Tips for an awesome Vacation at Walt Disney World!

So we just went on holiday – to DISNEY WORLD, FLORIDA! My mind = blown. It was awesome!! So, I figured I’d compile a list of some things we found handy & some other things you simply MUST DO when you’re there! (Nb. Some of these apply to folks who have young children (because I have young children!) Some are just child-free, friendly advice!)

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1: Don’t have any pre-conceived ideas.

Let’s just get this out of the way now; young children? Disney World? It will be harder than you think. How hard do you think it will be?

Ha!

Triple it.

Now I’m not saying it won’t be the best holiday of your whole entire lives, that it won’t surpass all your expectations & be absolutely magical – because IT WILL. But I’m just saying; prepare yourselves.

You know how cranky your child gets when they’re overtired at home?? OK, well add to that the heat. And the fact that they’ve been walking for hours. And probably queuing for rides. And are confused by the time difference. And don’t understand how, when it rains, it RAINS.

Like I said – triple it.

2. Nap time.

Seriously. Those kids are going to NEED naps. Even if they haven’t napped in 2 years, they’re going to want to nap on holiday. And you’re going to want them to. Everyone will want them to. And it will be so worth it. Break up your day – spend the morning in Animal Kingdom, go MAKE them have an afternoon nap, go back out to Magic Kingdom in the evening & watch the Fireworks – believe me, it will make for a much more enjoyable & fulfilling holiday for all involved.

2. Meet Mickey Mouse

I’m talking about a specific Mickey here.

Yes, they’re all great – heck, they’re a life-sized Mickey Mouse!

But the one I’m talking about is at Magic Kingdom doing Meet & Greets in the Main Street Theatre.

Do it; just do it!

It will surpass all of your expectations when you see your little ones faces light up in sheer joy & adoration as their childhood ‘idol’ starts talking & interacting with them. Because he can TALK! His mouth moves & he blinks & everything!

It. Is. Awesome.

HE HAS AN ANIMATRONIC HEAD!

*cough* Sorry, what I mean to say (as my husband was told by a lovely Disney Worker when he enquired about whether there was a talking Minnie) is that “Mickey is the only one who has learned to talk”.

It is truly fantastic.

One of, if not THE, absolute highlight of our trip. Magical.

Look at Babu’s face =’) ❤

mickey

3. Follow your parental instincts.

Some of the rides your child is tall enough to go on, you will NOT want them to go on. You know your child best. Noah, for instance, has night terrors, is scared of the dark, monsters, ghosts & anything remotely creepy – but he is tall enough to go on the Hollywood Tower of Terror in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Uh huh. No way. How easy do you think it would be to get him on a ride after that? The word TERROR is in the TITLE! Now, that’s not to say you can’t go on. Have at it. Child swap (we’ll cover this later.) But think carefully about what your child can cope with – you know them best. My parents went on & witnessed an awful experience where a little girl cried in fear for the entire ride. Awful.

tower of terror

4. Take advantage of the child swap system.

This is brilliant!

If you have children too small to go on a ride but you yourself want to go on it, tell the ride worker that you wish to do a “child swap” & they will give a ticket to the person (or people) waiting with the children which they can then use when you exit the ride. Though be warned, you will have to entertain them while you wait……….

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The ticket is valid for a few extra days too, so you don’t have to use it there & then, & it is normally valid for up to 3 people. It also enables the child waitees to go through the Fast Pass queue instead of the standard line. This brings me on to the Fast Pass+ system.

5. Fast Pass+

60 days before your trip begins, you can go on line at https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/plan/my-disney-experience/fastpass-plus/ and start booking your Fast Passes. Each person is entitled to 3. (Once you are there and have used your 3, you can then head on over to a kiosk situated in all the Disney Parks & book a fourth (for that day) & so on.) What we did (sneaky sneaky) is get a “Child Swap” Pass for the children-waiting folks hanging with the baby, head on through the Fast Pass queue with our Fast Passes & the kiddos big enough to go on, & then when we emerged the waitees would use there Fast Passes & the “Child Swap” pass to go back on, taking the children on with them again. Hey presto! The boys got to ride twice! Genius!

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6. Prepare for rain.

Since visiting Florida I have discovered something – English rain is not real rain. Real rain is Florida rain. It will appear out of nowhere, drench you in seconds, & then clear up faster than you can blink (or hang around for a while – weather can be unpredictable like that.) Rain Macs/Ponchos are a must (though beware, those things can RIP!), as are umbrellas (though don’t put them up when it’s thunder & lightening – yikes!) & pushchair (stroller) rain covers. We were caught out a few times. The pushchair was caught out once. It wasn’t pretty.

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7. Meet characters.

This relates back to Mickey, but really, take time to meet the characters.Yes, queuing is boring. Yes, it’s solely for your children. But believe me, out of everything, they remember those character meets the best of all. Get them an autograph book & have Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Jake, Sophia – all of them – have them sign them! They’ll treasure them forever; & you’ll treasure the memories. Seriously, these meets were the things I enjoyed the most. The boys loved them & so did I; beautiful.

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jake

goofy

minnie

8. Take in your own water.

I can’t really elaborate more on this except to say, tap water in Florida is…well…gross. It’s never properly cold & (I think) has a weird taste and/or smell. You need to head to the supermarket (Walmart, Publix), buy a case of lots of individual bottles of water & stick them in your fridge. Then on the morning you’re due to head off, pack them into a little backpack & off you go! I’d probably suggest two bottles each (you’ll drink some things in the parks anyway & you don’t want to be lugging too much about! But, there was one day where we were so hot & desperate for a drink having devoured our bottled water that we had to use some water fountains. YACK! Don’t get caught out!)

9. Budget your spending money by day.

This is probably a given, but it will really help you out (especially if you’re vacationing on a budget!) We even gave the boys an allowance each morning before we headed out! It’ll save time, arguments & take any monetary pressure away from your trip! We’d also budget any food money for each day (whether we were eating out or eating in the Villa.) e.g. $20 adult spending, $10 child spending, $100 food for the family. Anything not spent on one day, would carry over to the next. Easy squeezy!

10. Stay close to the parks.

We didn’t do this. I mean, we weren’t far out but the advertised “15 minute drive” from the Villa every day ended up being over 40 minutes due to traffic problems etc. (I’ve never seen so many accidents!) So, stay close. International Drive has some great places & my parents have stayed there before, as well as my sister, & they loved it. If you can afford it, actually stay ON one of the parks! That’s one of our (very very far into the future) future dreams =D Don’t get me wrong, the Villa had its upsides – it had its own pool, it was quiet & relaxing, we had Wifi, & Cable, a fridge/freezer (American sized – yeah baby!), a dishwasher, a washer, a dryer, a Games room, individual bedrooms – it was truly lovely! & it might be just the thing for your family!  But the time we would have saved had we stayed closer doesn’t bare thinking about…

holiday-budget

11. Universal Studios & Islands of Adventure & Seaworld

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If you can, just go. I guarantee it’s worth it! Especially if you love Harry Potter like some people I know…

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Pooily (Yes, I’m treating that as a real word) the newer section in Universal wasn’t open when we went, but it will be for you *scowls* We at least got to see a few sneaky glimpses…

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the dragon

 

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So close, yet so far… anyway, *cough* May be getting slightly off track here…

There’s so much I can say about Universal Studios & Islands of Adventure that it would take a whole new Blog Post to cover it, from Curious George Town,

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to Springfield,

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to the new Transformers 3D ride,

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to Seuss Landing (my boys came away OBSESSED with Dr Seuss).

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It really is just awesome – all of it! I particularly recommend the children’s sections – I didn’t even Mention Fievel’s Playland where everything is oversized to make you feel like a mouse! It is all wonderful! (Incidentally, bare in mind that their Child swap system is better than Disney’s (you can take the children through to the ride with you & there’s a “Child Swap Room”)..but their Fast Pass system is not. Really)

SeaWorld is fun – the kids section is great! And Manta is awesome (if slightly terrifying for folks afraid of heights…)

(I’m not going to get into a whole animal cruelty/abuse debate as that isn’t what this Blog Post is about, however I will say that it is clear in relation to the Killer Whales that things need to change.)

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I definitely recommend The Clyde & Seamore Show – both day & night – (HILARIOUS), The Dolphin “Blue Horizons” Show, sitting at the front right (or left) of the “A’lure, Call of the Ocean” Show (you’ll thank me later), viewing the Beluga Whales & feeding the dolphins! Hint – in the shows featuring animals, you might not want to sit at the front…when it says “Splash Zone” it means “SOAK ZONE!” We super enjoyed it – especially at night!

Which reminds me – as great as the parks are throughout the day, at night that is when they look truly MAGICAL – believe me – there’s just something different about them – the entire feel & atmosphere – I just loved them all at night!

I think I enjoyed Universal/Islands of Adventure a bit more than I did Disney (don’t tell the kids that…) with Harry Potter being the pinnacle for me (obviously!) but it is all fantastic!  Babu in particular is still Disney World obsessed with Magic Kingdom being the highlight – Mickey Mouse, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, the section dedicated to Beauty & the Beast, Cinderella’s Castle (which he’s still convinced Mickey lives in), Goofy’s Barnstormer, Dumbo, Peter Pan’s Flight, the shows, Tomorrowland, the Journey of the Little Mermaid &, of course, the characters!

There’s still so much I haven’t mentioned but my main piece of advice I have saved until last & it is this;

12. Enjoy it!

Truly. There are so many things to see & do that you can feel rushed & hustled & bustled by the crowds & meeting your Fast Pass Plus deadlines, but really, the only thing to do is to have a good time! Don’t complain about the queues, don’t hurry by to the next place you need to be without looking around you – imagine what you could miss! – don’t get stressed out by the kids whining – just think where you are! Just imagine the hundred – thousands – of people dying to be in your shoes! & you’re there! Love every second! Take the time to take photos – & lots of them! Cherish the memories you’re making!

Have FUN!

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Mum Problems Part 2…

Continued…

Mum Problem #5

Eating.

baby food

Now this covers a whole range of topics, from putting on weight because their treats just look (& inevitably taste) so damn delicious, to never being able to eat a proper meal as all you have time to do is snack, to your snacks never being healthy ones because all you crave is a sugar high to get you through the rest of the day, to picking at their leftovers because you’ve spent the day not eating properly & now you’re STARVING, to learning how to eat like a monkey with your toes when you’re breastfeeding & I have no free hands (not really…), to getting to your dinner at goodness knows what time & realising you’re not hungry anymore. *sigh* I miss food…

Mum Problem #6

Television.

tv kids

You’re TV time is restricted until after their bedtime because, despite having paid for the TV, having set up the TV, & bought everything they watch on the TV, they consider it their property. Even the old “let’s take it in turns to watch something” still somehow forgets to include you.

Mum Problem #7

Everything is a mission.

You can never just go out. You have to have a plan. All parties must stick to the plan. If one person veers away from the plan, you must forfeit the plan & formulate a new plan. Formulating a new plan can take a long time.

You must prepare a bag – sometimes two – of all the things you will need, may need & think you need for the day. You will inevitably forget something important, e.g. your mind.

Mum Problem #8

Meals are a major pain in the badoingedie.

choice foods

If you have one child, they won’t like what you’re giving them. If you have two children, one will like what you’ve made, the other will think it’s Satan’s poop. They will throw it, refuse to eat it, tell you they hate it (even though they ate it last week & declared it was the “bestest ever”). You will beg. You will plead. You will hope & pray. You will threaten them with time out. You will put them in time out. You will give them a choice. They will choose the wrong choice. You will end up eating their dinner (see Mum Problem #5 for details…)

To be continued…

The Worst Night

Has your child ever woken you up early in the morning? There’s nothing worse right? Wrong.

We thought there wasn’t. We thought at 2am this morning that nothing could be worse than Babu running about his cot, wide eyed and alert with tooth or earache or a virus (we’re still not sure which). Until about 5am when we tried to put him back to bed.

See, Babu hasn’t mastered going down stairs – mainly because we don’t let him try – and so we’d grabbed him some juice and snack provisions, closed the bedroom door to stop him escaping, and got snugly under the covers to keep warm.

Then it came time for a ‘nap’. At 5am. Except we couldn’t put him for a nap. We couldn’t even take him to his room. Because our bedroom door wouldn’t open. That’s right folks, the handle had failed. And we were trapped. We were trapped with an hysterical Calpol’d up 19month old, no key (in case one of us became brave enough to clamber out of the window), an almost 3 year old likely to wake at any moment in the room next door, and nothing to prise our door open with.

At this point I have to admit that I then became slightly hysterical, which caused Babu to become slightly psychotic. He kicked us, he screamed, he sobbed, he smacked at his reflection in the mirror.

I wasn’t much better. I snapped at Ash, I snapped at Babu, I ran over different scenarios in my head like Noah waking, trying to get him to feed us the front door key under the door, and being too scared to. We’d have to call our landlord and get her to come and free us (thank God for pyjamas), or bang on the window, screaming for help, all the while thinking, “not again”.

What I probably should have mentioned is that this isn’t the first time we’ve been locked in a bedroom. In fact, it’s not even the second. It’s the third.

The first was our wedding night.

We had stayed in a hotel the night before we were due to go to the airport to fly out on our honeymoon. The suite was beautiful; a living/dining room with an adjoining bedroom and en suite. We’d gone into the bedroom to get changed and I’d closed the door. We ended up needing to get back into the living room to get our suitcases. I’d tried to open the door but couldn’t. Ash just thought I was being weak. He’d tried. It still wouldn’t open. No problem – we’ll just call Reception and get them to let us out. Ten minutes later, we were still waiting. Ash called back and it turned out we’d put the ‘Do Not Disturb’ on the living room door and they couldn’t get in (why they hadn’t called and told us that, I still have no idea.) And so a plan was hatched; the guy from reception would come around to the bedroom window, and give us a knife to try open the door with. Yes, that’s what I need at midnight on my wedding night – a strange man at my window wielding a knife. Somehow, luckily, Ash managed to open it in the end before Stabby arrived. We didn’t close the door again.

The second incident was when we moved into the property we’re currently living in. On the first day. We thought it strange – our moving buddies and I – that Ash had been gone so long, running some errand or other, but we had so much to do, we just got on with it. I also thought it strange that a consistent banging sound kept reaching my ears. After a while – I don’t know, half an hour – I headed upstairs for something. And the banging suddenly made sense. Ash had closed the door in one of the boys bedrooms, and for some reason, it wouldn’t open back up. And he’d been stuck in there all that time. Whoops. We don’t close that door when we’re inside the room now either.

In the end this morning, tweezers were our saviour. Ash bent them apart, slotted them down the side of the door, and popped it open. Not before he used it to unscrew the door handle to see if we could figure something out that way first.

And so today, we’re very tired. Noah was oblivious to all of this happening. I even ran in to his room to check on him straight afterwards and he was still dead to the world. It’s now 14.15pm and Babu is having his second nap.

Ash, his first. Noah’s just watching ‘Curious George’, completely unaware.

I think I need to lay down.

“I am not an angel [..] and I will not be one till I die: I will be myself.” Jane Eyre

It seems as though Noah has spent the last half hour building a tower in the middle of the living room floor using the cushions from the sofa. All of them.

I wonder whether, if I crawled under it, I could pass off as being ‘playful mummy’ and not simply ‘nearly unconscious mummy’?

I wonder whether, if I go to sleep on the sofa, he’ll play nicely and watch Little Einstein’s or in fact power bomb on top of me and scream about unwanted episodes in my ear? Or just plain wreck my house?

I wonder if Babu will wake up from his nap as soon as I close my eyes?

I wonder if thinking all of these things makes me a bad mother, or whether in fact every mother fights these thoughts, and gets to the dreaded 3pm slot and wonders whether she’s going to make it til bed time?

So far today, I’ve washed and dried up – twice. The first time being the stuff I couldn’t be bothered doing last night. The second lot from breakfast and lunch. As soon as I woke, I came downstairs, put Babu up for his first nap and did an hour of Zumba on the Wii followed by 15 minutes of my usual half hour of morning sit ups (I’ll do the rest later.) I’ve done two loads of washing and drying. I’ve tidied the living room numerous times. I’ve read a little, drawn a little, painted a little, wrestled a lot. Done some dancing, singing; played hide and seek. I’ve de-wedgied Noah and wiped Babu’s pooey butt. I’ve broken up fights, dealt with timeouts, cooked, scrubbed, tickled, vacuumed, eaten a banana and, later, a ham salad.

I am very satisfied.

I am very flawed.

I am very tired.

I wonder if Noah fancies a nap?

The Terrible Twos – should anyone label a child?

So today I was thinking on that phrase; “The Terrible Twos”.

Old people say it a lot. Parents say it a lot. I hope I don’t become a person who says it a lot.

“Oh, how old is he?” says the little old lady at the supermarket checkout.
“Two,” I say, trying to hold on to a rolling pushchair and said escapee two year old.
“Ah,” she chuckles, following it up with a knowing smile, “the ‘Terrible Twos'” she says with an ethereal tone that then envelops the whole conversation.
“Mmm,” I groan. Branded a ‘Terrible Two’ again.

It’s such a horrible saying.

The alliteration somehow makes it worse, like it’s masquerading as something nice, appealing and fun, when we all know that’s not the case. It’s so wrong.

Since when did it become OK to label our children something other than something positive?

We live in a society where children are labelled something because of the way they dress, speak, or where they come from. My child is two, nearly three, and already, before he’s even able to articulate and form his own opinions succinctly, before he’s capable of defending himself, before he has a full understanding of who he’s going to be and what he wants to do with his life, he’s already been labelled. A ‘Terrible Two’.

What’s so terrible about being two anyway? So what if my boy has a tantrum because he wants to watch Curious George but the Disney Junior Channel isn ‘t playing it just yet. So what if he gets to ask for sweets, unselfconsciously, with passion and intensity. So what if he pee’s on my living room floor and screams and cries as though it’s him who’s been done a great disservice.

He’s learning how to express himself, exploring the depths and lengths to his character. He’s showing his strengths and his weaknesses – as a parent, it’s my job to help him express them in the right way.

Noah is at an age where his body is trying to cope with a huge surge of testosterone. He’s two, and his little body’s having to cope with something a teenager deals with by sleeping all day and shouting at their parents (See; teenagers are labelled too.)

As you can probably tell, it’s a thing that really irritates me.

“Look at that little boy on the fresh produce aisle screaming at his mum – what a brat.”

Brat, naughty, stupid, terrible – it’s all the same.

And that’s another thing; why do boys seem to be judged more? Maybe it’s because I’m a mum of two boys, but I haven’t really witnessed a lot of labelling when it comes to girls – ‘spoiled’ perhaps? It could be a gross generalisation, but  it seems as though boys have this worse (I’m speaking of younger children now.) And I’m not just talking about people targeting my boys. I’ve done it. I’ve looked at a tantruming kid and thought ‘little brat.’ I have. I think if we’re all completely honest, everyone has.

But does that make it OK?

My goal? Not to label my children negatively. Ever.

‘D’ is for Discovery!

(FYI: This one’s going to have a lot of pictures. Not that I’m apologising. My boys are cute.)

Questions are a beautiful thing. Whenever I think of someone asking a question I always think of that old clichéd phrase ‘no question is a stupid question.’ This has always been our mantra with the boys – they can ask us whatever they want, whenever they want.

My husband, Ash, is an avid questioner.

Whether meeting someone for the first time, filling in awkward silences, or having a political debate, a question is always on the tip of his tongue. It’s a running joke with friends, church folk, family, and work colleagues; he lurves a good question.

This week we found out that someone else enjoys a good question or two as well …

Last week Ash, the boys and I were away in Derbyshire on something called a ‘Discovery Break’, volunteering for Ash’s work, Christians Against Poverty (CAP) in order to serve and bless their clients. (Check out their website; it’s inspiring, agenda-less, (com)passion-filled work, all done on the sole basis of helping individuals and families become free from the bondage of debt. www.capuk.org)

Whilst there we had a wonderful time, the boys especially – NOAH especially. He adored it.

Now, a lot of the time (for the boys and I) was spent in the creche. And I don’t care what anyone says, creche’s are horrible (generally speaking). Children cry and scream and snot and yell; the adults come pretty close. Let’s face it, everyone who is in the creche wants to get back out of it – pronto!

Still, it wasn’t so bad. Noah adopted a phone that he wanted to bring home with him and Babu investigated various ways in which to stop yourself choking on a pen lid. Results still to be determined.

Anyway, when we weren’t in the creche we went exploring. We found some cows and sheep in nearby fields and investigated the lake (more of a pond if you ask me, but to-may-to, to-ma-to.) I felt kind of bad after we’d stood watching a particularly rotund sheep for a few minutes, noticed it’s tummy wobbling and professed ‘Look boys, that’s a mummy sheep; she’s got a baby in her tummy!’ only for Ash to point out a few seconds later that for a lady sheep it had exceptionally large testicles. The tummy movement must have been gas. Whoops. Still, you’re thinking, the cows must have been better? Well, not really. No sooner had we pottered over to say hello, the cow nearest to us turned it’s back and did a giant whizz right in front of us. Ash and I burst out laughing as Noah shouted ‘Look, look, Bow doing a wee wee!’ watched until it had stopped and continued, ‘It finished! Well done Bow!’ My boy’s an encourager. Great quality.

And as I mentioned before, he’s developing another great quality too.

At the beginning of our drive there (in order to use the magical power of a cookie to keep the boys quiet) we stopped at Starbucks (grabbing a coffee to keep us happy too). While I popped out to grab the necessities, Ash decided to speak to the boys about our ‘holiday’. Noah instantly asked, ‘Daddy, what is holiday?’ Ash, stunned, explained that we were going to Derbyshire. ‘Daddy, what is Derbyshire?’ This was followed by a Google search of images on Ash’s iPad and a mini presentation of what Derbyshire looks like. Noah’s response? ‘Wow!’

And it didn’t stop there. Over the next few days we were met with many questions. Here’s just a random selection:

‘Mummy, daddy, what is mummy and daddy?’

‘What is baby, mummy?’

‘What making babies, mummy?’

‘What is night, daddy?’

‘What is dark, daddy?’

‘What bed time, mummy?’

‘Mummy, daddy, what is made?’

‘Daddy, what is animals?

It’s incredibly cute. And a little unnerving. It’s like he’s a teenager already; without the acne. Since when is ‘what is making babies?’ a normal question for a two year old to ask?

At least the animal question made sense (there was a Tropical Experience evening.) Noah used to have an intense fear of all animals. It was extremely strange given that he’d never had a bad experience with one. On this break we realised that this is no longer the case. In fact, entirely the opposite. He is now obsessed with animals. He cried if he didn’t get to touch one. He stayed up until well past 9pm in order to hold a parrot. It was very sweet. He stroked a spider, hugged a baby python, tickled a turtle and held the parrot, tootled over to get his blanket, climbed into his pushchair, stuck his thumb in his mouth and went to sleep.

Since when were children so brave? I remember being terrified of a lot of things when I was younger. Most powerfully of heights. I used to walk around the shopping mall with my back pressed against the shop windows in order for me not to be anywhere near the banister and fall to my screamy, splatty death.

Noah it seems however, has no fear of this either. We found this out when visiting a theme park whilst away. Roller-coasters, Cable cars, Ferris Wheels – no fear. I on the other hand? Well, let’s just say I’m not quite over it.

Still, it’s a comfort to know my little men aren’t afraid of anything, least of all questioning the world around them. I just hope they don’t turn into stuntmen or dare devils. I couldn’t take the stress. Journalist I could handle. Just about.

“Mummy, what is blog?”

The Importance of Being Selfish

Elmo is a truly amazing feat of creativity.

It has single-handedly taught Noah that washing his blanket (a thing that more often than not smells like a hamster cage, dirt, sweat and baby spit simultaneously) is a good thing.

There’s a scene in the movie, ‘Elmo in Grouchland’, whereupon Elmo goes to a launderette and washes his blanket and all the other little monsters begin to sing a song and tap out a beat with their, well I would say hands, but paws is a better description. Now, I’m not sure if Noah thinks everyone will start singing and dancing when we turn the washing machine on, but he has learnt to wash his blanket. He even requested we wash Babu’s too.

(Before I go any further, I should point out that Babu does indeed own a blanket of his very own. This isn’t so much because he wants one but because we’re trying to figure out a way to stop him stealing Noah’s. And so we thought getting him one of his own would help. This didn’t exactly work out as we’d thought it would. We didn’t really factor in the thought that the whole point Babu steals the blanket isn’t because he actually wants it to hold and snuggle and feel close to his big brother but rather because he wants to steal Noah’s and watch him cry. Surely not? you’re thinking. But yes. He takes the blanket, Noah cries, Babu’s runs off and laughs. You have never seen such joy on a child’s face.)

But Elmo isn’t all good. Oh no. It has also taught my previously gentle, giving, willing-to-share-with-anybody boy that dreaded word and attitude which we didn’t expect him to gain until he was at least fifteen, covered in spots and exploring things a mother fears knowing about – “MINE!”

If you haven’t seen the film ‘Elmo in Grouchland’ I encourage you to. Not only is Elmo a little sweetie, but Huxley (the bad guy) is played by Mandy Patinkin (most easily recognised for his character Inigo Montoya in ‘The Princess Bride’; one of my all time favourite movies) and does a fine job of combining sheer disgusting cruelty with complete and utter hilarity. It’s something akin to finding out Joey Tribbiana stole Hugsey (his bed time penguin pal) from a child. Only creepier and … well, creepier.

Anyway, Noah has never been one to hoard his toys. Up until a week ago, if someone would have asked us to describe him we’d have said he’s an uncommonly kind, loving, funny, generous little boy, who gives out love. Now we have to say, he’s an uncommonly kind, loving, funny, generous little boy, who gives out love but will gnaw your arm off if you touch his blanket. Or his ‘Little Einstein’s DVD. Or pretty much anything he considers to be his.

 

And so I would like to thank my big sister – super aunt extraordinaire – for this truly well-thought out gift of a DVD. I am left in no doubt as to your intentions. Thank you for considering all the ramifications and still giving him to them. Thank you for the lessons of ‘It’s mine’, sarcastic cruelty and intense bullying that it has taught Noah, and I’m sure, will be passed on to Babu in due course. However just so you know, when you next come over, if he steals your chocolate and screams ‘It’s mine’ in your face, don’t come crying to me as I will remind you that you that you did this.

YOU DID THIS!

(**Note: Some hyperbolic and over-exaggerated language and phrasing used for dramatic effect. I still love you sis and so do the boys.)

Without Motive

Loving your kids on purpose. Loving your kids without an agenda. Pretty obvious stuff??

My boys are amazing. I love them no matter what (a truly amazing feat at times.) Even when they’re being the naughtiest they can be, I still want to kiss and cuddle them. Well, most of the time. (Hey, I’m no saint.)

Babu hates getting dressed. He hates having his nappy changed. He hates being fussed with all together. To be completely honest, as much as he hates getting dressed, I’m pretty sure I probably hate dressing him more. He kicks, he screams, he wriggles, and worst of all, the most annoying, irritating, makes-me-want-to-scream-and-pull-my-own-hair-out thing he does, is roll over. You’ll be half way through putting his nappy on, and he’ll twist and twist and twist until he’s free. Maybe it doesn’t seem like such a big deal, but when poo’s flying everywhere, well, it really is.

I’ve had to start putting my feet on his tummy in order to tickle him with my toes to get him to stay still while I’m trying to fasten his nappy; something I’m sure will traumatise him later in life – my feet are far from being the most attractive thing about my person.

This morning, I had his clothes ready, I had his nappy ready. I was ready.
He was happily toddling about, chewing a remote control, as merry as can be.

 

I’ve taken to chasing him and ‘playing’ in order to trap him into letting me change him. If I outright tell him he’s about to get dressed, I get this face:

And then he steals the nappy.

This morning, I was filled with a certain amount of guilt as I plotted to get him dressed. I went to chase him and suddenly thought “what if I didn’t do the normal? What if I left him in his wet nappy a little longer and just played with him?”

The result was simply lovely. He giggled, he gave kisses, he jumped on me, I threw him in the air, I tickled him until he was laughing uncontrollably (Noah all the while riding on my back like I was a horse, one of his new favourite past times.)

Without an agenda, Babu was able to play unworried and free, knowing that his mummy’s only motive was to spend time with him and make him laugh.

So, my goal today? I’m going to love my kids on purpose. Simply to make them laugh. Simply to make them feel overwhelmingly loved.

Now, if I can do that while changing Babu’s nappy, I’ve cracked it.

**Note: I normally play with my children just for the heck of it. This is simply an example of when I sometimes don’t. No judgies.

“Very very sneaky, Sir …”

Today I ate a sneaky scone. By that I mean, I hid in the alcove in our kitchen and scoffed it while I watched the boys through the living room window playing with their trucks.

Now, I know what you’re thinking; why are you hiding the fact that you’re eating from your children you crazy lunatic? (Delete insults where applicable.)

Well, you’ll have to let me explain.

Today, for my breakfast I had a big bowl of mixed fruit. The boys had similar smaller bowls each, fruit toast, cereal and yoghurt. I prepared my fruit while they were eating theirs. By the time I sat down to eat it however, they’d finished theirs, and we’re ready for seconds, i.e. mine. So after they’d polished off my breakfast, we resumed our normal day, myself getting significantly weaker as the day progressed and not knowing why, forgetting that I hadn’t eaten anything, let alone had a drink. Lunch time was the same. The boys opted for pie, peas, bread and butter (I rolled with it, opting for a jacket potato for myself.) Again, as you can probably guess, the same thing happened. That meant by 4pm I had hardly eaten anything. I tried snacks throughout – raisins, crackers, oranges. This ended when I took Noah to the toilet and came back to find that Babu had climbed up on the sofa and eaten my orange. Later it was my apple. Sad sad day.

(Except for that face – who can resist that face (even if he has got his grubby little hands all over my gorgeous, bright green crispy Granny Smith Apple.))

When you become a parent, at some point you have to come to the inevitable conclusion that, when your children are near, you will never eat a full meal, all to yourself, ever again; not until they’re at least moved out and have their own children. And even then you’ll have to deal with the harsh reality that your grandchildren will nick your dinner too. Ah, so goes the circle of life.

Now that’s OK. I don’t actually mind sharing with my boys. I’ve faced up to the fact that I’ll never eat in peace again (EVER!); I did that a long time ago, right around the time I was breastfeeding and either had to stab one pea at a time with my fork from a plate balanced on the opposite knee to the one my little cherub was resting on, happily suckling away, oblivious to my dilemma, or have Ash feed me mouthfuls from the seat next to me when the kiddies got too big for my plate-baby juggling act.

And so, please do not begrudge me this need for a thing that is my very own, to savour and enjoy (however sneakily) in my kitchen, in my little alcove. It was delicious, they’ll never know, and I was at the time preparing a risotto for their dinner. So no harm done. Except maybe to my waistline.

And anyway, I’m sure you’ve done the same, or at the very least thought about it. And if you haven’t, I suggest that you do. Who knows when you’ll next get to eat?

It IS a big deal!

Ash and I can’t remember what we used to do with our time before we had the boys.

Nowadays, it’s a strict routine. Up – breakfast; 12pm – lunch; 5pm – dinner; 5.45pm – bath; 6.30pm – bed.

Who would have guessed that having children didn’t actual mean that you would instantly qualify for a ‘yummy mummy’ title but instead, that your entire life would begin to revolve around meal times, and as such, your rapidly expanding waistline??

These days, the majority of our conversations go something like this;

-“What do you want for dinner?”
-“I don’t know, you decide.”

-“Toby just did a giant poo – did you see it?
-“No.”
-“Have a look.”
-“Ok.”

-“Are you ok?”
-“Yeh, just a bit tired.”

-“What do you want for lunch?”
-“I don’t know, you decide.”

-“Noah wet himself today.”
-“Oh dear. What’s for dinner?”

You get the general idea …

Food is such a big deal in our house. When we eat is a big factor. If we miss a meal time and feed the boys a little bit later, they’re hysterical. They’re also unlikely to eat their meals later in the day. To them, we are evil food holding monsters. If we’re early with a meal they’re even more hungry than normal. And that’s a lot. This means that snacks are a huge deal too.

We all have weird food habits.

Ash loves yoghurt. He would quite happily sit down to a 500g tub of Greek yoghurt with a few swirls or honey in it and eat it in one sitting. And then do the same later on that day as well.

Babu, in turn, is yoghurt obsessed.

We once went to a friends for lunch and he proceeded to eat his meal and then six – I repeat – SIX yoghurts in a row. And then he wanted more. Which we wouldn’t give him due to fear of vomitage, and, well, the other thing …

Ash will eat bread with anything. Take for example, the risotto we made the other night. A beautiful chicken and butternut squash risotto. Which he ended up eating with bread. Like a sandwich.

The boys have picked up this habit too. God forbid we give them a bowl of Spaghetti Bolognese and forget that oh so important slice of bread and butter.

I love fruit. Any fruit. I will eat and eat and eat and eat. There’s no stopping me. I can eat a punnet of grapes, a bag of Clementine’s and various other fruity goodies without batting an eyelid.

The boys have followed my lead in this area. They have blackberries as their treat. Cherries too. Raspberries, grapes, kiwi, banana; you name it, they eat it. Toby will eat an orange and a tub of blueberries before you can get a look in; Noah, the same.

I’m so glad my fridge isn’t down on the ground.

Their food habits got me thinking about my own.

I can only use certain spoons and forks to eat with. (In our house that is. I’m not some crazy weirdo who carries a set around inside her purse.) Knives, I’m not too fussed about. Unless they don’t match. My knives and forks always have to match – always. Who knows what will happen if they don’t? The food might not taste as good, I could get poisoned – the world may collapse. You don’t know.

This is my dads fault. He’s particular too. Very much so. He’s the guy’s who won’t let you share his bottle of pop (or if he does, wipes it very carefully before he takes another swig) and opens the car windows when it’s below freezing outside because someone sneezed.

Now I’m not saying it’s a bad thing; I happen to like my little peculiarities; if I didn’t, I wouldn’t do them. But I have to be careful. Because today the boys are copying my fruit addiction and Ash’s love for bread. Tomorrow it could be chocolate. The day after that, my (not so) secret love of country music and Ash’s ‘Billy Joel taste’. The day after that, my arachnophobia and Ash’s fear of rodents.

As good old Barbara Streisand sings it, ‘Children will listen’. And watch. And copy. And learn.