Monday, 30 April 2012

The mystery of the empty milk carton

Tidying up yesterday I finally decided to tackle the mystery of the empty milk carton. 

The milk carton in question had been sat on the stairs for a couple of days, along with other items that had gathered there, presumably ready to be taken up and put away.  I say presumably because I'd been chipping away at the items taking a few things with me each time I went upstairs for the previous couple of days but they had, apparently, become invisible to The Husband and The Eight Year Old.

Me to The Husband: "Do you know why this empty milk carton is on the stairs?"

The Husband (slightly sheepishly):  "Oh yeah, I was going to take it out to the recycling"

Me: "...two days ago?!"  

The Husband: "Ok. So I may not be the tidiest person in the world but we must remember that I am very good at a lot of other things"

Me: "...and that is why we are able to live together in spite of the milk cartons in this relationship".

Images from Norfolk

The week before last, we were on holiday in one of favourite areas of the UK, Norfolk.  More precisely, we were on holiay in NORTH Norfolk.  I feel the need to clarify this as we were constantly reminded of the 'northern' aspect of our location - by shop signs and advertising everywhere - as demonstrated here:

The 'largest' claim makes me smile.  We also encountered a theatre with the 'smallest stage' and a swimming pool with the 'warmest water'. All in NORTH Norfolk.  Obviously. We do not know how this compares to the South of the region :)

Despite the chilly, and at times drizzly, weather we had a really great holiday.  We stayed in a very nice house overlooking the sea in Sheringham.  One of The (best) Friends joined us for a couple of days, as did The In-Laws.  It was a nice mix, sharing some of the holiday and having the rest of the time to ourselves.

We spent a couple of days on one of my favouite UK beaches at Wells.  It has sand dunes, beach huts aplenty, and a backdrop of pine forest.  It's really very lovely.

We collected 'beach treasure'...

And I drooled over the beach huts - I have a 'thing' about them.

On one of the days we spotted two seals swimming in the shallow waters - only one of them was willing to face the camera.

We drank lots of tea and ate much cake.

A highlight for me was trawling the shops of Holt - lots of gorgeous little gift and interiors shops and antiques hideaways.  Even The Eight Year Old got into the spirit, finding pocket money bargins in the charity shops. The Husband tried to pretend the balloons we purchased in one charity shop were for The Eight Year Old...

We played games, relaxed, talked to each other, ate good food, drank nice wine, and had lots of fun. 

As ever, the week flew by too quickly.On the morning of our last day we waved goodbye to the sea, until next time.

The Husband and I agreed that family holidays, especially with a baby, may not be the most relaxing but as the well-worn saying says, a change is as good as a rest!

Wednesday, 25 April 2012


Today I have given The Baby his first haircut.

Something had to be done as his fringe was getting in his eyes.  I have been puting off doing the deed as I knew it would be a battle.  At nine months old, The Baby never stops moving so it was never going to be easy.

I secured him in his Bebe Pod which, for those who are not in the know is a brilliant seat which can be used on the floor or attached to a chair.  After piling up a variety of toys in front of him in a bid to distract him from the task in hand I quickly got to work.

It went ok... ish.  In the first sitting I managed to trim the front and one side. And it was only a bit jaggedy. There wasn't much time as he soon becomes more interested in the scissors than he is in his toys.  

I've just had another go and it's looking much better now.  It's funny though.  With the new haircut he looks older.

It reminds me of how quickly he is growing, these baby-days will be short lived.

Monday, 23 April 2012

I have a prize

Actually, it's an award.  There is no trophy, but I do get this badge.

The Versatile Blogger Award is given by one blogger to another.  I like it.  It's a way of acknowledging blogs we enjoy and admire.  And it's really very nice to be acknowledged by a fellow blogger.

I was given my badge of blogging lovliness by a woman who lives in Shackleford and is mad about dogs.  Quite fitting then that she goes by the name of 'Mad dog woman of Shackleford'.  You can read lots of good stuff on her blog by clicking here.

In order to accept this badge of blogging honour, before passing on the award to some blogging people out there that I am partial to, I am required to share with you seven facts about me. 

We've been here before - in 'facts about me' land - when I shared these 12 facts about me.  Here's the next instalment:-

  1. I - along with The Husband - am a failing allotmenteer.  We are full of good intentions but in the last two - almost three - years, we've barely got beyond a small potato crop.
  2. I am not the most patient of people.
  3. Sometimes I'm a great Mum.  Other times I'm just getting by the best I can.
  4. I don't deserve to have my teeth when you consider my unhealthy love of sour tasting fizzy sweets.
  5. I want to live by the sea.  For many reasons this isn't yet possible. But give me time.
  6. I am prone to exaggeration for dramatic effect.
  7. I look good in a hat. And as it's FACT that not everyone can carry off the wearing of a hat successfully then I'm quite proud of this.
And now for 15 blogs who Iwould like to pass on this award to.  15 is quite a lot isn't it?. I'm going to start off with 5....

- a very lovely blog that offers up open and honest thoughts about family life and provides some beautiful images.

I'm counting UFO's
 - some fabulous blogging AND pretty little hooky things

- not for the fainthearted.  I initially found motherventing to be a bit 'too much in your face'.  I thought a woman who writes like this must be a bit full of herself really. I was wrong.  And it's not often that I admit to that. I think, I was maybe a bit envious of someone who is willing to write so freely and openly.  I'm not sure that she will thank me for such a playful blogging award but hey, to quote the woman herself "what the feck", I'm going to bestow it on her anyway.

Chipper Nelly
- for all of it's lovliness all of the time.  Simple as that.

Writing from the edge
- becauas every post reads like a wonderfully crafted story that takes you on a little journey.

I now need to go an let these blogging types know that they too have a prize.  And anyone reading this needs to go and have a nosey at the blogs above.  Go on, off you go...there's no excuse not too, I've provided links to the sites and everything.

Thank you again to the Mad dog woman of Shackleford for putting a smile on  my face and a badge on my blog :)

Snippets of everday conversation #14

Me - to the Eight Year old whilst walking through a North Norfolk town in search of breakfast one day last week:  "What, given the choice, would you chose to have for breakfast if you could have anything right now?"

The Eight Year Old:  "Mummy, at the minute, I'm so hungry I could eat anything".

Sometimes I wonder I wonder which one of us is the 'grown up'.            

Saturday, 21 April 2012


We're back home from a weeks holiday in Norfolk. Having got in about an hour ago, the house, once again, looks as if it has imploded.  Suitcases, toys, carrier bags and random food items adorn every available surface.

We had a great holiday- more about that next time - but it's always good to be back home isn't it, relaxing after the journey and soaking up all that is familiar.

I'm sat here tapping away on the laptop. It's proving to be quite a challenge given that the spacebar is now broken and sticking - mysterious really since is was fine before we went away.  It joins the dodgy 'n' in it's mission to make typing-life tricky. For some reason, as yet unknown, I am declining to use the new laptop that is yet to develop it's own flaws. 

The Eight Year Old and The Husband have set about making up the 1000 piece 3D jigsaw (yes, really) that was purchased during our holiday for cost of £2.50 from a charity shop.  Getting The Eight Year Old interested in trawling through charity shops may be back-firing on me.

The Baby appears to be delighted to be back at home, exploring the spaces he recognises and is putting his new 'pushing-off-about-to-crawl-sometime-very-soon' skills to good use.

It feels as if we are all a bit light-headed, drunken in that lovely post-holiday haze, before the reality of day-to-day living kicks in once again and the imploded house demands to be restored to some kind of reality.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Brave or foolish?

So.  On Wednesday, we - The Husband, The Baby and me - were in town.  We were there to collect The Eight Year Old who had been to the theatre with his friend to see a production of Swallows and Amazons.  That boy really does enjoy a better social life than me!!

As we were in town we took advantage of the situation and took ourselves off to meet a couple of The Friends for a leisurely coffee.

The Baby was very well behaved for the hour and a half  whilst we were in the coffee shop.  I think this gave us the confidence to make a decision we would probably never had made had we been at home.  The decision to go to dinner, with The Baby and The Eight Year Old, to a 'fancy' Italian restaurant.
Earlier in the day we passed by the restaurant, a relatively new addition to it's current location in the City Centre, and the seed of the idea of eating there (instead our original idea of going to a chain like Pizza Express) was planted.  We had checked if babies and children were welcome.  They were. 

We arrived at the restaurant a little before 6pm thinking that there would be very few other customers choosing to eat so early on.  We were wrong. The place was packed.

I immediately felt anxious.  The Eight Year Old is used to eating out.   But The Baby, well, not so much. The thought of keeping him entertained throughout our meal felt much more 'do-able'  when we thought the place would be largely empty but in front of an audience?  Another thing entirely!!

Reading the faces of the customers as we entered the restaurant, in our very casual clothing and wheeling in front of us a pushchair weighed down with coats and bags, I sensed three reactions:-
  1. Horror.  "Our fancy romantic meal is ruined" they were thinking.
  2. Pity.  "The only way these poor people can eat out is by bringing their children".
  3. Empathy and mild amusement. "What a lovely family.  Cute baby and child. We know/remember what it is like to brave/avoid an outing like this!"
We were made to feel so welcome by the owner and staff of the restaurant that I soon began to care a little less about what the other customers might be thinking. 

The Eight Year Old was on his best behaviour - happily playing with his new 'super hero's and villains trump cards' - and The husband was able to rock The Baby to sleep.  All was well.

Of course, The Baby only slept for around 20 minutes after which our kind waiter swiftly provided a high chair that was a little too big and that The Baby sat in for all of two minutes!  The Husband and me spent the rest of our time there using the well practised 'tag-team approach' - taking it in turns to entertain The Baby and to finish our food...all the while trying to stop The Baby from grabbing cutlery, menus, trump cards, food...

It struck me how little people actually move around in a restaurant once they have been shown to their table so we caused quite a stir with all of our baby-entertaining manoeuvres and created a bit of an obstacle course for the very patient staff.

The Baby drew a lot of attention and charmed his way through the evening. Around 7.30pm he had just about had enough and was getting restless.  I laid him down on a leather bench at the empty table opposite ours so he could have a wriggle around.  No-one seemed to mind although The Husband did point out afterwards that the waiters face had been a picture as he seemed at first to think I was perhaps about to change The Baby's nappy right there in the middle of the restaurant! 

As the volume of The Baby's restless murmurings increased I could be heard hissing over to The Husband "Let's get the bill!  And leave a big tip!!" - much to the amusement of a fellow diner.

As we walked back to our car we congratulated ourselves on a successful family dinner out - our first 'fancy dinner' as a family of four.  It may not have been the most relaxed meal out we've ever had but you y'know what? We felt all sort of warm and fuzzy inside, really happy.  Although that could have been the wine (polished off at top speed) talking ;-)

For anyone wanting to experience what is, in our opinion, the finest restaurant in Sheffield City Centre then pop yourselves over to Gusto's.  We promise that we 'll try to give you some warning if we're planning another family visit anytime soon :)

The food was completely amazing and the staff couldn't have been more lovely or accommodating.  I'm hoping to write up a foody review of our visit that should be appearing on 'Cocoa & Fig' sometime very soon.

    Tuesday, 10 April 2012

    Parents evening #2

    I have spoken before about Parents Evening at The Eight Year Old's School.  It happens once each term.  That's three times in each academic year.  Just before the Easter Holidays began me and The Husband were up at school for the latest update on The Eight Year Old's progress.

    The Eight Year Old's class teacher:  "He's really quite witty isn't he?"

    ...was the opening line of our conversation.

    Me:  "Yes, he certainly has his moments".

    As was confirmed later when we looked through his books and came across this...

    Monday, 9 April 2012

    Easter weekend

    It seems a little odd that I haven't talked about Easter.  So here I am, talking about Easter. 

    As non-church-goers we do very little to acknowledge what is, for some, the significance of Easter. The Eight Year Old has been doing his bit though.  He decided to give up playing on the Wii for Lent .  I wasn't sure what to think when he said he was going to give something up for Lent but he wanted to do it and thought carefully about what to choose.  Chocolate?  No, too hard to live without chocolate.  TV?  No, too boring to live without TV (apparently).

    He had asked me to join him in this idea of giving up something for six weeks but after the two of us went through quite a list of the suggestions he came up with I failed miserably to agree to anything.  I'm more one for all things in moderation  (and sometimes in excess) rather than depriving myself of things I enjoy.  Lent or no Lent.

    I have to saulte The Eight Year Old for his determination.  He found it a bit tricky near the end but he stuck to his decision.  I found it was nice having him more focused on doing other things rather than being 'lost' to the Wii for a a couple of hours here and there.  He is currently away with his Dad for the Easter Weekend and so he is still to get the pleasure of that first 'play' after being so strict with himself.

    With The Eight Year Old not being here with us we did an Easter Egg Hunt with him on Friday - Pirates go a chocolate-treasure hunting....

    I let out a squeal of delight when I discovered The Husband had hidden my favoutite interiors magazine Living Etc amongst the lavender bushes.  He was very pleased with himself with that one (as he should be). Unfortunately, it's going to be tricky for him to win my favour quite so easily in the future as I've recently subscribed.

    Apart from that, and eating our own body weights in chocolate, our weekend continues to focus on DIY and putting our house back together after the recent work we've been having done in an attempt to improve it's condition.   Progress is slow but we're getting there.  If we ever finally 'arrive' at wherever 'there' is, then I'll share the result of our labours with you!

    Friday, 6 April 2012

    Woman on the edge

    And this is why:-

    I'm tired.  Despite going to bed at the same time as The Baby each night - the only way the baby will sleep - usually between 8 and 8.30, I'm still not getting enough sleep.

    We are co-sleeping with The Baby, he sleeps next to me in our bed.  We have a safety rail on the side of the bed.  The Husband sleeps on my other side.  I (sometimes) sleep (badly) between the two of them.

    Usually it's ok.  I tend to shattered by early evening and so falling into bed at the time I do doesn't often bother me.  The desire to sleep distracts me from the fact that I have lost my evenings, that I have no time to myself to switch off at the end of the day. 

    And of course I need to try to fit some sleep in before The Baby wakes up and wants to feed/snack before he will go back to sleep - this will happen anything between 2 and 5 times a night.  These wakings appear to form no pattern from one night to the next.  The Baby doesn't hold the notion of routine in particularly high regard.

    At eight months old I realise The Baby is now most probably taking the micky a bit in his refusal to drift back to sleep without milk.  I know it is mainly my fault.  I've been lazy in 'training' him out of this habit.  Instead, choosing to have an easier life - feed him, let him drop back to sleep, so that I can try to do the same and keep the house quite so as not to disturb The Eight Year Old or The Husband.

    This regular waking pattern isn't helped by the fact that we have all had colds for what must be about six months now.  One cold runs into the next into the next into the next.  It's mainly the perisistant hacking coughs that add so much our nightime disturbances.

    Very occasionally, The Baby will lure me into a false sense of security.  Rather than waking up every two hours he will suddenly sleep for a five or six hour stretch. I will feel a wave of relief and will believe that he is naturally leaning to sleep better.  Thinking that we aren't going to have go through the 'pain' of sleep 'training'.  The next night, reality hits home with The Baby back to his waking every two hours and refusing to settle until he's had his fill of the white stuff.

    Of course, with so much night feeding going on, a middle of the night nappy change for The Baby is also still required. The Baby will usually snooze through this twilight change which is surprising really given that he is usually such a light sleeper.

    The problem I somtimes find is that I struggle to get back to sleep.  Whilst I'm awake feeding or changing The Baby, my mind floods with random thoughts along the lines of..."what will happen when I return to work in a couple of months if The Baby still refuses to drink from a bottle or cup, wanting only me for milk....with the help of our families will we be able to cover childcare or do we eed to find a nursery for The Baby...when will we be able to get the kitchen floor levelled and tiled...will the weather be awful when we go on holiday to the Norfolk Coast in a couple of weeks....what could I eat right now...what colour shall I paint the kitchen...will that lovely old tall boy cupboard fit into the The Eight Year Old eating enough at school at lunchtime..." and then it's difficult to switch off again.

    And so it goes on.  Before I know it I've been awake for a couple of hours and The Baby is stirring again. 

    Herein lies the problem.

    Despite being in bed for up to 11 hours each night I probably only get around 6 hours of broken sleep each night.  And that builds up until I become over-tired,  Less patient.  Bitter.  And a little bit twisted.  I find myself being irritated with The Baby for his unreasonable demands.  I start to resent The Husband for being able to sleep through most of these wakings

    And then I feel guilty.  The Baby knows no other so how can I be irritated with him?  So, I must be a bad Mum.  I often say to The Husband that I'm happy with the arrangement - me doing all this waking and feeding and changing of nappies - because I'm the one on maternity leave, so how can I justify being resentful towards him if I'm giving out mixed messaages?  And The Husband, who's a very 'hand-on' Dad, finds ways to balance things out by enabling me to have a lie-in when I need it or a lengthy soak in the bath. So,I must be a bad wife.

    Of course I know that I'm not a bad Mum or a bad Wife.  If fact, I happen to think I'm really quite ok at these roles.  In fact sometimes, I'm really good at them.   But when you're in need of sleep and feeling drained from five night feeds and a baby who decides to start his day at 5am (thankfully it's usually nearer to 7am) then it's not unreasonable for me to have a the occasional frustrated outburst is it?

    And then, before I know it,  I get a decent night's sleep.  I get a grip.  I feel ok again.  Sleep training?  Maybe we'll put it off a little bit longer...

    Thursday, 5 April 2012

    Snippets of everyday conversation #13 The one about body parts...

    Look away now if you are offended by the word 'penis' or 'vagina'...

    The Eight Year Old:  "We were learning about body parts at school today"

    Me:  "Oh that's good.  Which body parts did you learn about?"

    The Eight Year Old:  "We learnt about personal body parts in this bit"

    He puts one hand on his chest and the other in the mid-thigh area.

    I draw on a vague memory of having read a letter from school about the teaching of sex education.  Only it isn't called that anymore. 

    The Eight Year Old:  "This, on a boy"

    He points to his own 'personal body part'.

    The Eight Year Old:  " called a penis""

    Me:  "Yes.  Yes it is".

    The Eight Year Old:  "And on a girl, the bits are different and they're called..."

    He grapples with trying to remember the word.

    The Eight Year Old:  "On a girl it's called a Venus"

    I hide a smile.

    Me: "A vagina"

    The Eight Year Old:  "Yes, that's it, it's called a vagina.  Both men and women have nipples.  BUT.  Women have these raised bits"

    He helpfully points to my breasts/boobs/insert word of choice.

    Me:  "Yes we do have raised bits".

    The Eight Year Old:  "Boys and men don't have those bits.  But we all have nipples".

    He heads off to play Pirates Lego.


    Apologies to The Eight Year Old if he should ever read this in the future.  It was just too good not to share :)  I love you Eight Year Old.

    Snippets of everyday conversation #12

    The Eight Year Old (when he got home from school yesterday):  "We were painting the book corner at School today.  It's like an underwater scene".

    Me:  "That sounds like good fun.  Are there any fish swimming around?"

    The Eight Year Old:  "Yes, I made a fish.  He looks like Michael Jackson.  He's singing".

    Monday, 2 April 2012


    It is exactly one year to the day that The Husband and I got married. 

    One year since we spoke out loud the vows we had written, declaring our promises to each other in front all those we hold dear.

    So, how have we fared? Have we been true to those promises?  I think we've done ok y'know.  More than ok.  We've done good.  We've done really good.  Especially when you take into account the amount of change we've encountered this year.

     We became a family of four with the arrival of The (beautiful) Baby and The promotion of The (brilliant) Eight Year Old to 'Big Brother'. The Husband volunteered to take redundancy at work so that he could retrain as a Radiographer and began his radiography degree last September.  I've been enjoying a year of maternity leave (a couple of months still to go).  I turned 40 (I may have mentioned this before)!!!!  And we have continued with the ongoing house improvements.

    All of this could have resulted in a very stressful year but it really hasn't been.  Don't get me wrong, we have certainly had our moments, but overall we've come out smiling. 

    Thinking back, I have wonderful memories of our wedding day.  A year ago today we were mostly...

    Declaring our love:

    Drinking cocktails:

    Eating a delicious cream tea:

    Taking some time for ourselves:

    Having a 'secret' first dance:

    Enjoying time with our family and friends:

    The flag came courtesy of one of The Husband's two best men. 
    It was a mock-up royal wedding flag with our faces attached!

     Dancing the night away:

    Having fun with sparklers and sky lanterns:

    As cliched as it sounds, it truly was one of the beet days of my life. 

    And now. hear is a warning - look away now people if you don't want to hear me being mushy, I'm allowed to be mushy today but I promise that my more sceptical, mildly sarcastic self will return tomorrow :)

    Message to The Husband : 

    Happy Anniversary my gorgeousness.  Thank you for making the good days even better and for making the bad days feel ok.  The past year has been packed full of loveliness and fun and a little bit of chaos and ridiculousness :).   I am already looking forward to our next year together.   I love you with all my heart and feel so lucky and happy to have you in my life.  Life is good.  


    All wedding photos by Mark Hills.