Category Archives: Children

Boys’ dinner party – updated

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I started posting this last night but it was supposed to be on the children’s blog so I deleted it, but not before accidentally garnering some interest.

So for the Roaring Kate record, this is what the conversation between five children aged 5-7 goes like over a gourmet meal of fish finger sandwiches (and beakers of water, which I said they didn’t have to finish):

  • Heidi: My mummy says I have to drink all my water at the table. It makes your poos soft.
  • Jonny: Yes, you don’t want hard poos. I have a medicine called syrup of figs to keep my poos soft.
  • Sam [J’s little brother]: Yes, Jonny sometimes does very big poos. [Cackling and gesticulating wildly] Sometimes they are even like a LOG!
  • Jonny bristles with pride at this.
  • Charles [7 going on 57]: Do we really have to discuss this while we’re eating?

At which point the conversation returns to a contemplation of who loves who, and how Jonny can negotiate back a particularly desirable Pokemon card that he’s given/surrendered/swapped with someone in Year 6.

On 4 weeks to go til the wedding

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I feel slightly sick just writing that, but it’s been such a crappy day I felt the need to put fingers to keyboard, just to download.

This weekend coming up is the Hen night which seems to have slightly horrifically turned into my worst nightmare: a fancy dress session. I had imagined me and my closest friends all dressed gorgeously sipping bubbly somewhere sophisticated; instead there’s a high chance we’ll be ending up in wigs and deely-boppers, swerving through Soho, while I just die of mortification at the back of the crowd, only staying because a revived adolescent fear of ducking out and being labelled not ‘fun’ is a worse option.

Anyway I shall trust in my Best Friends knowing me well and pulling the situation back if it looks like I’m going to cry. At the age of 41!!!

Re the wedding generally, I feel as if I have peaked too soon, as I currently feel pretty tired and ambivalent about the whole thing. Basically the pre-wedding experience has fallen into 3 eras:

  1. The calendar year before. Most of 2012. Engaged but wedding not imminent, so endless browsing through bridal magazines, cutting out ideas, daydreaming of details that’ll make the day.
  2. Turn of 2013. Total panic that it means it’s about to happen. With 4 months to go, all the smaller decisions suddenly have to be made. Spend evenings transferring colossal sums of money to various people and writing lists.
  3. 6 weeks to go. Exhausted. Give away magazines which I’ll never have time to read to a newly engaged bride friend (whom I regard with a degree of pity). Have wedding dress fitting. Fitter pleased with weight loss (‘Ooh that zip now just zooms up’) but in hand stitching the waist now leaves little stitch marks all around. Can’t think of a solution so can’t be bothered to mention it. Will just smooth them out in Photoshop after the day. See other friends’ wedding photos appear on Facebook as they marry. Find it somewhat astonishing that they have gone back to what seems total normality afterwards. Order a million massive balloons from America that I’ll probably forget to take up to the reception. Flapping about purchasing new hiking trousseau for honeymoon. Spend HOURS online searching for a) the killer sophisticated hen night outfit (which also has to serve various other functions between now and wedding) (so far have managed to get a pair of white (?) sarong trousers from Zara, but have no top and no shoes) b) sexy but practical hiking gear that’ll mean in our honeymoon photos I look like someone who’s actually at home on a mountain rather than someone who’s just ambled Mr Benn-like through the wrong door from a library c) magic pants that’ll cinch (pron. Kinch or Sinch?) in my waist, thereby highlighting my new handsewn pattern without leaving a massive VPL round my bum. Bizarrely the thinner I get (and lets face it I’m not that thin, but 11kgs less than I was when got engaged) the fatter I feel. These pants crush in my flesh so tightly that the rest of my body just pillows out around them, displaying unique patterns of cellulite where I didn’t think you could get them. Am thinking of having ‘I’ve borne your children’ tattooed across my tummy for just such moments.

Anyway, that’s about it. Somehow I’m going to have to reinvigorate myself to get through the final push. Am thinking I need a new notebook, with room for lots of lists: clothes for hen night; jobs pre wedding; jobs day before wedding; packing for honeymoon; jobs round the house pre wedding (it’d be so nice not to have to come back to the current pigsty we’re living in); jobs in the garden; work jobs; life-fulfilling jobs.

Probably my humour is not helped by every paper I open being full of Sheryl Sandberg leaning in one direction or another, leaving me in a dizzy spin of indecision about who I am or what I want. Though I do think today* has highlighted that Majority Part Time Mother is not for me the path to delight and fulfillment.

* Mess around coralling boys to get dressed before leaving at 9 to take them to 2 different nurseries. Arrive home to see DH(2B) failed AGAIN to put away his breakfast stuff. Start to put it away, stop, put it back out again to Make A Point. I am not wasting my paid for child-free time to tidy up after other people. Consequently kitchen remains a mess all day which makes me even more grumpy. After a fast day yesterday spend 20 minutes prowling around looking for nice food. End up eating cooking chocolate chips, and then after finding a scone having a cream tea at 10am. Work (interspersed with clothes browsing. Netaporter. outnet. julesb. boden. jaeger. john lewis. the list goes on. and on. and then I go through them all again) until 1 (obviously do not bill client the clothes browsing time). Go to collect DS2 from nursery only to find him asleep in his nappy in a room full of 20 other sleeping 2 year olds (touches even my heart strings). They were not supposed to give him a nap, but I can’t bear to wake him so go to the shops for food (crisps, not good), home, lunch, squint at The Good Wife with the sun shining on the TV screen, then get a call from nursery to say DS2 is now up so do a couple of emails to Make Another Point then go back to get him. Drive to JLP to collect Magic Pants ordered online. Intending to spend the hour there but massive influx of food and refined sugar all morning has given me v upset tummy so have to rush home. 20 minutes pause then have to lever DS2 back in car to go to get DS1. Take him to local Clarks to return his shoes which are coming apart. Massive queue of other mothers and schoolchildren. No other shoes available so eventually get 10% off. Can’t be bothered to argue. Am also suffering from unexpected heat as the sun is out. Lever children back into car, DS2 squirming so much I bash shin, just where it will be seeable at the weekend below my new white trousers. Nearly freak out. Need to go to garden centre to get food for plants, new rose for watering can etc. DS1 finds this a totally traumatic suggestion and cries so much at the thought give up and drive home. Make them share a Mini-Milk. Which obvs isn’t enough for 2 growing boys so spend the next hour rowing with them about what else they can eat. Finally freak out when DS1 stuffs so much dried apple in his mouth he can’t talk. He looks like august gloop (though I have just weighed him and his percentile is normal…). Eventually we go upstairs for a change of scene. I’m trying to read Plato to choose a wedding reading but in 40 minutes get through 1 page. They bounce madly on all the beds, throw themselves around and generally go a bit mental. I go downstairs to get tea ready, hearing one of them throw the box of lego all over our bedroom. Ignore it. Give them tea on a table on the decking. All going well until the end when DS1 throws water and yoghurt everywhere, blaming DS2. Howls hysterically when I ask him to clean it up, to the extent I have to drag him inside and shut the patio doors before someone calls the police. Finally we sit on the sofa and watch 10 minutes of Madagascar 2 while I count down the seconds until DH2B’s key is in the garage door. He was about 7 minutes later than usual tonight, somewhat alarming, due to taking a phonecall and riding back along the riverside. Never have I been so glad to see him. Resolution to avoid wine in run up to wedding abandoned.

On the plus side I did make an nice trout and beetroot salad for our tea, which was only interrupted about 10 times by calls from the boys regarding allocations of trains and cars in their bed.

So that’s about it.

I was also going to write about my recent 10k run and the collapse of my pelvic floor but you can use your imagination.

Over and out.

Roaring Kate.

Post-natal realisation

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The trouble with motherhood, I’m finding, is that although it’s pretty relentless physically and emotionally, there’s quite a lot of brainspace to contemplate What Am I Doing with My Life? As anyone who’s been in this situation will know, it’s not always a Good Thing. The sort of thoughts that rattles around in my dusty head at the moment are not always stuff to be proud of either…

  • What are those weird spots on the landing carpet? At least I managed to galvanise myself to blast them with half a bottle of Vanish this morning; so they’re now weird blotches rather than dodgy looking spot trails.
  • Please can you get out of my house! Thoughts vigorously directed at the carpenters who’ve been laying our hall floor here for the last two days (pretty competently, to be fair), but who came round today to spend 10 minutes ‘finishing off’ and another 30 minutes repeating ‘As I say, it’s the attention to detail, and I can’t help it, that’s what I’m like‘. I know!!! But please go!!! It’s my one day in the house with no children, and I want to eat my weight in chocolate, watch the Good Wife and tackle hemming curtains.
  • Aagh, where on earth do I start? With endless family, house, business and personal to-do lists I’ve spent most of today starting one thing, remembering something more urgent, and moving on. Consequently DH arrives home to find the kitchen still full of porridge bowls, and the study still looking like an EU paper mountain. The bedroom floor is probably covered with pins that DS2 will eat when he settles down for his pre-breakfast snack of carpet fluff tomorrow morning. The more trivial my list of jobs, the more indecisive I become. And when I find my iPhone ‘To do’ app can’t sync with my computer I go into a dizzy spin of failure to achieve.
  • Why am I doing this at all? I could instead spend hours surfing around American ‘home’ blogs and immerse myself in the world of manic crafters. Curtains shmurtains, I should be sewing book holders for the boys’ room (see right) and drawing gorgeous things on our blackboard door (instead of just a scribbled ‘The Loo’). I used to love all this stuff, and 20 years ago I would have yearned for a Kirstie Allsopp life.
  • So why aren’t I enjoying myself doing that then? In between then and now I also became Corporate. I earned my own money; I managed big budgets; I ran teams and projects and Made Things Happen.
  • Oh my god I’m a walking cliche None of this is helped by the fact that I am very lucky to have two lovely healthy children, a house that is finally taking shape and feeling like a home, and a DH who has shown a surprising patrician tendency for someone who was almost a member of the Workers’ Revolutionary Party to cheerfully fund house improvements, nursery days, and even give me a little bit of money each month for ‘pretty little trinkets’ (our joke. In fact it enables me to keep the Home Counties branches of Costa afloat).
  • Could I / should I get a job again? Slightly complicated by the fact that I set up my own business shortly before becoming pregnant with DS1. Determined not to let children get in the way of my quest to become Businesswoman of the Year I have striven for the last 3-4 years to keep everything afloat, but it has been hard, loss-making, and ultimately quite depressing. Hence extreme levels of navel gazing now. And no salaried job to go back to anyway.
  • Should we have another baby? Currently it feels like the only thing I’m good at doing, but bearing in mind it’ll take a good year at the earliest to pop out and we’re both hurtling through our 5th decade, and the hideousness of the first 6 months, and the side-effects of pregnancy – even a good one – in practice that doesn’t appeal. Though if we had more there’d be more of them to look after us in our dotage. But we’re lucky enough to have two delightful, healthy boys. Would we be pushing our luck?
  • Why aren’t I happy being a housewife? Should I set up a support network for Housewives with MBAs? Why did I bother with all that? Would I be happier if I were doing regular exercise [I know the answer to this]. The boys will be at school in just a few years and everyone I know who’s working says they miss the time they’re not with their children. Stop moaning, think yourself lucky and just enjoy it.
  • Should I buy a running machine? It’d go in the garage and I could beetle away on it while DS2 is having a nap and become lithe, fit and full of endorphins.

Basically I am suffering from a post-natal malaise that comes from no exercise, too much chocolate, a degree of weariness at being thrown up on (admittedly compensated for by cuddles), lack of contact with a non-baby world, guilt at not appreciating what I’ve got, and, in my darkest moments, the thought that the rest of my life will go as follows: 20 years looking after children, 10 years looking after aged mother, 10 years looking after aged DH, and finally a bit of time to myself when I’m about 80.

So, off to load the dishwasher. I think the treadmill will be the answer, as long as my pelvic floor is up to it. I did a star jump the other day and my uterus nearly fell out (not funny). The rest of my problems will be solved from there.

A day in the life of a mother (typed one handed and unproofread!)

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I have bargained for 10 mins at the computer in return for In the Night Garden, so am typing V fast. Here goes.

As far as an outsider’s concerned (and that includes DH, for reference), today was a pleasant day going to a Christmas party in a SureStart centre, followed by the nursery’s carol concert, where DS1 would actually be singing. In practice it was a maelstrom of tears, tantrums and the odd high:

  • After being woken several times through the night by DS2 with undefined ailment, wake again at 6 with some racket playing into the bedroom. Spend 40 mins cursing the neighbours before realising OUR TV had turned itself on and we were getting CBeebies right from the beginning. Stormed down to turn it off.
  • DS2 sleeps in until gone 9 which theoretically would make for a relaxing start to the day but in practice means writing 25 Christmas cards, and then breakfast, when he finally does wake up, has to be rammed down him. Make the mistake of feeding him in his vest, which is now engrained with sultanas and fruit toast and now even I wouldn’t put him in it again, which means it hits the wash at an unscheduled time.
  • DS1 spends the morning DESPITE ENDLESS LECTURES TO THE CONTRARY taking all the decorations off the Christmas tree and leaving them scattered around the floor for DS2 to pick up and put in his mouth.
  • We eventually get into the car; originally planning on an RV with Friend at 11, in practice we end up getting there at 12.20, not helped by…
  • At least half an hour going round a tiny carpark trying to find a space, and when some complete Arse with a car full of tottering ladies out for a Christmas lunch screeches ahead of me to bag the last available one I do have to try hard to avoid mowing him down.
  • Next hour or so spent in a soft play area organised by the gallant and highly appreciated (sincerely) SureStart people, with the added bonus of a Quality Street as we left.
  • Unfortunately having chosen that hard caramel one I suffer lockjaw trying to chew it.
  • Friend (with 3DDs) and I finally escape to brave the High Street with our buggies and toddlers down to Costa Coffee. For the next hour or so we take up residence in a corner, avoided by anyone who recognises us, for a chaotic lunch where sandwiches get thrown around, glasses of water get knocked over, straws disappear irretrievably into drinks cartons etc etc.
  • At one point Friend takes her brood to the loo; my DS1 decides to come too. A while later I hear vaguely recognisable cries, so lugging DS2 with me, I knock on the door to find her DD3 in the process of being changed, her DD2 in tears for getting the door knocked in her face, and my DS1 wandering around without his trousers. I’m about to take him back to the seats when I realise he doesn’t seem to have any pants on either, so Friend’s DD1, my DSs and I meander around Costa looking for a pair of pants. Returning to the place they were last seen, our search in vain, it turns out he did actually have them on but had put both legs through one hole and had pulled them up round his waist.
  • [Interruption as I go into living room to rescue wailing DS2 who is squashed underneath DS1]. Anyway, so very briefly,
  • I make the mistake of ordering a coffee and a tiffin even though I know I have to go soon
  • The queue is suddenly v long and it takes ages, but I do talk to another local mother who says how [now with ds2 on lap typing one handed] lucky we are to have them. i agree.
  • rush off not wanting to be late for concert
  • time to get to and pack car always longer than expect
  • get to concert location on time to find no parking
  • spend 20 mins trying to find place to park
  • get to concert to find ds1 nursery chums at front just coming to end of song
  • start to walk him down to front to join them when leader says’ ,and that.s all, everyone, thank you for coming’
  • another mother finforms me rather uncarinly i think that i have missed it all
  • burst into tears in front of another mother with a newborn who surely has bigger things on her mind
  • eventuaslly slink off blaming parking situ on anyone who.d llisten
  • 5 mins down road ds1 wants wee so we have to go back
  • set off again, make it to shop, bavk to car, another wee in boot, then home
  • cup of tea and put soup on
  • ds1 in steppimg back from cupboard when choosing soup bowl manages to trip over and sit down in open dishwasher which levers the kickboards away from worktop
  • fix it then have tea
  • start this
  • jut found ds2 who is squirming on lap has done massie poo up back which i have been holding.

just another day at home…

Baby-led weaning: 2 weeks in

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Now that the initial shock and horror of the mess has worn off, we’re back to enjoying this BLW business. Tonight, for example, DS2 ‘had’ (in the loosest sense) sweet potato and spinach curry, with rice & pitta bread (the latter swiftly exchanged for the former), yoghurt, and half a satsuma (v popular). I’ve found that if I spear solid food, for example a chunk of sweet potato, with a fork and give him the fork handle to hold there’s sometimes a chance it’ll get near his mouth.

For breakfast he gnawed his way toothlessly around a low-sugar Farley’s Rusk and enjoyed some strawberries I found in the fridge (left over from Friday night). For lunch he had.. oh, nothing, I’m afraid he slept through that. So milk is still v much his staple diet, but very occasionally (only parents will be interested in this) his poos are thickening up suggesting that something’s getting through.

To be fair, though, that’s still clearly only a very small something, bearing in mind what’s left when it comes to clearing up…

I’m still not remembering to clear up immediately after mealtimes, preferring to leave everything to set like concrete, and this evening as I was on my hands and knees scrubbing away on the floor I remembered a tip I’d read from another BLW-er of covering the floor with yesterday’s newspaper before you get going. That’s a Learning Point there. Maybe tomorrow.

Baby-led weaning: day 4

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I am not quite sure why, in The Bible on BLW, they say that it often happens more easily with child #2. It’s all very well to spend hours dining and clearing up when you’ve only got one to worry about, but not as easy when you’re sitting between two little individuals, one desperate to test your boundaries as to how much ketchup he can eat at one go, while the other keeps flicking globs of yoghurt all over himself, the floor, you, etc etc.

So whilst I am perservering, out of stubborness more than anything else at this stage, my observations by day 4 are:

  • I have ignored all my own guidance to clean up quickly, and have consequently had to spend 20 minutes this EVENING scrubbing this MORNING’s Weetabix off the table, which had set like pebbledash
  • I must remember that I now have 2 mouths to feed rather than 1; this lunchtime it was only when DS2 woke up wailing that I realised DS1 had eaten EVERYTHING in the snack box, including all the things I’d vaguely thought DS2 might enjoy
  • Trying BLW on a child with reflux is not as amusing as it was on a non-reflux child; poor DS2 can only go about 10 minutes in any one position before needing a good period of wailing (see pic), carrying, and finally a sick. Unfortunately being upright in a high chair has not resolved this issue; my tolerance level with the yoghurt-throwing would have been far higher if he had not been having a hissy fit at the same time
  • A plus discovery is that teething means that he quite likes chewing a spoon; which if we’re really lucky is coated in food
  • When they say that BLW often happens by accident with child #2 because child #1 is always ramming things in their mouth, I can see that being true, but I don’t think they’d recommend chilli-coated seeds as the optimum kick-off food.

Basically I am quite fed up with weaning altogether and am now going to take a very passive approach on the assumption that somehow, between now and the day that DS2 hits Freshers’ Week, he will have learnt to use a knife and fork, and be able to keep food in his mouth. So that’s that.

Baby-led weaning: day 2

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We did baby-led weaning for DS1 a couple of years’ ago, and the whole experience was an absolute joy. Still at 2 and a half he is built like a rugby player and will eat absolutely anything. I remember sitting in Carluccios with my antenatal girlfriends when the babies were just 6 months; most of them were having puree shoved down them, while DS1 was sitting on my lap helping himself to penne giardiniera.

We’re now 48 hours into BLW for DS2 (who hit six months yesterday) and the practicalities of it are now coming back to me. I think I had wiped them from my mind!

  • It is EXTREMELY messy. I am pretty militant about making sure the baby does everything himself, but when one well-placed sweep of the arm lands all his food on the floor this can get quite frustrating. I end up spraying Dettox on the floor just before the meal though, and by that I can justify picking all his food back up again and putting it in front of him. And again. And again…
  • All this bending down must be good for you, including the 10 minutes under the table at the end of each meal cleaning up.
  • Ensure that you clean up AS SOON AS the meal is finished. It is amazing how hard food can set if you leave it to dry in situ; and then you then spend twice as long scrubbing away at the table with industrial cleaner and a Brillo pad in a panic just before your mother-in-law comes through the door. If you do this too often you end up actually wearing down the table where the baby sits. This can be a handy way of ‘retiring’ a piece of furniture you never really liked, but this time around we have a new table, so I think I’m going to invest in a laminated table cloth instead.
  • TASTE is good. This evening, for example, DS2 met pasta with ambivalence, tuna and mayonnaise with a bit more excitement, while a Fruits of the Forest Activia yoghurt made his eyes pop out of his head*. This to me is one of the key aspects of BLW; it engenders a real interest in food and a delight in complex flavours. Have you ever actually tasted baby rice? It’s like wallpaper paste. I cannot imagine anything less likely to excite a baby about eating than that.
  • GAGGING is, to some extent, what’s meant to happen at the start as the baby gets used to having food in his mouth and moving it around with his tongue. It can be a bit of a fright the first time, and I’d forgotten how dramatic it can look when a child is heaving and wincing (see pic). However, even over the six ‘meals’ we’ve had over the last couple of days this has improved. A good thing actually as yesterday a piece of carrot was finally cleared by DS2 accompanied by a projectile vomit of milk right into the middle of the table. Apple is probably the worst culprit for getting stuck. It’s worth ensuring you feel comfortable with what to do in the event of proper choking, just for peace of mind.
  • Meals become a real activity in the day. I was looking through my diary of a typical day for DS1, and I’d set aside 2 hours for lunch. This would be somewhat suboptimal if you actually had something else worthwhile to do, but on days where you’re maybe at a bit of a loose end as to what possibly-just-slightly-mind-numbing activities to get up to, Lunch can be a real benefit. I also noted that it was a real incentive to eat out, as that would entail both a journey to and fro, plus the possibility of a wider range of cuisine than you might be bothered to knock up at home.

So, so far in his little life, DS2 has had banana, carrot and apple flavoured rice cakes, carrot sticks (raw and steamed), an old Farley’s rusk left over from when DS1 had hand, foot and mouth disease and couldn’t eat anything else, a stick of Jarlsberg, a finger of Vogel toast, a bit of potato, a tomato-flavoured breadstick, and the afore-mentioned pasta, tuna and mayonnaise, and a fruits of the forest yoghurt. I say ‘has had’ but obviously in most cases they ended up in his mouth by accident rather than design, and left quickly afterwards.

IMG_0374Nevertheless, if he ends up eating even as remotely well as his brother, we’ll be just delighted.

Fingers crossed…

* This, admittedly, will hopefully be a bit of an exception – for DS1 we used plain greek yoghurt flavoured with sugar-free jam as I was a bit anal about ensuring he didn’t have anything sweet. His father and I both have HUGE sweet-teeth (?) so I’m sure the boys will become chocoholics at some point in the future; there just didn’t seem any point in expediting this…