Sunday, 29 January 2012

The Truth

Today, in Next, i held up a pair of jeans and declared "Surely i'm not THAT fat?!" to which Chris replied "I wouldn't have said so, no"

Off i trundled to the changing discover that they were in fact a perfect fit.

I would have eaten my hat, except that it's probably that kind of behaviour that resulted me being this size in the first place!

Yes, yes, i know, i had a baby...two in fact in the past two years, but still.  As much as i'd like to blame Rudy for the size of my hips, the truth is that he is 3.5 months old now, and when Toby was his age i actually weighed less than i had done pre-pregnancy with him.  Admittedly, i didn't put on as much weight during my pregnancy with Toby as i had the pesky hyperemesis to deal with whereas with Rudy i was just constantly starving but still, i can't help feeling that there's more to it than baby weight.

No one wants to spend hundreds of pounds that they don't have on clothes they'll only wear for a few months so i've just been wearing my maternity clothes/leggings and baggy tops since Rudy was born, figuring i wouldn't be in them for very long but today i gave up, or should that be gave in, and bought myself a pair of a size 16.

I'm not too depressed.  But it was a bit of a shock. There was so much material, and yet, only just enough to fasten up around me- how can that be?!

I was a size 12 before i got pregnant and had recently treated myself to a few pairs of lovely jeans, which are now sitting in a pile in the bottom of the wardrobe.  Like so many Mamas i now have "those jeans" that i am keeping in case i can "one day" squeeze back into them.

In the meantime i have a doughnut addiction which i daren't give up on in case it morphs into something more sinister.  These are hard times! What's a doughnut between friends?!

I don't know what possessed us to go shopping on a Sunday anyway.  We went to The Trafford Centre and the world and his wife was there, of course, since it's a weekend and all.  I promised Toby he could ride around in one of those "Fun buggies" (Little tikes cars with handles for parents to push) but when we got to the stand- they were all gone! Every single one was out and in use.  So we hung around until someone returned theirs, which thankfully didn't take too long.  A few others were waiting too.  It was a little crazy.  Toby loves them though, he thinks he is really driving around and the faster you push him the more he steers, it's hilarious to watch.

Here he is in action:

Aside from the giant jeans, we bought clothes for both the boys and some new wellies for Toby as his current pair are too small.  Chris looked for some shoes for himself but they didn't have his size in the ones he wanted so he came home empty handed.

We did have coffee and cake at Starbucks though, well Toby had a smoothie and a snack.  If yesterday's post re: the horror of the five chocolate doughnuts offended your sensibilities then you possibly shouldn't look at this next picture!

Yes, that is choc-choc.  Bad Mummy again.  He was offered a nutritious lunch of chicken and sweetcorn soup and bread before we went out (which he refused, apart from the bread) and he did have quorn fajitas for tea, so i don't just feed him sweets and treats all the time, honest!

Rudy enjoyed looking around at everything as we walked around, we had him in the pram today (the carseat on the quinny frame) so he was just lay back taking it all in.  I thought he might be hungry when we were at Starbucks but he just latched on for long enough for my milk to let down and then decided he was more interested in everyone walking past, cue me flashing folk and him getting a very soggy shoulder from all the milk.  Feeding in public has never really bothered me but the off/on messing around, "yes i'm hungry oh no wait what was that shiny thing?!" phase it is a bit of a nuisance if i'm honest!

He had his second go in the bumbo today-

He doesn't hate it but i wouldn't say he loves it either.  Toby was a big fan from the word go and would have happily sat in it for hours i'm sure but Rudy isn't like that anyway, he will tolerate the bumbo/vibrating chair/inflatable nest for a short time and then let you know quite clearly when he's had enough.  I don't really like labels for babies or children as i think they can often be unhelpful and become a bit of a self fulfilling prophecy, especially when they're so young but i don't think there's any denying that Rudy is a high needs baby.  He is just so sensitive, and not at all what i was expecting from our second child.

I know everyone tells you that your second baby might not be anything like your first and in my head i knew that was possibility and nodded along when people reminded me of the fact when i was pregnant.

But really, deep down i think i thought "Of course they'll be alike, they'll be almost the same!" How could they not be?! 2 baby boys, from the same parents, 2 years apart, raised the same way...

In the early days and weeks after Rudy's arrival people kept telling me how lucky i was to have such a good baby as they'd see us out and about and he'd be asleep in his carseat, not causing any "trouble" and i'd nod and agree, although secretly thinking that all babies are in fact "good" How can a baby be bad?! And also wondering if they'd say the same thing in the middle of the night when he wanted feeding for the 3rd or 4th time ;)

But anyway, i digress.  The first few weeks were actually much easier than i'd expected and Rudy seemed quite content, but once he got out of that newborn "will sleep anywhere, anytime, through any amount of noise" stage and moved into the "Oooh this is an interesting world, what's going on now?" phase, things got a lot harder and we began to learn more about the personality of this new little person in our family, and no, he is not in fact like his big brother at all!

I feel bad comparing the two, because i love them both equally, but it's hard not to compare as we only have the two of them so of course we draw similarities and spot differences, it's only natural.

I am trying hard to see Rudy as his own little person though, and get my head around the idea that he is different and seems to have different needs and that i need to learn how to meet those and respond to them as best as i can even if it means coming up with new ways of doing things.

It's been a shock but the truth is that
a. Rudy is not "Toby Take Two"and
b.  i am actually much fatter than i think i am!

Saturday, 28 January 2012


If yesterday was fun, today was pretty much the opposite of fun.

I guess it was slightly productive, which is something at least, because some days are neither fun nor productive, and those really are the worst.

I wasn't going to bother blogging about it to be honest but then i thought that wouldn't really give a very balanced view so here i am!

Toby woke us all up early, i had a pounding headache from the moment i opened my eyes (bloody sinuses!) Chris was working last night and still isn't feeling well so he had a couple of extra hours in bed, Rudy was in one of those moods where he wanted to sleep but didn't know how to, and it all just culminated in me wishing i had some valium to hand by about 10am.  Toby also picked the one day that we had zero food in the house to decide to be completely ravenous and un-fillable! I realised we would need to go to the supermarket.  On a Saturday.  I started to get dressed but by this point felt like i was teetering on the verge of a complete nervous breakdown and decided that it would better not to have one in Tesco so put my pyjamas back on and went to bed with Rudy for a couple of hours whilst Chris sorted Toby out with some bizarre concoction for lunch (sausage, mash and ravioli anyone?!)

After a bit of sleep i managed to gain some perspective (which is not always easy when you're being screamed at non stop) and felt ready to tackle the shops so i headed out with the boys as by that point Chris was about to head out to work again.

I got in the car and realised we had no petrol, i decided i could either a. start crying, but that didn't seem like it would be the most helpful option, however tempting, or b. stress myself out further by going to get some or c. drive steadily to the nearest supermarket and hope the fuel warning indicator was just being a worry-wart.  I opted for c and we went to Morrisons, which is just round the corner in Reddish, we hardly ever go there, in fact i don't think i've been there since i was mid way through my pregnancy with Rudy to be honest!

On the way i began to wonder if i had finally in fact gone completely insane, food shopping with a toddler and baby on my own on the busiest shopping day of the week, at teatime, when we were all fairly hungry but once we got there, it was in fact totally fine.  I don't understand the layout at Morrisons at all, it's like some kind of weird code they have going on, otherwise why else wouldn't sour cream live with all the other condiments and why would baby wipes and nappies be in completely different aisles?!

But other than that it was ok, Toby sat in the trolley, chatting to me about what he could see, and i had Rudy in the stretchy wrap, bobbing along looking sleepy but steadfastly refusing to close his eyes, and i whizzed round as quickly as i could and got us all back in the car where i rewarded Toby with an innocent smoothie which kept him happy for the drive home.

Thankfully Rudy slept on the way back and even miraculously stayed asleep once we got back, for about twenty minutes anyway which gave me time to unload the car, unpack the shopping and cook me and Toby a cheese pizza to share...i know, i know, terrible Mummy feeding my toddler pizza.  If you think that's bad you should stop reading now...

As i was unpacking the shopping Toby discovered a box of mini chocolate doughnuts i'd bought as a treat and started pestering for one.  I decided one wouldn't hurt so opened them, said "pick one" and let him take one then closed it and carried on unpacking the shopping, unbeknownst to me he had managed to get back into the packet and when i came back in the room he was shovelling another one in his mouth saying "Pick One!"

I laughed and said "Ok, that's enough, Mummy's making pizza now"and took them away, as i was putting them on the counter in the kitchen i thought "there doesn't look to be many doughnuts in there" It was meant to be a pack of twenty so i counted them and to my horror discovered that either Morrisons bakery lies about the amount of doughnuts in it's packs, or else Toby ate FIVE MINI CHOCOLATE DOUGHNUTS in the space of about 2 minutes, and right before his healthy and nutritious cheese pizza dinner!

I am a disgrace to motherhood.  I shall go hang my head in shame.

Bedtime was tricky as Toby was a little giddy (probably from the all the sugar he consumed right before i expect) and Rudy was overtired.  Plus Chris was in work obviously so i was juggling them both on my own again.  But they did both finally go to sleep and i rewarded myself with a large glass of baileys and watching "Call the midwife" on iplayer, whilst ordering an online grocery shop to arrive next week so that we don't have a day like today again!

Friday, 27 January 2012

What a fun Friday!

That wasn't meant to sound sarcastic by the way! It really has been great! :)

This morning we went to MOSI (The Museum of Science and Industry)  Every month they run a session called Experitots aimed at under 5's, it's in their "Experiment Gallery" which has all these fun interactive installments, like for example, an "earthquake table" which has wooden building blocks and a wheel that you spin which creates tremors to simulate and earthquake so the blocks fall down.  That's just an example, because it was one of Toby's favourites today, i mean they have loads of things like that, which are permanent fixtures, and then for the session they also put out a lot of other things, like tables for crafts, play tunnels and pop up tents, lots of soft mats for babies and floor cushions, musical instruments and puppets, wooden toys, balls etc etc etc.

It's basically toddler heaven.

We went for the first time in December and Toby LOVED it, he was just racing from one thing to another to another.

At the end of the session, they have story time, and since the December session was the week before Christmas, the story was Christmas-themed and Santa arrived midway through it.  That kind of backfired for us a little today as we pulled up in the carpark and Toby declared "SANTA!" He wasn't in the slightest bit disappointed once we actually got inside however, as experitots is far too much fun to dwell on little things like that ;)

Aside from the earthquake table he really enjoyed the "bubbles" (his word for it) today, which is one of the installments and has three tubes of liquid of various viscosities, and you push a lever to force air into them to see how the bubbles are different in each one.  Clearly, at 2 years old, all Toby knows is that there are big tubes of coloured liquid and he can make bubbles in them, and that is awesome enough!

Being train obsessed he also spent a fair amount of time "driving" in a wooden train (which seems to be a big hit with all the toddlers actually, there's always a bit of a 'queue' for it (read: Toddlers hanging around it looking forlorn)  Here he is with a rabbit for a passenger (He suggested i might like to join him in there at one point but i told him it might be a bit of a squeeze!)

A couple of funny things happened to us while we there actually, the first was that while we were playing with the aforementioned table, building up our blocks ready to rumble them down someone came over and commented on Rudy being in the sling (i had him in the stretchy) I thought it was just a case of random-stranger-accosting-babywearer but then she said "You're not on Natural Mamas are you?!" and it turned out to be a mama from one of the parenting forums i go on and she was there with her little boy who is a similar age to Toby.  So that was a pleasant surprise!

Then a bit later i saw a toddler crawl out of a play tunnel and thought "I recognise you!" so looked for a parent and spotted his Dad and thought "I recognise you too!" and it turned out that they were the husband and son of a nurse friend i met through a student nurse forum when we were both doing our training! And they're not from Manchester either so it was a funny coincidence us bumping into them!

Aside from randomly coming across people i know from various forums, and spotting lots of fellow babywearers, we had fun just running from one attraction to the next.  Rudy was awake pretty much the whole time, leaning back out of the stretchy wrap trying to see what was going on, then at various points looking like he might doze off but then changing his mind again!

Today's theme was "counting" so at the end we had two stories involving numbers and lots of numeracy related songs, like "five little speckled frogs" etc!  They finished with "The Hokey Cokey" which i haven't heard anyone sing in years, and i don't think Toby has heard anyone sing EVER but he ran straight to the circle to join in, which surprised me, and stayed there even when he realised i couldn't follow (i'd taken Rudy out of the sling to feed him so had him in my arms) He looked a bit lost at first as he didn't know what the actions were or what was going on but a lovely lady holding one of his hands noticed he looked a bit bewildered and gave him a bit of encouragement and guidance, cue lots of big grins! Unfortunately none i managed to capture on camera but still, here he is!

So guess what he has wanted to sing for the rest of the day?! Except he can't say "Hokey Cokey" so he says something which sounds vaguely along the lines of "Okay Doggies"?! Or something like that.  And we figured out what he was on about and spent some time whilst tea was cooking doing some singing and dancing much to his delight!

Rudy slept a little on the way there and back but not much considering he was awake most of the morning beforehand and then the whole 2 hours that we were there.  So after lunch he did his usual "I am tired but refuse to go to sleep" screaming and flailing, and then quite suddenly fell fast asleep in my arms as i paced the living room floor with him.  I decided to try something a bit different and took him upstairs and put him on our bed to see if he would sleep on there while i put some laundry away and lo and behold he slept for two whole hours! It was amazing, and must have felt good for him too.

I don't know why but i've never tried that before but you can be sure i will do again! I can't actually take him upstairs for a nap in the sense of take him up awake and spend time up there feeding/settling him to sleep as Toby wouldn't be happy being left downstairs on his own for any length of time for fear he'd be missing out on something awesome, but i guess in future if i can get Rudy to drop off to sleep downstairs and then nip him upstairs and try to put him down it might work out better for us all.  Afternoons are normally quite stressful when we're at home as Toby fights sleep and Rudy fights sleep and all i want to do is sleep!  But today felt totally different, it was brill.

Here's the little dribble-chops in question:

He just drools and gnaws on his hands ALL the time.  I swear i'd think he was teething but he can't be surely?! He's only 15.5 weeks old, and Toby didn't get a single tooth until the week before his 1st he can't be...right?!

It's possibly wishful thinking on my part.  I'm hoping to breastfeed him for as long as i possibly can and don't much fancy teeth featuring early in the journey!

To be fair, i was still feeding Toby when he got teeth and he rarely bit me and although it was a shock when he did, i don't think it was any more painful than when he used to gum down on my nipples well before the teeth actually came through- yeowch!

Anyway, back to today.  It was really nice.  I'm on my own with them again this evening as Chris is at work but again bedtime went fairly smoothly and they're both asleep as i write this, which means kindle time for me ;)

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Parents Evening

It was "Parents Evening" at Toby's nursery today.  I know he only goes one day per week but we still went along to see how he's doing and what he's been up to.

It was pretty crazy while we were there, a room full of toddlers and all their parents turning up and wanting to speak to the staff at the same time.  We had Rudy with us who was quietly surveying the chaos with wide eyes.  A little boy we didn't recognise came over and hit him at one point so had to be 'told off' by Chris and one of the nursery nurses!

Toby thought the whole thing was very odd.

First up, it was the wrong day (Tuesday, not Thursday!) and secondly, it was the wrong time (it was dark when we got there!) and thirdly, we didn't drop him off and leave- we were hanging around! You could see his little brain trying to work it all out.  He seemed to think it was quite fun though, he was showing us all the things he plays with, like the "Nee-naw Sam Hat" (Fireman Helmet) and was making us "dinner" (serving us plastic pretend food)

His key-worker has changed again, for what feels like the millionth time but must actually be about the fourth or fifth time.  We didn't know about the change, i guess it would be more important to us (and to them) if he was there full time but as he's only there one day i don't feel like it makes much of a difference, he gets cared for by whoever is working in the Rainbow Room on Thursdays and his key worker is just responsible for keeping his little file up to date and i think that's about it.

We got to look through his file and see all the paintings and pictures he's done, and read the little "observations" they do as part of the EYFS.  They do these "short observations" where they watch him playing/doing an activity for 5-10 minutes and then these longer "full observations" where they sit and watch him for 20 minutes or so.  Reading them is pretty funny, when he was younger they used to say things like "Tobias sees a shiny silver ball.  He goes over to the ball and picks it up.  He says "ball" and smiles at me (the keyworker) and then he throws the ball across the room" They make me smile because i picture him doing it in my mind as i'm reading.  One of the observations i read in his file today said:

"Tobias is playing outdoors with the rest of the children.  He stands and watches two of the other children who are digging up mud with spades and placing it in to holes we have already dug up.  He turns to me and says "Dirty" and i say "Yes it is dirty" and he carries on watching the other children"

Which made me laugh as i can imagine him stood there watching them with a bemused expression like "What on earth are you guys doing that for?!" Lol.

His keyworker says he is a pleasure to have in the room, that his speech is coming along great (which we think too) and that he seems to be increasing in confidence and be happier throughout the day.  She said he doesn't have one favourite area of the room, he likes playing with all the different toys and that he is a big fan of doing painting and crafts.  She asked us what kind of things he enjoys at home at the minute and we told her that he is still totally obsessed with all forms of transportation, i.e. cars, trucks, bikes, planes, trains, tractors, helicopters, boats etc!  He is also massively into his Playdough at the minute and playing with it at least once every day, and in fact the past few days he has played with it in the morning and then moved on to something else and then later on in the afternoon when it has been tidied away, asked to get it out again.  She said they are "in the process" of getting some playdough for his room, (not sure exactly what the process is?!) so i'm sure he'll enjoy that when it happens.

It was quite nice really, as obviously we think he's awesome and don't really need anyone else to verify that but it's still good to know that he's enjoying himself when he's there and that he's not terrorising anyone or destroying anything!

We never expected to need to put him in nursery as when i was on maternity leave after having him my return to work plans were such that we'd be balancing childcare between us but then of course that all changed and he ended up starting nursery when he was just 10.5 months old for two days a week, which felt like a lot to us, since we hadn't thought he'd be going at all (if that makes sense?!)

Anyway, when it came to going on maternity leave this time, to have Rudy, we had to decide whether to continue with his 2 days, drop him down to 1 day or take him out of nursery altogether and we toyed with all 3 options but eventually opted for keeping him in just the one day, based on the fact he seemed to enjoy being there and that it would give me some one-to-one time with Rudy.  The one-to-one time hasn't really worked out exactly how i'd hoped so far, as most Thursdays since October seem to have been filled with doctors appointments/eye tests/shopping trips/housework etc! but i am trying to change that and stop filling our one special day with crap that could technically be done at some other time (all be it, that some of it would be a lot harder work with a toddler in tow, hence me scheduling it for Thursdays!)

On the whole i think it has been the right decision though as i think it gives Toby a bit of a break too.  Which possibly sounds a bit silly, but i do feel like it must be hard for him having to cope with the massive change of becoming a big brother and having this small person in the house taking up so much time and attention.  At nursery he is still just "Tobias" and it's up to him if he wants to even mention his brother (apparently he does, and talks about "Rudy" all the time, which makes me smile to think about) It's also difficult some days to find the time and energy reserves to set up crafty activities knowing he'll possibly only be interested for a very short time and then you've got all the tidying up to do afterwards, but at nursery they seem to do lots and lots of painting and cutting and sticking and baking etc, so i know that even if it's been a difficult few days and we haven't managed to do much, he'll still have that opportunity on Thursday.

We haven't yet finalised my return to work plans for this time, other than knowing that i will have to go back and that it will probably be some time in June when i do.  Depending on what we work out financially and what my work agree to etc Toby may need to come out of nursery or Rudy may need to go in, we're not actually sure which as it's all so complicated, particularly with Chris still having 18 months of uni left.  We're putting some time aside, probably later this week to sit down with what we call our "Spreadsheet of Doom" (finances!) and work out what our best options are.  Neither of us wants to as a part-time wage and a student bursary don't equate to much whereas outgoings for a growing family of four do! But i'm sure we'll figure something out!?!

Monday, 23 January 2012

A bit late...

...but here is our weekend summary!

Erm...we did nothing!  On Saturday me and Toby didn't even get dressed! Haha.

Here he is chilling in his pjs "reading" a book

Rudy used the time to catch up on his e-mails

Haha, i took that on Saturday afternoon and i just love it! :)

We just had a nice lazy weekend, which i think was what we needed after what was, in fairness, a bit of a pants week!

Chris was home for most of it, which was nice, although he started feeling unwell yesterday and thinks he might have a chest infection so is currently in bed :(

Before he started feeling totally rubbish though we did some painting!

It was a messy affair but a lot of fun! Here are the finished products:

And here are mine and Toby's handprints

And Chris and Toby's handprints

I briefly, for one mad moment, thought about trying to get one of Rudy's handprints but then decided that as he was a little tired and grumpy it was probably not the best idea so we'll save that fun for another time ;)

So a fairly quiet weekend for us but in a good way.

I'll finish with a photo of the boys together- just because they're cute when they're not driving me slightly insane ;)

Sunday, 22 January 2012

A change of title

I meant to blog about this when i actually changed it, but i had a migraine and my only defence against migraines is just to go to sleep in a dark room ASAP so off i went and totally forgot all about it.

I had initially entitled our blog "Once upon a time..." but i decided our life isn't very fairytale-esque (although we have had more than our share of wicked step-parents i think!) So i have gone for a nursery rhyme theme instead, and quite an accurate one, as life in our house is a bit like a game of "musical beds" at times...

Both Rudy and Toby spend time in the big bed with us and occasionally either Chris or i spend time in Toby's bed too.  Only Rudy's "bed" (the co-sleeper) is off limits to anyone but him really and that's only because of a weight-restriction issue, otherwise i'm sure Toby would be up for a snooze in it! Although Chris did wake up the other morning to find Toby sprawled in the middle of the bed and me and Rudy sideways and i had my head and shoulders in the co-sleeper!

And all this from a couple who never intended to co-sleep at all!

I think we always knew we would be AP-ish parents, before we'd even conceived Toby we'd talked about using cloth nappies and wearing our future babies in a papoose (love that word! But yes, i meant sling!) We fell in love with the idea of a co-sleeping crib as soon as we knew such a thing existed.  We were at "The Baby Show" in Birmingham when i was around 14 weeks pregnant with Toby and we saw an American lady with this product we'd never seen before- an "Arm's Reach Co-Sleeper" Just five minutes and a few stands earlier i'd been coo-ing over swinging cribs but suddenly that became unimportant, what she was saying made all kinds of sense- we wanted our baby right next to us.  So when Chris's Dad asked us what they could buy for us for the new arrival, we knew what to ask for straight away and sure enough a few weeks before Toby was born our co-sleeper arrived and many hours and rude-words later Chris had assembled it and attached it to our bed- hurray!

For the first three weeks of Toby's life, night-times passed as follows:

Chris and Rebecca get into bed
Chris falls asleep
Rebecca feeds Toby, burps Toby, feeds Toby some more, burps Toby
Places Toby in co-sleeper and settles him back to sleep
Toby falls asleep
Rebecca falls asleep
20 minutes later Toby wakes up for more milk please
Rebecca picks Toby out of co-sleeper and feeds Toby, burps Toby, feeds Toby some more, burps Toby
Toby does a big poo, Rebecca changes his nappy
Toby now has space for more milk please
Rebecca feeds Toby, burps Toby, feeds Toby some more, burps Toby
Toby is sick
Rebecca changes Toby's clothing and possibly her own
Rebecca places Toby in co-sleeper and settles him back to sleep
Toby falls asleep
Rebecca falls asleep
20 minutes later...

You see where i am going with this right?!

The only real variation was that occasionally i'd poke/nudge/shout/kick Chris awake, annoyed that he was sleeping and i wasn't!

I was utterly exhausted, i couldn't see straight, i couldn't think straight, i would often "catch" myself dozing off holding Toby and be terrified that one of these days (or should i say, nights!) i wouldn't catch myself falling asleep and would fall into a deep slumber and either drop or suffocate him.  I knew there had to be some other way and it turns out there is!

Co-sleeping has a terrible press, certainly in this country anyway.  Health care professionals are forever warning against it and i should know- because i'm one of them! Part of my job is to give "safe sleeping advice" to the parents i come into contact with through my job and current UK guidelines are that "the safest place for baby is in it's own cot, in your room" so that's the line i have to give.

Recently though (and this is very recently) we have new leaflets at work to give to parents who are considering co-sleeping which advises them how to do it safely and in what circumstances they should definitely not do it.  That was of no use to me though, back in December 2009!

I came across the idea of  co-sleeping as in bed-sharing (rather than having baby in a side-car crib) in a book i had bought called "The Food of Love" by Kate Evans (It's a fantastic book, and one which i intend to buy for every new Mum i know!) It turns out there was a lot i didn't know, such as the fact that whilst it is reported that incidents of SIDS are higher where baby has been co-sleeping, those figures include babies that have died from SIDS whilst sofa sleeping (which is a big no-no) and also there is no accounting for risk factors, such as babies who were bedsharing who's parents were smokers or under the influence of alcohol for example.  To sum up- statistics lie! Or rather, they don't lie but they never give the full picture.  If we look at wider society, the incidence of SIDS is actually much lower in countries where co-sleeping is the norm, for e.g. in China.

The first night we slept with Toby in our bed i didn't know any of this.  I knew nothing other than that i was tired.  Tired to my very core and my baby needed to feed, so i lay down on my side, i shoved my pillow up to the top of the bed and the duvet down to the bottom, i covered us both with a blanket, began to feed and let my eyes close...

That was the beginning of a very special journey.  A few days (and co-sleeping nights) later, i decided if we were going to do this, this "crazy" thing we'd never contemplated, and had heard could be dangerous, then we really needed to do some research and find out how we could make it safe for our baby.

And that's when it got interesting.  Because when you look at the facts and figures and the differences in sleep traditions for babies across the globe, it soon becomes clear that safe co-sleeping is actually as safe as, or indeed, safer than any of the other options.  There are guidelines as with anything, and there are times when bed sharing is really not a good idea (like on a waterbed for example! Or when one of you has had a few beers).

So after all the reading and researching and after a few decent nights of sleeping next to our baby, it made sense that that's where he and we should stay, and we became a full-time co-sleeping family from then until Toby was around 3 months old.  At which point we technically became a part-time co-sleeping family, as he decided he no longer wanted to spend his evenings snoozing/feeding downstairs whilst we sat on the sofa watching TV but would instead prefer to actually "go to bed"

So we followed his cues and began what became a long-standing routine, of taking him upstairs around 6/7pm, feeding him on our bed and then carefully transferring him into his co-sleeper crib, where he would remain for a few hours until his hungry tummy woke him (and us) usually between 10.30pm and midnight (although occasionally i'd be pleasantly surprised to discover it was actually 1 or 2am when he started to stir)

I guess our co-sleeping journey with Toby hasn't officially ended as he does still frequent our bed but it's no longer a nightly occurence as it once was, ever since we swapped his cot for a regular single bed when he was 17 months old he's been much happier to spend the whole night in it, i don't think he ever really liked those bars to be honest.

Anyway, that's perhaps another topic for another time, i really only wanted to explain our new blog title and look how much i have gone on already! If anyone does want to do further reading i'd definitely recommend Deborah Jackson's "Three in a bed" as a starting off point.

We've come a long way in our co-sleeping expedition, initially wary voyagers we have long since fully embraced the landscape we find ourselves in- we've had elbows in kidneys and feet in faces and our bottom bed sheet rarely matches the rest of the bedding as it has to cope with baby drool, vomit and the occasional nappy leak.  I think i can speak for both Chris and myself when i say some nights it would be nice to get into an empty bed and for it to stay just the two of us for the whole night, but most nights it's lovely and from a personal point of view, i'm just a big fan of anything that means i don't have to spend the long cold night hours sitting up trying to stay awake to feed an apparently nocturnal baby!

I know that this early weeks, months and years pass quickly and soon the boys will be saying they're too "grown up" for cuddles from their Mama, so i figure i should just make the most of the snuggles while i can!

Last night Chris was in work and it was my first evening on my own with the boys in a while (over a month) I was nervous all afternoon about how it would go and not at all convinced i'd be able to get them both to bed without lots of tears and stress...but actually it was absolutely fine!

We headed up early and i skipped Toby's usual bath/shower and just helped him with a wash and to brush his teeth, then Rudy watched while i got Toby's pjs on, then Toby looked at some books and had cuddles with Foxy while i fed Rudy.  I then put Rudy (happy but not sleepy) in his co-sleeper and gave Toby his bottle and he was so happy to be allowed to sleep in Mummy and Daddy's bed he fell asleep pretty much straight away! By that point Rudy was grumbling about being tired and not having any attention so i then fed him to sleep and put him back in his co-sleeper.  I then got to sit in bed with a gorgeous boy on each side of me and read my kindle and have a mug of hot chocolate :) What a lucky Mama i am!

Rudy woke up for another feed shortly after so i put my kindle away and ended up falling asleep myself afterwards.  Chris got home late to find us all snuggled up together in the bed and decided rather than disturb anyone he would spend the night on the sofa!  I did point out to him today that Toby's bed was free but he contests that Toby's bumpy single bed would actually be less comfy than the sofa (i disagree)

Tonight everyone is asleep in the "correct" place (so far anyway!) but that's a pretty unusual occurrence!

So now you know what the title is about anyway, there really are four in the bed sometimes! And in a feat that defies the very laws of physics, despite not being physically the smallest by a long way, i somehow end up being the one who takes up the least space?!  Hence "The little one" part! ;)

Saturday, 21 January 2012

A little glimmer

Yesterday was a little glimmer of sunshine at the end of a very cloudy week.  Metaphorically speaking i mean.  In terms of the actual weather, it was dull, grey and pouring with rain.

I started the day with a hot shower, my first shower in exactly one week, so that was a nice start and had me feeling quite positive to begin with, and then we actually managed to leave the house and make it to the little AP playgroup we go to in Whalley Range.  I was apprehensive about going in case it turned out that they would both just behave exactly as they did at home but with an audience (i.e. screaming, wailing and generally pushing my buttons) but in fact it was a bit of a break for us all i think, Toby enjoyed himself (although unfortunately was at the receiving end of another toddler's frustration this week so there were tears) and Rudy seemed to enjoy watching what was going on and even slept for a little bit (hurrah!)

Then in the afternoon Toby did something totally and completely unheard of, and actually HAD A NAP!  He hasn't had a daytime nap at home since before Rudy was born (he will occasionally sleep in the car, pram or sling if we're out and about and all the variables are right!)  He just snuggled down on the sofa next to me (i was feeding Rudy) and asked to be tucked in, so i covered him with a blanket and put "Something Special" on iplayer and when it finished he requested "More Tumble" so i put on another episode and half way through he rolled over and fell asleep! He had an hour and a half and woke up very confused and disorientated at tea time by which point Chris was home, so he had some Daddy snuggles and then played with his playdough while i made us all fajitas!

It was really strange and i was wondering at the time if it meant he was ill or coming down with something as he'd been saying he felt "hot" and "poorly" during the day, although his temp was actually fine.  But this morning he is bright and breezy so i guess the boy just needed a sleep!

Rudy didn't sleep of course, in fact it was pretty funny in an ironic kind of way, as as soon as Toby opened his eyes after his nap Rudy gave in and started to close his.  It's almost as though they have a pact never to sleep at the same time as each other during the day lest i get any ideas about actually having five minutes peace to myself!

I didn't really mind though, it was a good day all in all, and even if one of them naps, it's a success as far as i'm concerned.

I was also rewarded for my efforts during the week by something really quite special- Rudy's first laugh! I tickled his chin and he did a little laugh, so i did it again and he did another.  I tried to repeat it for Chris when he got home but Rudy is a serious little chap so just gave us a bemused expression instead.  Two laughs in one day is obviously quite enough as far as he's concerned.

So i'm sure that there will be more difficult days to come, today might even be one of them, but as long as i can have the occasional day like yesterday, with more smiles and laughs than tears and tantrums, then i'll be content! ;)

Thursday, 19 January 2012

The Terrible Two's

We've reached them.

And by that i mean how terribly hard it is having two children two years apart with the oldest one having only just turned two! ARGH!

I'm actually slightly hesitant to write this entry as i don't want to come across as ungrateful or a moaner but if nothing else i do want this blog to be a truthful account of life as it actually is and right now it is HARD!

Toby is going through a difficult phase.  I use the word 'difficult' here in the sense of "tricky" rather than "obstinate".  I don't think he's doing it on purpose and i'm sure it's hard for him too, he's growing and learning at an incredible rate and adjudsting to the new family dynamics, testing his boundaries, trying to learn how to control his own body and understand his own emotions.  It's a lot to handle as a tiny person and i do try to remind myself that as often as i can.

Of course it can be pretty hard to keep that in mind when he has just hit the dog over the head with one of his toys/thrown something across the room for the 7th time that hour despite having been asked nicely and then specifically instructed NOT to do so.

Life at the minute feels like an epic battle taking place across a backdrop of our house/car/the supermarket and various other 'settings' across Manchester.  Last week at playgroup, out of nowhere he quite calmly and deliberately threw a wooden toy brick in a younger toddlers face.  That is a specific example of the kind of incomprehensible and totally outrageous behaviour that has me wondering where the hell we've gone wrong.

It would be hard to deal with even if that's all i did have to deal with, but of course it's not.  Because we're blessed with two beautiful little gremlins...sorry...children, and Rudy also appears to be going through a difficult phase.  If it were a BBC gameshow it would be called "Can't sleep won't sleep" but rather than being aired once in the morning it would be the only thing broadcast ALL BLOODY DAY!

He gets tired, he fights sleep, he gets very very tired and wants to sleep, he finds it difficult to drop off and as a consequence ends up extremely over tired.  After a certain amount of time has passed and a certain quota of tears have been shed  (his and mine) he eventually falls to sleep for say, ten to twenty minutes and then it's a case of rinse and repeat ad nauseum.

I don't remember going through anything similar with Toby but that could be due to the hormonal lobotomy you get after having a baby, the one that ensures you forget the horror and remember the squishy cuddles and gurgly smiles, the one that makes it likely that you will breed again and therefore ensures the continuation of the species.

So yes. Life is tricky right now.  The majority of the day i am unable to hold any actual thoughts in my head due to the screaming/crying/wailing/shouting/shrieking but in the evening when things quieten down i like to spend my time feeling guilty/questioning myself/going over every single thing that happened during the day and worrying about my capabilites as a girlfriend, mother of two and human being in general.  It's a fun way to spend what little free time i have and i would highly recommend it to anyone (what a shame i don't have a sarcastic looking emoticon to enter here)

It goes without saying of course that i love my boys.  Even when they have me wanting to curl up in a ball on the living room rug waving a metaphorical white flag of surrender (it couldn't be an actual flag, as Toby would probably poke the dog in the eye with it) i still love them dearly and i'm sure in years to come i will remember these days with a fond smile and not shivers of terror, or indeed i may not remember them at all (see above re: mother nature and her cunning design!) In the meantime i am adopting a new mantra: "This too shall pass!" and crossing my fingers i make it through to the other side with at least part of my sanity intact.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

I'm officially a Mommy!

You may be wondering why the last 2 years and 2 months don't count, and of course, they do.  But it seems that for Toby at least it is only now becoming official as just in the last few days he has started experimenting with the idea of calling me "Mommy".

Up to now i have been "Mimmy" and i am still getting "Mimmy" at times but he has randomly started correcting himself- "Mim...Mommy?..."  He does seem to revert to "Mimmy" when he is tired or upset though.

We had to go to the GP surgery today as we had an appointment for Rudy's "8 week check" and first set of immunisations.  In case you were thinking you missed something, you didn't.  He is indeed 14 weeks old today so yes they were late!  Anyway, our appointment was at 11.10am and we were finally called through at 11.50am

Toby behaved about as well as you could possibly expect any 2 year old to behave trapped in a waiting room, which was pretty well for the majority of the time.  He did however do a spot of running and unfortunately fell and banged his head on the wall at which point, in between sobs i was most definitely and certainly "Mimmy"

I have been complaining (in a light hearted fashion) for a while now that despite his ability to say totally random words such as "walrus" and "tractor" he still wasn't properly calling me "Mummy" but now that he seems to be flirting with the idea of dropping "Mimmy" altogether i am actually feeling a little sad and wistful as it will be yet another clear sign our first baby is a baby no longer.  Which is both exciting and terrifying.

So yes.  It's taken a while but i am a "Mommy" now it seems.  In case anyone was wondering about my choice of spelling- it is because that is exactly how he says it- with a very definite "O" sound!  Maybe the more British "Mummy" will come later?

I don't think the slight change in job title, or indeed spelling is going to  make much of a difference to my actual job description at all, which on days like today is a bit of a shame as it has involved a lot more "telling off" than i'd like.  Plus there were the jabs, which to be fair, Rudy was very brave about, but it's still a horrible thing to put your child through and he was understandably grizzly this afternoon after them.  He's fast asleep in my lap at the minute anyway and looking very comfy indeed, rendering me unable to move for the past 2 hours or so and thus forcing Chris to order us pizza for dinner and fetch me cups of tea...ah the joys of being a Mim/Mom/Mummy ;)

Sunday, 15 January 2012

The Challenges

Now before i start let me first say, that i've never been one for making New Years Resolutions.

In fact, they've always seemed a fairly ridiculous notion.  Particularly since the majority of people making them don't seem to have come across the SMART acronym for making goals.

For example, i rarely see people on my Facebook feed saying "My aim is to lose 7lbs by March and to keep it off over the summer", it's more "This year's mission is to lose weight!/Get fit!/Get healthy!" all very vague if you asked me.  Plus who picks the middle of winter, when the days are cold and the nights are dark and the tummies are rumbly (or is that just me?!) to start denying themselves stodgy foods or forcing themselves outdoors for a jog? Nutters, that's who!

However this year, against my better judgement i have joined the droves of people, with what i suppose could loosely be termed, new years resolutions.

I have three.

The first one, which started it all off, is to be more adventurous when it comes to cooking.

I am not, nor will i ever be, a chef. I love eating well enough but the actual cooking part has always seemed more of an inconvenience.  And i think i'll always be someone who thinks food tastes better when someone else has done all the hard work ;) However since becoming a Mum, and ultimately becoming responsible for what someone else ingests, i have been trying my hardest to "be a better cook"

Last year, on a holiday in Whitby i came across a big recipe book in the window of a book shop:

I went in and bought it but never actually used it...until now that is ;) main "resolution" (although i prefer to think of it as a "challenge") this year is to be more adventurous when it comes to cooking, and specifically to try one new recipe each week (i think they will mainly be from the book in question, but it's not a pre-requisite)

I have managed to avoid the fate of most people who make new year's resolutions, who start off well enough but dwindle in their motivation  and enthusiasm after just a couple of weeks by doing the complete opposite, and getting off to a terrible start, with no new recipes at all for the first two weeks of the year, and then finally today i got the ball rolling.

Actually, i cheated a little...or eased myself in gently perhaps would be another way of looking at it.

For dinner today i made a meal which i have in part made on  a few occasions before, but with a "side" which i have never made before.  And the entire thing was made from scratch with fresh ingredients (which is really the aim behind the resolution, so that i know exactly what has gone into what i am serving my boys).

I made Jerk Chicken with Apple and Potato Rostis and Corn-on-the-cob

The jerk chicken i have made before a few times but usually i serve it with wedges (either frozen or home-made) and i haven't made it in a while, so like i say, a bit of a cheat but not totally as the apple and potato rostis were an entirely new experience!

Here they are, all ready to go in the oven:

And here's Toby doing his "Is dinner ready yet?!" dance.  Notice he's still in his pjs.  That's the kind of morning we had today!

And then finally, here is the finished product:

The rostis did not turn out quite how i had hoped/expected, but i think i know why as i think there was too much moisture in them so they fell apart a little.  They look a little burned in the photo too but they didn't taste burnt, the apple had just gone really crispy around the outsides.  They were tasty anyway, or at least Chris and i thought so.  Toby wasn't a fan but since he loves both the main ingredients (apple and potato- the clue is in the title!) i can only assume it was a texture issue, which is quite typical of him.  He enjoyed his chicken and corn anyway so it wasn't a total fail.

After dinner we went for a frosty (read: bloody freezing!) walk to the park, which Toby was super enthusiastic about until it became apparent that in order to climb the steps the slide he'd have to take off his mittens, at which point he seemed to become aware of just exactly how freezing it actually was and after a very brief visit to each of the attractions in the playground (swing, little slide, big slide and springy horse thing) he declared he wanted to play "hide" which is his new obsession (again, the clue is in the title!) so we spent some time kneeling behind trees and jumping out at Chris, who was resigned to pushing the pram round in circles to get Rudy to drop off to sleep)  Both boys fell asleep on the way home but it was inevitable one of them would wake up as soon as we got in the house, and today it was Rudy who claimed to be ACTUALLY STARVING MUMMY! as soon as the pram stopped moving.  Little minx.

So we had a good day really, which is nice as it's the last day of Chris's holidays, he's back at uni as of tomorrow morning after four weeks off and i have really got used to having him around to help out with the boys so i have a feeling these next few days are going to be a big shock! :(

Oh and if you were wondering what my other two challenges are, they are along similar lines, of experiencing new things.  My second one is to read one new book each month (Chris bought me a Kindle for Christmas, so that one won't be a problem at all!) and my third is to watch one new movie each month (and we just got a 6 month Love Film subscription so that one shouldn't be too tricky either!)

Who We Are

So, here we are with our new blog...but who actually are "we"?!

I thought i should probably do a little introduction, that way if anyone does decide to read this they'll have a starting off point ;)

My name is Rebecca and i'm 27.

I remember when i was a kid, hearing grown-ups say things like "I still feel young but when i look in the mirror i see an old woman looking back!" or "It seems like only yesterday i was 21!" and think to myself "What are you ON about?! You're OLD!" I just couldn't understand how such OLD people failed to recognise their OLDNESS.

Of course now i totally understand what they meant, which is a little depressing in itself.  Furthermore, i have realised that when i was a kid hearing adults say that, the adults in question probably weren't much older than i am now.

Not that i'm suggesting 27 is OLD you understand. 72 maybe.  27, no.  My point was more that i seem to have reached a stage where saying "...and i'm 27" has become a little meaningless as my age in number doesn't seem to have much effect on how old i actually feel (which, come to think of it, is probably about 95 most days)

Anyway, i digress.

My name is Rebecca and i am 27. This is me

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(I don't ALWAYS have a little person strapped to my chest, but i quite often do, so that's a fairly accurate representation!)

I live in Manchester with my little family and i'll introduce you to them now.

This is Chris


We met in 2003 and got together in October 2004.  I never know if i should call him my boyfriend (which makes us sound about 12 years old) or my partner (which makes us sound like 50+ divorcees, and on occasion has lead to people asking follow up questions along the lines of "and is your partner Chris a he, or a she?") Either way, we've been together over 7 years now and in that time we have managed to duplicate.  Not in the cloning sense you understand.  Something a little more traditional ;)

Our first son, Tobias (Toby) was born in November 2009 and just 23 months later along came our second son Rudyard (Rudy) in October 2011.  So for those of you who are just about as good at maths as i am, or simply suffering from baby brain, as we all do from time to time, that makes Toby currently 2 years and 2 months old, and Rudy has just turned 3 months.



So life is fairly chaotic in a good fun/hard work way, with most days being a fairly even split between those two states, with the balance occasionally tipping one way or the other!

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Here we are

So here we are. We have a blog! I'm still not sure that i fully understand what one is or how to use it but it seems like almost everyone else has one and i was beginning to feel left out! ;)

I've been keeping an online parenting journal for some time now, since Toby was around 3 weeks old and although i don't think many folk read it, and to others it must seem unbelievably dull, i have found it a cathartic experience and it's nice to look back on and see how far we've come.

I asked Chris if a blog was like an online journal or diary but for everyone to see and he said it "sort of" is...

So, here we go...