Monday, 26 May 2014

Meet A Mum Monday - Menai Newbould

I am so pleased that I started this new feature as I've had the pleasure of getting to know and introducing to you some rather lovely ladies. No two mamas are the same and I am really enjoying finding out more about some of the fab family bloggers out there.

This week, it's the turn of Menai Newbould...


1. Hello, what's your name and where do you come from?
 Hi! I’m Menai and I live in a little village in Kent. While I was growing up we moved around in the UK and when the chance came up for our family to travel to India for some time we took on the adventure. We returned home in December and we’re now finding our feet back in England again.

2. Tell us about your children.
Little H is five and a half. She just started school in the spring and is learning to dance at a lovely local ballet school.  While we were away she adapted wonderfully, learning Hindi and spending as much time in a swimming pool as she could. She adores singing, playing ball in the garden, telling bad jokes and making up stories.

Little S is twenty months. She was born in India and is enjoying being home and getting to know her grandparents. She’s a very cuddly jolly baby with a mischievous streak and no fear of heights, animals or water. She is quite obsessed with ducks and stories, cheerfully trotting around after her sister waving a book hopefully to get picked up and read to.

3. When did you know you wanted to be a mum?
I liked being a big sister and was an older cousin as there’s a bit of an age gap – I enjoyed holding and looking after babies Little H was the first grandchild on either side and consequently the centre of attention for some time. I knew my husband would be a great dad – there’s even a photo of him at our wedding letting our god-daughter pull apart his buttonhole rose as she was enjoying herself doing so.

4. What's your favourite moment as a mum so far?
How does anyone narrow that down? I loved a day at a farm when visiting my sister and little H and her cousin were delightedly pulling along the wagon of goodies that we had picked while the baby inside the wagon ate as many strawberries as she could get away with.
The picture is here.

5. What do you wish people had told you before you became a mum?
About the joy, the time that you spend just looking at the children thinking how brilliant they are, how soft their skin is, their expressions and giggles. I seem to remember a lot of people warning me that I wouldn’t like the disturbed nights, that I would wish I’d had more holidays before starting a family, how exhausting it all would be. And I don’t enjoy feeling tired all the time but it’s more than outweighed by the delight and the good times.

6. If we were to look in your changing bag, what would we find?
It’s fair to say that I haven’t ‘got over” living in a country where it’s difficult to get lots of products that we find convenient here – and where there are the odd natural disasters/political upheavals, so I tend to pack the changing bag as an “emergency bag” still. There’s a Skiphop changing mat which has a fair few nappies, wipes, nappy bags and hand gel. We got rather used to changing on the move, on the floor without access to clean water. Now that we can get them, there’s a couple of emergency bottles of ready-made formula. Usually a tiny umbrella (though in India that was for the sun rather than the rain).There’s a just-in-case change of clothes for both children that may even fit depending on when I last replenished supplies, a few reading or colouring books and a pack of mismatched crayons. We have a couple of I-spy beanbags and a muslin or two plus a "just-in-case" baby blanket in there too to make it all a bit heaver and to cause my husband to sigh “Do we really need all that?”.

7. What were the top four things you had for your baby that you would recommend to other mums?
  1. A Manduca carrier – we didn’t use this initially as our baby was early and very tiny so she started in a soft wrap and then a lovely Bjorn Air which was breathable in the heat of a tropical climate. The Manduca has a roll-down insert pocket and can be used from birth. It’s so comfortable to wear, with padded straps and avery supportive waist belt. Even now the nearly 2 year old adores sleeping in there.
  2. A Hooter Hider nursing cover-up – pretty, frilly and with a useful wired neck strap so that you can see baby – this was a constant companion and kept me sane while feeding out & about.
  3. What I’d highly recommend for newborns (boys or girls) is the style of nightgown which is very long with a slightly elasticated end opening (rather than individual legs with poppers). We got ours from John Lewis or Mothercare I think – they’re just perfect for babies who are between sizes and at any age for thoese middle-of-the-night nappy changes when you're tired and can't get the poppers done up correctly. If you’re tucking the baby back into swaddling or a grobag sleeping bag anyway, their feet won’t get cold.
  4. And my sister hand-made a great number of things including little clip on straps for dummies when out&about, using lovely material and ribbons, thoroughly spoiling us…

8. What three things could you have done without?
It’s especially easy to notice these after baby number 2 because even if you own them from first time around you just don’t even bother finding them in cupboards for the second child:

  1. The special little baby bath with the little insert for the head. We just used a big tub.
  2. The seat for the bath so that they can sit up before they can reliably support themselves. We just held them.
  3. The bottle sterilizing bucket with a lid. The microwaveable sterilizer was so efficient and we used a bowl or disposable sterilising bags with tablets whenever we went away for the weekend.

9. What baby brands do you like and why?
The Essential One do lovely soft clothing for mums-to-be and little babies and have also done some fundraising for Matilda Mae, my friend Jennie’s baby who died at 9 months of SIDS.

I also love Toby Tiger clothes which are colourful, trendy and immensely hard-wearing

Nature’s Purest baby and nursery items are another favourite- everything in muted colours, especially the sweet little dolls (including a baby-wearing mummy doll) 

DMC ready-to stitch comforters which come in shapes like teddies and giraffes with a cross-stitch style bib onto which I can quickly embroider baby’s name. I go to a local independent craft shop but they have these in Hobbycraft or online stores too.

We love the Ladybird Baby Touch books, big and small –we read these from earliest days, turning the pages, pressing the button and making all the animal noises.

 I am also a fan of Lamaze toys and we have a few musical ones so that little S can join in with a few notes on the elephant’s trunk or octopus legs when we are having a singsong.

For the nursery we have a few Verbaudet items, especially stickers.

10. Are you a working mum? If so, how do you find it?
Working part-time has suited me but I’ve resisted going full-time. It’s hard to keep ‘the show on the road’ at home as it is – right now there’s a big pile of clean-but-not-sorted-out laundry looking at me. While the children are small I’m happy to be with them as much as I can and working part-time or at home makes it easier to have time for fun, especially now that we are home for an English summer. I am thinking about a change of career but am giving myself a few months to settle back home first.

11. What do you enjoy most about being mum?
I am fascinated by child development, especially language and inquisitive approaches to the world. I love finding numbers, letters and rhymes everywhere and having fun with learning.  Little H went to a school in Mumbai which was part of the University of Child Development school (in Seattle) where some fascinating techniques were used, including “Math Vitamin”,a daily little dose of a maths problem to investigate and all kinds of little equipment was used to visualise and describe the workings-out. She loved it so much that we were asked to set puzzles in the holidays.
  
12. How do you make time for being 'you'?
I am not very good at it – thank goodness Facebook keeps me in touch with our friends and family around the world as much as it does, with the occasional real-life meetup whenever we can. While I was nursing the baby I got a bit addicted to Pinterest, especially with ideas for our home back in England.

I knit while watching TV of an evening – nothing beats Doctor Who and Agents of Shield! Now I read everywhere – listening to audiobooks in the car, downloading books onto my phone and stashing books in the bathroom for that occasional long bath. I am working my way through some classics and I adore detective fiction from the 1930s. I also love to escape into other worlds, especially with the help of authors like Jasper Fforde and Terry Pratchett. I wish I could find more time to play the piano and I’ve also taken up playing the recorder again so my treble can accompany little H’s descant.

I plan to take A-level Spanish next year if the family will help out with the children- I haven’t done any exams for a while so I think I’ll try my usual technique of watching films with the subtitles as a way to immerse myself in lieu of holidays.

13. Tell us about your blog / where we can find you online.
I am getting back into blogging now that we are home. While we were away it was a great way to keep in touch and I found lots to write about with our life being so different and challenging in India! Now that we are home we are looking for a new ‘normal’ and I have focused on a Project 365 photo blog with a weekly round up. I have some reviews lined up and enjoy blogging about books too so it’s a mixture.
Come and visit me at: http://menainewbould.tumblr.com/

14. What's the best thing about being a blogger?
There’s always some support, day or night, from the lovely group of people I have met online –somewhere in the world, someone is always awake and ready with a cheery word or encouragement. . I know I have kept a better online journal of the children growing up than I would have done otherwise - those baby record books didn’t get filled in yet!

15. Share a crazy fact about yourself.
As a child I was bitten by a pony belonging to our local health visitor who added insult to injury by personally giving me my tetanus booster shot. There, it had to be do with bottoms…


Thank you so much for sharing your insights and so many favourite products too! It really is facsinating to learn about other mums and to hear their ideas. And great that you're doing the Project 365 photo blog series too.
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1 comment

  1. Thank you! Very happy to be here. Off to share x

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