Sun, sea, sand and splash

The sun has finally made an appearance in Margate for long enough for us to actually get out and about and enjoy it. This weekend has been a blissful Summery couple of days and I have thoroughly enjoyed catching the sun and spending time watching my kids have fun. It’s felt like a bit of a long week as it often does when it is hot and the kids are at school. It’s definitely more difficult to enjoy the rare nice weather if you are doing the school run and lugging book bags and lunchboxes everywhere you go. So, I really appreciated that the sun lasted into the weekend and let us throw mealtimes and bedtimes out the window for a couple of days.

Thurston has definitely found the heat a bit of a struggle and has been napping and falling asleep regularly, usually in his dinner which has had a terrible knock-on effect to his sleep pattern! However, he has been very determined to make the most of it and seems to have really benefitted from spending more time outside and having a bit more freedom. At the start of the week, I made an effort to try and ‘tidy up’ my overgrown garden. It was in a dreadful state having not been touched since my husband injured his spine in 2010. As he is still recovering from his surgery, I tried to do the majority of the weeding and raking myself which was easier said than done with Thurston around. Being the little diva that he is, if I am in the garden at the same time as Thurston, I must permanently be watching and cheering everything he does. Focussing my attention on the gardening instead was unacceptable, which I found out in no uncertain terms when I was whacked over the head from behind with a baking tray. I have learnt the lesson that gardening is only doable with 2 adults. One to weed, and one to be the audience member for Thurston’s live performance.

Having tidied the garden, it seemed logical to play in it and so I invited over an old friend from my teenage years and her adorable 3 year old and twin toddlers. We blew up a massive paddling pool and got their swimming cossies out, plastered on the SPF50 and were actually able to sit and drink tea and have a catch up whilst the kids splashed and played. It is so unusual for Thurston to take to people that instantly and the 6 kids played beautifully together. Being a little water baby, Thurston wasn’t in the least bit bothered about being splashed or realistically, drenched by the other kids. In fact, he was one of the main offenders!! I made a pick n mix lunch of french stick, grapes, kettle chips, organix and salad, and the kids were all good as gold sharing their lunches. Thurston joined all of the other kids on the sofa to watch Tom & Jerry and he played with a noisy Peppa Pig book with his new buddy. Although every so often he still took time out to lay with his pillow, there was no instance of him snatching or lashing out, or crying even. It was a lovely moment for me to realise how far he has come and the progress he has made with socialising. I’m so so proud of him. It was nice for me too, to spend time with people and not worry about what they would think of Thurston, he was just one kid in the big mix, which was really satisfying.

Of course, as soon as the visitors went home, Thurston spent the rest of the afternoon asleep on his Dinosaur pillow. This gave the boys a window of opportunity to sneak out and buy a laptop with our tax rebate which is very exciting! I now have a computer which will make blogging quite a bit easier! I naturally started to panic at the thought of another sleepless night after he’d had such a long nap, so at 7pm after a lovely dinner, I threw the kids sandals on them and dragged them all off to Margate beach for a sunset beach walk. We drove so that we could get to a beach a bit further away where we were guaranteed there would still be sand as I am notorious for getting the tides timings completely wrong. I’m so pleased we made the effort to go out, even though it was past the kids’ usual bedtime. We spent over an hour playing on the sand. Thurston was so happy jumping in the rock pools or ‘muddy puddles’ as he called them. He ran and ran and laughed the whole time, especially when his trousers fell down! Louis and Zeke were typical boys and spent their time writing insults about each other in the sand “Zeke smells”, “Louis loves Christians” (!!!). The sea and the sky looked incredible at that time of night and it was really refreshing to let the children just be. It is starting to become a regular thing for us now, to take the children to the beach of an evening and let them just run and wear themselves out. There’s a lovely quality about the beach that puts everything into perspective and reminds you just to enjoy each other and be happy.

I even managed an evening out this week which was brilliant. So that the kids weren’t too jealous, we treated them to dinner at Nando’s beforehand with a couple of our friends. It’s nice to do something with the kids after school when we can, so we don’t get too stuck in a rut. Thurston is very impatient when we go out to eat as he doesn’t understand that food needs to be cooked and cooled before he can eat it, so 6 of us sat there frantically blowing on chips while he barked orders at us all. It’s a good job we all love him!! Despite his outrage, he actually ate his entire meal in super quick time and enjoyed the chicken even though it had no breadcrumb coating. Usually he would struggle with ‘naked’ chicken, but I think because we had gone for dinner staright from nursery pick-up, he was too hungry to care! He did amazingly well and went to bed no problem for his babysitters which was a relief. The boys tried their luck of course and stayed up a little late, but that’s what babysitters are for. I went with my husband and our friends to see Simon Amstell’s new show “Numb” and had a fantastic time. It was the perfect mix of comedy and hippy philosophy that I love. I went home with a lovely warm feeling and felt determined to always look for the joy in life as Simon Amstell suggested.

Next week is the Jubilee weekend, and the children have 1-2 weeks off school so I am looking forward to being outside even more and watching what lovely little boys they are becoming, whilst working on my tan of course!

Thanks for reading

Hanj x

Pros and Cons

This week we received the proposed Statement of Educational Needs and although I am very pleased with the result and Thurston will be getting all the help he needs at school, it was a bit of a slap in the face!! Having to apply for a Statement puts you in the unusual and unenviable position of someone sending you paperwork which is basically a critique of your child. Everyone know it’s a bad idea to write a list weighing up the pros and cons of a person, but it is very bad to write a list that only contains cons!! That’s what I got, 85 pages of everything that Thurston can’t do. I can’t imagine any other situation where that would happen, even in school reports, they phrase everything in a positive way. It’s almost unheard of for anyone to send you negative information about your children, and for good reason, because it makes you feel like crap.
Ultimately though, I know that this is what had to be done to get him the help and support that he will need at school. It is just a means to an end, and all the professionals did a really good job of describing Thurston’s problems which I am really grateful for. Even though it was shocking to see a list of skills with a page full of “not at all” ticks, I understand that it is their job to point out all the negatives.
However, I feel it I my job to point out all the positives about Thurston, so here is my very own pros list of skills which he would score highly in!!
-Thurston is brilliant at squeezing people. Proper full on, enthusiastic hugs!
-very talented at spinning round in circles. Has a high threshold for dizziness.
-tidies up his toy cars before we leave the house. Very helpful and neat.
-gives his brothers their coats every morning and their pyjamas every night (this could be interpreted as trying to get rid of them but I am going to assume it is thoughtfulness!)
-eats his dinner every night without any whingeing.
-he is the co-founder of the very funny game “beard attack” and likes to play this with Alex every day, which makes Alex very happy.
-Thurston celebrates every achievement and praises other people when they have achieved something, often telling me “good boy mummy”.
-he is very concerned about other people and doesn’t like to see anyone upset and always asks “what’s the matter?”
-Thurston looks ridiculously adorable in whatever outfits I put him in. He is super cute.
-my little boy knows the name of every single character in Cars, Cars 2 and Cars Toons. There are hundreds of them, he can even group them together according to which scenes they are in.
-After breakfast and lunch, he takes his plate to the kitchen, tips his crusts in the bin and puts his plate in the sink. Again, very helpful and neat.
-the kid’s got rhythm. He sings the tunes of all his favourite songs in perfect time and has very cool taste in music.
-Thurston is an awesome dancer and forces anyone in the house to dance whenever he hears music.
-Thurston can count higher than most 5 year olds. (sadly only a few people can understand his words, but trust me, his number skills are surprisingly good!)
-he is the happiest and most beautiful person I know and makes everybody we know happy just by smiling at them.

So there it is, I’ve done my job and now at least the pros and cons list is evened out!!
Thanks for reading
Hanj x

What a Difference a Week Makes

I wrote the last blog in the midst of a sinus infection, a lack of sleep and a distinct lack of sunshine so it was a little bit on the grumpy side! Although the sun is yet to appear, the house is full of happiness and things are looking up!

We’ve had a couple of big appointments this week and for once, they went exactly as I hoped and I got really positive outcomes for Thurston. His Physiotherapy review showed that he is hitting all the targets that were set for him including a tiny little jump!! He even stepped over a series of miniature hurdles which was pretty impressive, maybe he will make the Olympics after all! Although he is making fantastic progress, he is getting pain in his right foot and has less of an arch there than in his left, so we are going back to the Podiatrist to see if anything can be done. The Physiotherapist has set up a meeting to hand him over to the Community Physio who will be around if he needs anything during his school life. Also, he is going to join a Pre school physio/speech therapy group over the Summer to try and prepare him for school. I couldn’t have asked for more really.

Today came the dreaded Feeding Clinic review. I have been taking Thurston to the Feeding Clinic since he was a baby and I find it really hard-going. The professionals there are very unapproachable and all talk amongst themselves, and honestly I don’t think they do a lot for us. Today, they discharged us into the care of the hospital Dietician until Thurston reaches the 9th percentile and is off of the specialist formula. He is still very underweight and lacking in nutrients, but only really needs a Dietician’s help, so I was ecstatic to hear that we would never be going back to Feeding Clinic. I probably skipped out of there, I was so happy! Since they had ‘cleverly’ scheduled this appointment at 12pm, Thurston missed his lunch so we took him to McDonald’s (which is recommended by the Dietician for the high fat & calorie content!). The little sneak swiped my pot of ketchup and dipped a chip. I watched him out of the corner of my eye so I didn’t spook him and he picked up the chip, span it round then ate it from dry end to ketchuppy end! Thurston is very anti-sticky food so I hope this is a step in the right direction, and he got a balloon as a reward!

This isn’t the 1st food revelation we had this week. I made a batch of vegan Blueberry Muffins for the family and left the plate out in the kitchen for any passing cake-lovers. Having seen Zeke take a muffin, Thurston decided to be brave and grab one too. He just walked around with it at first, and I thought he was only interested because of the little London bus cake cases my friend had given me. After a few minutes though, he took a big bite and went on to eat a third of one! I’m hoping this will lead the way to more cakes and treats. I’d better get experimenting in the kitchen. Next up, muesli bars!

As usual, Thurston is full of surprises and has recently switched from his favourite Cars 2 DVD to watching marathons of Peppa Pig episodes! I can’t say I enjoy Peppa Pig, but I am grateful for the change of subject. I must say though I am pleased with some of the adorable songs that Peppa has taught Thurston and enjoy being sung to while I do the housework! I thought that the songs were impressive until I realised that he had picked up some new vocabulary from Peppa Pig thanks to George Pig and his love of dinosaurs. Having planned a trip to the Zoo for the bank holiday weekend, I asked Thurston what animals we would see and his reply was “Tyrannosaurus Rex, Brontosaurus and Triceratops”!! I haven’t stopped making him say it ever since!

I wondered if he would be disappointed by the Zoo given that he was expecting to see Jurassic Park, but he was brilliant all day and didn’t cry once. We met some friends at the Zoo who were new to Thurston but he was very friendly and chatty and probably a bit of a show-off. He had great fun splashing in the muddy puddles and running after the peacocks. Just when I thought he was going to be difficult, we went into the Reptile House and saw lizards, crocodiles, tortoises and frogs. All of which, luckily, Thurston assumed to be dinosaurs. So according to him, when you ask what he saw at the Zoo, he saw “Tyrannosaurus Rex, Brontosaurus and Triceratops”.

My other sons are sat next to me as I type and have asked to be included in this blog. How could I say no?! So here are their achievements for the week. Zeke has been a superstar at school and was asked to stand up in assembly to show everybody his homemade game “Muppet Monopoly”. As for Louis, he single-handedly researched and planned our route to the Zoo and was a fantastic navigator.

I’m very lucky to have such weird and wonderful boys

Thanks for reading

Hanj x

Keep Fit

It’s been a couple of weeks since I last updated my blog mainly because I’m tired, and to be honest a bit run down. I’ve got under a blanket a couple of times with the intention of writing a new blog, but each time have ended up snoozing or succumbing to the Curb Your Enthusiasm boxset instead. I started to wonder yesterday if this makes me lazy, and I ran through my day in my head and realised how much exercise I had done just by maintaining Thurston all day.

Thurston isn’t particularly heavy, in fact he is on the 0.4th centile on all the growth charts, but there isn’t any element of his day that I don’t have to physically help him with. I pick him up over the stair gate in the morning, carry him downstairs, lift him to change his nappy, dress him, lay him down to drink his formula, put his shoes and coat on him, pick him up and put him in the buggy, push the buggy 30 minutes to nursery, lift him out, take his coat off, walk 30 minutes back again, lift him to put him in the car seat, lift him into his booster seat at the table, carry him up the stairs to bed, and then get up and down (or sometimes just up!) all night with him. It was only this week when I’ve been feeling tired that I realised that usually by the age of 2, I wouldn’t be doing 90% of these tasks for him anymore. It actually is quite physically tiring.

My first feelings were a bit despairing. If I’m this cream-crackered by lugging him around now, what will it feel like next year or the year after if he is still delayed developmentally? I can’t really expect my husband to take the brunt because he’s still recovering from his spinal surgery and I don’t want to risk him having any complications. I’m really not in the mood to nurse him back to health yet again!! I’ve just had to purchase Thurston a new 3-wheeler, pneumatic tyre pushchair because even the tired old buggy was feeling the strain. I’m a pretty tiny person, (4ft11in, very tiny) and so carrying Thurston at 3 years and 10 months is definitely getting tricky. When we are out and about, on the beach, or at the zoo, or even the school run, if he is walking I also have to keep up quite a speed so I can grab him at any moment so that he doesn’t head into the sea or walk out in front of a car. He doesn’t have the slightest sense of danger and so I have to provide that for him and be his protective bubble, which leaves little time for slumping on a bench drinking an iced tea. Thurston even loves to reinact dramatic moments for his own amusement which means that if he was to fall over, he would then throw himself to the ground several more times afterwards to relive it. I think it has something to do with sensory feedback but really it’s just another thing that scares me half to death every day!! There is more cardio and stretching at home too, where as well as the usual tasks, I can often be found underneath the sofa looking for lost dummies or removing the sofa covers and washing them because Thurston has wiped marmite sandwich all over them.

The second thing that came to mind was a feeling of outrage that I’m not slim and toned. Given the amount of lifting, stretching, walking and reaching down the back of the washing machine for missing toy cars I do on a daily basis, I ought to be a lot slimmer than I am. We eat pretty healthily as a family, I love cooking and cookbooks and cookery TV shows. I seem to gravitate towards anything gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan etc despite neither having allergies or being a vegetarian. So I definitely am clued up on food, yet there is a good stone and a half that just *will not* shift. It seems so unreasonable. I don’t even drink alcohol and I’ve completely given up chocolate, I’m such a goody-two-shoes! Yet, I don’t think you’d know it to look at me. Given my outrage, my 1st port of call was unsurprisingly Google, where I found some interesting scientific research about how sleep deprivation can cause your body to retain fat stores to use as energy. I’m fairly certain this explains it! The only problem is, there doesn’t seem to be a great deal I can do about it. This week alone, Thurston and I have pulled 2 all-nighters, and all the other nights, I have got up to see to him between 5-6 times. I seem to be caught in a viscious cycle; if I decrease the amount of food I eat, I will not be able to function. Yet, if I don’t change the way I eat, I am destined to stay apple shaped (at best!) until Thurston sleeps through, which at the moment feels like lightyears away.

In this situation, I have had to have a little word with myself and decided that I am going to stay as I am. I know I am eating well and that all of our meals are balanced and nutritious. I talk a lot about acceptance and loving people for being lovely people, so I need to try my best to direct some of that at myself. I’m not giving myself free-reign to scoff Kettle Chips and Ben & Jerry’s, but I think I am going to continue as I am with my home cooking, salads, fresh pasta and vegan muffins and just accept that this is the shape I am for now. If I was to be living on no sleep whilst drinking Slimfast instead of eating dinner, I’m not convinced my family would enjoy my grumpy company! Today I returned a small stash of Topshop purchases that had been sat in my bedroom with the tags on because I’d foolishly bought things to slim down to. I’ve got a nice giftcard now and I’m going to make sure I spend it on things I can actually wear. Right now. If I try and dress for my current shape, maybe I’ll be a bit happier in myself which will be beneficial to everybody!!

I’ve realised that while Thurston does a great job of keeping me fit and active, he does an even more amazing job of wearing me out to the point where I can’t remember my purse when I go shopping, or I smash my iPhone rushing to help him, and he seems to delight in keeping me up all night afterwards to recite entire episodes of Peppa Pig, including very enthusaistic snorting!

Thanks for reading

Hanj x