Saturday, 29 May 2010

One of the shittier weeks in the history of shitness

What with little man puking up all over me and the ex's bizarre text mistake and my pre-period fuzziness it's been a weird week.

The puking started in the early hours of Monday at daddy's house. He was sick twice in the night there. I put it down to him being pumped too full of fruit. Or being given juice to drink, which he never gets at home. He seemed fine back home with me. Until Wednesday morning. When he gesticulated for a banana, scoffed it, then brought it back up down the front of my pyjamas. Nice. He was his usual crazy self straight afterwards. But then when I got home from work at eight thirty that evening I found him still awake and saving up his puke for me. Thursday and Friday he was just a little more clingy and subdued than normal. Then as I went to bed on Friday I went in to check on him and discovered he'd been sick again, apparently without waking up. So now I don't know if it will happen again or what is causing it. I would have thought a bug would make him sick more frequently but for less time overall...

Then, on Friday morning, I got The Text. This is a really odd one. It was from little man's daddy and contained the words 'I love you'. I've never really known what happened to his relationship with the woman I found out he'd been shagging about eighteen months ago. But I assumed this text was meant for her. I texted back so he knew it had gone astray. And in a bizarre twist, the ex actually said it was some kind of sarcastic discussion with a family member about a problem at work. Right, ok. It seems such an unlikely explanation I guess it might actually be true, although he's actually quite free to say those words to whoever he likes. It was just very upsetting for me when I'm trying to get over him and it was not my choice to end our marriage in the first place.

On top of all that, my period started on the Friday morning too and I've been feeling really exhausted all week heading up to that. So the house is a mess, many things that should have been done haven't been done and many things that shouldn't have been consumed have been consumed. I also missed my lunchtime nap today because the boy woke up as I got him out of the car to carry him upstairs to bed. And his hair still smells of sick after last night, when I just wiped him up as best I could at half ten rather than wake him up fully to get him properly clean. I gave him a bath this morning but his hair is still stinky in that really special-smelling vomity kind of way.

Still, we made gingerbread biscuits this afternoon. And I made him a paper boat and aeroplane. And we spent ages watching a snail at the park.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010


I thought my sling hoard was complete. I'm even thinking of selling some on. But now I'm wondering if, in fact, I need a new one. Little man only ever wants to go in the Yamo. He protests mightily if I suggest the Storchenwiege instead. Unfortunately, he has finally grown big enough that the Yamo is a) not supportive enough of him if he falls asleep and b) not that comfy for my back for more than half an hour or so.

So I'm wondering if I need something designed with toddlers in mind as I still have an instinctive dislike of the pushchair. Sure, there are days when it comes in handy and days when I can't be bothered carrying him. But generally it makes me feel encumbered. I don't like sticking to a certain quality of path if I go out for a walk and I don't like struggling in and out of shops or trying to find somewhere to park it in cafes. I do like that the little man is up at my level and I can talk to him over my shoulder.

So this is a warning really, that babywearing is addictive and very bad for the bank balance. Now, what do I go for...

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Climb every mountain...

Imagine the conversation between me and someone who's part of a group I'm climbing Snowdon with; most of this group have never climbed a mountain.

Her: 'So have you done this before?'
Me: 'Yeah, quite a few times... but not for years.' ('Quite a few times' is a big understatement.)

Then there are the general conversations about walking where I can talk knowledgeably about most of the hills in Snowdonia and a fair few elsewhere but always include the line: 'I used to do a lot of walking/scrambling.'

Well, I've got fed up of the 'used to' and realised how important walking up hills is to me. Don't ask me to explain why; I find there's no need for a reason. Ironically, the ex and I first got to know each other by going out in the hills together. I remember him holding my hand because I was slipping in the snow coming down between Carnedd Llewelyn and Daffyd.

But as you get caught up in, first, the nine to five of sitting in an office and commuting and being knackered by the weekend, then, secondly, the demands of being a parent, it's easy to let things that are important to you slip away. Well, I think there's a compromise in there somewhere. I think that parents, and probably mothers most of all, need to have some time to do things that are important to them as individuals and not just as parents. Things that are fundamentally part of their identity.

Of course, I wish I could have had nice family weekends where little man gets to do fun things with mummy and daddy - at the same time. But I'm also glad I have the opportunity to do 'me' things. And being a single mum when there's a dad around who's still very much committed to his son actually makes this potentially easier than it is for happily marrieds.

Yesterday, I had asked daddy to pick little man up at half eight so I could go and climb a lovely little hill called Cnicht, pictured above. It was a bit humid but still a fine day out.

Another 'used to' I'm working on is playing the guitar. I restrung my acoustic last week. All by myself. Now I just need to keep strumming those chords until the fingertips of my left hand stop going numb.

Friday, 21 May 2010

The ultimate spag bol

Yeah, I know everyone can make spag bol, but I find this combination of ingredients particularly scrummy so I thought I'd share.

You need:
Decent minced beef (you know, preferably without chewy bits)
Tinned toms
Tom puree
Beef stock cube (I know, highly inauthentic and a big cheat)
Red wine
Oregano, bay leaves, nutmeg

What you do:
Finely chop the onion, celery, carrot and garlic.

Brown the mince in some olive oil, drain off the excess fat and stick it in a bowl to vacate the pan. I tend to use about a kg of beef and make a reasonably big batch for freezing.

Brown the pancetta and stick it in the bowl with the mince.

Bung the veg in the pan and soften over a low heat, stirring every now and again. Then return the meat to the pan.

Now pour in a generous slurp of wine. I'd go for at least half a bottle, preferably two thirds. Also add the toms, a whole tube of tom puree or tinned equivalent, beef stock cube and herbs. I go for a couple of bay leaves, a desert spoon or so of dried oregano and a generous grating of nutmeg.

Now comes the crucial bit. Get it up to the boil, give it all a good stir together, then turn it down to the lowest heat you can and ignore it for a couple of hours. Maybe three. Or so. You can stir it every now and again but it's not that important. I'd recommend going out for a walk in the sunshine.

If it's boiled dry and stuck by the time you get back, you obviously didn't put enough wine in. Perhaps you were saving it to drink? Well don't be stingy, open another bottle!

Serve with the pasta shape of your toddler's choice and a sprinkling of grated Parmesan. We like spaghetti (big comedy factor) or penne (opportunity for sticking your fingers inside the tubes). If you're cunning like me, you'll grate a big block of Parmesan at a time and bung it in a tub in the freezer.

Some people talk of such things as chicken livers. Some may use half pork mince. Feel free to tell me if your ultimate spag bol differs from mine in some delicious way.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

It's all good fun really

So he whinges and whines a lot, and doesn't listen to a word I say, and causes chaos everywhere he goes, and won't ever be discouraged when he's set his heart on doing something he shouldn't be doing, and always tries to pull away from me and run off when we're next to busy roads/car parks, but...
  • he gives big wet kisses and the only way he knows is smack bang on the lips.
  • he brings me imaginary tea and cakes.
  • he gets very upset if I go near other toddlers or babies and shouts 'me mummy'.
  • he pretends that oatcakes and onion rings are steering wheels.
  • he gives the puppy at the end of the Dear Zoo book a big cuddle.
  • he nibbles his toast into the shape of boats.
  • when he sees a picture of a hedgehog, or the spiky fish in the Hoorary for Fish book, he touches it and yells 'ow'.
  • he also has to test any holly hedges we go near to check they're spiky.
  • when you ask him to smell a flower, he snorts out on it instead.
  • if he can't say what he wants, he grabs my hand and drags me off to show me.
  • olives are his favourite food.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Being single means...

  • no-one messes up the margarine tub (what is with the gouging?).
  • feeling sad when you take your son out on a Saturday knowing he will never have the proper family days out that you see other kids having all around you.
  • being able to watch what you want on the telly... and switch it off whenever you want to instead of having it on in the background all the bloody time.
  • having a very big bed all to yourself... and the resulting lack of the obvious.
  • no-one leaving the switches down on electrical sockets that aren't actually in use.
  • eating pasta and pesto for dinner when you can't be bothered to cook.
  • not having anyone to bring you a cup of tea in bed in the morning.
  • having to put up your tent by yourself whilst keeping an eye on the child.
  • no complaints about the number of books you have.
  • feeling like you're asking a big favour when you want a full day to yourself.
  • missing the child because he had an extra night with daddy because you wanted a full day to yourself.
  • no random cupboard doors and drawers left open for no apparent reason.
  • no-one to talk to or give you a hug if you're feeling down.
  • no double check on whether you locked the back door at night.
  • a big nothing when you think about the future because you don't know if you'll ever meet anyone or not or quite how that would work while you have a young child anyway.
  • not being asked to proofread any dull technical reports at 10pm just as you were thinking about going to bed.
  • knowing what you own, and the rough whereabouts of it all, instead of having a garage/loft full of miscellaneous junk.

Friday, 14 May 2010


Well, it's taken a couple of weeks in the big boy's bed but he has finally realised he can get up by himself in the morning. And come and find mummy, which is fine. And run her over with the Fat Controller's car or a tractor or whatever other mode of motorised transport he took to bed the previous night, which is not so good. With this realisation have come some earlier mornings. Previously, he was sleeping past seven most mornings. This week it's been mostly half six, culminating in a cheery 'Mummy!' at 5am this morning. Followed by much fidgeting and digging of tiny toes into my ribs.

I realise I'm very lucky compared with some folks that my little man does now usually sleep a good twelve hours solid. And, just to rub it in, this morning I got so fed up of his constant fidgeting I carried him back to his own bed at half five, tucked him in, said night night and he actually stayed there and went back to sleep until quarter past seven. I was rather surprised.

Daytime naps still usually require a trip in the car though. Yesterday, I took him out for an hour's walk to get some fresh air and sunshine, thinking he would doze off in the buggy. (I couldn't be bothered carrying him, ok; I'm not supermum!) Anyway, he whinged and whined and was still wide awake when we got home. I stuck him in the car and two minutes down the Daresbury Expressway he was fast asleep.

That was the day I had the funny dream about barbecuing. Apologies to facebook people who read it on my status. I carried the little man inside and thought, bugger the housework I'm having a snooze too. I duly dozed off only to be startled awake when I dreamed I was having a barbecue and that I burned my hand on the tongs. Yes, I'm that clumsy. Clumsy enough to burn myself in my sleep with an imaginary kitchen utensil.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Some facts... according to a two-year-old

Thomas the Tank Engine is a god.
Window ledges are railways, runways or racetracks.
Boxes are to be emptied and climbed in.
Shells are for scooping sand.
Water is to be splashed in, spare clothes or no spare clothes and no matter how many times mummy tries to redirect me.
Milk is for small people to drink, not for putting in mummy's tea.
Lemon slices are there to be consumed in their entirety, not just to look pretty in the jug.
Artistically placed old tractors are to be climbed on.
Paper is boring to draw on; hands, clothes and furniture are better.
Ice cream is the perfect foodstuff.
Mummies spend too much time in cafes.
I am allowed to cause chaos because people still love me when I smile and wave bye-bye in a cute manner.
My toys are my toys and not for sharing.
Noodles are snakes, or worms.
Dancing along with Upsy Daisy is a compulsory activity for everyone present.
I know what I mean, so everyone else should too.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Five things...

...I'd like to be able to do:
  1. Play the guitar (like I could when I was eighteen).
  2. Roll a kayak.
  3. Chop wood (and have a stove to burn it in).
  4. The whole of the 24-step Yang-style tai chi form.
  5. Walk the Offa's Dyke Path.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Strange days

This has been one of them. Little man slept until 9am. Yes, you read that right. 9am. Of course, he had a little cry at around half five to make sure I got woken up, then he went back to sleep. I got up at 8am and had a cup of tea. I took in the veg delivery. I thought, bugger it, I'm going to risk him waking up in the middle of my shower. He didn't. I got dressed. I went and made another cuppa. He finally woke up.

I would normally think, oh well, he obviously had some catching up to do. But I'm supposed to be looking out for symptoms of Lyme disease after finding a tick chomping on his leg on Tuesday. Flu-like symptoms and 'bull's eye' shaped rashes. I decided not to panic when he seemed like his usual crazy self. I asked him who I should vote for at the polling station, but he didn't seem to have an opinion on the matter. He was too busy showing everyone his daisies, which he then tried to put in my hair.

At lunchtime, I made myself a big salad with a carefully measured portion of posh feta containing precisely 14 grammes of fat. Little man decided he liked feta. For the first time ever. So I ate some of the ham I'd bought for him as a change from cheddar cheese or houmous. Still, I'm steadily losing weight. The goal now is to be 10 stone something. I don't care if it's 10 stone 13 and a half pounds as long as it's 10 stone something. Unfortunately I'd have to lose over another stone for my BMI to be supposedly normal. My conversation with the doctor about this is another story. No doc, losing weight has not changed my bra size.

After his lie-in, little man wasn't sleepy at his usual time, but not long after lunch he was flagging so we had a drive up the expressway and back. Then I carried him inside and we both went to bed. For another of those two-hour afternoon naps. It sounds blissful, but actually it just made me feel grotty afterwards. I had to go into the backyard for some fresh air in an attempt to wake up again. I swapped bulbs for French marigolds and pelargoniums in some of my containers and potted up some herb seedlings. Little man, meanwhile, threw sand off the decking onto the concrete area below. I've asked him not to, it seems such a waste and makes a mess. I've tried taking him back inside when he does it but he still goes back to it again next time. I figure it's not important enough to make an issue of.

At tea-time, he ate cabbage, having shunned anything remotely resembling a leaf ever since weaning. A strange day indeed. At least tonight he's only taken a small toy car to bed. Not like the tambourine I had to remove last night.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Assessments and allotments

A health visitor finally arrived last week to see little man. It seems no-one at the doc's had told them we'd moved to the area. Anyway, it turned out to be a health visitor at the more common sense end of the spectrum. As she filled in forms, little man was playing and showing us things and saying the odd intelligible word and grabbing her pen off her. So the health visitor announced that she certainly had no concerns about his development and we talked about poultry keeping and allotments instead.

I wrote to the council last week too, expressing my concern about the length of the allotment waiting list. I discovered that my highest placing on the list for any of the four sites in the town is 80-something. For the other three it's over 100. They say the wait is now three to four years. I suspect it's going to be considerably longer. It seems a bit unfair that some people got their hands on more than one allotment back when there was no waiting list and they can't be turfed off now because they have a tenancy agreement. There's an empty field round the corner; I might have to get on with some guerilla gardening.