Author Archives: Christobel

About Christobel

I live in London and having become a grandmother two years ago, I wanted to share some of the joys and sorrows of grand parenting. I am passionate about leaving a sustainable environment for my grandchild to grow up in and I feel we are blindly walking into a disaster, because we are not taking the situation seriously enough and thinking before we make purchases about the effect it may have on the planet.

A love of reading

By Christobel, Friday, August 16, 2013

Reading Study Beach 389x389 A love of readingFor me there can be nothing more pleasurable than to read a good book. I realise that is not the case for everyone, but I think this may be because they haven’t been directed to good books.

I firmly believe a love of reading has to be engendered from a very early age. Looking at picture books when you are still a baby and then the bedtime story which should be a delightful warm and loving experience that every child should have.

If your parents were keen readers, evidence shows you are also more likely to love a good read. But as you grow up and life becomes more hectic reading for pleasure is often one of the pleasures that goes by the wayside.

The long view

As I am going to be 69 in September I can look back and see that there have been periods in my life when there just was not time to read, young children, careers, family life, cooking, entertaining all took precedence over reading.

But the great thing about reading is that it is a life skill that, if you were introduced to with the love and the excitement of a good story you can always pick up at any time.

Some of the benefits of a good book include:-
A place of calm to go to when all around you is going mad.
You need never be bored or at a loss for what to do.
You will never be lonely.
You learn a lot about human nature, history or whatever topics are of interest to you.
A book is the perfect travelling companion.

Do not be an intellectual snob about your book

Particularly when you are just picking up reading again, be easy on yourself, read easy read books. I loved the children’s Harry Potter books they are exciting and easy to read, but there are lots of funny light and entertaining books to get you going.

Bridget Jones Diary is one, or do you have a particular interest in something, maybe science fiction can grab you. If you have a spiritual leaning a beautiful book is Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse. its short and very uplifting.

Thats another thing make your first few books short. Do not go for large volumes, you won’t finish them and then you will feel defeated. So leave the James Joyce Ulysses for when you are really hooked on reading again.

Historical Novels

Until recently I never read historical novels for the simple reason you know what is going to happen. But earlier this year I discovered the writer Hilary Mantel, she is an English writer whose books have garnered numerous awards.

I will warn you they are too complicated to be starter books, but when you feel you are ready they are really great reads.

What I have found is that although I thought I knew about a given period, I certainly didn’t know all the ins and outs of actually what happened. Hilary has researched her books thoroughly so they are historically correct, but they are told as stories that draw you in and inform you at the same time.

The two best known of her books are Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, both these books have won numerous prestigious awards and are about Thomas Cromwell an extraordinary man who became King Henry Eight’s right hand man.

In the UK we studied Henry in depth when I was at school, mainly because he had 6 wives, many of whom met bloody ends. But Hilary really brings the period and people alive.

Another of her books is A Place of Great Safety which is about the French Revolution, this is a riveting book which every potential dictator should read. It really shows how people will take so much , but when they turn they become like animals.

But however you do it when the time is right, rediscover the joys of a good book

Christobel is a grandmother who lives in London UK. She is an avid reader and loves her new Kindle book which she was given for Christmas. She finds she can download books instantly and the neat little book fits in her handbag perfectly.

Five Supplies You Should Buy Along With Your Child’s Bike

By Christobel, Friday, October 26, 2012

Child Kid Bike 389x427 Five Supplies You Should Buy Along With Your Child’s BikeYour child’s first bike is a major event in her life, and many parents get so excited to buy their children their first bike that they forget all of the necessary supplies! Your child needs basic safety equipment, as well as tools that will make bike riding easier and more fun. Before you give your child her first bike, here are the things you must buy:

Helmet

A helmet is the single most important thing your child should have to go along with her bicycle. While biking is safe with adult supervision and proper teaching, even a minor fall can result in a serious head injury.

Your child doesn’t have to be riding a rugged mountain bike to sustain an injury, because even a small fall from the wrong angle can prove disastrous. A helmet protects your child’s developing brain from potentially disastrous injuries, and in many areas, the law requires that all bikers wear helmets. Ensure that the helmet fits properly, and that your child knows that riding with a helmet is not negotiable.

Reflective Gear

Your child should never ride unsupervised, and never at night. However, even with adult supervision, children can be hard to see at dusk and early in the morning. Purchase reflective strips to put on your child’s bike. This ensures that all motorists see your child, and will also help other bikers to steer clear of a child learning to ride.

Children’s Bike Basket

While a bicycle basket isn’t an absolute safety necessity, it can be an excellent bike accessory. It also encourages your child to cycle with two hands because she has a place to put items such as newspapers and cell phones. The basket should be securely attached to the front of the bike and should have no jagged or metal parts that could injure your child if she falls.

Appropriate Shoes

Children are notoriously bad at keeping their shoelaces tied, so it’s wise to get your child shoes with very short laces or athletic shoes that do not require lacing. Shoelaces can get caught in the spokes of your child’s bike, resulting in cuts, scrapes, falls and serious injuries. Make sure your child knows that she must always wear securely-fastened shoes and that it’s never ok to cycle with loose laces.

Padding

Especially for beginning bikers, padding is a must-have. Get your child knee and elbow pads, which will protect her from serious bruises and a broken bone if she falls. Never give her shin pads, which can interfere with her ability to pedal.

Pads also serve an additional benefit: by preventing minor injuries, they can make your child less afraid to bike, and decrease the likelihood that she will have a fall that scares her out of biking forever. Especially for children who are anxious about getting on a bike for the first time pads are a must-have.

Remember that, no matter how much safety gear your child has, nothing guarantees her safety better than an attentive parent. Never allow her to cycle alone, even if she pleads to go out by herself.

Christobel Edwards became a grandmother two and a half years ago for the first time. Although keeping quiet is difficult for this marketing maven, she’s learning to let her child and grandchild make their own decisions. She loves buying things for her grandchild and can’t wait to buy her her first mountain bike.

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors, but Bad Family

By Christobel, Wednesday, October 10, 2012

wood fence 389x245 Good Fences Make Good Neighbors, but Bad FamilyPerfect love sometimes does not come until the first grandchild. ~Welsh Proverb

A new baby is such an exciting time for a family. It is chance to have new beginnings. It is a chance to forgive. It is a chance to foster a new relationship. However, welcoming a new baby can also cause resentment, irritation, and hurt feelings. It is all in how you handle it.

Nearly every new grandmother I have ever encountered genuinely has good intentions at heart. Even when it seems like she is just doing something to annoy you.

Even if you and your mother had a strained relationship before the birth of your child, it is not too late to foster a new and different relationship with her.

As an example, my mother and I did not get along at all. I left for college when I was 17 and never looked back. These days, I talk to my mother almost daily. To laugh about the funny or cute things that my children did- getting to this point did not happen overnight and there have been ups and downs but we have had open communication.

What Changed?

It is not uncommon for mothers to view their children as children forever and have a hard time accepting them as independent adults. After having a baby, I was able to relate to my mother with a common topic: the baby. She was also able to relate to me as a mother. This changed our entire dynamic. We still do not talk about the “dark years” when we were not friends, but focus on valuing each other now.

Learn How to Nicely Set Boundaries

This is a huge one. Personally, we did not have this issue as much because we were so cautious around each other, but often, mothers have a hard time recognizing a new family as a new family.

Mothers have a hard time giving up the role of “mother” especially in families that are really close knit. Learning to tell your mother or mother-in-law that you appreciate her help but you need to navigate certain things as the new family you are.

One of the things that I found useful was giving her tasks that she could do. My mother organized the diaper space for me, sorting newborn pre-folds, covers, and one size diapers. This gave her the feeling of being helpful without becoming intrusive.

Communicate

This is a tough one for me, to explain. I could have communicated to my mom until I was blue about what I wanted or needed but everything was in a constant state of flux. What I thought I would want did not necessarily end up being what I wanted. Avoid setting too many ground rules and keep the lines of communication open.

You Both Want the Same Thing

Remember this: both of you want your baby to be happy, healthy, and loved. Your mother is on your side. Really. If you can get to the place of understanding this, dealing with irritations often becomes easier.

My mother would lay my baby on her lap and gently sway. My baby would fall asleep and my mother would just look at her, drinking in every expression on her face. My mother would then whisper “The angels are talking to her”. That image of my mother and my child is burned in my memory as one of the most touching ever. I could put my baby in the same position and do the same thing, yet be greeted with cries. There is something special about grandmas.

Take Her Advice, Sometimes

Who would have known cabbage leaves in my bra would ease engorgement pain? My mom did, and I am so thankful she shared that advice with me. She also taught me some great ways to swaddle my babies. However, she also recommended putting cereal in my baby’s bottle. Sometimes the wisdom of your mother can be invaluable other times it can be unsafe or unhealthy.

It is not necessary to berate you mom about this. Tell her that you are doing it a different way, and offer reasoning. Your mother did the best she could with the information she had at the time.

As a new Grandma, Christobel has had to learn the art of minding her own business while maintain a strong bond with her grandchild. This delicate balance did not come easy for her, and she seeks to share her wisdom with other families navigating this change.

Christobel is passionate about the environment and dedicated to helping new mothers learn green ways of parenting that will leave an environmentally sustainable world for our children.

Big Changes to Expect During the First Trimester and A Tip to Prepare for Your Baby

By Christobel, Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Cute Baby Big Changes to Expect During the First Trimester and A Tip to Prepare for Your Baby“A grand adventure is about to begin” – Winnie the Pooh

Congratulations on your pregnancy. It is so exciting and has the potential to be easily overwhelming. Maybe this pregnancy is long awaited or maybe it is a surprise. Either way it can be one heck of a ride!

The first trimester is the time to set the stage for the rest of the pregnancy. There is a lot you can do to help set you on the course for a normal and natural pregnancy and birth during early pregnancy and before conception.

Even if this is not your first baby remember ever pregnancy is different. For instance with my first child I had hardly any morning sickness. With my second child- I required IV nutrition due to hyperemesis. Both pregnancies resulted in healthy babies but could not have been more different.

Fatigue, Extreme Fatigue

Often the first symptom of pregnancy that women notice is extreme fatigue. This is not the kind of fatigue that comes from doing too much or not sleeping enough. Pregnancy fatigue is in a whole new class. Fatigue hardly even covers it. It is okay. It is normal.

Knowing it is normal will not make it easier to get through days, but at least you will not have to worry that something is terribly wrong. It is best to try and rest. A mother’s body is building a person- the first trimester is when some of the most important work gets done, this takes energy.

If your body is telling you to rest, listen to it- if at all possible. I would often take naps during the day when I was expecting or fall asleep before dinner- making a person takes a lot of work.

It is tempting to try and counter the fatigue and exhaustion with caffeine. Save the caffeine for when you need to stay awake once your baby is born. While small to moderate amounts of caffeine are usually perfectly safe- over indulging can be harmful. There have been studies that have linked high amounts of caffeine to increased risks of miscarriage, premature birth, or low birth weight.

Admittedly, I am a tea drinker, and if I cut out all caffeine I would get terrible headaches, so I had enough caffeine to prevent or treat a headache which was usually two cups of tea (sometimes three) a day.

Superhuman Sense of Smell
My husband could usually tell I was pregnant before I could because I would be picking up scents that our dog would miss (an exaggeration, but not by much).

There is some evolutionary theory here. When food goes bad it smells. Mother’s sense of smell may be heightened to prevent her from eating anything that could harm her baby. Smelling every possible scent often can lead to headache or nausea.

Pregnancy was one of the few times I was thankful for allergies. To counter unpleasant smells put a few drops of an essential oil that you find pleasing in scent on a hanky and put it in your purse. It will be handy if you find your nose being assaulted by stinky things.

Early Pregnancy Preparation
I found myself becoming very eco conscious when I was pregnant. I did not want to expose my baby to any toxins. I wanted to ensure the world I left behind was in better shape than I found it. Thus I started researching and exploring green options for everything. I switched household cleaners (vinegar is amazing), changed soaps and shampoos, started buying reusable things instead of disposable.

Many people asked me what I wanted for gifts to prepare for my baby, I often suggested money to put towards diapers or furniture. Those things can really add up.
Why not actually buy diapers? Babies come in all sizes even newborns! Often a hospital or midwife will supply the first week or so- by which time your baby may have grown out of one size already. Having money on and to purchase what I needed was a big relief.

About Christobel:

An active and fun loving grandmother, Christobel lives in London, England, and has learned about motherhood the best way possible: by doing it. Now she aims to help other mothers avoid some of the pitfalls by sharing her knowledge. Smart woman she is, Christobel quickly realized the value of the internet for reaching large numbers of people.
Like any grandmother, she believes one of the cutest things in the world are photos of chubby happy babies in diapers. Christobel enjoys showering her family with love and affection.

5 Ways to Make Your House More Child Friendly

By Christobel, Tuesday, May 1, 2012

“We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today.” – Stacia Tauscher

Parents frequently spend significant time tailoring their home to their children’s needs. So you might be wondering why you need to contemplate whether your home is child-friendly before your kids’ friends come over. The answer is that all children are different, and what your child loves might be precisely what other kids hate.

In order to make your house a welcoming location for your child’s friends, it’s important to think about how your home appears to an unfamiliar child. Is it welcoming or scary? Is there a variety of food available? Is there entertainment for children with a variety of interests? If your child’s friends feel welcome and comfortable at your house, they’re more likely to want to come back. And if your child’s friends love spending time at your house, you’ll get to spend more time with your child!

Choose the Right Foods

If your child is a picky eater, you’ve probably adapted your pantry to her preferences. But most children are picky about the foods they choose, and some foods pose significant health risks to children, so it’s important to take stock of your food supply before your child’s friends visit.

Stock up on a variety of finger foods such as granola bars, cookies, string cheese and similar items that require no preparation. Avoid giving children anything containing peanuts unless you’ve talked to their parents first. Peanut allergies are increasingly common, and can provoke a life-threatening reaction in allergic children.

Choose Media Carefully

Media such as video games, movies and tv shows can be a source of stress between children and their parents. You might allow your child to watch things her friends aren’t allowed to. Getting in trouble with friends’ parents is a surefire recipe to make this playdate the last, so choose the media you allow children to see carefully. Anything containing violence, sex or drug use should be taken off of the playlist.

This doesn’t mean you have to show children nothing but cartoons and “family” movies. Many edgy comedies or science fiction movies are perfectly appropriate for children with little violence or other inappropriate topics. If you’re not sure what movies are acceptable or you have older children whom you allow to watch “controversial” movies, talk to the parents of your child’s friend.

Stock Up On Entertainment

Young children in particular frequently struggle with entertaining themselves, so make sure you have plenty of toys and other sources of entertainment around. Art supplies, stickers, dress-up supplies, video games and outdoor toys are generally good choices for children of most ages.

Similarly, children are better able to entertain themselves when they have lots of room to play and ample sleeping space. If your child frequently has sleepvers, a small additional bed will serve you well. Consider buying an extra bed, such as a twin captain’s bed.

No Discipline

While it’s important for kids to obey rules, it’s equally important that your child’s friends feel comfortable in your home. Avoid disciplining your child’s friends unless it’s absolutely necessary and you have explicit permission from their parents to do so.

With the proper supplies and a little bit of effort, your house can quickly become the place your children’s friends love visiting. Take the time to get to know your children’s friends. When they become teenagers, you’ll be grateful for your involvement in their life and will love hearing your children’s friends refer to you as the cool parent. And when your kids’ friends like you, your children will be less inclined to write you off as irrelevant and boring.

About the Author

Christobel Edwards lives in London, one of the most exciting cities in the world. She became a grandmother two years ago, and views this as an important next chapter in life, although she’s slowly learning to keep her mouth shut! She loves getting presents for her grandchild and recently bought her a children’s bunk beds with stairs.

Date Weekend With Your Husband Tip – Send the Kids to Grandma’s House

By Christobel, Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Couple Vacation Husband Wife 389x258 Date Weekend With Your Husband Tip – Send the Kids to Grandma’s HouseA grandmother is a little bit parent, a little bit teacher, and a little bit best friend. ~Author Unknown

Date night itself can be an unreachable dream for many moms. So when I suggested a date weekend with my husband, he thought I was crazy. I had the perfect plan. We would send our two children, ages 3 and 8 years old, to grandma’s house.

My husband’s mother really wanted to have the children come over to her house, but my mother lives closer. Also, I had revamped her entire home into a kid-friendly pleasure palace.

Be Aware of Sleeping Children

The first pieces of furniture I helped my mom choose for the children were beds. It’s been nearly three decades since children slept at my mother’s home, and my old childhood furniture was long gone. I researched for high quality beds that would last for many years, and I found a Captain’s Bed that suited our tastes perfectly.

I liked the easy assembly and the fine-grained wood, while my mother was impressed by all the storage space the beds provided. These beds are full sized bed with drawers underneath for toys, linens or anything you need to store.

It doesn’t scream child’s bed, so it can be used throughout the teenage years. Adult guests can also sleep in the beds comfortably without knowing they were for children.

At first I planned on buying the bed only for my son, but when my daughter saw his full Captain’s bed, she wanted the same exact bed. Their room at my mother’s house has both beds, each against an opposite wall. The full size allows for this space convenience. Each child has two drawers, one for clothes and one for toys and books, so the items live permanently at Grandma’s house.

Once we found these beds, everything else fitted into place like a breeze. We framed one picture from each child to hang in their new room, and we placed duplicate copies of their favorite bedtime books at my mother’s house. The first time the kids stayed over, they brought along their favorite toys and their pajamas.

I let my mom pick out adorable sheets for the children. For our son, she found sheets with a space theme, while our daughter uses one with delicate flowers. For chilly nights, my mother handmade special quilts with fabric from the children’s very first baby blankets.

My mother uses the other drawers in the Captain’s Beds for extra pillows, linens and yarns she has. She is an avid knitter and stores her multitude of yarns by color in the drawers of these two beds.

The rest of the room was left alone. It already had shutters which blocks out sunlight when our daughter naps in the room, and we added one matching desk for our son to work on school projects and homework.

Safety at Grandma’s

When my son began crawling, I baby proofed my mother’s home thoroughly. She allowed us to install cabinet locks to all the lower kitchen and bathroom cabinets. I also added toilet locks to prevent him from opening the toilet lids.

My mother’s house has a swimming pool that our children love, but I was worried about its dangers. We installed door alarms at each door and window that led to the pool.

We bought a pool cover as another safety precaution, which we feel is safer than a fence. Children can push lawn chairs and tables to climb over the pool fences, and pool gates can be accidentally left open. A cover is either on or off, and my mom is good about using it when we come over.

I added a hearth guard around the fireplace, and I removed any breakable objects that were at our children’s height. My mother barely recognized her home after we were through with it, but she understood the importance of being safe.

Likes and Dislikes

Our children are easy going but they can be picky. It comes in waves. One month, my daughter only wanted to eat orange colored food. Then another month, my son didn’t want to wear socks. It’s humorous at times, but it can be pain as well.

My mother believes it all comes down to parenting, while we believe personality types come into play too. I had to really convince her on this issue. She tends to think traditional child-rearing practices are better than modern parenting styles, like “attachment parenting.” We allow our children to have a say in their meals and clothes, and she thinks it is overindulgent.

We finally agreed that we could disagree on childcare philosophies, and we are all much happier. I let her grandparent as she sees fit when the children are with her, and we try not to step on her toes when we are in her home. She steps back and does not complain if we do something she does not approve of.

After we dropped off the children at Grandma’s, my husband and I barely knew what to do. We drove to the coast impromptu and watched the waves hit the cliffs at sunset. My husband and I laughed when we didn’t need to cut up any child’s food at dinner. We enjoyed our adult only time, but we did call the kids after two hours of leaving them with Grandma.

About the Author

A marketing and sales entrepreneur, Christobel Edwards lives in London, England. Last year, she proudly became a grandmother. Like all doting grandmothers, she buys everything her grandchild wants. She recently purchased a bunk bed with trundle and stairs.