Watching the boys

One of my most favourite things to do on holiday is to all sit about on the hunoungous hotel bed in the evenings and flick through the hotel TV and try to find a movie that’s on in English.  It’s the best time ever and probably sounds a bit sad in equal measure. After all, I could stick a telly on our bedroom wall at home and get a super King sized bed for us all to lounge about on.  There’s something a bit special about doing it on holiday though when everyone is relaxed, no-one has to get up for work and there’s no real bedtime.  

This time was no different except for the fact that we had Baby E with us for the first time too.  It was lovely watching the boys play together and bond a bit more with some sun thrown in as a lovely bonus.   Baby E started cooing and coming out with more sounds and most of them were reserved for his big brother.  Most conversations would go something like:
Baby E: “Gaga gaa goo gaa gaa” etc.

Little Z: “I really don’t understand what you’re saying.”

And so forth.  Little Z doesn’t quite understand that his baby brother needs an adequate amount of space and will flit between almost smothering him and completely ignoring him when he gets a bit bored.  Baby E, on the other hand, will try to drag himself about trying to follow his big brother and then screaming when his space is being invaded a bit too much. It’s interesting and a complete juggling act watching them and I think it’ll eventually morph into something that needs a bit of refereeing. 

I think things are going to get very interesting over the next month as Baby E is on the verge of crawling.  Z did it at eight months and I’m fully expecting something similar.  I think it may be time to start barricading things like the TV!

  

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A postcard from Turkey

It’s our last day in Turkey and, like all good holiday makers, I’m only just getting round to sending a postcard.  It’s been a really brilliant week (besides when Little Z got poorly with tonsilitis!) and it’s flown by way too quickly.

We booked the holiday very last minute and.  It’s currently “off season” here and we were expecting the weather to be in the low 20s and very quiet.  We’ve been very lucky and pleasantly surprised that it’s stayed around 30 degrees and been pretty humid.  It’s slightly too hot for the boys around noon but we managed to get a room with a pool attached and they’ve enjoyed living in it!

I think most of Lancashire and half of Glasgow had exactly the same idea as us. The hotel is filled with families and excited kids who’ve all had their Easter holidays really late.  We’ve never really had a “sit about pool side” holiday before and we see the same people at breakfast, lunch, dinner, by the pool, at the beach.  It’s a bit crazy but has been hilarious and we will be telling our holiday tales for time to come.  We’re all on the same flight back too.  It’s going to be crazy. 

There is one big family group here of 30. Yes 30!! They are understandably very loud and they move in one huge pack.  One of the families in that group has kids aged 6, 5, 4 and 3.  And they are not insane.  I can’t stop staring at the mother; all coolness and calm. I want to be her.  With just 2 kids though. I would totally be crazy and bald with anymore. 

I will miss the guy from the spa that I pass each morning.  He’s like Tigger in human form, with the spikiest hair and most amazing skin you’ve ever seen.  Every single morning, I walk past the spa to go for breakfast and our conversation goes like this…

Him: “Good morning lady! How are you?”

Me: “Good thank you. How are you?”

Him: “You’re welcooome!”

I fully expect jazz hands from him at that point but it never happens.  Sadly.  Maybe today…possibly.

Weirdly I’ve stayed off social media quite a lot and put my phone down.  I’ve pondered life and the universe and thought about going back to work.  I do want to go back to work eventually.  This is good news for me.  On my last maternity leave I was dreading it but my mindset is a bit different this time.  I just need to work out how to juggle it.  It’ll come.  Somehow.

We have found that Baby E absolutely loves the water.  He floats about happily in his baby boat and his instincts are to kick a lot. I think he may be ready for swimming lessons.   Little Z is loving having some company in the pool and looks very confused every time some of our Turkish friends ask him if he remembers them.  He was 3 the last time we came so has no real recollection of anyone. It’s lovely they all remember him by name.  The poor boy suddenly got tonsilitis here but the doctor was so good and he got treated very quickly.  Thank goodness for great medical staff and travel insurance! I get the feeling we’ve not seen the last of his inflamed tonsils.  The doctor recalled he treated me for insect bits a few years back at another hotel.  He still mistakenly thinks I’m some of photographer.  I never managed to correct him.

Baby E, on the other hand, is loving being picked up by every random person that offers.  They quickly learn that his little fat hand reaches out to gently stroke their face and is quickly followed by his attempt to gouge their eye out.  Some find it hilarious.  Some, understandably, not so much.   We are like meerkat parents; constantly watching out for who has our second born.   

I wish we could stay longer but the time has come to go home soon and do a million loads of laundry.  We will appease our soon to come holiday blues with plans for summer. So bye, from Turkey. For now!

Wish you were here!

  

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The lesser known fifth trimester

 Everyone knows about the 3 trimesters of pregnancy, especially if you happen to be going through it all. Not so long ago, it emerged (theoretically) that there’s actually a fourth trimester; the first 3 months once the baby has been born. The theory states that its the period of time baby is adjusting to their brand new world and why they still want to be very much still connected and close to their mums. You can understand it; being ejected from the womb after 9 months must definitely take some adjusting. So it’s all about empathising with your newborn rather than getting stressed about why your newborn is hating their crib.
Baby E is currently 6 months old and I do spend a lot of time thinking back to when Little Z was this age. Reminiscing about their milestones and remembering what I was like at each stage too. I’m happy to say it’s a lot more relaxed this time round but it dawned on me….I think there may be a less known FIFTH trimester that not many people talk about. (I know, “trimester” strictly means 3 terms, but go with me).
I realised this particular trimester affects mum more than baby and there’s a whole heap of symptoms and events that emerge, all concentrated around the 3 to 6 month stage of a baby’s life.
So here goes…the lesser known fifth trimester.

The hair loss – Why oh why does this happen? You completely forget about this stage until it happens again. You think back to a YouTube video you did and how you look like you’re wearing a wig slightly too big for your head! You now look like you may be going bald. And Baby E keeps trying to pull out what’s left with both of his little fat fists!

The Zombieness – At this stage of a baby’s life you’ve already been lured into and come through the “Ooh he is sleeping through, isn’t this wonderful?” phase and smacked straight into the “Oh crap, he’s started teething phase and forgotten how to sleep” phase. Your eye bags look like little hot air balloons and you look about a 100 years old. And a bit grey, even with brown skin.

You become an OAP magnet – Or, rather, your baby does. You find little old ladies popping out from everywhere to stroke and chat to your amused baby. They are like quick little ninjas. Nowhere to be seen one second and up close the next. You spend a lot of time jumping out of your skin.

The super fast greying phase – Each time you glance at yourself in the mirror, you notice more hair going grey right before your eyes. And it’s all the new hair across your hair line that’s now trying to make up for your luscious locks falling out. You wonder if you’re going to rock the grey look fashionably (like Storm, from X-Men) and realise the texture is changing too so you’re going to look more like Doc Brown from Back to the Future. Great Scott!

You weld a hat to your head – See above.

You practically move into your doctors surgery – You find different things are aching or stiffening up constantly and wonder if your body is having a full on protest after being pregnant for so long. You find yourself at your surgery every other week, either for yourself or your baby. You hope your baby with his old mans cough doesn’t start bouncing about happily once you’re in the GP’s room. Of course, that’s exactly what he does.

Exercise – You start at least thinking about losing some of the baby weight and put on the Insanity DVD on to see what you need to do. You realise you will probably die even after doing the fitness test. You start with the 5 minute Abs app on your phone. Then sleep for two hours.

Pregnancy brain – You still forget what the heck you were talking about mid-sentence or just keep repeating the same conversation over and over. Your husband has clicked second time round and humours you. It’s like your very own version of The Truman show.

Seeing a new newborn – Ahhh the cuteness. You revel in how utterly adorable and tiny they are, how humans can produce such an amazing miracle. With cute whale socks no less.  You wonder if a 3rd may be doable. Who needs hair, right?

  

Crawling to the end of term

We seem to be the only area in the whole country that doesn’t have holidays starting for a whole other week. I was very pleased with this when I saw the calendar months ago as it instantly meant we could go somewhere and potentially pay cheaper prices. What I didn’t anticipate though is that it would feel like a bit of a slog by this week and it feels like we are literally crawling towards the finish line. Just five more days of school to go and we will finally be on holidays. I cannot wait. I think Zs teachers cannot wait either. Everyone at school looks a bit weary and with school germs bouncing about everyone is ready for some good time off.

The other thing I didn’t anticipate is that we would have no clue where to actually go on holiday. I’m a bit nervous taking Baby E on his first trip abroad yet and don’t want to do crazy long connecting flights. That doesn’t stop me looking at deals to the Maldives on the Internet and trying to talk myself into just booking it! (It’s way too far and expensive though). We’ve looked at everything from New York to Miami to Abu Dhabi to Rome to Turkey to Agadir and finally decided on….London baby!

A nice safe trip to Legoland, Windsor and a few lovely days in London being typical tourists and eating lots of good food. It felt very right when we decided and I feel a bit strange for passing up a trip abroad but, for now, this feels right and maybe we will go somewhere in the summer. We haven’t quite booked anything yet but we have always been a bit last minute so that doesn’t bother me much.

Our aim for the next week is to make a firm of determination and crawl to that finishing line to the start of our Easter holidays. We can do this!!
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Happy Half A Year Old – Baby E at 6 months old

Baby E is somehow a whole 6 months old.   6 months old!! I’m not sure how that happened and how it flew by so so quickly but I’m convinced it goes by faster the second time round.  With Z I wished the time away so much, desperate to see him do brand new things and reach those all important and ultra cute milestones. Like the first time they smile, the first time they roll over, the first time they sit up, the first time they start crawling.  I couldn’t wait for him to do one more new thing and I think I missed all the “non-eventful” days in between.  The ones where they just sit about with their feet in their mouths all day long and the ones where you feel like they’re just slobbering all over you.   

With E I’m trying to cherish it all and loving the mundane days.  This isn’t something I’ll probably get again so I’m trying not to wish it away.  It would of course be so perfect if he slept through but i think I’ll even miss the night feeds when they’re no longer needed. Sort of.

Baby E came along a whole 6 months ago, pulled out screaming from my tummy looking like an angry curled up ball.  The husband saw him first as he was lifted above the c-section screen that had been erected.  But, technically, I’d seen him first on a scan a few weeks earlier, when the sonographer had scanned his face for me around 32 weeks and I saw the fine details of a round head and huge eyes looking back at me.  The hubby hadn’t been able to make that particular scan.  I was having them weekly after 30 weeks though so I would just pop in.  “No-one had eyes that big”, I remember thinking to myself.  Surely it was just a “scan thing”. He does have the biggest eyes ever though and they are probably his defining feature, along with his smile.

  
At 6 months he still can’t sit up unaided for very long and tends to lean quickly.  He loves his feet so much, he will launch himself at them as soon as he sees them. I think the majority of photos of him are ones with his feet in his mouth.  He is loving weaning so far and we are intending to switch to baby led over the next month. I think it might be perfect for him.  We have no teeth yet but have a million symptoms of teething. Poor kid, I forgot how irritating teething can be for babies.  He is a very affectionate baby and will slobber, slap and squeal at those he really likes; mainly his parents and his big brother.  His big brother is ultra protective and won’t let us give him any kind of solid food, just in case.  “Babies can’t eat that, don’t give it to him”.  He is overly generous with his “HUGGIES!!” and would dish them out hourly if he could.  Baby E usually lets him know very loudly if it’s one huggy too many. He absolutely loves it first thing in the morning though, which is normally when Z prefers lots of quiet time.  It’s fair to say we’re still searching for balance.  
  
At 6 months I still have no clue how to juggle two children.  I take my hat off to anyone that does this successfully with multiple children. How on earth does one do it?  We are pretty much still winging it 99% of the time and I won’t even mention bedtime.  Thank goodness for wonderful Other Halves.  We are getting better, at everything, but I think it might take another 6 months to get it right.  Having said that, we’re definitely more relaxed about it than the first time round.   Trips out are fine and scrolling through my Instagram shows me a feed that has gone from a stream of newborn baby snaps to one that  is very “me”.  One filled with food, the babies, tea and trips out.  It means I’m hopefully doing ok.    

I’m hoping the next 6 months bring our first holiday as a family and lots of milestones and lots and lots of happy mundane days.  Nice and slowly please.

  

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A better bedtime routine with Johnsons – Two weeks on

A better bedtime routine with Johnson & Johnson – Two weeks on 

 
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Baby E’s bedtime routine and how we would love to make some improvements to it. Back then, we really didn’t have a very structured routine at all. We had fallen into the habit of letting him play and stay up till 10pm most nights. Sometimes he could be going strong till 11pm after which he’d doze off and we would hope he would sleep through till at least 6am the next day. Whilst it was wonderful he was sleeping a long stretch, he was waking Little Z in the evenings with his excited screaming and playful squealing, which of course is not great for a 5 year old that needs to get up for school in the morning.
Over the last two weeks we’ve made some changes and here is how its gone so far:
Stept 1: A better bath for baby. We wanted to introduce a better bath time for the baby including testing out some Johnson & Johnson products. After trialling these out over the last two weeks, we’ve found our favourites are the Johnsons baby bath and the baby oil. Baby E likes to have a bit of a lounge about bath and as long as he can relax, whilst putting his foot into his mouth, he is happy. I think the smell is of the baby bath is just so lovely and relaxing and really helps create a nice relaxed atmosphere. We then follow it up with a mini massage with the bath oil. A tiny bit goes a long it’s not greasy or too thick which is something that can be off putting with baby oils. 

  

 
Step 2: Introducing an evening massage for baby. This is something I did with Little Z many years ago right from when he was a tiny baby and it worked so well. I tried on Baby E when he was a newborn a few months back and he didn’t really seem to enjoy it very much so I abandoned the idea of it back then. We gave it another shot a couple of weeks ago and whilst he still doesn’t enjoy a full massage he does enjoy having his legs and arms massaged and it does help with the wind down. It’s great for a bit of non-rushed one on one time and helps me slow down as much as it does him. Previously we were rushing the entire bath time routine and I think this has helped us just pause for a few minutes each evening.

 

Step 3: Less fooling about and bringing forward bed time. This was one that needed a bit or organising. I have to admit, I’m still not great at dealing with two kiddies at bedtime by myself so it’s always a bit of a team work thing between myself and the Husband. If something goes a bit awry in the evenings then the first thing to go out the window is baby’s bedtime routine as Little Z’s has that much more habit and structure to it. Despite our glitches, I am pleased to say that bedtime is now between 8:30 and 9:00pm for baby and that is a huge improvement in our house. We still need to keep bringing it forward but as Baby E has started teething we are a bit up and down with getting him down for the night. I am hoping that it all settles down over the next couple of weeks but I know teething can be somewhat challenging for some poor babies so its still a case of watch this space with that one. 

  
Bedtime reading. This was suggested as something to include in a structured bedtime routine and we’ve been experimenting with it. Baby E loves looking at the pictures and the whole routine of going through the motions of “reading”. Whilst he can’t really understand what’s being said its another little structured step to more of a routine so we’ll carry on doing this and see what happens. 

  
 

Overall, we’ve found that making some key changes and introducing some new bath and bedtime habits has contributed to a much calmer evening for Baby E and its helped us all have a more relaxed evening overall. It’s also meant less disturbances for Little Z. Whilst we’re still a way off having a bedtime bang on 7pm I think all the little changes have really improved things. I think teething has thrown a bit of a spanner in the works but we’re going to carry on bringing bedtime forward until we get to the 7 or 8pm point. The prospect of having an entire evening free again is very exciting but, right now, its rather lovely to have some Baby E time where he’s all playful so I may even settle for a 8:30pm bedtime. We’ll see!

 

Sponsored blog post by the JOHNSON’S® brand. I have received payment incentive and samples but all opinions are my own. JOHNSON’S® clinically proven bedtime routine consists of bath, massage and quiet time, tested on babies 7 months+, 1 week+ use.

 

 

We're going on an adventure

Six months of school

The other day, Zs teacher commented on how big baby E has gotten, how time flies by way too quickly and how Z has now been at school for 6 months.  Six months of school!

I’ve often wanted to blog about his antics at school but have suddenly been bothered by maintaining a level of privacy for him.  His world has become much bigger with the start of reception. So many friends, so many parents, so many teachers. And with that, the Internet becomes a much smaller place.  His friends will soon become savvy enough to start using the Internet.  Their parents even more.  I’m not sure how comfortable I feel about another child or adult that knows of him to be reading detailed accounts of what’s he’s been up to.  So, for now, I’ve kept him off a lot.  Of course this whole worry with privacy may fade away and I’ll go back to blogging about him but at the moment I’ll keep it a bit more general.

It’s been a mad six months. Z can now read! And write! And do phonics!  It feels like it’s been a few intense months of phonicing them to death, but they’ve just done their last sound this week.  I find it amazing that they’ve all come on so quickly in such a short space of time. Z loves writing but not spellings so much.   But then I’m not sure which kid enjoys weekly tests.  He loves sounding out words when we’re out and about and enjoys having a snoop at our phones now.  There are weeks where he just can’t be bothered and wants to be with me.  His regular one is “but you don’t go to work Mummy, why can’t I stay with you?”.  I always want to keep him home those days but I give him the usual pep talk and hand the sulky child over to his lovely teacher.        

I never really appreciated that this year would be a huge life lesson for him and me.  Friendships and socialising has been a huge thing.  Making friends, falling out, learning to play nice, 5 year old playground politics. It’s funny and painful and sad all at once.   You want to cocoon them from the rubbish side of friendship but know it’s something they have to learn by themselves too.  The first school trip caused a tiny bit of anxiety but ended up being a big wonderful adventure.  We now *have* to go again, all of us, according to him.  

The little fussy eater is now trying different foods regularly and, although it’s not always a success, he has expanded his choice of foods. At long last!   Egg sandwiches are the latest addition to his menu and I’m hoping chicken will follow at some stage.  And apple crumble. My kid doesn’t like apple crumble or custard. How terrible is that!

I get the feeling the rest of the school year will fly by at lightning speed and it’ll be the summer holidays before we know it.  And just like that, we’ll be preparing for year one.  Maybe by then I won’t have use Baby E to drag my teenager wannabe out of bed!  

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The kids in this playground

  

The kids in this playground rush about and get there in the morning, ready for school to start. Some looking scruffy, like they’ve got dressed in the dark. Some looking immaculate, with an obvious pride in their appearance.  Some will go home after this, some will rush off to work. Same kids, day in, day out.

The kids in this playground stand about waiting for the bell. Some standing aloof from the others, even half a year on. They don’t like to or aren’t very comfortable with the other kids, even now. Some there only because they have to be. Other kids will be drawn to the same crowd every day. There will be rushed conversations about the latest party. Who was invited? Who wasn’t? Why was that particular kid not invited? News spreads like wild fire in the playground. It’s hard to keep some things quiet.

The kids in this playground worry about spellings. Are they doing enough with their own kids? Is it the test today? Everything will be ok, they assure themselves. They’ve made their kids practice. 

The kids in this playground eye up the boisterous kid. The one that gets a bit too physical with their own kid.  How to deal with him? The kids worry slightly about pushing and shoving. They know though, he doesn’t mean to. And It’s a lovely class and a lovely school.

The kids in this playground gather their things and their own kids as the bell goes and get into line. Bag, check. Water bottle, check. Wellies, check. Mummy kisses, check. Today is exciting. Today is the school trip.  

The kids in this playground let their own kid go into class with a wave goodbye, until 3.30pm when it’s time to pick them up. They leave the school gates with one last backward glance and a silent prayer. “Please God, let my kid have a brilliant time on his very first school trip”.