Monthly Archives: April 2016

29th April 2016

10 giveaways that you are a Mum

Screen Shot 2016-04-29 at 21.41.281. You offer to give someone a lift, then experience a sense of panic as you remember the state of the car.

2. On days without the kids, you reach into your bag and pull out snacks, spare pairs of child underwear, handfuls of furry raisins, and several small toy cars.

3. When trying to remember events in the past, the first thing you do is work out the age your child was at the time – and finally, it all clicks into place.

4. You walk out of the house feeling a million dollars – before discovering a sticky handprint / snot smudge down your front and wanting to turn back around.

5. If you were given a whole day to shop until you dropped, you’d return with bags full of clothes, toys and treats for your kids – and very little for yourself.

6.  7am feels like a lie-in.

7. When heading out with your brood, you can risk assess any room, place or space in less than a second.

8. A relaxing bath means sharing the water with floating foam letters, plastic ducks, and miscellaneous squirty toys.

9. You used to look at mums with newborns and think ‘oh look at that tiny baby!” Now you look at them and think ‘that lady just gave birth, kudos to her!”

10. Your first thought when there is a spillage is ‘GRAB THE BABY WIPES!’ – even if you’re nowhere near your kids.



27th April 2016

Pregnancy Update: 20 weeks

13081821_10156887587675607_214596333_nHow many weeks? I am 20 weeks and 2 days – half way through already! The first trimester  dragged, but now we’re into the second the weeks are just flying by. It seems crazy that my last doctors appointment (when we found out the gender) was 4 weeks ago now. Being busy with two little boys gives me so much less time to focus on the pregnancy – and this is good in some ways, but sad in others. I’m pretty sure this will be my last pregnancy so I want to enjoy it – but equally, I can’t wait to meet her so want the time to whizz by!

How big is the baby? As big as a mango. This is disappointing to Stanley as I misread the app last week and skipped ahead a week. To be a mango two weeks in a row is a big let down to a 4-year-old.

And the bump? As is always the way with pregnancy, I feel a lot bigger than comes across in photos. I feel like this bump has suddenly popped and my posture has adjusted to that ‘leaning backwards’ style of walking.

And the kicks? Much stronger and more frequent. I still have days when I haven’t felt her for a while and wonder if all is OK, but generally don’t go a few hours without feeling a thump or a kick.

When is the next scan? On Saturday! It should be tomorrow, but I booked a few days later as Stanley really wants to come and see the baby. I am slightly concerned that he thinks he is actually going to meet a baby and not just see a grainy black and white picture – but it’s sweet that he wants to be involved. It will also be the first scan my husband has attended too (poor neglected third child) so I like the idea of it being a real family event. In reality, my husband will be chasing Wilfred around a small room while Stanley asks the doctor awkward questions – but hey, we’ll try.

What kind of awkward questions? Stanley has become fascinated with a) how the baby got there in the first place and b) how on earth the baby is going to get out again in September. Today he asked me if I would eventually just pop? I think he might be on to something there, as I feel ginormous already. I usually just reply to a) with ‘I don’t know, it’s magic!’ and b) with ‘Don’t worry, the doctor will take the baby out and everything will be fine’. Hopefully this is enough for him for now at least…

Any more shopping? I’m half expecting my doctor on Saturday to suddenly spot boy parts and announce the whole girl thing was all a big mistake – so I didn’t dare buy anything else since I was first told the gender and bought a couple of things the next morning. My boys clothes aren’t going anywhere either until it’s been confirmed at least once more!

Have you picked the name? I think so (with a long list of back-ups) – but we’ll be keeping it a secret until she’s born just in case we change our mind or it is used by friends before us.

Any cravings? Not really. I occasionally get a craving for crumpets with butter and marmite (which I can’t find in Dubai). And I constantly crave a nice glass of chilled white wine in the evening, but I guess it isn’t toooo long to wait now (in the whole grand scheme of things, at least).

How do you feel? I went down with the lurgy last week, with a horrible cough and sinus infection (oh how I long for strong painkillers and cold drugs!) so that wasn’t fun. But I am pleased to say that the nausea is pretty much gone now and although I’m tired and try to kip every lunchtime while Wilfred is asleep and Stanley is having ‘quiet time’, I feel like I have a bit more energy that I did a few weeks ago. I am definitely getting achier in the hips and got my familiar pregnancy stitch (bottom right side) while walking yesterday, so I don’t think it’ll be long before I’m in my support belt (oh the glamour).

Next pregnancy update in a couple of weeks!



26th April 2016

How to survive a small age gap between children

Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 21.20.27The gap between my boys wasn’t the smallest at 21 months – but when I got home from the hospital with Wilfred to begin life as a family of four, it felt like I had two babies. It was tough at times, but also pretty wonderful.

Of all the questions about my boys from readers of this blog, the age gap is usually the one that people ask about – so I thought I’d write a post with 10 tips for surviving a small age gap between children. I’m no parenting expert (believe me, if you were a fly on the wall some days, you would realise that) but I speak from experience. So here goes…

1. Accept help

So obvious, but so difficult sometimes. As a mum of one, I wanted to be superwoman. To be a great mum, to be the perfect wife, to be successful at work, and to keep everything running smoothly at home. I wasn’t perfect by all means, but felt like I had it pretty much under control – and then I gave birth for the second home, arrived home with this perfect bundle of chaos, and very quickly realised I couldn’t do it all anymore (it might have been that day that the baby fed for 22 hours straight while the toddler took every DVD we owned out of the boxes and threw them into the toilet, but I forget…).

It took me nearly a year to realise it, but when I accepted help, life transformed. This might be in the form of nursery, some professional help at home, family stepping in to entertain the toddler, or simply accepting an offer from a friend. Superwoman will be back, I guarantee it – but she just needs a break for a while.

2. Routine is everything

Routine, bla bla bla. I know it’s boring, but getting to the point where I could put both boys down at 7pm, tidy up the lounge and kitchen, and then collapse on the sofa (until the next feed, at least) was a godsend.

This is difficult during the day (although nailing that coordinated lunchtime nap eventually will feel like you’ve won at life) but simply bathing together, getting them snuggly in pyjamas, reading stories, and then putting them to bed at roughly the same time made me feel like an actual human again.

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3. Go hands free

You only have two hands – and a baby carrier or sling makes life a million times easier when you have a baby that doesn’t like to be put down during the day (naming no names, Wilfred).

And if you’re pumping, get a double pump and a hands-free bra. It’s life changing, I tell you.

4. Consider a double buggy

If you are happy using a sling and single buggy, that also works – but in the heat of Dubai, I worried about Wilfred overheating. My double buggy (Baby Jogger City Select) allowed me to strap both children in – and believe me, knowing that they are secured out of harms way (and unable to run away / have a full-on tantrum on the floor / knock over a display of glass bottles in a shop) is worth its weight in gold.

5. Go to the toddler first

I was given some invaluable advice in the early days, that if both children wanted me at the same time (and baby was fed, warm, and in a safe place), I should give priority to the toddler. After all, I knew the baby was out of harm’s way and he wouldn’t remember that I left him there for a few minutes. His brother, however, would remember. Knowing it was OK to do things this way round took some pressure off and I think (and hope) I had a happier toddler for it.

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6. Take them out

I remember how fast my heart was beating the first time I left the house with both of my children. It seemed like an impossible task. But I survived.

For me, the key was to find places where the toddler was safe and contained – and I could feed the baby when he decided he was hungry. I found play areas where staff would help me, toddler classes where Stanley was entertained but I didn’t necessarily have to stick with him, and the ultimate – friend’s houses where Stanley could play with other toddlers and there was a comfy couch for me. Two years later, there are still places I’d take them out on my own and other places I’d avoid – but I always find the day easier if I make the effort to go out.

7. Give yourself a break

Having two children is hard – and just like every demanding job, you need to have a bit of time out to recharge batteries and stay sane. The key to my happiness as a mum-of-two has been to allow myself some ‘me time’ – whether that’s booking a babysitter and having a date night, escaping at the weekend for a lunch with my friends, or even leaving the boys with grandparents for the odd night away with my husband. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve left the boys overnight in the last few years, as we don’t have family around to do it often – but when it’s happened, it has absolutely reminded me that I need some time to myself too. And I think that it’s so important to spend some time with my husband without small voices demanding our attention every few seconds. It’s bliss, actually.

8. Move on from bad days

There will be bad days – but they will be peppered with the most beautiful, precious moments that keep you sane. I learnt early on that I shouldn’t beat myself up when I had a bad day. I still feel regret, sadness, and frustration when something doesn’t go right for me and I don’t feel like I’ve handled it well (especially at the moment, thanks to Wilfred’s epic terrible-two-tantrums) but I have also learnt that the next wonderful moment is always just around the corner. Parenting isn’t easy, but the boys won’t remember the times I have wanted to scream into a pillow (well hopefully, at least) – so there’s no point wasting time worrying about it.

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9. Know that it gets easier

In those difficult moments, know that it does get easier. Each stage comes with a new challenge – but when you have a small age gap, there will never be a more challenging time than the newborn days. Just a few months in, as a routine establishes, you will feel life ease a little – and then when the siblings start playing together, you can feed them the same food, you can streamline the nappy bag, and (halleluiah) eventually leave the house without a buggy, you will have a epiphany and think ‘wow, life just got easier’. And if you are crazy like me, you may even consider making life harder for yourself with the arrival of a number three (gulp). 

10. Wait for the bond

Right from the beginning, seeing the two of them together will make your heart melt – especially when the small one clocks the big one and breaks into the biggest smile. And around the time that life steps up a gear as the small one begins to move, you’ll notice an incredible thing happening. They will start to play together – and as they do, their bond will grow at the most amazing, whirlwind speed. And one day in a few years time, you’ll be sat with your husband or partner watching them play together – and you will utter the words to him: “I thought we were mad at times, but THIS is why the small age gap was the best thing we ever did”. Just as I did to my husband this weekend.  And believe me, I meant every single word.



19th April 2016

It takes a village to raise a child – but what if your village is thousands of miles away?

Screen Shot 2016-04-19 at 19.55.51I make no secret of the fact that going from one baby to two babies was one of the hardest things I have done in my life. Of course, I don’t regret that second squidgy baby for a second – but those long, seemingly never-ending days of trying to feed a baby, whilst simultaneously entertaining a toddler will forever remain in my memory as exhausting, challenging, and filled with self-doubt about my own ability as a mother.

When my husband got home from work every night, I would hear the air exhale from my body in one big breath of relief.

Because back in 2014, he was the only real support I had.

They say that it takes a village to raise a child – and our village consisted of myself and my husband.

That isn’t entirely true, of course. I had my son’s nursery, where he attended a couple of mornings a week. I’d like to say that it was a big help – but getting over the roadworks outside my apartment with a gigantic double buggy and screaming, hungry baby took the shine off it a little.

I also had friends, but hadn’t quite yet built the support network that I am lucky enough to have now. Everyone was busy having their own babies and/or working long hours. So I was very thankful for one amazing friend called Katie, who was a nanny in her days before motherhood, and found me on her doorstep several afternoons a week, practically throwing my children in her direction.

But everyone else was in the UK.

My parents, my inlaws, my sister, my cousins, my aunties, my uncles, and most of my friends.

My village.

Thousands of miles away.

Two of my close friends in the UK had their second babies recently. With flashbacks of those long days in my apartment with the two children, I worried about them as their due dates approached.

I wished I could pop over to help. To take their toddlers to the play park while they fed. To cuddle the baby while they got a few hours sleep. To sit and chat to them over coffee when they were struggling with sleep the deprivation.

But with a sudden sinking feeling of, well, jealousy, I realised that their parents and siblings lived in the same town. Just around the corner. And that their experience was going to be so different to mine.

Of course I have no right to be jealous. After all, we chose to be expats. And I’m sure our village would all be very thankful if we bought back their grandchildren, cousins, nephews, and godchildren back to the UK. We chose to live this life in the sunshine and we don’t regret that for a second – but back when I was feeling exceptionally vulnerable with two children under two, I doubted our sanity for that.

I’m not the first to bring up my children away from a support network – I’m surrounded by people on a daily basis who do exactly the same. And it isn’t just expats either. I can think of countless friends in the UK who don’t (or didn’t) have their family near them bringing up their children, through loss, breakdown of relationships, or simply the fact they live too far away for regular help. There are so many of us – and I am pretty sure that most will emphasize with the flash of jealousy I felt for those lucky enough to have family on their doorstep.

Fast forward to two years later, with another bundle on the way, and things are different for me now.

Why?

Because I made my own village.

As my work commitments picked up, we hired a nanny to help with childcare on the mornings Wilfred doesn’t go to nursery and to help with household chores in the afternoon. It’s something I struggled to get my head around at first, as I didn’t have help for the first two years of motherhood. But it’s a step that I don’t regret taking for a second, as I have learnt there are no prizes for refusing to accept help.

Most importantly, however, I found my support network in a group of friends that I see regularly during the week. Surrogate family for me, surrogate cousins for my children. Friends I know I can call if I need help. Friends that I know will come with a moment’s notice.

It’s true that it takes a village to bring up a child.

And sometimes, you just have to find your own.



15th April 2016

Guest Post: The day the bottom dropped out of my world

Emma is one of my school friends – and as adults, we have shared wedding planning and compared growing baby bumps. Her second son Connor was born in 2012, just before Stanley – but on February 4th this year, his parents were given the devastating news that he has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. This cruel illness affects 1 in 3,500 boys in the UK – and without a cure, it will be fatal.

I have invited Emma to write about Connor, his family, and his diagnosis on this blog to raise awareness about Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy – and she starts today with a post about the day she got the devastating diagnosis.

As a mother, I didn’t find it easy to read, but I believe it is so important we learn more about this little-known-about disease and support research into a cure.

Grab your tissues and take a read – and make sure you like the Facebook Page Chasing Connor’s Cure, where a charity will shortly be set up and we will be able to follow updates on Connor and upcoming fundraising events.

The day the bottom dropped out of my world

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Meet Connor; my gorgeous, boisterous, fun loving, fancy dress wearing and rather loud 4-year-old boy.

And us; the Crawford’s, an average run of the mill household. Just average, in every way.

Until that day.

It was February 4th 2016; just 4 days after Connor’s 4th birthday.

The day when my world literally fell apart.

We headed to hospital for what I expected to be a routine appointment for my slightly awkward 4-year-old boy. One who had reached every milestone with little concern, but who I just felt wasn’t as agile or quite so able physically as his peers and who was increasingly being overtaken on the stairs by his younger sister. I had expected to be referred for some physiotherapy or some such insignificant intervention – maybe a dodgy hip, one leg shorter than the other or the like. Something small, something fixable.

The reality wasn’t so. Instead, I would find out that my darling, my baby, had the awful, degenerative and life-limiting genetic disease Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

For those of you who don’t know about this cruel disease (that was me just a few weeks ago), it is a genetic disorder where the body is unable to produce a protein called dystrophin, an important protein that repairs muscle. As such, his little body will gradually degenerate. His muscles will weaken and usually these boys (as it mainly occurs in boys) will end up in a wheelchair between 8-12 years old. These are the very basics of the disease, I am unable to read or write much more on the future right now, but I do know that life expectancy is shortened and my heart already breaks at the very thought.

Six weeks on from diagnosis and I still struggle to utter the words without tears rolling down my cheeks; so much that I often just abbreviate it to DMD. I don’t know why, but letters seems to cut less deep than the words. My emotions are like that of a rollercoaster, one that is going so fast I am scared, very scared. One that flies high, twists, loops, drops down then climbs back again only to repeat this cycle over and over again. I feel dizzy. Sick. Along the way I have shed tears, many tears – ones for fear, pain, panic, anger, sadness and loss. Tears for Connor and tears for me. Tears for his siblings and tears for his Dad. Tears for everyone that adores and loves Connor as I do.

I don’t yet know why I am writing this blog, why I feel the need to put my feeling into words. Maybe right now it is too painful to talk. ‘Will it ever be any different?’ I ask myself. I suspect not. But maybe I will learn to cope. To be strong, resilient and to have hope. That I must have, that I need, for myself, my children and for my family.

Talking helps, I know that. I work for a mental health charity and it’s my job to know that. But it burdens others, others who are also in pain and it makes it real. Right now, maybe writing words helps because I can pretend this is not my nightmare and that this is someone else’s. That this won’t ravage every inch of my heart and soul, tear through every fibre in my body, steal every ounce of my energy.

From here, this is a story. A story of a mum, a dad and their three beautiful children.

To be continued…

 

For now, the best way to support Connor and his family is to like the page Chasing Connor’s Cure, where a charity will shortly be set up and we will be able to follow updates on Connor and upcoming fundraising events.



14th April 2016

Today, I wanted to clock out of motherhood…

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 17.31.33My sister is visiting Dubai this week – and after waving her off to the pool and heading to work every morning, I decided today was the day I would shut my laptop and join her. So after the school run early this morning, we drove to a hotel, choose a couple of sun loungers by the pool, and zoned out for the morning.

I enjoyed every second. How could I not? With both my children taken care of, a shimmering blue pool just beyond my sunbed, and a stunning vista of Dubai’s skyline in the distance, I relaxed in a way I haven’t been able to for, well, what seems like forever.

It wasn’t that sunny today, but it was hot and humid. I checked the weather app on my phone and it told me that it was 31’C. So after an hour or so flicking through a magazine, I decided to head to the pool for a dip, feeling the baby kick in my tummy as I dipped into the cold water (sorry little one) and swimming slowly across to the edge of the infinity pool.

It was bliss – and as I lay there in the water enjoying the sunshine, I started to wish I could stay there all day.  I wished I didn’t have to dash off for the school run at lunchtime. In fact, I wished I could stay there all week. I realised I wanted to check out of motherhood for a while.

But no sooner had the thoughts come into my mind, than I felt the familiar sinking feeling of guilt.

How could I feel like that when I had two gorgeous boys in my life? How could I wish for time away when I’m about to double the trouble and welcome a new little one into our lives? Isn’t it ungrateful? How could it even cross my mind?

I was lying there in the water in near silence, feeling uncharacteristically relaxed. But I knew that an afternoon of normality awaited. Waking up a small, molar teething person from his nap and dealing with grumpiness and demands to watch the television. Entertaining a four-year old while I tried to eat my lunch and wished I could lay my head down for a nap. Preparing their dinner and trying to convince them to eat the vegetables (rather than throw them across the room). Bath and bedtime on my own, followed by meltdowns from tiredness as we waited for their Daddy to get home from work…

Normality.

And the truth is that if someone had offered to do the school run and take care of the childcare for the afternoon, I would have dodged that normality in a second.

Deep in thought, I was taken back to the early days of motherhood. Those heady, exhausting days when everything smelt of spilt milk and baby sick. Those days when it dawned on me slowly that the life I had been living for the last 30 days had changed quite dramatically – and the moments when I first felt those now familiar sinking feelings of guilt when I craved a chance to return to that old life, if only for a few hours.

But as I’ve clocked up the years of motherhood since those early days, I now understand that these feelings come hand-in-hand with being a mother.

This craving for alone time.

Immediately followed by the guilt.

And I know it doesn’t mean I love the boys any less.

Of course, I wouldn’t swap my life, my family, my boys for the world.

But I can now accept that I will feel like this every now and again while they are small. Today certainly wasn’t the first time I have wished I could clock out of motherhood – and it definitely won’t be the last. And I know that one day I will look back on these days with small people and feel the same kind of nostalgia for the life I once had with my babies quite literally wrapped around me in reliance.

And with that fresh in my mind, I climbed out of that swimming pool, returned to my magazine, and ordered myself a mocktail. And when the clock ticked round to midday, I said goodbye to my sister, climbed in the car, and drove to school to pick up my biggest baby.

Back to normality.

The holiday will have to wait.

For now, at least.



13th April 2016

Pregnancy Update: 18 Weeks

13020634_10156836935155607_1570821002_nHow many weeks? 18 weeks and 2 days now. Time dragged in the first trimester so much, but it’s really starting to whizz by now. I find it hard to believe that I’ll be at the halfway point next time I post an update.

How big is the baby? A dragon fruit now! I find this hard to visualise as it’s not a fruit I generally have lying around the fruit bowl – but I will seek one out when I am next in the supermarket! Stanley has started asking me the size of the baby every week and I’ve found the fruit analogy the easiest way to explain it to him – but he is truly baffled by the dragon fruit and I think he is now imagining his sister as a mini dragon…

And the bump? I feel like it’s popped these last few weeks and I am now mainly wearing maternity wear. It seems a lot higher. I am starting to find it difficult to get comfy at night, so asked my husband to grab my maternity pillow from the top of the wardrobe, but alas it had decided to grow mould over the past few years (thanks to those humid Dubai summers) – so I was straight on Mumzworld.com to order a new one!

How do you feel? Praise be, I think I am finally starting to feel better. I still feel nauseous first thing in the morning until I eat something – but after that, I just need to remember to eat regularly (something every few hours throughout the day) and I no longer feel sick. I am still waiting for that second trimester energy surge though – I am so tired, I could stay in bed 24 hours a day if I was allowed to. I’ve had my iron levels checked now and everything is fine with the giant horse pills I am taking, so I can’t even blame it on anemia. I so wish Stanley still napped so I could climb into bed every lunchtime, but alas he is a ball of energy when we get back from school. I have managed the odd kip on the sofa while he’s watching TV, but that’s about it. Other than that, I am starting to get an aching back and my old pregnancy friend sciatica is showing signs of reappearing. Hoping I can get a little further along before I need to book in to see my osteopath.

Does she have a name? We have a top contender, but definitely not decided yet. We picked Stanley and Wilfred’s names by 20 weeks and I loved knowing who they were for the second half of pregnancy – but I just can’t see that happening this time, as there are just too many names I like. I think you can be more creative with girls’ names, which means there are too many options. I quite like the idea of waiting until she arrives and seeing what she suits, but I usually like to  announce a birth with a name. We will have to see – but either way, I’ll definitely be keeping that a secret until she arrives.

Any more shopping? No I don’t dare!  I am still half expecting to be told she has turned into a boy at my next scan in a few weeks, so will wait until we get another confirmation that it’s definitely a girl. Then I’ll sort through my boxes to find the things that can be gender neutral – and work out what we need. I think sleepsuits and blankets will be top of my wish list, as I did go a bit blue-crazy the last few times! She can wear these things of course, but I would like some girly bits to mix it up.

Cravings? Crunchy nut cornflakes drowned in milk! Can’t get enough of them. Also back to my original craving that I’ve had through all three pregnancies of sparkling water with lots of ice (weird but true).

Anything else? Three of our closest friends have had babies in the last few weeks (welcome to the world Cecilia, Beatrice and Oliver!) This has made me even more excited about September, but it just seems so far away still! Cecilia is right here in Dubai and I am hoping for cuddles this afternoon. Hopefully Wilfred takes it better now than he did a year ago, when he nearly smashed up a living room when he saw me with a newborn. Here’s hoping anyway… There’s a reason Wilf always appears as Wild when I type it into predictive text…



12th April 2016

Stanley’s 4th Birthday Party at Kids HQ

12992778_10156833067165607_1383427204_nI had grand plans for Stanley’s birthday party this year. I wanted to give him an old-school children’s party in a decorated hall, complete with jelly and ice cream, pin the tail on the donkey, pass the parcel, and homemade bunting. It was going to be beautiful.

And then I woke up and realised I am exhausted from growing a baby, working every hour under the sun, and of course being a mum of two – so I started looking around for easier options.

Kids HQ appealed on several levels. Firstly, because there is lots of space and I didn’t want the party to be cramped (Stanley is now at school and we wanted to invite his whole class). Secondly, because there is a comfortable coffee shop on site for adults to hang out while the kids have fun (let’s be honest, we need coffee and we need a seat on a Saturday morning). And lastly, because the boys love the play area and I’d heard very good things about the parties.

So it was decided – and I booked his party for a Saturday morning 10-12pm and our amazing party organiser Amna got in touch within days to ask me to choose a theme. Stanley was given a long list of options including minions, superheroes, and cars – but he isn’t really into any of those things and asked for a rainbow theme (which melted my heart a bit). Amna sweetly agreed to accommodate his request, so that was decided. I gave her a vague idea of numbers (between 20 and 25 was my guess) and we also chose the food option (chicken nuggets and chips for my nugget-obsessed boy).

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Other than that, there was very little organisation involved. I needed to order a cake and wanted to do my own party bags (although Kids HQ take care of this too, so we added the two together).  I made an order through my favourite decoration site Party Camel for both the cake topper and party bags/contents – and I ordered the cake from Hummingbird Bakery (vanilla frosting and sprinkles, with a rainbow striped cake inside). The cake was a very reasonable 250 AED for the largest size, which was delivered to my door.

A few days before the party, I confirmed the numbers. When the big day arrived, we arrived at Kids HQ with a very excited Stanley – and he was treated like a star from the moment he walked inside! We were so impressed with the staff – and all the kids had an absolute blast for the two hours of the party (one hour playing outside in the jungle gym and one hour playing games / eating). The rainbow room was so beautifully decorated that I actually felt a bit teary at the effort they’d made (alas, he did get homemade bunting after all, even if it wasn’t made by my fair hand).

I barely had to lift a finger, which is exactly what I needed when seriously lacking in time and energy – but yet he had the best morning and will still be talking about it for months to come I think (although he is already planning his 5th birthday party, so there we go..!)

So that’s enough words – and now for the pictures! Thank you so much for everyone that came to Stanley’s party and all his amazing gifts – and most of all, thank you to Kids HQ for making his day so special. If you are looking for a party venue, I highly, highly recommend it!

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7th April 2016

How does it feel to know we’re going to have a little girl?

12920918_10156790562490607_571516257_nNo pregnancy update this week, as I’ve decided to post them every fortnight so that regular readers who have no interest in my bump don’t get bored (and honestly, I don’t blame you!)

So I thought I’d write a post addressing my feelings on having a little girl in five months time, since we found out a week ago today.

First thing first; I am just relieved that everything looks healthy with the baby. I haven’t had my 20-week scan yet, where they look in minute detail at the baby’s organs – but my obstetrician did take a quick look (as I guess he does as every appointment) and baby is looking healthy thus far. That was a huge relief as the long 4 weeks between appointments is enough time for it to play on your mind that something may be wrong.

Finding out that we are 99% likely to be having a little girl in September later that night, however, still seems a bit surreal!

I was open about the fact that I would probably choose a little girl (if mother nature was kind enough to let us choose) – but that didn’t mean I was expecting it. At all! In fact, I was fully expecting to hear that it was another little boy. I have always imagined my future surrounded by boys and could visualise how the three of them would look together. We’d chosen a boy’s name and even a middle name – and all our baby boy clothes are stored neatly in boxes with the ages on post-it notes on the front.

If I’m honest, I’m still not willing to fully believe that it’s a girl until I’ve had it confirmed again at the next scan. I felt confident enough to do a gender reveal on the blog last week as my obstetrician obviously felt confident enough to put it in an envelope – but the 1% chance he might not have spotted boys’ bits is enough for me to feel cautious! I opened the wardrobe the other day to look at the boy’s clothes (wondering how much I’d bought in gender neutral colours!), but definitely won’t be sorting or rehoming them until we have at least a couple more confirmations. It’d make a great story for this blog if we do suddenly find out he made a mistake!

But if it is a girl? I’m nervous, but very excited to add her to my brood. I can’t wait to start shopping and have already got name ideas whizzing around my head (although it seems there’s too much choice to ever agree on a name, but we’ll have fun trying).

My boys – especially Stanley – are delighted. Stanley says ‘we’ve got too many boys already’ and I was kind of dreading breaking the news if the baby was another blue one. He was so happy and has already named her (not a bad suggestion actually, so we will see…)

The news has also eased my fear a little of my boy’s lovely brotherly relationship being effected (which I know is utterly ridiculous, as she will still bond with her brothers and everything will change, of course). But I guess we have these barmy fears when we are expecting another little person.

So to sum it up – I am delighted, but finding it hard to believe. I have five months to get my head around it though – and I know that when September rolls around, I’ll be bursting with excitement to meet her (and then stop in my tracks when I have to change the first nappy!)



5th April 2016

The Up’s and Down’s of Nearly 4 Years of Motherhood…

417590_10152622115165607_650649547_nMy biggest baby turns four in a week. FOUR! It’s just crazy. It seems like yesterday that I was hobbling out of hospital with a tiny little person, wondering how on earth I was supposed to be a mother without a manual in my hand.

But here we are – and it’s led me to start thinking about that journey (I hate that word, but you know, it kind of has been) and the up’s and down’s that have come along the way. I’m going to start with the hard bits, as I think we all know that the good trumps it a million times over. So here goes – and do let me know if you agree…

The Down’s 

The Poorly Days

I know how lucky I have been to have two pretty much healthy children – and the odd occasion they have been conked-out-on-the-sofa poorly, I have had a small glimpse of what it must be like to have a child that is more seriously ill. Seeing someone you love so deeply suffer – and not being able to do anything about it – feels like someone is actually yanking your heart out of your chest. The first glimpse is when they get their injections as a newborn (did anyone else leave crying more than their baby?) and as they get older and can articulate the pain, I find it gets even harder. You’d swap places with them a million times over – and you wouldn’t have to think about it for a second.

The Broken Nights

Having said all that, it seems kind of insignificant to talk about the sleep deprivation. But when it stretches into months and years of never getting a full night on the pillow, it can seriously test you. I am enjoying full night’s sleep for the first time in over 2 years at the moment (and I’m not bragging, as to say our youngest child has been difficult at night is an understatement) – but when night after night stretches ahead, knowing you will be woken, it can take you to dark places you didn’t know existed.

The Hard Days

I’m talking about the days when I have hours stretched ahead of me to entertain two boys – who then decide today is the perfect day to have tantrums, refuse to eat lovingly-cooked food, throw drinks across the floor, run away as soon as we walk out our front door, use our cream sofa as a canvas for their felt tip pens, and then flatly refuse to nap / fall asleep at night. There are times I have lost my patience and regretted it, others I have buried my face in a cushion and screamed, and times I have simply thrown myself on the floor and sobbed alongside my delinquent child. Those are the hard days – and thank goodness we have enough moments to warm our hearts back up again (usually within seconds).

The Yearning For My Old Life

I’ve been feeling this a lot recently. Thinking back to the days I used to strut around London in my high heels, accepting invites without a moments thought. Travelling to see friends at the weekend, booking holidays without a moment’s thought for kids clubs and adjoining rooms. It’s the freedom I miss; the chance to be spontaneous when I want to be. I’m not saying I would swap the life I have now and my boys for a single second – but to say it hasn’t played on my mind over the last 4 years is an understatement. They grow so quickly and I do know that one day I will look back on this stage of my life with the same nostalgia. I hold that close, as it really has to be true.

The Up’s 

The Birth

I might sound like a crazy woman saying that I enjoyed the birth – but it isn’t the pushing bit that I’m referring to (although if the truth be known, I didn’t mind that either thanks to a couple of epidurals). I’m talking about the moments afterwards, where you lock eyes with a little person you’ve been imagining for so long and think ‘ahhh this is who you are!’ And then the groggy, sleepy hours afterwards, high on adrenaline and happiness. The calls and messages to family members, photos of a scrunched up baby pinged across the world, and the hazy first few days after you arrive at home. It’s so hard at times, but so wonderful too. And addictive too, it seems.

The Milestones

I’m talking about moments like the first time a drunk-like toddler waddles across the room and you practically explode with pride. The moment your child swims unaided for the first time and you flit between the urge to whoop for pure joy and dive straight into the pool to save him. The first time you are handed a drawing with a picture of you and the word ‘Mummy’ – and you immediately want to frame it. These are wonderful – and right from that first gummy smile, they make it all worthwhile a million times over.

The Cuddles

Life moves at three thousand miles per hour – especially when you add more than one child to the mix. So the moments that we get to sit still, just for a few minutes, and hold our child close to us are incredibly rewarding. I love cuddles that smell of baby shampoo, cuddles where they bury their head into my neck, and cuddles where their sobbing bodies finally calm. It’s the little things, isn’t it?

Their Happiness

This sounds so glaringly obvious, but seeing their happiness trumps everything. In the early days, it’s the smiles and laughing – those deep baby laughs that seem to come from the bottom of their stomachs. I loved that. And then as toddlers, when they start to show what they love and develop sweet little personalities based on what makes them happy. And then as they get older and can articulate that happiness, it gets even better. To know that these little people feel secure, loved, and ultimately happy is the only thing that really matters – and as corny as it sounds, it simply doesn’t get better than that.