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


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


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 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 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


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


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


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?