Thank you Mum! – Mother’s Day 2014

I think Mother’s Day takes on a new significance once you are a mum yourself.  Not because you’re now the one getting presents and a lie in (although that part is nice!), but because you finally really appreciate everything your mum did/does for you.  So when hubby suggested going to his dad’s over Mother’s Day weekend I put my foot down.  I should point out before you write me off as completely heartless that his mum and dad are no longer together, and his mum actually lives in New Zealand, so I wasn’t doing him out of seeing his own mum on Mother’s Day.  I just really wanted to be able to see my mum on the day, and spoil her a little bit to say thank you.  I’m very lucky to have my mum (and dad!) less than a five minute drive away, and I sometimes don’t know what I’d do if they weren’t so close by!

My Mother’s Day treats had started earlier last week, with a tea party at B’s nursery (which was actually a bit of a shambles – kids crying when their mums left to go back to work, kids crying cos their mum hadn’t arrived yet….  You get the picture!) and a handmade card.  On Sunday morning my biggest luxury of all was hubby taking both kids downstairs after I’d fed A so I could go back to sleep for a wee while (much needed after a couple of rough nights with A!).  Had a lovely snooze and was woken by whispering outside the bedroom door at 9.15 – breakfast was served!  Just cereal and juice, but B had poured everything herself and was obviously very pleased with her efforts!  I managed about two spoonfuls of cereal before B appeared again with pressies and another card, and proceeded to “help” me to open them!!  I got some lovely Champneys Spa goodies, chocolates and flowers.  All very nice and very much appreciated, but I know it’s the handmade card from nursery that I will really treasure – all handwritten by B herself, and with a drawing of me on the front.  I can just imagine her getting her nursery teacher to spell out each word for her!

 

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I’d suggested to B that we could take Nana out for coffee and cake in the afternoon and leave A at home with daddy – she loves any opportunity to do anything “just the girls”.  I let her pick where she thought Nana would like, and she said the Marks & Spencer café!!!  Not exactly afternoon tea at the Ritz, but B said Nana would like it “because she always goes to Markies”!! (This is in fact true!).

So the three of us set off in the afternoon to M&S at Union Square for a coffee and a fine piece!  B polished off a huge gingerbread lady, I had a very nice Victoria Sponge (not like me, I usually choose something chocolatey!) and Mum had a fruit scone.  We’d taken Mum’s presents with us – a scarf, a book and a keepsake memory book for her to fill with stories about her life and then give to the kids (hubby thought this was morbid but I really liked the idea, and thankfully so did Mum!). I’d got a card with a lovely verse on it, and B had written out a card “From Your Grandchildren” – struggled to find a nice Nana card (card companies take note!!).  Like me, I know Mum will treasure the cards and keep them in a box somewhere!  B occupied herself with looking out the window and a bit of colouring, which gave me and Mum a chance to have a bit of a blether – especially since A was born, all we ever seem to talk about is the kids!!

We then had a quick pit stop at Clarks to get B’s feet measured, then headed home where hubby had put pork in the slow cooker (following my detailed instructions!) and my dad had arrived.  We have Mum and Dad round for tea fairly regularly, but this time it was a treat for me too as hubby was in charge in the kitchen.  Mum had a wee glass of wine and did some craft with B (a Nana is never truly off duty!!!), then we sat down for tea.  Smoked salmon (my absolute fave!), slow cooked pork with apples, and cheesecake.

Clearly worn out after his efforts in the kitchen, the day finished with hubby chatting to my dad in the kitchen while I got A ready for bed and fed him and my mum gave B her bath and did her bedtime stories!!  I guess they do say a woman’s work is never done, but I also know that secretly my mum wouldn’t have had it any other way!

I probably don’t tell her often enough how grateful we all are for everything she does for our wee family, but hopefully Sunday made her feel appreciated and loved.

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A big week for my wee man

It’s been a pretty eventful week for us this week.

First off, at the ripe old age of 18 weeks and 6 days, A cut his first teeth.  Not one, or even two, but THREE of the blighters.  He’d been pretty out of sorts at the end of last week and over the weekend – horrible cough and cold, dodgy nappies and just not quite himself.  Well now we know why!  He’s been dribbly and stuffing anything he can get his hands on into his mouth for a good few weeks now, but I didn’t think we would see any teeth for a good couple of months yet.  Wrong!  On Tuesday afternoon, he was chewing on my finger when I felt something sharp in his mouth.  I had a wee look and was momentarily confused because I couldn’t see anything.  Turns out that’s because, not content with getting three teeth in one go, he’s also decided to bypass the normal front teeth first route and go straight for the sharp pointy eye teeth.  So the two bottom eye teeth and one of the next to middle ones.  By yesterday, one of the top eye teeth was through the gum as well, giving him a total of four teeth.  No wonder he’s been grouchy!  Although I can’t help thinking that this perhaps means we get the worst over with now, and the rest should be slightly easier….  A girl can hope, right?!?

Incidentally, if anyone has any advice re relieving the symptoms, please let me know.  B was never really bothered by her teeth coming in, so this is all new to me.

The other major milestone this week was our first night without a night feed!!!  After being a really good sleeper in the first couple of months and some nights going 8 hours without a feed at night, by mid February he was barely going 4 hours.  So at that point I started doing a dream feed at 10.30ish, and that put us back to only one feed during the night.  On Tuesday night, he woke at 1am and just seemed unsettled rather than hungry.  Hubby managed to get him settled back to sleep, and I thought that might be him until half 2 or 3am.  Heard him stirring and looked at the clock – 6.17am!!!  So I took him in beside me and he dozed off until 7am.  Happy days.  Or should I say happy day, because the two nights since have been very disturbed, but I’m putting that down to the teeth.  At least now I know he can manage to go all night – definitely light at the end of the tunnel!

The next step will be moving A through to his own room…  Hubby is keen to do this ASAP, and in some ways I think we probably need to – he definitely keeps me awake with his rumbling around, and there have been several occasions when I’ve ended up feeding him just because we’re both awake and I didn’t think he would last until morning.  He is starting to look a bit cramped in his crib too.  But on the other hand, it seems too soon, and certainly if he’s going to be really unsettled with his teeth, it’s easier to have him in our room rather than to-ing and fro-ing all night.  He’s been having his daytime naps in the big cot to get him used to it, so hopefully when we actually move him it won’t be too traumatic.  Maybe next week….

The final bit of excitement (for me anyway) was my first evening out since before A was born!  I went to the theatre to see one of my friends appearing in an amateur production of Annie, which is one of my favourite musicals.  It was a bit of a rush – I got A ready for bed and fed him early, then as soon as he’d finished feeding I threw him at hubby and dashed out the door.  My dad gave me a lift so I didn’t need to worry about parking the car, and I arrived literally as the lights were going down.  It was lovely to have a bit of ‘me’ time, and needless to say everyone managed fine without me, albeit with Nana (my mum) on hand to do B’s bath while hubby winded A and got him settled!

Phew!  Exciting times.  Who knows what next week will bring!?

The week of the selfie (but not the one you think!)

Last week was all about the selfies for me.  I’m sure everyone is aware of the #nomakeupselfie, which has now raised over £2m for cancer charities, even though no one seems to know how it started!  And I did take part in that after I was tagged by a friend on FB.  However, that wasn’t the one that was the big deal for me.

Last weekend, I posted a couple of pics on FB of me breastfeeding A, in support of mass feeding events going on up and down the country.  These events had been organised by a woman called Emily Slough, who was unknowingly photographed by a complete stranger breastfeeding her baby in Rugeley; this person then posted the photo on a local FB group, labelling the poor woman a tramp.  Her plan to hit back at this narrow minded idiot was taken up firstly on social media, and then by the mainstream media.  Those who couldn’t go to an event were encouraged to post breastfeeding pics online.  I thought long and hard about whether to take part or not.  While I knew lots of my friends, particularly the female ones, would be fully supportive, I was also aware that I have male colleagues as FB friends….  Appropriate or not??  Well, in the end, I decided the point I was making justified the pics.

Let me say now that, in the nicest possible way, I don’t give two hoots how anyone else chooses to feed their baby.  It’s not for anyone else to judge or comment on.  Yes we know that breast is best – it’s rammed down our throats from the minute a woman discovers she is pregnant!  However, I truly believe it is only ‘best’ if both baby and mummy are happy.  If baby is not gaining enough weight on breastmilk alone, there is no question you will be advised to top up with formula.  But what if breastfeeding is making mum miserable, stressed, exhausted?  Is breast really best then?  Personally I have my doubts.

I did not enjoy feeding B.  In fact I would go so far as to say I hated it.  Looking back, there were various things that probably made our experience a bit more difficult.  First of all, I was recovering from an emergency C-section (more about that some other day!), so physically I wasn’t on top form.  Secondly, B was born with both hips dislocated (more about that later too!!), and from a week old was in a harness to correct that, meaning we had to be very careful how we held her and moved her legs, so positioning for feeding was tricky.  She was also very refluxy – you could never tell when she was going to throw up a whole feed in one go or whether it would just be coming up mouthful by mouthful for three hours!  I found the whole process frustrating, exhausting and never ending. People had warned me that in the beginning it would feel like I was constantly feeding, but I hadn’t anticipated how constantly!!  By six weeks B wasn’t gaining weight and wasn’t sleeping for more than a couple of hours at a time, and I was exhausted, so the health visitor suggested trying her with a bottle of formula at bedtime.  That night she slept through.  And the night after and the night after that.  She was happier, and I was happier.  She had her last breastfeed at 6 and a half months, but by that time it was only the first feed in the morning – the rest were all formula feeds. Also, in all that time, I never fed her in public.  Not once in six and a half months.  I just never felt comfortable with it – I was worried someone would stare, or laugh, or that B would throw up all over me.  So outings were planned around feeds, or I would take a bottle with me.  Even in my own house, if we had visitors I would still sometimes go and feed her in the nursery – that’s how self conscious I felt.

Why did I continue for so long if I disliked it so much?  Honestly?  A large part of it was not wanting to be the first of my antenatal pals to give up.  Ridiculous, and I know they wouldn’t have cared either way, but there you go.

I think there is a real lack of information available on mixed feeding – certainly as a first time mum to be, it seemed to be very black or white.  Either you breastfed or you formula fed.  There was only talk of introducing formula if the breastfeeding wasn’t working and baby wasn’t gaining enough weight compared to the blooming chart.  How to make a new mum feel like a failure!!  I know that until your milk supply is established you need to feed feed feed, but nobody really tells you that after that you can in fact do breast and formula in tandem if that’s what you want to do.

When I was pregnant with A, I genuinely considered not breastfeeding at all.  Hubby was dead against that – he said it was unfair to not even try when I had breastfed B.  He thought I should at least give it 12 weeks (not sure where he plucked that number from!); I said I would try but I wasn’t putting a timescale on it, and if I wasn’t happy then I would not be putting any pressure on myself to continue.  I also felt much more informed about mixed feeding and felt that was probably the road we would go down.

Ironically, A is now over 4 months old and is exclusively breastfed.  I don’t know if it’s because I knew what I was doing, or knew what to expect, or if he has taken to it more naturally than B did, but for whatever reason things just clicked into place with us.  He doesn’t sleep as well as B, but he is the same weight at 4 months as she was at 6 months, so he is thriving on it!  I have also got over my fear of feeding in public – I had to, otherwise it would have had a huge impact on B’s life.  He’s been fed at soft play, B’s ballet class, the John Lewis café, a 4 year old’s birthday party….  The first time I fed him while we were out and about, when he was 5 days old, I felt so proud of myself.  Now it’s second nature – if he needs fed, he needs fed.  The only time I’ve ever felt slightly awkward was at a kids’ theatre show we took B to at Xmas.  I was sat next to the dad of one of her nursery pals, the room went quiet and all you could hear was A gulping milk….!!

And that was why I decided to share my breastfeeding pics on FB.  In a world where all you have to do is open a newspaper at page 3 to see a pair of boobs, how can someone possibly have an issue with someone feeding their baby in public?  There’s more flesh on display in town on a Saturday night than there is when I’m feeding A.  It’s not about saying “Look at us, aren’t we so great breastfeeding our babies”, or trying to make out that breastfeeding mums are somehow superior to those who don’t or can’t.  It’s about saying “IF you choose to breastfeed, know that for every idiot who gives you a look or sniggers, there are ten more people looking at you in admiration and support”.  It’s about every mother having the right to feed her baby whenever and wherever she needs to, however she chooses to do it.

And if that raised a few eyebrows among some of my FB ‘friends’ then so be it.

As a footnote, you may be wondering why the photos were selfies.  That’s because when I mentioned it to hubby the night before, he said “I hope you’re not going to post photos are you??”.  Yep, the same man that was insisting I breastfed A for the magic 12 weeks.  Go figure!!!  😉

Forgotten passions (no, not that kind!!)

Today, Aberdeen Football Club won their first bit of silverware since 1995. “So what?!” I hear you cry.  Please bear with me, even if you don’t like football!

If I’d started this blog five years ago, one of the first things I would have mentioned in my bio or intro was the fact that I had a season ticket for AFC. An actual season ticket.  As in I went to pretty much every home game, and the odd away game too.  Not quite a die hard fan, but I sat through far too many 0-0 draws in the peeing rain and howling gales in the middle of winter to be called a fair weather fan.  And I went for years.  I got my first season ticket at the age of 11 – to start with my dad took me and my younger brother (under sufferance it has to be said, we definitely didn’t get the bug from him!), then as we got older we went just the two of us.  My brother would regularly get told off for using bad language in the family stand, so we moved where he could swear without anyone batting an eyelid!!  I suppose looking back it’s amazing that he never wanted to ditch his older sister to go with his mates instead, but we carried on going together even once I’d moved out of my parents’ house, although I remember he did once accuse me of only going so I could talk to boys about football…..!! 

So I was at Hampden in 1995 when The Dons won their last trophy.  I was also there the last time we reached a cup final, in 2000 (our goalkeeper was injured a few minutes into the match.  We didn’t have a goalie on the bench.  Didn’t end well).

I gave up my season ticket for a couple of years in my early 20s, largely because my boyfriend at the time didn’t like me going (I know…..), but I always kept up my interest with the club and would go to the odd game here and there.  Then I met my hubby, who despite not being from Aberdeen was a massive fan and had had a season ticket since he moved here for uni.  It was immediate common ground, and probably one of the things that cemented our friendship initially, and then our relationship.  I ended up getting a season ticket again, and our Saturdays often involved a pub lunch, watching the early kick off on TV then heading to Pittodrie.

Yet now, football doesn’t even get a mention in my bio, because all that changed when B was born in 2009.  She was due in the November, so I didn’t renew my season ticket in August.  Hubby did (by this time another friend was sitting with us, so he wasn’t going on his lonesome!).  Of course with a new baby we couldn’t both disappear for two hours every other weekend – a couple of people suggested to me that we should take turn about going to games, but there was no way hubby was going to agree to that!!  So he continued going, in fact he went to a game the day after I got home from hospital with B, having had an emergency section three days previously….(my midwife was appalled!!).  And I stopped going, and because I wasn’t going to games, I gradually lost interest.  I didn’t know any of the players, I wasn’t really interested in hubby’s post match analysis on a Saturday evening.  In fact it became the cause of a bit of resentment, as he disappeared off for a minimum of 3 hours every other Saturday, leaving me at home with a baby then a toddler, then a three year old and a big bump, and most recently a stroppy 4 year old and a newborn.  Even today, knowing how excited he was, part of me was thinking “Oh yes, off you go, leaving at 9am for a game that starts at half 2, leaving me to manage all day AND do bathtime and bedtime on my own AGAIN”!!!

Then I got caught up in a little bit of the excitement, on FB and Twitter, and listening to the local radio.  It seemed like it was all anyone was talking about!!  B had said she wanted to watch the match, but I knew the reality of it would be that she would watch ten minutes then get bored, and I’d have to find something else to entertain her.  So we went off out for the afternoon, and I’d planned to get home so we could see the last ten minutes of the game, and see AFC lifting the cup if they won.  Best laid plans and all that, we didn’t get home until 4.15pm, just at the end of the 90 minutes.  However, it was 0-0 which meant extra time – as suspected, B wasn’t really interested once she discovered she could see daddy on the TV, but she was happy colouring while I fed A and watched.  After another half hour, it was still 0-0, so on to the dreaded penalties.  By now I could feel the nerves and adrenalin I used to get at a match, and even B was caught up in it, standing at the TV shouting “Get it in there min”!!!  First penalty to Caley Thistle – saved by our keepr!!!!  First penalty for the Dons – scored!!  Then Caley Thistle missed their second!!  Our second went in, so did Caley’s third.  If our third goes in we’ve done it, we’ve won the cup…..  Yaaaaassssssss!!  And suddenly I’m leaping around the living room with A, B’s jumping up and down and I have to confess I had a tear in my eye.  Hubby phoned absolutely ecstatic (possibly crying, I couldn’t tell), and B’s shouting down the phone “I know Daddy, I’m watching the football programme”!!!

Ten minutes later, normal life was resumed and I started cooking tea, but with a wee grin on my face.  I’d forgotten the passion I used to have for football – when you support Aberdeen there are more lows than highs, but the highs….  Bloody brilliant!!!

So while I might not be signing up for a season ticket any time soon, the next time I get the chance to go to a match, I might just see if we can line up a babysitter!!

Hello? Is there anybody there?!?

Hello. Well, this is all a bit nerve wracking. My very first blog post. I’m not sure which is more scary – thinking that people will read my random musings or the prospect that actually nobody will!!

Firstly let me introduce myself.  I’m Alison, I’m 35 (I only realised the other day that this most definitely puts me in my mid 30s!!), and I live in Aberdeen.  I’m mummy to a 4yo little girl (B) and a wee boy (A) who was 4 months old yesterday!

So why a blog, and why now?  I suppose I first started toying with the idea when I got really into Twitter and started following lots of mummy bloggers and reading their blogs.  My hubby is always telling me I should write a book, although he might change his mind when he realises how much of it would be about him!!  😉  Also writing is one of the few things I miss about my job (PR & Comms for an oil company) while on maternity leave – well, that and proof reading other people’s writing, I miss my red pen!!!  As for the timing, I nearly started a blog at the beginning of last year as a diary of my pregnancy, but we sadly lost the baby, and while writing about how I was feeling was definitely therapeutic, it felt too private to share (and probably not the cheeriest way to start off in the blogging world!).  We were very lucky and I fell pregnant again very quickly, but I was too scared of jinxing things to share the pregnancy so publicly (silly I know).  So I’ve now been faffing about on WordPress for a few weeks, trying to pluck up the courage to post and also to work out how on earth it all works, and I figured the best way to get started is just to write, and worry about making it look pretty later!  I also had lots of encouragement from some of my Twitter friends – I have no idea how to link to their blogs at the moment but they know who they are!

I suspect most of my posts will be about the kids and family life, with some baking (food in general actually!), lovely shoes, books, trashy TV and my addiction to boy bands (yes, I know, at 35 I should know better!) thrown in for good measure.

As for the blog name, here in the North East of Scotland, a ‘fine piece’ is a cake, biscuit or other sweet treat.  I am very partial to cakes and biscuits.  I’m also very partial to a ‘blether’ – a chinwag, a natter, a good old catch up!  In fact the two go very well together.  Nothing better than meeting up with a friend for a coffee, cake and a chat.  And hopefully that’s what this blog will become – firstly for me, a place to witter on to my heart’s content as though I’m chatting to a friend, and also for any regular readers who decide to join me.

So thank you for reading.  Please come back soon and join me for a fine piece and a blether!