Ryan had his first official day with the childminder today and I had my first official day teaching again. By the time he got home and I got home we were all absolutely knackered. So much that I'm too tired to type, so here's how his day went...
This is how I'd imagine Ryan to look as an old-age-pensioner, (possibly in a sponge bath) but same silly face being pulled and likely the same amount of chicken pieces and sauce stuck in his hair, just like tonight.
We were up bright and early today, much like any other morning, 7am start, except Ryan was having a ball of a time in his cot until Matt left for work about 8am. The difference today was that he was dressed as soon as he was changed, rather than staying in his PJ's for brekkie.
Mt father-in-law, David, was kind enough to give Ryan and myself a ride to Kingswinford to meet up with Ryan's new childminder to do some paperwork and give Ryan a bit of time around her. It all went really well as she and I sat and chatted over a cuppa and Ryan went to town with the pots and pans in the play kitchen. We wrapped up some paperwork just as Matt showed up on his dinner break to take us both home and I have to say I totally feel 100% confident about Ryan being with her on the days he won't be with my in-laws. Naturally with them I have no worries or concerns, but it is so nerve-wracking trying to find suitable childcare and fully trust you're leaving them in the best hands when it's not your own family. Thankfully she and her husband are both warm and friendly, and Ryan even met her 9-year-old son who he immediately tried to make friends with by pulling on the leg of his jeans and squeaking.
After a decent nap when we returned home, Ryan was in the mood for a bit of colouring. I think he mentioned wanting to send this one to his Great Nanny in America. ;-)
In this case, it's 'follow the yellow safety foam path' but we did just that today after we made a last minute decision upon leaving the doctor's surgery to take the train to Cradley Heath and check out the local park not far from the train station.
Although it's not as big as the one back home, it's a lot more bright and cheerful and has far less graffiti -- in fact, I'm not certain I saw any.
Ryan had loads of fun chasing the other "big" kids around and squawking at them!
At least it will be soon time to say goodbye to weekday breakfast with my little man...starting Monday. We rang the childminder we decided was best to look after Ryan and I will be meeting up with her later this week to spend some time with Ryan and fill out some paperwork.
I'm beginning to question in what size I should purchase his white jumpsuit and matching cape because we have a climber, folks! Now that he has got the hang of the stairs, he's trying to climb anything and everything. He's even been using his quad all on his own to ride from the telly over to his blocks...because it's such a dehydrating trek across the desert wasteland that is our front room.
Is it too soon to purchase his helmet, safety pads and goggles??
While he napped this afternoon, I took some time to attack the garden. It's been in desperate need of a cleanup from the winter overgrowth and each time I ask Matt we agree to work on it the upcoming weekend -- but still, nothing. So, today I took matters into my own hands. I splurged yesterday at Wilkinson's on a pair of 99p garden pruners and tested them out on all the overgrowth up our front steps, the Hydrangea bush on the patio, and the decaying fern near the front gate.
After significantly cutting back the fern, looky looky what I discovered! I'm pretty sure this is the bluebells starting to emerge and I couldn't be more pleased. From last year I remember the bluebells, tulips and daffodils were the first to arrive in the early spring. I also trimmed back some dead stalk so the rhubarb might have some more room and I even noticed some already popping through the gravel, despite a portion of it coming up from underneath the concrete slab...NOO!
I mentioned to Matt that I might consider starting a garden blog, but he questions if I will have the time. Perhaps it will be updated only every so often, but I would like to keep a bit of a diary on the upkeep of the garden this year since I plan to do just that...upkeep it. Plus, it would be nice to get a bit of feedback from other, more experienced gardeners considering I flew outside today on a wing and a prayer not knowing the first thing about pruning. It felt like giving a hair cut and some places I really needed to force myself to stop.
Every parent swears they have a clever child, but honestly, his smart little brain amazes me sometimes and catches me totally off guard.
In a children's musical CD of nursery rhymes and finger-play songs we often have on in the background, there is a song with the lyrics:
My hands upon my head I place
Upon my shoulders, on my face
At my waist and by my sides
And then behind me they will hide
Then I will raise them way up high
And make my fingers fly, fly, fly
Then clap, clap, clap
And one, two, three
to see how quiet they can be!
It's a catchy little tune and when it comes on most of the time, I turn into nerd mommy extraordinaire and start doing the motions. I then noticed today at lunchtime, in his Bumbo, Ryan was putting his hands on his head when the music came on. Then, later when the song was stuck in my head I began to sing and Ryan's hands went on his head again. Just to be sure I wasn't imagining, I called Matt over and asked Ryan, "Ryan, where is your head?"
Without missing a beat Ryan's hands slapped his head so I began to sing the song and he danced along slapping himself in the head!
And like the ending of any of my wonderful stories...and then I took a photo!
It's been quite a busy weekend as we've visited two childminders, made a trip to Specsavers to find out that I'm more blind than previously thought, and then to Em & Daz's for Sunday dinner.
We actually met one of the childminders yesterday and the other today just after we ate. Since we weren't having luck with anyone from near the cottage, we thought we'd give Kingswinford a shot, with Matt working so close, and sure enough we emerged with two right away! The one we've decided to use lives close to a park, has a purpose-built playroom, and also has the help of her own mother (also registered) on a couple of the days that Ryan would be there. The other one we met was nice as well, but the overall vibe we got from the first was quite positive, so we've decided to use her. Plus, she charges £3.25/hour and that means if Matt gets off early we only pay for the time Ryan was there.
Specsavers was a pleasant trip as well, even though my eyes have gotten considerably worse. Dr. Tam, the opthamilogist, has suggested I switch from my current water-based contacts to a silicone lens which won't absorb as much water and will allow me longer to wear them. Plus, with the amount of times I forget to remove them at night, these will allow my eyes to breathe more as they're 100% permeable.
My eyeglasses were actually picked out by one of the associates who work there as I have an awful time choosing a pair that suit my face. I tried the first pair he suggested, after he took the piss and suggested some from circa 1986, and I loved them! I was a bit nervous about the price until I was told that I had a credit on the account because they had cancelled my contact lens scheme but I was still being charged for it. When I pick them up next Saturday I will simply have to pay a fiver and that's it! I don't think I've ever been so excited about a pair of specs before...but then again, I've never waited about 5-7 years for a pair! Sheesh!
So, Ryan will start next week being with the childminder 3 days and with David and Josie for 2 days, along with his cousin, Amy. Admittedly we're very pleased he's going to at least be in a home-environment all week and he will still get the chance to socialise with children of different age groups at the childminder's and when she takes the kids on school-runs and to play groups.
Only time will tell how Mommy will handle now a full week at a time away from her little bunny, outside of dinner/bedtime rituals. I hope he won't hold it against me or think I'm leaving him.
This photo may look posed, but the funny bit is that he is pressing the button for the motor on his quad and it's dragging him (slowly, of course) across the floor! Meanwhile, he's just grinning away, completey oblivious. He is starting to use it more and more now, though.
My journey to school this morning was a bit longer than the others...nearly 2 miles from the train station one way. The closer rail station is actually closed at the moment due to some construction, so I had to take the train to Small Heath again instead. Luckily the area is now well familiar to me and the walk itself only took me about 30 minutes.
In the two classes I covered there were student teachers from Spain doing their teacher training for University. I had an interesting conversation with each of them about their experiences and the similarities and differences between school systems in each country. It seems in Spain they also finish school at age 16, like here in England -- which is quite literally SO foreign to me!
Before I knew it the end of the day had arrived and I made my way back to the train station, arrived back in Rowley Regis just after five, and then walked home -- 20 more minutes. I barely had a chance to change my clothes before Matt was home with Ryan. And let me just say my little boy gave me the biggest hug and most un-prompted kiss and it absolutely MADE MY DAY!
It's a weird feeling because I knew I would miss him throughout the day, but it helps knowing he is being cared for by family while I'm not around, so I know they love him just as much as me and will look after him like I would. Then when I finally do get to see him for the first time on a night, I can tell he is just so happy and has had such a good day that it makes all the time I have to be away from him so worth it!
...all except for the bits of skin he left behind.
I had an important phone call yesterday with an even better followup today. My supply agency rang to ask if I would be interested in some work in a specific primary school (I'm unable to disclose where) and that it would run from this half-term break all the way to Easter, and possibly onto summer! The phone call today was to confirm that I will get a day in the school tomorrow simply doing some PPA cover -- which is another way of saying 'teacher planning.'
Being that it was consistent longer-term work than just day-to-day, I rang the nursery that my niece attends to see if they had any vacancies, but unfortunately they're all booked up for Ryan's age group. We do have a backup childminder who said she can help out in a pinch on a Wednesday and Friday, but that left us still hanging for Monday.
So, this afternoon I rang around to childminders and nurseries near where Matt works and on the recommendation of a childminder less than a mile from his job, I found someone who seemed quite pleasant and we're meeting up with her on Sunday to have a chat. If all goes well and Ryan and I get a chance to visit her again this week (and for the right price of £3.50/hour or less -- the going rate for childminders) we could have someone in place without the worry of having to burden someone last minute with the favour of looking after him. Plus, with this one in particular, Matt's work is so close that he would have time to stop round on his dinner if he wanted and have dinner with Ryan -- bonus for Daddy!!
We will try to set up meetings with a few other childminders in the area as well...just in case this one doesn't pan out...but I think he and I are both hoping that this one will work out so I can get in some decent wages and start accomplishing some of our longer-term goals.
We've purchased a special Tommee Tippee mat to hold Ryan's bowls and plates to his tray, or any surface he's eating, to discourage him from launching his food from the bowl like a catapult. It seems to be working so far...until his bowl is empty, that is. Then he uses his brute, Hulk-like strength to rip the bowl from the suction and wave it around to display his pleasure in his victory.
In the photo, the bowl is actually no longer on the suction cup, but dear son was soon distracted by the discovery of some vegetable rice that was hiding under the base of the bowl on his mat. He ate the remaining pieces one grain at a time!
Ryan and I went to the Rowley Regis rail station today to catch the train just up to Cradley Heath. We planned a stop in Tesco Extra for things to make a lovely surprise for tea and then maybe a gander at one of the nearby parks before heading home. The only problem was that just down the track we could visibly see the light of the oncoming train, however it wasn't getting any closer. Then we get an announcement that it has actually broken down and all the trains for the next 2+ hours would be cancelled or delayed!
Rather than just sitting there we headed back up to the main office, got a refund on our fare, and scuffled off to outrageously-overpriced Sainsbury's instead. Needless to say it put a bit of a kink in plans as everything took a bit longer due to waiting for a train we learned was never coming and then having to carry Ryan in my arms around the shop because all he wanted to do in his pushchair was screech at the top of his baby lungs.
It seems over the recent weeks that sir likes testing the range of his voice...and this results in lots of side-eyes from the public who aren't so keen of a loud, happy baby being a LOUD, happy baby.
Matt offered to pick us up and upon entering the front room, this is what I discover...
We were in the middle of a brief trip to Merry Hill when we realised that due to his late nap, Ryan hadn't had any dinner mid-day, so we threw in a roasted chicken and tomato sandwich from Greggs along with our two Chicken Salad Baguettes and sausage rolls. He "let" Daddy have some of his tomatoes, but he had no difficulties scarfing down the rest of his sandwich.
Oh yes...ladies and gentlemen, we have reached that time...the era of tantrums!
It seems our young Ryan does not appreciate being told, "No, the green playdoh is NOT food." The funny thing is that I didn't even shout or raise my voice...all he knew was that he was defeated in his attempt to consume a non-consumable and he promptly showed this appreciation of said boundary setting by stomping off in a huff, bottom lip puckered out, and collapsing inside his Peeka Pod to throw his wobbler, complete with screams and kicking feet -- until he discovered that puzzle piece he was looking for and was suddenly 'over it.'
Am I an awful parent for purposefully staging a replay when Matt came into the room?
Ironically I read just yesterday how the "terrible twos" don't actually mean they begin to push/test boundaries when they turn two years old...they happen, in fact, in the second year -- which would be now. It makes perfect sense as I have so many friends who have mentioned "terrible twos" and their children are still under 24 months old. Now, I don't know if this means we're not long for these colourful displays of displeasure, but for the time being they seem easily diffused by a little calm speaking, empathy for his frustration, and redirection.
Let's hope the same holds out through the "terrible teens."
It really didn't matter how many times I signed and said "all gone" to Ryan when he was asking for breadsticks, he just didn't believe me and had to see for himself! Even after exploring the very empty box, he continued to point to the picture of the breadsticks on the front and sign "more" to me.
Another long day made for another over-tired bunny. I had another round at a primary school in Birmingham today covering teachers for their SEN reviews, so Ryan spent his day with Nan, Grandad, and his cousin, Amy.
Unfortunately the morning didn't start off too well when I missed my train because it arrived when I was in the queue getting my return ticket and departed 3 minutes early!! What is up with that?! It took me an additional 45 minutes to wait for the next train that would stop at the station I needed -- drats! Thankfully, I arrived just before the children and was told not to worry about rushing as the Year 3 teacher I was covering would likely take the register for me.
When home-time arrived for the Year 5 children in the afternoon, their teacher was there straightaway and there wasn't any marking to do at all, which meant I could high-tail it to the train station as soon as I signed out at the main office.
My exit from the school wasn't a moment too soon before the throbbing hit full force in my brain. It was so bright walking to the train station that I wanted to claw my own eyes out. The pain was almost piercing so imagine my delight when I arrived at the station earlier than normal and caught the early train, which almost never happens. I was back in Rowley Regis by half-four and home by 5pm.
Once inside I quickly got into my comfy, loungy clothes...took two Ibuprofen...whacked some spuds in the oven for tea, and tucked myself under the duvet upstairs hoping to relieve the migraine that felt like it was eating my brain from the inside out. I vaguely remember Matt getting home with Ryan and lying him in the bed next to me to nurse and the next thing I know it's nearly half-past eight and my little angel is shattered lying next to me all curled up.
I kept him on my shoulder while Matt dished up and he woke just before 9pm when we were getting ready to dig in. And it's weird, but I honestly feel like the cuddles off Ryan really helped alleviate some of the pain. Bless, him!
We don't normally allow or encourage such a late nap with him, but my head was in excruciating pain and I felt nauseous even just sitting up. Since my headache ha gone by the time we were eating, we decided to just allow Ryan to stay awake until he showed signs of sleepiness.
For the first time in a long time, Ryan didn't make it to bed until just before mid-night! Poor sleepy soul. I really hope he manages some sleep tonight.
And with the help of a little Norah Jones to set the mood (The Long Day is Over)...I'm off to bed again as well.
I have one of the most loving little boys in the world! Just this afternoon I noticed him lugging his Mickey Mouse out of his Peeka Pod only to lie him on the floor and cuddle him and say, "Awwwe." I then asked him to give Mickey a kiss and sure enough he leaned in and sweetly bit him on the nose, hehe.
Another "milestone" ticked off the list, that is. Tonight, with Mommy as his spotter, Ryan ascended the stairs for the first time!!
We had just returned home from Em & Daz's and decided that because of the time he would just have a bath and head straight to bed. So, after a bit of a play downstairs with his castle with Daddy while Mommy prepared things upstairs, we all went up together.
Myst was initially used as bait, er, I mean encouragement to get him to go up. And although he won't have free or unsupervised access to the steps, we'd rather him be comfortable with the safe/proper way of using them.
By the time he had gotten halfway I begged Matt to go grab my camera.
Thankfully he got it just in time for me to snap these few photos and a very proud little boy at the peak! Naturally we weren't far behind with huge grins on our faces. Go, little man!!
He managed the small step up to the bathroom then on his own and ran over to the tub, looking back at us as if to say, "Come on, you two...it's bath time! Get my toothbrush ready and let's get this show on the road!"
I love it!
I must also point out that as of this weekend, I have learned of yet another friend who is expecting this year and to say I'm elated for them is an understatement!!
In the past seven weeks, in fact, two people I know have had their babies...one being my cousin and his wife -- their first, a gorgeous little angel called Emma. Then I learned of a long-time friend and her husband, a high school friend and her hubby...and then her sister is having her fourth. Then, while catching up on a blog I learned of a college friend and her third on the way...and now another couple, one a fellow OU alum as well, have just announced they are expecting as well!! That's SEVEN soon-to-be (or just new) mommies and daddies and I think it's the most wonderful thing ever!!
Enough to make one broody again, that's for sure!!
I feel like I want to shout from the rooftops how wonderful this feels, to be a parent. How much they will love every moment, even with the lack of sleep, the bodily fluids they will witness, and the uncertainty sometimes of knowing whether or not they're doing it right...it's so, SO incredibly worth it!
A huge congratulations to all the new mommies and daddies out there as well as the parents-to-be. Embrace your little blessings and take in and savour every moment. I think this all the time and I will say it over and over, especially for the first-timers...this is the BEST feeling you will feel EVER and no amount of love you have felt for anyone or anything can top the love you will feel for your children!
Over the past week or so, Ryan has been obsessed with trying to put on his knit hat all by himself. This is a complete 180 from what he usually does, which is attempt to rip it from off his head as soon as it's placed there. But not now...he grabs two ends and stretches the fabric as far as it will go until Daddy or Mommy give in and help him out. Then, once it's on it stays there -- for a little bit, anyway.
Matt kept saying he looked like a little gnome!
He's good about clothes, really. He will hold out his feet for socks and hold out his hands for mitts, and then during nap time he occasionally will remove his PJ bottoms in his cot.
Now I really want to get him a boy doll that has clothes that can be put on or removed. One who's clothes use buttons, Velcro or zips so he can get used to operating how to get dressed and undressed on his own.
I just may cry the first time he puts on his own shoes!
I look at my "little" boy sometimes and wonder how it is that he manages to look so grown up?! He swiped my mobile this afternoon to play with the Toddler Lock, which he LOVES, and just standing there he was standing so still and he was so focused he didn't seem like my kid!
I suppose it's good that I have my camera and daily photos to reference back on, but is it too much to ask for this little guy to just slow down a bit because I can hardly remember what he was like now as a newborn! Soon he won't be quite so little.
It turned out to be a pretty decent afternoon today, so after a tasty lunch of Dairylea cheese sandwiches and a banana we set off for the park. Initially I wanted to check out a park in Cradley Heath, which would have required us to take the train, but considering the time, we opted for "our local."
I'm not a huge fan of Brittania Park. It's a decent size and pretty clean, so no complaints there, but aside from the swings, there isn't much an early-walking toddler can do. So, once he had a go on the swings I just followed him around the gated 'smaller children' area as he shuffled his legs to get himself to the mini-roundabout...then to the slide...over to the bench...the swings...and back (repeat).
Of course, he's having an absolute ball, squeaking and squawking the whole time, but I do wish there was a bit more to offer.
Back "home" (in America) I would have taken him to Homestead Park. This place is full of little tunnels and such for kids to run through and little contraptions were you can load up a handful of pebbles to shimmy it to a higher level. I wish the UK had an equivalent to a Homestead Park.
After we got home, it didn't take Ryan long to find his favourite toy at the moment. This thing keeps him occupied for ages now!
It's official. Our 13-month-old is wealthier than his own parents! We finally got around to opening s stakeholder account for Ryan's £250 Child Trust Fund voucher -- just one day before the expiry. We've been meaning to do it for quite some time, but things always seemed to come up and it was simply forgotten. But today was the day and we managed to do it all online after a disappointing visit to Britannia Bank & Building Society this afternoon.
We initially planned to open the account with Britannia, however, we were informed by an employee that they only offered cash, or savings, accounts and we wanted something with a bit more than a lousy few pence interest. Apparently many banks and building societies are doing away with their stakeholder accounts since the change with the new government to do away with the vouchers entirely. They went from a £250 voucher at birth and another £250 voucher paid out when the child reached 7 years to now a £50 voucher at birth and nothing further. Ultimately they will go to offering nothing at all, so we're just trying to make what use we can out of this so Ryan will have a bit built up when he turns 18.
I'm just glad we found anything at all after sifting through the long list of potential accounts/banks available.
And do you think that all our faffing about made any difference to this little guy? Nope...no difference at all!!
After two and a half years in a long-distance relationship, I packed my life of 29 years into 21 boxes and moved to England to marry and be with my husband, Matt. Now I'm reveling in the youth of my 30s in Great Britain, supply-teaching in primary schools near Birmingham and enjoying newlywed life, being a mommy, and all the surprises they bring!