My Valentine


Valentine's day has never really been one of my strengths. Last year I snuck into a wedding fair with a friend, the year before I walked laps of Castledawson with a colic stricken 8 week old, and the year before that I was probably drunk. This year, however, I celebrated in style with my little love. I tell myself that my incentive was to teach Reubs that Valentine's doesn't have to be a big commercialised holiday for 'just vomited in my mouth' kind of couples (I'm not bitter, really I'm not) - I think it doesn't do any of us any harm to show others how much we love them. However, if I'm totally honest with myself, the main incentive was the excuse to eat chocolate hearts all weekend. And it was an all weekend affair indeed.

It began earlier than planned on that very wet Friday morning with some fort building - which is harder than it looks. You see these things on Pinterest and they look completely reasonable and not time consuming whatsoever, but there you are 2 hours later with your whole living room rearranged and a bewildered toddler judging your lack of survival skills and coordination. Eventually I made a pretty cute fort with a fabulous interior design and Reubs made it a little more manly with a dinosaur door guard. After a while I was banished because ALL of the dinosaurs and ALL of the toys needed to be inside out of the rain. Every so often I'd hear a holler from Reuben asking me what I wanted for dinner and he'd prepare it in his 'kitchen' (a bowl of chocolate buttons and a spoon). Fat Friday was also held in the fort that evening and we made an executive decision (by that I mean I asked a question and he didn't say no for once) to name it Fort Friday.

After he konked out in a sea of dinosaurs, I cleaned the whole house, blew up 20 heart shaped balloons, and covered the living room in heart shaped sweets. I completed the look with a little box of diggers wrapped up heart shaped wrapping paper. You would think I have time on my hands. I don't. I really don't. But when I do something, I don't do it by halves. And if that means staying up until 2am googling how to make heart shaped pancakes - then that's what I'll do.

Naturally I was so tired the next morning, I didn't even hear Reubs get up. He came into my room and stroked my cheek whispering 'Mummieeeeee... Beccaaaaaaa.. Mummieeeee.. I got bawoons an I got sweeties'. He then hit me across the head with a balloon and I decided I only had myself to blame for that. We went all out for breakfast and Reuben constructed a haribo and baked bean omelette - every toddler's dream. We sat there talking about dalmatians, the moon, and overindulging in bacon and marshmallows. I couldn't help but think that I would be horrified if I had a boyfriend/husband who interrupted my valentine's with Reubs and I couldn't spend the day doing all those activities that we love. That stubbornness is probably something I should work on in the future if God ever brings a guy into my life (which we will have talked about for a loonnggggg time before He does) - but for now my 2 year old guy is my perfect valentine. Even if I've been picking marshmallows and jellybeans off my furniture and clothes for a week.

Before heading out I gave him the present that he somehow hadn't noticed yet, the hearts probably camouflaged it with the rest of the room. As his face lit up at the little box of diggers and tractors, I reminded him that his girlfriend at creche wouldn't do this for him. I'm forever dreaming of the day he brings a girl home and she is sweating with nerves because she knows I am the most important woman in his life.

We spent our afternoon at the glorious Helen's Bay near Bangor where I planned to have a romantic, leisurely stroll… and instead I learnt some valuable lessons. 1. Reuben doesn't do leisurely 2. Reverse psychology doesn't work. I got very impatient with Reuben running riot and stalking families with dogs. I also found it too painful to watch his grey jeans repeatedly roll around in dirt. So I pretended to walk the other way and made sure not to look back (the first rule of reverse psychology). Eventually I gave in and realised I could no longer see my son. I ran for what seemed like 74895 years until I found the stubborn little monkey sitting on the sand with his hat, shoes, socks, coat, and almost jeans off, and he had gathered a mountain of stones, ready to chuck them at passersby/me. Every ounce of my being wanted to pick up a stone and throw it at Reuben himself, but I would never do such a thing/there were too many people around.  

After scrubbing his jeans until they were sparkling and gorging on some pre-dinner marshmallows, we headed to Cafe Renoir on Botanic for our dinner date. I'm only calling it a dinner date because every other table had couples who were on dates and I refuse to think that we were any different. Whilst Reuben threw cutlery at the next table and screamed 'BOY COME HERE' at the waitor when he was ready for his ice cream, I told myself several times 'It's okay... no one has noticed... we are no different than them...' Thankfully, embarrassment isn't a feeling I often experience any more and I held my head high as I exited the restaurant with Reuben under my arms and sat on the ground with him outside as he tantrum-ed himself out. 

We went home and bathed before watching Beauty and the Beast. Unfortunately we didn't spend Valentine's completely alone as the Asda delivery guy delivered my groceries... whilst I was mid-shower. I answered the door towel-clad in a panic and the man graciously allowed me to finish my shower and get dressed before he brought my groceries in. That will teach me not to get so hyped up about Valentine's, forgetting to buy groceries and have to get a delivery. We ended our day with a fabulous night's sleep before church the next day where I was in charge of the kids. I recreated the Valentine's dec√≥r and told them all about Reuben's mischief the day before, but assured them that I loved him despite it all. I assured them that I know how to love Reubs because God loved me first. And I'm pretty down with celebrating that kind of love on Valentine's too. 

If you have read my blog before you will know that Reuben and I are serial daters. However, heart shaped foods are just too attractive not to make this a tradition. And I fully intend on following through with this tradition for as long as I can. Yes - I will be that mother in law. Although, next year he better pay for dinner. 

Date Days


I'm going to begin by gracefully gliding over and ignoring the fact that I haven't blogged in a month. If y'all could join me in that and accept my apologies, that would be great.

Is it too late to say Happy New Year? Even so, Happy New Year! I think it's more appropriate to say it now anyway. After all, exams are over, the new Uni semester started today, I used my new slow cooker, AND Reuben didn't wake up at 2 am crying for Dalmatians for the first night in 3 weeks. TODAY IS A DAY OF NEW BEGINNINGS.

I’m frustrated to admit that for the last few weeks I've attempted to blog but miserably failed several times. I have the worst memory known to man so my head was in exam/survival mode. My only thoughts were of the themes in Genesis, the pastoral cycle, and how to avoid showering for the 5th day in a row. Just to add a layer of grossness to that, Reuben and I both had temperatures and spent several nights waking up in a pool of our own sweat.

So blogging just wasn’t happening. A lot of things weren’t happening for that matter. For the first time on this whole journey I began to think ‘I don’t have it together’. I let the pressure overwhelm me. The pressure of exams, my non-existent memory, trying to be my best for Reuben, keeping a house going, keeping money going, and the pressure of it all falling on me. Having to describe myself as a ‘single mum’ usually makes me vomit a little in my mouth, but for the first time I really felt like one. There were lots of tears. I have cried just remembering it. I cried before an exam, I cried when Reuben wouldn’t get dressed, heck I even cried making dinner and got snotters in the spaghetti Bolognese. During those extremely overwhelmed days my new motto going to bed would be ‘Everyone fed – no one dead’.

I regret letting it all get on top of me. Hopefully the next time I feel like this, it won’t take me as long to remember that I will never get by solely on my own strength. And I don’t have to carry all my burdens myself. With God I am most definitely not a single mum.

When the pressure was off I celebrated during Refreshers by firstly bleaching my whole house, and secondly with some pretty fab date days with Reuben. When we date, we date hard. I mean, one morning I woke up with marshmallows in my hair, chocolate buttons down my pyjamas, 101 Dalmatians had been playing all night, and I’m not sure whether the drool I was lying in was mine or Reuben’s. It was glorious. Here’s what we got up to;

- Reuben still had a bit of a temperature so there was a lot of nakedness. Although I just viewed that nakedness as the epitome of freedom – exam freedom. However, all this freedom and whimsy evidently went to my head and I did the scariest/bravest thing a parent can do with their two year old... I took him to the cinema. Non-parents are currently thinking that’s no big deal, wind your neck in. And fellow parents are probably thinking, do you have a death wish? Now, considering my son personifies the Tazmanian Devil and can’t sit for more than 2 seconds without bouncing from wall to wall screaming DOGGY or ZHAAAT? (what’s that?), then it wasn’t my wisest decision.

However, thanks to the size of the screen, the size of the popcorn, and the size of the dinosaurs on the screen, I think Reubs went into shock for 45 mins. He sat perfectly while I soaked up the stillness and sobbed at Arlo’s dinosaur dad dying. He spent the next 45 mins roaming the empty cinema and doing roly polys down the aisle. I ignored him, ate the rest of his popcorn, and prayed that Arlo the dinosaur would get home to his mum before winter came. And he did. A great day for everyone.

- On another adventure we went to ‘The Gruffalo’ Trail in Colin Glen Forest Park where there are giant sculptures of the characters from the kid’s story. To be honest Children’s books are pretty grim, but this one rhymes so you can’t really complain. However, after walking the whole way to the end of the trail, Reuben threw a tantrum because I told him to pet the Gruffalo, and I realised that all this time it was me who loved the book and not Reubs. Gruffalo or no Gruffalo, he still enjoyed gallivanting through the forest and stopping passers-by for a conversation with their dogs.

Mid breakdown.

Done with this.

Screaming at me that he's leaving.

- As a firm indoors kind of girl, I enjoyed the gelato stop on the way home. Indigo is the perfect mother-son date venue. He slurped gelato and counted every car that passed by the window. I sipped tea and enjoyed sitting there. Just sitting. On a seat. Without running after him for a solid 20 minutes. Reuben is lovely to just sit and look at. He’s never been still long enough for me to notice such a thing.

- Later that evening we dined together and did the dishes together - a rare occurrence. Reuben washed, I dried, and then I washed again. He obviously filled the sink up too much and 24 Coolfin had its first ever flood. Exam Reb would have ate the head of Reuben, mopped the floor, and sent him to bed. Post-exam Reb turned on music, let naked Reuben mop the floor and showed him how to slide across the floor on a plastic bag. We both ended up in a pile on the floor, throwing water and suds at each other. I laughed harder than I had in ages, Reuben experienced his first water park, and my kitchen floor was sparkling by the end of it. Everybody won.

By this stage the nappy was long gone so
I used my GCSE art skills to draw on a nappy

- The next date was the best date ever – in theory. In reality, Reuben was having a tantrum filled day and I ended up dragging him across the floor of the Ulster Museum by the arm screaming. Much to my embarrassment every person on every floor heard my child throw himself on the floor and refuse to get up. I carried him over my shoulder kicking and screaming whilst some other parents gave me disapproving looks. I’m still waiting for the day that every other parent realises that we are all in this together. We have got to support each other or the children will win.


- The walk back to the car took approx. 7 years. Reuben repeatedly disobeyed me, looking me in the eye before jumping into puddles of mud. I told him to sit on the step and not get up until I said so. To which he replied, ‘No cares’. In those moments I begin to understand why some couples choose to get a pet instead of have a child. He’s lucky this is an unconditional love. On our way out of Botanic Gardens Reuben made friends with a dog that was twice his size and roaming freely whilst his owner watched. After politely letting us pet him, the owner walked on. Reuben embarrassingly followed him for 15 minutes before the dog owner turned around and said ‘I see you have the same problem as me, you should try getting one of these…’ and he held up a lead. The worst part is I actually do have a lead for Reuben, or the politically correct term - ‘training reigns’, but he snapped them in half.

Being defiant.

Being punished for being defiant

The picture of sass.

I decided Reubs wasn’t suitable to be taken out in public that evening so we got a takeaway for dinner and commenced Fat Friday. Well... in this case it was Fat Weekend. We had to milk the Date Days for all they were worth - And they were worth A LOT.