Monday, 27 October 2008

Is It Just How The Cookie Crumbles?

Saturday found me doing my best impression of Natural Born Mummy, baking Halloween shaped cookies with Small Child. As a hangover from my career days I congratulated myself on my multi tasking approach to this scenario. Not only was I doing something that I find totally alien, i.e. letting Small Child make a mess in the kitchen but I was also embracing a festival (albeit an American one that seems to be sneaking it's way further into our culture year upon year), in a very Natural Born Mummy fashion indeed!

In my opinion, and others have disagreed with me on this matter which is kind of comforting, I think I am officially missing the NBM gene. I try my hardest to be a good mum and most of the time I do a good job but here's the thing... lean in cos I'm going to whisper it...... it doesn't come naturally to me. I'm whispering because being an NBM is to the noughties what being a yuppy was to eighties. Only, the red braces have been replaced with slings that hold your child steadfast to your bosom, stiletto's have been superseded by Crocks, pads have slipped from your shoulders into your bra because everyone HAS to breast feed and heaven forbid if you are not at least a member of one mother and baby activity group that involves teaching your little one to sign/play an instrument/swim under water aged 2 weeks/crochet pot holders!

The more I read lately, the more I see the whole "You can be a working mum and have it all" concept being shunned for the option to stay at home and be a "Have it all/make it all/do it all Super Mum"! Don't get me wrong - I think we should choose to do whatever is right for us as individuals and bugger what anyone else thinks.  Having tried both I much prefer my current mix of less work, more Small Child time. It's just that, like my cookies, I just crumble under the pressure sometimes! I really try and be Laid Back Mummy but find myself trying to retain vestiges of control that really aren't appropriate when you have kids!

I hate it when Small Child makes a mess! Art/cooking/creative stuff always has to be done in a controlled, supervised environment and leaves me hopping about like Monica at a cocktail party without drinks coasters! I'm sure you would have laughed if you'd seen the look on my face as I let her spoon the icing sugar into the Magimix and watched in despair as little clouds fluttered to the floor, via the worktop/stool/apron/my feet! 
I lose my patience far more than I should when we get into those debates that only come with a three and a half year old girl who wants to do dolly steps to the bathroom when you're itching to get downstairs for a glass of post bedtime wine, put on both tights and socks at the same time or wear a fleece when its ninety degrees outside!
I really do try and suppress my inner control freak and pick my battles but Oh My God do I ever find it hard! 

I know I'm not the first mother to admit to reading Grazia over the top of my child's head as she sits on my lap watching pre bedtime television or opening a bottle of wine at 5.00pm on a Sunday because I really need to numb the pain of numerous return trips to the naughty corner, but sometimes it sure does feel like it! If I were at Good Mummy School, my report card would read "Must try harder" and "Could do better". So I'm working on it but I'll never make Head Girl! 

Although.... I do admit to feeling somewhat smug as the smell of chocolate cookies permeated the air in our house for a brief period on Saturday; that was until I accidentally doctored one of the cat shaped cookies by shoving it into a container with too much force and breaking off it's tail! 
And needless to say, it was the inner NBM gene that made me photograph the best three cookies from the batch!  

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Things That Make You Go Hhmmm...

Click these to see which kind of Hhmm you get!

Hhhmm... not sure how it will translate but we can all now be Carrie Bradshaw by shopping at Marks & Spencers!
Apparently whilst stocking up knickers, winter tights and prawn sandwiches, you will be able to channel your inner Carrie, Charlotte or Miranda and get yourself a slice of your very own Patricia Field apparel! I know it may not appeal to all but personally I can't wait. I have always been prone to a bit of fashion freakishness now and again!

Big news or maybe I've been asleep and you knew before me but Madonna and Guy Ritchie are officially getting divorced. Hhhmm... I think that, if it's true (and I've read it so many times in Grazia already!), that it's really sad. I am also amazed that with their life, high profile and constant press intrusion it didn't happen years ago. 

John McCain and Sarah Palin. They make me go Hhhmm.... a lot. I don't profess to know a lot about American politics but from what I do know and see... those two make me uncomfortable and I really hope Obama gets in. 

Shoes....Hhmmm! Look at these Dior babies from the movie of the year! I love them even though they would make me look more hooker than hottie Manhattan babe! But a woman can dream can't she?! Which leads very nicely onto Lipstick Jungle. This has more than filled the empty Gossip Girl void in my viewing selection. Brooke Shields has come a long way since Blue Lagoon... Hhmm... dig that curly hair!

And finally,who sang that bloody song "Things That Make You Go Hhmm.." anyway? Answers on a blog postcard please!

Monday, 13 October 2008

Once Upon A (Second) Time...

It’s rare that real life echoes a fairy tale; especially one that comes good on the first attempt! I had to kiss a few frogs and have three serious relationships with lily pad dwelling amphibians before I found my handsome prince. Me being me, I even stupidly sent my prince away before I realised he was The One. But whoever said that the path to true love was a smooth one had obviously been at the “special” fairy toadstools!

As mentioned previously, one frog was a first husband who really shouldn’t have been allowed to leave the frogspawn pool, as he clearly wasn’t ready to interact with the human race. One was a good frog who taught me a lot and helped me grow into the rounded, (sometimes) levelheaded maiden I like to think I am now. Unfortunately we ended up being more like Hansel and Gretel than the happy king and queen so things came to a natural end. Although… his mum and I are still in touch and she is truly my real life fairy godmother! And then came the evil two timing, lecherous toad who really did deserve to be banished to a place far, far away where time should always forget. I never quite managed this but after I kicked him out, twice, he did feck off to Australia, which is a pretty good alternative as far as distance goes!

It was actually after evil toad hopped off that I sorted my life out, bought my first flat and quickly met Other Half – I’d admired him from afar at the office but to no avail as he was courting another princess at the time. Unbeknown to me, him and this particular princess were not all about happy endings either and it wasn’t until at the office Christmas lunch party that my lovely, match making friend J came running up to me to gleefully announce that she’d heard my office crush was newly single – as of three days ago!

Not one to waste any time I made a move – well… I am no strumpet, but seriously, I would’ve had to slap him around the face with a wet fish to make him realise I was flirting with him! To cut a long story short, we got together at the evening version of the above party a few days later and had an amazing couple of months before I got a huge attack of cold feet and ended it. Only later, when we got back together did I realise how much I’d hurt him and it makes me sad when I think about it to this day.

Fast forward to eighteen months later, me being essentially single apart from some random dates, a couple of very short term boyfriends and also having been working on some absent father, unhinged mother and evil toad issues, I finally had my epiphany. Other Half had been working in another building for a while and although we’d said brief, curt hellos at various office do’s, I hadn’t seen him properly for some time.

He walked in, on a Cowboy and Indian’s office fancy dress day no less, and I took one look at him and nearly hyperventilated when it hit me what I’d given up. (No – he wasn’t dressed as the Marlborough Man before you ask, although he might as well have been!)

I emailed him, he emailed back, we agreed to meet for a non-date (which would be a whole other blog post!), and a week later we knew this was it – here and now and never mind what happened before. Within four months we’d moved in, three months later we were engaged, (definitely another blog post) and married a year later with Small Child arriving less than a year after that! You can ask me how I knew he was the one after 33 years of searching and I could either list a million things or just resort to the classic fairy tale ending of "you just know".

Either way, I will be telling my little girl that you should always believe in happy endings… sometimes it just takes a while before you find yours. 

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Ouch...and... I Beg Your Pardon?!?

It turns out The Freckle was not to be beaten into submission as I had hoped it would! Yesterday, I took it's dainty arse off to the dermatologist just to be sure that it was nubbin... I mean nothing! That one will only work for die hard Friends fans - sorry! 
But... hooray ... it was declared that, as it was growing again (WTF is this thing I begin to ask myself at this point), they decided to lop it off! So, one large needle into the side of my nose, right near the bone, and the smell of burning flesh later  - sorry if it's too graphic but I was there and you weren't - my little friend was gone and whisked off to be examined under the microscope with results promised in three weeks!

I ripped the plaster and dressing off this morning as it was driving me crazy; I could see the darn thing just under my lower lashes - only to see that what was causing the discomfort was not the removed object but the big lump where they'd jabbed in the local anesthetic! Oh well... two lumps are better than one!

As for the second part of today's post - classic conversation with Small Child in front of the local priory today. No - I haven't gone all religious on you... we just happened to be walking that route back from feeding the ducks. 
SC - "Can I run  over there by those stones?"
Me - "No you can't"
SC - "Why not?"
Me - (at this point I was sorely tempted to say "Because I said so" but I didn't - foolishly)
Me - "Because they are grave stones"... pause... wait for it .....
SC - "What are grave stones?"
Me - "Well... when people die, sometimes they choose to be buried and they might have a grave stone to mark the spot so we shouldn't run about over it out of respect"  (At this point am thinking sh*t... why did I get into this?!?)
Me - "Now get back in the push chair and let me do the straps up"
SC  - "Why?"
Me - "Cos if I bump you off the kerb with no straps you might fall out"
SC - "Will I die?"
Me - "No sweetheart - you wont die - I'm sure you'll live to be ancient - 100 even"
SC - "Just like you mummy"

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Small Child In The City

Saturday morning came around not bright but definitely early, as we set off to London for Small Child's first ever city break! Technically it was not the very first as she did accompany us to Barcelona as a foetus, though I doubt she would remember much! Other than perhaps how she temporarily put me off Spanish food... and I love Spanish food! Every time I got so much as a whiff of chorizo or smoked ham I wanted to throw up! Even more mortifying was that in a city of culture, great food and trendy eateries, my main mission of the weekend was to seek out a bloody McDonald's - god damn pregnancy hormones!

Anyway, back to London! Seeing as she'd been building up to the trip for weeks we had no worries about it not meeting her expectations; that's the beauty of being three I guess - far more easily pleased than her mother. Unless it involves shoe shopping, champagne or just shopping at some stage of the game, I would be setting myself up for a fall!
After a quick photo op with Big Ben, we wandered through St James' Park where she was enthralled with the inquisitive squirrels. Not so long ago she would have climbed up my leg if one had so much looked in her direction but not so now, my brave little Dr Dolittle! She was highly amused that they were willing to come so close and nearly burst with excitement when one tried to climb up into her push chair. Mind you she wasn't in it at the time, I think it may have been a different story if she was!

A quick taxi ride, (one of the things on her list of must do's) past Buckingham Palace bought the expected questions of "Where is the queen?", "Is that her house?", "Why can't we go in?" etc etc. One of the preschool ladies had the forethought to pre-empt this and said that if we didn't see her it would be because her madge-ness was probably taking a bath - go with whatever works I say and it did!
Onto Frankies in Knightsbridge for food.... great venue for a family lunch and then, once Small Child was napping due to far too much stimulation for one morning, we visited The Mother Ship... aka Harvey Nichols!! I was good and stayed within the boundaries of the cosmetics hall and actually only bought something I had gone in there for! At the risk of sounding like a complete beauty product junkie (which I am), I Love, Love, Love my new Eve Lom cleanser... it's only taken me thirty nine and a half years to find it but it was worth the wait! 
Small Child then had her own shopping epiphany at Hamleys! "Mummy it's the Biggest Toy Shop in the World!" And her prize possession? A Bob The Builder phone... she's slept with it ever since!

The hotel room was excellent although the promised kids VIP pack took some tracking down so service not that great. This didn't matter as we choose to hole up in our family room which consisted of two separate sleeping areas, bathroom and kitchenette all in a minimalist, modern style. It had the added bonus of the two of us being able to crash in front of the TV with wine and M&S curry whilst Small Child slept soundly around the corner! (We know how to live!)  
Sunday bought the rain so it was coffee on Regent street, a fruitless search in H & M for kiddies jeans to no avail, a new winter coat for me from Reiss, followed by lunch at John Lewis on Oxford Street. I think Other Half was secretly relieved that poor visibility meant that the London Eye was off the cards - not good with heights that one! 

One taxi cab, a train ride, another taxi, (good old engineering works) and a car journey later, we were back home. It's good to go away but it's great being back home and now I just need to catch up in blog world... once I've caught up with work, washing and normal life in general! 

Friday, 3 October 2008

Breaking All the Rules!

Who says you can't mix vertical and horizontal stripes? I think Small Child demonstrates here that you can break the fashion rules and still be perfectly stylish! The chosen outfit was specially selected by her good self, for our open day visit to the village school that she'll attend next year.

I must admit I went along with some trepidation as my school days don't exactly hold the same happy, fluffy, secure memories  that nursery and preschool have provided for our little girl so far.
I'm pleased to report that we were completely blown away by the environment, staff, happy atmosphere and year six pupils who showed us around. My... how things have changed! I don't ever remember being that confidant, eloquent and polite at the age of ten!

Small Child had been counting down the number of sleeps until the school visit and woke up full of beans.... at ...(fanfare please)... 8.45!!! Complete bonus on our sneaky mid week day off! She then informed us that she didn't want us to come to the school with her but to "leave me there on my own please", and when it was time to leave... she flatly refused! At some point during the proceedings her and Other Half disappeared; upon their return when asked where they'd got to, he leaned in and whispered "Biggus Dumpus" in my ear! After I'd recoiled in horror and shot him a "You Didn't?" look, he shook his head and gestured towards the culprit,  seeming quite proud that his daughter had already made her mark in the school toilets!

Feeling completely buoyed up by a great day, we then snuck across the road to our local for a quick drink, bumping into the wedding coordinator from our reception venue who was also in there with his wife and same age daughter. This made me feel slightly less of a bad parent for going from school to pub for a sneaky afternoon half!  I wonder if they would go for holding the PTA meetings there?      

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Precious Life

A battle as to whether I write about this has been raging in my head all day but I'm hoping it will help me to eventually stop thinking about it if I do.

Yesterday I stopped behind a queue of about five cars in our village wondering what the hold up was. When I saw people running back down the street, two of them young girls in tears, I feared the worst as we were on the approach to the cross roads where the school children gather on their way home. A lady who had been near the front drove back down the line stopping to tell us that a child had been knocked over so we all started to turn around one by one. As I drove back the way we came, hearing the approaching sirens, I flagged down the oncoming traffic to tell them to stop and go back too, all the while, my little girl in the back asking questions that I didn't know how to answer. 
The local radio news at seven this morning woke me confirming our worst fears that a twelve year old boy had been killed at the crossroads.

Before becoming a parent, I don't really remember how I responded to situations such as these. I'm now all too painfully aware of the sick, shaky feeling in my stomach every time I think about the parents who are left behind and how they ever find the strength to carry on after losing a child. I'm aware of how I want to cuddle my daughter to me every second of the day and tell myself that I must fight the urge to wrap her up in cotton wool when it comes to things like walking to school one day. I'm aware that I remember again the feelings I had two years ago when we were first on the scene when a little girl was knocked down and killed outside my mother in laws house.
Every parent hopes that they never have to think how they would react if it were them and every parent understands exactly what I'm talking about.    

Equally, I'm sure that we have all at one time or another cursed the person in front of us who is sticking rigidly to the speed limit or taken our attention off the road for a split second to listen more carefully to what our kids are babbling about in the back. I know I have, but after placing a second bunch of flowers to mark the spot where a precious life has been lost, I vowed never to again.