Sunday, 26 December 2010

Things I learned this Christmas

Now that I have had time to thaw (yes, the snow is melting) and stuff myself (far too much), I feel that I can share with you the things I have learned during this, Babies First Christmas:

1. No, she is not more interested in the wrapping paper and the boxes, especially when there are the flexes of four dozen strings of sparkly lights to chew.
2. Turkey dinner mashes up marvelously to make a yummy baby mush.
3. Turkey dinner is no fun when it is processed and passed out the other end.
4. Baby will make it through the day, and indeed the whole holiday season, without any items branded with 'Babies First Christmas'.
5. Mummy and Granny however, will feel the need to buy everything branded with the above slogan.
6. What used to be an adequate sufficiency of pre-dinner drinks is now an absolute skinful.
7. Much mulled wine = merriment. Much mulled wine + childcare = afternoon hangovers.
8. Baubles are really fun until baby throws them on the ground and they smash into smithereens causing an extra housework chore.
9. The big pile of DVDs under the tree will remain unwatched until baby learns how to go down at night without a battle, and how to nap for longer than a half hour. Or until she is a teenager and would rather go out with her friends.
10. Babies do not respect Carols From King's. Why ever not?

Roll on next year!

Radio silence now until the New Year, so have a good one and spare a thought for those of us who will be home, praying that the baby sleeps through. Maybe that will be her New Year's Resolution?!

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Festive Flicks

The other night I found myself watching Bridget Jones’ Diary. For the fifteen millionth time. And I realised it is supposed to be a Christmas film (reindeer jumpers and the odd snow dependant joke) and it made me start thinking about my favourite films for watching at Christmas. I challenged Granny Bloggings to come up with our top 5’s as I thought it might give you all a little inspiration to step outside of the Bridget Jones box…

So my 5 for Christmas viewing are (prepare yourselves - they are a bit random because Old Granny Bloggings chose first and she got pretty much all 5 that I was going to pick!):

Love Actually – Can I have that with a side order of cheese please? Yes, yes, I know, if I was cool this would not be in there. But I am not. And I like a bit of Hugh Grant dancing around to Girls Aloud. How can something so wrong feel so right?

– What was I saying about cheese? I think you’ve got to have at least one fairy tale at Christmas time and this one surprised me with how fun it is, for kids and adults. Watch it, if only for Robert De Niro as you have never seen him before.

Some Like It Hot - Right, so, first of all, I cheated. This has no nod to Christmas at all but it is the movie that I could watch every year without fail. It is a perfect film for all ages, I’ve loved it since I was about 12 and still do now that I am aged. And it’s a proper feel good flick. And it has some snow in it.

Planes Trains and Automobiles – Alright, so this choice is a cheat too – this one is Thanksgiving… BUT… it is a total ‘holidays’ (as our friends across the pond would say) movie. Candy and Martin are comedy geniuses (what is the plural?) and this film can only enhance your festive season.

Die Hard – Yes, it is set at Christmas. Ha! Any excuse for a bit of Bruce. Not only is he running barefoot, wearing only a ripped sweaty vest, fending off a horde of heinous terrorists, he still has time to be funny. Brilliant. OK so maybe not your family feelgood movie, but once the kiddies are in bed, it is the perfect way to kill a couple of hours of the pre-present excitement.

OK, here are Granny Bloggings top five favourite festive films:

The Bishops’ Wife – the David Niven original for me but the more recent version with Denzel Washington for yum yum appeal.
It’s a Wonderful Life – Granddad and I watch this every year and know it word perfect by now.
Scrooged – Bill Murray at his best
National Lampoons’ Christmas Vacation – possibly the silliest film ever but I love it and it has a very slight yum yum factor if Chevy Chase is your kettle of fish.
White Christmas which is almost interchangeable with Holiday Inn – yeah, I cheated and got an extra one in, tee hee.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Granny Bloggings has a visit from the ghost of Christmas Past...

My dad believed in Christmas in a big way and this required DECORATIONS! He was the village school master so first he used to make sure the whole village was decorated – a veritable rival to Oxford Street! Then came our house which he turned into an Aladdins cave – oh yes he did, - look behind you! We had tinsel on our tinsel, we had whirly things hanging all over the ceiling, we had mistletoe and holly hanging at every conceivable angle, yet the Christmas tree was never brought into the house until after I was in bed on Christmas eve. I wonder now if that tradition was not born from his desire to decorate it himself. Anyway, once up, it threatened the national grid with its’ strands of coloured lights – yes dear reader, coloured lights – I never claimed any of it was tasteful did I!

We always had a party at Christmas and there were certain elements to said party which could never be omitted. Sausage rolls, cheese and small white pickled onions on sticks stuck, hedgehog style, into a potato covered in silver foil, trifle decorated with stiff cream and garish glace cherries and cold sausages wrapped in bacon – well this was the 1950’s. Then there would be games, mainly charades and then followed by my fathers’ Christmas Treasure Hunt.

Ah, The Christmas Treasure Hunt! All the children in our family have spent countless happy hours racing round the house looking for ‘clues’, wooden spoons tied to chair legs, hairbrushes standing amongst the Poinsettias, old shoes taped under tables. My father would sit in a comfortable chair whilst children and adults tore back and forth whispering their answers in his ears and being given the next clue. It must have taken him days to type out all the clues and gather all the objects and I don’t remember there ever being a prize at the end of it, although as a treasure hunt I guess there must have been, but the fun was in the tearing about and the whispering, we loved it!

My father died recently and whilst clearing out his attic I came across a box filled with hundreds of small, yellowing pieces of paper – the Christmas Treasure Hunt! Of course I had a little weep before transferring the box to my own attic so that when CK is a little older I will be able to give her the joy of The Christmas Treasure Hunt – some traditions should never be forgotten!

Have a good one and a happy and healthy new year!

Granny Bloggings

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Countdown to Christmas Day 18 (1 week today!): Dear snow and snow...

I am channelling the spirit of Kat over at 3 Bed Bungalow so I thought I would present you all with my thoughts in a 'Dear So and So' today. Here goes...

Dear Snow,

I am going to have to be blunt about this but will you please f*** off? You are very very pretty and I know my South African followers will think I am just being a tad churlish, but seriously, I have had enough for one year.

Not only do you wreak havoc with my social life, causing me to miss festive celebrations, but you also force me to be stranded at home with a 9 month old child, whose energy is far too great to be cooped up. Back in January when I was still preggers and working, it was great to have you here - I had a good reason to miss a whole week of my last month at work which was wonderful. I give you that. But now that I am a 'lady what lunches' I am no longer laughing.

It is only 10 in the a.m. but I am already thinking about how the hell I am going to keep that little spider monkey entertained for the rest of the day if we are housebound. Yes, we can unpack the contents of the kitchen cupboards and examine each item in detail (always good for a half hour or so), and yes, mummy can put babies tights on her head and dance around (that will keep us entertained for around 14 minutes), but after that, I am stumped. Being stuck at home with sickness was bad enough... but now we are well, being housebound again feels a bit like torture.

And there is one other problem with you, my slushy friend, and that is that you wreak havoc with my telly watching. It is not that interesting (BBC take note) to see 7 different correspondents in 7 different parts of the UK reporting that, yep, it's snowing there too. Yawn.

So if you would, snow, consider this a polite notice and go and bother someone else, someone more prepared, maybe the Norwegians?

Thanks in advance
Mummysquared and a bored little Monkey
Dear So and So...

Friday, 17 December 2010

Countdown to Christmas Day 17: Granny Bloggings ponders the fat man in red...

I’m afraid I have fallen by the wayside recently with all this blogging business, luckily it was not a snowy ditch, just laziness and lack of oomph.

But here I am, Back With A Vengeance and, assuming that none of our readers are under seven, I thought I might tackle the difficult one at this time of year – do you tell them the truth or do you not?

It is difficult because you don’t want to ‘spoil the magic’, but do you want to spend the first few years of your childs’ life lying through your pearly whites to them? Do you want to confuse and maybe terrify them by persuading them that on one night of the year a complete stranger, an old man with a sack, (though, tonight not wear a stripey t-shirt, a black beret and mask, carrying a bag labeled ‘swag’, no, not a passing Frenchman but burglar Bill) can climb down their chimney and leave them sweets and toys which you will then encourage them to take and eat despite spending all year drumming into their innocent little heads that they must never, ever, take sweets or toys from a stranger!

I told CKs’ mother when she was a small child that I would never lie to her and I told her that the Santa story was just that, a delightful tale which she could enjoy in the safety of her perfectly secure home. I told her that if she believed in the magic of the story then it would be alive for her and I am willing to bet a very small amount that my 31 year old daughter will be leaving out a sherry for Santa and a carrot for Rudolph this Christmas eve, and still loving every minute of it.

I grew up in the small Dorset village of Corfe Castle and every year Santa arrived in the village in a spectacular way; sometimes on the steam train (as he does now) sometimes on a sleigh drawn by my friends’ cart horse, once, I remember, he appeared up on the roof of a building in the village square and climbed down a large red chimney, which I am sure was not there the day before or the day after. He appeared in the bedroom window below and carefully place many colourfully wrapped presents at the foot of a childs’ bed – the child dutifully stayed asleep throughout this, his five minutes of fame. I was awe struck, I remember loving every second of every Santa-coming every year and often I had been present when the plans were made by my father and the other village worthies, so I usually knew who ‘Santa’ was and what was going to happen. Did it spoil the magic? Not one bit.

Granny Bloggings

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Christmas Traditions

Every family has their own yuletide traditions, whether it be a simultaneous assault on the presents, shredding paper and squealing with delight, or a decorous morning imbibing sherry while each gift is enjoyed in turn. Some are about the spiritual meanings of the holidays, while some are solely about consumer culture. Whatever works for you. I have been thinking about what I want for my little monkey when it comes to Christmas so here are a few traditions I will be forcing upon her.

Hats: Christmas is not complete without them (and if you knew me in my teen years you will know that I feel life is not complete without a few good hat opportunities). Sweaty cracker hats is a good start but basically anything festive, sparkly, or with ears/antlers will do the job.

Celebrating through the medium of song: I start amping up the singing of Xmas ditties around the end of October so that by now, when finishing up my Crimbo shopping I am singing along, full bore without a care in the world. Keeps me sane and ensures I have enough space to move around the crowded shops as other buyers shrink from my dulcet tones.

Cartoons: I have to get one on DVD every Christmas for watching on the afternoon, after the turkey. Last year it was Wall-E and I slept through most of it... This year is cheap - Wall-E again!

Letters to Father C: I was born a skeptic, I grew up a skeptic and am a skeptic now. Does it stop me writing to Santa on Christmas Eve? Does it stop me leaving out a mince pie, some sherry and a carrot for Rudolph? No. The charade is part of the fun.

House arrest: In my family Christmas is about being together (and eating all the food that has been bought whether you want to or not) and so we get together from about the 23rd and don't leave the house again until (on a good year) about 4th January. By that time we are all ready to leave and face another year!

I think that pretty much covers it. Is there anything I have forgotten that I need to foist upon her? Anything that will enrich her experience year on year? I don't think so - as long as she is in a silly hat, she can face pretty much anything!

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Getting my Christmas Groove Back - Countdown to Christmas Day 15

In a desperate bid to invigorate and imbue myself with festive feeling, I decided to harness the power of music TV yesterday. Yes, I succumbed to a Christmas countdown. I wish I had the skills to V-log so that you could share in my amusement at CK's response. You see, she has learned to head bang.

I blame her father; he was much more of a mosher than me with his long hair (back in the day - I demand he keeps it above the nape at all times now) and his Rammstein tendencies. Perhaps it is in the genes - other children bob gently when they like the music but not my daughter, no, she thrashes her head up and down in time (or not, as the case maybe). So I have compiled my own Christmas Song top 5 based on the degree of neck strain my daughter put herself through as an indicator of audience appeal.

5. Boney M - Mary's Boy Child - Ick. I am going to say that my child liked this one because it sounds like something from CBeebies. I hope that is the reason and that I won't have a lifetime of hearing this kind of nonsense emanating from her bedroom. Heaven forbid.

4. Wham - Last Christmas - who could help but love this one? Especially when accompanied by the video, so we can see them romping around in the snow like a pair of dewy eyed young bucks frolicking in woodland glades. Oh George, what went so wrong?

3. Wizzard - I wish it could be Xmas every day - My child is clearly attracted to the 1970's glam thing, Slade and Wizzard both charting. Obviously my love of all things tacky has rubbed off already. Oops.

2. Mariah Carey - All I want for Xmas - Perhaps babies, like dogs and bats, can hear a higher register than the rest of us... how else would you explain Little CK's enjoyment of this one?

1. Slade - Merry Xmas Everybody - NB This would not be my number 1 choice of Xmas songs but clearly CK is less discerning and likes the look of these. I think they look questionable (was going to say "like a bunch of sex pests" but thought that might be libelous) but she seemed to think they were marvelous, giggling and nodding manically throughout.

A suspect list, but I console myself with the fact that when Sir Cliff was playing, she was more interested on a piece of fluff on the carpet.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Countdown to Christmas Day 14 - No Tree for Me

Christmas has always been an enormous event in my household - Granny Bloggings is a big believer in 'doing Christmas properly', a strange sentiment from a non-Christian, but hey ho, it means I've always done well in the present department so I'm not complaining. Come to think of it, she is like that about pretty much any celebration. Come to think of it, she is like that about pretty much everything. Anyway, enough rambling, suffice to say, Christmas is a decadent, turkey-gorging, present-avalanche, sparkle-fest in our house. It's a time for family to come together to eat, eat more and be merry. We do the tree in late November, we wrap presents in August, we sing carols ALL YEAR ROUND in anticipation. Are you getting the idea?

But this year I am finding it hard to get into the spirit. I have lost my festive mojo as it were. I am cheer-less. I haven't even mustered the energy to put up a single decoration and no matter how much I listen to Mariah Carey telling me what it is she wants for Christmas I just can't get in mood. Bah. Humbug.

I thought about putting up a tree to provoke my enthusiasm but then remembered that with a Little CK crawling around like a little spider monkey (perhaps I shall rename her), it would be fair game for her and soil on my new carpet wouldn't help the mood. I thought about organising a Christmas shindig here with my friends, but have left it too late and they will all be too drunk on mulled wine by now to coordinate their diaries, let alone get here for festive frolicking. I even bought my child's first ever Christmas present (yes only one Christmas present, see what I mean? There is something wrong here) on a well-known marketplace website...

And now, my mate Carol Kirkwood on BBC Breakfast tells me there is the threat of a wonderful white Christmas to jeopardise our travel plans, keeping us from the gorging that we are booked in for over the Christmas weekend.

So I need some inspiration folks, what can I do to get in the mood? How can I re-discover my yuletide magic? And don't say that eating a whole pack of mince pies in one sitting will work. I've tried it. It doesn't.

Friday, 10 December 2010

All I want for Christmas... Christmas Countdown Day 10

Dear Santa,

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter, I really do appreciate that you are probably quite busy at the moment and so I am most grateful that you would take a moment out of your schedule, perhaps take the weight off, have a mince pie and consider my Christmas list.

This year I would really appreciate a couple of small and innocuous items (aside from world peace which is clearly at the top of my list every year).

Firstly, I would like to sleep through the night. Just from 10pm til 7 or 8 am. Just once. Without having to get up to do a feed, rock little one to sleep, or just lie awake worrying about why I haven't had to get up to do a feed or rock little one to sleep. And if you could make it possible for me to fall asleep without having to recite lists in an OCD fashion to stop myself thinking, that would be really marvelous too. Is that within your remit?

Next I was wondering about whether you can defy the laws of gravity? I know you can with the whole sleigh thing, so maybe you can when it comes to my physique? It's not terrible, it looks fine under clothes, but it's just that everything seems to have slipped somewhat. Can you arrange for a sort of winch and tighten so that everything springs back to where it once was? I know this sounds like a vain request but actually it is rather selfless - it is really more for the benefit of the other swimming pool users at my local baths.

Finally, I would like to request to be able to spend a whole day 'hands free'. I'd like to eat my meals without 'a little help' from little one, walk down the street without pushing or carrying, make dinner without someone on my hip directing procedures.

So that is it from me the year, Big Man, I hope that all is well in the North Pole, that Mrs Claus is looking forward to the Christmas specials on TV and that the elves have been behaving themselves.

Thanks in advance,


Thursday, 9 December 2010

Countdown to Christmas - Day 1 for me, Day 9 for everyone else!

So I was perusing the blogosphere this afternoon and spotted a Christmas challenge on Cafe Bebe''s blog - The Countdown to Christmas. I know I am a little late with starting this but I like the idea of a post a day for all of advent. So brace yourselves for a torrent of festive baby blogging!

Here goes for today.

I saw some of my baby friends this morning and one of the yummy mummies was reminiscing nostalgically for 'this time last year' when she was enjoying the beginning of her last trimester and reveling in the last days of freedom.

It was a useful conversation for me as I have recently been wallowing in baby boredom (check out week 19's post !) and it made me think about how much better life is for me in December 2010 than it was in December 2009...

This is what I got for Christmas last year; swollen ankles, fingers, toes, everything; intravenous Gaviscon; a gimpy hand (otherwise known as carpal tunnel syndrome); a bad back; bleeding gums; cramps in my legs; and tempero mandibular joint dysfunction (and inability to close my mouth - no, really!).

This year I get a lovely little 9 month old baby and none of the above! Life suddenly seems so much better when you count your blessings (and all the symptoms you no longer have). Roll on Christmas.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Silent Sunday

Posted by Picasa Silent Sunday is the creation of Mocha Beanie Mummy and the idea is that you let a picture speak for itself. I think this one does the job rather nicely!

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Week 19: Plague House

Other houses on our street have lovely wreaths adorning their front doors, some even twinkling with fairy lights representing thousands of happy yuletide fireflies. On our front door this week, there has been daubed a big black cross, representing that this is a plague house - woe betide anyone who dare enter.

Yes dear reader, this week we have all (me, the big hairy man, and little CK) had some kind of hideous vomity evil residing in our systems, making us feel like yesterdays jam, left out in the snow to fester silently, sadly on the curbside. Hours have been spent communing with the porcelain (in the case of the adults) or the carpet, the cot, the couch, the bath etc etc etc (in the case of the wee’un). But I have been suffering from a much, much worse malady (if that is possible - it turns out that voiding ones stomach when sober is really really not fun...who knew?!). Cabin Fever.

This highly contagious and very serious problem leaves the afflicted swinging wildly from laughter to tears, watching daytime telly and making quick phone calls to the bank stretch to over an hour, chatting to the poor phone lady who just wants to see if there is anything else she can help you with today... “Well actually, yes, I am thinking of redoing my kitchen, what colours do you think are in for kitchens this year?”

It has made me seriously rethink my choice to be a stay at home mummy. I mean, isn’t this what it is going to be like all the time in a couple of months when all my friends have gone back to work? Am I forever now consigned to spending every waking hour entertaining my child; dancing to the music channel to try to make her laugh, building towers out of anything that comes to hand for her to knock over, singing along to all her (deeply irritating) electronic jangly toys? On the days when we have nowhere to go and no-one to hang out with , then the answer to the questions above will be yes.

I guess I should just start booking some stuff in, but I am ‘joining phobic’. I am rubbish at taking part and a terrible cynic to boot. I could take part in pretty much ‘Mummy and Baby’ everything; pilates, swimming, sing and sign (really? babies that do sign language? That is so PC), exercise classes. But my fear of having to play nice and not take the mickey is too much - I suppose that naughty school kid instinct is still the default (and this from a teacher...tsk, tsk.).

So I have three choices; suck it up (as the Australians would say) and get used to the cabin fever, my own (mind numbing) company, and find some small joys every day to keep me sane; join some social groups in order to expand my mind, body, soul and social circle, and indeed just have something to do every day; or return to work...shudder.

Or I could just call my new pal Brenda down at the bank and ask her what she would do.

p.s. No Granny Bloggings wisdom this week... she is still shovelling her way out from under a snow drift and can't take the time off for blogging.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Week 18: zzzzzz

What has mostly been on my mind this week? Same thing that has been on my mind every week since the little darling was born... sleep.

When I was going off on maternity leave all these people kept telling me to get in as much sleep as I could before the baby arrived. Yeah right, I thought, how much sleep do you think I am getting? Does a woman whose proportions rival those of the blue whale really stand to get much comfortable sleep in even the largest of king sized beds? They were all fools.

Now however, I understand their wisdom.

Don’t get me wrong, I was aware of the forthcoming sleep deprivation. I know all the stuff about ‘I haven’t had a good sleep since I had my first, and that was 15 years ago’, I just didn’t rate the reality of it.

I should have bred 10 years ago. When I was at uni, I could survive on three hours a night, and not only that, but I could think straight too - I have my dissertation to prove it. Not only did I produce that in a seriously sleep deprived state but I was hungover to boot. Every day of uni. Now, I don’t have the hangover, and I am finding it hard to string a sentence together, let alone a 10,000 word essay on Renaissance Drama.

What I don’t get is how come she isn’t tired? If I am, she must be too, because when she sleeps, I sleep. And why, when offered a nap, when I am walking her round and around our village, does she refuse? What I wouldn’t give for a huge adult sized push chair and someone to promenade with me whilst I snooze.

I am assured that one day she will sleep through the night and I won’t have to follow her to university to rock her back to sleep when she rouses in the wee small hours. And that one day, I too can have a night where I go to sleep in the evening and wake up when my alarm goes off. What a revelation.

Until then, at least I can practice. So I should probably stop blogging, and start snoozing, before my little wake up call starts up once more.
The Mummatron
ps. No Granny Bloggings this week :( Not sure what she is up to... Maybe catching up on the sleep she lost when we were last staying!

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Mid Week Rant

Prepare yourselves for a rant...

OK I know this isn’t really within the remit of ‘Mummysquared - the baby blog’, but as a parent to a prospective school student, and as a teacher, I can’t help but add a short post expressing my horror at the changes to our fine education system. And please excuse my writing - my spelling, punctuation and grammar goes all out of the window when I am wound up (perhaps it is a reflection on my poor schooling?!)

So Gove is proposing the following things: changing the standards which mean that a school can be deemed ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ so that no matter what teachers are actually doing in the classroom, if the exam results aren’t there, the school will receive a poor or failing judgement; league tables will rely on students taking 5 subject - English, Maths, a language, a science and a humanity; ex-services personnel will be given better incentives than anyone else to train as teachers; there will be a greater focus on spelling, grammar and punctuation; modular learning will be stripped out with a return to an O-level style exam. And these are just a few... don’t get me started on blazers and ties.

So here is a typical school day under Gove: oh-nine-hundred-hours the siren sounds and the young recruits (lets not call them students any more, it’s too goddamned namby-pamby) are marched out into the yard for exercise. As they march, they recite aloud their spellings; “I don’t know but I can see, beautiful is spelt with a B”. These are obviously the lucky recruits who made it this far - the ones who are not capable of taking the prized baseline of 5 academic subjects are right now in the classrooms cleaning, sweeping and mopping so that the lucky blazer wearing chosen few can learn in pristine surroundings. The chosen scholars have to be able to focus properly so that they can cram all that they will need to know for that final exam.
Are you getting the picture?

I am so proud of my profession - teaching has come so far since I was at school. Teachers are mentors, they are facilitators (cheesy but true) and the good ones will change lives. Given the right opportunities.

Mr Gove and his Etonian Chums want to limit that. These changes will force schools to ignore those students who are anything other than the most academic, they will crush creativity, and stifle the best teaching.

So I am going to mount a protest... a one woman (and perhaps baby, unless I can get a sitter) march on Whitehall! I am going to get in there and take Gove down single handed - possibly even beating him round the head with the schemes of work I have written for the new modular English curriculum that he proposes to dismantle. Bitter? Perhaps... Enraged? Definitely. And I can spell it correctly.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Week 17: Home alone

Time Out

I am in need of a holiday. Not the old kind of holiday I use to take - no snowboarding, no white water rafting, no traipsing round beautiful cities for days on end looking at every vestry in every church. No. I am putting my foot down. The kind of holiday I need is all inclusive, sun, sea, sand and snoozing. And baby free.
I love her, don’t get me wrong but I just need some time off. Unfortunately, while CK is (incredibly) intelligent (and beautiful and kind and considerate), she doesn’t read my blog and so will not get the message that mummy needs a break.

Some of my friends say to me, just go for it, leave her at home and have some time off. And that is all very well. If you are bottle feeding. But being able to take a holiday means taking my boobs with me and that ain’t gonna cut it for CK. It turns out she can’t sleep without them. (I can hear my health visitor in the back of my head tut tutting and muttering something about accidental parenting) For some reason she (CK, not my health visitor) has a fascination at the moment with my skin and is not happy unless she is love biting me, licking me, rubbing her snotty wee nose on some part of me. Who knows what that is about? Answers on a postcard please...

Not only that, but there is this weird emotional ambiguity in my head. On one hand I JUST NEED SOME TIME OFF, but on the other, there is the fact that even when I am away, I can’t seem to switch off. I have to know about every nap, poo and feed in order to be happy. Control freak much? I want to go away from her, but I don’t want to, too. Weirdo. She fills my heart and makes me smile - why would I want to leave that at home?

Ask me again at 4.30 this morning.

So for now, I will content myself with holiday programmes on the TV, dreaming of far flung climes, and the occasional day off (thanks Granny Bloggings!).

Codgers in Charge
The other week my daughter had a birthday and my lovely son in law organized a whole weekend of treats for her. The Saturday involved a whole day in London, taking in a matinee performance of the Lion King. Of course, this was only possible if the CODGERS – Ck’s Old Doting Grandparents Energetic Rescue Service - would be drafted in to look after the baby – would we? WOULD WE! Yes Please.

So on the Saturday morning off they went leaving the baby in her cot for her morning nap and Granny Bloggins and Gramps in charge. Did we rush around doing chores, cleaning, cooking? No, we did not. We made coffee, we did our emails and we read our books – we do remember some things about looking after an eight month old and taking a rest when possible is even more important for us now than it was way back in the mists of our child bearing times.

As you can imagine, all day the texts flew back and forth between Oxford and London – well initially from the road between Oxford and London, then from London then from various roads, cafes, restaurants and theatres around London. Luckily we were able to repeatedly report – ‘all’s well’ – until eventually when a text came saying; ‘everything OK?’ we just texted back – ‘yes’. After all we were a too busy playing with the baby to stop and text – don’t forget it does take us about five minutes per word!

Little CK seemed to enjoy all the attention of her very own Olds. We danced, we sang, we made silly faces, we played peekaboo, we cuddled, we kissed and spent what seemed like hours rolling a ball between us past CK which seemed to amuse her no end. We even had a few moments of fun with a cardboard box!

All went well until bedtime loomed when CK suddenly decided that enough was enough and where were her mummy and daddy? Or perhaps more importantly, where was her mummys’ chest? Her little face crumpled into seldom seen tears and even a spell on the sofa right in front of Strictly Come Dancing didn’t seem to help. Although I must be honest here and say the dancing held her entranced, one adorable cubby little hand on Grannys’ face, and her eyes riveted to the swirling colours. She liked Pamela, She LOVED Matt, but whenever Brucey came on the screen she started to sob – yes, I know he has that effect on most of us.

So, into the snow -suit, into the cosy -toes, into the pram, and off out into the dark of the early evening Gramps and CK went. No sooner had they turned the corner at the end of the road when the cavalry arrived in the form of mummy and daddy and mummys’ chest. You should have seen that baby beam to be back in their arms!

Granny and Gramps managed to stay awake long enough to hear about the day in London. By nine thirty we were tucked snuggly up in bed and by ten we were fast asleep, and we slept for ten hours! As I keep saying, this baby rearing is only for the young! Who are these mad old women who want a baby when they have been drawing their old age pension for years – very rich ones who can afford a nurse, nanny, housekeeper, cook and bottle washer I reckon!

Granny Bloggins

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Week 16: The Trappings of Parenthood

Help! I’m Drowning

When me and my lovely hubby were married we set off on honey moon for a 4 month camping trip around Southern Africa. It was awesome (and a little bit scary at the same time) - the travelling was amazing, the adventures we had were fantastic and experiencing other cultures was mind expanding. One of the things that really touched me was how the women I saw in some of the less developed cultures coped with three children around their legs, one slung on their back and some kind of farming implement in their hand. They didn’t have Fisher Price Jumperoos, the newest quinny buzz, or the Stokke high chair. And they were coping, seemingly, quite well without them.

So I decided that when we had kids, this was the approach we would take. Just sling it on my back and get out in the fields to work (because obviously teaching is a profession where you work in the fields often).

Did it happen? What do you reckon? No, I don’t have the Stokke, or the Quinny, but I do have the jumperoo and a myriad of other ‘essential’ items that I swore I wouldn’t buy. And now I am drowning under a sea of stuff.

I contend that there are two reasons for this; 1) everything I have purchased has made my life easier in some way, whether that is because it entertains my darling daughter for a couple of seconds in the day, or because it means I can put her down and have a break... and 2) Mothercare is, like, one of the only places around here with a really big car park, with mummy and baby spaces, and is close to my house.


So how do you combat this problem? Do you remind yourself of the women in developing countries who manage with nothing? Do you remind yourself of the environmental threat that all this plastic is contributing to? Nah. Just wait until your maternity pay runs out, and your credit card is maxed, and paypal tells you that you have insufficent funds. That is the only thing that has stopped me. And then only for a minute or two...
The Mummatron

Clutter Control

How can something as small as a baby fill a house to bursting with acres of clutter? Just minutes after a positive pregnancy test result it seems that the house begins to look like a landfill site. So many machines, so many cute outfits, so many hats, so many adorable-can't-live-without-them-ridiculous tiny shoes much crap! Whatever happened to saving the planet by avoiding rampant consumerism? And don't even get me started on plastics! Does this make me sound like the sort of woman who only wears natural fibres, who only takes homoeopathic medicine, who knits her own yoghurt? Oh no, I have bought little CK enough clothes and cutsey hats to clothe a small African country, I have cornered the market in brightly coloured plastic toys and am already saving for her first bike - although I have set a rule that she has to at least learn to crawl before she can have it - see what a tough granny I can be?
We used to live in America and I was a member of something called the Newcomers Club. This is a wonderful institution which is in most of the states of the US and provides a great network to make friends and join all sorts of groups from book clubs to building a nuclear reactor in your kitchen type things. A friend suggested I might like to join the British Womens' Group - argh - I asked if it involved a uniform., maybe some jack boots? However, I was duly dragged along and now, many years later am still friends with several of the women I met there. The meeting I want to tell you about was the one about 'getting your life organised', I thought this sounded quite interesting. So I found myself with several hundred women at 'The Y', in Princeton being lectured by a 'Clutter Control Management Consultant', - only in America!

She talked for a while about things like organising your paper work, paying your bills immediately when they arrived, all of which made perfect sense, then she asked us to raise our hands if we had kept our childrens' milk teeth? Several hundred hands waved guiltily in the air, mine included. Then she asked how many women actually had those tiny teeth with them at that moment and quite a few hands rose again - not mine! She asked us why we would keep them? Did we think our children would ever come to us and ask for them back? Several hundred women sniggered, not me. I know why I keep my daughters little milk teeth. My dear old dad died last week and in amongst his things I found a tiny envelope with a lock of my baby hair in it - yes I know my dad loved me but that he kept that little curl in a special place for nearly 60 years let me know the depth of his love and one day when I shuffle off this mortal coil I want my daughter to find her little teeth and know how much I love her!

Keep it all, live with the clutter, use the attic, use the garden shed, dig a cellar, but don't call in a Clutter Control Manager and turn your home into a sterile minimalist house.
Granny Bloggings

Friday, 5 November 2010

Week 15: Brown paper packages tied up with string...

I have been have a fully crappy week. One of those weeks where every thing that can, does. Know what I mean? So I was reading one of my new fave blogs ( and I liked her post about all her favourite things so I thought I would join in, in a desperate bid to cheer myself up. So unlike Maria in the sound of music who lists Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles, here are mine:
My daughter when she is asleep - which does not happen often enough or for long enough!
Online shopping. Not only can I lie in bed, in my pjs with my hair a mess, but I can spend money while I do it...I want to kiss whoever invented this possibility.
Musicals; Annie...Moulin Rouge...The Lion King. Basically any, but the camper the better.
The excited kicking, shrieking and waggling display little CK puts on when Daddy comes home
...handing little CK over when Daddy comes home
Autumn colours
Seeing CK’s BFF (let’s call him Wee Jamesy) assaulting her with cuddles
Cake; lemon, carrot, banana, chocolate, fairy, victoria sponge, chocolate eclairs, are you getting the idea?
High tea - so mannerly, so yummy and so quintessentially English
Counting down to Christmas, the year’s best holiday
Reading with Rosa
My Doc Martins. I know I am like 20 years late and utterly uncool but they are ace and I love them.
Oh and not forgetting schnitzel with noodles - thanks Maria Vonn Trapp for that inspired combo!

Feel free to add yours below - would be good to add to my list

Monday, 1 November 2010

Week 14: Getting on...

Crows Feet and other fun...

One of CK’s favourite moments in the mornings is to have a quick squizz at us in the mirror. She loves it. I am horrified by it. What has happened to me? Her peachy, perfect soft skin serves only to exaggerate my creased, lined, aged, old skin. And it is not just the complexion that is suffering...

I have always prided myself on my interest in everything current and as a music fan, have always tried to stay one step ahead of the charts - I like to think that I am ‘over’ most number 1s before they make it there. No more. I switched on Radio 1 the other day (having crossed over to Radio 4 during my pregnancy) and found myself mumbling under my breath, in much the same style as my grandfather, “What is this rubbish? It’s doesn’t even seem to make sense grammatically!!” I swiftly re-tuned the wireless and was wrapped in the warmth of my equally uncool friends Libby Purves, Jenny Murray and Evan Davis (although I think he is secretly very cool, he’s just not allowed to show it to the Radio 4 listernership).

I also tried logging on to Twitter this week (which is what has sparked off this tirade) and I just don’t understand it. I don’t know what I am supposed to do on there, why I would want to use it or what the point is. And I’m a media teacher for God’s sake!

Is this another ‘symptom’ of pregnancy? Is it nature’s way of making sure that CK can forge her own identity without me trying to hop on board the latest trends? I’m not sure. But I do know this. Tempah is spelt like this: temper. A chipmunk is a little squeaky rodent. Tweets are what birdies do. And gaga is what you are after childbirth, and no, it isn’t cool at all.

p.s. if you don’t understand the last paragraph... you know what that means... you are past it too! Hurray!
The Mummatron

Getting Old

With this topic I think I may have a bit of an advantage. My next birthday is the big 60, is that old? Well some mornings it feels like a Methuselah-fest and other mornings I can skip out of bed like the proverbial spring woolly thing, you know, the one you eat with mint sauce …. And there’s the main problem about getting old, never mind the groans, creaks and windy emissions it’s the lack of ability to access your random memory base that is the most frustrating part of it. It helps if you have been married as long as I have because my husband and I have known each other since we were 16 so we can sew a pretty good patchwork of memories between us, but some days that just isn’t enough for either of us.

As old age creeps silently up behind you with cold twiggy fingers outstretched you learn all sorts of new skills; how not to scream when the chiropracter chops down on your spine with the full force of her boney little hands; how to keep your opinions to yourself now that you have learnt that you will never change a racist Fascist; how to plan how you will get up again before sitting on the floor, and always, always avoid large bean bag chairs, especially when the phone is likely to ring – over there on the table – argh!

My latest lesson in ageing is that babies are not what they used to be. I hardly dare do anything with my little granddaughter CK without checking with my daughter if it is OK these days to: feed her banana; go within 15 feet of her if I am wearing any synthetic materials; lay her on her – side – tummy – back, although obviously not her head, we never even did that in the Old Days. And the nappies! My goodness how they have all changed. When changing CKs’ nappy I first have to find my reading glasses and get stuck into the introductory course on how to open the baby wipes and how to use them. Then the nappies themselves require quite advanced training on type, size and absorbability, not to mention which nappy cream to use when and where! I suppose this is all good training for when I shall have to start stealing her nappies for myself, but I am keeping my ever so slightly arthritic fingers crossed that that will be a long time in the future.

Granny Bloggins

Tuesday, 26 October 2010


I have just remembered a fat-related incident:

Years ago I went along to a ‘weight loss class’.

Thirty fat women huddled in a small village hall. A tall slim dyed blonde, big haired, instructress swept in. She stood before us and asked how many of us felt we had gained our weight by having children? Thirty chubby hands waved enthusiastically in the air. Then she asked, “how many of you have children under the age of five?” No hands were raised, not a one. Her gimlet eyes swept across the mounds of lard in front of her …. “and you still blame your children?” she sneered.

And, no dear reader, it didn’t work. Yes I lost weight whilst terrified of the weekly weight-in in front of her sneeryness but as soon as I had reached my correct weight and escaped her scary presence I was so relieved I had to have a mars bar ……… you know the rest!

Granny Bloggins

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Week 13: From Flab to Fab

My Badge of Honour

So we all know the story of the stork – she takes each little bundle of joy, wrapped up in a soft little blanket, gently lifts them in her beak and flies carefully to their loving, expectant parents. She gracefully flaps through the nursery window and deposits the cherub into his new cot, giggling and excited at the prospect of his new family. Lovely.

What they do not tell you is the visit that the stork makes after that. She swoops from the nursery window to the parents room with her second deposit of the day. While mummy is sleeping carefree, that malevolent bird sneaks in and slaps an extra tyre around mummy’s waist. Mummy wakes up in the morning with that wonderful little bundle of joy in the nursery and 3 extra stone that she has no idea where it came from.

OK well, maybe all those iced buns during the pregnancy might have something to do with it. But seriously, it isn’t my fault. It really isn’t – the little blighter in my tummy made me so sick that I had to eat the iced buns so I wouldn’t throw up.

I’m paying for it now though.

During my pregnancy, I stopped weighing myself after the midwife mentioned gestational diabetes. Eww. So I know I have lost most of it but I still have this stone that I can’t shift. But I read my share of Vogue and Elle and Grazia; Madonna and Angelina Jolie promised me the weight just dropped off when you were breastfeeding. Oh no, hang on, the secret to their success is to be the stork – go scoop up your lovely little bundle of joy from some other person’s nursery and you end up with the long skinny legs (and feathers and a beak??)

So I am resigned. I am going to wear this extra stone proudly as a badge of honour, a flag of my graduation to motherhood. It will be the sign that I am fertile and have produced. I have fulfilled my biological role and given my husband an heir.

Yeah right. Rice cake anyone?

The Mummatron

Loosing Weight

OK, this is my area of expertise! I have lost tonnes of weight over the years…ummmm………..

When I was pregnant with my first baby I put on about four stone – so how come the baby was only 7 pounds and 3 ounces? The rest of the weight decided it liked me enough that it wanted to stay.

This was not helped when the baby started to eat solid foods, but not all of what I offered, never all of it! Needless to say the surplus; banana pudding, custard, baby rice, and later fish fingers, bits of sausage, marmite fingers and lumps of mashed potatoes all seemed to find their way into my mouth and straight to my hips.

About this time a blonde goddess hove into view wearing a turquoise leotard and smiling in a slim, smug kinda way – Rosemary Connelly. It seemed you only had to buy her video to shed bucket loads of fat. I bought it – it didn’t.

A few years later Jane Fonda appeared leaping and sweating and going for the famous Burn. I bought that video too but this time I was coerced into actually nailing a smile on my face and huffing and puffing through the exercises by my slim husband who said he would do it too. You know what I am going to say: he lost weight every day whilst I enthusiastically rolled around the floor, leaped up and down steps, shed whole baths full of sweat and tears searched vainly for that elusive Burn, and only lost the tiniest ounce every month.

However, now that I am nearly sixty I have discovered a really effective way to loose weight. Last year I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and since then have lost four stone. Suddenly I have found a will power I didn’t have before, suddenly I can see a very good reason to loose those pounds, suddenly loosing weight has become a complete way of life.

My daughter introduced me to the website Cook Yourself Thin and I found that much more helpful than all the grunting and groaning of yesteryear, although I do make sure I exercise with a fast walk every day – every day! And guess what? I’m really enjoying it! Finally!

Granny Bloggings

Friday, 22 October 2010

Pre-post Post

Thank You Sarkozy

I never thought that would be a phrase I would say but... he floated the idea of putting up the retirement age... so the fiery French went out on the streets and raged against the machine... so the petrol stations ran dry... so my parents came home early... (see where this is going?!)... so I get to have some extra help this weekend... Yay!

More posts to follow - consider this as a half time announcement.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Week 12: MummyHalved

Very rudely, my parents have buggered off and left me. Yes, that’s right people, this week I am Mummyhalved. I am not sure that holidaying was in the grandparent contract. Let me see... Bringing bacon sarnies to the hospital while the labour is under way - check. Making endless cups of tea and meals and stacking and unstacking the dishwasher for at least a month after mummy and baby return home from the hospital - check. Doing any general DIY that has been required for the last three years that we have never got around to - check. Night feeds - check. Walking for miles trying to get the baby to sleep - check. Changing pooey nappies - check. Going off on holiday and leaving mummy to look after her 7 month old child all by her poor old self - nope, definitely not in the contract.

I have always been a very independant individual. I chose my own outfits from about the age of 2 (which accounts for the orange nylon shorts and the penchant for hats), I cooked for myself from about the age of 12 (pasta with peanut butter and sausages anyone?) and went off to uni at the age of 17 (a uni that was 5000 miles away from The Mothership). As an only child (oh yes, don’t worry, there will be a blog post coming up on that little gem) I guess it was always in my nature. So really, this should be a breeze.

Something strange happened when I got preggers though - my phone bills are testament to this. It is as if, by creating a new generation, somehow the family has been knit tighter together - I have always been close to my parents, but I never thought I would want them to move in next door. Now, I am thinking of converting the garage. I lean on them for everything - advice on weaning, teething, routines, whether CK needs a hat in this cold weather, the consistancy of those nappies I mentioned earlier, and the list goes on.

What amazes me is that they not only put up with this, but that they seem to enjoy it. I know they want to spend as much time as possible with their grandchild, but indulging my DIY demands, and cleaning my toilet is possibly a little extreme. Not to mention the phone calls discussing bowel movements in great detail (not just CK’s, anyone’s really, I’m not picky).

So lets raise a toast to grandparent far and wide - whatever you’re tipple (mine’s a nice cup of Horlicks). If you’re lucky enough to have some good ‘uns like me then drink to their health. If you have not been thus blessed you may like to propose a slightly different toast and I will support you with that every step of the way. I’ll just say this to my mum and dad; Cheers folks... and COME HOME SOON!

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Week 11: The wonder of weaning

Die Hard 5.0; Lets Get That Baby Fed

I’m married to a superhero - no really, I am. I knew when I married him that he had his similarities to Bruce Willis, the sex appeal, the thinning hair, but I didn’t realise how far the similarities went. Since starting the weaning process, it has all come to light...

We have only been trying out proper food for a couple of weeks and when I am in charge it is generally a very messy occasion – I just wish Butternut was one of Dulux’s more popular shades for interior design. It isn’t. Apparently it isn’t this season’s new black either as no-one has complemented me on my new speckled orange look. At least I kill two birds with one stone – a free fake tan and baby gets fed.

But when hubby is in charge it is a different matter. Meal times start 30 minutes before baby has to be fed… He goes upstairs and changes into his oldest clothes (if he really was Bruce it would be a sweaty, dirty white vest top and stone washed jeans). He gets her into her feeding outfit (honestly, she has a designated baby gro for this), he puts on her long sleeved, full body bib, he places a muslin over her legs, he locks her into the high chair, he puts the tray table on so that her arms are restrained. And we are almost ready for food.

The 2001:A Space Odyssey theme tune starts to play in my head as he squares up to the challenge in hand. A spoonful of food is proffered and the gaping abyss of her mouth opens. The orange mush is deposited, the spoon is withdrawn before her little hands can grab it, the excess is scraped off the face and replaced in the bowl and not a drop has sploshed, smudged or even dripped. The Magnolia shade of the living room walls has not been sullied. The carpet will live to serve another day.

Thank goodness for my husband, the Bruce Willis of baby feeding, guarding over the carpets and wall coverings of the world.
The Mummatron


This year, for the first time in my life, I got a new kitchen. I chose the palest Ash wood for the cupboards and a pale sand coloured stone for the worktops. I had the walls painted a pale neutral colour called Linen Wash. I was thrilled with the whole effect and at no time did I consider adding dashes of orange colours in random patterns over the whole room … but now we are weaning!

Who would have thought that pureed sweet potato, pureed carrots and sieved fruit could travel through space so far when flicked from a weaning spoon! Little CK on the other hand is loving it. She is reveling in the tactile squishing, sqidging, and painting. Her granddad and I bought a high chair from e-bay for a fiver and gave it a nuclear scrubbing – why? Looking at it now after a few short days it is hard to see the outline of the chair through the miasma of fuzzy food - Jackson Pollack would have been proud.

Weaning is not a sport for the elderly. I know this is not exactly weaning but last night, as her sleep deprived husband had to leave us to go back to work, I offered to let my daughter have a much needed break from those delightful night calls from the baby’s room. At three o’clock I was summoned to the cotside when I clearly heard a little voice through the monitor say, “Granny, I need you, I love you granny and I want to smile at you”. Of course this may have been my sleep befuddled imagination, she is only 6 months old and obviously not actually talking yet – though as a besotted grand mother I believe it wont be long…..

So at three this morning CK and I had a little cuddle, a few sucks of milk and then a return journey to the cot. Using all my Pilates muscles I managed to heave her gently over the cot rail and ease her sleepy little self down without jolting or, heaven forbid, dropping her. I stood motionless over her and ssshhed and ssshed until I felt light headed. When I felt she was completely settled and, thankful that the floorboards in that room do not creak, I turned to creep away. Immediately the detonations of my knees and ankles ripped through the silent darkness like pistol shots – I ssshed some more – I crept towards the door and then realized that another involuntary bodily emanation of a more windy type was about to be released, I clenched but to no avail and a thunderous peal rang out into the night. This baby rearing is not for the faint hearted or the crumbling of elderly body!

Granny Bloggins

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Week 10: Competitive Mummies

Perhaps Blog is short for Back log? Sorry for the delay... but here it finally is!

Winners and Losers
Moving to Oxfordshire after living in Aberdeen for five years was a very strange experience. Men here use product in their hair, not all women have a strangely orange tanned complexion, and I have never heard a mother call her child ‘Shania’ down here. The whole approach to life is very different. Raising a child in Oxfordshire scares me somewhat though… let me explain.

I know everyone has their worries about whether they will be a good parent, whether they will be able to love their child enough, whether they will be too firm or too relaxed, whether they will know what to do with a little helpless being entrusted to them. I’m not worried about all that. I’m worried about my incorrigible and quite terrifying competitive streak.

It’s the kind of streak which gets me into trouble; on a Ryanair flight, I am the one who, despite reminding myself that there is a seat for everyone, will trample old people, wimpy looking business men and, yes, even pregnant women to get my pick of the seats; in a Monopoly game, it’s not the winning that counts but the crushing of my opponents; and don’t even get me started on what it takes to bag a bargain at the Next Sale.

How am I going to curb this ugly monster when it comes to my daughter? I have to admit, I think I would rather spend an hour in the company of a group (pack?) of trainspotters than I would some of the more competitive mothers I’ve come across. Anyone who thinks that a good way to get to know you is to grill you about whether your child can do all the stuff theirs can at the age of 5 months is probably not going to be a good friend: Them: Little Jimmy is rolling over AND sitting up… What is Little CK doing? Me: Erm…. Lying around on her back… Them: Oh.

The upshot of this is that I have to rush home and start rolling her around the floor and making her sit up, which generally results in a falling on the face incident.

So the good news is that thus far, I haven’t engaged in the competition, in fact I am the opposite. When faced with a braggy mummy my response is to do my daughter down. Them: My little Jemima is just so beautiful. Me: I’m not convinced that little CK doesn’t look like a little pig. Them: My little Bobby can pull himself up to standing – is CK doing that yet? Me: Nah -with those thighs she ain’t ever gonna be mobile.

I would imagine that if I was living anywhere else there would be different things to compete over; how much she cried when having her ears pierced; whether she enjoyed her first cheeseburger; if she has sheared her first sheep yet. But here I am in the land of Baby College, then, surrounded by mummies who are already thinking about whether to send their child to private school, and posting their report from nusery on Facebook (no joke!). I’ll just content myself with the hope that one day, she will roll over, despite her thighs.

The Mummatron

The Long Run
I don’t believe in competition, I mean, I know it exists and that some people think it is a good thing, but I think it leads to conformity and ultimately to dissatisfaction if not outright war.

Having said all that, in a rather haughty manner, why did I find it so upsetting when other peoples’ babies could: sit up, smile, laugh, recognise a picture of a cow AND make a mooing sound, whilst my own progeny lay cooing and smiling inanely and trying to gum the rag book?

I remember furiously trying to make my first baby mew like the cat in the picture and bark like the dog, things which would be embarrassing in any child older than three but it seemed terribly important after I had seen a friends’ child, of the same vintage as mine, doing these clever things.

When other mothers assumed a rather pitying look and asked how old he was I used to give his age in weeks until he was about two so that he would seem younger than he really was and therefore it would be forgiven that he was not already reading text books for the Open University, (in which, of course, he would have been enrolled to start his course in advanced mathematics at the age of eighteen months.)

As my little one grew and progressed at his own sunny rate, the competition shifted to behaviour and manners and I found to my delight that my babe was streaks ahead of many of his peers when it came to charm and pleases and thank yous. I began to get smug, to believe that I may yet gain a place at the head of the mummy race. Then came the day when several visiting children got into a positively feral scrap over a toy in my lounge. I was very aware that my son had not joined in the bad behaviour but was playing quietly behind the settee and the sin of pride settled on my shoulders like a cape of victory! Once we had sorted out the fracas and dealt with the bites, scratches and clumps of pulled out hair, I peeped casually over the back of the settee to see what my perfect son was doing. Oops! He was busy with his toy cars but next to him on the seat of the rocking horse was a freshly laid poo!

That was the moment when I realised that there is no competition between children, they will learn and progress at their own speed and nothing competitive mummies can do will change that. As the years go by and our children gain characters of their own it is the difference we celebrate – little Johnny can ride his bike without training wheels but he cannot stop picking his nose – little Jane can knit her own yoghurt but still wets the bed – and as for little Adolf,, well, the less said the better!

Once your child is old enough to decide for itself whether or not it will take drugs, smoke, or participate in under age drinking, or, please no, sex, it is important that they are not trying to compete with their peers but are happy to stand alone, different, confident in their own ability to be the kind of person they know their parents will be proud of.

Granny Bloggings

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Week 9: I'll be there for you... (Prizes for the first to get what the title this week refers to...)

Baby Freshers Week
One of the things I wasn’t expecting when I decided that dropping a sprog was the next logical step, was the back to school kind of feeling that overwhelms me everytime I go to a new baby group. It is that slightly manic, desperate feeling that I last felt during freshers week at uni. It’s kind of like this: LIKE ME! PLEASE LIKE ME!

When you are stuck at home all day going mad, talking to yourself, humming the tunes from the Fisher Price toy, changing nappies, preparing for another feed, etc, etc, you need to know people who are going through the same thing. Sometimes you need to just be able to vent and for someone to say ‘I know! I totally agree!’, so it is imperative that you make some friends at baby groups, NCT or some other similar occasion.

It is similar to that first week at uni, in that you very quickly learn who will be a friend, and who to avoid. For all you prospective mums out there, here is the checklist… and for all of you who have done this already, hopefully you will all agree with me and say loudly, and as one ‘I know! I totally agree!’

1) If their first question concerned with what your baby can do (i.e. Little Jemima is already crawling, what is little CK doing?) then they will probably be posting Jemima’s report on Facebook in a few years time for all to admire. Steer clear.
2) If they tell you how beautiful their own child is before looking at yours, they are probably to be avoided.
3) Do they seem like the kind of person who you could discuss the new geography of your nether regions with? If so, they are a keeper.
4) Are they already skinny? Probably sack them off. Especially if they offer you hints on how to shift the baby weight. What baby weight? I shifted that months ago. This is just weight.
5) Do they seem repulsed by the streaks of pureed pear which adorn your sweater? Jog on. Anyone who can’t see the potential of wearing your snacks for later ain’t worth knowing.
6) Do they offer their number and a sympathetic smile? That’s a good ‘un. If they make you laugh at the horror of it all, then make sure you get that number straight away, put it in your phone, and use it.

The Mummatron

When my children were little my friends came in all shapes and sizes but they all had one thing in common – children that my children liked to play with. We all needed support, someone to go to when the afternoon was simply too long and fraught to face on your own or when you needed someone to look after one child whilst you took the other to the doctors/school/hospital. Most of these friends have faded into the past as we have moved house many times, but my memories of them are very fond. Friends in need and indeed.

Now we have a handful of friends who are a bit older than us, a couple of them we have known for over forty years and they have all been grandparents for quite a few years now. Eight of us regularly have long lazy lunches together and talk about every subject under the sun but I have always been surprised that they hardly ever mentioned their grandchildren. What did that say about them? Could it be that they were not interested in their offsprings’ offspring? Or maybe they hardly ever saw them? Perhaps they were much colder people than I had thought they were?

Then we became grandparents earlier this year and it was as if a secret ban had been lifted. The conversation these days is all about how wonderful/naughty/cute/funny/clever our grandchildren are. So now I think what it says about my old friends is that they are in fact warmer, more loving friends who care more about me than I ever knew! Now I find myself trying not to mention our new little grandaughter too much to other friends who do not have grandchildren yet, - you can learn a lot from good friends!

Granny Bloggings

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Week 8: Happy Holidays!

Please note that this post was inspired by the missing week... Week 6 was a week of holiday and relaxation for us mummy/granny bloggers! Sorry if you missed us!

Couch Surfing

Over the last few years me and my other half have been racking up our quota of ‘free-spirited, independent travel’, the kind that you do as a young, free-spirited independent person.

In 2006 we had a lucky escape when a tree fell within metres of our tent in the Ardeche; we were forced to flee Mexico in 2007 as Hurricane Dean threatened to destroy half of the Yucatan; and in 2008 we had a few close calls on our 4 month camping tour of Southern Africa - elephants grazing around our tent, a nasty sickness bug that ended up with a spell in a dodgy Zambian hospital and a brush with drowning when white water rafting on the Zambezi.

Now, I am not listing these occasions to brag – most of my generation have had similar experiences. I guess I am listing them because I have come to a recent conclusion.

I’m not sure it is fun anymore.

Something about my biology now tells me to stay at home, comfortable on my oversized couch, with my husband close and my baby closer. Is it the hormones? Is it is a post traumatic response to the process of giving birth? Or is it that secretly, somewhere inside, I’ve always wanted the couch and the comfort rather than the terror and excitement. Maybe I am more of a National Geographic channel kind of girl – it turns out I can explore the forests of Mexico, the savannahs of Namibia and the byways of France all from right here, and mostly with David Attenborough. Ah David, as trustworthy and reliable a travelling companion a girl could ever want.

So here’s to couches, and TV, and holidays by the beach with a bucket and spade and a knotted hanky and a deckchair. Bognor Regis, here we come!

The Mummatron

It’s that time of year again…

The sun has disappeared behind cold grey clouds, the drizzle is drizzling, the kids are grizzling, and it is August. What does this mean? It means the school children are on holiday after spending several long months sitting in smelly, sweaty classrooms and studying for their exams during gloriously hot sunny weather – now they are free to enjoy a few weeks of summer freedom – in the cold and wet.

Thus it ever was. I remember looking forward to the prospect of a week away with our two small children; the weeks of planning, the weeks of washing, the weeks of dieting to try and get into a bathing costume again, the weeks of explaining what a holiday is … by the day we were ready to set off I was exhausted and the kids were as high as kites, bouncing stickily off the walls and ceiling with excitement.

The plan was that the minute my husband got home from work we would set off – let’s not waste a minute – that was the idea. As we were going to visit Granny on the way I decided to dress my newly crawling daughter in the pretty white dress, white cardigan and white lacey tights which Granny had bought for her and she had never worn (the baby I mean, not Granny).

We washed behind our ears, we scrubbed various unmentionable crevices and by the time ‘daddy’ was due home we were totally gussied up. Feeling incredibly competent I decided that I was so efficient I should also pack the car. I told my three year old son to sit still and watch his little sister – although I must admit that to achieve the sitting still requirement I did put a cartoon of Scooby Doo on the TV, yes I know, mea culp, mea culpa. But I DID get the car packed – HA!

When I returned to the lounge I saw that my son really had stayed exactly where I left him, he had not stirred a muscle and his eyes were still fixed on the screen. However, everything else in the room had shifted into another dimension… the fire guard was lying on the carpet, a large rubber tree plant was lying on its side with the soil spread liberally around the floor and my previously, squeaky clean, little angel of a daughter was standing in the hearth with her hands above her head, examining the sooty chimney!

We were a little late arriving at Grannys’!

And PS, you cannot get the stain of soot out of lacy tights.

Granny Bloggings

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Week 7: The Daddy Question

Unreasonable? Moi?

The other day I was perusing the virtual universe that is mumsnet and found that they have a forum named ‘Am I being Unreasonable?’ and I thought that if it were a competition, I could win with this recent conversation that I had in the car park of Marks and Spencer with my husband:

Me: What are you doing?!
Him: Packing the car…
Me: Yeah, I see that but why are you packing it like that?!
Him: Because it’s the only way I can fit it all in…
Me: Love, (note the use of the pet name to try to soften the nagging tone but which actually only serves to patronise), we’ve discussed this before (i.e. why are you being so stupid?), I try not to pack things on the seat next to the babies car seat as I feel it is a risk (not neurotic at all.)…
Him: Yes (teeth gritted)… but we have bought so much (you’ve bought so much) that I can’t fit it all in the boot.
Me: Well I can (you imbecile), let me do it (thereby emasculating you in front of the whole world).
Him: Whatever. (I’m in a huff now)
Me: -
Him: -
Me: -
Him: -
Me: - So are you in a huff now, you *****? (add in your own choice expletive here)
Him: NO (note the capitals used here to demonstrate the teenage tone)
Me: Good.

Yes indeed folks, a modern man is a wonder. I have my moments of awe, pondering why he hasn’t left me yet… is it because mostly I am nice and not the neurotic witch this conversation seems to suggest, is it because our daughter ties us together now, is it because he doesn’t have the energy due to sleepless nights? Or is it because I do such a very good job of packing the boot? Either way, I’m glad he’s in for the long haul, because me and CK love him, huffs and all.
The Mummatron

The Modern Man, it’s a wonderful thing

It makes me rage when I hear women say, “my husband wouldn’t touch our babies!” Or, “my husband doesn’t have a Scooby how to hang out the washing, doesn’t even know where the washing machine is.”

I want to screech at them in true fishwife fashion (and boy don’t those poor fishwives get a bad press!) “Have you never heard of training?” If you had someone working for you who had nay clue, you would understand that careful explaining of what the job entailed, and how to do it, would probably result in an efficient employee. But when it comes to husbands… so could it be that there is an alternative motive?

Some women are trying to tell you that their man is too much of a macho hunk to be hairy-arsed doing any of the pink jobs around the house, some women actually want that sort of man. Fine, just don’t complain to me when the baby is screaming and he wont pick it up because he is busy doing a blue job like using the power drill, (which I believe these days come in pink too!)

Another motive is that, let’s face it, making someone feel inadequate and hopeless is a grand way to get power over them. Even in these days of enlightenment – well the dawning of it anyway – people seem to assume that a woman will instinctively know how and what to do with a new born baby. Oh yeah? Why is that?

But I digress. Some women will take advantage of that; snatch the baby away from its’ father if it cries; constantly tell him how to handle the little person who is so new to you both; take control of every aspect of childrearing, and in general make the man feel as if he is as useless as a slimy appendix. (These same women then profess amazement when their husband eventually finds another woman who apparently understands him and thinks he is a handsome, capable, in-charge kinda guy.)

I know it is hard to see your baby crying in the big hairy arms of its father and to feel that you are the only one who can make it happy, but that baby is going to grow into a mutinous three year old and a hulking, sulking, teenager. That’s really when it helps to have two of you to deal with this perfect stranger who has been living with you for years.

Men are usually great with babies, the little souls feel comforted by their size and secure in their arms – the babies I mean not the men who, of course, have big, manly souls (in case there are any dads reading this!) Bringing up a child is a job which can only be enhanced by as many helpful people as possible in the childs’ life. The more people in the house who know how to work the washing machine, the more time there is to play with and show affection to the little person – until they are big enough to learn how to use the washing machine themselves, then, bingo, everyone’s a winner, you all have more time for each other!
Granny Bloggings

Friday, 13 August 2010

Week 5: Joi De Vivre

Fun in the Sun
In the days of yore, before CK (BCK), one of my annual joys was festival-going. So I’m not the glasto type – the whole mud bathing, lager drinking up all night thing doesn’t appeal – I’m much more of a Radio 3 festival goer. World music, art installations and eclectic eating experiences were my bag, baby.

This year, with a 4 month CK in tow, we decided to give it a go. We chose a nice, small, family friendly festival and bought day tickets. We even brought granny bloggings and gramps along for extra pairs of hands to look after the wee’un. And did we have fun? No. Well, I didn’t anyway.

I was too busy worrying about whether there would be a nap, whether feeding would happen, and if it didn’t whether we’d be up all night paying the price. I worried about her ears, no ear defenders means deafness, ear defenders means crushed little shell likes. Where is my sense of joy? How could someone so small have stolen it so easily?!

I know it will come back one day, I know I will enjoy my own life again without feeling the weight of responsibility for her, but I’m not sure when that day will be. I look forward to it though – on that day I will be down the front, dancing my socks off and grinning with glee.
The Mummatron

The Carefree Life
When the stork of baby delivery flaps in one window it seems that all joi de vire flies out the other. It’s true that the carefree life of making decisions based on what will give you pleasure is over, at least for many years.

The human baby is a weak and helpless thing and stays that way for quite a time. We are a slow growing creature and need protection until we can reproduce and carry on the race. A successful parent is one who sees the world around their offspring through potential dangers – is the cave warm enough? Is that sabre tooth tiger on the prowl again? Of course the worries may have changed a tad if you live in East Oxford or Hampstead but the principle is still the same; how can there be any carefree joy in your life when all the time you are worrying about your baby!

The good news is that as your child grows you can begin to teach it to be aware of those dangers itself so that you don ‘t have to be constantly vigilant. Does that mean that you can go out and have a romantic evening with your husband without worrying about the baby sitters’ state of sobriety or whether your child has decided that tonight is the night it will try to climb out of its bedroom window to get closer to the stars…You’ve seen the film ‘three men and a baby,’ so you know it is not possible. You will worry about your child for the rest of your life but the joy it will bring into your life far outweighs the anxiety – especially once it has left home and you don’t know what it is up to!

Granny Bloggings

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Week 4: Births

The Circle of Silence
My good friend is giving birth. Right now. Right now, she is giving birth. I think I have broken out in a cold sweat. It’s funny how until you do it, you don’t have a clue what to expect.

After I had CK one of my friends who is yet to get pregnant asked me how the birth went. When I gave her my stock response (A tight lipped “fine”) she drily informed me that she wasn’t impressed that I had now entered the ‘circle of silence’. It’s so true… It’s like being part of the Illuminati. Once you have given birth you are part of this secret circle of knowing, conspiratorial women who nod silently and sagely at each other but who remain silent.

There are however some women who are decidedly outside of this circle – those who lie in wait for passing, innocent pregnant women, upon whom they leap and divulge all the secrets and lies of giving birth; “My pelvis snapped in half”, “The baby got stuck and it all went wrong from there”, “I was in labour for 6 days”. What that means is that when you are writing your birth plan (if you get around to it!) you have no idea what to really expect. Both extremes are ridiculously inconsiderate – what women need is the truth, the truth dammit!

And who’s to say they can’t handle the truth?! Having said that, I didn’t warn my friend. I just hope she is still my friend when it is all over and she doesn’t hold it against me.
The Mummatron

Birth of a granny.

Everybody kept saying to me, you’ll love being a granny!

I had my doubts…. I was terrified of my own babies until they were old enough to say “nope.” I always manage to make an excuse when anyone asked me if I would like to hold their precious little bundle: “oh it looks so cosy there, I wouldn’t want to disturb it”, “I have just remembered an important meeting – in Marakesh”, “I’m sorry my arms don’t seem to be working!”.

When my daughter announced that she and her lovely man were going to get married, my first thought was, “oh no, they want to have children”. Don’t get me wrong, I thought it would be fun to have a little tyke in teeny weeny designer jeans running about the place, but the thought of my own daughter being pregnant and giving birth was too frightening to contemplate. Whenever the subject of offspring came up I would make quiet murmurings about world over-population and adoption, whilst wishing I could also mention piles and varicose veins.

Then there was concern that PCOS would stop pregnancy from becoming a reality and I saw the fear on my daughters’ dear face and my defences started to crumble. Mere weeks later came the announcement that we had a grandchild on the way and then we saw the ultrasound photos. How is it possible to be terrified of something – my daughters’ health – and yet feel total euphoria about that little ET lookalike in black and white on the screen!

When my daughter went into labour and we waved her off to the hospital I found myself retreating to a calm, ‘well there’s nothing I can do about it now’, place, I didn’t hit the whisky or take up smoking – not even a cigar when the birth was over and mum and babe both fine!

The next day we met wee C.K., and you know what? Right from the first time I held her I knew that all those know-it-alls were right, I love being a granny! It is the best thing ever.

It is the joy of seeing a small creature meet the world around her, and become aware of other people, learn to smile, learn what a power-tool crying is, learn that even if you have just been bathed and changed, if you smile after you have filled your nappy - and your sleep suit down to your toes, - everyone will think you are clever and cute! And all of this without the terrifying final responsibility of motherhood – which, of course, you have to go through to become …….. Super Gran!

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Week 3: Two Minutes Peace...

Croissants and Crosswords
This time last year I was enjoying my Sunday morning eating a croissant at 11 o’clock in the morning, inhaling cappuccinos and reading the travel section of the paper in my pyjamas. This year it is Sunday morning at 11am and I am ready to lie down in a darkened room, with a cold compress on my forehead, and a G&T in my hand; unfortunately, I also know that I won’t get the break I need until sometime after 10 pm once my lovely little one is asleep for at least a little while. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t change her for anything, but I would give my left pinky for two minutes to just sit down. When she was born and sleeping all the time I thought I was the perfect parent – everyone had told me I would be so rushed off my feet with no time to myself but obviously I was doing something right because she was the perfect cherub. Smug. Now that she is teething and won’t be put down, I see what they all meant! So here is my two minute wish list… If I had a terrific two minute break, what would I do with it?

Have a cuppa
I would make a cup of tea. And then drink it. While it is still warm! I have forgotten what warm tea tastes like.

Tidy the House
I know this sounds like it comes from The Good Housewife Manual Circa 1956, but, having a two minute blitz, throwing baby related junk into the cupboard and chucking dishes into the sink rather than littering the surfaces of every room in the house, actually makes me feel a real sense of pride and achievement. Perhaps I could even warm the husbands slippers while I am at it…

Flex My Brain
I’d pick up a crossword or a Sudoku or find a game on line that gives me a chance to think about something. Think really hard. OK, fair enough, I probably won’t get anywhere with it, but just getting the old brain technology whirring feels good. But it does just reinforce the fact that my baby has stolen my brain.

Run up and down the stairs a few times
No. Seriously. I mean it… Get the blood flowing, get the muscles working, get out of breath and work up a bit of a sweat. We house bound, baby bouncing mammas and poppas forget to look after ourselves and, for me, this much exercise would feel akin to conquering Everest.

Pretend it’s a Sunday Morning
So I’ve tried and tested this one… I can heat, plate and eat a croissant, whilst reading the travel section and pouring a cappuccino down my throat in two minutes before the baby tells me she wants me to pick her up again; she is reminding me that those days are gone, and while I might think I can recreate it, she is in charge now!
The Mummatron

Two Minutes...
Once upon a time, when I was a young mother, if I had been guaranteed two minutes peace and quiet all for myself what would I have done?

Improve my mind by reading an obscure Russian novel by an obscure Russian author? Probably not

Sling on a leotard, pop in the videotape, then leap about in a futile impersonation of Jane Fonda doing aerobics (how come SHE doesn’t grunt like I do?) Probably not.

Plaster on a face pack, ready to scare the beejeezus out of my children when they woke up? Probably not.

Eat a whole bar of chocolate the size of a small car and wash it down with a glass of wine? Possibly.

Eat the family size pork pie which has been calling out to me, in tantalizing, if somewhat greasy, tones, from the fridge all week? Almost definitely.

Whilst munching I would have shut my eyes against the chaos around me – how did that toy get up onto the ceiling light? Is that potty in the corner full? What is that nasty looking thing poking out from behind the settee….?

But, these days two minutes doesn’t seem nearly so long, it would take me almost all that time to get up the stairs to spend my two minutes gazing at my delicious granddaughter peacefully sleeping.

Granny Bloggings

Friday, 23 July 2010

Week 2: Aspirations

Hopes & Dreams
It’s interesting what people want for their children. In our strange era of Jordan inspired, celebrity microscope TV, it seems that many people want fame and fortune for their progeny. I’d rather that little CK grew up to be a punk nihilist with a ring in her nose (like her mother), than a celebrity. Although, I guess if she grew up to be a vegan, then maybe I’d start to worry.

In the paper this weekend there was an article about the growing UK industry of child beauty pageants in which children dress in a variety of Barbie-esque guises and parade around trying to cure cancer or seeking a solution to world peace. Not an easy task, I would imagine, in a spangly lurex number and size 13 high heels. The parents of course claim that the kids wanted to do it, but how did said kids (girls and boys by the way – oh yes, none of them are safe) hear of these contests? Surely not when they were out in ‘Bucks with their Gal Pals, sipping a babycino…

So I started to think; how do you allow your child to grow up with their own dreams, without steering them in the direction of what you wish you had? How will I stop myself from steering her towards Oxbridge, towards a happy marriage to a successful man, towards annual holidays in the Maldives.

When I look at her sleeping quietly (finally), her nose unsullied by any rings, her whole life ahead of her I realise that what I want doesn’t really matter. Whatever she does, she will do her own thing and it’s up to me to support her. I’m pretty sure though, that if she does want to enter a beauty pageant I’ll be teaching her the dance from Little Miss Sunshine and helping her move towards the punk nihilist future she never wished for.
The Mummatron

When I had my children, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, (sorry daughter but we are talking the 1970's here!) I thought my sole aspiration was to get them through Life in One Piece. I simply assumed my children would grow up happy, healthy and perfect in every way - never gave it much thought to be honest. In those days the important thing was to forbid your son to play with guns (some hope!) and to give your daughter a tonka truck and dress her in dungarees. After three years of my son making guns out of lego, sticks, and even toast, I gave in. I was relieved to find he did not turn into a tiny version of Arnie or Rambo but was still a sensitive little chap with a loving heart. My daughter scorned her trucks but loved to stand on a chair next to me at the sink washing up (which is something we used to do in days of yore when a dishwasher was something we only saw in American films.) It was a relief to realise that it was not the domestic chore which appealed to her but the time to chat to her mum or dad.

And yes, I spent the first 16 years of my daughters' life watching Oprah and Neighbours with her so that I could make my feelings known about all the issues they raised. "If you get pregnant at 13 because you want a baby to play with, don't expect me to look after it!" "If you ever go out in a truck with interrogation lights on the top shooting kangaroos do not expect me to cook the steaks!" However, it was around this time that it finally dawned on me that saying, "when you go to university ....." all the time was perhaps a little too much like brain washing. After all, what I wanted was a happy healthy daughter who would be in a happy and stable relationship and maybe be a great teacher, and guess what I got - just that!
Although I have to tell you, reader, I hate the nose piercing with a vengeance, but I guess she had to have something to rebel over, some day I'll tell you about the annoying way she listens to Frank Sinatra and will NOT listen to Led Zepplin or Hendrix the way they should be listened to, at full volume!

Now my daughter has given us CK, another clean slate of a little soul to hold gently in our hands until she is ready to fly on her own, and my aspirations have not changed one iota!
Granny Bloggings

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