Sandy’s First Day of Nursery

On Wednesday 19th August 2015, I officially became the mother of a big boy.

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This beauty, this love, this absolute hunky dreamboat of a boy…

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… well, he went to nursery for the first time ever.

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It’s his local nursery and he’s going four mornings a week. We got his little uniform ready and the big day dawned, so we got up, mourned the end of lazy mornings not dressing til after Roslyn’s midday nap, and headed out to walk to his first morning there!

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My big lad!

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(Aside: see Roslyn ending herself in the background as I shouted “big poos! jobbies” etc to make Sandy smile for the photos)

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At this point it would be very unwise to inform me that soon enough it will be Roslyn going too, as some cheeky blighters have chosen to do *stern*

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So here he is in all his glory…

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My big boy… *sob sob* excuse me while I cry into my pillow and think of the little scrap of flesh he once was.

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We walked over and went inside, found his coat hook and bag cubby (labelled with his own little independent I-go-places-without-my-mummy name *sob sob*) and met his teacher. We wandered into the classroom and he just walked off and played. Just like that. So we left and went into the room to wait and just be there if he needed us. We checked on him through the window on the door a few times and saw him playing with the water and generally exploring. He came through to meet us after an hour quite the thing, the only negative for him being the perplexed feeling he got when told they only had milk or water, not juice. Can’t win them all though, can we?

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As Stuart and I walked home with him he said that, as much as he didn’t want to sound like a cliche, it was the first day of the rest of his life. His own life that doesn’t necessarily revolve around his family, namely, me and Stuart. I agreed. It just feels far too soon somehow.

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The next day didn’t go as smoothly as he cried and said he was shy and didn’t want to go in. The teacher asked me to leave and stay in the room to see if he settled, and I could hear him shouting “mummy! MUMMYYYY!” as I walked away which was hard. But I’ve been there before on his days with his grandparents so I wasn’t too phased. In the end he lay on the floor for five minutes refusing to speak to anyone then got up and started interacting. He had his snack and I was told to come back in an hour and they’d call if I was needed. I wasn’t and he spent his 1.5hours happily without me. He later told me that he’d had milk and a banana as his snack and that he “played with toys and water with girls”. Super stuff.

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He’s not been since that second day due to illness which has kept him off all week long. He will be back this week and hopefully will progress nicely to spending his mornings happily there.

Go Sandy!

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Mum’s Birthday/ Marjorie Visits

Just a quick one. I’m squeezing a blog in now as I’m about to head out on a spa break! It was me and Stuart’s 5th wedding anniversary yesterday and stuart surprised me with a last minute overnight stay at Mar Hall with a full body massage and mud treatment for the pair of us, plus dinner and breakfast. To say I can’t wait is an understatement. Roslyn was in hospital overnight again two days ago and Sandy’s been unwell too with a temperature. Between the one hours sleep on hospital night and the consistent whining, moaning and fighting from the pair of them this spa break could not be timed better. I thought this as I wrestled Roslyn’s shoes on while she headbutted my chin, before cheerily bundling them off into the car to Gran’s house. BYEEEEE!!

I’m sure I will be missing them in, I don’t know, about 30 minutes, when I come across a pair of pants in the sink or a bottle of festering milk from three nights ago lodged down the back of the sofa. My sweet babies.

It is Roslyn’s first ever sleepover with Tate and Pa tonight. Hooray for me but she still doesn’t actually sleep so Tate and Pa are officially a pair of suckers. Enjoy the wee hours guys!! (I kid. Kind of. Well, let’s see…)

So I digress but here are a few photos from Mum and Sandy’s joint birthday party (yes, he is the queen) which was also Marjorie’s visit. It was a lovely afternoon and I will let the photographs speak for themselves as I rush off to de-fuzz in preperation for being pampered, well fed and given a FULL NIGHT’S SLEEP for the first time in several years. Cheerio!

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Sandy’s Year of Being Two

Happy Birthday to my little Sandman who turned three on 2nd August!

It’s been quite a year for my boy…

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August brought the transition to big boy bed, his first time on a boat, and finally starting to eat better…

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September was for exploration, berry picking and cake making….

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October saw pumpkins and first jokes told…

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November we wrapped up warm, and battled bugs…

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December brought snow and the excitement of Santa…

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January we bounced, blew bubbles and hit up all the soft plays…

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February held love, athletics, orchestras and kelpies…

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March saw spring, the park and the races…

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April brought eggs hunts, picnics and mummy going to work…

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May there was a sister’s birthday, a wedding and saying bye to nappies…

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June was for beaches, gardens and parades…

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And July was for holidays and anticipation of turning three.

We love you so much Sandy, here’s to another fantastic year!

5 Ways Being a Mum Made me a Better Person

Something I keep coming back to recently is how I’ve changed in the last three years. I think of how I handle things and imagine how different these scenarios would have been prior to becoming a Mum. I’ve learned a lot since having them and in some ways it feels like I’ve done a decade’s worth of personal development in less than a third of the time. There are character traits I’ve toned down, or lost completely, and new attributes I’ve gained. Nearly all of this change has been positive and it’s a nice feeling to know that not only did I gain two new people in the last three years, I also received a better me.

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Patient

I’ve never been a patient person. I do things quickly or not at all, and those who do things slowly or ineffectively would have been disregarded. While being impatient can be positive – in relation to getting things done – it was always something I disliked about myself but found very hard to change. Changing any part of your character is hard, and without changing the structure around yourself it is nigh on impossible. I had all I needed pre-children and thus not enough impetus to change. But of course when Sandy exploded it my life things did change and I found it very difficult to adapt; the most difficult thing I’ve ever done in fact. But the result of this was that my patience has grown. I doubt I will ever be described as patient, but being a little less impatient is progress enough for me, and I continue to work on it. Being unable to rush things – like rocking a baby to sleep, getting a newborn tummy full, or managing out the door on time despite last minute nappy changes – forced me to be patient.

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Selfless

Having children has also forced me to put other people’s needs ahead of my own desires. I realise now that all my decision making pre-babies seemed to myself to be normal, but was in fact entirely selfish. I was just so caught up in my own life – that being me doing what I wanted – that I literally couldn’t see other people’s going on beside mine. It feels awful to admit that but because being selfish didn’t bring me direct harm I never realised or changed. It wasn’t until being selfish resulted in a lot of crying and heartache that I realised how self-centred I was. It’s hard to go from devoting nearly all your resources to yourself to pretty much your entire efforts to another being. Add in the inability to ever step away from these duties and you have a person who is a little bit shell shocked, but emerges from the change as a far more selfless person. Don’t get me wrong, I still love to do things for me, but it’s all too often now that the children have had their second meal of the day and I still haven’t had a drink since I woke.

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Accepting

Stuart often tells me that I am a person who “doesn’t suffer fools” and he is pretty spot on with this analysis. Certainly when it comes to most interactions this remains the case. I find it hard to defer to anyone who seems less qualified or intelligent than me. Yet this also spilled over into disliking those with different opinions, or different aims, or ever different daily schedules. I found it so hard to comprehend why others wouldn’t do things just like me. Since I had the kids though I realise that we are all individuals with different strengths and weaknesses, none less than myself. I see Sandy trying to climb the big kids frame at the park; or Roslyn struggling to get the spoon in her mouth and I realise that with a little patience also comes acceptance of our shortfalls. I can see other people’s views more now and try hard to sit on the fence at least for a little while. Even if something someone does is completely against my perspective it all boils down to me thinking “but that’s someone’s baby”. The idea that this person is to another how Sandy or Roslyn are to me means I can be nothing but accepting.

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Humility

And with this acceptance comes some humility, for you have to admit often that you are not always right. I had a lot of trouble with this before and I literally always thought I was right. Being a high(ish) performer throughout my life (which consisted of only education really) I was pretty arrogant, and I came to the conclusion that continual good results on course work meant continual good results in life; something which couldn’t be further from the truth. People can never always be right – something which is taught well by babies. You try what worked the day before and it doesn’t. You are wrong and there is no logic. You think you are amazing because you got them to eat and then you can’t anymore and all arrogance melts away until it feels like you have no expectation of success left at all, so the only way is up. I used to be too confident, and then I lost it all following Sandy, but it’s been coming back and I’m hopeful my children have taught me to balance arrogance and humility.

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Adaptable

Finally, I am infinitely more adaptable than I was pre-children. Not only was I forced to be flexible in relation to plans, timings and my own wishes, it was demanded of me that I take a myriad of tasks and somehow fit them all in to a day, despite respite from being needed by children being a few minute spells, sporadically scattered throughout the day. So I email while I feed and I shower with them. Errands are done on the way to work and anything else requires a joint nap. It’s hard to complete tasks with constant interruption and never your whole focus, but it is achievable. I used to write on my CV about how efficient I was and laugh now, knowing the powers I now possess for getting stuff done in a frenzy.

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I constantly feel grateful to Sandy and Roslyn, not only for bringing themselves to me, but bringing a better me along with them. Nobody likes change, but sometimes when it happens, the positives that come from it are worth the anguish endured in adapting.

Dummies: Good or Bad?

Like pretty much most mums-to-be, I firmly advocated that I would not be giving my baby a dummy. I don’t know why I felt that way, but I did. When Sandy arrived he fed. And he fed. And he fed and fed and fed and we pretty much got to the point where we knew he wasn’t hungry anymore and just feeding because he liked it. Being recently kidnapped from a time when I could do what I wanted, when I wanted, I found the transition to being at a little scrap of flesh’s beck and call 24 hours a day rather constraining. And frustrating. And nervous breakdown enducing. Don’t get me wrong, I loved being a Mum, and I adored breastfeeding, but that Stuart couldn’t just take over drove me a little batty. So we relented and popped that infamous bit of plastic in his mouth and he finallystopped sucking on me for enough time that I could shower, eat and just generally restore a drop of sanity to my life. From that moment on the dummy was never out of sight and it stayed firmly in his little mouth at several times a day for the next two and a half years.

At first I was ashamed of it. I remember vividly carrying him in his sling. He was sleeping with his dummy in and I was approaching the NCT baby meet up group and I slipped the dummy out of his mouth as I entered the room, hiding it. I couldn’t be sure where this embarrassment came from but it was certainly there. After a few weeks though I stopped caring as I realised a lot of mums were sticking fake nipples in their babies faces and, more importantly, these babies were not crying. We picked up many dummies and helpful clips to keep them in place. They littered his cot and the bottom of my bag, and if I was ever without one sheer panic set in. The dummy was there to stay, and it did.

When Roslyn came around then my pre-Sandy concerns over dummies were of course non-existent. In the top drawer of her dresser lay several brand new dummies, in the brand that Sandy had enjoyed, and a new strap too. We were all set for her to suck away on them to her heart’s content. Of course life being the way it is Roslyn decided that no piece of plastic was going to replace her Mummy and gagged and chocked as soon as the thing approached her lips. She even once projectile vomited as I placed it gently in her mouth, such was her aversion. I tried without fail, putting it in when she was upset (nope), when she was already asleep (double nope) and leaving them lying around her when she was old enough to grab them (yeah right). In the car she gleefully played with the dummy on its strap until she was tired then she threw it across the back seat and cried until I pulled the car over in some ridiculous spot and fed her standing up outside the back door, slipping her back in the seat and racing off so she would finally rest. The girl hated dummies, and I am still at a loss how to get her to settle without a nipple in her mouth.

Still, despite my pushing the dummy on to Roslyn, there was a little part of me which felt proud that she wouldn’t take it. I really, really do not know what that is. I’ve racked my brain, thinking of my initial aversion and I can only assume it is deep seated in society and culture but I still can’t put my finger on it. I wish I didn’t feel it, because it means I’m judging, and I wish I hadn’t felt it, and had just given it to Sandy in the first place.

But what of the actual differences in life with and without dummies. Honestly, there is quite a lot, because – putting it bluntly – I am now the dummy. Roslyn needs me in a way Sandy never did. Don’t get me wrong, he loved and wanted me, and preferred me to others, yet he was happy to go off (dummy in mouth) with any of his family. Roslyn on the other hand took a significant amount of easing in to being away from me. In fact I don’t think she even did leave me until she was 9 months old, even for a moment. I remember my Mum taking her out for an hour – a mere hour! – at 10 months old and returning to tell me she had been fine, but was getting upset at the end of the hour, needing me. Me, of course, being my boobs. And it is still the same. I just went to get her from her cot and carried her down the stairs as she pulled at my top and shouted “boobs boobs juice!” (something she replicated during my PhD supervisors review meeting, rather embarrassingly). When I am there, Roslyn will not be with another. She cries for me even though I am a metre from her. When I’m gone she is fine however and I can only sum up that it is like leaving a dummy on the floor in the room with the baby and keeping the baby from crawling over to get it. I know I am much more to her than a dummy, but it is being her dummy that stops her from needing me quite so much.

Would I change it though? At this point no, I wouldn’t. Mostly because I have persevered this far and it would be like putting that work straight in the bin. Would I go back and magically have her take a dummy? Maybe. Yet I coped fine in the end and I can only attribute that to experience. With Sandy I was so unprepared and acclimatised to life with a needy little sucker that the relief the dummy got me was far more important than it would have been if Roslyn had taken it. It occurs to me that my aversion to dummies stems probably from their being unnatural. Let’s face it, hundreds of years ago there weren’t dummies and women coped just fine. Yet life was geared for coping in a way that it isn’t now. When rearing children was the focus of life and a bad night’s clusterfeeding could easily result in a day resting rather than doing all the things necessary in modern society. And even if it was harder than that, and more needed done, the extended family would have been far closer, far more involved and far more able to allow the Mum to cope.

In sum I think of dummies as a modern answer to modern motherhood, a means of alleviating the pressure on mums who are the sole focus of their infants’ lives, but also people with demands of the home and work and friendship. People who are used to having other interests and purposes than raising children and who are not prepared in the same way for the task as they once would be. I’m fine with Roslyn not taking a dummy because our breastfeeding relationship is closer, more natural and longer than it was with Sandy. And I am fine with Sandy taking the dummy because he enjoyed it, he slept far better than Roslyn, and I was able to continue my PhD, my life and my sanity during that delicate new mum era.

Potty Training at 2 Years 9 Months

Sandy is now potty trained.

HOORAY

It was a pretty average experience I think, not incredibly easily, but by no means hard. To be honest, I was really dreading potty training, I think more than any other aspect of parenthood. It wasn’t as bad as I thought though. Honestly.

We tried a few times in the past six months to sit him on the potty, to give him pants, to let him run around naked, but nothing stuck and we didn’t pursue it. He probably would have been fine if I’d been up for it but I wasn’t, and he was happy in nappies. When he was 2 years and 9 months old though we just decided to make a go of it and do the naked weekend.

At first it started not great. He couldn’t go on the potty. He would sit on it but nothing would come. Then a few minutes after he got off he would pee on the floor. We made no big deal of it and asked him to try and go to the potty next time. It took a good day of accidents before finally, when we were eating dinner and he had run off to play, he came racing over shouting “I did it! I did it!” and right enough there was a pee in the potty. This sounds a bit sad given the context but I actually have never felt more proud of him. It was that pride that surges up your chest into your throat and you feel so much bigger because of it. You should’ve seen his face too, so proud of himself.

From there he spent the next few days doing all his pees on the potty from being naked and we were highly impressed with the success levels. The only problem came to having pants on. He would just pee in them. We did manage to get him from just peeing in them to holding and going to the potty but the problem was that he couldn’t go when he got there. That was the hardest part of the whole thing, getting him to go on command so to speak. He tried to push a pee out, which was of course fruitless. In the end we just kept trying with no pressure, lots of praise and stickers on his chart, and he did get it. It was actually on the big toilet at the wedding we went to and he was so happy. Prior to this outing we had been at the museum, potty in tow, and had accidents, and sitting on the potty to no avail, but after the wedding he just got it and he’s been great ever since!

The poos came later and are still more unreliable. If naked he did, and does, them on the potty every time. If he has pants on though there are instances of him using them as nappies again. If you can see him needing to go and catch him he will happily do it on the potty or toilet, it’s just if he gets distracted, which I read is totally normal.

So all in all I am happy with the progress. The fears I had of accidents everywhere, rushing to find toilets and not being able to go out were unfounded. Well done Sandy!

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Sandy & Roslyn’s First Wedding

Sandy and Roslyn attended their first wedding last weekend. It was Stuart’s cousin Hazel and her partner Brendan’s wedding at Stenbrooke Castle Hotel in Glasgow. The first thing I thought of when I saw the invite addressed to the four of us was TINY LITTLE KILT. And the second thing was TINY LITTLE FROCK.

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We couldn’t decide between hiring a kilt for Sandy or buying one. In the end we decided to buy one so he would be able to keep it as his first kilt and when I had found a vintage green velvet waistcoat the deal was sealed.

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It was pretty fun buying all the little kilt bits for him. We got his kilt, shirt and hose online; his waistcoat and sporran from a vintage shop, and his shoes are from Schuh (of course!)

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Our fair lady was wearing Kiin by John Lewis and knitting (including hair clip) by Granny Tate.

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Hazel looked beautiful in her dress, I loved the lace especially, and Brendan looked very smart too. I certainly should mention that among my fawning over my own spawn.

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At first Sandy was NOT keen to wear his kilt. He had just woken from a nap (planned to allow him to stay up late) and we had to get out the door. “No like that! Mummy! Take it off!” was all that could be heard as I dressed him in his room. But as soon as he saw Stuart emerge in his kilt and realised he was wearing one too, he was overjoyed. He then noticed that Stuart was dressed in the same as he was wearing on our wedding photograph which he found hilarious.

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Little chops wore her charm bracelet out for the first time too which was lovely. It was a great ceremony, Hazel had specified that it was to be family friendly with kids running and chatting as they pleased which took the pressure off! But some biscuits ensured that they were perfectly behaved anyway and we were very proud parents.

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While the bride and groom headed off for photographs, we decided to do the same. It was a lovely sunny day, if a tad windy (hello marilyn monroe type situation for me, though infinitely less attractive) so we went into the gardens and tried to get some pictures together.

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Sandy’s kilt became a bit of a floor length garment due to his skinny waist. Now he’s out of nappies (post to follow on that soon!!) there is little to hold up his clothes around his figure (clearly inherited from Stuart’s side of the family I hasten to add) and his kilt kept flopping down. It was largely due to my buying him a 3-4 not a 2-3 because there would be no wear in it!
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My beauties with “the castle”

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And there I am in a photo for posterity, rocking my Aunt Lib’s fascinator and everything.

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So we tired for a family timer shot. Sandy ran away and his kilt fell down. Yep.

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We succeeded on the next attempt though!

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Inside, Sandy gave Hazel a decorated horseshoe for good luck. We’re all about the traditions in this family.

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And we hung out with Gran and Granda while waiting for dinner. Sandy and Rozzie mostly played under a table with their big cousins.

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Beautiful.

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She poked him in the eye.

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Me and my little lady.

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Me getting beaten by my little lady.

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And then an apologetic kiss. Forgiven, I suppose.

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Me and the husband (inherently attractive couple)

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While we waiting on starters coming Sandy made do with crackers, and chose to eat them rather daintily with a spoon.

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He was perfect all day, waiting on dinner, eating it up, doing colouring and then clapping at all the speeches like a tiny wee version of a man!

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And little Channa was great too despite ongoing reactions to her jags and teething making eating something she stuck her nose up at.

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Stuart missed his dinner. Maisie (one of our four cats) was at the Vet overnight due to an unidentified illness, poor mogger. We got the call she was being discharged so Stuart headed to get her, drop her home, and come back, poor man. And I was left with two children approaching their usual bedtime at a big event, poor woman. Luckily Anne looked after Sandy while I tried in vain to get Rozzie a nap. It only took an hour of cajoling and comfort feeding to get her to sleep. Then the band came on and she woke up poor dear. She did very well though and spent the last hour of the night dozing on her dad’s chest, little doll. Meanwhile, Sandy busted a move…

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Children dancing uninhibited at weddings has always been one of those things I’d watch pre-kids and think I’d love to have. One of those over-sentimentalised ideas that rarely transpire, as reality is always a lot harsher, harder and (when it comes to children) messier than you envisaged. However on this night it was true to my wishes. I stood and watched this little person that Stuart and I had made, who not too long ago was a scrap of flesh first placed on my chest all pink and staring, and I felt so emotional.

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He was running, and dancing, bringing all these moves I never knew he’d seen or had, grinning, laughing, falling and jumping back up. He was dancing with his cousins and everyone was watching him entranced by the cuteness of his toddler moves. And I just couldn’t take my eyes off him. That moment had come for me and I felt like we were starting to emerge from the first year’s ‘grin and bare it’ mentality, that it is necessary to adopt when you have two under two. Like things can only improve and they are already good so what’s to come is going to be fantastic indeed.

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And then his kilt fell down and Roslyn wailed and I was thrown out of my soppy haze and back to tending to the needs of my littles. PJs on and boobs out and one quick first dance watched before we bundled into the car and headed for the hills after a great day, careful not to tempt fate by staying too long. We’re still in the trenches but we are a highly skilled army of two now, Stuart and I, and it’s only up from here.

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The Kelpies

We visited the Kelpies last weekend. I’ve been meaning to go for a long time and finally we did.

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The highly safe in car wide-angle DSLR selfie.

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Sandy was very taken with all the little pathways by the water and insisted on jumping whenever he could. Not good for his Daddy’s nerves!

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Poor Roslyn didn’t enjoy the trip that much due to teething woes and being hungry but unwilling to eat at this point. Plus we went with the buggy not the sling and, my, that girl is so a sling baby.

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KELPIETASTIC!

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Gratuitous fact 1: A kelpie is a Scottish shape-shifting spirit that emerges from a pool of water

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Gratuitous fact 2: The word Kelpie comes from the Gaelic ‘calpa’ which means colt (a young male horse)

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Gratuitous fact 3: You will have heard of the Loch Ness Monster before, but did you know it is a kelpie?

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Gratuitous fact 4: Most kelpies take equine forms, but some are human.

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Gratuitous fact 5: Most of Scotland’s bodies of water have an associated kelpie in folklore.

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I won’t keep going! But I can’t believe I’m Scottish and didn’t know all this interesting information. You learn something new every day and all that.

Anyway, they are magnificent and well worth a visit as the pictures just don’t do their majesty justice.

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Following that we hit up Frankie and Benny’s where Roslyn perked up and Sandy ate a burger and I felt all squishy on the insides probably on an oxytocin high as per about how amazing my wee family are. Sop sop.

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And I ate a full rack of ribs, so, there’s another reason to smile!

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🙂

When Does It Get Easier? Life With Babies and Toddlers

I remember meeting a friend with her older baby before I had children and her telling me that she read that it was okay to not enjoy your baby’s first year, and that many parents didn’t. It seemed a bit odd to me, not to enjoy a baby if you had wanted to have one, but she seemed validated by this.

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I met her again when Sandy was an older baby and I remembered she had said it and that now understood. That it didn’t mean that there weren’t enjoyable parts, but that on the whole it was hard and a lot of it was downright miserable (sleeplessness, teething, crying and the rest). I asked her when she thought it had gotten easier with her daughter (who was at that point four) and she said “hmmm… probably about two and a half, when she could communicate well”. Again I was shocked. Sitting there with a six month old Sandy thinking I still had TWO LONG YEARS to wait until I was happy.

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It wasn’t quite like that though. Sandy is now not long turned two and a half and I can assert with vigour that in the past two years he has made me ridiculously happy, and that it did get easier. As much as I’m not an advocate of the “this too shall pass” school of thought (/head sand dunkery) it is true that it did improve.

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I think for us it was around the eighteen month mark that things just got much more relaxed. It was after Christmas 2013, and spring was close, and Roslyn due in a few months. Sandy just started to fend for himself. We would do things together and he would enjoy them, and I would be able to get stuff done. Seriously, not having a crapload of chores constantly hanging over you helps so much. He would pass me things from the dishwasher, or help me dig the garden with his little spade, or play with the radio buttons while I hoovered the car. It made a big difference.

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Part of it though was probably circumstantial rather than development related. It was a calm period for me, physically and mentally. I was over my morning sickness, and my panic attacks had gone. It’s funny how they pick up on things, after all, in the grand scheme of things he was barely that far from literally having been part of me. It was spring too, and there was a world of opportunity to go in the garden or out for a walk, that helped too. And I had finally learned the skill of multi-tasking a child and other objectives. Learning how to get stuff done with a child in tow is a steep learning curve, which I am still mastering. All I can say is it is sooo much easier second time round. I imagine mothers of five are probably pretty much superhuman.

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And here we are at two and a half and I can see why my friend found this era revolutionary. There is independence and thought, and humour and preferences, and speech and self-sufficiency. And for us, there is a friend (Roslyn). I am so glad I had them both close together (21 months apart) because not only is it getting the miserable bits out the way with an overlap (sleeplessness, teething, crying and the rest) they get eachother. I think that helps most of all.

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The Problem With ‘This Too Shall Pass’

‘This too shall pass’ has become one of the cornerstones of parenting mantradom. Ask for advice or express concern about anything your child is doing or not doing and you are bound to be told that it’s a phase and that it will pass. Your child is screaming all day? This too shall pass. Won’t eat anything except butter out the tub? This too shall pass. Keeps on getting ill with one bug running into the next? This too shall pass.

It’s supposed to be a supportive encouragement to give you the strength to keep going until the unpleasantness ends, and when people say it I have no doubt that they are trying to be helpful. But in many circumstances, ‘this too shall pass’ is actually quite demoralising.

An example: Your baby won’t sleep. It’s been 6 or 8 or 18 months and they still wake up every two hours at least in the night, and naps longer than 20 minutes are nonexistent. You feel like your very soul has been worn away with the patience and resilience required every single night to be constantly woken and spend hours soothing and rocking and cajoling. You creep out of rooms and fall asleep sitting up and scream with rage when you head hits the pillow and the crying starts again. It’s really, really hard. You are at that stage where it is so difficult to cope that you begin to worry that you are actually depressed.

You then express this disappointment to someone. Maybe its a family member, or your friend, or the woman at the checkout who asks if you have a good baby. You tell them that you are knackered and they don’t sleep. That you’ve tried everything and nothing worked. That you know people with ones that have slept through from six weeks and that it just seems horribly, horribly unfair…

‘This too shall pass’

It’s like banging your head against a wall.

I mean, deep down you know that they mean it well but they may as well have told you: ‘suck it up’ or ‘tough s**t’
This too shall pass doesn’t give any practical or emotional help. It just reiterates that you are well and truly trapped. And also, you do know it will pass. You know that they will be lazy teenagers and you will be struggling to get them out of bed for school one day, but you know what? Right now that seems like a long way away. Because it is.

This too shall pass is okay for, say, their routine vaccinations. No it’s not nice to have to see them cry, but it will pass. And it’s fine for that phase of blowing raspberries with the spoon of food at their lips. That will pass. But when it comes to something as life altering as having no more than two hours of consecutive sleep for a year? This too will pass is like a smack in the face. I mean, they’d never say ‘don’t worry, they will sleep in a couple of years’ time’ and expect you to take solace in that.

It doesn’t matter how long it takes for something to pass, if it’s hard it’s hard, and even if it goes away eventually it doesn’t change the fact that the very act of going through it is horrible, and wearing, and sometimes traumatic.

So I’m going to try hard never to tell someone that it will pass, or that something is a phase that needs waited out. The chances are I’d have been told because they are struggling with it, and if I don’t have any direct advice or solutions, I will try offering practical help in another way. Get them some time to themselves, or a cup of tea, or a night out. And at the very least I will commiserate, tell them you can see it is hard and agree it’s unfair and let them feel crap because it probably is. And I will never, ever, EVER tell them about how I never dealt with that particular problem, because that would be the worst thing to hear of all.