Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Bed hopping

Before I get on to the subject of sleep, and the lack thereof, I just have to tell you that today in the park, little man rubbed two sticks together and declared that he had made fire. No idea where that has come from. I think he's been secretly watching Ray Mears.

Anyway, sleep. I like it. A lot of it. Pre-child I would happily go to bed at 9pm and get up around 7am. Then there was all the usual baby shenanigans. At ten months, he 'slept through' for the first time and gradually started to do so quite reliably. For months - maybe seven or eight. I allowed myself to be lulled into a false sense of security, congratulate myself for never having considered any sleep training methods when he was a baby and came to believe that he would continue to sleep twelve hours straight for ever.

Yeah, right. He's a toddler. He still has one tooth to come. He's learning to talk. He's trying to work out what it's all about. It being the meaning of life and other momentous issues such as why mummy's bracelets always fall off his arm. Sometimes he wakes up thirsty. Usually he just wants a cuddle, and who can blame him? That's why I'm all for co-sleeping, in theory.

Unfortunately, he's fidgety and I'm a light sleeper, which is not a good combination. And I find that a tired mummy is one less able to remain patient in the face of toddler upsets and pestering. So after a few months of putting up with his arrival in my bed in the middle of the night, I've started returning him to his own bed. A couple of times he has bounced straight back up again, but he hasn't yet persisted enough to turn it into an issue. In general, I try to avoid anything becoming an 'issue' because you only start worrying about it and questioning what you're doing wrong. So we'll see how the current approach goes. And I'll try to go to bed early too, just in case.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

First amendment

I have just checked, and in a post about a year ago I did promise not to leave you for more than three days without a post. A promise I have repeatedly broken recently. And because I am me, I actually remembered the original pledge and feel bad for not sticking to my word.

So I'm having to make an amendment: I will not leave you for more than three days without a post unless: a) my brain is functioning at less than twenty per cent capacity because of the small person's night-time fidgetings; b) there is something worth watching on the telly; or, c) I am too busy ogling the video for Biffy Clyro's The Captain.

(a) is probably my most likely excuse and will no doubt result in a post some time soon.
(b) is unlikely to occur now that Spartacus, the only thing I was bothering to tune in for, has finished.
(c) may happen on occasion when hormones demand it.

As for my other pledges, I'm glad to have confirmed to myself that I am keeping most of them. Particularly in terms of not sparing you the expletives or any unsavoury details concerning such things as menstruation, puke or toddler poo and in being utterly contradictory at all times.

Monday, 16 August 2010

A woman's work...

I've volunteered to work an extra day from September. Obviously this goes against all my principles of simple (cheap) living, anti-corporatism and general idleness. It means I'll be working Sunday to Wednesday afternoons and evenings. The work was there; I thought I might as well make a bit of extra money while I can. I need to boost my car replacement fund. I should probably set up a private pension. I'd like a woodburning stove. And an electric guitar. I don't have any job security since I don't have a contract so it makes sense to take the cash now in case it's not there in a few months' time.

Little man is with his daddy on Sundays and Mondays anyway. Daddy has only worked four days a week since he was off with various psychological issues. I knew he had been looking out for a new job, so I had to check he wasn't about to start working Mondays and have been reassured that Mondays are a Ben day for him. This doesn't really explain how he's going to get out of a job that is contributing to making him miserable but he doesn't do discussions of important subjects as they are too upsetting. So that leaves an afternoon with each set of grandparents until next Easter when he will get some free time at nursery, provided it hasn't been axed by the government before then and that I can find a nursery I like the look of. Even then, someone else will have to pick him up, give him his tea and put him to bed because I don't get home until about nine.

Maternal possessiveness notwithstanding, I think it's actually good for little man to be looked after by a small group of close family members who really care about him. It's more of a whole tribe effort, a la the Continuum Concept. Even if it means mummy is only there at bedtime two or three days a week. And it means I get to sit down at a desk without being pestered. I was going to mention the importance of adult conversation, but the banter in work could not be classed as mature. So I'll settle for the fact that I can get all my swearing done without worrying about the boy picking any of it up. We have a profanity guide on the wall at work, the words we have to put asterisks in: fuck, shit, cunt, wank and twat. The conversation may not be mature but it is highly amusing.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Running commentary

Little man's constant questioning has shifted recently, from 'whassat?' to 'whadooween?', which translates as 'what are you doing?' I even sometimes get an accurate answer from him if I ask him the same question back. But sometimes he asks the question on repeat so that what I'm doing is exactly the same as it was the last time he asked. And the time before that.

He is talking so much more. I'm currently getting a commentary on In the Night Garden. 'In there', 'a house', 'nin nonk', 'gone', 'a blue'...which translates as the Pontypines and Wottingers are getting in the carriage of the Ninky Nonk that looks like a house. The Ninky Nonk goes off screen and the blue Ha Hoo appears. Sometimes the constant commentary and questioning becomes a little wearing. Just a little. I, of course, have the infinite patience to deal with it without ever adopting a tone of exasperation or snapping at him. Of course.

He does indeed have full-scale, finger pointing, 'No' shouting arguments between his left hand and his right hand. There's obviously a lot going on in his imagination. He sometimes plays by himself for what feels like quite some time, it's probably about twenty minutes, and he's constantly chattering to himself or to his toys.

His obsession with all motorised transportation continues. Today he got quite upset because he couldn't make the baby sign for plane, despite the fact that he can say 'plane' quite clearly. And does so several dozen times a day as we live on a flight path. Every time he eats an oatcake or ricecake he nibbles it until, to him, it resembles a boat, which he then waves around proudly proclaiming that fact. He also has other amusing obsessions, such as collecting the seeds of any kind of tree he finds. I now have to remember to check his trouser pockets before they go in the wash.

I have to make sure his father and I confer about what he's up to. Sometimes little man will say something that is a mystery to me until I ask his dad and it turns out it's to do with a film they've watched or somewhere they've been. I think the pair of them watch a lot of Disney Pixar. I suppose it saves me having to.

The other day I also had to check with his father (who's a civil engineer) that the metal inside reinforced concrete is steel. Little man had asked what it was as there's a picture in his Big Dig book. I think I'm going to have to read up properly about the workings of steam engines. Internal combustion is bound to be on the cards at some point. A trip to the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester is probably in order. All I can say is, it's a good job I'm an all-round genius.

Monday, 9 August 2010


I've been tagged by Skippedydoodah. I've also been tagged a couple of times before but as those posts require photos I'm putting them off... As for tagging other folks, I don't like to put anyone under pressure! So straight on to the answers:

1) When were you most relaxed – and I mean so chilled you couldn’t move?

I remember a particularly sunny afternoon on Ynys Llandwyn, a kind of semi-island off Anglesey in North Wales. Lying on the grass above the beach, hearing the waves fizzing over the sand and bees buzzing in the sea thrift. Probably the odd seagull's cry up above. The water so bright and sparkly you could barely look at it. Clear views across to the mountains of Snowdonia. Warm sunshine on your face. An equally chilled husband next to me at that time.

2) Who in your life has changed you the most? (for good or bad)

I was going to say the aforementioned husband, as we met when I was 16 and split when I was 31 - that's a lot of time at such a changeable period of one's life. But... I think it's actually my son. There's nothing like having a child to make you think about what's important in life. And that it's generally the small, simple things. Also, when you have a newborn baby to look after you put your own needs on the backburner. I think that as that baby turns into a toddler and you maybe, just maybe, get to think a bit about yourself you re-evaluate what you think are your needs and wants.

3) What gets you up on your soap box – finger waving, rhetoric spouting, red-faced, passionately standing up for what you believe in?

I'm not a soap boxy sort of person. Confrontation scares me. I'm more of a quietly simmer but never say anything type. One of the big things that bugs me is when people think that everything in life comes down to money.

4) Which book/s have you read the most number of times (and are likely to read 100 times more)?

Lord of the Rings. Now I feel very cliched, but it's the book I turn to when I don't fancy anything else. A few times I've got to the end and started right back at the beginning. I guess it has that epic quality about it. I also love the idea of just heading off to tramp through the wilds. And I'm very short and fond of good food and ale.

5) Where is ‘Home’? The house you grew up in, the house you’re in now, or the house in your dreams?

The house I'm in now. I'm not one for nostalgia (and I don't like my parents' net curtains) and although I may daydream of a stone cottage by the sea somewhere on Britain's west coast my future is currently a bit of an unknown. I never thought I would move back to my home town, which is not really a place anyone would aspire to move to although I don't mind it. And I never thought I would have to buy a house on my own (or indeed that any mortgage company would lend me the money since I don't have a real job). But here I am, in my own house with my son and I've made it nice and cosy. If only I could afford a woodburning stove...

6) What attribute of yours would you most like to pass on to your children?

Erm, I'm thinking of things like self-reliance, determination, that horrible phrase: a can-do attitude. Not that I'm always like that.

7) How do you organise your life? Are you a list-maker, a scheduler or a “we’ll see when we get there” kinda person?

I used to be a list maker. Then I realised that whenever I weighed up decisions rationally, I still always ended up choosing the option that felt right. So that's what I do now. I do what feels right. I do a certain amount of forward planning, like trying to have fun things scheduled for days when I don't have the little man and I'm not working. Sometimes, if I start to feel overwhelmed by having lots of things to do, I'll write a to-do list and then try to make myself get through lots of the easier items on it so I feel like I've really dented it. But usually I ignore the to-do list and go out for cake instead. Or lose the book with the list in. I don't have a grand plan in life because I'm still dealing with the loss of the future I thought I had ahead of me.

8 ) And finally, because this one’s been bugging me for a while now: How much wood would a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

I reckon about three trees' worth a day. Depending on the type and size of tree. Maybe only one fully mature oak. Half a dozen ten-year-old silver birches. Unless we're talking pre-cut logs. And I'd like the woodchuck to chuck it in my direction; I'll store it all up for when I get my woodburner.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Up, down, up, down, up, down...

Did you notice how I sneaked in with a post as if I'd never gone away? What do you mean, you never noticed I'd gone! I was suffering from a prolonged inability to post. I have been too busy with my obsession with listening to Biffy Clyro and generally sitting on my arse going bleurgh. At first it was the usual pre-menstrual madness. Then it turned into the during-menstrual madness. Then I thought I was fine. And wham, I got hit with an out-of-the-blue, absolutely unexplained wave of depression. You know, the whole 'Go away; I want to hide under the duvet all day and not talk to anyone' thing. I've got used to these things coming and going predictably (as predictably as polycystic ovary cycles lasting anywhere between 28 and 48 days can be) but this was all out of sync. However, it only lasted a few days and now I'm fine again. Which begs the question: What the fuck's going on?

I'm used to the ups and downs, the lethargic can't-be-arsed-ness and the over-hyped let-me-at-em ness. But this latest was completely unexpected. But also very short-lived. Now, I'm used to my emotions being up and down, that's fine - when you're feeling down you know it will pass and when you're a bit hyper you know you'll relax eventually. I tend to think everyone is like this to some extent (one in four and all that). What I'm not used to is unexpected depression with no apparent trigger that comes from nowhere and fuzzes your brain up so that picking up even just one pair of toddler socks from the living room floor becomes an impossible task. So that, in a nutshell that can't ever fully explain this stuff, is what was going on.

I have other things to say, things about little man's fairly comical development (seeing his left hand and his right hand arguing with each other is quite funny), things about simple living, and working (which I have volunteered to do more of), things about sleeping, co-sleeping and lying awake not sleeping when you should be sleeping, things about getting in touch with your inner teenager. But for now, I've supped some homemade elderflower champagne and have had a day tidying up a rather overgrown allotment, so it's off to bed for an early night.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Right now....

  • I am absolutely bloody knackered from not being able to sleep properly then getting woken by the boy's arrival in the middle of the night.
  • I need a recipe for cornflake cakes that just uses cocoa powder instead of actual melted chocolate, because who could actually keep chocolate in stock in their cupboards?
  • I do not know where the baby fish is.
  • I cannot make the car fit inside the egg shell.
  • I am being cuddled up to by a boy who has a plastic slice of watermelon that he insists is a boat.
  • Tea, tea and more tea is required.
  • I have just remembered that the roadworks from hell on the M6 at Haydock are OVER at last and that I promised myself a bottle of something fizzy when this happened. And I don't mean diet Coke.
  • I am hoping the boy has forgotten the toy guitar I bought him yesterday and which has already been left behind at the other grandparents' house.
  • I am being given a slice of plastic bacon for breakfast. Yum.
  • I am looking out of my north-facing window and trying to decide if a picnic with friends in Lancashire is going to become an indoor picnic.
  • I am considering burning the grubby net curtains that hide the electric and gas meters inside a cupboard and which I intended to replace months ago with something prettier but have still not got around to.
  • I am also considering whether to ask the boy's father to have him on Saturday night even though it's not his weekend for that because I am just so effing tired I am struggling to function.