Monday, 30 December 2013

A few Christmas Happenings..

There's something about being the proud possessor of a toddler that brings the innocent naivety back to Christmas. I had forgotten just how exciting putting up a plastic Christmas tree can be, but not how many of its fake needles it drops all over the floor. "Look Mummy. bells! Look! Look!"
I also enjoyed his struggle to pronounce the word "baubles" and his insistence on putting the star on the top of the tree, which nearly went so horribly wrong, but thankfully didn't.
I loved his mounting excitement as presents slowly appeared under the tree and his mounting frustration that he couldn't open them all just yet.

We had to get through his birthday first. I think as he gets older he's going to resent having a birthday in December, but it does help keep Christmas at bay for just a little bit. I made him a 3D stegosaurus out of sponge cake and Renshaw fondant icing (if you're reading then I really love your brand and perhaps you could send me some? I'm getting quite a bit of passing traffic on this blog now....)
He he, sorry.
Anyway, though I say it myself, I think it was quite a good cake and by the look on Josephs face when they brought it out after the restaurant meal, all candles blazing, he thought so too. I had a lot of fun making it, and the face did owe a debt to Wallace and Gromit, I have to admit. Definitely something about the eyes....

We have a cardboard plate for Santa. I picked it up cheap one year and now it seems to have stuck. It has a circle for a mince pie, a long triangle for a carrot and a small circle for a glass of sherry. I have to admit, I wasn't going to bother with sherry this year. I quite like it, but as I'm host to an ever expanding passenger at the moment I can't drink it. My other half is the only one about who likes it (even when he's not pretending to be Santa) and he was quite well supplied with some scotch and ginger wine so I thought he didn't mind. Turns out, you can't have a proper Christmas eve ritual without sherry, so we ended up with some anyway. He's happy as he's got a bottle of sweet sherry, which he prefers and I can't stand anyway. I like the dry stuff.
I feel a little bereft, having to have a totally "dry" Christmas. Ok, I'm not the biggest drinker at the best of times, but I do like the odd glass of wine and at this time of year I like to indulge in a little bit of port and lemon of an evening. Sadly all I can do is ask for a sniff of someone elses drink and I did allow myself one very small mouthful of wine after I had gorged a plenty on the big day itself, and I felt a little guilty about that. Joseph just downed pineapple crush like there was no tomorrow and was off playing with his new Thomas the Tank Engine before pudding was even served.

Ah, pudding, my one true shame of the season. Hand made stuffing in the bird (paxo is a dirty word in my house), proper gravy (bisto is an even dirtier word), proper roast veg (who's this Aunt Bessie person and why is she so popular???), all the green veg steamed and then doused in cream, cheese and breadcrumbs (it's the only way to make sprouts not taste of nasty) and honey glazed carrots. Not a single packet made item, and not a single healthy thing either! Did I mention there were two types of stuffing?
We even had home made custard for the pudding.... but the pudding was (sob).... bought.
Yes, while I should have been making a pud and leaving it to mature, I was too busy being ill so I just didn't get round to it. I did make a cake, but not a pudding. I'm so ashamed. It was quite a nice pudding though, and two minutes in the microwave after all that had slogging for the main course is something of a relief.

By the way... are you allowed to eat royal icing when you're pregnant? The bought roll out fondant stuff is ok, but home made royal icing is icing sugar and raw egg white. Given that the white is the more dangerous part of the egg, I'm not sure, but I can't help thinking that all that sugar would kill off most stuff.

Funniest memory of the season? The sight of my poor husband being made to be a donkey by my niece and son. Joseph likes the idea, it seems to have stuck.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

The Curious Incident of the Vomit in the Night Time

Now I mentioned in my last post that I was unfortunate enough to catch a stomach bug not once but twice. The viral vector for all this horror? Joseph of course, but it's anyone's guess where he picked it up from. Small children, viruses, it's just how it goes.
Many children get sick, and many manage to do the worst in the middle of the night and sit and scream until a poor sleep starved parent gets up and begins the process of clearing up the gross horror. I've heard stories of small children who've been sick over night and because they're still not properly awake have gone back to sleep amidst their eruptions, bringing a not so nice surprise to the luckless soul whose turn it is to go and wake them in the morning.

Joseph seems not to like either of those options. His logic seems to work in a different way. He knows he's Not Allowed Out Of Bed, a fact he uses to its utmost annoyance and does make me worry if we'll ever get him nappy free over night. He knows he's not supposed to wake us up, which is nice too, but he seems to lack the higher level of reasoning that concludes that perhaps Mummy would prefer to know about things like vomit as soon as they happen rather than several hours later.
He also didn't fancy sleeping in a gross puddle. So what does he do? He turns the splattered pillow over and calmly goes to sleep on the other side. He can't have made much noise at all doing any of this, my husband is a very light sleeper.
I went in to his room that morning and thought to myself - "That's an odd smell. What's that stuck to his bed sheet?" and this lead me to the not so nice surprise lurking under the pillow. I have spoken to a number of parents with little ones and not one of them have had their child do this. Perhaps his logic was more like that of the blokey sort of bloke who turns his pants the other way out to get an extra day of wear and to put off doing the washing.
He got over the bug in record time and by the afternoon was his usual bouncy self. I kept him on dry crackers for most of the day to be on the safe side after making the classic mistake of giving him some Shreddies and a glass of Nesquik for breakfast. Not a nice combination to have to mop up off the floor, believe me.

I, however, did not throw off said bugs so easily and had to spend several days in bed with nothing but glasses of water and dry crackers, feeling utterly miserable. Shortly after that I caught the flu and I still have a cough.

Friday, 27 December 2013

Things that go BUMP!

I realise that I have had a significant absence from this blog, but as per usual more people seem to be reading it when I'm not adding posts than when I am so go figure.
It's probably best I explain myself. I have not been lazy, I am pregnant! Woo-hoo!
It started off all right, but just like last time I developed some rather unpleasant hormone induced cluster headaches. Managing a toddler when you're struggling to focus is quite hard, and writing any sort of blog post when you can't concentrate on small print is impossible. Anyway, I got to 12 weeks, had a nice healthy scan picture and thought, oh so naively, that I was on the mend. That's what happened last time anyway.
Not this time. As the headaches waned away, my usually reliable stomach decided that it was feeling rather left out of the whole business and decided to chime in on a depressingly regular basis. What really puzzled me was that I was perfectly capable of keeping down an unhealthy lunch of crackers slathered in butter, but not a nice healthy dinner of chicken and vegetables. All these slightly hippy-type women who blather on about your body "knowing what to do" clearly haven't met people like me. I simply point out that last time, when it came to labour, my body didn't know what to do and this time it seems to have even less of a clue. I keep craving soft boiled eggs, something I'm not supposed to eat. I don't want hard boiled, just soft - or fried. I'm guessing it's something to do with the protein content, but why my system should only be interested in runny yolks is beyond me.
At last the sickness decided to bow out at about 20 weeks and I could stop being told by people that I must be having a girl because the scan was pretty clear. It's a boy, and how sick you are has little to do with it.
One again, in the heights of naivety I decided I must be feeling better and started to enjoy life again only to be hit by two stomach bugs in a row. A few weeks later, when asked, I confidently responded that I was definitely on the mend only to go down with the flu the next day. Now, I even suffered having to have a flu jab which left me with a sore arm and a swollen armpit gland for a whole week. I was not amused to find myself ill with one of the strains it somehow doesn't cover.
Baby seems fine though, but the constant sickness seems to be segwaying neatly into constant indigestion and regular reflux is probably right round the corner.
Still, I've learned my lesson. Don't ask me how I'm feeling, it seems to be something of a loaded question.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013


Ok, I'm getting confused now. How is it that my little boy is bright enough to work out that he can open the big door on the cupboard in his bedroom, push one of his little chairs up to it and reach up and get out his pot of crayons with no help whatsoever. It's lucky I went back into his room when I did as he was just getting bored of drawing on paper and was looking for other surfaces to unleash his creative side upon.
So, as I began to mention earlier, if he's bright enough to do that, they why can't he work out how to pull his own pants down to go to the potty? It's not as if it's particularly difficult, I bought one size up on purpose so they'd be a bit loose and easy to get up and down. He wont even properly try. I told him this morning that he'd get a sweetie if he pulled his own pants down and pulled them back. He tugged a couple of times, couldn't do it and gave up. I told him - no sweetie - and he didn't seem to care, until afterwards and he got a bit upset.
We've changed the rules, you see. He doesn't get a sweetie or any treat like it until the end of the day and he has to have been dry all day, no accidents, no weeing in the nappy (nap times don't count yet). Monday and Tuesday went well, today he has failed.
We popped out for a bit - you can't do much in the way of out and about when you're potty training, but you can't be hermits either. We went out, he had a bit of a play and we stopped in a cafe. I gave him the option of using the cafe toilet and then staying to play longer or going straight home. He wouldn't use the toilet so we came home. We were out for less than an hour, but he'd wet the nappy.
He doesn't seem to get it yet. I told him I was disappointed, but it didn't sink in. Not long after we got home, he used the potty.
It doesn't help he's not been well this week. We were making some good progress when he went down with a head cold that almost sent him right back to square one. He's getting over it now, but he still has a runny nose that nothing short of a couple of corks can abate.
Yesterday he dribbled on the sofa. The blocked nose has made him dribbly. I sighed and said that I'd need to get a tissue. Joseph beat me to it, got the tissue and then wiped up his dribble. He then marched into the kitchen and threw the tissue away. We sat there in stunned silence, although I did tell him he was a very good boy and well done just as soon as I'd got over the shock. So if he's bright enough to do that, why is potty training so hard?

"Joseph made a mess."
Oh, I hear that a lot. I tell him not to, sometimes he listens and sometimes he doesn't. This morning he didn't listen. I got him mostly dressed (pants, no trousers as I live in hope he might get the idea of taking himself to the potty) and told him to stay in his room while I got dressed. It's the same routine we have every morning and I creep downstairs quietly enough I can get a little quiet time before he twigs that Mummy isn't quite that slow at putting her clothes on.
When I'd had my little sit down, I got the vacuum cleaner out and got ready to clean the floors upstairs. I have never found vacuum cleaner that isn't evil. They all harbour hatred inside their fluff filled innards and it's all directed at me. We have a Dyson and it's tried to kill me more than once, usually by toppling over, but it's standard trick is to fall to bits while I'm trying to manoeuvre it up and down the stairs. Just why are the only handles on the bits that come off?
I've taken to using a Miele now, which is much less evil than the Dyson, but still seems to actively resent the job it's been designed to do. It's always catching on doorways and items of furniture, pulling me up short and then dramatically freeing itself and cracking me in the achillies tendon. Ouch. At least it has a cord retract, which the Dyson doesn't (seriously, it's the 21st century, and you can't put a cord retract on your machines Mr Dyson???) but even that has it's perils. When using one of my Mums vacuum cleaners some time ago, I pressed the cord retract button with my foot, only to discover that it was a bit more powerful than expected and right at the end the plug swung round and hit me on the foot, leaving me bleeding and bruised. They're evil, I tell you, all evil.
I digress. Joseph had made a mess. He always made a mess. Having vacuumed the hallway and the bathroom I moved on to his room and the noise had persuaded him to play downstairs. I tidied up, finished the cleaning and was about to move on to our bedroom when he came back in.
"Where are all the things?" he asked. He seemed genuinely confused.
Tidied up. I doubt they'll stay that way for long.

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Don't Want To

The players - Mum - patient but worn out.
                      Joseph - constant and whinging.

Joseph, it's time to get up from your nap.
Don't want to.
Ok, do you want to stay in bed a bit longer?
Don't want to.
Would you like a snack?
Don't want it.
Would you like a drink?
Don't want it. Want milk.
Here's some milk.
Don't want it! Want squash.
Here's some squash.
Don't want it. Want a biscuit.
No, we've not got any biscuits. Don't throw your bottle of juice away.
Don't want it. Where's my drink?
Let's go out.
Don't want to.
We're going to buy you some new shoes and some big boy pants as your potty training is going so well.
Don't want to.
Which shoes do you like? Let's try some on.
Don't want to.
You can choose which pack of pants you'd like.
Don't want to.
How about the ones with little cars on?
Don't want them.
Stand still in the till queue please Joseph.
Don't want to. Want toys.
Get in your car seat.
Don't want to.
It's time to get out of the car.
Don't want to.
We're going to get some nice lunch.
Don't want to.
Do you need the potty?
No. Don't want it. Want to sit in buggy.
Let's get the buggy ready then.
Don't want it.
Lunch time! Look, you've got rice and meatballs.
Don't want it.
Eat the meatballs as well as the rice please Joseph.
Don't want to.
If you eat some of the meat you can have a chip.
Don't.... ooo chips!
Don't want to.
But it's chocolate brownies and ice-cream!
Don't..... ooo ice cream.

And they call them the "terrible twos". He's more like a teenager at the moment.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Help in Inverted Commas

So just how do you tell a child, at the tender age of two and three quarters, that you actually, honestly do not want them to help. You appreciate the thought and you're touched by the kindness, but you jolly well know that letting them 'help' is going to lead to nothing but trouble.
You don't because you can't. Even if you were foolish enough to try deny them the opportunity, they'll either pretend to not understand or you end up with a tantrum that can be measured on the richter scale. After all, they're trying to be really good.
Joseph wanted to help at the supermarket. I wasn't so sure, in as much as it's getting quite a faff to wrangle his long legs into the metal framework of the trolley seat and then extract them again afterwards, it still seems less bother than letting him run around loose. I have let him help when I've gone in to buy a couple of things and he'll help carry the basket, but never a full weeks shop.
I relented. After all, he's going to get too big for the trolley seat before too long and then I'll have no choice, unless I'm prepared for the eventuality of having to call the fire brigade to come and cut him out of the trolley as I've managed to get him well and truly wedged.
In no uncertain terms was he told - be good, do as you are told or you're sitting in the trolley. Don't push it, mister.
He pushed it. Also he pushed the trolley and that didn't help either. He did help me pick a good head of broccoli and some potatoes which he quickly realised were too heavy for him. The crunch came when he kept wanting to stand at the front of the trolley and was consistently in the way. He didn't want to stand next to me, no he just wanted to try and get run over all the time. Into the trolley seat with him and it's a difficult enough job even when he wants to be there. Phew!

This evening Andy came home on his bicycle and decided that as we still had a bit of sunshine left he'd give the thing a clean and a little bit of maintenance after dinner. Joseph wanted to help. Now, it was a useful bribe as he kept being told he wouldn't be allowed near the bike unless he ate all of it, and I think it worked, even if he was still a bit on the slow side.
In a matter of minutes he was covered in oil, grease and muc-off, which might work on the bicycle but not on toddlers. When I went out to see what was going on, he was playing quite happily. The bike was upturned for ease of cleaning and Joseph was spinning the front wheel round and round and round and his hands were the same colour as a busy chimney sweeps.
Baby bubble bath doesn't work oil. I had a lot of scrubbing to do, which is hard to do on a toddler who isn't totally convinced he wants to be in the bath and would rather still be getting mucky. I was very close to having to break out the swarfega on him.

In other news, potty training is still going well, he is asking for help regularly and I gave him a lollipop for coming home from the supermarket with a dry nappy.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Advanced Training

Warning- the following entry contains graphic information about potty training and multiple urine references. So if you can't handle the word "wee" being mentioned repeatedly then don't read on.

Potty training. I mentioned the start of it all in my previous entry. The ups, the downs, the thrills and the literal spills.
We've got tired of our little chap running around with his little chap on show so I have been persevering this week with getting him used to having trousers on but no nappy. So follow him round saying "remember you have no nappy on and if you need a wee, use the potty" ad infinitum ad nauseam. I was wondering if I should get a dictaphone and record the message and set it to play on a five minute loop. Inevitably I ask him if he needs the potty and he says "no". I don't always believe him so I have to look for body language as much as listening to what he says. Sometimes he remembers to ask, sometimes I have to keep an eye out for the small damp patch that occurs on his trousers when he decides he needs a wee and then forgets for a moment he has no nappy on. If you spot it quickly, you can get a good result.
This morning we were at church and as it's the summer holidays there was no Sunday school or crèche so someone told a little story for the children who were all getting rather bored and a bit shouty. They all sat down in a little semi-circle at the front and Joseph wanted to join in but was too shy. Then he noticed that there were props and one of them was a hammer, so he overcame his shyness and went for a look.
He didn't really want to sit down, but at least he was showing an interest. I couldn't see him clearly at this point as someones head was in the way, so I only have eye witness testimony to go on.
He started to do some quite obvious body language indicating that a potty might be of use very soon. As I said, I couldn't quite see but he was apparently - oh how can I put this delicately? - grasping.
Andy took him outside to the gents loos, but he just screamed and wanted to play. I was puzzled, he had a nappy on after all so why all the fuss? We're not yet brave enough to try out and about.
I took over. His nappy was bone dry, so perhaps indeed he was holding it in. So I took him to the ladies which has a little toilet just for kids. The sight of it made him howl, but I was not in the mood to mess. Trousers down, nappy off and park that little keester, meester.
Almost in time. There was some "splashback" shall we say and some endampening of the trousers but most of it went in the toilet and he did stop crying long enough to ask if he could flush.
So, something somewhere is slowly sinking in. We had lunch and Grannies house as his cousin is over to stay and they're less than a year apart in age and seem to get on well.
There was much bouncing and laughing and a lot of playing and Joseph was sans nappy but plus a clean pair of shorts all afternoon. There was a little bit of wee, but mostly in the potty and he even started mentioning that he might just need it, although there was still some guesswork involved.
He's a lot more amenable to having a go when you ask, such as before dinner and before getting him strapped in the car to come home. Perhaps simply having to hold it in means there's pretty much a guarantee there's some to come.
Still, there's a full load of wee soaked trousers and shorts to wash after the last few days so it's still a pretty big mountain to climb, but we're getting there. One day I'll have to risk taking him out and about and I'll be frantically scanning for where the nearest toilet is.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Perils of the Potty

We started potty training a while back so I thought I'd better mention how it was going.
It was a slow start. Joseph was suddenly interested in the toilet and what is done in it so we went out and bought a potty. He sat on it, did a wee and we praised him highly for it.
The following day he decided that he didn't like the potty and wasn't going to sit on it. By the day after, he was terrified of it and the merest mention of the word made him scream. I had to put it up out of the way on the top shelf of his bookcase before he'd calm down.
We gave up. Perhaps it was just "too soon". All the advice is to wait until they are ready, although nobody really quantifies what this means in any real sense. One article said to wait until they are big enough to climb up onto a toilet and sit there. So I'm supposed to wait till he's past six then?
Most mention the child showing an interest and having the ability to pull their trousers up and down. Not a common trait in a less than three year old, believe me.

We gave up for a while until I decided that as he was fast approaching two and a half it was worth giving it another bash. He was scared, he did not want to so I resorted to the standard Mum back-up plan.
If you sit on the potty, you can have a sweet.
In less than 48 hours he was quite happy to sit there.
If you do a wee or a poo you can have a sweet.
It took a couple of days, but he started producing things. Thanks to his relatively predictable bowel movements, we started doing quite well. He wore a nappy most of the time and I sat him down at the times of day I knew he was most likely to produce something. I made him up a chart and he liked getting stars on it and he really, really liked the sweets. Haribo seems to be the way to go.

Such was the status quo for the best part of two months. However, no amount of begging, cajoling, bribery or threats would make him ask to go when it wasn't the set time. I don't know why, he just didn't seem to get the point. Have I mentioned that he's quite lazy?
So, I started taking his nappies away. He didn't like that much and it didn't work at all when I put him in trousers, I think he thought that he was still wearing a nappy.
So, for two weeks we have had a little bare bottom running around at home, which certainly gave the gas man pause for thought when he came to read the meter. At least it's warm.
With not a stitch on his lower half we have only had the one proper accident and he's been fine ever since. I've stopped giving him sweets for small liquid offerings as I think he thought that little and often was the way to squeeze the most out of the process, if you'll forgive the turn of phrase. His chart is choc-a-block with stars.

The problem is that sometimes I like to go out and that means nappies. I'm sure he finds this a little confusing as every time I put him in a nappy it's as if he's been saving up all the wee and it is full to soggy bursting in less than two hours when they used to last four to six.
Today I decided that he needed to learn. No more pink bottoms on display and no more excuses about not being able to manage trousers.
Me - Show me you can pull your trousers down.
Joseph - No. I can't.
Me - Yes you can, just try.
Joseph - Don't want to.
Me - Ok, but you're not watching any more Shaun the Sheep until you can do it.
So he does it. He's a bit slow at first, but soon manages to do what is needed with a pair of jogging bottoms with loose elastic.
Bribery. Works every time.
He had two accidents today, both more to do with him being a bit slow and lazy about it than anything else. I told him that I expected better and he'd only get a reward if it all went in the potty and not half down the sofa, which is at least leather and quite easy to clean.
It sank in. He's used the potty four times today, and has actually asked me for help, although he has been able pull his own trousers down and back up again after. I am expecting a long and slow process, but we do seem to be heading in the right direction at last - or bottoming, which is a bit more accurate.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

I'm Back

Been a while. A long while, but I have been busy what with moving house and all that entails, so here's an update.
We moved and it was a big stressful thing as the removal men brought too small a van for all our heaps and heaps of stuff so Andy had to borrow a sprinter van from his work and nearly put his back out loading it. The people we bought the house from decided to stop cleaning the moment we put in the offer and ripped out all of the curtain rails. That's just weird if you ask me.
We fitted a new kitchen. I say "we" but Andy and Joseph did most of the work (ok ALL) and Joseph is a dab hand with a screwdriver at two and a half.
Joseph has his own room with a space theme and I painted it. The flying saucer looks particularly good.
He's out of his cot now, in a big boy bed. We took him camping with kids airbed to see how he'd get on and he did very well and did not try and escape in the night so now he has a proper little bed of his own and has not once tried to get out of it in the night, even when we wish he would. Last night I was awoken at 3.30 am by a small boy SCREAMING for me. I thought he'd hurt himself but he just wanted a toy car. I fumbled about on the floor for something in the dark and passed him what turned out to be a shoe, but he didn't mind, he just cuddled it, rolled over and went back to sleep. I wish I'd been able to do the same, but sadly not. It's getting to be a bit too regular a thing for my liking.
We're potty training now. He's doing well, I think, but it's slow. He's perfectly continent as long as he doesn't have a stitch on his bottom half, which leads to some embarrassment for all if someone knocks on the door, like the man who came to read the meter yesterday. If I put him in pants or trousers he just looks puzzled and then forgets he's not got a nappy on and has an accident. It's a good job it's nice and warm at the moment.

We went to the dentist today. Joseph is a shy sort of boy and although I had spent a long time explaining to him what was going to happen he took one look at the dentist and cried, just like last time. I tried for several minutes to extract the face of my terrified toddler from my arm pit, but he was having none of it. In the end we gave up and sat him on a chair so I could have my turn in the big chair and all the tartar chiselled off. Joseph decided to start crying with his mouth open at this moment and the dentist managed enough of a look to confirm that Joseph does indeed have all his teeth. Apparently that's all they need to do for children of Joseph's age and it left me wondering why I put him through the stress of it when I already knew he had all his teeth. I gave him my handbag to play with and that cheered him up. After an unpleasant but mercifully brief appointment for me, we were set free and walked home, stopping off at a cafe for a nice drink and a pack of those wafery things that are supposed to be to go with coffee, but Joseph really likes them.