It was as hot as it was yesterday and we had all the windows open trying to keep our tiny new born baby cool. This year we've has all the windows open trying to keep our so-big-can't-believe-how-much-he's-grown boy cool. This time last year I spent a lot of time sleeping on the sofa (when I say a lot I mean a lot of 40 minute chunks). The boy slept (didn't sleep) in his pram/moses basket in the sitting room. We went to bed at midnight in the hopes that the nighttime wouldn't last as long. In case you're thinking of trying it - it doesn't work. Next week last year I started to go to bed at 5 mins past Rufus in a desperate attempt to get that hallowed and restorative four hours.
I can't believe that was all a year ago. We watched a lot of tennis - I think I saw every game - c-sections are a good excuse to be sofa bound in front of Wimbledon. This year I think I've seen half a match so far and that wasn't live. This year is much more fun and a whole lot less scary - unless there is a tantrum in the offing. Oddly tantrums happen less when the boy and I are alone. Perhaps he'll be an actor if his career in interior design doesn't work out - have I told you about his upholstery fabric fetish? He gets that from me *so proud*
Some almighty wobblers have been thrown in this house of late. There have been arm flailing, foot stomping, back arching, fist shaking, lie on the floor, scream, shout and cry trantrums issuing forth from that angelic (looking) little boy.
For all his gorgeousness I sometimes wonder if there isn't something just a little bit hellish living inside him. I was rather proud of myself for teaching him to sign to me that he was "all done" with his dinner, or a particular game - until last Tuesday - when he spent the entire day waving his arms in front of him everytime I got within three feet - "I'm all done with you Mummy!"
He has taken to swiping things off of bedside tables in a bid of frustration, throwing remote controls, hairbrushes and toys and getting stoppy if we don't get him a banana fast enough.
This morning I had the audacity to try and take his sleeping bag off as he made a break for the edge of our bed - the tantrum that ensued was so violent that only Buble could calm him down. We googled in despair. Apparently it's quite common - the "terrible twos" it seems are a bit of a misnomer - they don't necessarily start at two, nor do they cease on the morning of their third birthday. I'm hoping that we're just getting it all out of the way early.
Trying to reason with a one year old is nigh on impossible, distraction rarely seems to work and cuddles make him worse. Daddy it seems is flavour of the month - Mummy is akin to ear wax. I've tried all sorts to regain his affection only to be met with a palm in the face - "talk to the hand Mummy". Mr Jones has recommended practicing general disdain mixed with a tiny smidge of contempt - maybe the small boy is like a cat and is irresistibly drawn to people who'd really rather be doing something else. We'll see - I hope I get my cuddles back soon.
You know the ones, the ones that were in the boys party goodie bag - it seems they were a bit of a hit. The recipe has been asked for. I will oblige - but do forgive me if they don't turn out quite the same because it's one of those a bit of this a bit of that recipes and it's different every time I make it. But the good news is it's always yummy and the boy always eats it.
You will need: 80g butter 140g maple syrup (if your baby is over one you could use honey. If you're being old school you could use golden syrup and sugar - but I went with maple syrup because I can convince myself that it's "natural, healthy sugar") 130g porridge oats (Sometimes a bit more if you've been heavy handed with the syrup) 35g dried dates soaked in boiled water for 5 minutes and then blitzed with enough water to form a sludgy, gooey paste About 80g of dried fruit chopped up - try apricots, prunes, dates, raisins, cranberries, dried apple - whatever is in the cupboard. A few tablespoons of a mixture of pumpkin and sunflower seeds 25g dessicated coconut
Melt the butter in a saucepan with the maple syrup, mix in the date paste. Mix up all the dry ingredients and stir into the saucepan. Try not to eat too much of it. Press into a baking tray (no need to grease it) and bake for 15 minutes at 180 or until golden on top. It will still be soft when you take it out of the oven but it will firm up as it cools. Once cool cut into bars making sure to break off lots of crumbly bits to eat yourself.
We made it - hurrah - the boy is one and has been since Saturday. We had a party with all the gorgeous people we know and a few thunder storms thrown in for good measure. It was supposed to be an afternoon tea garden party and instead it was more of a barn raising - but we still ate scones - and a rather marvellous cake made by my sister girl. I will post pictures once my lovely photographer has sent them to me - you're a star Stu.
We decided to make his birthday his naming day too. I wrote the ceremony myself because I wanted it to be personal. I managed to get most of the way through it before the tears started. First birthdays are tricky for Mummies there's the happiness that you've managed to grow your baby for a whole year and your excitement/consternation that your once tiny, helpless little new born is now a big toddler boy with a very independent streak - mixed in with the hideous memories of what exactly you were doing at precisely that time a year ago. I had to give myself several stern talkings too in the morning but by the end of the ceremony I'd lost it. Thank you to every who cried with me. And for those of you who missed it - and to save it for posterity here it is.....
Rufus Anthony Jones – Naming Ceremony – 18th June 2011
It might seem strange to be having a naming ceremony for a little boy who has been wearing his name for a whole year now. But it takes a while for you to own a name and for you to make a mark, however small, on the world. So for us it seemed fitting to wait until Rufus’ first birthday to formally welcome him into our lives.
A name is very important. It distinguishes us from others and gives us a sense of belonging in our family and community. Rufus – your name has been chosen with love and we hope it affords you a long and happy life. It means red head – and while some may fear that association, we feel that you have the strength of character to carry it off.
You have grown into your name in this past year – just as you have grown into our hearts. A Victorian writer called Elizabeth Stone once said that Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. And that is completely true. I never thought that I would be so fascinated by another person, that I could spend hours watching you sleep, eat and play. You have bought an enormous amount of love and happiness into our lives and have truly stolen both of our hearts.
Because of you our lives have changed forever – we are now a family and we are proud to be your parents. We cannot wait to help you grow up and to see what sort of way you make in the world.
It’s not just you who will be on this journey – we will grow as parents too. Someone once said that - As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can't tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it myself.
We don’t take our responsibility as parents lightly, we know we have the most important job to do in bringing you up and we hope that you will bear with us while we find our way. For our part...
We promise to always be here for you, to listen when you talk and to guide you through life’s joys and hardships.
We promise to respect and support your choices and nurture your dreams. We will share with you our talents and strengths and guide you away from our weaknesses.
Most importantly we promise to love you forever.
So far Rufus’ life has been all about our little family of three – but now he is one it’s time for him to start taking his first steps into the world. So we have asked you all here today to help us set him off on that journey. Everyone here will have some impact on the sort of person Rufus ultimately becomes. We all share the responsibility of shaping him into a person and we’d like to ask all of you to pass on your love, knowledge and wisdom to him as he grows up.
We have asked that some of our friends take a special role in Rufus’ life – as “guide parents” if you will. Our old friends Sharon and Darren and Catherine and Adam because of the wonderful job they are doing with their own children (we’re hoping to steal a few tips) and Paul – under the careful and sobering guidance of Jo because we know that one day you’ll be fantastic parents too.
We’d like to ask the six of you to make one simple promise to Rufus – and that is to always be there for him in those moments when we as his parents aren’t able to help and guide him. [When he’s trashed the house, dropped an Emma Bridgewater Mug or broken the X-box]
Finally we would like to say a few thank yous. First off to our families for the love and unfailing support you have given us over the past year. And to our NCT friends and other baby folk for getting us through the screaming, the daddy blues, the tantrums and for sharing our highs and lows – we hope we’ll all be together for many years to come.
And I would like to say a special thank you to two people – firstly to Tim – for growing into a great Daddy and being by my side even through the gruesome bits. And finally to my mum – I would never have been able to enjoy this amazing year as much as I have without your help. About this time a year ago you were walking me to my epidural and through the gas and air haze I remember asking you how the hell you did this twice. You said to me “I promise you that it will all be worth it once you have that baby in your arms” – now I don’t say this very often, but you were totally right.
So I’d like everyone to raise their glasses and toast Rufus Anthony Jones – may you live a long and happy life. To Rufus
So there we go - the little boy is one - I really can't believe it has been a year since we brought him home (the Jeremy cat still hasn't come to terms with it). It has been amazing and I feel so lucky to have been with him every singe day - I shall miss him terribly from my office desk - although I will admit I'm quite excited at the prospect of going to the loo in relative peace.
The boy is nearly one. We're having a party. It's turning in to quite a big one. It's supposed to be in the garden. The weather isn't looking too great. Come Saturday 60 people including 15 children may well be crammed into one newly converted barn (hear the beads of sweat forming on my mother's brow). But fingers crossed the weather will play ball and we can play in the garden.
The boy is a bit confused - he can't decide whether to walk or crawl. He's decided he likes Mr Jones more than me - apart from when he wakes up in the night when apparently only mummy will do. I think money must be changing hands somewhere. Today he took two tiny steps away from me and to his Daddy - of course. Jolly exciting.
Mr Jones has a new job, he is currently on garden leave - I'd like it noted that he hasn't so much as picked up a trowel or touched the lawn mower. He has however cleaned out the shed, helped me decorate the sitting room and built me some shelves. I go back to work next week - Mr Jones still has three weeks off - grr.
We have a new garden - it's across town and is full of trees - and nettles and ivy - but one day it will be beautiful and the perfect place for small boys ang girls to play. There are ponies in the next field. On Saturday we took our tools down there to clear some mess - then we sat in the sun and drank champagne instead - ooooh get us.
Sometimes I wonder if it's possible to be too happy? Then the ever present pessimist in me thinks that at some point something horrid will happen to take it all away. I hope not. It's marvellous to be very happy.
Sugar is evil in the world of small people - although I am gradually coming around to the fact that at some point he is going to have to have sugar. In fact I know that my mother has already fed him a hefty portion of Victoria Sponge - her line of defense at my raised eye brows was: "what? I gave him a piece without any jam."
So, naughty grannies aside I do try to limit the small ones sugar intake and these muffins satisfy his sweet tooth without one single grain. They look a bit dubious and I wouldn't say they were particulary cake like - but they will even do for grown ups on days when the freezer is lacking Ben and Jerrys and a yogurt just won't do. The recipe is from the Baby Led Weaning Cookbook.
Preheat the oven to 180/350/Gas 4 and line a muffin tin with cases.
Mix together two eggs, 100ml sunflower oil, and a teaspoon of vanilla. Sift 225g wholemeal self raising flour into another bowl and add 2 medium carrots grated, 2 dessert apples peeled and grated, 100g dates (If you can only get dried ones - which is all I can get usually soak them first), 50g desiccated coconut, 50g finely chopped pecans or walnuts and half a teaspoon each of ground cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir briefly, then make a well in the centra and add the egg mixture - fold lightly (it'll be quite lumpy). Spoon into the muffin tin and bake for 15-25 minutes until golden and springy.
When cooled feed to small boys and any visiting small girls. They freeze well too. Marvllously good if you're worried about your child's iron intake and they refuse to eat meat or eggs because their egg content is beautifully disguised. Plus the carrots and apples add vitamin c for built in iron absorption - what's not to love?
Back to work in two weeks. Such is my fear of being trapped in an office again that I have already offered Ben Fogle my services in the Hebrides. Sod work, I'm moving us all to a crofters cottage with a couple of sheep, a log burner and Boden by carrier pigeon.
Mrs Jones is a far from yummy mummy with a penchant for M&S fudge bars and a mojito on a Friday night. She became Mrs Jones in 2009 and a mummy in 2010. In 2011 she is attempting to remember her own name and not put washing powder in the dishwasher....