Sunday, 29 June 2014

My 'Fairy' Tale Kitchen :)

Can you spot the cat in this picture ? 
During the day I have my hands in the sink a fair few times. Often it's to wash my hands, or to wash up a few small things that don't warrant putting on the dishwasher. Occasionally it's just where I stand to listen to the radio. It's where I watch the cat as he decides where to sun himself. Today is it going to be the boy's boat, his 'den' or at the bottom of the slide ? Oh I can while away literally minutes stalking that mog.

In the summer months it's my vantage point to watch the boy playing with his cars and kicking a ball into the bushes or over into the neighbour's garden for the umpteenth time. There are no fences between the gardens so he can wander over to retrieve it and I know he is safe. I can also see when he's on his way in for a snack or a drink and can be prepared. It's like I'm magic !

When we bought this house it was because of the Mr & Mrs Smith sinks in the bathroom and the pull out kitchen storage as well as the fabulous - if high maintenance - garden. The best thing is I can see the garden from my kitchen window and I can retreat into the quiet of the space indoors while feeling part of the outdoors.

Spice necklace
Pullout drawer of joy 
My evening spot by the sink listening to Radio 4 is sacred. I close the doors and chop vegetables or prepare bedtime milk for the boy while I stand with a drink (a mug of tea, honestly) listening to the Archers. It's my bit of personal space and I have my dream view. Ok, I'll be honest, Hawaii would be my actual dream view, but I'm aspirational, not insane, so this one is just fine for now thanks.

I've always enjoyed meticulous planning and preparation of food so I like to cut up fruit or vegetables for kebabs or chop roast veg or ingredients for soups. The repetition is very soothing for me and I can forget about other things.

My kitchen is organised to help me so the knife block that my brother gave me sits behind the spoon rest that my friend got me from Jamaica. The spice necklace my lovely friend got me on her Caribbean honeymoon is hanging from the kitchen window and occasionally a waft of nutmeg fills the air. On the windowsill are my plants; basil, red chilli, aloe vera and a Peace Lily from my Mum. Some do better than others, but it's continues the 'inside feeling like outside' theme.

Obligatory kiddie artwork
The couple we bought the house from kindly left the white goods behind and I was grateful for the dishwasher, washing machine and fridge. The only issue was they weren't actually as good - or as technical - as the ones I'd abandoned in the home we left. I still miss those that I'd lovingly chosen from John Lewis and bought with a 5 year guarantee that was still running when we let our buyer have them - sob.

Of course I also have the obligatory kiddie artwork on the walls and a crazy busy fridge of magnets holding gig tickets, pictures of my boy and invitations to kiddie birthday parties. Those are standard right ?

The most important part of my kitchen, however is the one I barely look at. I go into it many times a day and it keeps me going and stops me from going bonkers. The little piece of joy that I call my tea cupboard. Last year I decanted my extensive collection of teas into gorgeous kilner jars and now I feel the luxury of 'artisan' teas instead of reaching into a paper box for a tea bag. Not that I'm too good for that of course. Tea is my religion and I can worship it anywhere and anyhow.

The 'teashop'
Of course a love of tea must also be accompanied by a love of drinking implements so there is a very well stocked cupboard of fancy and not-so fancy mugs. This is why we use Fairy Platinum dishwasher tablets to keep them in tip top condition. I cannot abide a grotty mug.

So, if you visit my kitchen be sure to admire the view, pop on the kettle and enjoy a brew. When you're done, be a love and pop the mug into the dishwasher afterwards there will you ? Thanks :)

This post is my entry for the "My Kitchen Story" linky challenge sponsored by Fairy Platinum

Friday, 27 June 2014

Holiday helpers: or, How I keep sane when we are supposed to be relaxing

The joy of bunting
Earlier this year we went on our first holiday since we had our son. Before he was born we used to go on holiday a few times a year. Me and Hubbie do well on holiday as we enjoy spending time with each other and relax and decide most things without disagreement. Throw a belligerent toddler into that mix, however, and you have the recipe for a holiday that we just weren't prepared for. 

For weeks people asked if I was looking forward to my holiday and I was careful in saying "it'll be nice to have a break." What I didn't say was "I am praying that my son doesn't cause chaos on the plane," "I'm dreading that he'll create havoc due to us all being together for a whole week" or that "I really just hoped we'd get some child-free time, but it was unlikely as it was just us 3 going.
In the event he was fine with the journey there. When checking in we got a passport for his teddy Jiggles and he enjoyed eating breakfast in the airport. He was occupied during the flight, ate some of the meal, played a farting fish game that Hubbie had downloaded onto his tablet and even met the pilot when we landed. He banged his head while we waited an age for Hubbie's bag to come off the carousel and was a bit unruly waiting to collect our hire car, but as soon as we got into the car he promptly fell asleep until we got to our hotel. 

My boy on his one day at the beach
During the holiday he sustained a nosebleed at the kid's club, an ear infection that put paid to beach days and had more tantrums on a daily basis than I thought possible. You see for kids a holiday is not what it is for adults. Please allow me to explain. The reasons we go on holiday are:

To relax:

Adults - sit by the pool, read books, eat nice meals, drink and generally kick back
Toddlers - don't relax. Why would they, they're toddlers.

To experience new things / places:

Adults - like to go sightseeing, take photos
Toddlers - want to go to the same park every day to do the same thing every day and will make it clear that they do not approve when this is not adhered to

To see a different people/cultures/lifestyles:

Adults - tick things off their bucket list like dance flamenco or eat at the highest restaurant in Las Vegas (we've done one of these)
Toddlers - kick off because it's all a bit different and they miss their friends - who wants to spend all that time with their parents really ?

To have a break from the daily grind:

Adults - lie in and stay up late, eat at strange times and try to do as much as possible in the given time
Toddlers - have just about got used to the meticulously enforced routine you instilled and now you're expecting them to freestyle it ?

Conclusion: as holiday companions parents and toddlers are entirely at odds with each other from the start.

We are going on holiday again and this time I'm armed with the learning from the first one. We're not flying this time, but we will be driving for a long time so I am prepared with the following holiday essentials:

Snacks - my boy will do almost anything for Bear fruit and Nakd bars - I keep one of each in every bag (and for Hubbie too)

Tablets - equipped with all manner of technology for grown ups we also have a portable DVD player for the car this time so he can watch Firehouse Dog. I've got all his favourite apps including; Cbeebies, Talking Tom and Farting Fish (thanks for that Hubbie !!) 

Activities - plenty of crayons, mini colouring books, playing cards and puzzles and stickers. Something will do the trick.

Holiday journal - a red hardback book with matching pen that Hubbie picked up at a conference. We kept it on the table so he could use it whenever he wanted to draw a picture, 'write' about his day or put stickers or souvenirs in it like his unused kids club wristband. This time I'm expecting pictures of all the animals he meets on the farm.

Bribes - so I have a new football for him, a new bucket and spade set, lots of small bags of Haribo sweets and more stickers.

I'm hoping it will be relaxing. I've packed a few books, my running kit and all of our wellies so we've got all eventualities covered.

Wish me luck - I may well need it !! 
Relaxing image

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

No camping please, I'm squeamish :)

This weekend the festival season starts in earnest with the behemoth that is Glastonbury Festival. As you probably know I'm not a camping type and I don't do crowds very well - being 5 foot and not much else means I'm eye level with belt buckles and chests which isn't nearly as appealing as it sounds.

I've been compiling my radio show covering the best family festivals including hints and tips on how to manage little ones when you go to a festival. I hope that in time we will feel confident enough to take our boy for the full festival experience. I may even consider glamping - I said maybe. We took him to Ben & Jerry's Big Sundae when he was still in my belly and then when he was 10 months. Free ice cream and outdoor music was just the thing for our little muso - he loved bopping along to Billy Bragg - but, sadly, the event seems to have been discontinued since.
It's the PIXIES !!!! 

Hubbie and I went to one festival last year, the Edge of the Sea which is held in Brighton and hosted by Dave Gedge of The Wedding Present. It's been going for years, but it was our first time and it was brilliant fun and didn't involve camping - win !  This year we'll go again and the boy will stay with Grandma and Grandpa again. We've already been to Field Day this year which is a festival for grown ups only and we saw the Pixies and a few bands we'd sort of heard of. As we ambled around Victoria Park in East London admiring the artisan food stalls I thought about how many open air gigs we'd been to in the past and as I was just remembering our friend Gareth who had been to the Innocent Fruitstock festival with us I spotted him coming towards us !! Weird and psychic coincidence it wasn't though, as apparently he goes every year.

artisan food van
Gareth and Hubbie 'watching' a band 
couscous as street food ?

My Mum and brother kept the boy out of trouble while me and Hubbie made a middle-aged road trip to the festival and patted ourselves on the back when we found parking close to the site. I know, I know, judge away.

Done ? Ok. I will continue.

While we spent some grown up time together I spotted some fabulous festival archetypes:

  • The man with the open shirt drunk and asking random strangers for a light - this one is harmless if a bit annoying 

  • The skinny 'Bridget Bardot' type complete with floppy hat, brocade bandeau and hot pants and vertiginous wedge sandals - alone, but getting a lot of looks

  • Girl talking to her friend while they were trying to watch a band - her story just had to be told then and there, no one was rude enough to tell her to wind her neck in

  • Looky likeys: this is a game that me and Hubbie play, even thought it's very silly. I spotted Steve Tyler, Michael Hutchence, Zach Galifianakis, Anne Hathaway (the movie star, not the queen)
I cannot explain this

A highlight was watching 2 security men take a man down. He was wearing a high-vis vest and no shirt, we're not entirely sure why. This may not sound interesting, but then another man dressed as Captain America went over and shook his hand with the hilarious offer, "how can I help ?"

The slight cat hair in the ointment was that we were surrounded by hipsters and they inspire my pogonophobia. Yes, I have an irrational fear/dislike of beards - and now also of top knots when worn by men who are not Sikh. I don't get it. They look ridiculous. I just wish they'd stop.

Nice to see that Thurston Moore has a sideline
So, we're getting the hang of festivals as parents who've left the boy behind. I think this might be the way forward. We love music. We love nice food. We love being together. I think we can take this to the next level and maybe even introduce the random element of a child into the mix - or camping. Not both. I'm not that brave (or insane !)

I challenge any festival to prove to me that it is possible to have a good time when camping at a festival. Go on, I'm waiting to be converted :)

Shiny happy people :) 

Monday, 23 June 2014

Review: The Skeleton Cupboard - Tanya Byron

The first Mumsnet Blogfest I went to was so completely overwhelming - not least as the most amazing, beautiful and glamorous woman was sitting next to me. I turned to ask her a question about a point she'd made during a session when the topic of parent bloggers respecting their children's privacy came up. It was later I realised I'd been sitting next to Professor Tanya Byron.

I was delighted to be sent her book The Skeleton Cupboard to review. It's not often I get to pick up a book that I enjoy as much as this and even less frequently that I get to finish it. I have at least 4 books on the go at the moment that I've begun and not managed to get to the end of. Not because they're not good but it's the time it takes to read when you have a toddler around.

The Skeleton Cupboard is a relatively quick read as the chapters are a manageable length and the topic is divided into a few case studies that are like mini stories within the book. The case studies are not of real people, but are taken from experiences that Tanya had while training to become a psychologist in London. The stories do not make easy reading and it's really the light touch with which she tells it that makes them so compelling. There are a lot of references to her own attractiveness and a fascination with breasts that is largely irrelevant, but it is light relief. When she talks about someone's ample bosom it is in stark contrast to the harrowing cases such as the suicidal teen or the psychopath.

If this sounds a bit intense, yes it does go dark at times, but Tanya brings you back to a safe space and one where she is honest about her own shortcomings in the role she is learning. She does make reference to the difference between psychology and other disciplines, but I'm not sure I get the actual differences. The story is very much a baptism of fire, but one that she relates with kindness and respect, hence not using real case studies, but fictionalised versions of events.

I can recommend The Skeleton Cupboard as a fascinating insight into the world of psychology and some background about Tanya's own life. If I hadn't already read it I'd be taking this on holiday.

Mumsnet kindly sent me this book to write an honest review. 

Sunday, 22 June 2014

My boy's rainbow life

I don't subscribe to the idea of colours for boys or for girls. If my son likes something it doesn't matter what colour it is. As a result he has a pink and purple play kitchen, blue railway tracks, mega bloks in primary colours and a fair amount of red toys as he loves fire engines right now. I like to think my son's life is a riot of colour and here is why:

I cannot explain why my son chose to wear his pink pony dressing up outfit to watch TV with us, but he does look pretty cute doesn't he ?

My little pink pony

For weeks now we've seen strawberries growing on our plants in the garden. The last few years they've been pinched by animals before we've had a chance to eat them. This year we finally got to a homegrown red strawberry before the squirrels or birds got to it and it was thoroughly enjoyed by my boy.
My mini gardener

The boy went to play mini golf with Hubbie on Friday and he was so impressed with the green waterfall that he stopped to take a look during the game. I'm not sure that's what the pros do is it ? 

Mini golf for a mini golfer

It was Biggin Hill Airshow last weekend and the Red Arrows display was visible from our house - just about - the boy was really impressed with the red, white and blue smoke trails they left behind.

The Red Arrows

We made muffins on Friday, but it was a wonder there were any blueberries left to put in them as the boy is a big fan of all fruit and kept munching, 'just one more Mummy.'

Banana & blueberry muffins 

My boy loves public transport and especially buses. His favourite place is the London Transport Museum and being allowed to 'drive' is a dream come true for him - if you look closely you will see him here in the driver's seat.

A big red bus

And last, but by no means least, there is my boy's partner in naughtiness, Neo the cat. Known locally as 'the white cat' he is (in)famous. They are a dynamic duo and make me laugh every day.

Neo the white cat

So, those are the colours in my son's life. I think it's fair to say that red is the most prominent colour right now, but he is only three years old, so I'm sure that will change. For now I will keep bringing as many colours into his life as possible so he continues to enjoy a rainbow of experiences and fun.

This post is our entry to the Hillarys Blinds Children's True Colours Competition.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Baking banana and blueberry muffins with my boy

On a Thursday my boy is usually exhausted from his 3 days at nursery so we take it nice and easy with some relaxing home-based activities. The night before I set out some puzzles, toys and games to play so that when he comes down to his playroom he has some things to keep him occupied, but not tire him out too much. This week it was a repeat of the fire engine themed day we did a few weeks back as he loved it so much.

As I wandered into the kitchen to prepare his mammoth breakfast of porridge and eggy bread - that boy can eat ! - I noticed that I needed to use up eggs and some quite black bananas. As I also had some blueberries in the fridge I thought I'd do some baking in the afternoon that would double up as a football snack for Hubbie in the evening - apparently England are playing in some kickabout thing with a few lads down the park and he's quite into it. I planned to be out running or something as it's not really my cup of tea. 
Can you tell what it is yet ? 

I got all the ingredients ready - I always have basic baking items like flour, sugar, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda in the cupboard - and went to take a shower. I heard the boy call up to me and he was chomping on the blueberries. I asked him to leave some for the muffins we were making and managed to curtail his pleas for 'just one more' so that we had enough left. 

Adding blueberries carefully

Counting cup cases
Stirring the mixture nicely 

He was actually a very good helper. He counted out the cake cases into the tin and worked out how many more he needed to fill the gaps. Then he assisted me with the weighing and stirring - his favourite bit - then mashed the bananas and added the blueberries into the mixture. He did help a bit with putting it into the cases, but it is pretty sloppy so I took over and he asked if he could lick the spoon. I've never been into eating uncooked cake or biscuit dough, but he explained that George Pig does it so it must be ok. Can't argue with that logic can I ? 

Yummy muffins

Once they were in the oven we set the timer to one hour and he said he'd sit on the step and wait for them to cook. I explained that it would be a while and he might like to go and watch some telly or have a play, so he wandered off, but kept trying to convince me that he had heard the bell go off. I went to listen to the Archers and wash up all the things we'd used and when I looked back he was nodding off. As a result when the bell actually did ring he was fast asleep !! 

Far too tired to taste test 

Thursday, 19 June 2014

The power of talking

This morning I was helping at a playgroup I used to take my boy to. It reminded me how valuable my mummy friends are as we talked honestly and openly about the difficulties we all face at times. They were the first non family I left my boy with when he was still a tiny baby. They were the ones I've talked to about our infertility issues and how sometimes I think I am slowly going mad. They reassure me I'm not alone and give me a hug and a cup of tea and I feel better. 

And yet I didn't talk to any of them about my miscarriage. I'm not sure if it was embarrassment or shame. After all, the medical professionals had made it clear that it was nothing, something so common it was undeserving of anything beyond cursory acknowledgement. When doctors and nurses and specialists tell you it's nothing why would you think any different ? It's being daft to make a big deal about something that happens to so many women isn't it ? To think you'd be entitled to any kind of support or counselling to get through something so minor. 

It happens to so many of us and yet the experience of miscarriage is marked by the silence required by not having a space in which to share it. That and the personal emotions linked to something so personal and yet so common.

We found out on a Sunday morning that I was pregnant - we had been trying for over a year so it was a pretty big deal and we agreed that as it was early December we'd see how it was going before deciding if we'd tell our families at Christmas or not. We were so delighted that we were already thinking about what to tell our 2 year old son and if he would understand what it meant.

A short while later I was at the doctor's surgery with my son for something else and I mentioned that I was pregnant and something wasn't right. The doctor dismissed me with a "let's wait and see what happens" and sent me on my way.  He didn't ask what was wrong. The following day I knew something was badly wrong and took a test and it said I was not pregnant. I was distraught and phoned Hubbie at work to tell him what had happened. I punished myself for not waiting for Hubbie to be at home with me when I took the test. Then I made call after call for help. I called the surgery to see if I could see someone. I couldn't. I called the hospital infertility unit to see if they would see me for an early scan and left message after message - most were unintelligible from the tears as I tried to explain what was happening to my much longed for pregnancy.

Then I took my son to playgroup and talked to a complete stranger who told me she had miscarried a few times and she hoped it wasn't happening to me. I thanked her and called my neighbour to see if she could watch the boy while I went for a scan as a walk-in. She kindly agreed and didn't ask too many questions about why.

At the hospital I sat surrounded by pregnant women and waited. I felt increasingly scared and upset as I kept being asked what I was there for. Then I finally got called into a side room that was adjacent to the one where the scan was to take place. As I got undressed and waited to get called I heard one  woman after another expressing joy at the sight of her precious baby as I waited and prayed that  they would find something in my womb. The last time I'd been for a scan it was with Hubbie and it was to check how our son was doing. It was a joyful and exciting time. 

When I was finally called in the woman didn't look up, she just asked, "was it you who left all those messages in tears ?" I nodded that I had and apologised for being upset. She got on with the business of applying gel and had a prod around before doing the scan and telling me - very matter of fact, "nope, there's nothing there." Big fat tears rolled down my face against my will. I ached. I wanted to howl with the pain. She asked my age, I told her I was 42 and she said, " Oh well it happens at your age." We were done. I asked if there was anything I had to do and she said no and left me to get dressed.
  • I didn't tell my family -  most of them still don't know and won't unless they read this. I told one friend the day after I had the scan that confirmed it and even then I dismissed it as 'nothing really.'
  • Hubbie and I agreed to treat it as thought nothing had happened and we did.
  • I felt stupid for making a fuss, so I didn't. It was nothing, the doctor and sonographer had said as much.
  • I was annoyed with myself for doing the test, because if I hadn't I would never have known and we wouldn't have been so uplifted by the false promise of a baby that wasn't to be.
  • I hated my body for failing to keep the baby, for being so useless.
  • I was angry that I hadn't seen the signs when all the websites I was looking at kept talking about miscarriage. If I hadn't read them I wouldn't have cursed it and made it happen. Yes, I really did believe this.
I felt alone. As though it was just me and no one else - after all it happened so early on it didn't count did it ? Everyone else was entitled to feel pain and upset and anger as they had a 'real pregnancy' and a 'real miscarriage.'

It was ungrateful of me to be so hurt wasn't it ? I have one son already, surely another is just being greedy ? After all some women can't even have one child and I want to have another ?

Without support services women drive themselves crazy with self-loathing, punishment and judgment about something that frankly we have no influence over at all. The medical profession sees miscarriage as a perfectly normal thing to happen. Miscarriage isn't a medical or chemical process to me. It's the loss of a real person. The end of a baby that might have been.

I am grateful and blessed that I have my son and I give thanks for him every day. It isn't ok to tell me that I'm ungrateful for wanting another. Genuine and heartfelt empathy from other women has been my greatest support. It's not a competition to see who has suffered the most, but a shared experience that far too many of us have had. 

Mumsnet conducted a survey of the support services provided to women who have experienced miscarriage - this post is part of the campaign to illustrate and address the shortfall in appropriate counselling and care. Read here about the Mumsnet miscarriage care campaign.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Scootering with dinosaurs

We made two visits to Crystal Palace Park this weekend - one unscheduled one and the other planned for.

Hubbie took the boy on Saturday to an activity called Diddy Dinos that is a stay and play session at a children's centre right next to the park. They've been before and enjoyed it so much they decided to go back and spend some time exploring the park as well.

The dinosaurs are this big
There is a dinosaur theme to Crystal Palace Park with big sculptures of them dotted around the park which we spotted when me and Hubbie ran 10k there a few years back. I was already flagging by the time we saw them so his enthusiastic, 'look it's the dinosaurs !" was met with an ungrateful grunt from me as we still had the final - uphill - mile to complete. The dinosaurs date back to 1852 and they were the first dinosaur sculptures in the world. They also pre-dated Charles Darwin's Origin of the Species by 6 years !

The mystery of the bell
There are plenty of odd things in the park like this bell that has absolutely no explanation of what it is for or why it is there. It is nice to look at though. The park is - of course - also home to a sports ground that is well used and we did spot a lot of athletic looking types wandering round too.

They call him the wanderer 
Our boy loves open space so a park this big is just perfect as he can run around and we can see him from a long way off usually.

Safety first
Scooter buddies 
On Father's Day we went on an unplanned visit to the park again as we had some time to fill between brunch and swimming. The boy wanted to go to Diddy Dinos again and was not persuaded by either of us that it was not open on a Sunday, however we won him over by saying he could scooter round the park this time. He didn't need to be asked twice. On the way to the kids play area he made a friend on the path so the two scooter buddies went on ahead and we plotted heading off for a sneaky pub lunch with the other boy's parents while they kept each other company.

Spidey enjoying the play park 
"Run faster Daddy !"

No such luck though and Daddy was roped into doing some hard work spinning the roundabout and even had to carry the boy back to the car park while I carried his scooter as he'd tired himself out so much. I did have some flashbacks to bits of the route we ran as we followed our speedy scooter riding boy on his mobile adventures. It was strange seeing the park through my son's eyes instead of as the punishing ordeal it was for me on my previous visit.

The coda to this story is that we spent Sunday evening at A&E as the boy has an ear infection that we realised very late on was causing him a lot of pain. He's on the mend now, but we'd kept him so busy he barely realised he was poorly over the weekend.

This post is being shared as part of the lovely Coombe Mill linky #countrykids

 Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall 

Sunday, 15 June 2014

For Hubbie, on Fathers' Day

It's Father's Day this weekend so we've had the usual bombardment of advertising persuading us to buy sarcastic cards and silly, but fun gifts for Dads. One article I read this week asked if we are disrespectful of fathers and their place in society. It is a stark contrast with Mother's Day if you consider the fluffiness factor of the cards, flowers, chocolates and the suggested gifts for Mums. We are encouraged to thank them and to spoil them on their special day. With Fathers we're enticed to make them laugh or send them to jump out of a plane.

To be honest I've never made a big deal about Father's Day for my own Dad. Whereas I'll take my Mum out for pampering or a nice lunch the most I'll do for my Dad is a card and maybe a pair of socks. Hubbie is about the same so while we take Mother-in-law out for lunch Father-in-law gets a card and a phone call to wish him a nice day on the golf course. It's not like our Dads even want the fuss so we're not exactly being nasty, it's just how it's always been really.

Hubbie protecting our boy from a snake
In my case I'm careful not to pick a card that thanks him for all he's done for me (not a great deal) or professing my love for him (that would just be embarrassing). You see our Dads were at their parenting peak when it was still considered the main role of a Father to be the breadwinner and the 'man of the house.' That was not a role that my Father was able or willing to occupy. He was there, I'll give him that, but he wasn't a willing or particularly pleasant Father to me or my brother. He's fine as a Grandfather and that is why he is still in my life.

The role of a Father is very different now and our expectations of what a Father can do are much higher. It is considered remiss if a man isn't there for the birth of his child or if he's not prepared to change or feed his child. In the same way that Mothers are always in the spotlight and being judged, so are Fathers. Yet the day that is supposed to be set aside to thank them is almost considered a joke. Mother's day is one of the busiest in the year for florists. There is no equivalent for Father's Day.

Daddy is almost as tall as the Gruffalo !
We do make a fuss of Hubbie on Father's Day. Maybe because it was such a big deal for us to become parents in the first place, but mostly because he's a great Dad. Just as they make big deal about me I like to do the same for him and it's a long way to his birthday so it's nice to have an excuse to spoil him for a change.

Hubbie works a long day and comes home in time to do bedtime every evening. The only time he isn't is if there is a gig or a midweek football match that he wants to go to, but that's pretty rare actually so when he does want to go it would be churlish to deny him the occasional night out.

Since the boy was a few weeks old they have had 'Daddy Day' every Saturday of the football season. They have a boys' day out and I have the day to myself. Whether I use it to clean the house or to meet up with friends it's been a blessing.

He never complains about the house, my appearance, the food I prepare or anything really. Not that he ever did before, but whoever said that giving a man a baby means you're off the hook forever was pretty much right. He comes home and me, the boy and the cat are all ok and that makes his day.

So today we're doing things that make Hubbie happy; going swimming, taking him for brunch, getting out the barbecue that he loves so much and generally spoiling him in between all of these activities.

He deserves it :)
My boys :)

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Give him a ball and a yard of grass

So, apparently the World Cup has started.

I may have mentioned before that I do not do football. I'm not in the slightest bit interested in watching any sports, much less four weeks of football. It's bad enough that there's a two week tennis tournament every June without the added trauma of the World Cup as well.

The last World Cup was during my pregnancy and we bought a bigger TV - ostensibly for Hubbie to watch the games, but in reality it was so that I could watch box sets of the West Wing and The Wire on a larger screen while I was on maternity leave waiting for the boy to make an appearance.

The World Cup before that began while we were on holiday in Rome. Hubbie - who was boyf at that time - proposed to me before the first game to, "get it out of the way" before his attention turned to the very serious matter of football. I know that sounds bad, it wasn't really. We found an Irish pub to watch the game and they made me a lovely pot of proper tea which almost made the 90 minutes plus fly by - almost. I made him propose again when we got home just to be sure he meant it.

So this one is our boy's first World Cup. We did take him to watch football during the Paralympics, but he wasn't quite two years old then so this time he should be old enough to enjoy watching. The games so far have been past his bedtime, but I'm sure that he will see some of them later on.

I'm not so churlish that I'd deny Hubbie his love of football. Besides which it's my chance to finish all the books I've started to read and I've uploaded a lot of shows to watch on my iPad.

Just so you know this is what I can expect for the next month.

He's a dedicated followed of football (not fashion obvs)

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Dog walking and squirrel chasing - a fun day out with Chester and Henry.

I mentioned in my last Country Kids post that we did a Gruffalo trail as part of the 15th Anniversary celebrations a few weeks ago.  It wasn't as much fun as we'd hoped as the boy was in such a bad mood, so it was with trepidation that we decided to give it another go in a different location where there is a Gruffalo trail all year round and not just part of the celebrations.

High Five Gruffalo's child
At the weekend we took our boy out to Sunny Essex to visit a friend who we haven't seen for ages - well not since her lovely wedding actually. Carole told me about Thorndon Country Park as she thought our boy would like it there and she has two great dogs that we thought the boy would like to meet. I've mentioned our boy's obsession with the movie Firehouse Dog and I really hoped he would get on with Auntie Carole's dogs so I told him about Chester and Henry before we went so he would be prepared.

On the day we weren't sure if the weather was going to be ok so we packed a boot full of wellies and waterproofs and a massive picnic bag filled with treats and drinks to keep us going in the wilds of Essex. It was actually really lovely when we got to the park so we got out and ate our picnic while we waited for Aunty Carole, Chester and Henry to join us. The boy was so excited he could barely eat and kept watching the car park to see if they'd arrived.

Making friends using dog treats
Hubbie spotted them first and as Chester and Henry bounded over the boy couldn't wait to say hello.  He shared a few mini sausages with his new furry friends and we put the picnic back in the car to go off a-hunting in the woods. Aunty Carole had warned us that Henry can be a bit barky and nervous around children while Chester is the child friendly one. She showed the boy how to give them dog treats and he listened really nicely and made friends with them.

We made our way round the park spotting the Gruffalo characters dotted around the woods and Chester was allowed off the lead so he ran off into the trees to explore. Our boy asked if he could follow him so I said so long as he could still see us that was fine. Off they went, boy and dog in harmony - sort of.
It's the Big Bad Mouse !!
Being brave around the Ssssnake
Checking out the Gruffalo's prickly back 
After a while the boy asked if he could walk Chester and as he'd been listening nicely Aunty Carole said he could. Chester went from running around to being ever so calm and considerate to his young walker. Well, that was until he spotted a squirrel and chased it up a tree - with our boy still holding onto him ! The boy let go of the lead just in time to prevent being dragged along so it was mostly comical and when Chester realised he couldn't follow the squirrel up the tree he came back.
Wait for me Chester !!
My boy enjoyed spotting the Gruffalo characters in the woods. It was really nicely done. I'm so proud of how well he behaved with both Chester and Henry. It made our day out in the country a little bit special and different for him and we saw a new responsible side to our toddler too.

It bodes well for our holiday at Coombe Mill in a few weeks and I hope he enjoys helping with the animals on the farm during our stay. He certainly shows promise don't you think ? 

Walking nicely 
This post is being shared with the lovely Coombe Mill linky #countrykids

 Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall