craft · days out · Just for fun · lifestyle · Seasonal

Window Wanderland: Making An Illuminated Window Display

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve used pretty much all my spare time when Little Man was sleeping or doing his settling-in sessions at nursery to work on creating an illuminated window display for Window Wanderland. I themed the display around the Studio Ghibli film My Neighbour Totoro, because a) it’s one of my favourites, b) I assumed there would be lots of families out and about with kids, and c) honestly the characters have nice simple designs that should be easy to recreate in a papercut!

I was really happy with the final result!

The front view

In this blog post, I’ll talk about how I created my window display, and also share some photos of some of my favourite displays from my local Window Wanderland event this year. Hopefully others will find it useful information and inspiration if you’re planning on creating an illuminated window display yourself. But first things first…

What Is Window Wanderland?

Window Wanderland is a scheme encouraging communities to set up “fun, local, all-people-friendly, window-display-based walking trails then share them with the world.” Illuminated window displays are set up by individuals or families in their homes over a couple of days, and then you can look up a map of your local area showing you where to find displays. It’s a really fun scheme, and obviously it’s especially great this year with the coronavirus pandemic, because it’s all outdoors and compliant with Covid-19 restrictions.

How Do You Make An Illuminated Window Display?

The flippant answer is: however you want to! As I walked around the displays in my local area, I would say that it looked like most people (like me!) did displays using coloured crepe paper and black card. I did spot what looked like a display that had been painted onto tracing paper (?) so that it illuminated beautifully, which I thought was a great effect and allowed for a lot of detail:

How Did I Create My Window Wanderland Display?

By taking over the dining room table for about two weeks! Apologies to my very patient husband. I’ll outline exactly how I approached it and some of my top tips for making an illuminated window display with paper and card…

Step 1: Measure your windows

We have quite a complicated downstairs front window set-up, with 10 panels of varying shapes and sizes, so the first thing was to measure them up. I did a really bad job of this and actually got the measurements for six of the panels wrong, which I only discovered on the night when I went to put my display up in the window… Oops. They were only about 1cm out, but still! I recommend measuring everything twice…

Step 2: Buy your supplies

For my display, I bought a pack of 10 sheets of A2 black card, and a mixed pack of 20 sheets of coloured crepe paper (I already had a lot of the dark blue crepe paper that I used for the background colour). I didn’t use tracing paper as a backing, but lots of people do, especially if you’re going for a more collage-style effect.

My dining room table is in there somewhere…

I already had a craft scalpel in the house, which was essential for the finer lines, and a cutting mat. I also already had Pritt Stick glue in the house, but I ran out on the last day and had to run to the shops to get more – so make sure you have enough glue, as if you have large windows you can end up using a LOT. I also used blu-tack to stick the panels to the windows.

Step 3: Plan your design

I had a vague idea in my head of what I wanted to do, but I first cut my panels of black card into the right sizes for all the window panels – in some cases I also had to stick extra bits of card together to get the right size and shape for my windows. Then I outlined a reasonably thick border around the outer edge of each panel, and then started designing.

I did this as an iterative process, working panel by panel and outlining a design in pencil – rather than designing every panel from the start, before beginning to cut and paste, and I’m glad I did, because the first panel I did was way too complicated and took forever! After that, I simplified my designs a little, and also learned what shapes were easy/difficult to cut etc. as I went. You can see my excessively complicated first panel here – the top one with all the leaves:

I definitely think that when coming up with your design, less is more! I saw some amazing designs around town that were just done with two colours – black card and a white background (for instance, see below!). I think the simpler panels of my design have more impact as well.

Spooky…

Step 4: Cutting and sticking

My method was to cut a design out of black card, using a craft scalpel, and then stick coloured crepe paper in the gaps. For a few features, such as the eyes, I then glued more bits of black card on top of the crepe. It was quite fiddly, but I definitely got faster as I went along.

Actually one of the trickiest things was just finding somewhere I could put the panels while the glue was drying!

From indoors, you can see the construction more

Other Local Windows

Before I started making my Window Wanderland display, I really wanted to see other people’s displays, for inspiration! So I thought I’d share a few more displays that I particularly liked from my local area:

Koi carp and irises window:

This beautiful display looks like it was made in a similar way to my display: cutting the design out of black card, and backing it with crepe paper.

Abstract colours window:

This abstract design is so beautiful and I think something like this would be easily achievable if you’re not feeling confident about making your window display. Again, it looks like it’s made with black card backed with crepe paper.

Prehistoric ocean window:

This lovely prehistoric ocean display looks like it was made by glueing strips of crepe paper onto tracing paper, and then sticking black cut outs on top.

Window Wanderland

I hope this post has been helpful if you’re looking for some inspiration for a Window Wanderland display!

Are you taking part in Window Wanderland in your local area? I’d love to see your designs! Let me know in the comments or tag me on social media for a share!

how to make an illuminated window display for window wanderland pictures and inspiration the sickly mama blog art and crafts
Just for fun · mermaiding · top tips

How To Open Your Eyes Underwater (Tips From A Professional Mermaid)

I’ve previously given my top tips on underwater modelling, based on my time as a professional mermaid and underwater model. So I’m going to continue this as a little blog series! Being able to open your eyes underwater is a really important part of underwater modelling. If you can’t open your eyes, you may still be able to get some beautiful shots with closed eyes, but to be a successful underwater model you need to be able to open them. As the old saying goes, the eyes are the windows to the soul – and in underwater photography, seeing a model with their eyes open is part of what really brings that magical, fantastical quality to the picture.

So if you’re not comfortable with opening your eyes underwater, how do you get there? Realistically, you do need to accept that opening your eyes underwater is likely to sting, and you’ll need to practice to get comfortable with it gradually, over time. Here are some key pointers that will help you get there.

Learn How To Open Your Eyes Underwater

1. Start By Staying Still

If you swim forwards with your eyes open, it’s more painful, because you’re effectively forcing the water into your eyes. For your first attempts at opening your eyes underwater, try to stay quite still as you open them.

Photograph by Gregory Brown

2. Avoid Chlorine If You Can

Chlorine and heavily salted water are the most unpleasant on your eyes, but even fresh water will sting a little bit. Aim to start trying to open your eyes underwater in lightly chlorinated water, or natural water that is clear and free of other irritants (such as a lot of dirt or sand).

If you’re in a public swimming pool, remember that these tend to have higher chlorine levels than private pools or tanks, so your eyes are likely to sting more in a public pool.

Make sure you have eye drops on hand for when you get out of the water – there are lots of great drops on the market, and I recommend looking for the kind that are marketed as being more viscous or gels, such as Viscotears liquid gel.

Check out those pink eyes in this backstage shot by Johannes Hjorth

3. Check The Temperature

It’s also worth being aware that the temperature of the water will make a difference. The most unpleasant underwater photoshoot I ever did was in an indoor tank, and me and the other models noticed that our eyes were burning much worse than normal. We spoke to the tank operators and they did several checks on the chlorine levels, which were completely within the normal range – but by the end of the shoot, we were all barely able to open our eyes (and seriously glad we had brought our eye drops along!).

Afterwards we realised that the problem had almost certainly been the temperature of the water – it was a cold winter’s day and the tank was located in a chilly warehouse, so the operators had very kindly turned the temperature up to ensure we didn’t freeze. However, the warmer water meant that the chlorine was reacting more easily with our eyes and thus a lot more painful than usual. So if you’re shooting in a heated pool or tank, try not to have the temperature turned up too high. You’re better off being briefly cold than having red vampire eyes for days afterwards!

4. Build Up Slowly

Start by opening your eyes for one or two seconds and build up from there. Practice makes perfect, but don’t spend too long practicing at once – spread it out over a number of different sessions to make sure you’re not putting your eyes through too much punishment.

Try opening your eyes while looking upwards initially, as some people find this easier.

Photograph by Hugh Spence

5. And Finally…

If you find that you’re still not comfortable opening your eyes underwater and want to shoot pictures with your eyes shut, make sure that you’re not scrunching your face up to keep your eyes closed – you want to look relaxed!

Just for fun · mermaiding · top tips

How To Look Amazing Underwater (Tips From A Professional Mermaid)

Whether you’re a model heading for your first underwater photoshoot, or just going on holiday and dreaming of getting some awesome underwater shots in the pool, getting a good picture in the water is very different to getting a good photo on land. While I’m not performing now I’ve had my son, I spent years working as a professional mermaid and underwater model, so I’ve pulled together this short guide for modelling underwater, to help you get the pictures you want.

Underwater Modelling Top Tips

1. Keep Track Of Your Location Underwater

Being underwater affords so much opportunity for creative, gravity-defying poses. When you’re getting into position it’s helpful to be aware of the frame that your photographer is shooting into, to ensure that you know whether you can stretch out your arms and legs and still stay in shot, or whether you need to stick to more compact poses. For underwater modelling, aim to keep diving in the same spot unless your photographer wants you to move, as otherwise you’re likely to get a lot of blurry pictures. It can be tricky to keep track of this in swimming pools, as there’s always a tendency to drift in the water, so try to get your bearings each time you surface.

2. Relax Your Face And Open Your Mouth

One of the things that can make your face seem tense or unnatural in underwater pictures is the fact that most people naturally want to keep their mouth closed when they’re underwater. When you’re holding your breath, you’ll naturally want to close your mouth, and most people aren’t that comfortable at first with letting water into their mouth, especially if it’s chlorinated.

But you’ll find that if you can open your mouth underwater, it will help your facial expressions to look relaxed – and gives you a much wider range of expression in your underwater modelling photos. It’s actually probably more important than being able to open your eyes underwater, as closed eyes don’t necessarily make you look tense.

At first, the fact that you’re holding your breath may mean that even with your mouth open, your facial expression will still look a little stiff or unnatural – I recommend just practising at home in the mirror. When you’re doing your breath hold practice, try using a range of expressions, and you’ll find your expression quickly becomes more natural and relaxed.

Photograph by Gregory Brown

3. Getting The Poses Right For Underwater Modelling

You’ll find it helpful to go into an underwater modelling shoot with a mental checklist of poses that you want to try. It’s easy for your mind to go blank when you’re underwater, and communication with your photographer is much more difficult than on land, so it’s useful to be able to work through a set of poses that you’ve planned in advance.​

Make sure you try each pose several times, to give your photographer the best chance of getting a good shot.

It’s also handy to be able to work through a mental checklist of key points as you’re getting into each pose (having something to focus on will also distract you from the fact that you’re holding your breath!):

  • Point your toes (assuming you’re not in a mermaid tail!).
  • Shape your hands – flat paddle hands won’t look good in a picture. Relax your hands and create some space in between your fingers.
  • Relax your face – check you’re not squinting or pushing your lips out.
  • Check your hair – if it’s not floating up, try running a hand up through it for that magical underwater look.
  • Move slowly – give your photographer plenty of time to capture the shot.
  • Use props – props can look amazing underwater! A simple piece of fabric will transform your shot.
  • Think about your lighting (see below).
Photograph by Chiara Salomoni

4. Manage Your Lighting

Just as with normal modelling, it’s important to be aware of your light sources. Underwater lighting can be more complicated, particularly if you’re relying on natural light or surface light, rather than using underwater flashes.

Using surface light in your photography creates that beautiful marbled lighting effect that can be one of the hallmarks of underwater photography.

The side effect of this marbled lighting is the weird shadows that it casts, quite unpredictably – there’s an example of this in the photo to the right. This means that it’s a good idea to have a few takes of every shot – even if your pose is spot-on, the lighting may not be!​

If you are relying on surface lighting, remember to tilt your head upwards and towards your light source, to maximise the light falling on your face. But even if you do this, I guarantee you’ll get some strange shadows in your shots, so make sure you take plenty of photos!

This photograph by David Ballard shows typical dappled underwater lighting

5. Beware Of Bubbles

Unfortunately, bubbles have the propensity to pop up and ruin an otherwise awesome shot. If they’re in the right place, they can add to that magical underwater feeling in the photograph – if they’re in the wrong place, they will cast weird shadows and distort your facial features. When you’re doing underwater modelling, the key is to try to be aware of them and control them as far as possible.

When you first submerge under the water, the dive will usually create a cloud of bubbles and you will need to wait until after these have cleared to get the perfect shot. You can minimise this by diving into the water more slowly, and by getting your clothing and costume fully submerged beforehand, ensuring there aren’t any air bubbles trapped within the fabric. Checking your costume for air bubbles is a good idea in any case, as these can create peculiar floating bits of fabric in the picture.

So far, so straightforward. But now… introducing the ninja nose bubble! When you drop below the surface of the water, pockets of air are trapped in your nose and sinuses. These have a tendency of creating a surprise stream of bubbles from your nose at unexpected moments, particularly when you tip your head backwards in the water. The best thing to do is to just to be aware of the possibility of this happening when you tip your head back – if a ninja nose bubble does appear, just hold your pose and be prepared to wait for the bubbles to dissipate. You may need to repeat the pose a number of times to get the shot you want.

If it’s really ruining your shot, the best thing you can do is to get underwater, tip your head really far back, let the bubbles out and the water fill your nose, and then take your pose. This is not particularly recommended, as the sensation of water pouring into your nose is pretty unpleasant, especially if it’s chlorinated.

A nose bubble ruining this great shot by Shamira Crivellaro of MiraMarc Studios

And those are my top tips for your next underwater photoshoot! I’ll be continuing this series of tips and tricks for underwater photography, so keep an eye out for the next blog – and let me know in the comments if there are any aspects of underwater modelling that you’d be interested in finding out more about.

baby · child development · Just for fun · parenting

Inventions All New Parents Need

Since becoming a parent, it’s become clear to me that the inventors of the world really need to get cracking and design some new products for new parents. Forget baby monitors and nappy bins. I’ve come up with a list of the top inventions for new parents… that haven’t been invented yet!

Snoozetime Indicator

When you put baby in his or her cot for a nap, wouldn’t it be great to know whether they’re going to sleep for an hour or drag you back with a full-scale meltdown in five minutes time? The number of times I have assumed that wee man would only nap for half an hour and then he actually sleeps for three times as long, and I just think of all the useful things I would have done, if only I’d known I had the time (let’s be honest… I would have napped).

A Pause Button

You know when you’re halfway through feeding the baby, and the doorbell rings? What you need is the option to press pause on baby and leave the room, safe in the knowledge that nothing can go wrong. Plus, when they’re screaming the house down, you could just take a break with a nice cuppa.

An Automated Burping Machine

You know those machines that promise to help you lose weight by vibrating the fat away? Surely someone could repurpose this Ultra Powerful Professional Vibration Massage Trainer into a machine that gives baby a little jiggle and shakes all the burps out in one super-efficient go?

Early Warning Poo Alarm

Wouldn’t it be so helpful to have a two minute advance warning that baby was about to poop? Then you could remove them from your lap when you’re wearing that lovely white dress. Ideally, this would also come with a built-in seismometer telling you how severe a bumquake to expect, and whether or not the nappy defences are likely to hold.

What inventions for new parents would you find most useful with your little one? Let me know in the comments!

days out · Just for fun · lifestyle · parenting · reviews

Review : Lavender Picnic at Castle Farm Kent

Queen Victoria allegedly loved lavender, even eating lavender jelly with her roast mutton, rather than the more traditional mint. When my mother plans a picnic, it’s typically on a similarly extravagant scale, and to be honest you’re guaranteed a grand feast even if you end up eating it in a car park. So when we set off for a ‘lavender picnic’ at Castle Farm, the UK’s largest lavender farm, we knew we had the ‘picnic’ part covered. It was up to Castle Farm, Kent to provide the lavender.

Booking Your Lavender Picnic

I had booked our picnic at the last minute, thinking it would be something fun and a bit different to do after months spent in lockdown, while remaining safely outdoors and socially distanced. Tickets were £10.25 per adult, which to be honest is pretty darn steep for the privilege of spending two hours in a field. In fairness, the price does include access to a porta-potty. I’m charitably assuming that Castle Farm need to make a bit of extra cash after the impact of coronavirus.

Our Evening At Castle Farm Kent

But if the ticket price matched the rather steep gradient of the lavender fields themselves, we were far from the only ones prepared to pay up. Although the event was definitely busy, the field we were in was so large that there was more than enough space for everyone to set up their picnic rugs at a safe distance from each other, but right up close to the rows of lavender plants. This was no mean feat when some of the picnics were as lavish as ours (for context, the meat selection alone included roast beef, corned beef, salami, ham, chicken drumsticks and scotch eggs).

lavender fields at castle farm kent during sunset

Of course, it’s possible that we actually had no need to worry about coronavirus transmission, as the ancient Greek surgeon Dioscorides noted lavender’s protective effect against the plague, and centuries later during the Black Death, plague doctors stuffed their masks with lavender to try to prevent themselves from catching the disease. Castle Farm make no such claims about their lavender. Perhaps their gift shop is missing a trick, given the new requirement for face masks to be worn in shops.

Instead Castle Farm, Kent emphasize the relaxing properties of lavender, even marketing their own range of natural sleep products. Relaxation was certainly in the air as we sat and enjoyed our picnic in the gently cooling breeze. Little Man had a very cosy nap in my arms, meaning I had to ask Martin to cut my food up for me so that I could eat it with one hand. Before we knew it, an hour and a half had slipped by and we had barely stepped beyond the first two metres of lavender.

mum and baby in the lavender fields at castle farm kent

So, with a newly-awake Little Man, we set off up into the heart of the fields. If the scent of lavender on the breeze was beautiful at the site of our picnic, it was incredible when you were right in the middle of the field. Along the rows of purple flowers, there were hundreds of bumblebees and honey bees hard at work; when you stood still, you could hear a gentle buzzing in the air. Little Man was fascinated by the flowers and the bees, and he enjoyed smelling the lavender as well. Older children from other parties were having a wonderful time running up and down the neat rows of plants.

baby close up in the lavender fields at castle farm kent

The views across the purple hillsides were stunning with the sun just starting to set, and the bullocks in a field nearby were in a playful mood, treating us to the sight of them gallivanting about and going for a swim in the river. It seemed only fair that they enjoy life before achieving their ultimate destiny as Castle Farm Beef. I haven’t tried the beef myself, but I can attest that it does indeed seem to come from happy cows.

Picnicking on a slightly overcast evening, amongst cascades of British lavender, felt like an experience that was at once very English (the weather), very French (a la Provence’s purple fields of lavender*), and somewhat Japanese (a la hanami, the celebration of the transient beauty of flowers).

Overall, it was a wonderful, memorable experience that was more than just the opportunity to get some instagramable photos. I’d be interested in the future to try one of the Castle Farm lavender walks, and learn a little more about the farm and how they produce their lavender and essential oils.

enjoying a family picnic in the lavender fields at castle farm kent review

Accessibility at Castle Farm, Kent

The car park was nice and close to the field, so if you have reduced mobility, it would still be possible to access the site – although the ground is uneven and flinty, which may be a challenge for wheelchairs or anyone very unsteady on their feet. There are no designated car park spaces for disabled vehicles although you could park away from other cars if you needed the space. We put Little Man in his carrier rather than test the pram’s off-roading capabilities.

Toilets and baby change facilities were provided, albeit as temporary portaloos with steps up to the door, which again could prove challenging if you have mobility issues.

* Actually the “lavender” in Provence is lavandin, which is distinct from British lavender. Both are grown at Castle Farm, so let’s not quibble too much…

baby · Just for fun · parenting

6 Ways My Baby Thinks He’s A Dog

I’ve written before about some of Little Man’s strange habits, but as time goes by, if anything they seem to be getting stranger. Over the last few weeks, Little Man increasingly seems to be taking on the traits and general habits you would expect from a puppy, rather than a baby human. Yes… My baby thinks he’s a dog. It’s very curious and not something I was led to expect from motherhood! Examples include…

6 Ways My Baby Thinks He’s A Dog

Chewing the furniture

Having popped into the kitchen to grab one of his dummies (where do they go? Does anyone know? Is there a dummy fairy that whisks them away to a magical castle in the sky?), I returned to find Little Man chewing a chairleg. Don’t believe me? Check out the guilty look on his face in the photo below…

baby thinks he's a dog chewing the furniture

When I redirected him away from the chairleg, he proceeded to bite me on the knee instead.

Playing fetch

Little Man loves playing fetch with mummy, just like a little puppy. He does play it with a twist, though, because in his game, it’s mummy who gets to do the actual fetching instead. He might roll a ball across the floor for me to retrieve, or drop a book on the floor for me to pick up, or spit his dummy right to the other side of the room. It’s all good fun!

baby thinks he's a dog playing fetch with football

Barking

Little Man loves to make noise. All the time. If he’s angry, he screams. If he’s sad, he screams. If he’s happy, he screams. If nothing much else is happening, he screams. And recently, he’s started getting much better at imitating the noises we make when taking to him. When I took him out on a walk this week, a dog barked in a house nearby. Little Man barked back, and it was a surprisingly good impression.

Chasing his tail

Little Man hasn’t cracked crawling forwards yet, but by God he can turn sideways. At times he will lie on the floor, spinning gently in full circles, just like a little doggo chasing his tail.

Drooling EVERYWHERE

Teething comes with many joys, one of which is more or less constant dribble. Just like an elderly bloodhound, Little Man currently leaves trails of drool all across the floor, usually shortly after I’ve finished cleaning it.

Bathtime mayhem

Up until recently, we always used to bath Little Man in the kitchen. He’s now discovered how to splash with his legs, and he makes so much mess that we’ve had to start bathing him in the bathroom instead. After we’re finished, the amount of water splashed around the place is equivalent to having a long-haired doggo giving himself a good shake after hopping out of the tub.

Does your baby act like a doggo? Let me know in the comments!

baby · Just for fun · parenting

Surprising Jobs That Being A Parent Qualifies You For

It often occurs to me, when undertaking some random baby-related task, that being a parent comes with transferable skills that often go unrecognised. I’ve written before about the events I think that my baby could medal in at the Baby Olympics… But us parents have skills too. So my husband and I came up with this list of jobs that we think being a parent qualifies you for… Some of them may surprise you!

Jobs That Being A Parent Qualifies You For

Bomb Disposal Expert

Any parent who has tried to transfer a sleeping baby (a.k.a. potential explosive device) from their lap into a cot has developed an incredibly light touch, along with the ability to make difficult decisions under extreme pressure.

Cat Burglar

The number one skill required of a cat burglar? Sneaking around darkened rooms. This is also a key skill for parents, once they have transferred the aforementioned sleeping baby into its cot.

As being a parent is also very expensive, you can offset the ruinous cost of nursery fees, milk, nappies, and endless new sizes of clothes through your new career as an international jewel thief.

Snake Oil Salesman

Baby’s got teething trouble? Sing him the magic nursery rhyme, you know, the one that always cheers him up! Toddler fell over? Give that bruised knee a magic kiss to stop it hurting! Little one has a sad tummy? Quick, wave Mr Giraffe at him, that’ll cheer him up!

As parents we are constantly trying to trick our children into accepting deeply unscientific cures for what ails them. The logical next step is peddling Dr William’s Pink Pills For Pale People.

Waste Management

I mean, this one is obvious. Once you’re handed that beautiful little baby in hospital, it’s immediately time to become an expert in the clean-up and disposal of hazardous waste.

Octopus

“That’s not a job!”, I hear you cry. Well, maybe not. But if Paul the Octopus managed to make a career out of it, then so can you. Ever found yourself holding the baby, and a cup of tea, and your phone, and mixing up a bottle of formula, and changing a nappy, all at the same time? Me neither. But I’ve had a bloody good try.

What other jobs do you think being a parent qualifies you for? Let me know in the comments!

surprising jobs that being a parent qualifies you for the sickly mama job
baby · parenting

The Unbelievable Adventures of Little Man

One of my favourite things at the moment is Little Man’s conversations with my husband. Little Man is a mega chatty four month old, who loves making as much noise as possible. He loves “talking” with you, and often when he’s having a long chat/noisemaking session with his dad, my husband will “translate” his half of the conversation… And make it sound like he’s been up to the craziest adventures (fun adventures, not the rubbish keeping-you-up-all-night kind). Something like this:

Little Man: *gurgles*

Martin: You robbed a supermarket? What did you steal?

Little Man: *squeals*

Martin: You stole all the formula milk? Why did you do that?

Little Man: *makes a loud shrieking noise, farts*

Martin: Well, I know you love milk, but where are we going to store it all?

…And so on. According to my husband, the little chap has been on some very outlandish adventures, including a trip on rockets into space, a run-in with a pigeon which he threw his dirty nappy at, and a ride on a donkey made of springs. I honestly don’t know where he gets it all from, but baby loves it! Especially because listening to it makes me laugh, so we’re all just sat together giggling away and Little Man gets more and more excited (and consequently louder and louder) as the story gets more ridiculous.

It’s great fun and highly recommended. There’s plenty of advice out there for parents that emphasizes how important it is to talk to your baby, as an essential part of their language learning and development, but it can get a little boring when you’ve narrated your entire morning or told them for the five hundredth time that they’re the cutest little bubba in the world. This is much more entertaining, and it will let them enjoy being the centre of attention as well.

the unbelievable adventures of little man sickly mama blog
baby · Just for fun · parenting

The Baby Olympics

I’ve been entertaining myself lately by speculating about what events Little Man could medal in at the Baby Olympics.
Most actual “Baby Olympics” events held around the world (notably including in Bahrain in 2018 and on the Ellen de Generes Show) include boring events like crawling races, as well as featuring participants up to five years old which, frankly, is cheating.
No, I’m talking about a REAL Baby Olympics, testing the athletic skills that babies really practice and hone every day at home. Events such as…

The Long-Distance Dummy Spit

Little Man is a champion at this. One minute he has his dummy, the next minute it’s flying past my ear in high velocity slow-mo like something out of The Matrix. How does he get it to fly so far with, seemingly, no effort at all? It’s a closely-guarded secret.

The Fussathon

This is a marathon, not a sprint. Some babies, trying to keep their parents up at night, go for the Explosion Of Fury approach. Now, Little Man is a proponent of that approach, but he knows it’s hard to keep up over the long term, without just ending up tired. Instead, the true connoisseur baby keeps his parents up while simultaneously remaining asleep himself, by fussing, thrashing around, and making loud grumpy noises in his sleep. Now that’s something that can be continued almost indefinitely. What a pro.

The Baby Biathlon

An event where top prizes are awarded for simultaneous eating and pooping. Little Man is a true champion at this, but I recommend against volunteering to be part of the stadium clean up crew afterwards. Let the Japanese do it.

Kneeplechase

Little Man loves being bounced on my knee on an imaginary horsey ride. Weirdly, it is sometimes the only thing that will calm him down. We even have a special horsey ride song we sing (well, okay, I sing). The Olympics don’t currently feature a steeplechase, but I think the Baby Olympics should introduce it as an event.

Greco-Roman Bunny Wrestling

Up until very recently, Little Man has not really been interested in toys. But all that has now changed and he will sometimes grab Mr Bun Bun a.k.a. Peter Rabbit, and suck on his leg or bash him repeatedly into the ground. No doubt about it, he could definitely take Mr Bun Bun in a fight.What events do you think your baby could medal in? Let me know in the comments!
baby · health · parenting

My Baby Is Scared Of Sabre Toothed Tigers (and yours is, too)

Little Man is in the unenviable position of having colic and starting teething, which means he is a mega grumpus on a regular basis. Something that has always seemed particularly unreasonable about his behaviour is that he will regularly stop crying and chill out if he is picked up and walked around the house (especially if he goes on his dad’s shoulder, which is good absolute favourite place to be), but the second we sit down with him, he starts crying again.

Up until now, I was under the impression that this was because he is a deeply uncooperative child, but I discovered entirely by accident that THIS IS AN ACTUAL THING THAT ALL BABIES DO BECAUSE OF SABRE TOOTHED TIGERS.

Why do babies stop crying when they’re being carried?

Okay, not sabre toothed tigers specifically, but predators in general. When babies are carried by their caregivers, their heart rate actually drops and they stop voluntary movement and crying. A similar reaction is seen in other mammals. However, this only works if you are carrying them while moving; stationary carrying doesn’t change their behaviour.

It’s proposed that this reaction has the evolutionary function of increasing survival chances if the mother needs to escape from a situation with her child.

Unfortunately for parents with grumpy babies, the soothing effect only works for as long as the baby is being carried around. So if baby is grumpy because he was upset by a loud noise or sudden pain (like immunisations), then carrying them around will soothe them. But if the reason they’re crying is something that’s still ongoing when you try to sit down or put them down (such as hunger or painful wind), they’ll just start crying again straight away. Great.