Welcoming Baby Malachy to Jugglehood

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There are moments of peace and quiet, the baby settled and Lylah enjoying playing with something for more than 20 seconds.

There are moments where the screaming from both of them is so loud I literally don’t know who to deal with first.

There are moments full of love and overwhelming happiness, where my little family is all together, cuddling on the bed, giggling and playing, and most importantly, not crying.

There are moments when everything is so chaotic that pulling my hair out seems like the only reasonable option.

This is day 6 after Chris going back to work, although today doesn’t count, as he has a day off.  But days 1-5 have been…interesting.

I should firstly officially give my baby boy a Jugglehood announcement.  Baby Malachy Christopher Boyd arrived with us on 30th April 2015, at 12:14am.  He is absolutely wonderful, and if you’d asked me in the first 2 weeks (funnily enough while Chris was still at home with us), then everything was going swimmingly, and I was finding the whole experience of 2 children surprisingly calm.

I have been feeling great, he is feeding really well and gaining weight, he is sleeping between feeds with very little fuss and Lylah responded really well to our new addition and adores her “baby brudder”.  Then Chris went back to work…

To start with, things were going well.  I’ve basically worked out that as long as one is a) asleep or b) occupied for more than 5 minutes, then I can deal with the other one.  It’s the needing me both at the same time scenario that I’m not quite sure how to deal with!  It can’t be that hard, I know a lot of people with 2 or more babies, and they all make it look so easy!

I can deal with the night feeds, I can deal with the tiredness, I can cope with the 2-3 hour feeds, I can even cope with the reality that with baby number 2, there is no going back to bed after their early morning feed while they sleep on, because of a certain two year old shouting for their Weetabix!  But I am struggling to manage the double screaming episodes.  The tantrumming toddler (who has become so defiant since daddy’s return to work that I feel stupid for thinking that she had adapted to the whole scenario like a dream) VS the new addition (who is so cute and cuddly that it surprises  me when he screams so loud and shrill that it hurts my ears).

The first episode occurred on day 1 of daddy’s return to work.  Lylah needed a bath, but I didn’t have the time to give her the whole bath time fun we normally have, so we opted for a quick shower while Malachy was settled in his chair watching the fun.  She went in okay, but then the showering fun turned quickly into the mother of all tantrums when she refused to have her hair washed.  Amidst this tantrum consisting of throwing herself around the slippery shower tray and crying so hard she was starting to cough and choke, the baby started to scream.  Just out of the blue, no real justifiable reason that I could see or think of, just screaming.  This made me panic beyond reason, as my instinct was to go to him and calm him down.  But then I had the realisation that if I did this I would be doing a couple of things.  1) Lylah would probably slip and injure herself and 2) I would be going straight to him when Lylah was clearly in need of the attention.  Agree or not with giving your attention to a tantrumming toddler, but in the time when a new sibling has been introduced to the environment they are used to, I have felt that ignoring her tantrums may have a longer lasting negative effect.

Anyway, I had to leave Malachy to cry, which was hard, but he was strapped into his chair and I could see that he was safe, and I managed to calm Lylah down.  The miracle was that as I was sorting Lylah out, Malachy just stopped crying and fell back to sleep!  And then it was all fine and calm again.

These daily blips are, I suppose, only to be expected, but they have increased my stress levels and I’ve noticed that in 5 days, my grey hair count has gone up.

But with time, this will be a breeze.  2 children?  Easy…she says!

Welcome to Jugglehood, Malachy Boyd.  I’ve got a feeling this is going to be fun!

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Driving Me Potty

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Yesterday marked one week of full time potty training for us.  Lylah is 2 and 3 months (nearly), and we felt like she was more than ready.  My nan has always told me that most kids are ready around the age of 2 and 3 months, which is very specific, but seemed to be right in our case.

We probably could have started a little while back, but when you’re a working mummy, juggling a toddler, a job, pregnancy and twenty million other things, with your child being transported all over the place for various childcare, there isn’t enough consistency in their daily routines to get it done properly.

In my opinion, there is no right age, or right way to toilet/potty train.  The strongest sign for me was that Lylah started to tell us, not all the time, but she did enjoy the occasional sit on the loo, so we didn’t want to miss the wee wee boat.

I’ve got some friends who started this process months ago, and some who haven’t started yet, some who went straight to loo, and some who didn’t.  The truth is, that you HAVE to not only work out what’s best for your child’s life, but also for yours.  For me, I wanted the ‘training’ experience for Lylah to be one on one with me, taking her through the process, and doing it in a short time.  In order to do this, Lylah needed to be able to communicate effectively for the task, be able to follow simple instructions, and do little things like pull down her own pants and trousers.

I’m not a follower nor a fan of Gina Ford usually, but her book, potty training in one week, makes a lot of good points.  I followed it pretty much to the tee, and (I think) I can safely say, that after one week, Lylah is pretty much there.  Yes, she will have accidents, like two days ago when she hid inside her wardrobe and wee’d on her shoes, and there will be times when she just doesn’t make it in time, but on the whole, she’s telling me when she needs it, and against Gina’s advice, we’ve even ventured out a bit this week, and Lylah has been fine and kept up the good work.

Poos are a little more difficult, and it’s hilarious how your child finally sitting down and producing one outside of a nappy can make you feel immensely proud.  It’s also brilliant how talking about weeing and pooing all the time makes you slightly obsessed about the subject.  Our group of mummy friends are sharing pictures and stories of our potty training progress, a true, stick together approach to the task!

The first morning was a complete disaster.  I was keeping a log (tee hee) of Lylah’s movements, and after her first accident, Chris completed the log with the line “complete failure in the lounge as Lylah wee’d all over the sofa” (on towels might I add, I’m not that stupid).  I was so disheartened by three accidents in a row plus a poo in her brand new sparkly pants, that I rang my mum and told her I didn’t think Lylah was ready.  I was taking her to to the toilet every half an hour, which Lylah hated.  My mum made the good point that training her should be about her telling me when she needs to go, and she needs to have accidents to realise this.  So I chilled out a bit, and by tea time, she was telling me.  After 2 days we had 3 days straight where she was completely dry, including an afternoon at my mums.  We’ve had the odd accident since, it’s only been a week after all, and I’m sure there are many to come, but I’m incredibly proud of our little girl.

I was petrified to start this process, the whole thing seemed completely mind baffling not to say stressful, but now we’re past the starting post, I am confident that my little girl has turned a corner and is going strong.  My best piece of advice is to listen to your child, watch for when they’re ready, and don’t be disheartened if they’re not.  It’s not a race, let them lead you and let nature take its course.

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50 Shades of Poop

So…if you were desperate to see Fifty Shades of Grey, then you probably have by now, so it’s unlikely that me telling you not to bother is going to save you 2 hours of your life.

However, if you haven’t, really don’t bother!

I don’t know why i am surprised, the book isn’t exactly enthralling, but it did captivate a world-wide audience through the My Grey phenomenon, so I thought I’d see if the film was any good, plus it was a really nice excuse to go to the cinema with my mum and sister.

I was silly, however, to think that being nearly 34 weeks pregnant and sitting still for 2 hours was even a possibility.

If you were watching this piece of movie magic (sarcasm) at 730pm last night in Screen 2, at Wells Cinema, then I apologise for the amount of noise coming from the back row (REALLY no pun intended).

From the minute we sat down, I started to have the niggles of back pain and wanting to move to get comfortable, never a good sign when about to embark on a 2 hour film.

The film opened, and for the first 45 mins or so, I sat through the most monotone and flat dialogue I have ever witnessed in film form.  Honestly, it is SO bad.  As the film wasn’t worthy of my attention, I started focusing on my bump and baby’s movements, which were a bit quiet at first, until he started booting me around, which made me more uncomfortable.  I’d had enough of my salted popcorn by this stage and had finished my 7Up, so off to the loo I toddled.  It says a lot about a film when you find reading the film line up advert on the back of the toilet door more interesting.  I considered how long I could realistically sit there until mum got worried and would come looking for me.  I waddled back in and took my seat, at which point my mum was coming out.   She offered me a drink, so I ordered a hot chocolate, and she asked me to find out what Kay wanted.  Kay couldn’t hear me so I had to go back to the seat to ask.  Coke please.  Right, “mum…Coke” (whispered).  “Mum…Coke” a little louder.  “MUM…COKE” said much louder!  Nope, she still couldn’t hear and was on her way out the door, so I waddled back down, stomping the steps as I went, into the toilet to relay Kay’s drink order.  Then I went back in, took my seat, shortly followed my mum rejoining us and me having to move.  All this during a rather raunchy, quiet, scene!  No, we weren’t annoying at all!!

The next few minutes were like torture for me.  The hot chocolate gave me a warm flush, I felt sick, dizzy and a bit like I was going into labour!  My mum rubbed my back, which helped, but I needed a stretch and some air.  So out I went again!  I had a nice little chat with the girl on the front desk whilst stood outside cooling down.  I spied some very comfy looking sofas in the foyer, and seriously considered setting up camp there until the film was over.  Perhaps I could have a little snooze?

I reluctantly went back in, in the hope that mum and Kay would want to leave, but they were at least watching the film and getting their £7 worth!  Mum offered to rub my hand, and proceeded to give me a hand and arm massage, at which point, I fell asleep!

I was nice and relaxed after this, and managed to watch the remaining scenes of this awful film.  Jamie Dornan was very nice to look at, but not worth having to sit through the whispery monotone voice of Dakota Johnson, whilst she annoyingly bit her lip!

I was relieved to get out, and enjoyed getting home, putting my feet up and watching an episode of House of Cards to re-stimulate my brain.

I will not put myself through a pregnant cinema trip again, or pay money to watch any more of the fifty shades franchise.  I’m far more excited about the fifty shades of baby poop that my little boy will be producing – oh how things have changed!

By the way, if you are reading this and would like to read more, have a look at my past posts, and come and find me on Facebook.

I had a shower…of the baby kind

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Yesterday, my amazing mum and gorgeous little sister surprised me with an intimate baby shower to celebrate the forthcoming arrival of our little boy.

It was a much needed get together of my nearest and dearest, where we had a giggle and ate a gorgeous Guinness cake made by my nan (thanks Nan – it tastes good the next day too!)

My mum asked me a while back whether I wanted a ‘baby shower’ this time, and I said no – not because I didn’t enjoy my first fabulous one, but that I felt guilty about people coming along and bringing gifts etc, for the second time.  My mum admitted yesterday that at first, when I’d said this, she was relieved, as it meant no party planning, but then once she’d had a chat with my sister, they changed their minds and excitedly started planning a little surprise, as they wanted to celebrate this baby as well as my first.  My first baby shower was big and a lot of special people were there, which was amazing and touching, but mum kept this one smaller and more manageable for them, which makes me feel less guilty about them having to host one!

I was secretly really happy that mum and Kay did this for me, and it means I now have some lovely baby boy things – before now, he would’ve been dressed in a lot of pink flowery things from day 1, and wrapped in a soft pink, fluffy blanket!

It also showed me how important it is to celebrate these amazing moments in your life, whether it be with loads of people, or just a few, it’s nice to mark the occasion and take some time to appreciate the amazing thing thats about to happen to your family.

In the midst of potty training (update coming soon), de stressing from work, and feeling slightly ill prepared for this baby’s arrival, yesterday afternoon was a really special moment.  Plus, it was a surprise, so it meant I didn’t have to do anything (slightly unsettling for control freak me, but a nice change!)

I also had a moment where pride surged through my body, as Lylah joined me on the sofa when I was opening some presents, cuddled in to me, then proceeded to show everyone what I just opened for ‘baby brudder’.  Having her there made it even more special.

Plus there was cake, and that’s always a winner!

So thank you mum and Kayleigh, I had a lovely afternoon, and I really appreciate your efforts.

In other news, official first day of Mat leave is today!  It’s been great so far, and Lylah keeps shouting ‘no work for mummy yay’ – did I make it that obvious to her that I couldn’t wait to finish ;)

Next post – potty training…watch this space!

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Mat Leave – Round 2

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A bit like the Carl Frampton match last night, I can feel the next round of a long ol’ slog coming on in the shape of maternity leave round 2!

Tomorrow morning marks the start of the last week of professional work for another year or so…and relax…or not.

In all honesty, I am completely blessed to be able to have 7 whole weeks off before baby number 2’s arrival. First time round, that amount of time would have been spent getting pampered with my feet up, whilst occasionally doing something nesty in preparation for my little princess’ arrival.

So I keep saying that I’m about to have 7 weeks off for a much-needed rest for when baby arrives, but in reality it will be far from that. I will spend my days crouching down over my massively awkward bump to pick up toys off the ground so I don’t slip on them and injure myself, I will be up and down off the floor in various playing stints with Lylah, keeping her busy and occupied for a few minutes at a time, so I can sit upright supported by twenty cushions on the few occasions where she will happily occupy herself. I will be preparing weeks of food for Lylah, which I can freeze down, and bung in the microwave whilst I am busy breastfeeding number 2. I will be attempting to be somewhat organised and pretend that I am a little bit ready for this baby, and pack my hospital bag, wash the newborn clothes, make up the Moses basket and organise the nappys/wipes/cotton wool/creams/infacol/nappy sacks etc etc.

I will be also starting the dreaded, I mean, delightful, toilet training, in the hope that my 2 year old will grace the toilet seat with ease and be an obedient wee’er and poo’er in one week, Gina Ford stylee.

I will mainly be praying that Lylah doesn’t give up her daytime nap just yet, so that for those precious couple of hours, I can actually lay still, close my eyes, and sleep.

But at least I won’t be at work. I will be spending precious hours with my little girl, breathing in those special moments, where for the last time, it will be just me and her.

And then for round 2! Those first few weeks and months of sleepless nights, looking grey and tired in the eyes and face, zombified for all to see, the potential of emotional outbursts for Lylah, followed by the guaranteed emotional outbursts from me.

I don’t mean to turn the maternity leave experience and spending all of that amazing (and tiring) time with your baby into a negative thing, that’s not my intention at all, as it really has been one of the best periods of my life so far, it’s just that its is long hard slog, where you need real stamina, both mentally and physically, a fighting attitude, and one where, especially if co-sleeping is involved, you do actually get punched quite a lot!

I’m looking forward to experiencing the whole thing again, and finding out what’s it like doing it with 2 in tow. The whole premise of this blog was that I would record my experiences of juggling work and being a mum, and all of our adventures along the way.

Well, now that one type of work is nearly over, let the continuation of my work as a mother continue and grow, juggling 2 pooey bums, juggling 2 tantrum wielding little monkeys, juggling a 2 year old and a new born, and juggling all of the things that come with it.

And guess what? I can’t wait for any of it – insert big fat smiley happy face here and a number of posts saying the complete opposite to follow! Jugglehood – round 2!

Minnie Mouse Mascot Madness

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Donna and I were busy planning Stacey and Lylahs’s 2nd birthday party over a cup of coffee. Donna had already been extremely organised, and had ordered napkins, balloons etc all in the desired theme of Minnie Mouse for our Minnie crazy little beauties.

Looking at everything you can order for a birthday party can be overwhelming, and it all starts to add up rather quickly, and at 2 years of age, they just want to run around, eat a few cocktail sausages and stuff their face with cake! Mum was geared up to make the Minnie Mouse cakes, and we were going to dress our girls in Minnie inspired outfits for their big day.

Whilst having a peruse around the online pages of Amazon and eBay, I came across some Minnie and Mickey costumes. Not just the basic, plastic masked fancy dress type get ups, but full on, Disneyland style, mascot outfits, with the massive heads! Brilliant! What better thing to add to a Minnie themed party than the real (ish) thing appearing from behind some curtains and surprising our little ones. Of course they would be delighted, all smiles and cuddles for Minnie, and amazed to have met their favourite Disney character in ‘real life’!

Donna was up for the idea, so I proceeded to find the best priced mascot on the internet. Unfortunately, the reasonably priced ones to buy would all have to travel from China and wouldn’t make it to us in time for the party. I then found some that you could hire. The faces weren’t quite as good as the China ones, but they were still pretty fab looking, and compared to some of the scary attempts at Disney mascots I’d already come across, these were looking like a winner. Seriously, whoever designs some of these things really don’t have the children in mind when doing so! I ordered the hire of Minnie, and shortly after, received an email from the supplier, who convinced me to take Mickey as well (I’m a sales person’s dream!)

The two ginormous heads and their costumes arrived in the post a couple of days before the party. As we were having lots of work done on the house at the time, there was no where to store them, and it wasn’t long before Miss Lylah nosey pants had dug them out. I thought perhaps this was actually a good idea, it would get her used to them. Someone had already asked me wouldn’t she find the mascots scary (Lylah has cried at every Father Christmas she has seen so far in her life), but as she had quite a nice meet and greet with Peppa and George earlier in the year, I was pretty confident about this one. She cuddled those Minnie and Mickey heads all the time, threw them around, played with them, tried to put them on. This, I thought, was the best idea I’d had in a long time – the mascots were going to be a winner! I dragged my sister Kayleigh, a natural entertainer who loves the spotlight, in to perform as Minnie, and managed to persuade her husband Adam to be Mickey! I told them it was their duty as Godparents to do things like this for Lylah.

The morning of the party, I stuck the heads and costumes in the car and took them to the hall. Lylah wasn’t amused by this, but we told her that she would see them at her party later, which kept her happy for while. So, a few hours later, the party is well under way, Lylah has had a good nap so isn’t to grumpy. All the kids are running around and playing like mad things, getting stuck into the food and having a great time.

Donna and I took to the mic to announce the arrival of two very special guests! Kayleigh and Adam were behind a curtain, getting into their costumes, blinded by the misplaced eye holes, and off balance from the size of the heads. They made their grand entrance…Lylah was in my arms, I was proudly holding the birthday girl, excitedly anticipating her reaction. I looked at her face, exclaiming, “Look Lylah, it’s Minnie and Mickey”, eagerly awaiting her delighted expression, expecting her to struggle out of my arms in a race to run to them. But no. The grip to me got far tighter. Her face dropped and her lips quivered, and she let out a howl of upset and poured frightened tears. Her now bright purple face lit up with pure fear as Minnie and Mickey entertained the birthday crowd, and my heart sank. The next five minutes of trying to calm Lylah into at least looking in their direction didn’t work, so Chris and I resorted to taking her behind the curtain and explaining who the mascots in front of her actually were. Kayleigh came back with us, head still in tact, which only frightened her more, as Lylah seemed convinced Minnie was going to come back behind the curtain and eat us all, and when she removed the head, Lylah’s screams grew even more hysterical, as if she couldn’t make out what weird decapitation had just occurred in front of her young and innocent eyes.

Meanwhile, the other birthday girl Stacey was loving every second, and gave Minnie and Mickey lots of hugs. Most of the other kids were fine, some tentative, some loving it, but none screaming like birthday girl Lylah! We gave up trying to convince Lylah that these two monsters in front of her were actually the loveable Disney characters that she plays with every day, reads about, and watches on the TV.

Once Kayleigh and Adam emerged as their true selves, Lylah calmed down and the party continued as it was before. She enjoyed some singing from Aunty Kay Kay, and loved the birthday cakes, as well as picking at the icing from the top when no one was looking.

We got home that night, and I brought in the Minnie and Mickey heads, diverting Lylah in an attempt to avoid upsetting her again. But no, she spotted them. This time however, instead of screaming the place down, she proceeded to play with and hug them. So, she likes the mascots in head only, scary decapitation form, but not in full motion, human body like form.

The lesson learned from this? Don’t force your child to like something. Be prepared that anything will scare them. Avoid Minnie and Mickey mascots even though your toddler is obsessed with them on a normal daily basis. But always try to bring a smile to your children’s faces, even if you fail, and never stop trying to make their dreams come true.

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So it’s 2015…

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It’s 2nd January 2015. When did that happen? I’m sat in my new PJ’s, thinking back over the last few days, weeks, months and the whole of 2014!

So much has changed since I made a photo book of year 1 for Lylah for her first birthday in December 2013. I was scrolling through some pictures of this year, in order to make photo book year 2 for her second birthday (just to be clear, it’s almost 2 weeks after her 2nd birthday, and the book still hasn’t been put together or ordered! Anyway, at the start of 2014, Lylah was still a baby. She was walking well, but still wobbly, she was still breast feeding, she was in a cot, she still didn’t have many teeth, she couldn’t say a lot, and she still looked like a baby, with a good head of hair, but still short and spiky and sticking out all over the place.

Looking at my little princess now, it’s like looking at a different child. At 2, she’d rather walk everywhere we go than sit in her push chair, she likes to choose her own outfits in the morning, she’s chatting to us about anything she can manage at every opportunity (even though sometimes still makes no sense!), she has beautiful, longish, bobbed blonde hair which has been cut 3 times this year, she has a full mouth of teeth which help her eat the chewiest of foods, and she sleeps in a big girl bed with very little fuss now. The difference across this year has been astounding, and for us, every Christmas will also mark Lylah’s birthday, and the chance to look back at the year and see what has changed, January to December.

So, here’s our year in review – 2014…

January – Lylah was still a baba, and at approaching 13 months, I knew it was the right time for us to stop breast feeding.   This was far sadder for me than it was for Lylah, but for a variety of reasons, it was necessary for us. The change happened overnight, and she was fine with it, which made me feel better. This was the start of my little baby girl becoming a toddler.

February – By February, I had been back at work from maternity leave for nearly 5 months, and I think it was around now that reality hit and the hard work really started. The first few months back had been fun, I had been hitting target and I enjoyed getting back into the swing of work. But from this point, I started to feel the strain of working all day and getting home to Lylah to be a mummy – I really started to miss her, but was happy in the knowledge that she gets to spend time with lots of people that she loves while I was at work.

March – We took a much needed trip to see our family in Belfast. This is so important for us, and for Lylah, as she needs to know and remember the close family we have over in Ireland. At this point in the year, she probably didn’t remember much from one visit to the next, something which has definitely changed as the year has gone on, as now she can talk about her relatives in between trips and visits, and is far less unfamiliar when she sees them all. We also experimented with green milk for St Patrick’s Day!

April – Lylah began her toddler growth spurt! Overnight she seemed to change into a little girl, started wearing age 2 clothes, and also became a little madam! We had a fab Easter, and I spent a lovely few days off with Lylah, making sure we had quality mummy and daughter time, cooking, eating chocolate and going to the park. One particular picture I took of Lylah walking with my mum in a pretty Spring dress was a moment in time that I will never forget – she looked so grown up and beautiful and that image will stay with me forever.

April also marked the start of Chris working in Street, which has changed our family life for the better, and the time we get together now as a family is priceless.

May – May is always a lovely month. It starts with us celebrating my mums birthday on the 1st, and for me, it has always felt like the month to start getting excited about summer! It also meant that the following month was Kayleigh’s hen weekend in Paris, and a month after that was the Wedding. Excited much?!

June – It was finally here – the month of the Disneyland Paris trip for my sister’s hen weekend! And what a weekend it was! It was amazing to have some time away for myself, and to let my hair down (a little too much according to Saturdays hang over!), but it also made me realise how lost I am when Lylah isn’t by my side. On the train over, when someone asked me if I was missing her yet, I burst into tears. I didn’t know it would hit me like that, but I’m glad it did, as it means I cherish every second I have with her.

July – The Wedding of the Year was here! It was incredibly emotional watching my little sister get married to Adam, and I felt very lucky to be able to have Lylah and Chris by my side all day, sharing these special moments with me. Lylah made the most beautiful flower girl, and looked like an Angel in her dress. She showed me that day what a grown up, smart and well behaved little girl she was, and it was also the first time we saw some serious dance moves from Miss Boyd!

August – It was back to summer in England following a late July break to Portugal, and I’m sure you will remember the ‘sick on a plane’ post!

Lylah chose August 2014, age 1 year and 8 months, to jump out of her cot twice during the night! We made the very quick decision to put her in a bed, which was like starting all over again with a sleep routine, but after a few weeks, she was perfect and goes to bed with very little fuss now (there are still some occasions where she has us pulling our hair out). We marked this milestone and her 18 month (ish) age with a family photoshoot, where our cheeky monkey posed her way through a series of photographs! August also marked our 5 year Wedding Anniversary, 5 happy years not without its ups and downs, but certainly worth it when we look at our daughter.

September – I announced to my nearest and dearest that we are expecting baby Boyd number 2. I also celebrated my 31st birthday with a non-alcoholic brunch, and celebrated the joys of pregnancy with lots of sleep, some vomiting, and plenty of carbs!

October – By this point in the year, we had welcomed some chickens (one of which turned out to be a cockerel and has since been returned to farm life) into the family, and I announced the pregnancy to the wider world, including work.   I had a fab month at work, and really started looking forward to the festive period (hopefully with no more sickness!).

November – This month was all about some quality time for myself, before the madness of birthday and Christmas hit, and before I am too pregnant to do very much! I enjoyed 2 trips to London with amazing friends, a spa day and lunch with the gorgeous mummies, a hen night, and a fab carnival night with Chris and Lylah.

December – WHAT A MONTH! Firstly, my beautiful best friend Nichola and her man Andy, had the lovely baby Lily on my dad’s birthday!

I enjoyed plenty of Christmas celebrations at work and with friends, watched my fab sister sing Christmas Jazz at Clarks Village, which Lylah loved, and then came the birthday weekend!

Chris, Lylah and I celebrated Lylah’s second birthday with our birthday buddies, Chris, Donna and Stacey. Stacey’s birthday is the day after Lylah’s, so we celebrated together and took a trip on the steam train to see Santa. We then celebrated the next day with a joint birthday party, where we were visited by Mickey and Minnie Mouse (Lylah was terrified – more on that in another post!).

It was lovely to spend the weekend with close friends and family, and although probably quite overwhelming for Lylah, she seemed to enjoy every moment (except the Minnie and Mickey moment!).

Christmas was a lovely, relaxing family affair this year, and of course, Lylah was spoilt. I read a lot of posts of Facebook about whether or not people should ‘show off’ their kids and presents at this time of year, for the sake of children who don’t have as much.   I agree with this in principle, but equally, you shouldn’t be ashamed of the products of your hard work and special time with your children. I am happy to see posts of others sharing their happy times at this time of year, but understand that equally there are people who aren’t having such a lovely time. I remembered throughout the whole festive season, that this time is so precious, and however you celebrate, or whatever you can do or provide for your children and family, it’s more about the quality time you spend with them.

We are currently spending a lovely week with Chris’ parents, who Lylah is bossing about all over the place, and enjoyed a fab New Year’s Eve, thanks to the kind offer of babysitting from my nan – thank you Nan and Grandad!  It’s very special to see Lylah enjoying some precious time with her Grandparents that she doesn’t get to see very often, and great to see them witness how very special our little girl is.  It makes me so proud to watch her chatting away to them and show them all her toys, it makes you realise that it’s so easy to take these things for granted when you’re witnessing them every day.

To top it all off, I am feeling the kicks and movements of our little boy every day, and it’s these tummy nudges, and my kisses and cuddles from Lylah, that remind me how blessed Chris and I am.

So, in the year that Chris grew a very ginger beard, we have had some amazing moments and experiences, but have also had our ups and downs. It goes without saying that you can’t have a full year without sad experiences, heartbreaking news, and hard times, but they are there to challenge you and make you stronger, and pull you together as a family.

We have seen arrivals of new babies amongst friends, and exciting pregnancy news amongst others, and it’s this burst of new life that shows you what this life is all about. It’s about love, and family, and making sure you cherish every moment. I’m excited about 2015 and what’s to come, but most of all, I will make sure that I take every moment in and not miss a moment.

Lylah dress

Those ‘non-baby’ friends…

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Every mother has them, they are your friends from before babies, and they are the ones that haven’t yet joined you, or that maybe never will, on the roller coaster ride that is having children.

Normally these friends are innocently naive about what you are going through as a new mother, and this isn’t their fault, as they haven’t experienced the excruciatingly painful experience that is child birth, the aftermath of a caesarean, the long term effect that nearly a year of sleepless nights has on a person, or the huge impact that these little people have on your life which means they just don’t understand why you can’t drop everything and go to the pub/have a weekend away or go mental on a Saturday night.

Seeing these friends casually carrying on with their carefree lives while you are up to your neck in baby poo and puke can be disheartening – sometimes you desperately want to experience just one more night of madness, or a coffee meet up without having to contend with a mad toddler emptying the sugar sachets all over the floor.

As a result, your time spent with these friends naturally becomes less and less, as you save those meets up for the times when you can have a break, leave your little one with someone, and go and have a glass of wine.  You spend your time with your little one, accompanied by other like-minded mummies, where you can discuss the long night before and your child’s latest eating habits without worrying that you are boring the pants off them.

However, this post is dedicated to one very special ‘non-baby’ friend, who I am very lucky to have in my life.

Her name is Sarah, and is a mutual friend for both myself and another old friend of ours, Adele, who has also recently become a mummy.  Adele and I are typical new mums, constantly chatting everything baby and toddler, so you’d think very boring for Sarah, who doesn’t have children.  In fact, it’s quite the opposite, and if she does get bored during these conversations, then she hides it very well!

Sarah was the person in my life growing up that I went out with, got drunk with, met boys with, and generally partied with!  We parted ways for University, but our meet ups would obviously consist of catching up, and then going out.  As we matured, we might have thrown a nice meal in there, and obviously as I got married and settled down, there were now nights in added to the equation.  We’d often meet up with Adele and Jamie, and have all grown up into ‘proper adults’ together over the last 12 years since the mad days of college.

Since I’ve had Lylah, Sarah has been one ‘non-baby’ friend who has been so thoughtful and considerate about spending time with us.  She often initiates days out to baby-friendly places for all of us to go, and is hands on with helping out with the children, giving us tired mums a much needed break.  Not that Sarah isn’t tired as well…working full time and long hours in a law firm, training for a half marathon and travelling to and from Somerset often to visit her family, she is as exhausted as most I’m sure, but she doesn’t mind spending a Saturday carting our children around Puxton Park, talking to them about all the animals, and getting involved with the all of the activities, like a big kid herself!

When I was still breast feeding Lylah, she came round for a takeaway and a night in, and bought me a lovely bottle of red.  Knowing I wouldn’t be able to drink because of the feeding, she had found the best tasting, closest to reality as possible bottle of fake red wine that she could, and paid highly for it as well.  It meant I could enjoy something close to the taste of a glass of wine, but without the fear of getting trollied!

She offers to babysit regularly, gives me help and advice about certain health things for Lylah, as her lovely mum is a nurse, and buys thoughtful presents for my little girl.  But mainly it is about the time she spends with us, not a second of it a tiresome task for her.

She organised a day out for us at Puxton Park yesterday, and as I am starting to show quite heavily, and am feeling pretty tired and rubbish still, she carried Lylah when I couldn’t, jumped into the soft play ball pit to get involved, held her hand and walked her around, or pushed the push chair when Lylah was clinging to me.  It makes such a difference to a day out for me, and I’m so grateful for that.  She made the most of the day out, and got on a digger, rode a pig car, and bounced on the child only trampoline, so I actually think our children are just a guise for her to go to all these child friendly activities!

So thanks to Sarah, a ‘non-baby’ friend yes, but a BEST friend to us and our babies, definitely.  We love you!

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tractorstractor sarah

sarah on pig

An Announcement and Some Chicken Antics!

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I’ve got some news…Chris and I are delighted to announce that I am 13 weeks pregnant!  I have been feeling pretty shoddy the last few weeks, and the pile of juggle that is my life seems to be building and building, as I have little or no energy to do anything!  Needless to say, we are delighted, and are looking forward to our new arrival, who I expect to follow in Lylah’s footsteps and arrive promptly on their due date of 23rd April 2015!

For the odd day here and there, I have been feeling better, and luckily for me, Friday this week was one of those days, as I had the Somerset Business Awards to attend on Friday night (the first of many non-drinking occasions for the next 2 years!).  Friday’s are my day off with Lylah, and I had been feeling pretty rough on Thursday, so we, well I, decided that we would have a PJ day, lazing on the sofa, watching copious amounts of Peppa Pig.  It was a perfect lazy day.

I decided I would start getting ready at 6pm, leaving me plenty of time to get to my destination for 7:15pm (gone are the days of taking 2 hours to get ready).  This would have been fine, but at 5:45pm I decided to let the chickens out (yes we now have three chickens, they are…fun).  As  I was juggling a few different things, including getting ready, watching/playing with Lylah and changing the bed sheets, I decided that I could keep on eye on said chickens through our bedroom window.  Lylah and I watched them for a few minutes through the window; they were having a great time pecking around the garden and pooing everywhere (one of the downsides).  I turned to continue making the beds up for what seemed like two minutes, only to look back and realise that I was a chicken down – Dusty the grey one to be exact.  Thinking she was cowering behind the tarpaulin, hiding from the other two (she gets bullied by them, literally the bottom of the pecking order),  I dashed outside to check she was okay.  But she was nowhere, and I mean NOWHERE to be seen.  I quickly plopped Lylah in front of Peppa for five more minutes (I am very grateful to that annoying little pig) and ran around the outside of the house like a mad woman for a while, shouting out for Dusty, but to no avail.

I summoned my Nonno who came and joined the search straight away, swiftly followed by my Uncle Joe and then Chris when he got home from work (the benefits of having my family close by), but Dusty was no where to be seen.  Chris told me she had probably been eaten by now, and I was devastated!  Meanwhile, Lylah was flapping around the house shouting “Dusty gone, Dusty gone!”, and while all of this commotion was taking place, I wasn’t anywhere nearer to getting ready.

Time check, 6:30pm.  Dusty was nowhere to be found (I was sad, but also angry at her Chicken Run antics at the same time!).   After another 15 minutes of telling Chris how I had “literally turned around for 2 minutes!!”, I decided to get a shower.  At which point, I realised I had no shampoo left.  I had a mini tantrum in the bathroom and told Chris how I wasn’t going now, as “EVERYTHING WAS GOING WRONG” (hormones people, blame the hormones), when Lylah grabbed her children’s tangerine scented shampoo and thrusted it at me.  If she could talk more she would have said “seriously Mummy, stop moaning, take this, and get yourself together woman!”  So I washed my hair with Lylah’s shampoo, swiftly got ready, and left the house at 7:20pm (my team had already taken their places at the dinner table and it would take me half an hour to drive there, ah well, better late than never).

I arrived exactly half an hour late, my hair wet from the rain, trying to walk in my heels, and hoping my nausea would keep at bay until dinner was over at least.  I was stressed to the max, but I had made it (even thought Dusty may not have).  I approached our table and took my seat as the starter was being positioned on my place setting – perfect!

I had a lovely evening, but at the back of my mind, little Dusty kept squawking at me, telling me what a rubbish Chicken mummy I am.  The story was a great ice breaker for the night though!

The awards finished at 11:30pm, and pregnant me was ready to go home to bed (my bed times are MUCH earlier at the moment).

I didn’t sleep well that night, thinking of all the places Dusty could be roosting if she had been clever enough to not get eaten.  It was rainy and windy, and I felt so guilty.  Poor Dusty.

Chris was up bright and early the next morning, popping off to the gym, and Lylah and I resumed our positions from the day before on the sofa.  Around 8am, I took a quick walk outside to check next door’s garden, as there are lots of bushes and trees in there.  Nothing :(  Then, as I was walking away,  I heard a rustle, and saw a flap of a wing.  It looked white, not grey, so I wasn’t hopeful, but thought I’d check anyway.  And there she was!  Dusty was alive and well, living it up in next door’s garden!  The next hour of Dusty’s life was probably quite traumatic, and involved ladders, the highest branch of a tree, her longest flight yet, a capture and a wing clipping, but thanks to my Nonno and Chris, we have got her back :)  She wasn’t very sociable for a few hours, but was back to her normal, mental self this evening when I let them out in the garden.

Honestly, an evening out when you’re in the first trimester of pregnancy is challenge enough, let alone facing our very own version of The Great Escape – chicken style.

Lylah is well used to our manic, crazy lives by now, and hopefully this little one is looking  forward to joining the Jugglehood as well.

Chickens

Changes…

Lylah October

Wow. I am seriously bad at keeping this thing up to date. Can I use the excuse that we have had a busy summer and I have been spending my time watching in amazement as my little girl grows rapidly before my eyes! There have been so many changes, firsts and a huge amount of fun, as well as a few moments of ‘pull my hair out’, ‘what the hell happened to my Angel’, ‘I’m going to scream’ moments!

Now the summer is long gone (well-it is in my eyes, I wish this weather would start to flipping realise it), I can sit back and think of the changes that have really stood out for me.

The Wedding was simply amazing, Lylah was incredible all day, and really made us realise how grown up she has become. She walked down the aisle (for a little bit, then took my hand) and sat through the ceremony, she sat at the table and ate her lunch, she napped in the pushchair, and entertained everyone with her dancing!

The holiday that followed was incredible (bar the sick incident), and it was these two momentous occasions in Lylah’s short life so far that have made me realise that I need to give her a lot more credit than I sometimes do. As mums, we worry and worry about every minute little detail, and often find things like going out in the evening with our babies, or taking them out of their usual ‘comfort zone’ a real obstacle. When actually it isn’t, or at least it shouldn’t be.

Now, I don’t agree with the statement that your child should fit in with your existing, pre-child life, because quite simply they can’t. I learnt to accept that very quickly. For example, I’m not sure how comfortable Lylah would be with dancing on the tables in the local nightclub of a Saturday night. However, if you are relaxed with your child, I do strongly believe that you can take them anywhere you want, whenever you want, without very little hassle.

I might just be lucky with Lylah, and naive to think that all children can be like this, but I was worried about taking her abroad, and I really didn’t need to be.

Firstly – what do you take? Admittedly, this is a lot easier when they are a little older, as you don’t have to worry about sterilising etc etc. A quick google search told me what full fat milk was in Portugese, and I made that one of my first things to purchase when we arrived. Everything else was there. I didn’t need to bring food, or drinks, or milk, or even nappies (although I did), as you can buy everything you need. Admittedly this depends on your destination.

Amazingly, I managed to pack for 5 days, for Chris, myself and our toddler, in only 2 hand luggage cases. Along with the car seat and push chair this was enough to manage, but it is unbelievable how much c**p you end up taking if you have the space.

As for the holiday itself, Lylah was in her element. She ate great meals, both in the hotel and out in restaurants, and loved the daytime activities of swimming, swimming and more swimming.

The first evening worried me, as we didn’t go up to our room to change until nearly 6pm (at home Lylah is fed and bathed by then normally and gearing up for milk). By the time we were showered and changed, we didn’t sit down in the restaurant until around 8pm. Instead of looking sleepy and feeling grumpy, Lylah got stuck into the food (starving by this point) and then spent the first evening dancing around until she finally collapsed asleep around 11:30pm. It was brilliant. And that was her every night, enjoying herself until she dropped.

When we got home, we went back to our normal bedtime routine (which changes daily to be honest anyway), and she got straight back to it.

The next big change came a few days later, when Lylah decided that she had had enough of her cot. During the night, we heard her crying, and left her for a while to see if she’d settle. 5 minutes later, the crying was louder, and outside our bedroom door! She had climbed out of the cot and come into us! Shocked, I let her get in our bed and when she was finally back to sleep, I popped her back into her cot, panicking about what to do for the best. I popped to the bathroom, during which time, Lylah (who was ‘asleep’) decided to kamikaze out of the cot once again, this time jumping, and landing face first on the floor. Thankfully, she wasn’t hurt, but I wasn’t taking the risk again. The next day, the cot turned into a big bed, and a trip to Mothercare for new ‘big girl’ jammies and a pillow meant that Lylah was excited about this new adventure. She was perfect for a couple of nights, and then a nightmare for a week or so, but 2 months on, when I stand outside her bedroom door and listen to her chattering to herself for 20 minutes before she goes off to sleep, my heart could burst with pride.

Along with these exciting moments, we’ve had plenty of the new, moodier version of Lylah, the one who has no patience, gets frustrated at everything, and can throw herself against a wall in a fit of rage. This is not my favourite version of my child, but her tantrums have had Chris and I in fits of laughter. Not that it’s funny, I know, but when you’re trying to ignore your tantrumming child, as well as not look at them, and you can see the calculated thought behind every tantrummy moment, laughter is the only thing that helps! Thankfully, these have calmed down a bit, and Lylah turns into a very apologetic cuddly wee soul once she realises that the growly throat scream is not working. She has even learnt how to say “sorry mummy’, although the “sorry” part does tend to get a little lost under a mutter. Bless her :)

She changes everyday, in her words, her actions, her personality. She is turning into such a funny little character and I get on with her like she’s my best friend. She helps me bake cakes, and sweeps my floors (she has some fun too I promise), and is in love with Peppa Pig to the point that I might cry, but the main thing, through every change, she is getting stronger and more confident and turning into a wonderful little person.

Along with every big developmental change, there will of course be challenges, but give those little geniuses some credit, they will get there, adapt and do it when they want/can. I’ve every faith in my child, and therefore I’ve learnt to relax, and I think with that, she thrives.

Embrace the changes, and most of all, enjoy them!

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