Astrid is One!

Astrid’s birthday was almost a month ago now. I’ve been writing this a little bit here and there for weeks! It’s so hard to find time to sit and write these days.  

It’s so weird that a whole year has gone by since my second beautiful little darling daughter arrived in the world. Last year was such a difficult year for me, and so I feel like I didn’t give her the first year of life that she deserves. I fully intend to make up for that this year. 

She’s a funny little creature. Mostly she’s an incredible bubbly little bundle of joy, with a big cheeky grin and an infectious laugh. She loves music, and sings in babble at the top of her lungs while swaying from side to side. When she hears music she dances, and even if there’s no music she usually starts dancing on demand. 

When she’s unhappy, she lets you know too. With an ear piercing scream followed by wailing that sometimes seems endless. She’s mostly been a bit of a mystery to me. With Iris I always seemed to just know why she was crying even if I couldn’t actually make her stop. Most of the time with Astrid I have no idea whatsoever. I don’t know if she’s a more complicated baby or if it’s because I’ve not been myself for most of her babyhood. When she was really tiny she often became completely inconsolable in public, and I couldn’t handle the judgemental stares of strangers or the stress of trying to get us all home with her shouting. It happens far less often now, but it still happens. 

Her first word was ‘cat’ and I wasn’t surprised. She loves the cats. Margot isn’t interested in human affection at all and avoids her, but Galahad loves a snuggle and she loves nothing more than stroking him and laughing at him (and tugging his fur a little bit). He seems to know how she feels about him and he likes to hang around her. She also says ‘hiya’ regularly and loudly. When she spots a big sister, or when people walk into a room. Lots of objects have become toy phones, which she holds around the back of her head (nowhere near her ear!) and shouts HIYA at. ‘Dada’ is said in context, mostly called out when he leaves the room and she’s not sure why or where he has gone. Most recently she’s started saying ‘yeah’ when you ask her a question. She seems to sense the tone of a question even if she has no idea what you asked. 

She’s crawling at high speed, and there’s no escaping her now! She follows me all around the downstairs and the days of being unable to go to the loo in peace are back. She also climbs, and it’s often really scary. I don’t want to be right behind her undermining her all the time, because climbing is clearly her thing and she’s good at it, but it terrifies me! I have to secretly cringe in fear from a bit further away. Rearranging furniture to stop her from climbing anywhere really dangerous takes up a lot of my day. I think walking is a little way off, which I’m a bit relieved about. She took her first steps on the afternoon of her birthday, and the odd step since, but doesn’t seem particularly bothered. She does let go and stand unaided for a long time quite often, and she whizzes around at high speed pushing a sit on ladybird that she can’t sit on because her feet don’t reach the floor. She’s my last baby, and I’m happy that she’s in no rush to stop being a baby! 

Her sleep is fantastic compare to Iris as a baby. Compared to Iris now actually! She mostly sleeps all through the night, unless she’s got a cough or something or she’s disturbed by Iris being noisy. To the parents out there with babies who never sleep, please don’t think I’m boasting. I’m not. I haven’t done any sleep training or tried to make her sleep through. It’s just who she is. I can’t say I’m not relieved, but I do know your pain at the lack of sleep. Iris never slept as a baby and is still rubbish at 2 and a half. Unfortunately Astrid is an early bird and I am not. When she pokes me awake at 5am I am not amused. 

Day time naps are down to two, usually around 10 and 2 but currently less predictable, which I think may mean they are about to change. If she’s up early (she usually is!) she’ll sleep at 9am and on a day when Iris goes to nursery in the morning there’s no noise to disturb her, meaning that sometimes she gives me a full two hours to get some housework done without her ‘help’. 

Astrid eats like she’s got a bottomless stomach. Iris was the same but I think Astrid’s appetite is even bigger. She will literally eat all day if there’s food available. I have to be careful that she doesn’t, because when she overeats she gets tummy ache and trapped wind which really upsets her. Thankfully she will eat all of the healthy stuff. Apart from bananas, which she won’t even consider eating, I’ve not found another thing she doesn’t like. Over Christmas she even enjoyed a pickled onion or three. 

Astrid loves being outdoors, especially now she can crawl. I’ve let her down a bit by not being outdoors enough lately, but I plan to rectify it. I’ve invested in waterproof trousers for her, and have no problem at all with her crawling around in the mud and wet grass. I was so looking forward to the crawling stage so she wouldn’t have to be restricted to the sling or pushchair while we were out, but I haven’t made the most of it at all. 

She has just two teeth, the bottom front ones. The same two Iris had when she turned one. It seems I make slow teethers. It doesn’t hold her back from eating crunchy foods, and they came through without too much of a struggle. I’m half expecting her to get a whole bunch more all at once now, like Iris did. Her hair is getting long now, and hangs in her eyes. I can’t decide if I should trim her fringe or keep trying to sweep it to one side until it tucks behind her ear. She will not tolerate a clip for more than a few minutes! I was expecting another bald baby like Iris, who has only really grown hair since turning two. I’m amazed at how blonde Astrid is too! 

She’s a much bigger baby, and is wearing clothes that Iris was wearing this time last year at 18 months. Unlike my long limbed Iris, she’s sturdy and more compact. She was weighed when she had her vaccinations recently, and weighs 20lb. That’s her first weigh in since she was tiny and probably her last for a long while. I’ve never really understood the point in constantly weighing babies unless you have concerns about them. She’s energetic and eating well and growing. 

I really hoped we’d still be breastfeeding, but yet again we didn’t make it to the first birthday. It went exactly the same way it did with Iris, only I couldn’t blame it on pregnancy this time. She just lost interest. She was down to one feed in the evening at around 10 months, and then gradually lost interest in that feed too. Her last feed was a few days before her birthday, and I had no idea it was going to be her last feed. I offered several more times but she just didn’t care. I’m gutted but also relieved. I have so many friends who would happily wean their older children off the breast but can’t without a battle and upsetting the child. At least I won’t have to go through that. I think feeding older children is amazing, but I’m not sure I could handle it. Once they start wriggling I start feeling uncomfortable. It feels like an invasion of my personal space when they start trying to put their big toe up your nose during a feed. Astrid also liked to attempt to pick a mole off my neck while feeding which was painful, and she’d get cross and cry if I tried to get her to stop. She scratched too, and hit me several times. Our no-boob cuddles are much nicer. She’s a very snugly girl and loves a cuddle! 

I hope that being in my dark cloud for the whole of her first year hasn’t affected our bond forever. She seems pretty attached to me, which is a good sign. I will forever feel awful that I’ve been here physically but not really in spirit for her months as a baby. 

She’s a joy. She really is. Her big round squishy face makes me so happy, especially when she gives me one of her big beaming smiles and shows me her dimples and her two teeth. She’s lots of fun and already has a great sense of humour. I can’t imagine life without her. I barely even remember what it was like to just have Iris. 

I’m determined that this next year will be a much much better one, and so far it’s going well. 

Happy first birthday Beanie. We love you.  

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Taking a little break

My New Years resolutions list is long and complicated, and there is quite a bit of work to put in. I’m terrible for becoming distracted by the internet, so to make it easier for myself I’m going to be taking a little break from blogging and tweeting. 

For my real life people, my private Facebook and instagram will still be used (mainly because I like looking at old pictures on Timehop – I feel like I’m leaving little gifts for future me!) but I might turn the notifications off. 

I’m thinking of this being like a ‘dry january’ but actually I’m not setting a date to return. I might just stay away for a week or this could last a bit longer. Whatever feels good. 

Happy 2017! 

Dick Whittington! A night out at the panto. 

This time last year, Rhondda Cynon Taff council invited us along to see Cinderella, a pantomime at Aberdare’s Coliseum Theatre and we had an absolute ball. So obviously we were absolutely delighted to be given the opportunity again this year, and last night me and Iris went along. As we live just over the mountain from the village used as the set for Sky One comedy series ‘Stella’ we’re big fans, and a member of the cast has joined the panto again. This year it’s Di Botcher, or ‘Auntie Brenda’, playing Fairy Auntie Bobells. Frank Vickery returns as Sarah the cook, and Maxwell James is yet again the heart throb of the show as Dick Whittington. Johnny Tudor (also in Stella, as well as 3 episodes of Gavin and Stacey) plays Alderman Fitzwarren. For me though, the real star of the show is Ryan Owen as Tommy the cat who has the best costume, the funniest lines and great songs including Taylor Swift’s ‘Shake it Off’. 

The costumes are really incredible. Tommy the cat is clad in tight Lycra with fur, heavy make up and pointy ears. Dick Whittington looks great in his stripy leggings, and King Rat has very sinister glowing red eyes! The wildest costumes, as always, are reserved for the pantomime dame. Sarah the Cook has some really impressive costume changes that made me and the rest of the audience laugh out loud! Iris gave me a look after one costume change that clearly said ‘what on earth is she wearing?’. The crew of dancers changed often too, with my personal favourite being the super sparkly rat costumes with long bumpy tails. The scenery was beautifully painted, and the set looked great. There were many location changes and they were done so well. 

The best bits of any pantomime are the songs, and there were some really great ones. Iris’s favourite was a slightly altered version of the Paw Patrol theme tune, and mine was a hilariously chaotic version of ’12 Days of Christmas’ that left me exhausted just watching. The actors must be so tired from doing that every night! The story finishes with a happy ending, of course, and a song from Hairspray that really got us up and dancing. A strange coincidence as we’d watched Hairspray on TV earlier in the day. 

As an English person in Wales, I still find the accent and the way people speak really fascinating. The panto is extra amusing because most of the characters have a Welsh accent, even though it wasn’t set in Wales, and there were lots of references to local places that got everybody laughing. Even me, with my limited knowledge of the area. 

I think the crew of dancers were mostly the same ones as last year, and some of them look really very young. Being part of the panto must be such an incredible thing to do as a child! The routines were wonderful, and Iris spent as much of the evening as I would let her dancing in the aisle trying to copy the dance moves. She’s pretty groovy, my curly haired girl. Audience participation is such a big part of the show. Lots of booing and hissing was done, as well as plenty of “Oh no we didn’t”s. 

Having ice cream from our favourite place, Sub Zero, available in the interval was an extra bit of magic that we didn’t expect. We had an absolute blast, and it’s started the Christmas season of nicely. Pantomime is such a big Christmas tradition, and being able to share it with Iris is great. She’s been talking about last night’s ‘Christmas Show’ all day today so it’s obviously stick with her even though the story and jokes mostly went over her head. 

There are only a couple of shows left at the Coliseum before it moves to the Park and Dare in Treorchy. If you’re looking for a really Christmassy thing to do with your family in the local area then this is it. It really gets you in the mood for the celebrations! Tickets are available here, from the RCT Arts website, but hurry up because they are selling out fast! 

*We were invited along free of charge in exchange for an honest review. All words and opinions are my own. Picture credit to RCT Council*

Embracing Christmas in November 

Around this time last year I wrote this old post about Christmas in November. It’s grumpy. I’m my defence I was very very very pregnant. 

Actually, I still agree with some of it. I hate that it’s just a big push to get us to spend more and more money. Toy adverts are the worst! And don’t even get me started on Black Friday. Bleaugh! 

I do feel quite differently this year though. Maybe because I’m not pregnant and uncomfortable, but also because Iris is really getting into to. For the first time, she’s old enough to have an understanding of it all. We’ve not talked much about presents, but she’s been chatting about Christmas trees and sparkly lights and Santa for a couple of weeks now. She’s even got a part in her nursery show. She’s going to be a star! 

Astrid will turn one just after Christmas, so she’s not a teeny baby anymore either. She obviously has no idea what Christmas is, but she’s definitely old enough to really enjoy it. She’s much more sociable than Iris was as a baby, and loves being surrounded by people. I’m a bit scared she’s going to pull the Christmas tree over, but I think Christmas with her around is going to be a lot of fun! 

I’m not even slightly miffed by the two houses in our street that already have decorations up, and I’ve already bought some presents! I might even let the kids put the tree up early! This picture is from last Christmas, and that is water in Iris’s glass! 

What’s new in the mouse house

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Actually, not much really.

I’ve just renewed my domain thingy which costs actual real money, and it made me think that maybe I should try a bit harder with this blog thing. I’ve been saying that for months actually, but I can’t quite find enough balance in our busy life. There’s just not much room for this, but I wish there was. I’ve always found writing about my life very therapeutic, and I still do. I really love having things written down to look back on too. I quite often read my old posts when they pop up on Timehop.

On the whole, life is really good right now. Apart from the usual money worries (how is Christmas so soon??) we’re doing really well. My mental health was worrying me for a while, but I feel like I’ve really got a grip of things at the moment. I’ve been feeling quite a bit better physically too, with migraines now a very rare occurrence and they’re mild even when they do appear. A combination of amitryptaline and sertraline seems to really work for me. I’ve had no aura, no flashing lights in my vision, and much less neurological pain. I’m tired though, and I haven’t been looking after myself. I still eat too much junk food. I really don’t need a big bar of chocolate every evening, but somehow I feel like I do. I’ve put weight on, I’m sure. Which isn’t great because I want to lose quite a bit, but it’s not the end of the world.

The big kids are doing great, with the eldest being made house captain at her school. Their days with us have been full of fun, with lots of train trips and boat trips and days spent in Techniquest doing science. Second kid made a gorgeous crown for a school project, and biggest kid has got really into photography. She turns 11 next week and has asked for a fancy camera.

Iris is still going to the local nursery two mornings a week and absolutely loves it. It’s a bilingual setting, and she keeps singing Welsh songs at home! She’s starting praising me in Welsh when I’ve done something ‘clever’ like using the toilet. Da iawn Mummy! I have no idea what she’s been getting up to there, but there’s a coffee morning coming up where I can talk to her key worker about how she’s doing. I’m really looking forward to it. It’s half term now, and I know she’s really going to miss it. She does have a Halloween disco to go to on Friday though! She’s got a witch costume but keeps telling me she doesn’t want to wear it, so she’ll probably go in her usual clothes.

We’ve not been letting the colder weather keep us indoors, which is lucky really as Iris now knows there’s a whole tv channel that just shows Peppa Pig all day every day and if we stayed at home she’d insist on watching it constantly. Because it’s been colder, we often get the big park in Pontypridd all to ourselves. If we go towards the end of the day there’s a tannoy announcement about the park closing, and Iris takes it much better from the tannoy than from me. This has reduced the amount of public tantrums by quite a few!

Astrid is doing really well. I planned to use the time Iris spends at nursery to spend some time with just Astrid, but she’s decided to sleep all morning nearly every time. It means I get some time to myself, but also means I have no excuse to ignore the dishes and laundry!

After struggling to dye my roots I decided that bleachy blonde hair was way too much hard work, and this week I went brunette. The plan is that it’s similar to my natural colour and so I can just stop dying my hair now. It’s just too much work and I can’t be bothered. I’ll probably change my mind. I have trouble committing to one colour!

With Astrid going to sleep pretty early in the evenings with Iris not far behind, I feel like we’ve got a little bit of time for us again. It’s nice. We’ve been watching Grey’s Anatomy from the beginning again. It’s weirdly nostalgic for me. Even though I was very late to it as a series, I watched it all when Iris was a tiny newborn. She never slept so I gave up going to bed. It’s such a good series and it kept me from getting really down during the worst days of sleep deprivation. Trevor caught the odd episode here and there, and he’s now enjoying filling in the gaps. I feel a bit bad about all the hours we’re spending watching tv because I really want to read some of my pile of unread books. I guess they can wait. One benefit to tv over books is that I can do something else at the same time. I’ve been crocheting loads, and finally finished Astrid’s star blanket that I started before she was born. Iris has one I made two years ago, and it’s nice that they’ve got one each now. I also made Iris a doll, which she has named ‘Jo with the bow’, but she refuses to play with it and says she doesn’t like it. I’m trying not to let that upset me!

My sister had a new baby when we were away camping in August, and we’ve been trying to get together as often as possible so we can all get to know my new baby niece. It’s great to get all the kids together anyway, as our little two and my sister’s three are all similar ages. I think cousins should be your first friends if possible, and I didn’t spend much time with mine as a kid. Now we’re not in contact at all, and I’d love for my kids and my sister’s kids to be there for each other even when they’re all grown up.

There’s been talk of getting a new kitchen here, even though we’re a long way from having the cash for it. I’m trying to convince Trevor that we need a dishwasher, but I don’t think he’s persuaded yet. We have a fairly good size kitchen, but it’s poorly designed and laid out in such a way that we actually don’t have much surface or storage space. If it was shuffled around we could easily fit a dishwasher plus more cupboards and more worktop space. Our bathroom needs doing too, plus we have a small hallway with a bare concrete floor that needs carpet or something. Our daft dog Seb has a thing for eating underlay and will happily rip up carpet to get to it. Thankfully that tiny hall was the only bit of carpet downstairs. Perhaps it might be better to put laminate in there.

I’ve started to think about what I want to do when it’s time for me to go back to work. I don’t think I’ll be doing anything anytime soon because childcare for two is too expensive. I’m thinking about not going anywhere to work at all, but childminding from home. I have a couple of friends who do it, and although hard work it does look like a good way to make some cash. I’ve worked with small children most of my adult life and have the relevant qualifications already, so it makes sense. I don’t plan on doing anything at least until next September when Iris will start nursery class at school. We applied for her place last week, which felt like a parenting milestone I was not ready for. She’s only 2!

It’s getting colder and the heating has been on a little bit for the first time this season. It feels like winter is finally on it’s way and I’m relieved for a change. Halloween has been spoilt a little bit this year by those stupid idiots dressing as clowns that we keep seeing on the news. The big kids have said they don’t want to go outside on Halloween, and I don’t feel much like it either. There have been quite a few clowns reported to police around here. Hopefully bonfire night will be better! We went to the display in Ynysangharad Park last year, and it was great. We’ll probably do the same this year. I love the big organised displays, but seeing fireworks for sale in supermarkets makes me nervous. How can it be right that anybody can pick up explosives when they’re just popping in for some bread?

We’ve started thinking about Christmas here, and like every year we’ve decided not to buy as much, even though we never manage to stick to any kind of budget. I want to buy Iris a balance bike and perhaps a Lottie doll but other than that I have no idea. Astrid has all of the old toys belonging to three big sisters to play with, so she really doesn’t need anything. Plus she’ll turn 1 just a couple of weeks later, meaning she’ll get even more presents she doesn’t need! I think we’re going to need a serious sort out before we do any shopping.

I don’t have any more news I want to record, so I’m signing off here. I’ll probably think of something else in a minute!

Autumn. Again.

Photo 02-10-2016, 17 24 29.pngNormally at this time of year I’m completely in denial about the summer ending and autumn beginning, but this year I am not.

I’m not sure if it’s having babies or all the extra weight I’m carrying around, but I’ve gone from being the person who is always cold to always being hot and sweaty. I’ve had enough now. I don’t look good in summer dresses or bikinis. I want layers and knitwear and clunky boots. If I really must wear a dress I want to wear it with woolly tights. I definitely want to stop caring about how hairy my legs are now. photo-02-10-2016-17-32-58

Why does it keep raining when it is far too warm to wear a coat?

I also feel kind of odd about the cooler weather coming. Winter means Astrid’s birthday, and I just don’t understand how I don’t have a newborn anymore. When did that happen?

photo-02-10-2016-17-32-46We’ve already been collecting conkers. Iris has a whole bucket full of them and I have no idea what to do with them. Any crafty conker ideas this way please! At 27 months, I think Iris is just about starting to appreciate craft activities. Somehow autumn feels like craft season. I’ve been crocheting quite a bit when I can, and I really feel like doing some knitting. Or maybe cross stitch. Iris loves playing with glue and glitter, so I really should come up with some new ideas for things she can create. photo-02-10-2016-17-33-48

Halloween and Bonfire Night are two of my favourite celebrations! I’m really looking forward to carving pumpkins and watching fireworks. I’m a little bit worried that Iris won’t like fireworks this year. She’s developed a bit of a sensitivity to loud noises recently, and gets quite scared when noisy vehicles pass by or a hand dryer unexpectedly comes on. It’ll be a shame if we have to skip the display in our local park. It was so good last year! photo-02-10-2016-17-33-56

I sometimes write a list of things I want to do or achieve in Autumn. It helps to keep me motivated to fill our days when the cold weather is getting me down, but I don’t feel like it this year. I’ve got lots of ideas and want to do lots of fun things! I want to keep us outdoors as much as possible whatever the weather. I don’t cope well with being trapped indoors, and both of my little ones seem to have inherited that. DSC01970.JPG

Waterproofs and welly boots at the ready, we’ll still be having adventures all over!

 

Our week in pictures #7

It actually not a week, but I do want to get back to doing this weekly on a friday, so I need to cut a week a bit short to make up for the long ones. 

Thursday was New Year’s Eve. We planned a quiet day indoors, but we were all so desperate for fresh air (especially Seb!) that we ended up playing football in the rain on the local playing field. I didn’t actually play, as just the walk up there nearly finished me off. Iris and the girls had a great time though, and it was just what they needed before settling down for an afternoon/evening of play dough, movies, board games and biscuit making. I took a long nap with Iris even though I’d had a lie in too, and all of us lasted until midnight. Apart from iris, obviously. Although she did stay up until almost 11 and for a while I did think she might make it! 

New Year’s Day was rotten for me. I slept in, but still woke up feeling like I hadn’t slept in months. I haven’t, actually. I had Braxton Hicks and period like pains all day long, and just couldn’t get comfy anywhere. I ached all over and had a terrible headache. I couldn’t settle at bedtime either, and ended up running a bath at 2am only to leave it to go cold because Iris woke up and needed me. Instead I had a bath at 4am and finally got to sleep sometime soon after. 

Meanwhile, Trevor and the kids had a much nicer day. While I was around, I didn’t feel very present. I was a bit like a zombie. They took the dog to the field again for a football game, played battleships and Trevor’s ukelele, and cooked a huge turkey roast dinner. The kids messed around in the bath, and they all watched the first Star Wars film. I did a bit of crochet and zoned in and out, wondering if I was ill or if things were about to kick off. 

This morning I’ve woken up aching and exhausted so lovely Trevor has sent me back to bed. It’s officially the end of Christmas now, as the big kids go back to their mum today to get ready for their return to school. I’ve just got today and tomorrow to make the most of these naps and then Trevor will be back at work too. I’m dreading it!