Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Slugs and snails and puppy dog tails

Oliver is a real boys boy. He was running, climbing and jumping before most kids could walk and has always been good at bashing, throwing and generally being way too noisy and energetic.

For as long as I can remember he has also had an amazing obsession for cars, diggers, motorbikes and the like. Basically anything that moves. Pre-talking, whenever we’d go for walks in the pram he’d shout ‘daaaaaaaa’ at any vehicle driving past. And as a consequence we possibly have the largest car collection of any two-and-a-half year old I know. Same goes for books. Which look a lot like this:


We always used to say how amazing it was that he was genetically pre-dispositioned to love cars. However, since Lila’s arrival it has got me thinking.

Her collection of books looks like this:


You see what I'm getting at? She’s four months old and already has a pretty impressive array of fairy, flower, princess, and dolly books and various other girly accessories. She even has a handbag (all be it a very cute one). 

I think the little girl in the recent You Tube internet sensation, was very right in her toy-store rant. As well as all the pink v blue toys on the market today, why should girls be conditioned to read books filled with fairies and flowers and boys to read books about cars and dinosaurs?

At home we try to make sure we balance out Oliver’s boyish-ness with some more ‘girly' toys. He has a tea set, kitchen things, play food, a pram and two dolls and he loves sitting down to read ‘Lila’s’ books. And luckily, despite the bashing, he can also be very gentle. This boy can throw a mean tea party.


On the writing course I took last year our tutor advised against being overly stereotypical when developing characters for children’s picture books. Apparently these days publishers don’t want girls to be too girly or boys to always be the ones getting dirty and going on adventures.

Perhaps the next generation of children’s picture books will be set to change the pink and blue stereotypes. However, looking at our collection it seems a long way off yet. What do you think?

Do your children have very gender specific books and toys? Do you try and mix it up a little? 

Sunday, 29 January 2012

A family divided

One of the things I’ve found hard about going from one to two children has been losing the amount of one-on-one time I used to have with Oliver.

After my maternity leave ended I made the decision to go back to work part-time so pre-Lila, Ollie and I would spend hours each week hanging out. You could find us at the park, in the library, at friend’s houses, reading books, making tents, playing endlessly with cars, cars, cars.

If you’d have asked me at the time I probably would have told you about how he got on my nerves, about the mega tantrum he threw on the pavement outside my favourite café or how I had to put in a mercy call to Paul so he could save me from a particularly bad day.

Now with Lila attached to my boobs for a fair amount of the day and night our Mummy & Oliver time has taken a bit of a beating. And looking back I’ve realised that hanging out with the O-man, just the two of us, was a LOT of fun. I guess it’s true when they say you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.

So recently Paul and I have been trying to split up every couple of weekends so Paul gets to enjoy his baby girl and I get some time just Ollie & me.

This weekend was one such time. We didn’t do anything in particular. Just headed to the park for a bit of fresh air.

First off the Sydney-kid in him rode straight to the café and demanded a babycino. He didn't get one - 'I want doesn't get' as my Dad would say.

Next I followed while he rode like a bat out of hell on this:


Then he randomly stopped and did a few spinning jumps. As you do.



He also made me smile as only a toddler can.

“Mummy, what’s that man doing with his feet?” said very loudly, whilst pointing to the poor man attempting to jog and failing miserably. A for effort though.

It was nice. Simple, but nice. And made me realise that we definitely should continue with this new routine as much as possible over the coming months.     

Until then... do your kids need one-on-one parent time? what do you do with your weekends? 

Friday, 27 January 2012

This week...

How was your week? Mine was a good one. Another quick one, but a good one.



We’re slowly getting there with the whole big boy bed saga. Via a reward chart and that wonderful parenting technique of ‘the threat’ (having to sleep in his cot in this case), we’ve managed to get Oliver to settle pretty well. However, never one to make things too easy for us, he’s been treating us to an early wake-up call somewhere between 4.30-5.30 IN THE MORNING.

It’s an understatement to say we’ve been pretty knackered.

After a few days of walking round like zombies, Ollie and I had a little chat before bed one night and I explained that if he woke up and it was really dark he should try and go back to sleep. And you know what? It worked! Just like that we were treated to a lie-in until 6am. This morning was 6.30am. Wooo hoo! 

It made me wonder if perhaps sometimes we don’t give toddlers enough credit for their ability to understand situations. Maybe Oliver was just thinking it was ok to want to play trains at 5am, neither of us had really said it wasn’t, we’d just dealt with it in a sleepy daze. And actually, explaining things plainly and simply has made sense to his little two-and-a-half-year-old brain. Well, that and the bribes rewards - gotta love stickers, jelly dinosaurs and dollar-shop cars!

Other than our ongoing sleep dramas, Australia Day was a really good one this year, I’m on to the third draft of my first complete story (way to go me) and there was extreme cuteness when Oliver made Lila laugh hysterically over and over. Best sibling moment yet. 

And now, for a little look at what the rest of my week was like, here are the most recent photos from #janphotoaday.

Enjoy!

Day 20 - Someone I love. Here's the man himself.

Day 21 - Reflection. Books like these help to keep it all in perspective.

Day 22 - My shoes. Obligatory Sunday 'havs'.

Day 23 - Something old. Art Deco bracelet,
a wedding gift from Mum & Dad.

Day 24 - Guilty Pleasure. Oh how I love crap TV - TOWIE anyone?

Day 25 - Something I made. I actually had a different one to this,
but the perfectionist in me didn't like how it looked in the post,
so I changed it to playdoh!

Day 26 - Colour. Vintage car from the Australia Day festivities. 

Day 27 - lunch. Oz Day leftovers.

Was your week anything like mine? Are you getting much sleep at the moment? What's your guilty pleasure? 

Thursday, 26 January 2012

The rules

Well hasn’t this been a busy week? I know it’s clichéd but I really can’t believe it’s Friday already. Did everyone have a great Australia Day? Ours involved vintage cars, Giggle & Hoot and Bananas in Pyjamas in the rain and a sausage sizzle in the park. Lila even wore her special Australia Day nappy. Too cute!  

Sadly I can’t take the credit for writing today’s post. I can’t even take the credit for finding it (thanks to one of my lovely Mother’s group friends for that). But it did make me chuckle so I wanted to share…


More from my month in pictures coming on the blog tomorrow, so stay tuned.

Until then…. Do these rules sound familiar to you? What did you get up to on Australia day? Are you looking forward to the weekend? 

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

The one about poo, tantrums and a handbag

*My latest Book Depository order arrived the other day. This is what was in it (actually, this is a bit of a fib. Only the first one has arrived, the other one is still in transit!):





Yes really. I ordered this on purpose. No joke.

And this:

Now I usually hate it when people air their children’s toileting habits in public – particularly on facebook, what is with that? So I do apologise for the following in advance. However it’s a topic that seems to be quite popular among one or two bloggers at the moment and it’s getting a fair bit of airtime over here at chez green tea, so I feel like it needs a bit of blog time too. Here goes…

Oliver has had his cute little bum in big boy pants (yep, a bit like the big boy bed), for a couple of months now. He took to weeing in the loo like a duck to water, even wanting to ‘stand up like Daddy’ from the get-go. Big tick. Although having to clean two lots of man-wee from the toilet/floor/shower screen (yes, the shower screen) isn’t much fun.

The problem is in the number two department. It happens every now and then when combined with a fair bit of bribery, fanfare and a few tears thrown in for good measure. But most of the time there’s just a little special something waiting for us in his night-nappy in the morning (too much information? Yes, I agree.)

I read on Sarah Wilson’s blog once that when she hears about the same thing three times, she has to act. Me too. It happens all the time (although I’m ignoring the amount of times I’ve read about the quit sugar trend). So after reading about this book in a magazine, on a website and having a friend recommend it, I knew I had to buy.






I’m not sure it’s going to be the magic cure of all our poo problems but it’s certainly worth a shot. Oliver seems to like it, the illustrations are great and it's actually quite a fun read, despite being all about poo. 

Next up is the extremely long-titled book - How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk.

For us the terrible twos started at about 15 months and have had their high points and low points ever since. At worst tantrums have looked like this:







And at best Ollie is the most sweet, caring, funny and loving boy you’ll ever meet.

The problem is that he has such a big, strong-willed personality, I sometimes feel we’re not as consistent with handling his behaviour as we could be.  Don’t get me wrong, he’s not a total tearaway and compared to some kids you see out and about he’s positively angelic. But I’ve been told the ‘threenager’ years and ‘foul fours’ are worse than the terrible twos, so I want to be prepared.

I believe that we can always be better parents and I’ve heard good things about this book, so I’m going to give it a go. Once it arrives and I start reading, I’ll let you know the verdict.

Until then… have you read either of these books with any success? do you have any toilet training tips to share? How are the tantrums going in your house?

Oh and btw – you know the missing puzzle pieces? I found them! Naughty Lila had hidden them away in her handbag.






*Linking up with Where's My Glow for flog your blog Friday.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

A little bit mad

I think I might be losing it. I keep finding myself staring in cupboards without any idea why. I can often be seen out and about with my maternity bra flapping undone, which, believe me, is not a good look. And a few times now I’ve actually (shock horror) forgotten about Lila as she’s been happily passed from friend-to-friend at various parties and gatherings. Bad Mummy.

However, they’re not the only reasons. In some mad fit of writing dedication, I’ve signed up for this: 

Yep. Never one to do things by halves, I decided that to give myself a further little push in the direction of writing a book, I may as well write 12.

The aim of the game is to write one draft picture book per month. They don’t have to be finished manuscripts, but should ideally be a complete story concept.

The challenge was created by American blogger Julie Hedlund who has also set up a facebook and twitter group for budding writers to share ideas and questions. Thanks to this I’ve even landed myself a critiquing group, which means a dedicated team of people all keen to help other budding writers fulfill their dreams. Good stuff hey?

Despite the obvious addition to my ever-growing workload, (and I thought maternity leave was meant to be all babycinos and hanging out in the sunshine!) I’m excited. Not sure I’ll still be saying that in a couple of months time when my vacant cupboard staring sessions have increased and my bra is permanently undone! We shall see. Wish me luck. Now I'd better hit that notebook and start writing...


Until then… are you taking part in any challenges this year? Are any of you involved in 12 x 12? 

Thursday, 19 January 2012

My month in pictures part II

Is it just me or has this week gone super fast? It’s all a bit of a blur really and not just because of the child-induced haze we live in at the moment.

This week I have mostly been dealing with toddler sleep problems, excercising (yes, proper exercise doing lengths in a pool), sorting out plumbers, writing (I have a draft idea on paper!) and spending the rest of my life on this computer blogging away (good lord it’s addictive). 

And this is what that all looks like in the daily photos I've been taking as part of the #janphotoaday challenge (you can see the first ten days here). Actually that’s wrong, these pictures don’t really tell you that at all, but they're fun to look at anyway! 

Day 11 - Where I sleep. Right here, creased sheets and all.

Day 12 - Close up. Lady Lila and Sophie.

Day 13 - In my bag. So much stuff I can't even be bothered to list it all! 

Day 14 - Something I'm reading. Making the dream come true.

Day 15 - Happiness. Weekend yoga, just me and the mat.

Day 16 - Morning. Love the morning sun on our balcony.

Day 17 - Water. Sydney, you were looking mighty fine that day.

Day 18 - Something I bought. Bribery sweets to get Oliver to stay put in the BBB!

Day 19 - Sweet. Lila Boo aged seven days new.

So far an unbelievable 100,000+ photos have been shared on Instagram alone so for any of you PR peeps out there, I think this has the makings of the next great social media case study. 

For those of you taking part (and for those who are not) you can follow me on Instagram @greenteantoast. Today’s prompt is ‘someone you love’ so watch out next week for that photo and more.

Until then… do you have anything interesting planned for the weekend? What would your week in pictures look like? 

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

green tea book corner: the story of Lily and the Pig

Thanks for making it to the first green tea & toast book review [cue drum roll].

We have a fair few books on the shelves here at chez green tea - from old school classics, to current favourites and some quirky little random finds, the collection is pretty good. Which is why, over the coming months I plan to share some of the best with you in the hope that I can bring a little book-spiration for bed time. Because, let's face it, it does get pretty boring reading the same books over and over and over. And over and over and over. 

Today we’re taking a look at a recent addition to the collection. It’s called Pink, by Janet A Holmes and illustrated by Jonathon Bentley.

Cute cover don’t you think?


Mum and I discovered this while mooching around the kids section of bookshop and bought it to start Lila’s very own book collection. We thought she might like a little break from the 1,086 dinosaurs, diggers and monster books we have. Thank you Oliver and your typically boyish interests.

Anyway, Pink immediately caught our eye. I’m a sucker for a whimsical little illustration, which Pink is full of. Take a look:


In Pink, poor Lily has no one to play with. The chicken is too silly, the goat too hungry and the snail too slow. Luckily Pig is on hand to save the day. The story itself is exactly what you want in a children’s picture book. Cute, funny, slightly quirky and with a lovely moral to the tale. 

And Lila loves it, see:


So does Oliver for that matter, who has recently added the word 'tutu' to his ever expanding vocabulary. 

The best bit about Pink is that I really enjoy reading it. And believe me, when you’re reading a story to a four-month-old baby you really need to like what you’re reading. There’s not exactly much feedback from the recipient, if you know what I mean.

Sadly, I don't think Janet A Holmes has written any more 'Lily' books, or blue, red or green ones for that matter. But I can highly recommend adding this to your nightly pile of 'just one more' stories. 

Does Pink sound like a book your kids would like? Have you bought any picture books recently you want to share?

Sunday, 15 January 2012

A breakthrough and tales of the BBB


There’s been some change over here at green tea HQ of late. It looks a little like this:


Yep, Oliver has now fully migrated from baby to boy with the introduction of a brand new big boy bed (BBB).

The buying of the BBB (no, it's not just a bed) was a momentous occasion. Oliver was very excited. So excited in fact that he bit Lila’s toe whilst choosing a mattress. Poor Lila. Luckily there are plenty of naughty corners to choose from in Ikea.

And guess what? We went to Ikea and Paul and I didn’t argue. Not once. Not even a little bit. What a breakthrough! I think that has to be a record. In our nine year relationship we’ve been to Ikea on more than a few occasions and I’m pretty sure we've bickered our way round there every time. In particular when we get to the market place section, where conversations sound a bit like this:

P – ‘What on earth are you looking at that for? We don’t need a new random kitchen utensil/photo frame/storage unit/stack of napkins etc etc…’
Me – ‘Oh shush, I’m just looking.’
P – ‘Well can you please just hurry up then.’
Me – ‘No, I’ve just said, I’m just looking. I like looking, I’m not buying anything (she says whilst picking up massive stack of napkins/storage container/random kitchen utensil’

I digress, but needless to say us not arguing in Ikea is a big deal.

So the BBB went down extremely well but has sadly meant a few extra knocks to our already deprived sleep patterns. This is how the settling in period went:

Night 1 – So much bed buying excitement made for a very tired and cranky husband hyper toddler and a lot of tears before bedtime. When he did finally get to sleep he slept fine, but Paul found him on the floor on the opposite side of the room the next morning. When asked where he slept Oliver said ‘the floor’. Bless.

Night 2 – Worked out he could get out of bed, so yours truly had to sit outside his door for an hour until he went to sleep.

Night 3 – Woke screaming for ‘Daddy’ at 1am which we ignored for a while. Then when I did go in he was wedged between the bed and the wall shouting ‘head stuck, head stuck’. Cue massive mummy guilt for leaving him to cry, which swiftly passed when it took us the best part of three hours to get him back to sleep. Little sod.

Night 4 – Firmly wedged in with pillows and extra blankets and a stern ‘Mummy’s not sitting outside the door tonight’ talking to, we finally cracked it. For a week. 

Fast forward to the last few days and we’re still going strong:
  • 11pm visit from a bleary eyed and slightly confused toddler asking to go outside, then for a cuddle and then to go back to bed.
  • 8.30pm little head peeping round the doorway while we were watching tele. Followed by an hour and a half of testing out Super Nanny’s back to bed routine. Which didn’t work.
  • 6.30am door opening to our bedroom and a little boy in his jammys wanting to play.  

Oh it’s all fun and games in this house, that’s for sure. Good job I don’t have plans to write a book or anything. At least it’s good to know there are other people in blogland going through something similar.

But you know, it’s funny, despite the biting incident, the Ikea trip (two in one day in fact) and the lack of sleep on top of lack of sleep, it’s possibly the cutest thing ever lying in bed with my little boy chatting and reading him ‘just one more story’. 


Love it. 

Does Ikea make you argue? Are you getting much sleep at the moment? Any tips to share to help Oliver stay put for the whole night?


*Linking this in with Where's My Glow? for 'flog your blog' Friday

Definition of annoying

Could there be anything more annoying than two missing pieces of a brand new puzzle? (Sorry Aunty June!).




It's driving me crazy. Yes, I'm aware this may come across as very a little anal, but the rising Virgo in my starsign means I'm an organised neat freak and all the toys must have their place. God damn it. 

Until I find them... Would this annoy you too? If not, what gets your goat? 

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Belle and Lila Boo

My Sister-in-law, Mrs A, is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. I’m secretly super jealous of her ability to bake and whip up gourmet meals, whilst maintaining order and calm in her house with two children hanging off her apron strings. Mrs A, if you’re reading this, one day you can give me some lessons.

As well as being a whiz in the kitchen, Mrs A is also an expert present buyer. Her gifts for the kids are perfectly thought through and always a big hit (I mean, could it get any better than a Playmobil rubbish truck for the boy obsessed by anything with wheels?).

Recently she bought this beautiful picture from Belle and Boo as a gift for Lila’s birth. 


Gorgeous isn’t it?

This is perfect is for three reasons:
1.   The colour scheme for Lila’s nursery is pink and green (or it will be when we finally move somewhere she can have her own room. For the moment she’s bunking in with us).
2.   Lila’s nickname, among others (yes, we’re one of those nicknamey families), is Lila Boo - Belle and Boo, geddit?
3.   And finally, because the clever woman behind Belle & Boo draws inspiration for her illustrations on vintage classics such as Milly Molly Mandy, which was my all time favourite series of stories as a little girl.

Here’s some more of her work (she’s called Mandy Sutcliffe if you’re interested):




Right now I’m working on an idea for a book that takes inspiration from classic tales and images from my past. I love anything with a hint of vintage so I’m currently developing a character a bit like the one found in the Belle & Boo work. I might feel like sharing at some point. We’ll see.

Until then… what was your favourite childhood book? Does Belle & Boo float your boat? And do you have a Sister-in-law as good as mine?

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

A photo a day keeps me blogging away

Sorry about the crap pun up there. I thought it might sound quite good. Clearly not.

I’ve been following Chantelle over at fat mum slim for a while now. I first came across her blog in a work capacity but her lovely photography and honest words have kept me coming back for more.

Earlier this month she started a photo-a-day challenge (#janphotoaday) for people to do exactly that; take a photo a day and share it via Instagram, twitter or any other social media channel you fancy.


I wasn't intending on taking part, or posting so soon after sharing green tea & toast with the world but, as a new blog on the block, I figured what better way for you to get to know me than by sharing some of the details of my day-to-day life?

Seeing as I’m a bit behind the curve ball and we’re already on day 11 of January, I’m going to have to play catch-up. So here goes…

Day 1 - Me. Here I am.

Day 2 - Breakfast. green tea & toast of course.

Day 3 - Something I adore. Cuddles with O&L, the best.

Day 4 - Letterbox. Lots of them.

Day 5 - Something I wore. A present from Paul.

Day 6 - Makes me smile. Too funny and how cute is his little bum?! 

Day 7 - Favourite. All my favourite places rolled into one.

Day 8 - Sky. There it is.

Day 9 - Daily Routine. A walk with Lila and Bella, what a view. 

Day 10 - Childhood. A snapshot of a (much) younger me.

It's a great challenge, which has seen around 60,000 photos shared on Instagram alone. Pretty incredible. I'll share today's shot and more in a round-up post in a few days. Until then you can check out my daily photos here (just ignore the multiple comments under each shot - uploading one handed whilst feeding a baby and dealing with a toddler is not advised. And I thought I could multi-task!). 

Have you joined the #janphotoaday challenge? It's still not too late to get involved.  
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