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…

Gastro, birthday parties and little sharks – 2 years, 3 months

It has been QUITE a month! Are you even really a parent until the entire family gets gastro? Yes, that was our reality a few days after I wrote my last post.  I came down with what I thought initially was food poisoning on a Saturday afternoon and by Saturday night I was begging my husband to find some kind of medication that stops you from vomiting as I had thrown up 20+ times by then. Two hours later he finally listened to me and said medication was procured so I was able to stop throwing up some time in the early hours of Sunday morning. 

I was desperately trying to make a recovery from the “food poisoning” as N had his first birthday party invitation from a classmate and it was at a fancy venue.  I thought to not attend would be very poor form so spent Sunday in bed trying to get strong enough to stand up so I could go to the birthday party.  God knows how but I did get myself to that party and spent most of it sitting on the mat at the bottom of the inflatable castle/slide. This was the first time I was meeting most of the mums so I do wonder what they thought of me but I was just too weak to stand up.

Fast forward to Monday night and then both my husband and N started to come down with the same bug.  It was then that I realized it was not actually food poisoning but was really gastro.  OH MY GOD, THE HORROR!  I had taken my contagious self to a kids’ birthday party when I had gastro!  That is so not cool that I am still feeling wracked with guilt about it.  The only small thing to console myself with was that when we called N’s school to explain why he wasn’t coming for a few days they said no one else had had gastro at the school.  I did not tell any of the mums about it as I was so worried of being blacklisted!  I believe a general gastro stomach bug is going around and I did hear from one of the other mums about a week later that they also had the bug but I don’t think we gave it to them.  I certainly hope we didn’t.

Anyway, poor N it was his first time at vomiting and he was a champion.  He was very confused about what was going on but he would only cry just before he puked.  It was actually very helpful as I knew when to be on standby to catch the vomit. As he’s too little to puke into a bucket I was catching the mess with towels.  On that night I was so glad to have an extensive towel collection as we used practically every towel in the cupboard!  The next day was a full day of laundry and cleaning to eliminate all germs in the house!! The vomiting was for a few hours and then he mainly slept off his illness in our bed with us. It is comforting to have him in bed with us when he’s sick even though he does take over the bed like the giant giraffe that he is. 

It took a few days, but we all eventually regained our strength and our ability to eat food properly again and I think we are much, much more careful about washing our hands ever since. 

There have now been four classmates’ birthday parties to attend since starting school in early September.  Apart from it being expensive with having to buy gifts each time and kind of exhausting to chase N around at them, they are really fun.  Birthday parties are serious business though as it seems that most people around here either have the party at a venue (playground, inflatables etc) or they host it at their lavish house and bring in children’s entertainment. I am glad N’s birthday is not until July as it gives me lots of time to think about how on earth to do this. I have also met some nice mums so that’s good. I quickly discovered which mums were good to hang out with as they are the ones that drink wine at these parties!  It’s a good filtering system! Haha! 

The headmistress at N’s school has informed us we should start potty training this weekend.  She has a system that’s kind of a more direct method.  You apparently just remove the nappies from one day to the next and take the kid to the potty every 45 mins.  The only time they wear nappies is to sleep. I am not sure how this will go, but they’ve clearly been teaching him about the toilet as he’s OBSESSED with sitting on the big toilet, albeit fully clothed.  Wish me luck.

It has been a rough time in my relationship too.  My husband lost his job in early July in not-so-nice circumstances and it’s been a bit more challenging than he thought to find a new position that was relevant to his level of expertise. As is reasonable, he has found this period very challenging and has had the associated moods to go with this. There have been some positives to his time of unemployment – he had more time to devote to focusing on our house build which is near to completion and he’s had more time to spend with N, picking him up from school etc. I also worked full time in September, rather than my usual part time, including a trip abroad so this was a good thing that he was around. BUT, he has been quite awful at times and it has and continues to be a real strain on our relationship. We have had some deep conversations about this and every time we have one I think ok it’s going to be better now, but then something new happens that throws me.

He is in week 2 of a new job now and I think he is happy there, but it’s very exhausting for him in this phase and he’s being awful. There was an incident between us yesterday, which I won’t go into here, but since then he has ignored the existence of both me and N and I cannot wrap my head around this. To ignore me, yes fine whatever, but to ignore your son is so disgusting and immature. N noticed too and I could see it made him sad.  It really hurt my heart.  

I have spoken a bit about my relationship here but have tried to dial it back recently, but I am at a bit of a crossroads.  Where do you draw the line? What is something you can work on and what is over the line?  It’s so hard to decide and I’m trying to stick with it, especially after the terrible year I’ve had, but I’ve got to confess I am struggling with mental health. I have lost about 7 kilograms (15 pounds) since the start of the year, I’m not interested in food (even bad food), my hair is falling out and my skin is full of cystic pimples.  I am clearly breaking down and yet I don’t know what to do about it.  

I am trying to just hang in there as I feel like a change for the better may be around the corner.  Once my husband settles in his job a bit he should be able to manage his moods better.  We are getting a lady in a few weeks to come and help me at home with chores and looking after N from time to time.  And the house should be ready to move into early next year.  I keep telling myself good times are coming, but I am worried I will not be able to hold it all together for that much longer.  I don’t mean to be dramatic, I’m really mainly ok and it’s good to be thin again (sorry, but it is) but I am struggling big time. So if you see me on social media all seeming fabulous, don’t be down on yourself because for sure for every fabulous photo I pick there are 23 other moments throughout the day when I think what has my life come to? 

Thankfully, N is a delight.  Occasionally he does have a two-year-old tantrum and that’s mainly manageable but most of the time he is funny and clever and sweet. I love his happy face. I am so grateful to have him as my son and to have the chance to be a mum, especially after all the challenges I’ve faced to have a baby. N is the best!

Words update:

The words are coming now, albeit slowly.  These are the regular word and phrases that he likes to use. I think there are others in Greek he says but I am not fully aware of them as he speaks to me in English. 

Mummy, Papou (grandpa), Papa (daddy), Yiayia (grandma), hiya, bye bye, yes, nono, socks, car key, gone, run, touch, I don’t know, what is it, last one, that one, it’s hot, 1,2,3 (in English and Greek).

Favourite things:

Washing his hands – he loves liquid soap dispensers generally, but I bought a new one recently that is an automatic dispenser that if you hold your hand under it the soap comes out in a regulated amount. This has been very effective at encouraging N to use soap, possibly to an extreme degree as I have to take the soap dispenser away from him. Using one bottle of soap every week is definitely preferable to having gastro though!

Lollipops – known as “mm-yummies”. There is an ice-cream shop walking distance to our home so we have to visit it on a daily basis to get an “mm-yummy” from it. I now carry a collection of lollipops in his bag and I just present one outside the shop so as not to have to keep buying them from there.  He sucks on them for 1-2 minutes and throws them on the ground anyway, so any dentists reading this don’t worry as he does not eat a lollipop a day. 

Watching the “Little Sharks” video by Bounce Patrol x 1 million per day -it has a section of the song where the little sharks swim slowly and then they swim faster, at which point he runs all over the house squealing with delight, preferably with one of us chasing him. So cute. So very over that song though.

Toys – he’s really starting to get into toys now which is a delight.  We have a few different favourites, but one stand out is a toy microwave I got a couple of weeks ago.  It has different buttons and settings to set for the different food and has lights and makes microwave noises.  Great fun for hours.  Annoyingly, I had to go to the “girl” section of the toy shop to find it.  I also found him a shopping trolley there and finally I found one that is green and not pink.  Seriously, the gender divisions on toys are out of control! 

The fridge and kitchen cupboards – these have always been popular but I’ve recently noticed a step change in the interest in them.  Some days he opens the fridge so frequently and takes things out (aka takes the lids off bottles and tips the liquid on the floor for fun) that I’ve gotten a plastic bag and tied up the doors of the fridge for a few hours so he can’t open them.  No such ability to do that with the kitchen cupboard doors sadly but I have had to rearrange the location of certain items in there so he can’t tip an entire box of cereal on the floor too easily. 

Pushing buttons for pedestrian crossings – he’s mad for these but thankfully there is a park close to our house which is for kids to learn about traffic rules.  It has a course with traffic lights and pedestrian buttons for children to go about on their bikes and scooters.  I just let him loose there for ages as he loves to repeatedly push the pedestrian lights buttons and then cross the road when the green man appears.  

Going over speed humps fast – he is a speed demon and loves when I drive over speed humps a little too fast so that he gets some air in the back seat.  He laughs his head off.  Should I happen to need to brake hard he also says “ooooooh”  asthough I’m a bad driver, cheeky monkey! He also likes for me to run when I’m pushing him in the stroller so it ends up being a bit of an interval training session for me.  Good for the endorphins at least!

20 months: Climbing, sliding and somersaulting

Baby N has now passed his 20-month-old birthday and is now hurtling towards two years old. Up until now when people asked me his age I would reply in months but now I say “he’s almost two”, and then I think to myself, how is he almost two and where did the past two years go? I also think I have said from about nine months old that each milestone is my favourite age group so I think all age groups except for the newborn phase are pretty awesome in their own ways.

Right now N seems to be growing in his intelligence and capability literally by the second. His awareness and ability to observe something and then replicate it is remarkable. He watches everything I do and is obsessed with then doing those things himself, particularly chores around the home. He will regularly pull out the broom and sweep up the crumbs on the kitchen floor, or grab the step ladder and drag it to the kitchen sink so that he can reach to “help” wash up the dishes. He will also take the cats’ litter scoop and start shovelling cat litter in the vicinity of the little bin I have for cat poo. Unfortunately he does make more of a mess than anything else but I’m thinking this is good training for the future so I can get him to clean up after the cats. Haha!

Meanwhile, his love affair with food of all kinds shows no sign of abating and a few days ago, in a particularly hungry moment where apparently I wasn’t preparing dinner fast enough, he went to the bin and fished out a nasty strawberry I had discarded and started eating it! Obviously I was appalled and took it from him mouth before getting him something else to munch until dinner was ready, but seriously my kid is taking food from the bin?!! WTF?!!

N is continuing to be a head taller than all other children his age and I generally buy clothes for him that are for a 3-4 year old now. He wears European size 25 shoes, which I think is about size 8.5 in US sizes. His appetite matches his size and I am having to constantly carry snacks just in case he gets the munchies while we are out and about. Thankfully he has pretty broad tastes so will happily eat fruit as a snack which is fantastic. Top favourites continue to be strawberries and grapes, but he likes most fruit from bananas, apples, pears, kiwis, watermelon and the list goes on.

These days he is especially delighted to eat any food with a fork, stabbing the food and then feeding himself completely self-sufficiently. I honestly feel like this is one of my greatest parenting triumphs the fact he can mainly eat self-sufficiently. I try and give him as many foods as I can that can be eaten with a fork as it makes him so happy, so things like small pieces of chicken, frittata, cucumber pieces (peeled) and even cheese can be eaten with a fork. The other day I even caught N eating corn kernels individually as he managed to stab one of them at a time with his fork. I guess this is the way to diet effectively! Haha!

He is getting better with a spoon though and when he’s really, really hungry he will spoon food into his own mouth quite effectively. If he’s not so hungry or bored or not in the mood, he won’t do it himself though so I do feed him on these occasions.

Other things that make N super-happy these days are as follows:

  • Being outdoors generally – he cannot be contained inside and so bad weather days are a special kind of nightmare. He is also super-high energy so I literally have to run the beans out of him each day to tire him out.
  • The car – he insists on sitting in the driver’s seat and “driving” the car before going anywhere and on arriving back home. This is something his dad started with him and I curse him for it every day. Some days I don’t let him do his few minutes sitting in the front seat and he gets so upset with me.
  • Climbing the sofa and doing somersaults off the sofa (it’s a nightmare whereby many, many cushions have to be employed for safety reasons)
  • Buttons and switches, being turned on and off repeatedly. He is also getting more capable with operating our phones, daddy’s computer and the TV remotes. He now knows what specific buttons do and can select them consciously.
  • Slides – he can climb the stairs and slide them completely independently, although sometimes on the steeper ones we have to catch him at the bottom before he shoots off it and bumps his head
  • Water, any kind of water – this includes the bath, running taps, puddles, water I may be trying to drink out of a glass or even the bowl of water left out for the cats
  • Electric gates opening and closing, very exciting
  • Buses and the rubbish truck
  • The moon, also very exciting and requires a lot of pointing at it
  • Ducks, geese and turtles at the local lake
  • Little Bunny Foo Foo
  • His monkey cuddly toy – he has two of them which are completely identical but one is older than the other. He knows the difference and will not accept the newer one
  • Specific dummies/pacifiers. He will pick them up and inspect them individually like a an antiques dealer inspects your grandmother’s old jewellery and will only accept them if they are one of the approved dummies (no idea why some are acceptable and others are not)

On a regular day where he is well slept and happy he is a ray of sunshine and I’m so happy to have him in my life. I have recognised that when I’m around him I am more happy and it does help with my grief. It doesn’t make it go away but it helps me to focus on the bigger picture and that is my responsibility to help him grow into a capable, happy person.

My health has improved over the past few weeks which is due to a few things including my doctor reducing the dose of my medications and also trying to get some more sleep. I still look pretty crap with steroid-induced puffy cheeks and big bags under my eyes. Also, my body looks pretty flabby right now as the steroids make you get a bit frumpy around the middle. I stopped caring at some point as I was just so sick and eating well seemed to be quite low down on my list of caring. But now that I’m starting to be a bit more well again and summer is coming I’m thinking maybe I should try and work on my fitness and figure again.

Mentally I have been see-sawing a bit. Some days I am mainly fine and able to cope. Then I have found I have been having some rage moments where I have a disproportionate response to something that has annoyed me. I am definitely not zen so I now think I need to work on that and just try and choose my fights (and maybe not shout at everyone when I do feel the need to fight). My inner mamma bear has been turning into my outer mamma bear a bit too much recently.

Then I have some days where I just feel completely devoid of energy because I am just so damned sad. Being sad really drains you of energy. I miss my mum so much and I cannot overcome the feeling of how unfair it is that she’s not here anymore. I try and talk about her a lot, make jokes about certain things that she wouldn’t approve of. For example, my husband was trying on jeans today that had rips in them and we both agreed my mum would not approve of not only the fact they had rips in them, but actually having to pay extra for the rips. I have many photos of Mum at home and it’s nice to see her face every day but it does feel surreal. Like she is still sitting at her home and doing her thing there and all of this has been a terrible dream.

Does anyone out there have any experience with grief? How on earth are you meant to get over such a loss? It seems like it will just follow me around forever.

 

 

 

A Tree With No Roots

A tree with no roots is how I would best describe myself right now. If you were to pass me in the street, or to see me at work, or on Instagram you would get the impression that everything is pretty normal. It looks pretty normal. That’s the weird thing that when someone dies for the rest of us life still goes on, even if we don’t really feel like it doing so. And with a toddler in your life this is more true than ever. But I am only just hanging on. One tiny blow of the wind and my tree comes crashing down with leaves going everywhere.

I’m not sure how much of my fragility is down to grief, to illness, to the medications I’m taking or just to life in general – I suspect it is a mixture of all these factors. I think things are slowly getting better though. If I assess how I was a month ago to now then I have made progress, albeit I get so frustrated by how “not me” I feel right now. It doesn’t help that every time I look in the mirror I see a new face that I don’t like looking back at me. The steroids have unfortunately caused my face to go moon-shaped – or in other words I look like a chipmunk who has been storing nuts in my cheeks for winter. I have also thought to myself more than once I look like I’ve had some really bad fillers done to my face! The good news is that my skin is clear and I think the puffiness actually reduces the appearance of my wrinkles. Every cloud has a silver lining I guess!

Hubby and I returned Wednesday from a short break to Vienna which was without toddler N – the first time we have both left him for a trip together! I have left him several times, for work and obviously when I was in Australia when my Mum passed away, but daddy has always been there for some form of continuity. This time we both left him simultaneously for three nights. He was perfectly fine staying at the Grandparents’ House and enjoying daily play-time visits from his 3-year-old cousin. We received one particularly touching video while we were gone of the cousin feeding N slices of strawberries with a spoon which was incredibly cute, even more so with N clapping with appreciation. I’m sure they are both going to be so embarrassed by this video when they are teenagers, but really it is so adorable.

When we arrived back N heard us coming to the front door and peeked out from behind the curtains with such unbridled joy it was lovely. Toddlers have beautiful souls. It makes you wonder when we all lose this innocence.

The break itself was good and important. We did a bit of everything while we were there; some sightseeing, walking around, eating loads of amazing cake, shopping and just generally hanging out. The past few months have been intense and it is so easy to forget that we are indeed a couple and so it was a chance to reconnect. And yes, we actually had sex. That certainly had not happened since my Mum died but it was time and I’m glad for it on every level. We even had sex again since coming home again (in the middle of the night while I was sleeping, but it still counts!) which is some kind of new record for us.

We had actually booked the trip to Vienna especially to see singer Jason Mraz in concert as I have been a big fan for 10+ years and we even danced to his music at our wedding. One of the (many) drawbacks of living in a small island country is that such concerts just are not an option. We get a lot of the famous DJs during the summer playing huge beach parties, but the days when the party starts at 2am are long gone for me! Haha!

Anyway, Jason Mraz has a really earthy, zen quality to him so his concerts a almost a spiritual experience for me. One of my favourite songs of his is called “93 Million Miles” and it has some intense lyrics which I have always really appreciated, but which really touched me extra deeply this time.

…sometimes it may seem dark,
but the absence of the light is a necessary part
Just know, you’re never alone, you can always come back home…

It triggered all these emotions in me about where is home for me now?  I’ve lived almost more than half of  my life outside Australia now and the “home” I  did have there is gone now with my Mum’s passing.  So for the first time in my life I realised I can’t go home.  Or maybe I should redefine what I think of as home.  It was a deep thought which still troubles me.

Jason also paused during this song and encouraged everyone in the audience to think about someone who has supported them, and given them good energy, including those no longer with us. At this point it is fair to say I lost my sh1t and promptly sobbed for the rest of the song and the next one too (the one we danced to at our wedding). But it was good in a way because I felt better afterwards.

Side note: on our return to our hotel after the concert we pulled up in our Uber to a wall of paparazzi who were VERY disappointed by our arrival.  Curious as to who they were actually waiting for (the hotel staff wouldn’t tell us) we hovered about until the mystery was revealed as being Elle MacPherson who was there for the Vienna Opera Ball as the guest of honour.  As a fellow Australian Elle has been a huge celebrity for as long as I can remember and in the flesh I can honestly tell you she is a goddess.  She’s 54 and looked freaking amazing.  And as my husband so observantly said, “She’s really tall.” She was also incredibly polite thanking everyone and smiling for photos endlessly. Full respect to her for being such a decent person.

Since coming home N has been a bit of a handful though which has not helped my tree-swaying-in-the-breeze situation. He’s always very well looked after at the grandparents’ house but they do mess up his schedule very badly and we pay the price for it on our return. For the past three nights N has absolutely resolutely refused to go to bed as normal. He is entirely happy and cheery running around the place but the second you try and put him in bed he howls the place down, sobbing miserably. And for a baby that really doesn’t cry much it is especially hard to deal with. He’s been finally crashing out anywhere between 10.30pm and midnight which is not cool for anyone!

I do suspect he has a bit of an issue with teeth at the moment too as his canines are either on their way down or doing some shifting. However, the situation was certainly not helped when he paid a visit to the grandparents’ house for a few hours in the afternoon on Friday so I could go have a stupid abdominal ultrasound (as per the orders of my specialist who is checking for all kinds of cancer in me but kidneys, gall bladder, liver etc are all fine) ,and the lady who looks after N did not give him an afternoon nap at all “because he wasn’t tired”. Errr… hello! He’s 19 months old! That’s way too young to not be needing a nap! So what happened instead? He fell asleep in the car on the way home, slept for an hour once we got home and put him in bed and then woke up ready to party the evening away again from 7pm. Grrrr! Hubby was not happy and made it very clear to his parents who then started giving us unsolicited advice on how to get N to sleep, all of which was completely useless when all the kid needed was an afternoon nap so this did not help my frustration levels!

Having had enough of all of this, today I woke him up nice and early in the morning (regardless of his late bedtime the night before) and we ran a daytime schedule as we would on a regular day. As it is Saturday today, daddy was with us and we had a lovely time at the park and a DIY shop in the morning before nap time around lunchtime. I woke him up after 1.5 hours (his allowable nap duration) against his will and then he had a delicious pasta lunch, followed by a visit to a Dinosaurs of the Ocean exhibition (which confused him hugely with the dark lighting and strange noises), and a visit to a special coffee shop for kiddies which had a nice play area and other children to interact with. We came home just before dinner and bathtime etc, and you know what happened tonight? He was happy to go to bed, where he is currently looking incredibly peaceful as he rests. So I am feeling deeply satisfied about all of that.

What about N generally? When he’s not having an all night party, he’s seemingly learning new things before my very eyes. Everything I do he copies and it’s so cute, but also keeps me on my toes as I don’t want to teach him the wrong things (aka swearing). One of the funniest things he does is that he copies me doing the laundry. So he takes clothes (dirty or otherwise) and puts them in the washing machine, closes the door and gets the detergent out while he pretends to pour it in. Then, because he is terribly annoying switching off the machine while it is in the middle of a wash (child lock does not lock the ON/OFF button) I always tape a small plastic container over the ON/OFF button. He’s so observant that he now goes to the kitchen drawer where the tape is, gets it out and starts taping up the washing machine! Oh how I laughed the first time he did this!!

I have also been trying to teach him for months how to blow bubbles in the bath and he has finally mastered it! He now spends about a third of the time with his face in the water making bubbles and it is the cutest thing ever. Toddlers are the best!

His language skills are coming along slowly now, although I think he is a bit behind some of his peers. He jabbers endlessly in his own language which is fully adorable and then occasionally he says a word that makes sense – and in context – which is wonderful. Weirdly, any time a phone rings he says “Papa” which I guess says a lot about his association with phones and his dad. The other day a big bus passed by the car as we were driving and he very clearly said “bus” so I think we are slowly getting there. When reading books he likes to point to certain animals such as the tiger, monkey and lion (also he points to a picture of a Queen and given that I always describe the Queen as Beyonce perhaps I should stop doing that – hahah). He certainly understands everything I say so he is not a nonce and the words will come with more time.

He is great with eating with a fork and a spoon these days and tonight at dinner he was eating entirely independently, forking food into both his and my mouth.N can do the odd scribble with crayon or chalk these days but no drawing on walls (yet). He is getting interested in puzzles now and I bought him a great toy when I was in Vienna that is all these little wooden pegs you have to put in holes. He really likes putting things away in their rightful places (like mummy) so it’s right up his street!

Today went smoothly enough that I even did some baking! HOLLA! I had some disgustingly over-ripe bananas that made me want to gag (I am not much of a banana fan generally) so I turned them into banana bread. I used this recipe which is for small people and big people and it is GORGEOUS! Both hubby and N loved it so maybe my tree roots grew a bit deeper today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Germs, be gone!

Winter germs are seriously bad this year, folks!  There is a really bad strain of flu going about here that has terrified most of us with small children, especially because several people have died from it here including an 18-month-old boy.  This has really freaked out a lot of people because his deterioration was apparently very rapid from fairly regular flu symptoms to then contracting sepsis and somehow passing away.  The authorities have been light on the details – so we have no idea if he had underlying health issues or whether he was vaccinated – but it still has struck fear into all of our hearts.

We have unfortunately not been immune from The Germs, with N coming down with very high fever last Thursday.  It was pretty clear to me even then that it was not just a cold virus.  You can just tell when it’s your own child that they are Properly Sick. So poor N had a raging temperature for a few nights.  He was poorly during the day too, but definitely a lot worse with fever in the evening.  We treated him with paracetamol (Calpol) and Ibuprofen (Nurofen), although when his temperature is really high I find that Ibuprofen is much more effective at bringing it down.

The poor small chicken ended up in our bed three nights in a row as he was waking at night and needing comforting.  Actually he was waking at night and needing his fever brought down, but once that happened he then tended to find bonus energy and tore around our apartment for hours.  On one night he woke up at 1.30am and I didn’t get him back to bed until 5.30am.  I had not slept much before he woke up so that was a Very Long Night only improved by the fact that he slept in the next morning, and it was Saturday so I didn’t have to get up either.  It was quite sweet having his little cherub face right next to mine when I woke up and I could briefly see the appeal of co-sleeping.

On Saturday he had a visit to the paediatrician due to the fear of the flu, but she more-or-less said we needed to wait it out as there was no point in giving antibiotics just for flu.  Children need to have an infection, e.g. a chest infection, ear infection etc before there is any justification for antibiotics.

Thankfully by Sunday he had made an improvement enough that we took him out on an adventure to a camel farm which he absolutely loved!  There were many other animals there too and he seemed to take a particular shine to the goats.  I don’t know what to make of that as most of the time he was staring fascinated at the goats they were mating…

But such is the strength of these germs he has really not fully recovered since.  Last night, when having a cuddle on our bed with daddy he crashed out asleep about 2 hours before his usual bedtime and before having any dinner or a bath or anything.  We really didn’t know what to do with him – do you wake him or leave him sleep? We eventually decided just to put him in his own bed fully clothed which was partially successful as he slept there for a few hours, but was disturbed by a cough he acquired.  So then we had a very well-rested toddler who ran around until 11pm. We did get some food into him and gave him a bath so when he settled for the night he didn’t wake up again, but it was certainly an unusual night!

This morning he looked weary when I woke him, with perhaps a mild rash on his cheeks.  He certainly didn’t look 100% well.  Then, this afternoon he really looked exhausted at around 3.30pm. He only has one nap a day around lunchtime so to be tired at this time is strange.  But it was an easy decision to pop in bed for a bonus nap… I woke him at 5.00pm and I’m pretty sure if I hadn’t he would have kept going for a while longer!  As it was he then didn’t want to go down for the night until 9.30pm, but that was ok.  I’m worried he is going to wake up again tonight but fingers crossed he makes it through and feels better tomorrow. Honestly, I have had enough of illness around here!

I had another blood test today which showed some good news though.  Some of the markers for inflammation are vastly reduced since starting the steroids two weeks ago which is really positive news. I’ve reduced my dose of prednisolone from 48mg/day to 36mg/day and this should mean slightly better sleep I hope.  I’ve not been able to fully assess that yet as it’s a bit early but also I developed a chest infection this week. Yay me! This is not a huge surprise and it’s probably the same virus that N had over the weekend but as I have supressed my immune system with my medications there is not a lot of fight in me against evil viruses.  So I am really a rattling pill shop these days, adding some antibiotics to the growing list of meds that I am taking.

In an effort to get myself back in order I went to yoga last Friday.  It was a beginners class and I fully sucked at it, but I went! I then had some acupuncture on Saturday which I do think helped with my energy levels. I also have a hair appointment on Friday, so each of these seemingly inconsequential actions are actually the small puzzle pieces that I need to put together to get myself back on track. I’m sure something will derail me again in a small way again soon, but to have an action plan is really important to me. Going forward is the only option.

 

 

 

Why walk when you can run?

Why walk when you can run? This is our new life motto. Things have certainly upped a gear in the past couple of months as baby N has fully thrown himself into life on two legs. I absolutely love this age, even though it is kind of crazy and draining. I mean you literally can’t leave children this age alone for two seconds as sure enough they’ll be up to no good, usually in the form of something dangerous.

Baby N is now quite capable not only of going up the stairs to our first floor apartment by himself, but in case he doesn’t fancy that he can also push the button to call the lift, wait for the doors to open, go inside, push the button for the first floor and take himself there.  I guess we are fortunate in this regard that we don’t live on a higher floor as he can’t yet reach any numbers apart from 0 and 1.

We had a bit of a horror run a couple of weeks ago though when baby N just flat-out refused to go to bed each night for I don’t remember how many consecutive days, but TOO MANY! I mean it was getting to the point where I had anxiety just thinking about bedtime.  He would howl the place down every time we took him into his bedroom and we even tried to let him cry it out in bed, but turns out this kid has endurance so he would just cry and cry and cry until neither my husband or I could bear it (for me that’s approximately 53 seconds, but daddy can hold out longer).

For a few of these days he was definitely a bit sick with a mild cold but then once he was well again I just couldn’t figure out what the issue was as he’s always been so good at going to bed. But it was getting bad as we were pulling out the tricks that you only do when all other sensible options have been explored and discarded.  Take for example one night when he was still wide-awake and in party mode at 3.30am and I had to be up at 7am for work. I was beyond exhausted at this point and so I took him for a drive for about 25 minutes.  That relaxed him enough that I could scoop him up out of his carseat and pop him in the bed, but it’s not a long term strategy!

The solution finally turned out something a whole lot more simple than anything I had tried before that.  I gave baby N a shorter daytime nap.  During these episodes he had been having 2-3 hour afternoon naps which is wonderful when you’re wanting to get some stuff done at home. BUT, it seemed like they were such good naps that he wasn’t that tired at night.  By simply shortening his nap to 1.5 hours, he is MUCH happier to go to bed at about 8pm most nights and wakes up at around 7.30-8.00am. Oh my goodness, it was life-changing!

We also somewhat changed his bedtime routine as I read somewhere that you need to keep the bedtime routine quite short in case you need to repeat it during the night.  So it’s bath, a couple of nursery rhyme videos with daddy (don’t ask how that got started) and about 2 or 3 books, followed by bed.  Baby N continues to sleep in a sleeping bag so I pop him in that for the stories (it’s getting colder here so this helps him to feel cosy), and then I place him in his bed and read one last book to him each night while he’s in bed.  It’s always Goodnight Moon as it seems to have some magical ability to make him relaxed.  I also have a little teddy bear toy thing that projects stars out of its belly for 15-20 mins that was gifted to me as a birth gift but has suddenly found its use!

I also have a small nightlight in the shape of Olaf from Frozen that we “stole” from baby N’s older cousin.  This thing is so wonderful I have no intention of giving it back.  You tip Olaf upside down and the light comes on for about 5 mins before turning itself off automatically, by which time I have long since departed the bedroom! Haha!

I turn on the teddy bear with the stars and Olaf when I read Goodnight Moon and then I say goodnight and I’m out that door!  Sometimes Baby N does a small cry out of sadness that the day is over (I assume) but he usually settles quite well with his soother toys.  A few times he wakes up at the end of his first sleep cycle (usually 45 mins) doing a bit of a cry, but if I pop in there briefly and rub his back and say soothing things he usually goes back to sleep really rapidly.  I wonder if it’s bad dreams or something else?

In other areas of life, I’ve just been asked to add more hours to my work as we have a new client that our CEO wants me to lead on.  It’s a compliment that they want me to run this account and I will get extra money working additional hours, but I’m a bit sad about it as it will be more  busy (stressful!) and I will get less time with baby N. I’ve really taken on work on a different frequency since returning and now I feel like they are progressively trying to bring me back to full time and I’m not happy about that.

We are also building a new house, albeit it is taking so much time that I’ve lost enthusiasm for it.  My husband says it will be ready by next summer but even given that summer lasts here until practically the end of September I think that is optimistic. The timing of the house build is important though because I think we are pretty likely to try for baby number 2 next year and we currently don’t have space for any more souls in our apartment (3 humans, 3 cats is the current tally). I just had to go pay for our embryos to remain on ice for another year which was 200 EUR!! I jokingly refer to them as my frozen babies but it makes me sad that they’re just sitting there chilling (haha) together.  But apart from the freezer rental cost, I’m about to turn 40 so I think next year is really the year to be getting onto baby-making if there is going to be a sibling.

Then there is my lovely Mum who is in and out of hospital and her quality of life is quite low, but she is still hanging on in there.  She’s really incredible!  I don’t say too many details about her situation here but she is so tough and so optimistic.  I am inspired by her on a daily basis.  We have a pretty open dialogue about her dying, which I know some people might find a bit odd, but as we are all pretty aware of it to not talk about it all would be weirder.

Anyway, she is trying so hard – as she says – “not to die at Christmas” because my Dad died at Christmas and she said we shouldn’t have to have two parents die then.  Such a beautiful sentiment that I’m grateful for, although even if she does happen to die at Christmas I would never be resentful of her for it.  My mum loves Christmas and bakes all these wonderful goodies every year.  I’m a terrible baker but I think I’m going to have to get on it as I am very sad about the potential of never having my mum’s mince pies ever again.  She has some in her freezer from last Christmas that she saved for me when I visited in July, but I just couldn’t bring myself to eat them then. She says they won’t be nice to eat for much longer, but you know I just didn’t want to eat them as I know she’s not strong enough to make more this year.

I wonder if Baby N will have such thoughts when he’s older.  Probably not about my baking, but I wonder if he will also associate happy Christmas memories with something that I do as a kind of tradition. Maybe it will be a new tradition that I haven’t even worked out yet, but I really hope he gets to love Christmas as much as I did/ do thanks to the efforts of my parents.

 

 

Feeling all the feels

It’s been a rough old time over these ways the past couple of weeks and I’ve been feeling very introspective about many things.  I’ve wanted to write so many posts about these feelings but the challenge is time. There is just so much rushing about these days and I need to prioritise blogging over all other things, but mainly sleeping.

My poor Mum is continuing to battle on and truly it is an inspiration. Even despite everything continuing to head south she is still persisting with some chemo treatment in the hope that it extends her life for as long as possible.  The way it destroys her body is just absolutely horrendous and to see someone you love be slowly deteriorating inch by inch is awful.  My dad died a few weeks after his 50th birthday (and a couple of days after my 16th) and it was a big shock to us.  That trauma stays with me to the day for many different reasons and I’ve always thought it was a terrible way to go out – so suddenly with no real time to prepare or say all the things you want to say.  Now I feel differently.  Now I feel like going out quickly while you’re having a pretty great life is the way to go.  I’m not saying I’m trying to encourage a premature death in anyone but my goodness cancer is a bitch.

In the middle of this is the wonderful baby N who is now practically Usain Bolt with the speed of his walking.  It’s interesting because as he has become more adept at walking, he has become more cuddly.  It was as though before the walking he didn’t have time or interest in cuddles because he was so focused on getting up on two legs.  He now actively leans in for the hugs and even enjoys kisses (sometimes)!  And he loves, loves, loves his soft toys now which was kind of an overnight transformation.  We have been all about the Jellycat soother bunnies for months now and all of a sudden he has decided the Jellycat soother monkey is THE BEST THING EVER.  So if he’s having a bit of a cry about anything, you provide the monkey and everything is fine.  I think we all need a monkey in our lives!

But poor Baby N had a bit of a shocker last weekend whereby he suddenly threw a very high temperature of over 40 degrees at about 6pm on Saturday night. The poor love battled for about four days, which basically meant no sleep for the rest of us.  He cried and cried and cried at night on Sunday in particular, but also Monday.  Saturday he was semi-ok and by Tuesday night he was much better.  What is it with Sunday nights for freaking out?  He must do it almost every Sunday so I turn up on Monday at work looking quite horrendous (I joked that for Halloween I should just turn up at work with no make-up on as that would scare anyone). Anyway, this Sunday he was so poorly that the only way to comfort him was to bring him to bed with me.  Unfortunately that meant he then also took over the entire bed, daddy got a bit annoyed and twice got up to go sleep on the floor in the other room. I kept thinking to myself, well that’s fine as now I have more bed.  Hahaha!

You know baby N is really poorly though when he didn’t eat.  He pretty much refused all food for two straight days. Even getting liquids into him was a challenge so I think he had a sore throat.  By Tuesday lunchtime though he was ready to eat the entire kitchen so that was the big sign to me that he was back to better health.

My work has been totally ridiculous the past few weeks too.  It’s the time of the year when everyone is trying to get everything done they were meant to earlier in the year, but didn’t and then also plan for the next year.  I have a confession to make though.  I keep thinking it is still 2017 even though we are almost in November.  Seriously.  And I blame the pregnancy and maternity leave for that.  I was on leave from July 2017 until start of February 2018 so effectively I missed half of 2017 and so my poor pea brain still thinks it’s in 2017.  So I keep referring to next year as 2018 and everyone must think I’ve fully lost my mind.

As I work in a client-based industry (PR) it’s a bit hard to manage my part-time hours (clients do not care for this) so I feel like I’ve been working even when I’m not supposed to be (or paid to be) which means I have been feeling like I am crap at both my job and being a mother – and possibly even a wife. I’ve not been working out as much as previously and so I’m generally feeling a bit stretched.

However, in those moments where I have finally left the office I’ve been having some great times with Baby N.  Each day when I pick him up we go for an adventure together before going home.  That might be for a walk around the Mall (great place to take a kiddie learning to walk as it’s pretty safe and indoors), a trip to a new park, yesterday we hung out with some other of our baby mamma friends (he’s a full head taller than all the other babies) and today we went to a baby music class.

Now we did try one of these baby music classes earlier this year with the baby mamma group and it was a total disaster.  The vibe was all wrong and maybe so was the timing so   baby N pretty much hated it (I also hated it which probably rubbed off on him).  Not wanting to get myself into something like that again, my friend who suggested I join the class arranged for me to go for a free trial today.  So off we went with very low expectations and do you know what?  Baby N bloody loved it!

There were about 15 babies and their mummies (no daddies, what is up with that?) and two teachers with beautiful voices.  The lesson was not in English so that was fun for me as I basically had no idea! I mean it’s not complicated so it’s not a barrier and I do understand a good chunk of the local language anyway.  All the babies apart from Baby N were very nicely sitting with their mummies and doing all the different movements that you’re meant to do.  What was baby N doing?  He was dancing in the middle of the circle, totally in his own world and loving every second.  This kid is not shy! I think I could have gotten up to leave and he wouldn’t have minded either.

Anyway, by the end of it he was so delighted with his surroundings that he lied flat on the floor.  He then went around cuddling all of the cushions on the floor and I literally had to physically remove him from the class before the next one started and he was very unhappy with me doing so.  Needless to say, we signed up properly for the lessons!