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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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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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?

Activities · Parenting · The Noodle · Trips Out

#Blogtober2019 – Day 19: The Best Day

The truth is, we have so many wonderful days together, both days out and days in, that it’s hard to say which is exactly the very best day of them all.

Perhaps our very best day would look something like this:

We’d wake up feeling refreshed and ready for the day. There would be no disruption on the boats and we’d sit together excitedly planning our trip ahead. Laurie would probably have us playing musical chairs and would get to charm some ladies seated near us.

Our trip out would be to somewhere not too far away, but perhaps just enough of a distance to give Laurie a nap on the way. That way he’d be all full of energy and ready to go when we arrived.

Wherever we are going on our imaginary best day, we’d have a snack when we arrived; either something we’d brought ourselves, or something they could provide. This would allow us all to feel refuelled and we’d then head out to see the place we’d be spending the day.

Laurie eating ice cream

The place we would go to would have lots of things for Laurie to see and get involved with, like at the Science Centre. We would have things to look at and do as well, but it would be at a happy medium level where Laurie could get some benefit from the day as well. If there are staff standing by, they would be able to engage Laurie and draw him in to take part in activities or have a go at taking part. He loves being able to touch things or move things, especially if there are older children who are getting to be involved; he doesn’t seem to realise how much younger he is!

Laurie is massively into animals right now, so there would almost definitely be animals at this place we are visiting. Once again, he’d want to be able to get up close to them, talk to them and maybe even stroke one or two. If those animals were dogs, Laurence would be in his element. If there was an opportunity to give a rat a cuddle, I’d be in my element too.

Laurie mans the helm

Come lunch time and we would find a nice place to eat at our attraction. The food would be tasty and filling with plenty of choice on the menu (particularly the one aimed at smaller visitors). There would be lots of different seating options as well, perhaps highchairs for the teeny tinies and booster seats for the older ones who are getting far too long in the leg to fit many highchairs you get in restaurants. If there was an all-you-can-eat buffet option, we’d definitely go all in for that.

Laurie eating chicken ball

We would maybe spent the afternoon indulging in one of Laurie’s interests; perhaps looking at different vehicles, meeting some dogs, or getting to look at a massive pile of books. I’d definitely be in favour of those last two. It would’ve been a busy day by this point so a refuelling stop for some cake or biscuits wouldn’t go amiss either.

By this point we would need to be thinking about heading back, but perhaps we’d get to have a spot of charity shopping, or mooching round a secondhand bookshop on the way back. If we could all come away with a little treat, it would round the day off nicely.

Getting back to the ferry just as a boat is pulling in, rather than away, would allow us to finish the day without a long wait for the boat, and a smooth crossing would be an added bonus.

And then we’d be back home in time to pick up Tara from the kennels and grab a bite to eat, before snuggling up in bed with a movie (that we’d probably all fall asleep in front of).

Laurie burying daddy

The funny thing is, this day describes many of our trips off the island. It could be our recent trip to Funworld or to Ayr earlier in the year. It’s virtually a complete description of our trip to Heads of Ayr Farm Park last month (a trip that I’m yet to blog about). We’ve fallen into a good routine for our days out and it turns out that it’s making for some pretty good days out; no wonder it’s so hard to pick which of them is the best one!

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

Prompt LIst (1)

What would your best day out look like? Have you been lucky enough to experience it or is it still a pipe dream?

Activities · Parenting · The Noodle

#Blogtober2019 – Day 12: Today I made…

Today I made my son giggle when I got into the cot like he told me to (he then lay on his father’s side of the bed, so I think he was playing at being Daddy while I got to be Laurie).

Today I made my son so happy when I put on his welly boots and took him into the garden for a stomp in the wood chippings.

Today I made my son run up and down the living room which was all fun and games until he tripped over the rug and bumped his nose on the floor.

Today I made my son cry playing the aforementioned game.

Today I made my son laugh hysterically by pulling my arm up inside my dressing gown and then grabbing his hand when he reached into my empty sleeve.

Today I made my son come in from stomping around the garden (with his wellies on the wrong feet because he did it himself) with the promise of some Minion crispies.

Today I made my son upset when I wouldn’t let him help load the washing machine (that I’d already loaded with laundry).

Today I made my son excited when I invited him to press the start button on the washing machine because he loves to do laundry.

Today I made one arm, two eye patches and two ears for the little knitted panda that I’m making Laurie after he fell in love with one from the same pattern in a charity shop a few weeks ago and I still feel guilty for not getting it for him.

Today I made a bat with my son:

Things We Make

Excuse the potato quality photo. The lighting wasn’t great in the room and I had a toddler trying to share the camera with me.

Laurie and his dad painted the toilet roll tube earlier in the week. After a (very) long nap this afternoon, I cut out the wings, ears and a couple of different mouth shapes then gave Laurie a selection of googly eyes to choose from. He did the pasting and I helped him stick them on (apart from the ears which I did as he was losing interest by that point).

He now lives on top of the bookcase and is officially the first of our handmade Halloween decorations this year.

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

Prompt LIst (1)

What have you been making recently? Are you crafty at all?

Activities · Health · IVF · Parenting · The Noodle · Trips Out

#Blogtober2019 – Day 11: Let’s Go Outside

In 2016 I set myself a challenge of ‘walking to Rivendell’. Basically someone calculated the mileage covered in The Lord of the Rings when Frodo and the gang walk from Hobbiton to Rivendell (458 miles, if you’re curious) and I set out to do the same in a series of walks through the year.

Every time I went on a Middle-earth walk, I tracked it, until halfway through December when I completed my challenge.

I’d planned to do the next leg of the journey (Rivendell to Moria, approximately 340 miles to the Doors of Moria) through the following year. But things didn’t quite work out that way.

In the January we started our third (and final) fresh round of IVF. We had our egg collection halfway through February, I recovered from that and was just starting to pick it up again, when we hit April and we started preparing for the frozen embryo transfer round that brought us Laurie.

The hormones involved in IVF treatment can do funny things to your body; you can feel headachey, emotional, your uterus and ovaries feel different. Medications also have to be taken at specific times, which can be a bit impractical if you’re planning a quick two mile walk after work; one of the meds I was on required me to lie down for 20-30 minutes after taking it, meaning that 6:30am or 6:30pm activities were completely off the cards.

So walking didn’t happen much from April onwards.

After the embryo transfer on the 25th of May, I felt like I was made of glass. I’ve done transfers where I’ve rested afterwards and I’ve done transfers when I’ve gone on as normal; the ones where I’ve rested were the ones where I had the most success, so with Laurie’s round, I rested.

And then from June onwards I pretty much threw up until the end of 2017 (and then into the first month and five days of 2018 as well). Once I was about six or seven months pregnant we were able to take the occasional shuffle ‘to the bump and back’ (a family landmark down the road from our house). But other than that, my efforts to walk from Rivendell to Moria went sadly abandoned. Just as well I wasn’t the one responsible for getting a small gold trinket into a fiery chasm!

Laurie taking a walk

But now Laurie is definitely more mobile and a good walk tires him out and we live somewhere really beautiful, that we try to go for at least a couple of walks a week. The fact that the evenings are drawing in now means we’ll be a little more limited on our walks, but in the next few years I’m hoping I’ll get back into my walking again.

And maybe this time I’ll have a little travelling companion to walk alongside of me.

This blog post is part of a series for Blogtober 2019. You can see the prompts I’m using below:

Prompt LIst (1)

Do you enjoy spending time outdoors? Have you ever taken part in a walking (or other outdoor) challenge?