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

Like it? Wanna read more? Ah go on go on go on...