Where I’ve Been For The Past Few Months or Oh My God, The First Trimester Is A Strange Ol’ Time.

S’been a while. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll have seen I made a bit of an announcement a couple of weeks ago about what I’ve been up to for the past few months.

 

Yep! Baby no.2 is on the way next year. I have spent the last three months mostly laying horizontally on my bed or the sofa and wondering why I’ve done this to myself whilst having Elliot laying or sitting on me giving me a Pokemon quiz.

I’m now in Week 16 and can confirm I feel much more alive that I did this time last month, and can finally bear to open my laptop and type some words. Trust me, I’ve not even been able to think about blogging over the past few weeks and I’ve felt dreadful for it.

It was very exciting today to finally have a sit down in a cafe with a tea and actually write something down on paper that wasn’t just “I feel sick” repeatedly for four pages.

Anyway, let me tell you what I’ve been up to recently. Or, the weird shit that’s been going on for the past few months.

  • I have been weeing approximately 49 thousand times an hour, through the day and night. I started to convince myself that I’d got a raging UTI confused with pregnancy and spent hours at night, between getting up to go to the toilet fifty million times, remembering a Reddit thread I once read about a guy who pissed on a pregnancy test and found out he was seriously ill. Add into that the fact I bloated like Violet Beauregarde from about 10 weeks and had to give up on my jeans pretty quickly, I was living in DUNGAREES and WEEING EVERY THIRTY SECONDS. ūüėź

 

  • I have been crying approximately 52 thousand times a day. I sobbed my heart out to Reece day after day for literally no reason in particular. The man deserves a medal as I would not have put up with myself. As he said to me the other day, when reminding me how to keep the heating at the optimum level, “you’re quite…delicate at the moment.” I spent the first six weeks of pregnancy convinced everyone was going to hate me and that I’d ruined our lives and everyone’s around us. I also texted him through a sheen of tears one morning as Radio 1 were playing Fix You by Coldplay and it was too much for me to handle. I fucking hate Coldplay, so he did laugh at me for that one.

 

  • My boobs expanded like balloons, and they hurt so much. SO MUCH. It reached the point where during the day, I’d have to wear my sports bra even though no exercise was taking place and when Elliot climbed into bed with us he’d lay directly on my nipple and make me scream. Because yes, they were that big they were practically taking up half the bed on their own.

 

  • I realised I was a terrible liar. From people drunkenly shouting “You’re PREGNANT” at me literally the day I found out because I wasn’t drinking espresso martinis like they were going out of fashion and me having to run away because I didn’t know what to say, to fashioning a mystery illness out of nowhere to explain why I was having a variety of appointments¬† so that my family could look after Elliot. That one ended with my mum questioning me over the dinner table about “headaches” I’d been suffering from to the point where I wanted to slide under the table and into the Underworld to get away from it all.

 

  • The exhaustion has never been so intense. Me, the queen of planning, decided to fall pregnant just before the summer holidays began. We had a fair few “movie afternoons” where Elliot would settle down to watch some crappy film and I’d have a nice hour’s snooze. I have no idea what happens in the Emoji Movie and even James McAvoy couldn’t keep me awake for Sherlock Gnomes. We even went on a day trip to Diggerland which consisted of Reece and Elliot riding random JCB’s around whilst I sat on a variety of benches waving weakly at them, trying to keep my eyes open.

 

The worst bit is whilst this is all going on, you can’t even tell anyone how you’re feeling as it’s “bad luck” and you don’t want to jinx anything. So you sit in silence and Google “boob sore 8 weeks pregnant help me” in Incognito mode when you’re home alone. More than that, you also just feel like you’ve got the beginnings of a strange sickness bug rather than anything more exciting.

(Spoiler alert: I’m now 16 weeks and I know there’s something in there as I’ve seen them twice. I’m feeling slightly more alive, which is why I’m able to sit here and actually write something! The only downside is that my body seems to be preparing for a baby already and waking me up at 5:30am every single morning for a wee, and I can never drop back off.)

I cannot wait to finally be posting more – see you soon!

Kids TV: The Good, The Bad And The Put-Your-Head-Through-A-Wall Terrible.

I’ve watched my fair share of kids TV over the ages.

From watching it myself, as a child during the golden age of SM:TV, Mona The Vampire and MI High to watching it at University as “research” for a housemate training as a primary school teacher, to sitting in a dark room at 3am watching Bing Bunny whilst an 18 month old does grabby hands at ice creams on screen.

Therefore, I feel like I am competently qualified to give you the run-down of the best and worst kids TV out there today.

(This is inspired by the current Pokemon series Elliot is obsessed with that we’ve been watching for the past few weeks. FOURTY-TWO EPISODES PER SERIES. Can you imagine what the last series of Game of Thrones would have been like if they’d had that timescale to play with?!)

The Best:

Dick and Dom in da Bungalow: Possibly the best TV show ever created. Laid in bed last night until nearly midnight watching clips of this on Twitter and actually crying real tears of laughter. My favourite moment remains: the girl who rang the wrong number. Back in the day when you only had six channels.

Hey Duggee: It’s actually quite aesthetically pleasing for a kids TV show. They’ve definitely had an episode where everything looked like it had fallen out of a Wes Anderson movie, and it’s given us the true gift that is the Stick Song. I won’t link to that as it’s a serious ear-worm. Or ear-stick? Not sure if that works – ANYWAY it’s really quite cool and I don’t mind watching six episodes in a row.

Waffle The Wonder Dog: Probably a bit of a Marmite program, here. It’s about a dog that can talk. But a) in the first episode, they get married and when they discover a magical dog in their house the woman rips off her wedding dress to reveal her Vet uniform underneath. Second best outfit reveal since Violet Chachki’s tartan moment. There’s also really catchy tunes, the dog is voiced by Rufus Hound and I spend all my time wondering how their house works – it has a very intriguing layout. That’s what I think of when I watch TV shows now – the interiors.

The Worst:

Paw Patrol: I could truly write an essay on the shit that goes on in Adventure Bay but I like to try and keep these blog posts under 1000 words. To sum it up: the Mayor is even shitter than Theresa May, there’s this weird man that lives at sea who pretends to be pretentious by picking particular POINTS OF PHRASE THAT BEGIN WITH P and you could probably swim in the spit that he creates. It just drives me up the wall. Also, your child will be obsessed with it one day and you’ll spend ¬£79.99 on a Paw Patrol Adventure Bay Play Set complete with all five pups and a Bettina the cow and the next day he’ll be interested in something completely different.

Peppa Pig: I don’t think I need to explain the show Peppa Pig as everyone ever has seen one episode, or at least that meme of Peppa hanging up the phone on her friend like a bitch. It’s just absolute shite, from the fat-shaming of poor old Daddy Pig to the madness of why they all live on hills and where they draw the line at eating other animals? We watched hours and hours and hours of this and I dread to imagine how many brain cells perished.

Fireman Sam: I’m not 100% sure that Pontypandy isn’t the town where the Wicker Man takes place. Absolutely terrifying place where things set on fire every single day, and everyone has the Fire Brigade on speed-dial. WEIRD. Also, note that Norman Price is Fireman Sam’s illegitimate son and he’s obviously fighting those daddy issues by setting fire to things. Which gives me some serious serial killer vibes, to be honest.

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The “Actively-Skip-This-Trust-Me”:

Patchwork Pals: The episodes of Patchwork Pals are only approximately five minutes long, but I would honestly make those five minutes the time when you go to the toilet or boil the kettle or hang the washing out because it’s excruciatingly awkward to watch. In one episode, a chicken gets an egg stuck…coming out of them. And employs the help of their friends, including an elephant to help them get it out.

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HONESTLY, I’M CRYING WITH IT.

Show Me Show Me: There’s just something really weird about a grown man playing in a playground with teddy bears. It just seems wrong. All you need to know is in one episode, they were talking about kites and it sounded like something else. Every other moment of the show is irrelevant. Please find said moment here. But trust me, it really does sound like Something Else so I’d recommend being careful if you’re watching it with children in tow.

The Furchester Hotel: I’ll be honest, this is more of a personal beef. I have a deep-seated fear of Elmo that has haunted me to my very core and the thought of staying in a hotel where he just appears from nowhere shouting “ELMO” is…ugh. I’d rather stay in the hotel from The Shining and share a room with the old woman in the shower, honestly. I do applaud their rhyming skills though, as they concocted a whole song around the word “catastrophe.”

Let me know what you think of my choices, and if there’s anything you’d add or change. I’m sure you’ll thank me later when you’ve fallen down a hour-long rabbit hole of Dick and Dom in Da Bungalow.

 

Adventures: Museum Of London

Hi! How are you finding the holidays? My house is slowly descending into madness, I caught Elliot watching Masha and the Bear with audio description this morning and I genuinely felt like my nightmares were being narrated to me in minute detail.

But. Back to the topic at hand: our trip to the Museum of London.

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I am a London Geek, everything about the city intrigues me. I have been known to Google the history of random streets just to see what’s happened on them 150 years ago, I love it that much. So the Museum of London had been on my list for a long time, and I was glad to finally be able to take Elliot there for the first time yesterday.

First things first, where is it? It’s near the Barbican. We got the train to City Thameslink and wandered along (via a Boots for a meal deal) and it took about 8 minutes top. It’s also really close to Bank station and St Pauls if you’re fancy and live on a Tube line.

Elliot shielding his eyes in a random church tower we came across

Round the corner from the museum, there’s also amazing things like this church tower from about a thousand years ago. It’s a) brilliant to be able to wander around these things and b) it’s cool to see these in between all the massive glass buildings of the city. ~Juxtaposition.

When we got there, it was free entry (winner!) and they had more activity sheets available, which we collected and Elliot chose to look at the Prehistoric London gallery, so we trotted in there and saw some really cool bits, like an actual elephants foot and some horns and skulls, etc. The activites were really good as we were able to discuss things more than “LOOK AT THIS ELLIOT, IT’S SO OLD.”

Cutest moment might have been Elliot looking at a skeleton and saying “I BET SHE BRUSHED HER TEETH WITH ROCK!” That one episode of Masha and the Bear where they travel back in time is his only knowledge of the prehistoric age.

After looking at prehistoric London, Elliot got hungry so we popped outside to the Lunch Space, where you can eat your packed lunch or meal deals and planned what to do after lunch. We decided to go downstairs to look at the Galleries of Modern London. (My Classical Studies heart was a bit gutted to miss out on Roman London but…there’s always another day.)

I was genuinely surprised by the exhibits downstairs, they were really cool. My favourite bit was a Victorian street, which had a toy shop, barber shop, bank and pub on show, and you could walk along the cobbles. I showed Elliot some old toys – “no Nintendo DS here!” and we sat in the pub and imagined he’d just finished a shift as a chimney sweep and was having a cuppa tea.

A view of a Victorian shopfront in the Victorian Walk at the Museum of London.
This was the random Victorian street – very cool! Also not my photo, I was too busy repeatedly saying “Elliot, look, Elliot come back, Elliot look” to take any photos in the museum.

There’s quite a few bits for kids to get hands-on with, toy trains are always a winner! And there’s a Playtime section that’s only tiny but has a few toys in as well, so Elliot was playing with Andy Pandy and an abacus whilst I remembered just how creepy Bill and Ben truly were.

The main thing to take from this museum is: it’s empty. Maybe we just missed the busy exhibits, but everywhere we went, it wasn’t crowded and we were able to amble around and really look and enjoy everything. We weren’t pressed in anywhere – didn’t even have to queue in the toilets!

The gift shop at the end (possibly the best bit of any museum) was also really good, and had a great book selection. Elliot bought a Mr Men book and I toyed with the idea of carting a million books about suffrage, London and the plague home but thought against the idea. Dragging Elliot AND a bag of books through London is not my bag. Also, I think it’s worth noting it wasn’t MASSIVELY expensive – I thought the Mr Men book was gonna be about ¬£7, but it was only ¬£3.99, so you can get a souvenir without breaking the bank.

Elliot standing proudly on a bit of ancient city wall.

I’d definitely recommend if you’ve done all the big museums in London and are after something a bit different, and quieter!

Adventures: Coram’s Fields

It’s April, and the sun is out (occasionally, very aware I’m writing this and it’s hailing outside…)

Since the Easter holidays are stretching out ahead of us like the writing at the beginning of a Star Wars film, I thought I’d dedicate most of this month’s posts to cheap (or free) ideas for days out around London, since that’s closest to where we live.

You could almost call it ~April Adventures~ if you were feeling that way inclined.

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You could almost make it official with a title if you were feeling double fancy.

The first place I’m going to talk to you about is one of Elliot’s favourite places: Coram’s Fields.

I’ll be honest, it’s not the Alton Towers of playgrounds, so don’t go expecting the world’s best climbing frames. However, for a five year old – it’s an absolute dream. And for a parent – IT’S FREE.

Elliot adores it there and has can spend hours playing with everything. There’s a few different areas in the park, from a tall climbing frame with slides and a zip wire in one corner to a sandpit and some smaller structures in another, and Elliot at age five is the perfect size for both.

They’ve also got rabbits and a goat, which I think every park needs. All we have in the park round the corner from my house is broken glass all over the floor and a man asleep outside the garages opposite the entrance gate.

Elliot posing with an adorable bunny rabbit at Coram's Fields

Another good thing is that Coram’s Fields has the rule that adults can’t go in there without a child accompanying them – meaning you won’t get any strange characters clutching a can of Stella outside the chicken coop.

Oh, yeah – they have chickens too!

The adult-free aspect of the park is great, in my opinion, because I can give Elliot free reign, basically. (As well as no adults being allowed – there’s normally someone manning the entrance gate plus it’s very heavy so even if he made his way over to the access gate he’s not going to get out of it before I catch him.) I can plonk myself on a bench and half cheer him on as he goes down the same slide twenty times and half check Twitter for Brexit updates without feeling like a complete failure of a mother.

Elliot coming out of a tunnel slide at Coram's Fields

It’s just basically an adorable green space in Central London, in a really handy area. It’s just behind Great Ormond Street Hospital so if you ever have to go there for a hospital appointment, you can bribe your child with a trip to the playground. It’s a short walk to the British Museum, and will serve as a calming slice of quiet after the madness that is a museum during half term. It’s also not far from Kings Cross, so you can easily get home afterwards.

To complete the day, there’s also a shopping complex – the Brunswick just around the corner that has a Giraffe, Nandos and a Starbucks so is perfect for grabbing a coffee to go to the park with and also for grabbing some halloumi afterwards.

My final and possibly most important point is that the toilets at Coram’s Fields are some of the nicest public toilets I’ve been to. They’re not portaloos, they’re in an actual building and they must be regularly cleaned because they’re always in a decent state when I’ve been.

The Chicken Pox Diaries

DAY 1: Elliot has had a spot on the back of his neck since he finished school on Thursday. I thought it was a bite and paid it no attention. However, he’s just had a wee and Reece has noticed two more spots on his groin. I ignore them, hoping it’s a bite.

I have a sore throat and feel a bit sniffly, which is just adding to the general malaise of the house.

By bedtime, he’s got this manky weird blister on his forehead and I accept my fate. The pox has arrived.

I realise we have the equivalent of one dose of Calpol left in the bottle and the pharmacy over the road is already closed. (WHY?!)

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DAY 2: The spots are growing in number and some are blistering, which is rank. Reece and I take it in turns to look at Elliot’s back and grimace at each other.

I feel even worse today. I spend my morning crying and my afternoon in the Out Of Hours doctor’s getting antibiotics and coughing up yellow gunk.

Elliot spends the day making Star Wars Lego creations and shouting about how much he loves The Simpsons. He says his first swear word, thanks to Bart Simpson. Crap.

I spend £10 in Boots on some cream to soothe itching I assume Elliot will be suffering from.

DAY 3: It’s Monday. I should be at work. Reece goes to work at 8am and I hold back tears.

I assume the day will be spent watching movies and drifting in and out of sleep. That’s what chicken pox is like, right?

Elliot watches four episodes of Lego Ninjago, three episodes of Captain Underpants and 3 Lego Star Wars films before lunch.

He also proclaims he is 0% itchy all day. I look at the cream on the kitchen side and almost weep.

Reece has to stay late at work and comes in at 9pm. I am desperate for sleep, but somehow end up watching Russian Doll for three hours instead.

 

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DAY 4: Starting to feel like I’m on house arrest. Elliot is re-watching the same episodes of Captain Underpants that we sat through yesterday.

My aunt comes round and sits with Elliot for five minutes whilst I run to the Co-op for essentials: kitchen roll, toilet roll, Ben and Jerry’s Cookie Dough.

Elliot asks for the “sock in the bath” again (filled with oats because it’s apparently soothing) and goes to bed easily, saying “tomorrow I will not watch any telly, I will Just Play.” Alright pal.

I’m wary of how easy this is seeming to be.

DAY 5: Elliot wakes up and announces it is the day of No Telly. About 9am we end up watching The Tempest on CBeebies for the seventy-third time.

I have to reign myself in from obsessively checking his spots every twenty minutes to check if they’re all scabbed and we can finally be on the home stretch. I end up falling down a Google hole of kids with rank scabs on their face.

My cousins come round to play and I suddenly realise how lovely and peaceful quarantine was.

Reece goes on a work night out, has too much champagne and I end up staying up until 1am on the phone to him as he’s drunk and convinced his train is going the wrong way. (He was sat backwards.)

Not even surprised that he is more stressful that the child suffering from blisters covering 60% of his body.

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DAY 6: We have scabbed! I have never cheered at the sight of a scab before but today it’s like Christmas! Scabmas!

I finally feel like we can go outside without worrying we’ll walk past The North Kent Pregnant People And People With Compromised Immune System Congregation out on a stroll and kill them all.

We go around the block on the scooter. Elliot says the sun seems too bright and I’m genuinely in shock¬† at how warm it is out there! We quickly retreat back indoors. I open a window so he can still get a semblance of fresh air.

Can’t imagine how much money I’ve saved since we haven’t been for a daily half-term wander around Wilkinsons.

Plans to go out with my mum tomorrow are back on now he’s officially Scabbiot. So excited to see other humans!

DAY 7: Elliot wakes up and proceeds to throw all the cushions off the sofa and all the coats off the stair banister and cackle menacingly at me all morning. He’s better.

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How To Parent When You Feel Like Shit

I am so, so glad beginning-of-November Hayley got overexcited about her new laptop and wrote up approximately 6 new blog posts to get me through the month, because as soon as I pressed “schedule” on the the Gift Guide for Dads, I got struck down by a horrible illness, a bit of a cold on steroids. I ended up laying in bed for a few days and I’m still coughing like I’ve smoked 50 a day for the past 20 years.

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The only problem is – I would have loved to lay in that bed all day and all night. I craved the kind of poorly where you forget what day or what time it is, and you just stay in bed with the curtains shut, festering and watching re-runs of your favourite programs under the duvet until you can speak again. Unfortunatley, I was only able to fester between the hours of 10am – 2pm because I still had to parent around feeling like shit.

Elliot has also been under the weather, he sounds like he’s been twos-ing my 50 fags a day to be honest. So it’s been easier as we come home from school and lay on the sofa under blankets until it’s time to go to bed.

It’s Winter so I know everyone is going to feel like this at some point over the next few months, so here are my tips for getting through the slog of parenting when you feel like dog-shit.

Take it (as) easy (as you can).¬†Give instructions from your bed. I literally called Elliot to my bed of a morning with a whisper to go downstairs and eat his breakfast and then come upstairs and get dressed please. He’d then wander off, eat a banana that I’d give him and then come upstairs and get dressed whilst I laid on the bed and tried to build up the energy to put a bra on. Everyone in the playground that week was lucky I turned up looking half human as there was a definite chance I’d been asleep 20 minutes before each school run.

You don’t need to do shit.¬†I’m going to be real, my house was disgusting when I felt ill. I didn’t do any washing, dusting or cleaning at all for the whole week, I just either laid on the sofa or on the bed (or, one morning I turned our sofa into a bed and really treated myself to a luxurious episode of Homes Under The Hammer). Elliot ate sandwiches for dinner every day (God bless school dinners!) and generally plodded around by himself whilst I was tapped out. I did start to feel guilty towards the end of the week so we did read a few books together and had one painful game of Monopoly that I conceded because I couldn’t actually speak the words anymore.

Surround yourself with everything you love.¬†No, I don’t mean your cousins and grandparents around your bedside holding your hands. I mean, get yourself a cup of tea, and biscuits if you can manage to eat them and settle down in your favourite pyjamas and slippers and watch your favourite shows. We’ve all got comfy shows, I think, that we watch when we’re feeling rubbish. Mine are oddly police dramas so I’ve spent a week watching Luther and Whitechapel on the sofa, but it’s each to their own. Unless you like The Big Bang Theory, in which case I’m going to judge you hard.

Pick your battles.¬†There is no point in arguing with your child about what socks they are going to wear when you feel like you’ve got razorblades in your throat. They want to watch Boss Baby on Netflix for five episodes in a row? Let them go for it. The other 51 weeks of the year when you’re healthy I’m sure you’d do some wholesome activities and as long as you croak out their spellings on a Friday morning then I’m sure everyone will forgive you for the lack of banana bread you made this week. (This is legit from personal experience, as I was getting ingredients out to make gingerbread men on Sunday afternoon and then thought “no. I feel too shit for this” and the world did not end. We just put the My Little Pony Movie on again and Elliot had a jammy dodger instead.)

Don’t be a martyr.¬†This is literally a note to myself as I battled through the week when I was poorly and should have stayed in bed. I went on a bloody school trip to the library, ffs. I went back to work when I wasn’t very well and ended up giving the lurgy to someone I work with and I’ve still got the horrible cough three weeks on. It’s knackering and I wish I’d taken the chances when Elliot was at school when I felt proper dreadful to actually rest. But it’s like when kids are tiny and all the advice you get is “sleep when baby sleeps!” and you laugh it off like “haha! sleep? I’m fine, I have so much to do I’ll sleep some other time” and then three days later you end up crying into a jacket potato at 11pm because the baby isn’t sleeping and your life has fallen apart. Just take my advice, go to bed. Lay on the sofa during nap time, don’t rush around getting jobs done when the kids are at school. Just rest. You’ll feel so much better so much quicker and it saves a lot of hassle.