Sunday, 31 March 2013

Week 82- dog poo, chocolate eggs and keeping your mouth shut

Having a child involves a constant process of self editing from the moment they seem to understand what you’re saying.

Which is often long before you realise they know what’s going on.
You’re lured into a false sense of security, thinking that you can continue to talk frankly in front of them, and then suddenly they start parroting you, or asking for something you didn’t realise they knew the word for.

I was a bit perturbed when pushing Nancy in her pram round to the childminders the other day.
One of the wheels went over a dog turd, and without thinking, I  muttered, ‘shit’, only to be met with a little voice singing back, ‘shit, shit, shit,’ at me for the rest of the 10-minute journey.
I think I just about got away with it, talking about her ‘seat’ a lot, but still. No swearing now. Even if it is under my breath.
But Nancy is now picking up words when she’s not with us. Or remembering things we’ve mentioned once and possibly forgotten about.

She was looking at a picture of a rabbit the other day, and said ‘banana’, to which I corrected her, only for her to insist, ‘no, banana’, and then I looked again, and she was right. The rabbit was carrying a banana.
As she pushed her bowl away half way through her breakfast the other morning, Ben asked, ‘finished?’

‘Finished,’ she replied.
‘All done?’ he asked.

‘All done,’ Nancy answered.
And as Ben faltered, Nancy said, ‘bye bye porridge,’ in case there was any doubt as to whether she wanted any more.

So, when we took Nancy to a friend’s Easter egg hunt the other morning, we were aware that she hasn’t really had much opportunity to eat chocolate.

And given that she sucks her mouth in when you try and brush her teeth so you end up brushing her lips, we’d prefer it to stay that way for the time being.
The hunt began and she trundled off with the sea of other screaming, excited children, clutching a little plastic bowl to fill with any sparkly objects she found.

‘Chicken!’ she joyfully shouted when finding a hen shaped chocolate.


And they all went into the bowl.

As we regrouped with the other parents, all the other children were eating their findings, so we unwrapped a little egg.
Nancy’s eyes nearly popped out of her head as she gnawed at it.

You could see her wondering why hadn’t she had anything like this before.
Where had, in a short life of porridge, rice cakes and raisins, we been hiding this brilliant tasting thing.
With it wedged in her cheeks, Nancy urgently smacked the back of her hand, shouting, ‘more, more, more!’

And we realised. She doesn’t know the word for it. She doesn’t know what she’s just eaten.
And we haven’t told her.

Nancy has had a taste of heaven. But has no idea how to ask for it again.

And, until she opens her mouth and let's us brush her teeth, that’s the way it’s going to stay.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Week 81- Gliders, shapers and broken down cars

There are people in your life who are gliders, and those who are shapers.

Both equally important, but with very different roles.

The gliders walk along side you. Keep you company. Offer support when needed, friendship, and generally brighten your life.

The gliders at work are the ones you're relieved are coming to the staff drinks when it looks like everyone's dropping out.

Who lend you something ace to wear to a party when you can't bear to squeeze into the bobbly pre-baby black dress again, which was a bargain from Primark in the first place and never meant to be promoted to a wardrobe staple.

They are the people who add sparkle.

And then there are the shapers.

The shapers do just that.

They shape your life. Give you direction. Become your continuity. Help you develop your belief system. Your sense of right and wrong. Through the way they live their life, they become a guide as to how you want to live yours, and the way you want to bring up your children.

The shapers are the ones who keep you on track. Who tell you when you're being an idiot, or give you the advice that you're unwilling to hear from everyone else.

But shapers are also those people in your life who just get on with it. And through their actions, become someone you'd like to be like yourself.

A recent death of someone I loved very much got me thinking about the shapers, as he, most certainly was a great shaper in my life and a huge influence on the kind of parent I'd like to be to Nancy. Approaching it with love, patience, but mainly a sense of humour, which put things in perspective and stopped you fretting about the small stuff.

When someone you love dies, it's so massively hard to find your angle. To see past the loss. Because ultimately you want to have that person back.

There's a sense of utter injustice. An unfairness that is all-consuming.

Selfishly I want to have all those I love around me. Forever. For Nancy to know them. For them to influence her life as they have mine. For nothing to ever change.

But that's obviously not how it works.

When you lose a shaper in your life, it's like an important piece of an engine has been removed. Nothing feels like it will work properly. You didn't realise how important that piece was, but now the engine's just making a God awful noise.

As we sat at the Wake, it became clear what a huge impact he'd had on so many lives. How he'd been the shaper for so many people.

And I thought maybe that's it. Maybe that's the angle.

A shaper is always with you as they have helped make you who you are in the first place, whether they are physically present in your life or not. Because, short of a lobotomy, they are part of your core.

That doesn't make it easier day-to-day. Or make it seem any more fair.

But it is a huge wake up call to treasure your shapers and enjoy your gliders as they are your engine.

And without them, you're just a Fiat Punto grounded in the lay by waiting for roadside assistance.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Week 80- Shallow Hal, see-through leggings and thinking yourself thin

I’m sat off with Ben, stuffing my face with a similar sized portion to him of chips, beans and fish fingers, and wondering why I’m still nowhere near fitting into my pre-Nancy swim suit.

The leg holes cut off my circulation, and the halterneck is more like a noose.

And then Ben goes out for a 10-mile run to train for his third marathon.  
And I open a bottle of wine, pour a third of the bottle into a glass and watch a double bill of Corrie, with the top button of my jeans undone.

And it dawns on me.
I haven’t actually done any proper exercise since labour.

I think about it. A lot. In fact if contemplating getting thin was a sport, I’d be a triple gold medallist.
I walk to work. Which isn’t very far. And pick up Nancy for a cuddle, which I’d convinced myself was a bit like weight-lifting.

But actually, I don’t do anything. Nothing at all.

A recent picture of me in a sleeveless top revealed that the top of my arms look like mottled, uncooked hocks of ham.  
Which I wish I’d noticed before leaving the house.
But I reckon I must have reverse body dysmorphia. And if that isn't a condition, it should be.
What I see in the mirror won't squeeze into my clothes.
A bit like Shallow Hal.
And then I had a moment of inspiration. Partly fuelled by the second glass of wine, and definitely spurred on by the fact that Michelle Collins was meant to be playing 50-year-old Stella, and she looked better than I’ve ever looked in a vest top, even though she’s meant to be 16 years my senior.

So I started Googling free gym passes. And before the credits had started rolling, I was signed up for a three-day trial at the gym round the corner from my work.
Now. I wasn’t about to fork out on a snazzy gym outfit. But looking back, the Primark leggings which had seen better days, were probably not appropriate sportswear.

Especially with white pants on underneath.
There were mirrors everywhere to highlight the fact that my virtually transparent black leggings were more like 10 denier tights. Those combined with the sports bra which was too small before I had Nancy, meant I really was a sight to behold.

Walking into a gym for the first time is a bit like turning up to a party you’ve been invited to by someone you don’t know all that well, and then getting there and realising that you were only actually invited out of politeness. And that it’s more of an intimate get together than a party. And everyone knows each other really well and aren’t too sure why you’re there. For example.
I lurked around in my see-through leggings, waiting and watching a load of uber fit people stretching, pulling, lunging, and generally looking like they knew what they were doing.

And then took a deep breath, had a word with myself, and stepped onto the treadmill.

The biggest surprise for me was how much I enjoyed it.
Not so much the running, because, let’s be honest, being sandwiched between two sweating, panting, body-builders on treadmills isn’t anyone’s idea of a laugh.

Or the weights, because, turns out lifting Nancy hasn’t done anything for my core strength, and my arms were shaking like a shitting dog after two lifts on the triceps strengthening machine.
But I enjoyed the feeling of doing something for myself. Having half an hour when I didn’t have to think about anyone else. Or make dinner. Or put a wash one. Or go to a meeting.

The women there looked spectacular; I suspect it’s a bit of a show offy gym. Not like the council one I used to go to where you had to breathe through your mouth in the changing rooms as not to sniff the drainy smell.  
But there was one ally there. A Chinese man in his 20’s sat on the rowing machine in his jeans; office shoes and anorak, gently peddling away whilst texting on his phone.

I sat off next to him, we exchanged nods, and I thought, I might have see through leggings on, but at least I’ve bothered to get changed.
So, three days later, and 2 pounds heavier (how can that be? It CAN’T be muscle already...) I have signed up for another free pass at a different gym.

I’m not expecting to fit into the swimsuit overnight, but at least it justifies the extra fish finger or three.  
And digits crossed there will be some woman there wearing a body con dress and heels, jogging on the treadmill, and I can use the machine next to her.
That would be the dream.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Herrrr humm. Soz to ask, but...

Right. Firstly, a massive thank you to EVERYONE who nominated me in the Best Blog Writer category in the MAD blog awards. You have no idea how made up I am. 

And now I'm a finalist. 


And there's some cracking blogs that have been shortlisted in this category too, so feeling a bit chuffed with myself.

I'm a finalist in the MAD Blog of the Year as well, so, again, thanks times a million.

So now I have one more favour to ask. 

The Best Blog Writer award goes to the blog with the most votes now. So, please could you vote for me if you've been enjoying reading my blog. 

The link is: And ask your mates to, as well. The deadline for votes is 23 March, so quite soon.

I made it through to the finals last year, which was ace, but it would be monumental to win this year. 

Sorry about the random picture of the toast. 

And also for the slightly desperate tone of this post. I meant to be all, 'if you get a moment', and, 'it's no biggy so don't worry if you don't get round to it.'

Instead, this is a bit, 'pleeeeeeeeeeease', in a straining my hand in the air like I'm going to poo my pants kind of way. 

So here's a picture of a pink typewriter saying thank you, to say thank you. 

Thank you.


Sunday, 10 March 2013

Week 79- Mother's Day, daffodil tax and watching Revenge

Being a mum and having a mum on Mother’s Day is a confusing situation to be in, in terms of what is acceptable as a giver and a receiver.

I mean, is it acceptable to expect a card, a bunch of flowers and a lunch out yourself, when you’ve only sent a card to your own mum?
A nice card, mind. And with my own sentiment inside, not penned by Hallmark.

And I meant every word.
I think my mum’s brilliant. She did an absolutely smashing job with me and my sister.

It can’t be easy with two strong headed girls, three years apart, especially through the teenage years.
And now she’s got another huge role in our family.


Which she’s equally ace at.
And I wrote as much in her card.

Thing is, birthday’s aren’t as much a big a deal as they used to be. Especially when there is only three days difference between me and Nancy. I used to send out the two month warning via email/ facebook that my birthday was coming.
And then the weekly countdown from about week six, to what would inevitably turn out to be a; get drunk too quick; smoke my body weight in fags; have a mini cheddars tea; not remember who was there anyway; have at least four days of impending sense of doom, style do.

But in light of the fact that that hasn’t happened for the last two birthdays, so much so that I numerically skipped one, and was gutted when Ulrika corrected me on my real age- Mother’s Day seems a legitimate day to take the limelight.
Which is the second conundrum.

At least on your birthday, you can make a fair guess that there might be some room in the pub, or a possible table available at Pizza Express.
But take your eye off the Mother’s Day bookings and you end up in a garden centre for lunch.

And the price of flowers goes up.
I was buying a bunch of daffs in the shop round the corner, I always find myself explaining that it’s to brighten our little flat up, so I don’t look like a total sad sack for always getting flowers for myself, and the price had gone up by 50p.

He said the suppliers up their price round Mother’s Day. WTF?
Talk about putting a tax on love.

So, all that said, maybe a card will do it for Mother’s Day.
A card made by a little person, written by a big person, saying what a brilliant mother/ girlfriend/ friend/ writer/ cook/ conversationalist/ listener you are. For example.

And a lie in. Definitely a lie in.
And someone else to do bedtime for one night.

And a chance to catch up on the last four weeks of Revenge.
So that’s... card. Sleep. Time. And telly.

I’m sure I must have done all that for my mum too.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Week 78- SuBo, sleeping on windpipes and Deal or No Deal marathons

Never wake a sleeping baby.

The exception to this rule has to be, ‘unless they are lying on your throat.’

Nancy’s sleep has gone tits up again.

And I feel that at 18 months, I can’t really whinge about it. She’s not a little baby anymore with us as new parents trying to work out what you do with a mewing, scrunched-up faced little newborn.

She talks. A lot. And can tell me a little bit of what she wants. Like cheese. And hat. And out.
The out being out of her cot at 2am in the morning.

I think I got a bit cocky.
And let’s be honest, no-one likes someone banging on about how they think they’ve got the sleeping thing nailed, especially if you’re a deprived parent yourself.

But she was going down brilliantly. Proper textbook stuff.
Bath. Story. Milk. Sleep.

She was even say 'sleep' herself, which was ace.
I was high fiving Ben as I emerged from her bedroom. Feeling like SuBo after BGT circa 2009.

But then it suddenly went a bit Gareth Gates, to keep with the tenuous reality TV theme.
I think she’s just got too big to go to sleep on me and then be transferred to the cot.

She started finishing her milk, lobbing the bottle like a chav at kicking out time at Ritzy’s, and then trying to climb off me and have a nosy round her room.
Often it’s up to two hours before she knackers herself out enough to go back to sleep.

And then, as if that isn’t bad enough, come 2am ish, she will wake up, stand up in her cot holding the bars, Prisoner Cell Block H style, and start shouting ‘out, out, out!’ and to be honest, I don’t have the will power to try and get her back into her own bed.
So in she comes with us.
To which she says, ‘hot, hot, hot’, which I can only assume is referring to the temperature of having three people in a small double bed, and not my greying/white oversized fat girl T-shirt.

I know the ‘I don’t get enough sleep’ chat is about as exciting as being made to watch back-to-back episodes of Deal or No Deal, but running on empty with a toddler feels almost worse than having broken sleep with a little baby.
Because then all I had to do was stay awake long enough to get the general gist of the Ryan Gosling blockbuster I was watching at mother and baby film club.

Now I have to enter the real world again and try and keep focused all day.
I'm not sure anyone mentioned all this in the baby books.

That you might end the day with another person sleeping on your windpipe.