Monday, 29 December 2014

Breastfeeding Exposed

It has been in the news a lot recently about breastfeeding mothers doing so in public in restaurants etc, especially after a mother was told to cover up in Clarridges.

It has made me reflect on my time as a breastfeeding mum. Breastfeeding in public was something I never really got the hang of mainly because of the added pressures of worrying if other people were feeling disgusted by me. Was that table over there watching me? What's that expression on their faces? Oh god, that man hasn't stopped starting at me the whole time, is he hoping for a shot of boob? 

After the stressful time I had with Callum and on several occasions moving to the disabled loo to feed and then working it so it was always a bottle feed rather than the turn of the breast when I had to go out (with Callum I could only feed from one side and expressed from the other to feed in a bottle), I swore I was going to get over it with Millie and breastfeeding in public wouldn't be an issue. I was going to buy lovely feeding tops and beautiful feeding covers. However, when the time came, I didn't have the money for such items as they were so expensive and, although I tried harder not to let it bother me, I still worried what people thought of me. With Millie it wasn't as simple as to be the only reason but definitely played a part with the end to my breastfeeding her.

Stuart and I were on a weekend away to Devon when Millie started refusing the breast in favour of the bottle. We went out for lunch and I was trying to be all relaxed and feed Millie but she would fuss over the nipple. Because she was fussing and crying for milk I became anxious about drawing attention. I was struggling to maintain my modesty because Millie kept pulling at the covers which made me stress more. The more anxious and stressed I became the more Millie fussed. I told Stuart I couldn't handle the public display so we went back to the car but it was uncomfortable and no better. Millie was obviously hungry but wouldn't feed. In the end Stuart ran all over Torquay trying to buy ready made formula and bottles to feed her.

Keeping covered in public when breastfeeding is all good and well when you have a cooperating baby but when things aren't going to plan, thoughts about what others may or may not be saying aren't helpful. I know this is my problem as maybe noone was saying anything. Maybe they sympathised and had been there too. Maybe they thought it was beautiful but the opinions bestowed upon me by my mum (who didn't breastfeed), my non-maternal and childless friends and the articles I see in the media make it difficult not to worry that everyone in that cafe or restaurant isn't against you.

I battled on (and yes it was a battle) for about a month longer before Millie pulled the plug on it altogether.

Like I said, the mental fight I had was my own doing and I know that but I do ask that people spare a bit of empathethy for the struggling mummy who is trying her best to meet the basic feeding needs of her baby rather than judge or make unhelpful comments (or looks of disapproval) and instead he her to keep her discretion and modesty.  As for the media, perhaps we can have more positive stories about how welcome feeding mothers are rather than how unwelcome.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Picture perfect Christmas

Every year I have this vision of a perfect Christmas and then stress myself out trying to achieve it. I get grumpy when no one is working towards the same vision as me and sob into my Baileys with cries of "it's all gone wrong".

One year, after a huge strop, Stuart banned me from ever cooking Christmas dinner again as I was unbearable. He stuck to it for a year and duly cooked dinner for 8 adults 2 teens and 4 little ones. This year, (there have been a couple of Christmases at my parents in between) he has handed the reins back to me.

Away from the situation I can see how ludicrous it is for me to behave like I do. It is so out of character for me. I'm really not usually that highly strung but some sort of Christmas madness comes over me.

We have once had the perfect Christmas though.

Callum was about 1. After a small stocking, we got up and went downstairs for scrambled egg, smoked salmon and champagne, as is our tradition. We then opened tree presents. Following which we headed to the local for a bit of Christmas spirit by their lovely warming log fire. After a couple, we walked back home and Stuart started on the starter of goats cheese and red onion tarts. I cooked the main of roast duck and roast veggies. The gravy reduction didn't turn out but it didn't matter, all was chilled. A while later we had pudding. I don't remember what we did that evening but I do remember feeling chilled out and really enjoying it. So much so I want to try to recreate it this year.







This does worry me as we all know it's impossible to identically recreate an event second time round so I'm trying to tell myself to relax and to have an idea of what I want to achieve but ultimately to remember the reason why it went well was because I was relaxed.

To also remember, it's not about me anymore, it's about the kids. It's about making sure they enjoy it. That the day is full of happy memories and magic for them.
 
What is important is that I am with the people I love and that is all it really takes to make a Christmas perfect.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Poorly Food. What's your's?

Millie Moo is poorly today. She had a temperature in the night and woke a couple of times. She perked up a little this morning and get temp had dropped so I took her into nursery but it was no surprise when I called to check on her to discover her temperature had risen again so I went to collect her. 

Poor little mite is on the sofa under a blanket watching Peppa Pig (I know what a shocking mother I am,  first taking her to nursery after having a high temperature and then letting her watch Peppa Pig) with some beans and toast in front of her. Unable to bring herself to eat it but won't let me take it away. 



Beans on toast with a glass of orange squash was always what my mum gave me when I was poorly and it is what I make for my children when they are unwell too. In fact, it is still what I make myself when I can manage some lunch if under the weather. 

My husband makes me cook him homemade vegetable soup when he is ill which I grudgingly oblige with but rarely silently as I can't ever imagine getting the same treatment back when I'm poorly but that's another blog post. 

What I was wondering is what is your Poorly Food? What do you make for your children or what makes you feel better? 

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Visit to Santa

Today we went to see Father Christmas. We've been to a few over the years.

We first took Callum when he was about 2 and knowingly too young to understand about Christmas but my reasons at the time were to kind of introduce him to Santa early enough to get used to him in the hope he wouldn't be scared of him later on. It was in our local garden centre in Godalming and was very awkward following Santa's opening line of "well think this visit is more about Mummy and Daddy rather than you" followed by some uncomfortable small talk! 

My least favourite Santa was the following year where we payed £15 for Callum, followed by £5 each for Stuart and I, to go to see him at Loseley House nr Guildford. The actual event was ok, few animals in the yard in a kind of nativity scene, but the visit itself didn't stand out enough for me to remember it but what I do remember is the rubbish present Callum got. It looked like a dog toy, it was a soft toy monkey (I think) rattle squeaky toy thing. Something you would expect for a baby not a 3year old and it barely cost a fiver. It was not representative of where our £20 had gone. I saw other boys walking around with these kind of noise maker toys, the kind you used to get a football matches I think. They spun round and made a racket. Don't get me wrong, what parent would wish for one of them but it certainly would've been more age appropriate for Callum. But bless Callum, he loved that monkey dog toy because Santa gave it to him. Our expense didn't stop there either as we foolishly splashed out for a polystyrene cup of hot chocolate and a mince pie which set us back a small mortgage too. Think the whole disappointing event cost us £30.

Since then, I won't settle for a mediocre Father Christmas, and tend to go on recommendation or previous experience. 

The first year we moved to Bournemouth we were told how great the Father Christmas was at Adventure Wonderland, the nearby low level theme park. The tickets were expensive but we got discounted tickets so couldn't complain. We went with much anticipation and excitement following my mum and sister's glowing reviews and an insistence from my elder sister that it really was the real Santa.

She informed me after the event that it wasn't the same Santa as usual and both my mum and sister agreed it wasn't as good as when they had been before. Again, Callum's present was a bit meh, but my nephew got a good gift. 

(It hits me at this point how materialistic I sound but the bottom line is that I expect to get what we pay for, with a gift that represents the amount we've paid for tickets (or would've paid if we paid full price) and a Santa that looks the part and tries to engage with the kids - we still build it up and follow it through for Callum even if I do consider them substandard, and he has never complained though did look envious of his cousin's marble run that year).

Anyway, the next year we went to a different place I'd heard so much about. Stewarts Garden Centre in Christchurch. This time it didn't disappoint. Father Christmas was great, the elves were lovely and really took the time to speak to Callum at his level, there was a winter wonderland scene while we waited and he got a great present, a helicopter where the propeller rotated when you pulled the string. Perfect for 5 year old Callum. And the reindeer, how could I forget? They had real reindeer!

So thrilled was I to have found a fab Santa's Grotto, I couldn't wait to book it the next year. But every other Dorset parent appeared to have had the same idea and got there before me so we didn't visit Santa that year.

This year I was determined not to miss Santa again so, in the last week of November, I though I would see if the tickets were being advertised. They were and, incredibly, every weekend running up to Christmas and the few days before Christmas were already fully booked. I'd missed out again. Gutted!

Bit all was not lost because a twitter friend told me they had managed to get tickets for their other store 20 minutes away in Broomhill. I held my breath as I looked online. Success! I managed to get the last 2 weekend tickets. 12.30 and 12.45 the next Saturday coming.

Would it be just as good as we had experienced before in the Christchurch store? 

We needn't have questioned it. It was great. The Father Christmas didn't look as perfect but he was very nice and sounded great (though Millie wasn't so sure). The gifts were excellent. They had real reindeer too and the elf was just as lovely.

Below are a few photos from today's visit and also a photo of the photo they took last time we went and one of the lovely elf from that same visit. We didn't purchase the photo this year because Millie was a little unsure and so I was trying a little too hard to get her to feel comfortable (I looked deranged). This post isn't in anyway sponsored and is just a post off my own back but I would definitely recommend either location of Stewart's Garden Centre for next years Santa's Grotto. Just don't book until I've got our tickets!!!

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Thursday, 4 December 2014

Teaching Them to be Children

Confessions time!

Recently, I've been thinking about the naughty habits I've willingly passed on to the kids.

There's this one:


Then there is this :


Blowing bubbles in milkshake. Splashing in puddles. I'm sure there are more. 

Is this bad parenting or am I just teaching them how to be children?

I am usually guilty of trying to grow my children up too quick. I think it is important to teach them to be independent and I've pushed Callum to be so from an early age. Doing things like making his own breakfast from 3 years old. Millie has a good go at making her own at 2 though can't be fully trusted not to pour the whole box of cereal in her bowl and all the milk on the floor. 

So this is just a slight rebellion and,  in my opinion, the important message is teaching them when it is acceptable to do the 'naughty' habits and when it's not. 

I remember a while back children were being banned from Peppa Pig because it taught children to jump in muddy puddles but surely that's a part of childhood and we just need to teach them that the right time to do so is when wearing welly boots and not when anyone else is in the splash zone! 

Admittedly, it presents a bigger parenting challenge but I'm willing to accept that challenge to give my children a few cheeky childhood habits. After all, they'll all too soon be grown up and having to act like responsible adults...until they can regress and teach their own children how to be children. 

So own up, what cheeky childish tricks have you been teaching your children? 

Saturday, 29 November 2014

The Last Regression

Once more I'm staggering round the house,
slurring my words and struggling to remember the day before but this time I can't blame the wine.

Nope! Millie has hit another period of sleep regression. The 2 year sleep regression! And hopefully the last. 

Millie usually wakes about twice a night. 

Now she will settle back again quickly once she is replugged with her dummy but a week ago on the second wake up, which could be anywhere between 5 and 6.30, she would come in to our room and look like she would settle but, instead, she would fidget and clamber all over me then eventually get out of bed trying to pull my hand demanding to go downstairs for breakfast. After a couple of nights of tough love and refusing to bring her into our room she started settling back down in her own room again. 

The constant cough and congestion can't be helping much either though neither of these appear to be the cause of her waking. 

I really hope we are near the end of the phase now otherwise the drunken stumbles will be the result of alcohol and not just the lack of sleep! 

Monday, 24 November 2014

Hear we go again

Since Millie was about 6 months old she has been full of snot! Pleasant, I know, but it's true. If I was to count up all the days when she didn't have a streaming nose since then, I'd say they would amount to about 10 weeks.

You may say "but she is a child and children are snotty" but this is more than what I would consider acceptable for a snotty child. Even Millie's nursery queried it with me and they thought she had hayfever.

Then just as we would be at the point of going to the doctor, she would clear up for a few days. 

In July, on the advice of a health visitor I was working with, I rang my own health visitor. I didn't want to be branded a neurotic mother so was pleased my colleague felt it was worth a phonecall.

So I finally plucked up the courage to call and she wasn't there so someone took a message and she would call me back. But the phonecall never came and again Millie cleared up for a bit so I didn't chase it. She was due her 2 year check so I would wait until then. 

She finally got her 2 year check in the October half term. 

I explained my concerns to the Nursery Nurse, who got to see how snotty and dribbly she was and agreed what she saw and heard was excessive. This combined with the family history and her speech being on the slow side, it was definitely worth her making a referral to get checked out. 

She asked if we had any concerns about her hearing and I explained that I hadn't noticed any signs her hearing was affected but I hadn't noticed it with Callum at first. So the first step would be audiology and then audiology could refer on to ENT (Ears, Nose & Throat) if there were any concerns. 

The appointment for audiology came without too much wait and we went last Wednesday. 

I was intrigued as to how they would guage the level of a 2 year old's hearing as Callum was older (4) so could follow instructions better and play the people in the boat game they set up. 

It was quite clever what they did with Millie.  They played a noise and showed her a cabinet with a light on and inside was an electronic puppet moving. Once she associated the noise with the puppet they tried to keep her attention playing with another health professional and then play the noise at different levels to see if she responded, looking for the puppet. She was a bit of a challenge as she kept looking at the cabinets asking for the puppets to come back rather than play with the lady but we got there and the test showed her hearing was reduced. 

They then had to test whether it was her hearing that was damaged or just the middle ear functions (i.e. glue ear). This was more of a challenge as I had to hold a little probe behind her ear which she wasn't happy with but it was immediately obvious her actual hearing was working fine. 

The final test was the tool they put in the ear to bounce a signal back that tests whether there is fluid behind the ear drum (again signalling glue ear) and we got the flat line as we expected we would, confirming the diagnosis. 

It is common for children to have glue ear and it to clear up on its own so the test needs to be carried out again in 3 months. If still getting the same results, the child is referred on further.

Due to Millie's near constant congestion and speech, they made the referral straight away although she will still need the second check. The clinician felt it was important to get the ball rolling sooner rather than later.

I had read all the info when Callum had his grommets fitted so I know that Millie's ears could still get better and they rarely operate or take any further action until after they are three and usually over 4 so I expect she will still have a wait or maybe they will run more tests. After all, maybe she has allergies, no one has questioned that yet. However, at least we are on the books and she will be treated earlier than Callum. 

Sunday, 23 November 2014

And so I'm back

I'm sorry I've been away so long. I've missed blogging desperately. The break has shown me just how much I rely on blogging to deal with my thoughts and emotions - my mental wellbeing has suffered.

I'm not in a bad place but I'm a little out of sorts.

The reason for my break has been for a couple of reasons. Since starting work over a year ago I've struggled to find the time as, in the evenings, I'm often exhausted and the last thing I want to do is pick up a computer. Then, just as I was about to get back in to my swing again, my laptop died...Along with my phone. Technology and I have had a bit of a falling out. Not good for an IT trainer really, is it?!
But I'm back now and hopefully going to get my blog on again (did I really just say that?).

So, to bring you up to date, Callum is 6 and now in year 1 at school and seems to be getting on really well. Picked up an award this week for 'outstanding independent maths' - he counts constantly!  He goes to football with Stuart on a Saturday mornings and seems to be enjoying it. We have new neighbours down the road which had brought Callum a new best friend who loves riding his bike as much as Callum does and they are always out playing together of a weekend.

Millie is still a mischievous little madam and a stubborn mule to boot! Terrible twos are well and truly upon us. But she is so damn cute! She knows how to play us all. She is a performer and loves dancing. She is definitely going to be on a stage one day. She is the snottiest child I've ever known and we are back on the audiology, adenoids and grommets path with Millie following in callum's footprints but we are getting the ball rolling early this time.

There's so much to tell you about both of them so watch this space for more posts and plenty of cheers, tears & fears!

Friday, 20 June 2014

Camping with Kids Revisited

When Callum was 20 months old, I thought I would surprise Stuart and I took us all camping. In secret, I booked the pitch at a campsite on the Kent-Sussex border, packed the tent and all the gear into the back of the car and instructed Stuart to come home early from work on the Friday of the May Day Bank Holiday and off we went to Romney.

I was so excited.

However, it was pretty much a disaster. We arrived after Callum’s bedtime, it took me an hour to boil pasta for our dinner due to the cold and wind, it rained most of the time, the nights were freezing, Callum refused to sleep between us on the blow up (plus there wasn’t really enough room) and Stuart vowed never to take a child camping again and definitely never to go camping in May!

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I was a little less deterred and chalked it down as a learning experience. That said, I was in less of a hurry to repeat the experience with Millie.

Yet, along came May just after Millie turned 21 months and Stuart and I found ourselves in a camping shop looking at tents and planning a May bank-holiday camping trip!

But this time was going to be different!

We were actually planning the camping trip for a week in August but were keen to purchase this new style of tent which you inflate instead of using poles which means it can be put up in a matter of minutes and by one person. We were also going Super-size! Our memory of our previous camping trip with Callum not entirely forgotten, we figured it’d be a good idea to take the tent for a tester trip for a weekend close to home.

We decided on the, potential to be slightly warmer, Whitsun bank-holiday and we headed less than 30 miles away to a town near Swanage called Langton Matravers. We took the ferry so we could pretend it was like a ‘proper’ holiday in a different country and not just down the road in the same county!

Due to me being out on the Friday night, we also left it until the Saturday morning to go so there were no over-tired and over-excited children waiting for their tea and not going to sleep!

We were still nervous as the weather was ‘iffy’ and this was to be the first time Millie would be sleeping in a ready-bed.

We arrived at the basic but clean Acton Field Campsite. It already looked busy and we struggled to find a pitch big and flat enough for our huge new 8 man tent that was the required 6 meters away from neighbouring tents but we finally settled on somewhere which had an amazing view too.

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The weather was holding (despite the torrential downpour that was flooding our back garden earlier that morning) and after shopping for some supplies I managed to cook a dinner of rice and chicken curry in 30 minutes and just before the rains returned.

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Come bed time, Millie was asleep in record time whereas the excitement for Callum was making him want the wee every 5 minutes, resulting in several trips to the loos in the pouring rain. By this time it was amazing how busy the campsite had got. Our previously dismissed pitches which we had considered too bumpy were now home for campers and tents of all shapes and sizes and many were still arriving or having to leave due to lack of space and tents were being erected in the pouring rain.

It was a very cold night and Callum woke the once then being the first to wake at 6am who woke his sister shortly after as he had to get the wipes from her room (yes she had her own room – they both did!). I hadn’t slept well at all due to the cold and the slope causing me to roll into Stuart until he got fed up and I perched on the edge of the mattress using all my muscles to stay put. Every muscle ached by morning! We didn’t hear a peep from Millie.

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The Sunday was much better weather and we had an enjoyable day at nearby Putlake Adventure Farm.

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That evening, we attempted a bbq with a disposable I had bought ‘just in case’ the previous year but the absence of matches and the old bbq meant that weren’t gonna happen (even after borrowing a lighter from a neighbour) so it was fried burgers and sausages instead and an enjoyable chill out with a glass of vino as the sun went down.

Callum had made a friend with an older girl (check him out!) in a nearby caravan and I was reminded of my own childhood enjoying the freedom and friends that camping and caravanning promoted.

As a nice surprise, friends of ours had also pitched up at the same campsite with their camper van so we enjoyed a tipple or two with them before settling in for our night 2. Millie hadn’t gone to sleep quite so easily that night and when we thought she had gone quiet some time later, discovered she had instead decided to investigate her travel bag and discovered the face softening powers of sudocreme (or she thought Christmas had come early, it is hard to say!)

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Well if you can’t beat them, join them eh?

She did eventually drift off and they both slept to a respectable 7.30am for what was a much warmer night.

Monday meant time for home so we packed up the tent which, after the joys of being a one man job to put up, proved to be a more involved and challenging job to put down and squeeze back into the bag from which it came.

We joined our friends for a pasty and pint over at The Star and Compass in nearby Worth Matravers before making our way back home after, what we considered a much more successful camping trip though still came away with lessons learnt for next time. But confident there would still be a next time…in August!

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Thursday, 5 June 2014

Cat's in the Cradle

I love music, but what I love more than music is the lyrics. The story they tell swallows me up and spits me out either smiling or in tears or sometimes leaves me determined, powerful, ready to make a stand. 

I have an amazing ability to store lyrics in my head. If only I realised when I did my exams that if I'd put my revision in to music I would've remembered the lot! 

I come from a musical family and I have had exposure to a wide range of tastes and flavours which has left me with my own eclectic music taste across many genres and generations. 

Seriously, anything from Neil Diamond, The Carpenters, to Brian Adams, to BonJovi, The Killers, Green Day, Paolo Nutini, Adele, to Trance, Psytrance, Hard House, Techno to....er...Gene Pitney! Yeah! I know but it reminds me of my mum and happy memories. That's what music does, evoke memories.

Then every once in a while, I realise I've been listening to a song, I know I like it and I've more than likely (anyone who knows me knows what I'm like) sung along but haven't actually 'listened' to the words. 

Well, this has been a long intro to say today I did just that. The song was 'Cats in the Cradle' by many artists, the original being Harry Chapin.

If you haven't heard it, first, make sure you go and listen now, and if you need persuading, this is what it is about.

A man has a baby but is so caught up with being busy with life and work he misses his son growing up. Not stopping to spend time and play with his son but his son doesn't mind or know any different and idolises his dad wanting to be like his dad when he grows up. Then, before the man knows it, his son has grown up and gone to college and has no time for his dad because he has his own life then when the dad has time and wants to spend it with his son, his son is too busy with his own family and own life. Life has come full circle and indeed the boy who wanted to grow up to be just like his dad has done just that.

This song really touched me today. 

How many times have the parents amongst us dismissed their child who wants to play this, read that, do whatever, just wants to spend time with us and yet we are too busy doing probably something that is nowhere near as important as we think it is at the time. All we do is complain about time going so fast and before we know it our little ones will be grown up and moving away and gone. 

My own Dad and I recently shared a conversation about what I do for a job. He said it was the first time he had had a proper conversation with me about what I actually do for a living and finally an opportunity to get to know me. I'm 34 and my Dad feels he has only just stopped to have that conversation. 

"I'm gonna be like him, yeah, You know I'm gonna be like him"

Friday, 4 April 2014

Key Worker Translator

I love going into nursery to pick up Millie and listening to her key worker and other nursery staff tell me what a great day my daughter has had…who doesn’t love to hear good things about their kids, especially when I miss so much of her day. Then recently I realised that maybe their smile was a little bit pinched at the corners, and the teeth a little bit gritted and maybe they weren’t being entirely truthful – well not all the time.

So I’ve thought a bit more about what they are telling me and remembering back to when Callum was at nursery and think possibly nursery workers are clever at disguising what they really mean. But I think I’ve worked out their translation! Below are things I have heard nursery workers say about Millie, Callum and other children too and I’ve translated what I think they are really saying.

“She knows what she wants, doesn’t she?”
She is stubborn, bossy and spoilt

“Does she play rough with Callum?”
She is the nursery bully

“She is such a little character”
She is a little madam

“His teddy has been well loved”
It’s so filthy it must be harbouring all sort of undiscovered life

“S/He likes his food and eats everything we give him”
We only give them small portions so we can tell you that and so they go home and eat your food instead of ours

“He got a bit over-excited at play time”
He purposefully pushed her over

“He loves sitting on the double bike while Little Jonny loves to peddle him round the garden”
He is lazy and Little Jonny is a mug

3.30pm on a Friday: “she’s not herself and has a temperature”
It’s Friday and I want to go home early to crack open the wine

“You’re early today”
You’re early for once

“I was just about to change her nappy, would you like to do it?”
You’re her mummy, you should do it…plus it’s a stinky one!

What do they say at your child’s nursery or childcare centre?

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

M is for Millie…and Mischief

Maybe as time has past, my memory has blurred. We do tend to pick out the bits we like or are more eventful in life. However, how I remember Callum is that he rarely had the aspiration to get up to too much mischief.

We had a cat yet only twice did he show an interest with playing sandcastles with the cat litter and never showed any desire to eat cat food or squidge it between his fingers. If we nipped to the loo, we could leave him playing safe in the knowledge he would highly likely be exactly where we left him when we returned. There was a period where he found it much fun to pull out all the CDs in the CD rack about 100 times a day but I do not recall any other relentless mischief!

Then along came Millie!

Don’t be fooled by that butter wouldn’t melt cheeky smile!

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Yeah that one!

From before she could move we could tell that knowing look in her eye that as soon as she would learn to crawl she would be into EVERYTHING! And she was, except she became a bottom shuffler rather than a crawler. It was a wonder it took her so long to bottom shuffle with her insatiable curiosity!

Callum quite quickly grew out of the insistent throwing of food on the floor but no, Millie still finds it fascinating to see the reaction (even when I’m determined not to give her one) of throwing food, cutlery, plastic bowls, not so plastic bowls…oooh look, they don’t bounce!

Also, I never knew how fascinating it could be to see what happens when you tip bottles and cups upside down. You may not quite notice the first time, or the second, or even the third, fourth or fifth for that matter. In fact, maybe you should try it fifty times and you get an even better reaction if you pour it over your Daddy’s head.

It’s so lovely that she likes to draw and colour so much. Callum was never interested in colouring really, only getting into it in the last year. She has mastered the tripod grip on a pencil, I was so proud…until she decided to decorate the carpet, the toilet seat, the bedside table, the dressing table stool, the door…need I go on! And the continuous temptation of Callum’s felt tip pens is too great – queue big tantrums dare we deny her!

The latest game is seeing what happens when the dry cat food is thrown into the water bowl!

And the most infuriating thing is, you just can’t be cross! We’ve tried! Many a time! But she just looks and laughs and pulls the most adorable faces and your eyebrows start to quiver, your cheek twitches then before you know it you are hiding a giggle behind your hand!

She is relentless, exhausting, infuriating, but goddamn bloody cute and adorable too! Rah!

Monday, 24 February 2014

Half Term Adventures: Friday

Day Five and Callum and my last day of the half term holidays together and we had been invited for a Play Date. A perfect way to finish off our week. I always feel guilty that Callum doesn’t see more of his friends in his spare time and since starting work, there has been less time for play dates. It was going to be great for Callum to let off some energy with a friends! I’d actually hoped to see more of his friends over half term (and maybe mine too) but a week just isn’t enough!

Edward is a friend from Callum’s old nursery from before he started school. I hit it off quite quickly with his mum at kiddy birthday parties and then when we randomly bumped into each other in Asda (for some reason I seem to bump into everyone I know in Asda! Things have changed!) where we had another good natter. Unfortunately, Callum had to miss Edward’s birthday party because he was poorly so I had previously invited them over for a playdate at our house so Callum could give Edward his present. So this was to be our second playdate and George (Edward’s Mummy) had suggested Moors Valley Country Park and Forest.

If ever you are visiting down this way or if you live here and haven’t yet ventured, do check out this place it is great! The parking is a little pricey but George and Edward have the yearly parking permit (which is well worth getting). There are countless forest walks and activities to do on the walks, two great parks (one of them on sand), a lake and picnic area, a ride on train, fun activities in the school holidays, cycle hire, Go Ape for older/big kids, a cafe…the list goes on. I previously blogged about going there when they had the Gruffalo trail (it was The Stick Man this winter but I think it is about to finish this week). If going in school holidays I’d recommend going early as it gets busy quick!

George had kindly offered to drive us all so we took one car and because they had the yearly parking (it is done on number plate recognition – pretty cool!) so Callum and I walked to their house shortly after dropping Millie at nursery to get there for 9.30am where an eager Edward was already waiting in the car, excited to get on his way.

When we arrived, the car park was already pretty full and the park buzzing with activity. We headed to the parks first of all where they both heart-stoppingly showed us how well they could climb to the top of the Witches Hat! We then headed over to the little steam train station to buy our tickets for a ride on the train and we warmed up a little with some hot chocolate. After the train ride, it was back to the park for a bit before time for lunch!  By now it was time for lunch so we headed over to the cafe. After lunch we had a peak in the barn where they had some half term activities – face painting (which we didn’t do), a nature table full of animal skulls, hides, nests and other such stuff, colouring in table and a nature video. Following that, we went on a walk through the forest including the Tree Top Trail and a few of the wooden apparatus they have dotted around (as part of the Play Trail – we didn’t do it all, just the activities on the route we walked).

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After all the rain we have had recently, we were prepared with wet weather gear and wellies and the boys, Edward especially, loved jumping in the muddy puddles and exploring the woody areas. Callum managed to fall splat in a number of muddy areas in true Callum style!

Edward was keen for Callum to see his bedroom so after our walk we thought it was a good time to head back to George and Edward’s house for a cup of tea while the boys played some more with Edward’s toys. Of course, Superhero dressing up was the favoured activity!

It was a lovely day – the boys got on really well and I felt like I had some mummy time getting to chat to George too. She is so easy to talk to! Will look forward to the next playdate!

Half Term Adventures: Thursday

Sorry, time ran away with me toward the end of half term there and I didn’t find the time to blog. So where was I? Thursday? Oh yes, Thursday! We made fossils!

In light of Callum’s homework…sorry home learning we are supposed to call it aren’t we?…anyway, in light of what he had been asked to do by the school over half term, create something on the theme of dinosaurs, and with minds full of the exciting things seen at the museum the day before, I we decided to make fossils! Actually, the fantastic idea came from a Twitter friend @Kellit1085. She suggested we make some salt dough and use Callum’s toy dinosaurs pushed into the dough to make the fossils.

I’d forgotten about Callum’s dinosaurs and, what was better, part of his collection included a skeleton dinosaur as his set was part of a archaeology themed set. Perfect! With that, we also visited our shell collections (Callum has his chosen shells and stones and then I have my own special collection haha) to look for ones that would make good fossil like impressions.

Check me out! Twice in one week I’m crafting with my child in a stress free manner – not to mention the baking also achieved! I’m going to need a holiday after this half term!

Of course the fun starts at the dough making stage, getting fingers all sticky and then beating up needing the dough. Following a tip from this site I’d found on the internet, we also added food colouring to make the dough a browny colour.

Once smooth, I broke off a piece and shaped it and Callum (with maybe a little guidance from me) pushed one of his smaller dinosaurs and the skeleton dinosaur into the dough. Then we tested out all the shells too. I classed this first one as our Callum’s practice fossil. The remaining dough I split in 2 and tried very hard to let Callum do what he liked with one of the pieces while I possessively made my own fossil impressions in the other piece.

When we were happy with our creations, I baked them in the oven for about 1.5 hours at 200 degrees (hotter than I’d usually bake salt dough for but the advice in the above site was a higher temp and I figured it might add to the authentic brown look) then I left them in the oven for another hour while the oven cooled.

Here are our finished fossil creations:

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Callum has taken them into school today. I’m so excited about them, I wish I was there to see how they are received.