Monday, 31 January 2011

Yummy Curry.

We have had a busy weekend, well we always have a busy weekend but we have been out as well. On the Saturday afternoon we took Mooms out to the park and got a chance to test drive Freya's beautiful birthday coat- thanks aunty Becky., before heading off. It was Nic's birthday this weekend so we joined them and Becky and James for a take away on Saturday night.

The kids all sat down to tea at five. I think this ended up being really stressful for Nic, as Elodie wasn't eating all that well and they were locked in a power struggle. When all the hullabaloo died down and no one was paying attention she sneaked back, sat on James' knee and ate a yoghurt- illustrating the fact that the harder you push the more toddlers dig their heels in.

Once the kids were down, after a long queue for the bath, we sat down for a well deserved drink. The boys went off to get the curry in James's new fancy Renault Megane. When we had arrived, I didn't recognise the car but looking at the fog lights and serious alloys, I guessed that it was theirs. They are even going away to a hotel in Wales near the road where they test drive cars for 'Top Gear'.

It was really nice to catch up with the girls and the cava was sinking rather nicely. We exchanged pressies, this is what we got Nic.

The curry was delicious, I got a chicken dansak with boiled rice as that is allowed on Slimming World- damage limitation. Craig had a curry that tasted like Worcestershire sauce crisps while Becky's tasted and smelled like coconut face cream but the food didn't spoil the evening.

Next morning we had miscalculated the amount of formula we needed so Nic kindly went to the local shop to get Edie some milk to enable us to have a lazy morning full of bacon sandwhiches and coffee. Nic and I vowed to help each other out with babysitting in the future as Nic and Nick seem frazzled at the moment and could probably do with a good break.

I am really excited my milk has nearly all gone and I have been looking at lingerie online, will have to get some for Valentine's day!

Thursday, 27 January 2011

And then there were three.

It's Thursday, so Freya has left us to go to nursery, not without event I might add. She had a little paddy about not being able to have Pan. Craig is keen that she is not too dependent on Pan which I heartily agree with but I wanted some reassurance that we are doing the right thing.

I have had a look at some websites to see the advice regarding 'comforters'. It appears that it is healthy and necessary up to the age of two because the child is discovering that they are a separate person from their parents and it provides them with some support when mummy and daddy aren't around. Children usually loose interest by the time they are four, under their own steam but if a parent is seeking to reduce their dependence on it, then gradually restricting access is the way to go i.e. she has Pan at bedtime. So here is hoping.

Freya's nursery days are not the 'relaxing in a bathrobe, eating chocolate while reading' days that I would like but it is almost as nice to be able to get jobs done. Today, I have sorted out the big shop, cleaned out both fridges and sorted through all the toys littering the front room. It has been a case of things looking much worse before they get better. It is now lunchtime and the house looks like it's usual mess but it has taken me several hours to get it back that way.

These days are also an opportunity to catch up with Edie-peaches. I log on to the Baby Centre website in the morning to catch up with what should be going on with a three month old and games that we can play together. This week it is encouraging her to roll over on a blanket preferably naked and making a mobile out of leaves.

I decided that we could go for a walk in the park and see the leaves on the trees instead. I waited till she was awake and responsive- hooked up the dog and off we went. I think she enjoyed being parked near the waterfall and duck pond listening to the different sounds.

and we sat under some trees and the flag at the entrance to the park so she could see them. Apparently her ability to focus is fully developed now.

As an aside,we are now on the first day of not breast feeding, my chest feels like two bags of wet sand and they are mighty tender, hopefully, this wont last long. I will have a bath later to deflate my 'comedy chest'.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Blow ups, Birdfeeders and Bras.

A cup of coffee and a little time to myself.

I have barely survived the last two weeks. Freya had only just recovered from some weird gastroenteritis when she was struck down with a cough and cold of biblical proportions. Unfortunately, the cough and cold were so bad that it stopped her sleeping which meant that she has just been really down. Lots of crying, whinging and generally being unhappy. The days have been really long and she has had a couple of nights where I have slept on the floor in her room - she is beginning to feel like a cell mate. She seems to have beaten the cold but now we are still left with the crabby behaviour. I am hoping that we can get back on track, so that I get my lovely little girl back, the one who is a pleasure to share lunch with.

She has been very reluctant to go anywhere, which is fine when she was poorly but now it is time to get back on the horse and walk the dog - if you know what I mean. We attempted a walk today. I got her wrapped up, packed a towel to dry stuff in the playground and took her morning snack with us. We fortuitously bumped into Grandad, Benson and Buster and passed the time of day. We also saw Beryl and Rags and said "Good Morning". When we got to the playground we found a bench to have our snack and talked about the birds.  (I am planning to make some bird feeders for our garden using pine cones, peanut butter, seed and cheerios.)

A couple of goes on the swing and the floodgates opened. She screams all the way home about 'Pan'.

I have often seen mothers marching along with a toddler screaming behind them and always thought 'that is so mean, just comfort the poor little blighter'. I tried comforting, reasoning then shouting and finally gave up and trudged on ahead of her - officially joining the ranks of 'mothers with screaming child'. It's funny, I read books about busy time with toddlers and from the quiet comfort of my bed, maybe with a cheeky glass of wine, I look forward to the next day full of rosy-cheeked, laughing, adoring children doing fun things. The reality is so often different with whinging and crying and me just grateful when the clock strikes one. Nevermind, I am sure I am not alone. I also realise that I am one of the lucky ones, Freya is only like this when there is something wrong.

Dreadful timing really, Freya is chucking a wobbler just as I am giving up breastfeeding. When I stopped breastfeeding last time, I was miserable for a couple of days. Apparently, the hormone that keeps you lactating is a happy hormone and mine will soon be disappearing. It is a sad time for me but Edie has been fussy over the last few days and I have come to the conclusion that its a supply and demand issue. I should cheer myself up with thoughts of nice new lingerie now all the grey tinged feeding bras can be dumped.

Edie will also be moving on to the fun and exciting stage of weaning as well as sharing more time with her dad and grandparents.

On a positive note, I have been dieting for three weeks and lost eight pounds despite nights out and falling off the waggon. Just have to start some Callanetics and carry on with pelvic floor weight training to ensure that I am 'not too shabby' by the time my 33rd birthday rolls around.

What a a great pass-time viewing other blogs is... today I learned where to buy Nestle pretzel flipz, that the woodland trust has downloadable activity packs and advice on how to get up earlier in the morning - lush. All blogging and no work makes your house look like a right state, so off I go to clean a kitchen cupboard and hang out the washing.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Simple Pleasures.

Being on Maternity leave from a job that involves shifts doesn't prevent you getting "that Sunday feeling". I think that stems from being a kid and not wanting to go back to school. The weather was grey and miserable, I'd put the girls to bed and Craig was cooking all our dishes for the next week, Slimming world lasagne, soup and salmon rice. Moomin hadn't had a walk yet.

 I knew that I would need to do it and it felt like a real chore. Nevertheless, I put Katy Perry's Album on my MP3 player, wrapped up warm with walking boots, gaiters, coat and hat and set off with the pooch.

I had a whale of a time. I walked along past the stables, cut up across the horse field and across the moor to come back down through the top park. It was really invigorating. I have spent the last three years waddling around in various stages of anaemia and pregnancy and I finally feel that I am getting the spring in my step back. The music was great, the wind was bracing and Moomin had a glorious time. This picture is actually on Holy island but you get the idea.

Up on the moor, when no-one else was around, I even indulged in a bit of air-guitar to 'Waking up in Vegas'. I hadn't had so much fun in ages. I thoroughly recommend this activity to everyone and if you don't have a dog- borrow one.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

What a night

We had stayed up until midnight finishing wine, blogging and Craig playing Angry Birds.

What a mistake. Freya was interspersing coughing with crying by the time we were headed for bed. I checked her temperature and it was 38.5, so we gave her Calpol and then headed off to bed. She didn't settle. I ended up getting her a drink, reading her 'Burgular Bill' and sleeping on a mat next to her bed.

At 2am I was awoken by loud crying not coming from Freya's cot and I couldn't quite understand it. The fog then cleared and I realised that it was Edie. Craig was already in the nursery changing her nappy but she was inconsolable because she couldn't breathe through her nose. I breastfed her to try and settle her down which did the trick. Luckily, Freya stayed asleep for the rest of the night. Edie woke again for another feed at half five. By the time Freya woke up roaring at half past seven, I don't think I even knew what my own name was.

I decided that I would take them out for a morning walk in the 'behemoth'  and they could both have a kip, Mooms could stretch her legs and I could loose some pounds. Halfway down the road I realised that this was a miserable idea with Freya crying and softly repeating  "Freya go home" just like Judy Garland in the Wizard of Oz "There's no place like home". Oh well, least Mooms had a poo.

Needless to say the rest of the day was a bit joyless. I canceled my glass of wine plans with Emily and promptly fell off the diet wagon- eating some fairy cakes, biscuits and chewy sweets. Not my proudest moment, especially because I have lost half a stone already. Tomorrow is another day, I will get back on the horse. When I told Craig about my food indiscretion he was unsympathetic. I guess he doesn't understand the comfort eating phenomenon, he is overweight because he gets real joy from Kettle chips, pizza and beer - simple, not an emotional crutch in sight. He has done really well so far too. He has a tremendous amount of will power when he finally commits to diet.

We are following the Slimming World diet plan which is fabulous if you are prepared for lots of extra cooking and therefore washing up etc. Unlimited potatoes, pasta, fruit, rice and mullerlight make it easy to stick to. We usually have enough 'syns' for a glass of wine at the end of the day- bob's your uncle. I heard about it from Jane, a woman at work. We lost about 6 stone between us before going to America in 2005, it's lush to look at holiday photos and not think arggh. 

I digress.

Luckily Craig came home from work to make the evening routine a bit easier but I think nursery tomorrow is out of the question. After the girls settled down, Craig disappeared off for online D and D and I wasted the evening looking at vintage toys on eBay. Remember this...

I could have shopped for Freya's birthday for hours but needed to reign things in a bit otherwise she'll have one of everything by the time she is five and I needed to go to bed.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

A Fresh Start

I got so behind trying to write my long posts about Christmas that loads of other stuff has happened in the meantime. My thought is to do a quick update then try to jot something down everyday, I guess all bloggers think that.

New year was a bit of an anticlimax. We spent all day packing with the plan of going to spend the evening in Sheffield with Becky, James, Archie, Nic and Nick. Freya had been suffering with loose stools for a few days which we weren't too concerned about, then all of a sudden it got a whole lot worse. We soul searched all day and after Craig packed our mountain of provisions in the car, Freya exploded with foul green poo...we decided not to go.

It was very disappointing as we had been looking forward to it and we had been feeling a bit cooped up over the past few weeks. We settled the kids to bed, ordered a pizza, cracked open the booze and watched Jools Holland. It was a lovely evening and lucky Mooms got to spend it with us. Craig popped up to check Freya at 2am, whilst we were enjoying an eighties Top of the Pops. He found her swimming in Brocolli vomit. A quick clean up and back to bed. An hour later, same again, this time she had to have all new bedding, bath and hairwash- the joys of parenthood. I spent the rest of the night on her floor in case of a further Mama Cass incident.

Craig felt that the above occurance was probably pay-back for being a smug git on Facebook and telling the world that Edie is sleeping through seven till seven, not that he believes in Karma. Thankgod for Gina Ford.

Edie being settled gave me the energy and the will to deal with Freya's illness and disturbed nights. Unfortunately, the diarrhoea scuppered our plans of Freya starting Nursery. She missed her first week. Not only did I miss out on lovely toddler-free days, I ended up cleaning carpets of vomit, washing poo stained clothes and we paid nursery £66 for the privilege.

She has also been going through a daddy stage at the moment and being poorly has exacerbated that. The first day that Craig went back to work after Christmas, she was distraught, screaming to the point of sickness. The separation anxiety has got better and we can now have an upbeat conversation as to where daddy is and why the weekends are so good because "Daddy no go to work". Hopefully, winding down breastfeeding will enable our time to be shared more equally between the two. It is a bit Daddy and Freya versus Mummy and Edie at present.

Nursery started the following week. I decided to pick her up at lunchtime on the first day. Craig said she was crying when he left so I am  glad he did it and not me. When I collected her she seemed calm and happy, not clawing at my legs. Apparently she had been sad for an hour or so but had got into the swing of things and even had a bit of a kip on Briony her 'key worker'. So far, so good. I decided to send her for the full day next time.

Freya's first full day at nursery was a revelation. I felt like I had more time than I knew what to do with. I likened it the old lady in a 'Squash and a Squeeze' one of Freya's books. She thinks she has no room until a wise old man tells her to bring her animals in one by one, "Take in my goat! What a curious plan". When she boots them all out she is content with her little house.

I felt like I was so busy before I had kids but now just sending one of them off for a day lets me appreciate how much time I have got. I cleaned up, power walked Mooms with Edie then headed off for a haircut and to buy some jeans that fit over my arse instead of flashing my bum to all and sundry especially important now I am bending down to be a toddler level all the time.

I did feel a little sad that Freya was away but reminded myself that we really want her to socialise, have friends and play at nursery. I needed some time off too as my life was beginning to feel all kids, kids, kids.

I hadn't really considered how it would affect other people but my mum had been really upset thinking that Freya would be all alone, dumped in a strange place and not knowing why. She text me to ask if she could come down and see the place. I said surely she must have done this with us as kids but it turns out that mum arranged her working life around not sending us away... big softie. I hoped she would love Riverside as much as we do.

Freya wasn't distraught when we got there (Thankgod) but did start to panic a bit when we hung around to chat to Briony, she kept repeating "Freya get coat". I think she'll survive nicely... Freya not Mum.

Santa Claus had been to town...

Christmas day started at around seven o clock because I needed to feed Edie. Craig went and woke his mum and dad so we could all go in and watch Freya open her first ever christmas stocking. She seemed a little unsure but soon got into the swing of things with a 'magic' wand, a dust pan and brush, a gold reindeer (she was surprised and delighted to find out that this was chocolate a few days later) some chocolate coins and a satsuma - of course. Here she is in her new Christmas 'Charlie and Lola' pyjamas with terrible bed head.

We all trooped downstairs. Our living room was cordoned off to wait for my mum and dad at about 10.30. We lit the fire in the middle room and had a couple of brews. At one point I had some nice quiet time breastfeeding Edie next to a roaring fire - lush.

Skip forward a couple of hours, all showered and the girls are in their Christmas outfits including Mooms with her fetching Merry Christmas collar. I didn't get a Mrs Christmas outfit for Freya last year thinking it was a bit sad, then nosey-ing at other people's Facebook pictures made me think 'my girls would look as cute as that!' I jumped on the bandwagon. I was hoping to get a nice picture of the three of them but it would have been easier to get the loch ness monster, the tooth fairy and sasquatch to pose together. So here they are seperately...

This last picture is actually in the pub on christmas eve on our way to see Nic and Nick.

Mum and dad arrived and we cracked open another bottle of cava after I had spent a frantic five minutes finding my christmas wine charms. One year, in the future I will have all the glasses washed and prepped on a silver tray the night before. With two children under two to contend with, I felt we were lucky not to be drinking out of dirty mugs. Time was marching on and Craig started to worry that he would have to start cooking dinner so we unleashed the beast.

All in all, I think she 'got' the Christmas experience. She opened her first toy and wanted to play with it and then wasn't really interested in opening any more presents after that. The adults then spent their time trying to remove restraining clips/ties from madam's toys and clearing wrapping paper. Us opening our presents seemed to be unimportant. Craig had bought me a Kindle, he was convinced I had seen the packaging but I had obviously been too sleep deprived to notice it. It had not been something I had considered for myself as I am a bit strapped for free time at the moment and I hadn't considered getting one for Craig as he hadn't been doing an awful lot of reading lately. It was so great to have a gadget to play with though. I felt sorry that I had got Craig a leather travel bag, although he wanted one, you can't play with it.

Freya ended up getting two farms from Pat and Ray which made us giggle. Pat hadn't realised that she'd done it until we opened both of them. It worked out really well though, as she now has a large farm 'complex' set up on the low coffee table that keeps her busy for hours.

This is perfectly complimented by a wooden farm jigsaw and sheep stuffed toy from my mum and dad. The little butterfly stool was from aunty Becky who found this little treasure in a charity shop in Dundee- very Kirstie Allsopp. The presents Craig and I bought her didn't even get opened as she was in a state of overload. 

Setting the dinner table was a rushed affair, which was a shame as it is a job that I enjoy taking my time over. I wanted to make some Martha Stewart place cards, but it was not to be.

I had to get up in the loft to grab Freya's old high chair so we would have enough seats (and I still spent dinner perched on our step-stool). The room was full of washing, push chairs, outdoor gear- not exactly Martha Stewart but Craig had done himself proud with the rib of beef once again.

The kids went down like clockwork after having a play with their new bath toys. Mum and dad disappeared off home to sort Benson and Buster out. Mum hadn't been so well and dad tends to avoid gatherings since becoming tee-total. That left the Chambers's. The front room looked dreadful but we managed to beat a path to our seats. Pat and I had a quick play with Freya's new doll's house then changed into our pyjamas. I always get PJ's and bed socks from Pat and I love it. The tartan bottoms fitted like a dream but the top made me look like a savaloy- oh well, I knew diet time was only just around the corner.

I settled down with a Raspberry Martini to watch Dr Who- a very Christmas day thing to do. Unfortunately, this was followed by 'Whistle and I'll come to you'. This was supposed to be a ghost story but it turned out to be more of a cerebral 'mood-piece' meaning that I didn't really understand a lot of it and the rest of it made me sad. The only scary part was a pair of hands coming under his hotel door. My mum had said it was alright- earning herself a poke in the eye next time I see her.

And I guess we're all done for another year.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

The Run Up to Christmas

Ahh... just sipping a nice glass of Bordeaux and thinking how Christmas is just about over. The decorations are coming down tomorrow, all the spiced apple candles are burnt out and I have had my last cup of tea out of a Christmas mug. We have had a great time but I will be glad to get back to normal. In the picture below you can just see the wine resting amongst Jussie's lovely homemade cards and Elodie's nursery card. The small candle-lamp was a Christmas yankee candle from our Becky.

The holiday season kicked off with some of the worst weather I have ever known. Temperatures have been getting down to minus eight. Your face would be so stiff with cold after being outside for ten minutes that you couldn't speak properly. You really got a sense that if you got stuck outside you would be in real peril. Unfortunately, this meant that even a small trip to mum and dad's or walking the dog involved a major dressing up session. Here is a photo of the amount of clothing that the girls required- full smowsuits, scarves, hats, gloves, fur lined boots.

Dressing up took twenty minutes by which time one of them had pooed, started crying or overheated leaving me struggling to get my hiking boots and gaiters on as quickly as possible. Thoroughly miserable, can't wait for sundress and flip flop season.

Then, the snow came. Initially, it was only a couple inches and the pram was great in the snow.

Freya was very nervous about walking on the ice and snow- so from an independent toddler who could walk round the park she was demanding to ride in the buggy. As the snow got deeper, the wheels of the pram couldn't get through it and we became housebound because I couldn't manage the three of them without wheels. Poor Mooms, she had to content herself with playing in the garden.

At least at the weekend we could go out with Freya's new sledge. I bought this particular sledge because it seemed more sturdy than the cheapo plastic ones that shatter. I still remember my brother returning from Chislehurst golf course with a small triangle of plastic on a string after borrowing either mine or Becky's sledge. Unfortunately for Craig, this new one has break handles that Freya pulls at throughout the ride. Freya is a bit of a daredevil and took to falling off the sledge really well.

Her good mood in the snow was helped by the fact that she had a fleece lined snow suit and mini ski mitts- she was like toast.

Despite having bought all the Christmas home magazines and being really inspired, Edie's arrival threw my Christmas preparations into a bit of a tailspin. I am finding it hard to keep the house tidy, never mind shopping, cooking and decorating. Our Becky was coming to visit on the 18th of December so that actually gave me a bit of a push. Craig and I decorated the Christmas tree and mantelpiece. I did a big internet shop for all the presents (no lovingly handcrafted gifts or carefully sourced presents this year) so the house was a bit more festive for her arrival. I got the Christmas mugs out to share a brew and some stollen when she arrived.

Becky's visit did get me more in the mood. We watched 'The Family Stone' with glasses of Cava, did some cheap Christmas shopping in Darwen and got drunk on apple martinis whilst sat amongst piles of washing, toys and recycling in our breakfast room. The recipe for this lovely tipple is as follows: 3 measures vodka, 6 measures of apple juice, juice of half a lemon, 1 measure of sugar syrup and a glug of white wine. I was so sad to see her go back to Dundee, she had been a great help and great fun. Freya was delighted to have Bailey around and squealed "Bailey, get through!" all day long.

We thought that Freya wouldn't really understand Christmas this year but she has pleasantly surprised us. With time being short we decided to only have one Christmas tree this year, our big artificial one. My love of interior design magazines had led me to having sophisticated trees in the past, beautiful white lights paired with gold and silver glass baubles. This year we wanted to go tacky/kitsch to enthrall Freya, seventies style coloured lights and every multi-coloured decoration we could find - 'more is more'. Our efforts were rewarded when Freya saw the tree and stood in awe and said to the tree "Thankyou, thankyou." I have caught her  trying to hug the tree on a couple of occasions.

We have had another family Christmas with both sets of parents joining us for Christmas day. Craig's mum and dad were flying back from Cuba on the 23rd to stay with us and mum and dad were going to join us for present opening at 10.30am. We were still scrabbling round cleaning, shopping and wrapping at 1.30am on Christmas day. It felt like when we got married and by the time the day rolled around I was so fed up with planning and organising that I felt 'what will be will be'. Ray had driven Craig mad by lying around and expecting to be waited on, stating " We love coming here because we don't have to do a thing" as Craig pushed past his outstretched arm with handfuls of presents. It finally dawned on us that Christmas is no longer about us.