Love Geek in the Shire

I should point out that I’m not being paid or persuaded or bribed to write this post by anyone. I’ve just found my Ultimate Sling Ever and want to tell everyone about it, as well as leave a record for the minxes to understand why their mother treasured a piece of fabric.

After 8 years of slinging my minxes, with a mixture of success, I honestly thought my buying days were over: we had the Wompat for ‘buckle’ days, the Connecta up for sale, and the unused Didymos Indio Cypress and Natibaby Pao Graphite just waiting for the right moment to sell. Plenty of carriers when your children are 4, 6 and 8 years old! So I thought. And then the sling company my Imaginary Online Friend had been building for years with her real-life friend started to look like it was about to be ready to trade soon. Well, you’ve got to show a bit of support to your friends, so I volunteered to help with a wee spot of proof-reading. I looked at their 2 designs with a passing interest. And oh my word, they bowled me over! Absolutely blew me away! Beautiful, original and with lovely, lovely stories* (see bottom of post) behind them. The idea behind Love Geek reduced me to immediate, hormonal tears. However, I sensibly wished them luck in their new business and concentrated on raising cash to fund a house-move instead of spending it. Then suddenly they decided to weave the 2 designs in coincidentally my favourite colour-combination. Ever. Oh no! I could feel the iron-strong Trout resolve bending… I crumbled and bought Love Geek in a size 6 from Shire Slings, one hour before Mother’s Day, and on the 6th anniversary of my mother’s death. My last sling, the one I will keep forever, and that I hope my own grandchildren will be carried in some day, whether I’m still around to see it or not. 8 love geek design

Read the story behind Shire Sling’s Love Geek and Russian Doll designs at the bottom of this post, but here’s what Love Geek means to me. The design shows DNA, mitochondria and oxytocin molecules: the chemicals that make us all up, that we inherit from our mother (and her mother; and her mother, etc), and that we feel when we’re in love. The shapes spell out mother-love in the language of geekery. If my obsession with precise numbers hasn’t hinted at me being a geek, my assorted academic qualifications nail it. My relationship with my mum was troubled to say the least, yet I miss her badly. I criticised her parenting of me, but I’d give anything to be able to ask her advice on mothering just one more time. She was diagnosed with lung cancer when my first daughter was 8 weeks old; she died when my second daughter was just short of 6 weeks old. The last time we spoke was on my birthday: her own anniversary of becoming a mother. I struggled with being a natural, instinctive mother – still do! – and am battling my own way through a ton of mothering fails. The only time I’ve felt in my bones that I’m being a good mum is when I’m carrying my daughters in a wrap: kissing away hurts, stroking away fevers, chatting to them on my chest, or letting them sleep on my back. The idea of having a sling that managed to encapsulate all of these ideas whirling around in my head was just too seductive – of course I had to own it!

1 first wrapping2 muslin wrapping3 fresh Love Geek

4 unrolling love geekSo, the Love Geek sling arrived and I unwrapped my not-as-expensive-as-I-feared present to me us! “Brown paper packages tied up with string” – oh yes, this layered confection was worth waiting for! The shimmer was incredible, the colours vivid, and Mini approved: she spontaneously kissed “MyLovelyGreenSling” when she saw it. I had to have a quick play with her (this sling is most emphatically a ‘her’!) before giving her a quick bath, tumble and steam iron. The shimmer faded after this wash, leaving a delicate sheen.

9 first love geek wrapI imagine that most people buying this or any wrap will use it with babies and toddlers. My youngest minx, though, is 4; the one needing most Mummy Cuddles is a very accident-prone 6 yo, so I need my woven wraps to be tough. My ideal would be almost canvassy in durability, but soft enough to go next to the minxes’ sensitive skin. My Love Geek is certainly all of that! I hear from other owners that it breaks-in to a soft texture that loses none of its grip. I’ve always been rubbish at breaking in slings and do it just by plain old wearing and using them. I’ll let you know how I get on with that, but right now I’m valuing its new, fresh stiffness – it’s cushy on my shoulders even with a 4.5 stone burden, and it doesn’t slip or slide despite skipping through the spring flowers (The witnesses have been bribed; they won’t tell. The video is under strict security. The flowers won’t talk. It was a moment of euphoric mummy madness, I tell you!)

6 shire slings logo7 care label

Mini has declared it her “Favourite Sling Ever. Really. Ever”, but hasn’t got the vocabulary to say exactly why. “Comfy” and “green!” were the only sensible words I could catch. Midi, however, thoughtfully explained that it felt better on her legs than other slings: it didn’t dig in and it didn’t sag. It made her back feel “strong”. It felt nice against her skin: softness with inner strength. She loves the colours, too.

11 grippy love geek

So grippy that you don’t have to tie-in! Obviously you should always, always tie-in securely, especially with babies. I just wanted to see how grippy the sling was: very.

As well as its grip and sturdiness – the often over-used ‘work-horse’ is perfectly apt here, though – I found its width perfect for wrapping my big girls securely. I wore Mini or Midi interchangeably for an hour-long walk which I’ve not been able to do with other wraps. I do find wrapping kids older than 3 years old a bit difficult because they’re so large compared to my stumpy arms, so usually have to get The Boss to help by hand me ends behind my back. Despite 3 years of helping me, I usually still find myself growling in exasperation: “No! No! Tighten the top rail! The top one! The other one! Can’t you see? It’s just a simple reinforced ruck! Och, follow it with your hands… No, now you’re loosening it!”. But a feature of Shire Slings is that the rails are differentiated. Even The Boss could see. So when I said: “Flip the end over so we can see the green side too, tighten the top rail, then put the bottom rail in my left hand, please”, he complied instantly. No more shouting. So he’s now a big fan, too.

breaking in 7breaking in 8breaking in 210 strong enough for big kid

The story of how Shire Slings came to be and how they chose the designs is really interesting, but you’ll need to check out their Facebook page for that. Do, do, do: they’re also running a brilliant competition with Natural Mamas to win a Russian Dolls wrap at the moment. Say hi from me while you’re there.

breaking in 1

Mini, did you fart…?!

shire slings love geek


breaking in 3   * Stories behind the wraps, quoted directly from the Shire Slings website,

Love Geek Woven Wrap

Apple and petrol

DNA, oxytocin and the mitochondria cell. Brought together in this stunning woven wrap design that spells out mother love.

  • 50% combed cotton
  • 50% cotton
  • 241 gsm

The Love Geek story.

DNA contains the hereditary material used to encode the genetic instructions used in the development and function of all known living things. Oxytocin is the love hormone. We feel its effects when we fall in love with our partner and our babies. Mitochondria cells contain one piece of DNA that is inherited only down the female line. Every person alive today has inherited their mitochondrial DNA from one single great-great-great-. …..great-grandmother, nearly 200,000 years ago.

Scientists have discovered the mitochondrion cell from the growing baby in mother’s heart and other organs, and it has recently been found embedded in the mother’s brain. It is believed they may be acting as stem cells sent from the baby to repair the mother’s body. There is also some evidence that mitochondria are transferred from mother to infant during nursing. Some scientists believe there is an exchange of mitochondria between twins in utero and there is a possibility that younger siblings have their older siblings’ mitochondria.

Russian Dolls story, also from the Shire Slings website:

Apple and petrol

The Russian Dolls woven wrap is inspired by Spring, new life, mother love and family connections.

The two doll families depicted here represent our families; the stars and flowers our children.

  • 50% combed cotton
  • 50% cotton
  • 241 gsm

The Russian Doll story.

Matroyoshka or Russian nesting dolls were first made in 1890. Traditionally they are carved from a single piece of wood, just like families from the same grandmother. They usually contain no less than 5 dolls. The first Doll is female with the inner dolls being either sex. The final baby doll is a solid wooden shape.

Mini Minx

Speaking In Tongues!

Speaking In Tongues! (Photo credit: LisaBPhoto)

I can’t find the blog post when I described Mini Minx practising her assertiveness, aged around 9 months old. She sat in front of the mirror, cocked her head to the side and mouthed, “No”. Then she narrowed her eyes before mouthing, “No!” Then she tried dropping her chin. “No!” She merrily sat there for 5 minutes or so, trying out different ways of saying no. Finally satisfied, she repeated the final verdict a few times, chuckled to herself, hopped up and skipped away.

This morning she did something similar. First she bared her teeth at her reflection. Hmmmm, quite aggressive. Then she bared her teeth with a quite open mouth. OK! Pretty scary. How about a bared teeth with a hiss and a nose-wrinkle? Not bad, not bad… OK, a bared teeth, pretend to bite, hiss and neck jolt forward? Wow, now you’re talking. OK, OK, how about all of the above followed by a Maori tongue poke down? Jeez, so scary I filled my nappy! “Mama, mama, mama! Pooooooo!” she wailed.


2 out of 3

All right! All right! She can have the MMR! Stop citing BMJ articles, woman!

It’s Friday 13th, which means Mini Minx was due her MMR, Meningitis C and HiB booster vaccinations.  Well, until the Health Visitor noticed that Mini’s file had ‘egg allergy’ written on it in big red letters.

I reassured her that I’d done a lot of research (proper research: on the BMJ rather than Mumsnet) on MMR with egg allergy, and that the majority of babies reacting to the vaccination don’t have an egg allergy; they’re far more likely to react to the neomycin or glycerin in it.  And there’s no real egg material in it: it’s made with chick embryos.  There was no longer a standard protocol for egg allergy babies having the MMR in a hospital with a paediatric department.  I was quite happy that so long as there was adrenaline on the premises, that we were more than covered.  Nor was I concerned about her having 3 vaccinations at once: she’d be exposed to far more things attacking her immune system in a standard day, chewing and licking the things that she does.

I did my best impression of a nonchalent, non-neurotic mother.  So I think the Health Visitor over-compensated.  She listened politely, noted my lack of concern, then explained that she would have to administer said adrenaline in an emergency, and she wasn’t happy.  One of the GPs recommended that Mini Minx not have the MMR on the premises, and that she was to have it in the local hospital.

Trying really hard not to look irritated (to be fair, I do understand why she wanted to protect herself.  And better over-cautious than under-cautious, I guess), I asked how long the appointment might take to come through – a few weeks?  A month?

“Oh, much longer.  It’ll take quite a while for the letter to be written by the doctor and sent to the hospital, then they have to open it, then respond, then make an appointment… It’ll be quite a few months,” she said.

Oh.  So in the meantime, my baby gets to risk all the terrible side effects that a disease like measles can bring.  Great.

Still, my poor, wee unsuspecting baba got her 2 booster vaccines.  And yes, she looked at me as if I’d let the Child Eating Witch attack her.


Mini may only be 13 months, and I do tend to baby her, but she does understand a fair old bit.  She insisted on wearing her favourite hat (a red and purple tartan thing), merrily shouting, “Ah! Ah! Ah!” (well, imagine saying ‘hat’ with a dropped aitch and a glottal stop) and patting her head.  Then she’d whip it on and off her little head to make me laugh.  And when I stopped laughing, the little minx smacked me on the bonce, shouted “Ah!” and tried to fit it on me.

For the first time ever, she actually went down in her cot for a nap without a fight.  I put her in her sleeping bag, she waved goodbye to the flowers, the trees, the sea, the cars, the birdies, the cars and the houses (!), then lay quietly in her cot.  I gave her a little Tiny Tears doll that she seems quite fond of, and she poked it in the eyes.  I asked her where the dolly’s nose was?  She poked it in the nose.  Cute – I know she knows what noses are because “Rub noses!” is her favourite game, but I didn’t know she could translate that onto a dolly.

Strawberry Yumminess

I’m not much of a cook, though my baking isn’t bad.  Tonight, however, I made a really gorgeous pudding of much awesomeness.

(sorry about the terrible English – I’ve been reading my blog’s spam filter again and it’s affected me hugely.  In fact I’m still giggling)

Anyway, it’s enormously simple, so to ensure my rubbish memory doesn’t prevent us from scoffing it again, here it is!

strawberry and cream dessertMoray Minxes’ Mess

  • Rip up some trifle sponges
  • Sprinkle over some sherry
  • Add a wee dollop of strawberry jam (about half a teaspoon)
  • Drop over some sliced, ripe, room-temperature strawberries
  • Dollop on some whipped cream (double cream would be nice, too, but I find it a bit heavy.  And I’m too chicken to, with my gallstones…)
  • Fold it up a little

Obviously I omitted the sherry for the minxes and instead let them add some sugar sprinkles.  For egg-allergic Mini Minx, I swapped the trifle sponges for a rusk.  Though given that she’s sleeping very fitfully right now (teeth / eczema bugging her…) I maybe should have left in the sherry!

baby eating strawberry and cream dessert

Cream..! Gonna eat it, gonna wash in it, gonna rub it in my hair!

Mini Minx is 1 Today

****WARNING: pic of seconds old newborn baby born by Caesarean – some people may not like to see it without a wee heads-up of a warning! ****

I’ve been in denial a long time, but no longer – my wee baby is a whole year old today.  Well, at 14:49hrs exactly.  You can see for yourself in the pic below.  This time last year I was measuring my waistline one last time (46″) and messing around with The Boss nervously in his scrubs.

I was going to write a long post all about Mini’s birth, but you know what, who cares?  She got here safely, I was delighted to be allowed to watch her being born (no drapes!) and she’s been the giggly, yummy centre of our family for 12 months, now.

I’m going to spend this evening compiling a big album of photos from Mini’s first year, to proudly sit beside the well-thumbed and well-loved ones of her sisters.

Caesarean birth

The moment the world became a better, more beautiful place: 1449hrs 23 March 2010


baby birthday cake

Precisely one year later...

Mini Minx, You Have Been Evicted…

…please leave your parents’ bedroom!

Me and The Boss pulled out all the stops last night and today, and Mini Minx’s nursery (posh word for a box-room with a window, that a baby sleeps in) is ready.  So tonight’s the night – my youngest baby and I will spend our first night out of touch or sight of each other (though I’m sure I’ll still hear her farts through the dividing wall).

As you can probably tell, I have very mixed feelings about this.  On the one hand, she’s 10.5 months old, so way past the age most babies move into a room away from their parents; she’s normally a great sleeper, so I don’t think we’ll have too much trouble getting her to settle away from us; and it’ll be nice for me and The Boss to have our room back to ourselves* to make as much noise as we like without waking the baby**.  On the other hand, I’m a compulsive checker that my baby’s still breathing.  And I love to watch her little face in repose, it makes my heart glad.  I know I’m biased, but she is so beautiful, even more so when she is having happy dreams.

*well, until 0200hrs when Maxi or (sometimes ‘and’) Midi normally appear.

**I don’t mean anything like sex or anything kinky: we just like having a chat and a giggle about the day just past.

If I’m honest, the delay in moving her has been partly because I’m also quite reluctant to move on to the next stage of my life.  I know it’s nothing earth-shattering, moving your baby out your room, but it signifies how independent Mini Minx has gotten.  She’s no longer a helpless infant, utterly dependent on me for care and nourishment.  Crikey, she even has opinions now (mostly on my cookiong)!  So it’s time for me to move on to being a mummy of toddlers and little girls, rather than tiny babies.  I’ll never have a little newborn mewling me awake at silly o’clock in the morning.  That makes me feel a little wistful, as I’ve enjoyed my daughters being babies very, very much.  Still, they do get more fun as they get older, so: Shields up!  Prepare for the next level of minxiness!

Help, My Ears Are Bleeding

Oh boy, today was tough.  Mini Minx deployed her new weapon: sound vibration torture.  Holy crappola, my nerves are in shattery pieces.

Mini Minx was woken earlier than usual from her princess slumbers (she’s the only one who doesn’t snore like a hog.  I frequently prod her through the night to make sure she’s still alive).  So her ‘routine’ went to hell so I could get the other 2 to nursery on time – shocker, for once we got there just 2 minutes late!  Well, as much as she has a routine, I’m very lax lazy chilled out about that.  Anyway, Mini Minx coped with all the flexibility-being-the-key-to-parenting nonsense for quite a while, but I guess I pushed it too far with deciding to walk 15 mins to the post office and back instead of taking the car.  Just because I’m happy to skip breakfast so long as I’ve had coffee, it slipped my stupid mind that a 10 month old baby might get pretty pissed-off if you try to do the same thing to her.

So, the brisk walk was lovely, both the exercise and gazing into my baby’s beautiful face and cooing ‘Ba!’ or ‘Ma!’ back at her happy smile.  Then she started sighing, “Mum!  Mum!”  When they got a bit more insistent, the penny dropped and I realised I was 15 mins drive from ‘Yum-yums’, ie breakfast.  Doh!  She has apparently inherited my grumpiness – the angry cries that were unleashed during the drive back weren’t sated with breakfast.  Or an extra Guilt Breast-feed.  Or playing, or slinging, or rocking, or story-reading.  She absolutely would not lie down to go to sleep.

The angry growls and roars turned into a butter-piercing shriek around 1130hrs.  By 1230hrs I turned to Calprofen.  By 1530hrs I’d added some Calpol, lunch (furiously thrown at the wall 6 times), beakers of water (ditto) and 2 rusks (grudgingly accepted, then smeared over her high chair with her feet), tried a bath (she was enraged, and hopped down the bath on her bum to punctuate the screams).  She perked up at being reunited with her chief partners in crime for about 45 minutes, then started the screaming again.  By 1700hrs I’d ruined dinner and gone upstairs to slam some doors unnecessarily.  By 1800hrs I turned to drink (remembered after half a glass of wine I was supposed to be finishing painting Mini’s bedroom).  By 2000hrs The Boss was roused from his Friday sofa slump and dispatched to the bedroom to “Paint.  Just paint!  That wall.  I don’t care.  Argh, my ears, will she never stop?!”  By 2130hrs my trusty Moby sling was wet with sweat (mine) and I’d resorted to a baby massage, followed by another bath (she peed on me.  She really was very pissed-off).  By 2230hrs she’d had yet another hour-long feed and was gearing up for another screamathon.  Between 2236 and 2238hrs she let out the longest, loudest fart in the history of mankind, sighed happily, and fell into a pouting sleep.  I handed her over to The Boss and made good my escape.  To here.  Shhhh!  Don’t tell on me!

Can you detect the faint sound of a baby's kitten-like mewls?


Well, it’s all in the title.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Yesterday I completely forgot to tell you about my beautiful, ultra-feminine, Mini Minx baby R’s new trick: she likes to fart.  A few days ago I caught her rocking back and forth, farting loudly with every forward rock, and chortling to herself.  Last night she lay gurgling on her back with her legs in the air.  Every so often she parted her legs, while still keeping them aloft, and emitting a loud ‘parp’.  Each fart was accompanied by gales of laughter.

I hope her sense of humour becomes a little more sophisticated soon.

Latest Software Upgrade

I guess all the night crying and restlessness from the Miniest Minx the past 2 nights has been in response to her latest brain software upgrade.

We all had another rough night last night, with all 3 girls fighting to get Mummy AND Daddy cuddles.  Maxi felt that her bed was too cold, Midi felt that her cold was too bad, and Mini just wanted milk.  Accepting that today would be a washout without a functioning brain, I decided to goof off.  After dropping the eldest 2 at nursery (though right up till the very end I though Midi would want to stay with me: “I not feeling very well” she parrotted from somewhere.  I say ‘parrot’ because she’s repeating an entire sentence she’s heard, her speech isn’t that complex, yet), me and the baby went and had coffee.

I’d promised us it on Monday but it never happened (we went swimming then boring, boring, boring shopping instead).  It was quite a swish place on the High Street.  They could obviously see that my eyeballs were rattling in circles of different rotational speeds because the Americano I was served could have kept an army awake.  Luckily I’d tucked away a pot of dried porridge powder away in the change bag, so Mini got some of her favourite breakfast while I enjoyed a fantastic roll and sausage.  Well, it was that or the chocolate cake, but even my prodigious tolerance of caffeine would have cracked under the strain.

It was lovely just to sit and ‘be’ for 20 minutes.  I met and chatted with a fellow nursery-user; I said hello to 2 guys who used to work for me; I stared into space and enjoyed the silence for a minute or 2.  Best of all, I blethered with baby R.  She is a real people watcher and enjoys sitting quietly and observing humans with her enormous, unblinking eyes.  We both indulged in that, and occasionally shared a quiet ‘Nananah!’ or a ‘Ba.  Ba’.  She’s quite the conversationalist.

The rest of the day was the standard whirl of tidy-up, clean up after kids (why oh why oh why don’t we turn the dining bit of the room into a wet-room thing that we can hose down?!  It would be so much less hassle.  And way more hygienic), degunge Midi’s bed of snot, prep and make a comfort dinner (roast pork, roast potatoes, roast veg – carrots, parsnips, sweet potato, apple crumble and cream).  Then shepherd kids, wellies, drawings, junk modelling and bags (and bags and bags) of urine-soaked clothes home from nursery, juggling them in and out of the car and jostled away from the speeding cars by the side of the road.  Standard.

Brain software upgrade?  Well, my favourite part of the day this week is when me and The Boss sit down with Mini Minx in the evening, after she’s woken from her 3rd nap of the day and her sisters are snoring.  Tonight she demonstrated her mastery of rotating to sitting regardless of the attitude she found herself in.  She has a dancing tower activity centre thing that she loves.  The Boss put it to its full height (for the hell of it, I suspect) at the weekend.  R practiced pulling up on it.  Had she unfurled her legs from their lotus position (!), she’d have done it.  I don’t think it’ll be long: she just has to combine her pulling up with her favourite Downward Facing Dog pose.  She also spent a happy 20 minutes slowly and carefully crawling *forwards* and sideways, chasing after her biggest sister’s ball.  It took me a while to realise she was swatting it away on purpose: I thought she was struggling to catch hold of it.

So, tomorrow…oops, today, damn…is Wreckaroom Day, as the girls’ best friend is coming round for lunch.  Wee girls being wee girls, it’s The Law that they take out every single toy and dressing up item owned for Weekly Close Inspection.  Oh boy.  Just wait till Mini is crawling fast enough to join in the carnage!

Latest Words of Wisdom

Well, baby R is really beginning to vocalise now.  Only yesterday she was a tiny infant who could barely differentiate her cries; I know that in a short blink of time she’ll probably be a sullen, unresponsive, grunting teenager.  So for now, I’m enjoying hearing her little voice emerge, and I’m loving listening to her sisters learn to articulate their thoughts.

We had some friends and their kids over for Sunday lunch today and Maxi Minx waved goodbye to them.  She was pouting out the window and starting to strop.  “C’s so far away – how will she see my little small hand waving?” she wailed.

On holiday, Maxi made friends with twins, a boy and a girl.  She was especially good friends with the girl, G, and usually complained that the little boy, J, was rough with her.  On the last night, G and J came out their room (2 down from ours) and saw Maxi Minx all dressed up, ready for Mini Disco.  “Oooooooh, P!” sighed J, “You look soooooo beautiful!”  Both me and J’s mother gasped and blinked back tears.   “What a lovely thing to say!” I exclaimed.  Maxi Minx blushed and thanked him.  The Boss darkly muttered something about lucky he was only 4 or he’d have had A Word.

Midi Minx’s speech is less garbled since she stopped getting ear infections every month, however she stills confuses Vs and Bs, and Ps and Bs.  So Poppy becomes Bobby, clever becomes cleber.  And Vaseline becomes ballallee.  It took me till tonight to figure out that that’s what she’s been demanding for the last month for her chapped lips:

“Mummy, gib me ballallee.  Peeeeeease.  Now, thankoo”
“Ballallee?  Is that one of your Tomliboos?  A new Telly-tubby?  Someone on CBeebies?  A sweetie?  A friend?  Eh?!”

Yesterday Mini Minx was particularly pissed-off with not being picked up when she wanted to be.  She’d cycled through her cute coos, her sharp shrieks and had graduated to cross chirps.  Eventually she furiously beat her little fists on her cot bars and yelled, “Dadadadadadadada!”  Once she was safely cuddled in my arms and had heard the reassuring click of my feeding bra being opened, she sighed, “Mumumumumummmmmmm”.  So she’s already associating Mum with nice things and Dad with not-so-nice.  Attagirl!

Finally, The Boss dropped a real pearler today.  He was referring to our daughters as Maxi, Midi and Mini Minx (so I guess he reads my blog: gotcha!)  And without skipping a beat, he called me Mega Minx.  Hmph!  No wonder I am, and will always remain, a Grumpy Old Trout!