Wednesday, 31 December 2014

A Never Ending Cycle

It drags on. We thought he was getting better but he's not. We saw the doctor, we treated with calpol AND calprofen and he got better, or so it seemed. His temperature dropped and he kept his food down so after nearly two days we decided to lower the medications.
Taking too much ibuprofen over too long a period is quite bad for you so we decided to drop the calprofen and see how he went.
It went wrong. We thought he was well so we went out for a bit, we thought we'd see the Christmas decorations at Basildon Park before they were packed up for the season. The problem was that the volunteers had packed up too, if not for the season at least for the day, so the house was shut. I can only assume that this was some sort of last minute problem as the website was seemed quite sure it was still open. It was bitterly cold, too cold for exploring the grounds and I wanted a cream tea. After a longish and slightly convoluted phone call we discovered that The Vyne was mostly open - including the café - so we headed there instead. They had cream teas and quite a few pretty Christmas trees so the disappointment that stung worse than the cold weather was mollified.
We made a mistake though. We left the calpol at home. It seemed not to matter, Daniel seemed well, he had eaten his breakfast and lunch without barfing up. Neither had been a big meal, but he was recovering.
After we got home Andy wondered if Daniel felt a little warm. I thought that as he'd been bundled up in a big coat he'd probably be a bit warm so I didn't worry. I kept not worrying until all of his dinner came flying back up at me like an orange tsunami.
Great. And he was quite warm, warm enough to be feverish. We gave him some calprofen and a bath and then a breastfeed. He was quite grumpy.
In the end Andy took him upstairs to bed and he has settled off for an early night quite quickly. He'd been crying and crying at me, squirming and wriggling and getting quite cross. If I only had a baby translator then it would have stated: -
Mother I am feeling a trifle out of sorts. I don't want anything else to eat or drink but I am quite tired so would you mind dreadfully shoving off and letting me sleep?

Tuesday, 30 December 2014


Daniel saw the doctor yesterday. We'd got to the point of desperation, his temperature was at 38°c and calpol seemed to be having no effect - a rare failure for the magic pink - and the effluvia of sick had become a grim constant. He was ashen faced, had grey circles under his eyes like big smudges of soot and had become quite lethargic.
The appointment was twenty past twelve and of course at about eleven Daniel decides that he will have a bit of a breast feed after all and actually he's feeling quite hungry so a good long feed.... which he kept down so by the time we got to the doctors he'd perked up and wasn't looking anything like so ill. Typical.
The doctor did take a good long look at my snot encrusted and slightly nasty smelling pink happy baby and decided that - gross alert - the vomiting was being caused by him swallowing mucus rather than letting it stream out the usual way. He also had a viral chest infection called broncholitis or bronchiolitis or broncho-something thing anyway. It's another childhood illness that we should be immune to by the time we're two. Joseph probably had it at some point too, but he never seemed to ever get properly ill.

Auto-correct is having a field day today. Bronx geometry is what it replaced broncho-something the first time. It then tried 'so etching'. It also tried 'author correct'. Yeah....

Daniel has a cough like a 40 a day smoker at the moment. It's horrible, it wakes him up in the night - and me for that matter. Few things are sadder sounding than a little baby hacking away. His face turns red and his little tongue pokes out and his eyes water. There are no medicines I can give that can help the cough although calpol and calprofen given alternately seem to have brought his temperature down at last.
I hope he sleeps tonight. I took the morning off today, just relaxing in bed with Netflix and cups of tea. Still had to feed Daniel a lot but he did sleep for a while and he spent some time with Andy so I almost got some sleep too. I'm still coughing away myself and the congestion in my ears is set like concrete. I'm sick of hearing everything like I'm underwater or like one fateful morning when I took my earplugs out and thought I'd gone deaf in one ear as half of the foam plug had remained behind. Thank goodness for needle nosed pliers!
I can't hear very clearly and if there's background noise I can't hear at all. I had a fright one night when I went to sleep on my right hand side leaving my worst affected ear upwards. I woke up and could not hear Daniel breathing so cue the panic. Daniel even when he's well is something of a noisy breather. As he's ill the noise has got quite striking. I thought it was something akin to someone trying to finish the last of a thick milkshake through too thin a straw. Andy thinks it's more like someone trying repeatedly to start a petrol motor chainsaw.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

That's So Sick.

Whoever it was who went on about the innocence of babes clearly didn't have experience of what comes flowing out of them with depressing regularity.
Daniel is teething. Not a boy to do things by halves he is having two bottom teeth and four top teeth coming through all at the same time - at Christmas. Lovely.
Ah Joseph, my somewhat neglected older child whose delightful innocence and naivety reawakened my joy of Christmas from its coma of cynicism and who breezed through teething like it wasn't happening. He had a day or so of being a little out of sorts and lo and behold - two teeth! After that they popped up regularly and sometimes I'd look in his mouth and notice more had appeared as if by magic! No teething gel needed in our house!
Daniels started a week ago and he's still not done. The bottom tooth pierced the gum but is still no more than a few millimetres of stub and one of the top teeth has broken through too - but again, still pretty stubby.
He's always been quite an emotional chap. Where Joseph was happy to be put down or cuddled or left to bounce in his chair while I got on with stuff, Daniel is not and has never been so. Daniel has left me with whole days one after the other where I've accomplished literally nothing because whenever I've put him down he's screamed like he's being tortured. It all came down to whether I felt more guilty about the screaming or the neglected household chores.
Add the misery of teething to a baby already permanently on the edge then you might begin to realise how things have been for us.
Did I mention we've also been quite ill? Ever since Joseph started Pre school we've been inundated with colds and bugs and nasties. I'm suffering with what I believe to be my fifth cold in a row, but I'm not sure, they've rather run together so it's hard to tell. There may have been more.
Daniel is snotty too, the poor chap hasn't escaped the germ onslaught. He's tired as he's not been sleeping well, he's got a perma cold and lots of teeth on the way and the poor little mite is so overwhelmed  by it all he keeps being sick.
There seems no rhyme or reason to it, sometimes it's breakfast, sometimes lunch. Sometimes he'll keep his dinner down and sometimes not. Often his bottle of milk will want to revisit. Today I wondered if he might be weaning himself off me as he didn't seem to want to feed, so I gave him a bottle instead. As it turned out he was refusing to feed as he knew his tummy was upset and the bottle contents landed on the floor and all down my leg. Daniel escaped the flow, with the exception of his feet. This lead to an emergency rinse of his sock-ons as the other pair were still in a plastic bag having suffered a similar fate the previous day.
I have spent quite some time cleaning sick out of a v-tech crawl and learn ball with the aid of a cocktail stick. My rug has stains on it that probably won't shift and I had been hoping to avoid doing laundry over Christmas, but here we are. All the calpol and teething gel in the world aren't stopping the flow and every time he coughs or hiccups I get very nervous. Also, baby food looks identical coming back as it does going in. Odd.

Friday, 26 December 2014

All I wanted for Christmas was his his two front teeth

When Joseph teethed we hardly noticed. Well - we did notice, where before there were just pink gums, there were pearly whites and a little boy who quickly learned not to chew his fingers.
Daniel is really not the same baby. Well I obviously he's not the same baby as that would mean some sort of space time anomaly, but as they're closely related I had rather assumed they'd be rather similar. Physically they are, but personality? No, they're not remotely alike.
Joseph was a sanguine baby, Daniel is not. Joseph was happy to play on his play mat while I got on with household jobs. Daniel, even at nine months really isn't keen on being put down. He's clingy, but is also really rather cuddly and Joseph wasn't so much.
Daniel is having a rough ride with his teeth. He's nine months old and still gummy, but the gums got lumps in them a little while ago. Naively I assumed they'd pop through as fast as Joseph's did, but so far no. One of the bottom teeth has broken through, but it is still just a stubborn little stub poking out rather than a proper tooth.
When cuddling him yesterday he tipped his head back and I noticed clear lines in his upper gums showing his top front teeth are on the way. Poor chap, all four in the way at once, no wonder he's uncomfortable and he's still fighting off the tail end of a cold.
I sound calm. This is because after several nights of wrecked sleep Andy made me take a couple of nights on the sofa bed so I could catch up. Daniel behaved well on the first night for him, but not so well on the second.
As for last night? We all slept in the same room for once! Well, when I say slept I mean Daniel slept and Andy slept and I just plain didn't. I lay uncomfortably awake for nearly two hours, managed to doze for about four and then lay awake again. Aware that Daniel was doing well for once I decided it wasn't fair on Andy to be bothered by a sleepless person again I have decamped downstairs. Fringe is on Netflix, the sofa is comfy, the cat is asleep and I have a cuppa. Could be worse!

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

The Christmas Letter

Well it's been a good year in the Card household. After Andy's promotion to CEO we decided we needed a residence befitting his new status. Also we decided that Windsor wasn't quite the location for us, Belgravia is much nicer. We're also wondering if we should take the plunge and buy the holiday cottage in Cornwall, but now we think it might be better to look further afield, perhaps Tuscany.
The new house is just what we wanted. The extra reception rooms make life so much easier and in this house the pool is heated, much more pleasant! However we do miss the jacuzzi section in the pool in the old house so we'll probably have to get one fitted.
Of course we'll have to take on another maid, I'll be talking to the agency after Christmas as it's so hard to get anything done this time of year! It might be nearly Christmas, but some of us do have important things to do. I must have a word with them, the last pool cleaner was no good at all.
The boys now have a playroom each now so no more fights over who gets to play with the big train set as there's room for two now. At four years old Joseph is doing well at school, he's been bumped up again as he's really getting on so much faster than the children his own age. He's just finished reading Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol and I really must have a word with the teacher as it's far too simple a book for him. We've started on some basic calculus at home as the maths class is going to slowly for him. I'll probably have to make another 'donation' to the school to make sure he's being given what he needs, but that is the advantage of a good private school!
Daniel is now nine months old and is talking, only simple sentences right now but he does say some sweet things. He's walking confidently and his nanny tells me he's getting on well with potty training too.
We'll be spending the festive season in Lapland this year, we've found that the alpine resorts we used to go to have just got too touristy now. Nothing spoils a good holiday like crowds of the hoi-polloi.
Of course due to the extra demands on Andy's time we've not had as many holidays this year as we'd like but we did manage to fit in two weeks in Florence and a trip up the River Nile. It wasn't quite as good as I'd hoped, the great pyramid at Giza isn't as big as I was expecting.
The butler has just informed me that the Fortnum and Mason order has arrived and they've sent the wrong kind of pâté so I'll have to talk to someone about that, someone will surely lose their job as I can't abide it when the little people screw up, they should know their place.
Oh, some good news now, the builders have arrived to build the new helipad on the roof. That'll make shopping trips so much simpler!
All the best, hope you all have a good year, but not as good as mine of course.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

In The Nightmare Garden

Words cannot express just how much I hate..

The tombiliboos - or however the heck you spell it. I hate them, I truly and deeply hate them and the silly little blobs on their heads. I hate their silly trousers that always fall down - just buy belts you silly little blob people!
I hate In The Night Garden. It's just about the worst program on CBeebies at the moment. It's so teeth gratingly awful I don't know why anyone watches it ever, except that Joseph has started to.
It's my fault. I taught him how to select the programs he wanted from CBeebies iPlayer as I was usually too busy with feeding Daniel to get up. At first all this meant was lots and lots of Octonauts, which was bearable if a little repetitive at times. I know a lot about fiddler crabs now.
The issue was that he soon worked out how to do more than choose the next program in the series, he could see other things he liked the look of....

Oh my son. You used to have such good taste in telly. If it wasn't Aardman, he just wasn't interested. He loved Timmy Time and Shaun the Sheep and as for Wallace and Gromit - well one lunch time he told me "Cracking toast, Mummy!" and wanted to know if we could build a rocket under the house. Alas we have no basement.

I should explain that we do not have "proper" telly in our house. We have, instead, a good quality Internet connection which gives us access to most freeview stuff anyway and we also pay for Netflix which supplies Joseph with enough Disney films to keep him happy as well as Thomas the Tank Engine. We used BBC iPlayer every now and then for something that looked good and bought some DVDs of the stuff he really liked thus ensuring that the BBC did get some money from us in the end.
Now I have to hide the mouse if we watch iPlayer. I can cope with the odd episode of Tree Fu Tom, which is pretty bad and even Nina and the Neurons which is a bit educational but it all went to pot on holiday.
If he was good he got a bit in the morning and the CBeebies bedtime hour at the end of the day. We were subjected to Abney and Teal - I hate this show too but it was only one episode at a time - and the true dire hell that is In The Night Garden. I'm not going to pay a licence fee if they're going to waste it on that bilge water! That's when he saw it for the first time and fell for its heroin like addictiveness.
I feel sorry for Upsy Daisy I have to admit, forced to dance for the evil Iggle Piggle and his creepy blanket. She must dance with him and keep a smile on her poor face..... As for the Macca Pacca, that poor chap needs a therapist for his obsessive behaviour before it gets totally out of hand.
It's the tombliboos I really hate. They are the evil masterminds of the whole creepy place. I hate they way they make poor Derek Jacobi narrate it. What did the poor man do to deserve such a punishment? I imagine him in tears after each reading whimpering "I used to do Shakespeare you know!"
I hate the insidious theme music that sticks in the brain like glue and is harder to remove than a migraine, also leaving you feeling nauseous and emotional. It sits in the back of your brain quietly and creeps on out when you least expect it, when you're doing the shopping for example and you find yourself humming the sanity rotting ditty and it just wont stop! You want to scream and rip your own ears off, but in the middle of Sainsburys you look a bit odd.
I really and truly hate how they make the wretched thing last half an hour.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Ill Again

Joseph hadn't got over the first head cold before falling ill with the second. It's the main down side to education, the sheer number of kids who aren't kept home when they're ill so they share their bugs and nasties about with all and sundry.
I went to pick him up from pre-school yesterday and was confronted by the sight of a red faced and crying little boy, clutching onto his right ear a lot. He had, in the last ten minutes of the session, suddenly changed from his usual happy and cheeky self to a sad little heap. They didn't know why, but thought he was a little ill.
I asked him if he wanted to go straight home or have our usual Tuesday café stop. Not even illness can stop Joseph from wanting to go to a café, so we went. Andy came to meet us, he likes a late lunch hour does my Andy and works only a short walk from the café we like to stop in.
Joseph began to realise how ill he was. His ear was hurting and he didn't feel like his usual babychino with the marshmallows so had a cold drink instead. I presented him with his usual packet of wafers that he likes and he promptly burst into tears again. He did not feel like eating.
Oh dear, if even wafers can't tempt him then he must be really ill. He cried and it got louder and louder leaving poor Andy and I with nothing to do but finish our respected decaf and full-fat coffees as quickly as possible and carry poor Joseph the short walk across the precinct to the doctors surgery. Joseph screaming that his ear hurt the entire time and I was having visions of pussy ear infections, horrible antibiotics and nasty consequences. I kept my fears to myself, no point upsetting the poor little chap any more than necessary.
Good news, there was an appointment available if I didn't mind a short wait. Joseph looked like he needed a rest before attempting the walk home anyway so I said ok and sat down to wait. Joseph alternated between wanting me to cuddle him the whole time and wanting to go and play. I told him he couldn't play as there was a good chance he had something infectious and I didn't want to risk him passing it on.
I've talked to him about germs before, and he seemed to understand the idea when he had a head-cold. "I've got little germs living up my nose, Mummy?"
Yes Joseph, and they're trying to escape in your snot.
He was unconvinced until Daniel decided that he'd been in the buggy quite long enough now thanks and really wanted a cuddle. Joseph decided that my lap was not for sharing and decided he really was too ill to play and wanted me to hold him.
Worried now that all I was in fact doing was wasting the doctors time and annoying everyone sat in the waiting room I got up when called for Joseph's appointment with a degree of trepidation.
Could the doctor look and see if he had a rash?
By all means, but it might be a little hard to tell as he's still covered in red marks from the chickenpox.
He did have a slight rash, on his cheeks and lower neck. Ears look a bit red inside and please open your mouth Joseph so we can take a look....
He didn't want to. He wouldn't be brave or pretend I was cleaning his teeth or anything so had to be gently but firmly made to co-operate by aid of a lolly stick. One red looking throat, but not pussy which is good news.
The bad news? Infection most likely caused by parvovirus B19 aka the Slapped Cheek virus so named as its victims exhibit red cheeks as if they'd been slapped. Josephs cheeks looked like they'd been aggressively exfoliated and then had aftershave put on them. They glowed like hot coals.
He does go pink when he cries, but not this much. Oh well then.
Got given a printed fact sheet and sent home with the message "Give plenty of fluids and keep him off school for a couple of days."
The bad news? People with this are most infectious for 4 to 20 days.... before the symptoms are visible. Once the rash is showing they're not infectious.
Great! So just who has he managed to pass it on to in the last week? Have I had it yet? My Mum's not sure, she thinks so but isn't 100%. You can catch it and not have any symptoms at all or you can be quite ill there's no way to tell. It's a good job all the pregnant women I knew have all had their babies as it can be nasty for them especially if they're pre twenty weeks.

Today he's looking better. There's still a blotchy rash on his cheeks, but it's less and he doesn't look like he's had a rouge accident so he's on the mend, I guess the magic pink calpol is doing it's job. I'll keep him off pre-school tomorrow anyway as per doctors orders but I'm having a hard enough time persuading him to rest today as it is. We've had to compromise a bit, he's staying in his room for now playing with his Chuggington trains with the order to lie in bed if he feels tired or ill. He hasn't yet.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

No sleep for the tired

How does one persuade a baby to sleep when he's not convinced?
He'll take a dummy now, which helps, but on its own is no good. You can put him in his cot, give him his dummy, walk away....
He cries, oh he cries. He's tired, you can tell by all the eye rubbing, but still he cries and he doesn't stop.
I cuddle him, he calms down so I put him back.
He keeps crying.
I give him a feed, that settles him down after some initial fussing. He calms down, the breathing slows, the eyes droop....
I put him in his cot and step back slowly....
He wakes up and cries.
I give him his dummy, he sucks on it looking rather cross and makes a sort of "Omly omly omly" noise, well aware that he's not getting what he wants.
I leave the room anyway, thinking to myself that he is tired and that given some time he'll have to give in.
He doesn't give in. The crying gets louder and louder and louder.
I give in first, I try the dummy again and it is spat out. I cuddle him and he arches his back like a banana, making it hard to hold him. He is letting me know in no uncertain terms that he is not at all happy with the current situation and if it continues then there will be hell to pay.
I try feeding him again, he's not interested.

An hour later I try again, repeat all steps as above with the same result. He hasn't got bags under his eyes, but a whole set of matching luggage. Sleep you little thing! You'll feel so much better. He droops and dozes for a moment, but wakes immediately and if I'm daft enough to put him in the cot... well, you'd think the wretched thing was made of boiling hot lava, the way he reacts!

Give up. Get a cup of tea and sit glaring at the news headlines on the computer with evil babe from the depths of hades squiggling on my lap. Ho hum, lots of stuff happening in the news today... check facebook....
Evil babe has stopped squiggling... he's only gone and gone to sleep just like that!
Load up program on Netflix, sit down slowly on sofa and try not to move....
Realise I've left tea by computer out of reach......

Daniel is definitely a coyote baby. If you get him asleep and go to put him down you find yourself asking whether you'd rather chew your own hand off than risk waking him by removing it from under him......

Bad Behaviour

I can tell Joseph is settling into pre-school. He's confident enough to be naughty now. At the start, he had something of a confident shyness about him, he didn't have the massive screaming tantrums or melt down into tears, he just looked very sad and just kept asking "Why?" when I said I had to go. "I'm too big and too old." I told him. He still looked sad.
He didn't want to sit with the other children. He just wanted to play in the sand - just the sand and nothing else. As I said, confident in his shyness. I would go and pick him up and he'd say that he was ok - but he missed his house. Yes, that's where he went first, not me or his baby brother or even his toys - his house.
He's managed to make a couple of friends in his little group. I asked him what their names were: -
"Angry Boy and Pants - because I shout pant at him."
"Why do you shout Pants at him? That's not very nice!"
"But he shouts pants at me!"
Angry Boy is so named because they just shout. I have mentioned at other times that I have little understanding of the male mind and the mind of a three year old boy is shrouded in deep layers of mystery. These boys a friends and they like shouting at each other. His pre-school keyworker said that Joseph and Pants (I'm not going to use his real name, I do know it but for privacy's sake... no, it's just coz it's funny, I'm sticking with Pants) were as thick as thieves and having lots of fun, but don't worry, he didn't wet himself, they had to change Joseph's trousers because he'd had a little too much fun in the sand pit.
I got home, got the dirty trousers out of the bag and promptly got wet sand everywhere. Fun in the sandpit, according to Joseph meant he and Pants had dug a big hole, Joseph had got in and then buried himself with a little help. The problem with sand is it just gets everywhere. It's clingy when wet, but scatters off like mad when dry. I washed said trousers - they were new and all, the one day he goes in with new trousers and he tries to wreck them - and there was still sand on them and in the pockets.
I got to meet Angry Boy in the queue one morning as we were waiting to be let in. He had some lengths of dry grass in his pocket which he was calling sticks so they were happily shouting "Sticks!" at each other for a while. Then one of them decided they were bread sticks and that was shouted too. No, I don't know why.
On two occasions I have gone to pick up my lovable little scamp and been told that his listening skills have a little something to be desired. I am aware of this, Joseph will often decide to not listen when being told something he doesn't like or isn't interested in. I have at times held his head in both my hands and looked him right in the eyes and still what I am saying does not go in.
We're working on it, but it's very hit and miss. Having tried one or two ways round with the whole discipline thing, we've gone back to bribery. The carrot is better than the stick, or at least a whole lot less stressful.
He doesn't even like carrots, but there you go. We're using skittles right now. I line them up on a shelf he can see but can't reach. Whatever it is we're trying to do, be it getting dressed, tidying up or eating dinner he knows that if he's given warnings and told off enough times then I'll start eating them. And that would totally ruin my diet.

In other news Daniel is still a bit ill, there's nothing so sad as a baby with a chesty cold except the mother of a baby with a chesty cold who keeps being woken up in the night. Sometimes putting the dummy back in works, sometimes not. Sometimes he just needs a cuddle, sometimes I have to feed him, sit with him for a bit and make sure he's nice and snug and warm before he'll give up and go back to sleep, usually just as I've got to the interesting bit of the program I'm watching on Netflix to help me stay awake. I'm really getting my moneys worth out of the subscription at the moment. 

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

I hate the 80's

Ah Wednesday, it's supposed to be the calmer day of the week, no rushing off to the shops or pre-school or playgroup. Catch up on a few chores, spend some real quality time with Joseph and unwind.
Ha! Don't make me laugh.
Joseph, over the last few Wednesdays in particular, has been nothing but a total pain in the bum. Far from unwinding, I've been doing nothing but getting repeatedly and excessively cross. As for quality time, I think he spends more time in the naughty spot (the front hall) than anywhere else. It's as if a little switch has pinged somewhere in his head and he's forgotten how to listen and even when he does hear, it's not relevant unless he can see just how angry I am - angry enough to boil a pot of water if you put it on my head for example. If I ask him anything nicely I might as well just be reading from a glossary of medical terms, for all the relevance to him. Inevitably he pushes his bad behaviour too far and ends up in the hall for three to five minutes. Speaking of which, I'd better got let him out.
I promised myself I wouldn't be a shouty mum. I wasn't going to go flying off the handle and getting cross, I'd be reasonable - and if that didn't work I'd bribe him.
I'm so tired I forgot to buy sweets this week, so bribery is hard.  Talking to him reasonably only gets you so far and it's as if he wants to annoy me at the moment. I tell him - stop shoving your face right close to Daniel, you've got a cold and I don't want him getting it!
He doesn't listen, just carries on. I can talk calmly until the cows come home, whenever that is, and it does no good. It isn't till I'm actually shouting he listens and even then I have to physically drag him away.
He giggles and then tries to go straight back, coughing in my babies face. Daniel has been enough of a pain at night as it is without another head cold, he's barely over the last one.
He wants a biscuit. I tell him no, not till after dinner now.
He doesn't listen, just keeps on asking. I repeat myself ad nauseam, but it does no good until I shout NO!
He points out that he's been good, so he needs a biscuit.
I point out that he has not been good, he's done lots of things bad and has been told off quite a lot today.
But I AM being good! he squeals, starting to whinge and whine.
If there's one thing I really struggle with at the moment, it's the whinging. It's possibly the most annoying sound in the world, even more annoying than turning on the radio to get the traffic report and being aurally assaulted by Eurythmics. Seriously, why do some local radio stations think that everyone wants to listen to "There Must Be An Angel" by Eurythmics? It's terrible! Yet they all put it on with depressing regularity, or at least all the times I'm daft enough to put the radio on.
I digress.
The power of the whinge.
I can keep my cool unless he's about to injure Daniel, or I really have no sleep or...
He whinges. Why is that sound so annoying? I don't know. I do know that when it starts it doesn't stop and the net result is I'm hauling him off to the hall to calm down. I then go get a cup of tea to calm down.

And what of Daniel in all this?
He's still only sleeping when he feels like it, which isn't much in the day. At least last night he slept till 5.20 am straight through and then settled after a while with his dummy. I eventually drifted off to sleep again to be woken by the radio alarm not long later playing....
You guessed it, Eurythmics.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Tiredness and Trains

I'm tired.
I don't just mean that I've done a bit too much, or the kind of tired where you feel better after putting your feet up for a bit and having a cup of tea - although that would probably help.
I'm the kind of tiredness that goes more than skin deep, it's set in past the muscles and the rather thicker than I'd like adpose layer, through the bones and into the marrow. My lungs are tired, as is my heart, liver and kidneys. My spleen feels quite tired too, but it's a bit less vocal on the issue than the rest of me. My knees are probably the worst, barring my brain, but that's got so bad it's given up complaining now.

Daniel woke me up five times in the night. At 1.30am I was naive enough to think he might be hungry, so I came downstairs to feed him only to discover that he wasn't, not really. He did go back to sleep, but not for long. As far as I could tell, he was waking up because he'd lost his dummy as putting it back seemed to help.
I don't get it, I really don't. He's never slept as well as Joseph, but he's been pretty good over night. He had been, up till recently, sleeping from nine-ish to between five and six am. That's not bad, so I'm told, but regular waking when the hour begins with a five is not good for the soul.
So why the wake ups now? Last night wasn't a one-off, he's been bothering us over night once or twice for the last week now and I don't know why. Sometimes putting the dummy in his mouth works, sometimes not. Sometimes I feed him and discover that he's not really hungry, but it does help him get back to sleep and I'm really making good use of the Netflix subscription now.
It would appear, however, that the best way to get a couple of good naps out of him in the day is to have a rubbish night. He did a full hour in the moses basket today, which is more than twice he usually manages in the day time.
After the hour had passed, I went to check on him, more out of curiosity than anything. I opened the door slowly and discovered a baby... with a blanket over his face.
Panic mode! He's lying there so still and quiet! Oh no oh no oh no! How did that happen?
Quickly twitch blanket away from face to reveal a fast asleep baby complete with drool. Breath a sigh of relief and step back only to discover that your panicked actions have woken the baby. Oh well.

He's quite happy now, playing on the floor and kicking his little feet. His toy rabbit is lying a few feet away with an expression of relief on his face as it's having a break from having its ears chewed. Joseph is demanding more television and I am hoping I am not too tired to resist. He'd watch all day long if I let him.
Today Joseph has been to pre-school and he came home with a picture that had one thing stuck on it. I think Joseph favours a minimalist Dadaism school of art. He certainly has an unusual way of looking at life, he decided to put all of his clothes on backwards this morning, which would have been funny had it not been that we were running late.
After pre-school and lunch I asked Joseph to play upstairs on his own for a bit so I could have a moment to rest my aching bones while Daniel was sleeping. Joseph was tired, he had just fallen asleep on my lap, but the idea of having a nap upstairs was greeted with much derision. He played with his brio instead.
Have I mentioned that Joseph likes Thomas the Tank Engine? He does. The wooden brio is now the Isle of Sodor with Tidmouth Sheds and Brendam Docks which now extend out of his room and down the hall and almost into another room. I'm not allowed to put them away or the Fat Controller will get cross.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Behavioral advice around pregnant women

This is the last blog post I was writing before Daniel made his early appearance.  I'd been to the NEC the day before to the big craft fair they do. It seemed to be "be rude to a pregnant lady day" so I was feeling a little cross. I found it rather amusing that when there's a shortage of seating, everyone pretends they can't see you when you're heavily pregnant.

I'd just like to give out a few tips and pointers for what is and isn't really acceptable behaviour around the pregnant ladies of the world as sometimes there seems to be a lot of people who... well, to be brutally honest either have no clue at all or actually seem to be going out of their way to be difficult on purpose.

1) Don't drive mobility scooters into us. Seriously, this is very important and I had a bit of a close call yesterday. Don't have the full speed turned up while you're inside and please don't drive straight at someone who happens to be dressed in a bright red and white stripy top and is the same approximate shape as a weeble. I am not a target to hit, you do not get ten points for knocking me down and it's not my fault you don't know how to drive.
2) Don't slam your chair back into mine in a restaurant. I'm sitting as close to the table as I can possibly get, which I admit isn't as close as usual - but then there is a bump in the way. What's your excuse?
3) It's my bump, hands off. Thankfully I have managed to avoid any unwanted bump contact, but plenty of other women I know have not been so lucky. Why is it ok to randomly grope a stranger? It's not, so just don't do it.
4) Yes it takes me longer to walk places, I just can't go that fast. Don't push me.
5) My hormones are all up the spout and I can't help it. I'm pregant, making the next generation who'll pay taxes to cover our pensions when we're old. I don't expect to be always treated with kid gloves, just give me a break sometimes. 

Things I've Learned from Childrens Television

1, You can successfully bandage a fish - Octonauts
2, Goats really don't like Jazz - Shaun the Sheep
3, There's always a good excuse for casual violence - The Sooty Show
4, Don't get on the wrong side of the Fat Controller or he'll brick you up in a tunnel - Thomas the Tank Engine (the old version)
5, If you're trying to do well at school, don't make friends with a badger - Timmy Time
6, I don't know what it is Mr Maker is taking, but I'd like to try it
7, Pigs have both eyes on the same side of their face - Peppa Pig (can't watch it, the neo-cubism gives me a headache)
8, Cement looks like pink blancmange - Bob the Builder
9, The BBC is making some real budget cuts in childrens televison and in some areas it's really starting to show - Sarah and Duck
10, You can live successfully on nothing but porrdige and smelly lake-water - Abney and Teal.

Almost anything is better than Abney and Teal. I've sat through episode and episode of Tree-Fu Tom, a truly bad cartoon, safe in the knowledge that at least it's not Abney and Teal. What's with the accordian playing dog? And Toby-Dog played some "bugging the wits out of your Mum music".And guess what? It sounds exactly like his "it's a rainy day" music or his "Teal's caught dysentry from the lake" music.

I may have made the last one up.

Sleep - I need it, he wont have it

Well it's been a long time, hasn't it?
Daniel, my new lovely little bub is six months old and getting bigger every day. The problem is that whenever I try and sit down to do anything that doesn't get classed as "urgent" Daniel wants my attention. Actually, he wants my attention pretty much all the time, but I can justify putting him down to cook dinner or do laundry, but not to read a book or write a blog.
As if on cue, as soon as I start typing he wakes up and yells. You  know, I ordered a book for my kindle months ago. I've read the first three pages about four times now, but never got any further as the one thing he really can't stand is me sitting and reading.
Joseph used to nap like a pro. I got him onto a pretty good routine and I was always guaranteed a morning nap of about an hour and an afternoon nap of about two hours until he was past one. Even then he napped in the afternoon till nearly three. Sometimes he still does, but I can't force him into it.

Daniel is not like Joseph. He was born nearly a month early which meant a week-long stay in hospital as we recovered from the stress of it all - and massive infections. He was exclusively breast-fed till nearly six months whereas with Joseph I lasted less than six weeks. Daniel hated formula, Joseph greeted the sight of a bottle with great gusto. Now Daniel is weaning I have persuaded him to take a couple of bottles in the day, but it's taken some convincing.
Oh Daniel, what is it? Why is it whenever I sit down to do something that is even remotely close to something classed as "me" time you always dissolve into a mess of whingy tears? I haven't put makeup on since your birth, you never give me the time. Joseph always used to, but he was quite a sanguine baby who would not yell just becasue he'd been put on his play mat for a few minutes.
Daniel wears his little heart very much on his sleeve. Joseph had several sorts of cry, I could tell if he was upset or tired very easily. His routine meant he was rarely screaming hungry. Daniel was demand fet up until now and that means more screaming, but he only does one volume - loud. He howls just the same when he's tired so it's just so hard to tell what's what with him. Right now I think he's hungry so I'd better pour some milk over a rusk and sort him out. I'm pretty sure he's tired too, but that's another story.

He's eaten, and got a lot of it down himself, but that's just how it goes. A breastfed baby has a tounge reflex that they find hard to stop, which means spitting out half their food when it comes to weaning time. Joseph being bottle fed lost the tongue reflex early so weaned easily and tidily.
Daniel had a breastfeed right after and started to look quite drowsy, so I have taken him upstairs to sleep. Ha ha! How naive am I? Do you know, Gina Ford reccomends that you do not let your baby fall asleep while feeding them. Her advice is ridiculed by many, but they never stop to think that she might have a point. I let Daniel fall asleep at the end of a feed a lot and soon ended up with a baby who would only sleep after a feed. He would also only sleep lightly, so transferring him from arms to moses basket was risky and usually ended up with him waking up. As he had got used to sleeping after a feed he would not settle himself in his basket and would just plain scream. Scream and scream and scream....
Joseph had a tired cry. Sometimes I would put him down to sleep and he'd cry his tired cry and within a few minutes he'd go quiet and be asleep. I have learned that this does not work with Daniel. If I put him down to sleep and he cries then all that happens is that he gets louder and louder and louder.
So the choices are - let him sleep in my arms or risk putting him down, which is 50-50 at best. Either way, half an hour is usually the best he'll do. Fifteen minutes is more likely and that means he just cat-naps, long enough to take the edge off so he wont go back to sleep but not long enough to sort out his tiredness so I have a grumpy baby on my hands all day long.  If I ley him sleep in my arms then my poor circulation ensures that my arm goes numb in a few minutes and I have the hell of pins and needles in a short space of time.
I've looked around. The advice is - put him down awake but drowsy and let him get used to it. I've tried it, he just cries. He wouldn't go long enough between breastfeeds to cope with the routine I had Joseph on and even when I can get him asleep in his basket he doesn't sleep for long enough.
Speaking of which.....

At least now at six months he's relented and is taking a bottle and now will take a dummy. Six months of no dummy and no pacification! Now my new technique is take him up asleep and shove the dummy in when he inevitably wakes upon arrival in his basket. If I'm quick enough, he'll settle himself off quickly. If I don't take him up asleep he needs to be a bit drowsy after a meal and a breastfeed. I shove a dummy in and walk away. He sucks like mad and then cries. After a couple of minutes I go back in, shove the dummy in and walk away again. Rinse and repeat.... it can take a while, but he does nap in the end. Sometimes. Well... occasionally.

Doesn't seem to be working today. Got to go....

Saturday, 1 March 2014

On the Phone

Joseph likes the telephone. When we go to playgroup he loves playing with the old fashioned (I say "old fashioned" but they're the push button binatone phones I grew up with) telephones that are sometimes got out. It's a good job they're not connected to anything as an awful lot of people would get random calls along the lines of "Hello... It's Joseph. I'm playing. Yes, yes, uh-huh bye bye." because, according to him, that's what you say on the phone.
If I have to make a telephone call I try and do it when he's out of the way as he sits and yells "I want to talk! I want to listen!" over and over again and that makes it hard for me to talk and listen.

My mobile phone contract expired recently. Somebody, apparently from Carphone Warehouse, phoned up to negotiate a new contract. Now, if I'd only been able to concentrate on what the man was saying I'm sure all the problems would have been avoided as I probably would have realised that he wasn't from the above mentioned retailer but from one of their "subsidiaries". Beware of subsidiaries, all they do is rip you off.
Did I want a smartphone? No because I'm a cheapskate who doesn't want to pay over the odds for a phone with a load of features I'll never use and a contract with a load off stuff I will also never use.
This rather threw him.
Did I want a new handset anyway?
Not if I don't have to. I quite like the one I've got, although it is a little old and the battery life isn't quite what it was. Sometimes I have to charge it up after only seven days! (Another reason I'm still a little bit anti-smartphone).
I had to have a new handset. Ok then, as long as it's decent. Do I get a choice?

All of this was conducted to the background of a TV programme that Joseph wasn't really watching but wouldn't let me pause and a toddler screaming "I WANT TO LISTEN!!!" at the top of his voice over and over and over.
I ascertained that there was a cooling-off period and concluded the call.

The phone arrived a few days later. My suspicions were instantly aroused by the fact that I had been told the phone would be silver, indeed the paperwork said the same, but it was in fact black. Hold up, if they can't even send one the correct colour, what else is wrong?
A screen the size of a postage stamp, that's what and no built in camera. It had the look of something from about fourteen years ago. What, I wondered, were they trying to pull?
I called up the wretched subsidiary and complained a bit and got a postal address to send it back to. Can't I take it to the Carphone warehouse shop that's about a ten minute walk away? No, we're a subsidiary.
Back it went anyway, having had to pay a significant sum in postage as Royal Mail will only carry phones on recorded delivery. Probably a good job though, as I do have a very accurate record of when I posted the darned thing. Joseph spent the whole time in the post office staring up at the very old fashioned built in fan and saying "Look Mummy, a fan!" and generally managing to stand in everyones way.

I then discovered I could get a much cheaper sim-only deal though my internet provider and politely told my mobile phone company that they were no longer wanted, no I didn't want to see if they could do a price match as I already had my new sim good to go and could I have my PAC please to transfer my number?
Call made during a short and sleepless toddler nap time, so whilst I had to listen to a small boy telling his toys off from the comfort of the bed, I could at least talk on the phone without the aural onslaught.

A little while later, having transferred my number and happily using my new sim in my very very old phone I realised that an email had appeared from my old provider. Something about a bill. A bill? I paid the last bill, why are they asking for more.
It read: -
Here is your latest bill for £211. Your money will be collected by direct debit. A little more than expected? Please click here.

It's a good job I had put my cup of tea down to check my email. If I'd been sipping it at the time then I dread to think what would have happened. We'd probably have had to replace the computer keyboard again at least.
Why was my bill so big? No I had not been phoning up Uruguay or Burkina Fasso. It was an "Early termination charge".
You WHAT? I was told I had a 14 day cooling off period and that wretched piece of pathetic technology they had tried to palm me off with had been in my possession for less than 24 hours. I'd never even bothered to charge it up.
I called the company, rather annoyed that now I wasn't a customer any more I'd get charged for the privilege. Eventually after listening to annoying hold music someone spoke to me and did indeed confirm that I'd returned the stupid phone within the time and the charge was unfair. I asked why I'd been given it in the first place.
It's because they'd sent me a bill for the new contract.
Yes, they'd tried to charge me for a months use of a phone that had been out of it's box for less than an hour. I'd never used the phone so I'd never activated the new sim it came with and therefore had not had any use of the new contract but the money grubbing little swine had charged me for it anyway, activating the contract and making me eligible for an early termination charge. I was told this was not a problem, the nice lady needed to get some forms to fill in so she'd ring me back before the end of the day to sort it all out.
She was lying, she never phoned back.
I phoned the following day, well aware that my ire had reached the point that I was close to chewing chunks out of the furniture. No problem, I was again told. No, I didn't need to fill in any forms. The charge could be cancelled then and there and I'd be able to see it credited back to my phone account in three working days. No, they hadn't taken the money already (previous lady said they had), it was due in just over a week so as a precaution I should cancel the direct debit.
We did, but it took some finding as they're a bit sneaky and hide the payment under a less than obvious name.
Four days later I checked my phone account online and noticed the charge was still there listed as outstanding and payment due. Joseph was up from his nap and I didn't fancy dealing with them and an unruly toddler so I postponed my annoyance till the following day and spent quite some time on hold again.
I got through and was told that the charge was indeed cancelled. No, I told them, it's not. Are you sure you're looking at the right account on your end because it's still very much there on mine.
It will look like that, I was told as the cancellation of the charge wont show up until the bill is due.
Why? I asked. Sounds a bit daft to me.
It's just how the computer system works.
Ok, I replied, but please be aware that I have now been told three differing things by three different people and I'm not sure who to believe any more. Either way, my direct debit cancelled and your company is not going to squeeze another penny from me however stupid their computer system might be.
 Very sensible, she told me. By the tone of her voice I guessed she'd had far too many calls from grumpy customers dealing with bill errors due to their error ridden system. I felt sorry for her, thanked her for her time and hung up.

I'll let you all know the final upshot of all of this, but it probably wouldn't have come to this if I'd only been able to hear properly on the original phone call. Thanks Joseph, you little cheeky pain.
Would it be wrong of me to mention that the mobile network in question who have given me all the trouble are 02?
Oh well.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Toddler Talk

Today, while I was getting him dressed, Joseph remarked: -
"I'm putting trousers in my legs." which caused me to laugh quite a lot.
So I thought I'd write down some of his more humorous uses of the English language before I forget them all.

"I am the Fat Controller, I am a tentacle."
It took me a while to work that one out. He is obsessed with steam trains and therefore a liking for Thomas the Tank Engine was going to be pretty inevitable. However I could not work out what the tentacle business was about until we later realised that he meant to say tender car, but was struggling to say it clearly.

"Cracking toast, Mummy!"
That's what happens when you let your small boy watch too much Wallace and Gromit.

Me (singing) - And on that farm he had a...
Joseph (all the following one at a time for each new verse: -)
The ceiling
A shoe

When Joseph saw the news story about the deportation of Abu Quatada he looked at the picture and said: -
"Look Mummy, Santa!"

"What are apples supposed to be?"
He was asking about the colour, but I wanted to respond - tasteless, hard to bite into and miserably healthy.

On trying to persuade him to go upstairs to get a toy he wanted, all he would say was that I had to get it, or at least come too. So I said: - "You're a big boy now!"
He said: - "You're a big Mummy!"

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

A Cats Life

Hello I am Joseph and I have hijacked this blog for the moment.
I decided recently that I am going to model my behaviour on the cat (or The Cat as she seems to prefer). After all, she doesn't have to follow The Rules or do as she's told or use the potty or go to bed at the right time, she does what she wants and everyone just lets her and she still gets fed.
How does the cat get attention?
She just walks into a room and yells until Mummy and Daddy do something about it.
I like this idea. When I want something, that's what I do. I walk up to Mummy and just yell "Mummy!" till she listens. Sometimes I don't even walk up to her, I just yell from where I am because I am much louder than the cat.
It worked for a bit. However, they're learning. That's the problem with parents, they learn. Sometimes Mummy doesn't move at all, she just sits there and shouts ""What?" back at me. I find it funny, but it doesn't get me what I want so I yell "I want a sweetie!" and she just says "No." or "Not till you use the toilet properly."
Come to think of it, she often tells the cat "You've just been fed, go away." or "Get your claws out of my leg!!" when the cat meows a lot.
The cat runs around a lot to get their attention and likes to try and trip them up which I think is funny, but they don't.
If I run around a lot I get told to calm down.
Now... I'm trying to be aloof like the cat, but that isn't working either. Mummy just thinks I'm playing on my own and goes to have a rest. Now I know that carrying my little brother around in her tummy all day makes her very tired, but that's not the point. I'm trying to be like the cat.
The last thing was just ignoring everything they say and doing my own thing, like the cat does.
Unfortunately all this does is get me in a lot of trouble and put in the hall for five minutes. Oh come on Mummy, that's not fair! The cat does all sorts of silly things and all I did was throw a toy at you.
When the cat gets food she always turns her nose up at it and walk away, in the hope of something better. I tried that and I got told "You're not getting anything else, so eat your dinner or you don't get pudding."
The cat didn't get a new dinner either and actually I do like broccoli.

You know, I've had a bit of a think. Yesterday the cat got under Mummys feet and she nearly fell over it and she told the cat "So help me if you do that again I will do something to you that will make the RSPCA very cross, now go away!"
And then there was the day when the cat really upset Daddy and he locked her outside for a little bit.

I'm starting to think behaving like the cat isn't so good. I like it when Mummy and Daddy are happy and I really don't like it when they get cross. Perhaps copying the cat is not such a good idea after all. I'll go and give Mummy a hug, she likes that.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014


There's been a lot in the UK news about phonics.
It's how kids are taught to read in reception year at school. By all accounts, it's probably better than previous systems. I went to school when "Look and Say" - or rather the 1980's version of said system was in full effect and it let rather a lot of people down. I count myself very lucky that my sister taught me to read and write quite fluently before I ever went near a school (although her methods probably wouldn't be accepted in modern schooling) and that meant that as the teacher went on about something I wasn't much interested, I could sit and read a book. I remember my Mum going to the infant school to complain that I was being sent home with books that had one or two words per page. "But she can read proper books!" she said. The teacher said something about the level I was supposed to be on, but pretty much conceded the point.
From what I've been told, they're not allowed to do that now. All reception year children, be they barely four or almost five, are started from the zero point of assuming they can't tell a letter from a brightly coloured plastic toy and that they probably don't know one end of a pen from the other either. Now, some kids probably don't.
But what about the ones that do?
The latest research is that kids who arrive at the start of this system who can either already read quite well or are well on the way are often damaged by it. Why? Because they have to start at the beginning from scratch regardless. They have to re-learn what is becoming instinctive already and given that half the English language does not follow the rules, causes them nothing but confusion.
Teachers are not allowed to divide the class up into those who can read and those who can't because they all have to take an official phonics test to make sure they know phonics. Not to make sure they can read, but to make sure they've learned the system. That's the mad bit. Apparently a child can do quite badly on the test, especially if they're already a fluent reader as it contains nonsense words to see if they get phonics.
So, my best bet is not to teach Joseph to read.

But here we hit a problem, and not an easy one to bypass.
Joseph is left handed, and very left handed at that.
Why should that be a problem? It might sound irrelevant, but I know it isn't. I am left handed and probably still would be a lot more left handed than I am if I had not grown up in a right handed world. From my point of view, the whole world is the wrong way round. Jars open the wrong way, pens are on the wrong side in banks and I sometimes get tangled up, I am constantly forced to use my weaker side to do things and as a result my poor brain has had to adapt and it isn't always easy. I don't say all this to moan or insist that the world changes for me, but being a leftie does come with a few problems.
Letters and numbers. It took me a long time to be clear over a d and a b. I wanted to write everything backwards, I wanted to write from right to left as that was what was comfortable and natural for me. I was nine or ten when I FINALLY worked out which way round fives, sixes and sevens should be. They just looked better the wrong way round and then I'd get flustered and my primary school teacher decided that it was because I was thick. I wasn't thick, just left handed. Oh how I am glad I started ahead of the curve with reading and writing, I don't think I'd have learned at all if we'd just relied on school alone.
Joseph is highly likely to have all the same problems. He too will quickly see how the world is all back to front and his little brain will have to work harder to make sense of it, so it makes sense to start early and make sure he's not at left to the whims of an education system that always seems to prefer leaving the struggling kids to struggle rather than work out why.
Except, as is now being shown, arriving at reception year at school already able to read IS a disadvantage.
Sometimes home schooling is jolly tempting.
Except that according to all the experty people I will be doing him a disservice by depriving him of regular social contact with his peers.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Yes or no?

It's a bit of a rough ride, this pregnancy. Having gone straight from being sick to constant indigestion I am also suffering with lack of sleep as my joints have got very painful and keep waking me up at night. I'm also finding that if I need to spend any length of time on my feet - even just a little while to do something like cook a meal - then I need to wear support bandages on my lower legs to keep from going light headed. I can't walk far or fast, but they have been very nice to me at work this week. I got to spend the whole day sat at a table at the front of the shop making the models for the Easter Inspiration display. Two painted ducks, one covered in the delightful glue and tissue paper concoction we call decoupatch and a Humpty-Dumpty made from a large brown maché egg. He looks jolly good, though I say so myself.
At least I finally got to see a doctor this week. I have been referred for physio for my joints, but that will all depend on the waiting list. All I want to do is to be able to sleep comfortably! I have been given some cocodamol to help, but I'm rather nervous of taking it, despite being assured it's perfectly fine.
Is it? I was given pure codeine in my last pregnancy near the end of my first tremester for headaches, but found out on line it was not safe except in the second. I've looked again and the advice now says never in the second and emergency use only. Also not ideal in the third as it makes the baby drowsy and the baby can become addicted if used regularly.
The doctor said it was fine, but the leaflet that came with the meds is quite specific - do NOT use if pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant. Help! I'd just like to be able to sleep at night and not feel that people with acid covered red-hot pokers are investigating all the joints in my hips and legs.
It's Joseph that's the biggest loser in all of this. I'm permanently tired, bone achingly weary. I can't play with him like I want, my energy levels are too low and I can't sit on the floor for more than a few minutes without terrible pain and then I can't get up again anyway. The weather is either cold, rainy or both so taking him to the park so I can sit on a bench and he can run off his frustrations is a rarity. By the afternoon we inevitably end up snuggled on the sofa with Netflix on. I guess it's better than nothing, but I do have the nasty habit of falling asleep in the middle of whatever we're watching, only to have him poke me and tell me it's finished and can he have another?

Cocodamol isn't the only conflicting pregnancy information out there. There's lots.
Alcohol, for example. None at all is the standard advice, but lots of science people are chiming in saying that a little is ok, even moderate drinking, only to be followed by people who say "oh no it isn't" and then the first lot say "oh yes it is!"
As for eggs.... well, you don't eat raw or runny eggs because of the risk of salmonella. They're good at trumpeting that one about. Except - if you buy fresh eggs in the UK with the little red lion lasered onto it then they're guaranteed to be salmonella free. Also salmonella itself isn't known to harm the baby, but pregnant women are likely to be sicker because of our lowered immune systems. Not that you're at much of a risk of catching it in the first place if you buy the right sort of eggs.
Exercise. Some say none at all, others are equally authoritative that sitting around on your rapidly swelling bum all day is not on. It's not fat, it's oedema. 
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (try saying that when you've had a few, it's hard enough to type it sober!) got into a bit of hot water last year by publishing a list of things pregnant women should avoid and it was rather... well... to be frank, it was rather stupid. It listed things like moisturisers (umm... most pregnant women rub pints of the stuff just on their bump on a daily basis) and shower gell! Now, I'm one of these people with very sensitive skin and I can't shower as often as most people or I would turn into the itchy skin flake monster and then blow away in the next puff of wind, but even I will not give up the use of shower gell, especially as fragrances also make the list.
Also I am not allowed to buy any new furniture or cook wear, especially if it's non stick. I should not eat any form  of processed food, especially if it comes in a plastic pack. I should avoid any form of household chemical (woo-hoo, no cleaning!) and no pesticides. That's ok, we have a cat and she eats all the flies. Except that's not ok as cats are disease ridden bags of nastiness who harbour toxoplasmosis (and a general deep seated loathing for all and sundry, but that's not comunicable) which can harm your baby - but only if you're infected for the first time when pregnant. We've had the fluffy pain the ass for nearly nine years now and long before I was pregnant with Joseph I was having to empty litter trays and generally getting scratched for all my attempts to be affectionate. I probably got my first dose many moons ago and am now probably totally immune. Still, I have been advised to steer clear of poop and sick from the moggy so someone else has to clear it up. He he.

And, as far as I can tell, the most important dietary advice? Don't catch listeria. That's the one that really can harm the baby, but it tends not to get so high up the page as salmonella. That's the one you can get from not re-heating food properly and apparently it likes to grow on cooked rice. It also loves pate, so there are some things I am being jolly careful with.
Ironically it did result in an older lady sighing at me once. At a Christmas event, I had swapped my starter of several different kinds of pate (and it had been out of the fridge for hours!) for cream cheese.
"We didn't have all that in MY day." she said.
Yes, trust me, you did. You had listeria all right, but the risks weren't so well known, that's all. Some of the advice in pregnancy is silly, but some of it is very sensible so please stop saying that to pregnant women, it's one of the reasons less of us die now.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Feel the Love

It occurs to me that my last few blog posts have been in a very much negative frame of mind. I am stressed, I am tired, Joseph is driving me round the bend, I feel ill and I can't get a GP appointment for love nor money at the moment.
Well I've had enough of all the negative negative. Joseph hasn't managed to kill his fish - well all bar one and neon tetras are tiny sensitive little souls - and life in the tank will soon revert to normal as I spent half an hour cleaning sludge out of the filter today and replacing all the media.

I apologise in advance if this blog posting is a little bit more saccharine than usual, but I do feel that despite everything recently my little boy is always well worth all the effort I put in. He's taught me more about unconditional love than I ever thought could exist.
There's the way he bounces up when I go and get him up in the morning and he says "Hello Mummy, how are you today?" and I say "I'm fine, how are you Joseph?" and he says "I'm in my bed!!!"
There's the aggressive politeness - he always says thank-you  and if you don't say "You're welcome" quite quickly then he will keep saying thank-you until you do, in a louder and louder voice. He even started climbing across a table towards me shouting thank-you as he was annoyed I hadn't given him the correct response. If I thank him then I always get a "You're welcome" back.
He insists on holding the front door open for me. If I open the door myself, he gets annoyed and I have to close it again for him to open it. He says "Here you go Mummy." and lets me through first.
He will randomly ask for cuddles and I never turn them down - unless I'm driving, that could be a little awkward - as it makes both of us  very happy. I love it when he comes barrelling towards me with his arms stretched wide open and a big grin on his sweet little face. I know I have to brace myself as the force of it could knock a man down, but a cuddle is a cuddle.
I love our lazy afternoons, when we've had a busy morning out and we're tired we curl up on the sofa together and watch something on the telly. We've sat for an hour and a half at times, usually watching some daft kids film, sometimes under a blanket if it's a bit cold. I love the way he looks sad if I have to get up and then sits patting the empty spot on the sofa saying "Mummy sit here?"
I love the way he reacts when my husband comes home. He hears the door open and says "What's that? It's DADDY!" and then goes running. Unless Cars or Shaun the Sheep is on, sometimes it takes him a moment to notice. Poor Daddy is then not left in peace for a moment, but it often ends up with them conspiring together in Josephs bedroom and building a complicated brio track or some sort of monstrous lego creation. I love listening to the noise and the laughter.
I love that on Wednesday he dragged me upstairs to play in his room and he sat on one of his little chairs, made me sit on the bed and sat kicking his little feet saying "We're talking to each other." and his three year old lisp made the words rather unintelligible. We talked about a lot of things, everything from what the cat did to the anatomy of a steam engine. Joseph knows the valve gear from the smoke box and is getting better at saying "connecting rods". All of this has been learned from a steam train obsession and watching lots of you-tube clips about trains with his Daddy. Today I was explaining some of the basics of a formula one car to him today, he was fascinated.
I love that when we put him to be he yells "Night night!" at us through the door and doesn't stop until we respond. I love going back in on my way to bed and seeing him fast asleep and clutching his teddy.

He's a right pain most of the time, but you just gotta love him.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

What happens if I....?

Ah, the next stage in the mind development of a small boy.
We're getting into the "What happens if I do this?" stage.
Actually, I think there's a bit of that right from the start, but at the age of three he's finding many more things to be irritatingly curious about. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it sure got the toddler into a lot of trouble.

It started because I'm very tired. I'm finding it hard to sleep and that means I don't always make it through the day without a nap, just as Joseph is deciding that he doesn't really need one any more. Now, usually on a Wednesday I wade through a big pile of ironing whilst Joseph is sleeping but I thought I'd have a little bit of a sit down first.
Some long while later I woke up from an unintended but much needed nap to the sound of a toddler who was not asleep and probably never had been. Now, I should have just left him and got on with the ironing as quickly as possible. He didn't sound distressed so he'd probably have been ok, but I don't like leaving him awake in bed for too long.
An unwise decision - I got up, told him he could get up as long as he played upstairs for a bit while I got the ironing done. It didn't look too big a pile, but you know what ironing is like, it always seems to take far longer than it has any right to even if you are doing something of a improper rush job.
Joseph decided that rather than playing with his trains - which he had very much insisted I get out - he'd rather climb up on a chair and make a grab for things he's not allowed. He's getting tall, that boy, and things that were out of reach are no longer so.
Perhaps he was trying to get something else, but I can't help but wonder if he simply thought "I wonder what happens if I knock something over that I have been repeatedly told is delicate and breakable and I'm not allowed to have?"
It goes smash on the floor, that's what. And it makes Mummy cross, oh so very cross. To be honest, I was just as angry with myself over it. It would never have happened if I hadn't been dopey and dropped off to sleep when I had things to do. Still, he's knows he's not supposed to go climbing.
I told him off and told him that his punishment was to stay on his own a whole lot longer, which he seemed to understand and took with a measure of good grace as it appeared to be dawning on him that he'd done something really quite stupid. No downstairs time, no TV time and Mummy time was at an absolute minimum.
Daddy came home. Joseph's enforced banning from the living room came to a natural end and he came rushing downstairs to tell Daddy that he'd just fed his fish.
Huh? Now I know I put the food out of reach and I know he can't get the lid off. What's he done now?
As it turned out, the wretched boy has had another growth spurt and having not really learned the lesson properly from earlier, had embarked on another climbing spree. I still can't work out how he got the lid of the tub of food, he's never managed it before. Still, manage it he did and the entire tub had been tipped into the tank.
I've supervised fish feeding time many many times. Like all toddlers he has a measure of OCD and likes things done in a certain and proper way, the way we always do it. He knows it's two pinches of food and no more, he repeats it every time we feed the poor critters. Alas this time he decided that they must be hungrier than usual, and an awful lot of flake food had been tipped into the tank, around the tank and on the floor. Probably enough food to last about six months.
Anyone who knows anything about fish knows that even small amounts of over feeding can be dangerous, and a lot of excess food can be very toxic. The fish can't eat it, it stops oxygen dissolving in the water properly and as it starts to rot the levels of nitrate in the water skyrocket, poisoning the fish.
Cue an emergency water change and lots of scraping of sludge. Joseph was made to sit in a chair facing the corner the whole time. He just didn't understand how naughty he'd been. After all, he'd just been feeding the fish, something he does three times a week.

Four water changes in 24 hours later.....
Thank goodness we have a large aquarium downstairs that we've been borrowing water from. Andy has got most of the muck out of the water, but we'll probably have to do another couple of changes again tomorrow and strip the filter down to clean out all the sludge it will have inevitably picked up.

So Joseph, I hope you really have learned now. The answer to "What happens if I..." is usually "I get in trouble, a whole big heap of it." and I've learned that if I need to get him to play in his room on his own for a bit then I'm taking away the little chairs that go round his table.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014


Bump is getting bigger and a little uncomfortable as my abdominal muscles continue to get less and less efficient at what they're meant to do. If I lay down on the sofa to relax for a little bit then watching me get off is like watching a nature documentary about an ungainly walrus. Ok I don't have the teeth or the facial hair, but I do have the waddle. Also, my hips are getting very painful as is my back and thanks to the post Christmas back log (yes, still!) I can't get a GP appointment till next week. It's keeping me up at night and by mid afternoon I am utterly exhausted.
Now I know at three years old that Joseph is a little on the old side to still need a middle of the day nap, but I certainly do. Up till quite recently he's still been very reliable, often giving me a good clear hour and a half in the middle of the day to nap myself or at least just out my feet up with a cuppa and something diverting on the telly. Now, when I need the break more than ever, he's showing signs that he might just be a bit big for napping after all.
It's not being able to tell beforehand that gets me. Some days we have a busy morning, he runs around a lot and eats plenty and round about the usual time he is rubbing his eyes and looking quite tired. I sit him on the potty, get him in a nappy and in bed with little fuss and then spend quite a long time listening to him talking to himself and his toys, chucking stuff about the room and using the wall as a drum kit. Intervention depends on just how tired I am, on a few occasions I have sat listening to the noise and then found myself with a nasty crick in my neck an hour later with a cold cup of tea and a little boy exploring the percussive detail of all the different bits of his bed.
Other days I think it's not worth the bother, he doesn't seem tired and is rather reluctant to go to bed. I put him down, listen to a few minutes of unhappiness before it all goes quiet for a significant amount of time. I drink my tea, but usually don't manage to stay awake through the whole of the TV program.
The really odd thing is that if he's sounding really annoyed and upset then I know he has the greatest chance of actually sleeping. I think it's tiredness that brings it on, plus a good dose of toddler perverseness. I want to go up and comfort him, but I know I have to hold off for a least a while as he's highly likely to drop off.
When he's not sounding distressed I feel less inclined to go up, especially if he's sounding particularly chatty with his teddy, but he's very unlikely to sleep. In the end it comes down to just how tired I am feeling. If I can have even a short break and a little nap then I know we'll have a much better afternoon. I just have to hope he doesn't get too keen on drumming. Soon I know it will be not worth the bother at all, but I'm hoping he can hold out till the baby gets here at least.

I keep wondering what to do about pre-school. Now, I only work one day a week at the moment and that'll go soon. I have had conversations with a few different people and I rather get the impression that people thing I am either odd or bad to have not got Joseph into one now he is three.
My own, personal, opinion is that I'm not sure it's necessary for him. We go to a toddler group once a week, I take him out to the park when the weather isn't too dire and he does have friends and seems to have naturally got past a lot of his shyness, as demonstrated by the very long conversation he had in the supermarket with an older lady whilst I was packing up all the food. Apparently there was a broken light and a lot of cardboard boxes, so he said.
He's my other point - and it seems to surprise a lot of people who are very taken with pre-school - I like having him around. I'll miss him like mad when he goes to school and I'm not in a rush for that. I don't need to send him, I have no childcare issues, and he's not socially isolated. Why take a place away from a child who needs it more?

Friday, 10 January 2014

Toddler Stew

There's a lot of things they don't tell you in parenting books. They're usually packed full of sensible sounding advice, although it is worth checking if the author actually has children of their own. Trust me, the rules are very different between someone who regularly looks after children verses actual parenthood. Now, a lot of childcare experts can look at the situation less emotionally, more scientifically and often can recommend some sensible ideas, but at the end of the day it's you that's the parent and it's you that's feeling emotional. When the frustration is streaking out from you like static electricity and making you feel like your hairstyle has become less "yummy Mummy" and more "crazed dandelion" then all the "sensible" advice in the world is not going to help. Said book of sensible tips is likely to be lobbed across the room to the tune of an over-hormonal woman yelling "what do you know about it anyway????" followed by some untranslatable utterances that can only be put down to hormones.
Seriously, I've come close. Just how do small children work out exactly which day it is that you are at your lowest ebb and then push all your buttons, plus the ones on the remote and the washing machine as well.

And why is it now that he starts to decide he doesn't need his nap any more? I know at 3 he's old for still napping, but he's always seemed to need more sleep than the stated average. He could have picked before I fell pregnant, or later in the year when I hope to be feeling better. At least he was still napping when I was having all the nasty pregnancy sickness, but I'm not exactly well now. I might have the womb of a fertile young woman, but the rest of me feels like it belongs to an eighty year old. I can only hope that the octogenarian who seems to have done an internal body swap with me treats it well and gives it back after I give birth.
And why now does he decide to start having little accidents? It's like we're back at the beginning of potty training again, with damp pants, forgetting to ask and the most irritating of all - the soggy car seat. They might say they come with an easily detachable cover, but they don't, they really don't. Now we have a car that smells of cat pee remover. It does the job all right, removes little boy odours just as well as cats, but it's what you might call pervasive. It doesn't smell of vanilla, it smells of something trying to pretend to be vanilla.

My pensionable hips have been keeping me up at night so I'm short on sleep and today was a little too much. He was ok at his first toddler group of the year, but was a little terror at singing time. He wet the car seat on the way and on the way home was sat on a carrier bag, complaining. He ate his lunch but didn't want to sleep. He wasn't crying, but I could hear him trying to bounce his toys off the wall the whole time. I took a much needed rest anyway and prepared for the afternoon which consisted of constant demands for drinks, TV programs and other incomprehensible items that pushed me to the limit.
I got out a pan and put it on the hob.
I picked up Joseph and asked "Shall we cook you? What would you taste like?" and then in the spirit of not really taking it seriously I turned him upside down and tried to put his head in the pan.
He didn't get the joke. He looked scared and cried out.
"No! Don't roast me, I'm not a cooky boy!"

It took a few minutes to convince him I was being silly. He ended up wearing the pan on his head for a little while and laughing, but kept looking at the cooker, as if somehow it might sneak up on him and cook him anyway.

Btw, he's ok now. He and Daddy are upstairs throwing lego about. Perhaps he'll learn that the cooker is not a toy now.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Cabin Fever

It's been raining a bit round our way. I don't feel I can complain too much, after all we haven't been flooded out of our house or lost power or heating. Plenty of people are suffering quite badly through all of this, all we're having to suffer is a chilly soggy trip back and forth to the car whenever we want to go anywhere.
And that's the problem. We're stuck inside most of the time. It's not as if the weather is just 'a bit nippy' or something similar. When it's not chucking it down, it's howling a gale and when it's not howling a gale it's hailing. When it's not hailing it's doing the other two at the same time. On one occasion, the short walk to the car was accompanied by Joseph's running commentary of "Let's get out of here!" repeated until he was safely stowed in his car seat.
Even the 15 minute walk to the local shopping precinct is out of the question in this weather. If Joseph was still small enough to fit in the buggy and I wasn't suffering from pregnancy exhaustion then I might perhaps chance it.... or not. The only thing on everyones minds right now is - when will this all end?
I'm sick to the back teeth of being cooped up. Andy, understandably, is less than keen on cycling to work at the moment and that leaves me with the choice of walking or chancing the horrific conditions in my battered old citroen. To say that it's seen better days is an understatement. When it got through it's last MOT we were all shocked. She has severe chassis corrosion, peeling paint, mysterious creaks and moss growing in some of her crevices. I have to drive her to work as there's no choice, but I never really fancy carting my precious offspring about in her less than safe insides. I believe she once did have some sort of Euro NCAP safety rating, but I don't think it was very high in the first place and is probably non existent now.

It's nasty out there.

In other news, Joseph has so far rejected all our ideas for baby names. To be fair, we've not been to sure ourselves so we welcomed his input. What name did he pick?


Perhaps we could work out some sort of sponsorship deal......

Thursday, 2 January 2014


When I was pregnant with Joseph I was the picture of health. At the start I had a bit of a run of hormonal headaches which didn't last too long and ironically coincided with the end of the holiday year at work. I'd booked the last remaining weeks off I had in a block before I even fell pregnant. I did not take a single day off sick for the whole pregnancy, but it was a little spoiled by my antenatal classes falling on a day I usually worked. Do you know, that period of time, from about twelve weeks until the last few weeks when I got a bit too bulky to do very much, was probably the healthiest I have ever been. I did not catch any bugs, no colds, no flu-like nasties, no throat infections and no gastric bugs either. All of these I usually get in abundance during the colder parts of the year.
Ah, how I miss that time. I have endured weeks of rotten headaches, which sometimes come back and bug me, months of morning sickness and now I have permanent IBS, indigestion and backache. Now, I did need a bit of gaviscon right at the very end with Joseph, but I'm barely 24 weeks at the moment and have already been taking it regularly for a while.
I had no oedema last time, but now I'm already noticing that sometimes my rings are uncomfortable, my socks are tight and even my bump will dramatically increase in size during the day sometimes. Andy came home from work and put his thumb in his mouth, puffed out his cheeks and asked if I'd been doing the same all day. All I could say was that the nice warm winter coat that still fitted well two days before, no longer did so.
I'm still suffering with a nasty cough from the flu-like thing I caught before Christmas. I used to have a fine soprano voice, now I sound like Marianne Faithful. My back hurts, my hips hurt, my feet hurt.


Even Joseph, as clueless and happy as a three year old usually is, has noticed I'm not quite my usual self. He catches me coughing and says "Are you ok Mummy? Are you ok?" follwed by "You're ok now Mummy." when I stop. He saw a man coughing in the supermarket last week and looked at me and said "He's ok now, Mummy." which did make me laugh, but then made me cough.
He has even told me "You have a rest now Mummy!" and will make me sit on the sofa. However, his attention span is fairly standard for a small boy and I'm usually dragged to my feet only a few minutes later to help scoot cars across the floor, or at least to rescue them from under the sofa.
He did have the best tantrum ever this week. Seriously, it was a good one. I was trying to get him up and dressed and Joseph was in full "I want! I want!" mode.
What did he want?
"I want to make Daddy happy!" repeated over and over, whilst resisting my efforts to get his socks on.