Wednesday, 30 December 2009

"Mummy, why is Cinderella marrying a woman?"

'Mummy, why is Cinderella marrying a woman?'
'But I thought she had a wicked stepmother and that her Father was dead.'
'Who is Buttons anyway?'
'But they're supposed to be ugly sisters, not ugly brothers.'

Hmm, yes, quite.

Remind me next time we go to a Pantomime not to read the 'real' story ten times in a row just so they know it well before they go. It only leads to confusion. Especially when you're five and three.

But despite a few, erm, storyline setbacks, our trip to see Cinderella at the Pavilion Theatre in Worthing starring Todd Carty as Buttons was perhaps the biggest treat the girls have ever had. (I know, I know. We obviously lead an insular life devoid of any form of excitement whatsoever).

But seriously, in a world of television, DVD and even cinema, to actually experience singing, dancing and real-life audience interaction was so novel that for most of the performance all they could do was sit, wide-eyed in amazement.

Strangely though, and I still can't quite work out why, because I really, really wanted to enjoy it, I found it all a bit tiresome. Was it the stage-school over-acting of the leading lady? Or the long drawn-out dance scenes which seemed a tad irrelevant? Or the fact that our seats were so far from the stage that my, ahem, less than 20/20 vision couldn't appreciate the full magnificence of the stage and all its theatrics?

Like I said, I'm not really sure.

To be honest, I spent more time staring in wonder at the two girls staring in wonder at all that was going on in front of them, than I did staring at the performance itself. Their little faces were transfixed, their eyes enormous and unblinking, their hands siumltaneously gripping their red velvet seats and at the same time pointing to the villain. For five-year-old Renée, the chance to shout out 'He's behind you' was taken at every available opportunity, to such an extent that by the end of the night she could hardly speak. And when a real pony was conjured by one wave of the fairy Godmother's magic wand, I thought Renée would hyperventilate with happiness.

'Was it really magic Mummy? Did the Fairy Godmother really do that?'

For me, it was this child-like delight which was the highlight of the evening. Just to see my two little girls laughing, giggling and screaming with outrage was enough to make me want to take them back again and again.

And when the announcement came just as the curtains had finally drawn to a close that Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs would be shown next year, it was a look of delight that filled their little faces.

'Mummy, can we come next year, pleeeeeeeeeeeeease?'

'Yes little ones, of course we can.'

I'll just have to do my very best to get seats nearer the front. Perhaps then we'll all be able to enjoy it.

This post is for The Great Panto Review 2009 hosted by the amazing Linda Jones from Have a Lovely Time. Thanks so much to Worthing Theatres for the tickets. Cinderella runs until Sunday 3rd January and tickets are priced between £12 for concessions to £36 for a family. Further details can be found on their website.

Please consider donating to NACCPO (National Alliance of Childhood cancer Parent Organisations) which is a very worthy charity supported by the Great Panto Review.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

The one where I am never invited round for wine and mince pies ever again

I think I may have foot in mouth disease.

Or some such ridiculous ailment which causes me to regret almost everything that comes out of my mouth the instant it is uttered.

After last week's debacle I thought I may be on the road to recovery.

But no. Apparently not.

Let me explain.

You see I'm not really a Christmassy sort of person. I think I may be in denial about the whole event. Two days away you say? Still plenty of time to buy presents surely...

In fact, when I was 19, instead of spending Christmas with my family I ran away to Thailand for a month and sat on a beach on my own. My brother put a photo of me in my place at the table and laid a party hat on top of it.

It runs deep you see. And I still don't think I've been quite forgiven.

Before I became a mother I had this image that I would tell my children the truth about Father Christmas. Why would I want to lie to them? I mean, how awful would it be for them to love and trust their mother only for them to find out that the man with the white beard and red outfit never even existed and that I'd known all along?

But then when I became a mother it all changed.

Of course it did.

But then everything does, doesn't it?

So now I help them choose what biscuits to leave by the fireplace and share their excitement when they wake up in the morning to find that two out of the three have been eaten, whilst subtley wiping crumbs from the corner of my mouth. And I read them stories about The Night Before Christmas and skip the pages where the little girl doubts that Father Christmas exists. I mean, I wouldn't want to put any funny thoughts into their head, would I?

I love their little faces and the hopes and dreams that fill them.

As every mother does.


Cut to this afternoon where I'm sharing wine and mince pies with a friend.

Her eight-year-old daughter approaches us.

"Are you excited about Christmas?" I ask.

She nods.

"My favourite part was always getting the stocking from Father Christmas", I continued.

"Do you think Father Christmas will still bring me presents even though I'm grown-up?" She asked with a wry smile (or so I thought).

"Of course", I replied. "Father Christmas brought me presents until I was 18, even though I knew he didn't exist.

Her eyes grew wider than I even thought possible.

"You mean he really doesn't exist?"

Oh fuckity fuck............

THE seminal moment in a child's life, ruined by yours truly.

I think I shall go back to hating Christmas again. Or failing that, stick my head under the bed covers and not come out until January 1st.

Now there's a thought...

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Be careful what you say...

It's a well-known fact that you must never tell children what you really think. Or in fact, you must never reveal the full truth about so many things, whether it be that Father Christmas couldn't possibly deliver presents to so many children in such a short space of time, or that the scribble they have so expertly penned isn't quite as artistic as your loud exclamations made it seem.

Our job as parents is to protect our children from the harsh realities of life. When the saucepan lid is dropped on our un-slippered feet, the piercing protestation which we would once have uttered with great applomb, suddenly becomes,


for fear of inappropriate repetition at precisely the wrong moment.

But on occasion, all our good intentions become unravelled in a millisecond. And I'm not talking about the moment that our beloved toddler shouts 'BUGGER' when they drop their rattle in the supermarket. These moments are pure genius and are to be cherished, I can assure you.

This one, however, is not.

For the past couple of weeks Renée has been uncharacteristically quiet. And for a child whose most common ailment is a touch of verbal diarrhoea, this has come as something of a shock, if not a welcome relief.

I initially put it down to a combination of a cold and end-of-term fatigue. But on closer investigation it seemed that something else entirely was responsible.

"Mummy, I used to have two best friends", she muttered quietly a couple of days ago.

"That's right darling, you did." I was absentmindedly stirring the pasta and it took a while to register.

"Did? You mean you don't any more?"

She looked down at her feet and wiped away something invisible on her dress.

"Now I've only got one."

"What do you mean darling?" I stopped stirring the pasta, knelt down in front of her and raised her chin a little, just enough for her to look at me.

What I saw almost broke my heart.

A quivering bottom lip, red-rimmed eyes already beginning to fill with tears and a tiny five-year-old totally distraught at the injustice of life.

It transpires that one of Renée's best friends, Miss A, has told Renée that she doesn't want to be her friend any more, that she doesn't like her and that if she does anything wrong, Miss A willl go straight to the teacher and tell on her.

Now I know it's commonplace for friends to fall out with each other, especially when they're so young (I mean, Hell, it even happens when we're adults), but when you have a sobbing little girl in your arms, all your motherly instincts go into overdrive and you'll say anything to make it better.

Of course, what I should have said was this.

"Try not to be sad darling. I'm sure she doesn't mean it. Find someone else to play with and she'll want to be your friend again soon."

What I said instead was this.

"Well that's just typical isn't it? Well, I never liked Miss A. She's very mean. In fact, she's horrible and I never could see why you liked her. And I definitely won't be inviting her round to this house again. You have plenty of other friends who I like and we'll invite them round instead. Miss A is mean and horrible and I don't like her."

The good thing is, it made Renée feel much better and her tears soon went away.

The bad thing is, I hadn't really thought much further than that. That is, until I picked Renée up from school the following day.

"How was school darling?" I asked.

"It was ok", she replied. "I told Miss A that you didn't like her, you thought she was horrible and that she's not invited to our house ever again. She said she was going to tell her Mummy".


Now I'm not quite sure why I didn't think she'd repeat it, but we all live and learn. I certainly won't be making that mistake again.

Now all that's left for me to do is to patch up yet another friendship.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

I'm sorry I pull your hair - I do love you really

This post was inspired by Josie from Sleep is for the Weak and her amazing Writing Workshops. If you haven't already taken part then do pay her a visit.

Not only is she a fantastic writer, but she's also an amazing person and I urge to to read each and every post she writes.

So here we go. Writing prompt number 4. Put yourself in somebody else's shoes...

To my big sister Renée,

You know when I tell you that I don't love you and then I hit you? Well, you know I don't mean it really? And I don't mean to bite you either, or pull your hair. You know I love you really, don't you? Sometimes I think I love you even more than Mummy. But then Mummy gives me sweeties and I think that maybe I love Mummy more.

But I think you're my best friend. Am I your best friend too? I hope I am because I feel happy when I'm with you. Mummy says that best friends make you feel happy and share things with you. And you share everything with me, even your olives and grapefruit and broccoli which you pass to me when Mummy isn't looking. That's when I know you must be my best friend.

And when you're not there I feel I bit sad. Mummy tries to cheer me up and read me stories, but it doesn't feel the same because she always has lots of other things to do and she gets cross when I want her to read the same book over and over again. You never get cross with me. And I miss you when you're at school. I try not to miss you too much because I'm a big girl and I can do big girl things on my own, but you can do everything just a bit better than me.

You can reach the light in the bathroom so when I need to do a pee pee I don't have to sit in the dark. I don't like being in the dark. Except when we're lying in bed together under the covers pretending to be monsters. I like the dark then. Because I know you're there with me. And I know that if the monsters do come, you'll make sure they won't hurt me. Because you're my big sister and I know that you love me.

Sometimes I wish you didn't have to go to school and we could stay at home every day and play monsters like we used to. But I know that when I'm an even bigger girl, like you, then I'll go to your school too. Sometimes when Mummy takes you into the playground in the morning, I want to come as well. But Mummy won't let me and it makes me cross. And when Mummy tries to stop me from following you I think maybe I don't love Mummy at all.

Every day I wait for you to come home and I try to be patient. Really I do. But when you come home with a friend it makes me a little bit sad because I want you to play with me and not them. I try to be grown-up and play the games that you play but I don't know my alphabet yet and I don't understand it when you start counting in big numbers. And when you don't want to play Mummies and Babies it makes me cross because we always used to play that together before you went to big school. And then I think if I pull your hair and bite you you'll know how cross I am and maybe you'll want to play with me again.

I'm sorry if it makes you cry. And I'm sorry if it leaves a red mark on your arm. But I just want to be with you. I want you to be my best friend forever. Thank you for loving me even when I hurt you. When I'm big and grown-up like you, maybe I can look after you too.

I love you.

Your little sister, Edie.

Monday, 7 December 2009

What does it mean to be a friend?

The other day I was apologising to a friend for having to cancel our much-anticipated, long-overdue get-together. The children were ill, hubby was away working and well, it just wasn't going to happen.

The thing is, she wasn't surprised.

"Oh, you're always cancelling", she said. "I never expect you to keep a date these days".

I should have been affronted, possibly even hurt. But I wasn't. Because it's true and she's right. I am always cancelling. I do always let people down. And despite endeavouring to make more of an effort every time it happens, I still don't seem to be able to do anything about it. I promised one friend I'd make plans to see them, ooh, about a year ago. I keep meaning to call another friend who's had a baby, but can't quite find the right moment. The list is, unfortunately, endless.

My friend went on, obviously having already spent time thinking about the likes of me.

"Pearl Lowe once said that you can only ever have two out of the three - friends, family and work. I'm still trying to challenge that and have all three."

"Crikey", I thought, "I'm struggling to have one..."

But it did make me think. Can we really have all three? Once children enter the equation, isn't it too much to ask for? Why do I always let people down? Why can't I keep a date? Is it just me?

And then it got me thinking about friendship and what it all means anyway. What does being a friend mean? Does it mean always being there for someone when they need you (not entirely practical when they're curled up on the sofa in an emotional mess needing a hug and you're a two-hour drive away wiping bottoms and changing nappies)? Or does it mean having had shared experiences? Knowing someone inside out? Enjoying their company? Or loving someone despite all their faults?

I'll tell you why I'm asking.

A very good friend of mine, (not the one above with a penchance for quoting Pearl Lowe) - Edie's godmother in fact, has recently decided that she doesn't want to be friends with me anymore. I know, I know. She's obviously completely crazy.

When I pressed her on her reasons why, she said,

"You're just a crap friend and you've cancelled the last four times we were meant to meet for what I can only see as a better offer".

A better offer? Well, possibly if you count having ill children, an absent husband and complete and utter exhaustion as better offers, then she may have a point.

I apologised, told her how sorry I was, offered to drive the hour and a half it takes to get to her house once my husband was around so he can pick up the children from nursery and school, but no. It seems I've let her down once too often.

I am, obviously, gutted, but given my circumstances, I really don't know how to redess the balance.

Here's the sob story.

My husband works away more often than he is at home. I never know when he's going to be away until a few days before. I have two small children who are 100% dependant on me. I have no family in the vicinity who can help out with childcare even in an emergency. What this means in terms of friendship is that even the best laid plans have to be cancelled if the children need me.

Does this make me a 'crap' friend?

I like to think it doesn't. And that when I do see friends I'm genuinely pleased to see them. I'm happy if they're doing well, caring if they're not. I'll offer advice, cake, cups of tea, just an ear. I'm interested to hear what they're doing. But I can't be there all the time. And that is no indication of how good a friend they are.

That's just the way it is.

And I'm sorry if that's not enough.


And just as a quick endnote - apologies to those of you who have commented on my previous two posts - I have been ridiculously busy at home and haven't had time to reply. But, I will do.

See - I'm a crap blogging friend as well.


I will make more of an effort. Just as soon as my children have grown-up and left home...

Monday, 30 November 2009

Gorillas in the rain

How appropriate that my monumental 100th post should be where I write about the BMB get-together and about all the wonderful bloggers who I met yesterday at London Zoo.

How inappropriate that the weather is so hideously shit that it seems to have zapped all my energy and inspiration and I don't feel like writing about it at all. In fact, all I want to do is sit and eat Marmite on toast, chain drink cups of tea and be particulalrly morose.

So I'll keep it short.

Thank you to Susanna at A Modern Mother for organising the event, to London Zoo for hosting it and to SuperSavvyMe for sponsoring it. The girls were particularly pleased with their Dora the Explorer goody bags!

It was really, really good to speak to those of you I could...

Nixdminx, Wahm-Bam, MTFF, Cafebébé, Potty Mummy, Alpha Mummy, a20Somethingmum, TheRubbishDiet, That Girl, OMGMummy, Surprised Zoe, Glowstars, Perfectly Happy Mum, SandyCalico, Clareybabble, Zooarchaeologist, VioletPosy, Bambino Goodies and Soph4Soph.

...and if I missed you, then I apologise - I couldn't escape the pull of seeing Gorillas in the rain, or at least the pull of two pairs of damp little hands dragging me out of the door.

Here's to the next get-together, my next 100 posts and some bloody sunshine.

Friday, 27 November 2009

A bit of colour

This week has been horrible, for one reason or another. Now I don't have to tell you just how much I love my children because you hear it all the time, but even I am beginning to get a little child-weary. If I told you that today is the fourth day that Renée is off sick from school, then things might become a little clearer. And what with a gale-force wind outside making it almost impossible to even open the front door, then you can imagine just how wonderful it's been at home.

NOT. At all.

So in light of this I'm going to try to cheer myself up a little by introducing some colour to this post.
And I've also completely changed the subject because I'm already bored of moaning.

So this is it.
One canvas.

Five paints.

One paintbrush.

Eleven children.

And lots of wipes.

A little something we did at Edie's third birthday party last week. If you're ever stuck for ideas for what to do at parties, then this gets my vote every time. Not only is it a really fun thing for the children to do, but it's also fantastic reminder of who your child's friends were once upon a birthday.
Oh yeah, and it looks beautiful on their bedroom walls.
Now children please get better for the BMB meet-up at London Zoo on Sunday!

Monday, 23 November 2009

To have a sick child...

Before I became a Mother I used to cry at programmes like Animal Hospital or Vets in Practice as I imagined my poor cat Chloe in some dire emergency that required me having to choose between her life and death. Back then, as I welcomed the black ball of fur into my bed and gazed into her beautiful green eyes, listening to her calming purr, any harm to Chloe was the absolute worst thing that could ever have happened. And even when my Mother warned me that once I had children poor Chloe the cat would be relegated from my affections, I found it hard to believe.

Unfortunately for Chloe, my Mother was right. Thirteen years on and Chloe still demands attention, but with every child produced she has gone one further down the pecking order.

These days I no longer cry at Vets in Practice. Understandably, it's always the children's sob stories that make me well up. That and Extreme Makeover, Home Edition, of course. Oh yeah, and I did go through rather a lot of tissues when I took the girls to see Disney's 'UP' in 3-D, although that could have been to do with the odd focus required for the 3-D glasses and nothing to do with the perfect marriage and love the old couple had. No nothing to do with that whatsoever. *Sob sob*.

Anyway, that is not the point of this post. The point of this post relates in part to the bit where I cry at children suffering hardship.

When you become a parent the need to protect your child is overwhelming. It hits you with such a force that you'd be forgiven for thinking that you were suffering from some middle ear infection and needed to spend a few days lying flat in bed. I first felt it when Renée was a day old and the paediatrician at the hospital had come to perform a heel-prick test. Never one to hold back her emotions, even as a newborn, baby Renée sobbed and shook until my heart was literally broken into a thousand tiny pieces. Or at least that's how it felt. And while I held her writhing little body, I remember looking at her hysterical face, purple with rage and discomfort and thinking that I would do anything to take her pain away. As corny as it sounds, at that very moment, I knew I would give my life for hers.

Fortunately it was just a heel-prick test and we both recovered from the trauma.

Six months later, she returned to spend a few nights in hospital. It was nothing major, as it turned out, just a small kidney infection, but it had involved her turning blue and convulsing, me on my own, calling NHS Direct who in turn called an ambulance and the two of us taking a trip to children's A&E in complete panic.

At the time, Brighton's Children's hospital was a decrepit old buidling held together by bits of string and lots of Blu Tack. The care for the children was good, but for the parents of the children, not so good. As I was still breastfeeding at the time I needed to stay near Renée at night. Unfortunately all they could offer us was a cot for Renée and a tatty old upright chair for me. For three nights I slept next to her cot on two chairs pushed together. I probably would have opted for the floor, but it didn't look all that clean.

It was a truly horrific time. My husband was away working and I was a new Mother, all on my own. As I held Renée's limp and bruised hand and tried to stop her from pulling out the tubes up her nose and the drip in her arm, I felt overwhelmed with the responsibilty of being a parent. A parent of an ill child. Not surprisingly, I cried. I cried quite a lot as it happens.

Luckily, Renée recovered. As did Edie a couple of years later when she spent New Year's Eve in the very same hospital at just six weeks old with Bronchiolitis.

My little ones have been lucky. Unfortunately, not every child is as lucky and when I received an e-mail from Emily at Brits in Bosnia asking for bloggers to post about the single that the X-Factor finalists have produced which is raising funds for Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital, I wanted to help. Unless you've spent a night in hospital with a sick child you can't imagine how truly horrendous it is. And you also can't imagine just how much care is needed to provide round-the-clock assistance for every child.

If you click on this link then you'll be able to see a story about a very, very ill child who Great Ormond Street Hospital have helped save.

And if you click on this link then you'll be able to see the video that is hoping to raise funds for the hospital.

And finally, if you click on this link then you can help donate funds by purchasing the single itself.

And now all that's left for me to do is to go and hug my children and thank every power that be that they are happy and healthy.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Happy Birthday my darling girl

Today my darling Edie has turned three, although the poor mite is hardly aware of the fact since we were in such a rush for nursery this morning, we didn't have time to open any presents (which is just as well because there weren't any). A fact not helped by nursery woman asking her what presents she had received...

"Cards", Edie replied.

"Cars"? nursery woman asked quizically.

"Cards", I repeated. "Er we're saving presents for later".

"Did you have cake for breakfast"? nursery woman blundered on.

"No, cake's for later too", I insisted.

And that's how I left it as I then dashed off to the supermarket to buy cake and presents.

Edie will never know.

And Edie, my darling, if you ever read this post in years to come and think that Mummy didn't love you, then please continue reading and you'll know for certain that that's not the case.

Little Edie, you are the most divine creature anyone has ever met. You are stunningly beautiful (of course everyone says that you look just like me...cough)! But not only are truly captivating. Katharine's Mummy, Veronica, says that you're the only other child, aside from her own, who she feels unconditional love for, which is just as well because I have noticed you hit her quite a few times.

But, you see, that's the thing. Despite the fact that you, er hit and er, kick and pull hair and bite and generally try to do a very good job of turning people against you, it just doesn't work. Everybody loves you, Edie, not least your Mummy and your Papa and your big sister Renée.

Happy Birthday little one. You are now officially very grown-up. And don't forget, very grown-up girlies don't need to bite any more, or hit, or throw tantrums for that matter. Only two year-olds do that...

Monday, 16 November 2009

Babysitter found - thanks to the blogosphere!

Ok, so I can't keep you hanging on any longer...

We found a babysitter.

And we did go to the party.

Whoop, whoop, air punch, dancing around the room, etc, etc. But not so loudly this time as my head is still feeling rather fragile. And yes I know it's not even the morning after, but that should give you some indication of the fun we had because despite not making it to the stage of table dancing with bottles of vodka, I did sit and munch my way through rather a lot of Chorizo in red wine, which I defy anyone not to completely adore (unless of course you're vegetarian, or you hate chorizo or, er, red wine).

Anyway, I just need to share this story with you because following the t-shirt episode, it's yet another example of how truly, truly amazing the blogosphere is.

So, if you didn't read Friday night's post, the long and short of it is that I had a huge rant about the bloody babysitter who refused to come when I told her that her boyfriend wasn't invited too.
When I woke up on Saturday morning, still without a babysitter for that evening, I read through the deluge of comments I had received - and thank you to everyone who supported me in saying that the babysitter had been in the wrong. Stragely enough my own Mother had taken rather a lot of persuasion to come round to my way of thinking and had recounted numerous occasions where boyfriends had turned up to assist babysitters when I was younger. But maybe that's just a sad indication of how times have changed. When it comes to the safety of your children, these days, cautious can never be wrong.

Anyway, amongst the comments was a bona fide offer of babysitting from a fellow blogger. Now it's not quite as random as it sounds since Karen is a friend of mine. However, it's been rather a few years since we've actually met up and thanks to Facebook we 'found' each other again. As I also publish my blog on Facebook she just so happened to come across it, read it from the very beginning and send me a lovely message saying how much she'd enjoyed it, (bless her)!!

In fact, she was so taken with the idea of blogging that the very next day she started a blog of her own - one which charts her life as a Mother of four children aged between 16 and 22, all of whom still live at home.

So not only is she a complete saint for putting up with all of them, but she's also a genuinely lovely person to have offered her services...

...of which we accepted. It wasn't exactly my preferred method of meeting up after a few years, but sometimes, just sometimes, it feels right.

So that is that.

Thanks to Karen, we went to the party. Go and check out her blog - Brighton Mum/Teenage Angst. It's a fantastic read. Thank you so much Karen - you're the best. And so is the blogosphere.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Bloody babysitter

I am cross. I am enraged, incensed, infuriated, livid and not in the least bit happy.

Ok, so it's not actually that bad because I hardly ever get that cross about anything. But if I did...if I was that sort of person, then I would be furious.

But I'm not.

I'm just mildly annoyed really.

Let me explain.

I'm going out tomorrow night.

Brief interlude here as I do a 'whoop whoop', quickly followed a lap of victory around the house.

So a friend is having a birthday party.

It starts at 7pm.

Children are invited.

Except, d'you know what? I quite fancy leaving mine at home. It may sound strange, but sometimes, just sometimes I want to be Emily. I want to stand and talk to people without being called Mummy in adult company. And I want to eat something, anything, without first having to offer it to a child. And I want to have a conversation without having to look over someone's shoulder in case Edie is falling down a flight of stairs or opening front doors or drawing on walls. And I want to take a big, deep breath and know if I hear a child whining, for once it won't be my own. And I want to dance on the table holding a bottle of vodka without fear of embarrassing my children. Ok, maybe not the last one, but hey, you never know!

Anyway, that's my little fantasy. And besides, hubby is around...and as you know, he's never around. So guess what? We've decided to go to the party together and book a babysitter.

Yay. Pause for another air punch.

Except here's the rub.

Claire from up the road can't do it because, well, she's a teenager and I think she may have a life. Kate from nursery can't do it because, erm, she has 'other plans'. Jae from nursery can't do it because she's already babysitting.

But it's all ok. Lucy from nursery can do it.

Phew. That's settled then. I think I may even have spent all day yesterday boasting (to all those who would listen) that we had secured a babysitter and we were going out.

Rookie mistake.

Because this evening Lucy texted me.

'Is it ok if I bring my other half?'

Erm, no not really. You've never actually babysat for us before. I can hardly even remember what you look like because you're from the girl's old nursery and it has been a while, and we have never met your 'other half'. Now, I'm not particularly thrilled at the prospect of paying you £6 per hour to sit and canoodle (or heaven forbid even more) on the sofa with your boyfriend. I mean, seriously, what happens when 5-year-old child wakes up wanting a glass of water only to discover babies aren't made by eating brocoli and rolling dice.

But of course I didn't say that. I thought a quick 'Sorry, but hubby not keen on the idea because we don't know your other half. But we won't be back late so I'm sure you'll have time to see him afterwards. Hope that ok.', would suffice.

Apparently not. Because this is what I received back.

'Im not sure then coz its nice 2 ave company'.

Well maybe if she hadn't written a fucking illiterate text message I might not have become so bloody angry.

'No problem, Lucy', I wrote, 'We'll find someone else. Hope you have a lovely evening with your boyfriend'.

That's me angry you see.

Except, now I can't find anyone else....

Damn it. Damn Lucy and the horse she rode in on.

I will go to the ball....

Now tell me something. Was I wrong? Should I have allowed Lucy to bring her boyfriend? Tell me I was right or I may have to cry...

Monday, 9 November 2009

So I am a Princess after all...kind of.

It's always interesting to view life through a child's eyes. For instance, when I asked Edie, back in July, what Mummy did for a job, she answered 'cauliflower'. She also said that I wasn't very good at 'eating paper' and when asked how old she thought I was she answered 'Don't know. Three?'. Like I said, it is, erm, interesting to see life from the point of view of a child.

So when I was tagged by MuddynoSugar at How I like My Coffee in the Picture Perfect Meme, I was eager, if not a tad anxious, to see how my children would draw me.

But I needn't have worried. I mean, look, I'm a Princess!

By Renée, aged 5.

But, um, she didn't stop there. Unfortunately, I am no longer a Princess, but what I can only presume is a slightly mad woman with a cat, or is it a blackbird?

By Renée, aged 5.

And, well, the pretence of being a Princess has unfortunately worn off good and proper in Edie's attempt. I can kind of detect a head and two legs though...

By Edie, aged 2.

And in an attempt to rescue my dignity, a family portrait. Note, that Mummy is, er, rather large and Papa, is, er, not...

By Renée, aged 5.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Can we make a difference?

There are various reasons why people blog. Some say it's a way of honing their writing skills, while others find it a place to let off steam in an anonymous environment. Most bloggers love the community feel of the blogosphere and have made genuine friendships across cyberspace. But perhaps the most important aspect of blogging is the feeling that you can actually make a difference, whether it be empathising with someone experiencing the same difficulties as you, or in this case, on a much wider scale.

No one will ever be able to forget Madeleine McCann, least of all her parents. It's now been two-and-a-half years since the almost 4 year old disappeared from her appartment bedroom in Portugal. And no one is any nearer to discovering what actually happened to the little girl.

I watched this video and I cried. There's nothing new in it. I've seen all the footage before, but nonetheless I still cried. As a mother of two little girls, I can't possibly even imagine the devastation that Maddie's disappearance has caused to her family.

My heart truly breaks for the McCann family. Please, somebody, somewhere, help find her.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Top Ten Children's Film Characters

Ok, so I have a huge backlog of Memes that I really need to address and since we've been away in Norfolk for the past few days, a huge backlog of just about everything. But we'll start with the memes...or least one of them.

The wonderful Linda over at You've Got Your Hands Full (who incidentally I am not in the least bit jealous of - cough - despite the fact that she's just spent a week cruising around the Caribbean) tagged me in a list of the Top Ten Movie Characters. Now seeing as it's me and I like to change things just a little bit, I thought I'd make a list of the Top Ten Children's characters instead. Besides, this is a 'Mummy' blog after all, so children are fairly relevant.

Here goes.
  1. Mathilda (played by Natalie Portman) in Leon. I just love this girl. She's amazing - beautiful, sassy, clever and cool. I wish I was her (if you forget the part about her parents and brother being killed and being pursued by a number of hitmen). We even made Renée's middle name Matilda after her. Now that's dedication!
  2. Ray Boyd (played by Jonathan Lipnicki) in Jerry Maguire. He is just the cutest, cleverest little boy ever. I want one like him.
  3. Gertie (played by Drew Barrymore) in ET. Gorgeous. And I think we're the same age, so when I first watched the film I wanted to be her too (or at least I wanted to be her friend).
  4. Velvet (played by Elizabeth Taylor) in National Velvet. When I was little my ultimate ambition was to be the first woman to win the Grand National. Unfortunately I grew too tall to be a jockey, but there will always be a place for Velvet in my heart.
  5. Bugsy (played by Scott Baio) in Bugsy Malone. Actually any of the characters in this film could be on the list, seeing as they're all children. Who can forget Tallulah or Blousy Brown? But Bugsy is still my favourite. What a dish.
  6. Annie (played by Aileen Quinn) in Annie. I don't know if it's the fact that she's just a gutsy orphan or that I never stopped singing 'The Sun'll come out tomorrow', but either way, she's on the list.
  7. Kevin (played by Macauley Culkin) in Home Alone. Too cute. Too clever. Back then.
  8. (The youngest) Jamal Malik (played by Ayush Mahed Khedekar) in Slumdog Millionaire. Anyone who sinks neck-high into poo in pursuit of his hero is worthy of a mention. And besides, he is rather cute.
  9. Anna (played by Charlotte Burke) in Paperhouse. Cult film. Cult character. I'm not normally drawn to horror films, but purely for the acting alone she has to be on the list.
  10. Billy (played by Jamie Bell) in Billy Elliot. A boy in a leotard can't escape a mention.

Just missing out were Melinda Sordino from Speak, Lyra Belacqua from His Dark Materials and Flora from The Piano.

As always, the rules of a meme are to pass it on. So I tag the following people - Laura @ Are We Nearly There Yet Mummy, Jo Beaufoix, Emily @ Brits in Bosnia, Tim @ Bringing Up Charlie and Josie @ Sleep is for the Weak. Feel free to carry on with the meme even if I haven't tagged you, or leave a comment if you think I've missed out anyone glaringly obvious.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

THE T-Shirt

There's no place quite like the Blogosphere is there? (Well, apart from the Caribbean, or Thailand or anywhere else with a bit of sun really). But you get my drift.

Just over a week ago I posted a picture of something my five-year-old daughter had written. Amongst the comments I received was a suggestion from English Mum, that it would look great as a T-Shirt, closely followed by another coment from Brighton Mum explaining the best way to do it. And while I sat back and wondered whether I had either the energy or the inclination to get off my rather lazy behind and actually do something about it, I received another e-mail. This time, it wasn't just a suggestion, but an offer.

'I can put it onto a t-shirt for you. Would you like me to?'

Erm, now let me just think about that for one milisecond.

'Yes please.'

And that's all it took. Seriously. And to think I was considering attempting to do it myself.

So, without further ado, here is THE T-Shirt.

How amazing is it? And how kind and wonderful is the person who did it for me? And all of this because of a little something called the Blogosphere.

Thank you kind people. I think I'll be sticking around for a while yet.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Yes, even more awards

So apparently I'm not Scary enough. I didn't win the 'Scary Mommy' competition and in light of that I am now miserable.

My husband has tried to cheer me up, in his typically dismissive fashion,

'Well did you really want to be scary anyway?'
'Well, no. But that's not the point. I wanted a Flip Camera'.

So in an attempt to lessen the blow, I am going to have to pull out all the awards I've been harbouring and haven't yet got round to posting....Bear with me...we could be here a while.

First up is the 'Queen of All Things Awesome' award which has been bestowed upon me by Very Bored Housewife. Thank you lovely lady. I think this will look rather wonderful on my sidebar.
The rules, as ever, are to pass it on to five other blogs which I feel are just as worthy. So, step up wonderful people, this award is just for you.

Next up is the, now infamous, Zombie Chicken award, given to me by The Wife of Bold and That Girl. Thank you my darlings. The rules for this one are as follows...

"The blogger who receives this award believes in the Tao of the zombie chicken – excellence, grace and persistence in all situations, even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. These amazing bloggers regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their inspiring words. As a recipient of this world-renowned award, you now have the task of passing it on to at least 5 other worthy bloggers. Do not risk the wrath of the zombie chickens by choosing unwisely or not choosing at all."

I hereby pass this on to the following five blogs.

Next up, it's the 'I Love Your Blog' award which has been given to me by Baking Mad Mama and Linda at You've Got Your Hands Full. Well, I love all the blogs I read, but I don't think I've passed on awards to these lovely people before, so here goes, the award is for you.

The 'I Love your Blog As much as cake' award was offered to all the readers of Clareybabbling and Life with a Little Dude, so hey, what's another one while I'm here? Thanks ladies. I hereby pass this on to the following blogs. All as yummy as cake...

Your Blog is Bloody Brilliant was given to me by 20-Something Mum. Thanks sweetie pie - and yes, it was great to meet you too. The following blogs are Bloody Brilliant too...

The penultimate award is the 'Kreativ Blogger' given to me by the wonderful Whistlejacket at Babyrambles. Thanks honey - I'm totally chuffed to have been given this...because, well since the Pom Pom and Purse-making episodes I was hoping someone might have noticed my creative side! However, the following blogs deserve this award much more than me...go and check them out for yourselves.

And Finally, I am very honoured to have received the Circle of Friends award from the ever wonderful That Girl at Forty Not Out. It's actually a huge struggle to pass it on because I genuinely feel as though I am friends with all of my fellow bloggers and I wish I could pass it on to everyone. But the following people have been here for me from the very beginning.

Island Mum of 2
Metropolitan Mum
And that concludes the award post which has taken me four whole days to compile!

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Am I a Scary Mummy?

There's a blogger from across the pond who goes by the name of Scary Mommy. Between you and me I think she's a little pussycat, but shhhhh....don't tell her I said that.

Anyhoooo, she's running a competition to see if she can find the Scariest Mommy or (Mummy) out there.

So, never one to shy away from a challenge, especially one as fabulous as this, I have decided to throw down the gauntlet...

But, firstly, you may ask, what defines 'Scary'?

Well, Scary Mommy herself defines it as...

....a mother who doesn’t leave the house wearing lipstick at all times.

So, yep, that'll be me then. Don't actually own any lipstick. I know, I know. It always seems just a little 'too much'.

...a mother who loves her kids to death, but will admit to feeling totally overwhelmed and exhausted by the gig.

Hello??? My middle name is exhaustion.

...a mother who doesn’t really care what other people think.

If I cared, I'm sure I would never have told you about the grey pubic hairs.

...a mother who thinks that all mothers win when we admit our weaknesses.

Did I mention that weakness was my other middle name?

So, there you go. Having established, that yes, I am the Scariest of scary mothers, how do I go about winning this thing?

Well, I have to submit a post by today (nothing like leaving it a little on the late side - further evidence that I am indeed very Scary), proving that very thing - that I am SCARY with a capital 'S'.

Now regular readers of this blog will have already read this one (well I did only write it three weeks ago). If I say the word 'massage', does that ring any bells? If not, then read on.

So here goes. Is this Scary enough for you, Scary Mommy?


And apparently Scary Mommy will take into account, when choosing the winner, the comments left at the end of the please lovely readers of my I not the Scariest of Scary Mummies???


Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Don't kill animals

Renée, my five-year old loves animals. When she grows up she wants to be a vet or a farmer, or a marine biologist or a zookeeper. Anything, in fact that means she will get to spend her days with animals. This evening, just before bed she asked me how to spell 'become', 'extinct' and 'future'. I had no idea what she was doing, but called out the spellings anyway.

What she had written almost brought tears to my eyes. So I just thought I'd share it with you.

Friday, 16 October 2009

She's Not my Daughter

There was once a time when I was an embarrassment to my husband. I know - surely not you cry? Not me. Not me of the effortless 'I just got out of bed and look gorgeous image'. Yes, I know - I do like to make myself laugh on a Friday morning.

But, yes. Me. Me dressed in an ill-fitting, so-huge-you-look-like-a-blamange-in-a-duvet ski suit who isn't able to (a) walk a step without tripping up in ski boots or (b) carry those stupid skis that won't stay together even if they're glued, let alone rest nonchalantly on my shoulder and allow me to look at least a little bit cool.

It was truly hideous. Did I ever say I hate Skiing? Well I do.

Husband, on the other hand, is not only French, but was born and brought up in the Alps. He is, I say through gritted teeth, the epitome of French cool. Remember that ski scene in James Bond - The World Is Not Enough or the one in Bridget Jones - The Edge of Reason? Well, he filmed them.

How we ever ended up together is anyone's guess.

But we did. And there we were, pre-children, pre-marriage, hanging out in Courchevel 1850 being cool. Well he was. I was just waddling after him trying not to slip up in those pesky ski boots.

And that's when it happened. The moment when I realised he was embarrassed by me.

'Oh hello (insert appropriate French name - I fear I may have blocked it out). So good to see you. It's been such a long time. No, no. I'm just here for the weekend. Oh right yes. This? This is my, er....friend, Emily'.

I grimaced.

Friend? Huh. Bloomin' cheek. I think the word you're looking for, husband-to-be, is girlfriend. Fiancée even. Future wife possibly. Partner. Love of my life. Anything. But not your bloody friend like we've just met and I've been hanging around like a bad smell.

So I think I may have not spoken to him for a while.

But it's fine. I'm over it. Really I am. Ahem.

Anyway, me dressed up as Bridget Jones isn't really the point of the story, but it's good to be reminded...

Because a couple of days ago I took my darling Renée, her of the 'I may only be 5, but I can swim and cycle and climb and run and generally do all the things my Papa can do just as easily', to the swimming pool. And do you know what? Part of me thinks it can't be true. But I'm going to confess anyway. I think I may have been a little bit embarrassed.

As I sat on the side of the pool, with the other Mothers (all of them who's children seemed to float, rather than sink), my heart fell. Why was she sinking? She's normally really good (of course she is, she's my daughter). But, seriously she is. She loves swimmng. And if she didn't, well she'd have no choice anyway because she's been going once a week since she was 4 months old and I dread to think how much money we would have wasted otherwise.

Now I'm still not sure what actually happened, other than the fact that she had temporarily forgotten how to swim, but when another Mother asked me which one my child was, rather than saying

'That one there. The one that's coughing and spluttering and sinking, and heaven forbid, possibly drowning',

I chose to be rather evasive, and instead muttered something along the lines of,

'Oh she's somewhere there. I can't really see her. They all look the same with their hats on, don't they?'

I am an awful mother.

Renéee I love you.

Husband you are forgiven. I finally understand.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Pregnancy Lows - where do I start?

When Peggy over at A Mother'Secrets asked for new posts on the subject of Pregnancy Lows, I have to admit to taking a huge breath in. I mean, seriously Peggy, how many posts can I submit? If it's not morning sickness, or bleeding, or the fear of miscarriage, then it's heartburn, leg cramps, sleepless nights, exhaustion, scary diagnosis during scans. The list of things to complain about during pregnancy really does go on and on and on.

I have a feeling that if you enjoyed your pregnancy, then you're one of the lucky few.

I hated being pregnant. In my case, it was nine months (or nearer ten as both mine were almost two weeks overdue) of pain and torture. I've already written about pregnancy weight and how depressed I felt at putting on five stone, but that wasn't all. During my first pregnancy, particularly, I suffered constant daily pain in the form of Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction, or SPD, where too much of the hormone 'relaxin' is released. What happens as a result of this is that the ligaments literally 'soften' in preparation for childbirth and the front part of the pelvis comes apart.

What that meant on a practical level was that it was excrutiatingly painful for me to open my legs. And no jokes here, please. That couldn't have been further from my mind. Save from sitting down and not moving, there wasn't much I was able to do. Every activity caused me pain, from walking and climbing stairs to turning over in bed at night and getting in and out of the car and bath.

Although anyone can suffer from SPD, I always felt like I was predisposed to it. It may be a joint and ligament problem, but the root cause is hormonal. And for me, that came as no surprise. A few years earlier I had been diagnosed with a pituitary tumour (something which Liz from Living with Kids has also experienced). The pituitary gland, which is situated at the front of your brain, controls all the hormones in your body. Although benign, the tumour had begun to press on my optic nerve and following a course of drugs, had failed to shrink. So eventually it was removed by breaking through my skull and literally sucking it out through my nose.

The results, thankfully, were great - so much so that I was actually able to get pregnant in the first place. However, I couldn't help but think that, as a result, my hormone production was slightly up the spout. Could my body have produced an excess of relaxin which in turn softened my ligaments just a little too much? Who knows. What I do know, though, is that whatever the cause, I spent the whole of my first pregnancy in hideous pain.

During my second pregnancy, at only two and a half months in, before I even had a bump to show for it, I was hit with the same agonising pain. I remember leaving the house one day, walking a few steps down the road and being stopped in my tracks. The pain was so bad I couldn't continue on my walk. I turned around, hobbled home and sat on the sofa and cried. To think that I had seven months of constant pain ahead of me was almost too much to bear.

But, just a few days later, I happened upon an article in a local magazine about an osteopath who specialised in pregnancy-related problems, including SPD. I made an appointment straight away. Unbelievably, I had managed to find someone who made possible all that was impossible during my first pregnancy. Thanks to him, not only was I able to move around relatively pain-free (which is just as well since by that time I had a toddler to look after), but I only put on three stone rather than five.

It's unfortunate that I hadn't had the benefit of his expertise during my first pregnancy, but I have to be thankful that I had it all. My first pregnancy was hideous, my second bearable. But, when I look at my two little monkeys, I wouldn't change it for the world. What's nine months of pain when you have an amazing little creature at the end of it all? Having said that, I won't be going through it again in the near future, if I can help it.

Babies are gorgeous. Pregnancy sucks...

Friday, 9 October 2009

Love for my stepdaughter

Not many of you know this, but as well as being Mother to my two little monkeys, I am also a step-mother to an almost 18-year-old. I haven't ever mentioned her on this blog because, well (a) I've never asked her permission (erm, still haven't actually, so Als - please don't hold this against me) and (b) she doesn't live with us, so on a day-to-day basis my role as step mother isn't a hugely active one. However, I've just read a thread for a discussion on British Mummy Bloggers about being a step parent, and I thought 'well yes, I guess that does apply to me', so in light of that, and the fact that she's coming to stay for the weekend, I thought I'd share with you a little bit about Alex.

I first met Alex when she was five years old, the age that Renée, my eldest is now. Her father and I had just worked together on our maiden job (filming a team climbing Mont Blanc) and we were collecting her from Lyon airport where she'd been staying with her grandparents, to bring her back home to Bath, where she still lives now. Although her father and I weren't 'together' at that point, I was already developing a little crush on him and was therefore anxious that his daughter would like me. (And before you start thinking of me as a hideous homewrecker, her parents had already split-up before we met...just thought I'd clear that up)!

'Can I brush your hair?' she asked me as we sat down at the cafe. 'Tu est tres jolie'. (And for those of you who don't speak French, she told me that I was very pretty). I knew we'd get along...(She also told me that I had hairy arms, but hey, I forgive her. She was five at the time).

And now she's almost 18 and I still find her just as enchanting as she was 13 years ago. I'd like to say that we've had our 'moments', but actually I can't remember a time when we haven't got on. She's been a teenager and slammed doors and wanted to wear clothes that weren't exactly appropriate for either the weather or her age, but I don't think we've ever argued about a thing.

Alex, correct me if I'm wrong. My memory isn't what it used to be! And besides, I still have manflu so my judgement could be somewhat clouded. But seriously, I love you and I care so much about you and despite the fact that you're now taller than me and have bigger boobs (yes, for those of you that know me I know that's not saying much - be kind), I will always feel protective of you.

Alex, my darling, you are amazing. You are everything I could ever hope for my daughters to be. You are so beautiful and bright and clever and funny and kind and kind of cool too. If I was your age, I'd want you to be my friend. I want to hang out with you and laugh and share all the things that you share with your friends. I look at you and know that you could do anything you ever wanted to do with your life. You have that special thing about you. You impress me. Thank you for being such a wonderful person, a fantastic stepdaughter and an amazing big sister.

This morning, your little sister, Edie, was in a bad mood...a two-year-old bad mood which involved a total refusal to cooperate in any way. She didn't want to get out of bed, she cried and made herself rigid when I attempted to put her clothes on, she ran away and hid when I told her that it was time to go to nursery. I thought 'Crikey, this is going to be a looooooong day', but then I remembered you were coming to stay for the weekend and I knew that the moment I told her, she would change her mood around.

And she did.

'Alex is coming to stay Edie', I told her. 'She'll be here tomorrow morning when you wake up'.

She stopped crying at once. She smiled. She even did a little dance. And in that one moment, I was so grateful for you, even though you weren't here, and I just wanted to let you know how much your sisters adore you, as we all do.

Thank you for always loving them and never once feeling resentful that they came along. You are a truly special person.

And by the way, don't think that you'll be sleeping in tomorrow morning because Renée has already told me that the first thing she's going to do when she wakes up is to jump on your bed.

You have been warned.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

I feel like sulking

I hate this weather. I really do. Not only have I had to trade in my flip flops for Winter boots (which I incidentally discovered, following a rather wet sock yesterday morning, have a hole in), but I also feel totally unmotivated to do anything other than sit in front of a computer googling hot countries and last minute getaways.

Oh yes, and eat chocolate biscuits.

And my husband is away so I can even eat chocolate biscuits for supper if I want to.

So that's what I'm doing.

I'm eating chocolate biscuits and feeling crap cos I'm eating chocolate biscuits.

And I think I have manflu coming on too, judging by the amount of Strepsils I have consumed in a single day and the very inconvenient moments at which my nose has chosen to run (whilst Tesco delivery man was asking if I was happy with the substitutions made and at a children's birthday party this afternoon whilst speaking to other mothers). In neither situation did I have a tissue at the ready.

So there you go. I'm ill and tired and can't think of one funny thing to write.

And to add insult to injury my husband has been sending me photos of what he's currently 'working' on.

Maybe I wouldn't be feeling so bad if he hadn't reminded me what my life used to be like before I became a Mother.

Hmph. I'm off to sulk.

And just in case you were concerned, no animals were harmed during the taking of this photo. He's a cameraman. And we used to work together.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Grey hairs in all the wrong places

I found my first grey hair when I was eight years old. Seriously. I discovered it during a Maths lesson. I remember it well because Maths lessons generally saw me sitting at the back of the class, desperately looking around for something else to do other than concentrate on what was laid out in front of me. At the time, I found twiddling my hair to be far more pleasurable.

And so it was in the midst of one of these twiddles that I happened upon the hair, glistening in all its glory amongst the brown ones.

I was shocked, but almost peversely delighted at this very grown-up discovery. I couldn't contain my excitement and felt I had to tell the teacher. I remember the fact that she thought it was paint.

But it wasn't.

And then slowly I discovered more.

And more.

But not all when I was eight. Don't worry. It did take a few years.

And then when I was in my early 20's I decided to experiment with highlights and before I knew it, someone had referred to me as blonde. I looked in the mirror and realised that they were right. But hey, at least it covered the grey.

And then a couple of years ago I discovered a grey eyebrow. I was incredulous. A grey eyebrow at 33? I pulled it out.

And thought nothing more of it.

That was until, I made an even more shocking discovery only a few days ago. One which I decided to share with my husband as we were lying in bed.

"I found grey pubic hairs you know", I told him.

He looked at me, eyes widening, a frown forming. I think I may even have detected distaste.

Crikey, I thought. It's not that shocking, is it? I mean, I do have a fair few on my head, a couple in my eyebrows, and well, isn't that just the natural progression?

I felt rather affronted at his reaction.

That was until I heard his response.

"Who do they belong to?"

I almost wet myself laughing.

For crying out loud husband. Who do you think they belong to? The postman?

They're mine you fool.

I think he cottoned on in the end...

Monday, 28 September 2009

Why a massage is never really that relaxing

I've been feeling rubbish recently. Rubbish, rubbish, rubbish. Tooth ache, back ache, arm ache, foot ache, stomach ache. You name it. If there's an ache to be had, then I've had it. I'm not sure if it's the fact that Summer is almost over and my body is, therefore, grieving, or the fact that my husband is off on a work trip for 30 days in just three days time (more on that over the next month I'm sure). But whatever it is, I seem to have been sent into a downward spiral and I could really do with a pick-me up.

A couple of days ago, in the midst of my general moaning and wailing, I remembered that I actually had, in my possession, a voucher for an hour's full-body massage, bought for me by my lovely husband, four whole months ago as a birthday present.

Now I'm not quite sure why I hadn't yet got round to relinquishing the voucher, apart from the fact that...


Can you tell my toothache hasn't quite subsided? (I actually have an emergency appointment booked in one hour's time, so please bear with me).

But desperate times and all that....

So off I limped whilst husband stayed at home to look after the mini terrorists.

The thing is, however much a massage is needed, or coveted, it's never really that relaxing is it?

I mean, as soon as you've settled down on the couch, hoping beyond hope that the therapist, poor love, won't adjust the blanket that you've carefully positioned to hide the over-stretched, definitely-seen-better-days g-string that you were determined to remember not to wear, but forgot anyway and the 'I've-had-two-children' wobbly bits, so inexpertly held-together by said g-string, do you then remember that you've also forgotten to shave your legs, or any other part of your body for that matter and each time she runs her hands up and down your legs, you flinch because not only are you worried for her safety (the bristles are fairly sharp), but it isn't all that comfortable for you either.

Of course, I'm not saying that this was what happened (ahem)...just that that's what normally happens in a massage. Isn't it?

And then after you've got over the embarrassment of wobbly bits and needle-like leg hairs, the temperature of the room, which you assured the therapist, only a moment ago was 'just right', suddenly becomes a bit too cold and all you can think about is that freezing draft of air that's making your feet feel as though they might just drop off.

But then when the therapist asks if everything's 'alright?', you still say 'yes', because, well, something else becomes even more distracting, like the fact that she's pumelling the one spot you didn't want her to touch and she's doing it with such aplomb that you swear she knows you're in pain and she's secretly paying you back for the leg hairs and you want to tell her to stop, but you're embarrassed because you told her you liked it 'firm', when at this precise moment, you'd like it anything but firm.

But then she moves from the now extremely tender point you didn't want her to touch and it's actually beginning to feel ok, possibly even rather relaxing. And the sound of the waves and the flickering of the candles and the smell of the lavender aren't even remotely annoying and you have a feeling that you might even drift off to sleep...


Oh no. Surely not. Please no. But you can feel it coming. Your heartrate quickens in panic. And your butt cheeks become so desperately tense in an attempt to stop the one thing that you were dreading.

A fart.

Yes, I said it. A fart. And it's coming. And you know if it does you might as well put your clothes straight back on and walk out because the embarrassment will be too much for your poor shame-faced self to handle. But she seems to be pumelling in just the wrong place and you so desperately try to hold it in, but all your attempts are futile. Of course it serves you right for having had that take away curry the night before, but you didn't think about the consequences as you were tucking into your chicken masala and onion bhaji.

Times freezes...

But there isn't any noise.


Maybe it didn't happen after all.

But then you realise, with horror, that it did.

And you realise that if you know it did, then she knows it did too.

But she's continuing to massage and some tiny part of your brain thinks that maybe you should say something. It's not so much a case of there being an elephant in the room, more like there's an elephant in the room and he's just left a huge pile of dung in the corner.

Like I said, this wasn't my massage. Heaven forbid...

And any attempts to rescue your dignity are further scuppered when you're asked to turn over and you fear that one look at your poor, 'I-once-breast-fed-my-children-for-quite-a-long-time' boobs will put the therapist off having children for life.

And then the hour is finished. And part of you wishes that it could have gone on just a wee while longer, but part of you is ready to dash home just as quickly as your poor bristly legs can carry you.

And that's all I'm saying on the subject of massages.

I think I will just have to look for a pick-me up elsewhere. In the meantime, I'm just off to the dentist.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Sleep deprivation? Not on your nelly...

When you're a blogging kinda gal, you get close to those around you - so when Josie from Sleep is for the Weak announced that she would be hosting a 'Sleep Deprivation' carnival, I wanted to help her out. The ony problem was, apart from laying awake all night trying to think about what to write for her (which she assured me didn't count as 'authentic' sleep deprivation), I really didn't know what I would write.

You see, the thing is, although I'm a Mother of two small children, I don't really suffer from sleep deprivation, as such. Yes, my favourite thing to say when people ask me how I am is 'exhausted', but that's more about the fact that I've been up fiddling around with the computer all night, rather than the fact that my children haven't been sleeping.

You see, they sleep rather well. Amazingly almost.

This morning I had to wake Renée up at 8 o'clock so she had time for breakfast before school. And Edie followed shortly after. They had both been in bed since 6.30 the night before.

And they hadn't woken up.

At all.


When I tell people about my children's sleeping, they often think I'm lying, or else, they tell me that I'm extremely lucky.

Lying. Why would I? When my child does a poo at a smart garden party and I manage to step in it, I tell you. When I am in tears because I think my (then) unborn child has a cleft lip, then I tell you. Why would I lie about their sleeping? It would be much more fun to tell you that they've both been up all night and I'm currently dying of exhaustion (and I'm sure it would elicit far more sympathy too). But that wouldn't be the truth.

But am I lucky? Well, yes, of course I am. BUT, that luck didn't just happen. I like to think that I made it.

There was once a time when I was dying of exhaustion, believe me. After giving birth to Edie, I was miserable. I was over the moon to have two beautiful children, but in truth, it was so much more work that I could ever have imagined. I loved having one child. I loved everything about it. I loved gazing at my adorable newborn and imagining that I was the only person ever to have such feelings of happiness. I slept when she slept, revelled in my new role as natural mother and truly thought I had found my vocation in life. So when Edie came along, I thought it would be even easier.

I was wrong.

Not only did she not sleep.

At all.


But she fed like a demon and I never seemed to have enough milk for her.

I remember when she was a tiny baby, she'd be awake all day and then I'd pray for her to sleep at night. Just an hour. Anything. But she wouldn't. Instead she'd toss and turn in her moses basket, fidget next to me, cry and fuss on top of me. And I'd cry too. So much. And just when she'd finally drop off to sleep, I'd catch a faint whiff of her tiny newborn nappy and I'd know that she'd have to be woken up for a change.

It was soul destroying.

When she would eventually find the knowhow to drop off to sleep, her big sister would wake up, full of joy and full of the energy of a two-year old.

In those early days of having two children I reckon I had two hours sleep a night and never was that in one go.

Like I said, I was miserable.

But instead of driving myself insane, which I could easily have done, I decided that I absolutely, definitely had to do something about it.

My husband works away from home a great deal and therefore, although I'm married, I often feel like a single Mother. And that means that the children are my responsibility, 24 hours a day. If the children don't sleep, then I don't sleep. And if they stay up all night, as my French in-laws would have them do, then I would never have a moment to myself. As much as I adore my children, I don't find that a very welcoming prospect.

So what did I do?

Controlled crying is what.

You've probably heard of it. And if you have then you either find it a barbaric thought, or you swear by it. I fall into the latter category, as does Really Rachel who wrote a post about it too.

I'm not sure you need boring with the finer details. I think Really Rachel gives a good account.

All I can say is - it took three nights. That's all. Edie was about seven or eight months old. Not yet able to pull herself up and rattle the sides of the cot or shout 'Mama' (as Renée had done a couple of years earlier). It was hideous, obviously, to hear my darling child cry and wail. But it was more hideous, for both of us, to get no sleep.

They are now five and almost three and they both sleep like a dream.

I don't wake up in the morning feeling like I've drunk five bottles of wine (chance would be a fine thing). And they don't spend the day getting cranky or whiny.

They love their sleep.

And so do I.

Night night my friends....

Friday, 18 September 2009

Award Overload

Right lovely people, brace yourselves for an award overload. There are rules and lists that come with these, but please, please don't ask me to do them. I'll be here for two days instead of just one! And besides, by the time you read to the end, you probably would have fallen asleep anyway.

Ok, first award. It's the Zombie Chicken given to me by Really Rachel. Thank you lovely lady. This is my favourite award (which, ahem...I think I have already, but I can't ignore the passing on bit). So here's the bit that goes with it...

"The blogger who receives this award believes in the Tao of the zombie chicken – excellence, grace and persistence in all situations, even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. These amazing bloggers regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their inspiring words. As a recipient of this world-renowned award, you now have the task of passing it on to at least 5 other worthy bloggers. Do not risk the wrath of the zombie chickens by choosing unwisely or not choosing at all."

And here are the very worthy recipients...

Another Day in the Madhouse
The Potty Diaries
A Mothers' Secrets
The World from My Window
The Wife of Bold
In the Gutter
Frogs and Sprogs
Metropolitan Mum

The second award is the Over the Top Award given to me by Muddling Along Mummy. Now despite it being called 'over the top', I am assured that this is meant in a 'your blog is fabulous darling' way, so thank you kind lady, I shall pass it on to some more 'over the top' blogs...

Not Supermum
Lady Mama
The Audacity of an Optimistic Pessimist
Brits in Bosnia
And 1 More Means 4
New Mummy

The third award was given to me by the wondrous Amy at And 1 More Means 4. Thanks honey. It's the Great Read Award (ahem, cough...have it already), but must still pass it on. So without further ado, here are some more Great Reads...

Being a Mummy
Mummy Do That
Not Wrong, Just Different
Not Waving, but Drowning
You've got your Hands Full

Now it won't surprise you to learn that the 'hardly a wallflower' Rebel Mother at Another Day in the Madhouse has given me this award. It's the Bloody Brilliant award and will sit very nicely next to my other, rather rude award in my sidebar. Thanks sweetie pie. Oh yes, I almost forgot - some worthy recipients...

Reasons to Be Cheerful 1, 2, 3...
Snaffles Mummy
Muddling Along Mummy
A Mother's Ramblings
Insomniac Mummy
Life with a Little Dude

Ok, last one I promise.... This is the I Love Your Blog given to me by Snaffles Mummy. Thank you, thank you ever so much. I love my blog too!!! Hee hee... And the final list - I hereby pass it on to some more blogs which I love, love, love.

Brighton Mum/Teenage Angst
Really Rachel
Diary of a Surprise Mum
West of the Pennines
Café Bébé
Magnumlady's Blog
Working Mum on the Verge

And if I haven't given you an award today, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. It might be because I've already given you one or because you already have them, or just because my brain is frazzled and I've lost track of who I've given what to. Please don't take it personally!

And if you did get an award, then please let me give you this little bit of advice - DO NOT hang on to it for as long as me, or else you'll spend the best part of a day putting the post together! I can not tell how long this has taken me to compile.

Ahem. Hubby is not happy!

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

It's the small things...

So I'm sitting here tapping away at the computer, annoyed, frustrated and generally extremely pissed off because the car has chosen to break down on the one morning that I really need it.

And then Edie runs in, shouting,

'Mummy, Mummy. Look at me. Look what I can do. Mummy look.'

I glance up, struggling to muster a smile, all thoughts elsewhere, but I manage it, for Edie's sake.

Judging by the tone of her voice and the excitement with which she's demanding my attention, it will be something new and wondrous.

Instead she lies on her back and kicks her legs in the air like an upside down tortoise.

'That's fantastic Edie', I say, not wanting to burst her bubble.

She stands up and leaves the room with pride etched all over her face.

And now I'm smiling.

I tell you, when you're a parent, it's the small things that make you feel all glowy.


In the meantime, New Mummy is hosting the bi-weekly British Mummy Blogging Carnival. Click HERE to have a peek. There are 42 posts.!!!! Yes...42. Could take you all night to read them...

Friday, 11 September 2009

I don't care - As long as it's healthy

So what's one of the first things people ask you when you tell them that you're pregnant? (Well, yes, apart from How did that happen? and Was it an accident?)

One of the most common questions is:

Are you going to find out the sex of the baby?

Well I, for one, who can't keep a secret, hates not knowing everything and is a tad impatient, absolutely had to find out.

With our first child, it wasn't quite so simple. The baby just wasn't letting us know and despite running up and down the hospital stairs, munching on a bar of chocolate and going to the loo in an attempt to get the baby to change position, it refused to move its hands away from its privates.

'It' turned out to be a 'she'. We called her Renée.

When I then became pregnant with my second, people seemed to be keener than ever, on our behalf, to find out the sex.

You must want a boy?
Don't you?

Erm, no not really. A girl would be just as good (if not better)!

But yes, again we wanted to know the sex. I wanted Renée to know if she would be having a brother or sister more than anything. I wanted her to bond with the baby before it arrived.

It just so happened that my husband was away for the 20-week scan, the anomaly scan, the scan where they can tell you the sex of the baby. He was working in New Zealand...just about as far away as was possible. But it didn't matter. He'd been there for the 12-week scan and I was planning on texting him the news just as soon as I heard. He was waiting. As were friends, grandparents on both side, brothers and sisters. Everyone wanted to know.

I'd left Renée with a friend whilst I went for the scan. The last thing I wanted was a wriggly, impatient toddler to deal with. But as I sat there in the waiting room I wanted someone to share the moment with. I was excited and I wanted her to be excited too.

The sonographer called me into the room and after a bit of chit-chat, they squirted the cold jelly on my tummy and showed me my baby's heartbeat on the screen.

I held my breath.

"I'd like to know the sex, if possible" I said.

I didn't want to jump ahead, but I couldn't contain myself.

"All in good time", the sonographer replied, smiling at me.

I looked at the screen and saw the clenched fists and jerky legs of my baby, the large head and the long spine and I knew that I could never be disappointed, whatever the sex.

I looked back at the sonographer again, smiling as I did so. She didn't look at me this time. Instead she left the room and returned with what looked like another sonographer. They pointed at the screen, looked at each other, spoke in medical terms I didn't understand, looked over at me and then at the screen again. And then she came over to me.

"We think your baby has a cleft lip, or a cleft palate - we can't be sure. Are you familiar with what that is?"

I nodded my head, but I couldn't speak. I thought about the pictures of babies and small children I'd seen in the newspaper supplements - "Donate £1 and help give these children a better life". They all had cleft lips - where both sides of their faces hadn't fused properly and the lips are left unjoined right up to the nose.

I wanted to cry. I wanted my husband, my toddler, anyone.

"Are you alright?" the sonographer asked.

I nodded again.

"Oh, and she's a girl by the way."

I was lead back out to the waiting room. How different everything looked now. In the space of five short minutes the whole room had changed. There were people who I had chatted with before, still sitting, waiting for their turn. They smiled at me.

I just stood there shaking. A baby girl. With a cleft lip. I knew it wasn't the end of the world. I knew it could be fixed easily with surgery. But still. I wanted my perfect baby to be blemish-free. Renée was beautiful. I didn't want Edie, because that was her name now, living in the shadow of her elder sister. I didn't want her to be the ugly one. I felt protective of her already. Protective and just a little bit sad.

I was lead into another room and offered tea with lots of sugar. I hate sugar in tea, but they made me drink it 'for the shock'.

Three doctors stared back at me.

"Lots can be done you know. Surgery these days is fantastic. Don't you worry. We'll put you in touch with the right people. You'll hardly see a scar."

I don't remember saying much. But I do remember leaving the hospital, standing on the street corner and crying. And then I remember wanting to hear my Mother's voice. So I called her.

"Mum, it's me."

"Darling! Is it a boy or a girl? We're all dying to hear."

I burst into tears again.

And then I texted my husband in New Zealand.

"Can I call you? I need to speak to you."

I got a text back.

"It's the middle of the night. Just tell me. Is it a girl or a boy?"

I texted back.

"It's a girl. And she has a cleft lip".

He called. And I cried. And he cried too.

Ten days later, when he returned from New Zealand, I had another scan. This time the specialist was called in. He wasn't sure whether she had a cleft lip or not.

"Possibly not" were his words.

We weren't sure.

I spent the next four months trying to be brave.

And then I went into labour. And I warned the midwifes that she might have a cleft lip. I didn't want them to be shocked and not know how to tell me.

It was my first question when she came out.

"Does she have a cleft lip?"

Turns out she didn't.


Girl or boy. I don't care. As long as they're healthy. And that's the truth.


This post will be featured on A Mother's Secrets, the new website from Peggy at Perfectly Happy Mum. Do click on the links to read other Parenting posts.