Days like Today

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On days like today…

… I count the hours until my husband gets home from work.
… I want to hug the people that invented antibacterial wipes, quick cycles on washing machines, tumble dryers and most importantly kids tv.
… I considder it an achievement if I get to eat my meals while sitting down or to drink a hot beverage while it is at least lukewarm.
… I fantasize about the quiet sound of two little humans snoring peacefully at naptime.
… I would choose an undisturbed bubble bath and afternoon nap over winning the lottery …

The last 3 days have been very busy and a little bit manic – Friday I had planned to bake however we went to hollow trees farm rather impromptu and had a great spontaneous afternoon out with friends.
Saturday morning we all went to do a rather large long overdue food shop, then Daddy took care of the smalls all on his own while I was baking a special birthday cake. (Daddy is great fun and a wonderful parent
but not quite as effective in responding to tantrums or as efficient in sticking to a routine as mummy).
Sunday morning was spent disassembling and moving around car seats after winry had an accident which resulted in a great deal of disruption, bleaching of floors, digging out spare car seats ect…
And then there was, quote Winry “the best birthday party ever” when we spent the afternoon at her friends birthday party.
So to cut a long story short – the kids were both absolutely shattered after a very very busy weekend.

When I woke up this morning and went about the house tidying up and picking up laundry, somewhat glad to be back to a “normal” schedule, I caught a whiff which meant littl’uns bum needed changing …
as I went to pick him up I noticed his nappy had leaked … BADLY !!! … and he had left a trail where he’d been crawling/walking/climbing … there was poo EVERYWHERE …
Looking at the scenario and not quite knowing where to start, I thought I’d start tackling the source of the disaster to prevent any more leakage and I “hosed” him down in the bath…

Munchkins safely deposited in his playpen (which he hates because he thinks he’s missing out on the fun), I then plonked winry on our bed and put cartoons on with instructions not to move an inch before starting to clean poo off the changing table, the carpet, the nappy bin, the bathroom floor, the bouncy chair and myself …
then stuffing various poo covered items in the washing machine with a decent amount of nappisan and putting it on a pre-wash cycle which takes FOREVER… ( this was the first of 4 loads of laundry today )

… deep breath and count to 10 …

then caught up on making breakfast, gulping down mine while sterilizing bottles and washing up…
then managed to finish tidying up and getting winry dressed before giving sam his bottle…

Sam was totally overwhelmed by the weekends activities and lack of sleep so would not go to sleep in his cot.
His rocking chair cover was recouperating from its poo attack in the spin cycle…
So I resigned myself to having my 11kg dumpling sleep in my arms…
He went off to sleep without too much trouble, however only 10 minutes later winry rushed off to the bathroom …
I was praying it was only a wee (which she manages herself) only to hear her call “mummy help me please – I done a poo” …
after a deep defeated sigh I gingerly tried to transfer Sameth to his bed but of course he woke up and promptly started to cry…
fast forward 10 minutes and after helping winry and trying to soothe my baby boy back to the land of nod I realised there was no hope of getting him back to sleep again this morning…

It was now only 09:30 …
Sameth the definition of grumpy.
Winry whinging and whining after a far too exciting weekend.
Mummy trying not to think of the fact it was only Monday morning…

The day went on as it started and other highlights included Sam tipping over his nappy bin and having a good old rumage through it while I was attempting to tackle the folding of mount everest of Laundry,
one of winrys drawers breaking as I was pulling it out of its chest and it dropping on my little toe, me spilling liquid detergent all over the kitchen floor, shrinking some socks, the delivery guy knocking on the door just as I got sam down for his lunchtime nap and stubbing my toe on the foot of the PC desk…

Have you ever heard the ancient Myth of Sisyphus by the philosopher Albert Camys ?

http://www.nyu.edu/classes/keefer/hell/camus.html

Some days parenting can feel like that. Today was a day like that.

And on days like today …
… I call my husband at work just to hear his deep calm voice.
… nothing pleases me more than a pile of clean folded laundry.
… a couple of biscuits just won’t do it.
… the only thing that really matters is the love for my family, Sams soft little hands patting my face as he gurgles and chuckles,
Winry coming up to me just to give me a kiss and my husband making me a cup of tea just the way I like it once the kids are tucked up in bed…

Until next time…
ta da

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Don’t pick a side…

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“Don’t pick a side…”

I wish someone had told me that before the birth of my first child …

There are so many choices in the world of parenthood – well there are so many choices in life generally –
but as a parent the choices you make have an immediade impact on a whole other life and that can sometimes be a scary responsibility…

Sometimes it can seem like you have to pick a side and decide what kind of parent you are going to be – let me illustrate…

Mum A

She has played her growing baby music in uterto, meditated and rubbed her bump with aroma therapy oils.
She never once had a drop of caffeine or alcohol and her cravings consisted of asparagus and steamed fish.
She did pregnancy yoga and wrote an in depth birth plan.
She had a home water birth without any pain relief amongst dimmed lights and scented candles.
She breastfed her baby on demand, co slept and carried it around in a sling.
Her baby was weaned the baby-led way on only organic foods from the age of 6 months.
She uses washable nappies, eco friendly detergent and baby clothes from fair trade manufacturers.
She is a gentle parent and naughty steps do not exist in her vocabulary.
She is a stay at home mum who does lots of activities with her child such as reading and playing outdoors.
There is no TV for the child until it is at least two, neither are there computer games, smart devices or barbies.
She goes by the books of William Sears and she fits her life around her child.
She is a really great mum who loves her child and the child thinks she is the best mum in the world.

Mum B

She didn’t really plan this pregnancy but is hugely excited just the same and paid to have a 3d scan of her baby.
She has had a couple of glasses of wine, simply cannot do without at least two cups of tea a day and her cravings are mainly chocolate cake and ice cream.
She takes pregnancy one day at a time while all the while praying the nausea will eventually pass.
She had a scheduled c- section.
She choose to bottle feed her baby, it slept in a cot in its own room right from the start, and was sleep trained to learn to soothe itself.
Her baby was weaned the traditional way with jars and pureed food from 4 months onwards.
She used disposable nappies and went shopping for cute little outfits for her precious baby.
She is an organised parent and the naughty step is a necessary tool to teach her child right from wrong.
She went back to work after her paid maternity leave and her child is at nursery when she is at work.
The child can watch some TV and is allowed to play with her smart device under supervision, there are lots of modern toys in the toy box.
She goes by the books of Gina Ford and her child’s life needs to be structured and ordered.
She is a really great mum who loves her child and the child thinks she is the best mum in the world.

Now, to me personally it often seemed like I had to pick a side but the problem was that I didn’t know which one was the right side …
Midwives and health visitors are meant to be a “go to” for advice and support but they can often have very variyng opinions…

When I had Winry my health visitor was a very “by the books” kind of person who told me everything exactly as it was meant to be told.
No dummies until 6 weeks, back to sleep, Baby in its own cot in your room, wean from 6 months … there was no point really asking her anything because all she had to say to me I could have read in a book…
When I had sam I was exhausted, he refused to sleep anywhere but in my arms…
Now, he was a very strong boy right from the start and when he was about 5 weeks old he rolled himself on his tummy (it was more of an accidental jerk) and slept for 4 hours straight …
the midwive (close to retirement) came in and my first thought was that she would tell me off but she just looked at him, smiled and said – “don’t look so worried love – its how they all slept back in the day”…
(I just want to point out here that it is safest for a baby to sleep on its back and I am well aware of that. This was a risk I choose to take to preserve my sanity)

anyway …
my point is – there are so many options and choices and they say nothing about whether or not we are a good parent. Every mother, Baby and family situation is different and there are very little “rights” and “wrongs”

It seems so silly now but sometimes when I see a mother carrying a baby in a sling I imagine her breast feeding and co sleeping – it’s a cliche that instantly forms without intention…
So often I have gone against my instinct because I was confused or torn or convinced otherwise.
I have regretted it everytime.

So if anyone with a baby on the way ever asked my opinion all I would tell them is:
“don’t pick a side – or if you have to – pick your baby’s side and trust your insticts – thats what we were made for after all”

until next time…

ta da

The Value of Tolerance

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Now I know this is supposed to be a blog about parenting and my life with the kids, but I came across a video on Facebook and I really just needed to wite about it…
I do feel that it absolutely has a place here, because in my opinion the most important value we can teach our children is Tolerance.
Please excuse me if I go on a few tangents here – but I do feel very strongly about this topic…

This is the video (in two parts) and it is about a project called “blue eyes/ brown eyes” It is really worth watching at least the first part before reading on…:

This is a link to the wikipedia site for some more background information for those who are interested:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_Elliott

The exercise was developed to educate the students involved about the effects of being a minority.
In the US this is often used in relation to racism but it can be applied in so many ways, such as workplace diversity training or school projects. And that is where I first came across it.

I am extremely interested in History which is just as well since where I grew up you can’t really escape it…
I was born in Weimar, which is a place of huge historic and cultural Interest.
(and well worth a visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weimar)

One place that Tourists with an interest in History rarely miss is Buchenwald – a concentration camp established in 1937 and liberated in 1945. The camp is located only 8km from the city centre.
In April 2005, the 60th Anniversary of the liberation of the camp, there was a huge project week organised by all secondary schools in Weimar and surrounding area.

At the time I was in the 11th grade and in the middle of studying for my Abitur (A-Levels). Every Student had to sign up for a project and I signed up for “blue eyes/brown eyes”.
When we arrived at the venue we were divided into two groups – students with blue eyes and students with brown eyes…
Now I was, shall we say, somewhat outspoken as a student so I promptly pointed out that I had green eyes… I was put in the “blue eyes” group for “asking a stupid question with a defiant attitude”…
As in the video the “blue eyes” group was led into a cold empty room without any further explanations or niceties, while the exercise was explained to the “brown eyes” group.
This seemed to go on for a long time. After a while someone came and in and looked at all of us then addressed me and asked me if there were any problems… slightly regretting my previous attitude I just humbly replied “no”. He then asked me to follow him and took me to the other group. The atmosphere here was entirely different…
The rest of the exercise was pretty much the same as in the video above… It was altogether not a pleasant but indeed a very eye opening experience…
The point that they used me to make was how quickly a person can be convinced to go along with a majority to protect themselves from exclusion.
Now, I consider myself a very tolerant person but I kept my mouth shut and did what was expected of me. Prior to this experiment I would have sworn blind that I would always stand up for what I believed in.
But afterward I realised that had I lived in 1930/ 1940 there really is no way of knowing what I, or anyone else in that situation would have done. Would I have protected myself and my family or would I have stood up for what I believed in and risked the worst? Would there even have been a point in taking that risk?
It is so easy to make assumptions, so very easy to go along with the mob, so easy to blend in and conform. But that doesn’t make it right.

What individuals living in that time were faced with every day were life and death decisions and speaking up could and would have had dire consequences – So many of us living today are so very fortunate, in that we can make some very simple choices that can truly mean the world to another person without us having to risk very much more than maybe a disapproving relative or a few bemused looks…
We can choose to accept everyone for who he or she is, regardless of their ethnic origin, sexual preferences, physical abilities or religion.
We can choose to teach our children to treat everyone with respect and kindness…

At this point a very poignant example:

Parents like this are the epitome of ignorance … I can only sigh … I don’t have words that articulate in an appropriate manner the annoyance I feel towards this woman…
I would hazard a guess that her children will not grow up to be the most tolerant of people to say the least …

Intolerance and Discrimination happens everyday, everywhere – in one form or another. Bullying, internet trolls, homophobia, sexism, racism… the list goes on… and on… and on, and it makes me so very, very sad.
Isn’t life far too short to spend it judging others?

My Grandma used to say (in not so many words) we are all born naked and we can’t take anything with us when we die, we can only try to do the best with the opportunities we are given.

In the words of Mr Martin Luther King:
“I have a dream that my”…”little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Until next time…
Ta da =)

Fathers day

This Sunday is Fathers Day in the UK and in this post I’d like to say thank you and happy fathers day to 4 men in particular…

I never knew my father and while we could have benefited from another earner in our family from a financial viewpoint I never felt as though I was missing him in my life.
I have two older brothers, when I was born Sven was 12 and Steve 7 1/2. My mother worked a lot and my brothers often had to keep an eye on me while she was gone.
They have always been father figures in my life – Sven probably more so than Steve, being the older one …
They walked me to school, helped me with my homework, bought me ice cream and locked me in the storage cupboard to wind me up 😉

 

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Don’t get me wrong they were also typical older brothers annoying their little sister, pinning me to the floor while tickling my feet and getting annoyed when I “borrowed” their t-shirts to wear as night shirts 😉
But they were always there for me and tried to guide me and look after me as best as they could…
When I was about 8 years old I desperately wanted a hamster as a pet and Steve bought it for me from his own money…
And when I had my graduation ceremony Steve attended, even thouh it meant he would only have about 3 hours of sleep before his next shift began…
Most of my family were smokers when I was a little girl and I often said it was a disgusting habit and I would never smoke…
Sven made a deal with me promising that if I reach my 18th birthday without having smoked he would pay for my drivers licence, and he held up to his end of the bargain… I never smoked in my life…

They both now have children of their own and I admire them for the fathers they are, putting their children first and being kind and gentle and involved in their lives…
I love them very much and will always be grateful for their influence in my life. They jointly gave me away on my wedding day and it was one of the proudest moments in my Life.

 

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When I first came to England to meet Craigs Family I was very nervous indeed.
I remember the first time I met Kevin, my father in law- he delivered some new towells to Craigs House where I was staying (sent by Jean, Craigs mum to make sure “the boy had some decent towells to offer the girl”)
There was this tall man with the warmest grin you could imagine and any nervousness disappeared immediately…
Craig never has a bad word to say about his father and I have always felt nothing but welcome in their house.
He is the most wonderful Grandfather- babysitting, taking them for days out, taking great interest in their lives and right there for them whenever they need him…
He can be a bit grumpy at times but this gentle giant really deserves a big thank you for everything he does for his extended family year after year …

 

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It is sometimes said that a woman chooses the man she marries after the image of her own father… Thinking about it this actually rings true when I considder it.
Craig has the sense of duty and responsibility that I so often saw in Sven and the sense of humour and sillyness that very much reminds me of Steve
(I have been known to call Craig Steve when he is having a particularly irritating moment).

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He is always there for us and would willingly give his own life for his children. He has been there for every scan. He has shaved my legs when I could no longer reach my ankles,
He has truly been an invaluable source of strength to me throughout my pregnancies. I could give birth to our babies feeling safe, knowing he was right there by my side.

 

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He has changed nappies, soaked muslins in stain remover and driven the babies around in the car for mile after mile when there was no other way to get them to sleep.
They have both rested on his chest to sleep and he never hesitates to muck in when he comes home from work, even if he just finished a 12 hour day.

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He is the sole earner for our family and supports us all without any complaint or request of his own. He has made many sacrifices for us and never fails to remain posive.
He lights up when he is with his children and I love watching him play with them- nothing makes me happier!
I am so very grateful to have found him and hope he always feels loved and appreciated by his little brood … 😉

 

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And this weekend Hunny, I will join you for a glass of whisky to thank you for all the times you’ve joined me for a cup of peppermint tea 😉 XX

 

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A very happy fathers day to all the Daddies, Granddads, Brothers, Uncles and Fatherfigures out there !!!
Your Involvemennt means the world to all the little souls that look up to you as their heroes and guardians…

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Until next time …
ta da 🙂

 

 

 

 

Keepsakes

A keepsake is by definition “a gift that evokes memories of a person or event with which it is associated”.
We live in the social media era and the most common keepsake of our time is probably the photograph. It’s instant, easy to access and widely shared through facebook, twitter, instagram and the like.
It is usually digital and the vast majority of the western civilisation probably take at least a few pictures every week with their smart phones and digital cameras.
But despite it being such a big part of our daily lives, every picture and image is still precious to us and their loss a minor catastrophy.
My mother in law recently lost hundreds of pictures of her grandchildren due to a faulty memory card… images and little details of memories she will most likely never get back.
People often don’t hesitate to spend hundrets of pounds on photoshoots to get their babies, weddings and even pets photographed. The camera is one of the most essential items on everyones holiday check list…

And it is true, pictures are wonderful keepsakes – they capture so much from hairstyles of certain eras to first teeth and the smiles of lost loved ones…
They freeze a moment in time and produce an image that can be used to help recall that moment. And to share it with whomever you choose.

Babybump-10

(http://jessica-roberts.com/)

I have pictures all over my house – in frames, in albums, on back up files on my hard drive…
In fact I back up all photographs from my phone and camera once a month onto a portable hard drive in case anything ever happens to either decvice… it is small and seperate to the Computer so can easily be unplugged and carried in the event of a flood or fire … (yes I really am that obsessive ;))

But I am the proud owner of many, many treasured keepsakes. It’s my most favourite hobby to make and preserve memories in whatever way I can think of.
I have a story for almost every present I have ever knowingly been given and all of our ornaments have a very special meaning to me …

I am going to open my treasure box as it were and share some of my most precious ones with you … and the stories that go with them …

I don’t have many photographs or keepsakes from my own childhood.
As I mentioned before- I was raised in what is called “die neuen Bundeslaender” – the parts of Germany that were under Soviet occupancy before the Wall was built…
In legacy of a communist community  it was the norm that if your mother worked with say 5 other women which most likely all had children of different ages then you would swap childrens clothes, toys, prams and everything you could think of amongst each other…
We also moved houses a lot throughout my childhood and as a result not many childhood items other than a few books or teddies remained…

But there is two which I love dearly and have now passed on to my two children:

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I have had the blanket ever since I can remember and when I was no longer using it I saved it so I could use it for my own children one day…
Now it belongs to my daughter and she loves it just as much as I do…
The teddy on the chair is a souvenier I received from my mother when I was about 3 years old … It’s one of my earliest memories.
My mother had to attend a seminar and was gone for several days and when she got back she gave me this bear. It now belongs to Sameth, my little boy.

I have made sure that I preserve my childrens most precious things for them so I could share and pass them on to them one day.
So I brought each of them a wooden box when they were born and painted them.
They contain things such as maternity notes, ultrasound pictures, umbilical cord clips, first clothes, cards, and even an empty tub of stretchmark cream – it was the only cosmetic I could stand the smell of when I was pregnant 🙂

 

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We also had foot and handprints done for each of them when they were two months old and it was really astonishing to see the size difference when we collected Sameth’s …

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(http://www.pennikkitypots.co.uk/)

 

I have also already given thought to what each of them would inherit should something happen to me and informed my hubby accordingly (who thought it was maybe a little morbid … 😉 )

Winry will be given my engagement ring, the most beautiful item I posess, the golden heart necklace her daddy brought me the day I found out I was pregnant, as well as the pearl jewellery I wore on our wedding day.

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Sameth will receive the only family heirloom that I have:

My Grandma was a “Sudetendeutsche”. That means she was an ethnic German but living in the the lands of the bohemian crown.
After 1945 most ethnic Germans were expelled from Czechoslovakia and sent to Germany and Austria. They were only allowed to carry the most essental things with them when they were marched out, things such as food and basic clothing.
My Grandmothers Uncle was a cobbler and he hollowed out the heel of her boot and hid the little angel in it that she had been given by her mother for her baptism. When he re-sealed the heel he indented it slightly and it has had a mark on it ever since …
I wore it as my “something old” pinned under the skirt of my wedding dress on our wedding day…

 

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And we make new memories too, and try to immortalise them, there is quite a few nifty little companies out there that take pride in preserving mementos of other people’s lives…

There is one that I am very fond of at the moment and have coincidentally come across on facebook.
It’s a one woman organisation called “Treasured Trinkets” and she makes personalised silver and stainless steel jewellery and ornaments such as mine:

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(https://www.facebook.com/amidotty)

 

And one last one …
I have always known that I would want to be a mother. When I met my husband in 2006 we fell in love instantly and knew we wanted to stay together despite the fact that he lived in England and I lived in Germany, we knew we would make it work.
We wanted to have a Family together and grow old with one another…
Before we were even married or trying to have a baby we went to China due to my husbands work and came across a baby clothing store.
He asked me if I wanted to go in and have a look around and we actually ended up buying a few items for the children we would one day have…
Now, many people would say that’s bad luck and conceiving our first child took us over two years and certainly caused some heartache…

but I just wanted to share this picture of my Son wearing one of those items of clothing nearly exactly 6 years after it was first purchased…

 

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And on that note…

until next time …

tada …

Today we had fun !!!

Parenting can sometimes seem like an awful lot of work, stress and endless to do lists…

Sam is getting to the age now where he is mobile and a real little character and they are not in school or at nursery yet…
All too often I forget how quickly time passes you by and before you know it they are grown up.
…and then you have those moments of pure joy, light- heartedness, spirit lifting happiness and just plain fun that are etched in your memory never to be forgotten …

And I’m trying to remind myself as often as I can to stop, breathe and enjoy the time we have together…
and it can be the simplest things from baking together, a pillow fight, a walk in the woods or … an evening in the garden …

When my wonderful husband came home from work today there were still some sheets in the garden on which me and the kids had spent a couple of hours earlier that day.
He’d had a bit of a stressfull week and decided to stretch out a few minutes before dinner.
It wasn’t long before Winry pounced on him and requested Sam join them too, wich I welcomed since it got them out from under my feet and I got to cook dinner in peace.

When I went to check on them I saw this:

 

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They just looked so happy and carefree tumbling about…
So I decided we would have dinner in the garden and take advantage of the nice weather while it lasted…
And let me tell you – this will become a habit! It was just so lovely to eat dinner in the fresh air with the sun and the breeze and the birds tweeting… BLISS

 

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As always my smallest got rather messy but I didnt want the fun to stop quite yet…
So… I got some hot water from inside and cold from the hose and we did this:

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…It was an awesome evening!!!

Now the kids are in bed asleep, the kitchen is a total mess, there’s a whole load of laundry to be done tomorrow…
But all 4 of us are thoroughly happy, de stressed and ready for the weekend 🙂

And I got some brilliant pictures to treasure 🙂

Until next time…
ta da