Sunday, March 27, 2011

First beach trip this year

The weather this week has just been amazing for this time of year. On Friday I met a lovely friend on the beach for chats and fun - and it was HOT. I'd dug open J-cub's summer clothes drawer, and he wore shorts for the first time this year (which soon came off, when he fell on his bum in the sea), and my cardi didn't even get anywhere near coming out of my bag.

Beach trips last year involved lots of supervising a very wobbly toddler - stopping him from eating sand, picking him up when he got too tired, and generally being very over-protective. It's all change this year - I sat with the lovely Hannah and her gorgeous 4-month-old Finn while J-cub ran to the sea and back to paddle, collected shells in his bucket, shouted at seagulls and generally had a fab time.

The tide was on its way out and he loved standing ankle deep in the sea, while the retreating waves sucked the sand away until his feet disappeared, and plunging his splayed fingers into the wet sand, then pulling them out to see his handprints instantly disappear.

The sea was bitterly cold, but he had no qualms about it at all, happily standing knee deep and shrieking with laughter as the tiny waves crashed over his bum, until he lost his footing and went completely under.

After I'd hoiked him out, stripped him off and wrapped him in a towel, we sat and cuddled til he was warm and dry, and I dressed him in the spare clothes all sensible mummies take with them everywhere. It hadn't crossed my mind to pack any for myself, and having had to plunge into the sea to get him, then carry his soaking-wet body back to our bags, then sit cuddling him til he warmed up; I was completely soaked through to my pants.

And of course I couldn't just go straight home, I had to go into the Civic Centre first to get some replacement garden recycling bags (which some chancer pinched when we last put them out for collection) in all my dripping glory.

I'll know for next time ;)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spring has Sprung

I forgot just how much more open it feels, when it's warm and sunny. Breaking through the darkness of Winter, and breaking out of the fug of two years of post-natal depression (medication-free for 2 weeks and counting!), we went outside this morning in our pajamas and pottered. And it truly felt like the tightness around my forehead had lifted, and the promise of plenty more days to be spent exclaiming over every spider in the garden and every note of birdsong and every time Tilly or Maeby pounced on something in the grass made everything feel better.

And I'm quite sure that this week of sunshine we've had (which, of course, I've been ill for, hence today being the first day I've been out in it...) will be fondly remembered as the Great British Summer of 2011 - I can't imagine that we'll be blessed with sun in March and in any other month yet to come.

But this morning, while J-cub muddied the seat of his Gruffalo pajamas, and plunged his arms up to the elbows in a bucket full of grungy rainwater, and tipped a bucket of clean water over his head, I pegged the nappies on the line, dug the swing out of the rapidly-growing grass and started clearing the jungle.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Being 2

It seems strange that a particular date, albeit the anniversary of his birth, should have such an impact on who J-cub is, and his development. Maybe it's that our expectations of him have changed - I've certainly noticed that now he's a 'preschooler', I've been spending much more time talking with him about colours and numbers and shapes etc, and surprise surprise, he's totally receptive to doing a bit of learning, can identify and match all his shapes and colours, and will happily demand 'TWO biscuits!' when asked what he would like for a snack.

He's been using 2 word sentences for ages, with the odd 3 word combo thrown in for good measure, but he surprised us completely with a six word sentence the other day - on viewing this brilliant video with me, J-cub said "Mummy show me picture baby happy" which left us with our mouths hanging open in disbelief while he happily skipped away to grind more Cheerios into the carpet.

On Friday of last week, Jamie had a holiday day from work, so we decided to head off for J-cub's birthday trip to Tenby (as we were rained off on his actual birthday). Just before we were about to leave (as in, seconds before), he thought he should just check the opening times for the aquarium we were taking our Nemo-obsessed child to. And, it was closed on Fridays. So we postponed yet again, and went for a walk in the Mumbles instead, where the tide was crazy high due to the Super Moon, the sea was like glass, and the sky was a glorious blue. We had a lovely walk from carpark to playground, where we all sat and ate fish 'n chips on a bench (J-cub ate fish! First time ever (apart from tuna...), no objection at all, no batter, no ketchup, just one of those little wooden forks and away he went) had a quick play, then more of a walk down to the wonderful Verdi's for ice-cream sundaes.

J-cub has had various licks of ice-cream and lots of ice-lollies along the way, but hasn't had his whole own bowl before, let alone a Flake and a wafer. And of course, now that he's 2, it seems perfectly acceptable to fill him up with loads of crap at every opportunity ;).

He wielded his sundae spoon with aplomb, nommed his Flake, stole my wafer and crammed it whole into his mouth before I could protest, and ate from his glass-stemmed bowl without even coming close to an accident. Think we might have to repeat this treat more regularly in the future.

We walked back to the car as the sun set, deftly avoiding the 'I don't want to hold your hand' screams by getting J-cub to hold Bunny's hand, while I held Bunny's other hand. This was the Funniest Thing J-cub had ever encountered, as demonstrated by the smile in the below picture.

(And I won't mention that when we got back to the (just 5-year old) car, the door handle inexplicably fell off. ARGH).

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Several times a day, I get requests for 'Bed, Mummy', which means J-cub would like me to build him a den. I LOVE building dens. We have a massive stack of blankets in the lounge, and lots of cushions, and happily interlocking chairs, which make this pursuit easy and fun. This week's den has been sponsored by the trampoline, and a very simple two-blanket arrangement.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

And then on Saturday, we finally made our way out for J-cub's birthday treat. And of course, we didn't go to Tenby, to the aquarium (cos the car door handle fell off, didn't it, and I didn't fancy leaving the car in a carpark all day, in case someone thought a handle-less car looked an easy prospect) - so we went to Folly Farm instead. Folly Farm was our original birthday destination, until we found that it doesn't open in the week at this time of year. So our crap procrastination actually meant that we got to go where we'd originally wanted to go, in the end, so everyone was happy. Phew.

Few were more happy than this 2-year old, who stroked ponies, and lambs, and chickens, and tortoises, and pigs, and goats, and all kinds of other things. He was particularly happy that one of the donkeys was called Tilly ("Tilly eee-or!"), he nearly had a fit when he saw there were FIVE giraffes (it took us about 20 minutes to walk up the path away from the giraffes, as every 2 steps we had to turn around and wave "Bye-bye, grafs"), and there were almost too many slides to cope with.

It was a beautiful sunny day, which made playing in the sand all the more fun, as I envisaged all the days on the beach soon to come.

Since then, my preschooler has had a horrendously bad haircut (his fault, for not sitting still), learnt the sign for 'salad' (thank you, Mr Tumble) and therefore decided that his favourite meal is salad (anything with a bit of spinach and a carrot or two on it is salad, thankfully), and done his first wee on the potty. We've been reading Pirate Pete's Potty since it arrived, along with a super big frog potty (regular-sized potties are way too small for him) for his birthday.

On Sunday, while running around naked after his bath (and, probably quite dangerously, having his hair cut at the same time), I pointed out several times that he didn't have a nappy on and if he needed a wee, he should go on the potty. He went on the floor first of all, and we had a look at the page in the book where Pirate Pete goes on the floor, and we saw that it doesn't matter at all! J-cub helped me clear it up, then sat down for some more haircutting action. A few seconds later he announced "Mummy wee-wee", grabbed his book and his comb, sat on the potty, started reading and combing his hair and .... he did it! We had such a party, pressed the 'Yeeeaaaaahhhh!' button on the book a million times, and sang a 'Pee pee on the potty' song which Jamie was quick to point out came from Look Who's Talking Too rather than being my own genius creation. I don't care, J-cub loved it, and he danced around in a hilarious fashion, obviously proud of himself.

He now sits on the potty several times a day, although he mostly has his nappy on, at least he knows what it's for.

So there we have it - what a difference a couple of weeks makes. J-cub has his 2 year development check with the health visitor on Thursday, and I'm looking forward to seeing what she makes of him.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

More Birthday Fun

All the family descended today for J-cub's family birthday party ... presents at home followed by a meal out, a walk and a look at the ducks, and a monkey cake in the sunshine.

We managed to do this birthday on the cheap, with a bargainous Brio oven reduced to £13 bought in the January sales, and various extremely cheap Nemo toys/books/bits 'n bobs from last weekend's NCT Nearly New sale. The oven has been a massive hit - and complete with play food from Ikea and a set of toy pots and pans from Auntie Rach, J-cub's been cooking up a storm.

We had lunch in the same place today as we did last year, when J-cub sat in a highchair, was generally quite grumpy and refused all food. Today, he sat on a big chair, happily ate his whole meal using an adult-sized fork, and finished up with jelly and ice-cream.

The beautiful blue skies and blazing sun lulled us into a false sense of 'Ooooh, Spring's here!'. It was fracking cold though, and our walk to feed the ducks (what does it say about me that I first typed 'kill the ducks' just then?!) had to be cut short through fear of ending up with a load of frozen grandparents.

I'd love to be able to say that I made this beautiful monkey cake, but I have to say that I ran out of time (as, I seem to recall, I did last year...) and bought it in Tesco. It was far nicer than anything I could have made. J-cub finished his piece, licked his fingers, and chirped "More cake!" as clear as day.

And now, my boy is 2. Practically all grown up. Tomorrow, he moves up from the Baby Room at nursery to the 'Tweenie' group (for pre-schoolers). I guess that means he's a toddler no more...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Happy 2nd Birthday Jacob

2 years ago, 32.5 hours of labour took me through this... this...

Today, I can hardly believe any time has passed at all. But that little bloody, bright red tiny baby is suddenly, this...

Happy Birthday Jacob x

Sunday, March 6, 2011


March 1st, as well as being St David's Day, marked the 3rd birthday of J-cub's future bride, the daughter of one of our oldest friends. It was her party yesterday, and we happily trekked all the way to Cardiff to celebrate with her. It was a yellow-themed party, with yellow balloons, all-yellow party food, yellow dresses, and yellow decorations. There was also jungle-themed entertainment laid on, with lots of pretending to be animals and game-playing. J-cub has just learned the sign for hippo, and ran around enthusiastically signing 'hippo' and getting upset when no hippo actions/noises/masks were forthcoming. He was about a year younger than most of the children there (although the same size, if not bigger than most of them) and so didn't quite understand most of the games, but enjoyed wearing himself out nonetheless. Most of our pictures show a blur of motion like this, as he ran round and round and round and round...

He also partook in his favourite Tumblies (our gym class) activity of falling dramatically over and the crawling around a bit.

He lapsed into a sugar coma on the way home and awoke with a yell somewhere around Port Talbot, scaring the life out of me and Jamie who were enjoying a peaceful drive and had quite forgotten he was there.

We got home to find the house suspiciously chilly; we'd left the heating on low as we were only going to be gone for a few hours and the house hadn't really warmed up in the morning. After turning the heating back up and waiting a little while, we ascertained that in fact, the radiators weren't hot at all. And there was no hot water. The boiler was on, and firing, and complete with pilot light, but that was it. A few phonecalls later and British Gas confirmed they can't get anyone out until Monday morning.

J-cub chose that moment, for the first time in his life, to stand by the door, saying "Bah, bah" and waving his arms around in a windmill fashion. We had no idea what he was talking about, but having exhausted all the usual options and seen him get more and more frustrated and upset with us, we opened the door so he could show us what he wanted. He scrambled up the stairs and ran into the bathroom. "Bah bah!" he said excitedly. Oh. Bath. For the last I-can't-remember-how-many months, J-cub has hated baths with a passion, has to be dragged screaming upstairs and plonked unceremoniously in the water, where he does actually enjoy himself for all of 3 minutes, before he demands to get out. WHY he chose yesterday to decide he wanted a bath, I have no idea. Poor baby.

Luckily, our shower is electric, so later on today I can fill the bath with water from the shower and he can have a bath. Obviously, he won't want one by then.

We dug an old electric fan heater out of the garage (not used for 10 years, still pristine-looking and perfectly functional), and used it to heat his bedroom and upstairs last night. Lots of hot coffee, hot food and blankets kept us warm last night, and we're off out today to warm up somewhere. I was woken by loud teeth-chattering yells this morning, and J-cub is now wearing about 20 layers and we haven't opened the curtains yet, so we can retain what little heat we have.

We would strongly appreciate some collective vibes for an easily-fixable problem, rather than a replacement boiler ... please ... ARGH!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Can we have some time off, please?

Several PJ-days in a row for us all, as we nicely round off last week's bug with a high-fever-inducing-virus, which has struck us all in turn over the last few days. I hate this time of year.

I do wonder how much quicker we'd get better (and, to be fair, how much less ill we'd be in the first place, without nursery-bugs added into the mix) if we didn't have a super-energetic toddler to wrangle, when all we feel like doing is carting our sweaty brows and achingbones back to bed, to wallow in self-pity and sweat for 24 hours. Not that I'd be without him, you understand. It's just that on days when you haven't slept due to bone-shaking chills wracking your body throughout the night, and your muscles are consequently as seized up as though you'd run a marathon, and your head feels like it's been wrapped in clingfilm, and you can't see straight ... on days like these having a toddler burst into tears because you have the audacity to lie down on the sofa, or repeatedly demand "Mummy delp!" when he wants you to help him build a tower, or just pull and tug at every appendage every time you sit down for FIVE SECONDS ........ it can just all be a bit much.

At least, at this age, he is slightly more independent, capable of getting himself snacks if we let him loose in the kitchen. He likes to stand on his little stool and watch me make toast, demanding "Triangle toast Mummy!" while he plays with the salt and pepper shakers, which are people-shaped and 'nest' in a little cuddle. "Tuddle Daddies!" he says, adorably.

He's also pretty good at entertaining himself some of the time, as long as a Finding Nemo DVD isn't too far off, and Tilly is somewhere closeby for tail-grabbing opportunities. This little moon-buggy vehicle has fold-down steps on one side, and he'll happily spend ages walking all his little people up the steps. (No, I don't know what's going on with his face here...)

This is a J-cub patented Look, with a capital L. He cuts his eyes at you from under his fringe, with his lips tight and almost-but-not-quite-smiling. It usually means he's up to some variety of No Good. Here, it's because he knows his Daddy wants to be left alone, but Daddy's legs are crossed in such a way that his foot makes a perfect bouncy-seat, and J-cub wants a ride. And he's getting one, whether his Daddy likes it or not...


He managed to get a double-bouncy foot ride here (the holy grail), as my legs were similarly crossed, but in mirror fashion, so he could get on both our feet at once, and the bounce was much more secure (am I explaining this at all well? It makes perfect sense here...)

And finally, when all else fails, the arrival of the postman (at 2pm this week - what is the world coming to?) always brings some delight - here an Amazon packet made a perfect hat, and it also was kind enough to be printed with the number 2 on BOTH SIDES, so J-cub could turn it over and over, each time announcing "Doo!" and carefully forcing 2 non-compliant fingers to stand up together to illustrate his point.

Busy weekend ahead - hopefully we can battle through the illness long enough to get through it all. Why can't I be ill on days when I only have work to contend with? I could just leave him in nursery and spend a restful day in bed then...