Tuesday, 25 September 2012

What to do on a rainy day?

Crikey, is it me or has autumn come around quickly? One week we were at the beach paddling happily in the shallows and applying Factor 50 as if our lives depended on it, and now here we are holed up at home with the rain trickling down the window panes while my beautiful hanging baskets take a right royal battering by the wind. I can see them now, two bright orange and yellow pendulums swinging about like a pair of Pat Butcher's earrings.
So here it is again, the conundrum of how to keep a toddler occupied when the sky is tumbling down outside. Thankfully, all our groups have started back after the summer so most weekday mornings are filled going to church halls or the local swimming pool, but what to do with the afternoons, or on a day with nothing in the diary?
Painting, stickers, playdough are the obvious choices. Activity Village www.activityvillage.co.uk is a wonderful resource for crafty ideas. Nursery rhymes and making music is good too. Baking flapjacks is great if my little helper is up for some serious oats and honey stirring and we love eating the fruits of our labour. Telly of course is an option, but always with the added guilt that there must be something more inspiring and educational we should be doing instead (although I am in the camp that TV can be both of these).
Playdates with other mums are ideal as you get to put the world to rights over a cuppa while your little ones learn to socialise and share toys (or not).
Soft play centres are an option although the hassle of driving to our closest one and knowing it will be chock-a-block always puts me off a bit (do any of you 30-somethings remember the kids' telly show Chock-A Block? Now that was perfect rainy day entertainment).
So there are my options and they've got to last all winter. Having written them down, the list seems pretty long although when one activity can only last ten minutes before his interest begins to wane, I need all the ideas I can get. Any other suggestions gratefully received. Now where's that cookie cutter?

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

The day I miscarried

Mother's Day, March 18th this year, was not a good day. I had been expecting to spend it with the little man and his daddy. A trip to the park perhaps, or lunch out. Instead while they were downstairs playing, I was upstairs having a miscarriage. On Mother's Day. As Alanis Morissette so eloquently put it, how ironic.
I had been bleeding for about a week before that and, concerned, we had arranged for an early scan. Looking back, I should have known the outcome before the technician gently told us. Without noticing, I had slowly stopped feeling pregnant. I love brocolli but can't stand even the smell of it when pregnant. I was eating it again, and the feelings of sickness had gone. But still it was a shock. I was coming up to nine weeks into the pregnancy and we were excited. I had even fished out some of my old maternity clothes.
Although it was early days, I had decided to tell family and friends our happy news and, despite now having to break it to them that things hadn't worked out, I knew my decision had been the right one. It was exactly as I had wanted it to be - I was going through this loss and I didn't want friends to ask how I was and have to reply with the usual "Oh fine" when I was anything but. I am not saying I was distraught - it was early, it happens to so many - but I was sad and disappointed. So very disappointed. And it helped being able to talk about it. I discovered I wasn't alone, by any means. Many revealed that they had been through the same, which was a comfort, especially as they had gone on to have more children.
And that is my main concern. We have a son. We love having a son and we want more like him. Having got so far only to have it taken away, the urge to be pregnant, to feel sick, to start hating my greens and to have the bump I was so looking forward to welcoming back again, is stronger than ever.
I was waiting to tell my story, hoping for the happy ending of a burgeoning belly to round it off nicely, but actually that isn't the point. The reason for sharing this isn't about future pregnancies but so that someone might read this who is going through the same thing and they will know that they are not alone. A fellow mummy blogger revealed a similar story and is now 30 weeks pregnant. That is the kind of shared story that lifts my spirits if they need lifting. I hope, one day, I can pass on the favour.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Resting mummys make ideal hiding places

I love the different phases toddlers go through. Where once Postman Pat was in his every thought and he simply couldn't get through the morning without his fix from Greendale, now Zingzillas are the big favourite (shame, I miss Pat). His love of books, once voracious and all-consuming, has dwindled too replaced with an obsession with music and musical instruments. Trumpets, bassoons, timpani, you name it, he knows it. My son can spend a good twenty minutes happily marching around playing a clothes peg like a tiny flute, loudly tooting away and holding it in the right position and everything.
The latest craze is hide and seek and I'm not talking the simple delights of peekaboo (which still gets a good laugh after all this time), this is full-on hiding objects, useful everyday objects, wherever he can snaffle them away.
After a day of play and with the little man tucked up in bed, probably dreaming about Zingzillas, I always carry out a fast and efficient sweep of the living room, clearing away kiddy things and transforming it into a grown ups-only haven for the evening. His daddy and I take great pleasure in heaving aside the footstool and reaching far under the sofa to see what treasures have been secreted away. If we want to turn on the telly, we don't reach over to the coffee table for the remote, we go on all fours and retrieve it from under the armchair.
Yesterday, while the little man was busy pretending to play the oboe with a plastic clip I usually use for keeping opened bags of nuts and whatnot fresh, I made the mistake of lying flat on the carpet next to him, just for a quick rest (these little ones can be tiring you know). Before I knew it, I felt a little hand gently pushing a rather hard and uncomfortable object in the small gap between my back and the floor. Pretty soon, I was providing a pretty effective hiding place for one plastic clip, a couple of small wooden shapes and the stereo remote control.
Since becoming a mum, I have been many things - an expert nappy changer, the only comfort for a grazed knee, a substitute horsey for riding around on, and now it seems I am the perfect hiding place. Serves me right for lying down on the job.
Must go, got a pile of wet washing that needs sorting. Now, where are all my clothes pegs?

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Can you take a picnic to a restaurant?

I rarely take the little man clothes shopping. Like most men, he is not keen on retail therapy so it is usually best to go solo but last week I realised I hadn't bought any new underwear since said toddler arrived on the scene which is really rather enbarrassing, so to the shops we went. I presuaded my mum to come along for back up (she didn't need much arm twisting really, what with shopping and her grandson being her two most favourite things) and off we went the three of us on a mission to buy some pants.
After an hour of very satisfying credit card bashing - Marks & Spark's Per Una Perfect Fit Comfort bras and undies may not sound very sexy but turned out to be, like all the best marriages, the perfect combination of sexy and comfyness - we headed to their restuarant for a bowl of soup each and a cuppa.
As grandma queued, I got the little man set up in his high chair and started unwrapping his lunch. As I spread out all his favourites in front of him - cream cheese sandwich, avocado, grapes, smoothie - a large man in an M&S uniform plus apron and cap approached and told me that I couldn't bring food into the restaurant. I was completely stunned. It hadn't even occured to me that toddler food would be a no-no. I have been doing it since he was weaned and never batted an eyelid. I quickly explained the mini picnic in front of me was for my son not me, and pointed to my mum who was busy arranging bowls and pots of tea onto a tray. He wavered for a second, unsure of his ground, and I was just about to tell him I was going to feed my child and he could just try and stop me (the thought of snatching back the half eaten sandwich from his little hands would have been too much to bear) when he relented and moved on.
Now I can completely see his point of view - I had brought a lot of food for the little man and it must have looked at first glance like I might be about to happily start munching away with him, although I think it only takes a bit of common sense to work out what was really going on - and it did make me pose this question: at what age does it become unacceptable to bring food for your child into a restaurant? He is only two and to me that seems fine. By three, perhaps not? They did have kiddies' lunch packs which probably would have been fine for him but it is so much easier to bring along something I know he will tuck into and when I am out and about having a good time, I don't want the hassle of trying to tempt him to eat food he doesn't like or is unsure of.
Perhaps I will just have to keep doing it until I am finally chucked out of the restaurant in disgrace. Until then, happy picnicking.