Parenting · The Noodle

#Blogtober2019 – Day 13: All dressed up

Anyone who has met me is probably aware that fashion is not one of my strong points.

Given half the chance, I live in jeans and a top. If it’s cold, I’ll throw a hoodie over the top; if it’s warm, the top will be short-sleeved. Actually, given half the chance, I’ll be wearing my jammies, but if I have to put actual clothes on, then they’ll be my default ‘uniform’.

And yet, there’s something about having a small person of my very own to dress up, that make me more than just interested in clothes for practical purposes. Suddenly I find myself considering how well things go together.

I’ve become the mother who matches my son’s socks to his top.

I don’t even know how it happened.

Well, maybe I do.

Before Laurie was born, we ordered some bundles of clothes off of eBay. We were also lucky enough to be given a couple of bags of hand-me-downs from friends. There were some outfit sets amongst these clothes, but there were lots of individual items which I had to piece together into outfits for him.

I remember being immensely proud of the day when amongst his clothes I discovered a dark blue long-sleeved top with a dog pattern on it. He’d also got a pair of dungarees with a dog on them. And although the two different dogs didn’t match, they were similar enough that an outfit was born.

dav

He must’ve worn that outfit at least once a week until the dungarees wouldn’t stay done up and the top’s sleeves were halfway up his arms! I was so proud of it.

The photo doesn’t really do it justice. The little square on the dungarees has a dog on it and you can just about make out the not-quite-the-same-but-quite-similar dogs on the top. I even matched the dribble bib!

There’s something kind of fun in putting together little combinations of top, bottoms, jumper and anything else, and figuring out a way to tie them all together. Generally I either pick out one colour and try to find another item of clothing with the same/complementary colour, or I find a motif which is repeated in another item of clothing.

I’m sure that I do miss the mark occasionally, but as far as children go, Laurie’s an easy little boy to dress. I can pretty much guarantee that trousers and a nice jumper will make him look fairly smart (so long as we keep him away from anything sticky).

And I do fall back on the shop bought outfits when I’m feeling lazy. One that crops up in a few photos at the moment is his ‘moosebum’ outfit. This was in a bundle that one of his little friends had outgrown and passed on to us. I just love the moose on the bum! The fact that the Noodle’s Naini knitted him a hoodie that matches it perfectly is just an added bonus.

Laurie heading into Wean's World

Laurie’s already getting more insistent about picking his own clothes, so I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before I have to hand over the reins to him for selecting his outfits. He’s already got pretty good taste when it comes to clothes and footwear though, so he’ll probably do a way better job than me at it!

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

Prompt LIst (1)

Are you able to coordinate the perfect outfit? Or do just just grab whatever’s clean and hope for the best?

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?

Parenting · The Noodle

#Blogtober2019 – Day 10: Phobias

I have a terrible phobia of spiders. I can’t help it.

Everything about them makes my skin crawl.

I have gotten better about being around them, particularly when they’re small, but the big hairy ones are too much for me.

On the one hand, I’m determined not to let my fear rub off on my son. On the other, I don’t want to have to do anything that involves getting too close to those eight-legged monsters.

Laurie on Open Top Bus 01

A few months back, around the time I went from working three day weeks to four day ones, the spousal unit was playing at church. It had been a busy week for us all, so Laurie and I stayed home that particular day.

All was going well until I put Laurie down in the bedroom for a nap. On the way out of the room I stooped to pick up some laundry (might as well get some housework done while he naps, I thought). I stepped out the bedroom door and glanced down, thinking I might have dropped something. And as my eyes scanned the floor I spotted the dogs water bowl had something in it.

A Giant Get Out Of Here Spider!

This thing was massive. Absolutely ginormous.

I don’t think my feet touched the ground. I levitated the foot’s distance into the living room, to safety on the other side of the stairgate.

And then the realisation hit me.

My son was now on the other side of the spider. In the bedroom. And I couldn’t get to him if he needed me.

I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been so torn as a mother!

I was able to get close enough to take a photo (at arms length, leaning over the stairgate, keeping all limbs well out of reach of the eight-legged freak) in order to send it to the spousal unit to beg him to come home.

He suggested pouring more water into the bowl to make sure it was an ex-spider, therefore rendering us all safe from the behemoth. I expressed some concern that this would simply raise the water level in the bowl, allowing the creature to find its footing on the side and climb out. Also pouring water into the bowl required me to be a lot closer to it than I was prepared to get!

Time passed. I fretted that Laurie could wake up at any moment. Eventually I could take it no longer.

I got the kettle and wildly splashed water over the corridor that we call Tara’s Room, between the bedroom and living room. Some of the water went in the bowl. Most of it went on the floor.

I watched the spider.

It sloshed around a little bit in the ripples my water splashing made, but it didn’t try to move. And shining a torch on it and looking just a tad closer, it definitely looked a bit dead.

Of course, it was still huge and scary and I was petrified about Tara trying to drink it, or Laurie spotting it and wanting to pick it up. So I got a pasta bowl, thinking it would sit nicely on top of the dog bowl to cover up the bowl’s contents. I underestimated the size of the dog bowl though and instead it bobbed on top of the water, after bouncing right down. At least this ensured that if the spider hadn’t ceased to be already, it definitely had by then!

I felt like a bit of a fool for the rest of the day, though I was able to retrieve Laurence from the bedroom when he woke. And the spousal unit did agree with me that it was a very big spider (and not just agreeing in that you’re my wife so I HAVE to agree with you way).

Then again, if the spider had been alive, I think the spousal unit would definitely have had to come home to rescue our son! That thing was big enough to eat him!

This post is the tenth in the Blogtober 2019 series I am writing. You can see my prompts below:

Prompt LIst (1)

Do you have any phobias? How do you cope when you’re faced with them?

Parenting · The Noodle

#Blogtober2019 – Day 9: A Day in the Life

At the moment I’m working a four day week as I’m providing Maternity cover for a different role to the one I was doing until the summer.

I was lucky enough to have a three day week after my return from Maternity Leave, something that I never really imagined doing but I absolutely loved, mainly because of my Tuesdays. Tuesdays were the days when I had twelve whole hours just me and the Noodle.

I’ll admit, the first few absolutely terrified me!

Laurie March 2018

But when he was tiny it was actually pretty easy, and he tended to ease into the difficult phases (you’d have a couple of bad days, then a good one to lull you into the false impression that he’d gotten over whatever leap in development that had stopped him sleeping/got him climbing the walls/having the mother of all meltdowns any time you offered him a piece of cheese/etc.) so at least you were able to adjust as he did.

Our old Tuesdays are my model of what the perfect day with my son are, just the two of us. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy our current Fridays as a family, where we visit the town or explore the mainland, but for days when we’re just a pair, Tuesdays are the gold standard.

A typical Mummy-Son Day would probably look something like this:

5am-ish
Laurie wakes up. He’ll cuddle into me and babble a little bit. I’ll probably end up scrolling through my phone, eventually he’ll fall asleep. If I don’t have to get up for anything, by about 6am, I will too.

7am-ish
The spousal unit wakes up and starts getting himself ready quietly so as not to disturb Laurie and I. Inevitably, as soon as the spousal unit mentions he’s going to go as soon as possible to give me a lie in, Laurie will wake up and decide it’s time to get the day started. When he was a newborn, I’d sit in bed feeding him and watching ER. Now, we relocate to the living room.

8am-ish
Radio on, kettle on, graze plate out for Laurie. Breakfast for me. Usually halfway through a mouthful of squash from the night before I remember that I boiled the kettle half an hour ago and still haven’t made a mug of hot chocolate yet. Laurie eats the fruit from his graze plate, picks at some of the cereal, and gives a cheese twist to the labrador.

9am-ish
Time for housework. I’ll try to tackle either washing up, laundry of vacuuming. Laurie plays in the living room if I wash up (and visits me in the kitchen); he helps sort the laundry (though we have vastly different systems of sorting clothes); he has a complete meltdown if I do the vacuuming (unless we each take it in turns for a count of 10)!

9:30am
I can guarantee that by this point Laurie will be showing signs of being ready for a nap. He only ever has a morning nap when he’s with me. If he’s with his dad he’ll just charge on through. This is a nice time for me to go and have a lie down with him on the bed. He’ll fall deeply unconscious until the first time I try to move, then he’ll start to stir and set me in a panic.

10am
Head through to the living room. Contemplate doing something that I should be doing, like more housework or OU. Instead read a knitting magazine, or knit, or scroll through Facebook, or do one of several other things that I probably could put off until later, but don’t.

If I’m feeling really dedicated, I’ll switch what I do every twenty minutes or so. Twenty minutes of reading followed by twenty minutes of rearranging laundry on the airer. I like to check stuff off the To Do List.

11am-ish
Worry that I’ve not heard from Laurie for a while. Double check the baby monitor is plugged in. Hover at the door to the bedroom and debate whether I should go in to check on him. Start to open the door, panic when it creaks. Peer in anyway. Confirm I can see him breathing, relax for a little bit.

11:45am
Message the spousal unit that if Laurie doesn’t wake up soon, he’ll have a very late lunch.

Seconds after sending the above message
Laurie wakes up.

12pm
Get lunch on. Let Laurie ‘help’. Spent twenty minutes helping him empty the bin, fishing things out of the bin that shouldn’t be in there, forgetting to set timers or check the clock when I put food in and getting annoyed at Jeremy Vine on the radio.

Laurie eating pizza

Once it’s all ready we sit down to eat. Laurie eats all of his favourite thing from his plate and then tries to pinch the same thing off my plate. Depending on what it is, I can sometimes be convinced to share. Know he’s had enough of the meal when he decides to take his leftovers to the dog. Fine if I’m sitting with him when he does this, not so fine if I’m taking my plate out to the kitchen and he gets slightly cold mixed veg all over the floor!

If I’m feeling like a true domestic goddess, I might wash up at this point and do other housewifely things, like emptying the washing machine. It’s been known to happen.

2pm-ish
If the weather’s nice we go for a stroll on the estate where we live. If it’s bad this might be the time when I set up a arts and craft activity in the kitchen.

If it’s the latter, you can pretty much guarantee that within half an hour Laurie (and I) will be in the bathroom, him having been manhandled up the stairs trying to avoid contact with him as much as possible until I can get him in the shower and hosed down. Invariably, whenever the paint comes out, Laurie has to paint himself!

cropped-1

3pm-ish
Clean up Laurie’s work of art in the kitchen. Scrub paint off the floor, cupboard doors, oven, stairgate and all other surfaces in the kitchen. Touch something and notice it’s got a smudge of paint on it. Clean that off. Touch it again and notice another smudge. Do this three or four times before I realise the paint is coming from a blob on my thumb!

A short while later
Realise that Laurie is getting tired and it is far too late for an afternoon nap now, so try to keep him going for as long as possible with toys, games, silly songs and stories. If we didn’t take a walk earlier, you can bet we’re going on one now, whatever the weather!

5pm-ish
Sit down for a cuddle with him on the sofa and think about getting tea. An hour passes and I realise that suddenly bedtime is looming very close and I really need to get tea.

Head to the kitchen, rifle through the cupboards and put together something snacky for Laurie’s tea. He eats most of it and tries to feed me the rest. Depending on what it is, I might let him.

6:30pm
Begin the wind down for bed time. Try to encourage quiet games and toys. Laurie does not get the memo and runs around the living room like he’s on a total sugar high, everything is hilariously funny and Tara must be cuddled. Balloons are thrown, blocks are knocked over, we each have to have a book and he has to make sure I read mine properly.

He doesn’t show signs of tiring any time soon. I could drop where I stand!

Laurie pointing

7pm
Vitamins, teeth, nappy, jammies, story, into bed for cuddles and to sleep.

7:45pm
Head through to the living room and wonder what to do with myself. Feel at a bit of a loss because I’m all by myself and my little companion from the day is unconscious. Pull out some OU and reward myself with five minutes online at the end of every section.

The radio will be on and playing songs that all sound like Laurence is crying for me from the other room.

9:30pm
The spousal unit shows up, hopefully bringing some chocolate or a nice treat and we catch up with one another before deciding we’re both absolutely exhausted and head to bed.

As if Laurie knows his dad is back, before we’ve even left the living room, he’ll stir a little, even if he doesn’t fully wake up, and we end up all snuggled together in bed by 10:30pm.

I’m exhausted and can barely keep my eyes open and it doesn’t sound like a very impressive day when it’s all written out, it’s not a day where I’m making scientific discoveries, or saving a life, or changing the world, but for me, it’s the sort of day I dreamed of for almost a decade.

This blog post is the ninth is a series for Blogtober 2019. You can see my prompts below:

Prompt LIst (1)

What does your perfect day look like? How different is it from a normal day?

Parenting · The Noodle

#Blogtober2019 – Day 7: Dream Job

I realise this is incredibly mushy to admit, but I kind of have my dream job. I’m mum to this awesome little guy.

Laurie and Mum kiss

It’s probably not many people’s idea of a dream job. I mean, there’s no prospect of a Christmas bonus, the hours are pretty shocking, you get zero holidays and the boss is the most demanding person you’ll ever meet.

But for me, I spent so long building up the idea of what being someone’s mum was that I began to suspect I was blowing it totally out of size.

I worried that I wouldn’t have a close bond with him. That I wouldn’t know how to be his mum. That I would get things wrong, mess him up somehow. I worried that after all those years of wishing to be someone’s mum, that I’d not actually be very good at it, or worse, I’d end up hating it.

Cait and Laurie on bus

Roughly eleven years ago, I picked up a pair of knitting needles, a how-to-knit kit, and some awful splitty bright pink yarn, and I discovered that knitting was something that came to me relatively naturally. I could take a tangle of string and a couple of pointy sticks and turn it into something beautiful or practical.

Being a mother is a bit like that.

In a way, I feel like it came to me so naturally. I feel like my approach to parenting is pretty instinctual. I fell into the Attachment/Gentle Parenting approach because that’s just what felt natural; he cries and I hold him, I carry him, we bedshare.

Sometimes there are knots or tangles or somehow the pattern just doesn’t make sense, but we just work on through it and you can see something beautiful taking shape.

Today’s post is the seventh in a series for Blogtober 2019. You can see all my prompts below:

Prompt LIst (1)

What is your dream job? Did it turn out to be something different from what you expected it would be?

Health · Parenting · The Noodle · Trips Out

#Blogtober2019 – Day 5: Something to eat

I saw a post on Facebook the other day which was along the lines of ‘adulthood is realising that you have to decide what to cook for dinner every night’. I think it stuck with me, because it’s true.

I’m very lucky in that Laurence is not an especially fussy child. There’s certain foods that he favours over others; mini cheddars will always be top of his list and given the option he’d probably eat them for breakfast, lunch and tea. He doesn’t seem to be especially fond of tomatoes, which isn’t a huge surprise to me since they make my mouth feel very uncomfortable (and I wonder if he experiences a touch of the same).

But one of those things that no one really mentioned when they discussed parenting stuff was the fact that you have to come up with meals to feed the child. Every day!

Laurie eating chicken ball

I feel the need to be slightly more varied in Laurie’s diet than I would be with my own. I’d happily eat spaghetti, meatballs and cheese three times a week, but I’m fully aware that my son needs foods with a little more nutritional value than that. So since having him, I probably eat a little more healthily than I did before.

I also cook more too.

And I’m not a cook!

But there was something about realising I had to provide for this little person that made me look up things like ‘how to make sweet potato fries’ and ‘healthy biscuits’ and various other things. I’m embarrassed to admit how many attempts it took to get the perfect soft boiled egg for him!

I cook. But I don’t love it.

Since having the boy, I have to admit, we eat out rather a lot more than we did pre-child. This is mainly because we wanted to get the little man plenty of experience of eating out, so he got the hang of how to behave while we were in restaurants and cafes. It’s also because we take him on lots of days out and while taking a packed lunch is practical, we live on an island so the variety of places you get to eat in the city means a meal out can be a bit of a treat.

Laurie eating ice cream

I like to think that we’re giving the Noodle opportunities to expand his pallet but he’s a typical 20 month old right now. I think the following points sum him up quite well:

  1. Cheese is life.
  2. Mini cheddars are basically cheese and crackers smushed into one and are therefore like cheese but better.
  3. Orange segments are somehow addictive; he can’t just have one.
  4. If the same item of food is on the toddler’s plate and someone else’s plate, the piece on the other person’s plate is vastly superior to their own.
  5. If all else fails, the labrador will eat it.

As much as I try to keep giving him plenty of variety, and give him a graze plate each date with lots of different tastes and textures, I can pretty much guarantee that he will eat the cheese or mini cheddars, he will inhale the orange segments, he will beg toast fingers off of my plate while ignoring those on his own, and even if I think I’ve made the best plate there could ever be, he’ll still want to feed half of it to Tara!

And I guess that’s just life with a toddler. I’m pretty sure that in the future we’ll have fussy phases where he wants to eat nothing, phases where he’ll request foods only to turn his nose up at them once they’re prepared, and phases where he only wants sugar.

I’m pretty certain I can ride all of those out.

I just need to get better at figuring out what to do for tea each night!

This blog post is for day 5 of the Blogtober 2019 blogging challenge. See my prompts below:

Prompt LIst (1)

How do you decide what to cook for tea each night? Any tales of feeding toddlers (or humans of other ages)?

Parenting · Pregnancy · The Noodle

#Blogtober2019 – Day 4: On the shelf

Before the Noodle came along, reading was my thing. So many people told me that when we had kids I’d not have time to read any more.

For the month I was unemployed back in 2011, I read 33 books, because I had little else to do with my time.

One of the things that made me most miserable about having hyperemesis during pregnancy was that reading made me throw up. So did knitting. And colouring in (though not to the same degree, thankfully). I think I could almost have handled feeling so poorly in the early days if I could’ve lost myself in a good book to take my mind off things.

You may have figured out from yesterday’s post, I like to organise things. I used to have a complicated system for which books I would read where I would take one from each shelf of my bookcases in turn, with an ebook in between for good measure. I was strictly monogamous; only one book at a time (with the exception of coursebooks/textbooks which could be read alongside fiction, because of course).

My reading habits have changed somewhat since the little man came along.

Laurie reading

I still read, but a lot more digitally. It’s easier to read on an eReader or phone in bed at night because you don’t need to put the light on. It’s also easier to actually hold a Kindle whilst feeding a baby, because you don’t need two hands to turn the page.

So my physical books do tend to spend rather more time on the shelf now than they used to; but my digital book purchases have probably multiplied exponentially from where they were a few years ago.

I also used to doggedly stick with a book even if I wasn’t enjoying it. I would be determined to get to the end so that I could judge it properly. What if the point at which I abandoned it was where it just started to get good?! I do not do that anymore! Life is way too short and my own time is too precious.

The other major change in my reading habits that has come about in the last couple of years is that I read a lot less fiction than I used to.

Laurie reading at the library

That’s not just because I’ve spent the last year studying, I don’t really count my coursebooks in my year’s reading. It’s because now I have my own tiny human, I’m fascinated by how his brain works, how he’s developing and learning, how he sees the world, and one hundred and one other things. I love Sarah Ockwell-Smith‘s books because she speaks to my way of parenting (I’ll definitely be blogging about my parenting philosophy in the future) and I’ve been quietly amassing both digital and physical copies of her books.

The final change to my bookshelves is obviously as a result of that tiny human who has joined our home. Laurence has quite the library himself (because I firmly believe that the one thing a child can’t have too many of is books) and they all need somewhere to go.

I very generously bequeathed to him not only a big shelf on my main bookcase, but a whole small bookcase as well! Both of these are in our living room and are generally where his toys are stored, but each week when we reorganise the toys, we select a bunch of new books for him to enjoy that week too. Of course, Charlie Cook’s Favourite Book is a perennial favourite so it pretty much lives on the bookcase. Or in our bed.

After being told by so many people that having a child pretty much meant I would never be able to pick up a book again, I have to say they were wrong.

While I don’t get as much time to read anymore, and my reading habits have changed, I probably read more now than I ever did before. And those books might be by Julia Donaldson, or Eric Carle, or Maurice Sendak, but hopefully I’m instilling my love of reading in my boy.

And he’ll only be little for a while. Perhaps in the future, when he doesn’t need my help to clean his teeth, or dress him ready for the day, or hold his hand to cross the road, I’ll have two hands free when I’m reading a book, and we’ll be able to share a bookshelf and its stories together.

Laurie at the library choosing books

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

Prompt LIst (1)

How have your reading habits changed over the years? What’s prompted those changes? Do you think they’ve changed for the better or worse?