Sunday, January 30, 2011

A week

Raf is really growing up. Sometimes it takes you by complete surprise, like this week when, as he sat on my lap as I tried to eat dinner, he started spearing lettuce leaves and feeding me. It was really very sweet and funny and Raf was most pleased with himself!

This week also marked the week of him liking something other than Peppa Pig. We popped on a DVD of the Wiggles, which I really quite like as it's just 4 unabashed men singing and dancing like utter loons. Raf has been dancing all week when we put the music on, and when he sees the dances he makes pretty good attempts to copy what he sees. It's one of those moments which makes me gush with delight and pride.

Here are a few other snippets of our week in a few words and a few pictures.

Last Saturday, Raf sat in his big boy seat facing forward for the first time. He had a fine old time being close to mama and papa.

Here he is relaxing with a Peppa Pig book en route to Rosa's second birthday party.

Raf loves to put all his toys into the bath whilst it's running... unfortunately he fell in this week while doing it. I didn't capture the exact time but here he is perilously close. It was pretty funny, though he didn't much like it, as he fell in head first and was completely drenched. Thankfully he didn't hurt himself and Rich was there 'supervising'.

Getting ready for a winter run with Mummy and Daddy.

Checking on Raf a few minutes into the run...

One mile in and already asleep.

Still asleep.

Enjoying brunch after a long run.

And, finally, a trip to the Peekaboo Children Center.

Monday, January 24, 2011

A little pause

There is a moment in almost everyday when I pause and really, really observe and 'see' Raf. It might sound a bit hokey, but in those moments when I remember that there is a little person in that sweet body of his, when I take a moment to really and truly appreciate him and everything he does, I almost become undone. He is so exquisite and funny and precious, and I can feel myself welling up when I take that moment. I just wanted to jot down a few of those moments:

1) Raf likes to dance, and today, watching the Wiggles (a whole other post brewing on TV watching!) he started dancing in absolute delight. His little legs bending in time with the music: up and down, up and down, holding onto the table to help with his balance.

2) One of my new favourite times is putting Raf in his sleeping blanket. I lay it on the floor and say 'come on, Raf, come and get your blanket on; time for bed'. And up he trots, sits on the floor and then lies down trying to lie on the right parts of the blanket so I can zip him up in it. As I do it he says 'bye bye', knowing that he's going to bed.

3) Raf has such a fun sense of humour, and one of his favourite games is 'where's mummy?'. I'll hide, he'll come and find me, and right at the last minute I'll surprise him. His squeals of delight are perhaps the most life-affirming sounds in the world. This game can go on for a long while.

4) When mum and dad were here he started a game of climbing over the side of the chair by first climbing on a wicker box by the side, flinging himself over, landing upside down and then getting down and doing it all over again. For hours. And hours.

5) When he wants something, or you're handing him something, he'll put both his hands out stretched - high at first - and then he'll slowly bring his hands and arms down so that his outstretched arms are almost by his knees. Where he gets this from I have no idea, but these littler mannerisms and body movements always remind me of his little unique self.

There is so much that he does, and I wish i paused more to really appreciate everything, to take everything in. It is so trite to say that it goes so fast, but the truth is that it really does go much too fast, and part of the tearing up is no doubt tied to that, of it all going too fast, of not being able to get these years back. In the very least I can take the time to remember such happy times, knowing that there will be plenty of other good times to be had as Raf goes through life.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Our Family Connection

Hello world - Rich here. This is my first post of 2011, so it was my intention/new year's resolution to write at least one post a week - so I'm already three behind! Alas I will commit to 52 posts this year of varying lengths and topics (I think Raf & Al will figure a lot). It may not be every week but by the end of the year I should have 52 in the bag...

I do plan on a longer post detailing the many little things that make up Rafi's current life and how his world expands almost daily and his willingness to try new adventures - like hanging over the side of the bath, which without prompt intervention would lead to a fully clothed soaking.

However, I will for today mention 'family business' with one new arrival in the family, and remembrance of another family member whose birthday it was today. When considering the idea of family I'm frequently thinking how Raf will relate to his UK based cousins, extended family of aunts and uncles etc with him living abroad and not having the same cultural and social connections for the most part or close physical connection. Or how will he develop a family role for himself in our respective families, and perhaps later create his own family. Anyway that's for a longer post in the future...

The arrival - my sister had her third child on Wednesday - a boy named Billy Oliver Bartlett, coming in at a whopping 9.6 pounds. Another boy in the family! A football team could be achieved with only a few new additions - though a co-ed team would be just as much fun too...

Also today would have been my Granddad's 90th birthday, so we took a few moments over dinner to remember him - Frederick Ronald Sawyer (1921-2000), who served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War and then a policeman for 25 years. I spent a lot of time with him and my grandmother growing up - watching cricket matches with him every summer, and going to their caravan in Weston-Super-Mare. Here's a photograph of Granddad in his navy days, some people said he had a bit of the John Wayne about him...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Night Time Parenting

The topic of 'sleeping' is often a hot button subject for parents... including us, I'd say. We have pretty firm ideas about sleeping - and, specifically, night-time parenting. If there are, broadly speaking, two sleeping camps - 'crying it out', and 'not crying it out', we are firmly rooted in the latter. We co-sleep, and while we attempt to put Raf in his crib for the first part of the night (much safer in there until I get to bed), we happily sleep with the little cherub tucked in the middle. If he's upstairs on his own I literally run up the stairs if I hear him begin to even snivel... and if I am more than a minute it's usual to find Raf standing in his cot, arms out stretched with a pained look on his face wondering where we are.

it's honestly a bit heartbreaking.I don't know how I could possibly leave him up there on his own.

And we truly love co-sleeping. Raf is a snuggly little boy who likes to have his arms wrapped around your neck, or he likes to lie on top of you (especially when he's teething and it's less pressure on his poor little gums), and it's simply a gift to wake up to a little boy who, already awake, is waving his hands around in the air, watching them in the pre-dawn light as he amazes himself with the shapes he makes. And I think that, for a little boy like Raf, he benefits so much from the security and the closeness especially when I'm at work all day.

But, you know, it's also pretty exhausting. Raf is 18 and a half months and in that time I have yet to sleep through the night because Raf is up a lot in the night. He doesn't always wake up fully but if I didn't help in some way he certainly would wake up and it wouldn't be a pretty situation. Sometimes I am up - or awake - 10 days a night. I am very fortunate in that I don't need a ton of sleep but it's a side of parenting that people often don't see, especially beyond the early months when there is somewhat of an expectation that you WILL be up. But when little ones are Raf's age it's almost taboo to admit that they are far from sleeping through the night, that you still help them with sleep, and so forth. To my mind sleeping through the night is not something that is really learned, rather, it's more a milestone.

Yet it can be challenging, especially when one parent is responsible for the majority of the night-time parenting. it IS exhausting especially when Raf is teething or is ill and needs even more comforting and help. It's not an unusual night to see every hour on my alarm clock, and it can be difficult when work looms and you're feeling ragged from night one trillion with virtually no more than 2 hours consecutive sleep.

But it's worth it; it really is. I truly think that Raf is a happier little boy for it. Well, that is what I am telling myself :)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Return to the Pool

It's very quiet around these parts without mum and dad. As we drove home from somewhere on Friday afternoon both Rich and I lamented about how quiet it would be on our return. No one waiting for us, no one to share in all Raf's little delights.. Indeed the very nice thing about having family around -especially doting grandparents - is that you're given license to go on endlessly about how great your child is. "look, Dad, did you see that? Isn't that precious?"; "Granny, isn't he the sweetest little poppet? How clever is he eating his peas like that?"... and so forth.

But it's back to us three plus the pups and the kitty. Yesterday was very low-key, and I confess I spent a lot of time on the couch exhausted from weeks of barely any sleep because Raf's been cutting a molar, and also I've upped by triathlon training as base training season kicks in. This morning Rich and Raf stayed home while I ran (it was a bit chilly for Rich!!), but this afternoon, after preparing some chili in the slow-cooker with the ingredients contained in the winter farm-share box we picked up this morning, we all went swimming.

Over the summer Raf had enjoyed himself tremendously swimming in the local lakes and ponds and we'd also taken him to the local pool for some parent/infant swim lessons. Since then we've not been at all as a family, but this afternoon, in the freezing cold, we took the plunge. Well, Rich and I did.. Raf gripped me in absolute terror as we sat on the pool-side. Rich and I took it in turns swimming a few lengths here and there, and then, all of a sudden, he seemed to relax. Rich and Raf had been playing with Daddy's goggles... they'd throw them in the pool and then I'd dive in and get them if they couldn't retrieve them before they sank to the bottom. Before we knew it Raf was ready to go in.. well, 40 minutes later! He really loved it! We didn't spend too long in the pool as it was pretty cool and we'd been there for a long while, but Raf really got in the groove.

I was glad we didn't push the issue too hard, that we let him get used to the pool again. He is a fairly cautious little chap and he likes to familiarize himself with things before diving in (pun not intended). He's such a great little boy.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Chin Chin

My mum and dad fly back to Spain tomorrow. We're all very sad about it and hoping that their flight is delayed because of the snow so that they can stay a bit longer. Most likely they'll be on their way, though, and we're going to miss them. it's been a very fun time.

Tonight we had our good-bye meal and Raf learned to 'cheers' with his beaker! He especially liked it when we taught him to 'chin chin'. It's his absolute favourite thing to do, it seems!

But before that, as I was playing with Raf saying (as I am apt to do repeatedly) "I love you" - he responded 'I ya', and then said, over and over again in response to my 'I love yous'... " I la. I la". I am sure this is his first attempt at saying "i love you". How my heart melted...

Saturday, January 8, 2011

18 months - a busy week!

Yesterday Raf turned 18 months! I was out all day yesterday so celebrated his 1.5 half birthday this evening with cake, a balloon, and a couple of presents. I think this may be his final fraction birthday!

It was a very busy week, though. We had a trip to the Peekaboo center on Monday, where Raf had a wonderful time. We spent some lovely time with Granny and Grandpa, and our we got to see our dear sweet friend Louisa a couple of times. Raf had so much fun! Here are a few photos of our week!

Before we headed to the Peekaboo Center we gave Raf one of his Christmas presents he had still left to open. It is a Peppa Pig Wendy House (of course) and it was a big hit!

Fun at the Peekaboo Center!

2 hours of fun with Lou in Borders!

One and a half year birthday cake :)

Happy Birthday Boy!

Sunday, January 2, 2011