29 Feb 2016

My February 2016

February has been another quiet month here on this blog; once again because the rest of my life has been anything but. I've been super busy at work, with lots of travel, and super tied up at home, so this month has just whizzed passed like that. I've enjoyed putting together the above collage though and looking back at a few of my highlights: 

1. Becky's first proper hair cut. In a proper salon. She loved the shabby chic interior and kept saying: "Mummy, this place is very fancy, isn't it?" It made me (and the other customers) chuckle. 

2. Celebrating John's birthday with a nice meal out and some quality family time. 

3. Visiting a clown's circus during half term with a couple of Becky's friends. We had popcorn, candyfloss and lots of giggles.

4. More half term fun out in the woods. Becky wasn't keen at first - such a city child! - but once we started building dens, she got stuck in and embraced the great outdoors. It was a glorious winter morning! 

5. Our first Valentine's card courtesy of Alex. John and I don't really celebrate Valentine's Day, we think it's a load of old rubbish (*shoot me!*), but getting his card that he made at nursery was the best kind of gift and we got - a little bit - into the spirit of the day. 

6. It was key season for us at work, involving lots of travel to lots of trade shows. It's exhausting and exhilarating in equal measure, and I get to meet lots of interesting people, which is always a bonus. 

7. Getting creative with Becky. We spent a rainy Sunday afternoon, while Alex was napping, making mosaic princess pictures. Becky was so patient and dexterous at it, and I found it strangely therapeutic and calming, too - totally out of character for this usually impatient Mumma. The effect your kids have on you, ey? 

8. Spending some one-on-one time with Becky - we've tried to use Alex's nap times to do fun things together. I often find it tricky juggling Becky's and Alex's needs and interests at the same time, so when he naps it's the perfect opportunity for us to have some exclusive Mummy and daughter time. 

9. Alex contracting a nasty case of tonsillitis and chest infection and ending up being taken to A&E in an ambulance with suspected pneumonia. It gave us such a fright, as he's never been so ill before. But luckily, it didn't end up being worst case scenario, and he is now on the mend. Phew! 

28 Feb 2016

When your kid is ill

Alex has been ill this week; not just a little bit ill, but ill enough to be taken to children’s A&E by ambulance on Friday, and it’s given me an almighty fright. Because when your kid is ill, you realise just how small and vulnerable your little ones are, just how precious their health is, how quickly things can deteriorate, and how much they need you. We’re slowly coming out the other end of this illness stricken seven days or so, but it’s been one heck of a week.

It started last Monday, when I got a phone call from John, informing me that nursery had called to pick up Alex early, as he had come down with a high temperature and was just not being himself. I was away on an overnight trip with work, and I can’t say that it came as a surprise. Firstly, because it’s Sod’s law, and just my luck again that Alex would fall ill the exact time I had to be away with work and it’s the worst possible timing, but also because only a couple of days earlier, on the Thursday, I had already taken him to the doctors surgery to be checked out, as I was worried about his increasingly nasty sounding cough. I was told at the time that it was viral, and that we had to ride it out (seemingly the standard answer for everything).

I was unable to get home until the next day, but John was sending me regular updates, and I knew that the kids were in good hands with their Daddy. Still, I worried, as not being there when your child is ill and needs you, is a horrible feeling. Oh the guilt you feel as a Mummy!

The next morning John told me that Alex had had a terrible night, changing between being agitated and whiny to just floppy and lethargic, and his temperature had hardly gone down, despite doses of Calpol and Ibuprofen. I finished what I had to do at work and set off for home early, craving to be with my son.

When I arrived home, he immediately crawled into my arms and cradled himself into me, and pretty much stayed like that for the rest of the day. John said that he had been the same with him all day, and that he had just been drifting off to sleep on and off, with a continuous high temperature.
The next morning I took him back to our GP, who acknowledged how ill he looked – by that point he was mostly floppy and lethargic, with pale skin and sunken eyes though bright red cheeks from the temperature  – and diagnosed with a bad case of tonsillitis. We were sent on our way with Penicillin, and assured that once this kicked in, he would feel much better.

Over the next couple of days Alex continued to sleep a lot and alternate between lying on me, snuggling into me, or just clinging onto me. His temperature continued to be high, hardly ever dropping below 38 degrees and staying mostly above 39 degrees, peaking at 40.2.

Just wanted to cuddle and sleep. 

By Friday morning, after another rough night, he was boiling up and was completely floppy and dispondent. He hadn’t eaten any solids since the Monday, and it was hard work getting any fluids or even Calpol into him, so I rang the surgery and asked to be seen by another GP again, especially as by then he had already been on the Penicillin for two days with no signs of improvement.

We got called in an hour later, and the doctor seemed immediately quite concerned as his heart rate was above the norm and his oxygen levels were low with laboured breathing. She said that she’d like him to be checked out by the children’s hospital, as she thought she could hear some noise on the right side of his lung. I agreed that we would take him down asap, but she said that she would actually call an ambulance straight away, as she suspected he had pneumonia.

Now, I don’t know what I had expected from the GP visit, some different medication maybe, or reassurance that it wasn’t as bad as it looked, but certainly not being rushed to children’s A&E in an ambulance!

The ambulance arrived within ten minutes or so, and I had to lie down on the stretcher with Alex on top of me (who was just drifting in and out of sleep and was pretty unresponsive to all the commotion).

I’m not going to lie, at this moment I was scared. Really scared. Because my little Alex was so vulnerable. He seemed so small and fragile. Because there was nothing I could do to make it better for him, and I would have done anything! And because I didn’t know what would happen once we got to the hospital. And because I had never been in an ambulance before, and the whole sterility of the place, the cables and medical apparatuses were really frightening (though the three paramedics who came to deal with us were absolutely lovely and very calming).

John arrived a few minutes later, having followed us in the car, and then we waited to be seen by the team there and examined. After five hours in A&E and various tests, we were told that it wasn’t pneumonia after all – thank God! – but “just” an infection with a very severe case of tonsillitis (apparently his tonsils were huge and red raw), both of which fused and made Alex so ill. We were given some additional medication to administer and allowed home.

With Daddy in Children's A&E. 

It was such a relief to know that he would be ok and that we didn’t have to stay in hospital.
We’ve continued to give him lots of rest, lots of fluids, and lots of cuddles, and since yesterday afternoon we have managed to get a handle on the temperature and he’s starting to make a recovery. He still looks weak and his cough is still bad, but hopefully we’re over the worst.

It’s been a funny old thing being needed so much. It makes me worry about my kids, but also worry about myself, because I’ve realised just how much they need me. And I’ve realised that I need to look after myself, too, because I have to be there for them, no matter what.

And as much as I wish Alex hadn’t been this ill this week, it’s also brought us even closer. He wasn’t only snuggling into me and sleeping on me, but during those moments when he felt a little better, he also kept hugging me and giving me kisses, almost as if to say “thanks for looking after me, Mummy”. And that was just so lovely and so precious. I’ve been so overwhelmed with my love for him, and the thought that something could ever happen to him, or Becky, really terrifies me more than ever.

But that’s motherhood - overwhelming love, mixed with overwhelming fear. Because suddenly, you have so much more to lose than ever before.


15 Feb 2016

Siblings February 2016

I'm really struggling to take decent shots of both my monkeys together where both of them are in focus and sit still - usually one of them is looking away or trying to get away etc., so once again, this month I have resorted to snaps that I have taken in the moment. And I'm actually beginning to like it this way, because it really captures their relationship and how besotted they are with each other.

These snaps were taken on Saturday morning, when I briefly placed Alex back into his cot, because I had some chore or other to get on with, and - lacking the space for a play pen - his cot is usually a safe place to leave him for five. But Becky came up and asked to be put in there, too, so she could play with Alex, so I obliged, and lots of play fighting and giggling and chasing around ensued. I should have recorded a video, really, because they were two big rascals having lots of fun.

Honestly, I know I say it every month, but nothing gives me more joy than seeing Becky and Alex playing with each other and adoring each other.

I know this shot is rather blurry (I really do need to improve my photography - that's still on my ever ending to do list!), but it's such a genuine moment of affection and fun, that it's actually one of my faves. 


14 Feb 2016

Alex, 18 months

Alex is 18 months now, and what a little dude he is! He is definitely a proper, full-on toddler now, and quite literally, every day his rapid development is palpable. I really wish time slowed down a little. He’s growing up way too fast!

The main change this month has been in his emotional development; he is so affectionate and cuddly! He loves giving kisses and properly puckers up before plunging a big sloppy kiss onto everyone and anyone’s lips; whether that’s me, John, Becky, Nanny, Granchy, the girls at nursery or even his little friends - he loves giving kisses.

Every night at nursery, when we are saying our Goodbyes, he toddles round everyone who is still there and gives them all a sloppy kiss, including his little mates, and it’s honestly the cutest thing I have ever seen, when two little people share a tender kiss. It’s heart-warming, endearing and hilarious all at the same time. He loves cuddles generally, and will quite frequently and randomly come up to me and wants to be picked up for a big bear hug. Of course I’m not complaining! I’m lapping it up while I can, and before he grows embarrassed of his old Mum, which will happen all too soon at this rate!

He is still quite naughty, or rather mischievous, but I think he is developing a sense for right and wrong, and what he is allowed to and not, as well as what he can get away with – and not (the naughty step is definitely helping with this, lol).

He still wants to just bash and pull things, and his toys are still less interesting than sockets, cables, ovens, cutlery etc., so it’s still full-on watching him like hawks.

He is desperate to talk, you can really tell, and he get frustrated that he can’t say what he wants to say – though his repertoire of sounds and noises is pretty vast and entertaining in itself. If he really wants something, he’ll pull you along and drag you to whatever it is, and then point, until he gets it; e.g. when he’s hungry, he points to the fridge and then makes a hand gesture to his mouth, so it’s unmistakable what he’s after (a lot of the time it’s Babybels – he’s strangely addicted), and even at this age and without the words he is a good communicator and knows how to get his will (most of the time, anyway).

He is so speedy now, and runs everywhere, especially when he’s running away from us. We recently had to buy him his second pair of shoes from Clarks, as he had outgrown his first pair after just a few weeks. I remember Becky having her first shoes for ages, so there is a definite difference in their physical developments. Becky has always been petite, whereas Alex will be quite tall and strong, judging by how fast he is growing.

He still loves his bottle of milk and snuggling with me on the sofa first thing in the morning and last thing at night after he’s had his bottle – I’m starting to think about weaning him off it, but he loves it so much, he goes crazy when he doesn’t get his bottle, and I love the quiet moment when he’s having it, all nestled in my lap and all cuddly after a bath – so I guess while this still works for us, I’ll give it a bit longer. And milk is not a bad thing, after all.

He also looks more and more like Becky. I have been making more of an effort to take some pictures of the two of them lately and to try to capture their blossoming relationship more than just once a month in the #Siblings project, and the resemblance between them is so obvious. Friends of ours even call Alex “Mini Becky”, because he looks so like her.  I think that’s lovely, actually – that way they have even more in common than just sharing a gene pool. 

I think that’s everything for this month. Like I said, it’s all going way too fast for my liking, and while every month brings with it a new and exciting stage, I also mourn the loss of my baby with every month he grows up. I’m becoming all too aware of how fast time is passing, how precious these early years are, and I’m trying to soak it all up consciously and ingrain in my mind, so when we’re old and grey, we can think back to these wonderful years. Because even though they are also very hard, I know I will miss them when they are over. 

11 Feb 2016

Into the woods

It was my second day off today for half term, and Becky and I, Becky's friend and her Mum (who is also my friend) decided to venture out into nearby woodlands. The weather was glorious, albeit very cold and frosty, but in many ways perfect for a muddy walk.

The girls decided to build a den out of branches - a lot of thinking about strategy was obviously involved!

                 It's hard work carrying heavy and wet branches!

We even discovered the first blooms. Spring is definitely in the air!

Aw! Friendship is magic indeed. 

10 Feb 2016

Barbie Girl

I know I’m a bit late to the party, as a lot has already been written about Mattel’s recent introduction of three new body types and a variety of skin shades for Barbie. But still, I wanted to add my two penny’s worth to the debate, as this is actually a subject close to my heart.

Like many mothers, I’ve had an ambiguous attitude towards Becky playing with Barbies. The little girl in me, who remembers the joy Barbies brought to her own childhood and the hours spent dressing, undressing, combing and grooming my Barbies, wants Becky to have the same; to just enjoy the dolls for what they are - just dolls - and have fun with them.

But the grown-up, the mother, the feminist in me, has always shuddered a little at everything that Barbie represents – the “perfect”, unachievable body, the blond cliché, the slightly dull and overly pink Barbie world, and a lifestyle that is far from desirable and just too one dimensional in my book.

Suffice to say that Barbie has never been my choice role model for Becky.

It’s the fake body ideal in particular that Barbie projects which has always been the main crux of the problem for me. As someone who has struggled with body image all my life, from early teens or even prior, I worry about what it teaches my daughter. What she will grow up to believe is “normal”. I dread to think that Becky’s body image and sense of self could be influenced by this tiny-waisted and big-boobed blond creature that has so little resemblance to real life women.

So I for one am actually really glad that Mattel has taken this – long overdue – step and launched a tall, petite and curvy Barbie, as well as skin shades that represent a bigger ethnic diversity. I know that the majority of news coverage on this topic has been rather cynical, insinuating that Mattel has only done this as a desperate and final step to help safe its declining sales; a last ditch attempt to be seen as being in touch with its ever shrinking audience, the “Millennial Mum”.

This may well be the case. In fact, I tend to agree with this. However, whether it was an actual sense of responsibility or plain corporate greed that has fueled the decision, it doesn’t change the end result and the fact that this is a welcome evolution of a somewhat iconic toy which has been every little girls’ favourite for generations – and therefore Mattel has a duty to be “more in touch”. To represent diversity, and not just an outdated, superficial female stereotype.

It might be a small step, and Barbie certainly still has way to go before everything she represents has any bearing on reality, but it’s a start.  

* Linking up with #ShareWithMe

7 Feb 2016

5 Feb 2016

School holiday struggles

Next week is half term, can you believe it! The kids have only just gone back to school after the Christmas break, and already they have another term holiday. *Sigh*.

As parents who work full time, this is a pretty tricky time for us. Because what do you do? How do you juggle your job and look after the kid(s)?

Like most people, John and I only have 25 days holidays a year, so we can't take holidays every time there is a term break, or we’d be out of days within the first few weeks of the year. And that’s no good because firstly) we still want to have the chance to actually go on holiday some time and secondly) there are always random days that you need to take off for something or other, so I have to be sensible about when to take them, and for what reason.

Last year, for the autumn break, I still had a week’s holiday left, as I had been kind of saving it for Becky’s first half term, and for the Christmas break we all had automatically some time off, so that wasn’t too bad. But now? It’s only early February and I am already having to eat into my holiday allowance just to be there and look after Becky because school is off.

I don’t even begrudge her being off – she is a small child, after all, and maybe she does need the break (though she actually loves school and doesn’t seem to struggle neither with fatigue, nor attention span nor enthusiasm, so I’m sure she could have kept going for a bit longer!).

But, as a fairly freshly baked school mum, this is a tricky and new situation for me. We didn’t have that problem with nursery, as that’s open year-round (which is actually one of the main reasons we decided to go for a nursery setting for the kids rather than a childminder or nanny or anything).

Once again it sucks big time that we don’t have any family nearby who could help out, and it’s just me and John who have to try and make things work. Luckily, we are not entirely on our own – a couple of Becky’s friends’ parents are also in the same position as us – working full time and no other support around – so we have pooled together and are helping each other out.

I have taken two days off next week, John one and Becky’s friend’s parents a couple of days, too, so between us we will look after each other’s kiddies and try to make the best out of this situation.
That’s literally the only way. I’m already dreading the big summer holiday, as I really don’t know what we’ll do then. I might have to ask my parents over for a bit, and we will most likely have to look into a holiday club option, too. Which makes me a bit sad – I so want to be there for Becky and spend lots of quality time together and have fun, but it’s just not possible all the time. Not for all the school holidays anyway.

But I’ll cross that summer holiday bridge nearer the time, and until then, take every term holiday as it comes and make the best of it. Becky and I have already been hedging a few plans for next week, and in all honesty, it might actually be a nice break for me, too, even if it’s just a couple of days here or there.


2 Feb 2016

My January 2016

So the first month of the year is already ticked off and we’re two days into February. As far as January is concerned, it has been a bit of a write-off in terms of blogging and I just had to admit defeat and accept that writing regular posts just wasn’t going to happen for a little while.

Work has been very busy, with January and February our most intense period of the year, and life has also been full-on, with lots of things to juggle and deal with, so there were simply not enough hours in the day to write / blog, or I was just too exhausted after working long hours and dealing with the kids, chores etc.

The crappy weather and short days have also played their part – I’ve realised that I’ve hardly taken any pictures this month, which is why I struggled to even find a couple for this post. The above images were taken spontaneously during an outing to the local adventure playground at the weekend. Alex and Becky enjoyed running / scooting around, and we always make a point of visiting the swans and duckies in the adjacent pond. And we even discovered the first few blooms! Roll on spring, I say, and some more sunshine, which will hopefully give us our mojo and sense of adventure back.

So whilst there isn’t that much to talk about for January, I’m now hoping to get back into the swing of things, and normal routine shall resume – which means, that I will hopefully manage to blog more regularly again. I’ve got plenty of things that I’ve been wanting to share but hadn’t gotten round to, so watch this space… 
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