You and Me Time

Toddlermonster proudly handed me her poo, as casually as if she was passing me her flannel or toothbrush. This was bath time last Thursday. Ordinarily I would have been a bit pee’d off that not only had I been handed an actual poo, but I had to then fish about for the extra bits in amongst the bubbles. Haul both girls out of the pooey contaminated bath water, before beginning the Getting Ready for Bed ritual. However last Thursday was not your average Thursday. It was the night before Hubster and I were escaping to Berlin together. Just together. For an entire 48 hours.

The trip was my birthday present. A present which would take very careful planning to co-ordinate one ToddlerMonster, our 4 year old young lady, an excitable Chocolate eating Cavapoo, (who was still recovering from having his stomach pumped after devouring a box of Dark Lindt) and an incontinent old cat.

Thanks to having very understanding and kind parents and willing Neighbour the plans were all in place. The bags were packed, school and nursery pick ups organised with Nanny. Cat food left, dog food and dog dropped off.

Blimey whatever happened to spontaneity?!

It’s just you, and it’s just me.

I had been so busy with the preparations for the trip that I hadn’t stopped and contemplated the fact that Hubster and I were going to have time. Just for us. We both love being parents, But we were a couple first and I strongly believe that taking a bit of time out to remember the reasons we became parents together in the first place is so bloody important!

I have to admit that I was a bit concerned we may end up doing nothing but chat-child and stare into the distance. But I couldn’t have been more wrong. We talked, with no interruptions. We talked about trivial things, things that don’t really matter. Things that we wouldn’t usually have time to natter about. We people watched, always entertaining. We ate our breakfast first; Before having to feed the girls and the animals. I used a small handbag – wet wipes wouldn’t have fitted. We laughed, a lot. Mostly because we were acting like loved up teenagers. We rode bikes! What the…

We put ourselves first for 48 hours and it was pure bliss.

Sure, we missed our brood, but the break from responsibility was like breathing really really fresh air.

I’ve come home really refreshed and really ready to be a Muma again. Meanwhile, our girls had a seriously fun weekend with their Nanny Chickens and Big Papa spoiling them with time and attention. Being granddaughters is a pretty big deal.

I’m really hoping the Bath-Poo incident isn’t going to be a phase. There’s no Berlin tomorrow to cushion that delight later.

 

If you are thinking of heading to Berlin below is a little directory of or trip…

We stayed:

http://www.parkinn.com/hotel-berlin

Newly refurbishes, great cocktail bar, a spa and so central, surrounded by restaurants and bars.

http://www.visitberlin.de/en/spot/alexanderplatz

Tip: Ask for a room with a view. We stayed on the 33rd floor and had the whole of berlin sprawled out in front of us. Its an extra 15E a night but well worth it. From the airport you can catch a direct train to within 100 yards of the hotel for 3.50E each. Bargain!

We visited

Checkpoint Charlie. There is a museum there called The Wall. It gives you a real life Snapshot of what it was like when the Berlin Wall was up during the ‘80’s. Cleverly done, it brings the history to life (essential for me!)

Topography of Terror http://www.topographie.de/en/  located at remains of The Berlin Wall, just a block from Check Point Charlie.

DDR museum – http://www.ddr-museum.de/en pretty small interactive museum. Beautiful location right on the river and below a great coffee / Crepe shop.

The Reichstag Building   http://www.bundestag.de/htdocs_e/visits/kuppel/kupp/245686 we didn’t actually go inside but it’s pretty impressive to look at.

Brandenburg Gate Its super touristy, complete with entertainers (who aren’t hugely entertaining) but nonetheless it’s a pretty epic gate!

We ate

Block House Steak House   http://www.block-house.de/block-house-restaurant-best-steaks-since-1968/?L=6 NOM NOM NOM! Gorgeous Steak! This place was packed with a queue out of the door by 8.30pm so maybe ask the hotel to book for you or get there nice and early.

There are lots of pizza and pasta places in the Alexander Platz area. We stayed clear of Schnitzels and Currywest! http://www.visitberlin.de/en/spot/alexanderplatz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the click; The importance of having mummy friends and how it wasn’t easy to find them.

“I’m a total loner, and my baby has no buddies!”

This was the sentence which I found I had on repeat when we moved out of the city and into the sticks. Our daughter was 18 months old and we had made the decision to move to an area where we could afford those mummy luxuries. No, I’m not talking about a Granite kitchen Island with built in wine fridge- sadly. I’m talking about a garden and a drive way: Proper mummy luxuries. If you have ever tried to unpack a weeks load of Lidl with a 9 month old baby in tow, from a parking space 100 yards from your house, then you too will understand the importance of a driveway.

The sparkle had slightly tarnished on the café culture we were enjoying in Hove before Darcie was born. We no longer needed to have a host of restaurants and bars on our doorstep, and longed for the ability to park outside our house without a permit, or actually park outside our house at all. It was with a heavy heart that we left our beautiful little house in the bustling hub and switched over to a very different pace. Hello Suburbia.

But what’s a driveway without friends?!

Once the initial excitement of unpacking had passed, and the endless decorating had finally petered out (for now!) my attention firmly landed on the pint sized 20 month old girl, with the big brown eyes who had a lovely new toy room, and no little pals who lived nearby to share it with.

So I began the hunt. The hunt for playmates for both of us. Surely there must be some mamas who don’t produce the contents of Holland & Barrent from the kids lunch pack and believe a little Prosecco in the afternoon is good for the soul. Basics.

It turns out we are quite lucky in our little town; everyday there seemed to be some sort of baby/toddler group where we could go along and share germs, snatch toys and if we were lucky sip on a weak cup of coffee, while I hunted out like minded Mumas. September had arrived, and I slapped on my best ‘please come and talk to me I’m not a complete nutter’ face (yes, this was my first hurdle!) and put Darcie in her least stained clothes, attempted to brush her unruly mane of dark hair and repeated the mantra ‘be gentle and kind, be gentle and kind’. For these things did not always come naturally to our little treasure, but are fairly imperative attributes when seeking out a new tribe.

It was all a bit of an anti climax if I’m being honest. It took about 2 months of going back to the same group before someone actually spoke more than 2 words to me and didn’t just look at us like we were trespassers! You see the thing with a small town is the Click factor. I hadn’t anticipated that. How naïve!

That someone who branched out and spoke to me changed everything. We quickly became buddies, and our children didn’t seem to hate each other. Bonus. I could feel it: play dates were on the cards. Perhaps the rest of the group could see I was one of them after all and began to accept me too. I wasn’t going away, I would be back week after week…

I was on a role and beginning to settle into this small quirky seaside town. Being a small town now-familiar faces were beginning to pop up. I was actually being greeted in the street: hurrah!

But it was the very wonderful Nursery school and dancing classes Darcie went too where the friendships really started.

Here I found a group of girls, My Muma girls. Like minded Mamas that I can call my Friends. Girls I adore, who I can laugh with, and at times cry with. Each of these girls came neatly equipped with a little girlfriend for Darcie, and better still, a sibling for our newest addition. Our daughters have been through Nursery school together and last September began their big school adventure, all in the same class.

Life would be very different as a Muma without these girls. They turn a would-be mundane, sometimes freezing school drop off into a bit of a social, I look forward to seeing them. Comparing our morning struggles to get out of the door. It sounds simple, but as a Muma sometimes just getting your 4 year old out of the door requires the skillset of a Hostage negotiator. I like that I’m not alone in this. I’m not the only one suffering this and I have the Muma friends to back me up.

I’m fairly abysmal with administration, little did I know starting Big School would require me to set up a home office! I’m constantly checking school details with the girls – nativity costume comparisons, non-school uniform day reminders, homework panic (a 4 year olds homework is trickier than you think. I’m going to need to take night classes to have any hope of assisting Darcie past year 1!) You name it, I ask it.

At last, I found my own Muma click, and frankly I’d be lost without them.

 

 

 

Bugaboo Bandit: My Confession.

Homage to my dear Bugaboo..

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Yes I know, I know: it costs a FORTUNE. In fact it was so expensive that when we sold my husband’s beloved ‘sports car’ in favour of a car which the bugaboo could fit into (yes the irony isn’t lost on yet more expense being squandered on the Bugaboo here…) the proceeds didn’t even cover the extortionate amount!

That minor detail aside, I had decided long before Darcie had begun to give me morning sickness that the Bugaboo was the one for me. I admit it wasn’t a choice made entirely on its practical merit (I blame Heat mag here) – however I did of course brush up on these points when standing in Mothercare persuading long suffering Hubster that this is the ONLY pram we could consider, and just how could he make a pregnant lady cry.

“Look, it has an adjustable handle – perfect for your 6”4ness.”

I struggled with a second practical based sell so settled for “We will look JUST like Gwyneth & Chris Martin strolling around with baby Apple” – I may have been speaking Marshan but it seemed to clench the deal.

Bugaboo ordered. Muma 1: Hubster -£1000.

Little did I know that this one purchase really was all I needed to buy for our teeny tiny human. Really I shouldn’t have bothered buying any of the following for quite same time:

Rocking crib / Moses basket / big cot / cot Mobile with strange not of this earth animals hanging from it which played Eurovision style music / bath seat / bath sponge floaty thing / bouncy seat (one for upstairs, and one for downstairs) toys – a variety of world discovery essentials promising to ensure your child evolved faster than next doors / baby gym (what the..!) / books / jumperoo – a new born essential, obviously. I may have gone a bit over the top, hormones flowing I wanted to ensure Tiny Human wanted for nothing and that every possible need and whim was provided for.

How naïve was I: The 3 B’s was all I needed for months: Boobs, Bottles & BUGABOO!!!

I remember the Bugaboo arriving like it was yesterday, I was only 10 days away from my Breach inspired C-section. I was one big Muma by this point, up until this moment I hadn’t nested. Hubster was secretly hoping I would have surges of SuperHouseWife – this seemed to have pasted me by. However Bugaboo delivery day saw me spring into action: instructions in about 20 different languages, wheels, metal bits, soft bits resembling seating and an iron will I put the entire thing together, single headedly.

I sat for the rest of the afternoon staring at the Pram, all ready for an actual tiny human to take up residence. I must admit I couldn’t resist the urge to give it a quick wiz around the lounge, how I didn’t take it for a spin down the road screaming “LOOK, I BUILT THIS” I’ll never know!

Darcie arrived unexpectedly 2 days later – I should have guessed something was up: I am the most untechnical person, I can barely work the washing machine. The fact that I had just built an entire object from bits was basically Mother Nature sending me a sodding great telegram: BABY IMMINENT!

Darcie, seemed to approve of our choice in pram too. 8 days after my c section I managed to hobble about 10 meters out of our front door pushing her in the shiny new, flipping gorgeous, pram. Practically bent over double I retreated back to the sofa, but that first little ‘walk’ (in the loosest sense of the word- more of a put the bins out distance!) – really is such a treasured memory.

From then on the Bugaboo did us proud – Darcie slept in the pram top placed inside her big cot for months, she loved walks in it, I loved pushing her in it , look one handed!- Only a few minor collisions occurred… The ease of slotting the ridiculously heavy car seat on top of it was frankly a godsend.

Our newest addition now has the pleasure of the Bugaboo, although she is currently at ToddlerMonster phase and so the pram top is now gathering dust and god knows what else in the garage.

The bugaboo has soldiered on, it has endured Tantrums off the Richter scale, witnessed the knee GENTLY in the chest trick to assist with the little known about ‘Toddler stiff as a board back arch’ condition. It has had more food and drink spilt on it than a playgroup floor, survived being literally thrown into the boot of the car after been dismantled in grotty car parks. Actually it has survived many an argument about how best to collapse it in the early days! But it has gallantly carried our screaming squirming children, and all of my shopping for over 4 years now. What am I going to do with my Primark bags when I can’t hang them on the buggy anymore?!

You have done us proud Buggaboo, I salute you.

Is it just me who has an unhealthy sentimental affiliation with their pram, please reassure me I am not alone here..?

Sod the Gym Membership… Get a Soft Play Pass.

I’m not really a ‘gym’ person. I realised this when I once paid £500 for an introductory half hour session, a long time ago. Enthusiastically, pre-children I signed up to the gym right below our office one January along with all of the other girls from work. A sort of group new years resolution. ‘We could spin during lunch’ we hailed, ‘we could swim after work’ we cried. Some even went as far as to chip in with ‘we could do Body Pump BEFORE work’. At the time I didn’t like to pipe up with the fact that I thought we had all gone RAVING MAD! We already worked long hours in a thankless sales office, frankly the thought of doing anything other than eating my meal deal during lunch time blew my mind. Let alone the prospect of waking extra early to ‘pump bodies’ (whatever that meant!) And when work finished, that was it I was outta there and into the bar next door to moan probably about being fat and unfit amongst other things.
So having signed up and set up the monthly payments I skipped along to my induction. Never to return to the gym again!!! But they tie you in, you cannot, to quote Friends ‘QUIT THE GYM’ they don’t let you. In my case the Gods took pity and the place burnt down! No joke..

I digress. So, Soft Play AKA Muma-Gym.

I have never quite experienced physical exertion like I did during one particular visit to a well known Soft Play centre. Lila was 6 months old and Darcie had just turned 3. My greatest error was to have innocently assumed that going it alone with the two of them and no little chums to play with Darcie was a good idea. I spent the next 2 hours crawling, jumping, climbing up, climbing down, lifting Darcie over, dragging her under the brightly coloured ‘FUN’ jungle.  All the while dressed like a marsupial, wearing Lila! EXHUSTED, why don’t they sell wine in the café?! Gap in the market there.
8 months on and the girls are a little older, obviously. But this has meant they are stronger, faster and braver. If I thought climbing through tunnels, up sheer drops, down loopy slides (which test your pelvic floor, I might add) was tiring enough, it has nothing on trying to keep eyes on two children literally running, amongst other children running, amongst throngs of Mumas sipping MASSIVE mugs of caffeine, amongst the enthusiastic young YOUNG staff who frankly could do with having their own parents there to keep an eye on them.
In between the cries for refreshment – just how much juice can a 4 year old get through in one session?! Jugs upon jugs of the stuff, and the cries for yet another snack to keep those energy levels at an all time high, you have the cries all Mumas fear most: those cries that have been inflicted by your own child.
Cue sympathetic voice, and fake smiles, to poor little Johnny who Darcie pushed down the loopy slide because actually he had been sat there for about 10 minutes telling his gathering crowd of nippers that he was king of the slide. NOT.FOR.LONG. While I don’t condone pushing, fighting, snatching bla bla etc I do have to reserve my ‘serves you right Johnny’ face, and adopt the more appropriate ‘sorry my child hurt your child’ face. What I’m really thinking is, “Put your oversized caffeine fix down and teach Johnny the way of the world: starting with basic slide etiquette!”

If you can survive a soft play session without a) breaking a sweat and b) not thinking “Where the fuck are my fucking kids” you’ve done well, very well.
I come out of the ‘fun’ warehouse with ringing ears, teary over tired children, a bad back, DISGUSTING socks and an overwhelming need to wash mine and the kids hands in bleach.
But, We’ll be back next week…