by my aunt who used to work in alterations there).

After wondering around books, buying myself a miniature Lola cupcake (red velvet with cream cheese topping, £1.25, delicious), looking at the artisan food stuffs that are beautiful but ludicrously expensive, I found myself in the not-small magazine section.

The world of crafts is really big now isn’t it? There are sooo many magazines devoted to it. Most aren’t really my thing but there was one which had a bit of everything in it and in it there was a recipe for playsand (cept they called it something else, but I don’t remember what). It looked really easy (unlike everything else in those magazines that require old socks, broom  handles, glue, cut up gloves etc), so I tried it this morning.

You need:

Five measures of flour (methinks this is a good way to use up past sell-by-date flour)
One measures of baby oil

A bowl
A large, shallow plastic container, such as you see above. This you put the sand in to play.

You then mix the flour and baby oil together, kinda rub it together like crumble mixture. It’ll look all dry but when you squeeze it together it holds. So it’s brilliant for putting into containers and generally playing with.

My three year old has been playing with it for the past nearly-two hours. Then she found my Chanel lip gloss.