Breakfast…and other peanut butter related issues

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Breakfast is a regular source of argument in our house…I wonder if anyone else suffers from this…

I like a quick breakfast, get it over and done with and on to elevenses.  If I’m at home it has to be toast with butter.

The Turk however has a different approach, breakfast in Turkey is a mid-morning event which involves emptying the contents of your cupboards onto the table, lots of bread and dipping it into things.

Don’t get me wrong I’m a massive fan of a fry up or pancakes, but they’re a treat not a daily thing.  I feel frustrated at the process of preparation and sitting around the table for a lengthy breakfast on a daily basis.

The general content of our breakfast table is as follows:

Pekmez (mulberry molasses usually, it’s a Turkish thing we buy from the local store or bring back with us, or as I like to describe it: brown tasteless gunge);

Nutella (to be eaten with a spoon);
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White cheese (or other cheese if this is not available because mummy did the shopping and she buys cheddar)…(if you’re in Turkey replace “white cheese” with “five varieties of white cheese and one of stringy cheese”);

Tomatoes;

Cucumber;

Jam (minimum one variety);

Honey;

Peanut butter (three varieties, cheap smooth for the Turk; organic smooth for the boy; crunch for mummy).

This is the bare minimum and I’m sure that the Turk’s mum would freak out if she saw the lack of choice on our breakfast table.

I do wonder whether we really need 3 types of peanut butter…is this normal?  Does anyone else suffer through this?  Is it just a Turkish thing…?

 

Spending too much time together

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Looking back on my maternity leave, my husband and I were very fortunate, although technically allegedly the Turk was rennovating the house, we were both at home throughout my 14 months.  For the first six months I found this frustrating, we never saw him.  I felt so alone.  We would hear him a lot, he would shout up the stairs “why is the baby crying so much, have you fed him?” and I would throw something at him…it wasn’t great…

He worked so hard that at 10pm in the evening I would have to go and find him and beg him to stop work and come to spend some time with us.  Aside from missing out on valuable time with his baby I really needed some support and company.

After Christmas 2013 the momentum on the money pit lessened.  Our builders had disappeared with our money leaving us in an incomplete house so it was just the Turk working on the rennovation, he had lost a lot of motivation and so spent more time with us “preparing to do work on the house” and less time “actually doing work on the house”.  This meant that we spent a lot more time together as a family, admittedly mainly traipsing around DIY stores or in front of the computer trying to work out how to fix the toilet.

This is a good thing…or is it?

I have to say for us it really wasn’t.  I think we spent too much time together, we started to bicker, and pick at each other.  Of course I think every couple does this when you have a new baby and not enough sleep, but to do this more and more as the baby was settled and slept more is a bit strange.  Suddenly my tactics for enforcing naps were questioned, someone else had a view and wanted to try putting Jem down for a nap.  There were two of us there at every mealtime – great – you might think, but actually that’s two people arguing about how much the baby eats, how much is thrown on the floor, whose turn it is to get the water and who left the bib in the living room.

Since going back to work it’s hard to hand over control, but I’ve had to let go.  We still try and have our evening meal all together and we have our weekends, but actually there’s a lot to be said for spending a little less time together.  It means we seem to bicker less, and we actually each have something different to talk about during mealtimes as we haven’t spent all day doing the same thing.  Yes we argue about how many nights out I really need, and why the housework isn’t progressing quite as well as I’d like, but I think we each now have a better understanding of the role of the person at home and give each other a little more slack than we might have done before.

Poonami and adventures with water

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It is strange that prior to having a child it wouldn’t have occurred to me to speak to complete strangers about toilet habits, but that’s all changed…well in respect of the boy in any event.  The big saga of poo started at around 5 months when we took Jem to Turkey for 3 weeks (brave you say?…yes, I know!)  For some reason the boy decided that poo was no longer necessary, I was still exclusively bf at this point, so it was a bit strange, as bf mothers will know that breast milk can lead to rather a lot of poo.  Despite being freezing cold the entire time we were there (no I didn’t take a coat for either of us, but I did take a selection of t-shirts, vests and shorts…it’s Turkey, it’s supposed to be hot) we thought it might be dehydration so decided to try and feed him water.  Jem has never really taken to a bottle after a bout of bottle refusal at around 3 months so we resorted to warm water from a turkish tea glass, which worked pretty well in terms of drinking but had no effect on getting things moving.  Despite my intention not to start weaning until we returned to the UK I resorted to fresh figs.  These went down a treat…but still no movement.

Anyway naturally what I should have done was simply take him to an inconvenient location, literally seconds after sitting down to my kofte in a restaurant in a busy shopping centre the poonami arrived.  I’m not going to lie, it was not my finest moment.  The whole situation ended with me throwing his entire outfit in the bin, using up a whole bag of wet wipes as I frantically cleaned poo from legs, back and hands, and screaming for the Turk to come and help me out in the ladies room…

You’d think that this would teach me a lesson, but no…in the entire 3 weeks Jem only emptied himself 3 times while we were away…all 3 times we were in the same blooming shopping centre…

 

Post-script:

We recently returned to Turkey for another three weeks.  Jem only had one poonami.  It was in a shopping centre #motherhoodfail

Sleep…the shock

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I’ve always loved sleep, I could literally sleep 23 hours a day and be happy (I would wake for food of course…)

I knew that sleep would be an issue with a young baby, but I didn’t think it would be too bad.  My biggest worry was the Turk…he also likes his sleep.  Given that on one occasion when I heard footsteps in our flat and tried to wake him up (and it took a LOT to wake him up) he turned into a monster who found it quite unreasonable to have to wake up for a burglar and said “what is it you think I’m going to do if it is a burglar…” (note: it wasn’t a burglar, it was our upstairs neighbour creeping around her own flat…) so I was a tad concerned that (a) he might not get woken up by the baby when it was his turn; (b) that he would get angry at the baby waking him up.

I needn’t have worried.

He managed to sleep through any noise the baby or I made except on 3 extreme occasions…

I didn’t do so well, the first day he was born he slept a lot so we napped together, and that first night apart from mad screaming to try and feed he slept pretty well too, admittedly with me on my hospital bed (of course with mandatory nighttime leakage…this was to become my friend over the coming months).  Our first night at home he slept a straight 6 hours (not a good thing…but lovely) before he fell into his routine…

Routine = good…?

No, Jem’s routine was to nap after every feed for about 20-30 minutes.  Only on me, he would wake as soon as he was put down (which I appreciate is very very common).  We would all go to bed at around half 10, I would sit up with the baby feeding and crying until 2am, when he generally fell asleep for 2 hours…then it would all start again for the day.

It was hard, much harder than I expected.

With hindsight I should have been firmer, but I had no confidence.  The baby really didn’t need feeding every time he cried, he needed sleep.  He was very tired.  I was very tired…I cried a LOT.

At some point during the first week or so I was waiting for the 2am sleep, but he didn’t go down…it took another hour.  I felt horrendous.

During the fourth week I attempted sleeping sat up on the sofa with the baby on my shoulder (I know how dangerous this is, but I was desperate, I literally hadn’t slept more than 2 hours in one go and that was only once a day!) which worked a little better, he slept longer and I could doze a bit, but it wasn’t great for my back and I was scared something might happen to him.

If I could go back and speak to myself at that time I would say “it will get a lot better…then a lot worse…then better again”.  In fact I feel slightly guilty that this is the advice I give to anyone with a new baby who asks me for advice, it sounds a bit negative, but I think if you’re really down it helps to know!

I would also send Jem out with someone (literally anyone I could find, the Turk wasn’t around to do it and was pretty unwilling when he was) for an hour or two a day and give myself strict instructions to nap during that time.  It would have done us both a massive amount of good, I didn’t appreciate at the time how much sleep a baby would need or should have.  I assumed if they were tired they would sleep…no?!

Where do you stand on cards?

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The Turk and I disagree when it comes to cards, they’re not a big thing in Turkey and apparently he never had one until he came to the UK.  I on the other had have been inundated with cards since I was a child, birthday, Christmas, driving tests, exams…etc.  I was made to send thank you cards for every single gift and even as an adult my mum reminds me (my current task on her to do list is to send a thank you for my baby’s Easter eggs).  I popped out to by a first birthday card earlier this year and was met by a stall of Easter cards, a new one even for me.

The culmination of our different opinions on cards has resulted in an example of each extreme this year, the first was my Mothers day card, which I reminded the Turk about on at least 15 occasions, he did buy one but left it at home for the weekend, didn’t write on it until a week later, but it was good when it arrived!  The other extreme was in my mad purchase of 1st birthday cards for our NCT group I accidentally bought Jem a first birthday card, it was good, but I had forgotten that I had already bought him one earlier in the year…one which was much better…so he has ended up with two.

Somewhere in this house or my parent’s I have hundreds of cards I have been unable to throw away but will never look at again, hence the Turk’s view that they are a complete waste of time.  But looking through my son’s first birthday cards I just know that I will treasure them and I feel there is a place for cards in our life, and as they were a particularly fabulous bunch I thought I would share just a few with you:

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This is a Marks & Spencer card, I love the way it stands, with a fold effect rather than a traditional opening

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This is a unique card, handmade by my parents – isn’t it a fab keepsake!

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Aww I love this card, from the front it has a great picture & unusual fold and then opens out into a huge poster with hugging arms! I plan to hang it on the nursery wall

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These last 3 images are the same card which opens out into a keepsake book with space for photo and notes, it’s really unusual and I will love looking back on it

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The danger of digital…

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Back in the day you took 24 photos (more if you had a big film) took them to Boots, got back about 6 decent pictures, and treasured them.  I had photo albums and would take my time putting the pictures in and then intermittently flick back through to look at hte comments I had put next to them.

Not any more…

Now we take hundreds.  To be fair my dad has always taken hundreds, he has albums and albums of me when I was a child.  Again all lovingly stuck into albums.

This has become a particular issue for me since I got my cats, I just couldn’t stop taking pictures of them, the Turk would moan about me clogging up the hard drive with 7 photos of the cats laying in bed every day…3 years on and I still do it…only now I also take photos of the boy too.  He just does so many things, and you never capture it in the first picture so I always take several.

In fact I keep handy our camera and camcorder just to be on the safe side…and the tablet (although it takes a rubbish picture)…and of course our phone is always lying around…

Essentially I seem to take hundreds of pictures a week in an effort to capture that special moment.  However, when I get them onto the computer I find I can’t delete any of them.  They’re all so special, yes there are the ones when he’s posing just right, but the one a few seconds earlier he’s got my Grandma’s double chin, and the one after you can see his tongue…they’re all such special moments that I don’t want to lose any of them.

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I find that the most precious pictures aren’t the ones that are planned, but the ones that are unexpected, and I worry that I’ll never get them back, it feels like deleting a moment of his life…is that silly?

Ah well, I think I must do something to tame the photo-addiction…I’ve cut back on my cat photos…

Easter 2014 232

 

Timekeeping…

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Arghhhhhhhhhh.

Ok now I admit I’m a bit obsessed about timekeeping, it comes from my parents, they are completely obsessed (which drives me equally potty).  I once turned up to an interview 90 minutes early and am frequently finding myself trying to kill time whilst I wait an inordinate amount of time for appointments.

Since having a baby I have become a lot more laid back about time, I used to hate being late but have come to accept that it’s something you have to live with once you are trying to dress a baby/change nappy/get vaguely clean clothes on yourself/pack mahoosive bag of all the essentials to take with you etc.

However, the Turk has never been great at timekeeping, we joke that he runs on Turkish time (but in actual fact if this were true he’d be two hours early for everything).  In over 10 years of being together he has only been on time once, for our wedding (and that was due to some organisation by my mother, she got the entire Turkish clan and most of the guests there unbelievably early, an impressive achievement).  Even when I was in labour he didn’t show up until the early afternoon, I spent most of the morning reassuring the midwife that I did actually have a husband, he did know I was in labour and that he would be along in just a minute (ha ha ha, I can laugh about it in hindsight…just about).

He’s had several watches as gifts but this doesn’t seem to help the situation.  I assumed that following the baby he would become slightly more reliable.  His job is to renovate our house, which isn’t something that requires a particular focus on time, but I have noticed that tasks seem to take a disproportionate amount of time.  “Working in the garden until tea time” often finds him returning home just as I’m putting Jem to bed 2 hours after we’ve eaten.  No amount of warnings or countdowns seem to speed up the process.  This is amusing perhaps from the outside, but when you have a child who needs constant occupation and can’t be left on the floor for fear he’ll eat the screws/screwdrivers/cat food/white spirit laying around whilst the Turk is “mid-renovation” it makes preparing any food a big issue, hence my desire to have the Turk around to entertain the boy while I cook.

Whilst the greatness of the Turks lateness does drive me slowly insane, it also makes me wonder if the Turklish boy we’ve created will actually turn out to be a perfect mix of each…the Goldilocks of timekeeping perhaps.

The Journey to “Having it all” part 1, background & preparation

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The background

I’m going to try and keep a mini-diary of my return to work.  I am attempting what many see as “having it all”…although I think the truer description is perhaps “not really having anything properly”.  In short after 14 months maternity leave I am returning to work, full time.  I will compress hours so attempt to work only 8 hours a day (which involves being out of the house between 7.30am and 6pm) for 9 days and have the 10th day off.

This fortnightly day off has arisen as a result of my initial application for flexible working being refused.  I am not allowed to work from home on a regular basis, and if I wanted to compress even further and have one day a week off I would face not seeing the boy at all for four days a week.

This has not been a difficult decision.  I was more than ready to return to work.  Truth be told the final few months have led to me feeling rather depressed.  I enjoy working, part of me thrives on the stress and the whinging about it.  Whilst I have been on mat leave I have socialised little and really struggled with the lack of interaction with my friends.  Whilst I have met other friends with babies regularly, I started to shun this as what I really craved was baby free time.  In the whole 14 months I can count the instances I have been baby free on 2 hands, and the majority of these occasions were for voluntary work for a couple of hours in the evening.

We are in the fortunate position that the Turk hasn’t had a “proper job” since being made redundant over 2 years ago.  Whilst he wasn’t the most hands on Dad over the past year (particularly the first 6 months when we barely saw him as he was working over 12 hours a day on the house).  Jobs that he could apply for seem to pay significantly less than they used to and certainly it would mean that he was working effectively just to pay for nursery.  Given he hates doing what he used to do it seemed an obvious decision.

The plan

I am a domestic goddess…

I am a supermum…

I can handle ANYTHING….

This is my plan:

6.30 I will wake, shower, dress (in clothes and jewellery I sorted out the night before)

7.00 The boy and Turk will wake, dress and meet me downstairs for…

7.15 joint breakfast before I head out to work

lunch for me I sort out the night before but the Turk sorts out the boy and himself (unless there are leftovers)

6.00 I come home to dinner on the table (prepared by me the night before with minimal work for the Turk, although Wednesdays the Turk will make a simple dinner so I can have an evening off) and we all eat together

7.00 bathtime

7.30 bed

8.00 I cook and prepare the meal for tomorrow night, my lunch, plan my outfit, drink tea, Tweet…blog…crochet…sew….erm yeah, maybe a tad optimistic!

I have a big spreadsheet for planning meals (close observers of Silent Sunday saw this in progress) so I can plan meals 6 weeks in advance and the Turk will look at this to do the weekly shop.

 

Once a fortnight we will have “fortnightly family fun day” usually on a Friday…which will be extra exciting because it will be 4 Fs!  So far we have rarely done anything interesting as a family.  Interesting things cost money which has been tight, and time, which has been guilt ridden as the Turk has to spend the majority of our days “working” on the house.  One of the problems with us both being off “normal” working hours is the lack of fun time.  It sounds like we would have more time together but in reality without a weekend each day just merges into the next.  There is nothing to look forward to and nothing to make an effort for, I am hoping that work will change this.

In addition to this I have grand plans for a beauty regime, I am determined to wear every single item in my wardrobe (and if not I am getting rid of it) as I make the most of all the clothes I have gazed longingly at whilst pregnant or recovering.  I am looking forward to having a reason to leave the house and justification for nail varnish and make up.

There are some things which aren’t quite so organised, we have the following questions (among others) still up for discussion:

  • Cleaning and other housework – seems that this will all be down to the Turk but this seems a bit unfair.  It might work if he can manage to do it whilst looking after the boy.
  • Decorating and other remaining building work – other than doing this in 45 minutes a day whilst the boy naps it seems we might need to set some money aside each month to get someone in to help with this.  Whilst there is no longer anything super urgent there are still quite a few irritating things, for example it would be nice to have work surfaces in the kitchen and to be able to use the shower in the main bathroom…#justsaying
  • Tidying – the Turk doesn’t tend to tidy and I’m not sure I will be much inclined to in an evening.
  • Routine – I have said the Turk can set Jem’s routine, but he doesn’t really do routine himself, or timekeeping, so this could effect night sleeping…so who will then be the one to get up in the night?
  • Playgroups – I have prepared a list of activities the Turk can do with the boy, but he’s not really into organising things and I am slightly worried they might just spend all day sat at home…

Whilst I still think “having it all” is a myth I’m going to have a jolly good go at having all that our family wants!

 

Pick a Positive or Two – discovering things

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Inspired by the lovely Life on Planet T blog I am again joining in the Pick a Positive or Two linky. This week I am focusing on our home:

  1. We have a wonderful new bedroom suite…ok so it doesn’t quite fit as well as we hoped but it’s going to be fab once we’re settled into it.  It’s the first furniture we’ve had that isn’t flat pack, and having lived with second hand furniture and a glued together bed for a number of years it’s a huge achievement;
  2. All our walls are built – this has actually been the case for over six months, but I’m still pleased about it;
  3. Our house appears to be watertight (from the outside in…not yet from the inside in…);
  4. We are finally starting to see things coming together and now I’m back at work we’ve been able to buy nice new things to go in our house (see point 1, above);
  5. There is a good chance that the electricians may come and finish our electrics in the next week or so;
  6. Ditto plasterer;
  7. We’re very very lucky, we live in a 5 bedroom house, and our belongings fill it;
  8. Whatever you think about the grey and dismal area I live in our home is less than 5 minutes walk from the tube and less than 45 minutes directly to work;
  9. I love being able to pop out to the 3 local market stalls and buy our fruit and veg every day;
  10. We live near 2 of the best Turkish restaurants in London (important when you’re married to the Turk).

Counting our many blessings, particularly knowing how many are living in appalling conditions both at home and abroad.