Tuesday, 30 August 2011

The Learning Journey

Just for Foordie, this week we are back to the usual layout - me first, Granny second. Phew! Sorry for any confusion caused...

Tuppeny Nudgers and Other Grand Plans...

And so it is that I must stop swearing. Yes indeed, Cassie's learning journey (one of my favourite current classroom buzzwords) has come to a place where I can say to her "Go to your room, grab your socks out of the drawer, bring them here and then sit on the chair and I will put them on for you". So it would seem she is taking in what I am saying.


So with all the sponge like soaking up of motherly wisdom I realise that now is the moment to stop effing and blinding. It turns out that the rather over used word that means 'making the beast with two backs' is neither funny or cute when it is your child's first word. It has taken me until now to appreciate this.

Last week we trialled the substitute 'Tuppeny Nudger' (they're a band apparently?!) but that is a bit of a mouthful. And not a very tasty one at that. And it is quite hard to verbify.

So I thought I might revert to my 7 year old self, a sweet naive and innocent thing (no really, I was) who invented the word Ponks. It works well in many forms - ponking, ponker, ponkworthy, ponkatrons, and just good old fashioned ponkheads. It works when you are driving, or talking to your boss (mine, luckily is not a ponkhead, just for the record)d, it works in front of Granny (although Cassies' luckily could teach a trooper a thing or two about swearing) and it even works at school.

So hurrah for ponks and ponkers everywhere. If this week you are hammering and happen to catch your thumb, think of me and mutter quietly "ponks, ponks, ponking ponks".

Inside the Mind

Years ago I was invited to coffee with a new lady to our village. She showed me round her new house and in each room told me what improvements they planned to make. We ended up in the kitchen, she threw open the door and said, ”this is my favourite room, isn’t it great!”. It was a big room and one whole wall was covered by a wallpaper picture of a Swiss lake complete with snow capped mountains. I agreed with her that it was a lovely room and then, dear reader, I said, “it will be even better when you get that ghastly picture off the wall. Yes, you know what I am going to say, she looked very hurt and explained that she had spent all of the last weekend putting it up! Argh!

My point is that no two people every think exactly alike. We can never know exactly what is going on in another persons’ head and this is what makes watching a new human being grow and change so incredibly fascinating. Little Cassie has begun imaginative play. Last week she was playing on her little car, tooting the horn and grinning at her gramps when all of a sudden she blew the horn, cupped both her hands (around the sound?) and brought them over to give to Gramps. She did this several times and to her it was perfectly clear what she was doing whilst we sat and watched in open-mouthed amazement. What was going on in that dear little head?

Years ago whilst walking in the country with our four year old son I saw a pretty cottage which was for sale. “Wouldn’t it be lovely to live in that little house,” I said. “yes,” her replied tentatively, “but how would we get it home?”

It seems that not only do small children have entirely their own way of looking at things but their confidence in their imagined objects, play, and games, is as concrete to them as all the other things they have learned recently, walking, waving goodbye, drinking from a cup etc. And it is a wonder to behold.

They seem to have an innate understanding of basic physics, Cassie lifts her feet high and sticks her little pudgy legs out straight when mad granny pushes her round the room on her little car at great speed, and closes her eyes tight when something flicks towards her face, and yet they seem to be able to see things which are not there as well, the imaginary cup of tea or the sound from the little car horn…

I am glad we cannot see what is inside their little heads because watching them in their own little world is a wonder and a delight, a world we, as adults, have lost and are barred from.

Granny Bloggings

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Festival Madness

Groovy Baby

The skies are grey, rain is in the offing, so yes, it is that Music Festival time of year. Last year we took little Cassie to her first music festival and she slept blissfully through most of it looking very cute indeed in her pink ear defenders. This year I am guessing she will be a little more active which means that Gramps and I will be struggling to our feet from the picnic rug more than we are used to. Let’s hope the old knees, ankles and backs will stand it!

Forty years ago Gramps and I went to the very first music festival ever to be held in the UK. The Isle of Wight decided it could be the Woodstock of England. So off we went wearing our loons, tie –dye-three-button-t-shirts and leather sandals which smelled so strongly of the camel urine they had been cured in. It didn’t matter though as the smell of patchouli incense and weed was so strong that nothing could penetrate it. Fifty thousand people descended on the Isle of Wight and we all looked exactly the same! (Although it became apparent as the weekend progressed that some of the crowd, the ones with suspiciously short hair, big boots and Alsatian (sniffer) dogs were not, perhaps, as ‘laid back’ (daddy-oh) as the rest of us.)

The sun shone, the music was great, the weed was weak, and people made love not war, and when a press helicopter started circling overhead whilst the acoustic folk group, Pentangle, were playing, fifty thousand people rose to their feet and gave it a two fingered salute. God did we feel powerful – flower powerful? This was the sixties baby and us middle class rural baby boomers were taking a tiny sip of the elixir of the Age Of Aquarius!

No worries that weekend about the damp grass affecting the rheumatic knees! The funny thing is that it only seems a few minutes ago that those happy hippy young things were gramps and I. Make hay while the sun shines kids, life is short but it can be great!

Granny Bloggins

Festive Functions

This time last year I wrote a post about how I had lost my Joi De Vivre - we took Cass to her first ever music festival and while I was supposed to be being a cool and laid back Mummy all I did was worry about her eating and sleeping, and yes of course, pooing. I felt that perhaps I was never going to get my groove back and that maybe this was what motherhood was; a constant feeling of anxiety about the little midgetty person, just enough so that you never really relaxed and enjoyed yourself. Well, the good news is that that passed quickly and this year, I knew that when she needed to sleep, she would sleep, if she was hungry she would eat and all her other bodily functions would be just fine.

And indeed they were. While the music was great, the food overpriced (and as is so often the case at festivals, disappointing) and the festival atmosphere jovial, my favourite moment this year did indeed feature a bodily function. Sorry, I don't often do a post about poo, but here it is.

Apparently one of the top reasons that people list for avoiding festivals is the loos. I get that. Portaloos are not glamorous and don't exactly provide the leisurely experience of the home porcelain. Lucky for Cassie, she isn't potty trained (God forbid, she is only 17 months) and so had no issues with that.

So my resounding memories of this years festival will be my child backing up into a big hedge that she had located in order to do her job of work. Imagine the scene; a grubby little cherub, her tog suit pretty much muddy from head to foot, with bright pink ear defenders on, nuzzling (if you can nuzzle with your backside? does that make it buzzling?) backwards into a huge bank of shurbs, squatting and then doing the face. You know, the face. And pretending she is on her own by not making eye contact with any of the people passing by who were chuckling because they knew the face too.

Brilliant. What I like about motherhood is that every new phase gives you something new to enjoy, some new moment to cherish and some new challenge to work with, and so I think we might have to make this festival post a yearly event - what will be next year's festival 'Kodak Moment'?

The Mummatron

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Separation anxiety

As a slap-bang-in-the-middle-of-middle-class mother I spend most of my time worrying about how wrong I am doing everything and the other half of my time pretending that I am not worrying. So the most recent worry was that I am depriving Cass by not sending her to nursery. As you will know from previous rants, I decided to stay at home with her, so nursery was not on the cards, but clearly this was another something to worry about.

Perhaps we were creating a princess of gargantuan proportions by not socialising her in a nursery environment - would she be a teenager who could not tie her own laces, a university student who had no mates, or worse, a grown up who wouldn’t share her sweeties?! It just so happened that a friend was in a bind around the time that we were having this discussion (when I say we, I clearly mean I was having an internal monologue as B has learnt not to listen ages ago) and he needed a new member of staff for his business. So I got myself a job - how exciting, I get to wear my work wear again... No seriously, that was my main motive. So that meant that Cass needed somewhere to be for my two days a week.

Luckily the nursery down the road had spaces so off we went for a look. I’m not sure what happened between my house (empowered working mum) and the nursery (blob of weeping jelly), but somehow I lost my cool. And we were only there to have a butchers. I couldn’t control myself, pretty much everything set me off; the row of little tiny shoes by the door, the cute handprint pictures adorning the walls, Cass toddling off with nary a backward glance. I was a mess.

Still, we went ahead and I have marshalled myself. It has been a hard road getting her settled (for all of us!) and I still partially wonder what I am doing it for. My logical thinking brain says it is doing her good, but my mummies heart misses her and can’t imagine that anyone else will look after her as well as I will.

Yesterday she came home having painted, played in the woods, eaten loads of fruit, napped, played with her little friend Esther and generally had an all round good time. It just sounds like so much fun - I wanna play too!!
The Mummatron

I hate to say it, but you ain's seen nothing yet! Wait until she goes off to uni. on another continent!

At the age of 17 my baby opted to go to a university in Scotland at the same time as her parents had to move to the USA for Gramps' job. I don't think I can find the words to describe the feelings I had at that time. Of course my baby would ring up with tales of woe and I would spend the next few hours/days fraught with worry about how she was feeling and finally I would be unable to contain my worry any more and I would ring her to hear her cheery voice inform me that she couldn't stop to chat right now as she was too busy having fun! Argh!

I really didn't think it could get worse than that then last Sunday when it came time for Gramps and I to leave little Cassie after a day of fun and games, she put out her arms to us, pulled both our faces up to hers, pressed her face into ours and delivered kiss after kiss and face-hug after face-hug for about five minutes ......... and then we had to walk out the door and leave her!!!!! It may not be separation anxiety but it sure didn't feel like fun driving off down the road!

Granny bloggins

Saturday, 18 June 2011

I came, I saw, I did a little shopping...

Trainers and Trotters
Shopping has always been my ‘thing’. You know, for some girls, their ‘thing’ is horses, for some it is ballet, or art, or singing. Well, mine has always been shopping. Since the ballooning baby body has stolen my love of clothes shopping, I have turned to the next best thing - baby clothes shopping. Love it love it love it All the little tiny weeny cutie things you can buy for them, from hats with tassles (poor child), down to socks with frills (again, poor child), I love them. And I was so looking forward to the first purchase of baby shoes. How wrong could one seasoned shopaholic be?
So I knew I had to go to a reputable high street shoe retailer - you know the one, we all had our first shoes from there, right? Off we went, ready for the wonder of little tiny shoes with velcro and light up thingys and shiny bits. But it was not to be.
Cass sat splendidly while her feet were measured, intrigued by the process and watching carefully. She tottered happily around while I perused the shelves. We looked at all the styles and selected the ones we liked; not too sparkly, or impractical or, dare I say it, too pink. But there was one major drawback. The major drawback was that my child has freakishly small feet for her ‘stage of development’. Basically she is gadding about on trotters. Tiny little things that only fit pram shoes, not real shoes.
Did the the assistant who measured her feet explain this to me? Not until we presented her with the choice of shoes which they didn’t do in Cassie’s size. Brilliant. And could she tell me which they did do in Cassie’s size? Yes. Brilliant. That one pair over there? In pink? Brilliant.
I have made it my mission ever since to redeem myself as a shopper, to do better for my child, to search out and purchase new trotter-wear for her. I came to shop, and I will not be defeated.
The Mummatron

This Little Piggy
Oh dear, I really can't find anything amusing to say about shopping, it really is not something I like to do. Twenty minutes in a shop which sells weird and wonderful clothing is about all I can take, although I must admit I can never pass a shoe shop and do have way too many pairs of foot apparel. I am devastated to think that my adorable little granddaughter allegedly has trotters but I looked at them carefully this weekend and I think her mother exaggerates, she has dear little pinkies, or could I be biased? And for a granny who has twelve pairs of boots I think I know what I am talking about!
Granny Bloggins

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Growing Pains

When your baby is not your baby anymore...

I know it has been a while since we have last posted, we have had a hiatus... We’ve been to Africa, I’ve gone back to work (yes indeed, more on that in another post), and CK has started nursery (more on that too). More importantly though, my baby done growed up. Toto, we definitely ain’t in Kansas anymore.

How do you know when you baby turns into a toddler? There should be a few clues:

Does your child insist? Insist on what, I hear you ask? Anything, everything, most of it illogical. She wants to wear her reins in the bath, she wants to hold the carving knife while riding her rocking horse, she wants to drink your scalding hot tea/beer/ wine/neat vodka (delete as appropriate). And she will squawk until she gets what she wants.
Has her velocity increased exponentially over recent weeks? First sitting was not enough, then crawling was old hat, now even walking is sooooo last season darling. No, now we must run everywhere. Until, inevitably, she falls over.
And then she looks at me as if it is my fault.

Has she suddenly become a bit more interactive? This comes in many forms - the nice ones like cuddles and kisses (a bit like sticking a dyson to your top lip, but at least the intentions are good), and the not so nice ones like shoving smaller and more timid children off the aforementioned rocking horse.

If you have answered yes to any of the above then it would seem that your baby is not your baby anymore, but suddenly a full on, high octane toddler. And would I go back to the baby days? No way.

Big Babies
When your baby is not your baby anymore - it never happens. It might feel like it now but believe me your baby is always your baby and every stage is a delight and a nightmare, just wait until you are lying awake listening for your baby to drive into the garage late at night!
Granny Bloggings

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Welcome to the Terrible Twos?

Welcome to Tantrumland

When you have a little one, no hang on, when you conceive a little one, people start to warn you about how horrendous they will be when they are a teenager. I laughed in their faces, full of Secondary School Teacher Bravado, saying that those are the years I like, and those are the battles I am looking forward to. I smirked defiantly and explained that I would much rather deal with a teenage sulk than with a toddler tantrum . And I still hold to that. I just didn’t expect the tantrums to come around quite so soon.

She turned one, and we turned a corner. Into a nasty, dark alleyway in Tantrumland. Not a good place to be. I don’t mind assertive (an eager jab of the finger accompanied by the hearty cry of “dat! dat! dat! dat! dat!” when she sees something she wants), I don’t really mind persistent (continuing the “dat! dat! dat! dat! dat!” even when said item has been removed from view), but I am not sure I can handle downright belligerent.

Case in point: Taking tea last week in a familiar high street coffee shop - the kind with lovely sink-in-comfy couches - was happy experience. CK chuntered happily away sitting beside me on aforementioned couch whilst I quaffed. It was when I removed her from the couch that she got a tad shirty. 4 minutes of lying face down on the floor screaming kind of shirty. That ain’t fun. Keeping up the pretense that she isn’t yours, you don’t know where she came from, perhaps she dropped from the sky isn’t easy when under pressure - especially when she is your little mini-me. I removed her by dangling her face down over my arm and pushing the buggy with the other hand while apologising to all the unhappy punters who were just 118-ing the number for social services.

And the worst thing? She is only one. This is the proverbial tip of the proverbial iceberg... Roll on 2, 3, 13, 21 etc etc etc!


Temper Temper

Our little CK is only one so temper tantrums are usually easily diverted and since the dreaded PMT is a thing of the past they are for me as well. Gramps has never been prone to them and I’m pleased to say that CKs’ mother is much more likely to dissolve into tears than to loose the plot, (usually). However, I do remember a time when she was a tiny little person of two. We were toddling round the supermarket with my happy little babe on reins – no doubt these are a total no no these days when small children are encouraged to be free range and organic in every way, so I apologise, but they were de rigour in those days, an absolute must in baby fashion accessories.

On this particular day the terrible twos hormones must have kicked in because she spotted a roll of polo mints next to the till and her chubby little hand shot out and in a nano second they were tightly held in her grubby fist. Now if there is one thing which I think is disgraceful, it is the way the supermarkets put sweets next to the till in an effort to ensnare bored queuing children, so my poor little person did not realise that she had just bumped up against one of Mothers’ Moral Hates and that she was never, ever, going to win that battle. Though I must say she gave it her best, and I admit that we left the shop with her lying on the floor and me dragging her along by her reins. This worked relatively well on the shiny floor but once we hit the tarmac of the car park the going got pretty tough. I trudged, she screamed, I stopped, she looked up, I asked if she had had enough, she nodded and stood up. I think it was the look in my eye!

I had tried explaining to her, honestly; I had tried bribery – ‘let’s leave the sweets and go home for jelly’, – I had lied and told her the sweets were ‘nasty’, I had tried to distract her ‘was that an elephant I just saw in the car park?’, I had tried to shame her, ‘everyone is looking at you and thinking what a naughty little girl you are,’ (oh shame on me), but when none of it worked and it was obvious that this was a pivotal point in our relationship, she was, after all, another woman in the making and, for our future together,r it was important that I won. I was lucky that I had the energy for the battle that day, I know how difficult it can be when you are exhausted and embarrassed by your toddler, and your other child is trying to tell you something and you have your mother-in-law coming for tea but if there was just one golden rule of child rearing I would think it should be, if you say NO, never ever EVER give in – so choose your battles carefully, save it for the drugs, sex and rock and roll and don’t worry too much about the sex and rock and roll.

Granny Bloggins

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Party Girls

Birthday parties.

I love ‘em! Despite not being able to believe that little CK is one already I was proud to see my daughter throwing herself into our birthday party tradition. I always threw great childrens’ parties and the only bit of them which I disliked was going to the supermarket where I would slink guiltily out with a trolley full of synthetic potato based, e-number filled, products nestling next to a sugar overload of chocolate flavoured naughties with which, once a year, my children were allowed to fill their glowing little faces.

For CK it was going to be a fancy dress party and as the little guests only had about ten teeth between them, my daughter sensibly decided to give the adults cake and champagne and leave CKs’ peers to crawl about picking up what crumbs they could find.

The cake was going to be a fairy tale castle – ummm, a bit ambitious for a first attempt? Not at all, it was a triumph of leaning towers and wobbling marshmallows secretly held together with a skeleton of long wooden kebab sticks. Maybe it did look a bit more Gormenghast than Cinderella but after a few glasses of bubbly, who cared?

Gramps and I stuck lots of pictures of little CK on to four pieces of thin card, pleated them up and pinned them on – CKs’ biggest fans! CK and her parents went as aliens. Mr. CK had spent many hours fitting his cycle helmets with articulated protuberances with large eyes on their ends and little CK was mystified by being bundled into a green dressing gown with eyes on stalks waving over her head; but she didn’t care, there were cake crumbs to hunt down!

I can’t wait for next year ………..

Granny Bloggings

Things what I 'ave learned about throwing a 1 year olds birthday party:

1. Don't bother - she will probably not be enjoying it as much as you are and will just be wondering who all these people are and why they are all singing at her.
2. If you ignore 1 and do go ahead regardless, make it fancy dress. Every party is more fun when you can make a fool of yourself - trust me, I elected to wear a prosthetic, prehensile extra limb attached to my head for CK's party and made my darling hubby do the same. No they weren't penises, yes we were supposed to be aliens.
3. Get LOTS of toys in - means you don't have to bother with organising any entertainment which, lets face it, the 1 year olds can't understand, and the parents would rather not have to partake in.
4. If you do a pass the parcel don't tell your lovely father to "Keep adding layers! No, 20 isn't enough!". Honestly, about 3/4 layers of wrapping will do for a party of 20 kids - they are way slow at unwrapping and no-one wants to spend half the party sitting in a circle listening to 'The Wheels on the Bus' - do they?!
5. Get plenty of booze in - see Granny Bloggings post.
6. Be ambitious with your cake - it will give you something to bond with your mother about and will really frighten, erm I mean fire the imaginations, of any guests with upcoming birthday shindigs of their own. Or at least, if it doesn't quite come out how you intended, it will be a talking point :)
7. Draft in some eager staff - husbands, mothers, wives, father in laws, basically anyone who will work for cake.
8. Remember that there are going to be lots more of these to come so you don't have to pull out all the stops every year (unless you live in Essex, where it seems to me, children's parties are becoming a new sport)
9. Try not to take the wrong child home with you - even though they are all in costume, you don't get to take the cutest, just the one who belongs to you.
10. Clear your diary for the next week/month/year to recover!


Thursday, 10 March 2011

Day 368

You are 1, little girl, you are 1. My little mini-me, my matrioshka, my lovely chubby legger, you are 1. This time 1 year ago I was panicking, overwhelmed by love, and anxiety and the littleness of you, I was terrified. I didn't understand what you needed and I didn't know what I was supposed to do. But as the last year unfolded, we have found our way.

I have slept with your weight on my chest, feeling your snuffly breaths echoing through me. I have nurtured you with my own body and you have grown from that tiny, curled up catlike creature snoozing the day through to this boisterous inquisitive person. I have held your hands as you learned to sit up, to roll over and now to take those little cautious steps.

And you have held my hand as I have become your mother.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Books for Sharing

Over the last few years I have noticed that most music in the pop charts (could I sound any older? Maybe if I said Hit Parade?) is collaborative - such and such featuring so and so. Well, it is true also of the blogosphere and this week I am very proud to say that Mummysquared is being featured on one of our favourite blogs. Yes indeed, this week, Listography over at Kate Takes 5 is indeed inspired by our very own Granny Bloggings and her ranting about books... pop over and take a look... Kate and I liked her ramblings so very much that we thought it deserved a spin off.

So the idea is this - 5 books you have enjoyed with your little one, or are indeed looking forward to sharing in the future. Simple right? Hmmm. You try picking just 5! Here are the Mummysquared choices - seeing as this is Granny Bloggings' big moment I thought I'd let her go first for a change:

Just 5?

I can't possibly write the list of books I want to share with little CK as she grows older as there is not enough space or time to name them all so I have decided to choose the five books I adored and read over and over again whilst I was a kid...
1. Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. I was given this book as a school prize in 1960 when I was nine. On the book plate inside the front cover it says "given as a prize for always being cheerful and helpful in class." Well, we can't all be academically brilliant! But I used to read that book to the end and then turn to the front page and start again and I think it may have been the catalyst for my love of reading throughout the rest of my life.
2. Heidi by Johanna Spyre. When you live in a small village in England being able to escape to a Swiss Alp and live with a loving grandpa and whole load of goats seemed like heaven to me when I was about eight. I still crave bead cheese and milk whenever I think of Heidi!
3.Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham. Perfect escapism for a seven year old and I still think of those characters as good friends.
4.Black Beauty by Anna Sewell which sustained me until I could have my own pony when I was nine.
5. Moonfleet by J. Meade Faulkner which is the most wonderful story of pirates, treasure, shipwreck, and true love set a few miles from where I grew up.

Of course there were all the others; Shadow the sheep do,g by Enid Blyton, and all the secret seven and famous five books by her too but when you read them these days they are so horribly dated that it is hard to believe how much pleasure they brought me. With the possible exception of Black Beauty all the others have stood the test of time and I hope one day to share them with little CK, preferably by reading them aloud to her.
Can we do a list of our top hundred books since we are grown ups please?

Granny Bloggins

That’s not my book... It’s narrative is too predictable!

My daughter’s best new habit? Getting a book in one hand, labouring towards you trying to crawl and drag it at the same time, clambering up into your lap, opening the book, pointing out some stuff, concentrating on it with you and clapping while you read to her. OK, so it only lasts for about a page, but it is pretty cool while it lasts.
As I am a secondary school teacher and know nothing about children’s books, I thought I would go for grown up ones instead - books I am looking forward to her reading and loving. Or if she hates reading, listening to on tape and loving. A tape worm, rather than a book worm perhaps? Stop rambling and get on with it!

1. Catch-22 - I studied this book for my highers and felt like it was the first proper grown up book that I had found and loved. It is so funny and so heartwarming.
2. The Lord of The Flies - Yes, I know it is old, yes I know we all studied it at school, but no, that doesn’t mean it has to be boring. It’s brilliant - I love teaching it, I love reading it, I love talking about it. Can’t wait to see the horror on her little face - yeah.
3. Everything Is Illuminated - Funny funny funny book about the holocaust. So wrong it is right. Read it and weep, literally. And every book should feature a seeing eye bitch. I love this one for the teenage audience as I think it lends a new perspective to the whole WWII thing which they think they know inside out.
4. The Poisonwood Bible - As my little darling is half African, I thought this should be on the list. Barbara Kinsolver conjures Africa so truly in this novel and she depicts the love and struggle for that continent. Heartbreaking and enthralling all at the same time.
5. The Gormeghast Trilogy - OK I couldn’t restrict myself to 5... so I cheated and threw in a trilogy... ha! Reading this lot is like eating a bar of chocolate; it is rich, deeply dark, satisfying and moreish. What more could a gal want to be tucked up in bed with?!

So go on... let the sharing commence!

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Voulez-vous couchez avec moi, ce soir?

Bed Hopping

I have a guilty little secret that I need to share with you. I sleep with my child. Shock horror. Before CK was born I read all the books and all the statistics that said that SIDS was more prevalent when a child sleeps in bed with its parents. I had nightmares about smothering my baby as I slept, exhausted and oblivious. And then I had her, and my nights became a string of feeds and wake up calls and I became exhausted and oblivious and one day, I fell asleep with the baby in the bed with me.

And it was great.

She slept, I slept, she fed, I slept, she wriggled, I slept. Brilliant.

I mentioned it one day to my health visitor (lovely, but perhaps not the only source of useful advice one should rely totally upon) and saw the flicker of horror cross her face. I reassured her that I don’t take drugs or smoke or drink and she warned me of the dangers of exhaustion and obliviousness. I nodded sagely and assured her I wouldn't anymore.

But I did. And I do. And it is lovely. Except for waking up contorted into strange positions and aching all over from trying not to roll onto her in my oblivious exhaustion. Clearly, some part of my brain is not that oblivious.

I am not alone in my guilty pleasure. My lovely husband has now discovered the joys of sleeping with the baby too as, up until now, he has always been banished from the bed if she is in it - my theory being that some kind of maternal instinct will stop me from rolling onto her while he, sleeping the sleep of the dead (kind of loud snorey dead) might be truly oblivious. In the last couple of weeks though , now she is very nearly 1 (and obviously nearly a grown up), I have allowed it. I think he secretly quite likes an excuse to do it too.

I was talking to someone the other day who warned against co-sleeping as once you start, you just can’t stop (like Pringles). I am not convinced that CK will still be in my bed when she starts uni, or indeed when she goes to school, but even if she is, I’m not sure me or her dad will mind.


Sleeping with your baby or to use the modern vernacular – co-sleeping.

OK, settle down, get a cuppa, this is going to be a long one:

You are a few fragile cells growing in a warm, dark, quiet, secure environment. As soon as you have ears you spend all day listening to your mother talk and all night listening to the beat of her heart and the blood pulsing through her body. When life gets a little cramped in there it seems like a good idea to move outside.

This experience will depend on where in the world you are born, but let us assume for now that it is in the “Western Civilised First World” with its’ medical culture. Chances are that you will arrive in a blindingly bright, cold, dry and screamingly LOUD place where you will be handled by strangers roughly enough to set you wailing. From this moment on your life will be governed by a new set of rules, many of them handed down through generations of nursing staff who learned their art at the hands of spinsters, as married women were not allowed to work, and by someone who is called Dr. Spock or Gina Ford.

So, you are swaddled and taken away from your mother to lie in a far off lonely place where you can hear all sorts of strange noises and sometimes even your mothers’ voice. Then comes the night. We are not nocturnal, so all humans are out of their comfort zone in the dark. Where is the comfort of that heart beat, the warmth of the body, the smell of the breast? Somewhere across the room but it’s too dark to see and anyway your eyes aren’t clever enough for that yet.

Now I shall digress: when visiting Australia many years ago my daughter and I visited a little village in Brisbane called Early Street, a collection of settlers shacks and houses. In one of the meaner dwellings was a bed covered in a beautiful patchwork quilt and attached to the side of the bed was a tiny cot with two legs supporting it on the side away from the bed. All the mother had to do to comfort her baby was reach out a few inches. I don’t know the statistics for how many babies are smothered in their parents beds but don’t you think that if we stopped frowning and muttering and started thinking we might be able to come up with a cunning and safe plan, after all, we can put a man on the moon…

If you are female it will be twelve long years before you are even nearing independence and if you are male it may be twice that long (sorry guys, blame your mothers!) Yet in a matter of a few short months you pass some mysterious milestone and the powers-that-be state that now you can go and sleep, in the dark and all alone, in your own room in a socking great cot. Is it any surprise that as soon as you are able to climb out of your first bed and toddle – fast, really fast, through the dark- you head straight for your parents’ bed?

Once there, with mothers’ nose firmly grasped in one chubby little hand and a fist full of daddys’ back hair clutched in the other you can finally relax and go into the deep sleep you have been yearning for. The warm urine pong of a fetid nappy can rise freely between the bed sheets and if there is not enough room you can use your elbows, knees, feet, and fists to fight for your own space – bliss. At some point in the night you mother or father may leave the bed and go into your room, but do you care? Not a jot. You have been made to sleep there for two years, now it is their turn to be alone – hah!

Maybe if we were all a bit more relaxed about allowing our babies to sleep with us when they really needed to they would feel more confident of their ‘grown-up’ status when offered a room of their own? Of course it has to suit the whole family and it has to be safe.

Now that our daughter is 31, and hasn’t slept in between us for some time (well, OK, at least 27 years) Gramps and I have so many happy memories of those broken nights! Yes, it seemed never-ending at the time and yes it was like musical beds some nights but hey, it was worth it for all the giggles.

PS when said daughter was nearly five we made her a bunk bed with a real ladder and everything and bought her a digital clock, taught her what 7.00 looked like and told her to stay in her room until that time – worked like a dream…

Granny Bloggings

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Ponderous posting

I have been suffering this week. Not from the dreaded lurgy this week (although lurgy, as Elvis said, you are always on my mind, hence the over washed hands), nor from some kind of pox. No, this week I have been suffering because my muse seems to have deserted me. Which is funny, because I never knew I had one.

I started blogging because secretly, a little part of me has always felt I deserved a book deal, but apparently you have to actually do some work to be offered one. Funny that. I'm not that disappointed though because that was only one little reason, mainly it was just because I needed something to do to occupy my idle mind now that I am one of the great unwashed, unemployed.

But then I became obsessed, as my poor neglected husband or child (no, not social services kind of neglect) will tell you. I had to log in every day to check whether we had any new followers, whether anyone from Outer Mongolia was reading our blog (honestly, you can check that kind of stuff - who knew?!), and whether we were ever going to get any recognition.

I was perplexed as other bloggers seemed to get mentions all the time on forum sites of note (BMB, you know who you are!), prizes and accolades for having something funny or interesting to say, and readers in the 100's or 1000's.

And I racked my brains for how to up my stats, increase my following (whoah, that sounds a little scary) and double my traffic.

So I took a week, maybe two, off and now I have perspective. So thank you to friends old and new for whom we write this blog; To Debby, the cousin who I have never met who keeps an eye on me and CK from Germany; to my good friend Elana who we will see very soon; to Rach who I know is reading; to Liska, my new bloggy mate who is on my wavelength, even if that is an old fashioned radio term from the days before internet; and to Brian who reads every post in the split second that it is published, when really he should be working. Thank you to all of you who read and who give me a reason to ramble, a motive for musing.

I promise to stop naval gazing and be more interesting. Any minute now...

The Mummatron
(ps sorry no Granny Bloggings today - the lurgy got her - poor thing!)

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Listen Up Menfolk - Our Valentines Wishes

So it's Listography time again over at Kate Takes 5 and this week we are thinking about what we would like for Valentine's day so lets hope our men are checking this out (Sorry hubby - I've set you quite a task!).

Here are mine - clearly I believe that miracles can happen on St Valentines... We'll see!

1. Welcome to Jetsons world: I would like to be a Jetson. Remember the Jetson's? Like the Flintstones but set in outer space rather than prehistory. The cool thing about being a Jetson is that not only do you get a robot to do all the boring household chores, everything else gets easier too - there is no strapping Little into a car seat, oh no, not when you travel by suction tube. And meals are a doddle - just order a pill that tastes like dinner. Sounds bloody good to a lazy housewife such as myself.
2. Can I rub that for you madam? Oooh yes please: No, you haven't just stumbled into some Mills and Boon moment, my next wish is for a live in masseur. It's a little bit indulgent I guess, but 9 months of whaledom, followed by hefting around a little chubby luvva for 11 months has left me feeling as though my chakras are all out of whack. Or something.
3. Join me on the terrace for a bit of bubbly?: My own hot tub. No really, I know it is a little trailer trash of me, and no, I don't live in Essex, but I have always wanted my own hot tub. So sue me.
4. Where am I? Who am I? : I would like a Big Night Out, like I used to have, back in the days before I had responsibilities (for that read 'before baby'). But I would like to be able to have my Big Night Out without any repercussions... no headache, no 'a monkey died in my mouth' kinda feeling, no 'sh*t who did I text?!' panic, and no need to eat total rubbish for 24 hours to stop myself from hurling. Just the fun bits please.
5. Not the Jacqui Stallone thing, but close: All over plastic surgery, nip it, tuck it, lift it, suck it, tweak it, spread it, smooth it, sort it. And then a pair of those lacquered look leggings. Ooo baby.

The Mummatron

And here are hers...Five things I would like for Valentines day? I guess we are thinking romance here? ummmm....

1. I would like to wake up and find my white hair was blonde again and was going to stay that way. Oh, yes and that someone had just invented the wrinkle-iron.
2. I would like lunch out with my husband at a venue where we can sit in a sunny window and the food I eat will not go straight to my hips.
3.I would like to stay overnight in a really stunning hotel with a pool and sauna and have a facial after my swim. Then...
4. I would like to come home and sit in front of the log fire, read a good book and eat a whole box of chocolates which would not send me straight into a diabetic coma - or go straight to my hips.
5. I would like to be able to think of something on my wish list which was not so completely selfish, but hey this is fantasy right? And I think I am actually going to spend Valentines day having lunch with my daughter, her husband and the adorable little CK which, mushy as it sounds is actually the very best thing I could wish for.

Granny Bloggings

Monday, 7 February 2011

Writing Lists...

The Babyproof Bucket List

A few months ago my father in law was diagnosed with cancer. As you can imagine, my lovely hubby was having a pretty hard time of it so I suggested a treat; a yummy meal and a movie on the telly. Now to those of you who still have a life, I know that doesn’t sound like a big deal, but for those of us who usually have just about enough energy for half (yes indeed half) an episode of ‘The Wire’ before we nod off, a whole movie is HUGE.
So I decided on something called The Bucket List which looked like an amusing diversion - Nicholson and Freeman - what could go wrong? Nicholson and Freeman with terminal cancer - what could be a worse choice (you stupid stupid cow, read the synopsis next time you idiot)?

Anyway, after recovering from that faux pas, I got to thinking about Lists (of the Bucket variety, hence the capital L) and whether you could still have one if your main priority was your newly burgeon-ed family unit... And I figured yes, you can but it need to be babyproofed. And so here goes, my Things To Do Before Ya Cark It List:

  1. The American Road Trip: Starting in Alaska and ending up in Patagonia, in a bloody great gas-guzzling palace on wheels (I’ll plant some trees as I go). Not til CK is old enough to handle being strapped in for more than 12 minutes without screaming - so probably 2020...
  2. Learn a new language: So I always make an effort to be able to ask for my egg and chips in the vernacular, but I have never been able to hold a conversation, or go beyond the basics. I suppose Spanish is the best choice to aid with List Item 1 (am already fully fluent in Yankee Twang).
  3. Become a pianist: I play the saxophone (or used to at least) and while that is lovely, no-one has ever wanted to gather around it and have a singalong. In fact most people want to get about 3 rooms away to spare their hearing - I played it for little CK the other day and she cried. So am thinking maybe piano is more versatile, more sociable? All I need now is a piano, and a teacher, and some time (and will) to practice.
  4. Bite the Bullet and eat Michelin: Anyone who knows me, knows I like my food. And I love to eat out. And I LOVE Masterchef and their obsession with stars. But I have never been able to bring myself to go to a starred restaurant - all that money for something you are, eventually, going to flush - surely that’s not moral? But I want to! I want to!
  5. Own a dog: Man's best friend, every family needs one, easier (marginally) than having another child.

That’s the start - what have I forgotten? What would you put on your Bucket List? I’ll let you know as soon as I tick anything off the list - but don’t hold your breath for too long!

The Mummatron

A Bit of A To-Do

In the days of BC (before Children) I seem to remember that I was an efficient and organised kinda gal. I found time for all sorts of jollys, I planned and threw parties; dinner parties, fancy dress parties, loud music parties, parties with games, grown-up parties with complicated guest lists and parties which featured a lot of alcohol and some less legal substances – don’t look so shocked it was the early 70’s. I baked my own bread, sifted my own lentils, made my own marmalade, and, but not at the same time - cut my own hair (yes, well that may have been a mistake but hey, money was scarce). All this, while working and being newly married. Then along came children.

From then on it seems that I needed to write lists for everything; shopping, jobs to be done, where I needed to be and when. I can remember going to the supermarket, glancing down to see why the floor seemed so slippery, and realising I was still wearing my slippers. Did I have my purse or shopping list? What do you think? Of course not. Parties? Give me a break I couldn’t have organised a pig-out in a doughnut factory!

Then, of course, when my little darlings started school they clamoured for birthday parties so I had to gird my proverbials and start making lists… And I must say that those parties were always very successful and here’s my secret: I would get a pal to help and ask her to arrive an hour before the start time, at which point we would open a bottle of white wine and drink the lot! Yeah! Boy those parties went with a swing! (Though I have to admit that there were always other mothers there to drive to the hospital if any of the little party-goers came to grief).

However, I digress… once my daughter was at school my brain seemed to become my own again, I felt lucid and efficient once more. I read the newspapers, organised trips with friends, trained the puppy, managed reasonably well-informed conversations and was able to get through a whole day without a single list to tell me who I was and what I should be wearing. Unfortunately what I didn’t know at the time was that it was merely the ‘eye of the storm’ and now at nearly 60 Lists are once again the order of the day. So if you are at home with your little ones wondering if your brain will ever work properly again, the answer is probably not, but try to think of it as the perfect training for how to make great lists to sustain you in your old age. Who am I again? Oh yes,

Granny Bloggings

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Secret Goodness...

Today on Twitter there was a crazy tweeting session/twitter party (it's a modern phenomenon apparently) on the topic of secret goodness... Or in other words; How to Hoodwinks Little Uns into Eating Something (Preferably Something Healthy). Well, I learned lots of good tips and hoped to put them to work tonight, but no, Little was having none of it. What she was having some of though was, as follows:
cheese (of course - what else would you put with the listed ingredients?

I hope no-one has a brief look and assumes this is a recipe. It isn't. However - it does create a happy meal time.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

The Gallery:Shapes

So this is the last photo I thought I would share, but when Tara over at Sticky Fingers announced that this weeks Gallery would be focussing on 'Shapes' I thought of this. It was taken pretty much exactly one year ago - as I was starting my maternity leave, just five weeks before CK was born. It evokes some pretty grim memories of sleepless nights and discomfort, but it also speaks of the imminent arrival of the prodigal child!

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

In defence of the only...

Only the Lonely
Only children are spoilt, socially inept, lonely and odd, right? Some children are spoilt, some are socially inept, some are lonely and some (take it from me, I’m a teacher) are certainly odd, but I don’t think this has anything to do with being an ‘only’. I’m sure some onlies fit into these categories, but some of the sibling-rich do too.

I grew up as an only child (technically, I wasn’t an only child til I was two when my brother died - so maybe I don’t count?!) and I had an amazing experience of childhood. I suppose I was ‘spoilt’ - I travelled with my parents, ate in proper restaurants (not just Little Chef roadside pitstops, or Wimpys while out shopping - although I secretly pined for these culinary delights!), and had the saxophone I wanted. But I wasn’t spoilt, I knew my manners, knew I was lucky, and I never expected anything. I wasn’t once lonely as I always had friends around me (who by the way I could choose, unlike siblings). I don’t think I am socially inept, and could always make believe with other kids as well as being able to chat with adults. I admit, I am probably odd, but that has nothing to do with being an only.

So I am writing this in defence of my decision to make CK a little odd, inept, spoilt, lonely only. This post is addressed to everyone who has been saying (just a tad smugly) to me for the last year “I said that, and then I went on to have another 3 children!”. No, when I say I don’t want anymore, I really mean it. I don’t want the 9 months of morning sickness, the 9 months of indigestion, the 9 months of feeling blue. I don’t want anymore stretch marks to compliment the ones I already have. I don’t want my body to be any more deformed that it already is. And I don’t want to share my time or my heart.

I have the confidence that I can make CK a rounded, happy, normal individual without providing another child, without her having someone to squabble with, without her having to share the toy/book/remote control.
And if she turns out a little odd, that is fine too - she will fit in with the rest of the human race!


Get Over It!!

Only Children are just children without siblings, it’s no big deal, get over it!

Families these days come in all shapes and sizes and their dynamics are always changing. Children can be surrounded by ‘siblings’ one day and find themselves ‘only children’ the next, sometimes swiftly joined by a bunch of new ‘siblings’, … with some of these being part time ‘siblings’. Life these days is complicated and children have to learn to live with all sorts of relationships.

I did not set out to have just one child but after our son died, we started to discover the advantages to having just one little girl to introduce to the world. We had the time, the space, and our limited budget could stretch to all sorts of things like museum visits and books, but mostly we had the time. Time to think about how to handle our daughters’ up-bringing; time to answer her questions, time to explain things to her, time to listen to her questions, time to fetch and carry her playmates to our house and her to theirs, time to educate her, time to pay attention to her development as a socially adept little person, and time to talk to her about the birds and the bees when the perfect moment came.

If this is what you call spoiling a child then I say bring it on! In my book the only way you can ‘spoil’ a child is to bring it up to be bad mannered, uncaring, rude, anti-social and selfish, and the best way to do that, is to bring it up with no guide lines or rules which will lead to a complete lack of self discipline and a false perception of their importance in the world.

Let’s face it ‘there’s nowt so queer as folk’, we’re all different thank goodness, because we are all a product of our individual up-bringing, and that’s what makes the world such a wonderfully diverse place full of such wonderfully diverse people.

Granny Bloggings

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