12 Months of Music

New Year new me? Not likely, I gave up making wildly outrageous resolutions like giving up chocolate & sweets for a month a long time ago and never ever have I attempted the dreaded dry January. Instead I have made compromises with myself such as giving up sweets/chocolate but just on weekdays – we’ll see how that goes this year shall we? What it will actually mean is that come Friday (cause Friday is essentially the weekend) I will begin a 3 day sugar worship. In fact on the 1st of January 2019 Brute said to me ‘New Years really only starts on the 2nd because everyone is hungover today, so we don’t need to give up chocolate until tomorrow’ I loved him more in that moment.

What I do actually genuinely want to ‘take up’ or resolve to do, is to give some time to me, ‘Me Time’ as it’s seemingly known, something that slowly over time has become less and less of a thing. It’s easy to unknowingly slightly lose the things that make you you over time and one thing that I could never lose but feel like I haven’t spent enough time nurturing is my great passion for music . Having studied and played my whole life I have found in recent years, particularly after having had children, that I listen to music less and less, probably compared to a lot of people I still listen to it a lot but I used to sit for hours and hours making playlists, listening to records, reading about musicians, going to concerts (small and big) and I miss it. Yesterday though I was in the kitchen and looking at this picture which is on the wall in our kitchen:

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Each of these pictures was a table name at our wedding, afterwards we collected them up and made a collage of them. They are some of my absolute favourite artists and yesterday on the 1st day of the new year I was looking at it and decide to ask the ever (un)helpful Amazon Echo AKA Alexa to play me some Miles Davis on shuffle and after we had gotten past her not understanding, playing it in the wrong room and asking for the name again that lyrical trumpet came flowing through the speaker and It made me happy. I decided then that that was what I needed to start doing again, more things that make me happy. I also remembered that I wrote my dissertation on Miles Davis at Arts & Music School and got 97% which is pretty major, I’m allowed to brag because I was not a very scholarly or well behaved person at uni and was politely asked to leave shortly afterwards – Be good in school kids!

And so it is that “12 Months of Music” is born! It’s nothing really, just me telling myself that in each month of 2019 I’m going to take the time to listen to those great artists that I love and that make me feel happy and hopefully teach my children a thing or too.

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My newest band members – I’m on piano in front of them 🙂

Right It’s time for me to get on, I have a double whammy super hero birthday bash to organise for next weekend, and currently the entertainer has gone AWOL and I have no back up – perhaps I shouldn’t have hassled them so much already…Ill look into that as something to work on for 2020…

 

 

The Baby Adjustment Bureau

Im going to start this blog with a video which if you don’t find heart warming well do you even have a heart? I took a video of Rex coming home from staying with my sister and brother-in-law and his cousin Ivo (who he ADORES) to meet baby Stella – I have just re-watched it and it is beyond lovely, the sheer look of wonder in his eyes as he see’s her for the first time is magical. Also it really makes me laugh that he storms in and cruises down the slide on the way over. Now its no feature film and I really must work on my directing skills, but still, what a memory to have on tape.

On a side note please excuse the war zone that is our house – if you read my last post you’ll know we were packing the place up ready for gutting.

If i thought we had a lot going on, I can only imagine how much that all is to a two year old. I think Rex’s initial thoughts on Stella coming home were ‘cool, sweet little baby, she seems great and can definitely stay a day or two’ then a few days later ‘ok, hold up why is this baby still here and why on earth is she taking away the attention from me and why is she constantly attached to my mother like some kind of limpet’? Cue attention seeking tantrums from hell and heavy handed ‘hugs’ for Stella – that child will be made of tough stuff when she’s older.

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it’s important to note, that he adores his sister, he just doesn’t know his own strength yet.

If that wasn’t hard enough to see, the 5 day post natal blues then come a-calling – I remember after I had Rex I would just sit in the bath and cry, I couldn’t understand quite why I was so tearful, I was missing my momma more than ever at that time for obvious reasons, I had no idea what I was doing (who does) and needed that support, that big hug when exhaustion had taken over. So I knew what to expect the second time round, but it hit me in a different way. This time my emotions were entirely directed to Rex, he was acting up in quite a big way and most of his anger seemed to be directed at me, me and the limpet seemingly taking up permanent residence on my breast. I was no longer able to give all my attention to him and that was more upsetting than I had thought. It’s amazing how you don’t realise the bond you have with a child until things change and you can’t give him your undivided attention. He started waking up in the night (this is a child that was sleeping through the night from about 8 weeks old), he was throwing tantrums on an insane scale, I mean throw yourself to the floor in a fit of rage insane, screaming till he lost his voice, hitting me and only wanting ‘daddy’ and it was breaking my heart. I was finding myself losing my temper constantly. On top trying to look after Stella, field Rex’s mood swings (and my own) we were packing up our house and living in general hell so when we actually did get to our rental house I felt a huge sense of calm.

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Nailed the serious look of defiance – on a side note I can’t even with those perfect pouty lips and big blue eyes

Next step was settling Rex into a new nursery and that first settling in day was just the worst…the teachers took him off outside to the playground and I could see him from inside, he was there with no-one around him not wailing but with tears rolling down his cheek, looking frightened and unsure of what to do, totally vulnerable. In that moment as I stood watching him with tears filling my eyes as one of the teachers tried to get me to fill in endless forms I realised that I was in fact part of the problem (I know, unimaginable). My dearest friend charlotte who I have leaned on in an immeasurable  way through both my pregnancies had mentioned to me, when I was regaling her with my latest issue, that it’s easy to forget just how young the elder child is when you have a second baby and here I was doing exactly that. Tired and getting frustrated and talking to him as a child MUCH older than his years, expecting him to understand and forgetting that he is a baby himself, only just two and with all the changes that come with turning two he was having to deal with an enormous amount of extra emotional baggage.

We still have tears and screaming at bed time but instead of letting us all go into meltdown I try and take a deep breath (a glug of something alcoholic) and remember that patience is key and that all he needs is to know we’re there and he’s safe and listened to. Boy has my new zen parenting style paid off as two nights ago a rather genius thought came to me. I was home alone and Rex had started his screaming as soon as I said goodnight, I sat there thinking, how am I going to keep doing this on the nights I’m home alone? Particularly while Stella is so reliant on me, I can’t lay with him for 20 minutes like I can when Brute is home and able to hold the baby (a screaming baby is hardly the best lullaby). So I went in to see him and he was saying he was scared (another emotion that can flood a two year old) at that moment Tony appeared at the door keen to see what the fuss was about and wondering when he would get some peace and quiet to carry on his own napping…cue lightbulb…I gently said to Rex ‘Would you like Tony to sleep in here with you?’ ‘YES’ he said eyes wide like saucers so I popped Tony on the bed, told him Tony would love to sleep in with him and keep him company (I imagine an internal eye roll from Tony at this moment) and said goodnight to them both and that was that, no noise just straight to sleep and last night Tony just wandered straight in and hopped onto Rex’s bed and off they went to sleep. I suppose if you think about it, it’s like being told you can have a sleep over with your best friend every night so no wonder he is feeling more settled. I realise this may not be the long term solution, but while it works and he is happy then we’re all happy.

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The answer to all our prayers, the long standing hero of our household and the best of friends to Rex

 

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Never far from each others sides

Alongside that I’m trying to have special ‘us time’ going out for tea and cake or going for a walk and having lunch – anything so he knows that he is still very much at the forefront of my mind and my heart.

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looking on proud as punch as my son devours handfuls of marshmallows and chocolate cake

All I know is it’s a minefield and I have no clue as to what I’m doing but just try each day to do the best I can. It makes me realise how amazing all my friends are too, I can’t tell you the amount of time I have sent needy messages desperate for answers on what to do next and they never fail to come through for me. From all this chaos has come so much learning so whilst parts of it have been painful, I’ll take that pain for immeasurable happiness.

Right I realise my last couple of blogs have been rather serious and possibly also a bit ‘woe is me’ (who’s the attention seeker now) so next blog I promise to bring back the laughter of blogs gone by.

A worthy wake up call

In theory I have 5 days to go until this new little person enters our lives, though anyone who has had a child knows that due dates are not something to bet on. The last few weeks haven’t been easy,  and I’ve found myself getting stressed about the impending arrival – not because I’m worried about having two children, but because we have decided to start building works on our house, meaning we have to move out whilst this happens and have said baby all in the same week whilst also having a couple of baby scares and general illness. This is all our doing, so I wouldn’t even be sympathetic to me having read this.

Anyway, I was hoping to go into this next stage of motherhood relatively relaxed and feeling strong, but I’m not quite there yet. I do remember though about 10 days before my due date with Rex, we (myself and a bunch of school friends) were supposed to be going down to the countryside to see our dear friend who was over from Australia, but I was bed bound with a mega stomach flu so I’m pretty sure it’s just our pretty incredible bodies getting rid of all the grossness and preparing for the impending arrival.

However, yesterday and infact this morning I have been reminded, which I shouldn’t really need to be, just how lucky I am and it has come through the medium of Social Media (which I have frequently discussed my love/hate relationship with). There has been a story doing the rounds about a girl called Holly Butcher who passed away only a few weeks ago and at only 27 years young from a rare form of cancer. In the lead up to her passing she wrote a note for her family to share when the inevitable happened and she sadly lost her life to the cancer and it is the most honest and beautifully written note, something that I dare anyone to read and not feel like they should re-evaluate. I (as I’m sure many other people do) have a habit of complaining about relatively minor things sometimes (see paragraph 1), ‘I have a cold, ugh’, ‘I’m tired, ugh’, ‘I wish I could have this, or do that’ and when you read a letter like that of Holly’s you are quickly put firmly back in your place, not in a harsh way, because lets face it, we all need to complain sometimes just for a bit of relief, but if you let it get the better of you (which we all have) it is actually just a huge waste of time, when instead we could be using that precious time to do something that makes you happy. I’m not talking about having the flu, forcing yourself not to complain and instead booking yourself to do a sky dive because we should all be doing things that make us feel more alive, but having the flu, having a quick sulk and then allowing yourself to curl up with your children or partner or friend or pillow and watch your favourite film for the afternoon and NOT feel guilty about it, not feel lazy, not beat yourself up about it.

This weekend I had planned to take Brute away for a special birthday lunch in the countryside and my sister had said she would take Rex for the night so we could have a good old sleep in before baby two arrives – it would have been the second time in 2 years that we had a night off so we were just the tiniest bit excited about sleeping in. Also it was the anniversary of my own mummy passing away and I always like to keep myself busy on that day each year and do something that is fun and happy. However as luck would have it we were all struck down with some gross flu bug so all plans were cancelled and we were house bound, now whilst I certainly complained, 2 hours sleep a night at 39 weeks pregnant with a sick family just isn’t cool but I kept reminding myself that actually we were all in it together and really, how lucky that I have this little family to sit around and watch endless telly with while we all groan about how rough we feel. More than that I knew that it would pass and I could change plans and as Holly said, ‘It’s okay to acknowledge that something is annoying but try not to carry on about it and negatively effect other people’s days.’ Instead we went down to the river in the evening, walked in the freezing cold to the pub and over ordered food, then sloped home for a night in front of the TV, together.

I couldn’t have been more thankful for reading that extraordinary letter these past few days, it lifted me out of a ball of self pity and instead has made me make some little promises to myself for the year(s) ahead – Less whinging and wallowing and more appreciating, doing, finding the positive and loving – I am luckier than I ever imagined in so many ways and it would be a great shame to not realise, cherish and use that. It also made me realise how wonderful my friends and family are, those that sit by and gently take on the barrage of sulky messages whilst sending back only positivity, flowers, options, resolutions etc.

This will likely be my last post before the babe arrives and so on this rainy, grey London day and with a slightly bunged up nose I’m going to take my son and do what he loves the most at the moment and that is to build a tower of wooden blocks, over and over and over again whilst Sia plays Chandelier on repeat in the background, because the genuine excitement on his face as the tower falls down for the 100th time never gets old.

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An oldie but a goodie – This is from July 2016 when we were housebound & Ill but also super pumped to just be in it together

 

 

 

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