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I think it’s about time I introduced you to a few of the other supporting cast members in this strange surreal stage-show that seems to be my life at the moment (I think I shall name it “Talking Bread People On Ice”). You’ve met me and you’ve met Kai, and you haven’t run away yet. Let’s see after this lot…

Introducing: my family. Who have all been given super-hero secret identities for the purpose of this narrative.

THE HUSBAND (a.k.a The World’s Most Patient Man)

DSCF2916Super Hero Powers: King of the random fact and endless movie trivia. Able to put up with wife’s irrational, slightly bi-polar behaviour and giant paddys without even a flicker of annoyance. To laugh and make-fun of aforementioned irrational, bi-polar behaviour thus defusing tense situations with ease (It is very hard to stay stroppy with someone calling you a “big head pixie wife” over and over again). In similar fashion has a unique ability to come up with new and interesting ways to make the Kai-ransaurus laugh – including such popular games as “Ninja Dad”, “Sock-Ear Dad” and singing and dancing to such self-penned classics as “Just A Little Nugget Of A Poo”.

Can magically produce cups of tea and treats at much needed moments. Champion Washer-Upper and ‘tidying’ in the form of putting things in giant neat piles.

Generally just a complete super-star. I’m still wondering quite what I did to deserve him and hoping very, very hard he doesn’t figure out his misfortune and do a runner anytime soon. I am currently having to share him with the love of his life his new HTC Hero phone but I think I’m safe as long as it doesn’t develop an app that cooks his tea.

Kryptonite Style Weaknesses: Colds, or illness of any sort. Anything breaking, especially something gadgety and electrical, is likely to bring on apocalyptic style melt-downs.

Super-Hero Accessories: Mobile Phone. Crisps.

Most Likely To Say: “Did I mention my phone can scan the night sky and tell you the constellation you’re looking at? No? Well it can” and “Do we have any snacks?”

 

THE MUM

DSCF2542Super Hero Powers: Green fingers able to grow vegetables of monumental size and deliciousness. Increasingly talented post-modern flower arranger. Spectacular ability to piss off the Christian Right at her local church with her ‘lifestyle’ choices, being both gay and a Christian and generally lovely and hard to dislike however much they try. I’m trying to encourage her to start a guerrilla flower arranging campaign and fill her church with phalic symbolism but she’s taking some persuading…

One of her greatest abilities is to have a busier social life then me and be out most of the time. Hence my longstanding and fulfilling relationship with ‘answering machine mom’ in her absence. Currently sailing the Med in an enormous boat, living it large, and being generally fabulous. The most empathic and caring woman I know. I love her and am so proud of her I could burst.

Kryptonite Style Weaknesses: Rampaging Badgers in her vegetable patch. Anything even vaguely sentimental or emotional likely to bring on fits of ‘leaking’ from the eye area.

Super-Hero Accessories: A pair of deadly, poison tipped secateurs. A rainbow fish window sticker. 

Most Likely To Say: “I’m sorry I’m not here right now. Please leave your message after the tone”.

 

THE STEP-MUM

DSCF3308Super Hero Powers: My mother’s lovely wife. Ability to spot dust and dirt with radar-like precision and attack it in on sight – she would put the Stepford Wives to shame with her tireless enthusiasm for housework. Michelin-star standard cook (I’m thinking of moving back home just for the cooking). Enjoys arguing for fun and has an impressive ability of making out she knows a lot about something when she actually doesn’t. Vicious competitive streak – don’t expect her to bail you out of jail in Monopoly. Has a tendency to fall fast asleep mid conversation and then wake up and join back in when you’re least expecting it.

Also the most generous, thoughtful woman I have ever met.

Kryptonite Style Weaknesses: Time. Having absolutely no concept of it what so ever. Thinking that a spare ten minutes is ample time to clean an already clean bathroom, paint a shed and have a shower. Currently battling with her arch-nemesis the evil PHD monster that eats up all of her time and attention. Oh and fluffy socks that leave bits on the carpet.

Super-Hero Accessories: A hoover. A slightly evil cat.

Most Likely To Say: “I’m working from home today” and “Do you want a coaster for that?”

 

THE DAD

5775_1196691005268_1468270467_30538510_7495257_nSuper Hero Powers: Extraordinary ability to be loud and command everyone’s attention, making everyone like him in an instant (especially old ladies).  Deserves special mention for being mostly responsible for my sense of humour (and thus this blog) having given me and my brother the very finest comedic education. Tireless campaigner for naughty children the world over – what this man doesn’t know about Governmental Children’s Legislation just isn’t worth knowing. Published author of several absolutely-not-boring-in-the-slightest but impressively influential textbooks.

Globe-trotter adventurer extraordinaire. Witty, brainy, unbelievably generous and warm hearted and deserving of several shiny certificates for bravery and coping skills. Has the ability to look EXACTLY like Captain Birdseye when he grows a beard. Has successfully fought off a mid-life crisis so far but I fear it is only a matter of time.

Open to offers (rich, successful, sane women only please – will be vetted by daughter).

Kryptonite Style Weaknesses: The recession and it’s spectacular timing, arriving as it did at a time when he is trying to sell two houses. Illness – which needs immediate treatment with sympathetic noises and a comic.

Super-Hero Accessories: A bum bag. A jaunty walking hat and shorts in all weathers.

Most Likey To Say:“Compare the Meerkat… dot com” and “It’s a Kai bear after all” (to the tune of “It’s a Small World”).

 

THE BROTHER

n514046766_2037215_4614311Super Hero Powers: World’s most devoted Uncle, ability to make Kai weak with excitement at merely the mention of his name. King of the argument, serial Devil’s advocate. Scarily clever and disciplined. World domination could quite easily be his if only he put his mind to it. Currently dabbling with being a young professional graduate after playing with being an unemployed bum for a while but not finding it to his liking. Does not yet own a Blackberry but, much like dad buying a sports car, I fear it is only a matter of time. DO NOT challenge him to an argument on any philosophical or religious topic. HE WILL WIN.

His hair should get a mention all of it’s own (probably counts as a side kick) given it’s amazing ability to resist all forms of grooming and being water repellent.

My partner in random humour. Still makes me laugh more than anyone else in the world. My best friend.

Kryptonite Style Weaknesses: Stupid ignorant people (same as me) who will never fail to bait him into an argument. A complete inability to concede a point or back down in a ‘discussion’. Taking his glasses off (no he’s not Superman – just can’t see a thing). An irrational fear of mime artists.

Super-Hero Accessories: A big cup of tea. A copy of Nietzsche “The Gay Science”.

Most Likely To Say:“Do you fancy a cuppa?”, “Did I ever tell you about the time I was relaxing in a Budapest Spa…” “YOU’RE WRONG! REALITY IS ONLY A MATTER OF PERCEPTION!” and “Yeah? You fight like a cow!” (I could think of about a million more but won’t).

 

So there we go. My family ladies and gentleman. They assure me they are all delighted to meet you.

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Howdy all. It’s been an eventful few days in our house. Kai started the beginning of last week very under the weather and bad tempered, lots of very cross crying, even less sleep than usual. He cried through the whole of Father’s Day meal, sobbed at playgroup, threw tantrums in his pushchair – was generally just delightful really. I put it down to teething as usual but Friday he started running a fever which by the night had spiked at 39 degrees C (that’s 102F for all my American readers…I’m sure there are hundreds of you). Slightly worrying. And were we imagining things or could we see the beginning of some spots? Ever so slightly more worrying.

I am, by nature, an incredibly neurotic mother trying desperately not to be and although tempted to phone an ambulance at the first sign of a sniffle am definitely getting better and stronger at fending off unnecessary panic. So I tried not to. Very hard. The temperature, although high, came down with cold flannels and Neurofen and sleep, and although the poor mite was obviously feeling grotty he wasn’t THAT ill, still managing to eat his body weight in food and continue his ongoing preoccupation with crawling round at high speed like a maniac and come up with new and interesting ways to maim himself. I’d heard that Chicken Pox had been doing the rounds and wondered vaguely whether this might be it. The spots didn’t LOOK like the pox though, very small and fine and showing no signs of blistering. So we decided to give it 24 hours, keep Kai at home, and see what happened.

Well, by Saturday teatime he was COVERED. Head, chest, tummy, back, arms, legs, face, hands, feet, bottom. You name it. Hundreds and hundreds of little red spots. And he still had a temperature.

 Shit.

What was it I was supposed to do? Press a cold glass against them? You try that with a wiggly baby! And did they ‘blanch’? WHAT DOES ‘BLANCH’ MEAN??! Ok I’m not panicking. Look Kai is fine, busy trying to eat the contents of the magazine rack. But this can’t be right.

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(Can you even SEE the spots on these photos?! They are there I promise)

So I resorted to my old reliable. NHS direct. The haven of all neurotic first time parents not quite neurotic enough to phone the doctor but not quite confident enough to do nothing. For my thousands of American readers (as I’m sure there are by now after this thrilling narrative), NHS direct is our National Health Service telephone helpline where you can phone for info and have your medical problems assessed over the phone and advice offered. Normally you get a call back fairly quickly but we are, of course, in the middle of Swine Flu hysteria so I was advised it would be slightly longer.

It was two hours. A tired nurse asked the same few questions over and over again. Has he got a headache? (asked three times) Does the light seem to hurt his eyes? (asked twice) Does he seem anymore sleepy than usual? (asked three times). I dutifully repeated my answers over and over, stressing that he seemed fine. He was just hot and spotty. The answer, in the end, was that it was probably a mild virus of some sort but as she couldn’t see the rash we should pop down the road to the chemist and have the pharmacist have a look at it. They’re good with rashes apparently.

It’s after teatime by now by the way so we get Kai in his PJs and trundle off down to Asda to see the Pharmacist. Who panicked. Now we’d been quite calm up till now really (well, Ant had) but the poor Pharmacist was not. Kai was a baby. Kai had a temperature. Kai had a rash. It was time to call the doctor he says, looking very worried. “I think it’s probably ok cause the rash blanches (??) but I can’t be sure – you need to phone now”.

Shit.Shit.

So we phone the doctor’s out of hours service from the car and repeat the same spot story that we must have told twenty times already down the phone. We are told we have been put in a triage system and will be be called back by a doctor. In two hours. But the rash is getting worse and now I’m really worried.

By this time it’s 7pm and Kai is shattered. We go home and put him to bed, only to phoned an hour later by the doctor saying we need to go up to the hospital. So we wake up a very bleary eyed and confused Kai (who seemed very excited by the prospect of a late night road trip and not at all poorly whatsoever) and off we go to the hospital.

Of course Kai was fine. The doctor took one look at him, checked him all over, reassured us it WASN’T meningitis and just a virus of some sort. Bless him, he was lovely. And yet there was that slight look in his eye. You know the one… the ‘neurotic parents overreacting as usual’ look. “But I didn’t panic!” I felt like shouting, “It was the Pharmacist! I just nonchalantly phoned a helpline! I’m not quite sure what happened…”

Home to bed and panic over. Except of course, baby bear is wired from all the excitement and won’t go back to sleep. Till 10.30pm. And then wanting to get up at 5am.

Urgh.

He’s perked up loads since then. Still covered in spots but temperature’s down. Just annoyed at being kept inside (which I think is probably the responsible thing to do till his spots have cleared up) so is even more destructive than usual.

Anyone fancy coming and rescuing me? I have Orios?!

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Ahhhh the good old days… Fair enough Kai would feed around the clock (despite telling enquiring relatives that he fed four-hourly to get them off my back- hahaha that was a good one!), and at the time felt incredibly draining, but looking back it was pure bliss. I’d get to sit on the sofa all day, watching dvd’s and catching up with all the tv series I had missed (think I got through two season’s of Desperate Housewives and House in the first couple of months!). Ant even set me up a little ‘nursing station’ with snacks and drinks, the remote control and a pile of books and would ‘wait’ on me, stuck as I was with a greedy baby attached to my boob. Kai may have been hungry ALL THE TIME but it was so easy. All I had to do was whip one out and voila – happy baby. Any time, any place. And I never had to worry about how much he was feeding (although of course I did being the neurotic first time mum that I was), or whether or not he was getting the right nutrients. Cause, you see, breastfeeding is magic like that. Give a baby unrestricted access to the the breast and they will feed exactly the amount they need to, with your body somehow adjusting the amount supplied and the nutritional content of the milk according to what your baby needs for optimum growth at that time. And my little guzzler on the 85th percentile was a pretty good endorsement for that.

But then of course the little monkey GREW UP didn’t he – suddenly I had to start thinking about weaning and food and life became a hell of a lot more complicated.

The first big decision was WHEN to wean Kai. In the end we decided to wait till Kai was 6 months to start whilst systematically fending off all our baby-rice wielding associates who assumed that by waiting we were starving him somehow – one look at him should have been enough to tell you that he was doing just fine on milk thank you very much. We didn’t really get all these supposed ‘signs’ that people talk about and as he’d always fed like a fiend and NEVER slept worth a damn anyway. When he upped his feeding in the odd week I just assumed it was a growth spurt and would pass, and it usually did (although his 3-4 month spurts did run together in one long crazy marathon feed).

By the time Kai got to six months old he was quite adept at picking up things offered to him and putting them in his mouth and rather suspicious/hostile of doing anything he couldn’t have control of (especially anything bottle or spoon shaped) so we decided to give a baby-led approach a try, throwing out the spoons and the pureed mush and giving him bits of proper food to chew on from the start.

Kai at 7 months old - enjoying his weaning adventures

Kai at 7 months old - enjoying his weaning adventures

This turned out to be the best decision we’d ever made. Kai loved it. And although it took him a while to start eating anything in any great quantity, by about 8-9 months old he was shovelling it down like you wouldn’t believe. And by ‘it’ I mean pretty much anything offered to him. Hard, soft, chewy, crunchy, slippery, teeny tiny pieces and great big chunks – Kai would have a crack at them all. A lot of practice meant chewing and swallowing skills came on fast – as did the ability to chase and ‘capture’ various sizes and shapes of food around his tray. It was just fab. Watching Kai eat a sandwich or delicately picking up every pea on his highchair are still two of my all time favourite sights. And on those days he didn’t eat much I could still rely on good old breast milk to top him up.

So why do I hate weaning I hear you ask? Well Kai is approaching the big 1 now, and starting to breast feed less and less (well, during the day at least – we won’t go into the nights yet!). And I am becoming more and more aware of the need for food to give him all the nutrients he needs. And it feels like an AWESOME responsibility.

All of sudden I’m having to think about things like ‘a balanced diet’, calculating daily salt intake and monitoring sugar. Toast and sticks of fruit and cooked veg just don’t cut it any more – I need to make actual MEALS! When the timing works out he’ll just eat a bit of whatever we’re having as a family but the rest of the time I have to make stuff specially for him and me (my old diet of a packet of biscuits for lunch doesn’t seem quite so appropriate any more).

And of course, being the perfectionist that I am, it has to be good stuff. I’ve never been much of a cook but suddenly I’m making pitta pockets and pasta bake like a pro (or trying to anyway). It’s EXHAUSTING! Trying to come up with new things, get a good balance between different foods and food groups etc.  I HATE IT!!

Bring back the days when boob was enough! I tell you what… next time around I am going to appreciate it all SO much more.

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Welcome to mine and Kai’s morning ritual! It goes something like this…

At a stupidly early hour (5.50am this morning) I become aware of little fingers poking me repeatedly in the eye, exploring the inside of my nose and ears and prising my mouth apart to try and forcibly insert a soggy dummy. Kai is awake. We co-sleep so when he wakes up it’s pretty much game over as far as sleep is concerned – the mummy/daddy climbing frame/play aparatus is too much of a temptation and when Kai’s awake he’s AWAKE. I’ve always loved the myth of the ‘good’ baby who gurgles and plays quietly in their crib till a reasonable hour. ‘Ha’ is all I can say to that one.

A cuddle, some Kai singing and round of ‘lets see how much of daddy’s chest hair I can pull out in one go’ later, I take pity on my sleepy husband and wrestle Kai into a dry nappy. I will then announce that we are going ‘downstairs’ which will be greeted by squeals of excitment and leg pumping and frantic pointing at the door. Bless him, he does love to point as you will discover. We wave goodbye to daddy and the digital clock (don’t ask me why, he just loves it) then it’s off downstairs to play for an hour while I sit bleary eyed at the computer, periodically untangling Kai from whatever mess he’s made, and breaking for frequent cuddles and kisses. This morning Kai has decided that despite nursing all night there is room for just a little more so is curled up on my lap simultaneously nursing and watching Tweenies on tv. I’ve become rather adept at one handed typing.

We’ve had added excitement lately as Kai has become very good at pulling himself up to standing holding on to the furniture. This has opened up a whole new world of discovery for the little man and consequently means nothing is safe from his destructive grasp. He’s still getting his confidence and balance so I need to keep one eye open to get ready to catch in case he overreaches himself, and to remove whatever object he has discovered and decided to try and eat.

Speaking of eating, it’s time for breakfast. Be back in a min…

 Right, Kai is just finishing off his mini-weetabix and blueberrys (and doing stirling work this morning I have to say – the boy can’t half put it away when he wants to) and the cat is in her usual position under his highchair to catch the droppage. Occasionally she will get lucky and Kai will decide it’s more fun to feed her his breakfast rather than eat it himself – this involves carefully dropping it onto her head. De-weetabixing a cat is not an easy task I can tell you.

Anyway, next on the agenda is getting washed and dressed – well Kai anyway, me if I’m lucky but that will probably have to wait till nap time. My hair is doing a good Ace Ventura impression this morning much to my husband’s amusement, so that’s going to take a bit of attention. After a restless night and an early start, Kai is looking little weary already so it won’t be long before he’s ready for his early nap. That’s the cue for me to jump into action. Kettle on, nappies in the washing machine, floor cleaned (well, sometimes – I’m not going to pretend to be mother of the year here…by ‘cleaned’ I may mean a quick run over with a baby wipe…).

The last of the weetabix are now getting thrown at me so I better go. See you later – thanks for joining us! x

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Well I’ve decided to keep a blog. I’m not sure who will be interested in my ramblings but there you go! Mostly it’s a reason to make myself sit down and reflect on my day so will probably by hurriedly written during nap times and in between nappy changes, playgroups and de-sticking the couch of whatever Kai has had for lunch that day. I hope you enjoy getting to know us a little bit. I fear that I’m not particularly interesting but Kai is fab so should help make up for my shortcomings in that department!

So let me introduce us. My name is Josie and I am 27 from the UK and am a stay-at-home mum to the incredible, rambunctious, endlessly entertaining Kai Benjamin who at the time of writing has just turned 10 months old. I am also a wife to my lovely husband Ant and friend and coffee/cake-eating companion to most people with a pushchair in my home town, where I’ve lived all my life. On other days you will also find me as artist (with a confidence deficit), philosopher (with a tendency to get befuddled), and spiritual explorer (with a penchant for pagan thinking) and soon-to-be student studying for my BSc in Earth Sciences.

In all honesty I’ve found motherhood to be rather hard work and not at all what I expected – the daily challenges, anxieties and physical energy involved have all come as quite shock and something I don’t think anyone could really have prepared me for (the projectile pooing was a shocker I can tell you that for starters…) I’d always thought I’d be rather good at being a mum – turns out I had far more to learn than I realised.

At the same time though, it’s been the most exhilarating, joyous, heart-stopping, mind-blowing  adventure of my life. Because, you see, it turns out that the hard work has a pay-off… a life with my beautiful, miraculous, precious boy. My love for him is the biggest shock of all. Because I do. Completely, utterly, hoplessly do. I always knew you loved your children but nothing could have prepared me for this. Moving mountains is nothing. I’d chew my own arm off for this boy.

So I guess that’s what my blog is about (not arm chewing don’t worry). Life with my Kai, my little bear and all our many adventures along the way.

I hope you enjoy it x

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