Smiling through sadness…

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My beautiful grown up girl had pre school booster injections today. They hurt & as a parent, all you want is to make them feel better. For Mini Pea, we could do that with a coffee shop treat & cuddles. My heart breaks for my Auntie, who cannot do anything to heal her child’s pain. I’m not ready to write about the circumstances yet. I haven’t slept very well recently, I’ve been half expecting a phone call, half trying to calm my anxieties and talk myself down that living positively is not something to feel guilty about but the only way we can keep going forward. 

My children are my life. Today, I had to physically hold my eldest so she couldn’t move while someone injected her which I knew would hurt her. She was so brave, she stayed still and went in the room smiling because she is at an age where she trusts that her parents won’t put her in harm. The pain was a surprise. We’d explained that it would hurt a little bit but that she would need to be brave, that it was to keep her healthy (not really a concept that a three year old can quite grasp) and that we would take her for a treat afterwards. 
And as she cried, I smiled and hugged her, told her I loved her and that it would all be ok. My husband and I took her to our special coffee shop and treated her and by the time she went back to her Grandparents (she spends every Tuesday with her Grandparents) she was smiling and her normal sunny self. Inside however, as soon as I saw her in pain, my heart broke. After we all laughed together in the coffee shop, my mind and heart kept thinking of all parents who can’t heal their children or take away their pain. Specifically I found myself grieving for a family situation in a way I haven’t yet allowed myself to process fully. 

If I could, I would take my younger cousin a hot chocolate, and maybe some BBQ beef super noodles, as when we were kids, both of those things would put a smile on his face. If possible, I would take him on a car journey and put ‘Rhythm is a Dancer’ on loud so we could both throw our heads back laughing as we sang along while my Uncle drove. 

It was such a simple thing that cheered up my precious little girl. Such little things I know could cheer my cousin up. But I can’t make him feel better. The whole family are in anguish knowing that there’s nothing any of us can do. 

Sadly my husband is going through a similar pain, one we share for a close friend of ours going through a similar thing, sadly only slightly behind my cousin. I keep telling him that we must concentrate on positive things to get through the dark and celebrate every day with our family and friends, that living life to the absolute full is the best thing we can do. We’re lucky to be able to visit our friend and will hopefully make a fair few more happy memories. This year has shown us how important it is to make sure friends and family know how important they are, how loved. 

My little girl was brave, and she is now safely tucked up in bed, warm, healthy, safe. I would give my last breath to keep her and her sister that way. I’m still awake now because grief keeps me awake. Grief for two situations I so desperately want to help but know that I can’t. I don’t allow myself to dwell on these negative emotions generally. I’m more of a ‘buck up girl’ until there’s a bit of time to deal with things. I’m not saying that this is a good thing, on the contrary. When things are tough, I tend to make myself busier and busier until eventually it catches up with me. I’m not entirely sure how to deal with things better, it’s a lifelong method that I don’t really know how to change if I wanted to. In some ways, it’s a coping mechanism, in some ways it’s how I’ve achieved done of the things that I have. Anyway, I digress. I hope and pray that I am always able to make both of my girls feel better, I hope and pray I’m always able to make my husband feel better. I hope that the little things can always make a big difference for those I love. There are lots of us in pain because of similar circumstances. 

An old school friend of mine once wrote in a blog ‘live, love and don’t be sorry’. Words and a general sentiment that changed my life in 2013 and have stayed with me ever since her death that year. None of us know what sadnesses and difficulties each other are dealing with behind closed doors. We cannot control what happens to us or our loved ones however much we pray for it in the middle of the night. We can however control how we treat each other. As much as we can, let’s be kind to each other, love each other and make the most of every little thing that brings us joy.

Coughing concern…

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Today we took Moop to the Dr’s. She’s had a cold for almost three weeks now but during this last week, she’s had a cough that’s only been getting worse, especially at night. After listening to her poor little wheezy chest, we’ve been given some antibiotics as well as the same steroids that are found in asthma inhalers to clear it up, hopefully within 48 hours.

As my Dad, my brother, and my husband all have asthma, it’s not particularly surprising that it looks like our youngest has it. With a bit of luck, as is quite common, she may well grow out of it in a few years (she may not have many problems at all). In fact if she takes after the three who have it, she’ll only really notice it after a virus (which will go to her chest) or on the odd occasion where she’ll have to dig out an old inhaler. So all in all, it likely won’t affect her particularly.I called the Dr after the cold had; 1) lasted three weeks and 2) after the cough had gotten worse rather than better; mainly because you get those patronising head tilt questions sometimes when you take a baby to the Dr, “Is this your first?” As if the child has sneezed once and you’ve called an ambulance. With Holly’s rather traumatic pregnancy, I have to admit, my husband and I have to take that extra moment to reassure ourselves if we think she’s poorly. We’re slightly less sure this time round because we’re still on high alert in this first year. Holly is now older than her pregnancy. I was pregnant for just under 8 months and she is now just over 8 months. 

The thing is, I kept myself relaxed by saying ‘you don’t go to the Dr with a cold. Not until it lasts longer than three weeks or if symptoms worsen for goodness sake.’ I said this over and over in my head (whilst maintaining an outward vision of serenity and control of course…!). So when she had a particularly wheezy bout of coughing this morning after a bad night, and I double checked my calendar (as if I didn’t know exactly how many days it had been); I realised that, not only had it been three weeks but her cough was definitely getting worse. And at that point my mindset went from ‘nothing to worry about until…etc’ to ‘God why didn’t I call sooner about this’. In the space of half hour I went from feeling like a neurotic mother to a neglectful one! “My poor baby, this terrible cough, the strained breathing, the wheezing in her chest, HOW did I not call sooner?!” 

As a parent, there is no such thing as finding the balance…you’re definitely wrong, it just depends on which way you are wrong! 

The Dr’s surgery was delayed, so I spent the twenty minute waiting room telling myself I was a terrible parent, and when she coughed I imagined all the other people waiting thinking ‘take that poor child away from that horrible mother, fancy leaving a cough like that till now’. (In hindsight that was perhaps a tiny bit dramatic but everyone looks a bit shifty in a Dr’s waiting room, it’s the nerves and the eery silence, who knows what goes on in those people’s heads!!) 

Anyway, we were called in. And although I’m sure I didn’t, it felt like I sat down and immediately yelled the Dr my excuse about leaving it three weeks because that’s the advice I’d been given with my first, ‘don’t call the Dr for three weeks if it’s just a cold’. He listened to her chest and then came the longest 15 seconds of my life. The only sounds in the room were Holly’s strained and wheezy breathing, I watched the Dr’s face turn from ‘general polite’ , to ‘concentrated concern’. The clocks ticking suddenly sounded insanely loud. 

The Dr then said, ‘no that doesn’t sound pleasant poor little one’. Then he paused.

Oh God oh God oh God oh God.

‘Right, she’s a bit young for an inhaler, but it does seem like asthma. Is there anyone in the family with it?’

I nodded.

‘Ok I’ll write a couple of prescriptions which should clear this up in the next 48 hours, if by he end of this week it’s not cleared up, call us back and we’ll look into sorting an inhaler straight away.’

And funnily enough at no point did he tell me that I was a crappy mother, and at no point did a swat team come bursting in the room to arrest me for neglect. So that was nice.

Parenthood can be punishing, like a lot of the time! And even though I was HUGELY that person who scornfully tutted at ‘neurotic’ parents, I now get that, when it comes to your child, suddenly your imagination becomes your worst enemy. Because yes, these terrible unthinkable incidents are one in a million, but there is no guarantee that yours won’t be that one. We all turn our eyes away for a second, and in that second horrible things can happen. We all dismiss symptoms when 999 out of a 1000 times they mean a cold or generic bug, but there are terrifying things that those ‘harmless symptoms’ can mean in the remaining 1 in 1000 times. 

We were incredibly lucky with the safe arrival of Holly, I know I’ve said it a million times but there were several occasions where we were told things could go wrong, from the very beginning of the pregnancy, we had countless tense waits whilst we saw if she had; 1) implanted on the right side as the other side of my uterus wasn’t strong enough to carry her (I have a bicornuate uterus and my first pregnancy left one side of it too weak to sustain a pregnancy). 2) grown enough when a scan was unclear. 3) whether my deteriorating kidneys would hold out long enough for the pregnancy to last long enough for a healthy arrival. 4) whether the increased severity of epilepsy would lead to a fall or accident. Looking back on it makes me anxious, we were so incredibly lucky to pass all the hurdles. I suppose part of me feels like I got away with it TOO lucky, too unscathed. It puts me on edge! 

Apart from some digestive problems early on for Holly and now some mild asthma symptoms, our two girls are perfectly healthy and I not only touch wood but clutch desperately onto wood and hope beyond hope that that stays the case. Obviously I don’t expect them to never have colds or get into the odd scrape, but those types of things are every parents worst nightmare. The dangers and illnesses around that you have no control over could drive anyone insane if you thought about them too much! 

So I rationalised and called after three weeks when the cough got worse, and kept all the crazy in my head, with just a tiny bit seeping out as I death stared down anyone in the Dr’s waiting room that I thought could be thinking negative things(…!).

My Grandad used to say ‘if you’ve got your health, you’ve got everything’, which I used to disagree with slightly. I always thought, well, clothes and things are quite handy too actually! But now I’m a Mum I understand what he meant. Our girls being ok means EVERYTHING to me. Grandad didn’t necessarily mean HIS health, I think he meant that if his loved ones had their health, he had everything. 

There is no rhyme or reason behind why some children and their families have to go through so much pain. I always wish I could do more to help when a child is ill or hurt. Every parent can empathise, or could do easily be any one of us and we all know it. It’s why we insist on cuddling our loved ones extra tight when we hear about the suffering of others. 

We’ve all escalated things in our heads; illnesses, injuries, the horrible and ridiculous outcomes we play out in our heads when we receive a message that says ‘can you call me’! But it’s not because we’re stupid, or neurotic or weak. It’s because we care, we love, we want to protect. 

So don’t let anyone make you feel bad if you rush your baby to A&E because she’s suddenly screaming in pain (my husband had to hold me back when the Dr dared to look me in the eye and accusingly ask if I was feeding her enough because ‘baby’s cry when they’re hungry’. Bastard!), it will often turn out to be something minor (like minor digestion problems for example!). But on the offchance it’s something more serious, to make ABSOLUTELY sure one of my precious girls is ok, I’ll take my chances with that bloody patronising head tilt anyway! 

Dear daughters…

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A few nights ago, I was feeling particularly sentimental. My husband and I came to the end of an extremely busy month, which had various different high pressure or stressful situations, and we opened a bottle and took some time together to relax. We are very excited about this Christmas, Holly’s first ever and our first as a family of four. Scarlett is at the age where she has started asking quite consistently for ‘more treats’ and ‘I want that’, and we’re trying to teach her that that’s a) not very polite but b) not really what this season is about. 

At two years old, we’re (hoping!) that it’s just a riskier tantrum stage, and certainly several other parents seem to recognise it as a phase all kids go through. I went to bed that night and wrote them a letter. Below is that letter. 

If 2016 has taught us anything, it’s that truly, the unthinkable can ALWAYS happen! Whether it be a presidential election, a referendum or any one of the sad events that have blighted the year. But without sounding like a cheesey cartoon character, good will always prevail. A lot of bad can and will happen, but kindness and magic outnumbers it. It always has and always will, and in uncertain times, it’s even more important to believe, even more important to hold onto.

Here’s to a very happy December to you all dear comrades. I wish you every happiness and an extremely hearty dose of magic! 
“Dear daughters,

Today is the first of December, and your Father and I are both very passionate about December being magical!November has been an extremely busy, hard working, high pressure and stressful one. In a (ridiculously shortened..!) summary, Daddy didn’t have a single day off in November, an already busy month became even busier as it went along and he has been amazing. Girls, I have always been in awe of my husband, admired his work ethic and how well he treats people and this month in particular, those qualities have really shone. You are both extremely lucky to have such a strong role model in your Daddy. It’s kept me going. November for me has also been extremely important. I start Criminology lecturing in January, and I am also working with some amazing people towards increasing healthy communication about mental health for young people, as well as personal safety teaching. A wide remit including how to spot signs of danger, reducing risks, safer choices to make, a whole host of ways for younger people to take preventative measures against crime that will hopefully be incorporated into, at least a few schools. It’s going to be a long, hard slog, but you two girls are the best kind of motivation! You’ve both been at my side for a lot of meetings and countless Skype calls, a local MP told you that you, Scarlett, had a beautiful smile, and you sang Baa Baa Black sheep to him! Moments like that are alongside my research notes to remind me where we started. It may go nowhere of course, I might fail. And if I do, I’ll try again, or I’ll change tact, or I’ll have done all I can and I’ll move onto something else. But failing will be ok.

Anyway, unknown outcomes aside! November 2016 was a busy month for your Father and I. It was very tiring and at times, we were on schedules that didn’t allow for much family time. And you both know how pathetically soppy your parents are when they don’t get to see much of each other and you girls! And we think the Winter season is extra magical, it’s our favourite time of year. 

Last year was a tough one because Mummy and Holly were both so poorly before we even had our little Moop with us. And we weren’t able to deal with it as privately as we wanted to because of circumstances. So THIS year, we are determined to make it extra special! With LOTS of family time, and friends time to boot! 

Scarlett you now understand what Christmas entails and you are SO excited! We were in Bath the other day and you loved seeing Father Christmas in the streets and we picked up some Christmas gloves and a homemade wooden owl that makes an owl sound when you blow into it. You loved it! Our main goal this year is to try and make sure that you learn that kindness and good will and sharing are the most important messages in December. I know that you’re a kind hearted little Ladey though so although a toddlers will is very strong, I’m positive your generous heart will win this stage! And our little Holly! It is your very first Christmas! The bright lights are obviously attracting your attention, and you are finding your big sisters excitement very infectious. 

We’ve started our annual activity calendar so you’ve both gone to bed tonight in new Christmas Star Wars pyjamas, and tomorrow we’re going to a very special Christmas show. Both of which have cost money (although we have plenty of shows we can attend free thanks to Daddy’s work!) but that isn’t the point. Annual activity calendar is about spending time with friends and family. The first year I did it, my family in Australia took part and we sent each other pictures and videos. And since then, December has been one of the ways we catch up with people who mean the world to us but that we don’t get to see as often as we’d like.

I’m currently watching ‘Once Upon A Time’, an American series for adults but about fairy tales. It’s funny, but it’s reminded me that adults should believe in magic. It’s important to. There have been days I haven’t wanted to believe in magic, or people (which is where magic comes from really girls, it’s from people) and I’ve felt frustrated, and angry, and have wondered why I’m putting the work in. But every time, I’ve taken some time out to breathe, or (more often than not!), your Dad has reminded me what’s important in a whole different manner of ways. And without fail, things are always ok. And I’m constantly reminded that giving in and taking the easy route is never worth it. What can seem like the hardest path at the time, always seems to get us where we need to be! And yes, of course a cheesey series has the same message. For someone who can be so practical at times, both your parents can be laughably sentimental! So there have been times I’ve gone to meetings with certain character pants on to remind me to think of magic when I’m faced with middle aged men who, in a meeting, have patronised me and put hurdles in my way or have suggested that ‘as a young woman’ I would find my goals more difficult. And on particularly tough days, I’ve made a dinner of turkey dinosaurs, smiley faces and spaghetti hoops for us to indulge in childhood comforts as a morale boost. A mug of hot chocolate with squishy cream and mini marshmallows also works a treat. There’s magic in the little things, magic works! 

We are planning to make December 2016 our best Christmas yet. Our family of four is complete, safe and well. And I hope our families friends and family also have an amazing holiday season. God knows with the way 2016 went, the entire planet could do with a short break! And then, ok still a Trump presidency, but hopefully a slightly less challenging 2017 for all! We were very lucky in 2016 to have our Moop join us healthy and safe, you are a shining star in an otherwise pretty terrible year worldwide (history lessons when you’re both older will certainly be interesting when they get to 2016!). 

But, my sweethearts, as I said, magic is in people, and in December, it shines that little bit brighter, and we all have a bit extra to be able to help people for whom Christmas is particularly hard. You two make our December the shiniest it’s ever been. We love you very much and I hope you always remember to be kind, to help others and to give back, not just at Christmas time but all year round. I have no doubt you both will.

We love you very much xx”

Suspicious Silence…

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Short post today, but I had to share, I feel like parents everywhere will understand why this moment feels momentous.

I am…in the middle of a day out with both girls, sitting in a coffee shop, casually…CASUALLY enjoying my iced latte. With no screams, it’s not half spilt down my top as I try and juggle them both. Because, BECAUSE! And I can’t believe I’m saying this…they are BOTH asleep, at the SAME TIME!!! For, I thin, the first time ever.

I’m just sat here, latte in hand, I’m sipping it for crying out loud, like some carefree 20 something! I would have brought a book but WHAT PARENT EVER TAKES A BOOK SOMEWHERE THEIR CHILDREN WILL BE?!! If it wasn’t such a hot day, I’d be finishing a horrible while it still hot, this is the extent of this madness. I’ve written this whole passage without interruption, except to bloody sip my drink!!

To all the parents out there, it IS possible, and when it happens, take.in.every.second.

What a feeling…I don’t know what to do with myself…

….I think I might be bored. I’m not really prepared for an unscheduled bit of me time.

…we were having such a fun day as well.

…I sort of miss them.

…maybe I’ll just nudge the baby a bit…!image

End of an Era…

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I’m back to work today, which sounds a bit odd as between my ‘maternity leave’ of Jan to June, I have; helped set up & run auditions for a Summer tour, worked on said Summer tour, assisted in rehearsals for said Summer tour, continued the admin for our family company, fulfilled secretarial duties for the Stage Combat organisation I work for, and had various meetings for my return to work! Taking care of two children under two is a full time job in itself so it’s not exactly been the quietest of maternity leaves! 
However, a lot of the above roles I can do at 3.30am while feeding the baby, or at least keep on top of on my phone while I see Justin pop up on every kids show ever made (seriously…it’s not like there’s a shortage of actors!). I will now have an additional 15-25 hours that are slightly more structured, hours I will have to work personal things around rather than being able to do them when most convenient. 

Most of all it seems like the end of an era. My husband and I decided to have a small age gap between our children so that I took time off over one bigger stage rather than interrupting work twice. It meant that we’d ‘allotted’ ourselves a few years for ‘having babies’! We were lucky that it worked out as planned, I know that for thousands of couples it’s not the case. And it’s been a really hard few years. Really hard. We underestimated and we were pretty prepared! We had no idea my epilepsy would come back, we had no idea my kidneys would get so close to failing completely and the sleepless nights combined with our hectic lifestyle meant that we were burning the candle at both ends and then lighting matches aimed at the middle as well! We’ve worked out that in total, we spent over £600 on hospital car park fees within a 4 month period (one of our more depressing maths sessions..!) and I spent a total of 40 days in hospital. It has been, without a doubt, the hardest time of our lives. We have cried together, laughed together, and at times we thought we were going to be mourning together. But between December 2013 and June 2016, our main focus has been beginning our family and dealing with all that came with it. And on July 1st 2014, and then again on March 19th 2016, we had two of the happiest days of our lives when we welcomed our two beautiful baby girls into the world.

Holly is only three months old, but the act of going back to work makes it feel like the end of that particular section of our lives. It will not by any means that life will be easy from here on it, on the contrary, we now have two young kids!! And then they’ll grow and become teenagers! And then they’ll be adults and we’ll have to hope we did the best job we could so they can go off and have lives of their own *gulp* excuse me while I swallow back tears! 

I can so clearly remember a conversation with my husband in December 2014 when we were staying at his Mum and Dads house because we didn’t have our own place, and we had NO idea what it meant to be parents. We were sat on the bottom bunk (seriously, we really did not have our crap together) and we were looking down at this blotch that looked like a weather report (that we were assured was our soon to be child!) eyes wide. We held each other’s hand and said ‘let’s do this’! And it genuinely feels as if we’re still gripping each other’s hand tight and that after today, we’ve come to the end of that stage. The brand new/creating life/meeting a new member of the family stage. I wouldn’t want to go back in time, I’m excited for the times to come. But I do envy those who have those times still to experience. To those thinking of embarking on it, know this, there is NO perfect time, it will be the hardest and most emotional time of your life and you will question yourself at least twenty times a day. The only thing you can be sure of is that you don’t know what you’re doing, and I suspect never will again!

If I sound dramatic it’s because it is, a dramatic, traumatic, emotional and ridiculous time. That time for us continues but today we poke our head above the barricade. We return fully to the life we had before children but with two tiny humans in tow. 

Until both my children are at school, our plan is that I will not work at my main job full time. Truth is, with everything else I have on, I don’t have enough hours in the day to go full time anyway. But my main role is no longer ‘new Mum’. It’s exciting, but sad. It’s terrifying, but rewarding. I left behind part of the real world in December 2013, and I’m now heading back to it! Every Mum feels the same. Even stay at home Mums experience that ‘coming up for air’ moment when you get glimpses of life before delving head first into have a child. 

I’ve had some lovely messages, and even some cards from people, mainly other Mums who get that it’s a big deal for me. My husband and I have a bottle of red wine with our names on it ready for this evening (although as he had emergency dental work this afternoon, probably just the half glass of red will suffice for him!!). 

We’re going to toast me going back to work, but more importantly we’re going to toast those two young people in their late twenties, holding hands on that bunk bed who made it. We sit here almost three years later in our own house, which we love, with two healthy, happy children…still not with our crap together but at least now we understand that’s how it works!! I’d love to be able to go back in time and give those two people a cuddle, a quick wink and a ‘you’re going to do fine!’ But I can’t, but I CAN give the same to anyone about to embark on the same journey, or thinking about it, or finding themselves on that path without necessarily meaning to head that way. Even if you’re doing it alone, with a partner or with an entire village worth of people helping, you’ll get through amazingly in a way only you could.

It will be a while before you come back to the real world, that’s what becoming a parent does for you. And it will be unimaginably difficult at times. But you WILL be fine, you’ll do great and although it doesn’t feel like it sometimes, it absolutely IS all worth it! I’m at the end of my era, and I’ll be sad to see it go, I’ll cherish the memories and enjoy making a scrapbook with all the millions of our ‘behind the scenes’ photos that we’ve kept for ourselves. 

I’m back to work and best of all, not at all ready for what’s next! 

A New Baby, The Sequel!

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Good afternoon dear friends and comrades! I hope your week is going well and you all have exciting plans this weekend (and I count things like zip lining AND things like sitting on the sofa in pyjamas with a takeaway as equally exciting!). For myself and my husband, we both have some work on, a family meal to attend and we’ll try and get in some sofa slouching as well at some point.

I am feeling much better, and am starting to re-emerge back into the real world. The antibiotics have finally done their job and I in the meantime am waiting for my kidneys to be put through some more tests to get them sorted on a more permanent basis. Now a few family members and close friends guessed. After all, a kidney infection is something I’ve had before at quite a specific time. Likewise, it seemed odd to some of my friends in the medical profession that I was given such weak antibiotics when clearly a stronger drug would have been a better option. 

I thought it would be harder to keep a secret, and as we were high risk and going through a difficult time health wise, I was worried about people guessing and then heartbreak following. HOWEVER, the ‘benefit’ of being so poorly is that I’ve barely seen anyone over the last month and a half! Much easier to keep a secret!

So what is this secret I’m alluding to? 

Scarlett is going to be a big sister!

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Yes indeed, our little family of three is expecting a fourth player at the beginning of April next year and we have recently had our 12 week scan to confirm that baby is healthy and strong, if anything, significantly healthier than I am at the moment!!

We are extremely excited and after a worrying first trimester, we are looking forward to a *fingers crossed* smoother ride from here till delivery day although I’m sure it will have it’s own ups and downs to provide! 

And I have a confession to make, when I blogged to say I was continuing my blog…we knew we had a little bun brewing in the oven! So I’m looking forward to seeing how this pregnancy compares with my last, how having number two compares to having number one, and how Scarlett will react to the new addition! One things for sure, I won’t get as many nap times as I did last time!! And when I was younger the idea that I would one day run upstairs with a toddler under my arm to then sit her in an empty bath whilst I vomit was not something I pictured! However, luckily Scarlett not only isn’t bothered, she finds the visual hilarious! If only I could find it quite as entertaining! 

Like last time we’ve managed to be moving house when I’ll be roughly four months pregnant again, only this time we’ll also have a toddler to negotiate! Unlike last time, I’m not due to be on stage at seven months pregnant but I do have a couple of work trips abroad! All in all, I’m sure it’ll be chaotic, fun, ridiculous and a wonderful roller coaster! 

As with the last time, any tips of having a second child will always be welcomed, as well as your stories and anecdotes! It is not true that having a second child means you’re a more experienced parent, you’re an amateur all over again about to embark on the journey of multiple children! So it’s back to square one on the learning curve for us and we look forward to everything this time has to offer! 

One and Onward…

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So, I don’t think I’ve quite dealt with the fact that Scarlett is now officially one! And technically that means my blog is at an end. I’ve started and stopped ‘the final post’ about seventeen different times and each time I get emotional and can’t finish it. In the meantime, blog topics come and go without being written because of my self imposed timeline cut off!

I have therefore made the decision that at least for now the blog will continue. When I started, in my head I clearly thought that by the time Scarlett was one, I would know what I was doing/have parenting sussed out and wouldn’t have any need for a blog. How wrong I was! The bumpy ride of a first time mother begins when that stick shows two lines & I suspect now that it continues forever!

I temporarily abandoned my post comrades as I delayed what I thought was the inevitable, and for anyone that was following along the journey and had noticed the gap, my apologies. I missed you! Sincerely.

For our little girls birthday we did a bit of a two parter. One weekend in Brighton where my family are based but to maximise our time there, we invited our Gloucestershire family to join us so a big group of us Shire-lings had a day out in Brighton on the Saturday, we had a big dinner that evening & we all spent Sunday on the beach & in my Dads back garden playing about with water guns. We brought a caterpillar birthday cake and weren’t sure whether to be proud or a bit horrified when in the middle of singing ‘Happy Birthday’, Scarlett tore the head off and put it straight into her mouth! In fact that whole weekend she was treated to such a large amount of ice cream and cake we felt like the following Monday was the start of a sugar rehab program..!

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Anyway, part two was a couple of weeks later in her hometown, we had a nice lunch and took a trip to a nearby Cotswold village where we all melted as July 1st this year was the hottest day of the year so far, any British readers will sympathise that a 35 degree day is quite a day to get through without air conditioning! Anyone from hotter climes will mock our discomfort but we are just not used to it! It was a lovely quiet day as my husband and I reminisced on the day we spent the year before and all we felt during that first day! We also had a small family BBQ and our little girl in general was predictably spoilt by her four Grandparents!

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It certainly does mark a huge landmark in our baby’s life. She is now officially a one year old! We have one year experience of being parents. And we’re still on the job learning.

So although I had planned to write a fond farewell (and ride off into the sunset with my advanced qualifications perhaps..?!), I instead sign off tonight with a big cuddle for all of you who like me, still have no idea what’s going on despite our year in the field!

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Scarlett is one and I am still very much an unqualified mother on a journey! To the next stage dear friends!

Refreshing Reminiscing…

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There are sometimes moments in life that prove that however ‘grown up’ your life becomes, we are all still, eternally, children at heart! Our day today consisted of filming a music video in Brighton, which already says something about our chosen lifestyle. However, if possible (we’re filming with a personal hero of ours today so it was already at an extremely high level of happiness!) the day reached new, dizzying heights of joy, when we went into a ‘Happy Shopper’.

Bear with me, the good news isn’t simply, we went into a newsagents, we’re excitable people but not quite that easily pleased…

ANYWAY, regular readers will know that my husband and I met aged 5 and 6 respectively and had a quarrel over a classic 80’s/90’s drink, ‘Twist and Squeeze.’ These drinks weren’t particularly healthy and contained quite a lot of additives, as such, although my Mum would buy them (I didn’t like fizzy drinks and otherwise only drank water so Mum allowed me this one ‘vice’!) not many other parents would. Consequently, I was a bit of a neighbourhood dealer, heading up to the village green with a load stuffed in my backpack! My favourite flavour was blue (I’m not sure what ‘blue’ was supposed to be, I never really questioned it…) and the occasion in which my future husband and I both wanted the last blue one is one of my very favourite anecdotes about how we came to know one another.

The drink was sadly banned (sadly for me, nutritionally it was terrible that it was ever available..!) and Twist and Squeeze was no longer in my life. Luckily, my husband and I connected on a deeper level than soft drink preference all those years later, and we somehow continued despite the gaping hole that Twist and Squeeze inevitably left in it’s absence.

However, coming back to today, we wandered into the Happy Shopper with high spirits. As I perused the fridge shelves for a snack I felt my other half’s hand grip mine…

“Don’t look behind you.”

Thinking I was perhaps being protected from witnessing some horrendous crime I froze. And then I saw the glint in his eye, something good was happening, something was exciting!

“Turn around.”

I obeyed and my eyes eagerly scanned the facing shelves, cans of drink, cartons of Um Bongo, standard newsagent stock, I couldn’t work out what he was referring…oh no wait…and then I saw it. A glimmer of emerald green, a familiar plastic shape, but it had been banned, it couldn’t be…

…it bloody was!!!!

Twist and Squeeze!!!!

Exactly the same, except the branding was now ‘Squeeze It’, the ingredients had much fewer chemicals and the flavour was apple. Still, it was definitely Twist and Squeeze. It was like welcoming an old friend. An old friend you hadn’t seen in twenty years. It was a really exciting and wonderful moment that took us back to the first time we met. For me personally it was like reliving a slice of my childhood, even down to the shop; we used to visit a Happy Shopper round the corner from my Nan and Grandads when I was little, I hadn’t been in one for years.

The rest of the day was awesome, we were working with a personal hero on his new music video and had a great time together. But that moment, the moment we saw that piece of shared history (I know I know, all this over a bleeding kids drink, what can I say, I’m very theatrical!) reminded me just how much we’re still children at our core. The best things in life are free is very much a cliche, but it’s very true (well strictly it was 45p, and technically we bought 11 so I’ll let you do the maths!) but today we spent the entire day having that proved.

Scarlett will have a whole set of new things that will accompany her youth and hopefully when she’s an adult, she’ll keep that spirit alive and always find the joy in things that remind her of her past. Perhaps things with less additives and harmful chemicals than the eighties but all the same…

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Decisions, decisions…

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This week we had a rather special event; regardless of how many children we go on to have, Wednesday was the only time that it was the first time to go for a 20 week scan. We saw our little bean on the screen and understood…I’m going to say 50% of what was said and seen(!) and we also chose to find out the gender, we’re expecting a baby girl!

Now the gender question seems to be a popular discussion point and my husband and I seem to be on the side of the minority with most of our friends opting not to know until the birth. Firstly, I should point out that we would have been thrilled with either bit of news. So some have queried, if we’re not bothered, why find out? We’ve been adamant from the beginning that when we could know, we would know, I’m not even sure we can explain why. Being very naturally inquisitive, I find it difficult to understand why people wouldn’t know if they could know. I know that there is a always a margin of error and we could well find ourselves with a little boy in July that was maybe just a little bit camera shy or good at using his angles to stay a surprise! But that won’t affect our happiness in any way, we are so excited to meet our little one; but for now, we feel we can bond a bit more because we can say ‘she’ and not ‘it!’

A close friend of mine is 6 weeks ahead and they opted not to know and that’s fine, I know it’s a popular choice. And I know that as the number of children increases, the choice to discover the gender also increases; especially if you have three girls and want to know if you’re finally adding a boy to the brood! But I think it just shows from the very beginning, we all see having children very differently, and why the hell not? Ignoring religious, cultural and medical differences, we are all completely different as individuals, which makes us completely different parents. There is no definitive handbook, there are no legal qualifications to have children and that makes for very rich and varied generations, which is great. 

I’ve said before, every parent does the best job they know how to do and the marvel we have already found of pregnancy is realising more than ever that as Mum and Dad (or Mum and Mum, Dad and Dad, just Dad, just Mum, Mum and close friend, Grandparents or whoever is forming the child raising team, love is love…although that’s a blog entry for another day!) you are a team, more than ever before and you have 9 months to come up with as solid a plan as possible for a stable, happy healthy environment for your child. 

I know that for my husband and I, creativity and allowing the child to be who they dream of being is very important to us. (I’m ignoring the obvious things, such as keeping the child safe, healthy and happy as every parent wants that for their child) Likewise, we want to enable them to be able to experience as much of life as possible. We are not 9-5 Monday to Friday office people and if our children want to be, we will support them; but whilst we have more of a say, we will try to help them see every opportunity possible to make sure that when they’re old enough to make their decisions, they can make a decision confident that they know what they want from life. 

Don’t get me wrong, we are not naive enough to not realise that financial restrictions will affect what we are able to offer for our children; and that for a lot of parents, they’d love to allow their kids to learn 12 different instruments, but that means paying for 12 different instrument lessons which is impossible to do. I myself tried lots of different things as a child, and after 5 minutes used to move onto the next fad, my poor parents bought a flute and a violin that I’m pretty sure got used maybe three or four times. But we’ll certainly do our best (and hope our daughter isn’t as fickle as I was!)

From the day you find out you’re expecting a child, you begin to make decisions that will affect the rest of their lives, which at first seems like a mammoth responsibility, because it is! It’s a whole human being, under, for at least quite a few years, your control. But it’s why I think it’s really important not to stress over those decisions, you’ve just got to go where those decisions take you, make the most of them, learn from the inevitable mistakes you make and help them grow up to do the same. 

So we decided to find out what gender we are expecting, and quite a few disagree with that choice, and that’s absolutely fine. I’m sure it won’t be the last parenting decision we make that others won’t think we’ve done wrong! And with that magical benefit of hindsight, we’ll probably think a lot of our decisions are the wrong ones as well! And the variety of opinions is a good job really, if everyone always did the same, what a boring life we would all lead and there’d be no reason to talk to anyone, you’d know exactly what they were doing! But like with everything in life, it does go to show that everyone is different, but that respect for other people’s views is not only very important (much more important than it seems to be regarded, especially with the horrendous trend of people bullying online, or the horrible way people talk to each other when hidden by being online these days) but absolutely necessary. With a melting pot of views, we are all lucky enough to have a whole host of options, opinions and information, you only have to look in your local book shop to see how much information there is on parenthood (seriously, if you haven’t already, have a quick look, it’s overwhelming!)

But whatever you decided at your scans and beyond, 1) congratulations on your bundle of joy, 2) feel free to add your opinion, I’m genuinely interested to know the varying viewpoints across the country and beyond and 3) now you’ve made that decision, there’s no stopping you, we’re all in this together now! Good luck comrades!