‘For the love of…Amazon’ – A tale of two birthdays’

Have you ever wondered how it could be possible for Jeff Bezos, the inimitable force behind Amazon, to be worth a whopping $137 billion – well in the lead up to my children joint birthday party I found out…It’s down to my husband and I.

I knew before the party that we had a verging on dangerous relationship with Amazon, relying on it for any and every last minute need. But as we got closer to the day in question the deliveries starting mounting at an unprecedented rate, everyday we were receiving several parcels and at this point I had not once but on several occasions been stopped whilst out walking the dog by the delivery driver, sometimes just to say Hi as I now saw him more than my own family and sometimes to say he had yet more parcels and should he just leave them in the front garden if I was going to be out for the day. We had gone beyond the awkward stage of when you open the door a couple of days in a row to the same delivery man and do that awkward chuckle and a bit of a ‘yup its me again smile/grimace’ we had now grown to be acquaintances, maybe even friends.

This was our first full on, firing on all cylinders childrens party that we had thrown, Rex was turning three and is now at an age where we couldn’t get away with essentially having a party for ourselves with our friends whilst the children, mostly unable to move sit around dribbling, cooing, giggling and crying. Instead he told us in no uncertain terms that he wanted a super hero party with lots of cake (Stella, who was turning 1 sadly didn’t get much of a look in when it came to the theme) and Just like that, like any good bossed around parent we set about planning this double whammy monstrosity.

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Stella turns 1 and Rex turns 3 and just these two balloons cost about 5 times their combined age…

We booked the venue and then I set about finding an entertainer, now having absolutely no idea what I was looking for I went solely on reviews, and found a lovely company called JoJo Fun Kids and after much toing and froing about whether they could in fact provide the correct super hero, Spiderman was booked. Spiderman, also known as Dom, called me to introduce himself, I knew almost has soon as he’d said ‘Hello Sophie, this is Dom’ that a springy, camp and almost certainly a musical theatre practitioner was on the other end of the phone and naturally was thrilled, we clicked immediately. It was only post party that my darling friend who has his own events company gently raised his eyebrows when I said how much we were paying dearest Dom…note to self, must.do.more.research.

Then it was down to the nitty gritty and this is really where things pick up pace, because I don’t know about you, but once the big things are in place (venue, entertainment) its down to the fun part, the details and this is where Mr Bezos starts ringing up his enormous bill.

Party Bags – straight to Amazon obv – literally everything related to super hero – ADD TO CART.

Fancy Dress Outfits

Me: ‘OMG look at this amazing Hulk outfit’ ADD TO CARD

My Husband: ‘oooooh and these huge Hulk Gloves ‘ADD TO CART’

Me: ‘oh and look a mask’ ADD TO CART

MY Husband: ‘and face paints, we could paint him green too (event though he’s wearing a suit) ADD TO THE DAMN CART

Then onto Stellas outfit..oh and ours…

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Outfits on point thought, so totally worth it

 

Cake – I actually home made both of the cakes but hell would freeze over if we didn’t quickly add in some edible paper super heroes to pop on top of them  – Amazon here we come!

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Just showing me cakes off 

 

Balloons – I left the shop (yes an actual physical shop) with 10 huge balloons plus a bunch of normal ones thinking how nice and seemingly extremely lucrative it would be to own a balloon shop – I would be rich without hardly needing to do anything.

More Balloons – Hmmmm not sure if we have enough balloons, ill just nip onto Amazon and buy some more, sure why not.

Now I am actually all for small brands and I do my best to buy from them, but when it comes to dealing with this kind of situation, Amazon is your one stop shop, it’s also our one stop shop for every random thought that we have and think we therefore need to buy: Horrendous Polyester Fancy dress outfits, boxes of 10 roles of wrapping paper, 3 million straws etc etc i’m just V jealous I didn’t think of this before Jeff

The party was in fact a huge success (thank god) and Dom was everything I had hoped for and more, he arrived bang on time though possibly looking ever so like he had come straight in from the night before, I imagined him slipping out the doors of G.A.Y dressed to party and straight through the doors of our local church hall  dressed head to toe in his finest polyester spiderman outfit, which really left very little to the imagination. That said, he had the children, all 30 of them, singing to the beat of his drum, screaming with laughter (as were the parents as he dropped innuendo filled comments, leaving some of the fathers blushing for their lives) and when his part was over they followed him quietly and in a perfect line through for tea…whilst I stood thinking how many years of ageing he had saved me.

I mean look at Hulk (AKA Rex) rushing over to meet Spider-Man (AKA Dom).

 

Once tea was finished, E numbers had reached peak highs and sugar crashes were just around the corner we packed up the enormous amount of mess that children have a wonderful talent for making and made our way home, children straight to bed, us straight towards anything with a cork…and relax.

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The site of 30 children chowing down without a care in the world, surrounded by a tonne of manic parents

 

So party done, Bezos et al significantly richer and us significantly poorer party season is over for this year. It is to my absolute relief that the childrens birthdays are both in January as they will be having joint birthday parties until they are old enough to come to us with a bullet proof argument as to why this is no longer possible.

 

 

A tale of Tantrums and Tiaras (but with no tiaras)

The strangest thing happened last week, as if a switch had been flicked, my normally horizontally laid back son developed a little attitude, a tiny Liza Minnelli seemed to be emerging from somewhere deep within. The word ‘No’ suddenly became his all time favourite word in the dictionary and diva demands were being thrown around willy nilly.

I was waiting for this illusive time commonly known as the ‘terrible twos’ but wasn’t sure in what shape they would take or when they would arrive. Rex is just 22 months (as of a couple of days ago) and I think this may well be the beginning of it? Suddenly he’s decided he can have an opinion on things which is entirely uncool at this point in proceedings.

This is an example of our daily conversations…

Me: ‘Rex, shall we go to the park?’

Rex: ‘No’

Me: ‘Rex, shall we read some books?’

Rex: ‘No’

Me: ‘Rex, are you looking forward to your playdate with XYZ?’

Rex: ‘No’

Me: ‘Rex, do you want a snack’

Rex: ‘Snacks, snacks, yes, biscuits. banana, snacks, satsuma, biscuit’

Rex: ‘ Hey Duggee, Hey Duggee, HEY DUGGGGEEEEEEEEE’ (to those that don’t know, Hey Duggee is a cartoon and Rex love for it is on a Fatal Attraction level)

Me: No, you can watch something later, let’s go to the park

Rex: *throws himself to the floor in full dramatic rage – cue fake crying, panting and panic attack

Me: *sighs

 

Please note the eye roll and please ignore the fact that I myself appear to be lounging on the sofa in the middle of the day…

 

The thing is I often sit watching in total confusion having to look away as nervous laughter takes over. Also he does the very very best eye roll when he’s about to have an ‘episode’. If i’m really lucky he’ll catch himself being a total diva too and also get the giggles.

I actually feel a little guilty writing about this, pathetic I know as its the most common thing ever and the ultimate in first world problems, but no-one ever wants people to think their children are anything but perfect and genuinely most of the time Rex is a legend (have to put that in incase he reads this one day).

So to the actual point of this, does one give in to the tantrums and allow their toddler to just do what they want so desperately to do and risk the onset of spoilt child syndrome? Or should one be terribly British and put their foot down at all costs? No child of mine is going to think they are in charge…are they? Or is the best thing a mix of the two?

Today for example, I picked Rex up from nursery and was told that he had been wonderful today and very caring, apparently during ‘circle time’ a little girl wasn’t into it and was screaming and crying (totally feel her pain) and Rex had gone over and rubbed her back and cuddled her, so with some smugness and feeling of total pride I took  my perfect, caring, extremely well behaved son home for his nap. Upon entering his room he promptly lost his shit had a massive meltdown in his cot, throwing himself from one side to the other resulting in him smacking his face into the side of the cot, cue total outright uncontrollable tears. At this point I bit my lip, checked he was ok and said goodnight – Strong, in control, on top of it all mother don’t you think? But then when an hour later her was STILL sat in his cot talking to his stuffed toys whilst intermittently shouting ‘MUMMY, MUMMY’  I cracked, I brought him downstairs where he immediately started asking for ‘Hey Duggee’ normally cartoons are allowed from 5pm (‘normally’ being if everything has gone entirely to plan that day, which is extremely rare) but today I just couldn’t be arsed to have the fight and I have work to do so…on went Hey Duggee and out of the window went my control.

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Life is so hard – imagine being asked to take a nap in the middle of the day…

In the video below please watch for the ‘whoops’ upon realising he’s maybe gone too far. Then the Cheeky grin, before finally asking for what he wants…’Hey Duggee’

 

It’s worth noting here that when I say I have work to do, I really do, but I have just noticed that of the 6 tabs I have open on my lap top at this very moment, 3 are online shopping tabs (Mr Porter, Net a Porter, And other stories) which are hovering in the check out stage whilst I have an internal fight about what is ACTUALLY necessary to buy – none of it is – it could be there for days whilst I think of possible justification for at least one of the purchases). One is Pinterest where I sporadically make moodboards for my dream house (we start phase 1 of a monumental renovation the week i’m due baby 2…don’t ask) one is my personal email (which receives nothing but crap and receipts from orders I’ve managed to justify – yesterday was a new cake stand…) and the final one is actual work, looking at me with total disappointment.

Anyway, I digress, Maybe that’s ok though? I mean I’m almost 30 weeks pregnant, can hardly concentrate as it is, am eating more chocolate than I thought humanly possible and generally could do without the extra hassle of trying to debate with a toddler.

I would genuinely love to know how other people handle the days when their toddler is behaving like something akin to a crazed baboon? Do you tough it out and stick to your guns or do you cave and go eat a bar of chocolate instead? I’m a bit of both I think, I mean who has the energy to play the tough love card all the time without a chocolate break or two?!?

 

 

 

There is Power in Positivity – 2nd Trimester Feels

 

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One Multi Tasking Mummy

 

There’s no time to be bored in a world as beautiful as this.

This morning as my husband got up at the crack of dawn to go and play golf and I was once again left with the slightly daunting prospect of another day trying to creatively entertain a toddler I thought of something I read recently in the Huffington Post  – A truly brilliant article by Dr Vanessa Lapointe which I urge all parents living in this fast paced screen filled world we live in to read .

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Standard morning of me trying to get stuff done, whilst being ordered to ‘cuddle baby’

Dr Lapointe talks about the need for children to be bored, for their minds to ‘awaken’  and for them to make their own magic and their own fun, for them to get creative. She talks of the fast paced world we live in now and how parents often feel like they need to respond to their children’s supposed boredom with outings a plenty, activities and as a last resort (or sometimes first resort) – screen time. She also mentions her husbands life as a child growing up the countryside,  this resonated with me as my sister and I grew up in the countryside, nothing but land and adventures to be made, we would take ourselves off on long walks, make up games, pretend we were different characters and immerse ourselves in ourselves in our own imaginations – yes I know it all sounds a bit famous five but my father was brought up in the African Bush and his adventure stories were magical to us – we imagined the Jungle book in real life. My mother though brought up in London was Irish and loved all things creative, she also instilled in us an ‘everyone should chip-in’ work ethic – my sister and I helped with house work and learnt from a young age to respect the things we were given and to help out where we could. These are all things that have stayed with me throughout my life and are things I want my own children to learn.

However, when I was reading this and thinking, yes, yes, yes I totally agree with all of it, It also made my stress levels go up a little. My son is still only a toddler so not quite at the age that I think Lapointe is referring to, but also I feel that living in London, or any city makes it all harder. Space is limited, particularly outside space so though I try to encourage Rex on some days to make his own fun, to enjoy the toys he has and to go out in the garden on those sunny days.

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Loves nothing more than throwing his Duplo everywhere and then settling down to read.

I don’t think more than one or two days of this is really feasible without both of us going stir crazy. We are lucky to have a house and garden but in any city a huge proportion of people are in flats. So on those days when you can’t do another day inside London certainly offers up a lot of options. There are dozens of amazing parks, city farms, soft play spots, sports clubs, childrens members clubs,  in fact there is pretty much everything you could possibly think of to entertain your child on a daily basis. Though a lot of things are not cheap, once every so often is fun and also opens childrens eyes to all sorts of fun new experiences. There are also plenty of free options –  get some friends together and hit up one of the parks or grab a bottle (milk or wine!) and head to one of your houses  – a problem shared is a problem halved as they say.

There is also the app Hoop which you can download and find a million things to do in your area too.

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No gender stereotyping in this house – Rex on the way to a playdate with his beloved baby, named ‘Baby’

 

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Tea for 4 while the mummy’s catch up 

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Hampstead Heath homies

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Couple of hunks hanging out in Battersea park

As for screen time – it seems to be a much debated issue amongst parents, journalists, bloggers, behavioural experts… everyone really. But honestly it’s really no-ones business but you’re own, you do what you can do and to be honest sometimes everyone needs 10 minutes of peace and quiet and if an episode of ‘Hey Duggee’ is what gives you that, then hell, put it on. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and that’s really all it is, an opinion. Myself, I try to say no to iPads and iPhones, though some emergencies require them (ie. on a delayed 40 hour flight to Australia!), and I say at 5pm while I make supper ‘yes’ to sticking on some wild cartoon which can only have been created by an LSD induced mind for half an hour. We all make decisions on how to raise our children, how to entertain them, how to ensure they grow into kind, interesting, rounded adults – no single person’s way is right and no single person’s way is wrong – we should all remember that before we judge others.

I have put a few options below for those West and South West London Mums looking for options to keep them and their little people sane.

Flip Out – Fab trampolining centre in wandworth

 

Battersea Park Zoo

 

The Corner House Cafe

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Corner House cruising

 

 

Bertie and Boo

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Bertie and Boo do the perfect date food

 

The Army Museum

 


The V&A
– mainly in the summer for the outdoor splash pool that children can play in

 

Gambado

Sky Lark Cafe

Kew Gardens

The London Wetland Centre

 

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Watching the Otters being fed