Saturday, 28 March 2015

Happy holidays

Here we are, on the first morning of the school holidays. I'm up early with the baby, Daddy is away overnight and my elder daughter is sleeping, like a starfish, in my bed.

Even though the last half term has been short (just 5 weeks), we are all ready for a break. There are two weeks of no school stretching ahead of us and Daddy will be taking the whole holiday off work!

I admit that I build up high hopes for the school holidays. I romanticise the notion of long, lazy mornings snuggled up, four in a bed. I make lots of plans for activities that we can do together. I expect us to have lots of fun and laughter.

In general, we do but, because we are a 'normal' family, we also have tears, tantrums and fallings out. We get bored. Sometimes, no-one wants to do the *brilliant* activities I have planned.

So, what are our intentions for the Easter break?

Well, we have written a holiday wish list. (We did this at Christmas and it worked quite well.) The idea is simply that you write down some things that you'd like to do and you aim to tick off one per day. They don't (and shouldn't) have to be expensive activities or day trips but they at least provide some structure for the breakfast-time 'what are we doing today?' conversation.

This is our list:

  • draw the whole story of "Frozen" (an ambitious art project, I'll admit: NOT my idea!)
  • run down a sand dune (we saw an episode of Nina and the Neurons about sand dunes)
  • visit an art gallery (next term, my daughter's class will be learning about art appreciation)
  • go to some cafes 
  • do an Easter Egg hunt
  • write a story for the school creative writing competition
  • visit all the Grandmas and Grandads
  • visit Sherwood Forest (Robin Hood's Major Oak tree is not far from Grandma's house)
We may yet add a few more things to our list. Possibly a trip to the library; perhaps a playdate with some friends? 

I wonder how far down our list we'll get?

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

You've come a long way, baby

You are seven months old, now. Still my baby but less babyish day by day. How long ago it seems that you were my newborn girl.

Now, you can sit up and remain steady. You have just started rolling (although never when I'm there to watch!) and you are developing your sense of humour. You're ticklish, especially on your feet and under your chin. You have beautiful eyes and a smile for everyone.

You no longer just cry to get my attention. When you're hungry, you blow raspberries at me and wave your arms and legs around. If I do the 'milk' sign, you burst into a smile and get even more excited! You recognise that, when I pick up the half-moon cushion, it's time for a feed.

You've started weaning and you enjoy exploring food. The tastes, textures and smells fascinate you. You prefer it when Daddy helps you with your meals, perhaps because you still associate me with milk.

You adore your big sister. You love watching her when she runs around and plays. She brings you toys, picks up things that you drop and likes to give you big cuddles. You enjoy playing in the bath together each evening before bed.

You are becoming your own person and establishing your place in our family.

We love you so much.


Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Bridging the gap

My baby girl is 29 weeks old.

I still have abdominal divarication.

The physiotherapist thinks that, overall, my muscle tone has improved. However, the divariacation between my rectus abdominis is between 3cm and 5cm and my linea alba is flaccid. Making progress will take time: possibly another year, maybe more.

I have been given a set of exercises and a fitness plan. Every day, I have to pull up my pelvic floor, stand on one leg, raise my arms above my head and, for 100 repetitions, throw a ball against a wall and catch it. I also have to do the pelvic floor, standing on one leg thing and raise my arms above my head each time I boil the kettle to make a cup of tea! I am to go swimming for 30 minutes each week, whilst my elder daughter attends her swimming lesson, and I may take up Pilates.

I have to return to see the physiotherapist in three month's time to see how things have improved.

The physiotherapist asked me if I would consider surgery. I misunderstood and thought she meant to repair the damage; she actually meant for cosmetic purposes (as the skin across my tummy is quite saggy and wrinkled). I'm not bothered about the appearance of my mum-tum (after all, it's only me and my husband who ever see it) but I am determined to regain muscle tone and function. The physio believes I can do this through exercise, so that's what I'll do - even if it takes a year, or longer...

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Mothering Sunday

Tomorrow is Mothers' Day.

Traditionally, I tell my mum that she doesn't need to receive a card from me on a particular day to know that I love and appreciate her. I don't normally send a card. This year, I sent a card and flowers.

I also sent flowers and a card to my mother-in-law and flowers to my husband's step-mum.

My children are lucky to have three grandmas. Three grandmas who love them and think the world of them. Three grandmas who spoil them when they see them (which is not often enough because we live so far apart). Three grandmas who make them cakes and buy them books and nice clothes and toys.

Three grandmas who have helped me so much in my journey into motherhood: they babysit so that I can spend time alone with my husband on a rare and much-needed night out; they come to stay to help me look after my girls when my husband travels overseas. Three grandmas who came without question or second thought to help in the crisis of losing their grandson.

There is no 'right' time to tell them how grateful I feel; how lucky I am to have a mother and two mothers-in-law who I can turn to for help and advice. So, I have chosen this Mothers' Day to send them each a small token of my appreciation.

My Mothering Sunday will be like a normal Sunday. Just me, my husband, the girls and thoughts of Monty. A lie-in, breakfast in bed (a mug of Old Sod's and a bacon sarnie, please!) and hugs and kisses from my family will make my day special... and perhaps a nice walk, if the weather is good.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Epic make fail!

This week, the elder daughter and I attempted some home craft - with disastrous consequences!

Inspired by an article in a magazine, we set out to make Easter egg piñatas. The instructions seemed simple enough and we had all the materials in the craft and cookery cupboards. All we had to do was:

(1) inflate a balloon and cover it in 3 layers of papier mache, leaving a hole at the top
(2) pop the balloon and paint the papier mache shell
(3) decorate the painted shell and fill it with sweets/treats/confetti
(4) make two small holes near the opening and thread ribbon through, then seal the hole
(5) hang the piñata in the garden or playroom, bash with sticks and enjoy the bounty

We got more than a little messy doing the first layer of papier mache and things looked okay as I left it to dry. However, by the next morning, the balloon had started to deflate and the shape of the 'egg' was a bit wonky. Undeterred, we applied a second layer of paper. Overnight, the balloon deflated even more and any hopes we might have had for acquiring an egg shape were gone.

We attempted to salvage the project by skipping to stage 2 of the instructions. Two coats of white paint later, we can still see newspaper print. My daughter has lost all interest in the project and I'm about ready to throw the towel in!

I will stick to cake making and biscuit decorating in future...

Friday, 6 March 2015


We've been offline for a fortnight. Not through choice but by accident - our internet/phone cable was damaged and had to be replaced. Losing the landline wasn't much of a problem but I hadn't realised just how much I use the internet in my every day life. Only a few days earlier, I had joked to my husband that we could try a 30-day challenge to get by without it. How we'd laughed at the thought...!

20 years ago, when I was doing my 'A' levels, I had no need for a computer and the internet didn't exist. I learned to touch-type and wrote up my homework using a typewriter. (I can still touch-type but I'm quite lazy about it now!) My mum generously bought me an electric typewriter to take to university but I never used it because, in Freshers' Week, I was given a swipe card for the 24-hour library on campus, where there were three floors of computers, and an email address. Within 12 months, I had bought my own PC.

Fast-track to today and I can't live without my laptop and iPhone! I take it for granted that I can look up information about anything from wherever I am and get an answer within seconds; and that I am always connected to friends and family. My husband gave me an iPad, when our elder daughter was a few months old. It was an anniversary present and one of the best gifts ever! I felt lonely at home with a young baby whilst he was at work all day and the iPad helped me to feel part of the world. I used Facebook to arrange meet-ups with the mums from my antenatal group; nearly five years later, I still do. I use the internet every day to learn, communicate and relax.

Two weeks without internet felt very strange. It took me back to a quieter, simpler time but not one that I miss. Its absence didn't give me the chance to focus on my knitting or song-learning but rather hindered my progress, since I couldn't download information I needed or check progress with others.

The first thing I did when the wi-fi signal came back on was grab the laptop, check all my social media and crack on with some online shopping (the weekly Tesco order)! I'm very glad to be back in the 21st century!