Tag Archives: Family

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.

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Scrap Parent and Child Parking

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Before Dexter came into our lives, we were pretty ambivalent about parent and child parking. It seemed like a ploy by supermarkets to engender loyalty from high-spending parents. Parents with small people could park closer to the door, and get an extra wide spot – it was almost like getting a flight upgrade to Business Class. Even the disabled spots weren’t as glamorous!

They seemed unnecessary but a little bit cool – like the Tesco’s and Sainsbury’s of this world were so desperate to win the family vote, they were prepared to blatantly prioritise the needs of family shoppers. I remember thinking, If parents are getting such star treatment in the car park, maybe they would be other perks inside! Maybe parents got extra Clubcard points, more money off vouchers, or maybe special ‘check-out’ passes to avoid the queues. It was a nice thought when I was hauling my pregnant belly around Tesco earlier this year.

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When we got pregnant, Craig and I used to joke that this Holy Grail of supermarket parking was imminent – we’d soon be able to park up, spend ‘far too long’ getting our baby out of the car (just to gloat in front of the non-parents), and then casually stroll the 10m to the front door. It would finally be our turn to join the ‘club’ and enjoy these new privileges.

The problem is, we’ve only managed to park in these exclusive spaces a handful of times. Dexter is now 28 weeks, we shop every week at Tesco, and I’d estimate we’ve only managed to snag one of these spots 10 times. The problem isn’t that there are too few spaces, the problem is that these spaces are so often occupied by those who don’t fit the brief. Some of this is pure ignorance, some of it is nothing short of good old Machiavellianism, either way – all culprits will fit into one of these 4 categories

  1. The Pretender’s – these are parents who may well have a child that qualifies for the spot. They have all the paraphernalia (car seat, window blinds, baby-on-board stickers) yet the child hasn’t made the trip. The child is safely at home watching CBeebies, at the swimming pool or doing arts and crafts with parent 1 whilst parent 2 gets the weekly shop done.
  2. The Hanger On’s – this strange breed of parent still see their aged 13+ children as their babies. These are the parents who refuse to remove the Winnie the Pooh stickers from their teenagers room. They’ll still use the phrase ‘she’s gone to play at a friend’s house’ – in complete denial of the fact their little princess is escaping mum and dad to try on make-up and post provocative pictures of herself to Facebook. Their flat-out refusal to do away with the booster seat from their car, means that they operate under the misguided assumption they ‘need’ a parent and child parking space. They’re easy to spot as they have people carriers despite only having  2 or fewer children.
  3. The Activists – They are the Equality Champions. They will donate to the RSPCA and have those awful little signs in their toilets saying “If it’s yellow, let it mellow; If it’s brown flush it down”. I still have a teeny bit of respect for these fellow ranter’s as at least they aren’t duplicitous – they’ll have an indignant air about them and are utterly shameless about their actions. They’ll have a pre-prepared script if they’re challenged and will surprise you with some fairly valid points – they’re best avoided at all costs as arguing with them will be noisy and time-consuming.
  4. The Chancer’s – these idiots need no introduction. They are the prats that we all love to hate. They’re only ever ‘popping in’ to get some cigarettes or a sandwich deal, and avoid eye contact with everyone as they know they’re in the wrong. Annoyingly it’s a type of ignorance that can pervade any age, class or sex so it’s a widespread problem that supermarkets and parents are powerless to contest. They’re the type of people who shuffle and bolster their newspaper on the tube in an attempt to fend off pregnant or disabled people who may (or may not be) petitioning for their seat. They are wholly incapable of empathy for others.

All of the above get on my wick. They’re all equally to blame for denying me my space. It makes me mad to see fellow parents resort to acrobatics in a bid to extract their child from their cars without scratching the door of the neighbouring car. The truth is that getting your child ‘out’ of the car is only half the story. When you’ve finished your shopping you can guarantee that the car next to you has been replaced with a bigger, even more intimately parked motor.

The supermarkets refuse to challenge their customers so are equally to blame in my opinion. They’re so concerned about profits they’d be delighted to see people stampede over one another to do their weekly shop in their store. It’s left to parents themselves to try to defend these parking spaces from illegitimate advances. Yes, with our young impressionable children in the backseat we’re supposed to have a swear-free and polite exchange with these contemptible idiots. For those of us brave enough to have a go, we try to frame our arguments as follows even though we are seething with rage:

“Hi there. Sorry, I couldn’t help but notice you don’t have a little one with you. These spaces are wider you see. They’re meant for getting car seats / lifting kiddies out of the car. Would you mind if we parked there instead as we have our son with us”

In reality – we turn into childish morons shouting out the car window – “WHERE’S YOUR KID THEN?” – then duck down and quickly park our shit-heap a mile from the door to avoid any repercussions.

To my mind it would be better all round if these spaces had never come into being! The struggle of parents to free their child from his / her car seat would just be another weekly challenge. It’s almost as though the supermarkets have done a ‘half job’; given parents a solution then failed to ensure its availability. I’d rather see them gone altogether than watch another Chancer nick my spot and send me into a murderous rage right before the chaos that is Christmas shopping.Yes, parent and child parking has turned us parents into feuding, angry and stressed shoppers. Get rid of them and restore a bit of harmony to our car parks please.

Cousin Sky’s Birthday!

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We had lots of fun at Cousin Sky’s 5th birthday party on Saturday. It was a princess and pirate theme but unfortunately Mummy and Daddy forgot and you went as… well Dexter.

There was a big hall with a disco and all your family were there. The DJ doubled up as an entertainer, puppet master and magician…

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Cousin Lenny seemed to really enjoy the magic tricks! The funniest thing by far though was watching the older kids start their heckling careers – “I know how you do that one”, “Are you really a magician or do you just lie?” – I was in fits taking the photographs.

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We even had a guest appearance from Philip Schofield! Okay, okay – it’s only Grandad but they do look like each other!

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You tried cucumber for the first time! You had a tiny chew and we were still fishing out little chunks of it an hour later. I’m not sure you were that impressed…

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Bella is really growing now and you both had lots of cuddles from all the family. You’ve both got teeth now – Bella has one, and you have two!

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You stayed awake for the whole party with minimal tears despite your teething. You had a few dances with mummy and were brilliantly behaved.

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Unfortunately it was all too much fun for some of us and Bella crashed on her Daddy before the day was through… awww!

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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.

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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.

Teething…

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Last weekend my Dad and his wife came to visit. Dexter was largely distracted from his teething as he loves an audience and always gets lots of fuss from Nanny and Grandad.

Dexter was most impressed with Grandad’s glasses and poor Grandad had to hide them for fear of them breaking / disappearing into Dexter’s cavernous mouth. Due to his teething, Dexter has an obsession with mouths at the moment – we constantly have our hands in his, and he seems fascinated by ours. Grandad was no exception and in went the little fingers!

When the fun was over and Nanny and Grandad went home, the tears took ahold and Dexter had a rare moment where he struggled with the pain in his gums. He didn’t settle in bed as he usually does and we had to dish out plenty of cuddles to soothe him.

In fairness Dexter is great with pain. He rarely cries and is very easily distracted. I think we’ve had a harder time with his teething than he has! It’s hard to see him constantly biting his fingers and chewing everything in sight. I just can’t get my head around our comparatively ‘easy’ experience when I’m constantly reading horror stories from other mummy’s.

Of course I’ve been on the watch-out for bad nappies and temperatures but we seem to have been spared the worst of this. Yes, there’s been light symptoms, but he’s mostly smiley and seems more intrigued than unhappy.

As overzealous parents, we’ve stocked up on all the usual bits. Bonjela and Calpol, teething toys (I’ve mentioned his Brush-Baby and he also has a gel hand that lives in the fridge in case he needs it) but he seems most contented by a bottle or sucking on his own fingers. Recently though, we’ve been questioning our reliance on medicating with milk as it means an extra 180ml a day (over and above the recommended 600ml). It just seemed to be the only thing that offered any real relief.

Earlier this week – I mentioned the problem on Dexter’s Facebook page and Life With Liv posted something hugely helpful. She suggested to try frozen banana – something we’d never have thought of.

Liv’s (teeth) took ages to come through too, we used a Teething-Bling necklace and bangle, and Tommee Tippee have these teethers that look like a gum shield (you can put your teething gel on it for them to chew on). We also froze banana and put it in Nuby net feeders and also Nelsons teething powder. The main thing is getting him to bite on plenty of things. They really do suffer :( x

This advice has been utter genius. Dexie loves banana and the cold serves to numb the pain perfectly. He screws up his little face when you first pop it in but he quickly starts gumming it when he realises how tasty it is. We’re really grateful for such brilliant advice as it’s certainly helped so far.

I’m under no illusion it’ll get worse as his back ones come through – especially as his grip hasn’t developed yet and he can’t quite get a handle on all the gadgets and gizmos we’ve bought for him to chew on. But right now, I’m pretty proud of my Little Soldier.

Loving my little family

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What did I ever do to deserve such an amazing family?

We’ve had a rough time of it in the Mills household. I’ve taken the tough decision to go back on maternity leave. Despite a promising showdown with my mother in hospital, she’s now rediscovered her demons and is ill again. As I’m fearing the worst, I’ve chosen to spend a bit more time with her. Craig has therefore had to forsake his daddy-time and go back to work full-time. It’s taken a lot of late-night chats and tears to get to this point but it’s now decided and I’m with Dexie until February.

Craig allergies also took hold this week and he came down with a full-blown chest infection. He’s a Man so doesn’t complain but I forced him to go to the out-of-hours surgery on Saturday after listening to him struggle to breathe throughout the night. The problem: Billy. I’ve tried to ignore it since Craig and I started living together but it clearly couldn’t go on any longer. Billy the cat is my best friend. I’ve had him for 6 years and he’s been through various house-moves and failed relationships with me. We’ve been inseparable since I got him and I’m gutted that he and Craig can’t live together. But Craig is desperately allergic to Billy and I simply can’t jeopardise his health any longer.

Missing my hairy son Billy

So Billy was re-homed yesterday. He’s gone to live with his Nan and Granddad about 10 minutes down the road. I’m gutted but pleased I’ll still get to see him regularly. He’s well used to staying around Nanny’s house as she’s had him over when Craig and I have taken weekends away. I know he’ll be more than happy there but I still miss tripping over him on the stairs, him meowing at me for a second breakfast because he thinks I’m oblivious to the fact that Craig has already fed him, him chasing dust around the lounge… He’s such a little legend there were no shortage of ‘takers’.

So Craig can finally get some respite. The doctor says he has a chest infection. His chest is really quite weak from years of smoking in his childhood. He gave up years ago but the damage was irreparable and the slightest cold sends him wheezing and brings on his asthma. inevitably, with all the sneezing, I’ve now got it. Luckily, I’m still covered by a flu jab during my pregnancy and tend to fight off illnesses easily. But poor Dexie is, as yet, untested.

He started displaying signs of a cold last night. He sounded a little bit like Darth Vader and was coughing a fair bit. Then the sneezing set in and we began to worry. Dosed with Calpol, and saline drops we put him to bed with a Karvol tissue buried in his teddies. He didn’t complain once and went to sleep. I was up with him again at 3am as he started crying and wrestling with his blanket. As the heating wasn’t on and this house gets chilly downstairs in the night, I changed him in his room then told him I’d be back with things ‘to make him feel better’. I’m not naive and know he doesn’t understand me, but he patiently waited for me to return with a warm bottle and more Calpol. He was so quiet I thought perhaps he had gone back to sleep, but no, he was watching the door waiting for me to return and smiled when I approached his cot.

I administered his meds and he was quiet and seemingly grateful. He snatched his bottle from my hands and fed himself as if to say “I’m okay mum, stop fussing”. I went back to bed when he’d finished and left him coo’ing at his toys. The plan was to let him tire himself out so he would fall asleep naturally. Unfortunately he cried again within 15 mins. I gave him a big cuddle and popped him in bed with us and fell asleep within seconds. The whole night-time saga lasted 3 hours which seems like a lifetime at that time in the morning. It’s also completely out of character given he usually sleeps right through. Having said that, it was an absolute pleasure looking after him as he was such a brave little man. We’re very in-tune with each other now and I feel really confident that I can trust my mummy instincts to help him through the difficult times.

I’m definitely feeling very grateful this week. My employers were very sympathetic and understanding, Craig continues to surprise me with his undying support, love, and resilience, and Dexter is the most perfect baby I could ever have wished for. Given I have thrown more than my fair share of tantrums this week, I’m really in awe of my little family and dedicate this post to them.

Getting ready for Halloween! (Review: Tamara Small and the Monsters’ Ball, & The Fearsome Beastie)

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Well we’re in our new home! The move hasn’t gone well at all if I’m honest and we’re locked in disputes with our former letting agency over the release of the deposit. As much as I love our new house, we have a lot to do in terms of buying new furniture and making it a ‘home’. Couple this with a return-to-work and a deterioration in mum’s health (she had 6 epileptic fits on Saturday – being disabled (from a stroke) she’s sustained some quite horrific injuries that have left her bed-bound) – I’ve been feeling overwhelmed with it all and, if I’m honest, a bit depressed. The truth is, something will have to give.

With all this going on – Dexie and I haven’t managed any solid quality time. By the time I get home from work, he’s ready for a bottle, bath, then bed! Luckily my work have been fabulous and offered me a phased return-to-work rather than working a full 5 days for the first few weeks. I’m hugely grateful as I have definitely overdone it this month. So today, it’s all about Dexter and having fun.

With Halloween coming up, I decided to do a themed day. We’re dressed up; Dexie is a Pumpkin courtesy of Tescos, and I have no make-up on! And we’ve been on some scary adventures thanks to the supremely talented Giles Paley-Phillips.

We’ve kindly been sent two books Tamara Small and the Monsters’ Ball, and The Fearsome Beastie (winner of the People’s book prize). It’s so important to us that Dexie grows up loving books. I was a massive reader growing up. My mum still raves on about how proud she was that I was reading before I went to school. Unfortunately mum is so ill now, it’s so difficult telling truth from fiction but I believe her about this one. I have a hazy memory of the entire house being labelled up so we learnt that every room, piece of furniture and toy had a ‘name’. I doubt I’ll be this over-the-top with Dex but we’ll always read to him.

These books are the best I’ve seen for tiny people. The entire page is illustrated so there’s plenty to feast your eyes on. Tamara Small and the Monsters’ Ball is great fun. Poor Tamara is snatched away in the night by a monster and whisked to a ball with friendly goblins, ghosts, ghouls, witches and bats. There’s dancing and delights and Tamara is even welcomed into the fold with a slime cake! As you’d expect, all ends well as the witches cast a spell to return her home to her bed. I’ve seen a fab review of this book over on Missing Sleep that suggests that her 3 and 5 year olds discovered a new-found appreciation for things that go bump in the night. How fabulous is that for Halloween preparation!?

The Fearsome Beastie is about a huge monster that tricks some brothers and sisters into playing with him by crying outside their window. Having gained their trust he gobbles up all but one child who rushes to his nana for help. His wise old gran rushes out with an axe to slay the monster and release the children from his belly. Thanks to the bravery of nanny, each child comes “running out of Beastie’s tummy… each one crying for their mummy”. With disaster averted, nana then brews up a monster stew!

These books are a massive hit here at Chez Mill’s as each page is a set of witty rhyming couplets. Daddy is a champion story-teller and can make the phone book sound fun and exciting with an array of accents and embellishments. I, on the other hand, am terrible. Giles Paley-Phillips’ style is so engaging even I am able to keep Dexter interested. I’ve also left the book open the floor next to his playmat on some of the colourful pages. Dexter will chat to himself and study the monsters quietly – grabbing at the book.

With Dexter growing up and sleeping through the night – it’s getting harder and harder to entertain him throughout the day. Thanks to Paley-Phillips I now have another tool in my armoury to keep Dexter happy. Rather than let your babies gorge on sweets this Halloween, this is surely the better bet.

Giles Paley-Phillips blogs here about his writing, upcoming book signings, and about prizes he has been awarded. You can buy Tamara Small and the Monsters’ Ball from Amazon for just £6.29, and The Fearsome Beastie for just £4.49.

DISCLAIMER: I was sent copies of both books from GPP PR & Marketing but all the words and opinions in this post are my own. I have not received any payment for this post, nor had any communication with any other mentioned retailers.