Saturday, 19 January 2013

Y5 - 19/365: The Snowman

All bundled up and ready to go! Ryan begged Matt yesterday to build a snowman, but when they went out to try, Matt found the snow too powdery and it wouldn't stay together very well. There was a mound in the garden Matt made with the broom, but he couldn't manage to roll any properly into snowman parts. So, when Ryan was up from his nap we all got bundled up and had another go!

It wasn't perfect but we had far more success this time around. Ryan helped me choose some good 'arms' from the apple tree and once we used some stones for the face and a carrot nose, the snowman was nearly complete. 

A cheap top hat from the cupboard and Matt's Albion scarf (knitted by his Nan) were the finishing touches and...VOILA! We have a snowman!

Ryan was very tickled that our snowman had a carrot nose and even took to counting the stones that made up the eyes and mouth.

I'm sure at some point Ryan suggested we make a snow dog as well, but I think we will have to save that for another day.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Y5 - 18/365: Timestamp Snow-Day

7:25 am - My morning begins here. Just a little more than a light dusting, but so far nothing major. I can still see bits of pavement and the road is definitely clear. Just a five minute jaunt to the bus stop and I'll soon be on my way to Smethwick.

8:40 am - The snow has gotten heavier and heavier and no sign of my bus, which should have arrived four times in the last hour. To pass the time I've been pretending to re-check the timetable on the bus stop only to see the same, seemingly inaccurate, times and I've also told off a group of secondary school children for throwing snowballs into oncoming traffic towards people's windscreens. They retaliated by flipping me the bird to say "Sure, no problem," I'd imagine, and I encouraged them to get their butts to school and learn something.

8:47 am - Bus 53 FINALLY arrives, the driver paying no attention to my comment about him being the first bus in over an hour and I'm on my way, albeit late to the school.

9:20 am - I arrive and sign in before heading upstairs to the year 5 class I'm covering. We get through the rest of their literacy and numeracy before their morning "wet" play.

10:00 am - Incoming text from Matt. The childminder has phoned that the roads in Kingswinford are getting bad as she was just out in her 4x4 and was having difficulty, so upon suggestion he was heading there from work to collect Ryan and bring him home. By now, I'm wondering WHY my school even bothered staying open.

11:00 am - Hark!! Moment of truth!! Parents of the pupils are sent a text to come and collect their children and we do a bit of guided reading before playing some fun critical thinking games as the class dwindles in size.

1:20 pm - The Headteacher pokes her head into the staffroom to get a headcount on the number of children left and sorts out one staff member to cover each year before dismissing the rest of us, who live further away, to go home.

1:30 pm - I sign out and leave my timesheet behind to be faxed. I stop across the road at the Poundland for some cheapie (kids') gloves, since I forgot mine and make a pit-stop in the Cash & Carry to purchase a little surprise for Ryan. Bus services have been terminated, so off I trek to Smethwick Rolfe Street train station.

2:20 pm - I arrive at the train station to delay upon delay, but 20 or so minutes later I'm on my way home.

2:50 pm - Nearly home, I stop at Tesco Express around the corner to pick up things for tea. Lucky for me I have a method of transport so I don't have to lug everything up the hill and around the corner to the house.

2:57 pm - So close and such a contrast to the road this morning. The original photo this morning was taken just around the corner, about 150 yards ahead. Such a shame people in this country don't shovel the pavement outside their homes -- makes for a slow and slippery journey.

3:01 pm - Ryan peeking out the window, tipped off by Daddy that Mommy was nearly home. You can't see it very clearly, but he was elated to see his big, bright orange surprise sledge!

5:21 pm - After Mommy was able to warm up and have a bite to eat (courtesy Bostin Bites and a very thoughtful Daddy), we all bundled up and headed outside briefly to break the sledge in. Yes, I say 'sledge' here even though the word is very unnatural to me as I know it to be a SLED. Sledge makes me think of sledge hammer...which is very far from a device by which to slide leisurely down snow-covered hillsides.

 5:25 pm - Getting ready for Daddy's alternative idea, so time for a cheesy grin.

5:26 pm - Wait. Don't they call this curling?

5:35 pm - SNOWBALL!!! Alright. That's a'wrap! Time to head in and warm up with a nice, blue bath!

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Y5 - 17/365: Snow Predictions?

It has started again. We're meant to brace ourselves for a pretty wintery weekend and many are even predicting school closures tomorrow. Some may think this country is a little over-the-top when it comes to what they class as "severe" weather, but the truth is they don't have the resources to deal with even a small amount of snowfall. With narrow roads, cars parked on dual-carriageways and the lack of actual snow-plows to clear the snow to begin with...the country has no choice but to shut down.

I have no idea what we're in store for. The weather may or may not be as accurate, but I dread to think of the worst possible scenario.

So, for now, I won't think about it...and instead will join my son in reading some Little Bear stories for bed.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Y5 - 16/365: Monkey Boy!

I managed to get to Kingswinford a bit earlier tonight, but only to find my number one son strapped in a push-chair watching a film. When I asked I was told it was because he just wouldn't stay still.

Great. He's having one of "those" days, I see.

Apparently this is the way time-outs are done as well because he won't stay in one spot.

Figures. Little monkey.

Once home we decided he had some energy to burn, so what better way than playing with Daddy. Wouldn't you know, bedtime worked a treat.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Y5 - 15/365: Poo Breakthrough

Last week we were left with a disappointment towards the end as Ryan, who has been pretty successful on his potty adventures, had several "rapid-fire" type, poo-related accidents at Nana's house resulting in a decision to place him back in nappies. He's excellent getting to the potty for a wee, but tends to hide when it's time for a poo or won't tell us he needs to go until he has already gone.

We aren't keen on the idea of Pull-Ups because we feel they send the wrong message and may confuse him since they pull up and down like pants...but to a potty-training toddler, they *feel* like nappies, taking away any awareness of an accident like pants would. But to my mother-in-law's defense, it was a lot to take on since I think he may have also had some tummy troubles, so we didn't hesitate.

We kept Ryan in nappies at the weekend although he protested and wanted to be in pants like a big boy. Then when at the childminder's yesterday, she said it was a shame that he's gotten so far with potty training and admitted to putting him in pants (that I kept in his changing bag) while they were at home just to see how he'd do and he stayed dry for her all day AND actually did a poo when she pushed him a bit to have a go! I wondered if it was him trying to show us he was ready so I asked this morning what he wanted and he insisted pants. I went with this because we didn't have plans to go anywhere since his preschool teacher was coming for a home visit.

When I left the room to do breakfast and returned, sure enough, there he was on his potty like a proper little man and his reading material! He wasn't ready to give up so I'm just going to cheer him on!

He stayed dry all morning and through his nap and then this afternoon went to the potty ALL ON HIS OWN to do a POO!! TWICE!!! He was so excited the first time, he wanted to keep it for Daddy to see. I explained it was too smelly so down to the toilet we went to send the poo off to the 'poo party.' Thankfully, he had another to do once Daddy was home, so he didn't have to miss out completely.

Fingers crossed that we're on our way!

Monday, 14 January 2013

Y5 - 14/365: After "Cool" Club

We had our first proper snow last night and this morning, but it was all washed away with rain before mid-day. Unfortunately I had forgotten my umbrella, which meant a very wet trek into Kingswinford from Smethwick to collect Ryan from St. Mary's afterschool club. His childminder has taken her afterschool session there, which will be convenient once Ryan starts school next Monday.

When I arrived, Ryan was none the wiser as I crept past and took a cheeky photo from behind. He was totally emersed in one of his favourites...Pingu.

The idea behind me using my daysaver bus fare to Kingswinford was that I would arrive just after 5 and collect Ryan so we could head home shortly after on the bus again and save Matt a trip from his new job in Halesowen. However, this forgetting the umbrella mess threw a spanner in the works because we stayed and waited for Matt instead, who arrived just before 6pm.

Still, Ryan was very excited to have been "at cool (school)" even if it wasn't properly in his own preschool class. but his teachers come for a home-visit tomorrow! He's really looking forward to it!

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Y5 - 13/365: Wild Thing

The day Ryan wore his reindeer pyjamas and made mischief of one kind and another his mother called him "WILD THING" and Ryan said "Chee cry," and "For cryee out wow!" So he was sent to bed without any treat.

Then he slammed his bedroom door.


I'll tell you something, the "terrible twos" have nothing on the threes it seems. He is simply oppositional at every turn. It started very first thing in the morning. He came into our room swinging a ribbon around and around his head. I simply asked him calmly, "Ryan, give that to Mommy, please," and I was met with a defiant sounding, "NO!" as he carried on as if I didn't exist. So, I tried again and again, "Thank you, good boy. Put it in Mommy's hand."

Would you believe the little sh--, uhm, I mean "dear" looked RIGHT at me and continued to swing it around?!

Did I stutter?!

So I tried being firm.

"Ryan...put. it. in. Mommy's. hand. NOW. please."

Nope, didn't even phase him.

Then Daddy rolled to face our direction..."RYAN! Give that to MOMMY!" he demanded, the bass in his voice echoing.


The thing is, we KNOW he can hear us. And we know he's not being defiant, as such, but rather exerting a bit of independence. But boy did he manage to make it last ALL day, resulting in us staying home instead of our usual visit to Emma & Daz's for dinner. There was no way we were subjecting them and our niece to his antics.

He ate most of his dinner and gave little fuss at actually preparing for bed, so it was assumed it wouldn't be too difficult to get him down. Our "new/improved" routine is to aim to have him upstairs for 8 o'clock because we suspect sleep, or the lack of, to be the main culprit...along with his strong will, of course.

We did the usual after his bath. Got him dressed in PJs...cuddles for Daddy...story choice (tonight's was 'Birthday Soup' from the Little Bear series). Then 3 song requests from Mommy before I lie next to his bed...usually holding his hand or waiting for him to give me "knuckles" and then drifting off 5 minutes later.

Try SIXTY minutes on and he's WIDE AWAKE chattering to Teddy!! So, I calmly explained Mommy was going and I would be up to check on him later.

What's that? No more attention?

As soon as Matt and I were in the front room with season six of Dexter queued up on Netflix, he started in. First with just whinging at the top of the stairs. We called up to him that it was bedtime and although he would initially run with a guilty conscience back to his room. Matt even went up to try and coax him to lie his head down and stay in bed.

The last straw was when he morphed into a stroppy pre-teen and began slamming his bedroom door!

The battle line was officially drawn and Matt was the first to respond to Ryan's preliminary strike with me not far behind. A good old fashioned telling off left a young lad in fake little crocodile tears and a Mommy and Daddy at their wits end.

We thought that was all it would take...but still not. The "up and down" game of 'popcorn' continued for another 45 minutes before I went to check on him.

This is what I found. Finally, by half eleven, he waved his little white flag in defeat as he fell asleep on the floor next to his bed.

I don't know how I will cope with him some days because I love him more than that of my own life, but he is turning into quite the little button-pusher. In the meantime, I cannot wait until the circuit in his clever tot-brain completes and he gets that Mommy and Daddy are the boss for his own good.

Until then, he can roar his terrible roars and gnash his terrible teeth all he wants. Eventually, by the end of the night, he will have to step back onto his private boat (aka bed) and wave goodbye.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Y5 - 12/365: After Dark

Em and I decided to stay for the Bin-Glo session at Mecca Oldbury tonight. The big prizes were a 250G XBox 360 and a brand new HDTV.

Words can not measure my unhappiness when I came within only ONE number to win the XBox. I think my unlucky streak at bingo in general has surpassed a year so I'm questioning whether a break-up or at least a trial separation might be in order with Mecca...or maybe I won't go again until next Saturday.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Y5 - 11/365: Why Don't You...Stay and Play?

We headed back to St. Mary's today for our second and final 'Play and Stay' session for his Pre-School. Ryan was more that excited to go and made comments the whole way on the bus. When we arrived and he saw the big blue sign he began to chant, over and over: 'I'm going to go to school to-day, I'm go-ing to schoooooooooool.'

He didn't waste any time getting right in. One of the teachers, Mrs. Taylor, was happily playing with the 3D puzzle and it didn't take Ryan very long to go and have a gander.

The thing he was most looking forward to was playing on their playground. So, when the children began to filter outside to join the older Reception children, Ryan turned to me like he was instructed before our arrival and asked politely to go outside.

We popped into the corridor to get his coat and wellies and back through the classroom to the entrance to the playground. Just as Ryan slipped ahead of me through the door, I noticed all the children were returning inside with their parents. It was time to tidy up and prepare to go home and Ryan  did not like it, not one little bit.

He showed his displeasure by screaming at the top of his lungs and having a full-blown paddy!

I can't say I blamed him for being upset because I had no idea they would be ending things that soon. By the time I finally had him calm and on the carpet listening to a story, the other parents had disappeared with Mrs. Taylor for the school tour. Fortunately for my dignity, I wasn't the only parent playing damage control.

Ryan stuck around to sing songs at the end with Miss Oliver and the rest of the children, even suggesting the group sing 'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,' just like he has been for every bedtime since before Christmas.

I still feel a bit to blame for the meltdown because otherwise he has been good as gold all day. Still, he cheerfully said goodbye to his teachers at home time and off we went!

We have a home-visit to look forward to next week and then he officially starts Pre-School on the 21st! My little boy is growing up!!

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Y5 - 10/365: The Most Peaceful Time...

We were a bit off-kilter today and I'm feeling awful that Ryan's Nana has felt the brunt of it. This is one of the reasons my first opportunity for a photo wasn't until tiny terror was fast asleep.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Y5 - 9/365: Adventures of Ryan and Little Bear

 Look out! Today Ryan and his little teddy bear went on the bus towards Kingswinford so Ryan could have his first taste of school! It was a bit bright at the bus stop so his cheesy grin pose was more cheese than it was 'grin.'

The day itself was simply a 'Stay and Play' with parents having a small informational meeting as the children did all the playing. Ryan had no problems getting stuck in and when we went outside he headed straight for the basketball hoop.

Hmm. I wonder if I had any influence on this decision. Maybe he can be a point guard like his mama?

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Y5 - 8/365: Write On!

I did have some work today, but only for a 1/2 day at Olive Hill, not far from home. This meant that Ryan was able to stay home with me until Grandad came to collect him just after ten this morning. He made the most of it though and begged me to let him work on his Tot School notebook.

And get this...for the FIRST time on his own, he traced his very own name!! Then afterwards, much like his Mommy, he sat back in his chair to admire his work.

Well done to my little buddy! x

Monday, 7 January 2013

Y5 - 7/365: Back in the Saddle Again

Work took me to Eaton Valley in West Bromwich today for my first day back since the Christmas break. I must say I do like the school quite a bit. The children are probably the most well-behaved of all the schools I teach and they're generally quite friendly.

I had a year 6 class in the morning with about 16 pupils and then year 5 in the afternoon and both classes held up the reputation I've witnessed of the school. It was bliss! I wanted to stay.

As it turns out, I wasn't the only one with a good day. Ryan had his first day back with the childminder and managed to stay dry all day! This included the four hours spent at Chilly Kiddy's. He did have an accident with a poo, but otherwise good to go!

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Y5 - 6/365: Judgment Day

I'm fairly certain every parent goes through a day, week, month or period such as this. Their child is doing something they're not proud of and they don't mention it to others, especially other parents, for the fear of being judged. But why is this? Shouldn't we stick together as parents and support one another? Why should we be made to feel like we don't do enough to discipline our children? You know about the looks you get when your child starts screaming bloody murder in the middle of Toys R Us. Those stares you get that tell you, 'yeah, you have THAT child.'

The thing is, Ryan is lovely MOST of the time. He's very loving and empathetic -- empathy being something many children his age don't grasp. He's surely not perfect by any means, but when he is good he is SO good! That said, when he is bad...oh boy! Look out!

Matt and I were pushed to our limit tonight. Any discipline/consequence lately seems to get frustrated screaming from him that would shake any adult to the core. I have to take a breath before I intervene or decide to ignore. "Terrible Twos" has nothing on the threes. Thankfully my studies on child development help me understand the 'why' to all of these new displays of defiance from our son, but they certainly don't assist with my own patience and one thing is for sure, my child may have episodes where he tantrums or behaves in a way that we are not teaching him, but I can assure you we DO take care of it and let him know it's not acceptable. I just hope he will learn eventually.

Then, as fast as the nasty behaviour began, he's sitting on my lap and sweetly reading 'The Snowman' with me as if none of it ever happened...

...right before he pulls a 3-hour standoff and refuses to go to bed.

Lord! Grant me serenity! Also, thank you for making my child's working in his favour at the moment.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Y5 - 5/365: Saying Goodbye to Christmas 2012

Yes, we still have our Christmas decorations and tree up. I remember ever, since I was a kid, my Mom refused to let anyone talk her into taking things down before the Epiphany. Matt has now asked me a couple of times over the past few days, so I promised I would pack them up this weekend.

It's a shame, really, as they made the front room look nice and festive. Now it looks just...barren and blah, kind of like tonight's post.

Sorry about that. The man-cub wore us both out and my energy levels have flat-lined.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Y5 - 4/365: Pay It Forward

While it has nothing to do with today's photo, I feel obligated to post a bit of an update on "Operation: Dry Bum." Still on a high from yesterday, I was eager to get Ryan into his pants first thing this morning. As I'm quite stiff and it takes a bit for my Cocodamol to kick in on a morning, I got him into his pants and then went to lay back down whilst attached to the TENS machine, hoping that it would at least numb me faster so I can get moving. As I lie there, Ryan shouted from his bedroom that he had done a wee. I asked if he was dry and he said he was and came into our room for a congratulatory cuddle. His pants were still around his ankles and he said he had gotten them a bit wet. I assumed this was because he wasn't aiming properly behind the potty "shield" bit, but the closer he got to me the stronger "the smell" got.

As it turns out I just need to learn my lesson the hard way, that Ryan needs one of us to physically be up with him first thing when it comes to reminding him the first couple of times.

I got him cleaned up and power sprayed his pants in the shower before returning to discover a flattened "smudge" on his George Pig socks. Funny enough these were the same socks and pair of pants from a couple posts ago -- perhaps a sign? I then spent the next ten minutes playing a fun game called, "Ryan, where's the poo?" and searching around his room. It wasn't until I was walking back through our bedroom doorway a third or fourth time that I FELT it. ICK! A proper golf-ball sized...yeah, I'll spare you any more detail. You're welcome.

The rest of the morning went really well. No accidents or misses and he even stayed dry through his nap! He was up to three stars in no time and very well-behaved! He didn't have to be told off once and at one point volunteered to tidy his toys!

Are we sure this is my child?

We were due in Kingswinford at three to look at a nice bungalow and on the way home decided to pick up a few things at Aldi. When it was our turn at the till I noticed the woman before us had left her purse wedged under the card reader so I pointed it out to Matt and the till worker who realised the woman hadn't gotten very far and was still packing her items by the window. She was understandably relieved that we were so honest to make her wise to her mistake and thanked us profusely. As we walked across the car park to the car I praised Ryan for his good behaviour all day and just then the woman approached us from behind.

"Can I give her this?" she asked as she looked down at my curly-bonced son. I didn't correct her but instead said, "Oh RYAN, look! This very kind lady would like to give you this pound coin. How lovely! What do you say?" Without hesitation Ryan thanked her and she thanked us back again before returning to her own car.

Ryan held his pound coin proudly in his hand the whole way home singing, "I got money, money, money," and we discussed what he could do with it. In the end he decided it would be best to put it into his money box in his bedroom. So, when we got home we headed straight upstairs to make the one pound deposit sensibly into his porcelain England football.

Then, true to Ryan, he wanted it back to play with it in his Megabloks pirate treasure box. be three and completely indecisive!

He asked me later why the lady gave him the coin. I explained because we did a good thing and gave her back something that she lost and we found. I said that sometimes we find things that don't belong to us and it might be tempting to keep them, but the good choice to make is to return it to who it belongs to. In this case, the woman was very happy we did that and wanted to give something back to say 'thank you.' I added that she knew he had also been such a good boy, just to drive home that good deeds never go unrewarded.

He was pleased with that explanation and I was, as well, for such a lovely, teachable moment. I believe they're never too young to take it all in.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Y5 - 3/365: He Did It!

At approximately half past two this afternoon we were preparing the little man for his nap and although he claimed he didn't need the loo, I encouraged him to sit on it anyway just in case. Matt and I carried on our conversation and were interrupted about mid-way through to an over-excited, "I dih it...I dih it!!" When we asked what he did, Ryan exclaimed, "I dih a poo on my poh-ee!" and he stood up to turn around and marvel at his creation.

Immediately I lept forward and wrapped my arms around him in a giant bear-hug and Daddy did the same, nearly dropping his phone! "Well done, mate!" We both congratulated him and I showed him how much faster it was to "clean" him up rather than have to lie down and fiddle with a nappy. As Matt whisked away the contents for disposal, Ryan was on cloud nine and I could certainly feel a rush of adrenaline. There was no way he was having a nap after this achievement...especially after Matt read my mind and returned with a Cadbury's Fudge finger as a reward!

This is what I have wanted for him for the longest time and I was beginning to feel a bit disheartened, if I'm honest, from reading post after post on parenting forums about 'how much more difficult boys are to potty train' and 'how some mums waited a month or more' for their child to be okay with doing a poo anywhere but their nappy. I was prepared for a long-haul and although this isn't the end, it's yet another milestone and step in the right direction. Plus, with that much praise, I'm pretty certain he's confident in what signs to notice he's ready next time.

Now, while we've been on a natural high most of the afternoon over this long-awaited poo, we did think that missing his nap would do him some good and he would go right down for us at bedtime.


I have to sometimes remind myself, 'C'mon...this is RYAN we're talking about here. As IF it were THAT simple!'

We did tea at a decent hour and after a relaxing, orange-coloured bubble bath (yellow and red tabs), he was dressed and ready for his bedtime story closely after half-eight. My instincts were telling me during his story and song requests that it wouldn't be an easy bedtime because he kept wiggling, giggling and trying to put his finger in my mouth and press his nose against mine. It's a good job he's cute because I was starting to get slightly irritated, while at the same time, wanted to enjoy my son's playful nature, knowing he won't always be this small, and he won't always WANT myself or Daddy to tuck him in and sing him songs.

He refused his duvet, kicking it away each time I'd tuck a side, and finally relented to me covering him with the blanket which cousin, Ashley, crocheted for him. I did the usual. I told him "love you," goodnight and I'd see him in the morning, even reminding him that "big boys stay in their beds"...but I didn't even make it to the bottom step before I heard the familiar "pitter patter" across his floor. (By "pitter patter" I mean..."STOMP, STOMP, STOMP, STOMP, THUD!") Each time we'd call up to him, "It's bedtime, mate," he would scurry back to bed, but moments later we'd hear his door open again. Matt claimed he wasn't going to bother going up to tell him off, but this happened repeatedly until about half-ten when Matt went up and softly, but firmly coaxed him to sleep and he hasn't been up since.

Maybe it's the excitement from all the potty training? Maybe it's a growth spurt? Who knows? But I do think his little tune will change next week after Daddy AND Mommy are back to work and his little tush is worn out at the childminders' and the children's centre.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Y5 - 2/365: D.I.Y.

We had an interesting start today to say the least.

The past few mornings with potty training I've noticed that Ryan has been doing his number twos in his nappy before Matt or myself get out of bed, so I had the brilliant idea to get him into pants as soon as possible so his only option was to use his potty that we had sitting in our bedroom. Around half-five, Ryan came into the bedroom and climbed into my side of the bed asking for a cuddle. He stayed there until disappearing sometime between 8 and ten to nine. When he returned I called him over to get him into his clean Thomas pants before turning on his bedroom light to give him time to play...and hopefully poop, reminding him, of course, that the potty was just there in our room.

Imagine my joy and surprise when just moments later he returned, pants round his ankles, waddling determined towards the potty. I was praising him with an enthusiastic "well done" when I smelt it. Immediately I squeaked and raised the level of congratulations, telling him I was SO proud he was doing a poo on the potty! FINALLY! He got it!!

Pleased with my idea to get him into his pants first thing, I began to get out of bed to tend to him when I noticed something on his hand as he smeared it down his leg. Worriedly I turned on the bedroom light and realised he had, unfortunately, not made it in time, really, as I witnessed a mess before me to clean up...complete with trail of "plops" from his bedroom door where he initially began to disrobe.

'It could have been worse,' I kept reminding myself as I distinctly remember a time when my twin brother and sister first discovered they could remove their own nappies. That was the time they "painted" a mural on my parents' STUCCO bedroom walls from their cots...with finishing touches on each other! So yes, it could have been worse. MUCH worse.

Needless to say it took a bit to get everything cleaned up, but once the major bits of mess were cleaned the power shower worked a treat for finishing the job.

Parent Lesson Learnt: Monitor toddler very closely in the morning once placed in his pants.

This evening brought a treat with another 3-star behaviour day, despite no nap. Matt got out something he has been dying to try with Ryan, which was given to him last Christmas by his Nan & Grandad - his JCB Backhoe Loader! It came complete with working, plastic screwdriver!

Ryan was just as chuffed as Daddy to finally get this out of the box, but we think the lack of nap and time of day combination may have been what led to his VERY short attention span. He lasted about 3 minutes into assembly before the distractions and silliness hit. While I know Matt was disappointed a bit because he was saving this as a "Daddy & Ryan" project, he did consider the factors which made Ryan less than enthusiastic and focused on their task at hand.

I suppose one benefit to not having any nap is that we were almost guaranteed our tyke would go down tonight without much fuss. Truth? Like. A. Brick. He was spark out before I finished his third song request. I suppose it's only a good thing because he could do with getting back in the swing of a decent bedtime before Matt and I both return to work.

Now, while this would have been where I ended my blog post, I have decided to carry on briefly to share something I have only just learnt to do. Many months back I had a reader message me that someone had "stolen" some of my images of Ryan. They sent a link to this person's Facebook and sure enough there they were, publicly on display. Not only did they have photos of Ryan as a baby (obtained from my previous blog posts), but it looked like some of several different children.

Well, some people may have immediately put their blog on lock-down, but since I know I have a decent reader base, I decided to leave it public, but instead, begin watermarking my photos. After watching several tutorials, which you can easily find on You Tube, I have found a pretty straightforward way and I've decided to share my knowledge to anyone who may be interested. While this will not keep any future photos from being taken, it may deter people as there is an identifying "mark" embedded in the photo, which would be quite cumbersome to edit out.

My directions are for use in Photoshop CS3, however, it can be used generally the same I would imagine for most editions. Otherwise, a You Tube search should sort it for you. So, in the meantime, let's begin!

First, upload your photo into Photoshop. Next, select the 'text' tool and place the cursor on your page to begin typing. (Make sure the filler colour is set on white.) To get the copyright (c) you can try holding the ALT key and typing the numbers 0, 1, 6 and 9, or if that doesn't work, just find it in another piece of text and copy and paste.

As you can see, for my text I have used my web address for my blog. All this does is alert anyone that this photo was obtained FROM my actual blog, but you can use any company name or handle you wish. Also, you can use any font you wish and place the text anywhere, I chose 'Impact' font and I prefer to place my text within my image so it cannot simply be cropped out.

Now, if you noticed the text is white and blaring in the photo and in order to make it less intense, you have to reduce the opacity. In the menu on the right, reduce the opacity to your liking. I generally stick with about 50%.

From there, click on the 'fx' symbol at the bottom of that same menu and another drop down menu will appear. Click on 'drop shadow.' This means your logo or symbol will stand out a bit in terms of clarity without being so intrusive.

A window will open then, giving you a few choices to edit. You can leave it as is, but I choose to change three of the settings of distance, spread and size to about 5, 10 and 40. 

After that, you can change the 'fill' of the text between 25-50%, which dims the text just a bit more. It's up to you how clear you want it to appear through your picture. I like mine to be faint, but still legible and "annoying" enough so that someone wouldn't want to take my photo.

Finally, if you click on the 'Background' layer and select 'flatten image' it will reduce the layers back down to one and you can save the image as it is from there.

I'm sure some may have simpler methods for doing this, but I felt this produced the best result for what I was looking for. At least now I can feel comfortable that my images, especially ones of my little love, are protected, as they should be.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Y5 - 1/365: And It Starts All Over Again!

And so it begins, another year! Admittedly I slacked on the last 365 and it sadly ended 2 months shy of completion. Typically when I had fallen behind I simply carried on taking photos and just caught up on the posts when I had the chance. However, this time I lacked the motivation and before long life got in the way. I was busy with work, family (of course) and I suppose it became a non-priority. But as I have missed my outlet, my therapy...I'm back!! I cannot promise the same will not happen, but I have high hopes for the blog this year. I want to re-vamp some of my ideas and tweak it a we will see what happens. In the meantime, I bring you day one of my FIFTH year of the 365.

Like many families with little ones and skint from the Christmas holiday, we opted (aka "had no choice") to spend the night in to ring in the new year. Hubby was comfortably seated and playing his Black Ops and I was faithfully at my laptop looking for more programmes that I didn't really need to get hooked on watching.

Our child was nestled, all snug in his bed, whilst visions of "ginge-men" (gingerbread men) likely danced in his head. In fact, after my midnight snog with the other half, I popped up to check on our tiny tot to find him spark out and looking as if he had fallen asleep mid-fist-pump. I suppose the noise of the pyrotechnics outside muffled the sounds of the would-be rave with the teddies in his room, but there was not a glow stick in sight.

I woke up this morning around half-eight to find said toddler, perpendicular across our bed and using my cheek as a pillow. The husband was nowhere to be found, which only meant he had fallen asleep downstairs, again. Alas, this is the expectation after a new game is released or he has a bit more time off work to play.

When I blinked it was nearly an hour later and little man was prancing around the room singing yet another one of his latest, made-up tunes. This one consisted solely of the lyrics, "Mommy, I pooed in my nappy." Lazily I picked up my phone and rang Mr. Bennett downstairs to let him know his presence was needed and shortly after he collected his Ryan-shaped parcel and retreated back downstairs to allow me my promised lie-in.

It didn't take long from the vibrations of the TENS machine to lull me back into a deep sleep and I awoke again shortly after noon. Matt was standing over me and asking if I had any painkillers (for my sciatica...I hadn't) and if I wanted to do Ryan's nap. So, I grabbed my trackies and headed downstairs.

I was briefed on how well the morning had gone with Sir Ryan. We're in the middle of potty training at the moment and today was day five. He only wears pants during the day and he's been a champ at going straight to his potty when he needs a wee! He was even still in the same pair of pants he was put in this morning! To add to that, his behaviour (a focus we're working on) was spot on and he had been listening to Daddy and doing as he was told since he got up! As a result, he had managed to make it to three stars with his space rocket (behaviour chart), which meant a special I told him that if he took a nice nap after his dinner we'd go to the park when he woke up to try out his new scooter that he was gifted for his birthday.

Needless to say the nap occurred without issue and around half-three this afternoon, off to the park we went. The sun had been shining all day, which was a change from the monsoon season we had previously been experiencing, so I wanted to take advantage. We chose a good spot between the children's play area and the skate park and had a nice bit to scoot around. He had an absolute ball!

When it was time to go, we avoided any tears because I offered to allow him to ride the scooter "home." This meant he rode it down the path in the park to the entrance/exit and then together we wheeled it back up the hill to our drive (because it was "too heavy" and Mommy *wasn't strong enough*).

Hey...whatever it takes!

I had a really pleasant time today and therefore a great start to 2013, in my opinion. I'm with the people I love and while we may not have as much as we'd like, there's enough for what we need for the moment and we're still better off than we were before. Plus, being together makes things seem like less of a struggle.

I have two beautiful loves here with me to be more than thankful for, and watching the one grow and learn is the best reward. Just in the past week, along with being a big boy and using the potty, Ryan's been showing us numbers on his fingers. On his last potty venture before bed, he was showing me how many stars he earned today and I'm beyond proud!

I think it's all a sign that 2013 is going to be a great year! Bring it!