Thursday, 31 December 2009

Broken resolutions

Had I made any new year resolutions, I could actually have already broken them despite it being only 9.30pm on December 31. That's because ye olde Celtic new year observed by many a modern-day pagan starts on November 1. So I won't be making any special resolutions tonight, beyond the ones I make most nights which include never drinking again, eating some fruit for breakfast, getting out in the fresh air more and attempting to maintain my infinite patience a little bit better.

And I'm afraid I'm a fireworks killjoy. Since when did new year's eve become an excuse for letting them off from as soon as it goes dark til three in the morning? (Ever since the millennium, I think.) Shouldn't be allowed outside of November 5 in my opinion. Grrr.

So as there's nowt special about tonight I'll be off to bed. After a small glass of Baileys.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Choo choo shoes

He came up with the phrase all by himself, not bad for a boy who is not in a big hurry to get on to talking. He's signing all the time though, signs coming out that I didn't even know he'd learnt. He keeps telling me he wants to go to bed but he certainly doesn't mean it!

Anyway, our downstairs floors are cold and we both need slippers now that it's no longer flip-flop weather. At least he's sorted, I still need to find some. Maybe I should knit some, but not in the shape of trains! Anyone know how to make knitted ones non-slippery?

Daddy brought little man home shortly after ten and we've had a nice relaxed day: While we tidied up clothes we pretended to go to sleep and played tents under the duvet; we turned a plastic box into a boat and had a run-in with a crocodile, a lion and a jellyfish; we had a bus ride to the library during which he fell asleep in a ring sling and gave me a seriously achy back; I dished up spag bol while he followed me round trying to put cars in my back pockets...

Moments of simple silliness to be treasured.

Monday, 28 December 2009

Behind the facade

Behind the knitting (a boy doll for little man) and the decorating (more woodwork to paint) and the cooking (Hairy Bikers' panna cotta was a big disappointment) and the commuting (in ice, snow, fog, rain...) and the buying (a new camera), I'm actually not really ok. There we go, I said it. I'm not ok.

Now that I've moved house, the next thing on the to-do list is to get divorced. I don't want to get divorced. But I don't seem to get any say in this matter. Boxing Day was the first anniversary of me finding the text messages on STBE husband's phone from the woman he was having an affair with. So not a great time really.

Little man has also ended up spending more time away from me than ever before over the past few weeks for a variety of reasons that, on their own, seem reasonable but have added up to a pretty heartbreaking series of separations.

And here's the interactive bit: STBE husband picked little man up yesterday (Sun) morning because I was working in the afternoon and today and is meant to be returning him tomorrow (Tue) morning. Was it unreasonable of me to be upset to receive a text this morning telling me they had gone to north Wales and would be staying at a B&B tonight because he wanted some time away from his parents, where he currently lives, and was it ok for him to bring little man home a couple of hours later so they could do something there in the morning, like visit a castle? This would be the little man who has just moved house and needs to settle in and whose mummy is putting off having a little holiday for that very reason.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

My library








Too many books? Never! I just need to get round to sorting them all out... but at least my new house comes with a healthy amount of shelving.
Christmas Day went well. Little man loves the kitchen daddy made for him and he ate his own weight in chipolatas. Little man, not daddy. We all had a sunny, icy walk down by the river.
Now I'm having that post-Christmas feeling of wanting to get back to normal. I think New Year's Eve will find me tucked up in bed for an early night. Especially as little man has woken up in the early hours the last couple of nights and then fidgeted his way through the rest of the night.
But now he's off with daddy again while I work for a couple of days.


Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Home and away

The snow arrived eventually. But I don't have any cute pictures of little man playing in it, because he has been with his dad since Monday. While I have been moving house, the amount of time he has spent away from me and with his father has crept up. My variable shift patterns have contributed to this. Now, STBE husband's relatives are visiting from afar and so once more little man's presence is required. And now that I am only 15 minutes' drive away it seems so much stranger to not have him with me despite him being so close.

Of course, this gives me the opportunity to Get Things Done. At my pace, ie tearing around like a lunatic, banging into things and getting irate (who'd have thought the door handles in my new house would be such a problem; each one I pass either whacks me in the arm or hooks itself onto my clothing). I have presents to wrap, boxes to shift into the loft (where no doubt I will stand and gaze out of the Velux window at my river view), panna cotta to make courtesy of the Hairy Bikers, piles of washing to get through, brandy snaps to munch, snowy motorways to navigate so I can get to work later.

And now that moving house is over, STBE husband and I are going to have to sit down and talk about when 'STBE' is going to become simply 'ex'. Unless of course he decides to admit what a twat he's been, apologise profusely for his behaviour and book a very, very long course of relationship counselling.... Divorce it is then.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Bob the Builder gets let off

I found the key to managing toddler mischief: television. Little man specifically requested it this afternoon via some pointing and mumbling. I thought, well ok, half an hour isn't going to do any harm. He sat on the settee completely still and silent for about an hour and a half. I kept thinking, I'll just wash up then I can put the telly off and we'll look at some books... I'll just get the dinner on then I can put the telly off and we'll make some music (read noise).... I'll just get this load of washing in then I can put the telly off and we'll draw a picture... I'll just sort out this last box then I can put the telly off and we'll build a tower....

So there we have it, I have the solution. Will I be doing it again? Of course not. Sure, it made little man easy to manage for a short while, but at what cost? He turned into a passive, listless, blankly staring little thing. So I'll carry on involving him in all my everyday tasks, however much harder that makes them. And finding other ways for me to cope with the toddler energy. After all, it's me that needs to cope, it's not little man who has any problem with it.

Where does Bob the Builder come into this? I sat down with little man while the risotto and the sticky chicken drumsticks were cooking and watched this one programme with him. Bob and his team constructed a cruck-frame timber and straw-bale cottage that was a cartoon replica of Ben Law's Woodland House, as featured on Grand Designs a few years ago. Now that kind of telly I'd like him to see more of: then he can be inspired to become a woodsman and build me one!

In other news: It's not the entire country that is blanketed in snow. We had about eight flakes this afternoon. Now it's raining.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Run away!

In ye olden days, my son might have been called naughty. Or at least mischievous. I think his behaviour is perfectly natural toddler behaviour. However, this doesn't make it easy to live with, especially when I'm feeling a bit frazzled myself and somewhat lacking in patience.

If there's a switch or dial within reach he wants to press it or twiddle it. If we're in a busy place, perhaps involving traffic, and I need him to stay close he will try to run away. If I ask him to stop bashing his little car into something (radiators, my legs, chairs, tables etc) he only does it harder. If he isn't strapped into his highchair he tries to climb out, posing a danger to his own head should he fall. All my baubles are now on the top half of the tree because he was pulling them apart. If we're at some kind of play group and there's an open door, he will run out of it. Getting him dressed involves me chasing him around with each garment until I can pin him down for ten seconds. When I'm trying to lace his shoes, he starts kicking his feet around and squirming away. Should I, heaven forbid, attempt to do some mundane chore that involves waiting in a queue or at a desk... he will of course run away repeatedly and will not tolerate staying strapped in a pushchair. Despite all this running away, if I want him to walk a short way with me he very quickly grabs hold of my legs and tries to climb up them until I pick him up.

And because I have been so busy and stressed I am dealing with all this as and when it happens in a less than ideal way instead of anticipating it and having some idea of how to handle all that toddler energy and emotion. And a raised voice simply makes him go into a frantic mode in which he tries harder to do whatever I don't want him to do more quickly before I can stop him.

So all in all my conclusion is this: I need a holiday. I'm thinking two or three nights (which I can fit around work) in a quiet cottage by the sea. Somewhere properly dark at night. Only problem is whether it's fair on the little fella to drag him off somewhere else before he realises that where we are now is home.

Have I mentioned that he was awake at four this morning and fidgeting for a good hour or so...? That as he goes about his toddler business he has taken to chanting 'mummy, mummy, mummy...', which sounds cute but (whisper it) gets a bit wearing after a while, that he cried inconsolably when we went for a play in the forest this morning and for a good half hour in the car on the way back for some reason that I certainly couldn't work out, that he is currently obsessed with cats (miaow), that he now has all teeth but the big molars, that he has been frustratingly on the verge of being able to talk to me for some time now but seems a bit stuck on the frustrated whinging stage. That he thinks my little statue of Buddha doing baduanjin is the troubliphone.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Surprises

  • A squirrel nonchalantly skipping along the grass verge between my house and the busway.
  • A grey wagtail wagging its tail on the pavement. It was bright yellow, but I am assured it was a grey wagtail and not a yellow wagtail.
  • The extreme grubbiness we have had to clean off all surfaces in my new house.
  • The sight of the house vendor, having returned to collect some junk from the back yard, digging a hole in the verge between the house and the busway to bury her compost materials.
  • The arrival of my period only 31 days after the last one. I mean, that's normal. It's usually at least 42 days.
  • Just how many cookbooks I own. Just when I thought I had unpacked them all, there was yet another box.
  • How well I slept on my first night in my new house.
  • How gullible people are who buy things because they saw an advert on the telly (I've just seen one for a men's fragrance [read perfume] called hot water. I mean, come on, I could sell hot water.)
  • How much nicer my bathroom looks without me having had to repaint the blue ceiling or take off any of the stark white, yellow and blue tiles thanks to some nicer flooring and shower curtains and a new loo seat.
  • How much I'm looking forward to a day of chilling at home (my new home) with little man when I collect him from daddy's tomorrow.
  • That STBE husband and I have come to an arrangement for Christmas that involves me cooking Christmas dinner for the first time ever for the three of us.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Quick update

Not so much of the woe is me any more. My grandmother's friend's son's partner had a van. My grandmother's friend's husband drove it. My grandmother paid for it. All my belongings are now in my house. The nice cable people also sorted out my broadband connection and I bought a new phone, but am still in possession of a dud one. My fridge freezer is arriving on Sunday. I have bought some new wheel nuts, although not put them on yet as I have no idea how to. Little man's cyst is looking much better although he still joined me for a cuddle at some unearthly hour last night. So what does that leave outstanding? Well, I guess the main thing would be that conversation his father and I need to have about Christmas that I thought we would be having tonight but he has called off. Yes it is this Christmas we need to talk about, 2009, the one in two weeks' time.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Do not read this

It's pure rant. Stuff I need to send out into cyberspace to stop it going round and round my head.

I moved out of my last home on October 17. I thought little man and I would be at my parents for a couple of weeks. I finally completed on my new home on November 24. I still haven't moved in. I could really do with my own space now. And more than two pairs of shoes. But a friend who has access to a van can't get it this Thursday, as expected, and it looks like it might be next Thursday instead.

I have been decorating, in between trying to spend that thing that some working parents call 'quality time' with little man. I have had heating installed and some new floorings laid. I have had cable connected for my phone, broadband and telly. Unfortunately, the broadband won't set up. A phone I bought online isn't working. Because I have cancelled my old email provider I can't remember where I bought the phone from so can't return it. But I also can't use the free number to phone the cable people to find out why my broadband won't work. And when I tried on my mobile today I was on hold for so long I gave up. I also don't know when my new fridge-freezer will be delivered because notification will be sent to my defunct email address.

My application for insurance cover for the mortgage is currently on hold. My doctor wrote a report to say there was an outstanding issue with a dermatology referral. This is because I showed her a freckle on my foot that had gone all red. She gave me a referral. Of course, the redness went, all was well and I cancelled the appointment rather than waste hospital time. I now have to write a letter to explain this. And I have now changed doctor because I've moved house and am already paying that mortgage.

I got some sealant put in the back tyres of my car last week to stop them losing air. Unfortunately, the garage had to break the locking wheelnuts because I had no idea where the relevant tool might be. So now I have to find some new nuts. The car is also leaking coolant. Although my moving house won't result in any more miles travelled overall, as those looking after little man don't have to go far any more, it does mean my commute has turned into fifty miles each way. That's not as gruelling as it sounds: I don't travel at rush hour and it is motorway virtually all the way. But I do need my car.

STBE husband is avoiding talking to me about Christmas. Instead he texted me to say when he would like to have little man. I texted him back to say I would like to talk about it in person. He texted back in a manner that suggested I was being unreasonable in not simply agreeing. I texted him back a five-part message to point out all the considerations that need to be taken into account: such as little man and I getting settled in our new house, my not having spent as much time with him as I would like because of the decorating, the fact I would also like to see STBEH's family members who are visiting, the fact my shift pattern is unusual over Christmas.... He has still not come up with a time when he is available to talk.

Little man has an infected branchial cyst. It's one of two holes in his neck that won't ever go away. It's only a problem if it keeps getting infected. At the moment it's red, swollen and oozing green gunk and he is on to his second course of antibiotics. He's fine in himself, although he is waking up randomly some nights. I'm not surprised at that as he's a sensitive soul and mummy is rather stressed.

And then there's all the things I haven't been doing which I'd like to be doing: walking, knitting, cooking, planting herbs, talking to the chickens, seeing friends.

I could cope with a few of these things, but all together it's really a bit much. I keep forgetting to take my antidepressants, which probably isn't very helpful. And I think there are only so many bottles of wine and takeaways a person can consume in the name of temporary stress relief. Particularly when 'temporary' is redefining itself.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

I'm up a ladder...

...which is why I haven't been blogging. Too busy painting. Mmm, Ecos in bengt from the Swedish range. Farrow & Ball lime white. Oh no, I've fallen into giving companies blatant plugs, something I try to avoid unless I feel really strongly in favour of their products. I must admit to also using some bog standard, probably not particularly environmentally friendly, paints too. But as the nice ones are 50 quid a pop I have had to weigh up financial priorities. And I decided bedroom carpet was a good thing to have: 100% wool with jute backing. So there.

By this time next week little man and I might even have moved in. And he can do some serious bus watching from my bedroom window, which is conveniently low enough for him to see out of without having to stand on the windowledge. Which wouldn't be encouraged because it's newly painted. In Homebase chalk white eggshell.

I think there may be one loyal reader who finds the title of this post funny. It's all about loud phone calls in open-plan newspaper offices. 'Can you talk or are you up a ladder?'

Friday, 20 November 2009

Mysteries

Why have I had a cold since September?
Why is gingerbread dough tastier than the finished gingerbread men?
What is little man trying to tell me when he babbles away so earnestly?
Why is 'bang' his favourite word?
Why are my chickens still not laying any eggs after they finished moulting weeks ago?
Why am I physically incapable of being tidy?
Why do holes appear when I try to knit in the round in stripes?
Why can't toddlers sit in the car without pulling their socks off?
Why can my son remember that nasturtium flowers are edible but he can't remember that running like a loon with your eyes shut means you fall over and bang your head for the twentieth time in one day?
Why are big red buttons so irresistible?
Why did little man think that because grandma had a pretty necklace on, mummy might like a Pudsey bear sticker on her neck?
Why has he stopped eating his tea, whatever it is?
Why does my rear offside tyre keep deflating?
Why is it that every time I try to do something from my to-do list I end up adding more to it?
How can there be so many different shades of white paint?
Why are my new boots falling apart six days after I bought them?
Should I have a glass of cider and another gingerbread man?

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

The world's your lobster

So, les parents have had a friend round for dinner. Cue lots of tales of drinking around the campfire circa 1969. Let me explain: My dad emigrated to Australia when he was 19. He came back when his father died suddenly in an accident at an ICI plant not long after. While he was back here he met my mum; they got married and went off to Adelaide. From the tales it would seem they drank lots and mucked around lots. They eventually had my brother and decided to come back to Britain where his grandmas, grandad, aunties and uncles were. My brother was obviously sick all the way home on the boat, which serves them right for bringing him back to a damp, pestilence-ridden country.

They are off back to Oz next year for a three-month camping-in-the-desert, driving-along-dirt-roads kind of trip with their Aussie friends who know how to do this sort of thing. The kind of friends they used to get pissed with and row out into harbours with in stolen boats in the wee small hours and generally get up to mischief with.

Me? I get my hands on my new house in Runcorn in six days. I'm sure there's some Chinese saying about how it's not how far you travel... and how those who stay at home can end up as far away as those who get on a long-haul flight... but google is not coming up trumps so I'll leave you with this from the Tao Te Ching: “In dwelling, live close to the ground. In thinking, keep to the simple. In conflict, be fair and generous. In governing, don't try to control. In work, do what you enjoy. In family life, be completely present.” And: "Without taking a step outdoors, you know the whole world."

When I have settled into my new house I will dig out my own copy of the tao te ching and treat you to some more quotations. Bet you can't wait.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Preheat your ovens now...

I was going to give you a picture. But I didn't get round to it when they were fresh yesterday and now there are hardly any left. I'm referring to the gooey chocolate and ginger brownie thingies I made from Earthenwitch's recipe. Anyway, believe me, they were gorgeous. Worth nearly blowing up my parents' microwave in a mysterious butter and chocolate-melting incident. I don't have one of those hand-helder blender things meant for soup so I finely grated the ginger instead. And I can confirm it took 40 minutes in a standard gas oven on mark 5.

I also made a lovely sticky tea bread the other day from my new Frugal Food book by Delia Smith. Here's how:

Stick this lot in a pan and bring it to the boil: 150ml water, 150g caster sugar, 110g sultanas, 110g butter and 1 tsp bicarb of soda. Boil for 10 mins but don't leave it or it'll boil over. Take it off the heat and let it cool for as long as your patience lasts. Add 1 large, beaten, egg, 175g sifted plain flour and 1 tsp baking powder sifted in with the flour. Mix. Bung it in a greased and floured 1lb (I know, 450g, I'm mixing my measurements up but loaf tins are designed in lbs!) loaf tin and stick it in a gas mark 4 oven for an hour and a half. When it's cool enough, cut a generous slice and enjoy. It's very portable too for packed lunches/eating at your desk.

I realise I'm not blogging much at the moment. Most of the time I'm just feeling sorry for myself and don't have much to say that wouldn't be a bit gloomy.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Five things...

Five things I've bought in the past few days:
1. Four different-coloured toy cars from the Children's Society shop.
2. A second-hand copy of Delia Smith's Frugal Food.
3. A pair of cord trousers and two sun hats for little man in the Ethel Austin clearance.
4. A rum truffle from the Devonshire Bakery (nothing to do with Devonshire!).
5. Booze. Well I will have bought this soon as I'm off to the pub. There have to be some perks to living with the parents, ie babysitting.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Yet another sleep post

The boy has stopped sleeping through. Since we went on holiday at the end of September I can count the number of times he has stayed in his own bed all night on one hand. When he's with me anyway, because daddy keeps telling me he sleeps fine when he's there. So perhaps that discounts the usual culprits, although he is teething (constantly) and he does have a very snotty nose (constantly).

Being the sensitive soul (read: cries lots) that he is, it's probably something to do with moving house and mummy being stressed. And due to crazy vendor it's going to be at least another three weeks before that can start to change. So I'm just about ready to join little man in a tantrum. Latest ones have been about: mummy refusing to get out from under the duvet to draw in the condensation on the window at 6.30am, mummy offering him an oatcake instead of a breadstick, mummy trying to write this instead of watching him put Postman Pat in his van. And take him out again. And put him in again....

Anyway, it's not all doom and gloom: it was highly amusing when my Bravissimo catalogue arrived and little man pressed the belly buttons of all the models, saying 'beep beep'.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Windy day at the seaside





New Brighton. Wirral. Not to be confused with Brighton, Sussex. Windy day. Turbines turning. Waves splashing over the prom wall. Interesting view of Liverpool's scrapyards. Container ships being guided into dock by tugs. Pigeons to be chased. Stones to be examined. New knitted mittens to be waved. All polished off with a fish and chip lunch, at which little man suddenly found his appetite, which meant we were all waiting for him to finish for a change.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

ça va?

I can now count a tower of ten blocks in French. I can sing Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes... in French. Apparently my pronunciation of body parts is very good (no sniggering at the back). Particularly for someone who gave up learning French at the age of thirteen. I can sing Frere Jacques, without fudging the bit about sunny lemon tinas. It's sonnez les matines don't you know.

As my dad kindly pointed out, little man can't yet do any of these things in English. But hey, he seemed to be having fun. Some people might think, 'What's the point in trying to teach a 20-month-old French?', others might think it's too pushy, middle-class parent.

Well, I don't sit around in the evening thinking about exactly what I want little man to learn, what would turn him into a child genius who will be passing A levels at the age of three and then find such a class, no matter how far I have to travel or how much I have to pay. And I realise he's not going to suddenly start saying 'Bonjour maman, je voudrais une pomme de terre, s'il vous plait.' (Look, I told you I gave it up aged thirteen!)

But, there's a group being run fifteen minutes' walk from my new house and we do like to go out and about and do fun things and see other people sometimes. And sing songs and do actions and draw and play. And it's free. It doesn't really matter exactly what the group is all about. It's fun and it won't do little man any harm if he does learn to say bonjour. And it's quite nice for mummy to learn something too.

All together now: Tete, epaules, genoux, pieds (genoux, pieds)...

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Voilà!

It's done! Contracts exchanged. Completion November 24. One month to get central heating installed, paint walls and ceilings (especially the blue ceiling in the bathroom), change some floorings and arrange my furniture to make it cosy for the festive season. Anyone know where I can get environmentally friendly, non-toxic carpet for the bedrooms at an affordable price?

I took little man for a walk down that way this morning to show him our new house. He fell asleep in the Storch before we got there. I thought the wind blowing up the Manchester Ship Canal was going to wake him up as we crossed the swing bridge to go and have a look at the Mersey, but he was well away. Until we wandered back up to the Bridgewater Canal and an angler said, 'You've got something growing out of your back.'

'It's a monster,' I replied, at which point he woke up, stuck his arm out and shouted 'bo' [boat]. Indeed there were lots of narrow boats moored up.

Much fun was also had at what will be my new children's centre. After being given a tour of the centre and chatting about what's on we booked the soft play area and little man had a great time climbing over everything, balancing on a big ball on his tummy then falling off and generally running about like a loon.

Tomorrow it's off to school. Ha ha. Here's me considering home education and I'm taking him to La Petite Ecole in the morning. I don't even speak French myself. If it's fun we'll give it a go.

Monday, 2 November 2009

An apology

All my inspiration and creativity is being sapped by the pointless anxiety caused by house purchasing. I was expecting to exchange contracts on my new house last Wednesday. It's now Monday evening and it still hasn't happened. And always at the back of my mind is the knowledge that the vendor doesn't really want to move. She is having to move, for some reason unknown to me, but doesn't actually want to leave this house. So I really hope she isn't changing her mind.

I have already visualised little man and I living in this house, throwing open the patio doors to the yard, getting proper storage sorted out for my filing and wool and pile-of-old-clothes-I'm-saving-for-the-fabric stash, strolling round the nature reserve five minutes' walk away on the banks of the Mersey, popping to the little play area just down the road, growing herbs on the windowledge and flowers on top of the back wall. I am eager to get settled, to establish new routines, to find time to see people from back oop north (ie Lancashire) as well as people where I am now.

And for a while now I have been thinking to myself that when I get settled down again I will: drink less, eat better, lose weight, get outdoors more, get a bike seat for little man, find a tai chi class, rewrite my match.com profile and start logging on again...

So although I know I shouldn't worry, because it's out of my hands and it's not a matter of life or death, I still am worried. My chi is not flowing, my aura is not glowing. And I'd like to apologise for that terrible rhyme.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Blogdom

I've just read through all the new posts in my favourite blogs list and it has set me thinking about so many things.

For a start, there's the fact that it's so easy in blogland to portray a perfect life in a perfect world where even the mishaps are just amusing little asides. We don't generally stop to take a picture when our little ones are bawling their eyes out, let alone post it on our blog. I hope we're all too busy comforting them or trying to work out what has sparked their tantrum. And we don't show the ugly bits surrounding our homes, just the selected picturesque bits.

We all have to do the mundane things like clean the toilet and take the rubbish out, but the only housework we write about tends to be the creative stuff like cooking lovely healthy meals and making wonderful repurposed environmentally friendly furnishings.

Most of us have to occasionally think about such things as insurance, drainpipes, toilets, cleaning the cooker, sorting out our filing and booking a dental check-up. But it takes a certain knack to make that into interesting reading.

I think I'm getting close to there being a point to my ramblings. And I think it's here: If I can work all this out, so can most folks. In which case, the idylls portrayed in people's blogs are not something to measure myself against and find myself falling short. I know they are snapshots of the best bits of people's lives or, alternatively, a cathartic kind of re-shaping and objectifying of the worst bits. In which case, the good bits can still be inspirational and the worst bits can be comradely in an oh-aren't-we-all-in-this-shit-together-at-the-end-of-the-day kind of way.

So, I will continue to edit the bad bits until they are almost amusing and edit my life until it is mostly good bits (this is challenging at the moment in a mundane, house-moving, lots of sources of pointless stress, need-to-get-divorced kind of way). And I will continue to read the good bits, bad bits and daft bits of what you all choose to write about.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Fed up now

Grrrr. Is it possible to move house without stress and hassle? It's all solicitors' letters, bills, delays, pettiness, paperwork, phone calls, more delays. I thought I might rant about the details, but I don't feel like it now. It's not important; it's just money and stuff, not people. And it will all be over and done with soon. Then I can get on with actually living instead of waiting.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Toddler business





Sir Whingealot putting in an appearance here. I've had a very busy day, here are a few of the things I did:

  • rode on a tractor with grandad.
  • walked back and to over a plank bridge.
  • talked to the chickens and showed them the wooden cockerel.
  • rode in the wheelbarrow.
  • picked and ate raspberries.
  • examined my new shells, put all the shells in a pan, then transferred them to a jug.
  • rode in the Yamo carrier to the library while grandma pushed the buggy to put the shopping in.
  • read lots of books and even put a few back on the shelves.
  • tried to eat my shoelaces whilst in the Yamo.
  • walked across a big bridge over the expressway.
  • clapped mummy and grandma's renditions of The Grand Old Duke of York and Jack and Jill.
  • examined some yellow leaves.
  • stirred the dinner.
  • impersonated a monkey.
  • gave myself a yoghurt face mask.
Mummy here: I'm amazed at the richness all the little things can bring to a toddler's life. They really don't need sophisticated toys to keep them happy. I'm also hoping such a busy, fresh-air filled day might just result in a good night's sleep for everyone...?

Waiting...

... until it's a reasonable time to go and pick up my boy. I think 7am is a bit early, although he's probably up. Then again, his daddy claims he has slept through and had lies-in (lie-ins?) while he has been there. I'm going to assume that means he wakes up with me because I'm so special he can't pass up the opportunity for extra cuddles. Maybe. Anyway, I'm missing him from his crazy curls to his ticklish toes.

While I have been child-free I have collected him some new shells: pink stripy snail shells from the Great Orme in Llandudno. It was a particularly, shall we say, exhilarating day with gale-force winds blowing the unmistakeable scent of goat across the hillside. And I have attempted to start knitting him another hat but I keep gaining or dropping stitches on the cabling and am now about to start my sixth attempt.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Big pointy teeth

'Mummy. Mummy. Mummy. Mummy.'

Ah, how all mothers long to hear that first word from their adorable little one. Last night, however, was the first time he has been articulate enough in the middle of the night to actually call for me in between sobs. He also very clearly signed for milk, which isn't surprising after his rejection of lunch and tea yesterday.

Bloody canine teeth. Bloody paracetamol spilt all down my pyjama leg because I was trying not to put the light on.

One canine has broken through, the other top one feels close, the bottom ones feel suspiciously lumpy too. He hasn't spent a full night in his own bed all week. But at least I get to sleep for a couple of nights now, as little man has gone to see daddy.

In other news, my house purchase is now ready to go ahead. My ground rent will be 98p a year. Not even sure why it's a leasehold; it's a mid terrace and three of the houses in the terrace are leasehold. New discoveries today: wool stall at Widnes Market (bought some to knit a doll, which is going to have boys' clothes) and a canalside walk near Daresbury (via some woods where there have supposedly been sightings of a big cat).

Friday, 23 October 2009

Bats and battiness

Little man said 'bat' today. He does like those b words. It helped that we were in the bat cave at Chester Zoo. We went with daddy, who got pooed on by a bat. My, how I chortled.

So there we were having a good time looking at the elephants twisting their trunks round each other, and the lions having a stroll together, and the orangutans hanging around, and little man screaming his way through lunch but then munching a banana and an oat and fruit bar as soon as we got outside again when I get a message to say I had missed a call.

Eventually I took the call. It was the estate agent. When could I drop the keys off? Er, according to my solicitor on Wednesday we hadn't even exchanged contracts yet due to a cock-up at the other end and so our expected Friday completion date wasn't going to happen. Now I'm suddenly being told at 2.30pm on that day that we have completed.

So I'm afraid the buyers will have to deal with the mess of broken crockery and spiders' webs complete with dead inhabitants left behind when STBE husband took the fridge, freezer and dishwasher (I don't need them). And I'm trying to get used to the fact that it's officially done and dusted. Now all I need is my new house. And some central heating in it.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

How to get lost in one's hometown

  1. Have a very long list of things to do.
  2. Send little man out to the shop with grandma.
  3. Find your way to the van hire place to hand in the accident form.
  4. Proceed to the old town and get slightly worried when the road you were going to take has been turned into a busway and the road you actually have to take used to be a busway last time you drove past it.
  5. Safely negotiate sea of no-entry signs to get into car park.
  6. Post the cloth nappies you've just sold on t'interweb.
  7. Do a spot of shopping and withdraw lots of cash to pay the estate agent.
  8. Leave for dad's allotment to check the chickens, taking the route that once again goes up a road that used to be a busway.
  9. Take the wrong turn off the expressway, drive past some architecturally interesting estates, eventually turn around and go back to take the correct exit.
  10. Check chickens, who are all sat on their perch complaining about their move, and try to tempt them out with some seeds and grain.
  11. Leave allotment, take wrong entry onto expressway and drive for a couple of miles before you can turn around and go back.

Interesting fact time: Runcorn had the first ever busway in the world or 'Buses as Rapid Transit' system when the new town was built in the 1960s. For anyone who doesn't know what a busway is, it's not a bus lane but an entire road system set aside only for buses.

I'm still assuming I will soon be a permanent resident here, despite the fact that some mortgage cock-up has delayed completion on our sale.

And now, it's off to bed to await the middle-of-the-night awakening that is accompanying the slow arrival of canines.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Empty

My house is now empty. The garage is not empty, but only because my buyers have put a lot of their furniture in there. My grandma's garage, on the other hand, is very full. It is full of my stuff. Including all the stuff that should have been binned years ago. And her spare bedroom is full of my mattress, settee, bedding etc. Fortunately, my grandma is currently in hospital. That may not sound fortunate, but she's had her hip replacement rebuilt so she doesn't have to wear a body brace for the rest of her life, so it is fortunate for her too. She's in her ninetieth year you know, as she likes to remind everyone at frequent intervals.

Unfortunately, I now have to sort through all the junk and get rid of stuff: freecycle, charity, tip. I have ditched the big box full of recipes that I ripped out of magazines years ago and meant to file. It was a very big box. Another thing: keys. Why are there always keys that don't fit any lock?

A small and not very amusing aside: I managed to twat the side of the Luton van I hired into the back corner of my parents' next door but one neighbours' car. Ho hum. I can't find it within myself to get very much more stressed. Particularly about a purely financial matter. And, obviously, they were parked really badly on a bend.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Cot death news

The latest news today is apparently that sleeping with your baby increases the risk of cot death. Now, I'm not going to tell anyone that they should or should not co-sleep. It's up to you, and anyone who reads this blog regularly will already know what I do.

My point is this: I don't think anyone should make a decision about their child's wellbeing based on what they have read or seen in the media.

And guess what? I'm a newspaper journalist.

The sad fact is that most media organisations do not invest enough in staffing to allow journalists to properly research stories and make sure they give an accurate, balanced view.

The BBC's online article about this story is actually rather contradictory. In one paragraph it says sharing a bed is a factor in 50% of cot death cases. In the next it says many of the deaths occurred when parent and child slept together on a sofa. Er? How can many of the 50% of deaths that occurred through sharing a bed have happened through sharing a sofa? A sofa and a bed are quite clearly very different things. Then there's the smoking, alcohol and sedating drugs angle....

Vaccinations, cot death, hygiene, nutrition, car seats... parents are bombarded with scare stories. My advice would be to take it all with a very large pinch of salt. And, for the important decisions, to do your research yourself by going to the source of the scare stories. At least the BBC makes it easy for you; there's a link to the British Medical Journal report of the study on the web page.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Night duty

I'm starting to get quite good at this co-sleeping malarkey. He hasn't really 'slept through' since before our holiday a couple of weeks ago. He has been snuffly, probably teething though it's hard to know, fidgety and generally unsettled. And I am sticking to the tried-and-tested three-step plan of grab child, stick him in my bed, go back to sleep. I'm starting to crack step three even when he is a bit fidgety, though I'm quite glad I get some nights when little man is staying with daddy and I know for sure I will not get woken up.


I'm generally managing to get to something past seven before he is gesturing very clearly that he wants out of his sleeping bag and making his 'dow' noise which means 'I want to go downstairs and have some cornflakes right now'.

I have told him we are going to live at grandma and grandad's for a while then going to live in a new house. I know he doesn't fully understand, but maybe when we have been at grandma and grandad's for a few days and I tell him again that we are staying it will ring a bell somewhere in his mind that tells him he already knew this.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Kicking leaves

Fun in the park today: kicking piles of leaves, chasing squirrels, making piles of sawdust whilst sitting on a perfect toddler's-bum-height log, watching diggers and dumper trucks.

Unfortunately, he is full of snot. I mean a really impressive amount when he sneezes. I have found a plug-in vaporiser refill in his drawer and hope it might help him breath tonight and avoid too much waking up. He slept for about an hour and a half at lunchtime, which is highly unusual, then slept again for half an hour in the car on the way home from grandma and grandad's just before teatime. And he was still tired at bedtime, although he needed a lot of cuddles before going to sleep tonight.

My current stress levels: around 80%. I'm expecting 99% by the weekend, when I'm moving most of my stuff out of the house and moving in with my parents. That will probably then drop to around 70% until it's time to move into my new house, when there will be another brief spike before everything settles down and I will embark upon an idyllic stress-free life of relaxing country strolls, knitting and baking.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Stuff, Stuff and more Stuff

The Children's Society shop in Runcorn is about to find its stock increasing. A lot. I have so much Stuff, despite not being a person addicted to the acquisition of Stuff.

This morning, in the couple of hours between going out for morning coffee (it's a figure of speech; I only drink tea) and going to work after lunch I had a sort-out in little man's room and my wardrobe.

I ditched the clothes that are too small for little man (and the clothes that are too small for me). I ditched toys, I ditched books, I ditched bedding. I ditched those boots that are about ten years out of fashion with heels that are about two inches too high (I find that babywearing and heels don't mix). But I kept the heeled shoes that I actually used to find really comfy for work and which may come in handy if I am ever required to look vaguely smart again. I wear jeans to work now, so yes, you may feel jealous. Though if you are a SAHM, I am jealous of you.

I ditched some old jumpers and then, in work this afternoon, rediscovered the blog post with this excellent pixie hat. I wonder now if little man is too old for it; being a boy the bonnet look might not work on him any more? But I have kept the too-small t-shirt that has a monkey design on the front which I'm going to cut out and applique on a new top.

My dad, meanwhile, managed yesterday to transport three compost bins full of lovely, rotting, nutritious-for-the-garden Stuff to his allotment, and, today, to sort out all the empty pots littering my garden. Little man helped him and got thoroughly dirty and damp. My mum has been shredder-in-chief. And has taken the rug home to wash which little man pooed on last night. Yay, one less shitty job for me!

Thursday, 8 October 2009

BLW: A year on


It occurred to me the other day that little man has been eating real food for more than a year now. Well, when the fancy takes him anyway. I've often wondered when you qualify as an 'oldie' on the forum; I think we must be there now.


So here's a round-up of today's eating shenanigans. Little man had a very restless night and was awake early so it was cornflakes (dry) at about quarter to seven, followed by blueberries, followed by a few bites of mummy's toast. And a few slurps of milk.


At Tiny Talk he did his usual trick of flashing a cute smile to get extra biscuits then had a banana too. At the supermarket he wanted to buy a melon, but we were only getting some lunch to share with allgrownup and her boy. Little man did have to have some of the baguette in the car on the way there though. He later tucked into houmous, pasta salad, bean salad, sliced chicken and cherry tomatoes but rejected the Lancashire cheese. Allgrownup's new daughter slept through it in her mummy's sling but got crumbs on her head.


Little man fell asleep in the car on the way home. And stayed asleep. After nearly an hour I got him out of the car thinking that would wake him up but that he had been in the car seat for quite long enough. He went back to sleep in my arms and we both snuggled on the sofa for another hour. Consequently, he was having a snack of raisins at 4.30pm when he woke up, as I started to cook tea.


Tea was a phased affair. He started opening cupboards and demanding breadsticks, so I put on the peas and sweetcorn far too early and we had those first. Ten minutes later potato wedges were ready - he has now decided he eats potato after several months of avoiding it in any form. Ten minutes after that lamb kofta meatballs in tomato sauce from the local butcher's were finally cooked through but he only wanted a couple of mouthfuls by then. Yoghurt for pudding, which went all down the front of his clean jumper as usual; I should know better by now. And a few grapes.


So there you go... one year on and I no longer worry about all the things that used to seem so important: precise timings, quantities, nutritional balance at every single meal, why he won't eat broccoli (A BLW sin), and when on earth he is going to stop making such a bloody mess...

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Five things...

...that are stressing me out right now:
1. Moving house.
2. Moving house.
3. Moving house.
4. Moving house.
5. Moving house.

That'll be all the stuff to be packed, the chickens to be moved, all the organisations I have to inform, the small chance that everything could still fall through and the mystery over how little man will take it all. Ok, more than five: wondering if my new house will be ok, worrying about little man getting less attention while I'm trying to sort everything out, wanting to get my name down on the allotment waiting list right now, feeling too tired in the evenings to get anything useful done and hoping that the old asbestos-based roof tiles in the new house will last a bit longer.

It looks like I have a little over two weeks to completion day. So most of the rest of life is going on hold. And I'm thinking of my favourite shade of Ecos paint: Bengt, from the Swedish range.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Holiday best and worst


Back to the holiday. The best bits:
  • The 'giant jumping pillow' at Mabie Farm Park near Dumfries. Obviously the grown-ups had to go on it to make sure the little ones were safe....
  • The ridiculous size of the farmhouse we stayed at, with a choice of four 'reception rooms', although we generally just camped in the kitchen-dining room with the Aga.
  • Chocolate cake, chocolate fudge cake, chocolate brownies, sticky toffee pudding with ice cream, carrot cake, Victoria sponge.
  • Proper darkness at night, bats, peace and quiet apart from the night when we could apparently hear army manoeuvres. Oh, and the night of the gale.
  • Having someone to amuse little man while I went for a shower.
  • Little man almost getting to the point where he was playing with his little friends instead of just being possessive over toys and mummies.
  • The emergence of new words with the help of those little friends. He is now proficient at saying 'tea', makes a pretty good attempt at 'tractor' and says nor-nee nor-nee instead of nee-nor nee-nor for all emergency vehicles. Although mainly he just said his favourite phrase: 'mee-mummy'.

The worst bits:

  • Little man waking up and crying lots, every night, which led to lots of co-sleeping, which led to him falling out of bed for the first time despite it being two singles pushed together. No harm done; He snuggled into the piled-up pillows and nearly went back to sleep.
  • The 80-year-old toilet that wouldn't flush unless you lifted the lid of the cistern and delved in the water to jiggle the lever.
  • The darkness when you don't know where the light switches are and you have to carry your little one downstairs on a hunt for paracetamol, which you obviously can't remember the location of.
  • For little man, having to bathe with two other tots. He didn't actually have to, but we thought they might find it fun. He didn't. He tried to climb out.
  • Running out of red wine one night.
  • Having to come home.

We were staying at North Milton Farmhouse, three miles south of Kirkcudbright, in Dumfries and Galloway.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Life laundry

I know I'm supposed to be telling you about my holiday, but instead I'm going to tell you about the contents of my garage. Bet you can't wait.

I need to empty it. Fast. We're looking at two to three weeks before I move house. And it is a double garage that was until recently very full of Stuff. Lots of Stuff. Now, I'm not keen on Stuff, but while it has been in the garage it has been easy to ignore for the past seven years. Here's some of the highlights:

  • My record collection of 80s and early 90s rock, goth and indie albums. It's about to be listed on eBay... The only one I'm keeping is The Levellers. Which, bizarrely, I heard on the radio in a shop yesterday.
  • My 1989 stereo with record player. I plugged it all in and it actually works. I've had three offers on freegle for it already.
  • A drawer full of old newspaper cuttings. I mean stories I wrote, not ones about me! Recycled, as I am not planning on ever writing for a newspaper again and I'm not sure that front pages about the latest big thing to hit Congleton would be particularly helpful anyway.
  • That Ikea china teaset that I bought years ago with the idea of giving it to one of my nieces with some ceramic paints but never got round to it. One for little man in a year or two.
  • An old pair of brown Doc Martens, two pairs of hiking boots that seem too small, two pairs of old, scuffed black shoes and one pair of adjustable crampons (used twice). Crampons freegled, decent footwear to charity, knackered ones binned.
  • Payslips from when I worked weekends at Comet as a student many years ago. Shredded and composted.
  • A mouse nest made from the nylon of my comfy camping chair. The one that was stored on top of a cupboard about seven feet off the ground but obviously too close to the roof timbers.

What I can't find is the electric cable for the exercise bike I would like to eBay. And what I'm glad I didn't find is another flat mouse, like last time I ventured to do any sorting out in the garage.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Our holiday: the overview

Our holiday at a massive farmhouse near Kirkcudbright, Dumfries and Galloway. In brief: beaches, woods, farms, tractors, diggers, nee-nor nee-nor or nor-nee nor-nee depending on which little one you listened to, sun, rain, gales, sand in everything, tea and cake, wine, Aga cooking, knitting, crafty places, castles, boats, whinging, scuffles over toys, scuffles over mummies, falling out of bed for the first time and very broken nights every single night due to the imminent arrival of canines.

More to come when I have caught up on some sleep...

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Off we go

When I wrote my pledge I said I wouldn't leave you for more than three days without a post. I forgot about holidays. Maybe I will find somewhere with internet access, maybe I won't. Maybe if I do, I'll be too busy making sandcastles anyway. So it's bye for now. And little man says 'bebabebabeba tea!'

Time for the last-minute packing...

Friday, 25 September 2009

Packing

I packed little man's suitcase for a week away this morning. He unpacked it because he wanted to put monkey and Timmy the Tiger (small but fierce) in the suitcase. I piled up my clothes on my bed, ready to pack; little man distributed them around the room. I tried to pack some food; little man demanded the raisins and breadsticks ('tick, tick'). I tried to get him to doze off in front of the TV - well it's only once in a while! He was almost there then he sprang up again. We had to go out in the car to get him to sleep. While he was parked on the drive I got some packing done. After he woke up, I got him out of the car and gave him a cuddle. He fell asleep snuggled up on me for another three quarters of an hour. A very cosy reminder of when he was tiny, but it didn't help to Get Things Done.

After lunch I threw him out the back door to play with the chickens (who are all looking in a very sorry state due to moulting). Well, actually I just put his shoes on and opened the door, knowing he would immediately go outside. I got some more packing done.

Then the cavalry arrived. Grandma and grandad, all ready to take little man for a walk to the shop so I could empty all the junk out of my car, get a large pan of bolognese sauce on the go and engage brain to think of all the things I would need to take for a week in a cottage in south-west Scotland.

I try to include little man in the things that have to be done in what constitutes everyday life for us. And I understand that this means things will get done more slowly and not always at the time I planned to do them. But sometimes it's nice to have someone else to play with him when there are things that really have to be done on a certain day.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Little man's status updates



Little man:


  • had a strop because his fake eggs kept falling out of their fake box as he slammed his fake shopping trollery around.
  • had a strop because mummy wouldn't let him drop a fake egg in a real cup of milk.
  • had a dance.
  • ran away at the first sight of trousers, as usual.
  • tried to stamp on all the piles of cornflakes as mummy swept them up.
  • flirted his way to extra biscuits at Tiny Talk. Again.
  • is pleased that mummy bought a melon at the supermarket but wanted to eat it right there and then.
  • appeared in the garden with a large handful of oatcakes apparently intent on feeding them to the chickens.
  • fed the chickens a spare courgette.
  • said 'no' quite clearly for the first time ever when mummy suggested he might like to finish his oatcake instead of demanding breadsticks.
  • said 'stick', meaning breadstick.
  • stirred a pot of four-day old tea.
  • emptied all the dirty clothes out of the washing basket so he could climb into it instead.
  • ate the end piece of the garlic clove mummy was chopping.
  • grated some Parmesan.
  • didn't notice when mummy skipped several pages of his bedtime books. Cackle.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

It's a boy!

Well, actually at first it's really just a baby. Not much difference apart from the tendency for boys to wee in your face as soon as you remove their nappy. STBE husband and I had thought of him as a her. Only because all family and friends who have had babies in the past few years have had girls. We decided to find out the sex at the anomaly scan and were a bit stunned to be told it was a boy. Not disappointed. Just surprised.

He is now developing behaviours that could be described as 'boyish': an inability to pass a stick without picking it up and whacking something with it, a need to be physically on the move, a love of splashing in puddles. Then again, he loves a big hug, cuddles his fluffy toys, enjoys looking at books and gives kisses out freely. He's both adventurous and affectionate, boisterous and cuddly.

But I am starting to ponder how you go about bringing up a boy so he can carry on being all of those things. Not the type of teenage lad you see walking down the street at school hometime who oozes surliness and aggression. How do you bring up a boy to be a decent sort of person? One who can be strong and confident, but caring and thoughtful too. How do you steer a boy through childhood so he doesn't become one of the mini thugs... but also so he doesn't get picked on by them?

Monday, 21 September 2009

Artless child


It is little man's daddy's birthday on Wednesday. I have been trying to get little man to do some artwork to make into a card. With little success.
This is the result from the finger paints, and only after I dragged his hand around to make the prints. I tried chalk, but he decided to walk off into the garden with it. I tried crayons but he tried to eat them and showed much more interest in taking them out of the box then putting them back in the box. He's really not yet into art. He doesn't like to sit still for that long and I don't think it has occurred to him that he can create an image of something familiar on paper.
I think I'll have another try before bathtime with the paints when the mess will be easy to clean up. He is now trying to bash the keyboard. It's a shame I can't make an artwork out of his bashing, although I have just discovered babysmash thanks to FLP. Lets little one bang on the keyboard without breaking the computer.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Five things...

...that I like about autumn:
1. The colours, obviously.
2. The contrast between warm days and cool nights.
3. Misty mornings and dew on spiders' webs.
4. Fat, juicy blackberries.
5. The drawing-in-ness of it all.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Obsession

My latest knitting project. Never mind that I should be knitting a gift for allgrownup's new baba, or that there are still three months to go before I'll be putting my tree up. These lovely mini stockings will be adorning my tree, hopefully in my new home. I used what yarn I had, which is why the green is minty rather than forest. Acknowledgements go to http://littlecottonrabbits.typepad.co.uk/free_knitting_patterns/ for the pattern. I'm planning some little gold bells on the back of them. Right now I'm considering knitting a couple more, I think twelve would be a good number, even though I'm supposed to be sorting out my paperwork and packing boxes.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Wears the baby...

I'll admit it was the Bringing up Baby programme that first alerted me to the existence of baby slings other than the very limited selection in the standard baby shops. And then it was my own bloody mindedness that made me want to do something different to what the vast majority of parents do. Since then I have owned... let me think... er, ten different slings. I now have just five of those, having sold some on.

So yes, it is addictive. Especially with such a friendly sling group near me in Preston. Look at http://www.slingmeet.co.uk/ to find your nearest. Great help when you're learning how to chuck your child on your back in a manner that makes bystanders gasp in shock.

But it's also wonderful. Little man gets to be up at adult level and people talk to him and include him much more than if he was down in a pushchair. He got closeness and security in the early days that I think has now helped him to be very adventurous and confident. I get to go for walks without worrying about terrain, stiles, gates, mud. I get to go through shop doorways with ease and along narrow pavements without risking life and limb going into the road. And because I've always carried him, his increasing weight isn't a problem... yet.

I'm not a purist though. I was, in fact, spotted this week pushing him back from the shop in a buggy. I just needed somewhere to put the shopping!

Thursday, 17 September 2009

My baby book journey

It started with Gina Ford. Oh yes. Oh no! My sister-in-law had raved about it. So I read it. I thought to myself, you've got to be joking. It is all about putting your baby in a routine, big style. It even tells you when you, as a new mother, can have a piece of toast. To the minute. I'm sure that in the small print somewhere it says you should adapt the routines to suit your baby but the message is clear: your baby should fit into the method, not vice versa.

Someone at a pregnant mums do suggested the Baby Whisperer as a more flexible way of doing things. Maybe it works for some, but for me it just seemed a bit wishy washy. And when I had the baby and was thinking about implementing it it also seemed full of holes.

Next up was the Sears Attachment Parenting book. I read this a few months after he was born and it felt more like it. I was already carrying little man in a sling a lot, because it calmed his fussing and crying. Unfortunately, I also wished I had read it earlier because I had missed the chance to get used to co-sleeping and by then it was never really going to happen. Not if I was going to get any sleep anyway. It also added to the guilt about failing to breastfeed.

I also read the Continuum Concept, which is quite heavy going. It's more of an academic study than a how-to. I liked some of the ideas, but I also thought to myself that I was never going to actually be able to replicate the community life of a rainforest tribe and that rainforests don't have the same dangers to worry about as we do (fast roads being the biggie).

And now? I think I've finally forgotten enough of what I read to be able to do what feels right without worrying that it's not what the book says. Of course, now I have to start on the discipline theories...

Having your first baby is just such a bewildering experience in our society that you find yourself grabbing for some theory to make sense of it all, some foolproof method that tells you what to do. And whichever end of the baby care spectrum you look at, you can always find some expert and some scientific study backing it up. The fact is, it's very hard to know what a baby is feeling or what lasting effects our actions towards them will have. And so it's easy to impose theories on them. Our only alternative is to try to be in tune with them, imagine what it's like to be a small, helpless being who can't communicate its needs clearly. I think what we'd imagine is wanting to be cuddled.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Sir Whingealot saddles up

Clippety clop, clippety clop, neigh, snap.

Little man has taken a distinct interest in horses today, although we haven't seen any real ones. He was galloping the plastic ones on the 'farm' at play group, then the wooden one that's part of a jigsaw at home. We sang horsey, horsey a couple of times and he recognises my sign for horse but I don't think many 18-month-olds could actually do the sign themselves. I'll have to remember to tell grandma and grandad to take him to the cafe at the horsey shop where he can sit on a life-size model one.

Crocodiles have also featured, with little man getting really into the snap, snapping with his arms. Apparently, the kitchen tongs are also a crocodile. And if there were really crocodiles in the stream he would have been all gobbled up because he fell in the water with a splash about two dozen times.

Unfortunately, we have also had major whinging today too. To the extent that I gave him a dose of paracetamol without really knowing why. Just that he wouldn't entertain the idea of having lunch, cried his eyes out instead and just wanted to sit on my knee for a cuddle whilst sobbing. Maybe he's got my cold, maybe it's teeth, maybe attempting to learn to talk is frying his brain. Whatever it is it didn't bother him in the slightest while we were at play group or when I took him out to the park and shop this afternoon. Just when we were at home, just the two of us. Isn't that always the way?

Monday, 14 September 2009

My pledge

To my loyal readers. All 15 of you...


I will:
  • Tell you about my mundane life in minute detail until your eyes roll back in your head and you think to yourself 'why aren't I doing something useful right now?'.
  • Palm you off with 'five things' when I don't have enough time to write something properly.
  • Leave out the very dullest and most prosaic things to make myself look more interesting.
  • Correctly use apostrophes. Even the odd semicolon.
  • Use vulgarities and expletives as I would in real life.
  • Be completely contradictory within and between posts, as illustrated by the first and third pledges.

I will not:

  • Review stuff just because the great big PR/marketing machine in the sky gave it me for free. The best freebie I ever had was a big boat on the River Shannon for a week and it also gave me the most terrifying, fear-of-drowning-in-my-bed night of my life. As well as my first taste of vinegar disguised as wine. I feel a reminiscence post coming on.
  • Ever preach the virtues of doing something to your child that feels wrong just because a book/self-appointed expert says you should.
  • Spare you the unsavoury details out of politeness. We are talking baby poo, the odd puke, menstruation, birth, more baby poo. Like the one that rolled out of the nappy and on to the living room floor today... I thought to myself, that would be really funny if I didn't have to clear it up.
  • Leave you for more than three days without a post unless I am moving house or have found a hunky new fella who looks like Han Solo, Edward Cullen, Aragorn, Robin Hood Jonas Armstrong style, Maximus Decimus Fartypantius and that bloke who works in Bargain Booze all rolled into one.
  • Lie, make stuff up or in any other way directly deceive.
  • Stay up after 10pm in order to post.

What, just, how, what, aaarrrgghhh...

If I'd wanted to be a juggler I'd have joined a bloody circus. As it is I'm more likely to flinch if someone chucks a ball at me than actually catch it. I will be very glad when I am no longer juggling house moving, mortgage obtaining, insurance interviews and attempting to offload possessions which won't fit in my new home with all the usual stuff like looking after my boy, earning the means to live in our capitalist society, buying the occasional item of fresh food and keeping my car tyres pumped up. I have visions of my beautifully simple future life in my beautifully-but-cheaply spruced-up new little house.

However, today has gone so far into the realms of surreality that I cannot actually be stressed about it. Just bewildered. The STBE in-laws came to do a job in the loft that STBE husband said needed doing. FIL apparently did it and they went. Twenty minutes later they were back. He had forgotten to do something. He had also left his glasses behind. He did the something he had forgotten to do, got his glasses and they left. Some time later... maybe half an hour?... they returned. Yes, for a third visit. I think there may have been a conversation with STBEH in which it turned out FIL hadn't done what STBEH wanted him to do. So FIL went back into the loft and did something else. By now it is 6pm. Wind-down time. A bit of TV, milk, bath, bedtime books. ILs left at 7.15. I finally settled little man down by 8pm by snuggling up in my bed with him until he was fast asleep then moving him to his cot. Which has left it a bit late to think about doing some packing in the back bedroom/junk room, which is what I was going to do tonight.

All I can say is: WTF?

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Autumn mist

Accompanied by the sort of blackbird song that happens only in the darker months of the year. And by me springing out of bed at 7am thinking I feel much better. Must attempt to still take things easy. To the left of the picture, you can see my silver birch tree, planted shortly after we moved in nearly seven years ago. It's one of the things I will miss most about my garden when I move. But my new home, assuming everything runs smoothly, does have a view of a birch from the back windows and yard.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Duvet day

I'm having a duvet day. It's horrible. And not because I am ill.

In fact, I am a bit ill. Terrible cold. Had to tell work I wouldn't be in today even though, as a casual worker, I don't get sick pay. I sneezed so much and so hard yesterday that my ribs ache and I have pinched a nerve that is making my elbow sore. I know, it's hard to get a sore elbow from a cold virus. I also had to cry off a morning where STBE husband and I were both going to take little man to the park before daddy has him for the weekend. I guess, though, it was a good job daddy was having today as his day off work as it meant he could pick little man up at 8.30am.

I went back to bed at about nine and didn't wake up until one. And now, of course, I feel terribly groggy as you do when you sleep in too long. Other things are also contributing to my general feeling of gloom: I didn't enjoy having a bath because it was at 2pm and I didn't enjoy my pizza because it was at 3pm. And having flicked through the TV channels I am left wondering how the hell anyone watches this stuff: a very badly acted film version of Henry V complete with cardboard scenery, property programmes where people think they'll be happy if they retire to a part of Spain they've never even been to before, ads for mascara that comes with a vibrating brush. What?

My remedy to all this is to go for a wee walk. Just as soon as the school run rush has dissipated.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Chicken!

Little man's baby signing for chicken continues to evolve. He used to do a cute kind of shrug, pulling his elbows back. Now it's full-on wing flapping. He has also finally started to do a sign for cow, after months of mooing at the merest sight of one pictured on a teapot or a packet of cheese.
He still very rarely signs to let me know he wants something, ie food, drink, milk, nap. Ha, as if he would sign for a nap when I have to walk or drive him to sleep every time! But it's nice to know what he's interested in and he does sometimes sign for dogs or aeroplanes when I hadn't noticed them.
If you look closely you'll see he has a stick in one hand and an empty snail shell in the other. Just before I took this pic he was jamming the stick between two paving slabs, then balancing the shell on top and trying to spin it round.
And talking of snail shells, I've just remembered there's a squashed snail on the dining room floor. When I shut the patio doors I caught a bit of the creeper in the door and there was evidently a snail on it. Its squashed remains caught me on the arm as they fell to the floor with a crispy, shelly thud.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

She's trying to poison me

Sir Whingealot Farty Pants here. Mummy is trying to poison me. She gave me chunks of some strange orange squishy stuff for tea with what she claimed was bacon and Parmesan on top. Now I know what bacon and Parmesan look like, and it's nothing like what we had for tea. Anyway, I sensibly filled up beforehand on some seedy things she had roasted in the oven, and some raw beansprouts left over from last night's stir-fry veg mix. Also, I've gone another day without filling my nappy so, frankly, I don't feel like eating much now. My other news today is that I chased some ducks, watched some fish and played with some friends.

Mummy here. Actually it was roasted butternut squash with a topping of creme fraiche, bacon and Parmesan stuck back in the oven until it was all browned and yummy. And my other news is that I think I can actually get a mortgage and have now put in my application. And I'm dreading a repeat performance of the night I had last week with the restless octopus if little man is having tummy issues.

Monday, 7 September 2009

All together now...

Today's songs:

  • Incy wincy spider (with signing) prompted by pictures of spiders in the Garden Wildlife book and the Borises on the living room ceiling.
  • Row, row, row your boat, with all modern verses, including the one where little man does his version of a very timid lion, and ending in an upside-down splash. He then repeatedly throws himself backwards.
  • Twinkle twinkle little star, with little man suddenly knowing how to do the actions despite this not being one of our regulars.
  • Dingle dangle scarecrow, prompted by pictures of two scarecrows in that damned Tractor book and by me trying to remind him of the scarecrow festival he went to at the weekend, although he didn't seem too impressed by the real thing.
  • The Makka Pakka song. I feel it is quite an achievement to know the words, if they can be called words.

Some parents are apparently too embarrassed to sing to their children. Or just too downright miserable. I even met a mother at a playgroup once who left early because it was suggested that we could sing some songs to finish the session. 'I don't sing,' she said, and that was that. I think it is very sad for her four young children. I stayed and learnt the song about a worm at the bottom of the garden.

In other news: I've had my offer accepted on a house, just need a mortgage now, and I burnt my thumb and had to eat my dinner with it stuck in a glass of cold water.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

No, stop it, don't do that

A selection of my requests of little man today:

'Leave the berries for the birds.'
'Stay on the pavement.'
'Hold mummy's hand while we're near the road.'
'Sit down please.'
'Let mummy help.'
'Be gentle.'
'Leave that alone please.'
'Put the box back in the cupboard please.'
'Put the clothes back in the drawer please.'
'Will you have an oatcake instead?'

As opposed to: 'no, no, no, don't, don't, don't, stop it, be careful, get off, not for you, not a toy'.

I don't think the brain really likes negatives. It's like the old 'don't think of a blue giraffe' thing. You immediately think of a blue giraffe. But it's sometimes hard to think of a way to say something in a positive manner without it sounding contrived. And if he's about to do something dangerous of course I yell stop in a tone of voice that will hopefully get his attention. And hopefully because he doesn't hear it all the time it might have some effect. And yes I do usually end up putting the cereal box back in the cupboard and the clothes back in the drawer myself. And the best solution to little man trying to eat the berries on the holly bush next to a log he likes sitting on was for grandad to dig up the holly bush and take it to auntie and uncle's garden.

Friday, 4 September 2009

One of those days?...

Well it could have been. It started some time in the middle of the night when little man was gently crying and I decided to instigate my sophisticated three-step night-waking plan: grab child, stick him in bed with me, go back to sleep. Unfortunately my strategy is not 100% proven to overcome child's minor discomforts. I think he was constipated. He hadn't filled his nappy all day despite usually being a two-a-day guy. He had eaten two bananas the previous day... Sorry if this is TMI but another blog I read recently had a photo of one child's achievements in the potty!

Anyway, little man fidgeted, whimpered, turned over, turned back again, flung his arms out, turned sideways in bed, climbed on me and generally stopped either of us getting any sleep. At 4.30am I'd had enough and turned to Calpol and a bottle of milk. Little man had some too, ha ha. Once the sedative effect kicked in he went to sleep and we were good til 7am. I must point out that I also have some kind of sniffly, sneezy thing going on that had stopped me getting to sleep when I went to bed at a sensible 10pm.

So here we are, it's something past seven, I can only open one eye at a time, I'm sneezing violently and I'm struggling to make a cup of tea with little man in one arm. He then proceeds to do a series of minor things that all test my patience. I finally stick the telly on so I can have a third cup of tea. When Timmy Time finishes I realise it is gone 9am, we are both still in our pyjamas and little man is probably nearly ready for his first nap of the day.

My first plan failed: We got dressed and went out for a drive long enough to get him to sleep, then I planned to lift him oh-so-gently out of the car with the aim of us both going for a nap in bed. Oh no, he woke up as soon as I undid his car seat harness.

Plan B: Go to the zoo (Chester).

He had a nice sleep on the way there, the weather was better than expected, it was exciting enough for us both to overcome the groggy feeling and I have a membership card so it didn't cost anything extra. We roared at the lion and lioness, we giggled at the bright little fish, we played spot the butterfly and we measured little man up against a model rhino. He walked or sat on my hip seat, which gave him a much better view of everything than if he had been semi-reclined in a buggy the whole time...

Coincidentally, we had popped in at grandma and grandad's for lunch on the way there. They weren't in. Guess where they were? At the zoo. No, we didn't bump into each other!

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Sending out big hugs...

I seem to know a fair few people at the moment who are having pregnancy problems! So first of all I want to send big hugs to them all, especially to allgrownup who has had her c-section postponed despite severe SPD.

Little man has enjoyed some good puddle splashing today. We managed a walk into town to get the ingredients for tea without getting rained on. He slept in the buggy; it was too windy for the sling as I couldn't have held an umbrella up over us. But as soon as we got back it bucketed down. Again. So when it stopped he got his wellies on and we went off to show grandma and grandad his favourite puddles in the alleyways behind our street. As soon as we got back home, it chucked it down again.

It has rained an awful lot in the last ten days or so and although I try not to whinge about the weather, I've had enough of it now. It hasn't just been showers. It has been absolute downpours accompanied by strong winds sweeping into the back of my house straight off the Irish Sea and over the Lancashire lowlands. I think it's about time we had some of those cool, misty early autumn mornings with dew on spiders' webs followed by warm sunny days that can still ripen blackberries and then cool clear evenings when it's nice to put on a jumper and get cosy.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Playgroup

Little man doesn't really play with other children yet. But he doesn't mind playing alongside them. As long as he doesn't think they're going to make a grab for whatever precious toy he has hold of. He won't be going to nursery if I can help it, so conventional wisdom tells me I have to take him to groups where he can get used to being with other children.

This morning he squidged a bit of playdough, pushed a toy buggy, trundled some trains round the track but got scared by a shrieky girl, found a squashy penguin, sucked on some toy bottles, threw some balls, looked at the fish tank and sat at the table for a snack of apple slices and cheese cubes. He also spent quite a lot of time playing on his own or with me in the 'quiet corner'. It's where they put the breastfeeding posters, but I have yet to see anyone doing it there. He liked playing with the furry cushions, especially when we pretended the black and yellow stripy one was a bee. He liked tucking dolly up in bed. Then he liked running across the room, between all the other children and all the other activities, and into my arms so I could throw him in the air.

He even tried to brush up but I had to tell him that the signs say parents are supposed to keep their children out of the kitchen area. Where the 'real' things are.

I'm now trying to decide whether to buy him various things: a toy buggy, a miniature dustpan and brush as the full-size ones really are a bit unwieldy for him, play pots and pans, a teaset, a rag doll (I might work out how to make one). Dare I say it?... Christmas will be here soon!

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Ouch

My achievements today:
  • Got stung by a wasp for the first time ever. It was on the front door handle when I was traipsing in and out of the house with the unsold car boot sale stuff. Got me on my index finger. At least I now know I'm not allergic.
  • Had lots of lovely cuddles and kisses from my little man, who I didn't see from Thursday afternoon until I got in from work last night.
  • Noticed little man nearly has a new tooth. At 18 months he has: four front ones and two premolars at the top and two front ones and two premolars at the bottom. Think he's getting the other bottom fronts.
  • Ate about three times my recommended calorific and fat intake due to a mid morning visit to McDonald's drive thru (in Skem, oh yes I really know how to live it up), lunch out at Farmer Ted's and afternoon tea and cake at the nice cafe by the canal in Parbold. I blame a certain friend...
  • Saw the centre of Skem for the first time ever and was unpleasantly reminded of Runcorn new town, which is very close to where I will be moving soon.
  • Filled in all the boring paperwork that the solicitor needs to get on with the house sale.
  • Listened to some more Winnie the Pooh and realised it's probably very overdue at the library.
  • Broke my new vow to only log on to my computer once a day.

Apologies for not blogging so much over the weekend, it was a bit hectic with work and car booting. Made £70-odd quid so it was worth it, if a bit of an ordeal of haggling, grubbiness and being told you could buy the same thing cheaper down the market. Yes, but it's not Marks & Spencer's quality is it?! I still have a lot of baby clothes I now need to bundle up and stick on eBay. Oh, and does anyone want to buy a fairly posh exercise bike?

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Things to do

I have a lot of things to do, which is good because it takes my mind off the fact that I haven't seen my son for three days and won't see him until I get in from work tomorrow. It's the longest I have been without him, but daddy wanted to take him camping and I am sure they are having a lovely time together. As for me, I am working, tidying and car booting. And sitting here on my backside on the settee when I should be cleaning the kitchen. And looking at pictures of my little man and missing his cuddles.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

No child and no work...



Leaf tea, made in the pot. Milk served in a Doidy cup because my milk jug got broken a while ago.




Knitting without anyone trying to grab my needles.


A glass of wine. Nothing special. Except that I've been able to put it down on the floor next to where I'm sitting.



A supermarket ready meal. Not so brilliant, but I couldn't be bothered to cook for one. Eaten on my lap in front of the telly.




Adverts on the telly. We don't watch much telly and I don't like little man to see adverts. I'm sure other people who look after him sometimes are not so scrupulous. Anyway, I haven't seen much telly for ages either and had forgotten how annoying the ads are.

Little man has gone camping in North Wales with daddy.















































Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Squishy




Been meaning to do this for ages: make some play dough. So thanks to Makes Cakes & Bakes for a recipe. It kept him amused for a while. Only once did a little bit approach his mouth and I stopped him in time: the recipe is very heavy on the salt. And sorry mum but you can't play with it, you'd probably explode on contact as the colours are all totally artificial.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Beebabeebabeebabeeba

'Say bee ba Ben.'
'Beebabeebabeebabeeba.'
'Bee ba Ben.'
'Beebabeebabeebabeeba.'
'Look, there's a cow.'
'Mooooo.'

'Can you bring parrot to mummy?'
(Brings parrot to mummy.)
'Put the mug back in the cupboard please.'
(Puts the mug back in the cupboard.)
'Would you like cornflakes or hoops?'
(Points to hoops.)
'Kiss for mummy?'
(Looms at mummy's face with slobbery mouth.)

'Muummmee, muuummmmee, maaameee.'
'Yes Ben?'
'Muummmee, muuummmy, maaameee.'
'Yes Ben?'

One day he's going to start talking. And when that happens I don't think he's going to stop.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Sold


Join me in a victory dance... I have sold my house. In just four weeks. Well, I've accepted an offer anyway. Fingers crossed it all goes through smoothly and little man and I shall be moving to sunny Cheshire soon. Of course, everyone we know in Lancashire is invited to come down for a cuppa whenever.
One of the properties I have my eye on in Runcorn has been reduced to a ridiculous £59,950 because it's a repossession. But that means it will probably be long gone before I'm in a position to buy it. (The banks give you a deadline of about 21 days between making an offer and exchanging contracts; they also continue to actively market the property in that time increasing the chance of you being gazumped.)
Anyway, we're a step closer to getting settled again, which is brilliant news.