‘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.

 

 

Return to the White Isle

This post has taken rather longer than I hope to get out, so apologies – This is mainly due to the surrounding teething issues, potty training issues, weening issues and lack of food issues (that’s me not the children, I’m on a desperate diet and all I can think of is the enormous box of maltesers in the fridge). This morning after week 1 of trying to work out and be good I weighed myself and have put on 1kg – ‘That alway’s happens when you first start properly training again, its water retention and the muscles getting swollen” I love my husband for knowing that unless I hear this, I will throw the scales at the mirror, storm to the kitchen, throw open the fridge and eat all the maltesers cause who bloody cares away way if the scales are going to be such bastards to me all the time. This is the worst time post baby, the last stone, it is as stubborn as a mule & refuses to remove itself from my body.

Anyway, since we last spoke, which was back in March when things had been a bit testing with Rex and we were all over the place and juggling more balls than the most professional of clowns. We are now back in London (thank god), the house is finished (this phase anyway) and we have treated ourselves to a few trips away. My god the difference it makes being back home is immeasurable, we are like those robot people in Westworld who get shot 500 times and then get taken back to the lab, reprogrammed and sent back out into the world good as new (ready to be shot all over again) – in fact that link I’ve embedded pretty much describes how we felt. So after a fabulous family  trip to Australia the time came for my annual girls trip to Ibiza.

A few days of full on hedonism, wild all night parties leading on to all day beach parties…is perhaps what me 10 years ago was capable of. Though we did plan for one blow out night, super club night out and my friend Caroline had even gone as far as to tap her brother up for the full VIP treatment, but when the time came for us to don our glittery bras and gold hot pants a vision of my 10am flight home for fathers day on Sunday having had 1 hour of sleep all but stopped me in my tracks – lame I know, but I’m not 20 anymore and thats ok. Other than that slightly unrealistic attempt at going BIG, we thrived on a more relaxed Ibiza this year, wonderful beach clubs and fabulous boozy dinners.

My sister and I flew out a day early, She hadn’t been to Ibiza before so I was keen to have a bit of hang time just us. An Ibiza holiday begins really before you even get there, the night flight on easy jet is almost legendary, its people watching at its best. The troops of hen dos and stag do’s, the groups of young guys and girls just out of school and impatient to dive into the San Antonio revelry. The glamorous fashion types, whose ‘flight wear’ is pristine and whose new season Chloe sunnies are on from dusk till dawn. It’s a veritable feast for the eyes. I was sat next to two boys (I say boys they were about 19/20), definite Ibiza virgins and visibly shaking with excitement, heavy dance music blaring out of their headphones, with 2 cans of strawberry flavoured cider each placed carefully on their tray table, you could tell they were gearing up for the holiday of their dreams. That is until we came into some turbulants and one of the boys began desperately clinging to the chair in front, his knuckles going whiter and whiter, tears welling up in his eyes, his skin sheet white – he was certain that we were about crash, convinced that Ibiza would be a dream he never realised. Poor chap, once the plane calmed down he was hit with his second blow when he released his friend had been texting with a girl already out in Ibiza and was planning on going straight to meet her when he got there. I thought of him at one point during our trip and wondered if he’d managed to get out of his trip everything he had wanted to, I genuinely hope so.

The first day we decided to relax by the pool of our hotel and recover from our late arrival. We grabbed some drinks at a bar next to our hotel Xaxa Restaurant as the sun went down and then headed off to a restaurant my dear friend Craig had suggested.

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wonky glasses and all

 

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The view from the bar

One tip for travelling in Ibiza is that you can never guarantee getting a taxi when you want one. There is one taxi company that services the island on one radio so if its busy you could be waiting hours (its happened to me on a few occasions) so book one for earlier than you need.

Es Torrent is totally off the beaten track, Its located in a secluded bay and is beautiful and peaceful, the perfect place for a relaxing dinner with the very freshest and best seafood you could ask for. I had to order the fish when I booked the table so went with the whole seabass and fresh prawns which didn’t disappoint. Most people frequent Es Torrent in the day time when you can also spend the day on the beach. But the evening is stunning, its quiet and the stars are amazing.

There were two super yachts moored in the bay, the owners of one of the boats were at the restaurant with us. The other one lay quietly in the darkness until a speedboat attached to the main boat sped to shore with a long haired man aboard who on arrival, jumped ashore and met a white range rover with tinted windows in the car park for about 5 minutes before scuttling back to the speed boat and whizzing off – you can make your own assumptions about what he was up to on his quick trip ashore.

The restaurant isn’t cheap, we paid 250 Euro for two people which included only one bottle of wine, it was worth it though and I would certainly go again.

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The beach at Es Torrent

 

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We met my friends Charlotte and Caroline at breakfast the next day – I had made the fatal error of having fruit from the buffet breakfast the day before and so was suffering the consequences with a pretty dodgy tummy, though was also weirdly pleased about this, every little helps when trying to shift that last bloody stone particularly when  you’re she purpose was to eat and drink for four days straight.

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The girls had rented us a car which was handy in the day time when getting to beach clubs – we didn’t have a booking for our first day so once we had finished annoying the reception staff by moving rooms for the second time we hopped in the jeep and cruised down to the area around Blue Marlin to check out the options and quickly settled on Tropicana Beach Club. None of us had been before and we were all pretty bloody impressed. The clientele was a slightly older generation so we obviously felt like total babes, that is until two ludicrous looking ( by that I mean gorgeous) dutch bronzed bombshells came and sat right behind us and whilst we carefully ordered salads for our lunch they sat munching on amazing looking pastas with the calories seemingly vanishing as they were consumed (probably launching themselves onto me, never to leave again).

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OK, I know I said we had salads, but we also had chips…and Jamon…don’t judge

The beauty of Cala Tarida is that the bars/restaurants on the coast there get the best sunsets, so once we were back from the beach, we showered, changed and walked down to the Cotton Club which was a 10 minute stroll from our hotel. You can have drinks perched above the restaurant to watch the sun go down before going down for supper.

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To mix the good with the bad, the annoying thing about this part of town is that there is nowhere that’s particularly near that you can go after dinner, so once you’re a few bottles of rose down and ready to start the party you’re stopped in your tracks and have to either schlep into town or pop next door for an espresso martini for the road.

 

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Look at us, ready and eager to take on the town, only to be faced with closed doors

Note to the wise, if you don’t drink coffee, don’t suddenly try and get with the kids and drink espresso martinis, it doesn’t end well, it ends with not a single ounce of sleep (I realise how lame that may sound given where we are).

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The devils drink

 

Turns out I wasn’t the only one that didn’t sleep, It’s a funny thing, we are always so excited to get away from it all and just have some girl time etc and as mothers we are all in one way or another quite sleep deprived. But once you get there, desperate for a bit of shut eye, a snooze, napping, deep deep slumber, it suddenly seems unable to come. where as at home sometimes I think that if I put my head even near a pillow I would pass straight out and not wake up till several days later. I guess you need a bit more time to adjust to being away from the little rogues, but then we’d miss them too much – I think next time i’ll just take sleeping pills.

So on little sleep we headed to El Chiringuito which while it probably doesn’t have the best beach (it’s not great for swimming) – the restaurant itself is mega and such a treat, it’s the kind of place you could happily while away the hours drinking bottle after bottle of rose, plus they do a superb bowl of fries. After soaking up every last ounce of sun we could possibly get along with some exceptional people watching under our belts we headed back to get ready for the evening.

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OK, so I get the beach isn’t exactly bad, but that’s how spoilt you are in Ibiza.

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Ok, perhaps I should take it back about the beach.

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Restaurant of dreams

The evening took us to a fab find – Patchwork at Sa Punta  They filled us with Incredible sharing platters of Lebanese food, great music, cocktails and endless bottles of rose. It’s also not too far from Destino as our taxi driver pointed out to us, not realising we had moments earlier cancelled our guest list access to Pacha in favour of a boozy dinner and bed – know your audience Mr taxi driver!

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I mean look at that view

the evening was fabulous. It was the greatest way to end a holiday –  happy, healthy, tanned, full of good food and probably far too many bottles of wine and with the greatest of girl gangs.

One key ‘high’ of the evening was spotting two older gents (by older, I mean they were well into their 60’s) having massages as the dinner table, they had obviously indulged in more than just a cocktail or too and so we watched while their eyeballs all but rolled into the backs of their heads, then upon leaving the restaurant they approached us and asked which club we were off to as they would share a taxi (they looked totally flummoxed when we said we were off home) it turned out they hadn’t slept in 2 days and were pushing for a 3rd as were off home to Paris the following day…oh Ibiza, how I love you – until next year!

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Girl Gang at Patchwork.

 

 

 

 

 

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 change is gonna come…

Chapter One

The first two weeks of this year were mental to say the least – we have started the first part of a huge building project on our house in London, packed up our house and moved out of London to a new house. We have started Rex at a new nursery for the next three months too…oh and we had a baby!

I have no idea why we did this all at the same time – perhaps we were both having a psychotic episode? Or is it just part of the human condition to decide to take on so many major life moments in one go? Either way although it has been somewhat testing shall we say, the outcomes will be and have been wonderful.

The most wonderful part of all of this was of course the birth of our little girl, Stella. This time round we decided not to find out the sex but myself and Brute were absolutely convinced we were going to be having another boy, it’s a weird feeling I just couldn’t imagine myself having a girl – I definitely thought my lot in life was to be surrounded by boys (something as a hormonal teenager I would have given 2 thumbs up to).

I hadn’t given much thought to the birth itself, to be honest that was on purpose as I was more nervous about it all this time round, knowing what to expect, I’m definitely one of those people that likes to maintain a ‘it’ll be fine’ facade because to be honest you have to get through it one way or another, but on the inside the stomach was slightly knotted. When I was pregnant with Rex I had envisaged a water birth, no drugs and all very serene , the baby would pop out and i would look flushed but calm with a beautiful glow about me, a bit like the episode of Friends when Rachel has her baby and looks at the end how I hope to look on a normal day (I am biased as I have a major love for Jen Aniston, so her in any state including post giving birth is a look I’m down with) annoyingly that is quite (incredibly) far from what happened and how I looked at the end of it.

Instead, 9 days after Rex was due,  I went into labour, had to have my waters broken manually which is a pretty undignified feeling and though I started in the serenity of the water bath I was soon dragged upstairs literally kicking and screaming in pain to be induced as I wasn’t dilating. If I was going to be induced then I was going to take every pain killing drug they could find for me along with it. Another 12 hours later Rex arrived.   Brutal, yet ultimately the most incredible thing in the world is delivered.

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With my little hunk in the hospital the day he was born – so alert!

With Stella is was totally different, I had assumed I was going to be in for another late baby until the week before my due date and Brute said we should place bets on when she was going to arrive, I suddenly had this feeling that she was going to be on time, Brute went with 5 days late (they do say your second is usually earlier & a quicker birth in general) Sure enough at 01.30am on the morning of Saturday the 20th January 2018 I got up thinking I needed my usual middle of the night pregnant woman pee, only this time i didn’t quite make it to the loo and instead found myself stood in a pool of water, I woke Brute up and said ‘I think my waters are breaking’ to which he said ‘well don’t just stand there, get to the toilet’ (he’s lucky i’m so understanding) half an hour later my contractions started and they came on strong very quickly, Brute was set up with his contraction app which within in minutes was flashing red and telling us to get our asses to the hospital as otherwise this baby was going to pop out on our pre renovation laminate bedroom floor, not a first glance at the world anyone should have to deal with. So after at least 5 stops for contractions we made it to the car and zoomed to Queen Charlottes and Chelsea hospital where they took one look at me and said ‘it won’t be long now’ cue internal freak out – I’m not ready, I can’t do this, help!!!! I was whizzed into the birth centre and hopped into the bath and by then It was full on, I knew I couldn’t have any pain relief if I was going to  have a water birth, but it’s what I had wanted the first time so I was going to give it my best shot. It was quite a blur, I just remember asking how long left till the baby arrived (the sounds awfully polite, in actual fact I think I scream when the F*%k is this baby coming, get it out of me) to which the midwife calmly said 40 minutes  – how on earth they can tell that is beyond me but she was spot on – sure enough, 40 minutes later through a haze of swearing, punching Chris in the arm and almost breaking his hand this little angel arrived into the water as calm as day, it took a minute before Brute said ‘is it a girl or a boy?’ I had totally forgotten that we didn’t know and when we realised we had a little girl every other feeling vanished, and pure love took over. That is of course why people have more than one child, you forget the pain of labour so quickly…damn them and the pure joy they bring.

So that was it, 3.5 hours from my waters breaking to Stella arriving, and yet still I didn’t look anywhere near Rachel in Friends…hmmm I’m starting to think she wasn’t really giving birth after all.

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My little dream team on the day each of them was born. Rex on the left and Stella on the right – I know new borns all look similar but they could ONLY be siblings!

Now, Before I go any further, I need to just shout about how amazing the midwives and staff were at Queen Charlottes and Chelsea, this is my second birth there and both times they made me feel as at ease as is possible. The calm, caring, positive, encouraging attitude and incredible knowledge they have, well they are just all round bloody wonderful people. It’s a serious testament to their love of and commitment to their jobs. I was in such safe hands from beginning to end and though I thanked everyone profusely when we left the hospital I feel like they do the most incredible job bringing new life into the world countless times a day and they deserve more praise than is possible to impart. Once Stella had made her grand appearance into the world my midwife made sure I was comfortable on the bed with Stella, whilst another came in with toast and tea for both brute and I. We were then (once we were up to it) moved next door to a fresh room with a double bed and offered breakfast (both of us).

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Super important that Brute was comfortable in bed as soon as possible after the birth…he’d been through a lot.

We were told in no uncertain terms to take our time, have a sleep there was no rush to leave the room – we were so touched by how comfortable they made us and ultimately indebted to them for helping to bring our two children into the world safely.

I’m going to leave it there until next time as I wanted to write a separate piece about what comes next, the huge highs the very real lows, what it all meant for Rex and where we are now (plus an adorable video of the moment they met, be still my beating heart etcetc). Also my little limpet needs to feed for the 100000000000000th time today so I’m going to settle into some serious Winter Olympics action – who knew curling could be this gripping.

Marching out of the hospital that lunchtime with my little babe, Stella

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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

 

 

 

BABY ON BOARD

I’m on the home straight now with my pregnancy (as opposed to life in general I hope) In fact I am on maternity leave officially from 6pm this Friday – It seems strange to say your going on maternity leave when you only work 1 day a week, but having said that I more or less work all the hours that rex is at nursery so I’m not hanging out watching Escape to the Country all day – though my god I would love to do that. Normally all my work is done from home, but recently I have been travelling into town on one morning a week and what that has reminded me of is the good old London Commute and how much I bloody hate it.

The thing is everyone hates the rush hour commute don’t they, no one wants to be shoved like sardines into a metal box with coffee breath and smelly armpits shoved in your face, but that’s life. What does drive me slightly nuts though is the zombie like nature of people on the tube sometimes. Last week at 34 weeks pregnant I had to go into town at rush hour, so for the first time in two pregnancies I pinned on my ‘Baby on Board’ badge and waddled to the tube station. As presumed the station was pretty full and the trains arriving were much the same, but I got onto the tube with my badge glaring at the members of the public in front of me. Having not worn said badge before I sort of assumed it would be akin to wearing a flashing siren with a tannoy demanding that people immediately move and vacate their seats for me. However this was far from the case instead I got eyes firmly placed in phones as if glued to the screen and unable to look anywhere else. The other thing I noticed was the the awkward side glances, quickly looking up or across at me, and quickly looking away. I get that no-one wants to have to give up their seat at rush hour, and honestly If I hadn’t been in my third trimester and suffering from pretty bad Pelvic pain I wouldn’t have been too bothered, as I said before this was the first time I had worn my badge in two pregnancy’s.

I know people will be thinking, why didn’t you just say something? Ask someone to politely give up their seat for you? Well the answer is, I totally could have and on my way home I gently locked eyes with someone and in my terribly British way apologised profusely whilst asking if I might possibly bother him for his seat. He duly got up without making eye contact at all which perhaps was for the best. But on the way into town that morning as my blood pressure was rising I thought I would just stand there and see what happened, a little experiment shall we say. I counted that in each seating compartment there were 12 seats so in each carriage were were 24 plus the areas by the door where they have those padded bench things you can at least lean against. What struck me the most was that in the 24 seats that were in my carriage, ALL 24 people occupying those seats were on their phones, and I don’t mean listening to music but with eyes at least up and aware. No they were all face down in their phones, probably watching you tube clips of cute puppies dressed up as Santa (we’re all guilty) or watching the latest Netflix drama. I don’t know exactly why it pissed me off so much, but it really did (It’s lucky I didn’t have rex with me too or it may have tipped me over the edge.). I’m fairly sure most people get home from work and watch plenty of crap on TV (I know I do) so why do we need to spend every moment of unoccupied time watching a screen also? In an environment where you’re with other members of the public isn’t it nice to be a bit more aware of your surroundings?

I’m sure many of you have seen this animation by Steve Cutts, I fear it rings more true with every passing year.

 

I am just as guilty as the next person of spending too much time on my phone, but it is something I am acutely aware of, infact I wrote about it before in a previous blog Unsocial Media but I do try and stay off it in public, unless I’m listening to music or boring friends with another picture of Rex or Tony.

I digress, I have spoken to various friends about this, both female and male and I totally take on board that if someone isn’t wearing a badge when pregnant and on public transport there is most definitely that stressful feeling of ‘is she or isn’t she?’ People can’t be expected to guess and risk mortifyingly offending someone on their post christmas diet. I did that very thing about a year ago, a lady got on who was not at all big but had a round tummy which made me think she was pregnant, my instinct though was to immediately stand and offer her my seat. She then took on the terribly British role of apologising TO ME and saying she wasn’t in fact pregnant but had just had her baby a week ago and so had the postpartum tummy, I died inside, but she instantly, upon seeing my cheeks flush, said she was grateful for the offer anyway.

So what is the answer, I think it’s quite simple really. If you are pregnant and know you will need/want to sit down on public transport wear that badge and wear it in pride of place so it can’t be missed, it’s only fair. Failing that I’m afraid you might have to muster the courage to ask for a seat (though I hope you would be spotted first). Members of the public who aren’t pregnant/disabled/elderly, be aware, pull your eyes up and off your phone every so often to check the people around you, if it looks like someone is less able to stand than you then get off your backside and make room for them. Simples!

Please do leave a comment if you agree, disagree entirely, or have your own story to share, I’m open to all 🙂 xx

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I might need a bigger badge…

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?!?