Live Oxfordshire, the end of the beginning…

Thank you so much for following my blog thus far. Happily I have had so much fun and such good feedback as I’ve worked on it over the last year that I’ve decided to take it to the next level of seriousness and am pleased to announce that I have now moved to a new home at www.liveoxfordshire.com

Please join me there for more of the same posts that you’ve all so kindly told me you’ve enjoyed reading as well as some new material that I’m really excited about.

So let’s make this not a farewell, but an a bientôt

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Baby’s first shoes, a photo story

So, it’s a big moment in every Mama’s life, the first pair of shoes for your baby. So many things to consider – fit, style, colour, make. So how do you choose? For us it was really important to look after foot health, which is why we went for a barefoot style shoe from Happy Little Soles, a lovely online boutique store which only stocks foot-healthy brands like the ones we chose. Wide fit, lots of toe-room, a great selection of colours and not horrifically gender-segregated. Even better, I found a pair I loved in the sale. She’s been walking for a couple of months now and is finally confident enough on her feet that it was worth finally buying some. She won’t wear them all the time, but she’s already had a bimble round the garden and was thrilled to be able to join her big bro on the baby trampoline.

Not sure what else I can say about shoes without turning into a complete bore, so I put together a little photo essay instead. Enjoy the cute baba feet (sorry there aren’t more of her wearing the shoes. She has her brother’s aversion to staying still) and the shot where she’s taste-testing her new footwear!

 

Just for full disclosure: I haven’t received any kind of payment or reward for endorsing this brand or retailer – just happy with the shoes and the service.

Edited to ad that yes, she does have truly enormous feet for someone who’s still only 10 months. If kids are like puppies then she is destined to be Great Dane sized. Eek.

Arty stuff

Now the blog has been running for a good while I thought it was probably time to smarten it up a bit, make it a bit more professional, a bit more my own.  I’ve been sketching out a potential blog header in my spare (hah hah) time and thought you might like a sneak preview of one of the elements in its rough pencilly format.20150717_225029

Am quite excited about it – I just hope it looks as good finished, though these things rarely do!

It’s been so lovely to get my pencils out and do a bit of drawing again, though mostly it reminds me how out of practice I am and how little time I have. Ah well, these days of tiny babyhood are fleeting and, before I know it I’ll have too much time on my hands and wishing my children wanted to spend time with me.

Talking trash – my guilty pleasure

I have a guilty secret to confess. I have a bit of an addiction to trashy novels, films and television. Not quite as bad as it could be – I find EastEnders, Hollyoaks and the like just too too depressing – but certainly nothing educational like The Man chooses to watch (not sure I could include his superhero film fetish in the ‘educational’ category, mind, no matter how much he insists it teaches inherent moral truths…).

If I’m kicking back with a book then chances are I’ll pick something from the Chick Lit genre – Katie Fford is a particular favourite – if it’s TV then something along the family comedy drama lines – Gilmore Girls and Gavin & Stacey have both been watched through more than once – and when it comes to films then it’s either Rom Coms or musicals.

Please don’t see this as a reflection on my intelligence. Occasionally I pick up some of the classics – 19thC female authors usually, although I like Hardy also – but mostly what I’m looking for is total escapism. I find it hard to turn y brain off and, whilst I’m sure that soething like meditation would help, I prefer to numb the outside world with the cultural equivalent of bubble gum – tasty, but no substance. Have you got a guilty pleasure?

The kindness of neighbours

So I may or may not have mentioned we have a slight washing machine failure Chez Moi at the moment.  After sending home a load or two with my blessed Mater (can you hear angels sing when I mention her name? I swear I can) I was still stuck with more stinky clothes than I could shake a stick at.

Luckily, via the loudspeaker platform of Facebook and this blog, a few of my friends and neighbours may have become aware of my predicament and very kindly offered up their machines for my washing pleasure.  Grateful as I was to throw myself on their mercy and make use of their various machines, I felt reluctant to take advantage more than once.  I’ve been carefully rationing myself, washing only the most essential items, but now I’ve used up three of my four offers and it’s time to locate an alternative option.

Why is it so much harder to accept favours than offer them? I would go out of my way to help anyone I could, but it’s awkward to accept help and almost impossible to ask for it.  I go out of my way to be grateful and probably end up crawling and prostrating myself in an embarrassing display of indebtedness.  I hate it. It is probably almost preferable to offer someone a kidney than to accept the use of someone else’s washing machine.

I just hope The Man’s manly engineering-y phonecall to John Lewis today did the trick.  I neeeeeed that damn machine fixed before I end up offering my kidney to somebody as a thank you present.

Argh!

Washing machine still dead. Three year old still hyperactive. Baby still cluster feeding. All this and a christening to organise. Who has time to blog?

Oh yes. Me. But I’m not sure this counts. Verdict?

A bad, bad thing

So this weekend we’ve been suffering.  On Friday one of the worst household tragedies that can happen to a family, happened to us. On Friday our washing machine ceased to function.  This is bad. This is very bad. I have a husband who runs and cycles. We work on our allotment. The Boy has experienced a slight backtracking of his potty-trainedness and The Girl is not just the world’s biggest vomiter, but she’s in cloth nappies.

1434396337220The washing machine died with four loads of muddy, sweaty, painty, pee-smelling clothes and a bucket full of shitty nappies all in need of washing.

I rang Bosch, but apparently two and half years is outside the realms of the ‘sales and goods act’ term of ‘reasonable time’. I rang John Lewis who, bless them, lived up to their rep of excellent customer service (Thanks Nick – you were a sweetie) and offered to make a contribution towards repair or replacement even though it was outside the two-year period of their built-in warrantee.

Currently I’m awaiting a call-back from a local domestic appliances repair firm in the hopes they’ll be somewhat less expensive than the sky-high prices charged by Bosch’s own engineers.

In the meantime I am relying on the kindness of friends and neighbours and, probably, the Mater when she does her Angel of Mercy routine again tomorrow. I would have used the laundrette, but the only one in town was closed down last year and the next nearest that I know of is a 25 minute drive away. Totally not doing that with two kids unless I absolutely have to.

So, if you get the chance, send up a prayer to the appliance Gods for us. I have maybe two more days’ grace, then I’m going to have to strap on the rubber gloves and get to handwashing our smalls. Yay.

The day of many washes

So a lot has been said on here about The Boy. From his taste in music to his robust personality traits, in just a week and a half I have covered many aspects of his little life, but I haven’t said much about my girl.

Well, today she made rather an impact on my life so it leaves me with very little choice other than to do this blog post about her.  She’s very small still, not even three months old yet, so she doesn’t do much other than utilise her digestive system, gurgle a bit and sleep. Oh – and she has dimples. Truly gorgeous dimples which she uses to great effect, especially when charming her daddy.

Anyway, to get back to her digestive system… She got the day off to a flying start by vomiting copiously over me, herself, the sofa and her big brother about 5 minutes before we needed to leave for preschool.  Putting aside the logistical difficulties of getting all three of us cleaned up in five minutes, I also had The Boy’s hysterics to deal with “Ugh I got her sick on me Mummy! Wipe it off! Ugh! Yuck. Sick!” etc. Bloody drama llama.

As if spectacular digestive pyrotechnics weren’t enough for one day she decided to conjure an impressive poo-tastrophe whilst we were out and about post-preschool, enjoying the outdoor pleasures our little town affords us.  Naturally I had just changed her nappy, thus using up the only clean one I had with us and, also naturally, the one I’d changed her into was the spare ’emergency’ nappy I keep in my bag which doesn’t fit as well as the others (for the record I should point out we use cloth nappies) so as she was lying on her side feeding the epic poonami flowed freely out of the nappy, all over her clothes and all over the blanket she was lying on, spread even further by her distressed kicking about in it.

20150326_134531Bleurgh. Now both kids are in bed I have finally had a chance to deal with the sicky, pooey fallout and the washing machine is running full blast.  I’m kind of glad we use cloth nappies, poo incidents like this hold far less fear when you deal with washing poo out of fabric every day.  It’s more stressful when out of control, however.

Sorry if today’s post wasn’t funny or particularly interesting.  I’m rather tired and funny is harder when you’re still picking poo out of your fingernails.

Rules are made to be broken. Right?

So last week I famously (famous in my own head, anyway) posted about how I’d banned TV for The Boy during the week.  Today I take it all back as we sit, slumped, on the sofa binge watching “Puff and Wock” – or Puffin Rock to you and I.

Last night was a bitch of a night.  The girl, despite being only two months old, slept soundly, but The Boy was yoyo-ing between his bed and ours, whingeing, wriggling, crying and chatting.  Eventually, after 10+ wake ups we found a solution in Calpol and a ‘warm water bottle, not a hot water bottle, just a warm water bottle my Mummy’ (he knows what he wants, this Boy of mine) but the damage was done. We’re all shattered today. Except the baby who is napping happily between my bosoms as I type.

If I had thought about sleep before the baby arrived – and believe me, after my experiences with The Boy as a newborn, I was trying very hard not to think about it – I would never have imagined that it would still be my Boy causing all the wake ups whilst the newborn slept through, or at the worst woke once in the night, from only 8 days old!

In fact, far from imagining it, I wouldn’t even have believed it possible.  I thought other mums who said this were either lying through their smug teeth or kindly trying to reassure me that it wouldn’t go on forever, but it was nearly a year before he slept through and, once it happened, didn’t happen again for over a month. Tease!

Anyway.  The Girl sleeps, The Boy doesn’t and today we snuggle on the sofa, although I suspect a run to Waitrose might be in order later to stock up on chocolate. How else is a mum to self-medicate?

PS – how come those dozy puffin bastards get to sleep and we don’t? Everything is making me grumpy today.

Why weekends suddenly suck

It’s a funny old thing, because it’s still hardwired into my psyche that the weekends are the best part of the week, but ever since having children weekends actually kind of suck.

I spend all week looking forward to seeing my lovely husband, getting time to myself, seeing friends, but it very rarely works out that way. For starters there’s a lot of pressure that everyone has to enjoy themselves and we have to make the most of it, which is never a good place to start and seems to aggravate The Man from the get go and if anything is going to put a black cloud over a family it’s a patriarch with a face like a smacked arse.

Then there’s all the extra meals. For some reason I can’t get away with the scratch meals The Boy and I usually partake of during the week. In fact, when he has lunch at preschool I have been known to have the very nutritious option of a bowl of cereal for lunch – ho hum.  Added to this is the expectation of a big weekend breakfast of some kind, a Sunday roast and – if we have friends to stay – baking, puddings, a ‘special’ main course and, without the luxury of a dishwasher, endless piles and piles of washing up.

Often the weekend entails a trip to the allotment (with the ensuing three lots of muddy clothes) visits to friends or family (with fours lots of smart clothes which indubitably get smeared with food, sick or some other substance) and the washload seems to triple.

Just the thought of it makes me want to bang my head off the kitchen table in depression. Aren’t weekends supposed to be leisurely lunches round a scrubbed oak table, drinks in a sunny pub garden, cheery hikes over the verdant countryside with no whingeing toddler or sulky husband… ?  Occasionally we hit paydirt – just see my post from last bank holiday Monday which only prolongs the agony because you look back and think “it is  possible”, but let’s face it, it’s the exception not the rule.

Anyway, enough whining now. I have a washload to do, a three year old to lever back into bed (for the fourteenth time), a baby to feed and a husband to entertain.