Bobal’s Babble: We Are Only Renting; a Poem.

You tumbled into Daddy’s arms.

He placed you upon my chest.

Over my beating heart.

My heart beats for you.

Your eyes, unusually wide and black

Held our attention. Unwaveringly.

You are perfect.

                                                                                                                                                                                                We are now complete and

We want for nothing.

But one day you will.

One day you will want.

Want more than our choices for you.

And what’s more

We want you to want that.

                                                                                                                                                                                               Our love culminated in you.

You are our pretty, effectual bow.

We will forever more be bound

Through you.

Faced with our last day

We’d want it that way.

Just us three.

                                                                                                                                                                                                For a while

Too short a while

You are most content in our arms.

We are the Earth you orbit

And you ours.

But not forever.

One day, our Little Moon, you will leave.

                                                                                                                                                                                               You will start your own family.

For your last days

It’s them you’ll crave.

After all

We are only renting you.

We can’t keep you.

You must fly the nest.

                                                                                                                                                                                               Just us three will always be, our happy day.

But it can’t last.

The amelioration

which has already begun

will no doubt, be full of joy.

As we teach and you explore

We only hope you’ll make life your own.

                                                                                                                                                                                                And then Precious Daughter, You will go.

Go out there.

See the sights. Meet the people.

Conquer the challenges. Enjoy the ride.

We will be here

Happy for You.

Learning once more to be just us two.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Knowing that

We are only renting

Means it is all the more cherished.

Each chapter, whilst fleeting, is treasured.

We hope this means we won’t stifle.

We want only for your flame to burn

In its own fantastical way.

                                                                                                                                                                                                We don’t hope to buy you. You were never Ours.

Always your own.

Our privilege, is to guide and teach.

Arm you with that which you need to get on.

We’ll expose you to lots, recommend and advise.

But in the end

Your path’s your own.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  As you once fell into Daddy’s arms

You’ll fall into a world of your own creation.

You’ll triumph. You’ll fail.

And that’s OK.

We’ll always be here to catch you.

After all, We’re only renting.

But you own us.

Every. Single. Brick.

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Bobal’s Babble: A letter to Mush on her 1st Birthday

Dear Mush,

Today, you turned one and for some reason that makes me both really happy and really sad.

This year  has just whizzed by too quickly.

And I really did spend time drinking it in like everybody said to. I spent days where I did nothing but nurse and cuddle you. I watched you sleep. I took the whole year off work. But none of it seems to have slowed down time.

This year has been the quickest and most momentous of our lives. And because so much has happened I find myself forgetting details. Like your new-born smell or how teeny you felt in my arms when I nursed you in the middle of the night or even how floppy you were when you were first learning to sit. I know it happened but I can’t feel it anymore.

When I close my eyes I see your today-face with your blondey brown hair sticking out in all directions, your little button nose that wrinkles when you giggle, your perfect teeny mouth that so often forms a comically perfect ‘O’ when you yawn. But tomorrow you won’t look like that and it breaks my heart.  It’s like enduring little bereavements every day; my baby is slipping away and being replaced by this beautiful and perfect little girl. And so I try and soak it up but it’s like trying to hold onto water.

Yet, the maddening thing is, that nothing makes me prouder than watching you grow every single day. I live for the new things you do. Crawling and walking, roaring and kissing. It’s incredible watching you develop. When you first crawled I remember swelling with pride and
Your Daddy was more than disappointed to miss the first time.

You’re developing into this precocious and funny little madam. A fiercely independent little lady who wants to do everything on her own and despite being unable to talk uses her funny faces and little quirks to tell us exactly what she wants, when and how. For instance opening and closing your podgy little fist in the direction of your water/food/toy and shaking your head until we pick up the right one.

I keep on zooming forward to when you’ll be talking; excited to hear your words and thoughts, to your first day at school, will you love it? Or your wedding day; will your daddy cry as he walks you down the aisle (of course he will – he’s a big softy!) I can’t wait for every single milestone. In some respects it can’t come quickly enough.

Between mummy blubbers at how quickly it’s all going, and feelings of trepidation at the thought of our year off together soon coming to a close; I cant help but compare my present self to my pre-Mush self.

Without a doubt, you have irrevocably altered me. And I can never go back. You have given me a purpose I never needed that spans beyond any promotion, a joy that was never lacking before but some how now exists in earth shattering proportions.  You have given me a new found reverence for the fragility of life and wonderment at the miracle of it.

Impossibilities of impossibilities  I even love your daddy more. Seeing him fall so hard for you and worry about whether you have enough sun cream on, or enough bath toys or spending literally hours teaching you words and sounds, it fills me with the warm and fuzzies. I just love him so much. 

In truth you’ve both turned me into a big old ball of vulnerable love! But oh what a double edged sword that is. It means that I am a bag of worry and nerves, spending my time researching whether the tiniest bit of unnoticed mildew in a both toy that touched your bath water for a fraction of a second could kill you or whether the spot of eczema under your chin is actually early onset meningitis or insisting on getting life insurance; just in case.

It’s funny how new life makes you worry constantly about death. It’s crazy also how it makes you lose first hand fear of your own mortality. Indeed, I fear for myself in the sense of how awful for you not to have a mother but not in the sense of I don’t want to die. Of course I don’t (now more than ever) but keeping you alive and well and happy has taken priority over all else.

Both Daddy and I  have been consumed with this innate need to protect you from all hurt.  Though we realise we cant, we’re still determined to try. Even at the tender age of one, we’ve already had the odd occasion when we have had to reassure each other that unfortunately yet inevitably you will hurt and we can’t always stop it but, thank goodness,  we can always be there to kiss it better.

Today, on the eve of the rest of your life, I find myself wishing you good health and happiness  (what parent doesn’t). But most of all, little baby Mush, I wish you your very own child because, quite plainly,  I can’t see how it gets better than this.

All my love, now and forever,

 

Mummy

xxxxx

 

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Bobal’s Babble: 6 Secret Pleasures of Nosy People.

  • Looking in people’s trolleys.

Yes – if you’re fat and you bought cake; I’m judging, if you’re old and you bought condoms; I’m cringing and if you’re pregnant and you bought decaffeinated coffee; I’m sympathising. I accept that this is politically incorrect and judgmental but I never vocalise my inner meanness – they are my secret, nosy pleasures after all!

Being a keen cook I like to try and figure out the meals that the ‘just popping in for something for tea’  shoppers are buying ingredients for. Once I even found myself suppressing an urge to tell someone that thyme would go much better with their (assumed on my part) chicken risotto than the rosemary they had picked out.

I especially love trying to figure out the lives of these anonymous shoppers. A trolley full of milk, cereal and multipacks of crisps – Octomum? 5 boxes of cat food and treats and a microwave lasagne – crazy cat lady? Condoms, squirty cream and golden syrup – sexy time?

I actually saw the latter in someone’s basket at the checkout once and my first thought was to appreciate the brazenness of this guy; I’d have at least had to buy some other random items to cover up my agenda! My second thought was how sticky must that be? You know you’re a Nosy Parker when your mind wanders to the possible ripping off of a totally random person’s pubic hair in a golden syrup sex-capade!

2. Looking at people’s washing lines.

I think I may be alone in this but I find washing lines strangely interesting. You can figure out where people work, if they have kids, if they’re fat or skinny,  young or old and whether they follow fashion.

For weeks after moving in to our new house, I was obsessed with our neighbour whose garden backs on to ours as every day they hung out lines and lines of towels. How were they using so many towels? Were they really dirty? Obsessive compulsive? Battling a flood problem? One day I asked Mack about what he thought their deal was and he smugly told me that it wasn’t a house but a hairdressers!

3. Facebook Stalking.

Now this is surely common place nosiness? You are scrolling down your newsfeed when you see a friend has liked someone’s birth announcement. You find yourself wondering how heavy the baby was, was it early or late? is it cute? So you click on their profile. You then scroll down this stranger’s wall and see that they recently went to a wedding so you wonder what the bride wore so you hop on that person’s page and before you know it; you’re twenty clicks away from where you started and are reading about Mr and Mrs smith in Zimbabwe who recently vacationed in Hawaii.

4. Perusing the Showbiz Pages on the Daily Mail App.

My ultimate guilty pleasure! Why stop at localised nosiness when obnoxious reporters can stick there lens into the house of the rich and famous and report back to the likes of little old me. I find myself getting emotionally invested in these media personas so much so that I was gutted when Ben Afleck and Jennifer Garner announced their divorce. I mean, they seemed like the perfect couple what with her girl next door looks and him always taking his kids to go get ice cream.

Then there’s the sport of judging the outfits on the red carpet. Yes, Lady Gaga you look ridiculous! Not forgetting the exciting news that is just sprung on you – I actually found myself wondering how it was the Tom Hardy had managed to keep his girlfriend’s pregnancy a secret from me for so long!

And then there are the occasions I find myself getting annoyed at celebrites. Like, seriously – Kanye West, get over yourself!

5. Listening to people’s music through their head-phones/cars.

This is the ultimate game you can play with yourself. Look at a person, make a snap judgment as to what they are like and therefore what they will be listening to and then lurk behind them to see if you were right.

It’s especially fun when you deem the Barbie walking on the treadmill with a full face of makeup at the gym and decide that she is clearly listening to the latest sickly boyband to spy and find out she got ACDC or the like blaring. I make a point of then giving her the nod of approval – of course she just thinks I’m a werido and doesn’t realise that she’s just surpassed my oh so low expectations of her.

And cars. The motorway is great for watching people sing their hearts outs to various tunes. It’s so much fun to stare at them from your lofty perch on the passenger side and see them catch your eye contact and stop mid-verse! Plus, chances are they are listening to the radio so I like to make a sport of skipping through the radio channels trying to guess which station they are rocking out to.

6. Looking into people’s houses when you walk past.

Ok. I am beginning to sound like a creepy stalker. I’m not! Promise. I don’t mean sitting in the bushes, peering through your window; I mean that when I’m walking past, if their is a clear line of sight into your house; I like to have a glance. I like seeing the different décor people have opted for and at Christmas time it was pretty looking at everyone’s tree.

For instance in a street not so far from me; 3 houses in a row have the same red and pink flowery wallpaper. Isn’t that incredible? Not least of all because it’s horrible! Plus I like to infer how many of my neighbours are show-offs so deemed by me if they have windowsill decorations pointing out of their window for other people to look at instead of into the house for them to enjoy!

So there you have it – how many do you do?

P.S. You should note that I had a list of 10 nosy behaviours but Mack said I sounded way too creepy and that people would stop hanging out with me so I shortened it! I had no idea I was such a Nosy Rosie until I saw it in black and white!

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Bobal’s Babble: The Routine of a Baby that sleeps through the night.

Before I get started, note that I am not a baby whisperer! I believe that whether your baby will sleep through the night or not is as much down to nature as it is to nurture so whilst Mush‘s sleeping can in part be credited to our routine, ultimately she’s probably a baby who likes her sleep. That being said, I know how much I’d have liked to have read a blog about a bedtime routine before we had Mush (mainly because I am nosy!) so here it is. Feel free to ignore it or steal bits that suit.

Mush is breastfed and we’d read everywhere that this meant that she would not sleep through the night for various reasons so we steeled ourselves for this eventuality but still imposed a routine from day dot. The routine seems to be working as Mush is now nearly 5 months old and has slept a solid 12 hours through the night since she was 11 weeks old.

Hopefully, these tips will be useful to those parents who are expecting or to long suffering parents (one of my Mummy friends is just imposing a routine with her 5 month old baby and after a few difficult days it seems to be working). I know when we were expecting, we looked into establishing a routine and the advice seemed to either support extended crying out or sleeping in a bed with your baby until they go to school. We just pinched ideas a little from here and a little from there and it hasn’t felt too harsh or too relaxed as a result.

Tip 1: differentiate between night and day.

We kept the lights on and didn’t quiten daily activities through the day but at the start of the bedtime routine lights were dimmed and it was hushed noises all round.

Mush is one of those babies who does not want to miss out so she is not really a day napper (unless the hoover’s on! You’ve got to love a bit of white noise!). If she does nap it tends to be on us (or an ever eager family member!) or for a short cat nap but take away all that stimulus at night and she sleeps a solid 12 hours most nights.

Lights out at night therefore means lights out at night meaning that all nappy changes and night feeds were done by the light of a night light only and we were careful not to stimulate Mush by talking to her or cuddling excessively. This means that Mush knows that it is night-time now and so night-time rules apply.  We did this for every time she woke up before 7 am. Yes, it can be tedious feeding a baby in the dark or not switching the TV on to entertain you but I believe it’s paid dividends!

And as soon as morning time arrived (7 am in our household) if she woke after that; lights would go on and we’d engage with her thus telling her that it’s daytime so day-time rules apply.

Tip 2: cluster feed.

I’ve no idea how this relates to formula feeding but in respect of my breastfeeding, I feed on demand. During growth spurts this can be every hour through the day and come the 2 hours before bedtime I try to squeeze an extra feed or two in (cluster feeding). This quite simply seems to keep her fuller for longer allowing her to sleep that extended stretch at night.

Tip 3: have a routine and stick to it

For the first 3 weeks of Mush’s wonderful existence,  she fed round the clock so we didn’t start bedtime routine until 9 ish so that we could go to bed with her after that. Indeed, she would normally do her longest period of sleep in that first stint and believe you me – we wanted to reap the full benefit of it. Then when we realised that hours 7-9 were Mush’s crankiest we brought bedtime routine back to a 7 o’clock start with the view of putting her down separately to when we went to bed. In each eventuality  the routine was the same:

– cluster feed 2 hours before bed
– bath
– baby massage
– pj’s
– feed
– bed

A big believer of routine as I am, I still think that you should keep it flexible meaning if you need to pick a later bedtime or skip bath because you’re out and about late – do that (although try and have an uninterrupted routine for a few weeks to really get it to stick) and let your routine evolve to suit your family’s needs. For instance Mush is now out of her baby bath (cue mummy whimper) so we’ve made bath time more of a play time as opposed to the zen-like soak it once was. But the rest of the routine remains unchanged meaning that this one change has not upset the routine.

Don’t get me wrong – imposing a routine with a reluctant baby is not easy.  The first week we tried the 7 o’clock bedtime Mush didn’t settle until 1 am! But we persevered and we’re consistent throughout. It’s also so much easier if you have a partner you can tag in who will take the exact same approach so that there’s consistency and you get a rest.

Tip  4: encourage baby to self sooth.

Before Mush was born, I was convinced that I would be able to let my baby ‘cry it out’ to establish a bedtime routine. Then I had Mush and can’t bear to hear her crying especially not upstairs all alone. In fact the first time we managed to put her to bed and we come downstairs I cried because I missed her! But I think it’s so important to allow your baby to learn to self sooth as let’s face it you can’t always be there to comfort your little one (for instance Mush screams the entire trip whenever we drive anywhere and I can’t pick her up and cuddle her whilst I’m driving).

Lucky for us – no crying out has been required for Mush as she developed thumb sucking as a means of comfort and this is how she sooths herself to sleep. What ever their poison (dummy, a specific blanket or head tossing etc) if they can get themselves to sleep by themselves then that’s better for everyone.

I think this can be encouraged by trying to put your baby down in the basket/cot/bed awake. We struggled with this at first as Mush would often fall asleep during feeding or during the 20 mins post feeding where we had to keep her upright because of her reflux. That being said – quite often she’d wake up when placed in her basket but then nod off quickly.

Another way is to not become a slave to your baby’s cry. We know the difference between Mush’s grumbling and her crying and we’d only seek to comfort her for the latter and would usually give it a minute or 2 before going in to her. Once in the dark quiet room we’d offer comfort in her basket first – head strokes/hand holding or shushing and if the crying continued we’d pick her up until she calmed down and then place her back down. In the early days we’d sometimes need to feed her again.

Tip 5: don’t lose heart.

We’ve managed to employ this routine away from home or after out of whack days and it’s worked but sometimes your baby just doesn’t want to play ball. The night before Mush slept through she was up every 2 hours and then the next night it just happened but having that routine already in place has hopefully created an environment where Mush can sleep through if able. She still has bad nights – I write this on the back of such a night where she was up 5 hours due to teething. But whilst it’s tempting to start bedtime earlier tonight or try and go back to bed now, we know that it’s better for us all to plough on with the routine. Mush knows what to expect and so do we and that is less stressful all round.

This is just one mother’s experience but hopefully you’ve gained one or 2 helpful hints or at least the reassurance that there is light at the end of the tunnel, even for a breastfed baby.

 

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Bobal’s Babble: 4 Ways to Get Away With Arguing Around Your Baby

Mack and I argue. A lot. Not usually blazing arguments but bickering for sure. For the most part, this works for us. We have open communication and sometimes we don’t agree on things but c’est la vie. We are both big believers in constructive disagreements and part credit our 11 year + strong relationship to it. But since we’ve had Mush, we’ve had to up our game and argue on another level.

Can any of you parents recognise these arguing styles from your own experiences?

Style 1: the passive aggressive ‘whilst speaking to the baby’ argument.

Mack and I can have whole discussions with each other without actually even speaking to each other, by way of Mush.  For instance, me to Mush:

 “Oh look Mush,  Daddy hasn’t emptied the kitchen bin and hasn’t put the black bin out for the bin men. Silly Daddy. Daddy’s going to be hopping around outside in his dressing gown again in the morning.”

Mack:

 “If only Mummy had legs of her own to put the bin out herself, ey Mush? Maybe Daddy would do it if he didn’t have to navigate around Mummy’s shoe collection to get to the back door.”

Me:

“Well Mush, us girls aren’t in a position to relocate our shoe collection. Us girls have to stay shoe-nited.”

And so on…

Style 2: the hilarious non-profanity, profanity arguments.

When all you want to say is fuck, shit, bollocks but there are little ears about. For example:

When I trip over Mack’s dumbells AGAIN and want to say:

“Shit! My toe! Grr you’re such a knob head!”

Translates to:

“Cheese and rice! My toe! Grr you’re such a knob of butter!”

No word of a lie, we actually say these things.  Rather sounds like we’re cooking, doesn’t it? Another example would be when I dance around in front of the TV when Mack Is playing Halo and he wants to tell me to:

“Stop being a dick and move out the fucking way – I’ve got to capture the flag!” (Or whatever the aim of those ridiculous games is).

Translates to:

“Stop being a dick-tator and move out of my clucking way! *gaming mumbo jumbo*.”

Style 3: the creepy manic smiling snipes.

Where we’re both annoyed about something but Mush is sat in-between us, oblivious and we don’t want her to cotton on so we both hiss at each other through forced, toothy smiles which makes us look like Heath Ledger’s ‘The Joker’. In hindsight, this has got to be more worrisome for Mush than hearing her parents argue over who’s turn it is to wash up.

Style 4: the heated arguments that are called off by the parent who’s ‘loosing’ with the ‘let’s not argue in front of the baby’ Get Out of Jail Free Card.

These tend to be the real McCoy arguments. Those little niggles that have really got under your skin meaning you can’t help but argue.

In arguments there is inevitably a ‘winner’ and a ‘looser’ but Mack and I are so stubborn that even though one of us realises they are the looser (Mack!) we still argue to the death. Now we’ve got Mush though, at the tipping point where one of us realises they haven’t got a leg to stand on, that ‘looser’ parent will suddenly pipe up with a, “We shouldn’t argue in front of the baby so let’s pick this up later.” It’s never picked up later.

So there you have it. How to argue around a baby, as advised by pros.

 

For the sake of completeness, we find apologising with the baby is also a very effective tool for resolving arguments. The ‘looser’ parent just picks up cute baby whilst hiding behind her, dangles her in front of the ‘winning’ parent and in their best baby voice impression says “Soowwy!”

 

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Bobal’s Babble: My New Year’s Resolutions

Every year I, like millions of people everywhere, embark on a New-Year, New-Me agenda by way of New Year’s Resolutions. And I, like millions of people everywhere, break all of these promises usually by day 2, when I stumble across a Terry’s Chocolate Orange I had not accounted for in the pre – new year purge.

This year however will be different because I am counting on you all to keep me in check. I plan to record this year’s hopes and plans in the blogosphere and provide regular updates as to how I’m getting on. So here goes.

Firstly, pre – resolution so to speak, Mack and I have adopted a way of giving to each other within the annual tradition of making resolutions. For the last few years we’ve each come up with 12 favours that the other is to happily grant, on demand, throughout the year. For example, on my list is a full works bath meaning that upon my request Mack will spring up and run me a bath with my favourite smellies, book and refreshments (wine, wine, wine) before then taking over Mush Duty. These favours usually cost nothing more than effort and brighten up our year.

Now for the resolutions themselves:

  • I will get fitter, healthier and lose weight.

Who’s list is this resolution not on? I’m quite a fit and healthy person who likes exercise and healthy food so I’m never terribly out of shape but since I got pregnant with Mush, I’ve done nothing. NOTHING. I was struck down with the horrible Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction during pregnancy which rendered me on crutches and then since Mush (she’s now 4 months old) I’ve just acclimatised to being a mummy which I’ve found is an excellent excuse for eating what ever crosses my path. But enough is enough! I miss my abs!

As I believe resolutions are easier to follow when you are specific, I specifically want to reduce my weight and body fat percentage from 85.9kg and 29.3 % to 75kg and 25% by the end of the year. And I want to focus on my legs and core specifically as the former have always been my Achilles heal and the latter is shot to shit from cooking Mush.

I have never dieted before and don’t plan to start now so I am going to follow the old fashioned, ‘eat less and move more’ plan. Hopefully, as I get started I might have some tips for women getting back in to shape post-partum and in particular those breastfeeding at the same time.

  • I will significantly cut down on the amount of sugar I eat.

I’ve never had much of a sweet tooth – crisps and cheese were always by specific brand of poison (wine doesn’t count right?) but as soon as I became pregnant, suddenly all I wanted was chocolate. As Mack is a ginormous chocoholic I assumed it was just as a result of me carrying his child but since Mush’s arrival, I have still not been able to shake this sweet tooth.

This, along with the hidden sugars in everything, I am sure that I am consuming way too much sugar and I am willing to bet that I can find sugar-free alternatives to substitute into my daily life. I definitely do not have any lofty ambitions of cutting out sugar all together (what’s life with out a little bit of what you fancy) but I’m interested in what the effect will be of reducing my sugar intake. And, sorry to tell you this Mack; but as I do all the shopping and cooking – you will also be following this resolution too!

Plus this resolution conveniently helps with my first resolution – don’t you just love it when a plan comes together?

  • I will continue to cut out caffeine from my diet.

Not one to do things by halves, when Mack and I started to try for a baby, I immediately cut out caffeine in drinks. I found it much easier to just cut it out then to keep track of what I had and whether is was within NHS guidelines. This meant that if I had some chocolate or was served a caffeinated beverage by accident; I knew that I was still way under the NHS recommendation. And I can honestly say that I haven’t missed caffeine.

I am extremely caffeine sensitive so one cup of coffee would give me an insane energy burst (and tummy ache/butterflies) which I felt braced me for the activity to hand – work/gym/keeping from that afternoon nap temptation. But, the last 12 months have been the most tiring ones of my life (first and last trimester tiredness and then new-born sleep deprivation) yet I’ve survived without pumping myself full of caffeine and I have felt better for it. So, I would like to keep this up beyond breastfeeding (with the exception of a celebratory Coca-Cola when I finish breastfeeding!).

 
  • I want to do a planned/structured activity with Mush every day (when not at work).

Free play and solo play are both really important (in my opinion) but I would love to make sure that I do a different more structured activity every day.  I think this will help Mush’s development, mean that I get to enjoy quality time with Mush and it gives me the opportunity to expose Mush to different things to see what she likes. I think it will be fun towards the end of the year when I have to think up activities that we’ve not done yet plus it will give my day a little more structure which can’t hurt.

  • No smartphones on an evening.

Hi, my name is Bobal and I am a smart phone addict. I did my best not to end up here. Once upon a time, watching other people being glued to their phones was my particular pet hate but I am now one of them. I can’t resist checking Facebook, my guilty morning pleasure is reading the Daily Mail via its App (not quite a broad sheet over a cup of coffee!) and I am part of so many Whatsapp groups that I am constantly receiving or sending messages (admittedly they are usually instigated by me and usually consist of photos of Mush).

But this year I want to reduce this. I don’t want Mack or Mush to only get half of my attention, I want to set a good example for Mush and quite frankly – I want to stop wasting so much time.

The plan is to generally make a conscious effort to put my phone down and in the evening to put it away. Mack and I have done this before and it worked really well but during the long and boring pregnancy months where I was confined to the sofa and then the middle of night feeds where you need something to keep you awake, the phone crept back.

Constantly having one eye on my phone makes me distracted and actually disrupts my sleep. Plus I’ve read several times (via Google, on my phone) that staring at a blue light (phones, TVs etc) just before bed can convince your brain that it’s daytime which makes it difficult to fall to sleep. And then theres always that temptation to check your emails which leads to Facebook which leads to an hour gone before you know it.

So bye bye phone, hello quality time with the family.

  • I want to finish a first draft of my novel.

As per my introductory blog, many moons ago I started writing a novel but never actually got further than a few pages (I am a master procrastinator) so this year I’d actually like to have a draft done by Christmas time 2016. I feel like this will be my hardest resolution as I never seem to find time to write it because it’s not something I feel I can dive into for 5 minutes at a time but if J K Rowling can start Harry Potter on a train in her mind alone then I can surely to something with laptop in hand! By the way, I do realise that my novel will be word of the day toilet paper compared to the genius that is Harry Potter!

  • Promote Mack and Bobal Waffle on.

Mack’s set some specific numbers that he wants us to get in Twitter and Facebook followers  in his New Year’s Resolution blog which I would also like to see met. I would additionally like to give Pinterest a go but apart from pinning photos of crafts and recipes I’ll never actually do; I’m not really sure how to use it. Does anyone have any tips?

 

So, 7 objectives and 12 months. Watch this space.

 

Check out Mack’s resolutions here.

 

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Bobal’s Babble: My Disgustometre Pre and Post Baby

 

I am not a prude or particularly prim and proper but I do not like to discuss or publically partake in disgusting albeit natural bodily functions. My husband, brother in law and sisters in law have been known to have ‘burp offs’, my husband takes pride in his farts sounding like a duck quacking and both my in laws and immediate family seem to enjoy discussing, at the dinner table, the colour, size and consistency of their morning constitutional. But not me. I have been known to visibly cringe at such performances and certainly would not join in. The mere reference to such topics would ensure I busied myself with anything but discussing the topic at hand. That was before I had a baby.

Yes, there’s something about spending hours with hubby in a birthing pool full of god knows what that stops short such prudish behaviour. It’s safe to say that to score highly on my disgustometre these days something truly disgusting has to be a foot. Here’s how readings have differed since Mush’s arrival.

Passing wind in public

Pre baby: no one should pass wind in public and, contrary to popular belief, a little baby doing it is not cute.

Post baby: it’s an inevitable postnatal side effect in mummy and to be congratulated in Mush. In fact Mack and Mush have developed a game as a result of Mush’s impressive flatulence.

Snot and bogeys

Pre baby: even these words are gross. People who pick their noses in public are disgusting and the thought of them doing it in private is no more palatable.  And children picking and eating their bogeys is beyond revolting. Why is this globally celebrated? !?

Post baby: I take perverse pleasure in picking stringy bogeys out of Mush’s nose – like squeezing a spot – especially if I can get it all with one poke of the corner of a muslin cloth.

I think nothing of rubbing crusty snot off Mush’s nose with my sleave without changing afterwards and feel almost relieved when the wet liquid dripping down me is snot and not something else.I am pleased however to report I’ve kept a somewhat line of propriety as I do not suck bogeys up with the Bogey Sucker! That’s Daddy’s job. Never mind how much I’m assured that there’s a filter between my mouth and ‘the bogey’ I cannot and will not stomach it!

Vomit

Pre baby: if you’re sick near me, i’ll be sick on you. Simples.

I am always sick where I can flush it or abandon it and never mind holding Mack’s hair back if he is ill – I have to leave the room as soon as he starts throwing up (it doesn’t help that he sounds like a velocerapter when he’s being sick)!

Post baby: I am thrown up on constantly! Literally all day. Projectile, mucusy,  milky, a little, a lot – you name it and Mush has covered me in it. And not only am I able to hold on to the contents of my stomach during such incidents- I happily walk around in clothes that have only seen one swipe of a kitchen towel after such soiling. That being said – if I insisted on changing clothes every time my baby spat up I would be naked most of the time.

Poo (the big one, no pun intended)

Pre baby: poo is just one of those things that everyone does but that should not be discussed colloquially but rather should remain between you and or the toilet/ your doctor.

No, Husband, I am not interested in the fact that you ate so much blue cake icing it turned your poo blue. No Brother In Law, I am not enthralled by your tale of the time you got caught out walking and had to go so you used your sock as toilet roll. And no Niece, I do not want to watch you flush your poo down the toilet.

And Bobal’s ultimate rule for life – your husband must not suspect you poo or in anyway stumble across any evidence of it. Mack nicknames me the speedpooer for a reason!

Post baby: my cardinal rule went out the window (skyrocketed spectacularly out the window)  when Mack climbed into the birthing pool with me!

Poo is the barrometre that all things baby and post baby are measured by.

Firstly, ‘that first poo after labour’. The midwife warns you about it and gives you advice on how to handle it. My mother in law came to visit Mush for the second time armed with strawberries to provide me with the necessary ruffage to get things moving (it worked) and everyone and thier dog saw fit to ask me if ‘that’ number 2 had made an appearance yet and what it was like (like all your internal organs are going to fall out of you but that’s another story)!

Mush’s bowel movements have become my version of trainspotting. In the early days I jotted down the colour,  frequency and consistency like a mad woman. Me and Mack discussed them at length and after a 7 day drought we prayed for one of those chicken korma nappies (so named by the midwives and no, I haven’t been able to eat chicken korma since)! Poo is one of the main topics of conversation when socialising with other parents, second to baby’s weight and sleep (on the 50th centile and a solid 12 hours by the way).20150930_170927

Poo is no longer persona non grata in the Mack-Bobal household – it’s a sport! And one Mush excels in. Her explosive nappies are legendary and her poo-scapades provide us with hilarious tales for dinner parties (and blogs)!

So in short, I have evolved into a poo talker, bogey picker and sick wearer and wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

For details of the fart game, click here to see Mack’s blog.

For a classic poo-scapade story, click here see Bobal’s blog.

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Bobal’s Babble: Our First Photoshoot as a Family of 3

So, our lovely wedding photographer invited us to a bonus baby shoot to document Mush’s beautiful baby features.

And I was so up for this!

I envisaged gorgeous photographs of my beautiful daughter tucked amongst fluffy white nests, all pink and naked with a serene look on her face. Or black and white shots of the three of us, Mack and I gazing down at our baby girl as she smiled up at us.  Or even a few cheesy Christmassy pictures with Mush dressed up in some cute getup, surrounded by snow and real life reindeer (ok, I think I knew in my heart of hearts that that last one was probably not feasible but I had high hopes for the rest).

On the morning of our photoshoot I washed Mush carefully, brushed her few baby hairs lovingly and dressed her in a cute onesie. I also carefully selected a few more outfits for wardrobe changes. I then got myself ready by putting on some clean clothes (whilst getting dressed in not normally noteworthy, I feel it is worth a mention now as these days my clothes are mostly covered in baby sick so a clean outfit is a big deal), I applied make up (I can count on 1 hand how many times my foundation has seen the cold light of day in the last 4 months) and dried AND straightened my hair (a break from the wash it at night, scrag it back in the day and dry shampoo it for one day more than I can get away with it routine I’ve adopted of late). Mack also got himself together by trimming the beard, donning jeans rather than his trademark shorts and styling his mop.

We were looking good. Well, clean. We looked clean. After all no amount of preening can wipe three months of sleepless nights off your face! In any event we were ready to go pose for our idyllic family photos.

Only thing was…Mush didn’t get the memo!

Before we could leave the house she had thrown up on Mack’s tshirt (the one I carefully selected as it coordinated with me and Mush). In the trauma of cramming Mush in the car (she hates the car for reasons only she is privy to) we managed to leave the bottoms of the lovely Christmas outfit we’d bought for those oh so perfect seasonal shots. And we’d forgotten to check the contents of the nappy bag (rookie mistake) meaning we were about to enter the outside world armed with only 4 nappies (this would not be enough).

The weather was blowing a gale so when we arrived (parked 200m away) Mack and I sat in the car for 10 mins deliberating who should make a run for it with the baby (she’s carried everywhere as the pram is her biggest nemesis next to the car) and who should unload the car (yes, with a baby there is always cargo to unload even for a 30 minute photo shoot). Mack opted for unloading and I legged it into the studio, worrying in equal measure about keeping my baby dry and warm and keeping my freshly straightened hair away from the elements. Mush focused mainly on flailing her limbs around so that the blanket around her kept falling off causing  me to drop the brolly several times as I tried to keep my little octopus contained.

Phew – I made it in the building in relatively one piece with only slightly mad hair and a hardly damp baby. Our photographer took us through her ideas and the three of us nodded and agreed; excited to get started (well I was, Mack had been dragged along begrudgingly on the promise I’d make brownies and Mush was showing all appearance of listening and agreeing but she was blatantly crossing her fingers behind her back).

Pose 1: parents to kiss each of baby’s cheeks as she beams a big gummy grin.

Reality: Mush screams with relish the moment either of us has the audacity to kiss her or in fact show her any kind of affection.

Perhaps she needs some me time says the photographer so let’s try laying her down.

Pose 2: let’s arrange the baby in a blanket nest on the floor and let Mummy and Daddy lie next to her gazing down at her pretty little face.

Reality: Mush spends the whole time sucking her thumb (which she does with thumb in mouth but also all other fingers spread over her face) and facing away from the camera as we try to hold ourselves in an unnatural position and take it in turns to pull Mush’s thumb out her mouth.

Perhaps she’ll be happier naked. Says the photographer. Erm…she hasn’t pooed for 5 days but naked…sure.

Pose 3: Mush in all her cute butt nakedness nestled in a white fluffy blanked surrounded by pink rose petals

Reality: you guessed it folks!  Poo! Mush suddenly went from grumpy devil baby to smiley. Thank goodness we thought.  Until she farted.  I hope that’s not a precursor Mack joked. Then…poo face.

Let me explain – Mush has a special face she pulls which means ‘Mummy, Daddy look – I’m pooing’. For a girl who would rather look at anything or anyone other than her parents, when she’s pooing she fixes us with undivided eye contact.  As if to say…I’m brewing something truly disgusting which you will have to clean up. Poo face cannot be mistaken. So when Mush suddenly looks at us, knits her brow and purses her lips – Mack and I dive in but it’s too late. Beautiful fluffy white nest is now orange brown toilet. 5 days worth of toilet.

Our photographer was lovely – ‘these things happen, just let her do her thing and then we will be able to try again’ etc etc. So Mack, I and the photographer all wait for Mush to finish her biggest poo yet. Mush’s effort would have been almost impressive had we not been mortified. In an attempt to stem the flow – Mack had got through 2 nappies. When Mush had finished she then free weed all over the 3rd nappy. As Mack pulled out the forth and final nappy we realised our error and started to panic.

The photographer stepped in and said to leave her naked – ‘she’s done both poo and wee so she must be empty so she can just be dressed after the shoot’. Okie doki, on to the next.

Pose 4: some Mummy and Daughter shots and Daddy and Daughter shots where parent and baby alike are full of joy at this bonding opportunity.

Reality: Mush is uncharacteristically happy and bonny with Mummy. Unnerving really. Then she screams and frowns with Daddy – ah that’s why so nice with mummy – divide and conquer.

Pose 5: baby rolled up onto 2nd blanket next to a chalk heart with her name on it, looking like a fallen angel.

Reality: we did indeed have smiley angelic rolled up Mush but only because she was weeing on this new blank canvas.

2 blankets in we are reassured that there’s no one in after us and it’ll all come out in the wash.

Pose 6: a girly pink blanket with a cutey baby lying in the middle on her tummy giggling up at the camera.

Reality.  Mush hates the car. Mush hates the pram. And Mush HATES tummy time. So cue crying child writhing on pink blanket free weeing out of pure spite (her butt did look cute though).

Ok. Let’s dress the baby – there are only a finite amount of props after all and prepare for the Christmas shot (on goes the final nappy).

Pose 7: baby surrounded by Christmas decorations and a sign reading merry Christmas which she beams up at as if reading it.

Reality: now dressed Mush has to get creative with her sabotage.  She figures throwing up all over the large baubles will do it. It does. Merry bleeding Christmas.

Ok ok. Why don’t we pick baby up. Maybe she wants to be loved.

Post 8: let’s try some standing shots of Mummy and Mush and Daddy and Mush again.  We can throw baby in the air to illicit those cutesy baby chuckles etc.

Reality: Mummy gingerly holding Mush above her (well she was just sick) whilst Mush does smile a bit (Mush’s smiles are usually followed with a frown as if she didn’t mean for the smile to get out). And then nothing but tears for Daddy – Daddy is starting to take it personally.

Mush is now hysterical. Perhaps that’s a wrap.

Down the stairs to leave we go with the photographer carrying a bag of poo and wee soaked blankets and one sicky bauble.

I wonder if the next wedding she photographs will be getting a free first baby shoot. My guess is not.

We step out into sunshine (bloody typical) and place Mush into her hated car only for her to fix each of us with a stare, give half a smile and then fall asleep trumping like a trooper as if knowing that’ll we’ll be waiting for the poo which is going to make us nappy less.

I shall be lowering my expectations for our next photo shoot to considering a session where my child does not shit all over the studio, a win!

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Bobal’s Babble: What Marriage Means to Me (warning, blog may contain some nauseating declarations of love)

Two years ago today, Mack and I got married. It was the best day of my life; second only to the birth of Mush some 21 months later. Yet, I wasn’t that big a believer in marriage.

I considered marriage to be just a party resulting in a piece of paper ‘formalising’ our existing commitment to each other. There was no religious aspect for me as I’m an atheist so I was never of the opinion that I must get married. This was a view I held up until our wedding day.

Likewise, Mack wasn’t really into marriage. His parent’s marriage had ended in a protracted divorce and his father had then gone on to marry 2 more times. Marriage to Mack seemed fickle and a big white wedding seemed a waste of money. So I never did think he’d propose. And I was ok about that. I felt secure in our relationship as boyfriend and girlfriend and didn’t see how marriage would affect it one way or the other. I did fancy the wedding though but agreed that spending a house deposit type figure on one day was insane!

But then…Mack proposed! Mack will have to tell you what changed his mind (and his mind was changed – he wasn’t just leading me on to make the surprise bigger).

But in any event, one normal, boring Thursday at Easter time Mack put on an easter egg hunt for me using kinder eggs (normal adult behaviour in the Mack-Bobal household). And in the last egg was a beautiful diamond ring. When I turned around, Mack was on one knee and he proposed. We were ecstatic! Indeed planning a wedding is so lovely (with a dash of stress thrown in). And within 7 months we had planned a wedding on a budget. Yet I still didn’t consider that marriage would change or enhance our relationship.

Then we got married.

Our day was perfect with the exception that Mack’s grandma wasn’t able to attend in person as she was too ill (we did have a very memorable video chat with her though, where for a few minutes we were talking to her ceiling and then to one massive eye before she’d figured out the camera). We couldn’t have asked for a better day. It was exactly what we wanted and more (cliché I know but it’s a cliché for a reason).

But I wasn’t prepared for how significant it would feel to declare my love for Mack in front of everyone in our world. Making those promises to each other in front of people that mattered made the commitment seem real and important.  If we broke those vows we’d be letting them down and ourselves. Hearing those promises from Mack gave me a warm sense of security I didn’t even know was missing.

Merging our worlds like that showed me what I stood to gain from a happy marriage.  Not just because there were some excellent examples of successful marriages in the congregation (Mack’s mum’s second marriage, grandparents, aunty and uncles and cousins plus my parents – whilst separated had many happy years marriage and get on amicably to this day) but also because I could see the family I was gaining whom I wanted to keep.

Now, after the high of the wedding, our relationship has changed for the better. Silly quarrels don’t spin out of control as they once would as – what’s the point? No one is ending things so it will have to be resolved in the end so let’s just cut to the chase.

We now take our relationship seriously as we hadn’t done to this extent before (even though we thought we did). It’s a priority to keep our relationship good so we work at it. We now see the bigger picture in a way we couldn’t appreciate pre – wedding. And the happiness we felt on our wedding day acts as a bar that we hold our marriage to. We want to stay that happy.

The first time we referred to each other as ‘my husband’, ‘my wife’ (in our respective wedding toasts) the thrill and pride was indescribable. I still get that thrill now when ticking the ‘married box’ or introducing Mack as my husband.

I’m always proud to say Mack is my husband. I’m proud to say we have a happy marriage (I mean we’re not Ken and Barbie; we do have ups and downs but mostly we get a lot of joy from each other).

Importantly, I’m proud to say that I was wrong about marriage.  Marriage is the ultimate declaration and cementation of love. Never mind how big or small your wedding is – you’re telling the world that this person is so special you can’t bear not to be at their side and what’s more you want them to be.

Mack knows all my stories. He’s lived most of them. My family love him like family and I love his family the same way (well except for Mack’s brother who’s a giant pain in the arse… only joking, he’s our only reader so mustn’t piss him off). I want Mack posing next to me in goofy photographs,  going green next to me whilst we’re travelling (we get terrible travel sickness) and feeding me milky bar buttons (sod grapes) when I’m ill.

Mack is the most incredible person. And he is all mine (well Mush can lay claim a little). I’ve stuck my flag in him and there it will stay forever.

I’m reminded of this every time he sings
silly songs to our baby daughter, when he kisses me on my forehead or when he places my kindle on the bedside table, turns my light off and tucks me in when I fall asleep reading.

Here on our anniversary, I can say that I’m still a very lucky girl.

 

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Bobal’s Babble: It’s a Cat’s Life

Mack and I have 2 cats. One very cat like cat called Goofy who attacks your toes whenever you have the audacity to wiggle one and who only allows you to stroke her when and in the manner, she wishes to be stroked. And, our other cat, Doh Doh, who is not so much a cat as a teddy bear. He loves to be cuddled above all else, wants to sleep in our bed with us (even under the duvet) and likes to be carried around.

Up until Mush’s arrival, Doh Doh was my baby. I would smush him into the hoods of my jackets and walk around with him, we would share a pillow when we napped and I knew just how to stroke him to illicit the deepest form of gratitude; that which was beyond a basic purr – the purr and drool!

Then! Wham bam, my actual baby was born. And with Mush’s arrival, Doh Doh’s world was turned upside down. I became reluctant to stroke Doh Doh because I didn’t want any cat hair to find its way into Mush’s mouth. He was no longer allowed in the bedroom, lest he should climb into Mush’s bed. His hood naps were even no more as now his previously clean, snuggly den was more often than not covered in baby sick.

Doh Doh’s nose has been well and truly pushed out. And perhaps Doh Doh could have accepted all of this had it not been for the screaming baby now shoved in his face, spoiling his sunny stretches on the windowsill and making his meals turn up late and without the added touches of leftover steak. So, not prepared to stand for this decline in living standards, he has left home!

The move was gradual. It started one day with a text message from our lovely neighbour saying that Doh Doh had invited himself in and was enjoying a good cuddle. This progressed to the odd afternoon nap at his new friend’s. Now he is reluctantly sent home everyday and on those days our neighbour works; Doh Doh pines at the back door to get to her.  Much to the upset of me. Had I not loved him, fed him and looked after him when he was sick all these years to now become only an after thought?

So I did what any good mother does…I bribed him. ‘Stay at home kitten and you can have treats.’ ‘Go on – nap in daddy’s leather office chair (the holy grail of napping spots due to its forbidden nature).’ ‘Yes,  I’ve caught you on the kitchen work top but no I won’t tell you off.’

And the result? Doh Doh now eats with us, sleeps where he wants, does what he wants then strolls next door for what I suspect is more of the same. He’s even trained our neighbour to carry him back home when it’s been raining so as not to get his paws wet.

Humans: 0          Cat: 1

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