Monday, 30 May 2011

Blame it on the buggy....

Don't blame it on the sunshine, don't blame it on the moonlight, don't blame it on the good times...


It's in the lyrics, so I have to do as it says - blame it on the buggy.

That sodding Quinny Buzz 3, with it's wide wheel base, ten tonne weight and inexorable ability to be BIG in everything it does - it has a LOT to answer for.
So what if it comes with 5 star comfort and precision steering, the ability to turn on a six pence while pushing it with my little finger.
Who cares, when this bugger of a buggy has caused me pain and suffering???

Grace, the little dear, loves it - strutting her stuff on the buggy beat around the village with the dog, waving at her play mates like the Queen, as they wave back in their Asda smartprice 4 wheelers (the commoners) and MacLaren sports (the middle classes). But this means nothing to me - Lady Grace is happy, I am livid.

So what's to blame on the buggy?

1) Not being able to get into the loo at the shopping centre - the wheels are too wide - inconvenient, but free to fix - assuming you can ignore the tuts from the wheelchair users as I decend on the disabled conveniences.

2) Not being able to get into the changing rooms at Next - the buggy is too long to fit behind the curtain - inconvenient, but free to fix - though not permitted into the disabled cubicle (it's "against policy") you can get down to your smalls in the un-privacy of an end cubicle with the curtain wide open... fine, just avoid Half Term - too many leering snotty nose kids craning their necks to get a good look at my backside.

3) Not being able to change my own tyre - I have the AA to call when the car gets a flat, but who's there to rescue me when the buggy pulls a puncture half way round Newmillar Dam? The answer is nobody - I have the man handle the hulk of a thing round on the rim. Inconvenient, but a good workout for an out of shape Mum.

4) Not being able to fit in the car. You think I'm joking. Matt the Husband and I bought the buggy based on kerb appeal and a gripping promotional video with a forgettable soundtrack. Yep, the buggy didn't fit in the car, and no amount of pushing, grunting and cursing could change that. So we changed cars.
And it still didn't fit... until we realised the back seats slid forward, so now it fits in... JUST.
And what else? That's when our AA membership really came in handy. 4 breakdowns later (3 for the new car, one for me), we're on the road again and out of pocket. But Grace loves her new wheels and the space it affords her. On a recent trip to see her grandparents in Norfolk we managed to fit in all of her favorite toys along with the dog, right there in the boot with the buggy.

I hate it. Grace loves it. It's our first mother-daughter difference - she's got her own mind, and it's starting to show! Here is a photo of Grace at 9.5 months, up in arms about the talk of replacing the Quinny with a cheaper model so we can sell the Troublesome Touran and get a Robin Reliant instead.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Singing in the Rain!

Or if you are Matt the Husband, it's more like Warbling in the Wind. Blessed with a musical ear and talented on the song-writing front, he somewhat sadly can't hold a tune for toffee. Grace however loves every minute of it and whether he's whittering 'The Grand Old Duke of York' or 'Old MacDonald has a Farm' she likes being out with her Daddy walking the dog in all weathers.

And all weathers it was today. One minute sunny and warm, the next pissing down and flipping the brolly inside out for good measure. Nevertheless Grace sat stoic upon her throne and braced the wind and rain as any nine month old would do. Enjoying watching Daisy-woof of Dewsbury darting around with her clan, the dog walk passed in a flash and it wasn't long before we were back in the car for a warm up.

The Godfather- Michael, (horses head safely away on storage), cooked up a breakfast fit for a king (or a godfather if you will), and then had a good long debate with Grace in the kitchen... talking bananas for sure, to be sure.

Happy Sundays!!

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Beans on Toast or Sunday Roast?

It started out with me pondering family traditions. Would I follow the trend of my upbringing - the Sunday Roast - or would I create my own? It started back at Christmas when we decided how to spend our first with Grace. We opted to travel to my parents in Norfolk and then spend New Years Day with the in-laws in Yorkshire. But do I want to do this every year, or more's the point today, do I want to slave over a Sunday roast every week?

It might not come down to choice. We've started today with a frugal feeling in the air. As much as it pains me, I will be budget-busting, frugal-finding at the supermarket from now on as this month marks the last of my back from maternity leave overtime.
I draw the line at becoming a freegan. Freegans raid the bins for food chucked out by the supermarkets, and it's a trend I'm quite interested in but not brave (or crackers) enough to try. And why would I when there's a perfectly decent supermarket a stone's throw away. Besides, we're skint - but not that skint. No, we wont be turning to freeganism (is that a word?). But we will be shopping for groceries on a budget.

I always said the one thing I wouldn't skrimp on would be food, and to be honest we live pretty cheaply in that department anyway. I think the key to it is cooking with raw ingredients from scratch. It's fun to cook and it tastes so much better than anything processed, and we tend to eat a wider variety of meals rather than sticking to a tried and tested meal plan, getting a taste for some adventurous bites along the way.

Grace of course is being raised on a multi-national baby-led weaning diet. Her favourites to date include chickpea curry, meatball risotto, paprika chicken and of course the age old favourite chilli con carne. In a rush for lunch last week she ate a tin of Cross & Blackwell pasta shapes in tomato sauce with toast. I ate it with her - it was suprisingly bad... tastless slop and something I vow never to feed her again - not even for convenience. I'm glad I tried it, I see things differently now.

Healthy balanced food needn't be expensive, or at least that's what I'm hoping. We've loaded the card Matt the Husband gets as a perk from the bank - it's a pre pay mastercard that you load with cash and shop as normal - the benefit is, you get between 1-10% cash back on all your spends depending on where you shop. Asda is 4%, Sainsbury's 5% etc etc. I'll let you know how we get on. The bonus is, you can't spend more than you've loaded it up with, so there's no overspend risk.

As for Grace, she's still doing really well with her weaning. She's taken to taking little bites from an apple which is terribly cute, and she's still enjoying her weetabix for breakfast - she can knock back a whole one now, it's only a matter of time before she nails two!!

But back to the point of this post - Sunday Roast or Beans on Toast? This week marks the last weekend shift for me in a long long time. In fact ever. Every job I have had involved evenings or weekends. And at last 18 years after starting work, I am working my last weekend shift. I can hear fireworks and fanfare in the background just thinking about it. I may treat myself to a glass of bubbly.
Coke that is, remember I'm on a budget!
So anyway, once I start weekdays I think I will start Sunday roasting it. I may even attend Church every Sunday although that does largely depend on what time Grace wakes. As for beans on toast? That might be a mid-week treat as we all love beans, Matt the Husband in particular.

In essence then, traditions are what you make them. Grace will have her Sunday roasts, and she will also have her Beans on Toast. As for other traditions like Christmas, well, its a bit early in the year to be musing about that. Ask me again later. And other traditions? I'll create some just for Grace as we travel along life's path. Watch this space!

Friday, 13 May 2011

Keeping up with the Clarkeses

Neither Matt the Husband or myself know any Joneses and if we did, we'd inevitably feel we ought to be keeping up with them. They aren't runners, nor are they particularly quick, but they do seem to be leaders in the modern life must-haves benchmark.

Balls to benchmarks I say, but anyway - that's not the point of this blog.

I have a friend - a Clarke funnily enough - who is everything a modern Mum aspires to be, self included. Even Grace and Matt the Husband come over doe-eyed when they see her. Clarke is the epitomy of modern wannabe have-all, do-all Mothers. She does the hoovering - before work. She does the ironing, while watching the latest DVD with the kids and tickling her partner with her left big toe as she goes. She cooks - brilliantly and even manages to straighten her locks and apply a light organic tinted moisturiser before going to bed in case the emergency services knock on the door in the night. Oh and she's a looker too. (Read that back, I said looker, not hooker). Yes, this Clarke is fiendishly organised and tick-box savvy. A little dotty perhaps, but guuuuud!

So to the point.

Clarke has the ability to keep house, look great, hold down a job, raise two beautiful kids, and still polish the wheel trims on the car before the supermarket run, all without very much effort it would seem. I on the other hand, I am lucky if I get the hoover round once a week, bag clutter into the car if I run out of cupboard space and hope somewhere along the line Grace gets everything she needs from me in order to become a balanced healthy individual.

I've acquired a book that I'm hoping will help me. It's not chicken soup for the soul, or any other such self-help book. It's genius and I am half way through already. Obviously the hoovering is going amiss this week as my time is diverted elsewhere. Yes I hear you mutter, stop writing these sodding blogs and maybe you'd have more time for the cleaning... but YOU have Apps, twitter and wii fit. I have this blog, so nanas to you.

As for keeping up with the Clarkeses, I'm inspired. Wish me luck!!

p.s. Kim darling. This isn't about you, although we both know you'd love it to be. You're still a great Clarke mind. X X X

And i f this post goes whoosh off the face of the earth AGAIN, I will be most miffed.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Captain Conjunctiva!

Grace has had a run in with Captain Conjunctiva and woke up this morning looking very pirate-like. Eyes sealed shut with lots of gunk slapped on with a glue stick sent in the night from Pirate Itis. Plenty of oo-arring in the bath under rough seas as we bathed the crust off. Not much more to say on the matter, apart from plugging a childrens book written by Preston Rutt, a chap I was in a drama group with in my teens - have a gander, it's a great story available from Amazon.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Grace's business venture

I can't send her to Dragons Den with it as it's not a new concept but I am chuffed that Mummy has a cunning plan for Birdie to earn her keep. Or at least contribute to it.

I can reassure you I have no plans for setting up a sweat shop in the new shed although I confess I did give it consideration - Matt the Husband reckoned on squeezing 4 sewing machines in, 5 at a push but we don't have anything that needs sewing so that was a non-starter.
Taking the idea from the Zen Habits blog (see our favourite things list), I have signed graceandme up for AdSense with google. Quite what this means I have yet to be enlightened - I gather it's me saying it's OK for google to place relevant ads on my page which I receive an income on based on the number of readers who click on the link.

I'll keep you posted. We'll put the money to one side for Grace's first pony. For now she'll have to make do with Karl.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Tartan Tot

Thanks to our Scottish friend Sheli, Grace is now kitted out in her very own Kilt. To mark the occasion, we spent the afternoon reading 'Rab the Haggis' by Uncle Marvo... we didn't understand a word of it. It's wonderfully good!

Nine months none the richer

It should be Sixpence none the richer - the Texan pop/rock band from the 90's. I like to pick my titles from random things that pop into my head, so here you have it - Grace is nine months old, and I am certainly no richer. Well not financially. But I DO feel richer in my life per se - she's taking up such a large part of it, I can't help feel happy and content. She must be rubbing off on me. (No filth please, this is a family blog!)

Nine months in. Wow! Little birdie has been alive almost as long as she was sat inside me waiting to say hello to the big wide world. Many mothers I speak to seem to be on a roller coaster ride, as I am too... ups and downs, fear, excitement, tears and without a doubt the odd rant and tantrum. Matt the Husband is ever sporting - he learnt a long time ago to grin and bear it, and he does so ever so well. He has the odd blip where he turns into an irrational dribbler who can't form an argument for toffee and this leads to frustration on both parts because there's nothing I love more than a jolly good spar. Nonetheless, we haven't put coins into the sin tin for ages and Grace hasn't either - although she might be forming the odd word or two, there is nothing remotely akin to a swear word, thankfully.

Back to business. Grace is now merrily clapping her hands with gusto, beginning to bum-shuffle (copied the technique from Dimitris yesterday I believe), and sprouting baby teeth like they are going out of fashion. Six to date and still drooling.
Her sitting is spot on now - very stable and certainly her favoured position to be left in while I get on with 'jobs'. I have yet to have her weighed for her nine month milestone as I'm seeing the health visitor in the week and she'll be doing it then. I do know she's growing... her 12-18 month clothes are fitting exceptionally well and in some cases looking a little popeye.
Her legs have sprung into action this week and she loves doing squats while we support her under the arms. A pliƩ, if you will.

Ballet aside, she's a little poppet and everybody comments on what a charming little girl she is. Here here!

So there you have it, nine months Grace, one skint Mummy. Parenthood - wouldn't swap it for anything.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Clampits in Cleethorpes

Once lumped in with Grimsby as one of the crap towns in the UK, I was under the impression that Grimsby goes with Cleethorpes like butter goes with bread. Doing my research beforehand when The Aged P's suggested it as a meeting point, I was somewhat concerned that we had slim chance of rustling up a Burberry baseball cap between us and worried we would stick out like a sore non-chav thumb. It was actually a lovely day and we didn't have any run ins with the locals apart from a bitterly miserable woman at the beach front kiosk grumbling at how the wind had 'ruined' the bank holiday for business. Ignoring that, we had a faultless day. Possibly with the slight exception of:

1) Me ending up looking like a scarecrow after forgetting a hair band to keep the mane under control, and

2) Matt the Husband getting Mother's wheelchair stuck in the sand dunes in his comical attempt to be a superhero

Nevertheless, Grace had a great time and did ever so well eating al fresco while having her cobwebs blown asunder with the gale of a sea breeze.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Dimitris' Christening

Grace had a very interesting Saturday afternoon attending a Greek Orthodox Christening for Dimitris Colin King, her second cousin. I think. I have always been more than a little confused on family generation lines, but for posterity, here is my best stab at it...

If Christina and I are first cousins, then I am cousin once removed from Dimitris, meaning he is one generation distant from me. Grace and Dimitris are therefore second cousins as they are children of first cousins. I find it ever so confusing, and as such Dimitris knows me as Auntie Heather and Grace with Auntie Christina. It's no wonder family generation lines are foggy - we create it! I'll pencil it in for sometime distant to draw a big algorithm for Grace to nail it before she starts school so she can wow her teacher.

Today in the news...

Moorland fires across parts of Lancashire, Northern Ireland and Wales are causing immense damage to flora and fauna while firefighters battle to tackle the blazes fanned by strong winds and accelerated by weeks of dry weather.

Osama Bin Laden today has been reported killed in a raid on a location in Pakistan by US forces. America's Most Wanted, Head of Al-Qaeda thought to be responsible for the attacks on September 11th 2001 where 19 hijackers took control of 4 commercial airliners and committed terrorism, killing over 3000 people.

The late Pope, John Paul II was yesterday beatified at a ceremony at the vatican in front of hundreds of thousands of Catholic faithful. Beatification, or declaring a person to be "blessed", is the necessary prelude to full sainthood. For this to happen, the Vatican must declare the person to have performed a miracle. In John Paul II's case, Sister Marie, 49, said she and her fellow nuns had prayed for the intercession of the Pope after his death to cure her from Parkinson's Disease. Her sudden cure had no logical medical explanation and she later resumed her work as a maternity nurse, the Vatican says.

News taken from