Friday, June 29, 2012

Bump watch - 21 weeks

After swimming, in Mothercare toilets.  Classy.

Further evidence that lackadaisical parenting works

Allowing Jacob to potty train in his own time seems to have worked.  It's 4 weeks since we started potty training, and without really noticing, we were done about 2 or 3 weeks ago.  We haven't tried to push night-time dryness, as we figure that will also come in its own time, but right from the start he probably had 2 or 3 dry nights a week.  We haven't added it as a target yet, we're quite happy to work on one thing at once.  And that one thing really hasn't been too much of a bind.  He seems to have a bladder worthy of a superhero - as on at least 3 occasions he's gone an entire day at nursery without needing a wee (this is not withholding, he genuinely doesn't need to go.  He'll often be back at home for an hour or two before he finally goes, and even then he doesn't produce a huge amount).  This makes me a lot more confident being out and about, so we ditched the pull-ups before he'd been through a single pack of them, and we're rocking the pants now.

All of this means that we're now frantically scrambling to get him into Meithrin (nursery/pre-school/the class that 3 year olds attend for a half-day every day before they start full-time school the September after they turn 4) ready for September.  We went to see our preferred school today, and it was Lovely.  We have our fingers tightly crossed for a place.

I'd like to add that this is not through any desire to get rid of him or to rush him into education - personally I'm of the keep-them-home-til-they're-about-7 school of thought.  Practically though, I'm going to have a newborn in November.  Having a couple of hours a day to focus on the baby might be kinda nice.  And whilst I'd love to homeschool, Jamie is not on board, I worry about my mental health, and the boy loves his day nursery and the friends he's gained there.  He can't continue at that particular day nursery (to the uninitiated, a day nursery is a private childcare facility where you shove your children while you go to work) because it's near my current place of work, and therefore far from my house.  This makes me (and him) sad.

Any road.  My baby.  School.  Already.  Crazy.

This afternoon, for no real reason other than just having discovered that they do cheap afternoon sessions, I took the boy swimming.  It's been over a year since we last went.  It used to be a huge struggle, it's expensive, it was too much for us to face.  I'm not proud of the fact that we let it go so long, but always sometimes, it's just easier to take the ... easy road.

So I took him swimming, on my own.  After umpteen nervous trips to the toilet, we emptied our respective bladders, and took the (both literal and figurative) plunge.  He did not stop laughing the whole time we were in there.  He loved it.  He decided he could swim, and showing unbelievable abilities at mind over matter (I'm starting to believe this superhero thing might be closer to the truth than not), he pretty much could.  With a flotation vest, he kicked, he struck out with his hands, cupped and pulled himself through the water.  He made startling progress round the lazy river (as long as I had my hand under his tummy).  All in all, he was awesome.  We swam for 2 hours, and we're going back again tomorrow (capitalising on the confidence while we can!).

It just goes to show, that like the potty training, you leave them to do shit in their own time, and they do it.  Go on, pick holes in my logic.  Am I too passive?  Neglectful?  Denying him opportunities?  We could have kept on pushing the swimming when he was obviously uncomfortable, or we could have done what we did, and let him come to it in his own time.  Same with the pottying.  I'm so proud of him for both achievements and I'd do the same again, if I had the choice.

When we got home, he carefully spread the blanket out on the floor, and lined some shells up around the edge.  That took about an hour, and he told us that the blanket was a swimming pool and the shells were on the beach.  He lay on his stomach and 'swam' around his pool for a while.

Then he climbed on the sofa, jumped onto the blanket and yelled "Splash!" :D

I could watch his imaginative play all day long.

He's gone to bed and left me under strict instructions not to tidy his seaside up.  I wouldn't dream of it.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Snail and the Car

We're huge fans of Julia Donaldson here.  We love The Snail and the Whale, a tale about a sea snail who is curious about the world, and hitches a ride on the tail of a humpback whale.

When we set sail for nursery this morning, it was raining, and I accordingly turned on the windscreen wipers when we were a little way down the road.  Jacob screamed with laughter to see a large snail precariously balanced on one of the wipers, going up and down, and up and down, with every wipe.  I held my breath, expecting himher to get hisher squishy bits caught at any point, and to come to an untimely and pretty disgusting end.  But heshe didn't.  When we stopped at some traffic lights and the rain stopped, there was a creak-clunk as heshe detached and fell slowly off the wiper blade.  That was the end of that, or so I thought.

About a mile later, Jacob suddenly started shrieking again, as the snail slowly squelched its way back into view, doing its best to obscure my vision.  We arrived at nursery, 8 miles and 35 minutes away from home, and it was still there.

A pretty good story, which I gleefully recounted to the children in the nursery class at school a little later (I was unexpectedly seconded there for an hour and coincidentally, was given The Snail and the Whale to read to them).


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Bump watch - 20 weeks

Really missed an opportunity for an awesome photo here - I just need to turn and face the other direction...

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Fetes are great

Having got over our yucky stomach flu, we headed off to see Jacob's future wife in Cardiff.  Our lovely friend Claire had made us some beautiful pink cupcakes to celebrate our pink news (I'd like to preface this by saying that whilst I'm happy to receive and eat pink cupcakes etc, I don't approve of gender stereotyping and the practice of making all girl's toys/clothes pink, so this child will be happily clothed in Jacob's cast-off clothes and as many non-pink outfits as I can find!  I'm sure some pink will creep in, in the same way that I wear pink as much as I wear any other colour.  It's the total head-to-toe pinkness that drives me crazy - I don't think I could cope!) and we discussed the impending babyness while Jacob and Amelia cavorted around and refused to eat any lunch.

We then braved a local Scout fete (Jacob's first fete), which challenged all Jacob's powers of Doing Something New (screaming fit after screaming fit, until he realised that he might actually Get Stuff if he joined in), and we had to give up on 3 years and 3 months of perfect parenting when Jacob was given his first sweet (a hard lollypop) and his first crisps (unsalted).  He was over the moon to win a puppy bag on the soft toy tombola - he'd just seen a child carry away a huge Winnie the Pooh (current obsession) and we had to carefully explain that he couldn't choose what toy he wanted, he would win one.  Despite this, as soon as he'd chosen his ticket he exploded into excitement over the potential to have a puppy (having seen a puppy toy lying around), and we breathed a sigh of relief when the girl handed him a puppy.

(I've managed to prise the puppy out of his sweaty grasp to wash it overnight [it didn't smell very clean] but otherwise, he hasn't let it go since.  And it took several hours for him to come down from the sugar high).

His fear of all things Fete was totally overcome when the loudspeaker requested participants for an adult tug-of-war, and Jacob ran at top speed towards the ring, screaming that he wanted to pull the rope ;)

We passed an ice cream stand on the way back, and stopped for some refreshing lollies (our fear of him having sweets doesn't extend to ice creams, for some reason.  I don't know what's wrong with us, really!).

... and Amelia practised her Zombie-tongue look ready for Hallowe'en.

Both of them crashed out on the sofa when we got back (note the puppy, still firmly grasped) with a bit of Ben and Holly, while we ate more cupcakes and drank more tea...

... and Amelia's marionette made friends with her cat.

We left there before tea time to make a quick stop (ha!) in IKEA on the way home.  We eventually arrived home at 8.45pm.  Pregnant ladies can't stay out that late, it wears us out.  And 3-year-old boys don't even protest when they're taken out of the car, plonked on the potty, then stuffed unceremoniously into bed.

It was Jacob's first full day out of the house in pants - not a pull-up in sight.  He coped admirably, going to the toilet whenever we suggested it and happily using adult-sized toilets and hand-dryers in public loos.  Just over 3 weeks, and I'm very tentatively saying that we have a potty-trained child :D

Good night.

Friday, June 22, 2012

20 week scan

We had our 20 week scan today and all is hunky-dory, we were in there for 35 minutes because she couldn't get a good look at the heart (I was worried it was because my bladder was too empty - we arrived early at the hospital and I was already busting so I went for a wee, then literally the second I'd sat back down and started drinking again, they called me in! It turned out that even with the wee, my bladder was too full and I had to go and empty it half-way through the scan!) and eventually baby cooperated and she saw all 4 chambers of the heart. Everything else was fine, the scan looked far more detailed than I recall from last time, although it is in a different hospital so the scanner may be more up-to-date. Seeing all the ribs and vertebrae, and the bloodflow through the umbilical cord and in and out of the heart and kidneys was just amazing.

And it seems that the world and his lobster were right with their guess, as we're having .... (close your eyes if you want it to remain a surprise!) ....
.......... a GIRL :D

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Idyllic picnic

Somehow, we all seem to have contracted Norovirus over the last week.  I know my immune system was already low, having just had a nasty cold over the half-term break.  We had no inkling that anything was wrong with Jacob, however (apart from not wanting to eat much), until a scream at midnight last Wednesday brought us rushing into his bedroom, where he proceeded to vomit spectacularly everywhere.  After cleaning everything up, he slept fitfully all night, screaming, writhing with pain and throwing up every half-hour or so all night long.

A couple of days later, and I spent the day in bed, feeling too nauseous for words, but unable to do anything other than groan.  At midnight, sure enough, I was more sick than I've ever been in my life.  Repeat all night long.  Jamie was the last to succumb, waiting until Monday, at around midnight (it was like the witching hour for us!) he was dashing for the toilet.

Anyway, the upshot was that they didn't want me in school, and on Wednesday I was still feeling rough as anything, but in desperate need to get up and off the sofa, and into the fresh air.  Jacob wanted to go to the river, and as it was nearly lunchtime, we packed a picnic and left Jamie in peace for an hour.

It's only a 10 minute walk through the woods to the river from our house, and I often forget that we have such a special place on our doorstep (it's slightly sullied by having a carpark attached, which is at the end of a short road which branches off from the local motorway service station, which boasts a McDonald's.  People 'in the know' buy their McD's, bring it down the track and park up to eat it and chuck their rubbish willy-nilly out of the window.  And you don't want to know what goes on there at night but it's well known as a local dogging hotspot.  I'm really selling this, aren't I?!).  For those properly in the know, you keep walking past the carpark, follow the river along its winding course, then put your picnic blanket on the banks of the river well out of sight of the carpark and earshot of the road.  Silence, except for birdsong and the rippling of the river.

And when you've finished sitting in this patch of sunlight, feeling that everything is perfect in the world and your child is really an absolute delight and actually, your tummy doesn't hurt any more, you can lie back and watch your aforementioned child burn off some energy by exploring the clearing and playing king-of-the-castle on the concealed tree stumps in the long grass.

...and then saunter back along the river path, seeing if stones or pinecones will float or sink in the river...

...and investigating toadstools.

And even though it's only a 10 minute walk from the house, when you get home you'll remember that you're a) half-way through a pregnancy and b) just recovering from a serious stomach bug, and therefore spend the rest of the afternoon lying on the sofa.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Fishing Game Tutorial

Jacob frequently asks to play fishing.  This involves sitting on the edge of the decking, waving bamboo sticks around and proclaiming that we've caught Stuff (Stuff doesn't have to be limited to fish.  We've caught bears, spiders, sharks, flowers, vegetables ... pretty much anything he can imagine or see).  Still, I thought it would be nice if he had a proper fishing game, and having some felt in various colours, I decided to make a rainbow of fish.

I'm sure I must have seen this fishing game somewhere, but I don't recall where so I can't add credit where it's due.  Still, I'm sure it's different enough that I can claim intellectual property ;)  I should really have done pictures for a tutorial as I was making them, but it's pretty simple really, so I'll just make it up.

1. Get some felt.  Tesco do a nice set of multi-coloured felt, which I've used for tons of craft projects where I needed little bits.  Otherwise, I buy individual sheets as I need them.

2. Imagine a fish shape.  Better yet, draw a fish shape on a piece of paper.  Copy/trace this onto your felt (fold it first, so you get both sides).  Cut them out (at the same time.  Pin them together to aid this).

3. This tutorial doesn't sound much like a proper tutorial.  Sorry.

4.  Sew on buttons for eyes, or bits of felt, or fabric, or whatever you like.  I did some with buttons, some with bits of white felt sewn on with black French knots for pupils.  I don't know if fish have pupils.

5.  Sew on fins, if you want them.  I embroidered some, used some sticky felt shapes I had in my Box for others.  If you haven't got a Box, I can't help you here.

6.  Sew the sides of the fish together, using blanket stitch, because it looks nice.  Look on youtube for blanket stitch tutorials, it's very easy.  I used a nice contrasting thread.  When I ran out of patience, I sewed straight lines on the back finny bit, so I didn't have to stuff it.

7.  Before you get to the end, stuff using fibrefill or whatever floats your boat.

8.  Close it off at the mouth area, adding a washer to your last stitch and finishing off under the washer.  After I spent a week searching for (and finding!) individual washers in car parks, I found that you can buy a box of about a million of the fuckers, for about 99p from Poundstretcher.  If your consumerist sensibilities don't allow you to shop in Poundstretcher, I can't help you.

9.  Spent fricking ages trying to find cheap magnets-with-holes-in-them to tie onto string for a fishing rod.  Give up, and buy these cool extendable picker-upper things from the cheap yellow-box section of Tesco.  They have a super-strong magnet on one end, collapse into a pen shape, are good for picking up things that have fallen into tiny gaps, and work nicely as fishing rods in a magnetic fishing game.

10.  Make a nice drawstring pondy thing, to keep it all in and use as a pond to fish in.  I haven't done this yet.

11.  Ta-dah!  Marvel at your incredible crafting skills.  I do, on a daily basis.

Jacob LOVES this game, he makes his own rules up, but he mostly likes waving the stick around and doing the colours of the fish in English and Welsh.  See, it's totally educational.

Enjoy ;)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Bump watch - 18 weeks

Long vest tops rock.

Friday, June 8, 2012


Tuesday, June 5th
With my sister Cate's due date being yesterday, and me just getting over my usual half-term fluey thing, I had planned to drive down to Devon with Jacob today, so I could spend a few days with her, going to see What to Expect When You're Expecting and doing other such pregnant-sister delights.

All of that was scuppered, when my alarm went off at 6am this morning and I saw a text from my sister at 2am, saying "Off to the hospital, will keep you posted...".  At 6.30am, the landline rang and it showed my sister's mobile number - I answered, expecting her to say it was another false alarm and they were back home.  Instead, her lovely voice said "I had a baby!".

She had arrived at the hospital to find herself already at 9.5cm dilated (really, I thought that kind of thing only happened in sitcoms), jumped in the birthing pool, and squeezed out a baby a few short hours later (I'm sure it was more difficult that I'm explaining; it's just that in comparison with my 32.5 hour labour, episiotomy and 2nd degree tear, I'm just slightly jealous).  

So before 6 hours had passed, I'd driven 200 miles (Jacob stayed dry for the whole journey!), settled in to my parents' house, and dashed off to the hospital for some newborn cuddles.  And ahhh, cuddle we did ;)

Anouk Amelie, my precious niece, born 5th June 2012.

 3 generations of females :D

Wednesday, June 6th
On day 2, Jacob got to meet his cousin (he wasn't allowed into the hospital as he wasn't a sibling) and was very taken with her.  When he woke up that morning, I told him "I've got some very exciting news.  Auntie Catey's baby came out of her tummy!" Jacob was very excited and said "I've got some exciting news too Mummy.  I love you!".  Bless him ;)

Jacob meeting his cousin, a little apprehensively, but unfortunately not allowed more time to get to know her due to my Dad refusing to let him settle and get used to her :/

Thursday, June 7th
On Day 3, I spent a few hours reassuring my sister about breastfeeding, having lots of chats, and getting her out of the house for a walk.  And being SO excited about getting to have a newborn of my own before the year is out!

Anouk, mistaking me for her Mama ;) 

She looked so happy when her frantic flailing resulted in the right two fingers getting in there. 

Catey doing the International sign for babywearing - jazz hands.  I helped her get set up using her Close sling, and here Anouk is latched on and feeding, where she stayed during our shopping trip/walk.

Friday, June 8th
We stayed for 4 days then sadly had to make our way home.  Jacob coped admirably with all the change, and carried on using the potty/toilet perfectly, with only one accident when my Dad took him away without seeing if he needed the potty first (and then not telling me that he'd had an accident until all opportunity for changing him had passed), enough said.  We slept in the same bedroom (Jamie couldn't get time off work so wasn't with us), with Jacob on a mattress on the floor and me in the big bed.  He kept waking in the night and saying "Mummy, are you there?" which was the loveliest thing in the world.  He doesn't half make a lot of noise in the night, though!  Lots of sleepless nights resulted for me, especially as I began to feel proper kicks inside, which were properly keeping me awake ;)

I took this photo in the pitch-black middle-of-the-night, you can't quite tell but he was lying completely sideways on his bed, with his head hanging off.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Bump watch - 17 weeks

Standing on Jacob's bed at Nanna and Grandad's house.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Octonauts and the Great Ice Capade

(I was undecided as to whether 'Ice Capade' should be one word or two.  I feel it should be one, but The Ice Capades, are two, as I found when googling.  I also found this video from 1988, showing an unfeasibly-young Jason Bateman and Alyssa Milano presenting Super Mario Bros at the Ice Capades.  It's worth it, even if just for Jason Bateman's awesome hair-and-jumper combination.)

Before Jacob was even a twinkle in anyone's eye, we stumbled across an original Octonauts book in Borders and as the style appealed to our kawaii-sensibilities, we bought it.  We subsequently had a child, and when he became old enough to enjoy use CBeebies as a babysitter, we were very excited to find that they were in the process of making it into an animated series.

Of course, because Jacob is a sensible child, he loves the Octonauts with a passion second to none, and we are overjoyed that we can indulge our whims with him, rather than having to put up with interminable games of things we don't care tuppence about (like ... I'm struggling to think of another CBeebies show with a comparible amount of merchandise that we actually dislike.  We do like our children's TV shows.  We used to record Charlie and Lola to watch before bed ... again, pre-Jacob).

Anyway, today marked our fourth consecutive nappy-free day, so we decided to get Jacob something to say well done.  By chance, Tesco had the Peso playset which is usually impossible to find (and which is why we have several Barnacles and Kwaziis from various playsets, but no Peso), so we snapped it up.  Jacob was practically shaking with excitement when we told him what it was for :D

And by pure coincidence, I spent much of yesterday evening progressively freezing layers of Octonauts toys into a tupperware container, ready for a Science experiment on liquids and solids today.  When we got home, I presented Jacob with his very own Octonauts iceberg (Peso even came with an iceberg, we really could not have planned this better) to investigate.

He also had a bowl of warm water, a sponge, a pipette, a blunt knife and a salt-shaker.  Peso oversaw all the ice-breaking action.

Jacob had a whale (ha) of a time, scrubbing the iceblock, sprinkling it with salt and hearing it crack, and biting it with the shark-like teeth of the Gup-B.

As he rescued each Octonaut/Creature from the ice, they were lined up and attended to by medic Peso, who wrapped them warmly in the towel so they could recover from their iceventure.

We ended up with a bowl of freezing cold water, a soaking wet carpet, and a very happy child who understands the properties of ice, the differences between liquid and solid, and why things float or sink.  Perhaps an activity better suited to the garden on a hot day, but a winner nonetheless.

Disclaimer: post not sponsored by Mattel.  But if they would like to send me a shed-load of free Octonauts toys as a thank you, they would be most welcome :D

Potty Success

Quite suddenly, Things seem to have clicked with using the potty.  After our last aborted attempt, we decided to hang fire until the summer holidays, when we could have naked days spent in the garden with a potty to hand and no pressures from nursery or anyone else.

However, the recent nice weather meant that we had our naked days in the garden a little earlier than expected, and we had some limited* success with using the potty.

*Limited because as I may have previously mentioned, Jacob still had no prior warning of a poo being imminent, and these special moments happened twice in the paddling pool.  Ugh.

After a last week in nursery before the half-term holidays, we broke the pants out again on Thursday, and despite me coming down with my regular-as-clockwork school holiday illness, had lots of success all day Thursday and Friday, including Jacob's first ever declaration of "I need a poo!", followed by actually getting on the potty on time and doing ALL his business there.  I also realised that he was staying dry through his naps, and while out-and-about, and he started asking to use the toilet while we were in supermarkets, and being very happy to sit on grown-up toilets (previously, he's been terrified of falling in and has refused to entertain sitting anywhere near one).

This weekend, we've not had a single mishap; he's asked to use the toilet or potty at 3 or 4 hourly intervals (which I suppose is a bonus of late potty-training - no 15-minutely trips for us!) and we've managed to bribe him into wearing pullups (up there with Water and Vegetables on Jacob's scale of Unacceptable Things) so that we don't have to run quite so fast to find public toilets if we're not at home.

Due to the two extra bank holidays, nursery is shut this week, and if I get better soon I'm taking Jacob down to Devon with me to poke my sister's ready-to-burst belly some more.  So we have a further 7 days to crack this, before letting him loose on nursery again.  Due to the amount of exciting activities they do there, I think he's far less likely to remember that he needs the toilet/ask to go, so I really want him to be comfortable in pants before he goes back.

Fingers crossed!