Just when I think I have made the room safe to leave...SOMEone finds a way to snake his changing bag up and over the gate and get into the fresh pot of Sudocrem...AGAIN! He had a bit of a scratch on his ankle and I think his aim was to put a "bit" of cream on said scratch. He knew as soon as Mommy entered the room that it was bad news and you could see it on his face. Lucky for him, Mommy took a deep breath through the anger in her belly and decided to chalk it up to another one of "those" moments which she knows are many more to come.
Afterall, he's two...and at least he didn't eat it this time!
It rained and was gloomy most of today so the moment I saw consistent sun without any threat of dark clouds I whisked Ryan away to the park for a bit of fresh air. We didn't intend on staying to play on the playground, mostly because I feel it's a bit crap and lacking of things for a toddler to do, but also because of the time and we'd be due back to get tea ready since Matt was already on his way home.
It was mostly up and down the steps to the slide and him asking me if it was okay to go across the monkey bar tunnel. I had to tell him he needed to wait until he was a bit taller because he could reach everything better...that, or he'd have to wait for Daddy to come with us some time as I was certainly too short, myself, to be able to guide him through safely.
When it came time to leave I first gave him a choice to "leave now" or "in five minutes," this way he knew our departure was coming. He chose 5 minutes, of course, so after a bit more time to play I took him by the hand and suggested we go see if Daddy needed help at home with anything, like feeding the cat. Usually making him feel his help is needed somewhere is an encouraging tool, but he wasn't having it and he started to whine. This is when I reminded him to use his words and tell me how he felt about leaving the park. He told me he was feeling sad so I told him it was okay to feel sad, but that we would definitely come back again and could even ask Daddy about visiting an even bigger park this weekend. I think it also helped that I was leading him out of the play area as we had this little chat and he was getting more and more distracted.
I think we did quite well considering the tantrums he'd throw in the past. Plus, one of the first things he said to Daddy as we returned home was, "we go to big park now, Daddy?"
Ryan was asking to do some gluing from the start this morning, so I had an idea to make a background for the fish tank. I let him have a go with the scissors on his own while I made a torn, green coral/seaweed-y background that he could glue, and then I cut out two orange goldfish. This time I showed him how to use a glue stick by rubbing it on the back of the paper shape. He took to it like a pro and was very proud of his work again!
As soon as Daddy got home tonight, Ryan couldn't wait to show him before we taped it on the back of the tank!
He also enjoyed another Tot School activity that involved some matching and attempts at writing/mark-making. I did set out the magnetic letters for him to match up with the written ones, but he had to put them in the boxes in the correct order, then I started with giving him lots of help to trace the first two letters and only a little help on the last two just when he went off track. Still...for only 2.5, I'm impressed...and I love that he loves to do it!
We started the day of with a bit of Tot School. I planned on attempting 3 intentional "activities" for Ryan, including 'shape matching' with real world object association using glue (for the first time). The other two activities we didn't really get to as he wasn't interested in the mark-making and our "nature walk" was overshadowed by a rainstorm.
He needed a bit of help with the hexagon and oval shapes, but he aced the rest and was really proud of his work at the end, exclaiming, "I did it!" He even shared with Daddy over the phone how he glued shapes.
After a short nap we got dressed and had a peek at the sky before deciding umbrellas were a definite for our trip down to the Children's Centre for his 2.5-year check-up. It was meant to be a 20 minute walk, but there isn't any option in Google Maps to adjust the time estimate for walking with a toddler, so I tried to give ourselves an additional 10 minutes. I fitted Ryan with his bee rucksack and out the door we went.
We got about half-way there before the skies opened. I opened Ryan's Thomas umbrella first and helped position it before opening my own. We took about 10 steps before I noticed Ryan was struggling and his head was getting all wet. I even took his "bee hood" out of his rucksack and tried positioning his umbrella handle under the straps on his reins so it would stay on his shoulder. Unfortunately, not even 5 steps later, his umbrella was hanging all funny again and the rain was coming down pretty heavy.
I was quickly debating trying to just carry him down the hill when a Sandwell Private Hire taxi pulled up and the passenger door opened. I looked up at the driver and shrugged, telling him it was okay but that I didn't have any money. He said it was okay and asked where we were headed. I told him and he said he'd give us a lift, no worries. Had this not been a local taxi, I would have thanked him and declined, but we were getting absolutely soaked and the centre was right at the bottom of the hill. So I loaded in Ryan and myself and thanked the man over and over as he took us down to the children's centre. He mentioned he had actually driven past us on the way down the hill but there wasn't anywhere for him to stop so that's why he turned around. He said he wouldn't have felt right to keep driving seeing as I had a young child with me. I don't think I've ever been more grateful and took his registration on our exit from the car in case we can find a way to repay him for his kindness.
Once inside we took a seat and waited for our turn. After we were called in, Ryan drew for a short time with crayons at the table where I was meeting with the nursery nurse. She went over Ryan's scores on the questionnaire I had to fill out previously, stating he was average and above on everything which was remarkable. I think it's down to him being such an independent little guy and wanting to have a go at everything himself. Then I had to fetch him to have him stand on the scale and have his height measured. He now weighs 31 lbs and is 89.3 cm tall (which is almost 36 in). She asked if there were any questions and concerns and the only thing I brought up was behaviour, as he seems to have a little defiant streak in him lately. She assured me it's purely down to his age and testing his limits, but that it should pass in time. She even gave me a little packet to read over about understanding the behaviour and how to help use it as a learning tool for him to develop and grow (and hopefully not turn into a little monster child, hehe).
It's good though because it's a big reminder from the child development courses I've taken how a lot of the bossiness and mini-tantrums are because he's feeling helpless himself and trying all he can to exert a bit of control. The tantrums, in fact, are a big sign that a child no longer has the words to express their feelings and it's a big indicator that they're overwhelmed.
After leaving the children's centre, we headed back up the hill towards home, stopping at Tesco Express for some mushrooms, and then straight into the kitchen to start getting tea ready. I even let Ryan have a go at chopping mushrooms with his Tommee Tippee knife while I did the same at the counter. He managed to get through two large mushrooms, so not too bad, really.
After I washed up the remaining dishes and decided to allow Ryan to hand-dry a few of the plastic things. It wasn't until I saw him licking a plate and telling me, "Look, Mommy...I got the water off. It dry now," that I decided perhaps he wasn't quite ready to help with drying dishes.
Still...wow, what a day...and what a grown up little man our Ryan is becoming! Love my little helper!
After a bit of discussion we decided Ryan was ready for his first pet. We popped into Two By Two pet store at Merry Hill today and picked up a new tank that contained a filter and some water treating solution. Ryan chose blue gravel and a flourescent castle decoration to go inside.
We had a look at all the fish, both freshwater and tropical, and while I was hoping to get him some Gouramis, they were £8-10 each...OUCH! Plus, any tropical fish would need a heater as well. So, we decided on some simple, £1.99/ea. standard goldfish. In earlier talks, Ryan wanted to name a fish 'Skully,' but after vetoing his suggestion of 'Food' for one of their names, he told me just before bed that he wanted to call them Mommy and Daddy.
He's been a bit obsessed lately with things like flies, slugs and snails and how he thinks they're all trying to find their mommies and daddies, so I suspect that is what prompted this newest idea.
So, with that in mind, we'd like to welcome Mommy Fish and Daddy Fish to our family as our pet population has increased from 1 to 3 (for now).
I decided to steer away a bit from what my blog posts are usually centered around because I have something I need to say. Last night some expat friends from our West Midlands group arranged a meetup in Walsall at an "American" themed restaurant called Smokey's Joint. Although it was marked as a "family" event, it was unsuitable for me as they were meeting at 7pm and that would mean Ry-guy would miss his bedtime. I didn't fancy a cranky toddler so I took a raincheck for this one.
This morning, I woke up to see messages on our group's Facebook wall about how they didn't have a good night because the service and food were substandard. Specifically, they ordered some drinks from the bar, were told they would be right out, and an hour and a half on they were still without them. Also, the wait staff, whilst seemingly busy as it was a Friday night, had no concern with them to even ask how the meal/experience was, something that is KEY in any American dining experience -- you ALWAYS ask how things were. They went on to say how two of our friends even spoke up on the Smokey's Joint Facebook wall and the posts were deleted!
Not being one to just sit back when I see friends being treated unfairly, I did a bit of investigating. Initially I considered going on the same Facebook wall, but considered I would probably be deleted as well, so I went on Smokey's Joint Twitter account and sent them a message, simply asking if a customer were to leave a post about a bad experience, why would they delete it. Within 2 minutes I had a pop-up message that I was blocked from seeing any of their posts.
Funny. One would think that if a new company had any interest in keeping customers and potential customers happy, they would address any issues that people brought forward, however, in less than 12 hours I was quickly observing how all they wanted to do was delete things and block people in what I can only assume was an attempt to hide and pretend it didn't happen.
This is when I decided to be a bit more proactive. I posted a public message on my own Facebook and tagged Smokey's Joint so they, and anyone who visited their page, would see the message as well. Here is what I posted (click on photo to enlarge)...
The first couple of comments were from friends of mine agreeing that it was ridiculous and confirming that Smokey's is quick to delete negative posts as they witnessed that the posts were made and then deleted within 5 minutes. I checked again on my wall about 30 minutes later and decided to message Smokey's directly on chat. It was sent to a mobile and I had a response within minutes that the Facebook and Twitter are not run by the same person, so they could not respond as to why I was blocked on Twitter. They then assured me the way my friends say they were treated is not the way Smokey's is run and is not acceptable. They promised to look into the situation and asked for the names of the people who attended and had the poor experience so they could receive a free meal and invited me to see their service and try their food myself. I thanked them for their response and told them I would pass on this message to my friends so they could get in touch if they wanted.
Shortly after this they responded on my Facebook post on my wall as well...
Fair play, but still they failed to answer why the posts were deleted and even tried to say that the posts I am saying were deleted were on the Twitter account, which I knew was not the case. Either way, I was happy they finally took initiative to respond, but still took a moment to clarify the point that if they typically don't have negative posts, I don't know this as they have shown they delete them so I simply suggested that leaving the comment and responded to it would do them more of a favour as people could see how they deal with any issues that arise. I'll admit, I did make a comment about their grammar, or lack thereof, but anyone who knows me knows this is my number one pet peeve and I think anyone in a professional light should especially make an effort to sound mildly educated.
After that, loads of comments poured through, mostly Smokey's customers stating they have not had that type of experience and rather enjoyed the food. Of course, there had to be one cave-man who suggested my 'rant' was due to it being 'that time of the month' for me...because why else would a woman speak...right? But you can see them for yourself, here, as I have left the Facebook post public, for the time being anyway.
Most who responded didn't even read my post and went off about how I had no right to complain about Smokey's as I didn't eat there, my friends did. I was also called a variety of names and one even went to refer to me as a typical "jumped up" American. Again, anyone who really knows me knows this is so far from the truth. I do joke to my friends about "going all American" on people...but in reality it just means that I take a stand when I find it necessary. I'm not violent and FAR from threatening, in fact most if not all of the time I do my best to be diplomatic. Of course, if I can get some humour in there then it just may fall out but I'm just not a doormat and don't like when myself or my friends are treated as such.
The fact is that everyone's opinions and experiences should matter and no one should be made to feel that their thoughts aren't important simply because it wasn't a "puppies and rainbows" experience. Along with that, yes, restaurants and their staff are bound to have "bad days," but anyone who works in the industry of food-service/hospitality know that your number one priority is the customer and sometimes when you're not feeling your best you need to slap a smile on and make sure the customer has a positive experience...that includes staying off your stupid mobile. You're there to WORK, not socialise. Sometimes having a positive experience means dealing with a negative, and working it out into a positive by using a bit of problem solving and initiative. I'm sure there are plenty of jobseekers out there who would value their job-security enough to make more of an effort than the staff my friends experienced.
Anyway, at the end of the day I don't feel bad for what I did. I'm passionate about things important to me so I spoke up for my friends and I know they appreciate it. As for the others who were "so offended" by my post...it was my choice and you have to remember that you also made a choice to write on my wall with a response.
Did I get what I wanted in the end? I think so. A little awareness, a few shared similar experiences, and a group of friends who I value and stand behind when the time calls for it. Plus, I'm hoping Smokey's learned a very important lesson as well and all things aside, I do wish them luck with things and hope they truly took it all on board.
Ryan loves to share things with the cat. This morning he came to me and asked me to read him his Roary the Racing Car book. The book talks about the different characters in the tv programme so on each page I'd read the description and tell Ryan to "say hi" to that character -- just a way to involve him in the story. Shortl after I finished he grabbed the book and announced that he was going to go and read it to Myst, who was snoozing peacefully on the back of one of the armchairs.
Straddling the arm, Ryan opened up his book and began..."Myst, I show you something. This Roary Race Car. Say 'hi' Roary..."
I say it all the time, but I will never stop loving this boy to absolute bits!
Ryan had some post come through on Monday that he has an appointment for his 2.5-year development check coming up next week. There was an ASQ-3 Questionnaire to fill out which also gave little "tests" I should try with him to see his response. One of the skills was how he coped with scissors, so I decided I would let him have a go today with some child-friendly ones.
He didn't have to actually cut any paper successfully, just properly hold the scissors and manage to open and close them a few times with his fingers. I would cut out some shapes and while we talked about them he made some attempts at copying me. He did get the "movement" of the scissors after a while but I'm not too worried because he gave it a good try and didn't give up. In fact, as long as he has his gorgeous, blond ringlets, I'm quite happy that he remains unsuccessful at the cutting bit.
I found these were the only photos that were taken from the day and probably the highlight of it all for Ryan. While in Torquay, we popped into one of the seaside shops and picked up a couple of things that were screaming for us to buy them.
Ryan absolutely could not wait until Daddy was home from work and he was able to play in his rocket!
Our final day in Torquay and the sun is gracing us one last time, so of course it would be rude to not visit the beach, right?
You don't have to ask Ryan more than once!
The water was freezing and the seaweed made it so green at the shoreline...it looked like romane lettuce in the water! I was so surprised how far Ryan went in on his own. I kept a very close eye on him and didn't allow him very far from me, nor did I allow him in with the water much past his little knees. He even stumbled at one point and nearly ended up in a downward-facing-dog position, but I stopped going in to "rescue" him when I realised he had control and steadied himself. He still got a nice splash of seawater on his face.
I'm so glad we were blessed with the weather we had for this trip and I'm equally as happy Ryan got to experience a proper little seaside mini-holiday for a second year in a row!
The morning started out 'oh so quiet.' Ryan slept in his own little bed under his duvet the entire night and didn't join us in bed until just after 9am, at which point he promptly fell back asleep with us.
I eventually got up to shower and the boys got dressed shortly after so we could meet up with Em & Amy at the Beefeater Grill for our breakfast.
After brekkie the kiddos had a nice run around on the grassy lawn just outside. The weather was gorgeous and couldn't have been more perfectly celebrated than with a wedding of good friends.
At the venue, Oldway Mansion, Emma & Amy smile for the camera while Daz was off performing his Best Man duties at the front with Groom, Tony. (Forgive me for the condensed version of the day as the majority of the photos are on my Facebook and I didn't want the blog post to be too overwhelming.)
We kept the kids content with lollies. Not typically a treat Ryan would ever get, but it was enough to keep him sitting and quiet for the ceremony.
Bless, look at the daddies with their littles.
I'm sure the photos of the wedding party will turn out beautifully with such a lovely backdrop of the gardens at Oldway Mansion.
Ryan made some friends in time to cut a rug and dance around. I think this was surely his favourite part and it was nice to let him release a bit of his energy as all the stimulation was a bit much.
All in all it was a wonderful day and we were all happy to have been a part of the festivities. We definitely wish Emma and Tony a lifetime of happiness together! Batman, too.
We set out just after 11 this morning, albeit later than we intended, and we arrived in Torquay between 3 and half-past, heading straight for Tony & Emma's. It didn't take long at all for Ryan to warm to Tony as he introduced him to a bit of "can't catch me" with the hula hoop.
I suppose it helped that "Uncle" Tony had ice lollies and this was Ryan's very first time trying one. Yum!
When the guys had to go for a bit for their suit-fitting, we took a gander back to our hotel just a few miles away where Ryan went apesh*t running around the room testing all of the lights. Auntie Emma & Amy were right down the corridor from us, so they stopped in our room for a bit while we hung out and decided we'd return to Tony's.
Have I mentioned this is the view from their house?! How about that!
Tony even brought out his bearded dragon, Kink.
Ryan noticed he could see a bit of the seaside.
And what a perfect way to end the evening with a beautiful, summer sunset...
We headed off again to Merry Hill today for a few last minute bits and bobs before our trip down to Torquay this weekend. Ryan has even been voicing his excitement for taking the bus to "Meh" (Merry) Hill.
We skipped a nap just to make sure we left the house on time and caught the right bus...
...As a result, he didn't last very long -- evidenced by this very sleepy shot inside the Westfield Kiddy Car.
After two and a half years in a long-distance relationship, I packed my life of 29 years into 21 boxes and moved to England to marry and be with my husband, Matt. Now I'm reveling in the youth of my 30s in Great Britain, supply-teaching in primary schools near Birmingham and enjoying newlywed life, being a mommy, and all the surprises they bring!