Sunday, August 29, 2010

Day 41 - He's on the phone.

J-cub is now having full on conversations on his toy phones. Usually with one of us, although when we made it ring early, he picked up the handset and held it out to Tilly, then when she didn't take it, he placed it carefully on her back. Bless.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Day 40 - Wrapping in Cardiff Bay

I got two early birthday presents today. A new camera and my first ever woven wrap. The wrap actually arrived a couple of days ago but J-cub has been spectacularly uncooperative during our practise sessions and so I haven't been brave enough to try taking it out anywhere.

A close friend has his 40th birthday on Tuesday, and we went to Cardiff Bay to celebrate with him today. We bravely went out with no buggy, and no back-up Mei Tai. I got J-cub in and out of the wrap 3 times, learning a little more each time.

It's so comfy, so soft, and so much more supportive than I would have expected. I found it a little difficult to get the tightness right, as evidenced by the slightly wonky wrap below.

J-cub loved it though, and was super-excited to see lots of other babies, dogs and ducks from his vantage point.

There was a French food market in the Bay and we wandered around all the stalls, eating crepes and dodging the wasps which were besieging the sweet stalls. The market had thoughtfully laid on a massive fenced-in sandpit, complete with buckets and spades, where we dumped J-cub and ate our crepes. He lasted about 10 minutes before we were forced to remove him to stop him throwing sand at a fellow toddler. When Jamie picked him up and walked away, the child pointed at J-cub and said "No throwing!". I wish J-cub would understand that kind of sentiment rather than just smiling sweetly at us.

We didn't manage to stay very long at the actual party, as the pub was child-unfriendly and we were limited to a tiny room off the main bar, with no highchairs and nowhere for J-cub to work out his energy. Tantrums ensued.

We've rescheduled with them for later in the week to make up for skipping out early.

It was a lovely day though, and I came home buzzing from my babywearing success. It's so much easier to nip through crowds without a buggy and we got lots of admiring glances, mostly from older children. I feel a new addiction is starting...

Day 39 - Blog update (2)

(Friday August 27th)

It stopped raining today!

I was supposed to be going to a meeting of local babywearers for the first time which I was really looking forward to, especially after all the rain over the last week. Waking up this morning to find a gorgeous sunny day, but to still feel like my head is stuck in a pile of cotton wool was horrible.

Instead we spent a lazy day tearing up reams of toilet paper (when one of us took their eye off the other, and didn't respond to the ominous silence quickly enough), sleeping, almost running, falling over, playing in the (HOT!) garden and not eating wiggly worms. Because I have the reflexes of an archerfish.

On the bright side, we learnt the sign for worm.

J-cub refused a nap at 2pm, but conked out in the ring sling during the washing up at around 4pm and was quickly spirited into the cot. I had to wake him at 5.30, which I hate doing but I knew he'd never sleep tonight if I didn't, and I was royally punished with an ear-splitting, floor-thumping, kicking, biting, hitting, screaming tantrum which lasted over an hour.

He therefore didn't get his dinner til gone 7pm, but seemed happy enough watching funny kitten videos on youtube for the rest of the evening until bedtime at just before 9. Sometimes you just have to do what you have to do.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

And now the blog is up to date again! We've got an excitingly busy weekend coming up (it's my birthday on Monday, fact-fans) but I'll be back to share my spoils by Tuesday at the latest. Happy Bank Holiday!

Day 38 - ??

(Thursday August 26th)

Still poorly, and I had to cancel a playdate, which made me a feel a bit stir-crazy all day (there's nothing like soft-play for getting rid of some toddler energy). Plus I'm not sleeping, and 3 hours of lying awake in bed is not very good for the soul.

Normal service will resume shortly...

Day 37 - ?

(Wednesday August 25th)

I spent more of today being ill, having now most definitely come down with a cold.

I can't think of a single other thing I did (other than baby-wrangling, of course).

Hmmm. Must try harder.

Day 36 - Liony bum

(Tuesday August 24th)

I bought J-cub some awesome leggings off ebay (it's not too early to be preparing for winter, right?) and they arrived today. One pair has a lion playing the piano on the back, and the other has a frog playing an accordion. They are ridiculously cute, especially over his big cloth-bum.

He seemed to know just how adorable he was being, and did his best ANTM-style fierce poses for me (check out the hip flung out to one side...) whilst munching on a nectarine (yes, there is a nectarine in there somewhere).

The rest of the day, predictably, was spent chalking. And J-cub absolutely, categorically, did not eat any chalk.

He did though draw a fish. We've been playing a game where he hands off the chalk to one of us, we draw one of his favourite animals, then he scribbles over it. Our fish are of the single-swooping line variety, and after watching us do this over and over again, he made a very passable attempt at it. See, in the bottom left, the massive head/body and the tiny triangular tail? And the eye? How clever is he?

Day 35 - Milk please!

(Monday August 23rd)

Not much happened today, my hayfever tablets stopped working and/or I started to come down with a cold.

In communication news, J-cub used signing for the first time without prompting or seeing something that he knows the sign for. It was a few hours after he'd woken up, when (if I was on the ball) I would normally have started asking him if he was ready for bed. I'd said nothing, and so he let me know it was time by coming over to the sofa, picking up a cushion and placing it on the floor, then sitting on it and signing 'milk'.

We spent the rest of the day mostly covered in chalk.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Day 34 - New boots

(Sunday August 22nd)

During our trip to Asda the other day we scored J-cub his first pair of Wellington boots for the bargainous price of £4. They're probably not terribly good for his feet at that price but his feet grow so fast that he'll be out of them soon, and I'm sick of having to stay inside when it's raining because he doesn't have appropriate footwear.

We tried them out in the rain-sodden garden and they were deemed a great success. He still can't make the trike go forwards though.

The rain had been disastrous in our garden: the stand which was supporting a growbag full of strawberries and 2 pots of tumbling cherry tomatoes collapsed, pulling down the French bean wigwam which had trained itself around the top bars.

While J-cub investigated here and there...

I righted the growbag (the strawberries survived), chucked out all the slug-eaten tomatoes, and harvested all the French beans. I cut the grass and got the garden back to a baby-friendly state, seconds before it started to pour with rain again.

We had a lovely stir-fry of French beans (amongst other foods) for dinner, I'm just gutted that that'll be the last of them now.

(This is my 200th post! Should really be something more momentous, really.)

Day 33 - Chalk it up...

(Saturday August 21st)

J-cub's passion for drawing has been taken up a notch by the purchase of some chunky chalks. No more little tiny pieces of crumbly, edible chalk which he can barely hold and which make hardly a mark on the old blackboard. Instead, these lovely things make chalking J-cub's new favourite activity.

We tried to instil a rule whereby if he used chalk on anything other than the blackboard (the carpet, the TV, my shoulder...) it would be immediately removed. Cue screaming tantrums and frantic pointing and grunting at the box of chalks. Even attempts at doing alternative activities (like nappy changing, eating or sleeping...) elicited J-cub's first self-invented sign, a very precise finger-wiggle in the air, just like scribbling on a blackboard.

Returning the piece (or pieces) of chalk to him made him extremely happy. I think we've created a monster.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Day 32 - Ringslinging

(Friday August 20th)

Probably stemming from a lack of sleep yesterday, J-cub was very clingy today. I had tons to get on with, but he didn't want to be left alone for a second. This is getting to be more and more the norm, with our time in the living room spent with me watching J-cub play, because he doesn't want interference from me, but equally he doesn't want me to do anything else. If I pick up the laptop, he slams the lid of it shut. If I pick up a book, he tears it out of my hand and throws it away.

He does love reading together, and drawing together, and singing nursery rhymes etc, but most games descend into rough and tumble play which can get a bit too rough and tumbly for my liking. The boy loves headbutting, and biting, and smacking, and throwing things. I'm not too keen on any of these.

So I'm taking to babywearing more and more around the house, in an attempt to keep up with day-to-day housework whilst simultaneously having nice calm, gentle cuddles with no violence. J-cub's favourite job is washing up, he especially likes it if I let him hold his hand under running water and flick bubbles around. But he's equally content to sit and watch, as long as I keep up a running commentary or sing to him. Today, the Mei Tai was in the car and it was raining, so I gave the ring sling another go. I'm not overly keen on the ring sling, it's not great for long carries as one-shoulder carries are uncomfortable with a heavy toddler, and I'm not experienced enough to stop worrying that he's going to fall out.

Today, the ring sling and I (and J-cub) clicked. I managed to get him in a really comfortable, secure position on my hip, and after some ring-positioning practice, got him onto my back. He sat there perfectly happily, resting his head on my shoulder and watching me work. It was lovely.

We had to go out to Asda later for some bits and bobs, and I took the ring sling as it was still raining and there's very few parent and child parking spaces. I got him in the sling quickly and put my waterproof coat on top of both of us. He stayed there happily until the excitement of several babies being pushed around the children's clothing aisle got too much for him and I had to switch him into the trolley.

I'm now kicking myself that at the last NCT Nearly New sale I attended, I passed up a beautiful Ellaroo ring sling for the bargainous price of £9. Instead I have a cheap and extremely thin plain cotton one for about £3 from ebay. I suppose it does the trick, but it would be so nice to have something a bit more sturdy. I'll be at the sling table at the next sale with bells on.

Day 31 - Monkey legs

(Thursday August 19th)

An important First today - First day of No Naps. Gah. J-cub usually sleeps for at least 2 hours in the morning, near enough 2 hours on the dot from when he wakes up, and still often has a 2 hour nap in the afternoon too. I knew this morning was going to be a bit out of sync, as we had a playdate planned for 11am at a soft play centre about 30 minutes drive away. J-cub had shown no sign of being sleepy before we left, so I hoped he would nap in the car and not be too grumpy when we got there.

No such luck - wide awake all the way there and practically bouncing off the walls when we got inside. My lovely friend Rhian and her daughter Poppy were already there, and we quickly chucked the little ones into the toddler area and got on with some good chatting. Poppy and J-cub were both so full of beans that we got just as much of a workout as they did, climbing up slopes and ladders after them, sliding down slides, getting stuck at the very top and having to ask young children to show us the way down.

We broke for lunch and Poppy put J-cub to shame by perfectly eating a plate of cheese and tomato pasta using her fork to spear and eat every single piece. J-cub enjoyed holding his fork in one hand and shovelling in beans on toast with the other. He did manage to eat the whole meal without throwing any on the floor, so that's a start.

After some more playing we called it quits and left for home. J-cub slept for less than 10 minutes (car-induced sleep rather than a proper nap, so it doesn't count), and came into the house wide-awake and bouncing.

We'd picked up a parcel from the sorting office on the way, and it was some goodies from Babykind. I'd never bought anything from them before, but someone recommended them to me as having cheap postage and as I only needed a few things, I was pleased not to have to double the cost of my order with postage costs. For orders under £20, they charge just £1 postage which is very unusual. I needed some nappy sanitizer, a new mesh bag for the nappy pail, some Babylegs (not strictly needed, but they were on offer) and some old Green Parenting magazines. My order came to just over £20 so I paid the £2 postage, and when I picked up the parcel I was gobsmacked to see it had cost them over £8 to send it. It's definitely worth a look at their informative and well-stocked online shop, and there's tons of bargains to be had if you've got the time to wade through their massive list of bargain items.

J-cub's favourite item was his ToodleBugz, baby leg warmers covered with monkeys. He's still loving pretending to be a monkey at the moment, and having legs covered with monkeys led to much hilarity all afternoon.

J-cub went to bed at his usual time of 7pm, not appearing any more tired than usual. I was shattered.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Day 30 - The boy eats curry

Ahhh it's so lovely to be up to date and only have one blog post to write today.

It's Jamie's day off today, and we kicked off the morning with a couple of hours play, as per usual, followed by an awesome three hour nap, which rather left me and Jamie twiddling our thumbs once we'd finished our usual showering/shaving/dressing/make-uping/tidying/cleaning routine. I do wish J-cub would tell us when he's going for a long sleep.

Still, at least it meant that by the time he'd woken up, had his lunch and got dressed, he had no time to make a mess of the lovely tidy lounge before we went out. We went to see some friends who bravely have three children, and spent the afternoon being dragged in various directions by all four of them, whilst attempting to maintain some semblance of adult conversation at the same time. It was lovely though, but J-cub got a bit overtired and grouchy when he wanted the blue ball, and Seren had the blue ball, and he didn't want the orange ball, even though it was identical, and Seren didn't want the orange ball, and she wouldn't give up the blue ball, and they had a big bawling screaming fight. Seren is 2 and a half and should know better. She should hide her balls before J-cub comes to visit.

J-cub absolutely adored their big trampoline, and actually seemed to know how to bounce on it. He liked falling down on it too:

By the time he ran out of steam it was gone 4pm, and we decided to venture into town rather than go straight home, and have dinner out somewhere. We had a quick scout round Toys R Us for a present for a friend's child, then crossed the road to Sainsbury's (oooh the glamour) for our tea. We found that children's meals were just £1 with any adult meal, and we ordered chicken curry and rice for J-cub (it also came with a Fruit Shoot and some fruit, bargain). I may have mentioned before that whilst we've been going through this J-cub-not-eating phase, nursery have reported that he'll happily eat curry, chilli, stew, all kinds of things which he wouldn't dream of touching at home. So we wanted to put him to the test. We had to wait AGES for the food to appear, which made us wish we'd spent another pound to get the child's snack meal to entertain him in the meantime. We managed to unearth some snacks from his change-bag though...

And when the chicken curry arrived, he tucked in with gusto. Using a real adult-sized spoon and fork, he wolfed it down. See, he can eat!

We were just about to leave when it started to hammer down, and with no coats or hats or raincovers we had to splash out (get it) £6.99 on a lovely new golfing umbrella. J-cub thought it was the best thing he'd ever seen:

We managed to get home dead-on 7pm, gave him a bottle, changed him and threw him into bed. It only took him another 2 hours of burbling and playing to fall asleep...

Day 29 - Blog update

(Tuesday August 17th)

I'm about to publish 19 new posts, written over the past few days, cobbled together and had photos added to today. If you want to read them in the right order, you need to go back to Day 11 and scroll up. I think it's 3 pages back.

Thanks to Emily and Rach P for giving me a little kick to get on with it, there's nothing like someone telling me they're reading the blog/missing my posts for me to think "Argh, I haven't written anything for WEEKS!".

It's just gone 1am and I'm shattered.

But J-cub said "Tilly" this morning, so it's not all bad ;)

I apologise in advance for the (poor) quality of my writing, the fact that some posts are quite scanty, any typos which I haven't caught, and the abundance of smilies. Sometimes, needs must.

Give me some comments, go on, you know you want to. It gives my life meaning again. And virtual cake tastes delicious.

Good night.

Day 28 - Shopping and signing

(Monday August 16th)

J-cub and I went on a much-needed trip to Tesco today. We've been home for a whole week and managed not to do any food shopping at all, so the cupboards were quite literally bare. I had a massive shopping list and a very tired baby, but no other time to do it so we didn't have much choice.

Despite his tiredness, J-cub was a little angel. On arrival, we walked from the car to the front of the store to get a trolley. J-cub walked next to me, holding my hand. He's never done that before, he thinks hand-holding is the devil's work and usually refuses point blank or tries to pull his arm off. Today, after a little squeal, he accepted I wasn't going to change my mind and he walked happily along. It was all hot and sunny, and loads of people were smiling and cooing at him. And I must admit, he was quite the little cool dude:

He put up with sitting in the trolley for nearly an hour, he only threw a few things on the floor, and he happily chewed on a bag of frozen peas when his gums got too much to bear.

My Proudest Mummy Moment Ever came when we got to the checkout, I pushed the trolley up next to the conveyor belt, and started unloading. J-cub turned around, saw what I was doing, and started helping. Seriously. He took all the items he could reach and carefully placed them on the conveyor belt. Except for the baby spinach, which he threw on the floor. I also rescued the eggs from his grasp, just in case. But other than that, he was amazing! He got a yummy and very un-baby-friendly jam-filled Welsh cake for his troubles.

When we'd put all the shopping back in the car, we returned the trolley and walked up to Boots to get some bits and bobs. Again, he walked along, holding my hand. We encountered two small dogs, and J-cub barked at them. Really. His animal noises now include monkey ('Eeee-eeee-eeee'), cat ('eooooow'), snake ('sssssss') and dog ('oooo oooo'). He had a mini-meltdown in Boots but quickly fell asleep when we got back in the car.

Later on, when Jamie was home, we played our new favourite game of Google image search. This involves one parent sitting where they can't see the laptop, while the other searches for ducks, or monkeys, or fish, or whatever. And the other parent has to guess what it is from J-cub's signs/sounds.

Previously, he'd done monkey.

Tonight, he signed giraffe, fish, crab, lion, apple, baby, nappy and milk, and made sounds for dog, cat, snake and monkey, and said 'Duck'. At the end of the game, the buzzer sounded indicating his milk was warmed. He picked up a cushion, lay down on the floor with it and signed 'milk'.

I'm so so happy we've stuck with the baby signing, it's amazing to be able to communicate with him all of a sudden.

Day 27 - "Garden!"

(Sunday August 15th)

We've been talking recently about J-cub's lack of language, having read that at 18 months you should expect a child to have between 6 and 20 words. J-cub barely has 3, if you count 'Mama', 'Dada' and 'Uh-oh!'. I know you shouldn't worry about this sort of thing, and I also know that babies who sign speak later. But when I hear tales of similarly aged babies having numerous words it does make me worry.

Today J-cub took a step forward by standing by the stairgate into the kitchen, pointing outside and saying very firmly "Garden!". We immediately reinforced it by taking him into the garden, and he now asks to go out regularly. It's lovely.

Day 26 - New toy storage

(Saturday August 14th)

As previously mentioned, we made our second trip of the week to IKEA on Wednesday, and bought some Trofast units to store J-cub's stuff in the lounge. His toys and bits and bobs were getting out of hand and we're fully aware that it's only going to get worse as he gets older, so we got some large units which will be suitable to move into his bedroom when he's older and has a proper sized room.

We didn't have time to put them together until today, but they proved very easy to assemble and we had them both done and up while he napped. He was very excited to come down and find a new climbing frame to play on (fixed to the wall, of course).

During his second nap of the day, we managed to get all the toys organised and put away, with lots of spare room for nappies and floor mats etc. Excuse the mess in the surrounding area, at this point I hadn't had time to sort everything else out.

J-cub got very excited (again) to come down and find he could just about spy his toys but had to learn a new sliding motion to get them out.

The bookcase which was previously in that corner has been moved to just inside the door, which makes it easier to access his books and easier for me to tidy them away again.

There was plenty of room for all his lovely nappies, with a small tray to hold a day's worth of nappies and wipes which I can take out each time I change him, meaning I don't have to run around gathering things up before nappy changes. Yay!

Mmmmm nappies....

Of course no trip to IKEA would be complete without a lot of associated unneeded tat, and Wednesday's haul included a fabric fruit basket filled with play fruit. We soon found that the basket made a perfect Davy Crockett hat:

IKEA Cardiff isn't quite as child-friendly as IKEA Bristol, as the play area has 3 separate exits, none with gates, which meant I was kept busy stopping J-cub from making a run for it. A little girl proved much more effective than I by enveloping him tightly in a hug and kissing him smack on the lips. He looked very shell-shocked ;)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Day 25 - In the garden

(Friday August 13th)

Hmmmm I hadn't realised it was Friday the 13th until I typed the date above. That might account for why I went into a bit of a shutdown and found it hard to function all day.

Still, we had some fun playing in the sunshine in the garden:

And J-cub once again 'helped' me in the garden. And ate some French beans straight off the wigwam. Yum.

Day 24 - Naps are for losers

(Thursday August 12th)

I hadn't written any notes for today, so had to look back through my emails to Jamie (who was at work) to find out what we'd done. After a very late night last night, J-cub and I got up at 10am. 10! It didn't seem like a longer rest than normal though, as he'd gone to bed past midnight and I surely would have spent some time chilling before I went to bed.

At 12pm, 2 hours after he got up, he looked tired so I put him down for a nap. He gurgled and whinged for a while, I gave up and got him up again for his lunch.

At 2pm I emailed Jamie saying:
I can't actually believe he might have gone to sleep. He finished his lunch, threw the bits he didn't want over his shoulder, had a long drink, then came and climbed on the sofa with me, I read the Gruffalo's Child to him about 6 times, we got scared of all the monsters, then played happy monsters to get unscared, then had some songs and lots of raucous laughter, he got the hiccups, then started swiping at his eyes. Are you tired, my love? I asked. He climbed off my lap, toddled over to the door and grabbed the handle. I swooped him up into the cot and have literally not heard a peep since. Thank heavens for small mercies.
Apparently, he woke again not long after and I was shattered by the end of the day. But he spontaneously signed 'teddy bear' and signed 'crocodile' in imitation of Justin on Something Special. So not all bad ;)

Day 23 - Imaginative play

(Wednesday August 11th)

Another trip to IKEA today (inspired by our fleeting visit on Monday, which I'll write more about later). When we got home, J-cub was playing around when he came across my ring sling, and put it around his neck. He picked up his new IKEA cat and brought her to me, I tucked her in and tightened the sling appropriately.

He wandered off and played with his toys with the cat in the sling for ages, stopping from time to time to give her a kiss:

How cute is that?

Day 22 - Back in cloth

(Tuesday August 10th)

It was such a relief today to reach for the bag of cloth nappies rather than a disposable. Out of necessity, we'd used disposables all throughout our holiday - we knew it was going to be a busy week without much time for laundry, and as my parents had an extra 3 adults and a toddler staying with them the demands on their washing machine would be much higher than normal without the added burden of my fluff.

I have to say that it is easier, and quicker, changing a disposable nappy. Plus there's pretty much no worrying about leaks, and it's much lighter to carry around 5 disposable nappies than 5 cloth. All that aside, I missed the cloth nappies so much! Convenience, speed and lightness of travelling aren't really important to me, and I felt guilty every time we reached for a disposable. I can't believe we took so long to switch to cloth, I'm such a convert now.

Plus, however many disposables you take with you, you can still run out. When we went to the beach, we took 5 disposables and 2 swim nappies. As I was carrying him in the Mei Tai, we elected not to use the swim nappies when we went paddling, as swim nappies just contain solid matter, and the rest just runs right out. I didn't fancy having that running down my back. So by the end of the day we'd worked our way through 4 of the nappies. I lay him down and changed him into the last clean nappy ready for the 2 hour journey home. Once finished, I picked him up and stood him by the car. He took hold of the side of the car, stood on tiptoes, and made his poo face. Oh dear.

A frantic search through the car ensued. Could we put him in a swim nappy and put one of the used disposables on top? Or lay a muslin inside one of the used nappies? Walk all the way back down to Spar and buy a whole pack of Pampers, while he stood around in a filthy nappy?

I eyed the stack of muslins sadly and thought that if we were using cloth, it wouldn't have been a problem. I could have just whipped off the dirty nappy, folded the muslins into a nappy shape and covered them with the wrap.

Thankfully, my ever-trusty swim bag came up trumps again (remember we found a tiny newborn hat to stave off the wind?), and we found a too-small but clean disposable languishing in the bottom of it.

From now on, even if we're on holiday using disposables, I'm going to be lugging a cloth nappy and a wrap around with me, just in case.

Day 21 - IKEA rocks

(Monday August 9th)

Today was the last day of our holiday, and we set off on our journey mid-morning. We were making good time until the middle of Somerset, when the traffic on the motorway suddenly slowed down, then stopped. Jamie hastily found some traffic news on his mobile and it became apparent that 2 bad accidents meant we were in for a long delay. J-cub was already getting fussy so we came off the motorway and found an alternative route so we could at least keep moving. Our route took us through Bristol, and as we emerged from the city around lunchtime we decided to go to IKEA for lunch.

It was a brilliant idea. Not only were children's meals only £1.25, they were also small versions of the adult meals, rather than the usual crap-and-chips options. J-cub had meatballs, boiled potatoes and gravy. Yum. They were offering free fruit with children's meals, and we were given a banana, an orange and 2 apples. And free coffee for us.

There was a children's play area in the food area; an enclosed octagonal area with interactive tactical walls, dioramas set into the floor, and tons of soft toys and balls. Around the outside edge was raised seating for parents. It was fantastic. After our lunch, J-cub played in there while Jamie and I sat and drank our coffee. J-cub made lots of friends and took great delight in playing catch with the soft footballs.

We went for a quick wander through the children's IKEA section afterwards, and J-cub picked up a softer-than-soft cat and begged to take it home. He hugged it all the way to the checkouts, was parted briefly for the lady to scan it and then hugged it back to the car and all the way home. Awwww.

We've been to that IKEA before, but not for several years and I had a bit of a panic attack as I'd never been in one before and I didn't like not being able to see the exit. I'm a bit more seasoned now, having spent a lot of time in IKEA Cardiff, and it was much easier to cope with. At least half of our furniture comes from IKEA, and I fricking love it. If I lived nearer to Bristol, I'd be choosing it over a soft play centre anyday. Thank you, IKEA.

Day 20 - I thoroughly disgrace myself

(Sunday August 8th)

I won't linger on this entry. Suffice to say we checked out of the hotel dead on 12pm, I walked to the car, started to drive, and realised that actually, motion wasn't a very good idea.

An hour later, my fantastic sister had rescued me (on the day after her wedding, oh the guilt) by walking 20 minutes to where we were parked, driving us back to her house, getting me clean clothes to wear and tucking me into her bed. When she returned to check on me, I had a blanket tightly wrapped around my head because "my hair's cold". Oh dear.

About 4 hours later I woke up and felt sufficiently human enough to drive the 5 miles to my parents house. They were surprisingly understanding, had been happy to look after J-cub all day, and reassured me that they'd all been just as ill in their misguided youth (and reminded me of the fact that I've only been out drinking once in the more than 2 years since I found out I was pregnant) and it happens to the best of us. And I went back to bed for another 2 hours.

Silly Beth.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Day 19 - My beautiful sister gets married

(Saturday August 7th)

A day in pictures. A day with no tears at all, not a one. Certainly not a sister-of-the-bride who cried constantly throughout the service and barely stopped for the next couple of hours. And certainly not from all the family and friends gathered when my mum read her self-penned reading about her love for my sister, which was quite simply the most beautiful thing I've ever heard.

And my sister was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. And I'm not crying now, remembering it, honestly I'm not.

Sadly, J-cub had a meltdown seconds before the ceremony was due to start, so he was banished to the foyer area with Jamie to watch live on the video link, and I acted as ring-bearer ;)

The ceremony was held at Haldon Belvedere, a stunning tower with views across the whole of Devon. Inside the tower, a spiral stone staircase leads up to the room where the ceremony was held. We were serenaded by music from the soundtrack of Amelie Poulain, which I didn't know about, and was very excited as it's one of my favourite films and it was a perfect accompaniment as Sebastien is half-French.

Photograph © Brendan Barry

By the time the register was signed, J-cub had calmed down (the lovely staff downstairs took time out from preparing the drinks to blow some bubbles for him) and he came back up for the signing and photos. He managed to wander in and out of most of the official photographs.

Photograph © Brendan Barry

My dad's sister Susie came over from Canada for the wedding, she sat next to me during the ceremony and held my hand throughout, which helped stem the tears a little. When we came downstairs again afterwards I kept making my mum and sister cry with my over-emotionalness, and I love this photo of us having a mummy-sandwich ;)

Photograph © Brendan Barry

J-cub was still a bit ratty after the service so we jumped in the car and drove around for an hour, trying to get him to drop off. It didn't work but he did retreat into a restful bubble which seemed to revive him a bit. It meant that again we missed most of the official photographs, but we've had copies of them all and they're amazing. This is one of my favourite shots, on top of the tower. You wouldn't know it was swathed in mist and drizzling up a storm.

Photograph © Brendan Barry

We had pink champagne with raspberries to match the flowers, and non-alcoholic raspberry punch for those of us who were driving. The bride got a little bit tipsy fairly quickly ;)

The wedding breakfast was held at the nearby Cridford Inn, and the food was gorgeous. Our dessert was a chocco cup - an edible plate, spoon and cup filled with the most delicious chocolatey yumminess I've ever tasted. I swear I took about 45 minutes to eat it, I just had to savour every mouthful (plus I had to change a rather disgusting nappy right in the middle of it).

After lunch we returned to my parents' house so J-cub could have a proper nap in his cot (for nearly 3 hours - yay!) and we could all have a rest. Meanwhile, my sister and her new husband went to their hotel in Exeter and quite possibly carried on drinking a fair bit. The sun came out at last, and they had some beautiful photos taken in front of Exeter Cathedral.

Photograph © Brendan Barry

The reception was just across the Cathedral green, at the Royal Clarence hotel, where Seb's uncle (Michael Caines, superstar) has his restaurant. The hotel was sumptuous, and we'd arranged for a cot as we weren't sure where J-cub was going to sleep. He came up to check into our room with us, walked straight over to the phone on the nightstand and picked up the handset. J-cub rocks.

Our bed was massive, and our massive baby was dwarfed by it. He quickly found that it was big enough for him to stand up and run across (*argh!*).

After a bottle break, we joined the reception fun and my slightly-the-worse-for-wear sister happily sat and blew bubbles for J-cub. I'm sad these photos aren't better, as it was beautiful to see.

After more tearful family reunions (most of our extended family didn't come to the ceremony as it was very small, but everyone came to the reception), we sat down and dug in to the buffet while my Uncle Billy's fiancee Sue ran around after J-cub. It was great having so many baby-wrangling hands on tap.

I may have eaten several of the wedding cupcakes, they were AWESOME.

After the dinner we let off fire lanterns on the Cathedral green, and J-cub was transfixed by them.

J-cub then spent about half an hour running around in the dimpsy light on the green in his PJs while dusk fell. We went back in to join the dancing and J-cub danced for the very first time! I managed to get some of it on (very dark) video:

He ran out of steam not long after, and we retired to our room to try and get him down. Less than half an hour later (when he was still bouncing on the bed), my mum rang to say they were going home and they'd take him with him. He happily went off with them and we were left with no responsibility for the rest of the night. We carried on dancing until the end of the reception (and not drinking at all, oh no, as you can see from this photo):

Photograph © Brendan Barry

And after the reception was over, Jamie and I decided to go out for some proper dancing in an Indie club. And that's the last I remember...

Day 18 - Family fun

(Friday August 6th)

We all spent the day at home today, having lunch and photos and with lots of visitors dropping in and out all afternoon to wish my sister and her fiance love and luck.

J-cub thoroughly charmed all and sundry by being utterly charming:

...and playing some kind of weird envelope-based game with his Uncle (to be) Sebbo.

Later in the afternoon, someone delivered the cupcakes for the wedding cake, which were stored in the garage and we had to keep going out for a quick look at because they were SO beautiful. I wanted a tower of cupcakes for my wedding, but I was argued down by my mum, who thought it was weird. My sister always gets what she (and I) want(s).

Due to these frequent garagey trips, the inner door from the utility room down some steps into the garage was propped open, as was the door from the utility room down some steps into the garden. J-cub decided this was a perfect opportunity to try out his stair skills, by climbing from the garden, across the utility room, and down into the garage (and vice versa), over and over again. The garage was empty and very echoey, and perfect for an impromptu baby disco. We practised singing and shouting and dancing (spinning around) and generally had a whale of a time with nothing for him to Not Touch and lots of room for him to run around. If I lived there, I'd so turn the garage into a playroom, it would be AWESOME.

Day 17 - Date night

Jamie and I went out!

We spent the day shopping in Exeter and visiting with my sister, then had an early dinner with my Uncle who'd flown home from Riyadh for my sister's wedding. He's my mum's littlest brother, and he's lovely. I haven't seen him (or any of my relatives, for that matter, they're all scattered very far and wide) since our wedding 8 years ago. I'd been worried that J-cub might find him a bit much, as he's very tall and loud, and it had taken J-cub a long time to warm up to my parents and sister. But no, it was like they'd known each other all their lives. Within minutes of him arriving, they were having a very serious conversation while J-cub transferred magnets from the fridge to the radiator (a job which took him all week).

After dinner, we sneaked off for a hasty wash and brush up and drove back to Exeter to see Inception. In the first half-hour or so, it seemed a bit block-bustery, and I was worried Jamie wasn't enjoying it. As soon as Ellen Page popped up, I was sure he'd be quite happy. I loved it. It's still spinning round in my head now (ha) and I've been having the most bizarre dreams ever since.

Oh and a quick message to the DICK who was sitting next to me (not Jamie, on the other side): It is not acceptable to take one, let alone several phone calls at the cinema, especially when your side of the conversation involves nothing more than the sentences "Alright?"/"I'm in the cinema"/"Inception"/"Nah I can't talk now"/"I'll call you later" repeated ad nauseum. Just turn your fracking phone off.

Day 16 - Polzeath

(Wednesday August 4th)

Another blast to the past today, we spent the day at Polzeath beach in North Cornwall. We had all our holidays here when I was little, every summer for as long as I can remember (and probably a long time before I can remember) we spent a week staying in holiday flats or cottages here, and drove down for day trips most weekends. It's the best beach, it's the beach that all beaches make me think of, and it's more like going home there than anywhere else (my parents don't live in the same house I grew up in).

I hadn't been for about 4 years, and I've been fantasising about taking J-cub there since he was born. We were a little unsure about going, as the weather forecast was doubtful, and we woke to pouring rain. In fact, we drove through pouring rain, right into Cornwall where it suddenly started to lighten up. When we got there, it was almost sunny, but we were practically knocked over by a freezing wind when we got out of the car. We swapped our nice beach attire for the warmest emergency jumpers we had in the car, our waterproof coats, and winter hats all round (unfortunately, we only had a sunhat for J-cub, which kept blowing off. I managed to unearth a warmish hat in the depths of our swimming bag, but it was newborn size and we could barely squeeze it on. And not one of the shops there sold warm children's hats. You'd think it was supposed to be Summer.

Just after the above photo was taken, I spied another babywearing mama carrying a tiny baby in a stretchy wrap, and her partner had their older child in a framed rucksack. She spied me at the same time and we exchanged smiles and pointed each other out to our respective husbands. I was too shy to go and say hello though, although I did make the point later on of searching to see if she'd seen me in the "I saw a real babywearer!" thread on naturalmamas. Sadly no mention of me, but then I was again too shy to make a post of my own.

We didn't let the bitter wind stop our beachy fun, and happily dove head-first into the sand for some sandcastle building...

... some climbing in and out of a large hole.

After we'd finished with the sand, we trugged round the shops, ate a chippy lunch out of the wind in a cafe, and wandered back up to the car when J-cub got tired out. Jamie popped him in the buggy and pushed him round til he fell asleep while I lay the front passenger seat back in the car, put my feet on the dashboard and had a blissful hour's sleep. I felt like a proper Dad.

When I woke up, it was to the strange feeling of being warm. Very warm. I got out the car to find J-cub had just woken up and the sun had firmly got his hat on. Rather than our original plan of going home mid-afternoon, we decided to stay and make the most of the day, and go down to the sea (Polzeath beach is huge, and it was high tide when we got there. By mid-afternoon, it was low tide, and it's like a different beach. There are massive exposed rockpools, and the beach seems unending).

After a quick stop in Spar to stock up on picnic supplies, we went down to the sea and J-cub discovered the thrill of sun-warmed rock- and tide-pools. We saw lots of fish and crabs...

...and chased a (seagull)duck half-way across the beach (that tiny blue blur you can see? That's him).

We got back to the car at 6pm, and my little sausage was so worn out that he just lay on the Mei Tai where I'd lowered him to the ground. We had a cobbled together picnic and set off home after 7pm. It was a gorgeous day.