In recent weeks, I have seen Monster go from strength to strength and it is interesting watching them learn and how quickly they pick up things, it reminds me of how long it takes adults to learn. I complete at least one course or qualification per year and even I am noticing that it is not as simple to retain information as it once was.

There is one thing I have found consistent over the last year and that is the growth patterns of Monster and the money it costs. Ok, I admit, I like buying toddler clothing, and toys, and, well anything I can find an excuse to justify that I might like, but of course is really for Monster. Not to mention the items I find myself hiding at my mother’s so Jack doesn’t find out.

Trousers seem to be the quickest item of clothing that needs to be changed. Luckily, we are at that time of year where trousers can be just long shorts, but overall they seem to be the item that needs to be replaced first. Also, Monster is now reaching that point where their growth has stabilised, at last! Well until they have a spontaneous growth spurt.

Even though Monster was a petite baby, they have grown to be very long and skinny which is fine, but when replacing a pair of trousers, the next size up means that the leg length works but, then there is a massive gap around the waist, and if the trousers have a cord, you cannot put them to tighten them because the cord is a choking hazard, they are just there for decoration.

Brushing teeth

Monster is a rather determined character, I might have said this once or twice before. At fourteen months, they have decided that they will only brush their teeth, no one else. Granted this has been so for several months, ever since Monster could grasp things, but I now understand when people say that you can ruin a toddlers’ day by asking them to put shoes on. I ruin my toddler’s day by wrestling their toothbrush out of their hands.

And they are really strong hands!

Monster see Monster do and what does this thing on your head do?

I feel that nothing is your own when you have a child, for example, Jack and I both wear Bluetooth headsets when listening to music, they are actually the same headsets called Mpow Cheetah and can be found on Amazon.

I foolishly left mine on a low surface the other day, and Monster grabbed it within seconds. I turned around to see that in those same seconds, Monster has fitted it perfectly to their head with the earbuds in place.

Monster then proceeded to bob their head to music, even though nothing was playing.

iSwim!

Monster is starting to walk and like most parents I am hoping it is when I am around to see it for the first time. Even though Monster lacks the required foot coordination and balance (well I say that, I think they do know how to walk, they will just do it when they want to), Monster is a very good swimmer, a little too good in fact. As soon as they see the water, they are flapping their arms and legs around like a fish out of water – excuse the pun. Complete with water wings, all I need to do now is ensure that my hand is in the water beneath Monster as they swim along, just in case they run out of steam and need to rest, but look at the post I put on Facebook, I don’t think there is any issue with their water developments. Though I need to ensure that both armbands are blown up to the same inflation, otherwise Monster swims down on one side and spirals – which can be quite amusing at times.

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Let me put that away for you…even though you are playing with it.

We felt the need to seek some additional child care due to our recent change in jobs. This process was more difficult than I expected as most nurseries finish at 18:30, and the earliest I get home is 19:00, not to mention Jack’s hours are all over the place. My mother normally fills in the gaps but some weeks we could be looking at Monster being with her for four days. When dealing with an over-energetic (happy) child, this can be a bit too much, for anyone really.

We think we may have found someone who is perfect. They have a child who is has a very similar personality to Monster and they all seem to get along really well.

Lately I have been teaching Monster to put their toys away before bed, not only does it promote good behaviour (hopefully), but also it increases the ‘quiet time’ Jack and I have together in the evening. Well I think Monster was a little confused the other day as they began putting the toys away around the childminder’s house, which sparked confusion with the childminder’s toddler. Monster would put the toys away and the childminder’s toddler would take them back out again.

It kept them occupied for all of ….. 10 minutes.

“Would you like your drink?” “No!” *Pushes flask away with hand*

On the same topic, when Monster was going through the settling in sessions with the childminder, she asked Monster if they wanted some of their drink, well Monster was not exactly in the happiest moods that day and quite bluntly told her ‘No’. Keep in mind that Monster has only said the odd word, and as above with the working, it is on their terms.

Finally, I am starting to think that children nowadays have short attention spans, or perhaps we just give them too many over cognitive development, activity toys?

I regularly go to the charity shops to find toys, it is something my sister-in-law also does. While it is good on the purse, on the flip side, it also means you buy more. I have limited it down to one-two toys per month and ensure that one is educational, but the other is fun. For example, we went to a wildlife park recently and so I bought Monster a cuddly toy lemur (further detail on that comical day are to follow in another post). Did Monster really need the lemur, no of course not, so I suppose it is a mixture of unnecessary buying and toys nowadays which are created with the aim to do everything.

Additionally, the question can also be asked, do we push our children too far, particularly with technology related toys?

If you look at any toy, the description on the box will focus on particular developmental areas. I think that many toys are now trying to concentrate on multiple areas so you buy fewer, not to mention the competitive edge between the toy companies. While this sounds economical from a practicality aspect, does this mean that we are pushing children to learn certain things too early, or pushing them to learn quicker? As a reflex, if a child learns too quickly, then where does it stop, and does this mean that we, and the toy companies, are inadvertently making our children unhappy and constantly needing more items to keep their attention spans active? This in turn rules out the theory of needing few toys.

A very contradictory thought process, but then again so is the subject matter. I would be interested to hear other opinions on this. Overall, where toys are concerned, do we go too far nowadays?

Anyone who has a Monster knows that when you are unwell and the child is also unwell that you just have to suck it up and carry on. There is no other way around it. A few weeks ago we took Monster to their first family Easter egg hunt. Clearly someone had been ill because several days after many family members came down with a sickness bug. This sickness bug had been doing the rounds in the area the Easter egg hunt had taken place, there were even notices displayed in the surrounding surgeries about how bad it was.

The first member of the household to come down with this dreaded bug was Monster, given that Monster has a good immune system, it was interesting to see them get ill first. Then it was me and finally Jack which was even more surprising given that Jack has the constitution of a rhino, and he had it worse than all of the family members affected.

As a result, our brand-new kitchen sink was christened several times, as we couldn’t get upstairs quick enough, and we were a household of unwell for a week.

A further note is that Monster did develop a rash, it was not ‘the rash’ that we all must be aware of, it was a viral infection due to being ill. A very reassuring sign is when you gently spread the skin and the rash disappears or of course, press a tumbler glass over the affected area.

Another skill a parent picks up is the art of distraction, especially when children are becoming mobile and are ill at the same time. You continuously baby proof and keep the dangerous objects out of their way and it is typical that a child can be surrounded with the world of toys but they would rather go and play with a plug socket instead.

In the kitchen, Monster’s food was kept in a cupboard which was accessible, so now that they are mobile, we knew that something had to be done. In retrospect it was conflicting making it Monster’s cupboard with said child knowing full well their food and snacks were in there and then being told they cannot go near it.

The cupboard in question is short with two large doors at the front and a draw on the top. Monster can easily open cupboard doors and take things out we spent most of our time putting the contents back in as well as there being a never-ending sea of ‘Nos’! Therefore, a few weekends ago, I emptied the cupboard and put the food into our kitchen cupboards and refilled the cupboard with Monster’s toys.

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This worked in two ways; firstly, it meant that Monster did not run the risk of picking up glass jars of food and dropping them, and secondly, Monster could get the toys out of the cupboard any time they wanted, and it meant that the ‘restricted section’ of the kitchen (where the cooker is etc) was easier to maintain and keep Monster out of because they were distracted.

Naturally as they were now allowed to go into the cupboard the novelty wore off quickly and now they don’t go near it. They are just spending the time trying to find out where mummy hid the food.

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Another point that I have learnt since Monster has been more mobile is their pursuit of more independence. So I try and get them involved as much as possible which is useful when trying to clean and do the dreaded household chores. Needless to say that distraction and diversion are your best friends when having a child. Some also say that negotiation is a friend but I choose to believe in compromise. Monster is crafty and the last thing I want is them to think they can outsmart Mummy and Daddy.

Lastly, I thought I would share another toy to make it on the most wanted hit list. The Monster obscure toy of the month goes to a Kitten and its carrier.

While it makes a nice addition to the interesting toy collection, the sounds it makes it literally like a cat is being strangled. It does have the educational aspect as they all do, because children cannot have toys these days it seems without numbers or the alphabet included as standard. This toy did make a good conversation piece at work and a colleague lunch recently, as the toy was delivered to my workplace, it meant we all got to test it out before hand, so by the time Monster had the toy is was…. Well…. second hand.

On the flipside, a task that I am gaining more gratification out of is the VW Beetle ‘ride-on’ that we acquired. It was in need of a paint job, but very good for its age.

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Jack primed the body, the colours were picked and now we are in the process of painting it and it is looking good I must say. I have even ordered personalised number plates for it and some VW badges as the finishing touches. Fingers crossed Monster likes they end result, they are already having fun rolling it across the floor when Mummy is trying to masking tape it up.

Watch this space for more updates.

A few days after Monster turned one, the sun was shining and the wind levels were low so this meant the UK warm weather had begun. There was a high chance that it would be over in 48 hours so I took the opportunity to try Monster in Charlton lido which is my regular swimming haunt.

I have reservations taking a one year old to a lido at any time of year, irrelevant of the weather there are other risks to consider. For example, just because the weather is overcast, one can still get seriously sunburnt.

Like most swimmers, when I see someone enter the lido with a small child I am often prepared for screams, the water is after all much colder than indoor pools, but Monster gets frustrated with the indoor temperatures so I thought I would give it a try with the scope to come out of the water if it was too much.

My usual regime for this time of year (being an outdoor swimmer all year round), is to firstly check the UV rays and the outdoor temperature and I can dress and apply sunscreen accordingly.

I am olive skinned and Monster is blonde, but it looks like they may have the Foxhall skin, even if that is the case any outdoor activity demands the use of a waterproof respectable factor sunscreen. I use Ultrasun but it does contain alcohol, so I splashed out (excuse the pun) on a children’s brand which was non greasy, kind to eyes in case it runs, waterproof and a high factor. Whether you are olive skinned or not, you need to be protected from the sun’s rays, burning is not an option nowadays (especially if you are a Monster) and the water provides double exposure to the sun. By late summer I am always a lovely shade of brown, with swimsuit tan marks, which are hilarious but at least my skin is protected.

Given that Monster is nearly swimming by themselves, they are still not part taking in the level of activity needed to keep themselves warm in a lido, so the next step to consider is insulation.

Being a former Speedo tester, I am very particular as to what constitutes outdoor and indoor swimsuits. It is a personal preference but a normal indoor swimsuit is a one piece for a woman, and shorts or trunks (depending upon what country you are in) for men. For children this is the same.

For outdoor swimwear, you can then add full length sleeves or the zip up the front jobbies which are UV protected. For adults this is similar but we can wear rash vests and it has to be really cold before I will wear one as I like the freedom to move and I like feeling the rain on the back of my neck.

Speaking of the back of the neck, make sure this area as well as the ears are covered in sunscreen.

I dressed Monster in a long sleeved swim top and then a zip up the front long limbed suit over the top for double insulation. It was not insulated to wetsuit standard but it did the job. I am not one to become dependent on thick layers in the pool, if you can’t take the cold, don’t swim in it or gradually build yourself up.

To finish off, the outdoor suit came with a cap which Monster was determined not to keep on, as well as the arm bands which Monster is slowly getting used to.

A picture and link to the outdoor suit can be seen below and purchased from Amazon.

When we were finally dressed, which was a marathon in itself, I took Monster into the water. Normally I am fully kitted up in the lido, but as I was being a guide, I left the swim cap and goggles at home.

Before getting changed we stood at the front of the pool so I could see Monster’s reaction to this big bowl of water. As there were no adverse reactions I thought it was safe to proceed, my theory was correct as Monster was continuously intrigued the closer we got to the water. When we entered the water, the usual pre-dip excitement turned to uncertainty, but there were no tears, and after a few cuddles, Monster became animated and the arms and legs were going in every direction along with giggles and loud noises of excitement – which is the usual reaction to water.

By this time all eyes were on us. I was ‘that’ mother bringing a young child to the lido.

I did my usual temperature checks every few minutes by testing Monster’s back and neck. They are also very good in the sense that Monster cuddles into me if they get cold, which then results in my temperature dropping. When Monster’s temperature became consistently cooler I called an end to the session.

Not bad around 20-25 minutes.

Monster and I both have towelling robes with hoods, they are worth their weight in gold as a parent, child or swimmer. ‎My towel is a DryRobe (a favourite amongst long distance, outdoor swimmers and tri-athletes) and Monster has an over the head towelling poncho with the Marvel characters on (Monster is a fan of Captain America). I often pack additional towels but when we go swimming as soon as we are in the changing rooms I make sure Monster is bundled up I then put my DryRobe on the floor (if there is not a changing bench) and give them something to play with. I quickly get myself dressed and then get Monster dressed. By that point their temperature is nice and stable and so they don’t mind the few second of coldness while getting dressed.

Above are images and linked to the towelling robes Monster and I have which can also be purchased from online outlets such as Amazon.

If there is one thing I have learnt is that when you are wet your temperature can fluctuate in seconds, so after swimming it is always good to have warm clothing. For Monster I made sure the post swimming clothing consisted of an onesie and fleece jacket.

Since then Monster has successfully swum by themselves with arm bands which is great considering they are not even 13 months yet – proving that if you tap into swimming early you will most likely avoid stress further down the line…

…However watch this space!

Monster’s first birthday marked an impressive milestone for us all as a family.

As with newborn preparation, the budget for a first birthday is how you make it. It can cost as much or a little as desired and we decided that given it was Monster’s first birthday, they would not know what a party was, nor would they comprehend the presents and the attention, so we thought we would make life easy and have an open-house barbecue for family and friends.

What seemed to be a good and low budget idea did go a little out of hand. As we have just had a new fancy pants kitchen installed, we did not want to hang any banners or place anything on the walls, so instead I bought some inflatable animals.

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Quite a few animals in fact.

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Of course it was cheaper to go with the party pack rather than buy the items individually, so for under £10 on Amazon I picked up a pack containing a safari animal themed table cloth, napkins, paper plates, balloons and so on. I thought that eight balloons was not enough so I bought extra, then I must have forgot because I bought some more…. 20 more in fact, so in total there were 36 balloons.

I thought one banner would be fine but I must have pressed the button twice on the Amazon check-out because I ended up with two 2 metre banners.

Jack made his feelings clear on the subject that this was not a party and if there were lots of decorations then he would be most displeased. So I drew a line against the helium tank and oversized balloons.

The open-house BBQ was on the Saturday so I presented Monster with their presents prior to this and two inflatable animals on the previous morning along with some balloons.

Taking Jack’s feelings into consideration, I did not inflate all of the animals I ordered, some have still yet to be delivered so if anyone wants an inflatable monkey and lion, please let me know. However, my cunning ability of streamlining the inflatables did not work as I hoped as randomly I kept hearing from downstairs:

“More balloons – I thought you were in here exercising, not blowing up more balloons!”

“There is an inflatable parrot in the kitchen roll holder – this has gone too far.”

“Why is there an inflatable fish in the kitchen sink?”

My response to the last one was “It’s a fish. It needs to be in water.”

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The inflatable clown fish relocated to the bathroom which amused people later on in the day.

In the morning, I picked up my mother and then came back via the high street to pick up the cake we had ordered. Many asked why we had a cake made for a one year old. Well Jack and I both work unpredictable and sometimes unsociable hours, he works more locally to our house and I work in the city, any spare time we have is spent on normal household and domestic chores, looking after Monster and any hobbies/ventures we are involved in, so if one of us was going to make the cake, it would probably be a hash job pieced together in a disastrous state.

We tend to live each day as if it is our last and we wanted Monster to have a special day irrelevant of the age.

Of course the cake was not going to be straight forward. We were hoping a friend of Jack’s would do the cake, but they unfortunately had some grievances to deal with and so they were delayed and by the time they responded we had already booked the cake from Cakebox. We then tried to cancel the cake and Cakebox would not refund without the ’yellow slip’ even though the receipt was presented, which under UK legislation is your contract of sale and purchase. So we continued with the order as we were certain that no yellow slip had been received.

On the day of pick up, I went into the shop and the cake that we ordered (a custom monster in two shades of pink) happened to be iced in two shades of green. Given that life had been delivering me a lot of lemons lately, I was having memory troubles and while I thought it was supposed to be two shades of pink, I didn’t use my initiative this one time and double check with Jack like I should have. While this green specie of Monster cake looked excellent, Jack’s response was a little different:

“No, it should be pink. Right, I’m ringing them up.”

Oh dear, I thought, and I looked at mum who was echoing what I was thinking.

We got Monster out of the car, who was asleep by this point while Jack rand up Cakebox and spoke with them about it. Given it was a Saturday, I said there was no way I was going to drive back to the high street as I didn’t want to be stuck in traffic or to be away from Monster for too long.

After much deliberation, Jack and Cakebox agreed that they would deliver a new cake, one with pink icing, and take the green variation away. I personally would have been happy with a credit note, but I did remind Jack that it is not a good idea to antagonise those that prepare food.

While we were waiting I thought it would be a good time to go and change Monster into their birthday dress. The outfit that I got for Monster’s birthday was a custom made pullover and side tie up style covered in the most popular Marvel characters.

Unfortunately my anticipation of Monster having a growth spurt was squashed as it was too big for Monster, so I had to find something else and quick, but not before chasing Monster around the top floor of the house.

In the meantime the new cake arrived and the old one went back with the Cakebox representative… who preceded to have a heated discussion with Jack on the driveway as to why I took the cake if it was wrong in the first place and that they had no record of it being in pink, which Jack retorted with, reminding the gentleman that we did not receive a yellow slip, nor are we responsible for inaccurate detail taking from their staff.

I don’t think we will be going to our local Cakebox for a while, but on the upside the cake tasted amazing!

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Bounty who provide weekly updates to new and experienced parents, suggest that you keep a party for one year old to an hour and a half so that naps can be accounted for etc. Well Monster doesn’t sleep much during the day (20 minutes at most), and it was an open-house BBQ which went on for around seven hours.

All in all, everything went well, there wasn’t that much to clean up in the end and having a child does open you up to new experiences, for instance I never thought I would see my mother trying to split up a toddler fight between my Monster and my niece who is 10 months old. I also kept the inflatable animals for the upcoming years.

Brilliant birthday fun!

In our household April is the month or celebrations and elevated costs. Jack and I celebrated 3 years of marriage on 1 April; Monster celebrated their first birthday the following weekend and this weekend just gone it was also Jack’s birthday.

For our anniversary Jack and I went away for the weekend. We spent the first night at the renowned Crazy Bear hotel in Beaconsfield and the second at a Premier inn with easy access to the city – as if I don’t spend enough time there. But the aim of being accessible to the city was to gather some steampunk ideas and items from Camden market and then go to National Pillow Fight day, unfortunately there were conflicting locations and the organiser did not get back to me, so it will be put off that particular event again for another year (last year I was pregnant with Monster and thought it would be awkward trying to get people to hit me with a pillow).

Going back to the first night, as mentioned above, we spent it in the much sought after Beaconsfield Crazy Bear hotel. This hotel is attractive for many reasons, but I think many will agree with me that the main ‘allurements’ are the decedent rooms typically equipped with free standing bronze bath tubs. Clearly a lot of time (and money) has been spent on designing the right look for each room, and catering just for couples. The hotel is so aware of the impact their rooms have that fiends of ours who had stayed at the same hotel a week before, had to sign a photography waiver.

The practical way to book a room at one of the Crazy Bear hotels is through Groupon as the before discount price is very high. With our voucher, a glass of champagne on arrival, a bottle in the hotel room and all meals were included, but of course the choice would be limited to a set menu which one could understand.

However, before we even got to the room, we encountered an issue.

We had not printed off the voucher and because it had been paid for in November 2016, the Groupon had dropped down to the expired list under our orders, which means it was not accessible even though the hotel had confirmed the booking. The staff were insistent (as well being somewhat snooty) that they had to see the voucher or a print out. This sounds fair, but we are no different from the average human, we have jobs, a family and very little spare time, so we are going to forget things and putting the confirmation email instruction in text that does not stand out, does not help.

After an hour of trying to access our Groupon account, and because Groupon allow third parties to access their site, the security on my phone is always set higher, this was eventually disabled to try and gain access to a voucher which had clearly already been redeemed. The hotel offered us to log in to our accounts from their machines, as I deal with data privacy and information security that was a big fat NO! Every browse leaves footprint, no matter how ‘incognito’ you try to be. But they were insistent they had to see a voucher.

As I normally wear a red, black or blue hat, after a few hours of travelling, enduring the stress of being away from my little human for the weekend and feeling travel sick, my patience was wearing thin. The black hat was on and was about to be blown. So Jack had to moderate the situation.

We went to the bar and tried our accounts again, by this point we were approaching the hour and I was getting annoyed.

Surely they would have redeemed the voucher before we got here? Why can’t they ring up Groupon? These were the questions I felt compelled to ask, along with “Why is there taxidermy in here?”

In the end, as we could not access the expired vouchers, Jack showed the staff the screen and told them this is the best we could do, take it or leave it. I was happy to just leave by that point, I had well and truly had enough and the taxidermy was disturbing me greatly. In my mind it was the furthest thing from an aphrodisiac which being realistic, the theme of couples having private time was clearly a promotion angle for the hotel.

The staff accepted it and allowed us to check in, and got us set up in the room.

I will stress at this point, that we were happy to be held accountable for not printing off the voucher, but more thinking outside of the box from the Crazy Bear staff wouldn’t have gone a miss either – they did try but it was also made clear that we were not the first to forget vouchers and print outs.

The rooms are marketed as being of superior quality and design, and they have very high reviews, when I saw our room though, I was not overwhelmed. It was very small and it was obvious that the space had been utilised well, but it was small – also there wasn’t a bathroom door.

Jack and I have been together for many years, we have gone through a lot, including child birth, but we keep our toilet habits private! The only separation was a thick heavy weighted curtain, which was reasonably effective, but it was not a door.

It took me a while for my stress to go away, even to the point where I had a nap during the day, which is unheard of. We ventured down to dinner at around 19:00, and had a nice meal, surrounded by taxidermy.

The meals were light and of very good quality and as one would expect the terrace pool was nothing more than a large bath tub. Considering we had a bronze bath tub in our room, we did not see the point. We had a good evening though, and the facilities were comfortable. The lighting in the room was very Arabian and set an effective scene.

In the morning, we had a continental breakfast in the bar and restaurant area again, surrounded by taxidermy, and then we ventured off to the next hotel.

Would we visit Crazy Bear again, I think Jack would like to but whether I am just hard to please or the experience of the staff, the size of the room and the taxidermy put me off, I don’t know. I know that I am not bothered by staying in one of their hotels again.

Strangely enough I have not received a feedback form.

In addition of all of the frivolity, I have been training for SwimFor2k. This is an event of my creation, and is purely for those wishing to swim a challenge and raise money for their chosen charity their own way. It is not open for registration yet as I am just ironing out all of the kinks but I am expecting to open the event up to everyone in due course. The aim for 2017 is to swim 2k per charity. I have chosen two charities so the swim which means a 4k swim in hopefully under 2 hours – bearing in mind I am a tad rusty nowadays.

The proposed date was originally 14 April, but unexpected plans got in the way so the date has been pushed to later in the year. Providing the swim takes place in 2017 and the distance is swum in one go then that meets the requirement.

To find out more information, please visit the SwimFor website.

Monster is now 10 months old, and if there is one thing I have learnt it is that you can have an agenda in mind with how you are going to teach them certain things, but you can never anticipate their agenda to learn.

I have been an IT trainer for many years, even when my sole job has not been a trainer I have still managed to incorporate it into most of my roles. I heard a very apt description of this occupation recently and that is not only is it a privilege, but also you are always informed.

Part of the job is to find out the clients’ requirements. Once this is obtained, then you can effectively cater the session to meet their needs, which not only is time effective, it can also be cost effective. However, the greatest value of all means that the client gains the knowledge they require rather than unnecessary information.

With a baby, it is different as they cannot tell you their needs, it is up to you to interpret them.

One would think that there are certain core elements to a child’s development that they naturally pick up from their surroundings, and if they are lucky enough to have numerous toys to play with. The trick is to rotate the toys so they don’t become bored, and my monster suffers greatly with that, but at the same time try and meet their needs and make it fun.

If learning is fun then they will grasp what they need to quicker and more thoroughly. One thing I have learnt with Monster is that they are fuelled by belligerence (well I actually knew that before they were born), but they are also quite ambitious and want to learn everything now. So it is my job… no purpose… to help them get where they need to be, but also include the skills that they wouldn’t necessarily gravitate towards, but that are still essential.

This is where it can get tricky, as one can become over obsessed with teaching their children things that it becomes less fun, and as a result they can then become unenthusiastic to learn.

I found myself recently doing this and not necessarily scheduling every moment, but allotting time and rotating toys in a precise way, so Monster got the overall skillset I felt they needed. They soon lost enthusiasm and found that playing with doors and shutting me out of rooms was a far more valuable education, as well as lots of fun.  I then took a step back, realised what I was doing and adopted a more laid back approach. I was surprised with myself as the approach my husband and I have taken so far has been natural and easy going, so I couldn’t understand why I felt the need to schedule Monster’s learning.

Today Monster and I played a wooden alphabet game where you place the letters back in their respective holes, and Monster gets to the point where part of the board is complete, and then they pick it up and turn it upside down. In fact Monster did that with their dinner too, so it could have been an off day, but I had to stop myself from saying ‘no you have to fill in every gap’ and then it is finished. I had to remember that Monster is a baby and when babies grasp how to do something, they want to do it again and again. Even though it is ‘old hat’ to us, it is a whole new world for them.

So with that in mind, I may not be able to verbally grasp what Monster needs, but so long as we cover the basics and try and make it as fun as possible, then I do not think we can go wrong. Overall the most valuable point of all of this is time, and this is where Monster gets the best out of me. After all that’s all children want is our time.

When writing this, I was reminded of a Star Trek Voyager episode where Seven of Nine has taken on four former Borg children…. and she schedules fun with a military precise manner.

Admittedly, that was a long title, but it should tell you what the content of this blog  refers to.

It has been a massively busy start to the year, in fact the word ‘busy’ is an understatement, but I am hoping that once all of the grunt work (so to speak), is out of the way, then it will all be worth it.

I’ll end this post with some frivolity, so you will need to wait to hear about Twerky and the Unicorn (sounds like an Icelandic pop band), unless you want to scroll down to the end but then you will miss everything in between.

No Food Limits

This is something I started last year and so far the direction is sound, it is the productivity that is lacking somewhat. The aim is to educate people to eat what they want without impacting on their health. It sounds like this has been done many times before – the over profiting organisations that in essence don’t work. If they did, they would be out of business by now. For me, I am not out to make lots of money, No Food Limits is all about the education. When you have seen people die, or have life impacting health problems, which could have been avoided if a change in eating plan had taken place, then getting rich is the last thing on your mind.

SwimFor

Since having Monster, I find that my training has reduced by quite a bit. I also made the comment on Twitter earlier on in the year that given my decades of swimming experience, why not start my own events that in the interim, only cater for me. I have organised many charity events with work in the past, I shouldn’t have too many issues trying to pull this off.

SwimFor allows me to raise money for my own charities and swim the distances I want to swim in the desired locations. No more jelly babies in the Solent for me (it takes away the salt taste for those that don’t know).

The second event is due to take place in April 2017 and is called Swimfor2k. It was originally #swimfor2 and then we realised that this sent a completely different message.

Swimfor2k is also a little misleading in the sense that the swim distance is not 2k, it is 4k overall (2k per charity), but the idea is that next year when is says #swimfor3k, it will be 3k per charity.  Any charity can be picked, there won’t be a set charity per event, and the number of charities will not be limited. Providing the venue can cater the distance, the only requirements are to raise money for charity, swim the required distance and have a witness present to adjudicate. If you can take pictures even better but I am aware that many pools have a no photography rule.

I am hoping to open the event up next year to more people.

I can see Monster also getting into these as they get older. At present, I have limited Monster to swimming every other week as I am convinced that they are overdoing it. They get excited once they see the water and there is no stopping them. To the point where I have had to buy a float suit just to take the pressure off of my shoulders and back, but that is a different post entirely.

Kelly at swim

Dragon Realm Chronicles

I have been writing DRC for many years now and realised that I don’t have a website for the books to advertise them. Given that a few other authors have chosen to publish their books with similar names (naughty naughty), I thought it would be silly not to have the original series advertised under its very own domain, so now there is www.dragonrealmchronicles.com

The fourth book in the series is due out very soon.

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Dragon Realm Chronicles – Book 3 in the series

Here’s Twerky

‎Without further ado, my husband and I have been having great fun with Monster’s Christmas presents. Isn’t that what you are supposed to do when you have kids?!!?

‎The BeatsBelle (aka Twerky) is one of the bestselling toys on the market. The idea is to play music and dance so it gets aspiring little walkers on their feet and moving. At first glance, it does look like a twerking anime k-pop character which displays different colours on its body that could no doubt, if sped up, induce neighbourhood wise seizures.

It also has a voice recording system which replays in a chipmunk voice‎ to a beat. This feature has given my husband endless fun and as a result, Twerky has been nominated as his organisation’s new mascot.

Monster looks at Twerky awkwardly, like it doesn’t understand, but then again it’s not like they get to spend much time with the toy.

The Unicorn however is surprisingly effective, given that it was one of those 90% off Groupon jobbies. It lights up the room with effects of flashing stars and ‘z’, or the lights can be still. It has a calming baby planetarium effect which actually works. You can opt to have sound, but wisely I brought the version that did not contain sound. It has helped Monster sleep every night so far. Result!

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