Monthly Archives: February 2015

9th February 2015

Today I realised he needs more than just me

zqdEJaUQsczOWx0VwH2MALk8lFgtm9oiNpEO6z_UTwwThis morning, we had a coffee morning at nursery. There was no coffee, so you can imagine my confusion, but I digress.

After I chatted to other mums, we sat down to listen to a presentation by a new school in Dubai. I didn’t concentrate fully, as we have already accepted a place at a different school for September – so as the headmaster chatted, I let my mind wander as I looked at the photos of smiling children in his presentation.

I imagined Stanley doing these things Playing in a  playground, talking to his teacher, going on trips to museums. I couldn’t wait to see how much he enjoyed it all.

But then it hit me right in the pit of my stomach.

I won’t see any of those things.

I will be at work or at home with his little brother. He will have to do all these things on his own, without me holding his hand, without me to comfort him when he’s feeling lost, without me to take pictures of him trying new sports or activities. I won’t get to hear him trying out words in his Arabic classes, I won’t get to see him rushing around the playground with a new group of friends, I won’t get to watch his face as he listens to a story with wide eyes, an open mouth, and crossed legs.

I could hear the headmaster’s voice, but my mind was elsewhere. Tears pricked my eyes  – as for the first time, I realised I had to let him experience it all on his own.

This is his journey, not mine.

He needs so much more than me. He needs a teacher with a welcoming hug when I drop him off. He needs a football coach to pick a position and teach him how to dribble a ball. He needs a school nurse to take his temperature when his nose starts to run. He needs a best friend to play chase with in the playground and sit next to in class. He needs his Daddy to read him a story when he gets home from work. He needs his brother to be the first to try out creations from his toy kitchen and have shouting matches with when they are taken out to tea. He needs his grandparents to give him love, hugs, and ‘don’t tell your mum’ treats when we’re back in the UK. He needs his cousins to grow up with, sitting next to at pantomimes and jumping through puddles on winter walks. He needs his aunties, his uncles, and his godparents to ruffle his hair and remark ‘wow, you’ve grown!’ before taking him on adventures or building train tracks on the living room floor.

We are all so important.

We.

Not just me.

I don’t underestimate my role for a moment – and I am grateful for every moment, every bed time kiss, every time he leans his body into mine and lingers for a second for comfort. I know that in years to come, I will look back at these crazy days with a two-year-old and a one-year-old and miss them with an ache in my belly.

But today I realised he needs more than just me.

And I have until September to get my head around that. He’s my baby until then, at least.

 



6th February 2015

Family Update: Today was all about eating food

photo 21Friday is the first day of the weekend in Dubai – and the theme of today has been eating food.

We woke up early (don’t we always?) and I got to work in the kitchen cooking pancakes, as we do every weekend. Stanley helps me to mix the batter and watches as I cook each pancake, before running to his little table to scoff them down and returning for the next one. His little brother can usually eat just as many pancakes, so they are a big weekend tradition in our house that both the boys seem to look forward to and enjoy.

This weekend, however, I decided to give them a twist with a dash of food colouring. We made these “rainbow pancakes” with exactly the same recipe we always use, before dividing the batter into different bowls and adding a dash of natural food colouring to each (our natural colourings are from Waitrose). We only had green, yellow and blue in the house – red would’ve made our stack much more colourful as we could have made both red and purple, so that’s something to add to the cupboard for next time.

Here’s the recipe I use every weekend for perfect batter:

2 eggs
2 cups of self-raising flour (add a teaspoon of baking powder if you only have plain flour)
2 cups of full fat milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
1 tablespoon of brown sugar (optional)
Dash of natural food colouring (optional)
1 teaspoon of butter for the frying pan

Simply whisk it all together, heat up the butter in the pan, and then use a tablespoon to add the batter to the pan. I use three spoonfuls for each pancake, always adding the batter to the centre of the circle and allowing it to spill out to make sure it’s nice and round. I always throw the first one away (I think this is the law of pancakes) and after that, they are perfect every time. You only need about 30-60 seconds on each side, before flipping over, and they are ready to scoff (we eat them with maple syrup and blueberries.

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After eating our pancakes at the crack of dawn, we had a lazy morning watching films and reading books, before piling into the car at 11am and heading over to Fairmont The Palm to try their BreakSlow Friday Brunch with my friend Simone and her family.

For those of you that haven’t visited Dubai, brunch is a bit of a Friday tradition. It means more than a late breakfast as it does in the UK; these things are grand food celebrations, with people dressed up like they’re attending a wedding, food buffets as far as the eye can see, and lots of entertainment for kids. We’ve tried a fair few of them in the last 4 years of living here (sometimes with the kids and sometimes without), but what I find hard about these events is that they are always at lunchtime – which means over-tired children who have missed their nap. Not fun for anyone.

Fairmont The Palm solves this problem with their brilliant BreakSlow Brunch, which starts at 11.30am. Better still, there’s a fantastic kids’ club at the hotel, so we could drop off Stanley and his friend Charlie for 90 minutes while we sat down and ate, before picking them up and feeding them their lunch – and still managing to get home in time for them both to have a nap.

Off to brunch!

Off to brunch!

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The brilliant Falcons Kids Club at Fairmont The Palm

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The brunch itself is focused around breakfast (unlike most brunches in Dubai, which offer everything from lobsters, to sushi, to steaks, to noodles, to chocolate desserts, to whole rooms full of cheese, and literally everything in between). The other difference is that you don’t have to leave the table if you don’t want to, with a menu of breakfast options to keep ordering from the  staff – and other bites regularly coming around on trays to your table. This makes the whole thing a lot more relaxed and works much better with children.

If you fancy a bit of a wander, there are buffet stations to help yourself from, including a pork section, juice bar, salad bar, dessert station, ice cream selection, and cheese buffet. I got up to take pictures and get my dessert, but generally preferred the table service concept, ordering myself a Salmon Eggs Benedict, Croque Monsieur, glasses of Bucks Fizz, and Cappucinos over the course of the 2 hours we were there.

photo 51photo 53photo 54photo 43photo 13photo 23photo 2photo 3photo 5photo 1

We decided to sit inside, but there is plenty of seating outside too if you prefer to dine al fresco. Fairmont The Palm looks back at Dubai Marina (our hood!) and the views are pretty nice (I wondered out to take pictures and was quite jealous of all the holidaymakers enjoying a whole day on the beach.

photo 41photo 4All details of the BreakSlow Brunch are here. I really recommend it if you have small kids – the earlier timing of the brunch makes it very toddler-friendly – and the relaxed ambience and addition of the kids club facility made it the perfect Friday outing for the family. In fact, we enjoyed it so much that we had already decided we would be heading back soon before we even got two tired little men in the car to come home.

After all that, we were egg-xuasted. Get it? I’ll try harder with the jokes tomorrow.



5th February 2015

10 Signs You Are Suffering From Mummy Madness…

10584646_1478399545738897_1162444128_n1 – When, after a seriously bad night with the baby, you put the kettle in the fridge and the milk on the kettle stand.

2 – When you have got so used to calling your other half ‘Daddy’, rather than his name, you start doing it in public and don’t even notice.

3 – When you walk into the supermarket, look down, and discover you have the baby’s pureed vegetables splattered down your outfit, with drips as low as your ankles.

4 – When you leave your house for a rare night out and realise you have a massive smile plastered to your face as you walk down the street.

5 – When you make yourself a cup of tea or coffee when the kids are asleep, switch on the TV, sit down on the sofa – and don’t realise until 20 minutes later you have been staring at children’s cartoons.

6 – When you start up a conversation about poo with your friends and no one bats an eyelid.

7 – When you head out with the kids with a bulging nappy bag, only to discover that the bulging nappy bag contains nothing you need. No nappies, no drinking cups, and no baby wipes. And then the baby poos, the toddler is desperate for a drink, and you discover an old pouch of baby food has squirted all up the inside of the bag.

8 – When you find yourself humming the tune to ‘Do you want to build a snowman?’ as you’re cooking dinner.

9 – When you cheer, clap and whoop out loud when your potty-training child does a wee in a public toilet. And you don’t even care who hears you.

10 – When your friend asks how the baby slept last night and you genuinely can’t remember what happened.



4th February 2015

Finding out I was having a little boy – and then finding out that gender really doesn’t matter

BABY-S-19-WEEKS2I can’t remember exactly when I decided I wanted a little boy, but I think it was shortly after meeting my husband and imagining a little version of him.  He has always been very heavily into sport, especially rugby, and I loved the idea of watching him take a little boy by the hand and lead him off to mini rugby on a Sunday morning. I liked the idea of muddy eOiAu5Z3TIyOzdk_Q_frkK3lu5OGWmCfJaQsbBXUS0Ydog walks, lazy weekend afternoons watching sport with pizza, and dropping him off at football practice after school.  So I can’t remember the day, the month, or the year when I started dreaming about him, but I know he was in my mind for years before I did that pregnancy test.

As soon as I found out I was expecting a baby, I started to dream even more about this little boy. I knew there was a 50% chance I would be buying pink – but as the weeks went on, instinct told me that it would be blue. I could see his face (completely different to his actual face, I will add) and I was drawn to the blue outfits whenever I allowed myself a little browse in the shops.

At my 18 week appointment, my doctor  threw me by asking if we wanted to find out the sex. I hadn’t expected to be asked until the 20 week scan two weeks later. We looked at each other for a moment, before deciding that yes, we wanted to know.

I could feel my heart trying to leap out of my chest as she started to look with the scanning equipment. Names we had been discussing flashed through my head – as in just a few moments, I would be able to discount one set completely. But alas, my hopes were dashed when she paused and told us that she couldn’t be 100% sure as the baby was crossing its legs (stubborn from the beginning). But after looking again, she could she could take a very good guess that it was a boy, but couldn’t confirm it. My heart leaped, but I had to wait two weeks until it would be confirmed either way at the 20-week scan.

I tried not to get too excited – and two weeks later, as I lay on the bed and watched the outline of my wriggling baby pop up on the screen, I waited for confirmation, expecting a drumroll, before a big, emotional announcement. Hilariously, the sonographer confirmed it with: ‘There is the penis’. Not the way I was expecting to be told, but it has made us laugh ever since.

I went shopping after that and allowed myself to start a little blue wardrobe. I knew that I wanted more than one child and that it may be a total waste of money, but I couldn’t resist the soft powder blue blankets, the sleepsuits with blue elephants scattered across them, and the navy star-print swaddle wraps.

After that, of course, I didn’t think much more about it. I had my boy and that was wonderful. But I have to admit, that having given birth to that baby on a sunny April afternoon, I suddenly understand that gender doesn’t matter. I know I would have loved that baby with as much ferocity whether it had been a boy, a girl, or in fact an alien. And whilst my dreams for that child’s future would have to be adjusted a little, we would have been just as happy as we are now. I know that for a fact.

With that knowledge, the second time round just didn’t really matter. I was happy to have a little boy (I almost couldn’t bear the thought of those little blue outfits not getting a second outing), but I was equally happy for a sister to join us too. We got our second boy and were delighted – and I can very confidently tell you that if we went on to have a third, I would be equally happy with my third little man or our first little girl – so much so, that I don’t know if I’d even bother to find out the gender next time. It just wouldn’t matter.

So gender is a funny thing. You think it matters so much when you are first pregnant – but when that screaming baby is handed to you, it doesn’t matter a jot. I am a mummy of boys and very, very proud to be (so much so that I started a blog all about it!) – but I know I would be just as happy as a mummy of girls. Life has a funny way of working itself out just the way it should. And how perfect is that.

 



3rd February 2015

My toddler’s favourite three words (and other delightful things he says)

928826_1515941415326517_725062398_nMy toddler has three favourite words.

NO

NO-ESSS (translation: yes)

And when he can’t reply NO or NO-ESSS to the question, the default word to shout in my direction is SNACK!

He reminds me of the old priest in ‘Father Ted’, shouting DRINK! from his armchair. Our conversations usually go a bit like this:

“Stanley, what did you do at nursery this morning?’

‘SNACK!’

“Stanley, did you enjoy Granny’s visit?”

‘SNACK!’

“Stanley, can you share that toy with your brother, please?”

“SNACK!”

“Stanley, would you like to do some colouring?”

“NO! SNACK!’

‘Stanley, would you like a snack?”

(pause while question sinks in) “NO-ESSSS”

Of course, he has lots of other words in his vocabulary and speaks in proper long sentences when he isn’t barking his favourite three words at me. Recently he has surprised me with some of the words he knows – hippopotamus, zucchini, ukulele, and roof rack, for example. All very useful for everyday conversations.

Of course, we have also had the moments where I want the ground to swallow me up, like when I recently took him to the public toilets in the mall. After he’d had a wee, I sat down to have one myself, before he shouted in the loudest possible toddler voice:

HURRY UP, MUMMY! ARE YOU HAVING A POO?” (pause for a few seconds) “OH! WELL DONE MUMMY!

(it was a wee).

And then this weekend, when we took the boys to the beach. Stanley was playing happily on the shore, while we sat just in front on a blanket, soaking up the sunshine. The beach was quite busy and there were people enjoying time on the beach all around us. Suddenly he went deadly still and looked down at the sand. We froze. And suddenly…

I’M DOING A WEE! IN THE SEA! IT’S COMING OUT NOW! ON THE SAND! LOOK MUMMY! LOOK DADDY! I’M DOING A WEE”.

I thought about running away and disowning him, but all eyes were on us – so I walked over, muttering under my breathe about urine being sterile, so it really wasn’t such a big deal anyway. The young girls sunbathing next to us didn’t seem to agree and shot horrified looks in our direction. I consoled myself with the thought that one day down the line, they would be mothers and fully understand.

One day.

Probably.

Hopefully, anyway.

I have a feeling I will have a few more of these ground-please-swallow-me-up moments as time goes on. Wish me luck.



2nd February 2015

Currently Loving… February

Wow, February already. And I have to admit that I am quite pleased about that – as although January has got easier to handle now we can soak up the sunshine in Dubai and have a birthday to celebrate to cheer up the month, I have never really liked the month. The decorations come down and the apartment looks bare, we miss family and friends overseas after such a happy month of celebrations, and it’s still months away from our summer in the UK. And this year, we have been so sick too, making it a bit of a miserable month. So hello February – I am happy to see you.

So without further ado, here’s what we’ve been loving in the Mum of Boys house this month…

CURRENTLY LOVING FEB

1 – THE BOOK WITH NO PICTURES

Stanley received this book for Christmas from his Auntie and Uncle. I had a quick flick through on Christmas Day and thought it was very clever – and a few days ago, I rediscovered it on the shelf and Granny (who is currently visiting) read it to him. It was an instant success – and by instant, I mean he was howling with laughter from a couple of pages in. He likes it so much that he is asking for it constantly to be read and has even taken it into nursery for the day. The idea is that the person reading the book has to say exactly what the words say – and with some very silly words in there, that is freaking hilarious to a toddler. Stanley is nearly three and I think that’s probably the youngest that would understand the concept – and I think children would probably find it pretty funny up to 7 or 8.

Buy it: £9.09 from Amazon.co.uk (UK)

2 – BALANCE BIKE

We have pretty much decided that Stanley’s third birthday present at the beginning of April will be a Balance Bike. He’s had a Mini Micro Scooter with a little seat for over a year now – and despite taking the seat off several times so he can scoot along standing up, he’s never enjoyed it as much as sitting down and pushing along with his feet before cruising. So we’ve come to the conclusion that he will be into bicycles more than scooters – and the Balance Bike seems like the perfect first step.

Buy it: £64.99 at John Lewis (UK); 599AED at SandyPants.com (Dubai)

3 – LE PETIT PALAIS (Dubai)

You can see pictures of our visit to the charming kids’ play area Le Petit Palais here in my post about Wilfred’s first birthday. We had a lovely time and will definitely be back soon – so it is great to hear that they are offering a deal for cheap play sessions for Dhs80 for two hours throughout early February. Offer valid 10am-noon, weekdays only, Feb 1-12.

More details: www.lepetitpalaisdubai.com

4 – SAND-FREE RUG

We live five minutes walk from the beach, so you can imagine we spend quite a bit of time on it with two active little boys to entertain every weekend. But the thing that really bugs me? When those active little boys run/crawl over the towels and cover them in sand – time and time again. So when I read about a company called Cgear that made sand-free rugs, my ears pricked up. These uber-clever things were developed by the US military for landing their helicopters in the desert. The fabric is filled with tiny holes that allow the sand to fall through (one quick wipe of your hand across the surface and the sand is gone) but don’t allow the sand to come back up again. I asked for one for Christmas and we just gave it its first outing – let me tell you, it’s a game changer. All families in Dubai should have one – and all families everywhere for their next holiday (or if you happen to live by the beach in the UK, of course).

Buy it: From £34.99 from Amazon.co.uk (UK) Shop and ship this if you live in the UAE – it’s worth it!

5 – NUTRIBULLET

I have wanted a Nutribullet forever – and surprisingly, they are a lot more affordable in Dubai than the UK (this happens, ummm like never, so it’s nice to finally have the cheap deal over here!) The very kind people at Mumzworld, where it is on sale for just Dhs399, sent me one a few weeks ago and we have gone a bit smoothie and juice crazy ever since. I have never seen or tried a blender as powerful as this one – you can drop in fruit and vegetables, complete with skin, and it will blend them up in seconds. The idea is that by including every part of them, including the cores, stalks, and sometimes pips, you are getting the very best goodness. So it’s a big health boost – and great for making the kids healthy smoothies too.

Buy it:  £99.95 at John Lewis (UK); Dhs399 at Mumzworld (Dubai)

6 – KENZIBOX (Dubai)

Dubai Mums, I really recommend signing up for KenziBox; a monthly subscription service of a box packed with activities to enjoy with your kids. I’m the kind of mum that has the very best intentions every day to get crafty with Stanley in the afternoons (Wilfred is still a bit too young and prefers crawling around eating anything he can get his hands on) but when it comes down to it, I just don’t have the time to prepare anything exciting. That’s where KenziBox comes in, giving you a box full of ready-prepared activities in individual bags to pull out whenever you have a spare moment. We have been getting crafty with our January box, which is all about gardens – perfect if you live in an apartment and want to bring the outside inside for your children. I’m mucho impressed and cant wait to see what is in store next month too.

Subscribe: www.kenzibox.com

7 – BRAUN THERMOSCAN 7

If there was one big theme to January for my family, it was sickness. We just couldn’t get over the bugs, with one of us falling after the other like bowling skittles. I have never needed a thermometer more in my life – so the arrival of the Braun Thermoscan 7 digital in-ear thermometer to test was absolutely perfect timing. This clever gadget allows you to set the age of the person with the fever (0-3 months, 3-36 months, or 36 months to adult), with a simple colour coded display to tell you whether the temperature is normal (green), elevated (yellow), or high (red). It takes seconds, which makes it a godsend with a baby that hates having anything put in his ear too. It’s one of those things that every Mum and Dad should have to hand.

Buy it: £34.99 at Boots (UK); Dhs299 at all leading pharmacies, hypermarkets, supermarkets (Dubai)

8 – EARLY LEARNING CENTRE ACTIVITY TABLE

If you are looking for a gift idea for a one-year-old, you can’t go wrong with this brilliant activity table. We have one in the UK that I bought at a second-hand toy warehouse – and Wilfred loved it so much at Christmas that I decided to buy one for him for Dubai (as that is where we are most the time, after all). He was given it on his birthday last Thursday and hasn’t stopped playing ever since. Even if he lost interest right now, the past five days would have been worth the money given the hours he has put in! He goes nowhere without the balls in his hands and has already learnt how to push the buttons and make the balls roll. It comes highly recommended.

Buy it: £45 at Early Learning Centre (UK) and Dhs395 at Early Learning Centre across the UAE (Dubai)