Friday, 29 July 2011

The Trouble with Thomas

For quite a while I have been dreading the holidays coming and having Alice at home again all the time, I was worried she would be bored and we would all suffer.

However in the week that she has had off from Play School, Alice has been a pleasure, sure she's had her moments what toddler doesn't, but on the whole she's been lovely, and its been great to have a bit of extra time with her before nursery kicks in and she's off every morning come September.

My troubles however have certainly not lessened, instead they have be the trouble with Thomas.

The angelic face may deceive you

Thomas is about 18 months old now (I think?!) and when its just the two of us he's pretty easy to handle, he naps, we play, he helps me clean etc nothing too wild. I take him to toddlers groups about once a week.

Since Alice has been off playschool Thomas is now officially a brat. He has become that child that everyone looks at in the park, I have become that mother that everyone starts at on the train. So whats so bad? He screams, he screams about small things, he screams about big things, he screams for the sake of it, and most of all he screams extremely loudly, in a way that only boys seem to be capable off.

I used to see other peoples kids screaming, and I would think, what have you done to them, why cant you take them away or at least why haven't you bought along something they like.

I have tried to take Thomas away from situations that cause the scream, for example our mundane trip to Asda and the fiasco that created. Since then Thomas has learned scream loud enough, leave faster. so thumbs down to that one

What have I done to him? This has now become more of a question of what would I like to do to him, or where would I like to hide. Nothing that I'm aware of?!

And I have taken him along a thousand different things, Iv tried toys, food, drinks, his beloved book.
Whatever we are doing it doesn't fit Thomas.

When we're in the car he wont sleep and screams instill he is knackered, thus when we get somewhere he is shattered from not having slept.
When he's in the buggy he wants to walk and when he's walking he wants to stop and stay in one place for an eternity.

I am at my wits end with the embarrassment of pushing a screaming buggy, or being hit by a tantruming toddler as I try to calm him.
We have had to leave the park earlier than intended because of his behaviour which just seems really unfair to poor Alice who has been no trouble.

I love my kids and already feel their growing up so fast I can barley keep up, but this week has definitely been a week for wishing away the 6 months till Play School will take him too :-(

Monday, 25 July 2011

Tech Kids?

On Thursday the other half had a job interview in London, and so we decided to go along too and make a day out of it as it happened to be the day Alice has no playschool.

On the way down there I popped the post code into my trusty Iphone for it to do its thing and direct us there, however in normal tech style it got us into central London and then the battery died! Leaving me to wing my way to Dulwich Village solo. I HATE driving round London, and the other half hates being expected to direct and so we ended up asking a few strangers (much to his manly disgust) and getting there with literally 1 minute to spare (having allowed 3 hours for a 2 hour journey anyway).

It was then really annoying that I had no battery left as we couldn't separate for the rest of the day for fear of being lost in London!

Interview over we decided to catch the train into the city to show the kids some sights. Alice was entertained by the journey for a few minutes but all Thomas wanted to do was jump out the buggy climb on seats and scream..every non-parents nightmare to sit by. This was obviously really annoying and stressful, and for us a lesson in not taking our two toddlers into central London any time soon.
But I couldn't help noticing several other parents toddlers around Alice's age (3ish) had very quite children sitting still in their buggies. On closer inspection these kids were playing with the apps on their parents phone's (or so I thought). I've let Alice do this in the car, or when we're waiting for food out etc and I don't see a problem with it at all, but I was pretty appealed when I saw the mother of one toddler get out her own identical (£400) phone and start texting and calling.
Several times her little girl looked up to her and said she was bored, to which she was told to practice her typing on Note, and listen to her songs.
The poor little girl although quite and still looked absolutely bored as hell, while her disinterested mother played with her own phone.

Looking round London in general there was definatly a running theme that it was okay for toddlers to have their own, sim card free smart phone purely to use as a toy. Im not entirely sure why but this just made me feel really sad. Don't get me wrong I know we live in a modern world and kids need to be getting to grips with technology younger and younger but this just seemed a step (or 2) too far to me.

Id rather take my screaming/bouncing/annoying kids any day over that. It seemed really sad that parents just expected children to be entertaining themselves presumably because they'd spent so much money on these phones. I dont know if this was a status thing or intended to provide genuine entertainment to a tot, Id love to hear other peoples thought.

Im not sure if Im just being a dinosaur, but id rather be penny thrift and living in smalltownsville with colouring books and crayons for my kids any day.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011


Well, yesterday when checking my Internet banking I noticed that my current account was showing up an available balance of zero despite not being over my overdraft limit.
I was a bit confused but thought that perhaps I had over spent a little at the weekend so quickly transferred across £60 to make sure I avoided bank charges.

£60 did not make a difference to the available balance and so I started to worry. I knew I couldn't have got any more carried away than this and as the transaction was not showing up on my statement yet had no way of knowing where it had gone too.

I phoned up Lloyd's to try and solve the mystery who were very helpful and I stopped my card and asked to change the pin number instantly worrying that perhaps my card had been cloned or something over the was Brighton, I was drunk etc.

Once we'd got security out of the way they attempted to find out where the money was going for me. To my surprise it was a single payment of £505 but for some reason the fraud squad had not flagged this up as unusual so had allowed it to process.

I was very confused for a while as I really do find Lloyd's to be a great bank who have been extremely helpful since I started banking there 5 years ago.

I racked my brains until I finally stumbled upon the fact that i had renewed my car insurance with Asda on Wednesday instead of phoning the Co-Op to renew my current policy. The figures seemed to match up so I gave them a call.
Low and behold they quite happily stated that yes they had very kindly automatically renewed my car insurance for me. I reminded them that at the time that I changed cars in April I had very decisively opted out of automatic renewal and therefore would like my money back having already renewed with Asda.

My helpful advisor Ali informed me that what I needed to do was quite simply to return them the document that they have not yet actually sent to me, along with those that Asda will be sending and then once they have received them they will kindly cancel the policy.
I began to become frustrated at this point and couldn't help pointing out that not only would this take at least 10 days I also didn't wish to 'cancell' the policy as I had never taken it out, and certainly wouldn't be paying them their administration and cancellation fees.

Ali at this point floundered so I requested to speak to a manager. I was put on hold for 15 minutes and finally when Ali returned to the phone it was to suggest that I called Lloyd's back to ask them to stop the payment.
I was suspicious but appreciated they might know something I didn't. I Asked for Ali's full name and was told this was not company policy, I then asked for Ali's direct number and was told he didn't have one, I asked for a reference number as proof of our conversation and was told that no such number existed. Infuriated by this 'customer service' I hung up and spoke to Lloyd's again.

Unsurprisingly no stop could be made on the payment as it had been taken via my debit card, which is guaranteed by visa, not via a direct debit. Something I was advised Ali would have been aware of. So another expensive pointless phone call. Lloyd's did however provide me with a reference number and promise that I would not receive bank chargers as long as the issue was resolved.

Back on the phone through the entire system to the Co-Op this time to speak to the at least more helpful Riff.
I immediately asked to speak to a manager and was told that their policy was for a manager to return your call within 24 hours (What!!?) I am still waiting. Riff asked if she could help so I once again explained the situation, apologised for being angry and said that I found it all highly unacceptable that they had effectively stolen £500 from me leaving us in an extremely awkward position, potentially costing me bank chargers and defiantly costing me expensive phone calls. Not to mention the inconvenience of having already stopped my card on suspicion of fraud.

The outcome, an email to confirm that I wanted to cancel the policy and stating I didn't have the documents to return. I did return this email along with a lengthy comment re-iterating my situation and requesting a confirmation of its receipt.

I have received no phone call, no confirmation of my email and certainly no return of my £505. I am now left extremely tight for money (who wouldn't be its £500!) and entirely unsure when/if I can expect to have the full amount returned to me.

I am also furious that this will now be costing me further frustrating phone calls this afternoon when I would rather be playing with my children.

I'm genuinely annoyed with the Co-Op and their customer service and had expected much better. I will certainly never be using any of their insurance services again.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Fun at Home

Well I got back from Brighton at about 7.30 last night which meant the kids had already gone up to bed.
When we were finishing lunch at about 3 and I realised I wouldn't catch them before bed time I got a bit upset as I really was missing everybody by then, but I had such a lovely weekend it seemed a shame to try and rush everyone!

When I got home, the other half told me that Alice was in our bed that night as when she had been going to sleep she wouldn't settled and had said 'I miss mummy'(how cute, this was lovely to hear), so the other half had let her tuck into our bed and promised her shed get cuddles when I was back.

It was absolutely lovely to tuck up in bed with them both and have a big cuddle last night and just a shame Thomas was in his own room (but delightful that he was sound asleep!)

The other half had work and Alice had playschool this morning so it was just me and T but we had a great morning, and I made him up some rainbow spaghetti to play with!

I got this off a twitter post and thought I had to try.

All I did was to cook a packet of value spaghetti, pop a little bit of oil in it, and then ran it all under the cold tap for a minute to cool it off.
Then I separated it into a few old margarine tubs so I could colour it different colours. I had red, green and yellow food colouring, and so made red,green,yellow, orange (by mixing red and yellow) and pink (by only using a drop of red).

I bought the coffee table into the kitchen and popped the platicated table cloth over then got a big plastic bowl, some picnic bowls and Thomas so we could get stuck in.

I popped him in an old ikea bib as an apron and he had a great time mixing up the different colours, spooning it into the bowl, feeling the texture and yes eating a bit.
It doesn't matter if your kids do eat this because it really is just spaghetti and food colouring!

When Alice got home from playschool she had a ball playing with the spaghetti too and I defiantly think that was 40p well spend on a pack of Value Spaghetti. Really did provide hours of fun.

To add to the experience you could add food essences/flavourings or try putting some glitter in with it. (don't then let kids eat it).
If it had been a nicer day I would have let them take this outside to play with on the grass too!

All in all a lovely fun day back at home with my babies :-)

Saturday, 16 July 2011

On my own

Wow I am on my own in Brighton Marina.
I have lain in till half 7 and eaten breakfast in peace.
I miss my babies!
Now to have a shower in peace and get dressed prepared to be rained on all day! Just watching the forecast don't think it could be worse.
The girls ate arriving at midday so wish me luck lol.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

10 top tips for....Cooking with Toddlers

When it comes to cooking with your toddler (or two) the prospect can be daunting.
You know theres going to be alot of mess over the floor, the kitchen, the toddler and yourself, its probably going to take a long time, they will eat raw cake mix and it will taste a bit funny.
But its so much fun that it really is all worth it, and here's my top tips for maximizing fun and minimizing the mess!

1) Pick a simple recipe with only a few ingredient and if you've got particularly young children try to find one with a small cooking time.

2) If possible bring a low table (I always use my coffee table from the lounge) into the kitchen so that the kids    can work at their height. This is safer as it saves wobbling off stools near counter tops and keeps little fingers away from, hob rings etc.

3) Invest a few pounds in a plastic table cloth, or buy some plasticated cloth from a fabric shop, we got ours (although it looks like I didnt bother with it for the picture, oops!) from the sale section of CH Fabrics for £5) this will protect your table and surrounding area from mess as it'll only take a wipe to get it all clean at the end, and also lets the kids know that this is a time its okay to get messy.

4) Let kids help to measure out ingredients. A toddler will be fascinated by your weighing scales, jugs spoons etc and you can talk about numbers, quantities etc in a way that's relevant to them, eg. How many eggs do we need? 'one, two'

5) Get stuck in, let them stir, rub, and mash things together, dont worry about a bit of mess on your tots it will all come off with a lick or a bath!

6) Join in! If your kids see you having fun and enjoying cooking they will too

7) When choosing what to cook decide whether it will be healthy, or a treat and then talk about this when your cooking. E.g. 'isnt this cake mix yummy, so sweet this will make a nice treat for pudding'

8) Let children cut ingredients up with plastic scissors. So many recipes need things cutting up but if your clever and pick the right recipes then most cutting can be limited to soft items suitable for the scissors! good example of food to cut with scissors are, ham, cheese slices, cooked spaghetti, bananas, bread etc. Try to avoid letting children handle raw meat/fish

9) Look at the food before it is cooked and talk about how it looks, ask what they think it might turn out light after cooking. Look again when the food is cooked, were you right? Will it stay that way when it is cool.

10) Eat and enjoy, kids love sharing what they've made and receiving praise for it. They are also much more willing to try new things if they've had a hand in making them.

Here come the hens

Well this weekend Im heading down to Brighton for my Hen Do.
Its crazily early as we're not getting married until October but was the only time that me and my two bridesmaid could do all at once (we're defiantly growing up if theres only 1 Saturday we're all free in 3 months!).

At the moment Im really not sure if Im exited at the prospect of a night out on the piss with 6 girls or slightly terrified! It has been 3 and a half long years since I had anything like a drinking session so Im pretty sure im going to be horribly out of practice in comparison to my footloose and fancy free companions (except my Sister in Law to be who will hopefully be there to rescue me if I get too horribly drunk!).

Im heading down on the Friday night to see my brother who still lives in Brighton, and then Saturday night with the girls so I will actually be away for 2 nights. I was chatting to the other half about this and realised I actually haven't spend a night away from Thomas ever, and it must be well over 4 years since I spend a night actually on my own. (if you count small babies as company!) so its definatly going to be strange and Im completely undecided whether I feel liberated at the prospect of two whole days dribble, dirty nappy, trouser grabbing free time or if Im just going to horribly miss my babies!

We're also skint so we're all going to try to squish into a 1 bed flat with a sofa bed (interesting for 6) so I'll have to make sure to pack a few extra home comforts...although I do feel its my right as bride to be to bags half the double bed!
Drinks will have to be on err..everyone else :o) *hopefully eyes*

Also no plan has been formed just meet around midday, eat and drink and hope the weathers nice enough to sit on Brighton's STONY beach. (just checked the beeb not loving the 'light rain' predicted for Saturday and neither is my hair)

I do at least hope that means I'll be avoiding strippers and giggling bits though!

Not sure quite where Im going with this, just aargh Im going to miss my babies, and Iv aged so horribly that what Im most looking forward to is a nice long lie in on Saturday morning and the chance to have an uninterrupted shower!

Im sure you'll all see my drunken tweets over the weekend! and hopefully I'll still be alive to write a post about it next week!

Friday, 8 July 2011

To Treat or Not To Treat

While I was nipping round my local Tesco this morning I bumped into a lady who's son also goes to Alice's preschool.
His birthday is today (he's 4 so in the Butterflies group not Alice's caterpillars) and she was telling me how having dropped him off this morning she was asked where the sweets were to give to the other children.
Consequently she was rushing round Tesco's stocking up on suitable junk for his party and for preschool.

I couldn't help but comment that i was shocked to hear that the preschool had actually requested that she bring in sweets to dish out.
When it was Alice's birthday on a playgroup day last summer I cautiously bought in a cake unsure whether this might annoying other mothers that I was promoting junk to their kids!

I'm now left pondering exactly which line of thought is the best!

Should we be discouraging our kids from eating sugary junk or is it actually the opposite that these treats are in fact designed for kids for a very good reason!

And also as much as I really do love Alice's preschool is it really right that for every child's birthday the kids are dished out packs of parent provided sweets that they are left eagerly clutching at collecting time. Presumably this is incase you didn't want your kid to eat them, but surely they must know the very fact their frantically clutching the packet is allowing it in the first place. I'm yet to see a single parent not just open it to ensure a peaceful walk home!

With Alice's 3rd birthday fast approaching and it falling on her one preschool day (at her other preschool) for the holidays I'm left very confused about what approach to take...without even mentioning the whole party issue!

Thursday, 7 July 2011

The kindness of children

This is just a short post because I'v been very distracted over the last few days and struggled to finish my thoughts into anything I'v thought fit to inflict on the world!

I went into the doctors for what I thought was a routine question and having been referred to a different doctor for tests am now left feeling a bit anxious and worried and also having told my close family like maybe Im worrying them for nothing.
While Im sure this is the case, I still seem to be unmanageably stressed out by this!

I have both the kids at home all day on a thursday and had been dreading it a little to be honest, but actually this morning we all cuddled up o the sofa to watch disney films for hours and the children behaved themselves brilliantly all day, either playing nicely together (miracle!) or giving out nice hugs.
When Alice saw me looking sad and stressed this morning she instantly came over asked 'are you alriiiiight mummieeee' and then despite my reassurances that I really was fine and just being silly I was given a massive cuddle and 'its okay'.
From this point onwards I was much more upbeat and cheerful, partially because it genuinely did cheer me up, and partially because It made me think just how sensitive and connected children (even 2 year olds!) really are, and was amazed at how genuine her concern really was.

Just a tiny reminded that those babies we made, however troublesome and loud really can be mini miracles.

Monday, 4 July 2011


My children have always been so different, that its impossible not to compare, because next to nothing they do is they same.

While Alice was walking at 1, Thomas was talking and while Alice is a thrill seeking explorer Thomas seems to have more of a practical problem solving sort of nature.

I was one of those non-mums who would loudly declare in my pre-baby days that my children where not going to have dummies, wouldnt be eating in macdonalds and wouldn't be shouted at in the street. I have so far broken all three of these 'rule'
However I feel in no was ashamed of that, because once you have kids, you realize what a stuck up idiot you actually were before!

I gave Alice a dummy in desperation when she was 3 weeks old, as I couldn't bare the crying (from either of us!) any more. In my moment of weakness I grabbed for the pack someone had sent us in a gift parcel and let Alice enjoy the sweet relief this seemed to provide us all to her hearts content.
I didn't even stop to notice that this was a pack of old fashioned cherry teat dummies, and in my opinion as with everything that wasn't designed in the last 5 years, this actually did the job, Alice fell in love with it, and became a grade A dummy addict within a matter of days!

Eventually the dummy had its problems though, like being thrown out of into the road for me to retrieve and err 'clean' and I was worried that Alice's speech may even have been slowed a little (possibly just a buggys pushy health visitor though!) and by the time Thomas was born she was allowed night time dummies only.
She is not quite three and this is still important for her, we have begun talk of the magical dummy fairies coming when she is 3 and im sure they'll be more on this to follow.

Back to the point though, consequently this was her most important 'comforter' and a string of toys have been givern pride of place with her finallly settling on a Jingling pink rabbit called 'Jelly' that she was given as a gift (therefore I now cant find more) and cant wash because of its bell! but she has never really struggled to settle down as long as the dummy has been there.

With Thomas I made sure he got the 'right' dummies from the start, and he reluctantly accepted that they may just be better than nothing and they did help him to settle as a small baby.
When we moved house (and kicked him out our room) last summer I decided that 6 months was a good time to take the dummy away full stop (most unfair as Alice was still parading hers around at bedtime) and Thomas has had to find alternative ways of comforting himself.

A few months ago I realized he was able to turn on his Rainforest PeekaBoo mobile himself, and we had a week of sleepless night when the batteries ran out, as this is clearly important to him. I have ignored the 'remove after 6 months' guidelines for the sake of everybody's sanity (and it cost far too much for 6 months use!!).
His other 'comfort' object strangely enough seems to be books. He will not settle for either bedtime or naps unless he is given at least one and preferably two interesting books.
I'll them hear him giggling and cooing away for about 20 minutes before he actually falls asleep.
I havent encouraged this on him, but do find it unbelievably cute!

My top bedtime book suggestions are:

Friday, 1 July 2011

Thomas Meltdown

I just had the biggest toddler tantrum meltdown in the world.

Dropped Alice off to playgroup, wizzed round to Asda to grab some bits and pieces for the weekend (hopefully of a barbaque tomorrow) and saw Thomas had just dozzed off in the car.
Normally to wake him up is no problem and he is his usual merry self once he's in the trolly, but not today!

He screamed when I put him in, and was grumbling while we went into the shop, bumped into a friend and spent 2 minutes chatting, this was two minutes too long for Thomas though who deceided to start shrieking (that high pitched cry that sounds more like its indedned to attrackt wild dogs!) so I made my excuses and off up the aisles we went.
The noises didnt stop, I tried caliming him down, only to get slapping added to the problems, I tried telling him off, which increased the volume, I tried ignoring him for 10 minutes and then I tried feeding him the things I hadnt paid for yet!

None of the above seemed to work, and if anyone has any better ideas PLEASE tell me them!

We had only been 20 minutes when I deceided to give up, having a trolly full of purely junk we basically dont need from the attempts to grab things.
It got no better at the check out where taking him out the trolly for a cuddle only seemed to incite more slapping of mummy.
I was feeling like the lowest, scummiest mummy possible while the ladie infront of me deiced to chat to the checkout assistant for at least 2 minutes instead of paying, and I was about ready to burst into tears by the time my shopping was being scanned through.
I thought my order was surely over but no, the old lady returned and in her attempt to 'help' kept taking the shopping I had packed out of bags in my trolley and trying to pass them to Thomas, all this led to was double packing and double screaming, I sunk to new lows though by actually telling her she wasn't helping.

I now feel like the world worst mum, and am dreading the prospect of waking Thomas up in 10 minutes so we can pick Alice up.

2 coffees and a *aherm* packet of sweets later I am at least feeling calm(ish) again.

Lesson learnt, men hate shopping, avoid taking any age of male human shopping at all costs!