Tag Archives: Craig

Getting Down n Dirty on Daddy’s Birthday

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Sunday was Daddy’s birthday – 42 no less!

The whole weekend was dedicated to this and included a romantic meal for two at Bella Italia, the casino, and a nice family meal a Nanny’s house.

We decided to get crafty for daddy’s birthday and Dexter and I made this on Saturday night. We dipped his little hands in water-based paints and Dexter was able to sign Daddy’s card himself.  Dexter giggled when his little cards went in the goo and seemed fascinated by the prints left on the card. The paint washed off his hands easily enough but I was still picking out remnants from his hair two days later.

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I think this will become a little tradition now. Both Craig and I have birthdays very close to Christmas so the whole season is really expensive. Craig’s reaction to something so simple made me think that we should just ‘make’ our birthday gifts from Dex; they cost next to nothing and hold far more sentimental value than anything we would ordinarily buy eachother.

This year I was even lucky enough to get some Ring Cufflinks from the delightful and beautiful Vikki over at Love From Mummy – these are really special little keepsakes that are perfect for Daddy’s and Grandad’s. Craig doesn’t wear suits or shirts very often but does dress up for horse racing days and weddings. Now he’ll be able to take a little bit of Dexter with him when he goes which is seriously cool.

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Craig did get other gifts from me, but I think Dexter’s gifts are his favourite. We topped the Sunday off with a film and an ‘early night’… just goes to show thar the best things in life are free.

“No Photography Allowed”: Dexter’s First Swim

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So, Dexter went for a swim at the weekend.

Since the disaster with the pool on holiday (Dexter hated it) we’ve been hesitant to take Dexie swimming. Our main concern was the temperature. Dexter likes warm baths and hates feeling cold. I’m not a huge fan of swimming either and didn’t want to take him myself. We’ve always thought it was important to take him though as it’s a skill that might one day save his life.

So off we went to a local pool in Reading. It’s the warmest pool we know of so we hedged our bets. Sitting in the spectators lounge – I had to fight the temptation to whip out my iPhone and take pictures. Dexter looked so cute in his little swimsuit splashing around in Craig’s arms. He was so happy and confident in his Zoggs Trainer Seat, Craig noticed he was even kicking his legs in the water beneath. Seeing that Dexter was having fun, Craig decided to be brave and float him instead. Dexter was happy on his back and even reacted well to being briefly underwater. Finally, as the pool was graduated and had no steps – the swallow areas had only a few cms of water and Dexter was able to lay on his front on his knees and lift his head out of the water.

I’d have seriously loved to have come away with some pictures but was deterred by the massive sign by the entrance to the lounge “No photography beyond this point”. There was only myself and one other person sitting in the lounge area and it was clear that neither of us were pedophiles. She was around 40, engrossed in 50 Shades of Grey, and continually checking her watch – every inch the archetypal middle-aged mum taking her children swimming. It made me think – I’d be horrified if there was man in an anorak and a long lens snapping pics of the kids. But then if I were to shoot Mr Anorak an accusatory glance and whisk Dexter away, I suppose I should extend the same suspicions to Mrs 50 Shades. What makes me qualified to decide if someone is acting illegally or not?

In some ways – it’s like the world has gone mad. You wouldn’t wrestle a camera off a man at Disney World just because it’s full of children, yet in Britain, I constantly hear stories of parents being prevented from filming their own children at a nativity play or sports day in case the pictures are misappropriated. Yes – pedophiles are vile and of course we’d all do anything to safeguard our children from predatory advances, but are we taking the whole thing too far? With breaking stories such as the posthumous investigation into Jimmy Saville – the western world is turning increasingly into a ‘trust no one’ society.

But where does it end? When Dexter takes part in his first school play, all I will have to remind me is a photo of him in his costume in front of my fireplace, and not onstage in character. There won’t be an action shot of him winning an egg-and-spoon race either. These were precious memories for my parents and I remember whole albums dedicated to my school days.

Then there’s this blog. I’ve posted hundreds of photos of Dexie. I don’t even bother changing our names. Why should I? This blog is in the public domain, completely unprotected and anyone can view it. But why should I worry? There are millions of pictures of children in their nappies all over the web. Every time we buy a packet of Huggies or Pampers there’s a semi naked baby posing adorably on the packaging!

So what is the solution? Should we ID parents on entry to a swimming pool, school gate, cinema? But wouldn’t this limit the freedom of grandparents and family friends to take children out for the day of fun? Of course this is a ridiculous suggestion. So is the only solution to ban photographing your children in public places? Couldn’t that very same person with horrific motivations be swimming alongside my child in the pool!?

I did manage just a quick one of the boys at the side of the pool and was careful to get no one else in it – but the photo is so awful I was reluctant to post it. Dexter looks so chubby it doesn’t even look like him – but hey for prosperity’s sake – here’s my baby on the day of his first ever swim with Daddy. Yet another example of me flaunting the rules… ssshhh don’t tell anyone!

American Pie: The Reunion… the antidote to PND?

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When the doctor first diagnosed me with postnatal depression 2 months ago – I was literally knocked sideways. I had just given birth to a beautiful and healthy baby, had an amazing man by my side, and had nothing to be unhappy about! I only went to the doctors as I had separation anxiety when Dexter and I were apart and was I hugely self-conscious about it.

Since that day, things got progressively more difficult in our home. I found myself analysing my relationships even more; with both Dexter and Craig. I was so consumed with parenting, poor Craig didn’t get too much of a look-in. A typical day would involve Craig going to work, returning home and cooking dinner with Dex, whilst I had some hands-free time. We’d eat in silence as the television was on, bath Dex, feed him, and settle him down. With all the practical bits of running a home, Craig and I would rarely get any quality time together. I’d go to bed first, and would often be asleep by the time Craig finished up downstairs.

It’s always been in the back of my mind that Craig and I need more ‘alone’ time – but until this weekend I just couldn’t seem to put it right. We’d just got so used to our routines. I was constantly tired and our little bundle of joy just seemed to need me more than Craig did.

The by-product of all this obsessing meant it got to the point where all our conversations were about Dexter and we rarely laughed together or had a kiss and a cuddle. I mistakenly thought that Dexter was the centre of our world and that it would be our achievements as parents that would make us stronger as a couple. I wouldn’t go so far as to say Craig and I were ever in danger of falling out of love with each other – I just lost track of what was important.

Reading Festival – 2011 – Life before Dexter

The realisation came for me when we watched American Pie: The Reunion this weekend. Craig got home on the Friday with a bottle of wine and a dine-in-for-two type affair. I was bored of I’m a Celebrity (shock – horror!) and was fed up of staring at the laptop, so suggested we pop on the latest offering from Lovefilm.

The film wasn’t great. It was typical American Pie humour; cringeworthy and ridiculous. But ironically there was something I could actually relate to this time round. Michele and Jim had had a baby and were struggling to make ‘time’ for each other. This was the overrunning theme the whole way through – at first it was their son that got in the way, then their friends; they were both out of sync and concerned about the impact on their relationship.

It wasn’t lost on me that Craig kept glancing at me. He’s tried to talk to me about it before but I’ve always quickly changed the subject. I must admit that there are parallels between their relationship and ours – but (for me) these aren’t the obvious ones. What struck me most was what worked about their relationship are the same things that work in ours. The reason Craig and I got together in the first place was because we were able to make each other laugh. Somehow, along the way, I’d forgotten this – but Craig hasn’t and he’s been missing me.

So many times we’ve discussed how “We’ve changed” as a result of having Dexter. We’ve quite rightly “grown up” and have new “responsibilities” – all the old clichés. I think I took this a million steps too far though and fell into the trap of thinking Craig would be impressed if I was the ‘perfect parent’ and would love me more for it. What I’ve realised is that being a good parent is one thing, but it’s also important to be a good girlfriend. Both need equal amounts of my energy and time.

I always found it a little strange that some mothers blog so candidly about their experience with postnatal depression and their relationships. I couldn’t stand the thought of Dexter ever reading that I was sad, or that his mummy ever ‘struggled’. I grew up in a household blighted by my own mothers depression, and desperately didn’t want Dexter to experience the same thing. My friends and family also read this blog and I honestly believe that some things should remain private. So what’s changed now?

This blog is all about our family; Craig and I are just as much protagonists as Dexter is! I’m just as likely to feel compelled to write about Dexter’s little achievements as I am about ours. This week I smashed the hell out of PND – and that’s a pretty big deal.

I just feel differently about depression now. It doesn’t define me and it’s not like I’ve done something wrong. PND is simply a result of my post-baby hormones and isn’t any more than that. I’m not going to give it anymore thought or attention – I’ve got more important things to do with my life – like play with Dex and Craig.

I don’t have to worry that Dexter won’t understand why I’ve decided to write this post. All he’ll know is that he has a fun-filled house with a mummy and daddy who are human and do their best. There’ll be plenty of stories behind our success as a family – this is simply one of them.

Dear Santa… (a.k.a Craig)

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I’m sat here racking my brains to come up with a reason why I deserve a present this year. I’ve done some terrible things and it suddenly occured to me that you might decide to buy me a tea towel (or something equally hideous) as punishment. I read somewhere once that Santa still considers dropping by if you get in quick and say sorry – so here we go…

I’m sorry that I…

  • Demand absolute silence during Downton Abbey & the Young Apprentice (as the BBC has no breaks and I can’t concentrate for extended periods)
  • (Occassionally) fake the odd headache to get to bed early / avoid dealing with Dexter when he’s stroppy
  • Always steal the last Muller Fruit Corner when your back’s turned
  • Smirk when Manchester United lose at football
  • Made you buy an exercise bike and haven’t used it once
  • (Often) use your last razor blade to shave my legs
  • Sneak the heating on full when you’ve expressly told me not to
  • (Often) made myself ‘busy’ after dinner to get out of the washing up
  • Pretended for months the vacuum cleaner didn’t cater for left-handed people to get out of the hoovering

And that’s just crimes against you!

As you know, I’ve also accidentally stolen some Soya tablets and a bottle of Cilit Bang from Tescos as my coat was positioned so that I couldn’t see it in the trolley. Then there’s the bottle brush from MAM we accidentally pinched from the BabyShow as we both thought the other one had paid for it! I noticed both these crimes before we left the car park’s and didn’t go back to re-correct my mistakes.

So really, all things considered, you could say I don’t deserve a present. You could even shop me to the police!

But if can look past all the above – and can stand the thought of sharing your bed with Reading’s version of Bonnie for another year…

I’d reeeeaaaaallllyyyy like one of these…

As you’re not the sharpest when it comes to computers, you need to click on the image. This will take you through to the Dinky Fingerprint Company – or you can just click here.

Now I know you like to have researched every purchase you make. You’ll be pleased to know, I’ve done the hard work for you on this one. I’ve checked out rival company’s and this is the one I want. I’m thinking muted browns, ambers or greens rather than Barbie Pink.

Thank you my darling… til next year…
Gemma

Who is the Boss in your house?

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This weekend I skulked around Dexter’s nursery watching my Craig settle Dexter to sleep. I wasn’t spying I was having a ‘mummy moment’ and watching my boys having a cuddle. Dexter was fighting sleep and crying and Craig was soothing him. In response to Dexter’s whinging, Craig joked:

Come on mate. You’re not the boss of this house. There’s only one boss here and that’s mummy. She’s makes all the decisions, then it’s daddy’s job to pay for them

I grimaced. I know Craig was joking as he’s so rarely serious. He’s unoffical king of the one-liners and it’s one of the reasons I fell in love with him. But this one made me stop and think. I snuck away and mulled it over. It made me contemplate my role in our household

I really don’t see myself as bossy. I’m independent, strong-minded and occasionally sharp-tongued, but I’m mostly fair. I don’t make most of the decisions either. The truth is both of us are dire at making decisions. If we have to pick a restaurant, excursion or holiday, we both spend more time deciding than enjoying the actual treat. He surely wasn’t referring to this.

But then I glanced over to Dexter’s toy box and it struck me. Most of the the toys in that box, were chosen by me. The ELC sit-me-up cosy I was so insistent upon, but is rarely used; the Lamaze Spin and Explore that I was so convinced Dexter would enjoy. To the side of the sofa is Dexter’s Christmas box – it’s full to the brim with little bargains I’ve spotted online.

Then there’s his nursery. I chose and bought all the bedding and decorations without even consulting Craig. Even the canvasses on the wall. I bought them, chose the pictures, and hung them when Craig was at work to surprise him. In fact, I seem to have had a hand in every design / purchase decision in this house.

I’m not saying I buy everything – Far from it! Craig manages our household bills and keeps a roof over our head. He’s the only one with an Amazon account (which is probably a good thing) and I’m constantly sending him links of things to buy. He’s also forever running out in the van to collect something I’ve purchased locally from eBaby. If it’s a ‘big’purchase (furniture etc), we always sit down and talk about it – but the final choice is usually mine.

I will admit to being a ‘marketer’s dream’. I’m known to read magazines and put post it’s on pages with sites to check out, things to buy, and inspiration. Similarly, If I see anything innovative that appears to solve a parenting problem, I have to have it. Having said that I usually pay for these things myself so Craig doesn’t know a thing about it until it’s in the cupboard / toybox. I’m not a spendaholic though as I’m also quite disciplined. I have a ‘wish list’ of things I’m coveting but can’t afford. I know one day I’ll get them. It’s just a case of prioritising and waiting for the January sales. To be honest – with all the fantastic discount codes around, I can’t remember the last time I paid the full price for anything!

So I guess you could say, I am a boss of sorts. Far from being sad about this realisation. I’m actually quite comforted by it. Craig’s little quip is actually quite ‘telling’. He sees me as homemaker and avid parent ‘researcher’. He trusts my decisions and is happy to make the expensive ones happen financially. I’d go so far as to say that Craig enjoys providing us with things when budget allows. He is also a nurturing and loving daddy. If I’ve suggested a toy that claims to “promote motor skills and hand / eye coordination”, he won’t question it, we’ll buy it and both get on our hands and knees on the floor to help Dexter get the most out if it.

I don’t often think too deeply about my role in the home. I tend to just get on with it. Craig’s role is much more defined and structured – he’s the glue that keeps us all together. If he likes to see me as the boss, I don’t feel that’s a bad thing. All in all – we are quite the team.

Why we love Sundays!

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With daddy home, we get to dress up and mess about with the camera! I bought this cute little hat weeks ago and couldn’t wait to shoot you in it.

We get to do bits and pieces in your room too. Daddy is nice and tall so can help me pin up decorations. I’ve wanted to put up this heart garland from Butterflies and Ballerinas for months and months but I’m a tiddly 5ft 4 and couldn’t reach far enough up the nursery wall. We also had some bunting to put up. Your room is now my favourite in the house and I love being in there.

Sunday is also Fun-day, we can get messy and paint knowing that daddy will be on hand with baby wipes when we’ve finished! I’ve been meaning to do your paw prints for ages but suspected you’d furl up and we wouldn’t get a print out of you. This was definitely a three person job and I’m glad we managed it before your 6 month birthday on Friday. We’ve decided to do these every 6 months now so we can see how much you’ve grown.

Finally – I get to wrap up Christmas presents – my favourite way to relax. Yes, it’s early November and I’m nearly done!

Dear Dexter

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Dear Dexter,

Well you’re now 5 months old which simply doesn’t seem possible! Although it seems only yesterday I was rocking you to sleep in the hospital, you’ve transformed our lives so much we just can’t remember what life was like before you were in it. Despite this, mummy and daddy stll joke that it feels like we’re on borrowed-time and are just looking after you until someone comes to take you back! We’re just so overwhelmed with pride and love for you that we struggle to put our feelings into words.

This has definitely been an exciting month for mummy and daddy as you’re so much more active! We’ve now regulated Lottie (your activity mat) to your toy chest as you seemed to be signing that you’re ready for something new. So this month you’ve road-tested some ‘big boy’ toys and have begun spending time in Ermintrude (your sit-me-up cosy as renamed by daddy), and have much more tummy-time.

You continue to love gazing at yourself in the mirror and you’re responding more to squeaks and music from your toys. Our favourite thing to do is place a favourite toy slightly out of your reach, flip you on your tummy, and encourage you to stretch out and reach it. We’re not convinced you’ll be crawling by the end of the month but we’re getting there!

Image courtesy of Tegan Suzanne Photography

You continue to be the most beautiful baby mummy and daddy have ever seen. You are beginning to recognise us more now and we know you are always pleased to see us as you reserve your bestest smiles just for us. The funniest ones are when you first wake and we scoop you up for a cuddle, and when you’ve achieved something new and mummy and daddy clap to reward you. Those smiles are so wonderful as they’re almost half excitement / half bewilderment – as though you can’t understand what all the fuss is about.

Image courtesy of Tegan Suzanne Photography

As you rarely cry, people are always commenting how well-behaved you are, and mummy can not help but feel proud. You’re a wonderfully social baby and are happy to be fussed over by complete strangers. You seem to take every new experience in your stride and it’s comforting to know you trust mummy so implicitly.

We’ve had the odd night where you’ll wake in the night. This is pretty out of character for you so you’ve caught us unprepared. In our bleary-eyed state we initially made the mistake of bringing out the “big guns” at 2am; bottles, cuddles and popping you in the bed next to us. Although these tricks are undoubtably successful, they seem to take much longer in the middle of the night! It’s pretty clear however that mummy and daddy are too fidgety to embrace co-sleeping. I’ve often woken in the night with pins and needles only find you’ve fallen asleep in my arms. I’ll also worry continually about daddy rolling onto you as he isn’t aware you are next to him. In any case, the very act of picking you up, rocking, or feeding you also just serves to wake you up even more, which isn’t the desired goal in the dead of the night!

Image courtesy of Tegan Suzanne Photography

Finally, mummy has been deep in conversation with Father Christmas this week and he’s sent some amazing things through the post. It’s been very tough resisting the urge to give you your new toys straight away. I simply can’t wait to see your little face on Christmas morning when you rip open the paper and see what you’ve got xx

All in all it’s very exciting and we can’t wait to see what next month has in store.

Love Mummy and Daddy xx
NOTE: These stunning shots of Dexter were taken by Tegan of Tegan Suzanne Photography. If you’d like to know more about her packages, you can like her on FB here