Thursday, 31 May 2012

Savvy packing: entertainment on the move

Matt the Husband and me, we're used to travelling light. We're also used to travelling without a toddler to occupy. Our holiday to Turkey was a first on most levels and never before have I exceeded the weight limit on first pack and had to dive in with arms flying wildly like windmills pulling items out one by one until I was satisfied we were under the 50kg allowed.

50kg. That's some packing. But was it savvy?

I'll admit I was petrified of being the mother whose child screamed the whole flight. And I was worried how we would cope, selfish adults that we are,  swapping the days spent lazily reading on the sun lounger, for days wringing out swim nappies, hunting for stray cats to stroke and beetles to count. Dreading I would forget something 'useful', I whittled down my original draft to a more manageable combat list, enough to keep the tears and tantrums from the door without costing an arm and a leg or taking up too much space. Here it is:

1) Plasticine: the 10 colours only saw daylight once while we were away, but Grace absolutely delighted in making models of Iggle Piggle and Macca Pacca as well as Mr Snow from the Mr Men and Grandma on a sunbed. Need I say more.

2) Books: we took a few lightweight Mr Men paperback with us. Grace hasn't seen these before as they've been in Grandma's back pocket so the novelty value lasted the two week holiday. We also took one old favourite for familiarity whenever the chips were down and she needed something more homely. I probably needn't have bothered as we can reel off the prose to 'We're going on a bear hunt' without the book and it was cited as we were walking along the coastal path. Am sure people thought we were nuts.

3) Puzzles: we took two puzzles. Often when we were enjoying a drink before dinner in the evening, these would keep Grace busy. Her mind would drift in the bar for a while and then she'd revert back to putting the pieces together.

4) Colouring: what toddler doesn't love to be let loose with the crayons? I printed off a load of cbeebies characters for Grace to colour in from the cbeebies website, and she loved seeing some of her favourites from the bedtime hour miles away in Turkey. Sometimes these sheets were better than the colouring book as her attention span is short and with the book she tends to flit from page to page doing a line on each page and flicking to another. With the individual sheets she appeared to concentrate for longer as there wasn't the choice of anything else.

5) Stacking cups and a ball. Very versatile, these cups made skittles to knock down with the ball, made sandcastles on the beach and were used as missiles in the swimming pool. Bonza.

6) The obligatory sticker book. Endless hours of fun, sticking, peeling off and sticking again.

7) Aquadoodle pad and pen - this was often whipped out in restaurants when she was hungry and inpatient. If only the same thing worked on the Husband.

8) A bead bracelet and a rubber watch from Poundland. These were my big-guns for the flight there and back. Worked a treat as they had the wow factor when she was overtired (night flights both ways).

9) A few Happyland figures. Several days on the trot, Grace carried them round in a little carrier bag and spent her time putting them in and out.

10) And of course, Mr Rabbit, the snuggly (and his two identical twins, just in case). Walks were spent often playing hide and seek Mr Rabbit.

 Along we way we bought a bucket and spade, an inflatable racing car for the pool and had to puncture repair her arm bands to stop her sinking.

Heavy as it all was, I don't regret taking it. Everything got played with and we got through the whole holiday without any blowouts. I think having some things from home in the hotel room really helped Grace to feel settled and it certainly helped me keep my cool when Grace was getting tired and ratty towards the end of each day.

Would I carry it all again? Yes without a doubt. I'm not saying taking everything and the kitchen sink is necessarily right, only that it worked for us. Equally, we met parents who had taken nothing apart from their child and a soother. Whatever floats your boat. I'm just chuffed we had such a lovely fortnight with Grace. And Mr Rabbit got to climb trees. It doesn't get better than that.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Winds of change

Dropping Grace at nursery this morning I was expecting the tears and clingy toddler have become commonplace since she moved out of the baby room. Having missed two weeks with our trip to Turkey, I thought she would be reluctant to be left.

I was wrong.

Sitting herself at the breakfast table and making herself ready for cornflakes, she pointed to her bag on the coat peg.

"Do you want to put your dummy in the bag?" I asked her.

"No!" She shakes her head, pops her dummy onto the table beside the cornflake bowl and points again. Maybe she means the door, I think to myself.

"Do you want Mummy to go?"

"Yeah!" she nods her head. Surely not.

"Really? You want Mummy to go?"

"Yeah!" she says, nodding her head again. Bemused, I grin to the other parents and swan off to work. The winds of change.

As for wind, here's some breaking news. See the picture above? Where she got the idea to strike a pose when she farts I've no idea.


Monday, 28 May 2012

Good toes!

Always on the look out for Grace striking a ballet pose, here she is demonstrating her very best good toes... just a pity I didn't think to drag her out of the puddle or swap her shoes for wellies. Kids. God love 'em.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

The Swim Nappy

To take or not to take, that is the question. When taking Grace to swimming lessons of course she wears one, all mother's dread the swimming pool floaty. But sat here on terra firma preparing the list of things we need to take for Grace on holiday I'm really in two minds.

Now don't get me wrong, it's not that I wouldn't be mortified if she pooped in the hotel swimming pool - I would. The vision of the sun bed crew glancing over as people run screaming from the pool. I get it.
I just can't decide how many of the little critters to take, and at around 50p a pop (pardon the pun) I don't want to take a mountain load if only a molehill will do.

Decisions, decisions. You'd think I had better things to think about? (and frankly better things to blog about)...

Tips gratefully received.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

The Four S's

Sun, sea, sand and sex. In theory.

Picture this. An idyllic hotel nestled in the pine clad hills running into the Meditteranean Sea. Balmy weather, and a bikini clad self reclining comfortably on a sun lounger (or hammock - not fussy) with cocktails arriving by waiter with a click of ones fingers.

Imagine. Sheer relaxation and s,s,s and s.

Flip to the here and now and the skewed vision vanishes with the sound of a toddler putting my shoes in the washing machine, my purse in the bin and her dinner in the dog. And that's when she's low on sugar.

In actual fact I know what's coming. It will be the first trip abroad where I have not whizzed through a novel a day. The first where the lure of free alcohol on the all-inclusive doesn't have the same woohoo! it once did. And the first where the bed springs get less of a work out than their British counterpart resting smuggly at home in Yorkshire. Yes, there will certainly be none of that going on. Not while we are sharing a room with a toddler.

Instead of all of these old rituals, Matt the Husband and me, we will be taking on new ones.

Like dosing the child with calpol when we board the flight and feeding her jellied sweets or cheerios as we take off to help her ears pop as we climb. Like smiling apologetically as we realise regrettably that we have sent Mr Rabbit into the hold and Grace demonstrates an apocolyptic meltdown for all 322 passengers on board. And like finding the need to pinch a bottle of milk from the restaurant as we retire for the evening so much more satisfying than the bottle of plonk (or two) from years gone by.

Yes, you might say things have changed. The four s's are a thing of the past. Out the window.

I'm not sorry. Grace is a delight, and to be honest with you, she's the perfect cover for the fact my tummy is no longer the washboard it once was. Travelling with a toddler certainly has its up sides. I'll still be getting sun, sea and sand, and hopefully with all the research I've done in what to take to get me through the flight and coach transfer with a toddler, there wont be any stress. Or not much anyway.

As my aged parents quite rightly pointed out - they took me on holiday to Italy at the same age as Grace, by car, without any of the mod cons we'll be packing. Surely if they could endure that with me and still enjoy it, this turn-up-and-travel holiday will be a breeze. Surely?


p.s. if I am deluded do please let me know. Or not. I'm quite happy in my ignorance!

Meal Planning Monday (7/5/12)

Better late than never, I'm linking up with Mrs M again with her meal planning Monday linky. Not that I've given this weeks eats much thought so fingers crossed Grace and Matt the Husband forgive this lacklustre effort (and hopefully you will excuse me too!)

Monday: Mummy's lasagne bumped from last week made special with a dash of worcester sauce and a teaspoon of marmite. Mmmm. Love it or hate it!

Tuesday: leftover lasagne for Grace and me... the Husband is away in the Big Smoke. I'm determined Grace will learn to love pasta with tomato based sauces - at the moment she turns her nose up nine times out of ten.

Wednesday: quick rice, basmati tossed with whatever vegetables are in the fridge begging to be used.

Thursday: Beans on toast with an egg on the side. Quick and easy after work on the day Grace is tiredest after being in childcare for three days on the trot.

Friday: Carrot and chickpea curry with rice. Low GL, tasty and filling.

As for the weekend, we have plans so I'm leaving that open... Must dash, food to cook, treats to eat!

Ciao for now x

Monday, 7 May 2012

Bank Holiday Bonking...

Works every time. Filthy minds the lot of you!

Grace treated the rainy day bank holiday like a sullen teenager would do. Crawling out of her pit around 11am, to eat a breakfast without so much as eye contact or a thank you for the waitress attending to her every whim. Weetabix, toast (hold the peanut butter), banana (sliced). She then decided to dump the last few bits onto the floor with a look that said don't mess with me, the dog's on my side...

We had a battle getting her into the car to go the park - convinced she was being conned, she gripped onto the garden gate for dear life and I literally had to peel her fingers off one by one. Not a great start to the outing.

Frozen to the bone, we endured the park at toddler pace. Even the dog looked cold. It didn't get any better...

Bonk #1 the crash and burn - tripping over her own foot while picking dandelions - graze to the left knee.

Bonk #2 the roll - busy stomping on the gravel, not sure what caused it, only know the gravitational pull was too strong - sent her flying nose first, graze to side of face, mouthful of dirt.

Bonk #3 the back bash - sitting on the floor playing, decided to throw herself backwards to bang her head for no reason other than to finish the day with a hat trick and a desperate need for calpol.

Some days are best left as duvet days. Today was one of them. Grace went to bed with her tail between her legs when we got home, slept until 5, and was asking to go to bed before 7. Hope she's not coming down with something.

How did you spend your extra day?

Thursday, 3 May 2012


Appropriate it seems that on the day Grace masters the linguistics of 'uh-oh!', I find myself peering down a 13 week long tunnel to what will be my first road race... Without dwelling on the nitty gritty of this milestone, if you set me off with the start gun now, I'd be stopping in a little under two miles. Rounded down, I make that a good 4 miles short.

Uh-oh indeed.

Now for those who know me well, running is something one does only to catch the ice-cream van as it pulls away with my chocolate oyster still tucked nicely in his refrigerated tuck-box. I am not a runner. Nor am I particularly interested in exercise or fitness in general. I like my food and lots of it. Generally I dish up healthy family eats as we have a marathon runner and a toddler at the table. And as much as I love to eat healthy food, I like my portions big, and I like a free rein to nibble away at something 'naughty' like chocolate, ice-cream, chips and dips, or whatever the fancy might be.

Step forward the new Heather.

(Yeah right!)

Instead I send her substitute to the podium. Fitness mad, burning calories like crazy and training training training to get a personal best when taking part in Jane Tomlinson's Run for All in York, 13 weeks from now on August 4th.

(The personal best won't be hard, it's my first).

I also want to shift this baby-weight (*read combination of baby-weight and over-indulgence weight*) once and for all. I can't blame it on the baby forever, she's weighing in at 1 stone 8 pounds herself, roughly what this Mummy needs to lose. Holy crapola!

So what's the plan Stan? Well, Stan says I need to kick my butt into gear, set a weekly goal and jolly well stick to it come hell or high water. So here it is. I'm going to start running again TOMORROW. Watch this space for proof. I'm aiming to run 3 days a week minimum and although this will be short distances to begin with (starting at 1.5 miles again), I will be working this back up in the right direction slowly. I'm also sticking with Jillian Michael's 30 day shred DVD which is giving me 20 mins intense work out every night before bed. I'd also like to commit to one swim this week and one yoga session just to mix it up a bit.

I have my weigh in tonight. I've been pretty much on it this week, stuck to plan, eaten moderately, and only tucked into the biscuits once and even that didn't really tip me over the syn count too badly. I'll check in with an update soon, wish me luck!

Let the fitness training commence!

Curiouser and curiouser

I have started a trend. For several days now, bedtime routine has gone like clockwork. The putting to bed of the hair clips into the little bowl in the cupboard has worked a treat. But much like opening a packet of chocolate Hobnobs and eating one, you just know there is more to follow.

Tuesday night, Grace took her shoes to bed with her. She wore them in bed until the wee hours when she woke in a panic with hot-foot syndrome which sent Matt the Husband flying in a panic to remove said shoes before she work up proper.

Last night, we said 'goodnight' to just about every toy in the house. Three times she checked the doors were closed on her Happyland school house, just to make sure all the little people inside were safe. Twice she stopped to kiss 'Sheli', one of her favourite characters. Shooing her up the stairs, she look at me as if to say, 'this is just how it has to be Mama!'.

I wonder what tonight will bring?

One thing I know for certain, Grace likes things a certain way. Just like me. Curious.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Grandpa's Bottom

My father has a lot to answer for. Ignoring the fact I am an end of line item with built in kinks and glitches, he isn't a bad man.... except when it comes to passing wind.

For us regular folk it's a natural occurrence. We might not shout about it, we might not want to own up to it when we do it, but we all do it. It happens. It's called farting. And although it mightn't be the politest of pastimes, one tends to turn a blind eye to it assuming one can keep a straight face and ignore the aftermath.

We ignore these little subtleties with Grace as much as we can. She farts like the rest of us. Quiet ones, cute ones, smelly ones. You get the gist. The point I'm making is that most of us do it, say 'pardon' and move on. No big deal.

Not so my father. He has the full range in his back pocket (pardon) ready to unleash at the speed of light if the need arises. And alas, this habit has rubbed off on Grace. A picture of politeness, Grace's cheeky grin might be a red herring.... it's confirmed... she has Grandpa's Bottom.

I'll paint the scene.

We're playing together, reading a book with Laura, Grace's godmother. All is going well. Grace is attentive, enjoying the interaction. Engaged even. I see the moment change. She stops listening, her brow furrows. She pushes the book away, walks over to me and squats as if she's working out with Jillian Michaels. And then she farts, grinning, positioned perfectly over my lap.

I'm horrified. This wasn't an unexpected 'pop'. This was a calculated, well timed fart. She knew it.

I have failed. Grace has Grandpa's Bottom and she's not shy about it either.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Say Goodnight, Hair Clip!

A friend once told me I'd never get hair clips in Grace's hair as I hadn't started the practice early enough. Cut to visions of screaming fits as the unruly toddler pulls at the little article, trying frantically to pull said metal accessory out of one's fluffy chicken hair.

Not so.

What I am actually faced with is the reluctance to give up the hair clip at the end of the day. She likes it, and does not want to release the item from her possession. Cue tantrum.

Rooting around in my back pocket for a dose of magic, I pull out a new bed time routine.

Before climbing the stairs to run a bath, Grace and me, we put our hair clips to bed. Hers and mine, disengaged from tangled hair, we un-clip in unison, say goodnight hair clip, and pop the clips together in a little bowl that lives in the cupboard by the fridge. She gives me a hug and nods her head in agreement.

They're safe in there Mum!

For more on bribery and influence in toddlers, click here