Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Do you pass the Bic Test?

Casting a sideways glance at myself in the mirror last night, I realised enough is enough. I have less than four months until I shall be bikini-clad on the beach in Turkey and the thought of this currently puts the fear of God into me like nothing else. I have thighs wobblier than Smart Price jelly and my tummy, now that's in serious need of some work. Put bluntly, there are enough folds in my pouch that I could discretely nurture a small wallaby, possibly two.

So I go for a jog this morning, me and my belly. Just a short run in the dark with the dog before work. Apart from walking most of it, I'm out of puff and my hips are aching like I'm done a marathon in the bedroom with an A-lister. It's a start I suppose and I leave the house for work feeling enthused and proud of my efforts.

Arriving at work, still stiff and suffering, I'm starkly reminded of what I am striving to achieve... my workmate Ali is sat at her desk with a flat midriff and pert boobs. My boobs went south a long time ago, and while Ali claims her 50 year old twins are pert enough to pass the Bic Test I'm left feeling dismayed that mine would fail without a second thought. Now the Bic Test I'm told, is a marker for a pert chest - if you can hold a biro under your boob, it's sagged. Ali reckons she has a 100% drop rate. I'm jealous. Never mind carrying one pen, I could probably manage a whole pencil case, worse still my handbag. I'm mortified. I've got 15 years on Ali and yet her tits peer out of her top like she's just had implants and follow me round the office like the eyes on an antiquated portrait on the wall of a stately home. They're always looking at me.
Taunting me. Look at me!

I'm off to cry into my tea.

And biscuits.

Monday, 30 January 2012

The Deep

Mesmerised by the fishies in the aquariam, Grace, Matt the Husband and me, we had fish n chips for tea.

Friday, 27 January 2012

The Bully Boy

We were minding our own business today, Grace and me, at a play date with a hottie some months her junior. Ehtan and Grace played quietly, toddling around the local indoor soft play, tugging at Aunty Sheli's trousers when they wanted a run on the slide. It's keeping her fitter than Zumba. Anyway, there we were, merrily building a tower of padded bricks when THUD, Grace hits the floor face down pushed by a little boy in a white vest.

Dusting her off, we start to re-build the tower. The boy body slams into it, bricks flying in all directions. Miffed, Grace decides she wants to go on the seesaw. The boy dives in front of Grace and knocks her to the floor. He's tagged... BULLY.

The Bully carries on wreaking havoc. He wrestles Ethan to the floor and gets him in a headlock. A glare from Ethan's Mum does nothing to abate the intimidation and it takes until Aunty Sheli springs to her feet garbling in her Scottish tongue for the little blighter to release his grip and Ethan to suck some air into his oxygen starved lungs.

The Bully is unfazed. Grace is on her way to give an affectionate kiss to another toddler balancing on the netting. The Bully charges like a rhino knocking the little boy backwards and banging his head on the way down. Grace is confused and looks to me for reassurance. Her bottom lip quivers. I've had enough.

The Bully's mother is nowhere to be seen. Probably having a mocha latte with her iphone 4 glued to her shellac nails while she 'connects' on facebook or twitter maybe. Ignorance is bliss. Grace and me up sticks and head home. She's tired and I'm fed up with having to manage the health and safety of a bunch of under two's while lady muck couldn't give a toss what he little sod gets up to.

It strikes me as less than ironic that there is a noticeboard opposite the exit advertising self-defense classes for children to help them stand up to bullies. It seems The Bully comes here often.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Four Day Parenting

I'm noticing a pattern beginning to emerge. It's called Groundhog Day. Going through the motions in ever decreasing circles, my week is split most definitely in two; that of Mummy's week (4 days) and Working Mummy's week (3 days). And the guilt is slowly creeping up on me as for three days on the trot, week after week, Grace see's me for five minutes in the morning where I ask her how she's slept and kiss her goodbye and wave her off to nursery, and then in the evening it's not much better.

We chat in the car on the way home, Grace and me, talking about her day (yesterday it was baking Moon Cakes for Chinese New Year), and then she plays with her Daddy at home while I prepare a meal before she has her bath and bed. And the scary thing is, I think she's starting to pick up on the fact she doesn't get much Mummy-time on the days I work. She holds her arms out to me and clings on for dear life as if to say 'tell me it's not work again today Mummy?' It's breaking my heart.

I know I'm not alone in this syndrome, woman of many hats, juggling the ball and spinning the plates. But short of keeping Grace up beyond her natural bedtime to spend a wee bit longer with her, what can I do?

I'm on the treadmill of life and I wanna press the emergency STOP!

Any tips gratefully recieved :0)

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

The problem with Husbands

Evidently there are many. When I met Matt the Husband known then simply as Matt, I overlooked the fact that he too was a person with the need for sleep. I presumed women’s lore trumped and I would sleep while he tended to our love child in the dark pre-dawn hours. I was wrong.

Muffled cries from the child’s room this morning left me burying my head under the pillow and nudging Matt the Husband with my elbow. Since marrying, my elbow does not have the power it once had and I am verging on calling a war meeting. You see, he has started snoring. The primary reason for marrying the thirty-something was supposedly his eligible bachelor USP. HE DID NOT SNORE. A few weeks ago, he suffered inflamed tonsils and since then has been to and fro to the Doctors office trying out a variety of different anti-b's for size. Nothing is working. His tonsils are still the size of cherries and his snoring is driving me round the bend.

In the good old days, one nudge from the elbow would see him roll over and sleep quietly again so he never really developed an established snore. No more. Nights nowadays are spent listening to him rattling like train going over a rickety bridge and I'm on the verge. I'm knackered. HE is moody because I keep waking him up to stop him snoring, and Grace is still grizzling in her bedroom waiting to be rescued by her Daddy. But the problem is this... since he started snoring and losing sleep, he has been less inclined to spring out of bed at the crack of dawn to tend to our aforementioned daughter. He pretends he's asleep. He pretends he can't hear her. He pretends it's my turn but the silly sod has forgotten our pre-nup that clearly states HE DOES NIGHT TIME WITH DAUGHTER (as God knows, I need my beauty sleep). Alas times are tough in the Langdale household.

Eventually he did slide out of the bed after suffering a number of blows from my ever-frustrated elbow, and he did look after Grace's needs as he does so well when it's dark outside. He plonked her on the sofa in front of CBeebies and pissed off into the shower. So as it turns out, I had to get up anyway.

And THAT my friends, is the problem with husbands.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

S*** Sticks!

You'll have heard the saying 'Shit sticks'? Well, I have it on good authority that it does indeed stick. Over-swinging a little on the desire to get Grace into good habits on having her 5-a-day, we opened her Grobag this morning to be greeted by a poop explosion of Kiwi fruit and Green Giant niblets. Not only had the brown stuff breached the nappy and the PJs, but the vest and sleeping bag as well. Holy crap, one might say.

Short of getting kitted out in a hazmat suit, Matt the Husband pegged his nose and took the offender through to the bathroom to be hosed off. A question for you first though:

Q: How do you get a vest off of a toddler that's covered in crap without smearing it all over her face and hair?

A: Simply put, without a pair of scissors you can't.

Grace stood looking confused and sorry for herself holding onto the edge of the bath with a proud smear up her back and a daubing on her cheek teetering on the brink of sliding down to her chin at the next shiver.

I must remember to tell her to get her shit together.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Thursday, 19 January 2012


Quietly we sat last night enjoying Mummy-Daughter time, a bottle of milk, a cuddle, stroking of cheek and back of neck as Grace relaxes into the moment before bed. After a while she stretches and decides to stand up on my lap. She wants to do 'bouncy-bouncy', I can see it in her eyes. Sure enough I become a human trampoline, holding her hands as she jumps and jumps, my thighs wobbling embarassingly like a badly made jelly. This carries on for a while, peppered with giggles and shrieks of laughter and pleasure from us both. She's getting tired, but she knows her own mind already... everytime I ask if she wants to go to bed she shakes her head with a vengeance and its clear she has no intention of sleeping for the timebeing.

She bounces some more, Grace does, burning energy and becoming overexcited. She slaps me twice, hard, in quick succession - bam bam, across the chops. Stunned I tell her that's naughty and she mustn't hit. She hits herself on the head instead, bam bam. She looks confused and does it again.

She's overtired now, so I tell her she's going to bed. Shaking her head furiously she begins to wriggle. I kiss her on the forehead and she settles for a moment to hug me. The protest is over, my angel is back.

I dont see it coming. I'm caught up in the moment of serenity, sharing a memory with Grace before she goes off to sleep. Like a dart in my arse, she bites me. HARD. 20 little pearly whites sinking into the flesh in my arm. I cry out and she looks up and smiles. A beautiful smile that says I love you Mummy. The little B hit the matress faster than she could say JAWS.

I'm calling Super Nanny.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012


I come to work to partake in something akin to being an adult. This is not always the case, just mostly.

I spend time with Grace (now 17 months) at home playing, reading, drawing, pandering to any urge I have to be childish. This is not always the case either – something Grace pops her hands on her hips and shrugs. She KNOWS I am peculiar at times. Mostly, sometimes often.

My work colleagues on the other hand, are kids at work. ALL THE TIME.

Yes, they might be absolutely fab at keeping me busy and entertained during what can sometimes present itself as a bloody dull job. But give me a break for dickens sake. I’m losing my grip on reality!!

Don’t get me wrong, I love my job and for every dull-as-dishwater process there is a hidden gem of Razamataz that wriggles out of the woodwork to make things ok. Like for instance, my little trip out to Istanbul in March (good) to attend a two day summit on business resiliency and disaster planning (bad). Peaks and troughs, every job has them. Overall I love it. But it’s these KIDS AT WORK getting on my tits, pardon my French.

I’ll start with Donna…. hard work. She works hard at looking busy when really she wants a fit Fireman to whisk her away to Disney heaven on a motorbike made for three so she can take her thug of a long-suffering husband with her. (Sorry Rick, you know it’s true). I love her because she makes me smile when the chips are down and I know we can always take the mickey out of each other without causing offence. Like the time I said her 80s perm (in 2011) made her look like the Lion from the Wizard of Oz…. “pud em uuuuuuup”. (I got a quiet one in the office that day).

There’s Ali and Jo too. The tag team to help me wind Donna up. Jo’s pretty quiet as she’s only been with us a few months and is still trying to fathom us out. I’ve know Ali for years, since the beginning. Not of all time, but since the beginning of this business ship we find ourselves floating on. It’s choppy waters and the commonness of suffering the same journey holds water like no other relationship might.

I can’t really go into Queenie much, she sits in the posh seats down the other end of the office and she has an aura about her. I spend my time equally between awe and awe. Remarkably, Queenie pulls of Yummy Mummy, The Only Way is Essex (in Yorkshire) with The Apprentice (Karen, not Nick or Lord Sugar) simultaneously. Think marathon runner meets catwalk with calculator. (School run excepted, although I hear she did fakebake and wax before going into labour for baby number 2). R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

The boys smell and as such I wont go into them here, today they’ve been pretty quiet getting on with work and keeping out of ‘girls stuff’ from our end of the office. They think they’re in posh seats, hobnobbing with the GM and Queenie. They’re wrong. They’re under a supervision order and are kept tabs on constantly. Everyone knows you can’t trust boys, particularly Kevin (the Second) and Jim. Fools.

Sheli, bless her, is left on the sidelines in the other office now. The only daily reminder I work in the same building as her is the ringing in my ears when she bellows at me in her cryptic Scottish tongue. Oh, and the little Happyland character that IS my mate Gobbie Dobbie. Neck scarf, handbag, curls. Check. Boyfriend with curls. Check. Dog. Check. Car. Check. Love it.

And that brings me nicely back to the point of this post. KIDS AT WORK. Do you work with grown-ups? I don’t. And Grace knows it. She waits until I'm weakened by the working day, tests the water by resisting the need to sit in the highchair for dinner, then pulls out her arsenal as if to say 'let battle commence'. Easy baby? Yes. Smart baby? Hell yes. I'm not sure what's more of a challenge. A toddler pulling the punches and calling the shots, or an office full of grown-ups fighting over the winning points in a pub-quiz written for under 14's. I'll sleep on it.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Tick-box Parenting

Pardon my P's and Q's so early in the morning, but I'm getting just a little bit peeved at the pressures put on children and parents on what they should be able to accomplish by a set point in their development or things that parents should do with their toddler before they hit school. The Telegraph yesterday ran an article on a list of landmark events I should spoon feed Grace before she turns 3 years old, activities including splashing in puddles, visiting a museum and holding a teddy bears picnic. Yes really. As if I need a reminder that splashing in puddles is fun?! Cow & Gate had commissioned the survey of 1000 Mums on their intended activities between now and then, and I don't know about you, but I don't need a milk manufacturer telling me that finger painting and listening to classical music is going to be beneficial to my kid.

It gets worse. Opening my emails this morning, a monthly newsletter from a nappy manufacturer with three sub-headings:

1) Things your 17 month old can now definately do,
2) Things your 17 month old can now probably do,
3) Things your 17 month old may even possibly do.

Hm. A week short of the 17 month marker and I'm calling an Emergency Family Meeting. Grace is underperforming, consistently falling short on targets and if we carry on at this rate, my happy go lucky todder with a heart of gold may well be put onto a performance management program as she can't yet stick two duplo blocks together or pretend to feed a doll. FFS.

Is it just me or has the world gone mad?

No Grace can't say two words together, walk with confidence, take off an item of clothing or throw a ball overhand. What she can do is be herself. Take a few steps, crawl a while. Recognise the dog, cat, sheep, cow, monkey perfectly well one day but not at all the next if she's tired. She'll sit on my lap to read a book from cover to cover, another time she might get bored on the second page. She offers her food to me and Matt the Husband before eating it herself, and given the chance she'll offer it to Mr Rabbit and the dog too. She'll lather her hair when it's being washed, ask to have her teeth cleaned, and tell us when she wants to go to sleep. Does this make her advanced or behind? I couldn't give a flying F***.

She's my daughter, warts and all. And she will friggin well develop at her own pace thank you very much. And as for listing the activities we should be doing with our children before the age of 3, there's nothing like making the working parents feel crap more than a list of things to squeeze into the hour before bed when everyone's knackered or to cram into the weekend, when all you want to do is put your feet up and spend some unadulterated one on one time with your child.

Rant over, thanks for listening! This is a picture of Grace before bed, chosing which Teddy to take to bed. She can definately do this. Probably. Possibly even. (I'm waiting on confirmation from Cow & Gate).

Sunday, 8 January 2012

The Tree of Life for Animals

Please click on the title above. It should link to the 2 minute video made for my friend Rachel's charity, set up in Rajasthan, India some years ago.

I want to raise £300 to put an air conditioning unit into the operating theatre of Rachel's charity, the Tree of Life for Animals in Rajasthan, India. Mainly caring for dogs and cows, the veterinary team work in summer temperatures up to 45c recorded in the hottest season and still around 28c in winter, they really need this a/c unit to make time in theatre bearable for pets and people. Will you help??

Such a little goes a long way in India. £50 for wages for a member of the care team for a month, £160 for 400 rabies vaccinations. Incredible.

I'll be setting up a Just Giving Page soon for this donation for the air con, although if you want to donate direct, please go to the TOLFA website and follow the links.

Thankies! x x

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Posterity Measures

As the fireworks ring in the New Year, I'm trawling through family memorabilia in search of a trigger to re-light the sparkle in my mother's eyes. We had to move her into a Care Home over Christmas as old age seems to have crept up and bitten her on the arse, and she's never looked so old and frail as she did when I visited her yesterday morning. Hunched over in her chair shortly after the carers had washed and dressed her, the time I spent with her passed without conversation or reminiscing, Mum's mind wandering in a land only she knows. I hung up the calendar that I had made for Christmas and helped unwrapped a jar of her favourite lemon curd for her, although she didn't seem interested or even aware of either. I've ordered her some music she asked for played on an antiquated music box called a Zuzkinka and I'm having a poster printed with some photographs old and new to brighten up her room including one of us together about 30 years ago on holiday, and another of her parents together on their 50th wedding anniversary. I pray she's able to recognise them when it arrives in the post. At times like this I wish I hadn't strayed away from East Anglia, as being in Yorkshire now, albeit only a three hour drive on a clear run seems so very far away.

Grace sends her wet kisses to you Mum,(she gave you one yesterday before we came home) and we said night night to the photo of you and Dad on the fridge before bed last night. Love you Mummy, get well soon, from one Mummy to another.