Parenting

#Blogtober2019 – Day 31: Halloween Traditions

Until Laurie was born we didn’t really have any Halloween traditions.

Well, I kind of did, but they were more pre-NaNoWriMo traditions (stopping up late on Halloween so I could start writing at midnight mainly). We’d watch Coraline and The Nightmare Before Christmas. I’d dress up if I was at work. But that was it.

When I was pregnant we bought our first pumpkin to carve and I guess that’s our first proper tradition.

We almost didn’t get to do it this year; the big pumpkin we bought ended up going off before we could carve it. Luckily the spousal unit found a bargain one on clearance today for 50p so the tradition has continued.

At the moment we let Laurie choose what he wants the face on it to look like but in the future we’ll let him draw on it or even handle carving it himself.

We still watched a bunch of family friendly Halloween films. We’ve added another four or five to the collection this year so we’ll be well set for Halloween viewing for the years ahead.

And this year we started a brand new tradition.

Our local Co Op has a Halloween parade around the store. All the kids gather at the entrance then walk up and down the aisles in their costumes.

At the end they get a little gift, a hot dog and the best costume gets a prize.

We first heard about it last year but Laurie was a bit too little to do it. It completely slipped my mind this year, but Laurie came to meet me from work in his Halloween costume and we had to stop at the supermarket on the way home.

On the door was the sign for the Halloween Parade, so we hung around to take part.

Laurie was a little nervous of a boy dressed as a skeleton but he started the parade on foot and led me along the first aisle. He was absolutely thrilled with his Halloween pumpkin

. bucket with some sweets, crisps and (the crowning glory) a fruit shoot!

Neither it, nor the hot dog, survived the journey home. He devoured them! And we’ll definitely plan to do the parade next year too.

It’s so exciting to start these Halloween traditions with him. I can’t wait to see what others we’ll add over the years.

Activities · Blogging · Parenting · The Noodle

#Blogtober2019 – Day 30: Nearly November

November is almost upon us and Blogtober is drawing to a close.

I’ve really enjoyed blogging every day, but I’m looking forward to dropping back to once a week next month. I’ve also found a whole bunch of new blogs to read and I’m planning on working my way through the Linky List at 3 Little Buttons to catch up with the people who shared their blogs there. I did start out well, reading and commenting on other people’s blogs, but then stuff got busy.

October saw my first TMA (that’s Tutor Marked Assignment, if you don’t speak OU) for the Latin course I’m currently studying. I got my results back on Monday and I scored 94% (I’m still kicking myself at the missed marks on one of the questions because if I’d just read the sentences to translate a little more closely I’d have got them all right).

The end of November brings my next TMA. It’s due right around the time we have family visiting as well, so I’m going to need to have a big push to get it completed and submitted so I can enjoy some family time.

November always used to be my NaNoWriMo time, but since having Laurie, I haven’t taken part. NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month and the aim is to write a complete novel in 30 days. I hope to take it back up again in the future (perhaps when I’m not eyeball deep in Latin cases, prepositions and declensions), but for now I’ll be on the sidelines cheering everyone else on.

What I will be continuing with from the time ‘pre-Laurie’ is our Not-Quite-Christmas Film viewing.

The spousal unit and I have amassed a vast collection of Christmas films over the years (it is our favourite time of year) so we used to watch them throughout December in the run up to Christmas. Then we ended up with so many that there weren’t enough days before Christmas to fit them all in, so we sorted out the ones which were Christmassy but didn’t have Christmas as the main point to them, and we watch those in December.

Laurie’s a lot more aware of what’s going on around him now as well, so I’m looking forward to the slow build up to Christmas with him. November will mean lots of organising of Christmas presents, planning things to do as a family, checking out Christmas events going on around us, sorting out Christmas books (I still need another nine to complete our advent countdown, then they need to be wrapped and labelled).

Laurie with shopping basket 2

At some point in the next month we have important things to work out, like what item of furniture do we remove from the living room to make the Christmas tree fit in? and how likely is the toddler to try unwrapping presents we put beneath the tree before Christmas Day?

But of course, first we have to get Halloween out of the way. I hope my little dinosaur has fun.

And then our countdown to the second Christmas as a family can officially begin!

This post is the penultimate one in a series for Blogtober 2019. You can see my full list of prompts below:

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Activities · Health · Parenting · The Noodle

#Blogtober2019 – Day 29: Feeling Crafty

I had big knitting plans when we had Laurie’s frozen embryo transfer.

I picked up a copy of What to Knit When You’re Expecting on one of our trips to Glasgow for a hospital appointment to pick up meds or check my lining or something. I envisioned myself knitting up little outfits or accessories through my pregnancy.

On the day I got my positive pregnancy test, I cast on for a cuddly panda for the baby, in light blue and dark blue (because, why not?), but very early on in the pregnancy I discovered that knitting (and pretty much any repetitive activity) made me throw up, so I couldn’t spend my time making a host of fun characters and outfits for my little boy.

In fact, the feeling of nausea during knitting was so strong, that it kind of put me off knitting for ages. I was able to get into it again when Laurie was tiny and could knit while he napped on me but as he got bigger, it got harder to coordinate baby, circular knitting needles, yarn, patterns and a breastfeeding pillow on my lap.

Laurie climbing

Now that Laurie is older, and sleeping a little more regularly, I’m able to knit a little more often. Mostly on an evening when he’s in bed, but occasionally he ‘helps’ or does the string equivalent of TP-ing my living room with yarn.

I’m yet to knit him anything he can actually wear, but that’s okay he’s got a bunch of relatives and friends who keep him well-supplied with knitted and crocheted jumpers. I’m more of a cuddly toy crafting mum (because when you make a mistake, it adds character), but that’s okay, he’s quite the fan of cuddly toys too.

Laurie at Tractor Show 1

But what about that panda I cast on for the day I found out that there was going to be a Laurie eventually?

I’m embarrassed to admit that it’s still in pieces in a bag in my craft cupboard. I think it’s still awaiting a tail or some other important panda body part. I was going to finish it for his first birthday… but I didn’t.

Maybe it’ll be finished in time for his second birthday.

Maybe.

This blog post is part of a Blogtober 2019 series of posts. You can see my full list of prompts below:

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Parenting · Pregnancy

#Blogtober2019 – Day 28: Bump in the Night

From before I even got a positive pregnancy test, my pregnancy with Laurence began with insomnia.

The day I did my first ever pregnancy test I took it at 2:30 in the morning because I’d been awake for hours already and I knew if I peed then I’d never be able to hold it long enough to get a definitive result later in the morning.

That 1am to 3:30am timeframe became really familiar to me over the next nine months. Virtually every night (well, morning) I would find myself wide awake, scrolling through my phone or reading on my Kindle (or throwing up) until I’d eventually flake out a couple of hours before the alarm went off. Of course, I’d inevitably crash around 3pm the next day and would end up sitting at work like a bit of a zombie, but I quite enjoyed those quiet hours that were just me and the baby.

Before he was born, Laurie was nicknamed Bo and as he got bigger and I was more aware of his presence, that time of day was ours. I’d feel him stretching or kicking or squirming into a more comfortable position. I’d rub or stroke him to let him know I was there and he’d kick or poke back. It was like a little game that we would play, just me and the bump.

When he was first born and we had many of those sleepless nights, I kind of forgot about our bump time, but now he’s a more settled sleeper, I miss the time when it was just the two of us, sharing a body. Now if he stirs in the night, he might reach out for his dad instead of me, but back then, when he was Baby Bo and lived in my bump, I was the only one who’d be there with him in the small hours of the night.

Laurie March 2018

And he was the perfect company for those long sleepless nights.

This post is the 28th (so near to the end now) in a series for the Blogtober 2019 blogging challenge. You can see all my prompts below:

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Activities · Parenting · The Noodle · Trips Out

#Blogtober2019 – Day 27: Getaway

I have mentioned before the fact that this year we’ve not had a holiday.

Last year we went away together for a family wedding. Laurie and I have also gone away together to stay with family, but we’ve not done a break which is just the three of us. Yet.

We’re planning a holiday away next year.

Which means that I’ve got a little over six months to prepare for it. This sounds like a lot of time, but I have a horrible feeling that it’ll end up not being nearly enough time. I mean it’s too early to start packing yet, but there’s still a lot that will need to be done before we go.

Little things, like planning what we’ll take in the car to entertain the Noodle. When we went to Wales last year we broke the trip up with an overnight stay in a hotel halfway down the country (luxury of going away whilst on Maternity Leave, no need to worry about booking holiday days for time off), this time we’ll be doing it in the one because it’s closer, but that also means a day’s travelling to keep a toddler occupied through.

Laurie driving car

There’s figuring out where we’ll stop to take breaks along the way. On the one hand, we’ll be flexible and if someone needs a nappy change then you can bet we’ll be stopping at the next services. But if we’re just wanting a break to stretch our legs, then we’ll want to stop at a place that will be toddler friendly.

Then there’s the stuff to take to keep him happy while we’re away. We’re lucky in that he’s a fairly easy to entertain kid. But we’ll need to bring Peter Rabbit and probably Winnie the Pooh for bedtime. At the moment he’s got a very strong attachment to the panda I knitted him the other week. Should that go on the list? Or will he have moved on by the time we’re away? Will I think he’s moved on and then have to frantically knit a new panda when we arrive and he reveals that he’s not moved on at all?!

And there’s also sleeping arrangements to work out.

Laurie at Baby Sensory

It’s a caravan holiday which means that there’s not a lot of space in the bed. And we bedshare. I’m optimistically planning to take the bedguard from the side of our bed, but I suspect we won’t know who’ll sleep where until we actually arrive. Will Laurie be happy in his own mini caravan bed? Will he want to be with us when he’s in a strange new place? Shall I just boot the spousal unit into one of the twin beds and claim the double for the Noodle and I?

That’s one I’m not planning on even thinking about until we arrive and I suspect we’ll handle it the way we handle most other parenting dilemmas; what’s the easiest and most natural thing to do in this moment? It’s an approach that’s rarely failed us before!

The final thing I’m thinking of is what to do while we’re away? We want to find places that Laurie will enjoy visiting, we want to get a chance to rest and relax ourselves, and perhaps most exciting of all, we want to meet up with some of the people from the online baby group that I’m in, so we have to factor that in too.

Laurie enjoying swing

I don’t remember spending this much time thinking about the preparations for the last solo trip I took with the spousal unit. I was pregnant at that time and my biggest worry was having enough bags for throwing up into, and a big enough stash of Dandelion & Burdock drink and aniseed balls to suck! I knew that pretty much all I wanted to do when I arrived was sleep and avoid moving around too much, so this trip away with Laurence and his dad is an entirely different kettle of fish.

You can bet I’ll share all about it here when we return, but in the meantime, any hints and tips about travelling with a toddler will be greatly appreciated.

This post is part of a series for Blogtober 2019. You can see my list of prompts below:

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Health · IVF · Parenting · Pregnancy · The Noodle

#Blogtober2019 – Day 26: True Love

The early part of my pregnancy with Laurence was not easy.

Morning sickness kicked in around 6 weeks pregnant and by the time I was 8 weeks pregnant I was on antiemetic medication which didn’t really help so at 9 weeks I was admitted to hospital with dehydration.

Over the next three weeks I became convinced I was dying. EVERYTHING made me throw up. Any kind of sensory stimulation and I would hurl. It would take me a whole day to drink a 330ml can of flat Fanta.

I had dreamed of being pregnant so long and yet by the time I was 12 weeks pregnant I had stopped virtually stopped eating because anything I swallowed only came back up again. I went to my 12 week scan telling myself that at least if there was something wrong with the baby, I wouldn’t have to feel so sick all the time because it would all be over.

Instead, there on the screen was a perfectly healthy little baby. He stretched out his legs, flailed his arms around, and then turned his back on the scanner. Looking back now, the way he ‘rolled over’ was so quintessentially Laurie. I watch him roll over in exactly the same way every night. I think that was truly the moment when I fell in love with him.

That’s not to say I wasn’t in love with him before.

I fell in love with that little bundle of cells I saw on the TV screen before my transfer. I fell in love with the idea of the baby I conjured up when I first got that second line nine days later. I fell head over heels in love when I saw that little heartbeat flickering away at six weeks pregnant, and actually got to hear its steady little thump two weeks later.

But at the same time, for those early weeks, it felt an awful lot like the pair of us were doing battle for control of my body. So many people were focused on what was right for the baby and I didn’t have the energy or the words to articulate the fact that I was in that body too, and while the baby was clearly healthy, I was dying in there.

Seeing him on the screen that day, looking far more human than he ever had looked before, made him real.

So I fought the hyperemesis gravidarium. I educated myself on it. I worked out what my triggers were; I hid in the bedroom whenever the spousal unit wanted to cook chicken, I wore sunglasses all the time to avoid bright lights, I had the brightness on my phone and computer monitors at work turned down as low as they’d go whilst still remaining visible. And I took the medication that helped me gain control over the vomiting.

It was over a month later when I definitely felt him move, though I had actually been feeling him for a couple of weeks before that; it just took a definite movement to realise it. And at that point it hit me that it wasn’t him versus me for control of my body; it was him and I against my body. He was right there alongside me and it was my body that was being the bitch.

That marked a turning point for me and I think that’s when I really bonded with my unborn baby.

Newborn Laurie

I worried for a long time during my pregnancy that we wouldn’t like one another when he arrived. I was scared that the sickness would affect the way I felt towards him. And after the trauma of his birth and our horrible stay in hospital, I suspect that it could have gone either way.

But once he was actually here, there was no question in my mind, he was mine and I was his and there doesn’t seem to be a word that describes just how strong that feeling of love was. And still is today. Seriously, just saying his name or looking at his little face makes my heart swell.

I love my little guy.

And yes, it’s cliché, but I’d do it all again because I’d know I could survive it. And I know exactly what the prize at the end is now.

This blog post is part of a series for the Blogtober 2019 blogging challenge. You can see my list of prompts below:

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How have your feelings towards the ones you love changed over time?

Activities · Parenting · The Noodle

#Blogtober2019 – Day 25: Counting Down

As of today we are just two months from Christmas. It suddenly seems so much closer than it did just a few days ago.

Christmas is my absolutely favourite time of the year. I love the whole build up to it, starting in about August with the kids going back to school, the leaves changing colour, the weather getting that little bit nippier. Then you hit October and there’s the rush of Halloween, Bonfire Night, Remembrance Day, and suddenly it’s time to crack out the decorations.

And I waited years for my own little family to share it with. The spousal unit and I started some traditions together. Our wedding anniversary is Christmas Eve, so we exchange a tree ornament as an anniversary gift; almost every decoration on our tree has a meaning behind it.

We also have roughly fifty Christmas films. So many that we have divided them into two batches; Christmas Films and Not-Quite-Christmas Films, and begin watching the Not-Quite-Christmas-Films in November!

Last year I came up with twenty four activities to do in the run up to Christmas (actually, I think it was more like thirty because I was allowing for some last minute substitutions) and put each one into a little Christmas stocking. We did a different festive activity each day in the run up to Christmas.

I planned to do that again this year, but the truth is, it took a bit of organising and there had to be some last minute substitutions because the original thing I’d planned to do ended up not being suitable. This year I decided I wanted to do a countdown that was a little more low effort.

That plan quite clearly backfired when I decided the simpler option was a book advent calendar.

Laurie at the library

Now I know you can buy these premade, but I decided to go about making my own one. The plan is to gather together twenty-four different Christmas books, wrap them or arrange them in a neat way, and select a different one to read each day from the 1st onwards.

We already had a few books in the collection and I’ve been keeping an eye out for more around the charity shops. In the last couple of weeks I’ve scored both That’s Not My Donkey and That’s Not My Reindeer. I recently took advantage of and offer in a shop and picked up another six brand new books for £10, plus another three secondhand ones. We’re now up to fifteen. I was only counting fourteen until I started writing this post and realised there was another one I’d overlooked!

By using books we already own, or which I can get secondhand or very cheap, it’s not going to cost too much to do. And I never begrudge spending money on books!

Laurie reading

I really can’t wait to for the countdown to Christmas this year. Laurie loves his books so much that when he realises we’re opening another one each day, he’ll be thrilled. And I don’t need much excuse to buy more books either, I’m looking forward to seeing what he thinks of what we’ve chosen.

This blog post is written as part of the 2019 Blogtober challenge. You can see my list of prompts below:

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Are you counting down to something important? How do you keep track of how close you’re getting to a special day?