Today we met up with family for an afternoon at Castle Acre Priory. This is a 70-mile-each-way trip for Reindeer and I but well worth it to be with everyone! Whilst Reindeer slept on the journey home I had plenty of time to reflect on the day.
Just lately there has been so much going on each day that I struggle to recall it all so, just this once, I’m going to talk through our day on the blog. The idea being that in umpteen years time I will look back at it and go ‘Oooh!, I’d forgotten all that!’
Our day began when Reindeer woke, a little after 0700. I will mention here that this was extra special because it was the third night in a row that he’d slept the whole night without any interruptions! He’s never done this before and it constitutes a minor miracle given how difficult the weekend was thanks to teething.
He was so pleased to see me this morning that I was given lots of smiles and cuddles-into-the-neck when I went into his room. After a feed and nappy change we went downstairs – Reindeer to play and me to make breakfast. Our exceptionally good day continued with Reindeer eating all of his porridge and all of his fruit pot – result! He also splashed a large quantity of water all over everything, but that’s OK because he had quite a lot of fun doing it. Mealtimes are very variable when it comes to timings – they can last from 15 minutes to one hour plus, depending on Reindeer’s mood. Today’s breakfast was about 35 minutes.
While I had a shower, Reindeer sat on the bed and played games with Dad. Once I was sorted Reindeer practised brushing his teeth, had another nappy change and then I got him dressed for the day in non-matching monster socks (he’ll have to conform when he gets to school so I want him to be much less constrained while he’s little), jeans and a funky green top decorated with a safari animal pattern. I left his hair in alone in all it’s fluffy glory. This all turned out to be a bit premature because he then had a feed and promptly fell asleep. For 2 hours. I used this time to get everything ready and loaded into the car for our trip. It is impossible to travel lightly these days – with the toys, nappy bag, clothing change, packed lunch, more toys and bits to take to family the car was quite full today.
Just as we finished his post-nap feed, I got the call to say the rest of the family were about to set off, so that was excellent timing. After another 20 minutes faffing with another nappy change and saying bye to Dad (working and unable to join us today) we finally hit the road just before noon.
The weather was beautiful – sunshine and dramatic clouds with a slight cool breeze. This is Reindeer’s first Spring, so it is nice to have weather like this in which we can go out and explore the world.
I’d completely forgotten that this was the last day of the school holidays so, naturally, the traffic was plentiful and the roads ridiculously busy. Reindeer didn’t sleep on the journey. The first 50 miles were spent alternately playing with his toys, watching the traffic and daydreaming. During the last 20 miles we had to stop three times as he got quite sad and needed cuddles and a feed (as is so often the case when we’re out and about he was fed in the car). He finally slept the last 5 miles of the trip.
We arrived just ahead of everyone else, so I sat in the back of the car with Reindeer, looking out of the open door. Shortly after we parked the car a bin lorry pulled up beside us. Whilst the driver got out and dealt with loading the lorry, the co-drivers were taking pictures of the priory on their phones. Reindeer watched avidly, fascinated by the sound of the truck and the sight of people in high-visibility vests. As has so often been the case, the men working in the truck saw they were being watched and responded with kindness, smiling and waving at Reindeer, who stared intently back.We are so grateful that people respond so well to our son – he is hugely curious and, because we don’t use a buggy, is usually at eye level with the folk around us. He is liable to stare or babble at folk because he is basically nosy but, thankfully, I don’t remember anyone responding negatively to this.
Meeting up with family was great – everyone wanted to cuddle Reindeer and I got to spend some time catching up with my eldest nephews (6 years and 3 years going on 30!). He was a little hesitant as he’s going through a clingy phase, although he did snuggle into my Mum as soon as he saw her before making a quick retreat.
Once in the priory grounds we decided to sit opposite what was once the main, and hugely dramatic, entrance to the priory. I hadn’t really thought about it beforehand, but this was the first time Reindeer was close up to grass – he is a summer baby which means that his aware-and-grabby status only kicked off in the winter when sitting out on the grass was a definite no. He was fascinated with the green, stringy stuff – touching it and pulling it. He didn’t seem to want to eat it though, which was a relief.
After some time playing like this with his cousins it was time for another feed before walking through the ruins. Having perked up with the feed Reindeer was happy to be carried by his Opa, as long as he could see where I was. It makes me feel so happy to see him with family – another generation and link for us all. We are extremely fortunate that all of his grandparents, aunts and uncles would like to spend more time with him; the only barrier to this is the way that modern life means we don’t live close together. Distances range from a one hour drive to the nearest relatives to a 12 hour flight to the farthest. It is one reason why I’ll always try to make an extra effort for days like today – the opportunities don’t come along often enough.
As we walked, nephew #1 took great delight in showing me his three-and-a-half new adult teeth. He was chuffed to discover they are the same three-and-a-half teeth that Reindeer has and was also interested to learn that the fourth tooth is struggling to come through for him too – bleeding gums but not much progress.
Nephew #2, who persists in referring to him as Baby Reindeer, was mighty put-out that he couldn’t carry Reindeer like the grown-ups do, but was happy to play games with him whilst sat on a picnic table.
By 1600 it was time to begin the journey home. We made a quick stop in the shop for a magnet (I’m trying to collect one from each place we visit as Reindeer loves looking at the magnets on the fridge) before heading to the cars to say goodbye and exchange belated Easter gifts.
Reindeer slept for the first hour of the return journey and cried on and off for the last 20 minutes. I was really impressed with him though as he was clearly making a huge effort not to cry. Within 10 minutes of starting he’d managed to get things under control and only occasionally cried briefly after this. I desperately wanted to pull over but, naturally, we were on the section of road where there isn’t anywhere safe to stop.
Once home we had a cuddle and quick playtime before another feed and into bedtime routine. During the feed Reindeer was trying to kick his socks off. Usually we make a game of removing his socks but, as he was feeding, I tried to remove them without fuss. Demonstrating his growing awareness of self he actually noticed me removing them and broke off from the feed to laugh 🙂 I love that he remembers all the little fun things we do!
Tonight our story was ‘That’s not my puppy’ and was followed by teeth brushing time. Bathtime was the usual fun, especially as he’s still interested in the mechanical whale – as of today christened ‘Maxwhale’. So beloved is Maxwhale that he came with us from the bath to the changing table and then bed. Before getting into pyjamas I use E45 lotion on most of Reindeer’s skin; it probably isn’t essential any more but we started this in response to a small outbreak of eczema in January.
Cuddles another feed and prayers followed before a prolonged session of singing, rocking and more cuddles to get him to sleep for the night.
In many ways this is a very mundane read – it could be the story of any family on any day out (well done if you’ve gotten this far!) – but for me it is anything but mundane. My memories of today contain the visual of the smiles, the sound of the laughter and the feeling of seeing my son reach to me for cuddles. They also contain the pride of watching him respond well to new experiences, the happiness of time with family, the shame that neither of us actually ate a ‘proper’ meal for lunch or dinner as I forgot (Reindeer is still fully breastfed so he wasn’t affected), the frustration that I can’t seem to be the organised and effortless mother I try so hard to be and the sadness of not being able to safely stop the car to comfort him as soon as he was sad.
Each day is such a mixed bag, with so many variants and new experiences, that it is easy to see how memories become blurred, how it is hard to hold in my head the earliest days for comparison with the current ones. This is why I keep photographs from each day, video from some days, the book of our daily events and this blog for the stuff I need to try and articulate in case I lose it forever.