Winter

I think we’re very nearly done with autumn now, and we did pretty well with doing the things on our list that we hoped to do in autumn. There were a couple of important things that we didn’t quite manage, so I think I’ll stick them on the bottom of this list, just in case we have more money/time this season. Seems unlikely because of Christmas, but hey, worth a try.
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So here’s our winter list.

1. Visit Westonbirt Aboretum for the winter enchanted forest walk.

We planned to do this yesterday, but didn’t make it.

2. Ice Skating.

I won’t actually be able to skate with Iris, but the big kids can with Trev while I take pictures. I don’t know where we’ll go, as there seems to be a hundred temporary ice rinks to choose from every winter these days. Which one is the best?

3. Visit Santa.

I’m told he has a grotto at Dare Valley Country Park and we love it there, so I reckon we’ll combine it with a mountain walk and make a real day of it.

4. Take pictures of the kids all together in their Christmas jumpers and outfits.

We did Halloween versions of this and the pictures are wonderful!

5. Go to Puxton Park.

We did this last year around Christmas time with my sister and her family. It rained so we spent the whole day in the play barn, but we had the best day! It doesn’t seem like long ago, yet I was barely pregnant and not even really showing, and my sister was quite heavily pregnant with my nephew and couldn’t go down the slides. My niece was only tiny and too small for most of the equipment, but she was brave and ambitious and wanted to try anyway! This year she’s far more capable, my nephew is crawling and will love the toddler area, and Iris will be there to watch! My mum is going to tag along for the day too. I’m looking forward to it very much!

6. Get into Geocaching!

I only heard about geocaching lately, but immediately knew it was exactly the sort of thing we’d enjoy. More on this soon.
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We’ve done a tiny bit, and have got lots of plans for more. Very exciting stuff!

7. Start baby-led weaning with Iris.

I’m so excited about this but also dreading it. I think she’s pretty much ready now, but we’re going hold off for a couple more weeks. The big kids want to be here, and the only day we’ve got free to stay home and all eat together is in a couple of weeks.

8. Spend some time with my family.

I really don’t see any of them enough, and it gets to me at times. I have to see them over the Christmas holiday. Have to.

9. Earn some money.

This was on my last list too, but it really is quite important.

10. Use my camera, instead of my phone, for photography.

I’m crap at remembering my camera, but I’m always a bit disappointed with the pictures from my phone. Must. Try. Harder

11. Have a huge clear out.

We have way too much stuff. Endless boxes and bags of stuff filling every room and collecting dust. It really has to go. All of it.

12. Have a wonderful Christmas!

It’s our first one, really. Last year we weren’t living together.

This is a very half-hearted list, written with very little enthusiasm. I’m struggling to muster any, as I haven’t slept in days. Please forgive me.

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Baby Weight Diaries #2

Frankly I’ve had a terrible week. Iris appears to be teething at the same time as having a cold. Neither of us have slept all week, and I’m feeling exhausted and glum. I don’t know about you, but when I’m worn out and run down I eat even more than usual. And my usual is a lot. We’ve survived the week thanks to Calpol and biscuits. I got so desperate for biscuits yesterday I actually baked some. Well it was easier than getting dressed and going to the shop. IMG_5810.JPG It’s a miracle that I didn’t gain weight this week, so I’m not particularly disappointed that I didn’t lose any either. IMG_5825.PNG
Stats for the week.
Weight loss this week: 0lb
Weight loss total: 3.4lb
Weight still to lose: 41.6lb
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I’m going to try harder next week, but if I’m honest with myself I know I’ll lose the willpower if I’m not getting enough sleep. I just need the calories if I’m going to be awake 24 hours a day. We’ve got the kids this weekend too, and it’s strangely much harder with them around because we like to make sure there’s nice food in the house for them. We also tend to eat out at least once. I’ll just have to focus myself and say no to pudding.

*images cropped from screenshots of the Happy Scale App*

A Day, Any Day

It’s 01:42am. Iris is wide awake, sitting in her high chair playing with a weird toy with three heads that my mum bought for her. I’m drinking endless cups of hot chocolate and waiting for her to get hungry again. I know that feeding her is the only thing that will make her sleep. I’m not complaining. She’s not crying. She’s happy, she’s just not tired. We don’t have very many nights like this anymore.

Now seems like a good time to talk about our days, how they go. Most days are a variation of this day, with some changes. The main pattern stays the same.

Iris sleeps in late. Usually until around 9am, but she has been known to sleep til 10. Don’t tell me I’m lucky. She rarely sleeps before midnight and she wakes me up several times in the night. I usually stay in bed til she wakes, silently begging her to sleep longer. Even though I’m awake much earlier, the extra peace and rest makes the mornings bearable.

Our main aim in the morning is to get dressed, maybe do a bit of washing up, walk the dog, and hopefully get out of the house for a bit. We never achieve all of those things.

Usually Iris sits and plays while I try to have breakfast, drink 5 or 6 cups of coffee and have a shower. I never finish. Sometimes I miss breakfast. Sometimes I have to jump out of the shower with shampoo still in my hair. We’re never ever ready before midday and I’ve completely given up on doing anything in the morning, despite that being when most of the baby groups are.

Around midday, or even 1pm on a bad day, we’re dressed. Iris needs a morning nap, but fights it and fights it so much that by this time she’s seriously cranky. I need adult interaction but can’t go anywhere yet because we still haven’t walked the dog. I know that walking the dog is the only thing that will make Iris sleep too, so on go my wellies and we trudge off to the mountain. Sometimes Trev walks Seb before work, so we can go into town at this point instead.

There’s no point trying to cut Seb’s walk short. He becomes quite impossible to live with if he doesn’t get a full hour at least once a day. I love the walk though. It clears my head and I like cuddling Iris and listening to her snore.

It’s anywhere between 1 and 2pm by this point. I’ve maybe managed to put a load in the washing machine or washed half of the dishes from dinner the night before. There’s so much that needs doing. Our house looks, at all times, like we’ve been recently burgled. There is nothing I can do about this. I give up and eat lunch over Iris’ head as she pins me to the sofa for a long feed that often lasts an hour.

So it’s mid afternoon. I play with Iris and try to keep her entertained. She’s at an annoying age where she’s easily bored but can’t yet actually do anything. I snatch the odd moment while she’s bouncing in her Jumperoo to dust a surface or fold a few pairs of jeans. I never finish anything I start. In fact I’m sure my attempts at sorting things out just make the house even messier.

At some point Trev will text and says he’s on his way home, and usually ask what we want for dinner too. It has to be something he can grab from a shop on his way home because it’s been weeks since I found the time to do proper food shopping. Once he’s home we prepare food and eat, usually one at a time while the other entertains Iris. Then we spend some time together briefly, before the bedtime routine begins.

He baths Iris and I usually attempt to put some laundry away or tidy up. While I get Iris to sleep Trev gets everything ready for work the next day and does more tidying up if he’s not too tired. He comes up. We all attempt to go to sleep, but I rarely do. I’m usually too wired and worn out.

An hour later Iris is awake. Sometimes she’s so wide awake that we end up back downstairs watching depressing stuff on the news and drinking hot chocolate. Listening to Trev snore over the baby monitor and wishing we could swap places. Just like tonight. At some point she will settle and we will sleep. Like tonight.

I don’t mind any of this, really. I made the decision to never leave Iris to cry, to always react quickly when she needs me. I made the decision to put her before anything else, always. I don’t regret that decision, even when I feel like everything is falling apart and I haven’t slept in days. Her baby years will go by so fast, and I know I won’t regret a single cuddle. I won’t regret leaving the washing up for days because she wants to be held. I will be glad I stayed by her side and I will always feel good about the strong bond we have.

I only regret not having the money to employ a cleaner.

It’s 02:21am. Goodnight world.

Pictures of the Weekend #10

IMG_5737.JPGLate but not getting anywhere! Sling meeting. Friday night. Saturday morning.IMG_5738.JPGFirst ever mai tei back carry. First time geocaching! Can’t do this with a pushchair. Supermarket shopping.IMG_5739.JPGNot as excited about dinner in Nandos as Mummy and Daddy. Messing around after dinner! Raiding the toy box. Visiting Grampy.IMG_5729.JPGThe sky from high on a hill in Bath

Autumn List – An Update

Remember back in September when I wrote this list about all the things I hoped to do? Well I did actually manage to do quite a few of these things!

1. Visit Mountain View Ranch

We managed this pretty early on and had such a fabulous day! Amazing weather helped too. I wrote all about it here. IMG_4094.JPG

2. Sort out the alcove full of junk.

We’ve bought and assembled some storage units from Ikea, but this is still a work in progress. It’s essentially done, we just haven’t worked out what to do with all of the crap we pulled out of it!

3. Get laminate flooring.

Nope. No way we can afford that before Christmas.

4. Go camping again.

Nope. No money (or time) for that one either!

5. Take Seb to the beach

Ah, our lovely cold and windy trip to Barry Island a couple of weeks ago! That was one of my favourite days of autumn. IMG_5184.JPG

6. Try out a woven sling

I borrowed an absolutely gorgeous FireSpiral Sling from the lovely Ellie at Cwtch Up Pontypridd during International Babywearing Week. We didn’t get on very well with wrapping. Iris goes a bit mental! I love the wrap though, it is so beautiful. In the end we bought a Mei Tai and we love it. After a wonderful babywearing group meeting this week I’m determined to have another go with a woven wrap though. Watch this space. IMG_5477.JPG

7. Find new places to walk

We sort of did this. We found Dare Valley County Park and we absolutely loved it there! We’ve been twice, and had the best time on both visits. We’ll definitely be regular walkers there. One new place probably isn’t enough though, so I’ll still be looking for more. Places with mountains are our favourite! IMG_4944.JPG

8. Frame some pictures and put them up.

They’re framed. They’re standing on top of various different bits of furniture which isn’t what I meant by ‘up’, but that’ll do for now. They look pretty.

9. Make Pumpkin Spiced Latte in the slow cooker.

Nah. Ran out of time. We kept all of the pumpkin insides in the fridge for a few days and I had every intention of using them. It just didn’t happen. Never mind. Maybe next year.

10. Visit Nanny’s Grave.

Oh I miss my Nanny so very much. I finally got round to visiting her grave and I took Iris too. It was hard to hold myself together. It still breaks my heart that Nanny and Iris never got to meet each other. IMG_4561.JPG

11. Join more baby groups and make some friends.

I went to one other group and haven’t made it back. It’s in the morning and Iris sleeps late! We did get invited to a party though, and I definitely feel like we’ve made some friends.

12. Carve Pumpkins and See Fireworks.

We missed out on seeing fireworks around bonfire night thanks to torrential rain, but we finally saw a display last weekend. We carved pumpkins too, which was great fun! Or it was until they went mouldy sitting in the living room. Yuck. IMG_5024.JPG

13. Get Iris a Christmas jumper.

Actually we haven’t done this exactly. Instead of a jumper, we’ve got a reindeer costume and a Santa suit! She’s going to look adorable!!

14. Get a laptop.

No money, no laptop. I’m still blogging on an iPad and my phone. It’s not brilliant but it’ll have to do for now.

15. Find an income.

I haven’t done this, and the clock really is ticking. I do have an idea though, and may just join a good friend of mine in her fantastic venture. Exciting!

I’ll be back with a winter to-do list soon!

Teenagers

I’ve never parented a teenager, so I’m really not the authority on this. I’m happy to be corrected if I’m wrong.

I have been a teenager though. I think I was a fairly horrible one. You’d have to ask my mum. I remember that I thought I knew best and that I rarely went home at the time I was told I should. I smoked, drank, kissed boys and even slept at the park when I said I was at a friend’s sleepover. All things I most definitely deserved to be in big trouble for. I never hurt anybody though, and I’m sure I was respectful to my parents. I’m sure I continued to have a loving relationship with my mum and didn’t want to hurt her.

I also remember it being one of the hardest times of my life. I seriously thought I was a grown up, and that everybody needed to back off with the guidance! At the same time I was facing a world I didn’t understand at all and I just wanted my mum to show me the way. My boobs didn’t arrive at the same time as everybody else’s which made me worry they’d never come. When they did I hated them, and the way they made men look at me. I hated my body hair too. Shaving my legs! It was a disaster. I had to do it or be ridiculed, but I just couldn’t get the hang of it. I cut my legs to pieces, every single time. It seemed important to have sex, but sex meant showing the body I hated so much to a boy. It meant seeing a boy’s body!

I was never sure what music I was supposed to like, what to watch on TV, who to hang out with. Could I still invite friends over for tea?

Most of all I was desperate to express myself. Anything that made me a bit more me. I wanted everybody (including my parents) to know that I was a person now, a grown up one, that was going to do things her own way no matter what. I wanted to be edgy and cool, and stand out whilst also blending in. When people described me I wanted everybody to know exactly who was meant. I bleached my hair white, wore red lipstick and a Nirvana hoody every day. Doc Marten boots, black tights. I crimped my hair! Looking back I can see that this was all just part of growing up, and an important part too.

Essentially though, I was a very good kid. I mostly did my homework on time, very rarely got into trouble at school, and didn’t do too badly in my exams. I went to school to learn, and I did learn. Not just school stuff, but how to be a person among other people too. My teachers probably wouldn’t remember me, despite my slightly strange ‘look’ because I just got on with it and did my best.

I know why I did ok, too. It’s because nobody really made a big deal of all of my ‘experiments’ in finding out who I was. My mum was ok with my hair dye and piercings. I don’t remember the school being too bothered either. They were probably more focussed on my brother who had a habit of putting other kids through windows. There was no battle. I wore my school uniform (with a few little tweaks), went to school, and did what I had to do.

The other day somebody I know shared this story on Facebook. I won’t comment on the story. I don’t trust newspapers. That probably isn’t all of the details. They’ll word it in whatever way makes it more interesting, because it isn’t exactly newsworthy to begin with. Essentially the school is punishing a teenage girl for dying her hair purple. I don’t know if it’s supposed to be purple in the picture, but if it is then it’s barely purple at all.

There were a few comments on the post stating ‘they knew the rules, they shouldn’t have let her dye it’ and ‘teenagers need to learn what it’s like in the real world where there are rules’. I do agree with these comments, but only to a point.

The world seems to hate teenagers. People seem to gleefully pounce on any opportunity to punish them. Boundaries they need, I agree. Those are essential to keep them safe. And they do need to learn about the real world. But don’t you think they’d be a lot less rebellious and horrible if we allowed them some flexibility to express themselves? They are changing so rapidly and entering a whole new world of being a grown up. Can’t you remember how hard that was? Is it really beneficial to any kid to disrupt their education to punish them for something trivial that really isn’t hurting anybody? Don’t you remember thinking that all grown ups hated you?

Obviously if they don’t come home at night or they put other teenagers through windows then they probably do need you to step in.

I think it’s even harder for kids now. We didn’t have mobile phones or social media to get the hang of. If you didn’t want people to find you outside school you just didn’t tell them where you live. They couldn’t look you up online. There was no internet bullying. Our parents didn’t have to worry about internet safety or whether we were being groomed in chat rooms. Somehow the streets were safer then too, and we had freedom to roam that kids don’t have now.

The way I see it, they can’t win. They get in trouble if they hang around in groups, but there’s nothing else for them to do. They get in trouble if they spend too much time on computer games or social media. They get in trouble for just trying to work out who they are.

Baby Weight Diaries #1

So it’s been a week (and a day) since I got annoyed (again) with my baby weight and decided to try again to get back into shape.
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I’m going to do this on a Thursday normally, so I’m using my stats from yesterday.

I didn’t really start trying until Monday, to be honest. The weekend was packed full of fun, and that meant eating out. Just because I’m trying to lose a bit of weight doesn’t mean I want to stop having any fun! I’m also trying to drink 2 litres of water a day. So far that’s going well, but I am a bit bored of needing a wee every half an hour! It’s like being pregnant again!

I’ve been using the MyFitnessPal app to keep track of how much I’m eating. This isn’t because I’m trying to stick to a particular calorie limit. I just helps me to be aware of how much I eat. If I don’t record it I consume a lot more, and don’t really remember doing it. If you’re on MFP too why don’t you add me and we can encourage each other? My username is mousedogbaby. I’m also using the Happy Scale app because I like the way it splits your target weight into milestones. I’ve chosen to split mine into 20 milestones as 45lb is quite a lot to lose. I think it’ll be less disheartening when it’s coming off slowly if I’m only aiming for the next small milestone. It also gives you a predicted finish line date, which changes all the time depending on your current rate of weight loss. I don’t like this feature much. Sometimes it tells me this will take til 2020!
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Stats for the week.
Weight loss this week: 3.4lb
Weight loss total: 3.4lb
Weight still to lose: 41.6lb
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I only really aim to lose a lb or so a week, because I’ve been here before and know that weight lost very quickly is harder to keep off. It’s always easier at the beginning, when you’ve got more to lose, and I reckon that’s why I’ve managed to shift so much this week with very little effort. All I’ve done really is stop eating chocolate!

*images cropped from screenshots of the Happy Scale App*