sick tsunami.

We’ve had a bug this weekend. A nasty, horrible, sick-inducing bug.

I think, well I know, that it started mid-week with Henry…who was ridiculously sick all over everything but was then, by some strange miracle, totally fine. Ruby then sat on the sofa all afternoon on Friday, subdued and not her usual self complaining that she felt poorly.

And then came the sick.

Bucketloads of sick.

Luckily I dodged the bullet on cleaning it up as she was fantastic and ran to the toilet before any of the sick actually came out. The poor thing was a little traumatised by it all, but not more so than her Daddy who was completely baffled by how much sick can come from one so small.

We were due to travel to Aberystwyth this weekend to visit Mr O’s brother, his new wife and the youngest Oliphant and his fiancée were coming along too for a right proper catch-up. So, being generally very excited about a weekend with our brothers (wine, chat, good times!) I shrugged off the sick-fest and packed the weekend bag ready to set off bright and early on Saturday morning.

And then came more sick.

But this time the sick was from me.

Now, I know that I am not alone in severely disliking being sick. I mean, who actually enjoys it, right!? But this?! This I really did not enjoy. I cannot believe how sick I was.

Nevertheless, I spent a whole day in bed on Saturday determined to feel much better in the morning so that we could drive to Wales to see everyone on Sunday. How utterly naive of me.

Those with older children, or those that have tackled a bug before, feel free to chuckle at this point – because on Saturday night things got even worse. We literally had no idea what was coming!!

Henry wouldn’t sleep. We’d tried all the usual tricks except for the one where I stand and cuddle and rock him until he goes dopey…because I literally couldn’t stand up for more than a minute without feeling like I was going to die (how we thought I would be better in the morning I have no idea!). Eventually, through some minor miracle he finally went to sleep, so we breathed a sigh of relief and I planned to shift myself off to bed to try to feel better for Wales.

And then came even more sick.

A sick tsunami.

More sick than either of us put together have ever seen. In our lives.

“Muuuuuuuuuumy! Mummy, I’ve been sick in my bed!”

Oh bloomin’ heck.

Poor Ruby was covered head to toe in sick, and her bedroom looked like a scene from The Exorcist. And then Henry woke up screaming.

So, I showered the little sick monster with one hand whilst I bounced Henry on my hip, all the while trying not to be sick again myself and trying to make light of what was a pretty manky situation. She was crying because she realised pretty quickly that this was definitely the end of our plans to go to Wales and Henry was just looking at me as if this was the funniest thing he’d seen so far in his short little life.

She has woken up today completely fine. I however am still feeling like something that was dragged up from the pits of hell, and the fact that I haven’t been able to eat all weekend has made things even worse as I feel so lethargic and fuggy.

Spoiled plans really upset me, especially plans that I have been really looking forward to. We don’t get to see Mr O’s brothers very often, and so the fact that we’ve not been able to see them (and still haven’t been to Aber even though Drew has been there for a VERY long time) has made me feel very upset. We must, must get a new date in the diary, and soon.

Thankfully, this time round, Mr O hasn’t picked up the bug so he has been wonderful looking after the children. There are little parcels of left-over food that will never be eaten all over my poor fridge, the sitting room is a disaster zone, the children look feral and I’ve heard nothing but moaning about how hard it all is from him – but yes, he has been wonderful whilst I’ve been sobbing, whinging and generally moaning about the fact that I’m poorly sick.

Oh well, another week starts tomorrow – August already!

Speak soon x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

that awful noise.

 

 

Henry Graeme Oliphant is a happy, smiley, chatty baby boy who loves nothing more than giggling and playing with his sister and his mummy and daddy.

Or at least Henry Graeme Oliphant WAS all of these things up until a couple of weeks ago!

When you’re on baby number two, it’s easy to slip into a state of forgetfulness. You forget just how needy babies are. You forget about sleep regression. You forget about mood swings, especially as they start to get more active and more interested in things but have no way of communicating their needs to you.

Essentially you totally forget how to be the parent of a baby. It’s often like you’ve never even had a baby. Your eldest (if you’ve left an age gap like we have) has become somewhat independent and so, truth be told, it’s like this one is your first. Like you’re the inexperienced, crazy, anxious mummy you were the first time round. What a lovely gift from nature that is.

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Can I have this happy chappy back please?!

I’m not 100% sure exactly what is wrong with our lovely boy at the moment, as I’m still trying to figure that out (teeth? weather? nursery sessions? jealousy?) but what I do know is that the noise he is making every single minute of every single day when he isn’t in my arms is the stuff of nightmares. Like the noise they would play during an interrogation. Torture for a life lived badly, haha! 

The poor little mite is having a tough time, and all he wants is mummy cuddles. But then, sometimes, I’m sure all he actually wants is to moan because I pick him up and he still doesn’t shut up.

To be fair to him, there’s a lot going on over at Oliphantum at the moment…and Ruby is going through a very needy phase due to the fact that school is gaining on us faster than any of us care to recognise, so she refuses to leave him alone and that makes him mad.

I wish he could tell me how he feels. I wish I could make it all better for him.

And I wish he would quit with that bloomin awful noise.

Going through something similar at the moment? Any pearls of wisdom to share with me? I’d love to hear from you!

Speak soon x

 

 

 

the fly.

We have a fly.

He’s been here so long now that I feel he is a plant. He is definitely a spy. He just has to be. He is literally a fly on the wall.

Why else would he insist on staying? Why else would he buzz around the same couple of rooms relentlessly, when there are plenty of open windows for him to buzz off through!?

Maybe he wants some friends? Maybe he is the runt of the litter (much like our cat was, bless her) and has seen how cool it is to be part of our gang? Or perhaps, like me, he is blind as a bat without his contact lenses and he has no idea where the heck he is?!

Whatever it is that keeps him here, I find myself wishing that he would lose interest and just sod off.

Perpetual buzzing.

Endless flapping and swatting.

Ruby screaming at it to buzz off. And then screaming at me when the fly does not actually heed her instructions (hmmm, sounds familiar!).

Henry twitching when it lands on his head. Swatting at some seemingly invisible issue that he cannot fathom, making him just that little bit paranoid!

I am just not down with it any more.

Be gone fly. Be gone!!

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Not actually the actual fly

 

 

nice to see you, summer.

So, it seems like summer has finally made an appearance on our shores. I can tell, mainly, because chaps that really shouldn’t walk around with no tops on are out there, flaunting their gross tattoos and/or beer bellies, as if they have never felt such heat and simply cannot possibly wear a t-shirt!

We spent a lot of time down at the park this week. And it was good.

Beacon Park is a really good park. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve played on better…it’s no Witton Park (for the northerners reading!) but it’s good. And even better since they upgraded a few years ago.

Our children love it there. Henry probably loves it because there is a swing, so he could be anywhere really, but Ruby would always choose the “pirate ship park” over any other in this lovely little city of ours.

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To swing is the thing…

There are two main areas to the park, one for under 11’s which features the “pirate ship”, funky rocking chickens, swings, slides and a climb aboard choo chop train that kids love…and though there’s no actual skull and crossbones on the ship it’s always been known as a pirate ship, and woe betide anyone who challenges Ruby on that one!

I was desperate for an ice cream this week. I wasn’t desperate to share that ice cream with Henry, but inevitably I had to! Payback was mine however when he took a massive bite and ended up with baby brain freeze and sore teeth, mwahahaha!

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Right before the brainfreeze

I got used to applying suncream to wriggling, screaming children a long time ago (my nephew was king of squiggling…thanks Jacob!) but Henry is a different breed.

I think he does it on purpose.

Every time I got the suncream out on holiday he would start. Screams, wriggling, hitting…if he could walk, he would do everything possible to run away. And now we’re back he’s no different. Except in this country it’s harder as he’s usually in the pram or he’s fully clothed. Grrrrr!

Anyhoo, I’ve managed to get him in the eye each and every time this week. So he now has even more of an aversion to ye old suncream. Sigh!

Watching all the folks in the park it’s nice to see (and hear) the workings of normal family life. Yelling your child’s name across the park is not just something I do…and catching them trying to make a break for it isn’t either.

Neither is lugging a bag rammed full of crap, as I discovered chatting to Ruby’s best friends Dad today. Inevitably full of spare clothes, food, drinks, bobbles, plasters, hand cream, bottom cream, antiseptic cream, more cream, food, more food and WIPES I wonder when we’ll ever get to walk around care free again!?

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Summer birthday parties

Still, we must make the most of it…the immortal words of parents everywhere. Make the most of it before the bloomin rain comes back!

And so, all being well, we’ll be back at the park again this week.

Fancy joining us?! Share your park stories in the comments or on Instagram or Facebook with #oliphantumparklife

Speak soon x

 

little losses.

Thursday was a very busy day for us this week.

We’re preparing Ruby for what’s to come this September. And by this I mean “big school”. Primary School. Reception Class.

I, like every other parent who’s child is about to make this very big leap I’m sure, just cannot quite believe that it’s time for this already. And I actually feel quite sad about it all for a number of different reasons, but mainly for the many different little losses that we’re about to suffer.

At 9.15am on this very busy of days, we dropped Ruby off for her longest ‘stay and play’ session yet. She would have 2 hours of play and settling in time with her new classmates at St. Chads before we would join her for lunch in the school hall.

The first loss. The loss of our Thursdays together. Once she starts school, the 3 years of spending each and every Thursday together having fun and visiting friends will be over.

11.30am came along and we queued with Ruby behind all the other little people to wait for our lunch, all the while desperately trying to push the thought of her having to manage to do this all by herself in just a few short months out of my head.

She chose vegetable pasta bake and chocolate cake and opted for a cup of water, and as I watched her do all this and then concentrate so hard on getting to a table without dropping it I was so proud, but also acutely aware of another little loss.

The second loss. The loss of her needing me for big things like this. Soon she won’t need me anymore. Not even to do the difficult things.

Once lunch was over and she’d had a little chat with the teacher (the lady with the blonde hair, as she’s known!) we hopped off to pre-school for Graduation Day.

Humpty Dumpty Day Nursery and Pre-School has pretty much been Ruby’s second home since the age of 12 months when I had to return to work after maternity leave. It’s probably not right to admit that but, just as we spend more time at work than at home, if we have to return to work then our children spend a great deal of their lives in childcare settings. Getting it right is therefore essential.

Humpties is a fantastic nursery. And the pre-school is brilliant for Ruby. She has loved it there, and formed some super special friendships…Erin, Luca, Hannah, Jamie…these are the first real friends she has ever had.

The third loss. The loss of the most lovely little group of friends that my daughter has become so attached to. The friends that have helped her to develop and prepare for the big wide world.

How she will get over the loss of Erin especially I do not know. Her best, best friend for years now Erin will be heading to a different school…and I don’t know yet if it’s quite clicked that she won’t be seeing her every day any more. These two are the most beautiful, funny little friends you ever will see. The troublesome twosome that are actually so good for each other, laugh great big belly laughs at each other and help each other with everything. It will definitely be our responsibility to ensure they carry on seeing each other as the years tick by.

Me being me, I honestly didn’t see the point in a Graduation Day. Another Americanism creeping on in. Graduating nursery seemed pretty silly. But I was more than happy to be proved wrong as I watched the little ones accepting their scrolls and posing for photos with the staff before raiding the sweetie bar and laughing their bellies off at the comedy magician. It was a truly special afternoon. It made me laugh. It made me cry.

One of the wonderful things about nursery and pre-school I guess, is that as a parent you’re still so involved in everything. I stand there every afternoon when I collect her listening to what she’s been doing throughout the day; what she’s eaten, who she’s played with. And it dawns on me that come September I won’t get any of that information anymore…

The fourth loss. The loss of almost total knowledge about my daughter. No longer will I get to find out everything about her day…instead it will just be the bits of information she feels necessary to tell me. I’ll sit there every evening desperate to know what’s been happening, how she’s been feeling, who she has played with. And I can only hope that she’ll still want to tell me!

September will come around so quickly now that the summer is here (ha! there’s a laugh!) and as I sit here thinking of all these little losses, all of the incredibly exciting bits are popping into my head too…

  1. Learning to read – Ruby is so excited to learn to read so that we can “read the bestest stories together”
  2. Learning to write – so “I can write down all the stories in my head Mummy”
  3. Making new friends – I think she is most excited about this one
  4. School uniform – Ruby can’t wait to pull on the St Chads cardigan we’re buying for her. I can’t wait to see her in pinafore dresses, summer dresses and frilly white socks!
  5. School trips – she saw a class on a school trip to the zoo when we went for her birthday and got so excited about where she might go with her class
  6. Growing up – because, whilst I would happily keep her as my baby forever, growing up is so exciting and I cannot wait to see the wonderful little girl she becomes.

Maybe it won’t be so bad after all.

Maybe it will even be fun.

Speak soon, x

 

 

a holiday for four.

Way back at the start of the year we booked a holiday.

We hadn’t seen that beautiful ball of light that they call the sun for almost 2 years, and we were weary. So, after much searching of t’internet and many, many disagreements over destination, type of room (sea view/not sea view etc.) and board type, we settled on Tenerife and the Gran Hotel Roca Nivaria through Thomson.

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At the time of booking we didn’t even think about it, but as the day of departure arrived to say we were worried about the flights would be an understatement as it’s four and a half hours on the way out and just under four hours on the return leg. Mr O and I have travelled pretty extensively (New Zealand, Mexico, Bali, KL, New York…) and so we’re used to long journey’s on planes, but the children?! Oh the children, yes!

We popped said children into the car at 5.15am on Monday 4th July with the intention that they would sleep all the way to Manchester Airport, where we’d booked the Meet & Greet service – something I would definitely recommend if you’re travelling with small children, as it’s not that much more expensive than normal parking and you’re literally over the road from the terminal, so no waiting for airport bus services or wrangling children and cases on and off!

In reality, the journey was spent continuously asking Ruby to go back to sleep and listening to Henry gurgle and chat to himself.

So, we arrived a bit more dishevelled and tired than expected but thankfully it didn’t cause too many problems on the flight and the looks of fear from people sat in our immediate vicinity soon turned to smiles once they realised that they weren’t going to have to listen to screaming for the whole flight!

Once we arrived in Tenerife we had a private transfer over to the hotel, which was so good as I really didn’t fancy the usual stuffy coach journey after travelling all that way with the smalls.

Henry was shattered and Ruby was restless…so as soon as we arrived at the hotel we went to the room for a rest and to unpack.

I had totally forgotten that we had booked a Superior Double Room, so I was mightily excited when we opened the door and were greeted by a huge room with our own private terrace overlooking the sea…amazing doesn’t even cover it. Very, very lucky indeed!

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We took our time exploring the hotel and its grounds…and tried to get the children used to our new surroundings – which was a lot easier for Ruby than for Henry it has to be said.

The week was spent lounging on sunbeds, playing in the pool, drinking copious amounts of cocktails (oops!) and generally laughing and having lots of fun. It was the best holiday and we really were so pleased with this hotel.

We loved the pool areas in particular. There were two huge pools (both infinity), one salt-water and heated and the other non salt-water and definitely not heated! It was absolutely freezing and so, whilst it was the nicer pool in our opinion, we mainly stayed at the top pool and the baby pool as they were just better for the children.

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As you already know, food is very important to us Oliphants…so it was a real relief that the 5* status of the hotel transferred over to the food. There are two a la carte restaurants to choose from at Roca Nivaria (one Spanish and one Italian) and a main buffet restaurant serving different themed food each and every night. Lunch was at the pool bar every day and was equally as great as the evening meals with delicious traditional Canarian food alongside the usual stuff that they have to serve to keep everyone happy (Ruby saw chicken nuggets and was happy!).

Henry didn’t eat anything much all week really, which was quite worrying at first. I don’t think that the heat agreed with him at all. He was grumbly and grouchy all week and was sick a couple of times. Poor little lamb seemed to thoroughly enjoy himself when he wasn’t grumbling though…which is just as well, as we couldn’t get up and just go home!

There was always plenty of room by the pool (even with the dreaded towel warriors reserving their sunbeds at 6am and then not appearing until gone 11am!) and on the days when it was really hot and sunny we either chased the shade with the parasol or made great use of the fantastic Mini Club that the hotel lays on free of charge for all its guests.

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Mini Club was something new entirely for us…nursery in the sun!? What a marvellous idea! I knew that I’d been to Mini Clubs when I was little (which I now understand all too well, haha!) but I had thought I had been a lot older. Ruby has just turned 4 and was thrilled at the idea of ditching her parents for a few hours a day to rock with her newly formed little friends…whilst we sat there sunken hearted at the thought of being abandoned!

She absolutely loved it, and went pretty much every morning – but we kept the afternoons to ourselves and used them to swim with her, eat ice cream and explore the hotel grounds…including the private black sand beach, which she fell in love with.

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Now, if you know me you’ll know that I hate sand. Always have, always will. Doesn’t matter if it’s sand in Mexico or sand in Blackpool…it gets everywhere, it hurts your feet and it scratches your skin and will not go away when you try to wipe yourself off after a swim in the sea. I hate it.

But thankfully Ruby does not share this hatred.

In fact, she told me to stop being silly and just get on the sand and down to the sea.

The beach at Roca Nivaria is accessed through the back of the hotel and then either a long walkway or a short lift journey. Needless to say we chose the short lift journey and had a whale of a time exploring the beach and watching the waterfall near the palm trees (I then showered everyone off whether they wanted to be showered off or not!).

We spent our evenings eating and dancing at Mini Disco, or watching the great entertainment provided by the hotel. There are two different bars at the hotel, both serving well known brands of alcohol that are all included on the all-inclusive deal, and freshly mixed cocktails too…amazing! And I can strongly recommend the mojito. And the tequila sunrise. And the sidecar.

Hmmmmm, I think I enjoyed the cocktails!

I took every opportunity to dress up of an evening. When I remember holidays as a child I remember thinking how posh it all was. How exciting it was to get ready for a meal in the hotel restaurant, Dad putting on smart trousers and a shirt and Mum getting all glammed up in a lovely dress.

We would put real effort into making it special.

I really dislike it when people turn up to dinner in their swimmers, or a t-shirt that they have been wearing all day. Put some effort in people! A holiday usually only comes once a year…make it special!

And we did. We made it special.

Thanks Roca Nivaria for a wonderful time. It truly was the best holiday we have had in some time, and we won’t be forgetting it in a hurry.

 

Note: We weren’t given anything in return for this blog post, this is just my honest opinion of a fantastic family holiday. Some photos are supplied courtesy of Adrian Hoteles.

 

a (small) world of fun.

We didn’t know anything about Lichfield when we moved here in 2006. In fact, I hadn’t even seen the place before the decision was made. Mr O had received a job offer and accepted and, since we knew we were “for real, forever” we sort of just decided that we’d live in Lichfield as he’d been there for a visit and it just felt nice (I know, right!?).

When we first moved down in 2006, the Lichfield Festival was therefore a wonderful surprise. This tiny city, which is basically in the middle of nowhere (yet so connected to the whole country…how fabulous!) has a multi-arts festival every July that lasts a whole 10 days and attracts some of the most brilliant names in music, comedy, art, theatre…

Over the year’s we’ve dabbled in so many parts of the festival. We’ve seen acts we never thought we would like, let alone see. And that’s the beauty of it. Everything is relatively reasonably priced, and so accessible. The venues are places you already know, and love, and are easy to get to…plus, they are usually a few steps from a great restaurant or bar!

It’s been so much more difficult to get to some of the events we’d have loved to go to since having the children, but now Ruby is a bit older we’re looking forward to introducing her to the awesome child-friendly parts of the festival…like Mimika Theatre, whose wonderful ‘Small Worlds’ performance I took her to on Sunday afternoon at The George Hotel in Lichfield city centre.

Small Worlds was described to us as an “extraordinary fusion of digital animation and puppetry. A 50 minute non-verbal performance that all takes place inside a beautiful, white calico dome”.

The Calico Dome

The calico dome.

It was extraordinary. Ruby sat so still (which meant that she was really interested), and at times was completely in awe of what was unfolding in front of her eyes. I won’t give too much away, just in case you make the (very fantastic) decision to go and see it yourself, but suffice to say she loved it.

From my perspective, the puppeteering and the elegance of the sound and visuals took my breath away. I loved the storytelling; one day, one place, five different stories…all beautifully intertwined and so accessible for the small children that were sat cross-legged on the floor open mouthed, asking beautiful questions, laughing and gasping and generally enjoying every second.

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The girl’s story.

Inside the Mimika Tent

The fox.

As children my brother and I were blessed with parents who seized opportunities to take us to performances, concerts, all sorts of things that would broaden horizons, make us think, give us new and different experiences…they even threw us into performances (being a chicken at the age of 2 is an interesting experience!) to give us confidence, but most of all so that we could have fun. And I want to do exactly the same for our children.

Storytelling is so very important – even the made up stories that Ruby concocts after a day of play are vital to learning, development and a childhood full of fun.

I will never stop telling them stories, and I will never stop seeking out opportunities for them to have fun.

If you’d like to find out more about Mimika Theatre, you can read a full explanation of the ‘Small Worlds’ experience by clicking this link.

Find out more about The Lichfield Festival here.

Photo’s courtesy of The Lichfield Festival.