Saturday, 31 August 2013

Confessions of an OCD mummy

There are bloggers who set trends with their fashion writing, bloggers who write reviews of products, there are those who indulge my love of food porn and others still who share clever and helpful tips on how to entertain children (I particularly admire these last two types). I've come to realise that my blogging life, however, is therapy. So if you think of yourself as the virtual therapist to my Tony Soprano style session (with far less violence and a little less pasta) then we can commence. Get your notepad ready and adjust your glasses for today's session.

My siblings have often joked that I have OCD and I've gone along with it, but I realise that I do actually have a lot of obsessive compulsive tendencies. It was when I started to think about all of the things I do that it occurred to me that it might not be 'strictly normal' (whatever that is). So today might be the time to confess:

colourful t shirts on a washing line
I hang up the washing in a specific order. Hubbie's clothes on one side (they're the biggest) then mine and lastly the boy's. If Hubbie kindly offers to hang up the washing I rehang it when he's gone to bed or left for work as I can't bear to go into the room it's in until it's done 'properly'.

When the clothes are dry I fold and stack them in order of size and who they belong to. It speeds up the putting away process. I know, I know you're already rolling your eyes at the ceiling and it's not going to get any better.

Once I've worn my clothes for the day I fold anything that isn't going into the wash basket and put them away (even the boy's). I can't get Hubbie to do this so there are hooks on every door in the house so he can hang his stuff up and not leave it on the floor where it drives me crazy.

The other day I went to get something from under sink, noticed a stain on the shelf and started emptying all the cleaning products and candles out so that I could wipe down the shelf. Hubbie walked in and asked what I was doing (we were about to eat dinner). I told him and he walked out again.  

Any time I have to change the volume control on the radio or TV it has to always be set to an even number. Always. I don't know what would happen if it is on an odd number. I've never risked it.

I fold bags for life (and all carrier bags and paper bags, in fact all bags, you get the idea) a certain way. If Hubbie puts them away scrunched up or folded another way I do them again.  

I love seeing friends and family, but if people are in my house I get stressed about them moving cushions or touching stuff or generally changing things from the order I have them in. It makes me a terrible host as I just don't relax.

The fridge is ordered a certain way with designated shelves for things and the 'right' place to put items. The freezer is the same, but adapts depending on what we've eaten and what we've bought. My Mum's fridge is chaos so I can't open it and look for milk to make tea, I just have to close my eyes and feel around in the door for where I think it's going to be. She recently replaced her fridge so when I went round I had no idea where anything would be - it was carnage !!

sandpit in a playground
Because of my aversion to mess I won't have sand or messy play at home. My boy turned his shoe upside down in the car the other day and it sent me apoplectic as he poured sand all over the floor and his car seat. Every night when he goes to bed I tidy all the toys, books and toddler detritus up so that - overnight at least - the chaos is managed.

Yes I am aware that my being this controlling will not go unnoticed by my son. I do try to minimise the effects on him, but I have noticed a few telltale signs that he is subliminally taking it all in. One of these was when we were at my parents' house not long after the boy had started drinking from a cup and not a bottle. He reached across for a coaster and put it under his sippy cup. My sister looked at me and said, "that's you that's done that to him !!" I insisted I didn't make him use a coaster at home, but had to admit he'd seen me using them obsessively on all surfaces.

So that's a round up of the less odd of my compulsions. I haven't even started on what happens if a stranger sneezes near me or if a child with snot all over their face is close by. Judge if you like, I'm already imagining you have tutted more than once and raised an eyebrow or two.

I'm married to the most patient man in the world and he lives with my fastidiousness. It makes no difference in his life if the fridge is a mess or if the clothes aren't folded or if there's a muddy cat paw mark on the kitchen floor. He also understands that one or all of these might be cause for a meltdown by me. It's why we function so well as a couple. He's not insane and at least half of my son's genes are his so that's alright.

Anyway, I have to go now and deal with a smear I noticed on the kitchen window earlier.

Thanks for listening :o) 

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Mission Impossible 3: the quest for a birthday greeting

My son loves Cbeebies.

Cbeebies logo From Tikkabilla (which is weird and like Playschool on mogadon) when he wakes up to In the Night Garden (which is like doing psychotropic drugs so I'm told) at bedtime he loves loads of shows on the schedule. I give full credit to Justin Fletcher for my son appreciating a good knock knock joke and I'm pretty sure he's learned to count and his alphabet from watching educational shows on the channel. Yes I am happy to admit that I've left the telly to teach my son numeracy and literacy. 

green tractor toy with toddler
I'm sure he's not the only child who knows all the theme songs and sings them enthusiastically. Today he sang Bob the builder when sitting on a tractor in the shopping centre. It was quite funny actually. Again I'm pretty sure that other children also call all postal staff Postman Pat and recognise the Royal Mail logo on the side of red vans.

So our credentials as Cbeebies fans are clear for all to see. I've befriended Dr Ranj on twitter and posted pics of my boy pretending to be a Dr using the stethascope from the front of his Cbeebies magazine that prompted a sideways smiley from the good Dr. Before you jump to any conclusions no I'm not one of those who pants when he's on screen because of a crush - that would just be wrong as he looks a lot like my brother !

Happy Birthday greeting
My issue is that my boy is going to be 3 in a month and this is the third year of trying to get his birthday card read out on Cbeebies. I even asked for advice from my friend Lou who has managed to get her son's card read out twice - yes that's right TWICE !! Two years of trying to get a card shown on Cbeebies has almost broken me. The first year I was in such a panic to get the card there in time that I forgot to put his date of birth on the back and had to pull strings with my friend Vicky (who works at the BBC) and she put in a call to the Cbeebies office to make sure they added it to the back. We spent all day watching the birthday slots becoming increasingly depressed as it became clear his card wasn't going to appear. Last year I sent a card again and double and triple checked that I'd got it all right and again no sign of it. We even resorted to doing an online greeting on baby TV just to be sure he got something on telly.

This year I'm taking no chances. I've taken top tips from Lou in her capacity as 'the Mum who can' and am even going to write a super smarmy message on the back of the card just to be sure. I'm including as many characters as will fit onto the card and it's being posted in plenty of time.

If we don't do it this time I'm actually going to cry.

You don't want to make a grown woman cry now do you Cbeebies ? 

Monday, 26 August 2013

Brighton Beach (bank holiday) memoirs

white cat and toddler on black leather sofa So this was the first Bank Holiday I've spent where I was away from my boy for a full 24 hours without seeing him at all. He woke up and went to sleep without me or Hubbie there to tuck him in and he slept fine and woke up full of the joys of a weekend spent with Grandma and Grandpa. I barely slept a wink (and not because of the sofa bed in my friend's house) and woke up feeling tired and wanting to call him. It was too early at 6am so I held out until after 8am and he was all cheery and waiting to tell me he'd eaten Weetabix and a Peppa Pig yoghurt for breakfast. Phew !!

Sitting in the sun on the beach
Hubbie and I had a lovely leisurely Sunday morning with friends who treated us to a luxurious brunch and we even bought a Sunday paper which we later read on Brighton Beach. I recall years ago a friend telling us that once you have kids you'll never have the time to read a Sunday paper again. He was right as this is the first time since our boy was born that we have had the chance to. I also remembered my friend Lisa who came to our wedding sans infants as her two had gone to visit their Grandmother in Belfast with their Dad and she said she felt like a piece of her was missing the whole day. I felt like that this weekend.

I had a lovely time with Hubbie and it was great to go to a 2 day festival and do grown up stuff like getting stuck behind hundreds of mods on scooters on their way from Brighton to Eastbourne. We did make it to see the band just in time, but only just. Oh the spills and thrills !! It was even better as I knew from talking to our boy that he was having a wonderful time ruling the roost at his grandparents house so I wasn't worried about him at all. I did, however, feel like a part of me was not there. Everywhere I went I had to talk about him so everyone would know I am a Mum and I have a son and even though he isn't with me he is a part of me.

toddler standing next to a height chart in KiddicareIn his own way Hubbie also showed his parenting credentials by wearing his Daddy Pig t- shirt. However, standing in a children's playground unaccompanied by our son he did look a little suspicious so I have advised that in future he only wear it when he has the boy close by so that people don't mistake him for a wrong 'un.

When we got back to Grandma's late last night I put my head round the bedroom door to see my boy sleeping and my heart felt whole again. I slept soundly and woke up keen to hear the tell-tale jingle of his beloved bear that signals he's awake and moving around in bed. He smiled when he saw me and asked where Daddy, Grandpa and Grandma were.

Tonight when we were home and had our usual pre-bedtime chat about our day he told he he'd had a 'lovely holiday at Grandma's house.' I asked if he'd like to do it again and he said he would.

I hugged him a bit too tight and he put his arms around me.

Maybe next year I'll be a bit less anxious about it all.

Friday, 23 August 2013

The Edge of The Sea for Hubbie and me :o)

Wedding Present at Brighton Beach gig Me and Hubbie are going to the Edge of the Sea 2 day festival in Brighton this weekend featuring Dave Gedge's bands Cinerama and the Wedding Present. We booked the tickets in January for both days and in order to make this happen my planning has been as follows:

  • asked the parents-in-law to look after our boy (father-in-law, or Captain America as I call him, is playing golf so it's mostly Grandma really)
  • checked my lovely friend Soraya in Lewes can put us up on Saturday night and we can leave the car at her house
  • gave Hubbie our itinerary for the weekend including options for eating
  • bought in food the boy likes to take to Grandma's
  • made sure the neighbours can feed the cat while we're away 

I'm already traumatised at the thought of being away from my boy for two days, but mostly because there's still so much to do before we get to see the Wedding Present live on Saturday evening.


  • Pack overnight bags for me, Hubbie and the boy - making sure we have baby monitor, night nappies, toothbrush and child sized toilet seat for the boy
  • Drive to Grandma's house and drop off the boy 
  • Get on the road to Lewes to drop off car and pick up keys to let ourselves in on Saturday night
  • Take train from Lewes to Brighton to the gig 
  • Chill out at the gig 


  • Brunch in Lewes
  • Back to Brighton for day 2 of the Edge of the Sea gig 
  • End of gig drive to Grandma's to be there when the boy wakes up in the morning


  • Surprise the boy when he wakes up 
  • Drive to my Mum and Dad's house for lunch 
  • Back home to be ignored by a moody cat and get ready for the week ahead. 

At some point I expect I'll relax and enjoy the bands at the gig - that's the intention anyway.

Whatever you're doing I hope you have a lovely Bank Holiday Weekend :o)

Boy sitting on the beach at Brighton

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

It's not real life - it's just TV

I often complain that we don't get any decent telly any more, just a lot of reality telly. Another of my bugbears is misery TV and I don't watch soaps for that reason. If I want to watch families yelling at one another I'll visit mine and not do it in my precious leisure time. There is an element of TV being there to inform and educate, but my favourite shows tend to be purely entertainment, which I almost feel I have to apologise for.  More often than not I'll watch Blackadder yet again (which is almost like learning history isn't it ?) and recently Masterchef or the newly returned Great British Bake Off (come on that's just Home Ec) or if I'm being really swotty a quiz so I have to use my brain a little bit. It made me wonder whether TV was always about real life or if this obsession with 'constructed reality' is all new.

On the buses colour still
I'm pretty sure that very few bus companies are like seventies sitcom On the Buses. For a start they don't have nearly as many staff as that any more, the cultural mix is far more diverse and the bus garage in South Croydon certainly doesn't have a canteen where they all sit around between shifts - hence the roaring trade in transport caffs along the Brighton Road. If the drivers were to walk out in protest at women driving buses they'd get nowhere these days as women drivers are not controversial any more. I do remember when I was at school and Sheila was the well known driver of the E2 bus who would get out of her cab to help pensioners on and would tell the school kids to wait and take their turn. She won bus driver of the year many times and was brilliant !!

Despite what the papers and every Prisons Minister and Justice Secretary (how Orwellian is that ?) think I know for a fact that prisons aren't like Porridge. Prison officers who've been in the job a long time insist it used to be like that and long serving prisoners do hark back to the days of it being like a gentleman's club, but I suspect closing the 'staff clubs' where officers could get 'cold refreshments' during breaks is only a good thing. Norman Stanley Fletcher and his like do exist, but the scams are far less jolly than the ones depicted going on at Slade Prison. In reality we have an interesting TV crossover where the Muppets help children who have parents inside prison to deal with this very difficult issue in their young lives.

Citizen Khan still from the show
Citizen Khan is no more an accurate reflection of 'multicultural Britain' than Love They Neighbour was back in the seventies. It's just the language was less censored back then and now the white character does not get an equal number of digs as the Asian one. It was a stipulation made by Rudolph Walker when he took the part of the black neighbour that for every racist epithet he should get an equal number of them back at his white neighbour as recourse. I think that was what passed for equality back in the seventies.

And despite what every Health  minister in the last 15 years believes, NHS hospitals are not like Green Wing (and then Scrubs). I'm sure they want to believe that doctors have time for japes and hilarity and that the admin staff spend all day photocopying their body parts rather than actual work. If you think it's a bit far-fetched that actual policy on health might be based on misconceptions from watching a comedy series then try and recall the last time you saw a minister or indeed any public figure sitting in A&E at 3 in the morning with a child with a viral infection. No, it's ok I'll wait...

Call the midwife still
My personal favourite is a recent addition to the thinly disguised propaganda school of TV making and is the vintage and soft focus Call The Midwife. An everyday depiction of childbirth in the East End of London with a side helping of 'why don't women give birth at home anymore ?" I'm pretty sure that it was commissioned as a lovely bit of Sunday evening nostalgia and costume drama to keep families entertained - I mean only a hard heart wouldn't be reduced to tears by the cute ickle babies wouldn't it ? In addition it's a tale of women giving birth in adversity and without horrid doctors interfering that elevates midwives to mythical status. I honestly do think midwives can be marvellous and that childbirth should be treated as a normal thing and not medicalised as a matter of course. I'm also fascinated to see if requests for and actual home births increase as a result of the show.

Of course all of this is moot when you have a toddler as the TV is on Cbeebies the majority of the time he is awake. At least I can say that is educational without fear of contradiction :o)

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Don't mess with me - I'm a Mum !

working mum image in a suit with a baby bottle
In the last week I've heard more than one discussion that has been focused on the old and - I believe - false distinction between Mums who work and those who stay at home. In one case it was about how women who don't have kids resent those who do as they feel they have to pick up the slack left by their workshy parent colleagues. Then there is that old chestnut about working mums vs stay at home mums. On Radio 4 You and Yours had a woman representing stay at home Mums and a lawyer who returned to work two weeks after giving birth to each of her five children. One caller referred to her role staying at home being so vital because "the most important thing we can give our children is love," thus implying that by returning to work a mother does not love her children as much.

I say it's a false distinction because I honestly believe that with a few exceptions we are all doing the best we can. If we're working we're trying to do the best for our family and if we're at home we're trying to do the best for our family too. No one is deliberately trying to compete with 'the other side' and what about those of us who do both ? I work some of the time, parent most of the time and feel like I'm underperforming all of the time.

The most recent discussion has been about discrimination against women returning from maternity leave and I can very closely identify with this. I returned to work after a year at home with my son and I believe I was constructively dismissed as my boss told me he hadn't been expecting I'd be coming back to his department so he didn't have anything for me to do. At meetings I was invisible and my colleagues pretty much ignored me. When the offer of voluntary redundancy came round I discussed it with Hubbie and we agreed I'd take it and became a stay at home parent as a result. I had worked hard for a promotion before maternity leave in the hope I'd go back to my well paid job and be able to work part time and still earn a good wage. Instead I took a lump sum that cost me my career progression and future job prospects.

baby feet and adult handsNow I'm working again and it's for a lower wage and the work is far more stressful - or does it just seem that way because I'm doing the work while also being a Mum ? I've mentioned before how my own mother worked full time, raised four children and made a home cooked meal every night. She did all this and balanced the family budget on less than I earn now with my part time salary (although I question whether 4 days a week is really part time as it doesn't feel like it !). I've always worried about money. When I had no money I worried about not having enough money. When I earned a lot of money I worried about maintaining my well paid work. Now I worry about having enough money and when I go out for a meal I still scan the menu to make sure I don't pick the most expensive dish and if have wine it's only ever one glass so that I don't go over budget.

We're not badly off by any stretch of the imagination, but I still worry because that's what I'm programmed to do. I ponder the career cul-de-sac I find myself in and any discussion that suggests my son is adversely affected by my being a working mother adds to my anxiety. Bottom line is that some women want to work and some women have to work. Some women choose to stay at home with their children and some don't get a choice. Creating these false walls and comparing apples with oranges doesn't put food on the table or get the children ready for school. It just makes some of us feel a little bit worse.

I don't know about you, but I really don't have time for all that. I have a Hubbie, a son and a cat to take care of. 

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Hear Hear - the search for the perfect earphones

cartoon woman listening to music through headphones This blog post started out as a conversation on Twitter with my fellow Croydon Radio presenter Janet. She was bemoaning the poor workmanship of Apple earphones and the tinny sound leakage that haunts all users of public transport. If you've been on a tram, bus or train you will have heard the familiar and annoying "tsch tsch tsch" of someone else's music. I know this because I am pathalogical in my wish to avoid inflicting my music on anyone else.

When I was a teenager with my first Sony Walkman I used to sit in the back of my parents' car listening to Tracey Chapman using headphones - you remember those ones with foam pads the size of a coaster ? - and they never knew I couldn't hear them talking to me as there was no tell tale sound coming from the back of the car.

Now we have competing sounds from one end of the tram to the other and it's not all teens with noisy tunes in some cases it's grown ups too !

For my own part I use earphones to listen to downloaded programmes rather than music these days. However, I have an issue with the earphones. I don't use the ones that Apple make as they are so incredibly uncomfortable and keep falling out of my ears. Hubbie has bought me some 'Marshmallow' ones that are a fetching shade of purple, but they are also very painful to wear so I can't use them for too long. I've long since stopped listening to music while running as the only earphones that would stay in place are ones with a bit that goes all round the ear and they look awful and don't really work all that well either. I want some with good sound quality, comfortable fit and that allow for some movement. If they fall out of my ears as soon as I stand up they're no good to me. If they look cool as well, well that's a bonus :o)

large pad headphones Then yesterday my friend Neil posed a question on Facebook asking if it's just him who gets through earphones like other people get through toothbrushes (my words not his). In fact built-in obsolescence is a pet peeve of mine and shoddy earphones or dodgy wires have been an issue in the past when I used to have to replace my headphones regularly because I listened to music on the move every day. It's the sheer usage that requires we use better hearing apparatus isn't it ? I've seen men (it's always men in my experience) wearing massive headphones plugged into an ipad or iphone so that we all know just how seriously they take their movies / music. Having said that I am considering asking for a pair for Christmas.

Of course what we're all doing when we put our earphones in and switch the music / movies on is tuning out the world around us. A few weeks ago I was taking the train home as usual. An elderly man had moved aside to let me sit by the window and I was about to plug myself into my ipad to watch a sitcom. Then the man started to talk to me. He told me he was travelling back from up North where he'd been visiting the mining town where his grandfather had lived and worked. He was delayed so wasn't going to get home to Worthing until well after 9 o'clock now. I discreetly put my earphones away in my handbag and turned to listen to him and I noticed that a few passengers were giving me and him funny looks. One young woman was half smiling in a pitying way as if feeling sorry for me. Then as our journey progressed I noticed that a few people stopped listening to the sound in their ears and instead they were looking at Peter and listening to him as intently as I was. By the time we got to my stop most of the carriage was captivated by him and when he said sorry for being slow to stand up I reassured him no one minded and there was nothing to rush for as we were all more than happy for him to get up in his own time. I thanked Peter for talking to me and waved bye to him before I made my way to the tram stop with a huge smile on my face. Just this once we all chose to unplug and listen to a real person and not close off into our own private world.
old man and young boy sitting on a bench in a busy station

For the times when I do want to plug in and zone out this is an appeal for some recommendations for good headphones.

If you have tried and loved any headphones / earphones do tell me all about them and hopefully I can find the perfect fit for my funny ears :o) 

Monday, 12 August 2013

The £20,000 question… how would I spend it ?

Wow, so you get asked how you'd spend £20k and does the brain start doing cartwheels or what ? I have at turns thought, a new car for the family, a new kitchen, rebuild the garage, a school fund for my son and so much more besides. It has taken time and some consideration but I've managed to come up with what I think is a definitive idea of how I'd spend £20k - given the chance - there has been some deliberation so bear with me please.

sports themed boy's bedroom Firstly we've never decorated our son's bedroom as I didn't want to choose a theme only for him to change his mind later. When we lived in our old house his room was our spare room so it has floor to ceiling fitted wardrobes. In this house his room has lots of walls in neutral magnolia and I feel bad about not having decorated now as he does have some interests including sports, and transport. My bedroom had Barnaby the Bear wallpaper - I loved him when I was about 3 - until I was around 12 and my sisters' room had clowns on the carpet (which was a bit unsettling when I moved back in after Uni and had to use their bedroom). As the boy is going to be 3 in a few weeks I think I have a good idea of the kind of room he'd like now and he will certainly tell us if it's not to his liking. 

I'd also take a portion of the money and distribute it to a few charities that mean something to us. We have friends and loved ones who have been affected by cancer so I'd donate to Marie Cure Cancer Care and Macmillan Nurses. The list is endless, but some others I'd love to give to include; British Heart Foundation, Diabetes UK, British Kidney Patient Association and Great Ormond Street Hospital.  I know it would be small sums, but having worked in the charity sector I know how much any amount can mean to a charity. It's also nice to be able to make a donation without having to dress up as a fairy and run 5k or jump out of a plane. 

So finally to the big spend part. We've talked about taking our boy on holiday and have some destinations in mind. With the thick end of £20k (what's left after the bedroom and charity donations) I'd pay off enough bills and mortgage so we could take 2 months off work and go on an extended holiday. As our boy hasn't started school yet it would mean we could go on a long break and see a bit of the world with our little traveller. It's the round the world trip that I never got to do in my twenties (don't ask it makes me cross to talk about it). 

Golden Gate Bridge We'd start off in San Francisco - which we love - and Hubbie can take the boy to watch a baseball game featuring his team, the Giants. I love the ocean and when we went on a road trip before we were married we had a wonderful time in California where we have friends who kindly put us up and gave us great tips for our first US visit. This time we could stay in an apartment and hire a car so we can take the boy to the Golden Gate Bridge and visit Fisherman's Wharf where he can see the seals sunbathing on the pier and ride the amphibious vehicle that's like the duck bus in London. If we took a road trip along the coast we could take him to San Jose, Santa Monica and some other lovely places that we've been to and liked including Carmel-by-Sea where Clint Eastwood was once the mayor. If we went during the right season I might even be able to go skiing at Lake Tahoe which would be fab and I could introduce my boy to his first experience of the white stuff too. 

From here we'd pop over to Hawaii so we could learn to surf and I can stalk search for Steve McGarrett  from Hawaii 5-0. While there me and Hubbie can renew our wedding vows on the beach and watch the sunset on a white sand beach that we've seen on so many tv shows. It is a close run thing between Hawaii and Argentina actually as Hubbie loves Buenos Aires so if he could take the little man to watch Boca Juniors he'd be a very happy man indeed. I would love to catch up with my lovely yoga friend Rebecca who lives there with her hubbie and gorgeous baby boy who I've not met yet. 

suba diving with schools of fishNext on the itinerary is going round the back of the world to Australia where we have family and friends in places as far apart as Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth. I'd also like to visit Sydney - well why not if you're there anyway ? It has been years since I've been scuba diving so if I could find a location where it was undertaken in a responsible and eco-friendly environment (rather than the Great Barrier Reef which is all but dead now from being over handled) I'd love to go diving. I'd pop in on my friends Nichola and Hannah who are both POMs who live there now and we could visit Hubbie's Auntie Joan who was a £10 POM fifty years ago and has lived there ever since. 

Our last stop would be India. Of course as soon as my family know we're on the continent we have to visit them so we'd take our boy to meet all of my cousins, aunties and uncles for the first time. He'll get spoiled and fussed beyond belief and if he doesn't already feel like a movie star he will once he's been to Bangalore !! Our actual final destination, however, would be Kerala and specifically Isola Di Cocca or Island of Coconuts, an ayurvedic resort. I can practice yoga every morning at sunrise and the boys can swim and play by the pool all day. There are boats that take you along the backwaters to the lovely places to eat and relax and it's a haven of peace and relaxation. The perfect way to end our special family time together. 

If I had £20k this is how I'd love to spend it. On a once in a lifetime holiday for my family, a new bedroom for my boy and some money for charities. If there was anything left over for a new cooker, well that wouldn't be such a bad thing would it ? 

This post is an entry for BritMums #Spend20K Challenge sponsored by The National Lottery, with more ways to win more money on the new Lotto game. Find out more about new Lotto, which starts in October, here –

#Spend20K challenge badge with National Lottery

Friday, 9 August 2013

Friday I'm in pain… I mean love

everyone deserves good tea I'm celebrating Friday today. Well actually I'm showing gratitude that we've all made it to Friday in one piece - which has been no mean feat I assure you ! Now let me say up front I love my son. He is the apple of my eye, the beat of my heart, a precious gift, yada yada yada. That is a given. So what I say is by way of illustration and not a statement of intent.

You may have noticed I've been a bit quiet on the blogging front this last few days. If you did notice - aw bless you and thanks. If you didn't - well, how self-involved are you ? So we've all made it to the end of the week - albeit exhausted, aching and generally feeling like you do when you get to the end of a really long run on a hot day. I haven't had a night of unbroken sleep since last week and if my son says, "Mummy stop shouting" one more time in response to my shouting "Just listen will you ?" I will probably lose my mind completely. He hasn't been this restless at night since he was a newborn and had sleep feeds. Now it's a shouted demand for a drink or needing to use the toilet. By the time he greets us with a cheery "good morning" at 6am I'm only just settling down after the latest expedition.

I read a blog post by another parent whose child is being a bit 'challenging' at the moment so I think it might be something in the air. Mine is generally grumpier and more belligerant than usual and as a result so am I. I would have said it's the school holidays but his nursery is still open and his routine hasn't changed so it can't be that. Unless he's making a stand against not getting a summer break in which case he knows far too much. I have seriously considered giving him to the rag and bone man when he passes by (yes we do have them in Croydon still) only he hasn't been by lately and I'm not sure how I'd explain the absence to Hubbie. The boy has no idea how close he's come to becoming a Junior Steptoe.

I have needed things to cheer me up this week and thankfully there have been a few, so I thought I'd share them:

  • On Monday a nice man knocked on the door and delivered a bundle of Twinings goodies which I had won on Twitter. How very civilised. The tins look pretty and it's always nice to have delicious tea isn't it ? 

Basket of apples

  • On Tuesday evening I went into the garden and picked some apples from the trees in our garden. The same trees that were completely bare last year. I haven't even come close to finishing picking and I have a basket full already. That's a lot of apple crumble, Eve's pudding and tarte tatin - I don't hear the boys complaining though.

    Alan Partridge with North Norfolk Digital mug in hand
  • Wednesday was date night and we went to watch Alan Partridge Alpha Papa - it was very funny indeed and we had a great time. I laughed and laughed. I also found out that I'd won a goodie bag of Alan Partridge movie stuff from Vue cinemas which was a nice surprise. If I can hide it from Hubbie I might pop some of the goodies into his birthday bundle of pressies in a few months time.

adult and child toilets in one cubicle
  • Today I had my day with the boy and we went to a recently opened store on Purley Way called Kiddicare. While we were there I needed the loo so I took him with me - they frown upon leaving your children running around and touching toys apparently. When we got into the cubicle we saw these:

child and adult height sinks
  • That is the single most wonderful bit of thinking about parents with small children that I've seen in a long time. We all know that cubicles are always too small and trying to get a child onto the loo and going yourself are near impossible. Here is the solution - big and small loos. Then when we went to wash our hands there were side by side sinks at different heights and my son actually washed his hands without any fuss at all. I think we might have to live there.
So we're here at the end of the week and I have almost no voice, my body hurts and we have Grandparents visiting tomorrow so I might just spend the day in bed while they entertain each other and the boy. If you have more than one child to entertain this summer holiday I sympathise with you. I have no idea how you manage and I admire you more than I can say. I know it isn't much, but I'm giving you my smile today - I have enough good fortune to spare :o)

smile slogan: If you see a person without a smile, give them yours. credit: Zig Ziglar.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

24 hours - six conversations - one Mum

1. Me & Hubbie: 

Me: I think I'll take the boy swimming in the morning - they have a family fun swim that he might like 
Hubbie: Hmm Hmm 
Me: (assuming he's not listening) Ok I'll see how he is in the morning then

2. Me, The boy & Hubbie:

Me: Shall we go swimming then ? 
The Boy: No thanks (goes back to watching Peppa Pig) 
Me: Ok let's call Daddy and see how he's doing at work shall we ?
The boy: <shrugs>
(Call Hubbie using speaker)
Me: Hello how is your morning going ? 
Hubbie: Not too bad... I thought you were going swimming ?
Me: We decided to stay at home due to the thunder and lightning outside
The Boy: I want to go swimming please
Me: <through gritted teeth> Ok thanks for that then Daddy
Hubbie: Oops, sorry

3. Me & The Lifeguard:

Me: Isn't it family fun swim this morning ?
Lifeguard: No the timetable changed, it's a swimming crash course today
Me: Oh
The Boy: I want to go swimming Mummy
Me: Sorry sweetie, not today
The Boy: I want to go swimming
Me: I know, I'm sorry. Let's do something else sweetie

4. Me & The Boy: 

The Boy: Mummy, I want to sit on your lap
Me: Ok sweetie, oh you do feel hot I think you have a temperature
The Boy: I need Calpol
Me: Maybe you do. Let me see
The Boy: I'm not well
Me: I know son. Let's just take it easy and get some rest today

5. The Boy & Hubbie: 

Hubbie: You're my best boy 
The boy: You're my best friend

6. Me & The Cat:

Me: It's a thankless job this being a Mum business
The Cat: Feed me

I need a holiday !!

Thursday, 1 August 2013

I'll pack a bucket and spade - oh and a wetsuit too !!

My lovely blogger pal Louise copied me into her bucket list blog post where she once again reminded me that she is the only person I know who has ever built an igloo from scratch in her own back garden. Seriously, that is some hardcore making dreams come true stuff right there ! It made me wrack my brain to think about what I'd really love to have that cost next to nothing and what I'd do if money was no object. Here's what I came up with: 

silhouettes of family holding hands
My budget bucket list item is to have a photo of all of my family members at once. It doesn't have to be a professional photo, just one that features my parents, Hubbie's parents, our brothers and sisters, us and the boy. We don't have any photos of all of us so it would be lovely to get one taken. Any time we have a family get-together someone can't make it so it's not been possible up until now and as our boy gets older I'd like to have a memento of all of his uncles, aunties and grandparents. Of course there is every likelihood that someone will be looking the wrong way (Mother-in-law) or will be fussing with their clothes (my Mum) or making a strange face (any and all of our siblings) or midway through start running off resulting in a blur for a body (our boy, always our boy). Still it'd be nice to have and seeing as everyone has a camera on their phone, tablet and some people even have actual cameras (I know, weird huh ?) it can't be that impossible can it ? 

surfing  inside a waveMy "break the bank" bucket list item is to go to Hawaii with Hubbie and the boy and learn to surf and relive my favourite scenes from Hawaii 5-O. Now those of you who know me a little bit (or have read earlier posts) will know that I have a crush on Steve McGarrett - the new one, not Jack Lord, although I'm not casting any aspersions on his attractiveness of course. I have also always wanted to learn to surf and even paid a deposit to do a beginners surfing course on Fistral Beach in Cornwall over ten years ago that I bottled out of doing at the last minute. Since then I've watched friends having lessons on a beach near Swansea and I've thought about doing a course myself, but nothing has come of it. If I was in Hawaii I'd *have* to learn to surf. I mean it's a cultural thing isn't it ? Also, I have a teeny tiny wetsuit for the boy and it won't get used if we don't take him to learn to surf and that would be such a waste. I did also mention to Hubbie that if we did go to Hawaii for our tenth wedding anniversary we could renew our wedding vows - don't judge, it's a thing alright ? I can just see us on a beach wearing a grass-skirt and coconut bra (and that's just him !). Of course now I've actually applied for a passport for the boy it'll make it easier to take him on holiday. I'd love for him to have some amazing memories of learning to surf 'somewhere exotic off the telly.' If I bump into Alex O'Loughlin we're there, well that's just a bonus isn't it ?

This post is my entry into a competition with Money Supermarket - if you want to join in too you've got one more day - get cracking !! 

I thought I'd also share with a couple of blogger pals who have sufficient imagination to write an exciting bucket list: (he would write his wearing a monocle and a hat - probably) (her list would probably feature Adam Ant) (she'd craft her list in some creative and amazing way, probably using felt)