New home, new adventure, new memories

What a wild ride the past two months have been.  It is no lie that moving house (and building it in the first place) is one of the most stressful things to ever do. In late September, we finally (FINALLY!) moved into our new build house that has been consuming us for almost three years now.  I don’t remember a whole lot about the two days of moving – it’s something of a blur a bit like childbirth – but I do remember being achingly, physically exhausted at the end of each day.  We had a moving company but there was still a lot for us to do ourselves and I did a lot of heavy lifting. My fitbit nearly exploded with how many steps I did in the week of the move.  The first three days I was hitting in excess of 20,000 steps a day. Who needs the gym, eh, when you’re moving house?

But it was worth it.

Moving from an apartment to a house has been a game-changer!  I think we have all collectively breathed out with the increased space and in particular, having a back yard.  Even though our move was heavily delayed, we were able to enjoy the pool for a few weeks thanks to the great climate here.  Next summer is going to be immense I think!

N has been a superstar champion during the move.  As we have been visiting the site of the new house regularly he has always understood this was the “new house” and that we would live there.  As we started packing the apartment he joined in and so it was not a shock at all to him to move.  In fact, when you ask him about the “old house” and if he wants to go there, he says “no, it’s empty”.

I had expected some kind of sleeping issues in the new house, but we bought him a new bed which is 160cm x 200cm, aka adult size, and he loves it.  He sleeps really well in it and has done from the first night.  I think he really was too big for the toddler bed so we did a good thing with sorting him out a new bed.  The advantage of getting a full size bed like that is also that when he is having difficult nights it means one of us (aka me) can sleep with him to comfort him.  His bed is super comfortable so I have fallen asleep in it multiple times by accident!!

We have 22 steps between the ground floor (living areas) and the first floor (bedrooms and bathrooms) and I have also noticed since moving that N gets tired more easily and goes to sleep faster.  I think just the act of having more distance to cover at home and multiple trips each day up and down those stairs has a lot to do with this.  Also, the ability to play outside wears him out. 

N himself has been quite the character recently.  He is really sweet and tells me he loves me often.  One night I told him “I love you to the moon” and he replied “I love you to the stars” and it was just the sweetest thing ever.

During the summer when we were in the pool or at his favourite place in the world, the waterpark, I would say to him “Don’t worry, I’ll save you” in those moments where the water was a little too deep for him and I was holding onto him. (Side note: he does wear arm bands in the pool but there have been some occasions where he prefers that I hold him in the pool without arm bands.  He is always fully supervised – arm bands or no arm bans – with a maximum distance of about 30cm from an adult, usually me).  Of course there have been a couple of minor accidents where his head has slipped under the water for half a second and I have always lifted him up and told him “Don’t worry, I’ll save you.”

Clearly the phrase “I’ll save you” has stuck with him and now he often turns to me when he wants a nice tight, cuddle and says, “I save you”.  It melts my heart. I often think he does save me and it is me who needs the cuddle more than him.

Some of his favourite things at the moment are:

  • Colouring and painting
  • Cars – he has a Hot Wheels parking garage coming from Santa if he’s a good boy
  • Reading letters out loud all the time be that in books, on car number plates and on signs – he knows the English alphabet and can identify each letter which we are quite surprised about because his nursery school only teaches in Greek
  • Our new kitten – we had the skinniest kitten I’ve ever seen still alive turn up on our doorstep of the new house less than two weeks after moving in and after a lot of TLC and a huge vet bill he is now fine and they are best buddies (the other cats are less fond of him)
  • Donuts – his grandpa buys him donuts occasionally and he LOVES them and talks about donuts a lot
  • His best friend from school who shares the same name as him.  They are two peas in a pod and super cute together
  • His new electronic kiddy version of a Vespa scooter.  This was a birthday gift from his grandparents and he has steadfastly refused to even sit on it since his birthday (July) until last weekend. We had his girlfriend visiting for a playdate and she asked to ride it (she’s half-Italian so it must come more naturally) – once he saw her ride it he’s not wanted to get off it since
  • The book series “Press Here” and “Mix it Up” – such nice books so do check them out!

I am definitely enjoying the new house, but there are still many things to sort out and buy.  We are now doing things progressively because we don’t have enough cash or time to sort everything out at once. Hubby and I have had a bumpy road over the past few months I think from sheer stress and frustration with the house and work, but we have had some really nice moments in the middle of that too.  I think in another few months once we tick a few more things off our to-do list and the Covid-situation may slightly improve, perhaps relations will be improved further.

Since October I have returned to the gym and that has been really good for my mood and overall outlook on life. I really am a better person when I have moved my body. I still think I have some work to do to really resolve some of my low phases, but I am trying each week to spend small amounts of time doing things that make me feel good. It’s so true that you need to be a happy mamma and this is why I am making more of an effort to invest in myself.

Back To School, Back to Routine

I have a confession, I really like routine.  Am I meant to admit that out loud? Sometimes it seems that the cool folks are the ones who are living by the seat of their pants, gleefully ready for each new adventure that the universe throws their way. But really it is routine which is the glue which holds together my sanity.  I like to know what to expect and what’s expected of me… maybe I am really a pre-schooler in disguise?

Now I am a summer love and a self-confessed beach bum so I am all for the summer holidays. July and August are wonderful for their barefoot, crunchy-hair, summer vibes.  Summer days were never as sweet as during childhood where a long day spent at the beach and sand in all the places led to a great night’s sleep, or when I was part of a young, fresh couple with plenty of time to lie by the beach sipping cocktails, followed by some uninterrupted “alone time”.  I laugh out loud to myself when I think of those summer days of years past when I would literally do nothing but lie on a sun lounger at the beach ALL DAY for several days on end. 

And I still love summertime, I really do! We had some great times over the summer in pools and on water slides with my little water baby rapidly gaining in confidence. But also I am kind of glad for September to be here. The reality of summer with young kids is lots of activity, routines which have been destroyed and a lot more ice-cream eating than would normally be permissible. I laugh when people ask me did you have a nice summer break? What break?  I just changed locations to one where my son is powered with frozen sugar and doesn’t want to go to bed because he’s demanding I wake up the sun.

Which is why I am the official cheerleader of September.  This is when children in the northern hemisphere (usually, Covid-allowing) go back to school for a new academic year and when order and routine are restored. I am so happy with N’s school generally, and they have handled the Covid-protocols very well, but I have been even more happy recently as he seems really delighted to go there in the mornings.  Much as he liked staying at home during lockdown and during the summer break, I think he really loves the fun things he does at school and his many friends he is making. And I like some time apart for a few hours – albeit at work – so that when I pick him up after school it’s exciting for both of us.

N now has a best buddy at school who, rather confusingly, shares the same first name as he does. They are different in character but have the same interests (construction toys) and great energy together.  We went to this friend’s birthday party last week and N was genuinely delighted to be going to celebrate with him, delighting to taking him a gift and even blowing the other boy’s birthday candles out for him! I nearly died of embarrassment, everyone else thought it was cute – note to self to watch out for his candle-assassin tendencies at future parties.

I love seeing his growth and development leaps too, and his language skills are rocketing by the day.  He is excellent at identifying letters and numbers and associates individual letters with the names of important people (i.e. the first letter of their name). This is interesting because he learns Greek at nursery school, not English so his development of the English alphabet is from home life. He is now getting very confident in his second language too so I am glad for him as this will be especially important from a social perspective so he can communicate with his peers.

He has been through a rough patch with sleeping the past month or so with waking up in the middle of the night sporadically for no easily explainable reason. The problem with these night wakeups is that he is very difficult to get to go back to sleep so he often keeps us awake for 2-3 hours at a time.  This is relatively manageable during holidays but when we have to be at work the next morning it is not great.

I think one or two of these incidents have been when he’s picked up on some tension (hellooooo we are almost finished with our house build = super stressful) or when he has not seen a lot of Daddy in any given day.  Other night wakings are completely inexplicable and are written off as one of the mysteries of parenthood.  I am focusing on making sure the following days are full of good stimulation, good diet, lots of love and less tension and that seems to help.  But we are not perfect and sometimes we just have to get through these moments with as much patience as we can muster.

Diet has been a super-interesting topic during the past month or so too. N is a very physically intense boy who needs stimulation and the ability to stretch his legs each day to really be happy.  And for a couple of days over summer he was pretty bad spirited. I really started to wonder WTAF was going on as his behaviour was out of character, but then I had a little think about his diet and it hadn’t been great during that day and the few days before.  I then undertook a fairly unscientific experiment and limited his sugar intake for a few days.  OH MY GOD it made SUCH a difference.  He was a lot more calm, reasonable, able to concentrate and just generally sweet to be around. 

It genuinely gave me pause for thought. N has always had a good diet but I have also been quite flexible about my approach to food with him.  If we are having guests or are out somewhere of course he can have cake or ice-cream.  But during summer days the rules seem to get relaxed and he was eating a lot more sugary foods than normal… and I saw the results which were not pretty.  By pulling back on the sugar it really helped him. He still tries to challenge me, especially when he is tired or hungry, but his moods are more consistent and reasonable when he eats better. It just goes to show that you are what you eat after all!

Three is the magic number!

My boy is three!  Just like that and three years have passed by. There is so much truth in the saying that the nights are long but the years are short. It is bittersweet seeing your child growing as it’s so exciting to see them grow and develop into their own person, but you can literally see them slipping away from you as they become independent.  I remember in the early days of N’s flat head situation where I had to hold him all day that I fantasised of the day when he wouldn’t need to be held anymore so I could have a cup of tea in peace.  Now I celebrate when he comes to snuggle as these moments are more fleeting. There are some moments when N makes a face that is so adult and I picture him as a grown man.  This completely freaks me out but of course what a parent wants more than anything is for their child to grow into a happy independent person so I hope that these flashes are pictures of the future.

N’s birthday was almost a month ago as I simply haven’t had a moment to scratch myself since then to write this post. So let’s do a rewind.

I organised a construction-themed birthday party in his grandparents’ garden for his birthday with his nursery school friends joining. I was cautious about Covid-implications and so an outdoor party seemed the best solution, but also because it is summer and very hot, even in the evening!  His birthday was on a Friday so my husband and I took the day off work to organise things while he was at school.  I won’t lie, it was hectic and a bit fraught at times, but I really loved organising his birthday and went to a lot of trouble to make it lots of fun.

We had a bouncy castle (loosely) in the shape of a digger as well as a kids party entertainer who does some magic (including producing a rabbit and a dove out of nowhere), plays music, makes balloon animals and and has a dressed up mascot (a tigger in our case).  This entertainer was worth his weight in gold as he was thoroughly entertaining.  While he was for the children, no one loved him more than N’s grandfather who laughed his head off and joined in at every available moment.  Even N’s daddy got involved! 

We had around 15 kids and their parents as well as various family members so I think there were about 40 people there.  It was a great buzz and N absolutely loved it!  I think he ate the sum total of 1.5 chicken nuggets for the entire evening and I literally had to drag him home at 10pm as he was still running around squealing with delight. I had a lot of very kind feedback from the other parents so I felt like my efforts were worthwhile.  Full confession though, I felt physically hung over for two full days afterwards!  My entire body literally hurt as though I’d been out dancing for 6 hours straight (sadly, this was not the case). Who knew hosting parties was a full body experience?

Subsequent to the party, there has been another huge falling out with my husband’s family.  I won’t go into it here other than to say that this has really brought me down.  I actually wasn’t directly involved or present for the latest conflict but the underlying issues that surround this situation are not new and are very painful. The issues with his family also bring out my grief. It makes me so cross that my Mum (and Dad) who would so have loved to be a part of my son’s life are not here to enjoy him, meanwhile my husband’s family are here and very dysfunctional.

I have felt incredibly lonely and full of anxiety during this period. It has gotten quite bad actually and is beginning to manifest itself physically again. I’m aware of it so I am trying to take some actions to look after myself, but the past few days I went down a bit of a black hole and have struggled to function properly. Of course on top of all of this we are coming to the end of our house build situation which is definitely one of the most stressful things anyone can ever be a part of. We have had a billion issues one after each other and my poor husband has been trying to overcome these, but he too is getting psychologically drained and sometimes misdirects his anger and frustration at me which just compounds my anxiety.  He is doing his best to improve in this regard too, plus I recognise that this is a short term situation that should improve in the next few weeks (it might get worse before it gets better though).  The good news is that the house looks really great now!  The pool now has water and so even though we can’t live in the house yet I have taken a cheeky dip in the new pool.

More importantly, N is a superstar through all of this.  He’s definitely been a handful lately, but I wonder how much of that is reacting to the general vibe of home which is probably not textbook perfect right now! He is funny as hell, albeit also too clever for his own good.  He has been excited by church bells ringing for some time as we live near a church and often hear them, but recently this interest has increased and so he literally asks to go see church bells about 3 times an hour every day.  Often we have to go on drives to find churches with bells and I think sometime soon I’m going to have to find someone at a church to let him go up the bell tower to check them out for himself.

He is totally a water baby and lacks fear.  He wears arm bands when he is in deep water, but now likes me to take them off for a time so that he can “go under” the water. He really delights in spending a couple of seconds under the water, obviously under the constant care of either me or his dad.  He’s not yet able to actually swim but shows a lot of great potential.  When our pool is properly operational we will look to start some swimming lessons for him.  Not only do I think he will be a competent swimmer with a big of guidance but it’s so important for safety reasons that he can at least save himself if he falls into deep water.  I think we will put a fence on our pool as I don’t think I’ll sleep well at night otherwise, but it’s still such a valuable skill to be able to handle yourself in water.

He is also obsessed with the song Bad Romance by Lady Gaga.  I used to like that song haha! He plays it a billion times a day and has a little dance routine to it too so now I barely even hear the song.  It’s like white noise to me. He has always loved cars – as does his daddy – but now he insists he sits in the front seat and “drives” the car every time we go anywhere.  This is all well and good unless you actually need to go somewhere quickly. I guess this is why you see so many mummy blogs talking about drinking a lot! I often wonder how on earth parents of multiple children actually manage to go anywhere without having a mental breakdown.

N’s language is improving and he learns new words every day, but he is still quite difficult to understand, especially by non-family members, so he we will continue with the speech therapist for the foreseeable future. I can see he has so much to say but those words are not yet coming out nicely.  His passive vocabulary seems very wide but the poor guy struggles with his active vocabulary.  It’s interesting as he is so physically capable and yet his weak spot is his language. I guess we all just grow and develop in different areas at different rates.  I can see he has a lot of empathy and capacity to learn so we are delighted by the little ray of light that he is and once we get him on the road to good speech development I think we will all feel a lot better about it.

Parenting is always staying nimble

The thing about having children is that they keep changing and evolving, forever keeping parents on their toes.  I sometimes wonder if the origin of the phrase having children keeps you young is because parents and caregivers are always remaining agile and alert to whatever new thing pops up with their children. I have myriad examples of this, the latest being that even though N has been fully toilet-trained both during the day and night for some time and totally fine with it, he has started weeing the bed at night.  This is not a huge deal as I have been using a mattress protector sheet and so the clean-up job is not stressful.  What puzzles me is why has he now started doing this having spent weeks not doing so.  Children are a mystery!

What is even stranger is that he doesn’t even wake up when he pees all over himself.  He loves his sleep so much that he just keeps on sleeping.  I let him be for a few days but after 5+ consecutive days of peeing in his sleep I had to go out yesterday and buy more nappies, having given away my stocks thinking I was done with them (haha, what an idiot I am!). And who wants to guess what happened last night when I put a nappy back on him?  Of course he made no wees inside it – a completely dry nappy greeted me in the morning.  Honestly, kids are hilarious. 

I spoke to a friend of mine who has two boys, one of which is a couple of years older than N and she said her son also had a similar experience.  She just put the nappies back on at night until her son was ready to go the whole night without getting wet.  I will see how N goes for a few days and if he continues with the dry nappies I will try pants again.

The wetting the bed situation has arisen in the same period as his return to school so I believe somehow they are connected, albeit I am not entirely sure how.  He is very happy going to school now so I am no longer concerned about that.  Perhaps all the change and adjustments of the past few months have just resulted in him being unsettled so I am giving him lots of love, patience and time so as he can work through all of this calmly.

He is incredibly clingy these days which is both lovely and sad in equal measures. He clings to me when I want to go to the gym and says “Mummy stay home” and every single time it breaks me a little. He’s not an especially cuddly child – the irony of not being cuddly despite being the most cuddled baby in history when I had to hold him non-stop for the first months of his life due to his wonky neck is not lost on me – so when I do get voluntary cuddles I soak them up. At the same time I feel sad for him that he must feel some kind of need that’s arisen with the return to school.  And this is even with me working part time!  Imagine how sad he would be if I didn’t see him between the hours of 9am and 6pm?!

At night when he goes to bed he now likes me to stay with him for a few minutes and rub his back until he falls asleep.  I am torn between being melted by this sweet moment (and aware at some point he will reject this) and concerned that he now needs me in order to go to sleep himself.  For now I am just letting it be as he seems like he needs some extra support and love.  Maybe I do too, actually.

His speech is coming along nicely and I can’t really attribute it to the speech therapist yet as he only did his first formal session on Monday.  The previous week was just a getting to know you visit but it was perfect because this Monday N was very comfortable and happy in the space.  The therapist takes him into a small playroom off the side of her office and they had 1-1 time together for 45 minutes.  The most important thing is he seemed to have a good time with her; she said he sat nicely for the whole time and interacted well, albeit he did use tactics to evade verbal communication (I am sure she will work on that), and she said he is very clever. The second most important thing is that during this 45 minute session I got to have a rest on her sofa in the office area.  I mean, if someone had told me 6 months ago that I could have a rest for 45 minutes while this goes on I would have signed him up from back then.  I am only half joking about this. 

I am especially excited that N has really started to use “thank you” in everyday conversation.  The other day when I gave him his dinner he said to me “Thank you, mummy.  Nice dindins.”  Honestly, my heart EXPLODED as he said this so sincerely and sweetly – and then munched through his plate of food.  (Obviously dindins is dinner)

Last weekend our local waterpark re-opened and so we took N along and it blew his mind.  Admittedly, he is too small to enjoy 90% of the park’s attractions, but he loves the water and was in seventh heaven.  His favourite things were a half bubble type thing that you climb up and then slide off into the water, as well as a kiddy section that has a giant bucket of water that tips out every few minutes.  At this park there is a bell that warns you that the water is coming so he’s been non-stop talking about the “bong” ever since.  I think we will have to go back there again soon as we will get no peace otherwise.

I am headlong into birthday party preparations – I’ve booked catering (the party is not at my home so it would be super difficult to cook everything myself), an entertainer and I’m planning on having a bouncy castle. There will be a construction themed cake, assorted cookies etc and decorations so I have instructed my cake lady accordingly.  I need to refine my decorations ideas and get the stuff, plus work out how many drinks I need to sort out.  Here it is also customary to give small gift bags to the children who come to the party and so I am thinking to theme these with beach toys – I’m thinking water balloons and water squirting toys (I’m trying to avoid gun-type toys).  They all have to be put into a lovely gift bag too.  I love this stuff so it’s great fun! At some point I am expecting someone to come and try and rain on my parade so I am trying to remain positive for as long as possible.  Check back here in the coming weeks for the drama as it unfolds!

Approaching 3: Back to school and off to speech therapy

In less than a month, N will be turning 3 and I am so excited!  This year I am throwing him a proper birthday party and inviting all his school friends.  We have been to many birthday parties of his friends so it will be nice for N to finally have his own turn. I am beyond excited about it as my Mum used to throw me wonderful parties too so I am throwing myself into it with wild abandon. Another factor is the previous two birthdays were tough for me and I just didn’t have the energy to do something more formal, whereas now I feel more capable.

And the final reason, because N is obsessed with birthdays!  He loves singing happy birthday, blowing candles out and all the party paraphernalia that comes with it.  Last week was daddy’s birthday and he buzzed all day with the excitement of the cake and the candles.  His head is going to explode with excitement for his own birthday.  I cannot wait! 

I created a birthday invitation from an editable template on Etsy.  This was so super easy and inexpensive – I highly recommend it.  N is obsessed with construction vehicles at the moment – cranes, diggers, dump trucks etc – so I chose a construction themed design.  I have had lots of really positive feedback about it which is so nice.

Another recent development has been the return to nursery school – hallelujah!  Finally nursery schools and kindergartens were allowed to reopen with a monster list of strange and somewhat ludicrous requirements.  For example, I am required to send N’s lunch to school in disposable containers and they can’t put the food in the fridge so I had to send it in a cool bag which is obviously reusable.  Parents are not allowed in the school and at drop off there is a big process that involves disinfecting hands, spraying the soles of the kid’s shoes and taking his temperature.  I find these measures a bit ridiculous as his bag and clothes and the kid themselves may well transmit the germs but we do these things anyway.

The return to school was not without drama though.  The first few days were like starting over.  There was howling and crying, some begging to stay home and lots of “NO SCHOOL, MUMMY!”  On day one I arrived at work a complete mess.  Over the next few days things got better and now N happily goes to school in the mornings, even carrying his own bag.  It is a big transition from staying at home and doing whatever you like to the structure of school, but I think N is better for the interaction with his classmates. 

To coincide with the return to school, N has suddenly become super clingy to me and now requires me to stay in his room to fall asleep.  I am not terribly happy about this new development as I worked so hard to make sure he was able to fall asleep independently, but he seems to be going through a really huge transition right now and thus I am riding this one out.  My plan is to slowly ease off the role I play in bedtime so that I can once again kiss him goodnight and just walk out.

And another wonderful coincidence in this period is that N has suddenly developed a stutter.  His language development has been slow all along and we have been toying with the idea of taking him to a speech therapist, but the sudden onset of a stutter was the final motivation I needed to make it happen.  Last Monday we met with a specialist recommended to me by a friend and I really liked this lady.  She had an air about her that made me feel like I made the right decision to come.  She pointed out a few things that N can work on, such as his active vocabulary and his pronunciation as well as indicated he talks out of the side of his mouth.  I don’t yet know what that’s all about but I will probably need to schedule a dentist appointment for N to rule out anything teeth-wise.  Of course, the first question she asked me is whether he uses a dummy/pacifier but I have managed to wean that use down to only at night when he’s sleeping.  Following the meeting with the speech therapist on Monday, N has started parroting new words and phrases like never before which is kind of an ironic twist.  How I see it is that this will be a little boost to help him on his way.  A short-term kind of thing until he gets confidence and is able to keep up with his peers.

One of my friends made a good point that if he cannot communicate effectively that he might struggle on a social level, which I find highly relatable.  He doesn’t seem to struggle too much on a social level now, but I think he might going forward if he doesn’t reach the same level of language as his peers. 

Summer has kicked in properly over this way so we have started to go to the beach.  N has always loved the beach and water generally and he radiates joy during summer. He is fearless in the sea and even if the water splashes over his head and goes up his nose he just laughs and carries on.  Given he is now obsessed with construction he also loves all the digging at the beach. Good times ahead.

Our house build is slowly, painfully coming closer to finishing.  Honestly, no one ever build a house.  It is so incredibly frustrating. But, when it is finally done (please be done this summer) we will have a really nice place and a swimming pool. Sadly it won’t be ready in time for N’s birthday so we are hosting it at his grandparents’ house instead. Those of you that remember his birthday last year will recall how they bailed out of his birthday on the day and so at least this year there is no way to avoid it if it’s at their house.  One of my friends has suggested I made sure I drink some bubbly in the afternoon before the event so as to best deal with whichever family member inevitably makes me upset.  It really made me laugh. It is also very, very good advice.  Nothing like drunk hosting 20 kids plus parents to really make a great party! Wish me luck!

Potty training and looking on the bright side of life

One of the things that the enforced lockdown of the coronavirus has helped me with is being more grateful for what I do have, especially my health and the fact that both my husband and I have kept our jobs without being furloughed or worse. There are millions of stories all around the world of people far less fortunate and I grapple with this every day, sometimes even feeling guilty for not suffering as much as they are.  I realise this is a bit daft, but it just feels like there is so much tragedy surrounding us all right now.

Amid all this chaos, life has a strange way of just keeping going on and never is this more apparent than when you have young kids in your care.  I find my son excellent at grounding me and helping me to see that sometimes the most important thing you can do is jump on the trampoline with him.  I highly encourage everyone to jump on the trampoline at least once a day, with or without a toddler in tow. 

I also have a small confession to make.  I think the lockdown has been good for me in many ways.  It slowed me down.  I got some more sleep as I wasn’t in such a rush in the mornings.  Sometimes cake became a meal.  And I just cut myself some more slack than I usually do.  I follow a few blogs here and I sense a running theme throughout them (and in mine too) that we set such high expectations for ourselves when actually we really just need to strip it back and stop thinking we can be freaking superstars at every last thing in life.  

Some days you will be killing it at work, some days you will manage to bake a cake with a toddler and some days everything will be a total disaster.  But and if you take the attitude of a toddler, the sun will set and rise again and a new opportunity to do better presents itself.  This is what lockdown has taught me. Be kinder to yourself and expect less of each day.

I absolutely freaked out at the beginning of lockdown as to how I would keep N entertained at home, but it all worked itself out and he’s very happy to play with his toys at home now.  In fact, he’s probably more comfortable at home than he ever has been definitely helped by an influx of new toys during this period as well as a recognition of the simple things in life being enough.  

And I would like to particularly highlight how I have seen absolutely zero, none, nadda blog posts or mummy media stories about screen time guidelines for children.  A gigantichallelujah to that because sometimes you just need a few minutes of screen time to reset and get back on track. I for one rejoice in screens as one of my tools in my kit. N has not been so bad with screens.  He has his own small iPad and he does like to use it but he also likes to do other activities, so it doesn’t (yet) rule his world.  Sometimes he even instructs me to sit next to him on the sofa and look at my phone while he watches his iPad.  He will rest his feet on me during these sessions and, if I’m honest, I find these moments sweet and intimate.   

He has also developed a borderline obsession with the rubbish truck which visits our neighbourhood.  When we see it coming we have to sprint outside to watch the truck tip out the rubbish into the back and say hello to the rubbish truck men.  I bought N his own rubbish truck toy and it is his favourite toy by far!  The rubbish truck men really love him so it’s a super fun moment.  He also really into playdough and a marble run toy where you set up pipes for marbles to run through. Most of the time though he just wants to help at home, so he’s become very competent at using the cordless stick hoover and I bought him a small broom so he “cleans” with that too.  He helps get food out for meals, puts away shopping in places that I don’t want it, and even tries to peel cucumbers for me, albeit we are still finessing his technique with that. 

We had an insane heat wave a week ago with temperatures of around 40C (100F+) for a week and during this time I took N and his cousin in his grandparents swimming pool.  This was the first time N had experienced arm bands and he was so delighted!  He was entirely able to bob about in the water without me doing much other than obviously monitoring his safety throughout.  He is so comfortable in water and I am getting him swimming lessons ASAP that such things are allowed again. 

I have also used the unexpected period at home to go through some big transitions with N.  Early on we transitioned him to his big boy bed (his cot bed, reassembled into bed format) and this was absolutely a non-event.  He has not been troubled by this whatsoever and sleeps wonderfully in it. And then I had a crack at potty training over the Easter break and this was unexpectedly smooth too.  I had gotten myself in a bit of a funk worrying about this so the ease at which we managed to get him potty trained still surprises me. 

N’s nursery headteacher had supplied us with some instructions on potty training and I found them useful, albeit I didn’t follow them prescriptively. Her guidance said on the first day of potty training to remove the nappy and not put it back on at all apart from at night for sleeping in.  You are meant to take the child to the toilet/potty every 40 minutes and sit there for a few minutes in the hope that something is delivered in the toilet.  This sounds very straightforward, but on day 1 N peed on the floor every single time.  Each time he peed himself I took him to the toilet and sat him on there (even though he had clearly emptied himself nicely on the floor) before wiping him and putting fresh underwear on him. 

By about 2pm on day 1 I had had enough of cleaning up wee on the floor and put a nappy on him.  I highly advocate when you’re losing your mind to take a break to restore some zen.

On day 2 we made better progress as N started to tell me he needed a wee at the exact moment he was actually weeing.  This may not sound like progress, but it was! Each time he peed himself I would again take him to the toilet to clean him up.  The nappy went on again for a few hours at the end of day 2 too.

On day 3 N got it.  He told me he needed a wee in sufficient time to make it to the toilet (aka 5 seconds) and he made his first wee in the actual toilet.  We have a toddler toilet seat that fits on our regular toilet and he was fine with this.  He absolutely rejected the potty outright. From that point onwards he has always been able to tell me he needs a wee and we have had no wee-based accidents.  One of the advantages boys clearly have is the ability to wee standing up and – assisted by his 4-year-old cousin – by day 5 he was weeing standing up.  This is extremely helpful when you are out and about without easy access to a loo (hello watering the trees!)

On days 1-4 we did have a bit of a poo issue, aka there was no poo.  I started to get a bit worried as he usually poos once a day and I have heard horror stories of potty training and constipation, but he ended up doing a poo in his pants on both day 4 and day 5.  We were at the building site of our new house on both occasions and I think he just didn’t really know what to do about the need to go so let it out.  This was a bit of an admin headache and mildly traumatic for me but overall everything was fine. 

And then on day 6 we had success! A big plop of a poo in the toilet and we were all so delighted, no one more than N(actually, maybe I was the most excited one)!  There was a lot of congratulating him and he very much enjoyed looking at his “yucky poo” in the toilet.  Since then, it has been a daily delight for him to see the “many brown” of his “yucky poo” in the toilet before flushing them away by saying “bye bye yucky poo!”.  I’ve never been so happy to celebrate poo in my life! 

Since then, N has even stopped weeing in his nappies at nighttime so last night we successfully went entirely nappy-free, even at night.  The biggest lesson to me in all of this is how capable N is now. It’s hard to process that he is so independent and grown up now! 

I also got a LOT of pushback and unsolicited comments from my husband’s family telling me he wasn’t ready for potty training so I cannot begin to describe my delight when he took to it in days. No one said a word after that!

On the practical front, our lockdown measures have been eased and there have been a couple of days recently where no new cases of Covid-19 have been diagnosed. At my work we begun to progressively return to the office from last week, and this week everyone is back to normal.  There are some various measures about hygiene and keeping your distance, but it’s business as usual.  The only hiccup to this has been that while schools are open now, nurseries/kindergartens/daycare remains closed.  There are rumours that they may open in June, but I’m not sure yet if that will go ahead.  I’ve had some help at home which has made it possible for me to continue to do my work but it’s been enormously difficult overall for working parents (usually mothers) to juggle the childcare requirements.

I can’t help but wonder how the pandemic has changed the fabric of life as we know it.  I don’t have any real insights into this but I do feel that it has helped me to reset in a way that was REALLY needed.  Perhaps most of life will return to how it was before, but I think I learned a few new skills during lockdown that will be useful to reflect on for other difficult moments in the future. But most of all I realised that sometimes you just need a glass of wine at the end of a very long day.

Parenting: Corona-style         

Wow!  Parenting in these lockdown times is fully wild!  At first the idea of staying home – which mainly means being inside with apartment living – really freaked me out, but we are finding a way. It’s been a month now since schools, kindergartens and nurseries all shut and the biggest issue I see is trying to convince our children to return to school when they open again. Every time I ask N if he would like to go to school he replies with a resounding “no” so I am going to have my work cut out to get him to go back.

The most important thing though is trying to stay well as good health means everything.  Sure, this whole situation is really frustrating, but the alternative is far worse. That’s not to say I am not envious of those folks who have the freedom to stay home and binge-watch Netflix while simultaneously doing online workout videos, baking fresh bread and cleaning out their sock drawers.

Life at our house is run on 3-minute intervals, be that playing hide and seek, jumping on the trampoline, playing pretend kitchens, squeezing fresh orange juice, playing cars, riding the scooter, eating lollipops,  drawing, painting, and arts and crafts. Every day is full of action over here! I hear some people are having trouble sleeping during isolation.  I do not suffer this fate.  I am exhausted at the end of every single day! I will say a big thank you to iPads and Masha and the Bear as a little screen time can sometimes save the day when you have just had enough.  There is a time each day where we sit on the sofa and just re-set for a while.  I have not heard any “experts” dare to mention recommended amounts of screen time during this period! I wonder why!

As our regulations here restrict us to only leaving home once per day, we save our one trip outside for a walk around the neighbourhood each afternoon which is actually really lovely and not something we would have done as a family frequently in regular life.  As we walk we chat and debrief the day, as well as greet all the neighbourhood dogs. It’s the highlight of my day.

In general, N is getting a lot more time with both of us, but especially his dad and the impact is clear to see.  He has started asking/demanding that daddy do certain things with him that were previously things he did with me.  For example, he now demands that daddy sits and has breakfast with him and if daddy tries not to, N goes and drags him to the table.  This is a great result for me as I finally get to eat my breakfast in peace!

The biggest challenge is trying to get any work done which, frankly, is impossible to do with N around.  We have worked out a timetable so that I can do some work in the mornings so we are doing better than others, but it’s not ideal for anyone.

In the midst of all of this though, N is a delight and a source of constant entertainment.  His vocabulary has grown enormously and now he commentates on absolutely everything.  He is really keen on doing everything for himself these days and so one of the most commonly used phrases is “Mummy don’t touch!”  It makes me laugh every time.

He speaks full sentences, can communicate what he wants, loves to talk about colours and likes to count. He can now get to 20 in both languages, so that’s a gigantic leap for someone who four months ago was saying practically nothing.  Some of the words he pronounces with a really Australian accent and others he is more English (my accent also swings because of the time I spent in the UK) and it’s so funny to hear him chat to himself and say a really Aussie-sounding “nice” (Aussies out there know what I mean!)

He’s growing again and is now in 5-year-old clothes and wears EU 28 sized shoes / size 10 UK, despite not turning 3 until July. Hopefully then the lockdown will be over so we can have a small party for him.

A couple of weeks ago we switched him to his big boy bed, expecting that there might be some troubles getting used to that, but actually he has been wonderful.  He accepted his big boy bed immediately and once he’s in it and sleepy he doesn’t (yet) get out of it in the middle of the night and roam around. Long may that continue! This boy likes his sleep (like his daddy) so I expect that is the main factor.  I don’t think I did any magic parenting to make him like this.  Of course, if he’s not sleepy then he’s a total nightmare to keep in bed!

The next big development is that we will be attempting potty training in the next couple of weeks. I have some time off work and so I will be able to focus on helping N transition to potty life.  I have been putting this off until warmer weather arrived and now it is getting more Spring-like here, and I have some ideal circumstances for it so I am going to give it a shot.  I may well be writing here again in a few weeks saying it was a failure, but sometimes you just have to give something a good try and if it doesn’t work out, try again later.

Wish me luck!

IMG_6313(Some top class hiding going on here)

Chatterbox incoming: 2 years, 7 months

Well hello to all these new words! Finally, our small guy is becoming quite the chatterbox and it is wonderful!  He has so much to say and has an exploding vocabulary. He now commentates his own day and likes to give me instructions too, such as informing me when the traffic light turns green, “GREEN! Go, go green!” and asking me to pretend that I’m sad, “Mummy sad” (which then requires me to cover my face with my hands and mock sob), and telling me which gate to exit from at our apartment complex carpark “No, no! Gate 1!”

We are genuinely delighted that he’s enjoying finding his words and growing his vocabulary every day.  It’s been a significant trend since just after Christmas which sees new words and phrases enter in his speech every day.  Which is why it came as quite a shock when a family member of my husband’s decided to inform me they are concerned with N’s speech development and implored me to seek specialist help with a speech therapist for him. The person that said this considers themselves a self-designated expert (I do not agree with this designation at all) and so no doubt their message to me was well intentioned, albeit completely not requested and not well received.

Meanwhile, the same day, another member of family approached my husband saying very similar things and it became entirely apparent that some serious levels of collusion are going on here. My husband is such a strong character that he immediately shut them down and informed them that we are monitoring N’s language development in conjunction with his teachers at nursery school and if we feel he needs it we will seek professional advice, but we do not require unsolicited advice in addition.  There are many people close to me who I would be glad to hear their opinion about N’s development and for those people I will ASK them their opinion.  For everyone else, I would prefer if they F off and show some respect.

I also think the “advice” would have been better received by us if it was given by someone who actually invests in spending time with N and engaging him in conversation so that they could accurately gauge his abilities. I find it so frustrating that these judgments are made by people whose first choice activity to do with him is to watch videos on their phone and yet they are the ones complaining about his speech development.

I shall conclude this rant for now, but place it a reminder to us all to stay in our own lanes!

Anyway, so much is said about the “Terrible Twos” that I approached this age group with trepidation. We are more than halfway now and – save for a few choice moments – I have found this phase to be completely hilariously funny. I really love the huge leaps in development and N’s thirst for independence.  It can be a lot messier and slower to allow him to do things solo but it’s so beautiful to see him learn and take pleasure from being able to do new things.

Just this week he has decided that toast is the greatest item of food in the entire universe (he is correct), I think primarily because he likes the process of putting the bread in the toaster and cooking it. He does eat it afterwards though so it’s all good.  He also really loves to drink tea because I am a keen tea drinker.  The other day we had afternoon tea which consisted of tea and toast and I felt like perhaps I have converted him to be a Victorian schoolboy by accident.

We also took another visit to our local camel farm on the weekend and N confidently fed the camels their approved snacks like a champion. I am so delighted he loves animals and has a natural capacity to communicate and interact with them. There are many other animals in addition to camels at this venue and N was interacting with a llama at one stage that was making some pretty funny whiny noises.  N thought it was hilarious and started making similar noises back to the llama (which the llama seemed to like) and it was then I realized he has such empathy for animals and my heart exploded a little. He is excellent with our three cats and I’m struck by how he interacts with them differently.  Our youngest cat, Lucy, is the one most obsessed with me and he is always chasing her and trying to mess with her.  Meanwhile, he treats the other two, slightly older and more sedate cats with a lot more respect, gently stroking them and patting their heads.  I think both N and Lucy realise they are in a battle for my affections.

I’ve not yet toilet trained N but I think he could do it from now. The challenge is it’s the thick of winter right now and it’s a bit complicated with so many clothes to deal with.  I think we will wait until it warms up a little in a couple of months and then we will go for it.  Same with the dummy.  I have reduced the use of it significantly, but he REALLY loves the dummy for going to sleep and who wants to ruin his sleep? Not me!

I have now introduced a kiddie pillow to his bed and he really seems to love it. We are also starting to think about taking the side off his cot bed but haven’t done it yet.  He isn’t bothered about not being able to get out of bed and he’s always been very good at communicating his needs, so why rush him? I’m sure these things will come in good time and when he’s ready.  Like his speech, FFS! I have brought him to our bed on a few occasions recently in the small hours of the night when he’s been a bit upset. He’s had a bit of a cough but also I worry he is cold as we have had a big cold snap recently.  In any case he sleeps really nicely in our bed between us and there’s something really beautiful about snuggling and waking up together as a family!

Things he loves:

  • His scooter – he rides it all the time now
  • Toast
  • The cats
  • Telling me the colours of things, including informing me of when the traffic lights turn green
  • His classmates – primarily the girls. I think he has two clear favourites!
  • Anything with a light on it, toys, torches, the lights at home, the list is endless
  • Counting his bunnies and monkeys (bedtime snuggle toys). He says “bunny one, bunny two…”
  • Indoor soft play centres – he loses his mind when we drive past KFC near our home every day and can see their soft play
  • His trampoline which he calls “jump”
  • The song “Uptown Funk” with Bruno Mars (“Bruni”)
  • Washing his hands – so much soap used but better to have clean hands!
  • Likes to pretend he is sad or sleeping, or wants you to pretend these things
  • Likes me to tell him “Ready, set go” when he’s doing something active, like riding his scooter
  • Loves to blow out candles while singing happy birthday and wearing birthday hats
  • Our new house! He has been to it many times (even though it’s a construction site and it is terrifying to have him walking around it) and seems to really love it.

 

His vocabulary now:

  • His own name, although he refers to himself as his nickname (BooBoo) not his real name, so if he makes a small spill he says “BooBoo messy!”
  • Names of family members
  • Names of his friends and teachers
  • Colours – only struggles with yellow, which he calls lemon
  • Body parts – head, feet, toes, hands
  • Animals – bunny, wolf, mouse, dog, cat, pig, bear,
  • Various nouns – such as mummy car, daddy car, boot, car seat, bag, hat, pants, top, bed, book, milk, juice, apple, banana, ipad, dummy
  • Various verbs such as eat, jump, sleep, wake, wash,
  • Counting to 10 in both English and Greek
  • He can say short sentences such as “Turn on the lights” or “Daddy at work” or “The pussy cat is running away” or “sit on the chair”
  • Repeats some words after he hears them
  • Obsessed with talking about the electric gates at home, known as Gate 1 and Gate 2

New year, same me, but better!

I generally believe that New Year’s resolutions are deeply flawed and set you up for failure, but after The Year of Sh1t Things Happening (how we refer to 2019) I have used the transition into a new year and a new decade to try and get myself back on track.

I’ve been tuning into a few different resources to understand the best ways to make such changes and the best piece of advice I’ve found is to keep the goals small.  The idea behind this is to make very small, do-able, incremental changes in my schedule that ultimately make me feel better.

For most of last year I was doing practically no scheduled exercise.  The main exercise I had – once I recovered from my illness – was to go for walks with N and/or just generally chase his energetic butt around.  On some days this was MORE than enough exercise anyway, but I really missed the luxury of an hour doing something for myself here and there. Meanwhile, my husband has been going to the gym after work 3-4 times a week since forever. While I think that’s great he was staying fit and well, it was really disheartening to know that he wouldn’t set aside one day a week so I could do something for myself.  His excuse was always that I could take N to his parent’s house if I wanted to work out. I guess it’s true that I could do that, but it added a whole layer of complication and sometimes that was too much – and it’s also a layer of complication that he never has to face as I don’t make him take N anywhere so he can enjoy his leisure time.

Some people advised me to stand up to him about this, but it just ended in gigantic rows about how unreasonable I was being, all of which fed deeply into a feeling of resentment and unbearable sadness.  It’s very hard to adequately represent those arguments here, but suffice to say that I became defeated about it and just recognized that my own free time would have to be sacrificed until I came up with a better plan.

Then 2020 rolled around and a better plan was found!  I now have someone helping me at home which means I am less weighed down by home duties and more free to do nice things with N.  It also means that I have the flexibility to leave N at home for a short while to do something, such as pop for a manicure or go to work out. I would really have preferred my husband to step up but sometimes it’s better for long-term harmony to look for a solution, rather than bang on about the same gripes forever.  The flip side for him though is that he now has to pay for someone else to help at home.

With this new structure in place I have kicked off the new year by starting to do some sessions with a counsellor on a weekly basis. It is an EXHAUSTING and overwhelming experience – it is definitely a can of worms situation!  I think I might need to keep going to her every week for a whole year to get through all of my stories.

Some of the early observations are that I’m lonely (no surprise) and that I have a lot of emotional pain that has been unprocessed (also so far, no surprises). During the last session she asked me if I am being my authentic self, which I later looked up online and seems to mean if you are being authentic this is not to allow a situation or person to change you, unless for the better. I guess she feels that I have allowed myself to be changed, and not for the better, which I do agree with to an extent. She also observed that it’s as though I have given up, which unsettled me a lot.

On the flip side, I’m a little amused that over three sessions we are still so far back in my story that the counsellor hasn’t heard anything about my husband yet.  She’s in for a ride when she gets to hear about all the fun and games of moving countries, getting married (with his parents and family members not coming to the wedding in Australia), infertility, IVF, miscarriages and then obviously my Mum’s illness and passing.  I think she’s definitely going to earn her fees!

I’ve also been able to go to yoga once week since the start of the year.  One week I went twice! This has been really good for me and important to my overall wellbeing.  My next step is to start working out properly as I am unhappy with the impact of gravity on my butt, so I will be working to address that. I decided that evening gym classes do not work for me in this phase as that’s N’s dinner time and it gets complicated, which then puts me off attending.  Instead, I’m hoping to arrange to go once a week to start straight from work in the afternoon (I work part time).  I can then go straight home, have a quick shower and be fully hands on for N.  The only drawback to this scenario is that my husband will need to collect N from nursery school and bring him home, which will no doubt result in me needing to present him with a trophy for his tremendous efforts. I will see how it goes and if there is too much drama associated with that scenario, I will come up with an alternative plan.

I do feel better already, but I am still exposed to the variables of everyday life like everyone.  My marriage is better, but certainly not going to win any awards right now. There have been fewer monster fights in recent times, but the house build is still ongoing, and this is a regular source of tension.

The most recent issue is that I am feeling rather down about how small our green areas of the back yard will be and that there will be not so much space for N to play outside (there is loads of space inside), and certainly less than I had expected.  We have a rather large pool which is tremendous, and I am delighted about, but our house is quite big and perhaps we should have factored this in.  I wasn’t part of the discussion process during the period the pool/backyard design was implemented as I wasn’t capable, so I am cross and disappointed.  Where we live is a very hot and dry climate where things don’t grow so well, i.e. lawn grass is not a viable prospect, and it’s often so hot that it’s difficult to play outside anyway unless you’re in a pool or by the sea so maybe it will all be fine. I am from a rural area of Australia so having so little outdoor space is unfamiliar to me.  Also, I find myself better grounded in nature and each of these factors is playing its role in my anxiety about this.

I am aware this sounds super-princessy behavior (I have a chat with myself about this on the daily), but when you invest so much time and money into something and you’re not satisfied with the outcome it can be hard to overcome. Someone please tell me it will all be ok and that kids will adapt no matter what? I am quite down about this. But also, yay pool! You’re all invited to enjoy some wine by the pool with me if this house build is ever finished.

Meanwhile, N has been really lovely recently.  His vocabulary is exploding and it’s so much fun. Amongst other things, he can now count to ten in both English and Greek.  When you consider he was saying very little at all before Christmas, this is a big development.  Right now he loves his scooter so much and is a daredevil when he rides it.  I love his courage!  He also has a girlfriend in his class who he talks about non-stop, but literally doesn’t care for any of the boys in his class at all.  You can say their names and he doesn’t even blink.  Say the girls’ names though and he’s got so much to say in response.

Other favoured pastimes include colouring – he loves to draw (washable) marker pens all over his fingers, which I think is him trying to make coloured nails like mummy – playing with balloons, jumping on the trampoline that our neighbours kindly gifted us (in perfect condition, what a result!), going for walks to the park and patting our cats.  He now talks to the cats in a high-pitched “cat voice” and it’s the funniest thing ever.

He is continuing to resist bedtime, which seems to be some kind of wonderful phase of a two-year-old, but patience and not allowing an afternoon nap seems to make this mildly more manageable. He is also increasingly fussy over mealtimes which is a bit of a stress but we do a top-up on any dinner not eaten with banana. Considering he’s almost grown out of his car set which is allegedly suitable for up to 4 years old, I think the amount and what he’s eating doesn’t seem to be too much of a concern.

N

99 things to do but sleep isn’t one – Life with a two-and-a-half-year-old

My cheeky little monkey, small guy N, is going to be 2.5 years old on Friday! Life is busier than ever these days with N no longer having daytime naps which means little downtime between morning wake-up and evening bedtime, and he is a very physically active child! We haven’t fully finessed the routine for bedtime as his sleep schedule has varied as we go through the transition of ending naps.  Some days he still has a short nap, but now it is more likely to be in the form of a power snooze in the car or on the sofa. If he has a power-snooze, they are usually late in the afternoon and that will push his bedtime a bit later as a result.

No napping does have benefits as it gives more flexibility for adventures and visiting friends, but some days mummy used to enjoy naptime as she also got a cheeky bit of shut-eye too.  RIP naps.

This past month or so has been hectic.  N feel sick before Christmas, first with a kind of flu (fever for 5 days) which then improved before it merged with an ear infection (pain, more fever). N is so stoic when he’s suffering that it’s difficult to understand what specifically is the problem, but when his fever returned and showed no signs of diminishing I suspected an ear infection, which was confirmed by his pediatrician.   Poor N got antibiotics for Christmas!  He was a bit improved by Christmas Day but still poorly so wasn’t on good form for all the presents and fun of the day.  It only took a few more days and then he was better, when he then suffered a suspected spider bite. He got a nasty bite on his ear – I suspect when sleeping – which developed into a blister, as well as two big bites on his hand and three smaller ones on his face.  He really did look a bit of a mess for a few days.

This all took place across about three weeks and when he was really sick he was pretty much silent, just wanting to be cuddled.  Once he got better though it was an explosion of words and now he doesn’t stop talking.  Every single day there are new words emerging and he’s getting really good now at repeating new words that I teach him. I think he must have a vocabulary of over 50 words now in English and an unknown number in Greek as he doesn’t speak Greek to me generally. He says the names of most of the people close to him, can tell me all the colours (except yellow, but he can identify it) and has a few full sentences he uses, such as “turn on the light” and “the tree is gone” (this relates to us taking down the Christmas tree, which was clearly a big disappointment as he’s still talking about it 10 days later).

He is also able to very adequately express when he doesn’t want to do something, which is quite a lot of the time these days! I get told “No no mummy!” a lot!  I find it funny that he says no in English but for yes he prefers to use the Greek version.

One unfortunate bi-product of the period of sickness is that N is now obsessed with his dummy/pacifier.  I had been really strict up until now that the dummy is only for sleeping but he had it throughout the day when he was sick and now just wants one all the time.  One way he has tried to use cuteness to get me to give him a daytime dummy is that he will bring me one of his dummies – one of the ones he doesn’t favour, obviously – and inform me that it’s a “mummy dummy”.  He will also bring me one of his monkey cuddlies too – again, not his favourite one – as though if I have a monkey and dummy too then it’s acceptable.  I like his thinking even though it doesn’t get him what he wants.

Some of the things N loves now:

  • His new kitchen he got for Christmas – he plays with it every day and likes to make me pretend cups of tea. We also make real cups of tea together and he has his own mug of very lukewarm, weak tea.  Most of the time he drinks it nicely without spilling much.
  • The trampoline (he calls it “jump”) – our neighbours gifted their perfect condition trampoline once their daughters got too big for it and he is obsessed by it
  • His scooter, which generally lives in the boot of my car. He instructs me “boot” when he wants to ride it which is every freaking time he sees my car.  May need to have it live somewhere else as “boot” is not always a practical option.
  • ipad – uggh, ipad is both a savior and a nightmare. N is quite competent with saying the word “ipad” now.  Fav things to watch are Masha and the Bear, as well as strange YouTube videos where people record themselves slowly running a car tire over different objects and crushing them. It is bizarrely compelling to watch. Cocomelon is still a fav too.  During the illness phase I nearly went insane watching Cocomelon videos. I think I could write an academic essay on interpretations of the videos now.
  • Dummy and monkey (see above)
  • Mummy – yep, all the cuddling when he was sick means he is now more obsessed with mummy than ever before.

 

And some of the things N does not like now:

  • Going to bed. Yep, we have hit the phase where everything is more fun than going to bed.  However, if/when you do get him into bed and settled he is usually fine. We do quite a dance some nights to convince him it’s a good idea to go to bed and I’m hoping this is a brief phase.  Ditto this is one of the reasons why naps have been generally scrapped.
  • Being told no. Meltdown will ensue.
  • Getting off the “jump” to go to school. Cue crying.
  • Help with doing anything difficult – he is stubbornly independent which is 100% his daddy coming out of him
  • Being rushed. Toddler time is a thing so I have to balance giving him the space that he needs while actually getting the places I need to go in a good time.  This is not simple or predictable. Some bribery ensues at times.

 

Mummy update: I went for my regular doctor check up this week and my recovery has been so good that I am being weaned off the nasty medications that made my hair fall out.  I should be clear of those by March, although I will stay on the low dose steroids for a while yet. The steroids don’t bother me these days so this is not an issue.  This also means that after a period of three months following stopping the meds that I am clear for having another pregnancy.  I am really unclear in myself as to what I want to do with regards to a second child. It is quite a stressful thing to consider.

If I am truly honest, I am not keen to go through another pregnancy and newborn phase.  It was difficult and lonely for me.  I know this is not everyone’s experience and the shock factor of the first child will not apply for a second, however having a second child will definitely involve some new stresses. BUT, I know that it’s nice to have a sibling and someone to go through life with.

Then I think about the age factor.  I am now 41 and realistically the earliest I could potentially give birth would have me at 42.  Is it negligent to have a child at this age? My father died when he was 50 and while hopefully that’s not my fate too it does make me worry so very much that having a child at my age means that they will likely lose one or both parents when they are not so old themselves.  I’ve experienced that and it’s hard and I don’t want to knowingly inflict that same trauma on my own child.  Please share opinions on this as I am torn!

In other good news, I have seen a counsellor! I have only gone once and so all I managed to do in that time was set the scene, but I’m going again this weekend with my intention being to heal myself in 2020.  Hubby and I also took a short trip together after the new year, without N, and it was really nice.  We took it slowly and just enjoyed ourselves.  I bought myself a too-expensive handbag because I thought WHY NOT?!!  I never do such things, but I feel after the past year or so that I need to shake things up. Life is for living and so I’m making a conscious decision to do the things that bring joy, wherever possible.  It’s not all sunshine and rainbows and life is still hard but I am doing my best to not just survive but to thrive.  It’s not going to happen overnight, but I am doing my best to change my attitude.

Sleep is key to my happiness it turns out.  I know some people can survive on less sleep, but I cannot.  I am physically incapable if I have a run of no-sleep nights.  So, as part of my healing process I am trying wherever I can to prioritise sleep and making sure I am well.  This is not always possible, for example I think N is growing his two-year old molar teeth this week and he’s been sleeping terribly and waking up due to the pain, and so I have had to forego the likes of my yoga class yesterday to have a nap instead.  It was a great decision as it has helped me get back on track today.

I feel like something new is on the horizon for me.  There are still a lot of variables in there and I have serious work to do, but I don’t want another year like 2019.  I know this comes from me so I am trying, step-by-step, to make improvements to set myself up for good things.  Let’s see…