Wednesday, 29 September 2010

First Aid

Following on from the playground accident (referred to in my last post) which resulted in a trip to A&E for emergency chin repair, I realised that our bathroom cabinet is woefully lacking in first aid stuff.

Today, however, the cabinet is positively bulging after spending yesterday's lunchbreak browsing around the very large chemist shop near my work. I never realised what pleasure could be had in pawing through the extensive menu of first aid remedies, creams, lotions, potions, sprays, dressings, ointments et al.

I hope it will be a long time before I have the chance to use my shiny new dressings scissors, the spray on plaster stuff, the spray on 'stop the bleeding' stuff and the various cartoon covered plasters, bandages and paraphenalia; but if we need it, I've got it covered.

The same determination now needs to be applied to some first aid for my own body. It's been two babies and then some since I last saw a gym, and straightforward denial is no longer sufficient to stop the realisation that something has to be done.

So I have joined a gym and last night saw my first session. I scurried around the edges of the room looking for a piece of equipment to use which was least visible to the other toned and honed gym bunnies. I ran for a whole three minutes before nearly coughing up a lung, then managed a fast walk for the remainder of my allotted time. It was hard but given that my level of body fat is roughly equivalent to that of a chocolate fudge cake, smeared in butter then fried in lard, I will give it my best shot.....

Monday, 27 September 2010

Social Inadequacy And Its Unforseen Conseqences

I'm not perfect. Who is? Hands up all those who are not very good at keeping in touch with people.... Good, I thought there would be a fair few of you. Sometimes such social ineptitude can cause a real problem, to wit this weekend.

Sunday saw my three and a half year old son scampering off for an afternoon of fun with a close friend. Fast forward a couple of hours and along came the call reporting an unfortunate incident involving a see-saw, a copiously bleeding chin and many tears. When the crestfallen pair returned home it was obvious that a trip to the A&E department was necessary.

It should have been straightforward to bundle my son into the car and rush him off to hospital were it not for the fact that any trip to our two local A&E departments will involve a degree of embarassment on my part.

I have only taken my son to A&E on one previous occasion when he was nine months old. I will gloss over the facts (he was crying, I was crazy) however upon entering the triage area the Sister in charge took one look at me, and asked if I remembered her. I did. We had been childhood buddies who lost touch over twenty years ago. She ensured I was treated speedily, reassured that the baby was perfectly fine and sent on my way with her telephone number and an entreaty to keep in touch. Needless to say, I lost the number almost instantaneously and haven't made contact since.

Then a few weeks ago, I was pushing the kids up the Sainsbury's crisp aisle when a male voice said my name. I looked up and was catapulted back twenty years to my university days when I was great mates with this same person but again lost touch over the years. He is now happily married, a proud father to a newborn baby and the Head Consultant at our second nearest A&E department. We exchanged numbers, entreated each other to stay in touch. You guessed right.... I haven't because it would feel a bit weird calling him up out of the blue to have a drink and catch up (although when I write it down it doesn't look like it should seem wierd....but it still definitely would be).

So you may understand why I was not leaping with enthusiasm at the prospect of having to encounter one of these fine medical professionals and embark upon some cringeworthy, grovelling explanation as to why I haven't been in touch. Luckily my husband is used to covering for my inadequacies and so he volunteered to take the wounded soldier off to have his cut glued back together. Fortunately it was all a big adventure to my son, and he is mightily proud of his big bandaged chin. As for me, I am now working on having an instantly accessible explanation for my communication failings in readiness for any future A&E dash.....any suggestions will be gratefully appreciated!

Thursday, 23 September 2010

One For the New Baby in your Life?

fuck all
So how about this t-shirt from twistedtwee in sizes 0-6m and 6-12m?! Don't think it would have made my own kid's wardrobes but it did make me laugh. And let's face's kinda true for most ankle biters of that age, no?

Found this site by way of recommendation from ebabeelikes, a great blog with gems of shopping ideas for the little ones in your life. Together with the amazing finds from India Knight's posterous blog my Christmas shopping will probably still be done in abject panic one week prior to the day itself, but at least from the comfort of my own broadband connection.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

There Have to be Some Benefits to Being A Grown Up

My three and a half year old son is frequently a challenge to me. I had heard of the terrible two's but naively thought that when two was out of the way things would get easier.

I think there was a couple of days, just after he turned three, when he took a breather from wreaking physical and emotional havoc and seemed to calm down. I now know he was merely regrouping and reassessing his tactics so as to intensify the ongoing assault on his beleaguered parents.

I do get why. I get that being three and a half means yearning for more independence, and resenting the stranglehold your parents have over your every waking moment. I get that curiosity and excitement make you want to strain against the boundaries, and I get that the qualities my son possesses, which currently drive me mad, will be the defining qualities which I love and admire in him as he gets older.

I love that he is quirky and mischievous, at least I have funny stories about the latest thing he has got up to. I love that he is outgoing and boisterous, but I do long for the day when he can learn how to reign this in somewhat. I love that he tries to cheer up his sister and his friends by hugging them when they cry, even though it is often his over-enthusiastic style of play which causes the tears in the first place.

I am sometimes overwhelmed with the responsibility of being the significant grown up in this child's life. I don't get it right all the time and yet I have such power and authority over him. I can say yes or no to his hundreds of daily requests, send him to bed early, condemn him to a boring day around the house or arrange a fun day out. I find it unbearably poignant that even though I am the one who most often shouts at him, I am also the one who can stop the tears and whose love and approval he most needs.

The responsibility of being a grown up is a tough one to bear, and for that reason we should always celebrate the upsides. These are a few of my cherished grown up benefits:

1. Grown up dinners. I don't mean the finest cuisine. I mean the dinner that you would have killed for as a kid. For me it is crisps, probably a family sized selection pack. Yep, crisps for dinner.
2. Having a filthy car. My dad was obsessive about keeping the car clean. Still is. Therefore I never fail to get a pang of rebellious delight when casually casting aside my empty starbucks cup and watching it being engulfed into the primordial soup which is the bottom of our car.
3. Ridiculously inappropriate shoes. So many years of having to wear sensible, ugly, flat lace up shoes has left me with an abhorrence for footwear which is remotely practical. I am recklessly gleeful at buying suede winter shoes.

On reflection given my son's challenging, rebellious and reckless nature, there may well be some truth in the saying that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

Friday, 17 September 2010

P & P

Many years ago there were three friends who were just dipping their toes into the strange and wonderful waters of this thing they call grown up life.

They had all been through the 'uni' years, and the 'first crappy jobs' years, and were travelling through this period of life sharing a lovely little house in a grey Northen Town. I was of course one of this trio, together with my two BFF's.

They were inclined to the path of rightousness in pursuing worthy careers in social work, whereas I was tempted over to the dark side by pursuing a career in law. Nevertheless we rubbed along famously.

There were inevitably ups and downs whilst sharing a home. For me the downside was definately having to share the house with one friend's incontinent and diorrhea prone house rabbit, whilst she would probably mention my inability to hang the bathmat over the side of bath after use and my other friend will recall our merciless teasing over her phone addiction. However I remember this time as a rose tinted one; of shared laughter, tears and female friendship at its finest.

After a couple of years our house sharing days came to a natural conclusion as we moved onto new living arrangements with our then boyfriends, all of whom have since bitten the dust. However we made a pact with each other. We agreed that on a regular basis we would get together to relive our co-habiting days. This would not be an occasion for pub or club, but instead in each others homes where we would stay overnight for the pure reason that this meant we could wear our pyjamas, drink too much cava (always cava), order pizza and just catch up with each other.

Fast forward 11 years and you will whizz past the heartbreak of relationships ending, the giddy joy of new ones starting, three fully fledged careers, two weddings and five babies with the sixth due in two weeks time. I am more than proud to say that despite all of this change the P & P's as they are now known (shorthand for pizza and pyjamas) are still going strong, with one taking place every two to three months. Indeed I am just about to nip out for a bottle of cava for tonight!

We are all now busy working mums with all the pressures that brings, but our shared past, present and future binds us together. The fact that we have managed to cling onto our tradition, and the fact that we can still laugh and cry together, is an achievement which ranks highly in my life.

Ladies, make sure there is room in the fridge for my bottle, and see you around 7.30pm tonight. xx

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

The Weekend


Ok day at work, then for the first time since last pregnancy go out for a 'drink' with colleagues afterwards. Sensibly decide to stick to beer as it doesn't give me a hangover.

Navigate the tram home and stagger into the house at 10.30 pm clutching a Tesco microwaveable meal (chinese cuisine I think, can't remember eating it). Try to converse with my husband but am treated with disdain for not making sense, smelling like metholated spirits, and also due to the fact that the kids had been up and down all evening.

Evicted from the bedroom for drunken snoring, so spend restless night on the sofa bed.


Woken at 6 am by two noisy children. Hungover. Mouth like bottom of budgies cage. Remember the beer-not-causing-a-hangover theory applied in my twenties. I am 39.

Children sense that I am weak and at a disadvantage and proceed to mercilessly exploit my fragile condition.

It rains torrentially all day. We are housebound.

I am a bad parent. I shout, beg, plead, bribe and at one point weep. Today was a day to be endured at best. Everyone grumpy.


Wake up and spring out of bed with the joy of one who has not consumed any alcohol for 32 hours. Am back on form. Can deal with anything the little darlings throw at me.

Declare that we are spending some quality family time together to make up for previous day, so pack everyone into the car and head for the beach.

Spend wonderful time playing on the beach in typically schizophrenic Northern British weather - both blazing sunshine and gale force winds at the same time. Eat sand infused ice cream and hot dogs and love every bite.

Take kids to tacky seaside funfair and spend ridiculous amount of money on rides and deep fried food. Turn into Homer Simpson for a few moments "mmmmmm, doughnuts......".

Everybody weary, sunburnt and sandblasted. A good day. Slept like a log.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Melancholy Thursday

One dark, wet evening in January 2007, myself and my husband walked shyly into a strip-lit room containing another seven blinking, expectant couples.

We weighed each other up, taking in the size of bumps, wondering what each other was like. However the knowledge that we all shared a common bond soon loosened the usual social strictures. The men were bonded in the knowledge that life was about to be irrevocably changed. The women were all simply shitting themselves at the prospect of imminently pushing a bony melon sized object out of...erm....well......a passageway the size of a considerably smaller fruit.

As we came to the end of our 8 ante-natal classes together we learned all there was to know about the process of giving birth. I put this knowledge to good use in my birth plan which ran, I kid you not, to three sides of A4 paper. Oh how I laugh at my naivety now!

The ladies then shyly exchanged emails and agreed to meet up once before our approaching due dates. We shared confidences, fears and biscuits, then after a few weeks and a flurry of emailed birth announcements we were joined by six baby boys and two baby girls. All healthy, all gorgeous.

In the weeks and months that followed we met regularly to share post-natal depression, fears, anxieties, neurotic craziness, tips, milestones, achievements and manymanymanymany cakes.

Gradually our initial haunted grey facial pallours started to diminish as we became adept at the practicalities of new parenthood, and one by one we returned to work. It was not as easy to stay in regular touch although we did manage to have a joint first and second birthday party. However by the third birthdays contact between many of us had diminished to the very occasional email or random meeting. Only the strongest of ties still flourished and I am proud to say that I am still very good friends with two of my ante-natal group.

We meet most Thursdays as we share a common day off work and adventures abound on this day as we take on museums, farms, parks, funfairs, play centres and also regularly allow our kids to wreck each other's houses in the certain knowledge that the favour will be swifly returned.

However from now on my Thursdays will not be the same. One of the chidren started school yesterday and the other starts next week. My son, for logistical reasons is staying on at his private nursery until next September upon which day his father and I will light fires, dance naked and sing songs of praise to the gods above for releasing us from the bonds of nursery fees (at least for one of the kids).

I'm sure we will still see each other at weekends and school holidays, and we all now have second babies to entertain together, but Thursday marked one of the first noticeable melancholic milestones that take you further away from those magical days when you waited to meet the little squirming creature inside your belly, hardly daring to imagine what life would be like when they finally burst their way into the big, wide world.


Friday, 3 September 2010

Life is Too Short To....?

Whilst I fully agree with Shirley Conran that stuffing a mushroom is no way to while away your hours I found myself further pondering this question at work today as four of my brave, thrill seeking colleagues prepare to tie themselves to a total stranger this weekend and voluntarily jump out of a very high plane with nothing between them and oblivion save a thin piece of nylon which they hope the stranger remembered to pack in his rucksack that morning.

Whilst their motives are to raise some cash for charity I personally believe my life to be too short to risk prematurely ending it in a broken and bloody heap somewhere near an 'x marks the spot', so I will start today's list of 'Life is too Short' activities with this one.
  1. Jumping voluntarily out of a perfectly good working plane.
  2. Ironing. In my experience most creases fall out as you wear clothes, apart from clothes that get very crease'y, and why would you buy those anyway when they will just get all re-creased after you have ironed them? Why would any perfectly sane person iron their children's underwear....or tea towels......or socks. It is beyond me, but I totally respect your crease free existence if you are an iron lover.
  3. Hoovering my wooden blinds, as someone recently suggested to me. Look I know they are dusty but I'm just not going to do it. If you don't disturb the dust it just forms one even layer, and then you can hardly tell it's there.
  4. Make your own pastry. You can buy it frozen and it's absolutely fine. You get all the kudos of creating your own home made looking pies but without the stress of having to have hands at the right temperature.
  5. Have a bikini wax. Admittedly I am not the most hirsuite of people. If I was I may view matters differently. Aesthetically things are far from perfect down there however there are other painfree options for not scaring the more easily shocked swimmers at my local municipal baths. I've had my eyebrows waxed a few times, and all I can say is dear mother of god, what would possess anyone to do that to their lady garden. Hats off to you.
  6. Get cross with my 14 month old girl for refusing to go to sleep just after her daddy had taught her to roar like a lion. Who wouldn't want to spend all evening practising that new found skill?

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

On Blogging

So I have been blogging for two whole months now, and tentatively feeling my way around this new, shiny world. I have plucked up the courage to make a few comments on other people's blogs, and had a few comments back from other bloggers ( - thank you so much). I have spent more time than I actually thought I had to spare in visiting other people's lives by way of their blogs, and find it wonderful to know that there are so many lovely folk out there facing the issues and dilemmas I experience, getting irritated by similar things, and with aspirations and interests which I share.

In fact there has only been one only slight negative to my trawl through the blogosphere so far. Whilst I love the unique and adorable photos on Mila's Daydreams (do check it out in my blogroll if you haven't already found the site) I have to confess that it does makes me feel a bit crap that I didn't come up with the same idea. I have now had to add a new item to my general list of failures:

95. Is too frightened to unscrew the plughole to see why the bath isn't draining very well;

96. Has made fishfingers, chips and beans for the kids dinner three nights out of the last seven;

97. Frequently fibs to 92 year old Gran about how long it is since I last phoned her, on the grounds that she has a memory like Dory from 'Finding Nemo';

98. Did not spend maternity leave taking enchanting and beautiful photos of babies to cherish for all time, leading to deserved book deal, career change, lots of money and thereby avoiding the need to put babies into extortionate private childcare.

The thing I love about blogging so far is the fact of it being a new outlet for keeping a record of my life. As something of a compulsive record keeper this is heavenly to me!

I religiously kept baby books for both children, complete with locks of hair, scan pictures and hospital bracelets. My photographs are faithfully downloaded as soon as they are taken, the best photos are ordered online from snapfish, and upon receipt are put straight into photo albums. My children both have a large baby album recording their first year, and at Xmas I put together a new album for each with a photo from each month of the last year. I also write them a letter which is put in their memory boxes, and have also started a scrapbook to keep all important cards, tickets, invites and other general stuff in.

I am aware as I write this that a) it sounds like I am nauseatingly smug, and b) it also sounds a bit neurotic, and I want to make it clear that I am neither. There is no other area of my life where I am remotely as organised. I haven't hoovered for two weeks, I tend to blow dust out of the way as I pass rather than indulging in proper cleaning, and am utterly incapable of having a full fridge containing more than one option (usually involving cheese) for dinner at a time.

The reason for my compulsive record keeping comes from the fact that I lost my mum to cancer when she was only 42, and I was 21. Accordingly I lost the memory keeper for my childhood, and there is very little of it left. I want to make sure that my children have the evidence of their childhoods and of my love for them there whenever they want to have a look, or need reassurance that they were cherished. At all the big events in my life since mum died - graduation, job, house, marriage, birth etc I have had half a hope that there may have been something left for me from my mum - a letter of advice or congratulations written in the past to be given out in the future, but there wasn't.
I think it is only inevitable when you experience the early loss of a parent that you have a kind of fatalistic expectation that the same end will befall you. My husband gets exasperated and frightened if I occasionally indulge in this way of thinking, and I am 99% sure that I will live a longer and healthier life than my poor mum, but still it is nice to keep my thoughts, musings and memories in a form that can be easily accessed in the future.