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

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