Monday, 27 February 2012

Baby it's cold outside (baby blues version)

We're walking in the park, Grace and me, and I can feel their eyes burning in the back of my head as they pass. They're judging me, I know it.  It's flipping nippy when the sun hides behind a cloud, and what started out as ambling along to feed the ducks and swans ended up with me wanting to scream out to random passers by "don't judge me... I am a good Mother!!"

Grace you see, has a mind of her own, which quite rightly we are working to nuture. Independent and thriving she has some rather fixed ideas on what she does and does not want to do. Like wearing a hat and coat for instance. So empathise my predicament then when Grace throws off her coat with contempt and dumps her hat in a puddle, not once, not twice, but every time I try to put them back on. Short of flashing my badge and cuffing her, there is nothing I can do.

So we carry on our walk (back towards the car and home), she gets colder and grumpier with it. This makes life harder - whenever I try slyly to pop the hat back on while she's walking as if by magic she wont notice, she stops and stares at me, stomps her foot and does what looks scarily like flipping the birdy. (Turns out she's just saying 'Shoo!').

I'm flustered. I have my hat and coat on and I'm cold... not least because I'm walking the pace of a 28 inch toddler. Grace on the other hand is a toddler on a mission - to have Mummy squirm as other Mother's and older folk totter past, clock the child with blue hands and cheeks wearing a flimsy fleece and cast me a scouring look that says 'call social services'. They haven't seen my trying, they haven't seen the fireworks going off when I try to pin her down and get the hat on. They don't realise it's probably easier for me to let Grace learn her own lessons in life. They're judging.

I try not to let it bother me - we all judge people sometime or another, but it pains me today, simply because I wanted her to be warm and comfortable, not blue and miserable. To purge, I put the heating on full bore when we got home to make it nice and toasty for my little blue girl. She looks grateful and goes for her nap like clockwork.

She wakes two hours later with her hair stuck to her face with sweat and a look that says 'open the window Mummy, you're cooking me'. I can't win!

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Bye bye cot bars!

Stop press! Grace is sleeping in a bed! A moment of madness saw me asking Matt the Husband to do away with the bars and convert the cotbed into a bed.... the very first for Grace. So diddy, the bed, it's cute and we sat at the top of the stairs after lights out last night holding our breath and wondering if the silence was too good to be true. Mummy's little angel climbed in at the end of her bedtime routine, pulled the duvet up over herself, snuggled into the pillow hugging Mr Rabbit and let us turn the light out and leave the room without so much as a peep...
She woke up 11 hours later. A freakishly easy fluke perhaps?

Her daytime nap today was a similar affair. Walked out, shut the door and listened. She chatted to herself a while then it went quiet.... she woke up around 3 hours later. Hurray Henry! If only everything were this simple!! We were bracing ourselves for weeks of havoc - the only reason we started now was because we wanted Grace in a normal bed by the time we go on holiday in May. So the fact she hasn't even batted an eyelid makes me feel lucky... privileged even. Here's hoping potty training goes as smoothly. (I know I'm counting my chickens - there's a little bit of me sitting thinking 'I'm being too gobby here' and I bet I'm in for a night of bedtime bedlam, but as it stands at the moment it's quiet up there so all looking good!)

Grace learnt to nod this week too - she still prefers to shake her head but she's getting in some very vigorous looking practise. We've been out and about with the dog on walks in the early spring sunshine too. I'm aching from that today, so unfit that I am, but Grace seems to have endless energy which is wonderful to be a part of. Here's a few pics I wanted to share with you. Bye for now!

Feeling Hip in Mummy's hat

Stomping along, happy as larry.

Checking teddy is happy with the sleeping arrangements...

Super cute - Grace 18 months

Friday, 24 February 2012

A Mother's Work Meme

Self-indulged as I am, any opportunity to talk about myself must be embraced. I've been tagged in a meme and never having taken part in one before, here goes...


1. Please post the rules
2. Answer the questions in as much or as little detail as suits you
3. Leave a comment on so we can keep track of the meme
4. Tag 3 people and link to them on your blog
5. Let them know you tagged them
6. Tweet loudly about taking part (well ok, that isn’t a rule, but how about if we start a hashtag – #amothersworkmeme


1. Did you work before becoming a mum?
2. What is your current situation?
3. Freestyle – got your own point you’d like to get across on this issue? Here’s your chance…

And, most importantly…. you’re tagged!!
northern Mum onelifeand3kids atwentysomethingmum

Off we go!

1) Did I work before becoming a Mum?
Hell yes - work was all I knew. Life before Grace (bg) saw me running a one-stop pet care centre with a staff of 50 odd with the bells and whistles to match. I loved it, it was my life and Matt the Husband was understanding of my addiction to work and the whims that went with it. Like popping into work on my days off to do some work. Or going in early doors because I couldn't sleep for thinking about work. (Or even working through the night the day we had a barney over the wedding budget!). Work was who I was. No surprise then I felt like I'd cut off my arm when maternity leave finished and I was left with a baby who didn't respond to sandwich feedback.

2) What is my current situation?
I'll hold my hands up and say I've been really lucky. Just before I went off on maternity leave my then boss was made redundant. He was the best boss I'd ever had (still) and although I felt I'd lost my other arm (!) it opened a door for me in that his full time post was cut up, diced and served hot in a rebundled package of a 3 day week. Jumping into the swivel chair while it was still warm, I got the job and it sat on the back burner for 9 months while I went off to have Grace.
Back in the saddle for a year now I've had time to reflect. There's no way on this earth I could have keep up the pace of my old job and managed to find the time to be with Grace at a level that works for me. I would have been doing two half-baked jobs and I couldn't have coped with that. As it stands I work 3 days, no strings. I go in, do my work and come home. I still get the odd email or phone call pinging on my smartphone while I'm changing a nappy on a day off, and I still sometimes pop in on my days off... but nowadays its more to say hi with Grace than it is to rattle off some jobs on my to-do list. It suits me well. The only snag has been the money - although I got a promotion, I still took a monster pay drop losing the 16 hours. But I mustn't grumble - my employer has bent over backwards to be accommodating, flexible and understanding. I know I'm one of the lucky ones.

3) Freestyle
My Mother always told me there were 2 things you didn't talk about at dinner parties. Religion and Politics, because both would cause an argument. When it comes to getting Mums back to work for those who want to, I'd like to know which twit signed the paperwork off on the levels of support available for working parents. Childcare costs are prohibitively high for your average Joe's... like £830 a month at the place we use now for Grace, and not something we could have afforded if I'd stayed full time, even with childcare vouchers. We're lucky the MIL lives locally to help us out - we send Grace to nursery once a week for the social time but a lot of my mum-friends aren't fortunate enough to have family on the doorstep to help out. Childcare nowadays seems to be a bigger commitment than taking a mortgage and it's no shocker then that many who'd like to return to work decide not to based on cost alone. A crying shame.

You’re tagged!!
northern Mum onelifeand3kids atwentysomethingmum

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Tits and Arse

You'd be forgiven for thinking I'd turned into a white van man so rest assured you're in the right place and this is me talking. Not strictly a luxury like chocolate or dare I say it, Diet Coke, but for this year's lent I'm giving up swearing.

Pick your jaw up darling, you heard right. Between now and Easter Sunday I'm substituting the real deal for something sweeter, for example... being p***ed off will become being 'eggy'. Dropping something on the floor or stubbing my toe on my halo will see me saying 'rats'. I might even find room in my arsenal for the 'whoopsie' and 'good heavens'.

Being skint and all, I wont be contributing to a swear jar. Instead I'm going to channel my energy into making this work and sticking to something for once. We give up things for different reasons. A friend is giving up Facebook, another is giving up wine. For me it's about time I washed my mouth out and cleaned up my act - Grace is oh so attentive and the last thing I want is to be be cut up by a white van man while we're out in the car and for Grace to call him a knob head.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

The Year of The Squirrel

I'm late on this one as Chinese New Year was weeks ago - 2012 being the Year of the Dragon and all. There is nothing Dragon about my year so far, save for my temper perhaps. As winter comes to a close, I am the squirrel forraging for nuts that I tucked away during milder times. You'll have gathered I'm talking metaphorically? Well in a nutshell (get it?) I'm all out of nuts.

Having a little one has finally taken it's toll. I'm suprised it's taken this long really for the effect of dropping to part-time to have an effect, a year to the day give or take. So what now? Well short of pitching tent in my mother in law's garden (which isn't really an option being flagged.. not comfy at all), I'm out of ideas.

Get a second job? Lose time with Grace, increase childcare costs. Work evenings or weekends? Lose time with Matt the Husband. I'm being soft on this one - maybe it's an option?

Take in a lodger? Lose privacy and the much needed space in the spare room for clutter (and friends when they come to stay). My sister says I don't have any friends - so with that in mind this one might be ok?

Move somewhere cheaper and smaller? Live a crummy life in a crummy area where everyone's related to everyone else, with a crummy school for Grace and crummy crime stats and for afters, lose money in moving costs and fees.

It's a toughy isn't it?

We're using home brands on the vast majority of things, we don't waste money (although my Father who knows best, obviously, thinks we're spend thrifts), and we don't lead extravagant lives - the weekend away I booked for Xmas for Matt the Husband sounds glam at first glance, until I confess it was a £20 room at Ramada with a voucher from The Telegraph and a pot noodle in the room and a bottle of cheap plonk. Really.

We've Martin Lewis'd everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) long ago, and we don't really have anything left to cut, slash or cancel. Bummer. I might have to do a Susan from Desperate Housewives. (I've just twigged why Matt the Husband got me the Ab-roller for Valentines Day). Woe is me.

I'm not looking for pity or anyone to fix this for me - just getting it down on paper so to speak is easing the tension in my shoulders which have been on 10/10 for months now. But a problem shared and all that. Do squirrels hibernate? Next year I'm going to be a tortoise and wake up in Spring. Spring being somewhere a few years down the line when the sun is up and the view is rosey. A friend of mine says she's only just coming out of the 'post-baby hardship phase' and Ava is knocking 3 years old now I think. Something to look forward to. I'm not alone - so many families are feeling the pinch, and many in a far worse pickle than me and Matt the Husband. But licking my wounds in public has lifted a weight because I know some of you will read this and tell me to get a bloody grip (and I thank you for that) because we all go about our lives with our eyes wide open. And we often don't like what we see.

So yeah in a nutshell, that's the Year of the Squirrel.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Toddlerdom 18

Time stands still and then it flies again, doesn't it? Grace turns 18 months this week and she is facing her toddler years with aplomb. Confidently on her feet since Christmas, Grace is belting around at a rate of knots exploring her world from toddler height. I have marked the occasion today by baking my very own biscuits - no mean feat for Matt the Husband, for me... a triumph. I can cook pretty well - I'm no Nigella L but I'm certainly ok. Baking on the other hand is more of a rocky road. Outcome? Taste.... GOOD! Presentation.... POOR! Who cares? At least Grace is happy.

This past week or so, Grace's development has been firing on all four cylinders after seeming to be at standstill for some weeks. She's rattling through her wooden peg puzzles, can identify an alphabet's worth of pictures (Z for Zebra, A for Apple etc), and can just about identify the letters of her name. Clever little bean. She loves to colour and draw, help out around the house (loading the washing machine is a personal favourite) and can put her clean laundry away in the right drawers. Sorted.

She loves touching plants, taking in the different textures. Likes chatting to the cats we meet as we go about our day and will read book after book, particularly those with flaps and pop-ups. We're frequent visitors now to the library where Grace brings me books to read her while I sit and relax with a coffee on the sofa (Mothers must rest and recuperate...)!

At the moment, Grace is enjoying a daytime nap (and so am I). I'm making the most of these time-outs as I know her need for sleep in the day won't carry on indefinitely. I'll miss these times in the day when I can regroup and take stock. Being a Mum is busy work and I still struggle with tiredness at times. Usually times like this when it's quiet in the house, I'm alone for a while and body and mind just go umph...
When Grace wakes up, I might have a go at converting her cot into the toddler bed for her to learn to sleep in. She's growing out of the sleeping bags being tall, and it wont be long before she'll be trying to climb out of the cot anyway. I'm astonished to find retailers flogging toddler bed duvet sets for more (yes more) than it costs to kit out a single. Less material?? Robbing bastards. Oops!! Swear jar.

Anyway, better be getting on before I melt into the back of the sofa in a post-lunch daze. Bye all, speak soon x x

Covering her eyes for a game of Hide & Seek Mr Rabbit...

Well happy!

Thursday, 16 February 2012

How I've missed you!

Last autumn, I thought I was unluckly that my cherished laptop gave up the ghost when the hard drive popped off without so much as a goodbye. To lose another only months later could be seen as being crapped on from a great height. Don't blame the pigeons, these things happen.

Back up and running again after a two week silence, I'm getting an RSI as I type - I can feel it already, that nagging ache in my left arm as I try to keep my hand from slipping over the mousepad and sending the screen whappy as I bang out a few words. I felt stifled to begin with, not having that contact with the hidden world, not being able to blog ad lib. Strange, but true. Now that I have the means I feel I have nothing to say. Grace turned 18 months this week so at some point I'll get around to putting up some photo's; such a blessed child. For now, I'm going to sign out and get the kettle on for a cuppa. I've missed you, it's good to be back.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

S is for Snow!

Yay!!!!! It snowed! I was beginning to think we'd escaped the white stuff this winter but I was wrong. There's snow on the ground and plenty of it. Grace isn't keen. She's nervous of new experiences, snow being one of them.

S is also for Soup! Homemade leek and potato. Grace wasn't keen on that new experience either. Maybe next time?

"I really don't think I like this!"

A smile that says "I feel safer in here".

A worried look that says "I'm still not sure about that snow..."

Saturday, 4 February 2012

I'm clean

Fifteen months after being referred to the doctor by the Health Visitor for post-natal depression I've been signed off. At my appointment yesterday I felt such a weight lift off my shoulders knowing I would no longer be taking support from Citalopram to help me navigate the hardest job I've taken on in my life.

It's such a shame that there is still so much ignorance of post-natal depression (and depression in general) - you'll have heard the ads on the TV and radio encouraging us not to judge those of us who suffer with it. I was therefore amazed to be sat in the waiting room at the doctors a while back to bear witness to unabashed ignorance alive and kicking, and from NHS staff. A real kick.

Minding my own business waiting for my turn, I'm half listening to the conversations of others, as you do. Tuning in and out to snippets of something and nothing. Then I focus:

"I don't get all this fuss they make over post-natal depression." said one Receptionist to the other. She's in her fifties.

"Me either. In our day we just got on with it, didn't we?"

"We did love, we did. I mean, you have to don't you? No use crying and feeling sorry for yourself."

I couldn't believe it, and to talk about it in full earshot of the waiting room. Hell, my blood was boiling and I wanted to get up and go and have a little word in their ear telling them to mind the topics of conversations they choose to have with no regard. I didn't. Instead I bit my tongue and mentioned it to my GP. I can't blame them - they're only talking about what they know. It just frustrated me.

PND for me was nothing to do with crying and feeling sorry for myself.

1) I felt I failed in childbirth - first I was induced and then I hit inertia at 4cm and had an emergency caesarian some hours later.

2) I felt I failed in breastfeeding - the one natural thing I could do for my newborn, and I couldn't. I was pushed from pillar to post by various people, the midwife, the health visitor, the breastfeeding support line. None of them diagnosed thrush in the nipple to be the cause of the excrutiating pain and it was only by chance I diagnosed myself and got treatment from the GP. By which time the skin on my nips had sloughed off completely making breastfeeding utterly impossible. I lasted 10 days and I still remember the nightmare of this experience clear as day.

3) I gained a beatiful child, perfect in every way. I lost my identity. My career. My routine. Unchartered territory that left me feeling resentment and dispair.

So next time I hear someone missing the point about PND, I won't be a shrinking violet and say nothing. I'll be up at that reception desk in a shot to put them straight. And so should you.

I have a new life now, a different identity, a new routine and it's far more fulfilling than my past life. Having Grace is more rewarding than anything else I've encountered and the rewards I get from being a Mother trump my old life hands down. Totally. After all, my Outlook Calendar and To-Do List never gave me a 'cuggle' or gave me a look that says simply 'I love you'.

Friday, 3 February 2012


You might have seen this doing the rounds on Facebook at the moment. It tickled me. We haven't co-slept with Grace, but she does come in for a cuddle every now and again, usually at weekends when we aren't in a hurry. If ever she falls asleep in our bed, we're probably looking at Jazz Hands. If she doesn't, it's definately The Stalker. What about you and yours?

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Mr Bloom's Packet

Parents will know what I mean when I talk about Mr Bloom and his Nursery. They might also recall the furore last summer when lusty online Mums sparked interest from the media after it was spotted there was a collective fancy of the allotment-loving man. Mums were saying things like "my little girl loves Mr Bloom, and I must admit I fancy him myself" and "I often wonder what he'd look like without those gardening clothes on?"

For those of you who haven't a clue who I'm talking about, Mr Bloom (Ben Faulks in real life) is a character in a TV series for 'tiddlers' aimed at educating them about the goodness of vegetables using likeable characters, including for instance Sebastian the Aubergine (my personal favourite).

Before I go on let me make something clear. Mr Bloom, he's OK. I don't fancy him (much), I just enjoy his program with Grace more than some of the others we sometimes watch. Like Justin's House or Rasta Mouse. Why? Because veggies aside, he's a likeable Yorkshire lad (in character) who makes me want to string up bunting in the garden and have a go at growing radishes. Really. So what's my beef?

He's turning my own little tiddler, Grace, into a Yorkshire lass. Na' then ah'm not sayin ther's owt rong wi' t' Yorksha accent, bur bein 'alf Yorksha 'alf sahthern ah thowt grace 'ood be eur lahl less broad. Hmm.
Every word Grace says or begins to form sounds like Mummy and Daddy... neither board Yorkshire nor Queens English and plummy. She's a hybrid mix that sounds, rather, well... like Grace. However, the word she seems to say the most (Hello) is very very broad. And manly. Like Mr Bloom. In fact she's so like him when she says it, she actually lowers her voice to speak in the same octave as Mr Bloom.... my darling Grace is becoming a twenty-something Yorkshire lad. It's quite disturbing to listen to!

On the upside, she's learning her vegetables so I mustn't really grumble. He is after all quite fit. Mr Bloom can sow his seeds in my garden any day.

With Mr Bloom: Colin the Runner Bean, Joan the Fennel, Margaret the Cabbage, Raymond the Butternut Squash. (Photo: BBC)