Wednesday, 31 August 2011

The Kids, The Hubby and Me

A few friends have kindly suggested that I should perhaps do a blog with a little information (in an anonomous way of course) about those mentioned and written about in my blogs, namely my family and I.  They suggested that this may engage people a little more.  So here goes, this is a little character building blog about me and mine.

Me : Firstly there is 'Me' otherwise known as (yes you've guessed it) Lynsey (The Mother Duck).  A thirty something stay at home mum, who probably has more creativity in her than patience!  I have two gorgeous boys (J1 and J2 - I'll come on to them later in their very own little synopsis) who like any children run me ragged.  I am also a newly wed, to a fantastic man. 

I haven't always been a stay at home mum, no-no, this is all relatively new to me.  Prior to being a SAHM, I was a single mum and Head of Administration in a Interiors Fit Out company in London, all very fun while I had the energy to do it and only one child to sort out child care for.  After meeting my hubby and deciding to have a second baby, redundancy hit the city of Londres and I left the 'Big City' for seaside life and full time mother-dom.

Becoming a SAHM has taken a fair bit of adjusting to, and to be honest I had quite a gentle introduction into the world of being a full time mum.  I was pregnant with my second child, so just toted him around wherever I wanted to go with no fuss, no bother, no buggy, no baby bag, no bottle or toy - you know the jig - while my eldest was at school.  I was spoilt for time to myself and obviously realise now how I should have appreciated it just that little bit more, but having come from doing 12 hour days (including commute) and evenings and weekends with my son I just didn't know what to do with it, and found myself spending the first few days at the laptop because that was what I was used to doing at work.  

Being an administrator with that most annoying 'got to be organised' (lists, lists everywhere) trait, I decided I had to have a structured day, with all baby appointments dutifully put in the diary / on calendar / on outlook calendar, I set about filling up my time with lunch appointments, baby preparation and ... dom dom dom... crafts (I believe I actually handmade all my Christmas cards that year - oh to have the time to even write the pre-bought ones this year!)

Then as the pregnancy continued, the belly swelled and the sleepiness hit, most days 1pm - 2.50pm was nap time, where I was rudely awakened by the alarm notifying me to go and collect my son from school.  Then D - Day hit, J2 entered our lives and spare time has never existed since! 

I feel very fortunate at being in a position with my husband and family that I can be a SAHM, I didn't have that opportunity with my first baby and now I realise just what I missed out on.  As posted in my previous blog 'Just for the record' yes some days can be tiring and exhausting and frustrating, but they are still amazing days and I am thankful for everyone of them.

I have adjusted to life as a SAHM and realise that as well as being mummy and wife, I can also do a few other things of my own (they are last in the queue but I am learning to fit them in - like blogging!) so I am slowly finding a happy balance to feel a bit more all round satisfied with the day which makes me a bit less of a grumpy pants on days I feel I have done as much nappy changing, snack making, toy clearing as I can take.  A bit of me time I think they call it. 

Hubby : Hubby likes his privacy and anonominity, so we'll just say that he is also a thirty something newly wed, and a man who is amazing, hard working and could not be more dedicated to his family than he already is.  I love him and everything he stands for.

J1 : My first wonderful little boy who is 7.  J1 was born 8 weeks premature and as a consequence of a traumatic birth suffered brain damage and has been diagnosed with quadrapelgic cerebral palsy.  This basically means it affects all four of his limbs and his torso.  He can not walk or sit unaided, and is quite severely physically disabled, but since starting a amazing school has started to talk (sometimes he does not stop!) and can eat (and does heartily!).  J1 is quite passive in nature but cheeky to boot, he has hearing that is second to known (a.k.a doesn't miss a thing) but can get quite obsessive over things.

J2 : My second wonderful little boy who is 18 months.  Thankfully I went full term and he was born perfectly healthy.  He is such a large and colourful character with enough gusto to start a hurricane.  Strong in will and with a bucketful of stubborness J2 is the pinnicle of independence, but with this trait comes frustration and J2 is currently going through a phase of letting out a blood curling scream when he can't do something (apologies to the neighbours!).  He is developing at a rate of knots and he makes everyday a wonder and thing of amazement.  He is the most energetic toddler I know, and he reminds me of the energiser bunny, just keeps going and going and going, until he literally falls asleep playing (or being tinker).

So that is us.  That is what I write about and refer too in my little anetdotes, I hope this little insight will be helpful to anyone that gives my writing some time out of their day.  As always I only write with the hope of raising a smile and maybe making someone think, 'so glad it's not just me - that makes me feel better'!

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

The Very Busy Bank Holiday

Phew, just got five minutes to sit down with a cuppa by the lap-top so going to type until my little fingers fall off while J1 is having a stretch out / chill out / lazy five on his bed watching Peppa Pig and J2 is taking a nap!

I think both children are currently in re-coup mode after a very busy bank holiday weekend.  Well ours started a little early and was somewhat extended actually, as we had a full day out on Thursday at Marsh Farm for the Essex Police 4 x 4 Fun Day.  This is a fantastic day that is laid on very generously by the various forces that make up Essex Police in conjunction with Marsh Farm and is offered to children with disabilities in Essex schools.  We were lucky enough to go in 2009, on a scorcher of a day so was very pleased when we were allocated a place again this year.

Although the days weather forecast did not bode well we decided to give it a whirl anyway, on the basis that if we got rained on that much we would just come home, however, after the initial drenching (please see blog on The Great British Day Out for my thoughts and ramblings on this!) the sun peeped it's head through and graced us with it's presence for most of the day.  The beauty of this day out, is that along with great things for the children to see and do at the farm (as well as the animals, it has the best play area's indoor and out) the police have a whole extra field of stuff going on, from dress up tents, to being able to clamber around in the police vehicles and running 4x4 car trips all day, the kids truly were tuckered out, as was I actually.  It was one of those days out, where you come home and feel so grubby you are happy to shower no matter how tired you are and then feel all lovely when your clean PJ's go on.

Friday we were aiming for another full day out down the seaside whilst watching the Clacton Airshow.  However the weather was not so kind and with it being dreadful all around the country many of the scheduled flights couldn't even take off from whatever base they were at.  Alongside this was the very sad news that of course, the Red Arrows would not be displaying this year.  However I think that the organisers of the Airshow deserve great applause for the rescheduling and reorganising to get the 5 or 6 aircraft out that they did!  They really were up against it this year and I hope that people come back again next year, when surely it has to be a more successful day for them.  This was the day out however that we got absolutely drenched to the core and yes, much wheelchair and buggy dismantling and drying was required once we got home.

Saturday saw J1 very excitedly go to this first ever football match at Colchester United and I must express much appreciation to all of those involved at Col Utd in making his day such a special one.  After his grand tour, signed shirt presentation and meeting the players he enjoyed watching Colchester win 4-1 (I was warned however that if Jacob came home chanting a very naughty word that was shouted at the referee after a dubious decision that didn't go in Col U's favour, Grandad and Daddy could not be blamed!).

Sunday was painting day for me and some boy time for, well my boys!  Once that chore was done (as an aside here I have to say anti-splatter rollers are rubbish and a con, I could have passed for Smurfette had I donned a dress and white hat by the time I had finished - now back to the actual blog) a nice family late afternoon stroll to the Pier was had where I had to be mean mummy and say 'No we don't want to win a gold fish, and I mean NO' repeatedly.

Bank Holiday Monday was again another fun day out, at the Orsett Hall Family Fun Day.  We were in that neck of the woods visiting family and I am glad they suggested it, as I have to say fun it was!  For anyone with children between the ages of 4 and 12 it was absolutely jammed packed with entertainment.  The biggest entertainment of the day for me personally was watching Hubby and my oldest nephew attempting the 'surfing machine' and lasting for ohhh, all of 0.2 seconds!  It also had good food being cooked fresh, live music, beer stalls, craft stalls.  I think next year I may try and make it a big extended family day out and would highly recommend it.

Having looked back at all that activity it is little wonder that today the children are a little crabby, they must be exhausted!  However I hope that this bank holiday gave them as many happy memories to keep as it has me.  After all isn't that what bank holidays are for?

Sunday, 28 August 2011

The Great British Day Out!

The month is August, J1 is on school holidays and it's time for those lovely summer days out.  But this is Britain, and what does that mean?  You have a day out arranged or an event to go to then be prepare to get...S.O.A.K.E.D!

Yes, many a day trip out to the seaside was had in my childhood and the photographs are generally of us sitting huddled as close as our deckchairs would allow, beach towels wrapped tightly round our shoulders, hair all blown wildly in a left or right direction, squinting at the camera as the sand whipped in our eyes.  Those are the memories and they are happy, nostalgic ones.

Hence why I insist on inflicting the same memory building experiences on to my own children!  The plan usually goes something like this; I write on the calendar that we are having a lovely family day out, prior to the day out I go and buy all the food for the picnic and then dutifully make the picnic lunch and pack it all up in picnic bag with heavy but essential cool packs.  Get the children dressed in as matching outfits as I can find (yes I am a matching dresser mother and for this I do not apologise!), pack stuff for heatwave and monsoon.

The drive to the venue usually lavishes you with sunshine, it buoys your spirits and assists the car singing to reach new decibels, then as the venue approaches generally the clouds start to gather... all sounding familiar?  By the time parking has occurred a few spots of rain usually make an appearance causing the 'do we need wet stuff?' debate to reach a swift conclusion of 'Aye'.

However once in the queue to enter wherever you attempted to ascend for the day, the sun is back out, the kids moan they are hot and you start sweating out profusely in your wet coat, causing the first strip [of many] of the day to happen.  At some point throughout the day I end up thinking 'Oh my god, we are burning' and chase everyone (including hubby) around trying to smother them in sunscreen (I love it, the smell always evokes so many holidays memories, I don't understand why they are all itching to be caked in it).

Sometimes we have been lucky and only the threat of a soaking ever comes to fruition, however, more often than not in the true sense of a bad British comedy, you end up getting ... drenched!  The rain comes so suddenly and so hard and fast that you haven't had time to prepare, so you look to the sky, look at the 5 bags of wet covers, coats, umbrella's longingly and just leg it, but the shelters are already all full and people look at you with a mixture of pity and smugness as every bit of rain from the sky seems to hit you and your brood.  After just a few seconds you and 90% of the population of wherever you are come to the same inevitable conclusion :

This is Britain.  We are British.  We get wet and are proud!

With noses pushed into the air, we continue our day out like it's dry and sunny.  We carry on our conversations with water dripping off of our eyelashes.  We secretly think, 'That buggies going to take ages to dry and the car is going to smell like wet dog by the time we get home' but we don't let on.  We laugh (the heavier the rain the louder the laughter I find) and we say 'Well that's a typical British Summer Day Out!' and bank it in our store of happy memories.

Friday, 26 August 2011

The Week of Appreciation

Over the last few days, via the wonder that is technology I have seen several of my friends announce pure, heartfelt, unconstrained, real statements of appreciation for those in their lives. 

One friend likened her life to a fantastic dream where she was in love with the most amazing person in the world, but when she woke up, she realised that the dream was real and the amazing thing she had was true.

Another friend announced unadulterated awe at the wonder of her daughter and stated that not only was she blessed with a beautiful child but she was also blessed to have the most wonderful parents herself.

Another kindly sent a text this morning to say thank you for supporting them through a particularly tough year, which was very touching.

Having been touched by being on the receiving end of appreciation today and being moved by the statements of others this last week I think that this seems to be the week for appreciation.  So I have some appreciating to do of my own.

I say thank you to my own family and friends for always being around, to help, laugh, chat, rant and share.  To my children who's daily trials and tribulations make life worth living.  To my husband who provides love, support and laughter with a vigour I have never met in any other and makes it possible for me to be at home with the children watching them grow up by the second.  To my immediate family who are funny, supportive and very rarely crazy!

And to my friends, who thanks to unnamed networking sites and the power of the text message I can keep in touch with and who provide me with inspiration, humour, friendship and plenty of blogging (and hopefully eventually storylines) fodder!

Without all of you life wouldn't be the amazing thing that it is.  

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

What's Not On The List of Things to Do?

One afternoon per week I get four hours 'off'.  When you picture me saying the word 'off' you should see my hands doing air quotation marks with a sarcastic look on my face.  My eldest would usually be in school and my youngest goes waddling off into the nursery classroom with a twinkle of destruction in his eyes. 

I leave jubilant that I have four hours (well about 3.5 by the time I have got back home and taking off the time needed to get back over to pick him up but hey!) of non-children time.  No singing Old MacDonald Had a Farm, no wiping running noses, no finding the juice cup that got lobbed half way to the shop, no need for the wet wipes to be on hand, no need to fret about where I have put my cup of coffee down or whether the stair gate is locked in place.

Being a person with a ridiculous need to have everything I ever need to do written down (or frankly I would forget to do it) I tend to write a list with all the things I would like to get done in the 4 (ish) hours and it generally looks something like this :

* Do 4 hours of cleaning
* Do 4 hours of ironing
* Do 4 hours of filing / home admin (which never gets done until I need to find something and then takes 4 hours to clear backlog)
* Get monster weekly shop
* Put away monster weekly shop
* Prepare dinner
* Sort wardrobes / drawers and generally have a good old tidy out (see note on filing / house admin item)
* [In a dream world] bake something (I love baking - I miss baking something other than a Rice Krispie Cake which in actual fact doesn't really require any baking...)
* Go for a run
* Sort photos
* Catch up on emails and generally just catch up with everyone

I will stop there as I would imagine you are getting the general gist but think I can safely assume that most parents have the same sort of list of things to do.  Some items are what I call essential (cleaning etc) and some should be on a permanent wish-list (running / sorting photos / clearing out wardrobes).  

So of course we all have the list that is as long as our arm, but can we identify something that is not on the list that really is essential?

TAKE A BREAK / HAVE A REST / WATCH HALF HOUR OF TV / READ A MAGAZINE - however you want to take it, just sit.

But it isn't on the list.  And it will doubtful make the list because being a parent comes hand in hand with a bucketful of guilt!  We decided to have the children and so we shouldn't expect to ever sit or take a break.  Even if we are offered by others or pay for a break from physically looking after our kiddie-winks in the form of genius that is nursery or a child-minder, that time is not for relaxation.  We must work, cook, clean, tidy, sort, never sit down soldier!

But who makes these rules by which we find ourselves trying to keep up with?  We do.  I do.  It's not my husband telling me, it's not my parents telling me, it's not my friends telling me.  I alone am the one who decides that I should not ever watch or follow a TV programme, too many other things need doing.  I am the one who make a ridiculous list of 24 hours (at least) of work for the 4 hours I have 'off'.  I think it was pre-conditioned into my brain while I was pregnant that if you aren't looking after the children then you should be doing something / anything productive, just because it's more difficult to do it with the kids around. 

But sitting and reading a chapter of a book is difficult with the kids around, sitting for half hour drinking a cup of coffee (that, ohhhhhhhh squeal with excitement might still actually be warm when you drink it!) whilst gathering your thoughts is difficult with the kids around.  Maybe they should start to make the list after all.

So next time you get those coverted minutes, or if your lucky hours, 'off' just think before you pick up that duster / wash basket / hoover.  Perhaps you ARE entitled to flick the kettle on and watch that half hour of TV that you recorded 6 months ago.  There is nothing wrong with that and if it makes you feel better make sure it is on the list of things to do - you'll feel great when you cross it off!

Alternatively of course, you could always spend that half hour writing a blog.  Whatever tickles your fancy.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

And Then The Rain Came

I love the Summer.  I am not a cold weather girl.  Fact.  Never have been and never will be.  And this quality of mine has only grown in strength since having children.  I'll tell you for why :

In the dry, warmer weather you can throw open the back door / patio door / conservatory door, whichever you have and let that lovely air wade through, and if your children are anything like mine, they see an escape route out into freedom (well the garden) and charge towards it.

That fact alone is worth its weight in gold.  The children are out of the house, in the fresh air (the good old sea air for mine) and what does fresh air do?  At first, I admit it makes them a bit hyper but; it tires them out.  It tires them out like nothing else can seem to do and I love that fact.  Almost as much as I love shoes.

But alas, we live in good old Blighty and consistent and reliable weather is just one field that we are never going to win a gold medal in.  Thus I am a bit of a fanatic about getting the kids out into the air for as long as physically possible on nice days and why I have allowed the back garden to become a mini playground (i.e no plants or lovely items that can be destroyed by footballs) with the latest installment being a trampoline.

The kids love it.  I love it.  And we were loving it very much weather wise up to today 'when the rain came' and the realisation struck me that today was a 'mummy and boys only day' and I was going to be confined to the house all day, all alone.

Once the first few moments of irrational fear passed I had to get out the 'Entertainment Committee' hat.  Now if I had boys, closer in age and both able bodied then finding a day of activities would be easi-er.  But unfortunately that is not the case.  J1, my eldest wants to put everything to his mouth and has to be watched like a hawk with any toy that is given to him and is wheelchair confined, J2, my toddler currently has the attention span of a fruit bat.  I was up against it.  Especially as I hate the TV being on throughout the day and the idea of sitting on the Wii in the summer fills me with unwarranted rage.  We were going to P.L.A.Y.

Like any stay at home parent, I came out fighting.  Remembering all those useful articles from baby and toddler magazines and netmum' I decided to crack out all my old CD's and create a mini-disco with snack time being incorporated to look like a mini-buffet.  We pulled out old photo boxes (probably more fun for me!).  We dug out all Jacob's old favourite books that had since been deemed no longer favourite and relegated to the back of the wardrobe and it was like producing a library for him.  We pulled out toys that were bought last Christmas that were played to death for the first two months and then put in drawers, wardrobes, tidy boxes.  But the favourite thing of the day for them both, was finding a large pack of stickers and sticking them all over each other, for some reason this made them laugh the most.  I don't know why and I don't care, it just did!

So at the end of this rainy day what have I achieved.  Well no housework got done, no washing got hung out, no phone calls got made or filing put away, however I type this blog fully satisfied.  I spent the day playing and giving my children good quality old fashioned time, which I, as I imagine for any parent, can sometimes get lost in the 'need to just get this / that / the other done'.

Now I am not relishing the thought of the winter months, and cold or not if it's dry then outside time for that blessed fresh air will be had (I don't want my kids to have the same dislikes as me!) but in the deep of winter, in rain or snowy climate, if we do have an indoor day I am no longer scared of it.  We proved today that we can have immense fun without the need for the TV or a computer or going out.  And I don't know about the kids, but it sure wore me out!

* Any idea's for 'rainy day activities' that would be suitable for a wheelchair bound child and toddler would be greatly appreciated! *

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Just for the Record

I wanted to pen this blog early on, because as I have started to note down some topic ideas in my journal over the last few days, I realised that my sense of humour (which i hope may reveal itself during these blogs) may be seen as 'complaining'. 

So, in line with the title of this blog : just for the record I am never complaining about my life or the choices I have made.  I might not appreciate Cherub No.2 tipping the whole watering-can over himself when he is in his best white shirt ready to go out (yes, that was today's reason for the third change of clothing before mid-day) and write a sarky comment about it that I feel is amusing, but that is not a complaint.  I dutifully congratulated him on his reaching abilities and strength to hold the 6 litre vessel, and changed him.  That is what I do.  I am mum.

But sometimes I may feel like writing about what other things I would like to do, or aspire to do that I don't currently get to do, because I am being mum.  So in those cases just for the record I am never complaining.  Sometimes I may just be dreaming or planning ahead five years when both little Cherub's will be at school and I might finally get the chance to pee in private.  And yes some days I just want to get a big whiteboard and count down those days.  Others I want to cry because they are coming to fast. 

Being mum to the two children that I have been blessed with (please note : I am not religious but do feel very blessed, lucky and appreciative of being given the opportunity to have carried two babies and have them both with me now, considering my first was 8 weeks early and has suffered some problems due to that) can be very challenging. But I believe the more challenging they make it the more alive I feel and the more magical all those other sweet, funny, unbelievable and unique moments become. 

On a rare moment of getting the chance to watch TV I once heard someone make the statement that 'you only get your kids for 16 years, then they can be out of your life if they choose'.  16 years is not a long time in the scheme of life.  So although from time to time a rant might make its way out of one of these blogs if there has been a particularly long day of crying, demanding and not a second to step out of 'being mum' - which some days can be like that and are d.r.a.i.n.i.n.g for any human-being just for the record I am not complaining.  Because even at the end of those days, when the kitchen is closed, the washing up done, the packed lunch for school the next day made and although you are ready to collapse into bed - you look at those little sleeping faces and melt.  Then the next day is all brand new.  Tantrums of days past are forgotten.  Time out's, naughty step sessions (haha yeah right, does your child actually sit on the step?) and 'No more treats for you today young man' are wiped clean and most of the time they get up like different children (thank god!).

So just to reiterate, even on the worst days of parenthood that I might mention as being not very nice to endure; I am not complaining.  I am merely sharing the fact that me and mine have those days and I am aiming to give hope (and a laugh) to anyone that reads it and thinks, thank god it isn't just me!

Thursday, 18 August 2011

A blog is born...

I had coffee (yes an actual sit down with hot liquid for half an hour - l.u.x.u.r.y!) with a friend that I haven't seen for a while a few weeks ago and in the midst of catching up she told me that although we hadn't been in touch for some time had been watching me from afar.  What she said next made me waste (a rather overpriced I must say) mouthful of caffine when I spat in out in what I can only say was shock mixed with laughing until hysteria set in. 

She said that she didn't know how I did it. 

What? I asked a little perplexed. 

She replied 'Make it look so effortless, you are always upbeat and energetic, out and about with the children, been here and there, done this and that, you keep your weight down and look well turned out.  It's actually really annoying.'  I sat dumbfounded for sometime, thinking about what she said, cleaning up the coffee and decided to shattered the clear illusion she had of my life.

I explained that the day starts at about 5am when my eldest little cherub decides that it is time to be wide awake, and after the first round of changing and Peppa Pig I make very strong filter coffee to kickstart the day and try and get any tidying up done before Cherub No. 2 opens his eyes and starts his wake of destruction (I am hoping it is an 18 month old thing!). 

Then breakfast (or any snack / drink / meal) is made with a screaming toddler attached to my leg, but you learn to perservere and get it done anyway.  I then have about 10 minutes of quiet while aforementioned snack / drink / meal is devoured before the 'Entertainment Committee' i.e. Me is called upon again.  If I attempt to wash up again it is done with screaming toddler attached to leg.

A day when we get out is a luxury, otherwise it consists of 18 hours of chasing around after a very energetic and stubborn toddler, trying to clear up (which to be honest in the school holidays is like trying to put out a forest fire with a water pistol) and answering the same question (question of the week we like to call it) repeatedly with my eldest.

Now, I have had 18 months to perfect the '30 seconds allowed to wash and dress' rule and once you master it, it's pretty simple.  Staple items such as jeans, vests and flip flops you can't go wrong with.  Plus I have long hair that every single day gets scraped up into a messy knot (no time for brushing it, let along washing it btw), luckily this seems to be passing for 'trendy' this season.  As for the weight, my buttocks don't grace a seat from 5am - 8pm so that has probably got that one sown up!

Well she said, your a bit like a duck aren't you, gliding along, breeze gently ruffling your feathers to the outside world, but underneath you are busy paddling like a crazy person!  I told her she should see the sweating mess that passes for me after chasing the youngest around my house trying to dress him in the mornings!

After we laughed and I left for my apparent perfect existance that never was, I thought that I might try and start documenting life as I know it, so that the children when they are older have a 'novel of childhood' to remember and perhaps see it from my eyes, which you can never do until you have children of your own!

And so Lynsey The Mother Duck was born.