Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Taking Care of Toddler Teeth.



First of all - we've made it to a month of photos! Woohoo!

I am very happy with my progress this month. I've been shooting on my camera's manual mode for most of the month, barely using my in-built flash and generally have had more control over my photographs. I'm really happy.

So, off that topic and on to today's events. Toddler teeth. Yesterday Roman went on his first visit to the dentist. I had planned to tag along and shoot (photos) like crazy but when you've had about 4 hours of sleep you do not want to be getting ready for a dentist appointment at 10am - especially when your husband is around and has an appointment at the same time.

I was awake at 10am but let's just the say the spirit was willing and the body was not.

So Roman got a clean bill of dental health - with the dentist saying he should probably have his 'fangs' in the bottom by now (B called them fangs.) Well his 'fangs' are cutting through, just not quite here yet. As for the other teeth, everything is good.

Dental health is important for this family - I am scared to pay the dentist a visit but that's a whole other story - and knowing that Roman has had the best start with his teeth is a very reassuring thing for me. He's also learning from our example on brushing his teeth. At first he would just simply bite the toothbrush and now he's very good at getting right at the back and giving his gnashers a proper good scrub - admittedly me or B go over the teeth before letting him loose with a toothbrush. 

I really hope he keeps up the good habits because a nice set of pearlies does make a difference to a person - and their health. I know the troubles false teeth can cause and I would hate to be the cause of dental problems for Roman.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Sunshine and Lollipops.



This is the breaking point of a toddler with a 38.9 C temperature. And this is how I knew to check his temperature; the look of pain expressed on his face. Funny (not haha) how I have become so in tune with another's pain just by having it heaped on top of me these past few years. 

Once the Calpol passed his lips he was 'fine' again - average, happy, puffy-eyed but getting on with the rest of his day curled up in Bryan's lap while I took myself off to bed for a few hours - looks like it might be spreading :(.

Hippy Mama: Floor Bed for a Toddler.


Those who know me know a few things about me and my parenting style. 

We breastfed beyond one year (beyond 18, 19, 20, 21 months, even) and it wasn't a big deal. We tried cloth nappies, they worked out for me but didn't work for B so we compromised and did them PT, kind of. We're home schooling. We follow a vegan diet.

I suppose you might consider us 'different' if this style is different to your style and way of parenting...but to me, to us, to my family it's natural, normal and comfortable. I'm all too aware that this style and way goes against the grain of most parenting styles around me and sometimes I really do wonder where I worked up the desire to be this kind of carer.

My own upbringing wasn't too different from how things will be for Roman, with a few tweaks added here and there. I try not to put the word 'hippy' into people's minds when they think about me because it brings negative associations along with it, but I often wonder what people would label me - what they do label me/what I would label myself if I could somehow see this slice of life 5-10 years ago.

I don't act or dress like a hippy, I just want that independent, strong yet care-free lifestyle for Roman. 

I've been doing some thinking and some research on different beds for Roman. The one thing I had hoped for - co-sleeping, that is Roman sharing our bed from birth until he was ready for his own bed - was to share our bed with Roman. That didn't happen. He was a part time co-sleeper and eventually navigated to his own crib and at 5 months (eek!) his own room. That was tough but I was willing to let that go; it wasn't what worked for us and it wasn't what he wanted. 

In my search for a suitable cot to bed leap for him I've been given advice on what works for some people's children and what doesn't. Surprisingly I've soaked in a lot of that info and gone on a search for the things people tell me about; toddler beds, single beds, cot beds...every bed possible. Even those car shaped beds. 

None of them seem a good 'fit.' Then I happened across a blog post on floor beds. I'd seen them around and thought they were great...but the trouble is that I'm not ready for him to single handedly wreck his room and - are they even safe? We won't be supervising him in the mornings and apparently this is kind of the point of these beds.

The child can go to bed when they want (ahem...yeah, that won't be happening) and can wake when they want, being free to play with some toys and whatnot in their room allowing the parents to sleep on/in.

My concerns firstly come from the point of view that he has a sizable bookshelf in his room, along with drawers full of clothes - I don't want to be tidying a crazy amount of toys and clothes every single day. We don't own a stair gate and we can't attach one to his door because we're in a rental property. Also, our doors are old and massive so I'm not sure they're suitable for stair gates.

But wouldn't all these concerns equally exist if he had a single bed in his room? After all, the floor and the off the ground/single beds just have height differences. There'd be no stopping him no matter what bed he had.

I also feel the happiest about beds when I think about floor beds - they seem so ideal. And perfect if we ever had guests, because he would be used to sleeping at that level and it might be easier for him to sleep in a pull-out bed. It also seems more child-like and magical to have a floor bed - and the kind of thing I would have loved as a child.

I'm going to keep my eyes peeled for examples of floor beds and would love a perspective of a parent or carer whose used a floor bed before - pros and cons?

Sunday, 29 January 2012




Picking up Roman from his gran's last night it became clear he might be sick by feeling his hot little head and face. There was also a tell tale snail trail of bogies streaming freely from his nose, but I'll spare you the details on how many times I had to wipe that away.

Because he seemed okay - maybe a little more tired than usual, but nothing to write home about - I sent him and B off out to church. Unfortunately I haven't yet worked up the strength to make it through church just yet; I'll get there, it's just going to require my patience (something I've learned to have a lot of over these past few years.)

So, he seemed pretty unaffected this morning, but like I said a little more tired. He nearly fell asleep, tucked up under my arm which is out of character but not an indicator of an underlying problem with his health.

I suppose I'll know better next time because when he got home from church he had a very pale face with puffy, washed out eyes. We took his temperature and at 38.9C, it was high. Certainly not high enough to merit a visit to A&E but high enough that I wanted to strip him down, cool him off with a wash cloth and give him Calpol. 

He wanted to go to bed and when we got him several hours later he was soaked in sweat. I tried to not become panicky, with my main thoughts trying to be about him, but the last time he was sick like this we had to rush off to hospital, he got better and I got very, very sick - so sick that I was instructed to admit myself to hospital - I don't want to go through taking him to hospital, being so ill I slept through days and nights and being told if I don't go to hospital that I am going to be suffocated by my swollen glands and die from dehydration because I can't stop being sick.

I hate hospitals. I don't mind being there for other people, but I am fearful for myself - hence why I didn't admit myself the last time and another few times I've been told too. I'll avoid them at all costs. So when Roman gets sick I try to focus on the fact he's getting better and panic a little when he gets worse. 

Luckily, he just wanted to sit around watching TV - very out of character behaviour, this little boy only has a few favourite TV shows but even then won't sit still to watch them. He won't watch films for too long, either and would rather be playing or running around so if he suddenly becomes quiet, floppy and wants to watch TV I know he's sick.

Happily he got better as the evening wore on - not 100%, but better. I'm so happy that his immune system can fight this, I'm even more grateful that we have medicine we can give him and I'm even more grateful that he's up to date with his immunisations - I'd be a bag of worries otherwise.

Saturday, 28 January 2012




Peekaboo is a much enjoyed game around here. Roman is getting quicker and cheekier at hiding and popping up randomly from the corner of his high chair.

I also love that big smile, the crazy laugh and the satisfaction that comes from such a simple game. Nothing is going to knock his happiness down...well, apart from telling him he can't have a lollipop or push his toy car into the kitchen ;).

Friday, 27 January 2012

Daddy Time.



Getting ready for a 'baf', Roman gets pretty excited in his supposed wind down period before bed - maybe working off all that extra energy? 

Lately he has been putting his arms out for 'cuddos', running into mine and B's open arms for them. Another trick to getting cuddles; me and B will cuddle up and repeatedly say 'aww!' in very exaggerated tones ;) - this is a trick I learned with my childhood pet dog, Goldie. If you wanted a sneaky cuddle from her everyone piling in for a cuddle and pulling the same exaggerated tone worked. It's the same for Ro. Every single time it works.

But there is something special about his 'cuddos' with B. He grips those chubby little fingers on his arm and is very reluctant to let go for 'cuddos' with me. In fact, he'll just scream 'Dadddd-eee!' at me if I dare pluck him away from his beloved Dah-dee. 

Oh, but I love him so much. Even if the love is sometimes unrequited.

P.S: 'read more' if you want to see more! 

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Cheeky in Aisle 5.



Almost as soon as I headed out today with the buggy it rained. Of course. Doing my hair and make-up was a pointless exercise - but it did make me feel more human, so maybe not a complete loss.

I had intended to take Roman to the park (on my own, yes, twice this year and this month) but because it was heavily raining we headed to a well known bargain basement shop instead. It recently opened in the summer here and I've only been there three times, including today. 

It was relatively empty which is the best kind of shop with a buggy in tow. After about an hour of looking around, Roman got fed up. And when he saw another little boy running around, giving his mum a nervous breakdown in the process no doubt, he got even more frustrated.

I would usually feel bad, but it's easier to contain him in the buggy and I will be keeping him in there as long as his legs and little body allow - it's my life saver. I do not have the energy, strength, speed or dexterity as other parents. I'd rather he learned not to run around in shops so that I don't have to chase around after him, disguising my annoyance in a chirpy tone. And I would rather store up the energy required to spend time with him at home. 

I need to do that often; store up energy from somewhere so I can do other things. And it's also a pain to get him back into the buggy once he's out - he hates going back in unless he's tired. 

So, with his frustration reaching a boiling point, I decided to take him to a quiet spot in the shop and pull some funny faces and take photographs. I was a bit paranoid about doing this but the shop is so big, and I purposely picked a quiet spot, that I was sure we wouldn't be interrupted by a member of staff kindly telling me to put my camera away - which has never happened, I'm just paranoid because Bryan keeps telling me it will happen every time I take a photograph in shops.

Well, he wasn't there to tell me that ;). So I snapped away and was quite surprised by how quickly Roman's mood improved. Just a little 'face time' with me and he was quite content to keep shopping - although I soon lost the will to live/shop and promptly paid for my things and got the hell out of there. Back into the freezing cold rainy weather.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Good Sandwich.



Was that sandwich good, little man?

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

This is Multitasking.



This is multitasking at it's finest. One toddler wrapped in a blanket (he loves it!), one cuddly giraffe almost the same size as the toddler and one daddy whose trying to get on with some work around here. Or perhaps reading about kettle bells, I'm not sure.

Multitasking has been our best friend since Roman was born. When we were child-free you could; go to the toilet in peace, have a bath on your own, brush your teeth without a little friend running around trying to 'help' and all manner of tasks. Now that Bryan is self-employed, it's even more interesting. A lot of the time if he's super busy and has to stay focused to finish something off then the scene is replaced by me cuddling Roman like this...but I am not always well and today was no exception.

I've been running myself into the ground yet again, without much pause. 

For those who know me: last week as these two were napping I somehow got it into my head that I should take Roman out by myself. For those who don't know me: I haven't taken him out alone like this in over a year. In all it's happened about 4 times since he was born, this time included. 

I know that probably sounds deranged to all you young things out there, you're probably out every day and at several groups many times a week - I would give a lot to be in that position but I'm not going to dwell on it.

For me it's a miracle if I even make it out once a week, usually someone with me. I can't handle the energy that pushing a buggy with a toddler inside takes because I am trying so hard just to live and saving my energy for that. Some people have been great with this illness, others not so much. I would love to have more chance and opportunity to discuss it but sometimes it's just too fresh a wound for me to deal with.

There has been a lot I've had to just surrender to and come to terms with - and I'm still happy. My life is full of blessings. Even if everyone in the world hated me I don't think I would care. I'm happy in my little family bubble. They give me the strength to keep going and the belief that someday there will be some kind of cure or a life beyond all this for me, with them. 

I'll be able to run and never get tired, my legs will never hurt, my body will be perfect and all these trials that have strengthened me emotionally will pave the way to that eternal life. For that, I am blessed and for that I am happy. 

Monday, 23 January 2012

Mama Bear and RoRo Bear.



I wasn't prepared to have a little boy, but I am glad I had one. To be honest, any gender would have been fantastic - but I'm glad it was Roman, my little boy. 

Mr Chillaxed. Mr Happy. Mr Adorable. No problems at bedtime, always a little 'night, night', and more recently, "see you in the morning" (only less coherent.) After the lights are out, there's not much noise from you. 

Today you were full of cuddles - not for too long, of course. I'd smother you in love and motherly kisses all day long if I could (you're kinda squishy) but you're much too occupied with books and making mess to want to deal with such nonsense.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Vintage Mothercare and a Lesson Learned.



2pm (or thereabouts): your room/your vintage Mothercare quilt cover/M&Co shirt from granny/Junior J jeans/Old Navy shoes/a Sigma lens - you call it 'toy', but don't treat it like one. You're very careful and gentle with it.

It was the calm before the Skype storm. Fast forward to 6.20pm. We're in the same place, your bedroom, happily on Skype with your gran (my mum) and you are excited to show her the 'Tanta' (Santa) book she bought you. You throw it towards my keyboard - we've told you a million times not to throw things, especially books, but I don't know if you remember or understand - and two keys come off. The 'z' key is broken completely.

I was annoyed. But you're not even 2 years old. You kept apologising over and over; sowwy, sowwy (sorry, sorry.) Kee-kay, kee-kay (cheeky, cheeky.) But it seemed to spark a cheeky fire in you and you were so bold as to take down a book-end and aim it for my computer screen. Luckily, I spotted you this time and we had to end our call on Skype before you did anything else. 

You're not usually so...curious? Destructive? Cheeky? I don't know the behaviour and I am very careful to label it. Of course, I said you were very naughty for doing what you did but I am not sure I have it right. 

I don't hear me or your dad saying 'no' an awful lot, yet you mostly do what we ask and constantly get praise for your ability to be so cheery and content - because 'well behaved' sounds Victorian. I'm constantly self-editing myself because I am so scared of damaging your self worth and self esteem. This doesn't mean I don't try to teach you the right thing to do when you veer off the happy path from time to time and it won't stop me taking away privileges when you're older and understand things a little better...but for now, while you're barely 2 years old, I have a problem with saying 'you're a bad boy' or that you're 'naughty.' And to be truthful, I think I always will.

I said you were naughty today out of my own frustrations and to make sense of why you behaved like that. After all, it seemed like you were doing it to be cheeky but when I think about it now, I think you were over-excited to be in your room, with all your books and toys, and to be on Skype with your granny. All at the same time. That's an awful lot of stimulation for a little toddler. And it does not make you 'bad.' 

I'm going to try so hard to not say 'bad' (and luckily I didn't this time) or call you naughty when you do something like this again. I'm going to give you patience and a little understanding.

It drives me up the wall, at times, but I'm going to have to pace myself with you on this. Just so long as you can forgive any mistakes I make along the way - I'm new to this and I am learning so quickly. I don't always get it right. 

However, if you're still lobbing objects at my things when you're 8, it's going to have to come out of your pocket money ;).

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Little Boy's Bedroom: A Do-Over Story.

We've lived in our new house since July. It is everything I've been craving for three years. A reasonable sized kitchen. Check. A garden. Check. A reasonable sized garden. Check. Huge bedrooms for all our nonsense to be stored. Check. Storage a plenty. Check.

Mould free? Not lately. Mould and I have a bad romance. It's followed me to three properties thus far - our last two rented flats, which were horribly ventilated (if at all) and were usually old buildings with a lot of underlying problems.

So when I saw this place up for grabs I knew we'd be saying bye bye to mould for good. Um, think again. The windows are pretty old and we had some seriously awful rain storms all winter. The storms+ old windows + no window vents =  recipe for mould.

When I spotted the water pooling on the window ledge I mopped it up immediately, re-painted the window sill, scrubbed the mould from the wall and felt quite happy that it wouldn't return. We'd also bought a very expensive high end dehumidifier, to keep us ticking over the winter months and to stop any re-occurance of mould.

Not the case. Even with our fancy de-humidifier, the mould grew back. Oh yes. So we're now going to have to face the landlord about it as the wall paper has actually started to peel back on one of the walls - not looking forward to that in case he blames us (when we clearly did everything to avoid that) and makes us pay a stupid amount to fix it. 

I cleaned the mould today (all gloved and masked up) and blasted the de-humidifier close by, with the window open and blinds pulled up. Fingers crossed it solves the problem! If you have any tips on this kind of thing, I need all the help I can get and would appreciate the advice - at this point I'm willing to try a lot of crazy things if people have had success with them. This can't be good for any of us to live in, surely?

Anyway...here are some 'before' pictures of the little boy's space:

Half-way through the clean-up process.
In the middle of the room; his drawer, cloth nappies & my scrap-booking stuff.

I surprised myself when we only filled one rubbish bag.

To get everything dusted, polished, vacuumed, organised, binned and put into it's place took around 2 and a half hours. The room was completely finished off. We've also tried to do an hour or so each day for about a month - on and off, and more off than on ;). But...we did it. Roman has a space where he can roam, play and more importantly read his much loved books to himself. 

And we now have a home for his kitchen we bought at Christmas time - although, I'm waiting to see what the situation with the mould is first before putting it in there. Letting the walls breathe for a long time before I put anything near them.

The best part of all this was his astonished look when he saw it completed. He was so excited to have so many 'new' books (new because they have been stored in boxes for months) and to have so much space.

I didn't have my camera on me, of course, but I can show you the 'after' (after we sorted and cleaned) photos:

His quilt cover was in the wash. The duvet is doubled over here and it is a beast of a duvet!

Lots of books: and lots more where that all came from! Small books smooshed between two fire engine book-ends and the bigger books smooshed into a little football storage basket.
Sideways view from the door: a make-shift 'box-robe' (an over door hanger put on the edge of  a  box filled with  clothes to weigh it down). A bookshelf and Jesus. A plastic drawer filled with clothes. Pile of books. Box of books.

A closer look at what's on top of the drawer: a box full of cloth nappies. A bear photo frame and money box...for our little 'bear.'
My scrapbooking stuff has a new home. A basket full of 'stuff.' A bed. make-shift bookshelf with 'nee naw' book-ends, smooshed in books and some donated canvasses from an arty sister of mine - she thought I'd like them to decorate so gave me them! So sweet.
It plays 10 minutes of lullabies. We used this heavily when he was a baby, ashamedly (or not.)

So, as you can see - being organised is next to Godliness. They say it's cleanliness, but that's not true at all. You can have a clean room but it could be all cluttered or disorganised. And that is a headache waiting to happen. No, make that a migraine waiting to happen.

Also...here's that fancy pants de-humidifier: 

You might have also noticed a lot of make-shift bits and pieces. That's pretty common around here. We've make-shifted a spare sofa from a punch bag, a table from a cardboard box (as well as a coffee table, even though we don't drink coffee) and well Bryan is a dab hand at making weights for babies, a weight thingy-me-jig for himself (we called it the 'home gym' and he was quite impressed) and I do love to recycle ice-cream cartons, Pure cartons and any other sturdy plastic bits and bobs for using to keep things in; medication, kitchen utensils etc. 

We're mend and make-doers. 

Anyway, I am happy that my little guy has a space to just be himself in, you know to play, run about...do whatever. It was seriously a big burden on me since we've lived here and I don't know where the strength or willpower came from today but I am most thankful for that, too. A weight has been lifted. And now Ro can enjoy the fruits of our labour.

Little Sweetheart.



This is you. Just as you are. Two and a bit weeks away from turning two. The rash around your mouth from drooling, caused by teething (I thought we'd be done with that by now!). The yellowy-brown bruise from falling last week. Those eyebrows which are a cross between perfection and heaven - so perfectly shaped, sized and lined up. Those eyes. That tiny mouth; one thick lip at the bottom, one thin arch at the top, just like me. 

And that smile, that is completely your own, yet so startlingly like your dads. And not surprisingly, as genetics go, you remind me of my mum and my dad. 

Beneath those looks is that little personality that has been bursting to get out since your life began. Strong, independent, happy, content, feisty and very confident. Where did you get it from?

From the little baby who would fight against the blankets swaddled round him, who was happy in the arms of anyone warm and friendly, who refused to be left alone and now to the toddler who runs, dances, twirls, makes lots of noise, empties every available container with toys inside and is full of that cheeky spark he was born with. 

The little boy who goes on and off like a light when put to sleep but is up and at 'em as soon as he wakes. The baby has grown into a fully fledged toddler, soon to be two year old, and I don't know where the time has gone. All I know is you stir some strange emotions in me at times; frustration, usually when you don't understand what it is I'm asking you and love, pretty much all the time and especially right after I'm frustrated. 

You make me laugh, even when I am crying or hurt because you think I'm doing it to entertain you. You just laugh at everything. Very like me. You're also so cheeky and a bit of a pick pocket; you love to investigate hand bags and we can't leave packets of treats out, lest you nab them and scoff them down. At this age, you are wonderful. You've always been wonderful to me, but it is especially nice when you're not tired and annoyed. Or teething and tearful.

Whatever the moods or emotions, I'm always going to love you. Just as you are.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Told Off.



We were waiting for the bath to fill when you decided it would be a good idea to pick at the crack in the bath panel. When I told you not to do that, you weren't too happy. You protested for a bit, but were easily distracted by a special wash cloth.

Thursday, 19 January 2012




It's safe to say you don't like watermelon.

A few weeks ago I cut some up (with a lot of effort, I'll have you know!) and you threw every piece on the floor after licking every piece on it's way down to the floor. I'm glad that kitchen floor is wipe clean! 

Today we tried you again with two pieces (pre-prepared I might add) which you picked up, nibbled, threw back down on your tray and remarked; "Mmm!".

But even though they were 'mmm', you still won't eat more than that first nibble. 

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Bonding Exercise.



Many researchers believe that the purpose of laughter is related to making and strengthening human connections. "Laughter occurs when people are comfortable with one another, when they feel open and free. And the more laughter [there is], the more bonding [occurs] within the group," says cultural anthropologist Mahadev Apte.

I pulled the above paragraph from HowStuffWorks.com because I wanted to know the science behind laughter and was quite surprised to discover this little nugget of info. I am so happy to know he's comfortable with us. I knew that anyway, of course, but this little paragraph strengthened that knowledge.

I really hope he continues in feeling 'open' and 'free' with us as he grows. I really hope he remembers feeling that way. 

My own first memory was when I was 2, going on my first big holiday with my gran and my aunt. I remember the day before we left, the day we left and being on the plane. Then I have various flashes of memory about the hotel we stayed in, the big storm that hit one night (and how we all huddled in bed together. I don't remember being in a cot as my family is big on co-sleeping, although we don't call it that, we just do it without giving it a name) and the self-catering breakfasts we had. I also remember the massive beach.

So I hope Roman starts storing away his own memories soon. And I hope he remembers being tickled by his daddy as I took his photo before bed.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012




Sleep is a funny thing in this household. We (mum and dad) mean to go to bed early every single night and somehow we always bring in the early hours of the morning and have to rise around 9-10am.

You go down to sleep just before 7pm almost every night and if you don't get to bed by then you're like a little zombie, going through the motions of putting your pajamas on and not saying much at all.

On top of your amazing sleeping pattern you often times take a large chunk of the afternoon to sleep. Today was not one of those days and instead we snuggled up in a blanket on the couch, watching old videos of your babyhood and took a bath together in magnolia bubbles. 

At about 4.30pm you went out with dad and he called me up to let me know you'd fallen asleep in the shop. Oh little boy. You are so cheeky. You really wouldn't go down for a nap this afternoon but I guess the sleep finally found you.

I was glad because there is really only a very little window of opportunity to snap you like this. You're a light sleeper (like me) and it's hard to capture you asleep. Add to that the fact you always have your face squished right up to the end of your cot and you're always snuggled in deep under the duvet. 

We had hoped to share a bed with you, but you were having none of that and by 5 months you were sleeping in a separate room - I know that's bad parenting because everyone says not to do that until 6 months but you hated sharing a bed and then hated sharing a room with us. You'd scream and scream till we put you into a cot from the bed and you'd wake up and scream when we crept into the room at night. I can count 1-4 before I can count the number of times you've shared our bed since then.

I hope that if we have another baby that they share your sleeping habits.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Happiness is a Light.



£9.99 is a pretty cheap way of entertaining a little toddler obsessed with light. I won't bore you with the details about our kitchen light packing in and us being too cheap to replace the busted light (for now, while we work out how to replace the 'special' light and the current bane of my existence.) 

Bryan stopped by Lidl today and bought this touch lamp. Exciting, right? Well Roman seems to think so. He loved being able to turn this lamp on and off with relative ease, just by the touch of his finger tips and little toes. "LIGHT! LIGHT!" he would exclaim, little face full of excitement, every time the light went on. 

While we were setting up the light he was very 'helpful' indeed; packing rubbish into the box the light came in and bringing it to me. "BOX! BOX!" he would exclaim, very excited at the fact he'd been given the responsibility of box watcher ;). 

I am enjoying this time, where it's so easy to make games and entertainment from lamps and boxes - and hoping it doesn't run dry too soon.

Blogging for Dummies.

I'm not going to be like one of those youth camp leaders who opens with 'the rules are, there are no rules.' Because here, on this blog, there are rules. 

The truth is this: I only read a handful of blogs I actually like. I don't pretend to like other bloggers, their blogs etc in order to network up. On other people's blogs: I don't leave a comment on a post I haven't read. And I never expect a comment in return, although it would be nice, it's unreasonable to expect that. I post because I like the blog, the person, the content, the photography or something else entirely and I let the person know. They may well not feel the same about me or my blog. No biggie. 

I used to let this bother me, when I first started out, because it's like high school. You are nice to everyone and wonder why the big kids are still stealing your sandwiches - or something like that. But now there are blogs that I follow whose authors -gasp- never comment on my posts, don't follow me back and (as far as I know) probably never read the inconsequential blog, written by the 5'5 Scottish girl who writes about life. And, again, that would be lovely but that is not life. 

Not everyone is dazzled by your charismatic on-line presence and there's only a few readers that actually care to visit a handful of times a week and then even fewer who will comment. That's the truth.

I've recently taken on a 366 Project and find I am getting comments every day. This could be for a number of reasons, but I like to think it's because someone genuinely wanted to say hi and check in. Whatever the reasons - I'm happy with that. I'm happy some people have taken time of out their day to say hi, to leave a comment and I've made commenting even easier than ever before to make it a pleasant experience (because I can't count the times where I've given up typing in a series of letters in order for my comment to be verified on other blogs.)

I'm known for being plain speaking and I am not sure I've put that across here. I wanted this blog to be something that it is not today and that's okay, too, because I am learning. And I still have time to develop and change things.

When I started this blog in 2010 I started off doing huge posts. I would just write by ear - in other words whatever came into my head was committed into a post. Then I started planning out posts in my head until the point where I started to then edit the things I said...and slowly, but surely, it strangled what I had to say and I found myself self-censoring the truth of what I needed and wanted to say. 

And this lead me to thinking that I should probably put down some ground rules, in order that we can all stay true to ourselves and that I don't just believe you're using me for your own networking gain (because I really cannot stand that!):

1. Don't 'follow me' unless you really want to read beyond the one post you read and thought was great. When you come to my blog, please read around (you can skim-read!) and if you decide you like the look of things, then feel free to follow me. If you do follow me after one great post and then realise you only liked that one post, don't feel you can't un-follow me. 

I realise that this all sounds like blog suicide, but there is a genuine reason I am asking you to do this. I love my readership, I honestly do. I started this blog with the intention of not having much of a following or readership (and I know everyone says this, but for me it's true.) I thought my main readership would be family...and that's the opposite case. About 4 of my family members check in to read my blog regularly (that I know of) so instead of tailoring posts that would only be interesting to my family, I tailor the post to fit the interests of my readership. 

If you're not in that circle, I wouldn't want to think you were and then write a post for you to realise you're not remotely interested in what I have to say - makes sense now, right? I'm trying to keep it interesting for those who do read my blog and the more time I spend on those who don't well the less I have on those who do. And it's that simple.

2. Don't just comment because I left you a comment. That makes things awkward. And if you are here to do that...then don't just find the first post on the page and comment on that. Find a post (from the archives or from the left hand side) that grabs you, read it and comment. I took the time out to read your post, so you can offer the same courtesy to me I am sure. If you don't like that, that's fine, you don't have to comment and I would probably prefer you didn't. 

3. Obvious and never had a problem with it before but thought I'd mention it anyway: be nice. And like Thumper was taught to say; 'if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.' 

4. Tell me about YOU. Whenever there is a post that invites you to talk about yourself, I want you to do it. Make yourself anonymous if you must. I want to know about my readership.

5. If you like me, tell a friend. If you read a few of my posts and decide you like me - why not share my blog around? I do this all the time with my most loved blogs and I will probably be highly honoured the day I see someone openly doing this with me.

6. Social networking: I have a Facebook page here for the blog and I honestly haven't regretted making one. Best decision ever because the feedback can be instant, it seems more personal and I love getting to know people. And I also find that if you don't have a blog account, you can easily hook up through Facebook. I'm also on Twitter as MamaChaser but I'm forewarning you here that it's mostly me babbling about UK politics...so you might not enjoy that. 

7. DO NOT and I repeat: DO NOT put a link to your website/blog in your comment (some people copy and paste theirs in.) This looks tacky to me and makes me cringe. I used to do this in the early days of blogging all to realise it doesn't matter because if people want too, they will click on my name and read my blog. 

When someone copies and pastes their link in I see it straight away as a networking tool and I switch off completely. You can be discrete about networking, if that's your game, and copying and pasting reeks of desperation - you tell me you don't think your blog is good enough on it's own merit, that people won't find you interesting enough to check you out and that you have to force them to look at you. Not cool. However, it's forgiven if you don't know too much about blogging - like I said, been there and done that. But please don't do that. I don't like it. If I like the sound of you, I will check you out on my own time. 

8. If for some reason I'm doing some kind of blog jumping thing (which I avoid like the plague unless it holds any interest to me) don't just leave me a comment that says 'Oh hi, I'm from the Freaky Friday blog hop' (I made up the Freaky Friday thing.) 

Please give me a comment of substance and if you can't do that, don't comment. It wastes my time and yours. And I don't like it. It screams desperate networking. And I will never look at your blog if you do this. I will also not publish your comment. 

9. Quality, not quantityIt's an old age saying but it's also the way I look at commenting. Sometimes I want to wax lyrical on someone's post, sometimes I want to say three words. It's okay. As long as the comment is relevant, somewhat interesting and isn't just a networking scam then I don't care about the length of the comment. It's the fact you took some time and effort to first of all read one of my posts and secondly that you used some intelligence to put together a comment rather than just brain fart one out because you felt you had too. 

10. Enjoy what you read. Life is too short to waste on a blog you don't like. The same rule applies here. If you don't like it, don't read it. And if you do enjoy it, please keep on enjoying it.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Smiles and Bruises.



You banged your head a few days ago and yesterday cut open your lip (on that horrible fire place, no less) and the bang to the head left behind this massive bump and matching bruise. 

Whenever you cry after falling, I know it really hurts you because you so rarely cry. Even when you opened the double doors in Thurso, went flying down concrete steps and landed head-first in gravel you just laughed. Laughed, when most people would be cursing the steps and maybe even crying (me, because I am a wimp and proud.)

But there are times when falling for you is no laughing matter - and that's when I know you're really hurt. And you will run, arms open, to whoever can grab you first and comfort you. You become extra cuddly and it's a nice reminder of the former baby we once had. Although the little toddler you've become is brilliant, too, you're just not a very cuddly boy. You love to be up, making a mess and causing a little riot - a ball of pure energy right up until bedtime. 

When you smile like this, in these moments, it also reminds me that despite the independence you keep rightfully asserting, and that no matter how messy you make the place, that you're still so small, still little and that in a few years time all the glimpses of your babyhood will be gone. I'm so glad I captured this moment for that very fact.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Eager to Leave.



Saturday is a special day. It's the day Roman walks a street away to get to Bryan's parents house. He doesn't waste any time once the door is opened, he's out like a flash, barely looking back and shouting; "BYE!" in his wake.

Friday, 13 January 2012

One Born Every Minute.



This afternoon we watched a few births from a show I'd recorded called One Born Every Minute

One afternoon last year, when Roman wouldn't take a nap, we sat down to watch it together. I didn't really think he would take any of it in but the whole time he sat on my lap, watching with a wide eyed curiosity. When it was time for the babies to come into the world, he would cheer and then giggle as they were finally born.

The previous year, in 2010, I watched this programme right after I'd given birth. Naturally I cried at each and every single birth, holding my newborn tight to my chest - and being absolutely full of love, gratitude and hormones.

This time around, in 2012, Roman loves to imitate the breathing and even doubled his toy as a mask for his 'gas and air.' We delighted in watching a mum birth her baby into water, another who'd had a previous forceps birth managed to have a natural as possible birth and another delivered a healthy little 9lb girl. 

Women have been doing this for centuries, that's for sure, but somehow every birth does seem like a miracle. And although I've been following this programme for nearly two years, I am still hooked on watching babies being born - and so is Roman. 

Thursday, 12 January 2012

State of Independence.



It is such a joy - and a little heart breaking - to watch your toddler become more and more independent. To stand back and observe the lessons they've learned rather than dive in and help them straight away.

He's nearly 2 and has been left alone with a spoon and a bowl several times but needs more practice and that's why I'm happy to stand back and let the learning commence. Even if it is a horribly messy end result*.

P.S: I got a Facebook page up and running for my blog! 

I'm just trying it out over here but I didn't like the idea of spamming friends and other family on my Facebook profile with links to my blog every day - plus a lot more people I know use Facebook than have blogs so it keeps everyone in the loop. 

Feel like joining us over there? Check it out here.

*And may I just add you'll need a lot of restraint, patience, love and baby wipes!

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Email: carakirk@hotmail.com
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