My Personal Tribute to George Michael

Dear Georgie Porgie,

I don’t mean that in disrespect, in our family it’s on odd term of endearment, something we used to call my sister. If there is a heaven then you’re there with her now.

It’s been an age since you passed away on Christmas Day. Did you do that on purpose? To slip away on a day when there was so little news coverage? At the end of a year when we had lost so many greats? So that people couldn’t make too much fuss or include your music in the new year fireworks display? Bet you’re having an amazing party with Bowie, Prince and the rest…

Fantastic was the first album I ever purchased. My next door neighbour, who was a few years older than me, had introduced me to your music. I think she played it on one of those plasticy pink casette players that were all the rage in the 1980s. I remember getting a record token for my birthday and heading into Woolworths in my local town, up the escalator to the dimly lit music section to search out your album on casette. I played that tape so many times. I used to adore Club Tropicana and remember going to a tacky sea-side attraction with the same name in Weston-Super-Mare years later, humming the song to myself as I whooshed down slides protruding from giant pineapples. Ah, the 80s.

I remember my mom cleaning at someone’s house and me going along with her in the school holidays. The teenage girl who lived there was a massive fan of yours. This was around the time of Faith. She had posters and a calendar of you on her wall. She obviously fancied you. I was too young to understand ‘fancying’ at that stage. But I loved your music and your sense of style.

You’ve not just been there during the 80s though. You’ve literally been there all my life. Or at least you were… At school I was a heady mix of hormones so more into Take That and East 17 but after school I rediscovered you and also bonded with lots of people over your music. Back then you didn’t tour and I remember making pacts with various people that if you ever did we would go to see you together. We found you attractive. We didn’t care that you were gay, when we looked back at the 80s videos now it was kind of always staring us in the face really – hiding in plain sight if you will.

You were the soundtrack to many a romantic meal. You were the songs that made sense during break ups, make ups and meeting new people. Your lyrics made things make sense.

Eventually I did get to see you in concert. It was a dream imagined. I’m not sure I’ve ever been as excited as I was the first time we came to see you at the NEC Arena in Birmingham. We screamed, we danced, we cried. We felt so fortunate to see you perform and to hear that voice. Oh my god – that voice!

That first concert was with a friend. Unfortunately our friendship didn’t have the same longevity as my relationship with your music, so the next concert I attended was with my husband. He was skeptical but came along for the ride. His skepticism not helped by the fact it was an outdoor concert in the rain with Sophie Ellis-Bextor as the support act. As soon as you came on stage he was blown away by how powerful your voice was. He then came with me to see you perform a delayed Symphonica concert. He would never be the fan that I was, but he could appreciate your talent for a good lyric, sung in a silky voice and the passion you showed on stage.

Sure, there’s been some interesting moments along the way. When I heard that you’d passed my dark sense of humour initially saw me blurt out ‘He hasn’t driven into Snappy Snaps again, has he?‘. But those compromising moments made you, you. You blasted through the bullshit. You weren’t perfect, why should you have to be? Where’s the rule book to say I am a popstar, I shall be holier than thou? But at the same time you were the kindest, most generous person and we never even knew. Sure, we knew Band Aid but helping out in a homeless shelter? Giving money to a student nurse? All of this came out after your death and made a fantastic ‘fuck you’ to a right wing press who wanted to paint you out as a drug taking homosexual.

I’d heard that you were going to have a new album out this year ( I wonder if it will be released post-humously?). When I heard that I kind of hoped that I would get to see you in concert again, but alas that’s not to be. What I would give to hear that voice one last time.

I listen to your songs quite regularly now, I guess you don’t always appreciate what you’ve got until it’s gone and now we wait to find out exactly what it was that took you from us.

 

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All Those 2016 Celebrity Deaths…

I appreciate this post is late. Call me tardy if you want, but 2016 me is still playing catch up with 2017. Or is it the other way around, I’m not sure…

Regardless, what happened in 2016?

A severe case of ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here’ saw us losing some of our greatest and most talented performers.

Granted, people die everyday. Good people who have toiled and worked hard all their life. Who have raised families and spread joy. But nothing brings home the reality of death more so than a celebrity death. The death of an actor you grew up watching. The death of a singer taken too soon. You may not know them in person but they’ve still touched your life in some way. You still feel some sense of grief and injustice, no matter how brief or fleeting.

In terms of celebrity deaths 2016 was, well, ridiculous. At one point I was scared to check Sky News in case someone else had passed away. A case of every time a TV news channel is turned on an angel gets its wings!

It would be all too easy to be all doom and gloom about it. But as I’m all about accentuating the positives, what can we take from the fact that so many famous faces left us in 2016…

Put simply… we are all going to die. Regardless of whether we have fame or fortune; regardless of how healthy we are, or how often we go out running; regardless of age or social class, size or gender. We are all going to die. Eek! You say, I thought this wasn’t going to be all doom and gloom..? Bear with me…

Yes, we are all going to die, and do you know what that means? It means we should live. It means we should live as if today was our last. We should embrace the fun times and worry less about the pile of washing up. We should laugh – often – like, really often. We should tell our friends and family that we love them, hug them that little bit longer. Go for that walk in the park and kick the leaves. Splash in those puddles. Take that trip we’ve been meaning to take. Eat the pudding. Take action towards that thing we want to achieve, you know, that idea you’ve got that you feel a bit silly about, but if it ever came off it would be amazing – just do it! We should kiss passionately. Sing – regardless of whether we can or not. Dance with the same self-consciousness as a toddler (i.e. none). Life isn’t always going to be easy. Life isn’t always going to be fun. But there’s also no guarantees that life is going to be long either. So live it whilst you can… Thank you George, Carrie, David et al for reminding us of that. Hope you’re having the most amazing after-party wherever you are…

 

 

Diary: #mumguilt

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This post was written on Sunday 19th February 2017.

I don’t feel like I’ve been a brilliant mother today. I haven’t been a bad one by any means. But #mumguilt means any day where you don’t emulate Mary Poppins makes you feel a little inadequate.

Elliott and his dad went to their swimming class this morning. They go every Sunday. I used to go to watch but now silly poolside rules means I can only go once a month when it’s my turn on the rota.

I always think I’m going to use the time when Mr H and Elliott are out to chill out. Maybe read a book, drink endless cups of tea, paint my nails. I never do this though. I’m always running around trying to get one step ahead. You would think I would be a whole postal code ahead of myself the amount of tasks I try to tick off the list in the hope of feeling as though I was getting close to completing something, anything. Alas, I always feel as though I’m one step behind – sometimes more.

This morning I made myself another cup of coffee and set to today’s to do list.

  • Reply to messages – I’m awful at replying to texts and Whatsapp messages in my head, so I have to go through once a day to make sure I haven’t missed anything!
  • Sort finances – again doing it daily helps with my sanity!
  • Check emails – I do this daily too to keep on top of things and in the vain hope that some amazing opportunity has pinged into my inbox overnight.
  • Washing – yep, today I have washed mine and Mr H’s clothes, our bedsheets, the steam mop head, Elliott and Mr H’s swimming gear and there’s a set of towels on the go now too.
  • Ironing – just one top this week, thank goodness.
  • Clean microwave – its once a week deep clean.
  • Change bedding.
  • Milestones photos/videos – this is more of an as and when, but I did film a cute video of Elliott at breakfast so I got that uploaded and added to the blog post I’m looking to use it in.
  • Meter readings to Scottish Power – I called them only to discover that they’re going to estimate our bill anyway?!
  • Mop – Anyone else find steam mopping therapeutic?
  • Promote blog post – It was this one in case you’re interested.
  • Plan Elliott’s favourite books blog post
  • Plan week
  • Think about Mother’s Day plans, as well as plans for my birthday and write my birthday list to get Mr H off my back
  • Meal planning
  • Make lunch
  • Make dinner
  • Wash up from lunch
  • Have a shower and cut my Gruffalo toe nails and shave my Gruffalo legs

I didn’t do all of this before Mr H and Elliott got home obviously and I did do other things too, like participating in the #mblogchat, drinking hot chocolate and eating too many Lindt chocolates. One thing I didn’t do much of was playing with Elliott. Sure, there was a brief stint of playing with lego, before I had to confiscate the bricks because he was throwing them at the TV and, OK, he clambered on me after dinner in that way that only toddlers can. We did play football a little bit too. And we played with his shape sorter…

And this my friends it what pisses me off sometimes about being a mum. Most of the tasks that I completed on my to do list were for the benefit of my family – either feeding us, making sure our home is nice and clean to live in, keeping a roof over our head… So, although I wasn’t directly caring for Elliott – I was – simply by carrying out those tasks. And, when I look back, I did play with him. OK so we didn’t do a structured activity like going to the park or painting, but we sat and we played, albeit for short periods. So, in both senses I was looking after my child. But the rule of #mumguilt means that no matter what you do; how you do it; or how much you do your brain will never think it’s enough. It will never be satisfied and it will send the dreaded ‘bad mum’ signal into your mind.

I really want to say fuck #mumguilt, I really do. But alas it lingers…

Any tips?

 

Diary: A day of firsts

Written on Saturday 18th February 2017

Funnily enough I’ve been trying to write a post about toddler milestones for Elliott’s 18-month update (he’ll be 21 by the time I get it finished at this rate and I don’t mean 21 months!). Anyway, I’ve been really struggling to think of what the milestones are for a toddler. They’re certainly less obvious than for a baby.

Then, we go and have a day packed full of firsts. Sadly there’s no photos (how exactly do people manage to take pictures, carry shopping and hold onto an unruly toddler??) but anyway here’s what’s gone down…

We tried these protein packed banana pancakes for breakfast this morning. At first Elliott shook his head and refused to try them, but after a bit of encouragement and him clocking the looks on our faces as we joyfully devoured them he got stuck in. They’re delish and a great way of adding protein to your toddlers diet if your little one is a total carb fiend like Elliott.

Elliott stroked an owl! They’ve started having weekly markets in our local town on a weekend and one of the stalls today was one of those where there’s lots of owls (great description, I know). We showed Elliott the owls on our way into town and he was a bit ‘whatever’ – probably because the owls weren’t moving very much so he didn’t really know what he was looking at. On our way back out of town I had taken Elliott out of his buggy whilst daddy purchased some essentials from a market stall (double chocolate brownies, natch!) as we walked past the owls we stopped to take another look. This time Elliott was on the same level as one of the larger owls who was resting on a perch/log (I’m so rubbish with nature stuff) on the floor. Elliott was so intrigued he pointed and smiled and waved and then started walking towards the owl. I held onto Elliott, after all you never quite know what a toddler is going to do, but Elliott just gently stroked the owl on the chest. I was so proud of him for being so gentle and kind and also so brave.

So, Elliott was out of his buggy and we decided to keep it that way as we walked home. Give him chance to burn off some excess energy so he could have a good nap after lunch. We can always pop him back in the buggy when he gets tired. Scratch that. Change it to if he gets tired. Elliott managed to walk all the way home from town. Admittedly that is only a third of a mile, but when you’re as little as Elliott that must seem like a very long way indeed. He also behaved really well as he walked, holding my hand and happily pointing at me and Mr H smiling and saying ‘Mummy!’ and ‘Daddy!’ respectively.

Elliott also had his first bagel for lunch, which he loved. Probably because it was smothered in cream cheese.

Another first. We eventually got rid of his bath seat! He’s probably been a little old for it for a while, but it still fitted and gave us some degree of sanity when bathing him. Today we swapped it for a bath mat and half expected a bath time meltdown, what with the whole change thing and everything. Elliott did look slightly perplexed, but he sat still and enjoyed being able to swish the water around more easily. He was even sensible enough to ask me to pass a bath toy back to him when it had moved out of reach.

Just goes to show. When you think you’ve seen it all, these little ones amaze you every single bloomin’ day. Elliott, mate, you’re an absolute star and mummy and daddy adore you.

If you want something done – ask a mum!

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Back in the day I used to struggle to get to work for 9am.

Seriously, I did…

It makes me laugh now.

I only had myself to look after and I only worked two miles up the road, but that struggle of getting out from a cosy bed, washed, dressed, ready, in the car and to the office just seemed impossible. After all, I wasn’t a morning person and I was so tired…

Tired..? Tired..? I didn’t know the meaning of the word. Even when I think I’m tired now, I’m not really. Not in comparison to the *whispers* newborn days…

I now start work at 8:30am (awaits an audible gasp from anyone who knew me BC (Before Child)) and yet still manage to get a gazillion things done before I arrive in the office.

The other morning I…

  • Woke up and turned off my multiple alarms – safety in numbers!
  • Showered, brushed my teeth – the essentials…
  • Got dressed
  • Removed my old nail polish
  • Tidied the bedroom
  • Put some towels into the washing machine
  • Woke Elliott up
  • Waited for him to do his morning poop – he literally stands there in his cot making eye contact with me whilst he fills his nappy – charming!
  • Changed Elliott’s nappy
  • Warmed Elliott’s milk and fed it to him (he still likes me to feed it to him rather than holding the bottle himself – I don’t mind as he’s massively independent in other areas)
  • Brushed Elliott’s teeth
  • Got Elliott washed and dressed
  • Tidied up and locked down the apartment
  • Put Elliott’s shoes on – this sounds like an insignificant task but it can take forever
  • Helped Elliott walk down two flights of stairs to the car
  • Wrestled Elliott into his car seat
  • Put Elliott’s shoe back on as a result of above wrestling
  • Drove to nursery
  • Did the nursery drop off – there was a tense moment when Elliott delayed sitting down to have his breakfast, but we got there
  • Headed to Sainsbury’s to pick up tissues, washing liquid and ladies supplies
  • Drove to work
  • AND still got into the office before 8:30am

Granted, not every morning goes as smoothly as this. But that’s besides the point. I am super-proud of myself for being able to fit this all in pre-work, especially given my BC tendencies.

Sometimes you’ve gotta celebrate the small victories!

 

Diary: Date Night – Mission Accomplished

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Last night Mr H and I managed our first date night of 2017. Well, actually, our first date night for a very long time. We did have one planned in for January but I was ill (not that I like to harp on about it) so we had to cancel.

Yup, yesterday my mom came over to look after a sleeping Elliott whilst hubby and I headed to our local cinema to see Trainspotting 2. I even put on a fresh face of make-up for the occasion and changed out of my toddler slobbered on attire into something clean! Wowsers!

At first it was really strange even being in the car without Elliott. We’re so used to constantly checking on him in his car seat. Has he gone to sleep? Is he OK? Is he about to wang his dummy somewhere unreachable?

When we arrived at the cinema (early – we were going to make the most of our hours sans toddler) we headed to Costa for a (decaf) coffee. We automatically chose a large table as we’re so used to having to unpack snacks, entertainment, baby wipes, etc… etc… When I stood up from the table I picked up my clutch bag and looked around to make sure we hadn’t left anything behind. I was so not used to traveling light.

The film itself (accompanied by popcorn, obvs) was brilliant. A sequel always makes you a bit anxious – will they be able to do the original film justice – especially with a film as iconic as Trainspotting? But by golly they did. The references to the previous film were brilliant. You cared for and hated the characters in equal measure. There were tense moment, clever moments and the usual bonkers moments that you would come to expect from a film full of friends whose only real bond is Heroin. We both loved it and have been talking about it non-stop today – always the sign of a good film or TV show in our house. We’ve also been singing various songs from the soundtrack, especially this one and this one (Elliott is also loving this one).

Elliott was a star pupil for his nan too, not waking at all whilst she read her book and waited for us to get home.

I’ll admit we’re not usually a ‘date night’ couple. Pre-kids we didn’t see that we needed a special night for ‘us’, we just went out when we wanted to. Now babysitters have to booked in advance so it makes just popping to Pizza Express a little more problematic.

Last night did us the world of good. The opportunity to be husband and wife, rather than mummy and daddy. Sure, we talked about Elliott loads – he’s our absolute world, so we were always going to.

One sure sign that regular date nights are needed is the fact that despite not getting to bed  until 1am last night and waking at 7am this morning to the sound of Elliott going “Mummy? Daddy?”  we were actually more refreshed than if we had a night in front of the TV.

Now to plan our next date night, my birthday night out!

Choose life. Choose date night.

Elliott’s 18 Month Update Part 1 – Routine

WARNING! Super-long post alert. I was orignally going to do a full 18 month update in one post. Then I started typing and couldn’t stop. I was going to edit, after all, would anyone actually want to read ALL this? But I stopped myself, because I thought, yes, when Elliott is grown I will want to look back at what was, at the funny little things we used to do and the way we spent our days.  So here we are… Elliott’s routine at 18 months, grab a cuppa and your biscuit of choice (I recommend a good ole’ chocolate Hob Nob) and enjoy a read. Let me know if there are any similarities with your little ones too..

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7am – Elliott’s average wake-up time. If we’re lucky he may stay snuggled until 8am some mornings, other morning he’s interrupting mummy’s get ready routine at 6:30am. But on average he’s a 7am riser.

I always sing to Elliott first thing (our neighbours must love listening to me wail at 7am, but hey ho!). I remember watching Jonathan from the Saccone-Joly’s sing to his children and thinking it was a great idea, then when Elliott came along we kind of just fell into singing a bit of the ‘Good Mornin” song from ‘Singin’ in the Rain’. He gets: “Good Mornin’, Good Mornin’, it’s great to stay up late, Good Mornin’, Good Mornin’ to you” – tickle on his tummy, “Good Mornin’, Good Mornin’, It’s great to stay up late, Good Mornin’ Good Mornin’ to you” – pat on his nose, then I pick up his cuddly toys from his cot and wiggle them around to make them ‘dance’ for the last round of: “Good Mornin’, Good Mornin’, It’s great to stay up late, Good Mornin’, Good Mornin’ to youuuu” – I then kiss the cuddly toys and pass them to Elliott who kisses them and puts them back in their place in his cot. So cute! Then we do “1-2-3, now we can see” as I switch the light on. Funny the things you wind up doing…

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Next, it’s up and nappy change – which can take a while as Elliott has a habit of running off, or hiding behind his cot… Once I’ve managed to capture him and change his nappy it’s milk time. Elliott has 8oz of full fat cows milk in a morning. He still drinks this from a bottle. I did attempt to get him to drink it from a sippy cup the other day and he looked genuinely disgusted with me. It was a bit like asking the Queen to drink tea from something other than a bone china tea cup. I generally have the news on in the background at the same time. I used to be really funny about having the TV on in the background, but this is one of my only opportunities to keep up with what’s going on in current affairs and with the whole Trump debacle – right now I definitely want to know what’s going on!

Once milk is finished. Elliott will pop his dummy (or his ‘mummy’, as he likes to call it) back in whilst I go and get his toothbrush. We were struggling with toothbrushing for a while, but stumbled across this video which seems to help to motivate Elliott to actually brush his teeth rather than just suck the toothpaste off the brush. I must warn you if you do decide to use it it’s a total ear worm and you will have it in your head for the rest of the day! More recently Elliott has wanted to brush his teeth himself. Great for independence; not so good for keeping his molars clean. So that’s always a fun battle! I generally hide Elliott’s dummy during toothbrushing and he’s got used to going dummy free until nap time, unless he’s upset about something, unwell or teething.

8am With the the TV on in the background, either scrolling onto the next YouTube video (Normally this one, which Elliott loves), or I put CBeebies on whilst I make breakfast. Elliott’s favourite at present is porridge made with whole milk. I cut pieces of berries up really small and add them to the mixture as I cook it to sneak some fruit into him! He also generally has a slice of toast or a bit of croissant.

8:30am Now it’s clean up time. Elliott does rather enjoy throwing his food once he’s had enough at the moment, so if we’re not quick enough to judge when he doesn’t want any more the place can end up pretty messy – fortunately we use a plastic table cloth underneath the highchair to catch any debris so it’s a bit easier to clean up. That said, Elliott is going through a bit of a phase of not wanting to sit in his highchair, preferring his little Ikea table instead. Again, great for his independence, but the fact that he can wander around mid-meal with sticky fingers sends me into a blind panic! Strangely enough, when there’s a yoghurt on offer he’s quite happy to sit in his highchair… Hmm…

Anyway, there’s the table and floor clean up and then Elliott gets cleaned off with a flannel and dressed. Just recently he’s started to pick his outfits out for himself too!

9am onwards This largely depends on the day. We might play for a bit before going to a toddler group, or meet up with friends. I might get Elliott to help me with some housework – he’s a dab hand at hanging the socks on our clothes airer now, although does get very frustrated if they fall off -bless him!

10:30am – Snack time – generally a banana or some fruit toast. Afterwards, again it depends on our plans. You can generally guarantee a trip to the supermarket for a top-up shop somewhere along the way. We do a nappy change at this time too.

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12:30 – Lunch time – something along the lines of beans on toast, or a Dairylea sandwich. I do get stuck with inspiration for lunch, so if anyone has ideas – please let me know! Elliott always has pudding afterwards too. I tend to give him all the savoury stuff first and then give him the sweet stuff once he’s had enough of his sandwich, or whatever, otherwise I know he would just make a beeline for the sweet stuff.

Elliott will often go for a nap after lunch (sometime he will even go before, or over his normal lunch time – in which case we feed him later, obvs), this can range from  40 minutes to 3 hours and sometimes if we’re out and about (especially if we’re relative visiting he might literally have 10 minutes – imagine a *shocked frace* emoji here! If we are home, then it’s generally: nappy change, blinds drawn, Star Wars lights on, dummy in, cuddles until you can sense Elliott is ready to be put down, then pop him in his cot and cover him with a light blanket. I then tend to potter around his nursery for a few minutes, before telling him to have a good sleep and retreat, listening to him fight his nap over the baby monitor for the next five minutes before he eventually drifts off and I get some time to myself time to catch up on housework.

Once he wakes up it depends again. We might read book, have a boogie and play some musical instruments, paint, draw or head to the park. It really depends on how long Elliott sleeps for, what else we’ve got on and what mood Elliott wakes up in.

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3:30pm – Snack time – Generally fruit or Dairylea on crackers, although the odd sweet treat is now sneaking in too! We do another nappy change at this time too, I generally try to do it as soon as Elliott wakes from his nap as if he’s still a bit groggy he’s less likely to try to run off!

6pm – Dinner time! If Elliott is hungry he will literally stand by the kitchen or point to it as if to say ‘C’mon woman – make my dinner!’. Once it’s cooked and being served up, he will generally head over to the table and start shouting ‘TEA! TEA!’ in an excited voice (tea is what Midlanders call dinner sometimes). Tea could be stir fry, curry, lasagne, pasta, sausages & mash, pizza. We try to vary it up, but again, I need to add some more dishes to my repertoire, so let me know any that work for you! Pudding is generally yoghurt or jelly. But we do sometimes make this mousse or have banana and custard, or something different.

6:45pm – Play time – Elliott will sometime bring books for us to read, or will enjoy some rough play with his dad. Weirdly he often plays with certain toys at this time of night that he doesn’t play with at any other time during the day. There’s one shape sorter that’s a particular post dinner hit and he also enjoys emptying his ball pit (and sitting underneath the upturned pit) at around this time too.

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7:30pm – Bath time – Daddy takes care of this. We bathe Elliott in Oilatum because he has slightly dry skin. Elliott has his hair washed on Thursday’s and Sunday’s (and other nights if he’s got particularly mucky). Otherwise its a quick wash and then a chance to play with some of his bath toys  before moving onto tooth brushing. Next we dim the lights for PJs, and an 8oz bottle of whole cows milk milk and bed at…

8pm – Elliott still sometimes falls asleep on the bottle. Other times he would probably dive into his ball pit post bottle. Either way he tends to settle well once he’s in his cot. I kiss him goodnight, tell him I love him lots and that I’ve enjoyed spending the day with him and that I’m looking forward to seeing him the next day. I tell him to have good ‘nug nugs’ too (our word for snuggles). Sometimes I get a kiss, sometimes a cuddle, sometimes he’s fast asleep and I’m talking to myself. Other times I get a wave, or he blows me a kiss as his dad carries him off to bed.

We’re very lucky that Elliott generally sleeps through. He might wake once or twice but that’s generally a quick dummy rescue mission and he’s back to sleep. There are the odd occasions where he won’t settle but they’re not often. Sorry – please don’t hate me sleep deprived parents.

And on work days?

Obviously this is what we would do on a typical day off. On a working day. Elliott rises at around the same time and the morning routine follows the same pattern, except he gets washed and dressed straight after having his teeth brushed as he eats his breakfast at nursery. I drop him at nursery at around 8am and head to work, then pick him up at around 5:30pm. We’ve tried to mimic the nursery routine as much as possible at home to add some consistency to Elliott’s days, so meal times are roughly the same at nursery as they are at home.

That’s not all…

I feel like this post doesn’t give a full account of everything that goes into looking after and managing a toddler. It makes it sound a little too easy and, at times, it’s really not. It doesn’t take into account the continual bag packing, emptying and replenishing; washing; meal planning and prep, tidying, tidying and oh-my-god tidying, plus lots of other things that happen ‘behind the scenes’ to keep the household running as smoothly as possible. I say this, not to moan, but just to give some sense of reality to people who may not have children and don’t experience this first hand!

So, that’s it. Hope you enjoyed your brew and hope you enjoyed reading this too – oh, that rhymed! In my next Elliott update I will look at sleep.

I hope to film a ‘day in the life’ video to show Elliott’s routine from start to finish too, but wanted to get this epic blog post live first as when I wrote this Elliott was fast approaching 19 months and now he actually is!

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My 10 Step Immunity Boosting Plan

I feel a fraud for posting this…

I made this video back in November 2016 when I was recovering from Hand, Foot and Mouth (having already suffered with a sinus infection and tonsillitis since the start of October). The plan was in place, I was going to follow all these steps and emerge a healthy specimen. Erm, that didn’t really happen did it? Especially given that I’m currently fighting another sinus infection.

I was in two minds as to whether to post this or not, but thought I would so you can see what I’ve been trying to do to ward off lurgs. I’m sure some people assume I’ve just rolled over and succumbed to the bugs with little to no fight… Admittedly that fight hasn’t  worked very well so far but we live in hope.

I also want to be able to circle back in a few months (when I am a healthy specimen – screw you lurg!) and update you on what worked and what didn’t, and that wouldn’t make a lot of sense if I didn’t post the original video, so here it is…

And, if you don’t have time to watch the video, here’s my ten-step plan summarised in good old fashioned words…

STEP 1 – Take Vitamins

I’ve been taking:

Tesco Vitamin C chewable tablets

Wilko Echinacea tablets (there’s some similar ones here)

Holland & Barrett Chewable Acidophilus Tablets

I’ve been keeping these in a pill dispenser to make sure I don’t forget to take them.

STEP 2 – Prevention

At the first sign of a sniffle I’ve been spraying this Vicks First Defence Micro-Gel Nasal Spray up my nostrils.

STEP 3 – Drink Water

I’ve been using this clever Daily Water App to keep track of my water consumption and trying to drink more.

STEP 4 – Meditation

I use these CDs (saved to my phone) when I meditate.

STEP 5 – Me Time

I’ve been rediscovering the joy of reading. I’ve read this book on Hygge and this book on Toddler Taming.

STEP 6 – Diet

I don’t eat that badly. Although I am a bit of a sugar fiend. I want to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables to aid my immunity.

STEP 7 – Exercise

I’ve been planning to do exercise, although this is really a work in progress. The last time I did exercise was when I did Yogabellies when Elliott was a baby.

STEP 8 – Get Enough Sleep

STEP 9 – Stress Less

STEP 10 – Practice Good Hygiene

By making like Robbie Williams and rubbing this all over my hands at every opportunity!

What do you do to help to boost your immunity in the winter months?

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#raiseyourhands for Raynauds Awareness Month

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Cold hands; warm heart

If I had a pound for every time I’ve heard that I would be a millionaire. A millionaire with cold hands (and feet) but wealthy none-the-less.

I’m always the one tugging the sleeves down on my cardigan to keep my wrists and hands warm; slipping on my gloves at the slightest hint of chilly weather; getting criticism for poor body language as I fold my arms in an attempt to warm my hands up; and even, sitting on my hands to try to get the feeling back into them on particularly cold days.

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Raynauds is manageable for me. I was diagnosed with it during a doctors visit as a child. A trip to the GP about something else but my mother thought to ask about my hands which were often cold and would sometimes turn white or blue in response to low temperatures. In a matter of fact way the doctor explained that I likely had Raynaud’s, briefly explained what it was and that was that.

Fortunately, with a bit of forward planning, my Raynaud’s is manageable.

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I have varying gloves depending on the severity of the weather and what I have planned for that day. Thin leather gloves for driving and relatively mild days, gloves with touch screen functionality when I know I will be using my phone a lot, fingerless gloves with mitten fold-over bits for days where I need quick and easy access to my fingers and finally full-on dual layer skiing gloves for when I have to defrost the car.Oh and some wrist warmers for when it’s chilly but not quite glove weather, or to wear indoors when it’s cold but I need to type.

Don’t get me wrong. Raynaud’s can be inconvenient, truly annoying and very painful. There’s been a few times when I’ve slumped into my car in tears as my fingers are so sore from defrosting the windows on a freezing morning.There’s other times when a random finger will go white and numb making doing something everyday (like writing) almost impossible. Sometimes I struggle with what to wear, overheating on my torso because I’ve got to keep my cardigan on so that my wrists are covered to keep my hands warm. Then there’s those tender moments when you go to touch your loved ones and they recoil because your hands are absolutely bloomin’ freezing. I have hands for pastry; not passion it would seem and, yes, a very warm heart.

If you think you might have Raynaud’s you can take an online test and find out more here.

February is Raynaud’s Awareness Month.

 

2016

Again, I know! I’m so far behind that it’s a tadge late to be reflecting upon last year, but I didn’t want to zoom into 2017 (fat chance of that) without reflecting back on the year that was. The year that saw all this happen…

January

Elliott may turn his nose up at my purees but if Annabel Karmel likes them I must be doing something right??? 😄

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Once we had found homes for all the gifts that Elliott received for his first Christmas we set to weaning. Elliott wasn’t too sure about his first taste of baby rice and I wasn’t too certain whether to go with Baby Led Weaning or the more traditional purees. It wasn’t long until little man was chowing down on toast, as well as enjoying mushed up food -phew! What’s the saying? It always seems impossible until it’s done!

EVACUATE! EVACUATE! Serioisly renaming this the JumperPOO! 😷💩

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Elliott adored bouncing around in his Jumperoo (a gift from Santa for Christmas) soon renamed the Pooperoo due to its ability to induce poo which would then splat upwards mid-bounce. Oh, the babygrows we lost to that Jumperoo!

I also commenced the first of many sort outs. More on that later…

Elliott earlier today, pooped out from Rhythm Time 🎼 #elliott #babyspam #6months #rhythmtime

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AND, we trialled our first Rhythm Time class. We liked it, but didn’t love it, so alas didn’t return.

February

Post Baby Sensory snuggles. It was French week this week hence the stripes! #BabySensory #vivelafrance #babyspam 🇫🇷

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February was all about snuggles. How I miss those days when Elliott would nap next to me on the bed. Now if I try he wriggles around like a mad thing and tries to dive off the side of the bed. Spirited… is the word I think…

We also got into buggy wars with our apartment block owners. Tsk! Ironically I’m now a dab hand at putting the buggy away and carrying lots of shopping and a toddler up two flights of stairs but at the time this seemed impossible and so I had to leave the buggy downstairs on occasion and wait until a suitable nap time to go and pop it into the car. Apparently temporarily keeping the buggy in the entrance hallway (tucked under the stairs and out of the way) was a fire risk… I contemplated buying a fire extinguisher to keep next to it, but didn’t think the buildings owners would see the funny side.

Phew! After a morning of no naps mummy is very relieved that Elliott has now fallen asleep ahead of Baby Sensory.

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We battled with naps.

We enjoyed Baby Sensory.

We went to Oswestry for the day and found this fabulous family friendly cafe.

We visited the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham and the Sea Life centre.

Yay! Elliott has learnt to clap 👏 #elliott #babyspam #proudmama

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Elliott learned to clap and received his first Bookstart certificate from the library (I’ve been rubbish at keeping up with the stamps recently – oops!)

Baby brain was still in full effect … still is!

March

Hey there Mr Bunny 🐰 #LittleOwlFarm #latergram #elliott #babyspam

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My birthday month, so I used having a toddler as an excuse to go to a petting farm for the day. So much fun!

Fun at the park yesterday #babyspam #elliott

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March also saw the start of many trips to the park. I mean we had been before obviously, but now Elliott was more in control of his body it meant we got to go on the swings and things – woo hoo!

I also celebrated my first Mothering Sunday but that was a bit of a disaster so let’s move on to…

April

Had a lovely afternoon in the park today. Elliott even got to go on the playground with his second cousin. 😍💕

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Elliott met his second cousin (who is a month younger than him) for the first time.

Chilling out in the v warm sensory room with Mr Elliott earlier. 💕

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He got to exploring the sensory room the Children’s Centre – when we had been previously I hadn’t quite understood why there were baskets of pine cones and stuff. Eight months into the parenting malarky and I finally understood and Elliott finally wanted to explore!

Clear out part two began with earnest after having read that Marie Kondo book.

Earlier today before mummy's first KIT day at work #latergram #9months #babyspam #elliott #kit #work

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I completed my first KIT (keeping in touch) day at work. It was weird, but I didn’t hate it!

💩

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BHS, who hubby was working for at the time, went into administration! Argh!

We went on a soft play frenzy.

May

Elliott's first trip to the zoo. 🐰🐻🐯🦁🐵🐔🐗🐅🐫🐓

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Daddy’s birthday – so we used having a baby as an excuse to head to the zoo for the day!

Elliott's unique crawling style captured on video at last! #commandocrawl 🎥🚼

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Elliott also found his own unique style of crawling. #commandocrawl

Fun in the sun with this little one 🌾

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We headed to Bewdley for the day and sat out by the river.

We headed to Telford for the day and Elliott refused to put this book back in WHSmith. It’s still one of his favourites now!

June

Ah, how I miss the summer months of 2016. Kind of. They were so blooming warm that on the one hand it was lovely to get out and about and on the other hand you kind of had to get out and about and under the shade of a tree because it was schorchio!

We headed to an NCT party in the park.

Continued with the KonMari and the baby brain!

England on a sunny day is just perfection. This is Worcester cathedral and the river Severn yesterday.

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Went to Worcester.

Elliott enjoying the sand pit at Eleanor's 1st birthday party today. 👶🏻🎂

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Enjoyed messy play and birthday parties.

Elliott even supported England – albeit for a short time!

We went to the Baby Festival at Himley and trialled Moo Music.

A #latergram from yesterday. @centaurus78 on the phone to the AA after discovering we have a flat tyre. 😕

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We got our first ever flat tyre on the car, which turned into the perfect excuse for a pub lunch whilst we waited for it to be fixed!

July

Elliott’s birthday month and we headed to Devon with family to celebrate. Unfortunately Elliott was really poorly for it (we had to take him to the Urgent Care Centre twice!) and so the celebrations didn’t pan out how we had imagined at all. We managed soft play and a train ride at Pecorama and a bit of time on the beach the day after his birthday, but that was about it… Also fitting in the needs of a baby around a holiday with other family proved a challenge too…We drank some nice champagne though.

Also the month our washing machine decided to break… Argh!

But we did have a nice trip to the zoo for my mom’s birthday. Yes, we are obsessed with the zoo… and..?

There were christening parties and birthday parties galore.

Not your average Saturday morning. #Inthenightgardenlive #teammaccapacca

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We went to see In The Night Garden Live.

💉😢

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Elliott had his next round of injections.

Elliott also started his settling in sessions at nursery. They did not go well to begin with! Fortunately perserverance paid off in the end and he’s now really happy there!

August

We sold our Corsa and purchased a Qashqai – because we are that much of a middle-class parenting cliche.

Birthday buddies 😍.

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We went to the farm to celebrate Elliott and his NCT buddies first birthday’s.

We spent as much time outside as possible, enjoying the amazing weather.

I appreciated every little moment with Elliott as I prepared to go back to work after 12 amazing months of maternity leave.

Of course, as soon as I was back to work Elliott started getting the nursery health scares. When you’re sitting at your desk at work and the nursery phone number flashes up on your phone, your first thought is ‘I hope he’s OK’, shortly followed by ‘Ah, sh*t, I’m going to have to to go pick him up aren’t I?’.

We also discovered the Toddler Boat Rides at Dudley Canal Trust.

And got our museum on…

Get ya geek on! Anyone who knows me well will know I did really well to even be in the same room as a dalek! #irrationalfears

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September

Someone's pleased with himself 😍. #Elliott #14months

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Was more of the same really. Rattle & Rhyme. Appreciating time with Elliott. Getting used to things being so manic now I was back to work and, of course, Elliott taking his first steps!

October

This was Elliott's favourite!

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We headed to the British Motor Museum in celebration of our wedding anniversary. Random choice? Maybe. But we wanted a family day out.

Took daddy along for the ride today 👪 💙💙💖

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Daddy joined us for a Toddler Boat Ride and down the park.

My 🌍 😍

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Date day yesterday 💟 Breakfast at Fig & Favour ☕️ 🍳, shopping 🛍 & lunch at The Bell 🍸☕️

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Mummy and Daddy even enjoyed date day whilst Elliott was at nursery. Shhh! Don’t tell him!

Hoping for a touch less wind tomorrow

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And then we headed to Devon for a few days. It was so much fun revisiting places we had both visited as children but it was blooming freezing and, alas, the start of many lurgs!

Pumpkin picking is officially my new favourite thing to do. 🎃

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Then there was pumpkin picking on the farm.

November

More lurg for me and Elliott’s first ever hair cut #mulletbegone

The mullet is gone 🎉🎉🎉 #firsthaircut

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We managed some fun activities…

…until the dreaded Hand, Foot & Mouth reared its ugly head (foot & mouth).

December

Christmas! Christmas! Christmas!

Elliott saw Santa at the Safari Park, at nursery, at the library and at Webbs.

We went to the Christmas light switch on, and the Christmas Tree Festival.

We really enjoyed our visit to the Christmas tree festival on Saturday 🎄🎄🎄⛪️

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We went to carols in the park and Elliott took part in his first nativity.

We looked at Christmas trees.

We ate, drank and were merry!

A combination of Vlogmas and being ill almost killed me – lol!

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Ah, how I miss the fun-filled days of maternity leave. Writing that post has made me very sentimental indeed!

How was your 2016?

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