Tuesday, May 31, 2011

What warms your soul?

I guess that technically I'm stealing a post here, but I'm all full of the warm fuzzies after watching a video on Georgia from Gregarious Peach's mum Toni Powell's blog. Go and watch the video - it's gorgeous.

In no particular order, the things currently warming my soul are:

Hearing J-cub wake in the morning. He seems to go from fast asleep to wide awake in seconds - one minute there's silence, and the next he's counting (something) or just gabbling away to himself. When I go to him, he's turned his light on, and excitedly points out his light, his lightswitch, his big boy bed, and the polka dots on his pillow. Then asks for cuddles.

Those mornings when he doesn't wake, and I need to wake him to leave the house. I go in and gently tell him its time to wake up. Without opening his eyes, he shakes his head. I tell him again he needs to wake up, and he starts his slow, luxurious stretches, still without opening his eyes. I giggle, and his mouth starts to try not to smile. He puts his bunny over his eyes and whispers "No Mummy, Jacob sleep". I laugh and pretend to leave. He suddenly sits bolt upright and shouts "Peepo Mummy!" and our day is begun.

Cuddles. I'm a super-needy person, and can't imagine life without a hundred cuddles a day. J-cub is going through a big old cuddly phase, and every few minutes he shouts "Mummy! Tuddle tiss!" and flings himself onto me, wrapping his arms tight around my neck for a few precious seconds, before pulling back and planting a great big smacker on my lips.

Love. Along with "Sorry", J-cub has recently learnt to say "Thank you" and "Love you". They sound exactly the same - something like "Buppoo". I hand him something, he says "Buppoo Mummy!". I say "I love you Jacob", he says "Buppoo Mummy".

Being reunited. As I drive towards nursery to pick J-cub up after work, my heart fills with excitement at seeing him again. When I walk through the gate, I peep through the trellis into the garden to see if he's playing outside. For a few special moments, I can see him playing in an environment totally alien to me - I never see him being strong and independent and holding his own with other (bigger) children. Then he sees me, his face lights up, he shouts "Mmmmmummy!" with so much delight in his voice, and runs as fast as he can into the building so he can be at the door when I come in. I go in, and he comes at me with his arms held up, shouting my name over and over. I swoop him up for cuddles and he holds me so tight. I ask him if he's had a nice day, he gives an enthusiastic "Yes!" and goes off into a stream of Jacob-talk about what he's done.

That all seems a little baby-centric. But really, whilst I still take great pleasure from other things in life, it's all nothing compared to being a parent. Nothing warms my soul like thinking about him, or being with him. He drives me up the wall a lot of the time, but life just wouldn't be the same without him. Jamie and I turn to each other several times a day, and say, with as much incredulity each and every time ... "We have a son".

What warms your soul?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

#2 and #3 done already!

Look at that - just 4 little days into my half-term break and somehow, I've done 2 out of the 5 things off my list. And when I say 'I', I mean 'we'. Jamie needed to print some stuff, so he hoiked the printer upstairs and installed it into his shiny new study.

And this evening, a half-fledged idea to make J-cub a play-kitchen area in the living room turned into 4 straight hours of sorting and organising toys, so that everything is easily accessible and easily tidyable. Very important. We've got a bit lax on the old tidying front round here, and it's doing my head in.

So Jacob's cafe is now open for business, with his cash register and wares available on the left, his oven ready to cook breakfasts and light lunches, fresh fruit and veg in their baskets, and his teapot and cup out on the table ready to pour me a thousand imaginary cups of coffee. And Batty and Judy are eagerly sitting at the table, awaiting service.

It's gonna be yet another rainy day tomorrow, and for once, we'll be prepared with plenty of fun things to do. Today J-cub went the whole day without his dummy and bunny (apart from naptime), and it's good to have lots of play options if he's going to do the same tomorrow.

A little amusing moment from our day earlier - J-cub has (finally) learnt to say sorry and due to the bucketfuls of reinforcement we've been pouring over him when he says it spontaneously, he's now over-using it slightly. Case in point: I was in the kitchen earlier, bashed my elbow and shouted 'Ow!'. J-cub (in the lounge, out of sight), called "Sorry Mummy!".

Quite possibly the funniest, and cutest, thing he's ever done.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Half-term plans

After a 4-week half-term, the half-term holiday is suddenly upon us. I'm ignoring the fact that I've got a long 7 week stretch now until the summer holiday, and making the most of my time off.

I've already written a half-arsed list of things I would (quite) like to accomplish, which goes something like this:

1. Sort out sewing/crocheting/crafting stuff so neat and tidy and accessible.

4. Weed and plant garden.

5. Weed and clean patio.

Right now, we're trying to figure out what to do over the weekend. We suddenly realised that it's the Hay Festival over the next week, but due to a very late email notification, all the good stuff is sold out. The 2011 Eisteddfod is also happening just round the corner from us, but the tickets seem to be very expensive. I think we must be out of touch with how much things cost, as I constantly seem to be shocked at ticket prices.

On that score, we're trying to decide whether to go to Folly Farm this weekend. We've developed an obsession this week with watching the Giraffe cam, seeing what the giraffes are up to at all hours of the day, and fending off tears of disappointment when the giraffes are outside and not visible. We love Folly Farm, and last time we went we thought it would be fiscally sensible if we bought annual passes next time, as it were. So now it's next time, and we've seen that as it's now high season, it's £9 a pop. Which is a whole lot more reasonable than the £13 ticket price for the Eisteddfod, or the entirely-unreasonable £18 they were charging for Devon County Show last weekend (we didn't go). But it would still make more sense to buy an annual pass, and then we could just go any time we liked, and it would seem free. But ... £60 (£30 each, J-cub thankfully is free) is an awful lot of money. A lot more scary than shelling out £18.

So we're umming and ahhing, and wondering if we should go to Tenby and walk on the seafront instead, or go back to the National Waterfront Museum, where we went today and where J-cub was strangely content to ignore the toys and activities set out for exploring pre-schoolers (the purpose of our visit) and instead pottered around the exhibits; comparing the sizes of boats, exclaiming at flags, and showing lots of interest in entirely random things which I would never have thought to have taken him to see.

But none of those options have giraffes, and really, how lucky are we to have five giraffes just a short nap-in-the-car away? I'll spend the evening searching through jeans' pockets and old bags and down-the-back-of-the-sofa and see how many pennies we can dig up.

Real Nappy Week 2011 - the aftermath

So I did pretty well out of Real Nappy Week - I scored five pairs of Bumgenius Babylegs for £1 each, two Bumgenius flip covers for £5.50 each, and I won an Ella's House Bumhugger from a lovely local retailer, Nappy Go Lucky.

All had arrived by the time we got home from our weekend away, and thankfully collapsed back into cloth. 3 mornings of waking up to find J-cub wet through (it was very cold in my sister's house, so he was wearing a disposable nappy with a fleece cover, sleepsuit, pajamas, and the only 2.5tog Grobag we'd taken...) meant we had to try and wash and dry everything every single day. No mean feat when we were setting off on adventures every day, the sky was threatening rain and my sister didn't have a tumble dryer.

We've yet to give the Bumhugger a proper trial as it's still going through its pre-washes, but I can report that it is beautifully soft, fits him perfectly, and J-cub attests that it is "Bery bery comfy". I'll do a proper review when we've tried it overnight.

We are now in full-time cloth, using a selection of cobbled together nappies at night as we only have two proper night nappies (both Wee Notions Night Notions) and we're never organised enough to wash every other day. I'm sick of leaky disposables, and having to wash bedding all the time, and he has never (touch wood) leaked through a cloth nappy at night. His skin is a bit prunish in the mornings, which I'm not overly happy about, but a bit of nappy free time soon sorts it out, and I'm sure it's more comfortable for him than waking up shivering with cold from being wet through.

And in local news, Swansea council are now offering a £50 incentive voucher for parents wanting to try using cloth. I really hope the scheme is successful - it would be great not to be in the minority.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Weekend away

Last weekend (*I changed the date on this post to reflect when it actually happened, so that should read this weekend. May 22nd. Thank you.) my parents invited us to join them in celebrating their ruby wedding. 40 years! We're shocked enough to discover that we'll be celebrating our 10th anniversary next year, with the less expensive gift options of tin and aluminium (biscuit tins? tin foil?). As I was the same age when I gave birth to J-cub as my Mum was when she gave birth to me, that means that J-cub will be my age when we get to that milestone, which makes it all the more difficult to imagine.

Anyway, we went down for a long weekend, stayed with my sister as my Mum's sister and husband were staying with them. We had all kinds of fun days out, and J-cub slept happily on his blow up ready bed (great invention), and us young 'uns catered the whole party.

On Friday, we went to a little train place, which had a whole gnome village in the woods...

...and staying with my sister meant that when J-cub wasn't really tired when it neared bedtime, we could pop out to a park near her house for some playing fun (my parents wouldn't really approve of such sleep-delaying shenanigans)...

When His Lordship was finally tucked up in bed (their thankfully-newly-installed double glazing meant that he went to sleep despite their neighbours doing some impromptu jazz-band rehearsing in their garden) we sat in their back yard for a barbecue, gazing upon the beautiful brickwork of the building behind...

...and my sister and I attempted to do some ANTM-worth smizing (but failed)...

On Saturday, my parents attempted to lead J-cub astray by plying him with chocolate cake...

And we escaped to Exmouth beach where the kites were stunning, and we hired a windbreak so the wind didn't spoil our fun...

...and we bought J-cub a bumble bee wind-spinny thing, which he loved...

...and my sister kindly took a picture of all three of us. J-cub was a bit cold, and demanded "Mummy! Tuddles!" over and over again. It was lovely.

We escaped the wind to play in a super-cool park, where my sister took J-cub down this huuuuuge slide...

...and a zoom in on their faces shows their complete horror as they picked up speed, but that didn't stop J-cub from jumping up and shouting "Again, again!" three times in a row.

After some serious bargaining with J-cub to let us join him on this retro slidy-horse thing, Jamie had to drag Catey and I off it, long after J-cub had had enough...

...and we finished the day chilling in a Little Red Boat.
I don't have any photos from the party itself, since I was wielding my Dad's new DSLR (and was very restrained in not squirreling it away into the car when we left). J-cub slept almost the whole way home, waking up about 10 minutes from home with a deafening shout of "Tuddle!" before lapsing back into a semi-doze, with his eyes shut but singing along to whatever CD we were listening to.

Home safe.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Real Nappy Week 2011

I had a nice series of posts all planned for this week to celebrate Real Nappy Week and my love of all things involving fluffy bums. But oh I'm so tired, long days at work spent with a duckling nestling in my cleavage (don't ask) and Jamie having his final OU piece of work due on Thursday, so he's appropriating the laptop while I'm watching the extended version of The Lord of the Rings and crocheting pigs (it really was too much to ask that Peppa Pig would never make an appearance in this house).

So, a quick rundown....

  • Go Real - the real nappy information service. Loads of great info, advice, and a list of offers available for Real Nappy Week.
  • Baba Me - one of my favourite online retailers, who do a-ma-zing offers if you sign up for their email notifications.
  • Nappy Go Lucky - fab and local (to me) online retailers.
  • Baby Kind - great for reductions, special offers, bits 'n bobs and have super-low postal costs.
  • Little Green Earthlets - specialising in Motherease nappies, and where I got my initial stash from.

And some lovely cloth-bummed pictures to brighten your day....

Cloth nappies rock. They're so easy, and the Daily Fail can f'off with their cloth-isn't-any-better-for-the-environment rubbish. For an easy-to-digest rebuttal, see here.

There. Fastest blog post ever. Tea time!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Upcycling a boring chest-of-drawers for an inquisitive toddler

So in J-cub's new room was the very first chest-of-drawers that Jamie and I bought, in a sale, in B&Q, when we first moved in here. It's a bit battered but serviceable, and we donated it to J-cub when we were cobbling the nursery together. It was very plain and boring, and didn't match anything at all:

I set about it today, with a load of alphabet wall decals, and the result is awesome, even if I do say so myself:

Except for the 'O for orange' - which is a) red and b) blatantly an apple, and the 'X for Xmas' which is just plain wrong when you're trying to teach a toddler how to read the alphabet. Better still, the set of decals (which included a further complete alphabet, numbers 1-10 and some random pictures) were an unbelievable £1.99 from our new favourite store, Home Bargains. Bargainous indeed.

Jacob's new bedroom in pictures

Wardrobe - for the bargain price of £5 once we'd doubled our Tesco vouchers for Easter. J-cub isn't particularly keen on Toy Story, but we thought this would last longer than In The Night Garden or Peppa Pig, which were the other options.

The bed - before we'd dispensed with the duvet. Star lamp from Ikea.

Nemo curtains (naturally), futon for guests.

Ikea Trofast toy storage with useful play surface.

Ikea Billy bookcase with all J-cub's crap most important Things.

Very happy J-cub on his bed, before all hell broke loose.

With the curtains shut, it looks like an aquarium. Note J-cub having a happy lie down in the bed, again before he decided that nothing was going to make him sleep there.

We're so very happy with it, it's calm and happy and useful and epitomizes J-cub's Jacobness. We've spent so much time in there over the weekend, playing and starting to put up pictures and wall decals (we didn't want it to be too exciting at first - we obviously failed on that front).

The saga of moving from a cot to a bed

It's high-time that I updated with our experience of moving J-cub from his cot into his new bedroom, and into a bed. As I've mentioned, he has been sleeping so much better recently, that we were starting to seriously doubt whether or not this was a good idea, before he'd even set foot in his new room.

The background: J-cub is a week shy of 26 months. He's a big boy, and when he stands up in his cot (it's a cot, not a cot bed), the rail is below the level of his nipples. He's been able to get his foot onto the rail for months, and I think it's only luck that he hasn't got out. Also, he rolls around a lot at night and wakes himself up smashing into the bars. Soooo, we decided that we should make the move to a bed, less far to fall than if he got over the cot side. As he's in the box room, and overflowing it, we thought we'd switch his bedroom for our second bedroom/spare room/study. We've spent the Easter holidays doing just that - making it all lovely and pretty and nice, taking him to Ikea to choose a bed, and hanging out with friends whose little ones are in beds, so that he could see them in action as it were. (Incidentally, while we were in Ikea I put him in one of the cots and he climbed straight out, which added fuel to my argument that it is Time).

He's been so so excited about his 'big boy bed'. I got the room finished while he napped last Monday, and when he woke up we went in to have a look at it. He totally loved it, he was so excited, he played in there for a good couple of hours, including lots of pretending to go to sleep in the bed.

Cut to bedtime - he was very keen to go to bed (asking to go to bed instead of having a bath etc), and when we got up there he was happily tucked into bed, and had a story. He then asked me to go downstairs (which is our usual routine), I kissed him and left. I came and sat quietly downstairs, then as I could hear him chattering excitedly to himself, I went up to settle him again. In retrospect ... big mistake. HUGE.

He wanted to get up and play, I kept trying to settle him. He got more and more upset. Lots of tears, and tantrums, and he got out of the bed and then refused to go back in. He was happy enough playing, but very, very tired, and very fearful when I mentioned the bed/sleep. I eventually got him settled down again, and I left. There was silence for 10 minutes, and I think he dropped off, then he started screaming again.

This went on for FOUR HOURS. I tried lying with him ("No Mummy No!"), stories, nightlight on and off, quiet, singing, our usual tape of lullabies - changed nappy ... everything I could think of. Thankfully Jamie was home and we could take it in turns.

I offered to bring the cot into his new room, he didn't want it. At 11pm we felt like we had to give up, popped him back in the cot in his old room, and he was asleep in seconds.

I was left feeling awful, all conflicted about what I should have/shouldn't have done, and how to move forwards from there. I thought he was ready, and I didn't think it was safe for him to stay in the cot. We couldn't take the side off the cot now because all the study furniture (computers, lots of guitars and junk) are in his old room with just his cot in the corner, so it wasn't safe. I could have taken the cot into the new room, with the side on or off. Or packed the cot away so it wasn't an option.

It was one of the hardest 4 hours of my parenting life.

And on Tuesday he went to nursery, so we didn't have any time during the day to spend time up there acclimatising. At bedtime on Tuesday, we went through exactly the same situation again. Completely exhausted from the night before, we gave up after just an hour, and put him back in the cot.

Jamie was home with him on Wednesday, and went through the same at naptime, and he slept in the cot. During all of this, J-cub was positive when we mentioned his new room, always answered "Big boy bed!" when we asked him if he wanted to sleep in the bed or the cot, and shook his head when we asked him if he wanted the cot.

We had just about decided that we would take the bed out of his new room, and replace it with the cot, when Wednesday bedtime came around. In a flash of inspiration, I had removed the duvet and spare pillows, leaving just a familiar blanket wrapped around the mattress as a sheet, a very thin cot pillow, and a Grobag.

J-cub has slept in Grobags since he was born, and we were of two minds as to whether we should change to a duvet or not. He really likes duvets, so we thought we'd give it a go. But I think they were just too hot, and he couldn't get comfy under one. He had been very resistant to having a Grobag, once he'd seen the duvet, but when I removed the duvet he seemed to forget all about it, and went into the Grobag without a fuss.

I had sent Jamie downstairs, and having got J-cub onto the bed, and into the Grobag without a fuss, I sat down and started reading. I read, and read, and read. J-cub alternated between cwtching up against me, switching the light on-and-off, and lying down. He didn't once try and get out of bed, and he didn't start shouting "No". And slowly, slowly, he drifted off to sleep.

We didn't hear a single peep out of him until 6.50am the following morning, when he called for us rather than getting out of bed and going for a wander.

And the following day he napped in his bed, after just 25 minutes of reading, and the time has got shorter and shorter ever since :D. He hasn't again asked for the cot, he's told everyone about his big boy bed, and everyone is happy. Ecstatic.

I really, really thought we'd done the wrong thing. I was of half a mind to move everything back into his old room, despite the two solid weeks of work we'd put in to swapping everything around. But it all came up rosy in the end, and J-cub loves his new room with a passion.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Really? Has a year just flown by like that?

When I started to write the date on the whiteboard before school started this morning, I was gobsmacked to realise that it was International Star Wars Day. And immediately, my blogpost from this time last year popped into my head. I can't believe it's been a year since then, it feels like about a second ago. If you didn't read it then, go and read it now.

Today, E and I laughed, and wrote the date a thousand times, and giggled and nudged each other every time anyone mentioned the date. We talked about our favourite scenes and characters, we watched Lego Star Wars stop-motion animation youtube videos for our reinforcers after school.

I even relaxed my no-Star-Wars-related-play at breaktime rule (although I was happy to record that he chose to play football instead).

I wish that I could have shared my dear husband's barmy take on tomorrow's AV vote - read it here, it's hilarious - but thought it might be a little over E's head. It took me long enough to convince him that Star Wars was fiction, rather than a documentary.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

More soon on the saga of the new bedroom - but I just wanted to remind everyone to get out and vote tomorrow. Say yes to AV.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Sleepless in Swansea - An Update

So I need to get this post written in order that I can fully document the nightmare that is trying to introduce J-cub to his new bed.

If you recall, back in January I posted about our attempts to change J-cub's sleep habits using the No-Cry Sleep Solution (NCSS) for toddlers. I'm still raving about this book to all and sundry, although I've yet to come across anyone who's had quite as much success as we seem to have.

Back then, it was taking up to an hour to read him to sleep. We had a delightful few months where it would take less than 15 minutes, and then the time increased, and increased, and increased, so we were often up there for 1-2 hours, reading calmly and quietly while he trampolined in the cot, and giggled and laughed and chattered away, until he eventually drifted off. It wasn't a great hardship, but it really did eat into our evenings and we were starting to feel that we were doing something wrong.

Then, about a week ago (so right in the middle of Operation Move J-cub's Room), he suddenly cracked falling asleep On His Own. I posted the following status on facebook:

Beth is confused... 2 mins of reading to the boy, he stood up and started trampolining in the cot, I said "are you going to lie down and listen to the story?", he said no, so I said "night night then", and came downstairs. Now there is silence. No calls of "Mummy?", no crying, not even any more bouncing. He can't be asleep, surely, after 2minutes, not when we've been averaging 1.5hours of reading to sleep recently...?

And it really was that simple. He just went to sleep on his own. The following night, 5 minutes of reading, then he told me to go away, and went to sleep on his own. Then 1 minute the next night. The night after that, I posted the following:

7 minutes tonight. But I did get caught up in the story I was reading, I could probably have left earlier. I think we've cracked it. What we really need now, is to tip his life upside-down by moving him to a new, exciting bedroom, with new, exciting furniture and pictures and toys and then change the cot for a bed he can get out of and see what effect that has on this awesome new falling-asleep record. Yes.

And there is the crux of the matter. He finally, FINALLY, figured out how to self-soothe (with a high-five to all the other parents out there who choose not to leave their children to cry, but instead instill a sense of comfort and security in their children by always going when they call), right at the point where we had an all-new exciting bedroom and an all-new get-outable big boy bed.

What were we to do? All of Jamie's crap from the study were shoved into Jacob's old room, with just his cot left in the corner. J-cub's new room was beautiful and ready for him. We couldn't back down on our plans then, it would be unworkable, with Jamie unable to use his computer and miscellaneous stuff, and a whole big bedroom just waiting there....

Monday, May 2, 2011

Why you should always check tide tables

Some friends Jamie went to school with spent the last 2 weeks in Wales on holiday, finishing up with 5 days camping nearby at the Three Cliffs Bay caravan park on Gower. We went out to see them on Saturday - the weather forecast had threatened thundery showers but it was glorious and sunny, albeit ridiculously windy.

Three Cliffs Bay is a weird mini-estuary type beach, with a tidal river winding out around the beach and pouring into the sea, cutting the beach off from the cliff-path. There are large stepping stones to take you out onto the beach, but once across you're then foiled by the river doubling back in front of you to cut the beach in half again, meaning that you have to wade if you want to get onto the beach proper.

Having negotiated our way across the stones, we decided not to bother getting out onto the beach itself, and just settled down on a sand spit so J-cub could run around a bit and dabble his toes in the icy cold river-water.

And we got so distracted by rescuing various toys that he kept throwing into the water, that we totally didn't notice the beach (above) disappearing (below)...

Until the water was suddenly lapping around our toes and we beat a hasty (and slightly hysterical) retreat back beyond the tide line. It was at this point that we realised that not only had the beach disappeared - so had the stepping stones. And it was fast approaching half past 6, we had no food for J-cub's tea, and Rowan and Mark had dinner reservations at a fancy restaurant. While J-cub happily surveyed our consternation from on high...

...our friend Mark went to investigate how deep the stones were. At just over ankle-deep, and with the tide still coming in, we decided to risk it. J-cub clung to me for all he was worth and Mark waded across the river alongside me to catch us if we fell. But we didn't. We reached the other side safely and I berated myself for not checking the tide times before we came out. Because I always do. I was brought up to respect the sea, and I forgot, and it laughed in my face.

Still, I'll remember next time. The above picture shows me lying down to calm my beating heart, with J-cub berating me to "Det UP, Mummy!" He then spent the rest of our time there throwing rocks and sticks into the river, in an attempt to copy Mark who was expertly skimming stones.

Then he crouched for ages at the edge of the water, dipping dry stones into the water to watch them change colour.

By the time we left, the tide was on its way out again, and the stepping stones were almost visible. We live and learn.