Sunday, 28 April 2013

Yes, yes that's very impressive, but can he play it on the piano ?

wooden chopsticks resting on a while bowl against a bamboo background
The other day me and the boy were eating noodles for lunch - I'm delighted he likes Chinese food as it will hold him in good stead in future life as a student (hopefully) and as a man who can cook for himself (again hopefully). He watched me eat with some wooden chopsticks and asked if he could have some. I remembered the very small ones I have left from a packet of sushi, washed them and popped them into his bowl of noodles. He promptly took them out and effortlessly began to use them to eat. He was absolutely delighted and I was flabbergasted !

Now I don't remember how old I was when I first tried to eat with chopsticks, but it wasn't when I was two and a half. I don't recall anything I could do at this age that he does now. We take him to football, we go swimming, he has a toddler tablet computer and more bikes and toys than is strictly necessary. It's an unfair comparison between my childhood and his as there are 40 years between them, but it's the only one I have. My boy is an active child who is constantly on the move and I have no idea if he is like that because we do so many activities with him or if we are responding to his natural buoyancy and energy by taking him out all the time. I do wonder what our children will be able to do to rebel or let off steam. We keep them occupied so much of the time as though we're worried they might spend a fraction of a second without an activity. As I child I did watch far too much TV (I still do) and I wasn't really a 'joiner' (I'm still not), but I did read a lot of books and wrote a fair amount too.

Hippie woman holding a basket and dressed in dirndl outfit Parenting in this day and age appears to be about what other people tell us to do or judge us for not doing. We are given guidance from before our children are born on how to do everything and it's like parenting by committee. I consulted at least half a dozen Mums before weaning my son and at one point when he was still a baby my mother suggested I give him boiled and cooled water to drink. I recounted this advice to a hippie mum (you know the kind - batik print baby wrap and smells of patchouli and judgement) and was greeted with a sharp intake of breath as she told me in no uncertain terms " you never give a breastfed baby water." I was alarmed that I'd done something terrible then remembered that my mother raised four children so she must know what she's talking about. All this without resorting to tie dye sarong pants to show how much of an earth mother she was. Why did I even consider for a moment that my own mother might not know what she was doing ?

black and white image of child watching television On any given day we see 'research' claiming that too much TV is bad for our children or that they have to eat certain vegetables for optimum brain function. In trying to ensure we don't expose our kids to too much of this or not enough of that we are also faced with other parents comparing how we do things. A friend asked me a while back what time our boy goes to bed and I told her - she responded 'Oh that's quite late isn't it ?' not intending to be mean at all. I pondered for weeks on whether or not I was failing as a Mother for not putting my son to bed sooner. When I saw her again recently she asked the same question and I sheepishly gave the same answer to which she replied, 'yes, that's the same as us.' So she was just checking in that what they do is 'normal' and not using the information to judge me.

I do wonder if the peer pressure from other parents has always been like this or if it's just a symptom of our need to be 'active' parents. We are so concerned with our sense of ourselves that we can't take a back seat to our children - we need to be 'involved and engaged.' I mean we've cornered the market in misery memoirs both as adults who were kids and as parents who can't stop moaning about how hard it all is. Isn't that what we're all doing on parenting blogs ? Mithering about how tough it all is. It's like leaning over a massive garden fence without having to share germs or make other people cups of tea and only half listening to the other person while waiting to jump in with our latest adorable anecdote about Jacinta or Tristan. 

I'm pretty sure our parents' generation didn't moan about raising their kids they just did it. Neither did they seek other people's approval or plaudits for how well they brought us up. If anything they are self-deprecating when talking about their own children and any part they may have played in bringing them up. 

Little boy writing maths problems on a chalkboard. Which brings me back to the chopsticks. I have no idea how my son knows how to use them, maybe he's a genius. 

If he is it's nothing me or his father have done.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Foodie Friday: The fable of the frail frying pan

I have had a domestic disaster. Not a dishwasher / washing machine breakdown, or a cooker failure. Not even a fridge / freezer packing up (thank goodness - there's only so much frozen food we can eat and I'm pretty sure that even Hubbie would grow tired of fishfingers, garlic bread, peas and ice cream eventually !)

Nope it's none of these actual life altering disasters, it's a really minor and, therefore, exponentially worse one. The non-stick has gone on my small frying pan !!

small frying pan with fried egg in it
I first noticed the other day when I spent an inordinate amount of time scraping an egg off the pan (with a non-metal spatula of course - I'm not a neanderthal !) and I put it down to my having the heat on too high under the pan. Then it took three attempts to get the pan clean (again not using a scourer, but a gentle cleaning sponge - this is not rocket science you know !) When I used it again yesterday I had the same, no actually worse, results with a badly scrambled egg mostly stuck to the pan. It wasn't as bad as the ones you see on Saturday Kitchen, admittedly, but it was not appealing to the palate.

I have another non-stick pan, but it is far larger so this one was always my go to pan for small things like an egg just for me or an omelette for lunch. Without it my attempts at healthy eating are foiled by laziness and the temptations of ready made foods. Why cook something without fat if you can just go to the shop and pick up something in pastry ? Frying pan as a dieters best ally may sound counterintuitive, but it's not, as any woman who's tried to lose weight on a low fat plan will tell you - and there are a few of us out there. Cooking with little or no fat means being able to eat 'fried' eggs and omelettes rather than foraging for food after an unsatisfying Ryvita and cottage cheese 'meal.'

It's not just the fat reducing qualities of the non-stick pan though. A few years ago I replaced my ancient collection of pans which I'd had since I went to University (and they were old then !). I'd been given gift vouchers for my 40th birthday so I decided to spend them on nice pans that all matched instead of the eclectic and 'pre-loved' looking ones I had. These ones are simpler to wash and aren't dented and discoloured from years of use. They haven't developed that distinctive smell that the old ones had which made all food taste vaguely the same.

matching set of anodised pans
In the short term it looks like I may have to use spray oil to coat the pan before cooking anything in it. If it is beyond reasonable use I may have to call on the guarantee that these things have when you buy them. The problem is I have no recollection of when I bought the thing and am only a little bit sure where I actually bought it. Worse case scenario I have to get a new one. Oh well I have a birthday coming up so I can always hint that I want one as a gift can't I ?

Like I said it's hardly an insurance matter, but this mini drama has rocked my world.

Wow I really do need to stop being a stay at home Mum don't I ?

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Love, love, love…

I have been a bit quieter than usual on the blogging front for a few days. Partly this is due to my new job and an acute awareness that people get fired for making remarks about their places of work online. Also the improved weather has meant we've been outside a lot more and as usual I overdid it on my first foray into the garden this year which left me doubled over in pain on Sunday evening.

black and white image of woman reading on train So two days into commuting I've managed to finish a book that I have only managed to read halfway through for the last 4 months. Almost makes up for the crush on the tram going home, but not quite. In addition my boy has developed a whole new night-time wail that is high pitched, irritating and is only soothed by 'Cuddle Mummy.'

Then today I read two blog posts that inspired me to write this post.

Firstly this one by a mother bereft at her daughter returning to university. She talks about the cycle of life with parents where as babies we love and depend on them, then as teenagers we grow tired of them, then as adults we grow into loving them again. It reminded me that in my first year at university I spoke to my Mother every day - mundane stuff like what I'd eaten - then it was every few days then eventually it was when I remembered. Going home meant a return to the routine of my family and the food that I knew and loved. It also meant being transported back to feeling like a child.

And this brings me to the second blog I read today. This one by Zoe Williams about a recent news story claiming that a child will be able to cope with being disciplined so long as they are reassured that their parents love them. I'm not going to approach this from the angle of whether hitting is ok or not. My parents did not hit as a rule. Instead they used a combination of anger, manipulation and inducing guilt to make their point. I was spoken to as if I was an adult in arguments, but treated like a child when they wanted compliance with their rules. As far as they were concerned parenting was not about consensus, but obedience. As a result I am determined not to do the same to my son.

me and my son as a newborn
There isn't a manual for how to raise a child or how to manage our own parents. I only see my folks now in order that they can spend time with my son. I'm not ungrateful to them as they raised me to know how hard it was for them and to appreciate that they worked so we could have things. It is a relationship based on their demands for respect 'just because.' Culturally that was not unusual, but it was tedious having to explain to friends that I couldn't do the normal things they did because my parents believed that anyone outside the family was a bad influence.

The greatest trick my parents ever pulled was convincing everyone - me included - that they were the smiling characters that everyone else saw. So long as they are nice to my son I won't have reason to disabuse him of this myth either. I know they love him and that it makes them happy to see him. If I need to be there too so be it.

I don't know if being hit by your parents is bearable if you feel loved. I do know that not feeling loved by your parents is pretty crappy.

For me loving my son is like breathing - it is not optional.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Foodie Friday: My final fling - in the kitchen.

His and hers gingerbread figures
After much to-ing and fro-ing about hours and start dates I'll be back in the world of the working from next week. I am very nervous about it, but not because I'm worried about the boy. He will be doing an extra day at nursery and will be taken care of by his beloved Auntie or Hubbie on alternate weeks to cover the other day. This means he's taken care of from breakfast until teatime and I am let loose on the world from the time I drop him off to when I pick him up.

This week I've been making the most of our time together and it has been fraught at times. Apart from his ability to go from zero to high pitched tantrum and back again in seconds (just like his mother) he has also demanded a lot of attention from me as if he knows I'm going to be away from him. To counter this I've been baking and making things he likes. We made some oat and raisin cookies this week and he helped add the ingredients and stir the mixture as well as being the official taster for me. In my kitchen I keep a small ringbound notebook in which I store my most used recipes. Top of the tree is the perfect oat and raisin cookie recipe, by which I mean the ingredients list is less than half the page and it contains no more than one ingredient I haven't got already.

lemon and blueberry cake sliced Even better is when I have a recipe that actively uses ingredients I have hanging around. I made a cake from frozen blueberries, fresh lemons and some butter that needed to be used up and apart from realising too late that the baking powder was past it's best it turned out pretty well. Hubbie likes it served with ice cream as a dessert so I've frozen it and will come back to it when the latest batch of cookies is finished and we are in the market for cake again.

Equally popular is the definitive banana bread recipe which uses up bananas that are past their best, freezes brilliantly and is just right for a packed lunch treat for Hubbie or a post work/nursery snack for the boys. I made it this week with fewer bananas and different butter and for the first time I actually enjoyed eating it too. I usually don't eat cooked bananas, but for some reason this one just hit the spot for me. I won't make a habit of it though as even with a walk up three flights of the narrowest stairs in London to get to my office won't counteract the effects of cake gluttony.

healthy packed lunch graphic with yellow lunch box and purple drink bottle, yoghurt, apple and sandwichI am now faced with the prospect of taking a packed lunch to work again - which is tricky as I don't particularly like sandwiches. Hubbie has taken the same packed lunch since I've known him - he doesn't like change. I managed to swap out full fat for half fat crisps a few years ago and that was so traumatic for him that I daren't suggest any further substitutions for fear of the need for therapy. I suspect it's going to take a few tries before I get it right for me. After all I have to take my breakfast, lunch and possibly an afternoon snack with me as I'll be out from when I take the boy to nursery for breakfast until I pick him up at his dinner time. I can't eat too early in the morning so unless I have something healthy with me I risk a meltdown and low blood sugar late morning resulting in some very poor nutrition choices with so many cafes and coffee shops in Farringdon.

Cooking dinner may also require some forward planning as I'm not sure how inclined I'll be to roll up my sleeves and prepare food from scratch after a day at work. One of my favourite meals to prepare is the fastest veggie chilli recipe I have. It uses up leftover veg and always stretches to at least one more meal so it's efficient and timesaving. This is one where I pretty much pop all the ingredients into a large casserole dish and leave it to simmer with the occasional stir to stop it from sticking. Again it freezes really well so can be kept for a future date or an evening when Hubbie is out at football and I can't be bothered to cook just for me.

I mentioned at the start that I'm nervous about the new job. Not because of the boy. Not because of the logistics. Not even because of the travel. I'm used to being at home now. I'm used to planning my day with the boys in mind and a fairly open diary. I'm also used to doing my radio show and my yoga teaching and will be taking a break from both for the time being. You see I don't deal with change very well either.

So from Monday wish me luck with my new venture and pop a metaphorical note into my lunch to tell me it's going to be ok.

I'll try not to eat it by mistake :o)

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

It was a rough afternoon on Walton's mountain

image of family of two parents and two children holding hands.
I was Facebook chatting with a friend the other day who has 4 children, half of them young twins. As the oldest of 4 children I used to think it would be nice to have that many. However, there are times when I am so overwhelmed by one toddler that I can't imagine what state I'd be in if I was outnumbered like that. I was commenting on how well my friend seemed to be doing with her brood as she had posted lovely pics of her beautiful babies. This was enough proof for me to surmise that she is coping admirably with the transition from two to four kids, but she tells me it's mostly crowd control.

Now I can definitely identify with this sense of being in the eye of a tornado and having little idea what's coming next. What I hadn't appreciated was that I respond in ways that my boy is now reflecting back to me. In the last week he has uttered the words:

  • "That's nonsense"
  • "Pack it in"
  • "No, no, no."
      and the other day he said: 
  • "Ridiculous"

Now I know he got the last one from the Archers which was on in the car at the time, but the other stuff was all from me. Even though I have no recollection of saying any of those things, Hubbie assures me that I do. I tell the cat to pack it in when he's miaowing for food (which is often) so my son isn't even just copying what I say to him. This would be less worrying if it weren't for the fact that during one of our particularly prolonged arguments the other day I caught myself throwing a plush* space rocket at him and heard myself say "if you don't put on your shoes / eat your dinner / stop throwing your toys all over the place (I can't accurately recall) I'm going to smash your face in."

Now if you have just taken a sharp inhale you're not alone. I did as well at the recollection of it. I don't advocate violence and I certainly don't countenance threats to anyone - least of all small children. I can only imagine I temporarily lost all sense of proportion and didn't realise what I was saying. Then it sent me into an insane train of thought about how I clearly don't deserve to have any more children as I'm just not good enough to cope with the one I already have. I won't tell the adoption people this of course as they might just take me seriously. Having spoken to a prospective adopter who had been told she had a miserable face and that might work against her I'm not taking any chances.

I do expect my karmic reward to be that my son will repeat my words at some highly inopportune moment, but at least I am now forewarned and waiting for it to happen. As he is in the 'hear it, say it, repeat it' phase of language I deserve all I get in return really.
Karma what goes around comes around image on blue background
However, I've also been working on forgiveness lately as I realised that being able to forgive is the root of keeping a level head. I am very hard on myself when I make a mistake and hold onto grudges and resentments from the past that really are best left there. My new approach is to forgive myself for getting things wrong and to let it go when things happen that would usually cause inappropriate rage.

Next phase is to stop making insane threats to my son.

I can't promise anything, but I'll try.

*plush fabric - I'm not making a comment on the decor

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Two things ye must know about the wise woman: she is wise and she is a woman.

Image of Phil Nichol Canadian Stand up comedian
I went to a comedy gig last night with my lovely friend SJ as part of the Udderbelly which is housed in an upside down purple cow on the Southbank. Years ago we used to go to comedy almost every week and I even did one of the early stand up courses which have spawned so many of the current comedians. Last night we went to watch a comic called Phil Nichol who we've followed over the years and who is very talented and deserves to be much more famous than he is. His rendition of Gay Eskimo from his time with Corky and the Juice Pigs is a work of genius and I never tire of hearing it even after all these years. Of course with so many comedians out there not all make it to the dizzy heights of fame and some even fall from a once hallowed position (I refer you to my previous post about Rob Newman). 

When I got home I looked at which other acts are performing at the Udderbelly and saw a show called "Brendon Burns hasn't heard of you either". Now you may have heard of him, as a few years back he won an award at the Edinburgh comedy festival with his shouty, offensive style - his website refers to him as 'controversial'. I have heard of him and have to admit to some schadenfreude that this show title suggests his career has taken a somewhat downward trajectory. We have history you see. 

Some years ago he was performing at Jongleurs and as I had drawn the short straw I was seated right next to the stage. He spent a lot of his set yelling loudly into a microphone about how a girlfriend had left him after sleeping with someone else - I can't imagine why. I took issue with this as he chose to aim his rants right into my ears in which I was wearing hearing aids as I had a condition called hyperacusis. It was unpleasant and actually painful, but of course you can't argue with a stand up as that's just asking for trouble, so I just decided to hate him forever instead. Oh, and to curse him. 

SJ is the Queen of Curses - she will place a curse on someone who has done her wrong and woe betide them if she does. You see it is a slow burn curse, but the effects can be devastating. At school she cursed a particularly vindictive headmistress who had given her a really poor UCAS reference. It took more than a decade to work, but sure enough this woman's life fell apart spectacularly and she went quite mad. As SJ said (without any malice) "It takes time, but if I curse someone it works."

It occurs to me now that I may have developed this same skill. 

You see, the irony is that this man who loved to rant into a woman's hearing aids now has a diagnosis of hearing loss. It's the basis of his new show, hence the clumsy title. Of course I didn't wish on him to lose his hearing, but how poetic that he should considering what he did that irked me. I don't know if he wears hearing aids. I'm not in the slightest bit interested really. 

All I'm saying is be careful.

I have powers ! 

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Love, romance and a new kitchen floor

Pencil drawing of a shed in the gardenThis evening Hubbie was fixing what appears to be a case of flooding under our kitchen floor. It's the latest addition to my list of things that need to be done. Now don't get me wrong the house is not a wreck. I love our home and we bought it because we didn't need to do anything to it when we moved in. The previous owners even left us the curtains, a spare bed, all the kitchen goods and a really nice bike in the shed. Oh and all the gardening equipment in the shed including two mowers. Hubbie loves having a shed to call his own and of course is overjoyed at being the owner of two mowers. Since we moved we've added to the shed a leaf blower and a gas barbecue courtesy of Nectar points (and my generosity in giving all of them to him).

The house is not particularly old, but there are things that are starting to go and that will over time need doing. If I think about them it makes my head hurt, but while we were out having dinner this week instead of looking into each other's eyes over the candle on our table we were discussing what needs to be done. We're romantic like that.

The list so far includes:

  • Rebuild the garage (safely removing asbestos)
  • Replace fridge, cooker, dishwasher, washing machine which are all slowly croaking to death 
  • Repair the front bay window in the boy's room which leaks when it rains heavily 
  • Remove the tree stump in the garden that is making the path go all bendy 
  • Clear the dingly dell at the end of the garden (where I think the foxes live) 
  • Extend the kitchen to make a utility area 
     and now
  • Take up the kitchen floor to dry out underneath it (with the possibility of having to replace it)

Husband holding a large tree branch in front of his face in the garden on a sunny day
I had planned on spending the wages from my new job on travel, nursery costs and the occasional Ocado shop with any leftovers being used for treats. I suspect that instead of pampering treatments and the occasional hair appointment those treats will now consist of down payments on my John Lewis wish list items and a 'house fund.'

So the transformation is now complete:

I listen to Radio 4, shop at Waitrose and my kitchen wish list is with John Lewis.

Hubbie has a shed, keeps making noises about building another and did I mention he has two mowers ?

Our aspirations aren't to go backpacking or try a new cocktail bar in town.

Yes, It's official.  We are middle aged.

Monday, 8 April 2013

I never drank the milk anyway, but that's not the point.

A couple of things discombobulated me today. Firstly it appears that the misguided clothing style from my teens has been appropriated into a 'revival' so I saw almost my entire wardrobe from when I was 18 in the shops this afternoon. It was disturbing to say the least seeing bold prints, bad trousers and (heaven forfend) bodies on sale again. As a wise woman once said, "if you're old enough to remember it from the first time it was in fashion you're far too old to wear it this time."

Secondly I was just about to go on air this afternoon and present my radio show, which today I'd subtitled "Spring Fling' in homage to a ball that they used to hold at my university. [For younger readers a ball was what you now call a prom] As I waited for my fellow presenter to wrap up her show I looked at twitter and saw this:

screen grab of tweet announcing Thatcher's death
So my plans for a cheery and light hearted show with some fun tunes was suddenly threatened as I saw the steady stream of vitriolic and abusive messages with links to anti-Thatcher songs on social media. It was tempting to go with a show about the news, but it would also be out of step with my usual style so instead I just didn't mention it on air at all.

Instead I played music from my years at Uni as that era was fresh in my mind and they just happened to be songs that typify the Thatcher years as PM. In fact she once visited the campus as the University of Warwick was her favourite example of enterprise in further education. She arrived in a helicopter and a student - who is now communications manager for a local authority in East London that rhymes with Hower Tamlets - threw eggs at her. He wasn't doing a degree in PE so of course he missed. 

In the interests of full disclosure I hated Thatcher with a passion. So much so that I was actually angry at Meryl Streep for portraying her sympathetically in The Iron Lady. In my dating days I went out with a man who had her photograph in his upstairs bathroom and I was so horrified that he would do that (even for a joke) that in my head I already knew it was over. 

Spitting image puppet of Margaret ThatcherI grew up in a house where if she was on the TV my Dad would swear and change the channel. It was ingrained in us as children to hate her and to this day the sound of her voice makes me shudder. In my youth it was all the rage to call her a milk snatcher and Spitting Image portrayed her as an increasingly masculine character over the years ending with her smoking stogies and wearing a pinstripe suit. 

Now considering that on twitter I mostly follow people who hold similar views to me it's unlikely that I'd have seen any heart felt tributes to her, but I do have friends whose politics are very different from mine. It makes certain conversations difficult, but I have always been honest about how I feel about Thatch and the myth that she was a powerful force for women and feminism. 

I'm not celebrating or finding joy in her death. Not because of any mawkish sentimentality about her being an old woman you understand. She died peacefully in old age, in the comfort of the Ritz hotel and not in poverty or disablement. How very similar to her good friend Pinochet. 

So today while others are going apoplectic with rage at her past deeds and others are calling for a rational and measured response to her being accorded a ceremonial (not State) funeral I am celebrating something different. 

Hubbie barely making it into the photo with my big head On Friday I went to a job interview after being a stay at home parent for most of my son's life so far. I wasn't sure if my suit would fit (it did) or if I would know what to say (I did) or if they would even offer it to me (they did). Now the hard part. I've asked them to consider part time hours so that I can still care for my son a few days a week. The salary does not cover full time childcare and I'm sure they could use the cost saving of part time hours as they are a charity. I find out their decision tomorrow, but if they don't go for my suggestion it's nice to know I can still get a job in these austere times.

So today is not about her, it's all about me.

Just the way it should be :o)  

Saturday, 6 April 2013

The Sporting Life

Fisher FC progamme It's a rite of passage for a boy to watch football with his father. We know this because it's the basis of Nick Hornby's Fever Pitch and Russell Brand's autobiography refers to his love of West Ham coming from the time he spent with his father Ronald going to watch matches at Upton Park. My son started going to football with Hubbie when he was a few weeks old. In fact I had to go with them the first time as I was still breastfeeding and had to be there to provide a half time snack for the boy.

I owe a great deal to sport as when my boy was first born Hubbie used to stay up late to watch the San Francisco Giants play and he would take the baby downstairs with him when he woke up at night for a feed. It meant I could do a sleep feed and go back to bed while they boys watched their team eventually go on to win the World Series. Hubbie is convinced that our boy broke the Giants' 30 year losing streak although I draw the line at keeping him awake to repeat the feat again this year.

They don't just watch sport together, they also go to a football activity for toddlers on a Saturday morning and this week I took the little man to an Easter camp where he played football, tennis and basketball. I've mentioned before that he has bundles of energy to burn off and it's lucky that Hubbie loves to do these activities with him as I have zero interest in any sport at all.

Since the early days we have fine tuned the Saturday morning routine and have narrowed it down to the trinity of essentials to keep our boy happy for the afternoon: Snack bag, snowsuit / suncream (delete as seasonally appropriate) and spare clothing. This way he has a snack at half time and is prepared for any weather conditions which considering when the football season falls is pretty important.

andrex puppy toy with Fisher FC t shirt over itAside from the bonding between father and son this regular activity has given my boy an impressive repertoire of football chants which thankfully are still repeatable in front of his grandparents. He has a friend who he plays with during the match and has been known to snaffle a biscuit from the board room during half time. In later years I expect he'll sample the delights of the snack bar and come home holding his belly and groaning. Today he took a new friend to football, a dog that he has named Woof Woof, and impressed his pal Freya who has been going to matches since she was a week old.

It was a conversation with Freya's mum that first made me realise how beneficial this whole Saturday football could be for me. I asked what she did while her husband and daughter went out and she said, "I have a bath, read the paper, go shopping. Anything I like really." The lightbulb lit up over my head and I realised that the faff of getting the boys organised was more than worth it for the sake of having an afternoon all to myself.

My usual Saturday afternoon is spent catching up with friends or having some pampering without having to rush home to feed anyone. Today I was massively productive and managed to go for a run, clean the bathroom and fridge, have a pedicure and baked some cookies. I also indulged in some kitchen porn and added a dishwasher, washing machine, cooker and fridge to my John Lewis online wish list. It's a far off dream, but when there are no distractions from the boys miaowing for biscuits, whining for milky way stars or asking me what's for dinner I am free to meander online and plan my ideal kitchen.

The season was due to finish in about a month, but the weather has been so bad that there are a few postponed games to be played. I have to make the most of my beloved and precious Saturdays until then or hope that something else takes the place of football once the season does finally end.

I have my fingers crossed for baseball and good weather :o)

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

They don't do Hallmark cards for two and a half do they ?

A range of teddy bears My boy turned 2 and a half this week. It wasn't greeted with much fanfare, but he did enjoy a Peppa Pig cake at my parents' house on Good Friday and insisted on having candles to blow out. It has become a tradition when we visit that they get him a cake as he loves birthdays so much. We end up having to google whose birthday it is so that we have someone to celebrate for, but it is quite funny and I will enjoy telling him about it when he's a stroppy teenager.

Talking of which this new age and stage has heralded a surprising range of emotions. The tantrums we've already experienced, but now he can go from a standing start to a full blown tornado of anger or upset. He is also speaking fluently and using a lot more words - well I understand him anyway - so it makes for animated conversations when he isn't blowing up because I won't let him drive the car. Today two things happened that made me realise how much my boy is growing up.

My boy with Daddy reading a book with his beloved elephant and bear toys Firstly, his small chewy flannel toy (Ellie, the elephant) was lost in the supermarket. I searched all the aisles and at one point had most of the staff looking for her too, but to no avail. A mother pushing a trolley round frantically asking, "where's Ellie ?" often causes concern as people have in the past asked me if she is my daughter. I felt sick in my stomach at the thought that we had lost the toy he'd had since he was born and that he slept with as it smelled comforting. Even though she was filthy and smelly she was also clearly loved by someone very much, so I hoped that she'd get handed in. A while back I bought some spare Ellies as a contingency for this event, so he has once met a replacement when the original was in the wash. Today as I got more and more distressed I told him that Ellie was lost and I was very sorry, he looked at me and said, simply, "new Ellie at home."

Later after lunch I let him have a mini roll as a treat. He hasn't had them before so I wasn't sure if he'd like it, but he seemed to as it was gone pretty sharpish. As I went to take him up for his medicine and nap he asked if he could have some chocolate. I reminded him he'd just had a chocolate covered cake. He went quiet. I said, " you just had one - remember ?" and he looked away from me and said, "No." I laughed and he gave me a very serious look and said, "No" again.

So today I have learned that my boy is mature enough to deal with loss (more than his mother) and that he will lie for chocolate.

I could not be more proud :o)

Monday, 1 April 2013

April Fooled out of my holiday

So remember how I had all those lovely plans for today ?

How I was going to do lots of things just for me ?

Well it went slightly differently from how I'd planned.

Dr Ranj on his CBeebies show Get Well Soon
My boy woke up with gummy eyes, a puffy face and his rash hasn't gone away. So instead of the boys going to football we all went to the walk-in centre and from there onto children's A&E. It almost became the highlight of mine and the boy's day when Hubbie told us that Dr Ranj works there, but the nurse said he was off today. He was kind enough to tweet back a sad face when I said my son had missed seeing him and Nurse Suzanne and Dr Tim looked after us brilliantly. Thankfully the boy is ok, if a little whiney, and we have eye drops, banana medicine and he's off nursery tomorrow. I can't teach yoga in the morning, but I do get to spend some extra time with my boy. Of course wrestling the drops into his eyes 4 times a day won't be so easy with Hubbie back at work, but it's good exercise for me.

Toddler kicking a yellow football indoors
If my attitude towards this enforced family time sounds less than charitable bear this in mind. I plan my entire week around their activities. I do my radio show and teach yoga on days when the boy is at nursery. Every day I go to pick up Hubbie from the station so he can be home to "do bedtime" with his son. On a Saturday I no longer go to Zumba, but am "Mum Cabs" so that Hubbie can do his radio show between kiddie football and grown up football. When they are watching football in the afternoon I finally have a few hours to myself. Either I do my house chores in peace or I meet a friend for a late lunch. This week the boys did not go to football so I didn't get my few hours of peace. It doesn't sound much, but I look forward to that bit of time and it's my little oasis in the week.

Easter chocolate and treats with a rabbit shaped bag I plan enough nice things for all of us to do together. We did our first family Easter egg hunt on Sunday morning and my son was delighted with his haul of goodies. Last week mother-in-law came to see us and we spent a lovely afternoon entertaining her. We took the boy to see my family and he kept them all amused too. The whole week was devoted to keeping everyone else happy.

Then at the end of it all his poor little body could take no more and he got ill. So this week is all about making him well. It's about rest and relaxation and play and fun.

Or as Dr Ranj sings, "Be Happy, Be Healthy, Get Well Soon."