What’s that in the sky?

Oh! That’s right… it’s called the sun!

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It seriously feels like we’ve not had a sunny and warm day since August last year. Probably true. As soon as I became pregnant this time I don’t remember one. Well, baby is almost here and it’s time for the weather to improve to greet them!

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And in the meantime Sandy and I have been able to enjoy the work we’ve put into the garden for the first time.

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The sandpit isn’t drenched after two days airing out, hooray!

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The cats have been enjoying the improvement in the weather too. My Dad helped install the cat flap last weekend and they’ve been taking their time getting used to it. Well, Maisie has mastered it, Jules uses it a bit and Molly and Claude… well they haven’t got it yet. Soon though and then I can start decanting litter trays outside and have access to the kitchen door!

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It didn’t take Sandy very long to get used to coming and going as he pleased out the patio door though.

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As soon as we had gone inside to take some layers off (such was the warmth we felt!) he was back out there in bare feet. I need to get him some slip on Sandals he can manage on his own.

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These pictures just make me feel so uplifted out of my pregnancy stupor. Watching his little blonde head bobbing about and feeling the grass between his squishy toes… ahhh I’m clearly too hormonal for all this at the moment.

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LITTLE FEET. Every time I think of how little his X, Y, Z is I remember they are going to seem just massive when new baby arrives…

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EYELASHES.

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It’s brilliant to be able to let him go outside and just play. The garden is 100% secure and, apart from a little work up the side, pretty much 100% safe (well, as much as anything is safe with a toddler who thinks walking is for losers and runs everywhere) so it’s fab to just let him free. Free range Sandy.

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After telling him it was time to stay in for a bit I got this face, then he proceeded to drag the “howsis” towel outside and run around with it over his head for another ten minutes.

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A change and some snacks later.

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The sun just makes everyone a little more at ease.

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And a trip to the park to let some more steam off. He’s getting to the point where he can be left to play on his own without me needing to shadow his every move to prevent accidents or escapes. That’s not to say he didn’t try to run under the swings a few times but he’s getting there.

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He was able to play on this on his own going up and down over and over for a good while, letting a whale of a Mum rest.

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Swing king.

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I’m really not sure why but he had a grey face after all the fun.

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And this, well… it just highlights how blinking BIG he is getting. Climbing to look through binoculars and knowing to do it, even though he’s never seen them before.

Ok I’m going to go now before I explode in a hormonal mush…

P.s. No sign of baby yet. Impatiently waiting.

Tick Tock

Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock…

It’s the sound of time passing slowly as I wait impatiently to become mum to the power of two. Also it’s the noise Sandy makes when he sees a clock or watch.

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No that’s not a growth in his cheek, it’s pretty much all of a caramel egg we “shared”.

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And of course by shared I mean I took a small bite, bid him to do the same, at which point he pushed the whole thing in there.

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He’s the only one getting away with stealing food from a preggy in this house.

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We took a long over due trip to meet Aunty Emma, and much to her relief I didn’t go into labour and ruin the day!

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We went to New Lanark and Sandy FREAKED OUT at the ride which he adored last time. But he had a ball on the slide and in the interactive gallery which is like soft play but a hundred times cooler. Anyone in central Scotland with a little one should be getting in their cars and heading there now.

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He did this face quite a lot. In fact, he’s been quite shy generally in unfamiliar settings recently. It goes hand in hand with his clinginess to me. I think he knows something is up.

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Yesterday Emma asked if he knew I was having a baby. Up until the day before I’d have said kind of. I never thought he could conceptualise it to be honest. He would say “baba” and pat my bump and he knows what a baba is, and calls babies baba when we see them. But then again he patted his Daddy’s belly and said baba too so it was kind of confusing. But then yesterday he went into the baby’s nursery for the first time since we got the moses basket in there. Keep in mind the only time he’s seen a moses basket has been when he was in it up to three months old. He runs over to it and points and says “baba”. Then he climbs the chair, looks in and points to the blankets and says baba again, even more assertively. It blew my mind. I think I’m always underestimating how much he knows.

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Such a smart cookie.

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Anyway, I spent the rest of the afternoon braxton hicksing away, feeling like I was going to puke and hoping I’m in pre-labour, not getting a stomach bug. Time will tell.

Baby 2′s Nursery

It took a while for this post but we finally have completed the nursery for baby number 2, who is term in two days, believe it or not. Whether or not I will be lucky enough to have them a little early again or not, who knows. I wouldn’t complain though, not being graced with much in the way of patience.

We had most of this done for a couple of weeks but I was awaiting a loan of a friend’s moses basket (thanks Alison!) before finalising it for some pictures. So welcome to baby 2′s room…

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Note in this picture the fact that we FINALLY have stair gates up. I can’t tell if Sandy is happier now he’s not enclosed in one room all the time, or angry because he doesn’t get to climb the stairs over and over and over now.

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The fabric we picked dictated the colour scheme. It is a pale but bright blue birds of paradise fabric from IKEA with bright orange and post-box red as the colours we took from it to use throughout the room.

I’d love to have been brave enough to get a Dulux colour match on the blue in the fabric and painted one of the walls in it, but I figured there is little point in doing anything so dramatic now. We will probably wait until Sandy and Double are both old enough to choose their own redecorations and colours.

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There are quite a few things from my Gran and Grandad’s house which have been adopted into the baby’s room. Firstly there is the rocking chair. My grandad put it together a LONG time ago and the fabric on the seat pad was woven by my Mum when she was in art school. I’m quite excited to have such a comfortable chair in which to feed and sway to sleep this time.

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I made a cushion and mini pram quilt out of the fabric. Also here is Pebble the Octopus, a handed down toy of Sandy’s for the new baby.

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My grandparent’s barometer… not exactly what you’d expect to find in a baby’s room but it seemed wrong to separate it from so many other items it came with.

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The loan moses basket. For Sandy we were offered a loan of another friend’s basket and took her up but she has since sold it. It seemed silly to buy a new one now, especially when this is the last time we will use it and that Sandy actually didn’t spend a whole load of time in it!

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When Stuart found out that Sandy was expected – and I mean literally days after taking the test – he went on a special I’m going to be a Daddy mission to Hamley’s to buy the first toy for his first born. It was a little lamb. This time he decided to do the same, only it took us til the baby was 36 weeks to get to Hamley’s to choose, rather than a few days! The choice was between a little cow and this little rabbit and he chose the rabbit because it is incredibly soft. Also if baby obliges in coming sooner rather than later it will be a little easter bunny indeed, so quite fitting! And best of all no-one managed to get a toy bought for them yet so he was still able to buy the first toy for his second born too.

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I had these rugs from years ago (another IKEA purchase) and didn’t have anywhere for them in this house when this room was a study (you know how wheely chairs and rugs are) but they seem to fit in perfectly in baby’s room!

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This is the crowning glory of the room as far as I am concerned. I was daft not to take a before picture but this chest of drawers came from my Grandparent’s house dark brown and varnished and described by the antiques man who came by in a rather mean way. Of course that alone is enough to endear me to an object, others’ critisisms (much like that car the Multipla that looks like a platypus which is ridiculed by both my mother and my husband. I’m always threatening to buy one. In brown)

Anyway, I saw the idea for this on pinterest, namely picking a colour and painting the drawers in varying gradients of said colour and the rest of the item white. Mum and I sanded it down and then several coats of paint later, ta da!

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Actually it wasn’t all that simple as I managed to splash Dulux moroccan flame all over our oatmeal carpet in the living room (no, it didn’t come out, there is a rug there now) and my delightful cats decided to jump on top of it while it was drying and then run white paw prints all over the house (yes these did come out but I was continually finding them for days to come and back on the old hands and knees scrubbing emulsion out of tiny fibres, JOY)

But if you aren’t cack-handed and don’t have misbehaving mogs then it actually is very easy and cheap. All it took was a tub of white emulsion (£5) and three testers in the colour you want (£3.60). Then all you do is paint the bottom drawer in the tester colour as it comes, and the other three you put an equal amount of the tester paint in bowls and mix with increasing quantities of white emulsion to tone down the colour gradually. We painted the knobs white which worked really well too.

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This was the main item in which we took a colour from the fabric and added it to parts of the room. Other ways of repeating the scheme were to paint the remains of the tester paint into a tiny framed painting, and to frame a piece of the fabric next to it.

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All of these little bits are special ornaments of my family or me that I wanted to have on and around the shelf above the chest of drawers.

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I chose not to show the innards of the wardrobe because the right hand side is overflowing, and the left hand side (which is organised with all Sandy’s old baby clothes) has been overtaken by homebirth stuff and hospital bags.

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This was my chair when I was little. Sandy was bought a IKEA poang chair for his Christmas which sits downstairs so my Mum gave me this one for baby number two. I made the covered foam seat and back from the fabric to match.

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Up in the corner hang’s the mobile I made for Sandy. Honestly, it never got much use as an actual mobile with him as when he was big enough for the cot he was easily distracted by it and it didn’t promote much in the way of sleep. Since Sandy is still using his cot (and will be until he’s two in August and we buy him a toddler bed for his birthday) I decided to just display it like this.

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I made it by knitting grey and white cloud shapes and rainbow coloured rain drops. It’s still one of the things I am most proud of making.

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So I didn’t show the wardrobe but the drawers of the chest are full and ready for the arrival. I took all Sandy’s nappies and extracted all small enough to be resized to newborn and they are all washed and ready. I still need to buy Sandy a couple more to keep him going as at the moment I’m having to wash nappies every day and would rather it was every two days for my sanity!

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Here’s a sneak peak at some potential first outfits for baby.

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It’s funny how I just put the quilt I made out of the fabric on the bouncy chair like this and then realised the birds match the rattles on the chair itself.

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The biggest undertaking with the fabric was the cot sized quilt I made and the cot bumpers (which are still needing finished up but won’t be used for a while yet anyway) but I made these cut outs for the wall above the blind too, to add some more to the theme of the room.

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And this big canvas. Very easy to do, just buy the canvas (The Works do them for very cheap) position the fabric on the front and use an open stapler to hold it in place tightly on the back.

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Finally these are my toys from being a newborn. Sandy had them too and now they have passed on to number two. It’s all getting very real right about now.

Homebirth preparations post to follow our 37 week planning meeting with the midwife tomorrow :)

Garden: March 2014

Compared to February’s post it seems there is little noticeable difference in the garden, yet a lot has been happening really. While February was all about preparing the land and laying in edging, March has been about fine tuning and, most importantly, starting to sow.

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The main physical change the garden has undergone is this sort of edging I have put it down the last messy side of the garden. It’s very temporary and though it does serve to neaten things up a little, it’s mostly there to stop the lawn spreading into the border for when we do finally get around to creating a raised border here, probably later in the summer.

In the meantime you can see some fruit bushes, some rhubard growing profusely, as well as those ridiculously hardy sweet peas which now have trellis to climb. I plan to plant down this border a mixture of edibles (fruit canes, herbs etc) with thirsty plants to try and suck up some of the depressing marshiness in this bit of the garden.

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The edging is made of old fence posts for what it’s worth – free!

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It isn’t going to win any beauty contests but it’s neater at least. I’ve put down lawn seed on the gaps in the grass but it just hasn’t been warm enough to germinate yet. Here we are a month down the line, still hoping for a break in the weather… sigh!

Stuart did get some DIY done at the hut though and finally the door is on the correct way!

Our next main job (which we might tackle this weekend, weather permitting) is to remove all the clutter and level the ground up to the hut beyond the lawn. The plan is to gravel this area and keep it low maintenance, in preparation for a greenhouse in the future.

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Still waiting on my Dad hopefully sourcing a barrel for me to make into a strawberry planter for all these strawberry plants I’ve been picking up cheap.

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Here is where a lot of progress has been occurring, the vegetable garden. All the little white tags indicate where I’ve planted seeds. I did a first round in mid march and a second round a few days ago. There will be cyclical plantings of some things like radish and lettuce for continuous cropping. There are seeds still to sow in April and May too.

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The front desperately needs the grass cut but finding a day where it’s not rained in a while is impossible. Here the rose bushes are taking well. Three my Mum brought from my Gran and Grandad’s house and the furthest on the left is a peace rose for the new baby.

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The daffodils have come up well though and Stuart put up the hanger for this hanging basket. I’ve planted some petunias in it and need to get some trailing nasturtiums too.

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Here you can see what seeds I’ve sown in the veg plot. In the salad quarter (left) there remains lettuce to go in. The brassica area next to it has purple sprouting broccoli but will also have broccoli, cauliflower and turnip. Below the leeks will be courgettes and finally in the furthest right section beetroot will be sown. The cauliflower and courgettes have been sown in pots, the cauliflower seedlings are doing well in a propagator in the hut and the courgettes inside.

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Moving inside, here is the fig tree which will be upgraded in pot size shortly. It’s leaves are coming though and it even has a fig it grew over winter bizarrely.

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There are morning glories in the bathroom about to start climbing and the courgette pots, all safely away from cats and toddlers.

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I cheated and shared a tray of yellow pepper plugs with Mum which are growing on in here alongside electric daisies, which are meant to have flowers that taste of sherbet!

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The chili plant is still going strong and will be potted up soon.

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And finally some basil and my tomato seedlings. There were more until the cats wrecked some of them annoyingly. There are gardener’s delight for outside on the patio when it’s warm and some yellow bush ones that are meant to be quite prolific.

All in all it’s been a fairly productive month but one where there isn’t much yet to show for my efforts. Still, it’s a great feeling seeing the veg plot fill up with sticks indicating that there will be seedlings coming up before long. I just wish the weather would turn and allow some exciting growth. It feels like even more waiting, babies, garden, weather!

Next Steps:

- Continue to sow and bring on seedlings for veg and flowers
- Sow and plant border plants and flowers for summer colour
- Clear and level the side in front of the greenhouse
- Get the lawn in order and put up Sandy’s swing
- Hopefully get to actually enjoy the garden being warm and dry enough to be out in!

End of Pregnancy Mind-loss

I’ve been going a bit doolally in the last week or so. Upon leaving my Mother-in-Laws house for the car with Sandy I told her to “drive safe”. I returned my Mum’s giant glass cookie jar to the counter. If only the counter had been a foot wider it wouldn’t have smashed to pieces all over the floor. God knows what else I’ve been up to as I’m surprised I even remembered those two incidents well enough to relay them in words. Or that I could summon sufficient words to accomplish said task at all.

Sigh. Here’s some cat porn to lighten this up:

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In fact, the reason these cat pictures are here is because I felt very bad for my cats a few days ago and took their picture, which I am aware isn’t the kind of apology they care for but it made me feel better. Well, for about two minutes until one of them did something stupid again which gave me the rage. I remember hating the cats at the end of Sandy’s pregnancy and thinking how I wished I didn’t have them and I only wanted my baby. Well I feel the same now, only more vociferously, and here’s a cat by cat run down of why:

Maisie: Least annoying of the four but still doing things to piss me off. For example, I open the door and mrs oh-so-stealthy sneaks out as if she’s fleeing the fires of hell inside. Whatever cat, get lost, I think. Two minutes later she realises hell’s fire is a lot more cosy than the tundra that is Scotland in March April (sigh) and she’s up at the window, the door, the other window scratching and meowing and going berserk to be let in because some horrible woman let her escape.

Molly: Every night after their dinner cira 6pm the cats are excluded from the rest of the house and kept in the kitchen and playroom. They used to have the whole house but were gradually stripped of their after hours roaming priviledges because of the complete berks they are. We tried letting them in the bedroom once, HAHAHA, never again. Cats jumping on my head in the middle of the night is so not worth that cute five minutes where they lie still in a ball by your belly. Then they were banished from the rest of upstairs due to 2am stair races and general hissing and hair clawing out for no reason sessions. Finally they couldn’t even be trusted in the living room because they started fight club through glass with every cat and it’s mother who chose to roam by the garden making me wake thinking some deranged mentalist was trying to break in. SO they get locked into two rooms and I swear to god, every. single. night, without fail, that bloody Molly is up at the door “mew, mew, mewwwwww, mewwwwoowww” scratching and begging to get out. Every night is the same, we go to the door we, shout at her and tell her to get lost (well, sandy being in bed means usually a lot more is said) and she does. So why, after almost a year, does she still sit their mewing pointlessly EVERY BLINKING TIME?!?!

Julius: Big black man cat SO STRONG. Big black man cat SO TOUGH. Big black man cat KING OF THE UNIVERSE. EEEEEEE! OH NO! SOMEONE WALKED NEAR ME!! I’M GOING TO FREAK OUT AND RUN INTO THEIR LEGS, FULL FORCE, OVER AND OVER AND OVER. Wow, as if trying to walk when pregnant wasn’t enough of a minefield what with swelling, stairs, toddler items all over the place and general disorientation, it’s super helpful to have a massive black blob of muscle piling into your calves every two steps you take. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Julius walk. He’s either sitting still or a flash of startling nuttiness fleeing from something stupid. He literally has zero gentility to his actions. After re-starting fight club on the kitchen window there have now been several instances of me coming down after hearing a big crash to find something broken. But not just a little bit broken, like the most broken anyone could make it. His big thundering legs seem to double kill things in a split second. Like, he knocks over some pots with seedlings in and there isn’t a sided pot with compost on the windowsill, there are six pots indiscriminately found all over the counter and somehow the tiny amount of compost therein is spread over square metres, in bowls and on the hob and the bloody toaster. Oh and there is probably crockery on the floor too, just cause.

Claude: Perhaps the worst. Claude is not a cat. In fact, he is half dog, half alien and no-one ever wanted a half alien pet, even if they like dogs. Claude is scared of everything. A bag! The tap! Someone cutting grass two miles away! Dare to walk within a 4 metre radius of him and he will be scarpering. But it’s not just that it’s the way he slinks so he’s practically crawling and then in his fear runs right into you and gets even more scared. And all you tried to do was walk from the living room to the kitchen. Considering this must be done 50 times a day by me he basically spends 99% of his life running away from things that happen all the time. the other 1% is spent being smelly. Maybe he overcomes his fear and wants to cuddle you, so he curls up on your lap, for a split second, then he gets up and tries for your belly, falls and ends up down the side of the couch, so he gets his blinking claws out and climbs back and curls on your lap again for another split second and lather rinse repeat. Then one of two things happen. 1) you get fed up of being scratched and him never ever just sitting still and push him off you (and then chase him out the room fifteen times to be sure he isn’t coming back) or 2) he gets so ridiculously overjoyed at being near you he emits an odour that can’t even be described it is just so foul it is like the smell you would use to hurry things along in a torture chamber. At which point you fling him and his stinky little bum off you and lock him out and spend half an hour working out which item of your clothing he managed to swipe himself on and get it on a very very hot wash. And then finally, just as you think you are done with your cat drama for the day you notice little brown marks on the floor. Yes, that’s right, it’s cat s***, courtesy of Claude, because while every other cat in the world lives up to that fastidiously clean reputation, Claude permanently has the runs and can’t ever seem to clean himself. So he uses the floor as toilet roll.

Oh my god. I hope none of these “cats are evil” types read this and feel proud in their judgement. Cats are fab pets, but cats and late pregnancy don’t mix. Neither do four cats and a toddler all locked inside so with that we are buying a cat flap asap, getting down to only one indoor litter tray asap and getting those stinky creatures outside as much as possible before I lose it completely.

And breathe. Here is a picture of Sandy’s hair do to bring peace back to the world:

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And I suppose they are pretty cute when no doing anything.

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Sandy got a slide as an early easter present from his Granny.

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He was pretty happy with it.

Also you can see the tail end of a super bruise on his forehead here. This is part of the reason fro the radio silence last week. Basically anytime I stop posting for over a week you know Sandy’s come down with something. A simple episode of teething can evolve into a week of hell with temperatures, stressed mothers and head shaped dents in the bedroom wall. Trips to a&e = no fun. And then Sandy always seems to need a good few days after all the trouble to get back to anywhere near happy. Then he suddenly snaps back to himself and it takes me a few days to resume regular scheduled programming too.

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We made it though, as we always do, and I hope beyond hope that nothing like that happens within the first month of this new baby’s life.

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Anyway, that’s all. A rather disjointed post based mostly on repressed pregnant lady rage to get back in the swing of things. I’ll be out in the garden for the March round-up post this afternoon and next week after my 37 week appointment with my midwife I’ll have a post all about home birth preparations. Also a nursery decoration post coming soon.

Some family shots to end:

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Passing Time

Right now I’m suspended in the end of pregnancy. I remember writing of how it felt in the final weeks of Sandy’s pregnancy, like I was in a mist and after each day passed it seemed as though it was months ago it had happened, carved into history already. The final stages of a pregnancy moves slowly, and you feel as though you are floating, not moving, as though existing in a viscous environment which turns everything into slow motion. You pause for a minute and the thing you were just doing has gone and you are stuck, still not advanced to the next imminent chapter of your life, but far from anything that has gone before.

With Sandy it was the end of an era, the childless era. An epoch of marital bliss, marriage without proper strain. Looking back now, those two years as a wife and I wasn’t any different to how I was before. I’d not been single for years but I may as well have been because Stuart practically is me. We merged into one and all the little things we did, well it seemed as though he was the left arm and I the right. When I think back to the time just before Sandy came it was so still, like a muggy day without a breath. I suppose that’s what waiting feels like. And impatience.

The first week of Sandy’s life was a haze too but a different one. Time passed, I was aware of that, and days flew in, yet the haze still existed but it was inside me now, not an external environment. A mind engulfed by love hormones that left me crying over his little body because how could something this beautiful and perfect be mine . I’m sure that’s not an unusual response to bringing one’s first born into the world.

After that though time returned to normal. Slowly the days became their normal length and my mind perceived the passing of time as it should be. Days became longer and the counting of hours began when it was tough and I felt as though normality returned somewhat, in regards to time. I’d be waiting for Stuart’s arrival home again. I used to wait for him arriving back before Sandy because for me the evenings were when I changed from just me to the full me, the one where we were the same person. After Sandy I would wait for him to come not because we were the same person but because I was fully aware of us being two people, two sets of hands, two tanks of patience – levels therein irrelevant – two parents for a baby who demanded as much as he could get from us.

Now Sandy and I await the arrival of Daddy, we look forward to him coming in and we spend a blissful hour playing on the floor. We all sit or lie and Sandy plays with his cars and we talk about our days and show pictures we’ve taken as if every time we’ve been apart we’ve been on separate holidays. But now I can feel the fog returning as I near the end. It’s three weeks til I’m term and six until my due date. The impatience is clear and it seems different but just as vigorous this time. Last time it was an impatience to move on to the new chapter of my life, so much anticipation of becoming a mother. This time I know what’s coming and that it will be equally challenging and blissful, so I don’t long for it with such fervor. In that sense I think I would be happy to just let time pass as it does but it’s the discomfort of pregnancy that keeps me wishing for things to go quickly. I’ve been wishing since last September. I’m disinterested in the day. I don’t want to do things. I forced the second trimester’s sort of revival of energy to far outlast it’s time frame and I have done things. I enjoyed food because I couldn’t enjoy other things (exercise, sleep, ability to move normally) and I nested. Oh how I’ve nested. I’ve nested our house right into submission. Yesterday I was plugging holes with wall filler and painting over the marks. But enthusiasm for even these things, the things that typically define my existence, is waning. It’s not that I don’t want to do it, it’s that I don’t want to do it while I feel so unable. Just like how you wouldn’t want to waste a trip to your favourite restaurant on a time when you weren’t hungry. I’m settling into the mist and it is a period of waiting. I’m not a patient person; this is not my forte.

I know things will be hard when the baby arrives, and I know to even get there I have to get through the labour. Each day that passes doesn’t feel like I’ve achieved anything. If days were weeks then maybe but until it is days I won’t feel that it’s close. I imagine all the things I would do in six weeks if I were at my peak, it’s a lot, and that’s a long time. I’ve wished away nine months it seems and I’m not even that bothered. A friend who is five weeks into being a mum for the second time advised me to enjoy the end of the pregnancy, citing the sleeplessness and the juggling as reasons to look back with envy. I know she meant well but it irritated me, probably because I’m impatient. This has been a horrible pregnancy. I know I am blessed that it’s been healthy, the baby is great and nothing has gone wrong. But it’s a bit like saying that just because someone’s horrible illness isn’t as bad as others that they don’t suffer through it. No-one knows what pregnancy feels like to another person, it’s so individual, and all I know is I’m not made for enjoying this. I’m not a dweller, I like to move forward, I like a new project. Things are going to be tough but I just keep remembering how wonderful it felt to have my body back. Even on that postnatal ward, hobbling along on sore stitches and still quite an odd size, I felt infinitely more comfortable than I had just days prior.

I keep telling people I’m never doing this again. And they keep it up with the “oh you’re young, you’ll change your mind” as if I’m coming at it from a place of delusion. Not everyone wants tonnes of children. I always wanted two, and Stuart wanted three. But he’s seen how I do this and was telling me before this pregnancy that one was fine, he didn’t want to put me through it again. I love him for that. But I wanted to give Sandy what we both had in a sibling, that’s the reason for this baby, to complete us. There is such pressure to enjoy pregnancy, and such an onus on the fact that a mother and baby are simply alive at the end of it as being the only important thing. Similarly when people ask if you have a preference about the sex and you feel obliged to say “as long as it’s healthy”. As if we are all in cloud nine where we feel no hardship and are so easygoing that preferences fail to exist. People tell me I’m blooming and I tell them it’s nice that I look like I am even if I don’t feel it. I don’t get how everyone looks at it with rose tinted spectacles because I got that positive result and as soon as the joy of conception wore off the memories of the horrible side of it was forefront in my mind. So this will be my last pregnancy and if I do ever have to announce another it won’t be because I suddenly got broody. I’ve dealt with PTSD and AND now and I think a lot of people can’t comprehend how hard things can get for seemingly no reason. I’m just happy to have gotten to this point where I can see the finishing line and get back to a point in my life where I feel like myself and I can give my cherished babies everything I’ve got, and the best of me, not just what I can scrape together from the floor each morning.

So I’m heading into the fog and hope to see you all on the other side with a lot to look forward to.

At the Park

Just a quickie to post some rather adorable shots of Sandy at a very nice and special park not too far from us. The park where we live is a quagmire at the moment and if we try to take Sandy he just stands in puddles for ten minutes then has a meltdown that his feet are, unsurprisingly, cold and wet. And his wellies don’t fit yet and he tends to have a meltdown if you try and put them on him. ANYWAY…

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We took him to this park after three – yes, read that again, THREE – whole days where it hasn’t rained. This meant we were able to safely navigate across the grass without drowning to get to the safety of the wood chipped play area which seems to drain well.

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It was actually glorious weather the two days prior to this and we were pretty disappointed to find it decidedly cool and murky looking, but Sandy wasn’t too bothered, as you can see. I’m sat here now in the study typing this and watching next door’s bin making a bid for freedom up the street as the winds strengthen and I remember that, yes, that’s right, there’s stormy and very wet weather forecast for all next week. Just what our clay garden needs, more rain!

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Anyway, back to the park. Sandy had a ball. He loves a free rein and hates to be constrained. It seems he has a sort of tolerance level fuel gauge that goes down every time his hand is taken or he is asked to go a certain way. I’m getting pretty good at judging it but there are still often times when he runs to empty and a simple, “Sandy, not over there” will involve him lying face down on the ground in full meltdown.

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Remember that post I did about how we overcame his tantrums a few months back? Yeah, well those tactics were clearly made for the minor storms he was testing us with then, because these are proper hurricanes and nothing seems to fix them. He has brought a degree of physicality to them too which I’m not sure how to handle just yet either.

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Regardless, I’m finding it is becoming very necessary for him to get a good stretch of his legs each day or he’s restless and antsy. It’s lovely coming home and watching him play quietly with his garage, knowing he’s blown off the steam he needed to release and can now wind down for bed.

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He has a ball exploring and running and falling over outside. I just wish the weather would keep improving to make this pursuit a little less soggy and windswept. I’m carrying far too much weight (and people) to be wearing layers, not to mention lugging a toddler and his full kit on my back too.

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We played at the park for a while and then made our way down to the pond where there is a smaller children’s play area.

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He’s almost big enough to do this himself if it wasn’t for the fact he forgets to duck under the bars and doesn’t know to lift his shoes to go down the slide!

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It won’t be long though. I just hope he understands danger a bit more by then too!

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Sandy claimed this grandstand as his own by closing the gate on us. Nice.

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There was time for a quick spin on the merry-go-round before getting back into the car, a little chilly but quite content, where Sandy restored his energy levels by chomping away messily on biscuits, bread sticks and raspberry licorice.

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Home Made Hooded Towel Poncho

Last year I was hankering after one of those little ponchos made of towelling to put on Sandy after he’d gotten out of the pool but I never bought one. I got as far as almost the till but put it back, mainly because it was £15 for a piece of towel no larger than a hand towel practically. This is a common pursuit for me, shopping for things and then putting them back thinking “I could make it for cheaper”.

Except I didn’t make it, I kept saying I was going to but we weren’t swimming much and I never had the right towel so it never got made. Then we started swimming lessons every week and the need for it returned, especially as Sandy sat on the bench in the changing room trying simultaneously to keep his towel around his chilly shoulders and eat four biscuits at once. So I sought out the towel and I made it and here’s a very un-precise way to do it.

Firstly buy your towel, or use one you already have. Sandy is now 19 months and this bath towel was a perfect fit, but if making it for a littley you could get away with a hand towel probably. I reckon this will last him a good way past two but for ages higher than that a bath sheet is probably necessary. I got this lovely striped one from IKEA.

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Work out the length you need. This one fits Sandy to the ankles so plenty of room and then cut off the excess and hem the bit you cut.

Now lay out a current long sleeve top of your child on the towel as shown. You want to get a few pins and mark where you will sew the two sides of the towel together to form the sleeves.

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Look closely under the armpits in this picture to see where I have marked where I sewed them. You don’t want to sew too close to either the edge or the side of the shirt, it’s just enough to keep the towel on the arms loosely.

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Next form the neck hole by firstly cutting a straight line in the top of the towel along the fold. I cut the hole about 1/3 as long as the towel (in the middle of course). Then you want to mark a neckline on the front only and cut in periodically as shown in the picture. You will then sew these flaps down into the inside of the poncho to form a neat line.

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To make the hood take the off cut from the original towel and form two of these shapes (see picture.) Hem along the edge of the part of the hood that will frame the face and then turn the two pieces so the outside face in to each other and sew along the join to form the hood shape.

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Sew the hood onto the back of the neck line by turning the poncho over to it’s back, laying the hood as it would lie if being worn but not up and sew along the divide, but don’t sew the hood part down beyond the cut in the towel. You will then sew the “flaps” onto the front neck line as you can see in the next picture.

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Woohoo, here it is! You can neaten up the insides as much as you like by sewing down any loose fabric and neatening the seams.

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And here is Sandy trying it on for size rather awkwardly, being clothed underneath.

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It’s hard to get him still enough to take pictures sometimes and you end up with ones like this!

And what could be better than a simple guide to making a towel poncho for your little darling? Adorable photos of my little darling immediately post-nap, just prior to me making him model said garment. Enjoy :)

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Tuesdays

Tuesdays must be Sandy’s favourite day of the week.

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Main reason for that? It’s swimming day!

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We start out the morning with playing downstairs. Yesterday was a lovely day. There’s something about the sun which makes me feel so much more optimistic. The day prior I just felt like I couldn’t be bothered doing anything, and as much as I was in a perfect situation to indulge in laziness, it’s not because I wanted to be lazy but because my body felt too tired to do things. And actually, I really did want to be busy. Yesterday though the sun came out and we started the morning this way and soon I was dancing to Jools Holland like an absolute berk for my captive audience who clapped along as I wore my pregnant self out and had to lie down for a few minutes to recover.

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As a side note, Sandy’s talking is coming along here. He seems not to be expanding his vocabulary so much as perfecting several words of late. He does a perfect ‘car’ and ‘house’ is almost there. These said bouncing up and down on the windowsill first thing every morning pointing.

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Also on the grow: HAIR!

Anyway, we tend to play til he’s getting a bit fed up and then go up and have a shower. By which I mean Sandy gleefully struts into the shower while I tidy upstairs in peace before joining him. Then it’s snack and soon naptime, half an hour early at 10:30 because swimming is at 1.

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Our local pool, for all it is a bit run down, it is quiet, warm and they even let me take a few snaps of Sandy.

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These photos don’t even do it justice how much he enjoys himself. He giggles for the whole hour he is in there.

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At first I wasn’t sure what to make of the lessons. They are bargainous (under £4 each) which helped but I was worried Sandy was in the wrong class at first as all the other babies were, well, babies. Most being under 8 months old. The first week we went a different instructor was taking the class and he wasn’t very good. Turns out though he was a trainee and once the original instructor came things proved much better.

Sandy hated most of the lesson at first. Reason one – they put him in a tied up pool noodle. Normally he’d love it (and he does now) but he went berserk. He would barely even tolerate it tied around me and him as he cuddled me. Then there was the fact he wasn’t able to run about which is a big negative for the boy who can’t stop moving. And finally he had to be dunked under water all the time. Eep!

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But like the instructor reassured us this only lasted a few lessons and now a couple of months in he leaps into that pool noodle giggling. He kicks as he swims and he even has been starting to learn how to hold a float and keep his chin on the end of it so soon he should be able to swim with those aids and no holding from me. He is great at going underwater now and takes it as par for the course as well as learning how to jump in from the side and hold on to the edge, which is great training in case he ever fell in on his own.

So all in all we LOVE our swimming lessons.

It had been my plan to take Sandy myself up until baby number two arrived and then have my Dad take him afterwards but honestly I love it so much I think it would be a better idea for Dad to come with the three of us and for him to be with the baby until they are big enough to swim too, so I can still spend that special time with Sandy. I’m becoming more and more aware every day that all the things we do just me and him, and all our special one-on-one moments are going to be threatened soon.

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Usually after swimming we go for lunch. Sometimes we go to a small garden centre near our home with a tiny soft play area Sandy can just run in and out of. This week though we went upscale and made the trip to Dobbies, it being such nice weather and all.

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The great thing about having been swimming is that it makes Sandy quite happy to actually be contained. For a little while anyway. He even spent a good ten minutes making a very intricate drawing.

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This is sweet, now if you ask “who is Sandy?” he does this!

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We took a stroll outside and Sandy played in greenhouse frames while I wished I could afford to buy one for the garden.

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He decided it was a little too chilly to really go alfresco though…

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After this we went around the charity petting zoo and Sandy held a guinea pig. It was so funny, he was so confused about it, wouldn’t touch the guinea pig, just sort of stared at it. No crying or trying to get away. Strange, especially as he isn’t at all shy about petting his cats or any dogs that are around.

Yes, so Tuesdays are good days for us. It’s nice when the time is filled with things I know he will be happy doing. I’m just trying to treasure these last few weeks where we lie on the floor just the two of us after a busy day and he cuddles me and blows raspberries on my bump. He doesn’t know what’s in there or that it’s presence is going to change our Mummy and Sandy times drastically, and very soon.

Chocolate Chip Shortbread Brownies

Why have one when you can have both? I saw things like this on pinterest and never got around to making them, then yesterday just decided to have a crack at it before Sandy got home. Wow, super easy and ridiculously tasty.

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Chocolate Chip Shortbread Brownies

1. Make the shortbread dough by rubbing together 112g soft butter, 50g caster sugar and 125g plain flour in a bowl. As it comes together mix in chocolate chips or chunks. Pop it in the fridge.

2. Make the brownie dough by melting 50g chocolate, 100g butter and 200g sugar. Whisk in two eggs and 1tsp vanilla before folding in 100g self raising flour.

3. Grease and flour a square tin (8 inches). Roll out the shortbread to roughly the size of the tin on a floured worktop then press it gently to the bottom of the tin. On top of this pour the brownie mix spreading evenly.

4. Bake at 180 degrees until the brownie is firm at the sides but still a little wobbly in the middle. Cool well before cutting and taking from the tin.

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Then eat them all.