Monday, 2 March 2015

I'm no Supermum, but I do have a Superboy

Sometimes being a parent feels like really hard work. Like when I woke up at last night at 3am with a snoring (but thankfully sleeping) 4 year old to my left and an unmoving cat to my right. After two nights of broken sleep and with Hubbie away it was a reminder of the early days. We've been doing this parenting lark for over 4 years now and at times it's overwhelming, exhausting and head-shakingly confusing.

Today I needed to remind myself that it's not all about being a mega-multi-tasking-Mum. You see I don't want to spend my days not being with my boy. I love him and he makes me laugh and he is my joy. Why would I want to look at my work email when I can spend the day sharing in his magical, imaginative and hilarious world ? I'll show you what I mean: 

We went to a party where the theme was pirates and princesses. My boy said he wanted to go as a fire officer - presumably as every pirate ship must have a fire safety professional on board. When we got there he accessorised his outfit with a sparkly pom pom and a cutlass. That is one badass fire officer !!

Fierce Fire Officer 

Then at half term we went to a storytelling event where there were dressing up costumes. My boy didn't want me to feel left out so he chose some pink wings for me and this mask so we could match. I thought we looked like a sinister woodland gang, but he insists we didn't.

I wouldn't want to meet these two in a forest ! 

We do our best to 'keep it real' for our boy. He doesn't watch too much TV and we limit his screen time as well as ensuring he plays outside and runs off all his excess energy. In keeping with this retro parenting attitude we've changed from our wireless hi-tech house phone to this old school dial phone which I was teaching him to use at the weekend. He wanted to use it to call the fire brigade, but thankfully his fingers are too small to turn the dial round fully. Instead we rang my Mum and he said, "Nani-mummy, I'm testing the new phone," then walked off to play outside. I think that's pretty healthy. 

It's the bat phone Mummy 

At this weekend's birthday party he was one of five kids dressed as Spiderman. He also got 'married' to the birthday girl and was the magician's assistant. Watching how confidently he stood at the front and performed I can honestly say it was the most fun I've had at a kids party in a long time. He came home with a balloon sword and some new dance moves. A win all round I'd say. 

That's magic !!
And finally tonight. My boy - who has been poorly all day and last night - came into the bathroom to brush his teeth like this. It made me laugh so much I had to take a photo. Who is this masked hero fighting the menace of tooth decay ?

That plaque doesn't stand a chance !! 

Best of all, earlier today he looked at me and said, "Mummy I love you because you feed me chips."

That'll do son, that'll do :)

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Thank you !!!!

So it's been a pretty eventful few days.

On Monday night I went to the first night of Anything Goes at the Churchill Theatre in Bromley and it was absolutely fantastic ! I know all the songs (you probably do too) and it was just so vibrant and fun. It was a really great start to the week and seeing all the lovely dancers in their vintage outfits gave me some inspiration for my danceathon outfit next week.

It's been London Fashion Week - an event I used to take great interest in before it became entirely out of the realms of my reality - well since the Clothes Show stopped being shown on telly really. I always loved watching the catwalk shows (of course now it's called a runway instead which is part of the reason I stopped caring) and seeing what the designers had in store for the rich and thin. I am neither so you can see why it's less of a thing for me now.

To demonstrate how far I am from being a fashionista I got all discombobulated about a tweet I saw telling me that Krispy Kreme were giving away free doughnuts to celebrate their 1,000th store opening. I discreetly did up my cardigan (I said about the fashion thing didn't I ? I wasn't kidding !) and left the office. I did that fast walk that looks like you need the loo really urgently all the way to the shop on High Holborn and the nice man handed me a lovely and nutritionally questionable foodstuff in a bag. It made my day that did :)

Then Madonna fell off a high stage in a wardrobe fail that looked terribly painful and caused all sorts of reactions - from claims that she had done it on purpose to those leaping to her defence by claiming that she has super human powers. I don't envy the person who had done up her cape at the neck. While I've always been an admirer of Madge it's no secret that she is not a fan of failure. It reminded me of her on stage during the blonde ambition tour and thinking how hard she worked to get fit so she could dance and sing for hours. That is a woman who works hard and it shows. I'm pretty sure if it was me I'd have stayed down and actually cried.

I almost did cry on Friday actually. During the end of the week assembly at school my boy finally received a special celebration certificate and badge at school for writing. It is so heartening for me to hear that he has been writing pages and pages of words. His teacher even quipped in the assembly that he must be 'writing a novel." I hope so. That would make me even prouder - as if that's even possible.

On top of all of that my biggest surprise came today when I checked my Red Nose Day fundraising page to discover that I've smashed the fundraising target I set for the Danceathon I'm taking part in with hundreds of others - and a fair few Team Honkers - at Wembley Arena to raise funds for Comic Relief. It has been an amazing and kind of so many lovely folks to sponsor me to take part in this. I genuinely appreciate every donation and I know it's not easy for everyone to give so thank you from my heart for doing so.

It's not too late to give if you still want to. I will share plenty of pics from the event itself and I haven't forgotten that I promised to do and film a happy dance when I reached my target. Keep an eye on t'internet as I expect it's going to make the whole gold dress/blue dress thing pale into the distance when it goes live :)

Disclosure: The lovely folks at the Churchill Theatre invited us to see Anything Goes free of charge. 

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Once upon a time in London town...

It's been a while since we've been able to participate in Country Kids so it was with great delight that last week during half term me and the boy went for a day out in blazing sunshine and had some outdoor adventures.

We were invited to an event where the children took part in storytelling activities and dressed up as characters. My boy loved his cape and tried on many hats during the morning.

On our way back to King's Cross Station we discovered these beautiful fountains - it's so nice to find a treat like this hidden behind somewhere you've been so many times.

Even better as we had a little bit of time to spare when we did get to St Pancras station I asked if my boy wanted to go on this swing that was right in the station forecourt. It was like a big birdcage and with the sun streaming through the bars it was just lovely.

Of course being my boy, he decided that the bars made a perfect fireman's pole to slide down. I'll say this much for my boy, he's single-minded in his career pursuits.

Finally on our way back home we had a sneaky look behind this sign - it was no more exciting than a broken down escalator, but my boy still wanted to check it out.

It was so much fun to enjoy the sun and spend the day out and about with my boy. We're all back at school and work this week so I'm glad we made the most of the chance last week. 

This post is shared with the Country Kids linky hosted by the lovely Fiona of Coombe Mill

 Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Sunday, 22 February 2015

I'm a mother: you'd better believe it !!

This afternoon we went to our first Build-a-Bear workshop party and my boy made a fabulous Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle (or Ginger Turtle as he called it) bear complete with fighting swords. It was great fun - we even managed to sneak some stuffing into his bedraggled old bear so he now looks less like the 'before' bear story and more like he used to in his glory days. 

At the pizzeria afterwards there was an incident with hot tea and me running over to a sink carrying my 4 year old boy to run cold water over his arms to prevent scalding. All the other parents were watching and one lovely Mum stood close by with her tiny baby reassuring me that he was ok - afterwards I realised that she is a medical professional. 

At the tram stop going home I was shaking as I phoned Hubbie to tell him what had happened. As soon as I rang off I burst into tears. I crouched down to my son's level and kept repeating over and over, "I'm so sorry." He touched my face and said, "It's ok Mummy, don't cry."

When I have to be I'm tough, practical and have the strength of Hercules. What I am all the time is my son's mother. More than any other time I feel the need to listen to this song tonight:

Friday, 20 February 2015

Friday I'm in love - with my magical boy

This afternoon I made that error that isn't the end of the world but makes you feel a bit cross when it happens. I was in the queue that looked shortest, but turned out to be a woman who was paying separately for 4 loads of shopping. While I sighed, told my boy for the 15th time to stop climbing onto the shopping trolley and pondered how I'd managed to visit Sainsburys 3 times in two days I spotted a familiar woman at the next till. She wasn't looking over so I had a good look to see if she was who I thought she was. Her hair was blonder and she looked a bit heavier than when I last saw her (we both are), but it was definitely her. We worked in the same office in Wimbledon in 1995 - I used to stop and talk to her on reception on the way to my desk. K was glamorous and I remember her dark bobbed hair and bright red lipstick. She was like a friendlier Magenta Devine.

As I packed my shopping my son kept calling over, "Mummy, Mummy, look over here. Look over here Mummy," as he stood in front of the kiddy vending machines festooned with pictures of Minions, Elsa and assorted other characters. I noticed that K was still there too so decided to wait and talk to her when she had also finished packing. As she did I called over, "K ? We used to work together a while back. It's Swazi." She smiled, but clearly didn't remember me. Well it was 20 years ago so it's hardly surprising really. We pushed our trollies outside the store and stood chatting - all the while my son was climbing onto the side of my trolly and I kept telling him not to.

I asked her how she was and it all flooded back to me. Her husband B and how they were struggling to have a baby. How I went to her house for waxing as part of her training to be a beautician and she told me about their difficulties conceiving and that their Christian faith gave them strength to cope. As we talked today and she told me about the failed IVF and how they eventually accepted they would not have children and they settled on a 'selfish' life. This lovely woman who wasn't in the least bit selfish then and still isn't. As we said goodbye we hugged and my boy gave her a cuddle that she was kind enough to be delighted by. It was a salutary lesson for me.

I've been beating myself up a lot lately for being a rubbish parent. For getting angry, for not being around enough, for not cooking proper meals, well just everything really. Even today I was losing patience with my boy as he tried on school shoes and moaned that he was too tired to put his own shoes back on. I found it all a bit much that he asked me to save his wedges so he could eat them later and when we got back in the car he'd changed his mind so we sat in a car that smelled like fried food. On the ride home he burst into tears as I switched over the radio station so I could listen to the Archers repeat because he wanted to hear his 'favourite song.'* Sigh.

For all that I complain about how bad I am at parenting or how annoying my boy is - or worry that Hubbie sustained a head injury last week and hasn't been quite himself since - I'm grateful that I have both of them. That I have the good fortune to have found a mini packet of love hearts in the car that made my boy so very happy when I said he could eat them. That my lovely neighbour popped round for our weekly cup of tea and a catch up and brought a Tonka fire rescue truck for my boy.

Mostly I'm glad I stopped to talk to K and that I remembered what we had shared. When I knew her me and Hubbie hadn't even met yet. She opened up to me about the pain and heartache of infertility and I had no idea that years later I would be in exactly the same situation in my own marriage. I've thought of her occasionally over the years since and wondered what had happened to her and B. I had no idea I'd ever see her again, with my son, on a day that I felt overwhelmed and underpowered.

The son that for a long time I thought I'd never have. Who I love with a ferocity and a joy that I didn't know was possible. This boy who made K's face light up today when he beamed at her and waved goodbye with a cheery, "Bye, see you later."

It's like he's magic.

*mostly Arctic Monkeys, Jake Bugg or anything else that gets played incessantly on XFM.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

How to have a happy half-term

You may have noticed I've been a bit quieter than usual on here. If not then why not ? Self-involved much ? Anyway, the combination of working full time and half term have been pretty challenging. Not helped by a last minute cancellation of one of the activities we had been relying on to help us with childcare. So, I've been thinking about how to keep the boy occupied, not least as a warm up for the longer Easter break and then the even longer summer holiday. Family have been amazing and he stayed with my parents and his auntie and uncle for a few days. They kept him very busy and he came home happy and tired, but he also missed us (yay !).

We always love to do things like going to kids club movies, craft activities and even the occasional outdoor trip. However, I also want him to have a proper break from school so some days we just want to hang around at home and do things that are fun, but don't involve travel. 

You will probably already know about Snapfish. They are the company that produce photo gifts, cards, wall art and calendars that when we first had our son we bombarded our family with. That first Christmas each family member got a photo album of photos of our beloved first born and in subsequent years they've had calendars, canvas collages, mugs and even t-shirts with photos on. The print quality is great and they arrive really quickly so I'm a big fan. All our thank you cards were from Snapfish this year with a collage of images of our son and a lovely thank you message in chalkboard style on the back. I also made a lovely valentine's card using images of me and Hubbie from the last ten years and I've designed mother's day cards for both grandmothers containing lovely photos of their favourite (and currently only) grandson and ordered some glossy copies of his school photos for them to keep and treasure too. All of these were delivered to me within a week, but for for an additional charge they will deliver direct to your recipient. 

In case you're not sure what this has to do with half term they also do some great - and completely free - printables online. These include characters and themes (eg. princes and princesses) and even some party kits so you can produce everything from invitations and thank you cards to bunting and personalised items like pirate or princess themed accessories for guests. They also have a range of printable cards so you can make and print at home if you can't wait. 

I'm going to drop some heavy hints that I'd like Hubbie to do some of the Mother's Day activities with our boy. These include origami flowers and a very tempting French country breakfast in bed kit. I think they can multi-task just this once can't they ? 

The other lifesaving half term helper we have discovered has been Amazon Fire TV. We set it up in our bedroom as the reception in there has always been poor so we thought having an online streaming service would be a better option. It's linked to my Amazon account so I can download apps to it online and as we have a Amazon Prime subscription there are lots of shows and movies that we can access for free too. The kit itself is compact and very sleek. I've been having great fun using the voice activated remote to choose programmes. We haven't tried to gaming controller yet, but I suspect that will be on the cards at some point during half term. 

It's proven to be a great decision to use this upstairs and in the morning when we aren't at work or school we can all lie in bed and watch movies or shows together with a better picture quality than we ever had before. The best feature for me is the memory as I rarely watch something in one sitting (I get to see about 5-10 minutes a day which isn't really the best way to watch a movie is it ?) so being able to go back and pick up where I left off is really helpful. At the moment I'm part way through 'The Watch' and my boy is back to back viewing 'Justin and the knights of valour' and they are both saved where we last left off watching. It's great having so many choices to watch and you can save up things to watch later. 

I think we'll be pretty prepared for the Easter break and look forward to even more fun with my boy both in and out of the house. 

The lovely folks and Snapfish sent us a voucher code to try out their products.
The lovely folks at Amazon Fire TV sent us the kit to try out.
All views are honest and no payment has been received. 

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Not so much hearts and flowers as bolognese and bowling

So, after taking Hubbie breakfast in bed and going for run, I helped my boy make some valentines:


He carefully and precisely glued on some beautiful hearts and wrote lovely messages on the back.

My mini Mr Maker

We also made some chocolate crispy cake and the boy decorated then with mini marshmallows and glittery sprinkles:

Lucky lovely ladies

We all had a romantic spaghetti bolognese for dinner then the valentines were given to his lovely babysitters. Meanwhile me and Hubbie went bowling:

Snazzy shoes 

Hubbie made a strong start:

Let's Bowl !! 

Then this happened - yep I got a double strike !! 

Well, blow me down !

I'm pretty sure it's this sporty stance that worked in my favour: 

Watch me go !!

What do you know ? I won the game !!

Yep, that's me - the winner !!

Despite this face Hubbie was not - in fact - a sore loser :)

So not gloating that I won (ok, yes I am gloating)