A Summer Summary

My head is a swirly whirl of ideas right now but i’m having difficulty finding the time to actually get any of them out of my head and on to paper/into action.

For example, i started writing this blog entry last night but now it’s today.  And what i wanted to say last night is not what i want to say today.

So you’re not getting the blog entry i intended to write, but this other one i’m writing instead.

And it feels like that applies to many other areas of my life right now too.  Everything is a jumble of unrealised plans, unfinished thoughts and not yet started projects.  My “To Do” lists are getting longer and longer and as soon as one thing is crossed off another is added.

I am chasing my tail, as it were.

Most of it’s epic dull as well, so i won’t bore you to death with the details.

I thought perhaps i’d just do a little summary update for each person instead.

I’ll start with Chris, since he’s the biggest and the oldest (no offence cariad 😉 )

CHRIS

Chris passed his second year of uni (wahoo!) He made some grumbling sounds about his results not being as good as they should be, but to be frank, he’s a bit mental.  Not only did he get perfectly acceptable results under any circumstances (62% for both his assignments) but he completed them both under conditions that most people would struggle to even physiologically survive in…i.e. our house, with all it’s inhabitants.

Have you ever tried to write a shopping list in the presence of a toddler and a baby? It starts well enough but the next thing you know the baby has stolen your pen and is drawing on himself with it, and the toddler is jabbering on relentlessly so much so that your cognitive functioning capacity has been reduced to almost zero and you’re struggling to remember what the name of that orange vegetable is…you know, that one that grows in the ground…the one that they both actually eat…argh…what is it?! And now the baby is eating your piece of paper and you feel like crying…well imagine that increased one hundred fold and you have some idea what it might be like to try and write an academic essay with two small children in the house.  So, you see, 62%=awesome 😉

He is now half way through his summer “holidays” although i’m fairly certain he has probably never felt less relaxed in his life.

And very soon he will be a final year student nurse, just 12 months away from being a really real NMC pin holder. Exciting times.

Rebecca (ME)

To continue in age/size order i suppose i should probably talk about myself next.

Well.  Today i’m a bit fed up.  Caught in an endless cycle of (paid)work, (house)work and childcare with little time for anything else in between.

But you’re catching me at a bad time, as i’ve had to deal with rather a lot of poop and pee today, mainly belonging to Toby, and mainly off the floor.  Anyone would feel a bit glum under the same circumstances i’m sure.

On a more positive note, on Wednesday evening I LEFT THE HOUSE ALONE AND NOT TO GO TO WORK (!!!) AND STAYED OUT ALL NIGHT (!!!) Before anyone starts conjuring up images of an alco-Mum staggering from pub to bar to club, i actually went for a very civilised meal and a few glasses of wine at my best friend’s house and had a much needed catch up with her and one my other closest, oldest friends.  It made sense for me to stay over as i only got over there around 7.40pm (i didn’t want to leave Chris to deal with Bedtime alone, i know how rough that can be) and i thought it would be nice to be able to have a drink for a change and not have to worry about driving home.

It was the first time i’ve been out (socially) without the boys since having them, i.e. my first “night out” since July 2009 when, at 22 weeks pregnant with Toby i went to see NIN play at the M.E.N.

I can’t even begin to describe how amazing it was to be able to talk to people without interruption.  Magical.  I didn’t even drink that much, i was intoxicated enough on the free-flowing conversation 😉

(apologies for the rather mentally unstable expression, this is the most recent photo i have of me by myself, in our eternally messy kitchen unpacking the grocery shopping.  Glam)
TOBY

Toby is finding it very difficult to play on his own without any input again.  Obviously when he was a baby he needed our guidance in play and then as a toddler he would like us to join in but starting being able to play for short periods on his own without needing anything from us grown-ups.

Recently however he is wanting us to be fully engaged with whatever game it is he’s playing all the time.  I mean, constant dialogue and action and any perceived ‘failure to join in’ on our part, be that because we need to pee, or change the baby’s nappy, or get some coffee, or just chill the fuck out for a minute without having to pretend to be Spiderman’s arch nemesis (i don’t even know who spiderman’s arch nemesis is…) is taken very very badly.

I imagine it’s just a phase.  I tell myself it’s just a phase because i actually find it very difficult to join in his play in the way he wants me to.  I love having fun with my children, don’t get me wrong, but he wants to role play with his cars/figurines/puzzle pieces over and over and over and over with them saying the same things to each other/repeating the same actions over and over and over and over and he is so bossy with it too.  If you ad lib at all you are at the mercy of his temper!

He is also having nightmares occasionally, and needing one of us to go in and switch his lamp on and lie with him for a bit until he (or we) fall back asleep.

We are potty training again and it is going much better this time.  It’s obvious he’s ready this time, and we’re  bit better prepared (practically and mentally i mean) so fingers crossed it won’t turn into a big battle. Having said that he has peed on the floor twice today and also pooped in his pants twice.  So i reserve the right to retract my statement about it “going much better this time” at any point.

Current obsessions include superheros, like Batman, Spiderman and X-Men (thank you Chris, for that), Toy Story, Tree Fu Tom and as usual, pirates.

And last, but by all means not least.  The littlest member of our crew…
RUDY
 
Rudy is now in that funny no-man’s land caught between baby and toddlerhood.  He is walking and trying to talk and he understands so much of what you say.  But obviously, he’s only 10.5 months old, so he’s a baby in most respects.  Just a super smart and physically capable one 😉
He is now the proud owner of SHOES although prefers chewing them to wearing them. He has the walking thing nailed and is now working in increasing his speed, and has also turned his hand to climbing.  He can climb the full staircase in one go, although often tries to sit down for a little rest midway, causing whichever parent is behind him to have a mini heart attack.
He can say “Ta” which he appears to use to mean “Gimme that!” or “I’m going to hand you this item in a minute”.  He uses “Woof” to refer to the dog, the cat and all other animals, and this morning he said “Hello”.  He waves and claps and laughs when other people do and copies pretty much everything his big brother does, good and bad.
He has four teeth and still bites me when feeding, although usually by accident these days, he has a fang, and even when feeding very sleepily and gently, he can’t help but catch my nipple with it.  I contemplate stopping breastfeeding on an almost daily basis but am no nearer making anything like a decision on the matter.  I just like to remind myself it’s an option.
His sleep is a mess.  One night this week he slept from 7.30 until 10.45pm when Toby woke him up (crying because he’d had a bad dream), Chris went in to him to settle him back to sleep and he then slept until 5.45am! Then other nights he takes ages to settle, stirs regularly throughout the evening, wakes for a feed around midnight/1am and i’m held captive in his room from that point onwards, until 6am ish when he decides he’s up for the day.  It’s usually one good (ish) night followed by a few rotten ones. I try to take the good ones as a “free gift” so i’m not too disappointed when it all goes to shit the next night.
He is adorable, and cheeky.  Still mainly wearing 9-12 month clothes, which he’s been in a while now, but it’s hardly  wonder he’s so trim given how much the boy moves!
That’s all folks 🙂
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Just So

Yesterday we went to the Just So Festival in Cheshire.

I confess i’d never even heard of it until earlier this year when i saw someone raving about it on facebook and one google search later i was sold, and had bought us day tickets for the Saturday.

It’s a full weekend event but we don’t own any camping gear.  Our last tent died a sorry mouldy death following Glastonbury 2007 and we haven’t felt the need to replace it since.  I’m aware we will need to fairly soon (ish) as we’re hoping to return to Glastonbury next year with the boys but i didn’t want to force our hand by buying weekend tickets to Just So as i knew we’d possibly be a bit skint, with me having just returned to work after mat leave etc.  Plus like i say, i’d never even heard of the festival, let alone been before, so wasn’t sure if we’d enjoy it.

I needn’t have worried about that aspect anyway.  We had a brilliant time.

Toby particularly enjoyed all the dens!

And spent a lot of time brushing up on his circus skills too 🙂

We sat down for a spot of tea and toast…here’s a freshly unwrapped Rudy, delighted to be on the loose!

There was also ice-cream…
And digging to do!
Lesson of the day: if you do the worst wrap-job of your life and think “Oh, he won’t be in it long, it’ll do…” your child is guaranteed to instantly fall into a deep slumber, leaving you to fret whether or not to risk taking them out and wake them up or carry on going knowing that you’re probably doing your back in and/or suffocating your baby to death! Fortunately i managed to get him outta there without him stirring 😉 Phew!
Knock-knock, who’s there? No-one Toby sweetheart, they’re not actually real doors!
We found a lake, complete with Abney and Teal’s island in the middle!!!  Toby: “My want Bop to come out of the water and blow some bubbles now please!”
King Rudy, waving for the camera
Lapin came too of course
Giant bird!
Rudy was slightly obsessed with my wellies, which to be fair, i don’t think he’s never seen me wear before…

Toby’s legs grew a little weary so i had a go at wrapping him but it didn’t last long, not only is he 6kg heavier than his brother and a bony wriggle-monster but i’m also not the world’s best wrapper so i was pretty relieved when he asked to get down 😉

We were all feeling a little sleepy by mid afternoon, so while Chris drew the short straw and marched around the woodland with a grouchy Rudy on his back in the Connecta, trying to get him to give in and go to sleep, Toby and i had a lie-down… on a bed, in the middle of the forest. Like you do.
This is what i was pointing up at, our view from the bed:
 Toby instructed me to go to sleep.  Who am i to argue?! 😉
By the time we left at about 5pm, Toby was too exhausted to even pose for a photograph on the way out! Result! 😉
Looks pretty awesome right?!
There were some downsides i admit.
Even pre-kids, Chris and i took a pretty laid back approach to festival activities.  Making a note of the days/times of totally unmissable acts but otherwise just mooching and checking things out as we came across them.  This kind of thinking means you sometimes miss out on things you wish you’d seen/done but weren’t in the right place at the right time, but it also means you discover things you wouldn’t have done otherwise and means you have a pretty chilled time just wandering around drinking in the atmosphere.  It was this kind of approach that we went along with yesterday.  Unfortunately, i hadn’t realised how limited spaces were for some of the activities or how organised other folk would be.  So we arrived at 10am and by the time we’d found The High Seas where the “Pirate Training” took place (the one activity i’d earmarked as “unmissable” for Toby) it was fully booked for both the Saturday and the Sunday!  Likewise, by the time we’d found The Social (where the food was!), bought and eaten lunch and found the tent where Clay Babies was taking place (the one activity i’d earmarked as “unmissable” for Rudy) it also was fully booked! So we came away not having done the two things we’d gone there determined not to miss! D’oh! Admittedly this was partly our fault for not being more organised, but i was slightly disappointed in the organisers, as it seemed obvious to me that those two activities would be popular, and it felt like we missed out because we were daytrippers, whereas those camping for the weekend could have gone round putting their names down for everything on the Friday evening/first thing on the Saturday morning before we arrived.
Food and drink was pretty pricey but i think that’s fairly standard at festivals and didn’t come as a shock.
(The boys enjoying somewhat over-priced veggie sausages on a bread roll)
Other than those minor complaints it was all good really.  There were some lovely stalls selling various fare.  I spotted some awesome hedgehog trousers for Rudy that i totally meant to go back and buy at some point but forgot (see above re: our penchant for meandering, and lack of organisation!)
Toby chose a wooden pirate toy for his souvenier
Rudy may have missed out on hedgehog pants but ended up coming away with something even more awesome (if that’s possible!) as we spent some time loitering around the Bouquiniste Bookswap, which was sponsored by Spineless Classics (http://www.spinelessclassics.com/) and we fell in love with the idea and ended up buying a print of the entire of “The Just So” stories by Rudyard Kipling, to hang in our very own Rudyard’s room.
We got home around 6pm ish all totally knackered and me slightly sunburnt, which is unsual, not because i don’t burn easy- i can do milk to lobster in no time at all, but because i am usually pretty hot (pardon the pun) at slapping on the suncream.  I think i just got caught out because of the clouds, it didn’t feel like we needed to dig the suncream out of the bag, and it wasn’t until i got home i realised we probably should have done!
So all in all a few lessons learnt, and a good time had by all.
One thing which really blew me away was just how many slings we saw…from the minute we pulled up in the car park field, we saw people unpacking slings from the boots of their cars, and popping little ones in ring slings and tying mei tai straps for their partners.  It was brilliant.  Even Chris, who sees babywearing as practical, common-sense way of transporting your baby, rather than a lifestyle choice remarked on what a nice vibe/atmosphere the festival had, it was really laid back.
Real life should be like the Just So Festival i reckon, babywearing as the norm, breastfeeding in public as a matter of course, lots of happy noisy kids running around, dens in the woods…and yurts!
I think it’s safe to say we’ll be returning next year, hopefully for the full festival next time.

Painting, picnics and just a teensy bit of puke…

Sorry! Couldn’t resist the alliteration, and it really does describe what we’ve been up to these past few days.

Rudy is getting better i think.  His temperature is back to normal anyhow and we haven’t had any more random nocturnal vomiting, which is a relief.  I’m still none the wiser as to what exactly was wrong with him, just a random collection of symptoms including fever, rash, vomiting, lethargy and with an add-on of oral thrush. Anyway he seems to be on the mend, although still not 100% he’s brighter than he was and just as mischievous as ever.

We had a couple of days cooped up indoors on account of not knowing what mystery illness we were dealing with i didn’t want to go pootling around Manchester passing it about (plus, i don’t know how other folk feel about it, but the idea of my children projectile vomiting out and about makes me nervous) so we stayed home/in the garden and found stuff to do to pass the time, including painting:

 
It turns out, a highchair may seem like a good idea for painting, being secure and wipe-clean and all, but it also leads the baby to assume he should eat whatever is in front of him…
Toby’s “Rainbow” that he painted entirely unprompted, although i have a feeling it may have been inspired by Mr Tumble painting a rainbow on a shed in an episode of “Something Special” we’d watched earlier in the day.  I was very impressed with it nonetheless
I asked him what this one was and he said “Red car and blue car” in a way that suggested it should be obvious
This is his painting of “Night time” 😀
 
Rudy’s first ever painting! To recreate this at home you’ll need some yellow and blue finger paint and a roller and a whole lot of drool!
 
I was also provoked (by desperation and whining!) in to actually making toys:

Ok, so i didn’t really make toys but it’s probably as close as i’ll ever get. Pouring some pasta and rice into some empty juice bottles to put a temporary hold on the pre-dinner-whinge that Rudy likes to emit, as if he thinks that whining will actually hurry the process along…like maybe i cook faster to a soundtrack of wailing baby. They’ve proved very popular though, even Toby was quite taken by them, although my attempts to make them educational totally bombed.  We experimented shaking them…”Which is louder?” i asked, “The pasta?” (Shakes the pasta bottle) “Or the rice?” (shakes the rice bottle).  “Errrm…RICE!” Toby replied.  He also chose rice for “Which is fuller?”and “Which has bigger pieces?” so i’m either aiming way above his understanding or he was being deliberately obstinate or he’s obsessed with rice?!

And i finally got a snapshot of Rudy taking some solo steps:

Exciting times. He took about four across the rug earlier in the week and then face-planted on to the edge of the glass TV stand…awesome.  So he has yet another bruise. Sigh.  I’m looking forward to him being a bit more proficient with it so that my poor frazzled nerves get a rest and his beautiful little face can be unblemished/bumped/brusied for a bit (until he discovers climbing maybe?!)

Today we went for a picnic

Taken mere milliseconds before Rudy fell under the bench…
Haha
We had a really nice afternoon.  It was a spur of the moment thing, in reaction to the cooped-up-ness.  Almost as soon as i uttered the word “picnic” the clouds came out but it was warm and dry still and nice to get some fresh air and a little vitamin D 😉
Tonight i’m home alone with the boys as Chris is on a nightshift, and of course, in keeping with Sod’s Law Rudy is restless and there’s all kinds of strange creakings and rustlings making me jumpy…the house still feels quite new in that regard, i haven’t quite got the natural noises of the floorboards etc worked out although with Rudy being such a light sleeper and such a grump when woken, it’s pretty paramount that i learn asap so i know which to avoid on my way across the hall!
Speaking of which, bedtime for me now i reckon, not that i ever sleep much when Chris isn’t home but it’s worth a try…

Just Say No

Toby seems to have adopted a new policy not dissimilar to the 80’s anti-drugs campaign.

The basic premise appears to be “The answer to everything is NO”

And it goes something like this:

“Do you want any breakfast Toby?”
‘”NO!”

“Can i change your nappy Toby?”
“NO!”

“Do you want to go on the potty Toby?”
“NO!”

“Shall we get dressed Toby?”
“NO!”

“Did you have a nice day Toby?”
“NO!”

“What do you want for dinner Toby?”
“NO!”

Demonstrating quite clearly i think, that it doesn’t even matter if “NO!” doesn’t make any sense as a response.  In fact, to be perfectly honest, i’m not sure he even listens to the question half the time, it’s like “NO!” has become a reflex response to hearing the lilt in either of our voices that signifies a question has been asked.

Sometimes there’s an addition of “My don’t want to!” or “My will not!” or “My just can’t!”, just to spice things up a bit.

It’s, well how can i put it…a tad tiresome…a bit wearing…f*cking annoying!

I am guessing it’s his age.  Either a last minute installment of “The Terrible Two’s” or a sneak preview of what life will be like when he’s a “Threenager”.

Either way, it’s most excellent and has timed up so well with Rudy being ill.  Don’t ask me what’s wrong with him because i don’t know.  Probably a virus.     Just as Toby has a blanket policy of answering everything with “NO!” most GP’s seem to have a similar policy of answering everything with “A virus” or, occasionally, rather patronisingly “Teething”.

Like you’d choose to spend your Sunday morning in a dull, crowded, air-conditioned-to-fuck waiting room killing time until it’s your turn to see the (slightly bizarre) out of hours doctor if you thought, on any level, that it could just be teething.  I wouldn’t mind but the bloody doctor then ignored my protestations that oral thrush doesn’t cause a fever, explained it away with a wave of the hand and “Teething” and then started quizzing me on my nipples and offering to examine them.  Erm, no ta.

The conversation went something like this:

“What are your nipples like?”
“Fine”
“So they’re not red, dry, sore, cracked, blistered, scaly or weeping?…”
“No, they’re fine.” (See what i wanted to say here was “Jesus, wtf?! Who would describe they’re nipples as fine, if in fact they were scaly…or weeping?!”)
“Have you brought someone else with you today?”
“No, why?”
“Hmm, i see.  Because normally i’d ask someone to come in here with us so i could examine your nipples…do you want me to examine your nipples”
“No, that’s ok thanks. They’re fine”

I don’t know how many times i must have described my nipples as “fine” before he took the hint and stopped offering to check them out.

In the end we left with some nystatin for Rudy’s mouth (he really did have a bad case of oral thrush bless him) and none the wiser as to why he had such a high temp.

Then yesterday i stripped him off and discovered a red pin prick rash all over him, and i mean everywhere, that had somehow developed in the two hours since his previous nappy change.  It was 4pm, dinner was in the oven and Chris was getting ready to head out for a night shift. Bad timing indeed.

I decided to chance my luck with our Dr’s surgery rather than face the possibility of another encounter with the nipple-enthusiast at the out of hours. Luckily the words “Ten month old baby, rash and fever” are like an incantation when it comes to GP’s  i have discovered.  Not only had i had my phonecall returned and been offered to be seen immediately if i came to the surgery now, but i’d also been there, had Rudy fully checked over, and was back home eating my dinner within an hour.  Now that’s service! No mention of nipples either! Always a bonus.  The good news of course being that it doesn’t seem to be anything serious.  Yes he has a low grade temp and a rash and a bit of oral thrush, and no he’s not quite himself, but otherwise he checks out as a clinically well healthy baby.

So we’ve got a grumpy spotty babe and a toddler who has become a little too fond of the word “No”: not the best start to our Summer Fun but it’s salvageable i reckon.

 

School’s out for summer!

It is officially the summer holidays 😀

You’d think that at 27 years old and with no school-age children i’d be at best ambivalent about this fact, and more likely mildly irritated by the sudden surge in prices and crowds almost everywhere.
It’s true, i am struggling to adjust to the fact there are suddenly large children everywhere and that traffic flow is unpredictable.  Certainly, when we went to one of the bigger soft play areas in Manchester earlier this week, i was cursing the lack of formal education over the summer as the place was rammed and definitely impacted on how enjoyable the experience was, both for us and for the boys.
However, as the girlfriend of a university student i can’t be too grumpy about the end of the academic year as it signifies the beginning of Chris’s 6 weeks off.  SIX WEEKS! I am very aware that this will Never Happen Again, as he starts his final year in September, so i’m intending to make the most of it, although i have to say i’m not sure my idea of ‘making the most of it’ will tally with his idea of ‘making the most of it’
My concept of making the most of Chris being off for 6 weeks:
  • Lots of family days out
  • Watching a movie every single night when i’m not in work- some of us have to earn a living 😉
  • DIY (Not that i enjoy it you understand, or even enjoy inflicting upon other people, i’m not a sadist, it’s just there are things that need doing that never get done that apparently no one cares about apart from me…)
Chris’s concept of making the most of his 6 weeks off:
  • Lie-ins
  • Skyrim
I can see a few discrepancies there.  We may need to try that old gem ‘comprimise’.
It won’t technically be six weeks OFF as he’ll be picking up bank shifts where he can and i’ve volunteered to work some extra nights at work when the unit is short staffed (more financially motivated than altruistically motivated i’ll admit, but the end result is the same) but it’s still going to feel like six weeks off, compared to the previous six weeks where we’ve been juggling so many balls it’s a wonder any of them are still in the air.
I am slightly groggy from work last night but underneath the grog is an enormous sense of relief and excitement 😉