Monthly Archives: May 2012

Five years ago today…

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…I met the lovely Rob. My Rock God.

Now, this is going to be a totally boak-worthy swoonfest about the awesomeness that is Rob. So click away now if you’re the miserable type. This is a post all about trooooo lurve. Hehe.

I had been on my own, raising my babies, for a year. Life was good. I was working in a job I loved, I had a beautiful flat near the park, I was at college in the evenings. The Chums were three and four, at a lovely Montessori nursery, settled and happy. I had no interest in starting a relationship with anybody because our little family unit worked so well. It really was a golden time. But it was about to get a whole lot better.

The Chums, aged three and four.

I met the Lovely Rock God on a night out with my sister. We chatted for hours, he had me in stitches with his anecdotes and one-liners, we shared an interest in music and a fondness for alcohol. We discovered that I lived in the flat above his identical twin brother, who I’d never met. He asked for my number, and I refused to give it to him, telling him that if it was meant to be, it would be, and if he was that interested he could come and find me.

So he did. He visited his brother every day for the next week in the hope of bumping into me, which he did the next Saturday. I was on my way out with The Chums, and he pretty much jumped out of his brother’s moving car to catch me.

I gave him my number.

He took it down wrong, he was one digit out.

So the next day (and I am so thankful that he is the persistent type, because honestly if it was me I would have assumed I’d been brushed off by this point) he came into the shop where I worked and took me out for lunch. And that was that. We’ve barely been apart since.

This is us in July 2007, we’d been together two months at this point.

Let me tell you about him. He is the nicest man I’ve ever met. Does that sound trite? It isn’t meant to. He is a genuinely nice man who makes the world better just by being in it. He is kind to everyone, incredibly moral and responsible, does the right thing because it’s the right thing. I would trust him with my life. He tells me I’m beautiful every single day.

He is funny, wickedly so. He has an encyclopaedic collection in his brain of witticisms and lines from films and tv that crease me up daily. He talks utter nonsense like a pro, we can have completely surreal conversations about IronMan in Lederhosen for hours that make sense to no one but us.

He is a fantastic father. He is endlessly patient, firm without being shouty and awful like me. He’ll play games with the Chums for hours, he takes them to all their evening activities, it’s him who puts them to bed at night (they don’t want me). He’ll get up at 5am with the Littlest Chum and take him downstairs so I can stay in bed, and he does all the nappies when he’s here.

We don’t argue. We just don’t. I can’t tell you how much I love this. And not because either of us are pushovers, we do disagree (obviously) but we don’t fall out over it. I come from a family of shouty arguers, and can scream and rage with the best of them. But it doesn’t happen with my husband.

He is insanely talented, our house is filled with music from morning until night. I am thankful for our lovely neighbours who never complain about his playing (or my singing, for that matter). We are a very noisy house. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

It all just works. We are a team, we share everything, finances, childcare, housework, dreams, passions and fears. Our friends and family say that we are the most laid back people they know, in fact many of them despair at our ‘it’ll be fiiiiiine’ attitude to life. But we are happy, sometimes blissfully so, and I love him with every fibre of my being.

He is the nicest thing that ever happened to me.

Thank you, my Lovely Rock God Husband, for making the last five years such an amazing adventure.

xxxx

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The Boy and The Bath

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The Boy is a bit of a bath refuser, prefering to fester as is the wont of nine year old boys the world over, I’m sure, but we manage to convince him to have one a couple of times a week by means of bribery and/or threats, and he hasn’t disappeared under his own body weight in grime yet so it seems to suffice.

He’s off to Cub Camp tonight until Sunday, so I have told him he needs a bath this morning as there’s very little chance he’ll be bathing, or even washing, at the weekend. He had done his usual thing of getting out of bed and getting dressed immediately (we have a ‘no tv until you’re ready for school’ rule that he takes to mean ‘if I’m ready by 7.15 I can have an hour and a half of Ben 10’. He’s an evil genius), so you can just imagine the grunts and sighs that ensued when I told him to get in the bath.

I told him to be quick about it, but to do a good job, and gave him the shampoo and reminded him to do his hair.

Oh, his hair. He’s rocking a kind of seventies shag look at the moment. He won’t let me cut it, or let me take him to the barbers, he says he wants Rock Star hair. It’s more Kevin Keegan than Jon Bon Jovi, but he loves it. When it’s washed and combed it’s halfway presentable, but when he’s gone a few days between washings it looks a little bit like he’s stuck his tongue in a plug socket.

Anyway, so he spent five minutes in the bath (I did see him in there so his body was washed, or at least wetted) before coming down, dressed and with dry hair.

I counted to ten under my breath and said, ‘please go back up and wash your hair’.

‘You never said I had to wash my hair!’ he wailed, and huffed and stomped back upstairs.

I followed him up to find him standing fully dressed at the sink, sprinkling water in his hair.

‘What? ‘ he said, ‘it’s as good as washing it’.

Sigh.

Day off.

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I’m having an impromptu day off today, my usual mindees aren’t with me this afternoon but I didn’t know they weren’t coming until this morning.

So I’ve had a moochy sort of day. I’ve tidied the garden, done some washing, tried and failed to buy Olympic tickets AGAIN, dithered over buying a Steam Mop (I didn’t), bought the Boy a pirate costume, hung some pictures and now I’m bored.

The Littlest Chum is a bit clingy (teething), so all the stuff I’ve achieved today has been either in short bursts or with a Chum attached to me. I’m not complaining, he’s incredibly cuddly, but it doesn’t make it easy to do certain jobs.  There’s stuff to go in the loft, and hoovering is tricky. I haven’t yet managed to put any washing away, either

I have, however, managed to watch This Morning and Sixty Minute Makeover. I have also eaten the rest of the Ben and Jerries and had about five or six cups of coffee.

What shall I do now?

Adventures in ‘Attachment Parenting’ and all that jazz.

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Some of you will already know that I have a tendency towards Lentil Weaving, although this tends to manifest in a laid back attitude (some may say lazy) towards life and all its challenges rather than any yearning for Yurts and knitting my own yoghurts. Routine scares the tie-dyed trousers off me, and when it comes to babies I am a total pushover.

So it should come as no surprise that the Littlest Chum sleeps in our bed, breastfeeds constantly and is in my arms for most of the day.

I did the same thing on differing levels with the older Chums, but I didn’t have any labels for it back then (I barely had the internet).

Nowadays I could tell you that all this makes us Attachment Parents. Whoop whoop, ta-daaa etc.

Being the bookworm that I am, and having plenty of sofa-bound-while-breastfeeding time to whittle away, I bought the book, written by Dr Sears and his wife. Now I have to say that I do LOVE the philosophy, the whole gentle ethos of AP. But the book’s a bit, erm, wanky. There are a few bits that raised my hackles. Mainly the book’s insistence that AP is the only sane way and that anything else is a bit evil.

Also, most of it is stuff that all but the most commited Gina Ford-er would be doing anyway. But the book seems to present ideas as though they are special magic secrets that no one else does.The ‘Baby Bs’ for example.

Birth bonding – well we’ve all seen American telly where they coo over their tiny babies through a glass window into a nursery. That doesn’t happen here, and I don’t know anybody who didn’t have time with their baby in the days after birth (obviously except in some circumstances, but even babies in SCBU get as much time with their parents as possible). So most of us can tick that one.

Breastfeeding – brilliant. I’m a commited breastfeeder. So is my sister, who is also a commited routine-er. And I gave the Boy formula from seven weeks old but still bed shared and carried him everywhere. So a) you don’t have to breastfeed to do AP and b) plenty of non APers breastfeed.

Babywearing – or as I like to call it: ‘carrying my baby’. I’ve never got on with slings so tend just to get on with stuff with a baby in my arms or on my hip. Just like most people.

Bed Sharing – again, something I’m sure that most people do on occasion. Who hasn’t drifted off to sleep after a 2am feed and woken up in the morning still snuggled up? Not all of us do it every night, that’s true. But it’s very common.

Belief in baby’s cries – now, I don’t know anybody who routinely let their small baby cry it out, although I’m sure some people do. But really, MOST parents listen to and answer their babies’ crying. It’s not rocket science.

Balance and boundaries – knowing when to say yes and when to say no to your baby so you don’t give ALL of yourself to your baby’s needs. Very good advice. But not something that’s exclusive to AP, surely?

And lastly, Beware of Baby Trainers– ie people who tell you to let him cry, or not to keep picking him up, and that he needs a routine. Well, yes. But any approach to parenting is ALWAYS met with crappy advice from well meaning but overbearing helpful types.

So while all of this DOES resonate and I like the whole AP schtick, it is nothing new or different, just collating a whole bunch of ideas together and giving it a name.

And then this is followed by a ‘quote from an AP parent’: I feel emotionally invested in my children. I have spoken to other parents who don’t seem to be as emotionally invested in their children, and I think they are missing out on one of the best experiences of their life.

What? I mean really, WHAT? So, Attachment Parenting is so special and awesome that you think parents who don’t do it aren’t emotionally connected to their children?

The whole book, sadly, is littered with snidey little asides like that. The cringey and awful little tale of how the ‘AP playgroup kids’ played together and shared and tended to their fallen comrade while the pore ol’ non AP child stood apart ‘with a twisted look on her face’. Or all the points about AP mothers being better at spotting illness, AP babies are smarter, AP mothers are more protective. Just awful, overstated, up itself wankiness.

It made me lob the book at the fireplace and I didn’t go back to it until a few days ago. Which is a shame, as if you can wade through the nonsense it makes a LOT of sense and is a really useful tool to refer to. And there is a certain amount of comfort to be had in the idea that what I’m doing is Proper and has a name and everything, I suppose.

Anyway. My very rambling point of the day is that this is what we do. The Littlest Chum sleeps next to me and uses me as a teether all night, breastfeeds and will do until we’re all ready to give up (hopefully by the time he starts school but who knows), and is mostly carried or cuddled (except when he’s trying to walk already).

But I don’t think I’m ready for the ‘Attachment Parenting’ label, as it seems to denote a supermother-like devotion to the cause, and really I’m just muddling through like most people.

Love and kisses, chums xx

Butlins. Everything we expected and more (this is not a good thing)

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We went to Butlin’s in Bognor yesterday. To be completely truthful I have always avoided Butlin’s and their ilk like the plague because I have always thought of them as festering holes containing crappy fairground attractions and ‘light entertainment’, where the great unwashed foist their offspring off into badly run kids’ clubs and drink themselves silly on warm, overpriced lager.

Well, that’s what it was. But at least we weren’t disappointed.

We went because they had a Community Day running, so entrance was a POUND each. Bargainious. Parking was £6 for the day though, which added another £1 per person. So two whole English pounds before we’d even got there. But compared to the £78 it would have cost on an ordinary day, we were NOT complaining.

It was freezing cold and piddling it down. But we are hardcore, so we chattered our teeth and walked past the frankly prison camp looking chalet block, and we headed straight for the Skyline Pavillion where there was a hot drink and a show. Angelina Ballerina and Norman Price were there to entertain the chums (well, the Boy feigned indifference and went off to play on the Penny Slots with Nanny, but I know he was secretly listening). The Pie enjoyed it under the pretext of helping her small cousin join in. Too funny. The Littlest Chum and me had a bop to the music too, much to his delight.

I left my sister feeding her baby, and took all the children off to the arcades to find the others. We made the fatal mistake of taking our eyes off the two year old pocket rocket for half a second, and she was gone. All of us (me, Rock God, Mum, Dad, The Boy AND The Pie) immediately spread out in every direction yelling her name and running frantically to find her. NOT ONE MEMBER OF STAFF APPROACHED US. My Mum collared a redcoat (are they still called that? They still wear red) and said, ‘we’ve lost a small child’, and the guy SHRUGGED and said, ‘have you looked over here?’.

The doors were wide open, the place was huge. It was a proper panic moment.

Luckily, in her haste to get to the aeroplane ride (which was where she’d scampered off to), the little one had run past her Mummy, who had wrenched her smallest baby off the boob in order to chase down her biggest one. So they sauntered up while I was wide eyed and breathless and almost vomiting with fear. She’d been ‘missing’ for a good two minutes by then (although my sister had grabbed her after thirty odd seconds). But on this count, the staff at Butlins were as much use as a chocolate teapot. When I lost The Pie in Tescos at the same age, they immediately shut the doors and we had several members of staff running up and down the aisles. We expected a bit more from a Family Theme Park. Not that I make a habit of losing children, you understand.

We ate lunch in the Beachcomber Inn. Now this bit was a pleasant surprise in places and a crushing disappointment in others. They promise free baby food for little ones, for a start. They didnt’ have any, but didn’t offer any alternatives or discounts. So we paid a fiver for an Annabel Karmel meal instead. Hmm. He didn’t eat much of it as he decided to sleep instead, so they gave us a takeaway box to, er, take it away in. The Chums had fairly standard nuggets/burger and chips. We both had steak that was actually quite nice, it wouldn’t win any awards but it WAS rare and the chips were yummy. The restaurant itself was clean, plenty of space for buggies/highchairs, and had interesting and pleasant decor. Although my Dad  (a member of the Knot Tyers Guild, oh yes) pointed out that they had labelled one of their display knots wrongly. I told him he ought to complain ;).

But the staff on the till were bored and grumpy. After ordering and paying I realised I’d forgotten to order RG’s chicken wings starter, so she rolled her eyes at me, hammered them in on the till and grunted that they’d probably be out at the same time as the mains, now. Which they were. It didn’t really matter, but there were only about three other families eating and it wouldn’t have been the hardest thing in the world to sort out, surely?

Anyway, we all ate, and then cleverly headed straight for the fairground rides.

I sensibly avoided this, but Dad and RG took all the chums on the Carousel, which they all enjoyed, although they were all a bit green afterwards. We then headed for the Bumper Cars, sorry DODGEMS, where the most miserable Saturday Jobber in the world shouted at us all before we got on and then aborted the ride after two minutes and threw EVERYBODY off because a couple of young lads were bumping.

The fairground was really quite disappointing, overall. Badly organised, half of it was closed, ridiculously miserable staff and hardly anything that the Chums could go on without an adult. So we headed back indoors to the arcade.

We all had a go on the Dance Machine, obviously I kicked arse at that (we’ve now ordered a similar thing for the Wii, it was so much fun, I’ll post about it when it arrives), my Dad spent squillions on the Grabbers and didn’t win so decried them as a massive con.

The Boy and The Pie played on the SuperBikes arcade game, and The Boy wants to know how much one of them is to buy and whether we can have an arcade room in the garage.

We also went on a simulator, and bought candyfloss from a machine, and put hundreds of pennies in the Penny Slots and basically did everything that you can do at Worthing Lido or any pier anywhere, which is usually free entrance.

We could have gone swimming, and I think we would have enjoyed that a lot, but it was so cold, and we were all so tired by the time the pool opened at midday that we all vetoed the idea.

Instead, we paid for the climbing wall and go karting, which again, while incredible fun, was staffed by surly ratbags and cost £5 plus for a few measly minutes activity.

We spent the rest of the afternoon sitting in the not very warm Skyline Pavillion watching the Chums and the little Pocket Rocket in the softplay (which was free at least), eating cake and drinking coffee and discussing whether there would be enough to keep the Chums busy if we came for a holiday. The short answer is no.

In summary, it was a great day out for the children, but hardly anything was free other than a few rides, the staff were badly trained and miserable, and if we’d have paid £80 for the privilege of getting in we would have been raging. I suspect that an actual holiday is slightly more fun because you can use all the facilities (lots of signs up saying certain things were for holidaying guests only) and I think the pool would have been fun with a whole day to spend there. But for a day out? Go elsewhere.