Wednesday, 7 October 2015

5 years on I think I'm finally getting the hang of being a stay at home mum

It wasn't as though I was forced into becoming a stay at home parent. It was my choice and one that I made freely and with some joy at the idea that I'd be at home with my beloved baby every day. I had been working for almost 25 years by the time Big Boy came along and quite frankly was looking forward to the break. Ha, how little I knew.

From the very beginning I had no idea how difficult it would be to be able to have a shower or feed myself while caring for this tiny bundle. That all my attention and - it seemed - all of my brain capacity was held in his tiny fists. The idea of leaving him unattended for even a minute was unthinkable so I decided to shower at night so that when Hubbie left for work I could concentrate on the baby. Instead of resting when he slept I'd tidy and clean the house or try to catch up with the things I thought I needed to do, like washing or cooking. On one memorable occasion I came back from the shops and had to park uphill from our house and was standing at the top of many steps trying to work out how to carry the car seat and 3 bags of shopping at the same time. When I got home there was a space right outside the house which hadn't been there earlier - rats !! My Mum asked me later why I hadn't just left the shopping in the car and brought the baby home and I waffled something about having food for the fridge.

I made things so difficult for myself in those early days. When anyone visited I'd make them tea and fuss around instead of sitting back and letting them take care of me. I craved adult company, but when I had it I just felt useless for not having anything to talk about other than baby stuff to share. It took a long time before I realised that I would never have a conversation that didn't involve my children ever again. I wanted to be interesting and charming company, but I'd roll up in whatever was clean, sleep deprived and constantly checking the time to ensure I wasn't going to miss being home for some precious milestone. Or if the baby was with me wanting to stick rigidly to his routine in favour of actually enjoying the company of my friends.

As Big Boy stopped being a baby and went on to become a toddler I started to see light at the end of the tunnel. He was speaking and walking and eating proper food and all these things made him more portable. We could go for day trips once he dropped his afternoon nap so I'd take him to the London Transport Museum or we could go and visit friends and have play dates. I didn't do this much though and it was telling when he did see other children as he wasn't keen to share anything or have other children in his house touching his toys.

Then Baby Boy came along and all that new found independence - including a return to work that was only a few months in - was gone again. I was thrown into being at home with a child who barely knew me and who needed a lot of attention and care, but who didn't really want it from me. I was stunned. Exhausted. Hurt. For a while I tried to keep going with part time work and shared parenting with Hubbie, but ultimately I needed to make a clean break from work. It was more important that I commit to being with this young boy who was trying to make sense of these huge changes in his life. A new family, a new home, a big brother, a pet cat and so much more.  As well as this there was also the adjustment that Big Boy had to make to being a Big Brother and no longer an only child / grandchild / nephew. It was challenging for all of us.

It hasn't been easy. It's taken a lot of energy and hope and gritted teeth to get this far. I am now as full time Mum as I will ever be. While I would walk Big Boy to Gymboree every day for something to do it was more about me seeking support and help that about the experience he was having. I hated parks and soft play, but I took him. With Baby Boy we go to playgroups that I like where I know he's having fun and where I feel relaxed. We go to the park that is opposite Waitrose and he plays while I sip my free tea. I take him swimming and accept that this is all about his pace and when he's ready. I don't take him to rhyme time because he won't sit still and it's not my idea of fun to chase him around and lift him up when he's trying to wriggle away from me.

In short I think I'm getting the idea of how to do this stay at home parent thing. That it's not about substituting my work self for my parent self. I am complete in whatever I'm doing. If I'm helping at playgroup that's something I can do with pride. If I don't like a playgroup I don't have to keep going. I only go to the shops where the staff are nice to me and my kids - they even ask after the boys if I go without them.

It's taken me 5 years to figure out how to make this experience work for me and my sons. I wish it hadn't taken so long, but at least I'm here now.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

A long walk, a newborn and part lego child: my week in photos.

Survival kit for walkers

At the start of the week I was recovering from the Shine Walk for Cancer Research UK. It was great to take part and I'm delighted that me and my walking pal Carole did it in such a fantastic time of just over 4 hours. I did feel it for a few days afterwards though !

Oi, Legohead !!

This week Big Boy turned 5 years old and he had so many presents it took ages to open them all. He is so very lucky to have so many people who love him so much. I bet you'll never guess what his favourite toys are ?

Teeny tiny baby 

By far my best moment this week was having baby cuddles with my first nephew. He's so adorable and I could quite easily have spent all day fussing him, but I gave him back to my sister - albeit reluctantly.

A rose between, well many thorns 

I'm often embarrassed by our front garden as all the neighbours have such neat and tidy lawns and borders and ours is such a jungle in comparison. Then I noticed this beautiful rose and it made me forget all the straggly plants around it and appreciate the beauty in one single bloom instead. 

Nose to nose - fur to fur

Tonight I'm typing this while sitting up in bed and Neo is lying at my feet with his new friend. I'd say that's a pretty good way to end the week.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Creating memories from birth and beyond

Yesterday Big Boy was 5. I was talking to him about how wonderful it was waiting for him to be born and how much it meant to meet him for the first time. He looked past me and said,
"Mummy can I watch the TV please ?"
In the days before he answered me back

I often talk to Big Boy about when he was a baby and he loves to watch video of himself when he was younger. He's really keen on hearing about what he was like as a baby and now he has a baby cousin he's even more fascinated. Seeing my first nephew and holding him made me realise how tiny they are when they are so new and how much my own boys have grown since birth. It also gave me a pang of sadness that I have no knowledge of Baby Boy as a newborn and no photos of his first days.

When I talk to the boys about their babyhood it's with an awareness that there are gaps in what I can tell Baby Boy. I didn't carry him for 9 months. I wasn't his first Mummy. I am his Mummy now and the love I feel for him is as fierce as it is for his brother. However, I feel guilt that I don't have baby photos of him, stories about his first days, memories of what he was like as a newborn.

My boys playing nicely 

Instead we have memories that we have created with his since he's been with us. Going to the park and pointing at the dogs - 'oof 'oofs. Riding his scuttlebug around the house - I know, I know. The cheekiness, the fun and the games that we play together. It's not a bed of roses as the last few days of almost constant tantrums will attest to, but it's so worth it.

When it comes to his birthday we will take just as much effort to make it special and fuss and spoil him just as much as his brother. He will have a cake and candles and lots of presents and helium balloons. We will Skype the grandparents and contact his foster carers so they can wish him a happy birthday too. He had his first birthday with them so it seems only fair that they get to share his second one too.

We're still learning about Baby Boy and he's still learning about us.

How he came to us is irrelevant, that he is here is all that matters.

We are family 

Monday, 28 September 2015

Miffy's Adventures Big and Small - Win a Miffy Sensory plush toy

Autumn term is always a time of new and exciting things. The leaves change colour, there are conkers on the ground and the prospect of fireworks night is thrilling. For parents of pre-schoolers - and fans of Miffy - there is a new treat to look forward to in this her 60th year - I know she just doesn't look it does she ? 

A new generation of British pre-schoolers can discover the charm of the classic character, Miffy, when the new TV series Miffy's Adventures Big and Small launches on Tiny Pop on 2 October 2015, at 7pm.

Based on the storybooks by Dick Bruna, the new series marks the first time Miffy has been seen in CGI and is comprised of 52, seven minute long episodes which see Miffy and her friends exploring the exciting world around her. Simple narrative and fun songs ensure even the youngest children stay engaged throughout. 

Using Dick Bruna’s distinctive palate of bright primary colours and simple shapes, combined with plenty of space around them for a child’s imagination to roam, ‘Miffy’s Adventures Big and Small’ encapsulates the essence of Bruna’s classic books whilst bringing his characters to life on screen.

Miffy’s new series will become a key part of Tiny Pop’s evening block, Cuddle Time, which features gentle programming allowing kids, mums and dads to enjoy calmer family favourites before bedtime.

If you'd like a sneak preview take a look at this clip the lovely folks at Tiny Pop have sent me to share with you:


To celebrate the series launch I'm giving away a plush Miffy Sensory toy which is just lovely and suitable for pre-schoolers or slightly older Miffy fans like me. To enter the competition just leave a comment below naming your favourite childhood character (it doesn't have to be Miffy). The winner will be  drawn out of a hat on Monday 5th October and announced on Twitter, Facebook and here. 

And as if all that wasn't exciting enough you can also join in Miffy's Surprise Party this Friday on Twitter. See you there ?

I'm proud to be a #MiffyMum and have been working with Miffy to celebrate her 60th birthday this year.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Can eating cake cure cancer ? I'm not sure, but it probably helps.

This week I'm all about raising awareness and money for cancer charities. When I was growing up no one mentioned cancer at all and I thought it was a rare thing that only happened to other people. As time has gone on I've worked with people who have developed cancer, my aunt was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and passed away not long after. My beautiful friend Soraya was diagnosed with breast cancer, was treated for it and last year we did the Moonwalk together to celebrate her recovery. In a few weeks time I will visit the lovely Penny who was the midwife who attended the birth of Big Boy. A few years ago Penny was told she had pancreatic cancer and that her prognosis was bleak, she refused to give in and defied the odds to recover from it.

Soraya and me before the long walk 

That's why this week I'm spending a lot of time eating cake. Well, not just me. I hosted a Macmillan Coffee morning earlier in the week and all the lovely guests who attended brought cake - and barely ate any - so I had loads left over. Then today we had another coffee morning at playgroup and there was even more cake. So I have started to act as a 'cake courier.' I'm delivering cake to friends locally in return for a donation to Macmillan.

Loadsa lovely cake 

I have a personal connection to Macmillan as their nurses have cared for and supported friends and loved ones who have sadly passed away. The nurses were kind enough to attend the funerals and I know how much it meant to the family members that the care extended beyond their lives. It was also great to be able to thank the nurses for providing end of life care. I have a lot of respect for Macmillan and the work they do.

All ready to raise funds for Macmillan

On Saturday night I will be walking a half marathon through London with my lovely friend Carole to raise money for Cancer Research UK. I've been a bit under that weather for over a week so my training has taken a bit of a hit, but I've walked a full marathon before so I know I can do it. I'll be bold and brave and shine brightly for all those wonderful people I know whose lives have been affected by cancer.

If you would like to sponsor me that would be fantastic. Any amount will make such a difference and I promise that this is the last fundraising ask I will make for a while. I'm a bit done in with having done the danceathon earlier in the year and I think I'll take a break after the walk.

You never know this cake courier thing might take off :)

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Ta-daaa !! Things they are a changin'

It's been a while since I last posted. The longest break since I started actually and I can't say it was because I had nothing to write about. I have been quite poorly which didn't help and I've also been pondering on an issue that I think I've worked out a solution to. For a while now I've wanted to write a blog about our family life and more specifically how we came to be a family. The more eagle eyed among you have been kind enough to notice that I went from writing about one boy to talking about two boys. I have been circumspect about writing about how this came about partly out of privacy and also because it's been so overwhelming that I wasn't sure I'd have the words to. 
I've talked to friends and fellow bloggers about whether to start a new blog specifically about adoption, infertility and parenting a family with an adopted and a birth child. I even came up with some names for this all new blog: 

  • Even the cat is a boy (a bit sexist)
  • A rose between three thorns (too Mills & Boon)
  • Boys, boys, boys (too porno)
  • One homemade, one off the shelf (too flippant)
  • Our so called life - actually I just came up with this one and I might just keep it for later. 

Now, fun though it is to come up with blog names, finding time to write one blog can prove difficult so I wasn't convinced I'd be able to manage two. So, what I've decided is that I will continue with this blog and will use this blog to write about my family instead. I will still feature fun days out and things that we love to do. However it will also be the space where I share our journey and hopefully some information that will help anyone else who is on a similar path and has questions. 

You may notice some changes to the appearance of this blog, and the content will gradually change too. I haven't quite made up my mind whether to do a grand relaunch with balloons, fizz and a Q&A, but as I think about it I may well do. 

For now. I'm well behind on some reviews of lovely things we've been sent to try. I will be posting those interspersed with the beginnings of this new blog about my fabulous family. I hope you will stay with me and enjoy the 'new' blog. 

While it's under construction please enjoy this bit of nostalgia featuring the gorgeous Michael Hutchence in his heyday with INXS:

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Back to school, Park life and Cat napping: my week in photos.

tomatoes in a dish

On Sunday mornings I go swimming with some friends and last week the lady who gives me a lift to the pool gave me a gift of some tomatoes that her husband had grown. They were still a bit green so I put them on the window sill and now they are gorgeous and ripe. I can't wait to try these.

baby boy in foreground and big boy in background

As it was the last few days before Big Boy went to reception I decided to take the boys out for some park fun. They both wanted to take their own transport and I followed on foot. It did help tire them out though so that was great. 

Baby Boy pointing a big toy dog in shop window

Baby Boy was delighted when he spotted this enormous "oof oof" in the window of a shop near the park. He does love dogs, but I think this might be a bit on the big side for home.

Baby Boy observing a beautiful pond with ducks on it

Once Big Boy had gone to school me and Baby Boy went to feed the ducks. There is a lady who goes every day and we love to talk to her. She offered some bread for the ducks to Baby Boy and he was about to eat it when I showed him how to give it to the birds. It really is a lovely spot. 

white cat sleeping on big boy's bed with soft toys.

Being at school is tiring Big Boy out, so he needs to get his sleep. The new bedtime routine includes summoning Neo to lie with him. It is very sweet, but I have noticed that Neo is taking up more and more room. Give a cat an inch ...