being female.

“Mummy, Mummy! I just saw a lady riding a motorbike. Completely on her own!”

And these aren’t the only words that Ruby has said recently that make me wonder what is actually going on with the world?!

Why is it that what is absolutely nothing to me (of course a woman can ride a motorbike on her own!), is so shocking to my five year old daughter?

“That man is wearing a pink shirt.”

“Henry is playing with my dolls”

“I can’t play football, don’t be silly”

“That is not for me, it’s for a boy!”

I have always tried to avoid gender stereotypes with both of my children, but never made a big deal of it. I put Ruby in babygrows with colours that are traditionally thought of as ‘boys colours’, I buy Henry dolls because he likes them, I let Ruby run around in the mud, climb trees and razz around on her bike. Because that is what she enjoys doing!

I work. Pretty much full time. I worked all the way through both of my hyperemesis-filled pregnancies. I walk into male-dominated property industry meetings every day and smash them. I love football and rugby. And so does my husband. He works full time. We share chores (granted, I do most of the housework) and he cooks and takes care of both of them just as much as I do.

So why is it that she still has a warped view of what it is to be female?

Is it in-built? Is it people at school?

It certainly doesn’t come from me, or from any of our family members – two of her wonderfully clever, talented and totally empowered Aunties bought the same book for her for Christmas – “Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls”.

Showing me that they share my desire to raise Ruby knowing that being female is more than fluff and flounce, more than giggles and boys, more than having babies and keeping house.

Not that any of those things are bad. Quite the opposite in fact. Anyone who knows me knows that. Nothing is better than getting dressed up and going out for drinks and giggling with your girls!

But I want her to grow up knowing that to be female is to be strong. To be miraculous. To be brave.

To be anything she wants to be and do absolutely anything that she wants to do.

So when she says things like she said this morning about the woman riding the motorbike, I will always turn back and tell her exactly this:

Yes, Ruby. Women can do anything they want to do. We are amazing.

And we truly are.

#proud

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screaming.

Does anyone have the instruction manual for a child? Mine is lost and the volume control is broken!

I am at the end of my tether.

Actually about to burst, run away or surgically remove my ears to get away from it.

What’s the ‘it’? I hear you say.

The ‘it’?

The ‘it’ is the almost constant ear piercing shriek of my five and a half year old. And the copycat that is her little brother.

No matter what the situation, be it happy and jolly or blood pressure raising, the volume is off the scale.

You can hear her from down the street as you walk up the path after a long day at work.

You can hear her screaming when she is in the car and you are in the house.

You can even hear her when you are fully submerged under the bath water trying to (drown yourself) relax after yet another jam packed weekend.

I kid you not.

I don’t know how teachers cope.

Do they end up deaf at a really young age? Permanently popping Ibuprofen to get rid of the constant headache caused by 30+ immensely loud small people every single day?

I used to want to be a teacher.

I think I have changed my mind based on this factor alone – the endless mounds of paperwork and targets would be a breeze in comparison!

I cannot recall the exact number of times I have asked for less noise, the use of an “inside voice” or even as simple an instruction as no screaming. But these phrases are certainly a major part of my repertoire, and quite frankly I am fed up of it.

I am a nag.

I am a bore.

All for the want of a life without a permanent headache.

Is there a point when the incessant screaming stops? Please tell me that there is, and that it’s soon!

In the meantime, share your tales of woe and tips of wonder with me…please!

the test.

We are definitely being tested right now.

Someone, somewhere thinks it’s time to give us a right good kick up the backside.

It’s like they’re saying, “Oh, so you think you’re having a good time!? Here’s ten tonnes of melodrama, stroppy almost five year old and a whole heap of guilt just to ice that cake of yours!”

Thanks for that. Whoever you are.

Ok, so I’m being dramatic.  

I guess the first thing to say is that I know my daughter is not naughty.

I know full well that she is a gem, and that she is so lovely.

So the next thing to say then is this…

How do you discipline someone who is, on the whole, really lovely, when all of a sudden they start constantly doing things to upset their little brother? When they just refuse to listen? When they backchat you all the time? 

Yesterday I tried some discipline. Yesterday I followed through on the threat to send Ruby to her room if she continued being naughty and didn’t eat her dinner properly as she had been asked to.

And my word. The tantrum that ensued was immense.

Immense.

I instantly felt absolutely awful. Like the worst Mummy in the world.

What had she actually done wrong? Was I overreacting? Had I made a mountain out of a molehill?

I am still questioning myself, even now, 24 hours after “the incident”.

Because this is what being a parent does to you.

The worst thing about it all was that when she had actually calmed down and I started to talk with her about what had happened and why I have to start following through on punishments with her, was what she said to me.

She wailed, “But all I ever want to do is make you happy. And all you do is yell at me.”

Is this true? Have I become the worst Mummy in the world? Are the thoughts I have at the back of my mind actually true?

I cried.

I cried in-front of my daughter.

And I hugged her and squeezed her and told her the following:

“I love you. I love you more than I have loved anything or anyone in the whole entire world. I love you so much that sometimes my heart feels like it will burst. You also make me more cross than I feel I have ever been. Not because you are naughty, but because I want to do the best job of being your Mummy that I possibly can. So that you can become the best grown-up that you possibly can.”

Her breathing became slower and we hugged even closer.

“It’s not your job to make me happy. It’s my job to make sure you are happy. To keep you safe and to show you how to be the best Ruby that you can possibly be. Do you think I would be doing a good job of being a Mummy to you if I just let you do all those things that are naughty, or dangerous or mean to Henry?

She said no, and that she understood.

And we hugged even closer and I told her I loved her some more.

This kind of thing doesn’t happen very often. In fact it’s really rare that she is this “naughty”. Like I said, I know my daughter is a lovely little girl.

So when it does happen I find it difficult. Really difficult.

Parenting is no easy ride, and whilst it’s fair to say that we chose to put ourselves in this situation, it’s also fair to say that sometimes? Sometimes it is so hard work. And that’s alright. It’s fine to think like that. 

Her behaviour is testing us to our limits at the moment. But we crack on, and today has been a much better day.  

We are doing the best we possibly can, and hopefully in years to come when all this is a memory and I am wishing, wishing, wishing that we could have this time back again she will understand that she is the most precious thing to me.

I love you Ruby Roo.

Always.

 

the days after.

Children are resilient, they said.

They bounce back so quickly, they said.

And…thank goodness, but it seems they were right!

Henry’s operation and subsequent time in recovery took all of 40 minutes. He was back in my arms before I’d even had a chance to finish my Costa Coffee hot chocolate in the strange little cafe at the entrance to Queen’s Hospital, Burton.

The hospital at which I’ve had (too) many a stay, at which Ruby was born, Henry was born, treated for meningitis and the hospital that I wished we’d never have to return to.

He cried so much when he woke from surgery that I could hear the theatre nurse bringing him to us from the other side of the hospital. I grabbed him and held him so close, and he clung to me so tightly I was certain I’d never let go.

After a mammoth sleep of 1.5 hours in my arms (if I’d known he was going to sleep that long I would have sat on the bed…my bum was so numb!) he woke up and demanded a biscuit. And that’s when I knew that everything would be alright!

After 10.5 hours without food or water, the bottomless pit then proceeded to consume the world’s biggest banana, an entire pack of Mini Cheddars, 2 x digestive biscuits and a ham sandwich along with about 4 Tippee cups of water!

Definitely alright.

After he’d finished his feast he grabbed his coat and made a run for it. Seriously. He was out of the door and saying goodbye to the nurses before we knew what was happening!

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We were exhausted. He was on cloud nine.

So we brought him home.

Our baby yelled for his sister the minute we pulled onto the drive, and she was thrilled to have him back.

He had a good night of sleep, only woken by Ruby who was crying so much after a bad dream where a cat was biting her bottom (no idea what that’s about!?) and seemed perfectly fine. Until we had to administer his drops.

The poor thing screamed and cried and desperately tried to wriggle away from me. 3-4 drops 3 times per day to try and help his ears heal and to get rid of the infection that the surgeon found whilst in there adding the grommets.

But, two hours later he was back on fighting form, hiding in the toy box, shouting at Ruby, running around the house and generally being a tinker…

It will take him time to fully recover. I know that.

He spent much of the first evening after the op cuddled into me, crying when I left the room and resisting sleep – almost scared to drift off, perhaps a hang up from the operation? Something isn’t quite right as he just will not let you leave him, when normally he would snuggle his monkey and drift off without issue (most of the time!!). 

I really hope that putting him through this procedure proves to be the right thing to have done.

We’ll see in three months time, I guess, as that’s the next time we need to see the consultant. 

Cross your fingers folks!

 Until then I’m taking every opportunity for extra snuggles and cuddling him in close. 

the waiting game.

Tomorrow our son, Henry, goes into hospital for an operation.

When he was just 3 months old Henry contracted Bacterial Meningitis (read about it and learn the signs & symptoms here…), which was horrific to put it mildly.

Thankfully, he came out of it the other side relatively unscathed.

However, at a routine post-Meningitis hearing check, the Audiology team discovered a hearing loss and, six tests later, that hearing loss isn’t getting any better.

So tomorrow, Henry heads into surgery to have grommets inserted.

Grommets are, for anyone that is wondering, very small tubes (like cotton reels) that help to drain away excess fluid building up in the middle ear.

Here’s a helpful handy diagram to show you exactly what I mean!*

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We’re hopeful that the grommets will drain away the fluid and that he will then pass his hearing tests – as the Audiology team believe that it’s the pressure of the fluid that is causing his hearing loss.

And, to be honest, that’s what I’m banking on – because otherwise, it’s likely that the Meningitis has damaged Henry’s hearing and so, if he doesn’t pass after the grommets have fallen out then we’ll need to consider hearing aids for him – and that, being completely honest, for some reason, makes me feel very uneasy.

Now, in my rational mind I know that this is a simple and straightforward procedure.

I know that he will be fine. That it’s routine and done hundreds of times a week. And that if, after it all he needs hearing aids then that is NOT a problem.

But yet I still feel like my world is spinning.

I feel sick. I’m worried. I’m nervous. I’m tired.

So, so tired.

Henry on the other hand, thankfully, is full of beans. He’s his usual belligerent self, shouting at his sister, raiding the fridge any chance he gets and stomping about the place wittering on to himself and anyone that will listen (and pretend to understand what he’s going on about!).

Tomorrow is unknown. I don’t have a clue what to expect. And I think that’s half of the problem.

I am, as you now know, a planner.

I’m strengthened by structure, and lists, and details.

Tomorrow makes me VERY nervous.

Once again, I’ll be on that ward.
The ward I had really hoped we’d never have to return to.

And once again, my baby will be handed off to someone else to take care of.

My control of the situation will be gone and, for a short time, so will my beautiful, smiley, happy son.

If you have any experience of this, or you can offer any pearls of wisdom to help me through then please feel free to comment.

Here’s to a quick and easy procedure, and to never having to go through this again!

But for now, we wait…

Speak soon,
K x

*Image supplied by afairgo.net

the last days of summer.

I was originally planning to be all “I don’t particularly care what people are saying, summer hasn’t ended just yet” and chat about the fact that technically it’s not over until later in the month.

However, having woken up this morning shivering, looking through the window at torrential rain and to a baby literally covered head to toe in poo (I guess the Lactulose has finally worked) I am pretty resigned to the fact that we have probably already had the last few days of summer.

Sigh.

All things considered, the small amount of summer that we have had has included some lovely times, like our holiday to Tenerife, trips out, visits to and from family and friends and our many child related adventures!

But, with Ruby starting school this coming week things have been a bit fractious of late, and so our efforts to make this summer one to remember for her have gone a bit pear-shaped to be honest. Think screaming, curly haired tantrums when daddy drives the car but she wanted mummy to drive and peas being thrown in every direction because she wanted carrots and you’re close to (never really) understanding our four year old and how draining the last few weeks have been.

So, last weekend, spontaneously wanting to “make the most” of those precious last few days of summer we took the children to Calke Abbey, a beautiful National Trust property in Derbyshire.

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It’s dubbed the ‘un-stately home’ as the owners were ruined and simply didnt look after the house because they couldn’t afford to (who could!?). The NT have kept it in its shabby state but work hard to preserve it just as it was left…but I just know this from snatched glimpses at fact sheets and hearing snippets of the video about the house because I’ve never actually been in the place! Nope. Don’t be daft. There’s a playground and sheep to see instead!

I thought it would be a great day…we walked round the parkland spotting deer, but Ruby thought that was boring. We climbed trees and did muddy puddle jumping, but Ruby thought that just wasn’t fun enough. We had a picnic overlooking one of the nicest views in the whole estate, which Ruby actually did enjoy because it included food, and we spent time doing crafts and playing in the play stables…which didn’t last long enough and ended in yet another tantrum.

Everyone suffers the rage of a four year old at some point in time, I know we’re not the only ones. And I know that Ruby is really no different to the other four year olds out there and, whilst it wasnt the idyllic day I had imagined it would be, it was time spent together as a family and, considering the weather this weekend I am glad that we took the opportunity for one last effort at some summer fun.

Carrying Henry round on my back could have been the biggest mistake of the summer yet for me though!

In a nutshell I’m now resigned to the fact that summer is over and that school is just around the corner and so I have taken the (wise or stupid, I’ll decide later!) decision to spend the next few days just with Ruby.

We’re basically going to do all the fun stuff I wish we’d done earlier in the summer…whether it’s raining or not! 

And we’re also doing the bits and pieces she has wanted to do but that we haven’t had a chance to…including Finding Dory at the cinema, which basically means I’ll be a blubbering mess by 2pm tomorrow.

Great.

Summer, thanks for popping by, you’ve been interesting. Here’s to next year!

Speak soon, x

soft play cafe.

Since Ruby was born in 2012 and all things child-related came onto our radar, it became strikingly obvious that Lichfield was lacking in small people “stuff”.

More often than not you’d get tutted at, stared at or groaned at for trying to squeeze a pram into an already packed cafe so that you could escape the house for a moment and feel like a normal human being after a morning of non-stop screaming from the tiny human you’d just brought into the world (“if in doubt, go out” and all that).

We’ve been concocting plans for a fabulous, not overly pricey, clean, safe, child-friendly cafe with lovely food and brilliant staff ever since…but it’s always been a pipe-dream and we were never actually ever going to be able to realise it and neither was anyone else.

Then, just this week, along came Little Green Frog Cafe!

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Located in the centre of Lichfield as part of Three Spires Shopping Centre and open daily from 8.30am – 4.30pm, the cafe opens officially on Tuesday 30th August but we were treated to a special sneak preview this weekend.

It’s a superb idea, and a wonderful execution by the super friendly owner-managers Ben and Debs and their team. The light, bright and welcoming cafe is a great size…you don’t feel like you’re sitting on top of anyone and the play zones have been carefully planned to cater perfectly for smalls from around 18 months to 5 years.

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Henry snoozed for the majority of our visit this morning, but Ruby was off exploring as soon as we arrived. She headed straight for the activity corner and was found sat in the tipi with an Albert Einstein style wig on her head and a Cinderella dress from the extensive dressing up section! There’s also a lovely quiet-zone full of books and soft seating for those feeling less energetic…plus Ben explained to me that they are planning to introduce a range of baby friendly play things very soon, which will make the activity zone complete in my opinion. And a perfect place for new mums to meet and get out of the house over the winter months without feeling like they are in people’s way all the time!

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Once awake, Henry loved exploring the soft-play area which is fully equipped with slides, a ball pit and lots of soft blocks and rocking ducks for the little ones. The area was supervised by a lovely member of the team today…I’m not sure if this is always going to be the case, but it’s a great touch. The cafe is a perfect size for always knowing where your child is, and even if it’s busy I imagine you will always feel secure there.

The facilities have been well thought out with a large buggy park, booster seats, plenty of high chairs and wonderful baby changing facilities. Extremely clean dinky toilets for those that are nappy-less are a great touch and, along with the cot in the baby change area, just help to make your visit that bit easier!

Our visit was at 10.30am, so we took great delight in ordering from the scrummy breakfast menu. Mr O and I shared a pancakes with bacon and maple syrup and Ruby had a fruit bowl (which was a good size for the price) and a strawberry milkshake. The highlight for me however was the Deluxe Hot Chocolate which came piled with cream and marshmallows and was one of the better hot chocolates I’ve had for a while.

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All in all it was a lovely way to spend an hour and a half, and with the £3.50 for the play side of things being directly added to your bill at the end it is easy to understand what you’re spending without feeling like you’re constantly paying for stuff. The team are lovely – very friendly, professional and happy to answer any questions…and they even cater for special dietary requirements which I know is very important to a lot of parents.

If you have older children then you’re probably better off searching out one of the bigger soft-play centres outside of town – Little Green Frog cafe is perfect for mamas and papas with babes in arms, toddlers or under 5’s. Which is something Lichfield has never had before and, along with the great programme of activities planned on a weekly basis, is why I can see this place going from strength to strength…

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If you’re in Lichfield, pay Little Green Frog cafe a visit (book online if you’re in a large group) and you won’t be disappointed – especially if you manage to snaffle one of their amazing cakes!

Find out more about Little Green Frog cafe by clicking this link.