We heart Center Parcs!

Last month we went on our first holiday since A was born, to Center Parcs at Whinfell Forest, near Penrith.  We first went to Whinfell last September, when I was pregnant with A, and I have to admit I was a little sceptical beforehand, because organised holiday activities are not my thing. However, I was won round very quickly – I think we’d been there less than two hours when I was trying to work out when we could go back!!  It is so family friendly, it seemed like an obvious choice for our first trip away as a foursome.

In the end, we were a seven-some, as we were joined by our friends L and S and their little girl K. It’s the first time we’ve holidayed with another family (although we have been away with L&S minus children before!), but we were fairly confident we would get on well, as me and L have pretty similar parenting styles (although you’re never really sure until you’re living in close proximity to someone for a few days!!).  K is 2 years younger than B and absolutely adores her, so she was very excited, and I hoped B wouldn’t think it was “babyish” (a new favourite word) to play with her.  We booked up some activities before we went and reckoned we had a good mix of things the girls could do together and things we could do separately, so we wouldn’t be completely in each other’s pockets.

Here’s a wee diary of our trip!

Monday

We left Aberdeen just after 9am.  The journey down went surprisingly smoothly – less than 6 hours including two stops (including one for lunch which saw B have her first ever McDonalds!!), which with three kids in tow is not bad going!

There was a bit of a queue to get our lodge keys, but it moved very quickly, and before we knew it, it was time to unload the cars.  We had a four bedroom lodge, and we had decided in advance that our friends would take the downstairs bedrooms as K is an early riser, so it made sense for them to have access to the morning essentials (coffee and TV!!) without worrying about disturbing us. Needless to say the girls weren’t particularly interested in unpacking, and were also in need of some fresh air after being cooped up in the car, so the dads took them out on their bikes while me and L emptied the suitcases and sorted out the kitchen.

We had a table booked for dinner at 5.45pm, so we headed over to the Village Centre where the girls ran around the soft play area for a while before tea.  We had A in the buggy in the hope he would have a nap, but there were far too many new things to look at!  Dinner was at Café Rouge – one of the things I love about Center Parcs is that you know wherever you eat will have a great kids’ menu, and I especially like the options at Café Rouge.  It also has a little soft play area that the girls pottered about in for a little while, but then some colouring sheets appeared and that diverted their attention until the food arrived.  By the time we’d eaten, K was starting to flag and A hadn’t napped since before we’d arrived, so me and L headed back to the lodge, leaving B with hubby and S so she could have a pudding!

Despite the excitement and the new surroundings, all three kids settled reasonably quickly at bedtime, but the grown ups sensibly decided an early-ish night would be a wise idea all round!

 

Tuesday

One of the things B had wanted to do on our last trip to Whinfell that we couldn’t fit in was horse riding, so we’d booked for both girls to go on a pony trek on the Tuesday morning.  When hubby was checking our itinerary when we arrived, he’d discovered that we had to be there half an hour before it started, and it was a half hour walk away!!!  So we got everyone breakfasted and dressed, and set off just after 9am – hubby carrying A in the sling and the rest of us walking, although L&S took their buggy in case K got tired. Well, it was a walk and a half!!  The riding centre is right on the edge of the site (and I believe in fact is an independently owned business) and to be honest meant the girls were tired before we even got there!  K went on her dad’s shoulders for some of the way, and I ended up carrying B for a bit, but with hindsight we should have taken A in the buggy so hubby could take B on his shoulders.  Thank goodness we hadn’t let the girls take their bikes as it was pretty hilly and would have been a nightmare!  It was also FAR warmer than any of us had been expecting – I had no sunhat for A, no suncream or anything.

Anyhow, once we (eventually) got there, the girls were fitted with helmets then taken along to meet their ponies – Dinky and Harry!  There was one other wee girl and her dad, but I can imagine during peak season the groups are a bit bigger.  I had half thought B might not be so keen once it came to actually getting on the pony, but she was fine.  She had a little handle on the front of the saddle to hold on to, and I just had to walk beside her – L had to actually hold on to the back of K’s jacket because she is younger. The trek itself was half an hour, just along the same paths that we’d walked half an hour earlier…..!!  It was very gentle, but B really enjoyed it, although she was disgusted when Dinky stopped for a poo!!  Half an hour was definitely enough though, especially on top of the long walk the girls had already had.  Once we got back there were cuddles for the ponies, then we sat at the picnic benches and had a cold drink and a snack before starting the walk back to the lodge!  So a great activity, but the distance and time to get there meant a half hour activity took up more than 2 and a half hours which would put me off doing it again.

B was desperate to go swimming in the afternoon, but she’d been complaining of a sore ear during the night so I said no pool (mean Mummy!).  Instead we settled for face painting and an hour or so in a fab play park (kitted out completely differently since our last visit), followed by ten pin bowling over at the Village Centre, which was lots of fun. We’d decided just to eat at home that night, so we headed back to the lodge to let the girls have a wee bit of downtime while hubby cooked.  Both girls were in bed early and even A settled reasonably quickly, so the grown ups got the Uno cards out – rock ‘n’ roll!!!

 

Wednesday

Lucky L was booked into the spa on Wednesday morning (she highly recommends the hot stone massage!), but that was the only planned activity, so we decided it was time for one of the highlights of any Center Parcs stay – the pool!  B loved the pool the last time, especially the rapids and the kiddy slides (not so keen on the waves though!), and her swimming has really come on in the last six months, so she couldn’t wait to get going.  A was due a nap, so the girls headed to the pool with the dads, and I followed once A had woken up.

The swimming pool is, well for starters it’s more than just a pool!  Tropical swimming paradise is its official title I think!  There’s slides (for the big kids as well as the wee ones!), wave machine, rapids, baby and toddler pools, outdoor pool, lots of seating, a poolside café….  You could easily spend several hours there, particularly if your kids are a bit older.

After getting A changed (another plus point with wee ones – the changing rooms always seem very clean and amazingly dry underfoot!), I caught up with hubby and B at the kids’ slides.  We watched B come down a couple of times, then I took A into the baby section of the pool.  The water is so warm it is like sitting in a bath!  A had a happy time splashing in there, by which time the girls had had enough, so we all headed back to get changed.  The one thing at the pool that doesn’t work for me is the showers – there is nowhere to hang towels, bags and other paraphernalia required when swimming with small children, so you either have to put them on the (wet) ground, or you have to leave everything through in the pool area, get showered then go back and get it, at which point said small children make a break for the pool again….!!

When everyone was organised, we headed to meet L at probably my favourite eatery at Whinfell – The Pancake House!!!  Yum.  The guys made this their lunch and went for savoury options, while me and L chose full on sweet pancake stacks – mine with bananas and cream (one of my five a day, and I did share with B!).  Delicious.

B really wanted to get her hair braided, so on the way back to our lodge we stopped at one of the booking stations to see when we could fit that in.  The machines are a bit clunky to use, but the system works very well and showed a slot for hair braiding in ten minutes.  B was very pleased with the result, and I could already forsee a tantrum when the thing had to be taken out in a few days!

Our afternoon activity was something for all of us to do together – pottery painting!  When we’d pre booked this a few weeks before, hubby and S had mocked and rolled their eyes; however I have some great pics of hubby, deep in concentration helping B paint a pink unicorn!!  The price that we’d paid upfront only included the studio time and use of the paints, so depending on which items (ranging from egg cups, mugs and plates to unicorns and other ‘ornaments’) you select to paint, it could end up being quite expensive.  You can choose as many items as you like during your 90min session, and they are then glazed and fired (or fired and glazed?!!?) and ready for collection the next day.  B did the unicorn and a tile, and I did a ‘Family’ ornament that I painted in different colours then wrote our names on (here in progress!):

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It was actually a great way to spend an hour and a half – both girls enjoyed it, and B amazed me once more with her attention to detail when doing something like that, and it was nice to do something creative as a break from the more physical activities!

At B’s request we’d booked another game of bowling, so we headed across to do that straight from the pottery studio.  Being beaten at bowling by a 2 year old and a 4 year old – mildly embarrassing!!!

Our dinner plans involved takeaway – you can order takeaway food and either collect it or have it delivered to the lodge.  The best part about the takeaway service is you can mix and match from Chinese, Indian and pizza, so there’s bound to be something to please everyone, and it also lets kids try something they maybe wouldn’t normally, with a pizza to fall back on if it all goes wrong!  The quality of the food is great, and fair to say we could hardly move afterwards!!

 

Thursday

Thursday morning saw us all head off in different directions for a couple of hours.  L had booked a messy play session for K, so they left fairly early for that, with L hoping that the recommendation to bring a swimsuit to wear was only directed at the children….!!  Hubby and S did an aerial assault course (or “swinging in the trees like monkeys” as B called it!!), and B was booked for a Tots Tennis lesson.  She had done Tots Golf on our previous trip, so I knew parental participation would be required, but I was fairly sure A would fall asleep in the buggy on our way across….

Well, the best laid plans….  We arrived at the Sports Plaza, A was still wide awake, but by now tired and grumpy.  Just as I was wondering how I was going to manage to help B with tennis while dealing with a grouchy baby, hubby appeared!  Their aerial adventure hadn’t lasted quite as long as they’d expected, so he was able to take A off for a walk, while I attempted the tennis.  Safe to say my hand/eye coordination is not the greatest, but we got on OK and B really enjoyed it.  The instructor was very good with the kids as well.

A was now napping in the buggy, and L&S had taken K back to the lodge for a nap, so we decided to stay in the Sports Plaza for lunch at the Sports Café.  This was definitely the most disappointing meal of the trip – nothing wrong with the food, but £35 for two salads, a kid’s sandwich and three drinks is pretty steep, especially when it comes with a 40 minute wait.  There was a little soft play bit which kept B amused for a while, then she did some colouring, but a wait that long feels like forever to a 4 year old!

After lunch we headed back to the lodge to get organised with swimming stuff for an afternoon at the pool.  A had slept for almost 2 hours, and K had had a good nap too, so everyone was raring to go.  We spent about two hours in the pool area, including a stop for mini doughnuts and mocktails, and a go on the big slides for the dads!

We had an early dinner booked that evening at the Lakeside Inn, which serves pub grub and a carvery – I had a mountainous plate from the carvery which was very tasty, and B had a huge bowl of spag bol from the fairly extensive kids’ menu.  None of the grown ups had room for pudding, but B and K made room for more mini doughnuts and chocolate brownies!

We then headed into the Village Centre for the kids’ disco, which the girls enjoyed (although B did sulk a bit when she didn’t get a prize for being the best dancer!) and was a nice way to round off our last evening.

 

Friday

We had to be out the lodge by 10am, so everyone was up early to get breakfasted and packed.  The girls were getting under everyone’s feet, so L took them across to the soft play, and I followed with A shortly afterwards, leaving hubby and S to pack up the cars and repark them in the car park.

You can actually stay in the Village all day, even once you’ve checked out of your lodge, but with 3 small kids and a long-ish drive ahead, we didn’t hang about for too long – just long enough for B to spend her pennies in the toy shop and me to get some treats for myself from the sweetie shop!

We had a really fantastic holiday and can’t wait to go back.  I think one of the best things about Center Parcs is that it grows with your family, so the next time we go B will be interested in a whole different set of activities, and there will be things that A can do, as well as things we can do as a family.  There is more than enough to keep a family occupied for a full week, but with smaller kids I think the short break is a great option, as B was exhausted after four days of full on fun!!

Bring on our next visit! 🙂

 

 

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Time to eat my words?!

This time last week, I was determined to wait until A was 6 months to start him on solids, so we could do baby led weaning. This week, I’ve kind of changed my mind. Well, there’s no kind of about it….

We’ve had a bit of a hellish week. B came down with some hideous virus on Sunday and even now, on Thursday, is not 100%. So between A being up every 2 hours during the night most nights, and B being up not well, on Monday I was like a zombie. I did my Tesco shop online in a sleep deprived haze, and for some reason I decided to stick some Ella’s Kitchen pouches into my basket. In the end, I was at the doctor with B when the shopping was delivered on Tuesday, so my mum, who was minding A for me, unpacked everything. She left the pouches sitting on the worktop, where they remained until yesterday morning – a morning which followed another sleepless night.

I remembered that before we’d started weaning properly with B, I’d let her play about with baby rice on the tray of her high chair. OK, I thought, let’s let A puddle about with some fruit puree at lunchtime. OK it’s not BLW, but it’s not spoon feeding either. Lunchtime got closer, I wondered if I was doing the right thing. Then had an attack of the guilts that B’s first foods had all been homemade, and I decided I couldn’t give A something out a packet (nothing against Ella’s Kitchen, B still loves a “fruity pouch”!!). I had some pears in the fridge so I whipped up some pear puree. As you do.

I made myself a sandwich and popped A in his highchair – he’s been sitting at the table with us for a week or so now. I spooned some of the pears onto the tray and waited with great expectation. Nothing. He didn’t even notice they were there! Our highchair isn’t great for self feeding as the tray is quite high, and we’d planned to get another one after our holiday next week, so I helped him get his hands on to the tray and dipped his fingers in the puree. Still completely non plussed, and his hands fell back into his lap. Then I remembered reading about pre loaded spoons as part of BLW, so I got a spoon from the drawer (he’s been playing with a spoon and a cup while he sits in the high chair), loaded it with pear and held it out to him. He took it straight away, and put it straight to his mouth. A look of surprise crossed his wee face as he got his first taste, then he kept chewing on the spoon. We repeated this process five or six times. Some ended up on his face, some ended up down his front, but some definitely went in his mouth!! I was quite excited (and also hoping hubby wouldn’t be mad that I’d done it when he wasn’t there!).

Last night, A woke up at 11.20pm, which is a wee bit early for his night time shenanigans to start. Hubby went through and managed to settle him back to sleep, and I though that might buy us an hour or so before he woke for a feed. Next thing I was aware of was B at my bedside asking for Calpol. I looked at the clock. 4.45am!!!! I was so surprised I actually went to check on A before I saw to B. Needless to say he was fine, and he remained sound asleep until 6.15am, when I took him in beside me and he dozed off again until after 7am.

Now it could have been complete coincidence. I also had no caffeine yesterday for the first time in ages, so that could have been a factor in better sleep too. But I’m not taking any chances!! At lunch today, he had carrot puree (same process, pre loaded spoon) and a slice of avocado (which I think pretty much all got spat out!). I hadn’t planned to give him anything at teatime, but he was grouchy so I gave him a bit of broccoli from my plate. He ended up chewing on three bits of broccoli – again, some of it was spat out, but I think a wee bit went in.

So I’m not sure what kind of weaning we’re doing, but safe to say the process has begun, even if it is three weeks earlier than planned. Hopefully over the next couple of weeks we’ll lean more towards BLW, but in the meantime we’ll just take it as it comes (and hope for a few more good nights!!!). And I’m sure the Ella’s Kitchen stuff will come in handy next week when we’re away.

Family frustrations!

I’ve mentioned before that my mum (and dad, but particularly my mum) does a lot for us as a family.  Since I went back to work, they keep B one day a week, meaning I get paid for three days of work but only have to pay for two days of childcare.  They are the only babysitters B has ever been left with, not just to let me and hubby go out for the evening but to let me get my hair cut, go to the doctor or the dentist, or even go to the supermarket in peace!  In the almost three years I was back at work before going on maternity leave last year, I never once had to take a day off because B was poorly – mum and dad would always step in and look after her.  Since A was born, they have helped me out with bathtime and bedtime when hubby has been out or away, they’ve popped round and taken B out for an hour when we’ve been having one of ‘those’ days.  And as if all that wasn’t enough, my mum has done our ironing since I fell pregnant with A!!

I suppose as a result of all the extra help they give us, I do sometimes bite my tongue about some of the things they do with B.  Nothing major, just too much “treaty” food, too many new toys/comics/colouring books etc, and especially recently when her behaviour has been very challenging, they sometimes undermine what I’m trying to do at home.  But that’s what grandparents are for, right?!

However, I think me and my mum might be about to clash a little bit.  A is not sleeping very well, after being brilliant as a newborn he is now up sometimes every hour between midnight and 5am, at which point he usually ends up in beside us.  He only feeds once, around half past midnight or 1am – the rest of the time he tends to be awake and grumpy, but not interested in feeding.  Despite this, my mum keeps saying I should be giving him a bottle of formula at bedtime so he’ll “sleep through”.  Gah. 

Last week, she said (and I quote), “I assume you’ll start him on formula once he’s on solids?”.  Ermmm, no.  Why would I?  “When did you stop feeding B?  Wasn’t that when you weaned her?”.  Well yes it was, but she was combination fed from about 6 weeks, and by the time I stopped breastfeeding, I was only giving her the first feed in the morning.  Plus I didn’t enjoy feeding her and couldn’t wait to stop!  Mum knows that this time around I feel totally differently about bf-ing, and ultimately it’s working out for us – A is gaining plenty weight, ok he’s not sleeping but if it’s not hunger that’s waking him then formula ain’t going to help!!

The final straw was yesterday when they dropped B off after her ‘Nana Papa’ day.  We’d spoken about weaning A before and I’d mentioned my plans to do baby led weaning, so yesterday I said that before I start him on solids I would let her read some of the stuff I’ve gathered on BLW.  She looked a bit sceptical, so I explained that babies who start off on finger foods can quite often gag, and it’s important to know the difference between gagging and choking.  I then also made the mistake of saying that in the first few months it doesn’t really matter if he doesn’t eat much, as he’ll still get most of the nutrition he needs from breastmilk.  Cue various comments about how can I expect him to sleep through in that case, finished off by the statement “Well if I’m looking after him he’ll just be getting proper baby food”.

Now I’m not saying that A will not be fed anything off a spoon at all, but that’s my decision to make once we get started.  Mum’s remark is the equivalent of her saying “Well if I’m looking after him I’ll just give him a bottle of formula instead of expressed milk”.

I’m not really too sure how to address this.  In a lot of ways it’s probably not even worth bringing it up again at the moment – we’re still a few weeks away from weaning, and I don’t have any plans to leave A with my folks for any length of time in the immediate future.  But at the same time, I feel like I need to make it clear that all these things are my decisions – how long I breastfeed for, how we move on to solids – and I need support, not someone questioning my choices, however well intentioned it is.

I suppose part of it comes from an increased confidence on my part – as a first time mum I constantly asked my own mum for advice and for her opinion on what we were doing with B.  Maybe Mum is feeling less needed this time around.  Maybe I need to make more of an effort to involve her with our day to day routine with A, and she’ll come to appreciate my point of view on the bigger decisions.

I shall keep you posted!

#TMI

photo-37
1. What are you wearing?
Black skinny jeans, pink top
2. Ever been in love?
Yep
3. Ever had a terrible breakup?
Errmmm, terrible at the time as in I had my heart broken? Yes, twice.
4. How tall are you?
About 5ft 4 in my heels!
5. How much do you weigh?
8st 4 – I got the scales out especially to check!
6. Any tattoos?
A dolphin on my back. B always asks why the paint on my back hasn’t washed off!!
7. Any piercings?
Just my ears
8. OTP?

According to Google this stands for One True Pairing or One Time Password. I’m not telling you my passwords!!!  So I’ll say Scott and Charlene from Neighbours (showing my age!!!!)
9. Favourite show?
Masterchef, X Factor, Big Brother, One Born, Call the Midwife, Homeland

10. Favourite bands?

All time favourite is Take That, currently loving The Vamps.  Basically anything with a few good looking young pups singing pop songs!!!
11. Something you miss?
Long lies!
12. Favourite song?
Rule the World by Take That
13. How old are you?
35
14. Zodiac sign?
Capricorn
15. Quality you look for in a partner?
Someone who can make me laugh, someone who shares the same values
16. Favourite Quote?
“Nothing lasts forever so live it up, drink it down, laugh it off, avoid the bullshit, take chances and never have regrets, because at one point everything you did was exactly what you wanted” – Marilyn Monroe
17. Favourite actor?
Ryan Gosling. Purely for his acting skills you understand….!!
18. Favourite colour?
Purple or turquoise
19. Loud music or soft?
Depends on my mood.  Although I do like singing along in the car at the top of my voice!
 20. Where do you go when you’re sad?
My mum’s
21. How long does it take you to shower?
Could easily spend half an hour in the shower, but not much chance of that with 2 little people around!
22. How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?
Anything from 10 minutes to an hour and a half, depending on previously mentioned little people!!
23. Ever been in a physical fight?
No, I’d be rubbish
24. Turn on?
Nice eyes, nice shoes!
25. Turn off?
Arrogance
26. The reason I started blogging?
I was enjoying reading lots of blogs, and I enjoy writing (it’s one of the few things I miss about my job!) so thought I’d give it a bash
27. Fears?
Snakes
28. Last thing that made you cry?
Miserable day yesterday with A teething, combined with headache and lack of sleep 😦
29. Last time you said you loved someone?
To B when she left to go to Nana’s for a sleepover (along with warnings to behave!!)
30. Meaning behind your blog name?
Two of my favourite things – a fine piece is a cake and a blether is a chat!
31. Last book you read?
The Believers by Zoe Heller
32. The book you’re currently reading?
Shadows of the Workhouse by Jennifer Worth
33. Last show you watched?

Masterchef on catch up
34. Last person you talked to?
Last person I talked to was A, last person I talked to that can talk back was my mum!
35. The relationship between you and the person you last texted?
Hubby
36. Favourite food?
Jaffa cakes and smoked salmon.  Although not usually together.
37. Place you want to visit?
Would love to go back to New York
38. Last place you were?
The park
39. Do you have a crush?
I’ve had a crush on Mark Owen from Take That since I was 12
40. Last time you kissed someone?
A when I tucked him up in bed
41. Last time you were insulted?
Ermmm, can’t think! Oh, we had a friend from B’s nursery over to play in Feb and both kids and mums had a fab time, well I thought so anyway, lots of “Oh we must do this again”! But the invitation has never been returned. So I suppose I am mildly insulted by that!!
42. Favourite flavour of sweet?
Cola bottles
43. What instruments do you play?
Played the violin and the flute as a kid, doubt I could get much of a tune out of either nowadays!
44. Favourite piece of jewellery?
My engagement ring
 45. Last sport you played?
Sport, don’t make me laugh!!!
46. Last song you sang?
Do You Want to Build a Snowman (from Frozen)
47. Favourite chat up line?
LOL, been a long time since I’ve been chatted up!
48. Have you ever used it?
Ha, see above!
49. Last time you hung out with anyone?
What, other than kids/hubby/my mum?? We went to friends on Tuesday so the kids could play, does that count as hanging out?!?
50. Who should answer these questions next?

When Grandma came to stay

As I mentioned in my last post, my mother in law lives in New Zealand, having moved there about 11 and a half years ago.  This of course means that we don’t see her very often – we Skype with her once a month or so, but actual visits are few and far between.  So there was great excitement in the house at the end of last week as Grandma was coming to stay for five days (she spends 3 or 4 weeks in the UK in total, but comes to Aberdeen for only a part of that).  It would be the first time she would meet A, and she hadn’t seen B in 18 months.  I’ll be honest and say I wasn’t feeling that excited – the thought of a houseguest when I am surviving on about 4 hours sleep a night thanks to A did not really float my boat, plus MIL is a vegetarian, so I had to get creative with my weekly menu!!!

Things got off to a bad start on Friday evening when Grandma’s flight up from London was delayed.  We’d told B she would be with us for teatime, but because of the delay that didn’t happen.  It also meant hubby wasn’t home for tea as he was picking her up from the airport, so me and B sat eating the vegetable and chickpea stew I’d made in the slow cooker (could have had meat after all!!!!!), with B asking every two minutes where Grandma was….  Eventually I could keep A going no longer, so gave him his bath, got B washed and told her to get into her pjs while I fed A, so at least she was ready for bed – and I promised she could stay up late if there was no sign of them arriving by the time I’d got A settled.  Just as B was getting her pjs on, the front door went and she shot off downstairs, only to return less than five minutes later.  I think she had just got over excited, and was tired after a busy day at nursery, and had just been a bit overwhelmed by it all!!  I managed to persuade her to take a book downstairs for Grandma to read her – then I heard hubby saying “But Grandma needs to have her tea”, at which point I very nearly shot off my chair with A still feeding to tell him not to be so bloody ridiculous, the poor child had been waiting for 18 months and two hours to see her Grandma, and surely dinner could wait five minutes!??!  Thankfully Grandma’s common sense prevailed and B got her story, then settled down to sleep no problem.

We had various things planned for B to do with Grandma over the course of her visit, so in an attempt to let Grandma spend a little bit of time with A, I managed to persuade B to go to her drama class on Saturday morning.  Added bonus for me was that it meant an hour on my own sitting in the café reading my book while I waited for her (I know, not as daft as I look!!!).  We headed home at lunchtime (sandwiches, easy!), then B had a skiing lesson in the afternoon which she wanted Grandma to watch.  When they came back from that, B wanted to do some colouring with Grandma, then we had lots of fun singing and dancing to the Frozen soundtrack!!  To give her her due, Grandma joined in with gusto!  Tea was a Chinese takeaway, so easy to cater for everyone’s tastes.

Sunday morning we went swimming, followed by lunch at my mum’s to fill some time!  It turned into a lovely afternoon, so when we got back from mum’s B wanted to go out on her bike, so that got everyone out from under my feet for a while!  I’d planned to have pasta for dinner, but my mum had made minestrone soup for lunch, so I had a quick change of plan and we had pizzas and salad instead.  By bathtime B was nearly asleep on the living room floor – all the excitement and exercise was wearing her out!

We had no specific plans for Monday, but it was the start of the school holidays and I’d seen a craft fair and play session advertised in Union Terrace Gardens for that morning, so we decided to head there.  It was a bit of a let down unfortunately – there were two ladies who were in charge of the play session, but they made no attempt at all to engage with us or get B involved.  Not that B was fussed, she got stuck in anyway, playing stepping stones with bits of wood and building a tower and a bridge out of plastic bits.  I think the intention is to encourage free play with equipment that they provide, but a “welcome” would have been nice!  Similarly, there wasn’t much to the craft fair either – a guy displaying 3D printing, and the opportunity to do a drawing to be added to a giant Easter Egg that will be displayed in Aberdeen Art Gallery.  So B did some drawing, by which time it was starting to rain and A was due a feed, so we headed to the shopping centre – B and daddy for a browse round the Early Learning Centre and me, A and Grandma to the John Lewis café for refreshments!!  After lunch at home, B decorated a couple of eggs for her nursery Easter competition, then hubby suggested taking her to see the Lego movie.  The cinema trip meant another couple of hours of one on one time for me and A, which is always nice, and while he napped I made the pasta dish I’d planned to make the previous night, with lentil and veg sauce (recipe here courtesy of Tealady Mumbles!).  The cinema goers came home having thoroughly enjoyed the film (daddy possibly most of all!!), and straight away B wanted to get her Lego out!

Yesterday saw another trip out for B with hubby and Grandma, this time to the theatre to see Aliens Love Underpants!  B loves the theatre, and I think it’s great to give kids the opportunity to go to things like that if you can.  Again me and A stayed at home, but went into town and met the other three for lunch after their show, which was a big hit with B.  We went to Café Rouge, who incidentally do a really nice kids menu.  While hubby was off walking A in the buggy in an attempt to get him to nap, he came across free face painting in the shopping centre, so we headed over there after we’d eaten and B got her face done as a butterfly!  We headed home about 2.30 so I could get tea started (prawn pilau, hooray for fish eating vegetarians!!) and B and Grandma literally spent the rest of the afternoon playing Barbies.  I wasn’t allowed in B’s room!  Because it had turned into a gorgeous evening and we were finished tea pretty early, B then got out for a bike ride before her bath – a lovely way to round off Grandma’s last day.

This morning Grandma’s cases were all packed, and my dad arrived to take her down to the station to get the train down to Glasgow to see my brother in law (nicely timed to coincide with his 30th this weekend).  I thought B would be upset when she left, but she gave her a hug and waved from the window, then got on with getting ready for her day at my mum’s.  It was then I realised that she doesn’t really have any concept that she won’t see her Grandma for at least another 18 months.

We had all this ‘stuff’ planned for when Grandma, but I bet if I ask B what her favourite part of Grandma’s visit was, she would say playing Barbies, or Grandma pushing her on the swing in the garden.  I certainly appreciated the extra pair of hands, whether they were keeping B entertained, or carting A around when he was grouchy.  I don’t suppose I’ve ever really thought about it before, but it does make me wonder how different things would be if she lived in the UK.  It also makes me appreciate once again how lucky I am to have my own parents on our doorstep, sharing so closely in my children’s lives as they grow up.

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.

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!?