Food, Not so Glorious Food…

I hope everyone has had a wonderful, relaxing Christmas.

The Greenhouse festivities were quiet, but great as always & it was so lovely to have Tim’s other children Chloe & Josh with us, along with his Mum & Grandad (who is 93 years young!) sharing Benjamin’s first Christmas with us. I do love cooking the traditional turkey dinner, helped along with a good few glasses of Bucks Fizz of course. I think the best parts for me this year included watching the children all play together & seeing the genuine love they all have for each other, even though they’d never admit it. This was closely followed by Tim giving me a rare afternoon power nap: he took care of our guests & the children (even changed a nappy!) & shock horror, LOADED THE DISHWASHER! This is unheard of in our 1950s-esque household; I wasn’t entirely sure that he knew of the appliance’s location, let alone its use. Anyway, despite my mocking, I am genuinely grateful to my brilliant & kind-hearted husband.

I know it’s been a little while since I last blogged: we’ve been working on something big, specifically introducing Benjamin to solid food. I’m not really sure what I thought weaning would entail if being completely honest. I guess had visions of him sitting beautifully in his highchair, donning a pristine bib & staying immaculately clean, lots of smiles & him devouring anything I offered him. Hmmm…ahh, those rose-tinted glasses of mine strike again, just as they did with bath times in the early days. So it started a few weeks ago now, with the most British of dishes: mashed potato. Well I say mashed potato, but it resembled nothing like my usual go-to comfort dish. I excitedly read my new Ella’s Kitchen ‘baby weaning bible’ for how to prepare baby-stylie…“Reserve some of the cooking water to help with the mashing process.” Blurgh, no milk & butter?! I also didn’t realise how ill prepared I was for this whole feeding malarkey. I quickly improvised on a bowl; dusting off a heart-shaped ramekin from a Valentine’s meal a few years ago, dug out my free Bounty Pack Petits Filous spoon & started to frantically blow on the Maris Piper. Benjamin had no clue as to his role in this unfamiliar situation & I found myself pretending to joyfully chomp on the insipid mush, I mean mash. He wasn’t having any of it & this has continued to be our lunchtime ritual ever since: Benjamin happily lets me put on his bib in his highchair, humours me during the “Chugga, chugga, choo, choo” phase, even lets me put the veg in his mouth, gives the impression that he might be chewing, then pop! Out comes the regurgitated food, complete with dramatic retching sound just for added effect; which in turn sets off my gag-reflex & there we are fake-vomming at the kitchen table together. Joy. I’m genuinely terrified that the boy will never eat: instead opting for his trusty “Bot Bot,” while all his mates are downing pints & scoffing packets of crisps.

And so, what goes in must come out. Even though I originally thought that NOTHING was going in, I was seriously mistaken. I think our most eventful day was after a couple of spoonfuls of crushed avocado, which resulted in seven dirty nappies within 24 hours. SEVEN. The last episode conveniently happened just before I was going to bed myself: the now familiar deep gurgling of his belly, then whoooosh…you have seconds to decide whether to change immediately, or leave a moment or two longer, for the process to completely finish: running the risk of the fibrous & often luminous, nappy contents to soak into his clothes, or worst still, his Grobag &/or bed linen. How can anyone poo upwards for goodness sake?! Just how? Anyway, on this occasion, I went in quickly like a Nappy Ninja: tiptoed, gave no eye contact, no chat. Changed in situ of the boy’s crib, then quickly whispered ‘goodnight’ to Alexa & we were plunged into darkness once again. Benjamin promptly resumed his slumbers & I felt epic, albeit exhausted from the six other ghastly whole outfit changes previously. He on the other hand was still smiling & remarkably upbeat during the cleanup. If I’d pooped that many times in 24 hours I’d be done in, laying in bed feeling very sorry for myself with a hot water bottle on my tummy & glass of Lucozade in hand. (I swear the medicinal value is just not the same since they did away with the glass bottles & orange foil-covered lids.)

I’ve come to the conclusion that my benchmark of deciding whether I’ll scrub & soak starts at ‘an M&S’. Any supermarket labels, white items or even Next outfits are sadly often fated for the wheelie bin. Dear World, I can only apologise. If it has a cool or funky pattern I may consider donning the marigolds. Even then, after much vigorous scrubbing (with ‘Vanish Large Area Carpet Cleaner’, because I stupidly picked up the wrong pink bottle!) more often than not, things are never quite the same as they once were. A faded patch of yellow or green still sometimes lingers in certain lights, even though it was tackled immediately & left to soak for a good half an hour before going in the machine. Although, my silly product mistake is actually one of the best clothes stain removers I’ve ever purchased! And to think I was the woman who, whilst pregnant swore blind that I would only change a nappy with a gloved hand, ha! How naive was I?

Back in June I had high-hopes that by Christmas, Benjamin would be sat with us at the dinner table, eating virtually the same meal & enjoying it. But yet again, my optimistic expectation & reality were totally off. To be fair, he did sit nicely in his highchair & was as sociable as ever, but eating, no, I wasn’t even going to attempt it. Call me a coward, but I just couldn’t face the whole sorry charade & the inevitable aftermath, not on Christmas night. Something to tackle in January methinks. I never would have thought in a million years that one of my new year’s resolutions would be to establish my son’s eating routine. But it’s got to be one of my best ones yet. There will be others, but this is top of my list so far.

So I guess all that’s left to say is that; I wish everyone a happy, healthy & memory-filled 2019.

 

 

The Christmas Tree is up…so I should really be feeling festive now, right?

Usually I would have had our tree up for a few days by now, but this year I’ve been putting it off. I wasn’t sure why. Yes, I’ve got lots of things going on at the moment that I wish I didn’t, but with it being Benjamin’s first Christmas, I thought I might be a little more keen to ‘get into the spirit.’ This morning I finally bit the bullet & asked Tim to get the decs down from the loft. I make it sound like this is a straightforward, simple process, but every year it turns into an epic operation & we usually end up having an argument. This year was no exception. Long story, but basically we need a proper loft ladder. Any way, Tim went to work in a mood with me & I frantically began dusting, Dysoning & putting the tree together: not an easy task when you have a wriggly six-month-old monkey to entertain, but I did it, eventually. It made previous years seem like a walk in the park! I’d made a conscious decision that I was not going to use the same vintage theme as I have in the previous few years. I had loved finding the decorations of my childhood when sorting through my parents’ house a couple of years ago. They had served as a wonderful reminiscence of Christmases gone by; of decorating the 70s tinsel tree from Woollies (then real ones later on; when I managed to convince Dad that he’d well & truly got his money’s worth from the 20 year old artificial one, which had definitely seen better days), of watching Dad meticulously pin the crepe paper streamers to the beams in the lounge, & also remembering my wonderful Mum, who mysteriously always kept out of the way whilst we decorated, but helpfully told me if I’d neglected to decorate a particular area of the tree, just after I thought I’d finished. It used to make me so mad at the time, but I’d give anything to hear her say, “Lucy, you’ve missed a bit!” these days. I needed these memories after Mum passed away. I still do, but I also want to create new ones for Benjamin. So this year I went ‘modern traditional’ (if that’s even a thing?!) with red & gold ornaments with warm clear lights. We’d bought some little red jingle bells yesterday just to mix things up a bit & I thought I’d be ready to cheerfully decorate with my son quietly watching on. Unfortunately, I’d stupidly forgotten that to get to my newer baubles, I’d have to wade through the old ones first; along with the years of handwritten cards that I’d carefully kept from Mum & those from my best friend Claire, who also tragically passed away five years ago. Everything came flooding back & I guess with my heightened hormones, combined with seeing my beautiful baby on his play mat; whom I never thought I would have, made me crack. Then, not wanting to feel left out, my own personal little ‘emotional barometer’ felt he should join the party as well. So there we were, sat on the floor of our lounge surrounded by boxes, both sobbing: although he had no concept of why, except that his Mumma seemed totes emosh, so perhaps he ought to be too. And then I realised that Christmas, well specifically when I put up our tree, is the only time when I deliberately think about the year gone by, the good & the bad, what we’ve all achieved & wishes for the following year. Then this made me also realise that Tim was my Christmas Wish for a couple of years & Benjamin was another Christmas Wish for quite a few years: soon after Tim & I began our relationship.

So I guess, right there, in that moment of my complete sadness, it made me see what a truly powerful time this part of year actually is & that wonderful miracles really do happen. So yes, I guess after a very emotional day, I do feel a little more festive now!

I really hope that The Universe hears all of your Christmas Wishes this year & that you have a magical time with your family & friends. Merry Christmas everyone xx

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6 Things I’ve learned in the six months of being a Mumma…

Ok, these are probably not ground-breaking observations by any stretch, but I thought as my beautiful, inquisitive, very chatty & (mainly) happy Benjamin Bunny turned 6 months old today, I thought I’d share just six of the things I’ve learned on my motherhood journey so far…

* 4am on a summer’s morning is actually a beautiful, peaceful & magical time, even with a very hungry, vocal baby. You can feel the energy of the day ahead. Although thank goodness he doesn’t wake until 7am now it’s winter!

* Although the days can sometimes feel long, the months go by incredibly quickly. Blink & you really do miss them. I didn’t believe this when I was told this so many times during my pregnancy, but it’s true.

* Always trust your own instincts, but listen to advice from lots of different people & make the best, most informed decision.

* Priorities change. Even on rubbish days, make time for laughter. Then just before you go to bed & see your peacefully sleeping baby, you know that nothing is quite as bad as it first seemed.

* Bath time is just the best time. Even splashing is fun & it ‘helpfully’ doubles up as a great time to clean the bathroom floor. Every. Single. Night.

* Digestion is highly over-rated: as is hot coffee *sigh*

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He absolutely adores his little green helicopter!

Old friends & new ‘Mummy’ friends: because chatting over a coffee is cheaper than a therapist…

I’m good at being on my own, I always have been. Growing up as an only child in a small village: I needed to enjoy my own company & for the most part, I did. Don’t get me wrong, I had friends & I did see them regularly, but I didn’t rely upon them. As clichéd as it sounds, my Mum was my best friend & I was more than happy with that. Now, as I’m older, married & have very sadly lost my wonderful Mum, my husband Tim has taken on this role of being my Bestie. Lucky him! I know, more vom-inducing clichés! I love to talk to him about everything really & I’m sure an outsider would think we were absolute nutters if they heard even half of our eclectic topics of conversation. However sometimes, just sometimes, you need another perspective, another point of view, a female take on a situation & that’s when I start messaging ‘my squad’! I hate this expression, almost as much as I hate the term ‘Mummy friends’ if I’m being completely honest. When I was childless, this phrase used to make me physically shudder. I’m not sure why, but probably because it sounded like a secret exclusive club, that at the time, I never thought I would be in.

I was more than happy with the friends I had before Benjamin was born. My small circle was made up of: my oldest, dearest College friend, my fab holiday companion (from an eventful trip to India a few yeas ago) & two of my wonderful previous work colleagues. A couple of them were Mummies already; so I would ask them for advice if Google couldn’t supply the answer I was looking for. I thought no more friends were needed. I didn’t want to have to talk about myself ‘from scratch’ – akin to dating all over again. I was reluctant to attend Antenatal Classes & I remember Tim having to practically force me out the door to go to Baby Groups in the beginning. But as I look back over the last six months, I’ve realised that I have made three more close friends: two of them being much coveted ‘Mummy friends’ & one of them being my super neighbour, whom I never really knew until Benjamin was born. It always makes me smile that, in a crowded room, you can be drawn towards just one or two people & on some level they are drawn towards you – for reasons unknown at the time. This happened with my new pals…

Tim & I were sat in said Antenatal class, learning about breathing techniques, birth plans (lols!), pain relief & breastfeeding guidance with about ten other couples. We were easily in the top three of the eldest parents, no surprise there. After our visualisations, squeezing a knitted boobie & pulling plastic babies out of replica pelvises each week we were starving; so headed straight for the nearest Golden Arches to satisfy my Fillet O’ Fish craving at the time. We weren’t the only ones with the same idea, our new friends Alison & Richard had shared our thoughts. And that’s how we met. We have the same views on the same topics; including parenting values & we have had spookily similar life experiences. They are such easy-going & caring people, we could both listen to them for hours. Maybe our subconscious knew we would make great friends & we’ve stayed in touch ever since & I am sure that we always will. I love it that Benjamin has a little ‘girlfriend’ already in Amelia (he’s not allowed to date anyone else though. Ever.) And I also love the time that we all spend together. You know there’s a strong rapport when conversation is effortless. It can’t be the first friendship to have formed over a shared love of Maccy D’s sweet & sour sauce, surely?!

I met my second new close friend initially at one of the Baby Groups (that Tim had managed to persuade me to go to back in the early days). It was your standard: plastic toys scattered on the floor affair, large beanbags around the edge for the non-mobile babies (where I had positioned a sleeping Benjamin) & lots of cold tea/coffee for the stressed new Mummies who hadn’t slept the night before. Two ladies approached me & after the usual “hello, how old is your little one? Yes, he’s a big lad: his Daddy is 6’2” etc. etc.” I was asked, “Are you Tim Green’s wife?” They were both in the same year as him at school. This isn’t the first time that this has happened to me: it’s a small village & he was clearly a friendly boy?! I’m just praying that I won’t get asked, “Are you Benjamin Green’s Mum?” later on for similar reasons! Anyway, we had a lovely chat together & I thought no more of it. I didn’t go back to the group for a couple of weeks & didn’t ask for names/numbers. Then, one sweltering August morning I decided to take the boy for a walk – quite early because we were experiencing a massive heat wave & keeping Benjamin cool was a constant worry. That’s when I bumped into Claire. Again, we had much in common & we’ve been ‘baby group buddies’ & good friends ever since. I love her quick thinking & sound advice. I also love the little friendship that Albert & Benjamin have struck up already.

My new neighbour friend, Laura, came over one day to pick up a parcel (one of the ‘perks’ of maternity leave, you get to be a mini Post Office) & heard Benjamin grumbling, so we invited her in. He loves her cuddles & fuss (because Mumma & Daddy clearly don’t give him enough attention!) And we all love our new friendship. The four of us: her boyfriend Adam & Tim, have had many a night putting the world to rights over a bottle of bubbles, complete with baby monitor turned up extra loud.

I guess the point of my blog post is that I’ve realised that there is always room for more friends. Each friend has different qualities; different life experiences to draw from & can support you in different ways. I guess I’ve always known this. I’ve needed advice, guidance & reassurance over the last few weeks & I’ve known which friends (old & new) to turn to. They have made themselves available & have kept me sane. Many cuppas have been drunk & I can’t thank them enough, they are all superstars & I hope I can be there for them when they need a listening ear. I also hope I can show Benjamin the importance of friendship, being friendly & ultimately knowing who to trust. Although the latter is incredibly tricky even as an adult.

I can’t wait for Benjamin to grow up with Amelia & Albert. I really hope they form part of his ‘squad’, his ‘go to’ people for sound advice & support, just like their fab Mummies are for me…well who else can he ask which are the tastiest rusks & best spot for his Cow & Gate elevenses?

 

Baby Sensory Class & Other Parallel Universes.

I’ve always loved the idea of sensory play…you know on a non-carpeted floor & preferably not in my own home: Benjamin being able to explore messiness to his heart’s content. I know it provides such wonderful experiences for babies & I’ve tried to create some sensory activities of my own. So imagine my delight when I realised that there are actual, dedicated classes for sensory development! Perfect. I signed Benjamin up as soon as I was able, did a sharp intake of breath when I paid for said classes, but was secretly excited for the boy & hoped it would give me more inspiration for home.

We’ve been going for two months now & I’ve got to say, these have been the most surreal eight weeks of my life & probably Benjamin’s too. We have had the standard bubbles, parachute, balloons & scarves, but sometimes I find myself ‘looking in’ on the situation, thinking ‘what on earth am I doing?’ For example, we were sat at a ‘Teddy Bears’ Picnic’ with plastic teacups, plates & food. Never would I have thought, that at aged 5 months, I’d be encouraging my son to feed his teddy a fake chilli pepper, while humming along to “If You go Down to The Woods Today” & drinking a cup of pretend tea: it’s not like he does this for himself yet. And would this really be his snack of choice whilst on a picnic? Last week, we were given beautiful rainbow Pride flag each & some multi-coloured ribbons on a stick to wave; whilst the babies were placed on a large air mattress covered in luminous fabric, listening to the UK’s 2007 Eurovision entry “Flying The Flag” by Scooch. Benjamin was not impressed; well it’s no “Dr. Jones” by Aqua is it? Anyway, we’ll carry on until Christmas & just hope that it’s having a positive effect on his senses. Well, where else can you chill out on a 70s sheepskin rug, chewing a monkey puppet, holding hands with your best mate, listening to the dulcet tones of Lionel Ritchie on a wet/windy November afternoon?!

This week brought another surreal situation, in the form of a ceramic café. It was a special, pre-Christmas baby event: decorating your own bauble or plate. After our previous home experiences of painting Benjamin’s hands & feet, I was already a little anxious about the whole thing. Last time, as mentioned on Facebook, we were all traumatised & he ended up looking like a diluted Smurf for a good few days afterwards. Anyway, I decided that his friend Albert should go first & we’d watch in preparation; just so the boy would know what to expect. He watched patiently, Albert did as he was asked perfectly & Benjamin giggled at seeing his friend being coated in brown & green paint. Then it was his turn. He didn’t want to play ball particularly. Yes he fluttered his ultra long eyelashes at the lovely ceramicist, he smiled & charmed; all in his usual way, but he was definitely not going to put his foot flat on the plate. It took a few attempts & the lady even washed down the plate, as it resembled more of a messy Brussels sprout than a ‘foot sleigh’. Eventually we got there though. The boys wanted lots of praise for their hard work – it’s such an exhausting task having someone do this for you don’t you know! And then they cried: Benjamin more loudly than Albert. Whilst he was squawking, the very patient lady went on to discuss the other products available & enthusiastically told us about their new ‘Bottom Print Snowman Plate’! (Which I’m hoping was just for the baby event?!) I kid you not. I didn’t even think this was a thing, apart from the fabled photocopying of your bum at an office party (& no I have never done this just for the record!) I couldn’t even imagine the process of trying to capture Benjamin’s derrière, let alone serving food from it. “Great Grandad, do have a delicious mince pie, don’t mind the interesting brown scarf & yellow snow, Benjamin created it all by himself!” Hmmm, yummy. Needless to say, we politely declined.

Overall, it has been a great week for firsts: He has stayed sat up, hands free, all by himself. I’m sure it was to try & impress his girlfriend Amelia, but whatever the incentive, we’re proud of him. He also sat at the table in his highchair, opposite his big sister Chloe whom he adores, watching us all eat our dinner. Although he didn’t join us for the homemade macaroni cheese, I’m sure it won’t be long. And right now, whilst I type, he’s having his first proper tantrum, all because I took his beloved helicopter out of his mouth while he was sleeping. I’m such a mean Mumma! Thank you for reading 🙂